So, I got caught in an undertow of grief the other day. I could try to defend myself by saying that I freaked out because my estrogen level is 2500 instead of the normal 150, but I’d rather just accept the fact that I freaked out because I freaked out.
Today is a good day, though, due mostly to my trying to keep in mind the following four things:
One. All donors are going to present themselves in a “buy me” kind of light, and this is something I should have anticipated. Instead I took my donor’s profile at its word and developed expectations about her that later turned out to be untrue, and I realize now that this is one reason why intended parents (my husband included) don’t want to meet their donors. But it’s always been important to me that my future children have the choice of knowing their genetic parent, and despite the fact that I don’t love my donor, I still think that meeting her was the brave and right thing to do. I have no regrets on that count.
Two. All breeding is a crapshoot, and there’s no reason for me to think that my eggs would have produced better children than my donor’s eggs will. So what if my donor is heavier than she said she was, that she’s more photogenic than she is beautiful, and that she isn’t brilliant. Women are born with 1 million eggs. Men produce over 400 billion sperm over their lifetimes. This means that N and my donor can breed a possible 400,000,000,000,000,000 different types of people. Right now thirteen of these four hundred quadrillion exist in the form of zygotes that are developing at my clinic’s embryology lab. All I can do is hope that they’re relatively good ones.
Three. Nurture over nature is a mantra that floats around on PVED quite a lot. That and epigenetics, which is the study that looks at the extent to which people’s brain, body, and character are formed by elements other than genetic code. The other day, I posted my emotional crisis on PVED, and a dozen lovely PVEDers rallied around me saying things like, “My child is exactly like me in ways that I can’t begin to explain. Don’t worry too much about the donor. Your child will be yours.” OK, PVED. I believe you. And I love you.
Four. When I first got into this infertility thing, I adopted a mantra:
My biological clock has one hand clapping.
This philosophy was meant to serve as an inspiration and reminder that this is first and foremost a process of self-reflection. Moreover, my success at the end of this experience wouldn’t be a child but rather an awareness of who I am in the context of this challenge. This meant releasing expectations, accepting outcomes, and embracing my world as it was.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve failed to live up to my mantra more than I’ve succeeded. I still have hopes and expectations, and I don’t always do the amount of reflective work that I should. My biological clock just isn’t as Zen as I wish it was.
But in the wake of being bowled over by grief at the start of the week, I’ve tried my best to re-remember this philosophy. I’ve seen my brilliant therapist twice, I’ve let myself feel vulnerable around my friends and e-quaintances (yes, you!), and I’ve had such rich and sweet conversations with N that I’ve managed to fall in love with him all over again – yet again.
So, yes, I had a freak-out a few days ago because despite my best efforts, sometimes my biological clock goes cuckoo. But sometimes my biological clock actually does have one hand clapping, and today is a good day.