University, and keeping busy.

I haven’t written about my path to Judaism in a while, so I’ll revisit that in a later post.

In the meantime, I thought I’d like to write a little about something else big going on in the world of me – I’m officially going back to school in September! And by officially, I mean that I’ve been accepted… but as to how I’m going to pay for it, that’s still somewhat up in the air. But it’s only one or two classes so I think it’ll be manageable. I think. I hope. It’s not “full time” so it doesn’t qualify for student loans, which I guess is fine because heaven knows I have enough student loan debt as it is.

On the plus side, my Etsy business is doing pretty well* so that’ll help.

I’m pretty excited; I’m going to be pursuing my Masters degree. It seems kind of crazy to be honest. When I was in High School, I didn’t really want to go to University. I sort of decided to go “on a whim” at the end of twelfth grade because my Mom thought I should go, and I didn’t have anything better to do. (What I wanted out of life – get married and have babies. Clearly the “have babies” desire hasn’t changed.) I did a year, disliked it, was lazy, and dropped out.

A lot of people sort of wrote me off after that. The assumption was that because I’d dropped out, I’d never go back.

But I did go back. It took me almost three years, but I went back. I switched my major and my minor a bunch of times and ended up with an honours History degree instead of the English degree I’d intended. And now I’m going for my Masters. And if that doesn’t kill me, I’ll go for my PhD.

I’m grateful for the break I took between year one and year two. If I hadn’t, I would have had awful grades all the way through, if I’d even finished with a degree, and I don’t think I would have found a thing that I love.

In that same way, I’m grateful for my almost three year break between my undergraduate degree and starting my Masters. I know I’m going back because I want to, because I miss school, I love learning, and I’d much rather be researching and writing than doing what I’m currently doing. (There’s nothing wrong with where I work. I’m just not wired for finance of all things. I’m good at my job, but it doesn’t make my heart happy, you know?) And now when people say “oh, what are you going to do with a history degree?” I generally just reply with “ALL THE THINGS”. Because oh my goodness the disdain that comes with that question is just annoying as all hell.

Anyway, as if I didn’t have enough going on in my life, right? Luckily, I’m the sort of person who likes to be busy. Sometimes I over do it. But generally it’s just right.

**Shameless plug for my Etsy shop. Do you love books? Then you’ll probably LOVE my Etsy shop. I make all sorts of one of a kind jewelry out of old books. You can check out my page here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/bookd.

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Adoption in Manitoba

If you’re in Manitoba and looking to adopt a child, the websites available to you don’t provide a lot of information. There are all sorts of other resources available for international adoptions, and you can contact private agencies for information. But if you’re interested in adopting a permanent ward, as I am, the website basically just says “If you would like more information on adoption, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact your local child and family services agency.” When you click on the “contact your local child and family services agency” link, it takes you to this page with a whole bunch of numbers.

Basically, in short, if you’re looking to adopt a permanent ward in Winnipeg, call this number: 204-944-4501. There are other types of adoption (private adoption, international adoption), but I’m really only going to write about adoption of a permanent ward as that’s what I’m interested in doing.

So, I called last week, and the receptionist lady forwarded my call to a worker. I left a voicemail and didn’t hear back (I have no doubt they’re super busy!) so I called back on Friday morning. This time I landed in someone else’s voicemail, and he called me back on Friday but I missed his call and couldn’t call until Monday.

I was able to talk to him on Monday, which was great. He told me a little bit about how it works, timelines, etc., and got a little information from me. This is how it typically works, based on my phone call with him:

Step 1: Prospective adoptive parent attends a full day workshop. These workshops are only run 4x a year; two in the spring, two in the fall/winter. I totally lucked out, and he managed to get me a spot in the May 29th workshop, so at least I don’t have to obsesses all summer about this first step.

Step 1-a: I label this as step 1-a because it either happens before step 1, or after, it’s not super clear cut. But there’s a lengthy paper application to fill out. I may get it before the workshop, I may get it at the workshop, and I may get it after. I don’t know, he didn’t know, so I’ll fill it out whenever I get it.

Step 2: If step 1 and step 1-a go well, then I’m on to a two-day workshop – it runs over a Friday and a Saturday. The earliest one I could get into would be late September. He said he doesn’t have the dates for them yet, but typically there’s one at the end of September, one at the end of October, and then two at the beginning of the year. Again, no workshops over the summer.

