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Category Archives: Little Man

Back to why this all started…

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I started this blog back when I found out that I was donor conceived. I wanted a place to record and talk through this journey. What I’ve come to realize though, is that it’s not really a big deal to me. I think that’s why there have been frequent long periods of silence here. The only times my donor conception really come up are when I’m discussing the topic of donor conception or family medical history. Those really aren’t things I discuss that often. I’ve realized this is one of the smallest parts of what makes me “me”. The initial revelation was a bit rocky, knowing that my mom and dad had hidden this from me my entire life, but we’ve talked through all that, and I don’t feel that our relationship has been damaged by it. The key factor in my feeling that way is the fact that at the time of my conception, both of my parents were given the standard professional advice of the day. That was to never tell me about my conception. Fortunately, the attitudes of the professionals/experts have evolved in the 30+ years since.

Obviously, not all donor conceived persons feel like this is no big deal. There are also feelings of anger, betrayal , and loss. These reactions don’t seem to fall along lines of those who have “always” known and those with later life discoveries. There’s no pattern of those who didn’t necessarily have a great home life growing up holding the most anger.  I found that interesting. There are adults on the forums who claim that they had wonderful families growing up, but they are furious over the use of donor gametes. There are donor conceived people who fight against any kind of donor conception (this is a minority but a very vocal one) at all to those, like me, who have child(ren) via donors. So I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but here is where I am and have been for a while now.

Personally:

At one point, I was interested in identifying my donor so that I could get his medical history. Then, I found twenty.three.and.me which gave me a genetic health analysis that more than satisfied my needs. The interesting thing about that is that the results actually revealed that I was a carrier for a genetic condition through my mother’s side of the family that we had no idea about. Having satisfied the one real “need” related to finding my donor, I’ve found myself at a place where I have no desire to make contact with my donor or any of his other offspring.

On Donor Conception:

My feelings on donor conception are that it should definitely remain an option for people who could not otherwise create/expand their families. I lean heavily toward using open ID or known (actually KNOWN, not strangers found on a website) donors, but I’m not absolutely against anonymous donation. I encourage prospective parents to choose ID option or open donors, but do not fault them for making a different decision. More and more methods of finding genetic connections are popping up all the time. This makes me feel that before long, “anonymous” donors won’t have the same level of anonymity and that donor offspring will have easy access to the most important pieces of their genetic makeup without the need for open/ID option donors. This is the reason for my less than emphatic stance on this topic.

The one absolute in this whole thing for me boils down to honesty. Here and now, in 2013, when almost every expert would agree that hiding adoption from a child is wrong, why don’t we hold donor conception to the same standard? Why is it still socially acceptable to hide the truth from a donor conceived child? I absolutely cannot be quiet when I hear that someone plans to hide the truth from their child. The child in question may end up feeling like me, that it’s no big deal, or s/he might have a greater interest in some sort of connection. The point is that this is the choice of the child, not the parent. It is absolutely the responsibility of the parent to share all available information about the donor with the child. A parent is supposed to be trustworthy. Finding out that you have been betrayed by the person/people in your life who you are supposed to be able to trust the most is more damaging than any donor information could be.

If there was one piece of advice I could share with every family considering donor conception, it would be honesty above all else. THIS is the one thing that my discovery has made me adamant about. Lying and or hiding the truth about donor conception is the one aspect of this whole issue that I will always speak out against. I cannot think of a single justifiable reason to hide this from a child at this time in society. This information is part of the child’s story. S/he should have access to all of it and ultimately the control over what to do with it. The donor information BELONGS to the child, not his/her parents.

Contact with “Diblings” AKA Donor Siblings:

I don’t really have strong feelings one way or the other on reaching out to other families who used the same donor before the child is old enough to make that decision. For our family, we want Little Man to be in control as much as possible. So we try to do enough to keep as many options as we can open for him without making too many decisions before he can speak for himself. The decision of whether or not to contact donor “siblings” is a decision that should be made by each family according to their comfort level until the child is old enough to request more information. Once the child is old enough to make the decision on contact for him/herself, control should be handed over.

How my feelings have changed:

There was a time before learning about my own status that I was threatened by the thought that someday my non-biological child would want contact with his donor or the donor’s other offspring. When my mom told me that I was donor conceived, I realized that the feelings I have/had for my dad were not at all affected by the revelation. The only thing that changed regarding my relationship to my (only) father was that I felt even more loved knowing the extent my parents had gone to while TTC. This made me realize that my feelings about our son one day possibly wanting to reach out were completely based in fear. The idea that we should try to share as little as possible with him because *I* was scared was selfish. We will be honest with him when he asks questions, and we will provide him with age appropriate pieces of his story along the way without waiting for his questions. I hope that he always knows that he was the priority in ALL decisions we made throughout this process, and that if we fumble along the way that we were doing our best. He deserves nothing less. This is his story to tell, not ours.

