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Jail time

I was having some further email conversations with Luna and something occurred to me.     She commented that she still feels that a bit of sync with the other mothers, despite having both a child she adopted and one she gave birth to.  I’m a mother of an 2 and 3/4 year old now.  A mother.  Even when I’m gnashing my teeth in frustration, I’m still grateful.  This child, my child, is  an AMAZING human being, even when he accidently head butts me when I’m trying to grab him to get his socks on.  Yet whenever I’m around other mothers, I still feel a bit odd.  Is it my age?  Mmm, a little bit.  I can’t say I enjoy the combination of perimenopause and toddlerhood.

I think what makes me feel different is that though I no longer wander around silently screaming please don’t ask me if I have kids!   I still feel that I lost a huge chunk of time trying to achieve something that I did not, could not.  The Lost Years, so to speak.  And occasionally, especially when I am at the kid’s preschool, surrounded by a sea of mothers, babies and strollers, I feel a little out of place.  Yes, I reply, when asked at the playground, he’s my only child.  And then some witty repartee about why mess with perfection, blah, blah, blah.  And I think that’s what Luna is referring to.  Those years that have been spent in mourning, loss and pursuit of parenthood on top of all the regular life hazards isn’t erased when parenthood finally does find you. It’s like this secret you don’t or won’t share with other mums.  You just babble on about naps and toilet training and stuff like that.  You just feel a teeny bit like an imposter. As if you had been in jail or something.  Hah.

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By the way, I had a callback for that part.  No I didn’t get it and yes, I feel like crap about it.

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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.

Boxes and Dust – part 2

As I was going through one of my drawers, I came across my mum’s expired passport and a couple of photos of her in better days.  She looked so young.  The mother I knew when I was growing up.  Rings I’m holding on for her.  It made me a little sad.  A side effect of going through stuff, I’m afraid. And then I found an email I had printed out from my husband about 4 years ago.  Life was pretty crappy for me at that point, so I hated to be reminded that things were ever that bad.    Yet I’m also glad  – keeps me from complaining too much in the present.  I see all the stuff I’ve been hanging on to.  Bits and pieces of things – like shoe strings, buttons, ticket stubs, play programmes, love notes, we need to talk notes.  Wow, I am a pack rat.  Or a collector of memories, depends on your point of view.  I get so attached to the smallest of things.

I still have a few syringes and paraphernalia left from my cycling days.  I held on to this stuff on purpose.  Mementos of a life wished for and not attained.  I’m not sure why this seems so important because the only thing in life you can count on is that things change.

Infertility manifested itself in our lives and nothing was ever the same.  No matter how well balanced I feel, now matter how calm I feel, I always feel vulnerable to reminders of the past.  I’d like NOT to considering my dream of being a parent came true.

I subscribe to an email newsletter about family events in the city.  I read one item that promoted a group called Birth Lounge that’s all about birth, pregnancy and beyond.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that in the slightest.  They’re sponsoring a big event and I noticed that one of the sponsors was an acupuncture clinic that I shelled out a substantial amount of money to help me conceive all for naught.  For one brief moment, I actually felt excluded.  It was a reminder of my infertile past.  I watch a pregnant woman on TV getting photography shots of her belly and I feel a slight sadness that I didn’t get to have that experience of carrying my child. There’s no saying that if I had been pregnant that it would turned out all right or that I wouldn’t run into some horrendous medical condition.  Something tells me that pregnancy would have left my body a flabby wreck and I’d be moaning about that now for sure.  Yet, sometimes I get that old message that says I screwed up somehow, I made a mistake somewhere along the line.

I feel pretty content in my life these days.  After about 7 years of crap, life has becomes more sweet than bitter.  Yet, still these small things get under my skin a little.  I hate that.  These bits of papers and things that remind me of the past.

Time to take out the trash.

More musings

Love your comments about the film, Away We Go.  I’m sorry I didn’t get to see the end, I was too tired.  I’m pretty darned sure I would not have attempted to get pregnant after adopting 4 kids.  I’m sure people do it though.  Trust me, there were a few people who said, oh, you’ll probably get pregnant now!  Hahahaha!  Adoption as a cure for infertility?  Hey, why not just hang that out there so I NEVER GIVE UP THE DAMN DREAM!

