an open letter from the twins

Hello world, it’s us. The twins.  Well, it’s me, Carrie, writing on behalf of both of us.

We thought it was about time the world heard our side of the story.

Sure, you’ve heard all the “wah, wah, my bey-beyz barfied on everything” nonsense our mom and dad still whine about on a regular basis.

News flash: we have not puked since like, December. Except for that one time that Ellie puked like 6 times in a row.  Not sure what was up with that, but whatevs. Sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

So Mom and Dad are all like, “Get off the coffee table!” and “Point to your nose!” and “Say, ‘more please!'”

It’s all well and good that they want us to be all verbal and respectful and stuff, but Ellie and I have been talking it over and we think it’s pretty amazing that we can climb on the coffee table.

I mean, a year ago, it was a big deal that we could roll over.  Now? We can hurl our 25 pound bodies up on the glass coffee table faster than you can say, “Babe, you watching the twins?”

Y’know what else? We rock the tech. Give us an iPhone or a remote control and we can do some serious damage.  Two weeks ago, we got Siri to call one of Mom’s work contacts.  Three weeks ago, we turned on Telemundo AND set the DVR to record it.

Doods – there are people like five decades older than us who can’t figure out how to record stuff on the DVR.  We got it LOCKED. DOWN!

So yeah.

Also? We are good babies.  We know we are. Sure, we don’t like the nursery at church and get all up in the sweet church ladies’ grills, but ya win some, ya lose some.  It’s all in the name of scoring a few extra gold fish crackers and cheerios while you’re up in church and we’re doing time.

And sure, we tend to run off in opposite directions when you try to play with us outside.  It’s called strategy.  Ellie and I figure that if we divide, we will conquer. And it works.

While it seems like we’re smart cookies, we do a few repetiviely dumb things, like walking straight off the step down into the family room.  Mom, Dad, I don’t think we’re Mensa material, but I don’t think we’ll be a total bust either.

You gotta take the good with the bad, for sure.

Guys, I know you’re gonna be all up tight and all “my kids have to excel at all things” and stuff, but chill.  It’s gonna be OK.  We’ll learn how to talk.  We will likely go to college potty trained.  And we’re probably gonna do some bone-headed things in the meantime.

I mean, Mom, you got your TONGUE stuck in your BRACES. And Dad, is there anything you DIDN’T hit with your head??  You both turned out OK, right?

So yeah. It’ll be fine. Have a glass of wine on the porch, but keep it down. We’re trying to catch our z’s.

Until then, peace out P’s (Parents).

XOXO,

Carrie & Ellie

how we say “i love you…”

When Frank and I were first dating, we thought it would be incredibly insightful to read the book The Five Love Languages. We were being all academic about love.

We bought the books… and then?

And then we spent the last decade making up our own love language.

Yes, that’s right, Frank and I have been hanging out romantically for a decade now.

Whoa.

So to celebrate a decade of smoochin’ and snugglin’ and stealin’ each other’s desserts – I thought I’d kick things off right with the top 10 ways we say “I love you.”

In no particular order:

10. Snuggles.

We snuggle all.the.time.  It’d be annoying if it wasn’t so delicious. There are nights where we follow one another from one side of the bed to the other and back again.  We’ve even named some of our favorite ways to snuggle.  That way, like good little quarterbacks, one of us can yell out, “SWEET SPOT!” and we assume the position.

9. The Clean House Maneuver.

This maneuver works great on both of us. It’s not complicated: clean the house while the other spouse is out. That one gets me every time!

8. The Clean Car Maneuver.

Similar to #9, but with either or (if particularly amorous) both vehicles. It differs from #9 because we have, on occasion, let our cars get particularly yucky.

7. Sweet Texts.

I’m sure in the olden days, spouses would have to find a piece of paper and pen and ::GASP:: write a note. Us? We just grab our phones and shoot over a text message.  Some of my favorites:

Frank: 11:30 a.m. doctor appointment for the twins.

