Seriously. Look at that face.
Remember my ambivalence on the subject of baby #2, to have or not to have? Well, the subject is still on my mind, consciously and otherwise.

Starting with otherwise, I’ve recently become fixated on the idea of adopting a baby… duck. It’s clearly a misdirected function of my biological clock, but it’s very real, regardless. Our neighbor across the street invited us to a small-animal petting zoo in her backyard a few weeks ago (she had some sort of work function at her house for an entire Saturday, and hired the zoo to entertain her colleagues’ kids); Kaspar and I trotted over when he woke from  his afternoon nap. He was fairly interested in the bunnies, guinea pigs, chicks and – yep – ducklings as they toppled over each other within the enclosed zoo area, but I was downright enthralled. Kaspar sat on a little bench and held a few critters, and soon lost interest (he wanted to play on our neighbor’s slide). Me? I didn’t stray from MY little bench, which was clearly meant for toddler butts, until the zoo was practically packed up and rolling away in the van it arrived in. When it—and  I—finally left, I had ducklings on my mind.

I’ve done a little research, and ducklings are, as it turns out, quite easy to care for. They’re social, so they should be raised at least in pairs. They also need a solid enclosure, fresh hay on the daily, and proper amounts of food and water. Eventually, they appreciate a kiddie-pool for swimming in (this should be supervised when they’re very small, lest they accidentally drown). That’s about it. Our fenced, medium-sized backyard would (will) be perfect for this. As to where our ducklings will come from, the petting zoo lady informed me they can be purchased, here in Austin, at a local feed and farm-stuff store, Callahan’s.  I kind of feel badly buying an animal that’s been taken from its mother, though; I’ve always adopted my pets. So I did some additional research and discovered there was a stray duckling at an animal shelter in Dallas in 2009, but other than that, homeless ducks are hard to come by; all of the Texas duck rescue websites I found are now defunct.

To make matters (by which I mean, my longing for a duckling to call my own) worse, there’s now a family of ducks in our neighborhood. They live in the fountain-pond by its entrance. I’ll admit I’ve daydreamed of duck-napping one of the flock, but, all told, I don’t have it in me. So, it’ll either be Callahan’s or an unlikely stray that ends up joining our family. I’ve put the word out among friends (and now you readers), so I’m hoping a motherless duckling appears, right on cue, at our door. If you build it, they will come, right? In the meantime, Aaron still needs some convincing. (He just keeps looking at me funny and saying, “What you want, Taylor, is a baby.”)

My friend Brooke feeds her sweet baby V (2 Months)

Click "Read More" below for the rest of the post! (Plus, delicious baby pics).

My beautiful friend Julia with her new daughter
Which brings me to last week, wherein I sustained a minor pregnancy scare. I have a copper IUD, so while it’s possible to become pregnant with one of these, it’s also statistically rare. I’ve been pretty regular, period-wise, since it’s insertion, too, but my period last month was unusually low-profile.  And last week, I felt kind of… knocked up (in a subtle way, but that’s how my Kaspar-pregnancy rolled, so I paid attention nonetheless): my boobs were sore and felt bigger than usual, my abdomen was crampy, and I was more hungry than usual. It wasn’t yet time for PMS, so… I had to wonder. I wondered enough to mention it to Aaron (very clearly stating that I wasn’t at all sure, and I probably wasn’t pregnant, anyway). He said, “Whoa, a second kid. We’d really better start making some more money…”.

This will be true, if and when baby #2 does materialize. We were hit hard by tax season this year, and are now paying off last year’s taxes through the end of this year via a hefty, unforeseen $600 monthly bill (so much for freelance success…). My previously expressed hesitation around having a second child due to its financial implications hasn’t, as a result, eased up. And, when I thought I was pregnant, I was surprised to find many of my other hesitations have also remained intact: Kaspar still isn’t sleeping soundly, and I’m still quite afraid that a second biological child would suffer from severe allergies and skin issues in the way Baby Kaspar did. We love, love, love our Kaspar to the moon and back, but I’m honestly not sure we could survive all that a second time, especially with a child who’s already here and needs looking after. Still, in thinking I might be pregnant, I was surprised by a small voice in my head that welcomed a second baby if one happened to be battering up in my insides. Because, hey, we’re good parents, Kaspar’s sweet, social and increasingly sibling-ready, and we all have a lot of love to give, if not a lot of extra cash lying around at present. (I should add that I’ve been lucky in getting extra freelance work to cover that tax payment each month without our having to tighten our belts too much… Of course we’ll have to pay off this work in taxes next year, once we’ve spent it on taxes this year… Sigh. Let’s just hope hard that Mitt Romney’s not sitting in office at that point or this will really all be a sick, twisted wash).

