Foster Mama – Part 2

Being a foster parent is broken up into 2 parts:
1)The Easy part
2)The Hard part

The Easy Part – Callie and I have worked in childcare for a ridiculously lengthy amount of time.  She’s been the Director for a childcare center for about 13 years, and I have worked as a preschool teacher on and off for over 10 years.  Loving the kids, caring for them, teaching them right from wrong, nurturing them, helping build a positive self image and self worth, those things  come effortlessly.  We figured fostering would be similar.   We were made to have children, to care for these tiny humans.  Choosing to foster (foster to adopt actually) was something we both knew was in the cards for our family and something we both felt strongly about.  In the past 6 months we have had 2 placements.  Our first was a set of 3.6 year old twin girls. We loved them.  From day one, we loved them.  Our hearts took them in so quickly.  We held them at night when they cried for us.  We potty trained them and made them feel secure enough to get rid of their pacifiers. We sang songs in the car on the way to daycare.  They called us mom.  They loved us too.  Now we have Mary.  She’s our spunky, rambunctious, sassy, quick learning, very expressive 6 and a half year old.  She came to us and didn’t know how to read, had horrible manners, and lots of trust and control issues.  And again, We loved her, From day one.  4 months later, she’s reading everything her eyes come in contact with (even the super long hard words on the ingredients on the cereal box), she’s drawing pictures of rainbows and butterflies instead of dying flowers and crying and rainy clouds.  We rub her back when she’s tired, we put band-aids on boo-boo’s and kiss them better, we give her foot massages while she eats ice cream and the 3 of us cuddle on the couch for Friday Movie Nights.  We read bedtime stories with different voices for every character.  We teach her to fish and to say please and thank you. To wash her hands after potty and to say her prayers for all things good.  Hugs and kisses, hand holding, Loving them, that’s always the easy part.

The Hard Part – When we decided to become foster parents we had to take a 10 week course that trains you for the challenging but rewarding experience that is fostering.  You go to a 3 hour class once a week and you touch upon topics like child abuse, gains and loses, managing behaviors, teamwork and partnership with the birth family, and a whole slew of other things. Being well aware of how to handle many of these situations (through many years of mandated training with our childcare jobs), we felt like this class would be sort of boring and redundant.  We were pleasantly surprised when we left there with a better understanding of how it all worked, and how many different circumstances lead up to children being removed from their homes and entering the “system”. You never really stop to think that maybe a dad lost his job and became very depressed. That he could have gone out with some friends for a few drinks and ended up with a DUI and mom had to post bail but spent all their bill money.  That their 9 year old was hounding them because they promised to take her and 2 friends to the amusement park and now cant afford it.  That they went to the ER for 2 separate incidents in a 3 week period because first mom lost it and ran out of the house as their 2 year daughter chases her, tumbling down the stairs and breaking her collar bone and a week and a half later dad pops the 9 year old in her mouth for being fresh about that damn birthday party and she pulls back and splits her head open on a wall corner (true story). Sometimes, they aren’t horrible parents, just a product of circumstance.  Taking all of this into consideration, you remember that fostering is only temporary, and our main goal is to support the families and the children and do our best to reunify them. We were ok with that.  We were prepared for that.  But after you’ve nursed all those boo-boo’s, dried hundreds of tears, cuddled and loved them when they lost everything they had and you became their new everything, you look at it differently.  You know that they aren’t  yours and that usually (sadly more often then not) they go back to the places that they came from, whether they are half way decent of hardly livable. They go back.  They leave you and take a piece of your heart with them.  You find a left over sock under the bed, or it falls out of your shirt sleeve where it’s been living since your last load of laundry.  You have to let go, and letting go is the hard part.

Mary has been with us since March 28th, 2014.  In the short time that she has been with us she has learned so much from us, but we have learned so much more from her.  We have learned to communicate effectively not only with Mary but with each other.  We try to model appropriate behavior and try our hardest to show her the proper and effective way to communicate your emotions.  We use “feeling” words, like “I’m feeling very sad today” and provide explanations for those emotions, “because someone at work hurt my feelings”.  We try not to raise our voices.  We have sit down dinners every night AT THE TABLE and not in front of the TV.  We try and limit the use of electronics when we are doing family things.   She’s taught us to see the extraordinary in the every day.  Catching fire flies and looking for starfish has never been so fun.  We have more open and honest conversations, and we ask more intimate questions.  We used to ask, “How was your day?” but now the questions are more along the lines of, “So did you laugh till your belly hurt today?” or “Did someone say something that made you sad today?” or “Did you do something today that made you feel good about yourself?”  These are the real questions worth asking.

