Friday, April 29, 2011

Maya's Day Out

Bobby came down with a new tooth, a cold, and his bout with Fifth's Disease, starting on Good Friday.  Fun times, as you can imagine.  The last week has been rough and Maya has been, in some ways, struggling for attention.  When one child is sick, your attention goes to that child and, since there is only one of me, there is only so much I can do.  When Peter is home, it is easier, but it's still hard, especially when other things, like housekeeping and meals, need to be done.

Yesterday, my MIL came over and, in addition to it giving me some time breathe during the day with an extra pair of hands, it also gave Maya some much needed "Maya time".  In the morning, it was what we called "Uita y Nineta" time (grandmother & granddaughter time).  They went for walks around the neighborhood and came home briefly in the middle of their walks to give me flowers that Maya had liberated from the ground.  Then, in the afternoon, after nap and snack, Maya and I had some much needed girl time.  We went to the local Starbucks, where she enjoyed a lemon bar while people watching and some of my (decaf) iced coffee.
I'm not nosy... I'm just people watching!

Mmmm.... Lemon Bar

Don't worry, Daddy- it's decaf!

I love this place!  When can we come back?

Then, it was off for shopping- well, grocery shopping that is!  I was out of some of their snacks (breakfast bars, fruit cups, apple sauce) and, although our pantry and freezer is well stocked otherwise, we needed those ASAP.
Did someone say "shopping"?

I love you, Mommy!!

To say the least, she's adorable...

And she was talking a mile a minute when we got home, likely explaining to 'Uita' about her fun afternoon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Breaking the Silence

I always knew that it would be hard to conceive.

Call it a notion or a feeling or a sixth sense, but, I knew.  I prepared myself for the inevitability when I was around 12, by convincing myself that I didn't want children... no husband... no family... just me.  And I made plans.  And they were great plans.  Especially for a budding teenager.

At 16, my doctor told me that I couldn't have children.  That I wasn't having periods regularly because I didnt have enough eggs.  (Wow... Even now I shake my head and want to know what medical school he went to.)  I just nodded, accepting this as truth.  I mean, I knew already.

Just shy of 2 years later, I met Peter and knew that I didnt want children... I wanted his children.  I wanted to be his wife.  I wanted us to have our family.  I didnt care how those children came to be- biological, adopted, it was all the same to me- but I wanted to mother them and he to father them.  I told him in advance what I knew and he didn't care.  Biology was just a tiny factor... Love was the big one... He wasn't worried and neither was I.  I remember him saying something along the lines of "At least we can practice a lot!"  (He was 19 at the time... I'm sure practice versus TTC was much more fun!)

I was inching towards my 20th birthday when I got pregnant and miscarried.  Although I wanted very much to get pregnant, it wasn't until then that I was bit by the pregnancy bug.  In my heart, I still didnt care if we built our family via genetics or adoption, but I desperately wanted to be pregnant too... To feel that... To have that...  It's hard to explain.

Our parents knew that we were trying, as did our close friends, but, for the most part, it was a silent enduring... People got pregnant, I smiled and congratulated them, bought gifts, attended showers, all the while, my heart cracking in the process.  We were young and my doctors and GYNs all said the same thing: come back when you are 30... Then you will be infertile...  But, in my early 20s, 30 seemed so far away... So very far.

My job put me in constant contact with children and babies.  It was so difficult to watch teenagers doing what I couldnt do, time and time again.  We tried adoption- and failed- twice.  Heartache... Heartache... Heartache... And still, I couldnt bridge the distance between the guilt.  I couldnt tell people that I was infertile.  Would they pity me?  Judge me?  Could it be worse than having old women give me sex tips or tell me that I wasnt getting any younger or asking what we were waiting for or when we'd have a baby?

But there I was- someone with a mouth the size of Texas- shamed into silence.  My body had betrayed me.  There was, indeed, something I couldnt do.  (My dad always has told me there isn't anything I cant do once I put my mind to it.  He was always right.  Imagine my surprise when he was wrong on that one!)

It wasnt until my mother-in-law was at a knitting circle and grandchildren came up that an answer was sent our way.  Two of the women there had infertile daughters... They were both seeing the same RE... Peter's mom got her name and discretely gave it to me.  No pressure, just hey, I thought you might find this interesting.  So, embarrassed and ashamed, I called...  And made an appointment...

My infertility finally had a diagnosis and, rather than treat me with disgust or make me feel more ashamed, Dr. Lee explained that I simply had an illness.  There wasn't a cure, but she could try to help me within our framework of comfortability and belief.  And she did.

And, although I've had more sadness and fear than I ever could have imagined, I've also had more joy that I ever thought possible.

As days turn to weeks and weeks into years, my mind constantly battles the shame of being infertile and the anger of feeling shamed by the lack of compassion our world has for infertiles.  It's commonplace to tell people who cant reproduce to suck it up and move to other options; would we be so callous to those with other illnesses?  Would we tell a child who was born with AIDS that they should just "suck up" the possibility of a long life and making love to the person they fall in love with? Would we tell a woman who has just had a double mastectomy to "suck it up" and get a padded bra?  I didn't think so... But we find no harm in telling a woman who cannot ovulate to "just adopt" (which is a pet peeve of mine on an entirely different level) or telling a man who has no sperm that "maybe God doesnt want you to have children."

That, of course, is even if it gets talked about at all!  The shame is debilitating and so many couples never share their heartbreak and struggle.  People clam up when the talk drops below the belt or when people lament a lack of childbearing.  We can talk about having cancer or heart disease or diabetes... But infertility?  Heavens no!  And if you put it on par with other diseases that impact OVER 6 MILLION PEOPLE, people roll their eyes... Infertility?  A disease?  Naahhh...  Just a sad state of being.

We have to speak out.  If we dont advocate for ourselves, then who will?  Who will stand up and tell us that we have no need to be ashamed- that we are NOT the sum of our reproductive capabilities nor are we the measure of our illness.

So, today, in the middle of National Infertility Awareness Week, join me.

I'm Michele...and I'm infertile.

Finding Time

Sometimes, it seems like time is eternal.  Othertimes, there just isn't enough of it. Guess which one I'm living with now.

All is good at the Haytko house... mostly.  Bobby has finally come down with the illness Maya had a bit back and is miserable.  No, make that MISERABLE.  He finally broke out last night, but his fever has been 102-103 since Holy Saturday (including several nights where he would only sleep if Peter were holding him, chest to chest) with no rash.  He's also severely congested, which is different than Maya (but, of course, Maya wasnt cutting a tooth at the same time and overly slobbery).  I can hear him now, trying to wake up and trying to go back to sleep.  Other than his little sounds, the house is quiet and I'm the only one awake.

Easter was beautiful.  The Mass was lovely, and then people came to our house for breakfast.  Later that day, we went to Peter's parents for dinner.  Really, such a nice time.  And, we do make a happy family :)

(I havent uploaded all the pics yet, hence no shots of Maya :( but I will!)

I've worn shorts.  Gasp... I know.  I bought a few pair of mediums (which listed their size as 8/10, even more gasp worthy) and I wore them, for the first time, yesterday.  Two pair actually... and two different t-shirts (also mediums) because Bobby threw up.  But that was okay; he felt SO much better afterwards that he could puke on me again if he wanted!  It was  strange, not being in pants or capris.  It's going to take a lot of getting used to; I found myself very uncomfortable and self-conscious.  The shorts were fine; it was my psyche!

Our garden is planted!  Well, mostly!  I have 4 large raised beds and 3 smaller ground beds.  One of the ground beds is done and 2 full and 3/4 of another of the raised beds are done.  I need more dirt for the remaining raised beds, and then I can finish... I'm hoping to do it today or tomorrow.  And, we had our first (of 3) fence contractors visit for an estimate last night.  We want to fence in part of the back yard, as well as the side yard (where the garden is) so that the kids will be able to safely be outside with one parent.