I was also surprised that Aaron’s response to my suggestion that I might be pregnant wasn’t “Uh oh,” or something similar. He said instead that he’d pick up a pregnancy test for me on his way home – he was heading out for the day when I dropped the maybe-pregnant bomb . But I couldn’t wait. Our next-door neighbor (and one of my closest mom-buddies) toted me along on her daily Starbucks run, and we swung by CVS on the way home.

It was ten in the morning. I ran in, grabbed two boxes with two digital tests in them, each, and put them matter-of-factly on the counter at the register. Now, I’ve done this enough times to know the routine by heart; normally, the cashier will mumble a neutral greeting, put the tests in a paper bag, put that paper bag in a regular plastic bag, charge my card and send me on my way without so much as batted lash. Not this time. The woman behind the counter (45, maybe 50?) eyed my intended purchase and said, “Two isn’t enough for you?” Lash batted.

Our little friend Austin, 10 months
Are you craving babies yet??
This was wildly inappropriate, obviously, and although I’d like to report that I call out impropriety wherever it occurs, the truth is that I’m usually so taken aback by people behaving weirdly that I tend to underreact. I tend to make it okay in the moment, and kick myself later, sometimes for far longer than I should. In this case, I just laughed a little and said, “Hey, you never know.”

To which asshole-lady said (because, really, that should have been enough ‘friendly’ banter on the subject), “most people have extra drinks in their homes, but you have extra pregnancy tests.”

Me: Blank stare.

Her: “They’re expensive, you know. Girls are more expensive because of the ruffles and boys are just t-shirt and pants, but they only get worse as they get bigger, when they’re teenagers. Blah-blah-blah-nonsensical blah-blah.”

Me: “Do you take Visa? Great. Yeah, have a good one.”

I left, but upon reflecting on how very, very shitty it would have been to engage in that conversation were I in any number of situations other than my own (unwanted pregnancy? Months of unsuccessful IVF? Fearful of miscarriage? Abuse victim? Drunk anonymous sex regretful?), I called the CVS a few hours later and spoke to a manager, who took the situation very seriously, apologized sincerely and said she’d “take care of it.” (She sounded pissed).   

Aaaanyway, that worked for me. In other news: not pregnant.

I was relieved with the negative result, but the little misadventure left me reflecting on the duckling thing, and on what Aaron had said about it. Do I want a baby?

I kind of do, yeah. Actually, yes, I do want a baby! Maybe not right NOW, but the near-future is looking more realistically like an okay place for family expansion. Aaron’s getting there, as well, judging from his reaction to my maybe-pregnancy. But you know what? I really don’t want to be pregnant again (as much as I loved being pregnant, and I did). I really want to adopt. A duckling, and a baby. In that order. Tick-tock, tick-tock.

We’ll need to make more money for adopting a baby, too, but I’m not worried about it. The money shows up, you know? If it manifests for middle-class-oppressive tax payments, it certainly shows up for babies.  So I walked around with ducklings, and overseas adoption, on my mind for several days, and then my friend Jenn, who frequently puts together news segments (she’s a local TV reporter) on foster kids in need of families, asked me why I was thinking about flying to China instead of adopting a baby here at home. I thought it over and told her the truth.

For one thing, I know healthy infants are adopted up like hotcakes here in the states, and there are lots of babies overseas who need families but never get them. I also used to look at available foster kids online when I was in college (see? I’ve always wanted to do this), and it appeared that most of them have sibling groups attached, or really severe disabilities, or are older than baby-age. I wish I could say that I’m game for this, and maybe I will be when Kaspar’s in college or something, but I’m not up for adopting a group of siblings, or a wheelchair-bound, brain-damaged child who’ll always, always need assistance with basic life tasks, at this point in my life, as much as it rips my heart out that some of those children don’t have families to love them. We already have Kaspar, and keeping him healthy and well is a big job. I recognize that all kids have their own unique needs, and we’ll need to be prepared to meet the needs our second child brings us, too. But I think it’s important to be really, super honest with oneself about any personal limitations when it comes to subjects like this. Spelling them out can make the process, even in its idea-phases, feel uncomfortably like baby-shopping, but it’s still crucial to think these things through.  I suppose at some point, if we take the domestic adoption route, we’ll probably sit down and discuss all of this with a professional of some sort, and from there it’ll be about opening our arms and hearts and inviting the universe to land our second child – wherever he or she is -- in our laps, right where she or he belongs.  (I can’t wait).

