17 Weeks

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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Can you believe my cheeky little guy is seventeen weeks old!!


He's such a sweet baby.  I just want to eat him up!

Michael wants to grow up too quickly!  He loves to try to "walk"; he sits with us at the table for meals in a little chair that Bobby seemed to grow out of yesterday.  Time flies...  He's still in his 6 month clothes but I have a feeling I'll need to pull out the 6-9s shortly!  He'll be 4 calendar months on Saturday, and he has his 4 month well baby next week.  Can't wait to see how much he's grown!

(On another note, Bobby and Maya had their 4yo check up last week...  B is 41 pounds and 42", M is 30 pounds and 33"!)

Work is going really well. :)  When I asked the GM what I could do to help him, he said "Work more hours"!  I'll take that as a compliment! :)  While the hours seem tough, it's not getting up at 3am that is hard... It's more around 3pm... when I'm tired and ready for bed!  By the time dinner is on the table, around 6:30, I'm trying not to fall asleep at the table!  Getting Michael to bed and turning in myself are usually my only goals by the time the sun goes down!

I think the kids are used to me being gone in the mornings.  Peter really has the morning routine down, and things are going well on that end.  Michael is a chronic nurser once we are back together.  (He's nursing now!)  Of everyone, I think he's having the hardest time (I'm going to say I'm a close 2nd, since I miss him and the kids - and Peter too- in the mornings).

And, speaking of being gone... the NYC Marathon is in 5 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I did a 20 mile training run last Saturday.  Last year, I did 20 in about 4 hours.  This year? It was 4.5 hours.  Not bad for only a month of training but still...  I'm looking at least 6 hours of running this weekend... God help me!


On My Own

Monday, October 21, 2013

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This morning was my last training morning; as of tomorrow, I'll be opening and running the gym for the first 4 hours of the day on my own.  A lot of it is just basic stuff: making sure it's clean, answering phones and questions, etc.  There's also making smoothies (which, I have to admit, I think is kind of cool!) and inventory.  Perhaps it's the librarian in me, but I actually really enjoy the inventory aspect.

Getting up in the morning isn't as hard as you might expect.  Michael gets up between 3am and 3:30am; once I feed him, I hit the shower, grab coffee, pump, and leave.  I'm less than 3 miles from the gym, which is super convenient.  Once I open, I keep pretty busy until it's 9am and I meet Peter with Michael in tow in the parking lot.  He drops the kids at school and then comes down.  We do the baby handoff and I get home to revert back to homemaker extraordinaire. :)

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tired.  I'm exhausted.  You can't start around 3am and go until 9-10pm at night and not be.  But I keep reminding myself that it's worth it. I kept this curtain call during my training for the Marine Corps Marathon because I enjoy running.  I love my family more.  I can do this, tired or not.

Thankfully, the kids seem to be doing okay with it.  Maya tells me she misses me, but so far school hasn't had any issues with them acting out because I'm missing the morning routine.  Truth be told, I think they like having Daddy to themselves. :)

Speaking of the marathon, NYC is in less than 2 weeks!  I'm both excited and terrified.  I'm not nearly as trained as I want to be (or, honestly, need to be).  I know I can do it... But I don't know that I'll be walking afterwards!  I haven't been able to do more than a 15 miler.  I was due for my 20 miler this last weekend, but I ended up not feeling well on Friday (sore throat, sinus headache) and that lasted until last night.  It wasn't too bad on Saturday but I was so busy with things that I planned to do the run Sunday... and then, I ended up on the couch the whole day.  Thankfully, the kids got to spend time with their grandparents (who also fed the kids and Peter) so they had fun even if I was in and out of it on the sofa!  But, needless to say, I'm worried.  I may attempt a 20 this weekend, or I might do another 15.  Regardless, November 3rd has me doing 26.2.  Pray for me!

