Sunday, November 30, 2008

Her Body, My Baby and another Intended Mother’s Feelings

"Her Body, My Baby" ran in the New York Times on Sunday. Again, I am reminded of the ignorance that we are up against in educating people about the special way that our child will come into the world. We are by no means wealthy, paying for surrogacy means sacrificing as it does for many others. We are not doing this so that we can have a child that looks like us; we are using an egg donor so the child will not look anything like me. We do not look at our surrogate as a commodity, she will be a very special part of our family. I have no issues with not giving birth to my child, my mother did not give birth to me but she is no less my mother.

We are doing this because it was the best option for us. We want to be mommy and daddy from day one. As an adopted child, I know that I would not be able to deal with an open adoption arrangement. I have thoroughly researched open adoption, not just a few personal stories, I went to the Psychology and Social Work Journals, I talked to professionals who deal with adopted children, and I did a lot of soul searching. In the end, I learned that open adoption is not what I thought it was and that my preconceived notions were wrong, but I also knew that it was not something that was right for my family.

I do not begrudge Alex and her husband their feelings on surrogacy, and I would never want to minimize the pain that someone feels going through this journey. For me it was important to work through the years of pain and heal the wounds left by infertility before I went into this process. Educating myself in every way possible was really important. I want to go into this journey with my eyes, heart and mind open and clear, because everyone involved in this process deserves that from me. Sure there are going to be moments when all this fails, but at least for now I know that I will be able to handle what will come up in this journey. In my opinion, it is something that many women do not do and it can lead to panic and heartache for everyone. My main problem is that she has chosen to word her journey and chosen to show pictures that convey the stereotypes that I am trying so hard to dispel, the same stereotypes that both our children are going to come up against if they ever choose to share how they came into the world. I will be the first to admit that I too thought that most surrogates were women who needed the money, but after a tiny bit of research (and I do not have the power of the New York Times), it was obvious that this was not the case. The altruism in surrogacy, which Alex dismisses, is a real thing there are women who do this for free, the ones who do not are not desperate and they would be offended to hear someone say that their motives were purely financial. Compensation is difficult but the feelings we have about it need to be dealt with before this journey begins.

Reading the comments bothered me more than the actual article, which is usually the case. "Why not adopt a child with special needs?" Parents who have children with special needs are my heroes; it is a job that takes so much commitment and an incredible amount of fortitude. Choosing surrogacy left us open to having a child with special needs in a way that adoption would not have. What bothers me about that comment is that people just assume because we could not conceive on our own that we would be appropriate parents for a special needs child. If we have a special needs child, it is something that we can handle, but not a situation that we find ourselves equipped to handle well enough that we should actively pursue. Maybe it makes us bad people in some peoples' minds, and I am okay with letting them think that. To us it would be worse to take in a child that we were unable to care for.

"Maybe this is the universes way of telling you that you should not be parents." "Darwin's theory dictates that your genetics should not be passed on." "People like you should not have children." It is true that some people are not fit to be parents, but that determination has nothing to do with fertility status. No one asks to be infertile. A person's fertility status has nothing to do with their character or the type of person that they are. These comments are the worst, in my opinion, because they add insult to so much injury. When I found out that I was infertile, it made me question my status as a woman and defining myself as a woman again has taken a lot of work. I am still amazes me how much of our identity as men and women is tied up in our fertility. Our lives are so much more than our ability to produce children.

Overall, I am happy that Alex and her husband have their child. I know that the journey is difficult. I am happy that she was able to write about it for the world. I just wish that she had found a way to express some parts of it differently. Most of all I wish that the pictures had been different, why did they feel the need to use those pictures, so many people are not going to read the words and those pictures tell a very untrue story. I hope that Alex and her family are happy for many years to come. Like I said the part that really bothered me was reading all the comments, which I know hurt her just as deeply as they hurt all of us chasing baby dreams.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

What I am thankful for:

My family, those I am with and those who are celebrating elsewhere.
My husband, who is my rock.
That we are all healthy.
Everyone in blogland who has given me so much support. I have learned so much from all of you and you have made this journey much easier.