Kaspar and Lil' J (23 months) go fishing.
Jenn (who is actually now working on a baby #2 of her own) understood where I was coming from, but when I told her what I could do, and would do, very willingly, she seemed to think there are probably more options available to us, domestically, than I might be aware of. For one thing, I’d like to adopt a baby, but my definition of the term extends up through, like, 18 months (many parents only want infants, so this sets us apart). I definitely don’t care at all if our child has a different skin color from us. And while I don’t want to adopt a whole sibling group, I’d be very open to facilitating a lifelong relationship between my child and existing siblings, or even biological parents, if that relationship can be carried out in a healthy way for all involved (and I believe this is, in most cases, possible). I don’t feel equipped to properly parent a child with major disabilities or brain damage, but developmental delays and, say, learning disabilities don’t freak me out. I barely believe in ADD, as I’ve seen it treated remarkably well through nutrition (but I think we’d adopt a kiddo who’s too young for that kind of diagnosis, anyway). Jenn admitted that she’s no expert ,  but she guessed that my flexibility on the above points (which Aaron shares, as I learned in discussing all of this with him later) actually makes domestic adoption more viable for us than I initially thought.

I looked around Texas’ foster care and adoptions  website later that day, and read several families’ adoption stories; as it turns out, many families do adopt healthy babies through the state. My vision surrounding international adoption is possible in the here, too. I know, of course, that real life is filled with surprises; my vision may be replaced by something I can’t even imagine now, but at this point I feel like we have a whole new set of options to explore, when the time comes. Adopting a baby, or young child, from the state/foster care system might be something we end up doing; it’ll certainly be something we look into.

So, as I mentioned, Aaron discussed all of this, and then decided to let it be for now. When Kaspar turned two, we talked about a second baby, and decided to move on it, if we want to, when Kaspar turns three. There’s plenty of time. That time will pass quickly, too, though; Kaspar’s already almost two and a half. Which means by this time next year, we might be a family of four.  Whoa, right?!

In other seemingly unrelated (but totally relevant… like the duckling thing) news, our house has been host to a bevy of babies in the last week, hence the photos in this post. That’s been tons of fun, and has reminded Aaron and me of what babies are all about (pure deliciousness + sheer exhaustion). I’ve watched Kaspar’s behavior around our small visitors, too, and he’s been fascinated, a little stand-off-ish, and gentle. He’s watched them closely (and, hilariously, asked with concern where they’ve disappeared to when their moms have hid them beneath nursing covers). He’s asked to hear his own birth story a lot lately, too. (“It was snowpocalypse, 2010, and the mayor of New York City closed all the schools… And Kaspar was ready to be born.”)  As he begins to grasp the very concept of babies, and of himself having been one not long ago, I sense he’s approaching a stage where he’ll be able to adjust to having a new sibling around here, too. I know he’ll be an amazing big brother, and I think he’ll love that role (I so hope he will, at least most of the time) when it comes time to step up.

So there you have it, readers, and mysterious powers that be. I’ve been struck with sudden-onset baby craving. I’m decidedly decided: we’re more than likely going to add another kid to this crew. I’m not sure how his or her story will go yet, but it just might already be in the making. I wanted to write this down, in these early phases, so I have a record of it to include as a part of that story, too. 

In the meantime, I’m expecting a duckling any day now. As always, I’ll keep you posted.

I would love to hear some happy adoption stories. Have you gone the international route? Adopted from foster care? I have several friends in New York who’ve adopted older children out of foster care and into happy, beautiful families. They’re all single moms who didn’t have other kids beforehand, though; how about blended biological-adopted families? What’s your family’s story? What should we know or look into as we take our first tentative steps on this journey (since at this point we’ve just agreed to explore these options, for serious, in just under a year from now)?
Baby Alessia smiles!
Mama-baby love.
06/15/2012 06:51

baby love. Even though we just had one, I can't stop thinking that he is likely our last, and, that despite any little hardships, I need to respect and savor these perfect precious baby days. As cliche as it is (for a reason--it's true!) these days do go by quickly, and before we know it, our sweet smelling babies have big smelly feet (which I'm finding pretty irresistible anyway on my 3yo). Looking forward to seeing how your family grows. Quack!

