Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Overworking It

We have officially had too much time to think about this, and we're not done yet.

Our debate between Donor Egg IVF and living child-free is not centered around our comfort with using a donor. It is centered on whether or not we want to be parents.

Let me be clear, we are both uncertain. As in nearly all things, we are in complete agreement, on the the same page (even the same sentence). Our synchronicity is alarming, and not a little counterproductive at this point. This is not a situation where one of us wants to move one way and the other is pulling in a different direction. We are standing together at this intersection, hand in hand, and scared to move for fear of getting it wrong. I mean, the scenery at this particular intersection isn't that bad and the traffic is manageable...

My thoughts, feelings and desires fluctuate wildly by the hour. I am not exaggerating. If we stop now, say no to donor eggs and proceed child-free... are we robbing ourselves of a beautiful future or saving ourselves a lifetime of heartache? There are so very many things that could go wrong, and at any number of points in pregnancy or childhood. Admittedly, most people never have to confront these nightmares in person. But let's face it, we've had it rammed home again and again and again over the last three years... We are NOT Most People. God knows there are no guarantees that "overcoming infertility" means living happily ever after.

First thing in the morning, when I've just woken up but am still exhausted from a crappy night's sleep and I'm already running late only ten minutes into my day, I think there's no way I would survive parenthood with my soul intact. Same thing goes for Saturday afternoon and there are more household chores than I have energy to tackle with Prof tied to his desk working against a deadline, much less the thought of childcare. I can't even keep the dust bunnies out of my own bedroom, I'm not fit to be someone's mother.

Child-free is the path of least resistance. It is the default future should we fail to act. Is it somehow more acceptable if we didn't necessarily "choose" that future? If someone came to us and told us we had reached the end of our road and we would not be able to have children no matter what, we would be fine. It would be a relief to be off the hook and able to walk confidently into the future. Sometimes I feel like I'm focusing on the crappy parts of parenthood, just so I can convince myself it's OK not to want it, to make it hurt less to not have it.

On the other hand, when I get a moment to pause in my day and note some of the more amazing things in the world (like fireflies and spring blossoms and the first snow of the season), I think how incredible to see all of those things again through the eyes of child. When Prof starts rattling on about something science-y, as he is wont to do, I think what fun he would have explaining our world to a little one. When BFF(B)'s youngest comes running full speed to where we are chatting in her kitchen, just to ask for a hug before tearing back to the living room to play again...

If we had conceived on our own shortly after ditching the birth control, we would have been nervous but thrilled. And we would have rolled confidently into that future, certain that there was nothing we couldn't handle together. There are times when I imagine our possible child and I feel like my heart (my literal heart, not my mind or my soul) is swelling to the bursting point with pain because I might never meet him/her. It's an uncontrollable, physical pain that brings tears to my eyes no matter where I happen to be.

Infertility has stolen our innocence, our dreams, our confidence. It has also given us a bond even stronger than we imagined we could have, it has made us thrive as a team in ways we should be proud of.

One of our primary fears for a successful pregnancy is what effect it will have on our relationship. And before you ask, yes of course we considered that before we ever threw away the birth control. But this is what infertility does to you. It makes you question every little thing in much greater detail than you ever have before, in a constantly repeating loop. Our marriage, our relationship, is so incredible, even after infertility. If we can grow closer and stronger through all of this, why should it be any other way with parenthood?

The whole genetic link factor really doesn't matter to me (I suppose I should say MY genetics... I want Prof's genes represented). I see donor egg as something like baking a cake. Except at the last minute, I have realized I'm out of eggs and have to pop over to a neighbor's house to ask for a few of hers. It's still my recipe, I'm still the one baking the cake, I still get to call the end product my own. One of my personal fears, and it's not a small one, is what if my DE teenager decides I'm not their "real mom"? What if they decide they need to try to locate that "real mom", difficult though that would be with an anonymous donor? What if, in my child's eyes, those genetics end up being really important? I feel like this is just the merest tip of the iceberg that adoptive couples face.

*Light Bulb* Any good books on adoption that might help me process this particular fear?

Are you now as confused as I am?


  1. Oh, sweetie, I totally get where you are coming from. Your analysis is spot on. If you just got PG the minute you pulled the goalie, you wouldn't be having this discussion with yourself.

    Instead of asking yourself, "Are we robbing ourselves of a beautiful future or saving ourselves a lifetime of heartache?" (donor eggs or child-free fit both those answers), ask yourself, "How do I see my life going forward? What will truly make me happy?"

