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Category Archives: lesbians

Trump Supporter’s accountability

Finger_pointingLets surmise Trump has a  condition known as diarrhea of the mouth…poor fellow. As a result of his condition sadly, he can’t see the difference between speaking your mind and hurting people.  if because of his horrible condition, how is it his supporters over look, make excuses for and totally ignore the negative comments he’s made? He has spoken negatively about blacks, women, Jews, muslims, gays and the handicapped.  Surly most (Trump) supporters has at LEAST one of those “kinds of people” in their family or a friend who they care about and love. Don’t you? Do you speak negatively to your own family and friends? Come on, you mean you don’t call each other fat, stupid, dumb and the men you know don’t make references about the size of their penis’ at the dinner table? Well, slap my ass and call me Sally, I hope the hell you don’t.  SO, then why is it OK for Trump to do it? How are using those words and insults part of “speaking one’s mind” and acceptable? If it is something you’d never say to your friends or family members because it’s hurtful then it is NEVER OK for anyone to say it to members of our country and world.

AND SO, TO YOU Trump supporters I point my finger at you…I point to you and ask where is your accountability in allowing him to speak to your friends and family as he has done and continues to do?

You know, my father used to speak his mind too. He sure did. He used to call me names when I didn’t agree with him. He said I was a loser. I was stupid. I was dumb AND I would never amount to anything. And those were just the tip of the iceberg (and not the Jewish kind either). It was common for him to call me a bitch and other derogatory names against women. Today, we would call that verbal abuse. We also know that speaking like that is counter productive and does nothing but alienate the very people who are being insulted. SO, I ask you again. Why is it OK for Trump to say those things?

This is not about Hilary Clinton. This isn’t about any other aspect of the 2016 election. I am writing this piece to address the verbally abusive statements Donald Trump has made. This is about a man named Donald Trump who has stood up before our nation and made fun of handicapped people, said ALL blacks are lazy and referenced other women in regards to their beauty (or there lack off). How do you as a supporter justify the negative and mean things he has said?  Would you tolerate your spouse, son or friend from saying it to you?  Gosh, I hope not. How do you justify the amount of hate that he has provoked in others during his campaign rallies? There are record numbers of hate groups like the KKK who are not only showing their support of Trump BUT they have also been acknowledged in a positive manner by Trump. This is NOT OK! During a campaign rally any criticism voiced from a member of a crowd (to Trump), he immediately attacks them by name calling.  Wasn’t that a kind of behavior we did in grade school? PEOPLE, where’s the logic here? Now, name calling is part of speaking one’s mind? Are you kidding me?  Why are you not appalled? You would be if it were your son or daughter speaking that way but the potential president of the United States is allowed?

Here’s the thing. We are the UNITED States of America. We are made up of many not just one. Our country is about justice for the many and not simply for the few. I believe in voting for a person who will stand up for each and every one of us AND NOT one who will put them down. If a man like Trump is willing to speak negatively against one group, how can you be so certain yours won’t be next? The manner in which Trump has behaved and the way his supporters have followed him saddens me beyond words. How can loving people overlook the hate he has publicly voiced? And how is it his supporters have not demanded he stop?  How do YOU allow him to speak to one of your family members, a friend, a co-worker and a neighbor as he has done? AND lastly, are you not giving him permission to speak as he does when you sit by idly and say nothing?

I have not heard one supporter of Trump I know denounce his hateful statements. All I’ve heard Trump supporters say is they like him because he’s speaking his mind, he’s honest AND Clinton is a crook. Let me tell you something people. My father also spoke his mind and it was damaging. It doesn’t matter if the hateful talk is coming from a parent or from a man running for presidency. The bottom line is it’s wrong. I’m SICK AND TIRED of the bigot and the abuser being protected. Don’t attempt to bull shit me and try to disguise his name calling as “simply speaking one’s mind”. OH HELL NO! IF Hilary Clinton were to say the hateful things as Trump has said, I (as a lifelong Democrat) would have no choice but to vote for the other candidate. I respect myself AND my fellow human being far more than to support someone willing to use any of my friends in that way.

I have to be honest here and say I am disappointed in my family and friends who support Trump.  I am disappointed in my Trump supporting friends for not demanding, screaming from the roof tops and being appalled at Trump. It makes me wonder. Do my friends and family members who support him really believe the abusive remarks he’s made? Do you not see it as abuse or hate (and if not I’m dumbfounded)?  Do you really not recognize what hate sounds like? How about replacing the person he’s speaking about and putting you in there? I guarantee if you do, you will better hear what I hear.

BUT, if you aren’t certain let me point these things out from statements he’s made: making fun of a handicapped person through hand gestures, saying ALL blacks are lazy, saying Mexico is sending us ALL of their criminals, referring to a woman as unattractive, ugly and a bitch and calling people fat and dumb. When you make a statement that says ALL in a group are this or that, that is called a bigoted remark. That’s like saying ALL white people have black hair.  It’s just simply not true.

Do you still say you applaud him for “speaking his mind?” Really?  After all, why do we need diplomacy from a president? Gosh, that’s not important, right? After all just think what Donald Trump could say when speaking to  Bashar Al-Assar? Gosh, I hope he tells him to go to hell and that he’s a stupid ass bastard. How about Trump speaking to other hate filled, wanting to bomb the hell out of others, world leaders? No need to worry about diplomacy or worrying about speaking his mind. After all those leaders won’t mind…oh, wait a minute… those are leaders who have had their own citizens murdered for far lessor “offenses”. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Trump has a condition known as diarrhea of the mouth…he has no filter no matter who he’s speaking to.  Let’s just insight the volatile. And then there are those of us who fit into those categories he has said bigoted things about, how about us? Just ignore it? Really?

It saddens me tremendously more than anything to have family and friends make excuses for his behavior instead of demanding better. How am I supposed to react? How do you think it makes me feel? You say you value me but you vote for a man who doesn’t. You say you accept my marriage but you vote for a man who doesn’t (and wants to take it away from me). You say you understand the need for Carol to adopt Judah but then you vote for a man who wants to keep us from doing so. And you tell me how unfair it is to be fired from a job simply because I’m gay and yet, yes, you vote for a man who believes it’s OK.

If my friends and family members do love us and support us for who we are then where the HELL is your outrage? Why in the HELL are you not screaming from the roof tops telling that man to stop? Does it not matter that much or is that important to you? Is it  because it really doesn’t effect you? Holy hell I hope more than anything it’s not because you actually agree with him in regards to his hateful comments.  You do know by remaining silent it only gives him the permission to continue AND by voting for him  makes YOU an accomplice? Again, you ask if this is this personal? Really? Hell yes! This is MY family! When friends and family members vote for a man who wants to hurt MY FAMILY it makes me sad and angry. I point my finger to you for your participation.

It blows my mind to have friends and family members who would never speak hatefully in their own homes, yet are voting for a man who has made name calling and making fun of people the norm in his campaign.  To have friends and family members who have seemed to have embraced me as a lesbian and a Jew BUT are voting for a man who has made blanket derogatory remarks against me.  I just don’t understand.

Listen, when I hear any person speaking negatively about another, I am standing up and speaking out. Sadly, I am often the only one and I don’t understand why.  It’s my duty, though, to treat my fellow humans with integrity AND stand with them in the time of need.  I’m especially outraged when the injustice is directed to a friend or family member because then it is personal.

Let me say this again. This is NOT ABOUT CLINTON! This isn’t about being a Republican or a Democrat. THIS IS ABOUT STANDING UP FOR YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, CO-WORKER and NEIGHBOR. THIS IS ABOUT SPEAKING OUT  against a man who in very plain English has said inexcusable things about the very people YOU claim you care about in your own lives.

AND SO here I wait and watch making YOU accountable…

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge- foreshadowing

Me and Momma

Me and my son

 

My Baby Story (Chapter 30:Love and acceptance)

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Just a year before my mother died, she game me some advice that I couldn’t understand. Of course today it makes perfect sense. At the time though I was 14 years old and very clueless by what she was telling me. Here was the thing…she knew her days were numbered and she wanted to tell me something she felt was important. My mom told me I was a person who had always and would always beat by a different drum. She said that I’d take a different path in life than most others and she wanted me to know it was OK. I remember thinking, “OK, what the hell is she talking about?” Honestly, she made me mad because she wasn’t being specific. “Dammit, stop talking so generally and just tell me what you mean!” G-d I was an awful 14 year old. But realistically even if she had told me what she meant I have no doubt I wouldn’t have understood and maybe have even been offended. I have no doubt she understood my ignorance but told me anyway with the hopes I’d remember (just when I needed to).

On that day she was talking to me my mom was barely able to walk let alone stand. Even so she made a point to walk to the kitchen where I was. While she was standing in front of me the grimace on her face said it all. She was in excruciating pain. However, my mom had a message to give and dammit she was going to give it. That was Momma. She continued to tell me that no matter how untraditional of a life I was to choose I was to always be proud of it and follow my heart. I remember thinking, “OK, and so what?” Listen, my mom banked heavily that I’d never forget what she told me and for some reason I didn’t. I suppose I knew it was important to her. Maybe it was because I knew she was dying? Maybe. Meanwhile, even as a snot nosed 14 year old, I stored what she said somewhere in that brain of mine. All I can say is I hope I have made her proud by doing exactly as she encouraged me to do.