Mary and her mom have a great relationship.  We know most of the details of the placement, but aren’t really sure what mom’s consequences are for her behavior.  They don’t really give us much info on moms progress.  They did let us know though, that mom put in for an interstate transfer to have Mary moved to an aunt’s house (who she has only seen a handful of times in her life) in CT.  When we spoke to Mary about it and asked her how she felt, she said, “My heart is confused.  I love you guys and I love the babies, but I love my mom and my family too”. My heart is confused…that’s the kind of stuff we like to hear.  We know that so far, in the short amount of time that she has been with us, we have instilled enough confidence, courage, and self worth that she will always do her best to voice what she is feeling and how she is doing.  They say  it can take anywhere from 2-6 months for the transfer to go through, and it usually does.  We asked the case-worker if there is anything we can do to advocate for her.  We believe that Mary going back with her mom is the best option for her.  Her mother isn’t a horrible person.  She isn’t even a bad mother! She’s just someone who made some mistakes and deserves a second chance, provided she comply with everything she was told to do. We aren’t those people that believe sabotaging a reunion could mean an adoption for us.  It’s never been about us. It’s always been about the child, but transitioning her to another home is crazy! She’s adjusted so well and made so much progress socially, academically, and emotionally that taking her away would just create more attachment and abandonment issues and probably send her into a place similar to the one she was in when she came home to us. Mom really likes us, a lot actually, but we aren’t family and that’s where her child belongs (even if it will tear her apart).  Callie and I have been having dreams that they are gonna remove her from our home, and it’s terrifying.  We’re feeling like this day is coming soon, and we’ll have to say our “See you later Coo-Coo”‘s and our “Remember to wash your hands cuz you have all those yucky germs”.  For now, we’ll just keep loving her and teaching her and helping her create some of the best memories she’ll ever have.  The easy part is over, but the inevitable hard part still awaits.

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Social Media

It’s been torture not posting on social media about this pregnancy. We’ve been waiting so long for this to happen and want to shout it from the mountain tops (I’ll literally be doing that next weekend) and share it with the world! Well, today was the day! Here ya go Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flikr, WordPress, and Google+!

You’re welcome World Wide Web…ur welcome…

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Oh, and our official 12 week photo…

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Everything seems to be going ok…

WARNING:  Ridiculously random post for things that have happened in the past 2 days, and photo overload! My apologies.

Today marks 12 weeks.  It is the last week in our first trimester, and FINALLY we get to spill the beans! Not that we haven’t told everyone that is close to us (immediate family, closest friends who might as well be family, and most of our co-workers) but finally being able to post pictures and little blurbs about  Pumpkin (Baby A), Sweet Pea (Baby B), and my gorgeous Callie on all my social media sites is ridiculously exciting to me.  Am I the only one that is really excited to show the world what we have been up to? They are probably wondering why we haven’t really attended any social gathers and have stayed away from any invitations including the words “Bar”, “Pub”, “Game Night”, “Pool Party” or “Karaoke”. It’s been really difficult to not show our weekly chalkboard update, cute little sonogram pics, or how ridiculously adorable Callie looks in the cute dresses I bought her for the remainder of the summer.

I can’t even believe how much her belly has grown in the past 2 days!  This morning, she noticed that her bellybutton was protruding just a little bit and was able to tuck it back in.  This afternoon, changing into her fishing clothes, she noticed that it was out again, but when she tried to push it back in, it wouldn’t stay. We regret not having started to take measurements earlier.

The daily morning picture I get at work

The daily morning picture I get at work

Fishing at sunset, one of our favorite things

Fishing at sunset…one of our favorite things

We’ve been very patient in waiting to find out the gender of our little ones.  Not that I ever really wanted to know much anyway but since it’s 2 and double the planning, sure! Why not?! We’ve refrained from buying anything (2 of everything remember?) until we know what we’re having but there are 2 things I couldn’t resist! I’m on baby overload, and I can’t control myself!!! I ordered THESE GIANTS!!!! and they finally came in! Go ahead and judge me, but my family bleeds blue!!! As long as I can remember, I’ve been excited about Sundays with my kids and extended family, watching games and talking crap.  It’s gonna be awesome!! I went to Marshall’s to look for a gift to surprise Callie with, I saw these and of course i had to have them (the only ones that I could find that weren’t gender specific)!

