What to Expect … when you are Parenting

Does anyone remember what it is like to “want” a baby?

You think of it all the time.  You pee on sticks, even if they are not the ones you get from a pharmacy.

You become consumed with “wanting a baby” but you never seem to think of “wanting a baby” in the same space as “wanting to be a parent.”

For me, I think that they were two separate things, and I forgot/misplaced a piece of information that wanting a baby also meant/actually meant/really meant becoming a parent.

“Wanting a baby” is doe eyed, soft lighting and all quite marvelous.  You think of that warm milky smell, that sticky chubby hand reaching out to curl itself around your finger.  Wanting a baby is magic and filled with promise and giddiness, and the warm cuddles of an infant against your breast.  And purchasing baby books by the kilogram and buying every soft lighting baby magazine that you can get your soon swelling hands on to.

For some reason being a parent is just not as glamorous.  When I say “just not as glamorous” I actually mean like a case of thrush without access to the one administration of fanny cream!

I can honestly say when I was thinking of having a baby, I was thinking of pink and blue fluffy blankets.  Which compactum to purchase, whether I should buy one of those super stylish baby sling numbers or just wing it and use my arms to clutch the baby to my breast.

Maybe it is only me, but I did not think about how much work “being a parent” was going to be when I was planning my “wanting a baby”.

I just thought about sleepless nights and me crying alone in the bathroom at 2am because I was so damn tired.  Wanting a baby and having a baby never translated into how challenging/difficult/labour of love with very little reward in the short-term being a parent is.

I know when”wanting a baby” becomes “having a baby” – that seems fairly simple. But when having a baby becomes “being a parent” is less clear.

Even with Baby number 3, I was still thinking about the new baby smell and how lovely a pink onesie was going to look and was not thinking about me yelling in the passage about brushing teeth and going the hell to sleep already!

“Wanting a baby” has a huge amount of very very small print in the section marked “being a parent” and can I suggest that if you are thinking about expelling a child from your loins (or via any other route), you give that section a bit of a read through and some thought.  Sober thought!

Trust me it will make the “What to Expect when you are Expecting” look like light reading for amateurs.

Notice there isn’t a “What to Expect … when you are Parenting” …. actually now that I think of that, I could probably hammer away at the first few chapters without breaking in to too much of a sweat.

Is there a right age to be a parent ….

Is there a right age to have a child?  Is there a right age to decide to be a parent?

Is there an age where you feel okay, I am ready, I am ready to step into the abyss and see where it takes me?

<I am discounting when someone falls pregnant by ‘accident’ as that is no longer a decision to have a child, that is ‘we are having a child, let’s make some decisions that go with it” – that situation is different and though has merit, is not the decision where one sits and goes “am I ready to think about having a child”>

I am not sure that there is any “right” age to agree to have kids, but at the same time I do not think there is a wrong age.  I do think however there is an “unwise” age.

For instance I think making a decision to have children when your age ends with the word “teen” is probably an unwise age.  I personally would not trust a “teen” to order me a take away meal and get it right and bring me change, so odds are I might not think they were “wise” enough to raise a child.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that a “teen” has the plumbing and understands the mechanism of how to become parents.  My dog can have sex and produce a litter every year or so, it does not take a genius to actually become a parent, the genius (the sweat and the tears) is the ability to BE a parent.

<I am excluding good as my idea of good and Martha Stewart’s idea of good might vary on this>

I wasn’t ready to think about being a parent when I was in my twenties.  At the same time I was also not picturing white weddings and white picket fences.  It just was not how my mind’s eye was working.

However Kennith was ready and had been ready from about 35 seconds after we met. I am not sure it was me that inspired a sense of producing off spring, it was more the fact that he wanted off spring and I was there.

He did not pressure me, but he did indicate that his future included small replicas of our DNA, or at worst his DNA.

My tack was to say “maybe next year” – knowing full that next year would never come, and if it did, then we could have the same conversation. A little like Ground Hog Day.

But time moved on and at 28 we had the same conversation we had been having for a few years.  I was happy with our little lot in life, and could not imagine adding a child to the mix.

However in this particular conversation (held at the Spur – how symbolic is that of where we would be spending many many future meals) I realised that “next year” was never going to come for me.

It just was never going to come.  And I think at that point he knew.  He might have been suspicious before, but I think at that moment he knew.

I felt that if I stuck to my resolve of not wanting children then odds are that I risked Kennith leaving me.  I wondered if I would stick to my resolve and “see what happened” – but the truth was I was too afraid to see “where this went.”

I was too chicken to see if he left me …. because what if he did?

I decided instead to opt for the lesser known road of deciding that the idea of kids no longer revolted me – sure I was not exactly running into the light in ecstasy –  but maybe there was a slither of hope that it might not be as bad as I had thought.

Based on that fantastic decision-making model we decided to “try.”  Well Kennith decided to try, I decided to no longer fight the inevitable.

I had Connor when I was 29.

Do I think I was too young or too old?  Neither.

I was scared sh&tless, I was in over my head, and I had no idea what was going on.  I was in over my head and I felt like I was drowning most of the time.  I was unprepared, totally lost, totally not ready and when I think back now I feel very sorry for me actually.

But – and here is the but – I had 29 years of life experience under my belt.  I had spent six years with Kennith cohabitation and fighting over who is going to change the toilet roll, and whose turn it was to do the passer-by dishes.  I was reasonably mature, I lived a reasonable stable life, and I had my sh&t together.

I thought at the time I knew me, and I knew him.

But the reality is that when you throw a 3.25 kg wrinkled baby into the mix, you realise it is a bit like being on “the weakest link” – you sort of know the answers, but get really scared when the lights flash at you and all but forget your name, and then to add to it some git is going to write your name on a whiteboard and out for being the weakest link.

It was all pretty grim stuff.

I had my second child at 32 and thought I did not feel like I knew exactly what was going on, I definitely felt a bit less worried and anxious.

I had my third child at 36 – and I definitely felt less “deer in the headlights.”

