• The Micro Cleaner

    Date: 2015.06.25 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Me, Sarah | Response: 2

    There’s no getting around it, I’m a messy person. I try, bless my heart (can I bless my own heart?) but with four kids and two dogs, things rapidly spin out of control and I often lack the time and energy to set it to rights again. And when I do, the Sarah-Norah tornado isn’t far behind to wreck havoc all over again. We manage to keep the dishes clean and we have clean clothes – though I don’t think the girls have a single pair of socks that match. I admit that when I finally get both twins asleep, the last thing I want to do is pick up the mop or tackle a bathroom.

    Sarah is also very messy, often dumping barely worn clothes all over the floor and leaving trails of dress up shoes strung across the house for unwitting victims to step on and skate across the floor. I’ll admit she probably gets that messiness from me, but she also does this weird micro cleaning thing. For example, the bathroom counter is covered in all her bows and the band aids she has dumped everywhere, but she will get a baby wipe and meticulously clean the sink knobs, drawer handles and edge of the bath tub until it’s to her liking.

    When I tell her to clean, she insists she likes the mess, but then will have q-tips out detailing the rims of her Barbie carriage. Or when we go in the backyard, she will jack up her Cozy Coupe and “work under the hood,” dipping paper towels in water and giving it a scrub down.

    I often catch her doing her weird cleaning and feel ashamed. For instance a couple of days ago she had wipes out and was cleaning the toothpaste out of my sink. I felt guilty and set about cleaning my whole bathroom as a result.

    But then there are times I don’t see her cleaning and later find the disaster she inadvertently leaves behind. Twice now the girls’ bathroom sink stopped draining. After several attempts to clean it out from the top without success, Mark had to get out the wrench and take the sink apart. The first time he pulled out tons of dirty q-tips shoved down the drain. The second time, it was a bunch of wadded up toilet paper. The sink’s drain, it seems, is the appropriate place to dispose of your cleaning materials once you are done wiping down the sink spout or the cabinets.

    I’m not sure what it is about these little details that draw her to clean, and I’m not complaining, I just need to figure out how to get her to transfer that micro cleaning to macro cleaning. Maybe I should start with myself first. Yesterday, when I did decide to take on the whole bathroom, Sarah immediately jumped in with her paper towels and set about wiping down the cabinets while I Windexed mirrors and took down soap scum. Now that I think about it, she is probably motivating me to clean more than the other way around.

    I am constantly in awe of people who manage to keep a clean house constantly, especially if they have small children. And maybe one day we will get there, but in a year’s time I will have two toddlers and things aren’t looking great. Any tips for cleaning house with lots of little ones afoot? And is it even worth it?

  • The Middle Child

    Date: 2015.06.16 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Me, Norah, Toddler Time, Whoops | Response: 2

    Mark and I will readily admit, as first born children, that we did not fully understand the plight of the middle child.

    Of course you always hear how middle children are treated differently: they are overlooked, ignored or given harsher punishments and as a result they act out and do crazy things to nab that so-longed-for attention.

    I didn’t think we would struggle with any of those things with Norah. Prior to the arrival of our twins, Norah was our love bear. She loves to snuggle, sit in our laps and love on her silky blankies. Our oldest and first born, ever the independent stereotype, wanted nothing to do with any of those things and so we especially loved cuddling our Norah Bean.We thought her loving demeanor would transfer over perfectly into mothering the new babies.

    Wrong. WRONG.

    I should have known things would be tough when she started getting very daring near the end of the pregnancy. She put her climbing skills to the test often, and we were constantly after her to “get down,” or “stop doing that,” or “spit it out.”

    On one fateful night, she climbed up to the top of the bunk bed stairs, cartwheeled off the top and hit the floor, knocking herself unconscious. She stopped breathing for about 30 seconds and her eyes rolled back in her head and she started convulsing. Those were the worst 30 seconds of my entire life as I did everything I could to bring her back while panicking. Sarah, feeding off my energy and witness to the whole thing, also started panicking. After beating on her back several times, she took in a gasp and came back to us. We went to the ER where they did a CT scan and reassured us that her minor concussion was nothing to worry about.

    I was traumatized. Sarah was traumatized. So much so that I couldn’t talk about it for a while. Together Sarah and I kept an eye on her climbing, Sarah tattling when Norah would start to get into something she wasn’t supposed to. Norah was pissed off that she had a security detail on her at all times, and began to make a game out of going where she wasn’t supposed to.

    And then poor Norah was completely thrown off with the arrival of her twin siblings.

    All those loving feelings I had dreamed of? Ha! Once we brought the twins home Norah started her campaign to hurt the twins whenever she got a chance. She would scratch their heads, hit their heads, pinch their feet, pull their skin… it was a nightmare! We sought out our pediatrician’s advice in desperation. She suggested time out, which we were already doing, and making a concerted effort to spend one-on-one time with her. We did. And when we did she was so happy, but with four small children it’s impossible to give her all the attention she wants. Still though, that is slowly getting better and just these past two weeks she’s been dolling out kisses instead of pinches to the babies.

