annabel

I’ve wanted to write this post for weeks now, but every time I try to sit down at the “big computer,” I decide to sleep instead. And also it is really hard to type with one hand.

A Birth Story

On May 8, we went to a regularly scheduled OB appointment and discovered that the baby was transverse – lying across the uterus instead of in the preferred “head down” position.  The fact that I had a lot of fluid and a misshapen uterus (thanks to a myomectomy and a twin pregnancy) made it very easy for the baby to swim into whatever position she preferred.  Dr. G had already performed a “version” (changing the baby’s position) in the office at 37 weeks, but the baby happily shifted by the next day. Knowing that the baby moved so quickly, Dr. S suggested that once we achieved 39 weeks gestation, we should schedule another version followed immediately by an induction.  In the meantime, we were advised that I should try hard NOT to go into labor and that if I did go into labor, or my water broke, we should go straight to the hospital due to risk of umbilical cord prolapse.

Thus began my maternity leave.

The first available date for the version and induction was Wednesday, May 14 with Dr. G.  We were signed up for a 7:30 a.m. time slot.

In between the appointment and the induction, I managed to injure my neck, causing me considerable pain and insomnia.  The day before the induction, we visited our friendly neighborhood chiropractor who attempted to mitigate the pain and gave Frank some suggestions for assisting me with pain management during labor and delivery.

We both woke up bright and early on Wednesday morning, ready to meet our third child.  It was an absolutely beautiful morning and a perfect drive to the hospital. I was so happy to walk into Labor and Delivery, instead of being wheeled into L&D in complete terror (as was what happened with the twins). We were set up in our room, I changed and was put on monitors … and then the fun started.

 

Ready to go to the hospital!

Ready to go to the hospital!

Dr. G is sort of a legend in our area.  My mom actually went to his practice many years ago in hopes that he would deliver her third child, my brother Andy, but unfortunately she went into labor on a day that he wasn’t on duty.  He is an older gentleman, with a sweet and kind demeanor.  His old-school training made him more likely to try things like a version, something that only one of his colleagues would also attempt (Dr. S). He was optimistic that he could shift the baby’s position, but he was also realistic.  He’d seen enough versions that should’ve been easy that failed, and other versions that should’ve failed, work. Within minutes of locating the baby on the ultrasound, he began the process of shifting her position.  We watched in awe as her little shape moved into a perfect head-down position.

Once it was confirmed that her head was in the best position possible, Dr. G broke my water and began pitocin.

Hanging out, inducing and stuff...

Hanging out, inducing and stuff…

Everything was pretty uneventful after that.  Frank and I watched a movie, texted, played games, and just sat around waiting to meet our baby. Frank left for breakfast and lunch breaks, and finally by about 2 p.m. we decided to get the epidural.  At that point I was dilated to 2 cm and everything was looking good.

At 5 p.m. Dr. G was leaving for the day and he wanted to see how things were going with me before handing me off to Dr. S.  I was dilated to 3 cm and everything looked fine. After he left, though, my nurse and I both noticed a deceleration with the baby’s heart rate on the next contraction.  I bit my lip nervously as I waited for the heart rate to return to normal.

A few more contractions came and went without decelerations.  The nurses changed shifts and the new nurse wanted to check my cervix.  While she checked, a worried look crossed her face.

“Did the doctor mention anything about feeling facial features when he checked last?” she asked.  I shook my head.

I’m not a doctor, but I knew enough to know that you shouldn’t feel a baby’s facial features during a cervical check. Crap, I thought.

The next contraction, as though the baby knew, involved another heart rate deceleration.  I furrowed my brow. Frank was now pacing next to my hospital bed.  The nurse called the hospitalist (the doctor on duty for the hospital).  The hospitalist arrived quickly.

“Yes, I feel a forehead… and eyes.  What does the OB want you to do?” the hospitalist asked the nurse.

“Turn her on her side and stop the pitocin and call the OB in,” said the nurse, reaching to turn off the pitocin as she said it. The hospitalist nodded. Within 30 minutes, my OB was in the room.

Dr. S was a very professional and still very kind doctor.  She is one of those doctors that instills a sense of authority while still being very compassionate at the same time.  She spent a long time assessing the situation.  During her check, she attempted to move the baby’s chin down in order to shift her head into a better position.  She attempted to push the baby’s head back into the uterus.  Neither effort worked – the baby was fully engaged.  Dr. S could tell that the baby’s head was becoming swollen from the pressure from the contractions.

