My 365

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mom's Day

I know they mean well.  I know the kids get excited to have mom come see what they do in school and see their friends and their teacher and that rock they kicked two weeks ago on the southeast corner of the playground.  I get it.  But if I can sound ungrateful for just a moment...I dread these things.  Especially now that I have to tote around two babies with me, things like this don't sound appealing, they make me tired the minute I hear about them.  But I go, I put on my happy face, I drag the babies out the car for the third time that day because I also worked earlier, I schlep the heavy double stroller up the hill and around the bend because I got there late (go figure) and parking was non-existent.  I squeeze my way through the door (sideways because double strollers don't fit through doorways like they CLAIM) and I find my child, wound up and whiny (nothing really new there).  There are a TON of people there with their blankets already spread out to cuddle up and watch the movie.  We have to sit behind a coat rack because, once again, the "lightweight" and "portable" 40 lb monstrosity won't fit anywhere else. Fine, whatever, I wasn't planning on watching the movie anyway, no one could hear it either.  They have pizza for the kids and I never really know if there is any for the adults at these things so I packed some snacks for myself because I've been burned before and I am just about as much fun when I'm hungry as I am when I'm hot.  After about an hour, I'm done.  Gabe's getting whiny and the babies are starting to stir. Time to go. We begin the 30 minute process of getting ready to leave and we go to get his backpack and Friday folder and there is a little gift underneath.  A goofy picture of Gabe and one of those questionnaire thingys where they ask the kids questions about their mom/dad.  I love these things, his answers are always so cute.  So I will now share what he said.  His answer to the questions will be in italics, my remarks in parenthesis.

All About Mom

Her name is Melanie but daddy calls her Mom.  She is 16 years old and weighs 17 pounds (way to make up for the "do you still have a baby in your tummy" comment).  The best thing she cooks is cookies (Tollhouse hasn't failed me yet). She likes to eat eggs (he likes to eat eggs, he likes it when I cook him eggs) and she drinks milk (probably should, but not really)We like to hug together (awwww, I do like to force hugs on him constantly against his will).  My mom is scared of nothing (except for spiders...and sharks...hate sharks, oh and ghosts, and the dark, and being alone...why don't we just say I live in fear).  Her favorite place to shop is the grocery store (no, that would just be the place I shop most often).  She likes to watch grown-up channels on TV (not like "adult" channels, as in channels that do not have cartoons...jeez).  I love my mom because I love her so much (back at ya, buddy). Love, Gabriel

He may make me want to ram my head through a brick wall on a daily basis, but I really love that kid. :)

It's a crappy cell phone picture, but here's me and my main man at Mom's Day

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Weekly Update

Ok, so actually it's more like a quarterly update, but I'm gonna go with optimism on this one.  I may eventually get to a weekly update.

So the girls have had a couple of doctor's appointments, at their two month appointment they were both around 8 pounds, Lily bigger by a few ounces.  At their 4 month appointment Lily was 13 pounds (chunk!) and Rosie was pulling up the rear at a little over 12 pounds.  They are both in the lower end of their percentiles, and I still, after 4 kids, have really no idea what those percentiles mean, but they tell you at the doctor's office so I try to remember.  Lily continues to be slightly bigger than Rosie and for a little while there was ahead with her development as well. I don't know why, Rosie just seemed to be more laid back, getting to it when she darn well felt like it.  Lily was first to smile, laugh, talk and coo and she was also the first one to start trying to roll over.  She almost had it too! But Rosie came up from behind and passed up Lily by rolling over with flourish, even though it doesn't seem like she likes it too much, even now.  Lily finally started rolling over about 2 days after Rosie did, but she certainly doesn't do it as much.  I've tried to catch her doing it on video, but she's like a deer in headlights when I turn on the camera and refuses to roll.  As soon as you set Rosie down on the floor she rolls over, then acts all mad that she rolled over, so I put her over on her back and she acts mad that she's on her back again and rolls over.  Oy, a sign of things to come, I think.  Rosie also kind of took over the reigns with the talking.  Lily is more choosy now when she wants to talk, mostly because once Rosie found her voice, she hasn't really stopped.  Lily is now starting to move ahead with her hand/eye coordination, she's starting to grab for objects and alas, put them in her mouth, along with both her hands and I'm sure, eventually, a foot.

