Goodbye 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009

14 comments
Wow... New Year's Eve... 2009 is coming to an end.

It seems really nuts that the year is already over. I feel like January sort of skipped me by because I was in a fog of grief. I had just gone back to work after Alexander's maternity leave and I was heartbroken and stressed. February came and we saw Dr Lee and lost another baby to miscarriage when little D didnt implant. March came and we conceived Bobby and Maya. April brought some pink tinting (which led me to think I was losing them), the ultrasound that confirmed two babies, Easter when we shared our news with our families, and when I gave my notice at work. May brought my last day of work and the cerclage, along with bedrest. June was my 29th birthday and I lost my mucus plug; it was also the month that we passed the 16th and 17th weeks, which brought so many thoughts and comparisons to Nicholas and Alexander. July brought us the gestational birthday of Sophia and had me admitted to the hospital. It was the start of the daily countdowns to our milestones... 24w... 26w... the 28w that we were so close to... August=24w; need I say more on how special that was? September saw the out-of-womb exit of Bobby and Maya and had a wonderful baby shower. We celebrated their first Halloween, Maya doubled her birth weight, Bobby crossed the 5lb mark, and the twins were moved in the NICU's Transitional Care Nursery in October. In addition to their first Thanksgiving, the twins both came home, Maya had her eye surgery, and we celebrated and remembered Alexander on his first birthday in November; we passed by our 36w "twin EDD" and cerclage removal date. And, finally, December saw a bevy of first holidays (St Nick's, Solstice, Christmas...); we lived through our EDD and dealt with Maya choking and going to the hospital. We had our first snowfall of winter. I had the first day in almost 2 years where I wasnt in agony when realizing that Nick, Sophie, and Alex are dead. Fleeting, yes, but nonetheless one day.

***

Peter and I began our life together in 1998... 11 years ago... I love him so much. Here's to 111 more years!

***
And so, I leave you with this. Bliain úr faoi shéan is faoi mhaise duit. Happy New Year. May it be prosperous and joyous. May your heart be mended. May your family- especially your children, living and beyond living- be close to you. May you always walk in sunshine and never want for anything. May angels rest their wings outside your door. May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you are going too far. And may God keep you and yours safe. In 2010 and always.

Good and Bad

4 comments
2009 ends on a beautiful and good note with the birth of Ezra's little brother, Micah.

And it ends with heartache as a family mourns the loss of father, son, and baby in a fire.

Update on Glenda

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

6 comments
I received this from Glenda tonight:
I had to deliver 28w2d via c-section with general anesthesia, due to high liver enzymes & low platelets (HELLP). birthday Tuesday, 12/29/09, 3:33am, 2lbs 4.5oz, 13 in. we are both doing well.

Please say a prayer for her and her sweet baby (who is the size Maya was when she was born). A beautiful tiny miracle. Many prayers, folks. Many prayers.

Big Kid Bathtub & Solid Food

Sunday, December 27, 2009

21 comments
We had our second run in the big boy/big girl bathtub! Because we didnt do bathtime last night, I bathed the kids this afternoon prior to their 4pm feeding. Maya was first because she was the most awake.

What a cute face! Little Miss Maya had no tears (and even a few smiles!) during her tubbie time.

Bobby was second and, although he didnt love it as much as Maya, we had no tears and, by the end, I think he may have actually enjoyed the water!

***

We've been adding rice cereal to some of their bottles to help with the reflux. For a few days, I added it to every single one, but I'm not comfortable with that. For one thing, big boy will eat everything he's offered, which means more calories than he needs; for Maya, she would only drink about 2/3 of her rice bottles (so 2-2.5oz versus 3.5 ounces of a formula only bottle), so she was losing calories. We tried it for a few days and are opting to just do it at night before bed and the wake up (or first morning if they sleep all night) bottles. That way, it doesnt impact how much they eat during the day. I also picked up some oatmeal cereal, but dont plan on introducing that until 5-6 months.

Last night, I bought some stage 1 baby food that, according to the label, is for four to six months. I plan on making baby food eventually, but since it was on a killer sale at the market and has no preservatives, etc, thought I'd give it a shot. But, thinking about it, even though the twins turn 16 weeks old on Thursday (I know... 16 weeks... freaking crazy), I'm not really keen on introducing it yet. I dont know... They are showing about half of the developmental cues for eating solids... I think I want to wait a little while longer. I dont know... Thoughts? Tummies arent equipped for solids until 4 months on the early end. Rice cereal was given in the NICU to preemies to help with reflux and I was told that babies can digest that relatively easily; Bobby and Maya havent had any issues, which is nice. But I'm not sure that I want to risk them eating other stuff yet.

On Christmas, they were both trying to attack our brunch plates so (scandal!!!) we dipped our pinkies in A VERY LITTLE BIT of egg yolk (they were poached) and put it to their tongues. Maya seemed disinterested but Bobby- OH BOY!!! His eyes got wide and he lunged toward my plate! It was comical. Poor kid wants food so bad he can taste it! Alas... No food for him for another few weeks at best...

***

We did our 2010 budget today. Thank God we are okay with me staying at home. What a huge relief that is. There is so much to worry about but, as long as we live within our means, we should be okay financially. It's been a long road to this point and I am so thankful.

***

Bought my Christmas cards for next year. I'm a sucker for 50% off sales. :) And, because I'm crazy like that, I've already signed enough for next year's mailing list... They just need to be addressed (which I wont do until next Thanksgiving...) I know... I'm a freak...

***

Well, my house is a wreck and the grown ups need dinner. I've got a lot of stuff floating in my head, but that is for another post...

4 more days until 2009 is a thing of the past...

Christmas follow-up

Saturday, December 26, 2009

16 comments


It's the day after Christmas... The year is nearly over... Less than a week until we turn the corner into 2010, but for now we are stuck looking it in the face...

It struck me just now that our tree is so special because of the ornaments on it. Peter and I have purchased ornaments for our tree since we've had our own tree to put up! From the Lenox "Holy Family" ornament we bought the first year he took me to Macy's in NYC (where I also met Santa!) to the one we bought this year of a pregnant Mary being led on a donkey by Joseph, these are some of the most treasured ornaments we have and each has a story. But none compare to the ones that are for our children. As I sat here and thought about them, I decided to post pictures and explain each one on the picture blog. Along with ornaments, I also posted the pictures from Christmas Eve and Christmas. I still have a few more Christmas ones (that other people took) that I'll update the posts with eventually.

