Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rough Night

Just wanted to write a quick post about our adventures last night. It was scary, but everything seems to be fine now.

Right after I got home from work, I was going outside to check the mail.  The dog decided to follow me out (which he is well trained not to do).  I told him to go back in and he didn't so I turned to get him and take him back inside.  Evidently I moved too fast and lost my footing which made me tumble forward.  I really don't know how it all happened, it was too fast.  I took most of the force on my right hand and left knee, and somehow really hurt my ribs.  I did get my belly a bit which sent me into a nice long Braxton-Hicks contraction.

I stumbled inside and collapsed on the couch while I remembered how to breath and took inventory of my injuries.  My belly finally relaxed and the baby started kicking after a little while.  I texted A to let her know what happened and decided to wait to talk to the midwife until I was at our Centering Class later in the evening.

When it was our turn with the midwife I told her what happened.  She listened to the baby's heartbeat, which was normal and told me what their procedure was for belly trauma.  Since my belly didn't take the worst of the fall she wasn't sure if I could get away with skipping all the extra tests and had me talk to the other midwife at the clinic.  The second midwife said we should go to the hospital for monitoring, just in case.

The next 4 hours were spent at the hospital. The baby really didn't like the hours of doppler and kept kicking the monitor and moving so it wouldn't pick up her heartbeat. They also decided I needed to go ahead and get a RhoGAM shot since my blood is Rh negative even though the midwife though I could wait until the normal 28 weeks.  Once I finally had the shot we had a quick ultrasound to check fluid levels (which were perfect), and went on our way. 

Since then I have been quite sore and having more contractions than normal, but they aren't often or regular enough to raise any red flags.

So yeah, nice way to ring in the last trimester (which starts on Saturday)!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mothers' Day

Yes, yes, I know.  Mothers' Day was a week ago and I am a slacker.  However, its been a rough week on the sleep front, so I haven't had much motivation to write.

Last year Mothers' Day was sort of hard for us.  We had the foster kids so we had lots of well-wishes and A's mom gave us photos of the foster kiddos we've had in starfish frames (here is a version of the starfish story).  The week before we had helped the kids make a hand and foot print painting for their mother, and sent all of the crafts from daycare home for her as well. Overall it was a good day, but bittersweet none the less. How can you celebrate your family when you prepare by making presents for the "real" mother? How can you really be a mother when it is temporary? 

This year was different.  While we were trying to figure out what to do for our mothers, A asked what I wanted. I replied that I didn't really want anything and asked if she did. She looked a little disappointed, but said no.  I tend to be a scrooge about holidays which is a sharp contrast from A.  I realized that I needed to figure out how to make sure we always have a happy Mothers' Day.

Over the next few days I spent some time thinking about what I really wanted, what was important about the holiday, and why I wasn't looking forward to it. What I realized is that I've started finding a lot of the holidays to just be stressful. All of the ads for gifts are ridiculous. Not only would I never want someone to give me any of these "perfect gift for all of the mothers in your life", but I really don't have anyone who would want to receive one. So what is the real "perfect gift"? Why do we give gifts at all? Gifts are just a token that show someone we were thinking about them and care about them.  So why does it have to be tangible?

My ideal Mothers' Day, as it turns out, really doesn't need any traditional gifts. When I thought about it, I just wanted a day that we could celebrate our family.  This is what I told A.  I just wanted to be able to get away from the everyday stresses and be together.  Lately this means being outside.  She seemed on board.  So this will be our new tradition.  We will go on a picnic or camping, we will be together, and we won't worry about anything else.

That brings us to this year! I told my mom how I felt and asked if they wanted to go on a brunch picnic with us, and she loved the idea. It turned out that our brunch menu was a little over-ambitious, but we made it to our picnic eventually. We had a made a carmelized onion, spinach, and gruyere cheese strata, fruit salad, muffins, and bacon.  We packed our cooler, picked my parents up, and headed to Saguaro National Park. We got there and drove to the more out-of-the-way picnic area and set up.  It was then that we realized we forgot the most important part of the meal, the bacon!  By this point is was getting rather warm out, but we went on a short hike anyways.  We took lots of pictures and got attacked by lots of gnats!

