Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
I’ve started to blog so many times over the past month, but then the chronic exhaustion sets in and I don’t think anyone wants to hear about the ridiculous morning sickness I went through or how tired I am all the time ( I don’t even want to think about it, after all). But, as one good friend told me over lunch today, blogging is one of the best ways to keep up with people. And she’s right! I miss writing and reading and sharing.
I’ve always known that as a parent I’m constantly teetering on the edge of crazy, but sometimes I have to laugh at how much our kids have stomped their way so firmly into every aspect of our lives.
Case in Point #1: Tonight was a particularly hard night. Both girls were exhausted. By 6:30 they had both dissolved into screaming baskets of tears and Mark and I kept giving each other those looks over their heads – you know the ones that say, “Oh my gosh I’m going INSANE GET ME OUT OF HERE.” We put them to bed at 7:15, then just looked at each other and shook our heads as the silence finally washed over us. And here I sit, not 10 minutes later pulling out prints of photos of them I’m giving as gifts and sharing them with Mark with a happy smile on my face. So yes, I may feel insane with their screams tonight, but I can still appreciate how adorable they can be less than 5 minutes after wanting to run out of the house screaming.
Case in Point #2: My girls love Minnie Mouse and I really wanted to get them Christmas Minnie’s for Christmas. Turns out that’s not something that’s easy to find. Disney likes to make things exclusive and even online I was having trouble finding what I wanted. A good friend and coworker was headed to Disney World, so I asked her to look for me. She found two of the most perfect Christmas Minnie’s, and when she handed them to me after she returned, I wanted to parade through the office and show everyone, even though I knew they would not get why I was so happy and excited. So I took them home and showed my husband who got nearly as happy about them as I was. That’s parenthood right there: a grown man getting excited about Christmas Minnie Mouse dolls.
Case in Point #3: I don’t have much time off of work to spare these days with my numerous doctor appointments and my I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-going-to-do-about-time-off maternity leave coming up, but the few pitiful hours I’ve managed to scrape together have been happily traded in for field trips with Sarah. I’ve been with her to a farm out in the middle of nowhere to feed baby cows and goats and plant seeds and pick pumpkins. I’ve been to the local science center to watch an awful IMAX movie about Santa vs. the Snowman, and on Friday I will go to Sarah’s Christmas program where she will dress up as a shepherd (but we have to tell her she’s Mary, because otherwise she deems the costume unacceptable) and watch her sing her little heart out to “Away in a Manger” and I could not be more excited.
I feel like little things like this come up all the time – these swings from absolute frustration to pure joy at the thought of our girls. These moments where we get so caught up thinking of their joy that it spreads infectiously into us.
These twins are no exception to that. Morning sickness, exhaustion, impatience, fatigue: it all fades away (well mostly anyway) the moment I sit in front of the ultrasound screen and watch them shove each other around. Even now, exhausted at the end of the day, at the end of a long string of days, I’m smiling as I feel Baby A flutter in my ribs and Baby B shove on my bellybutton (though it helps that my husband just returned from a run to TCBY to help us eat away the stress of this evening).
I am exhausted. I am worn out. And I may not always feel like sunshine, but man am I happy… especially when all the exhausted children happily and willingly go to bed early.
I wrote this post about a week after we found out we were expecting twins. I know that this post may sound a little doom and gloom, but rest assured we are very happy and excited now… nearly two months after the fact. Still though, it never hurts to keep us in your prayers. Many of these worries still plague us!
After we learned that we were unexpectedly expecting again, Mark and I settled into a state of disbelief and shock that manifested itself in a few different ways.
I had to start acting pregnant again for one. After previous progesterone problems with Sarah and Norah, I immediately had to have blood work done and schedule my first appointment. And then there was that whole not drinking wine thing and heating up my lunch meat again. The blood work came back and confirmed the pregnancy and things started getting real.
Mark and I battled with worry. How would we provide for an additional child? We needed to get bunk beds for the big girls. Norah was only ELEVEN MONTHS OLD! How was I going to tell work after not even a year back from maternity leave?
All these questions continued to bounce around in our heads when we went in for our first OB visit. After filling out paperwork and saying hi to all my “old friends” at the office, we went in for our first ultrasound that would both confirm the pregnancy without any doubt and give us an idea of the baby’s due date.
