Adoption

New Directions

I had a life plan.

Never mind the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (at least in regards to a career), but by the time I was 15 years old I had a general sense of how I wanted my life to turn out.

I wanted to get married by the time I was 25 years old and have my first child by the age of 27.

And because I had this notion that thirty years was a ginormous age gap between my last child and myself, my goal was to quit “baby-making” by the time I was 30 years old. This notion came from the first hand experience of a 15 year old who not only dealt with a big generational gap but a cultural gap as well.

But yeah; I’d have all the kids I could bring into this world before I turned 30 years old.

Obviously, this life plan never panned out. I mean … geez. I even pushed “actively trying” for that first child into my mid-30’s. We had already gone through all the infertility treatments we could (financially and emotionally) put ourselves through. We had even seriously considered other options to bring a child into our lives; either through domestic adoption or international adoption.

But in the end, Hubby & I made the decision to move on with our lives without children.

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There have been many reasons why Hubby & I decided to close the door on the quest to have children. One of which was to regain some sanity in our lives.

Living in 28-day increments, in which any given moment can produce the tiniest bit of hope, can be exhausting. Especially when the next given moment can quickly turn into a major disappointment. I won’t lie … it has been incredibly nice  to step away from living in four weeks of constantly worrying about whether or not I’ll see two pink lines.

Another reason was obviously to start moving on with our lives; to start planning a “new future” without children.

When that “life plan” I dreamed of at the age of 15 was completely derailed by infertility, I know I spent a lot of time and energy trying get it “back on track” … In other words, I fought tooth and nail not to head down the child-free “railroad track” that my life was already on.

Making the decision to move on with our lives was not an easy decision. But when we finally decided on the child-free path — this “railroad track” (if you will) — it was as if I could finally allow my life to move forward in the direction that my life and our marriage was already on. I could finally stop struggling to get “back on track” and accept that perhaps we were never meant to be on that particular “track” at all.

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A "chance" photo, shot during our trip to Banff,  Alberta

A "chance" shot taken from the road in Banff, Alberta

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Today I turn 38 years old. I’m obviously very far from where I thought I’d be by now; in that “life plan” I concocted at the age of fifteen.

If my life turned out as I planned it to be, I would have had at least one child somewhere between the ages of 7 to 10 years old. And I probably would have begun to think of returning to the work force after being a Stay-At-Home mom once the 7 year old started first grade.

But it’s not … and today I can finally say that I’m actually really okay with it. Maybe it has to do with age, but I’m finally to a point where I no longer have focus on the dream or “life plan” I had always had in my mind.

Instead, I can finally accept that this is where Hubby & I are meant to be at this exact moment in time. And we can forge forward in this new uncharted direction in our lives.

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 2

(If you missed Part 1, click here … )

While I’ve pretty much begun to resolve those particular grief issues, there’s still that lack of strength that I feel I need in order to go through the entire adoption process.  Because it takes someone who really has enough strength to climb over the proverbial brick wall getting in the way of having a child. And specifically, I’m talking about all the rules and reg­u­la­tions and inves­ti­ga­tions into your pri­vate lives just to raise a child that is not bio­log­i­cally your own. Quite frankly, I know that I don’t have what it takes to go through that.

Why do I say that? (And Kelly … hopefully, this will help answer the question you posed to me at one time … ) Well first of all, I just know what I’m capable of handling emotionally, and I know that I wouldn’t be able to survive any further disappointment or heartache. Or as my new favorite quote from Pam says:

It got to the point where the potential for more heartbreak was more overwhelming than the glimmer of very small hope.

The second reason I feel as if I have little strength is because I have little confidence that things will come relatively straightforward and simple to us.

Not that I expect adoption to be an easy path. If we did decide to adopt, I have this very strong suspicion that we’d have so many more walls to climb. Give me a chance to explain … and I’d absolutely love to hear what others have to say to contribute to this discussion.

Let’s start off with Domestic Adoption:

  • Hubby & I both Asian American; Filipino American, to be specific.
  • How often do you suppose any Potential Birth Moms (PBM) would look at our dossier and — just by looks alone — think that we’d make great parents when their child will (most likely) not look at all similar to the adoptive couple that they’d hope to raise their child?
  • Or that the PBM might worry that their child would face more barriers having Asian American parents?
  • How often are Asian American babies given up for adoption; especially if the PBM is also Asian or Asian American? Culture dictates that family is important. If the child is not wanted in the immediate family; chances are that there is another family member (aunt, cousin, third uncle twice removed) that is willing to raise the child. Unfortunately, that’s a situation that’s likely never going to happen to us.

Moving onto International Adoption:

  • There are stricter laws and regulations from various countries in effect.
  • Some specific countries, like Russia and Guatemala, have either suspended or have placed holds on any adoptions to the US.
  • Wait time. Even for Filipino adoptions there are certain stipulations on how and when a child can be adopted; when the child can come back to the US with the adopted parents. And quite frankly, I don’t think I can afford the three-year wait in order to adopt a child from my native country.

