Thursday, February 28, 2013

My 7th Little Thing

Recap: Click here and scroll to the bottom for a recap of last week. Updates are in red.

Week 7: Asking for what I need

I am having a c-section with the twins. I know this is not earth shattering for most people; I get it. This will be my 3rd c-section.  I am so hard core natural, un-medicated, straight-out-the-vagina birth that I cannot begin to explain how I have never had a natural, un-medicated, any-kid-near-coming-out-my-vagina birth.

I am not just giving up the risks of a vaginal delivery but taking on the risks of a c-section, a 3rd c-section. It’s not a small decision.  After reading this article, I remembered other reasons why I have always been for the body doing what it needs to do unencumbered by medical practices as much as possible. It’s better for babies in most cases to start life by shooting through the tunnel containing the light at the end.  It’s not a mistake that God made our bodies the way He did.

All that being said, I do sincerely understand having a c-section with my current situation and my past track record. My history includes:

• Over 40 weeks pregnant with a breech Wren when her fluid levels dropped to almost nothing and my body not even attempting labor=c-section

                                                        Ms. Wren after a 45 minute tug of war
                                                        where I'm almost certain she was clinging
                                                        to my ribs.

• 43 weeks pregnant with Sammy when he stopped moving. He wasn’t breech, but he was not moving, I couldn’t have my water broken because I was dilated to nothing and couldn’t use Pitocin because of the former c-section (there is debate about using Pitocin if you have had a prior c-section. My OB doesn’t, and I agree, especially since I wasn’t even trying to progress or start labor and it would have upped my risks for uterine rupture. To each their own.)=2nd c-section

                                                        Sammy after seven minutes and a doctor
                                                        laying on my uterus and shoving.  He was
                                                        apparently just awaiting eviction.

The reasons surrounding this situation are:

• I have never gone into labor;

• I have had two c-sections;

• I am carrying two kids sharing one placenta

The first two are not particularly the biggies, but two kids sharing one placenta is. However, in the world of VBACs, having never labored does not go in my favor. I would be the least likely candidate to successfully VBA2C for that reason alone regardless of how many babies I was carrying. Crazy, hostage-holding cervix!

• I could receive no aid from Pitocin if needed due to prior c-sections, which in the case of twins can be needed for the second baby.

People will read the previous information and come to different conclusions. You could justify going either way, honestly, and people have chosen both c-sections and vaginal deliveries and, to some extent, VBA2Cs with mono-di twins, though the documentation on VBA2Cs for women who have never labored having mono-di twins is not abundant (I found one example, and it was sketchy.).

So, how does this have anything to do with asking for what I need?  Am I going to ask for a VBA2C because I feel that’s what the babies and I need? No.  After all the research I have done, the doctors I’ve talked to (who I trust and who don’t make decisions based on fear) and the prayer I have put into this, no.  I have told God to feel free to intervene at any time in a the-babies-came-so-fast-she-birthed-in-the-parking-lot-of-the-hospital-and-everyone-was-fine-and-we’re-all-going-to-be-on-the-news kind of way, but He’s really the one who gets to make that decision.  It’s just an idea I had.

What I do need is questions answered whenever I ask. I need to be 100% prepared when I am being prepped for another c-section, surgeries that previously left me feeling like I had failed my children right out of the starting gate.  I need to give myself permission to go into my OB and specialist’s office and say, “Now, lay it out for me again. Why are we choosing these risks over these?”  I need to deal with the disappointment in myself I have never been able to shake and haven’t felt right about dealing with because it seemed ungrateful.  It’s not ungrateful; what happened happened and I am grateful my kids got here the way they needed to; but I need to be able to take my unrealized ideals to God, be grateful for them and also ask Him to help me work this out.

I need to not have the massive, mind-numbing panic attack I did with Sammy’s c-section where I actually attempted to escape and birth him in the stairwell.  I got caught by a nurse and an anesthesiologist who found me when I couldn’t bring myself to pull the IV tube out of my arm so was therefore just tethered to the bed by the fetal heart rate monitor and the previous mentioned IV cord.  I was drugged, 43 weeks pregnant, and not in labor. I try not to blame myself for not thinking through the bigger problems with this plan because I was pretty stressed at the time.  And D was asleep on the hospital couch bed with 103 degree fever or he might have stopped me, or assisted me. Hard to tell.  Probably assisted me and served as my midwife/doula and also the first person to realize we couldn’t force Sammy through the birth canal when I wasn’t dilated just because I squatted in a stairwell and grunted a lot.

