Finding calm in the chaos

Finding calm in the chaos

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Happy 8th Birthday, Sam!

 Dear Sam,
Eight years ago, your dad, Grandma and I checked into the hospital where I insisted I would not be leaving unless it was with a baby. A hard labor later, you were born that evening and your dad and I held you in our arms and fell in love with you.

We have watched you grow from a happy, energetic little boy into a wonderful big brother. You are pretty patient with Natalie and Henry and dote on Beatrice and Cecelia. Henry delights in wrestling with you and you usually appease him with a piggy back or tickle match.

Although you enjoy a good fart joke just like anybody else, you have an insightful mind beyond your years. Dad and I often wonder what the future holds for you as you are a sensitive, empathetic kid.
 You're a hard worker and love to learn new things. Reading has been a challenge and you have worked hard this year to become proficient...and even read at Mass last week! You built a "Sam-a-phone" for your music unit and really enjoyed working in the shop with Dad, measuring and cutting all those tubes. (Your Dad enjoyed the project as much--or more--than you did). You threw yourself into your recent entomology unit and we spent every dinner table conversation learning about bug anatomy. Legos continue to be your favorite pasttime...and Mythbusters because you love the experiments.

You are quick to help me with babies or household chores whenever I ask. You tend to be a big picture guy, linking ideas and concepts that others miss, but tend to overlook details. Your grandma describes your dad as an "absent-minded professor" type and I see a lot of those same traits in you.

Dad and I are so proud of you, Sam, and our family is richly blessed by having you as our oldest. We can't wait to see what the next year brings.

Mom and Dad

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Happy 3rd birthday, Henry!

Dear Henry,

The last three years have whizzed by in a blur. You have grown from our giant happy baby into a busy, happy boy child. The family that sits behind us at church has nicknamed you "Action Hank" because you delight in trying to make a break for the altar every time we go to Mass. Your tired mother is often seen hoisting you up off the stairs with one arm, with one of your baby sisters nestled in the other. However, your antics are undertaken with such joy, they charm us most of the time. Your grandma summed you up best, saying that you are generous with your dimpled smile, which we see often whether you are engaged in mischief, hugging your siblings, or watching the garbage truck out the window.

Your passions include Dusty Crophopper, Lightning McQueen, your lion, penguin, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You are on the cusp of being "a big kid", sleeping in a bed, sharing a room with your sister Natalie, and toying with the idea of potty training.

Your favorite foods include cucumbers, gogurts , cheese sticks and chocolate milk. Often, you will eat an entire cucumber by yourself. You don't like most treats. You sampled nearly all of your Halloween candy and found it disgusting. However, there is no stopping you when it comes to fruit snacks.

You have become a big brother this year and we have been so proud in the way you have adjusted to your new role. You are very loving toward the babies and are able to coax a smile out of them, even when they are grouchy. Even though they look so different, you call them both Beatrice most of the time. I don't think Cecelia  minds too much.

You blessed our family with endless joy. It is fun to start hearing the thoughts that whir around in your little bright mind all day. We can't wait to see what the next year brings.

Love, mom and dad

Monday, February 22, 2016

Stuff my kid says

Henry: My little pillow gave me a BIG sleep!

He keeps getting out of bed so Joe, late one night, threatened to spank him. Last night, I found him wandering in the hallway, unable to sleep. He said, "mom, I need a spank. "

He got a hug instead and I turned him around to walk back to bed. 

Monday, February 08, 2016

Happy 6th birthday, Natalie!

 Dear Natalie,

Today, you celebrate your sixth birthday. Both Dad and I marvel at how the time has flown. It seems like just a short time ago we were surprised to discover we had a a baby girl. Now you have grown into a fabulous kindergartner.

Probably the biggest milestone of your sixth year has been starting school. You have relished everything about kindergarten. You   were especially eager to start school and, one day last spring, taught your self to read, determined to do everything your big brother Sam could do... and try to do it better! Your teacher struggles to keep ahead of you as you love everything having to do with reading and writing. We bought you stationary and envelopes for Christmas and you spent the day writing letters to all of your friends and family.

