I was watching 20/20 last night and a story about free donor sperm came on.  I was hooked.  This is why I love Americans so much.  They are so darn altruistic.  And just kinda … out there.  The report went on to talk about a couple of women who were using this free service because fresh sperm enabled them a better chance of conception than frozen sperm.  And of course, they had already expended tens of thousands of dollars on infertility treatments and IVF.

I suppose what’s the difference between getting some from a one night stand and answering an ad online?  Either way, you’re spinning the bottle, right?  And this guy actually took measures to produce some grade A sample ….uhh…stuff.  He wasn’t exactly Playgirl material, but what the hey, it was free.  And you could do pick up the sample on site, so to speak, or meet at a coffeeshop.   What could be more convenient?   The FDA however frowns on this sort of altruistic enterprise, so they actually asked him to cease and desist advertising and promoting his sperm.

Remarkably, they focused more on why donors were giving away their sperm for free rather than the typical desperate infertile woman angle.  Of course the comments were more about the women rather than the cost of IVF.  They always are.  What would you do?

Americans, they sure are a spunky lot.

Knock, knock, who’s there?

So I guess more people are reading my blog than I realized.  Looks like my random email writer realized she offended me in some way and was kind enough to email me and apologize.  I guess she caught my tone.  If the initial email is not personalized, then it’s not likely that I will pay much attention to the writer’s intent and I know that person hasn’t actually read my blog or the street cred for background.   After all, IVF did NOT work for me, I ended up adopting after coming to the decision that biology was not that important to me.  I’m not bitter about attempting ART, but when you come home from the carnival with empty pockets and no prize,  I’m not going to be a huge cheerleader of it.  I did watch the video and when I got to the who sponsored it part, I realize some big pharmaceutical company has a vested interest in what first appears to be a grassroots educational initiative.   I did notice that fertility awareness is now being targeted to women over 30.  Seems like the magic number has dropped from 35 to 30 now.  When did that happen?  Of course, I’ve read plenty of blogs about women under 35 struggle with infertility so I guess there’s a lot of truth in that.  Lord knows I made a lot of assumptions that all was okay despite our withdrawal birth control method we used for years.  I remember having the kid conversation with DH when we were not married yet but had been together for years and I made it known that I wanted kids and if he didn’t, then we should part ways.  I made the assumption that once we did officially get married and officially started trying to conceive that it would happen one way or the other.  And it didn’t.  Naive, I know.   I had no idea I’d spend tens of thousands of dollars for nothing.  C’est la vie.

There are no guarantees in life whether it’s about having children or the health of our children.  Now, I can’t even imagine being without my little guy.  So if the road to him was paved with disappointment and heartache, so be it.  I cannot undo the past.

Speaking of emails, I actually did get one quite a while ago, not sure if I mentioned it already, but it was from someone who never left comments but she wanted to me to know that I had really given her some comfort.  She wanted me to thank me.   I was so touched by that email.  Sometimes people just want to let you know that yeah, they get it, they get you and they appreciate you sharing your experience. To turn poison into medicine, to create value where once there was despair.  That’s why I blog. I am a real person with real feelings living a very real life.  So if you want to come into my house, you gotta take off your shoes.

Useless fertility information

And to think I gave up coffee while I was doing IVF.  My eggs didn’t have to go down a  silly fallopian tube, they were right there in a petri dish!    It’s a good thing I like so much coffee NOW, it’s practically contraception!

And speaking of eggs, did you know that there was a number that could INCREASE your odd of a live birth?

Just what women need, more bits of useless  and contradictory information to hang onto for hope.

Womb anyone?

I read this article about “Desperate Canadians” who choose surrogates in India to give birth to their children.  The article examines the lack of options that infertile women have in Canada and also the ethical dilemmas of Third World women looking for a way out of grinding poverty by becoming surrogates for North Americans.

“What bothers me so much is that we’re totally commercializing, de-personalizing and de-humanizing the most intimate of human relationships, that of parents and children,” says Margaret Somerville, founding director of Montreal’s McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law.

It’s a fair statement.  But let’s face it, infertility forces your mind into all kinds of places.

