If you have been reading since I was pregnant with Baby G, then you might remember that I developed pericarditis when I was 35w along and had to be hospitalized. I wrote all about it here.
Once I was accurately diagnosed and began treatment, I did start feeling better within a few days. I hope that is the case now, as I’ve got it again.
I woke up at 3 this morning with a similar tightness in my chest, pain when breathing. At first I thought that maybe the two Advil I’d taken before going to bed maybe got stuck and were causing irritation, but by sun up, I knew better.
We’re with an HMO (a very good one, one that I can’t imagine ever leaving) and when I called in with chest pain, even though I told them I thought it was a recurrence, they, of course, wanted me to go to the ER. I declined and was able to get into see a primary care physician this morning.
Luckily, my husband had a light day at work so he was able to take a sick day to be with Baby G. I cannot bend over, I can’t pick him up, without excruciating pain, so we were going to be up a creek if he wasn’t able to stay home (I’d already reached out to our 3 sitters and none were available today).
I’m home now and have taken my first dose of meds. I feel like shit, mostly from the pain, but also from being up since 3. It literally hurts to breathe and a deep breath is absolutely out of the question. Same for coughing, sneezing, or laying down at any sort of incline. I have to either stand or sit straight up. It’s just a very disconcerting condition.
The first time, they said it was possible that I might be predisposed to having it again. This time it was brought on by a raging sinus infection that started a couple of weeks ago, but that I thought was allergies. So, I’m treating that, too.
I am so happy the baby is on the outside as the treatment (800 mg Motrin/3 x day) is contraindicated during pregnancy. My husband picked up Wor Wonton soup which is deliriously good as the first thing I’ve eaten today.
Two years ago today*, I transferred three thawed embryos that hadn’t developed beyond their cell counts when they were frozen:
The only thing that gave me a shred of hope was that they were all alive and one was 8 cells. But it seemed the deck was stacked way against us and that we’d finally and heartrendingly reached the end of the line. I remember my RE saying, ‘it’s not all doom and gloom’, but it sure felt that way.
One of those balls of cells became him:
My gratitude runs deep and is ever present. If you are in the trenches trying to have your first child or trying to complete your family through ART or adoption, and you are in need of light, love, and a shred of hope, do your best to stay the course. There are no guarantees, but there is hope. If the static and sluggish cells of an 8 celled donated embryo can find a way to do what they are supposed to do, there is hope.
*I just realized that this didn’t publish when it should have
I didn’t mean to leave anyone hanging and I appreciate all the comments here and to me directly. It has been a whirlwind 24 hours! Yes, it was her. She named my husband after his birth father.
We’ve exchanged a dozen or so emails with photos and details. It turns out that my husband was a ‘sandwich’ child, with two older siblings and one younger. This came as a surprise to him as it was something he hadn’t considered. Of course, I think until we knew the story, it was also somewhat hurtful, as in, why did she keep them and not me? I astutely indicated that for all we knew there were three baby daddies and, in fact, that was true. My husband has two older siblings by her first marriage to an African American man. They split, a couple years later she dated my husband’s birth father, got pregnant, and he wanted no part of being a father. She agonized over trying to raise my husband and visited him numerous times while he was with a foster family hoping she could find a way to parent him. When she was unable to do so, she relinquished him for placement. She never had contact with his birth father after that and said that she has been unable to locate him.
After placing my husband, she eventually remarried again, and had another son. So, her children are 53, 50, 45 (my husband), and 35. That marriage lasted 10 years, they divorced and she raised her youngest son as a single mother. He is married and has two children.
At my request, she not only sent me recent pictures of my husband’s half-siblings, but also of their children (there are 6 children, total, 4 are over age 20 belonging to her older children, and the youngest two are 6 and 4 belonging to her youngest son).
Of course, what’s important is how everyone is feeling, right? She never thought she’d be found so it did come as a surprise to her although she’s not asked me how I found her. Her children are aware of my husband’s existence, although I’m not sure how long they have known. Her daughter knows that I contacted her and she has peppered her mom with questions re my husband that his birth mother admits she doesn’t have all the answers to, yet. She is grateful to have been found, feels that knowing he was raised in a loving home makes her heart complete, and has been forthcoming in answering all my questions (including providing me with as much information as she remembers regarding his birth father, his name and birth date most importantly).
