*** Warning *** This post may be a little too parenting (and biologically parenting) focused for those of you dealing with infertility. If your heart is sensitive right now, I'd skip this post and come back tomorrow!
Last night we had a (sort of) last minute birthday party for Abigail. With moving and not having our stuff yet, I really wasn't sure we had it in us to have a formal party, but a few days ago, JB and I decided to go for it. We invited the three families we've been having swimming lessons with (Nick & Kristy and their kids Noah and Jonah; Mike and Carla and their boys Jackson and Max; Jacob and Jenn and their daughter Rowyn. We also invited one of our Portuguese neighbors, Louis and Tania and their two boys.)
It's hard to believe that it was in May of 2009 that we celebrated biggest brother Isaac's first birthday at McDonalds. And here was Elijah's at Chik-Fil-A.
There are no fast food restaurants in the Azores. Not a McDonalds and definitely not a Chik-Fil-A. So at our house it was. We got los of great pictures and you can see all of them if you click here and visit my Facebook album. You can also watch a video of Abigail eating her birthday cake by clicking here.
This post will only share my four favorite photos of the evening.
As JB and I looked at the photos after the kiddos were in bed and we talked about the beautiful day and the party, I found myself tearing up. I'm not a big cry-baby, and I don't consider myself a hugely sentimental person. I'm not very goo-goo with my kids.I am not into fru-fru stuff. I consider myself pretty laid back and pretty "whatever" about most things.
And yet, here I was was crying. I realized at that moment as JB and I stood in the hallways outside our kids' rooms that I had been moved by the evening. As I reflected, I realized that I could summarize why I was crying with four pictures.
The first is a picture of me and Abigail right before we started singing to her.
Looking at that picture, I realized that she and I are friends. Earlier that day, I had been putting on my make-up in the bathroom and she climbed up onto a stool next to me. She just stood there, watching me, and I realized that soon she'd be doing the same thing. I'd teach her. We'll get ready together.
In other words I was struck by the fact that I have a daughter.
Infertility changes you. It damages you. It improves you. It effects you in so many ways. When we started dealing with infertility, I gave up, quickly, any thoughts I had about number and sex of children. It was quickly overcome with a desire to just be a mom.
When we had Isaac we were so thrilled to be parents. When we had Sidge, we were so thrilled to be parents of two little boys who would get to grow up together. We also cherished the fact that we would in fact get to have a biological child.
To me, Abigail was a different being entirely. She was something I did NOT even think about. I truly believed that after Sidge, we'd never get pregnant again. That was a one-time-thing for sure. To have a girl?
And a little girl that looked like me?
Up until the last month, I never saw myself in either of my biologic children. In fact, I still don't see myself in Sidge at all -- although now and then I see my brother in him. (Strange!) But Abigail, recently, reminds me of me. And that is so weird. I have been a parent for four and a half years, and just now, just recently, I see a child of mine who resembles me. And that is really just something.
The second picture that got to me is this one below:
Both of my boys sort of had fun with their birthday cakes at their first birthday. Isaac not-so-much as he was under-the-weather, and Sidge a little bit. But Abigail dug in.
So why did that move me?
It moved me because she is such a different person than the boys are. She tries to dress herself. She laughs like a girl. She is a tomboy. She is incredibly strong-willed and stubborn. Anyone who thinks boys and girls should be raised the same because they are all just babies, must not be around babies of different sexes much. They are just ... different. So ... different. She's a girl. They are boys. And that is different in so many ways.
And I can't believe that I have the opportunity to see that for myself.
The third picture was Abigail walking. Love this photo of her below. You can see her determination, her learning, her growing up ... so much in one shot:
The last picture was one of JB and Abigail:
He and I both went to the BX before her party, trying to find a little something we could wrap up for her. I took the boys with me. There was nothing at the BX for a little girl. There was only one row of toys for both sexes and all age groups, and not one single thing that was right for a baby girl. The boys tried to talk me into getting her a monster truck or a dump truck or somethiing else that they would like. But I opted to buy her a few outfits off the sale rack.
JB struck out equally well. But when he came home, he had also picked an outfit out for his daughter. It wasn't on nearly as good of a sale as his cheap Dutch wife would have liked, but he picked it out himself. We never buy clothes for our kids that aren't on the 75% off rack at the BX or from the Thrift Store. We just don't see the point. But this was an exception. It was too big, but it said Very Sweet. The fact that JB bought her an outfit and this picture of the two of them, also got me. JB has a daughter. We have a daughter. I can see how different he is with her. He is different dadding a girl than he is dadding boys.
And I love it.
I love her. I love all my children so uniquely and different. And I am so blessed to have the opportunity to have those children.
And all of that combined, left me teary.