Monday, December 29, 2008

Not Ready

 I haven't written much lately because I'm in a really bad place emotionally right now, worse than I've been in a long, long time. Why?  Well, Christmas pretty much destroyed me this year.  It wasn't all the kids around or thinking about all the Christmases during which we've said maybe next year. What wrecked me is the conversation DH and I had on Christmas night.  What wrecked me is that DH has decided that he's not sure he's ready to be a dad and he wants to slow things down.  

Here are his reasons:

His family:  DH has some major family issues.  He has no contact with his biological father, his mother, stepfather, or his half-sister. Their treatment of him has been horrible for many years and on many levels, so his decision to have no contact is completely justified.  However, though he would never admit it, I think DH feels like there's something wrong with him to have had people close to him treat him so badly.  How does this affect his thinking about parenthood?  I believe it makes DH feel that he's not good enough to be a parent, worthy enough to be a parent. He's also worried that he's going to screw up like his parents did.  

Us: We've been arguing quite a bit lately.  I think it's because of the stress of the holidays.  He's feeling the lack of family.  I'm feeling the lack of a child.  DH has always been supportive, but his attitude is that we can't dwell on what we don't have.  He doesn't get the whole IF grief thing. He thinks I'm too negative. He asked, "Do we want to have a child because we love each other or because everyone else has one?" Of course, I want to have a child because I love him and want to parent with him, but the fact that everyone else has a child is painful to me. And the holidays, with the daily onslaught of cute kid photo Christmas cards, shopping for other people's kids, and fun-filled kid-centered events, make it all the more painful. We've been picking at each other over little things.  In less stressful times, we do argue from time to time, mostly about housework, but I think we're pretty typical.   However, DH is concerned that we're going to become like his parents and that our child will grow up like he did with constant arguing.  I think once the holidays pass, things will get back to normal, which isn't perfect but is good.  

Me: Apparently, DH is worried that he's going to get squeezed out once we have a child.  He thinks he won't have any say in how our child is raised and that he'll just be there to pay the bills.  This one really pisses me off to be honest.  At the same time that DH says he's worried about this, he's encouraging me to read books like The Connected Child and Parenting the Hurt Child and to "just tell him about it," rather than actually reading them himself.  The thing is that I've always thought that DH will be very involved dad.  I feel like he is a great complement to me.  I'm a worrier.  He's pretty easygoing. I've watched him interact with my nieces and he's such a natural.  I don't know what to think about his view that I'm going to take over.  I'm trying to tell myself that is has more to do with his own insecurities than with a negative image of me. 

DH didn't say that we should stop the adoption process entirely. He said that he wants to talk to a counselor while the process is going on, before we get a placement.  He definitely doesn't want to rush things (no efficient follow-up calls, no harassing our social worker to finish the homestudy, no searching through photolistings). He has followed through and does have an appointment with a counselor this week. 

As you can imagine, what I heard during this conversation is that the adoption isn't going to happen.  I heard that voice again, the one that's been quiet lately, the one that says "nothing ever works out for you, how could you think it was actually going to happen this time, you should have known better than to actually believe you'd have a happy ending."  I know it's an overreaction, but nevertheless it's what I feel.   Recently, I was starting to view the future with excitement.  I was going to work on our kid room this week while I was on vacation.  My friends, family, and coworkers have been enthusiastically asking questions about our timeline.  I was actually feeling expectant. Imagine that, me--expectant.  Now I don't know what to think, what to feel.  All I know is that I'm hurting. . .a lot.  And it sucks. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We Belong Together

I got a surprise package in the mail a few days ago. It was from P, one of my closest friends. She and I were roommates when we both lived in California. Although we only lived together for a year, and that was 15 years ago, we just clicked at the time, partly due to supporting each other through various crises in our (but mostly her) life: a major break up, a major unrequited love, a TV falling on her head, a hit and run on my car, getting caught in a riot, an attempted mugging in her classroom before school started. We bonded tightly that year and have remained close even though we now live on opposite coasts. Inside the package was a children's book called We Belong Together by Todd Parr. P and I are both children's book addicts. We Belong Together is a book about adoption. My favorite parts are below:

We belong together because. . .you needed someone to help you grow healthy and strong and we had help to give. Now we can grow up together.

We belong together because. . .you needed someone to kiss your boo-boos and we had kisses to give. Now we can all hold hands.

We belong together because. . .you needed someone to say "I love you" and we had love to give. Now, we all have someone to kiss goodnight.

It made me cry. . . in a good way.  I can't wait to read it to our child.  

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Moving On(ward)

I'm taking a step away from my ranting posts about easily pregnant newlyweds to share that as of today DH and I have taken two more steps toward meeting our child. This afternoon DH had his individual interview with our social worker. All went well. DH was nervous about it. Well, he didn't say he was nervous about it. He said he didn't want to talk about it, which translates to--- he was nervous about it. I reassured him that he would do fine. Then I warned him not to screw it up. OK, I didn't really warn him not to screw it up. . .that wouldn't be very supportive. . .I didn't say it in those exact words anyway. . .I'm kidding. . .mostly. Actually, I gave him a kiss and told him to be himself. And I did ask him if he used the last of the toilet paper while he was home in the morning to please replace the roll before our SW came, just in case.

I called him from work to see how it went. He shared two highlights with me. One was that our SW said we have really good dogs (thank you to whoever suggested frozen peanut butter in the kongs). It turns out he's more of a dog person that I thought. He actually adopted a dog from the same shelter from which we adopted one of ours. The second highlight was that our SW said he admired DH for how he acted toward J, one of our fellow MAPP class attendees. J has a good heart, but he's one of those people who always have a story about themselves to share during a discussion. Every conversation path led back to him. It didn't matter what the topic was, J had something personal to say about it. There were several classes when we might have got out early if J hadn't started sharing. After a few meetings, some others in class started rolling their eyes when J started talking and they were not the most social to him during break time. No one was outright rude, but no one was clamoring to chat with J. DH would actually respond to J's stories with a quick comment and would happily chat with him during break. As he told me, "J's not a bad guy. He just talks too much." He was extremely patient and our SW, who was also one of our MAPP trainers, noticed. I know my guy is a good guy, but I'm glad that it was clear to our SW, too.

That's was DH's step toward our child. Mine was to get a physical done today. During our training, they warned us that the medical reference form is the one most likely to hold up the completion of the homestudy-doctors are busy and forms get lost in the shuffle. Last week when I called my doctor's office to make an appointment for the physical, the earliest one they would give me was late January. I decided to be assertive (unusual for me) and I even played the adoption card. Luckily, it garnered some sympathy and they got me in with a resident today. He filled out the form in front of me and I just have to stick it in the mail tomorrow. Yay me! Now we wait for the rest of the reference forms to be completed and returned, and then we meet with our SW one more time. I love forward motion!

Just a note about my recent ranting about my coworkers/TTCers. I am so grateful for all the supportive comments. It feels good to be understood. I'm feeling a bit better about my "drowning in pregnancies" situation now. Maybe it's only because I feel like my life is moving forward today, but I have a more laid-back attitude about it. I needed to rage and cry for a couple of days about the unfairness of it all. I'm sure they'll be some painful moments this year when I'll come back to it, but at this point it is what it is. And for the moment, I'm moving on(ward).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Split Personality

Here I am, thrilled that our homestudy is underway and looking forward to the real possibility of a child in our lives in the next year, and yet I'm still feeling rocked by the second pregnancy announcement at work. I'm trying really hard to reconcile my conflicting emotions. I wrote a few weeks ago about the first of my four ttcing coworkers announcing her pregnancy to the staff. She's due in May. Well, I just found out today that #2 is pregnant. She's due on August 5. This is the one who was concerned that it was taking so long (4 months) so she went ahead with some basic fertility testing-bloodwork, a semen analysis, and an HSG. The test results came back fine, and lo and behold she got pregnant on her next cycle. She hasn't officially announced her pregnancy yet, but she confided her news to my closest friend at work and swore her to secrecy. Luckily, my friend decided my emotional well-being was more important that keeping a secret. She gave me a heads up so I wouldn't be caught off guard at the next staff meeting. I won't spill the beans and I am soooo grateful to my friend. There's nothing like an unexpected pregnancy announcement to bring an IFer to tears. And tears typically don't go over well at work.

In the next breath, my friend said, "So you're OK with T being pregnant." I'm sorry to say that I went off on her a bit. I said (a little too angrily since it's not her fault and she's a good friend), "No, I'm not OK with it. Why would you think I'm OK with it?! It f-king sucks. It hurts. It's going to be one hell of a sucky year, surrounded by pregnant women. But there's nothing I can do about it. So I'll deal." And I will deal because what else is there to do? Especially since all the women with whom I work have good hearts, including the pregnant ones. I'll smile and wish her well. I'll listen to her students tell everyone their teacher is going to have a baby, because that's what little kids do. They take on their teacher's happy news as their own. And I'll listen to my students ask me when I'm going to have a baby, because that's what little kids do. They expect you to give them a piece of the action. I'll listen to the cheerful voices wishing her congratulations (OMG, how wonderful! You must be thrilled!!!) and compare them to the voices consoling us when I shared that we're adopting (Oh, well, that's nice. I bet you'll get pregnant for sure now.). I'll listen to her plan for her paid maternity leave, knowing that, because I'm not giving birth, DH and I have to scrimp and save now for my unpaid adoption leave.

