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Déjà Vu All Over Again

My wife and I are either crazy or stupid or so self loathing that we feel we deserve to be punished. It must be that, right? How else would you explain it? Why on Earth but for any of the above reasons would anybody want to go through this again and so soon after the first time? Oh by the way, my wife and I are expecting our 2nd child. Thank you. Yes, it is very exciting. We’re thrilled. Sure. Whatever. It is said that the body and mind are able to block out memories of pain and misery. That must be true. If it weren’t, all families would only have one child. We would be a “single child” society. Maybe the Chinese are on to something after all. My wife is in the last weeks of her 1st trimester. She’s miserable, fatigued, nauseous, hormonal, oh and trying to raise a toddler on top of all that. It only gets better from here on out. Soon will come the heartburn, the restless nights, and the various physical ailments that accompany a pregnancy.
My wife will go through some of these symptoms too. Then it will all culminate in that “wonderful day” that I described in a blog a few months ago. Oh, but wait. There’s more. Just when we trained our first child to sleep through the night, here comes baby # 2 to carry the sleep deprivation torch. It’s time to get spit up on again and time to look forward to another 2 years of changing diapers. Now once the baby comes, our little boy will be 3 years old so I’m sure he’ll be able to take care of himself by then, yes? No, you say? In fact he’ll require even MORE attention so as not to incite any sibling jealousies? Oh great. So I have THAT to look forward to as well. We’ll be finding out the sex. I’m not sure I understand the “we want to be surprised” philosophy. There are enough surprises on the day your baby is born anyway so why not knock as many of them out as you can before hand? My wife and I want a girl. We would be happy with a healthy baby no matter what the sex … but come on. Neither of us can handle another boy running around this house. We’re just barely able to keep this one from burning down the neighborhood, why would we want to unleash another Y chromosome onto the world?
Our little boy sees the potential though. The toddler Sith Lord needs his apprentice and knows that together they can rule the galaxy. He has stated very plainly that he wants a little brother. He has also made it clear that he wants us to name the baby “Braden”. We have assured him that while it is a beautiful name, it is also his name and things could get confusing around the house if we duplicated it. So, while we would love a little boy just as much, my wife and I are hoping for a girl. And then we’re hoping she’ll magically turn into a boy when she reaches high school. At least I am. So why do it? It’s not like it was forced on me. My wife didn’t suddenly leap across the bed and ambush me as I innocently read a book. (Believe me I would have loved it…) No, we actually tried to conceive another child on purpose and succeeded. In fact I am very proud to say that THIS time, we didn’t need any help from the medical industry.
Nope. All me, baby. A solo slam dunk with no time left on the clock.
Thank you. So why go through all of this again? The answer is simple. Why the hell not? I can’t go out anymore anyway, so I might as well raise another kid and get them all out of the house at the same time so I can go back to enjoying my life.
Okay that’s only part of it.
The truth is our little boy needs a sibling. He has friends, but he needs to be a big brother. He’s only two, but we can almost feel his loneliness. On a recent trip to the park he slid down the slide, looked around and shouted “Hello?!” to an otherwise empty playground. It was if he was saying, “this is only fun if I can share it with someone.” It’s heartbreaking to me when he wants to play with his toys and doesn’t have a playmate. Oh, shut up, I play with him plenty, okay? I just don’t have the energy of a 2 year old. I have the energy of a 37 year old that’s raising a 2 year old which amounts to… not a lot of energy. There are selfish reasons for having another child too. I got a little teary-eyed when I took his crib down and put him in his “big boy” bed for the first time this past month. It’s only been two years but I get very nostalgic when I look at pictures of my boy as an infant and how small he looked in my arms. I had been warned about how fast they grow up and while my son isn’t exactly borrowing the car or moving out of the house, I do feel like those early stages of life are past him. I’d like to experience them just once more. I’ll savor them a little longer this time. I promise. Then we’re done. Seriously. I don’t care how fast this one grows up. I’m not doing this any more.

