Adoption by Another Mother

Tammy will have to adopt her daughter.

We live in an area that allows gay adoption (similar to straight adoption but more fabulous), but because there are so many shitty parts of this country that do not allow gay couples to adopt and we can’t risk being in such a place if/when an emergency happens, we have to spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer to draw up the necessary paperwork, spend a couple of months in limbo, go before a judge, be deemed fit, and then go back to living our lives exactly as they were before, but more…legal.

Insert jazz hands. Legalistic jazz hands.

I’m torn about the whole thing, to be honest. Part of me is insulted that gay couples have to go through this. If a straight couple has to use a third-party to reproduce (i.e. donor gametes), they don’t have to go through all this once they finally achieve their longed for pregnancy. It’s automatically assumed that whatever the mother gives birth to is automatically genetically related to the couple that is assumed to have created it.

But on the other hand, I’m certainly not gambling with my child. Our family will not be the test case family. Sorry. Too precious, too scary. Too much to lose.

*****

While we’re on the general subject of adoption, can I throw a few (virtual) thoughts at you? Keep in mind that my thoughts are colored by my own interactions with people who were adopted or gave up a child for adoption, and my future experience of what we lovingly refer to as a half adopted child.

I have three cousins that were adopted. One of my adopted cousins has passed away so I have no way of knowing what he would have wanted to do, but the other two had different reactions to wanting to find out about their roots. One has reconnected with her birth mother (with the support of her adoptive parents), has gone to visit her and they are friends on Facebook. My other cousin started to investigate his birth parents (again, with the support of his adoptive parents) but after not much effort decided to stop looking. There could definitely be more to his story (maybe he found out something he didn’t want to know? Maybe he got overwhelmed?) but for now, he’s just living with the information he has. Neither of my living adopted cousins wish they had stayed with their birth families, or that they hadn’t been adopted.

My SIL gave up a child because she got pregnant as a teenager, and her family shamed her into it. That’s the long and short of the situation. She recently found the girl online.  My SIL wrote her a letter asking to meet up with her, but the girl, now a woman, declined, for reasons unknown to me.

I also have a friend who is adopted, and I’ve had a lot of long talks with him recently about his experience. It’s a long and complicated story, and while he loves his adoptive family, he feels like adoption is a traumatic, brutal and cruel thing, and every human being has the right to know where they come from. He’s gotten very involved in the adoption rights community.

Obviously, our child’s situation will be different from those I briefly sketched out above. She will know half of her genetic heritage, and we chose a donor specifically because he had agreed to be contacted when any offspring turn 18, should they want to know more about that side of their genetics

Our child will grow up knowing a kind man, called a donor, gave a small bit of himself to help Mama and Mommy make her. Parts from Mommy and parts from the donor made her who she is. She will know that Mama and Mommy are her parents, and that families come in all shapes and sizes. I’m a firm believer that genetics are only a part of who you are…but it’s easy for me to say that, as a person who knows all about her family.

I worry that our child will at some point start to romanticize the donor, or think of him as her dad. Will she wish that she was growing up with him and not us? Probably at some point she will. She will probably say something along those lines to us when she is angry at us. But as much as I try to prepare myself for that moment (or those moments) I know that hearing it will be like a knife in my heart. What happens if our daughter feels like we robbed her of something? What if she resents us? What if her life is less than, because she didn’t grow up knowing what Tammy and I both knew about our families?

What are your thoughts, dear readers? Do you support adoption? Do you think, like my friend does, that adoption should be an absolute last resort? Or do you think it is a beautiful way to build a family? Or is it somewhere in between? What about people using donor gametes?

What rights do children have to know about their genetic history?

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Like a Sleeping Baby

Thank you, lovees, for your helpful suggestions yesterday. Last night I had a snack before bed (whole wheat toast with peanut butter), took a unisom, put in ear plugs, and went to sleep, blissful sleep. I only woke up three times to pee. While I wouldn’t say I feel like a new woman, I DO feel like I can function and that I remember my own name. Which is a marked improvement. I’ll take waking up 3 times versus waking up 10 times for all and sundry reasons any day of the week.

