Wednesday, November 18, 2015

saving the world, one 3 a.m. feeding at a time.

Lately, I have this tendency to think I can solve the worlds problems at 3:00am.
I've moved on from thinking I can fix my own, to thinking I can cure cancer. Literally.
I laid here, so beyond infuriated at the idea of not having an answer to fixing this problem. Trying to figure out what we would do if cancer was cured. And got more angry the more I thought about how there is probably a cure out there that we just aren't being told.
Ok enough about my conspiracy theories....

Tonight is no different.
Tonight I lay here in my warm bed, babies waking me at 2am (wasn't this supposed to stop!? I'm awfully tired). I hold Maddox in my arms as I feed him and I pray.
I pray that my kids stay strong.
That they are healthy.
That they are safe.
That they grow into the amazing people I know they are meant to be. I have known it before I met them - they are going to do amazing things. I pray they do.

I pray that they grow to make a difference in this world because God knows we need it.
I pray they don't let fear rule their lives. That they aren't afraid to help a fellow human. That they do what's best for the world, not for just themselves.
I pray they approach every situation with love, kindness and understanding- not judgement, fear and hate.
I pray they are smart, wise and knowledgeable but not scared.

This world is fighting hate with hate. And we are failing miserably. As a race.
It's going downhill so quickly.

I started these thoughts with "how horrible of a person am I to bring babies into this world and subject them to this terrible place?"
That's not the outlook that needs to be had- I was only feeding the monster.

So I prayed for them, that they find beauty and love in this world and spread it like wildfire.That they are the light in the dark, because that is what the world needs.

This is the only way our human race is going to last.
Any other approach will crash and burn.

As you raise your children into this world, show them love for every person they encounter- even if YOU don't feel it.
Teach them the value of life- from a small animal to an old man.
Raise children with open minds, open hearts, free of hate and frustration.

Our world depends on it.
Here is our chance to make sure the future generations get it right. (Not saying our generations didn't get anything right, of course they did).
Don't just tell them, show them through your own acts of kindness & bravery.
Stop judging people based on your own thoughts and see the bigger picture.
Smile at every person you meet. Be thankful in every situation.

It takes very little effort to change the world if we all did these little things. And even less effort if we teach them to our children and those we meet.

**DISCLAIMER: For the record, I am NOT saying "hug a terrorist" I am saying - start where home is, where little people are molded, and maybe there will be less terrorism..... Or at least we can hope.**

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The sun rises.

As a mom of two infants, pulling myself out of bed at any time other than for a feeding/changing seems absurd to me, but this morning I was inspired to catch the sun rise.

As with most things lately, I am kind of a day late. You see, a lot of people were up and focusing on yesterdays sunrise, and I only experienced it through beautiful photos on Facebook.
A fellow Tartan recently passed away. She and I did not directly know each other, as she was much younger than me. I did not have the opportunity to follow her story before she passed, But thru social media I have experienced the way a community can come together. The enormous out pouring of caring, gratitude, hope, and love are popping up in my news feed by the minute. As I learn more with each post, I find what a strong and amazing woman this warrior was. An inspiration.
She advised us all to live life to the fullest. A concept that is often noted, but not often followed through on. We all claim to do it, but do we? She remarks on the sunrise and how it is the most peaceful time of the day, and why it is important to observe it.

My mornings don't include enjoying a sunrise. But - there is no good reason they can't.
After I fed the babies, and rocked them back to sleep this morning, I was excited to crawl back under the covers and catch a few more z's myself. For, it is the one time of day I have the whole bed to myself and no place I need to be. I browsed through Facebook and again these posts popped up of yesterdays beautiful sunrise with the hashtag attached honoring the fellow classmate. As I delved in deeper, I realized I was doing this all wrong. I got up and threw on a pair of sweats, clicked my phone off and ran downstairs, on to the back porch to see if I was too late for the sunrise. I wasn't! I caught a beautiful photo. I started to do my daily chores that I don't typically get to do with the babies awake. I started the laundry, picked up the kitchen and decided now was a great time to take advantage of a shower! I was feeling pretty proud. I got in the shower and began washing my hair (gasp! this doesn't happen often!) YAY! Success.

But was it? It was then I realized that I missed the whole point. As I stood in the shower thinking of how to share my photo that I was inspired to take, I realized that I was actually doing injustice to the cause of honoring her, and life in general. I saw the sunrise, but I did not experience it. I witnessed the light falling across my living room floor as I rushed by with my laundry basket, but I did not honor it. I did the exact opposite.

Needless to say, the sun had risen quite a bit once I got out of the shower and dressed. With my hair soaking wet, I tangled it up in a towel, opened my back door for the second time this morning, and stepped on to the porch. The sun was only a little bit higher in the sky. I stood there watching. I watched as the world woke up. The small animals scavenging through the yard looking for breakfast, the sound of school buses bustling around the neighborhood, the sunlight hitting each surface of my yard, awaking the dewy grass and the sleepy leaves. I breathed in the cool morning air and wondered how I let this moment slip by every morning.

I am what I refer to as a "rusher". I quickly enjoy things, because I am always in a hurry to get on to the next thing. A list of "to do's" a lifetime long. Sitting still is not my strong point, but wishing I had is. It may not be New Year's Eve, but I am due for a resolution. My kids are growing up before my eyes (when people say 'it happens so fast' they aren't lying), my parents are growing older before my eyes, and so am I. Life changes drastically every day, and you never know just what each day will bring. So my resolution, as we head into the busiest time of year, is to slow down. Taste the food I am inhaling for once, smell the new air of fall, touch that first snow fall, notice the little things, not worry about what needs to be done and just be in the moment.

We can all take a lesson from Aimee, if we knew her or not. Life IS precious. Every moment is. Be present. Be in that moment, if it is hard, if it is easy - just be there. It will not last. And I can only imagine, that there is no one out there on their last day on earth wishing they saw less beautiful sunrises.

Monday, August 3, 2015

What did you just say!?!?!

In the twelve weeks since the boys have arrived, I have been trying to get out with them as much as possible. During these outings I am met with the craziest comments and questions I could ever imagine.

Are they twins?
Nope. Same size, same age, same outfit, look exactly alike. 
They are actually four years apart.

Are you nursing?
My response: What is your weight? 
It is an equally personal question. Breastfeeding and all that came with it was one of the most traumatic, guilt and stress inducing event of my life. Thank you complete stranger, I so appreciate discussing my boobs and the choices I have made regarding them, with you.

Are they natural?
What? Huh? No they are robots I built in the garage from a kit I ordered online. 
What the hell does this even mean? My twins were spontaneous but for someone who has undergone medical treatment to become pregnant this would be highly offensive and inappropriate.

Who do you like better?
Followed by "it's okay, you can tell me". And they aren't joking.
I have no comment.

How do you tell them apart?
Considering they are two separate humans with two separate personalities - it isn't too hard.
I usually just respond "he has more hair" and bite my tongue.

Just wait till they get older!
Uh, okay. I'm not in a hurry to find out what you mean. What will happen? Will they turn into giant lizards? Do they roll around the house in a ball of flames?  It gets better? It gets worse? What exactly does this mean?

Better you than me.
Yes. Yes indeed. 

I have two children close in age so it is pretty much the same thing as twins.
Unless you want to be met with the growl of a rabid dog. You don't say this to a twin parent! No. No it is not at all the same thing. Not even close. Now don't get me wrong, every parent has their struggles but having two children is NOT the same as having twins. I can imagine having a toddler and a newborn is a nightmare all it's own. And I don't doubt that parents of singletons go through things I will never understand. None of this is a contest, and it is all fine and well but do NOT try and tell me it is the same. 
It is not. And I can give you a list of reasons why.

My so and so's 5th cousin removed mother in laws sister is a twin.
Great. That is awesome. Twins are amazing. I have 30 seconds to buy this much needed toilet paper and get home before it is time to change and feed these two tiny maniacs but be sure to eat up valuable time telling me all about how you know a twin.

Do twins run in the family?
Yes they do, but that has nothing to do with why I have twins. Science says so. I will gladly talk til I am blue in the face about the twins in my family because they are amazing people, but it has nothing to do with why I have them. And if I look like I am in a hurry, can they please save this question for someone with a nanny.

Does one (fill in the blank) better than the other?
Are you seriously comparing these children to one another? They are twins, not contestants in a cock fight.

You're done now right?
Again, how is my reproductive choices your business, complete stranger?