Me: OK.

Frank (a few hours later): It’s Herpes.

Me: What?!

Frank: Nevermind. Girls are fine. Love you!

Frank is, as you may know, a pilot.  Occasionally (frequently…) I forget where he is going, until he gets there and texts me:

Frank: Love you in SFO (San Francisco)

Me: Oh, good. I didn’t know where you were going. XOXO.

On the first Tuesday of every month, the state tests tornado sirens.  Every first Tuesday at 10 a.m., I get a text that looks something like this:

Frank: DISASTER IMMINENT!! SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE!! LOVE YOU!!

Me: Shhh. In meeting.

6. Laughing at the Same Jokes Over and Over and Over Again…

We have a cycle of jokes that is on endless loop.  Just like when I was kid and my sister and I watched Howard the Duck on an endless loop until my mom “dropped” the VHS tape, Frank and I can’t get enough of some of the same old jokes.

And there is comfort in that. Singing goofy versions of Kenny Loggins song Danny’s Song (“Even though you look kinda funny, I don’t care cuz you’ve got money!”); Frank chasing me up the stairs saying, “I’m gonna getcha!” while I freeze-up laughing, unable to move; holding hands and trying to be the first to tuck our thumb in between; responding to the other with “yer mom”; and the list goes on and on. No matter what we’re going through – there is always a small, sweet way that we can say “I love you” that brings a smile to both of our faces.

… Juvenile as it may be…

5. Holding Hands.

When snuggling isn’t an option, we often have to settle for holding hands. We hold hands everywhere we can – even in the car. We talk about how if we have to be in separate beds in the nursing home that if we can’t snuggle there, we’ll hold hands all the way until the end. Pity the nursing home peeps that try to get in between us. We will go all ninja old people on them. That’s how we roll, yo.

4. The Postcard.

You guys:  Frank and I have never discussed this.  Ever.  It’s one of the rules of Postcard Club: we don’t talk about the postcard. Seriously. I was worried that if I shared the postcard, it might lose some of its magic, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take so that our children and our children’s children will know exactly how nuts we are. 

In 2005, I took a trip to Utah for work.  It was a lovely trip, but only a 2 day adventure.  I bought a postcard that I intended to mail to Frank, but never did because I would get home before the postcard would.  I gave Frank the postcard and thought it was the end of the postcard. Until I found it tucked in one of my drawers.  So I put it in his overnight bag.  And he put it in my work bag.  And I put it in the cupboard next to his cereal and he put it in my pillowcase.

This postcard has made it through at least 3 moves and 7 years without being lost.  Which is more than I can say for about half a dozen spoons, three dinner plates and a shelf.

Whenever I find the postcard, sometimes months between sightings, it always makes me smile.

3. Spanish Radio.

Yes.  You read that right.  Nothing says, “I love you” like 105.1 FM in Chicago.

See, because we use our SUV for carting around the twins and our sedan for lots of driving/chores/what-have-you, we tend to swap out cars a lot.  And even if we aren’t swapping out cars, Frank often is nearby my place of employment to drop off the babies and from time to time, he stops by my car, turns the radio to Spanish Radio and cranks the volume.

While some people live in fear of turning the key in the ignition and a bomb going off, I live in fear of turning the key in the ignition and being bombarded with the music stylings of an enthusiastic mariachi band.

But as soon as I peel myself off of the ceiling of my car and get my wits about me, I remember that it is just a small way of Frank saying “I love you” using the only Spanish he remembers from high school.  Note: Aside from finding Spanish Radio formats on the dial, he can also say “The cat is on fire” and “The cat is in my pants.” What can I say? I’m smitten…

2. Our Rings.

For most married people, their wedding bands are a symbol of the promises they made to one another.  You know, the part where I lied and told Frank I loved to cook and could not wait to cook all.the.time? (And now Frank does 99.9% of the cooking)

But for us, our rings are also a symbol of our love (which is probably what it symbolizes for everyone else, too… we aren’t very original in that department… but whatever this is our top 10 list!).

