Wednesday, February 29, 2012

a little something extra.

We're still at the hospital. The babies were born at 35 weeks 6 days. Exactly one month before their due date. They are healthy and wonderful. They are just about as sweet as it gets. They are just a bit young. They are still learning to eat as much as they need to without using up too much energy. Quinn is working on controlling her bilirubin levels, bet gets better and better at eating. John has a problem maintaining his temperature and has had to spend some time in the 'sauna'. He also struggles to get enough to eat, as he is a sleepy little guy who tires easily. This morning I went in and found him with a feeding tube down his nose. I burst into tears, and instantly felt silly, since there are babies with wires in their heads and IVs in their feet. And its just the regular nursery! Don't let me near a NICU. It was hard to see him cry while they fed breastmilk into his tube. But he needs to stop losing weight, and I'm grateful they are doing what is needed and taking such good care of both our babies.  Everything they are experiencing are all very normal things for a "late term preemie". We don't know for how long it is going to be, but we are grateful they are getting all the care they need to now, so we don't have to worry, or end up in the ER or constantly calling the doctor. Quinn is looking great and looks like she'll be ready a while before John, but it is hard to tell. I want to keep them together as long as possible. So much is up in the air, but we know they will be ok soon, and that is what is most important. The first few days I woke up wondering if we would get to go home. I don't anymore, so it has been good for my emotional state to just be grateful for the care they are getting and that they are really doing great.

[John in his sauna; what a prince.]

Since eating, eating, eating is the name of the game around here, the babies start a feeding every 3 hours. I nurse Quinn for no longer than 10 minutes (so she doesn't get too tired), then pass her off to Chris or a nurse and she gets supplemented with calorie fortified breastmilk. Quinn is actually a fabulous little nurser. She's a feisty little thing despite her size (which the nurses say is actually common in boy/girl twins; the boy will be lackadaisical and the girl will be feisty). Then I offer the breast to John, just so he doesn't forget about it (well, I was before the feeding tube), and then he gets calorie fortified breastmilk too. Nursing would wear him out too much and then he wouldn't get all the food he needs, so they limit him more than Quinn, but he will latch great and the fabulous lactation consultants say he has "huge potential". 

[Quinn quite literally came out of the womb pulling her hat down, then complaining about it.]

Chris's mom is here, which as been a huge blessing, as we don't have to worry a single bit about Carly. She is on vacation, pretty much. She has lots of fun with grandma, and comes to visit once a day. She gets to watch TV and play on the hospital bed, and now that the babies are stuck in the nursery, she waves and blows kisses through the window. She is sweet and calls them "Baby Quinn and Baby John". I hope she still likes them when they invade her home. I miss her like crazy. I did manage to get home for a few hours the day I was discharged, and it was good to be there and put her to bed (though, that didn't do wonders for my recovery). She is such a good girl, and I'm grateful for her happy spirit, and that she doesn't seem too concerned by the fact that mommy is missing. Chris goes home every night to spend time with her, give her a bath, and put her to bed. I'm glad she gets that little bit of stability with him. Then he comes back and sleeps on the awkward chair bed thing in the room. He is superman.

[can't tell you how much I miss my firstborn.] 
{And for the record, this is day of delivery. I actually wear clothes now.}

Since patient volume is so low right now, they are letting us stay in our room even though I'm technically discharged. It is a real tender mercy. I'm sure it won't last long, since women will surely start showing up to have babies, but it has been a huge blessing. Chris can stay with me, and we just go across the hall to visit our babes and do feedings. Everything is working out well, and we've been lucky. I sure hope we can get everyone home soon, but for right now they just need a little something extra.
[daddy-son snuggles after discussing the Cubs spring training roster.]

Monday, February 27, 2012

so totally worth it.

All those mornings with my head hung over the toilet.

All those stressed-out nights.

All that hip pain.
All that back pain.
All that round ligament pain.

All the tears.

It was all so totally worth it

for Little Miss A
5 lbs 4 oz

and Baby Boy B
John Thomas
5 lbs 10 oz.

