Tag Archives: Forever

Beauty in the Breakdown

18 Dec

Dear Little Man,

One thing that you will someday learn — as unfortunate as that may be — is that news of a tragedy spreads like wildfire. With today’s social media craze, it takes milliseconds to share news of any kind. I heard about a recent tragedy around midday last Friday, December 14th. I logged onto Facebook for fun, read a few vague but concerning posts and gathered enough info to learn that it had been a school shooting. A quick Google search told me the rest. Shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. Twenty-six dead, twenty of them children. All of those children were younger than Sports Man is now.

And then, I did what every other parent in the country did: I thought of my own child.  The light of my life, the sunshine in my heart, the force behind my continued existence. I thought of you, Liam. Without you, I would have nothing. That’s the magic (and the terror) behind having kids…you’ve lived your entire life without them and as soon as you have one, you’re not sure how you ever functioned before they were around.

There is a quote that I thought of in the aftermath of that sad, sad day. It goes like this:

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

Right now, there are 20 sets of parents in Connecticut who have lost their hearts, and the hearts of people around the world break for them. I know mine did. My heart broke for those poor parents because I thought of you, and I wondered how in the world I could be expected to go on living if you couldn’t. In all of the details and press releases I’ve read about the children who died, it’s been mostly aunts or uncles or grandparents who comment. I can’t help but think that’s because the parents just don’t have the words yet. How could they? It can’t seem possible yet.

All of those Connecticut parents — or any parent who has survived the loss of a child — is a miraculous sort of hero to me. I imagine that they possess a type of strength that is simply indescribable in its vastness and its depth.  It must be, to be able to survive something like that.

Without you, my beautiful boy, I would disintegrate, and nothing would console me. Everyone always says, “Our hearts go out to the victims,” but what does that even mean? In all honesty, it probably doesn’t mean much at this point. Those 20 sets of parents, that entire town is so enveloped in grief, it must be hard to see outside of it. But now I know what it means, because if I could give part of my heart to another mother who has lost her own, I would. I wish I could.

But you are my heart. You are walking around outside my body and it has never been scarier than it is right now. I have never imagined losing you and suddenly, that fear is not only haunting my nightmares, but my news-feed as well. That Friday, I read about those poor children and the teachers who died to protect them, and I cried. Being separated from you hadn’t hurt that much since the first few months after you were born. For the first time in a long time, I hated that you were two hours away. It usually seems so short but last Friday, it felt like too much distance to bear.

So I texted J. I texted her and I told her to give you extra kisses and hugs from me, from your Nay-Nay. And then she sent me this:

Sleeping Baby

You were sleeping peacefully in your car seat, tired after a morning of Christmas shopping. I have never been so grateful to see a picture of you. I just needed to see you, to look at your face, and somehow, J knew that. I ended up telling her about the Connecticut tragedy shortly after (she hadn’t heard yet). I have no doubt that her heart was heavy with prayers as she sent Sports Man off to school yesterday morning.

Not truly being able to “raise” you, I’ve never thought of myself as the “traditional parent,” though I certainly think of myself as a mother. But this past Friday, I joined the ranks of parents all over the world, as our thoughts immediately went to our sons and daughters, no matter their age. Last Friday, we cried for our own children, along with the 20 that were lost that day…their light, love and potential taken so much sooner than it should have been.

I know I’ve said it a million times, but I’m going to say it a billion more, including now: I love you, Liam Hudson. I love you with my whole heart, with my whole soul, with everything I have. Your life will forever mean more to me than my own. I could not be more grateful for your existence or for the wonderful family you that surrounds you.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
My baby you’ll be.”

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Thanksgiving and Morning Sickness

29 Nov

Dear Little Man,

Thanksgiving was last week, but for the past three thanksgivings I enjoy my turkey, stuffing and apple pie with a little bit of reminiscence on Thanksgiving 2009.

I was in Alabama that year visiting my sister, your Aunt B. We always went to her place for Thanksgiving back then. She has two girls — my nieces — and I would hang out with them and relax as much as I could. We’d all spend the holidays sleeping in, reading books, watching movies, and occasionally walking to the local coffee shop for a caffeine jolt. Mostly, it was just enjoyable because we got to visit family and your Aunt B and her girls are as close as I get to family biologically.

On Thanksgiving Thursday 2009, we had finished our meal around mid-afternoon. It was delicious as always and we had spent the rest of the evening recovering from the food binge. However, it was nighttime now and we were all settling in to watch the Polar Express (one of my FAVORITE Christmas movies. I will make you watch it someday). I had worked up enough of an appetite to go in for seconds before we all settled in to turn on the TV. I got some leftovers out of the fridge, scooped them on to a plate and put them in the microwave to heat up.