    There have been many other attention seeking behaviors. Everything from unrolling entire rolls of toilet paper  and getting her legs stuck between the crib bars to covering herself from hair to toes in Vaseline. All of those, fortunately, have been relatively minor. So I should have known something big was brewing.

    Friday night their grandparents offered to keep the big girls overnight so we could get some much needed rest. While there, in the blink of an eye, Norah  fell off the bed, hit a nightstand and split her lip open. And I’m talking about all the way open until we could see the inside of it. I wasn’t there to witness it, but Sarah was and it sent her into a panic attack. The injury was horrible. Enough to make me light headed and nauseous. Back to the ER we went. We were so fortunate that the place was nearly empty when we arrived though, and they got us back in short order. They had to consciously sedate her this time, which, let me tell you, is super freaky to see your baby with eyes wide open, staring at nothing, laying still while they stitch her back up. I couldn’t watch, but Mark held her hand the whole time as the doctor lined her lip back up and gave her five stitches.

    I was so upset that my little thumb sucker wouldn’t be able to self soothe or eat. Ha! She sure showed me. She was sucking her thumb by the time we put her to bed that same night and ate like a champ the next morning.

    We took her for a follow up appointment this morning. Even her pediatrician cringed when she saw her lip, but  all is healing up like it is supposed to and she is going to be just fine. Even in the pediatrician’s office she took a nose dive in the hallway and hit the floor. My poor clumsy kid takes after her mother and, it seems, is due for a lifetime of upsetting her parents and sister and injuring herself.

    Despite all that though, Norah certainly has a certain sparkle that draws people to her. Maybe it’s her cheesy grin, or the way that she snuggles up to people she just met, but people meet her and love her instantly. Now, if only we can get her to play up that part of her personality to gain attention instead of all that other crazy behavior.

    My poor, sweet middle child. I hope she realizes how much we really do love her despite bringing two more babies home.

  • Two at Two Months

    Date: 2015.06.15 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Twins, Vera | Response: 2

    Hey! We made it another month!

    Our little babies are growing like crazy these days, and while Vera is still our little teeny tiny, Luke has taken off and is quite the little chunk!

    Both babies are locking in on us now and love to stare at us when we talk to them. They also enjoy looking at lamps and fans and bright shirts. And, to my great excitement, Luke even gave us his first real smile a few days ago and has continued to every day since then! Vera is still holding out on the smiles, but we are going to be annoying with her until she shows us that gummy grin.

    Both babies are also holding their heads up now, doing push ups off our chests until they are bobbing their little heads around to take it all in.

    I’m pretty sure V is going to be blue eyed, but we aren’t sure on Luke yet (I’m still hoping for one brown eyed baby!).

    One thing that I find funny with twins is how their dispositions tend to keep switching. Vera used to be our calm, laid back night time sleeper, and now we struggle to get her to go to sleep every night while her brother conks out. And while the struggle to go to sleep is now tough, I am so very happy that they have been going right back to sleep after their 1 am feeding: something we were really battling with.

    On an personal note, I’ve found that listening to audiobooks during the middle of the night feeding really helps me mentally get through it night after night. It’s an escape, something I do for myself and it makes the time fly by!

    At this point I’ve also gotten to be a pro at tandem nursing, which is good because both babies have synced up their feeding schedules and it saves us a lot of time, allowing for more sleep (though tandem feeding in public is impossible still).

    Both babies have very distinct cries: Luke is loud and honks like a goose and Vera is a quieter little constant wail. Mark and I both know who’s crying when we hear them in another room.

    At two months Luke loves tummy time and Vera absolutely hates it. We try to rotate them around to different forms of entertainment throughout the day, but V hates almost all of it except for the swing, which keeps dying after about 5 minutes, causing her to start fussing again.

    Both babies love the car and the stroller. One day recently, when both babies wouldn’t stop crying for a couple hours, I had enough and loaded them up in the van and they, Sarah and I went to Target to get groceries and stroll around. And it worked… until we got back home again.

    Two months, to me,  is always on the cusp of when things start to get really fun. I can’t wait for them to start smiling more and giggling and cooing… and sleeping through the night. But even that is starting to improve, too.

    We go for a check up tomorrow (complete with shots and weight checks). I always hate the dreaded first shots. Praying it goes smoothly.

    Happy two months Vera and Luke!

