Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Blogiversary! A year in review

video
Just as I was contemplating my battle with time in the last post, I realized it's been one whole year since I started my blog. Yes, it's my blogiversary! As I created my video "year in review," I see that when and where I began this blog is in some ways exactly the same as now, in that I have no baby, but in other ways completely different. I have more losses behind me. I have endured more disappointment and more fears come true. But I also have come to see myself as courageous. I have started on a new track with surrogacy and I feel that I am on the final road. It's close. Whatever this conclusion is, it's close. I don't kid myself anymore in thinking that the next IVF will work on me. That dangling carrot has been cut and I now seek greener pastures with third party help. Yes, H-E-L-P. Bringing in a gestational carrier and potentially an egg donor or adoption is the last phase of this journey and I believe that one of these will be my answer. 

So I thank all of you who have followed me over this year and continue to support me on this next cycle with my gestational carrier. Whereas last year I bitterly made IVF Christmas cards, [some of my favorites below:]


this year I've been able put aside some bitterness and look forward to 2009. I look forward to it because I know in my heart that this journey is going to end. I won't beat a dead horse. We will move on quickly to the next option if it doesn't work. I am just keeping my eye on the end, the finish line, the credit roll. On that note, I am wishing everyone a joyous and IVF stress free holiday and a blessed new year!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Time Capsule 2018

Time hasn't been a friend to me. Time didn't let me meet my true love and marry until I was 33. Time let me waste at least three years at a job I was unhappy at. Time let me fool myself into believing I could get pregnant in my mid-30s. Time let three years of trying to conceive slip away like greasy slimy eels. Time continues to deceive me on a regular basis, moving at lightening speed - aging me and my eggs - but then hitting the brakes for those ripe moments of waiting for betas to double or decline... waiting for your next IVF cycle... waiting for the heartache to stop... waiting for a god damn baby. So "Father Time" has been a real smart ass with me, playing with the forward and rewind buttons of my life with that "nanny nanny boo boo" taunt also known as "hurry up and wait." 

A couple months ago a friend of mine opened up his 12th grade time capsule. Enclosed he found remnants of his life as a teenager about to embark on the next stage of his life. He enjoyed this unsealing of the past so much that he sent a request to friends encouraging them to create a time capsule for 2008 that would be opened 10 years from now in 2018.

So I decided to play a little game of tag with Father Time. "You're it!" I say and see how fast you can catch me. Will it be 2018 before I know it? Will the ten years be a slow melodic dance or will I just be doing some aerobic hyper-speed-Flashdance-"She's a maniac"-running step the whole time? 

So I started to piece together my time capsule. I had my usual crafty fun making my collaged box to hold these precious elements of my present that will be buried for the future. Wrapped around the box I made a paper seal that I will break in 2018. But now that it's almost the end of the year, I'm having to finalize its contents to prepare for the final sealing. Among many things you are suppose put in this capsule, like letters from friends that you will open 10 years later, you also have to write a letter to yourself. Everything else required to put in the time capsule I can get done, but I've been really sitting on that letter to myself. 

Writing a letter to me, myself and I to be read 10 years from now somehow scares me. I am scared of what I will be in 10 years. I'm afraid to talk to that 47 year old self, imagining her from my current 37 year old miserable childless state. Do I hope, dream, and assume in the letter that by 47 I will be a mother? What words can I say to myself with the expectations that all this pain has made me blossom into a person I actually like at 47. But what if I open the letter at 47 years old and I am not a mother? What if surrogacy fails, donor egg fails, and for some insane reason I can't adopt? I feel like I have to put a footnote in the letter saying, "Well, if your worst fears have come true and you are still not a mother at 47, I guess all I can say is that sucks ass. We tried our best, and boy you must be so incredibly depressed right now reading this letter." The truth is that I am really operating these days like a shell of who I was 3 years ago, so I guess I am not sure what sort of monster I will be in 10 years if none of this pain and effort got me anywhere. But I know, I know, I know, that's so negative and defeatist. So hence, I'm stuck with not being able to write myself a letter. 

I'm hoping I hit a more inspired moment in these last weeks before 2009. I want to tell myself that I believe within 10 years new beginnings can happen. I want to really believe all this waiting will come to something. But there are so many times I feel like giving Father Time the finger for really fucking with my head, so much so that I am now afraid to hope for my 47 year old self. I am trying to convince myself that despite feeling like a stagnant lump through infertility that something has to be changing within me, in fundamental ways, that will someday reveal itself. I read that poem "The Wait" by Russell Kelfer and whether you believe in God or not, it did bring comfort. Especially this paragraph:

You'd never know should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But oh, the loss if I lost what I'm doing in you.

So as I mull over the meaning of my particular wait, I read this poem every once in a while. I listen to "I am waiting" by the Rolling Stones, and I sometimes stare at the dictionary definition of wait. I can see the small nuances, especially in these two that stick out to me: 1. "to remain temporarily neglected or unrealized, (the chores can wait)" or 2. "to be ready and available (slippers waiting by the bed)." Most of the time I feel like #1, but I have to remind myself that at the same time I am #2 - I am ready and available, like slippers waiting by the bed.