I’ll spare you most of the schmoopy details, but basically it went like this:

Me: I love you, Frank.

::Cue the music, the soft lighting, the raw romance. Soap operas and love stories could learn something from this kind of passion.::

Frank: Aw, I love you, too babe.

After a few seconds of analysis.

Frank: If you were to quantify your love for me, how much would you say you had?

Me: This much!

Frank: (furrowing his mighty eyebrows) Which way?

Me: (exasperated) Always!

And so when Frank and I were engaged, we each separately decided to engrave a message on the inside of the other’s wedding band.  On the day of our wedding, after the vows and rings were exchanged, we couldn’t wait to slip off our rings to see what the other wrote on the inside. When I slipped the ring off of my finger and turned it into the light, I saw that, magically, we both wrote:

“I know where you live.”

Ha ha.  Just kidding.

We each engraved: “This Much, Always. 09-19-03”

I mean, occasionally we do get things right.

And so, when we look at our wedding bands, it is a constant reminder of our love – and that I don’t cook. Ever. Except when I get in the mood. But really, let’s be honest: dude has to cook all of the meals.

And, last, but not least:

1. We Love to Make Each Other Laugh.

Sure, I guess that’s been the under-riding theme of this entire post.  But truly, nothing delights either one of us more than the other being delighted.

These are the kinds of pictures that Frank sends to me with some sort of funny caption.

Eventually Frank’s series of Panda captions became his Anniversary Card to me one year.

And for Frank’s Golden Birthday, I surprised him with a few of his closest friends and some bread pudding.  He was delighted!

I always get a laugh out of Frank when I make that face.  What can I say??  I’m a charmer.

***

And so, in summary, we are probably certifiably crazy.  But that’s OK: we’re crazy together.

To Frank, I say, “Thank you for being my friend!”

… “Travel ’round the world and back again.  Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant!  And if you threw a party! And invited everyone you knew!  You would see, the biggest gift would be from me and the card attached would say, ‘THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND!'” (Sung loudly, totally off-key and with heart because really, if you don’t sing it with heart, what’s the point??)

Extra Credit: Name that TV show theme song.  Nate? You got this one?

three things: being tall

If you know me in real life, you know that I am 6’1″ tall.  And it’s also likely that you know that my dear husband, Frank, is 6’9″ tall. For those of you on the other side of the world using the fabulous metric system, that is a LOT of centimeters/meters.  Believe me. I’m too lazy to go over to Google and figure out the exact numbers, but it’s huge.

And so, without further ado, here are three things about being tall:

thing #1: Yes, I am Tall.  

Every day, everywhere I go, someone asks me about my height.  How tall are you? Where do you find your pants?  Did you play basketball? How’s the weather up there? Are your parents tall? (feels like a thinly veiled attempt to suggest that I might be a freak show… just sayin’….)

If Frank and I go out together, it’s mass hsyteria.  We’ve watched small children walk into walls staring at us.  Entire tables of people will turn their heads – especially if we are out with another normal-sized couple because they just enhance our tallness.

We were at a bar once and a guy actually REACHED DOWN AND LIFTED UP MY PANT LEG to see if I was wearing heals.  WHO DOES THAT? Apparently that dude does it.

My lovely friend Eve said, “Well, it’s just people trying to connect – albeit ineptly…” and I can see where she’s coming from.  But, whatever happened to inane comments on the weather or the local sports team?? I can totally dish on the Blackhawks with the best of ’em…

thing #2: Tall People Need Clothes, Too.

If I walk into one more store with a petites section, I am going to lose my brain.