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The journey gets harder…

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We tried with medicated IUIs in November and December with no success. In January, near the end of my TWW, I started spotting and was expecting my period to start any day. The spotting stopped, and my period didn’t come. So I took a test, and there they were, those two little pink lines telling us that we were pregnant. I called the RE’s office the following Monday. They had me go to the lab for a betaHCG (beta) blood test.

The nurse called that afternoon, and I could hear in her voice immediately that it wasn’t great news. My beta came back at 26. By that point in pregnancy (around 15 days post ovulation), they like to see a value of 100 or higher. She told me that I could’ve just implanted late, and we’d have to see how quickly my numbers doubled to know more. So, two days later I went back for another blood test. This time, my result was 65. That still wasn’t the 100 they were hoping for, but my numbers more than doubled in the 48 hour window, and the nurse was much more upbeat when she called. The call ended with a “Congratulations!”.

Still, I felt like something was wrong. My wife kept reassuring me that it was just my normal worrying nature. We were scheduled for a first ultrasound at 7 weeks to see the heartbeat for the first time. Unfortunately, my gut feeling was right. We wouldn’t make it that far.

During my sixth week of pregnancy, I started having cramps. I kept hearing that cramping in the first trimester was normal, but I knew deep down that this was not normal. It couldn’t be. This was as bad if not worse than my period cramps. Every time I went to the bathroom, I expected blood. Then, one afternoon during the last week of January, the cramps were so bad that I had to go to the ER. We had Little Man in tow, because we didn’t have anyone to leave him with on such short notice. With it being flu season, he and Mommy waited in the car until I got a private room in the ER. Then, we were informed that during flu season, children aren’t allowed in the ER at all unless they are the patient. So, everything that follows we went through with nothing but text messages between us.

In the ER, they did another beta and an ultrasound. The tech doing the ultrasound and the radiologist who reviewed it could not visualize anything in the uterus. During the ultrasound, the tech had warned me that it might just be too early to see anything, but I knew that this was the end. Back in the ER, my beta results were back. In over a week, my beta had less than doubled or had doubled and had already started to drop. I was given IV pain meds and admitted for observation. Not only was this pregnancy not viable, but also they were worried it was ectopic.

My wife called a friend to keep Little Man so that she could be with me during transfer and until I got settled in my room.  As they transferred me from the ER to my hospital room, I began to bleed. Even though I knew it was coming, the sight of blood was what finally reduced me to a sobbing heap… After a couple of hours, Mommy left to pick up Little Man, and they went home for the night. Being separated was so hard, and being there in the hospital alone wasn’t easy, but I knew that I wanted Little Man to be at home in his own bed for the night.

The next 36 hours or so are a complete blur. I was allowed no food and even worse, no water in case emergency surgery was necessary. Every 4 hours, my blood was drawn to make sure my hemoglobin levels were stable and that I wasn’t bleeding internally. The OBs on call determined that my severe pain was from a complex (meaning blood or fluid filled) ovarian cyst. After 24+ hours of my hemoglobin levels being stable, I was released with instructions for follow-up betas and an office visit with the OBs that had been on call during my stay. I went home and I cried and slept and cried some more.

The next couple weeks were filled with the ever constant reminder that I was losing the pregnancy, the bleeding. I dreaded going to the bathroom, because it meant looking at all that blood. I was off work for the rest of the week until we got my pain under control. Then, I had to go back to work and pretend like my heart wasn’t breaking. None of these people even knew that we were TTC, let alone that I had been pregnant the last time they’d seen me. Even though I’d felt like something was wrong all along, and even though we’d never even gotten to the point of seeing our bean on an ultrasound, we still felt this loss and still needed to grieve. I had let myself imagine a 2013 Christmas with two little ones in the house. I had started to think about all the things that would be our last as a family of three. Now, that was no longer going to be our reality.

I bled for weeks. It stopped the day of my follow-up with the OB. I had another beta level drawn at that appointment. My levels had returned to pre-pregnancy numbers. This meant that my body was ready to TTC again once my period returned. Because my beta numbers had dropped all the way without intervention, and my pain had ended, the doctor finally said conclusively that the pregnancy was not ectopic.

That’s all I can write for now. I’ll continue in future posts.

The WHOLE box

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I saw this graphic on F@cebook today. It made me think of my little man.

