HERDING CATS

The best way to describe my life right now is “herding cats” and I’m not talking about the wine … although some days it includes a lot of whining. I’ve seen the debate on the twins club forum and among friends and family whether it’s harder to have twins or to have two close in age. There are advantages and disadvantages to both but the fact remains that both are hard. With one child, your attention is focused. With two, no matter how you slice it, your attention is split.

With twins, I can say the following:

• They often want the same thing at the same time and I often hear myself saying “one of me; two of you, please be patient.”

• When they aren’t wanting the same thing, they are going in opposite directions. Four hands can get into a lot in no time and I haven’t figured out how to be in two places at once.

• At this age, they will play together and entertain each other so I can get something done. However, peaceful play can go to hell in a hand basket in a hurry.

• Finding uninterrupted one-on-one time is difficult. They are on the same schedule, so I can’t play with one while the other is napping. The good thing is they are on the same schedule, so we can get a break.

• Having twins as our first born children, we do not have the advantage of hindsight. They are both in the same stages at the same time; we can’t apply lessons from the first child to the second.

• Our phases feel like they last a long time. One will start and the other follows…and then the first regresses and so on. Potty training should be interesting.

• People make a lot of assumptions about twins. Yes, they have a special bond that only twins can have. But, they are also two unique individuals that have unique needs and sometimes meeting those needs at the same time is a challenge.

I know I was meant to be a mother of twins. I had a feeling for many years that I would have twins. There were no surprises the day we saw two little heartbeats on our 6-week ultrasound. I welcomed the challenge and pray each day that God gives me the strength, wisdom, and endurance to not only survive as a twin mom, but thrive.

HELP FOR PARENTS

 

 

 

 

 

Hail friends:

After a year-long creative process NEDC is pleased to present the illustrated children’s book Training Wheels; How Did I get Here? I wrote it with the invaluable assistance of Dr. Sally Hunter (mother of two), and the illustrations are by Tyler Garrison.

It’s a pretty sweet little book. For his fifth birthday, Miles receives a special gift from a family far away. His parents help him comprehend his connection to this family, and the unusual way they helped contribute to his being born. The concepts of embryo donation and embryo adoption are explained in simple, rhyming verse. And Tyler’s delightful illustrations help remind parents and children how much we all have in common, no matter how arduous our struggles toward becoming a family may have once seemed.

It’s available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and of course through your favorite local bookseller. We’ve tried to make it as affordable as possible; most of the expense involved is printing and paper. We hope it’s useful to you and yours.

LEARNING TO DO HARD THINGS

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.

BROTHERLY LOVE

This year was a wonderful Christmas. Seeing the sparkle in Natalie & Julian’s eyes as they saw what Santa had brought was delightful. The greater gift came when we were leaving for church shortly after walking down the stairs to see what Santa had left and not getting to open all the gifts. Not even the ones Patty’s sister, Cathy had sent. Neither one of them fussed at all to leave the house full of wonderful toys and packages left unopened to go and worship our King. I do not believe many children would have been so willing to go to church when such temptations were at hand to stay home. For me that was the best gift I received this Christmas, in addition to time spent with Brian’s brother Evan.

Our family spent time celebrating with my family the day after Christmas. My brother always complains about all the pictures I take. That day I told his sons that of all people, my brother, should know how important pictures are since he studies genealogy. Pictures are often all that is left when we leave this world. Little did I know how true those words would ring on December 29th.

I was getting ready to take the twins and my niece Caroline out skating and for lunch when I got the call from Brian that his youngest brother had passed away. At 33, Evan had gone to be with our Lord. I was reminded of my time in Haiti when I was walking the dirt path of the Mountains and came along a village where a woman was crying out in such terrible anguish. When I asked the translator what was going on they told us her child had died. We saw people on the road running toward the voodoo village we were passing. As we passed I prayed for that woman and her family.

And now that was what I was doing for my father-in-law and mother-in-law, praying. The difference is that we are not crying such tears of anguish because we know Evan is safe in the arms of Jesus. Evan will be missed and we will think of him daily, the missing spot in the family will never be replaced. The talented musician, golfer, and scholar that he was will always be remembered and loved. This past week we have traveled to be with Brian’s parents. It has been a healing time for us as we have cried, we have laughed at the memories we shared, but now we rejoice and celebrate the life he had, but most importantly the everlasting life he is living now.

Praise be to God for giving us Evan for 33 years and as Julian tells me one day God will give him back to us. I will end with Evan’s favorite Bible verse, Hebrews 13: 1-3 “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”

LESSONS FROM 2011

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.

BE THE TREE THAT RISES ABOVE THIS FRAIL WORLD

My heart is heavy this morning. One of my cousins went into pre-term labor and lost her baby girl at 21 weeks last night. To lose a child at any time is cruel and it seems even more so this time of year. As a parent, I can only imagine what their loss feels like and the thought struck me that I would go through infertility again rather than the loss of a child. I remember how desperate I felt when we had a miscarriage scare when I was only 15 weeks with the babies. There are just no words for how helpless the situation feels.

I know that Jeremy and I didn’t have the easiest road in having children, but I also know that in spite of our challenges in getting pregnant and a delivery at 32 weeks, we were tremendously lucky. At the end of that journey, we took home two healthy babies. Some people only ever wish to do that.

My prayer today is that my cousin and her husband can find peace that passes understanding. I pray that her infection heals and that God will see them through their grief. I’m also praying for those, including two of my friends, who also lost little ones this year. Their Christmas looks much different than they anticipated; may they find strength and peace in the truth that one day they will all see their precious children again in heaven.

THINGS DONE OUT OF LOVE

What people do out of love includes all sorts of things. This week it included my aunt, uncle, cousins, nieces, nephew, brother-in-law as well as my mom’s two dear friends sitting through several very long performances before seeing the ballerina they came to support. It was so kind of them to come and it meant so much to Natalie that they all came to see her. She was so excited about her performance the next day she wore her tutu all day long.

The day of her performance, I came home from a doctor’s appointment and she was wearing the tutu I had for my first recital. She looked absolutely adorable! It was a bit big since I was six when I wore it, but still so sweet. That day I put make-up on her, just like my Mom had done for me for my recital many years ago as well. It reminded me of when my friend Judy and I had ours and what happy times those were. Now I am living those happy times with my daughter. What a delight. Every day I thank God for my children and pray blessings over them. It is my prayer that they will be blessings for others as well as for me. As you watch the video may it remind you of the blessings God has given to you or the promise of what is to come.

Lily’s Ballet Recital from Ryan Bridges on Vimeo.

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