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.