Thursday, October 2, 2008

Good-Bye Family Tree

As I walked down my apartment hallway last week trying to keep the pain of this recent loss from spilling over my entire body and collapsing, I noticed the walls covered by family photos. One side of the hallway is dedicated to my family history and the opposite wall is a portrait of my husband's family. I had made this collage of family photos so long ago because I had this sense of pride about my family and wanted them all close by me. It's like a gallery of darling candid shots of my nieces and nephews, old pictures of my parents as dashing lovebirds, and me and my siblings as cute toddlers. I particularly love the old photos of my grandparents. I never even met my paternal grandparents but I like to look at that old black and white dusty photo of them and imagine who they were in a country so far away. What were they thinking when they stood there staring blankly at the camera? Did those two fresh faces ever expect to die young and have their children eventually immigrate to America to spawn us spoiled brats stuffing our faces with cheetos and watching Brady Bunch? A rush of sadness came over me as a flash of this family history spun out of control in front of me. It all stops here. My husband and I may not continue this family tree. We could be that branch on the genealogy chart that's the dead end. 

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to have a biological child. I've already given up the idea of carrying a child myself and now I've been trying to rethink what my own family could mean. I've been so locked into my past, my own childhood, and my own blood. To top it off my husband is the last male of his family so if we don't have a child, let alone a son, it's the true end of his family name. We all know that in earlier times I would have already been shown the door and 2nd or 3rd wife would be taking over the procreating. So I know why it pains my husband when I mention adoption. I know he doesn't want to really face that he may not be able to continue his blood lines or his great smile. It pains me too. 

It may seem premature for me to give up hope of a genetic child since maybe the surrogacy road will work for us. But I can't help feel that something is probably wrong with my eggs. I've had 4 pregnancies and none of them survived. They don't really know if it's my uterus or my eggs. But I'm not willing to spend another two years trying with bad eggs. I've thought about if I could really handle donor eggs. At least if our child is part of my husband then can I be happy? I think I can. I need this journey to end. I can't do this much longer. 

I've thought about all these options a billion times through the years. But now they are quite real. They aren't in that space in my brain called "last resort." These are my options now. I know it's pointless to keep asking why bad things are happening to me. Every time I get pregnant and I am faced with the limbo of "it could be good or it could be awful," I manage to find an online buddy whose in the same boat. It's always a brief encounter where we find each other in our moment of desperation with similar threats and then sure enough things go well for her and my pregnancy tanks. These women are just blinks. For a split second we have the same prospects of good things and then we quickly diverge. It's weird. Could I really be that cursed? But when I get into the space of feeling like I am being denied, victimized, and deprived of what others get immediately (or eventually) then I fall into deep down basement darkness.

So take the photos off the walls! Reinvent what your future will be. Give up this notion of what family is suppose to be. I'm not going to have a conventional family, period. I won't be able to get pregnant with IVF and then practically be like everyone else (at least from the outside). I am going to have a baby with either surrogacy, egg donor, or adoption. I'll have a couple extra people in the mix who helped give my child life. I know I have a higher chance now of not having a biological child. I will have to get special books and join support parenting groups to make sure my kid doesn't grow up scarred or emotionally freaked out by their birth story. This is more real to me now than ever. I close my eyes and see a couple cute kids running around the apartment that pretty much look like me and my husband. I am trying to get use to them not being biologically connected to me. I am trying to understand the greater love that goes beyond narcissistic pleasure. 

So I painted the hallway walls a light gray. A true blank slate. 


N said...

Hi Tabi - Thanks for your comment on my blog! Please feel free to link to any of my posts for bridges. I would love to be part of the site.

I actually run a genealogy company that I started because I have been fascinated by genealogy my whole life. So, yep, get what you are saying completely. When people would say, "just adopt", I would have visions of my meticulously researched family tree broken off on our limb forever. It's difficult to grapple with. And I don't have an answer for how to appropriately grapple. Fortunately surrogacy did end up bringing us a biological answer. The only thing I can say is, don't give up before you try surrogacy (your history to me looks like more of a body issue than an egg issue). Don't grieve the loss of biological children before the loss occurs. I put myself through a lot of heartache, convincing myself it wouldn't work, and it was for nothing. It's hard, but try to refocus your energy onto this next journey. I look forward to following!

