Perhaps the greatest myth surrounds pregnancy. Many believe the uterus is simply an incubator. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most important aspect of all pregnancies- including egg donation pregnancies- is that as the fetus grows, every cell in the developing body is built out of the pregnant mother’s body. Tissue from her uterine lining will contribute to the formation of the placenta, which will link her and her child. The fetus will use her body’s protein, then she will replace it. The fetus uses her sugars, calcium, nitrates, and fluids, and she will replace them. So, if you think of your dream child as your dream house, the genes provide merely a basic blueprint, the biological mother takes care of all the materials and construction, from the foundation right on up to the light fixtures. So, although the donor may have genetically programmed the shape of the new baby’s earlobe, the earlobe itself is the pregnant woman’s “flesh and blood.” That means the earlobe, along with the baby herself, grew from the recipient’s body. That is why she is the child’s biological mother. That is why this child is her biological child.”
Well, I thought I’d be writing once a month but seems there’s more on my mind than that. As anyone going through infertility challenges can understand, the mind is quite a freakshow during this time. Rationale goes out the window some days, and others you feel on top of the world, totally in control of your destiny. But I do know this – each day I’m getting stronger, wiser, and at peace with what turns my life has taken when it comes to this new chapter in our lives.
RESOLVE-ing to feel better
Last week, my husband was off work earlier so joined me at one of the local infertility support groups. As last month’s meeting was a bit more, let’s just say, overly polite, I didn’t have high expectations as it’d seemed to be more logistics of where we all were and less sharing of the deep dark icky stuff that plagues couples during this time.
Well, not to celebrate tears, but this time, shit got real and that was in my mind what a support group should be – a place to let it all out. There were more husbands in the room as well (last month there were no men) and I think that was also a good thing. Too much of the time you only hear women’s perspective because they are the ones dealing with the pregnancy, but the partners are also hurting as well.
While I’m obviously not going to share any specific stories, I will say that there was a diverse group of families with unique tales of their struggles to bring a child into the world. There was frustration, there were tears, and there was a good sprinkling of gallows humor as well. There were open discussions of what holds us back and what tears us apart and what we don’t want to admit but need to in order to find a path forward.
There was inspiration and there was respect for our individual journeys. And there was hope.
The Evolution of Friendship
One of the big topics that came up in the group was how our friendships had all evolved – or devolved – with the experience of infertility. We talked about who has stepped up to the plate, who has disappeared, who we’ve chosen to withdraw from based on their actions, and how much we are and aren’t willing to share – and often teach – about what we’re going through.
My husband and I have a lot of acquaintances, and just a few close friends. Obviously I write about it as it’s therapeutic for me to share during times when it’s hardest to share. And with that, I’ve had some good conversations with women who’ve dealt with infertility, miscarriage and the like. But there’s that deep dive that I need that I am missing. Not the therapist deep-dive, but just that gift of time that it seems no one has to give anymore. And it’s a lonely fucking feeling.
So I am thankful about the surprises in friendship that have come along, particularly for the most ironic one, a newer friend in my life who shares a similar sentiment about parenting and who found out she was pregnant (while not trying) right when we first started trying. You’d think this would be the last person I’d want to empty my guts out to, but she’s actually at the top of my list. Why? She’s a damn good listener who doesn’t lay on the sugary sweet, is straight up about her own fears as she and her husband venture into parenthood, is simple and forthright, and has made the time to just listen and support. She’s due in a week and I couldn’t be happier for her.
The Roller Coaster
When we went to the group, that morning I’d had a near panic attack. By the time we got on our bikes and rode over there, I was feeling good. Back in logistics mode, as I call it, where I happily compartmentalize my anxiety and grief, and focus on others because I know that, intellectually, we’ll be fine. I know that it will get better. And I know we have much to be grateful for.
But it pops up at the craziest times, I tell ya. People with kids hanging out with other people with kids, while the childless hold each other tightly, putting on their blinders and trying to make their way through the world, comfort each other, and try so very hard to believe that the loss of this dream will eventually not hurt so bad. Yesterday my heart hurt so bad that I wailed, as I began again walking straight into the pain in order to eventually move beyond it.
And it is getting better. Today was better.
Releasing the DNA
It is getting better because hey, we are going to be parents!! I am so blessed to have a husband who believes just as I do – that if you want to have a kid, you can have a kid, it just might not look the way you originally envisioned. And with that, if you want to be a parent, if you REALLY want to be a parent, you won’t let something like biology stop you.
Yup, I know that’ll make some folks shout and wince and so on and so forth. But it’s how I feel. We have a world full of children who are indeed worth the wait.
And with that, I think about the benefits of my gene pool discontinuing…
* No passing along generations and generations of breast cancer from my mother’s side.
* No chance the violent anger of my maternal grandfather will be passed down.
* No way in hell my child will share the genes of a grandparent who willingly left his daughter to move to another state and start another family, and who wouldn’t walk her down the aisle because he didn’t want to take the time off.
* No way in hell my child will share the genes of a grandparent who knowingly invited a child molester into her home and told her little girl multiple times that she was not a nice person.
Yes, a wee bit of emotion and obviously there’s nature/nurture involved in some of the above, but if it makes me process and accept where we’re headed, I’m all for it. And so with that, I say THANK YOU for this new chapter. I say THANK YOU for the lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn. I say THANK YOU for all the good that is in our life that we share. I say THANK YOU for the most wonderful husband a woman could ask for.
This week we found out that our first choice egg donor has agreed to help us with her high performing ovaries 🙂 She’s #214 on the list – an anagram of my January 24th birthday, woo hoo! – and we share the same eye color, hair color, and height, as well as a similar Euro-mutt background. We were unsure if she’d accept, as the word was her husband was no longer fond of her doing any more donations, so we’d chosen a backup donor with blue eyes (since my hubby has blue eyes)…but I’m kinda psyched to have a few things like me to the mix.
So, with that, we both started on doxycycline, an antibiotic used during the process to prevent infection in both parties in preparation for the embryo transfer. Whether it does anything or not I don’t care – it’s just nice to have my husband taking something and getting a little nauseated LOL! When my cycle starts in a couple weeks, I’ll be on birth control to help get me and the donor aligned – talk about ironic.
And of course the nerves remain, because of the 50/50 odds that, while better than the <1% we had naturally, and because of the possibility of miscarriage. Along with that, we met with someone recently whose forthrightness seemed so twinged with negativity and regret that we left uninspired. But everyone has their own journey, and so after hearing from another who was full of joy talking about her experience – love love love that! – we know that we are doing the right thing.
Remembering What’s To Come
Yesterday I was in the shower and suddenly pictured the fact that someday kids would be banging on the door to get in, and it made me laugh. Now that’s something to think about!!
We were walking the dog the other day and saw one of the little girls I read to last year and it filled me with joy to see her wave wildly at me. We had a picture drawn for us by one of the neighbor boys and it made my hubby grin. We look down at our own snoring furry girl and can’t wait for her to meet whoever is destined to join our unique little world.
I go back and forth but even with the questions inside me and the pain that has come forth and the withdrawing into myself, I know that we are going to be better for this. Changed forever, yes, but when our Ruby gets to nuzzle up to her little sister from Ethiopia in a year or two, and perhaps another little one that emerges from my belly next year? That’ll have been worth the wait.