Friday, January 30, 2009

Good Deed for Today

We saved someones dog today. Well, AJ did. There was a dog bedded down in our yard this morning with a collar. AJ tried to coax her over with food, but she wouldn't come. It took him awhile but he finally got her to come over to him so he could put her on a leash and look at her collar. When he called her parents, the guy said she had been missing since Tuesday. In these frigid temperatures that is scary. He said he would call his wife and she would come and get her. Maggie is her name. They only lived about a mile away and had been looking for her for two days. Maggie was a nice dog. I put Fyn in his high chair to eat breakfast just in case, but she came inside (Lucy was in the basement and not too happy). Maggie mosied around and she finally took some food and water. Her mom showed up obviously relieved to see her baby safe.
If you are a dog owner or just a dog lover, you would understand how emotional this must have been for this woman. I teared up. She hugged Maggie and hugged me and they went home together safe and sound.
When Lucy was a puppy, she got away several times. Even with the "invisible fence" she ended up outside of the boundaries. The second time it happened a young woman called me and said that she had gotten Lucy into her car but as soon as she was in, she jumped back out! That's Lucy, always looking for an escape route. She just couldn't wait to be free so she could explore and run. I was so close to getting her back, but then I had to continue to drive around to find her. I drove all through the neighborhood frantically looking for her squeaking her favorite toy. I turned onto St. Paul Boulevard and there she was, all traffic stopped. Someone who had pulled over was trying to coax her to the side of the road. I then pulled my car to the opposite side and she saw me and came running for the car. Thank goodness she was okay.
Lucy did manage to escape a couple of more times- I was crazed because she runs so damn fast and doesn't look back. Luckily she hasn't gotten away in almost four years. She has matured somewhat and training has helped, but it is a constant battle to make sure she doesn't get away. It's the breed, she is a hunting dog. Running is what makes her happy.
It felt good to help this family out because if Lucy did get away again, I would hope that someone would help to get her home.
Lucy has been such a undying companion to us since we brought her home six years ago. Lucy was our only baby for so long. She brought AJ and I much needed comfort when we were down and out. She is a wonderful dog with a phenomenal personality. She was meant to be ours. The story of how we got Lucy is a testament to fate as well as how Finn came into our lives.
People told us that when Fyn came home, "the dog" would go way down in the rank of the family. She doesn't get as much attention as she used to for obvious reasons (and she lets us know that she is jealous), but Lucy is just as important to us as she always was.
I will never forget the comfort she gave me when we were trying to conceive. She doesn't know it, but she was a good crying partner many a time. Luckily she loves to cuddle. She doesn't judge and all she wants is to be loved.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

These Historical Times

I have been thinking a lot about how diversity has been a part of my life. As a kid I was always taught that people are people. It doesn't matter what color or ethnic background they are- we are all the same. Just because someone does something good or bad, they shouldn't be classified in a race or ethnic group. My parents have always been fair about race and ethnicity. My grandparents must have taught them this. Even though they were all born around 1920 and brought up in a different time, I never once heard one of my grandparents say a discriminatory remark. If they had these thoughts due to their generation and upbringing, I never knew about it.
When did I first notice that people look different? Growing up in a predominately white suburb, diversity was not engrained in my everyday life. I have a distinct memory of my kindergarten class. A boy named J. who lived in the neighborhood was in our class, he was black and for many of the students it was the first time we had a black friend. I remember my teacher talking about different people and we asked J. if we could touch his hair. I have carried this with me through out my life. J. and I used to walk the same way home. At the traffic light with the crossing guard I would go left and he would go right. We got into a habit of racing to the crossing guard.Other memories of diversity in my life include different African American friends in school. In my school district we have a program where students who live in the city and would normally go to a city school attend a school in the suburbs. Otherwise our classrooms would have greatly lacked in diversity. I had a very close friend named K. in fifth grade. The last day of school she knew she would not be back for sixth grade. We were both sad. Even at that young age I think we both knew our paths wouldn't cross again. I still have notes from her in "my memory box." There was another great friend named D. He was the sweetest and most kind hearted boy. He left after sixth grade was over and we said our goodbyes. I also have notes from him and fond memories.