Little snuggle buddies (lovies) or as we called our security blankets growing up, "tita's"

Little snuggle buddies (lovies) or as we called our security blankets growing up, “tita’s”

And finally, appointment this afternoon with our Perinatologist.  Even though so far this pregnancy has gone off without a hitch (minus our little scare a few weeks ago), when you talk about down’s syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities, it’s still pretty scary stuff.  We’ve come to the realization that it’s a really personal decision to make if the results of these tests show anything less than “normal”, but we always knew that we would love our children no matter what.  We will  use our resources, ask for help, and care for them as best we can.  Terminating a pregnancy wasn’t an option for us unless of course our children would be suffering. But thankfully, it looks like everything is just fine! 1 in 7400+ chance of  Down’s, and my lady is sporting the baby making insides of an early 20yr old! Our sonographer was AMAZING!! She took her time with us and worked really hard to get great pictures, and she printed about 20 pics for us.  Pumpkin even gave her moms a little wave! Our little cuties are growing as they should and their little profiles make my heart melt.

They have my nose (i think)

They have my nose (at least we think so from these pics)

Bunk beds! Sweet Pea up top and Pumpkin down below

Bunk beds! Sweet Pea up top and Pumpkin down below

These aren't that great, but how can you resist not saying "awwww" like 1000 times in 10 seconds!?!

These aren’t that great, but how can you resist not saying “awwww” like 1000 times in 10 seconds!?!

"Hi" back atcha kiddo!

“Hi” back atcha kiddo!

Welcome Back Lasciviousness! Welcome Back!

It’s fair to say that after almost a year and a half of TTC, hormones that made us BOTH crazy, Dr.’s appointments every other day, and my Callie just not feeling sexy and much like herself, WE ARE BACK IN ACTION! I repeat: WE ARE BACK IN ACTION! Not that we have every really been much of a sexual couple, but when it was time to get busy, we sure did! These past couple of months especially, have been TORTURE! Torture I tell you!!!  Wanting to touch and caress every inch of Callie’s body and her not wanting much to deal with that, has been quite difficult.  Even though she wasn’t pregnant at the time, the hormones were changing her body.  She felt fat and not very attractive.  Her weight was fluctuating and she was finding it hard to find things to wear that made her feel sexy.  Hormones and stress were taking a toll on her skin and hair. She was overtired.  She was anxious, nervous, and awaiting good news that seemed to never come.  I wanted to reassure her that I saw her no differently and that she was still my beautiful Babeski (an affectionate term we made up and have convinced ourselves means “little piggy” in German which we actually found out is Saumensch which we occasionally call each other) but with things going on and her mind not being in the right place, it was difficult for her to let herself go and allow us to be. She was ok with it being like that for a while. I, on the other hand, damn near lost my sh*t recently.

In my own selfish way, I started feeling unattractive, fat, less than desirable, and like my “skills” weren’t up to par.  “Am I a crappy lovemaker?” “Tell me what you want me to change!” “How long have you hated having sex with me?” “WHO ELSE ARE YOU F*CKING!?!?!?!?!  All of these things, of course, were just me being ridiculous and needing to feel connected to my honey.  Our schedules were on opposites, all these appointments, adjustments to our new school age foster daughters schedule with tutoring and therapy and visits with her mom, and just the madness of life was leaving us disconnected.  I was looking for something that would bring us back together.

Well, Friday, we both decided to take the day off and “reconnect”, and boy did we ever! We reconnected alright! On the couch, in the shower, in the bedroom, on the boat, and last night we did a little reconnecting after we put the kiddo to bed.  Maybe it’s all her pregnancy hormones or maybe my hormones with all this inducing lactation stuff, but finally, we are back! And being back feels good!

 

Week 11

The end of the first trimester is approaching a little too quickly.  We’ve been waiting so long to embark on this journey and now it feels like it’s all moving so fast.  Week 11 already!  Little limes in there! Well, to me they are my Sweet Pea (tiny little baby A about 3 days behind) and Pumpkin (baby B who’s bigger and measuring 2 days ahead).  I’m totally convinced that it’s one boy and one girl, but it could just be wishful thinking.

