Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Price of Parenthood

I've been thinking about the price of parenthood lately, both in terms of actual dollar and cents costs as well as emotional. There is someplace web sight or organization or such that calculates the cost of raising a child over the cost of their lifetime factoring in things like shoes, clothes, sports dues, college, etc. I don't remember the exact number but remember it being pretty high like heading up to a million dollars. I wonder what they would do with situations like mine. If you count the actual dollar and cents just to conceive (DE/DS IVF cycle via an agency) and bring baby home costs (with the extended NICU stay), Ray and Nora have already cost a fortune and will just keep adding on over the next few months. We will just leave out the child care costs anticipated for the first year which I had me operating in the red.

Hospital stays in general and NICU stays in particular are expensive. Very expensive. Thank God for a good job with good benefits and good insurance with yearly caps on dollar amounts owed. My insurance isn't as great as it was a few years ago and changes they have made over the last few years are more in their favor than mine, but still the insurance I have is still really good and will make it all manageable for me from a financial perspective. My portion of financial responsibility will be a drop in the bucket compared to the total cost of care. It will pinch and add pressure for sure, but will not put me over the edge.

The birth of one child is emotional enough. I remember getting weepy after Max and just sitting bawling because he had jaundice, needed daily blood draws, and was on bili lights. The early birth of two children with a long NICU stay brings the term emotions to an all new level. The thoughts of going home without them killing me inside and tears of dread and sadness. Yet, the incredible tears of joy when the night nurse let me hold the feeding syringe and let me "feed" Ray last night on the other side of the emotional scale at the same time. As I learned from having Max, being a parent is an emotional roller coaster at the best of times. As I'm learning from the twins already, it is more than exponential leap.

I find myself thinking, I can't wait until xyz....where xyz may be having us all at home or getting a family portrait (or at least attempting to) or yelling at the kids for doing some normal kid stuff that just had to be done. As I keep thinking of the next few months as just something to get through, I realize the entire pregnancy I have been thinking that the few months are just something to be endured, the first year something to be survived. It's something I've been guilty of in the past and need to remind myself not to "wish my life away". I need to ground myself and appreciate the todays today as well. As hard as today and tomorrow and the tomorrows after that may be, they are meant to be lived with all the emotion that goes with living them, not something to endure.

Just as I had to learn to parent Max based on the child he was and is, I realized last night I'm just going to have to redefine my picture (and dream) of early parenting of the twins. Parenting doesn't just mean cuddling our new born to your breast in the early days and bonding. For the twins, it is going to look a whole lot different and just quietly sitting singing and talking to them (no matter how stupid or awkward I feel) or holding their feeding tube or changing their little itty bitty diaper or whatever else that will be to come. I'll adjust and get better and more confident. I'm already much more so today than I as even just a few days ago.

I'm sure I'm rambling at this point and want to get on with eating and pumping and showering and going to go see those babes or mine and already feeling so sleep deprived and tired, but my point in all of this is that despite the monetary and emotional toll or maybe that is because of it, it is all, as the commercial says, "priceless".

On this fathers day where I'm in a family situation of being both mother and father to three children, it all feels a bit surreal at the moment. It also feels like I finally have my family and it is complete. Yes, still in a bit of a disjointed disconnected way since we are not all home together, but complete none the less. And, while I'm not ready to leave without my babies, I'm ready to be home figuring out the new normal.


Laura in L.A. said...

"Figuring out the new normal." :):) Love that, Deb. I know very few people who are more appreciative of what they have in this life, at all levels, than you are. No one treasures their kids more, and no one will fight harder to work all of this out.

I have every confidence that Christmas 2008 is going to bring us a picture of the entire Zeits family at home, having a rollicking good time!

Love and prayers to all of you.

Love, Laura

Cindy said...

Beautiful post. Can't wait until this is all over for you also. Soon you will be saying, "I can't believe they are coming home! I'm not ready!" LOL! Seems like every NICU parent feels that anxiety when they are getting ready to take their little ones home.

I can only imagine the constant hustle and bustle 3 kids will bring to your home. Keep focusing on that and know that it will happen. You all just have to get over this hurdle. Hang in there!

Laura in L.A. said...

Let me clarify-- by Christmas 2008 I think the twins will have been home for over four months and will be big and fat and sassy!


Love, Laura :):):)