Archive for category: Parenting

Sperm Shopping!!

Categories: Adventure, Conscious Living, Family, Parenting, Personal Growth, Relationships, Women's - Tags: , , , , ,

Sperm Shopping!!

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner 21st Century~~This has to be the shopping trip of my life. Just Imagine!!

Solid Partners: Mamas-To-Be

Solid Partners: Mamas-To-

After wishing, hoping, trying to find her life partner first, my beloved gay daughter met and fell in love with Kate.  And now for Ariel’s 40th Birthday, they have decided to go for it.      Since she was little, Ariel has always loved and been naturally gifted with children.  She baby sat, volunteered as a pre-teen at her own former pre-school, Hill and Dale, worked for Head Start, then received her elementary teaching credential and her Masters in Human Development and taught for years in Echo Park as a bi-lingual teacher, then earned then a certificate in Non-Violent Parenting, and is now on staff at an Echo Park non-profit that teaches and supports compassionate child-raising, working with parents, teachers, and child care providers.Heeding the ticking of her bio clock, she has finally realized if she is to become a mommy herself, now is very much the time.  And so, after consults with fertility specialists, other gay women, lots of web surfing, and charting of temperatures, some jet assists from USC Fertility Center, this amazing shopping trip!

Ariel says if she is going to be a mom, she really needs her own mom’s support, and that starts with “sperm shopping”!  So, she in her living room in L.A. and me at my desk in Santa Cruz, we’re surfing the web together.  It is amazing and moving to dive into the Lesbian owned site where hundreds and hundreds of carefully screened young men of all ethnicities, physical traits, interests and backgrounds have offered to donate their sperm for women planning alternative families.

Mama's and Daughters: Ariel & Me--Gratitude!

Mama’s and Daughters: Ariel & Me–Gratitude!

There are boxes to check eye color, hair color, hair type, skin tone, height, weight, ethnicity, education, and, most importantly “WTBK” or “willing to be known”.    We all agree that WTBK is a basic requirement. That means not only are the donors willing to be interviewed extensively on video, but they also agree to be available to meet at least once, if, when their progeny reach eighteen, they want to meet their biodaddy.

Ariel and Kate have narrowed down their search to five candidates when she invites me into the quest. It is incredible.  Almost spine-tingling, actually, to “meet” the young men on camera who may provide the sperm for my first biological grandchild!  It’s right up there from my era with Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? Way outside the conventional Pasadena white-gloved box I grew up in.  I don’t have to cook, worry about what to wear or what to talk about when I meet each “suitor”—I just listen, reflect, respond, try to keep my mouth shut until asked—and try to pull from my best clinical skills—to discern character and genotype that will provide my daughter with a wonderful baby.  For a moment, I privately muse to myself, “If I only had been this mature and conscious myself!”   (There are, however, some notable differences between twenty-something and forty-something, not to mention the 1960s vs the 21st century!)

I love their choices.  We decide that someone from a somewhat similar gene pool will give their child one less hurdle to cross, and for Ariel and Kate, heart, humor, warmth, intelligence and athleticism emerge as very important.  But “their five” appear to have all of that! I’d LOVE to cook dinner for any and all of them, and get to know them, but I will have to settle for sidelines in cyberspace and gratitude to the conscious young men who donate their sperm so gay women can raise families, and definitely, to have been invited in on the shopping trip of my life.  Trust me, it’s lot easier to pick out a pair of shoes than a sperm donor.

Don’t Lose Your Cool in the Warmth of the Holiday Season!

Categories: Buddhist Practice, Conscious Living, Family, Mindfulness, Parenting, Personal Growth, Relationships, Spiritual - Tags:

        Tis the season to be jolly, right?  Sometimes, doing our best at this time of year to be kind, and generous and thoughtful, remembering our friends, our family, our neighbors, wanting to reciprocate that random act of kindness that went unacknowledged, sometimes we just discover ourselves running out of gas, spread too thin, uber stressed.