The only way I can see not going through that again is being able to constantly remind myself that though I am taking on risks for me and our girls with a c-section, I am also giving some up, and in my particular, random situation, I feel the c-section is the better choice for us, therefore I am doing what is best for my children based on the information I have and what I know about my situation personally.  I have felt ashamed for constantly needing to ask for reassurance of this; I am the woman who just needs to be grateful my kids have a membrane separating them. However, if I am ever going to convince hospital staff not to put a cop at my door to make sure I don’t escape, I’m going to need to enter the hospital a little more Zen than I was before. The only way I know to do that is to ask for what I need, and that’s every random question I have between now and Asher and Eowyn’s birth answered to my satisfaction.  I need people to not think I'm silly because this is a big deal for me, and because I am disappointed that it looks like I will not be able to give any of my kids a vaginal birth.  Plus, I need to start practicing my belief that nothing is too big OR too small to be brought before the Lord.  That starts now.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My 6th Little Thing

Recap: I could have probably done more, but I did make an effort daily to do something out of my normal routine for someone else. I think the effort has made the week more enjoyable and reminded me that those efforts matter.

Week 6: Create a flexible yet somewhat structured plan for homeschool

After Sammy was born, I went insane reading books on homeschool, planning for homeschool, looking for structure for homeschool. I tried to figure out how to manage Wren’s needs with Sam’s needs with me sleep deprived pretty much 24/7. Wren was only 2, but I was sure if I didn’t start planning and preparing I would never have time. It never occurred to me I wouldn’t be nursing Sammy every hour for the rest of my life therefore freeing up time for homeschool planning later. Finally, I gave up and let my kids learn the good old-fashioned way: living. Here’s what happened:

• Wren potty trained Sammy when he was 19 months old;

• Sammy started speak in sentences so early that I can’t actually remember when he wasn’t speaking in sentences;

• Wren started memorizing entire books and reciting them with songs and dance numbers and occasionally accents thrown in;

This is not parental bragging as I have no right to brag. Basically, the kids learned, and I had zero to do with it. Sure, we read books and my kids could find a library if you dropped them in the middle of nowhere blind folded. We’re crazy into puzzles. But, like most parents (I hope), there are days I feel like I’m clocking in at about 50% capacity due to exhaustion, pregnancy, or just lack of energy to constantly 100% interact or manage children. It’s fun, the interaction, but it can also be really hard constantly, especially when most days are a study in doing a lot of the same over again, including answer the same five questions EVERY SINGLE DAY.

The good news is me not doing anything particularly eventful or specialized has not detrimentally affected my offspring; on the contrary, staying out of their way and letting them explore worked well for them, and I am much more laid back about our homeschool approach. I’m super excited too!

That being said, we are reaching a point where, with four kids under one roof and Wren asking questions about learning to read and Sammy able to focus on a task on his own for 45 minutes (it usually has something to do with trains), a certain amount of structure or planning probably needs to be in place just so we can accomplish goals that are meaningful to the kids. They will lead this charge, and I just want to create an environment that is conducive to serving their needs while managing the needs of the entire litter. Way easier said than done.

My goals for this week are:

• Plan at least two park dates for the future to check out homeschool groups in the area;
Contact has been made to one, and I am waiting to hear back on dates.
• Contact a couple of homeschool co-ops to obtain specifics and see if these are of interest;
Contact was not made as I am still narrowing down who to contact, and Wren will not be able to attend most until January.  The park dates we are trying to visit also have co-ops, so I can get information at the park dates about those.
• Carve out an hour a day at least three days a week for just Wren and me to work on reading;
This sort of happened but had to be revised.  I can't tell right now if Wren is going to learn reading through phonics or use the whole word method.  When we tried strictly phonics learning (she already knows all the letter sounds), she was kind of bored with it.  She wants to hear the stories, and when she wants to read them she just memorizes the words so she can keep the flow going and not have to sound them out.  I am going to hold off on this and just keep reading her great books.