Step 3: So, if I’ve gone through all the workshops, I’m feeling good about it, they’re feeling good about me, then it’s on to the full home study. Checking out my home, me, family, criminal record checks, medical checks, everything. I don’t know exactly how this works, but I’m sure I’ll have more details when I go through all the workshops.

Step 4: (Hopefully) being approved to adopt. If everything is good and I get approved, then I wait. How long I’ll wait depends on what I’m looking for – he said waiting for a healthy infant can be 4+ years, but if I wanted an older child, it might be within a year. I’m open to adopting a sibling group (2 kids), so that might help speed up the process as well because sibling groups tend to be harder to place.

Step 5: Placement. Depending on the age of the kids, I might visit them in their foster homes a few times first. If that goes well, they’d come to live with me. They would live with me as foster children (as far as I can tell) for 6 months to a year, before the adoption could be finalized.

Because the earliest I can do the two-day workshop is late September, I probably wouldn’t have a home study until October-November at the earliest. (But that’s just a guess, I honestly have no idea. Faster would be better, but it may take longer.) The likelihood of having a child in 2019 is basically non-existent, but then again, if I’d gotten pregnant this cycle I’d only be having the baby in January 2020 anyway.

I go back and forth – it’s a little hard to give up the idea of having a baby of my own, at least for now. But then again, there are so many children in the system who need a loving parent. I can do that. I can be that parent.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at now. Still thinking, but reaching out for all the information I can get and trying to figure out which way to go. The more I think about adoption, the more it grows on me, and I think by the time I attend the session in May I will be 100% on board. I’m already 98% there.

Some helpful links:

https://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childfam/adopt_wards.html << General Adoption Page
https://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childfam/adoption_faq.html << FAQs
https://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childfam/cfsagencies.html << Alllllllll the phone numbers
http://www.manitobaparentzone.ca/becoming-a-parent/before-pregnancy/adoption.html << more info
http://adoptiveparents.ca/wp/manitoba-adoption << and more info

A potential change of plans.

It’s been several months since I last posted. Last I updated, I had just hit 40,000 words on a new work-in-progress novel. (I hit 80,000 words, and completed the novel, two weeks later – 80,000 words in four weeks!)

A lot has gone on in my life since then. Unfortunately, no pregnancy. I took a break from trying to conceive for the second half of last year. In October 2018 I managed to get in to meet with a specialist who basically confirmed that I’m not ovulating on my own. She doesn’t know why. In January I met with another person in the office, who gave me two kinds of medication – Provera to force a period, and Femara to force ovulation. I’m taking them without any sort of monitoring (which sucks), which meant that I didn’t realize right away that my first round of Femara didn’t actually make me ovulate – so I had to take the Provera again to start a new cycle. This last cycle, it seems that the Femara did make me ovulation, because a period started (more or less) on time. Unfortunately, despite two inseminations this cycle to try and boost my chances, I’m not pregnant.

I’m seriously considering giving up this route to motherhood, at least for now. It’s emotionally exhausting – spending the first half of my cycle taking meds and monitoring everything obsessively to catch ovulation, and then spending the second half of my cycle thinking maybe, maybe, maybe this is the cycle that will result in a baby.

Artificial insemination has lower odds to begin with. If I’m not ovulating without assistance, and I’m not being monitored to ensure that I’m producing viable eggs, I’m not confident that I’ll be able to get pregnant. Maybe one day. Maybe through another method.

In the meantime, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on becoming a single-mother-by-choice. I’m so far from over my desire to be a parent. I’ve just decided that it can’t hurt to explore other options, and what better option is there than adoption?

The adoption process can be a lengthy one, so I haven’t decided 100% if I’m going to stop trying to conceive, or if I’m going to give it another few tries. What I do know is that I’m seriously considering the adoption option, and I’m hoping to post about that here as I explore it – because I’ve found there is a shortage of blogs talking about adoption in my province and maybe whatever information I glean will be helpful to someone down the road.

Anyway, that’s all for now. It’s just a little update, but I hope to be more regular in posting in the future. 🙂

Just keep writing.

Last week I had posted about how excited I was to find the muse again, as I started powering through a novel draft.

This is just a tiny update, and a celebration, I guess, because I feel like I’m getting back a part of me that I really missed.

In the first week working on my book, I hit about 15,000 words. Yesterday night, at the conclusion of week two, I hit 30,000 words. Now today, because it’s a Sunday and I have some free time (that should, actually, be used on things like… cleaning and laundry), I’ve managed to put another 8,000 words on paper bringing my grand total, on day 15, to 38,023 words.

