Sunday, April 28, 2013

Babies Don't Love, They Need

It. Is. Almost. Monday.

Umm, I don't know if you know but I'm sort of a big deal and since we last spoke have become uber fancy.  Seriously considering getting myself a smoking jacket, one of those beatnik Hepburn-esque cigarette holders, mayhaps even a monocle.

I discovered this website called... Twatter or Twitter, I'm unclear on the pronunciation.  I don't know if you know about it, it's basically a spinning internet carnival whereby following me is the equivalent of having the disjointed thoughts of your local insane woman sent to your phone or computer at her whim.  This woman, who you probably already follow because she appears to be some sort of uterus Hub, interrogated me under hot lights and water boarded me until I agreed to join.

I'm twittering about my twat @StupidStork, ladies and gents.  Now who else is on there?!?  SHOW YOURSELVES.

This is going to be one of those posts where Stork needs to vent.  (If not to you people, then who, damnit). Now as I am about to get uncharacteristically judgey, please keep in mind that yes I'm a heathen, but usually a very kind and charming one.

Here, to soften you up first, a pug on a slide.


I have previously written a little bit about my half-sister, 'Summer', but don't worry I'll summarize (or Summerize - SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) so there's no catch-up involved.

I was adopted, day one minute one after being born, by the best possible parents a child could ask for. (Tip from an adoptee:  when discussing their origin story - like they're a superhero! - make sure to use the terms 'birthparents'.  'Real parents' or 'your mom and dad' is like nails on a chalkboard.  This has been a PSA).

I did the whole meet the birthparents and siblings thing (I'm sure I'll write about that someday) because I was just too curious.  Birthmom is a nice lady, and she had my half-brother a few years after I was born.  I can completely embrace being genetically related to her, and she raised him herself and did a great job.  Love him, get him, he is a part of my life. 

My birthfather is a story for another day.  Let's just say back in the day, at least, he wasn't the most exemplary of men, and 6 years after I was born he had my half sister, Summer. (Actually, you should really be reading that as Sumer - her name is a common word, but my genius birthfather and her mother didn't know how to spell it properly, so she would forever be Sumer).

Seeing as how the birthfather was older and 'more mature' by the time Summer came along, he attempted to raise her for a few years prior to going to prison.  Her Mom has an involvement in her life but mostly let Summer's grandparents (who are destitute) raise her, and the birthfather has remained mostly out.  (For the record, I am obviously for countless reasons extremely fortunate to have been adopted, and wish I had a magic wand to make Summer just as lucky).

I didn't know about Summer until I was a teenager, and we wrote letters.  A little while after Bub and I were married, I flew her out to L.A. for a week and that was the one and only time we've been in the same space. I love her very much, I do - but as is true with the entirety of my paternal side, I don't really 'get' her.  We keep in touch via facebook occasionally, and that will probably be the extent of our relationship.

Summer has not been single for more than five minutes since she was 16.  She is now 24 and from what I can tell has been engaged to every other 'man' that has come into her life.  After cheating on each other, and breaking up and getting back together right up until the wedding, Summer married 'Brad' this past fall.  They were on foodstamps, welfare, and Summer has no plans to get a job.  They of course immediately started to try and get pregnant and (of course!) immediately succeeded, but don't worry I don't think this is getting in the way of her spending her money on and smoking pot. She is now 5 months pregnant, and as of today I have just learned that she is back with her destitute and very elderly grandfather, and getting a divorce.

I want to make clear that I love her, and again, wish I had a magic wand that could help her.  I also want to make clear that I have no idea where I would be if I wasn't lucky enough to be adopted.. maybe even worse off than she is.

But here comes the vent.  If the pug didn't do it please be softened by this very demanding christmas tree.


I am, as you probably know, a bleeding heart liberal.  And if ever there was a person that needed financial help from the government?  Summer is it.  What I have a hard time understanding is when you're in a position to need that much help, you're 24 and you've been married for 2 months, how planning a baby right away sounds like a smart idea.

Yesterday, I quite innocently popped onto Facebook and was taken aback by 3 things in my newsfeed, one on top of the other:
  1. Selfies Brad took of himself posing with money
  2. that he has listed himself as 'separated'
  3. Summer is now listed under her maiden name.
I immediately sent her a message to see what happened.

No one cheated, no one beat anyone, but he was coming home from work late an entire week in a row and then didn't put ultrasound pictures up on his Facebook page.  So she left.  That's it, the end of the 6 month marriage, full steam ahead towards divorce.  She was temporarily homeless, now she's living back with her grandfather but don't worry, she's now with a guy who 'wants to be there for her'.  This all happened in two weeks.  

