Conditions…

Another Christmas has come and gone, and I couldn’t be happier that all the holiday madness is over (for the most part!). The kids had a blast!  They opened up all their presents (AT 6:30 AM!), had our new favorite holiday tradition of Christmas Pancakes (just some green and red sprinkles in the batter)IMG_6440.PNG, went to my sisters, and spent time with family.  They haven’t stopped playing with their toys since Christmas morning.  You have no idea how fun it is to pry a toddler off of a balance bike while he grips the handle bars and wraps his legs around it, to the point that you just carry him AND the bike to the changing table and figure out how to NOT get poop on everything.  That LITERALLY happened!  Levi!  And my house is impeccable now that Noah got a mini vacuum that REALLY works. “Come on Nene, follow mama, and you clean, ok!?”  We haven’t had a scrap on the floor, what with the toy “real” vacuum, and our real human vacuum (Austin)!  Mary has been dying to ride her bike, but NY has had less than perfect Holiday weather filled with unseasonably warm weather with loads of rain, and the one day that was beautiful, we were just so busy, but she has flown her remote control hummingbird all over the house, and into ever single wall, sooooo…

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And since we are speaking of Mary, part of her adoption “contract”, if you will, is that her mom would sign over her rights under very specific conditions that have been agreed upon.  The two main conditions (which also have conditions!) are a monthly email with 2-3 pictures of Mary and a brief snippet of what her month has has been like, i.e. “she is doing well in school.  She scored two goals at soccer 2 weeks ago.  We’ll be on vacation next week and she’s looking forward to it”.  Simple as that.  Not über crazy and not too involved.  I get it.  She just wants to know OF her biological daughter, and I can’t say I wouldn’t be the same considering the circumstances.  She also gets a quarterly visit.  One visit every 3 months, 4 times a year.

Initially we thought everyone on our end would be ok with this, but we didn’t consider Mary’s behavior/emotional well being with the continuation of visits, and ALSO knowing that her birth mom has her baby sister and not her has been a real source of the constant PAIN IN MY ASS that I’m dealing with as far as Mary’s conflicting emotions are concerned.  We’ve noticed that this is a continuous cycle with Mary every time she does/doesn’t have visits, or whenever she does/doesn’t see her mom.  The behaviors, the anger, the sadness is the same regardless of whether these visits happen or not.  In August, mom missed her first visit, which led it be a little over 6 months since Mary had any contact with her birth mom.  She was great all summer, up until the week before she knew her visit was coming.  Then mom missed the visit, and all hell broke loose for about 6 weeks, behavior-wise. 3 more months pass.  Mom shows up in November, with a trove of gifts, which of course sends a whole slew of different messages.  And then the ” I really love my mom.  She’s a good mom because she buys me cool and pretty things” conversation happened, which was really hard to reign in because…ego…

I guess the whole reason I’m bringing this up is because her birth mom emailed me back this time, the day after Christmas (even though I send the monthly email on the first of each month, and she never writes back!) to ask for us to please consider inviting her to Mary’s birthday party.  That it would make her year, and that she would want nothing more than to share Mary’s special day.  Uh, EXCUSE ME!?!  Now?!  After 3 birthday invites?  So of course, despite trying my hardest, my alter Petty LaBelle showed up, and the response was so protective and almost guttural, verbatim, “Hi there.  Unfortunately, Mary is have a huge “Adoption Day Party” (her choice) and we’ve decided to forgo a 9th birthday party and will instead be spending a weekend at an indoor water park with her best friend and her favorite cousin.  Hope you have a Happy New Year.  Stay blessed! ~Petty Labelle” .

And now I feel HORRIBLE about it!  I mean, there was other stuff in the email that she wanted addressed (Mary’s current size, her favorite show/activity, what she’s into now [Descendants!], how her holiday was, what she got, etc.) which I had absolutely no issue with, but I was so caught up in the BS of kind of proving she’s OUR daughter now, that I forgot to be kind to her.  I can’t imagine the struggle.  I can ABSOLUTELY imagine what it’s like to not have my children, and it is the WORST feeling I have ever felt just THINKING about it!  And I should have been kinder, but also, the freaking audacity!  The times that we have invited her, she hasn’t shown up.  In fact, she promised Mary a cake, and fell of the face of the earth, so my “guarded” feelings about Mary’s day were totally warranted, but maybe my delivery was a little too much.

I’ll be kinder next time, placing myself in her shoes, but also, by being honest and beginning to address some of the issues we have with her, will communicate what OUR needs are to keep Mary’s heart safe and happy.  My gut tells me that Mary’s mom will be around, and despite everything, so long as the relationship improves and the honesty and trust us there, I’m pretty ok with that. In what capacity she’ll be around is still unclear, but I know their hearts are very connected, and I can’t see myself not honoring what my daughters heart is telling her, but I also know that sometimes we don’t make the best choices when we ONLY let our hearts lead the way.  Life experience is huge, and Mary has had tons but her loyalty is blinding…also, 8 years old!  Mary will learn things in her own time, as she should.  She will develop a relationship with her birth mom at some point, but for right now, we are in charge of those interactions, and reiterating who we are to Mary and to her birth mom, the gentle reminders of “you lost your opportunity to be in charge here” for birth mom, and also trying our damnedest to give love and hope and opportunity to the woman who gave us one of our most precious gifts…

We’ll always be somewhat indebted to her, and we should start reminding ourselves of that a little…img_6441

Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes…

In May, we went to family court to start to determine what was going to happen as far as Mary’s permanency was concerned.  Mary’s birth mom felt that if she didn’t commit to signing a Conditional Surrender ([CS]signing over your parental rights with certain conditions attached) she would never be able to see her daughter again.  She figured that the court would see her as unfit and decide in our favor and that the termination of her rights by the court and not of her own volition, is not what she wanted.  Signing over her right would allow her to negotiate the terms of the surrender, and she would essentially be in charge of her own fate.

Before court that day, in fact, once they switch Mary’s track from reunification to adoption, Callie and I had been discussing what the conditional surrender would look like if Mary’s birth ever even considered it an option (initially was very adamant that she would NEVER, EVER sign a surrender!).  We decided initially on no visits and bi-annual emails.  Eventually, we put our own feelings aside when we really started listening to Mary and what she wanted.  She absolutely wants to be able to see her mother and her baby sister and loves them dearly.  Having grown up without knowing or having access to my biological father has affected me in ways that I didn’t even know until multiple therapist have brought it up!  After really talking this one out, we wanted what was best for Mary emotionally, developmentally, and mentally.  We figured keeping her connected to her birth mom was important for her, and as her moms, we wanted to make that happened.

