Tuesday, October 4, 2011

And They Lived Happily Ever After

I may post again in this space, I may not, but I thought there should be at least some kind of update.  Especially for those who might be considering egg donation and wondering how they might adjust in the long term.  Well, next term or medium term might be a better phrase.

While I am open about the process of our children's conception, I know they really don't get it at all.  You are supposed to tell kids before age 4, but how do you tell it in terms they can understand?  The other day we were driving past the building where our children were conceived and I thought of an opportunity . . . "LB, that is the building where mommy, daddy and Belinda made you and LBII.  Belinda is the lady who donated a cell to mommy and with daddy's cell we created you." 

Already I was thinking it was over her head.  It was.  She responded by pointing at a different building and said, "That is my building and that (the one I pointed at) is your building." 

Well, I tried.

Seriously though, life is good. The other day I was thinking that it is as good as it was prior to TTC when Brad and I would quietly talk about how lucky we were - a little afraid that if we said it too loud then our luck would end. 

In most ways, I suppose, we are just like any other family.  There are a few times when I feel the sadness from not having our mutually genetic baby.  There are times when I wonder what he or she would have been like.  There are times when I still feel resentful that it was my genetics who got axed when I think they could have been preserved had we not needed IVF (and gotten pregnant back when I was only 34) due to MFI.  But those times are fewer and fewer and they never hold the ache that they once did.  I still don't think it will ever entirely go away, but compared to waking up in the middle of the night while I was pregnant with LB thinking that we made a mistake - well, that is quite the difference.

One interesting moment recently came up when (I am assuming) LB noticed how often LBII was said to look like her father.  LB said, "Mommy, I look like you and LBII looks like daddy."  I agreed with her  - justifying it because she looks like me in her mannerisms at least.  Plus I saw no reason to contradict her.  What would be the value in pointing out our differences? We look alike if she says we look alike because she sees it that way.

It has made me thoughtful, however.  I wonder if she really thinks she looks like me or if she is trying to solidify her place in the family.  I wonder what challenges will be to come as her conception becomes more understood.  I think we will find our way.

The whole IVF, infertility, DE stuff does change things.  I was thinking the other day that when we froze LBII we knew the thaw rate (thank goodness vitrification is now possible!) was 50%.  I then saw it from the other side . . . OMG WHAT DID WE DO?!  WE RISKED LBII'S LIFE!" When else would you chose to put your child through something that had only a 50% survival rate?  Well, we didn't know her then and transferring her earlier may have meant we never would know her.  I am convinced I have transferred good embryos that just didn't implant.  Heck, it happens all the time all over the world - we just don't know it. 

Then I was watching them play - as older and younger siblings play  - and wondered how they might have been different if we transferred them at the same time (assuming both would be born no matter what we did) or in reverse order?  It is mind twisting sometimes.

But I digress.  I really meant to just say that the method of their conception still comes up here and there, I still mourn the loss of my genetic child to some degree and, most importantly, we are very happy.  I am so glad we decided to move on and have children in the way that we did.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dollars and Sense

Popping in on a random day to add my 2 cents (is that a pun?) to Write Mind Open Heart's Dollars and $ense discussion.

Consider your now or future children as adults, and consider the fact that you had to spend money to either conceive them or make them part of your family. What effect do you think the latter will have on the former one day? What, do you think, your grown children might feel about the funds it took to create your family?

I don't think it will matter to them.  It's like telling your children, "Hey!  I changed your diapers!"  We know that was a way to communicate love, they see it as just your job.  I suspect it will be a running joke, but even that is hard to say.  We don't really talk about it now, but I imagine things like, "Sorry, we would love to help out with college, but we spent your college fund on your conception."

That said, it has impacted our lifestyle so that may have a long term impact on who they are.  We would have had more money for something if we didn't spend $70,000 plus on conceptions.

How did/would you handle it if your child asks you, “Mom, how much did I cost?” How would you answer at age 7? At age 18?

I suppose at age 7 I would give the conception cost, but at 18 I imagine rolling my eyes and just answering "Thousands and thousands" since I am sure the cost of raising them will still be more than the conception.  Gosh, I hope not, but I think I have seen statistics to show that is true.

When calculating the costs of your family building, what do you include? The direct costs are easy (such as RE fees for a cycle or homestudy fees), but what about fees that didn’t directly lead to your child’s existence in your life, such as cycles that didn’t work, adoption outreach avenues that didn’t work, failed adoptions, avenues that were explored (and that cost something) but not pursued, etc.?

I included everything we paid for directly: testing, IUI's, counseling, acupuncture, supplements.  I didn't include births, but I may have included the cost of Ernest's birth.  I did not include the cost of lost wages which due to a job change around the time of our son's death lead me to be unemployed for awhile and then marginally employed and then unemployed again (job was NOT compatible with a grieving, childless mother). 

