Thursday, November 19, 2009

Micah @ 4 months

Dear Micah,
Maybe its from hanging out with the older babies at daycare, but you've changed so much this month! Of most importance to mommy and daddy is the fact that you're now on a nice, 4-hour schedule during the day, and sleeping 11 or 12 hours at night. For a while, you were going to sleep at 6 pm and waking up at 3 am for a feeding, but after a week or so Mommy caught on to you and now you have a nap from 5-6 and then she wakes you up for one last feeding at 7 so you sleep until 6 am, sometimes without waking up at all. Daddy likes this arrangement better, too, because for a while, he wasn't getting home until 6:30 pm, so he wasn't getting to see you in the evenings. You still like to be swaddled very tightly at night, and get upset if the covers get loose.

During the day, you've become, in the words of your daycare supervisor, "a charmer," smiling and ready to engage everyone you see. You're very observant, and seem to take your job of soaking new things in very seriously. At home, you like to sit on our laps and watch our mouths move, trying to figure out how to get yours to do the same, having long conversations with us that consist of nothing but vowel sounds. When we stick out our tongue at you, you do it back. Recently you discovered that you got a laugh out of mommy by splashing her with the bath water, and you started to try to laugh. You're also starting to get the hang of holding things in your hand, although really, you don't understand the point since everything you want is brought to you. You love stretching when you wake up, but still get mighty mad when we make you do tummy time.

In the looks department, you're starting to get rolly polly thighs and chubby feet. In the last month, you've lost most of the full head of hair that you had at birth, except for your long bangs and a lock of hair over your ears; the rest of your head is mostly fuzz, giving you the look of a balding Chasid. You have a big bald patch in back, of course, which daddy worries is going to be permanent. While I'm pretty certain it will grow in, our non-invasive ear correction seems to have been for naught.

You had your first major boo-boo this month when another baby in daycare crawled underneath a small table and tiped it over on your forehead. Luckily this only caused a goose egg on your forehead that didn't seem to phase you too much. We're looking forward to your 4-month check-up next week to learn how well you're growing.

Adorable even when you're cranky!

Love, Mommy

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Postscript on Genes

A year or so ago, there was a NY Times article about a several families who all had children from the same sperm donor and who tracked each other down. While they were curious to meet him (but I don't think he felt the same), they were just as curious to meet each other, to learn about the traits their children shared and commiserate a bit (I think I remember that several of the children had similar medical issues.)

When we chose a donor, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if I would be able to locate any other children that our donor contributed to. We saw photos of two children who were born through our ED; however, they are Indian and apparently their parents intend to keep the facts of their birth a secret. Since we're leaning toward only having one baby, it would be really nice to have a connection with a half-sibling or two or three. However, as our pregnancy went on, I realized that these siblings would be located around the globe, so it might not be very useful for our child to know that he had half-siblings in Australia. But given how fast and easy global communications are, and since my blog seems to have a global reach, I'll just put this out there: if you used an ED from Mumbai named Neha, could you drop me a note at Maybe we'll just decide to put the information in our back pockets and not do anything about it for 5 years, but I owe it to Micah to at least ask the question.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meditation on Genes

There's a lot of online discussion in other blogs about different surrogacy programs, but there's been less discussion of the issues of using donor material. This is a very real issue for many starting the surrogacy process. On the Chai Baby blog ( Charliecat posted an excellent discussion about the dramatic fall-off in fertility for women in their late 30's and early 40's, and about her decision to use an ED. I started to write a reply to her post, but realized that I have more-than-post-it-sized feelings about having had to use an ED. I hope my thoughts are useful to any couple facing the decision of using donor material.

A fertility doctor at one of the World's Greatest Hospitals quickly dashed my hopes of being able to bear or provide the genes for a baby. It was like pulling a band-aid off a wound, painful but quick. In retrospect, I'm glad he saved our energy, emotions, and wallet from going through a lot of procedures that had little chance for success, though at the time I certainly had to go through a process of mourning for not being able to bear a child myself. But at the time (about 4 or 5 years ago), I didn't know about the option for surrogacy overseas, and knowing that would certainly have helped some, but not all, of the pain.

My desire to have a baby was way stronger than my desire to carry on my genes, anyway. We considered using a family member as an ED, but she was nearing 40 as we started the process, and the agency we were in discussions with at the time discouraged us from using her. Frankly, this was a little bit of a relief, since I felt like I'd be putting her through a lot of discomfort and inconvenience by making her give herself shots and leave her family for a week or so to go to India.

