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Friday, March 30, 2012

25 weeks and counting

I've been terrible at documenting this pregnancy. Life is busy. And, I have to admit that, even though I'm not feeling overly anxious about something going terribly wrong with this pregnancy, I think I tend to keep myself focused on other things to purposely keep my mind from going there. I worry a little about how I'll explain to Baby Girl why I don't have weekly photos of my pregnancy with her (although, I didn't do that with Hugh, either) and why I didn't record more of my feelings during these nine months. So, I'm going to make more of an effort to document more of this, for her sake.

This last Sunday I reached the 25 week mark. To celebrate, my tummy decided to reject everything I'd eaten that day. Throwing up at 25 weeks is not fun. I'm really hoping that night marked the final rendezvous with the dreaded porcelain bowl.

I don't know how much the boys understand what's about to happen, but they pat my tummy and say "baby", as well as understanding that "baby" also refers to a tiny human being. (I should also clarify that they also pat their own tummies and say "baby"... so clearly there's a little confusion still. haha.) Last week, while I was busy making dinner, Hugh came up to me with a ball, trying to stuff it under his shirt and saying "help." So, I helped get that shirt nice and stretched out enough to fit the ball in there. He giggled and then trotted off with his back slightly arched back. Then, of course, Ben had to get in on the fun and brought his ball over with the same request. Funny boys!

I almost wasn't going to include this very unflattering photo of me with the boys, but since when have I ever claimed to live a glamorous life?! This is the real deal, on most days, I tell ya. Tired, pregnant, make-up-less me, just trying to make and keep a happy home. And, actually, I'm totally cool with that.

Here's a more traditional shot of the baby bump, taken two days ago... so roughly at 25 weeks and 3 days. I find it so awkward trying to figure out how to stand for these photos. Do I wrap my arms around my belly? Do I hold it from underneath? Should I put my arms down to the side? Smile at the camera? Look off in the distance? Maybe that's the real reason behind not taking these photos every single week. Too much pressure for this analytical head of mine.

And, I'll leave you with one of my most favorite photos of the boys right now. Sitting on our front porch, Ben wearing Grandpa's beret and Hugh wearing Grandma's newsies cap. Here's the deal, though. This photo is not posed in the least. They are always wearing these hats - as soon as my parents walk through the door, the boys plead/demand to wear their hats. This photo captures so much of their personalities... I love it!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Life is Sacred

First, I really wanted to thank those who left such helpful advice on my last post about transitioning from cribs to big boy beds. Not only was it helpful, it was incredibly comforting to remember I'm not alone in these kinds of changes. As far as an update, we still haven't done anything. Ben hasn't attempted to climb out again, perhaps because the one incident scared him good enough to keep him from attempting again right away. We are planning on changing their sleeping arrangements very soon, even if it's just a bit of a temporary solution for now, but it just hasn't happened yet. Hopefully before they work up their courage to make their next attempted escape!

My thoughts have been all over the place lately... from the miracle of life to the ever-present political goings-on and just about everything in between. I think I'll save some of my more political ramblings for another day, mainly because today needs to be remembered for today.

The twenty-seventh of March will always be marked in my heart as a day to be remembered, whether I plan on it or not. That first miscarriage I had in 2003 had estimated my due date to be the 27th. Today. The date comes around every year with a little less pain and sadness than it did those first couple of years. I know for certain that our current blessings are the main factor in contributing to that healed sadness, for which I am so grateful.

In fact, more than sadness, today I mostly wondered at how different life would be right now if we had an eight-year old. It's so hard to imagine. And, then I just felt awe at how perfectly sorrow and joy have woven themselves through my life, making quite a stunning masterpiece of rich and deep emotions. There have been moments I've admittedly wished away some of those emotions, but now can hardly imagine my life without having known them so intimately and deeply.

My dad, without being aware of today's date, shared this video with me - Conception to Birth. It is amazing and inspiring and beautiful to consider the miracle of life.

On a somewhat related note, I came across a movie today that was released to select theaters this past weekend. It's called October Baby and you can watch the trailer and other background stories about the film at its website. It's basically the story of a young adult girl who finds out she was adopted at birth, after surviving a failed abortion. The movie takes her on a journey to find answers and healing. With any movie that tackles such intense themes, I'm sure there are bound to be some strong opinions associated with it. I would love to see it, but I'm pretty sure it isn't going to come to a theater near me. According to their website the closest theater currently showing it is a couple of hours away. So, if any of you have seen it or end up seeing it, I'd really love to hear your thoughts on it.

