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Disclaimer, in case you missed it

The content of this blog is usually unsuitable for overly sensitive persons with low self-esteem, no sense of humor or irrational religious (an oxymoron if ever there has been one) beliefs. If you are not the kind of person who likes snarky humor or chicks who swear, you are still free to read our entries (how else will you learn, after all?) and all comments are welcome.  Feel free to call The Smumzie out whenever you disagree with us (how else will we learn, after all?).  However, attacking another commenter is more than just an irritating social faux pas, it’s comment abuse.  Such behavior will be discouraged under the Don’t be an Asshole rule and you will be beheaded.

This blog is written for anyone who is a step-mother, has a step-mother, or has ever met one and wants to be as cool as she is.  If your children are now spending time with your ex husband’s new wife, boy are you in for a treat.  Instead of hating us just on the principle that we’re the next woman in his life, think of this blog as a spy inside enemy lines  – though, honestly, we are not the enemy and deep down inside, you know this. We’re both trying to do the best we can to raise your child(ren) so let’s work together on doing what’s right for the kid(s), whaddayasay?

It is also written for women trying to have babies but not having much success.  We write for IPs (Intended Parents), and for the surrogates, egg donors and same-sex couples who understand the ART (Assisted Reproductive Therapies) vernacular an emotional upheaval caused by the process.

No animals are ever harmed in the creation of this blog even though the Smumzie occasionally claims to have sacrificed small animals under the full moon.  If you haven’t smiled even once while reading this official disclaimer, I’m afraid there’s no point in hanging around any longer.   Those of you with an overwhelming fear of the unknown will be gratified to learn that there is no hidden message revealed by reading this disclaimer backwards, so just ignore that tingle in your naughty bits that usually warns you when something strange is about to happen.  If you have stumbled upon this blog in error, add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of butter, 2T cinnamon and place it in a warm oven for 15 minutes.  Best enjoyed with a cup of strong coffee and plenty of cream because – hey – thighs like this don’t just happen.

Everything’s Coming Up Twins!

Summers in Erie, PA meant long weekends on the boat.  Whether it was my father’s red and white stink boat (with motors) or the sail boat friends of ours had, we were on it.  While the parents readied the vessels for the journey, the kids had the run of the docks.  We’d join up with the other dock rats and run around looking for dead fish that had washed ashore and a good stick with which to poke its eyes. (We were curious and they were already dead, ok?  Don’t judge me!)

The docks themselves were rickety at best and required skilled balance and sure footing to cross them, especially in certain places.  The docks where we keep our boat today barely move, even when say 6 or 7 people traipse across them while carrying a cooler full of food and beverages for the day.

Ah, the memories I have of growing up around boats!  These days I’m picturing watching our kids run around the docks and climbing the mast.

Sara and her lovely family are visiting this weekend and I’m delighted to say that it has been fantastic to get to spend so much time with them.  Her beautiful little boy looks like the Gerber baby when he turns 3.  Her ethereal little girl dances about like a graceful little ballerina with the biggest brown eyes I’ve ever seen.   When we realized our freezer hadn’t been closing properly and that we were out of ice, Sara and I headed off in our little convertible to nab some more.  It was really fun zipping around town with her.  I only wish we lived closer to each other so we could spend more time together.  Now that all the big milestone ultrasounds are done, I’m afraid this is one of the last times I’ll see her.

We’ve planned a baby shower for late August or early September, depending on family travel schedules, and I’ll get to see her then (she’ll be around 28 weeks already by then! – so hard to believe how fast the time is passing).  And I’ll head to her place when she’s around 33 or 34 weeks and see if we can do one of those 3-D ultrasounds.  Otherwise, I think we’ll only see her at the delivery…

Now that all we’re reasonably assured that the babies are healthy, I am itching to go buy some baby things.  Until now, I haven’t wanted to jinx anything so all I’ve gotten so far are 2 bibs from our trip to Disney in April – from the Dr. Seuss collection – that say Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Seriously.  I don’t have a single other baby item in the house.

And I’m ready to shop.

