Hartly and I are very close. He is 2 1/2 and has spent the majority of everyday by my side. Oh we have playdates and tumbling class. Hartly has taken swimming lessons on and off since he was 6 months old. Hartly is around his cousins and my friends and his neighborhood buddies often... But, for the most part, Hartly is attached to my hip, and has been, since birth. Frank works from home and spends many afternoons going out to lunch with us. Frank and Hartly go to a Parent-and-me Language class, at least, once a week. The three of us have traveled together and spend loads of time together.
It is because of this that I was a smidge nervous about what bringing in another person into the mix would do to our little unit. Frank and I always have known that we would have more than one child. There was never a doubt. Still, change, even desired change, can be nerve-wracking.
When Frank and I were contacted about a "match" (adoption lingo for when a Birth Mother chooses your family to place her child), we were excited, hopeful, anxious, and nervous. We weren't sure when to tell Hartly because there are extra elements involved when one decides to adopt... a whole other person that could change their mind at any time. Plus there is that whole thing with the strangeness and relativity of time and how a toddler views it...
Did I mention Hartly and I are close? We chat a lot. We are both pretty verbal people and I am open and honest with him. It works best for us. Hartly knew, before we were matched, that he would, one day, have a younger brother or sister. He also has known for a while, that babies grow in ladies bodies. In adition, he knew that his brother or sister would be growing in someone else's body, not mine. Frank and I began our adoption process when Hartly was just 6 months old. Hartly knows he grew in my body but that his brother or sister would not. He accepted this and asked no further questions.
When we went to meet our future baby's birth mother, Hartly was there. He saw that she was pregnant. He asked about it. I told him. Forget Frank and me coming up with a plan of how or where or when. Hartly asked, I told. The countdown began.
|A sticker a day until Hart's baby brother's Due Date|
On the morning our baby was born we got a call very early. He was 3 weeks early so we were only half packed. We scrambled to get everything together and then we woke up Hartly. Finally the day had arrived. We, literally, bought our airplane tickets in the car on the way to the airport.
|Hartly was woken up very early and minutes later in our car|
|Moments after Tayo and I met for 1st time|
|Family of 4|
Tayo had to stay in the hospital till Sunday afternoon. Since he was so itty bitty he had borderline jaundice and low temperature (sweet little boy couldn't get warm) but all was in healthy zone by Sunday. Before Sunday I spent many hours in Tayo's Birth Mother's room - holding him and feeding and changing him. Poor Hartly and Frank spent ALL of Saturday and much of Sunday in bed at the hotel. When Tayo decided to arrive both Hart and Frank were on the tail end of being sick... I guess all of the excitement and (good) stress caused their weakened immune systems to get full blown sick. Hartly had 102 :( They had to stay far away from Taye. And, sadly, I had to stay away from them so as not to get sick myself or to pass on the germs.
From the hospital we headed to our friend's house. She was letting us crash there (while she stayed at her boyfriend/my good friend's house) until our lawyers gave us the go ahead to travel with Tayo across state lines. The first few days were rough with, basically, just me taking care of Tayo because of my two sickies... but once the worst of it passed, Hartly became attached to Tayo. Everywhere Tayo went, Hartly followed. At first I thought this was because he wanted to be close to me... nope. If I put Tayo down and went to go sit with Hart, Hart would get up and move closer to Tayo. If Tayo was in my arms, Hartly would ask for me to put him in his arms. If Hartly was sitting next to Tayo but Tayo's head was facing other way, Hartly would move over to other side of Tayo or ask me to flip him around. Hartly wanted to feed him and sing to him if he was crying. Hartly wanted to put his face right up to Tayo's face. I would overhear him whispering, "Baby brother, I love you" (a phrase I know hear, at least, 7 xs a day). He even asked me to help him "share"/place his beloved trains all over Tayo because he thought Tayo would like them. In the first two weeks of Tayo's life, spent in Louisiana, Hartly spent the majority of his day with Tayo or talking about Tayo. He wanted Tayo to sleep in his room with him saying he would sing to him if he woke up crying. Hartly loved his brother from the first moment he laid eyes on him.
|in hospital feeding Tayo 1st time|
|feeding Taye in our Louisiana "home"|
|Hartly often kisses Tayo on forehead when feeding him|
|When recovering from being sick Hartly only allowed to cuddle after showers|
|Hartly showered a lot|
|Nothing better than holding a baby, huh Hartly!?|
|Nose to nose|
|Checking out Tayo's tiny little fingers and chatting with him|
|taking a break from playing to come and pat Tayo|
|Hartly pleased with his sharing his trains|
|Hart asked me to put Tayo in his arms while he was playing on kindle|
|Hartly drew a sunset for Tayo on our first day back|
|loves holding Tayo|
|First day back and Hartly asked if Tayo could share his bed with him|
|My sweet, sweet boys|
|Hartly takes breaks from playing to come check on and snuggle with Tayo often|
I knew Frank and I would instantly love Tayo. I never worried about that. We fell in love with him from his first sonogram. But I never expected Hart to be in love so completely, so fast. Tayo is his baby brother and he adores him. Hartly may miss having me all to himself but he does not blame Tayo. It's still early in this game of life but no matter what is to pass, it blows my mind how deeply and unconditionally Hartly feels for his baby brother. And even when others are holding Tayo, Hartly always goes over to kiss or snuggle his brother.
|making sure Ba-Pa is doing a good job feeding his brother|
|see his arm draped over Tayo, constantly!|
|kissing Tayo's itty-bitty toes|
|checking in with his brother while Jinky is giving cuddles|
|Lexi and hartly discussing how absolutely adorable Tayo is|
|Checking out Tayo while David holds him|
|Just caressing his little head while his buddy Iain gets a turn holding him|
What is equally surprising and amazing is Tayo's love for Hartly so immediately. Tayo may be itty bitty but my boy is no bump on a log. Tayo knows Hartly's voice and will open his eyes more for Hart than for anyone else (my little man sleeps A LOT... except around 3am... but that is another blog). When Tayo is fussy and Hartly sings to him, he doesn't always calm down but, more times than not, he does. Tayo smiles more when Hartly is around and he coos for Hartly. Seriously. He literally says, "cooo" when Hartly is whispering or snuggling with him. Forget that Tayo is just shy of being one month, this little tiny soul knows who is brother is and he already adores him.
I know that there are disagreements, tears, and fights in their future with each other. I am realistic that everyday won't be sunshine and rainbows. I expect this. It would be strange if it were otherwise. But I also know that I have an amazing little family full of love, joy and amazing memories that will be made! It's already begun...