We are so blessed.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

thirty-five and fab.

We hit 35 weeks this past weekend, and we're quickly approaching 36.
Time is flying, and yet it can't move fast enough.
Oh, sweet babies. We can't wait to meet you.

My uncomfortableness exists on several levels. First, and this is in no particular order, I don't really sleep. Constantly throughout the night I wake up to stabbing pains in my hips and grab my tummy and lift and rotate over to my other side. In between rotations we have the potty breaks, which are have suddenly jumped to 3 times a night. I get up and hobble over to the bathroom, groaning in pain. Chris used to wake up freaked out and ask if I was in labor. He has since adjusted and rarely wakes anymore. I'm glad. He needs his rest. And if I was in labor, I would surely wake him.

My tummy is stretched just about to its max. My left side, where baby boy spends 90% of his time trying to burst through, is stretched to far that is is shiny. It gives me the creeps and I can't touch it. It is also covered with a lovely web of stretch marks. My right side is still relatively normal looking. Baby boy is grounded upon his arrival, to say the least. At my last ultrasound two weeks ago Miss A was just over 4.5 lbs and Boy B was just under. Boy is still breech. We'll see them again next week to check weight and positioning, but I think they are officially too squished for him to flip now.

We began our twice-a-week non-stress tests this week, and both went flawlessly. Except they have a hard time keeping Boy's heartrate on the monitor, and the nurse called him a "pain in the butt". That is now 3 medical professionals who have called him a trouble maker. Poor kid has quite the rep. Today's test even showed I had a few contractions, a bright spot for me, as I haven't been feeling any sort of contractions whatsoever. Its nice to know something is happening, and sometime these kids will come. Eventually.

My fear of having the babies too early has officially shifted to a fear of having them way late. Of course, we want healthy babies that can come home right away, and as we approach 36 weeks, we're pretty much there. But going to 39 weeks or more has entered the realm of possibility as things progress with no problems at all. And I seriously doubt my ability to make it that far, emotionally just as much as physically.

Because you see, at this point I'm pretty much constantly on the brink of tears. Not because I'm sad or because something is wrong. But because this whole pregnancy has been quite the marathon, from the extreme sickness, to the emotional roller-coaster of finding out about the twins, to the physical challenges in these final months. I'm tired in just about every way possible.

So if you're a stranger who runs into me at this point, you'll see a lady with bags under her eyes hobbling around in yoga pants and a shirt that barely covers her beach ball tummy. You'll wonder when the heck she is due, and you'll wonder why her little girl is wearing a purple shirt, pink pants, and red shoes (the answer: the girl dresses herself, and the giant pregnant lady doesn't have the reserves to fight about it). You'll casually ask when she is due, and when you hear she's having twins, your face will register a look that says "Oh, that makes more sense" and you'll make some comment about your sister's friend's boss who had twins and be on your way, thankful its not you.

As for the giant pregnant lady? She'll head home and curl up on the couch with that cute little girl who won't take her red shoes off. They'll watch Balto and color with markers and eat sandwiches for lunch before they both settle in for a long nap. And she'll think about the chaos of her impending twins, but also have a heart full of joy and excitement at what the coming weeks, months, and years hold. And she'll think about baby names for the 7 millionth time in the moments just before she falls asleep. And she'll feel very very grateful.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

this little light of mine.

Our lovely little lady hit two and a half last week.

There are a lot of things about two-and-a-half-year-old Carly that I don't want to forget.

Carly is a chatter box. She is a real talker, and she is engaging in some sort of conversation just about all the time, especially in the car. People often comment at how well and how much she talks, and she engages total strangers in conversations, filling them with information. Like last night as we walked to the MSU hockey game: "I'm Carly. And this is Rex. He is blue. And this is my mommy. And this is my daddy. I'm on his shoulders. And we're going to the hockey game!" She is a little narrator: "Mommy is sitting at the table because she is still eating dinner but daddy and Carly are all done!" She talks in much longer sentences, and I can always tell what I say a lot by what she says, like "That's cool" or she'll give one of her animals a hug and say "You're so weird!" (I say that to her in a positive way, like 'you're so silly' or something). She also uses pronouns correctly for the most part, and corrects herself if she uses the wrong tense. After the hockey game she told us "I see Sparty . . . no, I saw Sparty!" (Oh, she was absolutely obsessed with Sparty. Hardcore fascination).

