Dear Sweet 9 Month Old Baby

Dear 9 Month Old Baby,

I love the way you fall asleep staring into my eyes, softly touching my face. I love your soft hair and pushing it around you head. I love the way you reach for me when you wake up, when I come home, or walk into the room. I love your long eyelashes and how they lay across your cheeks. I love how you know and understand when I say, “Come to Mama.” I love your little nose, but I just hate when it’s running raw. I love how you splash in the bath and blow bubbles all around. I love watching you play with your brother. I love how you gurgle like a Wookiee. I love how you move with purpose. I love how everything is an adventure; from the toilet to a wooden spoon. I love how you babble on to yourself, is, or the tv. I love when you hold your pacifier like a monocle. I love how you have your own blanket. I love how you roll over on your belly when you sleep. I love that you love routines. I love that you just want to play or cuddle. I love that you are a total goober. I love that you hate socks. I love how you stare at yourself in the mirror. I love feeling your heartbeat. I love how you sigh in your sleep. I love seeing you love your dad and brother.

I’m pretty sure you love me & I’m terrified one day you’ll wake up & you won’t.



Some days are tough days.

Today was some day. Today one of my not-quite-9-Months-old twins had a day. Today he was finicky. Today he was persnickety. Today he was all kinds of particular and peculiar.

Maybe it was the cold he’s getting over. Perhaps it’s yet another mental leap. I suppose his acid reflux flared up again. Who knows? I’m just a mom that doesn’t speak smallish person. I can only interpret.

Today he refused two different solid foods. He didn’t finish his bottles, yet begged for more. He didn’t want to play with his twin. He wanted to be held but to be fiercely independent. He wanted to play, but only his way. And then there was the whining. The whimpering. The fake crying. The shouting. The flailing. How about crying when brother crawled over to hand him a toy? He didn’t want to nap, but rubbed his eyes. There wasn’t a fever.

Then he peed on Daddy. While Daddy cleaned up himself, I took care of the baby. I tried all the things. Fed him. Changed him. Held him. He was all cleaned up and in his jammies.

Then he threw up. Everywhere. Out his nose even. So I cleaned him up again. Stripped him down. Daddy bathed him. Then Daddy had to get clean again. Dressed him on new jammies and wrapped him for bed. Fed him, so he wouldn’t cry again for food in 20 minutes. Burped him. More reflux medicine.

He’s quiet now. Laying here watching me and his eyelids equally.

Some days are rough days. Today was a tough day for Logan-bear. It’s easy to get frustrated or mad. I picture Noah shouting at Allie in The Notebook, “What do you want?!”

& then I remember he almost wasn’t. He could’ve been a lost one or a not one. He simply could’ve not been here. We shouldn’t have had kids, let alone twins. Second twins struggle more.

& then I remember my dearest friends, my friends that would cut off their right hand for a baby and all his problems. Just to have a child to call their own.

& I remember how my baby looks like me. & he smiles like me. Simultaneously the goofy guy & the serious little man. & I can’t imagine doing anything else than spending my Wednesday night with him, his brother, & his father. All my men, brought into my life by God’s gracious hand.

& I take the some days, even covered in pee & vomit, and I hold them close to my heart because I know some days aren’t forever & some days don’t even exist for others.

Unwanted Words

It was a passing comment that spurred me to write today’s blog.  It wasn’t even a comment made to me, but it was about my children-so I have definite thoughts on it.  Our nanny was out with the twins, and I suppose their stroller does take up a good bit of space and a man waiting in line behind her was inconvenienced trying to move around them and said something along the lines of, “You should have controlled that, two too many,” remarking about my twins.

She was nicer than I would have been, to be honest, but she was so angry that she called me to tell me about the man & his remark.  As my husband said, “He should’ve kept his thoughts to himself.”

