Thursday, June 28, 2007


Listening to Jeff Gammage discuss his book China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood on Fresh Air yesterday nearly made me cry. Gammage wasn't particularly excited about becoming a parent when he and his wife traveled to China to adopt their daughter. (This after being unable to have biological children.)

I adopted a dog from the SPCA and would never buy a purebred. How could I, when so many great dogs need homes? Yet I view adoption as a last resort, even though
when I think of the efforts I have gone and will go to in order to become a parent of my biological child, I'm frankly a little embarrassed. It brings tears to my eyes to think of all of the children in orphanages around the world, yet I'm still hoping to have my own child.

Part of the reason is I want the experience of pregnancy. And I undeniably want a child that's genetically related to me. But why? Are my short, chubby, musical, cheese-hating, Type A Jewish genes so precious that they must be preserved for posterity in creation of another human being? Of course wanting biological children is rooted to some degree in narcissism. I think it also reflects a passion for one's family and roots -- particularly important to Jews who saw our ranks decimated last century.

My child will be only 50 percent related to my partner and I. Most of the time I cling to that 50 percent, minimizing the donor's biological importance. But occasionally I wonder, if I'm only getting that 50 percent to start with, why not just dump it and go for adoption? If I have my own biological child, does that leave one more child in an orphanage somewhere who will never have the kind of loving home I could provide?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Yes, I still exist

It's been a while. One of the things about not trying to conceive for the first time in a year and a half is that you suddenly have all of these other things to think about. It's remarkable to start my day with a Web site other than It's amazing to spend the month not constantly monitoring my cervical mucus and breasts for possible signs of ovulation or pregnancy.

I am spending my break trying to drop some weight -- currently on day six of the South Beach diet. It's been nearly 20 years since I actively went on a capital-D diet. This one has its benefits, like the fact that it's not low-fat, but it also has many drawbacks. (Cannot believe I haven't eaten a piece of fruit in six days.) I'm planning to cheat on the Fourth of July, but beyond that I don't know exactly how much weight I'm trying to lose or how long I'll tolerate this. Probably not much and not very.

It feels both good and bizarre to be doing something with my body other than trying to get pregnant. Last week I ate a nicoise salad for the first time in eons. Yes, I know the mercury takes a long time to leave your system, but it sure was a nice change.

At the moment I'm waiting for my RE's IVF coordinator to call me so we can think about getting things moving. I had some blood tests earlier this month, both for my primary care physician (cholesterol and fasting glucose) and fertility doctor (HCG, TSH, and some antiphospholipid thing that could have contributed to miscarriage). Everything was normal. At this point, the only explanation for miscarriage #2 is trisomy 12. Number 1 will always remain a mystery, I guess.

Which leads me to this existential issue. I've always been fascinated by twins. I loved the Sweet Valley High books as a teenager. At the same time, knowing people with twins has only increased my fear of having them myself. (As a result, I'm pretty sure that conceiving identical twins last time around was nature's way of giving me the finger.) One of my main reservations about IVF has been the risk of twins, though of course that can be minimized with a single embryo transfer.

And hence the dilemma. Back in the single-miscarriage days, it seemed perfectly reasonable to transfer a single embryo. Hey, no reason to think that this one embryo will be flawed even if the first one was, right? But miscarriage #2 has changed the game. I've had two conceptions that I know of and two that failed. If I'm going to go to the bother of IVF, and I have a history of making problematic embryos, does it make sense to transfer two in IVF to maximize my chances? (Personal policy is not to transfer more than I am prepared to raise or carry, at the moment.) Or, again, would doing so only ensure that Mother Nature would again give me the double-fingered salute?

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Results are in

It is odd, to say this, but the miscarriage pathology results are good. The embryos were male and had trisomy 12, a genetic abnormality that causes miscarriage; embryos with this genetic profile aren't viable. This is good, because a) the fact that they were male ensures they were able to isolate the embryo's genetic material from my own, and b) this kind of trisomy is a one-time occurrence, more common among women of my advanced maternal age (36), but not a sign of any long-term problem.

