Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No Pollyanna Here

Thank you all for the wonderful comments I just adore ILCW!

I want to make something very clear I am no Pollyanna. I have gotten many comments about how positive I am, and thank you for thinking so, but the truth is that it has taken me a very long time to get to this place. Reading posts about the hurtful comments, the wading through the muck and the just general despair is all so familiar. I go to these places all the time, but I have also learned so much from being there.

Hearing people say something just stupid because they have no other words was the first thing that I really had to work on. It was either lock myself in the house or learn to deal with the platitudes. We were at a party a year or so ago and someone asked if we had kids, a person that I had met ten minutes before. The poor unsuspecting woman, who was just trying to start a conversation, got the meanest and nastiest response I could muster. She obviously was embarrassed and for a moment, I took so much pleasure in watching her just squirm. Then I just felt horrible, it was not her fault, she really had done nothing wrong. It was in that interaction that I knew I had to find another way to cope with the questions and comments, because I did not want to be that mean person that took pleasure in others' pain, and I was not going to let my infertility take my humanity, that was a price I was not willing to pay. Intellectually I had known for years that all those comments, from "Just relax" to "A dog is just as good" were never meant to be hurtful, they came from people who loved me, from people who did not want to see me hurt anymore, or from people who were just at a loss for words. In a very bizarre way, they were all telling me that I was loved, in the same way that my husband tells me he loves me when he takes out the trash or cleans the dishes. It may not be the way that I want or need to hear it, but it is still all about love and concern. It is the same way that I instinctively tell those who lose a loved one that I am sorry or a friend with a horrible disease that it will be okay, I have no idea what to say so I pull out the safe platitudes that do nothing. I just had to learn and constantly remind myself that this was love, it was not meant to be hurtful it was meant to make the hurt go away.

In May of 2007 I had my first major baby boom, it seemed like everyone was pregnant and they all announced it at the same time. Every announcement ripped my heart out. I had dealt with those announcements before, but they had always been spread out. Two of the announcements came at the same party; a party that I could not just walk out of and trust me all I wanted to do was run. I was happy for them, I really wanted to share in the joy but I just could not muster the strength. My pain and hurt, my firm belief that I was never going to be a mother stood in my way. I missed the baby showers, I sent a gift and made an excuse and everyone kindly pretended that it was not about the pain even through they knew. I missed the first birthday parties for the same reason. Really, who wants a crying person sitting in the middle of the floor at such happy occasions, no one wants that and no one wants to be that person. Then a friend of mine, a woman who is so amazingly wonderful and who has stood beside me for so long, was having trouble conceiving her third child. Instead of picking up the phone and calling the one person who understood right where she was, she sat with the pain because she felt guilty complaining because she already had two children. Being stuck in the muck of infertility had caused someone I cared about to suffer the same pain without my support, and that ripped my heart out more than any pregnancy announcement or party invitation ever could have. I had to pull myself out of my world and help her deal with her world; I had to find a way to support her through her misery and fear. In order to help her I had to get out of my pain and myself. As difficult as that was, being able to help her was the best thing that could have happened. Her daughter was born two months ago and for the first time, in a very long time, I was able to be happy because a new life came into this world. For those few months I was able to remember, what it was like to not sit in that misery.

As a teen and part of my young adulthood, I was clinically depressed. During that time I believed that it was easier to be miserable, being in that place where all I had to focus on was how unfair the world was and how everything was nothing but a conspiracy to keep me feeling like the dirt on the scum of someone's tennis shoes. Then at some point, and I really have no idea when, it lifted and I felt so much better. I remembered how to laugh and have fun, and that place was so wonderful and amazing. Somewhere along the road that pain seeped back in, and it came so slowly that I had not recognized that it was back. Knowing that someone I loved felt like she could not come to me with her infertility struggle made me realize that I was back in the muck. My misery was so apparent to everyone else that they were afraid to upset me. I knew that being miserable was so much harder than being happy and I knew that if I did not find a way to get out that I was headed back to a place I had fought so hard to get out of. Yes, my infertility hurts and yes, it is unfair, but it is not the only thing in my life. I have so many other things that matter; most importantly, I have amazing people who need me as much as I need them.