For two babies that shared a womb, born at the same time (15 minutes apart) they sure are different, right down to their poop (if you're offended by poop, then we can't be friends :)).  But I will get into that more in their individual personality posts.  For now, that should catch us up on development.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Baby Story Part Duex (Lily's Story)

So as mentioned in the previous baby story post.  During my pregnancy we found a problem with Lily.  She was retaining too much fluid in her sac, which could be result of several different issues, but as advanced as medical technology is, it still has limitations and we didn't know for sure.  The answer we were given at first was "sometimes it just happens".  After a few more ultrasounds the doctors discovered that the cause of the additional fluid was due to her intestine being blocked because it was narrowed and underdeveloped, officially called a jujenal atresia.  What this meant was she would require surgery as soon as she was born.  All the doctors up to this point were very careful not to alarm us and said that it should be a relatively easy fix.  We consulted with the maternal fetal doctor, the NICU doctor and finally we went to consult with the pediatric surgeon who would be actually performing the surgery.  He said all the same things, walked us through the prep and time after delivery.  Then he started talking about the possibilities of complications they could encounter.  The one risk he said was very rare but also a possibility so he was obligated to share it with us.  He said that they could get in there to repair the blockage and find that there were no intestines past that point and then there would be nothing they could do.  And there it was.  The thing I had not allowed myself to think about, the thing all the other doctors were very careful not to mention, but now there it is, staring me in the face as hard as I was staring at a glass apple sitting on the table of a small conference room in a nondescript doctors office.  Mike told me on the way home that I looked like I had been punched in the stomach.  It felt like it.  I didn't know what to do with this information.  He said it was unlikely but still there, lurking in the back of my mind.  What if I had lost her before I even got a chance to have her?  How could I live with that?  How could I survive to be a mother to the other children who needed me, including her twin?  I took this information and did what I do best and I worried.  I internalized it, pretended to happy and felt a sick dread with every passing minute.  I prayed for her, I asked my grandmother to hold her and watch over her and protect her.  I knew, deep down, that everything was going to be ok, but until it was over I was never going to be completely sure.

So fast forward to the delivery.  She was born and she and Rosie were perfect.  I got to say hello to them and then they were whisked away to the NICU.  Because she couldn't eat Lily was immediately hooked up to and IV giving her vitamins and nutrition.  So it was a few hours before I was able to go back and see them.  They wheeled me back to the NICU and they had the girls in two separate rooms.  We saw Lily first.  She was still messy from the birth, had her leg splinted with the IV and a tube down her throat.  I have never wanted an image out of my head so badly, until later that it is, when I saw her after surgery. They let me hold her.  It took several minutes and a nurse to move all the lines and tubes before I could hold my baby.  I couldn't just pick her up. I talked to her for a second, then hummed to her, then just held her and kissed her head.  Then is was time to go see Rosie and I was pretty worn out at this point so they wheeled me back to the room.  The next day (Friday) they were taking her to Children's Hospital at Scottish Rite for her surgery on Saturday. Mike had spent some of the night in the NICU with the girls and they took me back in there to see her that morning before they prepped her to go.  This time I fought back tears, and I quietly sang to her.  I sang the song from Three Men and a Baby, "goodnight sweetheart, well, it's time to go, I hate to leave you but I really can't stay, goodnight sweetheart, goodnight." They brought her in one more time before she was going to be transported.  She was all bundled up and riding around in a high tech crib.  I said goodbye and she was on her way.  At this point I have held her once. Once. Mike was already at the hospital waiting for her to get there, so I was left by myself with my worry.  Later that day they decided Rosie was doing well enough that she could be brought into my room with me.  I think they were partially doing this so I wouldn't focus on Lily and the worry so much.  So I gave Rosie all the cuddles I had for Lily and her and waited to hear from Mike, from the doctor, for something.  Mike was going back and forth from Children's, to the hospital I was in and to the house to check on the kids.  He was on zero sleep for three days straight.  But since I couldn't be with Lily I was happy he was.  I didn't want her to be alone.  The night before her surgery he held her for 2 hours, the entire time they would allow him to be with her, he held her, just in case that was the only time.  So morning came, the surgery started and they told me it was only supposed to take two hours, which came and went, and I was beginning to worry but finally Mike called and said everything was fine.  Sigh of relief. Huge sigh.

