Cancer Ever After

Musings on Infertility, Adoption, Parenthood and Cancer

Obituary

This blog has been an outlet during some of the hardest times.  Times just got harder.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/olathe-ks/timothy-henderleiter-8148749

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COMPLETE!

Our missing piece has been found! Please welcome Porter Michael William.  We are over the moon.  More to come on the craziness of the last few weeks and his spectacular entrance into the world.    SO INCREDIBLY HAPPY!2015-03-25 09.55.50

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Baby’s on his way – a Dad’s perspective

“Are you excited?”  My mom asked.  “Yes, but this time it feels different.” For us this pregnancy has only been five months.  We have been so busy working to make the adoption happen that the time has just flown by.  Between work, our girls, normal housework and upkeep, fund raising, trips to see our birth mother, getting our son’s room ready, and everyday life something feels lost, missing.  The awestruck wonder of becoming a parent, again?  Maybe it’s different because we know we can handle another baby?  Maybe its due to how rapidly this process of adoption has been moving along?  Maybe it’s that we have a game plan and are following it?  Could it be shear exhaustion? I paused and looked back at our journey to become parents and the year and a half since our girls were born.

Discovering that we were infertile and coming to terms with it was a painful and lonely process.  Most of our friends and family have children and did not have any issues doing so.  Understanding and true compassion seemed to be in short supply.   The ordeal seemed to alienate us from many of our friends and co-workers.  Until we opened up completely to our families and gave them day-by-day updates on our last pregnancy, they did not seem to be able to understand or relate.  Many of our friendships did not survive the process of getting our girls and the first year of their lives.  However, the fun we have as a family has replaced the nights of hanging out with friends and going to parties.  And we’re meeting new friends through the various mommy and parent groups that Nichole has joined.

When our girls were born numerous people commented to me that we could try again and have a son.  Several people seemed to pity me or be saddened that I have two girls and no boys.  This did not bother me as I love my girls more than I though possible.  It did, however, make me sad for the people making the comments. However, when I heard that baby H was going to be a boy, I was thrilled.  While I look forward to introducing my son to my interests and hobbies with the hope that at least some of them will resonate with him, I know he will be his own person.  Just as my girls are developing their own personalities, my son will be unique.  Someone that I will get to know and love as he grows.  I hope that he is able to introduce me to new interests and hobbies, that I will be able to discover a whole new world with him.  I do not want a “mini me”; rather a new piece of the puzzle to fit into our family creating a clearer and ever-developing picture of our future.

My friend John once told me, “Being a dad is the best thing in the world.  You come home and your kids stop what they’re doing, run over to you, and jump up and down singing, “Daddy’s home!, Daddy’s home!” at the top of their lungs while grinning ear to ear.  No one else has EVER reacted like that when I showed up at work, or anywhere else.”  I’ve seen his daughter Maddie and son Ryan do this on numerous occasions.  Until I became a dad, I thought John was just being funny. Now when I enter a room after being gone for a while, and my girls reach for me and shout “Da-da!” I know exactly what John meant.  It may be selfish, but I look forward to one more voice being added to the chorus.

They most common thing that I hear when people see my twins is, “Boy, you have your hands full!”  While this may be true, I have learned to adapt.  I have become quasi-ambidextrous,  plan several steps ahead for everything that I do, and encourage the girls to be independent and do as much on their own as possible.  It also helps that they are in the “it’s fun to help phase.”  Dealing with twins is not the exhausting ordeal that it used to be, it’s just the way it is, and we do quite well.  Adding another to the mix will be challenging, but not impossible.  While my hands may be full as I care for my girls my heart swells with love and pride every time they learn something new – a word, a task, figure out how to use something, or understand a question or request and respond in a positive way.  There is still more than enough room in my heart for another child.

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A Real Man

One of the girls had a total meltdown because the bathroom door was closed the other day. “What’s the big deal? Typical toddler behavior.” And that’s true. This is nothing new, but what was new is that my husband was the one in the bathroom. The girls have decided to “pick their favorite parent” this month and they are not sharing. Hazel picked Tim.

The bathroom door being closed was the equivalent to declaring war on toddlers. Her rebel yell could be heard throughout the house. What made this incident so memorable is what I saw next. She quieted down immediately after Tim opened the door. And when I walked past the bathroom a few minutes later, I saw her sitting on his lap reading a book. I couldn’t stop myself. I whipped my phone out and snapped a picture (much to Tim’s dismay) and then solemnly promised not to share.

This is what a real man does. I’ve heard and been part of numerous discussions between women on what a Real Man is. I’ve heard and read countless complaints about how men don’t help out, or aren’t part of raising their children, and I honestly don’t get this at all.

Sometimes I think the limits placed on what men do and help out with is placed by the women in their lives. In our circle of friends, the guys are all very active and involved in their children’s lives. Maybe my circle is limited to the 10 or 20 men out there who are like this, but I don’t think I’m wrong. It’s time to redefine our collective definition of a Real Man in our society.

To me, a Real Man is a wonderful father. He shares in all the experiences of parenthood. He changes diapers (or in our case, washes every single one of the cloth diapers because I have the world’s most developed upchuck reflex). He cooks, he cleans and he gets up for middle-of-the-night feeds.

We live in an equal-opportunity household. When Tim talks to people about how we parent, he gets a lot of surprised reactions. He often hears, “But you’re the guy!” It infuriates me that men are somehow expected to do less or be less, and society chalks that up to being a Real Man.

While I agree that each couple has to find their own groove and figure out what works for them, I vehemently challenge the assumption that a Real Man is someone who does not participate in raising their own children or who would be emasculated by cooking or doing the dishes.

You can’t be a part-time parent during the formative years and then expect to be the confidante or buddy during the soccer-playing or Boy Scout-attending years. I challenge the idea that a Real Man doesn’t help with any of the care for infants or toddlers. I disagree that a Real Man doesn’t help with the cooking or cleaning.

Without my husband’s help, I would not have survived the first six months with twins, let alone breastfeeding them. He got up with me for every single feeding. EVERY. SINGLE. FEEDING. It was very difficult to juggle two babies when I was so sick from the delivery and subsequent complications. We both woke up around the clock for months. And he did it while working full-time. I didn’t go back to work until the girls were four and a half months old.

In my view, a Real Man does what’s needed to care and provide for his family. This may be repairs, this may be working two jobs, this may be changing diapers and cooking dinner. At the end of the day, a Real Man loves his children. Whether or not a guy is a Real Man is not measured by what he looks like or what his hobbies are. It’s about what he does with his heart and his time. A Real Man loves his family and, yes, a Real Man lets his daughter sit on his lap while he tries to go the bathroom.

Every morning, afternoon and evening, every minute of every day, I am so glad that I married a Real Man.

P.S. I caught the man who swore I would never hear him sing, singing to our girls last night in the nursery. I’m so in love.

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