Date Morning

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

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Last Saturday, Peter's parents watched the kids and we had a "date morning".  We suited up in our biking wear and, at 8am, sat off on a 14.5 mile bike ride, that ended with us going to the local grocery store (which has a breakfast bar) and having breakfast- alone- together.  It was a lovely ride, and we had a great time.

I followed this up with an 800m swim on Monday and then a 3 mile run with Sarah yesterday.

And I am SO happy to report that I am now the proud owner of a jogging stroller!!!  I cant wait to try it out!

So proud...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

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I'm so proud of us that I just had to post this picture again. :)


(and yes, those are 16oz margaritas in our hands... they were delicious!)

Swimming and Running...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

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Last night, I took a late swim (9:15pm) at the gym (not my local one, but one of the branches), and I swam 800 meters in 33 minutes!!!  (A respectable time for a reasonably fit person is about 24-25 minutes, so I'm really pleased!).

And tonight, I ran my first 5K.  And, in spite of the 95 degree weather and the 45+% humidity, it was AWESOME!!!  Our first mile came in at 13 minutes, which I am super proud of for me!  The second mile had a hill and wasn't nearly as cool, but we finished at 44:36 and were not last! :)  My only 2 goals were A) to finish and B) to do it in 45 minutes or less.  At the end, Sarah told me that I WOULD finish in less than 45 minutes or she would cattle prod my behind (now, I dont know where she would get said prod, but I didnt want to find out and I gave a little push at the end).


I realize, not the best times for the more athletic among you, but I am super happy.  A year ago, I was on strict bedrest at home and my muscles were starting to atrophy.  This year, I ran a 5K with my best friend and I had a great time.

I am so grateful to Peter and my MIL and Jo (and Dan!) who watched the babies so that we could do this, and to Sarah, for motivating me beyond belief and saying that I COULD DO IT even when I thought I couldn't.

Happy 19m Birthday, Alexander

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Would you have been my athletic child?  I think so... I feel you every time I go for a run and, how funny is it that today, your 19m birthday, is my first 5K, and my first Tri (although 2 days, date wise different) is the Sunday of the year that you were conceived.  Coincidence?  I think not...

Thinking of you today, sweet boy...   Miss you... Love you...

Uncle Robert

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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Today, had my brother-in-law lived, he would turn 30.  It's been almost 23 years since his death, and every day, there is a void that cant be filled.  In some ways, I cant help but wonder if Bobby, in his appearance, has brought a small measure of peace... That he is the sweet boy that Robert may have had...  He looks so much like him (and like Peter, too).

It brings us comfort that Robert is fathering his nephews and niece in heaven...  That one day, we will see them all again.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Robert.
Love,
Bobby and Maya

Happy Birthday, sweet brother.  You are always in our hearts, and your big brother carries a part of you forever with him, every day.  Always.

ICWL Virgin

Monday, June 21, 2010

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In my 550 posts, I have never participated in IComLeavWe.  So... Here Goes Nothing!!!

***

I'm Michele and I'm 30.  My husband and I have been together for 12 years and struggled with female infertility as a result of PCOS and Hashimoto's.  Save one miscarriage in 2001, we were unable to conceive until we sought treatment in September 2007.  October brought us the special gift of our boy/girl twins, Nicholas and Sophia, through injectibles.  After a textbook pregnancy, our twins were born in the second trimester, two weeks apart, due to an undiagnosed incompetent cervix.  After an hour on earth, our son passed away; our daughter spent her five minutes of life safe in her father's arms.  (The Story of Nicholas and Sophia)

We had another miscarriage a few months later, before conceiving our son, Alexander.  Sadly, due to the IC and the lack of a cerclage, he too was born in the second trimester and, like his big sister, lived for five precious minutes.       (Alexander)

Once again, we lost a baby to first trimester miscarriage, before conceiving our twins, Bobby and Maya, in March 2009.  After a 11w cerclage, 9 weeks of home bedrest, and 7 weeks of hospital bedrest, they were born at 27w5d, relatively healthy.  They spent 2 months in the NICU and are now nine and a half months old. (Happy Birthday, Bobby and Maya)

My blog is about my life, after the struggles of infertility, after the pain and heartbreak of losing children, and now, in the throws of parenting premature- but thankfully healthy- twins.  Throw in my triathlon training and the tales of my domestic divahood, and that about sums me up.

(Want the details about ICWL?  Click here)

550

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Wow... My next post will be my 550th.  How in the world have I managed that??  And folks read it, too?  A writer's dream, I tell you! :)

**

I promise, this blog isnt going to turn into an athletic one, but, since it's about 'my life' and my life is now full of running and biking and swimming, it's what I'm in the mood to talk about.  Right now anyway.  As a Gemini, I retain the right to change my mind as I see fit.

I took my last run before the race today.  Sarah told me no running 48 hours before the race, so I pretty much stayed within that guideline since my race is Wednesday night.  And she said only "light" activity today and tomorrow.  So... I only ran a mile then walked a mile (trust me, these thighs never thought the words "only ran a mile" would ever be uttered.  ONLY?  Really???).  Tonight, I'll bike 2.2 miles to the gym for yoga and then bike home.  Tomorrow morning, another 2.2 to the gym for swimming 500 meters and 2.2 home.  And then.  Nothing.  Until Wednesday night.  When (GULP) I'm going to run my first 5K.

My only goal is to finish and to run the entire thing.  I'm guestimating about a 15 minute mile, since I dont really push my knees when jogging.  I'm gentle the entire way.  It's not a speed contest for me; it's just about getting out there and doing it.  And I'm cool with that.

What I'm not cool with: leaving Bobby and Maya at home.  Without me.  Without Peter.

