Category Archives: Fertililty

Bombshell

DH has been working really hard lately (his normal working hours at the moment are 14 hours a day but most days he’s working longer than that).  So we’ve been living in a bit of a crisis mode, just surviving (on top of that our beloved Pinky has gone on leave, and so we count a good day as one where we aren’t serious potential candidates for one of those “Buried Alive By Our Belongings” reality shows).  Once he finds his feet, hopefully we will find a way forward that affords us a bit more normality.

Last night, we switched off the TV and had some one on one conversation, which hasn’t happened for a while since we’ve both been so exhausted.  And he asked me how I felt about doing a donor cycle!  Well, to say it came as a surprise is the understatement of the year.  He wasn’t keen on our last IVF at all, the deal was I would make it happen in every sense and he would donate the sp.erm (I was fine with this, I was the one who needed the closure not him).  After that, when I went into “what if” mode (you know, the bargaining stage of IVF grief where you tell yourself that you just need a different protocol/doctor/uterus/bank balance), he asked me gently if we could just stop talking about fertility treatment, like take a three month fertility discussion sabbatical.  My first thought at the time was, oh my word, what on earth will we talk about?  But I got over it, and found some other subject matter.  Like getting a life.

As I said before, getting a life has actually been quite an interesting subject to explore.  I’m busy signing up for a Business Analyst course and considering making quite a serious career change.  I find the concept actually really exciting, and the time I used to spend obsessively searching for the perfect IVF protocol, I have been using to look at job websites.  In London.  (That’s the first time I’ve said that out loud).  Because people without children can throw themselves into their careers, and they can immigrate at the drop of a hat without worrying about schools or whether their children will get enough outside play time because the weather is so hideous.  I’ve been looking at very real possibilities in my life, things that are actually physically achievable, and honestly the prospect is so very exciting.

On the other hand, at this point, if I had to choose between throwing myself under a bus and doing another fertility treatment, I would choose the former.  The thought makes my stomach turn, and tears spring into my eyes.

But there are two of us in this marriage, and I’m the one with the infertile body.  This isn’t a choice to throw myself back in the trenches for the sake of a baby (because I now have no doubt we will still walk away without one), but for the sake of my marriage.  DH would never make me do it if he knew how much I dread it, but hearing him say last night that he really wants to be a daddy, shot an arrow into my still so fragile broken heart.  You know it’s really bad when the first thought that comes into your mind is that if you got a divorce, DH would be free to find someone who can conceive, he can be the brilliant daddy he deserves to be, to a very blessed little baby.  And for me, the hell would finally be over.  I could move on, I could deal with my heartbreak and be free of the responsibility for his.  At least one of us would get to experience being a parent.  DH does not like this kind of talk (understandably, we’ve fought damn hard for our marriage through this nightmare) and he tells me that it’s our infertility, not mine.  That’s very sweet, but it simply isn’t true.  The only thing that makes my infertility ours is the marriage, and the kindness in his heart.

At this point there will be no donor cycle, unless someone can put me in an induced coma for the duration of the cycle and wake me up when it’s over!  Since that’s not a service that they offer at this stage at my fertility clinic, I am going to have to find a different way to deal with my marital guilt for now.  Will keep you updated on what I come up with!

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Some Things Still Make Me Sad About Infertility

I’ve realised that I’ve truly come to a space of acceptance about never producing a child from my body, it’s been a long road, but I am at peace.  I know this because given the choice right now, I would choose adoption over pregnancy.  Yes, you read that correctly, if someone gave me the choice, I would rather adopt than bear a child who is biologically related to me.  It just feels like a choice that is meant to be and I actually don’t have any other words for it than that.

But there is something that I am still struggling with terribly, and that is other people’s determination for me to be the miracle infertility poster child, the one who fell pregnant, the one that urban legends are made of.  Not anyone near me, my family and friends are thrilled and excited, I’m talking about people in the distant periphery.  But there are many of them, and often you come into a group of people you don’t know or barely know, and before you know it, there it is again, that complete and utter refusal to accept someone else’s infertility diagnosis as the truth.  The determination for you to simply accept that it’s your fear, and not your adhesions/missing fallopian tube/premature ovarian failure/azoospermia/endometriosis that are the reason for your consistently empty uterus.  The doctors, very simply, have made a mistake.

Now I’m actually extremely open to other people’s point of view, and I’m just clear that that is what it is, their point of view.  They are entitled to it.  Actually, I could probably have a very enjoyable conversation with a senile person who was telling me the grass is purple, I wouldn’t try to change their opinion on it.  I love that everyone sees the world differently and I don’t believe that anyone is ever wrong.