For Christmas Eve, Peter and I shared remembrances of all our babies, from the first pregnancy we had in Oct 2000 that ended in an early miscarriage (but one that I didnt find out about until much later because we didnt have insurance and I hadnt had an ultrasound) and each baby thereafter. We talked about the joy of finding out we were pregnant that first time, we felt, with a boy named Peter. How he would be such a big boy now... How we bought that first, special "baby" ornament for him. We remembered the long journey that led us to Dr Lee and how we were blown away by the joyful news that we were expecting twins in late 2007. What a special Christmas! And even more special when our friends, Katie and John, gave us a special "baby's first Christmas" ornament for them. I remember hanging that ornament front and center on our tree, as we all discussed how different Christmas 2008 would be with twins playing in paper. We talked about ordering their two birth ornaments in Feb 2008, still full of grief, but wanting that tangible heart to remind us- and everyone who saw our tree- of the babies that we had held and loved... the babies we would miss forever. We remembered little Zoe, whom we conceived and held inside for only a few weeks... A little girl that was due on her big sister, Sophia's, birthday... A little girl that we felt and were so thrilled to learn had come to be in my womb, only to leave us so suddenly, paving the way for her little brother. We talked about Alexander, how he loved to kick... How we had planned on showing off his nursery the day after Thanksgiving, when we trimmed our tree for his first (in-utero) Christmas and Nick & Sophie's first Christmas on the outside. How, instead, we were ordering his birth ornament mere days after he was born and paying for overnight shipping so that it could be here. How we forced ourselves to make the house festive, as to not make his first Christmas dark and dreary, even as we were crushed inside. We smiled as we remembered baby Dimitri, a little spark in our broken hearts, but a baby that didnt implant, giving us only days until he joined his older siblings in heaven. And then, as they stirred across the room from us, we marveled at Bobby and Maya, born 3 months early but growing and developing on target and making this Christmas brighter by their laughter and smiles. We remembered their birth ornaments arriving in the mail, getting their "first Christmas" outfits, and we talked about dressing them up for church, Maya in 2 new outfits and Bobby in outfits made with love for his daddy and uncle, thirty plus years ago. Our hearts are full. Our hearts are broken. Our hearts beat so that our children go on... So that we do, too.

Christmas Eve evening, we went to my in-laws for a Puerto Rican style meal with stuffed pork, Spanish rice, and sweet plantains. I made brownies and pineapple upside down cake for dessert. Most of us continued our evening at Christmas Eve Mass, where we were able to connect with dear friends and celebrate that night, so many years ago, when a pregnant woman gave birth, alone save her betrothed, in a dirty stable. We dressed our children in their finery to celebrate her son, wrapped in rags, with only soft straw for his bed.


Christmas morning, we woke at 5:30 so that we could get the kids fed and ready for Christmas Mass, which I cantored. Bobby had worn the suit Peter was Christened in for Christmas Eve, so we put him in his Uncle Robert's suit for Christmas, while our little princess was decked out in a red dress (and her Uncle Robert's shoes!). As they had on the Eve, they were perfect during church. My MIL told me that every time I started to sing, Maya would look around for me. It was so hard to spend that hour not holding them, but I was glad to get back into serving. Starting in March, I'll be back on that schedule (and in January, I actually go back on the Sacristan schedule); Peter will begin as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and as a lector in January as well. But, I digress... Christmas Mass was lovely and the kids were spectacular.


Folks came to our place for presents and brunch. In addition to crudite, cheese, and fruit, I made a crab eggs benedict (using homemade crab cakes in lieu of Canadian bacon). They were a hit! (Or maybe it was the mimosas that made it so...) ;) The kids were spoiled with gifts from relatives, friends, and bloggers- you guys are too much!!! Thank you so much for your generosity. (For those who sent them money, we have decided to not use that on "baby products" but rather to start savings accounts for them, so you are contributing to their college educations!) They received many clothes, toys, and we are so thankful to be surrounded with such love for them. That, truly, is the most important gift they can receive.

We spent the afternoon just lounging around and then headed to Peter's aunt's home for a traditional Christmas dinner. The kids (in yet another outfit!), were in "Baby's First Christmas" outfits, courtesy of Aunt Ann and Uncle Michael, our dear friends (who were married on Halloween and our presently on honeymoon!!!).
Those outfits were not only warm but pretty darn cute for photo ops!

We finally got them home around 10pm and just puttered around until we put them in their Christmas sleepers (thank you to Great-Aunt Amy in Guam!), fed them, and got them off to bed, somewhere in the vicinity of 2am... That probably explains why I am still in my pajamas and havent gotten much done, save drinking on a pot of coffee...


***

Looking back over the last 2 years, I am reminded of my many blessings, even in heartache. As 2009 comes to a close and we begin a new decade, I am hopeful for many things... health, happiness, love. I hope that for all of you, as well. May you all be touched by THE Christmas Miracle as you (hopefully) find miracles of your own this season. And may 2009 end peacefully and bring us all much joy in 2010.

Psych

4 comments
We dont let the twins "watch" TV (although Bobby especially will try... the other night, he kept turning and twisting to try and watch football. I had to physically move to such a spot that he couldnt see). However they seem to love the Psych theme song. They laugh and smile and dance! For those who have never seen it, Psych is about a fake psychic who assists the police in solving crimes by using his attention to detail. Funny show. We discovered it while I was in the hospital and are now catching up on old episodes via the joys of DVD... Thank you, eBay!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2009

5 comments
Christos Gennatai!


Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

***


Of all the literature about Christmas, perhaps the best-loved is Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. The story moves forward through the encounter of Scrooge with three ghosts: The Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. As he journeys through time, Scrooge’s legendary meanness is challenged, and he undergoes a profound change of heart.

The entire story takes place within less than 24 hours, from Christmas Eve to the morning of Christmas Day. Despite the Christmas setting, religion is hardly present. You could interpret the whole thing as a secular parable about our need to be generous and compassionate. Many in Britain today would say as much. Who needs religion for human improvement? Bah, humbug!

And yet, look again at the story. In the first chapter, this is how Dickens describes Scrooge:

‘Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!’

Scrooge’s love of money has made him not only hard-hearted, but a sinner. This is religious language. And that is not all. The key to Scrooge’s change is the glimpse of his own mortality. Here, too, there is a hint of religion as Scrooge suddenly gets perspective on the worthlessness of his life. He sees that if he continues to be the person he is, no one will mourn him, no one will miss him when he is gone. To seal the message he glimpses his own gravestone. Then, in a wonderful moment of Dickensian humour, Scrooge stretches out his hand to plead with his grim guide. He clutches the hand of the ghost and begs for a second chance, only to wake up and find that he is clutching … the bedpost. It has all been a terrible dream.

Or has it? Because it turns out to be a life-changing experience for Scrooge. And notice what the change is. He recovers the ability to feel, and this is shown above all in his treatment of the family of a handicapped child, Tiny Tim. Scrooge shudders at the thought of their suffering because of the child’s premature death.

Where he was mean, he now becomes generous. Where he was closed, he now becomes open. Where he was dead, he is now alive. He sends them the biggest turkey. He goes to church. He invites himself to his nephew’s house for Christmas dinner. Not only is Scrooge changed in his attitude to others, he is changed in his attitude to himself. He is born again.

A second chance. Coming alive. Openness. Feeling the sufferings, hopes, joys of others. No wonder Dickens set the story at the heart of Christmas, because without Christmas the story would have made no sense. At Christmas we remember God coming
to the world to give it another chance, to bring it new life. And God does it in a way that tugs our hearts: the glimpse of the holy child in the manger. Through this mystery, Christ present as a vulnerable infant, God invites us to recover our feelings. Deep down we know this. This is why families gather. This is why charities make appeals at this time of year. This is why hospitality is at the forefront of our thoughts. For a moment, we see the world as it could be: a place where everyone matters, a world where no one suffers alone, a world we feel for each other, and in doing so, learn to care for each other.

Of course, we know how the story of Christ will unforld. The child will grow up and become the great teacher. His death will distress us, and his resurrection is the turning-point of the world. Because we see the whole of his life, we will learn to bring the whole of our life and see it differently. For now, though, it is enough to stand with the shepherds and watch with awe. God does this for us. God loves us enough to come to us in this way. God does not come to us as a plan for self-improvement. God comes to us as a vision of love. Yes, he challenges us to live differently, but as he challenges he inspires at the same time.

