Monday, April 18, 2011

A Few of Our Favorite Things

These two could play dress up all day long if you gave them coats, hats, shoes, and boots.

They love, love, LOVE baths

Makes my heart swell when I see little acts like these: helping wash one another's hair.

No bubble bash is complete without daddy blowing bubbles into the tub

Grandpa and Grandma
The visits aren't as frequent and as long as we all would wish them to be, but they are oh-so-sweet!

There's no escaping without a chorus, or two, of "Twinkle, Twinkle" and the "Itsy Bitsy Spider"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I've got outdoors-men! Well, boys that love the outdoors. Watch out, I may end up with a wicked awesome farmers tan by the end of the summer!
I've remained sane with two wild boys thanks to a huge yard and not-so-cold, yet not not entirely warm, weather.
We've been filling our days with walks in the stroller and wagon, trips to the park, bubbles and sidewalk chalk, and trips down the toddler sized slide in the yard.
Thank goodness we've managed to FINALLY convert our 2 naps down into 1. It took a good month and a half to two months of transitioning, and we eventually got there. Now, if only Nat would learn to sleep as long as his brother. Gabe takes after his mama. I love naps and have been informed that my mother had to work very hard to wean me from my long afternoon siestas so that I could make it to Kindergarten. Joel, as we have been told, was never a good napper and was quite content with a quick 20 minute cat nap. We'll see what Nat winds up doing, but for right now an hour seems to suit him. Gabe is most happy with three, yet his brother tends to wake him up after one, which makes him a crabby, little man.

I am amazed at how these two seem more and more grown up everyday.
Gabe is our "talker." He always has been. He was the first one to babble, the first to utter a word. He repeats everything we say to him and learns at least one to two new words a day. I would have to guess that his vocabulary is somewhere near 100 words. This evening at dinner he attempted to tell Daddy about his day. It went something like this... "Mama, Nat, Gabey- bye bye", "Slide", "Night Night", "Park". Then there was a whole bunch of gibberish that I couldn't quite translate, but I know he was letting us in on some of his deep, dark secrets.
Nat is such a daddy's and grandpa's boy. If one of his "guys" is in the room, mama doesn't stand a chance at any attention. We are working hard on his words. He has quite a few, between 20 or 30. Right now he is much more interested in looking at books, riding on his toy trucks, and playing on his slide. His comprehension is there, he would just much rather his brother do all the talking for him.

I'll leave you now with a whole bunch of pictures. We've got more playing to do. Today looks like it's going to be a nice one and I've got two little boys due to wake from their naps soon.

Gabe showing off his very first cement burn on his first "official" day playing outside.

Nat and Daddy

 Impressing Uncle Nate with his knowledge of body parts. EYES!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Your Birth Story... 17 months later

I've wanted to write this down so many times. I have written it in my head over and over since the day you were both born. I've talked it out with those that were there. To get the parts right. To fit the pieces together.
Your birth, it was going to be amazing.
It WAS amazing.
Two perfect, little boys came into the world that day. Your souls captured mine. Those two little beings that had grown from teeny, tiny cells entered the world.

I had planned it down to the last detail. I had my bag packed. I had your bag packed. I was ready for you. Waiting for you to let me know you were ready to meet me.

I would be surrounded by my favorite songs.Daddy would keep me calm. Grandma would be standing to the side of me, cheering me on. I would push you forth, working as hard as I had ever worked. I would see you for the first time, held high and announced into the world before the doctor lay you on my chest. I would tell you both how much I loved you. Tell you how long we had waited and prayed for you. Your eyes would gaze up at me and in that instant, I would know I was meant to be your mommy.
Just a quick kiss and a peek at your faces before you were whisked away for vitals, finger pricks, maybe some oxygen. Then off for more support since you were likely to be early arrivals.

I wish it had gone like that.

My birth story, the beginning of YOUR story, did not start out that way.

