Monday, January 30, 2006

Why adopt? Part 2

Returning to my reasons for adopting...I have been asked, "Are you adopting because of infertility?"

The straight up answer is "no."

The more complicated answer is "possibly."

After my son was born, I lost all 25 pounds that I put on during that pregnancy. He was nursing like a machine and I was so freaking exhausted and anxiety ridden, I probably didn't eat enough. Anyway, those 25 pounds just melted right off.

Then, when he quit nursing at one year, those 25 pounds crept right back on.

I was in law school, which is stressful. (Although, frankly, at times I found it less stressful than motherhood, but, well, I'll have to go down that road another day.)

I didn't have time to worry about my weight, so, I didn't. After I graduated in 2003, though, I began to worry about my weight. I went to Weight Watchers and didn't have much luck. I started working out 5 or 6 days a week, but, I had no luck.

In April of 2005, I had been working out almost daily for MONTHS, and I had gained 4 pounds.

My husband and I and some good friends went to the Bahamas in April of 2005 and had a fabulous time. However, when I returned, two things happened:

1. I had to look at pictures of myself in a bathing suit, and
2. I ran a fever of 100 to 101 degrees for 24 days straight.

I didn't feel lousy otherwise - I just had a fever, and a headache.

I called the doctor on day 7 of the fever, whose response was that I needed to get into his office RIGHT THIS MINUTE. (I do love my doctor, he's a good man.)

Apparently the good Doctor D. was concerned I had appendicitis that was manifesting without abdominal pain. (I learned later that he almost lost a patient once to a burst appendix that manifested only, in the days leading up to the rupture, with a fever.)

I got to his office and he groped my appendix for a while, and then sent me for a battery of tests. All of which came back normal, except that there appeared to be something "off" with my thyroid.

The doctor took more blood, ran more tests, and finally said, "I don't know, but, I think I want you to see an endocrinologist."

And so, off I went to Dr. R., who ran more tests, took more blood, examined, of all things, my toes, and said, 'I think you have polycystic overian syndrome and a thyroid that is ALMOST, but not quite, functioning properly." She also noted my unusual body structure - almost all of my excess weight is in my abdomen - as a key part of her diagnosis. Also, strangely, the fact that I have to shave my toes. (Yes, I have to shave my toes. I know that is disgusting, but, true. I am not a really hairy person, but, I have hair on my big toes. I have to shave it a couple times a week or it freaks me right out.)

Dr. R. sent me for an MRI, because one of my other, more peculiar symptoms, was that I continued to produce milk fully four years after my son stopped nursing. It wasn't a ton of milk, I wasn't leaking onto my law briefs or anything, but, it was enough that I found it odd and uncomfortable and, just plain weird.

The MRI revealed a pituitary (sp?) abnormality that was the cause of my constant lactation.

Taking all of this information into account, Dr. R., who was never able to determine the cause of my 24 day fever (and at this point I suspect it was the result of some kind of virus I picked up in the Bahamas), prescribed Glucophage, Synthroid, and Bromocriptine (to end the lactation.) I stopped the Bromocriptine after 4 weeks, because it seemed to have done it's job and I was sick of the side effects. On the Synthroid and Glucophage, and back at Weight Watchers, I am starting to see some improvements in my body...but, more on that later.

Dr. R. expressed to me that, had I tried to become pregnant before this, I would have most likely been unsuccessful, and that she suspected that I was "probably infertile" - although the only way to tell that would be to give it a try...

MEANWHILE...back at the ranch known as "my cervix" - weird things were afoot.

My PAP results had come back "atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance" every three months for three years. Each time the result came back as such, my ob-gyn, a very nice man named Dr. J., sent the results to be tested for HPV - the virus that causes some 85-95% of cervical cancer. Each time, the results were negative.

Dr. J. was flummoxxed, but, he didn't want to stop running the paps every 12 weeks, because, even though "in his experience" - atypical cells that were negative for HPV didn't turn into cancer, it wasn't a risk he was willing to take.

Then, I got a PAP back that indicated the presence of precancerous cells. Dr. J. was alarmed. He had never seen precancerous cells in a patient who was negative for HPV. But, he stated, in a very serious way, that "something else" causes 5-10% of cervical cancer, and he was concerned about the situation and that "those cells are coming out ASAP."

And so, at the beginning of January, Dr. J. ended up removing a large portion of my cervix.

Which, presumably, solves the problem. There was no cancer in the tissue that was removed. There was no HPV. But, there were atypical cells, and now they are gone. Along with, most likely, my ability to hold in a baby.

