About Beginning from the Start

This blog began when my partner and I decided to start adding the requisite 2.5 kids to our lives. Three years later, we’re now the parents of a very active toddler and (maybe) considering adding another kid to the mix. Read on for adventures in TTC, pregnancy, toddlers, queer parenting and more.

Three.

When I was pregnant with Bingo, our donor retired.  At 24, he was done donating.  At 31, with no actual, out of the uterus babies on which to base our decision, Sea and I were left trying to decide how many babies we might want and how many vials of the now limited edition sperm it might take to conceive those potential babies.

I don’t remember the exact math that landed us there, but somehow we ended up with four vials of Lefty’s sperm in 2013.  They sat chilling at Clinic 3 until the beginning of 2016 when, after my period began on January 1st, one of those vials was used to conceive Powerball.

The incredible luck of conceiving Powerball on the first try meant that we had three vials left. In the hospital room, minutes after Powerball was born, I declared that we were done with two. Over time, Sea became more resolutely “two and through”.  I felt some feelings as we left babyhood behind, but also knew that I was at capacity: physically, financially, mentally, emotionally.  We were done. But were we done-done?  Done enough to part with those three vials of frozen-in-time ejaculate?

We hung on to them.

In 2018, my relationship with Sea was struggling in a big way. After a conversation where we seriously discussed the possibility of separating, we decided to try couple’s counselling.  “How will we pay for it?” Sea asked.  Without thinking about it, without hesitating, I replied: “We’ll sell the sperm.”

Sea agreed, and we posted to our Facebook group of donor sibling families offering up the sperm. Though nobody replied right away, a few weeks later a new member joined the group and asked if we still had vials to sell.

We did.

After about a million phone calls and e-mails to two fertility clinics, an in-person visit to Clinic 3, and more paperwork than I would have to fill out to transfer a house, a kidney, or an actual baby, one of those vials of sperm was packed up into liquid nitrogen and sent off into the world.  Though I know a little bit about what happened with it, the story of that vial is no longer mine.

Then there were two.

It seemed that nobody wanted those remaining two vials, which could have meant that they ended up flushed.  But a funny thing had happened in the process of selling the sperm: Sea had become less certain that we were done-done.  And when she wavered, I wavered. What if, one of us said, we used those vials?  IUIs, nothing fancy, just a fun game of fertility Russian Roulette.

Our relationship was still struggling.  We were still at capacity, in every way.  It was, in many ways, a terrible idea.  But we also knew that we would never look at a kid that this gamble might conceive with regret.  So, at the beginning of March, a year to the day after the injury that ended my dad’s life, we went back to Clinic 3 for an IUI.

I found out that I was pregnant on the day of the Spring Equinox. It felt meant to be.  But just because something feels a particular way, doesn’t mean it is.  And sometimes dates are just dates.  A second beta revealed that the pregnancy wouldn’t last, and a few days later I began to bleed.

Then there was one.

Our first response was to say that we had tried, that it hadn’t worked, and that we would move on with the two kids that we had.  But as I bled, I turned to Sea and said, “What if we used the last vial?”

The answer to that “what if” is currently rolling around in my uterus: I’m 20 weeks pregnant, with the third baby that I’ve been sure, at many times, we wouldn’t have.

I’m sorry for not sharing the story of those 20 weeks with you here, where I once counted every ultrasound.  The pregnancy has been my rockiest: including loss and risk, as well as the embodied knowledge that loss can happen, that my others just didn’t have. It has felt dangerous to name, even to the people closest to me.  It has also included moments of joy, plenty of humour at the hands of a new fertility doctor who managed to be unintentionally offensive at every turn, and growing excitement that maybe, just maybe, this story could end with three.

Five.

Last weekend, ten five year olds tumbled into my house for a rainbow-unicorn-shooting-star party. There was dancing, laughter, a tear or two, and- of course- cake.  Bingo leaned over and blew out five candles in a single breath.  And just like that, the kid who made me a parent turned five.

I didn’t write about four at all, because the sum total of a one year old and a four year old was twenty-four hours of exhaustion per day.  I’m sorry now that I didn’t because, when I read back about three, there is such a huge leap between then and now, here and there, that I don’t know what I can write that will traverse that distance.

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93 Junes.

My father was 93 when he died on May 31st this year.

He would have turned 94 at the end of July, though the exact date was a matter of some debate in his family.  When you live almost 94 years, some of the details get a little bit murky.  He lived through, and fought in, a world war.  He lived through the death of both of his parents and the deaths of his three brothers.  He lived through nine decades.  He lived through 94 renditions of every month, except June.

It’s that June that I keep coming back to, like a riddle with no answer or a sentence with no end.  Continue reading

You two.

It’s been another year, okay more than a year, since my last post.  If you’re doing the math, you’ll know that means Bingo is now almostfive (the official age she gives anybody who asks) and Powerball is two.

