TYPICAL TODDLERS

 

 

 

 

 

Grant and Maria are 22 months old today and I guess I will soon stop counting their age in months.  They are changing every day and definitely like their improved ability to communicate.  Some of our daily conversations go like this:

“Maria, do you want to wear these pants?”    – “No”

“What about these?”  – “No”

“These?” – “Yeah, yeah, yeah!”  Gray skinny jeans it is.

“Grant, are you hungry?”   – “Yeah”

“Let’s get in your seat so you can eat.”   – “No”

“If you are hungry you have to be in your seat to eat.  Are you hungry?”  – “No”

In addition to having her preferences on clothes, Maria has opinions about her hair.  Those conversations are something like this:

“Pretty?” Maria asks pointing to her hair.

“Do you want to fix your hair?”  – “Yeah”

“Do you want pig tails?”  – “No”

“Do you want one tail on top?”  – “Yeah”  Top knot it is.

All in all, they are very typical toddlers.

    • Some days they eat like pigs and some days they don’t eat enough to sustain a bird.
    • The word “no” is frequently used by all parties.
    • Can you say battle of wills?  Grant tried to throw his bowl on the floor the other day, so I took it from him.  He started screaming.  I told him he couldn’t get his bowl back unless he stopped screaming.  He screamed for several minutes until he realized I was serious.  He stopped crying and got his bowl back.  Score one for Mommy!
    • Maria is good at stall tactics at bedtime.  Read, nurse, say good night to Daddy (again), ask for NoNo (my mom) and repeat. Thankfully, the last four nights have not included tears.  She seems to have gotten over her nighttime anxiety over me being out of town.
    • They love to read, dance, jump, run, climb, etc.  We’ll do whatever it takes to wear them out!

A GOOD QUESTION

 

 

 

 

 

Blog follower Michelle writes: “I always enjoy reading your posts and everyone else’s that is involved in the blog. I wanted to get your opinion … I am a mom who donated our embryos. We are very close to the family and we have seen our “embryo” that we donated when she was 3 months old and again just a few months ago. (She is now 4 years old and our twins are 6 years old). I ordered the Training Wheels book in hopes that this could be a good book to help our twins understand what we did and why we did it and who this special friend and special family really is to them. Unfortunately I was disappointed in the ending of the book when the boy asks his mom “is Mike my brother” and the mom says “no, more like a special friend.” To me this is not truthful and more confusing to the children and they should know the truth and I was really hoping to get a book that could help explain all of this to our twins instead, I am back to how do we explain this to our twins like I was before I got the book. What are your thoughts on this and did you go any further in telling your twins about who the Cassidy’s are besides the books way of saying ‘special friend?‘”

In response to this question, I thought lots of people would like to hear the answer as well.

I tell the twins, which I do not think they are old enough to fully understand, that the Cassidy boys are genetically their brothers; however, they do not live with them and therefore, do not have a relationship that is like a sibling, but more like a cousin or “special friend.” We call them by their first name, such as Ryan, Joel or Chad. I do sometimes call Patty’s sister “Aunt Cathy,” I have never asked her how she felt about that, but Patty’s kids call her that so we have joined in as well. My kids also have called a few people Grandma and Grandpa who are not in that role, but since other people called them that they joined in. I think the best thing to come up with how you want to call that person and ask them if that is ok by them. Some adopted children call the genetic mother, “my birth Mom.” In our situation that is not the case and I do not think “genetic Mom,” works for me. Patty and I talked about this and we felt just calling each other by name worked for us. No matter what you call the “other” family, I feel that it is very important to be as truthful as you can be related to what they are able to understand. I think if you make things “lighter” than they are the children at one point may see that as a lie, then trust is broken.

Just the other day, we were on our way to Julian’s Karate class and he said that Natalie did not look like anyone in the family, because she has brown eyes and he has green eyes like Daddy and Mommy. Natalie let him know that I, “Mommy” has blue eyes! I did take that time to tell them that neither one of them had eyes like Mommy nor Daddy since they were genetically from Patty and Jim and that is who’s eyes they have. But then I went on to tell them that my eyes change from blue to green, so some times Julian and I do have the same color eyes and that Natalie has beautiful brown eyes like cousin Julianna and cousin Brooke. That even though they may not look like us it does not change our love for them. I asked them if they still loved Dad even though he has blonde hair and we all have dark hair. Natalie was first to pipe in that she loves Daddy so much! Love is not dependent on what we look like nor who’s genes we have, but how we treat each other.