Dr. J. was honest - it's "possible" that you could carry to term, but, more likely that it would be problematic. "Miscarriages could occur." (Well, honestly, is that news to ANYBODY? I mean, the statement "miscarriages could occur" is pretty much a statement that could apply to anybody. Hell, both of my sisters and several friends of mine have had at least one. I mean, really, that's not news, is it?)

And, I don't know that the "possibility" of infertility counts as a reason, because I've never explored that possibility. I've not opened myself up to the possibility that that monster (and it is a monster, because I've watched it tear some very dear friends of mine to pieces with her cruel claws) might be lurking in my closet.

And frankly I'm just not interested. Not interested in walking down that road. Not interested in being pregnant again. Not interested in the possibility that my breasts might leak milk for another five years.

There's a fork in the road, well, a three pronged fork. And one sign says, "this way for parents of only children" and another sign says, "this way to try to get pregnant again" and the third sign says, "this way to bring home the child that your heart is telling you is waiting for you" - and that is the road we've decided to turn down...

More Later,
Law Mommy

I am NOT a redneck woman

I thought I would share this story, because if I don't laugh at the absurdity of it, surely I will cry, and that would be a worse outcome. And, in the long run, it's not a huge deal, it's just yet another frustration in a long string of many, I am sure, in the international adoption process...

To start, let me say, my last name starts with W. It is NOT Wilson, but, it might, at a stretch, sound vaguely like Wilson. Let's just say, for the sake of this, that it's, for example, "Watson".

Okay, so, as many of you are probably aware, a woman named Gretchen Wilson has become QUITE FAMOUS lately, mostly for a song entitled "Redneck Woman".

In the last several months, I have gotten numerous faxes addressed to "Gretchen Wilson" instead of my actual last name and lots of clients who call and say things like, "don't you get confused with that country star" - (um, yes, because a blonde divorce and real estate lawyer from Ohio often gets confused with a brunette country star millionaire famous for her redneck-ed-ness.)

Anyway, until today I have found these questions amusing, and somewhat baffling, because I do not really think my actual last name and the name Wilson are all that similar, but, it hasn't been a big deal. But, yesterday, I stopped being amused by the whole Gretchen "Watson"/Gretchen Wilson thing - because this woman has caused the State of Ohio to F**K UP my adoption homestudy paperwork, which, I am working like a madwoman to get turned in in record time, in order to speed this adoption process along.

At any rate, as part of the paperwork, I had to submit a notarized letter, signed by both my husband and I, to the State of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, asking for verifications that neither Gretchen "Watson" nor David "Watson" have been found to be neglectful or abusive of a child in our care in the State of Ohio. I sent this letter. It was on letterhead that said, "DAVID AND GRETCHEN "Watson"" at the top. It had our names and social security numbers and birthdates and it was signed and notarized.

Yesterday, I opened the mail box (we were gone Saturday and we didn't get our mail until yesterday evening) to find two letters from the State of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

One letter stated that David "Watson" had not been found to be a neglectful or abusive parent or guardian in the State of Ohio.

The other letter assured me that "Gretchen Wilson" has never been found to be a neglectful or abusive parent or guardian in the state of Ohio. Well, hey, that's just F**KING GREAT for Gretchen Wilson. But guess who is NOT trying to adopt a toddler from Asia right now, through any agency in the State of Ohio, at least to the best of my d*mn knowledge? Yeah, that's right - country music star Gretchen Wilson has clearance to go ahead with her adoption homestudy, which she is NOT ACTUALLY SEEKING, but, I, Gretchen "Watson", DO NOT. I am trying not to let it get me down, and it is probably only a matter of setting us back by a few days, but, still. Guess who is not, at this moment, a BIG FAN, of the redneck woman? That would be me - Gretchen whose last name starts with a W that is not Wilson - the unredneck woman.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Mountain of Paperwork

So, I know that this post is SUPPOSED to be a continuation of my treastise "why adopt"...but, can I just say that I have received the second packet of paperwork from our homestudy agency today (so that they can begin processing our adoption homestudy). I was really proud of myself that I was able to get the FIRST mountain of paperwork back to them in only 8 days. Now, I have this second mountain of paperwork, and it is a nightmare. Just a few things required:

~ohio bureau of criminal investigation civilian background check
~county criminal record check
~copies of marriage license, auto insurance policies
~a detailed analysis of all incoming and outgoing funds from our household, and balances due and owing on all debts and current market value of all assets (this must be wise for adoptive parents to think about - heck, it probably would be wise for ALL prospective parents to think about - still, it's daunting)
~a fire inspection
~the names, addresses, telephone numbers, marital status, religious preference and children's names and ages of all of our siblings (7 siblings and a total of 14 nieces and nephews, between my husband and myself) (and I am embarrassed to admit that I do not even HAVE the address of my youngest brother? I mean, I have his cell phone number, and I know he lives in Cleveland, but, I haven't exactly MAILED anything to him recently)

Oh, I am just overwhelmed!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Why adopt?

