Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Morning Report

Today I am pleased to report:
  • a beautiful morning
  • a smooth run
  • a pooh-free path (well, at least of the human variety.)
May you all have similar good starts to your days!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An Omen Interpreted

Yesterday morning I got up and went for a run. Did you have a chance to go outside yesterday? Here, it was glorious. A perfect, recently-washed, cool but sunny morning. Since my phone is busted (read: since I dropped my droid in the terlit) I don't have my runkeeper to take along, which means I have to just run. No waiting for the smooth monotone voice telling me my average pace or surprising me with distance traveled every five minutes. Nothing to do but run and breathe and think.

And then, up ahead of me, I see a dude squatting at a strange angle. My first thought, oh he's trying to get a nice picture of the sunrise. Because the river truly was lovely yesterday morning. Glassy. Perfectly reflective. But wait. No camera. Hmm. Then he straightens up and goes to the nearest trash bin and picks a large piece of paper from it.

Then he drops his pants to his ankles and wipes his ass.

Right there.

Me, incredulous. And gagging. Seriously dry heaving as I try to pick up my pace and get past the foul as quickly as possible. Part of me truly feels for the guy. At what point do you get to basic survival mode? At what point do you decide that you can't be hassled with dignity? Part of me is thankful that for all our bitching, I have not been reduced to wiping my ass with newspaper on a public walkway. The rest of me was just thoroughly pissed that this dude ruined my morning with his hairy ass and rank feces.

I get home and of course text M immediately. "WTF!?! Is this some sort of omen? A Sign?" I demand.

"Out with the bad...." he replies.

Ok. I'll take that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Sadness

Early this morning, I dreamed that I I had a child. A boy.

In my dream, he was just pushing himself up to stand, perhaps even attempt a step or two for the first time. I looked at a person who was witnessing the event with me and we both just stared in wonder. "Isn't this amazing?" Yes. We both agreed. Amazing. What a wonderful moment.

Later I picked up the little one. He hugged me. Put his head on my shoulder. Called me by my first name. "No, that's mommy," someone corrected. "Mommy," he dutifully repeated. I was heartbroken. Still am.


This gestational surrogacy - it is doing my fucking head in. And we are not even close to starting.

After a long talk, a lot of tears, several attempts at a letter, and some soul searching, we are not going to draft a letter to family and friends to see if anyone wants to come along on this journey with us. We may change our minds, but right now moving forward with an agency seems like the best approach.

A, because of timing. To reach out to family or friends feels like it would prolong this process indefinitely. Because it's their time line, not yours. You can't ask someone to get their medical records in the mail and then be angry with them when its taking a while when hey, they are doing YOU an enormous (understatement) favor. Plus, I am just not sure the average person knows what an IVF pregnancy entails. Why would they? It's not, oh put your baby in me and I will hold it for you and we'll all feel great about it. It's more like, go out of your way to drive to a clinic or lab to have your blood levels monitored before and after a transfer, take lots of drugs and ps, did anyone mention you've just committed to shooting yourself in the ass with inch long needles? For three months? That's the best case scenario. It is a lot to ask (understatement) and I really don't want someone we love to start to hate us and curse us as their butt becomes painfully sore and hormones overtake their senses.

I think we may rather have someone who knows what they're in for and has already said, yes. I can do that. I can handle that. I want to do it.

But now comes the next set of dilemmas. Who to use? What agency to tie your hopes to? I may have mentioned we're working with someone, and they are fine. The first two profiles they shared were meh, but the next one was better, not quite there yet, but closer. And I am hoping they may come ever closer now that we've been a bit more descriptive about what we are looking/hoping for.

We made the mistake last night of wondering, well, who else is out there. What other people/agencies might we contact if this one just can't find a match?

JFC. The choices. They are overwhelming. And vary in price in incomprehensible ways. The fee for a gestational carrier is more or less standard. Shockingly steep, but is it really, considering the task you are asking? And truly, we are resigned to that. But agency fees above and beyond lawyers and setting up escrows and trusts and all the other such that goes with this? Are you really asking me to pay you to speak to you? Before we even select a carrier? And then hand over a five-figure check, before you even offer a single service? I am shocked at what some agencies, particularly those with well-known attorneys at the head, feel they can demand.

And no, we're not even getting into the ethical issues and wondering who is legit and who will break our hearts and put us on the cover of the news and ruin our lives forever.

Because that's a whole other mindfuck.

So, yes, I think we will stay with our little boutique of an agency referred by a friend and see what they can do for us. We may also directly approach one particular family member who has mentioned this in passing before to see if there was any seriousness to the offer. Maybe. Still thinking about that. So, that's where we are.

Meanwhile, I am struggling mightily with anger and bitter and bile and rage. And sadness. Just a terrible sadness.

M has made it clear. He sees no purpose, no function, no point in being if we don't at least TRY. Me, I am so sick and fucking tired of trying. There are not enough expletives to shower this post to say how very, very tired I am of trying.

I would just like all of this to be over and to have a real, live, breathing, healthy baby in my arms. One that someday may even call me mom.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Shaking Off the Crazy

Ok. One night back in my own bed with M. by my side has washed away a little of the crazy that has been consuming me this week. I'm feeling much, much better this morning. Sort of. More like resigned. But that'll work.

Now that I'm home its easy to remember that my association life is not the same as the one that I experienced out there in the Midwest. We are not a world of corporate sponsors and people throwing money at us (understatement). We are not about the hoopla. We are mission-based. What I do is real. I was right, that world isn't my world. It really isn't.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing or getting all high and mighty. I'm just saying that at this point in my life, I was just not up for the shmoozing. Or maybe after 4 days I was just completely and totally over one particular person who had latched on to me early on in the conference and I just kept running into again and again and again. I made the mistake of talking him through a mini-crisis he was having on the first night (ailing family member, he as frustrated caregiver, feeling guilty about being frustrated, unfortunately, a common story in my profession and one I was able to speak to) and he decided we were soul mates. And from that point on it felt like I just couldn't shake him. Or his posse. Or all that came with it. So I found myself caught up in trying to avoid this guy as opposed to trying to lock into the sessions I needed to hear or the other contacts I felt I was supposed to be trying to make.

