Saturday, August 27, 2011


It's raining here... Hurricane Irene is moving across the coastline and we are getting wind and rain, even though we are a fair way inland.  Our Borough sent out emails, asking residents to avoid driving, since flooding is expected, and to take in all furniture, toys, etc. from outside, since the expected winds could easily blow things into the street and create more damage.  Dutifully, Peter and I cleared out the backyard this morning.  We moved our patio stuff, the grill, the kids slides and playhouse and all that jazz into the shed.  He took their swingset apart and moved that inside as well.  Then we shook our fruit trees.

It's amazing how quickly you can fall in love with the idea of fruit... from your trees.  So, we got more apples and pears and peaches.  I cut and froze them, hoping to make another pie soon.  I went to the garden and picked kale and red cabbage and carrots, then to the herb bed and grabbed basil and oregano and thyme.  All packed and frozen, waiting for the time when we can eat them...  We had fresh bell peppers and tomatoes with breakfast.  All the food that we've planted and loved and waited for.  The fruit of our labor.

If only it were that easy with children.

I talked to our priest about having a tubal ligation.  I've been referred to a priest whose specialty is moral medical theology.  That being said, our priest thinks that we have a case worth presenting.  He's a good man and it broke my heart to know how much it had to hurt him as well that we are at this place.  He looked at me and with so much compassion said, "I wish that I could say the next time you get pregnant everything will be fine and that there is no need to worry.  Butthat just isn't the way it seems to be.  And for that, I'm sorry."  Me too, Father.  Me too.

Meanwhile, the angry Green Monster rears its head as a person in my life (who thankfully I dont have to interact with) has gone off and had another child she cant take care of...  Nice... On top of that, this baby has a different father than the first- did I mention baby #1's babydaddy and she are still supposed to be together?  The story gets worse, but it's neither here nor there.  Let's just suffice it to say that her due date was around Grace's and that her child was born the day after Grace's EDD, so dealing with the anger and the feelings of how unfair it all is...  It's a good time.  Add to that the realization that perhaps my childbearing days truly are over and that makes me more angry.

But... There's a but.  I know there is... There should be.  I just dont know what it is.

I continue to work on my coursework towards becoming certified as both a doula and childbirth educator.  As I do my required reading and fill out my assignments & reports, some of the materials are harder than others.  Reading about births that I'll dream of because they could never be me...  Learning about how to assist breastfeeding mothers who, hopefully, will have long, healthy breastfeeding years with their little ones.  As I read the sections on "breastfeeding your toddler", I'm struck by the knowledge that I have toddlers... And their breastfeeding days were over nearly 18 months ago.  And that makes me nostalgic for the time I thought we'd have.

But they are healthy.  And happy.  And that matters more than anything I thought we'd have or wanted to have or anything else.  The sheer fact that they are here and that all is well is more than enough for me to be eternally grateful.

It helps, to be honest.  Their hugs and kisses, their delights of "Mama!" and they way the count and sing the alphabet and run and jump in their ball pit to play... The way they help me make their beds and unload the dishwasher... These things help the decision to say good-bye to more biological children easier.  It makes the knowledge that a child cant grow in my damaged body or suckle at my empty breasts a little easier to bear.  A friend of mine said in a blog comment earlier that, sadly, sometimes we have to let go of our dreams and start living the miracle that is in our midst.  It hurts to know that sometimes that is true... That our dreams have to remain distant desires and that, to truly live, we have to make every single day- each in and of itself a miracle- count.  I have 2 miracles that I'm so lucky to have.  I dont want to miss anything because I'm too caught up in my own dreams.  I cant; they deserve more than that.

And so, it does hurt to feel as though we are closing that chapter of our lives.  We do hope that one day, the window that is adoption will be opened for us.  We are in the final stages of our home study and then, we'll be as ready as the law allows for a special child to come into our lives.  But, if for whatever reason, that isn't in the cards for us, then we have to remember that two miracles here-  not to mention our 3 saints in heavens and our 4 forever babies in the stars- are nothing too shabby.  They are perfection... Even if we cant always see it through our tears.

If you could, please stop by Reba's and send some love.  She recently said hello to her little bean and now has to say good-bye.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Adventures in Fruit

I love our house.  I love my garden, which has fed us quite nicely this season.  And now, I have another (3 fold) reason to love our house: fruit trees.  Apple, peach, and pear to be precise!  Yesterday morning, Peter dutifully used his height to my advantage and got some fruit.

I peeled and diced it and had a nice bowl full! 

After trying to figure out a recipe that would happily showcase all our delicious fruit (and we knew it was delicious, since we'd eaten an apple, peach, and pear between the four of us when he was picking), I decided on a mixed fruit pie.  (A mini pie, since we didnt pick that much).  So, I boiled the fruit and used my apple pie recipe, using the fruit mixture instead.

I popped that bad boy in the oven and the smell nearly killed me and sent me to pie heaven!  It smelled great.   Peter's lucky I love him so much, because I actually debated serving this for lunch for the kids and I when I pulled it out of the oven!

But, alas, I'm a good wife :)  (usually).  I waited until after our Indian food was on the table and then heated the pie in the oven so that the vanilla ice cream would melt lightly as we were noshing it down. 

Delicious.  It was the best pie ever, according to the mister, who coerced me (with quite a bit of off color humor) to give up my pie.  :)  It worked.  I was laughing too hard (both at his comedy as well as the straight face with which he delivered it) to eat and he finished his pie, my pie, and part of the kids' bowls!  I'd say it was a fruity success!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2nd Annual Robert's Run

It's hard to believe that when we are running the 2011 Lemon Run in memory of Peter's brother, Robert, that 24 years will have passed since his death from neuroblastoma in 1987.  Childhood cancer's are, thankfully, showing better success rates with advances in treatment and care, but still... So many children die every year and we still refuse to sink any sort of substantial funds into research.  But you can help.  Every dollar raised in memory of Robert this year can make a difference.  Run with us, walk with us, or strike back at neuroblastoma with your pocketbook.  Whatever you choose to do, choose to act so that other families can be spared the pain of losing a child.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

CIA Training

If the Central Intelligence Agency is ever in need of a training technique to teach covert operatives how to get in and out of situations quickly, I know the secret: either hire mothers of twins (or higher level multiples) or I'll lend my kids out for the weekend.  Seriously.  I've never been more grateful to attending a military college than for the ability to take a full scale shower in less than 90 seconds. 

Most days I'm able to grab a shower before Peter goes to work or I take one after the gym.  But there are the days where, for one reason or another, I dont have that luxury and it's either dont shower or take one with the kids in the house.  And, although it may sound terrible, I'm a shower-a-day-aholic.  It doesnt need to be a long shower, but it needs to be something.  Hence, my 90 second "rookie shower".  But, add toddlers to the equation and that makes it CIA training.

Here's how I see the training protocol working itself out.  Take two kids just prior to snack time... Two kids who have decided, for one reason or another, to make attacking each other's snack bowl the highlight of their morning.  Only give them half a snack, since you realize as you are pouring their puffs into their bowls that the container only has enough to give them each half a snack and the box of the containers- you buy them by the case after all- is in the garage and hasnt been unpacked.  Have I mentioned that the shower is running because you have forgotten snack time?  Oh, and that you are in a bathrobe?  Yeah, fun times.  So, you give them the halfsnack and dash into the bathroom, door open of course.  You've got 90 seconds- tops.

Rip the robe off, hop in, oops the water is too hot- you turned it all the way over to warm it quickly.  Dial back the water.  Wash your face- rinse it.  Lather your shampoo and rinse.  Condition your hair and sponge the freshly soaped puffy over your body.  Rinse and run a razer over all the parts that must be done before you face the public.  Rinse again.  Water off, grab a towel, and get out. 

But you arent done yet!!

Moisturize, deoderize, and slap on your underwear.  Peak out the door- are the kids still okay?  Do you have time left?  Yes had better be the answer to both those questions!  Grab your jeans and pull them over your mostly dry legs.  As you are running mouse and pomade through your hair get your shirt over your head and slip into your flip flops. 

3-2-1- You're done! 

Anyone who can't do all that fails their CIA training and has to try again... and, instead of just a weekend of twinlove, they have to do it for a week!  That'll teach them.

(Oh, and extra credit if you're able to brush your teeth too!!!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Are You Pregnant?

Are you pregnant or do you know someone who is? Interested in a Labor Doula? I'm working on my LD and CBE cert and am at the point where I can take on clients for my certification.  Email me if you are interested and we can talk details!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

25 Days...

In 25 days, my two pounders turn two!  How in the hell did that happen?

My radio silence gives me a lot of time to contemplate things with these two.  They truly make my days something to anticipate (and sometimes, something to fear!).  I cannot imagine, cannot fathom life without them.  Maya's chants of "MAMA!!!" whenever I come home from a run (and, at this point in my mileage and with the weather, I am sweaty AND nasty, and they dont seem to mind one bit, unlike Peter who hopes I wont sit on any of our cloth furniture until I've showered!!! LOL)...  Bobby's wrap-my-arms-around-your-legs-completely-and-barrel-you-over-to-the-floor kung fu death grip when he wants a hug and then slobbers me with perfect little boy kisses...  They are things I wouldnt dare trade.  When I look back on those early days...  The incubators, the IVs....  I dont know that I pictured them at two years old, talking to me, running to me, two insane daredevils who are the loves of my life.  I dont know that I pictured being a little over a month out from running my first half-marathon either!  How time changes things!

So... The half is approaching.  September 24th in Nashville.  I think the sign-ups are closed, but if you are in the area and want to support the ladies running (it's all women), then you should head downtown way too early in the morning!  My goal is less than 2.5 hours; if I could nail it in 2 hours, I'd be thrilled.  But, I have to get on a plane a few hours later and dont want to hurt myself.  I'm pretty excited, even though it will be 36 hours away from Bobby and Maya and I know that will be tough!

2nd birthday party... I had these adorable invitations made as postcards  (and, although it sounds extravagant, it was cheaper than buying a few and handwriting them).
It'll be a good time.  Fun with friends and family.  Meeting some of our new neighbors (well, we've been hear almost a year, so I guess it's not really cool to say "new" even though they are new to us!) and making new friends.  I'm thinking I might make their cakes this year; we'll see.  I saw an adorable twin design that I liked. (

I figure the big cake would say "Happy 2nd Birthday" or something like that.  It looks like a lot of work, but... I dont know.  I think I'd like to attempt it.  We'll see how brave I feel once September 9th rolls around and I'm on the verge of their party!

Speaking of birthdays, Peter turned 33 last week.  On Wednesday, we had a date.  He took off work and we had brunch a favorite spot nearby then went to the beach.  His parents had the kids for the day, so it was just the two of us.  As he was playing in the surf, I was walking along the waves when these 3 kids (maybe 15-16 years old) walked by.  One of them cocks an eyebrow, smiles, and says "Hey".  One of his friends elbows him in the ribs and says "Dude, she's too old for you."  Wow.  Thanks.  It's not enough that I recognize that I could (technically) be your mother, but your buddies do as well and feel the need to verbalize it.  Funny enough, I dont obsess about age, but that mark stung!  (And made me laugh!!!)  On Friday, I made dinner and we had some friends and family over to celebrate.  He also gave me the "day off" on Sunday to have some girl time so he could have a daddy-day!  A gift that keeps on giving!

I finally made the lower level playroom into a playroom.  The kids LOVE to use it.  It's hysterical.  I say "Let's go downstairs" and they nearly plow me down to get to the door.  Moving some of the outdoor toys indoor was fun.  (The powerwash setting on the hose is NO JOKE).  Bringing down some of the living room stuff really opened up our living room too- it looks way bigger even though I only moved a few things!  But, they are having a blast (we are actually about to head down now!)

On that note, I'll leave you with a few pictures of our 23 month year old wonders. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Maple Tree

I love our maple trees…  There are two majestic ones that are just as you walk up the walk to our front porch and door.  The way they are placed makes them the perfect place for a statue of Our Lady and a votive garden.  They give me a sense of peace and hope whenever I see them.  They are one of the things that lured me into this house.  One of the things that made it real for us as “home”.  We’re tree people; some folks are “pet people”, but not us.  We are tree people.  We feel their unique spirits and find a kindred soul within.  Tree people…

Which is why it was devastating when the late July tornado and lightening storm damaged one of those majestic maples.  Its trunk was split in half with a jagged rip; the shade giving branches were yanked to the ground in a violent attack.  The  tree folks who came to review the tree told us that there was no change to save the tree…  Hack it down… Chip it up… Plant again or don’t and let grass grow…  But the tree has to come down.

Then one gentleman came and said, no…. he could save the tree…  The estimate would run us a little higher than the lowest chop-down one, but that was okay.  He could save the tree!  Pin it back together, trip the top, and, eventually the tree would grow again.  The tree would live!

To say that we were thrilled is putting it mildly.  A happiness came when we looked at the tree, broken for sure, but capable of being saved.   The tree crew came to fix the tree and the other shoe dropped.  The young man looked truly sad when he said “I don’t think this tree can be saved.  The damage looks too severe…”
I know my voice cracked when I asked if they would have to cut the tree down… If there was no other option.  He was trying to get in touch with his father- the original lumberjack who said the tree could be saved- but to no avail.  They decided to rope the tree to prevent a terrible accident if the tree gave way and fell, and to give us time to decide what to do.  As much as it hurt, we decided to let go of the tree… To let them cut it down.  And I cried.
It may sound crazy, a grown woman crying over a tree.  Most people would say that the tree is just a thing.  That it has no feelings, no spirit.  But I don’t believe that; I’ve never believed that.  I’ve felt that spirit.  I’ve seen the life and the love.  (And, for the record, yes, I cry when I read The Giving Tree, which is my favorite children’s book.)
Perhaps, in this tree, I can see a part of myself.
The last few weeks have seen lots of discussion in our home about where to go from here, reproductive wise.  It’s clear from my particular issue that future pregnancies, if conceivable, are a risk.  Of my seven pregnancies, four have ended in first trimester miscarriage and two have ended in severe preterm deliveries that resulted in the deaths of three children.  Even the “successful” pregnancy was a second trimester delivery and a long journey (on which, we’ve been incredibly lucky).  Our adoption attempts have all ended in failure.  We’ve been told to just be grateful for what we have… To cut our losses and to count our blessings…  To get beyond this and to move forward.  After all, many people aren’t lucky enough to have one child, let alone two health (and let’s not forget, biological, as I’ve been reminded on several occasions) children.  Walk away while we’re ahead, that sort of thing.  Although I don’t think I’ll ever look at our journey as “ahead”, I can see (if not understand or agree with) the points of views of others.
But I can say that a subsequent pregnancy isn’t safe.  It isn’t safe for the baby yet to be conceived.  It isn’t safe for Bobby and Maya.  And we never know the full safety of any pregnancy on the mother.  Even a cervical stitch isn’t a guarantee.  I was on the verge of delivery at 20 weeks with a cervical stitch with Bobby and Maya and, even though it held and got me those extra seven weeks, I spent 16 weeks on bedrest.  My body went through hell and even that wasn’t enough to get Bobby and Maya here full term (or close to it).  I feel grateful that I’ve been able to overcome that and honestly, I’d do it again in a heartbeat… if it were just Peter and I at home.  I’d go through the worry and the pain and the fear for a chance at what I have now, in this moment.
But I cant do it again.  Not now.  I cant imagine what 4 months of bedrest and 2 months in the hospital would do to Bobby and Maya.  I cant imagine the resentment they would have of a new child… The emotional abandonment they would feel.  The guilt and the anxiety we would feel.  The never knowing if we would lose the pregnancy and that growing child… How to explain it to Bobby and Maya on top of that…  And then, the inevitable bedrest and most likely hospital bedrest and probably NICU stay… I saw parents in the NICU who had to choose between kids and home and kids in the hospital… Moms on bedrest who wept for the kids they were missing- and who were missing them- at home.  Kids who were used to a full time mom and were now being cared for by everyone but.  Kids who cried themselves to sleep at night, who asked when Mama was coming home.  Having another baby- for me (and I’m not judging anyone else here)- would be one of the most selfish things I’d ever attempt, even more so because I know the risks involved.
The tree reminds me of myself.  A beautiful trunk that, underneath it all, was actually hollow and just waiting for lightening to strike and wind storm to press enough to cause a severe enough break that things came tumbling down…  Even the “cerclage”- the robe the lumberjacks tied around the top- gives me a bitter laugh.
When it happened, it came on the cusp of a conversation that Peter and I have been struggling to have: the discussion of a tubal ligation.  To do it or not to do it.  The Catholic Church is staunchly against it, although it is possible to request a dispensation for medical purposes and, if we decide to pursue that route, we would attempt the dispensation first.  To not do it… To risk getting pregnant again since I have cycling (albeit not routinely enough to do NFP) …  To try to TVC and to end up on bedrest (most likely), in the hospital (more likely), and the NICU (probable)…  Or to try to sell Dr. B. and our insurance on performing a transabdominal cerclage even though we have no plans to actively attempt another pregnancy  (I’d love to hear those discussions).  At the end of the day, I know in my heart that making the decision to have a tubal ligation- with or without the Church’s blessing- would be the most gut-wrenching decision I’d have to make.  It will be something that I mourn and regret forever, even though not doing so would also be something I may regret as well, especially if I put another child’s life in danger.
Is it strange that I swore I heard the Great Spirit in the discussions over the tree?  That, when it split and I saw- so clearly- myself in that tree, I was deeply troubled by being told to cut it down because I felt like the decision was suddenly clear: tubal.  Call Dr. B.  And then, the one person who said “I can save the tree…”  Like the voice of the Divine saying “WAIT!  There’s another chance!”  And the let-down… “I’m sorry… The tree is too far split to be saved…”
So what to make then of the phone call I received last night, from the original lumberjack, who still stands by his decision that the tree can be saved… Who said that he’d come out personally and see to the bolting of the tree back together… Who assures me that the tree will grow back its canopy and be stronger than it was before… Who is unconcerned with the hollow decay of the remaining trunk and believes the bolts will hold until the tree is strong enough once again to hold itself…  If he’s wrong, he’s agreed to remove the tree and to honor the (much lower) quote we’d received from a competitor.
Before the phone call, it was an easy choice: the tree has to come down.  We tried.  Apologize to the tree… Weep for the loss… But, ultimately, say goodbye and let it go.  And now…  The choice is again clear: save the tree.  If there’s a way, save the tree.

But my reproductive system… There’s another story hidden there beneath that “beautiful cervix that can’t”.  Would it be easier if we weren’t the PreCana instructors who specifically teach on the “Catholic Family” and reproduction?  If we didn’t sit on the Respect Life Committee?  Honestly, it might appear a little less comical, but I don’t think the decision itself would be any easier.  Would it be easier if we didn’t know all the risks associated, maternally, with continued preterm deliveries and miscarriages?  If we didn’t know the effects of prolonged bedrest?  If we knew, for sure, that Bobby and Maya are as healthy as they appear and that our time would be safely split with additional children?  If we knew, for sure, that my pregnancy would be textbook and fine?  Even then, I don’t know that things would be easier.  I’d like to think they would be, but I don’t know that for sure.
I feel trapped.  Trapped between my desire for a huge family and my guilt for wanting that knowing the repercussions.  Knowing that we are able to comfortably provide for the children we have and that adding more to that might very well stretch us outside of the way we are trying to raise them.  Trapped by my own sense of morals and responsibilities to Bobby and Maya, to Peter, to the memories of Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander, and our miscarried babies….  Feeling like I just don’t know the right decision or even if there is a right decision.
It turns out that my majestic maple will be coming down…  We had another look at it today and the damage is not repairable.  Though some may find this odd, it truly does break my heart to have to say good-bye to this beautiful work of art… This living, breathing creature that I am making the decision to end its life.  The rot is to the core of the tree and on the way to the base. The split is horrifically deep.  The canopy is deepening the tear as its weight brings the tree closer and closer to earth.  It’s over…  And that imparts such a sadness.
And what does that then make of me?  Am I, like that maple, hanging on by a thread that cannot be repaired?  That should be removed?  If only these questions were so easily answered.  If only those answers would mend my sorrow.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Being Away

It's strange to feel so comfortable in a space and yet feel like such a foreigner there.  It's how I feel right now... Writing here... In this space that used to be mine so often and that now is like a book on a shelf that I stumble by to finger the spine but pass all the same.  Today, I blow the dust off the cover and crack it open, but will I ever fully read the pages again?  Will I ever open it completely?  Even I dont have the answer...

I'll start with something small...  Our anniversary trip from June...  It was lovely.  We had such a nice time.  It was only a day away but it felt like so much more.  I started the afternoon with a massage that Peter gifted to me from a local spa (for Valentine's Day... lazy, I know.)  He picked me up and we grabbed a Rita's water ice and he gave me my joint birthday/anniversary gift: a beautiful, alexandrite tennis bracelet.  It's gorgeous.  My breath catches whenever I wear it.  It's perfect.  Alexandrite is my birthstone (in spite of most people defaulting to the pearl because of the ease to acquire).  Non-synthetic alexandrite is hard to find... ever changing...  The stone reflects light and is never the same color.  Perhaps like me in a lot of ways.  But I digress: bracelet.  Gorgeous.  Love it.  Perfect gift.  Then, we headed up to our getaway.

We checked into our B&B then hit the local movie theater, which reminded me of something out of 1985.  Old fashioned seats and screens (and concessions).  They even had a photo booth in the lobby.  After kicking Peter's butt in air hockey (did I mention the games???), we stepped inside the booth and took pics.  The last one is my favorite.

We saw Hangover 2.  Raunchy, but funny.

Then, back to the B&B for a quick wardrobe change and on to the winery for dinner.  It was delicious.  And Fate had something else in store for us.  The couple who sat at our table?  Twin parents on their first date post-babies.  Boy/Girl twins...  They were infertiles....  Knew our RE...  We had a lot in common.  It was crazy.

Dinner (and the wine) were wonderful.  We had a great time.  The next morning, we headed to our favorite little spot, did some town walking, enjoyed lunch, and then made our way home to our very happy kids who had water colored pictures for us and anxiously awaited our return (even though they had a great time without us).  It was nice to be away but even nicer to come home. :)


It's hard to believe they are turning 2...  This is the last month they will be 1 and something.  The last month we'll count "months" and not years.  I got their birthday invitations in the mail.  I still cant believe it.

As I plan their birthday party, I am constantly amazed at the miracles in my midst.  Constantly amazed.  They are growing up more and more. 

When we go outside to play, Bobby brings me presents.  He has this intent look on his face, then his eyes light up and he'll pick something up, be it a rock, leaf, branch, or whatever, then run it over to me.  I thank him, give him a big hug and kiss, and he's off!  It's the most adorable thing ever.  I love those leaves...  rocks... These gifts that he finds and brings to me.  It's like hearing "I love you, Mama" over and over again when I look at them.

Maya... Ah, Maya.  Recently the little one (who is more like me and is my "just desserts" even though I hate to admit it)....  Recently, she took off her diaper and hid it.  Now, this wouldnt be so terrible, except... The dipe is dirty.  I cant find it.  I've looked, Peter's looked.  It is to the wind. We have torn the house apart.  My prayer is that she somehow got it in a garbage can and we missed it.  I can only imagine what we will find if we ever find the thing.  I guess, on a good note, the dipe is biodegradable... Ugh.  I dont even want to continue this line of thought.

We had a tornado last Friday.  It was brief and, thank God, we didnt suffer any substantial damage.  We are, however, losing one of our giant Maples from the front yard.  Best guess is that lightening hit it, spliting it down the middle, and then the heavy winds did the rest.  One company thought they could save it and bolt it back together.  We were willing to do whatever to save the tree, but when the guys came today, they told us that, sadly, they didnt think there was enough left to save.  It breaks my heart that this tree has to come down.  It's one of the gorgeous front yard trees that brought such an aire of peace to this property.  Not to mention, I'm sad for the tree-spirit.  We did all we could to save it and now we have to say good-bye.  I'm troubled about this, but there is no other way.  Another good storm and if our house managed to stay out of harms way, there's no guarantee a car (or person) on the street would be so lucky.

Well, that's all for today, I suppose.  Hopefully this space will start feeling more like home once again and I'll be more of a resident and less of a guest.  But, for now, this is me... :)  Hugs to you all and my apologizes that I'm still to the wind.