Welcome, Mamma Crew! Today is Mamma Thursdays when it’s all about us! The mammas!
I feel extraordinarily blessed for my family, my husband, my children, and I’m overwhelmed by my blessings. My four blessings. My twin daughters, Emmi and Andy, and our new family additions, Dora and little Bug. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how life can gift us with the very things that we most desire, and yet never expect to receive?
I always wanted to have four children. Always. I can remember being six years old and being asked by my aunts and uncles how many kids I wanted when I grew up. And the answer was four. Always four. The day I found out I had endometriosis and the doctor said I was probably sterile, in that parking lot, in that same hospital, that very same day, my mother asked me how many children I wanted to have. And I said “Four.” Despite the news I had just received, my answer remained four.
Later, when I started dating and relationships became more serious, I invariably received the same question from the men in my life. How many kids did I want? And the answer remained the same. Four. Once I married and we started working on having a family, the answer remained the same. Four.
But my pregnancy was anything but easy. I had a cerclage. I developed gestational diabetes because I was pregnant with twins. My gallbladder failed and had to be removed soon after I gave birth. My baby, Andy, she dislocated my ribs, not once, but twice, while she was in utero. And I was in bed rest for twenty weeks! Afterward, I had to deal with the excruciating fact that I was leaving the hospital without my babies. They both had to stay in the NICU, Emmi, for a few weeks; Andy, much longer. And yet when my husband asked, “Are I ready for more children?”
The answer was, “Yes.” It was absolutely yes. I wanted more kids. Despite all the trials and tribulations, I wanted more kids. And I wanted to try soon. I wasn’t sure, exactly, how we were gonna come up with the money for the second in vitro process, but I knew that we were going to do it. I also knew that I wanted more children. My husband, being the voice of reason, of course, asked me to slow down. Having twins, for any of you who have twins, you know what I’m talking about, is very difficult when they’re young. In the first eighteen months, ugh, I felt I had absolutely no energy. Between the breastfeeding, the taking care of their needs, the exhausting nights… But I still loved it! I love them so much. I wanted them so much. I never felt greater joy than I did when I became a mother. So it was really hard for me to listen to my husband and wait.
But I had just started a new job, and so that kept my mind off my desire to have more children. And like I said, the twins kept me very, very busy.
Two years later, my husband said, “Okay, now you have tenure and we’re more financially stable, I think we should try to have another baby.” And of course, after much debate, we decided to go back to Dr. Hatch in Orange County. She’s just an absolutely amazing doctor and if you decide to go through in vitro, I highly, highly recommend her. Her name is Dr. Ilene Hatch and I will add a link with her information for those of you who are interested.
But in any case, that meant going back from Michigan to California. It was no small trip. And we decided that the best option was for us to go through surrogacy, rather than myself getting pregnant. It was also going to require three separate trips. The first one, to get checked out again; go through that whole process. The second one, I needed to have a D&C, which she wanted to do because before becoming pregnant the first time, she had discovered that I had tiny little skin tags inside my uterus and she said it was impossible to get pregnant unless those were removed — which they were for the first pregnancy. And she told me that it was very likely that I would develop these again. So before attempting a second pregnancy, I had to go through the removal process again. And then finally, once that had healed up, then I would be ready for in vitro. I would have to start the whole hormonal trials and then go through the actual process and then I would be pregnant.
But having been through it once, it wasn’t as scary because I knew what to expect. I knew what the in vitro process with Dr. Hatch would mean for me. I also knew that it would likely mean that I would end up on bed rest again, and I really thought I was okay with this.
So we went through the first two appointments. The first one, everything was fine; we set the date for the second one. And then, there I was, on the gurney, getting prepared for surgery. They were just getting ready to insert the IV needle in my arm when it dawned on me that everything would be different this time. Last time, I didn’t have two-year-olds that I needed to take care of. I didn’t have two-year-olds that needed their mommy! And this time, if I had to be hospitalized — and both my local OB-GYN and Dr. Hatch told me that there was over a 90% likelihood that would be the case — I would be hospitalized five to eight hours away from the town where I lived.