And, on a somewhat unrelated note, after reading this story in the news, I'm feeling an even greater appreciation for the details of my experience a month ago that kept my little boys and me safe. I am even more sure of angels (here and beyond) that were sent to watch over us that day. Lots of reminders today of the sacredness of life.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Nap time around here has it's usual routine that goes almost exactly the same every single day. We put the boys in their cribs, sing a calming song, tell them it's time to sleep, and close the door behind us. Then Marc and I sit in the quiet living room and talk briefly about our plans for the rest of the day while we listen to the boys in the background giggling and babbling and laughing some more. There are times when we can't help but laugh just at the sound of their squeals of delight, and wish so much we could sneak a peek of what exactly is going on in there. Eventually they settle down and fall asleep, but sometimes that can take up to an hour.

Well, this past Thursday I was enjoying listening to their joyful noises and wondering at what point I should go in to remind them it was time to sleep, when all of a sudden I hear a frantic scream from Ben that clearly required an urgent response. I rushed into their dark room to see the shadow of Ben's body hanging from the front of the crib, so I flipped the light on to see that he was hanging upside down on the outside of the crib, his legs wrapped in and around the crib slats with his ankles interlocked around the top bar, and his hands gripping the slats near the bottom, hanging on for dear life.

I'm still not sure if he purposely wrapped his feet the way he did to keep himself from falling or if that was done by accident. Either way it scared me good, while at the same time kind of made me want to laugh in disbelief. The urge to laugh only increased as I was carefully getting Ben untwisted from the crib slats, when I looked down to my side to see Hugh's concerned expression and realizing that he had climbed out of his crib successfully at some point before this emergency happened. (The sides on Hugh's crib are slightly lower and a bit easier to climb out of, but still came as a shock that he'd attempted and succeeded.)

Okay, so with the next baby on the way we had already been talking and thinking about the next transitions and sleeping arrangements for the boys, but I was clearly expecting to be able to make those decisions calmly and according to our time line rather than being forced into a decision and a situation I wasn't quite ready for.

And, it made me think - "is this something, as a parent, I should just get used to now?" - because I get the feeling that things like growing up and making transitions through stages in life are most likely going to happen much differently and much more chaotically than the way my OCD-perfectionistic-leaning-little-head would like them to go. And, really, I guess that's okay... I just need to prep myself better to expect that to be the case.

So, we spent part of our Saturday afternoon looking at big boy beds and trundle beds and bunk beds and got lots of information, without any final decisions yet. I think eventually we'll probably do the bunk bed thing, but I look at my little Hugh (who just turned 22 months yesterday) and find it so hard to imagine putting my little baby in a big boy bed already, not to mention the idea of putting Ben on the top of a bunk bed at this point. So, bunk beds eventually, but not quite yet! Even as I write this I can't keep my head from shaking in disbelief.

I'm finding these kinds of transitions to be hard to face head on. I kind of want to just pretend like their attempts to escape their cribs was just a fluke thing and they will be fine in their cribs for another few months until I decide they aren't my babies anymore and they're ready to move up, goshdarnit!

But I know I need to let them take the lead and show me when they're ready for change and opportunities to grow. I don't want to limit them or hold them back, even with something as insignificant as a bed. It's my job to provide a safe environment and a soft place to land as they make those changes and start to grow up. I just can't believe there are moments of growing up that seem to happen overnight. And, really, I get the feeling this is nothing compared to what's to come! Heaven, help me!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Daring to dream

Over the last several years I've acquired baby girl clothes here and there. It started the summer of 2003 just after getting our first positive pregnancy test. I never bought a whole lot all at once, just cute little outfits on clearance that I just couldn't pass up. One of the first and still one of my favorites is this white onesie with a subtle little ruffle around the collar and a pair of purple and white gingham pants.

Obviously when we found out the twins were girls, I was thrilled to finally get all those cute clothes out and ready to be spit up on and worn out. Well, clearly, those dreams ended much too soon and once again it was all carefully folded and put away in a safe place, desperately hoping for another chance. Someday.

After Hugh was born and there was a time when we seriously wondered if our family might be complete as is, I debated back and forth about hanging onto all of the girl clothes we had collected. It was starting to feel silly and maybe a little painful, too.

Just the other day I pulled out one of the plastic bins full of girl stuff - clothes, blankets, burp clothes, etc. - and looked at it all with new eyes and new dreams. And, that was more scary than I thought it was going to be.

Expecting a girl, after losing two, has made me feel a little extra cautious in how much I daydream about what it'll be like to have a little girl. Those dreams and visions are hard to bury. So, I've tried to not think too much about the future and have just focused on the present moment as much as possible. But, I'm also able to recognize it's healthy to let my mind and my heart go to that future place where dreams come true and stories have a happy ending.