The thing is that I'm still excited about adopting. It seems more and more real every day and I feel more and more certain that it's actually going to happen. We are going to be parents. I'm thinking about furniture and painting the room and potty training and preschool. But it's like those happy adoption thoughts and emotions are on a completely different side of my brain than the "Shoot me, so I don't have to hear another pregnancy announcement" thoughts and emotions. They are separate from each other. One one side, I rage against the unfairness of it all and on the other I am deeply grateful for the chance to be a mom through adoption. I feel like I have a split personality.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

One down

Our first homestudy interview ended about an hour ago. This was my individual interview and I was worried about not having DH with me, but it was not bad at all. Our social worker said that because our profile questionnaire was so detailed, he didn't have as many questions as he usually does. For once, my overly detailed writing style paid off. A pat on the back to me! The interview lasted about an hour and 20 minutes.

He had some questions about our support network. We have a great one between my parents, my sister and BIL, and lots of friends. He asked if there was a possibility I could get pregnant and how that would affect our adoption plans. I stopped him in his tracks when I told him we were preventing. But I also told him that if we stop preventing, I have a less than 1% chance of getting pregnant so it is extremely unlikely. And of course, we would never consider disrupting the adoption because I got pregnant. Apparently, that's not always the case. He told me stories of adoptive parents "sending kids back" when the pre-adoptive mom got a BFP. I was shocked!

A big topic of conversation was the limits DH and I have in terms of special needs. All kids who are in foster care have some kind of abuse and/or neglect in their backgrounds. That combined with the sometimes impermanence of foster care placements can lead to kids having emotional, behavioral, and intellectual difficulties. In my state, applicants who adopt from foster care are asked to fill out a sheet listing lots of special needs and to indicate which they are open to. DH and I have decided that we draw the line at hurting animals, acting out sexually on other children, and starting fires to burn things down (as opposed to starting fires to experiment-yes that is an option and we decided that sometimes kids play with matches-it doesn't mean he's a pyromaniac). Also, we feel that a child with intense medical needs wouldn't be a good match for us since we both work and don't know if we can deal with all the additional doctors appointments, on top of the large number of doctors appointments kids require anyway. However, we are open to children with a myriad of other medical needs including prenatal drug exposure and various physical disabilities, ADHD, learning differences, behavioral issues, etc.

It feels uncomfortable to pick and choose these things because it's not something parents get to do. Most people get pregnant, have a baby, and deal with whatever issues that child ends up having. It makes me feel a little less like a "real" parent to say I'll take this but not this. But then again I think to myself that I would have a lot more control over my child's formative months and years if I conceived him, delivered him, and raised him from birth, than I will by adopting from foster care. Maybe I should just accept this little bit of control as a gift. Mostly this process feels uncomfortable because it feels like we're discarding some kids, saying some aren't worthy or lovable, and who wants to feel like they're doing that to children? However, I also know DCF wants as few disrupted adoptions as possible and the best way to ensure that is for people to be honest about what they can and cannot handle. And we only have this choice now. Once we adopt our child, we'll be like any other parents. Whatever issues arise or whatever we need to do for our child, we will.

We also spoke about age and gender. We're open to a child of any age from birth to five years old, although we've perused profiles of six-year-olds and thought "maybe. . ." I'm open to either gender because I figure that if we got pregnant we wouldn't have a choice. However, I know DH would prefer a boy and I'm fine with that since I don't have a preference of my own. Also, there are more boys in care and more people want girls than boys so preference for a boy should decrease our wait time a bit.

The last subject we discussed was legal risk. In foster-adopt terms, a legal risk placement is one in which the child is not legally free for adoption. DCF has decided that their goal for the child is adoption and are moving toward a termination of parental rights (TPR) of the birthparents. However, there is not a guarantee that TPR will be granted by the court. It more than likely will be, but there is always the risk that the court will order the child to be reunified with the birthparents. A child who is legally free for adoption has already been TPRed so reunification is not a possibility. Younger children are almost always legal risk. Older children are more likely to be legally free. DH and I have a lot of talking to do about this and I don't really know what we'll decide.

I guess a lot more was covered in the interview than I realized. I am just so relieved to have that step done. DH has his individual interview scheduled for late next week. Then it will be two down.

Monday, December 1, 2008

She can't really be pregnant, can she? %#@&

I swear this isn't like me. I'm not a hateful person. But I'm sending anti-BFP vibes out right now. . .and they're directed toward someone who did IVF. I know, I know, that seems pretty evil, but there's a story behind it and if anyone deserves to feel the pain of a failed IVF, it's this woman. Let's call her B. Don't worry, this isn't a member of our blogging community. She's a friend of a friend and she said the meanest thing anyone has ever said about me and DH and our struggle to have children. When told by my friend that it was taking us a long time to get pregnant and that we were doing IVF (apparently as some kind of cautionary tale when B. was sure she was pregnant three days after ovulating during her first cycle TTC), B. said, "Maybe they just aren't meant to have kids." When asked to clarify, B. said, "They aren't meant to be parents, obviously. It's not working out for them, probably because they won't be good at it. God must be trying to tell them that."

Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of B. before. I knew her through my friend and have spent time with her over the years at various functions. I always found her to be self-absorbed and superficial. So probably it probably wasn't a conversation that should have been shared with me in the first place. But the second I heard it, I knew it was accurate (it sounds just like B.) and I felt hate in my heart for this woman. Hate is a strong word, but there's no doubt that's what I felt. I actually hoped that she would have trouble conceiving, just so she could feel some of the pain DH and I felt. I thought it might educate her, help her grow as a person, and at least stop her from ever saying something like that again.

Well, it turns out that the Universe has some sense of justice because B. did have trouble getting pregnant. I kept track of her through my friend. I will admit that I felt a small sense of satisfaction whenever I heard that she still wasn't pregnant. After a year of trying, she made the trip to the RE that all of us have made and found out they have male factor IF. I wrote "they", but that's not how B. viewed it. She made sure everyone knew it was "him" that was the problem and that she was "fine." I would not have wanted to be in her DH's place when they got the diagnosis. They ended up doing IVF. Her ER was on November 23 and her ET was on November 26.

And now I hear from my friend that B. is pregnant with twins. I don't know how she could have a BFP so soon-9 dpER-or possibly know it's twins. I guess it's possible that she could have POAS and got a positive, but I suspect it may be a case of B. "just knowing" that she's pregnant. Even so, I wouldn't be surprised if she is. I will be so disappointed. I knew she had a decent chance doing IVF/ICSI with no female issues at all if she got some good eggs, but I wanted her to hurt just a little bit more. I wanted her to wonder if God was trying to tell her something. I wanted her to not get what she wants, to not feel vindicated, for just a little bit longer. IVF#2 would have been good enough (OK that's probably a lie. It wouldn't have been good enough but it would have been better than IVF#1).

I've wondered why I feel so strongly about B. and why her words cause me such pain, especially now when I've given up on the possibility of getting pregnant. I've asked myself if B.'s words hurt so much because I believe they have some truth to them, but that's honestly not the case. I don't believe God is keeping us from getting pregnant or trying to tell us that we aren't meant to be parents. I think it's just that I've never had someone say something so plainly mean about me with such a sense of superiority attached to it. I've encountered lots of ignorance during this journey, but I've never encountered such complete ugliness of heart.

And now I have that ugliness in my own heart and I'm not proud of it. In fact, I'm slightly, maybe more than slightly, ashamed of myself. I don't particularly like the person I am or the feelings I have when I think of B.. I've thought of myself as a fairly forgiving person, but I cannot seem to let go of B.'s words. I probably should hope that she is pregnant because it might help me to move on. As a matter of fact, a BFP for B. would probably be the best thing for me right now.

But you guys will have to wish for it because I. Just. Can't. Do. It.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Will Not Be Silent about Infertility


Taina at We Are What We Repeatedly Do has deemed me worthy of the Speak Out, Speak Up award. I appreciate her high opinion of me-that I have the "strength of character to speak out without being a bitch." I know for sure that there are some who would strongly disagree with her on that point. ;)

I guess the award is an affirmation of my loud mouth. I have been far from quiet about my infertility. My immediate family has been in the know since our first RE appointment and I came out to my extended family just before our first IVF over a year ago. I have not been shy with my coworkers either. That openness has led to awkward moments like walking back to my classroom after an IUI and getting a thumbs up from a coworker, to touching moments like a group of coworkers taking my class for a day because I was sick as a dog and they knew I wanted to get better in time for my retrieval.

