Sharon’s Story – Part 3 – A Playmate for Patrick


By Sharon Munroe

Being first-time parents in late 2007, my husband Seamus and I learned a lot and fortunately were quick learners. I had never been around babies much, not as a babysitter or helping others with their babies as an adult. I was really busy with my career and travel. We did a crash course in baby care one Saturday at our hospital prior to our son’s Patrick’s birth and read some of the best books on the topic, including Dr. Ari Brown’s Baby 411. My husband knew more about baby care and was willing to take on diaper changes, many feedings with my pumped milk, and the majority of daycare runs. He was the oldest of 4 surviving children in his family. He has a superior long-term memory and knew what to do. He could soothe Patrick to sleep each night. Since he was four months old, Patrick has slept through the night without issue. This was a big achievement.

Though I traveled often for my job as a market research executive, I came home to my husband and son elated. (O.K. sometimes frustrated if the house was a mess and laundry had piled up), but both of them were doing well. This was working for us.

As we celebrated his first birthday with a picnic in the park in December 2008, Patrick was thriving. He was developing normally and meeting all of the major milestones, He was healthy, except for a number of ear infections.(I blame the day care germs and the fact that his middle ear wasn’t fully developed.) We were active: walking, hiking and traveling with our new bundle of joy most weekends. We called him perfectly portable Patrick (who slept in his Pack N’ Play).

I was now 41 years old with a beautiful son, husband, home, highly-paid job in my chosen career, and with supportive friends and family. I looked good (most people said I looked like I was in my early 30s then) and was fit, having lost my baby weight and felt very accomplished.

Should this have given me contentment? Yes. Ultimate happiness? Likely. That is unless you know me well and how I like to take to take on challenges. And no, since I miss my own sister dearly.

I wanted to replicate my success and give Patrick a permanent playmate – a sibling of his own.

Someone to grow old with and have shared experiences throughout his life. We knew, because of my age, we might have a challenge conceiving and were open to adopting a child. We strongly believe that there are many children in our own area that need loving parents and a forever family.

 

 

 

An important element in our choice to give Patrick a sibling was that I had grown up with a sister, 3.5 years younger than me. Karin was a carefree and sweet child, except when she was taking my Barbie dolls or coming into my childhood room unannounced. We were close during her teenage years, sharing music and she loved visiting me at college.

 

One day in late June 1991, I received a call from my father that I still find hard to believe. Karin and her boyfriend Bruce were found dead in the desert near Tuscon. She was 20 and attending the University of Arizona, the school she had worked hard to transfer to the semester before. A suspect was iidentified, then convicted the next year. He is serving 25 years to life in the state prison in rural Arizona and I no longer have my sister. I am an “only child” and have been since age 23.

Starting in the fall of 1991 I was able to grieve Karin’s loss with the support of family, co-workers, and the Sibling Survivors of Homicide Victims, part of the national Parents of Murdered Children. (Yes, this is a real organization with thousands of survivors of homicide.) The NY-area siblings who helped me in 1991-1993 continue to meet and support one another, providing tremendous help for the newly bereaved. They often talked about their experience of aging, and (omit and?) longing for their sibling, and wishing they had a chance to be a part of the present day and to meet their own children. I filed that in my deep memory and it surfaced again when Patrick turned one.

Fast forward to early 2009 and we began to talk about the potential for Patrick feeling lonely as a child and as an adult. Who would he play with if friends were busy with their own families? Our families live out of town. What if my husband and I weren’t there to see his children or grandchildren? (We are 41 and 48 years of age at the time.) Who would be there for him? We were coming up blank. We wanted to fill in that blank.

It was time to start trying to give Patrick a sibling and we’re grateful we did. It took a long time and we felt up against the clock. We dealt with secondary infertility, two miscarriages, a failed donor egg IVF procedure, a lengthy foster-to-adopt placement, and the conception of our second son, all within 24 months since the journey to give Patrick a sibling began.

We are proud that sibling bonds have formed. Patrick loves his soon-to-be-adopted toddler sister and infant biological brother. He proudly wears a “Big Brother” t-shirt, which I gave him. He loves his role and we love seeing him grow and thrive. We plan to be around for many years with our young family of 5.

Share your story.

Read Sharon’s other stories:  part 1 and part 2

Comments

  1. Tina Gonzalez says:

    Karin and I were planning on being room mates off campus at the U of A the fall of 1991. I still recall getting a phone call from your Dad about her untimely death. Almost 26 years later I still think about her daily. I’m so sorry for your loss. She was such a beautiful person inside and out.

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