Drama for a Foster Mama

Being a foster parent has its ups and downs.  It teaches you so many things, but also challenges you in ways that you didn’t expect or anticipate.  Take everything you learned growing up from your parents and basically, throw it out the window, because this is new.  It’s a whole new process and a new learning experience.  Lately, I have been struggling with my role as a foster mama.

I have been having a really difficult time relating and being patient with our 6 year old Mary.  I’m not sure if it’s my lack of sleep, my swing shifts at work, a new baby at home, not spending enough time as a family, Mary attention seeking (she’s been an only child her whole life and a new baby is really throwing her for a loop), Mary seeing her biological mom once a week and twice bi-weekly, or a combination of all those things.  These past 2 weeks she has been insufferable, and I have been less than my usual gentle and tolerant self.   I have to remind myself that it’s a lot of change very quickly for her and to step away and count to 10 before I lose it!

She’s very cheeky and sassy, and usually I find it to be pretty funny (I don’t laugh in her face though, I swear it.)  Lately, it has been less than funny.  It’s been downright rude and disrespectful.  She has made it her business to get the last word in even when we tell her that the conversation is over. “Mary, that’s enough thank you” “I know, but I was just saying that blah blah blah”.  “We understand honey but thank you, that’s enough” “But I was just saying that…” ” MARY! ENOUGH!” ::mumbles::”I was just saying, god!”  She blatantly disregards us and pretends not to hear us, but we know she does because she makes a slight flinch when you call her, but catches herself and turns back to what she was doing.  It’s beyond annoying because we KNOW she hears us! Lately, she has gotten into the habit of sucking her teeth if we ask her to do something and she is busy with her crafts or playing wit her dolls.  This is what we have been dealing with since they updated her visiting schedule with mom.  It’s like dealing with a teenager and she’s not even half way there yet!

The visits are a whole other problem on their own.  We consider ourselves to be pretty strict and have a strong grasp on the proper discipline of a 6 year old.  It basically comes down to losing her privileges like, no playground after school, not helping with cooking dinner, no feeding the baby, no electronics time (about 30 minutes of her choice of TV, iPad, or computer), or a half hour earlier to bed where she can read or lay quietly in her bed.  When she wants a new toy, she first has to raise the money herself by doing her chores (this consists of making her bed every morning which she does a great job with, cleaning her station after dinner, and making sure to scrape her dish and put it in the dishwasher). Then she has to donate one of the toys that she no longer wants to make room for the new one.  We also have a strict “candy is for special occasions” rule.  We had a few issues with her stealing and hiding her candy and now she does a lot better about asking for it, so we’ve eased up a little bit to reward the positive behavior.  It makes it incredibly difficult to implement these rules for good behavior when every Tuesday after parenting sessions with her momher mom sends her home with a black deli grocery bag FILLED to the top with junk food (which we promptly confiscate when she gets off of the bus and yes, exactly! Parenting sessions!). Sometimes it’s a buttload full of toys.  Or bags and bags full of clothes and new sneakers, that I have to bring a shopping cart down to be able to carry it all into the apartment. Or my new favorite, a brand new Little Mermaid school backpack over a month into the school year, when the one that we bought her cost us quite a bit of money and she chose herself because it was “OMG! SOOOOO cool!”  I understand that mom is trying to assert herself as the parents, but there are other ways to do it, like slicing an apple with peanut butter instead of Doritos, or split some carrots and some ranch dressing (Mary’s favorite snack!).  Maybe instead of telling her you’re going to buy her a ferret, a cat, a dog, and sugar glider for when you get to go home and be together (God knows when!), get books to read together about those animals.  Weigh out the pro’s and con’s of owning each.  Ask her how her school day was or if she made any new friends.  Ask her about her new teacher.  That’s what we do! Make her earn her toys.  “If you read 10 books from now until next Tuesday, and Callie and Sammie write me a note, then we can talk about getting you a little something.” That would be most effective.

