Category Archives: infertility

Week 39–Perspectives

Awhile back, my mother commented to me about the fact that I had stopped posting regular pregnancy updates. There really has been a few reasons for this, but the main one had to do with what I had to say. You see, this being my fourth pregnancy, I don’t have the same wide-eyed wonderment that tends to be felt by those going through it for the first time. And, this being my fourth pregnancy in FIVE YEARS, well…It wears on a girl.

And while I know how thrilled I am about the impending arrival of my daughter, most of what I had to say about being pregnant may have come off as a tad whiny. The truth is, pregnancy is frequently a pain in the butt (both literally and figuratively). When I stopped writing about it was about the time that I didn’t feel I could write about it honestly without frequently mentioning that fact.

The thing is, I also understand that a significant portion of the people who read my blog would give anything for the opportunity to experience all of the hemorrhoids (again with the literal and figurative) of pregnancy. You can’t go through four years of infertility without it leaving a permanent memory of just how desperate that desire can be, or just how annoying whiny pregnant women who don’t know how good they have it are. It’s all about perspective.

So, in what I DESPERATELY (imploringly, please, please, please God I’m begging you) HOPE is the last of my pregnancy updates, I’m going to talk a little bit about how my perspectives on pregnancy have changed over time.

blackandwhitebelly

I’ve Always Wanted a Big Family…

Even before our struggles with infertility, I always wanted to have a lot of kids. I just never considered how hard it would be. And it is hard. Last week, my neighbor agreed to watch my kids for me while I went to my appointment with the midwife since my mom was out of town being a politician (she’s keeping her schedule pretty clear right now, but it IS a reelection year for her…). The stars were all aligned, and I was home in under an hour and a half.

“I don’t know how you keep up with it all day, every day,” was the first thing she said to me.

I just smiled and looked around my house.

“Um, obviously, I don’t,” was the best I had to offer.

And it’s true. Lately, I’ve felt like I’m standing next to the Hoover Dam, trying to plug cracks with bubble gum. I never stop moving, but I just don’t feel like I’m making any progress.

For a long time, I have wondered how truly huge families do it. I mean, I get how you make it work when you have 16 kids and half of them are 12-years-old and up. That’s a no brainer. But I’ve wanted to ask one of those moms how she managed it all when she only had little kids.

Recently, I got my chance.

My sister-in-law is the fifth of sixteen (!!!) kids. Her parents came for a visit recently and we all went to a local museum together. As we were walking back to our cars, I asked her mom how the heck she made it all work before she had older kids to help with cooking, cleaning, and wrangling younger children.

She smiled a wise, sweet smile and said, “I’ve got nothin’.”

OK, that’s not verbatim, but it’s close enough. Basically, she told me that having five little kids was the hardest time period of her life and that it was virtually impossible to keep up with it all.

I feel like I finally made the pilgrimage to Mecca, only to find a plastic fortune-teller in a sealed phone booth.

All My Bags are Packed, I’m Ready to Go…

I have never—in any of my pregnancies—nested. Who knew that it would just take carrying another estrogen-bearer for me to finally start acting maternal. I have made it through my “To Do” list, thought of more tasks, done them, and am running out of things to burn off my nervous energy.

I have rearranged bedrooms. I have sorted baby clothes. I have picked produce from my garden. I have made a regular habit of going to the local farmer’s market (this week, I found out that “cukes” is gardener slang for cucumbers—word to yo’ Mutha Nature…fo’ shizzle). I have packed the baby’s bag for the hospital. I have made a list of things for my hospital bag (I refuse to pack that early, since no amount of nervous energy will lead me to deprive myself of makeup for a couple of weeks).

But as I have prepared for labor, I have realized just how different my perspective on what I “need” is from my first pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Wyatt, I took childbirth classes, read books, and scoured the internet for hospital bag packing lists. On the big day, I showed up with an MP3 player full of music with subliminal relaxation messages, unscented oil, lotion, essential oils, focal points, comfort objects, socks full of rice, candy to suck on, snacks for Sean, slippers, and my blankie. Honestly, people, I needed a bellhop.

A couple of weeks ago, I told Sean that this time I will be happy as long as I have my own pillow, a slushie from Sonic (I need to find out how late that place is open, just in case I need to take that into consideration when timing my departure to the hospital…), and this book:

pride and prejudice and zombies

Yes, seriously. I have always loved fractured fairytales, so the idea of fracturing classical British literature? It is taking every ounce of self-control I have not to start reading it yet. Sean thinks that I am a tremendous dork. I think that he is completely lacking in creativity and vision.