For a while I was open about my own infertility, but I wasn't quick to confront the ignorance of others head on. But with time I've grown more comfortable and now I have no problem calling people on stupid comments. I don't go around bitchslapping strangers, but friends and acquaintances best watch out if they feel the need to joke about "something in the water" or how if so-and-so relaxes she'll get pregnant. The most recent comment was said by a very good friend about a coworker who has been trying for four whole months. She actually said that if C. stops stressing about it, it will happen. I nailed her with the whole " women in war zones get pregnant, they're pretty stressed... and what about women who live in poverty, they get pregnant, aren't they stressed, what about women who are raped. . ." She cried uncle, as she should have.

My final task as a recipient of this award is to tag four others who have not been silent about their infertility. My nominees are:

Shelby because I know she hopes to be more open when the time is right

Wendy because she's just really cool

Cindy because I know being honest has bitten her in the ass at times (see her November 10 post)

and Steph because she kicks ass as one of the most supportive IFers I know

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Pill

Did I mention that I'm back on the pill? With so many women in the IF blogosphere trying so hard to get pregnant, it feels sacrilegious for me to say that I have eliminated all chance of that surprise miracle pregnancy that is destined to come to us because we're adopting-you know, that pregnancy that everyone mentions when I share our adoption news. They can't just say congratulations; they have to say, "Now you just know what's going to happen. . ." because everyone knows you can't really be happy as a mom until you've had "one of your own." I apologize for the rant, but the half-congratulations and unfriendly adoption language have been getting to me lately.

Anyway, I've been back on the pill for two months. I struggled with the decision. Our chances of getting pregnant on our own are far less than 1%, but it was hard to take away that possibility, especially since adoption has increased our chances **rolling eyes**. But after I stopped treatment, my body had a major meltdown. Over the summer, during every cycle my cramps started a week and a half before my period and were really bad. Accompanying the cramps was some pretty yucky nausea, which sometimes caused me to lose my breakfast but mostly caused me to lie in bed with a pillow over my head taking deep "don't throw up, don't throw up" breaths. Both the cramps and the nausea continued into my period and, to top it all off, my period was heavier than it's been in a long time. It's always been on the heavy side so you can imagine what these post-infertility treatment periods were like. It was like going back in time to when I was 13, the age at which I went on the pill for the first time due to debilitating cramps (yes, I do wonder if being on the pill at such a young age has anything to do with my infertility). This summer it was as though my body was regressing back to those days. I wonder if it had something to do with my body making one final push toward menopause. I already have Diminished Ovarian Reserve. Maybe the true end of my fertility is closer than I realized.

My gynecologist said it was probably the endometriosis coming back. I don't necessarily agree because the endo they found during my lap in 2006 was light and certainly hadn't been there since I was a teenager. I think it more likely that I just have a f*@&ed up body. She suggested the pill or the IUD, but said with the pill I could come off it more easily if I ever wanted to. She gave me a prescription so I could fill it when I was ready. I resisted until I started back to work after summer vacation and realized how much more miserable the cramps and nausea are when dealing with 20 six-year-olds.

I finally threw in the towel last month. . .and it's been a blessed relief. I'm not in pain. I'm not nauseous. I don't have to go to to stock up on tampons anymore. I feel better than I have in a while. I don't know what it means that I feel better with fake hormones coursing through my body than I do in my natural state, except that, as I said earlier, I have a f*@&ed up body. It's been a relief mentally as well. There's no wondering if I could be pregnant, no "I'm not trying, but I'm still hoping" 2ww, no overanalysis of PMS symptoms. I feel more free than I have at anytime since we started trying. I have control over my body, specifically my fertility now. I may not be pregnant this cycle, but this time it's my choice. I know this choice is just an illusion, but I'll gladly take the illusion of control over reality right now.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One more thing to be grateful for

We heard from DSS today and a social worker has been assigned to our case. He's the same worker who came to our home to do our preMAPP interview. He was also one of our MAPP trainers, so we know him quite well. We scheduled our first homestudy visit and interview for Wednesday, December 3. For this interview it will be just me. He needs to do individual interviews with each of us and then he'll schedule a visit with both of us together. The visit on December 3 will last about 90 minutes to 2 hours. That tidbit of information threw me a little bit because I can't imagine talking to this man for that length of time, but shoot, I'll talk to anyone for 2 hours if it gets me closer to being a mom.

I am very excited and a little nervous. I'm especially nervous about our dogs. I love them, but they are overly exuberant and very slobbery. They settle down quickly, but I'm afraid the initial reaction might be a little overwhelming. Last time, they "greeted" our social worker and then we put them out on the deck, where they happily sunbathed for the entire time. I don't think putting our dogs on the deck in December is the best way to sell ourselves as responsible potential parents. I'm hoping a long walk before the worker arrives and some kongs filled with peanut butter will do the trick. Any tips?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me (and I Actually Mean It)

Today I turned 39 and, you know, it wasn't so bad. Last year was a tough birthday for me. Turning 38 put me into the advanced, advanced maternal age category. For my clinic, that meant a major nosedive in success rates for IVF. I had just had IVF#2 converted to yet another useless IUI after developing a dominant follicle. I knew IVF#3 was coming, and I had really hoped to start it before my 38th birthday, as though my chances would immediately drop upon reaching November 17. But my E2 level was too high to cycle so I had to go on BCPs instead and my cycle was pushed back to December. I could feel time slipping away from me and my chances of a pregnancy along with it.

At 39, having stopped fertility treatments, I have virtually no chance of getting pregnant, but amazingly it's OK. I guess that's one of the benefits of choosing adoption. It's changed the nature of time for me. Instead of feeling like time is taking me farther away from a child, now I feel like it's bringing me closer to one. Each day that passes is one day closer to meeting our child, so I'll make a wish (non-TTC related), blow out my candles, and eat my cake with a smile. Bring on a new year!

P.S. I just got back from a family trip to Disney World and I'm a bit behind on my blog reading and commenting. I will work hard to catch up this week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Great Expectations. . .or not

One bit of advice that was repeated several times in the course of our MAPP training is that the best approach is to have no expectations of our child and of what parenting will be like. I understand the reason behind this advice: expectations can lead to disappointment and it's best to just deal with a situation as it is without comparing it to the image of what you expected it to be. To be honest I was annoyed by this advice. I thought, infertility has taken so much from me and now I have to give up hope too. Unlike all my friends who are parents, I can't have hope and dreams for my child? Screw that!

I stewed about all of it for a while, until it occurred to me that hope and expectation are not the same thing. I hoped that my closure IVF cycle would work, but I didn't expect it to. I hoped there were lots more eggs in follicles hiding in my ovary that, lo and behold, the RE would find during retrieval, but I didn't expect that to happen. I hoped my one little embryo would be the one, but I wasn't expecting it. It hurt when my last IVF cycle failed, but in a way I hadn't expected it to succeed in the first place (after all, there's a reason it's called closure). The pain was not the same as when IVF#2 got converted. Then I had expected to have the same number or more eggs as I'd had during IVF#1. I'd expected to transfer 3 embryos this time to up our odds. Instead, I ended up with one dominant follicle and an IUI. Now,that was disappointment.

So I've been thinking a lot about expectation vs. hope, and this is how I've come to see it:

Expectation is clearly defined. There's one outcome, an image of what the outcome will look like, and a way to get to that outcome. There is little room for deviation. In fact, deviation leads to disappointment. Expectation is, "I don't think that's too much to ask." Expectation is about control.

Hope is open-ended. It accepts the possibility that the journey may end up in a completely different place that the original destination. It is looking forward to happiness, to good things, without the specific plan of how those good things will come to pass. Hope is, "Wouldn't it be nice, but hey. . . it's all good." Hope is about letting go of control.

And so, I think what our MAPP trainers were warning us against was creating images in our minds of the happy family with the child who loves to read, play ball with Dad, who is smart, well-behaved, funny, and just makes us into the family we've always dreamed about. I think also they wanted to be sure that we don't expect a child to make life better for us, to erase the wounds of infertility. I can see how these expectations could become heavy burdens when loving a child who has experienced trauma. They're too narrow to allow healing to happen.

So DH and I are learning to let go of our expectations, but we still hold on to hope: hope that we can help our child heal from whatever hurts life has inflicted on him, that we'll help him meet his potential whatever it is, that we have enough love in our hearts to take whatever life hands us and make it better. We hope that hope is enough.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Woohoo! Yeah Baby!

We just got back from our final adoption class. We got a certificate and everything. Of course, it's not really the end of anything, but still it's a milestone. We also passed in our profile questionnaire which is now in the hands of the adoption unit supervisor. Now we wait for an adoption worker to be assigned to us and start scheduling our home visits. Why am I so excited about more waiting?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

I Heart Your Blog

Wendy, from Our Story, gave me the I Heart Your Blog Award. Wendy's blog chronicles her journey from IVF to adoption. Her story reminds me of mine in many ways, and I'm so happy for her as she moves forward with domestic newborn adoption.

