mother’s day

When we were going through infertility treatments and struggling to get pregnant, this day was so bittersweet. I have a wonderful mom and a great mother-in-law. But the pain of feeling excluded from this day, because of the challenges we faced having a child, weighed on me.

This year is different for two obvious reasons and I am beyond grateful for our twin girls. They are smiling, cooing and starting to develop a little bit of personality.  It definitely helps make the long nights worthwhile.

But since I had the twins, a realization that had started to take shape when we struggled with infertility has continued to become more clear to me.

Motherhood does not happen to you, it happens in you.

Yes, it sounds totally cliché and trite, but bear with me. I did not magically become a mother on February 19th of this year. There was not a moment in the delivery room where a rush of hormones released a locked part of my brain, making me a mom.

Becoming a mom started a long time ago when I watched my own mom care for my sister and tried to imitate her with my doll I named Karen. It started in preschool when I pretended to be the mom when we played house. It continued to develop when I would babysit my siblings and neighbors. In my career, my instincts to mother grew as I learned how to nurture my coworkers and help those who reported to me achieve their goals. In volunteer work, I practiced and developed mothering skills with teenagers – one of the toughest and most rewarding groups to work with.

That being said, on February 19th when the doctors gave me my daughters to hold, I was filled with the requisite awe and wonder at our infant daughters. And while I loved them immediately, the moment was not transformative as I had previously imagined it would be. Sure, now I had the title, but it occurred to me that I had been doing the job, in one way or another, my whole life.

Am I saying that being a mother isn’t full of responsibility, challenges and difficulty? Certainly not. After being up most of the night with the twins, I have new appreciation for my own mother. I also have an even greater appreciation for my husband who was up with me, changing diapers, making bottles, rocking and burping.

But I also have a great appreciation for all the women in my life that have mothered me without having the official title. From teachers, bosses, mentors and friends, I have been fortunate enough to have a fantastic biological mother in addition to an army of women who have come alongside me and used their mothering skills to help me grow and flourish.

Mothering is encouraging, growing, nurturing, challenging, comforting, loving and caring for others, with little to no reward.  For the women out there who feel excluded from this day because they do not have children, I hope that this realization affirms the wonderful women that they are. It may not take away the pain and heartache of not having a child in your arms, but I want you to know that the amazing work you do in the lives of others is not, and will not be, forgotten.

And for everyone out there that has had the great fortune of having an army of mothers as I have had, I hope that you can take some time today to thank some of those outstanding women.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the women who mother – you are all a wonderful treasure!

the twins’ birthday: a day in pictures

About a week before the twins were born, Frank snapped my last pregnancy pictures in my super fancy, extra-large hospital gown.  What can I say?  I’m a trend setter!  For anyone wondering why most of my smiles look so pained, all you need to know is that I had a scary cervix.  A very, very scary cervix.

 

 

Then there was the morning of the twins’ birth.  The first picture is of my mom and me and the second is of my mother-in-law and me.

Grandma Mary Kay and me

Grandma Sandy and me

Then, after wondering if Frank was going to make it to the birth – he arrived!!  Hurrah! (note to self: pictures of me lying down are not the most flattering…)

Baby Daddy and me

After sitting around for about 90 minutes, the doctor determined that it was go-time!

Ready to have some bebez!

After pushing for about 20-30 minutes, sweet baby Elliana was born:

Baby Ellie

And then just three or four short minutes later, sweet little Carrigan made her way into the world:

Dad and Carrigan

In just under an hour, our little family of two became a family of four!  Mom holding Elliana and Dad holding Carrigan:

Our first family photo!

 

100 joys (18-31)

OK people, you know the drill!  Working on 100 joys STAT!  Had to take some time off – late night yesterday and the hubz needed some attention. Only 83 joys left to go!

joy #18

I love milk.  I love it in cereal.  I love it ice cold with Oreo cookies.  I love it alone, I love it with dinner, and I loooove it in hot cocoa.  Love. It.  I especially loooove Oberweis milk. It just tastes better.  No growth hormones, no other funny business – just 100% straight-from-the-cow deliciousness.  Yum.  When I drink milk, I am in my happy place.

 

joy #19

Computers make me happy.  Can you believe that there was a time when people had to TYPE letters on a TYPEwriter??  It blows my mind.  I’ve asked people who worked in offices before computers about what they did without computers and their eyes glaze over as though they are remembering a time that even their brain doesn’t want to recall.  “You know, we just, um, got stuff done.  I don’t know.”  Did people work before computers??

 

joy #20

Where do I begin?  Voicemail, email, text messaging, pictures, video, applications… what did we do without smart phones??  How, heavens to Betsy, did we stand in line at the grocery store without something to fiddle with so that we don’t have to talk to other annoying people standing in line?  But even more importantly, how developed are our brains that we can use just our thumbs with the skill and precision to get to level 22 in Brick Breaker?  I mean, we as the human species have really come a long way!  And just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, I got a new work phone and it has SODUKO on it!!!!!  JOY TO THE WORLD!!!

