Monthly Archives: July 2014

Does another door open?

It’s been a long wait since completing our adoption workshop at the end of May to now. They did say it can take a long time to be assigned a social worker but after about seven weeks of waiting I decide to give them a call just to make sure we’re actually on the list. A friendly conversation and 3 hours later we have a social worker. She seems lovely and arranges our first home visit, a meet and greet, for the following week, eek! I expect myself to be a bit nervous but by the time the day rolls around I find I’m eager to meet her and not nervous at all.

Just as her phone manner suggests, she’s fantastic; friendly, bubbly, a really nice person. We chat for about an hour as she tells us a bit about herself and we talk through a bit of what we’ve been through to get to this point. At one stage I nearly cry but manage to pull myself together and laugh it off, man infertility sucks. She asks if we’re done with fertility treatments and we mention our upcoming DEIVF. I knew this would be a contentious issue as it had been mentioned in our workshops that should you have an active adoption profile (that is shown to birth parents) it would be put on hold until after your treatment is completed. I was secretly hoping that we’d be able to continue on with the assessment portion of the adoption process regardless and just put our profile on hold should we actually make it to that point.

Our social worker checks with her supervisor the next day and it’s not great news, our file is closed until after treatment. They say it’s an easy click of the button to reopen it, but it just sounds so final – “closed”, not “on hold” but “closed”. Oh well, nothing can be done about it so it’s not worth worrying about. It’s funny though, they fully expect our DEIVF to work and I fully expect the opposite. They think I’ll be pregnant and won’t need adoption, I feel like saying “Cool, I’ll talk to you in a few months then”. I’m trying my hardest to overcome this negativity and sense of impending doom but after three and half years of nothing working it’s bloody hard to believe that something will.

So our focus shifts solely to our IVF treatment for now. And where are we with that? Well, after what seems like a lifetime of a wait, our donor has finally completed all her tests and checks, and we’ve completed ours – I’m guessing they’ve all come back fine as I haven’t heard anything to the contrary. We’ve completed our mandatory counselling sessions, both as individual couples, and together with the four of us. Despite having already chatted a lot to our donor and her partner about our thoughts, feelings, and intentions for the future, I find the counselling sessions useful and come out feeling like we’ve covered all the bases. I understand that things are never set in stone, and any one of us could alter how we think or feel about the process and outcome at any stage, but for now I think we’re in a good place.

Essentially we’re ready to go. I await my ‘day one’ and from there we should have a timeline of events locked in place. Fingers crossed in a few months time I’ll be baking a bun, and I don’t mean bread.


Hidden gems

I first met my older sister when I was 22. Seems strange I know but in the 70’s it just wasn’t acceptable for an unmarried teenage girl to give birth to and parent a child, so my sister was adopted out not long after she was born. Growing up, the only girl in my then two-child household, I always dreamed of having a sister – more so in teenage years when my brother, going through that teenage boy stage, disappeared into his room for 4 years or so. My best friend at the time had (and still has) two sisters and I was always jealous of the relationship between them, yes plenty of fighting and I wasn’t jealous of that, but also so much fun and sharing that just doesn’t happen between boy and girl as teenagers…..clothes, make-up, boy-stories.

I remember the day I truly found out about my sister. I say truly because apparently I discovered her adoption papers when I was a child and thought that I was adopted, but I don’t remember that. When I truly found out about my sister, and remember finding out about her, I was fourteen. At first I didn’t believe my mum, thinking she was talking complete rubbish. I remember phoning my nana (my dad’s mum) to check with her, needing someone to corroborate the story. Unfortunately she wasn’t much help, she’d been in hospital around the time my sister was born and because it was such a secret she was never really kept in the loop, it wasn’t that she didn’t remember at all, she was just a bit vague on the details. I’m not sure if I asked my dad or not but something finally made me believe I had a sister out there somewhere and from that moment on I fantasised about being able to meet her.

Because of the way adoptions were once carried out in this country my parents never knew where my sister had ended up. The only way children and birth-parents were reconnected was if they both independently made contact with social services requesting contact information for the other. I remember asking Mum every once in a while “has she made contact yet?” only to be disappointed with a shake of the head. Multiple times I had random people say “Oh you look so familiar, are you blah-blah’s sister?” and every time I would shrug, secretly wondering if maybe I was.
Finally in my early twenties, I asked my mum again, “Has she made contact yet?” and although Mum tried to say no, I knew she had. I’ve almost always been close to my mum and I generally know when she’s trying to hide something. Turns out contact had been relatively recent so Mum wanted a chance to meet and get to know my sister first, which I completely understood, although it did nothing to alleviate my longing to meet her.

