"Self pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in the world."
- Helen Keller1880-1968, Blind and Deaf Educator

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why do you want to be a mother?

The answer to this question is complicated and can vary greatly from woman to woman. One thing I know for sure is that I have always wanted to be a mommy. I still recall the baby doll my mom gave me as holiday gift. I must have been about 7 or 8. I unwrapped the box, and in a rectangular wicker box was a life-sized infant baby doll. She was one of those dolls that you could feed and change. I was so excited that I had this special baby of my own to care for and love.

Is the most important aspect of motherhood the passing on a genetic link for future generations? This creates a possibility of genetic immortality- ones DNA can continue on through time until that branch of the family tree ends. There is something very comforting in that. My grandmother Sally, for example, had a strikingly beautiful color of hazel eyes. She passed that gene onto my father who, in turn, gave that to me. This side of my family link also gave me strong teeth and, at 40, not one cavity. I also got my nearly perfect eye sight from my paternal ancestry. The only glasses on that side of the family come with advancing age. While none of this may really be all that important in the grand scheme of things, it always strikes me as pleasing when I look at photos of my grandma, my dad and I. There we are, standing together, with the same eyes, same teeth.

Possibly more important than eye color is the legacy that was passed down through generations. My characteristics, values and perspective on the world were formed, in part, by how my grandparents raised my parents and, in turn, how they raised me. My grandma Sally had a witty sense of humor, exuded sensuality, was classy and held herself with grace. She had self confidence, was assertive and went after her dreams. No one could tell her she couldn't if she really wanted something. I like to think that those are but some of the traits she gave to me and those that I want to share with the world as part of her legacy. I want my children to have high integrity, a sense of priority towards family and community, and to learn to love deeply. I want my children to believe they can do or be or have anything they want and have the confidence to go after their dreams. I am so glad that Doug feels it is of the utmost importance that our children believe they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. So often as a child he was told he "couldn't" accomplish things-because of this, he wants the kids to have that confidence to go after their goals.

The idea of creating a family with Doug is also very important. Part of this has to do with the idea of blending the two of us into one- a genetic soup, if you will. The other piece of this is that it feel like the natural next step to grow an extension of our deep love. If Doug and I are great together, having a couple additions can help complete our family. It is the natural next step. I envision setting up the tent in the back yard on a warm summer evening, watching Doug teach the children how to ice skate, going to Sox games as a family, sitting at the kitchen table and helping with homework. It is the simple idea of parenting that brings great joy when I think about it. Nothing glamorous- just doing the every day mommy things.

I have never been a quitter. I think that is why I have been so successful in my life. I am a troubleshooter. I get things done. I go after my dreams and make things happen. That is one reason why this fertility journey has been so painful- I just figured if I put my mind to it, I would be able to have this dream. This month marks the official 4-year mark of my ttc. I never thought I would be here still with no children of my own. 13 IUI's, 2 IVFs, a whole lot of well-timed sex and the only thing to show for it was one traumatic second trimester loss and one very early miscarriage. When do I decide enough is enough?

I was on a Resolve conference call last week with a fertility expert and the topic was decreased ovarian reserve. This diagnosis may be made when you look at a whole host of signs- putting them together and it paints a picture. At age 40, I am now considered of advanced maternal age. At age 20, 80% of eggs produced monthly are considered genetically normal. By age 40, 80% are considered abnormal, causing a decreased ability to conceive and implant. My FSH levels are considered borderline high. While I have been known to dip below 10 once in a while, my numbers tend to range from about 10.1 to 14.2. This range does not exclude me from being able to have fertility treatment, but it does point to a lower statistical rate of success. Finally, my body's response has been low even to high levels of fertility meds. The fertility expert on the call said that if a woman only produces 1-3 mature eggs with high levels of meds, this may be indicative of low ovarian reserve. He said high levels of FSH were about 200 IU. I have been routinely prescribed 450 IU (the maximum does allowed) and have, at most, produced 3 mature follicles. I asked the question of the doctor- "if I was your sister, how many cycles would you suggest before moving on to other family building options?" His answer was 3 cycles.

