Wednesday, May 30, 2012

three months young.

At a quarter year, J and Q are huge.
I don't know where my 5 lb newborns went, but I think they disappeared into a fountain of formula and a pile of smiles.
All of the sudden, I've got two full blown babies on my hands.
And I thought the newborn stage was crazy.

John and Quinn are both currently sleeping through the night, anywhere from 7 to 10 hours (John is usually 7, Quinn is usually 9 or 10). About two weeks ago I was going nuts with the waking up at night thing John was clinging too, and I forced him into a swaddle (we lived and died by swaddling with Carly). And, wouldn't you know it, he's been sleeping through the night pretty consistently ever since. I did the same thing with Q, and her 5 am wake up time has been extended to 7 or 8. And I usually get them down within a half hour of each other. Blessed silence.

The trade off? They are up all day, with one long nap each (not really at the same time, yet), and little catnaps here and there. It makes for very hectic days, and means I have about 2 hours of stuff to do every night after they go down. We are working toward some sort of organization, even if it is organized chaos.

They seem to be a bit behind Carly in terms of milestones. Their doctor said not to worry, and in fact to expect little delays in milestones. They came a month early and had a slow start. I'm ok with this, as I learned with Carly mobility has it's downfalls. She was crawling at 7 months and walking at 11, so I'm perfectly fine if the duo takes it much slower.

J and Q are both awful tummy timers. Quinn is so chill, she just lays her head down, perfectly content to just lie there. John usually just has one thing on his mind, so he plants his face on the floor and tries to suck formula out of it.

Both babies finally seem to have a handle on smiling, and its just about as cute as it gets. Quinn has a constant smirk it seems, and John does these big smiles and likes to tell all sorts of stories.

John's fussiness is getting better. He still has his moments, but he is a much different baby than a month ago. The other day Chris said, "I'm actually starting to like him now." Ha! So true. He is one seriously cute, horribly spoiled little boy.

Quinn is as calm and wonderful as the day she was born. She is the best nap buddy in history, and when I don't have to hold anybody, I choose to hold her, as the other two are much better about demanding attention. Her treatments are going well, and after the last one she was noticeably turning her head toward the right more often and with more ease. The doctor said we should she a real difference in head shape by 6 months, and by a year you won't even be able to tell she was once a baby girl version of a hammerhead shark. She hold on to my hair like a safety rope, but doesn't pull (yet). It makes me melt when she falls asleep with those little hands clasped tightly around my hair.

My go-to joke when talking about the duo is that people who say they "want twins" or "twins would be so fun" have never had twins. I saw a guy at the store who saw the babies and asked if twins were fun, and I said "Not really." He laughed and said he had two boys due in a few months. I replied, "Good luck. You'll love them a lot."

Because, I'm not so sure "fun" is the best way to describe the last three months. Blessed? Certainly. Happy? Even more so. But I might have to start changing my tune. I dare say they are getting fun, and the thought of two one year olds just about makes me want to explode with happiness (I LOVE one-year-olds). Maybe from now on when people ask if they are fun, I'll have to reply "Not at first, but it gets better." Live and learn, right?

Happy 3 months, Q and J.
We're glad you joined us.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

the sun has arrived.

I dare say summer has arrived and the sun is here to stay.
How do I know?

1) Baseball.

Carly's interest in baseball was increasing, so we headed to the store and got her a $5 plastic mitt and ball. She is a pretty good catcher (though, the velcro helps) and has quite the arm when she uses the right form. Chris is teaching her to step when she throws, but it usually comes out as a giant stomp followed a few seconds later with a throw. It sure is cute.

But most impressive? Our two and half year old can hit the ball out of the air when Chris pitches it too her. And when she connects, she connects. We might just skip t-ball and go straight to the Majors.

[that blur is the ball she just hit, pink dress and crazy hair and all.]

The girl definitely caught her daddy's passion for the game. It took forever to get her inside, and even then we had to bribe her with fruit snacks if she came in to eat dinner.

[play ball.]

2) Picnics on campus and . . . more baseball.

On Friday we headed up to meet Chris on campus and go to a baseball game that we thought started at noon. Well, upon arrival we learned that it started at 3. We were bummed, and planned to play for a bit and have a picnic, then head home in time for nap time. Well, I was very disappointed because it took me 2 HOURS to get everything prepped and everyone out the door for our little adventure. And I happen to love baseball games. So I wasn't willing to give up to easily.

Carly and Chris walked the stepping stone path about 600 times, and I fed John and came up with a plan. We would play a little longer and eat our picnic, then we'd walk up to the Student Union and have MSU Dairy ice cream, then we'd walk back down and go to the game. Carly would skip her nap, but go to bed nice and early. We'd have a wonderful day. 

And that is exactly what we did.

