for posterity…

So, for posterity’s sake, and so our children know how crazy their parents are, I am posting a copy of the baby sitting notes we left for my awesome brother Andy and his fantastic girlfriend Lauren.  This was from a few months ago.

I don’t believe any further introduction is warranted.  The note reads as follows:

Andy, Lauren – Your mission, which you’ve already chosen to accept, is to KEEP THESE BABIES ALIVE FOR 8 HOURS! Also, they will try to kill you as well. Try to avoid that. Make no mistake, these are pretty indestructible little monsters, but they’ll try their best to test their indestructability.

  • 5:00-6:00 Play with them in their play–pen. They like to be tickled, play peek-a-boo, be bounced on a knee, and continue their nun-chuck training.
  • 6:00 They’ll start getting pissy around this time. This means they’re hungry. First, change their diapers. Diaper training 101:
  1. Remove outer garments.
  2. Slide clean diaper under soiled diaper
  3. Check for hidden explosives
  4. Remove soiled diaper. Place out of reach of little monster.
  5. Secure diaper at belly–button
  6. Replace outer garments.
  • It’s now time to feed the little “angels”. Their food is in the fridge. Bibs are on the chairs. It doesn’t matter who gets what, just so that it’s even. Throw it in the microwave for about 20 seconds so that it’s warm. When they’re done eating, give them a bottle. The bottles are put together and in the corner of the kitchen counter. Put 3 ounces of formula in each bottle. Then add 3 ounces of HOT water to the bottle. If they still seem hungry, give them some puffs that are on the counter (NOT the bourbon sitting next to the puffs – the bourbon is for you). These also placate them while you’re warming up the food.
  • 6:30-6:50 These gremlins LOVE to barf. It’s how they mark their territory. They need to stay in their seats for 20 – 30 minutes after dinner to let things settle. There are two suction cup toys that you can stick on their trays.
  • 7:00-7:45 Continue playing in the pen.
  • 7:45 Change diapers (see above) and put on pjs and sleep sacks. Sit on the floor and read a few stories out of the kiddie bible we set out.
  • 8:00 Lights out. Their vision is based on movement in both bright light and darkness, but they can’t see in dim light. Dim the lights to just above dark. Ocean sounds also seem to distract them and disrupt their plotting. Press the second from bottom button on the back of the sheep with the beret (I can’t believe I just wrote that) for wave sounds. They may cry for a bit. Let them cry. The taste of tears is a natural sedative for them. If still crying after 5 minutes, give them a binky. DO NOT PICK THEM UP. It’s probably just a ruse. We’ll be back around 12 – 12:30. Call if you need anything. God be with you.

Now, I would’ve just scanned in a copy of the actual note and/or saved the original in the twins’ baby boxes.

Unfortunately, I can’t do that.

Why?

Because the next day, the twins ate the note.

No really.  They. ate. the. note.

Have you ever had to tell your childcare provider to check the diapers for a quarter sheet of 60# bright white copy paper?

We have.

It rocks.

eleven months. ELEVEN MONTHS.

A year ago, I was pregnant. Very, very pregnant. And I loved it! I thought I still had another 10 weeks to go. Oh, how wrong I was!

And now?

Now our girls are <THIS CLOSE> to walking. Carrie stands up on her own, not even needing anything to pull up on.  Ellie stands up by pulling up whatever she get her hands on.

The girls are deliciously perfect, even in their imperfection.  Sure, they resist having their faces washed or noses cleaned, but whatever. They are my messy little loves and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Miss Carrie & Miss Ellie watching a documentary on foreign cultures. Or Baby Einstein... What?!

At nearly 11 months, the girls are still sleeping CHAMPS. In bed by 8 at the late end, up between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. I gotta say, it’s much easier to have twins when you can get a full night’s sleep…

Miss Ellie

All about Ellie

Miss Ellie is just a snuggling, cuddling bundle of love. When I think of her, I think of a peaceful summer morning, when all is quiet and still and the dew is just starting to evaporate under the warming sun.  She reminds me of the quiet, radiant expectation of the day to come. When she wants to be held, she crawls right over, trying to get in my lap and get her cuddles.  She is a good little eater, trying everything I give her. She is a little bit more apprehensive about strangers, but she warms up when she’s given some time to absorb the new people.  She is a FAST crawler – getting across the room with her quick, staccato crawl in no-time flat. Ellie loves to look at books, examine small tags on toys and hunt down fuzzies on the ground. No doubt her vision is excellent – she finds the smallest of fuzzies on the floor!