But I am not sure if it is an age thing or an experience thing.  I am 38 now and I feel like I have “nearly” got this parenting thing down pat.  I have not quite got it, but man, I am close!

I think there are people who are couples/singles who decide to become parents in their mid-twenties, even their early twenties.  They might even find they are a bit pregnant, rush off and get married and then commit to this life at what ever age. Some how most of them do make a go at it.

Would I have coped?  Probably not.  I barely cope now.

I realise this is the point where I should wax lyrically about what a joy children are, and how I would not change anything for the world ….I know this is that part.

Birth Control is sometimes an IQ Test …..

I am reasonably bright but I find remembering to take birth control nearly impossible.

I tried to take the birth control pill a number of years back.

When I realized I was taking them five or seven at a time, because I kept forgetting to take them each day, it occurred to me that it might not be the best method for me.  My amending the one-a-day protocol may well lead to pregnancy, which at the time was not the plan.

I heard about a birth control injection, and looked into that a bit.

You only have to do that once every three months.

Sounds like a pretty full-proof plan to me.  Though I am not really keen on injections, I felt that it was a small price to pay for not having to take handfuls of birth control tablets.

Of course I did not actually go and have it done every three months.

I read that it takes about nine to twelve  months for your cycle to stabilize after your last injection.   I figured if I was two or three months late with my follow up injection, it was not really going to do much harm.

I tended to skate on the wild side with that method as well.

Please bear in mind that we have three children and none were conceived with a “surprise” – they were all conceived as a plan.  Even with my rather reckless disregard for the fine print on birth control products, it seems I do not fall pregnant unless there is a plan and a spreadsheet involved.

In each case I came off birth control, waited the correct period, and then we started trying to conceive.  I am not saying that it is impossible that I fall pregnant with my rather flagrant disregard for the instructions, but for me it appears to be unlikely based on past experience.

Earlier this year, my OBGYN sort of went the colour of pale puke when I told him I was on Depo Provera (birth control injection).  He did not quite run naked screaming into the traffic, but he did raise his eyebrow and lower the tone of his voice to a very serious level and made reference to my age, and some other unsavoury comments, which are best left unsaid for a lady of quality like myself.

The man is from Austria, one listens when an Austrian man issues commands/suggestions to you.

With his rather sobering suggestion, I opted back onto birth control pills.

Again I found myself gobbling handfuls when I remembered.  I realized that maturity has not changed me at all when it came to following instructions on the packs of birth control.  I felt if I remained on this path, we would be parents (again) before the month was out.

I was lamenting my problem to the GP whilst she was looking over one of my kids for one illness or another.  She commented that there is a birth control patch on the market, it is quite new, but she recommends it.

You stick it on your body once a week and leave it – then put a new patch on each week, and that is pretty much the level of effort involved.    That is the extent that you need to remember.  One plaster, once a week.

Sounds easy!  She was jolly nice and wrote me up a script too.  (I do love piggy-backing on a doctor’s visit and not having to pay for two consultations.)

I was very excited to get my first lick-and-stick patch.  I stuck it on my rather large arse and thought something would happen.   I am not sure what, but there was nothing, so I thought, well clearly I must be doing it right.

Let’s leave it to do it’s work quietly shall we.

Second week, I was all excited about my “patch change day” – listen I do not have much excitement going on in my neck of the woods.  It went well, and I was pleased that I had managed to find such an easy method of birth control that even I could not muck up.

Third week, still excited about my patch change day – none of the magic has been lost on me.  It was quite special, until I stuck the patch to itself and I could not get it loose.  Shit!   No patch!  Damn it!

I had to get to work, and then something happened on the weekend and I could not go to chemist.

I finally got there on Monday and got a new pack.  Took one patch out of new pack to use to finish week 3 of old cycle.

Ah, all very easy.

It even comes with stickers that you stick in your diary to remind you which day is patch 1, patch 2, patch 3 and free patch week – what could be easier?  Nothing could be easier, right?

Do I still manage to get it wrong?  Of course I do.

Fast forward about two months.  Last week I am standing about to change my patch – it is basically a plaster about 20mm x 20mm that you stick anywhere on your body and the hormones are absorbed through your skin.

I think “wait I have got it wrong” – and then I realize I have totally cocked it up and I have no idea where I am in my little patch change program, like no idea!

You are meant to have 3 weeks of patches, and then one week of no patch – as then you have an AF/your cycle/eat chocolate and scream at the cat, which ever fits you as the most appropriate term for what occurs in week 4.

So then I realise I have it wrong, so one of a few things are going on here:

  1. I have not got it wrong, and this is a patch free week.
  2. I have missed my “free week” and I am technically a week “late” with my AF.
  3. I have missed my “free week” already a week ago and I am technically two weeks “late” with my AF.
  4. I have no idea where the hell I am in my month.

Because I have no idea where I am – other than in the bathroom – it could be option 1,2, 3, 4 or any combination of the above.

I stood looking more confused than usual.  Then I got stressed, and consulted with Kennith who suggested I use this as a “patch free” week and start sticking a new patch next week, as there was nothing else to do.

I agreed with him – only because I really had no idea what the hell I was doing.

But then the mice/hamster/small rodent in my head started to run amuck – like totally.

I was convinced that I was already a week late (with the arrival of my period in case it is not obvious) and then I started to think “what if I am pregnant?”

The problem is that I move from “what if” to “I am pregnant” pretty quickly.  Actually the term is “with lightening quick speed.”

Added to that is that I have felt nauseous like no one’s business for nearly two weeks now, and my stomach has just been feeling out of sorts.

So based on all of this I totally started living in the assumption that I am now pregnant (with number four you understand!).

I started wondering when I should pee on a stick, just to confirm the obvious and all.

And more importantly how long I should just not tell Kennith, because I am sure he will actually run away – not metaphorically.

But like packing his underpants and an onion into a little bag and actually running away. (He did that when he was small, packed an onion and a pair of underpants and ran away from home…gotta love a child who runs away with a change of underwear and ingredients for a simple salad.)

As the days dragged on I constantly thought the universe was giving me signs.