Over the last few months, I've tried to ease into leaving them (or one of them) with my MIL while I go to the store or something, if one of them (or both) are asleep.  I havent left with them awake.  Usually, I'm back in time for naptime to be over.  And, while I'm not thrilled with leaving them in someone else's care (although I love her and she's great), they are asleep and I can calm myself with the knowledge that they cant get into trouble and are fairly easy to handle when sleeping.

But I'm leaving around 4pm.  They, most likely, will want a bottle and not be sleeping anymore.  And Peter wont be home until 6pm.  That's two hours.  TWO HOURS.  (I know... For those of you who work outside the home, two hours would be a blessing, so forgive my lamenting.  This is new to me...)

It's not as hard to leave them with Peter, although it is still hard.  And it's harder still to think of leaving them with a nonparent (even though I know they are well loved my their grandmother).  I worry about them missing me and crying.  Or about her not being able to handle both at once.  Or about them being hungry and wet at the same time.  Hey.  It's me.  I just worry.

I know that I shouldnt.  That I cant (nor should I) be the only person they see taking care of them.  God forbid there is an emergency, but also, they need some independence from Mommy.  But it's still hard on my heart.  I'm trying to psych myself up for it.  In addition to the lovely period hormones, the "I'm abandoning my children" hormones are taking full advantage of me!

***
Today is the Summer Solstice... The longest day of the year.  From now until Winter, the days will grow shorter, moments at a time.  Take a moment for yourself today.  To recharge. To renew.  Happy Solstice.

Taking a Ride

Sunday, June 20, 2010

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On Saturday morning, Sarah and I loaded our bikes on her rack and drove to the Perkiomen Trail, where we rode 11 miles, including a quarter of a mile up a 12% grade mountain (I'm not kidding... They dont call it Spring Mount for nothing!).  It took about an hour and a half.  Tonight, I took a 7.1 mile ride alone, but, and this is the kicker, I did the entire thing in third gear!  (My bike has 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, with ranges from 1st through 8th within a given gear.  1-1 would be the easiest, 3-8 would be the hardest.)  I average 3-4 to 3-5, but I rode the last mile and a half (including a fairly good hill) in 3-8!

WOO HOO!!!

(Oh, and did I mention CD 1 on Friday?  That's a 5 week cycle!)

"First" Father's Day

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No one was nuts enough (dumb? insensitive? unthinking? I don't know, fill in the blank with a word less offensive (or more so) if you'd like) to wish me a "Happy First Mother's Day" this year.  I'm not sure why, then, that I've been wished, for Peter, several "Happy First Father's Day"s today.  Really???  I tell myself that they mean nothing by it, except to say Happy Day, or to acknowledge Bobby and Maya in a special way.  I'm sure this is what they mean.  But especially when people go out of their way to say "Tell Peter a Happy FIRST Father's Day", it kind of hits a nerve...

Have others gone through this?  Where the mother of dead children is remembered on Mother's Day (at least in some way) but the Father is sort of forgotten?  I really don't get it..  Is it because we, as mothers, carry our children physically and our husbands dont?  I'm at a loss...  Lucky, we have beautiful family and friends that have been wishing Peter Father's Day greetings since Nicholas and Sophia were born in 2008.  So why does it bother me???

I digress...

We went to Mass this morning as a family sans my father-in-law, who was sick (I gave my cold to my MIL, who passed it on to FIL... SADNESS!).  The fathers received a special blessing, and afterwards, Peter and I sold little packets of Hershey's kisses on behalf of the Respect Life Committee.  I had gotten up early and made Peter breakfast in bed, so when we got home, we fed the kids, did some more church stuff, picked up my dad, and headed over to Peter's parents for a late lunch/early dinner.  Sarah joined us for dessert, and we had a lovely afternoon.

Peter's gift from the kids hasnt arrived yet so I cant post about it (since I dont want him to find out) but I got him an Orthodox study Bible since he had mentioned wanting one.  His parents crafted a beautiful paperweight with pictures of all the children inside.  He also received some lovely cards.

I spoke to my (step) dad on the phone, and was able to wish him a happy day.  He loves to cook (hence those 10 pounds I brought back with me from Tennessee) and was making his own dinner.  (If Mom is reading, I hope you cleaned up after him!  It's Father's Day after all!) He's a sweetheart, and I'm glad he was enjoying his day.

***
Like Mother's Day, today is a bittersweet day.  Nicholas and Sophia and Alexander are in our hearts everyday, but on days like today, they come out in different ways.  And that brings smiles and tears.  How we miss them.  I studied their pictures today, and I remember holding them like it was yesterday.  I remember their sweet little faces that I kissed so delicately...  Their hands that I held and caressed.  Their feet that pressed so gently against me from the inside.  I remember their smells and their smiles and the way it felt as they left this world and the warmth faded.  Oh, how I miss them.  How my heart aches to feel them in my arms.  How my body aches to hold them again.

***
Bobby and Maya.  I dont even have words for how beautiful life is with them.  They are both desperate to walk.  (Hmmm... Who does that sound like?  Wanting to walk before they can even crawl...)  They must have known today was a special day for dads.  They loved snuggling with Daddy for extra, and cried when he left to go on a late afternoon bike ride.  They reach for me when others hug them, and will say "Mama" at the drop of a hat. :)  I love it.  Maya smiles and those two little teeth poke up.  Bobby laughs and his entire face lights up.  They warm my heart.  They are a balm for my soul.

***
Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful men out there who missing saints in heaven or loving angels on earth. Today, and every day, we honor you.

A Matter of Perspective

Friday, June 18, 2010

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Thirty years ago, two women were pregnant.