And finally other, all-encompassing barriers:

  • Age: Let’s face it. Hubby & I are currently pushing 40. And yes, I know that there are couples out there that are raising babies that are much older than us. But there was a reason why Hubby & I started trying to conceive within a year of marriage: I had always seen me as a younger mother; one that wanted to finish having babies before the age of 30. There was a specific reason behind that: my mother and I are exactly 3o years apart in age (sorry Mom!). Growing up (particularly in high school), not only did I deal with a cultural barrier, but I also dealt with a huge generational gap. Both my parents were pre-baby boomer, while I was most definitely a Gen-Xer. Even though after I turned 30, I knew that this was something beyond my control, adopting now — especially as the rules and regs of adoption have gotten more strict — well, it no longer seems prudent for both Hubby & my sake.
  • Energy: Along with age, this is the second biggest concern that I have. And, if I was honest with myself, the flimsiest barrier of all. Because, really this has to do with energy and stamina. It’s one thing to raise a child with the thought in mind that you’ll be young enough to (somewhat) keep up with their needs. It’s quite another thing knowing that I can no longer wake myself up in the morning without hitting the snooze button a dozen times. Would I be able to care for another life if I can barely care for my own? Like I said, flimsy … but I’m just being honest.

I don’t bring up these points to be negative in any way, shape or form. I’m simply stating facts that appear to be the most obvious barriers for our individual case when it comes to adopting a child. And that’s assuming that we would ever go down that route. And, as I said above, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I perceive as barriers.

*****

As it is, I feel that we’ve already played our game of Infertility Roulette. We’ve already placed all the bets we wanted to at this time in our lives. And we lost that bet. With adoption (or h*ll, even if we ever decided to go through IVF again), I want something I can be sure of … something I can count on.

I hesitate using the word “guarantee” … since nothing in life is ever guaranteed, but after more than ten years of fighting the odds and now facing even greater odds against us (age, finances, etc), Hubby & I opted to get out of the betting pool.

And this is why, at least in my eyes, it’s never as simple to “just adopt.” It’s never easy to go through another round of IVF.

This is why Hubby & I have decided to “cut our loss” … or in this case, “cut the strings” … and live child-free after infertility.

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Related Links:

Cutting The Strings

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 1

Thoughts on Adoption

Information on Filipino Adoptions

Wiki Info on the Pre-Baby Boom Generation

Wiki Info on Generation X

Infertility Bets On Hold, Part 1

(I guess I need to start off by saying, no … things have definitely not changed in my barren world. And don’t let the title of this post fool you. Apparently I may have “freaked” a couple people out by both the title and the picture below … LOL!)

I’m not a betting person. Which, when you think of the many trips Hubby & I have taken to Vegas, is quite humorous. All those casinos, and the most we played were slots.

I mean, I’ve played poker and blackjack in my college years; but seriously, all bets were based on pennies. Or cigarettes, depending on who you were playing with (<cough> Tim <cough>). But to place actual money that’s more than a dollar (okay, maybe $2 max for a slot machine)? Can’t see myself spending that kind of money.

My odds with these tests were never good

Which, given the odds that Hubby & I were given when we did our one cycle of IVF, makes it ironic. We were given a 51% chance that we’d be successful in our pursuit to become pregnant. We knew the odds were only 1% more on our favor. We had hoped to win this bet — a bet in which we put a boatload of money into the pot — and we lost. And I was devastated.

That’s not to say that I regret ever having done our one cycle of IVF. Because even back then I knew that this was something Hubby & I had to try in order to feel as if we tried everything in our quest to reproduce. I’m just simply saying that the results of that bet, that one IVF cycle, was enough for me to know that I could never place another bet on another IVF cycle ever again.

So yes … the next logical step would be to go for adoption, right?

Except adoption isn’t a simple thing to just “think about.” First, there’s the process of grieving the fact that I can’t have a baby. That alone is nothing simple. That process involves never being able to experience pregnancy. In my case, it involved never being able to see two pink lines in a pregnancy test.  And it involves feeling as if my body’s failed, not only me and my Hubby (especially my husband), but our parents and our siblings. And our siblings children, too.

Then there’s the other part that I needed to grieve; which is outlined in more detail in this recent post. It’s grieving the fact that we will never be able to have our own biological baby.  A child that we could pass our genes to. A child to pass the Filipino traditions we were taught growing up; and finding a way to blend both our American and Filipino sides together. A child to carry on my Hubby’s last name.

And while I’ve pretty much begun to resolve those grief issues, there’s still that lack of strength that I feel I need in order to go through the entire adoption process.  Because it takes someone who really has enough strength to climb over the proverbial brick wall getting in the way of having a child. And specifically, I’m talking about all the rules and reg­u­la­tions and inves­ti­ga­tions into your pri­vate lives just to raise a child that is not bio­log­i­cally your own. Quite frankly, I know that I don’t have what it takes to go through that.