Something happened today, though, that almost sent me into a complete panic. At my monthly prenatal check-up the midwife casually mentioned that I needed to have a follow-up ultrasound in a few weeks to double check a certain vital organ that wasn't visualized clearly at my ultrasound two weeks ago. She didn't seem concerned and so my immediate response was that it wasn't a big deal. Then, as the day wore on her words kept running through my mind and after some quick google searches I didn't feel so pacified.

After finally getting through to a nurse, to clarify some things and hopefully ease my concerns, there was a brief mention of the possibility I'd have to go down to UCSF for additional testing. I swear to you that just hearing "UCSF" is the most awful sound to these ears... well, and mostly to my heart. I don't have a good track record so far, with my last three babies ending up at UCSF. I really could use a pregnancy that doesn't involve anything having to do with that place. Please?!

Eventually, later this evening, I was able to get in contact with the midwife I saw earlier today and we had a bit more candid conversation about baby girl and her current situation. She was able to answer some of my questions and give me a little more information that helped calm my heart and ease my fears. For now, it appears that the concern with baby girl is just that there were some areas that weren't clearly visible during the ultrasound, perhaps because of positioning, that they just want to get a second peek. So, for now the panic is on hold and will hopefully stay that way for the next 17 weeks.

What I learned, though, in the initial panic of today's news was how much I already love this little girl of mine. And, how much my dreams of what life will be like with her have already made their place in some future reality. And, how I can't wait to see if she'll look like her sisters and what her unique features will be. I've decided it's better to dream of those things I hope for the most rather than giving that space up to fears and worst-case scenarios. Because somewhere and at some point, I really believe all of those dreams will come true.

Ben turned TWO!

Yeah, I know that was over two months ago. I think I mentioned that on the day of his actual birthday we went out to ice cream and gave him just a couple of his gifts because we wanted to save the big stuff for his big party on a day that his birth mother could make it up. Well, that party happened at the end of January, but since I failed to get the photos off the camera right away, I kept forgetting to post about his big celebration.

After seeing an Elmo cake that a friend made for her daughter, I knew that would be the perfect cake for Ben. For weeks leading up to his party, I'd show him a picture of the cake and tell him that I'd make him his own Elmo cake. Whether or not he fully understood, the excitement would show all over his face. And, the moment he saw his cake for the first time was awesome! The biggest smile I've ever seen... it made me so happy!

I wasn't sure if he'd actually eat the cake since he wasn't interested in his cake at all on his first birthday, but he dug right in and ate every last bite. As did Hugh! So messy and so fun!

It was so great to have Tracey and her mom there for the party. I know someday that will mean a lot to Ben and I'm grateful for their willingness to make the sacrifice to be apart of big days like this with us.

What a happy two years it has been with our sweet, blue-eyed Benjamin! I cannot imagine life without him and feel so incredibly lucky to be his mother. He is such a joy and we are truly blessed!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Photo Catch Up

After finally getting photos from the last three months off our camera, I found some great shots of the boys that I'd totally forgotten about. So, here's a little glimpse into the last couple of months.

These first three were taken while we were visiting Marc's mom. The boys were running around with their cousin Eliza, playing and laughing.

The boys have started to show a lot more interest in helping me in the kitchen, whether I'm cleaning or cooking or doing the dishes. They want to be right in the middle of the action. It's super cute and I really love it, even if sometimes it takes a little bit longer and we all get a little bit messier. Here they are helping me make bread, standing on buckets to be able to reach the countertop.

I love this next photo! I'm not sure what prompted them to do it, but they both spontaneously got into their praying position - Ben tucking his fists under his chin and Hugh folding his arms. Maybe they thought they'd get the bread right away after saying a prayer... who knows? So cute, though!

And, just so you don't mistakenly think that they are perfect little angels all the time, just seconds after being in their praying position, Ben smacked Hugh on the head with the pancake flipper, then smacked himself on the head, perhaps hoping that would even things out. What you don't see since I was scrambling to get to their side to break up the scuffle before someone really got hurt, is Hugh's revenge. Hugh got down, grabbed Ben by his shirt and pulled him off his bucket and onto the floor on his back. Funny how things can go from happily baking together one second to fighting and crying the next... just part of life, I guess!

Since Marc and I both wear glasses, both boys are constantly wanting to wear glasses. In Nursery at church we're told that they are always trying to put Mr. Potato Head's glasses on their own faces, and the only two kids in the group who are interested in the glasses at all. So, every once in a while we'll give in and let them try ours on for a quick second. Here's Hugh wearing mine: