Wednesday, March 28, 2007

DD had a post this week that really got me thinking.. Check it out if you haven't already:

T.K.O. ...more or less...: no. 370 - Adjective Trap (Corrected Link)

OK.. now that you've all read the article, and we're all on the same page... let me tell you what I thought of it.

For the most part, I agree that "a child is a child" and the goals of parenting don't fundamentally change because of how a child got there... I just think that it's over simplistic to deny that HOW a family was built is going to change HOW that child is raised.

BUT... (you knew that was coming, didn't you?)

I'm sure I've mentioned that I'm a stepmom. When I met B, he had a son, T. And an ex-wife. See, T has TWO parents who love him very much. With Dad's remarriage & Mom's remarriage, T now has an extended parental group that involves four adults... but only two of them are his parents.

I have no problem being called stepmom in this situation. Dropping that label would be disrespectful to the mother that T already has.

I have no problem calling T my stepson.

We do raise the boys differently because they don't share the same parents. I can't treat T & G exactly the same all the time because the boys have different parents, and that means different ideas on parenting. I am easily the least permissive parent out of the entire group.. I'm not going to be more lenient with G, and I'm not going to ask B, the ex or stepdad to become more strict just so that the boys will have identical upbringings.

That makes things work a little differently in my family.

A one-size-fits-all approach to parenting wouldn't work here... and I question if it really works anywhere.

Yes, a family IS a family, but they're not all alike.

In the original article, the author took the stance that parents rely too much on adjectives to determine their child-rearing... that parents of today look to the specific differences when seeking information on how to raise their children. Instead of looking for advice on how to raise a child, they're looking for advice on how to raise a ____ child.

I don't think that's a bad thing.

I grew up with only two parents, only one household, and no concept of how to tackle the differences I've encountered in the five years I've been married to B. I can ask my mom for advice on how to potty-train G, because she's been there and done that... but I'm going to call B's stepmom for advice on how to grit my teeth and allow T freedoms I'm not comfortable with, or how to explain to G why he's not allowed to do the same things his brother was allowed at his age. StepMIL has been there, done that.

I can't give advice to my friend on how to tailor her parenting style to accommodate her son's autism.

I'm also not qualified to advise someone on how to best incorporate an unfamiliar culture into the raising of an internationally adopted child... or to explain to a child what a donor is, and how that affects her.

Is it really wrong to acknowledge differences and to use them to help determine what is 'the right method' to raise our children?

We may all have the same goals - raising healthy, happy, productive adults - but because there are differences in the makeup of our families, we are all taking different approaches.. burying our heads in the sand and insisting that all families are alike and need to be treated exactly the same isn't going to help anyone. The children within the family will still know what makes them different or unique, and they will know if a ready-made parenting philosophy isn't really what they need.

Whether or not I like a label doesn't change reality.

my little footnote disclaimer: As I re-read this to proofread, I realize it sounds like I'm saying that the family's differences need to be paramount, and that all things revolve around them.. which is not my intent. I'm talking about what goes on within a family, not necessarily how that family should present itself to the public.

Friday, March 23, 2007

i have a better update..

Thank you for all the sympathy for my last post. It's very nice to know I'm not the only one who thinks it's unfair, lol... I tried replying to the comments, but gmail kicked back all my mail.

The current 'official' statement is that the change in deployment date is 'just a rumor' and not happening... one thing I've learned is that in situations like this rumors are usually true, no matter how vehemently they're denied. In fact, the more vehement the denial, the more likely it is to be true. Given the official denial announced to the entire ship by people much higher than my husband, I'm going forward with the thinking that while it's possible B will be here for Rice's birth, it's unlikely unless Rice comes early. (and that's still a very definite possibility)

I spent some time thinking about how I'd cope with this... and I'm ok.

The idea of birthing alone doesn't bother me. I'm not completely alone here. I do have people who could and would support me if I asked... so if I'm birthing solo, it's as much by choice as it is by circumstance... not a problem.

The real problem is having B so out of the loop for information.

When his ship is out, phone communication is all but nonexistant. Email is generally reliable, but sometimes it takes a while.

I can't stand the thought that he'd be the last one to know about his child.

I'm working out a solution to that, while still hoping he'll be here to see for himself. It's still a possibility.

If not, we'll deal with that.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

... and the hits just keep on coming...

Remember way back when I was trying to schedule inseminations around B's schedule, and worrying about conceiving a baby who would be due during a deployment? The inseminations always seemed to work out, but the due-during-deployment issue has always been in the forefront of my mind... particularly since I'm due a week or two before he's scheduled to leave..

.. well, at least I was due a week or two prior to the deployment.

No, my due date hasn't changed.

But his deployment date has.

And now I'm due a few weeks after he's scheduled to leave.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

My terraversary

(thanks mel for The Glossary that gave me today's title)

One year ago today, I miscarried.

The day started out badly - I'd already found out the day prior that this was coming, so I woke up with the knowledge that things were bad-bad-bad inside the ole uterus, and I was both heartbroken and vaguely disgusted. I've heard it's a normal reaction, but all I could think was 'there's something dead in me get-it-out-get-it-out-get-it-out!'