That afternoon we drove up to Casa Grande and met A's family for an early dinner. Her parents got us a few books on motherhood.  We ate a big meal at Chili's and hung out for a while catching up and showing off A's new car (which has been named Mo).  Eventually we started our trek home. Both ways I worked on a hat for our little girl.  Unfortunately I think it is too big... well really I hope its too big!

As we were getting closer I suggested we watch stop and rent "Willow" since A hadn't seen it.  So we got it and headed home for a nice evening snuggled up on the couch.

We talk with other lesbian parents on an online forum and over the next few days everyone recounted their Mothers' days. It was sad to see how poorly many of the non-gestational mothers were treated by their families or their partner's families. One story that really struck me was a woman who was the non-gestational parent for their first and just gave birth to their second.  Her family congratulated her on her first Mothers' day as a real mother.  There were a few other couples who it was even more complicated by the non-gestational mother being butch.  It seems like there were a lot of hurt feelings.  That being said, our families and friends were wonderful!

I leave you with a comic that someone posted on the forum-

Friday, May 11, 2012

Donor Sperm: The Story Beneath the Baby

Lesbians across the country, nay, across the world may be dreaming of making babies of their own right at this very moment.  I know of several, personally.  As all of us know, two women cannot make a baby without "help".  So, these women make a decision about how to get this new family member here.  This is the first decision in a long line of decisions that will impact the rest of our lives and certainly our childrens' entire lives - and yet, many people using donor sperm (not just lesbians, there is a heterosexual couple faction as well as single moms) don't think about the lifelong repercussions.

I'm going to pause right here and mention a few things.
1.  These are my opinions, based on my experiences as the biological child of an adopted person, a lesbian, a soon-to-be-mama of a donor-conceived daughter and someone who has spoken to many others about donor sperm topics.
2.  I am not a professional, but I do believe strongly in what I'm about to tell you.
3.  Please feel free to discuss respectfully in the Comments section, as this is certainly a "hot topic" for some - however, if any rudeness occurs, I am the comment moderator and I have no qualms about not allowing inappropriate comments.

Now that's over with, let's talk it out!  As I mentioned above, the first decision is what kind of sperm donor to use.  That depends on your wishes and your family structure.  Are you looking for a co-parent, who is responsible for some parenting duties?  An "uncle" figure who is involved with the child but does not make parenting decisions?  A man who donated his sperm to a bank for others to purchase?  Do you want your child to have the option of learning this man's identity at some point?  Do you want him to always and forever remain completely anonymous?

There are thousands of combinations of ways people have brought children into this world using a donor, and I don't feel the need to outline them all, but the point I want to get across is that there are many more decisions to make, and it can be a daunting task.  I think some people just get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information they're trying to process; some become lazy and don't want to do the research.  Some don't even realize how important this all is.

As a woman who has experienced the full-blown insane desire to have a baby NOW, RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT RIGHT NOW NOW NOW!, I completely understand why there is so much focus on the pregnancy and on the newborn baby.  That's all I had in my mind's eye, for about a year of hormone-fueled craziness.  I wasn't thinking about when that baby started asking questions about her origins, or when she had a genetics project in science class, or when she found a person to fall in love and have her own babies with. I certainly wasn't thinking about how much her life would be affected, knowing she's missing half her family medical history, half her DNA.

The "baby-craze" somewhat blew over, as we took foster children in and tentatively began planning trying to conceive our own baby.  Life was big and hectic and busy and I didn't have a lot of available space in my brain for the politics of donor conception.

We decided to use a sperm donor from a bank, and we always knew we'd choose a Willing To Be Known Donor.  This means that the donor has agreed to at least one contact between offspring and donor after the child turns 18.  This is important to us because my mom was adopted as an infant, and we have only shreds of incomplete information about her family medical history.  Not to mention the distinct lack of information about her biological father whatsoever.  We don't even know his name, much less if he's still alive or what his traits are.

The issues surrounding donor conception have fascinated me from the start, and it was one of the reasons I attended the American Adoption Congress' conference a few weeks ago.  I mentioned in my last blog that there were a few workshops and a meeting all centering around donor conception.  Of course, I attended everything.  One thing that came away that impacted me was one presenter, Kris, said several times that whenever a person is separated from their genetics, there will be adoption-type issues.  Questioning, lack of a full family medical history, and wondering what the missing biological parent is like, just to mention a few.

