Monday, October 29, 2007

An Onion

When I think about the big question here, and I'm talking about whether to try and expand my family, I think about peeling an onion. So many layers that I'm not sure where to even begin -- it's all so overwhelming that I usually don't get far beyond the brown paper part and suddenly I'm running for the hills.

That, or I think about one of those flow charts -- you know, "I want a baby!" If you want it by some of your own genetic material, go HERE, if no, go HERE:

But it quickly looks like this:

The choices seem so big, each of them so hard to tackle individually, how could I possibly sort through the entire process? Do I want to be pregnant again? Could I do it without completely losing my mind and giving myself preeclampsia from the high blood pressure I'm sure to develop? (Good lord, just sitting here writing about it gives me palpitations.) Very good money-down odds that the medical establishment will not have uncovered Maddy's problem by the time I need to get moving on this question. That means no amount of prenatal testing could shield us from another disaster. Ergo, should I consider egg or sperm donation to get one Awful set of genes out of the mix, and if yes, which and why? This is entirely begging the question, could I get pregnant again? Could I handle the heartache of a negative pregnancy test, a run-of-the-mill miscarriage (bwah), finding out at 11 or 16 weeks that there's a problem, finding out after giving birth that this awful thing has happened all over again? Could I even enjoy another child when I have trouble finding joy in the one I currently have? Does this mean that I'd have some serious hangups with adoption? Is adoption the karmic answer: a daughterless mother adopting a motherless daughter? Am I ready for the rejection, setbacks, and possible medical snafus that can happen on the adoption front? Do I really want another child, or do I want Maddy back? Or both?

You see what I mean? I need a drink. Back in a sec. Talk amongst yourselves.

Ok. As much as I'd like to put off this question until I'm in a warm lavender scented bath and the answer just washes over me, I sorta have to think about it. Now. I'm in my mid thirties in my late thirties in my upper thirties. Let's just say I'm an age that rhymes with Dirty Gate. So it's not like I have years of luxurious baths to wallow in, know what I mean? And then there's the whole infertility thing, seeing as I require a bit of poking and handholding and pills and whatnot in order to even attempt to get pregnant. So if I'm thinking about it again, I should probably think about it sooner than later. Like tomorrow.

Just not now.

So I'm trying to figure out where to even begin this discussion with myself (and, well, you) so I don't get overwhelmed and I don't even know where to do that because within seconds my brain is spinning down the path of endless, scary, deadbaby questions.

But what keeps popping into my mind when I try and focus on this for a few seconds (FOCUS PEOPLE!) is that really fucked up and wildly overquoted Tennyson line: "'Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all." Which right now I think is a ton of bullshit. When Mr. ABF stares at Bella in wonder and says, "how could we not have another?" I respond, usually tearing up, "How can I lose another?" I simply don't know if I'm strong enough to endure more heartache. I cannot at the present wrap my head around optimism, joy in numbers, comfort in more love. I can't even imagine it. To me, right now, there is no pre-Maddy or post-Maddy; like a historian, I'm now reexamining the past through the lens of the present. I can't even enjoy photos of Bella as a baby, because instead of reliving the loveliness (or exhaustion as it were) of that time, I now stare at the photographs with the eye of an expert witness and wonder what Maddy would look like at that age. What color would her eyes be? Would she be as solid as her sister? Would her hair also have a slight strawberry tinge to it? Am I cursed to live the rest of my life looking through this lens, constantly re-evaluating everything given Maddy's loss? If so, is it really fair to bring a baby into this? One I'll just stare at and use as a vehicle to wonder about her sister, and not enjoy right in front of me?

It boggles the mind. And it means that I can't really fathom bringing another being into my family, at least not right at this minute. Maybe tomorrow. Or next week. But I'm running out of time, and need to deconstruct some of this onion, stat.

By the way, Tennyson's Memoriam has much better lines, in my opinion. Case in point:

That loss is common would not make
My own less bitter, rather more:
Too common! Never morning wore
To evening, but some heart did break.


meg said...

Well, Tash, you know I have no words of wisdom! I'm just completely lost in thinking about all of this.

Let me know if you find the answers to all these questions. I really, really need a flow chart of my own.

Thanks for all the great comments on my blog. You may have a lot of questions, like the ones you've posed here, but you sure have some good ideas about my particular questions.

niobe said...

Tennyson's usually not my cup of tea -- but I like the lines from Memoriam.

I'm pretty sure that I know what *I'd* do in your circumstances, but that doesn't help you at all, because my thoughts, feelings, weighing of risks and benefits are likely to have absolutely nothing to do with yours. And, certainly, I'm not suggesting that any choice that someone else might make is the "right" or "best" one.

The only piece of advice I would offer (that is, if you want advice. If not, just skip the rest of this comment) is to try and figure out which two or three choices sound most appealing to you. It's not that you have to decide now or even to definitively narrow down your choices. You can always change your mind later. It's just a way that I've found helps me to get a little more clarity and lets me tell myself that there's no need to make a decision *right now.*

Tash said...

Curious Niobe, what would you do?

Megan said...

I don't know if I can withstand a third loss but I don't have any choice. All the ambivalence about motherhood I felt when I was pregnant with Georgia is gone. In its place is a desperate hunger to have a baby and a realization I may never be happy again until I do.
That's just me. I don't have another child to consider. I don't have unanswered questions about what happened to my lost baby and whether it will happen again.
(At the moment, the official diagnosis seems to be unlucky.)
But in the end, the hunger has to trump the fear.
When that happens, you can start sifting through the options. I think you'll know what to do.

niobe said...

Tash: Because I'm extremely risk averse, if I decided I wanted another child, I'd (as you put it) take the genetics out of the equation and use donor gametes (probably donor sperm, just because it's so much cheaper and less complicated).

But that's just me.

Some people (and maybe you or your husband are one of them) feel very strongly about having biological children and that's something you'd have to factor into your decision.

Searching said...

I have some of those same questions and have not suffered a loss. The thoughts of preemies or any of the zillion things that go wrong in our poor trainwreck kids have me stuck like a deer in headlights, unable to move. Spaghetti chart indeed. I absolutely do NOT know what to do, for anyone. I think for you, you made a start just by writing all this. And Miss Dirty Gate, your little one didn't die all that long ago in the grand scheme of things. Maybe wait till after her "anniversaries" and come back to this post, see how you feel. It's holiday season now and you will be stressed enough with all that. (Or not, but holidays stress me out and I don't want to deal with more "When are you having kids?" questions!) Thinking about you.

kate said...

Those are better lines, indeed.

It's true what searching says about the holidays...can you put off the decision just until January? It may be clearer.

For us, we never got any answers about Nicolas' death at all, but there was that desperate hunger for another baby that Megan speaks of.

samill said...

Genetic questions aside, I say go for it. Or at least project into the future when there is no more chance of conceiving and try and imagine how it would feel if you didn't try again.

Beruriah said...

No words of wisdom on this one either. I think the advice to consider what it would feel like not to have tried may be prescient and wise. I was blessed to not need to think too hard about the decision. I can tell you I personally think it was the right thing for us, even as my blog makes subsequent pregnancy sound like a living hell.

Oh and I forgot to respond to your admission that you're an Early Americanist as well. Very cool - if intimidating since I think you have a job....