Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

  • 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: 1

    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.

  • Entertaining Children from a Seated Position

    Date: 2015.03.16 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah, Toddler Time, Twins | Response: 2

    Ok, here’s the thing, I could gripe and complain some more about modified bed rest, but I’m going to try to stay away from that negative state of mind and be thankful that I’m not on full bed rest, still pregnant and able to drive to work and back every day.

    In that spirit of positivity, I’ve figured out, over the past few weeks, a few ways to entertain my young children without driving them all over town, keeping pace with them as they run, or attempting to jump on the trampoline. It’s been a learning curve for all of us. Sarah’s request of, “Mama, come see the tea party I set up,” isn’t met with much enthusiasm or energy when it takes Mama three solid minutes to go from laying to standing to walking into another room (which I probably don’t need to be doing anyway).

    So here’s what we’ve come up with in an attempt to make everyone (mostly) happy.

    First, let’s get real, Mama needs coffee. I know you’re not supposed to drink caffeine when you’re pregnant, this ain’t my first rodeo, but I warm up a glass ¾ full of milk and add some real coffee anyway. I’ve asked, it’s fine and it makes everyone in the house happier. So after Daddy makes coffee and I pour up a small cup, we can choose our activity.

    Option 1: Outside is always the first option. It’s the perfect opportunity to sit and observe while they run all of their energy out. And while Sarah was disappointed that I refused to get on the trampoline a few times, she has now taken it upon herself to design and set up an obstacle course around the perimeter of the yard which involves jumping over multiple stools and a torn up inflatable pool, dashing through leaves, making circles around the tire swing and avoiding stepping in dog poop. She runs this course at top speed multiple times around the yard while I cheer, “Bravo!” from my perch and help Norah throw the ball for the dogs, thus effectively entertaining and exhausting two kids and two dogs at the same time.

    However, it has been awfully rainy out lately, so we have a few inside options as well.

    Option 2: Crafts. Now, this one requires a little more stamina on my part and Norah either needs to be napping or out on an errand with daddy because I quickly discovered that I cannot bend to the floor to clean up the paint that Norah so wishes to paint our tile with. I really like doing this with Sarah. First we get the iPad and go to Pinterest. She picks the theme of the craft and then we search until we land on something that she both likes and we have all the supplies for. This past weekend the theme was “Easter” and all we needed was some paper, paint, crayons, glue and scissors. It was quite the success and allowed Daddy to get away with only taking Norah to the grocery store while we played at home.

    Option 3: The Performance. My kids love to dance and sing and perform. We’ve cleared off the fireplace hearth, tune Pandora into their choice of music (usually the Disney station), let them dress themselves in costume and perform to their hearts’ content. Both kiddos actively participate in this one and wear themselves out.

    Option 4: Bring the game to Mama.  We moved our kids’ picnic table back into the living room, thus providing the perfect setting to play tea party / restaurant / birthday party, all while Mama gets served up a variety of delicious Lego foods from my perch. It’s almost like breakfast in bed!

    Option 5: The Van. I love my new minivan so much. And when the days started to get super rainy and dreary and the kids couldn’t go out,  Mark suggested loading everyone up in the car and just driving. Sometimes we put on a DVD (we just bought 101 Dalmatians!), sometimes we listen to music, and sometimes we just stare out the window. We go and pick up lunch, or just drive and hang out. Norah always gets excited about this particular activity and loudly screams, “GO! GO!” and runs to the door if we even mention the word car.

    Option 6: Let them go to their grandparents’ if their grandparents are willing and available. I think this one’s self explanatory.

    Now, here’s to hoping this Spring weather is here to stay, or we are going to be in for a lot of long car rides with four little ones in the van in about a month or so.

  • 32 Weeks

    Date: 2015.03.09 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Life, Me, Pregnancy, Twins | Response: 5

    “How are you doing? How are you holding up?” are the two questions I get most these days while people eyeball my growing belly.

    “Really good all things considered,” is my usual response.

    And it’s true. By 32 weeks, many women with multiples are already on bed rest and in so much misery that moving or breathing is a task. My OB always tells me how lucky I am – how being tall makes things so much better. And she’s right. I asked her last time what short women with multiples do, and she quickly replied, “Get put on bed rest and sometimes in the hospital.”

    So luck, if that’s what you want to call it, has been with me.

    This morning I went to visit my high risk OB. I love their office. The doctors are so great and laid back and they get you in and out so quickly. I see them so often now that I feel like I’m getting to know them pretty well.

