Sunday, November 30, 2008

Adding Insult to Injury

Fuck Buddy (def) One step lower than "Friends with Benefits" and one step higher than a "One Night Stand." Insulting nonetheless.

Last Thursday I received a call from an acquaintance of two years. For much of the two years he has run hot and cold, and so I came to the conclusion that he did not want to pursue any form of serious friendship, or intimate relationship. In our discussion, he explained his inconsistent behaviour toward me: For the past two years he has not stopped thinking about me. He thinks I am sexy and wonderful, but not "wife material." He wants to have sex with me - so much so that he was offended when I did not immediately invite him over to my house - but has no intention of committing to me in any way. In fact, he would prefer that the whole arrangement remain secret, because he is pretending to be an Orthodox Jew, and does not want word of his hypocrisy to get out into the community.

(I could not have consummated his indecent proposal in any case, as I have my period and am preparing for the next round of insemination.)

The next morning, I received an email from my ex-boyfriend (married, at the moment), telling me about the troubles he is having with his wife and how they may be headed for divorce. And that he has spent the last 20 years thinking about me with love, and wondering what might have been. As if that knowledge would send me on the next plane, into his arms and into his bed.

No wonder I am not married yet.

Then I have my weekly chat with Mom, in which she tells me with great joy and relief that she has consulted with none other than the Chief Rabbi of the RCA [the American Orthodox Union] about my 'condition,' and turns out, my children will not be considered bastards in the eye of Jewish Law. The halacha will not treat my children like illegitimate castaways, and presumably now, neither will my own mother, their grandmother.

Disregarding for the moment that I had already conducted research into the halacha, and that I was determined regardless to continue with this journey, the absolute lack of consideration for me and my feelings made me want to laugh and cry. Here my mother thinks she has done us all a favor by getting the approval of a random Rabbi, and instead, she has instilled in me the fear that every time she will look at my children, she will see a mutant of sorts, an oddity.

What have I learned from the message sent by the Universe this week? That I deserve to be treated as the number one priority in someones life, rather than the "other woman" or the "shameful secret." That my children will deserve all the love I can give them, and that I must surround them with others who will give them the same, without judgement.

I will not compromise on either.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sorry Mom, I am Not a Lesbian

Even with the remarkable progress my mother has made in accepting my choice and trying to be supportive, we clearly have a ways to go.

Two weeks ago, when I told her about a man who had been verbally abusive to me in front of others, a man with whom she had tried to set up a date for me, her response was, "Do you think he likes you?" As if this 43 year old man child had regressed to some version of pulling my pigtails and dipping them in ink. Moments earlier, she had reiterated that I should not compromise in my choice of husband and soul-mate.

Last week, she suggested a blind date set-up with a man who I had not only previously dated while in graduate school, but who had recently (after years of trying to have successful relationships with women) come out of the closet. Mom's query to this revelation, "Do you think he knows you?" As if we might date again, and he just may decide that his homosexuality was a brief experiment.

Then Mom came out with the question that I can imagine has been sitting and stewing in her mind for years now; she asked me if I was even interested in dating men anymore. I asked her if she would feel better telling her friends that her 40 year old daughter was not married because she was a lesbian, rather than because she had simply not found the right one. She stammered and tried to recover by clarifying her question, wondering if my fertility attempts were mutually exclusive of my trying to find a husband and a natural sperm donor as the father of my children. (Sex: the Fun Conception Method)

I pointed out that it was most unlikely that even today, sitting across the table from a man on a date, that I would share the details of my treatments. It would be inappropriate and frankly, none of his business. In fact, it is also unlikely that I would announce my pregnancy until three months had passed, and I had the assurances of my doctors that both I and the fetus were safe and developing nicely.

In truth, I have often thought that if I were a lesbian, I would be in a fantastic relationship right now, as there are many more quality women, looking for stable and fulfilling long-term connections, than there are men in the Jewish traditional world.

But I like men, specifically those with hug-able chests, a good sense of humor and intelligence, and some ambition. Know anyone?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Me, Revolutionary Role Model?

Now that I have decided to wait until December, and give my body a solid few weeks to rest, I have been immensely enjoying going back to the gym, sitting in the sauna and drinking wine at festive occasions. I have lost several kilo already, and figure it is healthy to start a pregnancy with less weight rather than more, though I am not overweight to begin with.

What is more odd, in the last two weeks, I have been approached by several acquaintances (single, observant women) who know about the Great Pregnancy Plan. They want to sit with me and hear about my experience, because somehow my example of courage and/or insanity has inspired the idea that they might enter into this as well.

My cousin (KB) last week accused me of being too open and up front (I believe he used the phrase "in your face") about my trying to get pregnant, as a currently single woman. He believes that this is a wonderful process, and while he is glad I am so comfortable with the idea, he feels it should be kept quiet. Until I am showing.

