Four years ago today, I was on bed rest and praying that the twins would not be born yet. Everyone was getting ready for my baby shower that was at my house since I could not leave. After church people piled into my house to celebrate the coming of the twins, we just did not know how soon that would be. I was in so much pain I just did not know how I was going to get through the day, I just prayed to God that the babies would not come that day. But I did not know how much longer I could go on; little did I know that I had preeclampsia.
Two years today, the twins were sleeping peacefully in their beds, when I got the phone call from my Uncle that my Mother was going to be leaving this earth very soon and that I needed to get to the hospital. My neighbor came over to stay with the twins and I rushed to the hospital. I got to the hospital on a prayer, since my car was out of gas. I once again prayed to God that I would get to the hospital before my Mother’s passing. That prayer was not answered, by the time I got there, my Mother had gone to meet Jesus. One year ago today, my husband sent me flowers for the first time. It was very special since it was such a hard day and he had such kind words to say on the card. Positive things can come out of very hurtful situations and my husband’s act of kindness on that day proved that to me.
Why some prayers are answered and some are not, I do not know, but I am thankful that God is faithful and true. The same day had many different emotions for me years apart. Today, I choose to remember how excited my Mother was to finally attend a baby shower for me and that God had gotten us this far. She was so excited to meet the twins and spent many hours loving on them for almost two years. I may have sadness thinking about losing my Mother two years ago today, but she had immeasurable joy when she came face to face with our Lord and also got to see all her grandchildren that went before her. Now all my other children are being loved on by her.
Putting the children in preschool was a concern for me, because I just was not sure what new things they would come home with, such as biting, hitting, talking back and so on. I am so pleased to say that their teacher told me that when they were outside playing Julian came running up to her to tell her he heard an ambulance. And that every time he hears one he prays for the people with his Mommy. So she said they stopped class and prayed. What a wittiness the teacher told me that he was for the class. I have to say, it made me cry. All this time I had thought what the twins would be getting from preschool, not what they would be giving.
I think I have also thought that way about embryo adoption. That I would be getting the opportunity to be a Mother and have a child, I never really thought much about what that would also mean to the person or family donating the embryo. Since I have had the blessing of knowing my donating family, I can tell you that we give them great comfort knowing the twins are loved and have been given life. It is often so easy to think about ourselves and what we are getting out of a situation when, what I really should be thinking about, is what am I giving in this situation.
God has really opened my eyes to this and I am so thankful that I am giving Natalie and Julian the best loving family I can provide and that I am giving the Cassidy family peace of mind knowing that they are loved and cared for and that they also have a relationship with Natalie and Julian. Today we started planning our trip to Disney World together. We are so excited! We are sad that Patty’s husband, Jim, and their oldest son will not be going, but we are so excited to see Patty, her two youngest sons and Patty’s sister, Cathy. What a blessing this whole experience has been for us and I pray that others will find embryo donation and adoption a blessing for them as well.
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,”
Grant and Maria are 22 months old today and I guess I will soon stop counting their age in months. They are changing every day and definitely like their improved ability to communicate. Some of our daily conversations go like this:
“Maria, do you want to wear these pants?” – “No”
“What about these?” – “No”
“These?” – “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” Gray skinny jeans it is.
“Grant, are you hungry?” – “Yeah”
“Let’s get in your seat so you can eat.” – “No”
“If you are hungry you have to be in your seat to eat. Are you hungry?” – “No”
In addition to having her preferences on clothes, Maria has opinions about her hair. Those conversations are something like this:
“Pretty?” Maria asks pointing to her hair.
“Do you want to fix your hair?” – “Yeah”
“Do you want pig tails?” – “No”
“Do you want one tail on top?” – “Yeah” Top knot it is.
All in all, they are very typical toddlers.
- Some days they eat like pigs and some days they don’t eat enough to sustain a bird.
- The word “no” is frequently used by all parties.