I distinctly remember pulling myself up to sit on the counter as I waited for my food. As it heated, the smell of our Thanksgiving dinner filled the kitchen and inevitably reached my nose.

I thought I was going to vomit right there on the kitchen floor.

I pushed off the counter and headed for the bathroom that was just around the corner from the kitchen, if not to throw up then to get away from the smell at least. My first thought was that apparently, I wasn’t as hungry as I thought. I must have still been full from dinner because mere hours earlier, that same smell had smelt heavenly.

But the nausea didn’t let up. For the rest of the trip, the smell of food grossed me out. I think I ate a little more turkey, but I didn’t heat anything up in the microwave anymore. I distinctly remember talking to Grandma M about it. I remember telling her how it was so weird how all of a sudden, I just couldn’t stand the smell of food.

A little less than a month later after a particularly life changing doctor’s appointment, everything made sense. After I found out about you (and recovered from the shock of it) I thought back to those microwaved leftovers and practically felt the light bulb clicking on in my head. It was one of those “ah-ha” moments that you never really forget.

And I haven’t forgotten it. One year later, I was spending Thanksgiving 2010 with my four-month-old and The B’s at their house in NC (and my definition of “visiting family” had extended quite a bit!). Last year, The B’s came down the weekend after Thanksgiving and we went to see gingerbread houses together. And this Thanksgiving, of course, you spent with me, my family and The B’s at The Boyfriend’s (totally gorgeous) farm house. It seems to be quite the holiday for you and me :)

And even though I think about you every single day, I always think about that “first” Thanksgiving with you when the end of November rolls around.

Especially when I’m getting leftovers and I realize that this time, I can actually eat them.

Thanksgiving 2010. The first one we spent together when you were on the outside of my body and not preventing me from getting leftovers ;)

The One with the Lucky Baby

19 Nov

Dear Little Man,

One of my favorite TV shows when I was growing up (and now) is called Friends. Recently I got my hands on the DVD seasons (it ended in 2004) and I’m re-watching them all. It’s a funny sitcom-type show about six friends (three boys, three girls) who go through all of their ups and downs together, but no matter what, they are always there for one another.

Now — following that description — it is a sweet show with some truly tender, genuine moments…but mostly it’s just really, really funny. It will probably be way outdated by the time you’re old enough to appreciate it (or old enough to be allowed to watch it) but I think you should check it out at some point. If you turn out to be anything like me, you’ll certainly relate to the humor :)

Now in the first season of Friends, there’s a weird dynamic between Ross (one of the main characters) and his ex-wife Carol. As it turns out, Carol’s romantic interests were not…how should I put this…male-oriented. However, before Carol discovered this, she and Ross created a baby boy. By the time the baby was born, Carol was with her new life partner, Susan.

But Susan and Ross didn’t get along so well, especially when it came to the baby. Ross was technically the father, but Susan wanted the baby to recognize her as a parent as well. She and Ross would argue all the time about who would get to see the baby more and hold the baby more and love the baby more. Finally, at the hospital on the day that the baby was born, Ross’s friend Phoebe was listening to Ross and Susan fight over this little guy, when Phoebe said this:

“When I was growing up, my dad left and my mother died and my stepfather went to jail, so I barely had enough pieces of parents to make one whole one. But here’s this little baby who has three whole parents who care about it so much, they’re fighting over who gets to love it the most, and it’s not even born yet. It’s the luckiest baby in the whole world.”

That quote had me riveted. Of course, years ago when I first saw this episode it didn’t mean much to me, but now that I’m older…and now that I have you…I have a new appreciation for what Phoebe said. While no one has ever fought over who gets to love you the most — I think The B’s and I (along with my family and friends) share that job incredibly well — I hope that one day, you feel like the luckiest kid in the world. The baby in Friends (who they ended up naming Ben, by the way) had the love of three parents. But you have four — two moms, two dads, not to mention four sets of grandparents, and I don’t even want to go into how many aunts, uncles and cousins you have.

But I can tell you right now that, just like Baby Ben, we were all madly in love with you before you were even born. And our love grows as you do…it just keeps getting bigger and bigger every single day.

 

Mama, Her iPhone and Her Man

16 Nov

Yesterday, I finally got an iPhone! We’ll probably be on the iPhone 18 or 19 by the time you’re old enough to own a cell phone, but as of right now, I’m super pumped.

