19 Weeks – It’s A…….!

A very common question from everyone, once you are pregnant, is whether or not you are going to find out the sex of your baby.  I always knew I would.  I am a straight type A person who needs to plan, plan, and plan.  I could not keep sane decorating a nursery and buying clothes for a child I did not know the gender of.  I have had friends that have not found out the gender and I applaud them.  I get how cool it would be to find out that day, I do get it.  However, they are stronger than I am.

Yesterday Rebecca joined the Husband and I for the anatomy scan and to find out if we were right on our assumption that the human I am growing is indeed a girl.  I can finally say that yes, we are having a girl!  I now feel like we can say, game on! Let the shopping begin!

Our appointment went really well.  She is measuring exactly as she should be and weighs 10 oz.  We have a  perinatologist that we meet with, whom I adore, and he has eased so much anxiety with this pregnancy.  He spent a lot of time explaining everything as he measured her and did extensive looks at her heart as we are keeping a specific eye out for that due to my family’s heart issues.  We will do another anatomy in eight weeks as there is concern that the heart medication that I take will slow her growth.

We happily left with a string of ultrasound pictures.  Rebecca thought it was very nice of them to give us all those pictures for free.  Yes, free, that is what happened there.

 

 

Irrational Fears

After my miscarriage I had a lot of issues with fears over my Husband.  I would often panic that he wasn’t going to make it home, get an accident, suddenly die in his sleep, etc.  Until he was safely home every night, my mind would run rampant with worst case scenarios.  I don’t know where it came from but I read of other people experiencing the same thing.  The fears faded with time as things got back to a new normal but in the past couple of weeks it has reemerged.

I think it is the curse of three’s or whatever you want to call it.  It seems when one person dies, more follow, whether you know them closely or not.  I think that is what is starting to feed this fear of mine again.  This month feels like we have been surrounded by death, illness, and bad news.  People with sick newborns, preemie babies, young husband’s/father’s dying of cancer, car accidents, it seems we have had or heard it all.

Last night my Husband called me, as always, to say he was on his way home.  It should take him 30 minutes.  At the 40 minute mark I was nearing the panic button, assuming the worst.  Is it the pregnancy?  Hormones?  Is this normal?  I would think so.  I don’t assume I am exempt from worst case scenarios.  I don’t want to think “It will never happen to me” because things do happen, life happens.  No matter what, having a baby, is a big life change and my brain must be starting to register a lot of it.  Then again, when this type of stuff happens to anyone it can cause them to reevaluate.

At the same time, I don’t want to live in this constant state of fear.  It isn’t realistic, worth it or good for me.  I’m looking for a balance.  I need to step back and take a few more deep breaths.  That is my goal this weekend.  To pray for those that need it a bit more, be thankful for the little moments, and deal with my anxiety instead of feeding it.

Have you or anyone else you known dealt with this?

First Babies R Us Venture-Travel System

This weekend we went to Home Depot three times and Lowes once.  That adds up to hours of my life that I will never get back and truck loads of stuff brought back to my house.  Yes, we are those people in pro-parking with things so loaded down and strapped in you really wonder what the hell is happening back at their house.  Then we fold ourselves into the front seat and head home, hoping nothing flies off the truck bed and wondering why we don’t just bring the trailer every time.

Since we weren’t busy enough with that we thought it would be a good time to wander in to Babies R Us for the first time.  Why not?!  I have a few items that I have researched and have assumed they are the ones I want (car seat and stroller) but I wanted to actually go in to the store and touch them with my hands first.  With summer holiday’s coming up, the sales tend to follow.  I don’t want to miss out on the sales because we are too busy with the basement and are then paying full price for the larger, pricey items.

We have a few concerns and desires on our car seat/stroller system.  I honestly think baby items differ from family to family based on where you live, what you are using them for and your budget options.  Due to the high safety ratings I narrowed the brand down to Chicco.  Also, I’m not a big person and wanted a less bulky stroller and lighter car seat which Chicco also offered us some better options for.  Thirdly, we wanted a stroller that could easily be gate checked when we traveled.  My Husband had a few of his own needs when it came to strollers.  We needed one that was more narrow and less cumbersome as my Husband has PTSD issues in crowds and fighting a crowd with a bulky stroller is not fun.  Chicco has a lightweight plus stroller that fits all of the must have items for us.

So there we found ourselves in Babies R Us, early on a Sunday morning.  I parked myself on a shelf while my Husband took apart a bunch of strollers and car seats and then put them back together.  Knowing this is how his brain works, I just let him go.  He declared half of the items complete shit and asked why they weren’t built by NASA or the military.  Sales people didn’t dare come near us or question him and I promise you he left everything as he found it.

