July 28, 2013

From the Mouths of Babes

Yesterday was one of those rare days where you just *know* how blessed you are in every little thing that happens. My mom visited my house for the first time since her spinal cord injury. Dad bought a portable ramp that will work at both my house and my sister's. This was a *big* BIG deal. Mom was so happy, she cried when they pulled into the driveway. I was able to show her my very first veggie garden in the back yard and even more importantly, she got to see her dog Ralph for the first time since she went to the hospital. If she never walks again, Ralph will live out his life at my house, so I'm very happy she can at least visit him now. He was beside himself with squirming happiness at seeing his mommy again.

My sister and her family came down as well. They haven't been to my house since winter either (we live about 40 minutes down the highway from the rest of my family and with the Baby Bear it is difficult to plan a dinner at my house). I was so excited for my older nephew, A, to come back here because the weather was gorgeous and I wanted he and I to spend time together in my ginormous yard.

So after everyone settled in and dinner was prepped, A and I trouped out to my apple trees which have begun littering the grass with under-developed apples. The squirrels and other neighborhood rodents have been having a field day and I'm worried the dog will be stupid enough to eat one and choke because they are very small. I knew A was stoked about the apple trees, so I figured he would have fun helping me gather up the fallen fruit and climbing up the trees looking for a decent specimen to pick and taste.

We spent an awesome half hour rummaging through the grass and chatting about all kinds of things. At one point, he asked me if M and I had names picked out for any kids we have. I told him we definitely have the middle names settled, but first names are still somewhat undecided (but let's be serious, any girl baby I manage to have in whatever way *will* be named Alice Clara Belle). We talked about names for a while and then A suddenly said, "Really, you can name your baby whatever you want, I'll just be so excited to have a cousin!" He went on about how much fun it would be to have a cousin living close enough to see regularly, visiting our house more often, Bradley having someone to play with. You'll be proud to know I did not cry, guys - I didn't even well up, I'm not sure how I managed that. And as if this little scene couldn't get any more break-my-heart-adorable, A said "It would even be great if you and Uncle M adopt! Even if you adopted a kid older than me."

I've been asking God to please guide me and help me to know what my new journey should be. If this isn't some kind of sign or gentle nudge, I don't know what is.

July 26, 2013


I don't want to dream about being pregnant anymore. I don't want to dream about positive pregnancy tests or betas. I don't want to dream about talking to a tiny thing growing in my uterus.

Because I don't want to wake up sad and confused. I don't want to wake up feeling like crying and then wondering why, then piecing together the dream and feeling even worse. Why can I even dream about something that has never and will never happen? It should be like dying. I heard once that you can't really die in a dream because we have no idea what that would be like so our brains can't string together any experiences and images to make a dream of it. That could be total crap. But I wish I couldn't dream about pregnancy.

I don't like being teased by my own brain.

July 19, 2013

Everyone is Pregnant Except You

The statistics are on your side that if you seek medical intervention, and you only have one or two factors against you, as an infertile you will get pregnant. Might not end up with a take home baby, but you will get pregnant at least once.

I have never been pregnant. I have never had the faintest shadow of a second line. I have stared so closely and intensely at a pee stick that I could see the indentation, the chemical imprint where the reaction that creates the second line is. And that is the only thing I've ever seen.

I hate being jealous of fellow infertiles. I HATE it. I feel like slime. Less than slime. Worse than slime! They deserve their BFP - they went through hell, too! Its not like with the Fertiles of the world where you roll your eyes and take a few minutes to bitch about how they have no idea what it is like to TRY for a baby.

Instead, my stomach clenches tight. My heart pounds. A voice in my head says "Not another one...not again..." Which I quickly have to stomp out and replace with "Well, good for her, I'm very happy".

No you're not. You're jealous. You're angry. You're sad. Just plain old fucking sad. Because *another* blogger is pregnant. Eventually, they all get pregnant. I have followed over 20 blogs (I know that's not actually a lot) and everyone got pregnant except 3.

It sucks so much to be a part of the infertile of the world. It sucks even more to be part of the much smaller sub-group that never gets pregnant.

Now excuse me while I go self-flagellate to atone for my horrible, evil, rotten jealousy.

July 15, 2013

The Final Countdown

And now this will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day - you're welcome. (Any Arrested Development viewers in the audience? ...Bueller?)

Well sports fans, we're in the home stretch. This is my last cycle on break and then we try one more IUI. After that I get to crawl into my cocoon for however long I feel like and emerge as a beautiful pursuing-adoption-butterfly or a living-child-free-without-regrets-butterfly. Hmm, that metaphor kind of got away from me...

