Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Twenty-Nine

Today is my birthday, more specifically my 29th birthday. Now before I even start I know many of you are going to think, "who cares?" or "I'll trade ya'" or "I wish I was twenty-nine again" and I get that. It's not that twenty-nine feels particularly old, in fact twnety-nine suddenly feels very young, you know? I think for every year I age "old" moves two years farther out from my original idea of "old". I'm not old... that's not the problem. The problem is what my twenty-ninth birthday represents.

I've mentioned this before, but somehow as a child, I got the idea into my head that I wanted to be just like my mom and stop having babies at twenty-nine. Well (insert four letter word). In fact, mom didn't just stop at twenty-nine, more specifically she had me five days after her 29th birthday. For some unknown reason, this arbitrary and unrealistic goal followed me from my childhood and into my adult life. I've never been able to shake the idea that I should be done with baby-making before thirty. I remember when Sam and I were dating I tried to express the urgency of the situation... we couldn't expect to have five biological babies before twenty-nine if he kept dragging his feet on the dang engagement.

We got engaged at twenty-three. I knew then somewhere in my head that this was an impossible task. I could not get married and have five children before my thirtieth birthday. I should have kicked this silly, idealistic plan to the curb then, but I didn't. When infertility struck like a sledgehammer to the gut, I should have recognized that there was absolutely zero chance this would happen, unless my idea of a family changed from five to one. And honestly, I guess that's initially what changed. Instead of moving twenty-nine down the road a few years to thirty-five or remove this antiquated finish like altogether, I simply lowered my expectations. Instead of five children, I was hoping for three children. Gracious, I was naive. For any infertile person to have three children in four years would be absolutely wild.

With time, I slowly began to recognize that the twenty-nine deadline was not going to happen. Once again, I had the opportunity to drop the nonsense and move on, simply feeling fulfilled if I ever had a baby, and yet once again, I clung to the birthday as the date I needed to at least start my family. If I could have one baby before my 29th birthday, I would feel satisfied I told myself. From there, I could go on adding to my family without deadlines and checkpoints. Thus the October Baby became so important to me. I mourned that this was simply not meant to be after IVF failed in January. Other than a premature birth (which I would obviously never hope for) there was simply no way I would meet this whimsical idea. And so, I tucked the idea away and moved on, silently and secretly dreading this birthday like the plague.

I'm not going to lie. This birthday hurts. All birthdays take on a special type of pain in the midst of infertility, but this one has extra sting. My mommy friends are quickly moving onto their second and third and (bless them) fourth children. My non mommy friends are most often several years younger than me. I'm stuck in between, not exactly a good fit in any world. As a child, like all good Generation Xers and Millenials I was told I could do anything if I simply worked hard, put my mind to it, and never gave up. Well friends, I did all of the above, and yet here I sit. Now I fully recognize in my cognitive, rational mind that the "you can be anything you want to be" is a lie, but on some level I still hear whispers that I failed.

I have to admit though, despite wanting to kick myself for every giving myself this ridiculous deadline, in some ways, I'm really thankful. I'm so glad I was in a desperate hurry to start having babies so I could fit them all in by twenty-nine. I'm so thankful that my biological clock was shrieking at twenty-four. I'm so thankful that we started trying at twenty-five, just thirteen months after getting married. I'm so thankful I felt burdened to be a young mom, even though I feel like a failure today. I'm thankful because this idea, the deadline, this "hurry-up" feeling has given me the blessing of time. Time we wouldn't otherwise have had if I'd felt I had all the time in the world. Time we wouldn't have had if I'd given myself a more normal deadline of 35 or 40. Now the fact that we're almost four years into this infertility battle doesn't mean time is up, or the door is closed. So while it sucks to feel like I failed, I'm still really thankful to have had such a silly idea in my head for so long.

