Friday, July 27, 2012

I hate BFNs

After a long hiatus from blogging, Io is back and recently found our her IVF cycle didn't work.  Her blog was one of the first ones I read when I discovered this community back in 2009.

Please go show her some love.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

PAIL Bloggers July 2012 Monthly Theme Post-- Family Building

Note: This post was written as part of PAIL Bloggers July 2012 Monthly Theme Post. If you don't know about PAIL (stands for Pregnant and/or Parenting through Adoption/Infertility/Loss), follow the links to learn more.

Have you completed your family building or are you considering trying to add another child to your family?

Our family is (probably) complete.  We will certainly not be having any more biological children.  (I say "probably" because I still hold out a small hope that, perhaps later, when the boys are in school, MM will consider adopting a daughter from foster care.  Not an infant, and not a child older than our sons, but a preschool-aged girl.  BUT there are a lot of contingencies which would have to fall into place--in addition to MM's approval--before that could happen. . . . too many to even go into here, that would be another post of its own.)

What does your “complete” family look like? Has this changed along your infertility journey?

More likely than not, our complete family looks like the family we have today: MM, AJ & MJ, and me.

This has definitely changed over my adulthood and along our infertility journey.  At one time, I had hoped to have three children.  After marrying MM, an only child, at age 37, we had discussed having just one child.  We ended up with twins through fertility treatment.

Do you think there is such a thing as “optimal” child-spacing? What do you think this is, and what do you base it on?

In my opinion, there are some approaches which seem to work better than others, but at the same time, I believe this to be highly personal and individual.  Some people love the idea of parenting a whole passel of kids who are close in age--and getting the sleepless nights/diapers/crying phase out of the way all at once--while others prefer to be able to stagger things by a few years so that they never have more than one child in diapers or more than one college tuition bill to pay down the road.  (My granny used to say she never wanted to have more than one "baby" at a time, which is why there are six years or more between my father and each of his siblings.)  And that's to say nothing of the people who think having just one child to be ideal.

As a new-ish mom of twins, I will say this: people who think having twins would be "fun" are in for a rude awakening.  LOL.  Yes, there are some things about having twins which are unique and fun, but it's a whole different ball game than having one baby at a time, and it's very, very difficult in the beginning.

Are you factoring in how far apart your children would be in your decision to start trying again? How so?


If you are planning to add to your family, what considerations must you take into account (i.e. beginning treatment again, pursuing adoption again, finances, etc.)

There are several.  First, there is no chance of our having any more biological children.  My pregnancy and delivery were far too difficult for me to ever go through either again.  (Yes, it's true that I don't know that a subsequent pregnancy or delivery would be as hard. . . . but it's also true that I can't know that it wouldn't be.  At 41, with twin boys already, I'm just not willing to take that risk.)  There can be no doubt as to our resolve on this point: we have already donated our remaining frozen embryos to another couple, and MM will be getting a vasectomy next month.  Because our infertility was "unexplained," neither of wants to take the chance--however small--that I might get pregnant by accident.

Second are the logistical considerations.  As we joke, we currently are able to play a "man to man" defense: each of us cares for one baby.  (We do switch off frequently so that neither of our sons is with either of us more often than the other.)  If we increased our family size to three, we'd have to move to a "zone" defense; we'd be outnumbered.  Also, our house is not large and only has three bedrooms, none of which are very big.  I'm perfectly OK with keeping the boys together until they are a little older, but they may well reach an age where they need/want more space.  In our current house, we could simply convert the office/guest room into one of their bedrooms.  With a third child, we'd be short a bedroom. . . . we'd have to move or be very cramped.

Third are the financial considerations.  Because I'd never want to be accused of complaining, I won't even post here how much having a nanny for our boys is costing us. . . . and she's only there four days a week, eight hours a day.  (By the way, another downside of twins: daycare for two infants wouldn't cost much less than the nanny.)  Add in the costs of formula, diapers, etc., etc., and having a child is by no means cheap.  And this is just discussing the shorter-term financial considerations, not even getting into what it would cost us to buy the bigger house and vehicle(s) we'd need if we added a third child or the costs of college and activities for a third child and the like.

