Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Goodbye, see you later

My last post was really a swan song of sorts. And perhaps I should have left it there, left this blog hanging out in cyberspace waiting for someone in need to come find it. Someone struggling with some or all of the things we struggled with and wanting to find this story.

It happens, it could. 

For some reason there are still page views here all the time even though I've only ever felt like it was a small handful of you, my virtual buddies, reading along.

I've liked to think of someone out there stumbling across this space and it comforting them when they needed it - showing them a future they were hoping or striving for - even if it was after wrapping their minds around terrible news. 

And doing what I'm about to do prevents that possibility, which I feel badly about, for those possible people who I feel for so deeply and profoundly. 

This is going to be my last post, and then I'm going to take down this blog - next week or sometime soon. I need to figure out how to keep all the posts somehow, electronically and maybe by doing one of those books

The things I've written here, all the uncertainty and worry... far from moving past it I want to hold on to it tightly, it helps me understand and wrap my arms and my mind around the life I'm in now. The gorgeous kids who are not even babies anymore. The house we fought for, the fact that I'm able to take the bus into work without having to get off to be sick in a bin by the bus shelter :) 

Our story continues of course. A&P are big and hilarious and just now starting to love on each other in a way that makes the whole hellish first 6 months of twin parenting worth it. A put his arm around P in the pushchair yesterday and I had a little cry. She likes to ruffle his hair (why does he have all the hair? she's such a baldy still, I can't wait for bunches and barrettes).

We're getting on with the business of parenting them and the donor side of it has faded. Faded, but not disappeared. 

This is the reality of this family and something we will only need to acknowledge more and more as they get older and have questions for us about who we are (and are not) and how we came to have them. We want to be prepared for those questions and to help them develop the language and confidence to ask them, and so have been starting to read them a couple of books (both of which are highly recommended for other donor families out there!). We're still stumbling a little (a lot) but working on it.

S and I are good, great even. We were made to do this parenting gig together, it turns out, even if the road here was fraught and kind of terrible. Even if we didn't get to 'make' these babies the way people mean when they normally say that. 

He's such a fabulous dad, and there's not a sliver of worry about whether the babies are attached to him, or he to them. We're having a lot of fun with this, even if parenting toddler twins is a... challenge. I know that we inhabit these roles and love this experience in a totally different way for the struggle, and in a way I'm appreciative of that, truly.

The reason I'm taking down this blog, instead of just leaving it hanging out, is that I'm starting a new job. A job I'm excited about but that has a big public/blog/social media component (email me if you want details! it's about media and parents and kids and it's going to be a challenge and a lot of fun) and I don't feel like I'm adept enough with all those millions of log-ins and profiles to try to keep this space separate from that.

No, I don't have anything to hide. But, I don't know if this is everyone's story either.

To those of you I've gotten to know through your blogs or even in person... thank you for all the support you've given, for the lives you've shared with me for a little while. I will absolutely keep reading along. I hope you'll get in touch if you want (alloallo2013@gmail.com).

And to any of you I don't know, especially if you're out there wanting a baby and lacking something to make it happen (for whatever reason)... You don't know it now, but there's someone in a little house with a very tangly garden, a goofy husband and two tiny maniacs hoping that you get here too, whatever here looks like for you. I'm holding you in my heart and wishing you all lots of love.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Three Aprils

[insert good preamble here about how I never write and blah blah blah. I feel bad/weird about it, not because I feel guilty - is there even anyone reading this now? - but because I feel like I left something about this space/myself/the journey unresolved. and because I still really like reading everyone else's blogs but never comment and I don't want to be a non-contributing stalker. but actually I just want to write about something that happened today and so I'm going to launch in...]

We are back from our third conference of the DCN, a meeting for people and their children who used donor conception (egg, s.perm, double, emb.ryo, you name it) to have their children. We picked up the babies from s's parents who kindly looked after them for us - we were so excited to go get them we were practically skipping down the street to get them and bring them home for bedtime.

We gave them their bottles, sang our special favourite lullabies, had a final cuddle and left them to settle.

We closed the door and I burst into tears. Big heaving heavy tears of total and utter relief to be where we are right this minute. and not where we were two, or even one April ago.

Two Aprils ago we were at the same conference, only we were there on the brink of starting treatment. We had no idea how to go about choosing a donor, everything felt so overwhelming and unknown and utterly, utterly terrifying.