The day finally arrived where I got my near-life-long wish, and we travelled to my sister’s house to meet. I was so nervous but also incredibly excited. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a pretty shy person so meeting new people, especially those as important as this, terrifies me. I wasn’t sure what to say, wasn’t sure if she’d like me, or if she’d resent me in some way for growing up with my parents. I have to admit, I’ve often wondered how different my life would be (assuming I was still conceived) had we grown up together. Would it have made hard times like my parents separation easier? Would I be a better or stronger person today having had her in my life all those years? Would we even have got along when we were younger or would we fight like cat and dog (or cat and cat in my household) – an annoying younger sister getting in the way of her life? I guess it doesn’t really matter does it, it didn’t happen and that’s that.

So we meet and it’s great and awkward and scary all at once. I remember my mum taking a photo of the two of us, complaining we were both pulling a silly face and taking another. A week later we get the photos (this is back in the days of film) and both our expressions are the same – first the ‘silly one’ then the smile. I am amazed at how two people who have never met can be so similar (genes are strange things), and finally feel like our family is whole again.

Over the intervening years we’ve regularly kept in touch and both our families (though that seems weird to write “both” as to me we all feel like one family now) have spent time together and gotten closer. Unfortunately distance and shyness has delayed the degree of closeness I would like but I feel, especially over the last year or so, that we’re getting there, and it makes me so happy. She was all I ever wanted growing up and despite loving her to bits now (as I do all my siblings) and enjoying hanging out, I can’t help but think of all the lost years between us. My hubby thinks that all this talk of loss at our adoption workshops has made me feel this way but I think it’s always been there, the only difference is I now know what to label it, that hole in my tummy. Loss.

It makes me thankful that adoptions are more open now. It may be a little harder initially but the idea that both birth and adoptive families get to play a role in a child’s life creates a sense of relief in me. I’m sure sometimes things just don’t work out and the two sets of families drift apart, but just having the opportunity to be present in a child’s life and having the option of a relationship with both origin and upbringing can remove a lot of the hurt potentially felt by both sides. Personally I think it would have helped me a great deal, although as a minor player in the game I know it’s not about me, but uniting with my sister and her family now, I know it would’ve been great to know them all along.

More Ways to Care

Having had a wee break from blogging over June and into July, it occurs to me that I never really wrote about the second day of our adoption workshop, so here’s an update on what happened on day two.

The second, and last, day of our ‘Ways to Care’ workshop was slightly less daunting than the first. We knew somewhat what to expect and had been assured by the facilitators the week before that day two was an easier, less emotional, ride. Well, it was and it wasn’t. It was definitely easier in the sense that there was less talk about the often-abused and troubled children that were out there needing care, less heartache at not being able to help more, but it was much harder in the sense that the focus was on us and we had to explore ourselves and our past in order to proceed with our future.

I’m not going to lie, overall I had a very happy and privileged childhood, but I found parts of the day emotionally challenging and a little confronting. Let’s face it, regardless of how you grew up we all have issues as adults, though the range and scope of those issues vary greatly from person to person. So we work through our attachment style/s, how our family showed love, praise, discipline, and I find myself delving into long buried thoughts and feelings, questioning why I now behave the way that I do.

I realise I don’t know enough about myself as a child, I can remember certain events more so than I remember how I felt or behaved, and it strikes me that I remember much less about my childhood before my parent’s separation than after it. Although this may primarily be due to my age at the time (I was roughly two weeks shy of my ninth birthday when they split), I sometimes wonder if the trauma of their separation – yep, I took it hard – has somehow made me block my earlier childhood. In later conversations with my husband we manage to pry some more memories to the surface, but they certainly take a lot of coaxing.

It’s not like their split completely ruined my childhood or anything, I did find it really hard & it wasn’t a pretty divorce by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t feel like it permanently destroyed my happiness. Yes, it impacted me greatly and yes it changed the way I behave but there were many moments of joy amongst the despair, and I certainly don’t look back on that time as all bad.

I was always a shy child and remember needing Mum or Dad to stay with me when starting any new activities. Changing schools was always traumatic and although I was never without friends, I found the prospect of being essentially alone and needing to meet new people daunting. As we work to assign attachment styles to our earlier selves I struggle to categorise myself, feeling like I fall somewhere between ambivalent and secure depending on the situation and era of my childhood.