It also appears her red hair is here to stay for the time being.  We’ve even noticed a few curls coming in, which is fun since I’ve spent most of my life trying to add curl and volume to my hair.

Miss Carrie's signature smile/laugh!

All about Carrie

Miss Carrie is a vibrant sparkler.  She and her sister are from the same warm summer day in my mind, but Carrie is definitely the mid-afternoon.  Hot sunshine, kids playing and splashing in the water, boats racing around the lake with water skiers in tow and the sound of screen doors clapping as children dart in and out of the house.  She is a sharp little cookie – she notices things and is constantly pursuing something – my cell phone, her sister’s pacifier, the remote control, etc, etc. Carrie loves people.  I put her in the front of the stroller because I can tell how much she loves engaging everyone. She is a little more selective in what she will eat – girlfriend LOVES her carbs (um, like her mom much??) and chugs liquids like it’s going out of style (that is totally her daddy).

Carrie is finally getting some hair in and it’s coming in a medium brown, but it is mostly growing in the back… with any luck it will even out before high school!

It’s hard to not compare the girls since they are the same exact age. I find myself wondering at how different they are, even though they are twins.  Ellie has this beautiful swirling colic in the back of her head, like an angel swirled Ellie’s hair around their finger delicately.  Carrie’s colic is almost like the same angel laughed joyfully, spreading Carrie’s hair straight out from the center.

The girls play so well together, imitating each other and us. Tonight Carrie was raising her hands over her head and laughing and Ellie mirrored her.  They have also made a game out of stealing each other’s pacifiers, wrestling one another to the ground to get the pacifier, even if they each already have a pacifier to begin with.

One month left of their first year.  It’s incredible to think of what a journey this has been. I wish there was a way to save these moments permanently.  I am sure I will come back to these days often in my memories.

happy new year!

So, here we are in 2012. Frank is already disappointed because he believes he was promised flying cars by now. He has been drowning his grief in ham, cheese and a variety of pastries we absconded with from his mother’s house.

Since I keep track of pretty much all of the highs and lows on this blog, I don’t feel like it is necessary to rehash the entire year.  I mean, you can probably guess that the beh-behs were the highs... and accounted for a few lows, too. (like, the barfies, the no-sleepies and the poopies)  But hey, I’m gonna go ahead and say that we finished 2011 with way more checks in the “awesome year” column than in the “holy crap, what happened???” column.

Now that 2011 is in the rear view mirror and 2012 is the date I will be reminding myself to write on all of my documents from here on out, I think it’s always positive to kick off the new year looking forward.

In the vein of a fresh start, I am back on the running bandwagon (Couch to 5K, baby!) and am starting the weight loss circuit.  After stalling out just over 12 pounds into it during the middle of last year, I’m ready for a do-over. And of course, proceeds from this round will still go to ending human trafficking.

So, there’s that.

Because I enjoy being cliche and having New Year’s Resolutions and all that, especially resolutions relating to weight loss and working out, I will undoubtedly need to post every stinking day about my resolutions and what I am doing to acheive them.

Until I stop achieving them.

And then, if my previous behavior is any indication, I will hide out and post cute pictures of my beh-behs. You know, to distract you from burning questions like, “So, Em, how’s the weight loss?” or “Hey, did you run today?”

My beh-behs have a hard time with flashes:

Carrie trying so hard to keep her eyes open...

Ellie. She hates me for taking her picture with the flash on.

Seriously, Mom? TURN OFF THE FLASH!

WHY???

So yeah, weight loss and working out.

But I think if I work on those two things, that will just continue to improve the quality of life for my family and for me.

Aunt S didn’t realize that she was helping us get in the mood for a healthier new year when she sent us coordinated pink Puma track suits.

We're ready to go jogging!!

Now, if only I could find these in adult extra long.