But more importantly, I just wanted you to see my background photo:

Or more clearly…

My handsome man!  It’s a wonderful photo to see on a daily basis, don’t you think? :)

Adoption is Everywhere

13 Nov

Dear Little Man,

I’m going to share a secret of mine with you. That secret is that I dream about being pregnant again someday.

In my actual dreams, I’m generally terrified of pregnancy and, in dream world, I find myself thinking, “I’m pregnant again? Oh my, I wonder if The B’s will raise this one for me, like they did Liam…” So, so, so weird. I’m generally thrilled to wake up and realize it was a dream because I has such a difficult time going through with placing you…I’m not sure I could do it again.

But during my waking hours, sometimes I think about having a baby when I’m ready for one. I love you so very much…in that “beyond words” kind of way…and I hope to be able to someday have a little half-brother or -sister for you to meet, that I can love just as much. I never thought I wanted kids, but once I discovered I was carrying you, I realized that I wanted nothing more than to be the best mother I possibly could. Hopefully I will be able to be that mother someday. Hopefully you think I am that mother today.

Yesterday evening, Miss Manhattan (one of your many aunts, a fellow blogger with a wonderful site, and one of my oldest friends) sent me a link to a blog called Arielle Elise. This blog is mostly (beautiful!) photography, but this particular post was about a couple going through an adoption in Uganda.

In my many talks/discussions/speeches given at Bethany functions, I have heard a few stories of international adoption, though most of the ones I’ve heard have been from Asia. Though I don’t know much about international adoption (I am studying it!), I still love that adoption spreads its influence so widely. The love that adoption encompasses can span oceans…how beautiful is that?

The couple featured in the Arielle Elise post are twenty-somethings, married for 5+ years and in the process of adopting their own Little Man from Africa. Their photos are all about them and love and how love creates family (oh how I can attest to that!) Their blog, This Beautiful Truth, follows an incredible, emotional journey through adoption and their daily lives. Like one of my favorite bloggers, Infertility Awakening, these journeys fascinate me. People who have the hearts and souls for adoption never fail to astound me with their openness and their love. I always find them to be very brave, courageous people who have decided to open their hearts and look on the bright side of life…just like The B’s!

I love sharing stories of people like this, mostly because I feel that somehow, we’re all connected through this adoption experience. Birth mothers, adoptive families, adopted children…though we’re all different a spread far and wide, I somehow feel like we’re all connected at the core. I get to share our story and other couples and birth mothers get to share theirs and together, we form this network, this collaboration of people who want nothing more than to love their children and families as much as humanly possible.

And I understand. Though I am the birth mother rather than the adoptive mother, I think I get it, or part of it at least. I understand that longing to be a mother, to create a family, to want to share your love with a child you have the privilege of calling your own. Though I certainly can’t empathize with the frustrating, upsetting, sometimes devastating effects of infertility, I think I realize the desire that drives it. The desire to hear someone call you “mom.” It sounds like a small thing, but it means something so much bigger to so many people.

And that’s why I still have my dream. My dream of being “mom.” That’s why. someday, I’d like to give you those half-sibling(s) that call me “mother.” It’s a small thing, but that tiny act of love can fill a heart to the point of bursting. I would know. That’s what I feel every time you call me “Nay-Nay.” It may not be “mom” outright, but I cherish it as though it were. Because though you may not call me your mother, I will forever call you my son and I will be proud. That’s just how love works.

So enjoy this tiny piece of your expansive network, Little Man. I hope you enjoy reading the stories of this family as much as I enjoy telling the stories of my own little boy, my shining star, my bright light at the end of all of my dark tunnels.

That would be YOU, in case you were wondering ;)

Your Second Birthday Pictures

12 Nov

Dear Little Man,

Today I realized that in a little over two months, you will be two-and-a-half. Almost half a year has passed since you turned two which is nuts since I feel like you were born yesterday. But what is also nuts is that you turned two in July and it is now November and no practically no birthday pictures have been posted (except for a few from the day after and a few that J took during your birthday safari ride!). And since I’m in a particularly picture-y mood today, I have decided that I am going to remedy that lack of photos riiiiiiight…

NOW. :)

(Forgive the quality…some of these are still shots taken from a video.)

J’s creative genius shining through yet again :)

The cupcakes on the table were delicious. I had two :)
Plus three. Shhh.

Bubble blowing…your favorite :)

Eating the bubble blowing stick…your second favorite.

Running to Pop-Pop at your party. I’m pretty sure it made his day :)

The “B” Air Hockey Team!

You make me giggle :)

Trying to catch the water. Solid effort.