I remember during our first course of treatment, how excited I was.  I was optimistic.  I had a personal trainer for a couple of month, I had lost weight, I had acupuncture, drank all sorts of disgusting concoctions, I was taking all the right supplements and seeing a naturopathic doctor.  I had quit caffeine and drinking and I had picked out names.  So what if I had to inject hormones, grit my teeth during egg retrieval – it was all going to be part of my victorious struggle.  Really, it was all quite humorous – the rush to the lab with the paper bag, the visits to the dirty ole man room, the dildocam!  HILARIOUS!    I had proven just how focused I was, how worthy I was!  Hell, even after the negative result, and shocked disbelief, all I had to was try again.  I wasn’t so cocky the 2nd time around.  And it wasn’t so exciting anymore.  There was no intimacy, no joy, no private moments.  There was schedules, protocol, and doubt.  There was yelling and tears and arguments about money.  I witnessed burgeoning bellies all around me and felt invisible, stuck on a rollercoaster of hope and despair.

I remember when we had that brief  conversation with our fertility doctor about donor eggs.  My options were my sister (who was already over 35) and my nieces (both in their early twenties).  I didn’t happen to have a friend with the appropriate matching DNA that would give me her eggs.  (As an aside, years later I met a personal trainer who heard about my story and offered to give me her eggs.  She didn’t even know my last name.)   The other option about going to the States for donor eggs was equally distasteful.  I was aghast.  I mean, who did that? Hubby didn’t want half him, half Little Miss #3105.   That idea was just a term on a pamphlet and a pat on a back, buh-bye.    After all, we could always adopt, right?  How hard could that be?

Surrogacy was for rich people.  Movie stars. Other people who didn’t live in a one bedroom apartment with Ikea furniture.  It seemed like a very expensive gamble.  And of course, where would we find a surrogate anyway?  It’s illegal in Canada – unless of course,  someone”volunteers” to do it.

Years later, while waiting in adoption purgatory, I saw a show on Oprah about a clinic in India where they had women carrying babies for Europeans and North Americans.  They sat around keeping each other company until their delivery dates.  They earned about $5000 which was an amount that could feed their families for a year or buy them or house or something.  I pretended to not be interested because we were already on a course of action to building our family.  But in my heart, I was disturbed by the thought that had I known about that years earlier, if someone had say, hey, you could always do this – I just might have looked into it.  All in the quest to have a biological child.

Seems like a crazy thought now. I would have never known the Precious. Unthinkable.

Do you know why most people have their own children as opposed to adopting (or choosing to remain childless)? I’m going to hazard a guess here.   Cause it’s easier.  It’s less complicated.  Less of a gamble.  Pick an adjective:  normal, natural, go forth and multiply, sacred, fill in the blank.  You get to have your private, intimate moment with your spouse, you get the 3D ultrasound, you even get the varicose veins and morning sickness.  If all goes well (and I know that it doesn’t always go well) but if it does, you go home with a kid, stitches, presents and flowers.  There are no homestudy reports, no fundraisers, no reference letters testifying to your worthiness, no hospital bills (at least here), no social workers, no lawyers, no sudden plane trips, hotel bills, unforeseen expenses, no weeping birth mothers, no separation anxiety, no primal wound.   You don’t have to wait for papers to be signed before you exhale.  You don’t have to wonder if the birth parents will remain in your life or if they will demand more than you are willing to give.

So you pay for your ticket and you travel halfway across the globe to get a good deal on bringing your progeny into the world.

By the way, if you’re a little short in the good looking genes (and if you really want to vomit) read this.

Great article to read

You have got to read the article in the latest O magazine called – Mourning Has Broken by Ian Wallach.  It’s about his grief in reaction to his wife’s miscarriage.  I was really moved to tears by it.

I’ve never suffered a miscarriage, but I could relate to the grief and heartache of infertility.  I certainly felt grateful that we had a successful adoption.  Even when my back is on fire and my eyelids are heavy, I wouldn’t trade that for the joy our son has brought into our lives.

It’s also refreshing to see a man’s perspective on such matters.

Selfish me

I meant to get to this earlier but congratulations to the province of Quebec for moving forward to fund infertility treatments. I went to the CBC news site and I read a few of the comments.  Not all of them of course, because it degenerates in the usual flaming between the same people.  I’d like to address one argument though – that it’s the unselfish thing to do to adopt, particularly for infertile people.  Why doesn’t EVERYONE look at adoption to build their family?    That’s a rhetorical question. Now I know more than a few people, online and IRL who once they found out they couldn’t conceive for whatever reason, went straight to adoption.  Didn’t even skip a beat or try all sorts of medical juju. Cool.  Wish I were one of them, would have saved myself a LOT of heartache.  Oh, how I miss having swollen ovaries.

