Saturday, August 22, 2009

1, 2, 3...KICK!

I was a ripe 13 year old when Karate Kid came out in the theaters. I remember thinking how Ralph Macchio was so cute. I remember singing the Bananarama song "Cruel Summer." But I also remember that infamous kick that knocked his opponent on his ass forever more. After much hard work, "Wipe on, wipe off," the Karate Kid triumphed.

So when A. wrote me yesterday to tell me our baby kicked for the first time, I felt triumph. Puttering around my apartment this morning on a lazy Saturday, it just hit me that this is a big deal. Our baby is moving around in there and is getting big enough for A. to feel in her belly. I felt (not literally) a physical connection with this kid. Every kick is a triumph, even when I have to imagine what that must feel like.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Surrogate children are psychologically well: study

It's always nice when mainstream articles can allay some fears that someday my child might have a total mental breakdown because of all this surrogacy and donor egg business. I worry my kid might have some sort of intense identity crisis, but what person doesn't go through identity issues? If it isn't about genetics, it can be about a whole assortment of things- gender, race, culture, career, sex, marriage, the whole gamut that life throws at you. Who's to say my kid is more likely to be a serial killer or go on a shooting rampage at their high school? But of course as a nervous mother-to-be, I google every once in a while to see what's out there on the subject. So when I found this article, it was reassuring to see this opening paragraph:

"Children born to a surrogate mother or conceived through donated sperm or a donated egg do just as well psychologically as counterparts who are naturally conceived, a study unveiled on Sunday said."

Usually I cringe when I see an article on surrogacy or donor egg because inevitably it's about a celebrity, or it's got nasty maniac comments posted after the article, or it's just sensational nonsense. But after starting this article I continued to read on:

"We found that the family types did not differ in the overall quality of the relationship between mothers and their children and fathers and their children," Casey said.

Mothers who had had their child through surrogacy and egg donation tended to be more sensitive to their child's worries and anxieties compared with donor insemination mothers and natural conception mothers, but the difference was minor, she added.

As for the child's view of family relationships, children of all backgrounds placed their mother or father in the closest circle with the same frequency.

There was no significant difference between family types when it came to self-esteem."

I am sure there are many arguments out there that try to say the opposite of this article. I have read about children of donor parents feeling angry about not being told the truth. I have read about donor kids feeling orphaned by no knowledge of the donor. I have read some moral and religious arguments that make me gage even as I write these words acknowledging their existence. But I can only work with the life I can give this child. The only thing in my power is to make sure this child is loved completely and truthfully. So I am putting aside all my past fertility cluster fucks and believing that this kid is going to be okay. After all that ruminating about chromosomal problems, we decided to just do the AFP blood work. If that comes out bad we'll consider an amnio but at this point we aren't planning on one. We'll just have to run on faith that not only will this kid dodge the down's syndrome bullet, but to the best of our abilities will also be "psychologically well."

FOR FULL ARTICLE GO TO: Surrogate Children are psychologicaly well; study - AFP

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

AMA: Advanced Maternal Age or just Appearing More Advanced?

Upon returning from a quick visit with A. and our fabulous 15 week 5 day baby, we were presented with the option for an amnio. Not that there have been any indicators for problems, but if you want to do one, now is the time. Now, hmmm, wasn't there a very good reason I used a 26 year old egg donor and a 31 year old surrogate? Oh yeah, to precisely LOWER such risk factors as downs syndrome and miscarriages and endless testing. So if I was 26 years old right now and knocked up, would this same doctor be telling me all these risks and making me decide if I would terminate or risk losing a healthy pregnancy with an amnio? Probably not. He would say you are at low risk at 26 years old and would probably imply that there wasn't a pressing need for an amnio unless there is family history. He'd then proceed to scoot me out the door.

But I am not 26 years old. I am a 38 year old who got another woman pregnant with another woman's egg. So does this change anything? Not really. But does this pregnancy somehow appear more risky because I appear to be at advanced maternal age even though I had nothing to do with this pregnancy? Shouldn't I be getting that same scoot out the door with relief that I am young and low risk? Instead I am feeling like a woman who has to decide between two risks - a down syndrome baby or a miscarriage of a healthy pregnancy from an amnio. I thought my options between horrible and extra horrible were finally over now that I was pregnant. So why do I feel pressure to do an amnio? Is it the worst case scenario in me always believing that I will be the one that always falls in that 1% chance? Way to set a person into unnecessary panic.

So this is making me feel rather advanced in maternal age even though my pregnancy is not. I mean really, at this junction what really matters about my age? I'm completely cut out of the reproductive part of this story so isn't my age meaningless? At worst people could call me an "old" mother. But sticks and stones, a-holes, sticks and stones. By my own body clock, yes, I am 38 years old. I will be 48 when this child is 10 years old and at the starting line of adolescent frenzy. I will be 58 when the child is 20 years old and finishing up college. I will be 68 when the child is 30 years old and I start badgering him or her to get married so I can see some grand kids before I croak. I will be 78 when the child is 40 years old, and God help us all, hopefully their sperm or eggs haven't shriveled up like mine had by then.

After 3 years of IVF, ectopics, miscarriages, am I prepared to raise a donor egg child that might have downs syndrome? Nope. But am I equally prepared to lose a healthy pregnancy that we've spend thousands of dollars on and went through emotional chaos about because I was given an option for an amnio? Nope. So I am left to soul search through this trying to believe that I'm not going to get screwed over again and again and again. I should be at low risk as a 26 year old, but I am so used to being at high risk for everything. Don't I at least deserve to reap the benefits of my egg donor after giving up so much of myself and my sanity to have this child?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Thaw

Today was the first time I felt like it's summer. After doing a lot of traveling and gazing outside my window at heavy rain, it was great to just walk around today. Enjoying the sunny warmth and city bustle made me feel more officially in the season of popsicles, open toe shoes, and breezy afternoon drinks in New York City. I started to finally feel a thaw in my present state. I think the coldest parts of my infertility trauma are starting to liquify. Something in me is melting because things that I didn't think I could handle are happening. I was able to talk to a friend who I had cut out of my life for two years because she seriously disappointed me by the way she told me she was pregnant. I am able to see friends with newborns and feel happy for them and be excited to experience the same thing. I am able to talk to people about the excitement of my baby coming. I am able to look at pregnant women without wanting to curse at the heavens. Who am I?

It's a good thing, this normalization. I resist it as much as possible because I don't feel ready to believe that these weird and horrible experiences are behind me. I seem to want to hold on to my war wounds. But the start of my fists unclenching is probably the first sign of softening. The venom I have toward the universe, toward fertile people, toward my bad luck is starting to become a little less poisonous. I am allowing myself to feel giddy about seeing A. and our 15 week ultrasound this tuesday. It may seem strange to have to remind myself of this little blessing growing in her, but it's also not so inconceivable when you use a surrogate and donor egg to go through your day and not remember you are pregnant. It's quite easy in fact. So I am marking my weeks of pregnancy and I am starting to be able to dream a little bit about life with this new baby.

A friend who went through IF and now has a baby said she is starting to try to join "the mommy club" and I wonder how this is going to work for me. I am so irritated by the idea of talking shop with other mothers who don't have a clue about what I went through but I can't avoid everyone who hasn't been through IF. But right now fellow infertiles seems like the safest people to be around. I know I will want to have other mothers to bond with, but wouldn't it be fun to have a club for mothers who have gone through IF. We could name it "MIFTED"- Mothers and Infertility: The Extraordinary Dames. Or "MIRTH" - Mothers and Infertility Rock the House. Maybe even a secret handshake so we know who each other are.