The most important thing I brought away from these meetings and workshops is that honesty is always the best route to take.

A friend of mine, one whom I made easily and quickly right then at the conference, is herself both a lesbian and an adoptee.  Being both these things made her realize how important it is to provide her future children with answers about their biology (well, as much as is possible, considering she's adopted...) because she lacks it and sees its importance.  I think that as far as openness and honesty goes, for the child, the combination in my new friend is the most ideal one for a child to be brought into.  She's really got the right idea about things.  Tell the kids the truth, keep the biological father involved in their lives from the start, and raise them to understand that there isn't shame in their family structure.  Just like AAC's new slogan says, "No Secrets, No Fear".  I'm so looking forward to bearing witness to she and her partner's journey into parenthood!  And I'm so glad for them that they've got the perfect friend to help them make babies.  Bravo, ladies!

We hope that as E grows older, she cannot remember the first time she was told about her conception.  We hope to weave her beginning into her life story as simple truth.  We hope we can be open enough and fearless enough to let her ask whatever questions she has, and tell her what we know.  We hope that she never experiences a moment when she feels as if she's "finally told the truth".  I realize this means we're likely going to be talking with our daughter about sperm and eggs and penises and vaginas and uteruses a bit earlier than most families, but I sense this child is going to be far too smart for us to ever even want to lie to or try to deceive.  I suspect 'the stork' is simply not a good enough answer.  I just hope the parents of her friends can manage to not hate us too much when E tells their sons and daughters what she knows about sperm and eggs.  I'm sorry in advance, if your kid is ever friends with my kid.

For me, I don't hold any resentment or embarrassment within myself that we had to have the help of a man to get our daughter.  I'm glad.  I'm glad for that man, and for men who donate their sperm and enable women to have babies they couldn't have otherwise.  That being said, I do know that there are many people, men and women alike, who are upset about having to use donor sperm.  It's embarrassing, for some men, to have to impregnate their wives with another man's genes.  It's angering to some lesbians that they HAVE to put sperm inside themselves to grow their families.  Sometimes, I think the anger and resentment and sense of loss (of one's full biological child) is astronomical and these are the families who either lie entirely about the donor conception, choose anonymous donors so their kids can never threaten to leave them for their "real dad", and resist any line of questioning about the child's parentage*.  This is ultimately the choice of each family, and it is not my place to tell another family how they should parent their children.  Everyone does the very best they can.

*This is absolutely not to say that every single family who falls into the above categories will behave this way, and is more a generalization than accusation.

In my family, we place great importance on E knowing whatever she wants and whatever she can learn.  We are committed to not only doing our best for her as an infant, a child, an adolescent, and a teenager... but also looking out for her best interests as an adult.  And to us, that means as much information about the other half of her genetics as we can possibly give her.

I think our only regret is not having the right person in our lives right now who could be our donor and be involved in her life, someone she could know from the beginning and ask her questions to.  We knew that asking someone to be a donor for us was an immense burden and potentially a lot of heartache, and we just didn't feel anybody like that was in our lives.  I commend anybody who is fortunate enough to have that right person; I'm quite jealous.

We can each only do our best by our kids.

I hope that maybe my thoughts might help someone think about some issues they hadn't considered before.  I hope that everyone does think of their offspring not only as that deliriously desired pregnancy and brand new little squeezeable baby, but as their own person with their own rights to their own information.

My greatest hope is that one day, all donor-conceived individuals have access to their donors and their information.  But things won't change until we change them.  And here I am, asking you to help me fight for our kids' rights by demanding Willing To Be Known Donors from banks, and for not tolerating any banks dropping the ball in contacting the donors for our kids.  This is the first step, until our kids all come of age and can really begin to affect change.

 And one more thing: if it ever comes up, help other people to see why this is so important.

Friday, May 4, 2012

April 23rd-29th : The Conference

I feel terribly disorganized and unsettled lately, and I think the first thing to do is to fix these problems within my own mind.  Often, that means writing everything down.  I fear this is going to be a rather long and jumbled post, so if you feel like going on an adventure, then by all means, keep reading.

