Friday, February 4, 2011

Putting The Fun In Infertility

A couple of weeks ago, as I was speeding towards Greensboro to deliver Wesley to his tutor at the appointed time, I was internally chastising myself for my lack of time management skills, while scanning the roadways for signs of state troopers.  Out of the blue, my son asked me one of those questions that stopped my racing thoughts in their tracks.  “Mom, how much did I cost?”  What?  OMG, this was one of those questions that required an attentive, sensitive answer.  This was a mega query that could either give him the confidence he needed to lead an emotionally healthy, well-adjusted life, or could send him plummeting into gang activity, drug use, and a life of crime.  So, like any good mom and politician would do, I tried to evade with an acknowledgement question, then divert attention.  “Whatever do you mean, Wes?  Oh, look at that cloud, doesn’t it look like a camel?”   “I MEAN, how much did you and Dad pay for me?  And, yes, it looks like a camel.”  Damn it!  He used the clarification and acknowledgement counter technique.  I was cornered.  “Well, Wes, let me ponder this for a while.  May I get back to you later with an answer?”  “Sure,” he said, as he dashed in for his tutoring session.  As always, the truth seemed to work best, go figure.
While I waited outside Ms. Emily’s office, my mind replayed the events in our quest for Wesley that began 13 years ago.  Infertility testing, treatments, three in vitro attempts, adoption agencies, private adoption attorneys, birth parents, black market babies, home visits, lions, tigers, and big ass bears, oh my!  My sweet child, you were VERY expensive, indeed. Besides the ja-gillion dollars we spent, there was pain, frustration, confusion, and self-blame.  There was also the ever-present sense of being out of control, the on-going intense scrutiny, and a growing void in my soul that no words can describe. There were strangers in and out of my most private places—my home and my vagina, and it seemed that neither of my “goods” met their high expectations.   
And it all began with a routine appointment at my gynecologist’s office, discussing my plans to have a family.  The next thing I know I am enduring painful procedures, listening to white coats point out every aspect of my flawed reproductive system, and shooting up $2,000.00 worth of injection prescriptions per week that insurance didn’t cover.   The hormones, injected three times a day, made me paranoid.  I also developed a bend towards violent tendencies, and pregnant women became the natural targets.  The bundle ‘o joy announcements at family gatherings from all the virile people made me homicidal. The dreaded “we have some exciting news, everyone!” seemed to continuously stalk me at every holiday get together, reunion, and, yes, even church homecomings.  What is wrong with you rabbit people!?  Had I always resided in Fertopolis?  My responses gradually became nastier.  At first, it was the fake smile and the “I’m so happy for you!”  Then I digressed to the unemotional “That’s wonderful.” Toward the end, hyped up on tons of progesterone, I didn’t even try to hide my rage.  “Really.  Who-fuckin-rah.  Break out the Champagne, let’s celebrate.  Oh wait, you’re pregnant.  You can’t drink alcohol.  No worries, I’ll have yours. You just sit over there, glow, and be fruitful.” 
I considered rolling around in cat litter before I left my house to ward off these prolific sluts, or at least putting some granules in a locket to wear around my neck as a talisman to ward off the reminders of my conception-challenged plight.  Eventually I just avoided all women whose age fell in the child-bearing range.  I spent the majority of my time-when I wasn’t shooting up-hanging out local nutrition sites, Masonic lodges and smoky bars.  So much synthetic estrogen was coursing through my body on any given day, I was fearful that even men in casual close proximity would experience breast tenderness, and prolonged exposure would result in them growing boobs in some sort of warped version of a hormonal contact high.
Alas, after two plus years of fertility treatments to no avail, we began exploring other options before I became a recluse, was held liable for some man’s enlarged mammary glands, or ended up incarcerated.  Adoption was the next destination, and the pleasant, peaceful journey was before us…NOT.  Once everyone in the cities proper, and apparently the suburbs of Madison/Mayodan, learned that we were going with a Plan B*, I was inundated with embryonic urban myths, even more so than expectant mothers during my Pilgrimage to Germination Mecca.  Family members, friend, acquaintances, as well as every cashier at Walmart, knew some couple that had tried and tried to have a baby, and when they stopped trying, lo and behold, they found themselves pregnant…generally with twins.  If all these couples were experiencing double zygote fertilization through mere apathy, you would think the miracle would have received a little press.  And where are all the twins?
