Thursday, January 03, 2008

Baby Sister

So… the scoop about “Baby Sister”!!! I’m at 21 weeks; halfway through the pregnancy now. Mostly what I remember about the first trimester was it being one long, 3-month, delirius-blurry-hazey-fog of nausea mixed with desperate exhaustion. (The two photos below, both from late September, pretty much sum it up for me: napping as much and as often as possible, sometimes with K & O... and seriously blurry mornings). Obviously I knew that everyday millions of women around the world are pregnant under extremely much worse circumstances than me, and I reminded myself of that multiple times a day, but those first 10-12 weeks were just plain rough around here nonetheless-- me working more than full-time (with my tenure case decision in the middle of it), Braydon working waaaay more than full-time, two rambunctious 3-year-olds running us ragged, and me just hoping that: 1) I'd get through each of my lectures and meetings without having to run out of the room to puke, and 2) I'd be able to get through the day without falling asleep at the wheel [literally and figuratively]. I remember thinking to myself often, “If Tara Livesay can do this in Haiti with lots more kids than I have, then I can do this here without complaining about it!” (Hi Tara!) I also remember the first trimester being exciting too. Suffice it to say, it is strange to go through a first pregnancy, but with two kids already! Being over 35 I'm considered a "high risk pregnancy" so I have been getting the best of everything plus tons of extra attention and appointments from the best doctors in our area. Knock on wood--- it has been really a terrific experience so far.

I think so often of what it must have been like for Kyle and Owen’s birthmother when she was pregnant with them. She is on my mind a lot anyway, but during this pregnancy I think of her pretty constantly. And I talk about her at just about every doctor’s appointment I attend. I tell the doctors how grateful I am for what we have, how appalled I am at the disparities of the medical systems across the globe. They surely think I’m nuts. But I can’t help myself. I am in awe at the medical establishment we have. Every time I’m hooked up to an ultrasound machine (even though I’m 100% healthy and the baby is too, because of being “high risk” I’ve already had four!), every time they draw blood, every time they test my urine, every time they put me on the scale, every time we listen to the heartbeat, I think of K & O’s birthmother. I wonder what it would be like to be in Haiti, in Cite Soleil, on the streets, with nothing—not even a mattress—and to be pregnant. Not to mention, to be pregnant with twins. No doctor. No tests. No pre-natal vitamins. No ultrasounds. And I think of other things too--- like what it must be like to be pregnant in a place where there is extremely limited (if any) clean drinking water available, and what it must be like to have to struggle to find food—and to be forced to survive on only rice and beans (on a good day) and/or mud cakes (on a bad day) and/or absolutely nothing (on the worst days). I am so spoiled with my cute new wardrobe from GapMaternity, and my snuggly Boppy Pregnancy Pillow (the best invention ever, by the way! and the best "Happy Pregnancy" gift Braydon ever could have given me!), and my mega grocery store 10 minutes away where Braydon can run to at any time of day or night to get me anything – absolutely anything – I could possibly need or want. It is shameful – not because of what we have here, but because of what they don’t have there, and because of how the two go hand-in-hand. I wonder what it would be like to be her. I ache in my chest for her. I wonder what it would be like to be a baby (or two) growing inside of her. The baby inside of me has been sucking on her hand during our past two ultrasounds. She’s swimming around happily in there without a care in the world. The contrasts are almost more than my mind can bear.
We found out Friday that it is a girl! We didn’t care whether it was a boy or girl, but I was hoping for a girl just to switch things up around here a bit. (Plus, I'm Woman enough to admit it: I can't wait to dress a girl!!!) We had waited until then to tell K & O about the baby—we wanted to get through Christmas before the real countdown-to-baby began. We also wanted to be able to tell them if it was a boy or a girl—thinking it would make it much less abstract for them. I’m so glad we waited. It has been such a joy to share this with them!
They are beyond thrilled. They seem to understand it all much more than I expected that they would. I was worried that they’d be asking 100 times a day about when the baby was coming, but they aren’t—they understand she’s coming in the spring, in May. We told them the baby is going to be born “after their birthday” and they totally get it (I am praying that she waits until then!!! Their birthday is May 8 and Baby is due May 15). Kyle immediately made the mental leap: “I’m having a baby sister when I’m four!!!” he announced. “Yes!” I said. And he’s been repeating that over and over since. True to their word from previous months and years of their begging for a baby, neither of them seem to care in the slightest about the gender—they’re happy to have a sister and have never even hinted at questioning that. They know her name but we’re keeping her name quiet, something just for us to know, until she is born.
Owen is nothing but ecstatic about this new chapter unfolding. He comes to me numerous times a day to press his head and cheeks to my belly. His favorite thing to do is to ‘zerbert’ the baby (by zerberting my belly). If I laugh he reprimands me very seriously: “Don’t laugh Mommy. I’m not zerberting YOU! I’m zerberting BABY SISTER!!!!” He has many, many questions about how she’ll get out. We answer every question (and believe me, there are many!), trying to be as up-front and age-appropriate as humanly possible. His biggest concern is that I will “pee” on Baby Sister when she is being born. He tells me many times a day “Be careful you don’t pee pee on her! Mommy, you can’t pee pee on her when she’s getting born!!!” He also asks a lot about how she got in there. One of the first things he asked was, “You swallowed her?” We struggle with answering these questions, but we’re trying the best we can. It is so complicated with adoption added into the mix—they’re just starting to comprehend the reality of their birthmother… the idea of entering a man into the mix just seems overwhelming at this point. I’ve told Owen that “a man and a woman grow the baby –so tiny at first you can’t even see it- inside the woman’s belly.” He just looks at me dazed and confused. And then rams his head into my belly to zerbert Baby Sister again. Owen tells us about all the things he will do with the baby. He will “change her poopie diapers!”; “teach her to crawl!”; “read books to her!”; “help give her a bath!”; and of course… “HOLD HER!!!”
Kyle, as I totally had predicted, takes everything to a whole other level. He is very happy about the baby. But he articulates often his sadness about not having grown in my belly. “I don’t want to be born in another lady’s belly, I want to be in YOUR belly, with Owen.” I feel deeply sad for him; his grief over this is so genuine. He tells us that “it was scary” to be in another lady’s belly. We assure him that his birthmother was “so special” and that she was “so careful” and that he was inside growing with Owen. The solace this (that he and Owen were together in her belly) gives Kyle is truly indescribable. He is so comforted with hearing about this over and over—how two twin babies grow together in one belly. This seems to be the only thing that gives him relief- and it is a true deep relief for him. Most of the time, though, he’s grinning ear-to-ear about the whole thing. He cannot wait to get out his old crib from the attic and set it up in what will become the baby’s new room. He wants to know when we can do this. The sooner the better as far as he's concerned. I’m not sure how long we’ll be able to hold off on it because he wants to do it so badly. Kyle tells us about all the things that he’ll make sure the baby does not do. He is very clear about the rules! “She can’t play with our toys!!! Because she might try to eat them!” and “She can’t eat our food!!! Because she might choke!” and “She can’t read our books!!! Because she’ll be too little!”

