Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Is being a Buddhist a deal breaker?

Last week we had another inquiry about a child in the States. Actually in a state my husband happens to be visiting in a few weeks for business. The director of our adoption agency asked me if we considered ourselves a Christian couple. Mmmm. No. That was the end of that. There's a reason why I mention that I'm a Buddhist in our profile. (And left out the part about my husband being an atheist.) I was concerned about it naturally because most people don't really know what a Buddhist is. Other than the most relevant point that a Buddhist does not believe in God. And that we wear orange robes, live in incensed filled homes and praise a smiling, fat Buddha statue. I don't want to get all excited and fly somewhere to meet a birth mum and then have to answer the inevitable religion question. It's odd that it could be a deal breaker since if this birth mother is Christian she is 1) "unexpectedly" knocked up 2) not married and 3) considering giving up parental rights to a child that her family/community won't help her raise. Perhaps it's just a comfort level thing. Would someone who has a better insight explain this to me? Teendoc just recently had her child baptised and it was a really big deal for her. It's a beautiful, touching and powerful ritual I know. Even though we were both baptised, I could not make the same promise.

I was raised Christian myself, going to church, Anglican, evangelical (okay my mum dragged us to this one and I read comics or Nancy Drew because the falling down and speaking in tongues freaked me out) and as an adult, Unity. I can't say I've read the entire bible, end to end, but I've read most of it, I really did look for answers. I sat in the pews and listened to the priests and it all sounded nice but somewhat hollow. I've received Holy Communion and drank the wine. I went to Baptist, Catholic, Protestant and United services. I've even had my spiritual moments. But what repulsed and disappointed me in the end was the astounding hypocrisy of so called believers. From laypeople to priests, I've seen the most disgusting behaviour, such indifference, such arrogance and moral laziness. Humanity is far from perfect I know and I don't blame God for that. However, when I was introduced to Buddhism, it was more of a philosophy that I could really understand in my heart. I was not required to denounce Christianity or anything else.
(As a matter of fact, most of the heated finger wagging comes from the former Catholics.)

It was another way of looking at the world, and the most empowering aspect was that I was accountable for the sanctity of my life and others. Just me. I am a Buddha. You are a Buddha. I don't worship a Buddha idol, I don't wear orange robes, and yes, I eat meat. My meditation is a chant that you say out loud. It gives me hope and courage and determination in the midst of happiness and in the midst of suffering. I try to help and encourage others. How is that a deal breaker?

A Buddhist goes up to a hot dog vendor and the hot dog vendor says, "What will you have?" and the Buddhist says, "I'll have one with everything." The vendor charges him $3.50 so the Buddhist gives him $5, but the vendor doesn't give him anything back. The Buddhist says, "Hey, what about my change?" and the vendor says, "Change comes from within."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Oh, the weight of it all!

Had a strange week this week. Had a couple of auditions, but wasn't feeling particularly energetic about that even though there's been quite the lull since the writer's strike. Was feeling blah, blah, blah. Anemia, I don't know. Tired. Weepy. True I had my period, but I generally feel better after a couple of days. And thanks to the uterine artery embolization, that was a little weird. It was more like heavy spotting instead of the usual Red River Valley. I have to admit, that whole talk about my husband's fears of me getting pregnant spooked me. And a couple of my favourite IF bloggers received BFPs. Oh, yeah, IVF does actually work. Nice to know cause they've been at it a while and I'm relieved and happy for them. But all the talk of POAS got me thinking - I want to pee on a stick too! What is wrong with me? I've become lethargic about the going to the gym (missed a couple of days, thank goodness, I twisted my knee - too much chanting on my knees?) and hence I didn't go to my Weight Watchers this morning. Couldn't face that nazi scale that might tell me I've gained 0.8 lbs. That would have totally fucked with my day. I think I've hit a plateau and need to go hardcore again. Sigh. I want a bag of chips. Seriously.

I had dinner with my MIL last weekend. She asked me how I felt about my weight loss, did I feel really great about it and wasn't I so proud of myself and all that. Yeah, I feel good about it, my gut is definitely smaller in the mirror, and my clothes are hanging off me, but I'm not all that thrilled. Nothing fits and I don't have money for a new wardrobe so every time I get ready to go out somewhere I have to pin up my pants. And I still have at least 10 - 20 more lbs to go. I'm kind of in between sizes at the moment. Dear hubby is thrilled and compliments me all the time. Yet, I knew who I was 20 lbs ago, and I knew that my life wasn't magically going to change even if I could fit into a smaller size. Come to think of it, when I was a size 10 oh so many years ago, I wasn't happy cause I wasn't a size 8. Had I known the retail purgatory awaiting for me at size 14 and size 16, I would have stopped eating. This is what happens when you're an actress and you're constantly surrounded by size 0 - 4 people. And that's the guys.

