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!]


  1. Hello!

    I'm still reading.

    Sounds like you had the whole gambit of emotions this time. So glad you went back though; would be easy not to I imagine being knee deep in 2 babies!

  2. I'm still here! What an emotional day. I'm sure your perspective helped those who are in the tough decision-making phase you were in 2 years ago. And look at your little family now!

  3. Hello!

    Still reading here. Your first paragraph/disclaimer . . . yep. I like the full circleness of this post. I like that you have stayed involved with DCN, but I guess thats the nature of it. I don't know if we have anything like that here. Country's probably too small and all that.
    Will be interested to read future posts on the 'issues' that you alluded to from the DC children you heard from as these crop up in your life with your two babies. I'm so keen to stay in touch/read about with other people who have used donor gametes but I totes lack the time to put into it. I'm trying to read Olivia's blog periodically too.
    Blogging is so far in the back seat now, its in the car behind.

    1. I really want to hear how things are going with you guys too! yes, it's great to stay in touch with everyone I met through blogging but I feel particularly so with others who used donor gametes as I think we will need to find support in each other long after all the fertility treatments finish... and we've all moved on from blogging! One thing that came up at the conference is how much everyone just gets on with the day to day business of parenting, but that when the kids are older things happen (like an uniformed religious education teacher in school talking about donor embryos or playground bullying) and you need to turn to your community of support.

      There was a presentation in the afternoon from this totally awesome speaker from Victoria, Australia, who runs a program that works with donor conceived people. I know it's still pretty far from NZ but might be worth reaching out to see if she knows of any resources near you?

    2. Vic's pretty close, in the grand scheme of things. What's her name? I think people over here all know each other, in the field, so to speak. I (think I) know of resources more locally but just not tapped into them. I think there's also a bit of awareness for Mr Stinky and his process, so just trying to keep things talked about, but not talked about too much, if that makes sense. Yep the parenting definitely just takes over and DS slides into the backseat, but I think you're dead right, that stuff will come up in the future loooong after the IVF drugs have faded from the system and its good to have that network, internationally, of how things are/can be approached.

  4. Hello!
    Your preamble spoke to me, especially as someone who just stopped writing. I feel like I need to continue on with my story in case there's someone in our shoes who still needs to hear it.

    I'm glad that you have your little people to go home to. It must have been an emotionally exhausting day. Just remember that your children won't be alone in any feelings/issues they experience. Remember to laugh about some of it. We joke about what we say when our son asks where babies come from. "Well,son, when a mommy and daddy and lab technician love each other very much..."

  5. This is such a sweet post. We're finally, finally about to move forward with an actual IVF cycle--either with DS or without. With the knowledge we are most likely looking at DS children, I think often about how we'll be creating our children, but just not with our genes. Not unlike if we could reproduce in the conventional way, it's through the choice my husband I made to be with one another, to have children together, that our children will be created. That thought is very comforting. What is less comforting is how our future children may feel about it. I'm very interested in learning more about what the 9-12 DC young people had to say. I'm nervous about how our children will feel at that age, just as they're beginning to understand that their conception was different than those of their peers. I'm glad you stopped back in.

    1. that's actually exactly how one of the kids put it! It was so sweet, he was talking about his mum and dad and saying how his dad had explained it that way to him - that even though he was conceived in an unusual way it was very 'normal' in the sense that it was his mum and dad falling in love and wanting to start a family together to make him. He was so cool about the whole thing I wanted to give him a huge hug at the end (he's actually one of the boys in the DCN anniversary video that I think is on their website - check it out!). Good luck to you guys! will be thinking of you.

  6. I am still here, glad to hear from you (and hoping to meet again once).
    I am certain that this blog and meeting people at the conference has already helped someone. I believe very strongly in sharing our stories, all the stories.
    Going back home to your beautiful children must have been so so special.
    It is a different situation, but I think whether or not we will someday tell our Yu the details of her conception. But I love the story above about the kid saying that though unusual: "he was conceived in a very 'normal' (way) in the sense that it was his mum and dad falling in love and wanting to start a family together to make him."
    I think of you often, we should meet someday again! I still remember snowy London.

  7. Hello! I'm reading because you commented on my blog, though I sheepishly cannot remember who you are. I will blame the long, long lapse in blogging for that. I'm so glad that your third April has turned out to be a happy one. Drop me a line and reintroduce yourself if you have a minute! I would love to be reminded who you are ;)

  8. Hi!! I rarely read blogs anymore since I've got a toddler running around! Even when I get a chance to read them, I have to skim through them because there is never enough time...I'm sure you know the feeling :) That conference sounds great! I wish I had something like that to go to. I'm glad you are still updating your blog since you are one of the few people I "know" who has children who are donor conceived. However, I am lucky enough to know 2 of the moms of children who used our same donor, so I'm sure that relationship will grow as the kids get older. Are you guys interested in connecting with half-siblings of your twins? I'm just curious how others handle this situation.