Twenty-nine is such an odd birthday to have a mini midlife crisis over. Again, the freakout has nothing to do with the idea of being old. I don't look at my friends in their thirties and think of them as old; rather I look at my friends in their mid twenties and think of them as fresh-faced young'uns. This day is not about being old, or one step closer to thirty,  it's about failing. In some ways, I guess it's a blessing. This day is finally here, and now I can move forward, leaving the idea behind, embracing the path before me, and forgetting this self-imposed line in the sand. The truth of the matter is, be it twenty-nine or thirty-nine, we will be beyond thrilled to enter parenthood at all. This birthday will pass, and we will move on just as excitedly, just as diligently, just as eagerly on building our families, but today, I'm really missing that October Baby and that First Baby that would have made me a mom so many years ago.

Monday, October 20, 2014

So Much to Do

Oh man, you guys, I'm not sure if I've ever been this tired. The last few weeks have been INTENSE. The good news is that we're flying through our home study, the bad news is moving so quickly is A LOT of work.

We had our first home study visit last Thursday after a last minute cancellation on Wednesday. I guess I should clarify really quickly that the "home study" does not always take place in our home... and thank God for that because it's about all I can do to get a load or two of laundry done the last few weeks. The house looks like a tornado came through. Every home study is a little different depending on the state and the social worker, but for ours we have three visits plus eight bazillion pages of paperwork that make up our home study. The first two are outside of our home, it's the final one where they actually come and inspect our home. 

Our first visit went pretty well, so thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers. I think we were both pretty nervous with so many unknowns, but our case worker is very kind and thus far, not at all like the horror stories you often hear. We aren't expected to have covers on the outlets or child locks on the cabinets... she's a realistic woman that doesn't expect us to live in a baby-ready, toddler-proofed house while we wait. I really appreciate that as I would go CRAZY if I had to live with those constant reminders for a year. 

We have our second appointment this Thursday and our final visit, including the home inspection, this Saturday. While I'm thrilled that we will be done with our responsibilities for the home study by Saturday morning, the work required to actually get there is unreal. I picked up a septic tank letter and had a TB test this morning all before going into work. Wednesday I've got to have the test read so I can prove I don't have tuberculous and that my entire reason for adopting is not to spread infectious diseases. Also between now and Saturday morning, we've got to pick up six letters of recommendation, get finger printed by GBI/FBI, conduct a 911 records report in the last two counties that we've lived, and run a criminal background check, not to mention complete our written portions of the home study paperwork.Should be easy, right?

This past weekend we went to the Together for Adoption conference. It was a great experience, we learned a ton, and came back feeling both really encouraged and really overwhelmed. It was unfortunately terrible timing as I had 2.4 million things that needed to get done, but it was also a great escape from the paperwork. The conference was really interesting as it dealt with some heavy issues like ethical concerns within the adoption community. Ethics and social justice have always been things that both interest me and overwhelm me. I, like so many at the conference, want to make sure that everything about this adoption and any future adoption is handled ethically and with the absolute best interest of the children involved. It was also really good for me to be reminded of the root reason I've been interested in adoption for so many years... not simply family building but also kingdom building. In light of infertility, adoption has seemed so much about what we are gaining...and we are gaining much through adoption. That will always be at the forefront of my mind; adoption gave us the opportunity for a family. However, the conference reminded me that adoption could also be incredibly life changing for our son or daughter. We may have the opportunity to break generational chains of poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, criminal records, etc. Obviously not every child is put up for adoption in America for such reasons, and we will happily help a college student who wants to place her child so that she can continue her education, but the reality is that many of the birth moms are placing their babies for adoption because they are dealing with drug addiction, they are homeless, or have no financial means to care for another child. It was good for me to be reminded that good can come from this for all of those involved.

We will hopefully get our home study report back sometime next week, at which point we can begin to present ourselves to birth mothers... except that we have nothing to present ourselves with. My bad. We've been SO focused on the home study that the profile book has slipped a bit. I'm hoping to edit out profile text and resubmit that to our consultant for review today. From there, I'll need to begin putting our book together. Once we have books in hand and and the home study report submitted, we can begin to present ourselves to birth mothers. Adoption, is much like infertility treatments I've found... a lot of hurry up and wait.

So if I fall off the face of the earth and forget this little blog entirely, you can find me under a pile of paperwork or starting to put our puzzle together for the puzzle fundraiser.