I took the Precious to the immigration doctor yesterday who happens to be in the same clinic as his regular doctor.  You have to pay $160 for this exam, ostensibly because of the extra paperwork.  He listened to his heart, that’s it. He doesn’t really need to do anymore because his entire medical records are in the computer system and his GP is at the next station, so if she says he’s healthy, he’s healthy.  Swell.  Anyways, I’m telling you this because we chatted a bit and he remarked, “So you tried to have your own and you couldn’t?” Yep.  I look young but my eggs are done.  “Well, good for you.  You’re a lucky little guy!”  Meaning you did the right thing and adopted.  I’m a F**** saint, sure.  That might apply if I was walking along the streets of a tiny, drought ridden African nation and I tripped over a baby in a pile of dung and rescued the poor little thing from being stomped on by an ox being driven by bloodthirsty war- mongering rebels.  THEN I’d be a saint.  Actually, I was just desperate to be a mother. Philanthropy had NOTHING to do with it.

If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you know that I did not set out to adopt my first child.  Frankly, once the IVF money train started, and IF I had conceived and delivered, I highly doubt I would have adopted an infant.  We MIGHT have chosen to adopt an older child  since we had talked about it in the abstract.  Those are the what might have beens though.  I consider myself lucky to be where I am now, right at this moment.  Who knows what the future holds?  Grateful to still have my marriage, an incredible kid, a well behaved dog and a view to die for.

All sorts of news

I’ve read about 20 blogs through ICLW.  Found this link on a comment on Getting There’s blog.  The article from Resolve addresses the fallout of infertility for family and friends.  I hadn’t read it before.  I skimmed through it quickly (I lived it so looking back was a bit discomforting).  I snorted a lot and head bobbed.    A very good article.  Mmm, I wonder why fertility clinics don’t hand it out, it is after all a place where you spend a great deal of time….. oh, I know why – cause it’s depressing!  I’m am so sorry,  take this article and can you go out the back door please?  Please come again with better eggs/sperm!

Also, another article on RELAXING.  I’m sure fertility clinics sponsored this study.  So helpful.  That’s why new clinics are starting up with acupuncture and wellness programs.  Ka-ching!  Okay, I’m not saying they don’t work, cause they do. I just kinda tweaked on the headline of just relax.  It brought out the bitter betty in me.

In other news, what’s with this H1N1 eh?  I went to pick up my mum on Tuesday and take her to see my friend’s spanking new baby and there was a notice on the door about not coming in due to flu like symptoms.  So I called the nurse on my cell for an update.  There was no definitive news but he said it would be best not to come in until they knew more and as I was on my way to the maternity ward, I felt it would be best to not go in.

And then for the first time, I considered getting the vaccine.  Cause I thought it’s either I don’t see my mum or I don’t see my friend and her baby for the next 3 months.  I don’t want to be responsible for making my friend sick (not sure if she knows a young mother in Abbotsford died or not and I’m not telling her).  Her and her entire family are germophobes.  Her mother showed up at the hospital wearing an ozone thing around her neck.  It was the size of a pager. Now I did wear gloves and a mask once when my mum’s had a Norwalk virus outbreak, but I still went to see her when she was sick to check on her.  Nobody was gonna keep me from my momma.  But, come on, I didn’t see any doctors running around in hazmat suits with yellow caution tape on the hospital doors.

Crap, I do not want to get this vaccine.  I put enough toxins in my body.   Now, I’m not anti-vaccine at all, but when it comes to flu shots, I’ve never felt the urgent need to get one.  My mum lives in residential care, so they all get one anyway.  Their vaccinations don’t start until next week.   I’ve gone in there before during the regular flu/Norwalk virus outbreaks, and with the regular precautions like washing my hands, I’ve never gotten the flu.  I’ve had bad colds in my life, but never the flu.  I don’t know why, I don’t wish to provoke the flu gods, but the upside of being perpetually underemployed is that I don’t come into contact with a lot of hacking, sneezing people who leave their germs on the phones or doorknobs.  Though, recently this year, I’ve gone back to wearing contacts (cause I broke my glasses) so my fingers are in my eyes more than usual. Oh, man.  I’m getting glasses.

I just called the home and it’s confirmed that it’s not the H1N1, and the flu is not on their floor anyway.  Frankly, it could just be a common cold, but they are always cautious.  They’re just keeping the residents inside and just making visitors use antiseptic hand gel.

See, there is always something for me to worry about.  Now where is my mask?