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01/20/2010

Somewhere in this post there is cake, but also angry bees

We are so thrilled to be able to share with you that Ali McMutrie and the children from the Brebis de Saint-Michel de L’Attalaye (BRESMA) orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, arrived safely at Pittsburgh International Airport a short while ago.

This was posted yesterday at That's Church, which has been serving as a clearing house since the orphanage went into crisis.  Of course that's not the end of the story; it's really only begun for the families newly made.  And for those who remain in Haiti — people searching for loved ones, people who know those loved ones are lost — who knows what happens next?  But I'm relieved to the point of grateful tears to see that this tiny part of the story, at least, maybe the end of these families' beginning, feels hopeful.

Go check out Creating a Family if you're interested in the prospect of adopting from Haiti post-earthquake.  It's well worth a read for Dawn's compassionate, balanced take.

On my post about the BRESMA crisis, Amy commented,

I pray that this helps you start a conversation w/ Charlie about "some people believe God can do miracles!" w/ the help of the larger community and all that!

Maybe we all see what we're already looking for.  Because you know what's funny?  In the BRESMA story I see proof that people create miracles irrespective of God or religion.  I don't believe, and I've contributed to relief in Haiti.  Atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and for all I know practicing Satanists — oh, Pat Robertson, really? S. Morgenstern begs to differ — are feeling the pull, not necessarily of God but of humanity.  And to bring this full circle, some people believe that that's every bit as worthy of humbled awe and gratitude.

Speaking of humility, enough about not-me.  I've been playing around with formspring.me, a sitelet that allows people to ask and answer anonymous questions.  It's kind of cute, kind of fun, and I was finding it altogether too easy to rattle on in a glib hyperlogorrheic mode about really not much at all.

Like my blog, I suppose, only I was actually updating it.

And then I got this question:

We have been ttc for a long time, had 6 miscarriages and too many rounds of IVF. My shameful secret is in the dead of night I wonder if it is worth it. Is it worth all the shit when you finally have a baby?

It stopped me in my tracks.  It's taken me a few days to answer it.  First because, ohhh, I am sorry, lady whose name I don't know.  I wish everything were different.  Then because that there's a question that goes a little beyond "How did you get to be so awesome?"  (It's anonymous.  I didn't submit that one.  You can prove nothing.)

For my part, the answer is easy.  Part of my reasoning comes from a place of happiness.  I can easily say it's been worth it, because I have the babies.  Obvious answer, done and done, and we all lived smugly ever after.

Give me some credit, though.  It goes deeper than that; I'm not distilling this to a question of loving my children and being willing to walk on hot coals just for the privilege of pressing the TiVo remote into their covetous hands.  It also has to do with my being a few years out from the very worst of it, and while I haven't precisely forgotten, I no longer live it on a daily basis.  I can remember that it hurt to be flattened every day by that truckload of pianos stuffed with anvils driven by a swarm of angry bees, but I can't recall the exact sensation.  And that's a good thing, in case there's any confusion.  I want that for all of us, whether we end up with babies or not.  Right now my perspective on what we went through is rather more mellow than it used to be.  Walk in the park.  A cakewalk, in fact.  A piece of cakewalk in the goddamn park, that's what it was, three metaphors mashed into one because I am all about value.

But the other part of my reasoning is a little more bitter to the taste.  I believe it was worth it, but I also know I need to believe that.  Otherwise what we went through doesn't make any sense.  The notion that we could have built our family in other ways, perhaps faster, perhaps through less painful means — well, it'll make you crazy if you think about it too hard.

I'm reminded of what I've read any number of times from people who've adopted, especially after infertility treatment, when they're asked if they wished they'd arrived at adoption sooner.  "We had to go through that," they say, "to get exactly this."

I always imagine that said with so much serenity, so much confidence that "exactly this" is the best way, the only right way, things could have turned out for their family.  But when I say it I'm a lot less certain, a lot less settled.  The fact is, I don't know whether it makes any sense now that we did what we did then.  In hindsight, if I'm honest, I'm forced to admit the possibility that we could have been happy with any number of other options, perhaps without so much waste, of time, sanity, and happiness.

But I shy away from that thought, because to suppose that any of it was unnecessary, any part of it inessential to the family we finally became, or that I could have been equally content with other paths, feels like a kind of betrayal, both of the person I was then — who did the best she could, just like I guess we all do — and the children I have now.  We had to go through that to get exactly this, and a grand this it is indeed.

So because I did get what I wanted, and because I need to believe there was, in the end, a point to it all, yes, I feel it's worth it.  But that's very easy to say, because ours is the happy ending.  And I know it's by no means the only answer to a really tricky question.

I wonder how others parenting after infertility feel.  What are your thoughts?  I'm also interested in knowing what you think — Was it worth it all?  Could it have been? — if you didn't have children after trying.  Easy to answer or complicated?  Does your head, like mine, threaten to explode when you try to consider it?

I look forward to reading your answers, just as soon as I stop laughing at the next question in my queue: "Is breastfeeding worth it?"  That one...you know, that one might sit there a while, too.

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