Oh, and my MP3 player? Since I haven’t taken the time to remove Sean’s playlists from my Zune, there is a good chance that I could be delivering this baby to Sammy Hagar.

Timing is Everything…

A month or two ago, Sean mentioned to me that his office mate’s soccer league was having sign-ups. Our older two having been talking about doing soccer for quite some time so, what did I think?

I thought I wanted to know when it would start, would they be in different age groups, and how many nights a weeks would this involve?

Well, they would be in different age groups. It was a two night per week commitment (each), and practice started last week. But, since we had connections, we MIGHT be able to get their practices and games on the same night. NO PROMISES.

I told Sean that he needed to decide if HE was willing to make that big of a commitment, since I was going to be dealing with a newborn, thankyouverymuch. He signed the kids up.

A few weeks later, his office mate, Brian (the league’s director), called with a proposition. If Sean agreed to be the assistant coach on Noah’s team, they could put Wyatt  on Brian’s wife’s team and there would be no question that practices and games would be on the same days. As I sat listening to Sean’s side of the conversation, he agreed to the deal. Then they started talking about coach training sessions and what not.

At one point, I heard this:

“Um, that could be a problem.”

Pause.

“Well, because my wife is supposed to be having a BABY that week.”

Pause. Chuckle.

“Oh, yeah, I’m sure she’d agree to do that for you.”

I looked at my husband, smiled, and said, “Oh, he wants me to have the baby a week early? That’s fine by me!” And I gave him a big thumbs up.

Sean shook his head.

“No, he thought it might be better if you held off an extra week.”

“Adequately expressing how I feel about that,” I informed him, “would require an entirely different single-digit hand gesture.”

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby…

It’s true—I’ve reached the point where I feel like I’d do just about anything to be one person again.

Between friends, relatives, and people that I go to church with (most of whom also fall into that “friends” category), I know SIX OTHER PEOPLE who were due within a month of me. All but one of them has now had her baby (or babies, in the case of the one with twins). The lone hold-out is due basically the same day I am. But I’m the one with the tendency to go late. Which means, Angie, that if you have your baby this week, I fully expect you to show up at church on Sunday with a pillow shoved down your dress—just in case.

And while I sat this week wondering if the intestinal bug my kids were passing around might work as well as castor oil and Who wants to share a drink with Mommy??? I know the advice I’m bound to get from my midwives:

Sex. Lots and lots of sex.

Ahem.

Yes, I understand the concept. It all has to do with prostaglandins and cervical ripening and what got the baby in will get the baby out…blah, blah, blah. 

Whatever. There is just something very wrong about having to look at my husband with the same sort of functional equivalence as a tampon dispenser. And he’s done this enough times that he knows what’s up on that subject. I mean, honestly people—I WADDLE when I walk. And there is nothing less sexy than feeling like a duck.

This is one area where infertility and pregnancy are a whole lot alike. Whether you are desperately TRYING to get pregnant, or desperately trying to NOT BE pregnant, marital relations just aren’t the same when they are planned as a means to an end. ‘Nuff said.

Of course, I have a theory that it isn’t really the prostaglandins, anyhow. I think it has more to do with the fact that anyone who has ever needed a drink of water at JUST THE WRONG MOMENT knows that kids just don’t want to acknowledge that IT even happens. And there’s just no denying IT when you’re that close to what’s going on. Of course the baby would do anything it could to get out of there if IT is happening that frequently.

Not that my theory helps me any. After all, I don’t think that lesser measures like just making out in the kitchen would seem nearly as disgusting to the baby as it does my other kids. It may send them running, but I doubt the baby would care one way or the other.

So I have to be content with just waiting it out. At the very least, I can take comfort in the fact that my stomach is now so enormous that my butt once again has the appearance of being a normal size (I’m all about the silver linings).

See? Perspective is everything.

belly collage2

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Filed under A Scary Look into My Mind, Books, infertility, pregnancy

Five Years Ago Today

Five years ago today, I woke up, showered, got ready and went to work like any other day.

But it wasn’t.

Five years ago today, I sat at my desk and stared at my computer screen, unable to focus my mind and work. I thought about the young woman I had met just a few days earlier. The young woman who was being induced with her first child. The young woman who was giving birth to my son.