I remember the coup de grace of this pattern, a time, way back when, when I was a single mom, a full time graduate student, and trying my best to do it all and to make the holidays wonderful for my two children, Gabriel and Ariel, then probably seven and five years old.  My kind mother, a creative grandma sewed an advent calendars for each of  them.  the calendars each had twenty-four little pockets with each day numbered from December 1 to 24, and each pocket was to hold a small surprise to be opened every day until Christmas.  So, writing papers and meeting deadlines for grad school, I also did my best to find forty-eight wonderful tiny surprises, and wrap each in tissue paper to fill their calendars.  Of course in addition, there were gifts to buy for the whole family and many friends, stockings to fill, holiday cards to create, write and address, lights to hang and a tree to decorate.

Gabriel and Ariel delighted in helping glue family photos on the cards, baking cookies and decorate the tree, hanging ornaments as high as they could reach, but we had a high ceilinged living room and a very tall tree, so they could only do so much.  At night, after they were tucked into their beds and sleeping, I got a tall ladder out of the garage, set it up, and began working my way up the tree with ornaments (many of course hand-made to make them more meaningful–Martha Stewart, are you hearing me?).  As I reached the top of the tree and the top of the ladder, to put the star on top of the tree, I teetered, lost my balance and fell to the floor in a crumpled heap, alone, sobbing, overwhelmed, and utterly exhausted.

Big life lesson!  Can you relate?  Anyway now, our extended family,  Jewish, Buddhist and Christian, celebrates the holidays very differently.  We rotate holidays, taking turns to host and decorate a tree.  For gifts, except for little children, we have a drawing, each of us drawing the name of another family member.  We have each submitted the name and contact information for our favorite charity (If you are feeling generous, mine, which I founded locally, is Bread for the Journey, a non-profit that raises money to bestow micro-grants to seed creative projects to serve the underserved in our county: www.bfjsantacruz.org).  We give one  generous donation to support the charity of the family member we’ve drawn.  So conscious, so simple, so nourishing!  So respectful of our intention to consume less, be lighter on the planet, and to celebrate the season with unfettered love and generosity.

So, my gift to you, this holiday season, Dear Reader Friends, is the gift of Stepping Into Freedom!  Stay cool, keep it mindfully simple  and be warm!

 

 

Babies & Bon Bon de Beau Beaune II

Categories: Adventure, Animals, Family, Parenting, Pets - Tags: ,

What a re-entry.  We got home last Monday from our great tandem adventure, exhausted, jet-lagged and struggling with colds.  Coming through customs, we get a phone call from Seth, our new ranch caretaker in Aptos, regretting that he can’t pick us up today as planned.  His partner, Leilani’s water broke this morning and their long awaited baby is due to be born in our new yurt.  Wow!  How auspicious can that be.   Their baby is about to be born!  What a blessing.

We manage to locate a shuttle to carry us, our bike bags, duffel full of dirty laundry and weary bodies, home to Santa Cruz where we unpack, crash and wait for word about the progress of Leilani’s labor.  Her mother is there with Seth and their doula. Jim and I awaken at dawn Tuesday morning to see the lights still on in the yurt. Labor progresses slowly.  Jim, heading out to reset his bio-clock with some coffee from Starbucks, hears the screams of Leilani’s intense labor, and pales.  He was one of those dads in the day when many men squeamishly avoided delivery rooms.  Decades later than Jim’s birth experience, Seth, Leilani, the doula and midwife are thrilled to be able to birth this baby at home in the yurt, where we are too far from any neighbors for anyone to hear whatever noise Leilani wants to make to ease her laboring.

Hours pass and finally, just before noon, an unshaven new dad comes stumbling down from the yurt in the oak grove on the hill behind our house to announce that their son, Nathan, has arrived!  It was a difficult birth, and the midwife will be here for several more hours looking after mother and baby to make sure they’re both OK, but within the next few days, both are doing well.  With our colds, we dare not visit the yurt yet, but Seth brings his camera and gives us a great slide show—from laboring mom in the birthing tub to the birthing stool to the crowning, to the emergence of a beautiful dark haired boy, quickly named after his maternal grandfather.

Yesterday, four days later and both feeling much better, Jim and I set out north for Sonoma to pick up our new pup.  On the way, invigorated by the success of our tandem trip and impressed by the improvements we have seen in other tandems since we bought ours almost ten years ago, we stop at Crank 2 to look at new tandems and feed our fantasies.  Just about sundown we finally arrive at Cheryl, the breeder’s house and there he is….the most adorable little black fluff ball imagineable.   She lifts him out of his crate and as soon as his four paws hit the ground he romps over straight for Jim and me and jumps up, tail wagging, total body wiggling gleefully, and running back from Jim to me, back to Jim then to me.  We are besotted.  He is just like his uncle Tashi, athletic, sweet, engaging and funny.