    Dr. B came in to see me this morning and picked up the ultrasound wand. “Let’s take a look at all that extra fluid around Baby B.” Baby B, it seems, has double the amount of room to swim around in than his sister and is outpacing her in size by a pound or so. That’s not a bad thing for the babies though, they are both are getting plenty of nutrition and are well within the sizes they should be, but Baby B is just a big boy.

    The problem is all that extra fluid. It doesn’t hurt the baby in any way, but instead of feeling like I’m 32 weeks pregnant with twins, it feels more like I’m 35 or 36 weeks pregnant with twins – therein lies the risk. When my uterus hits a certain size, it may think it’s “go time,” even if we’re not quite there yet.  Not to mention the fact that my ribs, hips, lower back and bladder are all paying the consequences as well. Sleeping has become a joke, as the dark circles under my eyes can attest, and this limited mobility thing is so hard for me to abide by.

    At any rate, I got myself landed with an elevated risk diagnosis this morning and I now get to visit my friends at both OB offices once a week now: aka, I’ll be at the doctors’ offices at least twice a week from here on out.

    I don’t want to sound ungrateful or unhappy – I’m not, just worried. I know so far we have been abundantly blessed and, despite the elevated risk, there is still a good chance that we can make it to that longed-for 36 week mark. Please keep our entire family in your prayers as we soldier on into the end of this pregnancy. I know the NICU here is an amazing and great place, but if we can avoid it or spend minimal time there, that would be my ultimate wish. I already love these two little ones so much and want them to be as healthy as possible. I can fight through the discomfort, after all it’s Mark’s job to sit there and listen to me complain without judging me, just as long as we are all ok in the end.

  • Snow Days, Rest Days

    Date: 2015.03.04 | Category: Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah | Response: 1

    Snow in Louisiana is a rare and funny thing – especially when A) the forecasters are actually right and it happens and B) it lasts more than one day. Both of those things happened last week and I noticed that people’s reactions were something like this:

    Day 1: SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! (ok, so it’s mostly ice) but cancel all the things and let’s stay home and party. No school! Yay! Also let’s take a million pictures and go outside in inappropriate clothing because none of us are prepared for this! Also, let’s update everyone and let them know where it’s snowing!

    Day 2: A much more muted celebration, yay – no work, no school, but really I’m tired of being stuck inside with my kids, can’t we all get back to normal tomorrow?

    Day 3: Real snow! It’s beautiful! But seriously, I’m over it. Please melt and go away and bring me 75-degree weather. Grumble grumble, complain, complain.

    My take? I loved it – all three days of it from ice, to slush to real snow. I loved being at home with my family. Yes, it had its trying moments, but there is something so wonderful about an unplanned vacation. Perhaps it’s the homebody in me, or maybe getting outside long enough to watch Mark and Sarah pelt each other with snowballs and build a giant snowman satiated my need to get out of the house, but I was in heaven.

    The stay at home gave me some much needed time to move Norah’s things into Sarah’s closet and get the twins’ things set up in a closet together – a big task that I had had no clue when I’d be able to accomplish. (And don’t worry, I mostly stayed off my feet, sitting in the closet organizing, folding, stacking and yelling for Mark to come move heavy boxes for me). We also cleaned bedrooms (in the same sitting and directing fashion).

    But, most importantly, whenever I felt tired or worn out, I could crawl onto a couch and put my feet up. And guess what? I had very minimal contractions and physically felt so much better.

    The girls played church, put on elaborate dancing and singing performances and generally enjoyed the heck out of themselves. I lounged on the couch and drank coffee while I watched them perform.

    Of course it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but the unexpected break was a blessing. And when Sarah told me Thursday morning that she was ready to get up, get dressed and go see her friends that day, I applauded her good attitude.

  • Stay Off Your Feet!

    Date: 2015.02.16 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah, Toddler Time, Work | Response: 1

    “Stay off your feet as much as possible.”

    Those are words you might think would be wonderful to hear – and perhaps they would be if it were vacation and I had a handy dandy foot servant to tend to my needs, but the reality is something much harder.

    A few weeks ago I started experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions – not something unfamiliar to me. I recognized the cramping and tightness for what it was, but it still made me uneasy with my high risk for premature labor. I asked both my high risk OB and my regular OB about them. Good news is that they aren’t active contractions – my cervix is just fine – which is great! The bad news is that they are triggered when I’m on my feet or bending too often and lots of contractions still aren’t a great thing to be experiencing when we are hoping to make it at least seven more weeks before we deliver.

