Friday, February 26, 2010

So I keep trying...

For those of you who have asked here is the skinny on the baby stuff...

So far no luck doing things in this strange-ill-timed way with donors and the local Obstetrician. The insurance company continues to say no to IVF unless I can prove I have unexplained infertility.

Do I give up? Heck no. When I started this I was so sure I could do this easily that I promised Steve I would only try once. I didn't want to be one of those desperate women who took all the equity out of their house to buy a donor egg and put themselves through years and years of injections and heartbreak. I told myself "Hey, if it is meant to happen then the fertility gods will drop a big fat baby in my lap, if not I move on, I am a big girl for goodness sake."

Instead the universe has chosen to teach me a little lesson about what it feels like to walk in anther's moccasins. If I had equity in my house I would have used it without a second thought. If I had a savings account with lots of zero's it would be gone. Do I feel silly and desperate? No. I feel like there is a child out there who is waiting for me to figure this out.

Unless you have ever been in this moment it's hard to understand. Some of my friends who have kids, that are mostly grown up can't wait for them to be off to college so they can get back to a life that feels a little bit less like a circus. The friends I have who do not have children by choice think this is animal instinct and what I need is a good vacation or the loan of someone elses screaming baby with colic to cure me. The friends I have with small children look at me with eyes that say, "you have got to be kidding?" I get it, I have had days like that too.

Some women are designed to be mothers some know it and some don't. I am not a great mom, I give my kids chocolate cake for breakfast, pancakes for dinner and let them run around naked all day. I kinda like kiddie chaos, especially in the backyard in the summer, or Christmas morning, or even late at night when everyone wants to wiggle and have one more story, one more story, one more story. I am perfect in my imperfection, we all are, Some women embrace it, some fight it, and some women have to fight long and hard for it.

There is a laundry list of the comments people make, and I have made them too. I am here to tell you that wanting and waiting for a child is big, it isn't like wanting a big wedding, or a better house. This is deep, it consumes you, it feels like a mission, it feels like an obstacle (obstetrical) course the universe made just for you to figure out how badly you want this and what you are willing to endure for it.

A houseplant, puppy, or the loan of a neighbors child won't cure or satisfy this longing, this need, this knowing. Adoption is not as easy as it sounds and just for the record adopting a special needs child or doing foster care takes a special person, deserves a special person, that is it's own journey, it isn't what you do when you have run out of options.

So here I am...

I found a clinic that offers embryo donation. I know, I know, it sounds sci-fi and creeps you out a little but it is actually a beautiful gift. Here is how it works...

A couple who can not have a child without assisted reproductive therapy (ART) has IVF. IVF is when all the magic happens outside the body rather than inside. A woman's eggs (or donor eggs if she does not have her own) are mixed up in a petri dish with the sperm from the partner (or a donor if he does not make his own sperm or she does not have a partner) and embryo's are created.

I know you are visualizing tiny little babies floating around in a laboratory. These are not quite baby's yet but more like baby seeds. They are cells that have just begun to divide, they are baby hope. Because this process is so very expensive, and painful (to the woman) they make as many embryo's as they can to give her a really good chance.

If she does not get pregnant there will be some frozen embryo's waiting for her to try again. If she does get pregnant she can store her remaining embryo's for another pregnancy later on. When she is done building her family she can choose to donate her remaining embryo's to science, let them expire, or she can offer them to another family.

Many families pay to keep these cells in cryopreservation because they are not sure what do or what the options are.

There are several pro-life Christian organizations who are on a mission to save these "babies" and God bless them. The problem is that they are becoming the middle men in what should be a donation and turning it into a formal adoption. The great part of this is that Christian families are able to connect with other Christian families and get matched in a way that makes them happy. The not so great part of this is that there is a lot of expense generated in this process, and more hoops to jump through than a person should have to. It excludes recipient families that do not have the 11,000-18,000 dollars to make this happen.

