Our Happily Ever After

April 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Same Sex Parent, Trey Darnell

By-Trey Darnell

gay marriage movement

The equality movement is chugging along like a freight train with the lights on and the horn blaring. Living in the south, we are well aware that our home state is resisting change and pushing back with anti-gay legislation. After becoming a brand new family of three, waiting for marriage equality in Tennessee had become less desirable and frustrating. I have always joked about shotgun weddings, but I believe there is some subconscious thought process after a child is on the way that made us both start to plan the “official” happily ever after.

A date was set while both Matthew and I were on paternity leave. The three of us would travel to Washington, DC for the time needed to apply for a marriage license, the three-day wait period and the actual ceremony.  We carefully debated the idea of inviting our parents, but after the adoption process that was still ongoing, our new little family will be the only ones participating in a very private ceremony.  I am sure there are many of you that can relate with me on this, the adoption process is very open and public.  You are constantly networking in an effort to reach potential expecting mothers who are considering adoption for their unborn child.  Our previous 14 months had been a frenzy of emotions and exhaustion and this was our chance to share a special moment without the worry of planning, catering, hotels and everyone commuting seven hours to the nation’s capital.

Our marriage trip was spectacular. The decision to have a private ceremony as a family was the perfect way to celebrate and enter into this life long commitment. Words cannot describe this beautiful day that will forever be imprinted in my mind. The weather was phenomenal. Harper looked beautiful in her white dress. Yes, someone had to be in a white dress. Instead of a wedding cake, we celebrated with a street vendor hot dog. Our wedding was one of a kind!

Our Mini Wedding Album

Matt and Trey's Wedding

Matt and Trey’s Wedding officiated by Ellen Schwab

Matt, Harper and Ellen Schwab

Matt, Harper and Ellen Schwab

Harper in her white dress

Harper in her white dress

Our Wedding Cake

Our Wedding Cake

There are several things that I learned on our journey to marriage and parenthood.  The majority of people support equality.  A large majority!  We were very concerned with possible reactions that we might receive when applying for a marriage license.  Everyone was spectacular and Harper stole the show.  Living in Tennessee, we have been beyond surprised by the outpouring of support and encouragement from our community.  This experience was very moving for both of us and we are optimistic about full equality, even in the south, as days pass by.

People consider our relationship as newlyweds and think it is a fairly new commitment.  We have now been married for almost six months, and our lives technically are no different from before.  Matthew and I would have married years ago if it were not for discriminatory laws in Tennessee.  It seems like we hear the word commitment a lot.  “Marriage is a huge commitment” and “We are excited for your commitment.”  The truth is, our commitment started six years ago.  March 11, 2008 we made our commitment to each other.  The major difference is the lack of commitment many states have towards their citizens and recognizing their commitment to marriage equality.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and you can see our first family photo on our website.

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Now Pre-Boarding: Traveling with Small Children

April 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Same Sex Parent, Travel, Trey Darnell

By Trey Darnell

 

Trey from Matt and Trey Adopt working his first flight as a Captain in 2008.

Trey from Matt and Trey Adopt working his first flight as a Captain in 2008.

Air travel is stressful, emotional, and exhausting -and that’s just when traveling alone.  Add a child, diaper bag, stroller, car seat, and blanky and you begin to question humanity, Dora the Explorer, and why you ever left the house.  We are on our journey to grow our family through adoption, so the answer is no, I do not have real parental experience with what I am about to write, but I have seen it countless times as a commercial airline pilot.  Like George Washington, I will not tell a lie.  I giggle, laugh, and sometimes shake my head in disbelief watching the massive amount of child-related stuff moving down an airplane aisle and through the airport.

Traveling through many airports during a week, I think I have seen it all and very little of it makes sense.  Airports are no longer the enjoyable environments of the 1970s and 1980s.  They now resemble overcrowded ant colonies.  Don’t forget that obnoxiously loud siren on the oversized golf carts and people movers. Stressed, tired, and uncomfortable describes most passengers.  Frankly, there are too many people and not enough space in the airport itself, let alone on an airplane.  Add a couple Finding Nemo roller bags being tugged upside down and you have hassle for the parents rather than short-lived enjoyment for the children.  Most of the time you see the parent carrying the child and the Nemo roller bag while trying to pull their own carry-on bag and attempt this fast-walk-occasional-jog to make their connection.  Exhausting!

Stress brought on by traveling with children is manageable…with planning and preparation.  Customers will often know the departure date, location, as well as destination and length of stay before shopping for airfare.  Most Americans are looking to book the cheapest flight possible.  From my experience, this is not the greatest way to book air travel, especially when traveling with a child. Cheaper fares usually have less desirable options like longer ground time, smaller planes, and multiple connections.