    My regular OB told me she didn’t want to put me on bed rest for a number of reasons, but the primary one was how stressful something like that is for a family: loss of income, the burden of everything falling on one partner and the kids without easy and constant access to Mama creates chaos. So, she didn’t put me on bed rest – yet. However, I have been threatened with it if I don’t “stop and sit down already.”

    I am very fortunate that my job allows me to sit most of the time, and the parts of my job that require me to be on my feet – namely photography – are slowly being handed off to other capable hands for now. In fact work has proven to be the best thing for me right now. I can arrive, sit at my desk and work, slowly meander to the bathroom across the hall on occasion (or really LOTS of occasions), and just be.

    Home life, however, has proven to be much more difficult. Having two children, ages 3 and 16 months who are still very dependent on their parents makes staying off my feet extremely difficult and nearly impossible. There are so many things I have taken for granted that are now an obstacle to overcome. My husband has risen to the occasion valiantly. Where we once both shared cooking responsibilities, he has taken over almost all of them (though I still offer to sit and peel and chop veggies!) The grocery shopping, which has always been my chore, has had to be passed off to Mark as well. I can still fold laundry, but not rotate it.

    Oh, that must be so nice, you think, having someone take care of all that for you. Well, here’s the problem, I like things done the way and on the time frame I’m used to doing them on, and I feel bad nagging my husband once he finally sits down to get up and rotate laundry. Not to mention there are so many things I want to do that are no longer an option. I really wanted to go to the Mardi Gras parades this past weekend, but my OB said, “If you’re thinking about going, just don’t.”

    My girls want me to get up and play. Sarah is always begging me to dance with her or go to another room to see her latest creation. My 16-month-old is constantly digging into and climbing on things she shouldn’t be, and when daddy is trying to man the cooking and dishes, it falls to me to try to keep an eye on her ever-busy body. And that little toot has figured out that she can run from me and I can’t give chase! She will scoop up a penny or an ink pen and take off, laughing as she watches me try to hurry after her.

    Just last week Mark was sick in bed with a 103 fever and Norah was super sick, too. In the process of trying to take care of everyone, I had a round of regular, scary contractions. Any time I think, “Oh, I’ve got this, just a short amount of time on my feet,” it backfires.

    I know complaints from pregnant women can be annoying, and I am so very thrilled and blessed to meet these twins, but man, oh man, never did I think “taking it easy” would prove to be so hard.

  • Pregnancy Survival Kit

    Date: 2015.01.21 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Me, Pregnancy, Style | Response: 5

    This is my third pregnancy, which means I may finally be starting to fall into that “experienced” category. This time with twins has been a little different though. 18 solid weeks of morning sickness made me think I’d never happily eat food again, but for once in my life I was encouraged to eat anything I thought I could keep down. After fighting NOT to gain too much weight with Norah, I’ve been amazed that everything I eat this time seems to go straight to the babies – though it also probably helps that, for the most part, I’ve been eating much healthier this time (please ignore that Ben & Jerry’s Greek frozen yogurt that stays in stock in my freezer).

    I’ve also been getting much bigger much, much faster this time around (duh).

    I’m going to say something that may make you want to punch me. I don’t show my pregnancies quickly and I don’t usually get very big. I’m tall and there is a lot of room for those babies to expand before they push outward. With Sarah I was extremely disappointed that I didn’t actually look pregnant until I was 8 months along. With Norah it happened much faster and I got much rounder, but I never got gigantic. Even with the twins, I was about 22 weeks before I had a bump that made people start to wonder. But then, for Christmas this year, I got a real, live, round baby bump – and I was really excited about it.

    But, as these things generally go, with two babies I’ve started expanding very quickly. It’s a good thing! After all it means they are both big and healthy and growing like they should. They are weighing in at nearly two pounds a piece now and tightly snuggled up together, lovingly kicking each other in the heads.

    What I didn’t realize was what this would mean for me. My skin started to hurt! I would get home in the evenings and alternate between wanting to scratch it off and wanting to put ice packs on it. My pelvis felt heavy and walking around for more than 15 minutes slowly started to become uncomfortable. Old scar tissue from past surgeries suddenly started to burn. My sciatic nerve started to rage, leg and foot cramps set in every night and, worst of all, being on my feet for more than 30 minutes started to mean dizziness and near black outs.  I had three close scrapes with nearly passing out after grocery trips followed by sessions of standing and cooking.

    I had some of those problems with my past pregnancies, but never until the third trimester. When I mentioned this to the high-risk doctor, he told me the combined weight of the twins was equivalent to a third trimester pregnancy of a single baby. So it made sense, but that didn’t make it any easier.