 

joy #21

Chocolate chips.  Yeah, you think I’m going to wax poetic about all the things you can do with chocolate chips, specifically Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate chips (cookies, flourless chocolate cake, peanut butter spoons topped with chocolate chips, chocolate covered Oreo cookies…).  But no, I’m not going there.  In our house, chocolate chips are certainly for cooking and baking and the spreading of happiness – but chocolate chippies are quick, sweet smooches.  Ahhh… joy!

 

joys #22-31

Sweet friends (from our Bible Study Cookie Exchange):

#22 – The sweet Miss Rosie-licious!

#23 – Ms. Tammy, always in action!

#24 & #25 – Baby Gianna and mama Dorothy

#26 – the always fabulous Toni!

 

Those were all the wonderful ladies that were able to make it tonight to our cookie exchange.  And they are a joy!  With our combined ADD, it’s hard for us to stay on track in conversations, but someone always remembers enough to help us find our way back to what we were originally talking about.  Not pictured were joys #27 (Allison), #28 (Kim), #29 (Nikki), #30 (Jackie) and #31 (Caroline).  They are such blessings and joys to me!

100 joys (8-12)

Continuing with what I started yesterday, here are a few of my joys today:

Joy #8

People who smile.  Not just smile on their face, but smile with their attitude.  It’s so hard to find people like that!  Today I  ran across a few well timed genuinely smiling people and it made all of the difference.

 

Joy #9


I made spicy pulled pork today for my coworkers as a holiday treat today.  Ahh… joy.  Isn’t food wonderful?

 

Joy #10

This guy!  He is SUCH a joy!  He was gone last night and came home today and just seeing him when I walked in the door made my whole day all better!  (that’s Frank, by the way – he’s doing something very serious… I like when he’s doing serious things because then I can distract him… he loves when I distract him while he’s intently working on something… )

 

Joy #11

Yeah, yeah – I know.  I’m a consultant.  I’m supposed to love this stuff.  But I have to say, about three years ago I dreaded the winter because I had dry patches of skin along my nose, my eyebrows and the side of my face.  I washed my face, I tried to moisturize, but to no avail.  I switched to Mary Kay and I haven’t had this problem since!  I love that I don’t worry about my face any more – it gives me lots more time to worry about other things… ahhh… joy!

 

Joy #12

This is our theme for our nursery – lambs! (disregard the already embroidered name on the quilt – it’s not even close to any of the baby names we’re considering)  It makes me smile because lambs are such sweet looking animals and totally gender neutral.  Although, I’m sure I’ll find out that lambs are really very unfriendly beasts that attack small domesticated animals.  But whatever.  They make me happy and bring me joy.  Yay for lambs!

100 joys

One of my favorite Bloggers, Slightly Cosmopolitan, started working on 100 Joys which she found out about from Sarah Markley’s blog.  My friend Allison also saw a similar idea and is inviting our small group to participate via email.  It’s such a wonderful idea, I thought I would participate both on my blog and via email.

So here we go…

Joy #1

This little gold ornament was hand-decorated by my sweet husband when he was a little boy.  This ornament has hung on countless trees in his parents’ home when he was growing up and now hangs on our Christmas tree.  It’s hard to read in the picture, but the ornament just says “Frank” in glitter. It makes me smile!

 

Joy #2

The newest ornament on our tree this year was a gift from a dear friend, Meg.  She found this ornament while shopping with her fiance and they couldn’t resist.  It is a happy reminder of things to come in 2011.

 

Joy #3

Following in the theme of ornaments, this one is from one of my dear friends Erin.  She gave this to me when we were in college and somehow, between moving home, getting married and moving 4 times, we’ve managed to hang on to this ornament.  It makes my heart happy because not only does it remind me of Erin, but it also reminds me of all of the wonderful friends that I have made throughout the years!

 

Joy #4

What may not be clear in the above picture is that I am showing off my elastic waistband.  Elastic is one of my smaller, but still important, joys of the season.  I simply do not know what I would do without elastic considering my expanding waistline.  I love you, elastic!

 

Joy #5

We love the Chicago Blackhawks.  Love them.  Frank has been going to see them since he was a young boy.  We’ve been seeing the Hawks together for 8 years.  We’ve seen good years, bad years and awesome years.  We are not just-on-the-band-wagon fans, but rather long-term, committed fans.  I love seeing the Hawks play – win or lose.  I especially like it when the gloves come off and there is a great fight… especially when both players are trying to hold each other up while punching each other (cuz if they go horizontal, the fight is over…).  Nice.

 

Joy #6

There was a fantastic speaker at church a few months ago who talked about peace not being the absence of conflict, but rather, wholeness with God. I loved this concept and this season of the year reminds me of this all the time.  We live in a fallen world where there will always be conflict of one variety or another.  But we can have peace.  That gives me great joy!

 

Joy #7

Fundraisers where the kiddos sell cookie dough.  Talk about saving some time!  If that isn’t joy, I don’t know what is!