Friday, October 10, 2014

I Don't Do Tricks

I want to say upfront that I'm really thankful to be here: able to adopt, semi-confident we'll pass the home study, and just shy of raising 20% of our fundraising goal. There is more hope inside my heart than there has been in years. It feels weird. If I wasn't so overwhelmed, I think I'd be happy. Weird indeed. But I've never been one to paint rainbows where they don't exist or imagine roses in a field of weeds. This blog is "Genuine Greavu" for a reason... I don't sugar coat it. Never have (to my own detriment) and probably never will. I feel like I've got to be honest about this stage of everything too. Not only because it's just who I am, but because I don't feel like I really understood the whole picture until now. And someone out there is probably right where I am, or two steps behind and needs to know she's not alone.

Adoption is hard my friends. All of my adoptive parent friends are thinking, "I told you" and they did, I just didn't get it. I didn't get how vulnerable the adoption process would make me feel. Ironically, I feel far more exposed now, sitting fully clothed, amidst scattered pages of sample profiles, budgets, and grant applications than I ever did lying half naked in the stirrups. It doesn't really make sense. I joke that half the doctors in Atlanta have seen all of my business, but some days it felt like that... reproductive endocrinologists (a total of six), OBGYNs (three), nurses, and ultrasound technicians (too many to count) have been paraded back and forth in front of me with my legs spread wide for the past three plus years. I wouldn't say I was comfortable with it, but whatever modesty I once clung to went out the window by the second IUI. And yet suddenly I feel incredibly exposed, naked for the world to see, and no one's even offering me a paper sheet.

Right now, we're in the home study stage. One of my adoptive parent friends explained it like this: you go through adoption kind of backwards. Your home study is your labor and delivery. It's the part where it can't go fast enough, hurts like hell, you just keep pushing through, and you want to scream for somebody to give you some bloody drugs. After the home study comes the waiting and that's like the nine months of gestation. It's slow and steady (or not so steady)... the day to day changes seem insignificant and it's all in anticipation of this one day. It seemed weird when she described it like that, but now I think I get it. This definitely feels like a good enough reason for some pain killers. I wouldn't mind something to help me sleep either.

When I heard people discuss the home study before, it was always in terms of the quantity of paperwork. I imagined that was the daunting part. And don't get me wrong, it is daunting. The sheer volume of paperwork is enough to send people packing. I just keep telling myself that I am an organized, type A person... my brain was designed for this type of task. The part that I was not designed for is the "don't ask why" part. I imagine I was one of the world's most obnoxious children. "But why?" was my favorite phrase. I have always needed to know why and "because it is" has never once shut me up. The home study is full of opportunities to ask "why?". Why do they need to know that? That's what I ask myself 1,000 times a day. And then the monsters Anger, Jealousy, and Entitlement rear their ugly heads from down deep in my soul and the pity party begins. This isn't fair. 

I imagine adoption is a frustrating experience for anyone, but for me, for someone who has been knocked low time and time again by infertility; for someone who has questioned and doubted her fitness to parent; for someone who already struggles with ideas like justice and fairness; for someone like me, the home study is hard I keep telling myself that this has nothing to do with my inability to conceive... these steps, these hoops, these acrobatic tricks are required of fertile people too. It helps to remember that this is not punishment. They aren't looking at me with angry, disapproving eyes and questioning if I could possibly be fit to parent... the greatest, proven moms and dads have to jump though these same hoops to adopt. But I forget this truth approximately 10,000 times a day. It is so easy to feel judged at every single step along this path.

The questions in the home study are hard. I say that and people always say, "like what?"... I give an example or two and I get the response back, "that doesn't sound that hard." And they're right. Any one question all by itself isn't that hard. It's the sum total of all of the requests. Things like:
    What is your fondest childhood memory?
    What aspects of your parent's parenting do you hope to avoid?
    Describe your current relationship with each of your parents.
    What would you change about your spouse?
    Prove your pets aren't rabid.
    What's a common disagreement in your marriage?
    Describe how your in-laws feel about you adoption plans.
    Do you and your spouse feel the same about adoption?
    Prove your septic tank can support an additional person.
    What contact are you expecting with the birth parents?
    What is the racial composition of your neighborhood?
    Provide six letters of reference.
      Now maybe I'm feeling a wee bit sensitive (remember, nobody offered me a sheet to cover up my personal stuff), but when I read through the TWENTY SEVEN separate files of questions and requests and hoops, I want to say three things. 1- I'm not a dog, I don't do tricks. 2- Why do you care? and 3- Stop picking at my scabs.