That was about all the info that the emergency room had given me. Dead baby. Go home and call your OB to schedule a followup.

No one said a thing about what to expect.. so I carried on with life as usual, waiting.

If by 'life as usual' I mean frantic activity designed to take my mind off of everything, that is.

I was craving life, all things living. I needed to replace the ugly feelings with something hopeful, and beautiful.

We bought plants. Over the course of about two weeks while I grieved heavily, I planted roughly 6 dozen flowers and about a dozen packets of seed. I needed to see that I was able to grow something, even if I hadn't been able to grow that baby.

It is heartwarming to me to see that the flowers I planted last year are still here this year.

I don't think it's coincidental that yesterday all my narcissus broke out in full bloom.

My little back flowerbed will always remind me of the baby I lost, since that was the area where I spent most of the days, crying and planting, mulching and weeding.. reminding myself that there was still beauty in the world, that life continued and that there were indeed still things that could make me smile... and it is the narcissus planted there that has bloomed.

I transplanted them in the fall, moving from the front flowerbed to my little memorial garden. I wanted something that would bloom and grow at the very time I would most need to see beauty... but privately, in my own back yard, where it's ok to cry when I pull weeds.

When the narcissus has given its show, and returned to dormancy for the year, it will be time for my forsythia to bloom. Echoing the sunny yellow of the narcissus, the forsythia will give me a little more color, and will hold me over until my daylilies begin their bloom.

Somewhere in there, my fairy rose will open its tiny, delicate flowers. That was the last planting of the year - one lone, pitiful rosebush that I put in on the very cusp of winter. I don't know when, or if, it will bloom this year, but it's growing and green this year, faring much better than I expected.

I will have color and beauty in my life and my back yard for nearly half the year, exactly as I'd planned it. Exactly as I so wanted and needed to see last year.

There are two flowers that I started from seed on the very day that I miscarried - my sweet william and my alyssum. Neither has done very well this year, but they are both tenaciously hanging on, reminders that sometimes, hanging on is the best you can do until you are strong enough to thrive and bloom. They have been hanging on since they sprouted, neither growing much nor losing their green over the winter. They are in limbo, waiting for their time. I know how that feels, and I am patient with them, hoping, but not expecting.

I know that there is beauty out there, I have grown it, and I have seen it. Even when it's not coming fast enough for me, it is out there.

I worried that no one but me would remember my terraversary, that my child's few short weeks would fade into obscurity, known to no one but my heart.. but Spring remembered. A late Spring, a late bloom for my narcissus and on the beginning of a painful terraversary, I saw beauty.

It is my terraversary.. and I have already received flowers. Baby has not been forgotten.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Two steps forward, one step back.. or vice versa

I was absolutely thrilled to see an article about a fertility program specifically targeting gay men... until I read the article here.

It seems like a great program, bringing all facets of conception (legal, medical & psychological) together in one place.. and then they go and muck it up with this:

"...three-quarters of gay couples pay extra to choose the sex of their

In fact, if you check out the website for this particular clinic, they have an entire section dedicated to the success of their gender-selection program.

I absolutely can't say how much I detest the idea of PGD for gender selection based on personal preference.

There's a time and a place for it. I am not at all opposed to using PGD when there's a medical reason for it.. like, say, if a parent is a known carrier of a fatal genetic disease that only affects one gender.

I'm even ok with other forms of gender-selection - if you wanna try out Shettles, you can have sex standing on your head on the third Wednesday of your cycle* for the rest of your life, if that's what you want and it won't even make me blink.

If you want to pay your clinic to spin your sperm to get the best XY swimmers in the world, have at it.

But don't create otherwise healthy embryos and then destroy them just because of gender.

It's absolutely ok to have a preference for one gender or another.. but I just don't think it's ok to have such an all-consuming preference that the alternative is not even worth giving birth to.

I said a million times in the beginning that I wanted RiceCake to be a girl (and even if I hadn't said it, the tiny row of pink hanging in the closet speaks for itself) ... but I never went into my doctor's appointment, or into my bedroom with the thinking that I would ONLY accept a girl. Hell, I wanted G to be a girl; I've already confessed my disappointment when we saw the little penis on the ultrasound, but I never once thought that it would be better to not have him at all. From the moment of his birth, I have never looked at him and thought "if only... " I don't feel like I got a consolation prize, or a second-rate child because I wanted a daughter... and I can't imagine what it's like to be so single-minded that a (potential) child I helped create isn't worthy because of something so insignificant in the grand scheme of things as gender.

I hate to say that anyone is unworthy of parenthood.. but sometimes I wish it were easy for me to throw out that statement.

*or whatever it is they recommend..

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I'm not usually much of a conspiracy theorist. Really, I'm not. (Except for the whole Cosmic Gods of Reproduction thing - I do believe the little fairies who control that particular aspect of life have one hell of a nasty sense of humor) ... but I'm starting to wonder.