Now began the recovery, at least two weeks in the hospital.  They had to put what they called a PIC line in her head which is what they used to give her medicine and nutrition and she still had the tube down her throat which was being used to remove all the bile and stuff from her stomach. So finally on Sunday they were going to let me and Rosie come home.  It took FOREVER to get discharged but it happened and we were home by the evening.  So of course first thing Monday morning Mike knew that there would be no stopping me from going to see Lily, so we packed up Rosie and made the 1 hour trek to the children's hospital, the drive that he had been making every day.  Once we got there, Mike tried to find me a wheel chair since I was still recovering, in pain and as you know from my previous post, had no core muscles whatsoever and therefore had a hard time standing up straight and walking.  However there were no wheelchairs to be found to fit a person over the age of 6, so walking it was.  I just wish it hadn't been such a LONG walk, but nothing would have stopped me.  We finally get up there, and only one of us could go in at a time because Rosie wasn't allowed to go into the NICU.  So I had to walk in by myself.  I had to call in to a nurse to open the doors for me.  I had to wash my hands and sanitize.  Then the second set of doors opened and I walked into a large room with beds sectioned off in groups of four in a star pattern.  Almost like cubicles only with little plastic baby beds.  The beeping was constant and annoying.  I couldn't imagine all these tiny babies trying to sleep with that noise.  I walked all the way to the back of the room where she was.  When I saw her I couldn't hold it back any longer and I just started crying, the hard kind of crying, with snot everywhere.  The nurse looked horrified and tried to reassure me she was fine, which technically I knew, but nothing ever prepares you to see your baby laying there peacefully with machines and tubes and wires and the beeping, not being able to hold her, not being able to take it all away.  That's what a mother is supposed to do right? Take away the pain and the fear? The guilt was overwhelming.  I couldn't breathe and it didn't go away for a very long time.  The guilt that I wasn't with her at all times, the guilt of having done this to her (I didn't say it was all logical), the guilt of having to leave every day, the guilt of being able to nurse Rosie but not her.  It went on like this for two weeks.  I saw her almost every day. I held her as much as I could.  I pumped milk for her so she could start eating...and she did!  After a minor set back where she had some bleeding in her stomach and needed a transfusion (another SUPER fun day), she was able to try and start eating.  She hadn't been allowed to eat since she was born and I was terrified she wouldn't be able to get the hang of it.  But she ate her bottles with vigor and she wanted more!  So finally they let me try to nurse her and warned me that it may take time and work, but when we went to do it, she got right to it and nursed like a champ.  That's my girl...we know how to eat!  This was just another step towards her coming home.  She continued to thrive and two weeks on the dot we were able to bring her home.  But the guilt didn't go away.  This time the guilt was for the other babies who couldn't come home.  One family we got to know had a baby who was VERY premature and had a lot of health problems, she had been there for 3 months and were suffering a big setback.  We weren't sure if she was every going to get to come home.  So many babies in there, all for different reasons, but all precious.  My heart goes out to those parents and the ones who are and will be in the same position.  I may have only had to endure it for a little while, but that was enough.  The people at that hospital are amazing and special people who have an unimaginably hard job. I took me a while to get this post up because I was dreading having to relive these feelings.  So now it is done, and it won't stare me in the face anymore.  Now I can look over at her sweet sleeping face with her little bare feet sticking out of the covers and know that I will be able to hold her whenever I want and feed her without inhibition and love her and Rosie unconditionally.  Speaking of, she is beginning to honk at me, must be time for the midnight snack.
Lily hours after she was born

Rosie after she was moved to the room with me

Lily recovering from surgery being held by Mimi
Lily's first night home and their first time seeing each other since birth

Friday, April 5, 2013

Body Image

So while I'm working on my next baby story post, I figured I would share something that is on my mind alomst constantly.  Body image, especially post baby (or babies in my case) body image. 