God cares for us enough to come among us as one of us, as that oh-so-vulnerable child, and reaches out to us. If you feel that you want to protect and love that infant, then already Christ has opened your heart, and you will find to your astonishment that God loves you. We know, deep in our hearts, that the tender love, of this human scene is a wonderful image of God’s tender love for us. This is a love that inspires us: a love that we are now challenged to show to one another.

This is why Christmas became so great a feast: it shows us the possibilities of another, very different world. In this new world we are at peace because we are at home with God who has made his home with us.

Fr Terry Tastard is parish priest (pastor) of Holy Trinity, Brook Green, in the Hammersmith area of London.

Happy Christmas Eve 2009!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

11 comments
And HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIMI!!! (aka my mom) We miss you and wish that we could be with you to celebrate. We love you!!!
***

I have a confession to make... In this season of confessions, I feel it is only appropriate. :) I let Bobby and Maya sleep on their tummies.

Now, before you tell me I'm a horrid person, we do NOT let them sleep on their bellies in their crib when we are in bed asleep. But, after they eat, if I can't hold them upright (because I need to feed the other) or if they are sound asleep and I'd like to wash laundry, do dishes, etc, I lay them on their bellies in their bassinet and do housework. I check on them constantly and, if I am more than one room away, I have a monitor in with them and a monitor with me. And, because I really buck the system, I also lay a burp cloth or sheet saver underneath them. I check on them every few minutes and adjust things as needed, but they digest so much better and rest so much easier than when on their backs. At bed time, when we arent checking on them every few minutes, it is back-to-sleep only, but during the day, they do have some sleeping tummy time.

And while I've been told that I should be ashamed of myself for "risking their lives" by letting them rest on their tummies, I really dont. Yes, children can smother themselves if left alone and unsupervised on their tummies or own burp clothes or in cribs with bumpers. I dont mean to imply otherwise. But I also think that diligent parenting can help prevent some problems. And, seeing as Maya can already roll over from her back to her belly, it isnt as though I can stop them all the time. (And, although I hate when people use this example to tell me how to parent, I will stoop to the "my mom put me on my stomach and I'm fine" comment.)

So, all in all, back to sleep is best. But, I've found that tummy to sleep, as long as watched like a hawk, is okay after eating if you need to toss a load in the washer or put away dishes.

And, while I'm confessing... I just started adding rice cereal to their bottles. After the instance with Maya (which was a week ago- can you believe it???) and the fact that Bobby has a mild case of reflux (his only issue was spitting up if placed down immediately after feeding), I've been paranoid about putting them to bed at night after their early a.m. feeding (words like "Honey, what if she chokes???" had become mainstream). So, after doing some research, we decided to try adding some rice cereal to help thicken the formula. I picked up rice cereal at our local market and added it to one bottle each, to try and gauge if we were going to have an intestinal issue (since rice cereal isnt always well tolerated prior to 4 months old; the twins are 15 weeks old today). They seemed to dig the taste for the one bottle (which we gave prior to bed) but were hungry for more than their bottle! And were hungry in 4 hours (rice cereal additions, I'd read, would give you more time between feeds). We did the same thing the next night: no issues and still hungry 4 hours later. So, yesterday, I made all the bottles with the cereal added. They both took their full bottles (Bobby actually took more than his normal on one and Maya finished every single one- a big feat for our little princess!) but the biggest thing was that, over night, they slept an 8 hour stretch! I dont know if that will be the norm, but I was really shocked! We fed them at 8pm and 8:30pm, put them to bed at midnight (assuming they'd want another bottle and shocked when they both stayed asleep even as we moved them from downstairs to their crib upstairs) and then Bobby didnt wake until 4am and Maya around 4:45am! WOW!

Okay... Confession over...

***

It's Christmas Eve... I can't believe we are already here. Christmas always feels like the end of the year for me, even though we have a few more days, and it seems nuts that we are already ending 2009.

I realized today while making breakfast that we saw Dr Lee for the first time on Sept 14, 2007. Bobby and Maya were born almost 2 years to the day after we first started treatment. In between Sept 14, 2007 and Mar 13, 2009, Dr Lee helped us add seven beautiful children to our family that only had one beautiful baby until then. Even though I have only two living children, I am so grateful for every fleeting moment we had with every single one. Merry Christmas to me for being able to have those seconds of motherhood and for being able to mother Bobby and Maya on earth.

***
Update from Glenda: "Thank you, Michele, for calling on your support people for me. We are doing well for now. It has been a good day. Praising God for the time I have to slow down, feel her moving, and hear her heartbeat so much! It is a miracle of God that any pregnancy occurs and survives! "

Thank you for all the prayers and thoughts for this dear woman and her daughter. Keep them coming! Hopefully I can post a birth announcement in TWELVE weeks! :)

Prayer Request

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

9 comments
Please pray for Glenda and her baby girl. She has been admitted to the hospital due to preeclampsia. She is 27w3d and her baby is measuring around 2lb4oz. She has had her steroid injections, but the closer she gets to the next 12 weeks, the better.

Please say a prayer and ask for a Christmas miracle.

Happy 13m Birthday, Alexander

12 comments
Wow... Over a year now... Happy Birthday, my beautiful son. I love you.

Snow Bunnies

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

20 comments


Click here for more...

Advanced

14 comments
Woo Hoo! The developmental specialists from the county just visited to assess the babies!!! Since they were due on Dec 5th, they are technically viewed as 17 days old (even though they are 14+ weeks old biologically). A developmental specialist, speech therapist, and case worker came at 9am for their first assessment. If the babies were on par at 2 weeks, then they would want to see them ever 2 weeks; if they were underdeveloped, then weekly, if over developed monthly. Well... They want to see them in...

3 MONTHS!!!

Bobby was assessed at 2+ months and Maya at 1-2+ months (she was sleeping, so some of the items they marked as 1 month and others at 2 months). Because they werent prepared for them to be so high speed, they didnt bring any developmentals for them to play with to see if they were at a 3 month level. Bobby was also hungry, so he was a little frustrated at times, but all in all, they both (when she was awake) behaved well for being with strangers.

I am just so relieved. Having preemies born 3 months early, the idea of developmental and learning delays is just something you are told to prepare for. While these early intervention assessments are, in no way, fool proof or trying to placate parents into believing life will be trouble free, they are static tools that can give you an idea of where your baby falls on the grid. Knowing that they are on par with babies that are near their birth age is a relief and gives me hope that they will have full and productive lives, in spite of their earlier-than-anticipated start.

***

Last night, I had a good cry. It hit me that Alexander would be over a year old now and that Nicholas & Sophia would be preparing for their 2nd (outside of the womb) Christmas. Instead, they have ornaments on a tree and stockings on a wall, but there are no gifts addressed to them... no cute outfits for them to wear... no figuring out how to organize five toddlers/infants at church... It just cut through me. Even though I know they will have a special, heavenly Christmas, it hurts that it isnt one I can physically share with them.

***

Our church has a nativity (as I'm sure many Catholic and even non-Catholic, Christian churches have). I'd like to get a family picture. I'll be bringing their box with me, because I cant imagine a "family" picture not including a physical representation of them.

***

We signed our Christmas cards "the Haytko family". It is the only signature that fully captures our entire family. Why does it hurt so damn much to see our names written out on cards we receive? I know that people dont send cards addressed to dead children, but it still hurts to read "to Peter, Michele, Bobby, and Maya". This isnt to say that I think people should write "to Peter, Michele, Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander, Bobby, and Maya". It just hurts to read and know their names are missing. I know it is part of the world around us living on... Maybe that just makes it hurt more.

