As of today, I have four more weeks of non-weight-bearing to muddle through, followed by four weeks of weight-bearing-in-a-boot. This has been harder than I know how to explain. Still, we haven’t let it keep us from joy. Just today, B and I joined some wonderful friends for a 3+ mile walk, almost all of which found B happily on my back. (I’m still scared to wrap him, but our Tula gets the job done.) Thank the gods for the knee walker J found me. It has given us life this summer.
And as of today, J’s morning sickness is frequent and invasive and exhausting. Not debilitating by any stretch, but bad enough to make her miserable (the bad new) and remind us that Dragon is grow grow growing away in there (the great news). I hate that J is sick, but I sure do love that tiny little person.
So though it is messy and sometimes (often?) grouchy up in here, and though self-pity has not been absent (just ask my poor mom, who listens to me with a staggering amount of patience), I actually think we’re getting through this with something related to grace. Like, grace’s annoying kid sister. There have been times in the last year or so that I’m not so sure J and I were all that likeable, but these days, I think we’re improving. You might even find us tolerable at a party. ;)
Also newsworthy: our once tiny baby is NINETEEN months old. Big. Not little. But still little. And he is CUDDLY as all get out. And HAPPY. And quick to throw his arms around your neck and squeeze. And kind, despite his gleeful love of hitting all of the things. And VERBAL. We are clearly (and happily) in the midst of a language explosion. He repeats words all day long: words he hears from us, words he heard the day before. And asks for things using words. And speaks instead of signing: his please will just about slay you. More on this soon soon. But for now – though it isn’t without its struggles – this age is THE LEVEL BEST.
Also in the level best category: we spent the better part of a week with another family from our donor sibling group, and it was just absolutely amazing. Oh, how this deserves a post of its own. I’ll capture what I can here and come back with more details. They’re a two-mom family led by M & S, who are kind and generous and compassionate souls. They have two sweet boys, one older than B (twenty-seven months) and one younger (seven months). They came our way from out east for a concert, and also just, I think, to be with us. Because they have huge hearts. Bram is IN LOOOOOVE with their older son, Blake, and frankly: so are we. I know that the donor registry is threatening (or just plain unwanted) by lots of parents, and I totally hear that. I get the let’s just wait and let the kid(s) decide approach. But none of that felt right to us. Here’s why (not in an attempt to persuade anyone, but because this is where we are with it):
- I think things are weird when you discover them as an adult. Or even as an adolescent. They feel weird. Like, when I’ve met people I’m related to as an adult, I’ve found that to be weird. But the people I met as a kid? Cousins and stuff? I mean, even if I’ve never even seen them as an adult, it’s not strange to know I share something with them. They just are because they always have been. Childhood is handy at making things feel natural that way.
- Also, for ME, the donor isn’t relevant here. I mean, we chose an anonymous donor, so it’s highly unlikely that B will ever know that man. He’s not a part of this equation any more than, say, a distant great-grandparent whose genes you know are in there but you never met him and you never will and he doesn’t even feel real to you. Does that make sense? So these connections aren’t about some elusive other parental figure. They’re just about this one piece of our kids’ creation story. And, though I have no DNA in the mix, that piece feels sweetly about me because – though J and I chose our donor together, in our living room, probably holding hands or some other hippie silliness – I’m the one who said, “this one. That’s my gut. That’s our guy.” So the donor feels like a part of me. Which makes all of this interesting and not at all threatening.
- And then there’s the knowledge that there are these other kids in the world, and that our kids share something with those kids, and to ME, that’s just cool. I mean, other than my fairly estranged half-sisters’ kids, Bram doesn’t have first cousins. He has some really incredible second cousins, but they’re not little. I don’t have donor sibs, but I have cousins. And whether I see them all the time or almost never, I like knowing they’re out there. They didn’t exactly grow up with me, but they grew up sort of tangentially. Alongside me, if from afar. And I like that. There’s a commonality that makes me feel safe. And I think our donor families can offer something similar to my kids. They’ll always know they’re out there, but they can be as close or as distant with them as feels right. I like that. And I like feeling like our family can be there for them too, you know?