I always wanted twins.
This is always said by the one person who refuses to come over and help you. 
I always wanted twins too, and I wouldn't change it for anything, but think before you speak. Do not sit there and tell a sleep deprived, hungry person who wishes they had 4 arms you want what they have and not help them.

Are they identical or paternal?
What? Huh?
They are identical (as identical as you can get!) and neither of them are a father yet so I am not sure what you mean by 'paternal'......

They are too cute to be trouble.
Really? REALLY?
How cute is a wolverine? They are adorable, they look like puppies and they will tear you limb from limb before you can even blink.

Twins. Yikes!
Now you think this would be welcomed after some of the above responses... but it isn't. Our kids are not spreading some dangerous disease by walking down the street therefore you should not describe them as scary, to their mother, you perfect stranger.

I would come home day after day with new, shocking comments and questions to share with their dad. I would get all worked up and in an outrage that people have the absolute nerve to say these things! "I understand curiosity and I am an incredibly curious person, and I love people fawning over these miracles BUT have some respect. For the parents. For the twins!" I would say. We would joke and joke about the things people do and how we would love to respond.

(I must sound like such a heartless bitch. I know that is what you are thinking.
I promise you I am not. There is a point to this story - please keep reading.)

I was a very high risk pregnancy. I had a very good chance of leaving that hospital with only one baby. Or even no babies. I can't imagine the heartache a mother feels in that type of situation. What a mother that went through that loss would give to have people approach and ask annoying and inappropriate questions. What she would give to feel the struggle of trying to feed, console, change, manage two babies at once. Or even one. How she would long for sleepless nights spent with her child.  

This is the hardest job I have ever done, and I am not even 3 months in. I can't imagine what the future has in store for me, I can't even imagine what this afternoon will bring. I can barely keep my eyes open and have been writing this post for 6 days due to constant interruption. I haven't taken a decent shower, washed my hair or put on actual clothing in what feels like weeks. There are days I truly wonder who the hell thought making me a twin mom was an acceptable idea and maybe if I died (because I am convinced they are trying to kill me) a step mom will do much, much better than I am.
But there is not a moment, even at the lowest low when I am lying on the floor in a puddle of tears for the 8th time this week, that I am not eternally grateful for this gift. Through every complaint, every joke, every sigh, I am so thankful. I mean, I have TWO babies to love, seriously - that is just incredible.

I had this realization and was immediately transported to a new frame of mind. Everything in this life is about learning. I learned that annoying, disrespectful questions are not the worst thing that can happen and I should enjoy every moment. Life would be much sadder with out them.

So if you see a twin parent out and about, approach them. By all means, approach them. Tell them that they are doing an amazing job. That their kids are lucky to have them. And that it will get easier (even if it is a lie) I guarantee you that the gate to all the questions you have will be opened they will be thrilled to share all their stories with you, should you so want to hear them. 

While you're at it, take a minute and tell a singleton mom, or the parent juggling 5 kids or any parent at all, what a wonderful job they are doing. Because they are. And you have no idea how that tiny, small remark can save a persons whole day. Maybe more

** to the guy(a twin) in Target who looked at me with understanding eyes and wished us all the best.  Thank you.

** to the woman in Target with twins and 3 other children who told me "take it one day at a time, you are doing great." Thank you.

** to every person who stops me to congratulate me, to remark on how strong we are for being out and about so soon, to express love for the miracles that are these twins. Thank you. 

Because although the point of sharing the crazy questions above was to show what I learned about tolerance, there are wonderful and beautiful people out there who shine love upon us every day. 
I am grateful for both the crazy and the loving comments and remarks. We learn something from it all!

Monday, July 6, 2015

8 weeks in....

It is 4:46, p.m. 
I just put the first piece of food into my mouth that I have had all day. 

My hair is filthy, my pants are still somehow too tight, despite all the eating or sitting still I do not do, and my ears are ringing from the screaming. My mascara (I put on while I was at a red light) is streamed down my face, there are more dishes in the sink than in the cabinets, there is puke all over my pants and my house has a faint lingering constant scent of poop. 
I have stopped typing this 12 time already to attend to a scream, a fallen binky, a spit up covered chin or administer another burp. 

So, I know I haven't updated this blog in a little over 8 weeks, but my hands have been a little full. On May 8th, my pregnancy journey ended. At 8:42 and 8:43 a.m. Maddox James and Logan Thomas entered the world as we know it (respectively). They came in weighing well over 4 pounds each and screaming (some things haven't changed). They spent a short 18 days in the NICU at Albany Med and came home, together, on Memorial Day. Considering the circumstances, we could not have asked for a better turn out. Really we are so lucky and blessed. This blessing has had me rather occupied though.

For example - today. 
Today I decided was a good day to try to help their Dad and go to Lowes to get all the items I know he needs to complete our house projects.
Planning ahead, and having learned from the past, I called in their Grandmama for back up. I asked her to meet me at Lowes because it is impossible to push a double stroller and shop. For anything. Ever. And I have learned the horror of one baby becoming upset in a retail setting, and it wasn't pretty. 

I should've called the whole thing (as if going to Lowes should be considered some massive undertaking) off after the first feeding of the day. I say this because the first feeding went surprisingly well. I managed to keep one child at bay while feeding the other and then switched and got through it all without as much as a scratch! This does not pose well for the rest of the day. Mornings are typically the hardest... what did this day have in store with that in mind?

Instead, I went about my morning, singing and thinking we have turned a corner and things were in fact, getting easier! I dressed and redressed my two beautiful, marvelous, (albeit spitting up everywhere) children. Somehow the hours passed faster than I expected and it was time to feed them again. Looking back, the time flew by because it was spent tending to the screaming animals that hours earlier were sweet angels. I fed them lunch and prepared for our trip to Lowes, assuming the car ride would do us all good. We made it to Lowes in one piece, found Grandmama and began knocking off items on the list. 

This is where it got good. And by good, I mean fully entertaining for any twin parent who has been through it to stand back and watch. And by good I also mean a wonderful lesson in birth control for our teen youth. 
We had spitting up, in amounts that could fill buckets. We had pooping through clothing. We had tears. We had screams. We had complete and utter heart break (mine). We had shoes flying off and mittens disappearing. We had adult sized man farts. We had people stopping to ask "are they twins?" for the millionth time. We had gurgles and whimpers and cries. And all of this times two! (Lucky for me I had Grandmama back up. THANK GOD)

We made it through, not completely unscathed, but we made it. Loaded everything, including two animals that resembled my adorable children, into my car. As my mom kissed me goodbye and made me promise to call if I needed further help that afternoon, I saw the pity in her eyes. A feeling I now know only a mother knows. She can't fix it for me as I can't fix it for my boys. We just have to live through it. 

As I drive I am hoping the boys will fall asleep. I'm starving, exhausted and in need of cleaning my house that awaits but I am willing to drive for the next 15 hours if it means they will sleep and be happy again.
They do sleep.
For 8 minutes.
In the 8th minute I look into the mirror to see Logan wide awake and spitting up, again (really though?! What is possibly left in this kids stomach!?!?!) and I steer towards home. 

I unload the babies and place them, with binkies, in to their crib while I make the bottles. Bottle making is done to the tune of their screams. I return to them and from their crib side, choose the child that looks the most inconsolable. This is harder than picking a winning horse at the race track. And a 100% jinx, as it ensures you that the other child will scream for the next 35 minutes until you feed him. Indeed this event went just as so. 
I chose Maddox to eat first. Logan took his binky and quietly binked away during my choosing. I dragged a dining room chair into the nursery and sat next to the crib and silenced feeder #1 with his bottle. I was able to reach over and replace feeder #2’s binky as needed. This worked for about 3/4 of the bottle. Then the screaming began. A scream like no other. And no binky could fix it. I did all I could. All that was with in my power. I took Maddox out to the couch, continued to feed him, and cried. I cried through my prayers of "please make Logan stop crying that heart breaking cry". I cried through my out loud wonders of what lesson I am supposed to be learning. I cried tears of complete and utter heart break at the sound of something I cannot fix. I cried tears of complete exhaustion. I just cried.
Maddox finished eating, and Logan did stop crying (thank you for small miracles!) before he started crying again. But I was now able to feed him while Maddox digested and this is always the easy part. One is fed and one is eating, all is well. Up until today anyway. Today Maddox screamed through Logan's entire bottle. 
As I sat on the floor next to Maddox's seat, feeding Logan, I laughed at every scream he made, stopped and replaced his binky every time he spit it out (prompting his screams) and I just laughed. Not because I was finally completely insane (questionable), not because I was delirious, but because it was downright funny. These kids are a freaking riot. 