The other big milestone of the year was becoming a big sister to your two little sisters. Having practiced on Henry, we have seen you grow in generosity and selflessness to your younger siblings. You patiently play with Henry and dote on your little sisters, spending time cooing and talking and waving rattles to Beatrice and Cecelia.

 You love everything about them...except Beatrice's frequent spitting up. One night before bed, Beatrice spit up in your hair. You were disgusted and demanded a bath. Your tired mother refused your request and told you to "solve your own problem". You took matters into your own hands and cut off that piece of hair. Your cute new set of bangs is a result of that "solution".

You continue to be a determined, strong willed girl and we have grown to appreciate these qualities in you. Life is unpleasant for all of us when you are unhappy, but we have all breathed a sigh relief as you seem to be able to cope with life's ups and downs... and bedtime a bit better.

We are proud of the smart, sassy, wonderful girl you are growing up to be. We love you very much.


Mom and Dad

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Stuff my kid says

Henry: one baby crying! Her needs her mom!
Joe: did it ever occur to you she might need her dad?
Henry: no.

So, I went to nurse Cecelia. She instantly stopped crying. 
Me: she was hungry hippo!
Henry: no, mom. Her not a hippo. Her a baby.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Cecelia and Beatrice's birth story September 30 2015

This birth story actually starts over a year ago, when Joe and I were helping on an Engaged Encounter retreat and I felt a tug on my heart that we weren't done having children. After Henry's difficult pregnancy, we both decided to table the idea for awhile, but around the same time, Natalie began to add prayers for a baby sister to her nighttime ritual.

For a year.

So, the moral of this story is pray faithfully and God will answer...times two.

Although I continued to be a large and uncomfortable pregnant woman with this pregnancy, I actually felt the best I'd ever felt while pregnant. I didn't run or exercise for fear of preterm labor (ha! maybe I should have!) but ate very healthily due to my gestational diabetes. I started to get antsy for labor to start around 34 weeks when I knew we could have the twins locally...and my maternity leave was due to start.
36 weeks pregnant. Total weight gain 49 lbs! (Still gained more with Henry and Sam :).

My antsy-ness turned into a general crabbiness and pity party as week 34 and week 35 passed without any sign of labor. The supermoon eclipse was scheduled for Sunday, September 26 and--as all nurses know--weird things happen with a full moon, so I was sure I would go into labor. Joe and I worked through about 4 hours of contractions and called Lala to come stay the night...then the contractions stopped.

I saw Dr. Berg the next day as scheduled and was dilated to 5cm, which was encouraging...although I knew I'd been stuck at 6cm with Henry for 3 weeks last time! So, Tuesday, September 28, Henry and I dropped off Sam and Natalie at school, lugged in a case of wine for the school auction, and headed to the office to do a little bit of work and see a last minute patient.

As soon as I wrapped up with the patient around 10:30am, I began having mild, regular contractions every 10 minutes. I called to get in for my nonstress test, but every labor and delivery bed was full, so they told me to call back later that afternoon. Henry and I went home for lunch and a nap, but the contractions continued and I had Joe come home to help with Henry while I baked some muffins to take my mind off the contractions, which continued to be mild. Ultimately, around 2pm, I loaded up Henry and we went to the hospital to see what was going on.

Joe met us there and we had a nonstress test and were dilated to a 5 1/2cm. Slow going, but not uncomfortable, we walked around for awhile. The ultrasound at the hospital unfortunately showed that Luke was now breech, but Dr. Berg still felt like we could have a trial of labor and attempt a breech extraction.

An hour or two later, we were dilated to a 6cm. Slow, slow, slow...but progress. We decided we'd feel best about staying at the hospital rather than going home and we were admitted. Nicole, our fabulous doula, came over at that point and Christina, fabulous sister-in-law, also joined the labor party.

