Allow me to generalize as I say that any parent of more than one kid sometimes has to choose between her kids. Any good parent will likely tell you it sucks. It is a constant internal struggle when there is only one of you and two (or more) of them and they all need your attention at the same time. Which kid gets the most attention? Who's needs are greatest? Are you choosing the needs of one kid more often than the other?
Over the past 3 years of being a mom of two, I feel that I have gotten pretty good at juggling the needs of my two kids. It has definitely helped that my kids have matured and learned that sometimes they just have to wait a minute. It also helps that they are now able to do more for themselves.
When we made the decision to add more kids to our family, we knew that there would be the return of the battle to decide which kid's needs were greatest at any given time. What we weren't expecting was that having to decide between Will and Marcus and these babies in my belly would begin before these babies were born.
This pregnancy has been rough on me. In addition to the normal slowing down of pretty much any pregnant, I'm facing a high risk pregnancy that comes with extra doctor appointments, extra precautions, and - as evidenced by a little situation last week - extra visits to the hospital. The list of restrictions on what I physically can and cannot do is increasing rapidly. I'm a prime candidate for going into preterm labor. It is highly likely that these babies will be born early and have to spend some time in the NICU up in Pittsburgh. I'm not on bedrest yet, but I keep hearing that bedrest is probably in my future. Depending on how things progress, bedrest could mean laying in my bed all day long or having to head off to a hospital bed in Pittsburgh. (All these reasons are just some of the reasons I haven't really been spending too much time writing on my blog about this pregnancy. It would all just be a bunch of posts about how worried I am and all kinds of contradicting information I get from my doctors.)
And so I find myself having to choose. Do I play with Marcus and Will, respond to all their needs, run them back and forth to preschool, and be the super mom that I always
am (yeah, that was sarcasm)? Or do I kick my feet up, cash in on people's offers to help, spend as much time as I can handle laying down, and miss out on doing a lot of fun things with Marcus and Will so I can keep cooking these babies for as long as possible?
Which kids do I choose? I constantly have to remind myself which of these kids' needs are greatest. Although I know that it is in the best interest of everyone in this family that I take it easy and pass off some of the fun things I usually do with my kids to whoever is available to help, it sure is hard to hear my kids laughing or know they are outside running and playing while I am laying in my bed watching movies. I've never been good at sitting still and not participating. The more I put my feet up today, hopefully the less time I will have to spend restricted to my bed, or worse yet, completely out of the house away from Marcus and Will and restricted to a hospital bed. The longer these babies stay in my belly, the bigger and stronger they can grow. It will mean less time in the NICU, less time running back and forth from home to the NICU to visit them, and less fragile babies to bring home when they are ready. The more I choose the babies over Marcus and Will now, the less I will have to make that decision in the future.
It makes me sad. I do what I can do. There is a lot more cuddling on the couch these days. We read a lot. Turns out that driving cars all over me while I am hanging out with my feet up is a lot of fun. We have a lot more talks and play a lot more word games and sing a lot more songs. It is not all bad. We also take a lot less trips to the park. I can no longer remember the last time I pushed my kid on a swing. No more short hikes. No more bike rides on the Montour Trail. No fall camping trips or enjoying yard work together or games of hide-and-seek. It has even resulted in very few pictures being taken and adventures enjoyed that I could blog about. It makes me sad too because I know that when these babies do arrive, there will be a whole second chapter of the babies' needs often outweighing the needs of Marcus and Will.
I carry this extra guilt as well as an adoptive parent. Most parents, I am sure, decide to bring a child into their family with intentions of giving them the best love possible. This is certainly true for me but there is a subtle difference with adopted children. Marcus and Will weren't always my children. Even though I have never met their birthfamilies, that doesn't stop me from feeling I have an obligation to do right by Marcus and Will's first families. Each time I have to choose these babies over my first two babies, I feel like I am ripping off not only Marcus and Will, but also the hopes and dreams of their first families who entrusted me to be their mother.
In my heart I still know making this hard choice between all four of my boys now is going to be best choice for everyone in the long run. It still sucks.