Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thinking Ahead...

Oh boy has my mind been busy. I have been thinking of the ins and outs of adoption, reading, pondering, considering 1,000 different scenarios and although I said I'd be using this space to further explore these in painstaking detail, I am now hesitant. You see, I am realizing something that many of the teenagers I work with fail to grasp...the internet, well, this thing is forever.  Every word I write here might as well be carved in stone.

It's quite likely that if we adopt, our child may have the know-how (especially with a Dad like Mr. S), to find every word I've written on this page in print in 15 years, despite my *partial* anonymity. I have no hesitation about everything I've written so far. Will I want my children to know how heart breaking this journey to them was? Yes, eventually, when they are ready to understand it for what it was: not a guilt trip, but an illustration of how deeply wanted they were. So, I have no need to hide these words as they exist today. But as I consider this possible next step, I am filled with questions and fears and while I would love to reach out and let these be known and have support here, I have to consider this: will my child read these words one day? If I type the worries that are locked in my heart onto this page, what impact would they have if my child were to one day stumble upon them? In the same way we ask our elementary counseling group students, I must ask: will it be helpful or hurtful?

Because of the nature of my fears that are quite likely being shadowed by some of society's misunderstandings still leftover in me, I suspect they will be more of the latter. And knowing kids (and people) as I do, the ultimate concern is that these fears would somehow be seen as a reflection of them and not what they are, which is merely my lack of knowledge and my still-fresh grief over our loss. So, I have decided that the conclusion I will come to will be aided through counseling, books, support groups and lots and lots of plain old talking. It's crazy to think that I would make a life decision without the internet, huh?? 

That's not to say that I won't come here. I've been here for 4 1/2 years (quite sporadically at times) and I don't suspect I'll be abandoning my post just yet. I still have miles to go before our family building comes to a close and I wouldn't trade this space for anything.

Monday, October 22, 2012


On Saturday, Mr. S and I sent the kiddo off to be with his grandparents and spent the morning at an adoption information session.  Whether it was having resumed my regular caffeine habit or the heightened emotions of facing one of the biggest decisions of our lives (my money's on both), I was keyed up and irritable before I walked in. By the end, I was oddly relaxed. I was expecting the opposite and had even scheduled a massage afterwards to combat what I thought would be a fallout.

There is so much to process and so much to consider and so little time has been spent devoted to that, but if I had to make a snap decision (of which I don't make a habit), I would say that as of now, this feels terrifying-oh so, so terrifying...but right.

But it could be wrong. (remember, I don't make snap decisions) And I'm going to give myself countless books and perhaps months to figure out which it is. I will come here and process until I have a novel that expounds on every fear under the sun about adoption (of which I have many). But ultimately, I am a destiny kind-of-girl. It is the one thing that has gotten me through the hell fires of infertility-this belief that whatever road I am traveling, no matter how bleak, will ultimately lead me to exactly where I belong. This is not to diminish our losses, but to make sense of them, to give them purpose.  It seems to me that every heartbreak keeps pushing me toward some greater plan that I can't yet see. I do also believe that there is a mixture of freewill intertwined in this, that, despite this 'bigger plan', you still also have the enormous capacity to be a dumb ass and just screw things up, hence my lack of snap decisions.  However, at the end of this researching and soul searching and fact checking, I do know that my heart will take the lead.

And my heart keeps seeming to scream at me that this is where our child is.

Parenting Through Infertility

For the past few years, my profile on here described me as someone who was parenting AFTER infertility. Kind of misleading, no? Because, from my vantage point (recent FET, miscarriage, looking into other methods of alternative family building), I can't see any sign of a period on the end of my infertility sentence. Now, my profile accurately describes me as someone parenting THROUGH infertility.

This led me to wonder: will I always be parenting 'through', or will the 'after' come eventually? Or is the idea of a definitive beginning and end too simplistic here? When I have completed my family building (with whatever path that might be) and when I am not actively thinking about where my next baby will come from, will infertility become an afterthought one day-something that will stab me in the heart only once in a great while as opposed to almost everyday?

As you can see, I have more questions than answers. That's the way life pretty much is these days.

