I’ll Share

I’ve lost. 3 times I’ve lost. 3 children in heaven now. I’ll see them again one day.

But I’ve gained.

A full pregnancy, a c-section with no complications, 2 full size boys with no health issues, all of us discharged on day 4 of their lives, no NICU, healthy, happy boys. I’ve gained a nanny that doesn’t just come to my home and care for my sons, but loves them.

We made it nearly a year now, with only minor illnesses. I’ve held my children in my arms every day for a year.

What I have is increasingly become uncommon to me. I know more and more women that lose a child, that lose twins, that can’t carry a child. I’m surrounded by these hurting women and it puts me in a precarious position.

I’ve been there. I know there’s nothing I can say. I don’t rub my children in their faces, and I try to always listen while I hurt with them. I’m a fixer.

But I can’t fix this or help this.

I’m constantly looking for God’s place for me in this. I feel surely there is purpose here. I don’t know what it is yet, but I do know that…

I’ll share my kids. I know it’s not the same. But I have two happy boys full of love and anyone is free to spend time with them and love on them.

I’ll share the hugs & kisses.

I’ll share.

It may be all I can do right now, but if you want to be a part of their lives, be there. They will love you.

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The Time Between

I have two children, two sons. Neither child was ever the only child, such is the nature of twins. After being induced at 37 weeks, and being in labor 20 hours, dilating enough, and my children still not coming; we were taken back for a cesarean section.

I have no regrets about it. I believe you reach a point in labor, possibly before, where you release control & only want what’s best for your child(ren). I had a wonderful epidural and a great team of professionals the whole time. I got sick before the cut because (surprise, surprise) I’m allergic to various anesthesia. I remember it all so clearly. I remember shaking from the medicine and lying spread out on the table with Nathan on my left and the anesthesia technician rubbing my head. I remember them saying I lost a liter of blood.

& then there was Lincoln.

That’s my son. My happy, busy, joyous son. At 12:13 a.m., wiggling fiercely in Dr. Schlechter’s hands. Perfectly healthy. I didn’t cry, but the technician said, “Honey, breathe, you have to breathe.” I’d stopped breathing as he took his first breaths, and I hadn’t even realized. Time stopped right there. Right then, when my son was born, everything just stopped. It felt like the operating room moved in slow motion.

& then in fast forward as they handed Lincoln to Nathan. I’d never seen Nathan’s face look like that. The time between I believe is a unique experience to multiple moms. Most parents have months or years between their children. Their first born is a true first child and experiences their parents’ alone, my children do not really know this experience.

I just had a son…but I was still on the table. While I had joy to see my son, it was fleeting, and gone as he moved out of my line of sight. More doctors and nurses approached the table, splatters of blood hit my doctor. The time between, filled with concerned faces. I watched them all. Scrutinizing expressions, waiting for the cry, or the look of success.

I had a Lincoln, but he wasn’t with me anymore. He was being cleaned up. My baby wasn’t with me. My other baby, still unborn, struggling. How can a mother feel joy & panic at the same time?

It was the worst 3 minutes of my life.

& then there was Logan.

& time stopped again. At 12:16 a.m. “He was really hiding out in there.” My healthy son, my quiet, goofy, musically-inclined little guy. Immediately hungry from the start. His skin was darker, I remember repeating myself many times asking, “Is he okay? Is he breathing okay?” But his skin lightened with each passing minute. He was okay.

& time sped up again. Both my babies were with Nathan and things were okay. As the doctor cleaned me up & sewed me closed, she told me how Lincoln’s refusal to drop into natural delivery saved Logan’s life. How his umbilical cord would have hung him in natural labor. My brave little guys, one protecting the other from day 1.

The time between, those 3 whole minutes, can be filled with one word: Incomplete. The time between where my husband became a father and my entire worldview changed. The time between where I ceased to worry about the surgery, my health, or anything other than my children. Those 3 minutes where anxiety became a permanent fixture in my life, the only 3 minutes my children had ever been separated.

& Lincoln knew his brother was missing. The nurses were talking, “He’s looking for his twin,” and “He knows something (ahem, someone) is missing.” But God blesses these children and they were born unto us, cleaned & wrapped, placed together, sleepy and wiggling.

Perspective. In 3 minutes, 2 lives entered the world while countless more would be forever altered by them.

2018: Disaster

I’m woman enough to admit I can be a little bit judgmental & that I often have to check my thoughts at the door of my mouth. God’s not finished with me yet. I’m trying not to judge 2018 too harshly, but this year has been more unkind than 2017 and we’re a month & a half in.