There were so many logistics to consider, all the treatment - how would I feel? would it make me sick or nightmarishly hormonal? would I be able to handle it with work? how long might it take and would it work at all? How could we choose a donor? how could we make such an enormous decision with so many long-term implications that we had no idea how to predict. 

And then - would I miscarry? Would something horrible happen to the babies? Would they be born early or ill? Would we be able to care for them? 

One April ago we didn't go to the conference because I was on bed rest, waiting anxiously for A&P to arrive. 

Looking back on it now inside of all that practical worry, peeking out behind the fears about all the physical things that could go wrong, was a deep and dark worry - about what the babies would be like... would they be 'normal'? and truly... would we really both know how to love them and be with them?

At the conference there are discussion groups based on your situation, and this afternoon in the 's.perm donation general discussion' I was one of only two people in the room who already had children. Everyone else was there exactly as we were two years ago - poised at the end of a diving board with a drop of unknown length and depth. 

I tried my best to be useful to them - as others were to us to years ago - and answered questions about what the treatments felt like emotionally and physically, how we dealt with our clinic etc.

But rather than driving home as we had two years ago deeply emotional and unsettled, we drove home to our babies. Our gorgeous wonderful incredible little people who would not exist in the world if it weren't for the fact that we had to use a donor. 

How could we change anything about what brought us to this point without changing the marvellous people they are and will be? 

I hope I helped the other people there today understand that feeling but I also know there's know way they could truly get the feeling until they get here where we are on the other side. How I hope to see them in a year or two having crossed the boundary. 

We have lots more challenges to come, I know. There was a panel of 9-12 year old DC young people speaking today who were so inspiring and gorgeous and also sobering in terms of thinking about the feelings and issues our kids will face. 

Yet I can't put into words the abiding and almost debilitating relief of being past so many of the scariest of the unknowns, and getting to revel in the joy of getting on with being a parent.



[and if there is anyone still reading this, please do say hello!]

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

love, disloyalty?

I know it's been ages and yadda yadda yadda.

And I want to give you more guilty preamble because I feel like I'm supposed to, but actually I only have a few minutes until the babies wake up and there's something else I felt like I wanted to come here to talk about.

And that is, how much I am in love with my little boy.

Well, sure yes, duh. And gosh, how obnoxious for a formerly-infertily blogger to say. Also, funny to say when you have a little girl to be in love with too.

But bear with me.

I guess the thing is I'm realizing that how much I adore A is actually bringing up some feelings relating to the donor conception that I didn't really know to anticipate, that I really didn't think about at all... and that make me feel - I'm not quite sure how to say it really - but maybe a little disloyal to S? (my hubs, for those of you new here, if anyone is indeed still here)

Here's the thing - P (my little girl) is literally the spitting image of me. She looks exactly like I did as a baby and apparently is so much like how I was as well, down to the way she holds her feet (same as mine, according to photographic evidence and my mother going on about it all the time). I feel a closeness to her and also a frustration that I don't feel with A.

With A it's something somehow more admiring, but also a little more dangerous to me. It's partly to do with their personalities, P is more like me - more reticent, likes to take things in before committing to smiling. Whereas A is full of sunshine, grinning like a loon, really enthusiastic about everything (actually, a LOT like his dad in that respect, his smile is pure S).

He's also so handsome in this way that feels a little mysterious. I can see some aspects of my family in him (he looked a lot like my grandfather actually as a wrinkly newborn) but in many ways I suspect he's closer to what the donor looks like.

And admiring how handsome he is, how wonderful, feels somehow like I'm admiring someone who isn't my husband. It also feels a bit like having a crush on a random unattainable stranger - the way I would back in middle school - that feels a bit distant and slightly odd.

The other day I went out with some friends, one with a baby and one without. So the one without suddenly got one of mine thrust on her - A as he's generally the happier one to hand to people he doesn't know and therefore I guess the one that I literally 'see from a distance' more often.

He has the same coloring as this random friend and seemed to be really enjoying cuddling with her. And I felt so removed from it all, like this could have been her baby as easily as mine, but gosh what a lovely baby it is.

This blog is hugely partial now, since I probably do and only will come here to write about things that relate to our infertility and issues around donor conception rather than the whole run-of-the-mill parenting business (unless you guys want to hear that? I mean, let me know if you do. I have a funny covered-head-to-toe-in-parsnip-vomit story I can share). So I don't mean to somehow sound like this has been some all-consuming thing in my parenting.