  • Third Time’s the Charm

    Date: 2015.06.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Love, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Vera | Response: 4

    I remember being pregnant with Sarah, my first baby, and anxiously anticipating maternity leave: an imagined heavenly time off where I would snuggle with my baby and have plenty of time to do things like paint my house, clean, cook and lounge around. You can imagine my shock after I delivered her when, after hours upon end of nursing, changing diapers, burping and soothing, all I wanted to do was spend any spare moment I had in bed and asleep. And then there was the terrible post partum anxiety that made it nearly impossible to leave my own house or get much of that sleep I so desperately wanted. Before I knew it the 12 weeks had slipped by and I was sobbing as I dropped my first born off at daycare and headed back into work.

    With my second baby, I knew better. I was prepared to rest and heal, nurse constantly and attempt to parent two small children. I thought that I knew what to expect after Sarah. Wrong again. Hello that evil word that we longer speak in our house lest, like Voldemort, it decides to resurface from the dead and drive us to a mental institution.  (hint: it begins with a “c” and ends with “olic”). Night after night our second baby screamed from 9pm to 3am, keeping Mark and I awake with her constant fussing. We would finally get her to sleep, only to lay her down and have her wake up screaming again… over and over and over. Fortunately we were able to continue to send Sarah to daycare so I could get a couple hours of sleep during the day. Despite that I still hobbled along on a total of 3-4 hours of sleep per night/day while I continued to work while I was on “leave” from the house. The colic finally finally went away one week prior to me going back to work full time and by that time I was so sleep deprived I’m kind of amazed I was able to accomplish anything.

    This time, I was again steeling myself. I know better than to expect anything, especially with twins, but I did pray every day that lightning wouldn’t strike twice and we could at least avoid that evil c-word. Twins are hard, of course they are. One infant is tough, two infants… well let’s just say I’m constantly juggling their needs, the needs of my two other children, and time with my husband, all while trying to keep my head on straight. My days pass by so quickly in a haze of nursing two babies, patting, burping, easing the cries and trying to entertain my 4-year-old who is out of school for the summer.

    And while we had a scare with night time screams, it turned out to be something we could manage with gripe water and I heaved a huge sigh of relief. However, getting up with two babies at night means I’m up twice as long during a nursing session, and when both babies won’t go back to sleep it’s enough to make me run and hide my head under the pillow, or shake my husband awake so we can spend hours together patting fussy babies while we watch re-runs of yard crashers while saying, “Want to switch babies?” It’s no wonder the days and weeks are absolutely flying by.

    People often ask me how we’re doing these days, and without hesitation, I say, “Exhausted, but it’s getting better.” The big girls are struggling to get our attention in all different ways, both good and bad. Norah has taken to attacking the babies if we aren’t paying attention to her, and when she gets in trouble she immediately tries to kiss them or us to make up for bad behavior. Sarah, while usually fantastic with them, is constantly in their faces, waking them up and decorating them with costumes.

    Mark and I have become expert jugglers. We often laugh about the two of us bathing Sarah together back when she was an only child. Now we ask, “which two do you want to bathe tonight?” We are experts at loading all four of them into the van and getting back out again. And the twins, even though they are little, just have to go along for the ride wherever we go. They have already been to two of Sarah’s school performances and a bunch of birthday parties. They don’t seem to mind too much though.

    Our lives are all about efficiency and balance and love. Each night we do take time, individually, with Sarah and with Norah to read books and snuggle and let them know how very special they are to us and how much we love them.

    I’m not going to lie, our rough days are really rough. My sister came over to help one night and I think we scared her away from ever wanting children of her own. But our good moments are really good too. Just today when both babies were screaming, Sarah asked to hold Vera and rocked her to sleep while I managed Luke. And, I have to say, it was one of the sweetest moments of my life.

    So yes, we’re surviving, we’re exhausted, but we’re doing ok at this family of six thing.

  • One Month

    Date: 2015.05.14 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Twins, Vera | Response: 2

    One month is truly a celebration for all of us. We have survived! We have thrived! We are exhausted.

    One thing I didn’t experience with my single pregnancies was how worrisome and difficult it would be to get our babies back up to birth weight after their initial normal weight loss. This month has been a struggle and put my strength of will and determination to breastfeed to the test. Breastfeeding is hard with a single baby, but with twins the word hard doesn’t quite cut it. Toss in premature babies, one of whom is a lazy eater and the other who wouldn’t latch for a while, and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it.

    But, guess what? Together, the three of us are doing very well with it now at the one month mark! Vera is latching and Luke is slowly being weaned off his supplement and getting everything he needs from nursing!

    At one month out, we are very nearly back at birth weight, shy by just a few ounces each (Vera was 5lbs 10oz and Luke was 7lbs 60z at birth). And both babies are getting very long.

    As we round out the end of this month, both Luke and Vera are starting to hold their heads up.

    Luke, ever my lazy boy, takes things at a snail’s pace, but we are learning how he works. He has to get really grumpy and angry before he will eat well, for example.

    Vera is a determined little thing and has much more patience than her brother, who gets angry and red when he is not being held or sleeping.