As we prepared for the ultrasound, I told the tech how I had always wanted three children, but we just weren’t prepared for it to happen so soon. She stared at the screen and said, “Well, what about four?”
My heart dropped and I started to shake. Sure enough, up on the screen were two very distinct little babies, each in their own yolk sack with little heartbeats fluttering away.
I cannot adequately explain the shock that went through my body. I yelled, “Holy shit!” very loudly and I think I scared the tech, though she laughed good-naturedly. Mark sort of half laughed and we held hands and stared as she checked each baby and explained that they were fraternal twins (not identical), which is the very best situation for twins because they each have their own nutrition sources. There was a chance, of course, that one twin could dominate and we could lose one, but they both were the exact same size and both had good heart rates and looked very healthy.
As we left the ultrasound room, we were the last people left in the waiting room. The ladies at the front desk were joking a little about “seeing us again so soon,” when I told them about the twins. The news drew a massive crowd of nurses and workers. “How old is your baby?” “How old is your oldest?” “Oh my gosh that’s going to be a lot of work.” I continued to shake.
We went to see our doctor from there.
I love our OB. She delivered both my girls and has a very good sense of humor and is very direct about everything. She has been a great fit for us and knows us very well.
She came in, turned the lights off and in a very calm voice said, “It’s going to be ok.”
“You say that so calmly,” I said. “That’s because I don’t have to take them home,” she said and smiled.
She then started explaining what we are looking at as far as the pregnancy goes. We would be getting an ultrasound every doctor’s visit and going to the doctor a lot more frequently. We would be seeing a high-risk pregnancy doctor. We went over past pregnancy history and she took a big sigh of relief.
“I know you probably don’t want to hear this right now,” she said, “But you’re the perfect candidate for twins. You are tall, which will give them more room to grow and hopefully allow you to carry them longer. You’re young, you had two healthy pregnancies before and you have a stable family environment.” She was right, of course, but I just couldn’t process it all.
We got home and told Mark’s mom who didn’t believe us until we handed over the ultrasound picture. She picked up congratulatory dinner for us. I could barely eat a bite, but Mark managed to eat like six pieces of chicken, all the sides and two biscuits. During dinner Norah started this fake choking thing she does to get attention. It completely freaked me out. Then she started laughing at me when I panicked and I broke into a horrific sob right there at the dinner table… and then ran to the bathroom and hurled.
The number of emotions racing through me were unbelievable. I was terrified. How in the heck were we going to pay for childcare for FOUR children? Would we need to get a bigger house? We definitely needed two bigger cars… and then two of EVERYTHING – two carseats, two cribs, two highchairs and OH MY GOSH I would have FOUR children ages four and under. I was a shaking, rattling mess. I called my family later that evening and they were amazing. They lifted my spirits and reminded me of the awesome support network I’m surrounded by in town. My mom and my youngest sister are both teachers and don’t work during the summer and they will be ready and willing to help.
I’m not going to lie, it took me nearly a full week to be truly happy about the news. I found myself driving Sarah to school and simultaneously freaking out and then sobbing with joy.
Here I was, the girl who was suppose to need help to conceive children, accidentally pregnant with twins while I had a 3-year-old and 11-month-old at home. It was insanity. It was a blessing. It was a miracle.
I can honestly say now that Mark and I are overjoyed. Yes, we are still worried about paying for four children and providing all that they need. Yes, I am worried about their health and welfare already. But, I truly believe that after all the trouble we had conceiving Norah, that the fact that we’re having twins is no fluke. Our babies may be a surprise, but they are a gift from God and we are ready, willing and excited to take up this gift and do our absolute best.
I originally wrote this post a week after we found out we were expecting again in the first few days of September (before I knew the WHOLE story). I know I’ve been absent from blogging for a while, but sometimes when something like this is so life consuming and you’re not ready to share, it’s difficult to stare at that blank screen and write. So with this, get ready for my stream of ramblings to start up again!
I need to write this down now, while the memory of that day still clings to me.
But before I tell you about that day, let me tell you about the few days leading up to it. On Sunday I had been at my parents house hanging out with my family, celebrating my sister’s graduation with her Master’s degree and drinking a couple of glasses of wine. My heart started racing of its own accord, something not unfamiliar to me, but also something that hadn’t happened in a long time. I got it under control and chalked it up to the alcohol and sleep deprivation.
