Friday, July 25, 2008

Begging Nonie to post

Oh Nonie!!!!!
Please for the love of our dear readers!
The poor sap in Brazil, the one lone reader in Mexico and the 2, (count them 2!!!!) readers in Belgium, not to mention, the 10 big fat hairy (I mean just the number not the readers) Americans who have visited this blog-- please please tell them what is happening so they know and can rest easier in the knowledge of our plight.

Monday, June 16, 2008

So what is up with the sperm?

Seriously, Nonie, dear sister of mine, What is UP with the SPERM?????
For full affect please chant the following as if you are a cheerleader:
"Yes, Yes,
Yes, you do,
you have eggs.
Now what to do?"

Dear reader,
I am posting this without prior sisterly approval. Nonie could be peeved about my question. But I have always had a knack for asking the Big-Hairy-Elephant-in-the-room-question that few are willing to ask out loud but EVERYONE is thinking.

P.S. If any of you have any experience acquiring sperm from a known or unknown donor please feel free to leave advice.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

An even BIGGER Weight

I am completely overwhelmed.
I don't know what to say.
Don't be silly---I'll think of SOMETHING!!!!!

There is an enormous weight on my shoulders
  • to reply,
  • to say thank you,
  • to write Nonie's life story in a nutshell (impossible for many reasons, not the least of which is that I wasn't even there for a good portion of it),
  • to apologize to you, the reader, since I feel the previous story may have been a bit of a downer,
  • and to assure you, the reader, that life is really, really GOOD now.
I can't rave about it enough! :) In fact, Life is SO Good that even with the feeling of weight on my shoulders I am strangely at peace with it. It's a good weight. A light and fluffy weight. Perhaps a heated, lavender scented neck and shoulder massage pad thingy.

I do, however, feel compelled to set the record straight on a few things:
I had 6 shots of tequila the night I met my spouse. And I am actually selfish, self-centered and self obsessed....truly, in every instance I was thinking of only my own gain from the situation. Even now I am giving my eggs because:

  1. I want more babies in our family
  2. I am tired of hearing Nonie complain about not having children
  3. I can't wait to see her experience the torturous JOY of parenting
  4. I am hedging my bets-- maybe this will get me into heaven (just in case I am wrong and there is a nice place after all of this)
AND there are many more reasons but these are a few of the more selfish ones used now to selfishly defend my point! HA!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Finally, part 4 of 4. my sissie.

eventually, sissie decided to travel north to Oregon to visit with my brother and his family. My brother is married to a wonderful woman. They have 4 beautiful children. At the time, they ranged from 2 to 14 years old. It was here that Sissie started a new phase of her life. She loved being with the kids and found that it pulled her out of her depression. She lived with them for a time before setting out on her own, this time in Portland Oregon. She made this choice so she could be near her nieces and nephiew. She took a job as a flight attendant and was the valedictorian of her class. It was very strange to see her in the role of flight attendant when she had to demonstrate the use of an oxygen mask and how to buckle and unbuckle the seat-belt. I had never seen her behave in such a serious and professional manner. It was here that she met her husband. Of all places, they met at a gay bar, although neither one of them was gay, and neither one of them were drinkers. I don’t know much about their courtship except that they enjoyed talking for hours and had similar senses of humor. Sissie was taking birth control pills to prevent pregnancy ( I say that because I take them to control raging periods or menorrhagea) but it must have been “meant to be” because she got pregnant anyway. Not only pregnant, she was pregnant with twins. Her boyfriend was living in a basement and she was becoming unable to work due to high blood-pressure. They would have to team up. She moved in to the basement and gestated their two beautiful kids. They found an apartment and moved out of the basement just before the births.