It’s pretty awesome that Callie has been feeling fantastic! After all the online reading (curse you Google!) it seems that the amount of hormones coursing through her body should have her face permanently adhered to the bowl, but to be totally honest, she’s been doing remarkably well.  Her skin is immaculate, her aura is radiating, and I don’t think I’ll get that “pregnancy smile” of hers out of my head for the rest of my life.  She is simply smiling all the time for no reason.  We’ll be eating dinner and she’ll turn to me, look me in the eyes, shrug her shoulders and smile.  I now know it’s possible to love 3 people with every ounce of your heart at the same time. The intensity with which I love this women is just ::sigh:: indescribable.

We met our OB who is AMAZING! Dr. W  has to be, hands down, one of the coolest doctors ever!  I knew he would be after I read his reviews on Healthgrades and Vitals.com.  Everyone seems to be giving him 4 & 5 stars, except for one women who would have given him a BF 0 had it been an option.  Apparently she was upset because Dr. W circumcised her son without anesthesia after she had asked him repeatedly.  Then he made a comment, and I quote, ” He said my son’s penis was large like my husband’s penis. Dr. W complained of the rusty blades he had to use.”  When I read this, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.  This lady OBVIOUSLY has no sense of humor.  When Callie got home and I shared it with her, she thought it was pretty damn hilarious.  We knew he was a kind of jokey-jokey guy and completely inappropriate, which we LOVE! After reading the other reviews, we knew this was the Dr for us.  So after a couple of jokes, sharing with us that his wife used the same infertility clinic we used to conceive their 3 children (a set of 12 year old twins and a 16 year old who is currently a camp counselor at a camp in the Adirondacks), and a ton of unnecessary cursing, we got to see our cute little babies and confirm that everything was still going okay after our Friday night ER scare. It was the first time they actually looked like tiny humans! They were wiggling around and moving like crazy.  Pumpkin looked like he/she had just woken from a nap and stretched it’s little arms and legs out and started rubbing it’s eyes.  It was beyond adorable! My little babies are getting big in there and my Callie is getting big out here! Life is pretty awesome right now. Week 11, nice to see ya…

My little Pumpkin rubbing her eyes

My little Pumpkin rubbing her eyes

Callie in her new maternity dress looking as gorgeous as alway

Callie in her new maternity dress looking as gorgeous as always

First come love, then comes marri…wait?!

Callie and I started dating exclusively September 22nd, 2010.  Even before that, it’s fair to say that we were only dating each other although I had a girlfriend that moved from NY to FL right as our relationship was starting and I hadn’t seen her and had barely spoken to her in 3+ months.  It was a whirlwind kind of thing that involved a lot of fishing, rainy afternoons, and late night phone conversations in hushed whispers.  I was living back with the Parental Unit for about a year after 2 months in a psychiatric ward recovering from earth shattering depression after the dissolution of an almost 5 year Domestic Partnership. Borderline Personality disorder is a b*tch tho, ain’t it? Needless to say, they weren’t any less strict than when I was growing up.  Even the keystrokes on my laptop at 1am with my parents behind their closed door and me behind mine, across the hall, on the OPPOSITE side from the door, was enough to send my mom into a tizzy! (SB: My mom is AMAZING, just don’t eff with her sleep!)

Unlike any other relationship I had been in, we worked out the kinks early on.  We had no qualms about discussing what we were and weren’t okay with, what we could and couldn’t deal with, pet peeves, and relationship no-no’s.  Neither of us was trying to waste anymore time in our lives.  Nearing 30 with several failed relationships under our belts, we wanted to make sure that we didn’t figure out 5 years down the line that it simply wasn’t going to work.

So fast forward 4 years later, December 2013, a couple of weeks before Christmas, I finally buy her a ring.  It may not be the most expensive or the biggest diamond, but my gut told me she’d love it.  I researched long and hard to make sure that it was something that she would love and that matched her personality and who she was. Not that she wouldn’t love it anyway because I think at that point she was convinced I would never ask! Everything had to be just right though.  Nothing on a whim.  Perfectly calculated.  That was the only way.  Callie is a storyteller, and there is nothing she loves more than a great love story, and I was going to give her one! I started it by talking to her father and asking for his blessing.  He hesitated for a second, but only because he was choking up and didn’t really know what to say. “As long as she’s happy, I’m happy.”

