Today is probably one of the heaviest and happiest days of my life; happy that my journey is over, but heavy because the pain it caused me is still very much real and very much haunting me, still, even now. I know, so many people love my story; it was amazing in the end, but it was paralyzing. Absolutely devastatingly paralyzing, up until the end.
The very first time I can remember being curious about my father was in Kindergarten. We were supposed to draw a picture of our dad and I just sat there not sure what I was supposed to draw. Those stupid crayons taunted me. Mocked me. I was peeking at everyone else’s papers watching them just color and draw like it was no big deal. And at the time, my six-year-old-self hated them. I hated them for knowing, and all I could do was sit there, feeling like an idiot. Feeling like I didn’t fit, like there was something wrong with me. That was the very first time it occurred to me that I wasn’t like the other kids; I wasn’t like my friends. Of course, I asked and asked, but my questioning was never well received. I was made to feel guilty over my desire to know. I was made to feel like I did something wrong by asking; like somehow it was my fault.
For a long time, I was told it was one man, and it wasn’t. The news that it wasn’t him devastated me. Prior to the test, I at least had a name. I thought that was terrible, that all I knew was a first name. I had no idea how much worse it was going to get; how much less I could know. I had been told the DNA test was just a formality; that this man had a jealous wife who didn’t believe I was his. The results came back negative and it was like a knife to the heart. I was refused any further information, despite begging, pleading, sobbing, bargaining… Nothing I did mattered to anyone and I knew it. I still remember the day we opened that envelope and I remember each and every word said to me. Replaying like a clip from a horrible movie in my head every time I think of it.
When I was 17, I managed to get two names, again, with begging, pleading and making deals I should never have agreed to. I was told it was one of the two, for sure, no question. Five and seven years later, I knew it wasn’t either one. Another name, some digging on my own for a couple other names, and I had no answer, I had no leads. I was never going to know and there was absolutely nothing I could do.
I was a mess. I was a train wreck. I was a f***ing disaster. This was it? I spent so much time trying everything I knew how, learning how to try what I didn’t know how, forcing myself to push on, banging my head on walls, crying until I felt like my lungs were going to fold inside out and fall out my face, wishing on every star as a kid, every goddamn birthday candle, even praying, back before I stopped believing… This was going to be the end? This was going to be the final devastating chapter? I was depressed. This was rock bottom. Rock effing bottom. It couldn’t possibly get worse than it already was… Seemed like that being a trend. It just got worse and worse and worse. I had a hole in my heart, nothing was ever going to fill. A question mark hanging over my head and that blank space was going to follow me into my grave.
There are no words for how ugly of a place that was for me.
Everyone told me to move on, they were sorry, nothing they could do, nothing anyone could do. And I just couldn’t. It was consuming me. Absolutely consuming. How am I supposed to just let it go? I have NEVER wanted anything this bad, and through no fault of my own, it was completely unattainable. I was completely powerless. I was hurting beyond anything I can describe and there was no band-aid that could fix that kind of wound.
Then, I heard about adoptees and abandoned babies finding their family through ancestral DNA. I am pretty sure most people thought I was grasping at straws. I probably was. I really don’t know. But I jumped in, feet first. I banged my head on a million more walls. I cried until I felt like my lungs were going to fall out my face. I obsessively and compulsively checked and checked and re-checked and re-checked a million times a day. I built hundreds of trees. I looked for connections so desperately that often times, I saw them where there were none. I ate, slept, dreamed genetic genealogy. My dreams tortured me; I would dream I found him, I made the connection, I knew his name, then I’d wake up and it wasn’t real and I couldn’t remember the name from the dream.
It absolutely consumed me.
And then, one day, when I hit yet another worse-than-I-thought-it-could-get point, I snapped. I couldn’t keep doing it. I couldn’t keep this up. I needed a break. I was going to look one more time, and if there wasn’t anything new, I wasn’t going to check again for another six months, minimum. It was killing me. It was breaking my heart and pouring salt on the wound over and over and over.
I logged in and suddenly, unlike the hundreds of thousands of times I had checked before (and I mean that number literally), there was something new. Something new and something big. Within an hour of opening my account, I knew my father was one of three men, shortly after sending a message, I knew which of the three it was. I got dizzy. Super dizzy. I felt like I was drunk and I puked in my trashcan.
It was over. It was finally over.