• Find someplace we can go on a DART bus. The kids are obsessed with school buses and want to ride one. They don’t seem to understand that even if they were going to public school we live so close to the school a bus does not even come to our house. So, I am looking for a family friendly destination like a museum or otherwise where the DART can drop us off. Then they can feel as if they have not only ridden a bus but also been dropped off at a learning institution. Suggestions of where to go are welcome!
Looks like the Nasher Sculpture Center sometime in May when they offer activities for children.  I'm excited!

Basically, I want to get us around some other homeschoolers or unschoolers and learn what works for them.  I'm not reinventing the wheel, just making sure we find the wheel that fits our family's needs.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Title of a Book I Will Probably Never Have Time to Write

While at the maternal fetal specialist having an ultrasound last week, the sonographer told me I should write a book for parents who like funny things. This comment followed this conversation:

Sonographer: Wow, are you freaking out that you are having twins when you already have two kids?

Me: No, I actually think the timing is perfect.

Sonographer: Really? Most people would want twins first.

Me: I think it’s actually beneficial to have done this before because my expectations are so much lower. Really, if we all just survive every day and people are fed and moderately clean, I’m basically going to consider myself mother of the year.

Sonographer: You’re funny. You should write a book for parents who like funny things.

Here’s the thing: I was so not trying to be funny.

I remember the ideal realm that surrounds the first pregnancy, the first child. I was going to:

  • Have a detailed scrapbook of her every accomplishment;
  • Clean my house while she took peaceful naps so she would wake up and see that I’m not just a perfect mother but also an amazing homemaker;
  • Take her on every possible play date where we would always have a wonderful time because nap schedules, teething, and just being a baby and therefore prone to wailing would never interrupt our fun;
  • Throw some of these play dates where baby-friendly finger food would be paired with fun learning activities, and no one would ever want to leave my house because it would be the haven of baby peace, love, and happiness;
I could go on, but just reading this small part of the list makes me feel stupid and also makes me laugh so hard that I am in danger of peeing my pants.

For all the soon-to-be first time parents or people who look at this list and say, “What’s unrealistic about that?” let me paint you a more accurate picture of what life in our household looks like:

  • I wrote down the day Wren was born in her baby book;
  • Sammy does not have a baby book, but I’m still vaguely sure I remember when he was born;
  • Cleaning my house is enjoyable because I do it so infrequently it feels like a vacation from wiping butts, preparing food (not in that order), finding lost toys no one wants until they are lost, etc.;
  • We play date, but it’s usually however many children are involved running, eating, or running and eating while the mommies attempt to have a conversation. Teething, nap schedules, and general discontent sometimes mess up the flow, but there are times I go on play dates just to see another adult, assuming it’s okay for kids to throw a hissy fit wherever they land;
  • We have play dates at our house for people who:
    • Will eat the GF, dairy free food we have;
    • Don’t have high expectations for cleanliness and order;
    • Can make a path with their foot in order to clear enough room to make it from our door to the living room.

Need further evidence of lowered standards?  When we discovered we had been eating from a jar of peanut butter that had a UPC code matching that of jars of peanut butter recalled for Salmonella, D’s first question was, “So, should we stop eating it? I mean, we’ve all already eaten out of this jar, and everyone seems okay.”

Me: Dang, D, we are mellow, but this is freaking Salmonella! Stop eating the peanut butter!

So, yeah, I really do feel relieved that now that two babies will be joining a toddler and a preschooler, I am much more aware of and okay with my limitations. And I am totally serious about high fiving every person I see if, when left alone with four children ages four and under, we simply survive.  Even if we’re all covered in food, poo, and spit up. Everyone breathing? Great! We’re calling this the best day ever!

Maybe my new perspective does qualify me to write a book. I’ll do that during my spare time this fall! The title will be:

Becoming an Underachieving Parent: How Aiming Low, Really Low, Will Make You Feel Like a Winner!

Yeah, that will totally sell.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tips for Survival from a Pregnant Woman

A gentleman I have never met came up to me the other day, looked at my stomach and said “Still procrastinating?”

Me: Excuse me?

Stranger Danger: Well, you sure are waiting a while to get that baby out when it’s ready to go.

Me, staring at this gentleman in disbelief: Sir, I am 18 weeks pregnant, and there are two babies in there. It’s not so much procrastination as just baking them the appropriate amount of time.

