Monday, November 11, 2013

And the Thesis Is...

My amazing talented cousin is getting her masters in photography and asked several moms she knew to be a part of her thesis.  Ideally, I'd write a letter, but my handwriting is terrible and I want to be able to look back and read this one day.  So here goes...

How did YOU respond to the initial news that you were pregnant? Did you experience fear, happiness, relief, anxiety? Were you trying to have a baby or was it a pleasant (or not so pleasant surprise)? ... Feel free to opt out of answering any part of the question that you don’t want to, or that you feel is too personal.

With Hayden, we had been actively trying for over three years to get pregnant.  I had suffered several miscarriages, been through ALL kinds of fertility treatments that left my body and mind a mess.  We had moved to the East Coast for Chip's work and decided to do IVF.  I went back to our doctor in Texas, where we began our fertility treatment journey, and was absolutely ecstatic to find out we were expecting!  They implanted two embryos and only Hayden "stuck".  I did have sadness about that and was nervous for most of my pregnancy - mainly about STAYING pregnant.  Then on December 22, 2009, our lives changed forever - in the most wonderful way possible.

Fast forward a few years, and despite our best efforts, we were still not pregnant.  We decided to thaw two of the embryos from our IVF cycle that gave us Hayden.  They put two in and - they both "took"!  We were thrilled but also terrified at the reality of having three kids ages 3 and under!

How did you emotionally respond to your changing body? Did you embrace it and love it, were you confused and horrified, did you not care at all?
I embraced and loved being pregnant with Hayden.  I even "enjoyed" morning sickness because it was my daily reminder (until 20 weeks) that I was still pregnant. 
With the twins, it was fun at first because I wasn't in the "ate too many burritos" phase very long.  I looked 10 weeks further along that I was since I was housing two precious babies.  However, I had ALL DAY sickness and had to do twice weekly outpatient IV therapy and take medication to not throw up all day.  I threw up until 24 weeks and only have a five week "grace" period before things went downhill.

Did you have a “turning point” during your pregnancy where you went from happy to sad or vice versa... Maybe you reached a point of acceptance like I did, or perhaps you went from happy to scared?
At 29 weeks, I went to my high risk OB appointment (I went to a high rish doctor because I was having twins) and found out that my cervix had shortened and I was dilated.  I was put on FULL bed rest - which is quite difficult to do with a three year old.  I also starting having Braxton Hicks pretty often.  My body thought I was 39 weeks pregnant and I ended up in the hospital at 32 weeks due to contractions causing me to dilated to a 3 and become 80% effaced.  After a HORRIBLE magnesium drip, the contractions stopped and I was able to come home after three days.  The following Tuesday, I went to my regular OB appointment and my blood pressure was alarmingly high.  Back to the hospital, where I was admitted.  They had a hard time controlling my blood pressure and I ended up having an emergency C section that Saturday (the day before Easter) - March 30, 2013.  Chip had taken Hayden to an Easter egg hunt (at my insistence) and literally made it to the OR two minutes before the twins were born.  I was absolutely terrified - since I had the babies at 33 weeks 5 days gestation - and knew they'd have to go to the NICU.  Hearing them cry was the most wonderful sound ever.  It was VERY hard not being able to hold them or go see them.  Despite the fact I was on a magnesium drip (which makes you feel awful), I still managed to drag (okay, I was pushed in a wheelchair) myself down to the NICU to hold my babies.  It was amazing (other than the part where I literally bleed all over the floor and chair, that was a little horrifying)!  Except - I couldn't hold Ansley because she wasn't doing so well.  I would have to wait until the next day to hold her and then wouldn't be able to hold her again four days later due to her destating in  the NICU and needing more support. 

I would say that I felt relieved (that the babies were okay), overwhelmed & guilty (because it was "my body's failure that caused them to be delivered early) and a huge sense of peace and love (that was the biggest part).

God and adrenaline got me through the two weeks the babies were in the NICU.  I had to pump non stop, was making trips back and forth to the hospital daily, playing with Hayden and trying to make his life as "normal" as possible, trying to work (I'm self-employed, so no maternity leave), hold my babies, keep everyone updated as to what was going on and sleeping only in 1-2 hour increments at night (no naps for this girl).  I felt so awful the last few weeks I was pregnant due to being pre-eclampsic, that having a c-section and delivery was actually less physically stressful.  Emotionally though, it was a daily roller coaster of having to make BIG decisions to help my babies...

Now, the babies are happy & healthy 7.5 months old bundles of love with the most amazing almost four year old big brother ever! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Kind Heart

I've said before that all I really want for my kids is to love Jesus and to be kind.  I had one of my proudest Momma moments Monday night at his last tee ball game.  Here's what happened.