Mrs.X said...

I am an only child and the only grandchild on one side of the family - the genes would end with me. I find that heartbreaking knowing who came before me. I know the pressure that you put on yourself to carry on the genetic material that makes you who you are. You want that smile, those eyes, that voice.

But, what if you weren't meant to have that? It's a terrible question for anyone to answer, but I think it makes you stronger for even going through the thought process. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but I have had so many opportunities to really look inside of myself and ask, what is most important - to have any child or a child that is of my genes?

I still haven't answered it. But, I do like your idea of a blank slate - make your family what you want it to be.

Jaymee said...

I am adopted and I am using an egg donor and surrogate to have a family for myself and my husband. It was hard for me to get used to not having a biological child; even though I know for a fact that who loves you is so much more important than who shares DNA. As a child I always thought that when I had my own children I would have someone who looked like me. It was always important for me to know who I looked like.

At some point I had to make the decision that I was not going to have a biological child. It took my doctors telling me that a decision had to be made within a week for me to finally decide. For me the question was do I want to have a baby or be a mother? Sure using alternative methods of family making is going to come with a bit more explanation then again all children come with their individual challenges.

You will make the decision that is right for you and your family. You also have every right to feel sorry and sad for yourself, something sacred has been taken from you and that gives you the right to scream, yell, cry, and throw an all out temper tantrum.

Thank you so much for sharing your feelings about this, it is not easy to be honest about them sometimes.

Duck2 said...

All of this is so hard, and when I try to explain it to someone who has not been faced with this, surrogacy or the highway, donor eggs or nothing, well, it's hard from them to truely understand. I get a lot of well, why don't you just adopt, not just from fertiles, but infertiles too, they don't understand the deep longing,the need that my husband has to carry on the genes, or the incredible painful burdan, the guilt that I carry with me.
You're not alone.

Shinejil said...

Wow. A striking visual symbol for all you're going through, TABI. As I've been repeating like a mantra of late: If you can't change your fate, redecorate.

alicia said...

wow, what a crazy place life has taken you to. I can't imagine the thoughts and plans and fears going through your head and your dear husbands. I love how you ended this post though, how you said you can see your family, built just a different way then most families!

Very awesome post tabi, as usual.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for everything you have gone through, and everything that is still to come.

But you do still have options, and there is still a very good chance that surrogacy will work, with your own genetics in the mix!!

I really hope you find the right surro-angel soon, and that you get a BFP with YOUR egg, and your hubby's sperm.

Crossing everything that your family comes to you soon!!!


luna said...

tabi, just catching up with my blog reading. this post really strikes a chord. I can't seem to eliminate the family tree references, but I have to accept that our bio line ends with us. not easy.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Tabi,
Throughout these years of IF hell, I've found myself wondering over and over WHY DH and I were the ones picked by fate to be the ones who might not be able to pass along their genetic material. Of course there is no answer to that, no good reason. When we contemplated adoption, my head and even most of my heart knew that being a parent was the most important thing, but it hurt horribly to acknowledge that we wouldn't be passing along, well, us.

I agree with N to give surrogacy a chance. I appreciate having one more chance to try to pass along our genes. It's a painful, difficult, uncomfortable topic, and I thank you for sharing your feelings. Too many people don't understand.

Working Girl said...

"They aren't in that space in my brain called "last resort". These are my options now."

Since A.R.T. hasn't worked for me, I am faced with the decision to pursue adoption or donor eggs. And, I am stuck. I have no idea what to do. I never expected to be in this place and to be faced with such tough decisions.

But, I will make a decision and I will move forward just as you have. Staying stuck is not an option.

Tabi, thank you for your kind comment on my blog!!!