I’ve had 3 dental procedures done; a 18 year old filling removed, a root canal, and a tooth shaping for my crown. Fourth dental appointment is set for 2 weeks from now. Hopefully my last appointment for a few months. I like my dentist a lot, but I have atrocious teeth (genetics and childhood were unkind to me) and high anxiety every time I walk in and smell that…dentist office smell. Fluoride? I’m not sure.

So I’ve missed 3 school days. And my class has lost its mind. My students have been more atrocious than my teeth this week. I actually sat down at my desk and cried Friday. One child noticed. Out of 21. That was discouraging. I also have one (well-meaning) Student now following me around telling me I should be less fat and eat salad for breakfast. Awesome. Again, discouraging. There have been meetings lately that leave me discouraged, “Your students are low…why are they low?”

I have a class of English learners. The lowest class I’ve ever been given. I work hard every day, they’ve made growth, I see it, but man, these meetings are beating me down. So many meetings, so little planning. I feel this is a gross injustice. Discouraging. I’m surrounded by many others at work that also feel discouraged.

My healthy son, Lincoln, got an ear infection. The medicine wiped out his good bacteria and then he got severe diaper rash, and now he has that plus a yeast infection. Ointment for days. Prescription ointment. He (insert sarcasm here) loves being pinned down, wiped down, & creamed every hour.

We’ve hit the 10 month growth spurt where the kids are popping teeth like daisies pop up in spring and we cry because we’re tired, but no one wants to nap…or sleep through the night anymore. Now we cry when adults eat food because we want their food, too, not our appropriate-sized food.

There was that mysterious day my car didn’t start. That was fun. 3 Uber trips.

Three of my friends have lost an unborn child so far this year. I hurt deeply for them. I’ve been in that place 3x over, that is a dark place. That is a hard place. There’s nothing I can say to relieve the grieving. Even though I can relate, it doesn’t help them.

Our lease is up in March. They raised our rent $330 and added $50 maintenance fees. So now we’re moving with babies in tow. Dreading it. Found a new place to live, started packing, but can’t move in until the middle of March. You know what’s fun? Transferring your address for everything. Getting a new license. Figuring out where your children’s first birthday is going to be in the midst of moving.

Good thing we’re moving because a neighbor down stairs is stalking us. She’s not 100% there and I pity her, but she has no boundaries and makes me uncomfortable. The water faucet in the tub broke and spewed only boiling water…so I couldn’t bathe the kids for days. I had to call the apartment office seven times before someone showed up to fix it. Astounding.

I started a diet since I have kids and no time to work out. It’s not going bad, but that’s kind of a drag.

God’s peace that passes all understanding prevails though. I struggle daily with things so far this year, but I have peace. I wouldn’t say I’m happy, but I’m okay.

I’m going to tell 2018 (& myself) the same thing I tell my students from time to time: Are you broken? Yes? How can we fix it? I need you to be fixed because things aren’t going okay.

So here are some positives for 2018 (because you have to balance life out):

  1. I started watching Parks & Recreation.
  2. I can fit into a size smaller jeans!
  3. 2 of my church family are having babies!
  4. Girl Scout Cookies
  5. Spring is close.
  6. I have the best friend a girl could hope for.
  7. I’ve been faithful to Scripture reading daily.
  8. I get to go on a date without kids on Wednesday!
  9. I have been mindful about my eating habits.
  10. For some reason Nathan is still putting up with me after 10 years.

Saturdays

Saturdays used to look different for me. I’d sleep in until 10 or later. Have a leisurely coffee while making my husband and myself cinnamon rolls or eggs with toast. We’d lay around on the couch and watch tv, a movie, browse the net. Maybe go out to eat for lunch. I’d write lesson plans in the afternoon for the week ahead. Make a big home cooked dinner. Go to the gym, run some miles off. Go run errands; grocery shop, go to the post office, pick up prescriptions.

That was LBK (life before kids).

It’s Saturday night now. Let me regale you with my day.

I got up at 6. After the twins woke up eight times last night, because they do that during growth spurts. I am so well rested (feel the sarcasm?). Nevertheless the kids were so happy to see us. Sitting up in bed, jabbering and clapping. Spent half an hour getting them up. Half an hour? You say? Yes, half an hour. Half an hour to strip them both out of pajamas, wipe them down, change their diapers, put them in play clothes, feed them solids, and then feed them bottles. All before coffee. Because my children don’t care if I’ve had my coffee.