Sarah and I are leaving for NYC on Saturday and are making a girls weekend of it.  (True friendship is going with you to a Marathon that you aren't even running.  She's awesome.  She's going to cheer me on! Love that girl!!)  I'm sad to be without the kids for the weekend but I know they will have fun with Peter.  And I'm really proud of myself: I've pumped enough milk for Michael for the weekend!  I don't have a lot of time to pump so this has been quite the effort, especially since my morning pumping goes to feed him while I'm at work when he wakes up around 7:30 or so.

Well, I'm pretty trashed... I think I'll go make friends with the sofa until the kids wake up from their nap...

Sacrifice

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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This was my Facebook post this morning: "Props to all the work-outside-the-home parents, including Peter. The guilt I have right now is overwhelming, especially as I left Michael crying."

In addition to warm fuzzies by friends, one of my cousins posted that a mother's life includes sacrifice.  She isn't kidding.  I feel like my heart is being squeezed in a vice grip.  Even though I'm home now, I still feel it.

So, today was day 1.  I'm convinced that Michael is boycotting my new job; for weeks, he's been sleeping from 7:30pm-3:30am.  Since Tuesday?  He's woken at midnight and then 1:20am (today).  Which means, he'll be ready to eat again around 4-4:30am- when I'm leaving.  :(  This morning, as I'm getting ready to leave, I hear him stir and then the tell-tale cry of a hungry baby.  I thought I'd make it out without falling about; that didn't make it easier.  Bobby and Maya were still sleeping and, honestly, it's easier with them because their weekday mornings start between 7 and 7:30 and they are out of the house by 8-8:30 for school, so I'm missing- at most- 90 minutes.  That is still rough, but an hour an half leaves me 3 work hours where I don't have to really regret being away from them each day because, home or the gym, they wouldn't be interacting with me (or even home).  Michael is a different story.  He still does need me; I'm his primary food source and primary caregiver.  I know what his moments are like and I knew that I was missing.  It hurt. A lot.  I turned the music in the car on as loud as I could take it on the way in and just tried to not think about it.

As far as the work morning went, it was fine.  The gym traffic is fairly light that early, so a lot of my responsibilities were inventory and straightening.  It definitely kept me busy, which made the time go by and, before I knew it, I was in the parking lot, where Peter was waiting with the baby.  A baby that cried the entire way home because he just wanted to nurse... which he did... for almost 2 hours.

Enter more guilt.

I've always held a great deal of respect for the parents who leave their mini-me's.  From a racing standpoint, it's been tough on me emotionally, but those were always isolated cases with end dates.  One of my thoughts today was Wow... Peter has done this for four years.  While he always jokes about changing places with me, he dutifully goes to work each morning, swallowing down the lump of what he's missing.  Like most of the working-outside-of-the-home moms and dads do every day (most for more than 4 hours at a time).

For me, one of the hardest comments to respond to are the ones congratulating me on getting out of the house or doing something for myself.  To me, those are comments that mesh more with running or coaching or my monthly Moms Night Out... I know plenty of parents who love to go to work and, frankly, homemaking isn't for everyone.  It is a job, but like many jobs, it's a vocation as well.  I know plenty of stay at home's who count down until they can re-enter the work force.  To each their own and you'll not find judgment from me.  But I believe in the stay-at-home-mom (or dad) model.   It requires sacrifice but, regardless of how children and the home are cared for, you're paying for it: childcare, nannies, school, housekeepers, or a lack of being able to do things because you have to do something else.  Most of the dual income homes I know stress out because their home is never as clean as they want it to be or because they eat out a lot or can't prepare meals the way they want.  The list goes on and on.  I have a similar list- don't get me wrong: especially since Michael, my house is pretty much wrecked on a regular basis because the majority of my time is spent nursing or caring for him.  But our meals are recipes that, often times, I come up with and cook.  I'm able to add homeschooling to what the twins do in class.  The laundry doesn't usually interfere with our weekends and tasks like bill paying and groceries get done, usually, while it's just Michael and I, which leaves me the time I need to coach cross country (and to run for myself).  Financially, there is a hit when you only one income, but we're happy.  We bought a less expensive house than many folks we know because we wanted something we could afford.  Our cars are 10 years and 12 years old (but paid off!).  One income was tough but doable.

