Friday, December 18, 2015

Motherhood and the Winter of our Discontent

I've been thinking about seasons. A lot.

I've been thinking about growth and life and I've been thinking about dormant periods and death.

I love how each season is preparatory for the next; how Summer depends on Winter and Spring to give it the water it needs. I love how the rich colors of Fall---and the subsequent death and decay of her leaves---lend nutrients to the earth so that Spring can flourish.

I've been thinking about seasons. And about Motherhood.

I'm sure that I could write about Motherhood being an Eternal Spring; giving and cultivating life and brightness and joy (because it is, and it does), but I'm not going to.

Because Motherhood is also equally Fall and Winter.

Right now almost everything I do, everything that I am, is for my children and my husband. In the morning I wake to my sweet Naomi's cries, and my breasts ache to give her the nutrients she needs. The other kids need diaper changes and cereal, and sometimes some extra love because they woke up grumpy. From that point on, my day is for them.

My husband is pursuing his dream of becoming a violin maker. He learns and creates and interacts with other brilliant minds everyday. I love seeing the progress he has made over the last two years. He is incredible. But in order to create that environment of growth, we have both made sacrifices. For me that has meant taking care of the kids by day and working by night. This leaves little room for me to pursue my dreams (outside of the dream of motherhood).

Sometimes, especially after my 12th diaper change of the day, I look at my Facebook or Instagram feed, and I see my friends doing amazing things. They are getting Masters Degrees, publishing books, painting and sculpting, and travelling the world! And for a small moment I long to take their place.

But here is the crux of the matter: This is but a season. And Rob and I are working together in love and understanding to create seasons of growth for one another.

Is it the winter of my discontent? No, it is just my winter. And winter has some pretty amazing things to offer.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pregnancy Update

This time two years ago I was on hospital bedrest, and had already completed 3 weeks of my anticipated 10 week stay. We knew from the beginning of that pregnancy that hospital bed rest was a part of the plan. We were able to prep and pack and Rob and I even took a romantic little "babymoon" the week before I was admitted.

Last pregnancy, bed rest was a saving grace, it was calming and reassuring to have the monitors beeping through the night, letting me know that the girls were safe. Sure, it had its ups and downs. I was homesick and lonely. But I built a family of nurses and friends and supporters.

This time things feel different. We didn't plan for this. Rob was away all of June and July and part of August. There is much more fear and unkown this time around.

For those of you who aren't aware, I started bleeding in the middle of the night on Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning. I am only 30 weeks along, so it's not nearly time for baby to be here. The biggest concerns we have right now are keeping baby in until a safe gestation (every day counts!) and keeping me from bleeding too much. I have a condition called Placenta Previa, which means that the placenta is completely covering my cervix, or the baby's exit. This means that I am definitely having a c-section when the time comes. Ideally we will be able to keep the baby in there until 34-36 weeks, however, we have to weigh the safety of a preterm baby against my risk of having "the big bleed", as the doctors call it.

Many of you have asked how you can help, and we are so grateful for all of those offers! Here are a couple of things we learned and appreciated from the last time I was on bedrest:

1. Kind words

-  So many of you have already shared kind and uplifting words with us, and that is monumental! We love to know that you are thinking of us and praying for us, and we feel those prayers and kind thoughts every minute of the day.

2. Visits

- The hospital gets lonely. The staff is amazing, and engaging, but often have other patients to attend to and cannot necessarily spend their time with the needy, emotional mom in room 12. If you have a moment to stop by, that would be much appreciated. I know many people feel that when they visit they need to bring something---flowers, books, food, etc---and while those things are lovely and sweet and thoughtful, just the act of visiting is enough, so please don't feel concerned about coming in "empty handed". It is your full heart that we want to enjoy
- Surprise visits are great and fun, but can also be trying on a patient. With nurses and doctors coming in all through the day and night, and monitors beeping and alarms pinging, the hospital is NOT a place of rest. I try and grab a nap or a moment of introspection here and there, so if possible, please text before coming. But remember, even if you can't text or call, your visit is much appreciated.

3. Take care of my family

-My heart is torn in half. Part of me knows I need to be here for this beautiful little baby, and the other part of me is dying to be with my husband and babies at home. Rob is the most amazing dad and husband in the universe. He is capable and wise and knows what our children need. But he doesn't deserve to have this dumped on him again. He is now shouldering all of the responsibilities of two parents, as well as being my primary support and care giver.
-If you can, arrange for play dates for my children so that Rob can have a moment to go grocery shopping, do the laundry, or work on school work without the stress of three children crawling on him.
-Meals. Rob is great at taking care of himself and the kids, but the added stress of taking care of me in the hospital can be far too much. If you can provide the occasional meal, I'm sure he would appreciate it. Unfortunately, my girls have a Gluten allergy and cannot eat anything containing wheat, barley, or rye. I know this makes it more difficult to help, but give me a call and I can provide you with easy recipes that are safe for them to eat.