One was a mere child...  days from her 15th birthday.  She was in the viability stage of pregnancy, but by no means full term.  She carried a child created from violence and unwanted.  A child she wouldn't raise.  A daughter she didn't want to raise.

The other was thirty-one, happily married with a toddler, anxiously anticipating the addition of a second son to her family.  She was ready to burst, both with pregnancy and joy.  Epidural in hand, she birthed a sweet little boy that she immediately fell in love with.

The girl took flight and left her daughter in a clothes basket.  She missed out on the broken bones of childhood, the high school musicals, the honors diplomas and college acceptance letters.  She missed the wedding and the birth of that daughter's children.  But she didn't miss them because she never wanted them in the first place.

That woman changed every diaper, wiped every tear, kissed every scraped knee.  She held her son's hand through cancer treatment after treatment.  She supported his bravery as his hospital friends died from neuroblastoma and he was the only one left.  She kissed his sweet forehead as he took his last breath after a three year battle with an enemy his little body was simply not strong enough to duel with.  She held his body as the last surge of breath left it.  She missed his eighth birthday.  She missed his graduations and the wife he may have met and the children he may have had.  And she misses them still, as she misses her baby boy.

Those of us who have been dealt the hand of infertility and loss often look at others and think "They don't deserve that child.", "The are bad parents.", "Why them and not me?", "WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO US?"

We look at parents, mothers mostly, and think of how unfair it is that she carries the child she doesnt want to term, while our babies died.  We look at women who abort their children and shake our heads in disgust because we cant even get pregnant.  We feel sick to our stomach when faced with "fertile myrtles" who get pregnant when looking at a man, when we need a pharmacy and/or a hospital of doctors to have a chance at conception and a delivery after viability.

But we rarely look at the children.

We don't see the unwanted daughter who was blessed with adoptive parents who taught her that her self worth had little to do with the circumstances of her conception and birth and more to do with the morals and self strength she possessed.  Who gave her the confidence to never give up, no matter the obstacle.

We don't see the unwanted daughter who went from baby to girl to woman.  From daughter to wife to mother.

We don't see that the son who died, though wanted and loved, was such a blessing to his family in the short life he lived.  That he was an inspiration in his pain and suffering.  That he was never without a smile, even when he was sick and dying.

We don't see that his being born to parents who loved and wanted him, even though their life was hard, was a gift.  Because, by their love, they were the parents that he needed.  And he was the child they needed.

When I talked to Peter about Robert's death, and how this scenario has played out in my head recently, he said softly, "I'm glad that Robert was born to my family.  We loved him and took care of him."  And he's right.  Imagine a sick child in a household that didnt want a baby in the first place.  Would they have struggled to make sure he received the treatment that could help him?  I'd like to think yes, but I dont know...

I turned 30.  Robert's 30th birthday is around the corner.  I wonder what he would be like.  I wonder how different life would be.  Would I have met Peter?  I doubt he would have gone to college so far from his brother...  Perhaps our paths wouldnt have crossed... Or would have crossed later... I dont know.  I wouldnt be here.  He wouldnt be.  Our children wouldnt be.

***

I believe that death is just another chapter of life.  This life is one part, our death from this one becomes a life beyond.  We are not gone, simply not here.  Robert is still here.  Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander are still here.  They are with the ancestors gone before, and will be with us after we move on, into the light.

But that doesnt mitigate the grief, does it?  Because it is this life that we are living.  It is this life that we have to face without the ones we love.  Without their hands to hold or their kisses to wet our cheeks.  And that is such a hard future to face.  Even knowing that there are countless joys in our futures...

***

I wonder who they are...  The children of the pregnant woman who've broken my heart and made me turn away or shake my head...

Bricking My Butt

Thursday, June 17, 2010

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Bricks are kicking my butt... But in a good way.

I am so tired.  For my swimming/biking bricks, I get up early and bike to the gym, swim, then bike home.  It's the getting up early... Eek!  I love to sleep!  But, I've finished my 400 meter week, and next week, it's onto 500 meters!  I ordered a swim cap, goggles, and earplugs (so now I'm really cool), and a funky beach towel for the triathlon.  (I read that you should have as loud and funky a towel as possible, since that is what you'll need to find when you run out of the water.)

So tired... What a day this has been... I'm ready for bed.  Time to move Bobby into his bed so I can crawl into mine! :)

Twelve

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Today marks twelve years since Peter and I, with two friends to witness our words, exchanged the vows that would change the course of our lives forever.  Having met only 2 months before, we didn't know each other that well, but we knew we loved each other.  And that was all that mattered.

It still is.

I love you, Peter.  Happy Anniversary.  :)

Last Big Run...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

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Today was Sarah and I's last big run before my first 5K in one week!!  Yes, one week!  It's next Wednesday night!  We ran 3 miles in 45 minutes.  I am so psyched!

(and I wore my tri suit for a test run... AWESOME!!!!)

Beauty

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There are no words...

Another Good-bye

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June 2008 was such a bittersweet time. Nicholas and Sophia were born that February and we were still reeling from their deaths. In May, we went to see Dr. Lee for our follow-up and we took another stab at the TTC rollercoaster. We expected success because Nick and Sophie were our first assisted cycle and, 14 days later, 2 days after my birthday, we had a positive beta. I remember going on my traditional birthday TBIC (this sounds horrible, but Sarah and I coined the phrase "2 b-tches in a car" after one of us had had a husband fight- probably me- that was completely her/my fault and we had to take a drive... This has evolved into what we call whenever we get together); we had to skip the traditional winery visit and instead got fake tattoos and drove from town to town in northeast PA. I was worried because the baby's EDD would be Sophia's birthday and several friends told me that babies were rarely born on due date's, so not to worry. Peter and I joked that February would be "our" month, that all of our children would be born then and, in a way, many of them were, when you consider that we lost P in Feb, Nick and Sophie were born in Feb, Z was conceived in Feb... So, we thought, why not!

