Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy St. Nicholas's Day

Last night, the kids made the production of getting a shoe out and, when I got up this morning, a big kid had slipped his in for jolly old St. Nick, too! We've celebrated this tradition since Bobby and Maya's first Dec 6th, and it kicks off our Advent and Christmas season. The kids get candy (&, in Michael s case, a Baby MumMum); on Solstice, we will make food ornaments for animals and hang them outside and the kids will get a gift of winter (usually hats, gloves, etc, but this year, I'm thinking sweaters). On Christmas Eve, they get a gift at my in-laws and on Christmas , a gift at home (this year, they will be giving something to each other as well). We will end the whirlwind of a month with Three Kings Day, and our annual party. (The Kings usually give the kids books....just be a librarian among them!)

From our home to yours, a happy feast of St Nicholas and may our sweet saint and oldest son watch over you and, especially, your little ones.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy 5th Birthday, Alexander

My sweet little cuddlebug... My womb soccer player... My breech baby... My special, sacred little boy.  My Alexander. Today marks 5 years since you were born.  Since a monk blessed your entrance into this world and a nurse baptized you with trembling hands. Since I felt your little kicks and kissed your delicate forehead. Since you rested in your father's arms.  It's been 5 years since the warmth of your life faded like a midsummer night fades into an early dawn.  5 years since the cold pallor of death settled like a winter's snow.

5 years since we said "hello", only to follow it with "good-bye", with "wait for me", with "I will see you again". With "don't go" while, all the while, knowing that you couldn't stay.

It is strange to write this while nursing another little boy who followed twins.  As I snuggle your baby brother, I cannot help but look at him- with his calm demeanor, sense of peace, and, yes, strong kicks!- and wonder how much of you he carries within him... Did you tell him some of your secrets while he waited for birth?  Locked within his eyes, does he carry a memory of you that, one day, he'll share?

After your Mass this morning, we're going out to breakfast (where I'll be sure to have some orange juice!) and I plan to run your 'birthday', taking in the brisk, fall air.  Like this year, you were born just prior to Thanksgiving.  It was a Sunday, and, while today is Saturday, it still feels like I'm walking in those shoes again.  Once more, I'm not cooking and, while this year, I'll be surrounded by Bobby, Maya, and Michael, you'll still be the baby on my mind.  It's hard for me to not associate Thanksgiving with your birthday. In a few years, the holiday will fall on your birthday. I cant imagine how that will feel.

Bobby and Maya want to bake cupcakes for your birthday.  They'll help me. :) I know you'd like that.  Bobby was practicing his rendition of "Happy Birthday" yesterday, so I'm sure he'll sing loud enough for you to hear.

Did you know that the Feast of St. Alexander Newsky is your birthday? He died in the 13th century and is celebrated today... He was a prince and soldier, who later became a monk.  One of his son's shares Michael's middle name, Dimitri. Strange coincidences, I suppose.  Perhaps you can celebrate your feast day together, my sweet little saint.

Here Comes the Sun always reminds me of you.  It's one of Bobby and Maya's favorite songs; they ask for it all the time.  When you died, I thought I'd be left in an eternal darkness.  I couldn't fathom ever seeing the sun again... And yet, as it cast shadows through the windows, even though I'd tried to keep the light out, I knew that, somehow, you were there... like diamonds dancing on glass... ever present, even if I couldn't see you with my eyes.  When that song played, just after we'd come home from the hospital, I could hear your voice- a voice I was never able to hear in this world- as George Harrison sang each line.  It was that song that got me out of bed each day, that gave me the strength to face another breath...  Even now, I can't help but smile and think of you, sweet boy, whenever it plays.

So, here's to you, my little Alexander.  My peaceful ray of sunshine and hope.  Happy Birthday.  Mommy loves you so very much.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Not Abandoned

It's not that I've abandoned this blog, I'm just a really awful blogger.  With a wake up call between 3 and 3:30 and a curtain call, if I'm lucky, by 9pm (not to mention some nursing wake ups in between because of teething), I just don't have the time to devote here like I used to.  After work, it's nonstop Michael time mixed with housework, which is then multiplied times three once I get the twins home from school.  After dinner, I'm cleaning and getting Michael fed and in bed before throwing myself down on a pillow and, frankly, if I have a spare half hour, I'd rather be running (which is also falling by the wayside right now).  I'll get back on track; I'm just busy trying to survive right now.