This sounds strange, but for a brief, shining moment in G's infancy, infertility really was an afterthought. Whether it was the product of being too enveloped in mommyhood to care about anything outside that state or the desperation to shed my IF wares, I *almost* felt as if it had never come to pass, this crazy infertility thing. I started getting these delusions that perhaps, after having given birth, I might magically become pregnant without five people in lab coats in the room. I mean, I had a baby--that meant I was cured, right?  I was ready to join the fertile world! I'd like to label this brief period of time as non-fertile mommy psychosis, perhaps even pomposity.

(Haha, now I would be glad to get pregnant with the lab coats)

Maybe this only exists in my head, but being that I'm not nearly as unique as I'd love to believe myself to be, I think there are others who also think that having given birth somehow makes them 'less' infertile (whatever that means), regardless of how much effort, money and medical intervention it took to get there. I know this is crazy talk, but this is what I once felt. As I mentioned, I think I've so desperately wanted to not be infertile, to just move on and embrace a new life with my child(ren) and family, that it's seductive to believe the limitations of our bodies no longer exist. I can tell you that doing the kind of soul searching I've done recently for which direction we'll go has cured me of this thinking.  I am reminded, by the mountains that I currently climb, that this journey is not over. Perhaps it never will be, but one day I'd like to at least be going downhil for once.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Where I Am

Congrats to you if you make it through my novel below. :) I am back again to process something more immediate. I had indicated that part of the way in which I deal with grief is to look forward, but being that I have all too much familiarity with it, I know exactly where I am in the process.

I'm angry.

I'm completely pissed.  I feel short-changed by the universe.*

I guess that means I'm past the shock/disbelief, so that's something.

I'm reeling at the irony and searing rage that I feel over the fact that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law gave birth to their second child just a few days after my miscarriage. These are married people in their mid-thirties who already have a kid and after they found out they were 'accidentally' pregnant, whispered the 'A' word and then decided against attending my Mom's memorial because they went into 'crisis mode'. She was probably already about 3 months along before they clued in and they showed up to the hospital this time without so much as a bag packed or diapers purchased.  This kid felt like an after thought, when I would have given ANYTHING to be in that position.

I apologize. My emotions are ugly and dripping with envy with this one. In tonight's role, Shelby will be playing the part of the bitter infertile. It's not pretty, but it's real.

So, my own personal tragedies this year have served as parentheses for this pregnancy, this child. I'm not sure how I will face her, but I must. She is my son's cousin and I won't ever deny him that.  I know this will all fade, but this is where I am...right here, right now.

In an attempt to heal, I will light my two candles tonight at 7 PM in honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day...for my babies.

*I NEVER lose sight of how much I do have, even when I'm feeling sorry for myself. I am AMAZINGLY lucky. Just hurting.

Crossroads and Options

In 2-4 weeks time, I will see my RE, likely for the last time.  This appointment will be to see how I've recovered physically from the D and C (which is fine so far) and also to explore my 'options', whatever that means.  I would be lying if I said I didn't explore my 'options' in my head multiple times a day. Ladies and gentleman (if there are ever any of you), I am at a crossroads.

Hopefully my crossroads turns out better than the Britney Spears' movie of the same name. I do realize that I need to allow myself time to grieve before jumping into anything life altering,  but in case you hadn't noticed, that is precisely one of the ways in which I grieve. I move forward, or at least try to mimic the motion of doing so. Hope is healing. And when it comes to problem solving, I begin by thinking it through, and then I discuss it, but the real work begins when I write about it. This is always when my decisions and ideas become most clear for me, so here I am and here are the decisions I have before me:

Disclaimer: I am by no means well-versed on any of the below (except IVF) and am merely in the beginning stages of questioning and considering, so if I present some blatant misinformation, I apologize in advance. I am open to correction. My research into each is still young and the below are only my impressions as to how each would fit into MY life, not anyone else's.