I get it.  I spend all day with my first grade students and often refer to them as my kids.  I spend so much time with them that I accept responsibility for them and I love them.  I know our nanny feels the same way about our twins.  She spends all day with them and loves them and cares for them while we do our jobs; because let’s be real having twins requires 2 salaries.

At first I was angry about that man.  Lately however, I’ve been praying for him; this opinionated, arrogant, ignorant man.  This man doesn’t know how many women struggle to have children.  This man doesn’t know that their nanny isn’t their young mother.  This man doesn’t know their mother is 29 and a public school teacher.  This man doesn’t know how refreshing it can be taking 8 month old twins out of the house for a change of scenery.  He doesn’t know how much effort it takes to get them out of the house, into the car seats, then into the stroller, pack up the gear and back again.  He doesn’t know about vanishing twin syndrome.  He doesn’t know that a dear friend of mine was touched by it while I was pregnant and that I was so scared to lose “baby b” the same way.  He doesn’t know that I cried when we made it to 15 weeks and found out the twins were boys.  He doesn’t know that my OBGYN doesn’t perform abortions or multiple eliminations like other doctors.  He doesn’t know the risks and horrors I put my body through to carry these twins full term and healthy.  He doesn’t know that I cried when Logan made it to the 20 week mark which raised his odds of surviving our multiple pregnancy significantly.  Even if I could’ve controlled how many kids I had, I simply cannot fathom my life without either child. I cannot imagine life with Lincoln, our active bull in a china shop, always hungry, a little bit chunky, smiley and happy.  I cannot imagine life with Logan, our goofy little guy, always sticking his tongue out, constantly shouting for Dada.

This man probably knows that it’s hard to have twins, but what he doesn’t know is God chose twins for us for reasons even we don’t know.  He doesn’t know that these are likely our only children.  He doesn’t know how many people love our children, and how we endeavor to give them a normal life full of love.

I wish I could say this was the first time I heard this kind of comment about our children.  It’s not.  I’m not angry anymore.  Who can be angry when they have 2 happy (even if they do have colds) babies looking up at them?


All the Creatures Were Stirring…

These days I find my home to be quite noisy. There’s shouting, gibberish, giggles, coos, cries, the constant sound of the television; all the creatures are stirring, right down to Alba who is running away from Lincoln, who might I add, is a mighty fast crawler. This isn’t a place of rest for adults & it’s rare you find a silent night. I often drive home from work in silence to decompress from 36 first graders and to prepare myself to be around my 8 month old twin boys.

At this given moment Logan is snoring & Lincoln is conked out, a rare but simultaneous nap offering a glimmer of peace. It’s nice, I won’t lie.

Sometimes I find myself worn down and missing the peaceful days of yore, when I could sleep in on Saturdays, or come home from work and take a much needed nap. These days there are bottles to be made, laundry to be put away, children to keep up with, etc. Yet…here I sit paused with my kids.

I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to convey here, but it’s true what they say, the time seems to be slipping faster and faster. I used to be able to hold my sons in one arm, then both on my chest, but these days each boy weighs 20+ pounds. I can hold one on me and one beside me at best. It is exhausting. Their personalities shine so brightly now. I see us in them.

I’m scared I’m going to miss it.

I don’t want to wake up to their childhood gone. My 8 month boys wear 9 month clothes. Lincoln has six teeth. Crawling. Pulling up. Begging for table food. Speaking a few words.

Lincoln is outgoing and active. He’s always moving, he’s only gentle when he’s tired. He’s quirky and funny.

Logan is reserved in all ways. He laughs at himself and is more timid. He watches people and couldn’t hurt a fly.

They shout and chatter at each other. The crawl over each other. Push. Tears. Baths in the real tub. Splashing. Water everywhere. This week I put away their rock & plays, 6 month clothes, sit up seats, & the baby swing. They’ve outgrown their use or don’t want to use them anymore. Because babies grow. My kids are growing up & I am scared.

I’m so scared I’m going to mess them up.