Hope that all of you have a wonderful day with friends and family. Eat up!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Empty…. Head, arms, soul, heart. Busy…. Mind, life, schedule.

These are the reasons that I have not been writing. These are also the reasons that I should be writing.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and all associated activities are coming at me like the fast pitch machine at the batting cages. Problem is that I was never good at sports; in fact, I was horrible, that whole hand-eye coordination thing just never worked well for me. For years, I have filled up my time to avoid the hurt that comes with family holidays, not my actual family, the one member we want to add. There was comfort in years past being so busy that I barely had time to think about how soul crushing it can be not to be able to have the one thing you really want.

My mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year, in years past I rattle off a few things and be done with it or at the very least come up with something in a day or two. This year there was a silent pause filled with tension and pain. We both know what we want, I want to be a mother and she wants to be a grandmother, something that seems so simple and so elusive at the same time. "Next year we will go to the toy store, next year we will have a baby." Was my mantra for the holidays. Only this year that will not work, at most next year we will be expecting our child, but I am too afraid to think that way right now. That way of thinking just makes the next year worse.

I love spending time with my family over the holidays and we have a ton of fun. Still there is emptiness. When we look at the stockings and talk about how hard it will be to find a similar one for the baby, or pretend to savor the extra sleep that we get on Christmas morning, all I am really doing is easing the pain. Yes, being able to set the table the day before with worrying that little hands will break the crystal makes our lives easier. Of course, it is fun to have a relaxed dinner on Christmas Eve, pleasant not to hear, "Can we open the presents yet?" a thousand times, well a thousand more times than my sister, and I ask. All these wonderful things are just ways to comfort myself, because the truth is I will not miss them for a second, nor will they matter when "Thank You" is replaced by giggles, and the boxes are so much more fun than the toy inside.

This year will be exciting and we will have fun, because we always have fun. We will skirt the issue and talk about Christmases in the future when Santa will need cookies and little voices wake us at the crack of dawn. At Christmas, more than the rest of the year, my infertility becomes more than our loss, it becomes my entire family's loss, my parents have no grandchildren, my sister has no niece, and worse my grandmother's have no great-grandchildren. They want this just as much as we do, it makes it so hard, not because of anything they do, but because I want to give them the one thing, I cannot give them. I am so fortunate to have a family who is so supportive, has never once made me feel bad, and most importantly would do anything to make this dream a reality.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Feeling Real Emotions

My baby sister is getting married!!!!!

I could not be happier she is so incredibly happy. J is an awesome guy and he loves her like she deserves to be loved. They are adorable together, and balance each other perfectly.

They are just so cute and happy and all is just so wonderful in their world.


We have a small family. In other words, we tend to have few big events. When we are all together you would think it was always a big event, we do have a ton of fun together. Ever since we started the surrogacy process there has been no major events, this journey has been our major event.

Suddenly I find myself in uncharted waters. Last night I was talking to C about her wedding plans and I was making plans that did not involve getting to our child. For me, the weirdest part of the whole surrogacy experience is feeling like a parent to a child that is years away from being born. We make life decisions as if they were here. I have researched baby products, education styles, been educated about all the "Mommy War" debates, and filled my head with enough information that I think it is starting to leak.

Part of me feels guilty for celebrating this happy time in my family's life. Somehow I feel like I am neglecting this future child, it feels like I am being a bad mother. As irrational as that sounds the feeling sits in the pit of my stomach. If someone else said this to me I would tell them that they were being crazy and that they should allow themselves the joy. I am enjoying this, I am happy, but there is a limit to which I feel this happiness and joy.