- Also, we want to adopt, right? And likely through foster care. That means our third kid will probably have biological connections that are OF him or her but not OF our family. This feels like a way of balancing that for B and Dragon. So they have that too. Something external to our family that is theirs. Does that make sense?
- Finally, we’re being fairly public with this (open with our family and friends) because I’m sort of sick of the notion that this way of doing things has to just mean something is MISSING. Like: no dad. Poor kids. My sisters seem to think that. But this: this can mean MORE not less. Something shared that other kids don’t get. Bram gets a mama AND a pomo AND (hopefully) brothers and/or sisters AND donor sib families. That’s sweet to me. It feels like a gift. Like I said, I think it would be an awkward gift to discover in adulthood, but finding it when you’re a kid? That just feels like more community. More family. And it will just seem normal to him because it will have ALWAYS been there. Or that’s what seems true to me.
So that’s the why. But really: the visit was just like hanging out with family you don’t live near, but love and love to see whenever you get the chance. It’s not invasive. There are no expectations. It’s just there, when we all have space for it. Having them here was like breathing a little easier. It was just nice in that way that good friends who accept you as you are make you feel. We are different from them in plenty of ways, but there are a LOT of similarities, not just with our two families, but with all of the families in our registry. We (J and I) are sort of the poor kids of the bunch, but no one seems to judge us for that. :) And we’re all just a little reverential. Just a little sincere. Just a little optimistic. It explains the earnest tiny people we’re all raising.
Here are some photos:
S with Terry, M with Blake, J with the wee Dragon, and me with Bramble.
See what I mean? Bram is in love.
Musical. And still in love.
And then there was Sunday: my grandmother’s eightieth birthday, which we celebrated on a buffalo preserve, which sort of blew my mind. I always feel sad at family gatherings right now because with the amount of attention B requires (especially given my broken foot and the logistics of that), I feel like I neglect the people I love. I mean, I only had one half of a conversation with my grandma the whole time. And the whole day was physically intense. I mean, one moment found me climbing up wooden stairs to a covered wagon on my hands and knees in front of about twenty people. While wearing a skirt. But then we got to the middle of a field of two hundred and sixty bison. And man, I’m just not sure how to explain the peace I felt there, with my boy’s arms wrapped around me, and my family to my left and right, and all of these huge wild creatures so near to us. Life is certainly too big for words sometimes. Too big.
Photos. But not so much of buffalo. Because photos totally fail to capture how amazing they are:
My beautiful mama, the bug, me, and my grandmother, whom B clearly digs.
One of my ever-favorites.
How to make a Bramble’s day.
He’s seriously just always smiling.
Finally, there’s this, which requires words because it’s the best best best thing ever. Even better than all of Rachel Maddow’s Best New Things put together, which, because they’re Rachel Maddow’s, is saying a lot: I have zero jealousy/insecurity/fear/feelings of leftoutedness about J’s pregnancy with Dragon. Sometimes J describes her recovery from addiction as a kind of delivery – like she’s been delivered of the emotions that propelled her to use – and I understand that in a new way now because: my jealousy is just gone. I think this shift is due to lots of factors, not least the intense soul-bond that Bram and I share, and the fact that J doesn’t at all want to be pregnant this time (she is truly just, as Cricket’s momo once said, “taking one for the team”), and the fact that I am really IN LOVE with the magic that is NGPhood (I was even sad to be losing it when I was pregnant with Love Child), and the exhaustion of early parenting (which makes it impossible to care for very long about anything that doesn’t absolutely matter). But whatever the reason, it’s gone, and I couldn’t be more relieved. In its absence, there are mountains of clarity. So much assuredness about this path, and my family, and my children, and who I am as a mother. It’s pretty great.
So I leave you with this: my loves. My loves.
Hope your loves are thriving.