- Can you say battle of wills? Grant tried to throw his bowl on the floor the other day, so I took it from him. He started screaming. I told him he couldn’t get his bowl back unless he stopped screaming. He screamed for several minutes until he realized I was serious. He stopped crying and got his bowl back. Score one for Mommy!
- Maria is good at stall tactics at bedtime. Read, nurse, say good night to Daddy (again), ask for NoNo (my mom) and repeat. Thankfully, the last four nights have not included tears. She seems to have gotten over her nighttime anxiety over me being out of town.
- They love to read, dance, jump, run, climb, etc. We’ll do whatever it takes to wear them out!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! It was a special day for us, not only because it was Valentine’s Day, but because it was also the twins’ first day of preschool. They made Valentines for each of their new friends and we made cookies for the teachers. What a wonderful day this was for them! They did not cry nor were they sad at all for Brian and I to leave them. I know this will be a great experience for them both. Below are some pictures of their first day of preschool!
My little man has weaned. I knew it was coming, just wasn’t sure how I would feel about it. He started showing less interest in nursing before I left town. He would go a day or two without any at all, then take a quick nip and be satisfied. I figured my extended absence would probably be the end of nursing for him. When I got home, the first thing Maria wanted to do was nurse. Grant looked at me like he might be interested and I asked if he wanted to, but he said no. Fair enough. These days, his nighttime routine consists of several books then quiet cuddle time with me. I’m glad he’s still interested in that. He will sometimes look longingly when Maria nurses and I always ask or offer, but he always turns it down. I think he likes the option even if he’s not going to take it. Twenty-one months was a pretty good run.
Maria, on the other hand, is not interested in giving up totally. The only thing she has given up is the right side. When I was gone, I would still pump once a day and figured out why the right side was boycotted…it took a LONG time to get anything, then its production was minimal. I’ve declared that well closed and remarkably, I’m not lopsided. My production is a couple of ounces at best, which pales in comparison to the upwards of 16 ounces I once regularly produced.
For Maria, nursing is a comfort thing more than a hunger thing. When nursing she spends a lot of time talking to me rather than actually getting any milk, but she does not want me to close the buffet and if she wakes in the middle of the night it’s her number one request and the quickest way for us to go back to bed. She has struggled with going to sleep since I’ve been home and last night Jeremy asked her if she was scared that I wasn’t going to be home if she went to bed…she replied yes. He tried to reassure her, but I think it’s just going to take time. So, while my extended absence was the end for Grant, it seems to be encouraging Maria to nurse more than she did before I left.
I’m thankful we’ve had this long in our nursing relationship. Those early days of nursing two were so difficult, especially with our start in the NICU, and I honestly couldn’t imagine we would have made it this long. However, after we overcame the early challenges, it was much easier and hugely beneficial for all three of us. I’m glad they didn’t wean at the exact same time. I know Maria’s day will come, but I won’t rush her.
This past week with all that has been going on, I think the twins have done exceptionally well. They were in the Grandparents’ house most of last week with a limited amount of toys. On one of the last days I decided to take them to play with inflatables to jump on with my friend Katina and her girls. Julian asked Grammy if she would come too and she replied, “I can’t we have so much to do here.” Julian then told her, “We buried that word in the yard!” Of course she wondered what on earth he is talking about and I told her that we buried the word “can’t” in the yard, so we are not to use that word. She just laughed and laughed. She then told him that she had lots to do at the house and that this was not the best time for her to leave. I got that idea from my preacher’s wife, Beth, about burying the word, to teach the twins that they can do hard things.
I think we all got a lesson in doing hard things this week. Natalie had told Brian that we all were going to die on Sunday and this was several days before Evan died. I even told Patty about this on Christmas Day, before her and the family left for Disney Land. I am not sure why she told Brian this, but I was happy to see it did not come to pass. She now has a better understanding of death and yes we all will die. So she wanted to know when we were going to die. I told her that only God knows that, but it is my hope that it will not be for a very long time.
