Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

We dance a slow waltz to Tom Waits' Closing Time on the iPod in the dining room before I take him upstairs and lay him down in his crib. He cries a little lately since I'm no longer nursing him first in order to place him asleep in the crib. Instead, he is placed in the crib awake so he can learn to self-soothe. Since we only have each other, it's my attempt to help him gain a little independence from me during his day. After five minutes of crying, I visit him and touch his face, caress the top of his head and sing his favourite song, My Bonny. This makes him smile, giggle up at me and turn on his side to snuggle with his bunny. He generally only requires a couple of weepy sessions followed by brief check-ins from me before he falls asleep, contented that I am near, secure that I love him and haven't forgotten about him. I am blessed. He sleeps now, on average, a good six to eight hours overnight.

In the early morning, when he wakes, I take him into my bed and nurse him his morning feed and we watch the dawn illuminate each corner of the room together while he practices sounds and talks, coos up at me. I can't tell if the room brightens more because of my son rising or the sun rising. It's a toss up.

When I decided to pursue In vitro fertilization surgery alone a year ago last summer, the one thing that made me hesitant for a good, long while was the fact that my child would not have a daddy. I wasn't sure if my own longing to be a mum, to experience pregnancy, childbirth and parenting would be a good enough reason to sentence my child to a one-parent existence and the lack of a father in his life. My choice, not his. Was it hugely selfish on my part?

What surprised me when I started seeking a donor was the fact that a Mutual ID Consent program existed. It meant there were actual donors out there who were willing to be contacted at some point in their lives by the offspring resulting from their sperm donation. That gave me such hope. Consequently, I only considered men from this group. It was a much smaller pool from which to choose, but worth it to me. It also said something to me about the donors themselves: they recognized that growing up and not knowing one's biological parent/history can leave somewhat of a hole in one's life (an understatement). I knew there might be questions I could not answer down the road. I also knew that my son would have good male role models in his life. Via my brothers, my brothers-in-law, his 8 male cousins, my own father, my male friends. This further aided my decision to ultimately move forward on my own and pursue surgery.

The day I found the donor I would go with brought immense relief. Sonshine's biological father is only 25 years old at the time he donates. He is caucasian. He's 5', 10". Has straight, black hair and hazel eyes, the same colour as mine. I was thus expecting a baby with a thick head of dark hair to burst forth from my womb. A baby with dark eyes.

My entire pregnancy, everyone (and I mean everyone save for one friend) insists I am going to have a girl. The week before I give birth, however, I dream I have a blond, blue-eyed boy. Still, I do not consider this very portentous as I am still imagining a dark haired/dark eyed child.

But whom do I end up having? A blond, blue-eyed boy. With a lot of copper hints to his blond locks. He has my mother's colouring. I had auburn hair when I was a little girl. There is A LOT of red in my brown hair. This denotes an Irish temper (something I've also had and which yoga has reigned in for the most part). But this fair, blond/coppery hair. These blue, BLUE eyes, I admit, I did not expect!

It's a recessive gene on my mother's side. The odd part is that I do not take after my mother for looks. My sisters do. And one of my brother's. My twin sister is apparently the spitting image of my mother's maternal grandmother. She has a longer face than mine. It's thinner. My face and eyes are wide like my dad's side of the family. Higher cheekbones. I take after my father.

For a while following his birth I keep thinking, because his eyes are such a dark blue, that they might still change to hazel. But no, they are becoming bluer with each day. Sometimes a dark, denim blue and other times a brighter blue, but I believe they will remain blue now.

I examine the photo of us taken by my brother last week at my family's Christmas gathering and I wonder what is it he carries from his biological father, the anonymous donor, whose photos I have seen, but whom I only know as the number he was assigned by the donor clinic? I think it is his long limbs. He has long arms and long legs. Certainly, as he seems destined to have height, he won't have inherited that from me.

What else? He is one calm, curious soul. His even temperament makes me think of the paragraph the donor wrote in his profile (the ultimate deciding factor that led to my choice). My son seems to carry the same wisdom for one so young and a gentle, happy countenance. A definite old soul. My mother says he is like me when I was a baby. I was apparently very content and laid back. (At some point, this turned out not to be the case for a bit. Just ask my first love.) But I think I've come full circle now. For the most part, life makes me very happy and I smile more often than not. It takes a lot for me to get ruffled by anything nowadays. I've found some inner peace over the years. And my boy has brought me greater inner peace than I've ever known heretofore.

I steal another peek in at the crib. His blondish locks have begun to darken a little. They are more caramel-coloured now than his first few months of life. And he certainly has the shape of my eyes. He has my nose. He definitely follows my father's side of the family for looks. But his colouring: that is from my mother.

When he turns 18, he will be given access to the last known contact information of his biological father. He can then decide to attempt to make contact at that point or not. I will support whatever choice he makes.

Until then, I wonder what else he has inherited from the donor I chose. I look forward to discovering more that might hint at the other half of his heritage. He is such a content baby. I obviously made a solid choice. I went with my gut; my intuition. A sweeter child I could not have asked for; he's a dream come true in so many ways.