    For me it was seeing the look on the face of the daughter of a very good friend of mine when we picked the little one up from school. Pure joy. I told myself, "I want that and I'll do anything to make it happen."

    It might help to ask yourself, if you were on your death bed, would you have any regrets about the path you chose?

    Whatever you do choose to do, at least you know you have a very strong relationship with the Prof, and that's very, very important.

  2. This is one of the best posts I have EVER read. The image of you and Prof standing at an intersection is so vivid it brings tears to my eyes.

    I don't think your fear is something you have to totally overcome to proceed, if that's what you want to do- you just have to reach some level of acceptance. I still worry about it, but I know I've done a lot of reading on how to talk to kids about adoption, we have a lot of books for kids that explain adoption or contain adoption stories, and I just have to hope that I'm equipped to help her navigate it (and composed enough to handle it myself).

    I will think about whether I have any resources that might be helpful to you. The only one that springs to mind is this post by Lori, which doesn't involve a teenager or donor egg but is remarkable nonetheless (and which someday I hope to be able to channel when the hard questions come) :)

    Sorry about the novel I've written here!

  3. I agree on the donor eggs. To me my genetics aren't as important as making sure my spouse's are there. I'm thinking of doing the same for the next round after saving up. I'd love two babies so if this regular IVF produces one I'll only have to get one more via donor eggs.

    I have yet to find any decent books on adoption. We are still researching that route ourselves.

    Wishing you all the best. Good luck!

  4. I think this is what happens when you have too much time to think. Most people get pregnant too fast to think about it too much and then they just deal with it and can't imagine it otherwise. But infertility gives you way too much time to think, and all these thoughts come up... bleh.

  5. I love the cake analogy. I have no answers unfortunately but in one way or another, you will make a decision and no matter what it is, it will be the right one. Hang in there.

  6. When we were TTC, we had to use donor sperm, so we had to come to terms with the genetic stuff too. For adoption, the books helped, but the thing that helped me THE MOST was interacting with other adoptive mothers and their children so I could see for myself that there was no difference in who their "mommy" was. And the families had open relationships, so they new about their birth mother.

    I think your post is beautifully written, and me and my husband found the same phenomenon happening too. We had been trying for so long, we had in reality been living as childless parents a.k.a. child-free a.k.a. very set in our ways, etc.

  7. I found your post very refreshing and wanted to let know you that you're not alone.
    Back then when I didn't know about my infertility, I always had such a hard time envisioning having a small person disrupting my routine, my space, my time time with D & my budget. City people much?
    Then the whole infertility fiasco happened; and the Bougie realization that throwing lots of money at something doesn't always mean success.
    Maybe, that's why I have decided that being Childfree, was the right path for us. Is it lifestyle or insecurity or brattiness? just like you, I don't know.
    I'm just barely one step ahead of you.
    Whatever decision you make, whenever that would be, I'll support you 100%.

  8. This is the sentence that hits home with me: Infertility has stolen our innocence, our dreams, our confidence.

  9. "I see donor egg as something like baking a cake. Except at the last minute, I have realized I'm out of eggs and have to pop over to a neighbor's house to ask for a few of hers. It's still my recipe, I'm still the one baking the cake, I still get to call the end product my own."

    This is an incredible analogy. As someone who is going through the adoption process, I can say that your feelings are valid. You have every right to ask those questions and to fear those things. Believe me, I do it all the time. I think missohkay and An Adopted Life both have excellent points about addressing these fears.

    There's no right or wrong decision here. It's about choosing what's best for you. No matter what that choice is, we are all here to support you 100%.

  10. you are such a brave, strong woman. this post is amazing and captures the process perfectly. I wish love and peace as you make this decision, here for you along the way...