Dr. S looked at me with sad eyes and I knew before she even said it.  “We have to do a C-Section. I can’t move the baby’s head.  There is a risk that if the baby is allowed to be born this way, she might break her neck,” explained Dr. S.

My heart dropped. My poor baby.  All I could think of was this poor, sweet baby trying to be born into this world and being stuck and injured.  Frank and I took a few minutes to talk and to pray.  I knew I had to do the C-Section, but even though I had tried to mentally prepare for that before we were induced – I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

I’ve done a lot of difficult things. Not climbing mountains or anything, but I’d had surgery before, been through challenging seasons of my life and so on. I’d created ways to mentally push through those difficult situations by outlining steps in my head.  Just get through this, this and this. Once you do those three things, you will be done.  But being awake for a major surgery? I knew what the steps were and I just couldn’t see my way through. I actually thought, so then they will put your organs back in… sweet heavens to Betsy… my organs will be on the outside… on.the.outside.  I couldn’t see my way through it. I started to panic.

And then I remembered that the last time I had a similar surgery to a C-Section (a myomectomy), I had been horrifically sick.  I threw up for hours by myself in my hospital room after surgery.  I remembered texting Frank and telling him how sick I was. Frank had asked if he should come back to the hospital. For what reason?  I remember thinking.  To watch me puke up jello into a kidney shaped blue bowl while I try not to hurt my already aching stomach muscles?  It was the kind of lonely misery that would not be improved by a spectator.

At the memory of my myomectomy recovery, I became scared of puking on one side of the operating curtain, while my actual stomach was exposed on the other side.  I couldn’t handle it.

I will say, my doctors were amazing.  Upon hearing of my nausea/vomiting fears, they took every step possible to reduce any chance that I would become violently ill while delivering my baby.  Not once during the C-Section did I even think of vomiting.  I was grateful.

Once I signed off on the paperwork for the C-Section, I was prepped and wheeled into the same operating room in which I delivered the twins.  I was moved from the L&D bed onto the narrow operating table.  The anesthesiologist began the spinal through the same port as my epidural and the final work to bring our baby into this world began.

Frank joined me by the head of the table, but he watched the entire surgery, not missing a moment of our baby’s delivery.  The thing about a C-Section is that while you do not feel pain, you feel your insides being moved around.  It’s a totally surreal situation – knowing that on the other side of a thin piece of blue fabric, your insides are on the outside.

But, oh heavens, at the first gurgling cries of sweet Annabel – it was all worth it. At 7:18 pm on May 14, 2014 she made her way into this world.

"Seriously you guys, what took you so long??"

“Seriously you guys, what took you so long??”

 

“It’s a girl! And she’s a big baby!” announced Frank and the doctor, laughing.

They brought a screaming, healthy baby Annie around the curtain so I could see her for the first time.  Frank laughed, “Boy is she angry!” The swelling in her forehead gave her a particularly angry scowl.

They cleaned up Annie and weighed her – 9lbs 3oz and 21 inches long – and brought her over for a more formal introduction.

"Hey, Mom, wassup?"

“Hey, Mom, wassup?”

Frank, Annie and me.

Frank, Annie and me. All of our best angles.

Annie and Frank hung out in the nursery waiting for me to get cleaned up and after two hours of recovery, we were all reunited.

"Mmm... Pain Management rocks!"

“Mmm… Pain Management rocks!”

Annie and I snuggled while Frank tried to forge for food (a nearly impossible task).  In between coos, I hit the button for pain medication every ten minutes. I’ll tell you what, C-Sections are no joke and I am grateful for the excellent pain management (the PC way to say “large quantities of pain killers”) that I was offered at the hospital.

The twins were excited to meet their new sister.  Poor Carrigan, confused and concerned by the logistics of birthing, immediately asked if Annie was going “back in.” We assured her that Annie was here to stay.

Party of 5!

Party of 5!

Annie and I hung out in the hospital for four days and were discharged, happily, on May 18.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Frank and his girls!

Frank and his girls!

"Let's rock and roll mom and dad!"

“Let’s rock and roll mom and dad!”