Five years ago today, I got a call shortly after lunchtime. He had been born–just a little thing at 7 pounds 1 oz; the smallest child either she or I would have. Despite my agency’s policy to keep the adoptive parents away for the first couple of days so the biological mother has a chance to be with her child and feel sure of her choice, we were told to come. She was asking for us. She didn’t want us to wait. She wanted us to meet our son. She wanted to see us with him.

Five years ago today, I packed as fast as I could and drove the three hours to her hospital. There was a light, but persistent rain. The red bud trees were blooming, making a fiery path for us to follow. (Seeing those trees this time of year still takes me back to that drive.)

Five years ago today, I entered a hospital late at night and held my son for the very first time. Pictures were taken of all of us together. She and her family watched as I changed his first meconium diaper and felt like I had passed a test, had met their approval.

Five years ago today, she told me she had changed her mind. Not about the adoption, but about the terms. She embraced my offer to keep in touch. She wanted to know who he was, how he was, that everything was ok. “You will let me know he’s ok?” she asked over and over. And the answer never changed, and still hasn’t.

Five years ago today, I became a mother. I welcomed an amazing little boy into my life.

I believe that there is a plan to life. I may not know why things happened how they did, but I am so grateful now for the years of infertility that I suffered through. I would never have thought, back then, that I would ever find myself saying that–that time in my life was hell on earth. But, if I hadn’t experienced it, I would never have become N’s mom.

If not for my trials, five years ago today would have been just another day.

 

Happy Birthday, N~. I love you.

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Filed under adoption, infertility, Kids, My Journey to Motherhood, open adoption

The Second Pregnancy

As I never did finish my “Journey to Motherhood” series, and I want to keep all of my children in order, I am now going to share with you the story behind my third son, C~. To read everything up to this point, click here.

After W’s birth, we were curious if something had changed with our fertility status. After all, if the problem had improved, we wanted to be aware of it and plan accordingly. So, we had the appropriate tests done. A few days later, I received a call from one of the nurses at my OB’s office. She told me that the results were in, and that the diagnosis was still grim. The problem still existed, and it was still very severe.

“Basically,” she told me, “we aren’t going to say that it could never happen again since it did happen once, but don’t hold your breath. This pregnancy was truly a miracle and it shouldn’t happen again.”

OK, simple enough. Between that and the fact that I was nursing W, we really didn’t worry about being careful. Really, you feel pretty stupid worrying about birth control when you’ve been told you can’t have kids.

Time went on, and W~ started eating more real food and nursing less frequently. I figured that I was getting to the point that all of the lovely “girly” stuff would start going back to normal. Honestly, I was surprised that I had gone so long already. When W~ was about nine months old, I started feeling kind of dizzy and queasy on a regular basis. At one point, right around when it first started, I had a moment of concern and bought a pregnancy test, which came back negative. But the queasiness didn’t go away. I remember asking several other women who had nursed if they had felt “off” when their hormones were starting to shift back to normal. I mean, I had never heard of any type of “return-to-menstruation morning sickness,” but, well, if hormones could make you sick heading in one direction, maybe they could do it in the other direction, too. The answer I received (from each and every one) was “no.”

After a month or so of feeling increasingly sick, Sean and I decided it was time to take another pregnancy test. I remember getting two tests since the store I was at had a “buy one, get one free” deal going. I woke up the next morning and gave it a shot.

Nothing.

Literally, nothing happened. The stupid test was defective. It was a Saturday, so I went about with different activities–cleaning, working out, making something for a BBQ my friend was having that day. I finally decided to take a shower. Before jumping in, I went for the second test.

This time, the results were instant. Positive. Despite all we had been told, I managed to get pregnant, literally, the first time I possibly could have.

I came out and told Sean. He responded by sitting on our couch and stonily staring out our bay window (which overlooks our wooded back yard). After several minutes, he said, “Well, I guess you can call the family and tell everyone.” In a nutshell, he just wasn’t excited, pleased, or feeling remotely positive about this pregnancy. (When I confirmed that fact with him, he told me that he knew he would be excited by the time the baby was born, but it would just take him a bit to adjust to the idea. And he was right.)

The pregnancy itself was pretty uneventful. I had already been through it all once (recently), so it wasn’t a huge deal. I did have some issues with high blood pressure near the end (it amazes me, since I am getting BP readings around 110/65 right now), but even that didn’t end up being a major issue. We knew it was another boy, settled on a name (ironically, Sean suggested C’s name, which had been the name that I wanted to use for W~, but Sean had vetoed as a “trouble maker’s name”), and waited.

