Foster Mama

One of the questions that I find myself asking more and more is, “Will I be a good mama?” I have been an excellent daycare teacher with the most difficult children’s parents saying, “How do you do that?!?!” I am a pretty awesome babysitter, hardly ever putting an infant down, and making sure that children of all ages have age appropriate ideas and activities to do and that the TV remains OFF! I treat all the kids as if they are my own and make sure that they feel loved, respected, safe, attended, and listened to. But what about my own kids?
Will I be as great a caretaker to my own kids when I can’t send them home at the end of the day and have a few hours to decompress before I do it all over again tomorrow? Will I be able to exercise the same amount of patience with my own babies as I do with a complete strangers? Where is my guarantee that after all of the craziness and turmoil that I experienced in my life, I wont emotionally scar my children with my indecisive, free spirit, “who cares what happens next as long as we’re alive” mentality? There are a lot of things that are still so incredibly unclear. So many things that are not guaranteed.
We have been on this pregnancy journey for about 17 months, but even before that, WAY before that, Callie and I had discussed what was most important to us and for the future of our relationship. One of the things that came up was the idea of adopting or fostering to adopt. We always knew that our hearts were big enough for more than 1 child. Heck, we knew it was big enough for a preschool sized room! Bring on the babies, we thought. 5 kids?!?! Make that 10! Our own soccer team to take to the 2026 World Cup hosted right in our own backyard! Why not, right? We had talked about it several times since then, and even after our initial consultation with the fertility specialist, we still agreed that it was something very important to us and that we wanted to do regardless. And lo and behold, we take my niece to a children’s carnival, and there right in front of us, about a week after another “foster/adoption” conversation (despite fertility consultation), a booth in support of National Foster Month! How could we not sign up and get more information?! How could we possibly pass the booth by when it was so very loudly screaming, “SAMMIE!!! CALLIE!!! COME HERE!!! WE NEED YOU!!!” So we did! Obviously! And we signed up that very same day for MAPP classes (a 10 week course in learning to become foster parents).
What were we thinking!?!?! We had Dr.’s appointments twice a week, I had a new job with an inconsistent schedule, Callie had a new boss who was pulling rank and switching schedules left and right, and the only class that suited us was a Saturday morning. Did we really want to get into this? Now? On our one day off together a week? No day but today they say, and we are so glad we decided to do it. We met some really amazing like-minded people who we still stay in touch with and hang out with pretty frequently, and we learned a lot of things about ourselves with through of the sensitivity training that they offered. It allowed us to open up more about some of the things in our past, and even opened our eyes to how different some of our parenting styles are. Ultimately, it was an amazing experience.
After a load of home visits with a slew of different people, 10 weeks of classes in an unair-conditioned room in the middle of June, some MORE home visits, and then almost 8 months of waiting, we got our first placement. A set of 3.6 year old twin girls. They were only with us for about 2 weeks, but they changed our lives. They made us realize how CRAZY the child welfare system is (but that’s for a WHOLE OTHER BLOG POST!!!), how in sync we are as parents, how supportive we are of each other when we needed some parental back-up, and how much love we truly have to give. Callie still cries about those girls. A few weeks later, we got the little lady that’s been living with us for the past 3 months.
When Mary came to live with us, she was truly a lost child. Having spent most of her life surrounded by her mom and mom’s friends (not being judgmental here but lets just say they aren’t the best 20-somethings to surround your 6 year old with), she truly had no clue how to socialize or play with other children. 3 months later she looks at me like I’m crazy when I ask if I can play with her and her friends on the playground. Apparently, its for “little kids and not big people” like me! She is truly a ray of sunshine in our lives. She’s feisty, smart, rambunctious, curious, and loves her “2 best foster moms ever!!!”. She’s learning to be independent and play by herself (mainly because she trusts us enough to know that she’ll be o.k. even if we aren’t with her every moment). She’s learning to share her emotions with us and allowing us to comfort her and show her our love and support (even when being ripped from her school without a goodbye from mom in FL, she never cried), but most importantly she’s learning that we love her, and that no matter what she does, right or wrong, we are going to be there from her.
Even with all of the things that we are able to teach her, I still struggle with the notion of having my own children and being able to do what’s best from them. I somehow still try to separate being a foster parent and being a “real” parent. Aren’t they one in the same? Isn’t being a foster parent being a REAL parent? But something resonated with me this weekend when we took some friends out for a day of boating and swimming. My friend T said, “You guys are awesome parents!” We are? Stated that simply and as nonchalantly as “Pass the Grey Poupon”, but you know what? We sure are! We are pretty awesome parents.
So back to where this blog started. Will I be a good mama? From the looks of it, with the support of our loving parents, our amazing friends (who might as well be our family), our doctors and our years of experience in the childcare industry (oh yeah and GOOGLE which I can hardly survive without), I think I might just do alright! We might just do alright! I might just be cut out for this “mom” business.