If two children in a family “cost” different amounts, should that have any significance?

No, I see it as a total cost.  I do expect to have some fun with it however.  Perhaps referring to number 2 as our '$5,000 bonus baby'.

To what extent have finances determined the family-building decisions you have made? How have you able to balance financial considerations against other factors such as medical, ethical, emotional…?

With #1 (or #2 if you count the one that died) we were in the mode of "whatever it takes!" and I think the emotional impact would have stopped us before the financial.  We are still in our 'starter' house, so the financial impact has been a huge part, but I think we could have ran up a lot more debt before we called it quits.

Thankfully, or second and last was born from an FET and we don't want more.  Still, there are times when I think I might have had another kid it was free.  Doubtful, but just maybe.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Try Again

That article in Adoptive Families magazine is available online.  I guess I could have said my article.  Kind of cool, if I may say so myself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another Quick Update

I am last, but wanted to say that the meeting with Belinda, our egg donor, was uneventful - which I think is a good thing.  LB played with the barista and didn't seem that interested in Belinda, but a week later was talking about her.  I was a bit nervous because I am never really sure if I am going to feel threatened or not and Belinda was a bit nervous because she was afraid I would judge her for some recent life choices.  I wasn't threatened - although a little contemplative about who we are - and I certainly didn't judge Belinda. We vowed to get together more often and I hope we will.  I want any relationship our daughters might want to have with their genetic contributor to be easy and I think the key to that is an easy relationship between her and me.

I have also recently been published!  In Adoptive Families magazine, I have an article that combines a couple of my blog posts about going the DE route. I have to say, I am pretty excited.  Unfortunately, it doesn't not seem to be available online.  If you want the looooong version of the story, you can go to this post and then this one.

For those of you who might be finding me for the first time due to the article, I would like to say that I am not as sad about using DE as I once was.  If I think about how we were finally able to have children, I still feel a loss and a sense of failure, but those feelings stem from every single cycle - assisted or not - that failed and the hell that we went through.  Yes, I also still wonder if having been successful with my eggs would have been a sort of vindication, but that will never happen and I rarely think about it.

Our girls are wonderful little human beings and I hope they will have long, happy lives.  I think about what genetics mean (Would having Brad's grandmother's wedding ring mean anything to them?  Would having my grandmother's wedding ring mean the same?), but for the most part it is just a fact of their conception.  They are who they are and I am the person who gets to be their mother. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Not What I Meant

I just reread my last blog post.  I shouldn't have blogged while working . . .I was going toward a lot more detail about Brad's mom's (Kay is her name) passing that would have made sense of it being 'good news' in some ways.  I am still going to spare the details, but wanted to say that I am not happy that she died.  One of the things that will be better (eventually) is that we will no longer be waiting and hoping that she would change her mind and want to be a grandmother to our children. It is harder now because the hope is gone, but we will also now put it entirely behind us.

It is interesting how many aspects of my life I look at differently because of the use of donor eggs.  Kay didn't want to be involved in our lives or our children's lives.  In the past I might have left it at that. Now I think that just because Kay didn't want to be a grandparent shouldn't mean that our kids couldn't have someone fill that role.  I am seriously considering shopping around for some surrogate grandparents.  Who cares if it isn't someone who is one of our parents?  I have great memories of time with my grandparents and it would be nice for our girls to have similar experiences.

Just for the record . . . my mom is alive and involved with the kids.  We hope she lives another decade or two but she has heart problems and not sure that is likely. 

Tonight we expect to get together with Belinda, our donor.  We meant to before but plans got canceled. If we get together tonight then it will be the first time in over a year.  It will be interesting to see how LB and Belinda get along.  Will LB have some sixth-sense like connection?   I will try to post how it goes.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Finding Balance

I was dying in the dessert for lack of water.  I longed with my whole being to quench my thirst.  I dreamed of the day when my need would be fulfilled. I hoped again and again and survived disappointment when the water proved to be a mirage. 

Now I am drinking from a fire hose. 

How is that for balance?  More like feast or famine.  It is crazy how life works.

The good news is that Brad's mom died.  It is sad and there is a lot of never-to-be-resolved issues between Brad and his mom.  She wasn't a horrible mother, but she wasn't a very good one either.  Her sister once said, "(Brad's mom) is just like me, she doesn't like kids."  More than that, she was almost always negative and unhappy and did very little to change that.  In fact she fostered it.  She hated winter and spent the last winter of her life - knowing she would likely die before Spring - in a cold house rather than turn the heat up.  She could easily afford it.  For probably the first time ever, her house stays nice and warm so that those of us cleaning up and selling off stay comfortable.

All of this reminds me that now is the time to enjoy life.  It is of course easier during times of feast than times of famine, but it is still too easy to forget how lucky I am.  It is my nature to see what is missing.  Lately, I have been much better about seeing what I have.