Sisters

Sisters

About the Name

Annie’s first trimester was more exciting than we had hoped.  Early on, we were very concerned about some bleeding issues that went on for nearly four weeks.  During that time of worry, I felt peace at church and felt that her middle name would be Ruth.  We knew we wanted an “A” first name, and it was between Abigail and Annabel.  I’ve always loved Annabel and it’s literary history.  We both loved that the name could be shortened to Anna, Ann, Annie, etc.  Annabel is actually a variation on the Scottish name Amabel, meaning loving.  And she definitely is a little lovebug!

Two weeks old, poolside

Two weeks old, poolside

Eight weeks old

Eight weeks old

three

The twins are three years old.

Three years ago, almost to the day, we were bringing our tiny babies home from the NICU. Three years from now, we will be sending our girls off to first grade.

It’s amazing to think that they’ve grown up so much, and yet I haven’t aged.  It’s a miracle!

All about Ellie at Three

Elliana, the oldest by four minutes, is a very sweet, very engaged little girl.  She knows all of her letters and has even started writing some of them.  She has lovely little conversations with me and makes sure we don’t forget to pray before meals and bed time.

Her curly red hair shows no signs of fading away. Despite all of the stereotypes about redheads, Ellie’s most “redhead” trait is her fierce desire to stick to a plan.

She is a sensitive soul and has taken to saying, “You’re breaking my heart!” whenever her sister is gruff with her or we tell her she can’t do something.  She loves broccoli and pasta and meat.  She can take or leave dessert (more often leaving it).  She loves to “snuggle in” and watch a favorite show or read a favorite book.  She has seen frozen approximately three times and is trying desperately to sing along with the songs.

All about Carrie at Three

Carrigan is my little sparkler.  She has this shimmer in her eyes when she’s about to do something hilarious-or-dramatic-or inappropriate.  Her creativity is astounding.  Everything she touches can become something magical in her imagination; even dinner. This has lead to quite a few discussions about how inappropriate it is to play with food and that fingers dipped in peanut butter are NOT dinosaurs (Rawrrrr!!). But it has also lead to some very delightful discussions about imaginary scenarios.

She has developed a particular fascination with dinosaurs and tells me her favorite is the brachiosaurus.  She plays well by herself, but loves to drag her sister into an involved session of Paw Patrol. Her creative playtime is enthusiastic and vocal – it’s hard to hear oneself think while she’s growling like a dinosaur or hollering “Ryder! Come quick! We have an emergency at the beach!”

Carrie is a little social butterfly.  She loves to introduce her family and friends to new people.  We had pizza delivered the other day and she proudly told the pizza, “This is my friend my Mom and this is my friend my sister Ellie and I’m Carrie!” The pizza delivery guy was somewhat amused, but being a teenager, he wasn’t really sure how to respond.   It was adorable!

 

We celebrated the girls’ birthdays with a few small family gatherings with Frank’s family and my family, but for the first time we had a very low-key shindig at the Park District for the twins and a few of their friends.  They played on a tot gym, enjoyed some cake and colored.

The simple pleasures!

Happy 3rd Birthday Girls!

year in review

In short:

It was winter & it was cold.

The girls turned two.

We bought a house and sold a condo and moved.

Everyone knows that the actual moving part is the worst part of any home purchase.

It was appropriately terrible, especially with my ear infection that WOULD NOT GO AWAY. But has. So we are all good now.

We frolicked at the park any time it was over 30 degrees and under 120 degrees.

We laughed, we cried, I cut my hair, we took some selfies, we laughed some more and then we found out we were pregnant with #3.

This was not a surprise.

We planned it.

But still.  THREE KIDS. OMG.

What were we thinking??

And now, the year in pictures.  Beginning January:

2013 01 Haircut Carrie 2

Carrie’s First Haircut

2013 01 Haircut Ellie

Ellie’s First Haircut

2013 02 2nd Birthday

Twins turn Two.

2013 02 Birthdays

Grandma Sandy, Julia, Elliana and Carrigan all celebrated birthdays together. (and took a lovely picture with Luke and Joshua)

2013 02 Carrie Bling

Carrie loves her pretties! (aka bracelets and jewels and sparkly things!)

2013 02 Carrie Cool

Carrie is also VERY busy, babe. So, like, leave a message or whatever.

2013 02 Ellie Cool Glasses

Shades and a binky NEVER go out of style.

2013 02 Selfies Carrie

Carrie’s February Selfie. So now.

