Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dream come true

We're not parents yet. That's dream #1. But, dream #2 is about to come true. After well over a decade of trying every month, I finally succeeded. I won Oprah tickets. I'm going to see Oprah! Me! I will be there, in the same room, as Oprah! Excited is an understatement. It's truly a dream come true.

September 25th, it's a Friday, so I'm assuming it's a Friday's live show but I don't have any confirmation of that yet. I so badly wanted M to come with me, but her new job requires her to work weekends and she just started so it was too complicated for her to get the time off. I will totally be thinking of her the whole time I'm there! I've already devised a plan to ask the only person who knows M & our surrogacy plans, who will also be seeing Oprah with me, to buy an "O" baby item while we're there for my future baby. I'll be with friends who won't understand the insanity of purchasing baby items for a baby that is so far from being conceived, so I need Christy to purchase the gift under cover. I'm counting down the days. Hours. Minutes. I'm going to see Oprah!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The bookshelf

We're contemplating remodeling our very old-style basement. Currently we have wooden paneling from the 1970's (or so it looks), cheap green carpet, and an annoying wall of closets and drawers that is inconveniently placed directly in the middle of the basement, cutting its functionality in half. We have always wanted to remodel our basement but we never thought we would live in this home long enough to truly enjoy it. Due to the value of our home in the economy, it's obvious we'll probably be stuck here for quite a while. I never had envisioned raising my child in such a small house with such a tiny room to utilize as a nursery. I had wanted the largest room in the house to be dedicated as the nursery, similar to the one in Father of the Bride II. I love that nursery!

Once I get something on my mind it's very difficult for me to just let it go. Once I want it, I want it now. So before we have a budget, a design, or even the first 2X4 purchased, I've started getting the basement ready for renovation. Yesterday I cleared the junk off of an old bookshelf that my husband made when he was younger. This was a primary piece of furniture in his home before we were married and once we got hitched the bookshelf went in the basement, along with most of his other bachelor furniture. It's actually a very nice bookshelf and special to both of us since he actually built it. We never had a designated space available upstairs for it but I recently sold a piece of furniture on Craigslist which opened up room in the office for his bookshelf. We moved it into the office yesterday, which was a bittersweet moment for me. I had always envisioned that bookshelf staying put until we moved into a much larger home, at which point the bookshelf would go directly into the nursery and we'd fill it with books for our child. I imagined sitting in the rocking chair, holding our baby, and telling him how daddy built that bookshelf and when he is old enough, he can help daddy build things too. I imagined a few years later, our toddler climbing off my lap as I sat in that same rocking chair, and him selecting his favorite book from that shelf daddy built. I didn't imagine the bookshelf to be in our office without a nursery to even consider moving it to.

So I improvised. The bookshelf that has always been in our office is 6 ft by 6ft and packed full of books. I love to read. Our entire journey to become parents is chronicled in the books scattered throughout. I have a section of books larger than Barnes & Noble in some categories; adoption, surrogacy, menopause, hysterectomy, infertility, surrogacy in India. I also have dozens and dozens of children's books from when I was a child. My mom read to us constantly and we had hundreds of books everywhere in our home. I went through my bookshelf and removed every single children's book and placed it on the bookshelf. The bookshelf is shorter, probably only 4 feet or so, and lends itself to the reduced reach of little arms. It probably looks ridiculous to anyone who could see it right now, a bookshelf dedicated to children's books in a home without a child. For me though, it is a step. A step toward preparedness for the moment I've been craving. A step into the world of nesting, a tiny step into imagining what it might be like one day when our toddler walks to that bookshelf to select his favorite book to read.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm afraid to say it