Only Child

G can be an only child, as I was. The pros: all of our efforts, attention, and money can be devoted solely to him to assure he is given every opportunity available. Only children with regard to birth order are often very similar to the eldest: high achieving and generally very responsible (not necessarily, though!).  He will not have any difficult sibling relationships to deal with as Mr. S had and in some cases, still has.  There will not be any drama at family holidays or when we do pass away (at least none dealing with siblings). Being an only child made for a swift and seamless dealing of affairs once my parents were gone. And I never lacked for attention as a child. And let's face it, being the parent of an only child is just easier and at this point, cheaper.  That money my Mom saved for us to have a second kid? Well, that can go to the education of the grandson she already has and I know she wouldn't mind that a bit.  Cons: This paints a picture of my life in recent years. As an only child, I was the sole provider for my parents as they aged, became ill and ultimately passed away. Although a sibling is not a guarantee of an equal partner in shouldering this burden (I have seen many examples of this), having someone to share in the emotional aspect of loss would have been some comfort to me. I also found being an only child very lonely and did not like being the center of my parent's universe. I longed for them to focus on something or someone else as I'm pretty independent. And having the dog referred to as my 'sister' lost it's charm after awhile, especially as I longed (begged) for a sibling. I hated sitting at a table of three and always thought my house was too quiet, but that's my personality. However, I think that's G's personality as well. He is a people lover and if you can believe it, has been asking for a baby (not necessarily a sibling, but a baby) for many months now.  Finally, I think emotionally, physically, and otherwise, we have SO much more room for another, so much more to give and I have a deep desire to give it.  I could eventually learn to live with this option, but at this point, it seems as if something (someone) would be missing. In fact, it seems tragic.

Embryo Donation

Pros: Adopting an embryo is not much more expensive than an FET. As I understand it, the legal 'stuff' (yes, that's the technical term-'stuff') is taken care of in advance so by the time you reach the RE's office on transfer day, that embryo is yours. There is no waiting after the baby is born, wondering if you might get your heartbroken when the bio parents decide not to go forward. The heartbreak piece of this family building would be minimized for this process and for me, that's a huge bonus. I would get to experience pregnancy and childbirth (for better or for worse) again.
Cons: This is a relatively new type of adoption, so explanation to family or friends would be more difficult to navigate. Plus, what is the relationship with the child and their biological parents? My guess is that many bio parents of an embryo would not wish to have an active role in their child's life and that is not the type of arrangement I want. I want my child to know where they come from and have more than once-in-a-decade contact. And how do I explain to acquaintances that the kid I just gave birth to doesn't look anything like me? The general public doesn't know how to handle this information and considering so many of them already sound like morons about adoption, something that's been around FOREVER, can you imagine what they'd do if they heard about embryo adoption?  They'd look at us like we were aliens. My kid doesn't need to deal with that. Finally, the odds of delivering a healthy baby with embryo adoption are no better than plain old IVF-about 34%. That means that it's likely I'd have to go through it ALL again, maybe multiple times, maybe including loss- something I'm not thrilled about.  In that case, why wouldn't I just do another fresh cycle? And quite frankly, I love my RE, but I wouldn't mind if we saw each other less. FAR less.

Donor Egg:

Pros: The odds of the delivery of a healthy baby are excellent (far, far better than with my own eggs) and the child would be a biological child of my husband's and biological half-sibling to my son, which would simplify things I think. Given the selection of a donor with my same ethnic background (which is plain old white girl-easy to find), there would be no explanation to outsiders because they wouldn't need to know, so my kid and family wouldn't have to put up with too much moronic crap from the outside. I would also get to carry and give birth to this child and there once again would not be any waiting afterwards as all legal 'stuff' would be taken care of before the child is born.
Cons: The biggest con is that I know most, if not all, donor egg profiles are closed--slammed shut, in fact (save for medical information). This is not at all what I wish. Again, I want my child to know where they come from. The second biggest con is cost. I mean, holy crap!! We're talking a minimum of 30K. Seriously, who has that kind of money laying around to just throw down on the table for something with better odds, but at the end of the day is still yet another gamble? Not I. And there's no tax credit for this one (just a write-off). We would have to wait several years before this would become financially feasible for us and at that point, that money could go towards my son's college fund.