When I decided to adopt, I was pretty much done with trying – my “advanced maternal age” and all. No more hormones, no more expensive ovulation kits, no more timed sex.  Hah, no more sex!   I stopped keeping track of my periods, and somehow having sex seemed empty.  I have mentioned this ages ago, but I had the last of my eggs placed inside my uterus in an unmedicated cycle.  I was just done.  We both were.    I just didn’t want my eggs to stay frozen year after year after year.  Why?  Why not let them expire inside of me?  Hence, my moniker.  So when the inevitable BFN arrived, I had to truly come to terms that I would never be pregnant, never experience childbirth, never get to see the child that would be part me, part him. No cute maternity clothes, no belly shots, no birth announcements in the paper.   There would be no friends surrounding us with flowers and balloons in a hospital room; DH would never get to hand out the cigars, we wouldn’t have a birth video to record his arrival.  All the stuff I had fantasized about for years.

What made it worse was that once I truly understood understood what adoption entailed, I grieved all over again because now the process was public.  When we had talked about adopting years ago, it was all theoretical.  We had no idea of what it really meant.  True, I didn’t have to spread my legs anymore for the inspections and procedures, but I had to reveal myself to social workers, lawyers, receptionists, even the Kinko people when we made our profiles.  Hey look everybody, we’re begging for a kid!

The fantasy I had of me and DH in a hospital room in half light with our little one on my chest was gone.  I had to answers questions, be fingerprinted, deplete my life savings, PROVE my worth (or so it felt) and WAIT.  AND WAIT.  AND WAIT.  And then of course the fact that another woman had to let go of the child she had given birth to, carried around inside of her for 9 months and leave empty handed in order for me to be a mother.  I was grateful, but it made me sad.  When all eyes were on me, I demonstrated absolute resolve, calmness and my mouth made the words coming out make sense.  People said congratulations!  I smiled p0litely to the gatekeepers along the way from the social worker to the courthouse to the customs officers.  And when I came home, I sobbed out of sheer relief.

I was not in the position to “try again”.  I get it universe, this is my path, and it occurs to me that I may have been saved from a worse fate.  The real miracle is that I no longer yearn for a child part me/part him.  The Precious looks up at me with his big eyes and he wipes away all thought of what could have been and embraces me in the present.  This is his gift to me.

late night movie musing

*I wrote this last night, but went to bed before I finished it.

I should be sleeping but I just have to make this quick post.  I am watching Away We Go with John Krasinski and Maya Randolph and I’m probably going to bed right after I write this, so don’t ask me about the ending.  Anyways, it’s the story of this couple who are pregnant and they go visiting their friends and family with kids to find out how they can be good parents or something like that.  Anyways, they go visit people in Montreal and their friends have 4 adopted kids and everything looks so happy.  Maya Randolph tells the wife that her getting pregnant was a happy accident.  The wife asks Maya Randolph who is 6 months pregnant  how things are going with her pregnancy.  She then downs her drink and says half heartedly that she’s happy for her.  Then the husband takes them to a strip bar (cause apparently that’s what Montrealers do for fun) and they are stunned to find his wife up there for amateur night.  They thought she was in the bathroom.  And he sits there riveted while she does a slow, sad dance around the pole (with her clothes on) and tells John Krasinski that she had another miscarriage.  Her 5th miscarriage.  He goes on to say that they were selfish and waited til their 30s to have children only to find it difficult; that they watched their babies grow and then fade away; that 14 year olds can have babies without barely trying; and that they didn’t know whether to name or bury their dead babies.  The wife finishes her sad dance, and goes to cuddle in her husband’s arms.

So.  I thought it was incredibly sad for a couple of reasons.  I really liked the husband’s monologue about the pain of not being able to have children, the pain of losing your babies.  I could really feel the wife’s grief/indifference in face of a pregnant belly.  I could even understand that adoption didn’t solve the problem of infertility and loss.  But I kinda felt like they were saying that you can adopt all the kids you want, you’re still going to want to keep trying to have your own child and this women endured 5 miscarriages.