(Part Two continues tomorrow … )

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Related Links:

Thoughts on Adoption

Baby Picture

Identity Labels

Anybody remember the old-school Dymo label-makers? I’m not talking about the fancy electric ones where you can type in whatever you want before printing it up. I’m talking about the ones where you turn the dial to choose the letter and squeeze the handle (as hard as possible) to imprint it on the red or black vinyl tape. And G*d forbid if you misspelled a word and have to start from the beginning.

For some reason I was thinking about that label-maker this past weekend. And really, it started last week when I received a wonderful email from an old High School Friend (HSF) that I hadn’t heard from in years. She had responded via Facebook in regards to the post in which I admittedly found myself questioning my purpose in life.

HSF talked about how, as women, we are always questioning ourselves about what we truly want in life. That we’re always finding a way to label ourselves while simultaneously trying to achieve more than what we can physically and emotionally handle. And that, in the process, we tend to lose perspective of who we really are in the grand scheme of things.

For HSF, it’s a matter of juggling multiple identities. She’s a wife, a daughter, a mother of three (beautiful) children. She’s also a free-lancer, a founding president of one of her alma mater’s alumni groups. Yet as beautiful as her life appears (especially from perusing through Facebook), she admits that she’s still coming to terms with the “Successful Career Woman” label; especially as she’s currently staying at home to with her three young kids.

The point of HSF’s email was not to point out how much different her life was to mine; rather it was simply to point out that regardless of how we view our lives, we only limit ourselves by placing labels on who we are or what we do. And furthermore, why can’t we just enjoy the path that we’re currently on and embrace who we are while traveling down this path?

I must admit, I’m still struggling to deal with the valid points that HSF has brought up. I’m sure it has to do a lot with the many years of believing that “Motherhood” was the end-all be-all for a woman’s livelihood. (I contribute this, as always, to the strong Filipino cultural influence that I identify with.) And, even though I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t have biological children of my own, I still long for something to fill that void that Infertility has robbed me.

Furthermore, with my recent unemployment situation, I feel as though I’ve been stripped yet another label that I’ve identified myself with. That “successful career woman” identity flew out the window the day I found myself surreptitiously without a job.

And really … that’s what this post was trying to explain.

While I’d love to “give up” those labels that I’ve placed on myself, I also must admit that it’s these labels that I’ve come to rely on to “ground” myself, so to speak, when I’ve otherwise felt lost. It’s these labels that help remind me of who *I* am in the face of uncertainty:

  • I’m a Wife.
  • I’m an only Daughter.
  • I’m a Sister to my Brother.
  • I’m a friend.
  • I’m Filipino-American (1st generation).
  • I’m Catholic.
  • I’m a nurse.
  • I’m a writer.
  • I’m infertile.
  • I’m child-free after infertility.

When looking at who I am; what I believe is the center of my core … it’s pretty obvious that there are those identities that I have no control over. These are the identities that have been imprinted on my soul; the ones that I cannot change. The ones that I’ve grown to accept as part of who I am in this life.

Then there are the labels I’ve chosen for myself (Catholic, nurse, writer, friend). Those are the identities that, despite the years of time and investment I put into them, I can readily let go. But do I really want to do that?

The problem, as I see it, is when one of these identities has been lost; especially at a time where I wasn’t ready to a) let go of that identity, or b) accept that identity for what it is.

Take for instance, the part of myself that identifies with being infertile. This was one label I never expected to own. But the fact of the matter is that after one year of trying to conceive (waaaay back when, it seems), we were unable to get pregnant. By definition, infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive. That’s a fact. There’s no way I can change that pat of me; there’s no way I have control over that situation.

But take the part of me that identifies with being child-free after infertility. We tried everything that we could possibly do (within our own capabilities both financially and emotionally) to give ourselves a biological child, but that just never happened. And because we thought long and hard about our other options, Hubby & I chose to accept that living child-free was what was best for me. And believe me … it was not an easy choice to make.

And because, she nails it right on the head … here’s how Pam from Silent Sorority recently described the reason why she and her husband chose the child-free path:

“It got to the point where the potential heartbreak was actually more overwhelming than the glimmer of very small hope.”

In any case, my point is that with our decision to live child-free, I dealt with having to let go of one chosen identity and accept a new chosen identity. I had to let go of that identity of motherhood that I held on for so long. and I had to accept that living without children, despite the incredible longing to have a biological child of our own, was my new identity.

As I said before, the decision to live child-free wasn’t a choice that we wanted to make. It’s not that we didn’t discuss opening our hearts to adoption. Or opening our wallets to more infertility treatments. Simply put, identifying ourselves as living child-free was a choice that we had to make. Hubby & I needed to weigh our options to decide if that the small glimmer of hope was worth the insurmountable heartbreak we’d already been through. Hubby & I needed to make this decision so we (or rather *I*) could maintain my sanity.

Because if I didn’t put that label on me, I’d still be struggling to determine who I was … if I couldn’t be the mother I had always dreamed about.

And of course now … my new identity crisis is to determine what to do with my career. But I will take a page out of HSF’s book and learn to enjoy the journey while I discover what’s next.

How about you, Blog World? What parts of yourself keep you grounded? What labels do you place on yourself? How do you identify yourself?