Today, amidst the madness that is Twin Momhood, I stopped and realized these things:

I am starving. And I am lucky to be because that means I know what it is like to have food.

My kids had a major meltdown in the middle of a store. For this I am thankful because it means we got out of the house, and we arrived at the store in a car, which means we have our own transportation.

My kid pooped through his clothes.  I am thankful for this because he has clothes to poop through! And his digestive system is working! 

My kids screamed for what now feels like 17 straight hours. They have working vocal cords, for this I am thankful. And it also makes me appreciate the calmness when it does finally come.

I came home to a disaster of a house. I am thankful we have a house. A home I should say. Anyone can have a house, we have a home. 

I had the help of my mom to get me through this particular Lowes disaster. I am thankful for not only her selfless help for me, but her love for my children and the memories we created today.

The boy’s dad was at work for this entire day of craziness, as he often is, perhaps more often than I care for. I am lucky this is the case because it means he has a job. It means when he is home I see what it is like to have a partner in this. That we get to share these crazy moments and we value them more because they are rarely spent together. 

For every minute I am awake in the middle of the night, followed but the entire day of light, I am grateful. I am grateful because these days truly go so fast. Faster than I could have imagined they ever would. And although it feels like the past 8 weeks have been one very, very long day, I know the day will come when the midnight feedings, crying for binkies, impossibility of dual feeding and poopy diapers are gone and I will be thankful to have ever had them.

Today was just another day on the list of long, exhausting, stressful days with two newborns. For this I am thankful in ways words cannot describe. Every moment that I am sure I just can't make it through, that I just can't do this, that God chose wrong in making me a twin mom, is erased when I look at these boys and see them smile. To know they are in good health, and safe and happy. To know they rest well, and have nourishment, and arms to snuggle into when they are scared or sad. To have them surrounded by so much love - from those who have met them and who have not yet. To see how much they are teaching me in such a short amount of time, in ways I never could have planned for. 

And for this, I am forever thankful.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Do we forget about Dad??

When it comes to pregnancy, let's be honest - mom gets all the attention.

When it comes to high risk twin pregnancy with inpatient hospitalization, mom gets even more attention, but not as much as the unborn babies.

No where along the lines, does dad get much attention. I will say, that since my boys were born last week (proud mommy moment, please hold while I gloat...), every one often asks about how dad is doing. BUT with two new babies and a mom who just had major surgery, dad still is at the bottom of the totem pole.

This is common and honestly just the way things are. There isn't going to be some huge revelation that changes it. Men are not going to magically start being able to carry children inside their bodies for 9 months, or breast feed, or experience postpartum hormones, or any of that. So these guys are going to remain at the end of the line when it comes to attention.

This being said, I would like to just take a moment and share my experience as a mom-to-be and now a mom of two - looking at dad.

Dad is the guy who hugged me when I cried when we found out I was pregnant, he did all the research on our very scary situation. Dad filtered the info for me, and only gave me what he knew I could handle. He was the guy that demanded I take a nap when I was sick as a dog in my first trimester. He got me the random food I desired, he took care of dishes, he took care of the house, he shoveled all the snow (and we all know there was a lot) after a 12 hour work day of trudging through that snow. He drove me to every doctor appointment (sometimes twice a week, but always once - 40 miles away), listened intently and made me follow orders. He sacrificed his friends, family and job to be sure myself and the babies were best taken care of. Dad was the one who assured me everything was going to be okay when I lost my job, he was denied FMLA and I panicked about having insurance coverage. Upon me entering my 2 month inpatient hospital stay, Dad was the one who held me while I cried my eyes out in fear. He was the one who traveled to see me every spare second he had. He brought me anything and everything I could want. He spent hours playing games with me to occupy the time. He slept the nights he could stay with me in an uncomfortable chair, so I wouldn't be alone. He skipped meals so he could get to me sooner, and he missed events with family and friends. Dad turned my hospital room into a present haven the day of my birthday and drove back and forth multiple times on Easter. He put up with every weird OCD ritual I created and never once mocked me. Dad reminded me that everything would be okay, on the days I thought I would lose my mind. He marked the days off the count down calendar, asked the nurses every question he could think of and made sure he was there for ultrasounds on days he could get off. Oh wait - on that note, let's back up... in the beginning - he didn't take days off (I later begged and forced him to take one). He did all this while working 6 days a week. Dad, never missed a single day of coming to see me. If he was there for a few hours for 15, he was there every day. Dad showed up in the  middle of his work day, straight from his mail route, a frazzled mess the day we thought we might have to deliver early. He was there the morning of delivery holding my had through 5 ferocious IV attempts, held me thru "the shakes" - which were completely uncontrollable and smiled with me as we watched our babies whisked off to the NICU. He has seen more of me than I have ever seen during that surgery and recovery and I am sure it wasn't pretty. Dad waited with me the long 7 hours we had to wait before we were able to meet our sons, because he couldn't imagine meeting them with out me there. He proudly wheeled me around that hospital the first few days after the surgery, and he hugged me through every hormonal and emotional tear that rolled down my face in those first few days that followed -- and there were many! He did all this and much, much more. I would be here for years if I were to note it all.

I share all of this, not to flaunt the amazing partner I have in this life, but to recognize dads everywhere.
I have never seen someone try so hard, or love so much. His priority, number one, has been me since the day this journey began. I have watched him push himself aside and go with out so I can have. I've watched the calm, centered and stable man I know lose his mind when it comes to the safety and security of myself and our boys.
I've listened to him sing to our sons - from where he thinks I can't hear. I've watched the pride in his eyes at each milestone these boys reach.

Dad is an amazing guy. May we find ways to pay them the credit they deserve when they step up to the plate during a moms pregnancy. I don't think I will ever find a way to repay him for all he has done for me, but I hope these two little faces are a start.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bittersweet Inpatient Adventures

As I returned to my room tonight after walking the love of my life (I know, puke right?) to the elevator to say good night, a weird sensation came over me.

One more week. One more week til the boys are born. 12 more days of living in this hospital.
There was 6 feet of the snow on the ground the day I checked myself in.
It is going to be 81 degrees here on Monday.
Have I really been here that long? Wow.

Pure elation is what I should be feeling at the thought of going home.
  Back home, to my own bed, my own surroundings, my own comfort. Back to reality and having the freedom to go where ever I want and do what ever I care. When I want to see a friend, I can go see a friend instead of silently secretly hoping they show up here. Back to my cat, and my home. Back to not sleeping alone. To going to the store when I need something, to privacy and a washer and dryer! Food that tastes like food, air that is actually fresh, a floor I am not afraid to walk on barefoot!
  Not only the change in surroundings, but the change in my body! After recovery I will have my body back in the sense that I will be able to walk five feet with out becoming out of breath. I will be able to tie my own shoes again. And, I will eventually be able to wear regular clothes! Clothes! Real clothes, not the 5 items I have been rotating for almost 2 months with no mirror to even see what they look like.
  And the greatest part of all (and also the most scary) - two wonderful babies! I finally get to meet the little guys who I have been so closely tracking and monitoring and praying for for months now! All this time and energy and fear and anxiety and anticipation, will be changed when they actually arrive!

I am SO excited for all of these things!!!
(Yes, but...)
   It is hard to believe but.... I am actually sad to leave.

Perhaps I am a prime candidate for postpartum depression, as I can already feel it sinking in.
Perhaps it isn't postpartum at all.
Perhaps it is that this place, as scary and confining as it was when I arrived, has become some what like a home to me.