Happy New Year, world.

 

ten months? really??

Nothing makes time fly faster than two very mobile little girls.

Carrie has been crawling for a while now.  She’s added pulling up and climbing to her tactics that allow her to get into trouble.  Just yesterday, Frank and I left the girls in their bedroom while we got ready for church.  We heard a thud and went to check on the girls, only to find Miss Carrie in an unusual position:

Ellie was a little bit later in learning how to crawl, but once she had the proper motivation, she can bust a move with the best of ’em! Ellie hasn’t started pulling up on much, but we are pretty sure that milestone is not too far away.

The girls have a ton of teeth in varying stages of protrusion.  Both have at least four teeth with a few more on the way.  They have been teething champs – requiring no ora-gel and muscling through teething like it was no big thang.

Carrie continues to be a vibrant, electric soul.  We love the bright smile she is so quick to flash at everyone. And she has this awesome laugh that just warms my heart. Every morning, when we walk into her room, she is standing in her crib, GRINNING at us. There is, in my opinion, nothing better than that.

Ellie is our peaceful soul.  She loves to snuggle and study books, pictures and anything with intricate detail.  She has two plush, rosie cheeks that are like little apples – just perfect for smooching! She was the first twin to really lock down feeding herself – her fine motor skills are excellent.

Miss Ellie enjoying bath time.

Watching the girls interact is one of the best parts of having twins.  They started laughing at each other and playing together more over the past month.  The other day, Frank’s mom was watching the girls play.  Both girls had pacifiers and were sitting facing each other.  Carrie casually reached over and plucked Ellie’s pacifier out of her mouth, spit out her own pacifier and started enjoying the stolen pacifier. Without blinking, Ellie picked up the discarded pacifier until Carrie noticed and the cycle repeated itself several times. Carrie was remorseless and Ellie was unruffled throughout the entire exchange. The perk of having twins is that they have never had the benefit of an existence without a sibling, so their tolerance for such antics seems to be much higher.

The nice thing about this stage of their lives is that they are eating pretty much anything we eat. This proved to be quite helpful this weekend when Frank and I spontaneously went out for brunch after church.  The girls enjoyed watermelon, blueberry muffins, mac & cheese and a few other items with gusto.  They were perfect little angels, delighting the staff with their sweet selves.  Let’s hope their dining prowess continues and they don’t start doing the screaming thing they do at home. That screaming thing is pretty annoying.

a tuesday night.

It’s Tuesday night at 8 p.m.  I am lying on the floor watching the twins play.

Carrie, who has methodically crawled and climbed on every piece of furniture I’ve allowed her to crawl to and climb on, is cruising along our coffee table trying to, very nonchalantly, get her hands on the large black remote control.

I am watching her side-step along the table toward the remote, while simultaneously watching Ellie writhe on the floor. Miss Ellie has to be very motivated to want to crawl and, coincidentally, very few things motivate her.  She has crossed about eight feet of floor space in our family room through a series of rolls, pivots and shuffles.  Along her path, she’s stopped to study fuzz on the floor, blinking lights on the receiver and to plant her face on the carpet while sticking her rear as high up into the air as possible, creating a human pup tent.

And at this very moment, watching Ellie give her face rug burn, I am comforted by the fact that I have twins.

When you have one baby,  you compare your child to other children. With one, I imagine you wonder if you’re doing something wrong and, invariably, congratulate yourself for something you had nothing to do with. The joy of twins is that I know I’ve raised both girls almost exactly the same.  They have faced the same challenges, they have had the same opportunities and they share the same genetics (pro or con, who knows). And yet, with so many things similar, they are nothing alike.

Ellie ate first, Carrie crawled first.  Ellie rolled over first, Carrie rolls over most. Ellie is more calm and patient, Carrie is more… um… dynamic?

I’m sure there will be plenty of other times where one child does something before the other. But for those of you out there currently wondering why your baby isn’t crawling/walking/rolling/scooting/cruising as far or as fast or as frequently as another baby, hopefully I can offer you some comfort there are some things (many things, even) that as a parent that are far outside of your control.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie Parenthood is of Steve Martin watching his son run headfirst into the walls with a bucket on his head.