We took them for our first baby clothes shopping at Baby Gap in Doylestown on Monday. It was so symbolic because this is where Braydon and I went to buy our first clothes for K & O the day after we got our referral. That seems like just yesterday and I can vividly remember exactly what we picked out for them. It was a sweet, sweet moment to go buy Baby Sister’s first two outfits with the Big Brothers. They each picked out one outfit. Kyle spotted a jean jumper and was very excited about it: “OVERALLS!!!” and that was it— he couldn’t look at one other item in the store (overalls are K & O’s favorite things to wear), so a tiny jean-overalls-dress with a pink t-shirt was what he bought her. Owen found literally the most expensive dress and sweater set in the entire store. It is an absolutely precious white summer dress with embroidered flowers, and a beautiful pale green cardigan that goes with it. What can I say? The boy has good taste! I found it very interesting that they both chose dresses – very girly outfits – and seem to totally embrace the potential girly-girly-girly-ness of Baby Sister. At age three I would have expected that they’d try to find clothes that they would like to wear, or that seemed familiar to them. But no, it was all about the dresses.


Driving home from the Gap on Monday I brought up for the first time what she might look like. “What color eyes do you think she’ll have?” I asked. They thought about this long and hard in the backseat of the car. Kyle said, “She’ll have brown eyes, just like me and Owen.” Owen thought even longer about that. “I think she’ll have dark blue eyes. Not light blue. Dark blue.” He said. “What color hair?” I asked. They answered this quickly. Kyle said, “Red.” Owen agreed: “Red.” (?!) “And what color skin do you think she’ll have?” This had them seriously stumped. Owen finally said “Yellow!” And Kyle thought that sounded right, “Yes, yellow!” he said. I pushed it a little. “Do you think her skin will look like Mommy and Papi’s? or like Kyle and Owen’s?” They thought and thought about this but never answered. “Yellow” they repeated… and then I understood (or at least I think I do)… yellow is sort of a mix for them, halfway between their brown and our white. So there you have it. The scoop on Baby Sister.


Nicole said...

Wow! You do such a great job of sharing your heart. I found this blog from another Haiti adoption blog and just had to speak up. We adopted siblings- age 4 and 6 when they came home- from Haiti. Then had the shock of our lives and now have a 4 month old. I was in tears several times when I was pregnant thinking about being pregnant in Haiti and knowing I would never be able to care for 2 more children. And you are exactly right, it is almost ridiculous everything we have here in comparison. babies r us made me cry, just looking at all the things for specific baby needs, then remembering that my Haitian kids' mom had nothing, literally nothing. In fact, she was also from Citi Soleil.

Anyway, be prepared the questions will continue, long after the baby is born. My daughter who is now 9 asked me if I loved Nathan more because he is my "real" son. We have never used that term- always referring to their mom as their first mom or Haitian mom... it is heartbreaking to even imagine her thinking that, but I am so grateful she asked.