Stranger Danger: Uh, well, um.

I just let him sputter along until he shuffled away in shame.

End of conversation.

Lady I do know who I thought wouldn’t say these things because she is nice and has had children: So, you’re kind of big, I mean bigger than you’re supposed to be, right?

Me: I’m having twins.

Lady I am no longer fond of: I know. It’s just, when are you due?

Me: July.

Lady: Oh, well, um that’s not so bad I guess. I mean, it’s just that you are so thin, it must just seem like you’re showing a lot.

I just let her sputter looking for a way to save herself when, in truth, there really wasn't one.

Neither of these individuals was harmed because I am awesome and don't want to give birth in prison.  My doctors say I am measuring great, my children are growing at a perfect rate, and I have been instructed to eat 3500 calories A DAY and pack on 35 MORE pounds. Plus, I am hugely secure, which really means lazy, not vain, and not even close to being one of those people who has a how-to-get-my-pre-baby-body-back plan. Pre which baby? It’s all downhill after the first one arrives and then you breastfeed (side note: I have been pregnant or breastfeeding or both since 2008), so I’m just going to see what I get after these two are born and go with that. Seriously, I have children to care for. Cellulite will just have to collect in questionable places and grow because I don’t have time for it.

However, other people might have injured these two and gotten away with it because it was a crime of passion, and you really shouldn’t call someone who has pregnancy hormones coursing through their veins large. Ever. Really.

So, here are the basic survival rules should you encounter one of those strange anomalies called a pregnant woman. I want you to live, so read them all the way through.

1. Do not ever ask someone if they are pregnant. Assume they are fat and move on.

2. Should you find out they are pregnant because you were told by the pregnant person, never guess their due date. Say congratulations. Move on.

3. Never eye their stomach and say, “Wow you are much larger than you’re supposed to be, right?” Do I really need to explain why this is a problem?

4. If you see them daily and you know they are close to their due date, do not repeatedly ask why they are still pregnant. I can answer this one for you: because the baby has not come out.  Don’t be stupid.

5. If you are going to insult a pregnant woman because you still think it is a good idea, don’t get all crazy and overdo it like Mr. Stranger Danger.  Say one stupid thing.  He managed to call me a procrastinator, a.k.a. lazy, while also calling me large.  He honestly barely escaped.

Hope this is helpful. Live long, and don’t tick off people carrying the future of our planet in their wombs.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My 5th Little Thing

Recap: We stopped and smelled the tulips at the grocery store. We hung out at the mall bookstore for hours, just being leisurely. We didn’t hurry, and it was nice. I am more patient and the kids are happier if we just assume any given event can take up hours. They’re kids, so they should enjoy the hours while they still seem long.

Week 5: Go out of my way

This week for Valentine’s Day, a “holiday” I classify as kind of weird, I decided to find a way to carry on our tradition of Whataburger chicken barbeque sandwiches minus the gluten and the assistance of Whataburger. It’s one tradition that we’ve tried to always keep, and we wanted to include the kids this year even though we all have some similar, some conflicting food allergies, and these sandwiches can equal disaster for at least one person in the house at any given time if not done properly.

The kids and I were in Carrollton by 9:45 yesterday morning picking up gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free hamburger buns (the BEST buns ever) from Local Oven. We then hiked it up to Lewisville to Cracker Barrel which is the only place that seems to be carrying the Bone Suckin' Sauce that is gluten-free, tested for possible contaminates, and doesn’t contain anything offensive to anyone in our house. Also, it tastes awesome and I would eat it on chocolate if I hadn’t eaten all the chocolate already.

Wren then somehow talked me into a trip to the mall before we went to Sprouts to pick up the chicken. Her argument was solid: she had been in a car picking up bread that was frozen which kept her from eating it for hours, to a restaurant with delicious food she couldn’t eat, though she did get to walk out with barbeque sauce, and now I was taking her to the grocery store and trying to pass that off as fun. We spent an hour at the mall. Then we got our chicken.