["stepping on the stones". Carly's day would have been complete even if this was our only activity.]

[I'm a chocolate person, but MSU makes a mean strawberry ice cream.]

[Carly and daddy checking out "the water mountains."]

After a 3-hour delay with three kids under 3, we finally made it to the ball park. It really is the best place to be during the summer. I'm sad this was one of their last games. We'll have to make it to a bunch next year. It was cheap and very family friendly.

[take me out to the ball game.]

Both babies ate and did really well, though they both managed to soil their diapers while we were there. Carly was very interested . . . for a whole inning. After that she spent a lot of time climbing up and down stairs and socializing with other kids. We made it to the 6th inning before we could feel everyone coming apart at the seams, and made our escape.

[Sparty boys.]

[Carly reaching her energy limit.]

It was a really wonderful afternoon. Relaxing? No. Exhausting? Yes. But we did it. And it was fun. And that means so much these days.

We got home and it took Carly all of 15 minutes to look like this:

3) Swimming!

Michigan finally got with the program and decided to heat up. Our pool opened, and yesterday we headed for a swim (along with the rest of our neighborhood).

[ready to jump in with daddy.]

[snoozing Q.]

But, the sun hasn't been very hot very long, so the warm day didn't make for warm water. It was so cold. I could barely stand to put my feet in. But Carly really wanted to swim, so her good daddy jumped right in, and helped her swim back and forth across the pool.

[staying warm with my snuggle bug.]

Carly came out with blue lips, shivering uncontrollably. We wrapped her tight and she got to snack on a Rice  Krispy Treat, and we had to talk her out of going back in.

[little miss blue lips.]

[John wasn't very happy when he found out we weren't, in fact, going fishing.]

[pool babes.]

It was just about the most perfect summer weekend you could ask for.
Yay for the sun.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Q and the specialist.

At the babies' one month appointment, I expressed concern over the fact that Quinn's head was lopsided. Her doctor said we'd keep an eye on it. When we got to the two month appointment, it was obvious the flatness on one side had worsened. Q always faces her left when she is laying down, and when she is up, she can turn toward her right, but she favors the left, and looks that way most of the time. The pediatrician decided it was something to get looked at by a specialist, so today Q and I went on a date to the College of Osteopathic Medicine at the university.

[to the left, to the left. everything you own in a box to the left . . . 2 weeks old.]

The specialist read that Quinn was a twin, and said, "Let me guess: Baby A?" Turns out being baby A isn't all sunshine and roses. Twins, obviously, have less room to move in the womb than a singleton. And baby A is on the bottom, so Quinn was getting squished the whole time. At every ultrasound poor baby girl's head was jammed down into my right hip while baby boy went crazy all over. (Oh, how perfectly that matches their personalities now). This means Q's neck muscles were restricted while they developed. Which leads to where we are today: one side of her neck is tighter than the other. Interesting, huh? Learn something new every day. The specialist also said something about a nerve that runs through the neck, but I didn't go to medical school, so I couldn't really tell you. But the point is, her brain is perfect, and her spine is fine (something else I was worried about, because she curves when she sleeps), but she does need treatment to help her neck and fix her head a little. We'll be going once a week for 6 weeks, and see how she is doing then.

[to the left, to the left . . . 2 months old.]

The "treatment" is somewhat fascinating, though it seems a little bit like nothing is really happening. Q was laying down, and the doctor took her head in her hands and exerted some sort of slight constant pressure and pressed her fingers into her neck. She did it for quite a while, and it was interesting to watch, but at the same time I kept waiting for something else to happen. Chris asked, "She is a specialist right? Her first name could be specialist" (name that movie!). Quinn is such a peaceful little thing. At first she didn't mind and was just looking around. Then she got a little fussy, so I gave her a binky and put my hand on her tummy to calm her. Then she fell asleep! The doctor said she doesn't get that a lot. While we were checking out, I could hear another baby screaming his/her head off. I was feeling lucky it was Quinn who needs the treatment, and not freak-out extraordinaire John. Ha!

[to the left, to the left . . . I want to eat her. yum.]

More than anything, I am so so grateful this is all it is. The doctor said Q's case was "moderate", meaning treatment is needed, but she has seen much worse. I was trying very hard not to worry that it was something more serious with her spine . . . or even her brain. That it would be a long-term hill to climb rather than 6 weeks of therapy. The original appointment where I found out she needed a specialist was on the same day as my biopsy. Talk about an emotional day. I'm feeling blessed that both of those events have played out in a positive way. And really, this means Quinn and I get a mommy-daughter date once a week, just the two of us. You can't beat that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

happy to be a mother.

At my postpartum appointment, the nurse practitioner found a lump in my breast.
It was most likely related to the recent breastfeeding that had occurred.
I was asked to massage it in the shower and try to get it to go down.
A few weeks later I went in again.
It was still there, so they ordered an ultrasound.
The results came back inconclusive.
They referred me to a breast specialist for another ultrasound.