During the second inning, Hayden hit the ball and made it to first base.  Then, a single hit by his friend B had him at second.  When the next little player hit, Hayden ran to third and B, who was on first, got really excited and ran past second base and was on his way to third, where Hayden was standing.  There wasn't enough time for Hayden to run to home and second base was empty.  The third base coach told B to run back to second but he got confused and ran to second then turned to try to run to third again and got tagged.  It was B's first time to get out and he ran off the field crying and decided he didn't want to play anymore that inning. 

The third inning came around and Hayden hit the ball and made it to first and then B hit and Hayden ran to second.  When the next little player hit, B ran to second and got tagged AGAIN.  He was sobbing running off the field into his Daddy's arms. 

Since it was the third out, all of the players were running into the dugout to get ready to field the ball.  I went over to help Hayden get his hat and glove.  He noticed B was crying and asked, "Momma, why is B sad?  Is he okay?  Did he get hurt?"  I explained that he was sad because he got out and his feelings were hurt.  Hayden immediately tucked his glove under his arm and ran out of the dugout.  He walked up to B, touched his arm and said, "Are you okay, buddy?"  He then gave him a hug and said, "B, do you want to come play with me?  It's okay, please don't cry.  Let's go have fun!"  B was still too upset to play right then, but you could that it meant a lot to him that Hayden cared.

I told Hayden that B needed a little space, however, I was super proud of him for checking on his teammate and being a good friend.  A short while later, B ran out onto the field and smiled over at Hayden in the outfield.  After the game, they all ran the bases and did their team chant, happy as can be. 

Yes, Hayden is a great tee ball player (in my humble opinion).  He can catch, hit and loves the game with an unmatched enthusiasm.  More than that though, what I think makes him stand head and shoulders above the rest is the fact that he genuinely cares for others.  To me, that is worth more than whether or not his team wins, whether he hits a grand slam or makes a double play. 

Way to go, Hayden!  I couldn't be more proud to be your Momma!

Monday, October 14, 2013

If These Walls Could Talk

As someone who is a mom of preemie twins and who also works from home, I spend a LOT of time at home.  I'm actually a pretty introverted person (which may surprise some of you), so I don't mind it - most of the time.  Sometimes, though, I feel as though I may go a bit more crazy than I already am.

After the twins were born six weeks early, I expected that I would have to keep them home for the first few months.  What I didn't expect was that I would need to keep them home as much as possible for the first twelve months!  Since I found that out a few weeks after their four month check up, I have had to make some physical and mental adjustments for my own sanity.

You see, we took the family to Texas when the twins were a little over two months old for a sip and see.  They had their vaccines and all of our family & friends were super careful about making sure their hands were freshly washed/sanitized before holding them.  When we came home, they both ended up with colds and, eventually, ear infections.  I figured that their immune systems were getting built up and, since they're pretty healthy otherwise, I didn't worry about it.

Then, Dawson had another ear infection when he was five months old.  I mentioned to our pediatrician that we had gone to Texas and were planning to go back the next month (mid-September).  He told me that he would prefer we not go (if we could) since there was a whooping cough outbreak and the twins weren't fully vaccinated yet.  That made sense to me, so I told him we would just wait until we went back in October for the State Fair.  He said that would be fine, but his recommendation would be to not to take them out anywhere while we were there since it would be RSV season.

At this point in the conversation, I told him that we were looking to start the twins in a MDO program when they were eight months old.  I asked if he had any suggestions.  He told me, "yes, your house, until they are a year old."  He knows I work from home, so I was slightly puzzled by his response.  When I asked why, he explained that RSV season runs from October - April and he highly recommended that we not take them to any public places indoors or any outside places like the fair.  The twins would also be receiving a shot called Synagis once a month for seven months to further protect them from getting RSV. I was completely taken aback.  The twins were pretty healthy, other than a sinus and ear infection for Ansley and Dawson's recurrent ear infections (which Hayden has also had).  When I mentioned this to him, his response was that we don't really take them anywhere and this is why they are as healthy as they are - and it also wasn't cold/flu/RSV season.  We are as careful as we can be with the twins - all the grandparents and uncles/aunts have had their whooping cough vaccine and get their annual flu shots.  Hayden washes his hands when he gets home from school and I don't really pick him up or drop him off, so as not to expose the twins to preschool germs. 