The way it works is I need to answer the following questions with single word responses. Then I'm supposed to pass on the award to 7 other bloggers:

1. Where is your cell phone? Purse
2. Where is your significant other? Cooking
3. Your hair color? Chestnut
4. Your mother? Loving
5. Your father? Funny
6. Your favorite thing? Family
7. Your dream last night? Random
8. Your dream/goal? Happiness
9. The room you're in? Cozy
10. Your hobby? Reading
11. Your fear? Loss
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Motherhood
13. Where were you last night? Restaurant
14. What you're not? Energized
15. One of your wish list items? Child
16. Where you grew up? Massachusetts
17. The last thing you did? Wine
18. What are you wearing? Jeans
19. Your T.V.? Off
20. Your pet? Snoring
21. Your computer? Mac
22. Your mood? Melancholy
23. Missing someone? Always
24. Your car? Subaru
25. Something you're not wearing? Contacts
26. Favorite store? Borders
27. Your Summer? Relaxing
28. Love someone? Lots
29. Your favorite color? Green
30. When is the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Today

I'm always bad about passing on tags and awards. I'm the same way about chain emails. Here are a few blogs I love to read. I know it's not seven, but most of my other faves have already been tagged/awarded:

We Are What We Repeatedly Do
Are You There God? It's Me, Cindy, and I Want a Baby!
A Long and Winding Road
The Great Big If. . .

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Finding My Place

One of the hardest parts of being at this stage in my life is feeling like I don't have a place where I really belong. I'm in between worlds right now. I'm not TTC. I'm not choosing to live childfree. I'm not an adoptive parent-yet. And even though I am expecting in a way, I don't fit in with those who are pregnant after infertility. We've come through infertility with different scars, different wounds. For the past two years, as I've been dealing with my journey through infertility to adoption, I've benefited from the generous support of amazing women on online infertility message boards. But as our paths diverge, I feel more and more out of place there. Unfortunately, so far I haven't found that type of connection with those in my situation of adopting from foster care. Many of the adoption boards I have seen focus on those who are already parenting. Or they're specific to international adoption or domestic newborn adoption, which can be quite different than adopting from foster care, at least at the beginning. I know once we're placed with a child, there will be more support options, more connections. But right now I'm feeling a bit lost. I have started forming real life connections with others in my MA.PP classes. My hope is that those connections will grow over the next few months as our homestudy is completed and we begin to wait. I'll admit that this real life thing is new for me. It's taking some getting used to talking about my worries and anticipation face to face.

My underlying worry is that this sense of not quite fitting in will never go away, even after I become a parent. Am I always going to feel uncomfortable or disconnected unless I'm with other adoptive parents? Will I be accepted and will I accept myself as a real parent? Am I always going to have the word adoptive attached to my description when others talk about me? What do I say when other mothers start talking about childbirth? What about when they reminisce about their child's first steps or first words, which I likely won't have witnessed in my child? How do I answer when they ask how I chose my child's name when I probably didn't have a choice? Of course the even bigger more important question is, if I feel like this, how can my child begin to feel comfortable with himself and his place in the world?

I don't doubt myself and our choice of adoption because I'm struggling to find my place or because I'm questioning what the future will look like. I know my questions aren't unique. Adoption can be a minefield of questions about identity and fitting in, about relationships and the definition of family, about rejection and conection. I just hope that I have the ability to find answers that work for me, DH, and our child.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just Adopt

I'm back. I'm sorry I've been gone so long. I don't really have a good excuse. I could say that I've been busy with school starting, busy with our adoption classes, busy with filling out the couple's profile, busy, busy, busy.  But really, it's just been hard to write lately. 

I guess I should start by saying that our adoption classes are going well.  I don't exactly look forward to spending 3 hours every Monday night in a windowless, stuffy room at Social Services hearing about sexual abuse, causes of fire starting behavior, and how to deal with bedwetting, but I know it will help us in the long run.  Luckily, the other people in the class are a cool bunch.  Out of eight couples in the class, more than half have dealt with infertility.  Two are same-sex couples.  There is one single woman.  I actually get to laugh a fair amount. With some of the material that's being covered, if I couldn't laugh, I'd have to cry. 

Our seventh class is this week, so one more to go.  DH and I are trying to get our 35-page profile questionnaire completed before then.  I'm embarrassed to say that I think we're the last ones in class to get it done.  It's not an easy task, as it's full of gems like, "What do you like most and least about each other? How do you show respect for each other's differences? Give examples." and "Describe the defining moments in your childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Give examples.  How have these moments impacted your views of parenting?"  There are many, many more questions, all with multiple parts.  And with my tendency to reflect and elaborate, I'm writing far too much for each one.  The 35-page profile is quickly gaining pages.  

However, my diarrhea of the keyboard may be necessary to counteract DH's brevity.  He has a horrible relationship with his family and is having a hard time writing about it. He's resorted to answers like "None" and "N/A".  I've tried to explain to him that "None" is not an acceptable answer to, "Describe your current relationship with your parents."  The social worker is going to expect more information.  I think he's slowly coming around.  I hope he's coming around. He'd better be coming around. 

Once the profile is handed in, we'll be assigned a social worker.  That person will schedule 2-4 home visits/interviews with us.  We'll also need to complete a Physical/Emotional/Behavioral Needs sheet.  We basically need to say what kind of tough stuff can we think we can deal with in a child we adopt.  When that's done, our worker will use the information from the home visit and the profile to write our homestudy.  Oh, we'll also need to get our fingerprints done.  That's a brand new requirement in our state. The timeline we're being given right now is that our homestudy might be done by the end of January/beginning of February.  Then we wait for a placement. 

Since we sent in our initial application to adopt in February of this year, that means we'll be just about a year into the process before our waiting even begins. If anyone ever again in my presence says, "Just adopt," I will hit him over the head with my 35-page. . .45-page. . .OK, 80-page profile.  That should knock some sense into him.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We got it

The invitation letter to our MAPP training came yesterday afternoon. In about a week and a half we'll have our first class. I feel like we're actually doing something toward making this happen, even though in reality we're just waiting to do something. It reminds me of when I went to RE#2 and got a plan for a new IVF protocol. It felt like getting a shot of a new feel-good drug. I guess hope is a high. I remember counting the days until AF would come and I could start lupron---and I hated lupron. I didn't know then that IVF wouldn't bring us the child we longed for, but I'm feeling confident that adoption will. And as of yesterday we're one step closer.

Monday, August 25, 2008

We're in unless I hear otherwise. . .la, la, la, la, la, la (fingers in ears)

I left a message for our adoption social worker almost two weeks ago asking when MAPP training would start. MAPP classes are the state-run classes all prospective foster and foster-adopt parents need to take in order to be licensed by the state. DH works a lot of nights and we need to arrange for him to swap shifts with people, so I was anxious to have dates in hand. Our social worker called me back last week and left a message. He said that classes start on Monday, September 8. He also said that they would be sending out the invite letters soon. A week later and we're still waiting for a letter, but I'm assuming we're in. He listed all the dates for me and ended his message with, "I hope to see you then." That's pretty much an invite, right? You would take it that way, wouldn't you?

I have a tendency to worry about things. I know it's ridiculous, but I would feel so much better having a letter as proof that we can attend, that we're moving on to the next step. I think that's one of the left-over pieces of infertility that I need to deal with---this low-level but ever-present worry that things aren't going to work out. I find that I often expect the worse. It's one of those shadows I wrote about in my last post. I know this will pass with time . . . with time and a damn letter from social services. Is that the mailman?

Monday, August 18, 2008

There is no light at the end of the tunnel, but then again there is no tunnel

I was talking with a friend last week about coming out the other side of infertility. She was saying that so often people think the other side of infertility is getting pregnant, but that's only one other side. This huge spiral amorphous beast called infertility has more than one way out, or at least out of the darkest part of it. And I think I'm closer to being out of it than I ever thought possible. 

For a while, I was picturing my movement away from the depths of the darkness of infertility, where I've spent the last three years, as moving toward the light at the end of the tunnel.  Then I realized that infertility isn't like a tunnel.  There's no straight shot from Point A to Point B. Early in my journey, that's how I saw it.  I thought I would move down the continuum of infertility treatments and eventually get to end of the tunnel: a BFP. Well, I never got there, and I have since learned from some of my infertile friends that, sadly, a BFP isn't necessarily the end of the tunnel anyway.  

So instead I've come to see infertility as an enormous black cloud constantly overhead.  It was its own weather system, visible on radar, affecting everything I did, every decision I made. Sometimes I was under the deepest, darkest part of the cloud and I didn't see the sun for days and weeks at a time.  During those times, I couldn't imagine that there would ever be sun again, unless I got pregnant.  I forgot what the sun felt like on my face.  I thought I would always live in darkness. Maybe I even started to think that I wasn't worthy of light-that I deserved to be in this sad, miserable place.  I didn't realize that I didn't deserve the unhappiness of infertility any more than someone deserves bad weather.  And I had no more control over being infertile than I had over whether it rains or the sun comes out tomorrow.  