I flew up from California to care for my sister while she was required to be on bed rest. I made boxed macaroni and cheese for lunch and sat with her on her bed, which was surrounded by books about having babies and the like. Hours after I arrived I drove her to her OB/GYN appointment. This appointment was a follow-up for her blood pressure, which was why she was required to be on bed-rest. Within 1 hour she delivered her babies, cesarean section—emergently. Apparently, her blood pressure was dangerously high and required an emergency cesarean to preserve sissies’ life as well as the lives of the babies. We had just enough time to call her boyfriend. He arrived in the cutest fluster. He was so nervous and excited that he actually put on my sister’s jacket in an absent minded act…(just like a TV sit-com). Because we had not anticipated the delivery we were not equipped with a camera, although a video cam rested neatly in a small suitcase with sissies personal effects for the occasion. Thank goodness for random acts of kindness. Fortunately some kind person gave us an unused disposable camera. Those are the only pictures of the births. (Thank you, kind person. We have returned your kindness to others…)

During my sisters pregnancy and afterwards, I witnessed a very big change in her. Before the pregnancy she seemed angry, always fighting for justice and fairness. I suppose this is understandable looking at the events of her life. During her pregnancy, however, there was softness about her. She was so kind and loving, as if she was filled with the holy spirit itself. After the babies were born, Sissie and her boyfriend got married on the beach in a private ceremony. Everything was beautiful. It was raining and the babies were dressed in cream colored fleece bunting outfits. Sissie wore a beautiful raw silk dress that seemed to expand with each raindrop. (I think the raindrops made the raw silk stretch.) Her husband wore a handsome batik shirt. It looked like the most perfect Caribbean wedding…except it was coastal Oregon. We stood under umbrellas in the rain as the couple exchange their wedding vows. It was amazing to see the transformation of a woman so close to me.
I don’t mean to make it sound like my sister is without faults and I don’t mean to gloss over any events in our beginnings. It’s more that it is difficult to condense a lifetime of living into a few pages of text. What ends up happening is that you take the life ingredients, mix them up and boil them down…much like the recipe for a cooking project. What you have left is a good tasting recipe or a bad tasting recipe. Or, what you have left is a good feeling life story or a bad feeling life story. I would have to say that my sissies’ life recipe is a good feeling life story. She was born out of the darkness into the light of her own choices. I respect her enormously; especially knowing from whence she came. I think it is certainly true that you should never judge another unless you have walked a mile in their shoes. No one would ever meet my sissie and think “wow, she certainly came from a screwed up childhood”. Instead, they might think, “wow, she is such a loving and fun-loving person—so open and exuberant about life”. I undoubtedly think this a good way to approach life; loving and fun-loving. More and more, I look to my younger sister as someone that I can look up to. Her ideology and approach to life is unique, loving and joyful. She is full of light energy and she is amazing. If I am lucky and blessed, I will get to share the joys of parenthood with the millions of people that are lucky enough to be one. Further, if I am lucky and blessed, it will get to be with my sisters egg…if I am lucky and blessed.

Blah, blah, blah. I am done with this section. I hope I have not freaked anyone out. Blah!

Sissie. Part 3 0f 4.....................................

A miraculous thing happened for my mom. My sister had flown with our mom from their home in Michigan to my home in California. Picking mom up at the airport I noticed that her skin was hot and flushed. We drove by the apartment so she could see her new digs but then went straight to the emergency room for medical care. Mom was very sick and had an open sore on her foot that hadn’t healed in over a year. We were told that the circulation in her leg was so poor that the surgeon would probably have to amputate it. We were also told that mom’s health was so fragile that she probably wouldn’t survive the surgery. Apparently the aorta that ran through her abdominal cavity and down both of her legs was blocked. The aorta is a huge artery coming from the heart that carries all the blood that eventually branches out to supply the entire body. If she had the surgery she might die, but, if she didn’t have the surgery, she would surely die. Sissie was bereft. It was a tense period with long days sitting vigil in the ICU waiting room. Mom had the surgery, and apparently during surgery had a “near-death” experience. When she woke up and was removed from life support she talked of seeing her deceased family members. She said they were youthful and radiant, although in life they were ravaged by smoking, drinking, and lots of sun from farming. She said they spoke to her and showed her events in her future that she had yet to experience. She said they told her that it wasn’t her “time” yet and that she had to return.
Now, say what you want about “near-death” experiences being caused by hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) or hallucinations from drugs--but the odd thing about this near death experience was that mom had a tremendous physical, emotional, and spiritual healing afterwards. This was a woman that at 5 foot 9 inches weighed 70 pounds, was wheel chair bound, and oxygen dependent. She was beaten down by life and admitted to thoughts of self harm. Following this event, however, she was filled with joy and enthusiasm for life. Everyone wanted to be near her. She was infectious. I even began to feel frustrated with the hospital staff because when I would come to visit; her room was always full of nurses or respiratory therapist who wanted to spend time with her. They would take their breaks and come see her simply to talk and hang out. She was fun and filled with light. In no time she gained weight, got rid of the oxygen and graduated from the wheel chair to walk independently without any assistive devices. She even had enough faith in love to develop a crush on her doctor…”old-blue-eyes” she called him.