Thoughts on Adoption

Today, an article appeared on the New York Times regarding Russia’s decision to suspend adoptions to the U.S.

More Pics from Kairi's visit

The reason that Russia called for a halt on all adoptions of Russian children by Americans, in my opinion, was justified. I do believe that there needs to be further investigation from both sides of the ocean (or Bering Strait, I suppose).

As one half of an infertile couple, who at one time seriously considered adoption as a method to start our family, what this adoptive mother did was simply outrageous.  And furthermore, her actions have now affected any other potential adoptive parent who have invested much time, money and emotions in adopting a Russian child. This woman effectively shattered many dreams of many people.

Simply put, this breaks my heart.

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Speaking of dreams … During our engagement, Hubby & I had multiple discussions about how our future would be. We dreamed of owning a house big enough for at least 4 kids with a yard big enough for the dog we would own. We dreamed about how great our careers would be and how we would somehow manage to balance work life and home life.

And we dreamed about how incredible it would be to raise our children; how we would help our children find that balance between being American and being Filipino. We would make sure that they could be proud about their heritage and still be able to embrace the environment in which they lived.

Tyler at the Lego Store in Downtown Chicago

After all, Hubby and I were half- and first-generation** Filipino-Americans. We knew, first hand, the struggles of growing up with half our feet steeped in Filipino traditions and the other half finding a way to assimilate into the Western culture. This was especially evident when we were teenagers growing up in the ’80’s.

I mean seriously … Hubby & I have joked around about how we learned about typical American Teenager behavior from watching John Hughes (RIP … ) movies. In reality, that’s  actually not that far from the truth.

But I digress.

Another one of our dreams as an engaged couple looking towards our bright future had always been about adoption. Yes … adoption.

We had always dreamed about opening our hearts and home to other children who might not have been given the same love and opportunities and life that we had. Specifically we looked into adopting internationally, because we wanted to help a child with transitioning into the American culture much like we had while growing up. We wanted these children to embrace their new environment while being proud of where they were born. Much like we were.***  Err … rather are.

However, in that foggy crystal ball version of our future, adoption was something that Hubby & I planned to do after we had children of our own. After we were able to produce offspring that contained both of our DNA.

Kairi loves her Big Brother

Kairi loves her big brother ...

Call us selfish, but we just really wanted to see our genetic traits in a biological child and then be able to raise a child through adoption. This child might not share the same genes as us, but would share the same love and warmth and upbringing as our biological children. And for me personally, it was a chance for me to see Nature vs. Nurture at its best.

Unfortunately we never did get to see that nature part. At all. And if I was a strong enough person, I might have been able to see the nurture part. At least with raising a child.

******

I applaud anyone who has sought to adopt as a means to start or add to their family.

It takes an incredibly strong and capable person to be able to put themselves through all the rules and regulations and investigations into your private lives just to raise a child that is not biologically your own. I know this from reading other IFer’s blogs about adoption and from talking to adoptive parents about their own experiences. From going to adoption agencies to gather information on our own.

... And Tyler loves his baby sister

Reading about Russia today also reminds me about other countries such as China and Guatemala that have also placed restrictions on potential adoptive parents from the U.S. And it’s because I know how long most of these individuals have been waiting for their chance to raise an internationally adopted  child. For those who have faced infertility, it’s the chance to raise any child.

And if I had enough strength, adopting internationally would have been my chance in passing a little bit of myself … that bit about being proud of my heritage while embracing the uncharted territories of being a first-generation immigrant … to my adoptive child.

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** Hubby was born in the Philippines and migrated to the U.S. at the age of five; effectively making him a “half-generation” immigrant. Of course, depending on what version of immigrant generations you go with, Hubby & I can be seen as 1.5- and second-generation immigrants. At least that’s what Wiki says … )

*** Well … okay, so I was born in the U.S. … but hopefully you understand what I mean.

Cutting The Strings

Click on the jug for other 2009 submissions

This post has been a long time in coming. Truthfully, this should have been written a few months ago. However, between preparations for the audit at work and having just recently had the conversation with Hubby a week ago, the timing just didn’t seem right.

A year ago earlier this month, I was in Chicago interviewing for the position that I now hold. The very same one that has given me much stress and headaches over the past 11 months. The same one that has made me realize exactly how strong I really can be … without the hormonal emotions getting in the way.

I specifically mention the “hormonal emotions” for a reason. That’s because when I look back during those active “baby-trying” years , I can now see how much strength I needed in order to get me through that period.

Except I can honestly say that I never feel that I was strong at all during that time period. I felt as I was living day-to-day, hoping that somehow I would catch a break from all the “hard work” I was putting into starting my family.

Whereas with the “challenges” I faced this past year … well, they didn’t feel like a day-to-day struggle. There was always an end in site for each new challenge I faced. From the very beginning of “Operation: Move to Chicago,” there was a goal in mind that was achievable:

  •  
    • Find an apartment; check.
    • Start new job; check.
    • Survive living alone in new city for three months with seeing Hubby only on the weekends; check.
    • Get through six months at new job without being fired from “My way or the highway” boss; check.
    • Live through high profile work audit with dignity intact; check.

