Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What If?

I’m writing this post as part of Project IF, the effort by RESOLVE and Mel of Stirrup Queens to highlight consequences of infertility as part of National Infertility Awareness Week.

What if my son would never have a sibling?

That ran through my mind so many times over the course of eight years. My son is a wonderful child, but he has troubles relating to others. Often he is a loner and in his own world. It is an imaginative, intelligent and creative world, but it is also often isolating. He latches onto a few core friends, but he is not that social. He is more at home with adults than his peers. All I could think about is how I would be failing him by not giving him a brother or sister.

I had always wanted another child. Not right away, not right after he was born. But, as he got to be about three years old, we decided that we would like another child.

As my son got to be five years old, my focus tended to shift on giving him something I could see he needed. He needed a sibling. He needed another child to relate to within our family structure.

He was diagnosed with ADHD with social pragmatic issues. As we went into school meeting after school meeting, I could often hear the unsaid debate going on with the educators -- if he was not an only child, maybe he could relate to other children more, maybe be more socialized...

We spent five years trying before we tried a fertility clinic. Fertility treatments were the last thing I had ever thought about through the many years of trying. I was not really aware of infertility or clinics. I knew one acquaintance who was having shots for fertility issues. And I did not think about it at all. Like most people, I did not think about these issues until I was faced with them myself. And, like most people, once I started fertility treatments, I found that all along there were people I knew who were struggling to have what I already had--a beautiful child to call their own.

As my son approached his eighth birthday, I started worrying. We were going to try to do up to three IVF/ICSI cycles. Was it too late to have a sibling for him? Was our baby obsession going to take away from our son and his issues? Maybe we just needed to focus on him only. Maybe he was destined to be an only child. What if we just stopped?

But. I needed to try. I needed, not only for myself and my husband. But for my son, who I knew, just knew, would be a wonderful big brother. My son, who needed someone who would be on his side when I was not able to be. My son, who needed someone to care for and be affectionate and loving to.

And I cannot believe my good fortune. Because our second cycle brought me my wonderful daughter. And she has proven to me what I knew all along--my son is a wonderful big brother, full of love, warmth and attention. To see him interact with her makes me happy and content, knowing that despite their age gap, they will be there for each other.

To see my son mature and grow, caring for his sibling and receiving such love back from her--it is what I wished for so many times.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Second Birthday Party

Willow's Birthday Party went off very well. It was pretty low key and intimate, and we had a Spongebob Theme. Willow saw this cake and was totally excited. She knew that it was for her birthday and couldn't wait to have it.

We had "Krabby Patties" and veggies, as well as "Coral Bits" (French Fries) and Popcorn Shrimp. We also had chocolate fondue with fruit and Hawiian Pizza.

Willow loved these decorations.

Before the party:

After a full rendition of "Happy Birthday" we did a re-do of the blowing out of the candles, to let Willow blow them out (she did not know what to do the first time)

Cake Time!

Some random pictures:

Opening up a present with Michael's assistance. (Michael got her the Toy Story slinky dog)

Trying on a new outfit given as a gift.

Trying out the big hit--a rocking horse!

Ana and Willow after cake--and a bath and another change in outfit.

Thank you everyone for a nice time! Thank you Willow and Michael for being such great kids.

(Now, if only I could magically clean it up)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Life and the Mall

My last Grandmother is dying. And I cannot get to her. Financially, logistically and practically, I just cannot get the 1,000 miles to her. My family understands and I try to not feel awful about someone dying so far away. I am not as close to my Grandmother as I used to be, that's what miles, distance, time and life does to us, to me. She is 91 years old and has lived a good life. She is surrounded by family and friends and love.

And I am here.

My bosses gave me time off, assuming, like I did, that I would be making the trip. I exhausted every option and myself yesterday, until I finally realized that it was not going to be possible. So, today. Today, I took off to be with my son. Today is his last day of school vacation.

To be with just him, to enjoy his company and my child, my life. I ask what he wants to do today. Originally, we were thinking of a nature walk, but he thinks the weather is not nice enough. One of my suggestions was for us to go out and buy his sister a birthday present.