Mom joined a group of artist to reclaim her painting talents. The groups focus was to express though different media their journeys through illness and healing. It was called the Persephone art project, created by a breast cancer survivor. Mom blossomed in this group. She painted and carved, and sculpted, and molded. Her work was very spiritual. At their exhibit she was “best of show”, although all of the pieces were amazing. She was exuberant. She was enjoying life. She had a purpose.
Sissie eventually returned to her life in Hamtramck Michigan. She continued her political activism and the other political activist leaned heavily upon her for leadership. However, with all that had transpired in her life, she began to spiral into depression. As her depression worsened, my brother, mother and I decided that something needed to be done to help her. We didn’t have much but we offered what we could. We offered airfare and safe haven until she felt stronger. Soon after, Sissie did something really brave. She took us up on it. She put her belongings in storage, left her political group, job, and friends. She came to California with her cat, who happened to be named “sorrow”, although he was actually a very sweet and funny cat…hardly sorrowful at all.
The three of us (Mom, Sissie, and I) had a wonderful time together. Mom was like a young girl in many ways. She was funny and playful and had an infectious wonderful laugh. Every day was a party, it seemed. We shopped, and nested, and ate, and talked. It was a fabulous time together. I don’t remember sissie being significantly depressed. She was fragile, however, and we worried after her. It was good to be with family…for all of us--and it was healing to be with family...for all of us.

(FACTOID:A near-death experience (NDE) refers to a broad range of personal experiences associated with impending death, encompassing multiple possible sensations ranging from detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, extreme fear, total serenity, security, or warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light, which some people interpret as a deity
1. A very unpleasant sound/noise is the first sensory impression to be noticed (R. Moody: Life after Life);
2. A sense of being dead;
3. Pleasant emotions; calmness and serenity;
4. An
out-of-body experience; a sensation of floating above one's own body and seeing the surrounding area;
5. A sensation of moving upwards through a bright
tunnel of light or narrow passageway;
6. Meeting deceased relatives or spiritual figures;
7. Encountering a being of light, or a light (often interpreted as being the deity or deities they personally believe in);
8. Being given a
life review;
9. Reaching a border or boundary;
10. A feeling of being returned to the body, often accompanied by a reluctance.
11. Feeling of warmth even though naked.
Some people have also experienced extremely distressing NDEs, which can manifest in forewarning of emptiness or a sense of dread towards the cessation of their life in its current state.

Near-death experiences can have tremendous effects on the people who have them, their families, and medical workers. Changes in values and beliefs often occur in the experience after a near-death experience, including changes in personality and outlook on life, such as a greater appreciation for life, higher self-esteem, greater compassion for others, a heightened sense of purpose and self-understanding, and a desire to learn. The changes may also include an increased physical sensitivity to and diminished tolerance of light, alcohol and drugs. Wikipedia)

To Be Continued………………………..............(Part 3 of 4).....................................................................

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Part 2 of 4. (sissie)

.....................................................................(Part 2 0f 4).......................................................................

I think my brother is a magnificent human being. Having survived such darkness in childhood, he seemed to resolve to be the opposite of his father. He married a wonderful woman, and together they had four children. They have a strong Christian faith that unites their marriage and creates a home that always seems to be the Mecca for our family gatherings. Anyway, my brother told his wife that he remembers our father raping our mother. His wife then asked me if it was true that my sister’s conception was a product of spousal rape. Only my mother knows for sure. Mom has acknowledged that it is true, but this is still such a painful issue that she is unable to speak much about it without tearing up. She suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to this day. I don’t remember this event. But, I do recall my mom taking me to my first day of school in a new school system. I was in the fourth grade. My mom was 9 months pregnant with my sister. Unfortunately, the beauty of her swollen belly was darkened by two very large--very black eyes and a broken nose, all compliments of my dad. She made up some story about falling down some stairs but it was apparent that wasn’t the truth. It sickens me to remember these events and worse to reveal them, but it is important to understand the makings of such a wonderful and loving human being; my sister.

