Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Blame Game

It seems like a day cannot go by without an announcement from someone that they are either pregnant or have given birth. Every single day. And I'm not exaggerating. I have a moment of angst, of pity, of sadness....and then I do what I do. I smile, I send a note of congratulations, ask when the due date is or when can I see a picture of the little bundle.

And life goes on. And this happens or that happens. And some random happening brings my niece to the conversation....and I feel resentful.

This morning, sometime between dreaming and being fully awake, I realized that I am taking out all of my resentment for pregnant people on her. I am taking out my hurt feelings for lack of support from my family on her. Unfairly, I readily admit. But I am directing it all to her.

Because of the way she handled her wedding.

Because of the way she reacted when I told her that if I got pregnant next month, I would have a baby for her wedding ("you better not steal my thunder").

Because of the way she told me she was pregnant.

Because of the way I specifically reached out to all my siblings and my older nieces, to let them know I was trying to get pregnant. That I was telling everyone early because I wanted, and might need, their support. And then never heard another word from the majority of them.

Because of the way the majority of them never sent me a note or reached out with their sympathies when I lost the only pregnancy I had.

And she is the symbol of it all. She is where I direct my anger and resentment.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Closure and Closer

In my head (where I do my best writing sometimes) I've been trying to sum up the past three years into one post. To just sort of put it to bed and be done with it. I'm just not sure if it's possible. I guess all the more than 225 posts about fertility treatment and wondering about adoption can't be summarized into one 250-word post, can it?

I am feeling myself move away from it. Little by little. I've managed to turn my attention towards getting the dossier completed and working on me. So far so good. I've made it to the gym twice this week (after being out of town for work on Monday and Tuesday) and have really kicked my ass with the workouts.

I'm keeping track, informally, of what I'm eating. I know that slowly I'll have less mouth hunger, only want to eat at meal time, will crave good-for-me foods. I'm giving myself until after my birthday trip to Baltimore to get it out of my system, and then will keep track in much more formal way.

The dossier is getting closer to being completed. There are so many annoyances though. I got a lot of the paperwork notarized, only to realize that the notary's commission expires in a month. It can't be expired when it goes to Ethiopia, so I had to print it all out again, fill out the forms and find another notary.

Luckily there are several on campus, and after a phone call found one who's commission doesn't expire until 2011. However, I also needed to get a medical clearance form signed by my doctor and notarized. And after I picked up that form this morning, I saw that the notary's commission expires in July. I'm not sure if that will work.

I also have a form that needs to be sent to Albany to be state certified. But first I needed to go to the County Clerk's office and have it county certified. Tomorrow I will call the local police department to get a letter stating that I am a "citizen in good standing." (All my friends who have adopted assured me that they will know what I'm talking about.)

Nothing too hard. Just annoying. I think the hardest part will be my two-page statement. I've worked on it -- and will show it to my local social worker tomorrow when we meet to see what she thinks. I will post the entire thing when it's finished, but this was the first thing I wrote and it's how I'm planning to end it:

I hope I can live up to the dreams the birth mother has for her child. I can't thank her enough for her unselfishness in allowing me to raise her child, to be the mother. Not only is she giving her child a better life, she is giving me a better life.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Dossier

My training requirements are complete, which means the home study is done. I am just waiting for a final, notarized copy to mail with my immigration forms to Homeland Security. Once I have that clearance, the only thing left is my dossier -- the official file that will go to Ethiopia.

My goal is to have the dossier complete and mailed out before my birthday in the middle of April. Everything needs to be notarized, one thing needs to be state certifies -- but other than the annoyance of that, it's pretty cut and dry.

Several forms that are already in the packet that I need to sign; and then: a letter from my boss stating my length of employment, job title and how long I've worked there; photos of my and my house, inside and out; an original birth certificate with seal (I ordered it on Friday); a form signed by my doctor attesting to my good health; a letter from my local police that I'm a citizen in good standing; and two letters of reference.

