Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Two conversations

Some of this is review, but I am nothing if I am not a teller of ancient history. In fact, my new EEG assessment done Sunday by a different practitioner shows that I am a thought powerhouse with no rudder, as if that were really news. I ruminate, because I am. Now, however, I'll be working with someone more effective to retrain my brain in the near future after I get my own equipment. (Although I suspected the clinician who gave me this pro bono was less than bright/professional/competent, I am hearing about her from others and having much more confirmed.)

Additionally, as a rationale for not giving up on the history, repeat posting about stuff like this is justified because I have a lot of new subscribers who came along after I took down most of my archives last year.

Some of this will probably be offensive and not IVF PC, but I cannot help the way I feel based on MY life experiences and my perspective. Please don't get angry if my opinions differ from yours. Some of this has taken two and a half years of blogging to admit. And I've already sat on this post three additional days.

I had two conversations recently, one with an online friend and one with my Mor.mon walking friend, Norma. Both of these friends are pretty damn blunt, but I understand blunt.

Although she had no idea of what she stirred, the first (you'll recognize yourself, my friend) asked, after I'd said something about resigning myself to my SIF plight, if I would prefer a fulfilling relationship or another pregnancy. Given my circumstances, the answer is easy and has always been: a fulfilling relationship.

I've had only one pregnancy, never even got the chance or hope to succeed again. I've also never had a soul mate and don't consider myself too good at finding appropriate men. However, at age 44 and 10 months, which am I mostly likely to succeed at now? I am nothing if not pragmatic.

Even when I was ttc with ex and was scheduled for IVF in January 2000, I chose to work on our relationship when he suddenly decided to pull the plug about two months away from IVF beginning. Okay, October 19, 1999, if you must, as we were riding home from my excruciating HSG. As a result, every resentment and grievance fell away and all I did was focus on my family with a full heart. Of course, that didn't work, because what became his prime excuse later (my weight gain over the next months) was precisely because of the fact that I wasn't doing IVF or breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant; I finally went and got a new psychiatrist to prescribed me ela.vil so I could sleep for the first time in a few years. Poof! 30 pounds. That precious, heavy, heavy, heavy sleep felt good, but it didn't feed what my midlife crisis husband needed.

So I completely ditched the baby idea in order to work on my marriage, even if that didn't happen either. I wanted an intact family more than anything.

Six months after my divorce was final, I took up with P. After we were together six months and I was turning 42, we stopped using birth control, which lasted the better part of two years. After about six months of unprotected sex, he sold his condo and had cash, ex announced his new wife's pregnancy, I was devastated, and P offered IVF to me. It was his idea, then he drug his feet over the next month or two and pulled out.

Yes, I've been dumped at the doorstep of IVF by two different men.

Ex's concern (ha!) was the dividing of the 'wealth' (another ha!) that would go to our son. P's concern was about his capabilities as a father, yes, a valid concern and I am proud of him for admitting it, but it was a fear I felt could be cushioned greatly by a child having me as a mother.

However, I ditched neither man because he didn't desire a child. For one, we stopped trying, for the other we continued to try anyway, figuring it was fruitless, though. I loved both of them more than what I had begun to think of as a pie-in-the-sky proposition, pregnancy.

In essence, my goal to have a child requires a union I have not been so lucky to find. With ex's job travel schedule, I feel like I raised J on my own. Only with us separating and his job changing has he become a constant, a decent father and actually a good ex-husband. With P, I had no idea about the depth of his insecurities, his two additional marriages, his ability to cheat on me, how bad his teenaged daughter could get, the dysfunction of his greater family, etc...

So, as much as I wanted a sibling for my son, it is probably best that these relationships did not produce one, regardless of how strong a mother I am.

Because the relationship is primary to me, I could not fathom myself doing DI as a single woman. I've essentially raised a kid on my own and don't want to do it again. With my son, I was so lucky to have hourly care for $3/hr at a military post, so I did get breaks and still felt like a person when ex was away for extended periods. My mom friends were so jealous of this arrangement, but then I was jealous they'd leave the kid(s) with daddy and got to go to gatherings in the evenings.

Another aspect of DI that differs from divorce is the idea of visitation. I don't think sperm banks take a kid back for Wednesday nights and every other weekend. To be a decent mother, I absolutely need some time off the parenting clock and DI would offer none. I'd need support.

It only follows that the idea of DE plus DI now would not work, in part also because to me the idea of actually getting pregnant is so far-fetched, regardless of whose eggs are used. I do not think having a blocked tube explains completely why I never got pregnant (or knew I was pregnant) again. Maybe I was hypothyroid all along. Maybe it was the endometriosis, even though I was declared clean (ha!) in 2001. My beautiful, morphologically perfect uterus would only work once.