Bon Bon de Beau Beaune (“Beau” for short, pronounced “bow”) immediately follows me wherever I go.  What a great little pup.  Cheryl gives us all the papers, instructions, a little bag of the food he’s used to and helps us settle him into his crate in the car.  We wave gratefully to her for making this all work out so perfectly, and set out to spend the first night with him in Sonoma with our friends Maggie and Peter at the cottage in their vineyards.

Peter is a great winemaker and we enjoy a celebratory bottle of his vintage Zin with a delicious dinner of fresh wild salmon and vegetables from their kitchen garden.  Beau settles in like a perfect little guest.  Any worries I’d had about not being able to pick him up at the “ideal” 8 weeks, evaporate.  At three and a half months he is socialized, calm and so easy.  He plays with everyone before dinner then quietly naps in his crate while we eat.  Cheryl has said that he sleeps through the night in his crate, saying, “Just take him outside before bed and when he wakes up and then every two or three hours.”  It works like a top.  Here we are, guests of Maggie and Peter, and this brand new puppy doesn’t chew on anything or have a single accident.  He just plays and sleeps, and we don’t hear a peep from him for eight hours the first night.  In the morning, I take him out  and he discover’s Maggie’s chicken coop.  He sits, enthralled, cocking his head this way and that, as the chickens cluck and scratch and flap around, forgetting for a few minutes, that he hasn’t peed or pooped since before bedtime.

Before breakfast, Maggie carefully introduces their two big older dogs, Oso and Ivan, one by one, to Beau.  At first, he quivers with terror, they’re so big.  But in moments, he discovers they’re friendly and off we go for our first hike through the vineyards.  He roars around with the big guys like he’s totally at home.  On the hike we meet probably five other vineyard dogs and their owners out for their morning hikes.  He makes five new friends and keeps us all giggling.

So much new energy.   What a re-entry: new babe and new pup.  We silently make a bow of gratitude to Jullay, thanking her for teaching us how wonderful it is to have a dog, and telling her that little Beau is a tribute to her and to Tashi, and a permanent reminder of a great trip to France.

Rapids II: Follow the Letters

Categories: Cancer, Family, Parenting, Spiritual

Follow the Letters

Friday:

Dear Ones—

We are heading up tonight to check into a hotel near the hospital in Redwood City as I have the fun big pre-op bowel purge to do and don’t think driving in the Friday traffic with legs crossed in knots is the best plan.  I talked to my surgeon and am REALLY impressed with her—she does not think it is cancer but she also recommends a total hysterectomy and appendectomy “while I’m in there”.

I’ll be in hospital till Monday some time. We are growing but I don’t think we asked to be dealt an AFGO!  XX H

Saturday:

Dear Ones—

Whoo-ee, are we’re gonna ride!  All’s well.  Everything’s gone. Benign.  What a joyous end to this roller coaster week.  Amazing Doc—She clearly saw my pain level and came in on the weekend ~ am I ever grateful.  Of course the morphine could be entering into this glee but I’ll take that.

I’m quite a bit loopy but deeply grateful for all your loving support and concern and wanted to let you know the good news.  When I said ‘everything’ that means ovaries, tubes, uterus and cervix and an appendectomy, too, while we’re at it.  So there should be no more worries at all.  I’ll probably be here in Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City through Sunday, then home to Aptos to reunite with the doggies, horses, llamas, redwoods and meadows for two weeks recovery where lots of walking and activity is part of the recovery routine.

Ariel and Jim are here joining me in sending love and gratitude for this and to you for being such beautiful presences in our lives.   XX H

Sunday:

‘Where is the end of them, the fishermen sailing

Into the wind’s tail, where the fog cowers?

