Uncertainty

So another gap in posts. This one was a bit intentional, largely because I was concerned about miscarriage, and more than just my general (elevated) concern.

A few days after I got to 8 weeks and graduated from my fertility clinic, I experienced a weird gush of vaginal fluid. While I was at work of all times. There was a little blood in it, but barely…and then that was it. Nothing. I freaked out initially, but then, after quickly looking things up online, saw that it may not be a major issue, but only a doctor could tell. So, somehow, I went about the rest of my day. But the following morning I decided to call the midwives group I was going to be seeing and spoke to a nurse. Based on what I told her, she thought I was having, or had, a miscarriage and told me to go straight to the ER.

Many hours later it turned out everything was fine, that maybe it was a blood clot. Both babies and sacs looked good. Heartbeats good. I was sent home and was to follow up with my doctor in a week or two.

After that, I had some bleeding, and passed what I assumed were clots/old blood. So, it just became a waiting game. Everyday was filled with a little worry due to uncertainty at what was happening. As such, I couldn’t bring myself to post.

I had a 10 week sonogram at my first midwives appointment and everything was ok! Not only that, but they were really moving around, which was amazing to see. I was a bit awestruck. That appointment (and the persistent nausea) really made me feel better and felt like a little weight (of worry) off my shoulders.

So, here I am now, a day shy of 12 weeks, and I just had my NT scan. The results of that were worrisome for one baby, so they’re doing a more descriptive blood test (NIPT). I have somewhat mixed feelings about this, but I’m honestly just glad they’re looking alright and moving around. I also don’t want to do any invasive testing because, at this point, what is, is, so I’ll just see what happens when they’re born…When written like that it seems really blasé, but I’ve actually thought a lot about this and, short of a lethal condition, I will deal with whatever comes as it comes when they’re born.

I can’t believe I’m nearing the end of my first trimester. While I know it’s still early and we’ll have to see how things go, I also know that, statistically, my risk of miscarriage is fairly low. I’ve been able to focus less on that and more on other things, which is nice. Every time I see them, I feel a little better. Since they’re twins, I’ll be seeing them often, even with being in midwife care.

All of this has seemed to go by really fast. It’s amazing to me, that I’m here at ~12 weeks.

Wow.

A first time for everything

Today was my first IUI and I’m still a little in disbelief.

I’ve been in my thoughts a lot the past few weeks as I prepared. Lots of emotions were coming up for me about the process, emotions I’d tried to put away a few months ago. I was trying to manage the feelings of excitement and optimism, with anxiety and realism. The fact that I have adenomyosis, and therefore a higher risk of miscarriage, makes this a bit tricky, especially because there’s no way to know to what extent it will impact my attempts. It could either impact the process severely, or have no/minimal impact. Also, knowing that, because of that fact, a positive pregnancy test doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. This is true for everyone, but especially true with regard to this condition. So it feels like I wouldn’t be able to give a sign of relief until I was at least 32 weeks. That’s been challenging to sit with. To deal with it, I’ve been trying to be a realist about the process (with an emphasis on “process”), but I felt like it was masking what optimism and positivity I should have. On the other hand, I didn’t/don’t want to be so optimistic that, if a negative test result comes back, and if more than once, I’m not overly disappointed or devastated.

But can you really prepare for that? Can you really prepare yourself for disappointment? Should that be the focus?

I realized it shouldn’t be, at least not to the degree that I was letting it. Right now I’m just going with the flow. Letting what happens, happen, as best as I can.

I was on Clomid last week. That was an experience. My dosage wasn’t that high, but I felt the effects after the first day or so. I don’t normally have emotional PMS symptoms, or rather, it’s never really been to the degree that I notice it, but the Clomid was a different story. Extremely tired, irritable, sudden mood swings…That was fun.

So now, the two week wait.

Two halves make a whole

A few days ago I started doing more research on sperm banks and looking more seriously into the donor catalogues. Aside from being a bit struck by the even higher than anticipated cost of sperm per vial, I was struck by the dearth of black donors. To some degree I wasn’t that surprised. To be able to donate sperm you have to pass various health/education/employment/etc. screenings, and many men of color don’t pass them, at least not nearly as high in numbers as their white counterparts. So I shouldn’t have been surprised by just how low in number they were. Ranging from 2-3% of a bank’s supply.

But even more than that, what really struck me is how, of the black-identified donors, many were actually mixed. Not only that, but it was those mixed samples that were most selected. At one or two banks, it was those samples that were in “low supply” which often indicates high demand. The non-mixed black samples were probably not in high demand.

I’ve been sitting with this information the past few days, while simultaneously hearing more about black death. Just yesterday another young black boy was shot and killed by cops. No de-escalation techniques, just shot. They claim he was suspect and had a bb gun. The claim is always that they are suspect. Blackness is always suspect.

So here I am, trying to find black donor sperm in a world where non-mixed black donors make up 1-2% of sperm banks. Here I am in a world trying to find black donor sperm to create a black child, when the world just wants them dead. It feels like not only is it hard to create black life for people in my position, but it’s hard to keep them alive.

It’s depressing.

I wrote the above a few months ago, when I began casually looking for donor sperm. Casually because I was just getting a lay of the land, so to speak. Looking for a donor was hard. It took me awhile to process my feelings around the difficulties around finding black sperm and the desire for black babies.