Julian was very excited that he could open the refrigerator at his Grandparents house since he is not able to at our house, and even better that it had Capri Suns in it! Who knows how many he drank while we were there. He was also spoiled by Grammy putting his blanket in the dryer for warmth for him to cuddle with. Whenever I have washed their blankets they fuss that it is hot right out of the dryer, but at Grammy’s it was the best ever! They also enjoyed learning to color in the lines with their Grandparents as well as reading books about sharks and the “Coat of Many Colors.” One of the biggest hits was a small stuffed cat named Fuzz, that the twins pet and played hide and seek with. Gramps was great at hiding it, but they always found Fuzz. They would wake up every morning excited to see the Grandparents so it was sad when we had to leave after the funeral that went very well. It must have been very hard for Brian’s parents the whole week we were there. But they not only did well, they continued to make special memories with family.
Another hard time was the funeral when each brother got up and spoke about Evan. The pastor spoke and sang twice along with two other songs, one of which Brian sang, thanks to video. The twins sat quietly; I only had to threaten Natalie once. By the end of the service she was sleeping and snoring away. I was afraid, it would get so loud it would disrupt the service, but just a few people heard that were sitting close by. As hard as it may have been for the twins to sit quietly it must have been even more of a challenge getting up and trying to say in a few words just how much your brother meant to you.
At times we may all think that we cannot do something that seems hard or impossible. I think putting your son in the ground has to top the list of impossibilities. God gave them peace and comfort, just as he gave me during my time of going through the transfer, bed rest and living day to day not knowing if the twins would survive long enough to make it to the “viable” stage. I am very blessed that they did survive, but at times like this we are all reminded that our days are numbered. Most of all I am thankful to our God who gives comfort and peace and that Brian’s parents know where to put their cares.
2011 is drawing to a close as quickly as it was upon us just 12 short months ago. Looking back, there was so much that happened. Grant and Maria celebrated their first birthday, took their first steps, and said their first words. They had their first round of swim lessons and music classes, took their first trip to the ER, and welcomed a new cousin. Jeremy and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary and I received a nice promotion at work. While much of the year now seems like a blur, I’ve learned so much and cherish the time I get to share with Grant, Maria and Jeremy.
For me, I’ve learned some lessons, as well.
• With courage and a lot of prayer, broken relationships can be mended. As mentioned in my last post, after a 27 year estrangement, my dad’s sister is back in our lives. I give my mom lots of credit for taking that leap of faith in reaching out and Anne credit for responding in kind.
• There will be things in life that happen that are far out of your control and you cannot apply rational thought to an irrational act. I lost two co-workers in a workplace tragedy in July and will be honest that I’m still working through the emotions that resulted.
• Counseling is a wonderful thing. As a result of the workplace tragedy, I sought help through a Christian counselor. She has helped me unpack all that was associated with it and we tapped into some other things I needed to sort through, including our journey through infertility and embryo adoption. It’s a work in progress.
• It’s okay to keep certain people at a distance. As a Christian, I struggled with this because I thought it meant I didn’t love as I should, but through my counseling, came to peace with this … Jesus loved Judas, but he didn’t take him to the garden to pray with him.
• I’ve changed a lot. Being a parent opens you up to a depth of emotion that was not possible before. I have much less patience for people who whine over trivial things, but much more empathy for those with real struggles.
• You can’t do it all. Give yourself grace. As a mom, it’s hard to do all that I need and want to do. When I’m not at work, I want and need to spend my time with Grant, Maria and Jeremy, which means other things that I want to do fall to the side. I’ve recognized that this is a season of life and one day, I will have time for those other things I used to do, like go to the gym every day and participate in a women’s Bible study.
I’m sure 2012 will be a lightning fast year as well. Undoubtedly there will tears and struggles, but I hope it brings more laughter, joy and lessons. From our family to yours, we wish you a bright and blessed 2012.