We cannot think of a time that is oceanless

Or of an ocean not littered with wastage

Or of a future that is not liable

Like the past, to have no destination’

T.S.Eliot    “Four Quartets”  ‘The Dry Salvages’

Dear Christine—

Blessings to you, dear Taos friend! It appears we abide in the miracle of cyberspace clouds.  Medicine is amazing grace, as you among us all surely know.  And I am sending my deeply grounded prayers for all that I have seen, felt and learned to bring back from this brief journey to abide with us all. Patience for going with the river, trust, hope, and gratitude for what is, has been and will be.

My crisis appeared dramatically with the bleakest outlook and then suddenly began shifting and every day got better. I think I landed in the hands of the best possible ob-gyn oncology surgeon. Katie O’Hanlan is a marvel—fun, brilliant, expert—researcher, clinician, teacher, et al. Though we’d never laid eyes on each other before, she had us laughing on the way into the OR.  By 7:30 AM, while they rolled me toward the operating room on the gurney, Jim and Ariel walked alongside, holding my hands.  Ariel had my iPhone in her pocket and it beeped to announce a text from Gabriel.  It said “Can you ask if you get to keep your uterus after they take it out?  I have fond memories of my first apartment.”

Ariel read this aloud.  Katie guffawed aloud and snorted, “No way, kid.  You can’t have it because every cell I remove is going to the pathology lab.  But I will take a photograph for you!”  With that, Jim and Ariel released my hands, patted my legs good luck.  We rolled through the double doors, laughing and soon I was under.

Later that afternoon afternoon Katie stopped by with the photograph and to reconfirm that everything was benign.  The photo showed a rosy pink healthy uterus in the ominous shadow of a Darth Vadar-looking purplish blue black swollen mass.  I felt like Dorothy looking at the body of the wicked witch of the North. Now that witchy serous adenoma is shrunken, scraped off the walls of the nearby tissues it had been draining blood from, and has been sent unceremoniously to the path lab with the other six no longer needed body parts (tubes, uterus, ovaries, cervix and, for good measure, the appendix) she’d removed.

Ding Dong, the witch is dead!  Katie said I was doing so well and since the procedure had been at 7:30 AM I had had the full day to recover and if I could “walk and pee” I would be much happier to be at home—so with that encouragement, I managed both and by 8:30PM I was home in Aptos!  My regimen now is pretty much do everything normally.  Walk, walk, walk through the pain.  Exercise, etc.  Because it was all done by laparoscopy the recovery is a miracle and there are no stitches.

When I called my wonderful doctor here in Santa Cruz after the surgery yesterday to thank her for her Herculean efforts all last week, she closed by saying she’s on her way to Spain for a week.  She reminded me that I would have been hiking and river rafting in the Grand Canyon as of now as well. Can we only imagine the scenarios if this had presented tomorrow instead of last Monday! And this afternoon, though it wasn’t the Grand Canyon hiking we’d planned or the rapids we’d expected to run on the Colorado River, we hiked this canyon at home, a mile and a half loop with the dogs leaping and playing, glad to have me home and the familiar returned, up through the redwood meditation grove, pausing for gratitude at the altar of Avalokiteshvara, the boddhisatva of compassion and deep listening.

We will miss you so much in person at Twin Brooks next month, but I feel your love, our deep connection and the soft flutter of angel wings that pass between us.  Honor your art and be well, my dear friend.

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the sweet poignant farewell Ariel offered to her “nest” and Gabriel’s “first apartment.”  Before they came to collect me for the surgery, she climbed upon my hospital bed and cuddled in.  I put on my iPod and we each took one earbud and listened together to the monastics at Deer Park Monastery chanting “Namo Avalokiteshvara Ya” It was so soothing and centering.  Then we listened as Sister Jewel sang the beautiful “Don’t ask the way to peace, peace is the way” and finally, Ariel, stroking our “nest” sang me the words to the round “Standing like a tree with my roots down deep, my branches wide and open, Come, come the rain, Come come the sun, Return to the earth, Return to the one who is standing like a tree with my roots down deep, my branches wide and open…”

With abiding love,

Breathing and smiling,

Harriet

PS Dr. O’Hanlan released me from the hospital that same night  with the injunction to “Walk, Walk,Walk!” and do every athletic thing I felt I could manage, so Sunday we hiked a mile and a half, Monday, two days post op, back to Pilates, Wednesday, back riding Shambhala!! Yee Haw!  XXX H

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