Now I've never had a great opinion of my body, but I can say that in the last few years I've become much more accepting of the body I have and just try to focus on being somewhat healthy and all the way happy.  However, having said that, pregnancy does strange, horrifying and wonderful things to your body.  The pregnancy part I usually love.  I love finally being proud of my protruding belly and being able to wear almost anything I want and not worrying if it makes me look fat...because I'm already there with good reason!!  I'm just talking about the superficial parts of pregnancy.  I can tell you being pregnant with twins is a whole different ball game, on a different playing field in a foreign country.  This was the first pregnancy I did not enjoy.  There was double everything, including hormones, morning sickness, mood swings, stretch marks and pain, just to name a few.  But once that was all over and I had these two beautiful babies to love I was left with a body that was just foreign to me.  I was so happy to not be pregnant anymore that for the first month or so, I didn't care what I looked like.  But then I started to notice more and more the changed landscape every time I put on my old clothes and nothing fit or looked right.  The last few months of pregnancy being spent on modified bed rest means my normal activity level pretty much stopped and as a result whatever muscle tone I had quickly disappeared into a jiggly mess.  Not fun.  I actually lost weight during the pregnancy but everything looked so different and was in a different place so it was hard to tell.  Then of course the hardest hit area was the tummy,  I still look pregnant and can pick up what's left of my stomach in both hands and knead it like bread, oh yeah it's like that.  The other day Gabe asked me if I had another baby in my tummy.  Out of the mouths of babes right?  So there's a lot to get used to after having babies.  Something that's never happened before was something called diastis recti, which is where the six pack muscles in your stomach split apart allowing your "innards" to poke out when you do a crunch (which is not recommended for peeps with the diastis btw).  It's what's causing my stomach to stick out like I'm still preggo it's also the cause of a lot of other problems like back pain because until the muscles are repaired you basically have no core supporting you.  I remember having a really hard time standing upright and breathing right after the girls were born because my core, my entire support system was blown out (among other things).  Basically, it's freakin' traumatizing!

So after all that you would think a body like mine would be more socially accepted.  I mean did you read some of the things that happen to your body?  But as I sit here typing this I'm listening to an entertainment reporter discuss the best post baby celebrity bodies...I'm not even kidding.  Uhg.  Really people??  Let me tell you, those women and celebrities who seem to bounce right back are the absolute exception to the rule and/or the result of an expensive team of coaches.  Normal people, the majority of people, don't look like that after having a baby so the comparisons stop there.  I could diet and exercise to get back to where I was, but I'm breastfeeding and knowing from past experience if I start exercising I will lose my milk, and quite frankly my babies need that milk, so what's the rush?  I will get there eventually but why does it have to be a race to see who looks best post baby the fastest?  You know what?  I have created, sustained, birthed and nurtured 4 precious lives with this body, the last two at the same time!  The squishy stomach, the stretch marks, the sagging are now going to be looked at as reminders of freakin' awesome I am!  They are badges of honor.  Right now, my body is not really my own, so I will leave it on loan for now.  I will get it back some day and when I do it will be for me and no one else.  It's time to embrace it and not berate it.  It helps that I'm lucky enough to be married to a man who truly loves me just the way I am, and it's only taken me eight years to finally believe him when he said that.  Time well spent :) you SEE that?? And that was about a MONTH before I delivered, yes, it got bigger

About two weeks after they were home. Like popping a balloon.