Enter special needs.  Enter a new baby.  Enter "health care reform".  I wont get on my soap box about the state of our government, but I'll say this.  A fair majority of the reason I went back to work can be summed up by what happened when I called our insurance.  I was told: "I'm sorry; due to the new healthcare laws, you're going to be responsible for more than what your plan pays."  Really?  I had 27 week twins that spent 9 weeks in the NICU on top of my 7 weeks as in inpatient PLUS my other pregnancies and deliveries PLUS the fees associated with fertility treatments and this pregnancy- my perfect, spontaneous, in-and-out delivery (even with our one overnight due to his jaundice after) is more than all of those... combined????  Oh, and we have to cover, out of pocket, the speech services for Bobby, even though they are as a result of an Autism diagnosis? Wow... How much fun all of this would be if we didn't have good insurance! 

But enough about that.  I'm pissed off about it, but I'm more grateful.  I'm so very grateful that, within a week of making the decision to find part time work, I had an interview.  I'm so very grateful that, after interviewing on a Thursday, I had a job offer the following Monday, and started work today.  I'm so very grateful for having the chance to work at what most folks consider crazy hours in the early morning which affords me back to full time mommying and housewifing by 9am.  It's tough because I cant imagine a scenario where I can get to bed by 7pm in order to get enough sleep before my 3am wake up, but there are so many other scenarios that wouldn't be nearly as advantageous.  And I'm grateful to be in an environment that suits me.  I knew I couldn't return to library land if I wanted to keep my weekends free for my family, my days free to volunteer in the school, and my evenings free to coach and train.  It just wouldn't work.  Being in a gym keeps me connected to a fit, healthy lifestyle, offers the possibility for fitness class instruction, and gives me the flexibility with my personal time that I need.  Win-win.

It's not getting up and out that is tough; but leaving the kids is rough.  I don't know that it will get easier- people tell me it will, but I have a feeling it's like loss.  It becomes part of your day, but it doesn't get easier.  I'll always wonder what I'm missing and what they are doing without me.  But they know I love them and, in a way, running has given them the knowledge that what I'm doing is for them (a healthy, running mama in this household makes for a much happier, laid back mommy and that makes EVERYONE happy!).  They'll realize as they get older that leaving them for these few hours that they aren't really all that aware of is helping our household and is for them... It's just another way of me loving them.

I guess that is the lesson that the parents who leave every day take with them and hold close to them when they look at the clock and wonder.  Love comes in all ways.  It's what I'll be remembering tomorrow morning before the sun comes up...

...Even if I am wiping away a tear, too.

Getting Back On the Horse

Monday, October 14, 2013

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I rode horses as a kid. Not all the time, mind you, but whenever I could, I was in the saddle.  We grew up fairly poor but my parents would scrimp and save for special occasions, like birthdays and Christmas.  Whenever I was able to ride, it was a piece of heaven.  I haven't had the opportunity to ride much as an adult, but I've had the joy of watching the twins embrace my love.

Bobby: November 2011

Maya: April 2013


I rarely look into riding for myself these days... Instead, I look into riding for the kids.  It seems nuts... the things that you love to do going to a back burner because you want what your kids love.  What do we do on our birthdays? Mine was spent at the zoo (I really don't like zoos... but the kids do!) and Peter's included a trip to the kids museum we are members of.  Our cakes were kid approved.  It's that sort  of thing.  And, what's more interesting, is that we like it that way. 

There's a new horse in the barn. 

I've applied for employment... outside of the home.  It's part time, a few hours in the early morning, opening up a local gym.  There's an opportunity to pick up some class teaching too, as the gym expands their offerings.  So, I'm excited... and nervous. 