  11. I started out wanting to live a child free life with my husband. I didn't think I would be a good parent, and I didn't want to give up such a big part of myself. My husband and I were enough. But over time, various events and changes in our lives gave us a different perspective. It isn't about what you get from a child, or how you do as a parent, it's about what you add to the world. I went to the funeral of my grandmother's brother, and I looked around at the wonderful family he had created with his wife. And I thought about my grandparents, and my mother, and all the wonderful things they had passed on to me. And I realized, that it would end with us. My brother's kids were being raised by some other family, my sister had no children, and either would we. If my husband and I hadn't had children, biological or otherwise, the wonderful things that my parents had given us, the people they had been, would have died with them. Once my husband and I changed our minds, we didn't realize that it would take so much to actually become parents. But today, my daughter is with her grandma in my grandmother's kitchen, cooking chicken noodle soup with my grandmother's pots, and I just know my Grandma is there too...and that I have managed to keep my Grandmother alive. And it wouldn't matter one bit if my daughter came from donor eggs, or if she was adopted from China, or if she was a foster child, or she was from the moon...what I have to give is the same. If you ache to give that love to a child, you will, it is only the 'how' and 'when' that stand in your way. If it isn't the path for you, live it without regret. The only thing you can't do is stand still forever. You know what they say "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." :)

  12. You are an incredible writer. Just FYI.

  13. Incredible post! I can relate on so many levels. Thank you!

  14. Can I just say - as someone who didn't do DE or adopt - that I think, whatever you and your husband choose, you'll live a happy and fulfilled life. In fact, I'm confident of that. Whatever path you take, you might occasionally look across at the other path, and think "what if." But likewise, I think our brains are wonderful at ensuring that we make the most of what we have, and that we accept it - whether that is a child from donor eggs, or a childfree life - and that we are happy. Because I know that a life lived in regret, wishing we'd done something else but not having the opportunity to change it, is not the life any of us want to live.

    Can I also say that it is important to make the decision that you feel comfortable with. Not the one that family or friends or blog commenters or your community or wider society encourage(s) you to follow. The one that, deep down, feels right for you.

  15. Beautifully crafted post: so thoughtful and thought-provoking. I feel you really put us all in your shoes in a way that was fully relatable, yet unique for your particular situation. This decision is in both of your hands, but I think it's very wise to stop at the intersection, pause, admire the traffic and gather more data. All my best to you as you decide what to do.

  16. Here from the Blog Roundup. Love this post. I recognise almost everything you say here. You have managed to put it in just the right words. This is how I felt last year. (But then it hurt too much to write like this)
    And when I got to the part about baking I thought: Yes! That is me! I bake! I do that, borrow from the neighbours. So this means that donor egg is the right decision indeed! And then I suddenly deflated, because with cake I always repay the neighbours with a slice. But with an anonymous donor, who can I thank?
    Thank you for writing this (hope it didn't make you cry), I'll read it many times.

  17. A DE teenager is my biggest fear also. My thinking is if we give our children the knowledge of their conception then they can make the best choices for them. If he wants to go searching for his egg donor some day then I have come to accept that. I will always hold a special place in my son's heart whether I am his "real mother" or not.

    Now that Ant is almost 2 it is a little late to go backwards but we wouldn't trade him for a genetic child. We just love watching him grow and turn into the little man he was meant to be.

  18. Whatever choice you make will be scary. And--thank God--whichever path you choose you will have the most amazing partner at your side. I am so amazed by your relationship and so glad that you have him. I don't think parenthood could destroy it--change it, of course.

    I'm wishing you both peace and joy.

  19. I'm a DE Mom, and I can 100% relate to your position right now. After 7 years of trying I was actually okay with being child free...but I had to try one more time then I could live my life with the knowledge that I tried everything... Even after our daughter was born I thought my GD have we made a mistake, am I going to be a bad mom! But when I get her in bed at the end of the night, and I look around my not immaculate house, I'm filled with this overwhelming sense of accomplishment. And the intense love that I feel for our baby is indescribable! Plus I swear I find my DH sexier when he can make her giggle and squeal! Lol!
    I write all of this not to persuade you one way or the other, but to let you know that your thoughts and anxieties are real and normal! It's okay to be scared. Being parents is the hardest job in the world. And when you have to fight and struggle to achieve it, it gives you way too much time to over analyse everything!
    I wish you peace and strength!
    All my best

  20. You should be very proud, indeed, of where you and your husband have come from, what you have endured and overcome, and of what you will acheive together no matter which road you choose to take from here. SUCH a great post! My husband and I have one shot at a bio baby with our first and only IVF cycle scheduled for April. After that it's either DE, Adoption, or we give up and live child free. The mental anguish inherent in a decision as big as yours/ours seems larger than life... especially when you have plenty of time to think and overthink it through (and in that, I promise, you are not alone). Your well written words stem from thoughts and fears that so many of us can relate to... I hope you get at least as much comfort or confidence when you write your thoughts out as you give to us when you share them.