Airlines will create a flight schedule to allow customers the least amount of connections with the shortest amount of ground time.  Customers searching for travel reservations can look at the total time spent from the departure point until arriving at the destination.  This includes time spent waiting for a connection.  This flight might only be a couple of dollars more than that extremely low airfare that has two connections with a 3-hour layover in each city.  When traveling with children, you should always choose the shortest amount of time from departure to destination.  This is worth $10-$25 more per ticket.  Most of the time it is only a few dollars.

Matt and Trey Adopt

Cheapest isn’t always best.

Example – This is a search for one-way air travel on Delta Airlines for June 1, 2013 from New York City to Dallas-Fort Worth.  Less than two months until departure isn’t the ideal time for price shopping.

The first flight option departs New York’s LaGuardia at 8:10am and arrives at 11:15am in Dallas.  Total travel time is four hours and five minutes.  This would be the ideal flight choice for traveling with a child.  The second option departs New York’s La Guardia at 7:59am and arrives in Dallas at 12:39pm.  This flight segment makes a stop in ATL and the total travel time is one hour and 35 minutes longer than the first choice.  The connection, additional time, and stress only saved $16.10.  Sounds like a no-brainer.

Most major airlines consider a car seat and stroller as not part of the standard baggage allowance.  This means you can check the stroller or car seat to your destination via curbside check-in or at a ticket counter for no additional fee.  If you are travelling with less than two children and have short connection times, checking the stroller to your destination is a good idea.  There is an additional option to gate check the stroller at no extra charge. This allows access of the stroller until you board the airplane.  The downside to this option: you wait for the stroller after completion of the flight.  This can take an additional 10-15 minutes after getting off the airplane.  Waiting for the stroller is not ideal when your connection flight has started boarding in a different terminal.

Parents often like to bring a child’s car seat to use on-board the aircraft.  The car seat needs to have FAA approval and a FAA placard on the car seat for use.

FAA APPROVED IN ACCORDANCE WITH 14 CFR 21.805 (d) APPROVED FOR AIRCRAFT USE ONLY

FAA Car Seat Placard

FAA Car Seat Placard. Click Placard for FAA Approved Lists

The FAA does not approve most of the car seats that parents try using on-board the plane and you can click the above placard to see if your car seat is approved.  In the case that your car seat is not FAA approved, it will be gate checked.  This usually results in a very upset parent.  Once you deplane, you would be required to wait for the car seat.  If it isn’t FAA approved, check it to your destination at no additional charge via the ticket counter or curbside check-in.

I think I could go on for days about tips for the beginner and frequent traveler on how to make their travel experience easier.  If you have any questions, please share in the comments section below.  My experience includes traveling alone as a child to being a pilot for a commercial airline.  I have seen just about everything that happens during the emotional day(s) in the airports.  If your children would like to stop by and see the cockpit just ask the Flight Attendant and they will let them poke their heads in and take a look around.  Dads, you don’t necessarily need to have a child to get a peek inside the flight deck; just ask.

I encourage every parent to visit babiestravellite.com.

You can also visit our adoption page at mattandtreyadopt.com

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He’s in the Navy Now

February 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Same Sex Parent, Tanya Dodd-Hise

By: Tanya Dodd-Hise

The other day, maybe two weeks ago at most, I get a phone call from the oldest boy (the 20-year-old).  When I answer the phone with my sing-songie “Hellooo-ooo-oooo,” he laughs and says, “Hey Mom!  I’ve got something to tell you!”

Freeze frame.

Picture it, if you will.  Me, standing at the kitchen counter, and my free hand immediately goes to the edge and grasps it.  Oh dear God, he’s got something to tell me.  They’re pregnant.  Oh God.  No, not that.  Too young.  But even more importantly, I am too young to be a grandma – a grandma with an almost four-month-old baby!  OK, breathe.

Unfreeze frame.

I say, with a big ole question mark in my voice, “Oh yeah?  What’s that?”  Stay calm Mom, stay calm.  He answers, “Um, my orders have changed, and I am shipping out for basic training on March 1st instead of June 4th.”  Oh no!  Oh wait.  Do what?  Tell me that again so that I am sure that you’re not saying that you’re pregnant.  But wait again.  You’re leaving for the Navy in, what, a few weeks rather than months?  Oh.  Oh wow.  Okay.  I think I’m okay with that.

So I get off the phone and relay the info, what little I got, to Erikka.  I say that I would like for us to have dinner with him and his wife before he leaves, and maybe invite her mom, his dad, and our parents.  Shortly after that I get a phone call from his dad.  He says, “Did you get a phone call from our oldest son?”  I laugh and said, “Yeah, and he scared the crap out of me by the way he started out.”  Then HE laughed and said, “Oh he must have told you the same thing he told me – ‘Dad, I have something to tell you.’  My first thought was, ‘When is she due?’”  We had a good laugh over that, and were soon discussing plans for a dinner for them about a week or two before he was due to leave.