She loves to color and paint. She got markers for Valentine's day and they have been a huge hit. I love that she has some sort of artistic side. It is also interesting to see how her coloring skills have progressed. She now colors specific parts of a picture a certain color on purpose. She'll say "I'm going to color his tail blue" and sure enough, she'll color the tail blue. Not that she stays in the lines, but you can look at some of the pictures she colors and see how she is purposefully coloring, rather than scribbling all over the page.

Just since Christmas it has been fun to watch her imagination explode. She makes up songs and words to songs. She plays pretend, with pretend people and pretend objects. She saves pretend animals with pretend Diego. She opens books and tells stories that go along with the pictures (and sometimes recites the actual words nearly perfectly). She also makes up dances. "Let's do the puppy dance!" she'll say and then direct me to hop, lay down, get up, march . . . whatever the puppy dance may involve (these dances are in no way pregnancy-friendly).

She loves our family. In the evenings we'll all sit on the couch and she'll say "We're all a family!" or "We're all talking." We just started "family hugs" and she will request them over and over. It is funny that our family usually includes white towel. I hope she'll be as eager to include the babies too. She also like Family Home Evening, though she wants to give the lesson, and often has a hard time listening to whatever message we're trying to get across.

She is so smart, and has a memory you wouldn't believe. I really can't believe the things she remembers. On the way to my doctor's office, we pass the exit to get to campus. As we were passing the exact exit, she looked out the window and asked, "Can we go see daddy?"

She likes to "help" and wants to be involved in everything. That makes things tricky, because you want to involve her but of course everything is way more complicated and takes longer with her help. But when she looks up at you and asks "Can I do it too, mommy?", how do you say no? I love that she has the desire to help, and hope that sticks around.

We've also hit some rough patches lately. I've heard an independent streak often happens after potty training, where kids start to test boundaries a bit more. It could also just be the fact that she's two and a half, and that's what two and a half year olds do. Either way, its been a little emotionally exhausting from time to time. Almost everything is a battle: brushing her teeth, brushing her hair, putting on socks and shoes, picking which books to read or show to watch, the arrangement of her animals in her bed when she goes to sleep . . . all are met with resistance and/or hyperventilating and panic on her part. For the most part I keep calm, talk softly, and ask her to tell me what she wants/needs. I try to get her to communicate rather than whine or freak out. But sometimes I just end up telling her to "take a chill pill", which I'm guessing is significantly less effective. She is also proving to be a little bossy when playing with other kids, and I think it is because she is used to adults understanding her perfectly, while kids to their own thing regardless of what she says. We're working on that.

Favorite foods: pasta, Italian chicken (meat!), pancakes, tomatoes, fruit, milk
Favorite snack: fruit snacks ("Dora snack!") and Cheese Its ("cheesy squares!")
Favorite books: Green Eggs and Ham, Go Dog Go, Llama Llama Red Pajama, Bunny My Honey
Favorite shows: Bubble Guppies, Dora, Max and Ruby, Olivia . . . and The Voice ("more singers!")
Favorite movies: she's in a Mulan and Balto phase right now
Favorite songs: Itsy Bitsy Spider, I am a Child of God (she knows all the words, its too sweet), Book of Mormon Stories, Old McDonald

She doesn't like me to do her hair. "Just a clip" she tells me every morning.

She still has to wear a dress every day.

Her greatest fears appear to be bats, owls, and ghosts. We can blame Halloween for that. At the zoo, an owl starting 'hoo-ing' really loud and she was not a fan. And I often overhear her telling her stuffed animals "Its ok, there are no owls and no ghosts."

She says really funny things:

When we show her a picture of her as a baby, we always say "This is you when you were a baby." One day we were looking at pictures of animals and she pointed to a hippo and told me, "This is you when you were a hippo." Oh, my gosh I was laughing so hard she asked me what was wrong.

