Friday, August 18, 2017

It's a Small World After All

A few days ago I was chatting with a friend when her 12-year-old daughter chimed into our conversation with, "Mom, PLEASE have another baby! PLEASE!" And then, for the convincing cherry on top she added, "It's not that hard!"
We snorted. And laughed. And I thought to myself, yeah, it's basically Disneyland. Not hard at all.
But then it occurred to me, what if pregnancy *were* a trip through Disneyland?
You'd start at Snow White's Scary Adventure, where you'd pee on a stick and see those life-altering pink lines appear. This would be followed closely by a 24/7 spin on the teacups at Mad Tea Party (because apparently, the best way to grow an entire human is to regularly empty your stomach of anything nutritious). Then it's off to Splash Mountain where you will deal with a constant waterfall from your bladder for 40 weeks.
Eventually (hopefully) the nausea will abate to the extent that you'll want to devour everything in sight on Heimlich's Chew Chew Train. And then it's time to check out little Ariel's Undersea Adventure via ultrasound (Congratulations! You're having a mermaid!) and you'll feel the first little flutters and kicks that turn you into Alice in Wonderland.
But then -- Jumpin' Jellyfish! -- the baby gets bigger and uses your bladder as a trampoline. Your house turns into Toy Story Mania as you buy books and clothes and rattles and blankies. And Dumbo the "Waddling" Elephant meets Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as you wind your way to closing time.
Guardians of the Galaxy -- Mission BREAKOUT begins, followed closely by California Screamin'. (Epidural version: Soarin' Over California). And then the finale: Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. And I do mean *Astro* Blasters.
You did it! Your screaming bundle of joy is here! Welcome to Monsters, Inc.! Don't forget to stop by the ever-enjoyable postpartum bodily fluids parade, Grizzly River Rapids, on your way to the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. (Seriously, blowouts, color, consistency. You'll cover it all. And get covered in all of it).
Hey, it turns out, having a baby really *is* like going to Disneyland! And it's just as expensive!
Who knew?

Of Sisters and Shoes

*This post originally appeared on*

I've had a brand new pair of pink baby shoes sitting on my bathroom counter for a week now.  I had decided it was time to go through my girl baby clothes and separate items for saving, donating, or passing on to friends when I came across these shoes.  My daughter never wore them.  They are still in the box.  Not only could I pass them on to someone, I could gift them at a baby shower.  They are just the kind of adorable thing that would be fun to watch an expectant mother unwrap and have the room dissolve into a chorus of "Awwww"s.

But eight days later they are still sitting there.  Every time I inch toward them I find myself thinking, "Am I really ready to give these away?"

I have four beautiful children, but getting them here was a difficult and complex process that our fertility specialist forgot to fully explain.  Oh, he mentioned the needles and the hormones and the surgeries, but he left out the part that it would be like ripping your heart out of your chest Temple of Doom style only to send it speeding along a rickety old track while some bad guy tries to smash it with a shovel.  If it ends well you'll be left hanging off the edge of a cliff by your fingers.  If it doesn't, it's hello crocodiles.

So believe me when I say that I understand what it means to be given the gift of a child.  Any child. And I absolutely adore my sons and would not trade them for anything.

And yet...

With three sisters of my own, I can't help wishing that my daughter could also experience that blessing.  Because there is just something about a sister.  There's the understanding that you share over having been raised by the same mother.  There are the genes that closely correlate to yours so that when your post-childbirth hormones go bananas, you can say, "Did you experience the thing, too?  Please tell me you know what to do about the thing."  There are the inside jokes, the understanding talks, and the all-important pact that if one of you ever falls into a coma, one of your sisters will be there to pluck those pesty black hairs out of your chin.

From the time she could talk -- and even with a twin brother as her constant companion -- my daughter was acutely aware of the absence of sisterhood in her home.  When, at the age of four, she found out I was expecting my fourth baby, she was determined -- this baby was going to be a sister.  My husband and I thought so too.  Even after two ultrasounds showed otherwise, I still went into the delivery room unconvinced that the baby really was another boy.

He was.  And although my daughter loved her baby brother instantly and with everything she had, she still wishes for a sister.  I still wish for her to have a sister.

There will be those who will say that this kind of longing is ungrateful, but they are mistaken.  Sadness over a lost dream doesn't equal ingratitude for your reality.  And for me, part of moving on is accepting that it's possible to love what is and mourn what isn't.  It's possible to fully embrace the children I have been given and accept that there will be an occasional twinge over dreams that never came to pass.

So I'll keep the shoes for now.  Not as a symbol of what I am lacking, but as a reminder of what I have been given.  And someday, when I pass those little pink sneakers on, I'll do so with gratitude for all of my miracle babies.

And gratitude for the lessons I learned from a little pink pair of shoes.