Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Shades of Gray

If you think I'm talking about the book, I promise, I'm not. I haven't even read it yet, though I did read an article recently saying that it has caused a baby boom of sorts, wink wink, for February 2013 babies. Oy. Not my (fingers crossed) February 2013 babies. Their very scientific and mechanical conception couldn't be farther away from steamy sex after reading a hot novel.

We have entered the second trimester! And Gabby found a heartbeat on the doppler yesterday (she stopped looking after finding only one and I'm fine with that now) so I am comfortably sure that we have made it to 14 weeks. I'm still so nervous for a missed miscarriage, but I'm so excited to be where we are. I'm still amazed we have made it so far.

On Thursday night, after the ultrasound, we also had our bi-weekly (every two weeks, not twice a week) session with our "infertility" counselor. She's not really an infertility counselor, just a regular family counselor, which sucks sometimes because she says things you really shouldn't say to an infertile, but she is also really nice and sometimes can say really good things.

We spoke a lot about grief and loss while being "pregnant." About my embarrassment about being a "fraud," about what it means. About not having anything to show for things yet (i.e. a baby bump). After all of it, I take these things from her:

I see a world too much in black and white and not enough shades of gray. I've actually heard my parents tell me this for years now, well before infertility ever entered my life. I don't know why I am that way; maybe it makes things easier for me. It definitely helps me be more decisive, most of the time. It also makes things harder sometimes when they don't need to be. I am super hard on myself.

On top of that conversation with my neighbor last week, I had gotten an email from Gabby that afternoon. She told me that after the ultrasound she ran to a neighborhood consignment store to look for maternity clothes, and while there, the clerk asked if this was her first baby. She took the moment to tell her, not at all, that she was a gestational carrier with three kids of her own, and she educated the clerk. She was so excited to tell me how she has no compunction about telling this to strangers, that she feels like a babysitter or a dear aunt. These aren't her kids at all, she's just the kind Mary Poppins taking care of them for 9 months, and then they'll go home with Mom and Dad.

Well, isn't that sweet. No, it really is. I felt terrible, because in my one moment to do some education last week, I hid. I didn't take the opportunity to educate at all. I ran away from it.

And I explored that with my counselor this week. And she helped me see things in more gray, to think more kindly of myself and not think what a schmuck I am for not running with it and teaching a near total stranger (even though she is my neighbor) .

There was no true lie involved. I didn't say I was pregnant. I didn't tell her the absolute truth either, but it really wasn't the time or place. Neighbor woman didn't really want or need the whole story, and it was my story to tell when I want to - if I want to.

I told the counselor how bad I felt that Gabby educates but I do not. And talking about it, I've realized...it's much easier for her. First off, she has something to show for it, a baby bump, which makes a discussion much easier to start. Mine is less tangible, a talking point. Who likes talking points that are forced? Politics suck. Second of all, she is in a similar position to where adoptive moms are a lot of time. Adoptive moms, please correct me if I'm wrong, but during our homestudy process and classes, we were told a lot that the public looks more upon adoption as a noble "thing." Almost like "saving the babies" when we know that is not it at all, and our baby/ies saved us just as much. But that's not what the public sees or thinks. Likewise, the public doesn't look at birthmoms and think what a great, unselfish thing they have done when they decided to place their baby for adoption. They are not heralded for doing so.

Obviously, surrogacy is not at all the same thing, but there are similar veins. Instead there's a lot of feeling out there about "lazy rich women who pay others to have their babies for them." A gestational carrier is the noble one in this case, giving the gift of themselves in order to make a family. And they deserve all the credit (as do adoptive moms, in case you didn't get that from my previous paragraph), but the intended mother is not thought of in as good a light. Look at all the people who accuse celebrities of using a surrogacy to keep their bodies in pristine shape. (Luckily, no one who knows me would ever accuse me of that after seeing my body :)

Obviously, birthmoms don't usually go around telling people they've placed their baby for adoption or when they are pregnant and waiting to, even though it may be the most unselfish thing in the world to do. Why not? They could educate the world as well. And I know a few may, but not that many. It's usually online, and not in public at the local Target.

So why do I hate myself for not being forthright with the world as well?

For birthmoms, there are so many complicated issues - it's not a simple matter of saying, "I decided to place my baby." There is a history and reasons, and the grief is there for many of them. Likewise it is for me. There is so much more behind becoming an intended mother than any stranger would ever know or care to hear, and I could never convey it to them even if I wanted them to know. It's not as simple as, "One day I woke up and decided to have a baby via a gestational carrier." But most people who haven't traveled this path or watched mine don't know or get that.

