Cancer Ever After

Musings on Infertility, Adoption, Parenthood and Cancer

Getting Ready for Baby

How do we begin preparing our girls for the baby? They are still pretty young. We’ve been talking about them getting a brother, and have been pointing to the baby’s room, but I don’t think it is really registering. Now that we are drawing close to his delivery date, it’s time to really work with the girls so that they are welcoming when Baby H joins our family.

We participate in Parents as Teachers, and our counselor’s recommendation was to make sure we have toys that are new to the girls when we bring the baby home. We will want something that is exciting for them, since the baby is so exciting for us. She also suggested putting together two small baskets of “quiet toys” that they get to play with only during the baby’s feedings. We kind of like that idea.

And then we need to introduce them to the concept of a baby full-scale. We’ve played with them with baby dolls, but we’re making a trip to the library (and getting a book off Amazon) to help walk them through how to interact with a sibling. If we read this every night until he’s born, it may make the transition easier.

We also have to think about what we should prepare as we have the girls transition from a daycare center to a nanny. I want to put together busy bags that have lots of different activities the nanny can easily rotate through. I need to start requesting books and activities from the library to give her the tools she will need. We need to think through how we have everything laid out in the house. Does the layout work well with three kiddos day in and day out, or would rearranging make everything more convenient? We also need to work on a rotation system for their toys so they they stay excited about playing with them and we’re not breaking the bank.

This list keeps growing. But it’s a list I’m excited about. We’re also tackling the nursery. This is no small feat.

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As the picture above proves, we have our work cut out for us. We’re no strangers to home renovation. We bought a fixer-upper and during our infertile years used the renovations as a way to keep our minds off the pain and disappointment. We’ve installed a fence, repainted the entire exterior of our house (by ourselves) and tackled every single room. Every room but one, that is. The dreaded (former) fish room that had the most hideous fish wallpaper. We waited because we knew it was going to be the worst room in the house, but its day has finally come.

Hopefully, soon, we’ll be able to say it’s Baby H’s room and no longer the fish room (although we’ll probably call it that for the next 30 years and visitors will always wonder why).

All of these things are good problems to have. We are getting giddy as the journey nears its conclusion. We’ll juggle, we’ll find time to get it all done, and we’ll make sure our girls are as ready as a pair of 19-month-olds can be for a new baby brother.

It’s going to be fun!

Want to help support our adoption? 
Visit our youcaring page and make a donation. Until March 1, each $20 donation will get you entered to win a 3 night stay at the Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. View here for more information.

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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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Welcome to the Other Side

When people hear me talk about my childhood, I’m often asked “Did you grow up in a commune?” I find that funny, because my parents weren’t hippies. We just didn’t have a lot, so we made do with what we had. We butchered our own animals, grew berries and vegetables, and were self-sufficient before self-sufficient was cool.

But these aren’t the things I remember about my childhood. I remember the fun, the games, playing outside, having a million cousins, and–most of all–having fun. We didn’t have a lot, but I also remember always loving Christmas. I don’t know how my parents did it. There was always a special gift just for us. We made homemade cocoa, sang christmas carols, hung out in p.j.s and tried to stay up all night for santa. We also attended midnight mass each year, and my brother puked EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.

This Christmas, I really want to start creating those memories for my girls (minus the puking). Last night, Tim and I joined the roster of Santa’s elves and spent an enormous amount of time putting together two presents for the girls. One of which is way more dangerous-looking than I expected and could have only come from Santa (no parent in their right mind would get a toddler a gift that dangerous).thunderdome

We’ve been tired and cranky this week because we had a couple of last-minute orders of jars and cupcakes (a good problem to have) and P got really sick. An hour-long appointment and three prescriptions later, we have a schedule for all of the medicines they put that poor girl on. This has been wearing our patience for each other thin, because we are worried about her and tired. We don’t deal well with tired.

So back to Christmas. We both agree we want to make Christmas special for our girls, so we sucked it up and began cleaning and moving furniture and screwing a million little parts with an allen wrench so that our girls will have that Christmas wonder. We’ve truly become parents. And somewhere in between the millionth J-6 piece and part B, we just looked at each other and smiled, because we’re parents–we get to do this nowIt’s an amazing and awesome responsibility to put that wonder in a child’s eyes and to create magic and a lifetime of memories. It was worth every extra hour we stayed up. Waking up to that Christmas wonder, made Christmas the best holiday of my childhood, and I want the same for my girls, and someday this new baby.  

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Euphoria and Doubt

After meeting with the attorney, I felt confident that we could pull everything together to make the process happen. I had contacted three agencies for possible home studies and talked to three counselors for the birth mother as well. I just needed to finalize who we were going to work with. Giddiness hit. It was beginning to sink in that we were going to have a baby!

I was so excited. I have always had three children as my ideal number in the back of my mind. And, even after our girls were born, I found that I still wanted a third. It’s hard to explain that ache, that feeling that your family isn’t quite complete. (But my husband is really hoping it fades after this third child!)

Now that we were both getting excited and giddy, it was time to break the news to friends and family. This was met with mixed reactions. Some were over-the-moon for us with excitement. Others asked more practical questions, such as, “Are you sure you can handle three children under two?” “What if she changes her mind?” “Have you thought this through?”

Our giddiness began to fade in contemplation and doubt crept in. I began to wonder if we had talked through all the angles of this adoption. We’ve done nothing but talk about it since the option was offered to us, but were we 100% sure? The girls will be 19 months old when this baby is born. If we were going to change our minds, the time to make that decision was now.

I decided it was time to consult the experts. I belong to a national twin mommy page and many of them have other children. I posted a question about us being offered the opportunity to adopt and asking if anyone else had twins and another child that close in age. The response I received was overwhelming. So many ladies chimed in to say it was possible. There were practical tips and thoughts as well. Another mommy of twins was given a similar opportunity and had decided the timing wasn’t right and she gave me the reasons they considered. I began to realize there really is no ideal age gap between children. The challenges are different but equal when you decide to bring one more child into the mix regardless of the timing.

But the benefits are great! One of the things I loved about growing up was the fact that I came from a large family. I’ve always loved having a ton of siblings and us being close in age. I remember the fights, but the fun times far outweighed the fights we had.

One comment from a twin mom struck me the most: “I think your decision is already made.”

I soon as I read that, I knew it was true. As we go through this process, we will have moments of doubt, but our decision was made the instant we both received that text and something inside cried out “YES!” There will be highs and lows during this process, but we will figure it all out.

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