Right around my due date, I woke up in the middle of the night with contractions. I didn’t want to wake Sean up until I knew it was the real thing, so I put on my headphones and zoned out to U2’s Joshua Tree. Throughout the night, I dozed and woke to uncomfortable contractions. When morning came, we skipped church and I went walking around the neighborhood, trying to get the contractions to pick up. Instead, they petered out.

That night, I repeated the same scenario. And the night after that.

I was pretty tired and frustrated by the time I went in for my weekly appointment. My midwife checked me, declared me two centimeters dilated (I was ecstatic since I didn’t start dilating at all before the pitocin with W~), and sent me home with instructions to have sex (you know, what got the baby in gets the baby out). I took a nap that afternoon. The midwife’s instructions must have been on my mind because, well, let’s just say I had a pleasant dream. A dream that was rudely interrupted by my water breaking in real life. It may not have been exactly what the midwife had meant but, well, it worked.

I was told to head straight to the hospital (even though I wasn’t having regular contractions) since my water had broken and I was Strep B positive. I was lucky to have a doctor on duty who would allow the midwives to “augment” my labor with pitocin since I had been having contractions for the past few days (technically speaking, you aren’t supposed to be induced once you have had a c-section). They gave me the lowest dose of pitocin, and things took off. They never increased the amount (actually, I think they may have even taken me off of it).

The contractions this time around were definitely different than what I had experienced with W~. From the very beginning, I felt a lot of pressure. Honestly, the contractions themselves didn’t bother me all that much, but the pressure was something else. Between the difference in contractions and the fact that I started the pitocin around 5:30 pm (the same time as with W~) and was afraid that I would end up repeating my last labor and be too tired to enjoy my new baby, I got scared and went for the epidural. If I had only known.

It only took me about four hours or so to be completely dilated. I tried pushing, but was so numb from the epidural that I asked them to turn it off and leave me alone for a little while so I could  get some sensation. I don’t remember how long I ended up pushing, but it was a decent while. I remember getting discouraged and thinking that I wouldn’t make it. The midwife had me doing tug-of-war with one of the nurses using a bed sheet to try and help push him out (I still remember being amused at the fact that the nurse, at one point, said she might need help because I was a lot stronger than she anticipated and she was afraid that I would succeed in fulfilling my instructions to pull her on top of me). C~ was born shortly after 12:30 am on Sean’s father’s birthday. From the start of pitocin to birth was just around seven hours. I had literally shaved just about an entire day off of my last labor time (thank heavens!).

After the labor, I remember telling Sean that I was kind of disappointed that they didn’t get out a mirror for me to see the birth. “Don’t you remember?” he asked me. “They offered to get a mirror so you could see and you told them, ‘I don’t need to see that!'” Um, yeah. I have no recollection AT ALL.

Without going into graphic detail, getting C~ out was not the easiest thing. He weighed in at nine pounds, even, and was about 22 inches long. The really funny thing is that I looked at him and thought, “This can’t be our kid–he looks like me!” Seriously, it took me about a whole day to adjust to the fact that he didn’t look like Sean. W~ is almost an exact replica of Sean, so I just assumed my genes didn’t have a shot. C~ has my eyes and my father’s expressions. The only thing on him that is really identifiable as his father’s are his ears (especially the lobes).

I did the standard two-day stay in the hospital, then returned home. This time, I was greeted by the joys and challenges of being the mother of three.

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Filed under infertility, Kids, My Journey to Motherhood, pregnancy

Faith and Fertility

When I sat down to write my first musing on faith, I encountered a scripture that really stood out to me. Hebrews 11:11-12 says:

11. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised,

12. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

I have mentioned before that I have, in the past, not really viewed scriptural figures as relatable. They have, after all, been preserved in writings that have lasted thousands of years for a reason. Their experiences are extraordinary. And mine, well, are not. Right? But as I pondered the basics of the story of Sarah and Abraham, I realized that this was something I could really relate to. The basics, as I recalled them, went something like this:

The Lord covenanted with Abraham that he would have posterity greater in number than the stars. Sarah could not conceive children. She gave Abraham her handmaid, Hagar, who had a son, Ishmael, with Abraham. The Lord told Abraham that Sarah would conceive a son (even though she was 90-years-old at the time), and she had Isaac.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Given my own experiences with infertility and motherhood, this all felt familiar. Without getting too personal, I do believe in the concept of covenants and I do believe that I was promised children at one point in my life. This is something that I really struggled with when we were unable to conceive. Like Sarah, I made the decision to become a parent based on the child of another woman. And, like Sarah, I conceived when the world saw it as impossible.