My doctor is a dream -- smart, competent, warm, and nice -- and she remains quite optimistic about my chances. She still considers me a "great" candidate for IVF, and she also suspects that if I tried several more times with Femara and IUIs, I'd probably get pregnant again. I'm not exactly sure what I'll do next -- probably IVF. But I'm going to take at least the summer off. Still, I'll have a saline sonogram (to investigate the topography of my uterus) and a blood test in a few days. I'm hoping to get as much of the IVF prep out of the way now, so I can relax and not worry about it.

It's incredible to have a doctor who actually inquires after my well-being. And a relief to hear she's very supportive of me taking a break. Walking into that office today, I really didn't know what to expect; I felt there was a possibility I'd learn I would never have a baby. So to leave the office hearing the echoes of optimism in my head was quite a treat.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Book club, part 3: Baby Love

What I disliked about Rebecca Walker's Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence

Where to start?

1. Her meandering. I don't need to know about the trials of her hot water heater and the moths that ate half her wardrobe. That's great if she enjoyed steak and spinach and salad and mint chocolate ice cream. But why am I reading about it?

2. Her astonishing self-involvement. Walker treats her pregnancy as if it were an international event. (Predictably, this bit raised my blood pressure: upon being told a friend had a miscarriage, she declares, "Well, I'm not going to be having one of those, thank you very much!" Lucky you.) Lucky for her, she's able to take time off from her work when she needs to. She has the money to buy anti-stretch mark potion number 59. She has the luxury to interview multiple doulas.

3. Her assumptions. Yes, I know her mother is Alice Walker. But does every reader? It's not mentioned anywhere in the book. Might have been nice to go beyond describing her mother as simply a writer and mention, say, that she won a Pulitzer Prize, or something.

4. Her subtitle, "choosing motherhood after a lifetime of ambivalence." This so-called ambivalence is a central tenet of Baby Love, but I have some news for Walker: I don't think she was nearly as ambivalent about having a child as she thinks she was. She tried getting pregnant in a previous relationship, she considered having a child with a male lover. That doesn't sound like ambivalence: it sounds like a combination of luck and good, old-fashioned family planning.

5. Her obfuscation. One section talks about her several-year romance with the mother of Solomon, a boy she helped raise. Another section talks about her several-year romance with an unfaithful rock star -- a woman who's a mother, but doesn't necessarily seem to be the mother of Solomon. Only she must be, given that Walker and I are the same age, and there's no way she had two eight-year relationships since graduating college by the time she wrote this book. What's more, many of us know this mysterious mother-of-Solomon/rock star to be Me'shell Ndegeocello. Why does she bandy about her hematocrit numbers and mother drama but refuse to name her ex?

6. If the answer to the last question is because of Solomon, I have to ask, if Walker is so concerned about Solomon knowing his mother was unfaithful, how will he feel when he reads this much-discussed section?

"It's not the same. I don't care how close you are to your adopted son or beloved stepdaughter, the love you have for your nonbiological child isn't the same as the love you have for your own flesh and blood. It's different."

This feels like a giant fuck-you not only to Solomon but to millions of parents -- including many lesbian and gay parents -- around the world. Walker may feel this way, but who the hell is she to make that pronouncement for all adoptive and non-biological parents everywhere?

I read this statement to a friend who has two children; she gave birth to one, and her partner birthed the other. She responded, "I don't know what you're talking about. Both my children are my biological children." I imagine many other parents would agree.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Two small blows

So May pretty much sucked completely. Miscarriage, family stuff, everything. I was so happy when June arrived, a clean slate.

But it didn't start off so easily. Yesterday two small pieces of news felt like punches in the stomach: first, a former co-worker -- someone who could easily be described as the least maternal person on the planet -- had a baby. Second, I overheard another co-worker telling people his wife is pregnant. Her due date? Same as mine would have been. I had to go into the bathroom and breathe deeply to ensure I would remain composed.

Frankly, things have gone so awfully lately that it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the news Tuesday at my pathology appointment was the worst kind.

I sure am making a lot of solo dinner reservations lately under the name "bitter."