She’s always pressing me to buy Groupons for scavenger hunts, but I was just never really that interested.  So what better way to ask her to marry me than to give her the ultimate hunt? Got family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who wanted in to help (thank you Facebook events). Wrote out clues (in perfect rhymes may I add), distributed them as needed, and got everyone in position, but not before I had emailed the itinerary at least 10 times and confirmed with everyone that they knew EXACTLY what was to happen and they were not to be late, OR ELSE!!!

January 4th, 2014 – 11am start

Clue #1-Her parents place, where she was raised, and dad gave her the second clue sending her off with a hug and kiss.

Clue #2-Mani-Pedi’s with my sisters. She has only 1 brother and wanting sisters was something that’s never left her. And besides, you can’t show off a shiny new engagement ring with your nails looking a mess!

Clue #3-Bowling alley in my home town where we had our first real date.  We were non-dating for a while (read first paragraph).  She walks in to find a spread of all her favorite bowling alley snacks, and a few drinks with 2 of our closest friends.  After noshing on some good eats, they gave her…

Clue #4–  My parents came in with my brother and his boyfriend (yeah! 2 gay kids out of 5!) and drove her back to their house, where I grew up, where my sisters would do her hair and make up and a new dress and shoes were waiting for her.  After some shenanigans and lots of wine, my parents gave her clue number 5.

Clue #5– Off to the marina, where we had our first kiss.  Where we fished in the rain for hours and knew that the other was “the one”.  Where we played spades and she wiped the little beads of sweat of my nose which for some strange reason she thought were so cute.  Where she held my hand and kissed me.  Where our whole relationship lost the rockiness of the seas and finally reached the calms of the harbor.

On the car ride to the marina, my friends gave her my iPad which had a 12 minute iMovie of our whole relationship playing our soundtrack.  It’s the exact amount of time from highway to marina. She cried for 12 whole minutes, only to arrive, be blindfolded by my best friend Marco and walked to the beginning of the gangway. 30 or so people, in 2 straight lines holding sparklers, rose petals all the way down the gangway and all over the dock, and candles leading the way to me. I asked her to marry me in our favorite place surrounded by all of our favorite people. It was incredible! And freezing! Coldest day in NY the whole year! -4!

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Well thought out clues

Mani-Pedi, Bowling Alley snacks, wine with my family, movie of our love, and blindfolds for the reveal

Mani-Pedi, Bowling Alley snacks, wine with my family, movie of our love, and blindfolds for the reveal

Waiting for my love

Waiting for my love

She said YES!

She said YES!

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Our favorite place in the whole world

eng6 eng7Almost 8 months later we still aren’t married, but totally pregnant! This is not how I had envisioned this going at all! It’s all kind of backwards, isn’t it??? I never really thought about it much until I took Mary outside 2 days ago to play with her new sidewalk chalk.  I was busy opening some mail when out of the blue this lively little 6 year old turns and asks,

Mary: “Why aren’t you and Callie married? You’re having babies and you’re not married? Pssh! Weeeeiiiiirrrrdddd!”

Me: “We just didn’t have time kiddo.  We’ve been really busy getting Callie’s tummy ready for a baby, remember?”

Mary: “Yeah, but you’re ‘upposta be married first!”

Me: “Well, it’s a little different for us honey.  I can’t help Callie make a baby, so we have to go to the doctor and get all those medicines.  We needed money for the doctor, so we had to use the money we saved for our big wedding. Now we have to wait a little while before our we get married.”

Mary: “You don’t need monies! You just need to love each other! I’ll draw your marrying day!”

Callie and I getting married thanks to our 6 year old

Callie and I getting married thanks to our 6 year old

 

Somehow she put things into perspective.  We don’t need money or anything extravagant.  We don’t need flower arrangements, DJ’s, or wedding planners.  No hugely overpriced cakes or 100 hours of arguing about who can and can’t sit at what table. Maybe we’ll just go to our local government office and tie the knot there, with our family and closest friends by our sides, followed buy a small intimate dinner.  Maybe we’ll have something bigger when the babies get here.  Maybe we won’t. All I know is that we just need what we needed since day 1.