But it's something I've been thinking about lately, and since this is the space where I puzzle this stuff through there it is.

Does this feel familiar to anyone?


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

twins

Though I've completely fallen off the wagon with commenting lately, I am still a pretty avid reader of all of your blogs. I love keeping up with how things are going with everyone, but as I'm now reading on my phone or iphone all of the time it's hard to comment regularly.

One thing that seems to be coming up a lot lately is people either wanting or actively NOT wanting twins - either in the context of deciding how many embryos to put back or just fantasising about future possibilities.

I have nothing to compare to, having only ever (for the past 4 months anyhow) had twins. But it's something I think about, knowing how I was pretty freaked out when we I found out we were having two after a dIUI even though of course we knew it was a significant possibility.

The first three months with two babies was unbelievably hard. It's still hard. But there are these glimmers lately of the unreal amazingness of having two that I feel like I want to record, to remember.

A twin mum friend of mine and I were having coffee with the babies the other day (i.e. coffee sat on the table getting cold while I fed my 4-month-olds in succession and she wrangled her active smiley 13-month-olds). I know her through the Donor Conception Network so she's an extra special friend of mine to compare notes with.

A&P are just starting to 'interact' - and by interact I mean they are just starting to realise that there's another baby there, a baby that seems to always be there. But it's so fun to see, them checking each other out and every now and again they catch each others' hands and hold on and sit there shaking their arms around while gripping their siblings' fist. A sometimes gets his hand in P's mouth, and vice versa.

Often when they're in their bouncy chairs they sit there staring up at you and grinning. The feeling of four eyes and two big smiles pointing right at you is unreal. Is hilarious. Is such a deeply fantastic feeling.

My friend and I were talking about how there are these highs with twins that we feel like parents of singletons can't really conceive of. These incredible moments where seeing two babies grow into themselves individually but also as an interdependent pair is like seeing the secrets of the universe unfold. I'm not religious but it feels sort of sublime. 

But the lows. Man. They're low. Two babies screaming and needing you and you can only get to one at a time. Or the occasional melancholy look that they give you when you've been holding the other more - it hurts my heart. 

As time goes on I imagine there will be more highs and more lows. But its nice to emerge from those first few heady months and feel, rather than constantly jealous of how easy it seems to be with just one baby (though if I'm honest I do feel that still, especially when I see people out with their one babies in slings which I wish I could do more), like I've got something unbelievable and awe-inspiring unfolding right here.

Friday, 23 August 2013

August ICLW

Hello!

It's been a (long) while since I signed up for ICLW, probably sometime last year when we were in the midst of treatments (oh here it is...)

Flash forward a year and we are parents to twins via non-anonymous unknown s.perm donation. The potted history is just there to your right --->

And here's the post where I explained more about our story of MFI.

Far from feeling that we've 'moved past' infertility, we are now negotiating our way through raising two beautiful children whose origins are a bit out of the norm. So far we've dealt with a difficult pregnancy, some troubles in the early days and now some of the complicated early feelings and practical issues that donor conception presents us with.

Mostly though, A&P are great and we're having a lovely time. Sometimes hard stuff again rears its ugly head, but we're managing to try to get through it little by little.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

donor issues

We've gotten past the three month mark now and A&P are emerging more and more as people everyday. I feel a bit more confident with them, though still so terrified that I'm doing a terrible job most of the time.

After my last post we decided to extend the storage on our remaining donor straws for another three years. It is hard to imagine the circumstances in which we would even think about trying to have another baby, but still, I felt unable to say goodbye to the chance of a full genetic sibling for A&P if we should change our minds.

When I called the clinic to extend the storage I decided to ask if they would give me information on how many other families had used the same donor. It wasn't entirely off-the-cuff - I had heard of other donor recipients asking for this information and being denied or clinics starting not to give it out so I wanted to ask sooner rather than later.

They told me that the donor had been discontinued because he'd 'reached his quota.' This means 25 families in the US and 27 families internationally (they wouldn't say which countries).

I'm not entirely surprised by this number but it's still a little overwhelming. That probably means at a minimum 50-something children (although I'm not totally clear on whether actually these all result in live births as it sounded that it was kind of unusual that we reported our success to them). And at a maximum, I have no idea? 100? 150? more?