And, on top of that, as I've mentioned, I just didn't want to be there. Jumping straight into the grid after 3 glorious weeks out without time to process and savor and relish those moments was just too much.

But after a good night's sleep next to someone I love I understand that I have to be there. We must be there. Because we still want a child. And there is no way to do that without the assistance of several parties. All of which will cost a lot of money. So, if a baby is in the future, alas, our space on the grid is locked in. That is just how it has to be.

And as if that realization isn't hard enough, as if that leap isn't a massive mind fuck in the best of situations, along comes a nightmare scenario, one to confirm all of the whispering and doubts that play out in people's minds, or at least make surrogacy synonymous with sketch for a lot of people for a little while longer.


And here is where I borrow some words from Mel, because she nails it. Beyond the shock of a story as sucky as this one, beyond the anger and angst you feel on behalf of the people affected, at the heart of it all is this:
I am so fucking angry that I can’t build my family without assistance and because I need to depend on other people in order to form my family. And I am so fucking angry that the majority of people in this world don’t have to navigate the ethical concerns that come with assisted family building. They want a child, they have sex, and they raise said child. And I am so fucking angry that I have to depend on others.
But that's the way it is. So you give yourself a moment to be angry and outraged and indignant and yes a little self-pitying. And then you wipe your tears and get back to your To Do list of all that needs to take place if you want to be a parent.

Let me tell you where we are with all of that.

I may have mentioned before that we have a family member that is a very willing gestational carrier (GC) for us. That in itself is wonderful, but the timing isn't. Its just not the right time right now. So, while this is our #1 best case scenario, it's not one that can play out for another year or so.

In the meantime, M and I decided to look into an agency to see if we could find a gestational carrier through this route. We found an agency that seemed trustworthy, had worked with our doctors and clinic before, and is more affordable than other places folks had recommended. After spending a full Saturday painstakingly filling out an Intended Parent (IP) questionnaire, we started to receive profiles of potential GCs. The first two were prefaced with an "I think you'll really like them!" by the head of the agency.

We looked at each of the documents and were overwhelmingly underwhelmed. To the point of tears. Responses to questions we had spent time agonizing over were replaced by excessive exclamation points and smiley faces and all caps. I LOVE babies!!!!! (squeeeeee)

Ok, the squee was mine, but at first glance M and I fell back down into our pit of despair.

One of my buddies is exasperated with me. She can't see why any of that matters if there is someone ready and healthy and willing to help us get the child we want. Yes, dude. For a fee. For a substantial fee. And sorry, if I'm paying that substantial fee, I feel I have more than a little skin in the game. I feel I have a right to be a little picky.

And I don't see this as a nine-month proposition. This is someone who will be connected to your life and the life of your child indefinitely. Whether there is constant communication or not. Whether there is a good relationship or not. This person would always be the person that birthed our baby. So I don't want my first impression of that person to be, "hmmm, meh. I guess she'll do." I want it to be, "wow! I cannot wait to meet this person. I hope she likes me too."

I'm wondering if we need to re-evaluate our expectations. And here is where I would LOVE any of you who have already been through this to tell me to a.) stick to my guns or b.) get my head out of my ass.

And while I'm soliciting reader feedback, what do you think about this:

We are thinking about sending out a mass email to friends and family giving them an update on our situation and asking them if anyone knows anyone that would be interested in being a gestational carrier for us. The email would make it clear that there is no need for a response to this - just throwing it out there before we continue down the road with an agency, because obviously, we would so much rather build our family around people that we know and love.

How would you feel if you got an email like that? Is it too much? Pushy? Presumptuous? Would you think we were desperate and out of our minds? M.'s preferred method is a FB status update asking if anyone wants to be our baby mama. I think that's a bit much. But maybe it isn't?


BTW, for those waiting for Australia highlights and photos, swear to goddess its on a To Do list. Need to dig myself out of emails and phone messages and all that first. Short answer: It was incredible. You should go.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

back on the grid

Right now, I'm in St. Louis pretending to be an executive. I'm getting wined and dined by vendors and dutifully attending sessions on Board ethics, improving non dues revenue and all kinds of topics around "Innovation!" Innovation, it seems, is always followed by an exclamation point. Innovation! Can't you just feel the excitement!

This time last week, M and I were running around the streets of Sydney pretending to be Neo from The Matrix closing up almost three weeks wandering through a new country where we remembered how much we love being in motion, being together. We had the use of an old station wagon and someone's camping gear and it was amazing to see how easily we fell back into our old travel routines. M drives. I navigate. We break down the tent. I fold. He packs...In between there and here, there was a kickball game and about 48 hours spent in close proximity to my own bed.

I think its finally catching up with me. Because a full night of a Beatles tribute band with Boomers drunkenly dancing and whooping it up around me was all it took to send me into an existential crisis.

What the fuck am I doing here? This is not my life. These are not my people.

I never thought I would say this: I have eaten too much free food. I have drank too many free drinks. I feel indebted when I shouldn't have to. The excess and consumption is scraping off layers of my soul.

I have to do lists pages and pages long with ways I can improve how my association works and how I can make my own resume better, my career prospects brighter. I look at them this morning, remember what it feels like to wake up at dawn in a tent by the ocean and want none of it. None of it.

I have so much more to say, but I have to force myself into a session or two this morning and I wanted to let you know I was back on the grid. For now.