I saw an advert the night before last, advertising a new brand of pee-on-a-stick-and-see-if-you-are-pregnant that not only tells you if you are pregnant, but also tells you when you conceived.   I googled the product after seeing the advert.

I have never seen that advert before – it must be a sign!

Then this morning someone was speaking about pregnancy, and as I walked in to the room, someone said “You will probably have another one, right?” to which I answered in silent horror (and amazement) “How did you know, is it that obvious already?”

Another sign – surely!

This morning I put on my “shirt that I bought at the beginning of my last pregnancy” to work – oh there were signs everywhere I tell you.

I had already shortlisted names.   It will be a boy this time.

Started mentally moving Isabelle into Georgia’s room – decided on which bedding would work for both girls.  I cut back on wine last night – yes, one should only have limited alcohol when one is pregnant, it is the responsible thing to do.

I had already started apologizing to Isabelle this morning as she would not be my baby any more as there would probably be an usurper in our midst.

As you can see, one just needs  only to point me in the direction, turn my little mechanical key and off I go.

I pictured the conversation where Kennith sits me down and explains that we really cannot have four children and then tells me that we need to discuss an abortion.

And then the part where I am pulling my hair and beating my chest in anguish and begging him to reconsider.

I have pictured so many permutations that I am quite exhausted, what being imaginary pregnant and all.

I thought I would leave it until Monday and then officially pee on a stick.

 

As it worked out, it seems there is no need to pee on a stick as of late this morning.  I can honestly say I am actually a bit disappointed, I am not crushed and flaying around on the floor, but I am a little disappointed.

I am waiting for Kennith to phone me crying in relief! (he did not know about my delusional pregnancy, so there is no need to send him any words of condolences.)

So I am still holding on to the clothes…

For fear of dragging this rather old and very worn subject out into the sunlight again, please bear with me as I ramble through this one.

I have a ton, an absolute ton of baby girl clothes that I just cannot bring myself to give away (no matter how good or charitable the cause is).

Isabelle had so many baby clothes that some of them did not get worn, and being on the tubby side of sixteen months, she has outgrown a lot of them.  Some of them still have the labels on them, and the piles in her cupboard are piling up to the point where it is difficult to close the door.

Just to put it into context, I shop at the cheaper retail chains, and often pop in during sale time, so I get a lot of bang for my buck, and really love the allure of pink.

I have kept most of Isabelle’s things, barring a few bags I donated off to charity.

I can’t lie, the reason for my holding on to the cloths was that I was convinced that we were going to look at adopting a fourth child.  My mind’s eye had a girl featuring in full technicolour, and she would need a wardrobe!

My friend recently told me she was pregnant.

I thought fantastic – when she announces she is pregnant with a girl, I will then use it as a cleansing exercise and happily hand her a truckload of clothing which she can choose to use or to pass on.  She will be delighted, and I will have some sort of “open yourself to the universe” moment.

She then told me she was having a boy and she is super thrilled.  I am happy for her – but clearly I can’t give her the girl’s clothes. Not unless her child is going to dress like a fairy and be called Humperdink.

So I am back to a cupboard full of clothing.

I know part of the reason for the hoarding is that I am still (yes, I know still) waiting on Kennith to change his mind and give in to my fourth child laments – which I do not talk about out loud, but the conversation does go on in my head pretty much all the time.

I also appreciate that a final ruling on this matter has already been made.  But as you can well see, my inability to absorb information that I do not want to hear is operating at full capacity.  (insert image of little girl with fingers in ears going la-la-la-la-la here)

I know they are only clothes in plastic bags in the cupboard.  But they are starting to become something (even if it is only to me) symbolic and they are starting to be more than just clothes in a bag, albeit it several bags (I realise you can hear me popping the Zoloft blister pack right here ….)

So I am still holding on to the clothes, because I am not ready to part with them.

This morning I was chatting to a good friend whose wife is 14 weeks pregnant – I asked if they had found out the sex of the baby and whether they would tell me.

He said he would and she is pregnant with a girl – I am so thrilled, but now I face the quandary of my own design. I literally started to have a little panic at the thought of giving them the clothes …. so I just said nothing, other than the congratulations part, and let’s get together to celebrate.

Do I give her all these baby girl clothes, or do I sit quietly and push the already bursting cupboard closed a bit harder?

I spoke to another friend just after that email who is looking at starting the adoption process for themselves.  I then thought: well why don’t I just keep these clothes and I can then give it to her – assuming she is going to have a girl, as then I would have another 6 – 9 months to hold on to the clothes in the cupboard.

So I am still holding on to the clothes.

My reluctance to let go of these clothes, and my inability to let go of this “thing” is clearly a sign of impending doom and may result in another brutal conversation under the harsh kitchen lights.

So I am still holding on to the clothes.

The Old Lady who lived in the shoe….

We had our friend H stay over with us on Sunday night, as he was en-route to some foreign location that seemed to fly via Cape Town.

H was our housemate when Kennith and I first moved in together – the best housemate ever.  He wasn’t there for 28 days of every second month, outstanding who could ask for better in a house mate?

H is married to C, and we were fortunate enough to attend their wedding nearly nine years ago.  They now live in Johannesburg with three kids – all under 5.

We were chatting about the logistics of coping with three kids.  H mentioned that he has had a vasectomy and was singing it’s praises. Kennith mentioned in a rather forlorn voice that he was not “allowed to get one.”

We spoke some more about the fact that though I was not actively seeking to have a fourth child, I did not feel ready to shut the door and throw away the key for good just yet.  Insert emoticon of Kennith’s rather concerned face right here.

When I am ready, then we can start cutting and snipping Kennith’s testicular plumbing to his heart’s content.   But for now, let’s just leave things as they are, for now.

H spoke about how he is over the entire baby stage and wants to have big kids now, and do stuff with big kids.

I really enjoy the baby stage.  We have the benefit of kids that have a fairly big age gap.  As the one was out of nappies and self-sufficient enough to go and wee, grab a bottle out of the fridge and go and watch a DVD to leave mom and dad in peace, we brought a new child into the house.  (Maybe the fact that they left us alone for a few minutes might explain why we had another child, but we can cover that in another post.)