Peter told me that, after Robert died, he used to still sign both their names to cards. His name he signed in ink; Robert's name he signed with the cap on the pen. If you looked closely, you'd see the hint of his name... Always there; even if not visible. It's sort of how I feel signing "the Haytko family". There... Just quietly.

***

I'll be uploading video on the picture site today. I havent posted video in a while...

Happy Winter Solstice!

Monday, December 21, 2009

6 comments

Happy Midwinter!!! (click here and here to find out what makes today the Winter Solstice and how it is celebrated around the world)

We decided early on that we didnt want the kids to load up on gifts on Christmas Day. Instead, we would rather celebrate many holidays with, perhaps, a gift on each one. First was St. Nicholas's Day (where the kids got new soothies). For Solstice, they are getting snow suits! Pretty fitting, seeing as it is the official start of winter and, even better, they can wear them to church on Christmas Eve and Christmas. They'll get a gift on Christmas and then a gift on Three Kings Day (Jan 6/Epiphany).

Of course, because of everyone else, it's not like they wont have tons to open on Christmas, too, but we wanted the focus to be on attending Mass and being with family, celebrating the birth of Jesus.

On Solstice, though, we look to how similar our celebrations are around the world. It is a time of joining together, putting our differences aside, and beginning the start of the new year. A time to burn the old yule log and toss in our failures of the year along with our hopes and resolutions for the new. A time to celebrate the shortest day of the year and realize that, tomorrow, we begin the ascent towards summer. A beautiful day indeed.

***

The sun, the Son is born today...
Light of the world to light our way...
Through a warm winter or one full of snow...
His love grows.

Light the Yule Log for the darkest night is among us.
Light is replaced by dark though the ways of nature are just.
Deck the halls with red and green...
Welcome new life while the carolers sing
"Glory to God, the holly king"
Born again, so these gifts we bring...

The sun, the Son is born today...
Light of the world to light our way...
Through a warm winter or one full of snow...
His love grows.

As the sun shines through frosty glass, trim the Yule tree
Share nature's bounty with joy and health while glad tidings you bring
Light the frankincense and myrrh...
Feed the newly awakened birds...
Dance with joy to the world...
Stoke the fire with holly wood...

The sun, the Son is born today...
Light of the world to light our way...
Through a warm winter or one full of snow...
His love grows.

A child is born to save us all from a life without light.
As He grows from boy to man and God, He leads us through the night.
The sun is reborn, our weather warms, and we are overcome with glee.
On this Yule morning, we shout with joy for the birth of our king.

Gather everyone around the table; gather for the feast.
Remember though death was among us before, our sadness is replaced by peace.
Celebrate with fruit and wine...
Remember the sacred time...
Celebrate with ritual and with rhyme...
Show love to all kind...

The sun, the Son is born today...
Light of the world to light our way...
Through a warm winter or one full of snow...
His love grows.

All Dressed Up

Sunday, December 20, 2009

14 comments
We took the kids to Mass this morning to celebrate the final Sunday of Advent.

We dressed Bobby up in a little sailor style outfit (with hand knitted shoes by a dear internet friend from Pittsburgh).

Maya was pretty in pink (with her handmade shoes, too!) and was more than happy to show off those chunky monkey thighs! So cute!

At Mass today, as I was enjoying holding Maya and watching Peter hold Bobby, listening to a beautiful message, I was caught off guard when, as we prayed for the dead, a certain name was mentioned... The name of the son of friends. We'd been praying for this 38 year old man who was suffering from testicular cancer for some time now and, 2 weeks ago, when I spoke to his mother, they were hoping he would be home from the hospital for Christmas. But this was not to be. This young man, himself the father of an infant, went in for an x-ray last week because they thought he had come down with pneumonia. What they found was cancer. Everywhere. He was told that his days were numbered and sent home. He was on Hospice for one day and died, surrounded by his family, late last night.

As I filled out a Mass card to mail to his mourning parents, I just cracked open and the feelings of losing Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander rose to the surface. Even though this man had nothing in common with my children... Even though his family had 38 wonderful years and I had mere moments with my children, I know that when his mother looked into his face, she saw the face of her baby, this child that she birthed almost 4 decades ago. That doesnt change. They are always your baby, no matter how old they really are. It was crushing... I sat a the table, trying to find words where there are none, and silently sobbed, knowing that this family is grieving.

Tonight, no matter what you are doing, please do me this favor: stop and say a prayer. Say a prayer for the mothers and fathers mourning children; for the children mourning parents; for the brothers mourning sisters and the sisters mourning brothers. There is so much shared pain in the world; perhaps this prayer can help hold together someone else's broken heart.

Bath Time Drama

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12 comments
Do we really have babies in the house? Or is it banshees? ;)

Since we skipped Wednesday night baths (for obvious reasons), the kids havent been bathed in a week (I've been doing Wed and Sat nights) so tonight was THE night.

We decided that, instead of bathing them in their tub, we would attempt a method suggested by our mothers: bathing them with one of us in the tub. Maya went first. There was some crying but she soon settled and we did a full bath with head washing. Then Peter took her and, after drying her off, gave Bobby to me. (Instead of me getting out and then trying to get into a slippery tub with babies, I got in the tub and he handled chauffeuring the babies). Bobby wasnt as keen on hanging out with mama as Maya and we had a little longer of crying unless he was laying on my chest with his lower half in the water where, in typical boy fashion, he let out some of the stinkiest farts! Finally, I was able to calm him enough to lay him on my knees and give him a good washing and he was calm until hair washing. Normally, this is the favorite aspect of bath time but not tonight. But, when I was finished, he calmed down until Peter lifted him out and dried him off.

I'm sure part of it is that they were hungry. While Peter was dressing Bobby, I dried off and dressed, then fed the MayaMonster (who is currently laying on my chest, looking up at me with her beautiful blue eyes). Peter is feeding Bobby now. And all is well that ends well...

***

We are currently being showered with snow... Lovely, soft snow... I braved the crazies to finish my shopping and to pick up wine (because, really, if there is a silver lining in having my milk dry up, it is a tie between wine and caffeinated coffee).

It's really lovely. Of course, that's because I dont shovel I'm sure! We have our (gas) stove that lights (and warms) the house up with a beautiful glow. I love watching the flames; they are so entrancing. Especially with a cup of said coffee... Mmmm...

We Are Fine

Friday, December 18, 2009

17 comments
Thank you for the emails and comments of support and love. We are doing well. Maya seems to be absolutely fine and is back to normal. I've had a few spells of tears as thoughts of "what if" continue to bounce back and forth, but I just try to accept them and move on. Being in the living room and feeding Maya are the worst; I've had to force myself to sit in the living room and realize that Maya is fine. Feeding her, I have been (probably) over rigid in watching her, but I just have to be right now.

But we are fine. She is fine. Bobby is fine. I just keep telling myself this when I feel a freak-out coming on. We are fine.


We are fine.