As I said, I must admit my desire for a child within the context of a relationship is primary, but I will say that a biological connection is quite important to me, too. Perhaps it is gauche to admit this. My son has over 500 known grandparents going back over 20 generations; I think it would be unfair to introduce another child to such a disparity in a people valuing family history like this. I am a genealogist. I cannot help it. I like that my son looks like me, that he's a math/science kid like me, unlike his father. I like his distinctive, ethnic red hair from both of us and the way he ducks his head and wrinkles his forehead like his father. I am a biologist. I like biology.

It's not that I couldn't love a child that's not mine genetically, though. (The idea of a new nongenetically-related family member - i.e. a step child or new DIL - is very exciting because it gives a whole new family to research!) Not by a long shot. I have.

Although the question was specific to pregnancy, I'm going to cover adoption, too, because I am certainly not anti-adoption. I don't think I've ever discussed this here, but if I have, it'd been flushed from the archives anyway.

Earlier in our marriage (ca 1991 and 1995), we did consider adoption twice: once when he went to Korea for over two years and we agreed (he brought it up) that if he were presented with the prospect of a child, we'd pursue it (back then, military people would adopt this way) and, secondly, when he was in management post-first-military-segment and an employee approached him about taking the baby of her newly pregnant teenaged daughter, because she desperately did not want to raise a grandchild. She even sent home a picture of her daughter with my husband to show how pretty the girl was, what good genes she had.

Both of these are baby-dropped-in-your-lap scenarios from before my fertility was even tested. The first never materialized, perhaps because ex was busy instead incurring gambling debts in the Officer's Club, beginning his mid-life crisis before he was 30. For the second, we'd said we'd take the grandchild of the employee, but I did not get vested in the idea or meet the daughter so as to preserve my sanity. (I'd met the mother briefly some time well prior to this.) I think people assumed us to be infertile because we'd been married nine years by then, so I didn't consider it illogical to be approached. We'd not decided to pursue trying for pregnancy before then, were loose about the idea of children all together, so I had not had a sense of loss about my fertility yet, nor was I exactly chomping at the bit yet to start a family via pregnancy. To be honest, I feared pregnancy, plus I was in the midst of 3.5 years sans period due to endometriosis treatment anyway.

As the girl's pregnancy progressed, the boy's family became involved, then the boy's mother retired and said she'd care for this and another infant grandchild during the day. However, within months after the birth, all had fallen through and the baby was with her mother and grandmother. It was precisely what they'd tried to avoid, although I do not doubt at all that the child is well cared for. The employee/grandmother was truly initiating it out of love of her own daughter, wanting her daughter to have an easier life/education than that of a single mom, and knew of us and the good home she felt we could provide.

However, at present, I would not pursue adoption or fostering, because I would not want to do it by myself. It is that simple. I could raise the idea of finances (I've/we've always been strapped) concerning any of this, but the bottom line is having the relationship. I want to parent as a team. My philosophy is like a blues song: if Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy. A mama required to cover each and every base of a single mom's life would not be happy, at least not in my house. I am not a martyr.

To quickly touch again on the step child means of getting children, I have certainly demonstrated how willing I was to stick my neck out for another's child, how I could fend for that child as if my own. It's not a matter of loving a child, it's a matter of being able to be good parents together in the relationship. Obviously, that was lacking with P. I read a quote of my own the other day: "My role was to fix, but to not make anybody feel bad for things needing fixing so badly." That's not a healthy step relationship and I could not change it.

On to my second conversation... I presented my online friend's question (which was not answered with this ridiculous degree of thoroughness) to Norma as a conversation was skirting toward the issue anyway. Norma is rather simple in her world view and conveys that with a distinct lack of tact. I love her anyway.

In essence, she called me a hypocrite a couple ways over.

Bordering on angry, she wondered how I could have wanted a child with P knowing what sort of daughter he had produced and what kind of father he was. The easy answer is with me being the mother. For one thing, unlike in L's case, I would not desert my child. I would challenge the father to behave like a proper father and P did actually learn from me. I also would not leave her to be raised by his alcoholic, psychotic mother. At the time, I didn't realize how bad his family was or how much addictions run through it, but I truly felt that a child with a strong and present mother could overcome almost anything. As I write this now, however, I realize in retrospect the craziness that is his family and how the child would have been a little less mine somehow. (That alone is actually an argument for DI, I know.)

Secondly, Norma cattily agreed that I obviously put the relationship as primary, because she questioned how I could possibly really want a baby if babies and pregnant women send me off the deep end. She concluded that I must really love relationships more than babies if I don't love ALL babies. Without exploding, I told her that thousands of women have PTSD as a result of fertility issues. There are lots of triggers, but others' babies bring about a severe sense of loss, a lingering reminder of a missing personal gain. Other people's babies do not bring joy to many women, women like me. I am not alone in this. She expressed surprise that others are like me. Like I said, she's narrow in her scope.