Monday I went to my Piyo class, and during the sections of the class where we moved up and down, constantly changing elevation, my heart again started speeding out of control. I chalked it up to the elevation changes – even though I’ve been doing that class for a few months without any other problems before.
Tuesday I went to lunch with my friend Angela, and we started talking about hormone changes, and I thought, “Oh that must be it, my cycle is about to start and that must be what’s causing these heart issues.”
After lunch I checked my calendar to see when I was supposed to start and realized that I was very late – eight days late in fact. And then I remembered the last time my heart took off racing all the time: when I found out I was pregnant with Norah.
I drove to the store and bought a two pack of pregnancy tests, but didn’t take them. Those things are kind of pricey and I didn’t want to waste one. I went home and put them in the cabinet and then settled down to a fun evening with my best friend who was in town for a few days. We drank wine, watched our girls play and had a great time. Shortly after she left that evening, Mark and I started arguing. Honestly I can’t even remember what it was about now, but that evening we had a long talk and he mentioned my short fuse and extreme impatience. I confessed to him then that I was worried because my cycle was late and my heart had been racing. He comforted me and reassured me that this wasn’t completely unusual and he was sure everything would be fine.
Still though I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and worried all night. Finally at 5:30 that morning, I decided I needed the reassurance of that little negative sign so I could get on with my day without fretting.
I went to the bathroom, took the test and watched as the positive sign immediately showed up. I sat there in a state of shock muttering not a few profanities. Finally, 15 minutes later I pulled myself together and went back into the bedroom. I told Mark I needed to turn on the lamp and handed over the test. His immediate response was a disbelieving and reverent, “No way.” Then he immediately broke out into a huge grin. And me? Well I burst into tears and started sobbing.
It’s hard to describe what I was feeling at that moment, but I’ll take a stab at it. For one, I was in complete and utter shock. I have always wanted three children, but I did not expect them to be quite so close together. Norah was only 11 months old and still nursing after all. We had so much trouble conceiving Norah, that I figured when we did get ready to try for a third, we would have to prepare ourselves for another year-long journey of months of hope and disappointment. I had even prayed about it and come to complete acceptance and happiness with having two children. In fact, part of me already felt like we were done. God had given us these two amazing little girls and we felt complete; we were happy. We had even started planning a big family trip for 2015.
And then there was the overwhelming feeling of having three, THREE children ages four and under, with two very much still in diapers. How could we possibly manage it strategically, mentally and financially?
And then there was a feeling of complete and overwhelming amazement and disbelief. I was told, after all, many years ago that conceiving children would be difficult and we would likely need assistance. And here we were, despite the fact that we were actively avoiding pregnancy, pregnant so quickly with a THIRD baby.
Mark gazed up at me in that early morning hour as we sat alone in our bed, grinning at me and said, “It’s a miracle.” And truly, it is.
I pulled myself together as best I could and, in a daze, took Sarah to school. I stayed for morning assembly where I learned that it was the feast day of Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine. During morning prayer, all the children said a prayer for their mothers and all mothers. I felt my knees get a little wobbly. Following an inner call to go to Mass, I stayed for the school Mass that morning. The priest started by telling all the children who Saint Monica was and how she prayed desperately for her son and asked that the children pray for all mothers everywhere who are worried and in distress.
If anyone was looking, I’m sure they were wondering why that crazy lady standing by herself had tears running down her cheeks for most of Mass. But I left there with a new perspective and a stronger feeling of joy. And though I’ve existed in a state of shock and disbelief for a week now and continue to worry about logistics and finances, I am so very thankful, so very blessed and so very happy.
We will, I pray, welcome our third baby to this world in April of 2015. Here’s to the start of another great adventure.
My kids surprise me all the time, and while many of those surprises aren’t always pleasant, from time to time one of them will truly amaze me with their behavior.
Last Thursday Sarah and I began our journey to Pittsburgh, where we stayed with Cassie and her family for a long weekend. Prior to leaving, I was very nervous about how Sarah would do with the airport and the planes. She hates loud noises and I had visions of me frantically trying to calm her while she freaked out over loud plane engines and the thousands of travelers we would encounter along the way.
When the day arrived, we got to the airport in time and prepared to board… but then we didn’t board. Our plane, it seemed, was having a mechanical issue. In my mind I immediately thought, “What kind of mechanical issue?! Is it safe to take my child on this plane?, etc.” After an hour wait, they boarded us… only to have us sit on the plane for 20 minutes, drink water, then get back off the plane.