Every once in a while there were breaks in the cloud and the sun came shining through. Maybe it was because I was taking a break from treatment, maybe it was because I saw a new RE and had a new plan, maybe it was because I came across a post about an adoption conference in my area.  I thought, "Ah, yes this is what it feels like to be happy, to feel hopeful, to live again." It took more than a few of these moments before I began to think that perhaps I didn't have to live under the cloud, even if I never did get pregnant.  I couldn't move the cloud, but possibly I could move myself. Maybe I could walk out from under it.  Maybe pregnancy wasn't going to be my deliverance-a thought that was unthinkable, or at least unacceptable, just months before.  I came to that revelation through necessity when our last IVF failed.  But really I was starting to get there before then, when I began to think that adopting might be better than hurting like I was, when I began to wonder which I wanted more---to be pregnant or to be a parent. 
I don't really know how or when it happened, but right now I feel like I'm living right at the edge of the cloud.  Most of the time I'm in the sun. Once in a while, the cloud casts a shadow over me, but it passes.  I don't panic anymore or sink into the depths of despair because I know the darkness is only temporary.  Even my hatred toward my body will heal, I believe.   I don't feel angry at fate for its capricousness or at ignorant fertiles for their ignorance. What I am starting to feel is peace.  Now that doesn't mean I don't feel hurt, when others squeal over my colleague's baby bump or my friend shares all the glorious details of her ultrasound.  But the pain isn't as deep and doesn't last long.  I know that--- the squeals, the bump, the ultrasound---won't ever be mine and I'm beginning to be OK with that. 

I came across this quote here, and it resonated with me: 
A woman in Barbara Eck Menning's classic study Infertility said, "My infertility resides in my heart like an old friend. I do not hear from it for weeks at a time, and then, a moment, a thought, a baby announcement or some such thing, and I will feel the tug---maybe even be sad or shed a few tears. And I think 'there's my old friend; It will always be a part of me. . .' "
Perhaps I'm not quite at the point of seeing infertility as "my old friend", but I can live with it always being a part of me.  I never, ever thought I would say that.  

Monday, August 4, 2008

Body Hate

So I can't deny any longer that I'm fat.  Very fat.  I'm not "need to be lifted out of my bed with a crane, Richard Simmons is my friend" fat, but I am "shop at Lane Bryant, turn sideways through the turnstile" fat.  It's not a total surprise because I've been fat before, but I thought I never would be again.  I used to hate my body, but I got worried about my health when my parents were both diagnosed with Type II diabetes. Worried enough that I made a change.  I started cooking and eating nutritious food and skiing and kayaking and running.  My body was strong and healthy and I liked it that way.  Heck, I loved it that way.

Then I started TTC and my body turned on me.  Ironically it looked healthy but it was actually messed up inside.  So now I guess I've turned on my body.  It's defective and isn't worthy of health.  I know that's not a rational way to think about it, but I also know that's the way I feel deep down. In the past, I was able to work out and change my eating habits to get my body healthy.  I know how to do it and I know I'm capable of doing it.  But somehow it's not worth the effort now.  

Intellectually, I know that I need to make it worth the effort, but I'm not sure how to deal with the emotional piece.  I don't have any answers.  I'm just hoping that writing about it will help me sort out the pieces.  

Friday, August 1, 2008

Home Visit and Cold Feet

We had our home visit yesterday.  I spent the last two days cleaning and organizing.  My closets are neat, my fridge is spotless, and my windows are streak-free.  We passed, which wasn't a hard feat because all that the social worker did was peek at our "child's" room (to make sure it's big enough to hold a child), test the smoke detectors, and check for exits.  I tried to think of subtle ways to get him to notice the scrubbed baseboards and the neatly stacked tupperware, but everything I came up with seemed slightly awkward. If you don't mind waiting just a minute, I'll get you a tupperware container to take that bottled water back to the office in (I should have baked cookies; I could have offered a container then).  Oops, I dropped the matching (and easily accessible) lid right next to our squeaky clean baseboard. No worries. Oh, look how the sunlight streaming in from the crystal clear window glass through the lid makes a prism on the freshly scrubbed wall. Anyway, we should get a letter soon inviting us to take MAPP classes, our next step in the process, in September.    

Which is just great timing in light of the fact that DH and I are now beginning to question whether we can or even want to do this.  By "this", I mean become parents.  Is that shocking? I think it must because I could never even say those words out loud to anyone I know in real life. They just get stuck in my throat. Why are we having cold feet now?

DH has the more noble category of concerns and questions. He's worried about what kind of parent he's going to be.  He didn't have the best examples growing up and he doesn't want to pass that junk on to his child.  He's concerned that he'll fail in his efforts to teach our child what he or she needs to know to be a good person.  I think he's worried about having the same kind of messed up relationship with our child that he has with his parents.  

As for me, well, my fears are (embarrassingly) selfish ones.  For the first time in a long time, I feel like my life belongs to me.  I'm not anxious or stressed out about anything.  I don't have to plan my life around appointments and injections.  I love spending time with DH without the cloud of treatments hanging over our heads all the time. It's like when we were dating, but better.  I feel so free.  Am I ready to give up this newly rediscovered control over my life for the roller coaster of adoption and parenthood?  

If we had got pregnant from our last IVF, we might have had the same worries, but we wouldn't have perceived that there was a choice.  We would have just kept going down the path on which we started three years ago. But, as preadoptive parents, we do have a choice.  We could stop all this right now and live our lives child-free: be the favorite auntie and uncle to all our friends' kids, travel, go out to dinner, drink wine, and have only each other to worry about.  I've never actually considered that before and now that I'm examining the possibility of a life without adoption,  having that choice makes the whole situation feel overwhelming.  

From what I've read and heard, all our fears are normal.  But still they make me doubt myself. That's what fear always does, right? I can't say that the thought of turning away from adoption brings me less fear.  It doesn't feel right to me at all.  In fact, it's enough to nearly bring on a panic attack. But I am afraid that the adoption process will turn me into the person I was when we were going through treatments.  I don't want to be that unhappy, stressed out person again.  Now that I have a bit of distance from it, I just can't go back there--I can't.  I guess the benefit of cold feet is that you get to look at your situation and make a conscious choice about how to deal with it, rather than going through the motions. You feel the doubt and fear and move through it, more aware of the pitfalls, and maybe, just maybe, being more capable of avoiding them.  Or at least that's my hope.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ending Rituals

There are rituals for every beginning and ending in life. We have baby showers, christenings, graduations, weddings, funerals, and countless other events to mark the passage from one stage or life to another. I've noticed lately that I've created my own rituals for the beginning and end of fertility treatments.

When I began treatments, in particular IVF, I made an injection space for myself in our spare bedroom. I made space for my meds in the fridge. I set up a folder with my instructions and bookmarked the Vill.age website. I bought pregnancy tests. Everything in my life was prepared for the cycle. I set my cellphone alarm every day and evening so I would never forget to do an injection at the correct time. I put a bottle of water by my bed every night before blood work so I would remember to drink it first thing in the morning. It made it easier for the blood techs to draw blood from my little veins. I put my phone on vibrate every afternoon so I could know when the nurse was calling with instructions without disturbing the peace. And then, before we knew it, all this structure wasn't necessary anymore and it was time to move on with life. And it was hard because I knew how to do IVF. I'd done it four times. Moving on was new to me.

Ending treatments has led to rituals all its own. I cleared off the bureau that was my injection space. I packed up the sharps container that I hadn't discarded because it still had room to be filled and asked DH to bring it to the hospital for me. I got rid of my old meds: no more follistim or cetrocide in my fridge next to the tomatoes. I planned a vacation for the first time in two years without checking FF to see when I might be ovulating. I have started filling up my wine rack again. I stopped taking prenatals and stocked up on feminine hygiene supplies. I started drinking caffeinated coffee again a few times a week..

All these little rituals have been performed with a sense of purpose. They haven't just happened. I've made myself do them. Why? I guess for the same reason we have christenings, weddings, and funerals. They mark the moment when one part of life ends and another begins. Without that mark, I think we would be less able to move on, more likely to get stuck where we are. I feel like my end-of-treatment rituals are helping me to let go. Each one brings me a step further away from our last devastating IVF result and closer to finding peace with all of this.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

To My Dear Friend on the Day After Her Wedding

Dear Friend, 

First, I'll tell you again that you were an absolutely beautiful bride last night. You and your new husband were so visibly happy and hopeful about the future and all it holds for you. On my card to you, I wrote that I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness. That's true, but there are other things I wish and hope for you that I didn't feel I could put on the card:  

I wish you hadn't told everyone that you were going to TTC right away (starting last night). You've been so open about starting a family immediately. I hope that you don't regret your honesty as time wears on.  

I wish that the excitement you felt last night, as you and DH had "baby-making sex" for the first time, is all you ever feel as you TTC. I hope you never feel like sex becomes a chore because you're having it not because you want to but because your chart or your doctor say you have to. May you never ever feel the need to let an OPK tell you when to make love with your husband.