H lamented that he is ready now to do grown up things without all the baby stuff.  I think Kennith might have high-fived him and chest-banged him in the kitchen in agreement.

I like the baby stage, I don’t think I am over it as yet.  Listen I get exhausted by kids, especially mine, and often try and hide away from them, so I understand that three kids are a stretch – really a stretch.

I also realize that our house is total chaos with kids, but sometimes I like our house.

This evening Connor, Georgia and Isabelle were in the bath together.  Kennith gave Connor and Georgia a bowl of ice-cream.  Isabelle was sitting in the middle of them.  She sat there while between bites Connor and Georgia gave her small spoons of ice-cream.  She was like a little sparrow in a nest between two mommy birds as they fed her little bits of ice-cream.  I thought that was really sweet and nice to watch.

Georgia and Connor got out of the bath and went to get jammies on.  Isabelle was now playing with the ice-cream dish and spoon and having a fine old time in the bath.

I wanted to help Connor with his homework.  I did not want to leave Isabelle in the bath by herself, and did not want to take her out as she was happy playing.  Mommy trying to be in two places at once.

Solution:  I got Connor to bring his homework into the bathroom.

He sat on the toilet seat (closed) and he did his homework, while I stood next to the toilet brush and helped him with his revision.

Isabelle was happily playing bowl-and-spoon, while Georgia was in the room chatting to her dad, and there I was doing responsible mom stuff.

I like our crazy house.

I would not be totally devastated if I pissed two lines on a stick, or a social worker arrived at my door and said “Here’s a baby look after it.”  (Listen I would totally freak out, but I would not be devastated.)

Excuse me, while I go and stop Kennith as he scrambles to double check that I have been taking my BCP.

Take a breath ….

Funny what a difference a few days with a total break from reality, and a few bottles of wine can make to your countenance?

The entire weekend was just a complete waste of oxygen.

It has been a very long time since I functioned whilst being totally removed from myself.  I could not have been more absent/removed/vacant/not present this weekend if I tried.

It is a bit like an out of body experience.  You can see you are in a room interacting – or not, whilst you are existing in the corner of the room, far removed from anyone/anything except this dullness around you.  Strange?  Yes.  True? Yes.

Fortunately it is not something I have to go through as much as I used to.  When my depression was at it’s worst, I would have weeks in this state, so I am thankful that I only got a few days of it now – and it really has not occurred in what feels like an age.

Kennith gives me the space when he sees I need it.  He tries not to ask too much of me when he knows I can’t do more than I am doing.  He goes a long way to just quietly helping me through these times..

I met with some friends for pizza and wine on Tuesday night – not too much pizza, possibly too much wine, and it really was a fun evening.  The conversation ranged from spousal abuse, growths on partners’ bodies, to sex and everything in between.  It was a relaxing evening and nice to have people speaking incoherently about so many funny things – the dinner was punctuated by loud guffaws of laughter – just what the doctor ordered!

I also had the fortunate opportunity to chat to someone this week who I really do feel a “soul connection” with.   I have known her for some time, but we have not seen each other for quite a bit.

We spoke about adoption, and the various urges that exist in our souls that we cannot always quantify or qualify.  For me it was great to just speak to someone who just got what I was saying, and did not look at me with that slightly raised eyebrow of confusion.

I am not sure if she was getting me, but after two bottles of wine suddenly it does appear like the whole world is just getting you.  But seriously, it was great to connect with her after so much time.

Last night I went along and met some moms from the Moomie forum.

We have been chatting on that forum for about 6 -8 months.  Before that we were chatting on the Pampers forum, and all seemed to migrate together to the better managed Moomie forum.

It is very strange seeing people you have been friends/adversaries on a forum, then there you are sitting across from them at a dinner table.  Having a relationship outside of the protection of your monitor and keyboard.

I would imagine that a Russian brides meeting her husband at the airport for the first time has similar issues.

Initially I thought it would be weird and awkward, but it really wasn’t.  The only part that was a bit strange was that you are so familiar with them in a cyber room, but sitting across from the table, one sometimes forgets who the person is without the benefit of their avatar to view.

It was a really relaxing evening – like dinner with old friends.  The girls are all so interesting and really unique – it did not feel forced, and conversation flowed easily.

Now that I am a tad more calm – I have realized that none of my ‘wants’ have faded into the morning light of fluorescent overhead lighting and in the even harsher light of reason and logic.

I feel a bit more comfortable that I know what I want/need.  It is okay to be me who wants/needs these things even in the face of opposition, fierce reasoning, pie charts and logical argument.

It is enough for me to just feel strongly that this is what I need, even if maybe they do not make sense to others.  Sometimes you cannot always explain what drives you to do what you do … sometimes it is just the want.

I also appreciate that Kennith and I are in this family together.

I need to respect his opinion and his feelings on the issues that are going to impact on our family – as a group and as individuals.  I can’t say that I will just quietly abandon what I want because he does not agree, and right now I do not really have a chart of the way forward.

However for now, I will take a breath and see where things go.

I am not sure where my path with adoption/fourth child issues/surrogacy will take me, or whether I will progress on any of those paths, or whether it will just go no where.  For today I am willing to exhale and try a modicum of patience and see what happens ….

Super Human …

This morning there was a brilliant show on BBC Knowledge called Superhuman.

Clearly a series – and hosted by the same bloke who does “Child of our Times” – also a brilliant BBC documentary.

I missed the beginning of the show, and have never caught the series, but within 30 seconds I was hooked.

When I came in it was all about these parents and how they were going for IVF.  This was the first time I had caught the show, and it really was very interesting.

One couple had had a previous child with cystic fibrosis, and had gone through a horrific experience.   In wanting to fall pregnant the second time, they wanted to genetically test the embis to check if they in fact carried this trait.