I havent topped my high running mileage yet (9m run, 10m on the outing with walking to warm up and cool down) but I'm planning on attempting 9.5 this weekend.  Possibly 10.  So, we'll see.  At the least, I'll have a repeat of the 9.

Well, both kids are up, so I'll go for now... Peace and all good things...

Friday, April 22, 2011

And Here We Are

Another year... Again...

It's Good Friday... Holy and Solemn Friday...  A holy day, especially in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches... A day where we take off work and fast and pray and go to Holy Liturgy to relive those final hours.

I think a lot of Christian folks (not just in Catholic/Orthodox parishes) see Good Friday and try to connect with Christ on the Cross.  The Sacrifice...  The pain... The human fear mixed with the Divine Love...

Not me.  For me, Good Friday is the big holy day that isn't about Jesus.

It's about Mary.

It wasnt always that way for me.  When I found the Catholic Church, I was 16 and flew headstrong into the holy day traditions.  I mourned with Christ on the Cross... I agonized over His Sacrifice...  Even, after my first miscarriage, Good Fridays still brought me back to that image... Of a man, not much older than I, hanging from a tree, blood dripping from nail holes, a gaping drape of his side, a cloth covering his wounded body.  Dying.  The last breaths escaping.  Each inhale a tragic reminder of his humanity, a step closer to his death, to His Rising.

And then, Nicholas and Sophia died.

That first Triduum, I was in church, a shell of a human being, a week away from their memorial service.  As the voices of my friends mixed with organ and piano and the shuffle of feet moving down the isle... As the cross was displayed, empty, covered...  As the Passion was relived, an echo of the Palm Sunday before, there was no image of Christ in my head.

There was Mary.

There she was, while the men- his friends- had run away in fear, listening to the scourging.  There she was, hidden in the crowds who yelled "Crucify Him".   There she was, wringing her hands, when Pilot told the guards to take him away... when he carried the weight of wood on his back... when he fell, again and again...and again.  There she was, trying for a moment, to give him peace in her gaze, as he found her on the road to Calvary.  There she was, at the foot of the cross, watching someone drive nails through the flesh of her son, of her baby boy.  Watching his gasp for breath.  Watching him suffer.  Watching him die.  This tiny babe that she had brought into the world, now a young man as she watched the last bit of life drain from his olive face, the matted, blood and sweat stained hair fall in front of eyes that, at last closed.  The agonized scream that must have escaped her delicate lips, the tears that must have fallen, the air that just wouldnt come.  That broken, orphaned mother...  That me.

That is what I see.

And every Good Friday, since 2008, I have sat in church and wept, openly.  I can't read the words through my blurry eyes.  I cant utter the words that condemn that woman's child to death.  I can't breathe under the weight of my guilt... the weight of her suffering and agony.  Because, while Jesus died on that cross for the sins of the world, Mary died over and over and over again as she watched her tiny baby- in the body of a man- suffering.  She is the one who cradled that broken body, whose warm tears bathed his cold flesh.  She is the one who wrapped her arms and the burial clothes around the last reminder of her son's body and who had to watch as a stone separated him from her.

Oh Mary... How I can feel your grief.  How I can relate.  And yet, I have to stop there, because even I can't fathom how you must have felt.  Faith is a great thing, but in the face of the ultimate sacrifice, even that is not enough to give you back your heart, is it?

We all know how the story ends... That Good Friday is only one day in a the passing of an eternity that ends in a Resurrection of Light.

But today, right now, I'm with her... In the darkness...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

And I Love Him...

13 years ago, April 20th was a Monday.  It's burned forever in my mind and on my heart.

It's the day I met Peter.

It was a chance meeting.  I was visiting the college he attended and staying a few nights with a close friend of his (who was my guide).  I arrived on a Saturday afternoon and Monday was my last night on campus before flying home early Tuesday morning.  I was 17, a senior in high school, a month out from graduation, and dating someone.  And, that night, in 1998, I was hit by 'the thunderbolt'.
November 1998 (I was 18; Peter was 20)

A lot of cultures have a word for it; call it Kerauno or Cupid's Arrow or what you will, but whatever it was hit us both.  We went from two teenagers (he was 19) who didn't know each other, to 2 people in love.  And, while many people said it wouldn't last, here we are... 13 years later, happily married, completely in love, with a family of our own that we adore.  It wasn't always an easy road, but, through it all, we've had each other.

We met, we fell in love, we exchanged the vows that changed our lives forever...  I love him so much and I am so honored to be his wife.

Táim i ngrá leat, my sweet love, but more than that, Tá grá agam duit!

(in case you are wondering, kerauno is Greek and means "thunderbolt"; Táim i ngrá leat is Gaelic for "I'm in love with you", and Tá grá agam duit is Gaelic for "I love you") 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fighting Myself (LOMIM)

Originally posted here

Sometimes, my strongest enemy is myself.  You would think that realizing my issues and tackling them head-on would somehow help me keep my demons at bay... But no.

Saturday, the Respect Life Committee that Peter and I chair together for our church threw a tea party.  It was a blazing success!  And, because it was tea, there were delicious scones and fruit, tasty tea sandwiches, and outstanding desserts... And, because I should (or is this "could"), I ate them...  And long after I wasnt hungry (I wasnt hungry to start if I'm honest, because I snacked beforehand, with the thought that I could stay the hell away from the high calories at the tea itself).  In one day, the scale showed a 2.5 pound increase come Sunday morning.  I wasn't happy, to say the least.

But Sunday was my long run and, even though I'd only planned a 9 mile outing (1/2m walk warm-up, 8 mile run, 1/2m walk cool-down), I ended up running NINE miles and making it a 10 mile day!  Which had me on cloud nine.  I felt it in my muscles and joints afterwards (and this morning) no doubt, but not in a bad way.  In a "you did it!!!" sort of way.  And it was great.  Absolutely great. 

I came home, grabbed a quick shower, and got prepared for the final meeting of our lenten scripture study (Peter and I hosted a 6 week study through the Sunday scriptures of Lent).  Afterwards, as was the tradition, we had a potluck.  Utter deliciousness...  My mother made a chicken marsala TO DIE FOR.  It was all good... So very good...

And so, you guessed it, I ate.  More than I should have.  Even after my stomach said "HEY! YOU!  I'M DONE!!!".  Because, really, that means, "Shove in another brownie (or two) and dont forget to finish your wine!"

I know better.  That's the worst part.  I truly know better.  And I know that I tend to struggle more in groups.  Part of it is that I dont want people to think I'm depriving myself (because I'm not).  Part of it is that the food is good and I want more (even when my body doesnt).  I lost 65 pounds in 6 and a half months by listening to my body... By making better choices.  And now, when I'm so close- 25 pounds- to my goal, I'm falling short... I'm fighting myself.  The evil monkey and the good one...  Hand to hand (or maybe hand to mouth??) combat.

My mantra has been "Today is a new day".  And it is.  A day of better choices.  A day of going back to what works.  To realizing that I am a snacker... And that is okay.  Because low calorie, healthy snacks are a good way to eat, and grazing is better for my body that sticking to meals.

But it pisses me off- in the WORST way- that my runner's high is overshadowed by my eater's guilt.  9 miles is the longest I have ever run in my life.  It is a day that I am so proud of... To let it be weighed down by bad choices is a heartbreak.

But today... today is a new day.  Today is a day that I CAN make better choices.  It doesnt need to be about the scale; it needs to be- no it HAS TO BE- about making the positive choices- the healthy choices- that got me here in the first place.  And it will be. 

Because I'm stronger than this and, even if I dont know it, I'm stronger than the brownies too...

Watching Them Grow (HHB)

Originally posted here

It never ceases to amaze me- that speed with which babies become toddlers and then the rate that those toddlers continue to grow.  Just yesterday (it seems), we were taking Bobby and Maya home from the hospital.  And now, they both take their naps & bedtimes after being briefly snuggled and then put to bed awake, and Maya didnt take a bottle before bed last night (we are attempting Bobby tonight).

The bottle weaning has been completely a baby led experience.  When it seemed they liked their cups, we took away all their daily bottles... No issues, no fight from them.  When it seemed that, if they woke in the middle of the night, they were briefly thirsty for a glass of water and not a bottle, we took away the middle of the night feeding... No issues, no fight, and thankfully, full nights of sleeping for all four of us! When, last week, Maya began taking a drink or two of her "snuggle bottle" (which was only 4 ounces at this point, weaned down from 9), we realized she was telling us she was done with bottles for good.  To make sure, we finished out the week and, last night, I made Bobby his new amount of 3 ounces, and Maya had no bottle.  After her bath, I snuggled her like normal, and then placed her in her bed.  She took her "sleep entourage" of her lovey, sleep sheep, and Baby Stella doll, all covered by her favorite baby blanket and then her comforter, and went to sleep.  Bobby took his bottle, although Peter said you could tell he did it because it was there, and then Peter snuggled him and put him to bed.  Sometimes he'll sit up quietly for 15-30 minutes before crawling into bed and going to sleep.  It's interesting to sneak a peak at him.  

So, tonight, it looks as if we may try Bobby without his bottle.  He seems to be giving us signals, albeit differently from Maya.  I think it will be strange to look in the cabinet and no longer see Born Free bottles... to no longer have them on the drying rack... to no longer wash level 3 nipples and apparatus pieces...  to no longer have babies drinking bottles.  It's a good change, of course.  But it does tug my heart as well.  As it is, there are only 6 bottles left in the house (down from, at one time, 30 bottles!)  But I think packing those up and giving them away will truly feel like the end of an era. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sometimes You Just Need To Run (LOMIM)

Originally posted here

Like today... When you (well, me) have eaten AT LEAST 3 brownies.  
I say "at least" because I was eating the edges that I'd cut off and, I'm assuming, they add up to 3 for the day, but really, who the hell even knows...  Emotional eating was part of it, but part of it was just the sheer "damn, these are good" feelings.

What isn't so good?  That feeling that comes afterwards.

Which, for me, means a run. 

I live about 2 miles from my gym and I've often thought about running to the gym, doing my workout, and running home.  But I've always chickened out... Running at night on uneven sidewalks, the weather, whatever: I'm the queen of excuses.  But today, after my "3" (we'll call it "3") brownies, I just told myself I was going to do it.  So I put myself in my 2nd pair of shorts (these are the same type as the ones I bought at Kohl's, but are Champion from Target and are slightly longer...), a short sleeve, neon (read "CARS, DONT HIT ME!!!") shirt, and my running vest, and took off.  6mph pace and made it to the gym in 20 minutes.  I wasn't tired and got straight away to my strength training.  (Now that I'm used to the routine, instead of 3 sets of 15, I'm on 2 sets of 20 that, in May, will move to 2 sets of 25, before reevaluating in June.)

Sarah is usually with me on Fridays and we strength train together, but tonight she was recouping from a long work trip and I was solo.  My wedding rings are too huge now, so I wear them on my middle finger and, apparently the chap in the weight room thought I was single.  And, if I were, he was my type...  But I'm not, so I just smiled and kept right on at my workout.  But I have to admit that, although it was disconcerting to feel quasi-watched during my workout (especially since I was sweaty from my run), it also gave me a sense of "OMG- that guy thinks I'm cute!", which was nice.  I'm usually cat-called on my runs by middle schoolers (where my only thought is "I'm old enough to be your mother!"), but someone in his thirties who thought I was cute?  That I can be happy with.

Forty minutes later, I strapped my water belt back on and headed out in to the breezy night for my return 2 miles.  Again, a 6mph pace.  And it was GREAT.  Awesome.  Just me and the moon.  I ran through downtown, as it is better lit than the side streets, and then down my street.  Other than slowing to avoid some dangerous sidewalk areas, it was a solid, quick pace.  (My long runs average about 5mph.  I'm hoping to work up to a solid 6mph by the half-marathon in September, but I'd be happy holding a 5mph too.)

When I got home, my heart wasn't racing and I felt on top of the world.

Since I still have my long run (8 miles!!!, a 9 mile outing with my warm-up and cool-down!!!) for this weekend, I'm hoping to have the runners high sans brownies the next time I strap my running shoes on...

Come On Out!

Are you local???  Come out and, for a $10 donation, receive a delicious tea service, with guest speaker, Marie Joseph!  We still have a few seats left!

Tea & Talk
Saturday, April 16th
St. Maria Goretti Parish Center
(1601 Derstine Rd., Hatfield, PA)
2pm: Tea Service begins
2:30pm: Speaker begins

I've made homemade sandwiches and desserts, as have others on the Committee; one of the member's husband's even made the scones for the first course!!  The food is delicious and all our welcome!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Holding Them Back

Every now and again, I question myself: am I holding them back from things they could do?  Are there skills they could have but dont because I'm either afraid to try or because I simply dont want to let them go there yet?  Most times, I'm able to say no, things are as they should be, but yesterday, I realized that I was, indeed, holding them back from something they could be doing.

For their birthday last year (and since we homeschool), Peter's parents bought the kids these adorable toddler-primary school desks.  They are too cute.  Pecan wood, matching chair, flip top... You name it... Pretty stinking cute.  We put them on the lower level, in the "school room".  "One day", they'd work great.  But not now... The kids would climb on them, or flip the chairs over, etc.  And yet, I've been looking for a table for them with some chairs... So, yesterday, I thought "they could do this... I'm stopping them, but they could."  So, I brought the desks up.  I opened up the gate that guarded 2 of the bookcases, rearranged the living room (and left one of the bookcases out), and set up their desks.

And they love them.  Absolutely love them.  Bobby is sitting at his now, playing with his "laptop".  They've "read" books at them and, this morning, we colored at the desks.  They havent destroyed any of the nonboard books that are out.  They havent beat each other over the head with the chairs.  No one has fallen off the chair because they stood and leaned back; no one has climbed the walls from the desk.  They've been absolutely fine.

But it makes me think, "What else aren't you doing because YOU are worried... not because they arent ready?"

Which, leads me to potty training.   This is still something that, when I evaluate them against the lists compiled by developmental specialists and pediatricians they come up short (as in 30-40% ready) when it relates to potty training.  Peter and my MIL think we should start trying them on the potty; every single mother I've talked to, who has potty trained within the last decade, caution me against it.  Peter was trained before his brother was born (21mo difference in their ages) and regressed afterwards.  His mom feels it was because he wanted the same attention the new baby received, although parents who feel they rushed their child or who believe, in retrospect, they trained too early, warn me of regressions (some lasting a few weeks others lasting months!) and that, they feel, it impeded their child in other avenues.  So, we are at a crossroads here.   My girlfriend, Terri, sent me a file that was a great read on when to potty train, how to, etc, so Peter's going to read that so that we can discuss from the same starting place.  If he's seeing signs that I'm not, then I'm all ears.  But right now, simply knowing 9 times out of 10 that you need your dipe changed and getting through 2-3 sleeps (naps or bedtime) a week dry, just isnt enough.  Just today, Maya (who is queen of "I NEED A NEW DIAPER!!!" and probably would shout 'and a new outfit' if only she had the words to shout either) ran around with a stinky butt and wouldnt let me change her until I finally caught her and gave her no other out.  Usually she comes to you because she's peed and wants to be changed.  Every day is a new one, but I dont want to rush them.  Believe me, I'd love to not have my hands in pee and poop... But one round of potty training times two will be enough... I dont want to handle a regression because we forced the issue (or, God forbid, a series of regressions... Ugh...)

Edit: as if to prove my point, both kids woke up from their naps, having peed through their diapers.  wet clothes, wet sheets, wet everything...  