I do feel a little silly for freaking out yesterday on my blog. A gigantic THANK YOU and a hearty smooch to everyone for not pointing out that a) it was only two nights, so, you know, buck up and b) I’m going to have a baby (knock on every type of wood available) in threeish months, and perhaps I should get used to sleep deprivation?

Because here’s the thing: both of those thoughts had occurred to me, even in my befuddled state. YES, it was only two nights. Apparently (she said, sheepishly) I had a bit of a panic attack that this was my new reality and how would I function and OMG what if my heart just exploded like one of those Japanese executives that work 20 hour days and end up keeled over in front of my cubicle or oh God what if I’m at home and Tammy’s out of town and the cat runs out of food and eats me and they discover my partially eaten body days later? …like I said, I don’t do so well without sleep.

Which brings me to the next point, which is that we’re going to have a baby soon, and babies, despite being delicious, are not widely known for their sustained sleeping. I am aware of this fact, and have gone into this pregnancy with my eyes open about the difficulties we will face once the baby is here (and there are plenty, believe me). I know that sleeping will be a challenge, I know that. But first of all, I won’t be having to get up for work like I am now (for at least three months, hopefully four if we can swing it financially). And right now (subject to change), we are anticipating that I will sleep in the guest room with the baby in a bassinet once Tammy goes back to work (after two or three weeks) so that she can be in charge of basically everything except feeding and wiping baby bum until I can get my metaphorical feet on the metaphorical ground. We’re basically anticipating that I will be completely useless around the house (cooking, cleaning, laundry, conversating, etc) for a while. Thus my freezer meals. And my parents helping out around the house.

And, hey. We could end up with a good sleeper. I was, apparently. My mom said by like two weeks I was going down around 7, sleeping until midnight, waking up then to be fed, and then sleeping again until 5 or so. After the early morning feeding I would fall back asleep and go until 8 or 9. Why, that’s downright civilized for a two-week old! As much as my parents like to cackle about me getting a child just like I was (read: a handful), in this instance I hope they are right.

The Fundamental Things Apply / As Time Goes By

We had our 20 week anatomy scan this morning. That’s the big one where they check all of the organs and can tell you the sex, if you want to know. We did want to know, even though it doesn’t make much of a difference. The things we want for our child (kindness, empathy, bravery, sense of humor) aren’t sex or gender specific.

When I was younger, I was adamant that I wanted a girl. “I don’t know anything about boys!” I’d wail. But my mistake there was to assume, despite my Women & Gender Studies degree, that females have innate traits that I would have an automatic connection with, and that males have innate traits I would not understand. Such silliness. I would like a child that I can snuggle with, and read books with, and cook with. Tammy would like a child that will play outside with her, go camping with her, and swim in the ocean with her. But you know what? A child of any sex or gender combination will not guarantee us a child that enjoys any or all of those things. Our first lesson in parenting is to accept our child for who they are, regardless of what is between their legs and in their heart. What we ultimately want is for our child(ren) to find what brings them joy.

******

At the perinatal clinic (with the high res ultrasound machines), I asked the receptionist if I need a full or empty bladder for my 20 week anatomy scan. She assured me it didn’t matter, so I went to relieve myself, glad I wouldn’t have to spend an uncomfortable hour being prodded in the (full) bladder. When I came out of the bathroom, an Asian gentleman with a heavy accent started scolding me (that much was clear from his tone) but I had no freaking clue what he was trying to say. Tammy read my blank look, and interpreted that I shouldn’t have gone pee, that he needed my bladder full to check my cervix. I told the ultrasound tech that the receptionist told me it was OK (I’m such a tattle-tale) and he stormed off to scold her.

Unfortunately, his accent did not improve while he did the scan. He muttered to himself, ignoring us most of the time when we asked questions, occasionally including “good, good, look fine, eveyting look fine”. My first clue that there might be a problem was when we were measuring the “alus” (“the what?” “the alus…you know…baby poo poo” “oh, the aNus. Gotcha”) and I saw these dark circles in the lower abdomen.

“What are those dark circles?” I asked, three times. He finally responded, “I take picture, review after.” But then he told us the sex, and I sort of forgot about those circles.