Listen, all I could hear was my mom’s advice as I was going through each stage of my life. Her words allowed me to stand up to adversity, to maintain the confidence (that I had value in this world) and to have the ability to wipe myself off to continue moving forward. Her words empowered me to love another woman even though it wasn’t popular and may make others dislike me. My mom didn’t need a crystal ball to know I would have some up hill climbs in my life as a result of who I was. As much as I wished she could have been with me physically, I have no doubt she will always be holding my hand in a more spiritual way (as she had done to help me through so much in my life). More than anything though, I am most grateful for one thing and one thing only. That was that my mom gave me the strength, passion and drive to make my dream of having a child a reality. I am certain she was the one giving me all of those little kicks in the ass to keep me going so the brightest light of my life could emerge; our son, Judah.

Moving on to the real world after Judah was born I was amazed by the amount of support Carol and I had. I’m sure at first many friends and family were concerned for Judah. After all he was being raised by two moms and because of that they had the preconceived idea that he would be void of any male influence. Folks, how would that have been possible? And why would we have done that to him? Just because we are two women doesn’t mean we don’t like men. We just chose not to marry one. That was all. Meanwhile, Judah had (has) a wonderful array of uncles, male cousins and a grandfather all of which were (are) involved in his life. And then on top of that there are our adopted families who have loved Judah just as much as their own family members. It really does take a village to raise a child…any child no matter who their parents are. We are incredibly grateful (more than words could ever ever express) for the love Judah has gotten from my family, Carol’s family and from friends who in many cases helped raise me. Judah has been one very lucky boy.

OK, so now I would be remised if I did not mention Carol’s family. Listen as proud as I am of the unconditional love and support I have received from my sister, her husband and their two children, they are my family. I know them and I am used to their ways. They are mine. And the truth was Judah was directly related to them. However in mine and Carol’s relationship not being married in the eyes of the law it was uncertain to us how Carol’s family would react to Judah. Now before I can even get to Judah, I must explain the differences between mine and Carol’s family and their reaction when they first met me.

To say our two families were total opposites would have been an understatement. For one Carol’s family are Christian…from the Episcopal side. However, even though they are not church goers they do have a strong Christian belief system as their foundation. Christmas is a time for family to gather. They have traditions which are sensible and understandable. They were Southerners who took turns talking in a conversation. They hardly ever got loud. They were polite and always said “Sir” or “Ma’am”. Their food dishes of choice were black eyed peas and rice, green bean casserole and “Mama’s” macaroni and cheese. Carol and I refer to her family as “white bread” which means they are plain (in a very good way) without any added unnecessary frills. What you see is who they are. If they ask you, “How are you?” That’s exactly what they mean. No more, no less.

Then there is my family. We are Jewish in religion and culture. And as if I need to say more, I will for those of you who don’t know what that entails. We too celebrate our holidays and have our own traditions. However, our holidays usually come with tons of drama. For instance most of our holidays are about how others tried to kill us but through our perseverance we made it…we survived against all odds…we were the army of 10 in a world with armies of thousands who wanted us dead…get my point? In my family if you wanted to participate in a conversation you had to roll up your sleeves and get in there. The louder we spoke the more we were heard. And the thought of allowing someone to finish their thought was absurd. Why? Just get in there and say what you gotta say. Now, even though my mother was VERY Southern (being raised in Birmingham, AL during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s), because my father was from Brooklyn (and I spent more time with him after losing my mom), I took on more of the NY ways. “Sir” and “Ma’am” were foreign to me. Funny, though, my sister says them. I suppose her being 7 years older and having more one on one time with my mom, she picked up a little more on the Southern ways. At any rate in regards to food our Sundays usually included pastrami and tongue sandwiches on rye or pumpernickel bread. Our dad’s breakfast usually consisted of sardines and bagels topped with a ton of cream cheese.And so we refer to my family as “pumpernickel”. We are spicy and all about frills (necessary or not) and we have a tendency to cause gas if you aren’t used to us.

OK, so basically when I first met Carol’s family, I saw them like soft cotton sheets just fresh out of the dryer and I have no doubt they saw me like burlap that had never been washed. Get my drift here? AND SO I know it wasn’t very easy for them to open their hearts and to accept me. I was the epitome of everything they weren’t and somehow their family member, Carol, had fallen in love with me. OY VEY was right. OK, so they weren’t saying, “OY VEY!” Maybe “HOLY SHIT” was more like it.

I’m not sure where it all turned around for Carol’s family to finally feel comfortable with me but (in time), they took me in as if I was one of theirs….well, one of their “adopted” ones. Maybe because they could see I loved Carol? Maybe. Or was it because I wasn’t going away and they had no choice? More than likely. But whatever the reason they welcomed me. Even so, I was terrified as to how they would accept Judah once he was born. I felt Carol’s parents would be Judah’s grandparents and Carol’s siblings would be Judah’s aunt and uncles. However, Judah was not genetically apart of their family. Hell, Carol and I couldn’t even be married in the eyes of the law. That meant there wasn’t even a way to justify to Carol’s family that Judah was her stepson. Her family being very traditional I was fearful they wouldn’t see Judah as one of theirs. And of course that scared me because I never wanted our son to feel like an outsider in a family he was to grow to love.

I have to tell y’all, my worry was for nothing because once Judah was born and once they got to know our sweet little boy, they couldn’t help but to fall in love with him. We were very lucky because Judah’s kind and easy going spirit was heartwarming which made it easy for others to open their hearts to him. Carol asked her mom if it would be OK for Judah to call her Gram and her dad, Papa (like the other grandchildren). I don’t know if Carol’s mom told her Judah could because she was more worried about upsetting Carol or because she really did see Judah as a grandson but honestly, it didn’t matter. What was more important was that our son was given a huge gift…he was given the love of another family which was so incredibly special to me. After all by the time Judah was four he would share that family’s last name, so genetically or not, he was one of them.

I will never forget when Judah was 3 and we were at a family gathering at Carol’s brother’s home. Carol’s sister, Rachael, was introducing us to someone and she said, “This is my sister, my sister in law and my nephew.” Said was able to introduce us casually and comfortably as if it was no big deal. Another time Carol’s father introduced me to someone as his daughter in law. And on my side of the family my sister and her husband introduced Carol as their sister in law.

Listen, Folks, Carol and I understand we are not going to be accepted by everyone. We didn’t expect to be even when we had been the brunt of that rejection (many times during our lives together). However, it was important that we be accepted by our families. It was important for Judah to have that support. Hell, it was important for us to have that support too. I am incredibly touched and moved to have so many generations of family members who love us for who we are. Lets face it folks, if two families like mine and Carols can do it then anyone’s can. Both of our families as a result have allowed us to give the most incredible and precious gift to Judah. He will be raised knowing he has an extended family who accepts and loves him as the individual he is. In a world where he will be judged time and time again, he will have the comfort of knowing his family will never past judgement simply because of the parents he has. As a result they are helping us empower him in the road of life he chooses to take. And so far, he’s taking a very good one!

 

My Baby Story (Chapter 29-never mess with Bashert)

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After two months of doing the injectables I was to head to the infertility clinic to have one last vaginal sonogram to see how many eggs I had produced. Now, usually when I ovulated I’d get some soreness on my left side. Ironically, that was the side where I usually produced two eggs. And so, as we were headed to the clinic I told Carol that I was definitely feeling more soreness than usual. That made me think I had for sure produced more eggs. BUT, we couldn’t know until we had the sonogram.

When we arrived that day the waiting room was once again filled. I always looked around at everyone’s faces. I could tell who was just starting the process and who had gone through many rounds. It was always evident on the faces. After waiting 30 minutes we were called to the back and into the examining room. The nurse told me to go to the restroom to empty my bladder and then to undress from the waste down, put on the gown and lie on the table. Well at that point I didn’t have to pee, so I undressed, grabbed a gown and hopped on the table. It was another 20 minutes before the doctor came. She seemed very focused that day and not on us. It was clear she was bothered by something. Hey, folks, can be in a good mood all of the time. She didn’t say much to us and started the vaginal sonogram. We were all silent as she started looking at the monitor while moving around the “wand” inside of me. As she was looking she said,”You’re bladder is full. The reason you needed to empty it is so that we can better see things.” I really felt chastised by her. I figured it wouldn’t have been worth trying to explain that I didn’t have to go initially but after waiting for so long (and by the time she had gotten there), I did have to go. I asked her if she wanted me to go. Listen, I didn’t want to hinder her being able to see in any way, shape or form. She told me it was OK and that she needed to go ahead looking.

After what seemed like forever she finally told us what she saw. She must have realized how curt she had been previously because she was back to her usual self at this point. She told us she was disappointed to only see 4 viable follicles. She told us there were about 9 but only 4 were good. She was surprised because normally women produce a lot more while on the injectables. When she was done, she asked me to sit up and she took a seat in front of me. Aware of our money situation she knew we had no other options for the injectables. She began talking to us about IVF which is where they remove the egg/eggs, fertilize it in a petri dish and then implant it into the uterus. As she was explaining it to us I knew we were done. That was a procedure that was easily $10,000 a pop. It was not something we could do. Carol told the doctor there was no way we could do that procedure. The doctor told us she understood but also added,”Please know we never expect a patient to pay it all at once. We understand how expensive it is. We want you to know our office does offer a payment plan.” I don’t know why but every time this doctor would tell us something else about how her facility helped her patient’s, we were shocked. We couldn’t believe it. BUT, even with a payment plan that still was worrisome to us to do. It was very expensive and something we’d still have to pay whether broken down into payments or not. We already felt as if we were throwing our money out the window each time it didn’t work. But, it was on a much smaller scale compared to the IVF procedure.