They all took turns walking with me. Nicole suggested I do some belly lifts with each contractions. The contractions weren't uncomfortable, but I did not like those belly lifts! Nevertheless, they seemed to work and we continued to make slow and steady progress. We tried the breast pump to make the contractions stronger, which seemed to help a little.

At 7 1/2 cm (somewhere around 9-10pm), our nurse, Sam, thought we needed to do continuous fetal monitoring, which proved tedious and cumbersome. One baby or the other would continue to disappear off the monitor and I'd spend what seemed like forever in bed while she fiddled with the monitor, chasing the rogue baby down. Contractions weren't as productive when I was in bed, but they also couldn't get two telemetry monitors to work, so we were moved to a bigger room and I stuck pretty close to the bed for the remainder of labor.

Contractions began to get stronger and more uncomfortable, especially in my back. Nicole, Teenie, and Joe took turns doing the double hip squeeze as I breathed through them. At some point, Mom and Dan stopped by to say hi, but I couldn't really focus on conversation at that point. Contractions got stronger, but I couldn't get beyond 8-8 1/2 cm. There wasn't any plan to break my water or doing anything different until morning and I wasn't sure how much longer I could cope with these contractions, so we got an epidural, which worked really well. We were all able to get some rest for a few hours in the early morning, but, of course, laying in bed with a numb body, labor seemed to plateau. Teenie had to go home to take her kids to school and I was sorry that after all of her helping with labor, she didn't get to meet these babies yet.

Dr. Berg came and broke my water in the morning and I was sure we'd be meeting our two babies soon. Every time I've had my water broken, the contractions have gotten much stronger and productive.

Not in this case.

And I was numb from the epidural, which made me feel restless. Joe and Nicole took turns rubbing my legs to help with pins and needles feeling. A while later, Leryn (day shift nurse) came in with Dr. Berg so I could try pushing...but I was so numb, I couldn't push effectively. I had a crisis of confidence and started crying. Was this labor ever going to be over?

Pitocin was started and the epidural was turned down. I began to feel the contractions. Nicole had me sit up in bed to put more pressure on my cervix for awhile. Then we tried the peanut ball (which is a birthing ball shaped like a peanut) to open up my hips with contractions.

All of a sudden...I needed to push.

I needed to push NOW.

Except Dr. Berg wasn't there yet. Breathing through pushing urges was one of the HARDEST things I've done. Someone said Dr. Berg would be here soon and I remember saying "No, she won't! I heard you say she just got in her car!" It seemed like an eternity.
Cecelia crying; Bea on the right

Proud dad--TWO daughters
We'd planned that the twins would be born in the OR so if emergency C-section was needed everything would be ready. However, there'd been an emergency C-section right before this and the OR wasn't cleaned yet. I, for one, was thankful. I couldn't imagine pushing on that little OR table. Nurses bustled around my room setting up trays and warmers...and finally, Dr. Berg arrived. I rolled over and announced I was going to start pushing now. I had an incredible pain in my left thigh and Nicole applied pressure throughout pushing, which helped immensely.

Four pushes later, Cecelia Janice was born, weighing 7lbs, 6oz at 2:58pm. She is named after Cecelia (patron saint of music) and Janice, my grandma.

They laid her on my chest immediately and she began crying. She wanted to nurse, but we had another baby to deliver! Before I knew what was happening, Dr Berg had broken my water and reached up to grab Luke, who was breech. It was a crazy, intense, painful sensation and I was glad to have Cecelia on my chest to distract me. After a bit, I felt like they were shoving the baby back up into my uterus. Ugh!

Dr Berg then announced we were going to have to proceed with a C-section to get Luke out. I wanted Joe to be able to stay with Cecelia and thought Nicole would be coming with me to the OR, but at the last minute, Nicole was told it was against policy for her to come in. Luke seemed to be doing well on the monitor, so there was time to give me a spinal instead of having to have general anesthesia and I was grateful for that.

