Thursday, 31 December 2015

The year everything changed (and kept on changing)

Well, 2015, it's been a helluva ride.

I don't just mean that because it's the year we finally got to tell infertility to piss off as we welcomed our baby boy to our family.  Although of course that's a huge part of it, but it's really just the start.  Looking back on the past 9 months with Q, it sometimes blows my mind just how much change we've gone through on what seems to be an almost daily basis.  How can time seem to pass so slowly at times (I'm looking at you, 3am with a crying baby) and yet whiz by at others?  

When I have a quiet moment, I often catch myself reminiscing about certain stages or phases that Q has gone through in the past 9 months, or things we used to do with him that we don't anymore.  For instance, when he was first born he was such a sound sleeper that we used to keep his bassinet in the living room for the entire day, laying him down to nap in it while M and I (and often my mom or MIL) puttered about, watched TV, made dinner or did chores.  In the evening I'd feed him and then he'd fall asleep on M's chest as we sat on the sofa watching TV.  I'd doze off too, and M would eventually wake me and together we'd carry both Q and his bassinet upstairs to our bedroom for the rest of the night.  Over time, we started putting Q in the bassinet in our room at his bedtime, and we'd come up to bed later.  Then we started putting him in his crib in his own room, although when we went to bed we'd fetch him and transfer him to the bassinet just because we still wanted him close overnight.  Now, he's in his crib all night.  The bassinet still sits in our room, empty save for some baby blankets that Q no longer uses.  I'm pretty sure he wouldn't even fit in it anymore, and yet I can't quite bring myself to put it downstairs even though it would free up a ton of space.  It's as if moving it will somehow erase the memory of those early days.

Some changes have been momentous, like on Halloween night when all of a sudden we had a crawler.  Days later, he was pulling to stand.  Others have been more gradual, like Q (gloriously, blessedly, finally) stretching out his numerous 30-minute catnaps into two (mostly) solid daytime snoozes.  With each change, the old way of doing things disappears, our routine shifts, and we establish a new normal.  Then it all changes again.  Change IS the new normal.

I really owe you guys a proper update on Q and his development, and I really have no excuse other than now that I finally get an hour or two to myself in the middle of the day it's really damn nice to get to have a nap or read a book or just in general not feel like I'm rushing to get everything done.  I'll do a full-on 9 month update in January, I promise, if for no other reason than because I really want to document stuff for myself as well.  

In the meantime, I just want to wish everyone a (belated) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Wherever you are in your journey, I wish you joy and happiness for 2016.  And if that seems impossible, at the very least a smidgen of peace and the fervent hope that next year everything will change for you too.

Monday, 14 December 2015

The bitch is back

I got my period back.

You said it, Yeezy.

Seriously??   I read so many blogs from women parenting after infertility, and most of you guys are still going period-free up to a year after having your babies.  Some of you are wondering when it's coming back so that you can start trying for number two.  And here all I wanted was for it to stay away until I stop breastfeeding, which is probably going to be around the one year point when I head back to work. 

Nope.  Asshole uterus.

In hindsight, the signs were obvious.  I briefly had some EWCM, followed by copious amounts of thick creamy CM that should have alerted me that something was up.  But my body had faked me out a few months earlier with similar signs, and nothing actually happened.  This time around though, it was the real deal.  Q has been stuffing his gob with solids lately and has been increasingly disinterested in breastfeeding despite my best efforts, so I suppose it was to be expected.


It wasn't much of a period, mind you.  Some sludgy brown spotting followed by a day of super light flow, none of it requiring much more than some light tampons and panty liners.  And who knows, I might not get it again for a few months.  But it was enough to trigger some weird feelings that threw me for a bit of a loop.

At first I had the inevitable thought: oh maybe this means we should start taking birth control precautions.  This was followed by the equally inevitable HAHAHAHAHA YOU'RE INFERTILE YOU IDIOT YOU NEEDED AN EGG DONOR reminder.  And yeah yeah yeah, I know what you're going to say next.  In case you've been living under a rock, it seems like every infertile in the blogosphere has been finding themselves oopspregnant lately.  (No hate: I'm seriously very happy for you guys.)