Everything I faced since moving here was (relatively) successful; with that bright light guiding me to the end of a dark tunnel.

Unfortunately that same bright light was never there when facing the darkness that is infertility.  And, in my case, definitely not successful … at least in the way that I defined success.

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There’s this memory I have from back in my high school years. It’s back when Disney began to start re-releasing classic movies on VHS tapes. The idea was so that a person could own these movies before they were put back into the “vault” of classic Disney animation.

My mother totally bought into that smart marketing ploy. In fact, she bought many videos including The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and … if I can recall, Sleeping Beauty. AND she wouldn’t even open them; storing them away in her dresser, in her own personal “vault.”

“Not fair,” I remember telling her. Especially since I loved Ariel and Belle. “Couldn’t we just open them up and watch them once?”

“No,” she had told me. She was saving them for her future grandchildren. So that she can sit down and watch these movies with them, whenever they came over to visit.

This memory, as inconsequential as it may seem to others, is one that cuts me incredibly deep. It’s a reminder of how I’ve failed to fulfill my parents’ dream of becoming grandparents.

Never mind that I already felt horribly bad that my body was not able to give my husband a child of his own. This specific memory reminds me that I’ve probably disappointed my parents as well. That I haven’t been able to give them the grandchildren that they’ve always wanted.

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I’ll be honest that one of the many reasons Hubby & I moved to Chicago was start fresh. There had been way too much emotional Infertility baggage that I had been carrying around for years. And although I had been working very hard at purging that baggage, I could never fully put it away … at least into a place within me that could make things manageable.

So putting some physical distance between myself and the baggage (which held waaay too many memories of hurt and disappointment), as well as the physical location where most of these memories occurred, was something I felt I needed to do.

And it’s with the blessing of my very supportive husband that we found ourselves moving out-of-state; away from the only “home” I had ever known.  All this is in effort to be exposed to new people and to be open to new challenges. To have a fresh outlook on where Hubby & I stand in our quest to have a family.

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Next October will be my 20th High School Reunion. Part of me is interested in seeing where everyone is at in this stage of life; to see how far they’ve come since we were teenagers. Then there’s the rebel in me that thinks, “Pshaw … HS Reunions are so ‘Peggy Sue Got Married’! We must break this cycle at once!”

And then there’s the Infertile (with a capital “I”) in me. The one with no children. The one with nothing exciting to show for my life over the past 20 years, other than a degree (only undergrad, to boot!) and a good job. I’ve no kids to brag about; I’ve no incredible 3,000 square foot house to talk about. All I have is a decent walk-up apartment in the city and fur children that shed hair all over the place, including my clothes.

At least I have an incredible husband who I can show off and brag about.

As it is, I’m still debating on whether I want to go or not. However, what I do know is that a bunch of the HS friends that I still keep in touch with, will be planning a more low-key get-together some time next year. That should, at the very least, be a “milestone” something to look forward to next year.

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I’ve had the pleasure of (finally) seeing my new family physician, not once but twice in the past few months. One was the quick one-over, “Hi, nice to meet you” -type of visit. The second was my yearly female parts check-up.

Both times my physician asked me if I was interested in pursuing further treatment for my infertility. And both times, I told my physician I still wasn’t ready to make that decision. I was in the midst of still adjusting to my new job in a new city.

And I needed more time to separate want vs. need, hope for the future vs. more disappointment, treatment vs. acceptance.

Let me say it’s extremely strange to go from living in one State where In vitro Fertilization (IVF) is not covered, to currently living in a State where it now is. To now have that option to choose what course of treatment that Hubby & I would like to pursue in creating our family.

For those that don’t know, infertility treatments are sometimes not covered by health insurance in certain States. There may be some aspects of treatments that are covered (such as the work-up and, at times, the medications), but for the most part infertility treatments — and specifically IVF is not.

The Infertile RN in me thinks it’s utterly cruel to allow coverage for the work-up of the infertility diagnosis and then turn around and not cover the treatment for it. Even though IVF is not a “guarantee” that one would be successful in starting a family, there’s still that little bit of chance that it becomes successful in “curing” that person’s infertility.

I relate it to treatment for cancer. Much like chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy is considered standard treatment for a person with such a condition … it’s never a “100% guarantee” that the cancer would be “cured” or go into remission.

It’s that double-standard in treatment of a health condition that bothers me the most about the lack of coverage in IVF treatments. Because, quite frankly … the RN Case Manager in me (the one who works for a health insurance company) strongly believes that people have the right to choose how they would like to pursue treatment and have the Health Insurance that I pay for assist in coverage for that treatment.

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This January, it will be a year since I’ve lived in Chicago. And April will mark the official date that Hubby & I will have lived together in this bright new city (well, new to us anyway).

During this past year, Hubby & I have had a chance to open our hearts and minds to different possibilities. We’ve had the opportunity to accept where we’re at when it came to reassessing our options in creating our family.