As a second child, Powerball often gets overshadowed.  His introductions to the various vices of childhood (television, refined sugar, communicable disease) come earlier, his milestones don’t always get written down, and instead of dictating our schedules he usually gets pulled along to the places that we’re going anyway.

He is also so loved.  And despite the fact that I’m busy, tired, and didn’t remember the password for this blog, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate all that Powerball is at two.  (I’d write it in his baby book, but he doesn’t have one.) Continue reading

Little one.

It’s been a year, almost, since I posted.  Which means that Powerball is somehow, suddenly, one.

It feels as if the actual year has disappeared as quickly as the space between blog posts.  As if there was only a breath between delivering him into the world and celebrating his first birthday.  The cognitive dissonance was real as I stood in the park, watching him try cake for the first time while balloons waved cheerfully in the background.  It was clearly a party, a party for my one year old, but how?

I worry that he’s done most of his growing while my back was turned—while I made breakfasts, rushed Bingo off to school (!), went to work, negotiated bedtimes, and tried to pick the most chokeable toys off the floor. As the second child, he’s lucky if he has even half of the amount of attention that Bingo did three years earlier.  But as exhausting as these days with two small, opinionated people are, I don’t want to lose them to the chaos of daily life.  I want to capture the sweetness of this moment, the amazingness of Powerball, the wonder of watching him grow.

Powerball at one:

Powerball is on the move.  He graduated from rolling everywhere to crawling at ten months, and can now cross a room to reach the most dangerous thing in about three seconds flat.  He can stand unassisted (one of his favourite tricks) and walks along furniture or holding onto a push toy.  He hasn’t tried hands-free walking yet, but it’s only a step away.

Powerball can talk.  He carries on full conversations of “la la la”, “ba ba ba”, and “da da da”, though he frustratingly and- I’m sure- intentionally held out on “ma ma ma” for as long as possible.  Clearly annoyed that we weren’t responding appropriately, he started adding in actual words at just over 10 months old.  His words include: up, hi, bye, all done, this, that, and (now, finally) mama.

High pitched shrieking is a language unto itself, and my sweet, gentle baby has quickly mastered the art of the temper tantrum.  This may be a second child survival strategy.

Powerball is half Bingo’s size, but can already hold his own in a fight.  As he grows, he’s becoming more and more the little sibling—he and Bingo fight over the real estate over my lap, favourite toys, and the overwhelming desire to have whatever the other kid has.  There are also many moments of sweetness and adoring stares in both directions.  Seeing them together makes me glad, a hundred times over, that we decided to have a second kid.

Our attempts at baby sign were lackluster at best, and he’s only really picked up signs for “all done”, “more”, and “food”.  He has, however, turned pointing into an entire language, patiently instructing his large servers (parents and babysitter, mainly) about what he would like placed where by pointing in rapid succession.

Mostly what he wants is food, in his mouth.  He was tiny for the first six months of his life, consistently in the third percentile for weight.  Every time I left the house with him, people would comment on his size and ask if he was a preemie.  This changed the second that we introduced solid food.  He’s now—dare I say it—chubby.  He’ll eat anything: fruit, vegetables, spicy food, random things he finds on the floor.  The one exception to this is sweet potato, which he considers an insult to the good name of food.

As well as food, his baby joys include opening and closing drawers, putting things into other things, making noise, being sung to, being held, reading books, pretending things are hats, playing peek-a-boo, Bingo’s toys, and dangerous wonders like my keys.  Honestly, he likes most things.  His nickname is “sweetness”, for a reason.

His baby sorrows include diaper changes (which involve significant acrobatics on both our parts), being separated from me, sleeping, having things taken from his possession, and- very specifically- his right sock.

There have been joys and sorrows for me too, in this year of parenting Powerball.  It’s been a hectic and exhausting year.  I’ve been frustrated, emotional, and overwhelmed.  I frequently feel like I don’t have enough time, enough energy, or enough hands.  But more than that, so much more than that, it’s been a year of joy, wonder, and gratitude. I am so happy to get to parent Powerball, to see him grow and change- to have our family grow and change with him.  He is the perfect addition to our family and, even in the chaos, I am glad every day that he is here.

I’m excited about what comes next.  I want him to take his first steps, say more things, and become more and more Bingo’s peer.  But I also want to pause this moment.  To take a moment to hold my baby while he’s still a baby, and appreciate exactly who he is right now: my little one.

  

Three.

(This post is two months late, but still.)

Three is here.  Between negotiating desserts, losing tickle fights, comforting middle of the night woes, supervising playground adventures, worrying over preschool transitions, bemoaning potty training, making up stories, giving hugs, wiping sticky fingers, quelling tantrums, and dispensing band aids, I somehow didn’t see three coming– but here it is.

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