Tuesday, January 22, 2019

To my donor, on Samantha's birthday

I've been thinking about you with some frequency lately, because Samantha turned 1 the other day.

You gave us a cell that when brought together with Viking's cell, created a baby that makes me fucking weep with joy on a pretty regular basis.

If you ever choose to allow her to contact you personally in the future - and I hope you do - I want you to know the following:

 - She has her father's face.  Except her nose, I am pretty sure that's from you.
 - Her sister - who also shares her face - and our cat make her eyes light up. They're blue, like her dad's, except they twinkle more than his.  His Dad's eyes do that too.
- She is insanely musical. The jury is of course out on what path this will look like, but she responds to music in a way that is different from how her talented dancer sister did.  It's like she feels it, you can see songs coursing through her. Now, this could come from her Dad (the kind of guy who can pick up an instrument and teach himself to play it).  But it could have also come from you - your talents and musical family were one of the things that drew me to your profile.
 - I do believe in epigenetics.  There's something in her wide smile that looks a whole lot like mine. Her smile sort of looks like she of takes large bites out of life, a pretty good description of mine as well.
 - Her origin story is completely intertwined to my loss story.  Only through so many losses did I arrive at the moment where I could continue forward without my own genetics.  Turning to a (semi)anonymous donor to have a baby was honestly the closest thing to jumping off a cliff I've even done.
- I can't begin to express the joy that she has brought me from the moment doctors put her in my arms.  She burrowed into me. And eventually, when she could open her eyes, she stared into mine, deeply.  And today, when she burrows into me, and stares into my eyes, she smiles, deeply.
 - She will learn her origin story, and eventually, as she owns it, her sister will too. It won't be sprung on her like a shameful secret, it will unroll as she gets older with more detail.  I am steeling myself for the day when she matter-of-factly tells her friends that she was the product of a donor egg pregnancy. I'm also doing everything I can as a mother to make sure her sister will never ever say some stupid shit to her in a tantrum, like, I'm not her mom.
 - I believe it's my responsibility as her mother to ensure she can have as much information as she needs about her origins.  I have a flash drive with all of the pictures you provided to the clinic, as well as all of your written questionnaires. I keep it with our passports and other important documents and have told her Dad to make sure he knows to drag it out of the house if I'm ever gone and the house is burning down.
 - I am her biological mother.  I carried her, I delivered her, and I nursed her for a year. I am hoping that I am the only woman she ever considers her mother. But I won't erase you, she wouldn't exist without you. That said, I hope - really hope - that you never EVER refer to her as one of your children.
 - I'm hoping that you are at peace with what you did.  I hope the clinic gave you the medical and emotional support you need to move forward with your own life, with happiness and health.

Well, I guess that's pretty much it for now.


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Tex Mex for the memories

The last few weeks have felt a bit blurry, like a marathon.  I took the girls to NYC to be with my parents during Christmas, while Viking stayed behind to spend some time with his Dad and brother.

As always my mom and dad were kind and general champs about having so many people in their tiny apartment, but also as always, it was really nice to get back to my comfy - albeit messy- house.  Samantha would NOT SLEEP in her pack and play and since we were sharing a room - with Niblet, and I couldn't let her cry because the neighbors wouldn't take a crying baby very gracfeully, well, it was fucking exhausting.

I spent some quality time with one of my oldest best friends. "She's [Niblet] 2.0!" said my friend R, as we strolled around Bryant Park's holiday market.  "Wait she's even more [Viking] than Niblet was, that smirk she has, those blue eyes..." he continued. Yeah, tell me about it.  It was surreal walking around NYC with a baby in a carrier attached to me.  I used to stare longingly at women in the City during wintertime, with their babies all tight and snug.

When we returned to Baltimore we were as close to saying AAAAHHHHHHH as any tired family could.  And we spent some time with Viking and did a day trip to Winterthur, the DuPont family mansion in Delaware, taking one of Nibble's friends with us.

So here's a thing I've alluded to before: My clinic was in Delaware was chosen because it was the only clinic that was easily accessible to me which offered people seeking healthy eggs semi-anonymous donors.  In other words, she could potentially be contacted by Samantha when Samantha is 18.  I don't spend a lot of time thinking about Samantha's genetics.  I think about it them often as I think of Niblet's I suppose - will Niblet need x, w, z health screenings based on her family history, for example.  I do often look at Samantha's nose with wonder because it's the only clue that she is spring from a different genetic tree.  But this kid is so obviously blended into her paternal line, it's really not something I get hung up about.

But this weekend I really wanted to eat at the Mexican restaurant Viking and I lunched at while I was cycling. I was a little emotional about it, Viking, not so much, I'm not sure it registered the same way. Have I mentioned that all I wanted to eat before and during that pregnancy was Tex-Mex?  Niblet and her friend who joined us completely balked but being the hungry grownups in the car who really wanted fucking enchiladas, we prevailed.  It was a weirdly comforting meal, eating at a place where the whole science-y shebang of Samantha's conception really began.  I know there are DE moms who struggle with their feelings about not having a genetic link to their babies, I guess I got lucky.  While I don't shout our third-party reproduction to the hilltops, I'm really at peace with it.

But the cycling itself is like a dream.  I saw an Instagram picture I posted of myself years ago, taken  at a work retreat I attended when I was self-administering injections on the sly. I was cleaning out my bedroom and found a stash of needles.  Many people know I used IVF to have this baby, I'm completely honest about THAT.  Hell, a few weeks ago a woman in the grocery store who was sharing a bit too much on the checkout line asked me if I came by my baby naturally.  Nope, I had a little help I replied.  (BTW, I told Niblet about this conversation, and my 9YO astutely commented: She probably really needed someone to talk to.  God, my child...)

I will probably be more open about using DE too, but not for some time - I am maintaining a personal rule that it is no one's business until Samantha herself understands it and comes to terms with it.

To be honest, I feel something like survivor's guilt from these experiences.  Sure, it took six years to have this baby.  Sure, I experienced grief and lows from my losses that still punch me in the gut today.  But I have a baby. A beautiful healthy girl who is starting to cruise around the living room and can say "cat" who even charms her very tempestuous tweenaged sister.

I hope beyond hope that I do right by these children that I am insanely fortunate to have.