No matter what tomorrow may bring, I will remain grateful.

No matter what tomorrow may bring, I will remain grateful.

I am grateful to have a roof over my head.
I am grateful that we have 2 cars, and even if they are older than the city we live in, we no longer have payments, and we somehow they always get us from point A to point B.
I am grateful for who I am, and who I’ve become over the years, and the road I took to get here, no matter how treacherous it may have seemed at the time.
I am grateful for my 2 year old son, who took 2 years to be conceived.
I am grateful for those 2 years of trying to conceive, because if it was any easier, I might not appreciate every moment I have with him the way I do now.
I am grateful that I am able to be my own boss, and to never have to make someone else’s priorities more important than my own ever again.
I am grateful that I am able to share my experiences to benefit others, and I am grateful for those who continue to share their experiences with me.
I am grateful for the friendships I’ve made through the years. Although some friends have come and gone, I’ve learned amazing things from each unique soul that I am happy to never forget.
I am grateful that my husband supports my need to stay at home with our son, even though it meant giving up my once very large corporate salary.
I am grateful to see how my son has flourished since I came home to take care of him.
I am grateful for the internet, for it has allowed me to connect with so many others just like me who want great things for their children.
I am grateful to have met so many wonderful parents across the country who believe in my mission, have joined me in this ambition, and are willing to give what they can to make a difference.
I am grateful that I am imperfect, because learning is half the fun, and each day I am able to grow wiser and more knowledgeable.
I am grateful for my health and the health of my friends and family. Even when we are sick, we find ways to heal, and each illness makes us stronger.
But most of all, I am grateful for the life I have yet to live, for each day brings new lessons, new reasons to laugh and cry, and new insights to the mystery of my purpose on earth.
You Can’t Have a Rainbow without First Having a Storm (Part 2)

You Can’t Have a Rainbow without First Having a Storm (Part 2)

The storm did stop, but it rained on and off for a few weeks after that- the kind of drizzle that makes you feel like you can’t get out and accomplish anything, and the moment you try, it’s such a big dramatic event, you decide not to attempt it again until there is the slightest bit of sun poking through the sky. These dark and dreary days were the days I realized I was turning into a hermit in my house. There was only so much conversation I could have with my 15 month old, the house was cleaner than a hospital and my laundry had been folded and sorted by color 15 times since breakfast, and it was only noon. I was bored. I didn’t miss work, and the stress of leaving my son in that awful daycare, or the boss who wouldn’t let me leave 30 minutes early to go pick him up. But I did miss my friends. I missed the excitement of the day to day, and the gossip, which surrounded me on a daily basis working at a network television studio.
I needed friends. Although I had lived in my house for 4 years, I’d been commuting into the city for work, and my social life. I didn’t know a single person in my community.
I decided to join a play group. As selfish as this may sound, this group was more for me than for my son, and with every outing we made, you could probably tell how desperate I was.
You would have thought I was a teenager starting in a new highchool mid semester. Every day I woke up excited of all the possibilities.
I spent time researching our local paper and internet for activities and made a list of all the things we would attend together. Every morning I got us both dressed in our cutest baby and mommy outfits, paying extra attention to details such as dressing down enough to be the perfect stay at home mom, while applying my make-up flawlessly and practicing my “friendly smile” in the rearview mirror while in the car in route.
Although the rain and stopped, the clouds were still following me around as I desperately tried to attach myself to a group that I could connect with. I was still used to my friends and colleagues at work, the artsy entertainment folk, most of whom didn’t have kids, or if they did, left the raising of them to a nanny or a relative. Perhaps I seemed too eager to make friends. I’d sit in the mommy and me groups participating, singing, laughing, commenting on the other children, and rarely got much response from the other moms. I imagined them going home together, getting on their cell phones and laughing about the “new mom” who was obviously trying to hard. Perhaps I’d seen too many movies and TV shows about Desperate Homemakers, but since I wasn’t yet at ease in this new culture, those fictional stories were all I had to draw from.
I began to wonder if I’d been living in a vacuum for 4 years, and since I’d been commuting, I hadn’t noticed the zombies that were living next door. I couldn’t imagine myself ever being this cold to another human being. No matter what group I belonged to, I’d always made the newcomer feel welcome, and most of the people I’d known up until this point all would have done the same. What was wrong with these people? Did the koolade in this town turn stay-at-home moms into Babylonians? Would I eventually become one of them? I imagine a modern day version of Stepford Wives, except that our only form or communicating with one another was singing, “Come on everybody it’s parachute time” to the tune of “the wheels on the bus go round and round.”
Everyday while getting my infant son and I ready for the day, I’d remind him, “today, we are going to go out and make some friends today!” I was determined. Finally after 2 very long months of wondering if I’d ever fit in to any of the mom groups, I broke down and asked one of the teachers at a Mommy and Me class we’d been attending. Actually, it was just after she approached me to thank me for always being so smiley, upbeat, and participating in all the songs and activities, despite the obvious fact that I was being so rudely ignored. I hugged the teacher her with such relief and thanked her for noticing what a struggle it had been for me to fit in! “Please,” I whispered, “Tell me where all the ‘cool’ moms are!” She put her arm around me and said, “you didn’t hear this from me. Show up to the music class 9:30am on Friday.” It was as if I was getting a secret tip in Vegas to take part in an underground operation. I was so excited I could hardly wait.
Friday arrived, and I discovered exactly what I’d been looking for. A group of women just like me- just my age, first time moms, incredibly happy to be right where they were in their lives, and thrilled that I wanted to “play” with them. That day, the sun burned through the clouds for good. And it didn’t rain for the rest of the summer. Now, when it does rain, I have a nice cozy group of mommy friends to spend time with, and our kids all get along great too. This rainbow was definitely worth the storm that created it.
You Can’t Have a Rainbow without First Having a Storm