I have never been accused of not expressing my opinion, and have no shame in feeling confident and secure in my decision. If people are talking about me, so be it, if it allows women in my situation and in our closed Orthodox singles community to dare to think beyond the conventional family model, and achieve happiness through motherhood.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Break, By Choice

I spoke this afternoon with the doctor responsible for my case in the Fertility Unit at Hadassah, and he said that as far as he and the surgeon are concerned, I could and should try to get pregnant again, this month. I would start taking the series of hormones this coming Sunday.

I suggested to him that my body might need to rest and recover not only from the surgery, but from the last loss of the pregnancy, which left me sick and unable to function for two days. Remembering the last time I took their advice, and pushed myself into another round when I felt like I needed a break, I told the doctor and the nurses there that in all likelihood I would next be seeing them in December rather than next week.

The nurse almost seemed to take it personally, ending our phone conversation with a formal, "Well, we are always here for you." I appreciate that they want to get me knocked up as soon as possible, and to move me to IVF as soon as possible; as of right now, I am choosing to listen to my body and give it all the chances to succeed next time around, by waiting a few more weeks.

Braver Women than I

I want to devote very little time in this column today to myself and my surgery, and so here is the summary: It is a good thing that I brought my own soft Kleenex tissues, because I spent a lot of time on-and-off crying that morning before the procedure, mostly because I am a very bad patient and a sissy. Number two on the surgery list for the day, I was wheeled in and put under (for 47 minutes!) around 10:30 am, and brought back to my room around noon. Around four pm, after the doctors and nurses saw me getting up by myself, taking patient calls (don't ask) and moving furniture ( a medium sized chair), they decided that I was well enough to go home, which I did.

I was under anesthesia much longer than anyone had expected, and it was what I call a 'dead sleep,' meaning that while I did not feel any pain Thank G-d, but I also did not dream, and when I woke up, had no memory of having been asleep for almost an hour. I didn't like it.

"This Womb in Clean," [Reference: Poltergeist, the movie] declared the surgeon. After waking up today in my own bed around ten in the morning, I will make every attempt to rest for the next three days, before the boredom makes me want to scream.

While in hospital, Barack Hussein "What the Hell have I gotten myself into" Obama became the 44th President of the United States, and my sister in New York gave birth to a healthy baby boy, with only 15 minutes of labour time.

Now , I would rather focus on two extraordinary women who have shared their stories with me, as I go through this process toward having my own healthy pregnancy and my own healthy child.

The first is Irena, my roommate yesterday at Hadassah. Thanks to my protected status, I received a semi-private room with only two beds, with our own clean bathroom and shower. Irena, an Israeli-Russian nurse about my age, was happily pregnant at 22 weeks - no complications - until three days ago, when she abruptly lost her first child while on vacation with her husband. They rushed back to Jerusalem and she had a D&C, and despite the surgical and medical intervention, when I left yesterday her fever was getting worse rather than better. The surgeon in the Women's Unit had told her that they could only identify one of the two bacteria with which she was infected, and so they were "throwing the antibiotic book" at her system, hoping that one of them will strike the target.

Here's the kicker of this story: she became infected after some amniotic fluid was removed last week in a standard exam for women "our age," by a very capable doctor whom they hired privately at great expense. She did all the right things with all the right doctors, and fell into that small percentage who are harmed by this procedure.

In all this, she comforted me when I was crying, welcomed me with a smile when I returned from the recovery room, and shared her home-made blintzes that her husband had brought. Thanks to her, I did not feel alone, and I did not have to eat a stitch of hospital food.

The second woman I honor today is "A," a friend from college who recently contacted me on the net. In the last four years, she has apparently had too many miscarriages to count, and last year lost a pregnancy after nine weeks. She writes that tissue obtained from the D&C showed that the fetus had an abnormal chromosomal count, and would not have necessarily survived, or lived a healthy life.

Her persistent faith in G-d and Universe amazes and inspires me, she writes: "You should look at each unsuccessful try not as a setback but as part of your journey...I have not lost hope yet that I will have a healthy baby. "

Amen to all of us trying to become mothers, I hope to see you all in the maternity ward with me, within the year.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Day Before

Had a bit of a scare this morning, thinking that the surgery might have to be postponed by a month, but Houston, it's a go!

Today, the day before my minor surgery, I plan to go to the gym and run at least 4k; get a facial and a massage and then work a little. Tonight, I plan to pack for the hospital and get to bed early, as I need to report to Hadassah tomorrow morning by 7:30 am.

I hope that the cats will cooperate and allow themselves to be locked in the house for the next 24 hours. I have already begun the preparations surreptitiously, putting out the litter boxes and extra food, but have done so quietly over the last two days, so as not to tip them off to their impending incarceration. But maybe I do not give their instincts enough credit.

See you all on the other side...