I intend to hit 40,000 words by the end of the day, and 50,000 words by the end of this week.

I project the novel to wrap up around 80,000 words, so by the end of today, I’ll be about halfway there.

Typically when I start a novel, around the 20,000 – 30,000 word mark I start to think – “okay, but what about _(INSERT NOVEL HERE)_? Maybe I should work on that one instead.” And I hit that point HARD this week. I almost derailed and went back to an old draft. Or started something new. Or started a re-write. (I mean, the doubts kept coming.) Last night, hitting 30,000 words was like pulling teeth.

(Seriously. Last night’s words were utter crap.)

But then I hit my stride this morning, when I powered through a 3,500 word chapter in about an hour and a half. The 8,000 words I’ve written today have been over a span of 6 hours, and I took a trip to the grocery store, and stopped for a snack & supper in there.

And no, writing almost 40,000 words in 15 days is not generally the way to guarantee an award winning manuscript. But yet, generally speaking, first drafts are shitty anyway. Why not get it done quickly so you actually have something to make better?

Still, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself, considering I’m writing this around a side hustle and a full time job.

Basically I just wanted to write this, to remind myself next time I’m working on a draft that this is possible. I can do it. Sometimes the words will have to be forced out, and other times they’ll fall onto the paper with ease. But they’re there. Just keep going. Just write them down.

Let the words flow.

For the last few years I’ve just paid lip service to the fact that I wanted to be a writer. And not “just for fun”. A professional, published author.

It wasn’t that I misjudged the work required to do it. I’ve written 7 novels, although none of them have ever gotten past the first or second draft.

But writer’s block is an awful beast. It can strike anyone, at any time. There is some validity to the often-repeated advice: just write through it. Yet, it isn’t that easy. Writer’s block isn’t just a lack of motivation, although that’s part of it.

It’s staring at a blank page, typing a few words, deleting them, typing a few new words, and deleting those too. Over and over and over again. Thinking nothing you could possibly put down on paper is “good enough”.

Everything seems stupid. Or cliché.

Part of my problem is indecisiveness. I have dozens and dozens of novel ideas. Every time I decide to work on one, I think, “OH, but __(insertnovelplothere)__ would be SO MUCH BETTER.” And so I go back and forth, trying to pick the perfect one. And I’m paralyzed by the options.

Being a writer, but not writing, is an awful existence. Without that outlet, everything just gets… backed up. It’s been a rough year, an emotional year, and I haven’t had a way to get it out. I’ve written a few posts here, but it isn’t the same. Fiction is an incredible source of comfort. Being a writer, and not writing, not feeling capable of it, physically hurts.

So last week I thought, to hell with it. I’m going to write a shitty novel. A novel I don’t intend to publish, a novel that won’t be my breakout hit. A novel I’ll probably never make any money off of. I decided to take the pressure off, and let myself just write. To just create something, for the pure joy of it. For the beauty of the process. Several years back, I published a novel on FictionPress as I wrote it, chapter by chapter. I set myself a deadline – a new update, every week.

The deadlines kept me going, and the fun of knowing that people were reading it – and enjoying it, because they kept coming back – was incredible. When someone took the time to review? A total rush. Checking out my stats and seeing them grow? A huge confidence boost.

So I sat down last week Sunday and started to write.

What started off as a blank page has become 15,591 words and counting. (The fact that 15,591 words in one week is such an intense triumph for me shows how bad my writer’s block has gotten. A few years ago, I wrote a 98,000 word manuscript in 15 days.) Five chapters done, and two more half-finished. The first four chapters are on FictionPress as of this evening. The fifth chapter will probably go up on Wednesday after I give it a once-over, and chapters six and seven next week – but which point I hope to have eight, nine, maybe even ten, done.

And the best part of it? The words are flowing again. All I want to do is write. I’m scribbling out scenes on the bus, jotting down ideas on napkins.

Again I’ll say, it’s not good fiction. It’s somewhat rambly, largely unedited (typos, yes, content, meh). I’m not creating a work of art.

But the muse is back. I’ve missed her desperately.

(PS. If for some reason you want to read my [messy] return to fiction, you can read DISARM ME here as I post it. It’s something of a fluffy disaster, so you’ve been warned. Or, if you’d prefer to read on Wattpad, you can find Disarm Me right HERE)

Conversion

Well, I converted this past Sunday.

I’m not going to lie – I was super nervous in the hours leading up to my appointment. Not because I had doubts (I didn’t), but because I wasn’t 100% convinced I was going to be “accepted”. Allowed in. In hindsight, it was a pretty irrational fear. But hindsight is 20/20.

