Friday, August 2, 2013

Will I Ever?

Feel normal, that is?

OK that sounds dramatic.

I mean normal in parenting situations.

Let me explain.

We recently went to a birthday party of a classmate of our kids (have I mentioned they adore Montessori preschool?). In my head I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to meet other parents of their classmates, but, as per usual, my head was wrong.

Duh. The kid invited everyone in the class, sure, but that didn't mean anyone else was necessarily going. So basically the birthday party consisted of twenty other couples with their kids that were the primary friends of the birthday kid and then us, the MTLs.

It was a big party. That's a lot of kids for a two year old party in my humble opinion. It was overdone. It was over the top. But that's a whole other blog post.

Was it surprising we were the only transracial family? Not really.

But it seemed to isolate us.

Granted, we were the outsiders from the get-go being that everyone else was close friends and family.
I get that, really I do.

But we hardly talked with anyone. I felt at odds with everyone else. There were pregnant bellies EVERYWHERE because this was a two year old birthday party and naturally the second babies were all on their way.

I immediately assumed I was surrounded by fertiles. It's true I didn't know anyone's particular story but that was how it felt. Me= the odd-Mom out.

We cut our losses and headed out of there after one hour of a two hour party, using the excuse that our kids were ready to nap early because they had been up since 5:05 am. (Sadly, this part was 100% true. Why don't my kids like to sleep teeny tiny bit late, ever?)
On the drive home my DH and I compared notes on how different we felt from every other person/couple there. How it shouldn't mean anything much how we built our family but somehow it can feel like it means everything.

I'm still infertile y'all. Five failed IVFs are proof of that, right? I just have two kids now.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Are You Tribal? (with pictures!)

Parenting can be isolating.
It's true.
You want something so badly and then you get it and you think you're finally 'just like everyone else' and you feel incredibly isolated and it's kind of like "whoa, that wasn't expected."

However misguided, in our early months we didn't have anyone over. I didn't have one meal delivered to our home. Instead, I cooked like mad before they came home and stored up as much stuff as I could and then we ate it all and what happened after that is actually a blur. I know we both lost a lot of weight but that was mostly because of stress and running (literally) everywhere but maybe it was because we didn't eat much. I joke that the best weight loss plan ever was to suddenly parent two kids at once.

I was so anxious as a new parent. I know that's normal. But I think mine was a little bit beyond normal. The truth was, I felt so out of my element I didn't want anyone observing me as a parent--especially another parent. I remember having one good friend over while the kids were napping and then basically shooing her out when they started to wake up--because I guess I was too afraid I'd do something stupid while parenting them in front her (the experienced Mom).

So we holed up, holed in, roomed in, stayed in, and besides a family visit or two here and there really didn't have any help or visitors. Some of that was good for bonding and attachment but most of it was just plain crazy now that I look back on it. We needed help. We needed a tribe.

We still feel--for the most part--alone. We don't have a tribe of close by folks who are parenting young kids as well, where we can zip in and out of each others' homes and lives and trade tips and borrow sugar and swap babysitting favors for each other.

I never knew how important that would be. Or at least in theory it should/could be--since I don't have it I realize I can only fantasize about how nice that would be.

When I was growing up there were four other sets of sisters on our street, all about our ages. We went between the collective five houses and yards all day every day. Everyone's parents watched out for everyone else's kids. I don't really remember the parents necessarily hanging out together but they were friends. And yes, I realize it was a different time, when your kids could run (wild) around the neighborhood, up to the park, down to the corner store, etc. etc. etc.

I recently read a tip on a parenting blog and it just said simply: find your people. Specifically, she advised "Find those who can take your kids at a moment’s notice, or whisk you away for an evening out, or who will squeeze themselves into a too small table in order to share a meal, no matter what food is being served."

That sounds so, so very luxurious and nice.

I've told you many times how much I used to love thirtysomething. I wanted THAT (and now I'm upperthirtysomething so I need to figure it out fast!). The fact that everyone was always in each others' homes, tending each others kids, eating things out of each others fridge, laying around on each others' all looked so normal and plain and nice (of course, I'm first to admit that I would probably be the overly anxious one, always worried what people were thinking of my floors, my food, my parenting, my everything. Damn.)

I don't have that. I don't have a tribe.