    Vera also loves to look around and take in the world around her. Both babies enjoy looking at lights and are starting to be awake more in the day time hours.

    Sleep is another battle we are continuing to fight. I think, perhaps, the best piece of advice I’ve been given as a multiple mama is that when one wakes up at night, wake the other one up. Over the course of the past few days, the babies are finally starting to sync and get on a nighttime schedule, allowing me to sleep 2-3 hours in a stretch. I’m still exhausted of course, but the predictability is easier on my body and makes for better days and nights.

    Luke struggles with hiccups after feedings, which can make nights miserable when they keep him from falling back asleep. Without fail he’s always my first to wake and demand to eat and takes the longest to eat and get full.

    At this point we think Luke looks just like a boy Sarah and Vera is favoring my husband’s side of the family strongly, especially Mark’s sister.

    While both babies enjoy napping together sometimes during the day, due to reflux problems, we have them sleeping in separate Rock and Plays to keep their heads elevated. Both babies love their beds though and seem to sleep the most soundly when they are there.

    We have been working hard on establishing a schedule and routine with cues so babies know when it’s night and when it’s day. I think sometimes following the routine is tougher on me than them, but like all things that take hard work and persistence, it seems to be paying off.

    The big girls are slowly adjusting, Sarah much more quickly than Norah, but I think that whole topic deserves a post to itself.

    Really, I’m just so proud and yet so humbled by this past month. We are so happy, but so tired. I can’t believe a month has blown by already.

    People often tell us they don’t know how we’re doing it, and truthfully I don’t really know how we are either. We have had such an amazing village of people helping us, praying for us and feeding us, and I think that has been our biggest blessing. We are in survival mode, but we do still have small slices of time to take a breath and smile. We are making it.

    Happy one month Vera and Luke!

  • My Tiny Yellow Baby

    Date: 2015.04.26 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Twins, Vera | Response: 5

    Day 1 in the hospital, for all the chaos with Luke being whisked away, turned out ok in the end. We had him in our arms by the end of the day and both babies were nursing and happy to snuggle together.

    Day 2 though, Vera started acting strange. Suddenly, my tiny, feisty little baby no longer wanted to latch or nurse, despite her first successful day in doing so. I tried not to let it bother me too much at first, after all, newborns are lethargic and it just happens that way sometimes. But the hours went on with no luck and I began to worry.

    I had successfully exclusively breastfed Sarah and Norah for a year each and figured that this time would be like the past two times. I wrote off the lactation consultants when the first offered their help – I was a pro now after all. And Luke was just like Norah, he latched the first time like he had been doing it for months and ate with an appetite that suited his big size. Vera though, was just giving up all interest in even trying to eat. She started losing weight and turning yellow and I knew her jaundice numbers would be creeping up.

    I finally cast away my pride and called for the lactation consultants. I was fully expecting to know everything they had to tell me already, but I was in for a pleasant surprise. Both women were absolutely amazing. They comforted me and gave me hope, taught me new techniques for helping baby learn to feed, and together we began to work on Vera. For two solid days they would come in my room and work with us both patiently. They reassured me that this was fairly normal with smaller babies and that she would come around. And although we had a few successful feedings, they were not enough as her weight continued to drop.

    Our pediatrician came to visit and she was worried. We talked about options and there was a strong possibility that Vera would have to be admitted to the hospital after we were all released. I had one more day in the hospital covered by insurance, so she suggested we stay and work even harder – waking her up and force feeding every one to two hours. With the help of the consultants, I pumped and we began to force feed her with syringes. I remember sitting with one of the consultants, crying as I watched my little girl struggle to swallow what we were forcing down her. Angela, the consultant, was so positive and kept me focused, so proud of the work I was doing, how much I was already able to pump and how I was handling my babies.

    By the time discharge day came, our pediatrician showed up and said the numbers had slowed enough that she was comfortable with Vera going home with us that evening, but we had to bring her to the pediatrician’s clinic first thing the next morning. I remember as we were getting ready to leave, crying and hugging the lactation consultant. I may have taken her by surprise, but she really sustained me through those tough couple of days and I don’t know what I would have done without her.

    The next day at the pediatrician’s office, Vera had dropped weight again, bringing her original 5lb 10oz weight down to 4lbs 12oz. Her Bilirubin numbers were creeping up too. By that point any milk we could get down her, she was throwing right back up. After asking us some questions, her pediatrician determined she had reflux and immediately started her on medication to help. My poor, sad, little yellow baby was breaking my heart.

    Our doctor gave us one more day. It was the “make or break” period for a hospital stay. We started the medicine that night and baby girl managed to keep all of her food down!