 

… Too be continued…

the things I just don’t forget

Since we are having twins, our doctor wanted us to do the birth classes at our hospital early.  So at just 22 weeks, we are in a four week birth class at our hospital.

Our hospital is a large, sprawling campus.  It is the hospital that I was born at, that my great-grandmother (and namesake) died at, where they took my dad when he had his stroke, where one of my close friend’s mom passed away and where we went for the D & C when we lost Lily earlier this year.  There are so many entrances to this hospital and they are constantly expanding the hospital and building new wings and towers.  It’s easy to go there and not enter in the same doors twice.

On our second night in class, Frank and I ventured around the south side of the campus to see the new maternity wing.  Our adventure took us past the blue awning of the “Day Surgery” center.  The same blue awning that I came out of after our D & C.  Frank and I both looked at this awning at the same time.  I could hear the air going out of both of our chests as we looked at that sad, sad spot.  It was like walking past a grave for us.

I don’t remember what we said to each other, but it was just a gentle acknowledgement of that door.  That time in our lives when our hearts were both simultaneously broken.

If Lily had been a healthy little baby, she would’ve been born in late September, likely.  We would be getting her ready for her first Christmas.  I’d be going back to work in January after my maternity leave.

But Lily was not a healthy little baby.  Frank and I have discussed this – not extensively – but in brief conversations about her since March.  Things just seemed to be going so slow with her.  The doctors were always pushing the due dates back – she always measured small.  In a family where we’ve always measured well past the bell curve, this seemed strange – foreign – to us. She was a fighter, though – and she tried really hard.  But in the end, she just couldn’t do it.  And that’s ok.  It’s hard for us to have to wait so long to meet her, but we have peace that she’s with God in heaven.

All we have from losing Lily are a few early ultrasound pictures and a doily they gave us after the D & C to help us remember her by.  I put all of these items in a folder and I put them in a filing cabinet in the basement.  I’ve looked at that doily and the pictures since then, but only quickly and only to put them in a new location.

But driving by the blue awning of the “Day Surgery” center was a fresh reminder for us of the sweet baby we lost.  And in some ways, of the struggles we went through over 18 months in order to get pregnant.

I don’t take anything about this miraculous twin pregnancy for granted.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in an out-of-body experience – I see myself looking at baby furniture or picking out a nursery theme – and I can’t believe that it’s me.  I can’t believe it because in the either-or experience – either I’m pregnant or I’m not, either the baby is healthy or it’s not, either I’m ovulating or I’m not – I’ve been on the “or not” side with great frequency.  I have not had the experience of easily getting and staying pregnant.  I have not had the sense that “of course I am pregnant, why wouldn’t I be?”  Instead, I feel very frequently how delicate life is.

I read a blog called Moosh in Indy. Casey, the blog author, struggled with infertility for FIVE years.  She battled serious depression and tried a lot of medical procedures to resolve her infertility.

And then one day… she was pregnant.  Of course, there was so much rejoicing and so much happiness, but as she writes so poignantly about infertility in this blog post – “I can never forget where I came from that got me to this point.”

I also cannot forget all of my friends who are still waiting, hoping and praying to start or expand their family.  The notion that because we are pregnant, we can then forget the heartache of losing Lily and struggling with infertility is entirely wrong.

Life is precious.

To all of my friends who are struggling with various forms of loss and infertility, my prayers are constantly with you.  I have not forgotten.

13 weeks

Today I am 13 weeks pregnant.  I thought it might be fun to start documenting what’s going on each week.  I’ll try to use the same format each week.  I will also try to include pictures – I actually have a little bump going already!

What’s new with the babies: The babies are 3 inches head to tush.  If we’re having a girl or girls, she already has 2 million eggs in her ovaries.  The babies now have finger prints.

How I feel: Great, but tired.  I still have some weird aversions to herbs and spicy foods, which is killing Frank.  I haven’t gained any weight, but I definitely have a bump starting.  It’s especially noticeable when I lie down.  Frank likes to talk to the babies, usually just saying, “Helllllloooo???”

Other thoughts: It’s still very surreal to me that I’m pregnant.  I go through waves of acceptance and disbelief.  Most of the time I am able to say, “OK, I am pregnant, this is really going to happen for us!”  But then there are times where it’s just more than my little brain can fathom.

Our experiences with fertility treatments has made me abundantly aware of the fact that life is fragile.  I know far too many women who have lost babies at various stages of their pregnancy, even well into the “safe” period.  I don’t take for granted the fact that we are 13 weeks along. I treasure that we have seen our babies on five separate occasions and they were always developmentally where they should be (or measuring big… which is another post for another day).  I love that Baby A was super active, propelling himself (or herself) across the sac, flipping over and sucking his thumb.  I love that Baby B was chill – stretching out, waving his arms over his head and relaxing.  I hope these sweet babies keep growing and thriving – we are looking forward to meeting them in person in less than 6 months!