But conversations on fertility, well, they border on political.  It’s close to people’s hearts, their opinions on the subject are more than just opinions, they are crucial points that the listener absolutely must be convinced of.  The listener’s opinion must change for the conversation to be successful.  It cannot end before then.

And those conversations, they border on bizarre.  If I was for instance, a breast cancer survivor, would they be telling me that it wasn’t really breast cancer?  That my mastectomy had come about as a mistake on the doctor’s behalf?  That it was my fear that caused me to imagine a diagnosis by a doctor to be correct?

For the most part, I am able to navigate the conversational landmines of life quite well, but this one still floors me, and I will not capitulate.  I will not require someone to accept into their belief system that some people will just never, ever “fall” pregnant, despite the stats to back up the fact that more than 9 out of 10 infertile women will remain infertile without medical assistance.  But I will not smile gracefully as they force feed me my inevitable future “accidental” pregnancy.  I just. can’t. do. it.  I respect your understanding of the world, respect mine.

Respect the years of research, the thousands of Rands in medical fees, the rivers of tears, the millions of moments of wondering how it could be different.  Respect the long and painful journey down an endless road, that no woman thinks they themselves will ever have to take.  Respect the hard earned peace that you eventually come to, one way or another.  And pray young woman, pray.  Get on your knees every night until they are raw, and pray that you will be spared this.

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Our Adoption Profile

So time is whizzing on by, and it’s already been six weeks since we met with the social workers. 

I wanted to fill in all those forms perfectly, and we have put a lot of love, care and attention to detail into them.  But something else has crept in – a little habit of mine.  I get completely stopped in my tracks by my perfectionism. 

If someone gave me two years to put together this adoption profile, I would take the full two years, working on it every day.  I would scrutinize every photo and every word.  And I’m heading down that path right now.

How do you reflect who you are, and everything this adoption means to you?  It’s huge.  I mean, I was worried about what to wear for the screening, hello.  This weekend I am going to have to seriously pull myself towards myself and push forward!

I did quite a bit of research on this of course.  I’ve read loads of online adoption profiles.  I’ve looked for advice.  And I do actually want to share what DH and I found, because it’s amazing stuff.  Take a look at these bright, funky profiles

And then.  There is this website, giving adoption profile advice.  We’ve both read and re-read the website countless times.  This is what I got from it (in my own, less than eloquent words):

  • Your adoption profile is not a self centred vomit about you and how fab you are.  Your adoption profile is in fact, entirely about the birth mother.  You are not selling yourself.  You are opening the door on your life so that she can see in and work out if it fits with her.
  • Digging out every photo you ever took and putting in the ones that make you feel warm and fuzzy is not necessarily going to give her the same feeling.  Photos must tell a story on their own about you and your life.  Close up, expressive photos (I guess even if it was a bad hair day) say more than the one at your wedding with your 400 closest relatives.
  • Your words need to engage the senses, not just be reporting the facts e.g. “we like to walk on the beach” vs “we love the smell of the sea as we stroll along the beach, and the feeling of sand between our toes and the wind in our hair”.
  • All adoptive parents want a baby, it goes without saying.  Most of them have suffered from a painful infertility journey.  She didn’t come here to hear about that, she’s looking for a home for someone she loves very much, a baby that she has carried lovingly for a long time.  You don’t win a prize for suffering terribly, and this isn’t about “deserving”.  (I know, hard one to swallow eh?)
  • You aren’t trying to get approval from a crowd, you are hoping to be matched to one person.  Allow your uniqueness to shine through, don’t keep things out of your profile in case somebody gets put off by it.  Somebody might get put off, that’s OK.  Somebody else might feel a connection to you because of that specific thing.

It’s given us some perspective and direction, focussing on the birth mother actually makes me feel connected to her.  We want whatever is best for her in terms of communication with us, but secretly, I really would love to have a little contact with her once in a while.  I already know she’s special.  I can feel it in my heart!

Question to the adoptive moms, how many pages were in your profiles?

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The Big C

This week has been a tough one. A friend of mine was showering last Monday and found a really tiny little knot in her breast. She didn’t think much of it, but since mammograms are free on her medical aid, she decided to get one.

Well you know what’s coming next. The first biopsy showed that the lump was more likely to be a carcinoma than anything else, and yesterday she had the lump and a lymph node removed (to check for spread). Now we are just waiting for a 100% diagnosis and to find out if that node was clear.