    On Saturday morning we showed up to the clinic, prepared for whichever doctor was on call to check our girl’s numbers. To our great surprise though, we learned that our pediatrician had come up to the office on her day off just to see us that morning. Vera’s weight had finally stabilized – no gain, but no loss. We had a talk about why Vera was at a high risk with her jaundice (being pre-term, losing weight, etc) and what our plan of action would be based on her lab results that day. We went home and waited for the phone call. That afternoon, our pediatrician called us directly to tell us Vera’s bili numbers had also stabilized (going neither up nor down), and that we wouldn’t be checking her into the hospital that evening after all. With a great sigh of relief, we powered through the rest of the weekend, laying her out in the sun, giving her medicine, feeding her constantly and doing everything we could to naturally heal our baby.

    We were back on Monday and to our huge and great relief, our tiny little pixie had gained an ounce and her bili number was down two points! The scary period was mostly over and we were allowed to go home with instructions to spend more time in the sun and continue frequent feedings.

    In the days since then, our mighty little warrior princess has rallied. She has suddenly decided that she likes to nurse after all, and we’ve been able to put aside the syringe feedings completely. She now eats with a fierceness that puts her much larger brother to shame. I have watched over the past few days as her cheeks have filled in and we can no longer see her tiny rib cage through her skin. Her yellow tinge is fading and her eyes actually look white now. She cries out for food on her 1-2 hour schedule and makes no complaints unless we don’t feed her quickly enough.

    I’m so proud of my little girl for fighting with us, coming around and allowing us to avoid a hospital stay. Hopefully her numbers on Tuesday will reflect all our hard work. Three cheers for Vera!

  • The Twins: A Birth Story

    Date: 2015.04.22 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Health, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy, Sarah, Twins | Response: 2

    Most twins don’t make it to term for delivery. The mother’s body runs out of room, or her uterus gets too big and gets confused and labors early, or or or… So many things in twin pregnancies mean an early delivery, which is why when we found out we were expecting two babies, we immediately had to start seeing a high risk OB in addition to our regular OB.

    I quickly learned that I was one of the lucky ones. I was tall, relatively young and in good health and my babies were fraternal, not sharing a placenta. We monitored them as the weeks went on and watched as our Baby B got bigger and bigger. He was above average in size, while his sister paced along hitting her slightly below average milestones. Baby B was also awash in fluid, swimming in what Mark dubbed his “pent house.” As the time grew closer, they recommended that we deliver between 36 and 37 weeks.

    I was huge, very uncomfortable and often in a lot of pain, but I really wanted to make it to 37 weeks for the health of the babies. My regular OB agreed that we could try for 37 weeks and we tentatively scheduled their delivery date for April 13, right on the nose of 37 weeks. I hoped and prayed we would make it. My OB was going out of town the whole week before and she and I have been through a lot together. I really wanted her to be the one who delivered them.

    My body though, started to get other ideas. At 36 weeks I started having regular contractions. I was monitored and eventually put on medicine to slow the contractions. Over the course of the week I battled the contractions and several times we nearly went to the hospital when they got strong and regular. But, by a lot of prayers and miracles, we made it to 37 weeks and showed up for our scheduled c-section. When they hooked me up to the monitors upon our arrival at the hospital, I was having contractions every 5-7 minutes. It was baby day whether we wanted it to be or not, which eased my guilt about scheduling their delivery too soon.

    I was nervous about the c-section, despite my previous one. There’s something so creepy about being awake during surgery. I had a great anesthesiologist though, and he really attended to me and how I felt. Because there was so much weight and pressure on my body with two near-term babies, their placentas and all the extra fluid in my body, when I was on the operating table, they had to keep rotating the table side to side to keep me from passing out. The spinal block was particularly tough this time. It made me feel so sick and I just wanted to quit and not do it once it was started, but, as these things go, I had no choice. I tried to control the shakes and nausea and was so happy when Mark was finally allowed into the OR.

    The surgery itself was quick. The same doctor team who delivered Norah was there to deliver our twins. Mark even video recorded this delivery (and without much gore!) so I could watch our babies be delivered later.

    Our girl, Vera Margaret, was head down and delivered first. She arrived into the world with a squeaky little scream and weighed in at 5 pounds and 10 ounces. Her brother, Luke Anthony, was not so accommodating. He was lodged up high in the right side of my ribs and breech. It took one doctor pulling on his feet and another shoving him from the top of my ribs to get him out. My doctor knocked the breath out of me in the process, but as soon as he was out, I could breathe again. His cry was much more gurgly, and I barely got to see him before they whisked him away. Mark followed and recorded them being weighed and cleaned up for me while I was being stitched up. Luke weighed in at a whopping 7lbs and 6oz – huge for a twin or even a singleton, especially at 37 weeks! As my pediatrician said, he was stealing all her groceries.

    They quickly discovered that Luke was having trouble “transitioning.” They put both babies skin-to-skin on me, but when Luke’s oxygen levels wouldn’t regulate, he had to be whisked away to the nursery and put under an oxygen hood.