A lot of factors play into this.
  I have spent 24 hours a day with these people. They have seen me at my worst, when my heart is breaking because it hurts so badly to say good night and good bye to my "partner in crime". They have seen me first thing in the morning after a night of little or no sleep, that was instead spent tossing and turning. They have seen me at my fattest and in very limited or no clothing (and many of them have seen even more than that!) They have seen me terrified, in tears, every time we discuss a risk or a chance of (even earlier) delivery. They have seen my embarrassing extreme OCD rituals. They have met my family and had conversations with them that I don't even have to be a part of. They have seen me breakdown and cry when I don't think I can take one more day, one more test, one more needle, one more scare. We have discussed every gross body function, discussed what it is like to be a parent, talked house redecorating, fashion and just life in general. I have learned about their families, their love lives, their children and more. They have become friends.
  My career has been pretty solo on and off for the past 8 years. I have spent a LOT of time alone, having limited contact with others on a vast rotating schedule. I did not come into an office and share daily routines and activities with anyone. I have not had any consistency like that in YEARS. Since I have been inpatient, I have begun to feel like a part of something. Thanks to HIPAA I am not nearly involved as my nosy self would like to be, but I have learned the staff schedule and their routine. I know what days to look forward to based on who will be working (which is almost every day might I add!) I know who I can say what to and who to ask when I need something. I have met surgeons and doctors and nurses and assistants. I have met social workers, students, cafeteria workers, waitresses at the restaurant across the street (where I shouldn't be). I have met people from the information desk and the girl that brews the coffee at the little coffee stand. From the person who cleans the toilets to the NICU nurses that could save my children's lives... each and every one has played a part in my stay.

  These things have made this place home. I cried my eyes out the day I had to check myself into this hospital. I was relying on the outside world to help me through. My family, my boyfriend and his family and our friends have made it so much easier to be here. I wait every day for my regular visitors arrivals and I enjoy every minute of the few hours we get to spend together.
  But the rest of the hours, when my friends are at work, or just too plain busy with their own lives. The days my family truly has other things to do (which might I add, doesn't happen often - they tend to set it aside to make an appearance here. I can never express my gratitude for that). The days that the sun just doesn't quite reach through my window, I some how know I am not alone. There has become comfort in these halls, a place I have been terrified of my whole life. There has become a friend in faces that 7 weeks ago were strangers. There are hugs from people I once walked past and cowered from, because doctors and nurses were scary.

  Inpatient is on the list of the hardest things I have ever done. Being that I am on the brink of becoming a parent to two, I know this is only the beginning of hard things. But, not only did I find friends here who will have helped me through this 8 week experience, and continue to give me support as we lead up to the scariest part (the actual birth!), I know I have found friends who I can count on long after I am no longer a patient. Long after my babies leave the NICU for home and begin to grow into little boys. Long after I am hauling around this baby weight! And long after postpartum depression is only a memory.

  I am so thankful for my inpatient experience. To every mono/mono mom-to-be out there on the brink of entering the hospital for their stay, I can only say I wish you an experience as wonderful as mine has been. The sleepless nights, the terrible food, the noisiness, the terrifying screams from other rooms, the confinement, the loss of privacy, the stressful monitoring and tests and scans, the need for fresh air, the lonely nights (either alone or staring at your partner sleeping on the even more uncomfortable "dad bed"), all of it. May you experience it all, but may you also experience what I have - a new understanding for the medical profession and exactly what it means to be a part of it. May you find friends in the wonderful people who work 12 hours shifts and often more,  to be sure you and your babies are safe. Those who are paid to do a job, but choose to also be a friend.

  So as this chapter nears it's end (8 more days til delivery!) I remember that sometimes the toughest experiences bring about the biggest joys. In this case, the joy I have received doesn't begin and end with my beautiful babies to be - it involves so much more.
Every time I see those children's faces, I will be reminded of what it took to get them here, and all the people who were involved in supporting us to get them here! And I will (some how) find even more reasons to be thankful.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

What would you like for your birthday?

A year ago today, I was waking up with a headache from being out the night before. If I remember correctly, I was at the Van Dyck in the Stockade enjoying their amazing beer and the beginning of my 36th birthday weekend. This is a random guess but it's a pretty good one. If I wasn't there, I was Katie O'Byrnes.
Who am I kidding, I was probably at both.

My entrance to year 36 was spent with all my great girlfriends at my apartment drinking wine, telling stories and talking girl stuff. It continues to be one of my most favorite memories. We talked about what the upcoming year would bring and hopes and dreams. I had high expectations for 2013, (being that 13 is my favorite lucky number), but quickly realized I was a year off. Started to wonder if I was off by two years and 2015 was where my life was finally going to come together.

As I quickly approach 37, I can not help but recap 36 over and over in my head. It was truly the most drastic life changing year of my life. Thinking back to the bottles of wine, and talk with friends a year ago, I had no idea what was really in store for me this year.

I had an opportunity to spend a lot of my time alone at home during my 35th year. Typically this would be a complaint for me, but in retrospect - it was the greatest gift I was ever given. I took that time to study myself, my life, to learn what I want and how to be grateful for what I have. I learned that being thankful for the little things every day, makes all the difference in the world. Couple that with really figuring out what it is you want - out of a job, a friendship, a relationship, life in general - you can really actually get all you want.

A few weeks later I was going about my normal weekend routine and happened to fall upon the person I would later learn not only met all my "qualifications" for what I wanted in my future partner, but quickly became my best friend, by biggest supporter, the one who makes me laugh when I don't think there is even so much as smirk left in me, who tells me just how "okay" it is going to be when I doubt I can make it through another day, my hero.
I could bore you with the details, and I gladly would because it remains my favorite story so far. But I won't. I will tell you it was a crazy summer full of amazingly great times I will never forget and also coupled with some of (what I thought were) the most stressful days.
Both he and I were going through major changes in our lives. Possibly him more than I. It put pressure on the fun, spontaneous, getting to know you, beginning part of a relationship.
So months later, when I showed up with the 6 positive pregnancy tests and eyes full of tears, I worried just how much his shoulders could bare.
My life went from bottles of wine, discussing life with my girls to "oh my god, what do we do now" in approximately half a year.
So, I  quickly and stressfully (is that a word?) moved (out of my apartment which I had become very attached to).
We planned. We cried. We went from terrified to excited and back a zillion times a day.
We tied up lose ends, and began building a picture of the future.
As with keeping with the trend of craziness 2014 had brought, we learned it was twins. A rare 1/10,000 case of mono mono twins. We scheduled more doctor appointments than I have ever had in my (hypochondriac) lifetime. Faced medical fears I never imagined existed.
Learned that life isn't going to only change when these babies arrive, but months before. Four months before the due date I was slotted to check into the hospital. Until they were born, which would be at least two months early.
That left us just a few short months to prepare. A few short, stressful months.

Come February, about a month before I was admitted to inpatient care, I was laid off from work. Not only did I love my job, but we were now down a salary, down an insurance carrier, down a maternity and short term disability leave, down a career. I'd been laid off before. It was painful and rough. But that was just me and a cat to support. Now what? Truly, now what would I do. I couldn't exactly go get a job (the one thing I actually KNOW how to do!) - as who will hire someone for 4 weeks that is a high risk pregnancy and can barely hold her head up past 2pm? Sounds very marketable huh?
We had babies to prepare for, a house to get in order, a car to buy.
I had watched the father of my children-to-be work like I have never witnessed someone work, since the day he found out I was pregnant, now this will add more stress to him, being our sole provider.

To add insult to injury, dad-to-be was denied FMLA due to the fun fact that we were not married. This still makes no sense to me, but he ran the risk of suspension from work if he took too much time off to be at doctor appointments.  How do you put someone in that position?! Every doctors appointment was important in this case. Every appointment, every 7-10 days, revealed something new about our situation.

At this point, it was easy to fall to the floor, give up hope, surrender to depression and let the hormones take over and cry til my eyes were dry. It was easy to think back to my 36th birthday and wonder "what the HELL happened!?!?!" But I thought back to that year of 35 instead. I tried to remember what got me to where I was, because although it was a struggle, and every day was another fight, it really was all going to be okay. How could it not be? I wasn't going through it alone, I was going through it with the person I was meant to do this journey with. The one who is stronger than 1,000 of me.
We could have gotten married. It would have solved many issues. But is that why you get married? To fix the broken? No. Not in my opinion. There has never been a doubt in mind that I wanted to spend my life with this person, since the first month I met him. And even that is not a reason to hurry up and do it.

So, I organized the house the best I could, I packed my bags, I said my prayers, and I shipped off to the hospital for my two month stay. Not knowing how we would make it through or what to expect. Not having ever been in a hospital for more than a few hours, and having done everything in my power to keep things that way up until this point. Not ever having even so much as an IV. No anesthesia, no surgery, nothing. Nothing but (what I learn now) an irrational, very large, anxiety inducing fear of all things medical.