But I need some advice.  What stroller is best for twins? After watching miserable parents of either twins or siblings trying to navigate double wide strollers through the crowds and aisles at Disney, I quickly decided I wanted a front to back with stadium seating stroller.  Then friends and family told me that either the Bob or McLaren joggers are the best.  A lady with newborn twins (as of June 1!) said friends told her with the front and back style stroller the front twin is always turning around to see the other one so they’re not the best choice.

I need advice on everything, ducks – from bouncy seats to onesies, cribs to those playpen, sleeper, changing area all in one things.  What are your favorites?

Back soon, Smumzie!

Is a Quickie really better than nothing at all?

Things I’ve learned since my last post:

1.  Starting a blog, enticing wonderful readers into your world, then abandoning them without so much as a word is just rude. And I’m truly sorry about it.

2.  We are having a boy and a girl.

3.  We hate all the names we’d previously chosen for the boy.

4.  Skiddle is lobbying hard for it to be “Sterling.”  Better Half says we might as well get him a stripper pole and some gold lame shorts right now.  I kind of like it, even if it does sound “snobbish” and “conceited.”  (words from friends – as if a baby could be conceited and show it by naming himself.  honestly).

5.  I’m nesting in a manner that causes BH to mutter repeatedly about how his wife apparently “caught the OCD.”

6.  That taking Skiddle to either Walmart or Target is dangerous.  She always wants to go buy baby things.  And I couldn’t be more thrilled about this development.

7.  My sister is much better with the internets than I’ve been led to believe.  She has come up with some astonishingly good choices for the nursery.

8.  That I am embarrassed to read some of my “stream of thought” entries on this blog.  Which has led me to the conclusion that if I cannot do something special here that I am truly proud of, I should perhaps re-think my priorities.  Therefore, I will be signing off until August, when all our travel for the year is done (save that one trip to Iceland if it happens, for Labor Day weekend).  And when I do return, I will trim down the bad posts and dedicate the time I need to make each post the work of art it should be.

Thanks to all who check in on me now and then and again -apologies for leaving you hanging.

Smumzie

Things Wrong Including Half of Glass

I’d like to say it’s a rare thing for the Smumzie to have to admit she’s wrong, but alas, it is not.  But this time I’m glad to say it – I was wrong.

Not only was my father not condescending when I told him about the news of the twins, he was actually a teensie bit excited.  He even called me later to say that my Papa was at home waiting for my call before he went out to supper.

My step-mother was not home at the time but I got a call the next day from her.  I was in a noisy place at the time and she has that throat virus that’s going around causing her voice to be very rough, but I think she was also supportive.   I would be lying if I said I wasn’t very much interested to hear what she had to say when she first heard the news though.  She’s a tough cookie.

My sister, I am delighted to say, did not get singsongy at all.  I suspect my nephew told her before I did despite being a million miles away and supposedly fighting a war.  He never could keep a secret.  But her reaction was such a non-reaction that I think she must have known.

On another front, I would also like to report that Skiddle’s mom seems to have caught the reasonable virus that’s going around because when Skiddle expressed an interest in attending the big first trimester scan this coming Monday, her mother agreed to allow us to take her even though it means she’ll miss a day of school.

Skiddle, for now, is claiming a very vague interest in the scan.  I’m not sure if she really is interested and doing the teenage Oh, this is so lame I can’t be bothered with it thing or she’s trying to protect herself.  She’s expressed a concern in the past that her relationship with these kids will be similar to mine with my half-sister and –brother. (I left home within 2 years of them being born and didn’t go back for 7 years.  I was there 1 day, had a huge blow out fight with my father and left again for 15 years.)  Either way Skiddle is happy to miss a day of school for it.

In the meantime I feel lighthearted and optimistic about things – and I’m not usually a “glass half-full” kinda chick.  I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

However, I think there comes a time when we all realize that being happy is not about getting what you want… it’s about being happy with what you have.

I’m not going to sit here and try to convince anyone that I’ve been a miserable little bee barely managing to buzz my corpulent body over to the next flower on delicate wings.  My life has been pretty amazing for the last 10 years.

