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On Parenting: James’s Story

Cystic Fibrosis Canada will be profiling different journeys of fertility and parenting with CF. If you are interested in sharing your story please email tgillespie@cysticfibrosis.ca.


As I write this article, watching the Oilers play the Kings on a Tuesday evening along with my older son, it occurs to me to share what’s happening around me this evening. It’ll give you perspective on what my life is like right now.

This morning, my wife and I got things together to send our 4 kids out the door. Two of them are our older son and daughter, 16 and 14, and two of them are 5-year old brother and sister fraternal twins.

You read that right. We have 4 kids under 18. And until they got home today from school, all was fairly peaceful. Mommy was home sick, and I spent some time running errands for my company with some time to spare.

When everyone got home, the twins immediately wanted to play their favorite game on mommy’s phone – Plants vs. Zombies. Screams and pouts ensued as turns did not happen as desired. Twin boy has a meltdown and is forced outside to play with Dad, throws granola bar because it doesn’t look right, tries to steal another one, is denied – more wails of indignation.

It’s about 4:45pm at this point. Time is now moving very slowly.

My older son, 14, wanted to play darts in the garage. He beat me for the third straight time. I’m happy for him – even if I secretly wanted to plant a dart in his rear end – then, happy for him again. He got lucky.

My older daughter, 16, went out the door to dance practice, driving herself as she has done since she got her license right after her birthday. Independent and driven, she has two babysitting jobs lined up for the weekend, as well as working as a respite worker for children with special needs.

She is also prone to the teenage disease of lastminutitis. She’ll grow out of it – just in time, probably. She comes by it honestly enough – I was supposed to have this blog draft in for review last week.

Later, a supper of ribs and broccoli bake that tastes great but is generally rejected by all members under 18 (as usual) and replaced by various snacks pilfered from the pantry. More granola bars grabbed by twins and more yelling at mommy to pay attention to them.

I think it’s about 6:30pm now it’s a bit foggy, really, to be sure (in my head, not outside!). My older son is anticipating the Oilers game at 8:30, as we almost never miss one on TV. Mainly because there is no way in hell we can afford tickets. We saw Roger’s Place on the public opening and did an Oil Kings game. They are Oilers super-lite. We will see Def Leppard in June, though.

Skip forward to 8:30pm. The game is starting, our older daughter came back home, and the twins are nowhere near sleeping. Twin boy has found Nintendo DSi of other brother and is taking pictures and howling when he is interrupted. Twin girl is getting sleepy after helping clean bathroom wall with baby wipes – on purpose.

Eventually, after 9pm, twins finally get tired of making everyone else tired and fall asleep – one twin in her own bed, the other next to Mommy.  She gratefully takes the chance to fall asleep, too.

If it sounds like I haven’t done a lot during all this, that’s because when Mommy is home, I become non-existent to the twins. They spend all their time tracking her every move, and if I get in the way things get ugly. So, I get to watch and occasionally participate. My wife is the toughest and most patient person I’ve ever met.

So, at this moment at 10:36pm, the Oilers are losing 4-3 to LA, my son is not a happy camper, my oldest daughter is grabbing a snack in the kitchen, and everyone else is asleep. I’m typing this with a pretty glazed expression on my face.

This, by the way, is a very typical day in our household for the past, oh, year or so.

It occurs to me that, as an article relating to fertility and CF, this might read as me trying to scare the crap out of all of you. And, indeed, it is occasionally scary to consider that we have gone through quite a journey to bring these four people into the world – and that does not count our other son, who died in utero, which is a whole other story unto itself.

The point of this story is simple. Having kids is only the first step – and for us, that is a HUGE first step to take before even starting the marathon of parenthood. Megan Parker’s article on her advice on preparing for parenthood is outstanding and I’d say read it for advice on that area. It will be very helpful – men or women – as you consider starting your fertility journey.

So, be forewarned. If it works, the journey is just starting. And it’s long, and really tiring, and life-changing. If it isn’t, you’re doing it wrong. And you’ll do lots of things wrong. It’s OK, keep going.

For us, doing what everyone else seems to be able to do without thinking – being ordinary – is an extraordinary achievement. Celebrate those things as they happen. Keep in mind how remarkable it is to be in this position.  And that you want your kids so much, you’re willing to do things that would make ordinary people hide in fear.

Be brave. Celebrate the bravery. Be extraordinary to just be ordinary. That’s the only way you’ll find out.

Because when you’re sitting with your Oilers fan son and the Kings just scored to go up 5-3 in the third and he’s mad, it’s pretty helpful to realize how amazing it is that it’s happening at all.

Go, Oilers, go.