It turns out the mechanical issue was a broken light on the outside of the plane. A part, it turns out, they did not have at our local airport and they would have to wait on the next flight in from Atlanta to obtain. They started projecting new estimated leave times. Our 8am flight was then a 9:30 flight. Not a problem, I thought, I built in long layovers on purpose. That 9:30 time came and went and our flight slowly started pushing further and further back. (The missing part wasn’t on the first flight – the part finally came in and we had to wait on mechanics – mechanics finally fixed it, but it wasn’t not up to the pilot’s standard – pilot had a two hour long phone conversation – mechanics came back out and finally fixed it for real).
I was getting so frustrated, as were nearly all the adults on the scheduled flight.
Sarah, however, was having a great time. She would run up to the window, shout, “Mama! Look at the airplane! Why isn’t it pink?!” and then happily return to me where she would look at a book / play with the iPad / color pictures. She made several friends out of the other passengers with her sweet smiles and silly dances. At one point she started coloring pictures and handing them out to fellow passengers. People were charmed and I was floored by her great behavior.
Our flight delay ended up being around 6.5 hours total. As we were finally boarding the flight, I had about 10 people come up to me and tell me how impressed they were by how well behaved Sarah was, she even, one lady said, behaved better than her teenagers would have.
The flight itself proved not to be troublesome either. As we took off, Sarah delightedly squealed, “We’re FLYING MAMA! We’re flying! We’re like Care Bears up in the clouds!” People looked and smiled. Delta can go ahead and send us a thank you package for providing one of the few reasons all the passengers didn’t mutiny.
They re-booked our second flight out of Atlanta for 10pm at night (ha! Can you even imagine what sort of state the two of us would have been in by then?!) But we finally managed to find a Delta agent in Atlanta who actually knew what he was doing and booked us on a flight that left within the hour. Now, if you know the Atlanta airport, then you know that means we had to haul it to get to the right terminal in time. I ended up at one point hustling while wearing my 30lb backpack, carrying my 35lb child, while she was carrying her much smaller backpack. Workout complete!
We made that flight, on which Sarah made another friend who let her play games on her iPad, and we finally made it to Pittsburgh around 7:30 that evening, a full five hours late. Sarah passed out on the drive to Cassie’s house, but she deserved a rest after that crazy day.
The travel home was also insane, but not nearly as bad. Terrible storms in the south caused our plane to have to take a different path, adding about 35 minutes onto our flight time. During the flight, Sarah and I had to take a bathroom break (side note: do you know how hard it is to squeeze into an airplane bathroom with another person?! That’s no joke). A lady came out of the bathroom while we waited and Sarah ran up to her and gave her a huge hug like they had been best friends forever. The lady was delighted. She was flying first class and saved her cookies to give to Sarah later.
When we finally made it home, Sarah had a meltdown just as her daddy arrived at the airport, but she was such a trooper that we just stuck her in the car, let her have at it, then took her to Wendy’s for chicken nuggets. After all, I still think she handled the traveling better than me!
My extreme lack of blogging lately is due entirely to the fact that 1) I’ve been consumed with our new family transforming routine and 2) The kids and I have been facing a few health issues that have been dragging me way down and causing me to limp along exhausted most days the past couple of weeks.
But, despite all that, I want to do an update on my fitness. A few months ago, I decided it was time to really fight to get the last of my pregnancy weight off – something I didn’t have to do the first go round.
I started attending 3-4 gym classes weekly and completely overhauled my diet. Gone are 85% of our processed foods. We are doing a lot of whole eating and the whole family is adjusting pretty well.
Three months in, I’m seeing results. As of today, I am down 13 pounds, less than 5 pounds to go before I hit my pre-pregnancy weight. And even though the weight loss hasn’t been insanely quick, the most exciting part is the drastic changes my body is going through.
I’m getting strong. I can tell when I lift my children easier and haul grocery store bags. I can tell when I pull myself up on to things, or most recently, do repeated side lunges while holding my baby to get her to calm down at the pediatrician’s office. I can tell when I go to my classes. I went from being unable to do a standard plank at all, to doing them and adding on other exercises while I hold them. And I can tell when I look at my shoulder muscles finally starting to take shape. And you know what? It feels amazing.