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Hungry AGAIN?!?!?!

8 weeks and 1 day pregnant.  So far, so good! Everything seems to be as it should, and our little world has yet to be disrupted.  Luckily for my gorgeous Callie, she isn’t very symptomatic for a twin pregnancy. She isn’t showing much fatigue ( she ALWAYS falls asleep at 9pm and wakes up at 1pm the following afternoon AND naps), there isn’t much breast tenderness (she’s been experiencing this symptom for the past year and a half since she’s been on fertility medications) and every day we thank our lucky stars no morning sickness! Everything so far has been great! It’s fair to say that she is having the perfect pregnancy, if there even is such a thing.  But boy, can she eat, or should I say, can WE eat!

Callie has always had quite the appetite.  Being 5’3″, 115 lbs for most of her adult life, I could never understand how she could pack away so much food and not gain a single pound! I have been around 200lbs (give or take 20+/-20) since I was 18 years old. I never even come CLOSE to eating as much as Callie does. No, seriously, let me explain.  Not even 30 minutes after having had a huge meal I hear her utter from somewhere in the front of our 2 bedroom apartment, as I hear the refrigerator door squeak open, “I want something, but I’m not sure what I want! Ugh!”  She proceeds to come into the living room with chips, a pickle, a cup of hot chocolate with a huge dollop of Fluff, possibly a piece of chicken cutlet left over from dinner, and lets not forget the always readily available glass of water.  This was all BEFORE she got pregnant!

It’s never been an issue to me that she has such a huge appetite, and honestly, even less so now that she is feeding my 2 apparently very hungry babies.  What the issue is here is that every time she eats, I have been eating! This has to be some type of phenomenon!  I remember when my younger sister was pregnant, her fiance gained about 30lbs. during her pregnancy.  We made our little jokes about him, you know, the ones where you say “I don’t know which one of you looks more pregnant” or “How many months are you?” or even go to the extreme of rubbing his belly saying, “Tia (aunt is Spanish) is here!”.  Am I going to be that person?

I already feel like I can’t close my pants! My button down work shirts look like they are bursting at the seams when I sit at my desk (and sorta make me look like a cased sausage). Maybe its the anxiety. Maybe its the fear of being an inadequate parent.  What if my babies aren’t as attached to me, their mama, as they are their Mommy because I didn’t actually give birth to them?  What if the swing shift at work (3 days 5:30am-1:30pm and 2nights 9pm-5am which already make me extra cranky because of lack of sleep) makes me emotionally unavailable? And lets not even get started on the drama of trying to plan a wedding on a really (really, really, really) tight budget and a short amount of time (Thanks NY state for not allowing 2 women who spent TONS of money and planned these babies for years to not put the non-belly mama’s name on the birth certificate without being married)! Even as I write this post I’m eating Sour Patch Watermelons, pork rinds, and a Vanilla Coke with chocolate chip cookies on deck, thinking about what I can have for breakfast when I get home at 5:30am, and why I didn’t bring a Cup-O-Noodles, leftovers, a sandwich or something more substantial and filling than sour watermelons. Something tells me I’ll be gaining the average 37-54lbs with the twins. Another one of the joys of soon-to-be mamahood!