However, I know there was not enough diversity in my life growing up. And, I am proud of the changes that are being made in our country today. I am now part of a bi-racial family. I am now part of a diverse community of families who have adopted internationally. I too will have to answer questions about the difference in the way I look and the way my son looks. He will be forced to answer questions from schoolmates and strangers. And, I will have to explain to him why we look different and that it is okay. In fact, we should be so proud.

It is a more tolerant world. I hope that the excitement and enhancement of acceptance will continue to grow. My son won't know President Obama as the first black president, he will simply know him as President Obama. If Barack makes it to eight years, Fyn will only be 9. Who knows what his world will look like at that time. Hopefully race and ethnicity, straight and gay will lose the definitive nature of their title, and we will start to look at people like people- our neighbors, friends, co-works, teachers, and politicians.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mixed Emotions With A Side of Bittersweet

"We are born with nothing but the dreams we carry in our hearts."

It is hard to be a good friend to someone who is happy about their pending parenthood when you are experiecing IF. It must e especially dificult if they too have struggled with infertility. It is the job of a good friend to push aside any selfish feelings and think of how much your friends deserve to be happy- you just wish it was you.
Infertility makes the "good" news of someone else's pregnancy sting, and it is such a double edged sword.

In the past I have felt very happy for family and friends, but then the grief would come over me. My rational side knew that it was okay for me to be happy for the lucky couple and sad for myself. I wish it didn't have to be so hard.

Why should friends and family have to be sad to tell an infertile loved one about their joyous news? I guess everyone is in it together,the joy and the sadness. A muddled mix of emotion with a side of bittersweet.

In the beginning when things were really tough for me, hearing news of a pregnancy was gut wrenching. More so if it was someone I was close to or moderately close to. Now, thank goodness I have moved to a place where the pang of solace is like a catch and release. I don't think I could have lived the rest of my life with the sadness that I felt for those four years. I begged someone to help me forgo the heavy feeling that my life was on hold and my dreams of motherhood were crushed forever.

Acceptance of our situation turned the tide on my outlook of life. Moving forward with adoption, an idea we tossed around for two years, was scary, exciting, and a little sad all at the same time. We had given up on the idea of pregnancy but opened our hearts and minds to being parents to a wonderful baby somewhere in the world. He or she would come to us by fate- very similar to giving birth.

One can make the decision to be a parent, but the child that comes to them is out of their control. We are all lucky as parents for the children that come into our loves.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Progress, Progress

We are officially a not for profit corporation- Parenthood for Me, Inc.

Our papers are being filed for our 501 c(3) tax exempt status; this will allow donors the potential ability to write-off their donations. It also saves us money on certain things, for example a bulk mailing account.

Please visit our website and look for the "donation" button. It will be arriving soon. At first the donations will be by check only but shortly thereafter we will have a PayPal account.

Our first Board of Directors meeting will be held January, 22. We will be discussing marketing and fundraising.

I am looking for ideas for a silent auction. The value of the donation should be at least $100.00. I know many of you live far away, but if you have any connections or ideas for a great donation, I would love to hear them.

Some examples would be:

1. A night for two somewhere (a B&B in the within four hours of NY?)

2. Signed sports memorablia (do you know a pro?)

3. Books or CD's signed by the author or musician (preferably someone well known)
4. Antiques
5. Artwork
6. Tickets to a sporting event or show

Motherhood Meets Me

I dreamed so long of meeting her, to feel her warmth and wisdom, to experience her existence in all its glory. I envisioned her enveloping my life and allowing me to place her experiences in my diary of accomplishments. There was a time I came so close. But, it was taken away and another chance didn't arrive for a couple of years.
I never imagined that she would not be a part of my life. I tried to picture my future without her grace and stature, but it was always a fuzzy image. I just could not see my life without her meeting me in some way.
When my son came home, I finally met motherhood. I hugged her and left tears on her shoulder as we pulled from our embrace. She and I were forever fused together.
I feel so much pride to know her and be a part of her never ending love, wisdom, and knowledge of how to raise a child the best way you know how- unconditional love.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My IF Shoes II

Walking in my shoes today probably isn't so bad. I am a woman with many things going on in my life and the only defining role that is worth a label is motherhood.

In anticipation of the arrival of our son, we had a party. No baby shower for me. I wanted a celebration of the life of our child and what it meant to have him become a part of our family. We had a black and white cocktail party with pictures of Min Man all over the house.