2013 02 Selfies Mom and Ellie

Ellie and Mommy selfie together.

2013 03 Easter Egg Hunt Ellie

Ellie hunts the elusive Easter Egg.

2013 03 Easter Egg HuntCarrie

Carrie has concern for the elusive Easter egg. Where is it? What is in it? These are big questions.

2013 03 Easter

Easter brunch with Frank’s parents. Delish!

2013 03 Frank and girls

A trip to Water Tower Place in Chicago.

2013 03 Hockey

Hawks Game!

2013 03 Mom and girls

Story time with Mom in March

2013 03 Night out

A much-needed night out in March to see The Book of Mormon.

2013 03 Snow

Boo! Snow in March!

2013 04 Carrie Pig tails

A warm day in April means a trip to the park – and pigtails for Carrie!

2013 04 Carrie Selfie

A mommy and Carrie selfie in April

2013 04 Carrie

A trip to a bakery in Lincoln Park. Yum!

2013 04 Ellie

Ellie scoping out Lincoln Park. Future Blue Demon??

2013 04 Horsey ellie

Cowgirl Ellie takes the reins…

2013 04 Horsey

Cowgirl Carrie is on the move!

2013 04 Picnic small

An outdoor snack in April. Loving the warm weather!

2013 04 Selfie Carrie Hat

Carrie stylin’ a new hat from Grandma Sandy.

2013 05 Carrie Pancake

Carrie can’t believe the WHOLE pancake is for her!

2013 05 Carrie

Early morning Carrie is the best!

2013 05 Ellie Asleep

Ellie tuckered out on a car ride home…

2013 05 Flowers 2

Enjoying the “snow” of flower petals in May.

2013 05 House

We bought a house!

2013 05 K Fam

Just the four of us… for now!

2013 05 Park Carrie

Carrie loves the park!

2013 05 Park Ellie

Ellie also loves the park.

2013 05 Picnic

“Dahling, isn’t picnicking just the bees’ knees?”

2013 05 Tea Party Ellie

A tea party between Ellie and Michael. He’s such a good sport!

2013 05 Twins Beds Carrie

Carrie in a toddler bed!

2013 05 Twins Beds Ellie

Ellie in a toddler bed!

2013 05 Twins Wishing Frank Happy Birthday

The twins wishing Daddy a happy 33rd birthday!

2013 06 Carrie Ride

Do we have a future motorcycle chick??

2013 06 Ellie Ride

Ellie enjoyed her bike as well!

2013 06 Furniture

Improvising with furniture during the move. Camp chairs are so in right now!

2013 06 George

Saying goodbye to our trusty Honda Accord, George in June.

2013 06 Girls Room

Lounging in their new room.

2013 06 Hanging with Kelsey

Carrie and her buddy Kelsey chilling.

2013 06 Hockey

One game to the Stanley Cup!

2013 06 Lunch

We love lunching outside!

2013 06 Packing

Packing is never dull when you are packing with twins two year olds!

2013 06 Park

I love the PARK!!

2013 06 Rain Carrie

Mommy and Carrie watching the rain!

2013 06 Rain Ellie

Ellie catching the rain!

2013 06 Train Twins

Riding the train at the July Jaycee carnival in Hoffman Estates!

2013 07 Carrie at the beach

Carrie playing on the beach, with appropriate jewels, of course!

2013 07 Ellie eating brekkie

A healthy breakfast is the best way to start the day!

2013 07 Getting Ready in the morning

Getting ready for work with Mom!

2013 07 Hanging with my sibs

Sibling night … PUT THE PHONES AWAY! That is all.

2013 07 Post Bath Discussions

The girls deep in discussions post bath in July.

2013 07 Riding the bus to church

The girls love to ride the bus to church. Church is also one of their favorite places to go – they ask to go all week long!

2013 07 Summer Concerts

Ellie and Mom taking in a very hot summer concert together – so much fun!

2013 08 Beach Time

The girls loved their beach time in August!

2013 08 Beach

Carrie particularly loved the pier and looking at the fish.

2013 08 Cousins visiting

Cousins Luke and Julia came to visit in August. They had so much fun!

2013 08 Ellie visiting Caycay

Ellie visited Auntie Cay-cay and raided her amazing costume jewelry collection.

2013 08 Emilys Haircut

I chopped my hair!