Has anyone seen the movie?  What do you think?  I know there are women who proceed with adoption plans and IVF at the same time.  Do they want to just have more than one kid or is it more like hedging your bets kind of thing?  Would I have done the same thing had it been an option?  Not sure.

Things lost in the fire

Experiencing infertility is hard enough, but when you switch gears from giving up the dream of having a biological child to wanting to raise another child through adoption, it becomes a whole different ballgame.

Infertility had stripped away the intimacy over conceiving a child and adoption was going to make things very, very public.  Intellectually, you know that, but emotionally it takes some getting used to.  I tried to be optimistic, after all this is what you do when you can’t have a child but want one, right?  It wasn’t a call of duty for me, but a strong desire to fulfill some sense of loss in me.  Now, I have to say I wasn’t in this desire alone.  Hubby had wanted to turn to adoption sooner than I had.  But I was too busy grieving and wondering if I should even have children at all.  You know, cause if it hadn’t happened, then “maybe it wasn’t meant to be”.  I was still waiting for a miracle.

The months crawled by; I tried to rebuild and redefine my life. I remembered the beauty of cherry blossoms and when I finally released the hope of the little girl who never was, we got a call that eventually lead us to our son.

It seemed like the only way I could rise about the drama that ensued was if I stopped trying to control the outcome.  Do you have any idea of how difficult that was for someone like me?  It was BRUTAL.  I’m not a let go, let god type of person.  I’m a “don’t tell me I have to drink from the coloured fountain, I’ll show you” type of girl.  I have a tendency to want to go back and undo the past (so envious of Superman) but no matter how hard I tried, my supernatural powers failed me. I thought being a Buddhist was all about controlling what happens to me.  Wrong.  It’s about controlling yourself.   (“..become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you.”)

I lost a lot of things in the fire you might say.  I lost my innocence, I lost my faith (but gained it back) and I lost who I thought I was supposed to be.  But I gained a lot as well.  I still haven’t fully realized the scope of having this child in my life.  He has devoured the time I probably would have taken to get myself into more trouble, no doubt.  He cares not a whit about my existential angst, he cares about getting fed, being held and being adored.

He’s a lot like me in a way.

Open Adoption Roundtable #15

The topic for this round of the Open Adoption Roundtable is money: Does money have an impact on your open adoption? If so, how? (Could be issues pre- or post-placement, expectations, assumptions, costs of visit activities, travel, gifts–you name it.)

I’ve never participated in the Open Adoption Roundtable before though I always enjoy reading the posts.

As you may realize, one of the biggest stressors in a marriage/relationship is MONEY.  Apparently, there’s never enough or one person has more than the other and power struggles can ensue.  Who saves and who spends?  How much debt can you live with? And did we fight about it? Oh, yeah, you betcha – particularly because thousands of it went for IVF treatments that didn’t result in a pregnancy.

When we first attempted IVF, I was doing really well and my private insurance was at the highest level so I had just enough money to pay for treatment, acupuncture, naturopathy and drugs.  Just enough.  I also had money coming in from a US national commercial, so I had cash on hand.  By the time we called a halt to all treatments, I was out of money, my income had plunged 60%, my insurance level had dropped along with my income, our credit cards still carried balances from IVF drugs and procedures, hubby had gone through 2 job changes…. and we still wanted to be parents one day.

So having made the decision to adopt, the money had to come from somewhere as once we were chosen, we had to have the money ready to go at any moment.  We agreed that there was no way we were going to borrow the money from the bank or from friends.  We had to cash in most of retirement plans in order to make it happen.    So technically, no, we couldn’t AFFORD to adopt, we just LOOKED like we could.  Plus once we set our minds on something, we just find a way.  Let’s not forget that in our social circle, if you can’t get pregnant via IVF, why not surrogacy and if not that, well, JUST ADOPT!  We’ll simply have to make more money for our retirement.  Yet there was no point in going deeper into debt than we already were, right?   How many people do you know that have kind of money sitting in a bank account collecting dust?  Honestly, I was hoping we could use that money for a down-payment on a home, but when you’re trying to conceive, your life is on hold.