I mentioned not too long ago that my own family has seen a sharp decline in successful reproduction in the last generation, and I think I'm starting to notice it in others too.

My uberfertile neighbor came by the other night and started interrogating me about RiceCake. How'd the ultrasound go? Fine. Baby kicking today? Yes. Used the doppler today? Yes.

Started to freak me out a little. It's not unusual for my neighbor to interrogate me 'cause we're actually pretty good friends... but for her to come over somewhere around 8PM for the sole purpose of interrogating me, that's a bit unusual.

In the end, she reluctantly confessed that she was paranoid about me because her friend Tammy had gone in for a routine 18-20 week ultrasound and found our that her baby had died.


My uberfertile neighbor went through the same thing right around the time that I met her, and the pain of rememberance was clearly visible in her eyes as we were talking the other night.

I like to call her uberfertile because getting pregnant was never her problem - she jokes that her husband can look at her and she's pregnant, and the two of them regularly worry that his vasectomy will fail... but the truth of the matter is that she's had her fair share (and then some) of reproductive problems.

I understand why she worries right along with me, and all her other friends, every step of the way.

She's the same friend who held my hand when I miscarried because she'd been there too. More than once.

She introduced me to a third friend of hers who had been through two miscarriages around when I lost mine... so that I'd have a bigger support network to help me sort through my feelings.

She's the same friend that is now holding Tammy's hand while she sorts through her pain.

She's a good friend, and she should never have to see so many women she cares about hurt so much... although she is so empathetic and always knows the right thing to say (and when to just listen), that if anyone has to be that friend, I'm glad it's someone like her.

.. but I still believe that no one should have to bear witness to so much pain.

I worry that miscarriage and stillbirth are becoming more common.

I hope that it's just that my generation is more honest and open, that we've ripped a curtain off of a private pain so that we can better support our sisters when they are in need.

But I worry that we've done that out of necessity because we see so many others who are suffering in ways we know all too well, that we are seeing it more because it is happening more.

I hope that is not true.

.. and if you can today, spare a good thought for my cousin, who is still dealing with her recent loss, or for Tammy who is right in the middle of the worst pain she's ever felt.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ultrasound and misc other stuff

Whoa.. this post is all over the place. Remind me not to blog before my morning coffee again... decaf or not, it really makes a difference.

The ultrasound went pretty well. I got to see all kinds of cool things, and there was only one measurement that I found a little worrisome (femur length), but even that probably only means Rice will have short legs.. since that's a classic trait found in my entire family, it's not something I'm going to get too worked up about (if I can help it). Especially since the tech said it wasn't such a difference that it was significant.

The one thing I didn't see was the gender. By choice. A choice which many of my friends and family find odd.

Some of them are downright annoying about it. I don't mind being teased a little. It's the ones who are serious that bother me.

If I hear "you really didn't find out?" or "couldn't they just write it down so I could know?" one more time, I'm going to start kicking people.

Here's the thing - this is MY baby and if I don't know, no one's going to know.. except B, and I think he already found out, but since it's his baby too, he's got the right to make that decision.. so long as he doesn't even breathe a whisper of a hint to me.. and he's doing pretty well with that*.

This is a big deal to me.

Because I have honestly reached the point where I don't care what gender Rice is. I always thought when other people said that, it was a little white lie... but the truth is, I don't care. Maybe that will change if I have to pack away the little dresses I've bought, but I don't think it will.

Part of this gender ambivalence is that I really enjoy being G's mom. Before he was born, I wasn't sure I wanted to be a boy-mom. Now that I've had time to really wallow in my son's boyness, I love it.

.. and part of this gender ambivalence is fear.

What if I have a daughter, and she inherits my PCOS?

I read a fascinating discussion on a message board about parents who conceive a child knowing that they had a significant chance of passing on a genetic disease. For the most part, the types of genetic abnormalities being discussed were far more serious than PCOS... but it still made me revisit that same fear.

I know I'm overthinking this - although there's a genetic link to PCOS, there's no clear evidence to say who will get it, and who will not. There's nothing that leads me to believe that the next 25 or 30 years won't bring about enough medical advancements that PCOS will be just a little blip in a medical chart, an anecdote that helps round out the whole picture.

I saw an interview with a doctor who specializes in treating patients with AIDS. He compared AIDS to diabetes, in that it's become a long-term treatable disease. Twenty years ago, it was a death sentence. A fast death sentence. I know that PCOS doesn't have the same funding or public awareness, but if we can take something as serious as AIDS and turn it into a treatable condition, with a decent long-term prognosis, then there's hope for my children.. hope that they'll never have to deal with this particular flavor of heartache.

.. and on that note, check this out:
PCOS Treatment and Awareness Petition

*currently his story is that the tech refused to tell him because I didn't want to know... even though she was aware that I was grudgingly ok with him finding out, and that I left the room specifically for that reason.. and despite the little gleam in his eye when he said that, I'm choosing to believe him. Otherwise I'd be nagging him to let me in on the secret and really, I don't want to know.