So, today I decided to sit down and refresh myself on the specifics of the story (Genesis 15-18 and 21, more or less, for those who want to play along at home).

There was so much more to this story than what I remembered. So much that I could NOT relate to. So much that truly has me wondering why, of all of the women discussed in the Bible based on their inability to have children, Sarah was the one that Paul held up to the Hebrews as an example of faith.

Sarah did give Hagar to Abraham of her own accord. And her purpose was so that Abraham could have posterity. But, when Hagar conceived, Sarah ran her off. Now, I suspect that there is an aspect of “the rest of the story” that we don’t fully get here. In Genesis 16:5 it says:

And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.

So, it sounds as though Hagar may have become a bit haughty over the fact that it would be her son that would carry on Abraham’s lineage and not Sarah’s. I can understand that, believing this to be true, having someone make an issue of it with you would be devastating. We don’t really know the specifics of what is meant in the scriptures when it says that Sarah “dealt hardly with her,” but she was obviously harsh enough if Hagar fled. It was only due to divine intervention that Hagar decided to return and have Ishmael (which means “God Hears” because the Lord heard her in her time of affliction).

After Ishmael’s birth, Sarah overhears when Abraham is told that she will conceive. Her reaction?

Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? (Genesis 18:12)

(The name Isaac, incidentally, means “laughter.”) It doesn’t appear that it was a joyful type of laughter, but a disbelieving one, since she tries to deny if when questioned about it. She does, however, laugh joyfully later.

But Sarah does conceive, and Isaac is born. And, when Ishmael mocks Isaac, Sarah has him and Hagar cast out, saying:

…Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. (Genesis 21: 10)

I truly can’t understand this reaction. How could she, knowing the promises the Lord made to Abraham that Isaac would be his heir, still send away Hagar and her child (a child that, I’m assuming, Sarah had a hand in raising up to this point)? In doing so, she almost sent the pair to their death in the wilderness. It was only through divine intervention that Hagar and Ishmael were saved, and the Lord’s promises to Abraham regarding Ishmael’s seed were preserved.

So, with all of the details firmly in place, I really am having a hard time understanding why Paul would hold Sarah up as such a shining example of faith. It seems, throughout the story, like her actions were more frequently motivated by fear. Fear that the Lord could not use her to fulfill his covenants to Abraham. Fear that Hagar’s pregnancy could disrupt her own position with her husband. Fear that her age would not allow her to be pregnant. Fear that the Lord’s promises regarding Isaac would not be carried out as long as Ishmael were allowed to stay. The kind of fears that most of us would have, I suppose.

The kind of fears, on a broader scale, that many of us who have dealt with infertility have been through.

But as an example of faith? I’m having a hard time understanding.

 

Incidentally, I now feel compelled to go back and read the specifics of the other biblical women deemed noteworthy because of their inability to conceive, and the miracles that allowed them to be mothers. I know, among some, that I will find more understandable examples of faith. But maybe they’ll help me understand Sarah, too. I don’t  want to be too harsh towards her. I’m just having a hard time coming to grips with how harsh reality seemed to be for Hagar.

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Filed under adoption, Church, Faith, infertility

Some Stereotypes Exist for a Reason

For instance, the “clueless male” stereotype.

Last night, Sean told the boys that he would try to take them swimming at the YMCA today. For the record, we have never done this. Sean told them they would go “if he could work it out.”

I should have been concerned right then.

This morning, N~ was talking again about swimming. Sean again stated the “work it out” stipulation. After N~ walked away, he asked me, “What would you think of taking the kids swimming on one end of the pool while I do the water aerobics class this evening?”

Honestly, I thought he was kidding.

Honestly, he was not.

I resisted the urge to ask him under what circumstance he would think that a woman, bloated with 8+ months of developing child, would be even mildly interested in squeezing her expanding bottom into a bathing suit so that she could go swimming (in public!) with two preschoolers and a toddler on her own so that he could do water aerobics with overweight women with AARP memberships (OK, maybe not all of them but, again, some stereotypes exist for a reason). Instead, I just informed him that, while I may be willing to sacrifice my dignity enough to help HIM take the kids swimming, I sure as heck would not be dealing with all three on my own.

By this afternoon, he didn’t really feel like splashing around in the pool either. Especially since he had hoped his brother would come with his daughters (again, thinking he could do the class if said brother was there to “help” me), but the daughters didn’t bring their bathing suits to his house.