I got my answer. That was all I ever wanted, and I was lucky, in that I got more than I wanted; I got a father, two new sisters who are so much like me it’s crazy. I got a new uncle, new aunts, a whole family, cousins, grandparents, even a great-grandfather, all of which welcomed me with the most open arms I’ve ever seen. I remember being so jealous of other people’s reunion stories; mine was the most perfect one I’ve ever seen unfold.
I got to meet most of my family. They looked like me. THEY LOOKED LIKE ME. All of them, I could see bits and pieces of myself and my kids in each and every one of them. It was a huge deal for me. Growing up, no one ever looked like me except my mother. I remember seeing people on the street, just in passing and I’d notice a similarity and wonder “Maybe that’s my dad” or “maybe they’re my cousin/sister/aunt/uncle.” That followed me my entire life and would hit me at the most random times; passing someone at the park, the store, a kid in my class. It never went away… And then when I found them, and I could see it, with my own eyes. They all looked like me, and my kids. My two new sisters are almost clones of me at a younger age.
I got my answer, but I got so much more than I ever expected and it couldn’t have been any more perfect than it was.
I have waited so long to write what I am about to write. The funny part is, I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to say it. It still feels so surreal.
As you may know from my last post ( “The Five Stages of DNA Purgatory“) I got the matches I needed to solve my mystery… But they were anonymous. I sent messages, and they never responded. In the beginning, I kept hoping maybe they were busy. Maybe they didn’t see it. Maybe they were still learning how to use the site. But every day that passed, the more hopeless I felt about it. What good is a match if I don’t know their name? What good is a match that I can’t trace? Eventually, my top match changed her name to “Lana B.” but as you can imagine, it didn’t do me much good and her son was still anonymous. By the time six months rolled around from when it popped up in October, I gave up trying to figure it out. My best match below the mother and son pair on 23andme was a measly 49cm and I had no idea, not even remotely, where it fit.
Then in January, a new match popped up on Ancestry. 90cm. It wasn’t as high as I would have liked, but it was nearly double my next highest match. I did a lot of digging. I made some mirror trees. I traced out every single branch I could find. I thought I had it narrowed down to one specific couple (perhaps my great-great-grandparents?), but try as I might, I just couldn’t narrow it down to any of their children. Something wasn’t making sense. I kept digging though. And then dug some more. And more. And finally, after nearly a month of this, I threw my hands up in frustration.
I was exhausted. I was depressed. I was frustrated beyond measure. I was desperate. I was sad. I was absolutely and utterly hopeless.
The odds of getting another high match like the anonymous ones that kept teasing me were low. And even if I did, how long would it take? A week? A month? A decade? My life was starting to revolve around these trees. Interpreting DNA and desperately trying to make sense of matches so small, most genetic genealogists wouldn’t bother with them; but those matches were all I had to work with. I had absolutely buried myself in DNA. It even invaded my dreams; I would have very long, detailed dreams about working on trees, pinpointing matches, and getting closer to an answer. I had to really focus to contain my jealousy, and my urge to throw myself on the floor and throw a tantrum, “WHY CAN’T THAT BE ME?” any time one of my fellow searchers found their family or was reunited with their birth family. I probably spent enough time on it to equate to a part-time job over the last year, yet I just couldn’t manage to get any closer. It felt like no matter how I tried, I just wasn’t allowed to have an answer. For me, there would never, be any resolution. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how patient I was, no matter what I did.
So, feeling especially sorry for myself, I decided I needed a break. I was tired of desperately refreshing my match pages every few hours, hoping something changed, when 99% of the time it doesn’t. It was making me crazy. I decided I would take one more look at all three of my match pages, and if nothing new popped out, or no new leads stood out, then I was going to take a break; indefinitely. For my sanity’s sake.
I logged into ancestry. Nothing new. Family Tree DNA. Nothing new. GEDmatch. Nothing new. Then 23andme. Nothing new… wait. Lana B.’s son now has his full name listed. And lucky me, it wasn’t a common one. My heart was pounding. I searched his name on Facebook. I found him immediately. I lucked out even more when he had all of his family member’s listed publicly in his “About Me.” And sure enough, Lana B. was listed as his mother. I rushed over to Ancestry and started building a mirror tree. It took some digging to find records, but I found them pretty quickly and within half an hour, I had a decently sized tree made for her. My goal, was to attach my DNA to her family tree and figure out which side of her family my other DNA relatives seemed to line up with. Then, once I figured that out, I would need to go back 2-4 generations and build out trees for each child’s spouse and see if anything pops out as familiar, or connected to my other DNA matches. Ideally, you want to find where your matches, unrelated to one another, intersect, because odds are, you are descended from the marriage they intersect at, not always, but there’s a good chance.