The hardest piece of it all will be my statement of reason for adopting a child from Ethiopia -- two pages about my commitment to the child and his Ethiopian culture, my community's acceptance of an Ethiopian child and my reason for adopting.

I've started to write it in my head, over and over. And so many times, I get hung up on how it will sound to a stranger. Will it be convincing enough. Will they not like what I write?

As I have been reading through information about Ethiopia, I've made notes. I love the idea that it's a mostly Christian country, so I won't be raising my child in a religion that he most likely wouldn't have been raised in. Unless he was abandoned, there will some family and I will be able meet the birth family and to send them updates. I get to share the amazing journey of being a mother in a very unique way. And I get to thank his family for that opportunity, and I get to share the connection with them with my child.

It will take me the next three weeks to my birthday to figure out just the words for that part of my dossier. There are thousands of children in that country who need a mother -- and I'm just one woman who needs a child to make me a mother. I hope I can express how much this opportunity that will be entrusted to me really and truly means.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

First Pedicure of the Season

I got up this morning with a list of things to do, which could have been done in any order. I opted to do the post office and then everything else after the mall. I could have gone to the bank, could have done my grocery shopping or Kohl's, could have checked on Jill's cats -- any or all of the above before my pedicure.

This is important because all of those things enabled me to be at the mall and talk to the nice pregnant girl while we both got pedicures.

She commented how good the back massage felt. I asked her when she was due. "July, but I could go earlier because I'm carrying twins."

An inner voice, but I ignored it. I went back to making my grocery list, she talked to who I assumed was the baby daddy. He left to go smoke. I turned back to her, "do you know what you're having?"

"Identical boys."

Inner voice got much louder. It couldn't be, could it? "Wow, congratulations."

"Thanks. I have four other children." And then I could have repeated the ages and names of her children along with her. "Four, three, two and just over one." And then she showed me pictures of kids I've seen before. Kids I knew about. The baby I have actually held.

Yup. Leave it to me to be sitting next to and making small talk with the DSS mother I wrote about last week.

Are you shitting me?

When I called Bubbles to tell her, she had the best response, as only I would expect Bubbles to have. "What a fun pedicure for you. Want me to invite J's wife along for spa day?"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Adoption Update

I started the week doing 10 hours of online training, necessary for my adoption application. It was over-whelming and made me have doubts. I realize they want to know about every possibility, but to read about it all at once. Holy shit.

Every medical problem, every regression or attachment issue, every disciplinary problem....all over the course of two days. I called my friend who adopted from Ethiopia three years ago.

"Robbie's okay, right?"

She talked me off the edge. Most of the issues I read about happen to children who are institutionalized or older when they are adopted. But they have to cover their ass and tell me everything.

Once I talked to her, I felt a little better. The whole idea of adopting, of being responsible for someone else's baby, for being given another life is a lot to absorb. And it's so much more than just getting pregnant and giving birth.

While I know that I will love my adopted child as my own, will feel that way about him or her -- when it's all abstract, the baby to be named later doesn't feel like mine yet.

So I have the first part of my application in. I am awaiting instructions from the placement agency for the last of my pre-adoption education. I spoke with my social worker at the placement agency today and she said she'll be getting that out to me. Once all the education is done, my home study is complete and I can send in my immigration paperwork to Homeland Security.

At the same time, I can begin putting my dossier together. Depending on how long the immigration paperwork takes, I could have everything in by the end of April. And so from that point, from dossier to referral (the actual paper that says, this is your baby, do you want him?) is an estimated 12 to 18 months.

Still a long time to wait. But that's really when the bulk of the money needs to be paid, so it gives me 12 to 18 months to save, to raise, to borrow.

It's starting to feel like it's going to happen. Little by little.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Creepy McCreeperson

I'm the cute single girl in my housing complex. I give all of my neighbors a plate of Christmas cookies every year. And I thank the male neighbors who shovel my sidewalk with cookies every now and then.

And regardless of whether they are 70 or 50, I sort of lump those two snow shovelers in the same category as old married neighbor. However, I've been given pause lately to that. And it's kind of creepy.