So, beyond the class that I started in September (which ended about two weeks ago), I had to prepare an essay, go before the Beit Din, and then go to the Mikvah if both those other things went okay.

My essay could be as long, or as short, as I needed it to be, and mine ended up going on for 12 pages because I’m wordy and don’t know when to stop writing. XD I was given a list of suggested topics to cover, and I tried to touch on most of them although I couldn’t go too into detail on any of them. I submitted that on the last day of my class, and writing it was hard. I agonized over it for a long time. I had known for over a year that an essay would be required, but I’d sort of put off writing it because I just couldn’t get it right. So when I finally had to force myself to put words on paper as a result of a looming deadline, it wasn’t great. At least, I didn’t think so.

Then on Sunday had I had my appointment with the Beit Din. The Beit Din is a council made up of three rabbis; my Beit Din had the rabbi who had been teaching the class, the other rabbi at the synagogue I attend, and someone who isn’t “officially” a rabbi, but is more along the lines of a lay clergyman. He’s a rabbi but not a rabbi, if that makes sense. They asked me all sorts of questions about me and the essay that I wrote.

In the essay I had written, somewhat offhandedly I think, that I would likely be starting a family on my own. (In answering the question about how I would raise my children Jewish, if I had children.) They really sort of narrowed in on that comment near the end of our meeting. They asked me some questions, tried to determine why I had written what I had.

I won’t go into lengthy detail about the conversation. What I will say is that they asked me if I was open to a relationship/a more traditional family. I said that I was, but that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the having kids should I not find a husband. They said they wanted to see me able to have both, and that there are lots of single Jewish men in the community who want what I want – to settle down, have a family. It’s a little difficult to explain what exactly that conversation sounded like (I think from the way I’m writing it, it sounds a little like religious men trying to push me towards me being a more traditional woman and it wasn’t that at all) but I will say this… I can’t recall a time I have ever felt so profoundly, genuinely, cared about by people who aren’t family. And by that I mean, I was sitting there facing three rabbis, and I could have so easily felt ganged up on, or judged, or dismissed. Instead, I could tell that these questions and comments were coming from this incredible place of genuine care and concern.

I had already decided to take a bit of a break from trying after cycle four was a bust, so I haven’t made any attempt in May to get pregnant.

But I think, after the conversation on Sunday, I may put the plan on hold for a couple more months. Not forever, not even indefinitely.

But maybe there’s a reason that relationships haven’t worked out for me before now. Maybe there’s a reason that I miscarried in February. Maybe the timing just wasn’t right. Maybe now that I’m part of this new community, I’m going to meet the people I’m supposed to meet and have the opportunities I’m supposed to have.

And if not, and it’s all a bust and I don’t meet anyone or I don’t meet anyone I could see myself being with, then I start trying again to conceive on my own. Whatever is supposed to happen will happen. And it only seems fair to give myself another chance to take the more “traditional” route, now that I’m going to be interacting with new people, and participating in a new community. I mean, in all honesty, that would be my preference. If nothing else, all the stress of trying to get pregnant sucks. It sucks doing it on my own, and suffering disappointments and loss on my own. Being with someone would certainly be easier.

On one hand, I don’t love the idea of putting everything on hold even longer. But on the other, wouldn’t it be nice to have both? The husband, and the baby?

Anyway, so that conversation has definitely affected me and I’m feeling conflicted. Until I’m no longer feeling conflicted, the baby attempts are getting put on hold. I don’t want to jump into this, unsure.

So after the Beit Din was the Mikvah, but I think I’m going to write about that in another post because this one is already far too long. XD

I’m so excited that I’ve finally converted, and looking forward to what that means for the future. I’ll try to fill in some of the gaps here later – I had almost no posts about the process between when I started the class and when I converted almost a year later, so I definitely want to get everything else filled in too as I have time.

 

Choosing a Donor

(I apologize in advance if there are any typos/if something is unclear. I’ll tidy this up later. I’m writing it before running out to my conversion class, but I wanted to get this posted because I’d meant to write it on Friday and got sidetracked!)

So my last blog post was about where and how to find a donor. This post is about the process (at least my process), of choosing one. (And my next post will return to the topic of conversion for a bit!)

I’ll preface this by saying there is no right way, and no wrong way, to choose a donor. This is an intensely personal decision, and this is a process during which you must be honest with yourself about what you want.