Meanwhile, even though we knew we weren’t going to do IVF we were curious about the procedure. Carol asked her, “And does that mean having multiple babies?” The doctor explained that the way she did the procedure (implanting so many eggs) she statistically had a high number of women who had triplets. Well, that was all we needed to hear. There was NO WAY we could have afforded that. AND I don’t mean the procedure we were thinking about just the raising of 3 children plus Judah. One more, yes, but not two or three. And there was a huge possibility of even more. I will never forget that day. Carol and I looked at each other and told the doctor that IVF was not an option for us. We asked her if we could go ahead and do our last insemination? She knew we were disappointed with the number of eggs the injectable had me produce. However, she was positive. She told us that at least I had doubled my chances.

We made an appointment to come in the next morning for our final insemination. While returning home that day we realized Judah didn’t have school the next day (when we were to have the insemination), so we’d have to find someone to babysit him. That evening after many phone calls and no one to watch Judah, we concluded we’d just take him with us to the insemination. We had a portable movie player which we figured he could watch during the procedure. It wasn’t ideal but it was what it was.

The next morning we packed some toys and the portable movie player for Judah and went headed to the infertility clinic for our last try. Once there we explained to the woman at the front desk that we had to bring our son. She seemed used to it and said it wasn’t a problem. After waiting for about 45 minutes we were all called back to one of the examination rooms. The nurse told us where we could set Judah up and while Carol got him comfortable, I undressed, put on my gown, lied down on the table and waited. Judah who was usually curious about what I was doing never asked. He was busy watching his movie. Carol explained to him that once the doctor came he’d have to be very quiet and let Mom and Momma do what they needed to do with the doctor. Listen, Judah was always a good kid. He was never disruptive at all. We knew he’d do just fine with us.

When the doctor came into the room she greeted Judah and asked him what he was watching. Judah told her but he clearly was in grossed and not interested in anything else happening in the room. Even so the doctor told me she’d keep me well covered so Judah wouldn’t see. Meanwhile, I never cared. We were always open with Judah and in fact he had even come with me to an OP/GYN appointment. And during that appointment stood by the doctor asking her what she was doing. Was I uncomfortable? No, not at all. Not sure why but I wasn’t.

Anyway, I was nervous when the doctor started the procedure. This was it. One last and final try. Would it be bashert or was only Judah in my cards? The answer would come soon enough. After the doctor was done, she once again did her good luck ritual of rubbing my legs and wishing us the best for “it” to take. Now I must admit it was awkward when the doctor turned off the light before leaving the room. Judah liked it because he could see his movie a lot better. But after the doctor turned on the timer Judah started asking questions. What’s that noise? Why did the doctor turn on a timer? And so we just told him it was to tell us how long I had to lie down. Judah was satisfied with our answer and went back to his movie.

Once the timer went off and I got dressed, the nurse told us to please contact them to let them know where we were in two weeks. She too wishes us well and we were headed out. I have to tell you that I felt an overwhelming sadness that day. It was beautiful outside- great weather. But, I felt sad. On our way home Carol said, “Let’s explore.” And so she took one of the exits off the highway. While driving we noticed a sign that there was going to be a parade in one of the little towns. Carol asked if I was up to it but before I could answer Judah was clearly excited to go. There was no way I could say no. Plus, it was a good way to get our mind off of things. When we pulled into the town we could see people starting to position themselves on the parade route. Carol didn’t want me moving around too much. She would laugh that she didn’t want any of the sperm falling out. We found a great parking spot right next to where we could sit to watch the parade. Carol remembered that we had folding chairs in the trunk so she took them out for us to sit. Judah was thrilled. It was awesome watching him and how excited he was. I so appreciated Carol doing that for us that day. Going straight home would have been so depressing. We needed that time together as a family.

Of course waiting for the two weeks to end was incredibly hard. I had never felt the pressure as I did this last time. I also was much more emotional about it. I suppose, folks, I knew the answer but I never wanted to admit it. Sadly, just before the two weeks was up (for me to take the pregnancy test) my period started. While sitting on the toilet that day, I cried and cried and cried. It was one of the saddest days of my life. It was not meant to be. Me having another child was no going to happen and that realization had hit me very hard. I have to tell y’all. I had thought for a brief moment that I would convince Carol to do one round of IVF but I knew in my heart that wasn’t fair to Judah. I needed to stop shoving that square peg into that round hole. I knew trying to get pregnant just didn’t involve me. I had to not only consider Judah but I had to think about the person I loved the most, Carol. More than anything, it wasn’t fair to her.

Not having another child was incredibly emotionally painful. Each time a friend would announce they were pregnant, I’d have to take a deep breath (and put on my fake smile) before I could congratulate them. Jealous? HELL YES! And during my OB/GYN visits I would avoid looking or sitting next to anyone who was pregnant. It broke my heart. I suppose I was able to get through some of the pain by thinking that some how, some day it would happen. It was weird. I wasn’t sure how that was going to happen but it helped for me to leave it open. I suppose I could continue to dream, yes? Along with dreaming I also knew things happened for a reason. I wanted to know why me not having another child was to be bashert. Why wasn’t it meant to be? I knew for that answer to come I needed to give it time. Oh how that “patience” kept creeping into my life and oh, how I hated it. Not a great virtue I had but one I kept having to learn.

Right after my last insemination I had to keep busy to keep my mind off of the baby thing. And so I decided to finally start on my mom’s family tree (as I had already done my dad’s). Because my mom had died when I was 15 years old there wasn’t a lot that I knew. And so, I started with my sister who was seven years older. I also spoke to other people who knew my mom with hopes they could give me information. It didn’t take long before I was able to find (and speak to) several of my mom’s cousins. Many of them were already in their 70’s and a couple well in their 80’s. And so I had a series of questions written down to ask as I spoke to each of them. You know: who were my mom’s grandparents? Who were their kids? When were they born? When did they die? What did they die of? My questions were your typical questions. And even though I may have had the birth/ death dates of a relative I always asked the others just to confirm they were correct. It was amazing how my mom’s family were so consistent. I learned that if I got a date from one of them, it was correct. If they didn’t know, they’d tell me without even attempting.

OK, so I’m sure you’re wondering how any of this has to do with why I wasn’t meant to get pregnant. Well, I’m getting there, so hold on a minute.

One afternoon Carol was asking me about how my research was going on my mom’s family tree. I told her I had spoken to at least 5 cousins of my mom’s and had gotten tons of information. She was interested so I started to tell her the information I had gotten. Only as I was telling her about my mom’s aunts did the dawning hit. See, through this research I had discovered that my mom’s 4 aunts (and possibly 5) had all died of breast cancer. They were all between the ages of 38-40 when they were diagnosed with the disease. Carol pointed this out to me and then asked me when it was my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I told her that my mom was 42 but she had had problems two year’s prior which suggested she actually had it earlier (but she refused to go to the doctor). And then Carol asked me how old my sister was when she had her breast cancer. My sister was 37. At that point without Carol saying another word, I knew I needed to go see a doctor. Even though I had been getting mammograms every 6 months I knew that alone was not going to protect me.

On Tuesday, January 15th (ironically the anniversary of my mom’s death 22 years prior), 2008 I (and Carol) met with a breast health specialist. After a lot of talking and research, folks, I decided my best option was to have a double mastectomy. On May 5th, 2008 I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. Five years later on March 4, 2013 after finding two possible tumors I would have to have a hysterectomy which put a final end to my dream of having another child. One day I plan to write about these surgeries but not now. I’m just not ready.

I have to tell you. Here was how I saw my entire having a second baby journey. If I had gotten pregnant there was no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t have researched my mom’s family tree for at least another few years (if at all). The baby and Judah would have taken up my time. The thought that I would have been oblivious to my risks (with getting breast cancer and possibly gotten it) was scary. Thinking about the ages of those women in my family, I had a high risk of getting it at anytime since I was already 38. The pain of miscarrying and not being able to get pregnant again and again brought me to a place emotionally where I wanted my mom. I suppose doing her family tree to me was how I could fill that void. And so, I felt not being able to get pregnant was the catalyst I needed to propel me into getting started. AND I felt strongly that my mom was at the helm of it all.

I have always had a strong belief in “Bashert”. Some feel bashert comes from G-d. I don’t at all. TO me it is more like how things are supposed to go and no matter what we do, we can’t change it. You know when you line up dominoes one perfectly behind the other and then you push the first one over? What happens? One falls onto the one behind it forcing it to fall which was course is known as the dominoes effect. Well, each domino can only fall in one direction. I could hope for it to fall in a different direction but the domino in front could only make it happen. And so that is how I see life in many ways. I wanted my life to go in a different direction but that was not how the “dominoes” were meant to fall. Was I happy about it? HELL NO? But I couldn’t force my life in a different direction no matter how hard I tried and I certainly did try hard. ALSO, sometimes we need a little coercing from our loved ones especially those who are no longer with us. They sometimes seem to have the power to give us the little pushes that no one else can give us. And for that I am so incredibly thankful.