Why not indeed.

My first beta was low, somewhere around 28, which was mere points over what we needed to be considered "pregnant" and my progesterone hadnt risen from my first 7dpo test, so I was prescribed supplements. But I worried... Our nurse tried to sound optimistic, especially since my beta with Nicholas and Sophia had been so low... But when the second test came back in the low 40s and the third test barely 50... We were told to prepare for the worst. I remember our nurse trying to gently tell me that my child... my fourth baby... most likely, was dying.

I prayed. Oh how I prayed. When I stopped taking the Prometrium, I prayed. When the bleeding didnt start, I prayed. God, please, dont let this baby die, too. Not my sweet Dimitri. Please... But I didnt really start praying until the days leading up to Father's Day, when Peter said that all he wanted for his first big Father's Day was for our baby to live. At that point, I stopped praying for a big, happy ending, especially when I knew my betas were falling. Instead, I prayed that our baby would be alive on Father's Day... That, if it was meant for him to join his siblings in heaven, then I would be okay with that, but to please, please, please, save them from miscarriage before or on Father's Day.

I began bleeding with my second miscarriage the Monday after and we returned to Dr Lee at the end of the month to make sure I was physically alright and that our baby had really passed away.

So, today, we remember the baby that we felt was a boy, the baby that we named Dimitri. His name was so perfect... We wanted to name him after Peter's brother, whose middle name was Dimitri, and also after Sophia, since he was due on her birthday. Gaea means "Earth" and Dimitri is a masculine diminutive of Demeter. It was perfect. You have so many people surrounding you in heaven, sweet boy. One day, I'll be there too and I'll hold you so tight! I'll only let go to welcome more of your siblings into our hug circle.

400!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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I swam 400 meters this morning- in 15 minutes!  That's 8 lengths of the pool, so about a minute per 25 meters.  A good time is considered 42-40 seconds per 25, so this isn't a terrible time.  Especially considering I havent been in the pool since before I was pregnant- LAST MARCH!!!  (Okay, so I got in the pool last night for 150 meters, in 6-7 minutes, before getting kicked out by the swim class).

I ride my bike to the gym, which is about 2.2 miles when I go the "short" way (which I did this morning).  So, for today, I did 2.2 miles there, a 400m swim, and 2.2 miles home.  Last night, I did the 2.2m there, then the 150 meter swim, an hour yoga class, and then biked the "long" way home, which follows the park system and was 3.6 miles.  So, no running last night (or today so far), but some awesome bike/swim combos!  My goal is a 2 mile run tonight, so we will see how that goes!  I can't believe TexMex 5K is 8 days away!!!  I am so psyched!

And (GULP): I just registered for my first triathlon!!!

Time Flies

Monday, June 14, 2010

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I ordered the invitations to Bobby and Maya's first birthday party.  I can't believe it is less than 3 months away.  Time has just flown by!

My Suit!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

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Special thanks to Sunflowerchilde for her AWESOME advice.  Sarah and I say "YES YES YES!!!  Whatever advice you have, we want!!!" :)

So, we went to REI and I bought my suit.  I tried on the one I liked online but didnt love it in person.  It didnt really flow well for the curvy girl with tatas.  But I loved the one I did buy.  (Yes, I DID buy a suit!!!)  I went with a two piece, made by Skirt Sports.


I really like it.  It was very comfortable.  Thanks to the aforementioned commenter, we are going with our initial thought of not wearing shoes, since the lake we'll be in is fine for swimming.

I can't believe it!  I took the plunge and bought a tri suit!!!

And a pretty awesome book...

From Nashville... (part 2)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

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We saw my nephew, which was lovely, for only a few hours on one day, which was sad.  But I loved the time with him.  He's the spitting image of my brother.


It was important for me to recreate a picture from my childhood.  My mom held me, and later my brother and I, at this train.  I treasure that picture and memory, and thankfully, even though the pic was a little different (due to train damage, you can no longer go on it and can only stand in front of it), I am so happy we were able to do this.




For my birthday, my mom gave me a day of beauty!  First, we went to her friend's salon and I got my hair cut (a small trim, but she layered it and I love it!  It hangs so well when I wear it down now!)  Then, we had lunch at her favorite spot.  Finally, we went to a salon that only does nails and had mani/pedi's!  I got to pick the color, so our toes are "Shrek green".  (We opted for buffing our nails since she gardens and I have kids who eat my fingers!)

And, finally, Maya got TWO teeth on the trip, one on one day and the second the next.  At their nine month check up, their ped felt her two top and said it's only a matter of a few weeks at the longest, and she also felt Bobby's two bottoms on the verge.

1st Brick

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Sarah and I did our first triathlon training brick today. We did a six mile bike ride (in 37 minutes, but we werent pushing it) and a 2 mile run/walk (in 25 minutes).  About half of the tri ride and a little over half of the run.  It was good, but man, am I beat!  And, Peter got in on the action by biking to work (8-9 miles) for practice.  He's driving home (well, Sarah is driving him home) but it's a good practice for his actual riding to/from work.  It took him 45 minutes and it's fairly hilly.

We're going to do some shopping today, and Sarah and I are going to look at tri suits.  We've opted to try 2 pieces, since she and I have different body types  (read, I have the boobs to feed a small army) and were hoping to match.  We've found these from Danskin that go in a large enough size to accommodate my DD's.


Hopefully, we can try these on!  Now... about tri shoes... Do we just swim barefoot and put on our sneakers or do we invest in something like these?