They then implanted a pre-tested embi back that did not have cf, so the couple went on to have a healthy son. (I am simplifying the process here as I is simple folk)

The second couple were Jon and Alice, and they called themselves everyone’s favourite aunt and uncle.

They are THAT couple who are dying to have kids but are being th-warped at every turn.  They are the couple that would make great parents, but by some stupid set of circumstances, they are knocking their respective heads against a brick wall.

It seemed to have something to do with when the fertilised egg started to divide.  Alice had an enzyme that caused the embi to not divide equally and eventually the embi would start to disintegrate. (Again I am simplifying it here considerably.)

The reason I am telling you this tale of woe, is Kennith and I are lying in bed watching this while Isabelle (13 months) is bouncing around on our bed.  She is at that bounce around stage – where every now and then she tries to throw herself off the bed, and the only thing keeping her anchored is either me or Kennith holding her leg.

I glanced over at Kennith while we are watching the show, and realised how truly sad he was for these couples on the show.

I could actually see the disappointment on his face when Jon and Alice’s procedure was not successful, and he groaned out loud for them.

I often say that Kennith is a good egg.

The fact that he can look at this situation as a man, and could really grieve for a couple he does not know, made me go all warm and mushy for him.

He could have sat there and scratched his balls   (as you do first thing in the morning), and played games on his iphone.  But he sat and watched the show and showed real emotion for these people who are trying to have a baby of their own.

He is a good egg that Kennith is.

<of course then the show said that in the time we have been watching this show, I have lost three eggs, while Kennith has produced about 20 000 sperm – Kennith then asked me if I had anywhere to put the sperm … sigh>

Of surrogacy and disappointments ….

I feel quite despondent that the path I am attempting to take is being blocked.

I heard from one of the agencies that I contacted regarding surrogacy.

The Cape Town Ethics Committee met earlier this week and discussed my case, and my application to act as a surrogate was turned down.

The reason they supplied was they considered that the risk will be too large to me for me to undertake for a third party.

I accept their reasoning, and no doubt this comes from years of experience.

However that does not stop me being very disappointed that my pursuing surrogacy in Cape Town through an agency will no longer be possible.  I assume the ethics committee includes doctors,  social workers and agencies that work in Cape Town

The agency I contacted in Johannesburg, does not seem to fall under the Ethics Committee’s jurisdiction (I make this stuff up, as I have no real idea of how it works).

They  have agreed to take on my profile, but will then leave the decision to IP to consider the risks, and if a set of IP or a single IP decides to pursue this with me, then it will be subject to an extensive physical to confirm that there is not underlying reason why not to pursue a 4th pregnancy.

Of course I am gutted and disappointed that this is where we are on this road.

Do I accept it is the end of the road for me with regards to wanting to act as a surrogate for someone?  No.

Do I think that the chance are very slight that an IP will select my profile?  Yes.

Do I understand the that chances of me being a surrogate are slim to pretty much nil?  Yes, I think the odds are stacked against me now.

Am I really disappointed?  Yes, unfortunately more than I can explain in a sensible and logical manner.

I really do not do well with platitudes or cliches of “it’s for the best” or “I am sure there is a reason” or something along those lines.

I do feel the over riding urge to scream into the storm and swear at the thunder.

As I type this post I look down at my two children (one is watching a movie downstairs) and I think of how lucky I am I get to have them, and have them as part of my life.

I am gutted that I can’t help someone else just have a third of what I have … however a huge part of me hopes that the agency in Johannesburg will align me with an IP and the process will still go on.

For now it is a case of taking a deep breath and waiting ….

Some days I should just keep my mouth shut …

I have mentioned the fact that I have been thinking about surrogacy for some time and some of the background to that.

I discussed it with Kennith.  In reality he would prefer it if I did not pursue it. However he accepts that if the need/want in me is so strong  (I realise I sound like the short balding guy from Star Wars), he will support me.  However he wants to be sure that I proceed with caution and as little risk to me as possible.

Kennith feels I will fail the psychological analysis.  Sadly I agree with him.  That is probably where I will tick all the wrong blocks, and be overwhelmed with all the what if’s and starting blabbing on uncontrollably and crying and they will write “unsatisfactory” on their form.

I contacted some agencies.  I have been turned down due to the fact that I have had three c-sections, which puts me into a high/higher risk according to their “tick a block” list (sorry to sound a bit bitter, I’m also not feeling very well and struggling with insomnia, so I am not such a happy camper today).

Someone I met through a forum contacted me and said that she was dealing with a set of intended parents who were Johannesburg based.  They had a Cape Town based egg donor and would I be interested in speaking to them about the possibility of acting as a surrogate.

I was meant to meet with a couple this Friday, as they were going to be in Cape Town. It was really just a meet and greet, and to see what their expectations were and whether it aligned with what mine were – and maybe whether we potentially could see us working together.

I was really excited that finally there was some “progress” and someone wanted to talk about my uterus.  Go little uterus!!

Unfortunately they have not confirmed the appointment.  So I take it to mean that either they have cooled to me, or cooled to the idea, or there is possibly something else happening which they have not made me aware of.  I am quite disappointed actually.

Yesterday a private social worker contacted me – she was referred to me by a contact through my blog, who had acted as a surrogate before.

I spoke to the social worker and she was really great.  We had a lengthy discussion and I explained that I appear to be an “untouchable” based on my three c-sections – I wanted to blurt that out right at the start, so she knew what she was dealing with before she got too excited.

I also explained that I had gone to my OBGYN on Tuesday and he had confirmed that there was no pre-existing condition to exclude me from embarking on a 4th or even a 5th pregnancy.  He is a very cautious (and very experienced) OBGYN, so counseled me at length on the potential risks that I may face and we discussed the idea of surrogacy at length.

Strangely his comments were “Why do it?  You have nothing to prove.  It is not like you are doing it for a friend/sister/cousin – it would be for a stranger. Why would you want to do it?”

I really can’t argue with him – I do not know what my motivation is, so it is difficult to quantify or qualify it to someone else, let alone myself.  I just want to – and really that is it in a nutshell.

Maybe it is the simple act of charity.  Maybe it is the liberal ingestion of too much wine.