You're still with me?  Thanks, friend.  :)

Wow, even now you're still reading.  I haven't bored you yet.  Just wait.

Things have felt totally crazy since last week.  The beginning of last week.  First, I want to mention that the lab I work for has been planning a move into our new building for several months now.  This move was carefully calculated to happen over a weekend so that none of our clients were negatively affected in any way and we got all our specimens processed in the regular timeframe.  This was complicated by the fact that the owner, Dr. S., chose THE. SINGLE. WEEKEND. all year that I was going to be out of town, to do the move over.  I'd already requested off several days to attend the American Adoption Congress' Mile High Expectations annual conference in Denver, CO.  And of course the move got scheduled for while I was gone.  For me, that turned out pretty great because I didn't have to do the heavy lifting or put in the fourteen hour days that my coworkers did... except that I was trying to help them and feeling really guilty that they were to be shorthanded on the ONE weekend they needed me most.  But I'd already paid my entrance to the conference and had plane tickets, so I was not present during the laboratory move.

Last Wednesday, April 25th, T drove me to the airport after two solid days of both of us working our fingers to the bone to get enough product ready to sell.  I was taking STAR necklaces, pins, and bookmarks to sell at the conference and represent One Little Starfish, LLC.  (  It was actually the very first time I'd flown by myself.  Odd.  Needless to say, I managed fine and caught all the right planes and didn't get kidnapped by rogue taxi drivers or anything of the sort.

The American Adoption Congress (AAC) conference began on Wednesday, but I didn't arrive in time to participate on Wednesday.  Thursday was my first full day of conference activities.  (Interesting note: I'd never been to a conference of any sort, either!)  The conference went all the way through Sunday afternoon. My parents had flown into Denver on Monday, as my illustrious mother is on the AAC Board of Directors (she's also an author!) and they had meetings prior to the conference.

The mere idea, right now, of going through and recapping each day in chronological order, is boring and exhausting to me.  If it bores me to THINK about writing it, I'm certainly not going to subject anyone else to reading my summation.  Therefore, I now present you with: AAC conference "snapshots" of A's mind!

Preface: It'll probably seem weird to many of you that the experiences I had that stick out most prominently aren't memories from workshops.  Maybe it *is* weird.  But this is my experience, and my thoughts on why these things affected me most.

*On my flight home, I was seated next to one of the U of A men's rugby players - he slept the whole way.  Somehow, I'd managed to score a seat in the first row, in a wider seat with "stretch" legroom on my Frontier flight.  I didn't pay extra for this, or specify it ahead of time.  I just got amazingly lucky.  (The rugger next to me made sure to say hello to the rest of his team as they boarded the plane!  They were all quite jealous of his prime seating.)  So on this extra comfortable and convenient seat, I took out a small journal and began jotting down things I wanted to remember.  I'd attended only three full days of conference, and yet it felt as if I'd been gone from my wife for weeks.  I surprised myself with the things I remembered and wanted to write about.  Here they are (some of them), in the order I wrote them down.

*Carol - the only 15 year old boy in a 66 year old grandmother's body I've ever met.  This woman, my Carol, spent much of our time together blowing my mind.  Truly, Carol, I love you dearly and you made such an impact on me and I have such fond memories of you!  I met Carol in the Book Room, which was my father's contribution to the conference.  Carol was selling her adoption jewelry and a book she wrote, which regrettably didn't make it from the printer in time to be sold at the conference, but yet she did manage a few presales.  Carol is youthful and energetic, full of stories and life and exuberance.  She wore me out, and I'm 25.  She was a drinking, cussing, hula-hooping, dancing fool!  Carol also has a wit that'll splice a hair in half, and a sense of humor so dry you'll need lotion if you're spending an extended amount of time with her.  The things that came out of your mouth shocked me into silence a few times, Carol, and that is a major accomplishment.  Kudos to you, my dear!  I hope I'm half as lively as you when I'm 66.  (The lighting wasn't great, which is why mostly we've just got blurry cell photos - that and Carol never holds still!)

Yep, that's actually a single hula hoop that has a collapsible "travel" feature!  Go Carol!