I prayed for a position that would allow us to pay off the expenses associated with Michael's pregnancy and delivery as well as start saving for the possibility of needing to pay for an aide for Bobby in Kindergarten.  I'm not normally one to pray with stipulations, but my largest concern was for the kiddos.  I wanted to be able to still be a stay-at-home mom and not disrupt the kids' lives.  While this will be a change for them (Peter will have to balance feeding Michael around 7am while getting himself ready for work, the twins ready for school, and then dropping the twins off), I will still be able to be the homeroom mom at school, be with them on their vacations, and take care of Michael, as well as keep coaching cross country.  When this position opened up, I applied, interviewed last week, and was hopeful.  And today? I got the call! 

I'm nervous... It's been years since I was in the workforce.  But I'm excited for the new opportunity!

I'm Already There

Thursday, October 10, 2013

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I was sixth in the pick up line on Monday.  Michael was napping and we left a little later than usual.  My car was sitting where the building curves and, as I nursed Michael, I had a view of a beautiful view of this tree, swaying in the breeze as sunlight dipped and lit up the leaves from above.  For a moment, all I wanted in the world was to be waiting in the pick up line and trying to figure out how to quickly get all of the kids in the car.  My breath caught.  My eyes watered.  My hands were shaking. What I wouldn't give, just for a moment, to have you here. Unbidden, tears began to slide down my cheeks and I pinched my eyes closed to try and stop them. 

I'm already there. Take a look around: I'm the sunshine in your hair; I'm the shadow on the ground; I'm the whisper in the wind; I'm your imaginary friend and I know I'm in your prayers. I'm already there...

Opening my eyes, I looked at the tree.  The wind had stopped and, there, in the shadows cascading on the ground, where sunlight and the ether met, I saw them.  Outlines.  Images.  Reflections.  Tall, taller, tallest.  Boy, girl, boy. Kindergarten sweats, first grade jumper, first grade uniform. The wind blew.  The dust dispersed.  The shadows became an image that was gone.

I'm already there: don't make a sound. I'm the beat in your heart; I'm the moonlight shining down. I'm the whisper in the wind and I'll be there until the end. Can you feel the love that we share? I'm already there.

I gasped in air, a sob escaping in the mix. The gentle tug reminded me that I was still a mother feeding a child and, trying to collect myself so that I wouldn't bathe my infant in my tears, I looked down at Michael, content and nursing.  Smiling a huge smile.  And, in his eyes, seeing it.  Really, truly seeing it- seeing them.

We may be a thousand miles apart but I'll be with you wherever you are: I'm already there. Take a look around: I'm the sunshine in your hair; I'm the shadow on the ground. I'm the whisper in the wind and I'll be there until the end. Can you feel the love that we share? I'm already there.

***

Peter is the king of night time.  He handles bath time and bed time; sometimes I'm taking care of household tasks that need to be finished or, if Michael isn't already in bed, I'm getting him squared away.  As Peter was making the call for bath, Bobby went in to do his "business" and Maya ended up being ready for his bath with nowhere to go (since Bobby was using the bathroom where they take their baths).  Michael was already in bed and I invited Maya to snuggle while she waited.  So, there we were, two chicks, snuggling under fresh, flannel sheets, and chatting about our day.

"Gaea is my sister."

This is something she tells us all the time.  Sometimes, it's "Gaea Sophia", rarely just "Sophia", and usually "Gaea" by itself.  Perhaps because it rhymes with "Maya", but I don't know.

"Yes, she is," I reply.  I'm happy that she know this... That, as much as she begs me for a baby sister, she realizes she has a sister... Just one that isn't growing up with her.

She goes on last night to tell me that she plays with Gaea and with her brothers, Peter and Nathaniel.  Because I'm curious, I ask her why she calls them by their first names when we've always called them by their middle names.  "I say Peter and Gaea and Nathaniel.  You call them Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander. It's their names."  No real answer, but I'm reminded that Jimmy always called me "Chele" as a kid... it's why my parents started.  Sea shell...  See Chele sell sea shells by the sea shore.