Then there are clinics that lay out the options very clearly to their patients and if the family chooses to donate then embryo's are kept at the fertility clinic and a true donation to another family happens through the clinic. It isn't warm and fuzzy with phone calls and photos, it is clinical, but it is simple and there are no middle men with hands held out for large sums of money, no giant hoops.

There are over 400,000 embryo's in storage. Many of those would be donated to families if there was more education about this option and if more of these stories were told.

There is a website called Miracles Waiting that offers a forum for donating families and hopeful parents to connect on their own. I think it's a happy middle ground. It's a well screened and monitored community, a small fee is involved but it is mostly to weed out people who would try to do harm, or not serious.

So I am waiting for an embryo. I know this may be a difficult solution for many people but the way I see it conception is it's own little world, we can't control it, the universe will give us the child that is meant for us. Biology offers a connection but not much else. I love the idea of adopting a child I get to give birth to, how beautiful is that?

I don't know why a woman as fertile as I have been has been led down this path, I don't know if a baby will be at the end of all of this but I do know I am changed by this process, I have grown in so many ways.

To my new friends who have been working so hard, waited so long, and have endured so much thank you for being my teachers, my support and guiding me so well, you have offered light...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Gram...

My Grandmother passed away this morning, early before the sun came up...

I was up because I had gone to bed early the night before, I meditated and prayed for her passing. She had lost consciousness the night before and I was wishing her transition would be peaceful and she would not have to linger in a place of hearing and feeling but not being able to communicate.

I got to spend time with her and got to tell her I loved her. I am not sad, I am grateful.

My gram lived a long life and many of the years of her life were spent caring for me and my siblings because our parents could not. She wasn't warm and cuddly, she was strong and good. We could depend on her to come and rescue us in the middle of the night from a sleep over we were not ready for, to get us to a doctor when we were sick, to make sure we always had something to eat and a safe person to call when we were afraid.

My gram was my mothers care-taker, my mother never quite got that, still doesn't. Gram spent her whole life worrying about and taking care of her. Without my gram my mother wouldn't have survived. My mother has always dealt with mental illness and drug addiction, gram never judged her and was always took her side. It is sad that her life was spent giving to her and there are times I have been angry about how much sacrifice that was but my gram knew how to love unconditionally.

My gram did not shower us with gifts, she didn't kiss us good night or tell us she loved us. She didn't braid our hair or take us to Sunday tea, she didn't make us dresses, fuss over us or own a brag book. My gram was not our cushion, she was our protector and our rock.

What gram gave me was good advice, she taught me cook, garden, honor family, work hard, play cards, fish, and showed me how to make something beautiful from almost nothing at all. She told me stories that would last my whole life.

She believed in simple things like a good meal, a night sky, the sound of the ocean, that a long drive could clear your head, and a good nights sleep could be found in a comfy chair with a book on your lap. A party was not a party without lots of food and music, the best place for a party was under the big tree in her yard. A pic-nic table could be made from an old door and comfort could be found at the kitchen table. Family first...always.

At Stevie's funeral my gram took my hands in her delicate brown hands that looked like leathery road map, looked at me with her magnified mosquito eyes and said, "It should have been me, I am ready to go, it should have been me" She told me she loved me very much. She never had to say it before because I always knew she loved me but hearing it on that day split me down the middle. The unfairness was obvious but as it turned out my gram still needed to be here and losing Stevie tought me how to care for my gram in her last days. She lit a candle everyday for the last three years for my daughter.

Before Stevie died she had a dream that my grandmothers house was beautiful, filled with light and vases of baby pink roses. Stevie said that in her dream they were preparing for a birthday party and Stevie's job was to find my grandmothers baby and bring it to the party. She searched and searched and finally found it under a big tree.

I believe that at five this morning (on my grandfathers birthday) there was a house full of pink roses and healing light, guests waiting anxiously for the arrival of the birthday girl, and my daughter holding the baby my grandmother lost in childbirth so many years ago. The nurse said the last thing gram did was reach her hands out to embrace someone.

Happy Birthday gram, thank you, and I love you too.