Any triathloners out there?  Thoughts?

From Nashville... (part 1)

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(Sorry... It's taking me some time to write down our trip...)

Our trip to Nashville went really well.  The drive down wasnt nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  The kids mostly slept and, when they were done for the day, it turned out we were to and we stopped.  It was so great to be able to see my mom!  I missed her so much.  She and my stepdad were so ready to play with grandbabies when we arrived, which was nice, too, because the kids wanted to see someone more than us!


We enjoyed great food (did I mention I put on 10 lbs in 10 days... How is it safe to only lose 2lbs a week, but I can gain a pound a day!  I gained 10 lbs in my entire pregnancy!) .  We spent some special time with my parents and grandmother and great grandmother.








My mom must emit "babycrack" because these kids loved naptime with Mimi!
















And not to leave PopPop out of the equation!

9 months old

Thursday, June 10, 2010

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How is this possible?  Bobby and Maya are 9 months old!!!  NINE months!!!



It seems like yesterday they were born... and now... three months shy of their first birthday.  The time has flown by.  I love them so much.  I feel so blessed.

9/10/09: 2lb13oz, 15"
6/10/10: 20lbs, 28.25"

9/10/09:  2lb 5oz, 14.25"
6/10/10: 15lbs, 24.75"

Pray for B

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

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Noelle has just been admitted, as blood flow to Baby B has stopped.  Please pray for them.

Safely Home...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

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We are home.  I'm sick, but I will update soon.

Missing...

Monday, June 7, 2010

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"What most people don’t understand is that holding, seeing, touching our dead babies is the...'highlight' of this experience: it’s the living without them for the rest of our lives that is truly awful." (-from here)


So true....  And I'm feeling this so much right now...

Happy Birthday to me.



***

Age is just a number and my birthdays have never been that big of a deal since reaching adulthood.  You have the "big ones" like 18 and 21, but really... Not that big... Just another day (with cake and presents!)  I had just turned 27 when we conceived Nicholas and Sophia, and, on my 28th birthday, I was reeling from their deaths, my impending miscarriage, and that first Mother's Day as an orphaned mother.  I asked that people leave me alone to grieve.  There was no party, no cake, no dinner.  The one tradition I did keep was the jaunt that Sarah and I have routinely taken to Jim Thorpe. I remember visiting the winery and not being able to wine taste because I was pregnant and so hopefuly...  A hope that fell apart the day after Father's Day.  Two months later, I was pregnant with Alexander and desperately praying that lightening couldnt- wouldnt- strike twice. But it did.  And all I could think about was that it was unfair that I was able to celebrate year after year when my children couldn't.  Approaching 29, I was, once again, pregnant, this time with Bobby and Maya.  I spent the day in bed and Peter took a photo for their book.  I had three children I'd miscarried, three children I'd said goodbye to moments after they were born, and two children kicking away happily in my belly.  It was a bittersweet way to welcome in the last of my 20s.  I remember my birthday wish being, simply, that Bobby and Maya be born much later, healthy.  And, that wish came true.  A few months later, I got the best belated birthday gifts ever, weighing in at 2lb13oz and 2lb5oz.  They were perfect.

Yet, that doesnt negate me wanting to forget about my birthdays.  I have no issue with 30 (or 40 or...) or my gray hair, or my wrinkles.  It's just that every year is a year farther from my pregnancies... from the times when my children were all alive.

And yet...

And yet, I wouldnt trade this life.  If God gave me the choice, I would choose this life over again.  Because, without it, I wouldnt have had- and have still- the joys of being a mother to five born and three unborn babies.  I would have liked a less painful, less difficult journey. I would have liked an outcome where all of our children were born full term and healthy... where I had the happiness of watching all of them grow up.  But a world without all of them?  I just cant imagine.  Each was so special.  So loved. So wanted.  So unique.  Each one was perfect for themselves.  I cant imagine not having- even a few moments- with each of them.

So, I'm happy for the pain because it brought me the joy.  I'll accept the death because it brought the life.  I'll take the journey because the stops along the way are the most blissful I could have ever wished for.  I'll be grateful for the missing because it means they were here to miss.  I'll embrace the grief because it came from the gifts.  And, in that, it is the happiest birthday of all.  Yes, because I have living children to celebrate it with- that is undeniable.  But also because I have learned over the last two and a half years to acknowledge and aceept the grief within my soul.  That THIS is who I am, who I really am.  That it always will be.  That the hurt can comingle with the delight...  That the struggle can coexist with the simplicity of life...  That the bitterness of loss and anger can live side by side with the sweetness of motherhood to ALL my babies and the lives of Bobby and Maya- because, bitter and sweet are just two sides of the same coin.

So Happy Birthday to me.  Happy, Happy Birthday to me.

