Monday, September 30, 2013

FAITH

- F A I T H -
Faith sees the invisible,
believes the incredible,
and receives the impossible.

About a year ago, I found out I was pregnant.  About a year ago, I was bleeding on picture day and feared another miscarriage was imminent. 

And almost exactly a year ago, I sat in the ultrasound room staring at TWO little gray ovals and listening to TWO distinct, strong heartbeats.  I was only pregnant 6.5 weeks.

As I walk out of Nolan and Judah's room as they lay sleeping soundly for their 1pm nap, a smile glows on my face knowing how truly amazing God is. 

Recently my boys got baptized into the Catholic Church.  I know a huge responsibility falls on parents to be the best and most prominent example of faith in their children's lives.  Josh and I accept this responsibility gladly and understand the weight and impact of it.

Their baptism was wonderful.  It was a beautiful day, the boys' behavior was amazing (no crying at all), and I was able to celebrate turning 30 in the best way I could imagine: acknowledging two new Christians into this world surrounded by our family. 

My faith helped me, even in my darkest, most hopeless moments, to see the invisible, most incredible, and sometimes seemingly impossible dream of becoming a mom.  There are countless examples every single day that affirm for me that God exists, that God answers prayers, and that God has plans for each and every one of us. 

I will continue to serve Him, praise Him, and raise my boys to know Him.   
 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sleepless Nights Because of... Myself?!

When you are a parent of newborns, there are a certain amount of sleepless nights you can count on: waking up every 2-4 hours for feedings, the occasional rolling onto the stomach and not happy about it situation, and the ever growing amount of wake ups just to get some one-on-one time with Mommy or Daddy.

Josh and I have anticipated these and have gotten fairly good at maneuvering around them.  Of course, we have worked out a system.  I wake up first on the even days, Josh wakes up first on the odd days.  If Nolan and/or Judah needs to be fed, then it's all hands on deck. 

When our twins turned three months, there was a blissful period for about 3 weeks when both boys slept through the night fairly consistently.  And when I say sleeping through the night, it was a 10pm to like 6:30 or 7:00am kind of sleeping through the night.  Josh and I could think, function, remember things, and got used to having our brains back.  When the school year started and I went back to work (a coincidence or not), my boys reverted back to their more infant ways and began to wake up during the night for any number of reasons.

This is all a part of parenthood and I get it, I really do.  Nolan and Judah are doing the best they can and so are Josh and I. 

This isn't the problem...

Shockingly (or not), I am the problem.

Josh is now having to take care of three babies during the middle of the night: Nolan, Judah, AND ME.

The past few nights, after I have gotten up with a baby or babies, I have been completely unable to fall back asleep.  Friday night, for example, my angel Nolan decided to wake up around 12:30am. I got up and got him back to sleep after about 30 minutes.  I was looking forward to laying my head down on my pillow to fall immediately asleep, but NO.  I tossed, turned, and my brain raced with random things including the fact that I don't have a fall center piece for our dining table and a small freak out if I threw away a Target bag that still had things in it.  At 2:00am, both boys decided to wake up needing a diaper change, outfit change, and a feeding and I was still awake.  Almost 1.5 hours later (at 3:30am) I finally fell asleep.  So now I was up for 3 hours during the night only partially because of either of my children. 

A very similar scenario happened last night.  Nolan woke up again on his own.  I was able to get him back to sleep quickly, within fifteen minutes.  I then proceeded to be up for over two hours on my own accord.  I graded papers, checked emails, watched TV, etc etc before finally getting back to sleep only to have Nolan wake up again at 3:30. 

What this means for poor Joshua, who is a MUCH better sleeper than I, is that on any given recent night, he has had to listen to Nolan cry, Judah cry, and me toss around, me sigh out of frustration, me get up and out of bed to get a drink of water, pace around, or turn on the TV. So now all four of us have been totally sleep deprived for days. 

