Donor decisions.

So we are cancelling one of our two upcoming fertility clinic appointments as we think we’ve narrowed down our search to the place that will (hopefully) help us make a baby in the near future. My best friend happens to work for the hospital with which this particular clinic is affiliated and highly recommended it before I began any of my online searches (did I mention that my best friend is a nurse practitioner in the women’s health field and her fiancee is a gynecologist? She is my go-to for all lady issues and has been AMAZING during this process because she seems to always know the answers to my questions before I know the questions themselves. More on her later…)

In addition to the fact that the bestie works for the hospital with which this clinic is affiliated, my own gynecologist recommended them (I go to a different practice than the one at which my friend works – I love asking her questions, but I think it would be weird opening my legs to her…though she’s told me plenty of times that “a vagina is a vagina”), and the lesbian couple with whom my wife and I had dinner a few weeks ago used this practice and got pregnant on their first try with this doctor (after trying for a while at home). We’re pretty stoked about the upcoming visit, and feel pretty confident that this is the practice we’ll be using to have a baby.

In the meantime, I’ve been casually perusing (read: incessantly searching) the database of the sperm bank we think we’d like to move forward with, and have about 20 favorites flagged to do more research on. We plan to reach out to the bank once the date gets closer for more in-depth info on our choices.

When we first discussed the possibility of having kids, we always knew I’d be the carrier. I’ve wanted to experience pregnancy for as long as I can remember (it was never NOT an option, really), and my wife is the total opposite (she says its a body sacrifice that she isn’t willing to make). We considered the idea of asking one of her two brothers to be our donor and attempt at-home inseminations or in-clinic IUI, however, one of her brothers who initially offered before we got married changed his mind (he and his wife just had a baby and I think they are afraid that it will complicate things for their daughter which I can certainly understand) and we aren’t terribly close with her other brother and we felt funny asking. So we began to discuss more and more the possibility of using donor sperm. At first, I was completely averse to the idea: I wanted my babies to understand from where (and from whom) they came and understand their complete family history, genetics, etc. What I didn’t realize, though, is how much of that is available through donor databases and now that I have been searching, I’m kind of excited by the idea of getting to select someone who has certain traits and characteristics and a particular background to help create our kids. It’s like…match.com, but for genetic traits and characteristics. And baby pictures. SO. MANY. BABY PICTURES.

I mean, if you’ve seen a bunch of baby pictures of someone, and you know about their hopes and dreams, and you know a little about their background and genetic makeup…you KIND OF know them right?

Then I tell myself: it doesn’t matter. This baby will be mine, and my wife’s. We will raise it, love it, nurture it, and support it: where it got 50% of its genetic makeup doesn’t matter. Or does it? I’d love to hear the perspective of someone who conceived with donor sperm. Am I crazy? Did you ever think this? Did it completely dissipate as your baby grew?

The other thing I am stuck on now, is whether or not to fixate on the idea of identifying an “open” donor or not. So sperm banks appear to have truly anonymous donors, as well as “open” donors with whom the child could have at LEAST one (more if both parties agree) communication with the donor when they turn 18. I like the idea that if my kid ever wanted to, they could at least ask the questions and perhaps get an answer or two – if not a relationship with this person with whom they share DNA. Again, I’m not sure if this matters. I don’t know anyone who was the offspring of someone who used donor sperm (nor a I close with anyone who was adopted to ask) so I don’t know if this is just me in my own head, or if it’s a realistic fear.

Another thought that’s been floating around my mind heading into tomorrow: St. Patrick’s Day. My family is predominately Irish (especially on my dad’s side) and I have always felt a connection with Irish-American culture, and I wonder if my sharing of that culture of my children will be enough if they don’t also share that blood-link to my Irish roots. If we go the route of reciprocal IVF (where I would carry my wife’s embryo) and don’t select a donor with a similar ancestry as me, my kids very well may NOT be Irish by blood – but will they still feel that connection to Irish music and food? Will they still feel that sense of belonging at Irish celebrations? And again…does it matter if they feel loved? I’m really torn.