What a gift this anonymous man has given me. He has no idea how many years I've longed for this particular Joy in my life. I feel so indebted to this young man out there in the world somewhere. I knew he was special when I read his profile, when I first saw the depth of soul behind his eyes in the photograph of him as a child.

That is also what my son inherits.

Blue irises. Irises (my favourite flower) are for Hope. Tears fill my own as I pull his bedroom door ajar and retreat back into the hallway and down the stairs. I swallow the lump in my throat, pray that he forgives my decision to go this alone and make a silent whisper of thanks.

How very lucky I am. To finally be a mommy. To be his mommy.
How amazed! How ecstatic!
And how deeply, enormously and eternally grateful...

Little Wooden Mer-boy: Artwork by KuKu CaJu
Music: Blue Eyes, Elton John


Cabo said...

That was simply Grand. The only word I can sum up. Grand.

You're Son is a lucky boy.

Ciara said...

So beautiful.

I understand your concern. Because sometimes there is no logic to our doubts and worries as parents. But have no doubt, love is the most important thing in a child's life, and that is something Lochie will never lack.
And he is especially lucky to have such a close extended family too!

Brian Miller said...

smiles. it made me think of days when my boys were a bit younger. i am sure you wil raise him to be a wonderful young man. i can hear it in your words.

the b in subtle said...

thank you, all. it's not that i would ever regret my choice to forge ahead on my own. i just don't want him to ever suffer as a result. be teased at school or feel he lacks anything. even though i know he will at some point want to know more about the other half of his genes. (i would in the same position). i just don't want him to ever feel he lacks anything in his life. i'm truly happy i went ahead and grabbed onto Hope's coattails. and i know i am capable of doing this on my own and am happy to even just have the chance for a go at all this now at this stage of my life. at least i was a tomboy and can throw a baseball. really well, actually ;) thanks for all your supportive comments!

Tricia Orchard said...

Tears - again.

What else is new.

I love reading your blog!

Have a lovely evening.


Only A Girl said...

Beautiful, beautiful post. I applaud your decision to have a child on your own. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands! What a brave thing to do.

His eyes (among other things) are AMAZING.

jaboopee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Land of shimp said...

Hello B, I'm here, returning the visit, and glad that I did so.

Here's the thing, anyone who has a child, or rather anyone who plans to have a child and then has one, needs to answer that question. "Could I do this by myself?" because it can happen in any family. I'm not just talking about divorce (although, hey, that happens too), things happen in life. Things we don't expect.

You answered the question, first and foremost. All kids really need is a good, strong, nurturing parent (or parents) in their life.

You took being a parent very seriously, and your little boy is as lucky and blessed as you are.

What a lovely post, and what a pleasure to read :-)

By the way, I don't know if this will be of any interest to you, but I read a fair amount of history, including Family Historians, and our belief in the "traditional" family structure is largely based on fictional constructs/nostalgic beliefs about the past.

If you've any interest in the subject, try Stephanie Coontz, The Way We Never Were. She does write primarily from U.S. stats, but they're indicative of Western Culture.

I did really enjoy your post, and the only reason I'm recommending any authors is because the entire concept of the nuclear family really only dates from the 20th century, and high percentages of people were raised in one parent families in centuries prior to that. Lots of really strong, good, solid people came out of a one parent situation.

Admittedly, you don't need to read anything to understand that. I'm just mentioning it because you might find it interesting and because if your son ever does have questions, there's a lot of material out there on family constructs, and what is common is not what is widely believed to be.

Hehe, I'm sorry! I swear I'm normally not this dry. I just think you made a neat, brave choice, and that you've got a lucky son. So I swung into stats and info mode thinking, "And if anyone ever gives her any guff about it? Boy do I ever have material to help her shoot them down."

the b in subtle said...

Hi 'Alane', is it? thank you for your beautiful supportive comment re: this post. never regard yourself as being too verbose - i type much too much (as a result of typing much too fast, methinks) all the time! but i love it. i will have to check out the material you mentioned. i truly do appreciate your taking the time. my name is nancy, by the way! :)

Brian Miller said...

dont ever be afraid to toss that ball with him. the little investments you make with him along the way will pay dividends when he is older and has questions. hope you week has slowed down a bit and that you both are having a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful... your courage, your son and your words.

The trifecta of strength and determination in full bloom. I am so glad I found your blog- you can bet I will be reading from here on out.

the b in subtle said...

thanks 'Girl' and Elaine and Tricia, too (and again, Brian)!

Titanium - so lovely to 'meet' you and thanks for all your comments thus far on my various posts. i'm thrilled to discover YOUR blog and am so envious of your climbing ability and accomplishments. WOW!

sarah said...

What a lovely, lovely story. Don't think you are selfish. Every person who decides to have a child is being selfish. It's only the ones who do it alone who are questioned and criticised.

I hope your son is able to meet his donor. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they disappear, regardless of contact information. But your son will probably have genetic half-siblings he may also be able to meet. And the soul connection will always be there - the thing you have seen in both of their eyes.

I wish you and your gorgeous boy many blessings.