A few days after all of the paperwork was signed in court, we doubled down on our promise to Mary about keeping her connected to her birth family by sending her mom an email.  We wanted to makes sure that if we were going to begin to foster a relationship with B-Ma (Birth Mother), we wanted to establish some ground rules and really, tackle the elephant in the room. That BY LAW we are now her mothers, and BY LAW she was not.  Callie and I sat over the course of the next couple of days deciding the best way to address our current predicament.  Callie has a much more gentle and well rounded approach. I am a lot more direct and tend not to sweeten or soften things up, so most of our time was spent reviewing the email and her telling me that I can’t call her a ” drug addict who needs to get her life together because you have two kids that aren’t in your care, and how many damn chances do you need?!?!”.  We sent an email expressing our concerns about beginning a relationship with her and how her behavior and  inability to be consistent and present for Mary is detrimental to her.  That in order for our relationship to work and for her to be a part of Mary’s life besides the 4 quarterly visits a year, we needed to be able to trust her.  We needed to be able to take her word.  We needed to be able to communicate effectively. That we needed to see for ourselves that she was committed to being an active member of Mary’s life.  Of all those things though, our emphasis was TRUST, because honestly the only information that we have to go on and the only experiences we have with her have proven to us that “trustworthy” is probably the last quality would we would think of to describe her.  In fact, if actually asked that question, I don’t think “trustworthy” would be a word that we would even think about!  But, we sent the email.  And, she responded, an was so happy and excited that we were willing to give the opportunity to be in her daughter life.  We’ve been corresponding quite a bit.  In fact, she even bought Mary a ton of summer clothes and sneakers, a new writing journal for her stories, and underwear and socks.

In compliance with the CS, we’ve been in touch with Mary’s caseworker (since she is technically still a ward of our county, Dept. Of Social Services is still responsible until adoption is fully granted) who is responsible for setting up the first meeting of these quarterly visits. After going back and forth most of July with B-Ma about making arrangements for a visit in August, they decided that Mary’s Visit with B-Ma would be 8/2.  Our worker ended up having a family emergency that day and had to reschedule. So they did, for 8/9, but because of transportation issues with Mary going to camp outside of our county, they had to reschedule the visit again to submit a request for out of county transport and it required 14 days to approve.  Visit now scheduled for 8/24.  After emailing a few times, and B-Ma being in contact with the caseworker, everything was on track.  Wednesday morning, we sent Mary to camp with one of the outfits her mom had given her and a huge smile on her face.  She boarded the bus, gets to the facility, meets her worker, hugs him, gets in the elevator and heads up to the visiting room only to find out that B-Ma….

Didn’t show up!  She didn’t freaking show up!  After all of the emails, all of the confirmations, all of the arranging and re-arranging to accommodate her!  After a clean drug test 3 days before.  After having discussed in detail what her missing visits does to our daughter and how it is so detrimental to her!  After all of that and you don’t show up?!?!?!   Are you serious!?!  And you want to know why?!  Because her boyfriend, the new babies father, didn’t leave her a Metrocard (A $2 and 75 cent fucking card!) to take the bus, and she didn’t bother calling, better yet, EMAILING the worker who has NO ACCESS to his computer during a visit, until 11:20 when the visit started at 11!  You guys!  You have to read her email and her desperation to see her daughter because 3 months is “the longest I have gone without seeing my baby”, which is bullshit because she disappeared for over 6 months a year and a half ago!  And then you don’t fucking show up?! So, our worker, who is incredible, took Mary outside to the waterfront, to eat Icee’s and play I-Spy, and after the hour was up, put a really upset kid back on a bus to camp, to sit in her own sorrow the rest of the day.

Luckily, it seems like Mary is kind of over her B-Ma, and we’re cool with that.  I think that she is starting to recognize that her mom is just never really gonna be good at making the right choices.  Despite the days events, she was in one of the best moods I had seen her in all summer.  I think the concert at the park, gourmet grilled cheeses for dinner, unlimited use of my Pokemon GO app, and ice cream cones before bed helped make it better, for sure!  But I couldn’t let it go!  I wrote.  And I wrote. And I wrote.  And Callie edited, edited edited!  And an email was put together reminding B-Ma that that was strike one of two, and that we aren’t going to be doing this anymore.  That Mary is our daughter and we treat her and love her like our own flesh and blood.  That she is our first baby, and that as parents we would do anything to protect her from being hurt.  That we would do anything to ensure her happiness.  And that we would not allow her to continue to hurt her. No, we will NOT be rescheduling your visit.  You can see her in November.  And NO, we will not make up lies and tall tales to protect Mary from your inconstancy.  And mainly that we, unlike the system, are not paid/inclined to give her a million chances, and that we will absolutely, without question, no longer tolerate all of your fuckery!

She hasn’t responded.  Not sure if she will.  Callie blames her missed visit on forgetfulness.  I blame the forgetfulness on pregnancy brain…oh yeah, I filed to mention…She’s pregnant again…

 

Dolls, Ankle Socks, and PJ’s: A Foster Mama’s Frustration

We are having a serious issue, and I don’t know how much longer we can keep our cool.  We consider ourselves to be reasonable people.  Respectful women.  Kind folks.  When we are asked to do something (within reason) we comply.  That’s just who we are.

For weeks (months really), we have been communicating with Mary’s case worker about the amount of gifts that Mary’s mom has been giving her.  We have also spoken to the Parenting Counselor and Mary’s individual therapist as well, and all three have touched base with mom about the incessant gift giving.  They have given her the reasons as to why this could be detrimental to her development. 1) She doesn’t learn to value and appreciate things 2) When we have a reward system in place, it is difficult to discipline her if she continues to receive weekly gifts from mom (every Tuesday) and twice biweekly (every other week she sees mom Tuesdays and Thursdays).  And 3) Our apartment simply isn’t big enough to have 52 two foot dolls (one for each week of the year and those ridiculously scary looking Disney princess dolls).  All of these conversations were simply not heeded and Mary has continuously received gift after stupid freaking gift.

Finally, we had it!  With Christmas quickly approaching, we wanted to make sure that the holiday season with out family was a special one.  We normally buy gifts for each other, wrap them and promptly put them under the tree.  Not this year though.  We are teaching Mary all about the true story of Christmas, as well as the story of Old St. Nick.  We have wrapped her gifts and placed them in our closets and won’t be putting them under the tree until she is fast asleep Christmas Eve.  We decided that since mom hasn’t been listening to the workers that maybe we would reach out to her via email.  So Callie wrote her a very  nice letter explaining to her all of the above reasons as to why she should refrain from purchasing gifts, with the added, “And it’s the holiday season, so to avoid duplicate gifts, as well as making Christmas extra special for her.”  We also sent her the pictures that we took of Mary in her Christmas outfit in case her mom wanted to get cards made to send out to friends and relatives.  This was approximately a week ago.  Added to that email was a list of things that Mary doesn’t need (sneakers, short ankle socks, toys/dolls, pajamas, hats, gloves, winter jackets, t-shirts, house slippers) and things that she does need, since mom has felt so inclined to buy her things (longer winter socks, thermals, sweat suits, and winter boots).  Not that we can’t purchase those things for her, but since mom is going to buy her things every week, we might as well give her some clues for the things that she’d be better off buying.