After this appointment, I went home and did some research.  I polled my twin mom friends and - sure enough - just about everyone with preemies had done the same thing.  So, for now, we stay home.  We are "allowed" to travel to Iowa and Texas, but we won't be taking the twins all over to see people.  It's best for them to be in one environment with germs that they are accustomed to.  Other people can come see them, of course, but it's immediate hand washing and no one who has recently been ill or who feels under the weather will be around them.  No restaurants, churches, friends' homes, museums, etc.  The twins baptism will be delayed until they are a year old.

I won't lie - it's tough sometimes.  I want to go do things as a family.  I want to get used to being out and about.  However, that would be extremely selfish of me to put my children at risk like that when I don't have to.  I work from home and there is nothing so pressing that I HAVE to leave with all the kids.  I look forward to Hayden's tee ball games - it's an approved outing since it's outside and no one holds the twins except for us.  The doctor visits are a chance for social interaction for the babies and me both.  A family walk outside is a welcomed treat.  Church is viewed online.  It's the season we're in right now and I am doing my best to embrace it and be grateful for family and friends who will watch the twins so I can go to the Fair, get some much needed clothes that fit (post partum twin body - that's another post), do a race with my friends or just have a much needed solo trip to the grocery store.

I'm grateful that I have a job that allows me to stay home and keep the twins as healthy as possible so that they can grow bigger and stronger.  If I worked outside the home (like so many moms have to do), the babies would have to be in daycare of some sort and I know that would be tough!  I'm grateful for our friends and my Mom who watch the twins on the days I'm busy with work.  I'm grateful for in-laws who will travel and see us to help out when Chip has to be out of town.  God is using this experience to make me humble.  I have to ask for and accept help.  This has long been a struggle of mine, however, now it is a necessity.  I'm grateful for a spectacular oldest son who helps with the babies and makes them laugh when nothing or no one else can.  I'm grateful for a husband who "gets his hands dirty."  I'm so very grateful for our pediatrician who is honest with me and truly only wants the best for our kids.  He's not overly conservative, however, he is realistic about the risks that preemies face and what we can do to minimize those risks.

To anyone who has preemies and is "home bound" like we are currently, ask for help!  Make time for you.  Take a breath and realize you're doing a fabulous job!  This season is so very temporary and the benefits are endless.  This season has made me have to think about what activities I say yes to and what we are able to do, since Chip and I switch off on who stays home with the babies if we have something to do.  The sweet snuggle and giggles and seeing all the firsts - those moments are priceless and I have a front row seat to everyone.  Dawson and Ansley are the sweetest babies and I know I am beyond blessed by them, Hayden and Chip.  More often than not, as I lay down to sleep, I am overcome at how amazingly full my life is.

If you know someone who is in a situation like ours, offer to help watch the baby(ies) so they can go to the store or get a drink.  Go get your whooping cough and flu shots and let the parents know so they have one less worry on their plate.  Wash your hands and stay away if you're sick.  A drink and a visit will go a long way.  Bring them some take out and have a lunch date with them.  Don't get upset if they can't do something or if they just look exhausted - they are!  Most of all, just be there with a hug and a kind word.  Encourage them and support them - it will mean more than you'll ever know!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yeah, I Work Out (sometimes)

In mid-July I had this crazy idea to start training for a 5k, to be a fit mom.  Well, like most of my crazy ideas, I didn't want to do it alone so I roped/conned/begged Jess, Jen, Kathy & Becky to join me in a 5k in Dallas called the Color Run in mid-November.  I thought that would give us plenty of time to train and I always like having a goal.  And - just like that - Team TuTu Crazy was born.

The training started off great - I used the Couch to 5k app and was running every other day.  All of our husbands even started training, since they couldn't let their wives beat them.  Woo hoo! happened.  August was met with a broken a/c, 4 month vaccines, the ear infection of evilness, but I still ran.  I got plantar facitis, but some new running shoes helped with the pain and I still ran.  September was more awful ear infections and I came down with pneumonia and had to hang up my running shoes for a few weeks, per doctor's orders, so I didn't run.  Had I not had these ladies as motivation and to hold me accountable, I would have said forget it and quit.  But I didn't.  I started running again this evening and, although I had to start my training completely over, I still ran.  And it feels amazing! 

My friends are such an inspiration!  Kathy hurt her knee, then her ankle and yet - she still managed to not only run, but do P90 and she also biked when she couldn't run.  Becky had some major road rash and still... she ran.  Jess had to have major surgery and take a few weeks off, but she's out there running.  Jen moved from California to Texas with her husband, two young boys and two dogs and still... she ran. 