You have got to be kidding me that I can have sleep issues even when I'm operating on hardly no sleep.  Curse my inability to fall back asleep once awoken.  Clearly I'm the one in need of sleep training.  

GRRRRRR.   

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Multi-tasking on a whole new level

Hello loyal readers,
Today I am coming to you from inside my Saturn Vue.  I am currently on my way home from my parents' cottage.  I am sitting in between two crying babies.  Judah, on my right, has been crying nonstop for almost two hours.  Nolan decided to join him about thirty minutes ago.  While hearing crying in full stereo surround sound, I accomplished all these things:
1. Entered 60 scores into AIMSweb from a math screener my students took
2. Ate dinner
3. Checked and responded to emails
4. Had three text conversations
5. Fed two babies a small bottle snack in hopes to alleviate crying (it did not)
6. keep my finger on a pacifier in Judah's mouth in hopes to alleviate crying (it did not)
7. Have a conversation with Josh about what the most important things we want to find in the next house we will purchase several years from now
8. Surf around facebook
9.  Play with several toys in hopes to alleviate crying (it did not)
10. Write this blog.

I always thought I was good at multi-tasking, but having twins puts the art of multi-tasking to an entirely new level.  It is amazing what I can accomplish during the shortest of naps, the smallest times when both boys are occupied, the tiniest of windows when I am hands free, and even during a seemingly mundane drive with two crying boys with stuffy noses on either side of me.

:)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fourth Month: Reflections

This month seemed like a biggie...maybe because it was the last month of summer and the last month of my staying home full time, but we really tried to soak it all in...

What we Learned About Nolan Gerard:
Nolan came a long way in several milestones this month.  He has gotten much more accepting of doing some work during tummy time and has been rolling over from his stomach to his back more often and more comfortably.  He has a strong head and very strong arms. It's crazy how high he can lift himself when he's on his stomach sometimes.  He's been experimenting with lifting his head up while he's lying on his back also.  Nolan has also been babbling up a storm.  While we went to visit Ashley up north was the first time we really heard a babyish laugh or giggle out of him and he hasn't shut up since.  Those noises, just like smiles, are worth a million dollars.  My heart swells so big every time I hear him or Judah talking.  Nolan needs to be a part of everything.  At gatherings, even if it's nap time, he will fight and fight to go to sleep because he'll want to be looking at everyone and putting on a show for everyone.  He hates sleeping if he feels like he's going to miss something.

He's taken a liking to a few select toys including this Lamaz red dog.  It's nice that he can be put in a better mood if one of his toys is near.  Nolan is also obsessed with TV.  We will turn his head from any direction to try to find the television.  Sometimes I have to turn it off while I'm breastfeeding because he will stretch to try and see it while eating.  Silly boy.   

I find him to be so much more calmed down.  He still thrives on predictability and routine, but is in general a much more happy baby each month that goes by.  He needs to be touching Judah at all times.  It's very cute how he always needs to know that his brother is near him by grabbing onto Judah's clothes, ears, hands, face, etc.  Judah, however, is not much a fan of this :)   


What we Learned About Judah Matthew:
Judah has always been our much more laid back, go with the flow baby, but this last month, I am finding that he needs routine and predictability almost as much as his brother.  He does not want to make a big fuss when he feels that his schedule has been interrupted so he often looks to Nolan to 'get loud' about something that's an annoyance.  He will look at Nolan as if to say, "HELLO?! Why aren't you getting mad about this right now?!"  If Nolan delays in being the 'squeeky wheel' Judah will step in gladly :) 

He, like his brother, has made great gains in tummy time also by continuing to be a rolly polly little thing.  If he's on his stomach, he will be flipped to his back in no time.  If he's placed on his back, he will be flipping over to his stomach in no time.  He has never rolled two times in a row, but I'm sure that will be coming soon. 