      That's the best way I can describe the home study... at least for me. It feels like they just want to pick at all of your scabs. Sam doesn't seem to be too offended, but he also doesn't have a rebellious bone in his body. He's a "how high?" type of guy when asked to jump. I'm a "I'm just going to sit here until you tell me why" type of girl. As you can imagine, the home study is hard for me for that reason. But it's also hard because it feels like they're purposefully digging, intentionally trying to stir up trouble. Just let sleeping dogs lie, you know? It feels like one big psychological mind game in which they wait to see who snaps. My life hasn't been perfect (whose has?), but suddenly I feel very judged for that, judged for things that are completely out of my control. Should my childhood, my lack of a current relationship with my father, my infertility, or any of the other mostly healed wounds in my life be reason I'm deemed "not fit to parent"? I want to tell the powers that be I've dealt with my demons... I've spent long, hard hours becoming this semi-self-sufficient, mostly healthy, battle-scarred adult you see before you so just let the demons be, let the wounds continue to heal, sign the papers and send me on my way.

      Please believe me that I do, somewhere, in the very back, far-reaches of my mind know that the home study and and all of these 10,000 flaming hoops are for a reason. I know that our government has all of these restrictions and stipulations in place because there are creepers out there and we need to protect our children from these people. I promise, I do get that. But believe me, my rational brain is sleep deprived and overwhelmed and operating at 10% these days... the part that's left to process this mess is the hormonal, snappy, whiny part that just wants a baby.

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      It's been a hard week around here. Please take a minute to stop by Allison's blog and give her some love. She lost one of her precious daughters yesterday. Please continue to pray for her other daughter who is currently in the NICU. And then, please visit Conceptionally Challenged. Tomorrow marks one year since she lost her precious twin daughters due to PPROM.
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      Just a quick reminder that if you're interested in taking a look around Caroline's online Stella Dot store front, you can use this link. 20% of every purchase will help bring Baby Greavu home.

      Friday, October 3, 2014

      Some Days are Hard

      Some days are just hard. Today is one of those days. Today would have been the due date from our first IVF transfer. I already knew the date before we even got to the beta. I was in no way confident that our IVF cycle would work, we had had too many things go differently than planned during that cycle, but I still just needed to know, "if this works, when would we be due?" The date was engraved in my mind for the two week wait. And then for one, one billionth of a second I was pregnant. Again. Me. The girl who never gets pregnant. Somehow, despite all odds, it happened. A pitiful, little six yes, but it was still there. The date mattered. We knew how things would go before the phone call even ended. This would not be our take home baby. October 3, 2014 would not be our day. We wouldn't write it on the calendar, with hearts and stars and hope. We'd just tuck it away as a day to remember and reflect. A day to reminisce and mourn.

      By the time I returned for another beta on that Monday in January it was over. It was most certainly over before it even began, but it was real. For one brief moment in time, two of our precious babies were placed inside of me. I'm pretty confident that only one implanted.... the numbers were just so low. But for a small window of time, we were connected, that baby and me. I was providing life and he/she was fighting for it. I'm not sure who failed whom... is my body to blame? Or did my sweet baby never have chance? Either way, our time together was important. That little bundle of a few hundred cells was half me and half my husband and all God-breathed.

      Many will wonder where my hope for tomorrow is. Isn't adoption exciting? Aren't we hopeful that our baby is out there? Of course. But the hope for tomorrow doesn't negate the pain of today. We are thrilled about our adoption. We are nervous and excited and overwhelmed to start our home study. We are eager to get started so we can get finished, because the Lord knows this is not a fun process. But our joy and our anticipation for what tomorrow may bring doesn't change the fact that today hurts. Today was the day that life was supposed to enter the world, wailing and crying and furious over the traumatic entry. We had placed months upon months worth of money and hope and prayers into today. Today was the day that IVF was supposed to change our story.