2013 08 First Day of Playschool

The first day of Playschool for the twins!

2013 08 First Day with Mom

The girls couldn’t wait to go inside!

2013 08 Mommy Potty Training

The first day of potty training. It was harder on Mom (and Dad) than it was on the girls.

2013 08 Park Carrie

Carrie cruising at the park in August.

2013 08 Potty Training

Potty training bootcamp.

2013 08 Trikes with Carrie

Carrie giving her trike a tune-up in August.

2013 08 Trikes with Ellie

Ellie in August.

2013 08 Visiting Caycay

Carrie also raided Auntie Cay-cay’s jewelry. So glamorous!

2013 08 WI State Fair Ellie

Going to the Wisconsin State Fair was exhausting…

2013 08 WI State Fair

… and delicious!

2013 09 Fire Trucks

Ellie and Carrie explored their first fire truck!

2013 09 Prego

Holy positive pregnancy test, batman! It was a September to remember!

2013 09 Tea Party

Tea Partiers.

2013 10 FLying

Does someone have a future in aviation? Perhaps!

2013 10 Selfies Ellie

Mom and Ellie Selfies in October.

2013 10 Selfies

Mom and Carrie Selfie in October.

2013 10 Sports Carrie

Carrie enjoyed her first sports camp. Bend it like Beckham!

2013 10 Sports

Ellie is ready to take on the entire team. Solo. With one hand tied behind her back. Game on, girlfriend!

2013 11 Carrie in the Pantry

Carrie loves the pantry in the new house nearly as much as I do.

2013 11 Pool Carrie

Carrie is a future pool shark in the making.

2013 11 Pool Ellie

Important life skillz.

2013 11 Thanksgiving

The twins ready to celebrate Thanksgiving with Grandma Sandy and Grandpa K.

2013 11 Vegas

Frank and I enjoyed a lovely visit to Vegas in November. So much fun!

2013 12 Christmas Twins 2

Twin love at Christmas.

2013 12 Christmas Twins

Say Cheese! Say Merry Christmas!

2013 12 Christmas Twins 3

Santa came!

2013 12 Drawing Carrie

Carrie, our little lefty.

2013 12 Drawing

Ellie drawing.

2013 12 Hawks

Frank and I at a Hawks game. With that guy. Yo.

So, there you have it: 2013 in pictures.

It was a good year.

The forecast for 2014 calls for less sleep, lots of new baby snuggles and big sister hugs.

What a ride.

baby fever

Let’s be real: the reality of baby #3 has not totally sunk in.

You’d think 15 weeks in, post morning sickness, post exhaustion, post first trimester, I’d be all like, “Woot, woot. We gotta bay-bay cookin’!”

Only sort of.  I mean, yes, I totally know that I am pregnant.

And I understand that being pregnant often results in a baby.

The part I’m having trouble with is imagining what our life will look like with baby #3.

Perhaps I should’ve had a more solid vision of life with baby #3 before we began this process of getting pregnant.

Truthfully, I have a vision of life with child #3 – although I glossed over infancy and toddlerhood in my vision.  I love having two sisters and a brother.  I love the gatherings we have when we get together and laugh and giggle and talk and argue and laugh some more.  We are siblings and friends.

The twins have a unique and wonderful bond with each other because they have never known even a minute of existence without the other. Just tonight, we were driving home and Ellie was in a fowl mood.  Something about apple pies and Christmas trees really honked her off.  Ellie was muttering and sobbing in her car seat for about five minutes when Carrie yelled at her. Not in an angry, “What the heck?” kind of way, but in a mocking “this is how dumb you sound” kind of way. It worked.  Ellie found Carrie to be hilarious.  The next ten minutes of our ride was still filled with screaming, but mixed with fits of giggles as they made each other laugh.

It was the best.

It was why people have twins and siblings for their children.

When I think of this third child, I think of road trips and family vacations and Frank tossing the kids into the pool.  I think of three pairs of eyes peeking over the edge of our bed on Christmas morning, pleading with us to let them open their gifts from Santa.

I think of the twins teaching this child new things and this child being a joy to them. And a pain. And an annoyance.

The good and the bad… Family.

When we were in the midst of this whole having babies business the first time, I could barely dare to dream that we’d have a family – much less dream of a family of five.

When we decided to try to have a third baby, it seemed like less of a choice and more of a prayer that we tossed heavenward. And then we wondered.  And we hoped.