4. Act on your instincts

-Sometimes we just don't know what we need. It is wonderful to have general offers of help, but very hard to take people up on it. If you are inspired to think of something specific you are able and willing to do, please act on that inspiration.

I just want to reiterate how very grateful we are to have each of you in our lives. Thank you for your kind words, your prayers, and your support.

I will do my best to keep everyone updated, either through the blog or Facebook or instagram, but please be patient with me!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

We're Alive!


It's been a couple of months. 

Since the last time I wrote we have:

-moved TWICE
-celebrated 5 birthdays (Meisje, Gideon, Annelise, Olivia, and Debbie) as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years
-went camping in Zion National Park and Lake Tahoe
-spent two weeks in Alaska
-I changed jobs
-Rob got braces
-we switched to Gluten free foods

I won't go into all the details of all of our adventures, but I figured that I had to start somewhere if I wanted to blog again. 

I've definitely missed chronicling our adventures, but everything has just been so crazy that it's been hard to keep up! I have a whole list of subjects to write on, but for now I'll just bombard you with pictures of my awesome family
 These girlies love books!

 Gideon has taken to eating like a dinosaur

Annelise really knows how to relax at the park

Gideon and his best friend, Thayne, hold hands in the parking lot

Sorry for the poor quality of this video, but you get the point!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Home away from home


It's been a long time since I've written.

A couple of weeks ago all of the kids got the stomach flu, and although Gideon was able to kick it after one day, the girls just couldn't get rid of it.

Have you ever seen an infant vomit?

Not just spit up, but truly vomit?

It is terrifying. Absolutely and miserably terrifying.

The thing is, infants can't aim. They can't tell you that they think they are going to throw up. They also don't seem to be aware of the fact that they should move out of their own puddle of vomit.

So for four days I kept a constant vigil, making sure that when my babies did throw up that they didn't drown in it.

4 days was too much for me to handle, so I took them in to the doctor. The doctor had high hopes that they would get better on their own overnight and sent me home with orders to come back if they didn't get better...

They didn't.

They had each lost about 2 lbs, and if you've seen my girls, you know that 2 lbs is too much. They were lethargic and glossy eyed. It was heartbreaking. The doc admitted them to the hospital and they stayed for two days on IV fluids. (thankfully I was still allowed to breastfeed them during their stay)

Gideon came with me to the hospital while the girls were being admitted and just being there made him upset. I think he still remembers his daily visits while I was pregnant with the girls. He cried so hard when my sister took him away from the hospital that I felt like my heart was being torn apart---but what could I do? I had to stay with the girls.

I love nurses and doctors.

I hate hospitals. But in the last year they have become my "home away from home" in many ways.

At first it was really scary to see them hooked up to the IVs and monitors...they were so lethargic and tired they just laid there

But after a few hours it was clear that the IV fluids were working, and they were cheering up!

One comforting thing is that the girls were each given a blanket, a burp up rag, and a hat that were handmade and donated to the hospital. That meant so much to me because by the time we arrived at the hospital the girls had already soiled the blankets that I brought, and I wasn't in the mindset to bring extra.

The whole experience was extremely harrowing, and there were moments that I just wanted to close my eyes and pretend it wasn't happening, but we made it through! With the help of my sister and members of our congregation I was able to stay at the hospital with the girls, and Rob was able to attend school while Gideon was well taken care of.

Everyone is happy and healthy now, and we are on to new adventures.

Friday, June 27, 2014

What I want the Media to stop telling my daughters

*this is a rant and you might not agree with it.

Dear Media,


Stop telling my daughters that if someone tells them they are pretty that it is a backhanded compliment meant to hold them back in life.

Stop marketing pink erector sets and legos and telling my girls that they can build stuff---but only if it's pink or purple.  (Look at this lego ad from 1981, they knew what was up!)

Stop telling my daughters that if a man holds a door open for them (or extends a number of other kindnesses) that it means that he is condescending her and that he is establishing dominance.

Stop telling my daughters that they can live out their dreams and do whatever they want but then patronize them for wanting to be a mother.

Stop telling my daughters that learning to protect themselves contributes to rape culture.

Stop telling my daughters that if they value modesty they are contributing to rape culture.

Stop telling my daughters that if they aren't in a leadership position that they are deliberately being silenced.

Stop telling my daughters that being like a man is the only way they will succeed in business.

Stop telling my daughters that there is no such thing as a "boy sport" or a "boy toy" or a "boy color" and then stop telling them that they might be transgendered if they enjoy playing with or doing boy things.

Stop telling my daughters that being "just" a mother is unfulfilling.

Stop telling my daughters that they can't want to look pretty and be intelligent at the same time.

Stop telling my daughters that men and women are the same.

Stop telling my daughters that kindness is a weakness.

Stop telling my daughters that terms of endearment are demeaning.

I don't want my girls to grow up believing that they are less, or looking for an insult in every compliment, or feeling oppressed...