It’s a girl. Whatever that means, in all its glory.

After he finished taking his pictures, he told us he was going to go review and would be back in later. We waited around 20 minutes and then a doctor came in. She told us that the tech had trouble getting one or two shots of the brain that she would try to get (she did successfully), but also that she wanted to review one of the pictures he did get of the abdomen. All of a sudden, I remembered those dark circles and got nervous.

It turns out that either the baby has enlarged bowels or cysts on her ovaries. Apparently it’s difficult to tell at this point of fetal development exactly what these fluid filled spaces are. We need to come back in two weeks to see if the spots have gotten bigger or smaller. It’s entirely possible that, whatever the issue is, it will resolve itself. If the spots are not gone, the perinatologist will refer us to have an MRI, which will give us an even more detailed look than the high-resolution scan at the perinatology center (and those scans are crazy detailed).

From my googling this morning, I’ve determined that fetal ovarian cysts are often a result of the large amounts of hormones circulating in MY body. Which makes me feel insanely guilty, and does inject the worry that I’ve harmed our daughters future fertility, should she want to have kids at some point. Most fetal ovarian cysts resolve themselves before birth or shortly after.

Enlarged bowels can be a sign of blockages in the intestines. AKA, my baby is already full of shit (if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry. Work with me here). I ALSO feel guilty about this, like I’ve given my daughter my own screwed up bowels (chronic constipation, etc). Again, these often work themselves out before birth or shortly after.

Worst case for both scenarios would mean regular ultrasounds leading up to the birth, possible induction, and ultrasounds for the baby after birth. Worst WORST case scenario would mean surgery shortly after the baby is born to either remove the cysts or blockages.

Obviously, I wish the scan had gone perfectly and shown no problems. But I’m surprised at how well I’m taking the news. I’m trying to be fair and reasonable when describing this to my parents (“the doctor wasn’t what I would call ‘concerned’, but she does want to monitor it”) and not wallow in melodrama, as is so often my want. I’ve done a little bit of googling, but I’ve tried to skim-without-really-reading the posts where women say “my baby had this and it meant X number of surgeries” or “my baby had this and it was a sign of cystic fibrosis” or “my baby had this and we had to remove her ovaries” or “my baby had this and then she died”. Wow, guess I read more of those than I thought, huh?

Aaaaaaaaanyway, I’m doing reasonably well, for me. I’m trying to focus on her sweet arms and legs kicking me, and my happy laugh as I got to see visual evidence of what I’ve been feeling for weeks (side note to my daughter: no wonder my bladder hurts every time I stand up. You’re doing a straight up goal scoring kick into it!) with regard to movement. I got to see Tammy’s face as we looked at our daughter’s profile, her yawning mouth, and her little fingers giving us the “here’s looking at you, kid.” Maybe we should name her Ingrid?

Here's Looking at You, Kid 3

Here’s looking at you, kid. We are in awe of how marvelous you are.

Childhood Neurosis

I’ve been thinking a lot about what our future kid is going to be like. What will their interests be, their personality, their likes, their dislikes?

And beyond that, what things will they inherit from me, good or bad?

*********

I was kind of definitely a weird kid. I was anxious, even then, and lived almost entirely in a world populated by my imagination.

My mom and I had a good laugh about it recently when Tammy and I went to visit them. My parents are cleaning out their basement and they came across a lot of stuff from my childhood, including artwork, school pictures, and books. A lot of these things brought up memories.

Weirdo Kid Memories:
1) My sister and I each had a special “comfort item” that we slept with. Hers was a doll, and mine was a bear. We used to play together at night when we were supposed to be sleeping. We would pretend we were new moms, and we had just given birth (not that we had the slightest concept of how that process would work) to our doll and our bear.

The only weird thing about my sister’s doll was that it was bald.  Because she had thrown up on it so many times as a child, my parents had pulled the wig off it, basically saying, “fuck this”.

Anyway, we would play this game where we introduced our new kids to each other. Here’s how that conversation would go:

Sister: Sarah, come meet my new baby! She’s beautiful! Only problem is…she’s bald.

Me: Sister, come meet MY new baby! He’s beautiful! Only problem is…he’s a bear.