I guess theoretically it could happen to me.  I mean, if I wasn't too tired to have sex, that is.  I still have some eggs, and there might be a decent one in the bunch.  Thing is, though...I'm pretty sure I don't want it to.  One of the things that I'm probably hyper-conscious about having an egg donor baby is making sure that he doesn't feel different in any way, or any less part of our family.  I think I'm probably irrationally afraid that if we got oopspregnant, Q would at some point feel like he's somehow less than the new baby.  Less important, less wanted, less my child.  And I never want those thoughts to ever cross his mind.  Plus I kind of like the thought of him having a full sibling from one of our four frozen embryos in the Czech Republic.  In the event he ever does feel different from a non-DE kid, he'd have someone to talk about it with.  And vice versa.  So while part of me would love to join the unicorn club, I'm pretty sure that if/when we do talk about having another baby, I'd rather it be with our totsicles as opposed to my dodgy eggs.

That said, the return of my period also brought that familiar anxiety, disappointment and sadness that I felt every time I saw blood on the toilet paper over the past couple of years.  Which is totally strange, as I don't want to be pregnant right now at all.  We're not ready for another baby for a whole bunch of reasons.  I wonder if it's not a bit of a conditioned response.  Like Pavlov's dog, I've learned that the arrival of my period means yet another failure of my body to make a baby.  Yet another month with promise unfulfilled.  Yet another month that I need to be sad.

Except it doesn't mean that anymore.  At least it shouldn't.  I wonder if I'll ever get to the point where the arrival of my period just means that it's time to go to the drugstore.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

3rd Blogiversary: Reflections on being a donor egg mom

Wow.  Another year gone, and yet another huge shift in circumstances.  On my first blogiversary, I wrote about feeling left behind.  Last year, I was the one doing the leaving at six months pregnant.  And this year, I'm firmly out of the trenches with an almost 8 month old baby boy.  A boy who fills me with pride and joy every day, and is doing an exceptional job of keeping me on my toes now that he's crawling around and exploring his world.

A boy who wouldn't be here if not for the gift of a stranger.

Before Q's arrival, I wrote about my worries and fears about being a mom to a donor egg baby.  Would I feel like his mother?  Would we bond?  Or would I feel like a surrogate mom to someone else's baby?  Would the donor issue constantly be at the back of my mind, a nagging reminder that my baby was "not quite mine"?

Admittedly, some of these thoughts lingered for a little while after Q's birth, although not in the negative way that I had feared.  In the first month or two, every so often I would catch myself looking at him and the thought would come unbidden to my mind: he's not mine.  Perhaps some of it was that brand new mother incredulity that everyone experiences; the "how could this tiny perfect human possibly be mine?" moment.  But for me, I knew this was also more than a little bit about the donor.  He's not "mine".  There was no emotion attached to it, no sadness or anger.  It was just a statement, almost as if my brain was testing me by throwing it out there every once in a while to see how I felt about it.  And how I felt about it, as it turned out, was this: So what?  

So what? as I changed another diaper.
So what? as I breastfed Q in the middle of the night.
So what? as I held him close while he napped on my chest.

As time went by, this passing thought occurred less and less.  Like any bully, it came seeking a reaction and when it didn't get one, it stopped bothering to try.  Before long I couldn't even remember the last time it had cropped up.  With each act of mothering, any fear that I wasn't a "real" mom was being washed away.

Now, if someone were to suggest to me that I wasn't Q's "real" mom, my answer would be this: if not me, then who?  The donor, while giving us the single vital cell we needed to bring Q to life, has never held him or nourished him.  She's never played with him, tickled him, or elicited a single smile or giggle.  Never soothed his cries or rocked him to sleep.  Never fretted over his illnesses or milestones, or cheered for him as he achieved a goal.  Never laughed at his shenanigans or been frustrated by his fussiness.  She's never experienced a single minute of this precious, amazing little boy's life while I have been there for almost every single joyful, messy, tearful, hilarious, tender, stinky, irritating, fear-filled, awe-inspiring second of it.

Before I gave birth to Q, any time I expressed doubts about being a donor egg mom M would tell me that I was being ridiculous and remind me that it was my body that was allowing Q to grow and thrive, and that it was my body that would give birth to him.  That through these acts, I was already his mother.  This isn't in any way to minimize the contribution of our donor, of course.  If not for her gift of that one tiny cell, Q wouldn't be here, and I will be forever grateful for that.  But that gift doesn't make her his mother.  It might have taken me a bit longer to get here than for someone giving birth to their own genetic child, but in the end I've realized: being his mother is what makes me his mother.

Obvious to some, yes.  But to this donor egg mom, I guess I needed to get here in my own good time.  And now that I am, it's a beautiful place to be.