Life Now – Twinning

Two months ago, my husband and I welcomed our second and third children into our family. To say that it’s been a whirlwind of an adventure would undoubtedly be an understatement. Our hearts are full, our family is complete. We’ve changed more diapers and cleaned more bottles than we ever imagined possible, and it’s only the beginning. Now, as I sit here on a stormy Friday night, with just a few days left of my maternity leave, I’m taking a few moments to share my thoughts on the past few months with the world. So if you’re interested, I invite you to read on. If the whole “mom blog” thing isn’t for you, no offense taken, we can still be friends. I do hope to continue the “school life” portion of my blog this year, so stay tuned. 🙂

#PregnantLife

I won’t go into details of how miserable the last few weeks of my pregnancy were, for a couple of reasons. 1) I’m not into complaining. (Don’t ask my husband if that’s true or not.) 2) I know people have way worse pregnancy experiences than the typical uncomfortable miserableness that occurs at the end of pregnancy, so I’ll count my blessings that I was never on bedrest, and I made it all the way to 35 weeks 6 days with twins. I’ll call that #twinning for sure. Anyway, if there’s one comment I’d like to make about pregnancy it would be this – if people treated everyone the way they treated pregnant women (in my experiences), the world would be a better place. Seriously. People were so kind to me, like, all the time. That’s one of the only things I’ll miss about being pregnant. I mean, yeah, it’s really great and special to feel those little aliens moving around in there, but people are just so darn nice to pregnant women. On a daily basis, so many people would smile at me (some out of pity), hold doors, make friendly conversation, and offer to help me with even the smallest of tasks. Many times these were complete strangers. It was very refreshing to see the very best in people when we seem to be living in a time when we oftentimes think, “What is this world coming to?” So, if I had a challenge for you, it would be this: Strive to be as kindhearted to people you encounter in your every day life, as you would be to someone 8 months pregnant with twins. The world couldn’t help but be a better place.

Labor and Delivery

I’ll spare you the entire story, but I will give you some highlights. It went a little like this:

I had been having contractions for a few weeks on and off, and until this point, they would typically go away after a few rounds. So, when I started having contractions at around 3:30 in the afternoon, it was nothing new. However, when I was still having contractions at 5:00 every five minutes, we decided I should probably call the doctor. Now, my previous birth experience was nothing like this. With our first daughter, I was induced in the evening of Day 1, sent home the morning of Day 2 because no progress was being made, labored all of Day 2, went back to the hospital, and she was born in the wee hours of the morning on Day 3. (Cue huge eye roll for that “fun” process.) So, fast forward three years when we left our house around 6:00 pm, and had TWO babies at 8:02 and 8:04 that same day, we were a little, um… well, stunned. It all happened so incredibly fast. It was a cesarian section, as our little boy was as transverse as transverse could be, and there was no way in God’s green earth that the doctors or myself wanted to try anything but a C-section. And so, our twin babies were born, as perfect as can be, at 35 weeks 6 days gestation. We knew there was a good chance that they would have to be taken to the NICU, at least for precautionary measures, so we were very prepared when they took them away. I got to see and hold both babies very briefly, but it sure was a different experience to have to wait two hours, when I was out of recovery, to go see my babies. Below is a picture of when I got to do just that. It’s a picture that I will cherish forever. Completely dazed, and in total awe of God’s miracles that I was holding.

first-pic

The NICU

Our baby girl was in the NICU for seven days, and our baby boy was there for ten days. NICU parents who are there for longer than that, you are saints, and I pray that God gives you the strength and faith you need to make it through. Those were some of the longest and hardest days this mama has experienced. Maybe even more deserving of sainthood than NICU parents are the NICU nurses. Our babies were in very good hands, and those men and women cared for our babies like their own. And you know what? They put this mama at ease, which is no easy task. Some of them even cut me some breaks. I was rooming in at the hospital, and if you know anything about rooming in, it’s not the easiest thing you’ve ever done, and it was definitely not my most favorite thing. I was up for 3 of the 4 nighttime feedings, which meant I was getting approximately 1 hour of sleep at a time, about three times a night. Some of those angel nurses let me skip a feeding and told me to get some rest, bless their souls. I got so attached to one nurse, that I cried when I knew we wouldn’t see her again. I told her, “Charlotte, I love you, and I would love to see you again, but at the same time, I’m so happy we won’t.” She got it.