And God, being the funny and merciful One that He is, said, “Yes.”

Amazement. Awe.

More hope. More prayer.

Last night was an outright debacle. Nothing went as planned – not even close. After a “quick” stop by Walgreens for a prescription turned into a 30 minute fiasco and I brought my sobbing children into the house a full hour after bedtime, I felt totally outnumbered. I’d put one in bed, the other one would get out.  Finally, I had them both in bed and went on a quest for Jingle the Husky Pup.  I returned to mass chaos.

Carrie was sitting up in bed, crying and staring at Ellie.  Ellie was screaming and her nose was bleeding on EVERY THING. I carried her to the bathroom and stopped the bleeding, cleaned her up, stripped her bed, made her bed, put her back into her bed and then stood in the middle of their room. They looked at me and I looked at them.

And it felt like together we all thought, “So, Mom, what happens when you have a third infant in a carrier that needs a bath and a diaper and dinner and pajamas and bed? What about when that happens?”

I doubt I would’ve made all of the same choices that got me to the point of utter meltdown, but I also know that I can’t plan for everything.

There will come a point where a similar scenario plays out.

I’m glad I have six more months to get my “poop in a group” because right now, I am so not ready.

updates with parenthood

I loved the 1989 movie Parenthood. I would categorize it as a movie that I loved when it came out (I was nine) and love even more now that I’m a parent – especially since I get the jokes (which, side note, OMG – why was I allowed to watch this movie when I was 9??). In the theme of the movie, here are updates on the recent happenings in the K Family… in no particular order.

On family…

Justin(3 year old son): Who’s that?

Gil (Dad): It’s my kid brother, Larry, your uncle. Don’t give him any money.

Justin: I won’t.

My youngest sister Sarah turned 21 on September 27.  I remember when she was born calculating how old I would be when she hit important milestones in her life. I figured out that I would be 32 when she was 21.  I remember thinking two things, first: “WOW… I’ll be old!” and second: “I won’t be relevant any more! How could I be 32 and cool?”

Oh, dear, sweet, young Emily.  You are as relevant and as cool at 32 as you were at 21. That’s not saying much, but it’s OK. Have a cocktail, toast your sister and color your roots.  I mean seriously, is that fairy dust or sparkly grays?

 

On marriage…

[Gil has been complaining about his complicated life; Grandma wanders into the room]

Grandma: You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.

Gil: Oh?

Grandma: Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride!

Gil: What a great story. (sarcasm)

Grandma: I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

… A few moments later…

Karen: I happen to LIKE the roller coaster, okay? As far as I’m concerned, your grandmother is brilliant.

Gil: Yeah if she’s so brilliant why is she sitting in our NEIGHBOR’S CAR?

We live on a roller coaster.  Frank is home, Frank is gone.  Some of the hills and loops are familiar – kids to sitter, kids to doctor, kids home, go to work, leave lunch on the counter at home.  Some of the twists are new – new projects, opportunities, moving homes, and so on.

I love our roller coaster.  I love that there is an element of juggling involved in our lives and I love when everything goes smoothly.

Our roller coaster makes me appreciate quiet Saturday nights like this one, where I can spend some time writing.

I used to think I was a merry-go-round kinda girl at my core. Until there was Frank; Frank makes the ride worth it and taught me how to love the roller coaster.  After ten years of marriage on September 19, I’d pick the roller coaster every time. T M, A.

 

On parenting… 

Frank (Dad): You know, when you were two years old, we thought you had polio. Did you know that?

Gil (Son): Yeah, Mom said… something about it a couple of years ago.

Frank: Yeah, well, for a week we didn’t know. I hated you for that.

[Gil looks surprised and hurt]

Frank: I did. I hated having to care, having to go through the pain, the hurt, the suffering. It’s not for me.

One of the hardest parts of parenting is not what you have to do for your children – it’s learning to accept what you can’t do for your children. We do our best to set a good framework, provide rules and boundaries – but every now and then something crops up and they are the only ones who can handle it.

We are rapidly hitting these moments – potty training, going to play school (Pre-pre-school, essentially), and generally redirecting them when they are misbehaving.  Parenting is an art and a science and a test in parental patience, will-power and self-discipline.

But it is so worth it.  The girls make jokes now – with each other and with us.  The play together so nicely much of the time and I am surprised by the few times they need a parent to step in and break up a disagreement.