Listen, if I had had another child and had not been interested in doing my mom’s family tree, would I have gotten breast cancer? Could it have been caught early? Who the hell knows? BUT because of my belief in Bashert, I do believe I was in some kind of danger. I will never know exactly (the danger) but that doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter because I know in my heart the truth. I strongly believe because of my sister’s bravery and my mom’s guiding love I was given a second chance at life. It was by NO MEANS IN HELL what I wanted but there was NO WAY IN HELL I was ever going to fight against what was meant to be.

With the hopes of having another baby behind me it was time and important that I focused on my family. I had a child that I was incredibly thankful for having. He had and has filled me with great, great joy. It will be that joy that I will share with you in my next and final chapter.

 

My Baby Story (Chapter 28- one last try)

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A week later Carol and I were once again driving to the infertility clinic in Columbia, SC. This time though Carol was clearly concerned. As I have said in the past. She hid any of her fears or worries from me. However not on this day. The thing was she knew from what the doctor had said at our last visit (that if we didn’t get pregnant on the Clomid) then we’d take the next step (which were to do the injectables). Well, Carol had already checked with our insurance company and found out the injectables were not covered like the Clomid was. Here was the thing. Our insurance coverage had changed. If this had been when we were getting pregnant with Judah, it would have been covered. So on top of all of the usual infertility worries we were also frustrated that if we had possibly tried this earlier we would have had better coverage (or simply gotten pregnant without all of the problems we were having). But, easy to say..what do they say, “Hind sight is always 20/20?

OK, so Carol knew there was no way we could afford taking the injectable route. It bothered her too. She knew I wanted another baby more than anything, however we had agreed (before even starting with having another kid) we were not going to allow ourselves to get in debt over it. BUT, that didn’t matter to me anymore. When I had agreed to that I had hopes I’d get pregnant on the first try like we did with Judah. I never imagined we’d be in that predicament of trying multiple times. And so when Carol told me we couldn’t afford it, it upset me in the most frustrating way. Dammit! I wanted this. It wasn’t unfair! And plus, still reeling with the Clomid in my system that wasn’t helpful either in regards to my emotional state. I wanted to get pregnant and all I wanted was for it to happen. I suppose I got sucked in and at that point I was willing to do what ever necessary to get pregnant. Listen, it wasn’t Carol’s fault. I agreed with her. BUT, there was just that other maternal side of me that just wasn’t ready to hear the truth and to give up.

When we arrived at the infertility clinic it was close to lunch time, so the waiting room only had two other couples. One was a lesbian couple and the other was a bi-racial couple who had the most adorable child with them. I laughed and whispered to Carol, “Hey, if they have triplets, you think they’d mind at least giving one to us?” Carol knows I have always wanted to adopt a minority baby. Oh who am I kidding? I’ve always wanted a black baby. Even when I was a kid! In fact I used to have this baby doll that had been chewed by the dog (no more arms), I had cut her hair and drawn on her face with permanent marker. My parents were so embarrassed for me to take it anywhere so they took me to buy another doll. It was 1974 and I’ll never forget that trip to the store. My momma took me. Now at that time all dolls were typically white. And even at that age I noticed. Meanwhile, I never really liked any of them. I thought they all looked the same and none of them seemed pretty to me. Well, during this trip to the store I remember walking down the doll isle. My mom was certain I’d never be able to choose as there were SO many choices. However as I walked down that isle I saw no choices. Well, I didn’t want any of them until I walked by this one lonely doll. I was drawn to her. Her name was Zuri and she had the most beautiful black skin. Without even looking at my mom I rant to the doll and yelled, “Momma, I want her!” Now, let me tell you just a little bit about my momma. She was raised in Birmingham, AL in the 40’s and 50’s. She grew up in a wealthy Jewish family where black (or as my Momma referred to them as “Colored”) nannies raised you. And now her little red headed white child has chosen a clearly “colored” baby doll. WOW! I can’t imagine what went through her head. However, I want y’all to know my mom NEVER said one word to me. Instead she said, “If that is the doll you want, then we’ll buy it.” Now folks, my mom did try to show me other dolls. I won’t lie. But, I was a very persistent kid and aside from that Momma could see there was NO changing my mind. I do laugh because my parents where not the most open minded to those of a different color. I LOVE the fact that they wanted a new doll for me and that was what I chose. Awesome, yes? And if you don’t believe me, my sister can attest to it. I loved my Zuri doll! Here has been the best part too. When Judah was around 3 he wanted a doll. And so Carol and I took him to the store to pick one out. I couldn’t believe how many choices there were. I also hated the fact how the isle was sexist towards girls. Come on folks. My son will probably be a dad one day and he has to know how to be one. What not a better way than for him to have a doll and learn? Anyway, Judah went up and down the isle unable to decide. It was clear none of them tickled his fancy. Well, none of them until one seemed to have jumped out at him. Judah pointed and said, “I want the brown one.” Carol knowing about my Zuri doll smiled at me as I did to her. It was neat that our son had followed in my footsteps. And so we got that doll for Judah without any hesitation or reservations. We asked Judah what he wanted to call his new baby (as it was unclear to us if it was a he or she). Judah told us it was a boy and he was calling him “Toby”. Now, I thought that was neat because Carol loved that name and considered it as one of our choices if we had another baby. Pretty damn cool our kid was.

Anyway, back to my story. After the remaining people in the waiting room were called back, it was finally our turn. I was nervous and still upset about not getting pregnant from our first insemination. When the nurse called us back and placed us in an examining room, she clearly was sensitive to our plight. The kindness in her eyes said it all. About 10 minutes later the doctor came into the room. She sat down in front of us and told us she was so sorry that our first insemination didn’t work. However, she was positive. She told us she had a good plan for our next try and we needed to stay positive. Folks, those little moments were so incredibly special and appreciated. I just can’t stress that enough especially for those of you who may have not gone through any infertility. Now, I won’t lie that during those moments I couldn’t hear what the doctor was saying. I just wanted her to make me pregnant so all of the extra stuff what hard to hear. But, now looking back I could see where those kind touches actually did help tremendously.

As the doctor was talking to us she told us her new plan. Well, just as Carol surmised, the doctor suggested that we do the injectables for two cycles (to allow enough time to really produce more eggs). Then, we’d do our last insemination. As the doctor was explaining this to us Carol was shaking her head; no. The doctor stopped to ask her what was wrong. Carol explained to her that we were in a difficult position that wasn’t her problem. Carol explained she understood the doctor was creating the best plan for us which we appreciated but there was the reality involved of having to pay for it.

The doctor listened to Carol and then said,” We are here to help the two of you to get pregnant. And any problems or concerns you have we need to discuss them. We are a team.” OMG folks! Did we just hear her correctly? First, did she say she was there to help US get pregnant? Listen, I know I was on infertility medicine which made me more emotional but damn, all I wanted to do was to cry and give that doctor a BIG FAT hug. And then the next thing was we were astounded to hear her say how she was there to help us. Amazing! Sadly, we weren’t used to that kind of treatment. This doctor and her staff were clearly understanding and sensitive to the stress emotionally AND financially. AND they were there to make both as easy as possible. The reality was the cost but they were going to do whatever possible to help. To me that placed this doctor and her facility on a tremendously tall pedestal. I know I keep repeating myself but truly this was an amazing facility in our eyes. Dr. Gail Whitman-Elia was special.

The doctor asked Carol what her concerns were. Carol told her that unfortunately our insurance wouldn’t pay for the injectables and so there just wasn’t anyway we could afford it. Carol felt bad and starting rambling, “When we went into this whole thing, we had agreed we would not go into debt over it. We promised to not take away from the son/child we had.” I started to cry as Carol was talking. It was hard not to hear the reality of it all. When you want to get pregnant, you want to try whatever you can. It was so easy to go overboard financially. Infertility gets expensive and often one doesn’t realize it because you are going from one goal to another feeling as if you are so close to getting the baby. I suppose it can be compared to gambling. It’s when you look back that you realize how much money has been spent. BUT knowing that could happen Carol and I went into it with our eyes wide open.

It was at that point the the doctor stopped Carol. For one I was getting upset and this facility always seemed in tune to keeping the patient as stress free as possible. I must tell you the doctor never made us feel guilty for not being able to afford doing any procedure she suggested. She understood. In fact she agreed with Carol and complimented us for not taking away from Judah. She even said, “That’s commendable and smart.” However, the doctor felt there may be some options that had not been exhausted. She recommended letting her nurse (who was in the room with us) contact our insurance company to see if she could get them to pay for the injectable. The doctor explained that sometimes explaining to them that it is medically necessary then possibly they would do it. Carol and I were shocked. The doctor told us that it was worth a shot and she even said that if anyone could convince them it was her nurse. So, of course we agreed. It couldn’t hurt that was for sure.

The doctor asked that we stay put in the examining room for a little bit while they called. She told us it could be a good 30 or 40 minutes but to hang tight. Before the doctor left the room she asked us, “If you are able to get the injectable would this be the direction you’d be willing to take? We just want to make sure if we take the time to do this that you would want to take this route.” We didn’t hesitate to tell her that yes we would want to take this route. But Carol (with memories still very embedded in our brains from the last infertility clinic) said, “Yes, but only if the insurance will pay for the injectables.” The doctor repeated what Carol said and she and the nurse left the room.