The biggest part of using an Indian ED was uncomfortable for us was the lack of any medical or personality information being made available to us. We could only assume that some screening had been done by the agency (although we had little details of that.) Given the lack of information, we made our decision solely on the basis of the donor's looks and a gut feeling. She looked very energetic, warm, upbeat, and very pretty. There was something about her face that reminded me of my grandmother's family, and that helped my decision.

At the time, we didn't realize that there were other agencies in India that could provide more detailed information about their donors. Although so far our child is perfectly healthy, I regret accepting the agency's offerings without trying to find one that could provide more information on their donors. I recently filled out some medical forms at the pediatrician's office, and felt terrible when I had to enter "unknown" next to every line of maternal history. I know Micah faces a lifetime of answering these types of questions, and hope that it doesn't cause him too much pain.

I also wish that there was better language for his situation; something to differentiate between "his mother's (my) side of the family" and "his maternal genetics." If anyone has any linguistic suggestions for how to talk about that, I'd love to hear them; saying "your egg donor" sounds so sci-fi. I wonder if Micah will one day want to go find his "real" mother and be disappointed that he can't.

The option of using a Caucasian ED was introduced a bit too late for us to consider, although it did play a role in our last-minute hesitations about going forward with our Plan A. Would we have done it if we had known about it in time? We might have considered because it would have provided peace of mind in having more medical information and more information about our child's potential personality traits and intellect, and because my husband had a picture in his mind of having a blue-eyed redheaded baby like his mother's side of the family. But there are no guarantees when you're playing with genetics -- even a PhD could produce an incurious child, and even the most physicially beautiful woman could produce a baby that looks like her ugly uncle. When it comes down to it, though, cost was a factor. I feel really lucky that one thing we didn't have to worry about was our child being more or less accepted by family or our communities based on looks.

What we learned when we met Micah for the first time is that genes are really random. We ended up with a baby who shares many characteristics with his dad. And the traits he inherited from the donor -- his thick head of dark brown hair, olive skin, and face shape -- make him look he could come from my side of the family. I didn't think I would care about having a baby that doesn't look like me, and I'm proud of Micah's unique story, but I admit that I feel some relief that we'll have the opportunity to share it when we choose to, and not because we're forced to by curious questions from strangers.
Do I feel any different raising a child that's not genetically related to me? I don't think so. Certainly it doesn't matter one bit in the middle of the night when I wake up to feed him, or when I hold him in my arms and marvel at how much I love him. I do feel a bit of a pang when his father points out traits that they share, but I already can see that Micah is temperamentally different from his father. I intend to make sure that Micah learns ethics, ways of thinking about the world, and and interests from me. I know we'll share an emotional connection. And unlike his father, who has some expectation of having commonalities with Micah and may be disappointed when they aren't the same, I have no such illusions and that may be very healthy.

Now that we've found the answer to the question that we'd wondered about for over a year -- what will our baby look like -- the most interesting question to me is "what kind of personality does our baby have?" And in this regard, we're very much like every other new parent. As it was so well put by a character in my favorite TV series, Mad Men, in speaking about a brand new baby, "We don't know who he is yet or what he's going to be -- and that's a wonderful thing."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

We've become "Those People"

You know the ones -- the people who have a baby and suddenly can't leave their house after 6 pm. The ones who can't go shopping unless the other half of the couple is at home with the baby. The ones who haven't seen a movie or been out to a restaurant together in months. You know the ones... they are incredibly boring and bored.

That's us. But I'm not complaining.

Micah's a great sleeper. As soon as he starts acting cranky, we know it is time for a nap, and as soon as we put him down, he goes to sleep with very little fuss. Except for the recent bouts of projectile vomit (brought on because his baby blues are bigger than his tiny tummy) he's about as easy a guy as you could want. At night, he's going down to sleep between 6 and 7, and usually only wakes once at 2:30 or 3 for a feeding. In return, I think we're giving him what he needs most, the continuity and safety of sleep in his own bed, with quiet and darkness. But, it is making us a little cranky as we are people who are used to being on the go!

When I'm awake at 2:30 at night to feed him, I try to remember through my grogginess that this time is so fleeting, and that he'll be a big boy on the go himself so very soon. I look at my gorgous, cuddly boy (already he looks like a little boy, not a baby!) and can't get over how lucky we got. We took a big roll of the dice and, as Adam wrote me on a card on our wedding day, "I think we are winning."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Fun

Well, Micah wasn't that excited by Halloween this year, but lots of fun was had anyway!

I'm one of those people who would never be caught dead in a holiday-themed outfit, but somehow on a baby, it is absolutely adorable! Thanks to my dear friend Mary Clair for this one!

Micah's first Halloween party!

Getting lots of attention from his cousins Sidney (r), Hannah (middle), and friend.

We had a freak October snowstorm this week in Denver. I skiied 3 miles right from our front doorstep!