One of the things you can do while building trees is look at other member’s public trees to compare information. I do this regularly, just to double check and compare what other people have. While working on Lana B.’s tree, I pulled up someone’s tree that included one of her ancestors. I was confirming the information on one side, and just happened to glace at the other side and saw the name Woods. Well, it’s a common name, but after looking through the succession of Woods’ and the marriages, I realized pretty quickly that the other side of the tree matches my 90cm match’s tree exactly. I sat there in disbelief. Did this really just fall into my lap? Did I really just get that lucky?
Based on what I was seeing, there was no endogamy. I had to be descended from where the family of Lana and the family of my 90cm match intersected. I almost squealed I was so excited. One of that couple’s grandsons was my father! ONE OF THEIR GRANDSONS WAS MY FATHER! I couldn’t believe it! Now, just to figure out which grandson. From what I could tell, there were three. Two brothers with the same last name, so the same father, and their cousin. The home person on the tree was one of the two brothers, so I started looking into his father’s line. At this point, I felt pretty deflated. Nothing was familiar. Nothing really matched. So, it had to be his cousin, right?
I sent the tree owner a pretty vague message, asking about the daughter of his grandmother and what her name was, along with any siblings. Then we talked briefly about DNA. He said “assuming you aren’t adopted” in his message and I felt comfortable enough to come clean with him about what I was doing and I asked about his cousin;
“I am not adopted but my father is unknown. My mother never told the father. I wonder if perhaps your uncle had any sons? I would be looking for a man likely born in the 60s, likely in the military, and in Alaska in early 1988. That’s literally everything I know, unfortunately, and Margie and Wesley’s lines intersect with both of my closest matches on either side.
I am quite young. 27. So if your uncle has a child it is possible! But my 3rd cousin matches through Wesley and my second cousin through Margie. I’m not sure how likely that is to be fluke!”
At this point, I was really hoping this man would help by giving me more information on his uncle and whether or not he had any sons and who their mothers were. If I could get that information, I could search for more matches and see what fits. Instead, he responded with this;
“Well… Wow. At first I was thinking it could be my uncle’s son, but…
My brother was born in 66 and stationed in Anchorage Alaska in the late 80s. What is your mom’s name? He was married to a woman (first marriage) who already had two children, but it was short lived and no children between them (to any of our knowledge – maybe not even his). I can’t remember if they met in Alaska or not.
So my brother would be WAY more likely to fit this scenario than my Gary’s son.
If this is true…this would be crazy. :)”
Wow! Just wow! I could barely compose myself. He asked if he could call me and despite my extreme aversion to phone conversations with anyone but my grandma and my husband, I agreed. We talked for an hour. Turns out that he and his brother had the same last name, but different fathers, both with the same name. Unrelated, just coincidence. After doing a little digging, I was able to track down the brother’s father’s lines. Sure enough, a few 4th-6th cousins matched up down his paternal lines. His brother sent me some photos. I couldn’t believe it. He looked so much like me, and his daughter could have been my twin when I was the same age.
This was it. I found him.
The next few days, I worked on expanding the tree. My uncle continued to help me find information. He also told my aunt. We facetimed, which again, was a huge deal. I don’t video-chat with anyone but my grandma and Alinda. Sometimes Chelsea. She was so excited and couldn’t get over it. At this point, my father was unaware. I was afraid to tell him. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I was really worried about upsetting or disrupting his life. I didn’t want that. And with how many times I have had to have that uncomfortable conversation, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it again, especially since I knew I had found my answer. I was happy just knowing. His brother and sister were bursting at the seams though, and insisted that he would be happy about it, so I agreed. Why not jump in feet first? I have already worked for this for ten years! Let’s do it. They conference called him and told him.
My daughter had star-student of the week. I went to her school to have lunch with her. When I got home, my husband looked at me and said “Do you want to call your dad? He called twice while you were gone.” My heart just about exploded. “Call my dad?” CALL MY DAD?! I never, ever, in my life, imagined that I would ever get to say those words. Something so simple, but so powerful at the same time. I couldn’t believe it was happening.
I called him, and I could have sworn he could hear my heart just slamming against my ribs while we spoke. He was nice. Funny. Excited. And really, really, friendly. And even more interested than he was friendly. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. I hit the jackpot. No doors slammed in my face. No threats. No one telling me to get lost. Every bad thing I have ever prepared myself for, or imagined and feared… It was the complete opposite.