Seriously. You can cut things shorter, but you can’t cut them longer. Tall people need clothes, too.  And cute clothes.  Not the stuff they sell at Tall Girl or Big & Tall Men’s stores. Legit nice clothes.  Frank went over to a Big & Tall store, hoping to find a pair of dockers that he could TRY ON and BUY, but everything in his length (37″ inseam) was in a 76″ waist. And I know – there’s a ton of stuff available online, but do you know how annoying it is to buy something, pay for shipping, wait for it to arrive, find out it’s not your size and then ship it back, waiting for the next item to come in – ugh – it could be almost a month before you get your clothes!  I would love to know what it’s like to walk into a store, find pants that are long enough and walk out with said pants.

I will say that I’ve become a better shopper and have found a few stores that have a few sizes/items that work, but it’s few and far between.

thing #3: Tall People are People, Too!

I know that I am tall and that in arranging groups of people for pictures that it is easier to put me in the back row.  And I try not to stand in front of short people in church because, man, it must be annoying to not be able to see.  But, just because I’m tall, doesn’t mean that I don’t have feelings too! Standing next to me and saying, “Wow, I feel short!” or trying to subtly walk next to me so that your friends can determine how much taller I am than you or asking me to get something from the top shelf at the supermarket when I am CLEARLY not an employee of said supermarket, is rude.

So, as in most life situations, the golden rule is always best: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

And hey, I say all of this as a person who has put her foot in her own mouth frequently.  I try to always respond nicely and kindly to others commenting on my height because that is the grace I would like shown to me. But, in the meantime, this is what it is like to be tall and if you find yourself walking up to a tall girl to ask her if her parents are tall (with the unsaid “or are you just a freakshow who had too many growth hormones in her milk?”), maybe you’ll think twice and complement her on her hair instead.

Thanks for reading!

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.

evolution

For those of you who were guessing that my post would be an announcement of another pregnancy – you are very wrong.

Frank would lose his ever-loving mind if we had another child barely a year younger than the twins.

Nope.  This is not a clever blog announcement about a pregnancy.

I started this blog the same month that Frank and I became engaged to be married.  I was 22 years old.

I had been out of college for less than one year.  I had been working for less than six months.

I am not even really sure why I started the blog, other than that I had a weird fascination with the idea of having a diary.  And I’m not even sure why I had that weird fascination.  I’m a terrible correspondent.  Ask anyone who has tried to correspond with me.  I found letters from my darling college roommate, Kelly, and nearly wept at the beautiful notes she would write me.

I doubt that she could make the same claim about the letters I wrote her. Because I didn’t write.  I was a horrible pen pal.

If you look at my blog from 2003, you will find that it was nothing more than a documentation of shopping excursions, what I ate and how I felt about it, and who could forget my rankings of area shopping malls?? (answer: just about anyone and everyone could and should forget it)

I don’t go back to those early postings very often.  Sometimes I do re-read various posts from our wedding planning.  But truthfully, my most pressing concern (if I’m being honest) was finding a tube top so that I would tan evenly.  Heaven help me if I had strap marks while wearing my strapless wedding gown!

I look back on those early years and I wonder at how Frank and I managed to make a life together.  I mean, considering how seriously the odds were stacked against us (under the age of 25, for starters) and then reading my blathering thoughts at the time, it’s a wonder that we managed to move across state lines, find full time employment and not critically hurt ourselves in the process.

But here we are.

I look back on those early years – my immaturity and my self-absorbed interests – and I am struck not by how much I’ve changed, but how much more aware I am that I haven’t changed as much as I should have.

Yeah, this post is not about patting myself on the back.

“Way to go, self, you managed to generally stay clear of the Emergency Room for most of your adult life. Bravo.”

No.

I think a lot of life is about peaks and valleys.  Peaks offer a moment of clarity where I get to see where I am going and where I have been – and realize that the road in both directions is long, winding and generally uncertain.

And valleys remind me of my own humanity.

I think that I am on a momentary peak.

