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.

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 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.

the bump (19 weeks)

OK, it’s taken me a while to post a belly picture, but more because I’ve been busy with other things (the usual culprits: work, the holidays, sleeping…).  This picture is already out of date, but I figured it would be good to give some context.  The below picture is from 19 weeks:

beautiful things

This morning at church they played a song by Gungor called “Beautiful Things”.  The lyrics were really simple, but really poignant:

All this pain / I wonder if I’ll even find my way / I wonder if my life could really change at all / All this earth / Could all that is lost ever be found / Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things / You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things / You make beautiful things out of us

Even though we are pregnant now, I still think a lot about our struggles with fertility. I think about how tested I felt and how alone, even in the midst of knowing quite a few people going through the same things.  I think about how often I wondered why we were going through this challenge.

A lot of the time, I think about how I could’ve done it better.

Maybe I could’ve been more positive and more optimistic.  Maybe I could’ve made it easier for the people around me by not talking about it or by talking about it more or by talking about it more positively.  Maybe I could’ve put on an attitude that was happier and more joyful, even when I was hurting.

And I kind of wonder what would’ve been accomplished.

It’s been occurring to me more and more the importance of reaching outward in difficult times and of being honest about where I am at, even if that location is not exactly lovely.  Glossing over feelings and putting up a front of being happy and in control is great if my goal is to make people feel like I have my crap together.  But it doesn’t do anything to draw people in, to connect with others or build community.  Of course, I believe there is a time and a place for being emotionally honest (ahem, losing it at work is not an option).

And then I think of Frank.

Frank loves to help people do projects around their homes.  He’s really good at helping, too.  He is much more coordinated than I am, so he is definitely more of an asset than a liability in pretty much any home improvement project.  He is smart, but he is not someone who thinks he has all the answers – which means he’s willing to problem solve and take direction.

Whenever he’s been asked to help with something and he’s not flying, he willingly and joyfully obliges.

And the thing about when he helps people is that it builds community.  He gets to know the other guys he’s working with and they usually feel like they are closer friends for having done the work.  I would argue that it is more effective for guys to build relationships working alongside each other than it is to go on a double date with their wives/girlfriends.

It’s just how guys are.

But imagine if no one asked him to help?  If everyone could just do it on their own?

I have a friend Rose, who you’ve read about here on my blog.  She and I have struggled with starting a family for some time.  She’s probably one of the sweetest girls I know.  And I doubt we’d be as good of friends as we are if we had not struggled through this fertility stuff together.  If she had said, “yeah, everything is WONDERFUL for me” and I’d lied and said the same thing, we’d probably never know each other as well as we do.

We share in the struggles together.  We cheer each other onward.  We rejoice and we grieve together.

I would also suggest that sometimes it’s the small things that bring us together.  Yes, the holidays are a great time for families to come together, but I also think that casual Tuesday night dinners and birthday dinners and celebrations of day-to-day things also brings us all closer.

So I don’t think I did the fertility stuff perfectly.  I didn’t keep myself together in a perfect little package of happiness.  But I don’t regret the struggle.

The song at church today reminded me that God uses all of this life we live to make beautiful things.  Out of the dust of our sadness and pain, God has grown friendships, strengthened our marriage and rooted us more deeply in our faith.  Our God is a faithful God, no matter the circumstance.

so much to say!

Ok, in no particular order:

1.  I am running again.  Well, jogging.  Very, very, very slowly.  At this point, it’s as much for my physical health as it is for my emotional health.  I find that when I run, I am able to process things better and have more energy.  So I am committed to running/jogging/moving my booty every other day.

2.  For anyone wondering about my sugarless lifestyle, yes, we are still sugarless in the K House.  I have to say, there have been quite a few moments of weakness, but we are proud that we haven’t caved.  The only sweets we had were for FK’s 30th birthday.  Hey, that’s a pretty special occasion, right?  So we busted out some cinnamon bread pudding and homemade whipped cream.  Soooo good.  I was worried that it would become some kind of gateway drug – you know, leading to other sugary delights – but we stayed the course and did not venture any further into Candyland.