We did apply for local adoption, but no one seemed to think that was going to work out that way.  Apparently in Canada, adoption is not the huge industry that it is in the States.  Not that it doesn’t happen, but the wait can be closer to 5 years.  Our social systems support people who choose to keep their children (that is not to say that the US system is not equipped to do the same).  It is quite difficult to network across country.  Each province does their own thing.  The Canadian adoption lawyers all knew each other, but they had more than enough clients.  Since we were a biracial couple, I thought our chances might be better in Ontario or Nova Scotia.  No such luck. You have to have a homestudy done in that province to qualify.   I was told that Nova Scotia pretty much discourages adoption and Ontario had more than enough waiting parents.  I actually emailed a lawyer in Toronto (I never heard from her in person) and begged her secretary to take our profile just in case.  Not so much as a peep.  You could hear a pin drop.

Comparatively, the private adoption lawyers in the US always returned our calls promptly. They were extremely attentive and EAGER to work with us.   All staff were friendly and responsive.  Here?  Not so much.  Getting information and costs from US agencies were incredibly easy, all details promptly emailed over.  Even non Hague affiliated agencies were apologetic that they didn’t work with Canadian couples.

All the other profiles we were emailed to us came from the US.  So that meant US prices so we had to factor at least 20-30% more.  There were more than a few profiles that we were interested in that were well beyond our budget.  One time, I was so excited to get a phone call from the agency about a particular profile but by the time she told me the price, I almost drove off the road (yes, that’s when it was still legal to be on the phone and drive.)  The healthy teen pregnancies apparently came at a premium.  Each state seemed to have widely different fees for agency services.  We paid about $400 for an online profile service here in Canada (which of course was active for all of 2 weeks  before we got matched).  We contacted a lawyer in the southern US and had a great consultation with him but nothing came of it.

Eventually, we were matched through a West Coast lawyer  and paid all expenses for the birthmother and her friend’s travel because she lived in another state. We used airmiles for our airfare, hotel and car.  We cut down our own personal spending for 2 years.     What was I willing to sacrifice in order to be a parent? Forget a new car, fancy shoes, sporting equipment or new clothes.  The money went into escrow to be disbursed as needed.  We were now supporting another person,  and 2 lawyers, not to mention a social worker and we had to still pay our agency once we came home with the baby.

We live in Canada so we knew air travel would be a necessity. W e brought gifts for the birthmother and her son each time we saw her and paid for meals; I always wondered if was too much or too little.  I had been advised to not overdo it.  I also sent her a special gift when we got home. We had to leave the same day we got the news she was in labour, but luckily we saved we had enough airmiles for the fare and rental car but not the hotel.  We had to throw in the unexpected expense of boarding the dog as there no time to drop her off at friends or the in-laws.

I had not prepared a nursery, though hubby had painted the 2nd bedroom in an act of faith.  There would be no baby shower until after I brought a real live baby home.  Family and friends were incredibly generous, so there wasn’t much we truly needed right away.  And of course, I am self-employed, so I had to cancel last minute work I had lined up.   But we carefully planned for all of these things, so we were ready.

Another real issue that truly highlighted finances  was when I went to visit the birth mother.  It was obvious that if she had money, she would not have given up her child.  But more importantly, she didn’t have any emotional or family support.  Her entire social circle seemed to be young people who have kids by different partners or aren’t married or in a committed relationship.  I knew she  loved him enough to want more for him.   I  realized could have given her home an extreme makeover, and pampered her like a princess but it would not have changed her life.  That was simply up to her.

When we left town, we gave a few baby items we couldn’t pack to a housekeeper who had a new grandchild.  I realized then that I didn’t need more things, just more life.

Please link here to read more at the Open Adoption Roundtable.

PS. I hope this makes sense, it took me 8 hours to do it.