06/21/2012 06:58

I feel like the days keep speeding up, too, as our kiddos grow; some of those baby days felt like they lasted forever, but now they feel like they were ages ago. Sigh! Looking forward to watching your family grow, too; either in size (baby #3?) or just in stages (baby boys growing bigger). <3

Diana Michaels
06/15/2012 07:14

My best friend adopted both of her daughters from China. They were each about a year old when she finally brought them home. They're four and seven now, and bright, beautiful, happy and well adjusted. They've been told their own stories since they were very small and they feel proud of who they are. They don't know who their biological parents are but they do know that their parents honor their histories. this, I believe, has helped with their self accepance and confidence the most. I wish your family the best as you and your next baby find your way to each other. Adoption is a wonderful thing and a blessing for everyone in the family!

06/21/2012 07:01

Thank you for sharing this perspective! I can see how much Kaspar loves his story already, and I can imagine this is an important piece of any child's burgeoning self-understanding and self-acceptance. If/when we do adopt, I plan to tell that child his or her story with as much gusto as I tell Kaspar his! Thanks for the reminder that this matters. :-)

06/15/2012 11:01

I know I've talked about this before and I feel we are in the same boat. Before we had Jackson we wanted 1 or 2 kids back to back. We were so worried throughout the whole pregnancy and after 24 hrs of grueling labor we both looked at each other and said never again. LOL! Then when he turned one we reconsidered...we will probably have another but not for awhile. We wanted a break from sleepless nights and bottles. We agreed that we would discuss every year on his BDay if we want to start trying for number 2. Then when he turned 18 mths something just switched and I have been having baby cravings ever since. He is now approaching 22 mths. I had a talk with my hubby last night and we are still wavering. We both want another but not sure if now is the time. So I said I will be having to make my yearly gyno appt in Sept or Oct. Let's think about it and then decide at that time. It took us a year to get preggers the first time...so I'm thinking it may take as long or longer this time since I am in my 30s now. Or we could score on the first try! HA! So I want to be prepared. As I mentioned in another post we are moving in 2 yrs so if we are not prggers in the next yr we will have to hold off for 2 yrs. Ugh! Decisions!

Adoption is not an option for us right now. Maybe on down the road. But, I can't wait to hear what you all decide. So excited for your next adventure!

06/21/2012 07:02

Tough decisions, indeed, as it's only a little bit possible to have a say in the timing of babies, whether adopted or biological (you can basically decide when to start trying, and that's it!). I hope your next one doesn't keep you waiting too long, whenever you decide to dive in. Keep me posted!! Babies!!!

06/15/2012 17:18

I wish, wish, wish that adoption was an option for us. If it were, I would get off the infertility/miscarriage train that we are currently on in a heartbeat. But there are already three kids in our family (my husband has two from a previous marriage) and while my husband is fine with adding a fourth, he is not fine with adopting said fourth.
That said, it will be fun reading about your journey as you all go through it.

06/21/2012 07:05

I'm so sorry to hear you guys have been struggling with infertility and miscarriage-- hang in, mama! (Big hug). And if adoption really is appealing to you, do you think your hubs would be more game if he saw more positive family stories around adoption? Interesting that some men are reluctant to do this; I guess some women are too. These are all definitely very personal choices, no doubt, and as I wrote, it's clearly important to be honest with oneself (and one's partner) about one's true feelings around them. I wish you guys the best as you grow your family! -- xoxo.

06/20/2012 11:32

My fourth grade teacher had a duck named Goldie. It came from a fourth grade experiment where she had a class hatch eggs. Goldie imprinted on her and followed her around everywhere. Hatching an egg might be really cool for you and Kaspar!

Also, my friend bought a pregnancy test and the cashier asked her if she was hoping for a positive or negative test. Yeah. UGH.

06/21/2012 07:08

Yes! I would love to hatch a duck egg with Kaspar-- so cool. :-) Stories like this just make me pine HARD for a duckling. I told Aaron that I want a duckling, and only a duckling, for my birthday in November, so I might leave some info on duck eggs etc. out on his desktop in the meantime! (Subtle hints).

What's with the intrusive cashier questions??? I've firmly resolved that the next time I encounter weird behavior like this, I'm just going to look the person in the eye and calmly say "That's inappropriate", without trying to gloss it over or make it okay. I'm ready for you, rudeness. Bring it.

03/08/2014 02:38

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