I spent the next two weeks feeling like it was all a daydream. I would rush down to the computer every morning to triple check and make sure it wasn’t another taunting dream. I couldn’t stop re-checking, re-evaluating, re-confirming. I was re-checking my work a million times a day, terrified and paranoid that somehow, I made a mistake. Did I get something wrong? What if I did? Maybe I should check again. I even cross-checked it with people more experienced in genetic genealogy than me me, even having some pretty well-known expects take a peek. Everyone came to the same conclusion. Over and over again. No matter how many times I checked it. This was it.
I found my dad.
I thought I got lucky having two very high new matches show up on 23andme, but truly, I wish they never had. The site locked down the anonymous accounts on November 12, as planned, in preparation for their new user interface. Sure enough, they slowly rolled out the changes. My grandpa’s account was converted first and I was over the moon to discover that the new system allowed me to send a message to an anonymous user, despite the fact that these anonymous users are planned to be phased out. I was thrilled I was going to get a second chance to contact these two matches. Maybe they would respond this time. I wrote, re-wrote, and re-worded my email a million times before I sent it. I wanted it to be perfect. Maybe that’s why they didn’t respond to the first one. This time, I wouldn’t mess it up. I was friendly, polite, engaged and asked direct questions, while providing just enough information to hopefully pique their curiosity.
Then I waited.
And then I logged in and refreshed the page forty times an hour. Then twenty. Then once an hour. Then once a day.
They haven’t responded. I don’t think they ever will and it completely blows my mind. These individuals had JUST got their test results when I messaged them the first time, before the site changed over. I had logged in, then logged in again two days later and saw the new match and messaged him instantly. Then I was obsessively checking it waiting for a response from him. I checked it. Nothing. Watched a television show. Checked again an hour later and his (likely) mother’s match showed up. I messaged her within an hour of her results being posted. Which makes me think they had to have seen the message. I would assume after forking out a couple hundred on this test, they would be checking it. Even more mind boggling is that the DNA relatives feature isn’t automatically done. You have to deliberately enable it. You have to click through all of these different options and “opt in” to the DNA relatives feature. Which means that these people deliberately chose to participate in this feature, yet ignored me.
I don’t get it. I really don’t.
At this point, I know I’m throwing a pity party. I’m feeling apathetic. I’m not crying as much as I was, but there was a good week where I’d start thinking about it and just burst into tears. For those that know me, this is a big deal. I don’t usually cry unless someone died. But that’s how I feel. I feel like someone died. Truly. I went through the five stages of grief with this.
Denial… I kept thinking they’ll message me any minute. I’m being impatient. Maybe if I refresh it again, there will be a message. There wasn’t. Maybe one more time. Still nothing. Let’s throw in the definition of insanity here, since it seems to apply. Well, maybe when I wake up in the morning. Well, maybe by dinner time. Maybe they’re working a lot this week and they’ll get back to me this weekend when they have some free time. Well, maybe this weekend just got crazy busy, so they’ll try again later.
Then I got angry. Why would they take this test if they aren’t going to respond? What is the point? Why would they do this and be so unwilling to help? Genealogy and genetic genealogy really rely on a sharing of information and cooperation. Why be a dick and withold it? Especially when you are such an amazing match? What did I do to deserve this? Do they not realize how badly this is hurting me? Why would they do this if they’re just going to complete ignore everyone?! Especially this high of a match.
And here comes the bargaining. I told my muslim friend and my christian friend… If your god is real, here’s the chance to make me doubt my atheism. I even told a good friend of mine if they contact me, I promise, I will read the Quaran cover to cover. It doesn’t mean I will believe it, but I will read it. Better yet, I’ll go upstairs (since I live in an old church) kneel down on the alter and praise sweet baby Jesus/Mohammed. I will officially change my label from atheist to agnostic. Just let this one thing go right. Religious bargaining isn’t working. Okay, universe. Let’s try again. I will let it rest if I find my answer. Just a name. That’s all I want. I won’t contact him. I won’t interfere. Just let me solve this puzzle. I can be happy. Even if he’s a complete jerk or a serial killer or wants my head on a platter. Just give me the answer.
Then came the depression. I’ll never win. I’ll never solve this puzzle and it seems like I am the only one who doesn’t get their answer. In my DNA search group, there are success stories and reunifications left and right. It will never be me. Everything good is happening somewhere else. I’m doomed to fail. The universe won’t ever cut me some slack and no matter how hard I try, it doesn’t matter and it never will. I’ll never get my answer and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I know it makes me a terrible person, but I can’t even see other people’s success stories anymore. I get so angry and bitter, my head could explode. And then I go right back to the anger and bargaining.