The younger of the two "old married neighbors" recently friended me on facebook. Without thinking I accepted it. And after I did, I regretted it. But I put him in that category of people from high school that are on my friends list and I never talk to.

The next day, I got a message from him. "Your hair looks fabulous. You look great." I had recently gotten my hair chopped (did I not mention that here? I cut 10 inches off last week.)

OK....there was a picture on my page of my new hair. And maybe he just doesn't get that he could have written on my wall.

But I was thinking that I needed to figure out how to limit his access to my page. Apparently, I didn't do it soon enough. Yesterday I got another message from him. The subject line was "Hmmmmmm."

The message: Nice tattoo, the things you can learn about your neighbors.. My lips are sealed...

I was immediately creeped out. Inappropriate. Way inappropriate. No longer was he getting limited access. He was getting cock blocked. I blocked him and now I do not exist on FB to him.

Hopefully that's the end of the story. See what I get for trying to be nice and neighborly. No more. I'm going back to my motto of "if I would sit on a bar and sing karaoke in front of you (or if I have), you get to be my FB friend."

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Mr. Big" Was too Generous of a Nickname

When I talk about J on this blog, I refer to him as....well J. On my naughty blog and in general when Bubbles and I are talking about him (when I'm not using a derogatory name), I refer to him as Mr. Big. He's my Big. Think Sex and the City.

Last week, he texted me at midnight. I was in an "I don't care if I'm bad" mood and responded. Amazingly, even though he was in North Carolina on a golfing trip with his buddies, we kept the 15-minute text conversation on a nothing but platonic level. And it was kind of nice.

The next day I tweeted something like, "so good to talk with Big last night, even if he woke me up ;)"

He texted me later and asked "So am I supposed to be Big?"

"Yea, like in Sex and the City."

"I'm confused."

"You're my Mr. Big. The one I can always count on, always there, but no commitment"

"When you say things like that, it really bothers me. I thought you were my friend."

WTF. I didn't even know how to respond to it. Of course, this is all over text and I was in the middle of getting my taxes done, so I couldn't even call him.

"It's losing something in translation. It's a good thing. Just know that it was nice to talk to you last night."

"Sorry I'm being sensitive"

"No problem. Sorry to confuse you."

"I was probably over-reacting"

"We're good?"

"Sure."

I couldn't believe he was so sensitive. Good lord, I didn't know I was dealing with Chris, who never wanted drama, who after sleeping with me for nearly seven years still wouldn't say that we had any sort of relationship.

It'll be interesting to see when I hear from him again. I'm going to Baltimore next month, and I will need to touch base with him (he has some autographed items for me for whatever Bubbles and I do to raise me some baby money). I'm thinking I'll wait until the week before and ask him if I can pick it up at his office, or if he can drop it off at the museum and I'll get them when I see Johnny Z.

Not going to ask if he wants to have breakfast. Not going to ask if he wants to meet for a drink. I think it's best that I stick to my "no more J" rule. Because really, even if we did plan for something, what are the chances that he would actually follow through? No commitment, remember.

Plan B Underway

I filled out my application for the international agency, along with a $1600 check. I suddenly feel like this is what I'm supposed to do. I haven't thought about the failed attempts, just looking forward.

Of course, I didn't get there on my own. I had to call Buffalo Dave yesterday to find out my balance in one of my retirement accounts. And when I told him, I guess I didn't sound very excited about it. He was. And then asked what was up. When I told him I was still sad about not being able to get pregnant, he said, "you know how when you're reading a really good book? And you can't wait to read the next page? You're not thinking about the page you just read, but what's about to come."

It was pretty profound for him. And pretty quick. And I appreciated his little story. Of course the best part of the story -- best for my ego anyway -- was when he told me that he would buy me a "MILF on Board" bumper sticker. I told him I would hold him to it. He may have broken my heart some 15 years ago, but he still knows the way to it.

I came home last night and finished filling out and signing a stack of paperwork. This morning I copied it all, wrote out a check, and put it all in an envelope. Tomorrow I will go to the post office in the course of my errands and mail it out.