New plan–I get to convince my children that going to McD’s play land with their cousins would be more fun than swimming. Yeah, right. Sure. W~ was buying it, to some extent, but N~ wasn’t going to be convinced. Sean’s brilliant idea? Just tell N~ that he (Sean) will be taking the other boys to the play land with their cousins, and I can take him to the Y to go swimming. Yeah, ’cause that will persuade him he doesn’t want to go swimming enough to miss out on McD’s. As I expected, N~ thought this was a great solution. The only thing able to get me out of it was that W~ then was sure that he wanted to go swimming with me, too.

So, it’s back on Sean to be the bad guy. As I told him, I’m not going to be responsible for carrying out his idea. Not this time. Not when it involves exposing an extra 30 pounds of flesh. No ,thank you.

Pregnancy Update

I had another appointment on Tuesday. From here on out, I am now on the once-a-week schedule. I also got the handy little “What to do if you go into labor” sheet. Yay! There is something wonderful about being far enough along to get that little slip of paper. I am, quite honestly, ready to be done with this.

When I was going through all of my fertility stuff, I really hated it when pregnant women complained about being pregnant. All I could think was, “Be grateful for the experience!” I would have given anything for the puking, aches, pains, and other socially-unacceptable aspects of carrying a child. And I still hate it when women whine incessantly about the normal aspects of pregnancy. But, sometimes, well…

I really think I would be fine if not for the fact that I have been sick for almost three weeks now. Really, the bad stuff has been gone for about a week, but I’m still coughing. Imagine doing a backbend so that your stomach muscles are stretched as tight as they possibly can go. Then hack, consistently, for the next three weeks.

Exactly.

I have a spot on the left side of my stomach that pretty much feels like it is going to rip open every time I cough. I can’t help but imagine the scene from Aliens where the alien comes crawling out of the guy’s stomach, except I’m the host organism.

Yes, I’m grateful for the chance to be pregnant. However, I will also be grateful for the chance to STOP being pregnant.

Not Everyone Deserves to be a Parent

I have, once or twice before, mentioned the ex-lesbian-in-law and her stellar parenting skills. Well, she’s hit a new low. The other day, my 14-year-old niece told my brother that, in addition to cigarettes, her mother (and mom’s girlfriend) smoke something else that smells “kinda sweet, and old.” And, apparently, their smoking paraphernalia was getting a bit rank, so she decided to have my niece, her 14-year-old daughter, wash it out for her. The niece described it as looking something like what the caterpillar was using in Alice in Wonderland. Imagine being a responsible parent, and having to explain that to your child.

He’s contacted his lawyer. He’s trying to set up an appointment with the mediator. He’s hoping for mandatory drug testing to prove what she’s doing.

I’d be contacting Children’s Services and creating one hell of a paper trail for the custody hearing.

But that’s me.

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Filed under I think my head might explode, infertility, Pain, pregnancy

Privilege, Choice, Entitlement, and Minority Rule

I mentioned in my last post that there were discussions in the adoption-blog world that had my head spinning as of late. Tonight, I followed a link to a seven page forum topic where a few adoptive mothers were repeatedly attacked for their decision to adopt, while also being patronized about not having “perspective.” These women were told they were selfish for choosing to adopt infants (and, thus, participate in a “corrupt” system that preys on the misfortunes of others), instead of becoming parents through the foster system.

This said by women who admit that they got pregnant relatively quickly after placing a child to fill the hole of the biological child that they weren’t parenting.

How utterly selfish.

After all, they put their desires to fill that void with an infant above the social injustices suffered by waiting children. They couldn’t have the child that they wanted–the one that was lost to them–so they should “expand their horizons” and enter into a situation that they didn’t feel prepared for, instead of selfishly choosing to parent another infant.

Sounds crazy, right? So why is it crazy for me to say this about a woman who can choose to biologically have another infant, but perfectly acceptable for a birthmother to say it to a prospective adoptive parent, who does not have the option of biology due to a medical situation? (And, for the record, before submitting my profile to our adoption agency, I called a neighboring county about a ten-year-old girl that had been in the system for years–they weren’t currently considering placement for her due to severe emotional problems, and I still occasionally check my state’s listings to see her status, five years later. I also came thisclose to submitting my homestudy for a sibling group, as well as a toddler with some developmental delays. I DID look very seriously at that option, but the situations weren’t right. I am no different from many potential adoptive parents who explore “the system” before deciding that it isn’t the right place for them–at least right now.)

