Maria must be reading my blog and perhaps was a bit embarrassed at her excessive pooping. Over the weekend she had a total of 4 poopy diapers. Saturday was just one small compact lump. Yesterday, she increased to three deliveries, but nothing like what was being established as a norm. Jeremy got the last one and declared it large, but I can’t be certain that it was truly making up for Saturday’s lack of activity. We’ll see what she has in the chamber today.
Grant seems to have backed off a bit as well, but after inspection of a delivery yesterday I determined that he still hasn’t perfected the finer art of chewing. Took me a minute to identify the zucchini they had for dinner the night before. At least he ate the zucchini, right?
Speaking of poop… our dog loves to visit the cat litter boxes, and I’ve been waiting for the day when one of the babies breaks through the baby gate and gets into the boxes. I’ve seen increasing curiosity regarding that area of the laundry room, but I think (hope) I might have foiled their diabolical plan. It was actually an unintended benefit of keeping our older cat, Ally, from throwing litter all over the place and tracking it through the house. It’s a top entry litter box that prevents litter from being slung out and traps what is on their paws as they get out. I was skeptical, but it does work and I no longer have litter all over the place. When I was researching this new cat toilet, the final selling point was is that it prevents small dogs and toddlers from getting in. (I guess Grant and Maria aren’t the first kids who ever were curious about the cat’s toilet.) I’m not naïve enough to think they won’t ever be able to break into the box, but I think it will at least slow them down.
This past weekend we went to two birthday parties. One was for the twins’ friend Amelia on Saturday and one was for their friend Matthew on Sunday and what fun we all had! Amelia had a Mickey Mouse birthday party, which I have to say, I would like myself! Then Matthew had one at the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge with a train exhibit. The children love trains, so it was just a great day. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends to share their special day with.
I have been planning a memory birthday party for my mother and was talking to my Aunt Nancy about it. Julian asks almost every day if he can have another pool party and we tell him next year he can. So when I got off the phone with my aunt, I thought Julian would be so happy we were going to be having another pool party. I explained to the twins that we were having a memory birthday party for Grandma since her birthday would have been on September 1. Julian said in his very whiny voice, “But, Grandma did not come to my party!” That just made me cry, and laugh at the same time. I told Julian that Grandma was in heaven with Jesus and God and that is why she did not come to his birthday party. He then said, “But God, lives in my heart!” I then tried to explain the trinity to him and that the Holy Spirit really lives in our hearts, and that God and Jesus are in heaven. I think I got in way over my head just trying to have a memory birthday party for my Mom and trying to explain it to my very curious son. At times some topics just seem a bit overwhelming to discuss with your child. I think more for parents than for the child, at least that is how it was for me!
Can anyone tell me what the normal amount of poopy diapers is for any one toddler? I know newborns poop a lot…it’s how you can tell they are getting enough milk. But, my kids, Maria in particular, are taking poop to a whole new level. It is not uncommon for this child to poop 4 or 5 times a day. And these are not dainty little poops. These are massive, unlady-like poops. Poops that would put hair on any man’s chest. We were getting away with one big box of 234 diapers per month. But, not now…they’ve upped the ante and refuse to poop in anything but a fresh diaper, resulting in the need to increase the diaper budget. I’m sure this is completely unrelated to their high fruit and vegetable intake. Of course, I can appreciate a good poop. I come from a family who prides themselves on a healthy colon…a healthy colon is a happy colon…you should have been around when my parents and brother did a Colonix colon cleanse. I recall an email from my brother that left me in tears as he relayed pooping something from his childhood and his apologies to the hotel cleaning staff. I digress… Anyway, maybe Grant and Maria need some excess cheese in their diets to bind them up a bit. I guess we can rest assured that the plumbing is in working order, but sometimes it’d be nice to go a day without poop.
So much for deep thoughts…I just need answers about poop. And speaking of poop…tub poop no longer makes me gag. My dear sweet Maria manages to poop in the tub at least once every two weeks. Sometimes I catch her poo face and posture and can pluck her from the tub before she does the deed, but not always. I feel sorry for Grant, whose beloved bath time gets cut short as a result.