And this brings us to birthday 37. I've had some interesting birthdays, I've gone cool places, done amazing things. But 37 will forever live in my mind, I have no doubt. The days that lead up to it, and the ones that follow will probably not ever be forgotten as well. I will spend the day I turn 37 here, in the hospital. Hopefully I will spend the first 25 days of my 37th year here as well.
I can tell you, a year ago, or 20 years ago or even 9 months ago - I could never imagine my next birthday wishing to be inpatient in the hospital. WHO WOULD?
But I see now, after getting a little over half way thru it, just how much this experience will add to my life. No I haven't slept, like truly slept, in over a month. Yes the food is horrific. No, I still don't have a job bringing in income for my family. Yes, I am going to cry the day I take a shower in MY house and sleep in MY bed again. But all of these things can not take away what I have learned here. All the machines, IVs, terrifying experiences, the constant monitoring, the "code blue, whites, reds and greens", the 5:30 am wake ups, the blood draws, the lack of fresh air and sunlight,  the screams from laboring women, the painful shots and horrible injections of different kinds, none of it outweighs the amount I have learned.

I have learned that I truly picked the most perfect person (I say "picked" when I mean he let me pick him) to share this life experience with. His selflessness amazes me multiple times a day.

I learned just how much a parent can love a child. Not only from the love I feel for my un-borns, or for the love I have seen of other patients in this hospital, but the love I have felt from my own. The time, the effort, the energy, the thought they put into every day. For their own child.

I have learned how "nurse or doctor" is more than a job description. How they become the support system and the friends you never imagined finding. They get you through every horrifying experience and remind you how strong you are and that you can do this. They down play nothing, they understand the anxiety, they don't judge you for a bad day, they hold your hand when you are scared and crying, they get you through months of living in a hospital. They understand. They become more than a face that hands you pills. They become your friends. The ones that make you laugh, that share their life stories and listen to yours. They hug you good bye and forgive you for you early morning moodiness. They discuss your intimate details and share theirs. They are friends you never expected to find in a place you fear so much.

I have learned that support doesn't always come from those closest to you. That a friend you had 25 years ago can support you in ways you never imagined. That you truly fill the minds of those who are only passing thoughts in your own hospital driven mind. That people truly are amazing, and giving, and caring. That when the whole world feels like it is falling apart, you can be picked up by someone you least expect to grab your hand. Social media gets a bad rep, and for many good reasons, but I can never deny the power of positivity I have received via social media over the past months. It is ASTOUNDING and I am thankful for every message, card, note, text, call, post, video, care package, visit and more. I can never find a way to express this fully. Ever.

I have learned that family and friends are really what life is about. This hospital is NOT easy to get to, is a pain in the ass to park at, is stressful to find your way through, yet, everyday people take time out of their day to do it. For us. The support is incredible. Be it in person, or not - I am overwhelmed by it.

I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night (just kidding, I wake up every ten minutes) wondering "is this real?" and "how did I get here?" I live in a hospital room. Growing two baby boys. Praying they can stay in for their delivery date. Holding my breath thru every test, every ultrasound, every monitoring session, every day.
And I wonder "How? How did I get here? Will I make it thru? Will we all?" It's as if it is a dream, as if it isn't real. Because I never could have imagined it. In my WILDEST dreams I could be in this situation.

So, as I enter my 37th year, I know I am as in the dark about what is to come as I was at 36. I have never been a mom. I have never witnessed a NICU stay or a preemie baby (or any baby!). I have never even had surgery. 19 days after my 37th birthday - this will all be my reality.
These babies really have done it right, I have to say. They have given me an opportunity to learn more than I could have in 5 years, all in just a few months since I learned of their existence.
 And just in time to me their mom.
What greater birthday gift can I ask for than that?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Where do we go from here?

I have been pondering where this blog should go from here.

There are so many avenues it could take.
 I could talk about the amazing staff and the difference they truly make on your inpatient stay. How they are paid to take care of you, but they aren't paid to be your friend although most of them make the choice to do so anyways. I could talk in length about how much this impresses me.
 I could talk about the other patients I have met - the funny stories, the odd stories, the horror stories and the beautiful stories.
 I could talk about the amount of support I have from the outside as well. The visitors, the packages, the notes, the calls, the texts, the emails, the letters, the posts.... it goes on and on. This I could also discuss in length because I am in complete AWE of the outpouring of support and love. (this includes those of you who I have yet to respond to, sorry! You are appreciated!)
 I could discuss the way this type of situation effects a relationship. My god could I discuss this. I could tell you how I am further amazed with the size of my partners heart and all he is willing to do to make this situation okay for me. Not for him, but for me. His selflessness is unimaginable. I could go on and on about this for days but it makes me cry so hard that I know that I could never possibly relay these feelings into reality.
 I could discuss the actual pregnancy and the ins and outs of what goes on here. Every day is a battle. Every day is a surprise. Living on pins and needles (literally) daily. Holding my breath through each test, fearing each moment. Really forgetting all the beauty of why I am here and instead drowning in fear. I could tell you in depth about each test, each ultrasound, each success and each 'failure'.
 I could discuss the blessing of each day. That when nightfall comes, and the tests are done for another day, the relief I feel. We feel. And then the dread of the next morning and what it might bring.
 I could discuss the hope. The faith. The positive energy. The things that come from love and knowing we are surrounded by it daily. How when I walk through this hospital I am reminded just how insignificant I am. How little I really have to worry about in comparison to so many others here. How although my situation is terrifying, the odds are better than some others around me.
 I could talk about how I have gone absolutely bat shit crazy. Every "crazy" thing I was before is now amplified to an excessive degree. Worry? HA! I thought I worried the last 36 years, I had no idea. Stress? Don't make me laugh! I didn't know what stress was. Obsess? Give me a break... if I was clinically OCD before, then I am sure there is a straight jacket with my name embroidered waiting somewhere for me now, because I have exceeded the limits of acceptable!
 I could talk about how I miss the outside world. To feel the actual earth under my feet. To have 5 minutes of privacy to take a shower. To just go to the store and wander. To drive a car and listen to music. To snuggle in my own bed. To pet my cat. To not feel guilty with every visitor that makes their way here. How I have watch peoples entire lives change because of my situation and fitting me into their day and making an effort for me.

I could discuss all these things in depth. The good, the bad, the tiny moments, and the big. I could go on and on because this has become my only world. My only focus. When you are in a 10'x10' room, with nothing to think about but the well being of the two babies you are trying to grow and possibly your own health (only because it some how relates to those two babies) - nothing else exists. It becomes a breeding ground for the scary.  I could think about all this and I have, for many many weeks. But last night, I remembered why I am here. I remember the wishes I made earlier in my life. The wish to watch our kids take their first steps together and to see their dads face when they do. The wish for a game of catch in the yard. A wish for crazy nights of homework that I don't even understand. For family vacations, for birthday parties and Christmas mornings. For strolls in the park and days on the lake.
 For the first time- in the weeks and hours plagued with fear, I remembered the actual prize. I remembered that we will get through this, that we are strong enough to do it, that my babies are fighters, that NICU days will not last forever, and that one day all these wishes will be a reality.

And today, I guess that is what I will focus on. Because love can always conquer fear, if you let it....

Sunday, March 29, 2015

No, you may not go outside and play yet.

Well, I have been inpatient for two full weeks as of tomorrow.
I have got to tell you, I can't believe how fast it is going.
Do NOT get me wrong, the lonely parts are hard, the "good nights" filled with tears are hard, the sleeping is impossible, there isn't an inch of privacy even for a phone call, I've had six roommates so far - some good some not so good, and the food is garbage but ... looking at the big picture, these things are minor.
I am incredibly impressed by the staff. I have never felt more taken care of or watched after. And waited on! "Can I get you water?" "Can I get you juice?" "Do you need anything?" It is impressive and reassuring.

I can not say I feel like I am in a 5 star resort or anything, but you learn to adjust.
I am encouraged to walk around, get out and do things (but not too out) - for which I am thankful because I am not much of a "sitter still".
At one point in my first week here, we were discussing outpatient monitoring as opposed to being in here for 6 more weeks full time. Now, I have to say, anyone staring 6 weeks stuck in a hospital room will jump at the idea to be home sleeping in their own bed, with their partner, pets, amentities, etc. Showering where things are familiar, and eating decent food! WHERE DO I SIGN UP!?
Well, that was my first thought anyways. Then I thought about it a little more. For 6 months I have been given the statistics of my situation. The advantages of being here. The reasons I am here. And my mind quickly changed to "No." No I do not want to go home. I do not want to travel here every day, two to three times. No. I want to be here! I actually can say I want to be here!!!
Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuutttttt, if you could let me out for a few hours a day I would really be happy.
At this point we started considering day passes. My doctor was all for it! Yay!