In the end, my internet research was worth it and everyone is happy with the decision.  We found our way to the rocking chairs to sit and debate on what was left to purchase on the basement list.  Multi-tasking, that is what we are good at.  At least we can shut our parents up and say yes, we have looked at baby items!  Now to wait for the sales.  No one said having a baby was cheap!

This is Our Story, Our Family

Begin Rebecca’s story here.

I can truly tell you that I am fucked up by Rebecca’s journey. I never want her to read that sentence and feel she did something wrong though. I wouldn’t trade it for anything but my life is not normal. I gave up a lot of dreams to stick with her. A child that was merely place in my arms one day, has altered the entire course of our lives. I don’t get the opportunity to share the simple “Mommy” conversations. My arms ache when other parents want a vacation from their kids, I want a vacation with mine. I get it is two different worlds but I ache for the chance to have parenting “normal.”

That may sound horrible. I never want Rebecca to think she was anything less but I can’t wait to have another little girl. Not for a chance at a redo but a chance to not have to share it all. A chance to not have anything taken away from me. A chance to not lay in bed missing the weight in my arms and a chance for the fear to subside. A chance to not have to get a hug from someone else’s child because I miss mine extra that day. It is something that I think both the Ex and I have learned to bury, we deal with it in our own private time. We can still share a simple look or text and just know. No one cares anymore about the steps we go through, our friends think it is annoying by this point when they are trying to plan things. In their world they get a babysitter, in our world we would rather figure out who gets Saturday night Disney shows with her.

I feel my next child will suffer as part of all of this. As in I don’t want her/him out of my sight. The chance to make decisions, just my Husband and I. The chance to start from the beginning and not have the stress. When people mention the stress of a newborn and everything that comes with it, I want to laugh. Yes, it is true, but it could be so much worse. I want to shake them and ask if they know how lucky they are?! I want the chance to not be questioned as a parent.

I’m ready for the normalcy that everyone else has experienced around having a baby.

Yes, the Ex became an Ex after a few years of marriage gave way to the knowledge that we weren’t meant to be together.  On a simple December day, after very civil proceedings, the Ex and I walked together into a court room to dissolve our marriage. We both re-married to very understanding people who jumped on board with raising Rebecca and respect our crazy version of family.

Over the years the Ex and I came up with our own terms of parenting.  No, we aren’t the normal family but what  is normal by this day? We are two blond-haired, blue-eyed people with a hispanic kid.  Most people assume I got knocked up in High School by some illegal and the Ex was so grand as to accept my oopsy.  You think I’m joking?  Check yourself the next time you glance at parents and question the child they have with them.  Oh, but then people would want an explanation like I owe them something.  The easiest answer has been to say she was adopted and they nod like they half believe me because what college kids adopted a baby?  Then we say we share custody and it is a long story.  Somehow this is more believable for most.

The biggest problem is, everyone has an opinion and after 13 years of this, we don’t feel anyone has a right to an opinion on this.  They haven’t walked in our footsteps, they haven’t fought our battle, they don’t deserve an opinion.  Yes, I know I get defensive but I think I have earned that right.

We have been nothing but straight with Rebecca on everything that happened and at 13 she is pretty smart about it.  She knows the mental issues her bio Mom has. She knows one day she can sit and pull out the dusty old box to read all the papers that hold more than she may ever want to know.  She calls my Ex Dad now and me by my name as her bio Mom practically beat her over the head till she quit calling me Mom. In our quiet moments, to this day, she reminds me she has a Mom that gave birth to her and the one that saved her.  That moment right there is enough to get me through every moment where I want to drill people in the face for questioning what degree of a parent I am.  The Ex and I have been judged by all.  I didn’t actually give birth, we don’t have her 24/7 to this day, and on and on.  We have heard it all and I’m sure we won’t hear the end.  We learned a long time ago to ignore it and move on.

Rebecca explains her story differently depending on the situation.  She will keep it basic or elaborate like we own a foreign country that she is entitled to one day.  She always handles it with more grace than we do.  We get our feelings hurt a bit more by this point than she does.

We are just like any other parents carrying around a great amount of worry over raising a child.  My Aunt slowly dissolved out of Rebecca’s life after her own divorce from my Uncle.  My Uncle has slowly worked himself further out of her life as well, even though primary custody resides with him until she is 18.  Her bio Mom has kept herself out of jail, remained drug free, and cleaned up quite a bit but still does not hold a job and is plagued with mental problems.  For that reason alone she is not capable of regaining custody of Rebecca.  Bio Mom has been able to retain more time with her now that Rebecca is old enough to handle her own. The rest of the time she goes between my Ex and I. The same rules apply at each home.  If you are grounded at one, you are grounded at the other. Phone calls go around for school conferences or anytime we have to make a visit to the principal’s office.  Some say the kid has it rough but the kid also has it damn good, she doesn’t know any different. She has more of a family than most kids do even if it has to be spread out amongst different homes.  She really does love it.