    My tiny Vera was right as rain though, and got to stay with me.

    It was hard not having my son with me that first day. It was very surreal – after all it had always just been me and one baby girl after delivery before and there I was again in the same situation. I missed him though, bone deep. I don’t know what I would have done without his sister to hold on to and keep me stable. The nursery was great though and called down every hour or so to give me updates. My family and husband went to the nursery regularly to check on him, and bring me pictures and updates. Our pediatrician even texted me photos of him.

    We went through a “wait and see” period with him all day. Finally and miraculously, that evening they were able to bring him to me.

    Vera is a petite little pixie with huge eyes. We got to spend a whole day bonding together, just the two of us, mostly skin to skin.

    Luke was a big boy who seemed to favor his mother in looks and was (and still is) most content in his mama’s arms.

    The thing that was most spectacular about having twins was watching them together. They shared a bassinet in the hospital, and when one would get inconsolable, we could lay them next to the other and they would immediately quiet down.

    And Sarah was so keen on meeting her new siblings that she faked an ear infection and pain at school, had the front office call me in the hospital and got out of after school play practice. When mom picked her up and asked her about her ear, she informed mom that it really didn’t hurt that bad after all, it was just was a little warm. When she got to the hospital, I still only had Vera with me, and Sarah was so concerned and kept asking me where her brother was. She was (and still is) so so so good to her siblings. She climbed into bed with Vera and me, snuggled up to her sister and said, “Oh, you’re so cute like an itty bitty unicorn.”

    And she immediately did the same with her brother when we finally got to have him in our room.

    Norah, however, did not know what to think about mom holding a new baby. She wouldn’t come anywhere near me until I handed Vera off to someone else, then she immediately climbed into bed with me and held on for dear life.

    Mark was a champ throughout the whole day. He stayed strong, watched after our Luke man and took care of all of us despite battling off a sinus infection and having to sleep on that awful hospital couch.

    And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how amazing the hospital staff was that day and every day we were there. Everyone from the doctors and nurses to the team who worked and checked on Luke to the lactation consultants made everything so much easier and less stressful.

    The rest of our hospital stay was kind of crazy, especially as Vera started to run into her own set of troubles, but that’s a story for another post.

    Their birthday was eventful, and sometimes scary, but beautiful in its own right. I am so very thankful that we were able to make it to 37 weeks, a milestone most twin moms don’t get to reach, and that we got to have them with us in our hospital room most of the time. Happy birthday my sweet sweet Vera and Luke.

  • The Night Before

    Date: 2015.04.13 | Category: Family, Food, Friends, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah, Twins | Response: 6

    This is it: the last day before our twins arrive.

    I am a huge whirl of emotions that range from extremely excited to positively terrified. How am I going to do this?

    Today was not what I imagined it would be. In my head, I pictured my last day as a family of four, snuggled up with my kids, playing games with them, sitting outside while they played as the four of us basked in our last calm and peaceful day together before the babies arrived.

    The reality was… well it wasn’t that.

    The girls know something is up and they were acting out. Sarah literally clung to my body all day. If I dozed off on the couch, she would jump on my legs or back immediately to get my attention. If I tried to maneuver myself off the couch, she would clutch onto my arm with a death grip and hold me down. I love to snuggle with my kids, but this all consuming clingy thing was overstimulating. Everything on my body hurts, from my hips and back to my skin and hair. Just touching me was enough to make me want to scream.

    Norah woke up in a terror. She was screaming for “”PANCAKE! PANCAKE!” from the moment she woke up. She clung to her daddy, hovering between his legs while he attempted to make the requested pancakes, our traditional weekend breakfast. She did cheer up some after she ate, but was still into everything: yanking cups full of water off tables, throwing her cup and smashing her sister’s toe, crying over having her diaper changed. Time out, our go-to miracle worker, had absolutely no effect on her today.

    Oh, and did I mention that Mark has a sinus infection on top of all of this? He had to go to Quick Care with fever yesterday morning, where they promptly gave him antibiotic and steroid shots, the latter of which kept him up all night last night. And of course I don’t really sleep anymore either. So we were both exhausted and cranky and generally feeling bad.

    By 10am, I was frazzled. We were all sitting on the floor in Sarah’s room and I was trying to pack the girls’ bags for their grandparents’ houses. The girls were more interested in ignoring everything I said and making their big mess into a giant mess. It was overwhelming. How could I possibly handle four children when I was barely keeping it together with two? I had to leave the room freak out and ugly cry for about 30 minutes.

    Shortly after that, my friend Kelly came over and brought communion. I don’t think she was expecting to walk in and see me in tears, but she hugged me and immediately started consoling me. By the grace of God, the girls let the three adults pray together and receive the host without interuption. Immediately I relaxed and so did Mark. It was truly what we needed in that moment.