Hubby asked if I had done the Dear Birth mom letter, etc. I haven't. Nor have I looked into getting an immigration ID for a US adoption. Why not you may ask? Cause I'm too busy reading IF blogs? Going to the gym? Mmmm. Dragging my heels, I think. Not only am I famous for procrastinating on paperwork of any sort (let's not talk about taxes), I'm feeling decidedly unenthusiastic. Not that I've changed my mind about adoption at all. But I'm definitely hanging on to something in the past. Resentment, grief, distrust? I don't know. I'm responsible for my own life condition, I know, but I'm just blah about a lot of things at the moment. I'll figure it out. Now wonder I want chips, which is what I'll have right after I get back from spin class.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Perfect Day

It's a beautiful day today and I guess I should be out enjoying it. The park will be busy today, full of tourists and locals alike, walking, cycling, jogging. And of course, dogs pulling their owners around. I can look out my window and see parents with their children in strollers, or toddlers stopping to examine every little this and that.

I was talking to a friend the other day as she examined every little twinge, feeling, or temperature reading that was either taking her to or away from conceiving. It was great talking to her, keeping her company. I'm not on the TTC train with her of course. It's more like I'm texting her encouraging messages while I'm on another train, the ADOPTION train. Like her, I have no idea of where my stop is or when I will get off or what the town will look like when I get there. My journey and destination will be different. How so? I'm preparing our "press kit" of our lives, trying to find pictures that will attract a young woman to choose us, a compelling story of our urban lives, some letter to touch her heart. And I'll have an entourage waiting for me: a birth mum, lawyers, agencies, immigration officials, social workers and most importantly, a child who just wants to be loved and cared for.

I remembered my first embryo transfer; is it like remembering your first kiss? They put in two 3 day embryos (no blastocysts or eggs left over for freezing from that cycle but I didn't care; I only needed one), and I was enjoying a calm, slow walk in the woods with my dog. It was warm and sunny, I could smell the green of the trees, and feel pockets of warm air all around me. I had been chanting for hours every day, I'd been working out and felt fit and strong. I had done all the hard work, covered all the angles and to boot, I had plunked down my money for science to fix the problem. I was calm and assured that all was well. And my temperature was perfect that morning. I walked carefully so I wouldn't stumble over a tree root and fall down. I talked to my babies and I KNEW that they were there. It was a perfect day.

It's one of those memories you put in a box and bring out on a rainy day.... or a sunny day.

Here's to wishing for another perfect day when I bring my kosen rufu* baby home.

Kosen-rufu: Literally, to "widely declare and spread (Buddhism)." To secure lasting peace and happiness for all humankind through the propagation of true Buddhism; world peace

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Do these pants make me look fertile?

This Valentine's was a little different. Stick with me here. First of all we went out for dinner last night, as we had dance class tonight and what could be more romantic than the rumba? Also, most restaurants are booked solid and rush you through dinner so they can have another seating. So hubby made reservations at a beautiful Italian restaurant owned by a well known chef. It was beautiful and romantic. (side note, as I was getting ready I discovered that the satin strapless top I bought last year, no longer fits me, nor did my sexy, black pants with side slits. I tried to pin the top to my bra so it wouldn't slide down, that didn't work, so I switched tops. I pinned the pants at the back.) Dinner was long and leisurely and the food was exquisite, we talked and talked. And then we realized that last year, we were having Valentine's dinner during the 2 ww, and 2 yrs before that the same thing happened. I remembered how excited and hopeful we were. Needless to say this time, I guzzled my wine with no guilt and much relief.

When we got home, we retired to the boudoir, me slipping on a satin nightshirt. And we continued to talk, but it started going sideways for some strange reason. Hubby seemed to be deliberately trying to pick a fight with me. All week, he was constantly snuggling me at night and now he wouldn't even reach out to touch me. And then I recalled a conversation we had a couple weeks ago where he confided that he was really worried that I would get pregnant since my UAE procedure. I thought he was over that since we've made love since then, but apparently not. It was a week full of sweet words, affection and massive snuggling, but also a lot of book reading and fatigue and yes, even a headache. We eventually decided to stop talking and get busy, but we talked it out the next morning.