The point of my rambling is this - life happens.  Stuff happens.  However, to quote my friends, even when we're getting passed by possums (which actually happened to me), we're still lapping those people on the couch.  The reason behind me getting fit isn't to be a supermodel or to be in a size 2.  I want to set a healthy example for my kids and to be a hot wife for my husband.  More importantly, I want to love (or at least like) my body again.  If only I could go back and slap myself and appreciate my body back when I "thought" I was fat.  I love that my body grew and birthed three babies - they are my miracles.  The aftermath is not so pretty.  I have battle scars and "twin skin."  I can wear some of my old jeans, but they're not the most comfortable because of the extra skin. 

I NEVER considered myself a runner and I never really enjoyed it (even when I was on the cross country team in high school).  Now, I look forward to it.  Running gives me confidence in myself and makes me physically and emotionally stronger.  After a day of working and taking care of babies, it is 30 minutes of me time and whatever music I want to listen to.  I can pound it out on the pavement and just be.  Some days, I think about a lot of different stuff and other days, I just focus on my breathing and putting one foot in front of the other.  Afterwards, I may be sore and sweaty, but I am so proud of myself. 

I leave you with this, even if it's just five minutes, take some time for yourself.  A brisk walk around the block, a few sit ups with a baby on your belly.  I promise you - you won't regret it! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

I See London, I See France

Clearly, Hayden doesn't have enough underwear.

My Grandma Water had this crazy need to have an insane amount of underwear in her dresser at all times.  I'm not talking about a little drawer full.  Oh no, she had one of those LARGE dresser drawers (the ones that hold your shorts or t-shirts) completely full of underwear, some even new in the package.  It stemmed from her childhood and only having two pairs.  She would have to wait while her underwear was washed and dried.  She talked about in the winter it having to dry on the wood burning stove door and having to put on damp underwear.  Talk about freezing your buns off!

We used to tease her incessantly about it.  Pretty much every time she went to Wal-Mart, she came back with a new package of white Hanes underwear.  She always bought the same kind.  As she got older and didn't go to the store as often, my mom and I would buy her some to make sure her stock was never depleted.  When she went to Heaven, we were able to donate (no joke) probably 20 new packages of underwear to charity. 

My Mom has this theory that whatever you think didn't have enough of as a child, you make up for when you're an adult.  For my Grandma, it was underwear.  For Chip, it's tennis shoes (he had plenty as a child, he just has a completely excessive amount now.  I counted them, he has twenty one pairs right now in our closet of just tennis shoes).  One of my friends was only allowed one box of name brand cereal a year, on her birthday.  If you look in her pantry now, she has at least five different boxes of kid cereal.

Evidently, some quirks/obsessions are genetic.  Hayden has a drawer full of underwear.  At first, he needed a larger size so we bought a few packages.   Then, he was dry at night so he got to pick some out.  After that, he wanted some boxer briefs "like Daddy" so we added some variety.  He loved that all of his underwear has a "pee pee flap" like Daddy's and that they are all 4T (he recently moved up a size in shirts and pants, so he now checks the sizes on EVERYTHING he wears to make sure that they are a 4T or bigger).  Then, we went to the new Sam's Club with my parents on Saturday.  He "needed" new underwear, as he didn't have "that kind" of Disney ones or the turtle (Teenage Mutant - which he has never even seen) ones.  My parents are like any grandparent and indulged his wishes - so we can home with 16 pairs of new underwear.  Not counting what's in the dirty clothes (and he changes his underwear twice a day), he has 61 pairs.  That is INSANE!  The good news is - he won't run out anytime soon and Dawson can wear them one day.

I know that right now, my Grandma Water is in Heaven just smiling from ear to ear about this story.  If she were here, I can guarantee you that she would be buying Hayden more underwear- just to tease me.  Around here, Santa puts socks and underwear in the stockings.  Looks like he better buy the next size up!  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mind Your P's and Q's

My Grandma Water was the epitome of a Texas lady.  She always had a pitcher of sweet tea on hand with fresh baked cookies cooling on a baking rack.  She was quick with a kind word and you did exactly what was asked of you by her.  I have so many fond memories of helping her bake, learning to sew, feeding horses, visiting folk (as she called it), helping others and, best of all, just sitting in her lap (even at the age of 22). 