The K-Fam, for all intents and purposes, is doing very, very well.  Frank is employed.  I am employed.  The girls are healthy and growing and developing and have clean diapers on (at the moment).  We have food and shelter and enough extra cash to afford a brand new Starbucks addiction (as long as I keep brewing at home…).

Our coffee cup runs over.

But in this rare moment of clarity, I see my life as it is.  I’m not sad about it or angry or hurt or feeling guilty.  I am just aware that I was young and like pretty much all young people I know, I was blissfully unaware.  And now I am approaching middle-aged.  Or, if I am honest, I am probably middle-aged already (I’m 30 – does that count?).

Whatever.

The point is that I see myself driving home from church, work, wherever – I see the sun shining and the wind rustling the leaves on the lush green trees and even though I have many responsibilities, I feel unburdened. I feel light.

And I am becoming aware that being unburdened is a rare, precious gift; I feel that while I am in the sunshine, enjoying the beauty of this world, there are people whose burdens are great.

Reading the news is a buzz kill.  You are bumping along in life all concerned about what is for dinner or wondering whether or not you remembered to pay the water bill, when all of a sudden a news anchor calmly, matter-of-factly explains that 32 girls in Ghana were rescued from a baby factory where their brand new babies were sold into slavery or as human sacrifices.

The juxtoposition of my life and theirs is hard to grasp.  How can my brain comprehend such disparity of the human existence?

God has been working on my heart, opening my eyes.

Am I going to end human trafficking in this world?  No.

But how can I do nothing?  How can I enjoy a warm summer day spent going for a walk or teaching my baby girls how to build sand castles, while other men, women and children are in such total darkness?

Many children find themselves sold into slavery because their families cannot afford to eat.  They are sold so that the rest of the family can survive.

And yet so easily, I can go to McDonald’s and enjoy a fruit and yogurt parfait, oatmeal or a warm cup of coffee.

While I am contemplating ways I can get involved (more to follow over the next few weeks), I cannot help but realize how mindlessly I eat.  I think very little about what and how much I put in my mouth.  After fertility treatments and a twin pregnancy, this is definitely starting to show.

I have a lot of weight to lose.  Fifty pounds to be exact.

Yeah, that’s right.  Fifty.

Not fifteen.

FIFTY.

Ugh.

What’s sad is that I’ve lost pretty much all of the baby weight.  The weight I have left to lose crept on slowly at first.  I slowly gave in to the weight gain.  “It’s just a pound.  Or two.  Or five.”

Or fifty.

Working out my body is just as important as working out my mental muscles.  The discipline I use for walking and running (and not eating dessert after every meal) helps me be more disciplined in other areas of my life, like time management or finances.

Getting involved in helping to stop human trafficking isn’t going to happen over night.  I won’t find a solution by writing a check for $5.  Big problems like this require persistent and unrelenting action.

In 2001 I started Weight Watchers.  I lost 60 lbs over the next 8 or 9 months.

I did not lose all 60 lbs in the first week.

Every week I lost a little bit and it all added up.

It’s that kind of discipline – making one more person aware, getting one more person to care – that adds up.

A little bit of kindling added slowly builds a big fire.

My goal is to become more disciplined and aware of what I eat, which will simultaneously help me work out the mental muscles needed in order to be dedicated to a cause as important as ending human trafficking.

It’s a weird way to connect two things, but it makes sense to me.

If you ask my mom, she’ll tell you I’ve always been annoyingly persistent. When I want something, I usually find a way to get it.

For every pound that I lose, we (Frank and I) will donate $10 to end human trafficking.  It’s a weightlossathon.

If you want to join me in this effort – either by losing weight yourself or donating money for every pound that I lose, please do!  Let me know in the comment section if you are “in” and what you are doing.

And if you aren’t interested in joining in, if you could keep me in your thoughts and your prayers as I go down this road – both weight loss and figuring out how to help raise awareness of human trafficking issues – I would be so grateful.

Thank you.

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!

 

wait, what?