Nicholas with his baby sister in her sailor suit :)

Somehow, over the course of a few days, the plan changed and morphed from a dinner with family, to a dinner with family and friends, to a Sunday afternoon luncheon at a rented space with family and lots of friends.  My wonderful and lovely wife, and his amazing bonus mom, is a party planner extraordinaire, and was able to throw together quite the soiree in about a week’s time.  We catered a fantastic Mexican food lunch, had a few people bring a few things, and then it was done!  Everyone was so helpful and cooperative, including my mom (wow!), Erikka’s parents, the boys’ dad and other stepmom, and my daughter-in-law’s mother.  When the time came for guests to start arriving, I sat back with a sleeping baby on my lap and watched as our friends, family, and their friends arrived with so much love, hugs, and support for my boy and his wife.  It brought tears to my eyes to see so many people taking time out of their Sunday to come and do this.  At one point, while everyone was eating, I got teary-eyed as I looked at the “kid table,” and wondered where all the time had gone.  At that table sat six young adults, ages 16-22 years old now, and as I looked at them, I remembered them sitting around a table at some church youth group event, only they were little and in elementary and middle school.  These “kids” have known each other since they were young, and now mine is married to one of these girls that I watched grow into a beautiful woman – now wife.  Another of the girls is also married and a Navy wife as well.  Another is in college and a live-in nanny.  Her brother is the youngest of the group here, and he is now a successful sports jock in high school – I remember when he was in kindergarten!  And still another is currently trying his hand with acting!  Where did the time go?

Funniest. Photo. of. the. Day. My three kids - FANTASTIC sibling photo.

It was a good day, spent with such a wide range of people from all different walks of life.  But I think that Nicholas really enjoyed it and felt special and loved.  Towards the end, it hit me that in ten days, he would be gone, shipping off to Chicago for two months’ of basic training.  I know that he is all grown up, almost twenty-one years old and married for a few months now.  I know this, and am perfectly okay with the progression of life as it has gone.  But for some reason, this step, him going into the military and leaving, makes it a whole lot more real.  I think I would be a whole lot more nervous if he had gone into the Army, and I don’t fear for his safety as much going Navy.  I’m proud of him, SO proud of him, for taking this step and moving his life into a definite direction.  I don’t see him all the time now, since he has been gone and living on his own, but I at least have the option if I want to.  I am going to miss him terribly, but I know that this is part of growing up and starting your own life.  I know that he will attend basic training in Chicago, and then I believe is supposed to go to Pensacola for A-school.  After that, I’m not sure where he will be stationed, but I pray that it isn’t so far that we won’t be able to be a part of their lives (especially when they DO start a family).  I want his younger brother and sister to know him, which means at this point, that we have to make an extra effort to make it happen.

So if you think about it, for the next couple of months, please keep my oldest boy in your thoughts.  His wife will stay behind and live with her mom, and we will make sure that she doesn’t get lonely or sad.  And soon?  We’ll be planning our trip to Chicago for his graduation!

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Mama on a Soapbox

By: Tanya Dodd-Hise

So I may have mentioned this previously, but it annoys the hell out of me that I have to adopt my daughter.  Yes, it makes me want to run, kicking and screaming at the top of my lungs, about the unfairness of it all.  Well, when it comes right down to it, it pisses me off in a way that I don’t think many things have.  Every time I think about when a hetero couple has a baby, the father’s parentage is automatically assumed, solely on the word of the birth mother saying that yes, this dude is the baby daddy.  The dude doesn’t have to go through the process of having to adopt the kid, just because he didn’t birth it – so why should I???  Because our relationship and our family is dictated by a government full of assholes who SAY that they want smaller government, yet have to keep their fingers in countless people’s lives, marriages, and families.

It’s very hard to be part of an openly gay marriage, as well as be the non-biological mother to our child, when living in a conservative, Southern state.  It’s hard to hear, over and over for years and years, that my marriage isn’t real or legitimate or legal (all three of which it completely IS).  It’s hard to know that people look down their noses at us when we’re all together, disgusted by all of our same-sexness.  It’s hard to be out in public during the day with the baby, and have people assume that I am her aunt or baby sitter, because I can’t possibly be her mother, given the way that I look.  It’s really hard to sit back and watch hypocrites run for office who are SO against marriage equality, yet have in their own history adultery and divorce…multiple times!

In the very near future, I will have to shell out the money for my BFF (aka attorney) to file a petition to the state asking permission to adopt my sweet baby girl.  After that, I will have to shell out even more money (of which I will have to put aside, since it’s not just lying around) to a social worker.  This is my favorite part.  The social worker will come to our house to complete a Home Study – she will examine our home, interrogate me, Erikka, both of us together, and maybe even Noah.  She will decide whether or not she thinks that I should be allowed to adopt Harrison.  If she says she doesn’t think that I should, then what happens?  Well, the adoption won’t happen, but nothing else.  I will still continue to live here and always be her mama, but without those legal protections.  If she says that she thinks it will be okay, I think we then proceed to going to court to stand before a judge.  At that time, then HE or SHE will decide whether or not they think I should be allowed to adopt my own daughter.  Here is where it all comes down to it.  If the judge says no, that’s it, I’m screwed.  IF my adoption request is denied, there is no opportunity to try it again.  That’s it.  I could get all of the recommendation letters in the world, and if we don’t get the right judge, it could all be for nothing.