And acceptance? I don’t think that will ever come. I can accept my father being a scumbag. I can accept him wanting nothing to do with me. But I really can’t accept never knowing.
Then I saw this quote.
And it hit home. That’s what this is. That’s why it hurts so bad. That’s why the grief is so intense. It is a deep and profound sense of loss that I cannot even attempt to describe or put words to, because even the best description would fall short by far.
It’s just not fair. As childish as that is. It’s not fair. There is nothing I can do about it. Nothing anyone else can do about it (except maybe those two matches who seem to enjoy this hell they have condemned me to). There’s nothing. And the worst part is… Before, there was nothing. No good matches. No real or conclusive way to obtain an answer. Just ways to work slight closer, but still tremendously far away. Now, there’s something. It’s right there. In front of my face.
And I can’t have it.
My search for my father has been anything but easy. It’s been complicated. Difficult. Emotional. Devastating. Soul-crushing. Disappointing. Aggravating. Painful. Infuriating. Saddening. Desperate. Heartbreaking.
After exhausting all possibilities, I turned to autosomal DNA testing. So many people have been able to locate their families this way. People with even less knowledge than I have about my father (which to be honest, I still have terribly little). There have been babies abandoned on doorsteps or trashcans who found their biological parents using these methods. I was so hopeful that it would work for me. I did all three DNA testing sites, 23andme, Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. I even uploaded my DNA to a fourth site. I had so much hope that I would get a decent match and I would be able to track down my biological father.
It didn’t work out that way.
I had no decent matches on my father’s side (my mother and maternal grandfather both tested to help me categorize my matches as maternal vs. paternal). I even tried to hire professional genetic genealogists to help work my case but my matches were so bad, that even they wouldn’t take my case. Despite the grim outlook, I kept working. Hours and hours and hours sucked into the abyss. It didn’t get me closer to my answer, but I am fairly certain I have identified a few ancestors.
Which brings us to this week.
I logged into my 23andme account just to check and see if anything had changed. It never does, no matter how many times I check, which is why I jokingly refer to checking it as my “ritualistic torture.” I login every single time, hoping for something new, but for seven months, nothing.
Then there was something.
I logged in and right below my mother and my grandfather’s matches to me was a new match. 1.47% across six segments. More than 2.5x my best match. Likely a second cousin once removed. I freaked out. I checked to see if he was on my mother’s side. Knowing my luck, it would be on my mother’s side. My only good matches are. He wasn’t. I had just checked a couple days prior, so he had to have just been added. Then I really started panicking. Unfortunately, this user was anonymous, which meant all I could see was the percentage shared, how many segments, gender and the maternal and paternal haplogroups.
Then I started obsessively checking to see if he responded. 24 hours later, no response. I was feeling anxious and worried. I checked one more time before bed and saw another match. Female. 2.97% across 10 segments. A second cousin. Same maternal haplogroup as the previous match, so likely a mother and son. Unfortunately she was anonymous too.
How did I get that lucky? That’s an amazing match. If they respond to me with even the tiniest shred of information, I will be able to find my dad (or a very short conclusive list of who it may be). No doubts. 100% certain. This is what I have been waiting for. This is my key to unlock my answer and find the closure I have been trying to find for so long.
But here I wait. And wait. And wait.
Maybe they’re busy. Maybe they haven’t seen it yet. Maybe they’re still learning how to use the site. I’ve gone through every possibility, but I am so scared that they won’t respond to me. To make matters worse, 23andme is changing their system on the 11th and anonymous users will no longer be able to participate in the relative finding aspects of the site, my contact request will be deleted and all anonymous users will be removed from my list.
So now I panic a little bit more the closer it gets to the 11th. I feel like the universe is dangling carrots in front of me. I just need them to respond to me. That’s all. How cruel it would be to have those matches, knowing they are there and your answer is within them, but for them to yield nothing and disappear. I worry, that along with everything else that has ever gone along with my paternity, my luck will continue its trend and I still won’t be any closer to my answer.
If they respond to me, with even the tiniest bit of information, I am confident I will be able to solve this mystery. But I am so afraid that they won’t.
If you have had a cesarean, you have been branded with a scarlet letter C.
It doesn’t matter what the reason for your cesarean was. It doesn’t matter if you had a cesarean (or even two) due to a true life-or-death emergency. It doesn’t matter if your cesarean resulted from a failed induction that triggered fetal distress. It doesn’t matter if your cesarean was due to your doctor not wanting to miss his golf game.