And he wants to go to the mall. I hate the mall. I especially hate going when I am depressed. But I go, because my son and I are spending quality time together and that is what he wants to do.

We wander the mall and we talk. I keep looking at my phone--my aunt is supposed to call so that I can talk to my Grandmother sometime today to say good-bye.

My son wants to go to Rainforest Cafe. I used to have Wednesdays off to spend with my son (before he went to kindergarten) and we used to go there often when he was little. So we go. And its loud and annoying as ever. And he is entranced and nostalgic and I am too. I remember my little boy/toddler and I see how he has grown. I see him looking at everything through his new teen eyes. And I marvel at life. At my life and my time on this earth and the people who have touched me and who I have touched. And I appreciate this time with my son.

Later, we are at home and he plays his video game while in the other room I say good-bye to my Grandmother. I tell her I am proud of her. She tells me she is proud of me. And I realize life is a cycle and I am a part of it.

And it doesn't matter the distance, because the thoughts and feelings cross and are a part of the world around me and around her.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I see her hands on my computer screen. Holding the little block that says “2”. They are stubby and there are traces of dirt under the nails. There are rubbings along the bottoms of the nail bed, probably where she scrapped herself while playing roughly.

My hands, as they type from the keyboard. A bit dry, uneven nails (yes, I still bite them occasionally). An impression of a wedding ring (at the jewelers getting repaired). Fingers long, not unlike

my son’s hands which are always in motion. His fingers always have been long and delicate, now they are often dry. Often reflecting his perpetual motion and energy, they get scrapped and cracked, but with some care (and lotion) they become shadow bunnies and owls and elephants in the flashlight he shines for her.

Her hands haunt me. Gnarled by arthritis, too white and blue with age, often baking cakes or making me tuna fish sandwiches, sometimes getting nipped by the squirrels she would feed peanuts to outside her back porch. My daughter will not know her, but she will know of her—the woman who she shares a middle name with.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Parade and Ice Cream

Since it was Patriot's Day today, we went to a Parade in Lexington. Here is some video:

Willow was very excited and enjoyed the fire trucks and the drums. She was unsure about the giant Scooby Doo that came by and clowns. She was especially happy with her Spongebob Balloon.

Michael kept asking how long the parade was going to be, and he was anxious for Willow, making sure that she did not run off and get trampled by horses or anything. He ended up liking the parade, although he was also glad to go so that he could cream!

Willow got strawberry ice cream; Michael got cotton candy with gummies mixed in.

(I got a Mango-Banana smoothy)

Perfect Moment Monday

Moment #1: She wakes up from her nap in a stroller--before her is a street with people milling about. The parade starts soon and she has no idea what she is in for. But she is happy for the Spongebob Ballon given to her. And, as the parade passes her by for the first time (that she is aware of), she is amazed and stunned--and then she starts to wave the flag given to her and she warms into a little girl who not only loves a parade but waves and says "HELLO!" to all who pass her by. (She even has no problems with the LOUD fire trucks and noises!)

Moment #2: We are at a museum to see an exhibit on Jim Henson. He is not only excited, but he is watching his sister's excitement too. He grabs her so she can see some Fraggles (and Bert and Ernie) and he is the first one to show her almost everything in the exhibit. Ready to show her the world.

More Perfect Moments Here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Great Bunch of Women...

While correspondence can be just words on a page, it can have so much more meaning than that.

I remember my first pen pal. I was 3 or 4 years old and my Grandmother would write to me. It was just letters about the every day happenings in Indiana (I lived in Michigan—a pretty big distance when you are 3—the state “next door”). My mother would read the letters to me and we kept them in my top bureau drawer. As I got older, I would write back to her. But, as I got older and time makes us all rush about with so many daily things…both my Grandmother and I got out of the habit.

When I went away to college, my Grammie (my other grandmother) started to write me. She and I had been living in the same house since I was in high school and being away was rough on both of us. She wrote me every week. I would write back, but not as frequently. Sometimes her letters would include “a little something extra” a couple dollars put between two blank pieces of paper…something a college student could really appreciate. Frankly, looking forward to seeing her “scribbles” every week kept me going through some very tough times. I have saved some of those letters (wish I had saved them all) and looking back at them can even give me comfort now that she is gone.

