Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day...Wishes

Today is Memorial Day.  I think about my parents today and a part of me aches not only for my loss, but for that blank spot in Isabella's life where doting Grandparents should be.

I think about the fun my Mom would have FINALLY getting her "girly-girl".  Isabella's closet would be filled with so much frill and fluff I wouldn't be able to find anything.  Not to mention the fact that our house could become a Doll Museum because she'd own every doll made.

My Dad and Isabella would form an unholy alliance.  I am positive I would have bald spots from ripping my hair out over what the two kindred spirits could come up with.  I can almost hear him planting little plots of minor and mass destruction in her wee-little head.

But then I think of those people who somewhat fill the grandparent void for my sweet one.  Of course, at the top of her list is Auntie Patti, her first and foremost, BFF.  Aunt Patti is sort of the combination between my Mom and Dad.  She comes up with some things capable of making me speechless (jumping on the bed...really!) and showers her with presents and attention (every girl needs a purse collection to rival Coach and Gucci).  Not to mention a Disney Cruise next April.

Then of course there is Poppy.  But I think that is a story for another time.

So Happy Memorial Day...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Out of Order"

So I am getting tired of the "what happened next scenario" is important for Isabella, but that is not what I intend this blog to be.  Now, those of you that lived through the "Waiting" with me, I will talk about it.  Because lets face it, if you were around me, you DESERVE not only acknowledgement, but an award...or maybe two.

But I want to talk about what it's like to be a single Mom of a very bright, VOCAL, funny, opinionated (yeah, I don't want to hear about how she came to have that quality), sweet girl.

And Baby Makes Two

So I started my application for adoption in July 2004.  I learned being a single woman who has never been married is a quite desirable social work client...less paperwork.

I have to say the process went very smoothly.  I was done with all the paperwork by September.  Then again, I did pretty much work on everything as a full-time job.   I make it sound simple, but I remember looking at the "to do" list of paperwork, references, FBI fingerprinting, criminal background checks, etc, etc, etc, and just crying.  It was overwhelming.  But I think I may have been working on the paperwork until the wee hours of the night when this occurred.

I will never forget the first question out of my social workers mouth:  "What will you do when some child at school teases your child because of the color of their skin?"  OK...this is the answer I gave:  "Blah, blah, blah, blah"; this is what I was thinking:  "Well, I am sure I will let my foot off the little B*#%tards neck long enough for them to squeak an apology."  Let me tell you, it is hard to come up with a politically correct answer when this is what you'd like to burst out!

So I went on the waiting list in September.  I was known as family #10 on the list.  My social worker, Katie kept telling me to hurry with the paperwork because there were LOTS of families in the process at the same time as me.  So I knew as the tenth family it would be a while.  This was probably the least stressful time of the whole adoption process.  There was really nothing I could do but wait.  It was all out of my hands.

Sometime around November I was told there were many potential available infants after the New Year; I was getting anxious, but at least I had a timeline....

On December 20th I was at my friend Angela's house scrapbooking.  Angela, my friend Michelle and I decided to go to Zuppa's for lunch.  We were standing in line when my cell phone rang and my SW Katie's name come up on the caller ID.  I was prepared for THE call in January; I just thought she was calling for a check in or something. 

It was not Katie, it was one of the program directors.  I just remember her asking me if I was going to be home over the Christmas holidays because they had a referral of a baby girl but didn't yet have the details.  I grabbed Angela's arm (and am sure I left a bruise); it was a surreal conversation, like talking in a tunnel.  I could vaguely hear Angela in the background yelling, "It's the baby, it's the baby!!"  When I hung up the phone Michelle, Angela and I hugged each other (my daughter would call it a sandwich hug) and the whole restaurant erupted in applause.  Everyone on the staff was congratulating me; we even got free cookies!!

The next day I got pictures of the most beautiful baby in the world.  I remember calling the agency, telling the director that my daughter was just perfect.  What an amazing Christmas!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where to Go From Here???