We’ve talked about IVF and the impact it may have emotionally for me … Both if it wasn’t successful and if it actually was. But even though we know the option of IVF is available to us in the fine State of Illinois, both of us have decided not to pursue that route.

We’ve also had the opportunity to discuss adoption more in depth. To decide if this was the right path for us to take. And the more we thought about it, the more we decided that this was also something we wouldn’t be a 100% comfortable with. (Okay, I admit it. It’s me. I’m the one who fears that I’ll just end up being disappointed again. And I fear that I’d get stuck down that rabbit hole of darkness once again.)

So what does this all mean? Well, readers. It means that Hubby & I have accepted that having children at this moment is not in our best interest. It means, that we have accepted the fact that we may never have children. (Okay, maybe it’s more like *I* accepted this fact, because Hubby was light years ahead of me in this thought.)

This means that we’ve consciously and deliberately have made the choice to begin living life child-free.

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It’s taken me more than 12 years, but I think I’ve finally reached some closure in my infertility journey.

Yet even as one door has closed in my life, I’m still learning to live with the reality of this decision. My infertility is no longer a daily struggle, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have those “moments.”

And those “moments” are the reason I choose to continue writing on this blog. Except now, instead of this blog being about the longing to have a children, it will be about trying to let go of this longing. About learning to look forward to my new future with Hubby. The new journey we’ll be taking together.

It’s about trying to break free from these Apron Strings.

NIAW 2009, Pt III

(This is Part Three of a six-day series to celebrate NIAW. I’d say it’s because I “planned” it that way … but the truth is, the series started out as one extremely looong post. To start at the beginning, click here.)

273Again, not every couple who are unable to create and sustain a life will remain childless. There are those couples in this category that will end up opening their hearts to adoption. And to me, those infertile couples are simply incredible.

They’re brave enough to pursue the long and tedious adoption process. A process that includes all the legal matters and invasion into the couples’ private lives as to whether their home and their lifestyle is “safe” enough to care for a child. A concept that, quite frankly, can be unnerving as this questions a couple (who has been struggling to have a family) whether or not they are capable of being a parent.

Those pursuing adoption are also strong enough to face every emotion — all the anxiety — involved in the adoption process head on. Placement of a child (whether domestic or international) and the absolute fear of the unknown would be enough to throw any “normal” person into anxiety overdrive:

Will there be issues with the adoption country?

Will the birth parent(s) change his/her mind?

Will the child love me?

Will I be able to love the child as if he/she is my own?

Am I a good enough in the government’s eyes to be considered capable of raising a child?

Will I be deemed unfit as a parent?

Will the child be taken away from me?

Imagine facing those thoughts every day. In my opinion, going through adoption adds a whole new layer of complexity to infertility. And I am in absolute awe in which these couples who choose this path show such grace and compassion …

I only wish I had even a portion of such brevity, strength, grace and compassion that these people do.

(Yep. There will be more of this … tomorrow.)

NIAW 2009, Pt II

(This is the second part of a six-day series to celebrate NIAW. I’d say it’s because I “planned” it that way … but the truth is, the series started out as one extremely looong post. To start at the beginning, click here)

273And then there’s the biggest loss of all. Let me preface this by saying that not everyone experiencing infertility will end up in this category of loss. Because some will be successful with their pursuit in creating a child from within themselves. For some, it may be the creation of a biological child of their own. For others, it could be a successful pregnancy created from either donor egg, donor sperm, donor embryo, and even donor uterus. In any case, these are couples who have spent more than enough months in disappointment … and not to mention more than enough money on various medications and/or procedures.

In any case … for those others, like myself, that were not successful in their pursuit, they must deal with the ultimate loss — the inability to create a life out of one’s own being. For some couples, it could be the loss of a pregnancy; a miscarriage after having been able to create a life but unable to carry their baby to term. For every couple unable to achieve and/or maintain a pregnancy, it’s the loss of the ability to pass on a piece of yourself or your partner’s self onto another living and breathing person. To see your facial features on a child you created. To see your partner’s mannerisms in another living being. To know that you have continued on your lineage; contributed to the “Circle of Life.” Those things … and much much more are tremendously huge losses that will take more than the span of your own lifetime to mourn.

Some women feel the loss of the ability to experience a life grow inside of herself; to carry a child in her womb until that baby is ready to enter the world. For other women, it’s knowing that they will finally be able to nurture this child and bring him/her up in the manner that they’ve always dreamed about. And for others still (like myself), a combination of the two …

(More ramblings … tomorrow.)

Two Dolla' No Holla'

8bt“Two Dollars! I want my two dollars!”

I love that movie. “Better Off Dead” is one of those classic John Cusa.ck films from the ‘80’s that remind me of many-a-slumber parties. (You know, back when the other girls were fixing their hair and putting on make-up while I sat in my sleeping bag clearly just watching rental video after rental video …) I loved the Asian guys that pretended to be that sportscaster from Wide World O’Sports (hey, it’s St. Paddy’s Day … gotta get my O’ on. 🙂 ). And I love how Lane’s mom tried to cook her “Fraunch” dinner for the cute little exchange student that Lane should have noticed much sooner. Oh, and I loved the fact that they used a little Howa.rd Jo.nes on their soundtrack as well.