Knowing what you know now, what are your emotional considerations in trying for a second (or third, or fourth, etc.)?

Honestly, for me, there would be no emotional considerations in adding a third child to our family.  I absolutely love being a mother, and I have no doubt whatsoever that I would love any child placed in my care.  (That's one of the reasons I was OK with using DE to conceive.)  But that's also because we would not do so through fertility treatments, or even through TTC on our own.  (Adopting a child from the foster care system would come with its own emotional considerations and frustrations, but right now, the possibility of our even taking that path is too far distant for me to really entertain thoughts about what it would be like.)

Readers, what about you?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Genetics are a funny thing

(WARNING: children discussed)

Having conceived our sons through the use of donated ova, I have never had any expectation that they would resemble me in any way.  Sure, I imagine that through the years of their growing up, while they are strongly under my influence, they may well acquire certain traits from me, like patterns of speech and behavior, but anything innate will come from either MM or the donor.

(On a related side note: I've thought often over the past months since our sons have been born how raising children conceived through donor gametes will be, in some ways, an unintentional longtitudinal study of how "nature vs. nurture" plays out.  Fascinating.)

Far from being upsetting to me, I find this fact rather freeing.  I think there is a natural human tendency to look at our children and think "Oh, that's just like me" or "That's just like my sister/father/mother/grandmother/cousin."  Because I have zero expectation that anything about my sons will come from my genes, I feel I am more able to enjoy discovering them for themselves, rather than as a reflection of my relatives or myself.

I've long observed that there are some families where all the children seem to resemble one parent, families where some of the children resemble one parent and other children the other parent, families where the children look like a mix of the parents, and families where the children look nothing like either parent.

From the day they were born, both MJ and AJ have strongly resembled MM and his father.  (I often tell them that they are "little M____s".)  As a newborn, MJ looked almost exactly like MM as a newborn, apart from the fact that his hair was/is brown while MM's was/is blonde.  Their hair grew in similar patterns, even though the colors were different.  He even acted the same way at birth: alert, eyes wide open and looking around, while only a few minutes out of the womb.

AJ's little face was so skinny at birth (because, at 34 weeks, he hadn't had time to lay down any fat deposits yet) that it was hard to see a resemblance to anyone.  In an odd way, he reminded me of my father at first.  Not because he necessarily looked like him, but there was just something about looking into his face that was remeniscent of looking at my father for me.  (I was the only one who thought this, BTW.)  It did look like he had MM's hairline and forehead, and I thought he'd have MM's ears once his were no longer smooshed from positioning in utero.

As AJ has grown and his face has filled in, he has looked more and more like MM.  And my MIL dug out some baby photos of my FIL, and AJ looks nearly identical to his grandfather at the same age.  (My FIL, unlike MM, had brown hair as a baby.)  MM bears a strong resemblance to his father, and when you look at AJ and MM in profile, there is a strong resemblance there as well.  Everyone who meets the boys comments on it.

So where are our donor N's genes in all this?  At this point, it's hard to tell.  Both our sons have brown hair, but MM's father is a brunette, so even that is not necessarily attributable to her.  AJ's eyes have changed hue ever so slightly so that they look like they might eventually be green--like N's--but MJ's eyes are deepening into a true blue.  (I've read, though, that eye color can still change up to age 3, so the jury is still out on both their ultimate eye colors.)

Our boys have very different builds: although they are close in length, MJ weighs about 2 lbs more than AJ.  MJ is stocky (and a little chubby) while AJ is "long and lean."  But there again, I don't necessarily think that their builds at not-quite-6 months of age are what they will be when they are older.

In terms of personality and temperament, it also seems a bit early to be able to come to any conclusions.  In the beginning, MJ was more demanding and needy, but that has changed over the past couple of months.  Now AJ much more often demands to be held or has a "meltdown" if a need (or desire) of his is not immediately addressed, while MJ is (usually) content to wait.  (It also helps that MJ is very physical and would rather be rolling around on the floor than be held unless he is sleepy.)