Would love some insight, here.

 

 

 

First appointment, tomorrow!

So I think I’m in a slightly better place than I was the other night. Tomorrow is my first appointment with the fertility clinic that we hope to use to get pregnant. It was supposed to be “our” first appointment, but my wife’s boss decided that no one was allowed to take time off until further notice (sick or otherwise) since they are short one person and have been since early December (it’s a small department), and are backed up on paperwork. This is super frustrating since she goes in early and works through lunch almost everyday, but we are so incredibly fortunate that her job has extensive benefits that will hopefully cover a majority of our fertility expenses (fingers crossed – I should know more after the appointment, tomorrow) so we are going to make the best of it and I’ll fill her in on the first appointment afterward.

All things considered: it isn’t the end of the world, it just feels shitty that we can’t be there together. We planned for this appointment to be one during which we assessed our options, determined the financial feasibility of each of those options with insurance and everything else taken into consideration, and we planned to discuss a potential timeline with the doctor. I have no idea how long any of this will take, and when they might suggest getting started if we would like to be pregnant  by a certain time We just got married two months ago, so we were planning to spend a few months relaxing and enjoying each other’s company as a married couple before taking that next step, so in an ideal world, we’ll (I’ll) actually get pregnant sometime later this year – maybe late summer/early fall. This will also give me time to navigate some big (company) changes at work and get to know my new boss and place in the company before having to think about maternity leave. That was our plan for the last few months.

Lately, though, everything has just felt so uncertain. I have acquaintances who have gone through the process of second parent adoption to solidify their rights as parents to their beautiful babies, and I am so incredibly fearful that waiting to conceive will backfire and our right to marry will be stripped away, or something else will happen to leave our growing family vulnerable to hastily constructed, discriminatory laws. Our new president seems so hell bent on dividing people: pitting us against one another, and sparing only those with bank accounts large enough to buy themselves a seat at his table.

And then I find myself thinking: what right do I have to feel unsafe? I walk around cloaked in the privilege of my fair, freckled complexion, my blue eyes, and long hair. If my wife and I want to be left alone, we simply don’t hold hands or kiss in public, and no one has any idea that we are “Mrs. and Mrs.”.So many others don’t have that privilege due to their skin color, gender expression, religious expression, or the language they speak. It’s so unfair. So cruel. And so incredibly common.

So anyway, I said that I wouldn’t get into too much politics, here. I swear that is my intention (we’ll see if it pans out). I’m just afraid, and frustrated – at a time in my life that I thought I would be the happiest.

I still haven’t heard back from that Islamic cultural center, but I did get two of my coworkers to agree to go with me to the local soup kitchen to drop off some baked goods, so I am considering making them some cake and brownies from scratch this weekend. It is so unnecessary – dessert – but I think something that is made fresh from real ingredients can really change your perspective on life – if only for a moment – so I’m going to give it a shot.

Would love good vibes for a successful first appointment, tomorrow! Fingers crossed that insurance will cover more than we think, and doctor anticipates a smooth process!

Jenn

Politics and Love.

The words aren’t coming tonight, y’all. I’d intended for my second blog post to be a venture into our current pre-baby lives: a place to set the stage for what is (God-willing) to come, but I have to tell you a secret: I did something I wasn’t supposed to do.

I’ve been a bit addicted to social media these last few months. To set the stage for you a bit:

On November 8th, I had what felt like the last normal night in a very long time. I fell asleep watching the results of the election pour in on TV with tears in my eyes and a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach. My – then fiancee –  stroked my hair and told me to go to sleep – that it was too early to make any predictions and that I needed to relax. “What if…” I choked out, a knot forming in my throat. “What if…”

I drifted off for a few short, relatively peaceful hours, and when I awoke, I checked Facebook simply to settle my fears as I’d hoped to fall back asleep peacefully – certain that what the news had been predicting as I’d fallen asleep had been wrong. Inaccurate. A mistake.