The very simple truth is: I don't want to create a new tribe, necessarily. I have people in my life that I love very dearly, but they are far flung. None of my friends live near me. My sister is nearly two hours away. Our neighborhood is somewhat devoid of other parents. I want all my people to magically appear within a one mile radius of ME. Geez, how egocentric is that? Sigh. Oh, and while I'm ordering up exactly what I want I do want a few new tribe members--those who were infertile and then adopted twiblings from Ethiopia. Or at least some transracial adoptive families in the mix.

My question is: do you have a tribe?

On a different note, my what a difference two years makes huh? Of course, I'm still in a Momsuit in all photos :)

PS RunningMama--what happened to your blog? I lost everything in googlereader because I am an idiot.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I don't really know what to say.

I feel like I've been away so long it might not even be worth coming back.

But I miss blogging.

I know, same song, twentieth verse. I keep saying that, and then disappearing for a while.

Today I teared up while holding my little boy so tightly.

I looked at my DH and asked him how we can live in this country and try to raise two African American kids? When do I start teaching them about the horrors of racism? Right now we just talk about the beauty of their skin and hair--because believe me, it is beyond beautiful--but I know, I KNOW, others don't see it that way. And to deny that is just stupid.

I still get looks and weird questions when we're out and about. I try to assume people ask questions out of ignorance and not malice but you know what? Maybe I'll just quit making that assumption. Why do I need to give anyone else the benefit of the doubt?

I shouldn't blog angry. I know that. But here I am.

I am going to try to blog more. I have--as always--a million topics about which I want to write. But then I just never seem to make the time. Some of them involve race. Many of them involve our ongoing conflict of where to live, what to do with our lives. How to balance the love of a career with the love of a family. How to balance everything, all the time. Maybe a few posts about baking (hooray!). And some topics are just me needing to reach out and find out if anyone else has any tips for some of the tribulations of parenting two preschoolers (but yet...I so didn't want to be a Mommy blogger).

My next post will most definitely about having-or not having-- a tribe. Which means it will be mommyish with a sprinkle of infertility pain and a whole lot of other stuff. Wow, what a teaser.

But right now, I'm just going to hold my son (and my daughter too) a little closer and shake my head at the world in which we are living.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I want to, but I can't seem to.

Write, that is.

Here, in this space that for so long had been so comfortable and so necessary.

I have so, so many things that I want to say but then I find myself pulling back and wondering why? Why do I need to say it here, in public? I'm not sure anymore.

I have been processing grief, over losing my father. He is dead and while I know this, some days I still cannot quite get my brain around it. And yet most people--everyone--assumes I'm over it, and because he suffered for so long that it was a very good thing that he passed. And yes, it was a very good thing that he is no longer suffering but I'm still sad. I had breakfast with a friend in NYC (yes, we took a trip!) who had recently lost her mother. We were suddenly in that Fun song, talking and talking about how our parents will die (except they already died) and I didn't feel so alone, or weird.

NYC, ahhh how we had missed thee. It was grand. We happened to be there for the big blizzard, which was lovely. We took long runs in Central Park while the snow fell. Heaven on earth for this runner, who loves a very cold run but doesn't get many. We stayed at the same hotel where we received our adoption referrals December 2010 and it was surreal to be back in that space, to remember those moments where everything changed. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We ate (Indian food on Curry Row is just divine, and has anyone discovered Otarian? OMG--why is there not one where I live?) We shopped. We slept late. We ran.

Did I mention our children were not with us? Two two-year olds in NYC a vacation would not make.

Below I talk about some of the angst of motherhood. I apologize to those who are still the trenches and woud like nothing more than to have this angst.

I am reading a book called Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety.

It's really interesting.

I mean really interesting.

The author talks about how many of today's mothers don't really seem happy, as they worry endlessly about the possibility of not having the perfect child, panicking as each developmental benchmark approaches. She asks why are so many moms so stressed out and so out of balance.

This sentence in a review by the New Yorker sums it up (if you're interested):
Warner argues that the gains of feminism are no match for the frenzied perfectionism of American parenting. In the absence of any meaningful health, child-care, or educational provisions, martyrdom appears to be the only feasible model for successful maternity—with destructive consequences for both mothers and children.

