My sister

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Wanted to share a post my sister recently shared. Also, I’m about to be an Aunt. Well, I already am an aunt to my brother-in-law’s kids. So I guess I’m about to be an Aunt, again. Point being, my sister is due with her first, in just a couple weeks. Here’s a glimpse into her journey:

I know, I’ve been quiet about my pregnancy. Protective is the better word. It’s not because this is my first; it’s because it’s my fifth. I like to keep my personal life private, but I share this because I know how lonely it is to go through it, and if I can let just one person know she isn’t alone, that makes the self-disclosure worth it.

A few years ago, Chris and I decided we wanted a kid. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly. There were lots of long discussions. We thought that was the hard part–deciding. As if the universe was just waiting on us: “Whenever you’re ready, guys.” How naive we were. My first pregnancy was ectopic–Greek for “out of place.” The embryo was stuck in my left fallopian tube–life-threatening for me, life-ending for the embryo. I had emergency surgery and lost the tube, the baby, and a lot of faith. We decided to try again some months later and when I got pregnant, we assumed all was well. We asked ourselves that jinx of a question: “What are the chances of something going wrong again?” Then the doctor called and said the baby wasn’t viable. I miscarried some weeks later.

The third time, we said, “Well, either the third time’s a charm, or three strikes and you’re out.” We were leaning on cliches at this point. I got past the first trimester and we thought we could breathe. A boy was on the way. We started discussing names. Then, weeks into the second trimester, they said my amniotic fluid was low. I was on bed rest for two weeks. At our next appointment, our son’s heartbeat was no more. After another surgery, we thought we were really done. This was too much for us. We didn’t know why these things kept happening. There was no common thread, medically, and all the professionals we consulted said “bad luck.” It felt like tempting fate to keep trying. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…. You know how it goes.
Eventually, though, we decided to try again. What’s that infamous definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome? We were crazy, I guess. The fourth time resulted in another ectopic. They didn’t even know where the embryo had implanted, meaning surgery wasn’t an option. I had to do shots of methotrexate, which is a drug they use for cancer because it stops cells from multiplying. It took two months for me to be “unpregnant” again. I asked my doctor, point blank, “Should we just give up?” He said, “No, I don’t think so.” We consulted with IVF doctors, thinking maybe if someone could just put the embryo in the right place, we’d save ourselves a lot of heartache. They wouldn’t work with us though. They said I didn’t have enough eggs, that our chances of success would be 5%.

We could either try again on our own or give up. I felt we had to try again.  And now I am 37 weeks pregnant with a little girl.

It was just a few weeks ago when I got up the nerve to ask her for one of her ‘Mama Bird’ shirts and she took some photos of me. Wearing the shirt feels dangerous, arrogant. I still live with fear of loss every day. It hasn’t gone away. But, I AM a mother.  I think anyone who has lost a child in utero is a mother. For a woman, it starts the day you find out you’re pregnant. It must be a function of nature, preparing us for the responsibility to come.

If you have lost a baby, I feel your pain. And if you ever need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to send me a message. I’m working on a book about our whole experience because this is something I feel so passionately about. It’s a terrible thing to go through, and so many go through it. You are not alone, and there is hope.

Van @ 5 Years

Growth & Appearance: Your rat tail is going strong. You asked to cut it but that ship seems to have sailed and we don’t bring it up. Your concern being that ‘only girls have long hair’. You also complained that it bothers you when the wind is blowing. But then we offer to cut it and you say no. And you love the compliments you get on it because they always come from the most awesome characters.

You had your 5 year checkup and are in the 90-something percentile for height and 70’s for weight, I think. You weigh 43lbs and feel denser than a rock to me. It’s harder to lift you up these days.

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Eating: You ask for snacks constantly. As soon as you wake up in the morning, you want a snack. It’s easy to see why considering you do nothing more than play with your food at mealtime.

Bribery goes a long way. The other night I told you you could have a piece of chewing gum if you finished your dinner and not but 3 minutes later, your plate was practically licked clean. It doesn’t always work, in fact other times we have to deal with you pushing your food around only to additionally have to deal with you whining because you didn’t eat enough to earn dessert. In general mealtime is painful.

You love macaroni, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peaches, and all the junk your future-diabetic self will have regretted loving.San clemente family photographer-0215

Sleeping: You sleep on the bottom bunk and won’t let me leave the room until I’ve given you a kiss. You also insist on picking out your own book to ready before bedtime and generally will hate whatever book I pick out based solely on the fact you weren’t the one to chose it.

You’re no longer needing your pull-up at night, which really has been a long time coming but you held on it for longer than we thought you’d care to (cuz only babies wear diapers — your words, not mine). You’ve done just fine wearing big boy undies to bed, as we suspected. San clemente family photographer-0217

Development & Personality:

You started riding your bike without training wheels a few weeks ago, as well as riding a skateboard in peddle-peddle-glide-peddle fashion.

You’re determined to blow a bubble with your gum. You’re almost there.

You can throw a ball with force and accuracy and are all-around super coordinated. You ask to play basketball.

You can write your name in all capitol letters and can count to 30 or 40.

You follow whatever Hooper does or tells you to do and we’re having to remind you often that you need to think for yourself.

You’re stubborn and hard-headed and sometimes it feels like you can’t get out of your own way. You like things a certain way and so often it feels like in ways that aren’t possible. Like you’re particular about how close your laces come to touching the floor; point being, we’ve vowed only to buy you slip ons and velcro-strap shoes to alleviate that problem. Though you’re particular about how tight the velcro is as well, so that’s not necessarily the solution.

You’re wicked smart and catch on to things really fast. I don’t worry at all about how you’ll perform in kindergarten.