So far, I'd felt like I'd experienced every single kind of birth experience someone could have. The C-section was by far the WORST part of the birth experience and I was grateful that all attempts to avoid one had been made. Luke was delivered, but was difficult to get out. The baby was breech with one leg down and the other leg up over the head. Aside from the hip being sort of dislocated on delivery, baby B tolerated C-section fairly well. I'd hoped for them to lay her on my chest while they closed, but when they showed me her I felt so sick and felt so much abdominal pressure, it was all I could do to look at her and say hi. Baby B, whom we would later decide to name Beatrice Amy after St. Beatrice and my sister, weighed 6lbs 3 oz and was born at 3:39pm.

Joe went with Beatrice to the nursery and Nicole was able to come in. My shoulders and neck ached for some reason and she rubbed them while they finished up surgery. Postoperative recovery was uneventful, but I was exhausted. I'd lost some blood and required a transfusion. I was surprised at how long it took me to bounce back (I guess I'm still working on bouncing back, honestly) and how much my belly hurt after a C-section. If I had to do it over again, I still would have made the same choices in the hopes of trying to avoid a C-section.

Big sister Natalie holding Bea
Sam, a pro by now, holding Bea
Big brother Henry holding Cecelia with mom helping
Several of the nurses asked if I was disappointed about how the births went and I can honestly say no. I was comfortable for much of labor and we birthed two beautiful healthy babies.

What a miracle.

It wasn't what Joe and I planned or how I had hoped it would have turned out, but I am so thankful that we all came out relatively unscathed. The twins needed zero NICU/special care and aside from my own slow recovery, we are all doing well. I have a great teammate and labor partner in my husband, a dedicated sister in law who stayed up all night laboring with me, and a fabulous doula who will always hold a special place in our family's heart to share this experience with...and two beautiful daughters to add to our family.

What a gift.
The best part about having a twin is always having a teammate. Cecelia left, Bea right

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Like a turtle on its back

Well, we have hit 35 weeks and 2 days and, frankly, I wish these guys would hurry up and get the heck out. My belly measures 47 1/2 inches around and my fundal height is 46 cm.

That's like being 46 weeks pregnant, folks.

Technically, my maternity leave starts Monday at 4:30pm, so it would be most convenient to go into labor at 4:31pm, but I am so huge and uncomfortable giving birth YESTERDAY would have been my choice.

Today, I tried to cope with my back, hip, neck pain/Braxton-hicks/cankles by taking a nap when Henry went down for one. Of course, as soon as I dozed off, Henry started to cry. Joe was out running errands so I actually had to do some hands-on mothering instead of my usual delegation. ("Hey, since you knocked me up with TWINS, why don't you get your son/let out the dog/rub my back/bring me a snack?)

Mid-nap Henry is a force to be reckoned with and I approached the crib with all the caution of a hostage negotiator. Fortunately, he was clear in his demands and I was happy to get him some milk and lay down on the bottom bunk bed until he fell asleep. Maybe we'd both get a nap.

Henry fell quickly back to sleep and I tried to get comfortable amongst Natalie's hoard of tiny pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, notebooks and pencils. Finally, I was able to roll on my side and wedge a few pillows around my large body for support.

Except then I didn't have enough room to turn back over.

I was facing the wall without anything to grab onto and didn't have enough headroom to sit up or move without squishing my large belly.

No worries....I'd just text Joe to come help me.

Except my phone was out of reach...behind me.

I was stuck. Like a turtle on its back. Like a beached whale. Like a pregnant mother of giant twins.

I wish these babies would just get OUT already!

Fortunately, Sam and Natalie started wondering where I was and sounded the alarm when Joe got home. He was able to extricate me from my cozy little nap den without having to break out the Jaws of Life...and without awakening Henry. He's a pro, that guy.

Crossing our fingers that labor will start soon.