Some of you may know that I am currently hanging out at the hospital, trying to keep my legs crossed and keep the babies from spraying out alien-style.  For those of you who do not know that – I am in the hospital on bed rest and trying NOT to give birth.

And here is how this came to be.

I’ve been warned against trying to find all of the things that I could’ve, would’ve or should’ve done to avoid finding myself in this current situation.  It’s hard, as the primary care giver for your little ones, to not go down that path.  So hopefully, without too much self-blame, I can relate the story of how I came to be sitting in the mother-baby unit, still attached to both of my babies.

Since last Sunday, I’d been getting up way more frequently in the middle of the night, noticing that my stomach was very hard.  A few times, I was even up every 30 to 45 minutes, which was kind of concerning.  I realized by Tuesday night that the reason I was waking up so much was not necessarily to use the facilities as much as it was because I was experiencing abdominal discomfort.

Wednesday at work was fine – I put my feet up at my desk and cranked on some projects.  By Wednesday night when I arrived home, I was noticing that same tightness in my abdomen.  I told Frank to feel my stomach and he noticed it was really tight too.  So we sat on the couch for an hour and counted about 4 or 5 “contractions”.  They didn’t hurt, so I figured it was normal – after all, my uterus was measuring full term for a singleton baby.

Wednesday night was horrible.  I was up very frequently and had a hard time sleeping.  I eventually gave up and took a shower at 4:30 ish in the morning, with the intent of going into work early.  The shower seemed to calm things down, though, and I took a little bit of a nap.  Considering the tightness and how much I was up, I decided it was probably appropriate to see the doctor just to be sure that everything was OK.

I called the doctor, expecting an afternoon appointment, but instead, they wanted to see me as soon as I could get in.  Completely believing that it was just the usual case of neurosis for me, I decided to wait until 10 a.m. to go in so that I could get a few things taken care of at work.

The visit to the doctor’s office was pretty uneventful.  They hooked me up to the monitors and naturally, I didn’t have any contractions while I was sitting there (not surprising – mornings have been pretty quiet for me) and the babies seemed to be having a grand old time bouncing around.  The doctor did a fetal fibronectin test which predicts with 99% accuracy whether or not a patient will go into pre-term labor within the next two weeks.  She also checked my cervix and noted that while it was still long, I was dilated to 1 cm.  Hrm, I thought.  That’s kind of surprising.

Back to work I went.  I decided earlier that week to do all of my maternity leave debriefs a bit early, just because I am having twins.  Who knew that Thursday afternoon would be my last day in the office??

While I was sitting in my office, I noticed a few more “hard stomach” moments, but nothing crazy.  I went home to Frank and had some dinner.  Then he went out to visit with a friend and I settled down on the couch to write thank-you notes and watch TV.

Within a few minutes of writing the notes, I noticed that my stomach was getting hard at regular intervals.  I logged on to contraction master and decided to just keep track of how many times I was contracting and for how long.  After two hours of writing thank-you notes and watching HGTV, I had a very consistent pattern of contractions/tightness every 4-5 minutes, with a few instances of less than 3 minutes.  The tightness was lasting 30-45 seconds, sometimes longer.  My doctor had told me if it went on for longer than an hour, to call… at two hours of contracting, I figured I finally had to face the music.

See, I hate calling my doctor.  Loathe it.  It seems like every time something like this happens, it’s after hours.  Blah.  I told the nurse about the situation and she said she would talk to the doctor and get back to me.

Thinking it would be a while, I called Frank to tell him the scoop and advise him that he should probably start coming home.  By the time I hung up with him, the nurse already called back and told me to head to Labor and Delivery immediately.

And of course, the only thing I hate more than calling my doctor is actually going to the hospital, especially when I’m not 100% sure that this “tightness” I was feeling was really “contractions” or just “typical twin pregnancy stuff.”  Ugh.  I mean, my uterus was measuring full term for just one baby – perhaps this was just all part of the joy of twins!