So I decided, since things were on such an early side, and everything was going so well, I was going to take a few hours and go home. I laid on my own bed (which was one of the most blissful experiences of my life, I cried - who knew?!), I took a shower in MY shower. I dropped off laundry, I ran the dishwasher, I cuddled with my cat and snuggled with the love of my life. Stopped at Target, grabbed some essentials, ate actual food and headed back to my temporary home.
Let me tell you - as wonderful as the break was, as fresh as the air felt, there wasn't a moment I wasn't on edge. I was so afraid I was going to get in trouble for leaving that I don't think I actually relaxed for 30 seconds. Probably not even 10.
I returned to my hospital room and felt relieved. I got settled for the night and began to relax. The nurse came in to do my evening non stress test (funniest name for a test that stresses out EVERYONE involved!)
Well, apparently babies were not happy with the decisions I had made for the day.... and decided to act up! I landed myself in the labor and delivery unit.
At 26 weeks (only days after NICU said "we will not discuss the grimness of 26 week delivery" to me)
After three or more hours of monitoring already.
To say the very least, I was not thrilled nor excited.
I was numb, terrified, trembling and exhausted and alone.

Let me preface this all with just a bit of information: I do not do medical situations. No seriously. DO NOT DO THEM. I have never been hospitalized, I am absolutely petrified of hospitals. I do everything I can to avoid them. I have never had so much as an IV, no surgery that required inpatient, no anesthesia. Any of these ideas will send me into a full blown anxiety attack at the drop of a hat. I have been prepping myself for it, because it is all coming, but 6 days of being in the hospital was certainly not enough prep.

Long story short(ish) - I was placed on monitoring (I was told would be about 4 more hours) and that was the plan. Then the resident doctor came in and we talked, they said the cervix was closed and all was looking well. After a bit of further discussion and calling the doctor on call, changes were made. Prep was done for delivery (steroid shots, IV drip, magnesium drip, etc) and I was in a full on panic, at 2 a.m. that lasted until day break. But the babies stayed in.
I was sent for ultrasound at about 8 or 9:00 in the morning. Everything looked spectacular. Cord flow was great, breathing and heart rates were excellent, all was good. I was taken off IV, and given food (yay), monitored for three more hours (this makes about 15+ total!) and sent back to the safety of my original room, a place I never knew could look so good!

Needless to say, I learned a lot that day.
First things first - my ass will not be leaving this hospital anytime soon. Day trips will not be happening. Visits home will not be happening, even for Easter or my birthday. Excitement will be brought to a minimum. Boring days are much welcomed.
For the first time in my life, I want BORING.
Secondly - ummmm, magnesium is freaking awful! They should use it to extract answers from terrorists. Seriously. I am pretty sure I am going to have to have it again at some point and the thought makes me want to jump out the window.
Thirdly - I am reminded that I am surrounded by the best staff, in the best place with the best care for my babies. You have to stop and wonder why things happen sometimes. I am being told my stress was not the cause. I am being told my leaving for a few hours was not the cause. I am being told to learn to meditate and control my anxiety. And I am being told to not bother to worry because what ever happens will be.
So, why? Who can say why. But I have decided after a few days of thinking, what I am going to take from this situation.
I am taking this as a warning. A warning to remember why I am here. To remember now is time to slow down, because in a few months there will be no down time! Also an opportunity to find a method of relaxation, a plan of action for stressful moments, and a way to control the fear and find the happiness.
As this pregnancy continues, I am finding lessons I have needed to learn in my past are being forced upon me now with vigor. It is as if these two boys know, with out even really knowing, exactly what I need and when.
The past year has taught me more lessons than all of my (almost)37. But I don't think anything has taught me as much as these two have in the past 27 weeks. If they are teaching me all of this now, I can not imagine the things I will learn when they finally arrive! 6 weeks or more, no sooner!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


This morning I woke up, I laid in my bed with my cat for an extra couple of minutes - enjoying my own bed, the view from my own window and my kitty's purring. I thought about my life, and where I have been. I thought about the things I have done, the happiest moments, the saddest moments and the scariest moments. I thought about when I moved to NYC - knowing next to nothing about the city. I thought about the time I sold everything, packed my car, drove across the country and moved to L.A.
I thought about how these two huge moves scared me less than a 2 month trip to my own local city hospital.
I tried to understand what made this move scarier than the rest. For someone who has traveled to weird places for years, spent time away from home, moved around - why was this so much different?

The conclusion I came to was quite simple. Anywhere I went, any thing I did, I knew that when I was ready to, I could come home. And it would still be home. The difference is now, when I come back home at the end of this stay, my life will be a thousand times different than it has been the last 37 years. I will be a mom. My boyfriend will be a dad. And my life as I know it, will never be the same (in ways I can not yet understand).

I thought about how much has changed in the past year (well, less than a year - whoa.)
Drastic changes. Of all my life, I have never had so much change, in such a short time.
And the one very big, very important thing I have been taught, is that home is not a place.
Home is who you are with.
And although when I return back to my dwelling, my life will be different, but it will also be so much the same.
And it will be home, because I will be surrounded by those I love and those who love me.
This is what makes home, home.
Not a place, not a building, just the love people share.
Families & friends.
So in the meantime, I am in my temporary 'home'.
Where every time a familiar face walks through my door, it feels like home.

Dated: 3/16/15

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Looking for the "pause" button

It is Wednesday morning.
I am sitting here staring at my To Do list, eating a breakfast I wish consisted of chocolate chip cookies.

This list I have in front of me is two pages long, front and back.
It covers every errand to run, every grocery to buy, every item to clean, every suitcase to pack and every room to organize... along with many other things and notes and ideas.

It is basically "nesting" (an unexplainable urge and need to clean/organize the whole house, top to bottom before baby, or in this case babies, arrive) on paper, or spring cleaning or a combination of both considering the recent weather change.
Nesting usually takes place starting a few weeks, or months before the baby is born. Old wives tales suggest it means labor is coming but from everyone I have spoken to it begins much earlier than that. And it is an instinct that really can't be explained. 
Before I go further, let me back up a little... so, a "normal" pregnancy runs approximately 40 weeks. This would mean, in my mind, nesting begins around 30-35 weeks. That might be early but some people are just born to plan and prepare. Let's for sake of example say it begins at 32 weeks. 
At 32 weeks of a mono-mono pregnancy - you are having your babies. BOOM! 8 weeks of prep for babies, GONE.
Now back up even further- at approximately 24 weeks (depending on doctor and situation) you are inpatient hospitalized (yes, we have just gotten to the heart of this post). So apparently you, as a mono-mono mom are to be "nesting" around what? 18 weeks!? Dear God. This brings us back to an insane To Do list that others can't comprehend. 4 months of prepping packed in to, say, two weeks. 

Monday morning I am going to walk out of my house, with only what I can carry. (OK that is a lie, I can't carry anything. It'll be what someone else, stronger and more balanced than my now enormous self can carry). But not much. Think of packing for a weeks vacation (and by vacation, I of course mean jail) but having to stay for 8 weeks. No washer, no dryer, no refrigerator, no microwave, no getting up for a midnight snack in your undies, no cuddling on the couch watching crappy TV with the love of your life, no sitting in the 'new' nursery dreaming of the arrival of your little one. None of that at home, nesting, resting stuff. 
Just some luggage, some strangers and some odd machinery monitoring you. 

I will walk out of my house on Monday, knowing when I return in two months, my life will be absolutely NOTHING of what it is right now. Not only will it be different when I arrive home, but it will be different in a way my brain can not even begin to understand. 

I have talked to many women over the past few weeks who have spent time inpatient waiting for their babies to be born. Some have hated it, some have not. Some flipped out, threw a fit, absolutely refused to go and others have gone quietly. I guess I fall in between. I do nothing quietly. I fear for the nurses on D6 of Albany Medical Center, because I know that over a matter of two months they are going to consider holding a pillow over my face while I sleep countless times. 
In the words of singer Frank Turner:
"And I won't sit down
And I won't shut up
And most of all, I won't grow up"
God Bless those poor nurses who have no idea how their lives will change upon my arrival on Monday. They are going to hate me when I try to redecorate the room, leave and go to Target and tell dumb jokes until they want to blow their heads off. 