Sincerely Yours,
A Fed Up Mama

**Disclaimer: I fully understand that there are serious problems related to gender inequality and that those problems need to be addressed---but in my opinion, being empowered comes when you decide not to be a victim and the ideas listed above only compound the problem. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Music Man

Over the last four months this little boy has become quite the musician...the photos below are only a small glimpse into his obsession with all things muscical. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Surviving and thriving in the NICU

A twin Mom's take on surviving the NICU

Whether anticipated or not, the NICU is a scary experience. I found out at 8 weeks pregnant that my girlies had almost 0% chance of coming home with me. They would likely spend weeks in the NICU due to their rare condition. To read about Monoamniotic Monochorionic Twins click here.

My number one piece of advice is this:

You miss one-hundred percent of the shots that you don't take
or in our case, you miss one-hundred percent of the opportunities you never ask for. 

The first time I held Annelise and Olivia together, Annelise reached
out to hold Olivia's hand.

Even though we knew the girlies would be in the NICU, and we had taken a tour, we had NO IDEA what the protocol would be once the girls got in there. We didn't even know what questions to ask. My advice is that you ask every silly question that comes to your mind. 

You want to hold your babies but there are so many tubes and lights and beeping machines that it's intimidating? Just ask.

You have a photographer friend that you would like to come into the NICU to do a photoshoot of your babe/babes? Just ask.

You want to let your baby try and latch even though they've only been feeding through an NG tube? Just ask.  (this is called non-nutritive suckling, and is great for developing a good breastfeeding relationship)

Trust me on this. It's intimidating, and it might even seem silly, but there is no harm in asking! Asking will also inform your nurses that you want to be involved and they will feel more open to asking YOU if you want the opportunity to do something. 

Number Two

Try to be there when the doctors and the nurses do their rounds. This way you get all of the information/orders that the nurses are getting from the doctors and you get a chance to speak to everyone who has care of your baby at the same time. 

Rounds were usually around 7am and 7pm at our hospital. 

In the same vein, if you don't get along with/can't communicate well with a certain nurse, ask the head nurse to schedule someone else for your babies. It's important that you develop a relationship with the people who will be nurturing your babes while you are gone.

Number Three
they call this "liquid gold" (colostrum, the first milk that comes in)
Pump like crazy through the day, but sleep at night.  I pumped every two hours during the day and then I allowed myself to sleep 6-8 hour stretches through the night. I assumed that my body would adjust to nighttime feedings when the girls came home and I was not disappointed. Eight months later and I'm still breastfeeding my little beauties!

This was hard for me to do, because it meant that I wasn't with my girls during the night, but I attribute healing so quickly to this one tip. Also, it was important for me to sleep in my own bed with my husband and to get time with our son. I had been in the hospital for 10 weeks prior to the birth of my girlies and sleeping at home with my husband was crucial to maintaining our bond during this stressful time.  As much as my girlies needed me at the hospital, my boys needed me at home as well. 

If I hadn't spent a little time at home I would have missed out
on precious moments like this!

Number Four

Be involved. This goes along with number one. Help take your babe's temperature, change their diapers, give them baths, do skin-to-skin. Ask what the different monitors mean and what is expected of your babies before they can come home. 

Some nurses might make you feel like they can take care of your baby better or faster, but it is YOUR BABY. Some nurses might even make it seem like it's a big deal to let you hold your baby because they have to remove monitors or switch cords around but it is YOUR BABY. Unless a nurse gives you a sound medical reason that your baby should not be moved or held, or that you can't be involved with their care, don't take no for an answer.

You may feel like you are in the way at first, but believe me, your bond with your baby and your nurses will grow as you take responsibility and get involved. 

This is our sweet nurse showing us how to bathe our girls. Doesn't Rob look like
a natural??

Number Five

Ask for free stuff. Most hospitals get piles and piles of free product to distribute as samples to their patients, especially baby stuff. If you plan on formula feeding, ask if they have samples you can stock up on. If you plan on breastfeeding/pumping, check if they have storage bottles you can keep at home. Ask about diaper cream and nipple cream and anything else you haven't had time to shop for during all of the insanity.

Number Six

Make sure it's covered by your insurance. You will be offered plenty of things/care that is not free, and may not be covered by your insurance. Lactation consultants are possibly one of these things. Some hospitals have them on staff, free of charge. Some insurance companies cover lactation consultations. But some hospitals have independent consultants that come into the hospital and offer care to patients THAT IS NOT COVERED.

Also, your Doctor may talk to you about running some tests and he/she might tell you that "it's your choice". If those words are spoken, it might also be coming out of your wallet. Necessary care is most likely covered by your insurance, but if you are given the choice to do a procedure, then it is usually filed under "elective procedures" and you have to foot the bill. 

I know that it's overwhelming, but you can do it! It's been exactly 7 months since my girlies came home from the NICU and it all seems like a distant dream. Look at them now--