I had not worried about what was going on.
I'm 25 with no "significant history" of breast cancer, so what was there to worry about?
But a breast specialist?
Should I be scared?

I went to the specialist, and he did an ultrasound.
He had me watch, and showed me what he was looking at.
It was a dark mass with irregular boarders.
Those are things you don't want.
He recommended I biopsy.

Biopsies aren't that much fun, in case you were wondering.
He took 4 samples, inserting the needle and then saying, 
"There is going to be a cracking sound."
Umm, it is a really loud cracking sound, and it happens twice with every sampling.
My nerves were shot after 3.
"Can we do one more?" he asked, reading my face like an open book.
"Go for it," I replied.

I headed home.
I was told to call back in two days for the results.
I was officially scared.

The next day I did everything I could not to freak out.
That afternoon, the house was still, and I sat breathing in my sweet Quinn.
I prayed for health.
I prayed to watch my babies grow up.

The next morning I called, and was told the doctor would call me back.
The minutes felt like hours. 
My heart was pounding in my ears.
I watched my phone like it was about to explode.
It rang.
"I have some good news for you," the doctor said.
"That is exactly what I was hoping to hear," I replied.

I'm not going to pretend I know what cancer feels like.
I don't.
And I pray I never do.
The people who have fought and continue to fight are warriors.
I walked away with a sore breast.

But for 48 hours, I waited and wondered and worried.
I had a tiny taste of just how mortal we are.
I decided to hug my babies a little tighter.
Play with my girl a little longer.
Love my husband a little stronger.

I realized that life can be spent in many ways.
I could be lots of different places.
But I'm so very grateful I'm here.
I'm happy I spend my days changing diapers, coaxing smiles, coloring pictures, and reading stories.

I love that I'm Carly's mom.
I love that I'm Quinn's mom.
I love that I'm John's mom.

I am so very happy to be a mother.

Friday, May 11, 2012

a new normal.

I remember when Carly hit 2 months, I started to feel a little bit more . . . in control. Things weren't 100% "normal" yet, but it was noticeably better. The same thing is happening now. It is not as bad as it once was. Our feet are back under us, and we're learning how to walk again.

[babies love the swing.]

Chris's lighter schedule means he goes in later. What a huge difference it makes to have him around in the morning. Eventually I'll use these extra hours to get to the gym, as soon as we get John to go to bed before 1 am more consistently. For now, I use that time to catch a few extra winks, if necessary.

[Carly excels at tummy time.]

I've become a queen of multitasking. It is just not possible to do just one thing at a time very often. I color with Carly while feeding a baby. I rock one baby to sleep on my legs while feeding the other in my arms. The other day at the babies' two month appointment, I was getting John dressed, rocking a fussy Quinn in her car seat with my foot, and looking at the doctor while we carried on a conversation. He stopped in the middle of talking and laughed and said, "Now, this is something only the mother of twins can do." Any time I do get time to do just one thing, and Carly is awake, that time goes to her. Because she needs it, and she deserves it, and she is just too much fun to not hang out with.

["poor man's water table" aka "my pond!" thanks, Pinterest. it was a hit.]

Almost without fail, John is the last one to sleep and the first one awake. This week I've been spending early morning feedings reading the scriptures, a habit that fell apart during a difficult pregnancy and crazy post-birth months. I've always been a night scripture reader, but I am loving starting my day off with a dose of the Spirit.

[my two favorite boys.]

On Tuesday I went to lunch with friends. When we first came to Michigan, I made friends pretty quickly and spent a year having a pretty active social life. Playdates and Girls Nights Out were frequent. During my pregnancy and after the babies, I have pretty much dropped off the face of the earth, and I was beginning to feel very alone, very cut off. And more than that, I felt like with three kids, social outings would be all but impossible forever. But that will gradually get better. The duo will become more interactive and less unpredictable, making it easier to get to playdates or leave them with Chris for Girls' Night. A lunch with friends is just one step. 

[tummy time fail.]

Normal activities that once seemed impossible are getting done. The dishes get done often (with the help of the use of paper plates), and we occasionally go grocery shopping. Yesterday, I got all three kids to sleep and I folded laundry for two hours while watching Downton Abbey. Yes, I had two hours of laundry to fold. One of my greatest frustrations has been that I wash clothes but never get them put away, so I am running up and down two sets of stairs and digging through huge piles to find what I need. We currently have drawers and closets full of clean clothes, and NO pile in the basement. That feels good.

[babies enjoying the park.]

Did you read that? I got all three kids down to sleep. And not just to sleep, but it was like actual naps. Carly was in her bed, and Quinn was in her crib. John was in the swing, but the kid is a prince and I'll take what I can get. But it was very orderly, almost like the seed of a routine is being planted.