Trust. Hope. Faith. Passion. Understanding. Honesty. Love.

Above all things love, and that we have covered.

The Longest 2 hours 43 1/2 Minutes of my Life!

So I admit, the “1/2” might be a little exaggerated but the 2hr 43minutes are not! It was important to me to track it so I knew the exact time, the exact hour, the exact minute in case God forbid something happened.

“Sammie?”
“Sammie?!?!”
“SAMMIE!!!!!”
It didn’t sound regular. It sounded like something was wrong. We had just gotten in from dinner. I had just taken my shoes off and put my feet up on the coffee table, and Mary was changing into her pajamas getting ready for a busy day tomorrow. I got up quickly, half walked half ran to the bathroom, barged in and asked what was wrong.

Blank expression on her face, voice soft and frail, bloody tissue in hand, she answered, “I’m bleeding…” I looked into the bowl and there was a whole lot of blood.

Time stopped…everything went black for about 8 seconds. What do I do? Where do I go? How do I help? The clock starts ticking again. There is something wrong. Clearly, very wrong!

“MARY! Get your shoes on! We gotta go!!!”

I grabbed Callie’s hoodie, Mary’s ipad, our keys and push everyone out the door. “Are you crampy? Do u still feel like you’re bleeding? Do you need me to do anything? I’m nervous. I’m scared. What if something’s wrong?” We weren’t moving fast enough. It felt like I got stuck behind the slowest driver in NY state, caught every red light, and couldn’t find a parking spot. The hospital is 8 blocks away but it still took us 11 minutes to get there.

We check in at the hospital. 27 minutes before they called us in. “Change into this. Let’s set up an IV. Waiting on ultrasound tech. Someone will get you soon. Any cramping? Twins right? Could be the loss of just 1.” We were loosing it. Tears, prayers, phone calls. My in-laws came to get Mary because we felt like it was a bit much for a 6 year old.

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It was just Callie and I. Clock ticking. Silence. More tears. I was trying to comfort her. I was trying to say the right things but I was fumbling. 1 hour 40 minutes- they bring a wheel chair and we walk over to ultrasound. “Sorry miss. You have to wait outside.”

WHAT?!?! Wait out here? By myself with all these thoughts, and this clock ticking? I wouldn’t be in there with Callie to hold her hands and wipe tears if this all takes a turn for the worst. Hesitantly, I say ok. I check my phone. 1 hour 55 minutes. Hands in my pockets, I pace the waiting area. Bing Bang Theory plays on the TV. Not so funny today. It’s just me in there. I look at ultrasound pictures on my phone. I watch the video over and over again of the first time we heard their heart beats. I pray. I cry. I panic. I can hardly breathe. I don’t hear her crying, but I don’t hear her laughing either. 2 hours 18 minutes! What’s taking so long!?!?!

Finally, the door opens, Callie strolls out, picture in hand, smile on her face, “It’s the first time they get them both in one picture!”

Relief. I can breathe a full breath. I’m fine. She’s fine. Babies are fine. Everyone is ok and in one piece. I see 2 big heads, ying yangs, my little cuties together looking like they’re almost high-fiving each other. Callie likes to pull pranks on people and she says the twins totally beat her at her own game. I don’t know what to say. I hug her, kiss her, and kiss her belly (but not before a quick over the tummy pow-pow to each of them for scaring the living crap outta Mama!) We laugh. It is kinda funny. We head back to our room in the ER. Callie has her cervix checked, Blood work and urine results get back and everything checks out well. 2 hours and 43 (and a half) minutes later, they hand us our paperwork, and we are headed home.

We get home to find Nonna and Pop passed out on the couch. They are relieved to know that their first grandbabies are doing fine. We give hugs and kisses, say our see ya’s, wake Mary and let her know we’re home and that all is well. We get into bed emotionally drained and physically exhausted. I hold Callie a little closer tonight, rest my hand on her growing belly and say a silent prayer. It wasn’t until a while later that I noticed I didn’t hear the clock ticking anymore…