Yeah, I expect my kids will probably do ridiculous things like that.  I suspect there will be times that I will be somewhat embarrassed even.  And of course, I am sure I will document those embarrassing moments on my blog because, well, I want my kids to know that what they do has consequences.

So yeah, Carrie is right now screaming at the remote control that magically (thanks to mommy) moved to the other side of the coffee table.  She is slamming her little fists of rage against the coffee table, incredulous that her calculations of distance and time to said remote were so off.

And Ellie, well, she’s been rubbing her face into the carpet for about five minutes now.  I think it’s time for bed.

happy thanksgiving: road trippin’ with two infants…

While we (Frank and I) would love for everyone to live under the impression that getting out of the house with two infants is, “no biggie” and “easy-peasy”, I think it’s time to blow that myth out of the water.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving at the K Compound less than an hour away from our house. Throw a few babies and some food in the car and go, right?

Ha.

Newbies.

First, we have to assess our laundry situation.  While letting the kids roll around in vomit-stained onsies is A-OK for most Thursdays, we actually have to make the kids look somewhat presentable for Thanksgiving. Which means that we have to find two coordinating outfits (yes, coordinating – don’t judge) and two coordinating back up outfits (I mentioned they [well, really Carrie] still vomit, right?). The vomiting has improved somewhat, which means that we just need pants and shirts. We are willing to gamble that they will not vomit so profusely that we will need to change their socks. (Which has been known to happen)

If they vomit that much, we’re coming home.

Second, Frank and I have an on-going battle regarding some of the girls’ accessories. Frank seems to be under the impression that there is such thing as A Bow That is Too Big. (From Frank: “This bow is literally, LITERALLY the size of their already off-the-scale large noggins. Add the extra cheek weight and the poor kiddos can barely hold their heads up. Normal bows, people say ‘aw, how cute’ – these bows, people say ‘aw, those poor kids.'”)

I am of the school of thought that there is no such thing as A Bow That is Too Big.

We spar for a few minutes on this topic, which involves me accusing my entire family of loving Frank more than me, a love which leads my family members to falsely state that they agree with Frank’s opinions on infant girl hair accessories. I tell ya – you live with people your entire life and BAM – they side with your spouse.  Bah. But that’s a blog post for another day.

Once we get their outfits planned, next comes the task of trying to figure out how many times the girls will need to eat and then packing twice as much in the off-chance that we stay longer than we think we will, etc, etc. Packing bottles and formula, gathering snacks, selecting mushed up nasty infant food containers, finding clean spoons, figuring out what else to feed the girls and how many bibs to bring (the magic number today was SIX, for those of you playing along at home) and then tracking down the beloved bunny-kin baby china set (yes, you read that right – the girls have inherited infant china from their GRANDFATHER from when HE was a child…).

Oh, and then we had to wash down the girls high chair seats because, as you may have heard, the girls tend to vomit/spit up/do the technicolor yawn ALL THE TIME (their highchairs detach from the bases and then plug into a portable base that attach to regular dining chairs). You’d be amazed at where I found vomit/food/mysterious substances.

Then, because both girls are on the move and OH.EM.GEE getting into EVERYTHING, we have to bring the baby corral.  And a blanket to put on the floor so that the aforementioned vomit doesn’t stain the carpet because when Carrie gets excited or moves quickly or laughs or does ANYTHING, she urps. (We asked the doctor about this at their last visit and the doctor said, “Well, is she upset about it?” and we said, “No, but we are!” and she shrugged her shoulders and said “put on your big boy/big girl undies and deal.”  OK, she didn’t say that last part, but that’s essentially what she said. And then Carrie puked. No seriously. Right there. For dramatic effect – and then she smiled proudly.)

So then we pack diapers.  I get a little over-zealous in this department and pack twenty for a three hour visit and then Frank dials it back to ten. And we pack toys. And pacifiers. And an extra blanket because well, if the twins do a big urp, we might need to switch out blankets for a fresh one.

While we are hunting down all of these items, we are realizing that even though WE JUST DID LAUNDRY, most of the items we need have to be washed!! Ah!