[J's Heisman pose.]

One more milestone? I took the kids to the park, all by myself. I'm feeling braver, though I still limit my outings. I know I will never take all three grocery shopping, but maybe one day we'll make it to Target for a quick outing. For now, I try to go only places where I can make a very quick exit, or where if something errupts, to won't bother too many people or send my nerves over the edge. The park happens to fit both of those specifications, but getting there is hard. I endured 10 minutes of screaming by Carly and John (Q sat patiently; love her to death) while I packed bottles and tied shoelaces and threw together sandwiches. But it was worth it, because we had a nice picnic and spent two hours at the park. Carly may or may not have messed her pants, causing me to have to clean her off with baby wipes behind a tree. But that is neither here nor there. It was a fabulous time.

[Things I love about the below picture:
1) Carly taking sudden interest in caring for the babies and wanting to feed Q.
2) Quinn's concerned look over the fact the Carly is manning her bottle.
3) John doing the Heisman in the background.]

It's been a difficult few months.
There were days where I felt alone.
There were days where I felt like I could not stand one more minute.
There were tears while sitting helpless on the bathroom floor.
But things are getting better, just like everyone told me they would.
It will never be easy.
I remember reading the blog of a mother who had 3-year-old triplets.
She said people ask her if it is easier now that the kids were older.
Her answer: "No, its not easier. I have three 3-year-olds! It is just as hard, just in a different way." 

I often get the comment "I don't know how you do it." 
What is the alternative?
Not doing it?
I do it because this is my life.
And I love these kids more than words.
And I'm getting used to it.
I can't even imagine what just one baby would be like.
I often think if I just had had Quinn, man, life would be a vacation!
I know that is not true, and adding one baby is a hard adjustment too.
But everyone does it.
Just like we're doing this.

I also get "You make having twins look so easy!"
It's not easy.
The dark circles under my eyes, lack of make-up, no shower thing makes it look easy?
When I first had Carly I wondered how everyone else did motherhood so stylishly and I was falling apart. If you think that while reading this blog, please know that is not the case. Please know we go outside in mismatched clothes, don't shower for days, and often forget to feed the toddler breakfast (What?! It is lunch time already?!). Motherhood is not easy, if you have 1 kid or 3 or 10.

After the duo came, I wondered if things would ever be "normal" again. I'm beginning to realize that things will be "normal" again, it is just going to take a bit longer, and I'm going to have to accept a new version of it. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

the best birthday party ever.

Chris's birthday was on Friday.

I spent the day packing up 3 kids after a week-long stay at grandma's house.
Then grandma made the 4 hour trek home with us.
We got home around 7:45 pm.

Chris spent the day taking two finals, finishing grades for the classes he teaches, and doing some important things for a research project. 
He got home around 9 pm. 

Happy birthday, right?

[to document our state on his 29th b-day. i hope we look significantly more rested on his 30th.]

But we threw together a rockin' party.

There were streamers up from a shower I gave, so I took the pink ones down and left the 3 orange ones.
I also found two unused balloons that Carly and I blew up.

Decorations? Check.

We ordered pizza, and Chris's mom went to pick it up along with Chris's unexpected request: a carrot cake. (What the . . . ? I didn't even know he liked carrot cake.) Thankfully, she got some chocolate ice cream too.

Dinner and dessert? Check.

The birthday clown made his appearance, and I found some Disney princess candles that were left from Carly's 2nd birthday. Matches were harder to come by, so Chris and Carly blew out imaginary fire. "Where did the fire go?" Carly asked.

Upholding traditions? Check.


As Carly declared while Chris opened his presents,
"This is the best birthday party ever!"

I felt a little guilty for our thrown-together celebration, but we were all together again, so she was right; it was the best birthday party ever.

Well, maybe not ever, but it was nice.

My man is 29. Six years of marriage, 3 kids, and in no time he'll be Doctor Chris.
Man, we are getting old.
Today I was thinking that if Chris was home all day every day, life would be absolutely perfect. 
We'd still be poor and we'd still be driving one overwhelming kid train.
But he'd be with me.
So it would be perfect.

Yep, I like him that much.

And for the record, on his 30th birthday I plan on being 10 lbs lighter, sleeping twice as much, have the house significantly cleaner . . . and I'll make sure to have matches.

Monday, May 7, 2012

grandma's house [in pictures].

As I mentioned, we went to Chris's parents house while he took finals.

It looked something like this:

Sidewalk chalk
Campfire and marshmallows
New-to-Carly Disney movies
Play Dough cookies
A second viewing the the Hunger Games
The "zoo"
Way too much food
Petting "my best dog, Sammie"
Messy ice cream cones

Finals weeks don't get much better than that.