Anyway - I had AF back on like the 5th or something, so let's call that CD1. That puts me at CD11 today. My non-medicated cycles are always weak and wimpy and therefore peppered with lots of random spotting. Generally, I start spotting after ovulation right up to AF which tapers off into spotting for a few days. So I pretty much spot for 3 weeks in a row and then get a week off. Its *super* fun, lemmetellya. I had *finally* stopped spotting after AF back on the 11th-ish only to find this morning that it has started back up. Weak. Ass. Ovaries. ::sigh::

I am trying very hard to not start the negative thinking about my last medicated cycle. I really do want this to be as smooth and emotionless as possible. This cycle is a means of closure and the opening of all the other possibilities for my life. I can get my body back and start to feel more like ME, not me-with-PCOS-and-IF.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate the responses on my last two posts. They have really *really* helped me work through some of the emotional skeletons in my closet. I have a lot of fears and anxieties regarding choosing one of the paths less traveled in life (both adopting and living child-free) and it is a big relief to be able to put those doubts into words in a safe space where I am supported. Most people don't have to think this much about where their life is going or have to deliberately make such HUGE decisions. Infertility has made me so much better at using my critical thinking skills on my own life and making (hopefully) responsible choices.

After August, I don't really know what will happen with this space. I know I will never stop blogging since I have journaled from age 12. And, probably, I will continue to talk about PCOS and IF sometimes - they never really stop having an impact on a person's life. But I think, also, I will blog about my ongoing search for what's next. It might be a year or more before I make a firm decision to move forward into one of the other "rooms" of the Stirrup Queens' blogroll. In the mean time, I'll just be kicking around in the hallway, saying hi to those who pass by. I am praying for peace in my heart with whatever happens from now on. Praying for guidance to where I am meant to go. And praying for the wisdom to recognize the signs that will lead me there.

July 10, 2013

Thoughts on Living Child Free (Not By Choice)

I don't even know where to start with this one.

Obviously living Child-Free is an option and its one I have brought up a could of times here. I'm grateful, I guess, that M and I are the sort of people who *can* see ourselves living a future without children and being okay, even though that's not the way we had envisioned our lives going.

It is an attractive end to this miserable IF road because I know that when I'm not in the thick of pursuing that one thing that I simply cannot have, I'm generally a very happy person. I am able to recognize and be thankful for that which I *can* and do have. I have an amazing husband who loves me for some crazy reason even through the times when *I* don't love me. I have an insane, but loving family who I am close to, including two nephews who are the lights of my life. And I live close enough to them to be a permanent part of their lives. M and I have jobs that pay well, with good benefits, and without children we would be able to afford to travel and engage more fully in charitable endeavors and tons of other cool things.

I have no doe-eyed fantasy about how perfect and delightful parenting is. I know that having children means sleepless nights, fights with your spouse, innumerable compromises, putting other plans and goals on the back burner for several years, etc. And we are all willing to make those sacrifices for the honor of raising up decent little human beings. I also realize that a childless life frees you up from many of those stresses and leaves open many other opportunities for you to pursue. See, look at that - I'm being all "glass half full" and shit.

And then this weird guilty feeling swoops around me and cloaks me in its negativity. I feel like...if I see positive things about living child-free, if the thought of that life doesn't make me sob with loss...there must be something wrong with me. I'm really *not* supposed to be a mother because a woman who is supposed to be a mother would doggedly pursue that goal until she reached it. Not lamely give up because "boo hoo, this is *hard* and if I stop now, I can still afford to visit Europe someday."

Its like that terrible conversation we have all been trapped up in at least once where some "helpful" acquaintance tries to make you feel better about your broken lady-parts by cheerfully encouraging "well, think of it this way: you get to sleep in on weekends and go out alone with your husband whenever you want, or take a last minute trip without having to consider any children!" And you're all like "...yaaay...that totally makes up for all my hopes and dreams being cruelly crushed under the heel of reality month after month...". Aren't I just spouting those same platitudes to myself? Shouldn't it make me angry, not hopeful, about the future? I mean, I can't actually be *that* well adjusted, please! A quick glance at the history of this blog proves I'm relatively unstable. So I judge myself for being comforted by these same ideas that, given by an outsider, would enrage me.

I tell myself I must unfit to be a parent because I can see life another way. And that's kind of sick and twisted to. Its beyond stupid to say "I don't deserve to be a mother because I won't move heaven and earth to achieve it" because MOST WOMEN DON'T HAVE TO. They have the luxury of it just "happening" for them, they didn't make any kind of extraordinary pursuit - it *fell* into their fertile. fucking. uterus. And all of these feelings are cobbled together inside of me, battling it out. Its rather nerve wracking, really.

Also, what if we *do* decide to live child-free and then in ten years I find myself regretting that decision so much that I just want to die?? What if my husband is taken from me by illness or accident and I have *nothing* left for the rest of my life because I don't have kids? Or what if we do live to be old but then there is no one to take care of us? Who takes care of the elderly that don't have children? Is it super depressing? And its not like you can ask someone that - "Hey Aunt Mary, I'm very sorry about Uncle Jim's death. Now that you're all alone, do you wish you had had children who could take care of you?" Oh yeah, that's *real* tactful and sensitive...