And then we stand there and look at the mountain of STUFF and realize that we STILL NEED TO GET OUR STUFF TOGETHER.

OK, so all that gets done and all of the baby stuff that can be placed by the door is placed by the door and then we make a check list of all the other stuff that is in the fridge or that has to be assembled in the morning so that we don’t forget ANYTHING.  We put the babies on the checklist because, and please tell me we are not alone, we are secretly VERY afraid that we will load up the car sans babies and not realize it until we are pulling up at Frank’s parents’ house an hour later. (“Aw crap, not again!”)

So, three hours after our “poop is in a group*” I am hiding upstairs writing this all down so that I can say to my children in ten years, “This is why Mommy cries.”

Frank is in the basement writing his memoirs entitled Why do Babies Need China Dishware? And Other Pressing Questions From a Pilot. I’ll let you know when the book gets picked up by a publisher.

Tomorrow, though, we will load up the car and splash on some perfume/cologne to hide the subtle yet nagging odor of vomit that seems to follow us everywhere, and act like, “Oh em gee, we rolled out of bed and the girls were fresh as daisies** and the car was packed and I don’t wear mascara*** – my lashes are totally this long always!”

Sure, it seems like a major headache to get out of the house with two infants, but in the end, it is totally worth it. Great times with family, wonderful memories made and delicious dinner enjoyed. And I am particularly thankful that this year Frank has Thanksgiving off and we can do all of this packing together.  Cuz lemme tell ya, both of us have had to do it alone and it is not pretty…

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!!

*Poop in a group, as I just learned recently, is a very nice way of saying something else bad.

**This is a total falsehood.  Frank gave them a very thorough Frank-style bath tonight.

*** Love me some Mary Kay Mascara!!

nine. freaking. months.

Yeah, I’m going to forego my traditional blah blah blah update about the twins.  The girls have officially been alive outside of me longer than inside of me.  Well, I could’ve made that statement at 8 months, but I missed my opportunity, so I’m saying it now.

The girls are MOBILE.  Weighing in at approximately 20 lbs and measuring 29″ each, these girls are crawling fiends. Well, Carrie is a crawling fiend.  Ellie crawls when she feels there is something that necessitates purposeful movement. There are very few things, in Ellie’s mind, that necessitate that much effort. Carrie can spot something she knows she shouldn’t have from 10 feet away and in three seconds, Carrie has that item in her mouth. Both girls looooove our cell phones.  Carrie has crawled over my FACE to get to my cell phone.  I thought, for just a moment, that she was going to give me kisses or hugs, but no.

She wanted to get to my cell phone, no matter the obstacle in front her.  No matter if it was my head.

The girls are also quite vocal these days. They say “Da da da da”, which is to be expected, but to my delight, they also say “Ma ma ma ma.” I’m sure they have no idea what they are saying, but I don’t care. It is music to my ears!

When Carrie is tired, she whines and sticks two fingers in her mouth.  When Ellie is tired, she also whines and rubs her eyes.  Both girls go to sleep within ten minutes of being put down for bed and usually sleep for 10-12 hours at a time.  We are truly spoiled parents!

Mostly because they are babies, and partly because they are girls, the twins are equally enthralled by my jewelry.  They reach for necklaces, dangling earrings and bracelets with greedy intent. I love watching them play with toys, alternating from loving investigation to “I’m going to eat your face off!” nom-nom-nomming.

This month, the girls started feeding themselves Puffs.  They love all puffs equally, pinching them with two fingers and jamming them as far into their mouths as possible.  Unfortunately for us parents, puffs when moistened turn the consistency of mucus.  Then they harden like glue to their hair, face, clothes, high chair, etc. ICK!  We also let the girls sample their first limes. While Carrie was fairly non-plussed at the introduction of the tart fruit, Ellie loved it. Grimacing and smiling, she stuck the lime in her mouth, pulled it out to examine it and then stuffed it back in again. I think I know who is going to enjoy Sour Patch Kids in a few years!