We went home and assembled our sandwiches and had a picnic dinner on the floor last night, not for Valentine’s Day as much as to celebrate tradition, to celebrate knowing people in this world who are worth going out of our way for. To rejoice in being loved by people who don’t question your motives, people who are always appreciative even when you just make them a sandwich. The whole day felt like a good use of time even though laundry piled up, dishes piled up, and I went to bed an hour later than usual. I felt energized, and it was a good reminder of what making the extra effort can do.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In A Name

We knew when we chose to name our first child Wren we were doing two things:  ensuring she would always have to repeat her name more than once because no one gets it the first time; ensuring she would have to spell it before people would say, “Wren!  Like the bird!”  It’s worth it.  Wren is Wren, nothing else will do.

With Sammy, Samuel officially, we knew if he ever decided to go by Sam that people who weren’t standing face-to-face with him or who might have never met him could mistake Sam for being short for Samantha and think him a girl.  We still named him Sammy.  He’s Samuel, Sammy.  No other name would work.

We have names for the twins, and I know from seeing them on the sonogram picture that these are their names.  No doubt.  Deciding on them was a process, though. 

Asher-We have loved the name Asher and knew we would use it whether the twins were girls or boys.  D feels it has more of a feminine ring to it, so it worked out that we’re having girls. 

Eowyn-It’s pronounced A-o-win.  Yes, it starts with an E.  And yes, it’s from "Lord of the Rings".  Here’s how this name came about.

I told D when we found out the twins were girls I wanted to get the names nailed down.  I want to stop just calling them the twins; it's hard to imagine two people are going to emerge from my body when we keep lumping them together with one word.  The conversation was long and went something like this:

 Me: Let’s name the babies.

 D:  Okay.

 Me:  Give me a name to go with Asher.

 D:  That’s a lot of pressure.  You put me on the spot.

 Me:  I’ll start.  Felicity?  Fionna?  Lavinia?

 D:  No.

 Me:  Umm, you want to go?

 D:  Pearl? (this is a running joke from when we were dating and is not meant to offend anyone named Pearl.)

 Me:  What do you think?

 D:  What about Bible names?

 I throw out many names from the Old Testament since that’s where we got Asher.

 D:  Those names sound old.

 Me:  They are from the Old Testament.  I really don’t know what you want from me here.

Many more names are discussed.  D starts just not responding if I pick a name he doesn’t like.  I just stare at him when he keeps repeating Pearl.

D:  What about Eowyn? 

Me:  A-O-N?  You want to name our kid initials?

D: Eowyn.  Say it like it flows.

Me:  Eowyn?  Wait, Eowyn.  I like that.  Where did you get that?

D:  "Lord of the Rings".  I think it was the name of a hobbit.

A discussion follows about Sam’s name being that of a Lord of the Rings hobbit, though that’s not who we named him after, even though Sam was a much cooler hobbit than Frodo and was the true hero of the story.  We agree Frodo is lame, and he has an uncle named Bilbo.  Then we laugh for five minutes because deep down, we both have the maturity level of 13 year-old boys.

An internet search proves that Eowyn was not a hobbit, but this character.  D and I are super happy because we love her, and a discussion unfolds about why Viggo’s character didn’t stay with Eowyn, instead going back to Liv Tyler’s elf character. 

D:  Eowyn was much better suited for him.  Why did he need elf love?

Me:  And didn’t those elves just sort of bail?  You don’t bail on Viggo when things get tough and then just get him back.  Elves are weird.  Eowyn rocks. 

We agree that Sam and Eowyn are the true heroes of Lord of the Rings, and though we did not intend to name our kids after them, it’s not awful that it’s turning out that way.  We find other people named Eowyn on the internet, make sure we are pronouncing it right, and decide it’s perfect.  Asher and Eowyn. 

So, yes, we are ensuring Eowyn will forever have to say her name more than once, spell it, and then explain why it is not spelled how it is pronounced.  But I know Asher and Eowyn are the babies in my belly, so those will be their names.  It couldn't be more perfect.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

My 4th Little Thing

Recap: I was much more active this week.  With the weather nice, we made trips to the park which kept me on my feet, and I seemed to be on my feet at work most of the time as well. I clocked a ton of miles walking, and that felt nice and helped my lower back pain.  Plus, I went insane on my kids' bedroom, cleaning like I’m already nesting.  That was a work out that actually left me feeling more tired than anything else I did this week.  So, while nothing was crazy structured, I stayed vertical for longer periods of time without consequence and tried to fill my still moments with movement.