I wish for you that you get pregnant quickly, that you get to see the two pink lines you long for in the next few months. I hope you never begin to wonder if maybe sex won't lead to a baby after all and start researching REs online "just in case."

I know you'll find a sweet and clever way to share the BFP with your husband.  I wish for you to always remember that moment when you both knew your love for each other was going to be made tangible in the world.  I hope you never have the memory of your husband holding your hand as the nurse calls with your beta results and crying in his arms when your last chance to have a baby with his eyes and your nose fails.  I hope you never feel like your body has failed the one you love. 

I wish for you to savor the excitement of both your families when you share your happy news with them.  The prospect of the first grandchild on either side will bring extra joy, I imagine.  I hope you'll never have to see the worry in your mother's eyes as you share with her that you have an appointment with the RE next month because it's just not happening. 

I wish for you to revel in the enthusiasm of friends and coworkers when you share your pregnancy with them, the squeals of excitement and questions about due dates and morning sickness.  Please know that I will be glad for you when the time comes, but my first reaction may not be the one you want to see because your gain will remind me of all I have lost. However, that moment of grief will pass and I will feel genuinely happy for you.  I know you will be a wonderful mom.  I hope you never have to excitedly announce the news that you and your husband will be adopting to be told, "Now you'll get pregnant for sure." May you never sense that congratulations from others are mixed with pity, or worry that your child will be viewed as a consolation prize.  

I wish for you that you feel connected to other women as they share their pregnancy stories with you and you get to share your own. You will finally be part of the club.  I hope you never feel on the outside looking in because you have no story to share. 

I wish for you to see your baby's heartbeat beating strongly on an ultrasound while you husband sits next to you with tears in his eyes.  I hope you are never looking at the picture of the embryos you and your husband have created with tears in your own eyes knowing that, because you just got your period, they will never grow any bigger than in the photo.  

I wish for you to be showered with gifts and love at your baby shower.  I know you've attended many and have long wanted one of your own. Have fun playing How Big Is My Belly? and unscrambling baby names.  I hope you never feel selfish and superficial because you feel sad about not having a shower; you've always imagined having one but it's not really done when you adopt from foster care.  It's a bit awkward when you don't have specific child for it. Besides, shouldn't you just be grateful to have a child at all?  

I wish for you to hold your newborn in your arms and see your late dad's eyes in his tiny little face, to feel wonder that this little infant grew inside you for nine months and is unmistakably yours. I hope you never worry that someone could take your child away from you because, after all, he's not really yours until a judge says so.

And of course, as I wrote on my card to you, I wish you a lifetime of love and happiness.  

Love Always, 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Time to get rid of the outhouse

A social worker called yesterday to schedule our home visit so we can be invited to the state foster-adoption training. We're on for July 31. This is just an initial safety inspection visit. He'll check to make sure we have room for a baby and that our house is safe. By safe, I don't mean that we have to babyproof yet, but that we have smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc. Oh, yes, and they also check for running water and electricity. That means DH and I need to call the plumber so we can get rid of our outhouse and install an inside bathroom. How long do you think that will take?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What do you do with the baby photos?

I was tidying up in our spare bedroom when I stumbled across the photos from our two embryo transfers. That there are only two photos is telling in itself, since we attempted 4 IVF cycles. There the photos were, in between some socks and a couple of camisoles I forgot about. There were three embryos in total: two 8-cell grade B embryos from our first transfer and one 4-cell grade A from our second. I had stashed the pics in a drawer in the bureau that I always used as my injection center. 

 I don't remember putting either of them in the drawer.  I don't remember thinking, "I can't bear to look at these" and hiding them away. I do remember showing the first photo to everyone in my family and several friends, really anyone who knew we were doing IVF.  I said, "Look at our babies. Aren't they beautiful?"  God, it stings just thinking about how naive I was.  I was pretty sure at least one of those embryos would turn into a baby and be in my arms right now.  We would have been due in early May.  I'd be breast feeding right now, getting no sleep, listening to our baby coo.  I remember that DH and I were concerned about twins-part worried, part hoping.  I carried that photo everywhere with me during the two week wait. Until I got my period.  Then I guess I shoved in the dresser drawer  Out of sight, out of mind.  But not really.

I didn't show anyone the photo from our second embryo transfer.  I was much wiser, more cautious this time.  I felt lucky we even made it to transfer, after having two IVFs converted to IUIs. Our one embryo was behind in its growth, but we tried to view it as a late bloomer instead of as delayed.  Although I didn't show anyone the photo, I looked at it all the time.  I'll admit that I even talked to it: "C'mon sweetie, you can do it.  Mommy and Daddy love you.  We're waiting for you."  Then I started bleeding and I knew that it didn't matter anymore, and that photo ended up in the drawer, too.  

So now I'm asking myself what I should do with these photos of babies that weren't meant to be.  It seems silly to keep them.  What's the point?  There's no baby book to put them in.  No child to tell, "Here's our earliest picture of you."  But I can't throw them away yet.  Every time I imagine them in the trash, I get a panicky feeling in my chest.  I wonder if once we adopt I'll want to get rid of them, but I don't think so.  It seems like my feelings about one have very little to do with the other.  So I put the photos back in the drawer.  I guess they'll stay there until I'm ready to let them go.  If I'm ever ready to let them go.  

Friday, May 30, 2008


I'm going to be MIA from my blog for a couple of weeks.  I'll be following all your blogs, but I probably won't get to comment much.  I'm in the final push at the end of the school year and I need to spend lots and lots of time at school.  After June 18, I will be back to normal, except I'll be on vacation.  Woohoo!  Now back to work.  

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Campfire Reflections

There's something about a campfire that inspires soul sharing.  Maybe it's just the absence of other distractions or the alcohol often imbibed around said campfire.  DH and I are camping this weekend.  We spent last night sitting around a campfire talking about the past few years. We talked about how I'm feeling, how DH is feeling, our hopes for the future. We talked more than we have in a long time.  I think we've spent so much time lately just getting through procedures and appointments and making medical decisions that we haven't taken any time to reflect.  

I'm feeling better than I was last week.  I think I'm doing well considering the situation.  I don't think doing well means I'm never sad or angry or (gasp) bitter.  I think it means that I can feel all of these things and not get stuck in those feelings.  I can feel those emotions and let them move on.  I do find myself able to look forward for the first time in a long time.  I've even caught myself thinking that by next summer DH and I will likely, probably, maybe have a child. It's hard to even write it because I start feeling superstitious, like it's possible to jinx it. I've also learned in the past 3 years that life often doesn't work out just the way you plan it, so I'm reluctant to presume anything will ever work out.  Even so, it looks like there's a possibility that we will be parents by next summer. So I've decided that if we can't take adoption classes until this fall, I'm going to try to make the most of this summer.  I plan to visit friends in other states, read lots of books, and do projects around the house. I always hear people advise pregnant women that they should enjoy the months before they give birth because that will be their last selfish or alone time for a while.  I think I'm going to treat myself the same way. After all, I keep telling myself, I am an expectant mom in some ways.  

By the fire, DH actually shared how he's been feeling, which is unusual.  He is the type of guy who tries to focus on the positive so he tends to avoid talking about what bugs him.  He said that at first, when it was clear that IVF wasn't going to work for us, he felt cheated.  He wasn't sure he would ever have a child, due to horrible motorcycle accident several years ago. He had massive pelvic injuries, including to his testicles, and doctors told him he might never father children.  Then when his semen analysis came back normal and our first RE was so positive about our chances, he started to feel hope for a biological child again.  When we tried so hard and nothing worked, he felt like it was worse than just knowing from the start that it wasn't possible. Our whole TTC journey was a big tease.

DH is a po.lice off.icer in a drug-ridden city and has the misfortune of working with many adults who neglect their children.  He has to face the unfairness all the time. Here we've been struggling to have a child who would be the center of our lives and some of his "clients" take their children so for granted. Their children should be a priority for them, but they're visibly NOT. He shared with me how angry and upset he gets when he's dealing with people who find money to buy W.ii and plasma TVs, but there's not a single toy in their apartments for their kids.   He sees mothers and father fighting about having no money for diapers when there's two new cartons of cigarettes on the kitchen counter. Last night, he told me that every once is a while he lets another offi.cer take over a call because he gets too angry to be impartial.  It's one of the reasons he wants so badly to adopt from the foster care system.  He sees neglected and abused kids all the time and he wants to give them another life. 

Talking about all of this helps us move forward, I think.  And it does feel like we're moving forward, ever so slowly.  I'm expecting ups and downs-that's why it's called a roller coaster after all.  I'm starting to have the sense that this ride will actually end with us being parents.  Last week,  DH and I were in our spare bedroom, putting some things away, and he looked at me and said, "Hey, this is the baby's room."  And you know what? It finally feels like it is.  

Thank you for all the kind responses to my last post.  I can't tell you how much all your support means to me. 