      Tears have been stinging my eyes since they opened this morning. I wanted those babies... both of those babies. They were fiercely and dearly loved. They were meant to be my miracle, my October babies, my last chance to sneak a baby in before my 29th birthday. They were 10,000 hopes and dreams and prayers all centered within those tiny bundles of life. But they are gone and we are here, and we have no answers as to why. So many questions still unanswered. Some days are just hard. Today is one of those days.


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      I also wanted to give a brief update on the adoption. We met with our adoption consultant on Wednesday. Everything went really well. She said she thinks we'll do great, but I'm guessing she says that to everyone. We've got two tasks we're working on right now, and they both feel daunting. The first is our profile book. This is a physical book that will be mailed across the country to various agencies or attorneys so that they can present us to a birth mom. It's supposed to tell the birth mom about us and why we want to adopt... essentially a "pick us" type book. No pressure or anything. The second task is the home study. I completed the application for the home study last night.... not the home study, just the application. I didn't know the answers to half of the questions, so I'm feeling really positive about this process. But on we press and we cling to hope. We've been brought to today for a reason.


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      And one last thing. Caroline over at In Due Time is about the sweetest thing ever... you all know that. She has a HUGE heart and has graciously offered to host an online Stella Dot party as a fundraiser for our adoption. How cool is that?!?! I'm going to attempt to invite everyone this weekend, but in the mean time, consider yourself invited. The party is open until October 31st, so if you're interested click this link. Only eleven weekends until Christmas!

      Tuesday, September 30, 2014

      Far-reaching Tendrils

      Recently, it's hit me just how much my infertility has affected more than just me. For whatever reason, over the past few years I've really focused on me. It's sort of selfish yes, but it's also sort of survival mode. It's bad enough to think about how infertility is ruining your own hopes and dreams, but to expand that and see how it's affecting your spouse, your parents, your in-laws, your siblings... gah, it's just a lot to process. But as Sam and I have talked (and talked) these last few months about adoption, I've really come to see just how much our infertility reaches beyond just our little family into the individual family units of our extended family.

      Take our siblings for example. Sam has two sisters. They have each had two kids. When Sam and I were dating, I imagined them all playing together. Obviously, I knew their kids would be older than our kids, but I didn't know they'd be this much older. My oldest nephew is in high school; it boggles my mind every time I think about it, but it's real. And the youngest two (just a few months apart) are already in second grade! Any baby of ours will be out of his/her league with the cousins. Our baby will be going to kindergarten when our nieces and nephews are in high school and college. They'll be going on dates, driving cars, and leaving home when our baby is learning the ABCs. At Christmas, our child will want to run and play with the "big kids" but the big kids won't want to hang out with the "baby". It's sad for us, sad for our (someday) kid, but I imagine it's also sad for my sisters-in-law. Our infertility affects them and their families too.

      And the grandparents, oh man. Sam's parents and stepparents have quite a few grandchildren. I'm sure they'll be happy to have more, thrilled for us when the time comes, but they aren't lacking in grandchildren in anyway. But my poor mom, bless her heart. She has wanted grandchildren since I was probably ten years old. I don't think she's ever once thought, "you should wait a while to have kids." When my brother told her he was going to have a baby, she lost her mind and went and made a nursery in her own house just for this precious baby. She just knew that it was going to get tons of use, her time had finally arrived, she was going to be a grandmother times a billion. That was three years ago now, and she still just has that one sweet granddaughter to play with in the nursery. The crib still stands there waiting for another baby. It breaks my heart to think of how my infertility has robbed my mom of the job she was made for. She is a fabulous mom, but she was born to be a grandma.

      Infertility has long, far-reaching tendrils; creeping, spiraling, spreading fingers that burrow and reach outside of the primary couple and take root within the extended family. It was always true, but my eyes have been opened to it so much more over the last few months as we've discussed and planned for adoption. I'm not exactly sure why it took the idea of adoption to open my eyes to it, but maybe it's thinking abound bonding and attachment and how the choice to adopt is our choice, but it affects our family too. Sam and I are not the only ones with expectations. We are not the only ones with hopes and dreams. Our infertility and the choices we make directly affect our families. There's not a lot I can do about it, but it's just interesting to think about. Infertility feels so isolating. It's easy to forget that there are others along for the ride with you.

