Neurosis and butterflies in the city

Yesterday I took a break. A break from all things related to fertility. After spending the past week researching 1001 ways to get pregnant sans sex and signing up for too many fertility calendars, chat groups and donor registration sites to keep track of all the passwords, I was reminded by that small inner voice (well, that and M, my midwife friend) that the key factor to conception is being relaxed. Oh the irony.

In my former I-want-to-have-a-baby-yesterday self I am a pretty laid back person. I typically go with the flow, like to have fun and am up for whateves. Except. Except when I get neurotic and overstimulated by a surge of information about something I’m into and manically gather data in the wide not deep sort of way. Eventually I enter into an analysis paralysis; foiled over and again by the ole’ First World paradox of being immobilized by options.

So. Yesterday I resisted the single mom blogs, the donor sperm baby memoirs, the fertility Q&A’s, the home insemination PDF I downloaded and even my actual donor site, where I often go to peruse all the sweet little childhood faces and profiles of my top 22 favorite donors (how to decide??). I took a bath, splayed myself out on the couch with a cold glass of water, and read an awe-inspiring interview in The Sun magazine with John Elder, entitled The Wild Places Close to Home. Curled up in the womb of my couch on a rainy afternoon, I reveled in one of my other loves: nature.

(I’d like to believe this is exactly what the doctor would’ve ordered, if I had the insurance to actually have a doctor for non-catastrophic life events.)

Elder writes: When Thoreau speaks of “awakening,” he means being present to the moment. In Walden he writes, “only that day dawns to which we are awake.” Wildness is not about millions of roadless acres. Wildness is a quality of awareness that millions of roadless acres may help us to achieve. And if we do achieve it, we’ll be thrilled by those acres. But that awareness can also be cultivated in the middle of the city. In fact, you’d better look for it in your city, and your home, and your office.

This brings me hope. Sometimes my pregnancy plan feels akin to looking for daffodils in a Detroit automotive plant–unnatural and uncommon. And then I read an interview with a naturalist, who speaks of the migratory-bird routes that come down over Staten Island, and the monarch butterflies that migrate down Fifth Avenue in NYC just above the heads of pedestrians. The little wings of grace that pass us by unnoticed, when left to our premeditated trances of how things are.  I’m reminded to let go, look up, breathe slower and take heart.

Fertility (bearing no infertility issues) is really just timing and timing is really just awareness.  And awareness is more spiritual than anything.  It might be bad: I may be infertile.  I may get pregnant next month, it may take six months, I may never get pregnant.  I don’t know.

What I do know (for now, anyway) is that it’s all going to be okay.  That if we live in a world where caterpillars turn into butterflies and then take flight in the busiest city in America, the order of things is indeed wild and often precarious … and there is hope for me on this new path.  Hope and also transformation.

Artificial Insemination is NOT for the Birds

Let’s start with the acronyms:

TTC (trying to conceive)
O (ovulation or orgasm? I still don’t know)
IUI (inner uterine insemination) not to be confused with ICI (inner cervix insemination),
G (total number of pregnancies)
P (total number of delivered pregnancies)

I could keep going …

I’m learning a new language.  Really, I’m learning a new everything: a new way of thinking about parenthood, a new way of managing expectations and thinking about finances; a new way of getting pregnant (the least sexy part of this whole process!), a new way of relating to men, my friends and myself.  New reading. (If you could see the things I’m Googling these days, such as: ici home insemination and orgasm. I know, right?!?) Hopefully, a new life.

Two nights ago I spent almost an hour on the phone with my cousins friend in L.A. who used a frozen sperm donor eight years ago.  I’d had a long (but good) day of seeing clients and was walking around the lake with my dog, blathering on about all things sperm. (Still weird.)  I had a thousand questions and, lucky for me, she had a thousand answers.  She told me about “Mom’s by Choice” the on-line community of single parents, and sibling registries where you can see if your potential child has 20 half-siblings running around.  We talked about the lonely bits of raising a child by yourself, along with the endless supply of love you gain, and all the vulnerability you learn to withstand.

I left the conversation grateful but exhausted.

I keep coming back to an email my friend J wrote me earlier in this process:  Love, is the thing. Isn’t it? You want a child biologically but you want the love of a child, and a child to love. That’s the essence. That’s the thing to concentrate on. Everything else is dross.

Love is the thing.  I have to remember this when I get overwhelmed with exacting my knowledge of ovulation, calendar matching it with Fed Ex-ing frozen sperm, not KILLING the sperm in the defrosting process, or SPILLING it during insemination.  This strange, expensive process … it all comes down to love.  And really, don’t we all do crazy things in the name of love?