You LOVED that hose. And you also got soaked.

Thirsty? You certainly were… :)

Spraying The Boyfriend after he squirted you with a toy. I am SO proud.

Luckily, you didn’t take revenge on me like you did on The Boyfriend…

E grilling up some burgers…and being a good sport while I filmed him :)

Um, DELICIOUS.

Blowing bubbles with me!

Another reason for your Super Cool Kid status: you fist bump.

Your new “trator” :) you still ride that thing around. Steering is still a mystery, but I think we’re getting there…

Sports Man teaching you how to drive. I see this happening again in about 14 years…

A travel size Little Man. This was my ploy to bring you back to New York with me ;)

You are an awesome high-fiver. The Boyfriend got a kick out of it.

Ohhh, that smile…

You can almost hold an aluminum baseball bat! Sort of…kind of…I love this photo anyways :)

Hitting a baseball with a bat, golf-style. I think I fell even more in love with both of you that day :)

Giving you tips, working on your game, you know…normal “guy talk.”

Again with the world’s best facial expressions…

Giggling with my guy :)

I love this look! And you :)

I can’t wait until our next weekend-long adventure. Although the outdoor water activities might have to wait until the spring. I have no doubt we will find entertainment elsewhere :) Two-and-a-half year olds are surprisingly good at creating entertainment out of nothing…

xoxoxo

 

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The Football Face Mask Penalty

23 Sep

I am a huuuuge football fan. It’s one of the many reasons why autumn is my favorite season — prime ACC football and NFL season. I’m a fanatic. I’m one of those yell-at-the-referees-even-though-they-clearly-can’t-hear-me-through-the-television people. Luckily, my love for football seems to be genetic. And also it’s highly encouraged by The B’s. They’re big Giants fans. I’ve forgiven them for that because I’m a good person.

You are already a pigskin fan. I still remember the day J sent me the text telling me that you had learned to say, “touchdown.” So proud.

Unfortunately, the rules of football seem to be eluding you. But seeing as you are only two years, two months and one day old (but who’s counting?), you have time to learn. Here’s your first lesson: face mask penalties are bad and generally considered illegal. And by generally, I mean always. Why is this your first lesson?

This is why.

P.S. — You’re adorable.

Head Injuries and Good Texts

29 Aug

Do you remember that letter I wrote you about how fearless you are? I still admire your moxy, definitely. I love how tough you are. I like to think you get it from me, but I scream bloody murder every time I see a spider within five feet of me, so that might be giving myself a little too much credit.

But it seems as though your bravery gets you into situations like these:

One fall, three staples and two scared mommies later, and you’re acting like nothing happened. My brave little man, playing and napping and acting just like he didn’t fall onto the corner of the coffee table and cut his head open. Aww. J and I couldn’t be prouder of how tough you are. We also couldn’t be more terrified how many things you dive head first into (pun mostly intended). Okay, well maybe not terrified. But let’s just say when E’s mom  said, “He’s just like his dad,” I opted not to hear the stories of all the crazy things he did when he was little. I’d like to keep my blood pressure at a healthy level while I’m young.

I’m glad you’re okay. So, so, so, so, so, so, soooo glad. Beyond glad. Nothing bad is allowed to happen to you, ever. I just think you should be aware of that little caveat of your existence now.

On the plus side, I have also learned that J is highly adept at sending very comforting, reassuring “something bad happened but it’s all going to be alright so don’t freak out” texts. I mean, seriously. That’s an acquired skill right there.

Riding in Cars with Boys

21 Aug

You soooo don’t want to know this (I have future visions of you plugging your ears and singing, “la la la la la” every time I bring it up), but I’m going to tell you anyways. I’m telling you this info partly in the spirit of full disclosure and partly because it was a highly educational experience.

Mama’s got a boyfriend. He’s caring and respectful and stable and handsome and he makes me ridiculously happy and I’ll stop being gushy now. Let’s put our creative powers to work and call him…The Boyfriend.

You’ve met him twice. He was nervous at first — I kept having to remind him that you were two and probably wouldn’t remember if his first impression totally sucked. But you two took took each other, and the fact that he cared about a toddler’s first impression of him was adorable. He helped you play baseball and tossed the football with you and dunked you in a giant tub of water at Grandma M and Pop Pop’s house. Also, he bought you a “bubble gun” for your birthday. Automatic win, I know.