And THIS, my friends, is why I am pissed off.

There is no question whatsoever, or at least there shouldn’t be, as to whether this little girl is mine.  She has been mine, along with Erikka’s, since the moment that I watched the doctor perform the intra-uterine insemination.  Since the moment we laid the cell phone on the bed, speakerphone on, as the nurse told us that the blood test was positive.  I went to all of the doctor’s appointments, saw all of the sonograms, shopped, worried over her and Erikka’s health, changed my diet along with Erikka, painted, and helped build her little Dr. Seuss world in her nursery to prepare for her arrival.  I got to meet her before anyone else, and I took care of her while her other mommy was recuperating after the birth. 

I have bathed her, clothed her, fed her, changed her, sung to her, and rocked her to sleep.  Beyond all of these things or none of these things, I have loved her.  Because she is MY daughter.  I shouldn’t have to prove this, to a social worker or to a judge, just to have the legal protections that I rightfully should.


We need a change in this country, in this state.  We need a LOT of change.  The government needs to stop being such a puss and make the declaration that they have a hell of a lot more to worry about than same-sex couples marrying or having families.  They need to grow a spine and make the decision that they are going to stay out of it, and they are going to cease allowing any of us to vote on anyone else’s equality.  Sigh.  Sounds good, huh?  Too bad it is unlikely to happen.

Soapbox empty now.

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Her Head is Going to Spin Around!

January 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Family, Same Sex Parent, Tanya Dodd-Hise

By: Tanya Dodd-Hise

Do you ever feel, as a parent, that everything you do is wrong?  I mean, I’ve had these moments over and over during the course of the past 20+ years (oh my God I’ve been a parent for over twenty years!), but I don’t remember feeling it quite the way I am this go-around.

When Harrison was first born, we bragged that she was the perfect baby – eating, burping, sleeping, pooping all when she was supposed to, or so we thought.  After about two or three weeks, however, her sleeping became erratic.  Her eating became episodes of vomiting that just seemed to get worse and worse.  Her pooping became less and less, and at times, non-existent.  I had been so confident that it would all come back to me, no problem.  I was cocky enough to believe that I was “older and wiser” and whatever this baby threw at me, “I got this.”  HA!  She currently has my arm twisted behind my back, and I am quickly being brought to my knees, about to cry “Uncle!”

As her eating/spitting-up issue has gotten worse, I still maintained my history that walked me through this not once, but twice.  Both boys had reflux, accompanied by projectile vomiting.  I remember, all those years ago, that friends and family alike called Nicholas “the vomit king”, affectionately, of course.  When Noah came along many years later, I was well prepared when he followed in his brother’s footsteps as heir to the vomit king’s throne – only his was worse.  Back then, pediatricians didn’t put them on medications, but rather referred us out to pediatric GI doctors at the children’s hospital; those doctors, in turn, would run tests, perform upper GI series (which was an awful ordeal in and of itself), and threaten surgery for conditions that continued to get worse.  I tried everything with the boys, thinking that the next thing would help somehow and give these sweet babies a tiny bit of relief.  Nicholas ultimately went on fresh goat’s milk around ten months old, and I had to drive an hour to a farm to buy it.  Noah nursed almost exclusively, but because he was a preemie, had to supplement with formula – and we tried so many different ones.  He ended up going on cow’s milk at around ten months old (to supplement breast milk), and his condition got remarkably better as well.  It was so bizarre that both boys were preemies, both were born five weeks early, and both had terrible reflux conditions.

So now here I am, all these years later, with a new baby girl that seemingly has the same awful condition that her older brothers had.  We are trying everything and nothing seems to be bringing relief to her.  It feels like everything we are doing isn’t working or is just plain wrong.  She is on her sixth – yes, SIXTH – formula, and vomiting just as much as ever.  She tried Zantac, but threw it up.  She is on Prevacid, and we have to time her meds not near eating time, or it will get spit up as well. 
We bought her a special thing to lay in – The Nap Nanny – in hopes that it will put her in a position that will alleviate the heartburn and allow her to nap without spitting up so much and waking herself up.  I feel like everything I do is wrong, and I don’t remember ever feeling like this before.  It is a horrible, helpless feeling to hold a screaming baby, knowing she is in pain and being powerless to make it better.  She had gotten to the point where she was spitting up blood, so back to the doctor we went, where we were switched to our current formula and medication regimen.  We’re tired mommies, and we know that she is just exhausted every day from constant bouts of heartburn.