*Mom punching Leah in the nose.  A friend of my mom's, Leah, was making the rounds and saying her goodbyes at Saturday night's dance party and apparently my mom was overly exuberant, and instead of throwing her arms around Leah she managed to land a fist right on Leah's nose!  I glanced over at them and saw them both crying - bear in mind, crying was not abnormal at this conference, so I wasn't concerned.  But then I noticed they weren't sad... they were laughing so hard that they could scarcely breathe.  Tears streamed down their faces and only increased as they shared the punching story with everyone else.

*Zach's song and hearing him sing karaoke.  A newfound friend of Leah's - Zach.  An 18 year old man with a kind and friendly face.  Zach and his birthmother, Michelle, were attending the conference together for the first time.  Zach is an amazingly talented songwriter/singer/musician, we came to find out.  He allowed me the pleasure of listening to a song he'd written and played and sung and recorded himself - I was moved to tears by its raw honesty.  Prior to hearing his song, he had snuck up to the DJ booth and signed up to sing Matchbox 20's "Unwell", so as he began to sing we didn't realize it was Zach.  Our group had spent the evening mocking the horrific karaoke singers we'd been cursed with so far, so this fresh and talented voice was like cool water.  Once we realized it was our Zach, the performance took on a new level of intimacy within our group.  Zach has the ability to be so incredibly truthful and real, and he transferred it into his rendition of  "Unwell".  As some of you know, the lyrics go like this,
"I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
I know right now you can't tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you'll see
a different side of me."
Which I thought was a very appropriate song to sing at the end of a very emotional conference, particularly for Zach, who it seemed had made a lot of discoveries about himself and life over the previous few days.  It was a shockingly impactful performance; it moved many of us to tears as we watched his soul pour out of his body.  Zach: you are an amazing person.  I am so excited to see what comes next for you.

*Dinner at La Fogata.  Thursday night, Dad and I found ourselves to be 2 out of a party of 6 people for dinner.  It started as just Leah and us, and then Leah ended up making several invitations and before we knew it, we were having dinner with 3 strangers and one person we'd met only the day previously.  Ohhhhhkay, sure.  (Carol is from Maine, Zach and Michelle are from New Hampshire, Leah lives outside of D.C., and Dad and I are of course, from Arizona!)  Actually, it ended up being a super fantastic time, everyone at dinner was so different and interesting and HILARIOUS that I don't think any of us particularly wanted it to end.  Except that some films were being shown that evening back at the hotel, so we had to get back somewhat quickly.  The three young'uns (Me, Leah, and Zach) had walked over because Carol's little rental car only seated five.  But we didn't have enough time to really walk back so... what to do?  Myself, Leah and Carol had shared a pitcher of margaritas among the three of us (AMONG, not BETWEEN because BETWEEN pertains to only two people - thanks Leah) and none of us were fit to drive.  Dad and Michelle had beers, which left Zach.  The only one too young to drink.  He became our designated driver.  Dad sat in the front seat with him to navigate.  I sat "on the hump" in the backseat, Leah to my left and Michelle to my right.  There wasn't any room for Carol in her own rental!  Before I could suggest some kind of solution, here comes Carol, diving across our laps.  She ended up laying on her back over the three of us, Leah holding her head so it didn't hit into the door.  Zach carefully drove us back to the hotel in this ridiculous arrangement.  We were all laughing so hard, it's a miracle we didn't cause Zach to drive over several curbs.  We did manage to make it back in time to view the films, too!  All's well that ends well.

*Meeting people in the Book Room.  As I mentioned before, Dad was running the Book Room - which is a room, full of books, incidentally.  Okay, really it's a place where people can sell their books/CDs/films/whatever that is associated with the adoption community, but they have to be an attendee at the conference in order to sell their stuff.  I was selling One Little Starfish stuff, and had arrived Wednesday night to set it all up.  Thursday there wasn't much going on, workshop-wise, that I was interested in, so I spent the day with Dad, officially opening the Book Room and helping however I could.  "Helping" turned out to mean more than I'd bargained on, but I was really happy I could be useful rather than a bump on a log.  As people began to filter through the Book Room, I got to make several new friends.  I met so many people through the Book Room, it was incredible!  M.J., who encouraged me to attend the Michigan Womyn's Festival in 2013 and do a workshop with her about donor conception.  Casey, with the most incredible blonde ringlet-ed curls and brightest blue eyes - and who could forget her awesome black leather jacket and tie-dye skirts?!  Carrie, who has written her own memoir but was struggling with what to title it.  Kris, one of the women giving workshops on donor conception.  Amanda, who is an artist and sells inspiration-themed work ( and gave me one of her wonderful "Mental Block"s.  Phyllis, another presenter focusing on donor conception and infertility.  Tall and hilarious red-headed Macy, a friend of my mom's.  My dad worked so hard on the Book Room, and it really showed.  I loved dearly that I was able to spend so much time working alongside him.  I think my favorite part was when I got to tell people who my parents are.  Brings a smile to my face!