3. There have been lots of different themes floating around in my life.  I want to write extensively on every single theme, but right now is not the time.  Here are some highlights:

a. Definitions.  I’ve been wondering a lot about how to take control about how I’m defined, both by others and more importantly by myself.  This concern is on a personal and professional level.  Personally, I’m not afraid of being defined as someone who has had a very difficult time having children, but I AM afraid of being defined as ONLY that.  And maybe “afraid” is the wrong word.  I think if people only saw me for this trial, that would be a very limited way of looking at me and that I, and others, would miss out on the bigger picture of what God is doing in my life.  I also think about this a lot professionally, too – the woman who did my job previously really only focused on one particular area, whereas I’ve branched out and brought an entirely different skill set to the game.  I’m concerned that my success is being defined only based on area, without taking into consideration all of the other things I’m bringing to the table.  I have ideas on how to resolve my professional dilemma, but it’s a little bit more difficult to resolve the personal side of things.

b. Attitude. I’ve been battling attitude a lot lately.  For a great many reasons, it’s been particularly difficult for me to keep my attitude in check.  The running is helping with cleaning out any emotional overload, allowing me to refocus my energies when I feel myself slipping into a swirling vortex of sadness.  I think it’s a difficult one to balance, though, because I do believe that I need to be where I am, and not rush through it.  Said another way, I’ve spent a lot of my life checking things off of lists.  I like to do that.  But living a life of checking things off of lists sometimes means that I rush through things to just to get through the list.  A conversation I had tonight reminded me that life is really a series of processes and experiences, not a neat and tidy notebook of lists with check marks next to each item. Discontentment is being in one place, but believing that I should be somewhere else.  I kind of wonder if I would be more content if I just said, “Ok, this is where I am today, and that is ok” – with an understanding that I would not be in this same emotional place forever.  What does it look like to live a more contented life?  Hm.

c. Fluidity. In 2004/2005, I was working a lot of hours.  A lot of hours.  Even when I was not at work, I was mentally at work.  My brain was constantly thinking about things going on at the office; looking for solutions to problems I was having.  It doesn’t help that I worked in advertising and our world is inundated with ad messages.  Even if I didn’t want to take work home with me, it was everywhere.  But when I look back at that time and remember trips we took or things we did, I don’t remember the pervasiveness of work.  I just remember the fun things.  It’s amazing how my brain can edit out work and make my memories into a nice, clean 30 minute montage.  So why do I bring that up and what does it have to do with being more fluid?  Well, I realize that I have a selective way of remembering things.  I remember the joys of the simplicity of life being young when I feel overwhelmed.  But when I really remember what it was like to be me in second grade, I also have to remember that I was totally overwhelmed by simple things then (which were not so simple to me at the time).  I remember lying in bed one night, tossing and turning because I forgot to bring a worksheet home from school.  I knew I would get a “zero” for the assignment.  I finally went into my parents room really late at night (probably 10 p.m.) and told my mom what I was thinking about.  She laughed and told me about times when she felt the same way. The adrenaline from worrying about that worksheet left a bitter, metallic taste in my mouth.  The same taste I get even now when I realize I forgot something or am on a tight deadline.  We edit our memories.  Things do seem better in the past and more hopeful in the future.  Life is constant change.  People are born, people die, people move away, people move in… The sooner that I am comfortable with the idea that nothing is permanent in this life, the easier it is to roll with the punches.  I was not born as a person who is comfortable with being fluid, but over time I’ve come to be better with it.  I think being married to a pilot has expedited my personal growth in this area.  Let’s not go crazy though – I have hardly mastered being fluid and I still love a good check list, but in the realm of things I cannot control, learning to be fluid has been an excessively helpful trait.