I told her I loved her, I'm sorry this situation didn't work out for her, I'm thinking happy thoughts for her, let me know if she needs anything.

But, of course, there are a few things I really want to say.

(Try to still love me, please).

I fully understand the difference between Summer and I, as far as how our 'surprise' existence was dealt with.  I was given up for adoption because somehow my birthmother, despite her age and inexperience, understood that I needed a different kind of love than she could provide.  At that time, she really could've used someone to show up and love her unconditionally, but on some level she understood that I was not that candidate and she was not ready.  With Summer, her Mom wanted someone to fill the holes in her life and thought Summer was the candidate.  When she realized that that wasn't how it was going to pan out, Summer got passed around.

Now that I'm an adult, because of how I was raised and the kind of love I was exposed to, I get that having someone to love you is not a good primary reason to have a child.  And because of how Summer was raised, I can't help but think she doesn't get that.

No one has any business creating a human being just so that they can have someone who loves them. No one.

Babies are hopefully born of love, and those babies will grow up to love you.... but babies don't really love, babies need.

It is the only existing relationship that I can think of where the design of it is entirely for one person to pour their love and everything that they can give, gleefully into someone who only has the ability to take it.

In an ideal world the person consciously making a decision to create themselves this kind of relationship does it because they are so full of love, care and attention that they want to channel that into that child and see what grows. Again, not because they're lacking love but because they have so much of it. They understand that there's two kinds of love - the love you give a child, and the love you give everyone else.

Any other type of love on the planet, you can expect full reciprocation, and if you're giving more than you're getting, a person of good self esteem eventually says "peace, I'm out".  Love for a child should ideally come with the total understanding that for a long time your job is to give and their job is to take - which logically means that this is not going to be the thing that makes up for all those adults who didn't reciprocate.

Trying to fill adult-made holes with a baby is like trying to solve the problem of thirst by putting on moisturizer.  It's not the same thing.

Of course your baby loves you... but it's not going to make up for adults not loving you, or you not loving yourself.  A baby should just have to deal with growing up, not with righting the wrongs of the adults you had in your life.

If what you want is a tomato garden, you plant it with the understanding that it's going to take commitment.  You plant seeds, you water, you make sure it gets the right amount of light and attention.  That act alone is supposed to feed your soul. If you do a good job, later on you'll get tomatoes.  If you do it in the hopes that those seeds immediately after - shall we say implantation? - are going to turn around and concern themselves with whether or not you're getting enough light and attention, you're going to end up with a mess in your backyard.

Yes I'm over simplifying, yes I realize it's not an ideal world and I doubt there's one person reading this who isn't familiar with the apparent law of the universe that the very women who get instant gratification in the reproductive department are often times the very women who don't think about these things.

I'm just saying if the majority of your reasoning behind creating a human being is because you want someone to love you?  You have it backwards.  Create a human being because you want to love, because you want to experience what it's like to pour your heart and soul into someone just to see what they'll do with it.

And of course, no one is going to love you like your child is going to love you.  I have the Mother of all Mothers, and if she needed a kidney tomorrow I would rip it out with my bare hands.

But I'm 31.  When I arrived, I was a ball of confusion and need, and though I'm sure she was my favorite person from day one, let's be honest, for the first couple of years it was probably in large part because girlfriend showed up with a bottle when I was hungry and a clean diaper when I had pooped.  Child love instantly available - adult gratitude and love come later.

A baby is helpless, innocent, new.  When it arrives and for several years to forever, the only item on the agenda is for you to make him/her feel loved in the scary new world, teach him/her about it, help usher them through it in a way that will keep them happy and safe.  That's the item on the agenda.  They don't exist solely to arrive and immediately start to provide you with the love themselves.  That was your Moms job.

If tomorrow I am beamed up and sent to Mars (hopefully you're not, at this point, wishing this on me) I don't think my first order of business will be making the aliens feel loved and safe.  Maybe in time I will, but frankly for a good long while there I'm just gonna need them to explain to me how to breathe right and navigate, and then in time when I finally have my wits about me I will love them for it.

If what you're looking for is to fill a hole in your heart that was created by adults, a baby is not immediately going to be able to fill it - those are adult sized holes.  I wish for everyone that there is at least one person on the planet who makes you feel whole, complete, and loved, however in this world there are people in their 50s who don't know how to do that for another person, a baby is not going to instantly figure it out.  I just can't help but think that the kind of hole that Summer is dealing with, Summer should figure out how to fill herself.