It Was Only a Matter Of Time...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

47 comments
Honestly, I am surprised my blog survived this long without "Anonymous" making his/her rounds. I always wondered when I'd get some venom; I just never assumed it would be on a picture of Maya. So, Anonymous, whomever you are, please know that I am not publishing your comment attached to a picture of my sweet daughter, but I will publish it here and address you openly. You are lucky that I think the First Amendment is pretty darn important, librarian that I am, because even though what you wrote disgusts me, I still think you have the right to verbalize your own opinions.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "This Face...":

I think shes beautiful but its kinda sad that you dont accept your younger children as their own individuals but rather your older ones in them instead themselves. I also think its sad that you still would want to have your older children instead those you have now. Boby and Maya will grow up feeling your distance and will grow up feeling guilty for taking place of your older children and they will feel you dont want them, but rather have your first children instead and they will end up feeling your rejection. I wish you cherished them and love them instead

Posted by Anonymous to My Life After Loss at December 16, 2009 8:24 PM

First off, I think my daughter is beautiful too. As to accepting Bobby and Maya as their own individuals: I'm not sure what led you to that conclusion. I dont believe for one second that Nicholas, Sophia, or Alexander somehow came back to life in their younger siblings. Bobby and Maya are their own unique souls with their own special destinies. However, just as I am sure my mother looks at me and sees a bit of herself because, after all, she raised me and I am her daughter, I would be lying if I said that I didnt see parts of their older siblings in them. Sophia's eyes... Nicholas's head shape... Alexander's dimples... They are siblings. It is only natural that they would favor one another.

As to wanting Nicholas, Sophia, or Alexander back at the expense of Bobby and Maya. Perhaps you dont read my blog and just stumbled across Maya's picture. I dont know. But I sure as hell know that, if you actually read it, you wouldn't have this misguided view. I have said on more than one occasion that I wouldnt, for all in the world, give up my children. ANY of them. In order for me to have had the privilege to mother them all, God had to call some of them Home. I dont like it. I will always have sorrow in my heart. But my heart is also filled with love and gladness. I cant imagine a life without every single one of my children and I accept that my lot in life is to hold some of them in my heart alone and some in my heart and arms. To imply- no, to actually come out and say- that I dont love and cherish Bobby and Maya with my entire being is to only show your ignorance of me and my family. Play your hate somewhere else, because it doesnt belong here.

After I read the comment by anonymous, I briefly thought of turning off the anonymous commenting feature, but I realize then that person, whomever they are, gets what they want. Too many of us change OUR way of expression because of this person (or these people) who troll infertility and loss blogs, spouting off nonsense. Not going to happen here. I value everyone's freedom to say what they want, especially my own. (Oh, and by the way, it's really brave to write shit under the name "Anonymous". And, Anon, if you didnt get the sarcasm, my voice is dripping with it...)

But enough about that pointless chatter... I do have real things to blog about.

***

One in three preemies ends up back in the hospital. We are no exception, although I'm really hoping that we arent the 2 out of 6. Maya was taken by ambulance to our local hospital late last night. She is fine now. Please dont worry. And thank you for the prayers that I know will be said on her behalf, in advance.

Last night, Peter had just fed her and she had taken way more (5.5 ounces) than normal. He went to burp her and she stopped breathing. We tried patting her back and applying pressure to her tummy to make her vomit, but nothing. She began to turn blue and her eyes widened. I called 911 and Peter used a bulb syringe to suction her nose and mouth. By the time the Police arrived (within a minute) and the EMTs soon after, she was on her changing table and breathing. The suctioning removed huge chunks of mucus (Maya has always had more secretions than Bobby and required more suctioning in the hospital) and then formula began coming out of her nose and mouth and she tried to cry. It was such a welcomed sound. The paramedic checked her out while I called our pediatrician.

I have never been happier to a) live in a small town where we are a stones throw from police/fire/ems; b) live in a small town where the local pediatrician still answers her own cell phone when you call after hours; and c) be within 15 minutes of a hospital (even if it isnt one I'd deliver in because even though they have no NICU, they do have CHOP pediatricians).

The paramedic said she looked fine and was breathing but to find out how our doctor wanted her handled. Dr W said that she would prefer that Maya be transported to the hospital and kept for observation, just to make sure she was okay and didnt have a repeat episode. As we were getting Maya into her bundleme and carseat, she vomited up the entire bottle she'd eaten and let out a huge cry. As she clung to me, I was so grateful that she was breathing well enough to sob. She even gave me a "mean Maya" glare as I undressed and redressed her. Her carseat was strapped to the gurney and I rode with her in the ambulance while Peter followed behind with Bobby. The EMTs stayed with us in the Emergency room triage room we were in until we started to be seen.

Chunky Monkey now weighs (with a onesie and diaper) 7lb 3oz. Her lungs were clear and she was hungry (big surprise after puking up everything she ate). I held her and then Peter laid down on the bed with her and held her. A sweet (and very young) orderly came in after he walked by and saw me laying my head on Peter's legs while sitting in a chair, and brought a large comfy rocking chair and two warm blankets. He was so kind. It was an unexpected gesture and one that really lifted me up.

We were in the ER area until 2:30 am when they moved us to a private room. Even though the rules say no children under 18 (thank you Swine Flu) and only one parent overnight in Pediatrics, the doctor made the concession to let us all stay together and Maya's nurse, herself a twin mom, offered cosleeping as an option. I was ready to hold Bobby all night, but when she offered to let him sleep with Maya after inquiring as to whether the cosleep at home, my heart just about leapt out of my chest. Once they were together, they slept so soundly, nuzzled together.

Maya was on monitors from when she arrived around 10pm until we were discharged around 1pm today. Her O2 numbers were always in the high 90s-100 (they wanted them 93+ when sleeping, 95+ when awake), she had a good respiratory rate and heartrate. She ate 2oz at her first 2 feedings in the hospital and almost 3oz at her final one later in the morning. Peter just fed her 2 more oz.

The initial doctor wanted to keep her for at least 2 days, observation last night and then do a numogram today. Basically, they would put something similar to an OG tube in, to find out if Maya was suffering from reflux. Her best guess was that this was reflux situation; Peter and I both thought that it was a combination of her eating a lot, having a lot of mucus build up, and then perhaps getting secretions lodged in her airway and being unable to move it on her own. This is from our experiences with Maya and her history of no reflux. So, we asked that, come this morning, they consult with the neonatologists and come to a recommendation with their advice. So, the doctor this morning called the head of Lankanau's neonatology and after some time (there was an emergency delivery so he was a tad busy), they touched base. He filled her in on Maya's history and said that, in his opinion, what was done was enough. That, had he been treating her, he would have kept her for observation but felt that more testing, at this point, wasnt needed. His feeling was that, if it happens again, yes definitely, but that she has no history to lead us to think this was reflux related and SINCE it happened during a feed AND SINCE she ate a lot more than normal AND WITH the mucus removed... he thinks she is fine. So, we are to not feed her more each feed, to burp her even more often than we normally do, and to suction her daily since the air is dryer, etc with the heat. We also will follow up with Dr W early next week.

They had their Prevnar immunization on the 15th, but we dont think that played into her issue on the night of the 16th. It was post 24 hours from the shot and, while after shots they do tend to be more clingy and want to eat less food more often (which happened yesterday), they had no redness at the injection site, no rash, and, if she were to have an allergic reaction that caused an issue with her windpipe, all signs point to it happening prior to 9pm last night, when all this went down.