Julian is only three years old and is figuring out genetics. I do not understand those who try and keep “adoption” a secret from their children. If a three year old can figure it out, then I am sure it could come to light at some point in the child’s life. Once you tell an untruth, it is very hard to go back. So that is why I am straightforward and do not sugar coat anything. If I felt uncomfortable answering something, I would just say, I think that will be better discussed when you are a bit older, than trying to make things sound the way I may want them to be.

When I have questions about things such as these, I look to the Bible for my answers. I am also reminded of the little saying my Mom would say, such as “O, what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.” For me, not telling the whole truth is the same as telling a lie. If I want my kids to tell me the whole truth then I will also have to tell them the whole truth as well, regardless of the consequences. It is my prayer that I can live up to this.

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians, 3:9-10)

WEANING

My little man has weaned. I knew it was coming, just wasn’t sure how I would feel about it. He started showing less interest in nursing before I left town. He would go a day or two without any at all, then take a quick nip and be satisfied. I figured my extended absence would probably be the end of nursing for him. When I got home, the first thing Maria wanted to do was nurse. Grant looked at me like he might be interested and I asked if he wanted to, but he said no. Fair enough. These days, his nighttime routine consists of several books then quiet cuddle time with me. I’m glad he’s still interested in that. He will sometimes look longingly when Maria nurses and I always ask or offer, but he always turns it down. I think he likes the option even if he’s not going to take it. Twenty-one months was a pretty good run.

Maria, on the other hand, is not interested in giving up totally. The only thing she has given up is the right side. When I was gone, I would still pump once a day and figured out why the right side was boycotted…it took a LONG time to get anything, then its production was minimal. I’ve declared that well closed and remarkably, I’m not lopsided. My production is a couple of ounces at best, which pales in comparison to the upwards of 16 ounces I once regularly produced.

For Maria, nursing is a comfort thing more than a hunger thing. When nursing she spends a lot of time talking to me rather than actually getting any milk, but she does not want me to close the buffet and if she wakes in the middle of the night it’s her number one request and the quickest way for us to go back to bed. She has struggled with going to sleep since I’ve been home and last night Jeremy asked her if she was scared that I wasn’t going to be home if she went to bed…she replied yes. He tried to reassure her, but I think it’s just going to take time. So, while my extended absence was the end for Grant, it seems to be encouraging Maria to nurse more than she did before I left.

I’m thankful we’ve had this long in our nursing relationship. Those early days of nursing two were so difficult, especially with our start in the NICU, and I honestly couldn’t imagine we would have made it this long. However, after we overcame the early challenges, it was much easier and hugely beneficial for all three of us. I’m glad they didn’t wean at the exact same time. I know Maria’s day will come, but I won’t rush her.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

I recently saw a blog post about fertile couples and embryo adoption that was interesting to me. The blogger told about a woman who easily had two genetic children was interested in completing their family through adoption. After investigating domestic infant adoption and realizing how many couples are waiting for babies, they started looking into embryo adoption. The reasoning for EA was because of the commonly used statistic of nearly 500,000 frozen embryos in the United States and they wanted to help. The blogger’s concern was how that while there may be hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos, only a very few of those are actually available for adoption, and that fertile couples just wanting to “help” could be limiting opportunities for those who are unable to conceive on their own.

I have several thoughts on this:

• If it weren’t for a “fertile” couple that later decided to add to their family through embryo adoption because they felt called to honor life at perhaps its most vulnerable state, we might not have Grant and Maria. Because of this couple’s decision, the option of embryo adoption became a very real possibility for us. Previously, I was really only considering international adoption and the process and cost were terrifying and overwhelming to me.

• I think whatever motivates a person to investigate is positive. You just never know where a path might lead. After investigating and they learn that the number of available embryos is much less than the number actually frozen, they might go another direction or they might realize that this really is the way they are meant to complete their family.

• Additionally, as more people learn about embryo adoption it might encourage those with remaining embryos to donate theirs to allow another family to be complete. I know of several people who had remaining embryos who didn’t know this option existed until they found out about how Grant and Maria came to be our children.

• Adoption, no matter the type, shouldn’t be limited to only those who are infertile. While this wasn’t suggested in the blog, it was implied. What is wrong with adopting a child or an embryo even if the initial motivation is to help? At the end of the day, you truly have to want another child or children to go through all the hoops that are involved with adoption.

I don’t know about you, but I get excited anytime I hear about any couple adopting, whether they have genetic children or not. Adoption takes a lot of courage and commitment. Adoption is a gift and shouldn’t be limited.

TRAINING WHEELS

Last week we got the book “Training Wheels” in the mail, a book about embryo adoption. The twins were very excited to get a book in the mail so we sat down to read it. As I read it, I also related their story to it as we went through the book. I explained how the different characters in the book were also like, Mommy, Daddy, them and Patty and Jim Cassidy. After I finished reading the book I asked Julian what he thought about it and he replied, “I want to go back to Disney World and see the Cassidy family!” I decided I like how he thinks!