    So, what to do? Well, after talking to several friends and doing some research, I found some things that have helped me tremendously.

    1. My friend Kate makes and sells body butter locally. Coven is made from all natural products, including the all-important coconut oil. Plus, it smells like heaven. I started putting it on my belly every night after my shower, paying special attention to the spots where my skin really hurt. And wouldn’t you know it, within two days most of the stretching pain was gone. It also smells like blood oranges, one of my husband’s and my favorite scents. He loves it when I put it on and climb in bed. ($18 You can buy it locally in Shreveport at Agora Borealis, or it’s available by emailing Kate at zombeecandle@gmail.com)
    2. Leg and foot cramps have been especially rough this time. I hear they make oral medication to help with this, and in the past I’ve even gotten on oral magnesium supplements to help ease the pain. Recently though, my friend Cassie introduced me to magnesium spray that you apply to the cramping area and rub into your skin. My only complaint is that it stings a little when you first apply it, but when it gets into the muscle, all cramping stops. Say hello to a night of sleep uninterrupted by leg cramps (now if only something like that would work on my bladder…) (Dr. Barbara Hendel’s Magnesium Oil From the Ancient Zechstein Sea 8 fl oz $12.79 available at amazon.com).
    3. Support. Why am I always so stubborn about wearing this? They make what is essentially a bra for your belly and back and it relieves almost all of my pelvic and sciatic pain. I take it off to eat so I can expand comfortably, then put that sucker back on. It’s amazing. ($38.99 at motherhood.com)
    4. Shoes. I’ve taken to wearing what I affectionately dub as my “old lady shoes” almost every day. I have had these things forever and they have the most comfortable, thick soles on the planet. I have them in black so I can wear them to work and my pants mostly cover them up so they don’t stick out like sore thumbs. These combined with the belly support have made being on my feet with the kids constantly much better. (Saucony Originals  Jazz Sneaker $40 at amazon.com) I’ll take a pair in every color, please.

    Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot I can do for that lightheaded business except chug water and sit down every so often. I’m lucky I can mostly sit at work, but chasing two kids at home makes that whole sitting thing tough. My husband has been a great help, switching laundry loads out (after all, I’ve lost my ability to bend at the middle), cooking dinner, carrying kiddos and generally being a great reminder to sit down and rest already – after all, I don’t want to get landed on bed rest.

    We still have about 11 or so weeks to go (hopefully!) with lots more belly expansion on the way, but we can do it!

  • The Retreat

    Date: 2015.01.12 | Category: Family, Health, Holidays, Life, Love, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Travel | Response: 2

    My husband is notoriously difficult to shop for.  He likes tools… none of which I could even begin to pick out.

    Leading up to Christmas this year, we were beginning to prepare our three bedroom house for the addition of two more people. We have been cleaning out and purging what we can to make room. Everything has been attacked: from the girls’ rooms, to our closet, to our garage and office. We still have a way to go, but we are making room.

    So, for Christmas this year, I decided to do a little something different for Mark. I had read several blog posts and talked to a few people about the importance of setting aside time specifically for you and your spouse. It’s so incredibly hard to do with small children. Their needs always come first, and with both of us working full time, we feel like we should spend all of our free time with our children. And by the time bedtime rolls around, we are either both working some more, or retreating to our own selfish creature comforts.

    So, this year for Christmas, I decided to give Mark a retreat: a night away from everything dedicated to just the two of us. I made sure the girls would have a place to stay overnight with their Nana, then I booked a night at a Bed and Breakfast in Natchitoches. It was far enough out of town where we would be going away, but close enough that we could easily get back home if we needed to.

    I put a lot of research into where we would stay and eat during our short getaway, and even wrote and illustrated (with crayons!) a poem to give to him on Christmas Eve.

    This past Friday was the big day. After a week back of trying to get the girls back into their post-Christmas routine, we were ready. We counted down the days, then the hours.

    At go time, we drove down to Natchitoches to Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast.

    This place was AMAZING. It was an old house owned by a Civil War veteran. After being handed down to family members through the years, the couple who own it now bought it and completely renovated it. There are several gorgeous rooms to stay in, each with their own unique and beautiful features. I opted for the Garden Room with the giant bed and jacuzzi tub (of course). Because it was their off season, we were the only ones there, and we had the whole place to ourselves.