I think there's a whole other layer if you are parenting after infertility, because let's face it--if you waited a very very long time to become a mother you might not be as forgiving of yourself if you're not perfect. And no one is perfect. And there are endless ways to feel like a failure. And I completely agree that for some people, martyrdom seems to be the only way some people know how to parent, and that's a little much wouldn't you say?

Anyone? Anyone?

It's been a crazy two weeks lately--our refrigerator broke, our car broke, our nanny gave notice, we chose a Montessori, our car broke again (only this time, after three hours on the road and while we were being re-routed around a massive wreck that had shut down the freeway--good times, let me tell you!), our internet went kaput but through it all we just kept saying "first world problems, first world problems."

If you're still out there, let me know what you think. About anything. About nothing. About Perfect Madness, if you've read it, or about the ideas it bring ups.

I miss this space.

Friday, February 15, 2013

To Anonymous--Yes! Exactly! (edited)

Ok so there were several anonymous comments but a couple of them were particularly spot on.

I should have chosen different words when I say biology isn't better.

Yes, in terms of adoption, biology is better. And I realize that sentence makes no sense at face value.

No one should ever have to be adopted. Adoption starts with loss. I get that completely. Not in the sense that I have been through it, but I understand the concept.

Please, please, please refer to my previous post where I talked about how the mister and I are the fourth choice for parenting our children. Biological parents are always the choice if that is possible.

But that "if" is a great big IF.

Second choice is other family members, again, IF that is possible.

Third choice is domestic adoption in ones own country and culture.

And then there's the fourth choice: us.

We get it that we weren't first, or second, or even third. But damnit we're doing the best we can and working every day to educate ourselves more on the ways we can help our children cope with their enormous, ENORMOUS losses.

I am not an adoptee so obviously I cannot speak from that position. All I can say--with great, great confidence--is that I know the opposite of losing your genetic past because I lost my genetic future.

I will never share details of my childrens' stories here but suffice it to say that they were in an orphanage and their options were to be adopted or to grow up in an orphanage, and then as tender teenagers, be on their own.

Then there was the anonymous commenter who talked about the guilt argument.


I suffer tremendously. Maybe it's just my personality but here's what swirls through my heart and head on many--most--days.

When you know better, you do better.

I have seen some horrors up close and personal. Horrors that no child should endure. Horrors that exist all the time all around us and it is so, so easy to simply just not think about them.

All of us--fertiles and infertiles alike--as human beings shouldn't tolerate the inequities that abound. But we do.

Because I have seen firsthand children suffering, going hungry, desperate to be held and loved, with little hope of a chance at a family--I can't help but contrast that to my own quest for a family.

It's like Schindler's List, at the end, when he kept thinking about how many more people he could have spared...I think about the money spent on fertility treatments. Yes, it's natural to desire a biological child. But--and let me say very clearly here that I speak only for myself and from my own heart--why did I think I had to have one so badly? There are lots of things I'd like that I don't get, simply because I'm not capable of them. I wish I could have accepted my fate sooner and simply moved on. And I don't get all squishy touchy feely and think that it is because H&H were the only children meant for me. While I cannot imagine any other children because they are the children I am entrusted to raise, I could have parented other children as well.

But really, if there was a way to have given that money and it would have somehow prevented H&H from needing to be adopted I would have, in a heartbeat. Which means I wouldn't have been able to be a parent, which then means I would still have been sad.

But maybe I just should have resolved to be childfree and moved on.

I don't know.

It's all complicated.

But reading the anonymous commenters from adoptees just breaks my heart, because I know how much my children will suffer and I can't spare them that. I know that love is not enough.

EDITED TO ADD: I almost hate having to add something BUT, let me be clear that I'm not condemning IVF, or anyone doing IVF. My God, I did it five times! I'm just saying that in perfect 20/20 hindsight I wish I hadn't done it so much. Everyone has their own path, but for what feels right to me, in my heart, now that I know what I know, I feel differently than I used to. Which is fairly normal for lots and lots of people and processes so it's not really surprising at all. OK, done.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The One Where I Get Angry

And actually, I'm writing this many, many days after the initial insult, so I've cooled off quite a bit.

Even though I have less time than ever before, I do still find myself reading blogs. I'm just too connected to too many people via the interweb to stop.

And I read something recently that was insulting. I doubt the author meant it as insulting but that's the thing, this whole concept is sneaky. And subversive. It's a feeling that I think I am picking up on, time and time again, in many different ways.