There's a lot going on.  The kids are all healthy, thank God.  Michael is now 20 weeks old (where is the time going!).  He's rolling and can roll back to front; he's almost got it front to back.  He knows 3 signs (mom, dad, milk) and Peter & I both are sure we heard the first mumblings of "mamamamam" which, since the kids said "dada" first, I'm going to take! :)  This weekend, I'll be pulling his 9 month clothes down and boxing up the 6 month stuff because we aren't expecting flooding anytime soon (this kid is, for sure, his father's son... TALL!)  Maya suddenly blossomed into a teenager or, at least, her attitude did.  God, give me strength.  I love this girl but boy is she a version of me! Help us!  Bobby has been struggling in school because his aide wasn't in; we're trying to get that squared away and prayers for the entire situation would be so greatly appreciated.

Okay, Michael's up from his nap! Back to work!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

17 Weeks

Can you believe my cheeky little guy is seventeen weeks old!!

He's such a sweet baby.  I just want to eat him up!

Michael wants to grow up too quickly!  He loves to try to "walk"; he sits with us at the table for meals in a little chair that Bobby seemed to grow out of yesterday.  Time flies...  He's still in his 6 month clothes but I have a feeling I'll need to pull out the 6-9s shortly!  He'll be 4 calendar months on Saturday, and he has his 4 month well baby next week.  Can't wait to see how much he's grown!

(On another note, Bobby and Maya had their 4yo check up last week...  B is 41 pounds and 42", M is 30 pounds and 33"!)

Work is going really well. :)  When I asked the GM what I could do to help him, he said "Work more hours"!  I'll take that as a compliment! :)  While the hours seem tough, it's not getting up at 3am that is hard... It's more around 3pm... when I'm tired and ready for bed!  By the time dinner is on the table, around 6:30, I'm trying not to fall asleep at the table!  Getting Michael to bed and turning in myself are usually my only goals by the time the sun goes down!

I think the kids are used to me being gone in the mornings.  Peter really has the morning routine down, and things are going well on that end.  Michael is a chronic nurser once we are back together.  (He's nursing now!)  Of everyone, I think he's having the hardest time (I'm going to say I'm a close 2nd, since I miss him and the kids - and Peter too- in the mornings).

And, speaking of being gone... the NYC Marathon is in 5 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I did a 20 mile training run last Saturday.  Last year, I did 20 in about 4 hours.  This year? It was 4.5 hours.  Not bad for only a month of training but still...  I'm looking at least 6 hours of running this weekend... God help me!

Monday, October 21, 2013

On My Own

This morning was my last training morning; as of tomorrow, I'll be opening and running the gym for the first 4 hours of the day on my own.  A lot of it is just basic stuff: making sure it's clean, answering phones and questions, etc.  There's also making smoothies (which, I have to admit, I think is kind of cool!) and inventory.  Perhaps it's the librarian in me, but I actually really enjoy the inventory aspect.

Getting up in the morning isn't as hard as you might expect.  Michael gets up between 3am and 3:30am; once I feed him, I hit the shower, grab coffee, pump, and leave.  I'm less than 3 miles from the gym, which is super convenient.  Once I open, I keep pretty busy until it's 9am and I meet Peter with Michael in tow in the parking lot.  He drops the kids at school and then comes down.  We do the baby handoff and I get home to revert back to homemaker extraordinaire. :)

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tired.  I'm exhausted.  You can't start around 3am and go until 9-10pm at night and not be.  But I keep reminding myself that it's worth it. I kept this curtain call during my training for the Marine Corps Marathon because I enjoy running.  I love my family more.  I can do this, tired or not.

Thankfully, the kids seem to be doing okay with it.  Maya tells me she misses me, but so far school hasn't had any issues with them acting out because I'm missing the morning routine.  Truth be told, I think they like having Daddy to themselves. :)

Speaking of the marathon, NYC is in less than 2 weeks!  I'm both excited and terrified.  I'm not nearly as trained as I want to be (or, honestly, need to be).  I know I can do it... But I don't know that I'll be walking afterwards!  I haven't been able to do more than a 15 miler.  I was due for my 20 miler this last weekend, but I ended up not feeling well on Friday (sore throat, sinus headache) and that lasted until last night.  It wasn't too bad on Saturday but I was so busy with things that I planned to do the run Sunday... and then, I ended up on the couch the whole day.  Thankfully, the kids got to spend time with their grandparents (who also fed the kids and Peter) so they had fun even if I was in and out of it on the sofa!  But, needless to say, I'm worried.  I may attempt a 20 this weekend, or I might do another 15.  Regardless, November 3rd has me doing 26.2.  Pray for me!