We didn’t pack anything because, really, I didn’t think I had to pack for an overnight stay.  I figured I’d go in, they’d tell me I was nuts, and we’d be home in time for the 10 p.m. news.

On the way to the hospital, I had a few more “tightness” situations.  We got to the hospital and of course, just like when you take your car to the mechanic, everything started feeling better.  By the time they sat me down in the bed in Labor in Delivery (in the ridiculous gown that opens in the back) and hooked me up to the fetal monitors, I was 100% sure that they were going to tell me not to come back until the babies were crowning.

I actually said that to Frank: “They aren’t going to let me come back until the babies are crowning.”

Funny story.

While I was sitting in the bed, feeling ridiculous, I was having contractions 3 minutes apart.  The OB on staff came in and did a cervical exam and announced that I was 3 cm dilated with a bulging sac.

I looked over at Frank and just said, “Well, that’s not very good.”  And Frank knew that wasn’t very good because we already took the class and because he’s a good husband, he remembered what effacement was and what dilation meant and well, a bulging sac just never sounds good.  So he looked back at me with wide eyes and nodded and we just sort of sat there, taking it in.

And then that’s when the craziness started.  IVs were brought in, I was unceremoniously turned over and given a steroid shot in my tush.  Then they started the magnesium and the contractions got worse.  They were, at some points less than 2 minutes apart.  The doctors wanted me to try to sleep and let the magnesium drip take affect, so they gave me an ambien, but the pain was pretty bad still and I definitely couldn’t sleep through it, so they gave me some pain medication.

I don’t remember sleeping a lot, but I think I got a few hours in.  At 7 a.m., the contractions were still 5 minutes apart.  We were getting nervous and still had four more hours until the next steroid shot could be administered to help mature the babies’ lungs.

Around 8 a.m., the contractions finally started to space out and we were able to breathe a sigh of relief for the moment.  They kept the magnesium going and finally, everything seemed to be moving in the right direction.

So let me tell you about magnesium sulfate.  It works because it relaxes your uterus – and everything else, too.  Also fondly referred to as “mag”, this delightful concoction makes it harder to breathe, blocks up your sinuses and generally makes you feel like a wet noodle.  Oh, and when mixed with Ambien, it causes hallucinations.

At 10 a.m., the perinatologist and OB came in to assess the damage.  They wanted to keep me on the mag drip until I had my second round of steroids to mature the babies’ lungs.  Then things kind of get foggy and blurry.  At some point, I tried to go to sleep for the night, but was having a hard time sleeping because I was so hot (another mag side effect) and I couldn’t breathe.  So they brought me a cool wash cloth and an Ambien.  Hello, hallucinations. I woke up several times that night trying to get out of my bed, unsure if I was pregnant and wondering if the monitors I was wearing were guns or … monitors?  I doused myself with a washcloth full of water, threw pillows on the floor and asked the nurse if I broke my water.  I also asked the nurse if I was having triplets.

The nurse thought I was hilarious.

On Saturday morning, the perinatologist and OB had a pow-wow and determined the side effects of the mag were far worse than going into pre-term labor and so they stopped the drip.  And then we started waiting again.  Over the course of the next few hours, the nurses slowly disconnected me from the catheter, IV drips, etc.  By Sunday, I was completely wireless and essentially contraction-free!

Since then, it’s just been a waiting game.  The doctors feel that we’ve cleared a major hurdle and probably have at least another week before the babies make their grand entrance.  This will let the babies’ mature further and spend less time in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU).

We’ve been so blessed with so many of our friends and family praying for us and thinking about us – it’s been such a boost!  While this whole situation isn’t ideal and has both of us a little bit ragged, we are both keeping positive attitudes.  Our doctors and nurses have been great and everyone has been very impressed with the babies’ activity levels and heart rates.  And if these babies miraculously stay in until 34 weeks, I’ll get to go home because the doctors will no longer try to stop labor if it starts again.