She insisted upon good manners and my goal was always to make her proud of me.  I can remember one rainy night when I was young stopping at a nice restaurant, just the two of us.  I tried so hard the entire meal to use good etiquette and have perfect manners.  I ate with one hand in my lap, cut and ate one bite of meat at a time, chewed with my mouth closed, and put my napkin in the proper place when I excused myself to use the restroom.  She didn't say anything about my manners the entire meal and I felt so deflated as we walked to the car.  Wasn't she proud of me?  Did I do something to disappoint her?  As she slid into the drivers seat, she turned and looked at me and said, "Lucia, honey, I was so impressed at dinner!  You are such a lovely young lady with amazing manners.  I am so proud that you are my granddaughter and to know that I can trust you to mind your p's and q's."  She then pulled me in for a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.  I'm pretty sure my cheeks hurt from smiling so much at what she said and I walked on cloud nine for days. 

I am my Grandma's granddaughter and have the same love for etiquette and manners that she had (although she would be appalled that I have yet to send thank you notes from our Texas Sip & See... the twins have kept us busy and I promise to one day soon write and  mail them).  I could read Miss Manners or Emily Post books for hours - for fun!  I work to instill the same social graces that my Grandma taught me in our kids.  I feel like a broken record sometimes and I hope what I say and what I do "sticks."  Well, as my Grandma would say, the proof is in the pudding.

I am thrilled to say that Hayden has wonderful manners 98% of the time.  It makes my heart so happy when he asks (without prompting) for something by saying "Mommy, May I please..." and then says, "Thank you, Mommy, for..."  He asks to be excused from the table.  He says "Pardon Me" when he passes gas or burps.  It makes me so very proud of him and I tell him that every day.  I can see that he is trying so hard to please us and I know that he has a servant's heart.

Last night Hayden hit a ball over the fence and he, Dawson, and Chip went to go get it.  I heard them talking and took Ansley with me to see who they were chatting with.  Hayden was playing with our neighbors boy/girl 3.5 year old twins that live across from us on the side street (we live on a corner lot).  They were having so much fun!  As all the parents chatted, the kids played soccer and chased one another.  When it was time to go home, our neighbor starting picking up some of the toys and putting them in the garage.  I was so proud when Hayden picked up some bouncy ball ride on thing and carried it to our neighbor without anyone asking.  He may be sporting a Mohawk right now, however, he is still sweet and kind.  Don't let the tough hair fool you!

As we walked back home holding hands, I thought to myself, "I know Grandma Water is looking down from her rocking chair in Heaven just loving this moment."  She had a soft spot for her granddaughters,  but I have a feeling a certain little boy would make her melt too. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Days are Long & the Years are Short

I don't think that there is anything that makes you feel more helpless as a parent than being unable to help/comfort/soothe your child.  We went through so many months and doctors visits with Hayden for his ears (which lead to his first set of tubes at seven months with a second set of tubes & removal of his adenoid and tonsils at 21 months).  Unfortunately, Dawson is built very much like his brother. 

You forget how hard it is until you have a baby who is screaming in pain for hours on end and NOTHING you do helps.  Walking, bouncing, bottle, food, gas drops, lullabies, pacis, a swaddle, wearing him, rocking, standing ,Tylenol, gripe water... nothing helps and he just suddenly collapses on your chest doing that hiccup from crying in a little heap.  It's heartbreaking and frustrating.  Two months ago we went through three different antibiotics and finally ended up with three antibiotic shots (all during the week that Chip was out of town, our A/C went out, and I was swamped at work - because OF COURSE).  Dawson went to the doctor AGAIN when Chip was out of town and got a really strong antibiotic that helped his last ear infection from a few weeks ago.  No bueno.  We took him back on Friday (after he cried for 4 & 5 hours Wednesday and Thursday night - apparently, I'm still figuring out this parenting gig) and he got a shot.  He is still in so much pain (although it's better) and we go back for the twins well visits tomorrow (with a side visit for Hayden to get his flu vaccine).  The twins six month hearing check is on Tuesday at the ENT and I have a feeling that tubes will follow very shortly thereafter.

Our poor buddy - he scratches his face, ears and head because he's in so much agony.  Baths are torture because if the tiniest drop gets in his ear - it's over.  He loves to kick in the bath, but it's hard to explain  to a six month old not to kick so hard they get water on their face and possibly ear.  For some reason, he doesn't get it.  :)  He has an eczema patch on his cheek that flares red when he doesn't feel well.   It just breaks my heart! 

Right now, we have his pain under control with Tylenol and some garlic ear drops our pediatrician recommended.  My heart just breaks and I feel guilty that I can't give Ansley and Hayden as much attention because Dawson doesn't feel well.  A mother's guilt never ends, right?  I do know that I would walk across fire to take away my children's pain - I wish I could make it all better.  Since I can't, I do the best I can and am an advocate for my children.  I may have no backbone when it comes to standing up for myself, but I do for my kids.  They make me a better person, even when (or especially when) they're sick...