Yesterday, when Mary returned from her visit, she came home with a bag full of stuff.  What was in the bag, you ask?  Welllll, you guessed it! Everything on the “DO NOT BUY”.  Ankle socks (It’s f*cking winter lady!), hats and gloves (last week she bought her 3 sets), house slippers (because the other 4 light up pair that she bought her obviously weren’t enough), another freaking princess pajama (because the 2 drawers full of pajamas that we have accumulated in the past 8 months certainly aren’t enough!), and a freaking Baby Alive doll that pees and poops, which we got Mary as a gift from Santa to help her in being a big sister.  That was the gift that we were most excited about.  That is the gift that we waited on freaking line for, refreshing the screen for hours on cyber monday in order to make her Christmas extra special because she wanted it so bad.  Needless to say, we were freaking PISSED!  Our case worker texted me on my way home from work to let me know that Mary’s mom had bought her a doll.  We knew it would be more than that because otherwise she wouldn’t have texted us.  We did not anticipate a bag full of crap, again, for the 4th time this month!  I let the case worker have it! When are they going to step in and tell her mom that it’s inappropriate and disrespectful to not respect the wishes of the foster family.  Does she not know that we hold all of the cards in our hands right now?  We can cancel visits when we feel like it.  We can cease all phone calls (we let Mary call mom whenever mom cancels a visit for something ridiculous like rain!).  We don’t ever have to send her another picture of Mary in a school play, or catching her first fish, or bouncing at a bouncy castle, or showing her face of wonder when capturing her first firefly ever. We have been nothing but kind to this woman, and nothing but understanding of her situation.  We speak highly of her to her daughter and encourage Mary to share her stories about her mother with us.  We have Mary write her cards and I put DVD’ together of Mary at her school functions.  We are the ideal foster parents and get blatantly disrespected like this!?!?!  How is it that we can comply and work with her and all of the multitude of requests, but our simple one is not even considered?  I can assure you, from this point on, we will be changing.  We will not be so accommodating.  It’s unfortunate, because Mary is ultimately the one who will suffer, but how do we make it clear that this behavior from mom is unacceptable?  How do we get her to understand, that her selfish behavior (the need to assert herself as “mom”) is not in her daughters best interest?  How do we explain to her that this is a partnership and that we should all be working together to do what is best for Mary?

On Tuesday, despite Mary’s tears and tantrums, we will be sending all of the stuff back (with the exception of the doll, which she loves, and makes us sad because we wanted to give it her) to her mother with a note indicating why it was all being sent back.  We will speak to the case worker and the therapist, and unless there is a valid reason as to why we will be receiving any more gifts, they are not to send Mary home with any more uselses crap unless it is pre-approved by us.  Is it a bit extreme?  Perhaps.  But we have rules in our home, and we expect them to be followed.  If Mary’s mom wants to have things handed to her by her sugar daddies and her stripper friends, so be it, but we will not be the parents that hand things to our children so that they expect everything to be handed to them in life.  They will work hard and earn them.  They will do chores for allowance, and learn the value of a dollar.  They will take pride in their achievements.  Those are the children that we will raise.  This situation has gotten out of hand!

Baby Dreams

These past 3 weeks I have been both pleased and plagued with baby dreams.  Some are so amazing and I see our cute little chubby boys on my chest as we cuddle and watch some TV, and then others, I am running around in what seems like endless circles, holding the hand of one toddler and screaming my head off looking for the other who is nowhere to be found.  Some mornings, I am so happy, that I wake up feeling amazing the whole day, and other mornings, in such a panic that the rest of my day is spent biting my nails and reliving the dread of the previous nights dream.  I realized that today that some these dreams may be due to the fact that I have more estrogen and progesterone coursing through my body than usual (started taking birth control pills in order to induce lactation WITHOUT the sugar pill which means 37 days of crazy hormones, and with my PCOS, this is all pretty new to me).

One night I had a wonderful dream! I mean, it was so amazing.  We were in the hospital, the boys had just been born, and I was allowed to cut the cord.  Within an hour I was tandem nursing and was producing so much milk that the hospital LC couldn’t believe that I wasn’t the biological mother and that I hadn’t been pregnant before.  They latched right on and ate for a while.  When I looked at them, they smiled at me.  I couldn’t really see what they looked like, but it was more like a feeling.  My babies were content, and they knew they were loved, and I FELT that.  I woke up, and my heart was so full that day, that even a 5:00am traffic jam first thing in the morning, spilling my whole cup of coffee as I got out of the car, and forgetting my lunch couldn’t make that feeling go away.

About 3 days later, I had a horrible dream.  It was kind of in pieces but everything felt incredibly real.  We were on our way home from the hospital.  It was pouring rain.  The streets were getting flooded so I decided to take the back roads (it’s very hilly where we live, so it made sense to me, because there was no where for the water to pool as it would all flow downhill).  In my dream, I was right, but then suddenly it started to snow.  The boys started wailing at the top of their lungs!  Callie couldn’t console them.  She told me to pull over so she could try to nurse them, or rock them a little but, but I didn’t want to because the snow was getting heavier and I just wanted to get home.  I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember not being able to stop that car as it started rolling down the hill.  I pressed the brakes but they wouldn’t catch and I could see a tractor-trailer approaching at the intersection about 100 yards away.  The car was picking up speed, Callie was  yelling “STOP!”, I was yelling “I CAN”T”, tractor-trailer tires screeching, and the inevitable sound of a crash. I distinctly remember our SUV rolling, as if something out of a movie, and then I remember the most piercing green eyes on one of my baby boys and I woke up!  I couldn’t breath! It was all so real!  This dreams were screwing with me big time.

About 2 days later I dreamt that the boys were about 3 and that we were on a Disney cruise.  They were so excited to see the Pirates Show and to have ice cream.  I remember walking on the deck, and I was holding both of their hands.  I let go of one for a second to get my wallet out for my “seacard”, and when I reached down and said, “Take my hand Bubba”, there was no response, no warmth in my hand, no resistance.  “Bubba?  Bubba?!?!”  And I freaked!!! Totally freaked!  I didn’t know whether someone had snatched him, if he had just wandered off when he saw one of the many characters walking on the deck, or if that little thing I saw out of the corner of my eye that looked like it was jumping overboard was my son! I didn’t know what to think!  I ran around the whole deck of the boat, yelling at the top of my lungs. Before I could stop myself (I can do that sometimes in my dreams), I grabbed a life vest and jumped overboard.  Before I hit the water, I woke up drenched in sweat (mainly because Callie was drenched in sweat even with a fan on in 30 degree weather and had her body drapped all over me).  I was pretty shaken up.