Alot of thought went into this party because it was the first time we had something to celebrate in many years. After all the heartache this was our time to be happy and share our joy with all our friends and family.

I found my dress right away and next came the shoes. I wanted patent leather. I tried on several pairs until I found a pretty pair of Mary Jane black patent leather shoes. They fit perfectly and made the outfit.

I went to get my hair done for the night. I ended up chopping off my very long hair into a bob. I felt great, and when everyone saw my new do that night they said, you look like a mommy. I got a manicure. I was ready to celebrate. New life, new me.

It was a magical night and happiness illuminated the house. There were candles, wine, champagne, favors. Everyone was dressed up and put thought into their black and white outfits.

They were there to support us and excited to meet the new addition to our world.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Fertility Stats

These will not be official stats but under or over exaggerated statistics of my chances of
(a) getting pregnant and
(b) carrying a fetus to full term- both very challenging for me/us

If coaches were scouting my team, we would not be in the running for fourth string, nor would we even be in the running for water boy/girl. No game winners over here.
My (our) statistics suck. I haven't gotten to my other installment of my Infertility Story, but I will tell you that I have PCOS, anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA and ANC) that try and kill off new cells a.k.a an embryo, and severe endo (my ovary was fused to my uterus).
We have a male factor problem as well.

I remember when we first started going to the fertility clinic, one of the nurses said to me," I think that you IF'ers (sounds like MF'ers) go to some sort of "fertility mixer" and meet up with one another." It was her way of saying that a lot of patients she sees have both male and female factor IF. At the time I felt relief that she was making light of what seemed like a daunting situation. Now I realize she was just being insensitive.

If we hadn't wasted $20,000 at a hospital that hadn't even diagnosed me properly, we may have tried IFV a couple of more times. But the well was dry. We had to make a decision to spend money where the odds were 99.9% in our favor. Thus, we turned to Korean adoption.

Family planning is still something I think about often. I think about our options. It's weird to say that we do have a lot of "options" but most of them don't interest us such as: donor eggs or sperm, IVF, IUI, adoption of embryos ( have you heard of that yet?) The only option I would put any faith into is surrogacy. I'm pretty sure my body is broken. So, I cannot depend on it to produce a baby. But, maybe someone else's could.

The idea of surrogacy is just a blip in my mind. Right now I am the mother to a busy little boy who is altogether wonderful and beautiful and the sweetest little thing you could imagine seeing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

To Tell or Not to Tell

Infertility is a very private matter- no arguing that. Answering the very nosy and inappropriate question "So, when are you having kids?" can be a very scrupulous predicament for those suffering from IF.

Do you
1. play it cool and pretend you're not trying? Offer up some good reasons/excuses and take another sip of wine.
2. admit that you're trying (which also says, yes, we are having frequent sex; thanks for asking)
OR do you
3. drop the bomb and make the conversation get real personal and probably stagnant and say,"We've been trying for X months/years unsuccessfully. Thanks for bringing it up."

My husband and I went through all the stages. When you get to number 3, you're probably pissed off and want to embarrass the questioner- c'mon you could use some satisfaction.

When you really stop to think about the question, it is amazing that it is socially acceptable to inquire of a couple's plans to conceive. I get it. People are excited and love babies, but really? Is it any of their business to know your family planning activities?
The question in and of itself could be a time bomb waiting to go off. There are so many different responses to this question and most of them aren't good.
1. Well, I ovulated yesterday and we had sex three times. Hopefully it works! (give the thumbs up sign)
2. I just had a miscarriage
3. I just had another miscarriage
4. I can't have children
5. My husband's sterile- Wanna donate?
6. And heaven forbid- we don't want to have children!

Once we admitted to people that we cannot have children, we couldn't wait for someone to ask us. It was our chance to be vindicated. I pitied the poor person who asked the question.
I never got the chance to drop the bomb but my husband did. Jaws dropped, faces turned red, the conversation changed subject real fast.

I would like to spread the word. Don't ask a couple when they are having kids. Next time you get asked "the question" you should ask a question in return that is equally as personal:
"How many times do you have sex a week?"
"How's your marriage?"
"How are you doing after you found out your husband was cheating on you?"