Bittersweets

Sunday, June 6, 2010

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Bitters...
  • Hearing my brother's girlfriend lament about being overdue, when I know that both my sister-in-law and I (and now my cousin) all wish that could have been our complaint.
  • Having people gasp and freak out at pictures of Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander.
  • Saying good-bye and knowing that Bobby and Maya are going to miss their Mimi and PopPop, and Mamaw.
  • Hearing over and over again how my parents went from 0 grandkids to 5 in six months.  I know what people mean, but it still hurts.
  • Knowing that it will probably be a good while before I see Benjamin again.
  • Realizing, sadly so, that the next time I visit Nashville it will most likely be alone and for the funeral of my great-grandmother, who was turned over to Hospice at-home care.  I am so glad that Bobby and Maya were able to meet her and that she was able to cuddle them and get their "baby kisses".  Yesterday, we had 5-generations together (the kids, me, Mom, Mamaw, and Grandma) for photos.  Earlier in the week, Peter took some of just she and the kids.  We're going to make a collage and mail it down.
Sweets...
  • Getting to spend half a day with my nephew and loving it.
  • Getting to watch my brother play and cuddle with my children.
  • Spending so much time with my mom and "dad" (adding the step to it just sounds so wrong when he is such a father to me).
  • Talking to my (step)brother on the phone and making plans to visit his family in the late fall (so I can eat up my sweet neices!)
  • Hearing my mom tell me that she was able to share Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander to heal someone's heart.  Her co-worker's sister recently had a baby die, and she came to my mom to talk.  Mom shared our children and their pictures with her.  She was able to express her love for her grandchildren, even though they weren't here.  And that is a beautiful thing.
  • 7 stockings.  Growing up, we had the awesome Christmas stockings that Mamaw made for us.  They were a green/white/red varigated yarn and stretched to fit SOOOOO many goodies.  Years ago, I'd commented that I would love to have some for our family.  That yarn has long since been discontinued and Mamaw has such arthritis in her hands now that she rarely crochets.  I knew that there had been a recent looking for of that yarn on their part, and when we visited, she took a stocking out of a box.  And, because she's Mamaw, she apologized that it wasnt the "exact" same yarn and said she'd make other ones if I didnt like them (AS IF!!!).  But then, the sweetest words of all: "There are seven."  There just arent words for that.
On that note, I just woke Peter and we'll be leaving for church in an hour, and then have breakfast with my parents before getting on the road.  St. Christopher, watch over us on our journey (and, if you arent too busy, make sure the highway patrol are all looking the other way as Peter drives by).

Our Last Night

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Here we are... the eve of our departure.  And I still cant believe how quickly the time has flown by.

Mom and I took a "girls day" yesterday.  I am now sporting a new haircut (a layered trim... I think Peter would have killed me if I'd come back with short hair!)  Then, we had lunch at a local spot my parents enjoy (that has Guinness (and 68 other  brews) on tap).  Then, mani-pedi's!  My mom was a nail salon virgin, and we went to a place that is nothing but nails.  And it is huge.  I mean HUGE.  We sat in the comfy massage chairs (I was debating on how easily I could fit one in her Subaru...) and had the "signature" service, which included exfoliation and leg massage.  It was heavenly.  And, because I'm me, I got to pick out the nail color for our toes and selected "Shrek green".  It is a cross between spring yellow and lime green.  Probably looks great on a 12 year old.  But it's fun.  And my feet are oh so soft.  For our manicures, we both just had them buff the nails verses clear, since I know the babies will eat my fingers and she gardens so much that the polish would fade and chip quickly.  After that, we went to a 10,000 Villages that she didnt know was there (where I bought some stationary made out of elephant dung- I know you cant wait to get a letter from me now!), then came back to the house, where the menfolk were on babyduty and doing quite a good job!  Other than Maya refusing to eat for anyone (she took a bottle and a nap with me), they were having a nice time.  They ventured out with the babies, and when we cae home Bobby was in his PopPop's lap on the side porch, rocking in the glider.  It was a really fun day, and a nice day spend with my Mom.  I know when I look at my crazy toes, I'll remember and that will make the missing a little easier.

We had decided earlier in the week that, to say thank you for the wonderful time we've had and the AWESOME food my stepdad makes, that I would make dinner tonight.  So, last night, I raided their spice garden (it was so wonderful!!!  made me really regret not getting mine squared away pre-babies) and prepared a cold pasta salad and leg of lamb.  PopPop and I share a love of cooking (Mimi... not so much although she loves to clean and that is what any good cook needs!!!) so we hung out in the kitchen and discussed.  It was a nice night to connect and catch up.  And he busted out some GOOD wine, which never hurts an evening either.  Dinner went well, and my brother came afterwards, so we got to chat and he got to meet his neice and nephew.

***
My cousin had her baby, just shy of 34 weeks.  We dont know much, except that he is 4lbs, having trouble breathing, and is in the NICU.  Prayers for CJ are appreciated.  In happy [reemie news, my neices both have slept through the night  (a nice feet right there!) without oxtgen support or their apnea monitors going off!!  They were 33 weekers born in March, and are as cute as buttons!
i cant wait to smooch those cheeks!

Two More To Go...

Friday, June 4, 2010

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I cannot believe that we only have two more nights here before we hit the road back to PA.  This trip has flown by.  You would think it would feel much longer since we've been gone a week already, but I feel like I just got here.  And now, I'm remembering things to pack up for the trip home.  Sadness...

***
I met my nephew yesterday!  I promised Peter I wouldnt blog about certain things that happened, so this will be uncharacteristically brief.  First off, he's a cutie.  He's the spitting image of my brother as a baby.  My mom picked him up, along with his mother (Jimmy was at work), and brought them for lunch, then we all went to the local park and had a photo shoot reminiscent of my childhood, before parting ways so she could get Jimmy from work.  The three babies all got along well.  They sat next to each other and stroked faces (and pulled hair).  He was a little pumpkin (about 2-3 pounds heavier than Bobby and maybe that many inches shorter), and so sweet. I will remember that little sweetie in my arms and kissing that face when I'm on my way home.

Ben is 2 weeks younger than the twins, and I invited them to celebrate Bobby and Maya's birthday, as well as Ben's, in PA.  It would be before his real birthday, but it would give a chance for my dad to meet his grandson, and could also serve as a time away for them.

We have some awesome pictures.  It could have only been better if Jimmy had been with us, and if my step-brother and his family were there.  My mom often talks about the daycare situation we will have if all the kids (there are 3 of us) come home for Christmas with kids (Bobby, Maya, Ben, and my twin nieces, Sophie and Grace).  My stepdad says that we'd all have our hands full!