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      For those of you who follow Em at Teach Me to Braid, I'm guessing your Facebook has been blowing up like mine the last few days! Emily is such an incredible writer, I always know when I see a new post by her that it's going to be GOOD. Well, she's done it again, and this time, people are taking notice. It's been so fun to see people all over Georgia share this sweet friend's words that she wrote from half way across the country. Congrats Em! When you're getting your book deal, we will all say "I knew her when..."

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      A quick update on the fundraiser. I've added a widget to the blog so that you can follow along and see how we're doing, if you're interested. As of this morning, we're over 10% of the way their! I've cried and cried and cried over the last week and a half. The kindness and generosity of others has blown me away over and over again. We are so humbled by the selfless, giving hearts of others, many of them strangers. Our YouCaring page is full of messages like this, "I'm a longtime blog reader who is excited to be able to help"... how cool is that? Even if the contributions stopped today, we have already been so blessed!

      Thursday, September 25, 2014

      The End of the Journey

      The comments I've received since we announced our decision to adopt have been nothing but positive. I don't know why, but I was really expecting some push back. I've been so pleased and encouraged by the excitement and enthusiasm from all of our friends. In fact, I'd say that our friends here in Athens have been WAY more excited about the adoption than IVF last winter. All I can say is thank you all times a billion for supporting us and thank you for never, ever, not once asking "why don't you guys adopt?" even if you thought it 10 billion times along the way. The decision to pursue fertility treatments, or adopt, or live child free, or pray and wait, or whatever, it's all intensely personal. Sam and I had to make this decision in our own time when we felt ready, so thank you all for respecting us and our feelings during this journey.

      One comment that I've received in various forms from multiple people is this: "I'm so glad this journey is coming to an end for you guys!" The comment doesn't bother me, but it's really got me thinking. And again, all of this is immensely personal, so what I think and feel about this is most certainly not universal. Other APs (adoptive parents) and PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) who are parenting after infertility may feel completely different. For me, adoption doesn't feel like the end of the journey. I've wrestled with that thought for the last few weeks. Should it? Why doesn't it? Does it mean I'm not invested in adoption as much as I thought? Eventually, I've come to this conclusion: Infertility has affected me in many ways, and the inability to start our family and become parents is only ONE of those ways. There are a lot of other areas besides parenthood that infertility has affected, other areas in which I feel robbed and beaten. So for me, adoption only "solves" part of the problem or "ends" part of our journey.

      Here's an example: Infertility has also prevented me from (thus far) carrying a child. And for me, that's always been a really big part of the pain. I've always imagined myself pregnant. Before I had any clue about infertility, I imagined myself as a stay at home mom with a whole basketball team in the making. I literally wanted  to be the stereotype of barefoot and pregnant. I looked at maternity photo shoots and dreamed of how radiant I would look, how beautiful my bump would be, how perfect everything would be. I've dreamed of feeling my son or daughter kick and twist and dance inside of my womb for years. It is a longing deep in my heart. I have cried more tears over the potential loss of that dream than the potential loss of a genetic connection to my child ten million times over. I can hear some of you thinking, "pregnancy's not all it's cracked up to be". I get that. I fully recognize that I have a rose-colored glasses view of pregnancy and child birth. I know that for many women it sucks. I know you feel anything but radiant, anything but beautiful, and anything but perfect. I know that often times pregnancy makes you feel miserably sick, bloated, exhausted, fat, cranky, ugly and any number of other things. I'm not living under a rock: I know it's not all sunshine and roses. Good grief, for some of you pregnancy is dangerous. I know that has to be terrifying. Believe me, even if I ignore every complaint from every girl on Facebook, I've read enough from my infertile sisters to know that even after wanting it SO bad for SO long, it's not always the dream we hoped for. And I also know this: infertility and miscarriage has robbed my of ever truly enjoying pregnancy. I will be an anxious, sleepless mess as I count down the days until the due date. But, I still believe that in the midst of the anxiety, feeling that first nudge, that kick to tell me my baby is alive and growing, will be worth any stress, anxiety, or worry. I get that pregnancy is not what I imagined, now what I dream of, but here's the thing: I still want it. I want it really, really bad. And adoption doesn't solve that "problem" for me.