Knowing that the girls are just a few months from toddling, it is hard to believe that we are most of the way through the infant months. Everyone says that the time as parents flies by, and I don’t want to be cliche, but man – it does go fast! The milestones start piling up on each other faster than you can even believe.  It seemed like it would be years before they would start smiling intentionally and socially – and now – that is old news! It reminds me to truly enjoy every single moment because it goes in an instant!

thoughts on pregnancy

… very post partum!

The girls will be nine months old next week and I find it interesting how frequently I think back on my pregnancy, the delivery and the weeks following.  I suppose the fact that my dear friend VIcky is going through some pregnancy concerns may have triggered some of these thoughts (if you pray, please pray for her and sweet baby Bubbles and her husband Tim and their little boy Caleb).  But anyway, in no particular order, the things I think about are:

How strangely calming it was to be on hospital bed rest.  Perhaps that’s where the phrase “peace that passes human understanding” comes from. And while I’m sure I was not always peaceful about it, the way that I remember it was that I didn’t have much anxiety about the situation most of the time.  I remember being alone in my room a lot, looking out the window at the office of my childhood pediatrician. The memories of my childhood pediatrician are pleasant, although most memories involve being home from school sick.

Aside from actually being sick, I usually liked being home from school sick because it afforded a sneak peek into a world I didn’t usually get to enjoy.  It put the world into a new context for me – a glimpse into what adults did while I was at school. Often I would look at the clock and think of what I should be doing in class and compare it to what was going on in the world around me – the mailman delivering mail, neighbors out walking, adults going to the store and so on.  I would hear my bus stopping near my house, dropping off all of the other students who had gone to class and I wondered what it would be like if I had been at school that day and was disembarking the bus at that moment, instead of tucked away in my bed.

And really, that’s what it was like on hospital bed rest.  The world was going on around me and I was watching it happen from my adjustable hospital bed. I tried not to think too much about work, although I checked in frequently to make sure that everything was OK. It was as though if I could just make it another day and just stay pregnant a little bit longer, it would be so much better for our girls.  I made it ten days.

I also think a lot about the labor and delivery. I remember it like I was watching things happen to me and not actively doing something about the situation.  As a matter of fact, I spent much of my mental energy trying to stop the freight train of labor so that Frank could be there for the delivery.

I was apprehensive about delivery because I felt like there was a big question mark hanging over the outcome. I wondered, somewhat fearfully, what my children would look like.  I wondered if they would look like real babies and if the image of alien-looking babies would follow me for my entire life.  It made me sad to think that their birth wouldn’t be “normal” – that a trip to the NICU was a certainty.

I remember the doctor announcing I was “complete” (ready to deliver), but was only measuring 9 cm (normally you measure 10 cm before you push).  Then I realized that the reason I was “complete” was because they were expecting me to deliver very, very small babies.  I was filled with dread.

When they wheeled me into the operating room to deliver and told me to start pushing, I was suddenly confused and unsure of how to do it.  I had thought about this moment over and over in my head, but I found myself afraid to push.  Not because I was afraid of pain, but I was afraid I’d push too hard and hurt the babies.  Silly, right?

I pushed anyway. The girls were born within 20 minutes.  I remember wondering, as I was pushing, whether they would cry when they were born.  When Ellie was born, I found myself holding my breath, waiting for her to take her first breath.  Oh, and when she cried, it was the sweetest sound I’d ever heard.

And when just three minutes later, Carrie was born, screaming and all angry, I was flooded with relief.

Yes, they were small, but OH! they looked like real life babies! I was so relieved.

I did get to hold Ellie in the operating room for a few seconds – long enough to snap a picture.  I think about that moment a lot – how surreal it felt. How different that moment felt than I had ever imagined.

I also think pretty frequently about getting to go see my girls in the NICU after I spent time in recovery. My entire pregnancy, the thing I couldn’t wait for was hearing the lullaby played over the intercom system at the hospital.  But all the times I had imagined it, I was holding my babies with my husband.  Instead, the first strains of the song rang out as I was being wheeled to the NICU through a long, winding hallway.  The doors of the NICU ward opened and directly ahead of me painted on the wall was an excerpt from the poem “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And oh, how those words chilled me.  I remember seeing those words when we toured the hospital two months earlier.  I remember seeing those words on our tour and saying a quiet prayer in my head that I wouldn’t see them again.

