LUCKY SEVENS

Grant and Maria were frozen for 7 years. On the 17th of September, they were transferred into me where they spent the next 7 months cooking and were born on the 17th of April. Today, on the 17th of November, they are 7 months old. I feel like a broken record, but it seems crazy to me that they are over half way to their first birthday. This song by Darius Rucker (formerly known as “Hootie” from Hootie and the Blowfish) reminds me to cherish each and every stage.

I think the world we live in prevents us from being “in the moment” and I often hear parents talk about how they can’t wait for this or that milestone. I try not to fall into that trap. Each stage has its advantages and disadvantages and I already find myself wishing we could go back and have some of those early days back again. As new parents we were in such a fog, that I don’t know that we enjoyed things as much as we could. Thankfully, we have TONS of pictures. (I also hear expectant moms complain about how they feel and how much they want their babies to come early. As a mom to preemies, this is difficult to hear; NICU life stinks and babies are meant to cook for 40 weeks for a reason.) Remember, it won’t be like this for long. Enjoy each day.

So, in honor of their seven month birthday, here are seven things that I chose to enjoy about this stage in our lives.

1. I enjoy the fact that Maria will sing herself to sleep as she experiments with different sounds.
2. I enjoy the fact that sometimes she prefers Jeremy to me and will spread her arms across his broad chest and rest her head on him.
3. I enjoy the fact that Grant seems to have a multi-chambered stomach – one used for nourishment and one that appears to be a reserve tank utilized for spit up.
4. I enjoy the fact that we have to create a fort around Grant and must secure his Wubbanub paci to him so it doesn’t fall out of his mouth resulting in panic.
5. I enjoy the fact that dual nursing is creating its own challenges now as they reach out and poke one another in the eyes if I don’t get their bottom arms properly secured.
6. I enjoy the fact that they aren’t yet mobile and that the dog bowl and litter boxes are safe for now.
7. I enjoy the fact that even though we might not always sleep the whole night and we change approximately 480 diapers a month we have two healthy babies who are growing like weeds and are always pumped to see their mom or dad.

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DOLLYWOOD AT CHRISTMAS

On Thursday we went to DollyWood and it got us all in the mood for Christmas. So this weekend we put up four Christmas trees. Brian helped me put up the largest one which I decorated it while the children had a nap. Then the twins assisted me with two others when they woke-up. They loved putting on the ornaments and taking them off again to put on another tree. I tried to explain the “themed” trees to them, but they still wanted to put the Mickey Mouse ornaments on the Victorian tree. We all had a great time and I am quite tired. The last tree is for their room for all their ornaments and I hope to get to that by next weekend.

This morning the twins and I went to the mall. On the way home we were going over the letters of the alphabet along with the sound they make and a word as well. When we got to the letter “J” I said the sound along with the word “Jeannie.” Julian then said the sound and “JESUS!” I was so very proud of him we had to call and leave a message with Dad and then call and tell Grammy.

These are the times I miss my Mom the most, when the twins do something great—this is almost every day. And with the holidays fast approaching I decided to do things that would make her smile. I used Christmas balls and put them in glass bowls like she used to do and I have come up with several other ways to honor my Mother. This I am hoping will help me to get through our first holiday season without her.

PROOF THAT APPLES DON’T FALL TOO FAR FROM THE TREE

A few weeks ago, Joel had come home with math homework that needed to be signed.  He had one correct out of six.  A grade this low is highly unusual for him; for the most part everything comes easily to him.  When I looked at the examples he had gotten wrong, I saw that they were simple mistakes, i.e. not looking at the sign, not completing all parts of the question, etc.  I reviewed it with him before signing, and I noticed that as we took the time to look at it, he was catching the mistake before I could point it out.  He corrected everything on his own, I signed it, and decided to take it one step further.  I contacted his teacher to discuss this matter, and we determined it was as I suspected, he’s rushing to complete his work.  I bet you’ll never guess the reason why.  He wants to finish his seat work so he can read his book.  It could be worse, at least he’s not disrupting the others by fooling around. (I can’t say too much about this, I used to do the same thing.  I would take my book out for recess and find a quiet spot to read.)  His teacher and I both agreed to speak to him about this, and if it continues he won’t be allowed to keep his book in his desk, it will have to stay in his backpack until SSR (sustained silent reading) time.  I know, we are such meanies!!!