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Big Fat Tears

Hurt is like a big wave washing over me tonight. It came out of nowhere and has me crying nonstop--the big fat slow-rolling type of tears crying. I made the mistake of checking out the IF Grads section of an online board I'm part of. I like to check in on the women there when I'm in a good place emotionally; I've known many of them a long time and I wish them only happiness. I felt like I was doing well enough to handle it. I guess I was wrong. Now I can't stop imagining being a rightful member of that group. Talk of NT scans, scheduling ultrasounds, celebrating my last PIO shot, dealing with morning sickness, deciding whether to rent a doppler, calculating my due date, all the rituals of pregnancy-I so long to be a part of that. I just feel so empty and sad.

I keep trying to pinpoint a reason for feeling this way at this moment in time. I thought I was doing so well with ending our efforts for a biological child and now I'm falling apart. In my mind, I've gone through all the possible reasons that I'm having such a hard time tonight: it's been a week since our BFN; our social worker just told us we probably can't take our required adoption classes until the fall; DH and I are starting to spend weekends in NH again and I was so sure that the next summer I was up there I would be pregnant; I got a letter from my health insurer reminding me yet again that they only approved me for one IVF cycle (obviously the RE's office hasn't billed them yet).

But I think I'm just wasting my time trying to find a reason. Grief is grief. It doesn't follow a straight line and it often shows up unexpectedly. There is no logic to it. My only personal experience with grief is the loss of my grandparents. My grandmother died when I was 4 years old and my grandfather died when I was 16. That was 34 and 22 years ago, respectively, and I still miss them, sometimes at the most surprising times. I missed them at my wedding of course, but I also miss them when I see an elderly couple holding hands in the mall. I remember the intensity of the emotions I felt when I first lost each of my grandparents. Now when I miss them, it feels more like a dull ache than a sharp pain but it's still feels like something. That's another thing I've learned about grief: it doesn't end, but it does get less intense with time.

I know losing a flesh and blood person isn't the same as what DH and I are experiencing. But we are losing the biological children we will never get to have together, our might-have-been children. I used to wonder if my Irish ancestry and DH's red highlights would bring us a redhead-- now I'll never know. I wondered if our biological child would be an early bird like DH or a night owl like me--I'll never know. I wondered if our biological child would have his long classic nose or my button one--I'll never know. Would our child blush easily like me? Have DH's smile, including the dimples? Inherit a thick head of hair from both of us? I'll never know. Never.

I plan to let myself mourn my might-have-been children tonight. I worry that this implies that I'll love my meant-to-be children less, but I don't believe that. I think that I need to let go of what might have been in order to fully embrace what's meant to be. This grief I feel is part of that letting go. I know that I'll be a mom through adoption, and I will love my children with all my heart. My life will hold joy again in the future. But that doesn't mean it isn't hard to let go or that it doesn't hurt like hell right now.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

I had already been dreading Mother's Day for a year and started dreading it even more once I realized that my beta for my last IVF cycle would take place a couple of days before it.  I guess I really didn't expect a BFP and I wondered how I would get through the day.  Last year was really bad.  I was facing our first IVF cycle and I couldn't believe we had got to that point.  I had been so sure we would get pregnant before then.  I mean, damn my RE actually had me do a couple of natural IUIs because she thought we would get pregnant easily, too.  It was just a matter of timing.  Then every month my prognosis got progressively worse. . .a cyst, a bigger cyst, suspicion of an endometrioma, a lap, a nasty benign tumor, an ovary removed, elevated FSH, poor response, possible DOR, definite DOR, and so on.  And now this Mother's Day, I would either be pregnant from our last IVF or done with trying to conceive a biological child.  

On Thursday we got the word that IVF#4 had failed and now we're officially done with TTC. But this Mother's Day was not nearly as bad as I expected.  I don't really understand why.  Maybe it's because I know with certainty that adoption is our path.  There's no more "maybe I could be," "I hope I will be," "could it be?"  I'm done with hoping for a biological child.  There will not be a pregnancy, but there will be a child.  I'm sure of it now.  Perhaps moving forward down the path less-traveled is better than being stuck in one place. 

My mother gave me a card for Mother's Day.  It told how special I am to her. Then she wrote that she knows DH and I will be great parents, and that when we adopt our child she and my family will be ready to welcome our child into their hearts and their homes.  The card made me cry, but in a good way.  This is actually the best Mother's Day I've had in years.  May next year be even better.  

Saturday, May 10, 2008

What I have to get used to

I went to a bridal shower today and saw a glimpse of my future.  I figured a bridal shower would be pretty safe.  After all, it's not a baby shower.  Of course, when I got there I was surrounded by pregnant bellies. There were at least 5 enormously pregnant women present. I should have known.  The bride is 30 years old which seems to be the age of fertility around these parts.  The shower was a reminder of what I'll have to get used to now that I've put an end to TTC and decided to move on with adoption.

I'll have to get used to hearing conversations about pregnancy "It's another girl. We found out last week," "My labor went so fast when I had my youngest," "Oh my God, I had the worst heartburn with Addison. It was awful,". . .and knowing that I have absolutely nothing to offer to the conversation.   All I have to offer are stories of my sister's and friends' pregnancies. How pathetic is that?   It's better just to smile and keep my mouth shut.  I'll have to get used to being silent.

I'll have to get used to smiling benignly at comments like "There are so many pregnant women here. If I were the bride I'd be running in the other direction". . .all the while thinking that if fertility were catchy I'd be rubbing up against all those preggos right now.  And if infertility were catchy, my friend the bride would be running as far and fast from me as she possibly can. As a matter of fact, if infertility were catchy, I'd be standing by myself in a corner of the room. 

I'll have to get used to realizing how much others take their fertility for granted and always worrying about that. There's a tradition at bridal showers that for every ribbon you break when opening a present you'll have a child.  At this shower the attendants were cutting the ribbons for the bride and guests told the bride she has to break some ribbons.  She called over to our friend who was sitting next to me and asked how many she should break.  My friend, who has two children still in diapers, replied that she would definitely recommend that she break only two ribbons.  I remember being so naive as to think babies would come easily and that I could start and stop having them whenever I wanted.  Whenever I hear someone I care about assuming they'll get pregnant, I feel a twinge of anxiety.  I say a quick prayer: Please God don't let her be like me.

I'll have to get used to being happy for others when I'm feeling like I'm on the verge of falling apart. The bathroom was my refuge at this bridal shower and I expect it will be at many future events. My friend the bride wants to get pregnant immediately, ideally on her honeymoon. And I know that she will, I just know it.  So I'll have a baby shower to attend next year and I will go because she's a wonderful person and I care about her.   Actually I'll have at least two showers to attend because one of my best friends is already pregnant.  So I'll have to get used to plastering a smile on my face and just crying quietly in the bathroom when it gets too hard.  

Something about this shower made me realize that adjusting to never being pregnant is going to be a lifelong task.  I could picture myself at age 68 attending my friends' daughters bridal showers and struggling with the same issues.  I will never have a pregnancy story or a birth story.  I will never connect with other women over those events.  Some conversations will always sting. What gives me hope is that I have heard adoptive mothers say that the hurt does get better, less intense once they adopt.  It does not go away, but it hurts less.  I'm putting my trust in them.  

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It's official

My RE's office called today with the negative beta results, as expected.  I haven't had a total emotional breakdown yet, but I am throwing a little pity party for myself tonight.  I just keep asking myself the same question-why couldn't it be me?  Why wasn't I the one to win the infertility lottery?  

Why couldn't I have been the one who got pregnant. . .  

on my honeymoon

before the six month mark

on my first cycle charting

after preseed and Fertility Blend

in the first year

on the cycle before going to the RE

after my HSG

from a natural IUI

after my lap

on clomid

on injects

on a break cycle

on IVF#1

on an IUI converted from IVF #2 or #3

on IVF#4

Why the hell couldn't it have been me?  

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

It didn't work

I started spotting two days ago and it became AF last night.  There is no doubt that it's AF.  It's not implantation bleeding.  It's not cervical irritation from the progesterone gel.  It's too heavy for either of those.  I'm not pregnant.  My RE is letting me do the beta tomorrow, instead of Friday, so I don't have to drag it out any longer than necessary.  I'm kind of numb right now.  I think it will all hit me tomorrow when I get the negative beta results and it's official.  I guess my little embryo that could, just couldn't.  

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I've been tagged

Thanks Lizzybo for tagging me.  I totally needed this distraction.  Thinking about God and stuffing my face are just not doing it for me during this 2ww. Here goes:

4 Things I Did 10 Years Ago (1998) 
1. I was living in Pawtucket, RI.  I had just moved from an apartment in a run-down Victorian to a real, grown-up apartment above a law office.  My former landlord was pissed that I'd left.  He said I didn't give him a chance to convince me to stay.  I'd only been asking him to fix the hallway light, the door, the sink, etc. for 3 years.  It probably didn't make him feel better that m new apartment was right across the street from my old one.  It was an easy move.  
2. I was in the first year of my Master's Program in Special Needs. I went one to two weekends a month for almost 2 years.  I actually loved it.  It felt good to be doing academic work again.
3. In 1998, I went to Ireland with one of my best friends, M.  M. was born in the Azores and had never been back to Europe since she came to the US when she was 2 years old.  She and I both have the same nerdy interest in history and culture so we had a blast together.  
4. I still had my good boy Monty, my 20 lb. cat.  He was just a huge cuddle bug. We had to have him put to sleep last September and I miss him.