The NICU is a wonderful place filled with wonderful people. But it also sucks. Now, I knew that our babies were going to be OK. There was never any doubt that they wouldn’t be. They just needed some help from the get-go so they could thrive once they left. For this, I was incredibly thankful. One day, my eyes filled with tears when I saw a couple walking down the hallway, with incredibly sad looks on their faces, and I just wanted to give them a hug, but instead said a little prayer for them and their little one. On another occasion, an alarm sounded, and everyone on deck went to Room 1, and I overheard a nurse ask another nurse, “Was that real?” to which the other nurse just nodded in response with a look of shock on her face. It gave me instant chills. You see, even though we were in the NICU, a place that NO parent wants to find themselves, there was a very bright light at the end of our tunnel. And even though those were the longest 10 days and nights we have experienced, I prayed so hard for the other families whose babies may not get to come home for a very long time. For the parents who couldn’t hold their babies. For the parents who might not get to take a baby home. If you have some extra prayers to give, you may give them to some NICU parents.

I want to acknowledge the strength my husband provided for the duration of our hospital stay. He is an amazing father and husband, and he was our rock during this trying time. He knew what I needed when I needed it, and I’m so grateful for him.

Here are a few photos from our stay in the NICU.

Mom Guilt

There’s no getting around it, I am an emotional person.  It’s weird – I see myself as mentally tough when handling day to day situations. I keep my cool, I keep my patience, rarely do I get mad, angry, or upset. But throw a heartbreaker of a movie in front of me, and the waterworks get turned on. It’s the same way with my children. When I think of how much I love them, or what I would do if something ever happened to them, you know, typical mom things, I completely lose it. I think the hardest part about being in the NICU with our twins, is that I couldn’t be a mom to our precious 3 year old. I missed her, and I could tell that she missed me. Throw postpartum hormones into the equation, and you have a hot mess express on your hands. Now, I will pat myself on the back, because out of the entire 10 days in the hospital, I really only lost it one of those ten days. (And boy did I lose it that day.) The source of my sadness? I just wanted to hang out with my 3 year old daughter. I wanted to hear her laugh, play with her, and just let her know how much I loved her, and let her know things would be “normal” again soon. But at the same time, I knew I was where I needed to be. Kids are stronger and more resilient than we oftentimes give them credit for, and minus a case of the hives she got due to stress, I have been overwhelmed with pride with how well our daughter has adapted to our new family dynamics. She’s a rock star, you guys. She loves being a big sister, and she adores her new siblings. She’s fun-loving, hilarious, and she has such a good heart. I hope that never changes. I’ve been telling her she’s not allowed to turn 4. “But Mommmyyyyy, I haveta turn 4 on my next birthdaayyyy.” Ok, ok. But not 5.

FOE

F.O.E. Family Over Everything. If there is one thing I have learned since the twins came home, is that my husband and I have absolutely, positively, the most incredibly supportive and helpful family. Ever. You guys, I don’t think there’s a chance in h-e-double hockey sticks that I would have my sanity if it weren’t for our families. In particular, my mom and my mother in law. Talk about two women who have sacrificed their day to day lives to help us out.  Wow – is all I can say. Since the twins have come home, there have only been a handful of days when one of the two aren’t here with me helping me out. Some of you might be thinking, “Wouldn’t you get tired of always having someone around?” Ummm, have you not been reading? We have newborn twins and a toddler in our house. I would probably let strangers in at this point if it meant I got to take a nap. Ok, but seriously, I cannot thank them enough. They’ve been our rock, our support, and THEY LET ME NAP. They do laundry, they cook, they help clean. No, you can’t have them. I claim them, and we are keeping them. I love you GG and Mimi, thank you for the sacrifices you make for us every day. Literally, every day. And thanks for letting me take naps. We couldn’t do this without you. (Again, literally, not metaphorically.) I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to put into words what these two women mean to me. I love you. Thank you. Thank you for loving us and for loving our kiddos. I hope someday they are able to realize with incredible clarity how important you are, and how blessed they are to have you.