Maybe I’m just being salty because I’m taking it personal.  When Mary goes to visits she comes home in different clothes or a different hairstyle or different shoes.  Are the things we bought her not good enough!?  Are WE not good enough!?  The case worker simply stated, “Different strokes for different folks” and I totally get that, but does it have to be every week?  I’ve actually thought once or twice in the past week, “Are they making progress with this aunt in Connecticut or what?!?!”

Ultimately, I know I don’t mean it and that I’m just frustrated.  I know birth moms that at some point have said, “Where is the nearest church so I can drop this damn baby off on the doorstep because I CAN’T!”  If my Mary left, I would honestly and tragically be devastated.  My heart (whether due to the lack of sleep, sensitive painful breasts, and all the emotions for the impending birth of our twins has made me a sappy mess!) can’t handle it.  I would cry and cry and cry for quite a while, but I’m human.  I’m allowed to be pissed at a kid who doesn’t listen, or is fresh, or is rocking my last nerve! My parents keep saying, “Remembah gwen jew wus a 6?” “No dad, I don’t” “Well, we do, and we gwanna forgot becoz jew was a pain in de ass!” “Thanks a lot dad!” Wise words from my dad again. (If you need a translation let me know!)  I’ve come to the realization that this too shall pass. It just seems to be crawling this week…

We MUST Be Crazy!!!

Tuesday afternoon, 1:47pm, my cell phone rings.
I don’t recognize the number, so I let it go to voicemail.  About a minute later after hearing the message, I was ringing Callie at work as quickly as I could.  She was busy but I couldn’t wait.  “I need to speak to her NOW!”  So her assistant found her in a flash and before you know it, I was returning the phone call to our county’s CPS offices.

A beautiful, 9 month old little girl! As if our lives couldn’t get any crazier (and richer at the same time)! How could we say no?! Well, we could have, but why?  This baby, who has no fault in any of the shenanigans that her parents have put her through (domestic violence, mental health and drug abuse issues), needs a home full of love and a nurturing environment. We can totally do that! So we will! We went from a family of 2, to a family of 4 in less than 6 months.  And in less than 4 months we will become a family of 6, if Mary and our new little addition, Laney, end up staying with us for a little longer.

Will it be overwhelming? Of COURSE it will! Will it be scary? Petrifying! Will we be on the verge of loosing our minds? Every damn day! Can we handle it? You bet your sweet ass we can! We’re super moms, and we have each other, and love, beautiful families and amazing friends.  We have everything we need to know that we can do this and make a difference.  A handful of people think we are crazy, and that’s fine, because well, maybe we are, but at the end of the day, we know what we are doing is right, no matter how crazy it is.  Life just got a whole lot more interesting…

Freaking AWESOME and Are You Freaking KIDDING Me!?!?

Freaking Awesome – Callie thinks she has been feeling the babies move for a little over a week now.  Initially she thought it was gas, but her gas is usually accompanied by this “gremlins in her gut” sound.  For the longest we have been calling it “aliens”.  She’s been having this feeling, but without the sounds, so we kinda figured it might be the babies.  As she was driving home on Thursday from work, she felt that strange feeling again.  By the time she got home though, she wasn’t feeling much of anything except exhausted and panicked (the phone tag with the nurses from the last entry).  But last night, while we were preparing our favorite lazy Saturday night dinner of chicken nuggets and tater tots (Mary loves it, but we love not cooking more!), I saw callie’s face change. I asked her, “What’s a’matter? Are you ok? Are they moving or something?” She grabbed my hand and put it on the lowest part of her belly.  After about 15 seconds I felt it! The tiniest little push! One of those babies was in there kicking up a storm.  We left the chicken nuggets on the tray and the tater tots mid seasoned (try some olive oil, rosemary, and garlic-AMAZING), and all 3 of us laid on the couch to feel them kicking away.  It was freaking INCREDIBLE!!!! The more I pushed them, the more they pushed back.  The 3 of us giggled and giggled until we realized that 40 minutes had passed and the food was still sitting on the counter where we left it.  So we got up, finished seasoning the tots and put everything in the oven.  We watched Disney’s Maleficent, brushed teeth, tucked Mary into bed, kissedher goodnight, told her we loved her, and retreated to our bedroom.  They didn’t move any more after that, at least not that I could feel, but that was more than enough for me.  I slept and dreamt of my 2 glorious babies trying to use Morse Code to communicate with me!