And I know I'm not some perfectly together, fully whole person.  I know that if I'm given the opportunity to parent I'm going to fuck it up royally at times, and there will be times when I unfairly expect my child to fill a hole that they didn't create.

But I get that a baby, when they arrive, needs.  And that it's my job to fill those needs.

I get that my job is to be covered in cheerios, panicking every time they get a cut and to be a sexless ball of providing for a few years.

I get that what I'll be receiving is the ability and opportunity to love and care for someone on a level that I don't yet know, and that that's the part of the experience that's going to feed me.

I get that I am volunteering to put my needs and wants on the back burner just to get the opportunity to put theirs first.

I get that whatever shortcomings I have as a result of my time on this earth, that it's my job to fix them and not my childs.

I get that you have a child to love and provide, not to be loved and provided for.

I get that I have to dramatically pause anytime I want to make a decision and that even though I'll fuck it up sometimes, I need to make our baby the deciding factor rather than myself.

I get that I'm volunteering to downgrade my husband and my love life to second place on the list of priorities, just for the opportunity to look into the eyes of that loves product.

I get all these things.

What I don't get, of course, is a baby.



45 comments:

  1. If only everyone who 'wanted' a baby had this level of self reflection, I think that there would be fewer poorly adjusted humans running about. I'm sorry for Summer, for Brad, and for you-- although, if the way I've seen these things play out before is any indication, they might not be done just yet...

    Thank you for your thoughtful reflections, and I hope that you will get the chance this summer to become that giver of all things, beginning with sharing your bladder space with a small invader.

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    1. Thank you lovely! Cannot wait. CAN'T. WAIT. For the opportunity for my own space alien to invade me. :) Thank you for the kind words.

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  2. Beautifully said! I said this a few days ago but you really say things in such a way that I can never seem to say myself! I can empathize with your situation (not exactly the same but in some ways close) and have wondered some of those same things myself! No judgement from me - I totally get it.

    On a side note: I think if I lived out in LA and we ever hung out, you and I would probably get into trouble! You totally get it. =)

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    1. Thank you!

      Yes, you should come to L.A. We shall paint the town red.

      Now do you have a blog or a twitter handle or something? I click on your name and it says "noooo. NO! You CAN'T GO ANYWHERE!!!!" I may be paraphrasing a bit.

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    2. I followed you on twitter last night (at least I think it was last night - it's been a busy day!) My twitter is @thekarilou

      Maybe that will work! =)

      I used to have a blog of just nonsense really on blogger, then I moved it to word press and then I stopped writing. Dealing with a job change, crazy grad school and the stress of coming to the conclusion that I had a fertility problem kind of left me not really wanting to write, or rather not really knowing what to write because all I felt was dysfunctional like something was wrong. Now I am really contemplating writing about this whole "journey" (for lack of a better word) - because I am the only one in my family who has had this struggle and it has become clear to me that not many people (other than those who are on this journey as well) don't exactly get it or know how to talk about it! (As many of us have learned.) Reading your blog though has started to make me think maybe I need to share too . . . =)

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    3. WRITE, damn you, WRITE!

      I shall be your first gleeful follower and I'mma tellin' ya.... It is amazing and free therapy. It is an unbelievable feeling to be able to talk about this stuff and just have one person go "YUP".

      Okay I should be following you now, I believe..

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  3. There are a few people on my own fb time time I would rather like to send this post to. You nailed this my friend. I couldn't agree with the sentiments of this post more strongly. The babies who get you for a mummy are going to be so very lucky. I cannot wait to meet them.

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    1. Thank you lovely! And let's not forget that should I end up pregnant our children are already betrothed... I CALLED IT.

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  4. This should be required reading for anybody who thinks a baby is the solution to whatever else is missing in his/her life.

    Your last line brought tears to my eyes. And the unfairness of it all blows my mind.

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    1. Yeah.. At this point I mostly wake up feeling like 'it is what it is' (numbness/denial) but then on some days when I hear stuff like this I'm totally struck down by how unfair it all is. Never felt this sort of inexplicable injustice before in my life.

