Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Digging deeper

For years I could easily be described as "reactive", "tough", "out spoken" and even "difficult" at times. As the years pass and I grow deeper into who I want to be I am less of the above and more "reflective", "accepting", and "peaceful". So when I'm asked questions about my decision to be a single mother I listen, reflect, and respond with confidence either my answer or more questions.

I find myself investigating a lot over little things, making sure I have thought of everything there is to think about to ensure a "perfect plan" for me. The one comment I hear often is "you can't plan for a baby you have to wait and see what your baby's plans are for you". I think this can be translated to life, we can plan all we want but life happens and we have to work with these happenings the best we know how. However, I still like to make plans but I now accept that these are only templates, working documents.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pausing Surprise

To my surprise, the day I got my period after my first insemination left me in a strange place. Before I attempted to get inseminated I knew it may take several tries to get pregnant due to my age and method. I anticipated that I would feel disappointment each time I found out it didn't 'take', but I didn't prepare for the "PAUSE". I had been planning on being a mother for months, preparing my body, changing my life style choices, even work related changes - but I didn't realize that my feelings would pull me out of the game altogether.

After a few days of sitting with my thoughts, I had to go back to the clinic and start the process all over again. I did so but without excitement this time, without the positive feeling of "I was preparing to be pregnant". I felt empty, lonely, and desperate. I made an appointment with my counsellor to discuss my feelings and came up with the plan to "pause" my journey to motherhood. Since I'm in control of my journey I can make the decisions to move forward in the direction I feel is best. When I said the words "I need to pause" I felt a sense of relief, that's how I knew it was the best choice for me at that moment.

I called the clinic and explained that I would be stopping my cycle monitoring this month and that I would call them when I was ready to begin again. This was not questioned or supported, they are simply too busy to care about "me", they'll just move my file out of the current line-up and make room for those moving forward. I talked to some friends about my change of heart, some listened with support, while others questioned my decision - was I going to give up altogether or keep trying later, what did I mean by "pausing". I knew this was coming from a place of love, but I wasn't in the mood to have to explain my choices to anyone at that point. I simply wanted to be respected for the choices I made, whether it was to move forward or not.

Another surprise I experienced was my desire to try dating again. I signed up for an online dating profile and began chatting with men through emails. Once the time came to set up a meeting for coffee my old feelings of 'is this him?' began to surface. 'Him' being my future husband. 'Him' the future father of my children. 'Him' the one to rescue me from my single life. 'Him' the one to change my whole existence as I knew it. My thinking is so ridiculously impossible before I even meet 'Him', 'He' doesn't stand a chance. This is pretty much how I ended up creating a Plan B in the first place. Many men my age who are single, looking to date aren't carrying an engagement ring around in their pocket with a strong desire to father a child in the near future, because if he was he would be classified "CRAZY". Something I am well aware of on my end.

I think because my last serious relationship ended after six years, three of which marriage and children were promised but never delivered (hence break-up), I'm still there in that head-space, only now I'm alone. Now that I'm trying to date I feel unsure of how to 'start over'. As well, many men I have met have children, they are already fathers and understand their role as a parent. Some even expressed that they aren't looking to have more children. So I am unsure how I fit into these relationship equations and still be true to my own desires and dreams.

Now that my ovulation for this month has passed, I have 28 more days to determine if I am ready to press 'play' on Plan B or continue to 'pause' it longer. Whatever I decide it will be the best decision for me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Negative Results...

For the entire two weeks after my first insemination(s) I continued to take a pregnancy test everyday. When my period began on DAY 29 (aka DAY 1 of my next cycle) at 9:00am as it always does, I shouldn't have been surprised, but somehow I was. I felt grief for the embryo that never would be...my dream of becoming a mother was delayed again. I found myself crying, asking GOD to make it happen, to make this the one thing in my life I wouldn't have to fight for - can't it just be? Even though I don't believe GOD is controlling my fertilization process, I did feel that I needed someone/thing to blame for my NEGATIVE result.

After I had a good cry I pulled myself together to call the nurse at the cycle monitoring centre to begin the process all over again. Since it's DAY 1, I am scheduled to go in on DAY 3 with my full bladder to have my blood and ultra sound work begin again. I decided to make some changes to my reactions to this month's cycle monitoring, for example: I won't read my book daily and analyze every symptom I may be feeling in my reproductive region; I will not take a pregnancy test until I have missed my period; and I will not tell everyone where I am in my process. I think I was so excited for my first insemination I told everyone "I may be pregnant", when in fact I wasn't. I imagine if I were trying to get pregnant with a partner the "normal" way, I wouldn't be announcing anything until after I was 12 weeks pregnant.