My husband, for his part, is interested but mostly ambivalent. This is how he has always been surrounding looking for his birth family. He has read every email, looked at every picture, and we’ve discussed the nuances. He is mostly interested in his ancestry and any health/medical information that would pertain to him or our older son.
My husband called his mom today, who knew I’d been searching for his birth mother, and let her know that I’d made contact with her and shared everything we knew to that point. She is supportive and relieved for my husband to have finally have information as to his family history. She feels a great deal of gratitude to his birth mother for giving her the privilege of raising my husband as well as compassion for how hard every birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s Day for the last 45 years must have been for her not knowing what became of him.
As for me, other than having my own children and even more so than finding my own birth mother, this has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. Other than being uniquely skilled to be able to find her and then reach out to her, gathering all this information from her and providing information to her has required some delicacy. I am much more excited than my husband is. He commented that it was sad that I’m more excited than he is and ironic that he is ambivalent and she is forth coming where I am enthusiastic to know my birth family and my birth mother is a brick wall.
It is quite something to be able to ask a question like, ‘what was his birth father’s name’ and have her answer me directly. Or to ask her how long her parents lived, what their health was, and why they died and have her answer me. It has renewed my interest in finding my birth father but now I also know just how daunting a task that is without so much as a name to go on. And, if I am being honest and I’ve said this here before, I wish I had an advocate like me doing the hard work and acting as my liaison.
I am not sure where this will go (my husband is planning a trip to NY/NJ with our older son in the summer and, might he agree to meet her? It’s hard to say. The answer today would be a firm no, but in the coming weeks and months that might change. It would be more likely to change if I were joining them on that trip, but even in discussing it with him this morning, he has no desire to trek across country on a plane with a toddler).
I intend to keep the email communication open. I hope she can remember the answers to the other questions I have about his birth father that might aid in my search. I expect that this heightened level of communication will die down, although I may also hear from his siblings and am considering how to reach out to his younger brother who his birth mother is somewhat estranged from. My husband has no current desire for direct contact with anyone but is glad that I do.
It is all so very complicated and that doesn’t even include telling our older son about this extended genetic family at some point.
Thank goodness, once again, for this space, as I have almost no one in real life to share this with. This is the response I got to my email to my husband’s possible birth mother:
It is a possibility. What questions do you have?
I never thought I would be contacted since I gave him to be adopted. I didn’t have the means to raise him and wanted him to be with a family who would love him and give him everything I couldn’t. If you have a baby photo, I would know if it was him.
I responded with:
Thank you so much for your response and I am sorry if this caught you off guard. My intention in contacting you on behalf of my husband is purely from a place of compassion and interest in getting family/medical history. I want you to know that if it is him, he was raised in a loving family in New Jersey and had a happy childhood.
His adoption information also included his original birth name which I hope you might remember. I have included a picture of him as an infant. If you believe that this is the right person, can you confirm for me his given name at birth then we will both know we have a match?
Again, please know that he harbors no animosity. I am only reaching out as an advocate for him and our children. We both had loving childhoods. I am sure you can understand, now that we have children, how important it is for us that they have the information about their genetic families that we have been missing all these years.
My husband is very detached from being adopted. There is some bitterness there and as I’ve searched (and found) my own birth mother, he has never had interest in finding his. At least not for himself. I think, in part, he has wanted to protect his mother as he felt she’d be possibly hurt or betrayed if he went looking for his birth mother. Never once, in the 14 years we’ve been together, has he ever had a desire to even get his medical/family history if it meant finding her to do so. However, my husband is pragmatic and, for the sake of our older son, he has been amenable to me looking for her so that our son can learn more about his genetic background.
I posted back in July that through what I am sure was a careless mistake (and one that I have heard often happens) on the part of the Adoption Expediter we were given the name of his birth mother. I found a woman that I believe is her but it has taken me this many months to do anything about it. Last night, I finally shared information on both Baby G’s origins and the search for my husband’s birth mother with my sister-in-law (my husband’s brother’s wife). I gave her the potential woman’s name and she immediately found her FB page (when I went looking for one over the summer she didn’t have one and I never checked again). I messaged the woman through FB last night. My husband is aware and approving but resistant to doing anything himself and I am more than willing to be his advocate.