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  5. This post nails so many things on the head for me. You are so damn right. Why is it we women who are so screwed up biologically are the ONLY ones who know this stuff….I guess it’s sadly because all that free time we have from not popping out a bajillion babies from our vaginas means we have all the more time to reflect…
    This post rings true for many people in my life, both past and present. The most predominant of which is sadly my own mother. Don’t get me wrong, she was a fabulous mother to us as kids and she loved fully and completely, perhaps when we were children she didn’t expect us to give her the love she had lacked, but she certainly had us to fill holes that she herself had been unable to fill, holes left by my father, holes left by her own parents. And that is all too clear now, 23 years after she gave birth to her last child. She has even said that she had us so that she could have the childhood she ‘never had’.
    The other was my ex’s younger sister who fell pregnant with her first aged 16, a short year after I had been diagnosed. She actually said stuff like “Now I will have someone to love me.” By the time her little boy was two, TWO, he was making her breakfast whilst she kept her lazy ass in bed. And then shouted at him for spilling milk. At the time I had even suggested to my ex that we adopt him and we truly considered it. Of course it is better for me now that we didn’t, but still I can never forget that little boy and how damaged I know he will be. Last I knew she was on her 4th child…ugh
    So you are so right, I don’t think it judegy because it’s true. But maybe I am that judgey too! The world and its unfairness sucks ass.

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    1. NO child can fill those kinds of holes. NONE. I'm sure your Mom was/is lovely but it's such an unfair expectation to have for a child.

      A TWO YEAR OLD WAS BRINGING SOMEONE BREAKFAST? That is infuriating... And of COURSE she's on her 4th child. Of COURSE she is. I genuinely worry sometimes about what the general population is going to be like 50 years from now based on who is procreating easily.

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  6. Wow...what a wonderful post. It's a very unfair universe that gives those people babies and not so many wonderful people I see TTCing. Welcome to twitter. I look forward to following you.

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    1. Thank you lady! It's mind boggling... Of all the easily-fertile parents I know who have more than one child, there's only one set I would even let babysit my dogs. (Judgey, I know, but sadly true... Maybe it's just my luck).

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  7. Really great post, and very well said. You hit the nail on the head. I've known a few people in a similar type situation as your sister, so I can relate.

    Also, going to click through to twitter and follow you :)

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  8. Man, you are a good writer and a wise broad. I stumbled across your blog recently and have been massively enjoying it - I'm not from the IF world, so don't tend to comment much. But this was so beautifully expressed, I just had to this time. I hope you get to be a mother really soon, because with wisdom like this, you will be the most wonderful one.

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    1. Holy shit - thank you! What a great compliment... And please oh please, join in IFer or no. I love me an understanding fertile. ;)

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  9. This post should be shared as a tab on EVERY fertility/infertility/parenting blog in existence. I am giving you a STANDING OVATION, my friend ;-)

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    1. Ha! Thank you, thank you... It would be so much easier if there were some sort of pamphlet immediately sent to anyone thinking about having a baby, you know? Good reasons to do it vs. bad reasons to do it.

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  10. How anyone could possibly take offense to this post is beyond me. It is a perfect rendition of what it means to be a mother. This succinctly describes the thought process every parent to be should go through before taking that giant step of bringing a child into this world. You are so ready to be a mom is almost scary....I hope and pray for you every day and your child is out there....somewhere....I love this post so much and you for writing it so freaking beautifully...oh and you totally deserve that smoking jacket thing...you are a BIG DEAL!!!

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    1. I heart you so hard. Thanks for keeping some positivity up for my uterus, my love...

      I was a little worried someone would comment "my baby fills all my childhood holes, asshat!"

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  11. I am lost for words. This was so beautifully written and so well put. You are so ready to be a mom. I hope so much for you that this is just around the corner.

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  12. Absolutely not offensive. Absolutely 100% true. My BIL and SIL are trying to have a baby just because they just got married so therefore, it's "time". But they're both so selfish that I don't think they understand that once that baby exists in the real world that they and their needs are second third fourth or even just non-existent. People have babies for all the wrong reasons but I swear I want one for the right reasons-and you do too.

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    1. We do, damnit. we do.

      I think a lot of people have babies like fashion accessories.

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  13. TRY to still love you? Hell, I love you MORE than I did before. Because you are absolutely right in everything you said.

    The situation with your sister - and situations in my own life - are the things that make me incredibly bitter about things like Mother's Day. I wrote last week that I'm dreading it again this year, even though I can technically celebrate it for the very first time, because it pisses me off so much that anyone who shat out a baby gets treated like the freaking Madonna (Jesus' mom, not the singer), whether she's a good mother or not. And I get even more pissed off about it when I read posts like this because you ARE a mother - not in body (yet), but in heart - and you and all the women like you deserve to be celebrated for loving your unborn children so much that you will put yourselves through absolute hell to bring them into this world. It just makes me want to throw a temper tantrum and scream about unfair the world is.