During one of my migraines she asked what was wrong. I told her "I have a really bad owie on my head." She pointed to a zit on my forehead and said, "Yeah, it's right there."

But she also says very sweet things. She often tells me "You look so beautiful!".

She's a little quirky:

We have this 'how to get organized' book that she loves and calls it her book, and I've tucked her in for several naps and she lays in bed and looks at the book (there are no pictures, mind you). She loves pens and pads of paper, and walks around writing so you feel like you're under review. She loves the tape measure. 

She goes to bed with an insane number of animals. We try to sneak up and put some away, but she'll take one look at her bed and ask "Where's dolly? Where's Bunny?" Girl, there are 15 animals in your bed, how did you notice the 2 I took out? She positions them very specifically, and sometimes leaves very little room for herself. I don't know how she sleeps in such crowded quarters.

Of course, she still loves white towel. The thing is getting ragged, as she recently developed the habit of pulling on the individual strings. We've had to give towel many "haircuts", and we worry about how much long it will last. But even when it is in shreds I'll keep it forever. It has been her comfort and her friend, regardless of how strange that may be.

She has a heart of gold. 
She wraps her arms around us and says "I love you soooo much."
She gives kisses when there's an owie.
She has even wiped away my tears.

Our time as a family of three is ticking down, and to be honest, it hurts my heart. The babies will add so much to our family, but we've had a wonderful two and a half years being just the three of us, and it will be difficult to let that dynamic go. 

I love this girl so much. 
She taught me to be a mother, and continues to teach me every day.
She is just a shining light.
And I'm so grateful she's ours.

Friday, February 17, 2012

the little things.

Its been a tough few weeks, and a tough few days.
Infections, medicines, medicine side-effects, and a big big baby belly.
It has left me melancholy, and questioning how much more I can handle.
I told Chris if I could just be pregnant, that would be great.
It looks like we're about at the end of it all (fingers crossed),
so if I could have two weeks of relative peace before babies, that would be great.

Left in the wake, is our sweet Carly.
Not enough attention.
Way too much tv.
She's been acting out, and her usual energetic spirit seems not-so-bright.

I've been praying hard for help.
For me, but mostly for her.
And today it came in the smallest way: sunshine.
The sun came out and the temperature rose just enough.
We went outside and colored with chalk.
Then we walked to our little park and swung on the swings and slid down the slide.
While I was pushing her, she giggled and exclaimed "This is so fun!"
And I knew when all this craziness passes, and somehow our life comes back together with two new pieces added to the mix, we'll all be ok.
It was a little thing that made a big difference.

This pregnancy has been long and challenging.
But I try very hard never to call it a trial.
How could something that ends in two new lives be a trial?
How could carrying these babies full-term ever be something to complain about?

The Lord has blessed us in more ways than I can count.
He sends us sunshine, literally and figuratively, when we can't take one more cold dark day.
I'm very grateful.

Yay for answered prayers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

this love is ours.

One of the things on my massive To-Do list as we prepare for the babies was to clean and organize the basement. It was quite the little project. In the process, we found lots of old pictures from our dating days, and got distracted. These are pictures I hadn't seen in several years, since our dating occurred before we had regular use of a digital camera and these pictures were taken on film (gasp!). I'm sure glad we found them.

A little reminiscing? On our first date, Chris asked me to go swing dancing at an "open swing dancing" night on campus. We went, and I got all ready for Chris to show me his swing dancing skills. The other people we were with went off and danced like crazy; we both stood there. He couldn't swing dance. I couldn't swing dance. I wondered why he asked me to go swing dancing if he couldn't even swing dance. I can't quite remember, but I think after a few short failed attempts, we went on a walk outside. Strike one.

Afterwards, the two of us headed to Coldstone. I considered that a big plus. Then he comes up with this idea to order for each other and not tell the other one what we're getting them. I was hesitant. I take my ice cream very seriously, especially at Coldstone. I finally coaxed what he was getting me out of him: some awful cherry-chocolate concoction that shouldn't even be allowed on the menu. Luckily, I was able to inform him of my strict no fruit mixed with chocolate policy, and the occasion was saved. Strike two.