Near the end of the forum discussion, one of the women who had made a lot of the statements that bothered me posted to the adoptive mothers that she was NOT attacking them–that she respected them for their courage to broaden their horizons and try to gain “real perspective” as opposed to the subjective kind (this true perspective, naturally, was based on her views). She then went to her personal blog and lamented the entitlement displayed by these women who were never going to “get it.”

And so, I finally feel pushed to the point of sharing my perspective on these topics (although not nearly as completely as I would like, due to the realities of attention span).

No matter what you want to tell yourself, life has everything to do with choices. This doesn’t mean that wrongs don’t occur, or that social injustices don’t exist. But how we deal with the situations we face is still a result of our choices.

I take issue with those who claim that adoption is a broken system because it only exists because of poverty, lack of education, lack of social support, or anything else of that nature. Yes, those factors can come into play as part of a woman’s choice. It is interesting, though, that those who attempt to evaluate the “strength” of a potential adoptive match site the fact that an expecting mother is much more likely to choose adoption if she has MORE education, is older, is currently parenting another child, or has well-defined goals and aspirations for her life (at least in the arena of domestic adoption). In other words, it is the ones with more “privilege” and “choices” that are considered more likely to choose adoption.

I do not disagree that there are horrible social injustices that drive women in other countries to choose adoption (deathly poverty, limitations on family size, the fact that an illegitimate child and its mother become complete social outcasts in some countries…).Here’s my complaint, though. If you are bothered by those injustices, focus your energy on FIXING them, not on destroying a system that is, at least, alleviating some of their effects on the next generation.

I am bothered when I see people repeatedly referring to those of us who adopt as using our “privilege” to strong-arm babies from those who don’t have as much “control.” Believe me, the four years of hell that I endured with infertility was no privilege. Neither were the effects it had on my marriage, my mental health, or my pocket book. As much as I (and many other couples) would like to eventually open our hearts and homes to those children who wait, the emotional fallout of infertility often leaves us unable to deal with the additional (severe) emotional ups and downs of dealing with the foster care system. And while many of the same women who rail against our privilege will complain bitterly any time they perceive a comment as somehow telling them they should get over the emotional turmoil caused by their  experiences, well, those suffering the emotional fallout of infertility just need to “broaden their horizons” and “get perspective.” Ugh.

This post is long. The time is late. And I don’t know if I am effectively communicating my feelings. At this point, I hear my mother asking me (as she has in the past) “Why are you wasting your time–you won’t change these people’s minds.” And you know what? She is right about that. I know I won’t change the minds of the people who make these statements. It is the people who READ them that I’m concerned about.

So, why do I bother? I can sum it up in three words: Madalyn Murray O’Hair.

One of the quickest ways to get decent people to abandon their beliefs is to tell them that they have more power, and it’s not fair. Despite what an enormous section of our population believes, we are not a society of majority rule. It is the very vocal minorities (the squeaky wheels, if you will) that tend to shape policy. When I first started contemplating this, a month or so ago, I did a little research and read some things by Madalyn Murray O’Hair. She brought new meaning to the word “radical.” The vast majority of our country didn’t even come close to agreeing with her views. But she and her views forever changed the face of public education. And those changes didn’t just protect those who did not have Christian beliefs–it essentially muzzled those that did. It swung the pendulum too far in the other direction (effectively removing rights from the majority).

That is my fear–that is why I respond. I see too many women being told that they lack perspective–that they can never even HAVE perspective, because they haven’t experienced childbirth. Their greatest insecurities are played on to convince them that they have done something wrong, something unfair. And I see too many of them who believe it. So I respond, and I hope that since I HAVE been in both situations–going through infertility and adoption, then experiencing pregnancies–that I might offset some of that guilt that is being thrust upon them.

And I hope that by doing what doesn’t seem to be politically correct, by disagreeing with these adoption “reformists,” that some of their frightening suggestions don’t eventually become policy. I do think that there is room for reform.  But I think that reform should focus on the children being effected, and on protecting everyone involved–not just on making a certain segment feel good.

What more can I say? Squeak…squeak…squeak…

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Filed under adoption, I think my head might explode, infertility

Bits and Pieces of Life

Where Did All this Energy Come From?

Last night was the best night’s sleep that I have gotten in a long time. I slept deeper. I tossed and turned less. I only got up once to go to the bathroom. For some reason, even my kids didn’t wake up until eight o’clock. For the first time in a long time, I got up feeling rested.