The other day, after she had been screaming for a particularly long time, I had to put her in her swing and sit down, head in my hands.  I sat and cried, talking out loud to both Harrison and God, asking what I could do to make her feel better.  It wasn’t a good afternoon.  For the first time since she was born, I felt totally and completely inept and over my head.  Just when we think that we’ve tried everything, we somehow come up with something else to try, waiting to see if it will be the magic trick that will ease her pain and bring us back to some sense of normalcy.  Right now, our days and nights are managed by a tiny, eleven-pound baby girl who needs us every moment that she is awake.  I get frustrated and irritable because the house is a wreck or because the laundry never gets caught up, but I have to stop and remind myself that she is tiny and defenseless, and that this is not a permanent condition.  I’m trying to enjoy the snuggling that at times, for a few quiet moments, makes her feel better and brings her some rest.  I know that there will come a day when I will want to hug on her and she will not be interested any longer.  I will want to hold her hand and she will pull away.  So for now, I will hold her when she needs holding and rock her to sleep so she won’t cry.  I may be flubbing up everything else, but I will be able to one day tell her that I did the best mommying that I could when she was new. 

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Merry Christmakkuhzaa!

December 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Family, Same Sex Parent, Tanya Dodd-Hise

By: Tanya Dodd-Hise

After our multiple trips to the hospital, and our lack of sleep, and Harrison’s new development of reflux and a LOT more spitting up episodes, time is still flying by and she is soon going to be two months old.  On top of this, she turns two months on Christmas Eve.  Yeah, her first Christmas is already here, and she is oblivious to the wonder of it all.  But there is something about being in the Christmas season that brings out so much in so many, and while she may not know what is going on around her or what Christmas even is, it is still fun to walk through the holidays with a new baby.

Having a new baby during the holidays is always exciting, no matter how old they are.  It brings up reminders of holidays past, memories shared, gifts exchanged, family gatherings.  It also points to what is upcoming:  a new year.  There are hopes and dreams for ourselves, for our children, for our family; things to change, goals and achievements to aim for, and new memories to make together.  For many families like ours, those in the LGBT community, there is always a hope and longing that things will change in this country for us.  We look forward to a new year with hopes and dreams of equality, and changes in laws that will allow for equal treatment among all of its citizens.

Last year, we decided to begin educating Noah about Hanukkah, along with its history and traditions, blessings, foods, and games.  While it is too early to begin teaching Harrison about these things, I look forward to it.  Many people ask me if I am Jewish, to which I respond that I am not.  I have studied Judaism extensively while in graduate school, where my area of specialty was Holocaust Studies.  I decided a long time ago, even before I came out openly and publicly, that my children would be taught tolerance for others.  I have done everything in my power to keep them from acting intolerant or hateful towards others, and it only seemed fitting to teach them about other holidays and cultures as well.  Noah enjoyed hearing the story of the Maccabees, lighting the candles, spinning the dreidel, and sampling traditional, homemade latkes.  I was ribbed a bit for celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas, but it didn’t matter.  At the end of the eight day Festival of Lights, I knew that my ten-year-old was probably more educated on the holiday than most of his counterparts, and for that I was proud.  I have also since learned a little bit more about the Kwanzaa celebration (of which I knew nothing before this year), and am debating on whether to educate him about that culture’s traditions as well.  It can’t hurt for him to expand his knowledge, right?

This year we have a unique opportunity to show him all three of these holidays.  Hanukkah will begin at sunset on Tuesday, December 20th; Christmas will occur, as usual, on December 25th; Kwanzaa always begins December 26th and lasts until January 1st.  They are all so close, we will be able to begin with one and celebrate three different cultures over the course of twelve days – not very many can say THAT!  And I may get criticized for my “unique” way of teaching my children, but I don’t mind.  Ignorance breeds hatred, especially for those things that one doesn’t know anything about.  Education breeds tolerance and acceptance, two very important virtues that I want our children to practice; and it begins with us practicing it ourselves.

So for all of our family, friends, and fans, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmakkuhzaa.  And a Happy New Year! 

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I Could Not Ask for More

December 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Family, Same Sex Parent, Tanya Dodd-Hise

By: Tanya Dodd-Hise

I’m finding out that life as we knew it is no more.  Yes, I know that seems like it would be an obvious discovery, but silly me thought that our lives would be as before, with just a tiny addition.  Right?  Wrong.

Before Harrison arrived on the scene, we had a lot of freedom, even with a kid in the house.  Noah is eleven, self-sufficient for the most part, and visits with his dad every other weekend.  If we wanted to take a short getaway trip, we planned them for the weekends that Noah is gone.  If we wanted to plan a fun family outing, we planned them for the weekends that Noah is home.  We could go to a movie whenever we wanted, or out to eat or out with friends.  We had a very precious commodity that I likely will not see for a long time:  time to ourselves, just the two of us.  For this, it didn’t matter if Noah was here or not; every evening, after nine o’clock when he goes to bed, we had time to be a couple.  It was during these hours that we could talk, laugh, watch a movie if we wanted, or snuggle up together.  Since Harrison has arrived, these moments have been few and far between, and I’m realizing every day just how much I miss those hours.