I can’t deny that I had some challenges growing up and occasionally shadows from that past still rear their ugly heads and I end up in a shitstorm.  In fact, BH has a saying based on a Daily Show segment by Stephen Colbert after Hurricane Katrina hit where he ridicules some Christian fundie for saying that God hath wrought justice upon New Orleans because they were planning a Gay Pride parade down Bourbon Street.  In fact, the French Quarter didn’t flood, unlike the Ninth Ward, Saint Jefferson Parish and Saint Bernard Parish.  “If anything,” noted Colbert, “the lesson of Katrina is: God loves gays, but hates the gay-adjacent.”

Whenever I start winding myself up like a tornado forming over barren farmlands of the mid-west, things start to go wrong.   Electronic devices like cash registers, cell phones and hospital heart monitors either stop working or start behaving erratically. (I’m not even joking here – I was in the ICU step-down unit for 5 days last February and the alarms on all the heart monitors they hooked me up to literally went off every few minutes until the nurses finally shut them off completely.)

In fact, things can start to spiral so out of control that everyone around me seems to get caught up in the turmoil of stuff going haywire that BH started calling it being Smumzie-adjacent. How else could we possibly explain why it took 20 IVF cycles to finally get pregnant despite using 22 year old eggs, multiple surrogates and sperm that supposedly should be sold on the black market?

These days, however, things seem to be going my way suddenly.  I’m not sure if I should abandon my theory that lottery tickets are merely a tax on the mathematically challenged and buy a few or abandon all caution and call that Disney producer and ask him if he’s still interested in the screenplay for Jackie Smart despite the fact that I’ve never written a screenplay in my life.

In any case, I was wrong indeed and I couldn’t be happier about it.

As if I need another reason to love my Skiddle

We just returned from wine country and I have many fun things to discuss tomorrow but for now (!) I just had to tell everyone that, as … ‘meh’ as Skiddle has seemed to be since the announcement of the impending Twinvasion 2010, I think she’s going to be the best big sister ever when the time comes.

Soon after arriving home, BH sorted the mail and after a quick call from Skiddle, approached me with a sly grin and handed me an envelope.  The outside had my address printed formally on it, obviously done by a printer and Skiddle’s (mother’s) address as the return.  I opened it up to find a lavender card with a yellow plaid bib and the words For the Mommy-to-be on the front.

Inside she’d printed:

I know you have a lot of special qualities that will make you a wonderful mother…I know because they’re the same special qualities that make you such a wonderful step mother.

I love you so much Smumzie and I know for sure that you will make your children happy as a mother.  Thank you for always being there for me.  Love, Skiddle

I’m smiling through the tears and wish so much that I could just hug her right now and spend the rest of the night snuggled up downstairs watching movies and chitchatting about her life since I’ve been away.  I miss her.

And, though I’ve always known it, today I’m reminded of just how lucky I am to have her for my very own.

For Genie

My Papa (grandfather) is selling his home and moving into an apartment with some elderly assistance. In going through the house, my sister found an old suitcase with some of the things I’d left behind when I moved out.  When it arrived today, I had some fun looking through old class notebooks and high school yearbooks and checking to see if anyone I knew was on facebook these days.

Then I came across something else.

Buried within the items was an envelope.  I recognized the handwriting.  I’m not sure how it got into this group of things.  I’ve never seen it before.

To be opened after my death.

To my darling husband and daughters,

If you are reading this now, it is because I am already gone.  I wish to make the three of you realise how deep my love for all of you really is.  But, as they always say, “it is harder for the ones you leave behind.”

I am writing this now because I do not know when the end will come.  I will always love you and the girls and I pray that your recovery from pain will come swiftly.  (You know that pain was my only fear.) …

I can’t even begin to explain the emptiness I feel right now.  To have just written the post below about how much I wish my mother was here to share my joy of (finally) expecting the twins, then to find this letter buried within a box that I thought held only fun things….

My BH is away on a business trip this weekend.  Skiddle is with her mom.  It’s just me and the dogs for the next 2 days until I meet Sara at the clinic on Monday morning for the ultrasound.

This is going to be a hard weekend.