On Known Donor Registry (KDR), you have a couple of options for donation method. Those are the first things to consider. Do you want to do AI (Artificial Insemination) or NI (“Natural Insemination” – sex)? Yes, for some people that is a legitimate question – there are plenty of donors on KDR who offer NI, and plenty of recipients who take them up on it. To be fair, NI is more conducive to conception, but it also requires a woman to literally have sex with a stranger. (Never mind the potential conflicts when it comes to custody and child support – you can have a contract that both parties sign, but if a child is conceived through sex, the courts can, and have, tossed the contracts aside to either grant joint-custody or enforce child support. Yikes, big risk!)

I was not into the idea of hooking up with someone just to get pregnant, but no judgement here. To each their own. It just wasn’t the right way to go for me.

So then I had to make another decision – did I want to find someone local, or did I want to broaden my options and find someone willing to ship? In the end, that decision was more or less made for me due to the fact that there was only one local donor active on the site, and we didn’t really want the same things. (He wanted to co-parent, and while he agreed to just donate and not get into a co-parent relationship, I had the feeling he might change his mind down the road and try to fight for joint custody.) Which meant I had to look for someone who lived elsewhere, but was willing to ship.

It wasn’t just a matter of finding someone willing to ship, but someone who had done it before so I was confident that everything would go smoothly. There are so many possibilities for problems, and the donation has to be shipped overnight and used as soon as it arrives, or it isn’t any good. (Cycle 4’s shipping was particular stressful – and a little funny in a cringeworthy way – which I’ll write about later.)

So knowing that I wanted to go with AI, and that I would be finding someone who was willing to ship, I had to figure out my non-negotiables.

They were: he had to have recent clean STD tests**, he had to be intelligent, he had to be at least moderately attractive, he had to have a clean criminal record (which I could search myself on the Court of the Queen’s Bench site if he was Canadian), he had to have had previous successful donations (specifically, from when he’d shipped, so I could know his donation was strong enough to survive transport), he had to be open to communication with the child (if they want it) at least once they turn 18 (one of the benefits of a known donor), and I had to just… get a good vibe from him. I had to feel like in the real world, maybe we’d be friends, or we’d at least get along. I had to feel comfortable talking to him.

So, armed with my list of non-negotiables, I started to search the site. At first I wasn’t limiting my search to Canadians (I should have; I’d really recommend anyone limit their search to people within their own country, because shipping costs are insane otherwise.). The site is really easy to navigate, by the way. When I found a few profiles that looked promising, I started sending hello messages.

Also something to keep in mind: these guys are doing this for any number of reasons, but they aren’t machines. Don’t send them a message that says “hey, can you ship me some sperm?”. They’re people, who are potentially going to provide you with the one thing you’re missing to create a child. They deserve a whole lot more respect than a lot of people give them. Not everyone has altruistic motives, true. And there may be creepers you will have to wade through. (I didn’t connect with anyone truly creepy, but I’ve read some awful stories.)

I ended up selecting a donor in the USA, but that relationship ended up falling through before any shipments were sent. I’m actually happy it did, though, because I went back to the site, started talking to people again, and found an incredible donor who was equally as determined to make sure his recipients are good people as I was to make sure my donor was a decent human being. We messaged, and then emailed back and forth for a few weeks. We got on a Skype chat. Now we’re Facebook friends. This kind of arrangement has the potential to be awkward, or uncomfortable – but I’ve lucked out; my donor is so professional, and just plan kind. He doesn’t make me uncomfortable, at all, and makes me feel so supported throughout this whole process.

I’m currently in the first half of yet another two week wait as I write this. We did two inseminations this cycle, in the hopes that might give me the edge I need to be successful this month. But if not, we’ll try again. I’m so blessed to have found the donor I did.

I’m glad I’m recording all this finally, and I’m looking forward to getting it all down. Hopefully someone might stumble across this one day, and find it helps them a little – even just knowing they aren’t alone in this process. If you’re reading this and you’re considering this as an option for you, I’d be happy to talk. Feel free to comment below and I’ll get in contact with you. 🙂

** KDR is just a platform, kind of like Facebook. They don’t require donors submit anything to post a profile. It is 100% up to the recipient to make sure they are getting information (like STD test results, etc.) from their donor, and ensuring that it is legitimate. However, KDR will remove members (be they donors or recipients) for lying, if it’s discovered they have an STD, for harassing, for asking for money for donations, for pushing for NI when the recipient is only looking for AI, if someone reports the offending user.