Thanks for sharing your story so eloquently! May your pregnancy go well and good luck with your growing family!

Marcy "meg" said...

What a great story, thanks so much for sharing. I know Kyle and Owen will make excellent big brothers! said...

Oh Heather, you know I have been waiting for this post. My heart was racing as I read each and every word. I was crying tears of happiness for you. I can't imagine what you must be feeling but I know how it made my heart shine as you described the last couple of months. Take care my sweet friend. I'm so happy for you and Braydon.

Much love Rony

Mayhem said...

Wonderful, wonderful! The pregnancy, your kiddos, your blog... I'm so happy for you. The boys' thoughts and reactions are fascinating.

Isabella's Mommy & Daddy said...

Love the post...
The boys are going to love their little sister to pieces..
Glad you are doing well..
I will continue to follow your amazing journey..
The boys are adorable..

Story of our Life said...

Again, Congrats!!
I had to chuckle at your comments.
At 3 1/2 K and O are SOO concrete. I have twin neices that are the same age. Their "baby" is due ....the same week as yours.
Last week the girls went to the first u/so w/mommy. El says to the tech "why is my baby ORANGE" Em says " are you going to take that baby out...TODAY?" And the funnies continue.

Get a journal. Write everything down!! You will be glad you did.

:) Take Care

Trish said...

I hold on to every word, picturing K & O taking it all in. And you too.
Hugs my dear friend.

Bek said...

How wonderful. I also remember the first trimester as a haze (and I only have one three year old...). It is nice to be in the second trimester where you feel good but aren't huge. I just hit 30 weeks and am starting to feel huge... no more carrying big boys around.

Yay for girls. Although I didn't adopt from Haiti, I can say that pregnancy after adoption take a bit of a different flavor. I think of my African friends and wonder how they do it...

Congrats and lots of big blessings and good health to your family. Great news!!!

P.S. My older kids can't quite get their head around that this one won't be a "brown" baby. I don't think they will believe it until they see it.

T&T Livesay said...

This is all so wonderful!!!!

Don't think for ONE SECOND that I did not complain ... I joked on the blog, I complained to my family. There are some tough times in a pregnancy and complaining is a coping mechanism --- I will agree with you though, to think about living in a dirt shack without any help ... now that is an amazing thing those women do--- crazy crazy tenacity they ALL exhibit --- It is indeed hard to imagine it.

So thrilled with your news and your stories.


Jess said...

Great post - LOL about "don't pee pee on her."

As a kid, I read "Where Did I Come From." That book seems to have disappeared, but I recommend in its place, "It's Not The Stork."

Glad you're past the halfway mark!

This Mama said...

CONGRATS you guys - I JUST read this post, JUST got you amazing news. How wonderful , I am so excited for you guys. Your little sweetheart is just going to love her big brothers, I can just imagine them being so wonderful with a little one (I've thought that before of them when you posted on a maybe we will, maybe we won't expand the family a while back).
Take care & I am so glad you are through that first trimester, I had horrible morning (acctually evening) sickness with my 2 girls as well.

Wendy Huning said...

Heather, your sense of sisterhood with women living in unbearable conditions really touches me! I believe that this kind of sensitive reflecting, this ability to imagine a life that is very different from your own with compassion, is an action that creates links in our world. While the links may be invisible they are very real and I believe that somehow, Kyle and Owen's birthmother "receives" your compassion.
Best wishes for the new life in your family! Wendy

Amy said...

Congrats! I wondered if this announcement might be coming. Take care of yourself, Heather.

laurafingerson said...

Oh boy do I know what it is like to spend a pregnancy exhausted in bed! We had a pregnancy blog where there was a series of photos of just my hair peeking out of the covers since that is all I did. I was *so* sick of sleeping and being in bed by the end of the pregnancy! Ug, I still cringe and it has been over 2 years. And, that was in the middle of full-time professoring, trying for tenure, etc...... And no other kids! I feel for you!! And complain away! Anyone who has been pregnant or close to a pregnant woman is totally sympathetic.

CONGRATULATIONS!! On your pregnancy (a girl!) and sharing it with the world! (The girl clothes are soooooooo cute!)

wendy said...

Congratulations! I am so happy for your family.

Wendy from Flippin' Sweet

happy mom said...

congratulations, very exciting and I am excited to read all the experiences. it is a different road to go down, I have a slightly similiar but more of a whirl wind one, but wonderful still. It is strange to be pregnant for the first time after adopting two other children, since most peoples first pregnancy is before they have other children. and it is wonderful to have boy and girl children, the best of both worlds. Although I have been through much of this I have a feeling I will learn from your experience, a lot. you are an excelent writer and very helpful to me. thanks

Greg Palmer said...

Congratulations Heather and Braydon and Kyle and Owen! What wonderful news!

erin said...

OMG, your boys are way too cute. Congrats on the baby sister, I wish you many naps and much joy.