(FACTOID:Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to one or more terrifying events in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. It is a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma WIKIPEDIA)

Mom and dad divorced after 20 years of marriage when my dad was incarcerated for a crime involving an illegal hand gun. (Thank goodness—I mean for the incarceration, not the hand gun—it was as if a storm cloud had left the home which enabled the sun to shine) My sister was about 6 years old. Mom re-married and while that marriage was much better, it only lasted 7 years. He was a black-out alcoholic…but at least he could put food on the table and he didn’t physically abuse her. Even though this relationship had many issues, I think it was very healing for our mother.

By this time, mom had attained her real-estate license. She was driving a nice car and wearing nice clothing. This was very different to the way she had previously lived. She was winning awards at work and taking some college classes. She was feeling better about herself. Unfortunately, I think her past continued to haunt her and she started drinking. At first it was just to drink with her new husband, but not long after she was drinking out of control. Sissie was around 11 years old during the worst years. Mom’s second marriage ended suddenly and violently when her husband became enraged and while in a black-out drunk literally destroyed the home and everything in the home that belonged to her. Sissie was around 13 years old. Mom was in horrible emotional pain and became somewhat dysfunctional. While she continued to work and was able to earn a living she did very little else. Sissie took over as the adult.

My sister is extremely bright. When she was 16 years old she went to college. This was no ordinary college. It was a sister school of a prestigious institution of higher learning designed especially for the very young and very bright. I drove her to her initial college interview. It was a strange & cold world of academia. The library was filled with master’s and doctoral work completed by these young minds. Our host was an adolescent boy that was obviously very bright but very pretentious. He made such an impression that for years my sister and I would imitate him. The mention of his pretentiousness gave us first-rate comic relief. My sister was not pretentious, however. She was the real deal. I recall visiting her and walking through her dorm room. There wasn’t a single place to step without stepping on some books or papers. It was literally a disaster. But her time and energy went into academics, not cleaning. Her education was very different than the one I received at the local community college. I was taught information and facts. She was taught how to think for herself. And, think she did…and still does.

During college, several life events transpired that affected my sister deeply. First, she became involved with politics and many issues involving injustice. She would rally and protest for the rights of the underdog. She wanted equal healthcare, equal pay, and equal rights for all—especially women. Looking back, it’s easy to understand how this transpired in her young life. She was an aggressive activist on many fronts for around 7 years, and then later continued to be an activist in more subtle ways as a loving parent…Secondly, she was exposed to a horrible violent and senseless crime involving one of the first school shooting incidents in the country. One of those exceptionally bright adolescent kids ordered a semi-automatic weapon and proceeded to unload it on the college campus. One of sissies loves was shot square in the chest and died instantly. He was attempting to stop the shooting and stepped in front of a speeding bullet…And lastly, during her last year of college our mom was diagnosed with lung cancer with a predicted 6 months to live. The tuition payment could not be made and Sissie had to withdraw from school before she could graduate. Furthermore, because she had an outstanding tuition debt, the school refused to release her transcripts so she could complete her degree.
Sissie moved to be near friends and to an area where she could continue her political activism; Hamtramck Michigan. Mom, through surgical intervention (partial lung removal), survived the lung cancer. Although living in Ohio, a series of events ultimately brought mom to move in with sissie. They were the dynamic duo. They lived in an old, large, drafty house in an ethnic neighborhood filled with polish people. The neighborhood eventually came to accept them and even seemed to love them. They would bring food and gifts often. My sister worked as a telemetry technician (heart rhythm specialist) in the largest health care organization in the United States. She worked 2 jobs to make ends meet. Mom was very frail. She was oxygen dependent and wheel-chair bound. At some point my brother, sister, and I decided that mom’s health was seriously failing and, since I was a nurse, we decided that I would take care of her. I lived in a small 1 bedroom cottage on the Pacific Coast, in Northern California, so I set mom up in a cute little wheelchair accessible apartment near the center of our coastal town. It was a heeling time for mom and me. We resolved a lot of issues left over from childhood. We shared forgiveness, understanding, love, and best of all, friendship.