Last year at this time we were getting ready to go to Disney World and we wish that was the case this year too! But we are looking forward to seeing the Cassidy family this summer. Plans have not been completely made, but we do plan on seeing each other one way or another. The twins are talking so much more now and just say the cutest things.

Just this morning Natalie was praying before breakfast and while she was doing that Julian was reaching for money on the bar. When she got done she told Julian that he was not “being sensible.” That he needed to have his hands folded. She also told him today to stop pooping in his pants that she did not want to change poop anymore! He did not poop in his pants at that time, but later he did. Natalie knows him well. Just got to love her! Julian is very close to being potty trained and we are very proud of him and hope that it continues. Maybe by the time we see the Cassidy family this summer we will be able to celebrate being potty trained as well as all the wonderful changes in the twins this past year.

HOME SWEET HOME

My tenure in purgatory has ended. We finished contract negotiations Thursday evening and I made it home Friday afternoon. After spending 9 of the previous 12 nights gone, I was ready to be home. The babies were napping when I arrived, which provided a brief period of rest on the couch with my cat, who apparently also missed me as she was purring louder than the dog was snoring.

Jeremy and I decided to let him get them when they woke up and allow me to be a surprise in the living room. When he went in, he said “Guess who is home?” Maria excitedly said “Mommy?!” and I soon saw her turn the corner and she was in her best straight arm and leg run toward me. She didn’t slow down and wrapped herself around me. She got into nursing position, tugged on my shirt and said “HI!” with a huge grin on her face. Grant was right behind her and gave me his signature grin, but was distracted by my suitcase and needed to investigate. The bliss of my return home was short lived though. In no time, I was propelled back into the reality of two almost two-year-olds.

This is reality:

• Grant has a cold and was running a fever. He coughed so hard that he threw up all over both of us. He soon wanted nothing but my lap and did not want to share me with Maria, which doesn’t exactly go over well.

• Maria fell holding one of her puzzles and the corner of the puzzle skinned the area between her lips and nose.

• In order to try to bring down Grant’s fever, we ran a lukewarm bath for him. He screamed the whole time.

• While I was rocking Grant, Jeremy gave Maria a warmer bath. It must have been very relaxing as she took a massive dump chock full of blueberries. I would spend part of my time between getting them to bed and eating dinner cleaning the tub and toys.

• I managed to get two 10-minute trainer videos before dinner. These are a saving grace on days when I can’t get work in any other physical activity.

• Just as we were getting ready to enjoy a quiet dinner together, my cat threw up her dinner.

• No sooner did we finish eating and were getting ready to put our heads down on the couch, Grant coughed himself and Maria awake. We spent about 20 minutes returning the nursery to silence.

Admittedly, while I did not like being gone, having only myself to care for is much easier. However, I’m so thankful to be back at home reading Green Eggs and Ham and Hippos Go Berserk over and over and over again.

CELEBRATE EVERY DAY WE HAVE

This past Saturday was Brian’s brother’s memorial service. It was nice to hear so many stories about Evan and how he meant so much to so many. It is often the little things that we will miss about someone when they are gone. I want to take in and enjoy every day I have with my children because I know they go by so fast, but sometimes it is just hard to enjoy every minute.

This past Wednesday I fell stepping out of my sister’s door while holding Natalie. I went down on my knees ripping my corduroy pants, twisting my ankle and hitting Natalie’s head. Natalie was fine, I took most of the hit and I have to say it hurt really bad. The next day I was still in pain and I was short with the twins and moaned as I walked or got up and down from a sitting position.

Then Brian got sick the day of Evan’s service. He was coughing and throwing up. He was not in the best of moods besides the obvious circumstances and I was still in pain from the fall. Then Monday the kids were in bad moods because they were coughing, but thankfully not throwing up!

Some days, I just have to get through. But most days I really treasure. As more and more people I love die, I am reminded that when life is over all others will have is memories of us together. Today the twins and I took our first picnic outside for the New Year. After Julian’s karate class we came home and did an art project. Natalie just kissed me twice while I was coloring with her. She is not one to give kisses, so it was a real treat! She said she just loved for me to color with her. That is a moment I pray I will never forget. I too loved to color with my father and I see those days as some of the best memories I have of him, since he died when I was six. I know all too well how short life is and some days I do better than others trying to make the most of each second I have here. Many of my life circumstances (death of loved ones and infertility) cause me to treasure each day and my children. May we all take a moment to hug our loved ones more closely and celebrate every day we live.