This post is dedicated to Tom.
It's about how much he's given me so I could become a Mom.
And how through this process he's become an Amazing Dad.
I'm going to start kind of at the beginning, the beginning of when we first began our journey of trying to become parents. Many, many, many years ago.
Back then Tom already had the makings of being a great dad, but I don't think he knew it. He was actually okay if we decided not to have kids, but he knew how much I wanted to be a mom and he wanted me to be happy, so we decided to go for it. After a long year of things not happening according to my plan, a lot of frustrations and times of feeling down, Tom put a Bob Dylan CD in my car for me to listen to on my way to work. It's a song I absolutely love, and listening to it still brings tears to my eyes.
'I can make you happy make your dreams come true, nothing that I wouldn't do. Go to the ends of the Earth for you, to make you feel my love'.
Tom didn't know it then, but he was on his way to becoming a GREAT father. He was there for me through each up and each down (and there were a lot of downs), and he did whatever he could to make more ups happen for us. He still does that sort of thing now, which I think is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their kids -- to show their children how much mommy and daddy mean to each other.
Tom went through a lot during our 'trying to have a baby' stage (a stage that lasted many years) and did a lot of things many men wouldn't do.
Tom held my hand through lots and lots of appointments and procedures.
He held my hand through lots and lots of disappointments.
We spent a lot of money, and he never once made me feel bad or guilty, or asked me to reconsider my decision.
He spent a lot of time at doctor's offices, he learned how to give BIG shots and not make them hurt that much. He made sure I still remembered how to laugh, even during sad times. He kept me moving forward.
After our first loss Tom realized how much he wanted to be a Dad.
Tom stood by me through all the craziness of infertility, all the highs and lows, all the extra (not so fun) hormones, all the waiting time, all of the different procedures and all of the many negative pregnancy tests.
He was always willing to try again, or to try a different approach.
When I found out I was pregnant (this time with Ella and Zoe), Tom had planned in advance to take the day off from work (not an easy task at the company he works for), so we could be together if we got another negative result OR (fingers crossed) a positive.
We got the positive and started celebrating. Cautiously.
When I started bleeding at 6 weeks (at 11pm) we spent that long night together and braced ourselves for more bad news. We were beside ourselves when we saw not one, but TWO hearts beating strongly on the ultrasound screen. We were going to have TWINS!!
Then at almost 12 weeks there was more bleeding, and that's when we found out Baby A's placenta (Ella) was starting to detach.
Tom learned all that he could about this sort of thing. He was realistic but stayed positive. He helped me stay positive. And he took care of me, the babies growing inside of me and everything else that needed to be done. For 8 weeks I was either in bed or on the sofa -- Tom had to do it all. And he did.
During those long 8 weeks Tom brought me to my doctor's appointments, at first every other day, and then eventually 2-3 times a week. He worked long hours at work, came home and made sure everything that needed to be taken care of at home was taken care of.
He brought me Burger King cheeseburgers and Wendy's chocolate Frosty's.
He held my hand at each ultrasound appointment to see how Ella was doing. And he didn't say a thing about all the stuff I was buying online for the babies while on bedrest.
Even though it was a difficult pregnancy, and a scary one, I was in bliss -- I was finally pregnant and with TWO babies. Tom did so much to keep me happy, and he got to know the babies. Each night he would rub lotion on my 'getting bigger everyday belly', talk with the babies and be amazed by how much they moved around my tummy.
At 24 weeks preterm labor started. Tom was by my side with each hospitalization and with each shot to stop the contractions. During that time he put together Baby A and Baby B's nursery and hand painted two little heart-shaped clouds, one for each girl.
During this time he also told me how great I looked, even though I had gained over 60 pounds, and he obliged my request not to tell me the number on the scale every time I had to be weighed.
Tom did not paint the mural -- he did paint the sky, clouds and grass.
I was only 28 weeks pregnant in this photo.