He apologized and admitted he was still worried that I would get pregnant, and because of my age, my old decrepit eggs and Down's syndrome statistics it would end disastrously, and send us plunging down in the depths again. Don't even say that out loud. He even started to grill me about when my last period was. (Fuck, I'm more worried about menopause.) Now you have to realize that last weekend, we found out a friend has miscarried at 3 months (for the 2nd time) and that another friend of hours had had 2 miscarriages in the past 7 months. And another close friend just did their first IUI, so conception and/or pregnancy loss is in the air.

The thought had occurred to me as well, but I have no fantasies about my UAE giving me a whole new uterus. Or fresher eggs. I've been perfectly happy that I can walk the dog for 45 minutes without having to pee. I told him, honey, I haven't managed to get pregnant in the whole decade we've been together, on our own or with incredibly expensive drugs and a legion of scientists, this is not the time to worry about it.

So tonight we danced the rumba (great), waltz (we sucked) and fox-trotted, laughed til we cried, and had Dairy Queen (the ice cream sandwich is only 3 points!)

Who knew that looking fertile could be a problem?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Biology 101

Had a bit of a rant on the weekend. One of my Buddha-zilla moments where I rant about the hypocrosies of life. The utter unfairness of it all.

The abandoned baby girl left to die in a freezing stairwell of a mall in Ontario. The children who froze to death because their dad passed out drunk while carrying them outside in a blizzard.

I saw the Oprah show regarding young adults whose biological fathers were sperm donors. Some were content to just find out who they were and a couple were adamant about having the right to know who their fathers were and ideally wanted to have a relationship with them or any other siblings. They felt "incompete" as to their own identity.

These young adults knew their biological fathers were just sperm donors whose motivation was not to father but to make easy money and yet they still felt compelled look for them. What had their lives been like growing up? Did they not have non-biological fathers who raised them? I wanted to hear from the mothers of these kids. How did they feel? What did the fathers who raised them from the minute they came into the world feel? Would they make the same choices again?

Then I read an article in the paper about a woman convicted of murdering her husband(her child's father) who will be permitted to keep her child while she is incarcerated. It mentioned in the paper that she had had a very difficult life, being abused and abandoned as a child, raped as a teen, her substance abuse, and that she has 3 other children that had been removed from her custody. During her sentence, she will be living in a separate unit with its own kitchen and a park nearby, all the while being surrounded by a fence and prison guards.

A baby being raised in prison? Okay, it's not something I would have thought of as being a "good" thing for a child, but what do I know? Is it the ultimate act of compassion for a federal institution to permit this? Will this inspire the mother to become a better mother and person? With any luck, she won't be in jail for more than 4 years. What kind of playpen do you have for your child? Oh.... FEDERAL....

I saw a 20/20 show about a young Chinese couple whose daughter had been "coerced" from them under shady circumstances and how the American couple who attained custody of the child fought to get them deported out the country and away from the child. Eventually, the biological parents prevailed and they were awarded full custody of their 8 year old child. Then ironically, the American couple were allowed to keep in contact with the child and now they want the Chinese couple to be alowed to stay in America. There were several things that bothered me about the people involved, notwithstanding their breathtaking hyprocisy, but never mind. Don't get me started.

Then there is the issue of adoption, with the attachment issues, "primal wounds" and all that. My point is this: the issue of biology is extremely compelling. When people say, oh, why can't you just give up the dream (hello, Oprah), if you really want children you can always just adopt, or whatever, I know they don't really know what the fuck they're talking about. They don't really know what it's like to really want to have your own children and pursue all sorts of options, specifically repeated IVF procedures. Not to mention the grief suffered from infant loss, repeated miscarriages or destroyed marriages. There are no "oops" factors, no forgot to use birth control that one time, no hey, why don't we just have a kid sounds like a great idea at the time kind of thing. And then there's the whole mental and emotional shift to either the wild world of adoption or a child-free life.

The biological connection of child and parent. It's why we consider open adoption to be the best circumstance for a child, so they you have acess to medical and/or genetic information as well as an emotional connection. For the sake of the child. But there are always strings attached, sacrifices made. It comes at a cost that people are willing to pay for apparently. To love and raise a child in this world. Will their care and nurturing be sufficient for that child or will they find their completion in the biological connection? Will my child ever look me straight in the eyes and say, "No, I want to know my real mother and father?" I guess what I'm saying is that will I have the wisdom to know what that means or will I feel that my parenting was just a substitution for the real thing?