***

I have to be honest here. I am a mess. I have had several moments where I have just broken down into sobs. One was when my MIL came to the hospital this morning. She walked in and as soon as she asked "how are you", the lie of "okay" couldnt come out and I just sobbed. Another was getting home. I walked into the living room, where the choking happened, and as soon as I saw the couch, the empty bottle, the drink glasses Peter and I had last night and the room in disarray, I just saw her face. Her beautiful face, swollen and turning blue, those little lips open and purple, her eyes wide and bulging. Even though the moment lasted seconds- perhaps a minute at the longest- before she was breathing again, it played out in lifetime slowness and I choked on my sob. Peter just held me. All I could say, all I could think, was "my baby girl... we almost lost my sweet, baby girl... my Maya". I am frozen just remembering it right now. Even though I see her laying peacefully on her daddy's chest after another uneventful feeding and I can hear her sweet little snore, I feel my stomach tighten and my heart pulled at how close we came. I cant even think of the "what if" statements that want to float in my head. I just cant. It is too much. Too raw.

As I watched her sleep last night, watched the flickering red numbers of the monitor telling me that what I saw was true and that she was, indeed, alright, all I could think was "Lord, havent we been through enough???" I know that my Mamaw says that God never gives you more than you can handle, but really, I think God has set some high standards for me and I'm struggling to live up. I'm not this strong, Lord. I'm really not. I cant handle the possibility of losing Bobby or Maya. I used to think Peter dying would be the thing that crushed me beyond repair, but I know now that I could survive that, just as I have survived losing Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander, and our sweet little miscarried saints. I know that I told God, not so long ago, that I was so grateful for just these few precious months that I trusted I could return them to Him if that was their destiny and fate. But, God, I was wrong.

I was dead wrong.

I cant. I'm not that strong. I know now, for a fact, that I couldnt survive this. My heart couldnt continue beating. Holding Bobby right now, feeling his little hands holding me as though I am the only thing in the world, watching Maya hold Peter the same way... Please. I cant take another child returning Home before me. If someone needs to go, please let it be me. But let their work be here on earth for another, I dont know, 100 years or so? (And, I'd like Peter and I to be here for most of that, if possible...)

***

Maya is fine. I know that. If something were going to happen, it would have been last night. But I am still on edge.

And feeling like I should just go ahead and buy stock in our local EMS (who once again, did a kick ass job at treating our family like their own).

This Face...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

6 comments


Today, seeing Maya's beautiful face, reminds me so much of what her big sister would look like... Sophia's eyes staring back at me...

Happy 22m Birthday, Sophia

7 comments
Happy 22 month birthday, princess.

Twenty-Five

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

11 comments
That's how many minutes I lasted in the pool before I thought I might actually have my arms and legs revolt. 25 minutes. I'm not even sure that counts as a real workout! But, my arms and especially my legs feel like they worked something terrible! It was hard being away from the peanuts. Peter and they shared a nap and he enjoyed his alone time with them but it was rough on me...

We had Maya's eye appt today and the retinologist gave her a great review! He said that she looks just as he'd hoped and that we dont have to return for 3 months!!! She is also cleared to visit the ophthalmologist with Bobby. I'm going to call Dr L (who will see Bobby next week) and ask if he wants to see Maya at the same time or if we should make her first appt and Bobby's next one (which will be in 3 months). We also went to the pediatrician for their Prevnar injection. I dont think it will ever NOT hurt to watch them get a shot, to watch their little eyes go from happy world to shock and then the cry of WHATTHEHELLJUSTHAPPENED!!!! It hurts me more than them!

-

I made a yummy dinner tonight of salad and baked yams topped with salmon. As Peter and I sat down, in the dining room no less, with a glass of wine and the Christmas tree twinkling in the background, while Bobby and Maya amused themselves, the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" came on. At the line "Through the years we all will be together if the fates allow...", I found myself overcome with emotion. We all will be together... If only it were the fates I were fighting. If only... If... Through the years we will only all be together in my memories.

-

My mother-in-law found the outfits that both Peter and his brother were baptized in. We'd hoped to put Bobby in Peter's after the Christening, but our big boy is, well, big! So, instead he will wear his Uncle Robert's on Christmas Eve and his daddy's on Christmas. They are cute little suits. I will post pictures. (Maya doesnt have hand-me-downs but has two adorable little dresses!)

-

My heart is heavy tonight for dear Sarah at Dreams and False Alarms. Please stop by and show her some love.

Happy Birthday, Jimmy

6 comments

Today, my baby brother turns (gulp) 26... Not so much of a baby anymore. Especially since he has a baby of his own!

So...

Monday, December 14, 2009

8 comments
...I did it. I just parted with some of my (husband's) hard earned paycheck and joined the Y. Classes start the first week of January but I can use the Y for equipment, swimming, etc, until then. Who knows... Maybe I will start off tomorrow with a swim. We'll see.

Baby Weight

Sunday, December 13, 2009

16 comments
"So, when are you going to lose the baby weight?"

This comment from an aunt yesterday, when we had people for lunch. I guess it wouldnt have stung so much, except that I am a few pounds lighter than my weight at conception. Yeah. Nice.

To deflect the sting, I made some smart ass comment about my butt being big, my belly being flabby, and my tatas sagging. But, it stung. I would never admit to that, of course (I mean, that might chink my armor) but, honestly, it hurt.

I've been discussing going back to the gym with Peter because I realize it is something I need to do. The bedrest worked a number on my back, abs, and legs. I do NEED to do something. I've always been a big girl and I'm (somewhat) at terms with that. I do yoga at home, on occasion, but I could benefit from getting my butt back into a kickboxing or RPM class, or by swimming a few laps a couple of times a week. I know I need to do this. I want to do this. But, I guess hearing people tell me I look "great" after having twins, I kind of thought... Well... That I looked okay. I mean, I'm back in pants that I couldnt wear since before Nick and Sophie.

But. (or is that "butt"?)

So. Here we are. Me looking at the gym schedule and preparing to part with several hundreds of dollars for the year membership. Yuck. In addition to trying to figure out a class schedule that will work with Peter's work schedule, I know it's going to suck getting up in the mornings. I could, of course, do stuff at home. But will I? Probably not. I'm not big in the "workout will power" section. Of course, owning a gym membership doesnt fix that. But I'm hoping that it would do something for me since knowing that is money I cant use on diapers.

Not to mention, an investment in myself is an investment in the twins. My knees are hurting and my back is killing me. I know that I lost (what little) muscle tone I had being in bed for 16 weeks. Come spring, I want to be able to enjoy the little ones at the park. I enjoy walking to the super market; I dont want to hurt when doing that. And I'd really, really like to not wake up with a backache. So... the gym wins. As much as I hate it. (And as much as I hate the "New Year's Resolution Gymers" that I am going to encounter (and haggle with in the too-small parking lot) when I go back.) I'm hoping our insurance offers a discount because budgeting in a gym membership isnt going to be fun. But I have to do something. I cant stay at this weight and I cant start off the babies with an unhealthy mom. They need better than that. They sure as hell deserve it.

***

This question, however, leads me to another one: "When are you going to lose the baby wait?"

That's what we've been doing, really, for years. Over a decade. A baby wait. Everything has revolved around it. Waiting on baby. Even the opening page of Nicholas and Sophia's baby book says "Waiting for Babies".

You'd think with Bobby and Maya home safely, I'd feel out of the baby wait. But I dont. I just feel like it has shifted gears. Instead of waiting to get pregnant, waiting to get out of the first trimester, waiting to get passed the point of viability, waiting on labor, waiting to leave the NICU... Now, I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for something "bad". It almost feels impossible that we could be lucky and have no real issues... No returns to the hospital. (Preemies have a 1 in 3 chance of getting admitted back into the hospital if they are discharged during winter.) No challenges as a result of prematurity... Could we be so lucky? Could we? I'm trying to believe yes. But I'm struggling.

