Monday, February 13, 2006

Transfer and Why I'd Like You to Click on the Link in the Post Below. Please.

Sunday morning the alarm went off early. It was cold, but bright. Before we left the house, I filled up my Nalgene bottle with water and we trekked out to Partner's truck and the temperature reading said it was 5. Five degrees. I called my parents in South Carolina; my mother had said they were going to walk on the beach at sunrise and throw sand into the ocean for us and our dreams. I wanted to find out if they really did it. (They did, and then came back to their house and drank champagne. I love my parents.) They thought it was cold there until I told them it was five in Michigan. 5, people-- that's pretty cold.

One of the things we had to do on our drive was discuss the "oocyte donor" and "gestational carrier" sheets that we had been given by the RE office. Last cycle when a nurse gave them to us, we said, "Oh, thanks," and then promptly ignored them. (You may remember me railing about not wanting to be called the gestational carrier.) No one ever asked about them again. We thought we'd try the same thing this time, but unfortunately people kept asking about them. Including Dr. BBB on the day of retrieval. He said he couldn't go forward with the transfer without having them signed.

So, on our hour plus drive to the clinic outpost where retrievals and transfers take place, I read the "agreements" out loud. (Oh, Amy, where were you when we needed you? So much legalese!) The oocyte donor sheet was more compact: one line for the donor to give up all rights, and one line for the carrier to take all rights. The gestational carrier document was a little more fluid. There were lines for "donor and partner" along with lines for "carrier and partner" and we just filled in our names in all spaces until the one place where indicated the gestational carrier gave up rights to the donor (and partner). I can't remember how exactly it was worded, but if we had both names listed at that point, it looked like we were both giving up rights.

So we read the documents in the bright cold morning. And then we just drove for awhile in silence and I looked out the car window at the frozen ground and barren trees and tried to think about the meaning of all of this.

If it isn't clear that Partner and I love each other very much and we are our family together, then what else could be clear?

If it isn't clear that I want to have children with this woman, then what else could be clear? Oh my Lord-- do I want that. Even in the moments when I joke about having to give up my manhattans, I know that I would gladly drop them forever to continue growing this family we have started here.

Amazingly, on Sunday, I didn't get angry about this. Instead I thought about how much it hurt to have to sign a document saying that I gave up my "rights" to be the legal parent of this child. And at the same time, how could I ask Partner to do that either? I got selfish in my silence. I got sad. And when we got the clinic, we talked more about it, came to an agreement, and Partner filled out the gestational carrier "agreement" while I watched. I took umbrage with the phrase that all parties signed the document free and voluntarily with no coercion. I watched when she wrote my name accidentally on the line that indicated who would be the legal parent. And then I watched her cross it out and write her own name. And I cried some silent tears. And then she told me that nothing, no piece of paper was going to stop us from both being parents to this child. And we cried some more, and then went inside to get blastocysts made from her eggs transferred into my uterus. That on paper I was relinquishing rights too. Not quite the happy moment you envision when thinking about having a baby. (Then again, not much of IVF is that happy moment, but categorically, this made it about 1000x worse.)

We live outside the law in our marriage. No official has recognized it as real, but we know it is. Just as no official will ever recognize us both as parents, but we know will be. You see, in Michigan, two women cannot both be legal parents of the child. There is no two parent same sex adoption. We'll make up agreements and wills and everything possible in the legal sense to try and protect each other's rights, but it's all pretty academic.

We tried to get away with not giving anyone the document. Partner folded it up in her pocket, but when Dr. BusyBusyBusy came to see us pre-transfer he asked about it. I told him it made me cry. He apologized and held my hand. "It's the law," he said. "I need to have it. I'm sorry, Katie. I'm sorry." And I think he was.

I took my Valium and Motrin. Walked into the procedure room, and laid on that table, legs all akimbo, a white blanket covering me up. Dr. BBB talked to us about the quality of the fertilized eggs and whether we should consider changing the number transferred. Partner rubbed my arm, and I said a few prayers silently when Dr. BBB slipped the blasts through the catheter, and as I was prone on that table afterward, looking into the green green eyes of my Partner, that stupid piece of paper faded. I just thought about us with some little peanuts and how our love would grow to new exponential proportions. And it will, and I understand that is the most important thing.