My darling husband and I are in the process of adopting a child. This is going to be an international adoption and some people have asked, "why?"

Namely, why choose adoption when you don't even know if you are infertile?

Why choose adoption when your only child is so DARN adorable? (He really is. My god, you should see this child. Cuter than cute, and smart as a whip and sweet natured as all get out. I'm telling you.)

And why choose the added expense of adoption from overseas, when, you could adopt from own county for FREE because A. you are a lawyer (a lawyer whose firm does A LOT of adoption work) and you wouldn't even have to pay attorney fees and B. your county has a no fee adoption program?

Okay, so, why adopt when we don't even know we are infertile? Well, I have an answer, but, it's complex. But, I started this blog as a means of analyzing my own motivations, so, here goes.

Post partum depression. Post partum anxiety.

My son was born in February of 2000. He came to us in the usual way - we didn't even try hard. In April of 1999 I threw out my birth control pills, and we spent 6 weeks vaguely avoiding pregnancy using the time honored "pull out" method. (My doctor had indicated that maybe I should wait a few weeks before actively TRYING to get pregnant until all the hormones from the bc pills were gone.) (At least I think that's what she was saying. She was about 112 years old and spoke with a thick Iraqi accent.)

In June 1999, we began trying to get pregnant in earnest. We had a LOT of fun mattress dancing, and four weeks later we had a stick that turned pink, and we were in the baby business.

I was a miserable pregnant woman. I was bitchy. I was crabby. My body hurt and I complained about it. Loudly. I was hungry all the time, and when I didn't eat something every two hours I became the nastiest person around. My co-workers kept granola bars in their desks that they would lob over the wall of my cube (I was working as a research analyst at the time) when they were too afraid to come talk to me.

I hated being pregnant. HATED IT. I felt like I had an alien invader sitting on my bladder. I listened to other pregnant women talk about how "peaceful" and "spiritual" they felt, and I thought, "They must be on crack. They are INSANE." They talked about how "close" they felt to this life growing inside of them, and I thought, "I don't feel "close" to this baby. I feel like I've been invaded."

February of 2000 was just letting go, and it left with a rather impressive snowstorm that sent me into labor two weeks early. There were some minor problems with my delivery, mainly that no d**n doctor was available to catch the baby that was coming out of ME, since so many other babies, brought about by the snow storm, were coming out of other people. My epidural had not worked, and, as my need to push became all consuming, I sat up on my knees on my bed, leaned over the hospital headboard, and announced, "I'm PUSHING". The nurse's first (idiotic) response was to say, "you have an epidural, you're not supposed to be able to feel your legs enough to stand up like that." (Well, perhaps this is a clue to what I had been telling them for several hours - that my damn epidural was USELESS.)

Her next response was the yell, I NEED A DOCTOR STAT into some device. They made me lie down. I began screaming obscenities. A doctor came in, gave me an episotomy while the mirror reflecting my crotch area was still pointed right at my face, so, I saw him come at me with the sciccors, and, while I continued to scream like a sailor, my son slid into the world.

I really hated that baby at that moment. (Seriously, that was my first reaction.) The pain was mind blowing. The assault with the scissors was fresh in my mind's eye, and I just couldn't believe the phenomenol pain. (They told me I would forget that part, about the pain. To which I say, BULLSHIT.)

The insanity of resenting my own baby lasted a few seconds. And then I heard them say something about needing a neonate specialist, something about the cord, something about "is he breathing?" My heart stopped. And I thought, "I swear to god if this damn baby dies and I have to go through this again I will just kill myself." And then Gabriel starting crying. And he worked himself up into a great howl, and I was relieved.

They took my son away to the intensive care unit to make sure his oxygen levels were okay, or something. And that's when I started crying. And I cried, and cried and cried and cried.

And I pretty much didn't stop crying for nine months.

We took our baby home and he learned to nurse. The beginning of the nursing experience was a nightmare for me, but, he was a determined baby and we got the hang of it. And he nursed. And I cried. And he nursed and I cried. And he was AWAKE.

He was the most AWAKE baby I have ever heard of. He wasn't unhappy or colicy and he didn't cry too much, as long as he could nurse. (He would have nursed for six hours, given the opportunity.) But he was AWAKE. He would sit in his bouncy chair and watch everything. He never napped for more than 15 or 20 minutes. Everyone told me, "sleep when the baby sleeps." Hah. That was hysterical. Sleep in 20 minute increments? Once every two or three hours?