Aside from the aforementioned emotional and psychological challenge, there were also the logistical challenges. One such challenge was to decide which bank to use. Since each of the banks had so few black donors, and then, ones that were CMV-negative (since that’s the only kind I can use), I didn’t have the experience of sitting with the catalogue of one bank, sifting through tons of donors. Rather, it was looking at a few options across multiple banks. On top of that, and maybe this is where I made things more complicated than they needed to be, I wanted a small bank. After reading reviews and common issues for many many banks, I realized that I’d feel more comfortable going with a smaller bank, one with a low donor limit. Granted, that went out the window after it became clear that, as much as a bank claims and attempts to ensure they adhere to their limits, there is nothing they can do to prevent that donor from going to another bank to donate there, in addition to the original bank.

Then came the issue of values. What was I looking for in a donor, aside from race? Education level? Profession (or desire profession)? Personality? Interests? Medical history? It was overwhelming. I mean, how often do non-Jewish couples think about medical history, particularly heterosexual couples? And really, just because a donor writes a glowing description of themselves with all the things that are important to them, how much of that is really going to matter, when most of those things are not genetic?

I was really hung up on personality and value characteristics for a long time. Part of this had to do with wondering what I was going to tell the child when the inevitable question was asked “Why did you choose my donor?” What was I going to tell them I based their decision on? I wanted to be proud in confident in the choice. I wanted to pick someone who had personality characteristics I valued so the child would know that I was intentional in my choice. That I chose characteristics that the child could be proud of in some ways. But, after talking it out with one of my best friends when options were getting slim, I realized that, while I may value certain things, and would look for those things in a partner, it may not matter in the context of creating a child from donor sperm (again, because some of those things aren’t genetic). This isn’t to say that I went with any donor, but it placed the selection process in perspective.

This happened after the fact that the donor I’d finally chosen, who had so many of the qualities I valued, turned out to be strictly anonymous, with no option for contact when the child turned 18. I admit I was devastated, and for an elongated second was just going to go with that donor, regardless of that fact. But then, how would the child feel when they turned 18 and wanted to contact this person, or at least learn more about them and the other half of their genetic make-up? Would it be fair for me to intentionally, as a result of my choice, make this impossible for them? It’d be one thing if I felt strongly that I didn’t want the donor to be in my child’s life in any capacity when they became an adult, or if I had a partner who felt strongly about it. But that wasn’t the case. I want them to have that information, and would want them to be able to reach out if they wanted. If I were that child, I know I’d want the option. Even if I didn’t take it, I’d want to the option. So my perfect donor was no longer perfect, and I had to go with another donor.

Also, it’s amazing what seeing childhood photos does to the selection process.

All in all, it was a difficult process. It made me think a lot about what was ultimately important; it placed a lot of things in perspective.

Reimagining a Life…? Explain.

After spending a long time looking at and reading a lot of TTC/motherhood/parenthood blogs and not often seeing me or my path represented, I decided I wanted to start a blog to chronicle, or just share my thoughts on this journey of becoming a single mother by choice, as a black, queer, ciswoman.

So, why the title “Reimagining a Life?” Well, frankly, what I originally wanted was taken (isn’t this always the case?). I only mention this because the original title (which was just these words, rearranged) I felt made it a bit clearer what I was going for. But this current configuration still works, it just requires a bit more explanation.

I have decided to become a single mother, by choice, and I am 100% ok with that. Ok in that, I was never tied to the idea of having children with a partner. I’ve always wanted children. When I was younger and I imagined having kids, it was usually just me and the kids. I did not often envision me doing this with a partner. I did envision myself having a partner one day, but, interestingly, the two imagined futures rarely overlapped. I’m sure this could be analyzed a number of different ways; I have spent time doing just that. I grew up with single mother for most of my childhood. Many of the women in my family were single mothers. Some of my friends were being raised by single mothers. It was not out of the norm or unusual. It just was. Just like all the other family configurations I saw: kids raised by two, opposite sex parents. Kids raised by a solo father. Kids raised by a grandparent, or two. Kids raised by another family member, etc. I think seeing the varied family configurations led me to conceive of family structures as not predicated on relationship status.

Now, I’d be lying that, once I got to the point in my life where having kids seemed feasible, I didn’t think about it in terms of a two-parent situation. I was looking for and wanted to be in a long-term relationship. That was my priority. But after my last relationship ended I realized a large part of my disappointment was that I’d have to wait even longer to have kids (as it was something me and that person had discussed and were starting to plan for). I was struck by that realization, and realized that something didn’t seem right about that. I wanted a relationship, yes. But I also wanted kids. Further still, why was I feeling like the former must precede the latter, given how I felt about families?

I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t see the benefit of having a child with someone else, with being in a relationship. It would just be foolish not to. Some things can be easier with more than one person. But this is true for a number of things in life. For some people, having that relationship in place, with those assumed benefits, is necessary for having kids. For some people, it isn’t. And that’s ok. There are benefits to both scenarios, and drawbacks to both. Such is life.

I’ve spent the past couple years trying to create the life I want to live. Among other things in my life, being a mother is something I’ve always desired. It’s a journey I’ve always known I would embark on. It’s a journey I welcome in and of itself. So why not actualize this reimagined future, this reimagined life? Not as in me taking my life and reimagining outcomes, but, rather, conceiving of a life in general (read: abstract), re-imagined and free from general, societal expectations of what a family should look like. Actualization through embodied reimagining. A reimagining that disrupts what is presumed necessary to embark on the journey to and through motherhood.