All joking aside, just how does one prepare for such an event like this? I mean, clearly you clean the house, you pack your things, for months you save activities to do while inpatient, you gather advice, you read what you can, you ask questions, you cook meals and freeze them for those still at home, you do laundry, you run errands, you tie up loose ends.... but really? How do you prepare for the home sickness, the loneliness of missing your of your partner, the missing of a pet (crazy but true), the boredom, the stir crazy, the missing of your own bathroom, and your own home, and driving in your car, the missing of holidays and birthdays and life happenings, the lack of freedom, the idea that the one place in the world that scares you more than most is a hospital and medical procedures and emergencies, and roommates and babies and you have never had anesthesia or surgery or even have a single idea what it is like to give birth to preemie babies and dealing with a NICU or anything leading up to it or what comes after and omg omg omg omg omg ... the claustrophobia of it all....HOW!?!?!

I have an answer. After the lists of things to do, the arrangements, the tasks, the errands, the groceries and the laundry are done, you are left with faith. 
You remember that this journey, is in fact just that... it is an adventure. You do what you have to do, with out resentment, and with out the fear swallowing you whole. You do it with support from those close to you and also from those you never knew would or could support you. You remember that two months is a tiny  amount of time to sacrifice when it comes to saving the lives of those you are creating. You remember the scary statistics and the feeling you felt the day they told you exactly what you were up against and you then remember your promise to those babies and to the other parents in your same situation - to fight this good fight the way it was meant to be. With positivity, faith and hope. To prove the statistics wrong, to be support for those who follow you and to build little warrior babies from the get-go.

THIS is what life is about. As corporate America sits there wishing for Friday, for fast forward, for the weekend of St. Patrick's Day parties, I am wishing for the pause button. For one more night to sleep next to the person I love, for one more hour hanging out on my parents couch and talk nonsense, for one more minute of  snuggling with my cat. But life has no fast forward, no rewind and certainly no pause button. I savor every moment at home til Monday arrives. And then come Monday, I am going to savor every, single, last minute I am in that hospital receiving care other mothers only wish to have, surrounded by a support system any other girl can only dream of. And come delivery day, I will savor every moment that led up to meeting these little guys and every moment that my life is no longer what I knew it was before. Life goes too fast to not do these things daily.
I will not take the little things mentioned above for granted. Because I will know the struggle to go with out them. 
Yet again, this experience is handing me even more lessons I couldn't have otherwise imagined learning. 
If that alone, with the reward of babies, isn't worth the small inconvenience of an 8 week hospital stay,
I truly do not know what is.

**With this being said, if you are in my position and facing the "jail time" of inpatient hospitalization, know you are not alone. And remember no matter how much it sucks, and how boring it is and how awful it will seem, it will never amount to the love you will receive for doing it. Best wishes!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

No need for sleep....

It is 1:57 a.m.

I am wide awake.

This is not a new practice for me, I have mastered the art of not sleeping ever very well over my past 36 years.
The difference today is.... I. Am. So. Tired.

As I lay here, there are many thoughts that run through my head but the one I am hearing loudest is "sleep now, because when the babies get here - there will be no sleeping for you."


This is the same feeling you might get when you have a big presentation at 8 a.m. and you are counting the minutes before you have to get up. It goes something like this:
1:00 a.m. (as you run over all numbers for the presentation) "If I fall asleep now, I get a good 5 hours of sleep.

2:45 a.m. (as you rehearse the opening line of the presentation) "If I fall asleep now I still get 3 hours and 15 minutes, that'll do"

4:30 a.m. (as you remember the blouse you planned to wear is at the cleaners, shit.) "I really need this hour and a half to function, please God, please! Just let me fall asleep!"

5:50 a.m. (staring at the ceiling now lit by sunlight.... you drag yourself out of bed, cursing) "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. How will I ever make a good impression with no sleep!?!?"

This is similar to how I feel. Except at 5:00 p.m. that night, the childless worker in the example above, gets to come home and collapse.

My brain is replaying all the sleep I am told I will never get, ever again, for the rest of my life. Ever.  
"If you think you're tired now, you have no idea what tired is yet" is a line I hear far too often. If you want to ensure that a very uncomfortable, over tired, already terrified pregnant woman, will not sleep - tell her this. It works like magic.

Along with this statement I hear, on the regular, these similar statements:

  • "If you think your house is a mess now, clean it while you can because it will never be clean again"
  • "If you think you are broke now, just wait"
  • "You miss going out and your social life already? Kiss that goodbye"
  • "While you are at it, kiss the pants you wore last summer good bye as well"
  • "Expect to fight with your partner- a lot"
  • "Get rid of anything you truly love now because your kids are just going to break it anyways"
I wish I could explain the fear this invokes in a mom-to-be. Add these to the reasons I no longer sleep. Life is changing faster than I could ever imagine and anything I have ever had control over, I no longer have control over - at all.

From what I understand, pregnancy is supposed to be a very exciting time. A very happy time. Not a terrifying ride of misery. I fully understand that my situation is different than most. And although it is a tad bit stressful, I wouldn't change it. As I have said, everyone is offered the situations in life that they need to learn and grow, and this is mine and I am blessed to have it.
BUT I wouldn't mind seeing some encouraging words every now and then instead of struggle. I wouldn't mind the negative stuff being out weighed by the positive stuff I hear. I make my own present, and I am aware of that, and I do everything I can to focus on the positive, because there is plenty. But I can not be the only mom-to-be out there (and I do not just mean mono/mono twin moms!) who is just plain ... scared. 

So I decided to make a compilation. I asked for parents to give me their greatest parts of parenthood. The things they love, the things that make them happy to be parents.
And the answers I got shattered my heart into a million, happy, excited pieces. 

Here are a few to hopefully help inspire you as well:

Eileen  Because at the end if the day (and my kids are 23 and 20) you will never have anything like the bond between a mother and her children.

John  I know your parents. I knew you as a girl. You'll be great

Crystal I have yet to find a moment that I am more overwhelmingly in love with my husband than those moments in the weeks following Carter's birth. Not when we were falling in love, at our wedding, finding out we were going to be parents... Nothing even comes close to the immense amount of love and deep respect I felt watching him hold Carter, and taking care of me when I wasn't at my best. I get teary just remembering it.
Don't listen to everyone giving you the negatives. It's just different, and you adapt. You will lay your eyes on those tiny humans that YOU MADE, and everything else will fade away.

Kimberly You think you have felt love, then you have a child and you wonder how u ever lived without this feeling

Jennifer  It is the most amazing feeling knowing you created those human beings!

Beth  I've never worked a more difficult job in my life. I've laughed till I cried, cried till I was hysterical, slept-walked through my day and nearly lost all sanity..but every time I am at the brink..four words make it all worth everything. "I love you Mama".

Stephanie  When you look in your babies eye's enjoy and capture every moment because before you know it there in High school, then college etc.. It goes fast ..Capture those memories

Alyssa  Parenthood really forces you to come to terms with who you are. It makes you dig deep and be better in ways you can't comprehend before you make the journey. You will learn how to effectively prioritize. You will feel deeper--the highs and lows are so, so powerful but GOOD.
And love. It may come all at once or take its time to build up, but I promise that one day you are going to feel it, and it will shine so bright, it will cut through all the darkness. Yes, it is hard, and yes you will have bad days, but that love will be worth it.
Also. Kids are funny. And full of so much innocent wonder. Your life will seriously fill up with joy by absorbing even a fraction of that!
AND you get to do things like color, mush Playdoh, and play with toys all the time! Fun!

Bobi  She's <my daughter> amazing. I made that!! Confident. Smart. Everything I taught her to be. She makes me proud every day.

Stephanie   The pants that don't fit, the broken favorite things, the dinners out and the time off to cure the hangovers don't ever seem as important as they did before. Being a parent is hard work but you get paid in tiny hugs and first laughs and peek a boos and it is the best pay you will ever make. The first time they say Mama or laugh or sing their first song your heart explodes out of every crevice in your body and nothing, not one single damn thing will ever matter as much as those little people who spit gum in your hair, and you always forgive them.
I also want to add that there is never enough time and there is never enough money but it always works out. Everyone tells you that you need to give so much up to have kids but all they need is love. Kids will play with boxes and pans.

J Derek  Think you're awesome now, just wait till you're a super somebodies hero

Kate  There's no better way to finally love your body no matter how "imperfect" after you hold your baby/babies and realize how amazing and beautiful it really is.
As a breastfeeding mom I never felt so much pride as I did watching her grow and be thrive knowing "I did that"
Being the person with magic kisses that fix all the boo boos

Marilyn  You learn that you are stronger and braver than you know, and you see yourself do what has to be done, and you feel immense pride in yourself for having mustered to get it all accomplished... and that doesn't even touch on the love you'll feel for your children... which fills your life in ways you can't even imagine.