There are so many motivations for having children- I guess it is my job to figure out what is most important. My doctor is willing to continue with the IUIs for as long as I am willing to try. After all, I did get pregnant last year so we know I can. Even if the statistics are not in my favor, pregnancy is not impossible. However, I have spent 4 years consumed with this goal. I can accomplish motherhood in a variety of ways.

Simply put, I wonder if I am wasting precious time being unhappy and missing out on motherhood in my attempts to become a mother.

Why do you want to be a mother? What would you tell me if I were your sister?


mrsmuelly said...

Wow, whatn an amazing and insightful post. Firstly, why do we want to be moms? I hadn't thought of it in the terms you brought about. Thank you...and your g-ma Sally sounds very much like my own. It's amazing the impact that those people have on our lives. My immediate reaction to the question - I want to share my love, and the love of my DH. I guess this falls into the "natural progression" idea.

With the fertility treatments, that's so very hard. It's so individual and only you can decide (although I don't think you're asking for advice). My thoughts are that you DID defy the odds last year. You CAN do it again. But the next step is your decision with your DH. Bottom line is that you are going to be a fabulous mommy no matter how that baby gets here.

Cara said...

My doll's name was Elizabeth. She was my first baby. I totally relate to the life-long desire to be a mother.

No answers...just head nodding and wishing willful thinking could make it happen.

Kami said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dreamsandfalsealarms said...

For myself, I've needed a 'closure' cycle before moving on to DE. If the finances are there for you, I'd tell you do one more IVF with your eggs, and then it's time to look at the options.

Contemplating DE has made me really deeply examine why I want to be a mother. As all of the old reasons have fallen away, I am wondering how, and if, I can reconnect to wanting to be a mother.

Mostly, you can only be where you are. If your still wanting to try with your eggs, that is where you are. If you are starting to imainge that DE baby, then you are moving towards that, internally. I wish there was a formula. But if there was, I'd say I hate math.

dreamsandfalsealarms said...

Hey, I managed to post in the past tense. I think that is because my next (and last) IVF starts a week from yesterday, and I'm talking about my needs in Dec...Also I apologize for the odd puncutation and spelling.

Kami said...

I deleted my comment because when I thought about it was just a bunch of nothing.

I think you will grow more certain about moving on if it comes to that. The good thing about donor eggs is they aren't getting any older.

I still wish you peace and joy no matter how it turns out.

I decided I wanted to be a mother - not just 'someday' but really wanted to be a mother while I was in the Peace Corps and the little kids didn't care about my color, my (imagined) money, nor my inability to speak their language.

Anonymous said...

While you question is rhetoric - you still are seeking...When you become a mother you will look back on this journey from a different perspecive. Living in the moments of it is much more difficult. You have the love and spirit to share and you and Doug shall pass along the values, beliefs and dreams that are important to your regardless of how your child together arrives in this world. Believe in yourself and now your true destiny will happen at the right time unbeknownst to you, I or anyone! XOXOX

mrsmuelly said...

BTW - Thanks for wearing your lucky socks for me! I think they are working. I've got all sorts of things crossed for you guys - whatever you decide.

I Believe in Miracles said...

I have been thinking about this post for a long time.

I think initially it was because it was the next step. Get married, have kids, right? That's how it goes. (Now I know there are non traditional stuff and a ton of folks have kids premarriage, but I didn't fall into those non-traditional brackets.)

When we were struggling with the TTC I'd often question if I was meant to be a mother. If I was, why was this process so hard?

I love kids. I love babysitting my friends kids. I love watching them learn and grow (that's why I went into education in the first place).

So I started thinking about other non-traditional ways about having kids (IVF, adoption) and hubby and I had lengthy discussions about whether or not I was meant to be a mom. And we decided that yes - we both really wanted to parent and felt like no matter how the baby gets here, the baby will be God's gift. AND - one interesting thing that someone said which I firmly agree with - you are just watching the baby for GOD until they return home (or you do first). That struck me a lot. Because I often try to claim things as mine or successes, but in the reality, I cannot claim the miracle of life.

You know that I will fully support you in whichever endeavor you proceed. If you are worried about time being on your side my advice - as a sister - would be to act fast to not waste the precious time you do have.

I'm praying for you.