The reason does not matter.
If you have had a cesarean, you have been branded with a scarlet C across your forehead for any and all subsequent births. You are no longer a patient evaluating her options. You are now a liability, a risk and a nuissance. The majority of midwives cannot take you as a patient due to legal restrictions on their licenses, most of these restrictions being based on outdated research and information. While the majority of midwives can’t take you, even if they wanted to, the majority of obstetricians won’t take you unless you agree to go under the knife once again. If by some “luck” (and I say that loosely) you find an obstetrician willing to take you and “allow” you to attempt a trial of labor, you will likely be given a laundry list of conditions you must meet in order for them to support you in your attempt at a vaginal delivery. Conditions such as going into labor naturally before 38 weeks, agreeing to an epidural immediately upon admission to the hospital, laboring no longer than x amount of hours, a baby weighing no more than x pounds as determined by ultrasound (which is highly inaccurate), and many other ridiculous conditions, all of which set women up to fail.
Don’t get me wrong. There are physicians out there who support a woman’s decisions relating to her birth, regardless of her surgical history, however, those physicians are few and far between and are often faced with professional repercussions and absurd hospital politics should they choose to go against hospital policies in their support of patient autonomy. I’ve seen it happen and it is an ugly, ugly battle that often ends in a truly honorable physician choosing to no longer care for these pregnant women.
Only in America would hospital policy be of more importance than doing the right thing.
Only in America would hospital policy be of more importance than respecting the educated and informed decisions of a patient.
Midwifery, for most of these scarlet-lettered mothers is not an option. In most regions, midwives are not legally able to attend the birth of a woman who has had a prior cesarean. Midwives who do so, are subject to losing their license to practice and may even face criminal charges. While lay midwives may be willing to attend the birth of a woman who has had a prior cesarean, obtaining these services can be tricky and costly, as a lay midwife would not likely be covered by insurance. Some women are fortunate enough to live in states that allows midwifery care for women with a prior cesarean, while this is a step in the right direction, these women are subject to a long list of conditions they must meet in order to qualify as a “good candidate” for midwifery care, the definition varying by state and often not aligned with other current criteria.
Because midwifery is, for the most part, not an option for these scarlet-lettered women, the services of an obstetrician are often sought. Unfortunately, the majority of obstetricians are not well-educated on vaginal birth after cesarean, and even among those that are, most are unwilling to support a woman wholly in their choice because it is a sacrifice on their part. A VBAC is a tremendous sacrifice on the part of the physician and takes a toll on not only the physician but his family and personal time, often due to hospital policies, insurance policies and even laws requiring specific presence and proximity when a patient is undergoing a trial of labor. These physicians are forced to spend more time (much of which, the necessity could be debated) and energy on a VBAC, and are paid less for a successful VBAC than a scheduled cesarean. Even the best, most committed and supportive physician would burn out given enough time. Unfortunately, the vast majority of physicians do not want to be bothered with this level of commitment and simply won’t take a VBAC patient. Some physicians might take a VBAC patient, but on their own conditions (see above) and these conditions often leave women high and dry, with little chance of success and no true support. They are telling you, “I will let you have a VBAC but only if you make it easy for me.” This does not help the large majority of these scarlet-lettered women.
So what options are left for you, Ms. Prynne? What can you do besides sit down, shut up and take what our government and medical establishments deem you worthy of?
Beyond midwifery (or the lack of) and a (likely unsupportive) obstetrician, you are left with one final option; go it alone. Give birth unassisted, without a midwife or physician, in your own home, with just your own knowledge and capabilities. This is, for most women, a very frightening idea. What is even more frightening, is that this is often the best option. Unassisted birth is an amazing thing, but what is not amazing, is that we live in a society where that scarlet letter C often leaves women with unassisted birth as their only option to avoid an unnecessary cesarean. Yet, despite being stuck between a rock and a hard place with this decision, women are still villified for utilizing this option, being told they are reckless, endangering their baby and in some extreme cases, have even been investigated by social services and had their children removed from their custody because they made the only decision they felt they had. Because they made the decision that they felt was ultimately, in their and their baby’s best interest.