I’ve dropped two inches in my waist and hips respectively.
And perhaps in the most exciting moment for me so far, I discovered that my high cholesterol level I use to have to be medicated for has dropped down to a safe, normal, healthy level just through diet and exercise. It’s truly amazing what three months of living a healthy lifestyle have done for me.
Lifestyle and routine changes are so tough, but it has been so rewarding.
I’m not sure if my brain has happily blocked out Sarah’s days of learning to stand independently, or if poor Norah takes after her mother in the clumsiness department. In the past week, Norah has hit her mouth to the point of bleeding not once, not twice, but THREE times. And there was another run in that left her with a nasty scratch by her eye.
The first incident happened when Norah was standing up, holding onto one of her toys. In a burst of excitement, Sarah flew past her and accidentally knocked her over. I didn’t see it unfold, but I did hear loud, terrible screams of pain. I scooped Norah up and couldn’t get her to settle down. It took me a minute to realize there was blood pouring out of her mouth and on to my shoulder. My insides locked up.
Normally blood doesn’t bother me, but in that moment, knowing it was my baby’s blood, I silently started to panic. Every time I tried to look in her mouth to see what was going on, the blood gushed anew and she screamed in pain. Meanwhile poor Sarah was busily trying to get my attention saying, “I’m sorry Mama! It was an accident Mama!” while trying to hold back her own tears.
I was an absolute mess. I just knew Norah needed stitches or had somehow knocked her teeth loose. I packed her up and prepared to go to pediatric quick care. When I arrived though, there was a note on the door saying the place was temporarily closed. Cursing, I put Norah back in the car and drove her to the next closest quick care. By then, the blood flow had slowed down and I was able to get a look into her mouth. There was blood pooling around her teeth and my mind raced to the worst possible scenarios. Finally I pulled it together and thought to call a family friend who is a dentist.
Bless him, he took my panicked call with grace, despite the fact that he was waiting in line at the bank and really just wanted to get home. He assured me that just because there was a lot of blood, that didn’t mean her teeth were going to fall out. In fact, at 10 months old, tooth roots aren’t fully formed and have plenty of time to heal on their own.
I calmed down and drove home. After two hours of bleeding, things seem to finally stop and she had no problem shoveling down food and sucking her thumb.
I realized the next morning that the injury was actually in her gums and that little piece of skin between the lip and the gums. As long as I didn’t try to lift her lip, all was well. I calmed down.
Not to be outdone though, two days later Norah pulled up on the fireplace, let go and fell, hitting her mouth in the same exact spot on the way down. You guessed it: lots more blood and screaming. Fortunately this time I kept calm and managed to get her under control pretty quickly.
Surely she would learn some self-preservation, you say? But alas, like a moth to the flame, Norah continued to be drawn to the brick fireplace. Two days after the second incident, she managed to scramble over to the fireplace, stand and fall, this time busting her bottom lip open. Cue more blood and screaming.
By this point I began to feel like a terrible parent. I immediately logged on to Amazon and ordered cushiony edge protectors. My baby proofing the second go round has obviously been a little too lax, or maybe my baby is just a little too clumsy.
And then yesterday mom picked Norah up from school early. The whole time she was at mom’s, she was an angel. But as soon as I got there? Well that baby crawled at high speed to the fireplace and slammed the corner of her eye into the bricks.
My poor baby looks like she’s got a budding career in boxing.
Let me tell you a personal story about failure and success.
I should start from the beginning. With my second pregnancy I gained a lot of weight – more than I should have. Part of that was due to exercise limits from heart problems, but more of it was due to the fact that I was pregnant during Louisiana summer and I only wanted to lay on the couch in the air conditioning and not move.
No big deal, I thought, I’ll lose it all when I breastfeed. Did I lose some of it? Yes. Did I lose all of it? A big fat NO. After I had Sarah, the weight came off with almost no effort. I nursed, I exercised some and it flew off. I was back in my pre-pregnancy clothes in 6 months.
I sort of want to punch that version of myself in the face. Or, really, I just want to grab me from three years ago and say, “Do you KNOW how lucky you were?!” Because Baby #2? Yea, that’s not happening. I don’t know if it’s because this is a second baby, or I had a c-section this time, or a combination of the two, but this extra baby weight has been clinging to me with a death grip despite the fact that I’ve been nursing a baby for nearly 10 months.