The only way that I knew to get out of the despair was to face the worst-case scenario. What would really happen if I were never to be a mother? As terrified, as I was to look at that possibility I knew that without doing so I was just doomed to live in a space that I hated. I would still have amazing people around me, I would still have my husband, and I would still have all the children in my life that I love with all my heart. Childless I would still have a purpose in this world, I would still be a social worker and I would still find ways to have a positive impact on some area of the world. Yes, it would be heartbreaking, but I would still go on. I did not have to be a mother to justify my existence as a woman, being a mother would make me no more of a woman than I already am. The worst thing that could possibly happen would be a deep sadness, and I knew how to deal with that, I knew that there was help and that I was capable to accepting that help. I also knew that there is another side of that pain and that I was capable of making it there. Knowing all of this gave me the power to not always be in that pain. Yes, I want to be a mother more than I want to breathe, otherwise I would not be where I am at the moment. I also know that if this never works my life will still have meaning and purpose I will still have worth.

The weirdest part of being infertile and trying to conceive is that you become a parent to a person who does not exist. You live your life for someone who is not real. Every decision and every action becomes about them, and it is so easy to lose yourself in the process. When I was going through all of this I felt an immense amount of guilt, I felt like even considering the possibility of failure made me a horrible person. What I learned is that it did not. Being able to see the reality of the situation gave me the freedom to heal some wounds and really become a better person. I am in no way saying that every infertile person needs to work through these issues, I would never dare place that on others. I just know that this helped me get to the place where I am able to not always fear the future, and where I am able to enjoy parts of my life that I was unable to before. It has given me the power to control the parts of my life that I am able to and not to constantly worry about the parts that I cannot.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Welcome and the Cliff Notes

Welcome to ILCW!! My favorite time of the month, when I have enough time to participate. It has been a while since I have given a quick rundown of me and how we ended up in the amazing world of surrogacy, so I thought I would do this for all of you who are new, and those of you who just may not know.

The problems really began when I was 12, and started having very irregular periods that would last for months when they finally showed up. This landed me in the hospital getting a blood transfusion because my blood pressure was 60/40. It was at this time that I first started taking birth control pills, and more birth control pills, and finally moved onto estrogen and progestin because there was not a high enough dosage to keep me from having breakthrough bleeding. I was diagnosed with von Willebrand disease shortly after my first major episode of severe bleeding. When the hormone therapies were not working, the best option was to do a D&C, the first of which I had at the age of 13. At the age of 21, I was diagnosed with PCOS. After years of buckets of hormones and countless D&Cs, I decided that having an endometrial ablation was the best course of action, so in March of 2007 I went into the hospital and effectively killed my uterus. This is a decision that I have never regretted for a moment. Having periods that lasted for months on end, six months being the longest, I was ready to have a "normal" life. I was tired and drained all of the time and the hormones had just stopped working. We were ready to start a family and there was no way that I could be the mother that I wanted to be feeling the way that I did most of the time. The greatest gift of being an adopted child has been that I knew having a child that was biologically related to me was not the most important thing in the world, being a mother has nothing to do with seeing your eyes looking back at you.

In March of 2008, we met with a surrogacy agency. It was a wonderful and awful experience at the same time. We had some major issues with their contracts, were never able to work those issues out, so we decided that they were not the agency for us, and moved on. When I started this blog one of the first posts that I wrote was about being so alone in this process. It was then that I got an e-mail from a woman whose blog I had been reading for about a week or so. She was an amazing surrogate, we emailed back and forth and I watched as she had two perfect little girls for an amazing man. I just knew that she was the only person in the world that I would want to go through this journey with, so I became a bit of a stalker in a perfectly nice way. We were worried about doing this journey without an agency because this is all a bit overwhelming when you start to go it alone. On February 4th of 2009, I got an email with her phone number; I was so excited that I totally forgot to read the rest of the message. I called and we talked for a good 2 hours. We talked about everything, but her offer to be our surrogate, because I never read that part, and even though I wanted to call and beg her, I was trying to come off a little bit less insane than I actually am. A week went by and I was cleaning out the in-box, and finally read the part where she had offered to carry our baby. Words cannot express the embarrassment and stupidity that I felt, while I was also feeling amazing. With my stomach turning back flips, I called her back, and was just crossing everything that she had not changed her mind because I was an airhead that cannot finish reading an email. Thankfully, she did not change her mind, in fact she found the whole thing very amusing.