This morning, I woke up to such a happy, awesome dream, and that is carrying me through this day (and possibly the miserable snowstorm quickly approaching my area!).  I was in the delivery room.  Callie was laboring beautiful (according to the doula), and she was really holding it together.  She hardly screamed and didn’t curse me out.  The end… LOL! Just kidding!  After a little while (distinctly remember looking at the clock on the wall and it was 3:11am)the doctor announced that Noah was crowning.  I ran over to see and Callie yelled at me to come back and hold her hand because it hurt so bad.  So I did, and next thing I know, she pushes and on her chest they put this massive baby, with a head full of dark brown hair, and eyes as grey as morning fog.  It was incredible! Then another push and another cry at 3:13 and then 2 glorious babies were on Callie’s chest, this picture not as clear from all the tears in my eyes, and I see dark hair again (we have been debating whether we will even have AT LEAST one ginger baby {please Ginger Gods!}) and the most piercing blue eyes I have seen.  And I sang to them, and they knew it was me.  I felt it.  They kicked their little legs, and they just stared at me, wide awake, while I sang to them, as if they were dying to hear it without the muffling of that bubbling they were sitting in for so many months.  When I stopped they cried, when I sang they settled.  It was incredible.  My cat walked into the room (weird, I know!) and she started making this weird meowing sound that ended up being my first alarm.  I shut it off and tried to fall back to sleep and get back to the place I was in my dream as quickly as I could before I lost it, but no such luck.

I always hear about pregnant lady dreams, but never pregnant partner dreams.  I know they happen.  Butchjax confirms that, as her wife has been having these dreams too.  Parenthood is a scary but incredibly rewarding experience.  It’s only natural to have both of those kinds of dreams, I suppose.  I just prefer the ones that don’t involve me feeling like I am the worst parents in the world, or by babies scaring the crap out of me.  I’ll hold on to last nights dream for as long as I can…those eyes (even if that’s not what they really look like) will never leave me…

26 Weeks

I wish it would just slow down.  I hope that time doesn’t got his quickly when the boys are born.  It makes me sad to feel that this is all going to be over soon.  I love seeing Callie pregnant.  I love the great mood and the positive attitude she has had.  I especially love coming home to my wife (hehe wife!) every day now that she’s on bed rest, because our opposing work shifts only allow for us to spend time together on Friday evenings and Saturdays.  It’s been so great to catch up on our TV shows and cuddle on the couch or in bed (kid free!) all day on Wednesdays and Thursdays when I have my overnights.  It’s amazing to watch her body change every week to accommodate our growing babies.

This week Levi and Noah are about the length of zucchini.  They should be weighing in at just over a pound half, but they are weighing in at (Levi) 2.2lbs and (Noah) 2.0.  The doctor says that’s great!  They continue to develop their lungs by breathing in amniotic fluid and then exhaling it.  They keep stretching their bodies out and pushing all over Callie’s belly.  I’m almost certain that they (because they are exhibitionists!) are sticking their little butts out for Mamá to rub.  Of course, I appease them!  Their fingernails have grown all the way in and will probably be really jagged when they are born.  Grimy and jagged nails are one of our pet peeves with kids! They might also open their eyes this week or next and begin batting their eyelashes (hopefully they’ll be long and I’ll be really envious!).  This week, their brain-wave activity is also the highest it has been throughout their development.  They are really starting to make sense of the warm pool that they are encased in, and all of the sounds around them.  Their sensitivity to light is also at its most sensitive since they have been able to sense it.

This week, at our OB and Perinatologist appointments, we were told told that Callie’s cervix got back up to 2.1 from a 1.94 so that’s great.  We were also told that the boys have quite a bit of hair, Noah more than Levi.  Callie also passed her 3 hour glucose test (phew!) but that she is sort of borderline so she has to monitor her intake of carbohydrates and sugars.  Unfortunately, it was Halloween Friday and Mary brought home enough candy to satisfy (10 times over!) Callie’s insatiable urge for sweets these past 3 weeks.  And by insatiable I mean, piece of pie, 10 minutes later sherbert, 30 minutes later candy, 20 minutes later more pie, 1 hour later looking for something sweet again.  Marco brought a pie, Crack Pie to be exact, for the wedding and it was AMAZING! Callie has been talking about it ever since.  No seriously, EVERYONE and their mother needs to have this pie.  If you have a Momofuku near you, make it your business to get a slice.  It’s pricey ($45/pie) but soooooooo worth it!  All of that said, everything looks  and seems to be going well. Our weekly appointments continue with the OB and bi-weekly with our Perinatologist.  I’m starting to get a little worried that we haven’t even painted the nursery yet, but I enlisted Marco for a hike and help with cleaning and organizing our storage unit and getting some stuff done in the nursery this Saturday.  Even on bed rest and with everything going on, Callie is still encouraging me to take some time to myself since I’ve been doing everything basically on my own for over 3 weeks now, so I’ll be able to really enjoy the autumn foliage this Saturday hiking Storm King Mountain and revisit the sculpture park at Storm King Arts Center down the road.

MY WIFE AT 26 WEEKS PREGNANT WITH OUT TWIN BOYS

MY WIFE AT 26 WEEKS PREGNANT WITH OUT TWIN BOYS

*BREASTFEEDING WITHOUT BIRTHING UPDATE*

I have been trying to induce lactation pretty much since we found out that Callie was pregnant.  I have done manual expression and used a breast pump 6-10 times a day (depending on my work schedule) for about 15-20 minutes each time.  I wasn’t having any success with the exception of 1 little drop, so I contacted a lactation consultant who put me on Domperidone.  After the second day on Dom, I had a few drops of clear liquid the next 2 days of pumping.  After those first few days, there was nothing else.  Not a single drop, but I never gave up.  I called the consultant to ask her if birth control was the way to go (I think my PCOS is preventing me from having the appropriate levels of estrogen and progesterone to really get the milk making ball rolling), but she said it can take more than the 1-2 weeks that everyone says it takes from Dom to work.  So a month and a half of taking Dom 4x’s a day later, and still nothing.  I decided to make an appointment for both Callie and I, so Friday morning we went there to discus with her our next options.  She checked to make sure that I wasn’t producing anything (which I’m not), and decided that since we still have time it would be best for me to stop pumping (thank the lawd!), take Birth Control to stop my period, trick my body into thinking I am pregnant by not taking the sugar pill and going right into the next cycle, and continue with the same dosage of Dom for the next 2 months.  Then I’ll stop the pill, keep taking the Dom, and start pumping with a vengeance like before.  HOPEFULLY, that will work.  If not, then there really isn’t anything else I can do besides get a feeding tube and supplement with Callie’s breast milk or formula.  I hear that once babies latch on, there seems to be an increase in milk production from non-birthing moms, and then I can start taking herbs again that will help with that as well.  So I’m still on this journey of trying to be the best Mamá for my boys.

WOULN'T BE SO BAD TO NURSE WITH A NURSING SYSTEM, WOULD IT?

WOULDN’T BE SO BAD TO NURSE WITH A NURSING SYSTEM, WOULD IT?