Here’s the thing that’s getting to her, not the diagnosis (which is almost certain). Not the radiation treatment that will follow. But the fact that she will be put into menopause for 5 years, and she hasn’t had kids yet. She’s single and she’s been playing with the idea of becoming a single mom for a while. I sat next to her as the doctor delivered those damning words “we don’t recommend that you fall pregnant over the next five years”. The shock went through my body like a lightening bolt, I can’t imagine what it felt like to her.

I have this funny guilty feeling that it should have been me rather. I suppose that’s an automatic response to something like this, it feels unfair that my “planned” life lies ahead of me and absolutely everything in her entire universe just became uncertain. I can’t comfort her with integrity because I can’t begin to imagine where she’s at.

Will you keep her in your prayers?

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G and B

Are any of you watching the latest Guiliana and Bill series?  I don’t generally watch celebrity reality shows, I prefer trashy stuff like I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant (because, as you know, I live in hope of spontaneous, unexpected labour in the chocolate aisle).  But G and B, wow.  How amazing are they?  I even have my DH glued to it, and his favourite genre is usually anything with guns, bombs, cars, terrible chinese actors and/or rugby players.

What strikes me about it, is that if she hadn’t gone through her IF journey, and if she hadn’t experience two failed IVF’s, she would never have gone to a new clinic, and she would never have been sent for a mammogram.  They might not have found it in time.  Like in a horribly twisted way, IF saved her life.

Have you ever wondered what the reason isfor your IF?  I’ve always felt like somehow, it would all be revealed to me, it would all make sense eventually.  I don’t know the reason for my IF.  But I can say this, the adoption path feels so completely different and somehow relaxing.  I can’t really put a finger on it.  I think it could just be that my body is no longer required to step up to the plate.  I no longer have to beg and plead on both hands and knees for my uterus to play nice.  There’s something else about it, for some reason it’s going smoothly.  I’m not sure how, or why, but every time we need to get something done, it happens quickly and easily.  Like we needed to go for a medical, but in the nine years we have lived here, we haven’t had a GP.  So a friend of mine mentioned a name of someone who  is both a homeopath and a GP, in my area.  I phoned and asked for an appointment on Monday, and he (the secretary was on lunch) asked if we could make it this morning.  After the (amazing) appointment, my DH went to the chiropractor who told him that this GP’s practice has been so popular, it’s been closed to new patients for years!  Maybe he was moved by the fact that it was for an adoption? 

Then there is other news.  The guy that held us up at knifepoint in April has been caught, together with 8 others.  He was apparently the ringleader, and it seems we got off lightly.  Another of their 23 victims was very badly assaulted.  Anyhow.  It now means that we have to go to identity parades for each of those nine people (well two at a time) until we see our man.  And it just so happens that those identity parades are a hop, skip and a jump away from the social worker’s offices.  It gives us the opportunity to drop off some of the paperwork each time (because there is a mahussive wad of paperwork let me tell you).

Yes, I’m enjoying the adoption journey so far.  Maybe it’s just the feeling that we are in action again, there’s a sliver of hope again.  I’m so spurred on by G and B’s journey at the moment, wow in last night’s episode their gestational carrier got a BFP and I sobbed big crocodile tears.  Really, it was high time something went right for those two!  Please let our turn be soon!

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How did the screening go?

Firstly, you might notice that almost all the posts on my blog have just gone private.  I’m busy reviewing them and deciding which ones are still relevant as public material.  I started out this blog as a creative space to express how I was feeling, and some of the stuff here is slowly becoming inappropriate.  Things I’ve said about other people.  Intimate details of our fertility journey.  That kind of thing.  I always wondered what made people close their blogs and start afresh, I kind of understand it now.  My initial audience was mostly infertile women that I had never met face to face, but slowly, more and more real life people are starting to read it.  In fact, to be honest, I don’t actually know who is reading!  So I’m applying a kind of test, like what would my grandmother say if she read this blog?  A birth mother?  My in laws?  My work colleagues?  Have I made offensive remarks?  Since my blog is still a personal space for me, I’ve decided to review it and clean it up rather than close it.

OK – so the screening.  It was a long day.  We started by explaining a little about ourselves, our childhoods etc and what we do for a living.  Then we each had to fill in a form with identical questions.  The questions were excellently worded, I thought it was a very clever questionaire!  All prospective parents should have to fill something like that in, because it really made us think about our lives.
 