And then we’d play the game again.

2) I freaking LOVED the Little House on the Prairie series. The books, not the show. Don’t speak to me about that abomination.

Little House on the Prairie

(I also loved the spinoff books about Rose (Laura’s daughter) and Caroline (Laura’s mother.)

I went through a period when I was about 8 where I longed to live in “olden times”. I would steal one of my mom’s work skirts (calf length on her, beyond floor length on me), put on the prairie boots that were inexplicably in style at the time (and that I had successfully convinced my parents to buy for me) and run around the backyard pretending I was saving the crops from a looming tornado. Or frost. Or something. I also wore those clothes while making forts in the living room, and then knocking them down when the tornado came.

3) I had a dress when I was around the same age that I LOVED. Actually, I loved dresses my whole childhood and my mom had to FORCE me to wear pants when it was cold outside. I know. Worst lesbian ever. Anyway, this dress was old-fashioned, with a sash and smocking along the top. It was kind of maroon colored.

When I was in elementary school, we took a field trip to some local caves. Upon learning this, I instantly knew I would wear my dress because being in the cave would be ALMOST like being in olden times (no telephone wires, no cars, etc to ruin the illusion), and my dress would make things more authentic. I also had these stickers that were little paw prints of animals.

animal paw prints

Before leaving for the field trip, I accessorized my dress by sticking many of these stickers on my dress, reasoning that girls in olden times obviously had wild animals as friends. Perhaps people would even think these stickers were real animal prints and know me to be fabulously cool. I was so excited.

Of course, as soon as kids saw me they made fun of me. They said my clothes were dirty and ugly and that my mama should “wash me better”. While we were in the cave, I peeled off those stickers, but held on to them. That night in bed, I stuck them on my headboard. The see-through backing of the sticker showed the maroon fuzz that came off my dress. For as long as I had that bed, every time I saw the stickers I felt those kids mocking me, and was ashamed and embarrassed all over again.

Anxious Memories:
1) I had an immense fear of my parents death, and “what would become of me” (I picked up that phrasing from books). I worried constantly that they weren’t taking their vitamins. For a long time I thought it was normal for kids to worry about their parents dying, but I have since been informed this is not actually the case. My parents had to talk to me over and over about which aunt my sister and I would live with if they died. Far from reassuring me, for some reason this made my fear worse.

2) I also had a huge fear of fire. The area my parents live in often has droughts during the summer months, and sometimes the town will tell people not to water their lawns to conserve water. Combine this with learning about Smokey the Bear (and how one unattended campfire can cause a forest fire) and I was convinced our (brick) house was going to burn down every day.

Smokey the Bear(I took this sign a little too seriously)

To combat this, I ignored the town’s injunction over watering the lawn (rule bender, even then) and watered the…house. Yes, I would go outside and water our brick house during the summer. To keep it from burning down. No need to thank me, Mom and Dad. I’m here to help.

What kind of funny/weird/sad things do you remember about yourself from childhood? Do you think these memories influence who you are as an adult?

Comments

I got my first less-than-supportive comment.

When I started blogging, I expected that I would get comments that would regularly require a tough skin and a stern self talking-to (“you CHOSE to blog”). But I found you lovely people, and I’ve been impressed with the kindness you extended to me, a virtual (see what I did there?) stranger, coming over to emote in your corner of the internet.

It’s not even that the comment was so bad, but it did make me wince a little. It was on my post about sharing pregnancy news on fac.ebook:

“Popping out of lurking to say I can see why oyu are in a tough position. But to think you don’t have the email, or phone number, of your ‘less close’ friends’? So why bother telling them? If FB crashed tomorrow…oh me, oh my…you wouldn’t have ANY way to communicate with said friends? That’s weird to me. FB is your ONLY means of communication. With a potential move coming up, you may want to I don’t know, try to form more meaningful relationships, than just ‘liking’ something here or there. Just my 2cents.”

Before anyone jumps all over me, please know that I would have emailed her directly if she had left an email address or blog site. But she didn’t.

And before anyone jumps all over her, she does partially have a point and I DID ask for comments.