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Just in case you ever wondered why I call myself Deathstar. Other than the Star Wars reference, there's this explanation of the death of a star:

"When a star begins to exhaust its hydrogen supply, its life nears an end. The first sign of a star's old age is a swelling and reddening of its outer regions. Such an aging, swollen star is called a red giant. The Sun, a middle-aged star, will probably swell to a red giant in 5 billion years,vaporizing Earth and any creatures that may be on its surface. When all its fuel has been exhausted, a star cannot generate sufficient pressure at its center to balance the crushing force of gravity. The star collapses under the force of its own weight; if it is a small star, it collapses gently and remains collapsed. Such a collapsed star, at its life's end, is called a white dwarf. The Sun will probably end its life in this way. A different fate awaits a large star. Its final collapse generates a violent explosion, blowing the innards of the star out into space. There, the materials of the exploded star mix with the primeval hydrogen of the universe. Later in the history of the galaxy, other stars are formed out of this mixture. The Sun is one of these stars. It contains the debris of countless other stars that exploded before the Sun was born." -

(source: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0004429.html)

This is the way I feel about my journey through the past 4 years of my life and from now on.

From the time I first bathed my mother while she was in hospital, held her in my arms as she cried out in confusion and despair of her dementia, put her into a home on a locked floor; dealt with mountains of paperwork to become her committee; her constant phone calls for me to come and see her and take her to live with me. I listened to her plaintive cries and watched her watch me as the elevator doors closed between us. And every now and then she would look straight in my eyes and tell me how much she loved me and appreciated me for taking care of her. Nurses and care aides would report to me who she hit that day or the tempers she would fly into. I had insomnia for 2 years. They told me she would deteriorate quickly. They were wrong.

She blows her nose in her hand and spits out phlegm on whatever is handy. So I keep kleenex handy at all times. In the early days, she would wander about without clothes. Now she wants to wear too many. Sometimes she can hold her pee when we're out and sometimes she can't. I've learned to ask her if she needs to go before we go out and if I forget, I guard her dignity as best I can or drop whatever I was doing and insist a retailer let her use the staff washroom. Sometimes I lose my temper with her. I feel bad about that and determine to work on my patience. She never takes it personally.

A couple of years ago, I took her for a walk in the sunshine down Robson street, a busy downtown street. A loving care aide had put little flowers in her braided hair and she was wearing an orange and white shirt. Coincidentally, I was wearing my favourite orange and white outfit so we matched. And as I navigated down the street with her, hand in hand through throngs of shoppers, I felt a huge wave of love and protectiveness over her. Tears flooded my eyes, my throat swelled up. I would do anything for her and if anyone trampled her, I would beat the living snot out of them. And then it hit me. This was how she must have felt about me when I was a little girl. This was the closest feeling and understanding of motherhood I had ever known.

It's a long ass story, but I had always had a difficult relationship with my mother. She used to drive me nuts. As difficult as it had been for me to deal with her dementia (I can't begin to comprehend her own experience of it), I have been given a gift of having finally achieved a loving and close relationship with her. And though it's still all about her in a way, I've developed great patience, strength, and maturity. Because her thoughts are muddled, she doesn't talk as much. I can't tell her my problems, but she still knows when something's wrong. She still tries to mother me. We spend more time together than we ever did when I was growing up. She still enjoys her booze. We laugh a lot.

And throughout all of this, my husband and I were trying to have a child. I know it would have given her great joy. But recently, I asked her what she thought if we were to adopt. She said, "Well, if you can't have your own, I guess that would be okay."

The whole experience of caring for my mum, infertility, the grief, even the marital problems, blah, blah, blah has caused this star to explode, to collapse. Infertility has scooped me out. Even though I'm off that train and hopped aboard another one, I can still feel the bruises on my heart. My innards have been blown out into space, but my hope is that with deep prayer and practise, I can transform my karma, connect with the stuff of the universe and create as many stars as I can. Be a star again. And not just any old star. But a Sun. Brilliant and fierce.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I LOVE getting stuff off my chest