Later we met back up with the people we were with earlier and watched a movie at a park. During the movie, our fingers found each other and I think we linked pinkies. Because even though he took me swing dancing when he couldn't swing dance, and even though he almost got me the grossest thing Coldstone has to offer, he was sweet. He had a genuine and positive sense of humor; he made me laugh a lot. And heaven help me, he was so dang cute. After the movie they were moving on to something else (what kind of marathon date was this?), but I requested to go home because I was tired and needed to read my scriptures. Home run for me.

Over 6 years later, as we sat looking back at pictures in our home in Michigan, we couldn't help but notice how young we looked. When did I get lines around my eyes? I look so tired now and I'm carrying 30 extra pound around my midsection (ha!). It is funny how just 6 years of school and moving and working and pregnancy and kid(s) can take a toll on your physical appearance.

And its funny how much those 6 years can teach you. How they teach you to hurt, to worry, to stress, to plan, and then have all your plans go out the window, to adjust, to pray, to laugh, to love. To love more than you loved at the beginning, even though you thought that was impossible.

If we had never moved across the country, how would I ever know how much I depended on him?
If I had never had one hard and one extremely difficult pregnancy, how would I know how selfless he is?
If we had never had our precious daughter, how would I know what a wonderful daddy he is?
If we had never disagreed, how would I know how quick he is to understand me?
And if didn't make so many mistakes, how would I know how easily he forgives me?

I was a little envious of the people in those pictures. My biggest worries were the Book of Mormon quizzes I kept getting C's on (what the?) and how I was ever going to adjust to my brand new Celiac Disease diagnosis. I couldn't help but think how much simpler life was back then. But then it occurred to me: in ten years when we have 4 kids with schedules and practices and lessons, when Chris is deep in his career, when we have mortgage payments and car payments and the kids are begging for a dog and I won't give in . . . I'll probably look back at this time when Carly was potty-training and we had impending twins and Chris was still in school and we lived on very little other than love, and think how it was so much simpler back then.

Because I love where we are now. There's a song called Remember When by Alan Jackson and one verse says "remember when the sound of little feet was the music we danced to week-to-week?" I can't listen to those words without crying. I didn't even type them without crying. I love the little feet that bounce on the couch and declare "I'm a jumping bean!" I love the little feet that kick my ribs, and the other two little feet that kick my bladder. And I love that Chris and I are dancing to these sweet sounds together. Because all too quickly those feet will be off to college and out tracking in some random place across the world. And we'll still be together, and we "wont' be sad, we'll be glad, for all the life we had. And we'll remember when."

The point is, I love Chris a lot.
I'm notoriously horrible about showing him and telling him.
I'm not an overly expressive person.
Its something I've been working on for all 6 years of our lives together.
But I love him.
And I'm eternally grateful for him.
Not just today, on Valentine's Day.
But every day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

ready to pop.

Its been a long week.
On Monday my cough/cold morphed into a sinus infection.
You know, where your head feels like it might explode and you have stabbing pains and intense migraines?
It's like that, y'all.
Luckily, I had a doctor appointment the next day, and he gave me medicine for it.
Unfortunately, it is weak-sauce pregnant lady medicine that could take 9-14 days to work.
So every morning I spend about 4 hours suffering from an intense, debilitating migraine.
The Claritin-D kicks in around 1, and then I can actually open my eyes and speak.
And by 2 I'm fully functional.
Every day.
So Carly has been watching lots of movies.
Way too many movies.
And I am SO OVER IT.
I was wondering if I could handle the discomforts of late-pregnancy much longer.
Well, I decided I definitely can, as long as this sinus infection goes away soon.
Please, meds, work soon.
My head is ready to pop.