We had always intended to use an egg donor, because I did not want to pass on my bleeding disorder. Then we learned that there was a possibility that we could do genetic testing and just implant the embryos that were free of the disorder. Well, when you are given a chance like this you take it. While we were working on our contracts and getting the details hammered out, my blood was in a lab being tested. True to form, my body never does anything the normal way, instead of having a genetic mutation like most people, I have a whole series of genes that are missing. In order to do PGD we would need to send the blood to England and then have the test verified here, and it all boiled down to a whole lot of waiting for something that was just not that important. We went back to the drawing board on the egg donors.

At this moment we have our donor, we have the world's most amazing woman willing to put herself through a pregnancy, and we are just waiting for the planets to align so that this family of ours can grow.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

From Wounds to Scars

A week or so ago a dear blog friend of mine, emilythehopeless, came under attack by a group of adult adoptees. The attacks were so ruthless and horrid that she decided to move out of her blog home, and the world of infertility blogs lost an amazing voice. Part of the blogging experience is dealing with negative comments it is just something that comes with the territory. This went way beyond hurtful comments; these people took it upon themselves to contact the adoption attorney that she is using and inform the attorney that they believed that she was an unsuitable candidate for adoption. This is taking the whole thing to a level of insanity that I just cannot wrap my head around.

I have thought a lot about this situation and have tried, as an adult adoptee, to understand where these people were coming from. In the end, I cannot. In my teen years, like most teens, I was angry at the world. Adoption was my ammunition because that is what I had to work with and it would have been some other issue if I had one as powerful. Anger at the world is just part of the growing up experience for most of us. Adoption is not an easy issue for anyone involved in the process. As an adoptee I felt abandoned, unloved, unwanted, and lived in constant fear of abandonment. Living in that space becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, you become the person that no one wants to be around and every person that tries to get close to you had to wade through the swamp of misery to do so, and who wants to put that much time and energy to a black hole of misery. I found myself caught in this vicious cycle that was difficult to free myself from.

At some point, I realized that it was so much easier to live my life in a state of happiness instead of the misery I had wallowed in for years. Of course, people had been telling me this all along, but it is not something that you learn until you are able to experience it for yourself. Misery was comfortable I knew how to function in that world. Learning to be happy was a long process, but life was so much easier once I got to that place.

As an adult I am grateful that I was adopted. I am grateful that my parents wanted me so badly that they were willing to jump through countless hoops to become my parents. I am grateful that my birth-mother wanted me to have a better life than what she could provide, and made the difficult decision to place me in the care of others. Most of all I am grateful that I have been able to learn and grow in ways that I would have never been able to. Seeing these adults, and I use that term very loosely, have the need to attack others because they are unable to move on from this pain, has given me a new perspective of where I could have ended up. Without being able to recognize that I have my own issues, and that these issues are my responsibility, I could have been these people who need to focus on others rather than dealing with themselves.

No one has the perfect life. We all live with deep wounds, some more traumatic than others, but just as horrible to us personally. Given the chance, all of us would change some parts of our lives; it is part of being human. What makes us adults is the ability to let the wounds grow scabs and become scars. The ability to recognize that we are not defined by our pasts is so incredibly freeing. For me to know that I have survived the pain of so many parts of my life has made me a stronger person.

Knowing that one day I am going to have to tell our child that I am not biologically their mother is not something that I am looking forward to, but it is something that I know I can handle. All my experiences have taught me that there is very little I can deal with in this life. Those experiences have also taught me that no matter the reaction the child has, that one day they will understand that all the decisions we have made and all we have done was because we love them more than words can convey. Every twist and turn that occurred in making our child a reality was done because we have loved him or her for years before they were a reality.