As a boxer must step back into the ring to win the fight, I must go back to the clinic and allow my body to be used as a human pin cushion in order to become a mother.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lesbian vs Old Maid

For women in their late thirties who have not been married at least once have two "global" identities; Lesbian or Old Maid. People assume that you don't want children if you've reached 35+ and haven't started a family. I often hear the question; "Do you think you'll ever 'settle down', get married and have a family?"
I'd love to respond with: 'Uh, yeah, that was my first plan but since that horse died alone without Prince Charming on my way to a PERFECT LIFE, I needed to find something more reliable like an Ox to pull my cart towards a different path, a new plan - such as becoming a single mother by choice.'

My reason for starting this blog was to help my family and friends understand why I am making the choice not to wait for Prince Charming to come and rescue me from my single life and just get on with living my life. Now that I can buy what I need from various "Princes" at a Sperm Bank, it's happy trails ahead for me. I also realized that that blogging about my journey has been therapeutic, and perhaps it may help at least one other woman feel less alone in making her decision to become a single mother by choice.

Something I have never lost faith in was the idea that someday I will meet someone very special to spend the rest of my life with. However, right now my biological clock has limited time left on the meter before my ability to have children expires. Therefore, I am choosing to become a mother first and meet my life-long partner second. I believe the person I will meet will love and accept all of my choices unconditionally, whoever they may be.

As for Lesbian vs Old Maid, neither label matters to me because I live my life outside of the "normal" box. I choose to live the best life I can, other peoples ideas or views of my choices are just that - their opinions. Staying true to what I want has been a bit tricky with choosing to become a single mother. However, the more I learn about my choice, the more secure and sure I am about my decision. Also, the more women I meet who have either made this choice or who are contemplating it make it feel more "normal" than it did originally. Life is beautiful if we just stop trying to fit into someone else's cookie cutter shape. I choose to use the cookie cutter shape I was born to be baked in...the shape of "ME".

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Known Donor

Over the past few years I have heard friends partners joke about giving me their sperm for "free" whenever I discussed my choice of becoming a mother using donor insemination. This was said in fun of course, but sometimes it felt like they didn't understand where I was in my life. I usually just laughed along with them to avoid my own reality. However, I have a very close friend who I have known most of my life who I felt very comfortable asking him if he'd donate his sperm for me to have a baby. He said he'd think about. Over the years he listened to me when I talked about wanting to become a mother. After I was referred to a clinic and started to go through the process, he came forward and said he would donate his sperm for me to have a baby.

When he first offered I was over the moon. He was really happy with his decision as well. Even our parents were thrilled with our alternative decision to bring a baby into all of our lives. As I shared my exciting news with friends they kept asking me what his role would look like? I didn't have the answers to their questions. I knew I would be primary care-giver and I knew he would be involved somehow because we're best friends and no matter who the baby's biological father was, he was already an uncle through our friendship.

I started to wonder what his role would be if he was the biological father too?
Then I started to think and plan his role for him. This went on for about week. As the questions buzzed in my head I continued to spin various stories about how we looked in the baby's future. I had gone from living and working in the city I was currently in to moving next door to him and looking for work in the city he was currently living. I started to send him emails, texts, leave him phone messages about every thought that entered into my mind on what co-parents would need to think about. I asked him everything from circumcision to Baptism to school choices (French vs. English). By the end of the next week he had decided that maybe his offer to help his dear friend become a mother may not have been the best choice. His words were quite lovely and loving. His want to be a sperm donor was to help fulfill my desire to become a mother, not his desire to be a father. His love for me as a friend was so great he was willing to give me a beautiful gift of life, until I spun my thoughts too far into our futures and freaked us both out. His words were surprisingly a relief for me at the time as well.

We left this topic alone for months and I began to seek more information on unknown donors. As I started my first cycle monitoring, on DAY 10 the ultra sound revealed that my egg was in my left fallopian tube and expected to release in a few days. Possibly the idea of me being "ready" to ovulate forced us to discuss sperm donor again, at this time he agreed to donate his sperm and followed through for that cycle.

I felt that I had a better understanding of what a "known donor's" role was by then, also some of the pros and cons of our choice. No matter how much planning anyone does in preparing to have a baby, you can't plan everything. The one thing I do know is how comforting it was to go through the process of insemination and know my baby's biological father. His role in my baby's life can't be defined by me, but his role as my best friend is always oscar winning. Even though I am leaving it up to him to create his role, to ease my own anxiety about it I continue to think of him as an uncle to my child who is also "donor dad".

I know I will create an age appropriate but truthful story about how my baby and I came to be a family. To help me explain this to my child in the future I decided to begin a journal of my journey to bring us together. I started it on DAY 1 of my first cycle monitoring, I want my baby to know how much s/he was wanted and desired. That s/he was well thought of long before s/he arrived to be in my life. I want to be able to share my positive thoughts about the whole process so s/he will be able to read my love as well as live it no matter how long it may take for us to be together.