What else do I no longer find disgusting? I pick boogers with my bare hands and clean faces with my own spit. Hopefully I have washed my hands between booger picking and face cleaning. I can identify the meal they had the day before based on the odor from the diaper. Black beans and black berries make for an interesting menagerie of scents. Finding whole blue berries and raisins in the diaper make me wonder why I even bothered putting the food on their trays in the first place. Yes, these are the things you can look forward to as a parent. Sweet bundles of biohazards!
Grant and Maria have enjoyed summer and experienced some firsts, including a haircut for Maria and steps for both. We’ve had lots of fun swimming at my parents and playing at parks. They’ve eaten their weight in berries and learned how to make toys out of kitchenware and Granddad’s truck. They graduated from swimming lessons, learned new songs in music class, and all the while got their fair share of bumps, bruises and mosquito bites. Maria was sure to wear her shades while Grant got dark just thinking about the sun. Enjoy some photo highlights of all the fun.
The other day we were going to church and Julian looked over at Natalie in the car and said, “Natalie, I just love your shoes!” Brian and I decided that Julian will make the best date and all the girls will love him! Natalie went on to show him the bottom of her shoes and how they had rain drops on them and they counted the raindrops together. It was so sweet.
A few days later I heard Natalie go up to Julian and say, “Julian do you love my shoes?” At that point I realized that Natalie had been training Julian to tell her how wonderful she looked, by asking him how much he loved each item she had on. Training early always has its advantages. Some people learn quicker than others and I have to say Julian is learning quite quickly how to sweet talk the ladies, thanks to Natalie.
I am so blessed to have them and see how much they love each other. We all have so much fun together. They just hug and kiss each other when they wake up, it is so sweet. Yesterday was Julian’s interview to see if he was ready for Karate, which I won three months free, thanks to the Knoxville Multiple’s Club and Knoxville Academy of Martial Arts. I am not sure he is 100% ready, but he did much better by the end of the interview. So he starts his first class on Monday. He was so proud of himself, when he kicked the wood and broke it in half! I have to admit, I was excited too! Natalie starts ballet in September, so we were very excited to start this for Julian. It is hard to believe they are old enough to start classes. We will see if he continues to like the classes next week and if he still gives his sister hugs and kisses and not karate kicks when he is mad at her.
This morning the twins and I went to the doctor to get a recheck on Natalie’s ear. I am happy to report that it is cleared up and that they each got the flu vaccine as well. I then wanted to talk to their doctor about an appointment card I had received in the mail for Natalie to visit a cardiologist. When the letter came in the mail I was shocked to think how an office could make such a mistake. When I called, no mistake had been made it is a three year follow-up from the NICU. My doctor was going to research why she needed to go and get back to me. Since this morning I have done my own research and discovered that she had a heart murmur in the hospital (the doctor does not hear one now) and that she had an echocardiogram that the best I can understand was consistent evidence of a heart murmur. All I can say, is I wish my Mom was here!!! She was a charge nurse for CCU and was so knowledgeable about many things, but really knew about the heart and all that it entailed. I got to talk to my aunt who is also a nurse and I am just going to fax the paper to Natalie’s primary care doctor to review to see if the appointment is still needed.
Having this come up has made me think back to the times in the NICU. It all seems like a bit of a fog. I do not remember any heart issues with either of them, but I know if I was told she had a heart murmur I would not have been too concerned since my family has them as well. I was not really worried about them in the NICU like most parents would have been. I think is because I was just so thankful they were alive. For me in my situation that in itself was a miracle being born at 30 weeks sure beats 18 weeks!
When I went to the Beth Moore conference a few weeks ago with the ladies from my church, the Director of Children’s Ministry told the story about coming to the hospital to see me right after surgery to have my cervix stitched up. In the operation room the doctor asked me what I had been doing the night before, since I was in so much worse shape than when he saw me the day before. Since I had been admitted to the hospital, he knew I had been lying in bed, but he wondered why I had not called for help. I told him I did not know anything was wrong. Apparently, my cervix had gotten much shorter and they did not have much to stich up and the doctor told me that they had done the best they could, but he just did not think the twins were going to survive. I was so upset I cried and cried while the nurses were telling me to stop that crying would not help the babies. Several doctors came in and out and by this time I was having preterm labor. They gave me IV medication to stop the labor, but the doctor told me that if it got worse and the twins were going to be born they would have to cut me open. All this great news was draining me and I needed prayers over me. So I had Brian call my sister-in-law Tracy to have the pastors of her church, where I grew-up, come and pray over me. Brian and I were not members of a church at this time and were going to two different ones, but had not made a commitment to just one.