Especially since the babies are in the nursery (which, let me set the stage, is ATTACHED to our room. You walk into Peter's closet and the nursery is off his closet... It's not like the kids are even a room away...), I have nightmares of babies not breathing, of them being blue, of blood or vomit... SIDS, choking, there's always something. I mean, let's face it; orphaned parents know all that could go wrong. What happened to me/you isnt the worst- there is always something else that we've read, someone else we've met, that we feel could be "worse" than what we've lost and becomes our fear. NICU and orphaned parents experiencing PTSD? I'm not surprised. We live through hell; it's no surprise that there is fall out. We may not be diving under tables or seeking out therapists or taking meds to cope, but that doesnt mean that every single parent who goes through this walks away without a scrape. Some scars are just deeper than the surface. But, I guarantee you, we all have them.

As I hold them and look at them, I try to just let it go. To let those feelings of waiting for some unforeseen inevitability go. I cant change a future I cant fight or prepare for- so I have to let it go. I have to enjoy today and stop worrying. I can only prevent so much.

What a "failure as a mommy" feeling... And yet, somewhat liberating too. To just be able to enjoy each day and not worry about what you can and cant intercept... I dont mean to imply that we should take risks... Only that I cant worry about some boogyman in the darkness.

I'm a work in progress... It's tough, but I'm trying.

Breast Milk update...

8 comments
I pumped until 3 months and 1 day. That's when the milk pretty much dried up. I havent pumped since Friday. :( But hey: I got one day over the goal I set when the mastitis hit.

***

On a happy note, here is my chunky monkey being helpful. Bobby is always dropping his pacifier and I guess Maya decided she'd help him keep it in place.

Growing Up

Friday, December 11, 2009

12 comments
Remember how I said that we have a beautiful nursery that has never been used, save for the middle of the night dirty butt changes? Well... Not so much... Last night, the kids spent their first night in their crib.

After the first hour of crying, I was okay. (You thought I was going to let them cry??? Are you nuts??? They were peachy keen!) Maya woke up once at 2:30am and then Bobby woke up once at 5am. They slept peacefully and I listened to them on the baby monitor until I fell asleep.

It's the first night (since I've been able to have them with me) that I havent had them by my side. It's also the first night that Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander's box hasnt been within arm's reach. After we laid them down and I wept because I couldnt just reach into the co-sleeper and feel them, breathing and safe, I reached out and touched their box, as I always do, and suddenly, it just felt wrong that they were with me and not with Bobby and Maya. So, I took it in and placed it on their high boy. It was hard, let me tell you. As Peter said, it's the first night (and not the last) that they all slept in the nursery.

Why did this come about? Did we designate 3 months old as the night they moved out? No... Of course not... We were talking and were commenting on how odd it was that they would sleep soundly if placed in our bed, even if we werent holding them. (I routinely had one on the bed while I fed the other, so that I didnt have to let go of the baby being fed in order to take care of the other if they got fussy.) So Peter mentioned that, perhaps, it is because we have a mattress and not just a piece of covered foam, like the co-sleeper and pack-n-play. Would they sleep better on a mattress, such as in the crib?

Guess he was right.

Although now it bring home how true that old adage is: they grow up so fast.

Happy 3 Month Birthday!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

12 comments
Happy 3 Month Birthday, Bobby and Maya! I cant believe you are this old already... It seems like yesterday you were born. We enjoy every moment with you and love you so very much.


NOON UPDATE: The babies had their 2nd Synagis injection. Bobby weighs 9lb8oz (yes, almost 10 pounds!!!) and had to get 2 injections, poor guy; our petite princess, Maya, weighs 6lb12oz and only had the one shot. They cried when they were going in and he is way fussy now, but they were little troopers. Our nurse commented that the poor NICU babies tend to handle even the roughest shots better. Sad, but true.

...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

16 comments
Today is the first day that it didnt hurt. That, when I thought of them, there was no pain. Only joy. I thought of Nicholas holding my finger... Of Sophia, smiling in her daddy's arms... Of Alexander, kicking me as he was born.

I will never understand why my life has become what it is. There will never be a reason good enough for me to accept why we were asked- no, designated- to have our children die. As one blogger put it, 14 year old crack addicts can easily get pregnant and have full term, healthy babies that they pimp out for a score and abuse- but not me. No, not the educated, financially stable, "good" woman who would do everything in her power to have a healthy pregnancy and a natural birth, to raise old fashioned, hippy dippy kids. No, not me. I cant ovulate without medication and cant carry to viability without surgery. And full term? Hah! That's not a card in my poker hand. And lest we forget natural labor or breastfeeding! Throw those out with the dirty bath water!

And yet... What is my alternative? If I were to have carried Nicholas and Sophia to 27w and 5d... If they had spent 70 days in the NICU... If we were preparing for their second Christmas out of the womb... If we had twin 2 year olds instead of infants... If, if, if... Then we would have no miscarried baby... No Alexander.... No third miscarriage.... No Bobby and Maya... If I were to have lost Nick and Sophie but our miscarried, sweet baby had grown and lived... There would be no Alex, no lost baby, no twins... And if Alexander had lived, I would have missed out on the momentary presence of one baby and the joy of these two that are in my arms.

But the way my life is, I got to have them all. I get to have them forever. I was able to have the momentary joy of having each of my miscarried children growing inside of me. I was able to feel Nicholas and Sophia playing together, to have Alexander kick me incessantly in the middle of the night. I was able to feel each of them enter this world... To touch them as they lived their entire lives full of love... To hold them afterwards and memorize each wrinkle, each part, the way they smelled and felt. And now, I have Bobby and Maya. I hold them and feel the weight of their little bodies. Smell their hair. Kiss their foreheads. Watch them as they sleep. Smile as they laugh...

I cant imagine a world without them. I cant imagine a life in which I only had Nicholas and Sophia. I need this life. I need to have them all. I cant imagine how empty I would be without them. And the price I pay is the heartache that I feel right now. The heartache at knowing I cant be with them as they grow up and have their own lives.

And I gladly pay that. Because without it, I wouldnt be their mother. And without that, I dont know who I would be.

***

Bobby and Maya have not "made it better". They have not healed my broken heart. They havent replaced their brothers and sister, although in them, we do have a glimpse of what life would have been like 2 years ago, had Nick and Sophie stayed inside a few more weeks and spent months in the hospital and then given us an introduction to twin parenthood. But they have shown us why we were taken on this journey. They have shown us that they were the reason. And, in loving them so very much, I cant wish for another outcome. I dont wish my babies had died; I wish that, somehow, in some magical world, I could have had them all. But, rationally, I know that had anything been different, then I wouldnt be here. Peter wouldnt be feeding Bobby next to me on the couch. I wouldnt be holding a sleeping, peaceful Maya on my chest.

It hurts just thinking about that.

***

Moving on is a fallacy. But I know that I have come to a new place in my path. I am in a place where the hurt is becoming replaced by acquiescence. Acceptance by not making objection. An inner knowing. A Virgin Mary state. I accept the hurt because I believe in the future.