Before I decided to update my status about the pregnancy, I did think about why I should bother telling people who I’m not that close to. Why does it matter if they know that I’m pregnant? Here’s what I came up with:

1) We’re a lesbian couple, and I’m working hard to spread the idea that gay people having kids is normal and blase. Studies show that when people know someone who is gay, they become more accepting and tolerant. It suddenly is less of an abstract concept and more about someone’s life. Same idea with gay people having kids. I’m trying to up the tally for ‘acceptance’ in the ‘parents who are gay’ category.

2) There’s been so much about this process that has been hard, and I’ve so often felt isolated and alone. It’s a large part of the reason I started this blog. I didn’t know anyone IRL that was struggling to get or stay pregnant. I was desperate to talk to someone (other than Tammy and my mom) about it. Since getting and staying pregnant, I’ve longed for a return to some kind of normalcy. The scars that I have from this process (both physical and emotional) continue to haunt me. I wanted (for once!) to not feel weird. I wanted to be a normal person announcing a normal pregnancy. I wanted to bask in the happiness of my friends, even my ‘less close’ friends. I wanted the community affirmation, that this was a GOOD thing, and it was OK to be HAPPY.

But then on to the ‘ouch’ part of Kate’s comment:

“With a potential move coming up, you may want to I don’t know, try to form more meaningful relationships, than just ‘liking’ something here or there.”

Like I said, ouch. That comment hit a little close to home. It’s something I struggle with, maintaining friendships. I’m an introvert, but I also struggle with anxiety, often manifesting in social anxiety. I also struggle with depression. The infertility process has made both my anxiety and depression much harder to deal with.

I have people who I enjoy spending time with; friends from college, friends from work. But it’s HARD for me to maintain those relationships. I work at it, and I try, and sometimes I do better and sometimes I do worse. Since getting pregnant, I’ve been working hard on getting out of the house more, half for my sake and half for Tammy’s. She’s much more social than I am, and she’s often home with me more than she would like. We’re working on trying to find a balance.

But that comment also stung because she hit on the context of a potential move. It’s one of the things that scares me about a move; having to meet new people. I wouldn’t have the natural environment of work to socialize, and I would have to force myself to push out of my comfort zone and talk to people I don’t know (gasp!).

I have met with a psychologist off and on for years (since college). Sometimes I see her very frequently and sometimes a year or more goes by between sessions. But I’m aware that this is an issue for me to work on, and I’m aware it’s not something I will ever be “cured” of. It’s something I’ll have to fight against for the rest of my life. I know that.

Kate, if you’re still out there does this answer your question? Please don’t take this as an attack on you. Like I said, I asked for comments and you gave it to me. It’s highly probably that I’m extra sensitive about the topic given my history. It’s also likely that I over react to things. So no hard feelings?

Dream Company Anxiety

I’ve been all out of sorts this morning. Irritable and jumpy and tears lurking close to the surface. At first I thought it was because we stayed up too late watching Orange is the New Black (NSFWish), and I was just tired. And then I thought it was because I was waxing philosophical in my mind about my former life of drugs, sex & rock ‘n roll (“It was actually kind of glamorous in a way….JESUS, Sarah. It was HELL. Please take the idiot stick out of your ass and remember how brittle and cruel you life was back then”). Orange is the New Black has really gotten to me, apparently.

And THEN I realized it has to do with Tammy and her job situation. Tammy is extremely talented at what she does, and is highly sought after. The job she currently has is prestigious, and she’s being head-hunted by other, even more prestigious companies. About 6 weeks ago, she heard from her Dream Company. They had seen her resume and wanted to interview her. So she had an interview and then never heard back. We had kind of assumed that was it, and (I at least) more or less wrote them off.

Until last night, when Tammy got an email saying they would like to move forward with a second interview (this company apparently has many, many interview rounds).

If Tammy got a job offer, it would probably be a GREAT job offer. One that would be difficult to turn down. It’s the kind of place where, in Tammy’s field, if you work there you can write your own ticket afterword. A good analogy: if you work in politics, the dream  is always to work at the White House. And if you’re lucky enough to do that, once you leave the White House you can pretty much pick who you want to work for. You’re set. Same idea here (although vastly different fields).