You Can’t Have a Rainbow without First Having a Storm

Becoming a stay at home parent is like culture shock. At least, I believe it is after you’ve already been a working parent in the corporate world. Had I gone straight to staying at home when my maternity leave was over, it may have been easier to adjust, but for me, it was culture shock.
Culture shock isn’t such a bad thing. We adjust, we always adjust, and most of the time we realize AFTER the adjustment period that every electric zap to our system, no matter how painful, was worth it. Infact, I am beginning to see after everything I’ve experienced in the past 3 years, that in order to reach a cleaner and clearer destination you have to wade through waters of muck and filth. I like to call it the storm before the rainbow. I’ve been using that analogy very often these past few years.
We had a “storm” before the rainbow while trying to conceive my son. You can read about my husband’s perspective here.
There was a storm when I and found a less than warm welcome back to work upon my return from maternity leave, but then the rainbow appeared as I got back into the swing of things and was recruited to a new department.
There was a new storm when my new department laid off our entire team just 2 weeks after recruiting me. The wind and rain were fierce with fear and horror as we tried to figure out how to exist without my corporate income, and once we realized we could subtract daycare expenses, and survive on severance and unemployment, the rainbow emerged.
I had a #$^(*$ storm when I started my stay at home status and realized I didn’t know how to care for my child because the terrible daycare I had him in refused to tell me anything about the details of his day, his schedule, what he ate, or when he slept. That was much like going through a 2nd post-partum. My husband received many panicked calls from me that first week sobbing, “We should just give him back to them. I can’t even take care of my son as well as that awful daycare.”
What I didn’t realize is that the rainbow had already begun to form. As the days wore on, I began to settle into this new culture. It began to fit me so well, I wondered if I ever truly fit into the old culture of being a working mom. My son and I began to bond more than ever, and I was amazed at how he began flourishing. He never battled me on nap time, and it almost seemed as if he was happy to go down, knowing that I would be there when he woke up. My husband came home to a full cooked meal every night, a refrigerator filled with food, and his laundry done. So the only thing left for him to do was spend quality time with us until bedtime.
This was the culture I belonged to, and I decided that I was going to stay. The rainbow that has filled our lives has burned so brightly since then, that no storm has every come close to washing it away since then. I wonder sometimes if others have this same rainbow in their lives, but they forget to notice it because it’s always been there. Or maybe, there truly does need to be a storm sometimes before the rainbow can exist. If we hadn’t struggled to get where we are now, how would we know that it’s better over here? It’s times like these that I am glad for the dark times, as much I am the bright sunny ones.
A Little Miracle…With A Little Help