I’ll admit, at first I had zero motivation to try to get the weight off. Part of that was total lack of sleep, and the other half was me desperately clinging to the hope that the breastfeeding weight loss would kick in any day.
When that didn’t happen after several months down the road, I decided I had to do something. My first attempt at “something,” was trying the Paleo diet where you essentially eat foods a cave person would. I know a lot of people who have had success with it and you get to eat as much of the designated foods as you want! I quickly discovered Paleo wasn’t for me. For one, it dried up my milk supply, and for another, I need some grains, dairy and wine in my diet to stay sane and I refuse to believe legumes are bad for you. Paleo and I were not a good fit.
Exercise, I decided, was what I really needed. I started going back to my regular spin class… except that I quickly learned it’s super popular now and I’m never quick enough to get a bike reserved, so I slowly stopped doing that. Finally, I decided to try out my gym’s new studio location near my house. While it has some equipment, it’s mainly all group fitness classes, which is what I love. I took a class there and was hooked. I signed up.
After that, I seriously went home and prayed for the strength to take care of my body and to get the weight off. Whatever it took, I wanted the fortitude to do it.
And then, the stars started aligning. My sisters decided the three of us would support one another on a weight loss challenge. And because we have a tight budget and we were laying down some money for the gym, I felt obligated to go as much as possible. With my sisters’ encouragement I downloaded the MyNetDiary Pro app to track my calories and exercise (including ones burned through breastfeeding so I’d still be ok there).
What started as an obligation to go to the gym (I promised myself at least two – three days a week), started becoming a strong desire to go to the gym. I quickly started going four days a week – five when my schedule allows it. And because I hit the gym on my lunch breaks, I bring my lunch to work, thus allowing me to control my calorie intake and my eating out budget and prevent me from eating the whole Indian Restaurant buffet.
Then my second cousin and fitness instructor, Libby of LibbFit, asked me about doing some graphic design and trading out her fitness expertise. You better believe I jumped on that.
And just like that, I discovered that the scale was finally, FINALLY moving down again. Just this morning I saw the lowest number on the scale I’ve seen since giving birth.
I finally understand (and remember) WHY people who are into fitness are always so happy and jazzed about it. It may suck while I’m doing it, but afterwards I feel amazing. In a month’s time I’ve dramatically increased my strength and helped ease a mean, nasty, fiery spot of post c-section nerve pain / scar tissue in my lower, right abdomen. My classes are varied, ranging from pilates and yoga to cardio and weights.
Is it hard? Sometimes it’s so hard. But the reward has been amazing. I finally feel like my body is waking up and my mood has bloomed into something much happier and optimistic. I’m more patient with my children and kinder to myself. I even managed to say no to my favorite ice cream and amazing looking cake at work this morning. It’s exciting and it’s humbling.
I still have a long way to go and weight to lose before I even hit my pre-pregnancy numbers. I often have to do modified moves at my Piyo and Body Attack classes, but I’m doing it. And really, that’s what matters.
Here’s my picture for my Piyo Challenge group I took this morning. We had to take a whacky planking picture.
P.S. Thanks to Cassie for encouraging me to write this post.
Sarah started taking swimming lessons with her cousin Jacob last week. They are taking private lessons with a friend of mine from high school who has been teaching lessons for years. When we arrived at the pool, the kids had very different reactions.
Sarah immediately panicked and refused to get in the water past the first step. Jacob plunged in like he was a merman come home. The lessons proceeded accordingly with Sarah screaming and crying when the instructor tried to convince her to get in, and Jacob attempting to march off to the deeper end of the pool on his own with no flotation devices. Pretty soon Jacob was on the kickboard, looking to all the world like the next Olympic champion. Sarah slowly warmed up, and by mid lesson was blowing bubbles in the water before crying that water got in her eyes.
We kept an eye on them both the whole time from the poolside, while we simultaneously held babies and talked. Thank goodness we were watching because Jacob, in his confidence, went a little too far into the pool, while the teacher was on the opposite side of the pool with Sarah, and suddenly he was in too deep. For a moment that seemed to stretch into eternity, we saw him start to scramble and go under. Shannon and I raced to the pool with babies in our arms. I honestly can’t remember the next few moments exactly. All I know is that I saw Shannon jump in the pool while still holding Norah, and then I started to panic as I tried to figure out how to also rescue my baby while holding a one month old. Fortunately, my sister kept her cool and somehow managed to tilt and angle her body so Norah stayed above the water while she simultaneously rescued Jacob with the other arm. I immediately reached in and grabbed Norah from Shannon with my one free arm.