In any case, my mind sometimes (oh, who am I kidding … always) works in strange “tangential thinking” ways. I started off by thinking, “Two Years, Wow!” and obviously ended up thinking of a newspaper boy on a bike trying to collect his money.

G*d … does anyone else remember the days of neighborhood kids being the newspaper deliverer and collector of payments?! Now it’s always an adult that pulls up in a car … chucks the paper out their car window where one hopes it lands on the doorstep … and then it’s the newspaper that actually hounds you by phone for their twenty dollars or more.

Oh geez … see what I mean? Tangential thinking.

See the whole point of this post was to reflect how it’s been two years today since I started this blog. And what started out as wanting to express something in a journal entry somehow ended up here in the blogiverse.

2yrI remember clearly sitting in a café in A2 while Hubby and his BIL (my SIL’s Hubby of less than a year at the time) went off to do their comic/gaming thing. I was still struggling with the news of my SIL’s pregnancy and found myself slowly losing grip on my sanity. I knew, after a few months of counseling, that I had to find a way to deal with all these repressed emotions. Except besides this counselor and my husband, I didn’t know anyone else I could talk to about these feelings of anger and jealousy … and the subsequent guilt that always seemed to follow those emotions.

I felt that somehow no one else could understand what I was going through. I believed that everyone I had previously talked to about these things thought I was nuts to be “obsessing” about how unfair it was that I couldn’t produce a child. And I remember thinking how it seemed as if everyone was moving forward in their lives; starting their families, achieving new milestones, etc … all while Hubby & I remained left behind, unable to move forward.

It didn’t help that March was an anniversary month for Hubby and me. It would be the month that so many years ago, we received the news of our one and only failed IVF attempt. And for the life of me, today I can’t even recall the number of years it’s been since then. (What does that say about where I’m at today?!) But two years ago, those emotions … that feeling of lost was still as deep and painful as it was when we first received that devastating news.

In a single sentence … two years ago today, I was a wreck. And writing about how I felt seemed to be the only way to articulate such complicated emotions. And so hence, Apron Strings for Emily was born.

So where am I at today? Well … writing about my journey has certainly had some impact on my life. Both good and bad … and sometimes just downright ugly.

gobaugTHE UGLY: My relationship, though better since moving, is still a bit strained with my SIL. The distance has definitely proved to be a good thing though. But this, of course, is at the sacrifice of not being able to see my nephew and my 6 month old niece as often as I’d like. Despite all this, my instincts (which tend to be spot on quite often) tell me that all this heartbreak will eventually pass in time. Perhaps one day our lives will once again be back “in sync” with one another like it was so many eons ago. And perhaps it won’t. But either way, only time will help mend all the broken layers of skin that this deep deep wound (as in “Stage IV Decubitus Ulcer”) has caused.

In any case, we’ll be seeing them next month for sure though … as they make the trip to visit us in our new digs. And I seriously can’t wait!!

THE BAD: Uhm … the obvious one is that Hubby and I are still without kids of our own. This also means that I haven’t been able to provide grandchildren to our parents, nieces or nephews to our siblings, or cousins to our nephew and niece. It still eats at me … at least once a month, during those incredible waves of emotions I get (Thank you, wacky hormones!) …but at least it isn’t every day like it was for years and years (and years and years).

THE GOOD: I’ve found out that, contrary to my psychotic (as opposed to psychic) beliefs, I am not necessarily alone in this infertility journey. I’ve found the incredibly wonderful and much needed support I’ve been looking forthanks to all of you readers and commenters.

Also, I’ve finally decided (just recently within the past 6 months) that my life no longer has to revolve around my inability to have children of my own and have decided to focus on other parts of my life. This means I can finally move onto deciding whether adoption should be our next step. OR if accepting child-free living is the path to take.

goalBut the best part of this point in my life is this: After years and years of holding all my anger and sadness inside, I’ve finally found my voice … and the medium in which to express this voice. For someone who has been used to (and quite frankly brought up to) stifling any bad feelings aside, well that’s … Just. Simply. Incredible.

And just like a yearly “work performance” eval … not only do I have to summarize all that has happened in the past year … I should also be thinking towards the coming year. SO … what exactly are my goals for the next year?