4 Things I Did 5 Years Ago (2003) 
1. I was preparing to become an auntie.  My younger sister was pregnant with my niece, Erin.  She was born in December 2003.
2.  In November of that year, I met my DH at a mutual friend's wedding.  He was the smart ass sitting next to me.  He was to shy to ask for my number so I had to wait for my friend to come back from her honeymoon to hook us up.  We had out first date the night before my niece was born.  He was so nervous he did two shots of Jack Daniels before I got to the restaurant.  He didn't seem nervous to me-----'cause he was drunk.  
3.  I found a lump in my breast.  I had a scary few weeks of biopsies and worrying.  My mom had breast cancer at 47 so it wasn't baseless worry.  Luckily, it turned out to be a benign tumor, but I go for regular mammograms now as a result.  
4.  I passed up the chance to get a mini-season package to the Red Sox.  My friend, K, and I had been going for years.  We always bought a handful of single game tickets.  We decided not to buy a package because we couldn't both make all the games.  The next year they won the World Series and tickets are now impossible to get.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  

4 Things I Did Yesterday 
1. I spoke with M. (my companion to Ireland in 1998) about her pregnancy.  I was actually able to hold it together while she talked about symptoms, sharing the news with her family, her worries, her excitement about her upcoming u/s.  I see it as a testament to our long friendship that I didn't even cry after we hung up.  I am truly happy for her and I know she's rooting for me. 
2. I played with my nieces. Erin is now 4 and her little sister is 2 1/2.  We pretended to go to sleep, wake up, and walk to school over and over and over and over again.  Until Erin got a hold of her dad's deodorant and wiped it all over her arms and her knees.  Why her knees?  I have no idea. She reeked of manly deodorant smell. Then I helped my sister give her a bath.  We threw her sister in the tub for good measure. 
3. DH and I went for fried clams in Maine.  It's not really far at all.  They were goooood.  One of my favorite things about living near the coast in the summer is the seafood, especially the clams.  Yum!  
4. I made cookies when we got home.  Yes, we ate fried clams and I still baked cookies.  Like I said, stuffing my face is a favorite 2ww distraction.   

4 Shows I Love to Watch 
1. Adoption Stories
2. Top Chef
3. Barefoot Contessa
4. Dogtown

4 Things That Make Me Happy 
1. My DH-He can make me laugh even at my grumpiest.
2. My family-I don't know how I would make it through my life without them.  They are always looking out for me.
3. My pets-How can 2 goofy, slobbery, cuddly bulldogs and one neurotic cat with a heart of gold not make me smile?
4. Wh.ol.e F.oo.ds-I love going in that store lately.  There's just so much possibility.  I would sleep there if they would let me.  

Apparently I now have to tag 4 people, but I need to think about who would enjoy doing this.  I'll have to add on to this post later.  

ETA: I've tagged Allison  and Brenda but only if they want to play of course.  I can't think of two more blog friends who haven't been tagged and who might like this.  I'll keep thinking.  

God and BFPs

I recently saw a post on a online fertility forum by a woman who got a BFP and she praised God.  It struck me that the only time I hear someone singing God's praises on online fertility forums is in a BFP post when prayers are answered.  You rarely see someone saying how great God is when she gets BFN after BFN after BFN. I'll admit that I'm not a religious person so I'm not someone who goes around praising God at any time.  I'm not sure what I believe about God, but I know I would be more willing to listen to the point of view of someone who sings Hosanna whatever the HPT result than to someone who only praises God when she gets what she wants. Personally, I don't believe that God's greatness should be measured in BFPs or BFNs, but if you truly believe God is great and all-powerful then don't you have to accept that even your BFN is a sign of His greatness? 

See what my mind does during the 2ww.  I need a hobby to distract me. 

Monday, April 28, 2008

Small but Pretty

We transferred one 4-celled embryo this morning. 6 or 8 cells is what's typical for a 3dt, but my RE assures me that he has definitely seen successful pregnancies from 4-celled embryos.  I'm hanging my hat on that.  My embryo probably just didn't like the lab and will start dividing like crazy now that it's back home in me.  It's just a late-bloomer who's homesick.

Even though it's small, it sure is pretty.  My clinic grades embryos using 2 numbers.  The first describes the number of cells at the time of transfer and the second number describes how even the cells are and how much or little fragmentation is present. Three is the highest grade possible and that's what mine got.  It had little to no fragmentation and the cells were all about the same size and shape. It's a looker, alright.  

All in all, putting both measures together, the RE said he would call my embryo "Average."  In the past, my overachieving self would have bristled at that word, but no longer.  At this point, I'll take average.  Average is just fine with me.  Considering there was talk of canceling this cycle, average is beautiful.  

Saturday, April 26, 2008

We're batting a thousand!

Our one egg fertilized so we have one embryo at the moment. I'm scheduled for a transfer on Monday morning. My clinic will call tomorrow with an update on the embryo quality. That is my next worry, but for now I'm trying really hard to enjoy the possibility that this might possibly work. I know the chances are tiny with one embie, but it's better than what could have happened. One day at a time, that's my new motto.

Friday, April 25, 2008

One Good Egg

I just got back from ER and it didn't go nearly as well as it could have, but I'm not completely out yet.  I'm hanging on by my fingernails. They only got one egg-one measly egg. The RE who performed the retrieval said he tried several flushing techniques on the other follie, but there just wasn't anything there. So it looks like I did get a single dominant follicle again this time, but it brought along what amounts to a cyst to keep it company. I hate my ovary at this moment.  It does nothing but mock me.

 I'll get a fertilization update tomorrow.  DH kept saying that all we need is one good egg and he's trying to stay positive.  A friend of mine said that someone has to beat the odds and maybe it will be me.  I'm feeling less and less hopeful about that possibility.  I'm still hoping, but I'm not really expecting much of anything.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Reprieve

I'm triggering at midnight for an egg retrieval on Friday.  I still have 2 follies but my E2 went up to 400 today so my RE decided to go for it.   I had been preparing myself all day to hear that the cycle was canceled.  DH and I decided to try to forget about it and just go for a drive in his jeep with the top down.   The sun is shining and it's unusually warm for spring in New England.  We ended up at a local farm stand and were picking out vegetables to grill tonight for dinner when the call came.  When I answered and it was the nurse, I thought, "Damn, my RE is a big jerk for not calling me himself to tell me he's canceling my final cycle."  Then she told me she had instructions for me and I was in disbelief.  I'm more relieved than excited.  I'm trying really hard to take it one step at a time.  Nothing is guaranteed, but today's results sure are better than the alternative.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Slipping Away

Slipping away-that's what I sense this cycle is doing.  Today's b/w and u/s were not so good; not bad enough to cancel yet, but bad enough that the C-word was brought up.  I have 2 follies measuring 18.5 and 19.5.  My E2 level is only 267.  I was hopeful after the u/s, even with only 2 follies, because I thought I only needed to have 2 follies over 18mm to do egg retrieval.  I wasn't thrilled about 2 measly follies, but it's better than I've done that last couple of IVF cycles when I had a lead follie jump ahead of all the others.  Apparently my RE is not feeling so hopeful and he made sure his nurse brought up the possibility of canceling because of the low E2 level and number of follies.  She said he "usually likes to have more than 2 to work with."  Well, so do I but we can't always get what we want, can we?  I told her that this is my last cycle and I'd really like to get to retrieval.  I may have to do battle tomorrow after more b/w and u/s.  Ugh.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hanging On-Barely

My scan and blood work this morning weren't great, but they weren't bad enough to get me bumped to IUI yet.  My E2 has increased to 146, still really really low for 9 days of stims but higher than it was 3 days ago.  And the follies are still small, but 3 are getting close to the 12mm mark when my clinic begins measuring follies.  The u/s tech actually measured them anyway and said they were 9, 9, and 10.  Again, not where you want to be after 9 days of massive doses of FSH, but better than having a lead follicle at this point.  

When the nurse called this afternoon, she told me to continue the lupron and stims until I come back on Tuesday.  I asked if my RE considered taking me off lupron since that's what we did during my first go-around with this protocol, with a different RE, and it seemed to help.  She said he wants to give it another couple of days since things seem to be moving in the right direction. He would reconsider the lupron again after Tuesday's scan.  I think it's probably the lupron that has kept a lead follie from developing this time so I understand his reluctance to remove it, but if the follies don't grow then that's no good either.    

I wonder what's the longest one can stim.  If I keep going at this rate, it should be about 16 days or so for me.  Is that possible?

Thank you for all the kind comments to my previous post.  My anxiety got the best of me.  I can't promise that it won't happen again before Tuesday so beware.