Your better behaved and more easy going for others than you are for your Papa and I. We get great reports from your teachers and other parents but your fourth year was kinda a rough one for us here at home; a lot of change, too, with a new baby.

You have the most infectious laugh and are easily amused and well-liked by your peers.

You speak with the cutest New York accent, which is really a speech impediment. We’re fine with it never correcting itself. You say “Hooper” like “Hoopa”.

You attempt to putting legos together yourself but usually need assistance throughout the process, making us all hate legos.San clemente family photographer-0226
Favorites: You tend to claim Hooper’s interests as your own but when given the choice between legos and a remote controlled car, you most always chose the car. You love playing mindless games on my phone but your opportunities to do so are few and far between. You love sports and say that basketball is your favorite.

Sonny @ 16-17 Months

Growth & Appearance: You have most all your teeth now, with one lingering one that has yet to poke through. We bought you a toothbrush, which you love. We waited with Hooper because for whatever reason the thought didn’t cross our minds. Then, with Van, we started brushing his teeth as soon as he had one. And now, with you, it jus slipped our mind until now. Guess we’ve come full circle.

You hair is officially blond. It took longer than I remember it taking for your brothers’ hair and I was nearly convinced you’d have brown hair, like me. You hair is long and most always in your face. We put it up in a little bun often but you like that take it out without warning or reason and so we’ve lost lots of rubber bands. You get called a girl often, not to worry, the whole idea of gender is going out the window anyway.

You weigh 25lbs and at your last checkup you were in the 92nd percentile for height and 60th for weight. You’re still in size 4 diapers and you wear size 18-24 month clothing.

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Eating: I officially weaned you from breastfeeding in June. It was much easier, emotionally speaking, than I had anticipated. It was the right time and we did it slowly so I think the hormone shift was slight and bearable. I was worried that you weren’t drinking enough from a bottle but ever since we quit, you drink plenty. Life works out like that, doesn’t it?

You love trying to use utensils and will fuss and whine until we give you your own to use. We go through a lot of utensils this way since we’re both feeding you with one and allowing you to play with another. But I suppose that’s how you learn.

You love to throw your food as soon as you’re full and it’s a mad dash to clear your tray when this starts to happen so as to combat it all ending up on the floor. You’re making Jimmie fat.

You’re not the best eater… you like what you like. In the mornings I often make you oatmeal mixed with spinach and berries. You also like yogurt with fruit in it. You love bananas and avocados. Chicken nuggets are your jam. And dinner, when we give you what we’re eating, is usually not successful, with a few exceptions.

You rock back and forth in your highchair so wildly I worry about it tipping over.

You know where the snack cabinet is and are demanding about what you want and when you want it. You prefer fruit snacks and yogurt covered raisins.

We call you the “sous chef” because you’re insistent about being in your Papa’s arms while he’s cooking.San clemente family photographer-0340

Sleeping: Same old story here minus a few naps you’ve been fighting as of late, though I think that’s resolved. You sleep for 3-4 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon.

Nearly every morning we come in to find your pajamas halfway zipped down, that’s your new thing.

You tend to go back to sleep after the boys leave the room for school.

You’re attached to your blanket and know it’s time for sleep as soon as we hand it to you. You put your thumb in immediately. It’s pretty sweet.

Development: You’re saying all kinds of words, way too many to list here. Here are a few: “go” (said for ‘here ya go’, when you’re bringing us something’), “mel” (for milk), “side” (for outside), “bubbles”, “hooper”, “key-kat”, “doggie”, “hot” and so on and so forth.

Your relatively safe to go down the stairs by yourself. We can’t leave you unattended just yet because of obstacles like laundry on the stairs, or Jimmie running up or down, etc, but you’re able to walk down or slide down with ease.

You love being outside and are at an age where we can cook dinner or do dishes and watch from inside as you play outside. It’s a game changer. And nice to see you gaining independence.

I caught you picking your nose, so you’re aware of those two holes.

You have a great sense of humor.

You like sitting on the skateboard and rocking back and forth. You’ve ate it a few times and could care less.

On the flip side, you make a big deal when anything harms you. Like you purposefully put your finger in a socket like hole and then look at one of us and say “owwwee”. It seems attention seeking so I try to pay it little attention. Which is hard because most of the day I just want to eat you.San clemente family photographer-0333

Favorites: You still adore you g’pa Jeffers, he’s your one and only when he’s around. You love ringing the doorbell and playing with our electric toothbrushes. You love balls — not the two you own but the ones lingering around the home that you like to kick and throw. You love being outside and you love playing with your brothers’ toys while they’re in school.

Childhood Unplugged

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It’s humorous, to me anyway, to think about how much pressure I put on myself to expose my children to the world; to all the languages and all the cultures. Well, not all the food because anyone who knows me knows I’m as picky as they come. But point being, I will put myself through the proverbial ringer to expose my children to all I can. I suppose because it’s what shaped me in so many ways and, as life goes, I feel compelled to pass the same onto my own little humans.

I’ve spent countless nights scouring flights to exotic lands. It’s fun to dream. And then more fun to make a dream a reality.

Perhaps this is all digressing because the whole point of this is to say that in my insistence on schlepping our kids all over the place I totally forgot about all the culture embedded in our own backyard. Okay fine, not exactly our backyard, but a feasible drive away. In Venice, on the boardwalk. Where really, anything goes and has for sometime.

Venice: where street performers, skaters, weight lifters, lovers, beach bums, drug dealers, weird birds on the beach that actually let you pet them (we washed and sanitized very well) and a thousand other things come together and make your head turn in every which direction. Doesn’t hurt either to have the company of your very best friend.

All this to say that my hopes for taking the older boys to Asia later this year have all but dissipated but that perhaps staying local and spending more time on the boardwalk may just provide the same opportunity. I’m trying to sell myself on it, anyway.

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