I learned that when you FB message a person that you are not FB friends with, the message goes to an “Other” Inbox, different from the Inbox FB messages go to from one’s friends. I didn’t know this Inbox existed and when I found mine, I had 29 messages in there, going back to 2009, more than half of which were legit, and three were from people trying to find me, two of which I’ve since connected with! So, if you are as unaware as I was, when you click on either “Messages” from the left nav bar of FB or the Messages icon from the top, the pop-up window will show your primary Inbox and next to it, a link to “Other”. Clicking on that, brings up your ‘Other’ Inbox. It is quite possible that if I didn’t know about the existence of another Inbox, she won’t either.
I did some more digging and uncovered her home address as well as two email addresses. I sent an email to both email addresses, one immediately came back as undeliverable, but one did not. Of course, I don’t know for sure that she is my husband’s birth mother, but I have an inkling that she is. Their resemblance is uncanny. If I get no response to the email that went through, I will send a letter, certified mail. Stay tuned…
In other news, I have done nothing more to pursue my birth father although I think of him almost every day. I need an advocate!
I have written about gratitude many times here. As I was driving the other day, Baby G in his car seat, looking at the beautiful mountains ahead of me through the warm, clear blue skies, I thought that the way I try to live my life, in conscious awareness for all that I have and all that I know, goes beyond gratitude. Yes, as an almost 48 year old woman who has survived the deaths of some of the most important people in my life (my brother, my Uncle J, my grandfather, my grandmother, and my female mentors S & D), I live the waking hours of my life with a mindfulness that is deeper than all the gratitude I feel. There is a consciousness that comes from both age, life experience, and wisdom, that necessitates that I live each day seeing, feeling and acknowledging the gift that is this life that I have.
And, save the death of my brother, my infertility and significant struggle to have children has informed this state of being the most. I now spend the awake hours of my days being present, not looking too far forward or back, because I am acutely aware that both the easy and the hard parts of my life’s journey have brought me to this place.
I am a fuller version of myself, not without struggle, stress, worry, and concern, but more equipped to know that I can weather the storms in life because I already have. And, I’ve lived the hell out of half my life with, universe willing, just as much road ahead of me.
My older son is on spring break this week and something magical is happening between him and Baby G–they are forming a sibling bond, one that I hope connects them their entire lives. H has always said he loves his brother, but now that G is walking and climbing he is a much more interactive being. As we came in from getting fro yo this afternoon, I had to pee so asked H to keep an eye on his brother. I heard shrieks of joy and laughter from both of them, w H saying, “mom, I really love my baby brother!” and “we’re actually playing together, mom!” and, “mom, he loves me, too”. The whole exchange just filled me up as does having both of them home with me all day for this week-long break. It’s not without its challenges as G is still taking two naps/day, so trying to fit fun things in for H that we can all do takes some planning. I still cannot believe that I am a mother of two rambunctious boys. It catches me off guard to this day.
A mindful, well-intentioned life is what I feel I’m living. I still have my personal demons as I struggle to lose even one more pound (thinking that this post likely cursed me); and with the utter disappointment that there will be no meaningful relationships with my family (even things with my uncle have deteriorated, if only because he is juvenile and completely unable to see what is before him); and stalemate I’ve come to with my birth mother where the identity of my birth father is concerned; and worry over finances and what I am going to do for work and when. But, my worry is not overwhelming. It has its place but I no longer let it stress me out. I am far less actively stressed that I ever have been in my adult life.
I dreamed and hoped and thought I conjured what it would be like to be on the other side of the struggle to build our family, but that doesn’t approximate the reality of it. It’s harmonious and as it should be. And, even though there is the sometime sting that we won’t be having more children, I have come to accept that truth, that we won’t. It has been a long process, of course made somewhat easier by the arrival of Baby G. In a different, other life, would I want more children and endeavor to have them? Yes, I absolutely would. But now, I can finally exhale into family being instead of family building.
I feel so fortunate to have the wisdom and experience to not take this life for granted. Those seeds were sown thirty-seven years ago when I lost my brother and knew, in that instant, how fragile and fleeting life can be. And, perhaps it is because his birthday is this week, that I am feeling acutely aware that there is no way to stop time. Oh, do I miss him, as a big brother and the uncle he would have been. So, to him I say, thank you brother for opening my eyes to how precious life is. And, happy birthday. May your spirit be forever at peace.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity, and acceptance of present-moment reality.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
It has taken me all week to compose myself enough to write a measured and meaningful post about the brouhaha caused on the RESOLVE Facebook page on Monday. The jist is that RESOLVE posted a question from a member, unedited and in its entirety, and the question was from a woman looking for affordable ART options, they were going to adopt, but she really wanted a child of her own.