A few days after I returned from my summer internship in New York with NBC, he took me to the beach. Yaaaay five hour road trip. But I’ve always been a fan of road trips and The Boyfriend has a good CD collection, so I was ready to spend a good ol’ five hours jamming to music (yes, I jam) and talking to my guy. We get along unbelievably well and I figured we’d just talk, talk, talk until the beach showed up on the horizon.

Except for here’s something I learned about riding places with boys for extended periods of time: they don’t talk in cars. Boys are perfectly content with silence. Well, music and silence. After road trips full of girls and chatting and rolling the windows down and more chatting followed by obnoxiously singing along to Prince or “Baby Got Back” (I know every word and I’m really proud), “quiet” was a new concept. One that didn’t last too long either because I decided that this whole “quietly observing the rolling countryside in peace” thing was highly overrated. But there was relative quiet for at least two-ish hours. I mean, I actually twiddled my thumbs in the car at one point. Literal thumb twiddling. Sad face.

Once I brought it up to The Boyfriend when we finally reached the beach, he laughed (because my neuroses are so adorable) and said guys would be guys. And then I tried to dunk him in the ocean. That’s unrelated to the story, but it was fun.

But sometimes I look at The Boyfriend and I think of you. Not because you look alike, but because one day you will be a taller-than-me, probably-still-blonde, hunky 23-year old. You will probably jam out to music and not talk unless spoken to. Maybe you’ll even fall in love when you’re 30…or older…and you’ll take her to the beach. But it’s instances like that with The Boyfriend that remind me just how much I have to learn about boys. It’s a lot. A whoooole lot to learn. I truly know nothing about boys — having you has been a learn-as-you-go experience. I’ve still got a ways to go knowledge-wise, but I have a feeling you’ll be a wonderful teacher.

On the bright side, at least I’ll know that when you and I go on road trips together and it gets quiet, you’re not giving me the silent treatment.

The Boyfriend helping you into the swing!

You are SO my kid.

This photo does a heart-melty thing to me.

The ultimate reason why you like him ;)

Mama’s Makin’ a Change

30 Jul

This summer, I’ve been interning. It’s one of those lovely things you do to try to integrate yourself from college-world to real-world (not MTV style. Also while, we’re on the subject, never watch The Real World. Ever.)

During this wonderful, amazing, incredible experience of interning, I’ve been doing a lot of research — one of the many tasks I’ve been given. And the cool thing about this research is that a lot of it is researching blogs. Lots of parenting blogs to be exact. It’s been eye opening, let me tell you. Everyone has a different style. Everyone has a different voice.  Lots of people have some seriously cool photos. Some people have interesting advice while others have humorous anecdotes. But all of the blogs are about the people who write them, the people they love and the people who read them.

That last sentence probably shouldn’t be an earth-shattering realization. But it kind of was (no judging my slow uptake…you may seem on top of things at the age of two, but you probably inherited it). So, after coming to my not-so-novel conclusion, I’ve decided that I’m going to be adding something to your letters — a little bit more of me.

I started these letters because I didn’t want you to go through a single day wondering whether or not I loved you. It’s a common birth mom fear…that as you grow, our choice will seem less like a sacrifice (which it is…wow, let me tell you) and more like “giving up.” And the last thing I would ever want you — my sweet, gorgeous, incredible baby boy — to think is that I gave up on you. I never have and I never, ever will. I love you entirely too much. While you may no longer be literally linked to me, my lifeline is intertwined with yours; what hurts you, hurts me and what makes you smile, makes me the happiest girl in the world.

But I also want you to know me. And every now and then, I just want to talk to you about what’s going on and what I’m doing and how I feel and why it makes me think of you, or how I wish you were here to see something I really want to show you. But I generally don’t, because I think to myself, “That’s not the point of the letters. These are about him, not you.”

But then I realized you are 50% me, and that maybe one day — if I’m lucky — you’d really want to know me.

I also realized that I am the writer, and you are who I love and the people who read about us are the people that love and adore us both (well, maybe just you. You’re more photogenic and you’ve got the whole “I’m-a-baby-and-therefore-automatically-adorable” thing going for you). And since these are my letters to you, I can put in them whatever I’d like. And what I’d like is for you to really know me, as deeply and as much as you can, because that’s how I plan on knowing you: wholly, completely, entirely, truly.

So just a heads up, you’re going to get to know me very well. I’m determined. I’m also very talkative and thoroughly enjoy talking to people who have yet to develop the ability to tell me to shush.

A.k.a you :)

I love you. Thinking of you always.

Why yes, I’d love to hold you :) anytime.

We’re so gonna be BFFs. I can tell.

You got a kick out of spraying me with water. It was adorable. Also, when did you learn how to aim accurately?

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