*Being so proud of my mother.  My mom is an author.  She wrote a memoir about learning she was adopted late in life (a Late Discovery Adoptee, or LDA) and even more difficult than that, she continues to promote it and herself.  My mom has always been a writer, for as long as I can remember.  It's only been recently that she's authored a book and gotten it published, but I always figured the book part was a foregone conclusion.  She loves to write, it fills up her soul.  However, she doesn't love self-promotion.  She isn't a lover of the spotlight, or a saleswoman.  I know she has to convince herself to get out there and promote the book.  When people ask her to sign their copies of her book, she finds it extremely odd because, like she says, "I'm just one of you guys; we're all the same."  When I stepped foot into the Denver Tech Center for this conference, I felt like hundreds of people already knew me.  I felt so special, so privileged because my mom is the Secretary of the board!  My mom wrote a book!  My mom tells everyone about me and T and our baby!  My mom, whose heart has a never-ending amount of space for new people and new stories.  Whose love is limitless.  Whose selflessness is staggering.  Whose work ethic is incredibly strong.  My mom, who helped to make my body, who helped form my spirit - she's mine.  Her DNA is part of my DNA.  Her roots (or lack of roots) are mine.  Mom, I'm so proud of you and all your accomplishments and I'm SO proud to be YOURS!

* The Mom Mafia.  My mother has a group of birthmoms who she is incredibly close with, whom as a group my father has affectionately nicknamed "The Mom Mafia".  She wouldn't be where she is right now without all her Moms - thank you all so much for taking my mother in under your wings!  I had such a wonderful time meeting many of you.  I hope to see you all again soon.

*My new friend, Sukari.  I met Sukari and Leah both on Wednesday night, as my parents and I were finishing up dinner in the hotel restaurant, Garrity's.  Sukari, I learned, is a Late Discovery Adoptee.  She also is gay.  She and her partner are talking about trying to have a baby of their own in the somewhat near future, so as you can all imagine Sukari and I had a TON to talk about.  We spent many workshops together and had several dinners together.  She and I went to all the donor conception workshops, and my mom even tagged along to the "Let's Start a Donor Revolution" panel discussion Friday night.  Sukari is tall and expressive and gorgeous and funny as shit.  Lady, I had such a great time with you and I hope there's a baby in your belly sooner rather than later.

*Feeling out of place.  I've learned that there are a lot of ways to "fit in" at an adoption conference - it's all about your connection to adoption.  When I introduced myself, it typically went like this, "I'm A from Arizona and I'm the biological child of a Late Discovery Adoptee as well as the soon-to-be mother of a donor-conceived individual."  Though I have a two-pronged entrance into Adoption-Land, still I felt like an outsider.  I never got around to discussing this with Dad; I wonder if he feels the same.  By the end of the conference, I was struck by the number of attendees who had life-altering, mind-blowing incredible personal growth experiences.  I was even more struck by the fact that I hadn't.  That, in and of itself, was fine - but I felt like a stranger poking my face into an intimate family affair.  I got to witness all these terribly emotional and personal journeys that people are taking, and the best (and maybe harshest) analogy I can come up with is that it's like a larger-than-life version of going to the zoo.  I see the animals, I read their placards about where they're from and what they eat, but I don't live their lives.  I get to leave the zoo at the end of the day.

Adoptees are forever adoptees.  Their feelings of loss and abandonment and betrayal aren't only felt once, or even only once a day.  These are their lives.  Being an adoptee, or a birth parent, or an adoptive parent... those are experiences that make up the fabric of life, of each and every moment of every day for the rest of the days they're fortunate enough to walk this earth.  It's not something to simply be "dealt with" and then move on.  I guess that's the biggest thing I learned; not to say that I didn't know it before - but to know it isn't necessarily to live it.  I feel it on a different level now than I ever did before.