A Little Miracle…With A Little Help

Author’s note: The following blog entry is about fertility treatments. Because of the family nature of this website, please understand that reading between the lines is required.

Before we go any farther, I want to say that it wasn’t my fault. I want to make that very clear from the beginning. My boys could swim. They were Olympic swimmers. They could medal at Beijing, okay? I proved that fact the day I had to go through the humiliating process of walking into a crowded (of course) waiting room of a medical clinic and hand over for analysis a brown paper bag containing a cup of “me”. I guess I voluntarily put myself in this situation. Rather than perform the necessary procedure “on site” in a brightly lit sterile room with a stool and a magazine, I chose to take care of things in the privacy of my own home. Let’s be honest, guys. It’s all about home field advantage, y’know? Nobody performs as well in another ballpark (so to speak). Anyway I was taking a chance with this particular method because time was somewhat of the essence. I think the little guys have about 45 minutes to survive on their own in the big bad world. Luckily the clinic was only about a 5 minute drive from my house. Of course the real challenge was not falling asleep immediately after the deed was done which goes completely against the “man” code. But I did it, capped it, bagged it, drove it, and handed it over to a humorless nurse. I know she was humorless because I was trying to crack jokes to ease my obvious discomfort and I was getting nothing in return. Not even a smirk. Even my wife placates me with a sarcastic “ha ha” on occasion. The nurse took one bored look at the bag, looked at me and asked in a voice that in my opinion was a little louder than necessary, “Do you have your paperwork?” Sadly I answered her question with a question of my own, “What paperwork?” I wasted precious moments arguing that I had no idea I was supposed to bring any paperwork with me and when I realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere with Nurse Ratchet, rushed out the door. So while my boys were crowded into a plastic cup dying a slow death while looking for an egg they would never find, I sped back home, picked up the necessary paperwork and rushed back to the clinic in the nick of time. I rushed in heroically and handed my paperwork to the nurse giving the waiting clinic patients quite a show. Anyway even with the little swimmers on their last legs (or tails as it were) I was still deemed “very fertile” when the lab results came back. So, there. Okay, moving on. My wife and I began trying to conceive a child about 2 ½ years into our marriage. We went from “hoping for a happy accident” to “casually trying” to “Honey, it’s 7:23 PM exactly. Get upstairs right now, put 2 pillows under my lower back, and get yourself into a 56 degree angle….NO, you fool! You’re clearly at a 68 degree angle. MY GOD! Do you even want a baby??!!” After a year had passed with no results, we decided it was time to cheat. Not on each other, but rather on the procreation process. We met with a very nice fertility doctor who was also obviously very good at her job judging from her “wall of fame”. This was an entire wall of her office devoted to photographs of babies that she had helped create almost like a modern day Dr. Frankenstein. When my wife saw the wall she burst into tears dreaming of the day when our baby’s smiling face would be thumb tacked alongside the others. The first thing we had to do was to get checked out individually for any fertilization abnormalities. I have already recounted my vindicating albeit humiliating tale. My wife was found to be fertile as well, but in need of a little help to make things stick. A “baby boost” if you will. She started with Clomid pills and when that yielded no purchase, she began administering shots to herself. Actually, not quite to herself. She was scared to death of needles and was well aware of my infamous lack of hand eye coordination so she drove all the way down to the Dr.’s office each morning to have the professionals stick her. Now here’s the thing. Both of these methods significantly increased the hormones coursing through her body. And all of these hormones made for a very…uh…let’s say…intense personality. Lucky me. I was always told that “crazy wife” doesn’t appear until the first trimester of a pregnancy, but then again my wife has always been an overachiever. Our last resort before kicking everything up a notch to in vitro fertilization was