It was a good 30 minutes before the nurse came back to our room. She didn’t have any news yet but told us they had not forgotten about us. She told us the person they needed to speak with at the insurance company was out to lunch and they were just waiting for her to call back. Folks, I thought I was going to go crazy sitting there. Waiting was not an easy task for me at all! Carol, during this time started preparing me for the worse case scenario (if they could not get the insurance company to pay for the injectable). Carol did not want me to be hopeful and then devastated if it didn’t happen. She knew me well and knew that nothing she said to try to prepare me was going to work (even though it was worth a shot on her part). I would be devastated no matter what.

Another 30 minutes went by and Carol looked at me and said, “I just don’t feel so positive about this.” UGH! I hated her negativity! But, I knew that too was her way of trying to prepare me. After waiting a total of over an hour the doctor and nurse returned. I tried to read their faces to see if they had good or bad news for us but I couldn’t tell. My brain started going crazy with thoughts. OK, if it was good news they would be smiling and the fact they weren’t then it wasn’t going to be good.

The doctor immediately started telling us the update. She told us the insurance company would not cover the injectables. She began explaining why which of course I tuned her out. In my head I began thinking how our dream was over. But before I could get too deep into thought the doctor touched my leg (to get my attention) and told us they had another option for us. Option? What did she mean? The look on Carol’s face was total skepticism. I know she was thinking, “Yea, right.” The doctor explained she needed to leave to do an insemination but that her nurse had some good news. As soon as the doctor left the room the nurse began explaining to us how they had another couple (who had been trying to get pregnant-obviously) who had donated their injectables back to the clinic. That couple understood how expensive it can all get and they wanted to give back to another couple (who maybe couldn’t have afforded it). And so they would like to give those injectable’s to us. Folks, Carol and I were speechless. Did we just hear correctly? They wanted to give it to us? How did we deserve that? REALLY? I thought I was going to fall to the floor I was so overwhelmed and SO HAPPY. This place was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! They really did care about their patients and created an environment where other patients also wanted to help. We had not expected that in a million years. If our insurance wasn’t going to pay for it then that would have meant we’d have to do the next insemination (with out the help of increasing my egg production) and hope for the best. But to have been offered such a gift was beyond words. We were very very touched and appreciative to say the least. I laughed because all Carol could say was, “WOW!” Over and over and over again.

Since we had promised the doctor that if we could get the injectables we’d proceed, the nurse told us she needed to give us a tutorial on how to use the injectable before leaving that day. And the reason was because we would be going home with it and would start the process at our next cycle (I mean my next cycle). Before the nurse was to begin with her instructions Carol and I really needed to know if that couple (who had donated the injectables to us) had gotten pregnant. We needed to know they had gotten their gift. The nurse told us that not only were they pregnant but they were already 15 weeks along and just found out they were having twins. Folks, I thought I would have been jealous hearing that but you know what? I was actually thrilled for them. Nothing more calming and reassuring than to know they were celebrating and not grieving. It made us feel relieved when using the medicine they had donated.

OK, here was the other thing. When the nurse started explaining how to use the injectables, the reality of what they were set in. OMG! I would have to give myself shots?! And they would have to be done in my stomach? OY! I wasn’t so sure about that but I knew I couldn’t back out then. The nurse explained when we were to give the shots. I had to take my temperature and at a certain point the injectable had to be given in my tummy area. It has to be given about a half a finger away from the belly button to be exact. Yeah, that made me cringe too. A SHOT IN MY STOMACH! HOLY SHIT! Yea, that was what I was thinking in my head. The nurse kept reassuring me that it wouldn’t be bad because the needle was very small and thin. She told me one thing that would help would be to ice the area before injecting and then I definitely wouldn’t feel a thing. Well, she was right. I honestly never felt it. BUT, if you thought I gave myself the shot, you are crazy. At first we had a friend who was a nurse do it and then Carol took over. And every time Carol injected me I’d say to myself, “Come on little eggy’s! Work your magic and produce many!”

Listen, even though this infertility clinic was amazing it still was an emotional ride. Each new procedure was difficult to accept. We’d always ask why us and why wasn’t it working? AND all of the waiting was even harder. Knowing this was our last and final insemination there was a multitude of emotions attached to it. For one there was a sense of relief. No more options to think about, no more thinking about the cost and most of all no more waiting. Living our lives with out having to pee on a stick, take my temperature, count down the days was a wonderful and relieving thought. BUT then there was the other side (if it wasn’t going to work). The sadness of never having another child. I have to tell y’all that was an EXTREMELY difficult one for me to think about because I wanted another kid so badly. So as the countdown began to our last and final insemination, it was hard to not have all of these thoughts rushing into my head. However, just as my partner, Carol, had done from the beginning (and through out every aspect of our lives together) she tried to keep me focused with living in the moment. Needless to say that was an uphill battle for her. In my heart I could feel something wasn’t right and somehow we were fighting against our life’s bashert. Only time would reveal the truth.

 

My Baby Story (Chapter 27- Finding a new infertility clinic)

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Our search for another infertility clinic wasn’t easy. We weren’t sure where to start. So, we started with the obvious. We asked our friend’s. We trusted the opinion of an Atlanta lesbian couple who had two children through inseminated. In fact one of the partners was the awesome woman at the Rainbow Center who helped us with our adoption. So, we valued this couple’s opinion and their friendship. They loved their doctor who did their procedure and they suggested we come to Atlanta to see her. We made an appointment. Listen, we were nervous to think we’d have to drive that far for our procedure. Atlanta was three hours away. However, we knew if we could have a less stressful experience, it would be worth it.

The earliest we could get an appointment was three weeks later. We hated the constant wait but what could we do? The day we headed to Atlanta, we were excited. We knew the facility to which we were headed was accustomed to having lesbians as their patients. This meant we wouldn’t have to go through some of the added crap we had to at our other clinic. That alone was very reassuring.

When we got to the doctor’s office the waiting room was packed. Judah was with us so we brought lots of stuff for him to do just in case we had a long wait. And thank goodness we did because it was a good hour before we were called to the back. Finally, when a nurse called my name, we were relieved. We only had so many activities for Judah and filling an hour wasn’t as easy as we had thought. Right before we were called back Carol started on her magic tricks. It was then that I knew we were at the bottom of the barrel. Folks, Carol’s magic tricks consisted of holding a coin in her hand and pretending she was pulling it out of Judah’s ear. It was so obvious it was hysterical. However to Judah it was awesome (which made us laugh even more).

Anyway, our friends told us the staff and doctor were terrific at this facility and they were right. Also, it was like a well oiled machine. I couldn’t believe the amount of staff that was in the back with everyone busy doing their individual jobs. It was incredible. We met with the doctor for a good 20 minutes. She was caring, compassionate and even though very upbeat, she was realistic about my chances of getting pregnant because of my age. Even so, the air of the place was refreshing. After speaking to the doctor Carol and I had decided we’d use them to do our next procedure. It seemed perfect. Well, perfect until we started talking to the doctor about the vials of sperm we had already purchased. And that folks was where we hit a huge snag. Carol and I had not realized they didn’t do IUI. Instead they did the other procedure which was essentially what Carol and I had done at home and it didn’t work. The sperm we had had already been washed and could only be used for IUI.

We felt as if we were so close in finding another facility and we liked this one. The doctor suggested we could have a facility that was 45 minutes away prepare our sperm. We could then pick it up and bring it to them and they would do the IUI. However, she told us there were problems with that idea. We’d literally be rushing against the clock, depending on the time it could be rush hour and there was danger the sperm could get damaged in the traveling. Listen, as much as we liked this place we knew we couldn’t jeopardize our sperm. We needed the highest chances to get pregnant. And so, unfortunately, this facility was not an option for us. We walked out that day thinking, “DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! Back to square one.”

While driving back home that day Carol and I started brainstorming. Where could we find another infertility clinic and one that we would feel comfortable. If this was going to be our last blow out try, we wanted it to be a good experience. We wanted to end on a good note sort of speak. Well, funny enough when we got home Carol had a thought to look in the phone book. What an antiquated idea. Of course there were the two local ones but then there was a listing for one other. It was a woman infertility doctor with an address in just the county next to ours. Carol researched her on the internet and discovered she had nothing but raving reviews. However, we had not heard about her. If our local facility was so bad why hadn’t we heard others going to this doctor’s infertility facility? We had more questions than answers. Then I remembered something. I had forgotten that we had a neighbor who’s husband was an OB/GYN. We met as our kids played in a park next to our homes. Over the years I had enjoyed talking to her and getting to know her. I really loved her family- really sweet kids. And the best part was she never ever thought twice about me and Carol. So, I told Carol that I would speak with her to ask her what she (or her husband) may know. I knew I could trust her and more importantly I knew she’d be honest with me. And so, that was what I did. Now, she wasn’t familiar with that infertility doctor so she told me she’d ask her husband and get back with me. The one thing she did know was she felt that doctor was actually based out of Columbia, SC and she wasn’t sure why the phone book had her listed with an address in the county next to us. After talking to her husband, he confirmed what she had thought. That infertility doctor was based in Columbia, SC. The other thing her husband said was that he had only heard good things about her. Well, folks that was all we needed as the go ahead to contact that facility. Listen, honestly, it wasn’t as if we had a lot of options. And the other thing was Columbia, SC was only an hour away at the most. It was definitely more doable than Atlanta was. It was farther than we wanted but certainly doable.