She was 36 when she died.  She was only 32 when they told her she had terminal cancer.  I can’t imagine sitting down at such a young age and writing a goodbye letter to your family because a group of doctors had just told you that no matter what you do, nothing, nothing can be done to save your life.

Her birthday is Sunday, May 2nd.  She would have turned 69 this year.  I would gladly give up everything I have today for one last chance to hold her and tell her how much I love her.

I miss her so much.

Sur-reality

I spoke with Sara yesterday about the upcoming scan on Monday.  We shared amazement over the movements of a 10 week old fetus in an ultrasound video on You Tube; we talked about maternity bras and future milestone appointment schedules, how she was feeling and just had a great chat in general.

“Only two more weeks to go before I can stop holding my breath,” I thought as I hung up the phone. “Then I can finally tell everyone what’s going on.”

I clicked away from the ultrasound video to watch one of a young couple conspiring to surprise the woman’s mother with the news that she was about to become a grandmother and I wondered, not for the first time, what it would have been like to have my mother around to share this  journey with.  Not having her to talk to when I miscarried repeatedly was bad, but not having her to share the excitement I’m finally allowed to have is worse.

As I mentally prepared my list of who I was going to tell and in what order, it occurred to me that it doesn’t really matter.  All the people in my life who have been close throughout our struggle already know.  Some because I just couldn’t keep my trap shut (my BFFL, B, who lives in FL now and came to Disney while we were down there) and some out of necessity.  My friend A is helping plan our friend, P’s 50th birthday bash in Iceland and when the RSVPs started rolling in, it became evident that people with children would not be able to attend on Labor Day because their kids’ school starts the day after we’d be returning home.  There was talk of moving it out to November and I had to beg off because our due date is 11/23 with the expectation that, since it’s twins it will likely happen a few weeks early.  It had gotten to the point where I finally had to fess up that we had something brewing and of course the questions then wouldn’t stop until I had told the whole story.

Additionally, while we were in FL, we told BH’s sister and her husband.  BH’s mother already knew because her birthday happened to be on the same day we got the third blood test back and while we were on the phone with her, she inquired about the status of our ongoing mission and BH just couldn’t help himself and told her.

My nephew had called me the last day we were in FL to tell me he landed safely in Basra and I couldn’t help myself again and I told him. I figured the odds of him spreading the news to anyone else was pretty slim.

The only people who don’t know about it by now are my sister and father.  And here’s where I faltered yesterday.  My thoughts took a turn that had me fighting off a depressing funk that I still haven’t shaken as of this morning.

My sister, of course, will be full of the congratulations that one would expect from your older sister but it will be during her delivery of the words that chunks of my breakfast burrito will begin creeping back up my esophagus like Jessica Biele ascending Mt. Kilimanjaro. Because my sister won’t just say, “I’m so happy that your dream is finally coming true.”  She’ll immediately fall into this sing-song voice she uses when she’s uncomfortable and start talking to me like I’m a five year old who just crossed the stage in a series of pirouette à la secondes for my first live performance.

“Ooooooh, baby girl,” she’ll coo, “you’re going to be a MA-ma.”  She’ll end with a ridiculous giggle that I believe she thinks is cute but honestly comes off as a bit creepy for a 50 year old who’s been drinking hard and smoking since she was a teenager.  She’ll play it off as if this is such a great thing (which it is for me) but I’ll know, and so will she, that ever since I’ve been trying to have a child, her advice to me has been:  Don’t do it.  They’re more trouble than they’re worth.  There’s really no upside – only a down side.

It’s obvious from the way she raised her own son that this is how she feels.  It’s one of the main reasons he asked to come live with me.   And then my sister will ask if I told my father yet.  And the answer will be no.  Because, really, what’s the point?  The last time we spoke about this, he had driven my Papa up for a visit over the summer.  I had made plans to babysit my God-daughter one day and, because it was a good chance to show them the apartment buildings we’ve bought over the past 3 years since we started the business, I took my father and Papa with me to pick her up.  Once we were back home, my Papa, in true grandfather form, held the baby, fed her, played with her and talked to her, all the while grinning from ear to ear.  In short, he acted exactly like the grandfather I’ve come to know and love all my life.