You might think, since I have so many worries and concerns, that this is not the right path for me - that it sounds like we should keep trying. Because at least then, if it doesn't work, we would definitively know that not having children was not within our power to change, no matter what. Unfortunately, short of some test coming back and saying "CurlySue, you have no eggs" or "M, you have no sperm and you never will", there will ALWAYS be a *chance*, however small, that we could have a baby. And I'm not going to live the next 8-10 years of my life that way, until advanced maternal age reduces my already small chance into basically nothing. I will NOT do that to myself or my husband. Which leaves me no choice but to create my own cut off point.

Cue continued self-judgement, now about the criteria used to choose the cut off point. I can't win.

July 03, 2013

Thoughts on Open Adoption

I'm slowly gathering resources and contemplating the process of adoption. Its pitfalls, its joys, its unique issues. At the same time, in the back of my head, I keep in mind that living child free is an option. I wish I could know how I would feel about all this in 10 years...

Adoption sure has changed a lot! Ok, who am I kidding - my only experience with adoption up til now has been what TV tells me and I know TV cannot be trusted to give me an accurate portrayal. But there is a persisting social "truth" that adoption continues to be this secret...thing. You aren't supposed to know who your "real" parents are and your adoptive family waits until you are older before they reveal the horrible truth that you are not biologically related to them *gasp!*

Clearly this is a ridiculous caricature. Open adoption seems to be more common than not, now. When you adopt, you not only welcome the child, but as much of the bio family as you can into the child's life (and therefore, very much *your* life). I think it is wonderful that adoption has become a proud and public process where the good of the child is held up above all else. I worry about the flip side of this. Some adoptions are not open. Some are "semi-open". And if a fully open adoption is generally held as the gold standard situation for adopted children, what does that say for children in any other kind of adoption?

I ask this because, due to my family's situation, I cannot do an open adoption. I have an older brother with a high functioning form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome (although I think the new DSM has done away with this distinction). Life with my brother is challenging. The smallest change to his routine can put him in the *foulest* mood for over a week. Break one of his many (and often changing) internal rules and he will let you know in no uncertain terms. He struggles with dysthymia because he is high functioning enough to *know* that he is different, that something is "wrong" with him, but there's absolutely nothing he can do about it. My immediate family is an incredibly tight-knit group of 5 because we have all had to work together to get my brother and ourselves through some crazy low times. We strive to maintain consistency and constancy for my brother in a world that does not understand him, does not care, and assaults his senses with too much and rapidly changing stimuli.

Bringing an adopted baby (and blended-race baby at that) into my family will be complicated enough. I still need to discuss this with my mom and find out if she thinks he would eventually get used to it or if he would forever make incredibly inappropriate comments around the child (in which case it looks like we're child-free because I'm not bringing any child knowingly into that situation). Also, is there a way I can sloooooooooooooowly get him used to the idea so its not such a big, scary, crazy shock when we announce one day we have a baby. Please don't take any of this to mean that my brother is racist or anything else. He has autism, this is how life works with him, for better or worse.

Even if I can introduce an adopted baby into my family there is *no way* in heaven or on earth that I can open our doors wide to the bio-family. That sounds harsh. But it is the unfortunate truth. I got lucky when M and I started dating and eventually got married: his only parent in the area is his mom and his mom was (get this) one of my brother's former teachers. My brother LOVES her. So introducing the "in-laws" into my family was a walk in the park. God was truly looking out for the good of my family as a whole.

I can't introduce a number of perfect strangers into my family, who show up several times a year for birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving... holidays are hard enough without this. (Did I mention my dad also has a mood disorder and becomes The Grinch [a less cute and funny Grinch] from about November through March every year?). I'm not saying I don't want my child to know the woman who gave birth to her, but I am saying we are not all going to skip off together into the sunset as I feel like it is portrayed in many adoption blogs I have creeped on.

Obviously any family will have a rough transitional period where the adopted and bio-families are getting used to eachother, but my family is heavy laden in land mines that I would like to do my best to avoid or at least put minimal pressure on. And spending significant dates (holidays, birthdays, etc.) away from my family in order to be with the bio-family would not be possible except on rare occasions (ask me how many holidays we have not spent with the 5 core members of my family together. I can count them on one hand). That is not a permanent solution.

Ugh, I feel like none of this is coming out right. I feel like anyone who doesn't know me or my family would read this and think "Is this girl for real?" Yes my family is almost unhealthily close. Yes my mom, sister, and I have to work together to keep dad and my brother from hiding in their rooms through every holiday get together. We are functionally dysfunctional, I like to say. Its a delicate balancing act we have learned and I'm not going to screw that up just because my lady parts refuse to give me a biological child.

So, long story short, am I a bad person if I go into adoption looking for only a semi-open relationship with the bio-parents? Obviously as the child gets older, she could get to know those people on her own terms. I don't intend to shut the door completely and they would be honored in our home whether she sees them regularly or not. I just can't move forward with this process and only think about how adopting will impact M and I - it is going to affect our entire family. I have to do right by my brother and take into consideration how bizarre and alien this will seem from his perspective - and then do what I can to minimize the weirdness for him. Otherwise I'm just creating a GIANT problem that will make my whole family (and adopted child) suffer.

Does any of this make sense to any one besides me?