The questions were about our home, our childhoods, our relationships with our families.  Strengths and weaknesses of our parents.  Qualifications and jobs of parents and siblings.  Questions about our marriage, our jobs and future prospects.  What were we like as children?  What are our goals as parents?  What questions would we like to ask the birth mother?  What is the most important and valuable activity we will do with our children?  We didn’t stop writing for two hours, and when she came back in the room with our lunch, we were each still only half way through the questionnaire.  We laughed a lot too, one question was about how DH and I met.  I wrote a long romantic paragraph about how we were instantly drawn to each other, he had such a gentle loving way about him and we had a lot in common.  DH wrote: “2001.  Dinner party.”  As they say, Men are from Mars. 
 
After lunch we gave up on those forms and have taken them home to complete.  The next session was counselling from her side explaining how birth mothers come to them, the costs, the legal process.  Would we accept an abandoned baby?  etc. 
 
That was followed by another questionnaire on our marriage, which gets sent in for assessment.  It was one of those 1=disagree strongly, 5=agree strongly.  We weren’t allowed to discuss with each other, and on this one we will get feedback on the weak areas.
 
Finally she gave us another wad of paper, forms to fill in about our finances, what we own, our budget and how much we save, medical forms for our (non-existant) GP to fill in, declarations and agreements to sign (e.g. we promise to send photos once a quarter and information on the child’s development).  We still have to do a home study which is an explanation about our homelife, like an essay.  We also need to make a profile which will be presented to the birth mother, explaining who we are with photos etc.  She showed us some old ones to give us some ideas.  We have two months to complete all of that.
 
We drove home in stunned silence, you know that feeling when there is a lot floating around in your head and your mind is trying to process it and file it away.
 
It was a great day, very positive and interesting.  We played completely open cards about our separation and our precarious financial situation with DH’s retrenchment being imminent.  I must say that I was left with a sense of that what we have been through is quite normal, we have not failed in some sort of perfection test, we have overcome adversity.  Birthmothers are surely not looking for perfection so much as real people capable of sharing their love.

We still have our (paper)work cut out for us.  I like to “do things right” so of course I can’t miss a single detail, but this is the one time where I think it will be appreciated!  Thanks for all the prayers, wishes and love.  You know, I felt them on Wednesday morning, really.

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Some Thought Provoking Conversation about Adoption

I came across this a few days ago, and it played on my mind so much I felt I needed to blog about it.  It’s from one of my favourite bloggers (when I found her blog I read it from start to finish), who is herself both an adoptee and infertile.  She’s doing a write up here on a book by another adopted woman.  It’s an interesting and thoughtful conversation, the author replies a number of times in the comments section.

http://www.themaybebaby.com/2012/01/sharing-truths-found-memior-part-of.html

As someone who has had her fair share of trauma (and then again it’s nothing compared to some), the one thing that I have never ever seen as traumatic is the act of adoption. To me it seems (from the outside, but also as an infertile woman and someone who is very seriously considering adoption) to be one of the most miraculous and beautiful things I have ever come across. Not as an act of charity. Not as an act of rescue. I believe that it takes immense and tremendous love on the part of a birth mother to make this decision. I believe that if the birth mother truly believes she has made the right decision for her child, then adoption is most certainly in the child’s best interest. The social worker that we are dealing with told us that birth mothers care deeply for their children, and it is not a decision they take lightly. They are counselled for many months. They are 100% sure that this is what they want for their babies, who in 90% of cases they love dearly. The number one focus of the social worker is for the child. If even one grandparent shows some kind of dislike for the idea of adoption, the entire thing is out of the question. The care that is taken on every level is just incredible. Of course, there is no doubt in my mind that the child will feel abandoned on some subconscious level, and that is never OK. But there are so many aspects of life and childhood that are not OK, that are painful. We are all damaged!

My thoughts are basically the same thoughts that I have about all things.  In life you have two choices, all day, every day.  To act from a place of love or to act from a place of fear.  Actions from a place of fear are never empowering, and the same applies to adoption.  Placing a child due to your fear, or adopting a child due to fear cannot be healthy for anyone.  But when a birthmother places a child because her love for the child is so great that she puts her child’s needs above her own, and when a couple (or single person) adopt a child because their heart is so overflowing with love that has nowhere to go, surely the result can only be great.

There are few things as terrifying to any human being as loss of identity, and the dangers for adopted children in this respect are possibly greater than for children living with their biological parents.  But love and a sense of belonging must surely be able to overcome all those problems?

On a different note, it’s interesting that when a thought is in my mind, sometimes my bloggettes post about it before I do.  It’s happened with my last two posts!  Thanks Sharon and LM!

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