My father on the other hand stood or sat off to one side and refused to even acknowledge her.  I walked by carrying her at one point and when the phone rang, I tried to hand her to him so I could find the ever-elusive (at least in my house it is) handset.  He stepped back with his hands in his pockets and shook his head, no.

When I finished my phone call and asked him about it he said, “I don’t want nothing to do with it. [Side note: this ‘hick’ speech pattern is new for him. My mother was an English teacher and I don’t recall him ever speaking in such a grammatically incorrect manner. I’m not sure where he’s getting it from because his present wife sure as hell doesn’t speak that way. It’s a bit baffling.]  And he continued, “I don’t know why you’re so keen on having kids.  They just fuck up your life.”

Gee, thanks Dad.

As I sat yesterday contemplating how I would tell my sister and father the news about the most important thing that is happening in my life, I realized that it didn’t really matter when or how I told them.  I’m making a prediction here that my father will say, probably verbatim, “I see.  Congratulations.  Kiss your ass goodbye for the next 20 years because your life is over.”

And my sister will coo and gush and will rush off to be the town crier, telling everyone in the family about my good news but after the immediate surprise wears off, I’ll bet there will be a lot of long conversations about how I’m wrecking my life….how I’m too old for this …etc from most of the family.

The anticipation and excitement I always imagined I would feel upon finally being able to share my good news is tarnished by the reality of the situation and the fact that no one in my own family will really see this as a good thing.  Having kids is something that they all did because it was “the next step” in their lives.  In Erie, Pa, that’s what you do.  You graduate from high school (if you care to), get married before you’re 20, have a few kids and you’re divorced by the time you’re 30.  If not divorced, you’re already cheating on your spouse and you justify it by saying, “She never lost the baby weight,” or “He’s a mean drunk.”  Having kids isn’t ever a “thing” because it just happens, sometimes even when you don’t want it to.

My step-mother will be courteous and cordial about it but any illusion I may have had about my kids having a relationship with her as “grandmother” are gone.  Since I loaned her and my father about $30k to save their house and stop them from having to declare bankruptcy (after receiving a panicked phone call 2 days before my father had a quintuple bypass and was convinced he wasn’t going to make it), she’s barely said 2 words to me.

In the end, I’m sad about it all.  My grandmother and Papa were a huge influence in my life. I always pictured my kids hanging out with their grandparents and having fond memories, like I do, of fishing with Papa or falling asleep in the back seat of their car at the drive-in movie or taking the five dollars I’ve scrimped and saved to the toy store with Nana and buying that Barbie Doll I’d been begging for since the year before.

BH’s mom is a fantastic person and a wonderful grandmother to our nephew.  But she barely knows Skiddle.  They see each other every other year when we get Skiddle for Christmas and some years in July when we celebrate all the birthdays at once.  Otherwise, they don’t really get to spend any time together.

So while today I’m still celebrating my little miracle, I’m feeling a bit alone.  Besides BH and Sara, I have no one to talk to about the most important thing that’s happening in my life.   I don’t want to inundate Sara with phone calls – she has 2 kids, a husband and works 2 jobs in addition to carrying my little Sparks (as BH now calls them).  And she’s 20 years younger than I am and lives 2 states away.  We don’t have that much in common to talk about except this and I feel as though calling her to discuss it any more than I do might be an intrusion.  (She has never made me feel this way- it’s just what I think when I stop myself from calling her every day.)

If I were actually pregnant, I imagine BH and I would lie together at night, reading or watching tv, maybe with his hand resting on my growing tummy while we talk about the changes to my body, our babies, our lives.  Without that, we’re reduced to discussing tasks.  Names? check.  Milestone appointment schedule? check.  Smumzie obsessing over ultrasounds in books and on google? CHECKCHECKFORTHELUVOFCHEESECHECK!

And that’s the extent of it.   Look, it’s no secret that I am ecstatic about this.  It’s just that my whole life when I pictured having kids, I had that dreamy image of sharing the news with everyone, playing silly games at the baby shower, talking about it all with friends and family and now…I feel so far removed from it all that it just doesn’t seem real.

When will it start to feel real?