Erikka keeps telling me that it will get better as I keep bemoaning that everything has changed and that we’ll NEVER get any time to ourselves again.  Don’t get me wrong, I am crazy in love with this little baby girl and wouldn’t trade anything to go back to life without her.  I suppose I am experiencing some growing pains, much like a sibling does when adjusting to life with a newer, younger sibling.  I’m sure I sound completely selfish to say it, too, but I miss my adult time with my wife.  I miss family time that is easy and the only complication in going somewhere was, “Noah, get in the car.  No, now.  It’s time to go.”  Going somewhere as a family now takes some prep time – diaper bag must be stocked, baby in the car seat, make sure she has a clean diaper and is fed and burped, do we have formula, a bottle, her blanket?

So now I feel guilty for even bringing any of it up, and I sound like a selfish ass, right?  Surely this is normal.  Is it because of my age that I am clinging so tightly to our former, easy-going life?  Is it because I’ve been here and done this before, having had Noah when Nicholas was 8 ½ years old?  I don’t know.  I know that I will adjust and that one day we will have those hours back every day when children are asleep and we can have intelligent, grownup conversations about something other than diapers, spit-up, and feedings.  I know that someday soon Harrison will sleep through the night, in her own room, and I will probably miss her being right next to my side of the bed where I can grab her the moment that she cries out.  I know that someday very soon my wife will be ready to leave her with someone trusted for a few hours so we can have a date night (which I am looking very forward to, by the way).  Patience has not always been one of my strong suits, but I am learning, through all of this, that I have no choice but to practice it.  I love my family so much that some days it seems almost too good to be true.  I look at our home and this beautiful life that I have been given and wonder what I did to deserve so much happiness – who am I to complain?  I couldn’t ask for more than any of this.

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Back to the Hospital

November 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Family, Same Sex Parent, Tanya Dodd-Hise

By: Tanya Dodd-Hise

By the time that Harrison was four days old, the doctor was saying that Erikka was doing well enough to go home.  She was a bit pensive about this decision, and told me and the doctor that she didn’t feel like she was ready, didn’t feel quite right; nevertheless, we loaded up everybody and brought our brand new bundle home on a Friday.  When we arrived, I took her and we did a walk-through of the house, where I showed her everything, including her cool Dr. Seuss nursery.  We got settled in fairly quickly, and Erikka planted herself on the couch to rest, while we passed our sweet baby girl back and forth between us.  Soon, we had our first visitor at home, with more on the way over the weekend.  Erikka’s parents came to visit, while sorority sisters came to meet baby Harrison and brought meals for us to put in the freezer for the following week.  Over the course of the weekend, Erikka still didn’t feel very well and her blood pressure was steadily going back up.  It got to the point that whenever she tried to lie down she couldn’t breathe, which we totally did not understand.  Needless to say, she didn’t get much sleep in the first three days that she was home from the hospital, unless she was in a sitting position.

Monday came and Erikka was still feeling lousy.  It was Halloween, and we had been looking forward to handing out treats at the door while Noah went Trick-or-Treating with my sorority sisters.  But by the time he was getting into his costume, Erikka had taken one too many very high blood pressure readings, so I was ready to take her to the hospital.  She still was having a hard time breathing, and would get winded just going from our room in the front of the house to the den in the back.  So when Noah got picked up, I told my friend that I was taking her back to the hospital, and that I may need her to keep him overnight again if we were really late.  Off they went, and I went back into the house and told Erikka that we were going to the emergency room – which is what her doctor had recommended if she still had trouble breathing.  We loaded up, and they got her back fairly quickly, considering they had a pretty packed waiting room.  I waited there with the baby while she went through triage, and managed to call Holly, who was headed over to our house that night anyway.  I also called her parents, who I think went into panic mode and quickly dropped everything to come back to the hospital (they live just under two hours away).  Soon Erikka came and got me to come back with her, saying that they were going to put her into a room for monitoring – her blood pressure was high and her EKG showed some kind of abnormal reading, although she was unsure exactly what it was.  Once she was in an ER room, they started running tests, scheduling CAT scans of her heart and lungs, and waiting on the ER doctor to see her.  Once she did, she said that she heard fluid in her lungs and ordered lasiks.  While we waited, Holly arrived first, and later Erikka’s parents.  I was trying not to be freaked out, but I was scared and worried that something was really wrong.  After a while and many tests, the ER doc came back and said that she was admitting Erikka for the night so that they could try to get the fluid off of her heart and lungs – but thankfully there was no blood clot in her lungs like we had feared.  Oh dear.  They were admitting her.  Fluid on the lungs and heart.  What the hell was happening?