& for the record, I don’t need anyone telling me this is an irrational fear. The things I’ve lived through, sometimes even I’m surprised I didn’t end up in prison with a criminal record.

The doctors have told me over the years that coping with PTSD can be difficult, especially with how I chose to cope as a child. I blocked painful things out. The problem with that coping mechanism is that it leaves holes in your memory. My memories look like Swiss cheese. If I don’t write it down, it might as well be lost.

I’m scared I’ll forget something.

I take all the pictures and fill out the baby books and pray I don’t develop Alzheimer’s. I take anxiety medicine because my fears terrorize me and I try to only hear one out at a time. For the last 8 months I’ve heard that song in the back of my mind, “You’re gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast. These are some good times, so take a good look around…you may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this.”

I think the song is probably right. I don’t really think any part of me could forget this, my little boys, my family, and I guess for now, I just keep doing the best I can. Because I don’t want to miss this right now.

Merry Birthday

My mother’s birthday is Friday. She’d be 59 this year. I was thinking about her earlier today, sharing this story with a friend & colleague…& I thought maybe you needed it, too. 

I grew up very poor, often in foster care or homes of family members. But I have always loved Christmas, despite the yeats there were no gifts. I’ve always loved the sense of family, the decorations, the food, the stories, going to church, but especially the tree. Even when there were no gifts, there was the tree. The magical plastic tree that calmed my mom, and silenced fights. The beautiful sparkling lights that twinkled like stars. I loved laying under the tree and staring up through its branches and pretending I was in a magical firefly or fairy forest where nothing bad happened. See, this is how a survivor child thinks. 

Anyway, I remember one year when I was living with my mom, maybe I was 7 or 8, we were poor. Especially poor. On my birthday. I didn’t expect gifts, but I think it hurt my mom not to have the money to make a cake. Anyway, my mom woke up at midnight on my birthday and pulled me to the living room. Where she had set up the Christmas tree just for me. To make me happy for my birthday. In August. She laid under the tree with me and we slept there that night. It’s one of my best memories of my mother. Despite how crazy the neighbors would think it was. Despite how untraditional it was. It was a magical memory. 

You don’t have to buy someone’s love or respect, just invest time in the person they are becoming. I try to remind myself of this as I have my own kids now. I’m not perfect, but I’m present & that’s more important. 

I Don’t Know You

 So this thought has been rumbling around in my brain lately. My babies are 7 months old now. They’re not squishy & new, but I like them so much more now. 

They have definitive personalities. They are night & day, truly my Sun and Moon. They’re growing teeth (well, Lincoln is), sitting unsupported (95% of the time),crawling & pulling up, and babbling. We had our first words and they sleep well. They’re happy kids, smart & social. Lincoln did a modeling gig and if Logan hadn’t had bad reflux that day he would’ve, too; so I can only assume they’re beautiful boys. 

Lincoln & Logan, 7 Months Old

I’ve never been prouder of anything I’ve ever made. They’re people. My children are redemption for me. Redemption from the family I came from, from the family I survived. I have my own family now. One where no one drinks or does drugs. One where my kids know they’re loved and treated like people instead of animals. I find redemption in my home. I find love here. 

I also find people I expect to be part of their lives…absent. It’s discouraging. I could bring my kids to them, but honestly I am too tired. Twins are a lot of work. My kids are great. The world hasn’t screwed them up yet. We haven’t screwed them up yet.  They’re so small. Still new. Perfectly lovable. I can’t think of a reason anyone wouldn’t love them. But all the same, the missing presence speaks volumes to my mama heart. 

The people that love Lincoln & Logan love them fiercely. I’m so thankful. I was just talking to a dear friend the other day sharing with her that the greatest thing is watching people who love you…loving your kids. If you can’t love my sons, let me clear, right now it’ll be hard for me to love you…because they are the best thing I currently have to offer the world. My great hope is that they will improve this world instead of adding to its detriment. 