So I've had the hysterectomy.  What now??

I am almost 40 years old at this point.  I still want a baby.  Single woman wants baby...where to go??  At this point adoption from China was pretty much what I had my heart set on.  I'd been mulling this over for a couple of years and had pretty much decided this was my "path". 

Until the Chinese government had an epiphany that some of those single-Mothers who've been adopting unwanted baby girls may actually be (GASP) lesbians.  I won't get on my soapbox here about how loving and caring for a child is the same if you are married, gay, single, have two left feet, etc. But lets just say I'd become disillusioned with and no longer qualified for a China adoption. 

So hey, what about Cambodia???  Small orphanage's, babies/children may not be in the cleanest environment but are LOVED.  Some adoptions are "suspicious" so no more US/Cambodia adoptions.

So what about domestic adoptions?  Not really interested in baby with drug or alcohol issues.  Really not interested in someone knocking on my door. 

So what about Guatemala adoptions??  I can't really tell you why I checked this off my "list" at the time.  Heartbreak over not being able to adopt from China??  Or Cambodia??  I don't really know, but I decided no.

Three years go by and I am still kicking around the idea, but it's fading.  I remember being at a party one evening when my friend Candace B. says to me, "I thought you were going to adopt?  Whatever happened to that?"  (I think I was probably holding or playing with my friends' Bill and Angela's children).  And it really hit me.  I looked at Candace and said I am almost 45, I am too old.  (She tells me I'm not too old, I tell her neither is she...we both cry.)

And I think this is when I made the decision...I either had to "do this thing" or get rid of all that baby stuff I'd been buying over the last decade or so.  Period.  I recognized I would always feel a loss if I did not adopt a child, but I really felt it was an idea whose time had passed.

So I went to another informational meeting about international adoption at Hands Across the Water in Ann Arbor, MI.  I have to admit, I thought I was going to exit this meeting saying to myself, "Yupe, you looked into and this isn't for you." 

So I went to the meeting; my application for adoption was completed and submitted the next day.

Someone asked me one time, Why?  Why was I able to "hear" this time?  What was it that made me so sure this was "right"?  (I was, and still am, really reliant on the "little voice" inside myself"...That little voice frequently is right on the target. And it said "this is perfect".)  I had no answer for these questions then.  I do have the answer now; it is simply, Isabella.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Medical Boo-boo

If I am going to tell this tale, I should say that I knew from my first visit to the gyn oncologist there was a chance that my tumor had not re-occurred.  It was discovered during that visit there was a contradiction in my medical record.  The problem: one place stated my right ovary was completely removed (which is what I'd been told and what was eventually correct), while in the case summary it stated that my left ovary was removed.  That's Bad.

In retrospect it was somewhat amusing (I have my Dad's sense of humor...just go with it); picture me in a room with my Dad, my college roommate Laurie (who is posing as my sister), the Attending Physician, and a small group of Interns, Residences, and Med Students.  So Dr. Johnston (my attending MD) states something about still having my right ovary.  I corrected her and she states, no the chart states my right ovary.  So here she is looking through my chart and all the sudden she has a verbal explosion; she has discovered the contradiction.  So the Doctor is having a meltdown, my Dad is about ready to explode and my best friend nearly comes unglued. 

And there I am, reassuring everyone that it's going to be all right.  I still remember Dr Johnston, sort of yelling at me, "It is not alright.  This means you either have cancer or your don't!!"  But really I had had it.  Some of my friends were aware that I'd been living in constant pain ever since I started the fertility drugs.  At times the pain was much worse than other times, leading me to worry the tumor was back.  I just wanted it to be over.  Sorta.

And then of course there still was the whole issue of the "something" on my liver.  So I grieved for the child I would never carry.  I feared for my life.  And once again, I felt like a failure.