The ‘game-changer’ email

These days my world hangs in the balance of my cycle.  Not my bicycle (as it once did); but my fertility cycle. When people ask me how I am, what I say is: Well, I started my period on Saturday, which has me on a 26 day cycle.  So that’s exciting, yes??  I’m having a lovely full-blown period, complete with cramps and lots of bleeding, which means I’m fertile, right?? That’s not really what I say.  Usually.  But it’s what I want to say.  Because, by some strange twist of fate, it’s all I’m thinking about these days.  A twist of fate because a mere six weeks ago I had never used the words ‘fertility’ and ‘cycle’ in the same sentence.  And I was primarily thinking about my dating life, not my period.  That elusive right guy: the electromagnetic chemistry, romance, love, marriage and then a baby in the baby carriage.  Instead I got a lot of texting, a string of forgettable dates and a glut of emails from shirtless men on motorcycles who thought I was purdy.  Or hot, “for my age.”

Did I mention I am 40?

Here’s my story of deciding to have a baby on my own (in the form of an email I wrote to my besties):

Hey there,

So I’m thinking about having a baby on my own.  I’ve been crying about it all night.  Last night K brought it up.  It was not a particularly handpicked moment, just an easy back porch hang with friends.  I was on the deck with D, K and S enjoying a healthy throw-together dinner with kids in and out.  K said she had a question for me.  Would you ever have a baby on your own?  My cap answer for this is usually no. Babies need fathers, etc, etc. But she went on to say that she and D had recently watched “The Switch” on Netflix and that she realizes life doesn’t always offer up our dream life on a silver platter and that if I did want to do it on my own that they would be supportive.  I immediately started to cry.  I asked if it was selfish.  They all said no, it was natural and biological to want to have a child.  They reminded me that I’m financially responsible and stable, I love kids, I’d be a good mom, and this doesn’t mean that I’m destined to be single.  It just means I’m taking more control of my fertility and this very small window I still have left to have a child.  I broke down and talked about how I’ve felt this past decade, with no watershed moments of which to speak.  I started to think about how lackluster my spiritual life has become, how surreal everything seems, watching friend after friend get pregnant, get married, keep moving forward in life…

I came home last night and have been in and out of tears all night.  I look up sperm donors.  Then I break down, resisting the options in front of me. But something deeper than my lament is happening too … for the first time in forever I don’t feel totally powerless on this front.  I’ve been dating ad nauseam this past year and I’m tired.  And nothing is working in any dynamic sense.  I got off Match.com   a few weeks ago because I’m so weary of how trivial my personal life is starting to feel.  I feel like my professional life is rooted in matters of the heart; my personal life is an endless stream of fancy restaurants and cocktail interviews.  It’s exhausting.  And it’s not me.  It’s not the Northwestern girl that is rooted in nature and relationship; spiritual matters and real life living.  And maybe if I take more ownership of my dreams and desires, true love will find its way to me. It’s not working with me being a vigil ante, constantly on the lookout for love.  And it’s not realistic for me to ‘not care’ at this stage of the game, to let love find me because I’m ‘not looking for it.’  I am looking for it.  

The tears are letting a dream die I guess, as another one begins to rise up.  I don’t want to be alone in life.  And I would be a good mom.  Even more, I want to grow again; I want my roots to deepen and wisdom and grace to be guides again.  I want to take risks and live out of the faith that comes with risk.  Also, I think I could do it.  I could make a decent living working 20 hours a week while hiring a nanny part-time; I could be a single mom and raise my own child. I don’t have a trajectory of day cares and schlepping; 10 hr work days, financial stresses and constant time crunches.  I could do it in my way.  I could make baby food and teach a little one about compassion and God and how to play soccer and love animals.  I know I could.  And my community is supportive.  And filled with good men.  Men that would help me, that are already fathers and know how it works.

As soon as I begin to think about all this in any hopeful sort of way the tears start to flow. It feels so scary and lonely to think about doing it on my own.  And it’s not what I want.  But I don’t want what I have either.

Anyway, I feel like last night might be a game-changer.  I’m in the rabbit hole.  I’ve been looking at sperm donors for the past hour.  It’s extremely weird.  It’s crazy how simple and relatively inexpensive it is to get sperm.  Who knows if I can even get pregnant?  So much to think about …

But this is what I am thinking about.  Wanted to let you know.  xx

And this is how my life changed in three days. I had dinner with friends, then cried all night, wrote an email, cried a few more days, talked lengthily to my inner circle, got the blessing from my parents and then – within 72 hours – got off the dating sites and started to stalk the sperm donor sites, instead.

Cut to yesterday: I woke up and read my new bible, Taking Charge of Your Fertility for a while, after taking my basil body temperature of course. Then I noticed, since my period started on Saturday, that I’m on a 26 day cycle. According to my iPhone app this means I’m going to try to ‘conceive’ on July 9th! But I’ll save that story for another blog entry.

It’s not sexy. But it’s still a love story, in a Modern Family sort-of way.