Her question, uninformed and ignorant as it was, reflects a sentiment shared by some who have never adopted or have not mourned the loss of a genetic child, which is that an adopted child isn’t ones own, is a second choice. But it wasn’t the question so much as the lack of intervention or moderation on the part of RESOLVE once the comments deteriorated into ‘just get over it’ and ‘you’re too sensitive’ that caused the rancor.
At issue is that words hurt and if the national organization that purports to support the infertile community as a whole can’t do a better job, how can we expect to elevate the conversation and stop alienating adoptive parents and persons in our own community?
RESOLVE let the comments degrade for a full 24 hrs until enough people complained directly to them that Barbara Collura posted a flimsy response on Tuesday (the entire thread has since been deleted) that amounted to ‘gosh, so sorry you got your knickers in a wad, but pardon us for being understaffed’. The ass kissers came out in force celebrating this pseudo apology, but I did not. I found it wholly unacceptable that they missed the ENTIRE point which was that they should have taken better care of the community by either not posting the question at all or editing it and informing the original poster as to why or actually moderating the comments in real time in a show of support that they do not stand for the marginalization of the adoptive community with words the demean and dilute the adoption experience as a ‘lesser than’ or even less natural way of family building.
It is something that as an adopted person married to another adopted person and as someone who endeavored to domestically adopt myself, I am very passionate about, that as a community, we are inclusive of everyone regardless of the manner in which they choose to build their family. You can’t say you’re inclusive and then disenfranchise a part of the very group you’re supposed to be supporting and protecting.
And, guess what? It is not the adoption community’s fight. It is incumbent upon the rest of us, those in the majority, to fight for what is right, in word and deed, for those who are feeling hurt and ostracized. I liken it to my passion and advocacy for gay rights. It is not solely up to the homosexual population to fight on their own behalf. No, it is up to the heterosexuals to ensure fairness and equal protection for our gay brothers and sisters. We have to fight for and protect them. Just as I don’t need to be gay to understand the plight of those who are who have their rights trampled on, I don’t have to have adopted to understand how hurt adoptive parents or persons would feel at the sentiment that their child(ren) are not viewed as their own.
Because this continued to be such a heated topic and I’m sure many more wrote in to RESOLVE directly, they posted yet another, but more genuine and sincere apology that read, in part:
“RESOLVE would like to again apologize for the events that unfolded this week on this Facebook page. We have removed the posts and hope as a community we can all move forward… together. Several community members reached out to RESOLVE directly who felt their voice was not being heard and we encourage anyone else to reach out to us at email@example.com. We absolutely acknowledge that there were opportunities that we missed to change the outcome of this conversation. We are sincerely sorry as we never intended or imagined that we would hurt or alienate anyone.“
In addition to posting on their FB page, I sent the following to them directly:
I have been an outspoken commenter on the recent thread regarding the community question posted on Monday. I want to convey that had the response posted this morning been posted on Monday, so much of the vitriol could have been avoided. I appreciate the effort to take responsibility now and the post this morning was heartfelt and sincere. I worry that it is too little, too late for those members of RESOLVE who are involved in adoption advocacy.
As the national organization representing all factions of infertility, RESOLVE is supposed to be the safe haven for all, no matter their path to parenthood or in their decision to remain child-free. I think this exposed that there is much work to be done both in word and action to attempt to unify rather than faction the group. That having been said, it is clear to me (as an adopted person, as a mother, as an infertile, and as someone who used the most advanced forms of ART to have my two sons after attempting to adopt domestically) that there needs to be a more fully formed sub-group for the infertility community who takes that adoption path.
It should be bothersome to you that the majority of posts were on the ‘just get over it’, ‘you’re being too sensitive’ end of the spectrum which is where the real damage was done. It shines a light that RESOLVE, by omission, hasn’t done enough to raise awareness or create sensitivity among its members.
Infertility is one of the worst diseases to befall a woman or couple who wants to create a family. We need to be universally supportive, regardless of personal choices. Just because I do not subscribe to the idea that adoption is a ‘calling by God’ doesn’t mean that I can’t support those who do.
As I said, in my comments, when you know better, you do better and it is time to DO better.