Are You Freaking Kidding Me?!?!?-  We have been having a pretty difficult time with Mary the past couple of weeks.  She currently has one hour bi-weekly visits with her mom.  The case worker must supervise them.  I’m going to assume that because the summer is a really busy time with families taking vacations and court dates and things like that, she hasn’t really had the time to dedicate to her visits.  The past month (2 visits) have been supervised by a random case worker who has no clue what is going on with our case.  Mary’s mom has been told on several occasions by our worker that she is not say things about Mary’s placement.  For example, stop telling her that she is coming home soon. She is not.  Stop telling her that you are going to buy her whatever animals she wants (like freaking ferrets and sugar gliders!!!) so that she can have them when she comes home. You are not.  And please don’t discuss her moving with her aunt in another state and that she has tons of kids and a huge house.  She does not!  Mary has been coming home from these visits completely bent out of shape and uncooperative.  Her attitude has been the pits, and she is back to her sneaky behavior.  We have a few rules in our home that are non-negotiable.  You MUST make your bed every day.  You MUST brush your teeth in the morning and at night.  You DO NOT go into our room without asking (everyone has that drawer that they do not want ANYONE going in, let alone a kid.  There will be a lot of ‘splaining to do), and no gum chewing in the house! Gum is a special treat.  Her teeth aren’t so great and we have spent time getting gum off of the floor.   We don’t use the negative way of saying it, obviously. So last week, I went into her bedroom to put some of her jewelry away in  her jewelry box.  What do I find inside?

SERIOUSLY?!?!?!

SERIOUSLY?!?!?!

7 GUM WRAPPERS!!! This isn’t even all of them!!! I found the other half stashed in a toy box.  She got in trouble and was not allowed to watch TV or play computer that day.  2 days later, I was looking for my pack of gum all over the place.  I couldn’t find it.  Callie, her best friend Jenny and I are sitting on the couch.  Mary was in her bedroom.  She came over to the living room to give us hugs and Callie smelled the delicious tropical fruitiness that is my favorite gum.  When she stopped, looked and her and said “Open your mouth”, her face turned beet red and she was CAUGHT! Rule #1 broken – no chewing gum in the house.  “Where did you get the gum?” I don’t know! Rule #2 broken -freaking lying!.  I’m gonna ask you again and you better tell the truth. “Your Room” – Rule #3 broken! Take your behind to your room.  No dessert after dinner.  She was not allowed electronics that day.  So today, I’m at work, and I get a text from Callie. “She’s at it again!!!!”  Callie gave her breakfast, went to lay down, and about 25 minutes later, she went out to the living room to watch a movie with Mary.  Mary Surprised to see her, and dove onto the couch, put her face in the pillow and claimed to be sooooo tired.  Callie found it quite curious, so she made her sit up.  As she was sitting up, it was blatantly obvious that she was trying to park the gum in her cheek.  OH MAN!!!! That was it! Callie was furious! “WHERE ARE THE WRAPPERS!!!!!!!!!!”

BEHIND THE FRIDGE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

BEHIND THE FRIDGE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Starburst wrappers, fortune cookie wrappers, Hershey kiss wrappers, gum wrappers, every kind of freaking wrapper you could think of.  Yup, it’s back there.  Needless to say, no electronics for the next 2 days.  And she better not ask me for a treat when I get home from work! I think I’ll lose it! How does a 6 year old get so sneaky, because it was obviously well thought out! Correcting this behavior is gonna be so challenging.  Might have to pull out the parenting book for this one folks! Wish me luck!

