Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Back-and-Forth, To-and-Fro

I don't ordinarily subscribe to astrology stuff, but I will own up to having pretty standard Gemini characteristics. I can run hot-and-cold quickly, I am a perfect 50/50 hybrid of introvert vs. extrovert, and I vacillate between uber-punctual, non-spontaneous, list-making type-A and misplacing my keys, doing things completely last minute, and throwing a towel over the kid's pee-stained sheets just to catch a few more hours of shut-eye type B. I really have found the twins in my personality and whether that started out as a self-fulfilling prophecy or not, it is who I am now. So, when it comes to making big life decisions, like whether to cash in all your coins for a second child or not, it can make for a very indecisive girl.

It doesn't make it much easier, either, that we've been faced with a lot of competing financial priorities, many of which have to do with taking care of my existing family. Each one seems to test my resolve on how badly I want a second child, and on somedays, it's all I can do to keep from throwing forward every last penny and banging down the clinic's doors already. And then, on other weeks, I watch mothers of multiple kids struggle to get the time to comb their own hair and I figure that perhaps this is what was meant to be, to have one child, and that life isn't what I planned, but perhaps an even more genius design. And I can take that trip to Hawaii I've been coveting for so long after all...

And then, my other child, my not-yet future child haunts me so deeply that I feel like a piece of my heart has been haphazardly cut from me and I walk around trying to nurse an open, though invisible wound.

*Sigh* Infertility. Have I mentioned how much you still suck lately?

So, as far as the decision to go forth and multiply is concerned, I am at odds with myself and my Gemini nature. Below (bullet-pointed for your reading convenience though not nearly as neatly formed in my head) are some of the competing thoughts that occur to me almost daily:

Pro-Trying for a Second Kid (because trying is not the same as getting and a try is all I am guaranteed):

  • The possibility that my son might not be a lone soldier in this world. He will have at least one other person to lament to about how crazy his folks are and this other person will totally get it, no drawn-out examples needed.  
  • As I've mentioned before, I can't imagine my son facing our end of life alone after I went through it as an only child. To leave him to that and to do so knowingly almost feels cruel.
  • The possibility of more little ones to cuddle and love and grow.  I love being a Mom. It's f*ing hard, but amazing.
  • The banishment of some of the future 'what-if' thoughts (at least ones that I had some sort of control over). I will never wonder, "well, what if I had taken that chance when I had the money? Would we have someone else in our lives now?" Even if we don't succeed, I will have tried.
  • The possibilities that holidays, forever more, will be fuller. 
  • We have an incredible part-time nanny who is itching to get her hands on another baby. Now that my son is going off to school, this would be the perfect timing, should we be lucky enough to succeed. 
  • Many of the 'inconveniences' of having a second would be temporary. 
  • While two kids is harder than one, the best things in life are not meant to be easy, but they are usually worth it.
  • I 'may' get to experience pregnancy again, for better or worse.

Pro-Not Trying for a Second Kid:
  • All of my attention and devotion will be directed on my son. I am sometimes a little scattered, borderline-ADD and get overwhelmed easily. Sometimes I wonder if having a second child would tip the scales in such a way that my kid would suffer to some extent. And he is a child who wants attention 24/7, especially from Mommy. I love that I can give that to him and know that I would be wracked with guilt if I couldn't. I know he would learn to live with this and probably be better for it, but it's still something to consider. 
  • I work part-time and am so excited that I get to spend at least a day or two in his classroom next year. I would not be able to do this as easily with a baby on my hip.
  • As an adult only child, my Mother's hyper-focus on me was so intense, it was sometimes smothering. While this may have been a function of personality, the apple sometimes does not fall far from the tree. Just saying'...
  • I think having one will probably be kinder to my marriage.  Having kids is hard, harder than I ever anticipated. And because I did not get an 'easy' child (nor would I want one as the one I have is exactly how he should be, which is lovely, bright, deeply creative, wildly emotional, perfect, but challenging at times), I think Mr. S is so much more hesitant to take on another.  
  • We would have more freedom (and money) as a family to do things like travel.
  • College savings will be easier.
  • More time to concentrate on our marriage and friends and everything that sometimes takes a backseat when kids come around.  Sometimes having an only child feels like a chance to have a little bit of everything.
  • Finding a babysitter is always easier with one.
  • No heart-pounding anxiety of early pregnancy. Or hell, even later pregnancy. I might have loved being pregnant, but I did not love how much I had to lose and how present that fear always was (not that it totally goes away once they're born, but it's lessened at least).
  • No more losses or BFNs to grieve. We would be done with this game.  The idea of moving on is seductive.

P.S. Some of you might have seen this published earlier this week, and then disappear just as quickly. I was stumped by some weird formatting issues, and being the semi-perfectionist I am, couldn't let it stay in the light of day until I fixed it. Lo and behold, after two seconds of my husband's fiddling, it's fixed!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

But He Doesn't Look Like You...

