Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Resolve to know more...

I've earned the title bad blogger. I go long stretches of time without writing any entries. I go long stretches of time without having anything to blog about. But the one time of year I know I have to blog is during National Infertility Awareness Week. That is happening right now, April 20th-26th. This is the second NIAW I have been a blogger. Before last year, I didn't even know such a week existed, even though I have struggled with infertility for the last six years. I think about all of the other people affected by infertility in some way, shape or form who don't know about this week, who don't know what resources are available to them, who must feel like they are the only ones who struggle and that is part of why I blog; in the hope that SOME of those people, even just ONE of those people, will find my blog and learn about NIAW, learn about the resources that are available to them to help them cope, to help them heal, to help them feel not so alone. And of course, I blog to share my story, to educate friends, family, and even strangers about infertility, and to empower myself and others.

This year's theme for NIAW is "Resolve to know more...". I resolve to know more about adoption. And I encourage all of you to resolve to know more about adoption. I could write several entries about adoption because that is the point in our infertility journey that my husband and I are at.

The truth is, adoption is such a complex process, it involves so many people, so much work, so many emotions, so much time. My husband and I signed with our agency back in October (and even making that decision had its own set of complexities; do we use lawyer vs. agency, domestic vs. international, comparing fees, etc.). We are just now finishing the homestudy process.  It has been overwhelming to say the least. But those are topics for another time. What I really want to write about are the things you can do to support a loved one who is considering, or who is pursuing, adoption.

1. Be informed, be educated. Start researching adoption on your own. Learn about the difference between domestic adoption vs international adoption. Learn about open vs semi open vs closed adoption. Learn about agency vs lawyer adoption. Learn about foster to adopt. Learn about the "adoption triad" and how adoption affects not only the person or couple adopting, but also the birth family and the child. Reach out to adoption agencies for info packets. Research the costs and where the money goes.

You can ask your loved ones those questions too, but it would mean so much if you would take the initiative and do some of the leg work they are doing. Put yourself in their shoes and get a feel for the research they have to do and the questions they have to ask and the road they have to be prepared to go down. Travel some of it with them.

2. Don't say to a person or a couple struggling with, or who has struggled with infertility, to "just adopt".

While you may say this out of love because it hurts you to see them hurting through their inferitlity, struggling with treatments, experiencing miscarriage(s), or because you wonder how much more they are willing to go through to have a child, it doesn't help them. A comment like that just simplifies everything and may make it seem like you think they are doing something wrong, or judging them. Or, that you think they haven't considered all of their options. There are a million and one reasons why a person or a couple can't or won't or are unable to adopt at that time. Maybe it will change in the future, maybe it won't. But trust me, they have thought about it, or will think about it on their own time, in their own way and they will let you know when, or if, adoption is a possibility.

3. Don't make comments like "Once you adopt, you'll get pregnant" or "Adoption is just as good as having your own". 

Those types of comments may seem innocent or even supportive, but they really aren't. Once a person or a couple has decided adoption is the right choice for them, they are 100% (or should be) committed to adoption and that child because that IS how they are going to complete their family and that IS how they are going to have a child; their child. The goal of adoption is not to get pregnant. Adoption is not a substitute, it is just another way. 

And I can only speak for myself here, but after struggling with infertility, I really had to grieve that loss and find closure for the fact that I was never going to have a biological child, create a life with my husband who I love, be pregnant, experience child birth, etc. Adoption is a new chapter and a new beginning. And I am excited about that. But it took me a while, a lot of heartbreak, disappointment, and dealing with many emotions including guilt, anger, and self esteem issues to get to the point of acceptance and excitement about the new chapter of adoption. Adoption is a decision we had to come to in our own time, in our own way.

4. Don't say something like "Well, I could never adopt" or "How are you going to raise someone else's child". Adoption may not be for you, or you may not understand their decision and that's ok. Keep it to yourself.

Comments like this are really a criticism or insult to your loved one who is adopting, and it may make them feel like, or question, if you will love and value their child, if you will accept their child, as you would a child that was born to them, even if that is not at all what you meant. Language is a really tricky thing and words have a way of staying in the back of someone's mind. Think before you speak. 

5. Don't question their method of adoption. "Why are you adopting internationally instead of from our country"? "You know, there are plenty of foster kids who need homes. Why don't you become a foster parent instead"?

Deciding to adopt, and what method of adoption one is going to pursue is a very personal and very complex decision. Every person or couple who chooses adoption and what type of adoption they are going to pursue is very well informed and educated. They don't need other people second guessing them, or telling them they are doing it wrong. Trust them, they know what is best for their family and their goals. Just support their decision and be excited for them. 

6. Understand that they most likely have a long, difficult road ahead of them. They will give you info and updates as things progress. And be ready to support them when they do become parents, just like you would any other parents. They are going to be exhausted, and unsure of themselves, and excited, and scared. 

Also, be ready to support them through the wait, the disruptions, the highs of the matches and the lows when the matches don't work out. Nothing about adoption is easy; NOTHING. 

Now that I've given you this list, it's only fair that I give you some resources.

Resolve is The National Infertility Association. If you are struggling with infertility or considering adoption or any other family building options, you can find resources and information. If you are looking for ways or information on how to offer support, or to educate yourself about infertility and/or adoption, Resolve is a great place to start.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I was pregnant...now I'm not

The day before my birthday we found out I was pregnant. We weren't trying, we weren't expecting, it just happened. And it was an amazing surprise. This pregnancy started off so strong. This one was a fighter. I had to get a couple blood draws to make sure the pregnancy was progressing before the dr would start me on my blood thinner and the extra progesterone. From my first blood test to my 2nd, my hcg more than quadrupled! But number can be misleading little tricksters. Anyway, I started the daily lovenox injections and the progesterone supplement right away. 

I was cautiously optimistic. Even when I started to notice the spotting ( because that happens in like a third of "normal" pregnancies, right?). Even though my hcg stayed low and was only minimally rising after that first quantitative hcg. Even though the ultrasound dated the pregnancy a week behind what it should have been. This was going to be one of those miracle pregnancies that just took a little time to catch up. And my due date was November 8th, my Gram's birthday.  

I made it to 7 weeks before we got the official "this isn't a viable pregnancy" phone call from the nurse. It was a Friday and she said, "I'm sure you know when/if you need to go to the ER. You've been down this road before. I'm sorry". Yes we had; five other times. But this time was supposed to be different.

It's a weird limbo, being pregnant, but not. I wasn't a stranger in this place, but it still felt strange. Strange to know that I was expecting to lose yet another life that had started, but I just couldn't support. Strange to know that even though I was 7 weeks pregnant, the pregnancy had stopped developing around 5 weeks. Should that make me feel better, that at least I wasn't "far along". It doesn't. From that first positive pregnancy test, just like all of the others, I put on the mom hat. I can't disconnect myself from the pregnancy until it is determined to be viable. I guess that would make it so much easier. 

So now, I'm not pregnant at all. I got my results from my final blood draw yesterday. My hcg was at a "1". Anything less than 5 is officially not pregnant. I have to go for a follow up with the dr next week. It's weird being pregnant and then not, without having a baby to show for it. It's weird and it's sad, even if that is how it's meant to be for whatever reason.