As for our parents, they couldn't be happier for all of us. My friend's parents have been like parents to me for most of my life. They were always in my plans for my child's other grandparents, now maybe they'll also be biological grandparents too. This is definitely uncharted territory for all of us. We will continue to keep the line of communication open and if our view of family needs adjustment I'm confident we'll respectfully discuss it and implement changes as needed.

When thinking about using a "known donor" you have to search yourself for every question you have for you and your donor friend to ensure you're both entering into this agreement with your eyes wide open, even at the risk of freaking both of you out, your baby is worth all of it.

Researching yourself SILLY!

As I mentioned previously I think it's a great idea to gather, share and discuss as much information as you can collect on your choice. I think owning a book on the process of becoming pregnant right through to birth (and so on) is a very important resource, as well as your doctor, nurses and technicians at your clinic. However, I am finding that I have so much knowledge in this area now that I am feeling things that may not actually be present, such as I was told that my egg was going to be releasing from my left fallopian tube and immediately I felt it. Even though my common sense told me that it was gas or just in my head, my want for my egg to release on it's own was stronger than my reality.

So when it was insemination time, I was sure I felt pregnant within an hour. I started to read and reread and reread the section on "conception". I visualized the sperm catching my egg, my egg being fertilized and my egg attaching to the wall of my uterus. I read that you may have a metallic taste in your mouth, soon after I had a metallic taste in my mouth. I read that I may feel tired or have to use the washroom more, both of those symptoms surfaced. I started to dream about all of the things I was reading. As mentioned in an earlier post I also took a pregnancy test daily for the first 8 days after both days of insemination. I woke up on the 9th day and decided to stop driving myself crazy and just wait the recommended 14 days. I learned that everything in these paragraphs are a bit "SILLY" and if I find out that I will need to go through the insemination process again, I won't be as "SILLY". Excitement, nervousness, fear and impatience played a main part in my role as the "SILLY woman" who thought she felt pregnant the moment after conception.

I am not saying don't do what I did, but don't beat yourself up if you do. I think it may all be part of the process too, maybe the part people don't talk about. Being "SILLY" didn't hurt anyone, or cause any grief to my process, although it made me laugh now and then it also made me a bit stressful and momentarily sad. Again, I'm not sure if I would have felt these feelings if I wasn't going through he process and just not notice because I wouldn't be so focused.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Part of this whole process has been "waiting". The fact that I started thinking about becoming a mother more then three years ago surprisingly feels like yesterday. In order to get here I had to make a decision to leave a partner who didn't want the same things I wanted, seek medical advice and finally start preparing physically and mentally for this moment. Now that I am actually "in" the process of becoming a mother, all of a sudden the "wait" feels much longer. Waiting for my period to begin so I can start cycle monitoring, waiting for donor sperm to be delivered, waiting for insemination, waiting to see if I get my period and then starting the cycle monitoring all over again.

Cycle monitoring has replaced the method of taking your temperature to indicate when you're ovulating. On the first day of your period you call the "cycle monitoring" nurses desk, they will record this day as Day 1. On Day 3 you go to the clinic for blood work and an ultrasound. By monitoring your hormones levels through blood work and looking at your reproductive organs with ultrasounds, this process can pin point almost the exact time your egg will be released from your fallopian tube. On Day 10 you return for the same procedures. This continues everyday until your egg is about to release, then you're inseminated with a single unit of donor sperm and the day after your egg releases you're inseminated again with a single unit of donor sperm. You have the choice of course whether to use a single or both inseminations a cycle. It will cost twice as much to use two units however your chances of getting pregnant increases greatly.

Once inseminated then the "REAL" wait begins. Between the time of insemination and your expected period date (14 days after ovulation)can feel like a life time. It is recommended to wait the 14 days after your insemination before taking a pregnancy test. Immediately after my first insemination I went out and bought a pregnancy test. The latest brand, you pay a little more but it states that you can use it five days earlier. I put this test on my bathroom vanity as if it was part of a shrine to my journey, I couldn't wait to use it.

In my conception book it states that it takes seven days after conception before the egg is attached to the uterus and becomes an embryo, producing the hormone hCG that will appear in your urine which indicates whether you're pregnant or not. Perhaps if I hadn't have found IVF pregnancy tests at a dollar store the day after I bought the other pregnancy test, I may have waited the full two weeks. However, even though I cognitively knew that it was far too early to take a pregnancy test I couldn't stop myself. Every morning after my insemination I woke up with cheer in my heart praying as I took the test. Those few seconds after I dripped urine on the stick waiting for it to read "positive" was exciting, but when it read "negative", which it will until the embryo has started to produce enough hCG levels to indicate otherwise (or if you're not pregnant) it is disappointing. I strongly recommend saving your money and waiting the full two weeks.