Open Domestic Adoption
(I've ruled out international and foster for personal reasons)

Pros: The biggest and brightest pro is that this is a guarantee. No gamble here-one day you are going home with a baby.  You will be a parent again and your child will have a sibling. Period. After years of gambling, this is HUGE for us. We're done with the 'IF'. We want 'When'. This is a child who will already be in the world and because domestic adoption has moved to almost all open arrangements, the kid would get a chance to have their birth parents in their lives. Of course the extent of this would yet to be seen, but the possibility is wonderful. We would get a chance to meet birth mom beforehand (and/or parents) and eventually have more 'family' (that's how I envision it at least...can you tell I'm an only child with no family who desperately wants more?) The more people my kids are surrounded and supported by, the better. Our child would come with a built-in 'extra' or 'extras' (because having extended family on top of that would be icing on the cake). I know this is perhaps an idyllic version and I've not yet delved into the reality (because, who knows whether everyone would actually stick around until you're in the thick of it), but this would be my hope.   I personally have very little ties to biology. As a former nanny, I know that being related is not a necessity to devote your heart to a child (or anyone) and as someone with 7 half siblings (you read that right), most of whom are not in my life (by design), this is further proof. And finally, there's an adoption tax credit. I don't know exactly what that would look like at the end of the day until we talk to our accountant, but boy howdy it sounds good. We will be attending an adoption information session in a week and I might not sound so ignorant after that!
Con: Again, cost. Although tempered by the tax credit, this avenue has turned out to be far more expensive than I anticipated. I had gone into it thinking somewhere in the ballpark of 11-15K, but it's more like 20K-30K in these parts. That's a HUGE chunk of change that would hurt...a lot (similar to egg donor). And there is still the possibility of heartbreak. I can imagine that placing your child up for adoption is one of the most heart-wrenching experiences of your life and it is quite possible that minds could be changed and as a result, we would be subject to more heartbreak. I'm terrified of losing another child and with adoption, that is always a possibility (actually with all options that's a possibility). And there is the issue of raising a biological child and adopted child together. In my naivete, I would think it would be wonderful and just our version of normal, but I've not yet explored what that really looks and feels like for the kids. As with everything in life, it's never that simple. The only thing that gives me pause is that life is already tricky enough and adoption adds extra intricacies to navigate. As a parent, I want my child to have as easy of a road as possible and I can imagine there's grief and questions (and so much more) attached. My heart already aches thinking about my child (and the birthmother) processing all of that and I've not yet even embarked on the process. This is not to say that it's not worth it, it's just harder to go into something with the guarantee that there will be hearts that need healing along the way, one of which is your child's. (I could literally write pages on this and I've not even begun my research. I probably will) I feel like we could do a bang-up job of it (and our extended family would, too), but it's still more complicated.


Pros: As I mentioned, I am not that tied into biology, except that it just makes things simpler. It's already enough of a challenge to figure out where you fit in, especially in this current world. If we were successful with IVF again, I would get to experience pregnancy and childbirth (which I did enjoy) and not that this makes a huge difference, but I would love to get a second chance at breastfeeding. If successful, guiding this little one through life would just be...easier.
Cons:  The experience of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding is literally a blink of an eye in teh life of a child and I've already experienced. The true meat is in the parenting. I can say that confidently because I'm there now. And $15,000+ and many hormones later, there is no guarantee. I've had one live baby out of four embryos. While this is better than what I expected and we were SO lucky, that's still a 25% chance...at 30 years old. I'm 34 now.  My FSH is considerably worse, so I can only imagine what our chances would be now. After the expense and toil of an IVF, it's very, very possible that we might be right back to square one, as we are now, save for the huge dent in our bank account and the bruises that are still residing on my ass from the shots...and let's not forget what more hormones in my body might be doing longterm. (seriously, this has become more of a concern for me lately) There is always the possibility of loss again. A third miscarriage? Part of me feels like that's what I would be signing up for. Once was far more than enough. Twice, unreal. Three times? Have an extra bed in the psych ward? You might wanna clear some room for me. (This is said in 'sorta' jest)

At the end of the day, I know we will make the right decision because our heart will be in it. We will have turned over every fine detail beforehand so that we know we are standing by our family first and foremost when we do move forward. The beginning of this quest has just arrived, though. Perhaps I might sound like I am leaning in one direction more than the others, but from my standpoint, I am still open to all of them almost equally. It's time to figure this out because we would like to do it sooner than later. So, commence rolling up my sleeves and doing my homework. We're off again...to the great big IF.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Moving On

Ever heard of someone's nausea increasing rather than decreasing as their pregnancy fails (and even as they begin spotting and cramping)?