Breakfast protein shake.

Then I round up the night bottles and wash them, make new ones. Do dishes as my children try climbing into the dishwasher. Diaper. Bottle. Solids. Play. Laundry all day long. Because four people live here, and the smallest people change clothes on average 3 times a day. Diaper. Bottle. Solids. Play.

I order groceries to be delivered to my door. Diaper. Bottle. Solids. Play. Because two babies means I can’t go to the grocery store. How would I navigate a two kid stroller and a grocery cart? I’m laughing while I think about it. Groceries arrive, put those away.

I didn’t check the mail today. Or yesterday for that matter. Take out the trash. Twice, because diapers. Diaper. Bottle. Solids. Play. Make rotel for the Super Bowl. Make a nice family meal that the kids can try. Make a meal for church fellowship meal. Dishes again. Diaper. Bottle. Solids. Play.

At some point, I look hassled enough that Nathan says, “Go take a nap.” I do. Talk to family on the phone. Remind myself: Text your friends, you need to keep your friends. It’s too hard to make new friends. It’s too much work.

Diaper. Bottle. Solids. Play. Cuddle with babies. Watch an episode of Survivor. Make my kids laugh. Practice skills: Waving, clapping, high five, shake, nod, fist bump. Read them a story. Diaper. Bottle. Solids. Play.

I didn’t do any school work today. I didn’t even think about it, to be honest. It’s a busy life. So busy. Sometimes I miss the before. I miss lazy Saturdays. I miss dates.

But I like the now. I like how my babies smile at me. I like how they cuddle up to me and follow me around while I do chore after chore saying, “Mama.” I know people always say the chores can wait, but I love in the real world, someone’s gotta do the work. My kids don’t mind, they come with me. These little people want to be with me.

It’s a busy life, but I don’t regret it. My day ends with happy babies all around.

You’re {NOT} Gonna Miss This…

I’m always hearing how I’m going to miss this stage of life, but per a discussion with my mom-friend, Katie, I felt prompted to write about the things I won’t miss. A real list, by a real mom. Buckle up, it’s a bumpy ride.

I won’t miss…

  • Pregnancy
  • Nausea & Morning Vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Not being able to take effective OTC medications
  • Compression socks
  • Back braces
  • Breastfeeding
  • Pumping
  • Lost sleep
  • Nervous breakdowns
  • Loss of freedom
  • Anxiety
  • Crying hysterically
  • Being peed on
  • Being pooped on
  • Being vomited on
  • Being vomited on & into my mouth
  • Buying diapers
  • Buying wipes
  • Being 3 large cans of formula a week
  • Baby fingernails
  • Sick infants
  • Needing the help of others
  • Strangers comments in public
  • The expectations put on new mothers
  • Buying baby equipment or toys only to discover baby hates them
  • Watching baby get shots
  • Jaundice
  • C-section recovery
  • Unpredictable menstrual cycles
  • Baby fight club
  • Baby jealousy
  • “You’ve Got Your Hands Full!”
  • “They’re identical, right?”
  • “I don’t know how you do it, I couldn’t.”
  • “Wouldn’t you rather have had one of each?”
  • Those bulb nose suckers
  • Carrying my children up & down the stairs to the hall
  • How EVERYTHING goes in their mouths & the paranoia of cleaning out their mouths
  • Trying to make plans
  • Finding a sitter
  • Not being able to do things spontaneously
  • Puke in the car seat

Honestly, there’s probably so much more. This is just off the top of my head. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my kids, I love being a mom, but this stage of life is hard. I don’t like pretending that it’s not.

In fact, for clarity, I’m sitting here in my pajamas. The same ones I’ve been wearing for 3 days. I didn’t shower today. (I brushed my teeth & dry shampooed.) I didn’t leave the house today.

But my kids were bathed, fed, changed, napped, & played with. The thing is, my babies don’t judge me. My babies don’t care how much weight I’ve lost since their birth. They don’t care that I can’t remember the last time I hit the gym or that I didn’t wear makeup today. My babies don’t care that I take anxiety meds to feel better daily or that I dry shampooed instead of showered because I wanted to hold them a little longer. My kids care that I showed up & was actively present in their lives, here & loving them.

Be Strong; Be Kind

When I lived with my mom or my parents off & on through the years, most every night she would kiss me goodnight & say, “I pray for you to be strong.”