Marrying My Best Girl

I spend most of my Friday night getting our apartment ready to host about 15 guests for our wedding.  I think  it was more to calm my nerves and keep busy.  I couldn’t eat, I barely slept, I made sure that our rings fit, and I looked at myself in the mirror every time I went to the bathroom, and practiced saying “I do”.  After taking Mary trick or treating in our apartment complex, I set up some minimal decorations as per Callie’s request because she didn’t want to make “a big deal” about it, especially because it was taking place in our living room and not at some big fancy hall like we had always dreamed of (it’ll happen eventually).  I organized, moved furniture, moved the zoo into the nursery, and hoped that I hadn’t forgotten anything important.  I kept telling Callie, “In just 19, 16, 12, hours, you’ll be my wife!!”  The smiles that followed that will be engrained in my mind forever.  My friend Nikki spent the night for an impromptu bachelorette party that consisted of watching Bridesmaids and drinking non-alcoholic wine (for Callie) and shots of Fireball (for us!)  We  stayed up later than we probably should have, but it was fine since I couldn’t really sleep anyway.

Saturday morning, the BIG DAY, my alarm goes off at 8:03 ( always set to some random time…OCD thing).  I wipe the kitchen counters down one more time.  I make sure that there isn’t any hair on the floor of my very white (and usually immaculate) bathroom.  I take our clothes out.  I iron Callie and Mary’s dresses.  I Iron my clothes and Nikki’s son’s (basically my nephew) clothes.  My sister got to  us at around 10:30am to style Callie’s hair.  I brushed my teeth and found my something old, new, borrowed, blue.  I had to make some rice so I put the pot on for Nikki to watch while she made her baked ziti, cut some fresh mozzarella and tomatoes and put them con crackers with a little basil leaf, and I jumped in the shower.

At around 11:30 our guests started arriving, putting their homemade dishes in our kitchen for the potluck lunch, and getting really excited about our vows.  I put my socks and slacks on, taking deep breaths, I button my shirt slowly and fidgeted with my tie (I must have tied it like 10 times before it was “perfect” and I don’t even believe in perfect!), I buttoned up my vest, tied my new shoes, and walked outside to let the judge into my garage spot (parking by us is a nightmare!) .  We walked upstairs, and I got everyone to find a seat.  I stood there with the judge waiting for Callie to enter the living room.  Callie walked into the living room down our long hallway and at the very moment, I couldn’t believe that after all that time of talking about our little shotgun wedding, it as actually happening.  I had seen Callie in her dress, but I hadn’t seen her done up with hair and make-up in her dress.  My head was reeling!  In about 5 minutes I was going to be married.  I was going to have this amazing woman as  my wife.  My heart couldn’t contain itself.  My eyes filled with tears (didn’t spill any though!) and I held Callie’s hands as the judge welcomed everyone and introduced herself.

She asked if anyone objected (NOPE!), she asked if we wanted to marry each other (YUP!) and then we exchanged rings making promises to be there for each other as spouses, not only when we wanted to but more so when we didn’t.  We were told to never forget our commitment and to love and honor each other every day for the rest of our lives.  And we will.  I just know it!  Something about the way that Callie looked at me during those 5 minutes, I knew that I was making the best choice of my life. That having her as my wife, and her choosing me to be the other mother to our children are the two most important and life changing decisions I could have made.  For the rest of my life I will be reminded of that in the smiling faces of my kids, or the tears of my wife when we see them off to college, or the first time we meet our grandchildren.  I will know that I made the best choice by choosing her.

We took a ton of pictures, had lots of delicious food, and celebrated with some music and some reminiscing.  It was nice to have such a small intimate affair.  We were able to talk to everyone, to listen, to share hugs and know that we will remember everything that happened, even to the smallest minute detail, like how Gracie (our kitty) walked across us and the judge when she asked if there was anyone who objected (really Gracie! You little hater! I know you love mommy but DANG!).  I’ll remember all of the kin words that were said about our love and the tears shed by friends and family. It was an amazing day that I will never forget.  I keep looking down at my ring and saying, “Did his really happen?!?!”  It really did.  Today, I woke up the same person that I went to bed as on Friday night, but somehow, everything is different.  The only thing that comes to mind is our favorite song, as song that us of our relationship, of our story, of our love…

Want To by Sugarland

I packed a cooler and a change of clothes
Let’s jump in, see how far it goes
You got my heart in your daddy’s boat
We’ve got all night to make it float

We could sit on the shore
We could just be friends
Or we could jump in

The whole world could change in a minute
Just one kiss could stop it spinning
We could think it through
But I don’t want to, if you don’t want to

We could keep things just the same
Leave here the way we came
with nothing to lose
But I don’t want to, if you don’t want to

I got your ring around my neck
and a couple of nights I don’t regret
You’ve got a dream of a degree and a shirt that smells like me

Yeah we both got dreams
we could chase alone
or we could make our own

The whole world could change in a minute
Just one kiss could stop it spinning
We could think it through
But I don’t want to if you don’t want to
We could keep things just the same
Leave here the way we came
with nothing to lose
But I don’t want to if you don’t want to

Never waste another day wonderin’ what you threw away
Holding me, holding you
I don’t want to, if you don’t want to

We could keep things just the same
Leave here the way we came with nothing to lose
But I don’t want to, if you don’t want to

But I want to
But I want you

WAITING FOR THE JUDGE

WAITING FOR THE JUDGE

WAITING FOR MY BEST GIRL

WAITING FOR MY BEST GIRL

WITH THE JUDGE

WITH THE JUDGE

WHEN I SAID "I DO" AFTER ALL THAT PRACTICE IT STILL DIDN'T SOUND PERFECT!

WHEN I SAID “I DO” AFTER ALL THAT PRACTICE IT STILL DIDN’T SOUND PERFECT!

I LOVE THAT GIRL!

I LOVE THAT GIRL!

MY FAVORITE PICTURE OF THE DAY

MY FAVORITE PICTURE OF THE DAY

wed11

wed12

MY RINGS

MY RINGS

WITH MY SIBLINGS

WITH MY SIBLINGS

WITH OUR CLOSEST FRIENDS

WITH OUR CLOSEST FRIENDS

HAD TO GET IN A FREE FEEL! FIGURED I WOULDN'T GET YELLED AT ON OUR WEDDING DAY...LOL

HAD TO GET IN A FREE FEEL! FIGURED I WOULDN’T GET YELLED AT ON OUR WEDDING DAY…LOL

TEMPORARY MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE

TEMPORARY MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE

wed8

BED REST NEVER LOOKED THIS GOOD!

BED REST NEVER LOOKED THIS GOOD!

Our Love Story

Two days shy of the day I marry the love of my life, and I can’t stop thinking about how I fell in love with her.  How when she walks into a room, even if there are hundreds of people in there, she is the only one I see.  I think about how she is laying in bed, making such a huge sacrifice to make sure that our 2 glorious little boys are kept safe and sound.  I remember how from the first time I met her, I gravitated towards her as if our hearts knew something that we weren’t privy to yet.  Some big old secret and plan to eventually see us together.  This is the story of how our love came to be.