But I still get scared some days, and just keep hoping that someday people will be able to recognize love and not be threatened by it. In the words of k.d. lang, "And love as a philosophy is simple. And ours."


Blogger Trista said...

Oh Katie, you have me crying. I understand what you feel, I DO. Even though Kristin and I didn't have to sign papers giving away either of our rights, the fact that so much fear sits right alongside so much love and hope, just makes the fear that much more strangling some times. And yet, we still do it. We still work towards the creation of our families and the increasing of love and light. And one day, hopefully, our families will be recognized and honored and neither of us will have to fear losing our children if something were to happen to our partners.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Oh honey, I'm so sorry about those papers. Being legal parents to your children is something heterosexual people take for granted. And something you should be able to too. Glad the transfer went well.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous cj said...

Thank you for the beautiful post. You brought up a lot of things that I have never had to think about. I think that I have taken a lot for granted - and it has inspired me to be more vocal about my beliefs in same sex marriages.

My mom always told me that a mom isn't the person who gave you birth - but it is the woman who holds the bucket when your sick. I believe in a lot of things that woman behind the bucket said. What makes you a mom or a parent isn't the fact that you hold down the top line on the birth certificate with your name.... its the work that you do in the trenches, bucket holding and all.

Sunday was Erick and I's sixth wedding anniversary - and it was also the start of freedom to marry week! I thought a lot about that freedom to marry that I have and again I am inspired to be vocal about why we all should share that same freedom.

Thank you Katie for lighting my fire.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I'm glad to hear that the transfer went well! Sorry about the terrible form. Sometimes it seems worse when something like that is written in ink. I have faith that someday our families will be recognized as they should be.

I'm hoping your two week wait goes by quickly!!

5:38 PM  
Anonymous Manuela said...

Katie... I am so so sorry that the world does not acknowledge your loving relationship with Partner the way it should... it's breaking my heart.

Much love...

6:03 PM  
Blogger art-sweet said...

Katie -

Signing those papers as the "egg donor" was one of the strangest things I think I've ever done. You say it so well: "If it isn't clear that I want to have children with this woman, then what else could be clear?" I really hope this works for you.

Typing with crossed fingers,


6:16 PM  
Blogger Soul Searching said...

it's total crap that you even have to sign the damn papers and it makes me sick that here in the "land of the free" you can't even be free. complete bullshit.

All ranting aside, I have nothing but positive thoughts for your transfer!

8:01 PM  
Blogger Gabrielle said...

I remember those forms. It was insane to us too to have to sign them, but we knew we had no choice, so we gritted our teeth and did the deed. I suggested to our clinic to make up a new form for gay and lesbian couples, however as we were the first at our clinic to 'donate' an egg from one partner to have it carried by the other, where we are both the parents and no-one is giving away their rights, they don't think there is a need yet to go through the cost of making up a new form and getting it approved.

I clicked the link for you, and have everything crossed that the transfer went well and is holding.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous nismat said...

Wishing really hard for you that those peanuts are sticking with you. It must have been so hard to sign those stupid papers, but when it comes down to it, what more could the two of you do to create a family together that you haven't already done?
I loved hearing about your parents sunrise walk and wishes for you :o)

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really hope that one day soon no partners have to sign away those rights that they do deserve to have. I'm so sorry that you have to face them in the meantime.

10:53 AM  
Blogger witchtrivets said...

This is such a telling post about how the denial of the most basic and simple right (to have a legal relationship to your partner) leads to the denial of innumerable other rights -- including the right to have a legal relationship to your own child.

That totally sucks and it makes me very sad to read about it.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Lynnette said...

Katie, I'm so sorry that the legalese caught you up like that. I felt similarly, (although, not exactly the same, at all, I know) when I transferred my genetic embryo to my cousin last summer. Our lawyer told us that because there was no law on the books in her state, technically, she or her husband, even, could fight us for custody if they wanted. Infuriating, really. This probably isn't the place for assvice, but one of my books describes adult adoption as one of the ways to get around the marriage issue. Is this an option for either of you for the legal aspects? I don't know how it works. I signed the petition and I sent it to all my friends who I thought would sign it, too, including my GC and her partner. She thanked me, so I know she was touched. Hopefully that helps a little. Sorry I've been so absent this cycle. Sounds like you've got some nice embies snuggled in there. Blasts, huh? I can only imagine...