People who argue against unassisted birth will often state that they are “all for homebirth being safe and accessible for all women,” but this sentiment has abslutely no value to those women who need those options NOW. This sentiment, while an admirable goal for our society, does not make the situation any better. It does not magically give these women who are due next week, next month or even next year the options that they deserve to have. This sentiment does quite the opposite, condemning the very difficult choices that have been made by these scarlet lettered women who refuse to sit down, shut up and take the scraps that have been thrown to them. These women have been denied a choice, denied options, and now, denied support from the very communities and groups of women that were established for just that purpose.
And that is the problem.
We live in a society where support, and even respect for a patient’s autonomy is conditional. It comes with stipulations. If you bear that scarlet letter C, your entire experience and how you will be treated is held together by thousands of tiny threads; each one a condition you are expected to meet, not only by care providers, but from your family, your friends, your neighbors, your peers, even the cashier at the grocery store. And if even one of those threads is missing, then you are reckless, selfish and ignorant. You are no longer worthy of support. Your thoughts, your opinions and your desires are no longer valid, even among others like you, bearing that scarlet letter C. You are wrong for wanting better. You are wrong for standing up for yourself and your baby beyond what is deemed “acceptable.” You are wrong.
And you should just sit back, shut up, take what you are given and be grateful for it.
I got my final results from 23andme a while ago and have been working on it daily. Unfortunately, I don’t have much as far as close matches on my paternal side. My closest match is Brandi, at 49.1cm and an estimated range of 3rd-4th cousins. Unfortunately, this doesn’t narrow it down too much. I have built a pretty extensive tree for her over the last few weeks, but I am still working on it diligently. I was able to ask her to upload to gedmatch which will hopefully give me more insight as to which line of her family I come from. My plan there, is to work with her highest matches that do not match me on gedmatch to determine which line they descend from. I will then be able to eliminate that line on her tree as being the line I am from, due to the fact I do not match her match.
I did make a discovery though. Through comparing notes with several genetic cousins, some closer, some further, I am 99.9% sure I descend from Stephen Caudill and Sarah Sally Adams. I was able to work seven or eight genetic cousins into their line, even one that only matches me 10cm… Which is super tiny! I wish it was a closer common ancestor though. If it were closer, I’d be able to trace it down much easier. I really can’t trace it down like this, as there’s several generations between myself and Stephen, and they grow exponentially every time a child has a child.
It’s still pretty cool to know a little bit about my paternal ancestry.
I did something really cool through gedmatch. I phased my mother’s kit with mine, which then creates a hybrid kit of my father’s genetics. It’s not 100% accurate, but its a good starting point. It told me his eyes are likely brown. And it gave me some ethnicity estimates, although those can be very tricky. Either way, I still like having that information
The car insurance comparison sites around at the moment do make life quite a lot easier, especially with the various gimmicks and offers available from most. Whether it’s free cinema tickets or a small amount of cash back, it’s always nice to get that little bit extra.
While I wait for my matches to propagate, I decided to run a genetic health report on www.promethease.com The data is a little scary, but given I don’t know anything about my paternal side at all I figured it would be good to get an idea of what I have a risk factors for based on my genetics.
Extremely low risk of atrial fibrillation
Extremely low risk of autoimmune disease
Low risk of obesity
Reduced risk of acute coronary events
Lower heart attack risk than average
Resistance to norovirus
More likely to respond to placebos for anxiety
0.44x decreased age related macular degeneration risk
Greatly increased memory performance
Slow caffeine metabolizer
60% reduction in viral load with HIV
Less likely to sustain damage from alcoholism
Lower risk of going bald
Stronger bones (never broken one!)
Wet earwax and better body odor
Decreased basal cell carcinoma risk (0.78x less likely)
Slightly lower risk of bladder cancer
Higher levels of good cholesterol
Resistance to Prion disease (which is transmitted through cannibalism… so I think I’m safe anyway)
Lower risk of endometriosis
Typical birthweight babies
Lower risk of autism
Lower risk of alcohol withdrawal seizures
Decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease
Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Several types of impaired drug metabolism
I will have to be on drug watch with any new medication
Seven times less likely to respond to antidepressants (that explains a lot)
Carrier for an erythropoietic protoporphyria mutation
Increased risk of celiac disease
1.3x higher risk of ER+ breast cancer
Carrier of allele for congenital adrenal hyperplasia (I actually carry two of these)
Carrier of allele for Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
1.3x increased risk for type II diabetes
Lack of empathy (apparently my oxytoxin receptors are genetically flawed)
2.5x the risk of developing narcolepsy
2.8x the risk of psoriasis
1.3x the risk of aortic and brain aneurisms
Stronger cravings for alcohol
5x the risk of Fuch’s dystrophy, a corneal disease
1.16x the risk of osteoarthritis
1.94x the risk of rheumatoid arthritis
2.5x the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia
Prone to thrombosis
1.47x the risk of uterine fibroids
Higher risk for chordoma
1.5-3x the risk of oschemic stroke
2.1x increased risk of Crohn’s disease
3.7x the risk of schizophrenia (greatttttt…)
Increased risk of depression, panic and stress response
Prone to alcoholism
5.5x the risk of type-1 diabetes
2.67x the risk of systemic sclerosis
1.4x the risk of hypertension in pregnancy
No physical benefit to alcohol consumption (maybe this is good?)