The director, Sherry, shared that when Tracy called she picked up the phone and did not know what to do since the pastors were in a meeting that they could not be disturbed from. She did not know what to do and was fearful I would lose the babies before the pastors got out of their meeting. The youth minister told her that both of them could go and pray over me, but she thought she could not do it. On the way to the hospital they came up with a plan and that both of them would pray. Well when they got there I asked them to lay hands over me and the director laid her hand over my belly and then the rest of them laid theirs on hers. Brian said she had a beautiful prayer, I cannot remember it, but then the plan was for others to pray as well, but then the youth director said amen after the first prayer. Apparently he was so shaken up that was all he could do. Sherry said that when she went back to work every phone call she would jump and wondered if it was Tracy calling her with an update on the twins. Sherry said she could feel the twins moving and just knew they were healthy and alive in my belly. It was very touching for her and she shared the experience that night with others at church. She also said that at the end of the year she had to tell of the most moving things that had happened that year and she told the story of when she went to the hospital to pray over me and the twins. The church continued to pray for me and also bring me food since I was on bed rest throughout my pregnancy. I know it is those prayers and those of many others that got me and the twins through the next few months.
That story is so meaningful to me because not only did Alcoa United Methodist Church pray for me and my twins, but they also prayed for me when I was born at 34 weeks and had a volvulus that required me to have ¾ of my small intestine removed. I was the first baby to live from UT Medical Center (where the twins were also born) with this condition. In fact one of the NICU doctors came to see me when I was in the hospital with pre-term labor to just see that I was healthy and alive. He told me that babies are still born with a volvulus and are dying today. I told him my own Mother never gave up on me even though doctors and nurses told my mother I was going to die. So I also was not going to give up on my twins no matter how early they arrived. God performed a miracle on me and that He could do the same with my twins and that is exactly what He did. I am reminded of that as I read the twins’ report from the NICU.
As mentioned in a previous post, we relinquished our 10 remaining embryos a couple of weeks ago. Part of what solidified this decision were my feelings after visiting a good friend in the hospital after the birth of her first child. Little Emma was precious and perfect and I thought I might get that stir inside me longing to have another, but I had nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. In fact, I felt relief that we were beyond the helpless newborn stage and even felt mild panic at the thought of a third child.
Other than more than one newborn at a time, I can think of very little that is more tiring than a newborn. Not only is your body recovering from expelling a human, said human is extremely demanding. Plus, you don’t know this new person, so you have to figure out what they need/want/like while your hormones are going crazy, your boobs and other body parts hurt, and you’ve reached the edge of complete and total exhaustion. Can I just have two, maybe even three hours of interrupted sleep, please? Who cares that I’m walking around with bags under my eyes the size of Texas and my shirt is crusty with milk that leaks uncontrollably? Meanwhile, laundry and dishes pile up, and well-meaning friends and family want to come and meet this new beautiful creation. Our NICU experience shielded us from the onslaught of visitors and we kept their homecoming somewhat low key so we could adjust to this new and crazy life without juggling too many visitors. I’m also not afraid to say “no” and did so on more than one occasion when a visit would have been more stress for me than it was worth.
I’ve come a long way from three years ago, when visiting a new baby would bring the mixed emotions of happy for them sad for me. I’ve also come a long way in the face of a pregnancy epidemic that seems to be running amok around me. With my friend’s new baby and the impending arrival of a new niece or nephew, currently known as K2, I have no less than five people in my circle and countless friends on FaceBook who are pregnant or recently delivered. Anyone who has been down the infertility road knows how hard this can be when pregnant bellies are seemingly coming out of the woodwork. Thankfully, through the blessing of embryo adoption I’ve been able to move beyond that longing and wondering “why not me?” To quote Kenny Loggins… I’m alright.
The party was a great success! I had prayed, and I admit, worried about it raining, since it was forecasted to thunderstorm as well. I was trying to think what I would do with all the kids in my house and then I remembered that one of the guests is allergic to dogs, which we have two of! That night I was not doing what God wanted me to do, I was stressing! God was merciful, it did not storm, it was a bit cloudy, but the pool was still warm.
