March 31, 2015

The Unlikely Mom of FIVE

March 31, 2015
There are two bonafide ways to fry your brain cells.
1. Smoke a lot of pot in high school
2. Become a mother

I became a mother.  I have very few precious, struggling brain cells hanging by a thread.  I endure the classic routine of walking in a room with full intentions in my steps only to question why I came in that particular room.  I get Mondays mixed up with Fridays.  I show up at the pediatrician's office with the wrong kid on the wrong day.  I don't know my name or age when asked. I go to the grocery store with a well thought out list and leave with everything but what was on it.  I come home after an hour of school pick up lines only to frantically realize I'm missing a kid.  I will look for my phone and sunglasses only to hear my daughter say (insert eye roll), "Duh mom.  Your sunglasses are on your head and your phone is in your hand".  I pour orange juice in my coffee, buy sour cream instead of whipped cream, and wear my panties inside out.  I do all of these things and more. 

If you know me you know my story.  Or maybe you don't.  And if you don't know me then I hope you can find some enlightenment, some, "it's okay to feel that way", some, "you are not alone, we all do it", and a little bit of laughter in how I became The Unlikely Mom of FIVE.  

I want to preface this post by saying with my whole beating heart that I wouldn't change a darn thing.  That said, I do question.  I'm human.  And don't judge, because you are human too.  Unless a monkey or some other intelligent animal is reading this, we are all human and we all have emotions (I know, animals have emotions too).  Some raw and "dirty laundry" emotions.  We are all in it, the laundry and dishes thick of it, the cranky trenches of it.  It?  MOTHERHOOD!

I rip my hair out daily. Yeah, I know.  I gotta get my gray roots done.  
My mom once said, "you prayed for this so you can't complain about it".  Being my mom, she is right.  Always right.  I did pray for a family.  I prayed hard.  And long story short, God answered.  The clouds parted and five children plopped down from heaven.  Well, sort of.  Kind of.  It's complicated.  But that is how it felt.  My mom also said, "Better watch what you pray for".  Right again.  How does she do that?  

Big Dog and I went from just us to two kids faster than you can super-size a McDonald's meal.  Have you ever had a freezing cold bucket of water dumped on your head?  That's about what it was like.  That's actually what every morning is like.  We were young and naive and two little boys looked to us for unconditional love and care.  One of them needed a life saving transplant.   The other needed undivided attention and bonding.  It was HARD.  It was an emotional roller coaster with every up and down, turn, and jolt at fear reaching speeds with exhilarating twists.  I was scared and exhuasted.  I'm still exhausted. 

On a perfect day, outside of the hospital is one my most treasured memories.  Photo Credit: Shannon Ho Photography
Our "normal".  The beginning of an 18 month battle in the hospital.
Big Dog is scared as you know what and I'm a deer in headlights.

We were in isolation so these two brothers had to interact through a window while in  transplant.
Mason was doing well enough for up close and personal play with Parker.
You know those moms at the mall with their stellar strollers, perfect looking children and fresh, just out of the shower and hair and make-up appearance sitting ever so calm and casual at the play area?  Yeah, I wasn't one of them.  Not once.  Not ever.  I had dreams of play dates and outings at the park.  But with one in the hospital fighting for his fragile life, my reality was anything but.  It wasn't what I dreamt of.  It wasn't what I pictured happening as I opened gifts at my baby shower and obsessively decorated their wanna-be Pottery Barn nursery.  It wasn't what my friends and I had talked about.  And even though it wasn't anything what I thought or hoped it would be like, it was my reality with my new and long awaited for family. It's the reality that now, out of no where, creeps up in memories, and a huge lump in my throat nearly takes my breath away.  It's the reality that I find myself asking God, "Why didn't you give me a 'normal' family"?  I know, what is "normal" anyway?  I hear you.  Stay with me.  Stop judging.  I am eternally thankful.  I am just human with human emotions and I know you are, too.

So, here we go.  Let's continue on my path of The Unlikely.  To get three biolgical siblings through international adoption is highly unlikely.  But my baby boys had a sister, and she was up for adoption.  So, naturally, if she was their sister, she was to be my daughter.  Nothing had made more sense to me than the time I realized drinking water quenches thirst.  Once my youngest (at the time) was healthy and promised to survive, we pursued her adoption.  The process was nothing short of a mess of red tape at the mercy of a corrupt government.  Just weeks before adoption closed in Guatemala, we were able to bring home their sister, our daughter.  It was yet another answered prayer endorsed by God.  At this point, we had three children in under two years!  I was still trying to keep my head above water and master the trade of motherhood which I felt I was doing a spectacular job of failing at.  I would bury my head in my pillow and cry out, "God, what are you up to?  Yeah, yeah, I wanted kids but this is hard.  This is exhausting and emotional on a level I have never known.  Help a sister out!  These children are hurt, scared, traumatized and need things the human heart and soul can't provide".  I was overwhelmed with worry, fear, and discontent.  What happened to the fairy tale story of adopting a child and being a happy, magical, on the cover of Parenting Magazine kind of family at the mall in the play area? 