However, it was likely too little, too late for many who have long felt that RESOLVE does not include and support those who pursue adoption over ART in a cohesive, complete, and unadulterated manner. I’m not proposing that RESOLVE is the be all and end all infertility resource but I am saying that if you hold yourself out there in support of adoption, then you need to SUPPORT adoption as a path in both word and deed.
I am disenchanted and disheartened. When we know better, we MUST do better.
I have come a long way toward accepting the estrangement from my parents (and, vis a vis, my sister and her family). Fixing it is not a possibility given the mental health issues with my mother and my father’s dependence (post stroke) on her. It isn’t even so much about managing it anymore as are paths rarely cross. Yet, it is a constant in my life, the missing of my nuclear family.
There is nothing about my mother that I miss (not to be confused with the missing and longing I have for A mother). When our relationship was predicated on her controlling, belittling, chastising, manipulating, blaming and criticizing me, what’s to miss? I miss the idea of my dad, the unbiased, non-judgmental man he used to be, the buffer between me and my mom.
When a specific opportunity presents itself that allows my dad to see us, I still try to make that happen. My older son’s school has a Dads & Special Friends Breakfast in conjunction with the school’s Book Fair so I asked my husband what he thought of including my dad. My husband was fine with it. We emailed my dad about a month ago (and by we I mean I emailed him as my husband) and he was interested in attending.
The breakfast was this morning and my dad arrived here promptly at 7 (it made for quite an early morning for company, even though we are early morning people). He’s nothing if not prompt. My older son, with his loving exuberance, greeted him with a huge hug as he squealed, “Graaaandpaaaa!!!!! to which my father responded with, “I haven’t seen you in over a year, since your 6th birthday”. I watched this all unfold while giving Baby G his bottle in our room.
It was hard for my dad to engage me, even though we’ve had benign encounters recently. He is firmly planted in the ‘this is how you want it’ camp. He doesn’t know that none of these visits would occur but for me. In fact, I think he thinks this one was all my husband’s doing, unbeknownst to me. That’s how he behaved anyway.
I only briefly spoke with my husband following the event. He said that my dad was quiet, almost silent, and he can’t recall him actually speaking even two words. Because my older son is so engaging, that must have made for an awkward time. My dad lacks interpersonal skills so I would never expect him to lead conversation, but was surprised that he didn’t make an effort to chime in. It makes me wonder why he wanted to go at all.
My uncle & aunt were here for my older son’s 7th birthday party over the weekend. My uncle accompanied my husband to pick up the food for the party. It was during their brief trip that my uncle (who really can’t be trusted to know the truth about anything) told my husband that my parents don’t bring us up (negatively) anymore and he took that to mean we were in their good graces (as if!) again and that my brother-in-law is persona non grata now as she feel he’s a lazy good for nothing. He went on to say that the real ‘issue’ is that my parents hate the house we bought, that, in fact, he and my mom have continued looking at houses for us, and, that my mother said she’d even pay for us to move. Ummmm, hold up. I thought the ‘issue’ was that she has undiagnosed borderline personality disorder with narcissistic and paranoid tendencies, but I digress.
I know that I’ve come a long way as I had almost no reaction to this news other than to be interested in how the conversation came about and to write about it here. Crazy is as crazy does, but WTF is up with that?
Getting back to the breakfast this morning, while there, my son’s upcoming play was mentioned, something I wouldn’t have brought up because it would include my mom wanting to attend. I’m not sure now if they plan to go or if the date/time registered with my dad, but I won’t be following up on it.
I’m writing about this because, well, because I am carrying around sadness from it. Sadness that it is what it is, that we are fractured beyond repair, and that the best I can hope for is navigating what is going to be the rocky road ahead where I pick and chose isolated events where my dad can be a grandfather to my sons (but, just in typing that, I know that isn’t even true, that these brief, few and far between visits don’t count as a relationship). Rocky in that my older son misses the idea of his local grandparents (he commented that he wished his grandma could have attended the breakfast, too). There is no such thing as doing the right thing (and, by whom, really) because I know they are incapable of having a substantive relationship with anyone, but me (and us) in particular.
What is the pay-off for me in even caring that he gets to see us? The hope that in the final analysis, presuming they both pass before me, that my conscience will be clear? Or the hope that if my mother passes first there might be an opportunity for reconciliation with my dad? Or am I trying to smooth things over just enough that my sons aren’t disinherited? Is it about me being adopted that makes me do any of this at all, to care even this much?
It’s just something I carry around with me. Like a rock in my shoe.