Survival Mode

This particular phase of parenthood, the newborn phase, I feel is very similar for 99% of all parents. Whether it’s one baby, two babies, or God bless your soul, more than two babies,  the first 5 weeks are pure survival mode. It seems like all you do is feed babies, change diapers, try to get babies to stop crying, look how cute babies are, change diapers, get some snuggles, change diapers, and feed babies again. Newborns don’t give you a lot “in return” at this point in their lives. No smiles, no coos – just you doing your best to keep tiny humans alive. It’s a lot of long nights and a lot of Netflix watching to keep yourself awake. To put it simply, it’s a lot of work, and any downtime I had, I would – you guessed it – take a nap. Again, thanks moms. I also want to give a shout out to everyone who has brought the twins, our 3 year old, and my husband and myself a gift. I have a huge, long list of thank yous to be written. Please know that if you brought us a gift or a meal, I haven’t forgotten about you, nor am I unappreciative of what you have given us. But, naps have prevailed, and I’ll take that as a personal flaw on my part. Please know that “Write thank yous” is on my to-do list.  Here is a big THANK YOU all our friends who made and brought us dinners. I bet we didn’t have to cook our own dinner for close to 6 weeks after the twins were born. That was a game changer. We are so lucky to have such amazing people in our lives. Thank you, we love you.

Back To Work

So as I sit here, now one day before heading back to work, I’m overcome with mixed emotions. I can’t believe how fast ten weeks has gone since the babies were born. But, when you’re in survival mode, you kind of lose track of time.

The biggest emotion I feel before going back to work is sadness. I’m going to miss my days with my babies. Once school starts back up, life is pure craziness. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it can be easy to forget to slow down and enjoy the little moments. I’m anxious that I’ll be going so fast and furious that I will forget to cherish the special parts of motherhood, and that I will more so focus on the parts that make you feel like you’re losing your mind. This is not meant to be a political post by any means, but I do feel like as one of the most developed countries in the world, we could have a better system for maternity and paternity leave as a nation. Twelve weeks of unpaid leave time seems kind of like we got jipped compared to what some other nations offer new mothers and fathers. But, again, I’m not one for complaining, so off to work I go, because mommy and daddy are about to put three kids in daycare. Enough said.

On the other hand, I love what I do, so in no time at all, I’ll get back into the groove. I’m excited to be back at work, at a job that I love, with people that I truly enjoy. As much as I have loved my maternity leave, and wish it was longer, I know I don’t have what it takes to be a stay at home mom. I love my career (no, not more than my children), and I feel very fortunate to be able to work in a profession that brings such joy and fulfillment into my life. It’s hard to be a working mom, there are sacrifices made daily, but for our family, it’s the right thing. It’s also hard to be a stay at home mom, a work from home mom, or anything in between. Being a mom is hard work.  So to moms everywhere – keep doing you, keep fighting the good fight and raising good humans. Lord knows we need more good humans in this world.

And there you have it. The nuts and bolts of our story up to this point. If you hung in there for this entire blog, thanks for reading! I’m not sure if our lives are interesting enough to warrant a blog, but I do enjoy being able to document my reflections, so our children can read them some day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go soak up some snuggles on my last day of leave. xoxo

twin

 

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We’re Expecting…TWINS!

I’m not sure how many loyal followers I have out there, but a few of you may have noticed that my blogs seemed to have really thinned out the past few months. Rest assured, it’s not purely due to laziness…purely. Nor is it completely due to the craziness of my schedule, nor lack of material to write about. It has more to do with the complete and total exhaustion that comes with being pregnant – with twins. The kind of tired that leaves you out of breath going down the stairs. Yes, you read that right. Someone said it best to me the other day – there’s really no kind of tired like pregnant tired. And I will have to agree with that. Trust me – I’ve been all sorts of tired in my life: I just played 5 softball games in 100 degree heat tired. I was up all night studying, took finals and played a basketball game that night tired. Two-a-days tired. Cry all night tired. Work 18 hour days tired. Up all night with a sick kid and then work an 18 hour day tired — And none of those are quite the same as pregnant tired. I’m not trying to take anything away from the other kinds of tired – but for me, these little miracles take every ounce of energy I have. Please don’t get me wrong – we are completely blessed in every way possible, and I’m not complaining – I wouldn’t trade this exhaustion for the world. I’m simply explaining that rather than blog at 8:00 at night, I’ve either been in bed for thirty minutes, getting that oh-so-precious sleep that I crave every minute of the day, or I’m getting home late from work, and heading straight to my pillow. On these nights, I’ve had several ideas of what I want to blog about next, but before I can get my ideas down on paper, I’m sound asleep until my lovely alarm comes a-calling at 5 in the morning.  So on this three day Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, I’ll take a little bit of time to write about what’s been going on. Now, if you’re interested, I’ll take you through our journey to twins.