The kids are napping... Bobby put himself down.  This week, we've been putting him to bed awake and he's been falling asleep on his own (after half an hour to 45 minutes of talking); last night, there were actual sobs.  Broke my heart.  We dont do any sort of cry-it-out, so the second the talking goes to crying, one of us responds.  Sometimes, it's just standing at his door and talking him through it; other times, it's sitting next to his bed and rubbing his back, while talking to him.  Two nights, the last "visit" was me sitting next to his bed, rubbing his back, and telling him what a brave boy he was, that I knew it was hard, but that he wasnt alone... that mommy and daddy was next door and sister was down the hall and that he was safe.  Then, I kissed his cheek, told him I loved him, and "have a good night-night" (which is my ending ritual with Maya).  Both times, not another peep. Kind of interesting.  We've moved their bedtimes to around 7:30-8pm and they are sleeping until around 7:15, so, it's a good time.  But I've found I do miss cuddling with them, too... Such is life.

I've baked a version of Peter's GF chocolate chip cookies with Splenda and brown sugar instead of sugar and brown sugar.  But, I forgot butter... So then I added more water (and 2tbsp butter when I remembered)... And I ran out of coconut flour... so I added more hazelnut (and then even more hazelnut to balance the lately added butter and too much water.... And I didnt have Ghiradeli chocolate, only some Tollhouse chips I'd bought on sale.  BUT... They arent half bad.  They might even (dare I say it) be good!  Not as good as Peter's recipe, but for 80 calories a pop, I'll settle for good cookies over no cookies!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Warmer Weather, ToddlerBabies, and Thin Shorts

Another one of those "I dont want to break it up" posts...  I feel like a rambling woman with dementia... Or, the toddlerbrained woman I am...

Thank you for warmer weather!  We've been able to go out for walks several times this week!!!  And today, Maya is in a sundress and Bobby is in a one piece short outfit.  A-W-E-S-O-M-E-.  What's not awesome?  80 degrees in April... I'd be happy for short sleeves and light pants... 70ish degrees... But, right now, it's not snowing, so I'll take it.

Me?  I'm in my thin shorts... That are so freaking huge they wont stay up without the tightest rung on one of Peter's belts (because I dont have belts).  Yeah.  This is my only pair of shorts because I refused to buy over a 36 (they are men's hiking shorts).  I bought them about 7 years ago.  I wore them once... and then, put them on for the first time in that 7 years a few weeks ago.  They fit, but were slightly tight around the middle.  Now?  They fall off.  They are loose- even with the belt.  It's quite nice, but I realize that I really cant wear them.  I'll have to get new ones- and that scares me.  Me?  In shorts?  That hasn't happened in a very long time...

Edit@10:40am: I took the kids for a quick outting to Kohl's.  I had a 20% off coupon and needed to get a shrug for my Easter dress as well as look for some shorts for them (since they dont have summer clothes at all and 20% of clearance at Kohl's is cheaper than the consignment store).  I got them each 5 outfits (all $5-$8 each, which is OUTSTANDING!!!), a shrug for me, and... a pair of running medium...that fit with room in the waist, but perfect through the bum and thighs...  running shorts... like real runners have... I'll be trying them out this afternoon in our nearly 80 degree (anticipated) weather...  Slightly nervous but psyched too!

Update@3:50pm: took the kids in the jogger for a 3m run... in my new shorts!  I'm not sure if it is just the nature of the beast or my modesty issues, but I was constantly pulling at them.  But, in good news, there was no chaffing and they were comfortable!

I've crossed the 175 threshold.  Yesterday morning saw 174.5.  15 pounds until I'm a normal height-to-weight ratio...  Less than 25 pounds until my final goal weight.  It's pretty amazing to think that I'm in the "third trimester" of this journey so far...  Wow...  Pretty darn cool...

I'm often lamenting how quickly Bobby and Maya are growing up.  Bobby drinks out of his cup like a champion and barely drips, if at all.  He's learning to lull himself to sleep.  Maya has been going to bed on her own for quite a bit and is getting better at her cup, although she loves to pull it and slosh it all over her.  Have I mentioned she also loves to change her clothes???  She'll strip so that I have to redress her.  And, if I'd let her, she'd go through 4 or 5 outfits a day.  I sometimes wonder if she screws around with the cup just to get a new outfit...  But, I digress... Yesterday gave me a piece of my babies back and, although I know these moments quickly become fleeting, it was a reminder of the two little ones that came into my life nineteen months ago.

Yesterday, Bobby woke from his nap, an hour in.  (Normally, a nap is 2 hours, at least).  Peter went to him, as he was crying, and he cried harder.  I approached the door and he leapt into to my arms.  He balanced his forehead under my chin and clung to me.  I laid in my recliner and he snuggled against me and fell back to sleep.  He peacefully woke after about 20 minutes, for a 10 minute lovefest, where he smiled at me, cooed, and was all around, the cutest kid in the world.  Then, back to sleep.  10 minutes later, I put him back in his bed, and he had a total of a 2.5 hour nap.

Last night, Maya woke around midnight, which is odd for her.  That girl SLEEPS!  She wasn't wining, but was screaming. Nightmare screaming.  Peter went into her, and thus began an hour+ cycle of sleep for a few, scream for a few, sleep for a few, scream for a few.  No matter what the poor guy tried, it wasnt working.  I havent slept well in 2 days (the stomach issues leading up to CD1 yesterday were NASTY!), and was just praying she'd go to bed so that I could go to sleep (or at least try).  Finally, I got up and went into her room.  She reached for me and laid her head down.  A moment later, I laid down with her, in her bed. She slept soundly, as long as she laid flat on my chest.  Is this the same girl who kicks me out of her room at night so she can go to bed like a big girl???   If I moved her, she was fitful, plagued by invisible ghosts of the night.  But, on me, she was peaceful... Safe... Unafraid.  I laid awake until dawn peeked through her window.  Am I tired now?  You bet... But is there something incredible about your child believing you can keep the demons at bay?  After the week of guilt over their eyes, your damn right there is.

No matter how big they seem to be right now, it opens my eyes to see just how tiny they still are... How tiny they will always be in my heart...

I love them so very much; my heart melts and overflows.  Every.Single.Day.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

19 Months

Happy 19 month birthday, Bobby and Maya!  

I can't believe that this is the last month with a "1" in front of it...  Next month and beyond, it's "twenty..." months.  Wow... Where has the time gone?  5 months left until they turn 2 years old, and I leave the months in the breeze.

Maya, the strawberry blond beauty, pretending to sing in her "microphone"
I'm constantly amazed by them.  Every single day.
Bobby, lounging in my recliner
Giving me a smile when I threatened to "get him"

We're giving them cups with breakfast and dinner... Open cups...  It's quite the mess, but it's neat to watch them really get it.  Sleep wise, Maya is great about going down awake and putting herself to sleep... Bobby, not so much.  A few days before the 19 month birthday mark, we started trying to put him down awake.  And, it's getting better.  And have I mentioned how nice it is to get a full night's sleep?  Thank you, bedtime ritual... Thank you, babies who love sleep as much as Mama and Daddy... Thank you, thank you, "NCSS".

19 months... Wow... Time flies...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Daddy's Day Away

Peter is attending a men's retreat today, sponsored by the Archdiocese.  He initially heard about it through a Men's Group that he's a part of at a local parish, and then it was printed in our bulletin.  He mentioned being interested in it, so I registered him and he's been looking forward to go.  It starts at 8am (in Philly) and ends after the Vigil Mass (which I think, starts at 5:15).  So, it's a full day event.

Maya's godmother is visiting with her little girl, so we're going to have a busy day running after 3 toddlers (L is 11w older than the twins)!  I'm looking forward to it, and I'm really happy that Peter is having a day focused on the challenges of being a husband and father, a man, and his spirituality.

But I'm going to miss him, too...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Being Away

Last Thursday and yesterday were tougher than usual days for me...  It's always hard to drop the kids off at my in-laws, but I know that it is good for everyone involved and allows us to have a hardcore house cleaning weekly.  Not to mention, it's a nice 'refresher' even if I dont want to admit that to myself.  But the last 2 weeks have been different.  I drop them off... and get home after they are asleep.  Instead of having dinner with everyone and then going about our night as a family (which now includes music class), I have dinner alone before leaving for my childbirth education series.  I have 2 more classes (2 more Thursdays) and I know that those nights will suck.  I miss them...  I hate that I'm missing out on their night ritual and snuggling them before bed... That I dont see them from 10:30am until the next morning, around 7am.  It sucks...  :( They send me pictures, but I still miss them.

Music class is no longer on Friday mornings.  I really wasn't enjoying the class.  It's a great opportunity for the kids, but one of me and 2 of them... It wasn't working.  They werent getting all they could out of it because it is parent/child interactive.  So, it was either try a different class (Thursday night "family class" is the only other one that we could do) or quit altogether.  So, we've decided to give this session a try, when we both can be there.  Of course, I'm missing the first 2 weeks of class (and we have someone else going with Peter) because of my CBE classes...  Oh well...

But, today, the monkeys are in full form!  Climbing on furniture, giving me hugs and kisses like they havent seen me in months, and eating everything in sight.  (And, I must admit, Friday morning snuggles are so groovy, I think, because I miss them so much on Thursdays!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vegetarianism and Infertility Awareness

I used to be a PETA member.  I was a proud vegetarian, carting around my vegan wallet and scrutinizing labels to make sure that nothing I bought had cost an animal its life.  After 2 months (and a screening of "Meat Your Meat"), Peter began a vegetarian with me and we lived that way for 7 years.  It was a good time.  I cooked a lot and learned a lot, and I felt like I was doing a good thing for my body, the animals, and the planet.

I'm not a vegetarian anymore, although I still espouse many of the beliefs I held true at that stage in my early twenties.  (I ate meat when I was pregnant with Nicholas & Sophia and couldnt handle the hardcore porkchop or kielbasa need, stopped being a veg on a regular basis when I got pregnant with Alexander and need a tuna sandwich damn near every day and stopped being a pesci-veg when I got pregnant with Bobby and Maya and craved meat, meat, and more meat.)  For us, the real issue was the "ethical treatment" of animals.  Factory farming so that I could buy a chicken for 99 cents a pound didnt sit right with me.  Crowding hens into crates so that I could buy 18 eggs for $1.25 made my skin crawl.  Pumping animals full of hormones so that we could a little more for a little less...  made me sick to my stomach.  And, at that time, the answer for me was to stop eating meat and to join an organization that cared about the ethics of animal welfare.  So, I joined PETA, paid my annual membership dues, and, although I didnt love some of their tactics, I felt that sometimes 'in-your-face' was the only way to get peoples attention.

As I got older and, honestly, more conscious of my food and environment, and as Peter and I philosophized more on the legacy of beliefs we want to leave our children, it became more and more apparent that I wasn't against the cycle of life that our ancestors (especially our Native American ones) journeyed through.  Live life in balance... Animals have feelings and spirits and deserve our respect and compassion...  We are all animals, on this planet for a finite time, with the responsibility to leave it better than we found it for those in our wake.  We decided that not eating meat wasn't the answer, but was just another way to try and fix the problem.  And we moved to a different way, that of sustainable eating.  Although I do shop at Whole Foods, our biggest money dollars go to into our community, to the local farmers.  We buy our meat from a local, raw dairy farm that treats its animals well and raises them without the use of antibiotics.  We see the animals we eat.  We talk to them; our children touch them.  We can watch the raw milk we buy coming from the source.  We can see the baby goats playing and the hens running around the farm (in fact, I have to drive extra carefully as to not hit them since they run free on the farm!).  Is it cheap?  No.  So we have less of it.  And that's okay.  That's the price we pay.  (And, just for a side note, check out a cookbook from 50 years ago and take note of the meat portion sizes to feed 4... Then look at one of today... We dont need the amount of meat we are eating en mass.  The people of 50 years ago were MORE active and ate LESS; they were healthier too, statistically speaking.)  We go to the local bakery (I bake bread, but I dont have the means to slice it for sandwiches) and pick up 2 loaves to keep us through 2 weeks of sandwiches.  It gets placed in the freezer, since it has no preservatives and wont keep and I defrost it prior to use (no microwave either). For Thanksgiving, we went to a farm down the street and bought a turkey, raised with love and slaughtered the morning of pick-up.  A local farmer.  Our town (and the surrounding ones) have farmer's markets.  Organic, fresh fruits and veggies that werent flown in or trucked in from all over the world.  The cycle of life... It's what we found that we were really all about.  And it works for us.

But, obviously, I couldnt write my check to PETA while eating a grass-fed, free range piece of cow.  So, I dropped the membership.  It was hard.  I had actually applied for a job at PETA when we thought of relocating to the Virginia Beach area.  I had gotten to the in-person interview stage when we decided that it would just be too difficult of a transition for us as a couple, and I declined to go further.  I remember being so excited by the possibility, by the opportunity...  And then, I was ending my financial support of them and it was tough.  But it was the right thing to do.  My beliefs werent in line with theirs.  And, although I wanted people to wake up and realize that animals arent ours to do with what we like and that human beings are responsible for much of their plight, I didnt think that the methods PETA used were all that effective (similar to how I dont think that anti-abortion folks who bomb clinics and kill doctors are effective in promoting a 'pro-life' message).

Over the years since I stopped sending my check (although they still solicit me from time to time), I've kept up with PETA in the news.  Some good things, some bad things, some that just have me saying "that's PETA..." and rolling my eyes.  But when I read some blogs recently that highlighted PETA's latest, "Win A Vasectomy" campaign, I have to admit... My stomach churned as though I'd just watched "Meet Your Meat" again...  in a very anti-PETA way.  To honor "National Infertility Awareness Week", they've decided that one "lucky" man can get clipped if he does the same for his companion animal.

Really?  Pardon my language, but WTF.  And, if you click on the above link and scroll down, you'll see plenty of PETA supporters who are disgusted too.

Infertility isn't funny.  It's not a sound-bite or a lead into a vasectomy giveaway.  It's a disease.  Perhaps for Cancer Awareness, they can give one lucky person chemo therapy if that person does the same for their pet... Or, I know, in honor of the aged, they can give you morphine patches to "put down" that special elderly person in your life when you decide to put your beloved cat to sleep because her standard of life has fallen into hell.  Oh- that's not funny?  You're right- neither is infertility.

Infertiles suffer.  They live in a world that tells them parenthood is the best option, where people trivialize their medical conditions by telling them to "just adopt" or "just relax" or one of the other, myriad pieces of advice.  They go through injections just to ovulate and, in many cases, live through the hell of miscarriage or the death of a child.  They watch teenagers get pregnant, women do drugs and drink and deliver healthy babies, and life go on around them, all while waiting for that elusive BFP or trying every drug cocktail in the world to prolong pregnancy and stop preterm labor, all while their life stops and starts by the beep of a NICU monitor.  Do you want a taste of what real pain is?  It's watching your baby die.  It's knowing that you cant simply make love to your husband and get pregnant, that instead you have to inject yourself with God only knows what and involve a team of medical doctors.  It's the realization that a "natural" birth is something you can dream about because all your future pregnancies hold are risks of miscarriage, severe preterm delivery, pPROM, pre-eclampsia (or even more fun, postpartum eclampsia), placental abruption, or PTL combined with a long NICU stay.  Fun times.  Your right.  Something to make a mockery of with a dumbass contest that is supposed to bring awareness to the ethical treatment of animals.

I'm an animal.  Where the hell is my ethical treatment???  Where is the compassion when I cant get pregnant?  Somewhere between "adopt" and "learn to live childless"?  Where is the love when I lose a baby- you're right... Trapped smack in the middle of "get over it" and "maybe you weren't meant to have children."  Where is the Infertility Awareness that we are all begging for- yep... in a PETA campaign, urging men to get clipped.  Wow... And to think that I've been on the wrong side for all these years.

Infertility is a disease.  It's, as PETA writes on their website (although this is taken out of context), the real "crisis that is a crying shame."  I'm sorry that animals are overpopulating the planet.  I really am.  But the crying shame is that people (animals, too) go through horrendous diseases, no matter what they may be.  Making a mockery of one, in order to bring awareness to the other, is a piss-poor example of someone's lazy PR.  Over 7 million people are impacted by infertility; some are due to genetic issues, others due to "easy fixes" with medication.  But, you know what... It doesnt matter.  It's an illness and those who want to treat it, just like those wanting to treat other illnesses, have that choice.  Poking fun at infertiles- which is what PETA is doing- isn't just insensitive.  It's reprehensible.  

So... What can you do?

Sign the petition, telling PETA that infertility isn't a joke.  It's a very real disease that impacts 1 in 10 couples on a regular basis and, according to doctors, may involve 1 in every 4 over their lifetime.

Email Ingrid Newkirk (the president) and Carrie Snider (special projects), and let them know how you feel.

Blog about it... And, after you've blogged... tweet it and facebook the link.  Let people know this is wrong.  Fertile, infertile, parent, orphaned parent, childless by choice or not- it doesnt matter.  This is just wrong.

I've signed the petition, I'm shooting off an email momentarily, you're reading my blog post, and rest assured, it'll make its way to Facebook soon... But, even if we all do it, will it be enough for PETA to get the message, truly apologize, and get rid of this disgusting 'contest'?  If history points us in the right direction, I'll say most likely not... But this is at least one way to bring REAL awareness of infertility.

Getting Away

June 17th will be 13 years since Peter and I shared our vows to one another.  13 years... Considering I was barely 18 and he a bit shy of 20, we've had a relatively very happy decade plus 3.  It'll be 12 years since our wedding, right after the kids' turn 2, in September, but that is when everyone else sends cards to us... For Peter and I, our private, June vow exchange is the 'real' anniversary and is the one we tend to celebrate most.

This year, the 17th is a Friday and our favorite PA winery, Galen Glen, about an hour north of us, is having a dinner with wine pairing.
Peter mentioned it earlier in the week, and I could tell he liked the idea of going (as do I!).  But, it'll be late and then, with the hour drive...  So he mentioned "It would be nice if we could stay over."  I laughed about the idea, because the town it is in doesnt strike me as a town big enough for accommodations, but I did a cursory check and, sure enough, a B&B popped up.  The name of it?  The Alexander Benjamin House.
We talked about it briefly and decided, there would be no harm in checking to see how his mom and Sarah would feel about an overnight babysitting...

I joke that my MIL read the email and probably did a dance, wishing June was next week!  But, in all seriousness, these sweet women readily accepted the challenge...  And, before I can talk myself out of it (by letting my mind wander with all the things that could happen while we are gone for 24 hours), I have booked the Green Room at the B&B and emailed the winery about the tasting dinner.  So, in a little over 2 months, we will be- voluntarily- spending 2 days and 1 night away from Bobby and Maya.

It's no secret that I'm slightly protective of them (slightly...) and, I'll admit, the idea of being away from them for the first time tugs at my heart.  Will they drown during their bath?  Not want to eat their dinner?  Refuse to go to bed?  Not get a good night's sleep?  Boycott breakfast?  Or, perhaps this breaks my heart a bit too, will they do everything as normal and not even notice we are gone?  (Doubtful, but possible).  I've been nervous about traveling to TN for the half marathon in September, but, at least, Peter will be with them.  This time, we're both gone.

Leaving them for 9 weeks, (save a few times around Maya's surgery) was excruciating, as though a knife was being torn through my heart.  But we knew that it was best for them.  This time, that's not it... This time, we are voluntarily leaving them behind...  Taking 24 hours (and actually, I've mapped it out, it's only 21.5 hours or so) for us.  To have a moment to be a couple, a man and a woman, a husband and a wife.

It feels selfish, but at the same time, it feels special too.  We would never have dreamed of doing something like this when they were 9 months old, but at 21 months old... It feels like they'll be okay (and may even have a good time!).  Will Aunt Sarah sneak them chocolate milk after their bath?  Will Uita let them sit up long after they should be in bed, watching Kung Fu Panda?  We wont be able to know. Of course, we'll be connected... We'll have our cell phones with us, turned up high, the entire time we are away...just in case... but we'll still be away.  At least an hour away...

I'm trying not to worry about what *could* happen.  Parents leave their children in daycare for more hours than this every week.  Parents go away on week long vacations and leave their kids behind.  Heck, parents even pack up their kids and send them to their grandparents' homes for weeks!  It's not like we're doing anything strange or out of the ordinary.  And that, too, makes it weird.

I know that I can be overprotective of them, and I dont make apologies for that.  But, something I strive to do is be as normal of a parent as being an orphaned parent lets me be.  I dont want to keep them from some activity because of my fear; I dont want to isolate them from the other people who love them and want alone time with them, because I have a constant fear of 'what if'.  At some point, I know we have to let go and let what's going to happen...happen.  For better or for worse.  And hope it will always be better.  The wedding last September was hard... and the kids were fine.  Taking my MIL up on her offer to watch the kids for an hour or so twice a week so I could go to the gym was hard and made me feel selfish and guilty...but I'm a better mother for it, she is an outstanding grandmother, and the kids love their time with her.  Packing the kids off to my in-laws once a week from just after breakfast until we all have dinner there was a hard adjustment that (still) has me crying (a bit, and not every time) when I'm on the way home...but the kids look forward to it, they LOVE their grandparents and their grandparents love them (and this special time), and our house is clean.  No broken bones, no choking, nothing bad...  Just the kids, enjoying the time with the special people in their lives who aren't mom and dad... and that's a good thing.

But it's still hard.

And I still feel guilty for being excited that Peter and I are going to have a delicious, wine-paired dinner at our favorite winery, a night alone in a B&B with a hottub in our room!!!, and a delicious, organic breakfast the next morning (that I'm not preparing).  It'll be nice to realize that we'd do it all over again. No questions... No doubts... No regrets...  

I feel guilty, but I feel really happy, too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Gift

My dad is a painter; he's been a painter for decades, but when he moved up here in 2004, he got back into painting on commission, and does some work on the side.  He does a lot of portrait work by photograph, and, although I'm biased, I think he has a gift.

He mentioned, many moons ago, that he wanted to do a family portrait for us.  He bought the canvas months ago- last summer I think- but I had said to not worry, since I knew he had some other "paying" work in the queue.  He had initially intended for this to be a Christmas gift, but, like I said, no worries... no rush.

He told me, a few weeks ago, that he had started working on our portrait, but that it was difficult for him.  I knew going in, that it would be.  When he mentioned wanting to do a family portrait, he told me that he wanted all 5 of the children included, but that he wanted them to be age appropriate to Bobby and Maya. Since the only photographs we have of the children are, of course, right after birth and weren't the greatest detail for an artist who wants to study cheekbones, etc, I knew he was going to have a rough time.

Add to this, that my dad hasn't come to terms with the fact that Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander have died... Every now and again, he'll ask to see their box.  He knows of them, of course, but he couldnt bring himself to say their names.  It hurt too much. That hurt me, but I understood.  We all process grief differently.  I've never buried a grandchild- let alone 3- so I dont know what he's gone through.  And God willing, I never will.