Laura  One of my favorite parts about being a working mom is the excitement and hugs and huge eyes, big kisses, pure innocent joy I currently get when I walk in the door from my 20 month old

Nicole  It's the most exhausting and rewarding job I've ever had and wouldn't change a thing!!!!!!! 24 hours a day, 7 days a week I'm on duty!!! A hug and kiss and an "I love you mommy" is all I need to keep me going!

Heather The best moment in the world is the first time you hear you child say "I love you mommy".

Brett  Being a super hero is definitely the tops. Their smiles and cuddles make all of that other stuff seem frivolous

Christopher  The older you get the smarter your parents get.

Kerri  By no means does any of this outweigh the amount of laughs you will have with your partner over stinky diapers, getting peed on, the hilarious things kids they say, or the hilarious way they try to dance. And seeing him hold those babies will be incomparable to anything else in the world. You got this!!!!

Meghan  My son is 13. Looking back at the milestones and being proud of his accomplishments and being his biggest cheerleader for all he does make me happy. While yes there are moments when you wanna run away and hide it is a love like no other

Molly  You think you know what love is now, just wait!!!

Bichi  When the tables turn and they are there encouraging you, helping you, being proud of you...appreciating what you do. That's pretty cool. You get to teach someone to be as good as you always wanted to be!

Keith  When Cadence was first born and just beginning to breathe and she was taken over to the warmer she started hysterically crying, as newborns do. I went over and said "hi baby" and that's it. She stopped and did everything she could to see me. And that changed my life forever. She had been hearing my voice all those months. And that's all she needed right then. I'll never forget that.

Emily  The moment I saw my baby for the first time and heard her cry, I was in love! And it's definitely a love like no other, it really can't be described or put into words..just AWESOME! Everyday I look at her and it blows my mind, that I helped create the BEST, most precious gift I have been blessed with!!!

Frances You are about to embark on the absolute best times of your life. Stay positive and DON'T listen to nay-sayers! Lucky you, to enjoy TWICE the love.

Tina  No matter how bad your day sucked, when you see that babies face light up when you walk in the room all your problems disappear
Heidi  All of those statements are so true! What makes it all worth it? It will be the first time in your life, that very moment you lay your eyes on that baby (for you babies), that you will undoubtedly feel a true love. A love that is like no other. Nothing and I mean nothing, will break that connection. It will be the first time you can truly say that you will put someone elses needs before your own and you will be ok with that. All that exhaustion and i don't just mean not getting another 2 hours of sleep (although that will mean the world for you to get), I mean pure physical exhaustion that sleep won't cure. It's an exhaustion you have never felt that comes from taking care of another human being, making him into a mini you or a better mini you, you will take such pride in that child. Its like your own masterpiece. He is a reflection of you. You won't be prouder of anything else you've ever created. You will work so hard like never before at giving this child a good life. And although your own needs are on the back burner, your child's happiness will always come first. Things you worry about now won't even be a thought once you lay eyes on him. This will be your BIGGEST achievement in life. And how can that not make you so excited?

Mark My daughter taught me "love." I couldn't imagine a love like this. Ever. There were times it was financially difficult. Others were so frustrating, you wondered how you would ever get through it. But, I wouldn't change a single moment. It's been an incredibly rewarding ride.
Another message is: Hold on tight to your sense of humor. You can't always laugh in the moment (and there will be moments you'll want to literally roll on the floor laughing - but you can't because you still need to correct the behavior), but remember to do it'll make those tough moments a lot easier. Lastly, one of the coolest parts of parenting for me was watching my daughter experience those things that I experienced as a kid and watching her awe and wonder. I'd watch her and think, "That is soooo cool!" Then, I'll be the very 1st to admit how "lucky" I got with my daughter. She didn't deal me even a 10th of what I gave my parents.

Carrie  We get so caught up in this crazy life that we miss out on what is wonderful in the here and now! We stop worrying about the future because they are staring back at us. Our kids help us stay present and in the moment. Those special little moments when they get sooo excited about something as simple as "Frozen" soup or their daddy walking in the door after working all day, a sticker from the doctor after being stuck with needles, their favorite inappropriate adult song comes on the radio and they start dancing in their car seat... The list is endless but it's those little moments that bring pure joy and happiness to your life as a parent!
Lynn  First, master the art of sarcasm so you can indirectly tell people to f*ck off when they say insensitive things like all of the above.
Second, I've never loved anything I hate so much like this (being a parent) ...In other words, no matter how bad things seem to be, at any given moment, you will still love it. And that trumps all.

Anna  In a way those things are right because life as you know it will never be the same after you become a parent. BUT being a parent, especially a mother is the most rewarding and incredible thing that can ever happen to you. You will wonder what did you ever do without them? Holidays are so much better through the eyes of your children. The love you feel for them and the love they have for you, indescribable. Be excited for this new journey you will embark on. Parenting doesn't have to be any of what's described above. It's what you make of it.

Kate  Think you've felt loved before? Just wait till you get that first face munching slobbery kiss.
Think you pretty important? Wait till you're somebody's hero by magically kissing away the hurt.
Expect to cry, a lot. Tears of love, joy, exhaustion, awe, frustration, mirth, and gratitude.
Say goodbye to those fancy pants you wore last summer because they're going to get ruined by sticky fingers clutching at you because you're safest place in their world.

Keri Honestly, being a parent was what I was made to be....Daniel is my #1 - I hate when pple feed me the crap that mom comes first or she can't be the best mom she can be. I call bullshit. Daniel comes first....period. Once I held that little man in my hands (which he Pooped in immediately ) I lost all fear of what to expect and just lived for that moment. Its hard to do but always trust ur gut. I still parent "in the moment". As a huge anxiety sufferer I refuse to let daniel see mommy like that....he has grounded me, taught me true love, helped me learn to love more worry less...and worry more lol if that makes sense. There is NOTHING like being a mommy or daddy....i thought I loved my animals more than any human ever could....then along came daniel and showed me a whole new melt your heart cry tears of joy love. You will sleep again you will have things you love you will have a life you will do whatever you want bc it's your life and why it won't ever be the same it will be sooooo much better. I PROMISE. All you have to do is allow it to happen...whatever "it" is. Trust the universe trust yourself. You got this. We all the same and in completely different ways

Michelle  Think you've experienced unconditional love with your partner? Wait until you hold what you've created and have nurtured and will continue to do so for the rest of our life... Wait until you see that little one.. That's the absolute definition of unconditional love.

Kim  Every single day since I've become a mother and put my baby(s) to bed... I turn back before I close the door, feel that lump in my throat and literally say, out loud thank you God for this(these) angels. I have always been moderately religious... But for these 2 girls, my heart and faith grew 1000 times, I see every single blessing I have that I over looked before... From the fact that my fridge is full, my bills are paid, my car is working and my babies loved and fed. I have never been more proud of any accomplishment I've ever attained and every single thing that was ever important to me, just isn't that important anymore. Just remember to take those steps back to see what they're doing. Put the camera down, you being in the moment is far more important than capturing it. Of course your life is changing... You're about to be 2 babies whole world.

Kerry  And you think your Mom is the best there is now, just wait until your babies are here... You will understand EVERYTHING your own mother did for you on a whole new level!!!!

Donna Experiencing all of the firsts! Just remember to be laid back and enjoy them.

There it is for you. Real parents, real answers. 
I want to make it clear, that I did not say I am not excited. Of course I am excited!
But I think with all the talk out there about how hard it is to be a parent (and don't even get me started on what I hear about twin/multiple parenting) that all of us parents-to-be, who have no idea what to expect, need to be reminded of the amazing journey we have no idea we are about to embark on - in a good way. 
When I see a parents eyes well up when they talk about their children, I find encouragement that dirty laundry and sticky hands and no sleep are not what parenting is all about. 

My hope is that this post will bring that feeling of encouragement to a new parent-to-be that might be feeling just as scared as I am. I cried my eyes out reading through these responses more than once.
And I can't wait for the the day to look back at them and feel exactly what they are all saying.  THAT is true excitement if I have ever known it!

**Thank you to all who participated. If I was unable to include your response in time, please feel free to leave it in the comments below on this post, I am sure you as a parent could have wisdom us parents to be could use!