Week 4: Never be in a hurry

Carrying two kids in utero and keeping up with two kids oustide of utero, there is no such thing as hurry. We move when we move and we arrive when we arrive.  However, there are times that the kids want to move at an even slower pace so they can spread their wings and be more independent, which basically means try something they don't know how to do and take an otherwise quick task and turn it into the event that time sucks the whole day.

This has been rough for me, not because I'm a super busy hurried person, but because there are some events I like to just finish at a normal speed.  For instance, grocery shopping.  With both kids in the buggy, I can zoom through our list in no time, therefore allowing us the rest of the day for more entertaining activites.  But now Wren wants to walk.  She is four with functioning legs, but her idea of walking and mine are not the same.  I believe walking is walking.  She believes walking is fairy dancing, talking to her "friends" on every aisle, and stopping to touch everything in the store.  For some reason, this kills me.  I need to try harder to remember what it's like to be a kid.

I will need prayer on this one as my first experiment offered this: the park, the one that is a five to seven minute walk from our house if Wren is walking, like real, me telling her cars are going to hit her walking, and Sammy is in the stroller took us 27 minutes to get to when Wren and Sammy decided to bring toys to ride. These are great toys and they should ride them. Sammy riding his backwards for four minutes did not help our time. The realization that got me was that it took 54 minutes to get to and from the park, and we were only there for 45 minutes. But it's not the desitnation, it's the journey, right? So I am going to spend the week being more on board with the journey. We may be moving at slower than a snail's pace, but I will be on board.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Mid-Year Reflection on the Jesus Year

At 33 and a half, I wanted to take a chance to look back and see what, if anything, has been accomplished in my Jesus year so far. What of value has occurred? How do you measure the tangibility of spiritual growth? I’m not 100% sure, so this post may be a bit non-linear and only make sense in my head.

Trusting God:

We made a big trusting God decision in October: the decision to get pregnant again. We wanted more kids but were gun shy after the beating of 2011 which involved illness falling on both of our children and leaving us feeling vulnerable and raw. However, we felt the desire to have more children at the same time without having talked to each other about it, and we knew as Christians it wasn’t Biblical to let fear rule our lives. Did it seem like the perfect time with me in the middle of grad school again and us just getting back to normal sleep schedules and no one having adverse reactions to carrots? Who knows? God said it was the right time, we both knew it, and two weeks later we were pregnant.

Then there was the six week period of time when the twins were believed to be mono-mono. I have no idea why that period of time had to exist, but I do know that throughout it I didn’t doubt that I was supposed to be pregnant. I doubted whether I was going to meet my kids this side of Heaven, but I knew I was supposed to be pregnant. For one of the first times in my life, I didn’t second guess God’s instructions or fear I had heard Him wrong. It was the only reason I was even moderately sane during that time.

Now we are expecting mono-di twins, and I am enjoying the pregnancy sure whatever lies ahead is part of a bigger plan, therefore not worried. This pregnancy, like all pregnancies, is not without risks, but it’s just a joy to feel little kicks and know we trusted.

Biblical Knowledge:

I am approximately half-way through the Bible. I think the bigger accomplishment is that I enjoy reading the Bible and I miss it if a day goes by when I don’t get it done due to not prioritizing correctly. I have seen God in different ways, been in awe, confused, confirmed in my beliefs, and everything in between, and I haven’t even hit the New Testament yet. Though not a Biblical scholar, I feel good at the pace I’m going and at the joy I take in the reading.

Helping Others:

This one leaves me feeling very stagnant. Yes, we have attempted to stay financially committed to the poor, the sick, the local church. Have I actively been out in the world finding ways to help others? Not really. The mission trip we planned for one of us to go on in July has been postponed due to the impending arrival of the twins, which is okay.  Mission trips are a part of our future; this is just a delay.  However, I’m not setting the example I want for my kids in this area, though we are making small steps. I don’t think this one should actually be that hard, but somehow I manage to make it that way being selfish, busy, unaware of where the time and energy of each day goes. Probably not having a completely open heart, not really loving the way Christ did and not praying for that love to overtake me is the core of the problem. Who really wants to hurt for other people? That’s a rough one to ask for, but that's exactly what I'm supposed to be doing.