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INSTRUCTIONS FOR THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A TIME CAPSULE

On the outside
A container—like a coffee canister, lunch box, or shoe box—decorated to project your image.

On the inside (suggested not required)
Your container will hold the following things.
• a list: list the five words or phrases which you say the most often or which are your favorites.
• a sketch: write a sketch of your personality. (What kind of person are you now?)
• a newspaper or magazine: write your own notes and annotations in the margins.
• a page: finish this thought, "If I could change one thing about myself..." Why?
• a list: make a list of your favorite things and/or things that make you feel good.
• a thing: put something in here that you think will be valuable in the future.
• a confession: write a narrative about something from your past that you are a little ashamed of and that you feel guilty about. Tell how and why you did it. Tell how other people reacted to you and what you did.
• a forecast: predict the future. Describe what you think the world will be like when you open this.
• a story: write a narrative about something that happened to you in the last few years that seems important now.
• a scorecard: make a scorecard listing the goals you have for yourself in the next ten years. Record the date you think that you might accomplish this goal. When you open the time capsule, you can score yourself on how many goals you have reached.
• a code: write a code of beliefs for yourself. What do you believe in?
• a photo: include a photo of yourself now.
• a surprise: explain this project to five of your close friends. Tell them when you plan to open your time capsule. Ask them to write you a message and seal it in an envelope. (Your friends could include other things in the envelope, too, if they wanted.) Include these surprise messages in your time capsule.
• a letter: write a letter to the future you. In this letter give yourself advice from your point of view now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The power of images


I was elated to get an email forwarded to me about the recent New York Times Magazine article "Her Body, My Baby" by Alex Kuczynski. As I read through her very honest account of infertility and surrogacy, it was in many ways like reading my own story. A rush of satisfaction came over me as I thought about the power of the New York Times to inform and educate those who don't know the struggles of infertility and what it means to be an intended parent working with a gestational carrier. 

Unfortunately, I read this article in an email with no photos and no comments. I made the mistake of clicking on the link later on to see the photos of both the author and her surrogate and the 404 mostly nasty comments. Boy, I wish I had stuck to just the text. What was most striking to me was how different the article came across just as text. When I read it I only focused on the voice of this writer, her very familiar struggles with IVF failures, and her choice to move to surrogacy. Granted she was preaching to the choir when it comes to my views, but I felt it finally put that story out there for people to understand surrogacy as a real and wonderful option. But when I looked at the photos and the slew of violent reactions against this story, it made me remember- "Oh yeah, I live in this world, not the infertility world in my brain." I mean who am I kidding, even without the photos what was I expecting?

Countless times I read the words "disgusting," "spoiled," "consumer," "self-obsessed," "shallowness," "disturbing," among many others in the comment section. I didn't see the hard copy version of the magazine, but the two photos posted online are clearly the main culprit. Why choose photos juxtaposing a surrogate who is barefoot and pregnant and an intended mother posed in front of a beautiful home with a black nurse in uniform standing there waiting for orders? Was this some sort of bait to rile up nasty comments - a trap to bring out the worst in people? Or was this a very very ignorant editor who decided on these shots? Was this something the author overlooked or failed to keep watch of? I don't know, but I do know that as an intended parent it's frustrating to see a very honest article paired with photos that reek of classist and racial stereotypes. This was a chance to really give a more human perspective on the subject of surrogacy and perhaps break the countless assumptions people have about infertility and surrogacy, but instead the message got lost. It got lost in the images, lost in the money, lost in what people already want to believe.

So I am terribly disappointed. I had hoped that having a New York Times reporter bring her experience, my experience, and many other people's experiences to such a huge audience might broaden the world's perspective. Perhaps it did on some fronts, but it is still unbelievable the judgements and hatred that this subject brews up in people. I would have thought the author already knew this. I would have thought she'd take great pains to not give off the same old impression that women seeking fertility treatments (or worse choose surrogacy or egg donor) are selfish, rich, obsessed women that have no perspective on the world's struggles. I'd like to believe that she somehow didn't have a say on the photos, but she posed for them so how could she not know? How could she not see what was being created? It's pretty predictable at this point that the general public is happy to jump all over this issue. The fertiles just get self-righteous waving the flag of disgust over this unnecessary "consumption" or the "why not adopt" cries. People roll their eyes at a woman who feels "entitled" to a child. Even parents who adopt commented on the article taking offense to the idea that she wanted a genetic child of her own and therefore she's somehow looking down on adoption. You can't win.

It's strange to me. It will always be strange to me why people think that other people's reproductive decisions are fair game for everyone to judge. I'm not sure what kind of article will erase that ridiculous tendency. But I certainly don't give a shit what position people have sex to conceive. I don't give a shit if you decide to just have one or hundred children. I don't give a shit if you choose to give birth underwater or in the most prestigious hospital you can find. I don't give a shit if you are having kids with your first husband or your fortieth. I don't give a shit if you choose to have a child when you are 18 or 50. I don't give a shit what your church says. I don't give a shit.