At around midnight, Erikka was in her room in the cardiac care unit, and Harrison and I were heading home…alone.  Thank God Holly was coming back to the house with me – I was freaking out!  I had a one-week-old baby, after not having ANY kind of baby for over eleven years now, and I was having to take her home and take care of her – MYSELF!!  I also had a big photo shoot scheduled for the next day and was going to have to leave the baby for the first time.  How blessed were we that Holly was available to come and stay with her, and we totally trusted her!

Holly ended up staying for three nights with me and Harrison, while Erikka remained in the hospital.  She made food and filled our freezer, helped me with the baby, and watched her while giving me precious time to shower – she was a lifesaver indeed.  Every day we would go to the hospital to visit Erikka, and every day I worried a little bit more because they were trying to get her blood pressure down, get fluids off of her heart and lungs, and try to figure out what caused this to happen in the first place.  On day five of this stay – her second stay – she wanted to come home so badly.  We thought that she was going to get sprung, and then late in the afternoon the doctor came back in and said that she wasn’t comfortable sending her home again until Erikka saw a cardiologist.  Well THAT didn’t go over well.  I finally decided that I would go home and get clothes and supplies, and Harrison and I would stay the night with her at the hospital so she wouldn’t be sad.  On my way back up there, as I drove I finally broke down from all the worry that I had carried all week.  I cried and cried – I was so scared that something was happening to my wife that the doctors weren’t able to correct.  I was so scared that I would lose her and have to do this alone.  I was terrified that Harrison wouldn’t know the wonderful mommy who had risked her health to carry and deliver her.

The next day, Saturday, a cardiologist came to see Erikka, having already gone over her tests and such.  He didn’t seem to be as nearly concerned about whatever was going on with her heart and blood pressure as our doctor had been.  He said he wanted to change her meds and see her in his office in two weeks, where he would monitor her condition.  Then he gave us the words that we had been waiting for days to hear:  You can go home.  Within about an hour, for the second time in seven days, I was driving Erikka home from the hospital.  Hopefully this time it would be the last time for a while.

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She’s Absolutely Perfect

November 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Family, Same Sex Parent, Tanya Dodd-Hise

By: Tanya Dodd-Hise

The first few hours after Harrison was born went by in a blur.  She arrived at 10 PM, on the hour, and by 11 PM  we were back in our room and introducing her to friends and family who had arrived and been in the waiting room.  I was running on adrenaline, to and fro between the room and the waiting room.  We had quite a crowd, but by midnight we were finally starting to say our good-nights and hoping for some rest.  Erikka was resting after her surgery, and they were pumping her full of medications to bring her blood pressures back down to normal while I got to spend a lot of time with our new bundle of beautiful joy.  I was having to give her formula in a bottle because Erikka obviously didn’t have any milk yet, and the baby was pretty sleepy after being born to even attempt to latch on and nurse.  I remember finally lying down to sleep at about 6 AM, in complete and total exhaustion and bliss; we all slept about two hours before we were awakened by nurses coming in to check both Erikka and the baby.

A couple of days later, as we’re hanging out in our hospital room – a regular room, no longer one of the giant labor & delivery rooms where we had spent the first twenty-four hours – I was sitting on the couch, hanging out with Harrison.  She had eaten, I had changed her and swaddled her, and she was lying on a pillow near the window, wide-eyed and looking around (even though I know she couldn’t see very far still).  I sat there, as I had been doing most of the time since her birth, staring at her in amazement, with so many thoughts crossing my mind.  At that moment, days after entering the world, she was completely perfect.  Think about it.

Right now, Harrison has no idea of what hate is.  She has been surrounded by nothing but love, admiration, and lots of kisses on her tiny little face (and feet, too).  She doesn’t have any comprehension of what it is like to be angry, well, unless she is wet, dirty, or hungry.  But it isn’t real, genuine anger.  She trusts every single one of us who she was entrusted to, and is secure with her very limited knowledge that we will indeed take care of her.  She has never been hurt, or had her heart broken or her feelings trampled on.  She doesn’t know sadness, nor does she have any inkling of what it is like to feel guilt or disappointment.  Right now, she is absolutely perfect.

How can we protect that?  How can we keep her there, in that perfectness bubble where she lives right now?  I look at this tiny, beautiful baby girl and know that I can’t do it.  One day she will be sad – and it will break my heart.  One day she will get mad, at one of US, and I will have to talk her down from the rafters.  One day, some little snot-nosed girl on the playground will say something snarky and hurt her feelings, and she will come home crying – and I won’t be able to do a thing about it.  We’re not allowed to go scream at other people’s kids when they hurt our own.

I look at her and all I want is to protect her, from all of these things.  I pray that the trust that she instinctively has for us right now is a trust that she always has in us.  While I may not be able to keep bad, sad, or uncomfortable things from happening in her life, I can make sure that I shield her from it as much as humanly possible.  I was worried, briefly, that I wouldn’t fall in love with her as madly as I had the two babies who had come from me, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I feed her, I hold her, I change her, I drive her around in the middle of the night if I need to, I bathe her, and I love her so completely.  No one would ever be able to say that this child is not mine – and if they do and it hurts her feelings, then they’d better look out!