I was in a relationship.  As married as you could be in NY at the time.  I had been in this relationship, trying to conceive with a women I knew wasn’t for me.  My heart always knew it, but my brain tried to make it work, because that’s what you do when you are “married”.  My ex-wife and I were invited to a BBQ at Callie’s best friend Jenny’s house.  Her best friends girlfriend was my biological brother (from my father’s side) lesbian sister Trudy.  We had a few beers, sat in a huge circle on the deck, played some badminton, and had a few burgers and hot dogs.  As the night started closing in on us, the fireflies set the mood, and the music had a bunch of drunken lesbians rapping along to B.I.G.’s “Juicy”, we decided to play a game of spade’s.  I had already seen Callie’s competitive nature during our not so friendly 2vs2 badminton match, and was surprised to see that no one wanted to play with her OR against her. “She’s CRAZY when it comes to spades!” “She REFUSES to lose!” “I can’t play with her crazy ass!” I, was totally up for the challenge.  I am a spades master after all! So we played together, all night, across from each other, high-fiving, laughing, telling jokes, and talking loads of crap. Loads and loads of crap!  We won, tons of times, and spent the next three hours in our seats at the table as pair after pair were spanked several times.  Spades Masters we were called.

We didn’t see each other for months, probably closer to a year.  We barely spoke.  I ended up calling my relationship quits, dissolving our domestic partnership, and moving out leaving my 2 fur baby puppies behind.  I ended up back home with my parents and attending an outpatient treatment program.  I was a wreck.  My life was in shambles.  I started a rebound pseudo-relationship.  It was great while it lasted I suppose.  We connected but something was just off, and after all of the hard work that I had put in during those 2 years working on myself, I wasn’t willing to settle.  I started hanging out with Trudy (my brothers sister) and hung out with Callie a time or two.  She asked if I had 4th of July plans, which I didn’t, and we ended up hanging out that day.  Her parents boat neighbor took his boat out and invited Callie, Jenny, Trudy and myself.  We spent the whole day talking crap, hanging out, drinking ice cold beer and smoking cigarettes.  There was something about her.  How easy our conversation was.  I loved the way she laughed .  She would start with a chuckle, then full belly laugh, but she would cover her mouth and you’d only be able to see her eyes over her ridiculously chubby little Vienna sausage fingers.  I actually told her that, and it’s become an ongoing joke.  She responded with, ” Just as ridiculous as that Spongebob watch!” ::Swoon:: She could trash talk with the best of them.  At one point, I was ready to go swimming, and she wasn’t ready yet.  I told her (in a very flirtatious but not trying to be flirtations way) that I’d hold her hand as we jumped in.  She hesitated but agreed.  At that very moment, I felt something. Holding her hand, I got a shiver down my spine.  A flash of a future with her.  Electricity.  About 2 years later, Callie told me that she had felt “a spark”, and she could tell by my expression at that very moment, that I had felt the same thing.  I went home afterwards, even though she had asked me to stay the night with her and the girls.  I knew, that was the beginning…

OUR FIRST DAY...AND CHECK OUT MY WATCH!

OUR FIRST DAY…AND CHECK OUT MY WATCH!

A few weeks later, I went on my annual camping trip with my closest friends.  It’s a rule that we are not to use electronics on this trip.Only twice a day it is allowed: 1)while we wait for everyone of us to be up, give or take an hour in the morning and 2) in the early evening when we all went down to the rec center to take our turns for showers, about another hour or so.  Callie had remember that I was going, and she sent me a Facebook message wishing me a good time. I didn’t have any reason to check FB considering that all my closest friends were there and I usually steered clear of social networking all together on our trips, but something kept beckoning me to check.  I have to admit, after I saw her  message, I spent most of the next 4 days formulating an excuse or another to go back to my tent and check my phone.  I wanted to talk to her so bad but I didn’t know why.  While away, my girlfriend Laura had text me that her parents caught her drunk again and were sending her off to a rehab center in Florida.  It was a devastating blow, but there wasn’t much I could do.  We tried long distance for about 2 months but that didn’t work out well.  Callie said we should hang out, so we did, as soon as I got back.  We “non-dated” for a while.  She would pick me up after program and we would go down to the dock, where we inevitably fell in love.  I knew I loved her about a month in, when we had plans to go fishing and it started pouring rain.  She told me we didn’t have to go since the weather was so crappy.  I told her fishing in the rain was one of my favorite things.  We sat on that dock, for hours, in the pouring rain, holding hands, joking around, and letting fish after fish free upon catching them.  We had a blast, and I was officially in love with the woman of my dreams.  Outdoorsy, funny, kind, loving, beautiful, a shit talking spades player who was ballsy, always speaks her mind, and never fails to surprise me.

OUR FAVORITE SPOT IN THE WHOLE WORLD.  WHERE WE FELL IN LOVE, WHERE WE FISHED IN THE RAIN, WHERE I PROPOSED, AND WHERE WE PLAN TO TEACH OUR BOYS TO SWIM AND FISH

OUR FAVORITE SPOT IN THE WHOLE WORLD. WHERE WE FELL IN LOVE, WHERE WE FISHED IN THE RAIN, WHERE I PROPOSED, AND WHERE WE PLAN TO TEACH OUR BOYS TO SWIM AND FISH

August 21st we had our first kiss, September 5th we went on our first real date to the bowling alley, and September 22, 2010 we made it official.  We spend that whole month laying in bed inside the cabin of her parents boat, catching up on Glee while Netflixing, eating PB&J’s at 3am, doing puzzles, playing scrabble, making out and talking until the sun came up.  She was everything I could have ever dreamed of.  Flashes of us as old ladies on the porch in rocking chairs waiting for our grandchildren, filled my head.  She was the one!

Years passed, our relationship flourished and I was ready to take it to the next level.  We wanted a big wedding but it was more important to start our family. We made plans to have our babies and the wedding would come later, but first I had to propose! And I did, with an amazing scavenger hunt that fills Callie’s eyes with tears every time she talks about it.  It’s been almost a year since that day.  In 2 days I get to marry and spend the rest of my life with the most amazing woman I know.  She keeps telling me how lucky she is to have me, but I keep reminding her that I am the lucky one.  I am the one that has been blessed beyond finding word to express.  I am filled with gratitude that God has sent me such an amazing soul to share my life with.  In 2 days, all of my dreams will be realized. There are many love stories, but ours is my favorite.