It’s strange because I feel like I should fit more into the ambivalent attachment style but at the same time I don’t feel, other than perhaps through my parent’s separation, that I was lacking in parental attention. It’s hard to know how much of my insecurity was due to attachment and how much was just me being shy (a seemingly genetic trait in my family). It makes sense that it could be attachment, I was a premature baby due to the fact that my Mum was ill with a virus, so it’s possible I didn’t have that bonding time when born. However as I say I never felt like I had to hold tight to my parents to retain their attention, more because I was scared of the unknown world outside, and when upset by the outside world I was consoled again upon seeing my parents. I decide to park the thought and ask Mum about it later.

After exploring our own early lives, a panel of women come in to talk to us, each of them experienced one way or another in caring for a child that is not genetically their own. One is a transitional caregiver, caring for a child between placements/homes, who could look after a child from as little as a few days to as much as many years; another is a ‘Home for Life’ parent, essentially like adoption only the birth parents retain legal guardianship of the child as well; and the final one is a woman who has adopted children into her home as babies. This ends up being the best part of the day, or even the entire two day workshop, and I feel I learn a great deal from their experiences and views…..I think I could probably talk to them all day given half the chance. It was great.

After the panel discussion there’s a brief section on the organisation and the process from here, and then we’re free to go. We register our interest in domestic adoption, are told we’re now on the list to be assigned a social worker for home visits, and head home to reflect on the day and fill in the copious amounts of homework in our workbooks.

My life in tunes – part one

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I was hoping I could run it as another blog page tied into but separated from the main blog, only I couldn’t work out how to do it without restructuring the entire thing, so I’ll just settle for writing one of these posts occasionally and dispersing them through the blog (though if anyone has any tips for how to achieve a different blog stream within the same blog I’m all ears).

Music is a massive part of my life, in fact I just can’t imagine a life without caring about it, though I know there are people like that out there. I’m absolutely hopeless at knowing who sings what or what DJ’s have created which tracks but I know what I like and have music going a fair chunk of the time. A vast array of tunes have seen me through good times, bad times, crazy times, since I was young, so I figure it’s only fitting to include in this blog the tunes that have seen me through the last gut-wrenching 3 and a half years…..and there have been a fair few!

Sometimes it’s an entire track that resonates with me, sometimes it’s just one line in a whole song that speaks to my struggles, or makes me cry, makes me happy, or makes me feel alive again. Sometimes the song is about something entirely different but there’ll be one thing that just clicks and triggers an emotive response from me.

Music is a great healer. It can make you cry when you just need to get it all out, a release; it can brighten your mood in an instant, help you burn that extra energy bubbling below the surface, or make boring tasks more interesting. Who doesn’t love vacuuming the house to great track……and if you don’t listen to music while doing house-work you’re missing out!

So what tracks have seen me through the last few years? So so many. One of the main ones, the one I think of as my theme song for our infertility is Rudimental’s ‘Not Giving In’. This one is a regular on my playlist, I play it when life is going well, to emphasise that I’m doing great, but I also play it when I’m sad, after another devastating treatment failure, as a way to let go of my grief and as a reminder to keep going. I’ve bawled my eyes out so many times to that song that I couldn’t go to the Rudimental gig a few months ago for fear of totally losing it in public. But I absolutely love it. It’s both a trigger and empowering all in one track, and I think it will be one of the tracks that stays with us until we end this process, one way or another.

A couple of Broods songs are up there also, although these are slightly more recent additions to the list. ‘Never gonna change’ for those times you get stuck in the infertility vortex feeling like nothing’s going to change, or after yet another negative result when you run out of fight. “Pushing down on my shoulders, and emptying my lungs. In a moment I’m older, and in a moment you’ve won”. Then there’s ‘Coattails’ in which one single line jumped out and pulled me in, made me cry, and made me grateful all at the same time when we began the Donor Egg IVF process – “So we’ll ride the coattails to the finish line”. I can only hope that we will be riding our donor’s coattails to the ‘finish line’ in a few months time.

What else? Phoenix’s ‘If I ever feel better’ for the large amount of time you spend in a depressive state throughout this process…..there’s not much to say on this one, nearly the whole song details how I’ve felt through a large part of our journey, last year especially, where I struggled with some pretty dark days. Not long after Phoenix came Bastille’s ‘Pompeii’ (Monsieur Adi Remix) – “But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing’s changed at all, and if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like you’ve been here before”…..endless failures, countless pregnancy announcements by others….