Ellie is a gentle soul with alpha baby tendencies.  She does not like stern reprimands and apologizes almost to the point of fault.  She will certainly stand up to her sister and has mastered the screeching scream as a method to scare Carrigan away from a beloved stuffed animal or toy. I wasn’t feeling well the other day and Ellie was persistent in her questioning, “Mom, are you OK? Do you need medicine? Do you need to see the doc-tor?” She asked these questions with her curly red head cocked to one side and her eyebrows raised in serious concern.

Carrie is hilarious and gregarious.  We were getting ice cream – her favorite treat – and she walked into the ice cream store like she owned it.  She said hello to everyone, investigated the toppings and ice cream selections, requesting sprinkles like an old pro. And that’s the way she is – she walks into a room and says, “Hello friends! How’s it going?” with a big, confident smile on her face.  She has started striking poses with one hand on her hip – which is incredibly funny! She has a sensitive side that is tough to navigate; she will throw up a wall if she wants to ignore your request and is genuinely sorry when she’s done wrong.

 

on life…

Frank: Gil, you have a good memory. Uh, was it yours or Helen’s or Susan’s wedding I got drunk at?

Gil: It was all three, Dad. Congratulations.

Frank: Well, which one did I punch the band leader?

Gil: That was mine. We have photos. I’m having them blown up for the commitment hearings.

And in conclusion…

I am constantly re-learning the meaning of family.  It’s a lesson that evolves and morphs and changes, but the result is always the same for me: family is both the people I was born stuck with and the people I choose to be stuck with. Family is always worth the time and the fight and the energy.

wednesdays

It is Wednesday night in the suburbs of Chicago.  Specifically, it is 7:45 p.m. on a Wednesday night – the time when the somewhat late Chicago commuters are briskly walking to their cars in a twilight parking lot.  Late, but not too late to kiss the kids good night.

But I am not a part of that fray.  Maybe in a different life.

But not this one.

In this one, I am lying on the floor of my twin daughters’ room.  Sprawled, almost like a bad crime scene.  I am dressed like a mullet – half loungewear on the bottom and half work attire on the top.

It is dark.  It is dark because the heels of my hands are pressed on my eyes, rubbing methodically.  I hear two sets of feet running down the hall.  One set stops at the door and one set stops next to my head.  I slowly remove my hands. I see a bottom.

A clothed bottom.

Which, as a parent of toddler twins, a clothed bottom is about all you can ask for when presented with a derriere in your face.

This particular derriere belongs to Ellie.  She is in position to do a summersault.  She turns her head to look over her shoulder to make sure I’m paying attention.

I flip her and land her on my legs.  She hops off.

“Again!” she pronounces.

Carrie has returned from her adventures in the hallway.  She is holding Super Pickle: a plush pickle that used to belong to Frank when he was young, but who has now come into favor with Carrie as her new stuffed best friend.

“Pickle, Mama! Super Pickle!”  She makes Super Pickle fly.

Ellie is at the door now, about to embark on an adventure.  She turns to me before she departs and I hear her say, “I want some socks Mama!”

I furrow my brow.

“Socks are in your closet, Ellie.”

She furrows her brow.

“I want some SOCKS Mama.”

I lay my head down on the floor again and replay the words over and over in my head.

“Socks?”

“SOCKS!”

Carrie understands, though.  She goes to the door to leave as well.

“I want some socks, too, Mama!” says Carrie.

“Socks?”

“SOCKS! I want some socks.”

“Socks?” I ask again.

Carrie repeats herself at least a half dozen times.  She is so emphatic about the words, she is drooling, but somehow looking at me like I am crazy the crazy one.

And then I realize what she wants.

Snacks.

Never, ever have my children pleaded fervently for footwear.

I should’ve known.

We are down the stairs and snacking within seconds and my children are relieved.  They were probably wondering if they had a remedial mama and subsequently wondering what they will tell the other kids on the playground.  I can imagine the scene at the top of the slide:  The girls huddled with two of their best slide-riding buddies, whispering, “We asked for snacks and she kept saying socks. Do you think the Park District has a program for her?”

I want to explain to them that I can’t read lips and even a southern accent is difficult for me to understand. Nothing else major is wrong with me, I want to explain to them.  Well, nothing too major.

But, there are some surprises better left for when they are older.