So why am I unsettled about this, you ask? Dream Company, moving forward with a potential job for my wife?

Taking a job with Dream Company would mean probably moving, potentially across the country or around the world. The Dream Company does have an office in our city, but I don’t think they do the type of work Tammy does at that location.

It would also mean giving up my job. I don’t love my job, but it is a job that I’ve been at for over three years. It’s stable, and I contribute to our household bottom line in meaningful ways (although Tammy does make more, and would likely make considerably more at Dream Company).

And it would also mean giving up our support system, right before we have a baby. When Tammy and I discussed finding a way for me to stay at home with the baby, I always envisioned that being in the context of the city we know and love, surrounded by friends and family to help and give advice and babysit.

I can’t imagine myself, unmoored in a new city, with a new baby, and unemployed for the first time in my adult life.

You know that old saying, “be careful what you wish for”?

And that other saying, that even an atheist like me can recognize for its truth: “humans plan, God laughs”.

We’re still a long way off from any kind of job offer. And then, if/when a job offer is made, we’d have to sit down and seriously look at all the factors. But, given my dream of having a baby, how could I deny Tammy her dream of working for this company?

A lot to think about, ponder over, and worry about in the weeks to come.

Busy vs. Frantic vs. Meltdown

Don’t get me wrong, being busy can be a good thing. It makes the day go by faster, it keeps you sharp, and it gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

What I do NOT like, however, is being frantically, panicky busy. The hands shaking, oh-my-god-I-have-so-much-to-do, how-am-I-ever-going-to-get-this-done, please-god-let-my-phone-stop-ringing, I-have-HOW-many-emails?, you-want-this-done-WHEN? busy. The meltdown busy. The fighting back tears as you type as fast as you can, half listening to whoever is yelling on the other end of the phone line. The no lunch, no peeing, sitting rigidly still waiting for the world to collapse in busy.

Yeah. The past few days have been the not-good kind of busy. I’m not going to get into the specifics, because I’m not trying to get dooced (in the off-chance someone IRL found my blog).

But that’s where I’ve been the past while. I’ve tried to check in to your blogs during the few minutes I sneak in the bathroom. I’m cheering for those of you who’ve received good news, and mourning with others who haven’t.

A quick update about the goings on in my neck of the woods:

  • I’m 12 weeks tomorrow. Had a scan (at the OB!!) at 11 weeks, 1 day and it was awesome. The pirate was doing a mambo. Wish I could feel it. (I’ll probably regret saying that later). Measured a day ahead. Obviously my future child is very advanced.
  • Tammy and I went to my parent’s house this past weekend, where Tammy proceeded to get some kind of horrific insect bite on her neck that is now infected. It has inflamed a string of lymph nodes in her neck. She’s on antibiotics but hasn’t seen much improvement yet.
  • This article is fucking stupid. If I had more time I’d post a take down, but let’s just agree that William Saletan is an idiot.
  • I have my nuchal translucency scan next Tuesday. Hopefully I’ll get another good picture.
  • Speaking of pictures, here’s the pirate at 11 weeks, 1 day: baby, 11w2d
  • I’m feeling larger. Hard to tell what’s bloat and what’s…not bloat, but I sure as heck do not fit into my regular pants. Can I just make a note here about how comfortable maternity pants are? Why do we not all wear elastic waist pants ALL.THE.TIME? Can we get something in Vogue on this?
  • My belly button is stretching. It is the most bizarre thing. It feels very tender and the hole is becoming positively cavernous in my stomach. My innie is also becoming puffy and poofy and I’m afraid I will end up with an outtie sooner than expected.
  • I’m still scared of miscarriage but becoming less so every day. A tiny bit. Teeny eensy weensy bit.
  • Today was the first day in weeks that I did not want to vomit at any point. Victory! (other than the times I wanted to vomit due to stress. I’m talking pregnancy vomit that was avoided)
  • Yeah. That’s about it. Hope all of you are well. Off to a meeting with the boss man to…hand him a piece of paper. Yes. So glad I’m still at work to hand him a piece of paper. Not that I’m bitter about that or anything. My chance to get home at a decent hour, foiled by handing him a piece of paper. Awesome.