To Be Continued.............................................(Part 2 of 4)........................................................................

Friday, May 16, 2008

My sister

My sister thinks I’m kind-hearted like Mother Teresa. The truth is-- her spirit is like a gigantic mirror reflecting her kindness back at herself. She is someone that would give more than the shirt off her back. Indeed, she is offering to donate her eggs to me. I’m not talking chicken eggs, or goose eggs, like the ones in her photo. This is more serious and not something to be taken lightly. This donation process requires that she be poked and prodded in the vagina and uterus with vaginal probes and gadgets on a fairly regular basis. It also requires her to take hormones that can be mood altering and injections that can be quite painful. She will be required to have frequent lab work to assess various conditions of her egg production and life cycle. Her life will be controlled by her menstrual cycle which is controlled by my fertility doctor (who lives roughly 3000 miles away from her). When she is deemed “ripe-for-the-picking” she will leave her loving and supportive family to fly the 3000 miles, from Oregon to Maryland, to be with me. After arriving she will have the ultimate vaginal probing with a long metal device that will pierce her delicate reproductive tissues plucking artificially ripened eggs from her ovaries. At this point she is done. (Except for the recovery process) But not really. If her eggs don’t result in a pregnancy she will have feelings of inadequacy, or worse, failure. If her eggs do result in pregnancy she will feel victorious. But, she will spend the rest of her life watching the development of a child, knowing it is part of her but not for her. It is for me. She is offering all with knowing and with love…to me, her sister.

There’s a song I recall from probably around 20 years ago. Its melody and lyrics have stuck in my head probably because it resonates so clearly with the way I feel about Sissie. It goes something like this…Shining sister, second self, a miracle to recognize. Spirits merging points of view, then peering out with brand new eyes. Here is one who understands, here is one who sees…one who shares the song of life then sings in harmony…

Let me tell you a little bit about this amazing human being…of course she is my sister--I could be a bit biased. Sissie was born into a poor and troubled family. She had a 10 year old sister (me, nonie) and an 11 year old brother (John-boy). I’m sure she was an unplanned pregnancy but I could not have been happier about her coming. For years I had asked my mom to have another baby. She would tell me that it wasn’t that simple. I think she knew there just wasn’t enough money to feed another mouth...I think she knew more than that...

Sissie was conceived in Georgia just prior to the family move to Ohio. This move was necessary as our dad was unable to provide financially for us. He seemed to be spiraling deeper and deeper into depression and mental illness. We moved in with our dads parents. I loved living with our grandparents. Our dad was a nicer person--and this made our mom happier.

Our mom was a battered woman…let me make that “severely” battered woman. She married our dad when she was 18 years old because she thought she was pregnant. It was her first sexual encounter and in those days, “good girls” just didn’t do that “sort of thing” without marriage vows. Additionally, in those days, they didn’t have home pregnancy test...soooo, if you thought you were got married. As it turned out she wasn’t pregnant, but that soon changed. She had my brother when she was 19 years old. Then twenty months later she had me. Strapped with no education and 2 young babies she depended on my dad.

Our dad was a very handsome and intelligent man. Our grandmother told me that his IQ (intelligence quotient) was somewhere between 150 and 160. (The average IQ is somewhere between 85 and 115--if you believe in that sort of thing) That would make him a genius---but that’s about where his smarts ended. Throughout his youth he was a Juvenile delinquent. I think he spent time in Juvenile Hall for letting air out of police tires--amoungst other equally stupid pranks. He served as a United States Marine for three proud (by my standards) months until he got kicked out for punching an officer in the face. I was told that he was evaluated by a psychiatrist who diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. While I don’t know if this is an accurate diagnosis, there was definitely something wrong with him. Somewhere around this time he married our beautiful and talented mother. And, I mean...BEAUTIFUL & TALENTED!