After college, I moved 800 miles away. Grammie continued to write to me, but as age and several strokes finally slowed her down…she could not write as often or as much (often apologizing in the letters about how awful her “scribbles” were). When we were cleaning out here room at the nursing home after she died, I found several partially started letters to me.

This is all to say that I value and understand the power of letter writing. And while I don’t often do it as often as I should, I am proud that the Braces Bunch is there to fufill that need. That every so often, I open my mailbox and find a little reminder of the past, as well as a friendship of the present and future.

Thank you JJ for founding a great Bunch of women who correspond and comfort, who write not because they have to, but because they want to. Because we all need to be able to reach out and be there for someone else.

Tomorrow marks the THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the Braces Bunch!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hugs and Their Meanings

A few nights ago, it seems Willow had a nightmare. Well, that is speculation, but the thing is, she wanted to have “mommy!” So, she snuggled up to me in our bed and fell asleep for another ½ hour (which, when you are a sleep deprived parent—you get what you can). As she lay in bed with me, she took her arm and purposely hugged my neck and smooshed my face into her chin. Uncomfortable for me, but obviously comforting for her.

She also takes to hugging my legs during the evenings. Usually the scenario is that I am making dinner or putting away dishes. And she comes up and takes a hold of that leg for dear life. As though to say “Hey, here I am! Why are you doing ANYTHING but hanging out with ME!?” It is a playful hug, usually it is a prelude to Willow crawling/crouching beneath and around my legs, around and around and around. (And yes, I do sometimes get dinner going with a toddler around my fact I feel deprived when she is not there!)

I love to hug my children. My husband is a notorious hugger…his hugs are BEAR hugs and you cannot breathe. I am more of a hold on a minute-let-me-also-kiss-you-to-bits-on-your-hair type hugger. I also tend to hug and then tickle. (Cuz, um, its getting too serious here.)

Since my son has been about 8-9 years old, he hasn’t hugged me. Or even hugged me back when I hugged him (well, his arms would go around me but no real hug). Not that he doesn’t give affection. Just not a thing he did. Sometimes a real quick peck on the cheek and then a real quick arms on you for a second type hug. But the past couple of weeks--my 11 year old son has started to hug me again. Sincerely and to the point of not wanting to let go. Needing to be comforted and I return his hug and let him hold on as long as he wants to. No tickling, just hugging with the understanding that there is always a place to be no matter what happens in life. My arms will hold you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday

Moment #1: We are having troubles keeping her to stay put for the photographer. Trying to do everything we can. He offers to sit with her (partially to be part of the attention, I assume, partially to help). He selflessly puts himself in weird poses to help her stay put. He has ideas of his own--"maybe she can hug me, like this"..."maybe if I lie here, she could do this". This is one of the many perfect moments I have seen lately of his total devotion to his sister. I cannot help but feel proud of him.

Moment #2: As she is being presented with a cake (with no other reasons given) to "smash" at the photo shoot, she spontaneously starts singing "Happy Birthday". And we all join in.

Moment #3: I am sick--a whole box of tissues used up and our internet and cable are down. I read a book (and finish it!); my husband takes the brunt of the kids. I hear quiet. Wonder where they are...I look out and I see he has taken her over to the neighbors to swing in the cool spring breeze.

More Perfect Moments Here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shooting Willow

Today my friend was nice enough to (again) take some portraits for us. This time, in a studio, and (mainly) just Willow. Because. Well, because Willow is going to be TWO in two weeks time (!)

So, I brought along my mini camera and took some pics and video during the photo shoot. (Some of them are blurry, cuz, well, my main job was WRANGLING the relentless two year old).

The interesting thing is that my friend was doing the shoot in the studio along with a fellow photog student--who was across the way shooting a maternity portrait with this couple. (Willow was fascinated!)

