Have you ever received a call late at night? It’s like that moment in Moonstruck when Cher and her father wake up Olympia Dukakis in the middle of the night and she says, calmly, “Who’s dead?” There was no death on the other end of the phone this time, just the voice of our social worker. “Are you guys ready for another baby?” Her tone seemed a little frantic. “I’ve got a 9-week-old boy and you can come pick him up right now.” That’s how baby A.J. (Ajax James) entered our lives. At 9:00 p.m. we were a family of three, and by 10:00 p.m., we were four.
This call wasn’t wholly unexpected: We were looking to adopt another baby. But from our past experience, it usually involves meeting a mother, a few months preparation, and getting used to the idea of a newborn. This situation, falling outside the norm, saw us being handed a 16-pound 9-week-old baby at a time I’m usually watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. As I drove to the social worker’s house to pick him up, my husband was busy pulling baby toys out of the garage, only guided by the light from his iPhone.
I know a lot of you have multiple children. And I have such immense respect for you. When we only had our Harper, I thought adding an extra baby to the family wouldn’t be too hard, something like adding a new dog to the house. But man, was I wrong. Having two children, a 21-month-old and a 4-month-old, can be difficult. Sometimes border-line impossible. I am officially the stay-at-home dad. And as an only child myself, I am continually learning the art of patience and endurance.
I was walking around Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago, one baby in a stroller, the other strapped to my chest, in 90 degree heat, taking in some of the touristy sites from a city I used to live in. You would be amazed at the amount of support I received from complete strangers – “Great job!” “You go dad!” “You put 99 percent of men to shame.” I’ll grant you, it was a feat to ferry those babies around town that day, but it was my new normal. And while I love a good compliment, I felt like answering back, “I don’t know how this happened!”
But I do know how it happened. We received a call on July 1st. And we said yes. My husband says it’s like I was pregnant but didn’t tell him. We just woke up one day and, bam, there was a bouncing baby boy lounging in a bassinet. Two months later, we’re finally adjusting. The impulse to say yes when someone calls and offers you a baby can be strong. And we’re firm believers that everything happens for a reason. But the next time the phone rings at night in my house, it’s going straight to voicemail. After running around with these babies all day, I’ll be asleep.