2 YOU SAY?!?!?!

 Woke up last Friday morning, got our 6-year-old ready for school, dropped her off, and we head out for our appointment at our fertility specialist.  Our first sonogram! How exciting!  We were geeked and couldn’t wait to see our baby.  I mean, let’s be real! We knew it would only be a tiny little black speck in her uterus, but it was OUR tiny little black speck that we have been waiting to create for months!
We get to the Dr. and make small talk in the waiting area. We are so excited we can hardly contain ourselves, but we’re trying our best to be sympathetic to the other couples in the waiting area that may not be as lucky as we are. We’ve been in that position, and our positive attitudes, pregnant with anticipation (no pun intended) are probably the last thing these women need. We speak in hushed voices trying not to let go of our little secret yet.
Our names are called. I spring to my feet, thanks to the 3 cups of coffee I’ve had in the past hour, and do my proud “I’m gonna be a Mama” strut, protecting my lady and my unborn child from whatever dangers could present themselves in the 10 foot walk from chair to exam room. I hold the door and in we go. We are about to see our little Poppy Seed.
The nurse turns out the light and my eyes focus instantly on that black and white screen that only trained professional eyes can understand. I have no idea what I’m looking at, but as soon as the Dr. says, “There’s your baby!” I damn near lost it! My heart started racing, my palms started sweating, and I felt this surge of indescribable love for my Callie, laying there completely exposed, having been through so much just so we can have this incredible moment. I kiss her. I kiss her and I hold her hand and I admire her. I turn my eyes away from the screen for a second so we can lock eyes and then I hear him say it. I hear him say, “And there is the other one!”
THE OTHER ONE!?!?! OMG! The other one! There are 2!?!? There are totally 2! Suddenly, my ears started ringing, my head felt like all the blood in my body rushed to it, and then in a flash…Euphoria. 2 babies. 2 gloriously chubby babies with 20 fingers for hand holding, 20 toes for tickling, 4 cheeks to kiss, 2 bellies for loud raspberries, 4 knees to kiss boo-boos, 4 eyes to show the wonders of this amazing world to. Oh man! It’s 2! Our TWO Poppy Seeds growing in Mommy’s belly. This adventure is going to be even more awesome than we anticipated. 2 little babies…

And So It Begins…

I never thought that I would be blogging, but so it begins! Life for me has begun to take some really interesting turns. Let me fill you in very quickly on who I am and what has been going on in my life so far. I’m 30 years old (15 days shy of 31), and I am engaged to a beautiful, loving, kind, generous, hilarious, and stong woman (for all intents and purposes, we’ll call her Callie). We started dating the summer of 2010, and since then, we’ve been inseparable. Our families love each other, and they love us, separate and together, and that was all we needed before we decided to take our relationship to the next level. We decided to……………wait for it …………………. Start a family!!!! We decided that since Callie is older, she would carry first, but this was all hypothetical, until january 2013. That began our crazy 16 month journey. Our emotional rollercoaster, 2 week cycle living, anonymous donor searching, Dr. visit infested, I cant believe this is happening, is IVF our last option, OMG THIS IS FINALLY HAPPENING 16 month journey!

After 7 failed IUI’s with our reproductive endocrinologist, 2 months off for a second opinion, a crapload of tests which were all inconclusive, 5 failed artificial inseminations at home (mind you all out of pocket), I had a battle trying to communicate with my insurance company to get my domestic partner insured so she can qualify for IVF treatments. My new job has a 6 month qualification period before you can get your partner insured, so we played the waiting game and finally got approved. For $50,000 worth of infertility treatments!!!!!! That even includes egg freezing, travel expenses, and any and all medications! Pretty sweet deal, and well worth the wait! Well, sorta. So after 2 more months of birth control pills, hormone injections, visits to the fertility doctor every other day for blood work and hormone levels, a painful egg retrieval for my honey, and LOADS of anxiety for me, I’m happy to say, WE ARE PREGNANT!!!!! And on our first try of IVF (with 5 frozen embryos left for my future babies)!

So now, the REAL journey begins. The never ending appointments, the nerves, the being strong for Callie, heartbeats & sonograms, prepping for baby or babies, who knows (HcG levels are really high and they DID implant 2 embryos) and lets not forget that we are pretty awesome foster parents to a 6 year old, kick ass little girl. Life surely has taken some really interesting turns, but we are buckled in and ready to go. Hello motherhood. We’re ready for you…

~Non-Belly Mamá