      I've been told by countless people that my attitude and opinion of pregnancy and child birth will probably change once I've got my baby in my arms... that the other stuff simply won't matter as much after that. Maybe that will be true. I certainly hope so, but somehow, I doubt it. Don't get me wrong. I will be THRILLED to have my son or daughter. We will love him/her like any other child. We will finally be parents and it will be AWESOME. But every adoption begins with loss (I'm learning that more and more every day). Our son or daughter will have lost the only person he/she has ever known. The baby will be placed in my arms, a stranger's arms, and that baby will know loss. I will know loss too, and so will Sam. We will have gained much through adoption, but we will have lost out on those first 9 months of our child's life. We will have lost out on the doctor's appointments, the ultrasound photos, lounging in bed watching my belly jump, talking to our baby, etc. I sort of feel that I'm in a "wait and see" stage. I don't know how I'll feel about a future pregnancy and my infertility struggles after welcoming our son or daughter home. Maybe everyone will be right, maybe I won't care one bit about the other stuff. It's certainly possible. What I will gain far surpasses what I'll have lost. But maybe I'll still have that desire deep, deep down in my heart that aches for all that I have lost.

      Infertility has also given me a slightly defeatist complex. I won't say this is a trait of all infertile women, not by a long shot. For some, infertility makes them feel strong, empowered, confident. I am definitely the opposite. I feel weak and broken and defeated when I think of myself in terms of infertility. I've given everything I've got and then some, but I have not beaten infertility, at least not yet. Some APs who are parenting after infertility may feel differently. They may feel like they did beat infertility, like their adoption conquered the disease. But for me, when I think about overcoming infertility; when I think about healing from this battle, I think of labor and delivery... that is the moment I will have won. Can I live without beating infertility? Definitely. There is still A LOT of happiness available to us without winning this war. If I didn't think we could live a full, happy life without conquering our infertility, we wouldn't be pursuing adoption. We aren't going into adoption from a defeated stand point. We have much to gain, and if we never feel as if we've overcome infertility, we'll learn to deal with it and be happy with the family we've been blessed to create.

      Don't get me wrong, we are ECSTATIC about the potential to become parents. Parenthood has felt so far and hard for so long. The idea that I might actually sing my child lullabies or rock my baby to sleep, or read my toddler a bed time story... it's almost more than my mind has the potential to process. I've spent so much time trying not to think about those things, it feels foreign (and premature) to even imagine that kind of happiness. But adoption doesn't feel like the end of this journey, at least not for me. Adoption allows us to start our family, and that is HUGE, mind blowing, monumental, bigger than life, but not the end. I still feel inextricably connected to the infertility and TTC community. We're certainly not trying to conceive right now, but I can't imagine never trying again. Infertility is still a HUGE part of my life, and I don't foresee that changing. Yes, lots of things will change if I become a parent through adoption. I'm sure how, and when, and why we move towards additional TTC options will change. It won't just be about us and our desires any longer, it'll be about our family and what is best for our child. But ultimately, I don't see this as an end to my journey. Maybe it is, and I just can't see it, but for now, I'm saying this journey continues on. I'm not done with infertility, and I can guarantee it's not done with me.

      Tuesday, September 23, 2014

      Where We Stand

      Thank you all for the love and support following our adoption announcement! I have literally been BLOWN AWAY by the generosity of others. People I have never met have already donated... how cool is that?!?! People have donated that we haven't seen in years, like from Sam's PT school days or from when I was in undergrad, literally years. The ugly cry was a permanent feature on my face Friday as the donations started to pour in... this is such a humbling process. But maybe we all need that every now in then... to be taken to our knees with thankfulness and reminded to stay down rather than stand back up. I really, really like to stand up. Some might call it stubbornness (I've been called far worse), but I try to view this trait in a more uplifting light. I call it tenacity and perseverance and self-reliance. But ultimately, I just don't like asking for help, so yes, this is humbling indeed.