We contacted that facility to make an appointment. It would be another 2 weeks before we could get one. However, what could we do? WAIT, WAIT, WAIT and more WAITING. That was the story of our infertility life.

The drive to the infertility clinic in Columbia wasn’t bad at all. The facility was located just a little ways off the main highway. And it was centralized in what appeared to be where many of the medical buildings were located. It was nice. No back alley location at all! When we walked into the medical building we headed to the upstairs floor where the infertility office was located. Just off the elevator was the door of the infertility clinic. When we opened the door their waiting room was fairly small and filled with people waiting.The diversity was awesome. There was every kind of person represented which something we had NOT seen at the infertility clinic we had previously used. Folks, I know I keep harping on our past infertility clinic. But, you had to admit. THEY SUCKED! But more than the way they ran their facility and the conduct of one of the doctors, I realized when sitting in this infertility clinic in Columbia, SC that there also wasn’t any diversity in the patients who were there. That to me spoke volumes. Meanwhile, the patients in this place were beautifully diverse. WE even noticed another lesbian couple. WOW! Really? Alright, maybe this would become a good option for us. The doctor came well recommended AND there was another lesbian couple there. Very good combination. The other thing we noticed was a large photo hanging over one of the couches. It was of the doctor and all of the families (and their kids) she had helped to get pregnant. Carol noticed a LOT of multiple births. Apparently, this doctor was known for doing IVF and women having triplets. OY VEY! That was not something Carol and I knew we wanted. But, one step at a time. Not to panic yet.

After we were called to the back and once we met and spoke to the doctor we knew that was the place for us. The feel of the place was like a breath of fresh air. It just felt right. While speaking to the doctor we developed a plan of action. I was to have a vaginal sonogram to see how many eggs I was producing each month. I already knew that I produced two viable eggs but the doctor wanted to see if she could increase that number (even if I did indeed produce two). This doctor felt if we could increase the number of eggs per cycle then we could increase our chances to get pregnant. And since we only had two vials of sperm, lets increase our chances as much as we could. Her plan made sense to us and didn’t seem arbitrary (which our other infertility clinic seemed when they suggested doing different procedures). Oh, sorry. They weren’t arbitrary they were up selling. Anyway, we followed the advice of this doctor. Every procedure she suggested she always backed it up with a logical reason. And so we felt good about using this facility. The last thing we had to do before leaving the infertility clinic was to go to the check out counter. Once there the first thing the woman said to us was, “How are you?” And then she told us she already had our insurance information (which we had given when we had first arrived) and then told us the amount of our copay. We wrote her a check and handed it to her. She complimented us on the design we had on our checks, told us she would file with our insurance and told us to have a great day. Carol and I were so stunned. We ended up just standing there like two idiots starring at her. You mean that’s all? We’re done? You don’t need to yell at us for this payment or that payment? Folks, it was true. We were done and it was that easy. INCREDIBLE!

A couple of weeks later I returned for my vaginal sonogram and some blood work which was all done at their facility. Everything went without a hitch. Can you believe it? It was so easy and without any stress. OK, I was nervous but there was nothing added by the infertility clinic. In fact they did everything humanly possible to make me calm and to include Carol. I know I already said this but it was incredible! Now during my vaginal sonogram the doctor could see two good follicles (where I produced two eggs). She felt if we could increase that number it would be a wise thing to do. We agreed with her. She suggested starting me off with the drug clomid. I had heard not great things about that drug but she told me it would be a low dosage. She told me to start taking it and to come in for my vaginal sonogram during my next month’s surge. If I had produced enough eggs, we’d discuss doing our first insemination at that time. we agreed and off we went. Of course though we had to check out first. And of course there was nothing to it. Gave the woman our co pay and we were able to leave. No hassle at all! I don’t know why but we were surprised each and every time we checked out of the place.

During my next month’s surge we returned to have another vaginal sonogram. Luckily, it was during the week which made things a whole lot easier since the office was open. When the doctor did the procedure she was disappointed to only see that the Clomid only increased me to having three good follicles and possibly four. She had hoped for many more. The doctor spoke to us after the procedure. She really felt I needed to go one more month on the Clomid. First of all, it was a cheaper infertility drug. And the fact I had only been on it a month, she felt I needed to stay on it for one more month with hopes it would increase my egg production. And so, we took her advice and did just that.

I have to tell you something about the Clomid. At first while I was on it, I was fine. But as I entered my second month of taking it, oh, things didn’t go so well. My moods were TERRIBLE! I was sad one second and so mad the next. I was ready to hit my next surge and be done with the Clomid. I HATED the way I felt and I’m sure Carol wasn’t so happy about it either. In fact I know she wasn’t because I was driving her crazy. We fought a lot during that time. I had wished she had noticed it was the medicine doing a lot of the talking but you know what? I didn’t even know until I wasn’t on it anymore. Here was the thing even without the Clomid in the mix. All of the waiting and anticipation was incredibly stressful. It was more than we had ever thought. AND it was during this time the stress had hit it’s peak. The both of us I think needed the experience over and done. We were exhausted. Either I needed to get pregnant or if I couldn’t, we needed to move forward with our lives. Being in limbo was NOT a good thing for our relationship at all and nor was it good for us individually. Our infertility days needed to come to an end and soon.

When my surge hit the next month and we went back to the infertility clinic for yet another vaginal sonogram we were disappointed to see that my egg production had not increased. I had many more follicles but only three that were viable. And so, it was at that point that Carol and I decided to go ahead and have the insemination. Hell, I had gotten pregnant with two viable eggs with Judah and here I had three, so why wouldn’t it work? The doctor supported our decision. She also knew the stress was a lot on us. Our insemination was scheduled for the next day.

By the next morning as we were taking our hour drive to the infertility clinic I felt OK. Listen, by this point I felt like a pro. I knew the ins and outs (no pun) of what was going to happen. I was nervous. I won’t lie. BUT, I have to tell you. I was not at all as confident as I was when we got pregnant with Judah. In some ways I felt as if I had one of those kid toys where you have a box with the triangle, square and round shaped openings and you put the appropriately shaped blocks in their right hole. Well, for me I felt as if I was trying to SHOVE the square block in the circle hole. It just wasn’t fitting. In the same light I was trying to get pregnant but I just didn’t feel as if my body could do it. AND yet I kept trying. How many more times did I need in order to see it wasn’t going to happen. That square block was never going to fit in that circle hole.

When we arrived, we checked in at the front counter. We had fully expected to have to pay for our procedure the second we walked into the door. You know like the other facility where you had to pay before you could pass go. When the woman at the from desk told us it would be a 45 minute wait while they prepare our sperm, Carol asked her, “Do I pay you?” The woman looked at Carol funny and told her that was all handled at the time of checkout. NO FREAKING WAY!? You mean like other doctor’s offices? How humane to do that and to NOT do it in front of a filled waiting room. What a freakin concept.

Anyway, when it had come to preparing the sperm… they only began to prepare it once we had arrived which made sense. Never wanted to waste it. After we waited our 45 minutes we were called back to one of the rooms. Once in the room the nurse asked me if I was ready and then told me to try to relax. She told me to undress from the waste down, put on the robe they had and lie on the table. As she left she told us the doctor would be in shortly. Once I did all of the things she told me to do, Carol took my hand. There wasn’t much we needed to say at that point. We just both hoped it would work. A few minutes later the doctor came into the room. She asked how I was doing and also asked if I was ready. Listen, I have to tell you. There was a kindness and calmness to this doctor that was wonderful. It was evident she cared for her patients and I really needed that especially at that moment.

The doctor was ready to go so she told me to wiggle my bottom closer to her and place my feet in the stirrups. She confirmed our sperm donor and then she started the procedure. Everyone was very quiet. As she entered my vagina (with what Carol and I now knew was called the inseminator), she told me the sticky discharge I had made it perfect conditions for the insemination. That made me feel good and it made me feel relaxed. When the doctor was finished with the procedure she did something that was so sweet and special. After she was done she rubbed my leg and said, “We’re going to think positive thoughts that this will work.” The doctor then extended the bed I was on and rested my legs down. She explained how I needed to lie there for so many minutes. Before she left the room she placed her hand on my arm and said with a smile, “You did great.” Just before she left, she turned off the lights and left the room. It was funny because there was a timer on the outside of each room. It was just like an egg timer that goes tick tick… so I could hear her setting it and then it ticking.

And so there were Carol and I once again being left to our own demise in a dark room. Well, no worries folks. We were good. Carol just rubbed my tummy wishing good thoughts as I lie there for what seemed to be an eternity. After the clock outside the door went “ding” I got up from the table and got dressed. While we were walking to the check out counter the nurse wished us luck. Then once we paid for the procedure and were about to leave, the woman at the check out told us she was going to keep her finger’s crossed for us. We were just amazed by everyone’s kindness. Sadly, we hadn’t been used to it.

Well as many of you know by now, I had to wait another two weeks before I would know if I was pregnant. And as y’all know, it seemed to be an eternity for me. However, this go round I wouldn’t make it to the point of taking the pregnancy test because this go round I got my period. I was incredibly disappointed I was not pregnant. And yet in my gut I knew very early I wasn’t going to be. However, one always hopes to be wrong.