14 Weeks and Gender Reveal Planning

It’s been 14 weeks into this pregnancy (well today is 14w3d but who’s counting?!) and things are still rolling along smoothly.  Callie is starting to get what we assume is some round ligament pain. It’s down really low in her pubic area and only to one side.  Since neither of us knows what it’s really supposed to feel like, we’re just sort of assuming that’s what it is.  The “Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy” pretty much describes exactly what she is feeling.  She’s also been getting headaches pretty frequently. They aren’t every day and they don’t last very long, but we’re going to ask our OB when we see him this coming Thursday and make sure that there is nothing wrong or abnormal about that.  We understand that preeclampsia starts with headaches and is more likely to happen when carrying multiples. We bought ourselves a Sonoline B fetal Doppler and we listen to our babies every night, but we do miss seeing them once a week terribly! Pro’s of not going to the fertility clinic every week – Not going every week! Cons- it feels like we NEVER get to see our babies and we were used to seeing them at least once a week, sometimes twice! Hopefully, they might be able to tell us their gender.  Either way, the following week we get to see the Perinatologist who said she would more than likely be able to see as long as they cooperate.  We keep getting told that our babies are very well behaved (stretching alllllllll the way out when we have U/S’s), and that it takes half the time to scan our twins than it does to scan a singleton.  Hopefully, it’ll stay that way!

When life hands you lemons! (Ain't she the cutest?!?!)

When life hands you lemons!
(Ain’t she the cutest?!?!)

Hopefully, they will definitely be able to tell us the gender of the babies by the first week of September because we have already sent out the invitations for our Gender Reveal Party set for September 13th! It’s really exciting, but it would be really bad if we had no idea what they were.  Knowing our luck, they wont want to cooperate.  We’re both very reserved about out “privates” so our guess, our babies will be too! We’ve invited about 60 people, which sounds like a lot, but really isn’t.  Just my siblings, their significant others, my parents, and my nieces and nephews are 14 people. With Callie’s parents, brother, and her grandmother, we are almost at 20, so technically we really only invited 40 people, which is reasonable.  Everyone is so excited because they are ready to shower these babies with so much love, which in our eyes, they already have.  We have to keep telling people, PLEASE NO GIFTS, because they keep asking what we want or what is customary! We just want to share that moment with them.  We did really well with buying all of our decorations.  Thank you Walmart.com for all of your 87 cent stuff! We got enough decorations for 8 tables, pink and blue plates and cups for 100, cutlery, 100 gender reveal napkins, 8 mini honeycomb gender reveal signs, pink and blue balloons, and pink and blue crepe paper. I only spent $43!!!  We are having it at the marina where we keep our boat, under the gazebo, BBQ style. My mom is going to make her famous yellow rice with pigeon peas, and Callie’s mom is going to make her mouth watering Mac-n-Cheese.  Other family has volunteered to make some other stuff, and my sister ( who is a year younger than me and just got engaged Friday night at the Coliseum in Italy—WOO HOO!!!!!) is getting about 50 cake pops for us from a friend of hers.  How are we gonna tell everyone, you ask?  We bought 60 black balloons.  Inside the balloons with be either blue or pink confetti, or both.  Everyone will pop the balloons at the same time and TADA!!!! Confetti color=a lot of excited family and friends. Hopefully, it will all go off without a hitch and no one will pop their balloons too early, but I’ll make sure of that! I’ll have to cut someone! J/K, or am I??? We are making copies of the u/s’s from our first to the most recent, backing them on pink and blue construction paper and stringing them as decorations.  We are painting clothes pins blue and pink and adding little pink bows or blue bows at the top and letting people wear their guesses. There will also lip cut outs and mustache cut outs on straws for good measure.  Should be a good time.  Time to get my craft on!  With my busy schedule, I have to start making all of these things now.  I’ll be posting pics in the next week or 2 with some of the finished decorations.  Until then, I’ll just keep dreaming about these babies, and first pray that they are healthy and safe, and then that I have one of each, so I wont have to throw myself off of a bridge but If I don’t, I’d be just fine…

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