He too has a few toys that are becoming his favorites.  He seems to take a liking to blankets.  He loves the tag blanket his Aunt Jessica got him and a blue blanket with a rattly teddy bear attached that he got from my mom.  He is also into biting on his thumb. I won't quite call it sucking yet. 

Judah does not talk as much as Nolan, but will have conversations with you.  Nolan's babbles are more random, but Judah will try to mimic noises others are making at him.  He has also been smiling much more during this month and his head has become much stronger. 
 


Some Firsts:
  • Baby laughter (had by both boys)
  • Sleeping in their cribs now...there were many tears had by this momma the first night they were out of our room :(
  • First time to Holland/Zeeland area
  • First time at a restaurant (New Holland Brewery in Holland, MI)
  • First time up north (Petoskey AND Traverse City)
  • First time to Grand Rapids
  • First MSU football game (we watched on TV)
  • First time with a non family babysitter (Thanks Eileen and Al!)
Twin Moments:
  • As mentioned before, if Nolan is anywhere near Judah, he will grab him and hold him
  • They are smiling at each other more
  • Both have made noises at the other one
  • We had a super scary night of sleep a few weeks back where both boys had their movement sensors go off in the middle of the night.  Josh and I threw ourselves out of bed scared each time.  Thankfully all were false alarms. 
Reflections on Being a Mom:
As I sit here writing, I have survived my first couple of weeks being back to work as a teacher.  Even though I will be part time this year (Working only Thursdays and Fridays), in the beginning of the school year I've worked much more than that.  There is so much work teachers endure before the year starts: Getting classrooms ready, going to many meetings, open house, etc etc and I needed and wanted to be a part of all of that.  So, I had to work a lot and it was very difficult.  Almost every morning there has been tears shed and lots of feelings of guilt.  I know this is the best decision and I know how blessed I am to be able to do the part time thing, but I've been at home with them since May, and it's been rough getting back.

One of the hardest parts about the transition is giving up some of my control to both my role as caregiver and my role as teacher.  I'm a control freak and  I need to be 'all in' to every single thing I do.  Now, when I'm at school, I can't be all in as a mom for those 8 hours and when I'm at home, I can't be all in at school.  Thankfully, I could not have given up some of my control to better people.  When I'm at home, I know my students are in good hands with my amazing teaching partner who is there Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.  I trust her, respect her, and know that my students are being 10000000% taken care of.  When I go to work, my dad is my boys' main caregiver.  He has been incredible and has been patient with me as I wrote a seven page 'bible' about the twins and made him come over to my house for orientation.   

One of my favorite moments this month was going to Zeeland to spend the weekend with Josh's old roommates from college and their families.  Two of his roommates also have baby boys that are within 6 months of age to Nolan and Judah.  It was amazing to watch all these guys be dads and we were able to all have a successful night of sleep with 4 babies under 9 months old under the same roof.   

While there, we explored downtown Holland and went into a baby store.  My double stroller, as usual, turned many heads.  I got into a lovely conversation with a woman who approached me to share that her daughter was also having twins and that she just found out they were going to be two boys.  She asked me my advice about what kinds of products her daughter needed to have.  Of course I went immediately to the Brest Friend, my huge XL Boppy I use to breastfeed the twins in.   As we continued talking, I realized that the twin thing wasn't the only thing this woman's daughter and I had in common. 

Her mom shared with me that she was a labor and delivery nurse so I shared that my mom was a RNICU nurse.  She also shared with me that her daughter had worked very hard for her twins.  That's the not too intimate way of sharing that these were fertility twins so I immediately told her a little bit about Josh and my struggle to get and stay pregnant.  Come to find out that her daughter had a couple of miscarriages under her belt as well.  The bond that I feel I share with other struggling fertility patients is so deep and full of such great emotional connection.  When I find out that someone else has been taking part in fertility treatments, there is so much more I can relate with than just that fact.  I know about how it takes up your entire life, I know about how fertility treatments can suck a lot of the romance out of trying to get pregnant, I know about all the appointments, the scheduling, the medicines, the bad news, the let downs.  I know about the feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and inadequacy.  I also find myself so drawn to other parents of twins.  Twin parents and fertility patients get me in a way that other people cannot.   