If my best isn’t good enough, you know where the door is, I won’t beg you to be in their life. Or mine. ✌🏻But just know, you’re missing out. 

Aunt Lala loving on her twinephews.

Uncle Patrick & Taylor on day 1.

Grandpa John & Logan

The Rain

Have you heard the song “Bring the Rain” by Mercy Me? I’ve loved it since I was in high school, many moons ago. I had my iTunes on shuffle the other day & this song came on. I had to pull the car over because I started crying & I couldn’t quit crying. I love singing along with songs in the car, but the words rang so raw in my ears I couldn’t even form the words without crying.

“Bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free, bring me anything that brings You glory…& I know there’ll be days when this life brings me pain, but if that’s what it takes to praise You…Jesus, bring the rain.”

God really has given so much to me and my family in the last few years. I can say He has given graciously and generously with both hands. While so many around me were touched with infertility, we were given twins. When others around me struggled, I was in graduate school with almost no cost. My health stayed level for years. There have been many peaceful years.

Right now I am not in a peaceful season of life. I have 2 very demanding babies. I have less time and sleep and energy than I’ve ever had. Working full time. Teaching has never felt so demanding, so challenging. Every time I turn around I’m sitting in a required meeting or being told of another outside of school event. Nathan has night classes twice a week. My car was wrecked badly. Two months ago. It’s still not fixed. The insurance company of the other driver has been the worst. My heart is in the process of shrinking down (enlarged from the long twin pregnancy). While my car was wrecked, Nathan’s car needs to be replaced because it has real problems. Between the cars and the babies there’s the finances. The stress has been so heavy.

The panic attacks, so many.

Fact: Before July I had never had a panic attack in my entire life. Now I can’t go 2 days without feeling like I can’t breathe. (I’m seeing a doctor about this now.)

Truly it just feels like I’ve entered the wilderness. Wandering in the desert. Not to sound gloomy, but sometimes when I think things are starting to improve…something new and horrific happens.

It’s easy to serve God when He’s giving & generous and you feel His presence. But when the nights are dark, and He takes with both hands…trusting that His plan is sovereign…much easier said than done.

I stopped my daily study reading through Job to change and focus through Psalms. It was becoming just too discouraging. That chorus posted above from “Bring the Rain” has become my personal prayer. I’ll be here psychologically surviving. I seem to be living in a season where others say “just live day to day,” and I can only live hour to hour. Speaking of which, while the boys are still napping this hour demands the laundry to be put away. (When doesn’t it? I do a load every day.)

If you’re there in the rain, just know I’m there with you, waiting to hear His voice. I know we will make it through in this hour, let’s head to the next one. I hope it includes some sleep.

What Twin Pregnancy Left Me With

Herein lies 5 things that come to mind about my 6 month postpartum journey. 

5. Arthritis

Every joint and bend in my body just aches. I can tell you every ounce of weight my boys gain because when I carry them I can feel it quite literally in my bones. On a side note: My weather predictions are more on point than the Weather Channel. 

4. Postpartum Anxiety

It started to settle in around the time the boys turned 4, maybe 4.5 months old. The feeling of overwhelming drowning & things never working in my favor. The panic attacks have consumed many days, and they’re almost never actually about the twins. The car, the car wreck, all the things were being asked to do at work, the people relying on me for help & guidance. It’s not the kids, it’s everything else. Some days are completely fine, I go unscathed. Other days I live on the brink.  

3. Audiobooks

I’ve heard parents don’t have time to read. Try being a twin mom. I’m currently listening to Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire on audiobook on my drives in the morning & afternoons. It provides me with a way to decompress because it is so noisy inside my head. 

2. A Better Husband, Than I Am A Wife

Nathan seemingly has infinite patience with me. I can’t imagine being him on my hard days. Coming home to a maxed out wife and two infants after doing manual labor all day? Sheesh. I don’t know if he just arises to the challenge or if it’s specifically being a dad that’s done it, but he rises above the chaos and stabilizes our home. 

