Sunday, October 7, 2012

Please Remember This Story...

This past Thursday, I got a phone call from Gavin's geneticist.  The results are in from his Exome Sequencing  that we started way back in June.  This extensive and groundbreaking genetic testing was done with the hope that we'd get a lead on a diagnosis for our sweet Gavin.

While that is just what we got, I'm not quite ready to talk about that yet.

What I do want to talk about?
Paternity.
As you may or may not know, Gavin was conceived by IUI -  or "Intrauterine Insemination" - at a fertility clinic.  We were thrilled when it worked and we became pregnant with twins, only to lose Gavin's twin a few months into the pregnancy.

When Gavin was born, the first thing people noticed was his bright blonde hair.  Blonde!  It shocked everyone, including me.  But I knew that babies hair and eyes change and expected Gavin's to as well.
Ed and I didn't really think too much about Gavin's appearance.  We were a little preoccupied with his medical issues, feeding tubes, low tone, nursing care, pumping breast milk around the clock and more.

We didn't really think too much about it - but other people did.

People very close to us insinuated...came out with comments...made jokes.  People not so close to us would do the double take and shoot me a "look."  Gavin didn't look "Chinese enough"...he looked so different from his brother...where does the blonde hair come from...he's so fair...his eyes are so light.  
Six people (yes, I've kept track) in the last five years have actually come right out and asked me if I cheated on my husband.

After a while, we got a little defensive.  We figured we'd beat people to the punch and joke about it ourselves.  "Well, unless there was some mix up in the back room of the fertility clinic and they grabbed the wrong sperm, ha ha."  Every time I brought it up, I'd feel sick.
But the truth is - the more people commented and brought it up and raised their eyebrows and made their jokes - the more it messed with my mind.  For the last five years, I have experienced major bouts of depression over this.  I have cried many tears over this.  I have suffered horrible anxiety over this.  It forced us to have the conversation, "What if we ever found out that Gavin wasn't 'ours' biologically.  What then?"  The only way that could have been possible is if, by accident, a nurse grabbed the wrong syringe filled with someone else's sperm on the day of my insemination.

Let's face it - we haven't had the best luck all these years.  It isn't THAT far fetched.  Go ahead and google "wrong sperm used iui" and you'll see plenty of actual cases.

I don't think that I would have had so much anxiety and stress over this if people hadn't thought it was okay to comment on our son's appearance.  It really, really was not okay.  And it hurt us both tremendously.
Imagine my position.  Lots of people commenting and weighing in on Gavin's looks.  Me - worrying incessantly that maybe there was a mix up.  Then worrying - would Ed believe me if it was my word against a well known fertility clinic?
When they sent Gavin's blood work along with Ed's and mine to Baylor College of Medicine for the Exome Sequencing, we knew that a basic paternity test was part of the package.  We didn't request it - it was something routinely done.  Halfway through - I emailed Gavin's geneticist and asked her if they could cancel that part.  It was keeping me up at night.  I wasn't sure I could handle the repercussions if it came back with unfavorable news.  Unfortunately, I was too late.
So this past Thursday, as I sat in my kitchen with the phone to my ear, I heard the results.
Ed is absolutely, positively, without a shadow of a doubt Gavin's father (like we didn't already know).  Biologically and emotionally and in every good way.
The relief that swept over both of us made us both happy...and angry.  Happy that it's one less thing to worry about.  But, very immaturely, it also felt like a big "IN YOUR FACE" to all the people who thought it was okay to open their mouths and cause us great pain.
I don't ever want this to come up again.  And I hope that every single one of you reading this today will soak in this story.  Sometimes...a joke can go too far.  Sometimes...appearances mean more than what you might think seems obvious.  

Please remember this story.



6 comments:

  1. I don't think I have ever commented before but I just want to say how sorry I am that you even had to write this. That fact that people even thought(let alone spoke) it, is inconceivable.
    You have a wonderful family
    Vicky in australia

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  2. I'm so sorry this has tortured you for 5 years. That's a long time to harbor a wound. I never realized how unintentionly hurtful comments about a child's appearance in realtion to their parents can be. Until I became a parent. The sting is no less when someone asks if I'm sure I'm the mom. Obviously a joke - I suppose, but not a very funny one.

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  3. I too a sorry you had to go through feeling this way. I am old enough to be your mother but I still remember the same kind of feeling. We had 2 little girls, 2 years apart. The younger daughter was born with a congenital heart defect and passed away at 6 years of age. At that time our older daughter was 8, we really didn't want her growing up as an only child but decided to put it in God's hands whether he would give us another child or not. HE did....we had a son a year and a half later. Imagine getting comments from people.......the one that hurt the most was.....did you forget "how"???? How do you answer such a question. People can be so cruel.

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  4. Kate, I don´t know if I share my story with you about this subject. In any case. I am latina brown eyes, brown hair, and olive skin and my husband is dark haired but white and our baby came blond, blue eyes and white. You can imagine the number of comments we have had. People always asking me why the baby is so blond along with the endless jokes about who is the father. The worst one was the comment of one of my friend´s mother that told anybody that wanted to hear that she is SURE that the baby is a result of a donor because no way I could have a light baby. Now, doI care? no, in fact when somebody asks me if the baby´s dad is blond, i always answer, no, the daddy is not, but i have a neighbor who is. Even my husband says jokes that if the baby was not so cute I will a lot to explain :-) The bottom line is that he is 100% our baby and if somebody has an issue with it and wants to figure the genetics so it´s their problem. You have a beautiful baby and I for one can see a resemblance to your husband and you are irish so i am sure there were blondies in your family tree, like in my case and my husband´s too and I know that that explanis his coloring. People I don´t think they ask you to be mean, but really they are curious to know. Don´t let it get to you.

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  5. Wow..can imagine how hurt you felt over the years. People can be real a$$holes without realizing it. I'm Asian Indian and my husband is Irish. My son has gold flecks of hair. Weirdly, when I'm out with my son (without the dad around) it is other Indian women who loudly comment on his looks in an Indian language (tough luck I understand five of them!). Bugs the heck out of me.

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  6. I have a similar experience with my daughter. She looks NOTHING like my husband, myself or our oldest daughter.
    She is a blonde hair and blue eyed little girl in a family of brown hair and brown eyes.
    We have received many comments about her looks and 'where we got her from'? We let people know that she and her sister have the same mom and dad but God just made them look a little different yet beautiful in their own way!

    Your children are beautiful!

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