Some perfect moments will be shared tomorrow, but here are some stuff I shot (the real pictures are being edited (hopefully lightening up Willow's bruise on her cheek--swing accident at daycare), so it will be a few days or so):

The outfit Willow insisted upon having...the first shots of the session...

The outfit Kelly wanted me to bring (she had seen it on the blog). (This was at the time Willow was fascinated by the goings on across the way with the maternity shoot)

The end of the shoot we did a cake smash. And that shirt is from Jen's Esty shop--awesome shirt!!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Plan 2010: March Update

Here is my update on Plan:

March was a bit rough. But, some goals actually were met and, on the whole I feel pretty good about March.

I have lost a total of ten pounds (which is a lot considering the conditions, and a drop in the bucket considering how much more I need to lose--but I will consider it a good start for now).

I have kept up with my morning exercise routine. It's been pleasantly enhanced with my re-viewing of our DVDs of the new Doctor Who. I started with season one, and I am now up to season three...I not only watch the episodes, but watch the extras. Really helps me keep motivated...

And it adds to some nice family time--the boy runs into our bedroom and sits on the bed to watch, husband starts to wake up and watch. Its a nice little moment--and I get exercise too!

I have had mixed success with my evening routine on the Wii. Mainly because our nightly routine can have so many things effect it. If Michael has a lot of homework, he is up longer, which usually means Willow is up longer. If my husband works late (which occurs at least once or twice a week) then everything is thrown off a bit, and any adult time I have gets later and later.

But. I have worked out on the Wii at least 2 times each week. So, that is a start.

We had a family meeting and set down some new goals. Our television viewing habits were not awful, but Willow has gotten to the point where she knows a routine and wants to emulate--so, we are cutting back so that she does not become such a couch potato. Michael contributed, as always, in the family meeting and it was useful. I want to try to have a family meeting every month.

We have had some personal time, and we both have decided that we need to re-establish our monthly dates. (Yes, we used to do weekly dates, long long ago--but monthly should fit in nicely budget and logistical wise).

The big part of the Plan that I am having troubles with--cooking meals. Our hectic life has made it hard to keep with meal plans, and I often am too exhausted, too busy helping my son stay focused on homework and amusing/spending time with a toddler to be able to make meals. Not that I have totally failed on this, but I have had more times than not, resorted to take out or simple (and not as nutritious) meals.

So, if I was giving myself a grade for keeping up with my Plan, I would say I have a solid B going here...

Monday, April 05, 2010

Frilly Silly Willow

Going over to our friend's house on Sunday, I thought it would be a great opportunity to have Willow dress in the dress that husband's mother bought her a while back (it has been too cold for this type of dress--the weather was beautiful for it).

Getting up from a nap, we put her in the dress (her hair is all messed up because she was so sweaty):

Ready to go, hair brushed, a jacket just in case...

And then, she did what two year olds do--took her barretts out, and ran around and played...

Here is Willow and her brother outside...

Perfect Moment Monday

Saturday's Perfect moments were greatly helped by my brother and sister-in-law, who took our children out for a day in New Hampshire, while husband and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary, with these moments:

Moment #1: We sit on the couch wondering what to do. The house is quiet. Too quiet. All at once, we say together -- "Beatles Rock Band!" and we play and play.

Moment #2: After more time at home, we go out. We walk in the sun. We couldn't decide on a restuarant for lunch. We were thinking romantic, but end up at a busy chinese place that is serving Dim Sum and buffet. The place is packed with families and people and its noisy and crowded. We can barely hear each other talk...we LOVE it! Afterwards, we walk around the busy town square, just being a couple.

Moment #3: As we go along our comfortable, relaxing, not romantic, but yet romantic day, I get several photos on my cellphone from my brother, showing me how lucky I am to have him, and my children in my life....

More Perfect Moments Here.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Sometimes you can see into the Future

It just struck me how mature this photo looks, in her eyes you can see Future Willow...

(She's upstairs now after this photo--playing in the bathtub with her brother)

Roll Out

Well, after over nine months of unemployment, I have accepted an offer for a position at a mid-sized law firm.  So, the "strange normal...