1. 2 Happy Boys

For all the chaos and aches, tears and pains the twins remain two happy little clams. Growing and laughing, cuddling and cooing. They seem immune to the hardships that they have their tiny little hands in. I wouldn’t trade them for all the potatoes in the world. 

Which is saying something, if you know me. 

September 6, 2009

Eight years ago it was September 6, 2009. A Sunday. I remember that detail because I got the phone call before I had woken up to start getting ready for church. It was my senior year in undergrad at Welch College. Back when it was Free Will Baptist Bible College on West End Avenue. Right after Nathan and I had gotten engaged (less than a month after).

I knew. They wouldn’t tell me anything on the phone. I woke up my roommate and told her, “Can you drive me to the hospital? I don’t think I can drive. I don’t think I should drive today. It’s my mom, I think she’s gone. They won’t tell me anything, but I feel like she’s gone.”

& she was. I was 21 and my mom was gone. 

It was a beautiful sunny autumn day. It was one of those days in September when you wake up and the air is just a little bit crisper here in Tennessee and you cannot almost taste autumn in the air. Of course summer wasn’t really over, as it goes in Tennessee, I remember it was much hotter the day we buried her…but that Sunday it was crisp and sunny and clear. 

I was so scattered we went to the wrong hospital. When I did get to the hospital, they took me into a conference room. I remember Becky holding my hand. I remember the floral flats I was wearing. I remember staring at them and waiting. Waiting for a long time. Then a doctor came in. He seemed nice. An older man with sad eyes. He asked me if my parents were still married. He asked me about my siblings and asked me about my mom’s family. Then he told me gently with crossed hands calmly clasped together that my mom was gone. He kept talking, but I didn’t hear anything else he said. 

I do remember the nurse that put her hand on my shoulder. She had pink nails. One of the nails was chipped. She had a kind, open face. I remember my roommate holding my arm. 

“Would you like to go see her?”

“See her? She’s gone. No, I don’t want to see what’s left. No, no, that sounds awful.”

I called my dad. I remember begging my dad to come handle it. I remember saying relatedly, “I’m 21. I’m 21. I don’t know how to do this. I can’t do this. I’m not old enough to do this. I can’t be this adult.”  To my dad’s credit, he quickly said he’d deal with it and told me to put someone on the phone. I signed papers and left the hospital four hours later. When I walked out of Centennial, I walked out without the safety net most people call “Mom.”

At some point I called Nathan. Or someone told him & he called me. I don’t exactly remember. I remember he had found out after church. I remember Stephanie showing up. We all went to the movies and I saw Ponyo. I cried because the little fish-girl didn’t really have a mother either. Exceptionally strange and beautiful movie. I own it of course. 

I remember going back to college that afternoon. I remember being worried that people would want to talk to me about it & I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want pity. I didn’t want the attention. I didn’t to attempt to explain how things were between me and mom. I sat on the ledge outside the music building until the sun started going down. 

I went to bed that night, but didn’t sleep. Then I slept for days. Lots of nightmares. I remember people had found out and were worried about me, but mostly I wanted to be alone. Because the reality was

I was alone. & I needed to figure out how that was supposed to be. 

It turned out fine, I guess. I got married the next year when I was 22. I finished undergrad that year, too. I became a teacher a year after that. Now I have kids. I watched my brothers become men. I’ve worried about my dad every day since I lost my mom. 

(Something happens when you lose a parent. The other parent increases in value x2, because they’re all you have. When they’re gone, you’re an orphan. )

Wrap you mind around that. My mom missed her only daughter graduate college. She missed her daughter achieve her dream. She missed her only daughter’s wedding. She missed her grandchildren. She missed her baby boys grow up. She missed them graduating high school. She missed so much life. Do you know she would’ve loved it all? You can’t tell me she wouldn’t love my babies. She’d be living with us by now if she was still alive so she could be near them. I don’t have a mom anymore, I’m a brand new mom, with no mom; I remember this time last year when I was pregnant and I was heartbroken about this concept. My children have one grandma, that’s all they’ve ever had. My husband has no mother in law. I have no mother. My brother has no mother. 