It's hard to think that it won't be until at least this time next year before anything happens, but I can use the next 12 months to work on me, to get me (mind and body) back to where I need to be.

And so the next steps are...

* application, part 1 ($1600) will get mailed tomorrow
* I need to do a 10-hour, online training session for my home study to be complete
* once the home study is complete, I can mail it and my immigration forms (along with $750) to Homeland Security
* and then application, part 2, along with $1500

I'm not even looking past that. One step at a time. When I go to Baltimore next month for my birthday, Bubbles and I will put a plan in place for some sort of fund-raiser (stay tuned, faithful readers). It will most likely be a raffle -- I have lots of signed sports memorabilia and get my hands on more, thanks to my friends in my previous life.

I told my "gym boyfriend" tonight that after spring break he gets the old Ellie back, hardcore Ellie. That will go to working on getting me back to me (mind & body).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's the Only One I've Got

It's hard to want to be good to my body, when it hasn't exactly been good to me. But as my friend (and former trainer) said to me tonight, "it's the only one you've got." And so I decided that this week, I will work out as I feel like it. At the intensity and for however long I want.

Next week is spring break and the gym will be closed. Hopefully it will be warm out and I can walk a couple nights after work or at least during the day. After spring break, I need to find it inside of me again. I need to start to think about what I'm eating, start to work out hard.

That will give me two months before the end of the school year, two months to try to lose some of the baby weight. Two months to kick myself in the ass and get into a routine that will be easy to maintain over the summer when I won't have student trainers here to keep me motivated and make me feel accountable if I don't go to the gym.

I hope I'm there. There hasn't been a day since my negative test that I haven't cried a little. And after being at work all day, after trying to remain upbeat and "on," it's hard to want to do anything after work but come home and be a vegetable. That's what I need to get rid of, that's what I need to overcome.

But one day at a time. Tonight....a hard workout on the treadmill, with intervals of incline, speed and with weights. I couldn't do the whole thing, but I think having that as something to shoot for, something to play my own little workout mind games with, will help.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Week in Review

It's been a weird week. My emotions have been on a roller coaster, mostly down. I'm sad. That's really the only way to describe it. And I know that I will get over it eventually -- or at least, if not over it, it will become a little more bearable each day.

I started to think about my birthday and how I'm going to be 40 in a little over a month. Never in a million years did I think 40 would look like this. But here it is. Where a few weeks ago, I wasn't making any plans for 40, because I so thought I would be pregnant, now I have plans to make.

So I'm going to Baltimore the weekend after my birthday, for my usual round of visiting. And Bubbles is making all sorts of plans -- I just have to show up. A day at the spa, fancy dinner out. And lots of drinks. Finally, something to look forward to.

My friend at work (who has several children through foster care) told me about identical twin boys to be born this summer. The mother has four toddlers (4, 3, 2 and 13 months) -- all in foster care. DSS isn't sure what the plan is for the babies. As Charlie was telling me, the woman who has the other four kids can't take two more. And the mother, if she doesn't have her babies right from birth to bond with them, doesn't want them.

She wants her 4-, 3-, and 2-year olds back, but not the baby. Because he was taken away from her as soon as he was born. She doesn't feel a connection with him. She doesn't have any bond with him.

So I called DSS, one of the women who taught the classes I was in last spring, and left a message. It was very generic -- just that I wanted to touch base, let her know where things were in my life, etc. She passed me off to someone else, who specifically handles adoption.

And when the adoption guy and I finally connected, I asked very specific questions about this woman who is pregnant with twins and doesn't have custody of her other four children. I knew more about the situation than he did. He didn't have a whole lot to say. They're not sure of what the plan is when she gives birth, if the twins can't go with the other four, the goal is still family reunification, can I do that?

I was honest. I told him no. These women give birth to throw away children, I'm not going to help them get their kids back. But knowing a lot about the situation, knowing how she feels after giving birth and giving up immediate custody, I'm willing to take the chance that she would get her kids back. He appreciated my honesty, and of course because of the business he's in, he can't agree with me.

