Cancer Ever After

Musings on Infertility, Adoption, Cancer and Widowhood.


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


3 a.m. Wake Up Call

The alarm went off at 3:30 in the morning, and all I could do was groan. Two or three hours of sleep wasn’t nearly enough. Yet, I forced myself to get out of bed and stumble to the shower in the hopes of waking up fully. I groggily suggested Tim go sleep on the couch so that one of us could get a little extra rest. This early morning wake-up call didn’t need to kill us both, but it was a necessary evil.

The original plan had been for me to drive to visit our birth mother on Thursday night and then take her to her doctor visit, go grocery shopping and then have a nice, relaxing lunch with her. It would be a short visit compared to the 8 hours of driving to go there and back, but it would help us continue to build on our relationship. For Baby H, we need to solidify that relationship so that we are truly comfortable and prepared when he is born.

That’s when all hell broke loose. When I picked up the girls they were acting a little clingy and fussy, but no alarms were raised. Tim and I juggled spending quality time with them and packing for my visit with our birth mother and for our upcoming rare weekend alone. We frantically packed, we juggled fussy girls, and we got them ready for bed. Tim was going to handle bedtime solo, so I headed out the door.

#&$*! I couldn’t find the gift card I had bought for our birth mother. I turned the car around and called Tim. That’s when the other shoe dropped: “Both girls started puking as soon as you left. They are crying and haven’t eaten a bite of dinner.”

I was so glad that I had already turned around. I drove home immediately and helped Tim manage the girls, rocking and comforting them. Poor Phoebe couldn’t understand why she kept throwing up and was scared of the bowl I placed in front of her. Finally, she was too exhausted to fight it any longer and fell asleep. Tim and I strategized in hushed whispers outside their door. I could go find the card and then try to drive down and arrive after midnight, or I could wake up and leave at 3:30 a.m. to make it there on time. The weekend alone was definitely canceled.

Neither one of us knew how serious this illness could be for the girls, so we opted for the early morning wake-up. The girls woke up four more times before I left, and we juggled toddlers and changed sheets, jammies, and diapers. I rocked and I comforted, trying to make sure my babies got a little sleep. As for Tim and me, I’m not sure we got much of any.

3:30 a.m. The alarm went off. It was time to get ready and head out the door.

As you can probably tell, the adoption and fundraising process are beginning to take their toll. And I have a responsibility to all of my children. If I’ve learned nothing else from infertility, I have learned that parenting is a privilege, not a right. I am privileged to have two beautiful girls and I will be honored if someday soon I have a son to join them.

Lately, I have been focused on one child’s needs over the needs of the others. I have no doubt that this will continue to be a challenge over the years as we have three children with different needs clamoring for our attention. It’s a battle that we are signing up to fight every day. I have to ask myself the hard questions as I weigh the needs of each. When I arranged to go back to visit our birth mom, I had no idea what life would throw at us that day. I’m glad I stayed, and it was worth the grueling 14-hour trip to make sure that I was there as they woke up sick in the middle of the night. It was worth the brutal trip back as I cracked the windows and talked with friends to stay awake and be a safe driver on the road, so that I could be back before dinner and bedtime.

We’ve reached a crossroads. That 3 a.m. wake-up call was a wake-up in more ways than one. We have to decide what our limit is. We only have one more big fundraiser in us. We need to be fully committed to building the relationship with our birth mom and with her family so that Baby H has the best upbringing possible. That takes time and travel. We need to be able to continue to focus on our girls and weigh their needs as we go through this process.

It’s time to ask for more help. We can’t make this last fundraiser the success it needs to be on our own. We need to see if we can get friends and family to help us sell just one or two, or perhaps five, tickets to friends of theirs. And we need to admit that we just might not reach our goal. Reaching our fundraising goal will mean nothing if we haven’t given this adoption the time and attention it needs.

We are a large part of the success of this adoption. We need time to get the nursery ready and get ourselves ready to have a third child. We need to start preparing our girls. They don’t fully understand yet, but there are things we can do to make the addition of another child easier on them. Which in turn will make bringing Baby H into the fold much easier on him and us.