Just like that the moment of panic was over and everyone was ok, at least physically.
We quickly discovered, however, that our little merman no longer had any desire to get back in the swimming pool. We made him take one last lap around while holding on to the teacher, and he grudgingly obliged, but he was not happy.
Fast forward to this past weekend. We went over to a friend of Shannon’s to go swimming. We had high hopes that we would get Jacob in a floaty and in the pool with his mama and show him everything was fine and safe – no such luck. Jacob wanted nothing to do with the pool – he refused to even get his feet wet. He cried and cried at our many attempts and suggestions to get him in. At one point he stepped in ants and still refused to dip his poor little ravaged feet in the water.
Sarah, who is getting a little braver each day, sat on the top step of the pool, patted the space next to her and asked Jacob to sit by her. No luck.
We go back for our next lesson on Thursday. I have complete faith that their instructor will help him overcome the fear as much as possible, but is there any way that you can think of that will help him get near the pool again?
Sometimes life will give you those once in a lifetime moments. One such moment came for me when my sister asked me to be present for the birth of her son. That’s a big gift and a lot of trust to give to someone. When you’re laboring, your emotions and body are bare and you need to be surrounded by people you love and trust. I’m so thankful my sister counted me as one of those people.
It was so neat to experience labor from this side, having gone through it myself before. The whole process truly is amazing and I’m proud to say I never once felt faint or woozy. Shannon had a great team of people coaching her and pushing her through it, and she birthed her big ole nearly 9 pound baby boy like a champ.
The experience also allowed for some once in a lifetime photos. It was so amazing to be able to capture these moments.
Here were some of my favorites.
Welcome to the world Landon Robert. Your Auntie Jess already loves you so much. And way to go Shannon! You are one amazing mama.
Yesterday I had lunch with Kim, a good friend of mine who regularly puts me through my thinking paces about everything from astrology to politics to faith and religion. I love talking with her, because she often forces me to think about important things that I often gloss over in lieu of the day-to-day necessities of life. And even when we don’t agree, we can still talk civilly and learn from one another. It was so great to take a time out to sit, and talk, and think.
As conversations often go with Kim, I started telling her about a “theme” that seems to be continually hitting me over the head this past month or so. When I explained to her how it kept popping up, Kim looked at me in the eyes and said, “Jess, it sounds like you have an article writing you.” And, of course, she was right.
When Norah got croup, and then RSV, I found myself simultaneously upset that she was so sick, feeling all of her pain and suffering ten times over, and battling this great, guilty ball of sleep deprived frustration. When, I wondered, will I ever sleep again?
But on these many sleepless, frustrating nights, I would close my eyes, rock the baby and let my mind wander. And, so many times, it kept finding its way to a Mass I recently attended where one of our seminarians was ordained to a deacon. Weird, I know. But the moment that kept popping out in my head was when the bishop, during his homily, spoke about sacrifice. And while on that particular occasion the sacrifices he spoke of were the ones deacons and priests make when they choose a vocation in the church, he could have been speaking to any parent. When big moments happen in our lives, he said, they often require great sacrifice. And it is in making these sacrifices, often of things we desperately want, that we learn who we truly are and what we’re made of.
Not to be outdone, I’ve been following along with Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten reflections, reading in the middle of the night, when one about Mother Theresa surfaced:
“By emptying out the self in love for the other, we become filled to the brim with the divine life… The secret to joy is self-giving love. Mother Teresa imparted that to her sisters, and she offers the same lesson to us.”
I know that I am not perfect and I know that I need time to myself to stay sane, but I also need moments to knock me over the head and say, “You know what? Yes, this is hard, this is really really hard sometimes, but your girls need YOU. They want their mother. They need their mother. And this sacrifice of sleep, of time, of my body (and occasionally sanity), not only shows me how deep love can go, but it infinitely helps, nourishes and heals the two most precious little souls to me on this earth.
And if that doesn’t show me what I’m made of, or teach me joy through self-giving, I don’t know what will. How blessed I am to be given this amazing family.
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