Several friends were not able to make it, so we missed them, but the ones that did come we were glad to visit with. Natalie and Julian helped to make decorations before the party and then they also helped to carry floats to the pool. They are getting so big and independent. They love the water and enjoy spending all day in it. When it was time to sing and blow out the candles on the cake, Natalie tried to hide her head. It was so cute.
One of the funniest things that happened at the party was how excited Julian was about getting a bicycle pump. In fact I thought he might even sleep with it! I had gone over with them the night before how to thank everyone and to be thankful for whatever you got even if you did not like it or had one already. Grammy was surprised too on how excited he was to get it. Natalie had to get up and take a jog before opening the next gift. They are so funny!
When I was a girl I always had a pool party and it was nice to have the same for the twins. Julian wanted to know when we could do it again and I told him next year. He wanted to know if Natalie would be there too. I said, “Well, who else’s birthday do you think it will be?” They say the cutest things. Just today Natalie told me not to fuss at JK because he is her best friend. I just love them and am so thankful for them! They are so sweet to each other and I just cannot wait to hear what else they may say or what they may do.
We went for a 15-month well baby check up this week. As suspected all is well with their growth and milestone achievement. I really enjoy this age—much more so than the newborn phase. They are so responsive and funny now; we actually feel rewarded for all the long hours and hard work.
• 22 lbs 15 oz – 25%
• 30 ½ inches tall (although I think he’s a little taller, but this is what we got measuring a moving target) – 25%
• Head circumference 47 cm – 50%. Looks like his body is catching up to his head or his head growth has leveled out.
• He’s behind in teeth (currently has 6), but we live in Kentucky, so this is okay. Who needs all their teeth anyway?
• Favorite word: “uh-oh.” Trying to get him to understand that it’s not “uh-oh” if you do something intentionally.
• Walking technique – elbows in, belly out.
• 20 lbs .5 oz – 10%
• 30 ½ inches tall – 50%
• Head circumference 45 cm – 25%
• 10 teeth and several more getting ready to make their appearance
• Favorite phrase: “who’s that?”…pronounced “whooz-at?” She is OBSESSED with looking at pictures and says “whooz-at?” as she points to them.
• Walking technique – arms up, lean forward. Her forehead is a magnet to the floor. As soon as one bruise heals, another appears.
They took blood to check for lead poisoning and will have the results in about a month. Apparently, this is a normal test since they tend to eat dirt at this age. Maria is regularly handing us something out of her mouth. Yesterday, she handed me a bug.
This week we are getting ready for the twins’ birthday party. Yes, they were born in April, but I just had a family birthday party and not one that included friends. So we are having a pool party! In preparation for the party I have been talking to them about how to accept gifts and if they get one or not is not important; that the day is about having a great time with our friends and family. I went over getting a gift you may already have and I used the example of Julian’s blanket, “Moon.” Julian’s response was, “That would be great if I got another one, then I could give it to Daddy!” Daddy is always trying to take his moon, so he thought two would be great. To them any gift would be great and I hope they stay like that!
Last night Daddy and Natalie were leaving the pool and Julian and I were staying behind, Julian looked up and said, “There goes Daddy and Natalie, there go our best friends. We cannot be alone we have to go and get them!” Some days it can be very challenging as a parent and it is always those days that someone tells you these are the best years and you just think, boy am I in for it! But then there are days like last night when you realize that these just might be the very best days and you do not want to miss a moment! I am so thankful for all the time I get to spend with the twins and I pray for the moments I want to stand in Wal-Mart and scream while they are crying at the top of their lungs because I did not get Cheerios, which we already have at the house. I am thankful to say that I have not screamed in Wal-Mart, but lovingly told them that it is ok to feel sad, but we need to be thankful for what we got.
That is the mindset I tried to go with during my eight years of infertility. At times it was much harder than it sounds, but in the end I tried to be thankful for everyone in my life, while still preserving to parenthood. I am so thankful I did not give up; many times I wanted to, but in the end my desire to have a child out weighed my fear of loss. At times fears can get in the way of reaching a goal and I know I had a few with embryo adoption as well. The list is as following:
1. Not getting pregnant.
3. Relationship with Donor family
4. How the child copes with adoption.
5. Family reaction/relationship with child.
Then I realized that any way God brought a child to me it would come with risks. There is not a risk free life and certainly not a risk free conceiving/adopting plan. Sometimes you just have to jump in!