I worry that this is a totally overwhelming number for A&P to take in someday. Though we went with a donor that was UK-compatible (10 families in the UK max) there was no guarantee of limiting the numbers. In a way I suppose there are some upsides - I have thought we would register them on the Donor Sibling Registry at some point and this means that there is even more likelihood of finding genetic half siblings for them (there are already 4 children on there).

But there's a lot that it brings up as well. In the short term, the hardest thing for me has been knowing how to talk to S about it. He's really shut down any time anything about the donor has come up, like when I've asked if he wants to register on the DSR or with the Human Fertilisation and E.mbryology Authority here.

He says he wants to feel more secure in his own relationship to them as their father before he starts thinking about the donor.

On the one hand I get this, I understand that we are just growing into our roles as parents and I certainly don't want to do anything to threaten that. On the other hand I'm sort of surprised about how much the discussion seems to affect him, I sort of thought he was in a more secure place about our decision and it scares/worries me a bit that it is so raw.

I worry that it will remain a hot button issue for him, in such a way that if A&P bring it up he'll react badly in the future. Or that they will subconsciously pick up that it is not okay to talk about it - the absolute LAST thing I want them to feel.

I don't know how to support him to get to a place where bringing it up doesn't have that kind of power over him. I was trying to encourage him to get back to counselling (either going together or on his own) or to connect with two of the men he knows from the Donor Conception Network. He doesn't seem keen to rush out to do either, and I'm left with trying to bide my time a little until he feels more ready.

It was a tough conversation. It is not about me and my timeline but at the same time I'm not sure he'd really get out there and get on with trying to deal with it proactively enough to make me feel like its a safe topic in the meantime.

Am I pushing too hard? Is it ridiculous to even be thinking about these things now? I wish I didn't feel so unsure of it all.

Friday, 9 August 2013

storage questions

I got two calls this week from the s.perm bank where we found our donor this time last year. What do we want to do about the remaining samples, they want to know.

First of all, wow. A year. A huge huge year. Unreal that just over a year ago we were debating the merits of different donors (knowing pretty well that all along we really felt good about the one we chose almost straightaway). And here we are with our babies exactly a year later.

Second. What to do?

In my total paranoia and worry that the process would take a lot longer than it did, we bought 10 straws. We had 4 sent to our clinic in London and the rest are still with the bank in the US.

We both wanted to have 2 kids, and so I wanted to make sure we weren't making treatment choices too early on based on the amount of straws we had left. So we over-purchased thinking it would buy us some options.

Of course, we actually did get pregnant on the third IUI so now we have one straw left at our London clinic and 6 more in the US.

On the one hand, it feels so unlikely that we'd ever try to get pregnant again. We have A&P, our gorgeous babies. And being pregnant was, for me (and to some extent for both of us), about the worst nine months ever. Constant physical exertion, pain, sickness and worry.*

So it sort of seems like we should either sell them back or get rid of them right?

But I can't do that yet.

There's a tiny part of me that just feels like - what if? What if in a few years I change my mind and want another baby? What if when everyone I've met around me in new baby circles starts having second children and I start thinking about it too?

As amazing as it is to see twins interact, I feel sort of sad that there's not going to be an older sibling/younger sibling relationship in this family - I won't get to see A&P try to interact with a younger sib, or a younger sib look up to them.

Then the worrying starts - what if I opened the door to that want and had a much harder time getting pregnant again? Or what if we got pregnant with twins again? Neither of us really wanted more than two kids originally... it feels much more overwhelming to have your kids outnumber you let alone having tiny toddler twins and a baby or two babies... And what if being pregnant again was just as hard, but with kids to look after.

The storage is really expensive, but maybe not prohibitively so. I mean, what's another several hundred dollars in the scheme of the insanity of IF costs?

My instinct is to store it for another 2-3 years and make a decision then. I can't imagine selling it back, for some reason it feels like underlining the commercial nature of all of this when I feel too far from that now. I think maybe we'd consider selling to another family who already used the same donor, but I'd have to cross that bridge when we get there.

But is it crazy to even think about that? To be anything other than 100% sure that this is the end for us? I'd love to know what you guys think, what would you do in my shoes?



*I can't stress enough how much better even the hardest times of the early days with twins are than being pregnant with twins... Though I should note this is for me. In my twin club we've compared notes and I had a much harder pregnancy than most, and a much more hands-on husband than most too.