      I've been getting a lot of questions and comments since we announced the adoption. Most of them, I don't have answers for. I laugh because well, "we are adopting" sounds insane to me. "We are adopting" sounds a lot like "we are pregnant"... it sounds like something is happening. I think I'd naturally say "we are adopting" once we've been  matched with a birth mother and we have a timeline... that scenario feels a lot more real. What I wanted to say was "we are planning to adopt," but that makes for a really lame banner. I imagine adoption for an infertile couple is pretty different, I mean yes, it's the same process, but I imagine if we were adopting in the way we originally planned with three to five kids at home, this would all feel SO different. I imagine there would be a lot of confidence, a lot of hope. People who haven't struggled with infertility often say "if" I get pregnant, while the rest of the world says "when we get pregnant" without much thought. Interestingly enough, I find the old habit remains: I don't say "when we bring our baby home" and "we are adopting" but rather "if " and "might be".

      The prospect of adoption (see, I did it again) has certainly given us hope. It's a feeling I haven't felt since IVF, and I might even have a little bit more hope than I did at the beginning of the IVF cycle, but I definitely don't feel certain. That's a foreign concept that I can no longer hold onto. I mean, we are CERTAIN that we are pursuing adoption, don't get me wrong. Adoption is our top priority right now and we are fully committed to this process. The uncertainty comes from years and years of watching everything I've tried crumble to ash in my hands. I'm praying that our adoption is a smooth journey, but honestly, I won't be surprised if it's fraught with hardship. I say all of that to explain I'm trying not to allow myself to think too far down the road. I'm naturally a dreamer and a planner. Nothing made me happier than to make a five year plan when I was growing up. But now, a five week plan seems next to impossible, so I probably don't have too many answers to your questions, but I'll try.

      A lot of people have been asking "is it a boy or girl?"... this catches me off guard every time. I don't know if she's asking from a "you get to choose, right?" type of perspective or if she thinks we actually have a child matched to us. My response is a blank stare while I try to read the situation and wonder if I've led anyone astray. Let me be really clear, we have not been matched with a child, we have not been chosen by a birth mother, in fact, we haven't even presented ourselves to any birth mothers yet. So we have no clue if our future child will be a boy or girl. Yes, we technically could pick a gender to pursue, but we honestly DO NOT CARE. Sure once upon a time, I had my dreams of three girls and two boys and I knew exactly what order they'd come it... but those days are long gone. Boy or girl, we will be ECSTATIC!  And specifying a gender can often add additional costs and time. So, again, we don't know if we will be adopting a boy or a girl... but rest assured, we'll let you know as soon as humanly possible.

      A second really common question is "when can we bring he/she home?" Again, my mind kicks into overdrive... did I unintentionally lead her to believe the baby is already born? Or does she think we know the due date? Or is she asking how long after the birth before can we come home? It can be a complex question, especially since it could mean so many different things. I'll try to answer as much of this as I can:
      • When is the due date? Again, your guess is as good as mine. :)
      • How long will the adoption take? The simplest answer is that our organization lists 2-12 months as the standard timeline. At this point, we are hoping to bring our baby home within a year. We've been told this is a very realistic expectation, but in all honesty, even 12 months seems mind boggling to me. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that idea... I can hardly imagine ever bringing a baby home at this stage in the game, 12 months seems like the blink of an eye. We've also been told that the process could take as little as 2 months... umm, be still my heart. I've put 9 months in my head (I guess because that's the standard "get ready for baby time") but I'm holding onto that extremely loosely knowing that everything could change in a moment.
      • When can we bring our baby homes? That all depends on the state our birth mother lives in. If it's Georgia, we can come home once the baby is released from the hospital to wait out the 10 days. If it's another state, we'll be required to stay in that state until we've met the requirements of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. So, we could be in Kansas or Texas or Virginia or wherever for 1-2 weeks while all of the paperwork for both states is processed.
      I know many of you have other questions... and I most likely don't have answers. It's an awkward place for me to be as I like to have ALL THE ANSWERS. Hopefully, I'll be able to provide a more thorough update some time next week as we have a meeting with our consultant on Wednesday.