Between toting my son to a holiday work party to showing his picture off to a few work people here and there, I've gotten some interesting reactions of late. It always the begins the same: they look at my son carefully, he with his dark hair and prominent, dark eyebrows, a near-spitting image of Mr. S, and then they look back at me, even more carefully, with my lighter hair (dyed, people!) and plucked eyebrows (I promise they used to be formidable before the transgressions of my youth) and then back again. And you immediately see the wheels turning. A great majority of the time they make a remark like, "Wow. He must look just like his father" (translation: he doesn't look anything like you)

It gives me pause. It doesn't bother me because this is not an insult.  In my humble opinion, my kid is off-the-charts adorable. But for a split second I remind myself that, no, they did not mix up the egg in the lab (this has actually been a running joke since he birth) and I have more than enough proof of this that isn't immediately obvious. But why do I feel the need to remind myself? Why do I feel the need to call to mind his eye color, his chin, his cheeks, the way his skin is almost translucent when he's cold? (yes, an unfortunate reality for my Mom and I as well) Ah, IVF is a funny thing...(and people's obsessions about the visual expression of genetics is even weirder...)

And then I instantly wonder what this exchange will be like when my child actually does not have a genetic connection to me. Will I be released of this odd, split-second need to remind to myself that my genes really are hidden there, somewhere? Or will their inspections actually discomfort me more than they do? I guess I always figured it would roll off my back, but perhaps I am being naïve. I might have some thick skin and a few canned catch phrases to develop before the day comes.

And then there's this: what if I learned tomorrow that they HAD actually mixed up the egg and that my son did not have my genetics after all? Would that change how I feel about him? Without hesitation I would give a resounding, "no." It wouldn't change a single thing about our relationship. It would certainly bring up questions and concerns about a health heredity I know nothing about (and most notably my clinic's competence--oh, how I would question that!), but as far as how I think and feel about him, how I parent, it wouldn't change things in the least. So, I know that if I can say this for certain about him, I can say it with near certainty for a future child.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Pretending to Move Forward

Radio silence from me here is never for lack of care. Or love, because I love this blog. Oh, how I love this blog. I have loved it since I typed my first word here over five years ago.  I knew we were meant to be from that moment. It's like a good, but distant friend, someone you can't speak to on a daily (and sometimes, regrettably, monthly) basis, but you know life would never be the same without them and when you do catch up, it's as if you never parted. It all falls back into place like muscle memory.

But then life, and especially work, has a way of swallowing me whole and preventing me from making that connection (both literal friends and figurative blog friend, actually). I'm someone who processes best through writing. In fact, when I am assessing a student who has a complicated case and I can't seem to make heads or tails of it despite consulting with others, it is only when I sit down and start writing their report that-voilà!-the direction I need to go with them becomes clear, or, in the very least, as clear as it can be. This is what this space has been for me personally. While I can't say that I have everything figured out by the time I hit publish, I am markedly closer to that place of peace once I do. In other words, I need this space. There's nothing quite like it in the world for me.

It is always surprising to me, then, that when time thins and I become stressed, I start cutting out all that is helpful to me, believing these activities to somehow be luxuries, self-indulgent even. That's how blogging goes by the wayside. And then, in a lovely vicious cycle type of way that I am quite well-versed in, I have no outlet for that stress and cut out even more to compensate (and then get even more stressed). Rinse, repeat. One day I'll learn, right?  These days, well, the learning curve is still too steep to navigate.  I am, as always, my own worst enemy. (more on that in coming posts)

As far as updating goes, I have had little (teeny tiny) bits of happenings on the IF horizon. In the process of attempting to dash any thoughts of babies from my mind (a feat I fail miserably at), I got a private message from a forum a few weeks ago looking to donate a single embryo to us. Although I knew in my heart from the very moment I read it that the plan actually coming to fruition was a longshot, there was something about the possibility that made me pay attention to something that I thought I could keep denying. The message came as a result of a post I had left on a forum a long while back (prior to our decision to only pursue egg donation).  The original forum post was a request for more information about open embryo donation specifically and at the time of the posting, I had not yet gotten down to brass tax with Mr. S. When he finally made it clear that this was not a route he was willing to take, I never considered taking the post down. And for reasons that may be obvious, I'm not yet ready to do so now.

So, for the second time I approached Mr. S about embryo donation, but this time I had more specifics: an embryo whose parents had a full sibling and were willing to explore an open relationship (huge, huge bonus). At once I had this embryo formed into a child in my mind, with a brother (my son) beside him/her and a boy several states away who had the potential to be another lovely addition to their life and very importantly, a key to their genetics.  Yes, I skirted this fantasy for several days until the following occurred:

  • I did the math and realized that the amount of money we would have to spend just for a chance at this single embryo didn't make sense, even from a gambling fertility treatment perspective.
  • Mr. S did not change his tune. No surprise there. But at least it got us talking about the elephant in the middle of every room I step into.

The next day I was approached by someone who could connect me with a family looking to donate multiple embryos, but the latter of my bullet points above stopped that one immediately.  I don't say this to point fingers, either. If it takes two to tango anywhere, then family building is at the top of that list. And this is certainly not the first time in history two spouses have been on different pages regarding this.  So, as it stands, we will pursue egg donation...one day. Today, tomorrow, a few months from now? Not likely. But, I have to admit, it was pretty nice to pretend for a few days that I was finally moving forward.