Maybe that will get the message across.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Learning About Grief

I learned a lot about grief through infertility. I became acutely aware of it, actually. I have always been an empathetic person- sympathetic to a fault at times. I remember when I was around five years of age I was watching a t.v. show about the starving families in Africa. They were asking to sponsor a family so they could eat and get medication. I had tears streaming down my face for these people; I will never forget how sad I was for them. I called my dad into the room and begged him to help them.
I have always been a great feeler of other people's pain. I carry it with me for some reason. Believe me I am not trying to say I am the most selfless person in the world and never think of myself. It's just that for some reason I always wanted to rescue people. I always felt like the mother figure to many of my friends and especially my brother. He was four years older, but I felt I needed to protect him.
Anyway, grief is something I didn't have much experience with because I have been very fortunate in terms of not losing loved ones. My grandfather passed at 82 and then my Pop passed at 89. I have both my grandmothers and my family is in generally good health. I am very fortunate. I do appreciate this fact and enjoy living in the moment with friends and family because life takes very unexpected turns.
The grief I felt due to IF was and still is very profound. Grief is about loss, and we lost so much trying to conceive a child. We lost control of our lives, the ability to conceive privately and intimately, and it seems like the ability to conceive at all. Having to admit that we could not have biological children was unbearable. But, we did it because we needed to do something to take our lives back. Our decision to adopt allowed us the ability to control at least some of our destiny.
The pain I felt while in the throes of infertility made me understand a little bit of what it must be like to mourn a loved one. It must be like a dull ache in your gut, the tugging of your heart on a daily basis. IF was something that nagged at me in some way every day.Some days were better than others, but the feeling of loss sat on my shoulders- pushing down.
I realize that I may never bear a child. But, I also know that female endocrinology is so complicated that my body just might kick in at some point. There is not much I can do about that outcome. I feel sad when I hear the news of pregnancies. It's hard to hear about how much this baby looks like her dad or mom or grandparent. But, things are so much better for me than they were.
I am a mom, plain and simple. I am living the life of motherhood I always dreamed; it just looks a little different. But, different is not bad it's just different- as they say.

I recently read, "An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination" by Elizabeth McCracken. It is about the still birth of her son. Gut wrenching. She so eloquently explained her grief that I was able to relate. I have never experienced something so profound, but I have been around the block. Everyone can appreciate how she tells her story of losing her child and trying to regain her life. It's a wonderful memoir. It will help many people.

My IF Shoes

I didn't even know I was wearing different shoes than I had before. I thought I was still sporting my mid-twenties, newlywed, just bought a new house, bridesmaid in seven weddings, drinking too much shoes. I had no idea that my life was turning down a path where I would be a part of something that allowed me to say, "If you walked in my shoes, you would understand better." I didn't need to hear, "Oh, you'll be fine. You're young." "You guys aren't doing something right." "When are you going to have kids???????????"

In the beginning I was still wearing pretty and practical shoes; something like sensible flats. They were not sexy patent leather pumps that proclaimed I was still young and hip and full of zest. The news of our necessity to go to a doctor to get pregnant took me down a few notches in my carefree world. I was different from the rest- we had IF problems. No ovulation tests or positive store-bought pregnancy tests for us (though, there seemed to be hundreds of negatives. Come on double line

As things evolved my path necessitated more rugged shoes. I went from sensible flats to running shoes. I needed something to give me stamina and help me keep up with the endless trips to the hospital and blood draw clinics. I needed something to keep a bounce in my step as I endured shot after shot- small needles, medium needs, HUGE needles.
Sometimes my shoes were simply comfy slippers. These were the times when the IUI didn't work, the IVF had complications, after the laparoscopy, new diagnosis' to collapse my odds of pregnancy even further. As we approached our third year of IF treatments, surgeries, and procedures I wore steal toed boots. I was knee deep in IF. I probably should have moved onto those rubber boots that people wear when fishing (waders?).

At this point I didn't wish anyone to walk in my shoes, not that I ever did. My feet ached as well as my heart. That's when I (we) decided to go barefoot for a while, maybe forever. Time to re-evaluate our parenthood path. It still hurt to breath sometimes, but I was glad to be rid of those rigid and cumbersome boots.

I went to Marhsall's and bought some strappy sandals and contemplated how I would become a mommy.


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