Yeah, me neither.

But I am, as I've found, an exception to the rule in many cases. And not always in a good way. 

D&C was yesterday. The night prior, my nausea was at an all-time high. In fact, it was debilitating. I was beside myself and thinking that my HCG was obviously low enough at that point to not be the cause, so I was envisioning all kinds of crazy google diagnoses. But the next day, after the procedure, I was finally nausea-free. Strange...and an odd consolation prize.  My body knew for awhile that something was awry and was screaming to tell me.

 I think I might be working towards my black belt because I am a pro at this. This is obviously said with a fair amount of sarcasm as loss will never be old hat.  In fact, I think it compounds with time and more loss. Still, with this grieving thing, if practice makes perfect, than I am nearing perfection, collecting my 'miscarriage' socks left and right.

But the light at the end of the tunnel is that I am now allowed to move on, to make plans for who or what might be ahead. After 8 years of this roller coaster, I do have the most remarkable prize that has made it all very worth it. He is a prize that I NEVER discount how I lucky I am to have the opportunity to parent. He is a bright, sensitive, empathetic, compassionate, talented, creative little man for whom I would've weathered 1,000 more storms. And if someone else is destined to join our family, I will weather just as many ahead. It makes it easier knowing just how small a price to pay this really all is in the end.

Thank you to all of you for your support. Although I am awful at commenting on blogs, I do still read about and follow all of your lives and it's nice to feel the sisterhood that still gets me through after all these years.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Playing a Part?

Forgive me for being put-off by others' joy (especially since I had no idea how long and how many roads it took to get there), but when you are sitting in the RE's waiting room to get the pre-physical before your D&C, a whole jubilant family obviously going in for a transfer is such a stark contrast to your reality, that it feels like a knife to your heart, a blunt knife that keeps trying to dig in everytime their laughter rings out.

In that moment, I realized that all of the times that I sat in an RE's office might have been filled with anxiety, but above all, there was always the anticipation of possibility, the hope in creating life. This was the first time that I was in that office for the opposite-to see an end to this possibility and to put the final period on this 8 year sentence.

Yes, it has been 8 years. I have had unprotected sex without conception for a total of almost 8 years, several of which were spent in offices like these and a sentence is exactly what this trap of infertility has felt like.

At first I chose the D&C because we were considering a diagnosis of the placenta.  Not that answers would help us as we'll never be on this path again, but just for curiosity's sake. However, this diagnosis turned out not to be covered by insurance (note my complete lack of surprise) and is a good chunk of change. My doc cited another less expensive diagnostic process and in doing so, explained it in these terms this morning: (this is loosely paraphrased)

'If the sample turns out to be a chromosomally normal female, it's most likely that we got your sample and not the baby's. But if it's male, we'll know it's the baby's. And if it's a chromosomally normal male, well, then we'll say--that's not right. What happened? Maybe it was something with your stomach (IBS and ulcer), an illness you had-we'll have to question a lot of things...but most likely it will be due to chromosomal abnormalities.'

And for the first time, it hit me. This could have been a healthy embryo and my body could have failed it. After having gone through a full term, healthy pregnancy, I had dismissed this possibility. Somehow, up until that point, I had been cloaked in a cloud of unshakable belief that this baby was not normal and no matter what I did or did not do, it would've ended the same; it was meant to be. Her words made me question that, made me question every breath I took over the last almost-two months. I had a lot of stomach issues. I was almost constantly nauseated while pregnant and now I considered that this was my GI issues, not pregnancy, and that somehow, these issues might have caused the loss, the loss of something that could have been perfect and miraculous.  Bottom line: I failed this child. I know these far-reaching thoughts were not the doctor's intent, but that was the end result. And I know the odds are against this thinking. But still, the cloud that was almost an emotional safety net for me dissipated. And my brain focused on the words...