The years have not stayed simple for us though.  The schedule is ever-changing.  There are a million people to check in with.  Plans are all last-minute and I hate going too long without seeing her.  Just imagine for a moment sharing your child with others.  Not truly having a say but having all the same worry.

Since that court date the Ex and I have remained strong, aside from a few falters during our divorce, we have never wavered as a team on this.  Thank God.  You guys, it is hard.  It is the hardest fucking thing ever.  I can not wait for that child to graduate High School.  We are still doing the same thing we have been doing since the day we left court, getting up every day and doing it again.  That is what parenting is to us.  And this is our story.

 

“It Is During Our Darkest Moments That We Must Focus to See the Light.”

Start here for Rebecca’s story

Box by box we put our life away.  Tucked neatly into bubble wrap to head to a place we were both dreading.  An apartment that neither of us wanted but it was the only option.  We were sure it would only be a short six months and we would get it together and buy a house.  I just didn’t know at the time it would be 5 years later and the Ex would be moving into our dream home with another woman while I stayed behind in that dreaded apartment to face our divorce.

He had to practically stuff me in the truck with the last of our stuff.  My broom hitting me in the head, the fish in a bowl between my feet and my gecko lizard on my lap.  I just let it all go as we drove away from that house.  He rubbed my arm to console me as we bounced down the gravel driveway and told me it would be okay.  In reality we hit the end of the driveway and he was crying too.  The first night in that apartment we laid in bed crying for everything.  Crying for the loss of our young adulthood, crying for the loss of our friends, crying for the home we loved, the baby that held us together and crying for the fact that our dreams were crashing around us faster than we could handle.

But life goes on, right?

We got up the next day and unpacked.  I slowly started going back to the office more and we entertained our families with wedding talk.  And most importantly, we were finally able to integrate Rebecca back into our lives.  Day by day until she was finally settled back into her bed and sleeping soundly.  She would spend her first several trips walking around touching all of her toys, like she thought they were gone for forever.  She acted as though no time had passed but we knew better, it passed and things changed.  We didn’t call the shots any longer and my Aunt and Uncle were  separating, divorce pending.  A schedule was set up to pass her back and forth and their divorce proceeded as our wedding neared.

The thing is, just like that, those 14 months of fighting became non-existent to everyone.   The truth is I wanted someone to scream with me how it wasn’t fair.  I wanted someone to tear apart every moment with me like you do a bad break-up.  I wanted anything.  The Ex and I couldn’t do it with one another anymore.  I think we felt guilt or inadvertently placed guilt on the other.  Blame placement.  Whatever you want to call it.  The only thing people would say was how great it was my Aunt and Uncle were for stepping up.  I didn’t need an award but I was deflated.

I think there did become a point in this that the Ex and I got back to the basics but only after Rebecca was back in our lives.  That glue, there it was again.  Someone to fight for.  It wasn’t life as it was before but we thought, surely we should be grateful.

So on September 16, 2006 we woke to our wedding day.  We were married, outside, in between bad storms that swept through, while the Ex carried Rebecca down the aisle.  She rode away from the ceremony in the back seat of the Mustang with us, strapped in her car seat while we went down the highway holding hands in the front seat.  She danced our first dance with us and sat on his lap while we ate at our reception.  We smiled and drank champagne.  We looked the perfect part because I think that is what everyone needed to see in us by that point.

I would like to say if life re-wound and we didn’t have her come in our lives that we still would have gotten married.  I really wish I could think that we would have because I can’t imagine us not being married for the time we were.  Without that time together I wouldn’t be with the wonderful man I am now.   Then again, I could argue the opposite.  What if she never came into our lives and we didn’t have the stress that drove us to change?  It just goes to show the journey life gives us and how fate has a way of doing its own thing.

“Faith is, at one and the same time, absolutely necessary and altogether impossible.” -Stanislaw Lem

As we sat through days of court my heart sank more and more.  It no longer looked like our hard work was paying off and I could read it on Lawyers face.  The judge repeatedly questioned my Ex and I staying together even though we were engaged.  Finally the judge mentioned something that made me lose so much faith in God himself.  He asked who else there was that could help with this child.

The judge witnessed Bio Mom have outbursts in the courtroom and saw every piece of evidence but we looked like kids to him.  Unmarried kids who were clearly ruining this world.  So who else could step up?

There was no one else in the family that would come forward except for one aunt and uncle.  The only ones the Ex and I got along with.  I had been close with them and they had mainly stayed out of the court proceedings in general.  I don’t remember how the cards were laid out but there they were.  Saying if the judge wouldn’t pick us they would step up since the options were slim.  Here is the thing, I knew they were separated at the time.  I knew they were having problems with their marriage but I failed.  I failed to make the judge understand that we were the best option so I had to jump on Plan B.