One of Little Man’s absolute favorite things to do right now is color with his chunky crayons. Often with one crayon in each hand coloring at the same time. He’ll scribble and point and tell us what he just drew. More often than not, he’s drawn a cat. He gasps with delight when we draw one of his favorite things on the paper for him. I know the graphic isn’t meant literally, but the thoughts brought a smile to my face. I hope he continues to color “with the whole box” with that same enthusiasm. Always.

Thoughts on dads

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Back when we first began our journey to have a child, I obviously knew that s/he wouldn’t have a dad. I did, however, imagine the roles that our dads, Grandpa L and Grandpa B, would play in his/her life. I always imagined that Father’s Day would be devoted to the doting grandfathers. Sadly, just over a month after our first attempt at TTC, Grandpa L passed away suddenly from a short battle with Lymphoma. About three and a half long years later, we finally got the wonderful news that we were indeed expecting. Five days later, we lost Grandpa B (my dad) to complications related to his paralysis. That first year, at least, after my dad’s passing was spent grieving my loss. As time has passed, I’ve transitioned into grieving more for Little Man’s loss. I’m sad that he won’t have these incredible grandpas who his moms were so lucky to call “Dad”. My mind knows that the gender of Little Man’s parents matters far less than the fact that he has two of us who love him with all that we are. My heart still hurts that he’ll miss out. I’m quite capable of teaching Little Man how to wield a hammer, throw a football, and bait a hook, but I have not and never will be one of the guys… He was supposed to have his grandfathers for that.

I realize that this perspective may be controversial to some in my community. I’m not saying that my son NEEDS a dad. I just wish that he had our dads around, because I have such fond memories of the relationship I had with mine.

Busy but good

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Little Man turned one at the end of May. Planning his celebration with friends and family was fun. Seeing how much he enjoyed it all (except for the moment he was overwhelmed by the room full of people singing to him) was absolutely fantastic! Over the past few weeks, he has started walking and talking. Watching him gain the confidence to “let go” and just walk is such a joy. He’s so proud of himself (as are his mommies). His first word was “cat” which actually sounds more like “at”. He first said it one morning when we were all hanging out on our bed. One of the cats jumped up to join us, and totally without prompting, he said “AT!” His vocabulary also includes “light”, “hot”, “out”, and “up”. We’re still waiting to hear “Mommy” or “Momma”. 😉 Between his first birthday, summer travels, and some other things going on in our lives, I just haven’t had a lot of time to update. I’ll try to be better in the future.

Biology is the least of what makes a family

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I can say that with more certainty than ever before. My cousin’s DNA results finally came back. We have basically 0% blood relation. This means what I’ve suspected for a year now. Approximately half of my DNA was passed down from an anonymous donor. My daddy is not my biological father. He is however, my father in every way that matters.

I think a lot of people expect me to be upset about this…to need time to process…time to grieve. The thing is, I feel like I’ve already done all of that. This time last year, my mom told me that they had sought help getting pregnant, that donor semen was involved, and that she wasn’t sure if my dad was my biological father. I processed so much then, that now, more than anything, I just feel relief at having an answer. The only aspect of this that has been emotionally difficult for me is that it makes me miss my daddy. My grief over losing him is intertwined with this quest for information.

Most of the people in my family who know about all this thought for sure that my DNA would show that daddy was my biological “father”. I share so many physical and even temperamental characteristics with him. It just goes to show how so much of what we attribute to biology is also heavily influenced by environment. On the same note, my wife took a picture of our son and me the other day. He and I were both looking into the camera. When I saw the picture, I was amazed at how much alike we looked…at how we were making almost identical expressions. I know in my heart that my father loved me as much as I love this little boy, and really, that’s all that matters.

Sneaky feelings

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The other day, a friend shared an incredibly beautiful photo of the moment her little one entered the world. I was overcome with emotion. Part of it was the beauty of that moment and the photo, and part of it was grief that I missed that moment with Little Man and Mommy. I didn’t even recognize before that moment that I had such a strong feeling of loss. Because of the emergent nature of Little Man’s delivery, there are no pictures of that moment in the delivery room, no pictures of the three of us celebrating his arrival. I didn’t get to be there at all. I knew that seeing photos that people post of those moments shortly after delivery caused a twinge of jealousy, but I did not realize how profound my sense of loss was until this moment.

Some people will read that and think that this is ridiculous. I agree that it’s important to focus on the fact that we have a happy healthy little guy as a result of that delivery. I do not deny for a moment that having him here and healthy should be the main focus, but I think that doing that doesn’t require dismissing my feelings at the loss of that experience. In fact, just giving myself the moment to recognize my feelings and have a good cry the other day, already helped. My hope in sharing this is that it helps someone else who may be in a similar situation know that they are not alone.