Potholes the Size of Elephants

This began my journey into fertility treatment.  Oh the joy of diagnostic tests, peeing in cups or on sticks, drugs, and daily temperatures.  After 6 unsuccessful attempts, I underwent a laprascopy to see if endometriosis was the issue.  I will never forget my Sister-in-law, Peggy telling me that there was a problem.  I had an ovarian tumor. 

I remember after Peg left the room starting to cry.  One of the recovery nurses asked me what was wrong.  When I told her she said to me, "you're a nurse, right?".  She and I just looked at each other, then she softly told me "you know what that means" followed by a softly spoken, "I'm sorry".

I had to wait a month for my next surgery.  It was complete torture for me.  I am fairly sure it was also a horror story for my family and friends.  The next surgery revealed my tumor was a low potential malignancy serous tumor.  My right ovary was completely tumorous (bad news), my left ovary the tumor was encapsulated (good news); my fallopian tube and bladder also showed involvement (bad news).  My right ovary, the encapsulated part of my left ovary, and the growths on my fallopian tube and badder were all removed.

So with my thumb nail size ovary I continued to with insemination's....for the next year.  By this time I was physically, emotionally and financially broke.  I felt like such a failure because I just couldn't go on with treatments anymore.  In the meantime, I underwent every 6 month check-ups to ensure my tumor had not re-occurred.  After about a year I realized I was not going back on the fertility merry-go-round and went to the gyn oncologist for a hysterectomy. 

I was about 2 years out at this point.  The oncologist gave me the news that latest methods to handle my type of tumor was to NOT do surgery and just continue to follow with 6 month exams and ultrasounds.  This went on from another 3 years; every 6 months I would become anxious and frightened each time  I really worked on dealing with my anxiety, and of course the first time I was actually relaxed weeks before and after my check-ups I was told my tumor had re-occurred.
More tests.  A CT scan showed "something" on my liver.  I will never forget setting on the exam table looking at my sweet Dad on the anniversary date of my Mom's death...from cancer with metastases to her liver.  More tests, ultrasounds, MRI.  And good news:  the "something" on my liver was just a "snarl" of blood vessels, nothing more.

I underwent a total hysterectomy a month before my 40th birthday.

My Road to Motherhood

At the age of 7 I knew the one thing I wanted to be was a Mom. 

At the age of 34 I still hadn't met the all elusive knight so I decided to go it alone.

Now I grew up on a small dairy farm in Michigan; when I was about 4 years old my younger brother and I were playing inside the milk house as my Grampa walked by leading a GIANT bull.  Right as they got to the door this bull "smacked" (repeatedly) my Grampa up against the side of the building.  My Dad heard my screams, came around the side of the building, grabbed a hammer and hit the bull (repeatedly) between the eyes.  (For those of you who fear for the bull, trust me, it took numerous hits with a hammer to even get his attention).  When my Mom heard of this episode all bulls were forever banned from the farm.  Thus began my introduction to artificial insemination.

I tell this story because I feel it helps to set the stage to aid in understanding the following conversation I had with my Dad.  I feel my recollection of the following conversation with my Dad truly were the first steps to Motherhood.

I called my Dad late one night asking for a large sum of money; I'd heard of a pregnant young woman who was thinking about placing her unborn child up for adoption.  I thought if I had all the money necessary for her prenatal visits, hospital bills, etc. that I might have a chance to adopt this baby.  I remember crying on the phone to my Dad about how I just wanted to have a child; it was my Dad;s turn to cry when I said to him, "Just imagine Daddy what your life would have been like without Ellsworth (my brother) and me". 

My Dad asked me if this is what I truly wanted; I remember telling him that what I really wanted was to bear a child.  He then said that this is what I should do. Next Dad  told me that I should not rely on the "kindness" of my male friends (turkey basters only) but should have a child using donor insemination.  I still remember telling him that the Daddy Handbook says you are not suppose to encourage your single daughter to get pregnant.