Hell, someone could have thought I felt this way when I was pursuing so much damn treatment.

It's the idea that biology is better.

(a side note: anyone who knows me from way back when knows we always said we would 'have one adopt one' because we had this idea that if we adopted first and then had the biological child our adopted child would feel they weren't enough. And then for years we got sidetracked on the having one side of things.)

The sentence in a post that wrankled jumped off the screen and made my adoptive momma heart just ache a bit. Not for myself, but for my kids. For adopted kids everywhere.

I've mentioned before that of all my blogging buddies, of all my infertile peeps, there aren't too many that crossed over to adoption.

And while I get that--as it took me a long time to decide the 'having one' just wasn't going to happen for us--I still feel alone. I still feel like no one else is doing it because they might think it inferior in some way. The things we will put ourselves through to have a pregnancy, or a biological's mind blowing, even from the inside. Remember: I am an insider. I know the drill. I know how damn hard all of it is. And I put myself through a lot. And to a previous post commenter about my shame, of course I know it's all a process. But I also know that sometimes we can get so overfocused on a goal (pregnancy, biological baby, etc) that we stop thinking about living, and all that it means to be alive, and that we're all part of a bigger picture than just our own pursuits.

But that sentence, it really got to me. It was from someone I've followed for a long time. I've supported through lots and lots. But there it was and it felt like I was overhearing someone talking behind my back.

I have a feeling it's like what being the victim of racism feels like. It's subtle and many would never say it to your face, but it's still there, the attitude.


So I was angry angry angry for a while. Hot under the collar, hoppin' mad. All those things and maybe even more.

Now I'm just sad.

Biology isn't better and you'll never convince me otherwise. Most of the people I love most in my life don't share a single gene with me and I love them with my heart and soul and would do anything for them.

I realize I'll probably make some people angry when they read this post. That's certainly not the point. The point is that we should all check ourselves sometimes and examine what is in our true hearts. I guess if you really think biology is better in your true heart of hearts then that's your right. But just know that is hurts some of us, and that your attitude--no matter how well concealed you may think it is--is bound to crop up here and there in ways that others notice.

OK I'm done.
Writing makes it all better, huh?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Adoption Video...only seventeen months later :)

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of 'before' and 'after.'

Especially when dealing with bad news.

I will never forget the few moments before I got the call about my Dad suffering his stroke. I was happily packing up my stuff and getting ready to walk out the door to go to work. DH was walking up the street returning from a run.

The phone rang and it was my sister. We often talked on our respective drives into work so I hastily grabbed it and said--without saying hello--"I'm not in the car yet I'll call you right back."

No, she managed to say before I hung up.

Dad had a stroke.

And then--after.

That was the dividing line between his life and our life before and after. Nothing was the same after and it was never, ever better, only worse, slowly, slowly worse. And now he is gone.

I think about those dividing lines so often that I create them in my imagination. Example: the other day I had just finished speaking with my sister on the phone and it was only about an hour later and she was calling again. I was just stepping into the shower so I didn't answer. But the entire shower I wondered if she was calling over and over and I couldn't hear and what it if was another one of those calls diving time into before and after?

(note: she just wanted to ask me about something related to Target. Whew.)

Most of the time the big traumas of our lives are sudden and there is a before and after.

But not with infertility (in most cases).

Infertility chips away at you slowly, until you are just a pile of wood chips.
And by you, I mean me.

Somehow I found myself flying halfway across the country, twice, spending obscene amounts of money. Somehow I found myself going through five full in vitro cycles when I swore I would never even do one. Somehow I found myself lying in a dark room full of needles in my ears and scalp and stomach and toes. Somehow I found myself choking down disgusting herbs. Somehow I found myself obsessively researching and reading and researching and reading and emailing doctors and wanting to try different crazy protocols and injecting and injecting and injecting hormones hormones hormones into my sad, tired belly.


Because I could not see the forest for the trees.

Oh the forest--becoming a mother!--she was gone to me. All I could see were those damned trees.

I speak for myself only here, but there is a lot of shame in all that I did.

I wanted to be a mother.
There are many ways to become a mother.
None are necessarily easy, and no doubt none are better than any other.
Because all that matters in the end--all that ever, ever, ever should matter--is the love you can give to a child.

My forest, my beautiful forest, you were right there the whole time weren't you?