"They live with Jesus."  She is smiling, happy.  Just telling me about how they play and talk.  They like trains... they read stories... they crunch in leaves.  "We live in Earth."  Bobby talks to them and to the Angels.  They play when they sleep... They play when they wake up.

I try to keep a smile on my face, try to keep the tears at bay.  Maya is sensitive- she will cry if I cry.  But worse, in that moment, she will stop talking.

She is looking at the portrait my dad painted.  "PawPaw painted that picture."  We identify the people in the photo.  I can't help but ask... Did PawPaw get it right?  Is that what they look like?  Really?

She says yes.  Even as she tells me that "Gaea has white hair" when in the photo, her hair is near black.

We lay there for a while, her telling me about Peter and Gaea and Nathaniel, me sucking in the information like it is oxygen when, in reality, I feel like I'm trapped under the Atlantic, my lungs engulfed by the water, my eyes burning from the salt.  I'm dying while I'm alive.  My heart is breaking while it beats.  Eventually, Bobby finishes his business and gives me a giant, bear hug before he and Maya disappear into the bathroom for bath.

And I sob.  And sob.  And sob.  Into my hand, into my pillow.  Anything to muffle the sound so that they wont hear, so that the baby wont wake up.  So that these three children I have at home, who give my days sunlight and my moments meaning, wont see how much the loss of the three children I have in heaven, who light up my darkest nights with their bright, shining startlight and have made my life what it is, has destroyed me, has revived me, has made me.

In that moment, all I wanted was a bed full of kids ready for bath, ready for bed.  Kids who, like Bobby and Maya, converged after they were pajama'd to sing songs with me and have me recite by memory the words to On the Night You Were Born... the book I'd first read to my belly, when my pregnancy with Nicholas and Sophia was confirmed, nearly six years ago.

I'm already there: don't make a sound. I'm the beat in your heart; I'm the moonlight shining down. I'm the whisper in the wind and I'll be there until the end. Can you feel the love that we share? I'm already there.

Sleep came.  And, as much as I wanted them, my dreams were silent. No images. No thoughts. No wanting someone here.

Perhaps because they were already there.

--
The words to "I'm Already There" can be found here; a music video can be found here.

14w (a day late!)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

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Here he is!  Mr. Michael was 14 weeks old yesterday (and still just as cute as ever).

14 weeks
According to our home scale, Michael is 13 pounds (gulp!).  He's just so long, though, that he doesn't look hefty at all.  He was mistaken for a baby much younger at the farmer's market (probably due to that!).  He loves to smile and is learning how to play with some of his toys.  He still hates the car (but he likes to watch himself in the car mirror we got him.)

I still can't believe I'm going to leave him and do the NYC Marathon.  I'm pumping (or trying to) daily to store up some milk for him, since I don't want him to be hungry while I'm gone.  I feel guilty.  :(  He'll barely be 4 months old and I'll be gone for anywhere from 12 hours (if I don't spend the night, that is the minimum) to 36 hours.  Being away from him that long, I think, is going to be emotionally painful to say the least.  It's not easy with the twins, but they are old enough now that they do things for themselves and like some independence.  Michael is still so dependent...  It breaks me to think that I'll be away from him and he will miss me and not be able to express himself.  I almost want to just do it in a day without an overnight for that reason!  We shall see...  The big kicker is that, in staying over, I can pump milk beforehand.  Not being able to do that scares me that I'll screw up our breastfeeding journey.  And that I don't want to do!

Speaking of breastfeeding, we've been discussing adding solids at the 4 month mark, which is what we did with the twins.  We've decided to wait until the 6 month mark.  There is research all over the place and people have all sorts of opinions, but it looks like (God willing!) we'll keep with EBF for 10 more weeks or so!

3 months!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

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As promised, here's "Doc" at 3 months and, according to our scale, a whopping 12 pounds!!

A Marathon Session

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Looks like I have a lot to catch up on in this blogging session.  Michael is napping, I'm pumping, and the twins are visiting my in-laws, so hopefully I'll have a nice, fifteen minute pop to give you a marathon session of blogging!