Then another couple of tracks which prove that it doesn’t matter what the song is actually about, if there’s one little fragment that speaks to you they’ll go on the list. Ed Sheeran’s ‘The A Team’ – a particularly strange one for me because I’m not an Ed Sheeran fan at all – for the lines “Tried to swim and stay afloat” (me), and “It’s too cold outside for angels to fly” (down here to us where we’re so desperately waiting for one). And Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ ‘Wing$’ for “I want to fly, can you take me far away? Give me a star to reach for, tell me what it takes, and I’ll go so high, I’ll go so high, my feet won’t touch the ground, just stitch my wings, and pull the strings, I bought these dreams, that all fall down”

Yes, I know those songs all seem like they’re a little bit depressing but to be honest there aren’t a lot of good times along this road and often you just don’t want to listen to happy tracks. There are some of course that are more upbeat but still resonate such as Netsky’s ‘Without you’ – “There’s no way that I could go through all the things I’m going through right now without you”, makes me glad my hubby’s around, even during the times when it feels like he doesn’t understand, I know he does and he’s there if I need him (and vice versa of course). And there are the tracks that don’t make me think about our journey at all and just make me want to dance like Bag Raiders ‘Shooting Stars’, Shapeshifter’s ‘Electric Dream’, Netsky’s ‘Come Alive’, and Daft Punks ‘Get Lucky’.

So there’s the first insight into my life through music over the last 3 and a half years, just a small sample of the squillions of tracks that keep me going. I could go on forever about music so tuned for the next instalment. In the meantime let’s raise a glass of non-alc to the sad tracks that make you feel better & the happy tracks that just make you want to dance!

P.S. I’m always keen for new tracks so feel free to let me know what keeps your wheels turning.

Links to all these tracks:
Rudimental, ‘Not Giving In’ –
Broods, ‘Never Gonna Change’ –
Broods, ‘Coattails’ –
Phoenix, ‘If I ever feel better’ –
Bastille, ‘Pompeii’ (Monsieur Adi Remix) –
Ed Sheeran, ‘The A Team’ –
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, ‘Wing$’ –
Netsky, ‘Without You’ –
Bag Raiders , ‘Shooting Stars’ –
Shapeshifter, ‘Electric Dream’ –
Netsky, ‘Come Alive’ –
Daft Punk, ‘Get Lucky’ –

The Bell Curve

I’ve come to the realisation that infertility support, much like most things in life, operates on the principle of a bell curve. Initially, no one has a clue what you’re going through, you naturally don’t share as much because “everything’s going to be alright”, so people don’t really know what your life is like, and those who do don’t really know how to deal with it. You progress on and, like a rolling snowball gathering snow, more and more people find out. You find others going through the same thing, your friends and family learn more about the process, support is limitless. Time proceeds some more. Those who were in the same boat have found their answer and realised their dream. The groups diminish. People run out of things to say, unsure of where to go from here, and suddenly you find yourself alone again, adrift on a sea of lost hope and broken dreams.

I think the hardest part of this for me is the loss of my husband’s understanding. Friends, family, I can deal with. There’s nothing more they can do, I know they’re there for me if I call on them. My husband is different. We’re in this together irrespective of the rest of the world; I need him to be there and to understand.

Now anyone who has delved into the world of conception will know that it takes a bit to get your guy on board. Initially he doesn’t understand your cycle, why you take your temperature every morning, have 101 different tests, or the importance of ‘being on a schedule’….and let’s be honest, he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t get the heartache you feel when you see pregnant bellies or tiny humans. He doesn’t comprehend how these things break you apart piece-by-piece no matter how much you try and explain it. And then one day it happens. His moment of clarity.

Maybe it’s the constant reminders, the appointments, the shear number of tests. Perhaps, it’s that the heartache finally gets to him too, or through some strange form of osmosis the gravity of the situation permeates his consciousness. Whatever the reason, it finally sinks in and he magically understands. He’s there and he gets it and he sympathises like no one else can. For a while things are great, you can really talk, you know how each other is feeling, and then as quickly as it appeared it’s gone.

Does he get sick of it? I don’t know. Adopt some overly positive hope for the future? Probably. Just want to be ‘normal’? Definitely, but don’t we all just want to be ‘normal’. I’d love to hang out at work drinks on a Friday and actually be able to drink; to look around at the masses of pregnant women I work with and not bat an eye, not feel a sharp pang of jealousy; to wake up in the morning and grab a coffee to kick-start my day; to not have to stress at how in hell I’m going to manage to fit in all my appointments for the following week and still actually manage to have time for work. But I can’t. I’m not normal, and while he is physically, he made the mistake of marrying the infertile, which makes him abnormal by default, so why can’t he understand. After all that time of ‘getting it’, he suddenly doesn’t, and I’m lost, teetering on the far edge of the bell curve.


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