I understand the premise of DSS. I understand why we have Child Protective Services. I do. I get it. And I understand that people makes mistakes, that there are circumstances.

But in the case of the kids that Charlie has -- a 4-year-old and a 3-year-old who have been in Charlie's care for more than two and a half years; and their 2-year-old twin sisters who have been with Charlie all but six months of their lives. (not to mention the three teenagers she has lost permanent custody of and who live with their grandmother). And then this other case -- four toddlers and now soon-to-be-born twins. They've been in foster care since last January. The baby has never been in the custody of his mother.

It's a fucked up world we live in. I can't get pregnant, I can't have a child, and these women are getting pregnant more often than Michelle Duggar. Explain the logic. Explain the fairness.

And my frustration is more than at these women, it's at the system, as well. So my conversation with the adoption guy, after he said he would talk with the woman I had called in the first place, I asked what my next steps should be. "Will you call me after you talk to her? Will she call me? Or should I check in with you or her in, say two weeks?"

He didn't know how to answer that. He's not sure what the birth plan is for the twins. "Well, they're due to be born in June. And they're twins, so she may go early...." My voice was trailing off, because I needed to keep my composure, but when the fuck were they planning to figure it out. It's March.

"Yeah, I'm really not sure what to tell you. We'll keep in mind that you're interested in these boys, and add you to the list."

And so that's that? WTF? No wonder people have the opinion of DSS that they have. I know they are understaffed, underpaid, over burdened. But here I am, wanting to do something, to help two children.

It's a frustrating place to be, for sure.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Cleaning House

I know that many people wouldn't have done this so quickly, but I like things in order. I like things I can control (probably why the past three years have been so fucking hard). And so Friday afternoon, after I got plowed out from the 18 inches of snow that fell the previous evening and that morning, I went to Wal-Mart and bought a shredder.

I stood at my kitchen counter and threw away all open medicine, packing up whatever was unopened to be donated. And then I pulled out my binder and shredded every piece of paperwork from the doctor and related to prescriptions. I did save my ultrasound pictures and every picture of my embryos.

I pulled the two bins of maternity clothes out of the extra bedroom and put them in garbage bags, ready to bring back to my niece the next day. And the books I pulled from the shelf on Thursday got put into a bag and dropped off at the library book sale. Jill's fertility statue that has sat on my bedroom television since the summer of 2007 is wrapped in paper, in a bag, and ready to go back to her house. And this morning, I handed Heather a $50 gift card for Motherhood Maternity.

"Are you sure?"

"I'm not getting pregnant. I don't need it."

"Are you sure?" she repeated.

I'm sure. It's all gone. Any reminder of trying to get pregnant. Any planning that I did -- premature or otherwise -- is undone. My kitchen counter is void of needles, syringes, bottles of pills, and vials of progesterone in oil. My bathroom sink no longer holds my daily allotment of progesterone suppositories and the applicators.

I pulled my adoption paperwork out and immediately was over whelmed. Jill promised to come over early next week and help me sort through it.

And last night as I was laying in bed, trying to fall back asleep, I finally figured out what has perhaps been bugging me about international adoption. And "bugging" might be the wrong word. But I have been hesitant. And I've wondered if it's because of the race thing, but that's not it.

If someone handed me an African-American baby tomorrow, I would be thrilled. So why am I hesitant about adopting from Ethiopia? I think it's because if I'm going to spend all this money, if I'm going to take out a loan and drain my savings to the grand total of more than $25,000, I want a choice. I don't want to be told where I have to adopt from.

Just because I'm single, does that make me any less of a person? Will that make me any less of a parent? Apparently, in the eyes of almost every country in the world, it does.

And so just as I couldn't control what my body would and wouldn't do over the past few years, I can't control this. And the sooner I accept that part of it, and worry about what I can control -- saving money, raising money, getting all my paperwork in, continuing to work on me, getting back to the gym and wanting to do good things for my body -- the better off I will be, both physically and mentally.