“Marrying Day” Plans and 25 Weeks

We’ve officially made it to 25 weeks (well, right now it’s 25w4 days).  I was a little late this week with our board (finished it on Sunday night) because we have been running around like crazy trying to find outfits for our “marrying day” (according to Mary).  We’ve bought Callie’s dress (which looks AMAZING and accents her baby bump perfectly, although I feel guilty about having seen her in it), and a new vest and bow tie for myself.  I have to say, when we have our “real” wedding, I am definitely going to Men’s Warehouse to buy/rent my tuxedo.  They didn’t even bat an eyelash when I said that we were getting married and that I was looking for a vest that fit well, but wasn’t too tight around the chest.  I love that they had a woman who was doing fittings as well.  All in all, it was a really pleasant experience (although a little more expensive than I was hoping for but what are you gonna do right?!)  We also went to look for rings with no success.  Everywhere that we went said it would take 1-2 weeks to have them resized, which isn’t going to work for us.  Standard in store size is a 7. Callie wears a 6 and I wear an 8.5.  We figured since we will probably have these rings indefinitely, we would at least spend a decent amount of money for them and make sure they are rings that we are happy with.  5 days later and still no rings.  We have one last stop before we just order the ones we want and have them delivered to us later on and just get sterling silver rings for our ceremony in the mean time.

We were just gonna go to City Hall and have a judge marry us, but we ended up deciding on having the judge come to our home and marry us there (it’s the same price so WHY NOT!?!).  We have some friends coming over and my siblings and are having a potluck style lunch.  We are fortunate that our closest friends and sibling were able to rearrange plans to accommodate our lesbian shotgun wedding, as so many of you bloggers have dubbed it.  It’s gonna be awesome, and I’m excited, nervous, scared, and beyond happy to be marrying Callie, my best girl and the love of my life, on Saturday 11/1/14 (1+1+1+1+4=8 and if you flip that sideways, it’s the symbol for infinity which reassures me even MORE that this is what is meant to be and happening just as it should)  Still sad our parents won’t be able to be there.

So how’s about those 25 weeks, huh?!?  Our little buddies are developing their startle reflexes.  They can totally get scared now if something falls and makes a loud bang that they weren’t expecting.  I think this is funny! I wanna scare them, but Callie said it’s not nice and that I should think about that, considering what a fraidy cat I am.  No seriously!  To this day I have never seen a Chuckie, Freddy Kruger, Halloween, or Friday the 13th movie…ever! And I never will!!! I have no idea what ANYONE did last summer, and I don’t care to find out either!  At this point, the boys are continuing their growth spurt and causing Callie to be “1st trimester tired” all over again.  They are getting some fat on their bodies, but they started that already considering that they are 2 little chubbas!  They are also developing surfactant which is a lipoprotein which will help the boys lungs breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide without their lungs collapsing.  If you ask me, I would say that’s pretty important! Also, their testes will be or already have descended into the scrotum.  I think that’s pretty important too! When I sent my friends the weekly chalkboard update Marco commented “Oh thank God those testes have descended! I was starting to worry!” which I thought was hilarious.  You know what else is hilarious!?!  Balls! LOL! Ok, get it together Sammie! These boys should be measuring in at about a pound and a half and about 13 inches long.  No wonder we really can feel those kicks ridiculously strong now.  Most people will catch a glimpse of them moving around under Callie’s shirt and can see them kicking and punching to get out.  Not yet little guys! Not yet! We still have a few more weeks.

COULDN'T CHOOSE SO I USED BOTH!

COULDN’T CHOOSE SO I USED BOTH!

25w2

We had a perinatologist appointment last Thursday and Callie’s cervix is doing worse than it was before.  It went from 1.97 to 1.94. It’s a really small change but if it continues to get shorter, it could potentially be a big problem.  The doctor made it very clear that she is to stay off of her feet until 34 weeks! He is concerned that the babies want to come and that Callie does too much.He was very specific.Our OB told us that she should be on bed rest and take it easy but this doctor was very specific.  If you tell a runner who runs 8 miles a day to take it easy, they may run about 6 instead.  He is saying “Run no miles lady!”…at all if you want to stay pregnant because at this rate, who knows how much longer they will stay in.  Good news is, she isn’t dilating or cramping and the contractions have slowed down a bit, although they are stronger than they were before.  I’m making sure that she isn’t doing anything at home with the exception of bathroom trips and switching from the bed to the couch.  When I’m not home? Well, that’s another story!   I just want my buddies to stay in there as long as they can, preferably 38 weeks.  Oh, and they love it when Mamá reads to them.  They wiggle, and roll, and move all over the place. I think they can recognize my voice now.  Callie says that they move a lot when I come home and start chatting and they haven’t heard my voice in a few hours.  I like to believe that!  So upcoming wedding, and completion of nursery this week and next.  No idea when the baby shower is but I’m almost certain that it’s coming in the next 2-3 weeks! Can’t wait!

MAMÁ READS TO CHUBBA AND BUDDY

MAMÁ READS TO CHUBBA AND BUDDY

You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do…

With the impending birth of our twins, Callie and I decided that it was our number one priority (this week) to get married.  Everything that has been going on with her cervix and contractions and the bleeding last week, we’re getting a little paranoid and a little nervous that these boys will be here sooner than we think and that I won’t legally be their mama.  I know that I probably still have to legally adopt my boys (although I don’t plan on going to Mississippi any time soon, I am hoping to take my kids to Disney in Florida at some point, and God forbid something happened down there, I wouldn’t be their parents.) but I also know that marriage equality and reform has at ton of momentum right now and it’s all inevitably going to change.  FINALLY!   With all of that said, this >>>>>>

MARRIAGE LICENSE

MARRIAGE LICENSE

happened yesterday afternoon.  We got out Marriage License, and we are getting a few things together for our friends to come here on Saturday 11/1/2014 and have a little shindig at the waterfront park across the street from out apartment complex.  We’ll probably just go out to dinner and not really do anything major (since our plans are to have a bigger wedding when the boys are here) except maybe game night and beer/wine at our apartment.  I’m a little sad that my parents won’t be back from their 39 day excursion in Europe (they are seriously partying it up in super gay Mykonos, Greece which they are LOVING! “O my gah! All deh peoples is so nice ovah he-yah eng ebrybah-dee es un GAY! PARRTYYY!”), but you gotta do what you gotta do…

In 2 weeks time, I will be legally married to the woman of my dreams, the mother of my children, my best friend, and the love of my life…

DIN# D.A.D…

A DIN# is the the Department Identification Number given to inmates in the custody of the New York State Department of Corrections.  It is a number that is given to those who need access to an inmate, either on a visiting day or by corresponding through written snail mail. 07***03 belongs to my father.  My biological father that I know nothing about.  The father, that in my 31 years of life, I have only seen twice and written to a handful of times.  A father who barely knows anything about me, let alone all of the exciting things that have been going on in my life as of recent.

My whole life, I grew up in a home where my parents were the center of my life.  I have an amazing mother and a wonderful father that took me in at age 2 when he was only 17 years old, and raised me like his own.  To this day, that’s my Papi, my Papá, my Daddy, and no one will ever take his place.