It was the first time that we had tried and it hadn’t worked. It was hard but I felt OK about it because I knew we had one more shot. Unlike the other infertility clinic this one wanted me to call whether pregnant or not. And when I called the nurse to tell her, the first thing she asked was, “Are you ok?” When she asked that question, I couldn’t help but cry. The nurse was amazing. She spent a long time with me on the phone. In fact she wouldn’t hang up with me until I was no longer crying. The nurse knew we were going to try one more time, so that was what she kept reiterating to me during our conversation. She also offered to make an appointment for us so we could meet with the doctor to go over our next course of action. I just can’t even begin to tell you how that infertility clinic stepped up especially when the reality of infertility became so hard emotionally. But, they got it and they understood. They were amazing.

My appointment with the doctor was going to be in a week. It was important during that week to grieve the last insemination and then move forward so that we could be positive for our next one. Listen, I had always been able to grieve quickly (if at all) and then move forward. Damn, it was the story of my life. However, this was getting harder and harder to do.

It was around this time I started to feel guilty for putting Carol and our son through all of this shit. Truthfully, Judah was a bit clueless about what was happening but he picked up on our stress which wasn’t good. Why did I have to have another child? Why was it SO important to me? Dammit, I had Judah who brought so much joy to my life. I should have been happy to accept just him. I should have been happy that I was able to have at least one child. But, G-d dammit people! I hadn’t realized how emotionally hard it was going to be to watch my baby grow up. And as he was growing up I hadn’t realized how much my heart would ache for another one. DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT! Why did I have to have another one? Why did it mean so much to me? AND WHY COULDN’T I LET IT GO!?!

I tried hard to put all of those thoughts aside and focus on our last and final insemination with hopes of all hopes this would be the one to work.

 

My Baby Story (Chapter 26- A new direction)

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OK, so Carol and I tried the home insemination a couple of times but it just didn’t work. Funny enough even though I was sad about it, I’m glad we did try it. It was certainly an adventure for us and one we can definitely cross of our bucket list.

Here was the thing. I was turning 37 and I knew my odds of getting pregnant were definitely decreasing. We needed an infertility clinic but NOT the one we had gone to previously. Oh hell no, folks. After those two times we felt we had given them a fair chance to redeem themselves. This go round it was important we find an infertility clinic who would treat us like human beings instead of like ATM’s. We wanted one who did have lesbian clients. On top of that Carol and I came to the realization that if we were going to do it again we really wanted the same donor as Judah. For whatever reason it was important to us. We knew the sperm bank no longer had our donor and to ask the bank to see if he would give again would have been costly. The bank would have made the donor go through the same testing as he had done initially and we would have had to accrue that cost. SO, we needed to look in a different direction and one that was more conducive to our pocketbooks. But, how would we find more of our donor sperm?

As we were trying to figure things out Carol caught a show on NPR about a kid who had been conceived through donor sperm. Carol was frustrated with the program because this kid seemed to have a lot of other issues that didn’t have anything to do with him feeling he was missing out on having a father. However, the kid only being18 years old was very young and that seemed to be where he was able to place all of his problems. The kid through out the program kept referring to his donor as “his father”. It was clear he was missing something in his life and needed to fill a void. And so, the kid with the help of his mom started a website called, “The Sibling Registry” which would allow him to find other families who had used the same donor as him. His ultimate goal in creating this site was to eventually find his “father”. Here’s the thing. There are issues (for some) with calling the offspring of those donors “donor siblings” just as their are issues with calling the donor “father”. A father to many is someone who is present in a child’s life and not just someone who “donates” a sperm. Donating a sperm in my mind doesn’t grant you that title nor should it. It’s about being present in the child’s life. And so some see calling the offspring (donor siblings) in the same way. They are connected biologically but that is it. I suppose some feel using the word “sibling” and “father” is too intimate of a term.

Now let me say this. Many donors want to remain anonymous and make that request when they donate. In fact when we picked our donor it was important to us to chose one who did not want to be identified (ever). Those donors who want to remain anonymous don’t see themselves as the parent but only as a way to help other singles/couples to have a baby. The other part to this is that donors also don’t want to be contacted by an infinite amount of children and then begin a relationship with them. The donor does not see them as his children. In fact the donor usually have their own lives and have started their own families. So the sperm banks do not disclose the name of the donor as long as they have requested to remain anonymous. It becomes a closed file. However, in the case of this 18 year old boy, he had high hopes the donor would check out the site and possibly contact him directly. Legally though, I’m guessing that would open a huge can of worms.

An so, how the “donor sibling” site worked was you’d place the number of the donor (the number assigned from the sperm bank) and the sperm bank name in the search engine. In some cases there were many already registered under that donor. If nothing came up for that donor it meant no one had yet registered that donor. In that case a person could register the donor with hopes they’d hear from other people (in time) who used that same donor. Now of course there was a charge to register. Nothing is free, people!

Aside from all of that there are other reasons Carol does not like the “sibling registry”. I suppose in many ways she feels it demeans her as the other parent. It suggests to the child they have a “real father” and “real siblings” which null and voids who actually raised them. And I can see her point. It is the people involved in the kid’s lives that make the family not the ones who so happen to be biologically related. However, I see it a little differently. I feel the reality is Judah was conceived by a donor whose sperm also got other women pregnant. And in our case there were eight other women (that we know of thus far through the donor sibling registry). Because of the reality of how Judah came to be born he will want to know. I think that is just human nature. I compare it to kids who are adopted. There are just some kids who want to know about their biological parents and that’s understandable. I don’t see that as demeaning Carol as being Judah’s other mom in anyway. I can see how scary it can be for the parent BUT, that was one of the reasons I wanted Carol to adopt Judah. She is 100% his other mom and no one can take that away. The reality is some children need to search outwardly to better understand the special family they already have. To me the reality of the situation can’t be taken away. A donor was used and from that other children were born. I’m guessing Judah will be curious and possibly want to meet the other kids who were born from the same donor. Or maybe he won’t. But, I feel that’s his decision.

Now Carol does feel strongly about telling Judah the truth and about it being his decision whether to meet the other “donor siblings”. Where Carol and I disagree is she feels we don’t need to tell him about the “donor siblings” until he asks us. And only when he asks do we tell him. Listen, there’s no doubt in my mind Carol and I have a smart kid but come on. To extrapolate that far in regards to thinking on his own that the donor had other children is something that I feel won’t be realized until well into his later teens. I suppose what worries me. I never want him to feel we ever hid anything from him. I feel we should tell Judah about the “donor siblings” just as we shared with him about the donor. Bits at a time and what he can understand at that time. One should never wake up one day with that kind of surprise. I don’t think that would be fair to our child. I also feel once he is a teenager (with all of the hormones and such) that wouldn’t be a terrific time for that realization to hit. In many cases they are already so vulnerable. And so, if we talk to him before hand (in bits and pieces), maybe he’d have a better foundation by that time.

In terms of the donor Carol and I have always agree. Since Judah was young we have spoken about the donor (age appropriately). Our kid isn’t stupid and understood at 3 years old that two moms couldn’t make a baby. He knew there had to be a male participant somehow. In fact when he was almost 4 he once asked me, “Momma, how do we make babies?” I was surprised because he had already asked how he was created and he knew (there was a donor). I suppose Judah noticed my confusion on my face and he added, “No, Momma. I don’t mean how two women have babies. I know that. AND I don’t mean how two men have babies. I know that too. I am asking how a man and a woman have a baby.” Gotta love kids!

Anyway, we have a large packet with detailed information about Judah’s donor. That is always available for him to see or to just ask questions. In fact just the other day Judah asked, “Did the donor like baseball like me?” and “Did the donor have curly hair like me?” And of course we answered him. However, I feel he asked because we made him comfortable to do so. We started giving him the information when he was young which gave him the comfort to continue to ask for more information. I feel we need to do the same with the fact Judah has donor siblings.

Now as you could see, Carol was not fond of the “donor sibling” registry. So, why in the hell would she be on their site? Good question. The fact was the site’s purpose was multifaceted. Aside from the obvious- finding donor “siblings” and it being a sort of support system to mothers who had children with the same donor, it also was a way to find other vials of sperm from the donor you wanted. Many woman over purchased and bought way too many vials. Their reasoning? Well, as you saw with the infertility clinic we used. They request the woman go through at least 6 inseminations. The other reason is the woman may not be sure if they wanted more children. So in many cases they purchased more vials than they needed.

And so, when Carol heard about this site on NPR even though she hated it’s premise she knew it could be the perfect place to find more sperm from our donor. Without my knowledge Carol went to the site. When she searched for our donor’s number and sperm bank lo and behold there were a few people registered. They had used the same donor and had children by him (obviously or they wouldn’t have been registered). Anyway, Carol was able to find out about the other kids born to our same donor: girl/boy, age, and area of the country. Through that we had discovered Judah was the oldest kid- first one born using this donor. The families who used “our” donor and conceived their children were either lesbian couples or single moms. As far as Carol saw in the “sibling registry” no straight couples used our donor. That of course didn’t matter to us. Some of our best friends are straight married couples. I just had to put that in there for humor sake. We get that often, so I thought turn around was fair play.