I scrolled past post, after post, of what I imagined to be guttural cries of disbelief, shock, and horror – if Facebook posts could could mirror the spoken voices of their written words. I began to cry: silently at first, followed by deep hiccups and sobs. I literally felt like someone had died. The last time I cried that much I’d gone through the most significant breakup of my life. I felt devastated. Defeated. Broken.

I woke my fiancee and told her what I’d seen. “Go back to bed,” she pleaded. “We both have to work tomorrow.” She doesn’t follow politics. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say she hates it, which is dumbfounding at times, because the actions of politicians in this country can have a dramatic affect on our personal lives and newly afforded rights as a married couple. Still – she hates it. I got myself a blanket, curled up on the couch ,and scrolled through Facebook for another hour or so – searching for any small signs that the world wasn’t completely different than the one I’d inhabited before I’d fallen asleep. I knew so few supporters of our new president, before the election. Everyone I’d spoken with agreed that he was unstable, uncouth, and unintelligent. The only people I’d seen support him before the election were people who were so far right that they may have casted a vote for der fuhrer himself, had he been on the ballot.I couldn’t fathom a world in which more people than not valued antisemitism, homophobia, racism, and misogyny – the only things it had seemed as though that man had stood up for in the months leading up to his election. That world made me so angry, so fearful, and so incredibly sad. (Note: as it turns out, I was incorrect in that assumption about what “more people than not” stood for, but nonetheless, our president is now our president and onward we move…)

It took a beautiful middle-of-the-night conversation with an old friend from college, some messages of solidarity and warmth from people I had not spoken with in the recent past, a few more hours of sleep, a day of mourning, and a few – very candid – conversations during which my wife let me know what she thought of my newfound obsession with politics – to realize that the world wasn’t completely different, my life not in complete disarray as a result of the election, and that hope and beauty still existed in the world – and perhaps more importantly at that moment- in my life. And that is still getting me through each day of our new reality.

So fast forward to yesterday – my wife bet me (or…let’s be honest, she gave me a kind ultimatum) that I couldn’t stay off of Facebook for one week (where I end up having access to more political news and opinions than I probably need access to on a daily basis). When I sat down to make this post, I’d been a little more than 24 hours Facebook free since I’d logged out on my phone, but I was still logged in (browser tab open and all) on my laptop. This naturally led to an unplanned relapse, and I’m once again after reading the hateful (and oftentimes plain ignorant) words of friends and family, I am left feeling angry, sad, and frustrated (three feelings which have been regular company in my life these last three months), so when I sat down to write a happy post about some of the background for our upcoming fertility doctor visit (and a little story about our wedding), I couldn’t find the words.

There is so much more I would like to articulate about my feelings about the election and the new demander-in-chief (and please don’t think that “gay rights” are what is driving me to feel the sadness and dread that I do, as it is so, so much more than that), but I think that’s enough for tonight, and probably for a while on this blog. I want this to be a predominately happy and safe space, but it is challenging because it doesn’t really feel like we live in a happy or safe world at the moment. Having a household led by two women puts us in a particularly precarious position in this “new” country, and I feel as though I routinely oscillate between fear and rage: the only two knee-jerk reactions that I think could protect us in a situation which warranted protection, and that makes me angry and sad.

Battles have never been won, though, by people curling up into holes and succumbing to their fears and rage, and I certainly do not plan to try. Each day, I wake up and think about the positive things I can do to impact the world around me, and have begun looking into regularly baking goods for an area homeless shelter, and volunteering time at an Islamic cultural center (if they’ll have me – still waiting to hear back).

I think one of my biggest fears still is the fact that I could be bringing children into a world that is less safe, less kind, and less welcoming than the one I was born into over 30 years ago and that is simply unacceptable. I think that parents have a responsibility to handing their children a world that is just a little bit better than the one they were given – otherwise, what is the point of it all? Of having children? Of LIVING?

I refuse to hand my children anything less than what I was given, and I am damn sure going to try to give them something greater than I had, and hope that I also gift them with the skills and confidence to make it even better.

I hope, I hope…