Infertility has taught me not to get my hopes up, because I will be disappointed. Spending years going from highs to lows, that are not allowed on roller coasters, teaches you to be suspicious of the highs because it is all going to come crashing down. Self preservation dictates this damping down of emotions. If I were to allow myself to feel all these emotions full force I would be living in a padded room by this point.

The downside to all this is that these occasions when I want to feel this incredible joy, I have a ball of anxiety that sits in my stomach. My brain sets off a siren, repeating "Warning, Warning, emotions are not good." Ignoring this warning is okay in this situation, I am going to ignore the anxiety and just be happy. The world may stop spinning, but I am willing to take the risk.

MY BABY SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED!!!! This is an amazing time. I am going to ignore the irrational guilt and just be happy for her. She deserves all my happiness. I deserve to live in the moment. It is okay that I am so happy.

Now all I have to do is lose a thousand pounds in 4 months.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It is Part of Friendship

Our friends and families have supported our quest to have a child, by whatever means necessary, so unconditionally that the hurtful comments that so many others suffer are a small part of the baggage we are carrying. Having this huge cheering section has come with a huge price, one that I was unaware we were paying until the other day. Over the past week this issue has come up a couple of times and each time it breaks my heart just a little more.

Some of my friends who already have children are having a difficult time conceiving again, secondary infertility. While speaking with my best friend the other day I realized that people who already have children are reluctant to talk about having trouble conceiving another child. Out of all my amazing friends that I am so lucky to have, L is the first person I want to call when I am hurting and when I am overjoyed. L is one of those friends who will stand by you no matter what and over the years, she has seen me through some of the worst times of my life. As a mother, L is incredible and if I am able to be half the mother she is, I will consider myself an excellent mother.

When L told me that she had been trying to have her third child for over a year I nearly fell over. I knew that L wanted more children, but I had no idea that she was even trying at this point. Realizing that she had been suffering for over a year and felt that she could not tell me, made me feel awful. Infertility sucks, hurts and is lonely for many people, but for me that pain has been eased by her support and love. Now here L is going through all the same stuff and felt that she could not tell me. Just because she already has two amazing children, she said that it made her feel guilty for complaining to me because we are trying so hard just to have one.

I know that not all people who have infertility problems feel this way, and I very well may be in a small minority. No matter how many children someone already has, not being able to have another is just as painful as not being able to have the first. Yes, they do already have children. Yes, we are trying to have just one. Yes, they already have what we are working so hard to attain. Yes, they do not have to endure the pain of empty arms. Yes, to any of the thousand reasons why they could just be happy with what they have. Only, they want their children to have siblings, they want to have a larger family, they want another child and are suffering with the pain of infertility.

Baby showers, kids' birthday parties, christenings and many other child related activities are difficult to attend and often I avoid them like the plague. Some days I cannot even watch a television show with children or babies in them because it is just too painful. L mitigates so much of this pain for me simply by believing with all her heart that I will be a mother and constantly telling me that I will be a great mother. Better than all of that, she reminds me that no hard days will matter on the day I can hold my child in my arms. I want to give her that same support. I know where she is, facing so many questions and fears that she should not have to endure alone.

L was the first of my friends that I called when I found out that having a child was going to be very difficult for us. She was the first person to tell me that it did not matter if I gave birth, what mattered was being a mother. When I felt like I was not a "real" woman because my body would not do what it was designed to, L was the one who listened to me cry and said she would support me any way that she could.

I know that she is trying to spare my feelings. She is trying to be compassionate. What she forgot is that I have travelled that road and she was by my side the whole time. I need to be there for her, I need to share my experience with her. Yes, there are going to be days when it is painful for me to listen to, just as it has been painful for her to listen to me. This is not a road anyone should ever travel alone, especially when there is someone who has already been there.

L you are my best friend, my best cheerleader, my shoulder to cry on, my foundation, and most importantly you are my sister. I may not always understand what you are going through, I may not always be the best friend, but I will always be here and I will always love you. Your struggles are my struggles.