With Mason back at Camp Grandma, here we are on our trip to bring Lauren home.  
I know, right?  Deliciously cute!  I was going to get the coordinating Christmas PJ's picture if it killed me.
And then I got pregnant.  Finally!  Oh yeah, getting pregnant was another dream and fervent prayer request.  But no, no, I didn't just get pregnant.  No, it's not like those stories you hear of "well they couldn't have children so they adopted and poof, just like that, they were pregnant".  No.  After a long and painful road of being told it was unlikely I'd ever ever physically birth a child, God answered my prayer.  I was pregnant. Heck yeah. With twins.  TWINS.  Baby A and Baby B.  The announcement of this nearly made Big Dog faint.  That was the first and last time I saw him almost faint.  Well, except for the times he changed chemo baby diapers (those, my friends, are some horrific smelling diapers).  But he actually more like choked to death than fainted.  I digress.  So twins.  Yep.  A boy and a girl.  We were now a family of SEVEN! We were comin' in hot to the block with our growing family. 

Consider yourself lucky to see me in my gigantic-prego state.  I became much, much larger.
 "Scary large" as Big Dog says.
When I was a little girl I never thought I'd be a mom of five.  I never thought me and my knight in shining armor would have FIVE kids in THREE years.  I never thought God would go above and beyond in answering my prayers.  And as I type this, I smile.  I smile because I can hear God whisper, with a chuckle, "Never say never.  For I Am God".  

I think Mason's expression says it all.  "Oh dear!  What has mom done now? Now there's more of us".
  A family that squeezes together stays together.  We have since upgraded to a larger couch.  We are still together.
I can hardly make it through a day without sobbing and snotting all over the place.  I don't have an identity.  Well, actually I do.  I'm known as, "that lady with five kids" as if I have an ugly growth on my forehead. More often than not, I find myself tilting my head towards the sky asking the man upstairs, "Why?  Why me?".  I plead with Him that I am not cut out for this.  I wasn't meant to be a mom of five.  I'm worn slick.  My body hurts.  My hair smells.  My bladder is fatigued from never being able to pee when I want and need to.  I don't remember the last time I didn't dream about sleep.  I don't know how to heal kids from hard places despite the stacks of books, blogs, conferences, social workers and multitude of therapies I've put us all through.  I'm asked all the time, "how do you do it?".  I don't know.  I don't have a perfectly scripted and enlightening answer.  I truly don't know.  I do know, that by the grace of God, I am a mom.  A mom of FIVE, thank you very much.  I fail and I make mistakes  ALL THE TIME.  You moms are not alone.  There is help.  There is prozac (I'm sorry for all the things I said before I was on prozac) and vodka and prayer and other reality mom posts on The Huffington Post.  We can do this!  So Keep Calm and Mom On, with what brain cells you have left. 

"I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey - but I have Jesus"
{Kara Tippetts}



  1. Carol, your honestly is one of my favorite things about you...right after how much I love your sweet heart! I'm so happy for your friendship and that we have each other for our "serious shit" and insanely hard barre classes! Love you, sister! ~ Kris

  2. Carol, your honestly is one of my favorite things about you...right after your sweet heart! I love seeing all these pictures too. I'm so thankful for your friendship and that we have each other for the "serious shit" and insanely hard barre classes! Love you, sister!

  3. Sherry Lacourse (kennysmom)March 31, 2015 at 8:39 AM

    I don't believe there is another woman on the planet that is as capable of being a mother as you are. I remember those hard days when Mason was in the hospital and how in awe I was of this cute young couple that saved two little boys. Then I learned that you saved their sister. When I saw that you were going to have twins, I actually cried with happiness for you. Of course being a mother isn't easy...I don't remember anyone ever telling me that it would be. You make me laugh with your honesty at times. You are a those beautiful children (all five of them) and to everyone that has ever met you. Thank you.

    1. Sherry, it is so good to hear from you and your heart. You have always had a very special place in our hearts. Thank you for being touch. I hope all is well!