Big step coming soon

I am waiting for the morning when my ovulation predictor test gives me the smiley face. It’s cycle day 13, and so far no luck.

We met with the counselor two weeks ago and made sure we were prepared. The two major things we learned were:

1. Children conceived with donated genetic material usually like to have the option to contact or learn the identity of the donor. Even if they don’t want to use the option, they resent having that possibility taken from them. This option generally comes as a facet of the donor profile, whether he or she is willing to have his or her identity and contact information available to the child at age 18.

2.  These children also appreciate that if they have a sibling, having a sibling with the same genetic lineage. This means for us that it would most likely be better for our second child, if we have one, to have the same donor.

She signed the required document stating that we know what we are getting into.

I also got the lab result back that I am negative for CMV. What is CMV? This surprised me, since I’m pretty sure I’ve had every cold or flu virus that was ever near me. We’ve decided therefore to choose a CMV negative donor.

We have chosen the donor, purchased one vial, and it has been delivered to our clinic. These steps in the process are incredibly expensive and not covered by insurance.

When I get that OPK smiley face, I will call the clinic and we will schedule an IUI (intra-uterine insemination) for the following morning, and get everything ready.

According to the first day of my last period, if I get pregnant this cycle, our fifth child will be due exactly 5 years after Josh’s due date.

 

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The next thing to try

Tomorrow we meet with a counselor, actually a PhD psychologist, to learn all about the emotional aspects of building our family with donor sperm.

My therapist, who specializes in baby loss, infertility and parenthood after, reminded me last summer during the IVF to consider donor sperm as a possible back-up, so I wasn’t pinning all my hopes on the IVF. I didn’t want to do it, I did pin all of my hopes on the IVF working, and I was devastated when it didn’t. The massive amount of pain from the extra blood that had hemorrhaged into my abdomen didn’t help.

I have been trying to come to terms with this idea since then. I didn’t want to give up on having a child that was genetically related to my husband (The Dad). There is so much about him that I admire and treasure and hope he passes on to our kids, and I wasn’t willing to let that go. I would have been much more able to give up on passing on my DNA to our kids. That’s mostly because of what my mom has always called “defective brain genes”, the hereditary Persistent Depressive Disorder I get from her.

The Dad was much more willing to move towards donated sperm. He is very logical and patient. He knows that he will be the dad, he knows how incredibly influential environment is for people, and he knows that experiencing, and especially watching me experience a fifth miscarriage would be extremely painful for him.

Last fall we met with my therapist’s clinic partner to talk about being ok with it. She had her children through egg donation and help us through a lot of the conversation. But I still wasn’t convinced. It just seemed like giving up on full genetic siblings for the children we had lost, which seemed like a betrayal.

What finally did it for me was something an OBGYN said to me. I only saw her because I needed urgent appointments and couldn’t get one with my regular one. I had some crazy pelvic pain, (which is being successfully treated as related to the crazy upper left quadrant abdominal pain I’d been having) and some strange bleeding from cycle day 23 to 28 last cycle (which appears to have been weird and undiagnosable, but nothing to worry about).

So I saw this doctor, and she said, “You’re 33 and you want to have 2 kids, it’s time to start trying something different.” I told her my issue with it, and she said it didn’t have to be the end of the line for trying to conceive with The Dad’s sperm. If we had one with a donor, and tried again naturally after, a loss would probably be less traumatic. It would no longer be all of my children. I wouldn’t be a generally-unacknowledged mother. I know I wouldn’t have as hard of a time pulling myself out from under when the most important person in the world needed me.

Technically one of my brothers is a half-brother and one is originally a half-brother, but adopted as a full brother, and they’re my brothers. I never mention the half-brother part, except on those rare instances that I’m explaining why I just mentioned my brother’s dad. There’s no reason it should be any different for my children.

We have already decided that this will not be a secret. If we do successfully have a child this way, we want him or her to know their history without shame. There are medical reasons he or she should know about it. Finding out later in life is often traumatic, and we don’t want that.

Our children are ours, they are loved, and we want them to know that.

P.S. This OBGYN, who I’m 90% sure I’m switching to, said something else that has made a difference. I said I wasn’t sure my antidepressants were doing enough because I was still so sad. She said that I had been going through a lot of stuff that just sucked, and it was reasonable to be sad about that. I liked that. Not the fact that it’s true, but the validation.

Thoughts from Mother’s Day, and I’m making progress

I wrote this on Mother’s Day, and thought I posted it, but it didn’t post:

It is a day to honor mothers. Most years, I only notice honoring of women who have given birth to children who are still here. This year, maybe because I was vocal on facebook about my motherhood status, I have seen more acknowledgement of mothers whose motherhood doesn’t look like the regular, expected kind. It feels validating, and that’s nice.

I was anticipating a very difficult day, since my only children are gone. Therefore, it was a difficult week. I cried and moped quite a bit.

I also had hoped to find out this week that I was pregnant, but once again, I found the opposite. It hasn’t been that many months this go-round, but it being the sixth time trying to get pregnant, with no births and four deaths, every month of failure, of delay, is another reminder of what I do not have. Of what I don’t know if I will ever have. My child; to hold, to raise, to see grow, who will call me mom.

Meanwhile, my therapy is going really well. I’m learning to be mindful in everyday life. To pay attention to my emotions, where they come from and what they are urging me to do. To decide to act in ways that are more effective. I’m learning a lot of different ways to tolerate distress without hiding myself in the basement zoning out in front of the TV, or eating way too much, or both. The ways are mainly distracting myself until it gets better.

Most importantly, the skill I’ve learned from my Dialectical Behavior Therapy is what’s called Radical Acceptance. I had read a little about it pretty soon after I started DBT, and I was certain it was never going to happen. I mean, just accept that all my babies were dead and pretend it’s fine? NO.

It’s way more nuanced than that. It is complete acceptance, but not saying it’s ok, or that I like it. It is the acknowledgement that the things that have happened are my reality, and they cannot be changed. My being angry and bitter that my children are gone was never going to bring them back. There is no way to get them back. My anger only served to cause me suffering. So, it started to seem like maybe it wasn’t the best thing to keep in my head.

I feel so much lighter. The world is not as dark and terrible as it was. A lot of things still suck, but a lot of things are good, and it’s ok to enjoy them. It’s not a betrayal of my children. I will always believe that the last five years would have been happier if I had gotten to keep them with me, even one of them, but nothing can ever change what has happened and what is, I can only change how long I let it keep me from living a life worth living.