So they have some puréed fruit and I sweep the floor and we all three consider entirely different lines of thought.

Ellie counts to ten.  Then says her ABC’s. And then congratulates herself on her tremendous accomplishments.  I tell her how smart she is, but it is just icing on the cake.  Girlfriend is independent.

Carrie investigates the shapes she can make squeezing the fruit on the table until I stop her.  She may be boisterous and tough seeming on the outside, she has a big, sensitive heart.  After I take away her fruit and firmly (but nicely) admonish her for dumping it out, I hug her and squeeze her.

Back up the stairs we go.  Snuggles. A round of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” More snuggles.

It’s hard to believe they were ever tiny.  It’s hard to believe that Carrie’s weight actually dipped a little below 5 lbs in the NICU before she came home.

I remember living through the moments with them, listening to them breathe while they slept on my chest, and I thought, “I will never forget how tiny they were.”

And while I know they were tiny, I can’t remember it.  I can’t imagine it.

If you’ve seen the twins lately, they are little girls.  They rode their first carnival rides.  Ate their first carnival food, even.  #ParentsOfTheYear #OnlyOrganicCarnivalFood #BAHAHAHA

My parents and their parents and their parents all warned me.  “You will age.  It goes so fast.”

And I remember just not comprehending it when I was younger. I knew I’d age, but for some reason I thought time would always be ahead of me. But now, there are 32 1/2 years of time behind me.

My peers are noticing this reality, too. Many have especially commented on the kids’ music today. And the clothes. And the catch-phrases. Sometimes they don’t hear themselves saying the words.  Sometimes they do.  And then they repeat themselves – just to hear it again. The words are eerily familiar and yet, the words are not their own.  The words are those of our grandparents and great grandparents saying, “I told you…”

I tend to believe that the ones who have gone before us would also tell us a whole lot of other things about life. How precious it is.  How fragile it is. How you can’t ever really know the first two things until you’ve lived it for a while.

I look at the little girls tucked into their beds. I know how it happened that they are not little babies any more – how they grew up.  I know that it happened over a series of Wednesday nights, much like this one.

Wednesday nights here are like driving through downstate Illinois. Fields and fields of corn, as far as the eye can see. Fields that seem to stretch on, all the way to forever, until you pull off the highway at your destination and you realize you’ve traveled 300 miles without ever noticing it.

We are a long way from where we were.  I’m glad we have a long way yet to go.

hello? hello? is anybody home?

I’ve been trying to write a blog post for like, weeks.

I start.

I stop.

I think about it.  I remember I have an episode of Property Brothers or Love it or List it.

I realize the DVR is a hot mess and that once again, the girls have randomly recorded Telemundo.

I start again.

The dishes need to be done.  The laundry needs to be folded.

Work.

Life.

Snuggles.

Fights need to be broken up over the girls’ much loved baby dolls.

… and fake cell phones.  And crayons. And stuffed animals.

The list goes on and on.

And then one of the girls hides under a high chair, or screams at the ducks outside.

And I’m all like, “I SHOULD BLOG! This moment! Must remember it always!”

… and then I forget because just as soon as the twins are doing something cute, water is boiling over on the stove or they found my lipstick. etc. etc. etc.

It feels like writer’s block.

But it’s not.

It’s life block.

And, honestly, a little bit of self-censorship.

I mean, I’d love to go on a good old fashioned political rant.  Or a “what’s wrong with America” diatribe, but you know, this is not the forum for that.  And honestly, no one needs any more of that shenanigans.

I prefer lighter, more uplifting word fare.

I read this blog written by a woman namedGlennon and I love it because it focuses on love and friendship and working at life together in a team.  I appreciate what she does for the sisterhood. The sentiment of supporting and encouraging each other is something I believe in.

And, in much the same way, I think Ree builds up the sisterhood by reminding us that nothing cures what ails ya quite like homemade pasta, bacon and cheese. I believe in that, too.

Organic, of course.  (Unless no one’s looking, then I’ll take whatever bacon/cheese/pasta I can get my hands on!)

But my point is this: chocolate.

And, if I have an option, just in case I do, wine, too.

In closing, my new year’s resolutions are as follows:

  • Continue losing weight.
  • Try to exercise more.  Running after the twins does not count.
  • Blog more.  Like three times a month. Not like, never.

That is all. Candy.