    After Kelly left, we fed the kids, got Norah down for a nap and Mark got a chance to rest while Sarah and I colored My Little Ponies together, just the two of us, for almost an hour. Then Mark and I traded out and he got to spend the next 45 minutes building Legos with her, enjoying the one-on-one time. About the time Norah woke up from a nap, Nana showed up to get Sarah. We said our goodbyes to her, then got to spend some quality and happy one-on-one time with Norah. She loved dancing and clapping with us. My mom came to collect her a short time later, and she was thrilled to go with her Mimi.

    My sisters came over around 4:30 and put in a solid two hours of cleaning my house for me and provided some much needed conversation and distraction. My friend Stephanie showed up with two lasagnas for our freezer and big hugs and well wishes.

    After they left, Mark and I decided Mexican food sounded excellent, so we picked it up, brought it home and got to have an entire conversation uninterrupted in a quiet house – an unexpected date night that we desperately needed.

    And now here we are. It’s 9pm and we have to be at the hospital at 5am. I didn’t know if we’d make it to goal day. I had three days this past week with regular contractions that had to be stopped by medication. It’s had me on pins and needles, adding an additional level of anxiety. But, by the grace of God, we have somehow made it to goal day.

    I have had so many people call, text and message me to check on me today and tell me they are praying for and thinking about us tomorrow, and that has meant more to me than anything. I’ve done this c-section thing before, but I’m still extremely anxious about it. I worry about the babies and hope their lungs are developed enough and we don’t have to go to the NICU. I pray that everything will be perfect. How many twin moms are lucky enough to make it to 37 weeks? Most are not. Even at the OB’s office I started getting cheers and proud congratulations every time I made it to another appointment.

    We are here. We are at the finish line. It doesn’t seem real, but my body says otherwise.

    I am so excited. I am so worried. I am so happy. I am so anxious.

    We can do this. We will do this. This is it. Whew.

    We appreciate all your love and support throughout this whole pregnancy, especially through delivery tomorrow. Please pray for the three of us, or really the six of us. We all need your love and positive support now and over the coming months. It’s going to be wild and it’s going to be wonderful.

  • Happy Fourth Birthday Sarah!

    Date: 2015.04.11 | Category: Birthday, Life, Sarah | Response: 1

    Oh my dear, sweet FOUR-year-old Sarah girl,

    Typing that line was enough to make me tear up. How did we get here already?

    Over the past year, your personality has truly blossomed. You went from a shy, quiet girl, to one bursting with life and plenty of drama. I think pre-school has been good for you. You’ve made so many new friends and your intelligence has started to shine through. You can now write all of your letters, though you still get frustrated with “S, N and W.” You can write your name, both forwards and backwards. You know what sounds your letters make and love to ask mom and dad which letters different words begin with.

    You have a knack for remembering the most arcane and specific details about books, movies and even gifts. Just today you were drinking out of a cup and looked up at me and said, “Mama, this is the cup Mimi gave me for Valentine’s Day.”

    You are very smart, yes, but it’s watching you use your imagination that touches my heart the most.

    You can sit for an hour stretch with your My Little Ponies in front you, building elaborate castles for them and their princesses out of blocks, making them all talk to each other in turn. You love to draw and color, creating masterpieces of your family, friends, seasons and elephants out of crayons. You always works so diligently and are very specific in your color choices.

    You love to perform, primarily singing songs you made up yourself while dressed in costumes you picked and performing ballet steps that you must have seen somewhere, because you’re pretty dang good. You always want all the grown ups’ attention and get frustrated sometimes when we talk to each other, get on the phone or spend time with your sister, but you mean well.

    At four you have a heart of gold. Yesterday, as I was trying to rest up for the soon-to-be delivery of your twin siblings, you informed me that you were going to be my mama that day. You then quickly tucked me in to the bottom bunk of your bed, brought me a stuffed animal, dimmed the lights and read me books before telling me to go to sleep and you would make me feel better. Guess what? You totally did.

    Your little sister can be so mischievous, but you tolerate her well. Instead of getting angry and hitting her when she makes you mad, you give her a tight hug and tell her to “Stop that Bean!,”  though you do love it when she gets in trouble.

    You are tough and independent and love to boss people around, most of whom are happy to do your bidding much to mommy’s dismay. Sometimes we have to correct you, and when we do you take it very personally and go hide in your closet until you’re ready to come out, always with an apology on your lips, to face the consequences.

    You LOVE being a big sister and showing Norah how things are done. You beam as you show her how to use a fork properly, or brush your hair or put dishes in the sink. You’ve even started trying to show her how to use the potty and are happy to report to mom and dad when she’s getting into something she shouldn’t be.