1.5x the risk of childhood asthma
Delayed childhood speech
Aspirin resistant (bad news if I do have a heart attack)
Increased risk of bipolar
Increased risk of multiple sclerosis
1.2x the risk of endometrial ovarian cancer
Significantly increased risk of cervical cancer
Slightly higher risk of cannabis dependence
Reduced conversion of beta-carotene to retinol
2.4x the risk of Grave’s disease
2x increased risk of Hodgkin Lymphoma
4x higher risk of hyperuracemia
2x increased risk of parkinson disease
1.4x the risk of lupus
1.7x the risk of developing a peanut allergy
1.2-1.8x risk of tuberculosis
2x the risk of melanoma
So, what I am gathering from this, is that I am smart, have a good heart, don’t do well with antidepressant drugs, have no physical benefit to alcohol consumption and am prone to alcoholism, but won’t sustain damage or have seizures if I do become an alcoholic… Probably shouldn’t eat peanuts, but cannibalism won’t leave me diseased and need more caffeine than most…
Did I miss something?
Oh yeah, i’ve promised i will come back with those lightweight jogging stroller reviews, but i will let that for the next time fellas.
Happy anniversary to me!
Just kidding… No, really. May 15th (my little sister’s birthday) was the nine year anniversary of trying to find my father. Nine years. Nine longggg years. Nine *bleeping* years.
That’s a long time.
Anyway, as if to celebrate the nine year mark of my search for my biological father, my 23andme status was bumped up to Step 5: Initial Results. I didn’t get my ethnicity report immediately, like I thought I would, but they came the next day (Saturday). However, I couldn’t resist from running my raw genetic data through another program ( www.gedmatch.com ) to see what it had to say for my ethnic composition.
You’ll have to click on it to make it bigger and view the percentages. It surprised me a bit, as I didn’t expect Asian to be on there at all. Asian was probably the very last ethnicity I expected to be on my report. Either way, I’m being told that GEDmatch isn’t the best for ethnicity so I didn’t put too much faith into it. My 23andme results came in the next day.
These are more like I was expecting, but still… I didn’t expect any Middle Easter, North African, Asian, Native American or Sub-Saharan African. Some of the European covers the Iberian Peninsula and Mediterranean, as well as Poland, Hungary, Russia and Ukraine. I wasn’t surprised by those, except maybe the Iberian aspect. I knew there was Polish in my maternal grandfather’s line. At least I think I knew… I know I’ve heard there is, I just don’t remember where I heard it.
It also gave my my maternal haplogroup. I can’t see my paternal haplogroup unless I have a male paternal relative test, as the paternal haplogroup is passed down on the Y-chromosome. Being a girl, I have no Y chromosome and my son would have gotten his Y-chromosome from his father, making that useless in identifying my father’s line. I would need to test a son of my father’s, my father, or even my father’s brothers (if they all have the same father). I don’t think I have ever wished I was a boy in my life except for now… Just so I could have the information on that Y-chromosome.
So, while knowing my maternal haplogroup isn’t really helpful in identifying my paternal family, it is still very interesting to know. And as immature as it is, I find it giggle-worthy that the name of the people was “Saami” and my nickname is “Sammi.” I know, completely unrelated and coincidental, but fun!
Another interesting thing… I am 3.2% Neanderthal. I know everyone has it in them, but I have to admit, I was surprised to learn that I have more Neanderthal than 99% of the population… Sheesh. Way to go, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing self!
In the meantime, I have uploaded my raw data to www.gedmatch.com so if you want to compare our kits, my kit ID number is M798033. My data has been tokenized and can be compared one-to-one but it hasn’t been batched and can’t be compared one-to-many yet.
So now I wait for matches. I am dying for the matches part. I have read so much about all of this and I just want to jump in and start digging. I’ve learned so much about triangulation and how to identify lineage! I just want to apply it now!