Life is good. I could list dozens of reasons why it shouldn't be; chronic medical conditions, dozens of doctor's appointments each month, unable to make my own baby, needing way too much money to become a mom, unemployed. I could believe those reasons are enough to make life less than stellar at this moment. But I don't. I believe that right now, in this moment, life is good. Dh & I are getting along amazingly well. We haven't had a true argument in well over a month, which is unheard of in our infertility-tainted marriage. I am crying less and less over my baby induced desperation. We have so much to look forward to. In a few weeks we're going to my mom's cottage up north for a quick & cheap weekend getaway. In October we'll be heading to the most magical place on earth, for an extended vacation of dining, fun, and pixie dust. We are happy together. I never knew that marriage, sans baby, could be so fulfilling and rewarding. We have a date of July 2010 for our first (and hopefully only) IUI with our beautiful surrogate. I find myself counting down that date less and less. I'm still incredibly excited and anticipating it with such fervor and desire but I'm able to get through each day without knowing exactly how many days I must endure until our family building begins. I suppose it's because I truly feel that our family building has begun. We are the foundation for a solid and healthy family and as each day passes that we look at each other with love and not resentment, our foundation gains depth and stretches further.

It's occasionally difficult to recognize that the first 2 years of our marriage were hell. We didn't like each other very much, although I believe we both loved each other. I wish it was different but I know not to fall into the arms of regret. It makes me want more of this time, more of the love and happiness that we're sharing now. I'm trying very carefully to live in the moment. To enjoy this moment with my husband and this experience, as we'll never have another just like it. I realize though, that my happiness is still standing on an edge, not sure whether it will take the plunge. So easily I could fall back into despair and it takes immense strength to resist that gravitational pull. For now, I am able to resist it and I pray I can continue to. For now, life is good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2 years

Yesterday, J and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. Everything is a matter of perspective, as I reflected on the reality that it was *almost* our 1 year anniversary. Dh & I were engaged in February 2007 and had an entire wedding planned, from the string quartet to the Cinderella pink linens, for July 12, 2008. We wanted a long engagement as I finished my master's degree and we spent more time together, as we had only dated for 9 months prior to becoming engaged. In May 2007, just 3 months after our engagement, I started to have severe ovarian pain (which was the only reproductive organ I had left since my hysterectomy a year prior) and after several doctor's appointments and finally our first RE appointment we learned the endometriosis and PCOS were becoming too much for my ovaries and they would soon need to be removed. We were encouraged to proceed with IVF immediately if we ever wanted to have a biological child. The very next day we cancelled our wedding. I called every vendor and explained to them the situation and most gladly refunded our deposits. Simultaneously, we began planning a wedding for just 12 weeks away while also making arrangements to begin a gestational surrogacy journey with an agency in Illinois. For so many reasons, including my ever-failing reproductive system, the journey had to end and our hopes of creating a biological child between us were forever shattered.

I was certain that we would immediately adopt, I was often awake in the middle of the night putting away the wedding planning material and looking up adoption agencies. For the first time, I needed to be a mother more than I needed my next breath. We returned from our honeymoon and as the Fall approached I finished my last semester of my master's degree along with PhD courses I was taking. We decided I wouldn't continue with my PhD, as I didn't want to leave my baby during the time I needed to be in class. A day after the end of the semester, they removed my ovaries. I felt even more empty than before, I was reproductively non-existent. There was nothing that proved I ever held the potential to become a mother but yet somewhere I was convinced that longing would show if they ever cut open my heart. I would have never admitted to being depressed during that time, but looking back now I realize how serious it was. I tried to cope with my infertility but the severe symptoms of surgical menopause kept me from focusing on anything at all. I was incredibly thankful that I had decided not to return to school, as I know I wouldn't have been able to manage. The next year was a blur of hormone starvation, true insomnia, and dark depression. There were 2 adoption situations that were right on our fingertips and then stolen away from me. I wanted a divorce, I wanted a baby, I wanted my uterus. I wanted everything I couldn't have.

