Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Emotions & Life Changing Moments

Yesterday was the day. After all the tests and planning and discussion, the stars were lined up and our journey toward parenthood took another step.

The process is remarkably technical, with everything timed out carefully. Ovulation was calculated, then at precisely 10:45 Sunday night I took an HGC shot to "trigger" ovulation precisely 36 hours before d-day. Tuesday morning was our first try to get pregnant. Rachel and I made sure that we left our house to get there with plenty of time. And that's how we ended up in front of the doctor's office a full 45 minutes before our appointment.

Rachel and I got out of the car and decided to take a walk to pass the time. As we walked, the worries set in. What were we getting ourselves into? Were we really ready for this? Would that little, annoying voice in the back of our head that taunted "What you're doing is against the church and immoral!" go away. It's that voice that keeps popping up, but every time it does, I've looked closer at it and have seen only a ghostly remnant of a lifetime of teaching. When I engage that voice I ask it the follow up questions, like "are you really saying that the 2 of us shouldn't have a child? Do you really think that two loving parents raising a child they desperately want is immoral?" The funny thing is, the voice doesn't respond and in fact withers away. So, as Rachel and I walked among the medical offices, we nervously went through all of our fears and concerns. And we ended in the same place we always have, knowing that despite everything, this is what feels right and this is what we want to do. But heck, we were both pretty nervous.

Finally, it was 10:45 Tuesday morning and time to meet with the doctor for our 1 in 3 chance to get pregnant. We went back to the room and settled in. I'll spare the gory details, but the doctor walked me through it step by step until everything was done. Finally, the doctor and the two other medical assistants left the room and told me to lie there with my hips raised for 10 minutes. Everything got quiet and Rachel came over and held my hand. We looked at each other and just started crying. We were overcome with emotion, just pure emotion, and it surprised both of us. Everything in that moment felt right and good and pure and I wanted to stay in that moment forever... my feelings were just so... big. I know this whole process is an emotional roller coaster, and I know that we're just at the beginning. But, lying there in the doctor's office holding Rachel's hand I felt like everything in my life had led up to that exact moment.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Going Shopping

Over the past 7 months after coming out to our family and friends, Rachel and I have started moving forward with our lives in some big ways. I feel like I was stuck in a holding pattern for so many years, not really able or willing to think too far in the future about what I wanted my life to look like because of the irreconcilable nature of our relationship and the church. I couldn't imagine a future without Rachel, but I couldn't imagine a life without the church, and so I just stopped my brain from thinking too much about it. Now, that's all changed, and it's been one of the biggest changes and blessings of the past year. I don't feel like I'm waiting at all for my life to begin. I can find joy in the present, but I can also look forward to a future full of those things that I want. What all of that leads us to, is that Rachel and I are starting a family together. Not only are we now truly, and in every sense of the word that matters to me, each other's family, we're also working to expand our family. And that is why we spent the other night shopping... for sperm.

It's an interesting experience trying to find the genetic material that you want to be in your offspring via a website, profile pictures, and information reminiscent of online dating profiles... plus some extensive medical histories, and a high level of anonymity. It's like sorting through products on Amazon, except this time it's deciding preferences on how tall should the donor be? How about hair color? Eye color? Educational background? Ethnic background? Profession? Want to hear an interview with the donor? Okay. Want to see the medical history of his entire family, including cousins? No problem. Want to see what he looked like as a child? Click here. Now decide- whose genes do you want to make a baby with? Kindof a surreal experience that I didn't anticipate having a year ago.

I've finished an extensive round of tests and was informed that aside from a lack of sperm, there's no reason why I'm not already pregnant- so that's great news! And, I've also learned that at age 35 women experience a steep decline in fertility rates, so at least we're getting started a whole month before my 35th b-day. It's already been an emotionally up and down experience, and I know that will only increase, but I'm just so thankful that I feel like the captain of my own destiny and that together Rachel and I can truly build a life together, deciding just what that means to us. Choosing a sperm donor was an unexpectedly empowering moment.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Gene Robinson Gives Me The Words I Need

I had every intention of blogging regularly, of documenting and sharing this part of our journey out of the closet and into the next phase of life. But, like I'm sure so many others have experienced, I just didn't find my way back here. I've had so many posts drafted in my head, but they never found their way to the keyboard. Oh well... nothing to do but move forward. The past few months have been in many ways far easier and more liberating than I ever dared hope that coming out of the closet would be. I'm still not as open about my life as I'd like to be, but I can see myself getting closer. 

When I heard about the new LDS church website, I really wanted to be optimistic. But, as I actually watched the videos and read the text, I just felt angry. I couldn't stop feeling like the tone was condescending and actually dehumanizing. I couldn't find the words to explain why I felt that way, and I started to wonder if I was just being a grinch. I've read others' perspectives, like the Crazy Mormon, which expressed the thoughts I couldn't and helped me find the words for the frustration this website evoked. But I think the best summary of the inherent discrimination repeated throughout this website is explained by Gene Robinson in his book God Believes in Love (which everyone needs to read!):

"It is interesting to see conservative religious leaders and followers... attempt to take "higher" ground and to sound both sympathetic and reasonable in asserting, 'Well, there's nothing wrong with being gay, as long as you never indulge yourself in this horrific and God-condemned drug of choice.' Initially, this sounds so much kinder and gentler than outright condemnation of being gay. But when analyzed more closely it is hardly a step forward. Such 'compassionate conservatism' has only been the reluctantly offered attitude when outright rejection of a beloved son or daughter or fellow church member has seemed too cruel. For countless centuries, outright rejection has been the order of the day." (pp. 38-39) 

There is one statement made on the website that has been running through my head for weeks. In an effort to show how members of the church can still love gays and lesbians in their life, Greg argues that ones sexuality is actually such a small sliver of what it means to be human that it's hardly worth talking about. I'm exaggerating, of course. What he actually says is, "I think it is always useful to the process of creating dialogue to understand that homosexuality, that may be such a huge part of how we perceive that person, in reality is just a minor part... it seems to me like if this represents a person's entire personality, all of who and what they are, that their sexuality, whether it's homosexuality or heterosexuality, is just a small little slice of that bigger pie. We've got to keep that in perspective and say look, I can love this person, I can relate with this person..." Hearing this statement upset me on such a deep level that I was frankly shocked by my own response. Every time I saw a status update on Facebook celebrating an anniversary, every time someone mentioned the cute thing their child just did, or the sweet present that their husband gave them I wanted to shout at them "HOW DARE YOU FLAUNT YOUR HETEROSEXUALITY!" It just doesn't seem like a "small slice" of people's lives.

So, when I kept reading in Robinson's book and heard him discuss the same phenomenon, I felt like a bobble head nodding my agreement. He expresses it so much better than I can: "Some 'tolerant' people might even say, in exasperation, 'I know you are gay, but do you have to keep rubbing it in my face? Stop flaunting it!' Such sentiments mark only a slight improvement over outright intolerance. Now, to be sure, tolerance is preferable to intolerance, and a 'let it be' attitude is certainly much better than violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. But it's not much of an improvement. To someone like me, on the receiving end of this kind of 'tolerance,' it still feels abusive and life denying and not a lot different from outright disdain. Perhaps that seems unfair and small-minded to those who say these things, but most gay and lesbian people I know are not willing to live happily with that more subtle form of heterosexism."

Preach on, brother!  THAT is what bothers me most about the new LDS website, and THAT is what I can't stomach any more of.