I’ve been weepy the past few days. I’m sure it’s partly hormones and exhaustion (Lupron, AF, the holidays, J’s family, 5 days of Southern food-induced constipation – that’s PLENTY of cause for tears). It started in earnest on my cab ride home from the airport, and then I crumpled into a red-faced, teary mess when I got home. It’s a good think J stayed down South a couple of extra days, because he would have been so worried to see me that upset. There’s something about coming home to an IVF cycle that can really do a number on a girl’s emotional stability. You’re away, distracted by other things, feeling like a normal person, and then the reality smacks you in the face – YOU’RE INFERTILE. It’s a tough one to assimilate, because no one ever anticipates ending up here. When I was in that cab, a blanket of sadness descended on me: “My eggs are crap. I’m not ever going to be able to have my own biological child. It’s something most people take for granted, but it’s not in the cards for me. EVER.” It’s kind of mind-blowing. I had this petulant 3-year-old-like thought, “But I have some GOOD qualities that might have been nice to pass on.” You have to imagine it with a whine and a stomped foot for the full effect.
So, I thought I’d list the traits I’m sad not to pass on. Maybe I can argue away some of that sadness. It’s debatable which of these are inheritable, anyway, right?
1. I’m sad not to pass on my eyes. It’s one of the traits I like best about myself – kind of large, round, blue eyes with thick eyelashes. I could have tried to search for a donor with similar eyes (we found one who looked more like me than the donor we finally chose), but eye color didn’t come near to trumping intelligence, temperament, and interests for me. This is the most superficial of my regrets, but it hits me the hardest when I see other mothers with their children. I scan the adult face and the small one, looking for similarities. Of course, J’s eyes aren’t blue, so our kids could have easily ended up with brown, green, or hazel eyes, anyway. It’s silly, I know.
2. I have a passionate love for beauty and a sensitivity to it. Now, I don’t know if that’s something that can be taught or not. Maybe a little bit, but I think it’s also just part of my make-up. It’s the ability to be really moved by things – a combination of words, a color, a photograph, a piece of music. I guess that’s one of the qualities that feels most essentially “me”. That’s something I would have liked to have shared with my child. I really hope I still can.
4. I have a strong sense of empathy. It’s not always the easiest trait to have, but I still value it. I think that can be taught, though. J is pretty damn empathetic for a man, and our donor seems to be, so that’s reassuring.
5. I love to dance and am pretty good at it. I got this from my dad and my grandmother. In the scheme of things, not so important, though. I can teach my kid to enjoy dancing – that’s the important thing.
6. I think I have strong drive to try to be a good person, to treat people well, and to try to do something worthwhile with my life. Sometimes I’m more successful than others, and I don’t know how much real good I’m doing with my life right now, but at least it’s a drive that’s a part of me. I guess it’s a sense of altruism. Can that be taught? Probably.
7. I’m curious. I’m interested in a lot of things and always like learning. That’s definitely teachable. I believe kids innately have this quality and then it’s unfortunately pounded out of them by peer pressure and crappy teachers.
When I look at it carefully, I think the qualities that I really value about myself ARE teachable qualities, or they’re qualities that my donor also has. They’re things I still can share with my child. And then there are the things – either serious or trivial – I’m happy NOT to pass on:
1. Possible risk of infertility. My cycles have always been irregular, so I’m not positive it’s only age-related.
2. Sensitive, fair, delicate skin. SUCH a pain.
3. Hips and thighs that make jean shopping a pain in the ass. Petite and curvy is not easy to shop for.
4. Allergies and asthma. J has asthma and food allergies, and so do I, so it’s good that we have a donor who won’t add to that genetic risk, at least.
5. There’s a good chance my child would have ended up being a Cystic Fibrosis carrier, because I have two mutations – luckily minor and non-symptomatic (a surprise fun fact I found out when we first saw an RE – that’s a whole OTHER story).
6. It wouldn’t hurt to give my kids several more inches in height than I have.
7. A decent amount of anxiety and insomnia seems to run in my family. It’d be nice to spare them that.
I always feel comforted when I read our donor’s profile. Her temperament and outlook on life are very similar to mine, actually. I believe she has a sensitivity to beauty like I do and that she’s constantly curious. She seems to want to make a difference in the world (she’s an ER nurse), and to help people. She seems kind, warm, and generous. She’s maybe less tightly-wound than I am, which would definitely be a plus. She even loves to read the classics, is interested in the arts, and is left-handed, like me. All in all, I’m not giving up that much, when I really look at it carefully. Will it matter that my child’s eyes are almond shaped instead of round, that he or she has olive skin instead of pink and white? Not so much. I’ll be able to teach my child to view the world with wonder and to live with integrity and passion. That’s what really matters.
God, if only this will work. Please let it work.