Heavy Hearts

Early last year, my husband and I endured a difficulty that too many couples are all too familiar with. We discovered 6 weeks into my pregnancy that I had miscarried. The baby that we were preparing to meet in 9 months would not be. This was one of the hardest things we’ve been through as a couple. I know that at only 6 weeks along, we maybe shouldn’t have had our hopes up like we did. I also know that people endure fertility journeys much more difficult than ours, as many of our family and friends have been through things I would never wish upon anybody, and I often pray for their healing and success in their journeys. I also know that the most probable cause for the miscarriage was that the baby itself was not compatible with life. And, I also know that we have been blessed with an amazing child already, so I should take comfort in that. I know all of this, yet in that moment, our hearts were broken. Going through a miscarriage is hard. One, for the obvious reasons, but two, how do you deal with it? Do you tell people? Do you keep it to yourself? How long is the right amount of time until you’re “ok?”  It’s such a taboo topic, that you can oftentimes feel alone, and let’s be honest, it’s not a real enjoyable thing to talk about. So here I was, a few days later, with a forced smile on my face, and I headed back to work. My thought process was that sitting around at home wasn’t going to make me feel any better, so I may as well get back to a job I enjoy, and at the very least, get my mind off of the events of the past few days. Was it too soon? Maybe, but I was happy with my choice, and before I knew it, I was back in the groove.  Don’t get me wrong – this fall when our baby-to-be would have been born, I felt the sting come back, but with a strong faith in God to get us through, healing came to us once again, and we were stronger than ever.

Shock and Awe

So, as you can probably imagine, when we found out we were pregnant in November, we were over the moon excited. Let me re-phrase that. We were cautiously over the moon excited. Even with the miscarriage earlier in the year, it’s hard not to jump for joy when you get the good news, right?! So, I went to my doctor, the pregnancy was confirmed, and just to be on the safe side and to give us peace of mind, she scheduled a sonogram for me ASAP. So here I was, six weeks along, and on my way to the doctor to find out if the pregnancy looked like a viable one. I tried to keep it very low-key for my husband and me. In fact, I told him to stay home for the sonogram – that I’d call him afterwards with either good or bad news. It’s weird – I felt like the lower key I was about the pregnancy, the less of a chance I had to jinx it. (Because that’s something that actually happens, right?)

Ok, before I continue on with the story, let me take a brief time-out for some family history. My mom is an identical twin. My dad is a fraternal twin. So when someone asks if twins run in my family, I just kind of giggle and say, “You could say that.” So it would be an accurate assumption to think that throughout our marriage, my husband and I have joked around about the idea of having twins.

Moving right along. When I went in for that six week sonogram, I was nervous. Really nervous. It had been so clear at this point in the pregnancy last time that something was wrong. Would we see the same thing this time? Would it be hard to tell if everything was ok?  The questions were nagging at me, even until the moment when I saw them. It was kind of simultaneous. The sonogram technician was telling me at the exact time what I knew I was seeing on the screen. Two sacs. Two babies. Well, little rice like things that had heart beats. They were babies. Our babies. Two of them. And they looked fabulous, from a medical standpoint. Insert a myriad of emotions. Pure happiness. So excited. Panic. Money. Panic. Happiness. Oh my gosh, the money. Happiness. Blessed. Three kids in daycare. Excited. Panic. Happy. Oh geeze, my husband isn’t here, I told him to stay home. I laughed. What else was there to do? This was the most amazing news ever, but you could accurately say, we were in a little bit of shock. You see, we had agreed that we would be done having children after our second was born. Oh how God laughed at us for trying to make our own plans, and I’m so happy He did.

Waiting For July

So here we are, three sonograms later, 12 weeks along, and the babies look great! It’s funny. Even with the “shock” and “panic” that come along with the idea of two babies at one time, if something were to happen during our pregnancy to one of them, we would be completely heart broken all over again. We’re very aware that even though the first trimester is over, something crazy and out of our control could happen. But for now, we take comfort that our prayers have been answered, and we look forward to and welcome the fun times and challenges that lie ahead of us. The first 12 weeks of this pregnancy have been no walk in the park, but I welcome trimester 2 and 3 with open arms, and although the thought of being 9 months pregnant with twins in the middle of the summer makes me sweat, even in this subzero winter weather, I’ve never been more excited for July in my life. Prayers for a healthy and full term pregnancy are always welcomed and appreciated from all. Thank you to all of our family and friends who have already shown such amazing support. We love you all!

Best,
Megan