What if I get to do this, and for me it does not seem that huge in comparison to what other people have to endure to have a baby.

I am not naive enough to not comprehend that there are inherent risks.   I think I am fairly well read and well informed even for a novice.  I am not saying any pregnancy is easy.  Any pregnancy or procedure does carry a certain measure of risk – I do get that, I know stuff about this and do comprehend the risks.

Sure I prefer not to think of myself as dead, or with a ruptured uterus, but I understand that this is a possible outcome – which cannot be ascertained at the outset (as with any pregnancy).

I also grasp that there are potentially huge psychological costs and other factors at play here that may affect me, my family and my children in ways I cannot begin to  comprehend – I hear and understand that too.

That being said, if pregnancy is (relatively) easy for me and I am able to make peace with the baby I am carrying not being mine genetically, and I am willing to go through this to give a couple something they cannot have any other way, then why would I not consider it.

Imagine the power of that play it forward?

At least let me go through the process to see if it is something I can do.  I think I am a bit puzzled at people’s reaction.  They almost have a look of revulsion on their faces that I would consider this.  They start edging away from me in a she-has-leprosy sort of manner.

Is this  not what charity is about, the showing generosity of spirit to your fellow man/woman?

If you can do something to assist someone, why should you not?  And what is more generous that giving someone something that they yearn for more than life itself?

Why must we agree to nod and go “ag shame” but then walk away, why can’t we assist if we can and we feel strongly about it?

Last  night the subject came up in book/wine club – obviously I brought it up, it is not something that comes up by accident.

I realise that maybe I skate on the thin ice where angels fear to tread.  But my thinking is that everyone in bookclub is a mom, and  must understand the fierce love they have for their child and thus be able to make the leap of who it must feel to be that someone who is desperate for a child of their own, and who has literally moved heaven and earth to try to get there.

Maybe if they comprehend that, maybe they can empathise with how desperate it must be for someone not to experience that – through no fault of their own.

Being denied that basic human right and need – the right to procreate because of a stupid roll of the stupid dice.  Having the odds stacked against them which really seems so unfair beyond any measure of my comprehension.

At the same time I am not seeking approval from others.  I welcome healthy debate and am open to the idea that someone may have an opinion that makes me go, “shewie, never thought of that.”

I nearly sh*t in my pants when one of the girls made a statement first basically saying that infertiles need to “just relax” things will happen.

Listen, I am not an infertile, but even I took offense to that.

I nearly pooped a bit in my beige knickers right there!!

Of course years of fertility treatment, injection in the arse, the abdomen, being probed and proded, miscarriages, BFN and all the tears, clearly were in vain – they should have just relaxed.  I wish someone had told them before – wow, sometimes the answer is the simple one (insert sarcastic smiley face here!)

Then there was another comment basically saying that well if it is not meant to be, there must be a reason that God does not mean it to be (insert WTF smiley face here!)

If I had not actually had bits of poo escape from my anus before that, I think some did now!

I sat looking across the room at someone who has three healthy children, who knows how that feels to have your own children.

Who for all intense purposes is a lovely, warm, caring, loving person who lives what I would assume to be a good life and cares for others in the world. But here she sits and actually thinks that if you have unfortunate ovaries, or a uterus that just is not playing along, or your partner has unlucky sperm, you should just sit back and go “Oh well, God meant this to be, so there you are!”

Then does that mean God means it to be when a 12 year old girl is gang raped in a township on her way home from school, falls pregnant and decides to go into labour in the toilet and throw the baby in the dustbin, because she is so terrified and does not know what other choices she has?

Because if God meant that to be, then I think we all need to sit down and have a little talk.

People are so quick to use this blanket phrase of “things happen for a reason” and “it is God’s will” – I am not denying that many people love a bit of cliché to get then through troubled times, but seriously!

But I digress as my adrenaline level climbs.

The bottom line is, for now I think surrogacy is huge.  If I can I would like to act as a surrogate.

I spoke to the social worker and she said she would take my case to the Ethics Committee that meet in the first week of August.  They, it appears, have the final say.

If they say no, then well that is that, and I should just happily skip off in to the sunset and say something profound.  Odds are I won’t and I will be upset, but there is not much more I can do than I have done.

If they say yes, then I would have to first go to a nominated doctor who would do an exam and make a decision as to physically whether I would be approved to be considered to be a possible surrogate.  Of course at that point I would still have to go through the interviews and psychological screening and anything could happen there.

On the other hand, the ethics committee (I actually have no idea who they are – I am just saying it like I am familiar with them) really makes the decision as to whether I am a possible/potential/maybe candidate.

So there we are, now you know!

Good things do happen to good people ….

The strange things about blogging and belonging to forums, is that it introduces you to a world of people you may not have had the good fortune to meet through any other route.

Through the powers of words, you start to connect with others.  You start to recognise soul-connections in other people – for what ever reason.  They might live down the road or on the other side of the world, it really does not matter.

It is something about them that resonates with you, and you feel a connection to them and their world.

A while ago I  had the good fortunate to befriend Lisa-Marie through blogging and we have remained in touch via a host of routes.

You know when you meet a “nice” person.   Someone who is truly just a good person, but is being faced with all the hurt and the pain that is the “I want a child, but for what ever reason we cannot have one.”

And how your heart just dies a little for them each time they take a knock.

Lisa and her partner Travers are those people.

The great thing about Lisa is that she is not one of those shiny-happy-nice (slightly annoying) people.   She is a nice people who still screams and rants and swears at the thunder, and sometimes just wants to throw it all away to go and travel and discover new countries and say “just fek it all”.

A while ago they made the difficult decision (and it is hard) to look at adoption as another possible route on their journey.   No doubt what ever they had gone through and maybe some of their experiences had led them to this as an option.

It is a difficult decision, no matter who you are or what your background, to decide that maybe the path you have walked for so long, is maybe not the path that is going to get you to your destination.

You scream and cry at the unfairness of it all.  Curse all who can be cursed, that what you have done and sacrificed for so long is just not working.  And you then decide to change course on your ship to motherhood, which must come with it’s own share of pain and heart-ache.