Last week, he brought a large canvas, covered by a blanket into my kitchen, and unveiled his work.
(keep in mind, this is from my cell phone and does NOT do this painting justice)
The bottom row shows Alexander, Sophia, and Nicholas, with Bobby & Maya in the middle, and Peter and I around all of them.  The background is our church.  And, although you cant see it well, he placed the pendant Barb made me as a broach... and, using artistic discrepancy, made 4 hearts inside... The four hearts we never heard and were unable to hold outside the womb.

I'll get a better, more detailed (and non cell phone) picture, but this gives you the idea.

I choked when I saw it.  I was finishing my lunch and didnt expect to be overwhelmed the way I was.  But, what got me more was, as we cried together, the story my father told me of how he painted the children we'll never see age.

He had gotten pictures of Peter, Robert, and I as children, which he studied alongside images of Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander that he had blown up into huge dimensions.  He began the painting with Bobby, because he said that he could see Bobby with his eyes closed.  And then, one by one, Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander came to him.  He described it as a spiritual experience.  They would direct his hand, he said.  When he made a mistake, they would tell him "that's not right" and he would repaint.  And then, when their image was complete, he said that he heard them tell him "That's me, PawPaw... You've painted me."  Even writing it now, I'm tearing up and have chills.

What he has given to us is a precious gift that words cannot express; but the gift that his grandchildren gave to him is one that there simple are not words for.  Finally, 3 years and 2 years, respectively, later, he was able to have a relationship with his grandchildren who have died.  I am so thankful for that.

And I am so touched by his expression of love for all of us.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ophthalmology Update

Yesterday afternoon, we took the kids to their ophthalmologist visit with the new doctor in our town.  When I arrived, Peter wasnt there yet, but the office staff were great in getting us checked in and holding paperwork for me to do until he got there.  They have a special pediatric waiting area, with toys, etc.  It was such a better experience than the previous office, where we loved the doctor but not his staff.  We met Dr. C. and liked her.  She was good with the kids, but the kids... They weren't good with her.  They did NOT want to be there.   Screaming, crying, you name it.  It was pretty miserable.  She felt bad, we felt bad, the kids were very unhappy.  But, she was nice about it and said it was really common for this age and, after their doctor's appointment (where they also freaked out and she, too, said it was the age).

And then, for me at least, she dropped a bomb.

She believes that, in the next year or so, Maya will become near sided and that, although it will be a tad longer for Bobby, that he will be too, and that they will both need glasses.  Maya's vision is at "0" now and Bobby is at far "2" (which apparently is more normal for their age?).  As their eyes grow, most likely, their eyes will not adjust and they will grow into near sidedness.  When I asked her if this was a result of prematurity, since (although Peter has a family history of bad eyesight) both parents have excellent vision, she said "most likely."

This hit me like a ton of bricks and, I admit it, I cried when I got to the car.  Peter couldnt understand why.  When we talked about it later, his response was a) they could be fine; b) it could be a result of genetics; c) but ultimately, it doesnt matter because they are fine now and we are watching their health and will keep up with whatever they need whenever they need it.  He expressed that his vision was 20/13 in both eyes from childhood and, only recently, did he score 20/20; it took him over 30 years to get there.  Mine have been 20/13 and 20/15 since childhood and now, both are 20/15 (which, incidentally, my ophthalmologist said was insane, considering I was premature and should have, at best 20/20 vision).  I get what he's saying; I do.

And I am grateful.  I know that ROP causes blindness.  I know that babies born at later gestations have many more problems, eyes and otherwise.  I know that we have escaped so many problems and that, even if this is the case, as Dr. C. said, this is a small blip on the screen and is not a big deal... That it doesnt have to interfere with sports or anything else, and that many people wear glasses or contacts and have perfect lives.  I know this.  I do.

And yet, the part that I am focusing on is that their prematurity let to this.  The fact that my body failed them and delivered them over 3 months early did this to them.  When Maya had to have laser surgery, I had similar feelings.   It was my fault.  If I'd carried them longer, perhaps... Perhaps... Perhaps...

Of course, we dont know.  Ask a full term mother who delivered her baby full term and still born if she would prefer a 27 weeker who had minor concerns and she'd say OF COURSE.  It's all relative to how our children are, I know that.  I wanted full term; nature had other plans, and I have two healthy children.  I'm grateful.

But I cant lie and say I dont feel guilty, enormously so.  I dont know what else I could have done, save not attempting pregnancy.  And that's a whole other post in and of itself that I'm not prepared to address.  I would give my very life for the time I've had with Bobby and Maya.

I thought I'd write something more positive (like how the chowbabies, as I'm calling them today since they are eating EVERYTHING in sight!, **might** enjoy an overnight while Mommy and Daddy take an anniversary trip) but I'm not feeling it right now.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Naptime Routines and Other Things

Thanks to all those who commented on my last post, which has been deleted.  I just needed to get my feelings out and vent, but that post isn't something that I would want to be stumbled upon by the people involved.  As angry as I am, one of those people is very close to me, and I wouldn't want to hurt them in that way.  As it is, I'm trying to find some sort of peace with the situation.  It's hard, but I'm trying.

This morning, the kids woke up early and we went to daily Mass at our parish.  The intention was for the father of a dear friend, and I'm so glad we were able to go.  Peter fed the kids an early 1st breakfast while I showered, and then we changed the kids and I headed to church while he went to work.  Peter's mom attends every day and takes part in morning prayers and would be there to assist with an extra pair of hands, which made it doable.  At this point, I'll attempt a lot of things... But attending Mass alone with 2 toddlers is not one of them!

I've been promising the kids that if they keep their shoes on for carrides, then they can walk (while holding a hand of course) to the location we are going.  We let them walk to the car in the garage and, funny enough, this "bribery" of sorts has been working.  Shoes stay on (a feat for Bobby who LOVES to take his shoes off) and then we walk.  I take Bobby out first and then, as I'm unhooking Maya's seat, he stands on the edge of the car, in between her carseat and my body.  Before I take her out, I put him on the ground, with my body blocking him between me and the car.  She is out, I put her down and take her hand, and then take his, somehow get the door closed (my food or butt probably assists with this on any given day), try to sling my diaper bag around my shoulder, and off we go.  It's crazy for me, to be at this stage where we are walking together, hand in hand.  We walked into the church and down the hall to the chapel, where Peter's mom met us, and had an enjoyable Mass.  After Communion, we did stand outside the chapel, since Adoration begins after Mass and the kids were starting to want to get down (which means saying "down!").  Maya was intrigued by the Extraordinary Minister retired the Blessed Sacrament to the Tabernacle, so we had to follow behind him so that she could watch the ciborium get placed inside and the doors closed.  We're teaching them to bow and I dont think she's too far off from getting that herself!

Afterwards, I invited my in-laws to breakfast at a local diner.  The kids were starting to get tired (since they had woken way earlier than usual) but needed a second meal and I was afraid they'd fall asleep on the way home.  Although the local diner in town is only 6 blocks from our house, I hoped I could keep them awake.  We arrived and the kids ate their 2nd breakfast (they'll have 2 breakfasts today instead of 2 lunches) while we ate ours.  At the end, you knew they were getting tired, but they were still well behaved.  They were awake when we got home, and we spent an hour playing and watching Super Why! (I'd recorded it since we'd miss it).  And, then, as 11am rolled around, they took their nap.