Yesterday was my nephew Andy’s 2 year birthday party.  He is my brother Harry’s son, my only brother from my biological father.  We met the week before fathers day, on a 100+ degree day in mid-June 6 years ago.  Since then, our relationship has flourished and he has allowed me the opportunity to share in his life.  He has blessed me with a sister-in-law that I love and adore, a gorgeous and funny niece, and a handsome and ridiculously smart nephew.

ANDY

ANDY

SADIE

SAYDIE

Both of our relationships with our father is incredibly strained, and futile at best.  While at my brother’s home, I noticed a photo on his refrigerator.  It was a Polaroid of my brother, my father, and myself taken those 6 years ago, on Father’s day, when we decided to take the trip upstate, and visit our father for the first time at his correctional facility.  It was all really overwhelming, but what was even more overwhelming was how fate played a huge role in making that long awaited for day take place.

Some 13 years ago, my maternal uncles wife was the instructor of a step aerobics class at a small karate studio some 5 miles or so from where my family lives.  A few women attended the class weekly, 2 of which were my uncles 2nd or 3rd cousins.  This aunt, (let’s just call her PB for Psycho Bitch, but that’s for a whole other blog post!) had no clue the relation between her husband and these women.  One day my uncle goes to PB’s class to drop off some stuff for one of their 4 daughters game, and is greeted by none other than his 2 long lost cousins that he hasn’t seen since he was a teenager.  They get to chatting and asking about each others families and all the siblings and rest of the cousins, being that they lost touch around the time that my mother was pregnant with me.  She asked about me, my mother, and if I had seen my biological father lately.  My uncle responded with, “What father?! She knows who her father is!”  (All of my aunts and uncles are very protective of my relationship with my stepdad {i only use step-dad for the sake of not confusing anyone during this post})  The cousin replies, “Well, I know where he is! He is married to the cousin of my cousin, and in the Dominican Republic!”. PB was intrigued and started asking the questions about my bio father every week (you can see already the beginnings of why no one in my family speaks to nosy ass PB).  A few months later, I am at a friends house, in a drunken stupor, playing our 5th round of “Sequence”, and listening to depressing love songs and a ton of slow jams, and my phone rings with a weird 718 number that I don’t recognize.  I asked my friend to answer it..

“Sammie’s Phone!”

“Yes, I look for Samantha Leyba”

“If you mean Samantha Mendez then, yeah, how can I help you?”

“Jew Samantha? I calling frong jew father.  Thees eh his seester.  I call for Samantha.”

“Hold on please….(wide eyed and mouth agape) HOLY SHIT Sammie! This lady on the phone claims to be your aunt!  From. Your. Father’s. Side!!!”

Cue racing heart! I had always thought about that day, but you can imagine how conflicted I was when it actually happened.  What’s my {step}dad gonna think?  How am I going to explain to him that no one would ever take his place?! How do I tell my mom that I am actually going to meet these people, this other side of me that I never even bothered to think existed?  How would I feel once I met them? How would I react to their sudden affection and questions about my life?! Was I ready to come out to these people?  Was I ready to let them in? All of these questions started flying through my head the second that I got off the phone with her.  All I got from the conversation was that they lived in the Bronx, they would all be together (my 2 aunts, 3 uncles, a slew of cousins) that coming Saturday, they would be beyond excited if I went, and the they had been looking for me for so many years with no success.

I go to the store, I buy a new outfit, I get my hair braided, and I prepare myself for the emotional mess that I would probably be that Saturday.  I show up, and walk into a room filled with people embracing me and welcoming me into this huge extended family.  I meet my aunts and my uncles, and I immediately see the resemblance.  We all have the same nose! My whole life I wondered about my nose, and now I knew the answer.  We sit and chat and they ask questions for the better part of an hour.  They shove a plate of food in my face but I am too anxious and nervous to eat.  I pick at chicken and rice.  The door bell rings.  Everyone’s faces freeze in time and look directly at me.  My aunt gets up to answer the door.  She tells me, “Ven aquí”, come here, and I make my way to the door.  As she opens the door, it’s like looking into a mirror.  My face is reflected back at me, and I knew.  I knew right away that it was my brother.  We looked at each other and ran and hugged, both sobbing hysterically.  He’s feeling my hair, and touching my face, and I do the same. “Is this real?!?!” “You’re my brother/sister?!?!?”  “Is this happening!” “We have the same nose!” “Our eyes are the same color” “Look at your hair so curly like mine” “We were gonna call the radio station to look for you!”.  The words are coming out a mile a minute.  Our family watches on with tears in their eyes.  We meet.  Finally.  Without me even knowing that he existed and i had missed him.  Terribly.  We talk and make plans to see our father the next day, Father’s Day 2008.

HARRY AND I TWINNING

HARRY AND I TWINNING

The next day, we meet up early, and make the 1hr 40 minute trek to the correctional facility.  Our father has no idea we are coming.  He doesn’t even know we have met or that they found me.  We get scanned, head in to a large room filled with white tables and blue plastic chairs that look like elementary school chairs but super-sized.  We wait facing the door where the inmates come in.  Every man that steps forwards could be him, but we somehow knew it wasn’t.  When our father walked in, we squeezed the others hand because we knew.  We stood up, and we walked towards us, tucking in his shirt, fidgeting with his pants, and standing straight and tall seeing his two grown children waiting for him for the first time in God knows how long.  He hesitated and then hugged us.  We all cried, but our reunion was cut short with a reminder of, “That’s enough physical contact inmate!” It was awkward and weird, and filled with a ton of truths that I’m still not so sure I’m ready to hear, but it began a relationship with my brother that I cherish, and a relationship with my father that is a constant work in progress.  I left that day feeling confused, hurt, loved, connected, disjointed.  The ride home was a quiet one as the space between my brother and I danced with the ghost of our lives before this day in the sunlight of our futures together.

The reason I am writing about this is to find some clarity and remember the hope that I felt that day.  I’ve been struggling with letting him know that he is going to be a “grandfather”.  That there are these two beautiful little creatures on their way into this crazy world.  I feel like I am betraying my {step}dad even though he is probably the only grandfather they will know for at least the next 10 years.  But I look at my brother.  He told our father about the kids, and went to see him twice, but nothing has changed.  They are still grandfatherless kids. He doesn’t call.  He doesn’t write.  He doesn’t send birthday or Christmas cards.  Will anything really be different? Will anything really change  I hope that thinking this through calms my anxiety a bit, and I find some clarity and courage to write the words to him that I need to write and express.  My boys will have their “Wito” (short for Abuelito) and they will have Harry Sr. who they probably won’t ever remember seeing.  The worst part is, it’s not like my {bio}dad doesn’t want a relationship with us.  It can just be incredibly tedious and frustrating to foster a new relationship from behind 4 iron gates and cement walls. For now, I will write to him, with my heart and share good news that he probably needs to hear…his little girl is having 2 little boys.