Sunday, April 13, 2014

Guest Blogger- Shannon

It has been a while since we have had a mommy interview so I am really excited to introduce our newest CF mother, Shannon! Shannon is from the blog, CF Happens which details her life as a wife, as a future author, a CF fighter, and a bonus mom to teenagers! I may some tips from her in about 12 years!!

Everyone that has CF seems to have a very different experience. Share a little but about your CF story or how CF affects you.  
I was diagnosed at 5 months old.  I didn't start needing IVs, "tune-ups" and hospital stays until I was 13 years old.  I am on IVs about 3-5 times a year.  Some years are better than others.  I have am very stubborn so that helps me push through at times.  My motto is "never give up."  I don't want to fail and let CF win so I push the limits.  I want to do all that I can right now because I know there will come a time that I am unable to do them.  I don't want to say "I wished I did_____."  I would rather say, "I did the best I could and got to experience a lot."

Tell me a little about the term bonus mom you use to describe your role as a parent.
We came up with the term bonus mom because step mom's in all the stories and movies are usually evil and mean and I am not.  We said bonus because that is what I am in the kids life, a bonus to the 2 parents they already have.

Tell us a little about your bonus kids and family dynamics.
My bonus kids are great!  I love them as though I gave birth to them.  I would do anything for them.  We have 1 graduating high school next month and going off to the college and going into theater which she loves very much.  Our youngest is turning 14 next month and going into 9th grade next school year.  He loves sports, anything sports.  Our family flows well as a whole unit.  We each have our roles and jobs to make it run smooth.  We have taught our kids that you have to do your part in the family to contribute, it is not all 1 persons job to take care of the house while the others do nothing.  We try our best to teach life lessons whenever possible because we want them to be able to survive in the real world when they are out of our house.  We are a team, no one is left alone. 

Falling in love and starting a new life with someone is a big change! Add kids to the mix and it is even more complicated. How was the adjustment going from single to an instant family of 4?
My husband and I grew up in the same town and went  to the same school.  We have known each other for 15+ years.  We both married other people, got divorced and reconnected after many years via Myspace of all places. haha  He was in Korea at the time, he is in the Air Force.  When talked while he was there and when he got home we went on a date and that was the beginning of forever!  I didn't meet the kids for a few months and when I did, I was dad's "friend" not girlfriend.  We were very respectful of the kids because it is hard enough when your parents are divorced but when one of your parents starts dating it can be devastating.  We slowly did things as a group with the kids as friends.  We didn't want to throw me in their life if we didn't know if it was forever or not.  Once we knew my husband asked the kids for their thoughts on us being boyfriend/girlfriend before we made it official.  They were fine with it so then it was official.  We were very careful when it came to the kids.  I always wanted to be a mom but I didn't know it was going to come this way.  I am very thankful and blessed for these kids.  I have been around kids all my life so going from single to family of 4 wasn't that big of an adjustment except for learning where I fit.  I am not their mom and never will be but I am their step/bonus mom and I take that very seriously and am very proud of that.  We just had to find the balance from when the kids were with us and when they were with their mom.  We have a good system after all these years.  It has been 7 years that I have been in their life.  I am very blessed that I get to be a part of raising them to be loving, caring, law abiding, thriving adults.

How did you explain CF to your bonus kids? How did they take it?
We explained CF to them this... I cough a lot, that's just what I do.  I have to go into the hospital sometimes and do medicine at home to make me better because the pills and liquid like you take don't work.  I have to do breathing treatments to help me breathe good.  It didn't even phase them.  They liked sitting next to me while I did my vest so they could fell the vest.  They liked to help me get my stuff ready for treatments and IVs.  Now that they are older they don't even notice or think about it.  When their friends come over and I'm doing a treatment my bonus son will say, "oh she has CF, she has to do these to help her, it's nothing big."  He then is on his way to play x-box or outside to play.

As the kids got older did your discussions of CF change? Do they share concerns or worries surrounding the severity of CF?  
We don't really talk about it, but they know that they can talk about it whenever they want.  As they got older it has become just like washing the dishes, it's something I/you have to do.  We have had some heart to hearts about CF and what it means.  They know that I am here and not going anywhere for a long while.  They know that it will get worse as I get older.  My bonus son told me once that I couldn't die until he got married and that he will never get married.  Well played child, well played.  We are a very open family and talk about anything so whenever fears or concerns come up they ask or talk about it.

Does CF ever seem to get in the way of your role as bonus mom? If so, how?  
It does when I am in the hospital and can't do the normal running around that I do for them.  I hate being in the hospital and missing life with them.  There are times when I am at home on IVs and not feeling well that I have to take more breaks and am not able to do as much.  They know that physical things are limited because I start coughing and get out of breath and have to stop.  With that said, I usually push the limits and do more than I maybe should because I don't want to miss out on anything.

In the book you are writing you talk about getting your tubes tied so you will not have any children of your own. What made you decide to take this step?  
We chose to get my tubes tied because my lung function was not what it used to be.  If I were to get pregnant it would possibly take a toll on my body that I may not be able to bounce back from.  I tried getting pregnant with my ex husband and it didn't take.  If I had gotten pregnant when I was younger it would have been a different story.  We just made the choice to hopefully avoid any problems in the future.  Once I had my bonus kids I was happy.  Of course I have second guessed my decision and thought that I could have done it, which I probably could, but we didn't want to risk it.  We talked about adoption, but decided that we are very happy and content with our 2.

What would your advice be to other CF moms or dads that are about to embark on the journey of being a bonus parent?  
My advice would be to take it slow and integrate the kids slowly or integrate yourself slowly.  It can be a scary adventure but it is very much worth it.  Maybe I am spoiled in the sense that my bonus kids and myself get along great and there is no hate.  It could be like you see in the movies where the step parent hates the children or the children hate the step parent and they make each others lives miserable.  Luckily that is not the case for us and I am so thankful for that.  Kids aren't dumb they know more than we give them credit for.  They know when mom or dad have a new "friend."  Just speak to them with respect to show them how they need to respect you.  Respect is a 2 way road even with kids and parents.  I would say jump in and love the journey.  There will defiantly be bumps in the road and lots of ups and downs but it is worth being able to love a child and for them to have another loving parent.  There is never too many people to love a child if you ask me.

To read the stories of ten other women with CF and their journeys with CF and pregnancy/motherhood please click here.

If you are a CF mother (though adoption, step children, surrogacy, fostering) or are CF and pregnant and want to share your story e-mail me at inhalinghopecf(at)

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