He spent each night I was in the hospital (3 different stays over a 5 week period) in the hospital with me, sleeping on the little chair that supposedly became a bed when unfolded. He kept our house picked up and learned the difference between 'boy clean' and 'girl clean' (thanks so much for that one, Sarah).
At 29 weeks 6 days Tom learned how to use our new camera in just minutes when we heard it was time to meet the babies. He stayed calm for me so I would stay calm. He only left my side when the anesthesiologist gave me my spinal (hospital policy -- I have no idea why) and quietly, calmly cheered me on during the weird feeling c-section.
During the organized chaos in the surgical suite (with over 20 doctors and nurses present) Tom filmed the birth of Ella Marie and the birth of Zoe Dianne -- he also filmed the floor and the ceiling quite a bit too. At one point he said 'oh boy', as clear as a bell, and a few minutes later one of the nurses congratulated us on our new baby girl and baby boy. When it was clarified that both were indeed girls she said she thought she heard someone say 'boy'. That still makes me laugh.
Tom was a very proud daddy walking beside the two huge incubators with his two itsy-bitsy daughters tucked safely inside, as they headed to the neonatal-intensive care unit (NICU).
*Ella on the top and Zoe on the bottom*
I don't think Tom slept more than a few hours that first full week, going back and forth between the NICU and my room. It took me five days to recuperate from hemoragging (I was given four seperate transfusions of blood that first night) and the effects of HELLP Syndrome. The magnesium I was on during that time left me feeling really out of sorts and Tom did so much to help me get through all of that, and to keep me updated on how things were going with the girls. He took pictures for me to have in my room and told me how much I was going to love Ella and Zoe's NICU nurses (I did and still do). He changed their first diapers, supported my slow-going efforts to pump breast milk and eagerly delivered each drop to the NICU. He was by my side when Becca (one of our amazing NICU nurses) snuck Ella (in her incubator, wires and all), into my room so I could at least hold one of my babies for a short bit. He was by my side when they wheeled me to the NICU for the first time on a bed because I wasn't healthy enough for even a wheelchair, and he was by my side on Day 5 when I finally felt well enough to go to the NICU in a wheelchair and hold both my daughters for the first time.
Ella and Zoe were born early, but apparently at just the right time -- their time. They were tiny but did well for such little ones. They were fighters and wound up spending 47 (Zoe) and 57 (Ella) days in the NICU, facing and beating their own challenges -- with their dad at their side, each step of the way.
*Zoe on the top and Ella on the bottom*
We had Ella home from the NICU only a few days when Tom celebrated his FIRST Father's Day. Sleep deprived but so complete.
It's been three years now -- unbelievable. Tom has continued to put our needs first and do things to make the girls and me happy. He works long hours so I can be home with Ella and Zoe, and his long days are often full of 'not-so-fun' things, while I get to fill our days with lots of fun things. And he never makes me feel bad that I got the better end of that deal (overall -- the crying and whining can bring me to my knees at times, but to not be a part of that would be so much harder).
The time Tom spends with Zoe and Ella is very focused. He's a completely hands-on, in-the-moment dad. They love helping him, playing with him, listening to him read stories, showing him their projects, helping him with his projects and just spending time with him. They know how much they are loved, every day. They literally think their dad can 'touch the moon' (he hung a model of the moon up in their bedroom, I'm too short to reach it but Tom can), and I'm sure they just assume he hung the real moon up in the sky, just for them, too.
Many, many, many years ago Tom was fine if we decided not to have kids -- now he's an amazing dad of two amazing kids. And he's still a great husband and my best friend. He continues to do things so I will be happy and the girls will be happy.
As for the Dylan song: 'I can make you happy make your dreams come true . . . ', yup, he's continuing to do that.
Love you Tom -- hope you're having a Fantastic Father's Day #4!!
XXOO Jeremi (and Ella & Zoe)
This is the song Ella and Zoe sang to Tom this morning -- I'll try and get it on video later. I get to take credit for writing it : )
(sung to 'Happy Birthday)
Happy Father's Day to Tom,
You are not our Mom.
You are our Dad,
and that makes us feel glad.