  • Work on above relationship with SIL. I’m still thinking time and distance for now is a good thing. Perhaps my thoughts will change over the course of the year.
    .
  • Continue to more forward. I need to remember to take steps by putting one foot in front of the other, and make an effort not to take any steps back. I need to build a momentum to keep me moving in a positive direction … whatever direction that might be. (Adoption? Child-free living? Focus on career and ultimate dream of moving out to the west coast?) But I do need to remember to keep moving, otherwise I could find myself stuck in the present (or the past) and in another “rut.”
    .
  • Leave the past in the past. This specifically means that I need to focus on not looking back at the negative. And if I do look back, it’s only to realize how much stronger I am because of what I’ve been through.
    .
  • In that same sense, I need to not concentrate on any negative thoughts. Focusing on any negativity is going to get me into those “What if?” situations that will also keep me in that same “rut.”
    .
  • Continue to blog. This … this is my (free) therapy. It’s one of the few ways I can openly and honestly talk about how I’m feeling. And it’s a way for me to work through these complicated emotions of anger and loss. Otherwise, I’d be back to where I started. And as I look back on my very first post and realize how much I talked almost all in “riddles” and metaphors … and how I couldn’t even write the word “Infertility” in that first post … It’s then that I realize just how far I’ve come.

voiceAnd finally, before I wrap up this extremely long post, I want to thank all of you for allowing me to work (and continue to work) through all of my concerns. And thank you for faithfully reading all about them.

Because, really? What’s the point of finding my voice if I didn’t have you … my readers, my friends and my family … to listen to (or in this case, read about) it?

Oh, and because today is St. Patty’s Day … I also wish all of you the Luck O’ The Irish!!

luckee

Handprint On My Heart

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my manager’s office. Not surprising, considering I spend a lot of my time in shared meetings with her over the phone with various vendors. And because my manager’s the one with a door to her office …

Anyway, I truly respect and like my manager. I’ve learned in my past experiences that it’s good to have a leader that fits in with your personality. In other words, we don’t want to be so much alike that we can’t see or think outside of our own respective boxes. But you also don’t want to be so different in personalities that we’d clash over anything and everything.

29180c2198a7b813ae2da6ecb62aa19bLucky for me; I think I might have struck a nice balance with my current manager. Of course I thought the same thing with my last manager, and we all know how that turned out. But in my defense, when I was a supervisor working directly under my ex-manager … we did have a little more of a rapport with each other. It’s only after I stepped down as supervisor to become a worker bee (all for the sake of “reducing stress” as I headed into the wonderful world of IVF, BTW …) that the issues came about. And even then, it was years in the making (including major changes in the overall department and/or personal issues for the both of us) before things took a turn for the worse.

New manager (NM) pushes me in directions I had never gone before and she’s tested my strength as a leader for my team. But in a totally good way. She’s the go-getter; the snap decision maker. I’m also a go-getter; but tend to be more deliberative and analytical. I slow her down enough to think things through; she speeds me up to get me where I need to be. I just hope that this relationship continues to grow and flourish through the years.

heart_handprint_craft_impressionBut this wasn’t the main reason I’m writing today. (Although now is a good time, if ever.) Today as I sat in yet another telephone meeting, I sat there and played with some of the toys she leaves on her desk for us to fiddle around with whenever we talk.*

Next to the mini Zen garden (that her husband gave her to help “relax” … LOL!) is a ceramic piece that her daughter made for her when she was 5 years old. It’s this tiny glazed hand that has little hearts and butterflies on its fingers and her name written on the palm. And every time I sit in that office, I can’t help but put my hand over the little glazed hand. Because: 1) It is. Simply. Adorable. And 2) the texture of the glaze just has this soothing quality to it.

I’m not sure what it was about today. But the thought that I might never be able to hold the small hand of my own child hit me square in the chest. And just like that, I was back to longing for my imaginary child.

Which is crazy, in my mind. Because I know that right now just isn’t the right timing to “go forth and procreate.” Or in my case, move forward with adoption. H*ll, I’m not even sure if I want to pursue the adoption path. Because, quite frankly I’ve been so much more comfortable with the idea of child-free living lately.

mc_3lgAnd yes, I’m sure it’s because of the major changes I’ve made over the past six months. (Has it been that long since the last lowest** point in my IF journey?!) I simply don’t have the time. And I simply don’t have the energy to want to feel as miserable as I did back then. Nor do I have the energy to struggle to break the surface if I ever get that low again.

I’m happy where I’m at right now in my life (although, having Hubby here would make it tons better). I’m happy with my “second chance” to make a “life” out of my life.

It might not be the kind of “life” I dreamed of (creating a baby’s life, being a mother, for example) … but still, it’s my life. The life I chose to move forward with; the one that I have some control over.

So why do I still have these longings? Why does my dream of being a parent still cling to me?

This feeling … this longing, it evokes the same emotions I have whenever I hear this one song from the musical, Wicked:

It well may be that we will never meet again
In this lifetime, so let me say before we part
So much of me is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart

— “For Good”

And although the song is referring to the tragic ending of a friendship, I can’t help but substitute the “friend” for the child I may never have. And what I’ve learned from the heartache of my infertility is so much of who I am as a person today.

But despite all that I’ve learned and all that I’ve become … there is this part of me — will always be this part of me — that will have the handprint of my child, whether imaginary or real, on my heart.

2445108555_e85826998d_b

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

* Studies have shown that people tend to be more creative and think clearer when keeping your hands busy. Thus, having simple toys such as koosh balls or even rubber bands in your office (in my case, cubicle) is a good thing.

** As always, if you’re curious … comment below and I’ll email you the password.

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