I hope these explanations satisfied her. She is SIF with an 11yo son, probably spent 2 years trying for another before her very long marital separation. Opposite me, she is the consummate baby ogler, always offering to carry or entertain infants. With her being Mo.rman, she gets plenty of chances. If I were Mor.mon, I would have plenty of chances at PTSD triggers.

Good for her to have such a resolve around babies. Maybe her faith helps and my absolute lack of faith hinders.

Actually, I chalk up my reactions to PTSD in a couple ways beyond the vision of babies and bellies. My marriage ended, him acting like a teenager those last 17 few years. Combine that with my engagement ending and my later realization that he'd cheated on me for six months then promptly married her. Well, those are enough relationship PTSD events for a lifetime. Add to that my one, sole, only, single pregnancy, my miracle of a son who was conceived just under the wire two weeks before his father began a nine month deployment, which was the beginning of the end of our marriage and, ultimately, our chances for children. And being dumped at the IVF alter twice... well, it's all baggage I am beginning to let loose, even as I harp on it now. It took EEG and altering brain waves to get there. I have made so much progress, but I have a long way to go.

So my answers again: I am too old. I am single. I only have one child born of my only pregnancy. I can ultimately change one of these things and neither of the others. I have to be okay with that. I don't have to be single. And I can be happy as the mother of one nonetheless.

To continue my rant a little, as of our conversation last night, Norma seems to think that I need relationships, must be in one, require a man, and her religious background equates that to a need of sex. For one thing, I like meeting people, expanding my horizons, and getting out of the house, so dating suits me as a social outlet - I don't go to church services or church dances (what I call the pot luck mentality for maintaining a sense of community) like she does as she is seeking her social outlets, not to mention I don't have a water cooler to hang out. Further, for me, sex is an expression within a relationship; I do not nor have I ever prowled bars looking for sex. Conversation, yes. Sex, no. I am not motivated by sex outside of dating or a relationship; it is a corner turned once I am dating someone. (Nor was I motivated, as I mentioned above and as she accused again, to stay with any man for the hope of pregnancy; I have demonstrated that I stuck around after well they pulled out of IVF.)

What happens with me and seeing someone is that I am an information gatherer. I know I am not perfect and I don't think others have to be either. It doesn't take one red flag to turn the tide; it takes a small collection as I gather information about overall compatibility. Granted, I need to learn to call things quits earlier, before anyone is attached, but I also need to do so without feeling, um, like I'm throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


DD said...

Obviously, simple questions do not beget simple answers. And I guess the question wasn't that easy...

I also do not enjoy seeing pregnant women or new babies, but that certainly doesn't make me a baby-hater. It raises that "It should have been me..." internal torture within most IF women, especially those who have had pregnancy losses. Yes, life would certainly be easier if I could be happily mesmerized by another's protruding abdomen or if I could make eye contact with the baby peering over its mother's shoulder at church, but I can't. And it worries me that I may never be able to.

Excellent post, my dear.

Cricket said...

Thanks, DD.

I sweated it, but I took out the controvertial paragraph about pregnancy losses, yet left in all the disclaimers. We are literally and figuratively on opposite sides of that fence, meaning your "especially" part isn't quite accurate to me. I hurt in the same fashion; it's just that I have years of daily dates, not specific due date(s), to mourn. It doesn't make my losses any less real. Unanswered questions always hurt.

Anonymous said...

Good post. And um, what DD said, with a 'I'm sure Norma is a nice person, but I could only take her in small doses' caveat.

Anonymous said...

AS I turned 46 I realize having another baby is probably out of this world. And yet I still want one. My first was an infertility baby and 6 ms. later a surprise baby. that every doctor said I could not conceive. Even though both my sons are autistic.
I understand the pull, like you Cricket. I wish it would go away sometimes. Being a mother was what I wanted to do all my life.
Is a sperm donor out of the question for you?

Cricket said...

I do think DI is out of the question. I want a relationship and a family, not just a kid. Besides, I doubt if DI would do the trick. I feel like a lost cause, but I am getting used to the idea.

Well-heeled mom said...

Great post. I never wanted to be a single mother, either, so I guess for me a relationship is paramount. As far as hating babies, what a bunch of bunk. Just because I can't have any of my own doesn't mean I should yearn to hold everyone else's baby. Unless the other mother is VERY close to me, I'd rather not.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I came via Creme de la Creme. I am really enjoying hearing everyone's perspectives. Thanks for posting.