This winter my life began to turn around as I learned to live with the existence of my marriage and the absence of my hormones. I began to feel hopeful that after a year and a half of marriage, we had agreed to start the adoption process in January 2011, just 2 years away. It seemed like an impossibly long time but I knew that I couldn't rush him, he wanted time to enjoy our marriage and despite my confusion (as I wasn't finding much to "enjoy" in the midst of my baby hunger), I knew that he had only known our marriage to be filled with sadness, rage, and obsession. I owed it to him to give him the most normal marriage I could. I knew it wouldn't be perfect and the obsession wouldn't erase itself but hopefully would slowly fade with him. I had hoped the dark depression would become a muted sadness and the fueling rage could simmer to a mild anger. I began to hope; hope that the rest of a journey to parenthood wouldn't be as difficult, hope that the next year and a half of marriage could be filled with more love, and hope that my life could become more clear and less clouded with all that has been wrong. It was at the moment that I allowed myself to have the slightest bit of hope that our world forever changed.

A bit of adoption research sparked the interest in embryo adoption which peaked my curiosity about surrogacy which made me realize that traditional surrogacy is what my heart needed. I didn't need to have a genetic child but I did need to watch my baby grow, to hear its first heartbeat, to welcome its entry into the world, to hold it first, and spend 9 amazing months thanking God that there is someone willing to risk everything to share with me the miracle of life. I met M in February, we decided we were meant to be together just a month or two after that, and now we have the relationship I've always dreamed of. We're forming the basis of a solid, healthy, committed friendship and next year at this time, we hope to be pregnant. We hope. We believe in hope. I believe in hope for my marriage, my life, and my path to becoming a mommy.

Today, my note from the Universe read the following:

One of the trickiest things about life, Sara, is that, at times, it happens so slowly.

Yet... if... it... happened... any... faster... you'd... already... have... everything... you... ever... wanted... without... learning... to... enjoy... the... ride.

Beep, beep...

The Universe

How true. Happy Anniversary J.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Random Happenings

It's been a while.

Met M & her family. Went wonderfully. Kids are adorable, love her. Extremely emotional but very wonderful visit.

2 weeks later, travel to M's college graduation party. Dh & I stay in a hotel. Go to the party and the plan is to spend the night & go to M's house the next morning for breakfast with her dh & kids. 5 a.m. I wake up to unbelievable pain and lots of bleeding from places you shouldn't be bleeding. I have no idea what is going on, I just know I cannot be late for breakfast! My body has failed me plenty of times, hence the reason I'm 5 hours from home in another state meeting our surrogate and her family! I pass out, hit my head in the tiny hotel bathroom, crying through the pain I ask dh to go get me as much Imodium as he can find. Whatever is going on must find a way to wait until after breakfast. I take 1 pill every 15 minutes for 2 hours. Dh helps me to shower and get dressed and we head to M's house. I was in so much pain, so uncomfortable, but so incredibly happy to be having breakfast (even though I didn't really eat much) with the woman who is making all our dreams come true. We leave & head home with many urgent bathroom stops. The next day I call the doctor and they admit me to the hospital. Very long story but they've diagnosed me with a form of bowel disease that is extremely rare, I'm seeing doc's out of University of Michigan now so they can try to figure things out. I'm on some drugs that are making me miserable, I'm constantly feeling drugged, and my eyes will not stop twitching as a side-effect from this medicine. Such is life, right?

A few weeks after, M comes to Michigan for a "girl's night out"! We had lunch at Cafe Muse, voted by Oprah & Esquire magazine as the country's best grilled cheese sandwich. Went shopping, got pedicures, had dinner at yummy Italian restaurant, and saw a comedy show at Second City. She spent the night in the current-guest-bedroom-soon-to-be-nursery. Dh was home when we got home from the comedy club and we hung out and they had cocktails (I had to be sans cocktail because of all this health stuff) in the hot tub. Next morning we all went to breakfast together. It was a wonderful visit. Surrogacy rocks! My surrogate rocks! I simply cannot believe that I have this wonderful, beautiful relationship with the woman who is going to make me a mommy! She's so giving and generous and so fun to be around. We will be officially ttc next July! It's less than a year away and a wonderful time for us to continue to become such awesome friends. Thank you M, I love you.