"chromosomally normal male"

And at once I pictured my son, a 'chomosomally normal male', in slumber that morning, his soft rosy cheeks, his little bare chest rising and falling with his breath. Could I have lost the possibility of that type of miracle again?  At once this embryo was no longer a gender-less non-being as I had envisioned. That type of picture helped me keep my distance, but now, this embryo, this child, was real in every sense of the word, a little boy with dirt on his nose, raspberry-stained fingertips, skinned knees, my son's little brother, my baby boy.  This vision, one that I should have seen coming, sent me into a tailspin I've not yet crawled out of.

 I spent the next 15 minutes sobbing in the clinic parking lot.  At this point I know that we cannot do the diagnosis for there is no way I could live with knowing that this baby was normal, if that turned out to be the case. And there's definitely no way I can learn his/her gender.  I know it would send me on an unnecessary slippery slope of searching for the answer because I wouldn't let it rest. And that would result in countless tests and hundreds of dollars and more heartache, something we've had plenty of, thank you. We don't need that. We need to heal.  We need to move on. I'm not sure how, but I've been here before so I know it can happen.

It's more than likely, though, that we will learn either nothing or that it was chromosomal abnormalities. And perhaps the latter would bring me a strange peace of sorts. But the possibility that I played a role in ending what could have been a perfect little life, well, that's something I'd never be able to reconcile. For my first miscarriage, I really didn't feel any guilt. So, here I am, with another new chapter of grief to navigate. D & C is Monday. Wish me...peace.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Normal

There's that moment, that split second before anything comes up on the ultrasound screen when your heart arrests with the reality that what is about to be seen will be either one of the best things or the worst things.  Yesterday turned out to be one of those worst things. I knew it many moments before the doctor began to explain, as she was beginning a search that ended on an empty sack. When they have to search--when the screen does not fill with the arcs and tones of a beating heart, when it is immediately silent and black and empty--you know.

I've been here before and then, I haven't. The first time we lost our baby, we had heard a heartbeat and were measuring on track. I got four weeks beyond that appointment before we discovered the truth. But as I mentioned before, that pregnancy also got off to a rocky start, a sign of things to come. In some sense, I'm less shocked this time. And call me a bitter, seasoned infertile, but I knew in my heart that the universe would not gift a second child to me this 'easily'. No, one must toil for years. This is my experience. It would be naive of me to think that only $5,000 and several weeks of ass shots would give me my heart's desire.  However, I can say that five years and $40,000 was a small price to pay for the greatest gift that I already have.

That's how skewed my perspective is now. I view an FET as 'the easy road', when for most, this would be above and beyond what they might be willing to do. Actually, it would be above and beyond what they think they'd be willing to do, except that if they were infertile and it was one of their only choices to fulfill their dream of a child, then I bet that willingness would expand to greater lengths than ever anticipated, as it did with me. To which I would say, "welcome to the new normal."

I've been in this kind of shifted normal for years now. It's so, so strange to me that people actually just have sex, get pregnant and have babies. There are many who don't experience loss and heartache, many who do not need to journey to the ends of the earth and have their heart ripped out in the process. What a foreign concept.  I promise I'm not comparing (maybe feeling sorry for myself a little, but I think that's allowed for now). But what this does make me realize is that at this point, building a family is about gambling and heartache to me. I'm tired of that path and one way or another, I want off it. I've had enough loss.

For now, I must concentrate on saying goodbye--goodbye to my last chance, to a child who would've started kindergarten as G began third grade, would've been a freshman when he was a senior. I need to say goodbye to a child who would've been born in spring just a few weeks before my 35th birthday, a child who would've had the room next to G's, a child who would've had the second round on all of G's baby stuff. I need to say goodbye to my second chance at breastfeeding. And I need to let go of another opportunity to fall in love with a perfect little soul again. I know very deeply what I am missing as I have it with my son and it is nothing less than crushing.

And for now I must figure out how I am to get through the holidays with my brother-in-law's newborn ever-present (who was an 'oops'-and yes, they rarely have time for their first). They're due this month and I am ready to run, book a flight away for every holiday, but I know that's not fair to G, who loves his cousin and grandparents. Under other circumstances (pre-G), you better believe I would've been gone. Oh well, I'll suck it in and plaster a smile on my face. We do what we must do. I just wish it were under more joyful circumstances.

If I haven't said this lately, let me say it again. F.uck IF.