We need to continue to focus on strengthening the relationship with our birth mother. It’s getting tougher for her as the time draws nearer. It’s becoming real and she needs more support. We’re beginning to have some tough conversations about how the adoption will continue to work throughout the years and how the hand-off will go.

In other words, we’re awake.


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This Moment

Do you ever have one of those moments you want to freeze in time forever? Seeing my husband walk down the aisle on our wedding day is one. (Although I’d love to fast-forward through the part where I couldn’t say my vows because I was crying so hard.) Life is full of those moments when you know something monumental is occurring and you want to take that moment, freeze it in your mind and hug it close to you for a lifetime.

The moment I heard both of my girls cry in the delivery room, and I knew, just knew when I heard those cries that everything was going to be okay. That my girls would make it. I was a ball of fear until I heard those cries, and then I wept as  I got to hold them briefly before they were whisked off to the NICU.  My photo stream currently holds 1,821 pictures of the girls in which I’ve tried to capture the wonder that occurred in that specific moment.

The hours of 5-8 have become my favorite times of day, both morning and night. And then there are the weekends. Oh, how I love the weekends. There are so many times when I find myself thinking, “This moment is what life is all about.” The first hug, the first time H blew me a kiss, the first-time P  said “mama.” The first step, the second step and every time they smile and then turn and run down the hallway toward me, or even from me.  I’m constantly thinking “This moment. This is the best moment of my life.” There is playing, learning,  hugs and cuddles.  This is the life that I waited on, wished for and worked so hard to achieve.

Even those strange, right-of-passage parenting firsts are moments I want to freeze in time: the first floater during bath time (double the fun with twins!), the first full-body vomit, the first bathtub toot and ensuing giggle-fest. The first tantrum.  Those times that it’s so hard to be a good parent and not laugh at the terrible thing your child is doing, “No, it’s not okay to cover the dog in food”. For a long time I felt like life was on hold and I was stuck in limbo and now I feel like it is moving too fast. I want to freeze and savor every moment.

Those moments happen at even the worst times. A crying toddler at 3 a.m., who won’t go back to sleep and needs comforting. As exhausted as I am, I sit there in the dark, feeling that little body snuggled against me and think, “This moment–right here–I want this moment to last forever.” Even with a lifetime with my girls, and soon our son, we’ll never get enough of those moments.  Because these moments pass so quickly -I can’t freeze time.  For now, I can simply savor each moment I have. I can put down my phone, turn off the tv and simply be there in the moment with them.

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Thank you infertility

If you had told me five, three or even one year ago that someday I would be thankful for my infertility, I’m pretty sure I would have clawed your eyes out. That, or punched you in the junk.

But I am.

I think this is probably true for anyone who experiences a significant challenge in their life or a health scare. So thank you, infertility:

  • For making me a more patient parent. After years of waiting and 141 days of bed rest, what’s a tantrum? My employer has also noticed the improvement!
  • For helping me not sweat the small stuff. With so much that has been out of our control over the last several years, we’ve learned to let small stuff ride.
  • For showing me who will stand by our side. I’ve been so lucky in my support through our journey.
  • For giving me strength I didn’t know I was capable of. After my girls were born, I went to the mat negotiating for a new job. I wouldn’t have done that previously.
  • For showing me what my priorities are. Because of the wait to get our girls, I insisted on a long maternity leave. And it was long enough for me to know that I am happiest as a working mother. Part of me will always want to stay home, but I am content in my choice. However, even though I want to have a career, my girls are my priority.
  • For making me infamous. To this day, I’m pretty sure that everyone thinks my hubby and I had a quickie in the bathroom at a wedding. We only wish it were that glamorous–we were giving me progesterone injections in the hope that my body would sustain the pregnancy.
  • For forcing us to focus on our finances. Prior to infertility, we were your typical Americans: charging on cards, tons of student loans. The process of paying for treatments and getting qualified for loans helped us focus on what really mattered when it came to our money. Discipline is easy when your priorities are focused.
  • And most of all, thank you for bringing us two (soon to be three!) wonderful children. Had the journey been any different, it wouldn’t be these specific children and we know we are blessed.
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