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Week 10

There is nothing more awesome to me than watching my beautiful Callie get excited about our weekly “chalkboard update”. Every Thursday for the past month I have been documenting the stages of fetal development via a $5.99 chalkboard I bought at the Home Depot. I then add everyone to a MASSIVE mass text (about 20 of our closest friends and both of our families which include my 5 brothers and sister, mom, dad, Callie’s parents, brother, and her 2 aunts) and watch the craziness ensue. Our phones go off about 100 times in 10 minutes with a ton of “awww’s”, “how cute!”, “she’s glowing!” and “love the weekly lessons”. It’s nice to have everyone in on our joy, being that they have all been on this long, trying, and exhausting journey with us and are just as invested in these kiddos as we are. They’ve helped us through the really dark times when we thought there would never be any light to alleviate the sadness. They’ve been amazing and we’re extremely lucky. Everyone calls them “our babies”. One of my best friends Nikki texts us all the time, “How are our babies doing?” It’s actually really cute, comforting, and nice to know that we have such an amazing support system and so many people on our side.

This week was no different. Callie got home from work, kicked off her shoes, pet the kitty, gave hugs and kisses to Mary and asked about her day at summer camp, and was ready for her weekly snapshot. Let me not forget to mention that she peed about 3 times while all of this was happening. We set up the board and took our picture. The whole time, as usual, I’m thinking to myself, “Look at her smiling! She’s so happy! She is so damn beautiful! How did I get so lucky?” My best girl, in all her pregnant, baby carrying splendor. All mine! I hope our twinfants look like her. Freckles, beautiful green eyes, red hair (this week they are actually developing peach-fuzz on their bodies). I hope they are musically inclined like I am (thanks to our months of pouring over Latino donor profiles and waiting for the perfect one with a musical background, and not having webbed fingers anymore this week helps that too!). 2 healthy babies is all we can ask for. Until they’re here, I’ll keep marveling at what Callie is doing to her body for us. I’ll continue to assure her that as her belly grows and grows so does my heart and love for her, and that I have never been happier in my life. 10 weeks of babies, but a lifetime of love already…

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To “B”-Feed Or Not To B-“Feed”

That is truly the question! Callie and I were talking about getting our kids on a schedule and how important it is, not just for us but for them as well. We both work less that favorable schedules, what with my 2 overnights, a school aged kiddo who is being shuttled back and forth, and Callie’s demanding job as the Director of a childcare learning center that is the Ivy league of daycare, scheduling and routine are our life! The subject of breastfeeding came up.

(DISCLAIMER: This will probably get a little too descriptive for some people, especially if you don’t get the whole breastfeeding thing, but even more so if you are my little brother or my male best friend Marco reading this.)

Callie has never really been into the whole nursing thing. It’s just not for her, and to each their own. It’s her body and her prerogative so whatever decision she makes, I support her but we both agree that it is important for the babies and their well-being. I, on the other hand, think it’s awesome, beautiful, bonding, and starting your kids lives off by giving them their breast (I mean best) chance. So after much conversation and a whole lot more research, we decided that “adoptive breastfeeding” was the course that we were going to take and a decision that was perfect for our family. I’m home 3 days out of the week and since the the babies would be with me, it was the perfect solution.

I didn’t think it was possible to not give birth and breastfeed. I thought that it was all based on hormones and that the milk came in once your baby was delivered. NOPE! Not true. It’s all based on your pituitary gland and how it produces Oxycontin. To put it simply, if you can trick your body into thinking that a baby needs milk to eat, it will produce milk. How do you trick your body you ask? Weeeellllll, let me tell you! It’s a process!

I have been using manual expression for about 3 weeks now to get the milk out, even though there technically is no milk being produced yet. After about 15 minutes of that, I use a breast pump for about 5-7 minutes. All of this is supposed to be done about every 2-3 hours for a minimum of 3 months JUST TO SEE A DROP because breast milk works mainly on supply and demand. I also do breast massage as often as I can, and take 2 different herbal supplements (3 pills 3x’s a day OF EACH) to help increase the amount of milk I make. I’m trying to do it as natural as possible without taking any hormones and things like that. I love the hell out of my babies already to be doing all of this, primarily because I know that they are really going to benefit from it.