I was thrilled that Lisa had ventured into this as an option.  But I ached for her, and was worried that maybe a new waiting game was going to begin – maybe she will be faced with further hardships on this new path.

But sometimes life … not often … life is not a sack of shite, and sometimes, just sometimes, it allows the good stuff to rain on the good people.

Last week Lisa and Travers got the call and today …. today …. today their beautiful Isabella Helen is being born and they get to meet their daughter for the first time.

You know when you get to cry for happiness for someone else … someone who you have never met … but you feel you are connected in so many ways?

Today is that day  …. yay a thousand times over for Lisa and Travers who get to become parents  T O D A Y !!

http://ttcnot2easy.wordpress.com/

Of dreams and crushed hopes ….

So today I am feeling very bleak, sure not as bleak as I was yesterday, but still very bleak.

A few weeks ago, I had this thought that Kennith and I should consider a fourth child.  I will wait a few minutes while you wipe the coffee off the monitor that has just shot out of your nose.

To further add to my idea, I suggested we adopt.  Kennith was less shocked that I expected him to be, and was surprisingly not adverse to the idea.

Kennith was saying that he was quite keen on us sponsoring someone’s child, but I felt that the idea of adoption really struck a chord with me.  I wanted a child in our home that we could raise, who would have siblings and have someone to fight with.  Someone to borrow clothes and toys from.  A child who had siblings that he/she could scream at saying things like “I hate you and get out of my room”  …. you know all that good stuff.

Kennith was not so keen, but he was not wildly opposed either.  He showed a vague inclination but did raise some concerns that we were entering a very unsure year and we needed to stabilize ourselves before we decided to go ahead with this idea.

All I heard was  “blah blah blah what a great idea blah blah go head…” and off I went – like a dog with a bone.  Okay, a slightly obsessed medicated dog with a bone.  But my head was down, and I was on a mission.

I was in contact with a few social workers, found forums, blogs and the like and was doing an education in Adoption 101.

I have had the opportunity to speak to a few moms who had adopted, and they were so generous in sharing thier experiences.  I really got to speak and interact with so many amazing people who had either embarked on this journey or were embarking on it, and who were so willing to share thier information with me.  They gave me mountains of advise, and I kept being rewarded that this was the right decision that we were making.

There were a few negative comments that some people made regarding cross-cultural adoption, but I put it down to the fact that bigot idiots are still allowed to breath, and I need to just give them a wide berth.

I was recommended to call Child Welfare and spoke to a social worker there.  I thought the fact that we are not married, that we had three children, that we are close to forty, and not religious may play a few negative cards into our deck –it would seem not at an initial glance.

I went along to the Orientation Discussion, knowing full well that Kennith still had reservations.

I was  hoping he would just have a moment where it would feel right for him.  I was so excited, and had already moved past the calm and controlled moment to the frenzied-obsessive-compulsive-full-fledged-project mania that only I can move in to (and people, some people, love me for).

I had got the forms, and was dead excited to get us moving.  I even chose the cool pen I was going to fill the forms in with – it is all about the detail folks!!

I have fallen into this process with my soul and my heart.  I can see this baby in my mind’s eye, I can smell her and feel her against me (clearly you have got the fact that it is already a girl, please, I had already named her, I was so far down this already in my head).  Yes, I do realize that I sound like a total obsessed loon.

There is a bit of a process that prospective adoptive parents have to go through.  It generally follows the route of Orientation Meeting, Complete Application Form, Screening Interview, Training Group, Home Visit and then if that is all ticked and signed you can move on to the elusive List and wait, and wait ….

The list is the part where you are approved as potential parents and it is a case of the social worker matching you to a potential birth mother or baby that has been born.  The catch is one never really knows how long the list is – and one does not know how long sits on the list, because one cannot control the availability (shall we say).

When I spoke to the social worker she said that she had no problem with us as a couple, the one issue was that their requirements were that we could not adopt or move on to the list until our youngest daughter was 18 months old.

I thought great, that sounds fair.  We can do all the paperwork, do the medical (ours), criminal checking (still ours), do all the paper filling in, do all the interviews and so on, and then do not have to feel this pressure that it is not moving fast enough.  We have oodles of time for admin, yay, love a bit of admin.

We can get to the end of it, and go done.  Then we will have a waiting period until Isabelle is 18 months old before we go onto The List.  I thought great, that will give Kennith his breathing room he needs to ruminate over it and decide if that is really what he wants, and it will also give me a cooling off period (shall we say) where now that the project part is over, I can sit and really soul search about what we are in for.

I also realized that during the process we may be asked questions and be faced with some decisions that I had not factored in to this process.  I might realize that the emotional burden would be too much, there might be challenges that would affect my children that I had not factored into my initial decision making.  I was sure that during the process I may find out things that I definitely had not considered, and we may be faced with some ugly truths about ourselves, our motivations and what lay ahead for us.

In our Saturday fight Kennith said “I don’t think we should be adopting …” I was so angry when he said that.  Immediately I thought that he is now using this as a power issue over me, and using it knowing how strongly I feel about it.

Yesterday morning I asked Kennith a question about the medical forms we have to fill in.  Kennith said we can look at that in a year’s time when we are making the decision …. which is loosely translated as that we are going to put this entire exercise on hold until further notice.

How crushed am I?  Bitterly bitterly devastated ….. I had a little cry at my desk yesterday.  Do you know how difficult it is to have a cry in an open plan office when your stooped phone does not want to stop ringing?  It’s pretty difficult.

Off with his head ….

As you may, or may not have observed, I have three children, and am barely able to survive my day without having at least one major speed wobble and total hysterical fit that can only be cured by the immediate transfusion of wine.

Being semi-responsible people, we had discussed sterilization before.  We agreed with the principle. The issue was more about who would do it.  Who would have their legs up in stirrups versus who would go out and buy the bag of Chuckles.

I always said that Kennith should have a vasectomy, as sterilization for women is so much harder and more difficult – medically.