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    1. Thank you, lover.. I can't help but think what a better world this would be if people had to earn being a mother instead of just automatically having it handed to them.

      And PS - in case you wanted to be more grossed out, unbeknownst to her Facebook is sharing every time she's browsing through people on some 'hook up' app..

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  14. I've said similar to my husband before and during this infertility journey that has lead up to donor eggs. I remind him that a baby's needs will have to come first as they only think with the ID. They want and they need. Simple as that.

    I added you to my twitter feed. If you want to add me: @RPallack

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    1. I really don't understand how people don't get that! At least on a logical level...

      Followed you!

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  15. My first thought as I started reading about Summer was that she is clearly having a baby to fill the void of her bad childhood and to have somebody to love her. Then you put that sentiment into words much more eloquently than I could have. I don't see how anyone could find fault with your sentiments. People out there have babies for all the wrong reasons all the time. Nothing wrong with pointing out the unfairness and stupidity of it all.

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    1. Thanks! I was genuinely worried someone was going to say something along the lines of "well my baby loves me and fills all voids! You know nothing you barren witch!" etc etc. lol

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  16. Delurking for a second time this week to say: you so unbelievably rock; your commenters have all said it so well; your beautiful heart and brain make you already a freaking amazing mom; I want to shove a baby in your womb (and ALL of these ladies) so bad! Can't wait to follow your summer adventures - you're going to wrastle your share of fairness out of this universe because it's damn time! p.s. I live in LA. I hope we run into each other at a smoking jacket store very soon!

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    1. Hey gorgeous! Thank you thank you.. And PLEASE shove a baby in my womb.

      You live in LA? Why don't we have some sort of infertile LA meet up!

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  17. Oh my gosh... what a family structure! And while Summer does sound like a wonderful sister in so many ways, she also sounds like a total train wreck -- and I mean that in the most loving way, really, because it's through barely any fault of her own. Regardless, it must be so difficult for you to support her when there's this repetitive cycle of bad choices, bad men, etc., and you're just stuck with all your good life decisions lined up in a row and no baby to show for it. I will say, however, that you WILL get a baby. It's coming. It's just taking it's sweet fucking time.

    Also, I just re-watched Heathers and noticed that Winona Ryder wears a monocle for MUCH of the film, whenever she's writing in her diary. So you should seriously consider doing the same.

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    1. Oh she is definitely a train wreck. Unfortunately she was placed on the train tracks since birth, but I still get so frustrated that as an adult even with people trying to help her she doesn't seem to want off of them.

      WHAT?! Winona Ryder wears a MONOCLE in Heathers?! How have I not noticed this...

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  18. I hope something switches with Summer and that baby gets what she needs. It's hard to give what you have not received and that might be the case with her, sad to see history repeat itself. I'm glad Summer has you in her life and that your wisdom will rub off on her somehow.

    You are an awesome writer, of course!!

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    1. Thank you gorgeous!

      I have tried with her in the past to kind of gently help her.. You know, there's nothing wrong with being single, if you can't stand your own company you're not going to end up with anyone who can stand it either... I so need a magic wand. There'd be a whole lot of uterine justice happening in this world if I just had a magic wand!

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  19. This post is beautifully written. I'm impressed by your ability to look at it so objectively but still with sensitivity and emotion. This post really reminds me of the stories I hear in my job as a child psychologist. So many generations of families, having babies, when they aren't prepared or psychologically able to provide what they need to provide for their families. And, of course, these women always seem to be ridiculously fertile. Then, I treat their children, who now have their own psychological pain. It's hard to see. But, on the positive side, for some of these women, having their children is the very best thing that ever happened to them. This is part of the magic.

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    1. Thank you! I'm so hoping that for her, when the baby actually arrives it's going to hit her with some hard earned reality.

      That sounds harsh.. but we're talking about a woman whose 'future mommy' photo album on facebook is entirely of her boobs (no kidding - not one inch of tummy. Just boobs). And now somehow it's notifying me every time she checks out a guy on some hook-up app. (I'm wondering at what point in setting up a random hook up you slip in that you're 5 months pregnant).

      I hope.. I so hope it ends up being a good thing for her.

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  20. I just came across this post from Kharini's blog. First of all, I am so sorry that you are yet another strong, wonderful woman that is dealing with the awful disease that is infertility. This post really touched me and my heart aches for your half sister and the road in front of her and her baby. My bestie battled IF for many years and adopted a wonderful baby 3 years ago and I can only wish that her daughter grows up to say such loving things about them one day. Truly a beautiful post. Looking forward to reading more of your story and following along in your journey. All my best.

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