I have some issues not being the belly-mama. I always feel like my bond with my tykes won’t be as strong or as prevalent as it is with Callie, who carried them. I know that is probably ludicrous, but it’s a legitimate fear. It’s almost the same fear as them growing up and being the annoyingly obnoxious teenagers that we were, saying things like, “I don’t have to listen to you! You’re not my REAL mother!”. Even the thought of that boils and freezes my blood all at the same time!
I also have some issues that I need to get over. Stereotype issues. Everyone has always known me to be the sporty type, always overweight, not ever feminine, more like the dad than the mom. I have pretty horrible PCOS which makes body hair my ultimate curse (especially in places that they shouldn’t be on a female and highly noticeable). I don’t think that anyone in a million years would think that I would want to carry (when I tell people this their usual reaction is “Really?!?! You?!?!), and the people that I told I was inducing lactation give me this face like, “Isn’t that gonna be weird for you? or “seriously?” Why? Because I prefer to wear jeans, polo’s and boat shoes over skirts and heels? Is it because of my outward appearance? I’M STILL A WOMAN PEOPLE! I still have very feminine qualities that I embrace and I definitely don’t have penis envy like some of the other butches I know. But how comfortable will I really feel when I’m at a public park and my 3 month old starts wailing cause he’s hungry, and it’s time to whip my boob out and nurse him? Will I hide my head in shame even though I know I’m doing the right thing? Will I all of a sudden rush home so that I can nurse in private? Will my face flush with the ultimate sign of embarrassment, or will it be a complete non-issue?

I don’t know the answer to those questions yet. I’m pretty sure I won’t know until my 2 little nuggets are here. But until then, I’ll keep pushing (or pumping) on. Gotta get things right as there are 2 little ones to make sure are well fed and plump. The only thing better than a little chubby baby is 2 little chubby babies. Callie may be going through the actual labor, but this adoptive breastfeeding thing is a true labor of love.

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That is NOT a penis…unfortunately!

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Every time we go to an ultrasound appointment, I kind of hope that they’ll be able to tell me what gender my babies are.  I know that it’s technically not possible yet, but what’s wrong with hoping right? Our 9 week ultrasound was no exception!

We get into the room, the Dr. steps out, and my Callie goes through the usual routine.  She quickly undresses before the Dr. comes back in (they’ve probably seen that thing as many times as I have this past year and a half), throws her pants and underwear at me but not before she tucks the underwear into the folds of the pants as EVERY woman does when she goes to the GYN (why is that???), and sits on the table, excited as ever to see our tiny humans again. 

Sidebar: We opted out of our appointment last week because our Dr. was on vacation and rescheduled for this past Wednesday, only to find out that our Dr. was in his NYC office that day and we wouldn’t be seeing him anyway.  Fantastically enough, we got his assistant who allowed us to really spend some quality time watching our babies wiggling around. IT WAS AWESOME!!!

So Callie lays back, and no matter how “safe and sound” we know our babies are, there is still this little twinge of fear when they do the ultrasound and you’ve seen baby 1 and not baby 2.  You have no idea the wave of relief that comes when you see baby 2 and hear his/her heart beat (let’s say “his” in hopes that the God’s will hear me and grant me my one true wish!). I’ve been a good person for the better part of my adult life, paying it forward, lending a helping hand, and doing the best I can do.  A son to watch my NY Giants with would be the greatest blessing, but two healthy babies, regardless of gender, takes the cake.

Having my partner, our Foster daughter Mary, our kitty Gracie, our 3 birds (2 females), our rabbit, and myself, it’s fair to say that our house might as well be called Estrogenfest!  Imagine we have 2 girls?!?! I will probably make front page on the Daily News with the headline, “New Mama throws self from Tappan Zee Bridge because she did not have a son!”.  Still, we look at the monitor and see what’s going on.  I’m happy to say that there are still 2 little ones in there, cute as ever.  They actually have little bodies, and aren’t just bean-looking anymore.  There are heads, and noticeable little paddles for hands and feet, and the best part, no tail! We no longer have tadpoles but tiny humans, big heads and all! What a difference a week makes. But I see something in the image.  Something LONG and smack in the middle where genitalia should be.  I know it’s too soon to tell, but in my head I’m like, “OH, HELL YEAH! My son is PACKING!”. I know damn well it’s the cord! And then the Dr. confirms what I already knew , “And that’s just the cord, not the penis.” DEFLATED! I start cracking up, mainly because I was JUST thinking that, but also to hide that weird farty sound that balloons make when you let that last little bit of air out of them.  I guess the personalized infant NY Giants Jersey I have in my cart on the NFL store website to match mine will have to wait a few more weeks…hopefully…twins1