I can account for every day in my life.  Every day, I've known who my parents are.  I know who felt my first kicks while I grew in my mother's womb.  I know who saw me be born into this world.  I know whose laughter and funny voices taught me about the humor in life.  I know whose lips kissed my face as a baby.  I know who soothed my cries, who dressed my wounds, who changed my diapers and put up with my trouble-making as a child (and as an adult, for that matter!).  These examples are just a drop in a bucket full of things adoptees don't and probably won't ever know about themselves.  And these things are NOTHING compared to the big-ticket items, like someone's original birth certificate, family medical records, and other things equally important that many adoptees don't have access to - my wonderful mother included.

I don't know that I'm trying to make a point.

I have felt overly full this week, since returning from the conference.  Full of every emotion imaginable.  While I was gone, I thought about my wife and unborn daughter all the time.  I thought about how lucky I am, to have them both.  I developed a huge fear of air travel - what if the plane crashed and something happened to me?  I'd lose my wonderful T, and my darling daughter who I haven't even gotten to meet yet.  The idea of that even now brings tears to my eyes.

I contemplated often what my mother's life was like, as an unborn baby and then an infant and then a child.  She grew up all the way to the age of 43 without anyone telling her that oh yeah, someone else contributed their genetics to her and someone else grew her in their uterus and someone else gave birth to her and someone gave her away and someone entirely different from the first someone had her in their home for her first three months, before she ever went to live with her adoptive family.  I feel such a loss that those pieces of my mom's life are question marks.  Who held her at 2am when she cried?  Did anybody kiss her face and tell her she was beautiful and amazing and miraculous?  Did anybody take pleasure in her sparkling blue eyes and revel in the magic that is inherent in all babies?

What was the name you were first given, Mom?

Someday, we're going to find out.

I've been asked a lot about the conference.  "Oh, how was the adoption conference in Denver?"  I never know what to say, but I do know that nobody really wants to spend two hours talking with me about it, and so I just end up smiling and saying, "You know, it was good!  Thanks for asking."

Because what do you say about being privy to so much personal loss and grief and sadness and the celebration of life that comes anyway, despite all the pain?  I'm not even sure that it's my place to recount the lives I learned about, the stories that break your heart, and the joy that binds everyone.  Or maybe it's all of our places to do that for one another.  

This conference was so FULL.  I could never write a long enough blog to cover it all and the range of emotion to accompany it.  Well, I could, but I don't want to and I doubt you want to read it.  There were a thousand little things I'd like to remember, but most of them are jotted down in my airplane journal on the pages behind my Everleigh Jane doodle.  I guess this is it for now!  I have other actually pregnancy-related things to write about, and now that this is out of the way I'll be able to do it.  I hope you're all doing well.

Top row, left to right: Carol, Leah, Zach, and Michelle
Bottom row, left to right: me! Dad, Mom, and Sukari

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

20 Week Photos, Bradley Class #2, and other ramblings

I know it is a few weeks late, but here are photos from 20 weeks, aka: The Half Way Point!

We had our second Bradley class last Tuesday.  Turns out the other couple dropped out. I'm not going to read much into it, because I have considered doing the same.  I was really hoping to meet some other couples and have it be a group experience, but we will still get the actual content without that, so I don't mind much. It was a fairly uneventful class.  We talked about my food diary and the areas I was lacking. We did some review of the material from the first class, and we talked a bit about the actual anatomy of pregnancy. Really we've read so many books on pregnancy that there was no new information and I really feel no need to review for the "quiz" on it today.

Last weekend A went to a convention for the American Adoption Congress.  She was selling items for our business that focuses on adoption reform and her mother is the secretary of the Congress.  There were some workshops and panels on donor conceived individuals and it sounds like she made some good contacts.  I, however, learned that I do not do well when my wife is away for 4 days.  Just sayin'.

I know when I started this blog a few days ago, I had an actual idea of what I wanted to write about.  However, that seems to be lost to me now, so I think I will end it before it really does just become rambling.

But here is one more photo taken by my lovely wife. I thought it was funny...