Still, I do notice certain resemblances in personality and temperament to MM as well.  AJ seems not to like change, and he shows signs of being a picky eater.  (Both traits of MM's.)  MJ is very high energy and active, much as my MIL has said MM was as a child (and still kind-of is).

One thing I will say, honestly: the fact that both boys physically resemble my husband has made dodging questions about their conception easier for me.  Naturally there are a fair number of people in our lives who do not know that they were conceived with donor eggs.  Now, when those people notice that our sons look nothing like me, they just assume that MM's genes beat mine out, apart from the brown hair.  If one or both of our boys looked exactly like the donor, it might raise more questions.  (Although, I will also say that I purposely picked a donor with enough physical resemblance to me to avoid that possibility.)

It will be interesting to see how our boys develop over time.

Monday, July 16, 2012


(WARNING: children mentioned/discussed)

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am not a cook.  (I actually lack quite a few of the skills traditionally considered domestic, but that's a topic for another post.)  I would actually have to sit down and really think about it to tell you the last time I prepared a meal in our kitchen. . . . that is, if you don't count "preparing" frozen entrees in the microwave, sticking a frozen pizza in the oven or dishing up take-out as preparing a meal.

You might think "well, of course you don't have time to cook; you have twin infants and work full time outside the home."  Yes, both true. . . . but I almost never cooked even before our boys were born.  It's just not something that I do, and my husband doesn't care--preferring to eat the same convenience foods (hot dogs, frozen pizzas and the like) that he ate as a bachelor or take-out--so I've never worked on acquiring that particular skill.  (I always thought getting married would inspire me because I'd have someone to cook for.  But that only works if the person you marry will eat the things you cook.)

Despite my lack of skills in the kitchen, I have long planned to make my boys' food.  As you know from this post, I was unable to breast feed.  Having not been able to give our sons the benefits of the best nutrition early in life, I have felt even more determined to do what I can to positively impact their growth and development through wholesome food.  I'm also hoping that they will enjoy the fresh vegetables and fruits much more than canned varieties of the same and that this will help shape their tastebuds and make them less likely to be finicky eaters.

Several people had told me how easy it is to make purees, but most of these people cook meals regularly.  I wasn't sure if it would be that easy for someone like me, who doesn't cook.

A friend whose daughter is 2 sent me this book: Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler.  (This friend is the one I wrote about in this post, whose daughter was born on what would've been my due date had our "chemical pregnancy" of August 2009 gone to term.)  She, too, assured me that making purees was easy. . . . but she is a foodie who cooks for fun and loves to entertain.

[On an unrelated side note. . . . I didn't know before reading this book that Norah O'Donnell--who has been a correspondent for NBC news and co-authored the book with her chef husband--had twins.  Wonder if she did fertility treatment?]

You know what?  Making purees IS super easy!  Even for someone like me who is not-at-all-adept in the kitchen.

I made the boys' first purees this weekend, all from local, seasonal organic produce I bought at the farmers' market.  I can't get over how easy it was!  And now I have four ziploc freezer bags of carrots, sweet potatoes and peaches just waiting to be fed to my sons.  (They will get their first veggie, carrots, on Friday evening.)

My plan is to make two or three veggie or fruit purees every weekend when I have time.  (They are good for up to three months in the freezer.)  That way I won't be forced to necessarily prepare food every weekend, just in case I have too many other things happening on a particular weekend.

I am totally inspired to continue doing this.  And who knows?  Maybe this will finally provide the push I need to actually acquire some culinary skills.

I'll let you know what the boys think of their purees once they try them.  (I sampled each and thought they tasted pretty good.)  That will be the real test.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A few recent shots of our boys

(I took these down after seven days on 7/15/12.  If you are reading this post after 7/15/12 and are a regular reader, email me at the address in my profile, and I will share.)