So yeah.  Just a few thoughts.  No particular order.  More on some of them later.  Or maybe not.  Well, you can be 100% assured that I will likely talk about running and sugar again.  I’m predictable like that.

stopping the insanity

So, clearly, this weekend appeared to be a weekend of excess.  And could I have eaten less pasta and bread?  Yeah, probably.  And could I have eaten less candy/chocolate/ice cream?  Probably.  But I would also say that I didn’t eat as much of the candy/chocolate/ice cream as I wanted. And that poses a problem for me.

As I learned back in January, I am hypoglycemic.  This means that carbs are a particular problem for me because my body absorbs and distributes the carbs so quickly that I CRASH after carbo-loading.  Eating carbs causes me to have a blood sugar low within an hour or so that makes me FEEL super hungry.

As a matter of fact, when I eat candy mid-afternoon, by the time I get home at 5:30, I am irrationally hungry.  I don’t even bother to stop at the store because I am SO hungry that I am not sure how I will make it through the store without A) forgetting half of my list or B) maiming the first person who tries to abscond with my cart.

And don’t get me started with the parking lot.Let’s just assume there would be much carnage.

So anyway, I do not make wise decisions when I am on a sugar low.

Plus, my body converts these carbs to fat faster than you can say “Put down the butter Paula Deen!”  And if that wasn’t enough to make me pass on the sugary delights, the fact that we would like to get pregnant again means that I am at high risk for developing gestational diabetes.  While a high birth weight for our babies has always been a real possibility (my dear husband rocked the scales at a mighty 13 1/2 lbs and 24 inches of pure baby delight), gestational diabetes ups the ante significantly.  If that was the only serious side affect of gestational diabetes, that would be one thing.  Unfortunately, there are several other unfortunate potential by-products of gestational diabetes that give me pause for concern.

I realize that the idea of giving up all sweets seems … well… un-American.

I mean, who does that?

But after taking a long, hard look at myself in the mirror, reviewing the scale, and looking in the mirror again, I decided that I need to do just that.

Oh, not to worry, the idea of giving up all sweets did not come without serious mental protest and angst.  My poor, sugar-addicted brain said, “But dear Emily, what about BIRTHDAY cake?  What knd of person says NO to BIRTHDAY cake?? What about having something sweet to make eating healthy worth it?  Just a little bit of sweet stuff won’t hurt!”

Does a birthday cake make the birthday, I ask you?  Do I need a 3 p.m. sugar fix?  Do I need dessert after EVERY DINNER?  The fact that I tried to find reasons NOT to give it up was the biggest indicator that I SHOULD give it up.

I submit to you this: the celebration is to be augmented by the food.  The food is not to be augmented by the celebration.  This is a VERY difficult decision for me to give up sweets.  But I realized I was putting my desire to have a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ahead of being healthy.  I was putting a slice of amazing, gooey chocolate cake ahead of feeling good.

Not any more.  Starting tomorrow (I had ice cream before I made the decision today), Frank and I are quitting the sweets cold turkey.  It’s going to be difficult because I am going to have to be really honest about what is a sweet and what is not.  I thought about buying some Fiber-One bars for their fiber-related benefits and because… wait for it… they also have a chocolate product.  Houston, I have a problem.  Using a Fiber-One bar to “replace” candy is not right.

And, of course, I realize that my eating habits are causing a rift with God and in my marriage.  I know that sounds far-fetched, but bear with me.  When I eat poorly, I feel bad about myself.  Instead of focusing on becoming the person that God wants me to be, I focus on how bad I feel about myself.  And if that’s not enough, I happen to have a wonderful, sweet, adoring husband who thinks that I am beautiful, no matter what, but I turn him away so I can have a self-loathing pity party.  Now, Frank muscles through it, but I think about how much BETTER my marriage would be if we avoided these kinds of pity parties all together.

So anyway.  This is my new adventure.  Anyone else want to join me?  I plan on discussing this frequently on the blog as I am anticipating a lot of withdrawal symptoms that may include “the shakes” and inexplicable crying/anger.  But once I get through the detox portion, I expect that I will feel MUCH better.  Right?  ::scratches arms, looks for a candy bar:: Right??