First off, Michael was christened on Sunday!!  I don't have any photos yet, but it was a beautiful day and we were all just so thrilled.  I'll give a play by play once I have some photos, but suffice it to say, it was just awesome.

My mom arrived the Thursday before and her first question once we were home was "Do you have a ladder?"  She hadn't been here an hour and she was cleaning out gutters.  Her second key question: "Is there a Lowes near here?"  Two trips to Lowes and her gardening hands later, and my yard was transformed.  Every time I look at the hanging flower baskets, the newly mulched beds, or the bright yellow mums, I miss her.  She left yesterday and it's been empty here without here.  Last night, Bobby was finishing dinner and looked up, asking "Mimi?"  And Maya kept telling me yesterday before she left for school that "Mimi will be here" when they got home.  I wish, kiddos... How I wish.  But her visit was wonderful and I am SO glad she could make it.
Mimi and Michael, 9/25/13

Yesterday, Michael was 13 weeks old and today, he's officially 3 calendar months old!  He's full of smiles and is starting to grasp at toys (much to Maya's happiness!).  He will bear weight on his legs and has even "stood" while holding my finger.  It's crazy to think that time is going by this quickly.  In the next few months, we'll be experimenting with solid foods...  He's still an awesome nurser and I hope that remains his primary source of nutrition but I have a feeling that, like Bobby, he's also going to LOVE eating food.
Michael's first swing: 9/25/13
Since he's still sleeping, I'll get a "3 month old" picture when he wakes up.  We started our day with a 5 mile run that ended up being 4.5 miles instead.  Not even a mile in, and I was sitting on the side of the trail, nursing...  That lasted him until the last half mile when he cried the entire time and I cut it short.  I held him as we walked back to the car and he was all giggles.  Adorable... until he realized we weren't eating until we got home!  Oh was he unhappy!!  Once home, he nursed a solid hour.

I had to go through his closet last week and toss the last of the 3-6 months.  He's totally in 6 month clothes now.  While he doesn't fill them out weight wise, he is just too long.  3 month onesies don't snap!  He also has been sleeping so well at night.  Last night, he went down a little after 7 and didn't get up until 4. 

This is awesome for many reasons, but it will be great for marathon training.

Wait? What?  You heard me: marathon training.  Because, clearly, I don't have enough to do.

A year ago, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for Alex's Lemonade Stand.  Well, they had a last minute cancelation and, long story short, I was offered the spot... for the (wait for it...) NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The extra fun part? It's a month away.  Yeah... As in, November 3rd.

It's not unheard of for someone to train for a 26 miler in a month (although it's not advised... and, seriously? I'm not advising it.)  It's insane, but not impossible.  I've been running since Michael's birth and, while I'm not excited about doing the long runs I've mapped out for this month, I know that I can do them.  It's all about finding the time and wrapping my brain around doing them.  Running distance is 90% mental... I keep reminding myself of that.

For those that are interested, here's my mileage for the month:
It's my hope to do the majority of the mileage outside; doing more than 3-5 miles on the treadmill will suck.  Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have XC practice, so that will up my mileage in spurts when I'm running with the kids.  Wednesdays (in October) I'm teaching prenatal yoga, so that will be a nice cross training; I also plan to do some XT on Sundays, since that's my "Off" day (2 miles at a recovery pace is really nothing, so I'm counting it as "off".  I just know that, if I don't do something, I'll be stiff and uncomfortable.)

Running with a stroller?  Yeah... when that tops a 5K, it (for me at least) really sucks.  In order to avoid doing long runs with Michael, I'm going to have to sacrifice some sleep.  Hopefully, if he keeps up with the 4am wake time, I can feed him and go out right after, getting home just as Bobby and Maya are waking up (and Michael is ready to eat again) on my longest runs.  On Saturdays, I'll play it by ear, since Peter is home. 

What sane woman runs a marathon with a 4 month old at home? You got me... Clearly, not sane over here.

Well, Michael is waking up... More to come!