Our dad made his living selling encyclopedias. In those days there was no internet so every family wanted to have a set if they could afford it. He was very disrespectful to people who bought them. He called them “mooches”. I guessed that I was a mooch too, because I loved our set of encyclopedias. My brother and I would pour over them to enjoy receiving information about the world, entire. Anyway, the young married couple moved from Ohio to Georgia to sell encyclopedias. I was born in Georgia and have always been proud to be a “Southern Bell/Georgia Peach” (Spoken with a southern drawel). There is just something so deleicate and refined, and yet intelligent and sophisticated about that phrase.

Somewhere around this time the domestic violence started. I distinctly recall our father hitting our mother. I recall being 3 years old looking up at two adults locked in battle. I remember my mom’s voice speaking my father’s name to try to reason with him. I remember this like it was yesterday. As the years passed…brace yourself for this one…my father took to raping my mother. It is difficult to even say these words, but it was the truth. It’s hard to fathom that anyone would tolerate this kind of treatment but it is not uncommon. 30-65% of all homicides of women are related to Domestic Violence by their male partners. Can you believe this statistic? Roughly 50% of murdered women are murdered by their spouses. This is a staggering figure. Especially when you consider how little government funding is spent to reduce this statistic. Why, you ask? Why do women stay??? I will tell you why. Women stay because they have no better choice. That is the bottom line. Women stay because they are afraid. Sometimes they are dependent. Sometimes it is for the integrity of the family. Sometimes it is for the children. Sometimes they believe the abusers threats of death if they leave. Sometimes abusers threaten the children’s lives, or the pets. But, oftentimes women actually love the abuser. This is where the battered women syndrome begins.

(FACTOID: Domestic violence (also known as domestic abuse or spousal abuse) occurs when a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate another. Domestic violence often refers to violence between spouses, or spousal abuse but can also include cohabitants and non-married intimate partners. Domestic violence occurs in all cultures; people of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexes and classes can be perpetrators of domestic violence. Domestic violence is perpetrated by both men and women.

Domestic violence has many forms, including physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation or threats of violence. Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological and financial abuse are not criminal behaviors, they are forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence. There are a number of dimensions including mode - physical, psychological, sexual and/or social; frequency - on/off, occasional, chronic; and severity – in terms of both psychological or physical harm and the need for treatment – transitory or permanent injury – mild, moderate, severe up to homicide.

Recent attention to domestic violence began in the women's movement in the 1970s, as concern about wives being beaten by their husbands gained attention. Estimates are that only about a third of cases of domestic violence are actually reported in the United States and the United Kingdom. According to the Centers for Disease Control, domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem affecting more than 32 million Americans, or more than 10% of the U.S. population. Domestic violence can take the form of physical violence, including direct physical violence ranging from unwanted physical contact to rape and murder. Indirect physical violence may include destruction of objects, striking or throwing objects near the victim, or harm to pets. In addition to physical violence, spousal abuse often includes mental or emotional abuse, including verbal threats of physical violence to the victim, the self, or others including children, ranging from explicit, detailed and impending to implicit and vague as to both content and time frame, and verbal violence, including threats, insults, put-downs, and attacks. Nonverbal threats may include gestures, facial expressions, and body postures. Psychological abuse may also involve economic and/or social control, such as controlling victim's money and other economic resources, preventing victim from seeing friends and relatives, actively sabotaging victim's social relationships and isolating victim from social contacts. Spiritual abuse is another form of abuse that may occur. Battered Women’s Syndrome is a reference to any person who, because of constant and severe
domestic violence usually involving physical abuse by a partner, becomes depressed and unable to take any independent action that would allow him or her to escape the abuse. The condition explains why abused people often do not seek assistance from others, fight their abuser, or leave the abusive situation. Sufferers have low self-esteem, and often believe that the abuse is their fault. Such persons usually refuse to press criminal charges against their abuser, and refuse all offers of help, often becoming aggressive or abusive to others who attempt to offer assistance. Often sufferers will even seek out their very abuser for comfort shortly after an incident of abuse. WIKIPEDIA)

To Be Continued……….....................................(Part 1 of 4).................................................................................