I know that I will have moments where the sorrow will overwhelm me, where the pain will be so visceral that I wont be able to breathe. That I will have to pray for the strength to dry my tears. I know that there will be times when I am so overtaken with emotion that I will want to vomit. And that is okay. It is part of the journey. And I will remember to walk it, remembering the feelings of their tiny hands in mine.

***

Yesterday, as I was feeding Bobby, he was watching me intently and I told him "You have the most beautiful brown eyes I've ever seen". And, for a moment, it was Nicholas staring up at me. My breath caught in my throat and a lump rose. My sob was trapped inside, although I couldnt stop the tears that flowed. I'd never seen my oldest son's eyes, but for a moment, they were there, looking up at me through the face of his baby brother. It was haunting... It was beautiful...

It was the way it was supposed to be, even though it was never something I could have ever imagined.

Make Your Voice Heard

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

14 comments
I just saw this on another blog and I am outraged. Apparently, a recommendation in the UK is that parents be encouraged not to see or hold their stillborn babies. I would imagine this also applies to babies like mine, who, although they lived a short term, were very preterm. This pisses me off like no other. Please visit and sign the petition and, if you have lost a child, let them know just how important it is for parents to be encouraged to bond with their babies.

Name Days

3 comments
I've been asked to explain what name days are. They are most common in Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, although the Latin rite also celebrates "name days" or "saint days". Every person has a patron saint. Some of these are visible with a child's name, while others come when a child is confirmed and chooses a saint to model their life after (most often, children will choose the saint of their birth name, for example, Peter's name is Peter Nicholas and his Confirmation name is Nicholas; my name is Carol Michele and, while my patron is St Michael, I chose the Confirmation name of Brigid). Like birthdays, name days are celebrated, although usually not with much frivolity, as it's a more solemn occasion. These are just other days throughout the year when a person is celebrated, although it is more of a reminder to emulate the person's patron saint in holiness, etc, versus celebrating the day that one was born into the world.

We wont throw a party or anything for Bobby and Maya's name days. We will, perhaps, get them a small gift (religious in nature) and maybe have a cake (I dont really need reasons to make cake...) All of our children have religious names (for Bobby, it is Robert and for Maya, it is her middle name, Eirene). Interestingly enough, our daughters also share the names of Goddesses (Gaea, Sophia, and Eirene are all the names of ancient Goddesses).

I hope this makes some sort of sense? If there are specific questions, I can try to address them.

St Nicholas's Day

Sunday, December 6, 2009

10 comments
Happy St. Nicholas's Day!

St Nicholas, who is the patron saint of Greece among other things, was renounced for his gift giving and help to the poor. The common tradition is for children to put out their shoes on the eve of his holy day and, if they've been good, to find a gift from St Nick in the morning! A coin is customary, but this year St Nicholas left our children new soothies!
(yes... new pacifiers... because my babies, who didnt want pacifiers in the hospital so much, now LOVE them)

Those shoes were actually part of a gift I received from a woman who reads my blog. AB, to whom I dedicated my last post, and I have become friends and she sent beautiful handmade outfits from Puerto Rico, giving the twins a part of their heritage as a gift! I was hoping to save them for Christmas, but Mr. Big Boy decided he just couldnt wait and, lucky for us, we had a special occasion to wear them to! Maya's boyfriend (the baby boy who shared the NICU with them for the last 3 weeks they were there) had his bris (circumcision) this morning and his parents invited us. So, we got the kids all dressed up and headed to their synagogue for the sacred rite.




They are Orthodox, so the women and men were separated during the event. I stood with Maya in the back platformed area, while Peter stood with Bobby in the main temple area. It was a really beautiful service, although I confess, I cringed during the actual act itself, when the little one cried out. But, if we were thinking of circumcising, I also must confess that I cant think of a better way. They treated the ceremony with respect and reverence. I feel really honored to have been asked to be a part of it, even as just a witness.

Peter wore a kippa and I used my mantilla as a head covering. For the babies, since I wasnt able to locate a kippa for Bobby, we used their blue and pink knitted hats. Which worked well. Some of the relatives had babies and they were in baby type hats too, so I didnt feel like we were out of place. They took pictures, so if I get any of us all dressed up as a family, I will post them.

St Nicholas's Day... It's Nicholas's name day. What a special day. :) All of the children have patron saints. In some tradition's, name days are celebrated like birth days.

Nicholas: Dec 6 (St Nicholas)
Sophia: Sept 17 (St Sophia the Martyr)
Alexander: Aug 30 (St Alexander of Constantinople)
Maya: April 9 (St Irene of Lesvos)
Bobby: April 29 (St Robert of Molesme)

Peter and I also have name days. Peter's (for St Peter the Apostle) is June 29 and mine (for St Michael the Archangel) is Sept 29. In addition, we can celebrate our Confirmation saints (Peter's saint is Nicholas and mine is Brigid of Kildare (Feb 1)).

Prayers Please

6 comments
Cece's daughter, Nora, passed away on Dec 5. She and her twin sister were born on Nov 30. Right now, they dont know what happened. Please pray for this family.

Remembering...

1 comments
Remembering AB's twins, Aida and Tomas today, on their first birthdays. Watch over Mommy and Daddy and your in-utero sibling today. I know you are resting gently in the arms of God and playing with Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander.

Lighting candles for you, sweet babies...

First Snowfall

Saturday, December 5, 2009

10 comments


Today was the first snowfall of the winter... It was Bobby and Maya's first snowfall ever. It snowed when Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander were born; it seems only fitting that it snowed today, on Bobby and Maya's due date. Part of me knew this would happen. Part of me hoped it wouldnt just be "flurries" and that we'd get a good ground covering. We did.

The twins loved to look at the snow falling outside the window. We went to Mass and it was beautiful. Our church is really breathtaking in the snow. When we got home, we sat in our library, which is where we put the Christmas tree, and the kids looked at the tree and then out the window and then back to the tree. It's so cute to see their eyes when they see things for the first time.

EDD

3 comments
While I never thought I would see this day pregnant, today was our 40 week estimated due date. Amazingly, the babies are 11 weeks and 2 days old.

I've never put much stock in due dates, since they are just estimations. Today will pass, pretty much, like every other day. But, still, it gives me pause to think that they were due today, when I look at them on the outside.

***

Our Lady of Sorrows.... Pray for Us!
Icon of Our Lady of Sorrows

***

I have always felt close to the Virgin Mary, but in recent days, I have felt even more close to her. The combination of sorrow and joy... I assume she must have felt something along these lines. Sorrow at losing her Son. Joy at the world's redemption...

As I sit here an hour into our expected due date, I am waxing philosophical...

L-methylfolate

Friday, December 4, 2009

7 comments
I participated in a WEGO health teleconference/webinar on Thursday night, where the discussion surrounded the types of folate. Normally, I wouldnt use this space as a promotional area, but there were a few things discussed in the teleconference that really surprised me.

The primary discussions were on the differences between how the body absorbs folic acid versus L-methylfolate, and why L-methylfolate may be a better option for most/all pregnant women.

MTHFR is commonly discussed in the forums I'm a part of, and it amazes me that more women arent discussing L-methylfolate, since it can be absorbed in a way that folic acid cannot be. What I also found interesting in the discussion were how homocystine levels were linked with pregnancy issues. To my knowledge, homocystine levels arent routinely checked during pregnancy.

I mention this, primarily, for the readers for whom MTHFR is an issue. Have you discussed taking L-methylfolate to help prevent loss? I'd never heard of this as an option before...