6:15 PM  
Blogger Emma B. said...

What a touching post, Katie. Hoping dearly for you that you and Partner get to be parents as well as spouses.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Career Guy said...

Hope you had a happy Valentine's Day in spite of it all.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous thalia said...

Katie i'm sorry that that paper had to be involved in your transfer. I'm glad that you and Partner know what's really going on here. And I'm hoping for those blasts of yours.

7:58 AM  
Blogger frog said...

Fucking society.

You're in my prayers, you know.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Robyn said...

OH Katie!

that sucks so much. so sorry you had to experience the legalese bullshit. but i'm so thankful for you that your doctor's office is supportive. that you are able to get the care that you need to create your family.

and who are pregnant i type this!

keeping you in my thoughts.

10:52 AM  
Blogger PortLairge said...

It makes me so angry that this situation has to occur. I just hope that some day your partnership will be recognized with the same rights as a hetrosexual partnership. Do they make one half of a hetrosexual unmarried couple who have used a sperm or egg donor give up parental rights- no of course they don't. It is so unfair.
That's a fight for another day however. You are now in the two week wait and I am praying so hard for you and I have my Mother lighting candles. How many blasts did you transfer and when do you test so I can start the countdown.
Thinking of you both.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous MFA Mama said...

Oh, Katie. Just look at it this way: even though it sucks that you were put in that position (referring to the papers, not the, uh, anyway...), at least you and Partner are secure and trusting enough in your relationship to enter into this with that kind of vulnerability to each other (you because she is the "parent" and her because possession is nine tenths of the law and, um, well, you'll have the "football" for the next forty weeks, give or take). When Husband and I conceived our first child together (a whoops, believe it or not, with my issues) we had been married for three months and known each other for four and a half, and if it wasn't for Big Child I doubt we'd have pulled it together and made our marriage work. He blatantly did not want the pregnancy, and I blatantly did not want HIM after he made that clear, and of course both our views changed but at that point in time? If you'd asked either of us to sign a form stating that the other was the "legal parent" and just trust that we'd stay together and be a family and both parent our child-to-be? Neither of us would have done it is the sad truth; we didn't trust each other AT ALL (of course we do now, but it took time and marriage counseling). So you and Partner are lucky, in a way, to be starting out with that kind of trust, and your child will be lucky to start life with such loving parents and such a secure home. At least that's my Pollyanna thought for the day. Much love, and sticky thoughts.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

From a heterosexual who is most definitely on your side here I am so sorry the world is set up this way - your post made me cry, and at work no less. I wish it were different and I am hoping these little peanuts stick and you and you and Partner are able to conceive - I think any child of your union (legal or not) will be a very lucky child. Just hang in there -

1:49 PM  
Blogger Hoping said...

I am a regular reader and I am just dying for an update on how you two are doing. You are both in my prayers during this time and to me and to alot of people out both will be the parent no matter what.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

Y'all have me crying again! Thank you.

5:31 PM  
Blogger LilySea said...

That sucks beyond all suckitude. I didn't know ya'll had no second-parent adoption access.

And finally:

11:08 PM  
Anonymous shibug said...

My heart is breaking reading this.

My partner and I longed to do exactly what you and your partner are doing - I would have carried her egg. However, financially we couldn't swing it. We did IUI with an anon donor and I'm 6.5 months pregnant now! And we're thrilled... and we live in California, so her name will actually appear on the birth certificate with mine. We will both be legal guardians automatically.

I feel so blessed to live here, but so guilty, too. It doesn't feel right to enjoy a legal benefit that should be universal and automatic - a legal right that you and your partner should have. I won't ever be able to relax and enjoy these rights until we ALL can.

I sincerely wish the best for you both.

12:54 PM  
Blogger mopsa said...

This post is heartbreaking. Your love is huge and brilliant even from here. We have got to believe that one day we will know victory and our families will be honored. Know that you're paving the way by building your family and I thank you for that.

3:14 PM  

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