***
And speaking of hands full, PopPop and Daddy are on babyduty while Mimi and Mommy go play!  My mom has arranged some spa time with a friend of hers who has a salon for us, for my birthday!  She told me yesterday, and I'm really excited.  I havent had my hair cut since it was lopped off for bedrest (and that wasnt for style; it was for convenience!) and even then, I dont think I had it washed or any of the bells and whistles! I keep joking with Peter that I'm going to have lime green nails when I come back (which is funny not only because of the color, but because I am soooo bad at keeping nail polish from chipping. My lifestyle is NOT conducive to cute nails).

To start off spa-day early, Peter gave me a foot rub last night and nearly put me to sleep!  I have horribly calloused heels from too many shoeless days (and too many flipflop days).  I have this awesome Origins cream called Reinventing the Heel that is amazing.  My feet, even after this morning's shower, are still feeling the cool menthol.  Yummy!

And, since I brought up barefoot walking, I got some new orthopedic flipflops (I know, I sound like I'm the grandma, but the guys at the running store gave me a hard time for using shower flipflops as my everyday shoes).  If you are a barefoot lover like me, but need something for your feet, I love my new Croc ABFs.  Sarah gave me her orthopedic flipflop catalog (yes, they exist) and I looked through it for something that wouldnt break the bank and would work for me, and I saw these.  I had them shipped to my mom's so they'd be here when I got here, and they are great.  They are very supportive (in fact, when I put my shower shoes on, I feel a HUGE difference) and I feel like I am indeed barefoot (the ABF stands for Almost Bare Foot).  They dont have the little bumps that I always hated about Crocs.  I also got a pair of more dressy ones and they are good for jeans or for a dress! And, best of all, my high arches dont hate me (too much)!

***
While I miss "home", especially with the heat and humidity of my first home, I am sorry to see our trip coming to an end.  There are still people I havent been able to catch up with for one reason or another; although, I think I could be here for a month and still have that situation.  How quickly this time comes to an end...

I would love it if family could make it for the twin's first birthday.  I guess I should start planning it to give out-of-towners an opportunity to make arrangements.  It's hard to believe it's only three months away.  Yesterday they were born, and now, first birthdays.  I somehow have a feeling that, if I blink, they'll be leaving for college or having their own families.

I'll just have to keep my eyes open and enjoy every day for what it is right now.

Heartbreaking

Thursday, June 3, 2010

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If you have a moment, please stop by Courtney's blog.  Her story is one that is close to my heart, as she has delivered second trimester twins and a baby boy too early to save because of IC.  Her son was just delivered and passed away and, as you can imagine, she is heartbroken.

"Maya doesn't love you"...

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We visited my girlfriend Terri last night.  She has two sons; the oldest is moving towards seven and the youngest just turned three.  They are both so sweet to the babies and were all playing nicely together.  (Which, I have to be honest, you wouldn't think a seven year old would want to play with an infant, but he is SO good with them!).  At dinner, we adults were joking around, and "betrothed" Maya and her youngest son to one another.

After dinner, we all were sitting down and CJ, the 3yo, wanted to hold Maya.  Then, he's rubbing her hair and telling all of us that he loves her.  Which is downright adorable.  (Earlier in the evening, the boys each told us that they loved a different baby for XYZ reasons, so no one is thinking too much of this.)  While we are feeding the babies, the boys sit down in the floor to play together, and WC, the oldest child, says "I love Bobby." and then, "I love Maya".  All of a sudden, CJ busts out with "Maya doesn't love you!"

In the midsts of the adults trying not to laugh too hard, I hear him mumble "She loves me".  Well, poor WC starts to cry, and we try to explain that both Bobby and Maya love both boys.  The evening goes on, but at the end, when it is time to say goodbye, CJ hugs Maya and tells her, "I love you."  (I'm sorry to say I missed this exchange because I was getting stuff together.

I truly hope Terri gives her rendition of this on her blog; comedic writing is her forte and I know I didnt give this justice.  We had a great time with awesome friends (and the yummy food didnt hurt either!)

***
On another cute note, my stepdad and mom have a black lab named Tipper, who's around 15 years old.  It's a struggle for her to get from here to there, but she tries.  She loves the babies.  When they are in the spare bedroom (our baby stuff headquarters, where they get changed and fed and nap, etc), she is laying by the bed.  When they are in the living room, she's there.  When Peter and I were in different rooms with a baby each, she would go back and forth.  And if a baby cried, even though I can only imagine how tough it is for her, she would get up and investigate to make sure they were okay.  What a sweetheart.  It is the most lovely thing to watch unfold.

***
I've heard from a number of bloggers who can't make the earlier time on Sunday, but I completely understand.  We will try and reschedule for next time and cancel getting together this weekend.

***
The wi-fi being in and out (as in cutting in and out) is making commenting on blogs pretty nasty.  I try and sometimes succeed, other times, it just times out.  So, if you havent heard from me, rest assured that I am reading (during my morning web time while everyone else sleeps!) but havent been able to comment.

TN Day 5: Spoiled

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

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And I dont just mean the babies!

