Family musings

In less than a month, our rainbow turns two. It’s about right now that people start wondering (or have been wondering for awhile) but start asking out loud, if we are planning on having more kids. Just this week I’ve been asked that question three different times. And if I’m being honest, it’s been on my mind for the last six months or so, as well.

I’ll cut to the chase and add details as I go. Chad and I are 100% UNSURE if we are having more kids at this point. We are literally on the fence about it. For a couple months this question troubled me a lot. For some reason I felt I needed to DECIDE! Cami IS turning 2 and I am over 33 years old! I don’t have many good child-bearing years left in me. But then I realized (therapy helped) that the pressure of having to decide was only causing anxiety and decreasing clarity. So Chad and I decided that we would deliberately NOT decide for awhile.

And that is where we are right now: consciously NOT deciding to have or not have another baby.

Whenever one of us brings the topic up, the other seems to take the opposing view. If I say, “I think I might be done,” Chad will say that he doesn’t think we are done. If I say,  “I think I might want another baby,” Chad will say, “I’d have to really think about that.” So there is no direction or consensus. And that’s fine. Without any pressure to come to a conclusion, we get to live more in the present with our daughters and evaluate the needs of our family, as it stands right now.

One thing Chad and I have realized this last year, since having a toddler Cami roaming the house in addition to a spunky Hailee, is that PARENTING IS HARD. I honestly feel like having one child is a CAKE WALK compared to two. And I HEAR having three increases the difficulty exponentially. This year, as parents, has stretched us, challenged us, and driven us to the limits of our sanity. I’m not going to say we’ve been miserable. In fact we’ve mostly felt the opposite. We’ve been good AND it’s been incredibly hard. I don’t think we have particularly hard children. I also don’t think we have the easiest children either.

Cami is a pure delight and a great little toddler. BUT she is, by definition, a toddler, and lives up to that reputation.

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Hailee has always been emotional and struggles with emotion regulation. We as parents have struggled, in turn, how to help Hailee regulate her emotions. This is challenging and draining.

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But if that were all, I think we’d be inclined to have more kids. Because these two we have here with us, are pretty amazing.

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It’s the effects of having lost our son Charlie that mostly interfere with our desire to have more kids. I honestly cannot adequately describe the TOLL losing a baby takes on your body and soul. We live with constant fear (I’m not exaggerating) of losing another one of our children, because we KNOW how easily and quickly that could happen. When I think of having another baby, I feel overwhelmed thinking, “It’s hard enough to keep these two alive!”

There is this quote I put in Hailee’s baby book that says, “Having a child is to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” When you are a parent, you feel and are, vulnerable. I think all parents feels this vulnerability. And I think most parents are cocooned within this cozy layer of naivete. Bad things happen, but to OTHER PEOPLE. I know I was that way before we lost Charlie. I can never be that blissfully ignorant again.

As a result, our experience as parents now includes pain. I don’t mean that to sound dramatic. It’s not. It’s our reality. Parenting is hard, period. It’s even HARDER with a thick layer of trauma, grief, and FEAR plastered on.

That first year of Cami’s life was HONESTLY about KEEPING HER ALIVE. It was beautiful and full of sweet memories but the primary objective was: Get Cami past the SIDS risk. It was almost as hard as surviving the first year after Charlie died. The anxiety was horrible. The trauma memories that flooded us that year were so painful. The sleep deprivation was barely survivable. Our marriage really suffered as all else took a backseat to keeping Cami alive. We really were slightly crazy that year.

This year we’ve regained some semblance of sanity and are beginning to live again. But this living feels tenuous, always lined with fear. We are trying to be brave and as a result we are creating some awesome memories as a family. And I feel like it’s the first time in YEARS that I’ve been able to take a deep (albeit tentative) breath.

As we are finally getting our feet back under us, it’s hard to want to rip that ground away with adding more vulnerability and fear in the form of another family member. Plus, my pregnancies have all included some significant complication, and if history were to hold true, the vulnerability begins at conception!

Also, as a personal rant. I have always wanted three kids. And three kids I have! I HATE that I don’t get to have all three of them here. I also hate that I don’t get credit for having three kids. People see me and I think they see a mother of two, not three. That’s hard on me. It makes me sad.

Anyway, I could go on as I have more to say but that enough musing for now on this topic.