He didn't sleep at night, either. And while he was a very happy baby when he was sitting in his bouncy chair or his swing or his car seat, when he laid down on his back, he became DEMON BABY. I gave up trying to get him to sleep lying down, and put him to bed at night in his car carrier. It was the ONLY place he would rest.

Exacerbating the problem with the crying (mine) and the bizarre level of alertness (the baby's), I developed what I can only term as a "insane fixation". This fixation came from insane thinking, and I was aware that the thinking was insane, I was just incapable of DOING anything about it.

The fixation was this: If I fall asleep, my baby will not be able to breathe.

Let me repeat that: If I fall asleep, my baby will not be able to breathe.

I know. I KNOW. It's crazy. But, I BELIEVED it. Believed it as surely as I have ever believed anything in my life. I was aware that this belief had no basis in reality, yet, I was powerless in the face of it. So, even when my baby was sleeping, I was not able to truly fall asleep. I would rest my fingers against his rib cage, my arm hanging off the bed into his car carrier, so that I could feel him breathing. I would fall asleep while he nursed and wake up when he stopped, because I could be sure he was breathing if he was nursing. I couldn't allow him to be in a separate room from me when I was at home - if I couldn't see where he was, how could I know he was breathing? (Curiously, I did not worry about this while he was with his day care providers - his presence at the day care during the daytime fully relieved this obsession. It was only when he was with me that I worried about his breathing.)

The sleeplessness led to deeper depression. I began to think, "if I was dead, I would be able to sleep...if I was dead, I could sleep."

Now, I KNEW that was dangerous thinking. At Gabriel's check ups, the doctor (our family doctor) would ask if I was okay. He confided in my husband that I was exhibiting all the signs of ppd.

One day the doctor asked if I ever thought about hurting the baby. I answered him, honestly, no, not the baby. He asked if I thought about hurting myself, and, rather than answer him (because I thought the whole "if I was dead I could sleep" thought pattern PROBABLY fell into that category), I told him about my fixation on Gabriel's breathing.

He asked me if I was aware that the baby didn't need me to be awake in order to breathe. I told him, 'logically, yes. I graduated summa cum laude from college, I had to pass a biology course to do that, I'm not a moron. I'm just insane."

He kindly told me he didn't think I was crazy, just suffering from post partum anxiety and depression. He asked me to stop nursing and take some prozac. I said no.

(I refused to quit nursing because I felt it was the only thing that made me a "good" mother. I felt like a failure as a mother on so many other levels, that I didn't think I could stop this one thing I was doing well at. On another level, I don't think I felt like I would know what to DO with my baby if I wasn't nursing him. If I was nursing him or singing to him he was happy. What would I do with him without one of those options? I could nurse and read a book at the same time, or nurse and watch Law & Order, or nurse talk on the phone. When would I be able to do those things, if I wasn't nursing? Topping it off, the child REFUSED to take a bottle, how would he eat? I told the doctor - "it's the only time I have any peace or satisfaction with the whole mothering process. You want me to end that?")

The doctor relented on his request that I stop nursing, and prescribed Xanax instead. (I think he hoped it will chill me out and help Gabe to sleep a little more.)

Later, when Gabe was about 7 months old and I was in my first semester of law school, he prescribed a new antidepressant that was supposed to be safer for nursing moms, the name escapes me right now. It didn't work much. Nor did any of the three or four others we tried.

The depression and anxiety that plagued me from the day of his birth lifted only gradually. And only when, at the age of 3, Gabriel began to sleep through the night. Yes, it took him three years to sleep through the night. He stopped nursing when he turned a year, but, he would still wake up 3 to 4 times a night, just wanting company or a cup of milk. It was maddening. He didn't nap - his day care providers commented that he was the most awake baby/toddler they had ever cared for. (And this was a LARGE (naeyc approved) center, with 24 babies and 24 toddlers and one teacher for every 3 babies and one for every four toddlers. We are talking about women who KNEW babies and toddlers. And mine was the winner of the least sleep award. (A distinction he holds to this day, where he attends that same center's private Kindergarten.)

So, that's the beginning of the answer. Post partum depression. Post partum anxiety. Three years of never sleeping more than 2 hours at a time, because, either the baby was up, or, I was up having to listen for his breathing, incapable of relieving the bizarre obsession that plagued me regarding my child's ability to breathe.

I guess the rest of the answers will have to wait until tomorrow.

Law Mommy

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My First Post

So, I'm doing this blog thing.

Because I think it would be good for me.

I'm 33. I'm married. I have one little boy and I'm trying to adopt a second child from overseas. (My first child is biologically mine and my husband's.)

I'm a lawyer.

I hate/love my job at the same time.

More later.
Law Mommy

Free Hit Counter
Get a Free Hit Counter