Just when I get one kid straightened out and think everything is fine, I see that Ryan has an F in Science when I check his grades which are emailed to me daily.  Apparently he had 3 F’s on assignments that weren’t handed in, but I thought he had earned the failing grades.  I emailed the teacher, and questioned Ryan later that day after school.  Two of the F’s were from assignments that he had missed when we were in CA, and one he had just handed in a packet for.  Ryan told me he had made arrangements to complete the first two assignments during Study Halls, but the teacher never showed.  Who does he think he’s kidding?  Does he think I never attended High School, or that I’m so old I don’t remember it?  I told him that was no excuse, he had until the end of the week to complete everything and hand it in.

When I talked to my husband about these things, and told him we need to review Joel’s homework with him each night, and look at Ryan’s assignments, he agreed.  Things have been going better with them, and I’m once again starting to think all is well, when Ryan spends the entire weekend completing an English assignment.  Not just the assignment, but READING the book as well!!!  His reasoning was that he doesn’t like to read, and has trouble remembering what he has read, so he saved it to do at once.  I told him that is all the more reason to do a little at a time, start as soon as the work is assigned and take notes as he goes.  He worked ALL weekend on it, and managed to complete everything for Monday.  When I said something to Jim, he questioned me if I had never waited until the last minute to do my school work.  I told him no, I started as soon as it was assigned.  (His motto had been to wait, so he can relate to Ryan’s way of thinking).  He once again called me a geek, and that was the end of the discussion.

It may be true that I’m a geek, but I think it is clear to see that they are chips off the old blocks!  Conferences are this week, I can just imagine what will be said.  I think I’m going to send in a note saying my dog ate my slip with my conference date!  Do you think it will work?

TRIP WITH THE GRANDPARENTS, PART 2

When we arrived in Gatlinburg Wednesday morning we were able to check into our hotel and then walk the downtown area and have lunch. We then went back for a swim in the very warm pool after which the twins took a nice long nap. Natalie got up first so she and I walked downtown again waiting for Julian to wake-up (Dad was in the room with him) and meet Grammy and Gramps for dinner. Natalie had to stroll her baby around town, while we went in shops. She attracted lots of attention as always. While we were walking I gave Patty a call to see how the wedding went, she was at work, but I got to talk to her Mother in-law which was very nice. I got to hear about the wedding and got a promise of pictures soon.

Julian and Dad met us and we went in and out of all the candy stores while we waited for the grandparents. We ate dinner then went back to the hotel for another swim. You would have thought they would have been very tired, but they wanted to play with the grandparents. It was hard to get them into bed.

The next day the men went into Cherokee while Grammy and I took the twins to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. It was raining outside, so we thought we would just drive. I soon realized that my keys were locked in the car and Dad had the other pair. So we walked in the rain and thankfully did not melt.

When we arrived there the twins just wanted to be held, but we tried to get them to walk. Then Natalie cried because she is scared of the dark and we were entering a dark area. I gave in and carried her, until we got to a lighted area. We got to see the penguin exhibit and they enjoyed playing with the penguin statue. Natalie would not crawl through the tunnel to have them swim around her, but Julian crawled in while holding onto me for dear life.

We soon entered another dark area which featured crabs, which Julian freaked out over. Grammy tried to get Julian to take a picture with her and he just wanted to be with me. When I handed him over he laid on the floor and cried. Grammy thinks he did not want to see her for a while after that since she was the culprit of trying to get him to see animals that he was afraid of.