However, I got to end my week on a high note.
Two wonderful friends from my ward threw me a baby shower today.
It was at 2 (just in time for me to be fully functional!).
And the theme was "Ready to Pop".
My friend Camilla said she thought it was fitting since people have been asking me since 28 weeks if I'm due "any day now". It turned out really cute, and I'm grateful for the friends who gave it and the friends who showed up to support us as we begin this wild adventure.

[the cute set-up.]

The had lots of cute things that went with the theme:
pop corn
Italian soda "pop"
cake pops
pop rocks.

[co-hostess Camilla showing off the Italian creme soda. yummers.]

[co-hostess Rebecca conducting the games.]

I was lousy at taking pictures, but got one with the hostesses.

It was really cute and a lot of fun.
We got lots of sweet gifts, and LOTS of diapers, which is really what we need most at this point!
We're lucky to have such wonderful people around us.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

snow and sun.

As far as Michigan winters go, we've had a pretty mild one so far this year.
[Knocking on wood all over the place.]
We've had a few snow storms, but nothing too bad, and it has melted away completely every time.
And we've had a shocking amount of sunshine.
It is bizarre.
But it sure has been nice.
We're already in February, and I'm not even sick of winter yet.
[Knocking on more wood.]

On our most recent snowfall a while ago, we took Carly out on her new little $5 sled.
The problem with Michigan is there aren't very many hills, and we didn't want to go too far, so we kept it classy and tied a rope to the sled and Chris pulled Carly around in our little front "yard". It worked out perfectly, and lasted just about as long as Carly's snow-tolerance span.

[snow buddies.]

She was giggling wildly.
It was pretty darn cute.

That's as much snow fun we've had.
I'm not a huge play-in-the-snow person, and so far it looks like Carly might have gotten that gene.
But maybe when she's a bit older she'll enjoy sledding with daddy.
If we can find a hill.

Much better than the snow, however, has been the sunshine.
We've had a few periods of sunshine and "higher" temperatures.
Like this weekend, for example.

The zoo here is free from November through February, so I've been waiting for a nice day to go.
Chris's parents came to town this weekend, and we got a beautiful Saturday, so we headed out to see the animals.

We had a nice time.
Carly liked the animals, but she doesn't linger.
We'd look at one animal for a little bit, and she'd say "more animals!"
So we kept up a decent pace.
I'd have to say she particularly enjoyed the otters swimming around bouncing off rocks (as did we all, they were very cute), the yak (go figure), and of course the daddy lion, who did some sort of cough-growl to show off for her.

 [watching the otters do flip-turns.]

[Carly and Papak feeding the ducks.]

[yay for sunny winters.]

It was a nice weekend.

And its been a nice winter.
[Knock on wood, just one more time.]
Hopefully Spring arrives earlier than May.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

fishy heaven.

Last night before putting Carly down, I couldn't help but notice our beautiful little Harpo was sunk to the bottom of his "little house" (as Carly calls it) and wasn't moving much. I tapped on the glass. I shook it around. Harpo didn't budge. 

Chris and Carly were just finishing bath time, so I headed up and whispered to Chris, "I think Harpo's dead".
"Obama?!?!" he asked.
"No, Harpo!" I replied.

After putting Carly down we headed down to face the inevitable.
Harpo had moved on to fishy heaven.
Chris geared up to flush him down the toilet, because I just couldn't do it.
I tried to get him to dig a hole outside, but he said he wouldn't dig a hole for a fish.
Fair enough.
It made me sad.
It made Chris sad too.
We had grown rather fond of Harpo.
Its funny how you can grow a soft spot in your heart for a fish.
He was Carly's first pet, after all.
But we bid farewell and flushed.

This morning I saw his empty house and it made my heart sad.
We'll miss him.
Well, Chris and I will.
Carly has yet to notice, and I'm not sure she will.
The novelty of a fish wore off quite a while ago for her.
Though, she did enjoy feeding him from time to time.

Cause of death you might ask?
We're guessing irregular and missed feedings, combined with over-feeding.
Sometimes too much food would come out, and we'd just dump it all in anyway.
Harpo was looking a little plump near the end of his life.
Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, after all.

RIP, little Harpo.
Thanks for a fabulous 6 months.