The last thing I’ll say on the subject is my mom was such a sad soul. Love your parents. One day you’ll wake up, maybe on a beautiful sunny day, and you won’t have the. 

Rainbow Brite, Murky Dismal, & the Color Kids

I was born in 1988, the late half the of the 80s, and I typically identify as a child of the 90s, because those are the years I remember as a child.  I remember during the years I did live with my mom, she would often take us to the library.  I would spend as much time as possible there, picking out books.  Books were the way I escaped the harder parts of my childhood.  However, our small library did have videos we could check out as well.  It was the only way we could rent movies, because Blockbuster and Movie Gallery were for families that had money, which we did not.  In particular, I remember watching various Rainbow Brite films on VHS.  Any 80s kids nodding out there?

Rainbow Brite

I wanted to be Rainbow Brite.  She’s exactly what you’re imagining if you’re looking at her not knowing her now.  She’s upbeat, she’s optimism, she’s a problem solver, she’s joy embodied, she’s kind, she’s friendly.  Rainbow Brite is all the good things.  See that little white creature riding on the horse behind her?  That’s her sprite, Twink.  I actually still have this doll somewhere.  I’m semi-determined to find him and bring him to school now.

The thing is, lately I’m not feeling very Rainbow Brite.  I’m feeling a lot more like this unibrowed villian:

Murky Lurky

Murky Dismal and his (giant) sidekick Lurky.  Murky lives in The Pits.  He is gloomy, loves the clouds, and just feels like a downer all the time.  He’s overwhelmed by adulthood.  Yes, Murky, me too. 

But here I sit, day in, day out, relating a lot more to Murky Dismal than Rainbow Brite.  Adulting has been so hard these days.  & no, it’s not because I have twin babies and I work full time.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever been so overwhelmed by the circumstances of life that you feel like you are drowning! (raises hand)  & the sad part is, I am surrounded by people in the same boat.  Complaining or even discussing the hard days just brings us all down together & I don’t want to be responsible for sinking the boat.  What’s a girl to do?  I am fairly certain there isn’t a single area in the major domains of my life that has not had more than it’s share of difficulty thrown at it.  Children.  Marriage.  Finances.  Health.  Transportation.  & Work.  There are days where I drive home from work and I just cry about the day I’ve had.

Reader, I am not a crier.  I am not overly sensitive.  If anything, I’m more prone to just shutting down & shutting out life’s issues. 

I’ve sat in meetings, doctor’s offices, stayed up most of the night, discussed with my closest & wisest friends and I’m quite sad to say the result hasn’t changed, the circumstances can’t be helped.  There is nothing I can do to change the tide, I’ve been dealt a hand that I must play for the next year, all the while knowing, that not all the cards I’m holding are worth the trouble of effort I will have to put into playing them.  I don’t know how to Rainbow Brite the days ahead.  I’m also not the sort that wants to drag others down with me.  I don’t want pity. I think the worst of it is, the people around me are going through similar seasons of discouragement. I love encouraging others & loving on them when I’m at my best, but here I sit worn down & in survival mode day-to-day. Mentally & emotionally. You cannot give what you do not have. I know this is a season, but why are so so many in this season with me? This is not one of those seasons of life where it’s the more the merrier, quite the opposite. Pity party of 10? No thanks. 

Some days my only joy is coming home to my little family.

 They quite remind me of the Color Kids. 

So full of joy and goodness. All I know day to day is this: “Things have to happen when they do. Sometimes it’s storms & sometimes it’s rainbows. Don’t forget to look up.” So I’ll keep looking up. Maybe the storm will break soon. Maybe I’ll find an umbrella. Or maybe I’all weather the storm in a boat.