It often surprises people that I still like to rock the babies to sleep and snuggle with them prior to naptime, but even more, they are shocked that I do it one-on-one, by myself!  So, I thought I'd pass on what makes it work for us.  I give Maya some quick snuggles and then put her in her room, locking her gate (otherwise, she will either want to climb all over the living room furniture unsupervised or she will run to Bobby's room, where he and I are  and getting him to sleep will be a nightmare).  She has her toys and usually will either sit in her bed and play or, like she did today, take clothes out of her dresser and play dress up until I come back.  She does this quietly, so I'm fine with it, and I dont mind picking up the simple mess when they get up.  I go to Bobby's room and turn on his white noise maker, then hold him in a cradle carry.  He has one arm around me and holds his lovey bear with his upper hand.  I walk him and bounce him, singing "Oh Bobby Boy" (Oh Danny Boy, but with his or Maya's name instead of 'Danny').  If he's really tired, it's one round; on harder days, it's 3; and on the days where he is tired but bound and determined to make me laugh and play with him, it's 4.  Today, it was one.  He closes his eyes, sometimes tells me he loves me, sometimes gets a close snuggle, but ultimately falls asleep.  I lay him in his bed, cover him, kiss his forehead, and go, leaving his gate unlocked.  When I get to Maya's room, I pick her up, same position as Bobby, and give her her lovey bear.  Half a verse of Oh Maya Girl (and this is her choice), then I lay her in her bed, give her her sleep sheep, which she cuddles in her free arm as she rolls over, cover her with a baby blanket from the NICU (I dont know why this is her favorite- I dont even know where we got it!), and then her comforter.  She lays on her belly and I stroke her hair or back until the song is finished, then I kiss her forehead, tell her "I love you, have a good night-night" and leave (while she's still awake), keeping her gate unlocked.

As nutty as it sounds, this is the way it has to be, for Maya especially.  If I forget to tell her to have a good night-night, she will get out of bed and come into the living room, where she wants me to pick her up, take her back to bed, and repeat the final part of the nap ritual, getting it "right" at the end.

How long does getting them both to nap take? 10 minutes.  8 on a good day.  15 on a rough one (although it feels like 15 hours on those days!).  They sleep for 1.5 to 2 hours on a normal day (which is usually noon-2ish); today, I'm hoping for 11-1, then lunch, then their eye appointment in the afternoon.

The eye appointment... Each year, they have a check-up with the ophthalmologist.  We absolutely loved the doctor who visited them in the NICU, but... We didnt care for his office staff.  And the practice was SUPER busy, which meant long waits... Did I mention it's 45 minutes (in good traffic) away?  Yeah, so there isnt a good time to go because early mornings (since it's going towards Philly) mean traffic, late mornings/early afternoons ruin nap time, and late afternoons mean more traffic.  So, we made the decision to try out a doctor in town.  We visited the practice for our own eye exams (just the routine thing every 2 years) and they have a pediatric ophthalmologist on staff, so we decided to change docs... As with going back to my midwife after Dr. B., it was bittersweet to say goodbye.  In my letter asking that they forward records, I expressed our satisfaction with Dr. N., but stated that, simply, the commute was not feasible with our lifestyle.  It's true, but was still sad.  I'm hoping we like Dr. C., the new doctor, as much.  (We'll still keep Dr. G., for Maya's yearly retinologist appointments; he actually keeps some office hours at the local hospital's medical office building.)

I'm going to be an aunt again.  My brother and his girlfriend are pregnant; their first son is 2 weeks younger than Bobby and Maya.  She's do at the end of August.  I found out on Facebook.  I know it would be hard regardless, but the fact that I would have been due around Peter's birthday (based on the  1st day of that period, it would have been the day after his b-day, EDD:Aug 13), makes this news stick in my throat.

I have an appointment with the personal trainer tonight.  I'm nervous, but also pretty darn proud of how I've stuck to his recommendations.  I'm at 177 lbs (as of this morning) and I've been doing the routine three times a week, as he suggested.  It's still hard, which I take as a good sign, but I'm able to do it.  I'm not sure if tonight we will go over it and he will tweak any issues, or if I go over one set and then we do something else?  I have no idea... Based on how it goes, I'll schedule my next session with him.  I paid for 4 hours; I've seen him for 1 hour already and tonight is booked as an hour long session.  Depending on what we do, I'll see him in 2-4 weeks for either a half hour or full hour session.  At least, that is my plan...

I'm having a brain freeze on what to have for dinner tonight...  I really want to get down and cook!  Since Peter will be home in the afternoon (he's coming with us to the eye doctor), it's an opportunity to try out a new recipe.  Which means, of course, I have no clue what to do!  I'd better stop blogging and start reading!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Kid Tested, Mother Approved

The kids have an addiction to my smoothies in the morning.  If I'm not in the mood to "eat", I make a 250 or so calorie smoothie to replace breakfast.  If I'm simple, I toss in a fruit (frozen strawberries or blueberries), a Greek yogurt (of the same fruit), some almond milk, some water, and blend.  2 minutes.  Or, maybe I'll do a fruit combo and some hemp with almond milk and water.  Again.  Delicious.  I sit in the living room and have a kid on each side, desperate for the glass.  I hold one hand and then tip the glass with my free hand.  Then alternate.  Then take a drink.  And, while I'm drinking, child 1 grabs my free hand, like "hey!! my turn!!".  I log 250 calories, but I'd be interested to see what I'm actually drinking!


My MIL went to the local consignment store the other day.  She knew I'd been lamenting that I wanted to get the kids a "kitchen" to play with, but that I was too cheap to pay upwards of $140 PLUS the attachments, etc. for it.  She texted me a picture and the words "$63 with a box of stuff".  I dug the money from my hidden jar, called Peter to make sure he was on board, and told her to get it.  As soon as I got it inside and cleaned, the kids were on it like white on rice.  (or brown on rice if you live in our house!).

I always wanted one of these- for myself!!  I dont know if you can see it in the picture, but it's about 4.5-5 feet long.  There is a fridge (with ice maker!), dishwasher, oven, stove, sink, pantry (over fridge), window (over sink), microwave (over stove) and a table.  And the stuff!! Dishes, food, even a kitchen.aid-esque blender!!  I love it... I mean, THEY love it.

And they really do.  They play with it all the time since we brought it home.  I really wanted a wooden one with wooden "food", etc.  But...  Money matters.  And buying from a second hand is recycling, which is also environmentally responsible.


Last night, I had my first childbirth education class (1/4) sponsored by a local hospital.  The instructor is a nurse in L&D, and was personable.  I can say, honestly, that it is not a class that I (as an expectant mother) would have taken.  But, then again, the Bradley classes were way more our speed and our philosophy.  The people in this class seemed to be where they belonged, philosophy wise (and the way that some of them got squeamish watching actual labors, especially the natural one.).  It was eye opening, to say the least.  But, what really struck me, was that she asked me to teach a section next week!  She admitted that she is more clinical in her approach, but would like to add some mediation, etc, and asked if I would do a 10 minute (the class is 2 hours total, with a 45m video, so 75 minutes of lecture/discussion) meditation!  At first, my nerves swished in my stomach, but instantly, I thought "YES!!".  So, I am!  I used to teach yoga and meditation, so this wont be that difficult.  The next week, I'll be organizing my thoughts.  I plan to do 2 affirmations: one for the dad, one for the mom.  And then a 5 minute guided meditation, sending love to the baby inside.  I'll also include a handout with a labor meditation (but since I dont want to have any PTL, we wont do that in class!!)  I'm excited!

Of course, class meant missing out on kid time. :(  I dropped the kids at Peter's parents around 10:15am...  Since I missed dinner...and bath...and bedtime... I didn't see them for 11 hours.  I got home at 9:15 last night and checked on them with a penlight.  :(  I missed them so much.  I snugged with Bobby around 6:45 this morning when he woke up, and Maya about 15 minutes later.  But being without them for the day was tough.  It makes me think that going to Nashville in September for an overnight (for the half marathon) is going to kill me...


I had my bi-monthly measuring today.  I started off, in October, with the following.
Bust: 45.5", Waist: 40", Hips: 51", Stomach: 49", Pants: size 20

As of today, I'm:
Bust: 36", Waist: 32.5", hips: 42", stomach: 39", Pants: sizes 8 & 10

My starting weight was 240lbs (with a BMI of 37.6); I'm not 179.5 lbs (BMI: 28.1).

Six months, 60.5 pounds.  Wow...  29.5 more pounds and 3 more months to hit my big goal.  We'll see!


It's April 1st.  And it's snowing.  Really??  REALLY?????