I felt he could pop out for a vasectomy on his lunch break, on the way to collect his Russian-and-chips combo.  I could see that Kennith really was not keen on a vasectomy, but he felt okay to volunteer me for sterilization.  Because I knew he was not going to be doing it, I felt confident to keep pushing the point that he should do it because his tackle was within easier reach to a doctor with a scalpel.

While pregnant Kennith suggested I look at being sterilized at the same time that the  doctors were digging around in my nether regions.  Kennith is all about value for money.  He figured while they were there plucking a baby out and rearranging a placenta, they might as well do a bit of house-keeping as well.  I was there, they were there, you see his argument. The thing was that I really could not argue with him …. in theory

We had three children, we really did not need any more – we were also rapidly running out of car seat space.

But here is the rub. There is just this inability on my part to agree to being sterilized.  I kept saying that “I don’t want any more children, but I am not ready to make that decision right now.” This statement strikes the fear of God into Kennith. I can imagine his look of horror if I bounded into the room with two stripes on a home pregnancy test.

After the birth of our third child, during those rather difficult (I am being wildly polite here) 6 weeks, Kennith volunteered to get a vasectomy.  He literally rolled over to me one night as I was struggling to settle Isabelle, and said: “I’m going to get a vasectomy….”

At the time, I am sure he was keen to trot down the passage and do it himself with a dessert spoon.  I believe he was really just looking for an excuse to get out of the house and have an afternoon lie down on a hospital bed.  We really were having a grim time, so it almost seemed like a worthwhile outing.

The idea that there was the slightest chance that we could have another newborn, who could systematically destroy our will-to-live in a mere 6 weeks was too much for Kennith to bear.

In Kennith’s defense, it does show his undying optimism that he thought he might be getting access to sex again, but that is another story for another post.

I really would not have looked at a fourth child, I just felt that I was not ready for that decision to be made in such a “final” manner.

I am fine to decide not to have another child, but the idea that the decision would be taken away from me – albeit by my medical consent – was just not a decision I was willing to make.

I feel I want to know where the door and the keys are. I did not want to have to deal with the fact that the door was bricked up with no access at all.  I may not want to actually walk through the door, but I needed to know the door still worked.

I do wonder how parents make this decision that one, or two, or three children or what ever that magic number is enough.

I have a friend who made the decision when she was less than thirty and she had two children.  Those two children were hard won, due to the difficulties she had endured falling pregnant and maintaining those pregnancies.

At the time I did not really think about it when she said she had been sterilized after her second.  But now I stand and wonder how she had the insight/strength to make that decision and know she would never look back at that moment and go “I wish I had waited.”

How do couples/women make that decision?  I can honestly say I can’t – I fear the possible regret.

The one about Rachel and Dutch Courage ….

Yesterday I saw a forum posting that was asking for assistance at an Orphanage in Hermanus – they had a set of twins who were 8 months and a tiny baby that they needed assistance with for either fostering or adoption.  I nearly wept, who am I kidding, I really did have a little cry at work hiding behind my monitor (I also just got a new monitor that is one of those large flat big screen numbers, so it allows me to duck down and not be seen – handy that.)

One of the side effects of having your own children, is that you become this emotional vessel that can be tapped in to by all other children.  You can happily watch a man been mowed down by a bus and feel very little, but when you see a child hurt or abandoned, your urge is to go over there and pick that baby up and just smother them in love and care.

We had dinner with friend last night and our one friend Rachel is one of those Godsend-good-people.  She is sweet and lovely, and generous of spirit, and she makes the best baked goods as gifts.  She is also a nurse – and her last job was working at an organization that deals with HIV-POSITIVE babies and children.  Many are abandoned, or do not have parents so the organization she worked for cares for these children and does all sorts of other things i.e medical care, counseling etc.

I was telling her about this forum post I saw, and I wanted to know what was involved in being able to adopt – I didn’t understand the process, and if anyone knew she would.  Rachel explained the process, and really it comes down to a social worker who is so overloaded with cases, that they often are not able to work effectively.  One of their roles is to research and check that the baby/child does not have any living relatives and then they start with the adoption process with the prospective parents.

Unfortunately being overloaded and having limited resources means that they can’t always do it.  Rachel said that sometimes the prospective parents do the “detective work” and then present it to the case worker to speed up the process, which makes sense.  Of course this does make it sad to think that there are these kids sitting in limbo because the “investigation” is taking a long time.

Kennith felt I was being way-way-way too interested in adopting anyone or anything, and gave me a few loud glances to ensure that I understood that he was not so keen on adding more off-spring to our already cramped car.

While we got home, I had a bit of dutch courage (probably brought on by the two or more bottles of Chenin Blanc) and was able to say what had been ticking on in my head for some time. I knew it was there, but thought if I told Kennith, he would be so vehemently against it that I would feel this conflict – because I was not sure what I wanted, but I did not want him to stand and tell me that I could not have it.  I wanted to feel that I could explore this until I was sure what I wanted.

What I said, was that I feel that I am not finished with children.  I do realize that I can’t cope with the three I have, I realize that I may soon be institutionalized, and I realize I often want to run away.  But something in my heart tells me that there is a possibility that I might want a fourth child! 

I can’t really fathom where this is coming from, or what is driving this.  I have had many soul-searching wanderings in my head regarding this topic.  It is just this urge, this little push that I feel inside me. 

I am also about to be 38, so if I am planning on having a fourth I do not have much time – if I haven’t already shot over the time allowed.  But at the same time I am not one hundred percent sure that I want to go through a pregnancy, and risk the stress, anxiety and the risk that at my “advanced age” maybe my eggs are a little old to work properly. I may decide to have a child join us through an adoption process.  I just don’t know.

Before I get the “how crazy are you” comments – I do know how insane this sounds.  I can stand and argue with you, why it is probably not the best idea I have had.  I can help you list the reasons of why it is a really really bad idea. 

But on the other hand .. there is this little tap-tap-tapping inside me, and right now I am just going to sit and listen to it and see where we go.