    After bringing our bag in, we headed out to dinner. I polled Facebook, and learned that one of the newer restaurants, Maglieaux’s on the Cane, was supposed to be delicious. Mark put all the planning in my hands, and we were both so pleased with our candlelit Louisiana seafood dinner. We had crawfish cornbread, Caesar salads, seafood stuffed mushrooms and chicken, and white chocolate bread pudding. Every single course was perfect. And, best of all, we got to sit and eat without having to feed anyone else or cut anyone’s food up. Win!

    Being the old homebodies that we are, we left dinner and went straight back to our room (after stopping by their kitchen for a couple of complimentary drinks). You know how most of the time staying in a bed besides your own isn’t all that great? Well this bed was lush. King-sized, pillow-topped, with tons of pillows. And that jacuzzi tub! I don’t think I would have gotten out of it ever if we didn’t have a check out time.

    I was so thrilled that I could stay up as late as I wanted with no repercussions… but fell asleep at 10:30 anyway, because that bed.

    We slept until 7:30 the next morning and got to wake up, lounge around and talk without anyone crawling in between us or digging their cold little toenails into our legs.

    Breakfast was served in the dining room at 8:30, and we wandered down to the kindest lady who was prepping a huge breakfast just for the two of us. The china was finely set, the coffee and juice were amazing, and oh. that. food.


    Raspberry croissant bread pudding for first course breakfast? Yes, please!

    The second course was Southwestern style and included eggs, grits, tomatoes and an English muffin. Later, when I asked Mark what his favorite part of the getaway was, he immediately and without hesitation said BREAKFAST.

    Following breakfast we checked out and strolled a little down by the Cane River and through downtown before heading back.

    That trip was more than I hoped it would be. We (mostly) put away technology, and just spent time completely relaxing and enjoying ourselves together as a married couple. We talked and laughed and sat in comfortable silence. We felt recharged and rested. It was good for our souls and our sanity.

    Immediately we started talking about when we could do it again. Who knows? Maybe we can divide up our four children for our anniversary and slip away in the fall. If not, I already know what I want Santa to put in my stocking next year – and next time it will be for two nights.

    If you live in the area, I can not recommend Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast enough. It’s extremely affordable and beautiful. The food is delicious and the hospitality exquisite. And even if you’re not in the area, I can’t recommend taking a retreat for you and your spouse enough. We love our children with all our hearts, but sometimes it is best to put one another first.

  • A Plague Upon Us

    Date: 2014.12.31 | Category: Family, Health, Holidays, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Sarah, School | Response: 1

    I get really excited about doing stuff with the kids during the holidays. This year was particularly overwhelming though, with work and events planned every weekend for nearly three months in a row. It made it hard to take time out and do things especially for and with them. So I was very excited that Sarah’s school was having a Christmas program, complete with required shepherd costume made by her aunt MC and months of song practice.

    As the anticipated week approached though, something started to go very wrong. It started with my brother-in-law, and then my sister, and then my nephew: the stomach bug was rearing its very ugly head. Still though, about three days had passed since we had been around them and I held out hope… until Wednesday when Mark went down hard. We confined him to the bedroom and stayed away. But by Thursday afternoon, I started to feel really bad.

    Thursday night was miserable. I didn’t think having the stomach bug could get worse, but I had never had it with two one pound babies inside my body, laying on my stomach and sucking up all calories and nutrition I managed to conserve. Needless to say, there was no way I could make it to the Christmas program Friday morning, despite my weak effort to get up and put my shoes on. I was heartbroken. I helped Sarah get into costume, and we both cried as daddy pulled out of the driveway to take her to school. Mark was still feeling bad, so he had to drop her off and come back home, too.

    Thanks to Team Grandma though, Sarah had a loyal fan base in attendance. Both of her grandmothers were there to witness her star performance as one of many tiny shepherds singing Christmas songs and acting out scenes from the songs.

    Right before the performance was due to start, I remembered that the Cathedral where the performance was to be held, had a webcam. Thank goodness it was up and going! We got to watch Sarah on the front row, performing her little heart out in her shepherd (or according to her, “Mary shepherd”) costume from the quarantined safety of our home office. It was amazing. I was so proud of her and she enthusiastically waved to her grandmothers when she walked past them.

    And perhaps, best of all, the school’s development director and I know each other very well, and she snapped some beautiful pictures of my girl’s performance.

    So while neither Mark, nor I could be there in person, the webcast, the pictures and the grandma fan club certainly went a long way towards making the day special.

    I’m glad she had a great Friday, because on Saturday evening she and Mimi both had their short, but fierce, turn with the stomach bug. Ah well, at least we got that nastiness out of the way in time for Christmas to still be healthy and special.

  • Life as a Parent

    Date: 2014.12.16 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah | Response: 1

    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. :)

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