I have done my research. I knew this. I knew exactly where the hospital was and up until I was on that gurney, I thought I was ready. That I was prepared to go through with it. To make the sacrifices. But on that gurney, I realized — it wouldn’t be just my sacrifice. It would be the sacrifice of my two-year-old twins as well. And I just couldn’t go through with it. I remember sitting on that gurney with the doctor trying to convince me that I would find away. And I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it. I sat on that gurney shedding tears because I couldn’t sacrifice my bond with twins for another baby. They were two. They needed their mommy. And I needed them.
I cried, and I cried. But I remained firm. I didn’t have any family in Michigan. And I didn’t have any family from California that would be able or willing to spend several months in Michigan helping me with my children. My husband spoke of moving near the hospital so that I could see the girls every day. But at that age, one week is an eternity! They were going through so many changes. Changes I wanted to experience with them. And some of those changes, they needed me there. So, still in tears, I got off the gurney, took off my medical gown, put my clothes back on, and gave up my dream of having four kids. It was over.
And when I left the hospital, I told my husband it was for the best and that I fully accept it. That I just couldn’t be away for the girls. And I was okay with this. But the truth was, I knew I was not. I wanted more children. I really, truly did.
But instead of wishing for something I didn’t have anymore, I focused on what I did have — two beautiful twin daughters. They filled me with joy and blessings and I moved on.
Now periodically, my husband and I would touch upon the subject again and toy with different ideas. Perhaps we could pay for a surrogate. Wait a minute — surrogacy is very expensive in the United States. We considered surrogacy in India. And then we read this article from Canadians that often had Indian surrogacies and how the babies went to the wrong parents and we’re like… Uhhh… No!
We talked about adoption. And we kept talking about adoption over the years. But we never took the jump. I’m not sure why because adoption had always seemed like a viable option for parenting. I was absolutely convinced that I could love a child that did not come from my body as much as I loved the children that did.
Then a few years later, we were actually offered a baby boy in private adoption. And just as we were getting excited and considering how we would change our lives to embrace this new blessing, mom changed her mind. She ran off. Later, we found out that she had returned and she did give up the baby for adoption. But unfortunately, during her run, she had taken illegal drugs and there were all sorts of problems with this baby. Fortunately, the baby found a home and a mother that could help him with all the challenges he could be facing in the future.
But that scared us a little bit, primarily because I had three chronic illnesses. And while everybody used to call me “the Energizer Bunny” prior to my first surgery at the age of 38, since then, my battery has been slowly, slowly dying. I’m no longer the Energizer Bunny. What can I say?
So we started to give up the idea. We began to feel that we couldn’t adequately care for a newborn. Then we questioned how good we would be taking care of a toddler. And we were starting to research, being more serious about it, looking at our options. We had, in fact, decided to go with a state adoption in Puerto Rico. Especially after one of the ladies that I go to church with adopted a little girl. And I got to see that interaction and I thought, “you know, I don’t think I could do a newborn but I absolutely think I that I could adopt a toddler. I think I have the energy for that age!
And then suddenly, here it was! The opportunity to become legal guardians to my niece and my nephew. I was shocked. My husband was shocked. Were we serious about adopting? And true, being legal guardians is not exactly the same thing as adopting a child — legally. But when it comes to your heart, your heart doesn’t know that difference.
We talked about it. Endlessly. We discussed possible consequences. The impact on our family. And despite our fears and reservations, we took the leap. We did it. We have four amazing children! Among them, a four-year-old toddler.
And you know what I realized? It doesn’t matter that I don’t have the same level of energy that I used to have in the past. Because my heart is still capable of loving as fully and with as much commitment as it was when it was young. In fact, I’m going to say more. Its capacity to love has grown with experience, with the trials and tribulations of life, and of course, with the wonderful blessing of being a mother to Emmi and Andy. My heart has grown.
And now it will continue to grow and expand as I get to know Dora and Bug on a deeper, more personal level. My heart will grow. It will expand. It will fill up as I suffer from them; as I feel their triumphs; as they challenge me in different ways than the other two girls have.
And so here I am, feeling blessed and thankful. Because after all those years and all those questions, my childhood dream, my adolescent dream, my dream as a woman, became true.
I am the blessed mother of four children.
On Thanksgiving Day, I hope you remember what a blessing motherhood is; when they’re driving you crazy and you’re trying to make those turkey fixings and turkey and pies; or when you’re running around to get together with other family and friends; or just enjoying a nice meal at a wonderful restaurant with your kids. I hope you remember what a blessing it is to have a life full of love. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!