The adoption odyssey brought new options.  Yea.   There were choices between foster care or straight adoption, closed or opened, international or domestic, agency or private, blah blah blah.  The only pronouncement I wanted to make at this exhausting point was Pampers over Luvs.  JUST GIVE ME A BABY!  No matter what path we chose, however, a home study was required.  Following is an incomplete laundry list of questions posed to us during the various interrogations (along with the answers I wanted to give, and probably would have had I still been in my drug-induced haze):  Why don’t you have screens on your windows? (Because we have air-conditioning like most people, and we don’t open our windows); would you take a child who is blind, deaf, had other physical or mental disabilities, or a combination of disabilities? (Just as long as the baby doesn’t sport your particular sets of neuroses, including that strange fondness you have to screens, I certainly will); how often do you consume alcohol? (Quite a lot since this adoption process started, as a matter of fact, I need a drink right now.  Can I make you a Jack and Ginger?); How is your sex life? (It WAS fine before we started the baby quest); What is your household’s gross annual income? (Pushing $80,000, however, this process has severely impacted our budget.  By the time we finally get a baby, all three of us will be living in a van down by the river); Do you have a written fire escape plan? (No, but I figure if we couldn’t get to the doors, our point of egress would logically be a window given it has no screen to slow us down); where will you put the baby? (the spare bedroom would become the nursery, you know the one with all the Jack Daniel’s cases and window screens scattered about, or we will put the baby in one of the van’s captain’s chair…in a car seat…with a five point harness…rear facing...)
Amazingly enough, we passed the home study, or inquisition, with flying colors.  Soon I was preparing a portfolio of our family for potential birth mothers.  Like an advertising campaign director I tried to develop a product that would sell, or “speak” to the target audience.  Should I go to the country club and take a picture of a huge house and play it off as mine?  Would my pseudo wealth be a positive or a negative to my future baby-birth momma?  What about my dogs?  Should I have a picture of my slobbering bassets?  What if she is deathly afraid of dogs?  Perhaps she was bitten as a child, and never resolved the trauma.  Maybe I can borrow a bunny for a photo op…Bunnies are relatively harmless, and it would show that I love all creatures great and small; therefore, I would love the child she is giving to me not only when he or she was an infant, but even as an adult.  Would she think me too presumptuous if I had a picture of the baby’s nursery?  I could always cut a page out of Pottery Barn Kids and paste it in the book…Instant, color-coordinated, baby room.  She might think I possessed a gift for design, and never would I let my baby wear anything that didn’t match.   Again no one would know it was a fa├žade, and that the kid’s actual nursery was currently a storage room.  Yes, the Adoption Portfolio was a daunting task.  Finally, I just decided to be honest…again, that seems to work best.  And it did.  The bassets hooked a birth mother immediately, only one month on the market…cha ching!
The Boles Baby Portfolio went into circulation in April, 2001.  In May, potential birth parents wanted to meet us, and did.  On June 20, 2001, Wesley was born.  The birth parents changed their minds about giving him up initially (lots of crying and gnashing of teeth), but on July 19, they reconsidered.  Wesley was placed in our care at the South Carolina attorney’s office.  We couldn’t take him over the state line until he cleared some Interstate Compact Agency, so for three weeks we were held prisoner in the penitentiary of red tape, staying with relatives.  You would have thought we were taking him to Zimbabwe instead of the Old North State.  We finally got home in August, 2001, and thus closed the chapter on the whirlwind journey to my son. 
People ask me, “Don’t you wish you could have experienced the act of giving birth?” (Yep, they actually ask me this.  Ignorance does run amuck.)  My response is this:  I was pregnant for three years with Wesley, and so was his Dad.  I learned that pregnancy is not only a physical condition but a state of mind.   I didn’t miss out on anything.  After my profound statement, they generally stare blindly at me, drooling.  Besides, giving birth sounds painful and debilitating…just read Wonder Twin’s February 2nd blog, “One Miraculous Night” at melanie-elusivebalance.blogspot.com.  Why would I miss going through that hell?!       
Anyway, Wesley, the answer to your question…I don’t know how much you cost, but I do know that you are priceless.
A. Ballerina
*There was actually a Plan C:  Baby via the International Black Market.  I am sharing this simply to show how there are a few supportive people who are sensitive to the barren plight, and would do anything to help, including face criminal charges in a foreign country.  My cousin Beth, who had already offered her ova for the cause, was living in Malaysia, and found us a beautiful baby to purchase while combing the impoverished villages on the outskirts of town for infants.  She even went as far as applying for a birth certificate, intent on changing his religious status from Muslim to Catholic.  Yes, it would have been falsifying legal documents, in an Islamic country, where I believe they still cane people…now that is dedication, love, and loyalty for the cause.  Plan C eventually freaked us all out, and we aborted the mission before Beth ended up featured on Locked Up Abroad.

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