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The big SIX

Hailee officially turned six last week! We had a couple different celebrations for her! The first celebration was her birthday party! While I briefly fantasized about hosting a darling (pirate themed-per Hailee’s request) birthday party at our house, replete with activities and decorations pulled from Pintrest, I ultimately remembered how much LESS stressful destination parties are! Even if they are a bit more expensive. This year, Hailee wanted to have her birthday party at Airborne Trampoline Arena: a giant trampoline warehouse. We had quite the showing of little friends for Hailee, given that she is in two schools! We also had important adults in Hailee’s life attend the party: Her Baba was in town, Zee and Wendy, Erica, and the moms of some of her bestees, like Ruki and Sarah all participated in the celebration. I loved watching my little social butterfly play with every friend that came to her party. Hailee had an absolutely wonderful time! And all the kids enjoyed themselves too, even though there was a bloody nose and a head injury, and ultimately lots of whining for slurpees, for which we doled out extra money as slurpees weren’t included in the party package. Overall, the party was an amazing success!

IMG_6579 IMG_6610 IMG_6639IMG_6728IMG_6673 IMG_6671 IMG_6695 IMG_6694The next celebrations involved visiting Hailee’s classrooms to deliver treats and spotlight this special little lady.

IMG_6972IMG_6959I loved how Hailee insisted on passing out cupcakes to her fellow classmates. Royalty should always serve the commoners! 😉

IMG_7017At Challenger they don’t allow parents to bring treats but they spotlight each kid on their birthday and sing a groovy birthday song to them. Hailee glowed with the attention!

Finally, on the day of Hailee’s ACTUAL birthday, with all these celebrations done, Chad and I took Hailee out for a special parent-Hailee date. We got a sitter for Cami and asked Hailee where she would like to go. No surprise here: the pool!

IMG_7014 IMG_7015It was great to spend some quality time just with Hailee to celebrate the day she made us parents!

And FINALLY, for scrapbooking purposes, I interviewed Hailee on her birthday. I love this and hope to make it an annual tradition. Here are Hailee’s answers to twenty questions:

  1. Favorite color: pink
  2. Favorite toy: Little Live Bird that sings when you pet it and repeats what you say
  3. Favorite fruit: apples because they are so juicy
  4. Favorite TV show: Little Charmers
  5. Favorite thing to eat for lunch: Romen Noodles
  6. Favorite outfit: Any summer clothing (she’ll try to wear it year round). Definitely NOT her Challenger uniform.
  7. Favorite game: hide and seek
  8. Favorite snack: strawberries
  9. Favorite animal: Unicorn (Please never stop believing in Unicorns Hailee!)
  10. Favorite song: Elsa song-Let it Go
  11. Favorite book: Fancy Nancy
  12. Best friend: Grace Packer
  13. Favorite cereal: Lucky Charms
  14. Favorite thing to do outside: ride my scooter
  15. Favorite drink: water
  16. Favorite holiday: summer
  17. Take to bed with you: stuffed animals
  18. Favorite thing to eat for breakfast: cereal
  19. Favorite place to eat out: Noodles and Co
  20. What do you want to be when you grow up: Teacher

At six, Hailee continues to bring so much light and joy into our life! She plays so well with her little sister and her teachers at school comment on how wonderful Hailee is to have in the classroom. One of her teachers told me that Hailee is a reason she loves teaching and that one day, randomly, Hailee hugged her and said, “thank you for teaching us.” Another teacher told me that she took down our Christmas card just a couple weeks ago because she loved having a photo of Hailee up in her house!

While Hailee is amazing at school, she can be very naughty at home. She challenges us as parents and I find myself turning to parenting books for help. We have recently made subtle but important changes and are already seeing a great difference in our little girl (e.g. consistent bed time, consistent consequences for not listening or acting out-having to go to bed 15 minutes early for each infraction, consistent falling asleep and staying in her own bed, and more concerted effort on our parts to praise her for positive behavior). Overall, Hailee is a GOOD girl with a BIG heart. She is emotional, feeling deeply both the highs and lows of daily experience. She is resilient and bounces back quickly and is passionate about all she does. She is a social butterfly, making friends wherever she goes. She hugs, kisses, and just loves with abandon! I am so grateful to have had the last six years raising and loving on Hailee! Happy sixth birthday Hailee!