Hi. I just, well, I just have had hard time figuring out what to say, but the lovely Kami opened up a neat little can of worms, and I feel like I can blog about this subject without wandering too far over in to my husbands emotional territory. As many of you know, Kami used a known egg donor for her cycle with her daughter LB. The donor lives nearby, and Kami has been trying to work out what kind of relationship makes sense between LB and the Donor. Now, if the sperm donation works out, we won't have that exact issue (willing to be known to the child at age 18, but unknown to us), but the issue we do have is where does the donor fit in? How do we make him an accessible fantasy (i.e. allows the child space enough to think about him), without inserting him into our family in a way that diminishes my husband, who will be the 'real' father in every sense of the word.
Hi. I just, well, I just have had hard time figuring out what to say, but the lovely Kami opened up a neat little can of worms, and I feel like I can blog about this subject without wandering too far over in to my husbands emotional territory.
As many of you know, Kami used a known egg donor for her cycle with her daughter LB. The donor lives nearby, and Kami has been trying to work out what kind of relationship makes sense between LB and the Donor. Now, if the sperm donation works out, we won't have that exact issue (willing to be known to the child at age 18, but unknown to us), but the issue we do have is where does the donor fit in? How do we make him an accessible fantasy (i.e. allows the child space enough to think about him), without inserting him into our family in a way that diminishes my husband, who will be the 'real' father in every sense of the word.
Ultimately, I am the biggest problem in all of this. The donor, he's off living his life, at most wondering what it's going to be like if any of those kids actually contact him, our child/children will be pretty involved with us and hopefully able to integrate the reality of their genetic and social father's, and my husband, well I just have a lot of faith in him, lets leave it at that. But me, I'm a blabber mouth. If someone says "Where does she/he get those gorgeous eyes/eyelashes/curls/basketball skills" (sports prowess is something husband and I totally can't claim) I fear I'll say something like "Well, we don't' know what the donor looks like, but ..." I have a tendency to always tell the truth. Like in the title of the post, this is what I actually said to some random acquaintance of my mothers. That was the actual truth, my mother had a bladder infection, that's how she was. Now I can dissemble appropriately as an adult but I am afraid that I'll insert the donor in at times where he really doesn't fit, or it doesn't make sense, and I'll hurt my husband and my child/ren.
For example, we were at our friends house, the ones who had the identical twin girls (who, by the way, are darling and currently learning that Auntie Sarah will run and jump to put your pacifier in the moment it falls out, whether or not it is strictly necessary!) and they were talking about some aspect of their daughters and how they resemble or don't resemble one or the other parents. I was enjoying it, but then out of my mouth pops some silly worry I have about the donor. And my husband's face takes on that kind of hurt look that probably only I register, and then I feel like an ass.
In one book I read about donor gamete parenting it said that the most painful aspect of many parents experience was resemblance talk--hearing others freely engage in it, and knowing that they could, but only up to a point. I think that I must have been feeling invisible, or left out, my usual trigger for blurting out something inappropriate. That isn't to say they shouldn't do it in front of us--it is fun, and I enjoy playing "pin the nose on the parent" as much has the next gal, but I think that if I'm not aware of when it hits that "invisible" button within me, I'm going to bring the donor in at inappropriate times. Right now, the person that hurts most is my husband, but in the future, the person it's going to hurt and confuse the most is our child, and that is not a good thing, ya know?
I am afraid of my big fat mouth. I am not an out of control impulsive wreck (any more!), but whenever I feel that kernel of impulsivity starting to gain strength, I get good and freaked out. I just don't want to screw this up. And by this I mean my child, or my marriage.
Two things happened this weekend that have really had a huge impact on me and my thinking and feeling. One was a segment on This American Life featuring Lennard Davis who, after his father died was told that his father was not his genetic father. He goes though all sorts of stuff, and finally confirms that his father is not his genetic father. The two things that stood out for me was that he wished he could talk to his parents (both were dead), and that they had told him themselves, as well as feeling compassion for what his father must have went through. When Ira Glass asked him how he imagines that would be he said something like "Well, we'd probably end up all fighting with each other, and then go eat some terrible food my mom made." Even writing that, chokes me up, and here is why. Here is a man who always felt on the outside, who couldn't make sense of how he was related to his father, and when given a 'pass' on having to claim him as his 'real' father, he feels gratitude, and compassion, and longs for the days when they could do their family thing of fighting with each other, and eating bad cooking. He doesn't go into the fantasy of another father, he goes into a fantasy about being with his father--with his family and the four of them doing their thing.
The other thing that had a big impact was reading on a parenting board the story of woman who was told by her mother right after her fathers death when she was 18 "Don't worry, he wasn't your real father". She said she wanted to scream "Of course he's my real father!" and then she went on to list all the ways he was her father in a way that no sperm donor could ever be.
I feel such outrage for this woman. Her own mother tries to comfort her in her grief by saying "this man who loved and nurtured you is not worth grieving over because you don't share a genetic connection." How utterly ridiculous, and hurtful and on and on.
So where does that leave me? On the corner of Walk and Don't Walk. In one way I am raring to go. Ready to get this damn show on the road, and on the other, I'm worried. I'm worried that I'm going to screw this up in some way.
Resemblance talk, identification with a parent, it's all a part of how one belongs in a family. I know it can be overdone. It often solidified the alliance between my father and myself, and excluded my mother from the group. Hmmm. Maybe that is what I'm worried about too. Must make a note to talk to therapist about that one! Anyway, back to my stream of consciousness: Ultimately my husband and children are going to share traits, interests, little habits of living that bear linking. Ferchissakes we make identifications with the body styles and personalities of our cats! So will it be ok? Can I say "Yeesh, little boy blue is just as grumpy when he wakes up as you are!" Or do I have to hold that back because it isn't technically 'where' he gets it? But human traits are shared across the species. That is why we end up with friends and partners! We can identify with them in some way. Can we play with this resemblance talk even if it isn't technically completely accurate? I know that literally we can, but can we?