Sure, I could be a better educator. I could be better at a lot of things (exercise for one). I should work on it, but I should also cut myself some slack.

For now, at least I realize what is holding me back, even if it doesn't make me completely comfortable with it. While I feel it would be great to be open like Giuliana and Bill Rancic, they also have a much bigger platform on which to speak. I have a 3 minute conversation with a stranger I'll likely never see again. And because they (G&B) are in the 5th season of their reality show, the strangers who watch them saw their journey - their miscarriage, their shots, their crying. The strangers I talk to have no idea of my journey: my many miscarriages, my open heart surgeries, my shots, my crying, my devastation - and there's just not enough time to tell them about it. Nor do they necessarily care (unlike viewers who specifically tune in to watch G&B).

It's all so very complicated. But that's ok. Here's a little bit of gray that I'm ok with. There are no wrong answers here.

Baby steps.


  1. I really like your comparisons here. Very good points, and very well stated.

  2. What a great post...I love your explanation...and yeah for 14 weeks!

  3. This is a really great post! You laid it out with very clear and relatable analogies. I'm glad you have a greater understanding of yourself after your visit with your therapist. She sounds like a good Dr. And it is definitely ok to not tell people your full story if you aren't ready; I'm sure it will happen in time. :)

  4. Yay for 14 weeks. And try not to feel so bad about shying away from educating others. It shouldn't be something you are forced to do. Maybe over time when the babies get here you will feel more comfortable. Yes these are my adorable babies and no stretch marks because...

  5. I am so thrilled about 14wks :) That's wonderful! Continuing the positive thoughts!

    You make perfect sense to me. I can definitely understand the differences you've pointed out.

    Yes, it is so much easier for Gabby to talk about it. For all the reasons you mentioned, I'm sure.

    She also doesn't carry the kind of scars and pain you do either, and it's okay for you not to talk about it. It really is. Some of us feel the need to scream these things, but is that better? No. It's just another way of handling all the crap that infertility and loss throw our way.

  6. I agree! Don't be hard on yourself at all. Even when we were waiting to be adoptive parents we didn't really tell others either. It seems easier to avoid the issue. :) Also, email me at lareinaisabel@gmail.com and I'll give you breastmilk information!! :-)

  7. I hear myself in a lot of this. A friend of mine once told me I deal with the world only in "extremes." Things can be very black and white for me as well, and I know how hard it is. It's NOT the same for you as for Gabby (although I love her for telling people about it). For you it's not just "I decided to help a couple that couldn't have children by being a gestational carrier." It becomes why you couldn't have kids. What you went through. Did you try X? Did you see Y? My SIL saw Y and she had great results after one round of clomid . . . etc. So I agree with your therapist. Gray. And I had one of those therapists too. God help her, she tried to work with me and see where I was coming from. She knew grief, but didn't know miscarriage and infertility. She helped me some. I'm glad to see yours is helping you. :)

  8. Shades of gray used to be absolutely foreign to me as well. It's tough to start to see them until you're forced to. You know, because of that fun life lesson of infertility. (read: sarcasm) I find myself practicing whole conversations in my head with strangers when it comes to educating them about our family "tree". And sometimes I don't feel like getting into it. Sometimes you just don't want to go there.

    btw. Nice clarification in your title. Although, imagine the traffic if you hadn't put that in your title! :)

  9. Yay for 14 weeks!!
    I'm very hard on myself as well - I'm ok with grey in other people's lives, I'm way more patient with everyone else. I had to have a therpaist teach me how to be more patient with myself. Be kind to myself - it's hard!!
    This is your journey, and your story to tell to whomever you choose, however you choose.

    As I read this, the Grateful Dead's song Touch of Grey was running in my head - one line that stands out to me:
    "Every silver lining's got a touch of grey"


  10. Brilliant posts and wonderfully insightful on the 'noble' points. The surromummies are the 'angels' (which of course they absolutely are) and we IMs are the 'desperate women' who 'will do anything' including have someone else have our babies for us.
    It is perfectly ok for you not to tell people, it will be your babies story and you have to tell who you can trust which that precious info. Yay for 14 weeks!!!

  11. Great post! I have thought about some of these same things related to surrogacy and adoption so many times.