On the evening before you were born your Uncle, Auntie and cousin came over to visit us. We had a delicious dinner, we played cards, chatted. I lounged on the couch, swollen and bloated. It was my third full day off of bed-rest. I had overdone it on my first day by walking around in attempt to lure you two to arrive. It hadn't worked, and instead of inducing your birth, I had only made myself more sore and uncomfortable.
Our guests left before midnight. I washed up and got myself settled into bed. As soon as I lay still, you both decided it was time to wake up and start moving. You squished my bladder. With an exasperated sigh, I rolled myself out of bed.
Daddy was fast asleep. Practically out by the time his head had hit the pillow.
I hobbled off to the bathroom.
Useless... I didn't really have to go, but as I stood up I felt a warm trickle run down my leg.
Seriously!? I just wet my pants.
I went to change and as I bent over there was the trickle again.
This is ridiculous!
It was my third attempt at changing my pajamas when I suddenly realized that this wasn't an embarrassing loss of bladder control. This was my water breaking.
My water broke!!
I tried to wake Daddy up. Over and over again, yelling his name, and poking him.
He finally, stubbornly awoke.
It's hospital time, I said. These babies are coming. My water just broke.
I was expecting the movie version of a soon-to-be daddy's response. You know, the jumping up half asleep and driving off in the car with the pregnant wife standing and gawking at the crazy man she married. Instead, I got, "Can I go back to sleep?" as he rolled back over.

I made some phone calls to Grandma, your aunties, and the hospital. Took a quick shower, picked up the house and did some dishes. I took one last look around our house. I would return as a mother. Our new life as a family of four was about to begin.

Daddy and I left for the hospital shortly before 3 am.
We arrived and got checked in. Grandma arrived just minutes behind us. My vitals were checked, I changed into a gown, and I was hooked up to monitors in one of the triage rooms.Everything looked great.
They ran a test to make sure that my water had broke since my contractions were not considered "regular" enough to be admitted. When the swab came back positive for amniotic fluid they checked me into a labor and delivery room.
We all got settled. Grandma got herself situated with a movie. Daddy curled up for some more sleep on the couch. I rested on the bed and smiled at all that was happening around me.

Today was the day I was going to meet my sons. I was going to hold you both for the very first time. I would get to see the faces that I had spent so long imagining. I couldn't wait.
We had waited so long to become parents. It was finally here. The culmination of all of our years of work, years of prayers, years of tears.

The nurse entered the room and started hooking me up to the monitors again.

You had both always sounded so good. Good strong hearts. Good rhythm. Always within 5 beats of one another.
I wasn't all that concerned when she was having a difficult time detecting a heartbeat. It was a guaranteed challenge to keep you both on the monitors because of how you were positioned.
Baby B was always wiggling around, so we frequently lost his.
This time, though, it was Baby A causing us trouble. The nurse just couldn't pick his up.
She would think she got it, but it would turn out to be my heart or Baby B's.

After a few minutes my nerves started to kick in. Whatever we tried wasn't working.
I did whatever they asked of me.

We tried different positions. I flipped on one side, then the other.
"We got it."
"Never mind, it's gone again"...
More nurses...Turn this way...
"Call the on-call."...
We tried an Internal fetal heartrate monitor... It was a no-go, my cervix was still posterior and not dilated enough, ...
Even more nurses. "We got a heartrate! It's way too low, it sounds very irregular."...
"This can't be right..."
Roll this way...

"Call the on-call NOW!"

I tried to remain calm. I could sense the tension in the room.
Then the shaking started. Uncontrollable. My teeth chattered and my muscles spasmed.
Baby boy, are you okay? Please be okay?
"Sign this form, ma'am. Where's the doctor?"
Lord, please watch over these babies.
"He's on his way"

The doctor arrived a minute later and I was immediately whisked across the hall into the operating room.
He performed what felt like a split second ultrasound to determine what was happening with Baby A.
As soon as the wand touched my belly, I knew it wasn't good.
What I had always seen and heard as a rapid heartbeat was agonizingly slow. It didn't have the same sound or rhythm that we had been used to hearing.
Your heart sounded like it was working so hard to keep beating, and it wasn't doing a very good job of it.

I looked to the doctor for answers and some sort of reassurance. He said that we needed to get the babies out as soon as possible.

The room became frantic. I was hoisted on to the surgical table. The doctor and his nurse began scrubbing in and began to prep me with iodine on my stomach, and a catheter.
Daddy walked in, head to toe in scrubs. He was quickly asked to leave the room. He squeezed my hand, kissed my forehead, told me he loved me, and left.
I realized how uncertain the situation was. They didn't want your daddy in the room because they didn't know what they were going to encounter when you arrived.

I cried. I trembled.
My body still shaking from the adrenaline of what was happening.

I distinctly remember the doctor yelling at the surgical team to hurry. "Don't you people know what STAT means?!" were his words.
In a split second I was swarmed by a at least 7 more people from the medical team.
Signing papers, answering questions, IV's, blood pressure cuffs, heart and oxygen monitors. All at once. The hot tears hit my cheeks.
I couldn't breath.
I panted to the nurses that I couldn't breath. They held my hand, smoothed my forehead and told me to take deep breaths. They assured me there was oxygen getting to me through the mask.