I guess she probably did pray for this. But I often wondered if my mother praying for my strength had the same effect of when I’ve prayed for patience. Have you ever felt you suffered greater trials when praying for patience, as I have? I wonder if her prayers for my strength brought more pain.

Probably best if I don’t dwell on that line of thought.

I spent a lot of years being strong. Being strong is hard work. Being strong is exhausting. All that being said, the years I had to be strong were when I was a child. I spent s lot of years trying to fulfill this nightly command. I remember thinking that if I cried I’d be a disappointment.

I can’t be a disappointment. It goes against some part of my moral code.

So I cried at school, or after everyone was asleep. I cried because I couldn’t change the circumstances I was subjected to. I cried because I was too young to change my life. & then I’d wake up & be strong. But I have been strong when I’ve needed to be strong. I have survived many difficult years. It…worked out, I guess.

I don’t pray for my baby boys to be strong. I don’t want them to feel obligated to never cry or let their guard down. I try to create a life in which they don’t have to be strong, they don’t have to survive, they don’t need to cry because they can’t change their lives, and they don’t weep because of what they’ve been subjected to. They cry because they’re jealous of one another, they’re rotten & understand the feeding schedule, & they’re eager for more life.

I do tell them to be kind.

Every day.

For the most part, they are. Perhaps that’s what I want most for them; to be kind citizens of the world. I guess as a mother, you just do the best you can. I believe all moms are trying to do simply that.

Maybe we’re best a combination of this quote from the new Cinderella:

I Was Taught Wrong

My doctor prescribed me anxiety medicine for the first year with children. She said I’d need it. She said it would help with the panic attacks. She said it’d help my blood pressure. She said it’d ease my headaches. And I smirked in my head because I’ve been taught that you don’t need medications for feelings, you don’t need medications for your head. But I needed relief. That was back in August.

She was right. I do feel better. The panic attacks are gone. I can breathe. I don’t feel doomed or inept. My blood pressure has been tip top. I’m not a feeling-less zombie. I’m not unbalanced without anxiety medication.

I was taught wrong.

I cannot imagine continuing on the journey of full time teaching while being a mother of twins feeling the way I get in August. I would cry hysterically because I was so overwhelmed by my job, by being away from my children, etc until I was a feeling-less zombie. In case you were taught wrong, too, I’m here to liberate you, it is okay to treat anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc. You take care of your body when it’s not well, why wouldn’t you take care of your mind?

It’s a roller coaster. Balancing this home life and work life ordeal. It’s full of ups and downs and just when you think you’re finding a rhythm…the bottom drops out again. It’s not a bad life, but there are some challenging phases.

The current challenge: Illness.

My home can’t stay healthy. It’s so hard and defeating. Nathan had a cold, then Lincoln. Then Logan & I got eye infections. Then Logan got a cold, then I had the flu. Then everyone had a cold. Logan had an ear infection. Now Logan has the flu.

& I’m just sitting here like

Mama needs a break.

But for now, just another cup of coffee. Because my blood pressure is fabulous. Because I am calm. No panic attacks here. No flipping out. No hysterical crying. Just a lot of praying, a couple cups of coffee daily, and the love of twins. 🤷‍♀️.

“You’ve Got Your Hands Full!”

“You’ve got your hands full!” The phrase that draws a wry smile from my lips and rolled eyes when I turn the corner. Yes, yes, I know. Twin boys. Infant twin boys. Crawling, jabbering baby boys. Lincoln is pulling some mangoes off the shelf while Logan watches him.

I’ve my hands full. Full of babies. Full of diapers and bottles and wipes. Full of feeding schedules, sleeping schedules, & two working parents. Hands full of 45+ pounds going up and down the stairs to second floor home while wiggling and crying, shouting and giggling.

I’ve my hands full. There’s not a moment of the day that I forget it. There’s not a moment of the night that I forget it. I’m a mother. A mother of twins. When I dream, I dream of my children, as many mothers do. I don’t dream often, because I’m tired. I’m tired because my children keep me on my toes. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I dare venture out with my boys to the grocery store, I’m there because I need to be. We need to be there. I’m not there as entertainment. My kids aren’t there to show off. We don’t need the reminder that I’ve got my hands full. No one in this family needs the pity of strangers.

My hands are full of love. My hands are full of family. My thoughts are consumed with the most important people in my life. My life has purpose.

If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart. My hands are full, but as I evaluate my choices of what to hold on to; I wonder if there would be something better to keep my hands full…

…but I don’t think so. 😊

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.

Somedays

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.