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For a Moment, Time Stood Still

By: Tanya Dodd-Hise

So the last time I wrote it was Monday, October 24th, and time had stood still while we waited for four or five days thus far.  Needless to say, I wrote it and put it out there, and sure as hell, things started moving and shaking within hours of my authoring that blog.

As you may remember, Erikka had gotten thrown in the hospital on complete bedrest because of high blood pressure, so that’s where we sat.  Monday.  Game 5 of the World Series.  We had finished dinner already and Noah was with a friend for the evening – I just had had a feeling that I needed to stay with her that evening, at least until the end of the game.  Erikka had been feeling particularly lousy that day, with blood pressure readings bouncing around, and another day of a lingering headache.  Every time she reported the headaches, she got a barrage of questions:  Are you seeing spots?  Any visual disturbances?  Seeing double?  To these she always answered “no”.  Well, Monday night during the game, she tells me that she is seeing little white spots, so I, consequently, pass this nugget of information on to the nurse.  That seemed to have triggered something, because her response was, “Hmmm.  I’m going to have to page your doctor and let her know about this.”  Um, okay.  We go back to watching the game, and about ten minutes later the phone rings in the hospital room (which had only happened one other time).  I answer it and was greeted by our OB/GYN who said, “Is this Tanya?  This is Dr. P…we’re going to have a baby tonight!”  I paused and said, “Um, excuse me?”  She continued, “Well, there are too many factors that have been going on for too long, and now she is seeing spots so we’re just going to do this tonight.  I’m heading up there now, so we will see you shortly!”  I answered, “Um, okay!  Bye!”  I then looked at Erikka, who had a very puzzled look on her face, and told her what the doctor said – and then I proceeded to go into crazy, panicked “dad” mode!  I gave her a phone and said to call her parents, and I went out into the waiting room to call those on the list to be there, not even realizing that it was already almost nine o’clock at night!

Pretty soon we were whisked down the hall and taken to a labor and delivery room, where they started working to get her ready for her c-section.  I had changed into the pink scrubs that I had bought for the birth, and then they gave me booties and a jumpsuit to put on top of them.  We were still watching the Texas Rangers game while we got ready to go into the O.R., and the score was tied as we prepped for it.  I had on my lucky red hat that I wore for every game, and I got permission from the doctor to wear it in the O.R.!  Soon we were on our way, across the hall, where I was positioned on a stool next to Erikka’s head, camera in hand and cell phone in pocket.  This was about to happen.  I was about to meet my daughter for the first time.  I was freaking out a bit, and the adrenaline rush was making me re-think the wisdom in having had McDonald’s for dinner.  So I sat, took some deep breaths, kissed my wife, and told her she was doing great.

Soon our doctor and one of her partners walked through the operating room doors and proceeded on their way.  I stood up once, early on, to look over the curtain and see what was going on – not a good idea at the moment I chose.  I sat back down, and didn’t look again until they told me that it was time and they were pulling her out.  When I stood back up, camera on and ready, I held my breath as they delivered my baby girl’s head first, and then slowly the rest of her body, while she looked pissed off for the intrusion into her bubbled world.

For a moment, time stood still.  I heard the comments of how big she was, and they held her up for me to see and photograph.  I didn’t know if I should smile, cry, laugh, or all of it.  She was here, and she was okay.  She was only 37 weeks along, but she was perfect.  The time was ten o’clock, on the hour; an hour earlier I was watching baseball, and now I had a brand new baby girl.  It’s amazing how quickly your life can change.  While I had given birth to two babies, one naturally and one via c-section, I was now in an entirely different position and getting to experience it from a whole other perspective.  I watched her come into the world, and I held the hand of my wife while the anesthesiologist took my camera and took our first photos as a family together.  The baby weighed in at eight pounds, six ounces, and measured 20.5 inches long.  She has big chubby cheeks, just like we saw in the sonograms – it was amazing!

While they finished up with Erikka, stitching her up and such, they took the baby and me back across the hall to our original labor & delivery room.  I held her in my arms, and we had about ten minutes just to ourselves, she and I.  We walked around the room together, while I just stared at her, completely and totally in love with her already.  I stopped at the television, and realized that the baseball game was still on, just as we had left it when we went into the operating room.  I paused to look just in time to see the last ball played, and the Rangers win game five over the St. Louis Cardinals, and cheered quietly, telling the baby that she brought our guys good luck that night!  Soon they brought Erikka in, and she was awake and alert, doing fabulously and ready to meet and hold our beautiful baby girl.

We named her Harrison, after her grandpa.  Harrison Sinclair Jayne-Anne.  And she’s perfect.

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