"Tell me when she's out," the doctor said.
Just as they were drawing up the blue curtain over my chest, I looked down to see the OB standing with the scalpel in his hand, hovering over my stomach, waiting to deliver you.

Please, Lord. Take care of my babies... Go to sleep, go to sleep, hurry Anna, go to sleep.

I have never been so scared in my life. I have never felt so out of control. I surrendered. I gave my body over to the doctors. I had done all that I could as a mother. Now it was up to them.
I remember being nervous during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Every time I used the bathroom I was scared to see blood, to see the proof it was over. At each ultrasound and obstetrical check-up, I would hold my breath until we heard both heartbeats. I crossed my fingers until we got to 24 weeks, the age of viability. I had never once considered that that the life of my child could end, right before it was about to officially begin.

I awoke in recovery with a searing pain in my abdomen. They gave me morphine.
I blacked out again.
I woke again. More pain. More morphine.

I was finally able to fully open my eyes, and I searched the room for a nurse.
I was scared to ask how my babies were. Scared to hear the worst.

She said the most amazing words that I have ever heard.
"You have two healthy babies."
I closed my eyes and exhaled a sigh of immense relief. My babies were safe.

Gabe, my Baby A, arrived with a strong, rapid heartbeat. There was only a hint of a aarythmia. There was no explanation for why your heartbeat had dropped so suddenly, and why we had never once heard any irregularity before. Nat, my Baby B, arrived minutes later.
You were in the NICU for support. You were both big, healthy, and breathing on your own.
The first day of your life was a fog, a blur.
I remember feeling like I wanted to die. The pain radiating through my body was horrendous. I couldn't make sense of conversations.
When family arrived I broke down.
I had just given birth to you both, yet I hadn't even met you, hadn't even seen you.
Your grandfather, Aunt and Uncle arrived to meet you, yet you hadn't even met me.

For seven hours I waited.
Daddy asked if I wanted to see pictures of you. I didn't.
I wanted to meet you in person. I didn't want to see you on the screen of a camera.
I wanted to hold you. To touch you, to count your fingers and toes. To kiss your heads, breath in your scent while snuggling you to my chest.

For seven hours I halfheartedly listened to people around me make conversation.
As time went on I began to feel worse. My head throbbed. I couldn't talk or move without vomiting. I couldn't gather the strength to even keep my eyes open.

At 2:00pm in the afternoon, you entered my hospital room. You had been given permission to leave the NICU for 15 minutes to meet your Mama. Daddy pushed your little bassinet in and handed each one of you to me separately.
I could only hold you each for a few seconds until my strength gave out, and I would vomit again.
Everyone admired how perfect you both were.

I sat, in the fog of drugs, lack of sleep, and stared

It wasn't supposed to be like this. I wasn't suppose to feel like this. It was nothing like I had imagined.
I couldn't cuddle you and I desperately wanted to.
You could only stay a short time. You needed to get back on the monitors, and stay under the lights to keep your temperatures regulated.
I cried when you left.
I hadn't gotten to see you with open eyes. I hadn't held your hands, nor counted your fingers or toes.
That image that I had in my head of how our first meeting would go was nothing like this.

The surgery was described as "traumatic". The doctor cut fast and wide, skipping some of the usual steps in a cesarean to get Gabe out quickly, so I lost a lot of blood, and required a transfusion

My strength began to return while receiving the second unit during the blood transfusion. The sickness faded into the background. The physical pain diminished.
I closed my eyes and focused on the positive.

We had made it through. Our new life was beginning, so I grasped it, and held on.

My second meeting with you went better than the first.
There were tears, but they were happy tears.
I inspected your fingers and toes. All 20 fingers, 20 toes. Right where they should be.
I whispered how much I loved you and had waited for you both.

You looked at me. Your eyes grasped my soul.
It was what I had waited for, what I had prayed for.

No, it was not the birth story that I had imagined. It brings tears to my eyes when I retell it. I always feel envious when other moms talk about those first moments after giving birth. Those first minutes of their little ones lives while they lock eyes with their mothers, those first moments of nursing, the Golden Hour of bonding when you finally get to hold that child in your arms. That same child that you have held within your body for months.
In the end, it doesn't matter how you entered into the world. It just matters that you did.

It was an amazing beginning to what has been the start of two amazing, little lives.

To my beautiful, perfect little boys, Gabriel Douglas, and Nathaniel Robert. Your mama is so proud of you... everyday.

I love you both to the moon and back.