Coming back "home" is always nice for a little spoiling, and my parents are quite good at that!  It's nice to just walk in the door and feel that "at home" feeling.  My stepdad is a gourmet cook and if I get home without putting on any weight, I'll feel lucky!  I love to cook, but when I'm here, I love to eat!  Last night, I had a pretty nasty headache, so I took a nap and missed dinner, but he kept it warm and I ended up with two servings after I woke up! (And I could have easily eaten a third!!!)  Everything has been phenomenal, but his homemade barbecue (and I do mean HOMEMADE all the way, including the sauce and the smoking and the whole nine yards) and last night's beef stew are unreal!  That, combined with my mom's backrubs... I have to say, I'm in heaven. :)

The kids are doing well, other than being extra cranky at night because they arent getting their normal naps.  They sleep really well in the evenings, but come around 8pm-9pm, the crankopotamus in them comes out.  They usually get a 30m-45m morning nap, a 3 hour afternoon nap, and a good 2 hour evening nap before their last feed and bed each day.  Here, their naps are car catnaps, and then dosing when being held with maybe an hour long afternoon nap, if we can get them down.  So, it can be pretty rough in the evenings.  Last night, Maya sobbed for at least 15 minutes before I finally got her to sleep.  But they are loving the attention.  They easily leave my arms for Mimi and PopPop and Mamaw (my grandmother).  They will reach out and rarely want to come immediately back to Peter or I.

We visited my great grandmother, who sadly, was turned over to hospice care yesterday.  I'm so glad that she was able to see them, hug them, kiss them, and just visit with them.  The time was brief because she is in and out, but when she woke, she remembered them being there.  And that is a big something.  Peter got some pictures, and I want to have my stepdad print them out, so that we can frame them and take them over.  Both babies hugged her neck and gave her baby kisses. :)  I was so proud of them for being friendly and loving to someone they'd never met.  I think it would have been sad, had they cried.  And for her, it was a nice moment.  I'm so happy for that.

I still havent seen my brother or nephew.  There's been drama, but the short end of it is that I havent seen him.  I'm trying to reserve myself until the end of the trip, but it breaks my heart that he hasnt been to visit his niece and nephew, and that I havent seen my brother or nephew.  We havent been invited over (and honestly, with their pit bulls, Peter and I arent comfortable with the babies there), nor has he accepted our invitation to take all the kids to the museum, or my mom's invites to come for dinner.  So, at this point, we are just waiting... and hoping.

I spoke to my stepbrother (who just had the twin girls) and saw some ADORABLE pictures!!!  They are just gorgeous!  Two bundles of sweetness!  They were having a picnic over the weekend, and got the girls to the park.  It was really a lovely photo shoot.  He invited us to stay with them when we visit out west.  We were planning on doing a layover in his neck of the woods so that we could introduce the kids to each other, but he offered for us to stay with them and do a dual trip to their area before moving on to a few nights in CA (with Peter's family).  Which was so sweet.  We are hoping to go in the fall.  I am so excited now to look at actually making plans!  I think it would be wonderful for the cousins to get to know one another, since we live so far apart.

The babies are talking up a storm (most of it in a language they understand, LOL).  Bobby says Mama, Ba (for bottle- thanks Aunt Sarah!) and Ma (for Maya).  Maya says Mommy, Baba (for Bobby), Baby (which she refers to herself, usually when she is upset or crying), and now, as of yesterday, Daddy.  She especially will talk to you, but none of us have figured out her language yet :).  Bobby seems to understand, and the two of them will look at each other and just go back and forth.  I love to watch them, and to watch as they seem to get what the other is talking about.

And, speaking of Aunt Sarah, the baby Camelbak bottles are a HIT!  Maya was constantly wanting my bite-valve Camelbak bottle.  So, Sarah, being the groovy Aunt that she is, went out and got Maya her own... And because she couldnt leave Bobby out, he got one as well!  Even though they are recommended for older kids, these things are awesome.  Both babies know that they need to bite and suck for water, and they love the independence of being able to have their own "like-Mommy-and-Daddy-bottles" that they can use themselves.   I always have to make sure I have these packed before we leave the hotel.

It is hot here.  Hot and humid.  The two main reasons I could never move back full time.  Yuck!  It shouldnt be hot and humid by 8am!

Bobby is walking up a storm.  My mom followed him around, holding his hands for give him the bit of extra balance he needs) and he went everywhere!  He loved the texture of her floors: hardwood, rug, tile.  It was a cornucopia of new experiences!  And, because their yard is a jungle (really... They are PLANT people!) he had a wonderful time exploring the trees when Peter would take him for yard walks.  Mom took both kids to the hammock, which was a wonderful adventure for them, and Maya loves their Korean, low-to-the-floor table, which she can stand at unassisted.  She also has taken to sitting up from laying on her back.  (This happened two days ago when I was trying to lay down with her for a nap).

Well, it sounds as though babies are starting to wake up, so I'd better get dressed and get morning bottles made!

***
Please pray for my cousin.  She went into preterm labor at 33 weeks.  We havent heard anything, other that her water broke and they were taking her to the hospital.

***
Also, I was talking to Peter about the blogger breakfast and he alerted me to the fact that I wrote 1pm.  It should be 10am!  I am so sorry!!!  I realize this may impede those who were thinking of coming, and, if that is the case, I am so sorry...  I'm even sorrier because (gulp) that might be too late of a time!  Peter wants to hit the earliest Mass, have breakfast, and head out right afterwards, since we will "lose" an hour going home.  So... If you think you can make 10am at Noshville's Midtown, drop me a line and let me know!  Otherwise, we'll save our meetup for our next visit!

Falling Down

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

6 comments
Just a quick note, since I'm using the hotel's business station because the wifi is down...  Who knew that, in 2 days, both kids would take spills!  Peter tripped and fell with Bobby on Sunday.  He went down on his thigh, so Bobby hit the floor wrapped in Peter's hands and was fine, just scared.  (Although I think I took a decade off my life span!)  Then, last night, I was holding Maya and she (lightly, but enough to leave a red mark for the evening) smacked her head against the glass dining room table!  No good marks for parenting for us!

But, all in all, we are having a great visit!  I'll update more later...