Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another Grave

It's another rough day. On top of depression and wicked pain (which almost certainly signals the failure of another cycle) there is also another grave and another reason to mourn.

This time it's not one of my babies - it's my brother, who died suddenly while running a race. He was 32 and in great shape, but 1/2 mile from the finish line of a 10K he staggered, turned pale, collapsed, and died within seconds. This happened in full view of hundreds of people who were lining the street and also directly in front of a couple of childhood friends who are paramedics. At least we know that all that could have been done for him was done. We went to the viewing and funeral but I still can't believe it's true. He's buried near my two babies and our baby sister, who also died tragically and suddenly.

He was so young and so adventurous. He skydived, scuba dived, hang glided, and bungee jumped. He was also extremely well-traveled. He and I literally went around the world together. He was my nemesis in childhood and my friend in adulthood. I'll miss him.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Everyone I know who has spent a great deal of time at the doctor's office for any reason seems to have the same complaints as I do. Doctors don't listen, their solution to everything is drugs and/or surgery, they're dismissive and condescending, they never look at past medical records, they make snap judgments with little or no evidence to support them, and if they're ignorant about your particular condition you can be sure they won't do even the most minimal research to educate themselves. After visiting well over a dozen doctors just for my pelvic issues, I for one am not impressed.

For people with chronic or complex conditions, finding a doctor who listens and can offer substantive help can be terribly difficult and frustrating. For people with unusual problems who find themselves in medically uncharted territory, it is terrifying to know that no one in the world knows what is wrong, and no one much cares to find out.

Whatever your medical situation, I recommend getting copies of your medical records so you can learn all you can and be your own advocate - because no one is going to do that for you. Check for errors and omissions. Also, doctors do put in personal commentary about you, which can range from amusing or complimentary to downright rude. If your doctor is a big jerk, it's best to know now and find a new one.  One of my doctors wrote that I'm stoic. I'll consider that a compliment.

Although you have the legal right to see your medical records, in practice it can be quite difficult to get copies. Often clinics will charge "copying fees" in excess of $1 per page, which really adds up because a lot of pages in your file tend to be junk. I find it's best to ask the doctor directly, rather than deal with the office staff. So far I've been able to get all my records for free, but sometimes it's necessary to be very persistent!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Just Adopt"

When friends, relatives, and acquaintances are dispensing their usually unasked-for advice, the question "Why don't you just adopt?" often arises. What I find surprising is that they always precede the word "adopt" with the word "just". Just adopt - as if it were so easy. We've looked into it and there is clearly no "just" about it. We have the paperwork and we do realize we may have very little choice if we ever want to add to our family. That doesn't make the option any more attractive, though.

So in answer to the question "Why don't you just adopt?", here are some of the reasons why we haven't gone down that road, at least as of yet:

  • It takes a long time. On average, a domestic adoption would take two years, not including the months-long process of getting approved as potential adoptive parents. After three years of pure hell, I am unenthusiastic about the prospect of adding on another 2+ years. The very thought is overwhelming. We'd be looking at a 7+ year gap in our family. By then, I'm not sure I'd be functioning well enough to start all over with a new baby.
  • It's not a sure thing. Many people see adoption as a sure thing. Your just submit some paperwork, wait awhile, then go pick up your new baby! This is hardly the case. In fact, adoptions fall through about 15% of the time, according to the adoption agency we've talked to. When it happens it is devastating because it almost always happens at the last minute - the woman who's chosen you to adopt her child goes to the hospital, has the baby, and changes her mind after seeing it, which of course she has every right to do. With our luck we'd be certain to land in the 15%!
  • I'd want to do it twice so the adopted kid doesn't feel like the odd one out as the only non-biological member of the family AND with no siblings close in age. So double the time, stress, and expense to complete our family.
  • The expense. Domestic would be perhaps $10,000. And yes, we know about the tax credit, but we'd still have to come up with all the money up front, which is why we still don't dare to buy a house after 8 years of renting.  Foreign adoption would be $25,000 or more. It would also be far more complicated, stressful, and time-consuming. So forget that.
  • The invasive process. Just when I thought I'd been violated in every possible way, I looked into adoption and found out ... there are even more ways to be violated! Sign me up!! Fingerprinting, background checks, and parenting classes even if you've already been a parent for years. You have to be interrogated about your marriage, finances, parenting, and past traumas (yikes!). And even if you do end up with an adopted child, it doesn't end there. Next come the "supervisory visits" - your parenting must be inspected and approved before the adoption is final when the child is six months old. Of course I understand the need for all of this and support it - we don't want pedophiles and neglectful drug-addicts adopting children - but I'm just not sure I can take so much more when I already have so little privacy or dignity left after all the medical tests, infertility treatment, counseling, and surgeries. The thought of some stranger coming into my home to assess my worthiness to adopt when I'm in the midst of depression and chronic pain is just too much.
  • I don't think I could go to the hospital and take some other woman's baby away, even if it is best for all involved. I've gone home with empty arms too many times myself to be able to do that to someone else and be happy afterward.
  • I want MY baby. Holding my dead babies only makes me want this more. 
  • Most domestic adoptions these days are "open" adoptions, meaning there is communication between the birth and adoptive parents. I think this can be a great thing, but I already have my own crazy family to deal with and don't feel like I can take on any additional drama.
  • I'm afraid it would be harder to bond with the child, because it really wouldn't be mine legally until it was six months old. Of course, biologically it wouldn't be mine and that would be very hard because I do have biological children and know the instantaneous bond I felt with them from the moment I knew I was pregnant. It would not be the same - I know it would happen, but over time rather than instantly.  Also, breastfeeding would not be an option, which may seem petty, but breastfeeding also kept my endometriosis pain at bay while my babies were young.  Feeling well makes it a lot easier to care for a new baby, and if we adopted I'd have to take care of a demanding new baby while dealing with all that pain. It's a scary prospect.
  • We would have to market ourselves via the internet to potential birth mothers and wait to be chosen by one of them. I feel pretty nearly destroyed at this point and just don't have the stomach to put together a sickeningly sweet website portraying my perfect little family and the perfect life we could offer an adopted child. 

  • And now the deciding factor: I'll inevitably be spending a lot of time in the stirrups, since endometriosis treatment generally involves drugging the body into pseudo-pregnancy (the Pill) or pseudo-menopause (Lupron).  Not to mention the likelihood of more surgery to clean up the endo or even actual surgical menopause.  All of this can lead to continued chronic pain, depression, hot flashes, early osteoporosis, and heart disease...the list goes on and on.   If doctors are going to be seeing so much of me, I might as well try for a pregnancy instead of the misery listed above.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. So maybe now you can appreciate the dilemma. Do we adopt and put ourselves through all of the above and more, in addition to what we've already been through? Could we really survive all that with our sanity and marriage intact? Or... do we just forget the whole idea of having a bigger family and just end on a nightmare, hoping that someday we'll emerge with our sanity and marriage intact? All I know is that the answer, if it ever finally comes, will not begin with the word "just".