    Sarah you have the most beautiful, vibrant spirit. I marvel at your bravery on insisting and practicing and then trying out for the school play (and scoring a role!). I glow as I watch you bring toys to your sister and sing songs to her to help her stop crying. You have no idea how much I love it when you crawl up next to me on the couch in the evenings and ask to snuggle and watch a show. I want to bottle those moments up and put them in my pocket for bad days.

    Oh my Sarah girl, my four-year-old, my first born, how I love you. Here’s to many more joys together in the next year.

    Love you,
    Mama

  • Interview with the Big Sister

    Date: 2015.03.30 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Me, Pregnancy, Sarah, Twins | Response: 2

    I recently sat down with my almost 4-year-old to get her take on the impending arrival of her twin siblings.  She says all kinds of crazy things to me on any given day, as most all almost-four-year-olds do, so I couldn’t wait to pick her brain. She was also very excited about our little chat, despite the fact that she insisted on drinking chocolate milk the whole time and staring off into space.

    She took it upon herself to start our chat by telling me all the things that big sisters do.

    Sarah: “Big sisters change the diaper and they help take a baby down for a nap. And they help grownups feed them and rock them to sleep.”

    Me: “That’s right! Are you going to do all those things when your baby brother and baby sister get here?”

    Sarah: “Uh huh, I am. It’s so beautiful.”

    Me: “Are you excited about having a new brother and a new sister? Two babies?”

    Sarah: “Uh huh.”

    Me: “What are they going to look like?”

    Sarah: “Maybe their hair is going to grow when they get out of your tummy. I think brother’s eyes are going to be brown and sister’s eyes are going to be blue.”

    Me: “Oh that’s a good guess! When do you think they’re going to be born?”

    Sarah: “In spring!”

    Me: “Do you have a day picked out?”

    Sarah: “Uh huh.”

    Me: “What day do you think?”

    Sarah: “Um, I don’t know.”

    Me: “What do you think Norah is going to do when they get here?”

    Sarah: “I think she’s going to play with them.”

    Me: “Are you going to come to the hospital to meet them?”

    Sarah: “Uh huh.”

    Me: “What are you going to do when you get to the hospital?”

    Sarah: “Just be quiet.”

    Me: “Are you going to say anything to them?”

    Sarah: “I’m going to tell them a secret.”

    Me: “What kind of secret?”

    Sarah: “A princess secret. And it’s going to be aiwehriauwbfiwubefaiww. That’s what I’m going to say.”

    Me: “I couldn’t hear you, that was very quiet.”

    Sarah: “No, it’s secret talk like this (very quietly) ‘Do you want to have a tea party.. that’s what I’m whispering. (Regular voice) That’s a secret talk.”

    Me: “What are you going to do when mommy and daddy bring them home to our house and they start crying?”

    Sarah: “Take them down for a nap.”

    Me:  “Yea? How are you going to get them down for a nap?”

    Sarah: “Just rock them in the blue rocking chair. And I’m going to put them in that bed. Well I’m just going to climb up those things, and when they go to sleep I’m going to climb down those things.” [I’m guessing she’s referring to the step ladder I now have to use to get in and out of bed].

    Me: “What are you going to do when they cry in the middle of the night and they’re sleeping?”

    Sarah: “Um, I’m just going to stay in bed and just let you do that.”

    Me: “Oh, ok because that’s what mommies and daddies do?”

    Sarah: “Uh huh.”

    Me: “What do you think Leela and Bonnie are going to do when we bring them home?”

    Sarah: “I think they’re going to bark when they’re taking a nap.”

    Me: “Oh no, I hope not, that’s going to wake them up, huh?”

    Sarah: “Yea, they’re going to bark really loud.”

    Me: “What are you most excited about having a new brother and sister?”

    Sarah: “Um, changing their diaper.”

    Me: “That makes you excited?”

    Sarah: “Yep.”

    Me: “Alright, I’m glad I’m going to have such a good helper. Are you going to help me give them baths?”

    Sarah: “Yep…. but we need rags for them.”

    Me: “Are they going to have little bitty feet?”

    Sarah: “Yep! (holds hand up with fingers the size of a quarter) Like this tiny. And that’s what a big sister is for! I was a big sister when Bean [Norah] was little. When Bean was little like this, when she was this little (grape sized according to her hand).”

    Me: “You’re still her big sister, huh? And now you’re going to have another little sister and a little brother.”

    Sarah: “But can I be both their sisters? Can I be both their big sisters? But I can be their sis, too.”

    Me: “Yea, you can. Are you going to give them sweet, gentle hugs and kisses?”

    Sarah: “Uh huh, they’re going to be teenie weenie just like Teenie.” [I think the Teenie she is referring to is Nana's cat].

    And there you have it. Words of wisdom from a soon-to-be big sis of twins. I would have interviewed Norah too, but I have a feeling hers would have gone something like this:

    Norah: “Mama! Cracker! Cup! More! Dada!” The end.

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