We had our last counselling session yesterday. And boy, did I have a LOT to say. I could have talked for an hour. I love therapy. If you've never been, I highly recommend it. It's refreshing! I shared all the questions and doubts that I had. I shared how I felt about his pot smoking and my anger that my feelings had been discounted. Hubby was a bit tentative, I was awfully quiet and he knew I had stuff to get out. I'm glad I waited, cause apparently what I had to say had to be translated for him. What had bothered me for years is his penchant to become impatient when I can't communicate what I want from him in 30 words or less. He goes from Point A to B in linear fashion, no stops. Here's what I have to say, too bad if it hurts your feelings, I'm just telling the truth. I go window shopping, then to Point A, sit down and have a coffee and maybe a little snack, think a little bit and then arrive at Point B. Listen honey I have something to say, I'm not quite sure what it means, I have to chant about it, are you listening to me? I process, therefore I am. And I think a light went on for him. In order for me to have my communication needs met, he actually has to LISTEN. Even when it takes more than a minute! Holy cow, it took him over a decade to figure that out! Some men are just slow, you know....

I also learned that his newfound sobriety and return to the gym, was inspired by me. Whaaaa? Mmmm. He finally understood that my "nagging" about his drug use was not a question of tit for tat, but was entirely valid. He was deliberately tuning me out. That lo and behold he was responsible for the consequences of his actions. And between you and me, I think he picked up on my the fact that while we were poking around this marriage stuff, that I was going get what I needed as well. Or I'd get smoking hot, get really popular and dump him. I shared my fears that this sobriety wouldn't last, and I was quite concerned that he would go back to smoking weed with a child in the house and that I could not and would not have that. He actually agreed with me and was surprised that I thought he would. Really. I don't know if he has ever heard of the maxim that a good predictor of future behaviour is looking at past behaviour. Anyways, just expressing that I am considering holding off submitting our adoption profiles has gotten his attention and touchingly, I can see he really wants to have a child in our life. What makes it a little difficult is that due to the Hague Convention, I can't put off the decision to look for a child in the States for six months. I will not be able to reverse that decision. Mmmmm.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm no saint, I've done mild drugs in the past for all sorts of reasons, most of which included having a good time. And frankly it was unheard of me to turn down a martini. And believe you me, there were many, many days when I would have loved to get wasted and tune out. (I kinda did, I just ate and played A LOT of online Scrabble.) However, it is not a part of my lifestyle anymore. When you start to consider having children and climb aboard the ttc train, you get your priorities in order. And as my Buddhist practise has developed, the clarity and peace of mind has given me far more joy and purpose than getting wasted ever has.

I want to feel secure in my marriage again. I want us both to be happy, to have our needs met so that we could raise a child in love and security. I know there are no guarantees in life, it can change in an instant. Boy, do I know that.

It was a very productive session. I learned that giving my hubby an ass-chewing when required is not such a bad thing. He actually responds better to it. I learned that we have a lot going for us and when we actually work together as a team, (we're both extroverts with control issues) we're very powerful.

We had our first dancing lesson last week. We are taking beginner's ballroom and latin dancing. We did the rumba, well, at least we tried. It was fairly demanding, but we actually had fun, and when we got the steps right, it was actually sexy. We looked over at an older couple and they had all the moves right and it looked so easy... for them. We had to work a little harder. I saw the guy I fell in love with. He was goofy and funny and his eyes were on me. I saw glimmers of life before infertility, a life before I became my mother's guardian, and all that mattered to me was getting a gig and dancing with a hot guy. I have to admit, I wasn't very good at following. Hey, if you can't get the steps right... I'll do it myself. Mmmm. Trust. Just concentrate on what I have to do and let my partner do what he has to do. That translates as "handle my own shit".

The moral of the story is this - listen to your woman.... and you just might get laid.

Monday, February 4, 2008

You're not alone

Here's the 4th in a series in our local paper regarding Val Cole's journey through IVF. Unfortunately, there was no BFP for her. I'd like to thank her for opening up her life that way. I'm sure there are plenty of women out there who understand exactly how she feels and appreciate her sharing her experiences. She says: "I really thought with all the positive thoughts and energy surrounding me that this would work. I've accepted it, but right now I'm feeling like everything is pointless." Hello - can you relate? They also talk about another woman, who after horrific tragedy, went on to have a healthy child via IVF. Gotta give the readers some inspirational story, right? The article talks about donor eggs as well, which was proposed to us briefly as well. We talked about it but summarily rejected the idea for a variety of reasons, but sometimes I wonder..... Surely it would have been less financially and emotionally difficult as adoption. If I knew then what I know now, who knows? Who knows if it would have worked anyway?


Talked to my girlfriend who had a cancerous tumour removed from her lymph nodes last week. She's tired but feeling much better and hopes to have a positive pathology report next week. My prayers are with her and I hope to see her soon.