Alright so because Carol really wanted to get sperm from the same donor (and to surprise me with that news of being able to get it), Carol put her feelings aside about her dislike for the site and she e-mailed one of the couples she saw in the donor sibling registry. It was a lesbian couple who had two children from “our” donor. Carol e-mailed them and introduced herself. Not comfortable with the idea of sharing too much information, she did tell them we had a son who was conceived with their same donor. Of course all Carol cared about was asking them if they had any sperm to spare. Sounds like the 1930’s song, “Brother can you spare a dime.” Well, lesbian’s can you spare some sperm? Sorry, just my twisted humor added in here. In all seriousness, it would have been rude to just jump in and ask if they had extra sperm to spare. So as we Jews like to call it, Carol “schmoozed” with them first. Not something Carol likes to do anyway, so good for her.

Now let me explain how one buys and sells sperm. Stay with me here, because it can get confusing. First let me say this. The vials of sperm are not sitting in any of these women’s freezers. No, not at all. The sperm has to be stored in a reputable sperm storage facility which typically is held in the same place it is purchased until needed at the place you are being inseminated. Not only is that the law for liability issues but it also guarantees the quality. Can you believe we’re really talking about sperm here? Crazy and weird, I know. And so an individual may own a vial of sperm but it is always stored in a sperm bank or infertility clinic. Got it? Now, if the individual wants to sell a vial to someone else (because they no longer need or want it), they can. It is called transferring of ownership. The sperm bank charges a fee for the transferring, however the payment of the vial is done privately between the old and new sperm owners.. But as I said, the sperm never leaves the bank until needed to another bank of choice or infertility clinic.

To break this down a little bit more: “ownership” means: The vial of sperm is owned by the person who buys it (duh) and it is registered in their name at the sperm bank. Now of course there is a fee for the sperm to store the sperm, so the owner is responsible to pay that monthly storage fee (until it’s used, sold to another owner or until it is asked to be destroyed). If the owner chooses to sell it, they contact the sperm bank where it is being stored, both the seller and buyer fill out paperwork (which states the sperm ownership is being transferred) and then the sperm bank places it in the new owner’s name. Now I bet you are wondering how much all of this costs? Good question. First of all, it depends on the sperm bank. For us the transfer of ownership wasn’t cheap (even though it’s all done on computer). We paid $100 at that time. OK, now that you are up on how it all works here was where our story got interesting.

The lesbian couple returned Carol’s e-mail and told her they did indeed have extra vials of sperm they could sell. In fact they had a whopping TWENTY vials they could sell her! Alright folks, Carol’s mouth fell to the ground when she read how many they had bought at one time. To put it into dollars let me do the math for you. The cost of twenty vials times $200 (the cost per vial when they bought it) equaled $4,000. However, we know they had more than the twenty vials because some were used in the insemination procedure to get pregnant. But, since we can’t know that number, I’ll keep it at twenty vials for example sake. Another cost was what the sperm bank charged to store each vial of sperm per month. Now, at the time we had contacted the lesbian couple who purchased the twenty vials they had already been storing the sperm for five years. At roughly $10 a month per vial it cost $200 a month for storage. So the storage costs for a year was $6,000 and $30,000 for five years. Just adding up the cost of the sperm and it’s storage fees for five years the women put out a minimum of $34,000. And that didn’t include the cost of their procedures and tests. I have to tell you folks. That blew our minds. For us it was expensive to spend $2,000 to get pregnant with Judah. We couldn’t have imagined spending $34,000. At that cost one could have had IVF OR have adopted. Feel free to check me on my math. That is not my place of expertise.

Meanwhile, truth be told, Carol was thrilled to have found a couple who still had sperm from the donor we wanted. Who cared how many extra they had. The fact was they had extra. And so, before talking to the lesbian couple any further, Carol wanted to talk to me. She was excited to have found another route to get vials of our donor and couldn’t wait to tell me the news. AND when she did tell me I was beyond thrilled too. I couldn’t believe it. But, once my head came out of the clouds I started to think, “OK, how did she find the extra vials and what was going to be the cost?” There always was a cost.

I asked Carol where was extra sperm located? Really what I meant was how did she find it? But in classic Carol form, she answered me literally and told me it was at the sperm bank. Well, no shit Sherlock. All sperm is at the sperm bank. Meanwhile as thrilled as I was with knowing she had found our donor’s sperm I knew something didn’t smell right. I knew our donor was no longer active at the sperm bank so, how in the hell were there vials available? OK, what was going on here? Carol knew me well and knew I’d ask many questions. I think she had hoped just maybe I wouldn’t have. Folks, Carol doesn’t wing it, so I’m not sure how she thought she was going to pull that off. The bottom line was she didn’t want to tell me how she found the extra vials. The reason? She didn’t want me to go on the “Sibling donor” registry or contact any of the woman who used the same donor as us.

With my pushing she in the end had no choice but to tell me about it. But when she finally did I had to promise I would not contact the woman or go on “The Sibling Registry” site. I was really mad. I didn’t think it was fair. I had a right to know about “The Sibling Registry” site and to see it for myself. After all Judah was my kid too. It wasn’t just her decision. Even though it really upset me I promised (for marital peace) that I wouldn’t contact the women or go onto the site. Just know though, that didn’t keep me from arguing with her about it. To this day even though I continue to disagree with her about it I have yet to go to on the site. Hell, I only know how it works from what Carol told me. As far as being in contact with a few of the other families? I am. That came about through them contacting me on Facebook. I have enjoyed getting to know them on a different level than just sharing the same donor. But on another level I have enjoyed seeing updated pictures of their kids and hearing about them. One can’t help but to compare knowing they all had the same donor. I’ve even caught Carol doing that as well. Meanwhile, it has been fun to see how the parent/parents have also influenced the child which has made the “donor siblings” different.

I was a little upset with Carol when she told me she had not asked the lesbian couple about how much they wanted per vial for the sperm. My worry was they’d want way too much and we’d have to start all over again looking. Our excitement would have been for nothing. And so Carol wrote the lesbian couple to ask them their price per vial. A few days later when they responded, I must admit I was flabbergasted by how much they wanted. Listen after having dealt with our infertility clinic who seemed to have nickeled and dimmed us and after dealing with the sperm banks who did the same thing when these women wanted to charge us so much I was angry. Gosh, I understood that the sperm banks and the infertility clinics were a business and even more so I understood how the lesbian couple would want to also get some of their money back. I got it. BUT, I suppose that because this was such a sensitive area where emotions could run high (especially when a woman wasn’t able to get pregnant) it just all seemed so callus.

The lesbian couple asked for $400 per vial. They felt because the donor at that point had earned his doctorate, they could then charge the “executive” rate which was double what they had originally paid. My heart sank because I knew as much as we wanted that same donor, there was no way in hell we could afford that amount per vial. I asked Carol if she could please explain to them that we just couldn’t afford it and if we could possibly please pay them $200 per vial. Listen, we had decided that we were only going to try two more times and then call it quits. So, we only wanted two vials. And I suppose in my mind since they weren’t needing the vials anymore at least offering what they had paid originally was fair.
Carol disagreed with me. She felt they had a right to ask what they wanted and if we didn’t want it that was our problem. But, having no other alternative and knowing we really wanted that same donor I felt desperate to try to negotiate with them. Plus, since I wasn’t allowed to contact the women myself, I had to beg Carol to do it. And so, she did. They replied fairly quickly but not with the answer we wanted. They felt their price was fair (because the donor had gotten his Master’s degree) and that was the amount they wanted. Of course I was upset. It was something I wanted very badly and I hated that we couldn’t afford it. However, what really upset me was something else they said. They also wrote that they’d give us time to think about it but by a certain date they were going to have all of the vials of sperm destroyed (since they didn’t need it anymore). WHAT? Are you kidding me? They’d rather destroy all of it than to at least sell us two vials for $200 each? Two vials! That was all we wanted. Listen, if we could have paid the price they wanted, we would have. We honestly couldn’t have afford it. Meanwhile, just tell us thanks but no thanks. Their response to me felt very mean and uncaring. I just didn’t feel they needed to add the part where they were going to destroy it. Anyway as much as I wanted that sperm there was NO way we could have paid what they wanted. Carol wrote them back and thanked them but let them know we just couldn’t do it.

During this time Carol received an e-mail from a woman who had also used the same donor. She had one child- a boy. When Carol would read her e-mails to me she seemed so kind. I encouraged Carol to ask her if she knew of anyone else who may have some extra vials of the same donor. Carol was hesitant but did ask her. To our surprise this women too had extra vials. Wow! We had another chance to possibly get the same donor! And so we asked her how much. She had three extra vials and she offered to sell them to us for $200 per vial? I couldn’t believe it! It was amazing! Carol told her we only needed two and so our chance to have the same donor became a reality. We couldn’t believe it. It felt as if we had won the lottery. Well, not that we had ever won the lottery but if we had, this was how it would feel.

Carol and I hated throwing money out the window which was how it felt when we were trying to get pregnant (again) and it wasn’t working. We already had a child and we felt it wouldn’t have been fair to take away from him. Carol and I did the calculations and figured out we could afford to give it two more gallant tries. The IUI procedure would cost $500 a piece so it would cost us $1,000 for two procedures. Then, there was the cost of the sperm which would have added $400. Because my insurance paid for all tests, we were fortunate to not have to pay for that part. So, our cost would be around $1400 and some possible change. We felt we could spare that without taking away from Judah and so we went for it.

Our next and most important step was to find a new infertility clinic. We knew it would probably mean we’d have to travel to another city but at that point we were more than willing. And so another one of our journey’s began in a new direction.