Julian claimed that the pink octopus was Natalie’s favorite; he has been doing that for a while, speaking for Natalie. He has even gone as far as stating things she hears! I try and discourage him from making decisions for her, but I think when she does not agree she does speak up. When they were babies I would have never thought Julian would have been the dominant one.

Once we had been there three hours we were ready to go back and take a nap! Daddy called and they were back at the room also, so that was great timing. We all rested then enjoyed a meal at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. It was our last night there and it had turned quite cold. We decided to walk back to our warm room.

The next morning we ate at the Pancake Pantry then got on the road. It was snowing in the mountains and some roads were already shut down. We did not see any snow, it was just cold. Grammy and I did some shopping on the drive back while the boys rode around trying to get the twins to sleep. Once the boys had enough, our shopping was over and it was back to reality. We had a great time, but like with all vacations the time goes by too quickly.

TWO PEAS IN A POD

A year ago this week we told our close friends and family that we were expecting twins. Jeremy and I had known for several weeks, but wanted to digest the news for a bit before we shared. Plus, I was pretty paranoid about “vanishing twin syndrome” so I wanted to see and hear two heartbeats at our 9 week ultrasound. Of all the ultrasounds we had, I think this was my favorite. Grant and Maria were still mostly giant heads, but had sprouted arms and legs, which I found very cute. Even at 9 weeks gestation their personalities were showing. Grant, Mr. Social, waved his little arm at us and I’m sure if we looked close enough he was smiling. Maria refused to put on a show for us and swam away from the camera.

I wanted to find a cute way to tell our parents that we were having twins. I found a small picture frame that said “Two Peas in a Pod” that had two photo openings. My dad immediately put their ultrasound photos in the frame and they are still in there today. At nine weeks, they were taking shape and to all of us were clearly babies. It was truly amazing how much they had changed in just three weeks. At the six-week ultrasound they looked like two little sacs with a flicker of a heartbeat. One of the best things I’ve ever heard was the sound of their hearts. Jeremy and I said it sounded like thoroughbred horses thundering down the racetrack. That sound would be something I eagerly anticipated at each doctor’s visit. Even though I would eventually feel them moving all the time, I was always relieved to hear their hearts pumping away. Not surprisingly, Maria’s was always hard to find, which gave my midwife and OBGYN fits as they chased her around.

This time last year, I was also sick as a dog. Not only did I spend at least five minutes (five minutes felt like an eternity) dry heaving every morning, I was practically narcoleptic during the day, but restless at night. My blood volume had increased to support Grant and Maria’s development and the sound of my pulse kept me awake. When I would finally sleep, my bladder started to speak. I was thinking that there was no way I would ever voluntarily get pregnant again. I continued to think that until last week when I saw a newborn baby and thought, “that wasn’t so bad, I could do that again.” I told Jeremy this last night and he looked at me like I was nuts. I guess it’s some sort of pregnancy and newborn amnesia. I think God designed us this way so we would have more children. If we really remembered how difficult pregnancy and newborn land could be, we wouldn’t ever do it again. Jeremy says he still remembers and at this point, we’re done. As for me, the jury is still out.

Embryo adoption researcher seeks volunteer interview subjects

PhotobucketIf you have participated in embryo donation or adoption, or if you’ve simply looked into it, you’ve probably asked at least one question to which the answer was, “We don’t know yet.” The body of legitimate research is growing, but there will never be too much.

Hannah Dowling, a student at Elon University in North Carolina, has chosen embryo adoption as the subject of her undergraduate research project, and has the support of her faculty there. We at NEDC are happy to pass along an invitation for you to participate in her project. Be aware that your participation is entirely voluntary, that it will not affect your care in any way, and that your interaction with Hannah will be entirely external to NEDC and any of its programs.

Feel free to read Hannah’s appeal here. And if you are so moved, reach her via the email provided for additional information and perhaps next steps.

Chris Barrett
NEDC New Media Coordinator