There I was, facing those words and hearing the song playing over intercom and my heart was so sad.  “This is not how I imagined it!” I wanted to say.  But there were no words.

As they wheeled me into Ellie’s room, the second lullaby started playing for Carrie. They wheeled me up to her incubator, a glass box, and there was my very small, but very beautiful, baby girl.  She was hooked up to monitors and an IV and wearing only a diaper.

They placed her in my arms and I think about that moment, too.  I was so sorry.  I felt like she was hooked up to monitors and IV’s and I didn’t do everything possible to stop it. I came up short and she had only been alive for a few hours.

Carrie hadn’t been cleaned up yet or fully observed, so I didn’t get to hold her.  I looked at her through the glass, marveling at her tiny, perfect features.

I think a lot about going back to my hospital room on the Mother & Baby floor.  All of those rooms, in my mind, were full of babies and their mommies.  And I was going back empty and alone.

I think about swallowing all of those feelings and thoughts when I saw my little girls. They needed me to be strong.  They needed me to be happy when I saw them and to cover them in love. This whole thing wasn’t about me any more.

I think about the next day when they explained to us that the girls would need feeding tubes. While we were sitting in Carrie’s room, they ran her feeding tube through her nose and into her tummy.  She screamed these fragile, tiny baby cries that broke our hearts.

I remember the sound of the breath leaving Frank as he watched them run the feeding tube.  The “oomph” was like he had been punched in the gut.

I think a lot about the nights when we first had them at home.  The nights sort of blurred together. On the morning that Prince William and Catherine Middleton married, Carrie woke up at 3 a.m. Frank and I wound up watching the entire wedding, thanks to Carrie.

I turn these moments over in my head, over and over.  I think about what they mean, how they changed me, and wonder what would’ve happened if things went differently.

But what happened is what happened, as un-profound as that is. Months and months later, the girls are doing great. They are healthy, vibrant, active little girls.  They laugh and squeal and chatter.  It’s hard to imagine that they were born a minute before they were meant to.

The more I talk to people and hear their stories, the more I realize that life rarely turns out as expected or planned. Perhaps that’s what John Lennon meant when he said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Life is fragile and delicate and rough and sharp and beautiful.

k stories: rituals of love

I wanted to document some of the special things we enjoy with the girls that may not be event-specific: On-going rituals and experiences that we love as a family.  Just a couple of my favorite rituals that come to mind:

Spa Bath Time

Bath time with Mom? Warm water in a bath tub.  Wash hair, rinse.  Wash baby, rinse.  Splash in the bath tub, towel off baby, lotion, diaper, and put on pajamas.

Bath time with Dad?  Akin to a fancy spa experience.

First, Frank plugs his iPhone into speakers in the girls’ room and sets the Pandora App to “new age” spa-type music.  He dims the lights ever so slightly and gets one bowl of soapy water and one bowl of warm fresh water.  If I am home, I sit in the rocker with one baby and Frank begins the sweetest and most tender ritual of giving the twins sponge baths.  He dedicates one wash cloth to the bowl with soapy water and one wash cloth to rinsing.  He washes their faces and necks, and then rinses.  The girls LOVE it.  Then hands, tummy, legs and feet.  He liberally applies lotion all over their tummies and legs, combs their hair and dresses them.  Watching him give them their baths is one of the sweetest and most tender acts of love that I have ever seen.

Good Morning!

Every morning Frank and I listen to the girls gabbing in their cribs.  We try to sneak in a few more minutes of sleep before we have to get going with the day, but as they get louder, we know that we are on borrowed time.

Frank usually runs downstairs and gets breakfast prepped.  I start getting ready for work if it is a work day.  When breakfast is ready, Frank comes back upstairs and together, we stand outside the girls’ door.

“OK, ready?” one of us usually says.

We push open the door and Frank flips on the light switch.

Every morning we are met with squeals of delight.  Carrie usually lifts her head up high in the air, flashing a big smile and scrunching her nose.  Ellie kicks her feet excitedly and sporting her own wide gummy grin. Frank and I each pick up a girl and we stand in the middle of the room, all four of us squealing and laughing.

It has to be the absolute best way to start a day!