Is that why today was so productive?

Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I got so much accomplished that didn’t involve out-of-town guests. I started with the normal, daily stuff: make beds, clean up breakfast dishes, put away all of the stuff that ended up on the floor while I was gone last night. But I kept going–and going. Like some deranged cross between Merry Maids and the Energizer Bunny. Laundry. Vacuuming. Mopping. Scrubbing toilets. Bleaching the kitchen cabinets (honestly, white cabinets with three little boys is like living in the seventh level of hell). I even, finally, decorated our Christmas tree (which has been up for almost a week now).

Beyond the flurry of cleaning, I also did dinner from scratch (not unusual), and made banana bread out of some bananas that were turning brown in my fruit basket (totally out of character for me–they would usually go right in the trash). I honestly didn’t stop moving all day long, except when I gave into N’s obvious need for attention and took some time to do flash cards and read Shel Silverstein poems to him.

My house is still nowhere close to perfect–especially the family room, where the kids were exiled during my flurry of activity. And, of course, some of my efforts have already been undone. But, after weeks of feeling a total lack of motivation to do much of anything, it really felt great to be so productive. I’m guessing that tomorrow I’ll be about as active as a toad.

Pregnancy Update:

For someone who thought she’d start a blog to have a place to record my experiences with this pregnancy, I sure don’t talk about it a lot. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that it isn’t “new” to me. I don’t have difficult pregnancies. At this point, I fear that I am turning into one of those people that drove me crazy back during our fertility struggles–I pretty much take the process for granted.

But I have definitely been noticing the effects of this pregnancy on my life more in the past week or so. For starters, at over 27 weeks, I have reached the point where my stomach enters the room before the rest of me does. Although, amazingly, someone I have known at my church since I was a teenager just realized last night that I’m pregnant.

Along with looking bigger, I am feeling it. I already mentioned the tiredness–both physically and emotionally. I’m also getting out of breath at crazy times (like walking up the steps from my basement, or making beds). My upper back is now joining my lower back in an effort to completely sabotage my daily comfort.

But the really telling stuff goes on in my head. This morning, I opened my refrigerator door and was hit by a feeling of panic when I saw a half-consumed bottle of orange soda. For a fleeting moment, I was convinced that one of the boys had cracked open the bottle of glucola waiting for me to get around to my gestational diabetes test. Then I remembered–I got a diet Orange Crush from a soda machine last night. Tuesday night, I was watching The Real Housewives of Orange County (I can hear your opinion of me dropping from here). One of the women had arranged for a couple’s massage with her fiance. I watched them being pampered and thought, “Man, I wish I could lay on my stomach.” How sad is that? My thoughts weren’t about the joys of a massage, or a wonderful evening of romance. I just wanted to lay on my stomach, too. Sad.

Kids:

Earlier today (during the cleaning frenzy), W~ came upstairs with light sabers for him and C~ to “fight” with. I instructed them to take it to the family room. As they conducted their sword fight on the way down the steps, I heard W~ say “Obi Wan has taught you well.” Kids amaze me. Who would expect to hear a 3-year-old say that to his 20-month-old brother (heck, who would expect them to be sword fighting down the steps with one another–I defy all of the “experts” who claim that kids only parallel play until school age to come hang out at my house for a day).

Blankies:

Last night, we had our second youth activity to assemble Blankie Buddies. The youth leaders for the boys asked me on Sunday if I would mind if they participated with us (apparently, the boys were “missing” the girls). Wow, that made it interesting. I didn’t realize just how many Young Men we have. Honestly, we ended up with way more kids than we had things to do (especially considering the fact that I was still the only one who really seemed to understand what needed to be done).

The really bizarre thing was that, somehow, my table to embroider faces ended up being occupied almost entirely by 12 and 13-year-old boys. Um, yeah. Some of them did surprisingly well. The others–well, let’s just say that it may take me more time to undo what was “accomplished” than if I had just done it myself to begin with. These activities truly do test every control issue in my body. I spend a lot of time preparing for them, then things don’t get done exactly how I want, or how I would do them. I just keep reminding myself that this is a service project, and doesn’t have to always be done my way. The important thing is that the kids are learning to do things they didn’t know how to do, helping others, and having a good time. As long as I focus on that, I can be really happy about how things turn out (even while I’m stitch-ripping).

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Filed under infertility, Kids, Pain, pregnancy, Vietnam blanket project