One day they had to take the stand, one day our child slowly, no, quickly slipped from our hands.  I watched as my Aunt, then my Uncle, took the stand and swore under oath that they were in a solid marriage, when they weren’t.  I had no other options though.

I don’t really remember that last day in court.  I remember times where my Mom and Ex asked why I didn’t look at them while I was on the stand.  It was because I didn’t want to cry in that fucking room.  I waited till we got home.  If I were to look at them I was afraid I would never be able to stop the tears and I didn’t want to show weakness to that judge.  The judge said custody would go to my Aunt and Uncle.  People who had never cared for Rebecca in their life.  People who tried for years to have their own child but couldn’t and who were now on the path to divorce.  People who I had grown up having respect for showed up at the 11th hour and now had the reins to the child we had raised for years.

And just like that, it was over.

The Ex and I stood in shock outside the courtroom, with Lawyer, who looked equally as shocked.  There he looked at us and we all fought tears.  He told me he never expected us to get anywhere with this case.  Then he told me something that would stay with me forever….that every lawyer has a case in their career that sticks with them for forever.  A case that makes them realize why they decided to be a lawyer.  A case that changes them as a person forever.  We made him go home early more often than not and kiss his kids once more and thank God he had them.  We were it.  We were that case.  I send him a Christmas card every year and an updated picture of Rebecca because she sits in a frame on his desk for that reminder.

14 months from the time I set foot in Lawyers office till the final day.

2 private investigators.

1 job loss.

1 break-up.

1 engagement.

$26,000 total.

Life changing.

I wish I could say we walked out of the courthouse doors that day and life was good.  I wish I could even tell you we were happy.  You may think you know how the story ends but in truth, you don’t know how much pain follows us to this day.  Because honestly, to this day, that is what we hold in the most.  We nod that it is okay but to this day I have yet had a moment go by where I don’t worry about her and don’t feel a deep amount of regret and fear of the unknown.  To this day I can’t explain these last days in the courtroom in detail.  I can’t explain how everything twisted and careened out of control and then ended so abruptly.

Taking the Stand

To begin Rebecca’s story start here.

There are moments that happen in your life and you have no idea they are life changing moments.  I have learned that is for the better.  When you sit in that life changing moment and KNOW it is happening, it can be so much worse.  You are changing the course of your life, you are changing the course of your fiance’s life, you are changing the course of a child’s life.

Nothing takes away the blood thumping in your ears or the pounding of your heart.  To sit and take an oath upon a bible while the people you love and hate bore their eyes into you is scary.  To attempt to swallow and wet your throat so you can gasp for that next bit of air is ruthless.  I had never wanted to run so fast in my life.  On the outside, to everyone else, I just sat still on a witness stand in a black suit.  I raised my right hand, nodded yes and glanced at my now Ex, then fiance, for something, anything…Dear God, help us.  Help HER.  If there was ever one moment….my Ex just nodded at me and we both just KNEW, here it goes, it may have been me on that stand but it was OUR life.  The THREE of us…

You know he never asked to be in this position.  He wasn’t the best husband down the road, obviously, but he was a great Dad.  He still is.  If there is one other priority besides his work, it is Rebecca, and remains true to this day.  As a baby, Rebecca woke constantly in the middle of the night courtesy of being a marijuana baby.  She was awful,  there is no denying it.  While I spent days with her the nights were for my Ex.  I could try to get up with her at night but she would stop crying long enough to inform me “da da, da da!”  I took the hint as I went back to bed and he picked her up so they could dance up and down the dark hallways at 3am.  It was their time.  Never once did he complain.

I sat on that stand trying not to cry while everyone took their seats, while my fate was being settled into one moment and the lawyers started questioning me one by one.  Who I was, what I thought, my past present and future while Bio Mom looked on with glares.  There were points the judge would stop and want to ask me a question and I would answer quietly.  If I could take back anything, if I could go back and do anything it would be on that stand.  I have guilt in those moments to this day, major guilt, that I didn’t do it right, not good enough.  I was scared.  I was fucking scared and I don’t know if I fought hard enough.  I don’t know if I pushed like I should have.  There was only one other time I felt that…and that was in my divorce.  I forgave myself over time for that.  When I look at Rebecca now, I don’t know if I forgive myself, in fact, I know I haven’t.

That first time on the stand I remember looking at my Ex, the man working his ass off for us to do this and I walked back to my seat feeling I had failed.  It wasn’t just that day either, court crushed me EVERY fucking day I walked in there.  Months of preparation, I was so far into a depression I think it failed me in court and the only thing getting me out of bed in the mornings was the Ex and Rebecca.