the insemination process. My wife provides the target, I provide the ammo, and the doctor provides the gun. This is basically a procreation process that I liken to the ally oop maneuver in basketball. One guy throws the ball up to the net from outside of the paint, the other guy athletically leaps into the air and stuffs it home. In this case I’m the guy who throws the ball up. Five times my wife and I drove the ball down the court…literally. What a circus this was. I basically had to go through the same humiliating process I had endured the year before when I was tested. It was ridiculous! Leave it to science to take all of the fun out of an activity that I had been enjoying quite regularly since my mid teens. On an August morning in 2005, we awoke to commence this freak show for the 5th and final time. It was the last insemination our insurance would cover so we had to make this one count. My wife prepared breakfast and readied for work while I “got started”. A friend of mine was visiting from out of town and staying in our guest bedroom. I assured her that she may want to stay in there for a little while longer on that particular morning. Otherwise she would be privy to a morning shock from which she would never recover. So once again I did it, capped it, bagged it, and drove it. There were two significant differences from my previous adventure. This time I had farther to drive and my wife was in the passenger seat holding the evidence. To keep the sample as warm as possible, she held the paper bag between her breasts because she heard that this is the warmest place on the female body. It was kind of sweet in a way. It was kind of like her first motherly act. We panicked every time we saw brake lights in front of us. For some insane reason we were surprised that we were sitting in traffic at morning rush hour on a Southern California freeway. I rolled down my window and yelled, ”Come on! Lady with a baby! Seriously!” The few times traffic did let up, I exceeded the speed limit and secretly hoped a cop would pull us over. I was dying to explain the reason for our haste. I was even planning on asking for an escort the last few miles. We finally arrived at our destination and rushed inside. The next step was to “wash the sample” They put the cup in a big metal machine and prepared it for its final and crucial leg of the journey. I remember thinking, “I certainly hope my cup is the only one in there right now. For instance if a sweet Asian couple is also here hoping for their first child, and a mix up occurs we could have the makings of a real life wacky sitcom on our hands.” The nurse assured me that there were definite checks and balances and that there was nothing to worry about. The doctor stuffed the ally oop home with gusto…and an instrument resembling a turkey baster. Upon examining my wife’s uterus, the doctor also revealed that not only was the net open (to further the basketball analogy), but there were 7 others like it on the court. Basically the shots my wife had painfully endured for three months were working in spades. It was very possible my “very fertile” swimmers might find up to 8 targets. Instead of you, me and baby makes three, we were suddenly looking at a possible you, me and 8 babies makes bankruptcy. We could have been
one of those couples that end up on the cover of Newsweek. To make a long story short (oh it’s far too late for that), that August day proved to be the winning basket. Of the 8 follicles, only one was fertilized and successfully implanted. Now after two years with the lucky winner, it makes perfect sense. He’s a very tough kid. And yet I still carry a sadness with me sometimes. I find myself thinking the ridiculous thought that he’s not really mine. I mean I cheated. I just got the assist. Nobody remembers the guy who threw the ball up. Only the guy who finished the slam dunk. We men don’t like any help whether it’s directions to the interstate or conceiving a child. It’s all such male ego and prideful bullsh*t. And just when I’m thinking these ridiculous thoughts my son will turn to me and flash that smile that looks so eerily like mine. And I’ll sigh with relief and realize how wrong I am. I didn’t cheat. In fact I worked harder than most people to bring him into our world. That makes him special. That makes him a miracle. And that makes him all mine.And the doctor? Well as a reward for her beautiful slam dunk, she’s got a big old smiling picture of our miracle on her wall.
By Chris Loprete
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