Another accomplishment in our traveling life was that in one weekend we drove to Petoskey on a Friday to spend the night with Ashley, drove from Petoskey to Traverse City on that Saturday to go to a surprise birthday party for Josh's old roommate, Nate, and then drove from Traverse City to home that same day.  The boys did wonderful for being in the car so much.  We can go places with twin babies!  It's a miracle ;) 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Traveling Freak Show....Otherwise Known as My Twins :)



This onesie says it ALL!

Taking my boys out in public has been quite an experience over the last few months...

First, there is a LOT to plan, think about, and pack.  Everything is driven around meals.  We have these small windows of time in which we know we can go places without having to worry about feeding.  We have to constantly think about when they need to eat next.  Do we need to bring the green monster (aka my huge XL twin boppy to feed them)? 

I am in a constant panic about the behavior of my boys when we're out in public.  This may seem a bit extreme or exaggerated, but just think about it...  What are the odds of TWO infants being happy for an extended period of time at the same time?!  I do not mind the occasional crying and unhappiness, but you sure do get looks of judgement when two babies are crying and you can't make two people feel better by yourself.  My boys don't deserve that; they and we are doing the best we know how.   

My diaper bag is insane.  I need two sets of extra clothes, enough diapers for two people, two sets of toys to play with, etc, etc.  Then there's the double stroller that weighs 43 pounds just by itself.  Pushing that around town turns just about every head we pass. 

When we go out, my twins are literally treated like a freak show.  Everyone must come up to us and must interrogate us.  Usually the interrogation goes like this:

Q: Are they twins
A: Yes!
Q: What are they?
A: Both boys
Q: Are they identical?
A: No
Q: Do twins run in your family?

The answer to this one varies, but here is where things get tricky.  I feel the need to educate everyone on twins.  I use this question as what us in the education biz like to call a 'teachable moment.'  People first need to understand that truly it is the girl's side of the family where twins matter.  Josh and his family genetics have no control over whether I ovulate more than one egg to make fraternal twins.  Josh and his family genetics also has nothing to do with whether my egg would split in half to make identical twins.  Twins DO actually run in Josh's family.  His grandma had boy/girl twins and in the last 1.5 years, he has had two girl cousins have twins: a set of girl twins and a set of boy/girl twins.  All fraternal.  So usually I start the answer to this twins question saying that twins do run in my husband's family, but they do not run in mine. 

Next, I continue with my 'teachable moment' by saying loudly and proudly that my twins were fertility twins.  People can get a little awkward in this moment if they feel that I've now shared too much and too intimately, but I could care less and that's what they get for asking.  Josh and I endured A LOT to produce these beautiful babies and I find it imperative to share that these were not by genetics and not by some fluke, but out of blood, sweat, and a whole lot of tears.

After this conversation people usually make a last comment.  Some of them are extremely kind such as, "wow, double blessings!"  or "They are just wonderful." or "you look like a pro." or "God bless them!"  Others are a little negative in their nature: "You must have your hands full" or "that must be extremely difficult."  or "I'm so glad I never had two at the same time."  When these more negative comments come, Josh and I always end the conversation on a positive note by saying something to the effect that we feel extremely fortunate or that twins are so much fun, or that we love having twins. 

I think our family has done great at going out and seeing the world.  My boys are not quite four months and have been to Canada twice, up north, to the west side of the state, Grand Rapids, Target, Babies R Us, the mall, my school, Josh's work, and over to many peoples' houses for a visit.  Every month it gets easier and more seamless. 

The most fun part of being out in public is having other twins or parents of twins come and talk to us; these are my favorite people to stop by our freak show booth :)  They help us bask in the awesomeness that is having twins.