Sarah and I are leaving for NYC on Saturday and are making a girls weekend of it.  (True friendship is going with you to a Marathon that you aren't even running.  She's awesome.  She's going to cheer me on! Love that girl!!)  I'm sad to be without the kids for the weekend but I know they will have fun with Peter.  And I'm really proud of myself: I've pumped enough milk for Michael for the weekend!  I don't have a lot of time to pump so this has been quite the effort, especially since my morning pumping goes to feed him while I'm at work when he wakes up around 7:30 or so.

Well, I'm pretty trashed... I think I'll go make friends with the sofa until the kids wake up from their nap...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


This was my Facebook post this morning: "Props to all the work-outside-the-home parents, including Peter. The guilt I have right now is overwhelming, especially as I left Michael crying."

In addition to warm fuzzies by friends, one of my cousins posted that a mother's life includes sacrifice.  She isn't kidding.  I feel like my heart is being squeezed in a vice grip.  Even though I'm home now, I still feel it.

So, today was day 1.  I'm convinced that Michael is boycotting my new job; for weeks, he's been sleeping from 7:30pm-3:30am.  Since Tuesday?  He's woken at midnight and then 1:20am (today).  Which means, he'll be ready to eat again around 4-4:30am- when I'm leaving.  :(  This morning, as I'm getting ready to leave, I hear him stir and then the tell-tale cry of a hungry baby.  I thought I'd make it out without falling about; that didn't make it easier.  Bobby and Maya were still sleeping and, honestly, it's easier with them because their weekday mornings start between 7 and 7:30 and they are out of the house by 8-8:30 for school, so I'm missing- at most- 90 minutes.  That is still rough, but an hour an half leaves me 3 work hours where I don't have to really regret being away from them each day because, home or the gym, they wouldn't be interacting with me (or even home).  Michael is a different story.  He still does need me; I'm his primary food source and primary caregiver.  I know what his moments are like and I knew that I was missing.  It hurt. A lot.  I turned the music in the car on as loud as I could take it on the way in and just tried to not think about it.

As far as the work morning went, it was fine.  The gym traffic is fairly light that early, so a lot of my responsibilities were inventory and straightening.  It definitely kept me busy, which made the time go by and, before I knew it, I was in the parking lot, where Peter was waiting with the baby.  A baby that cried the entire way home because he just wanted to nurse... which he did... for almost 2 hours.

Enter more guilt.

I've always held a great deal of respect for the parents who leave their mini-me's.  From a racing standpoint, it's been tough on me emotionally, but those were always isolated cases with end dates.  One of my thoughts today was Wow... Peter has done this for four years.  While he always jokes about changing places with me, he dutifully goes to work each morning, swallowing down the lump of what he's missing.  Like most of the working-outside-of-the-home moms and dads do every day (most for more than 4 hours at a time).

For me, one of the hardest comments to respond to are the ones congratulating me on getting out of the house or doing something for myself.  To me, those are comments that mesh more with running or coaching or my monthly Moms Night Out... I know plenty of parents who love to go to work and, frankly, homemaking isn't for everyone.  It is a job, but like many jobs, it's a vocation as well.  I know plenty of stay at home's who count down until they can re-enter the work force.  To each their own and you'll not find judgment from me.  But I believe in the stay-at-home-mom (or dad) model.   It requires sacrifice but, regardless of how children and the home are cared for, you're paying for it: childcare, nannies, school, housekeepers, or a lack of being able to do things because you have to do something else.  Most of the dual income homes I know stress out because their home is never as clean as they want it to be or because they eat out a lot or can't prepare meals the way they want.  The list goes on and on.  I have a similar list- don't get me wrong: especially since Michael, my house is pretty much wrecked on a regular basis because the majority of my time is spent nursing or caring for him.  But our meals are recipes that, often times, I come up with and cook.  I'm able to add homeschooling to what the twins do in class.  The laundry doesn't usually interfere with our weekends and tasks like bill paying and groceries get done, usually, while it's just Michael and I, which leaves me the time I need to coach cross country (and to run for myself).  Financially, there is a hit when you only one income, but we're happy.  We bought a less expensive house than many folks we know because we wanted something we could afford.  Our cars are 10 years and 12 years old (but paid off!).  One income was tough but doable.

Enter special needs.  Enter a new baby.  Enter "health care reform".  I wont get on my soap box about the state of our government, but I'll say this.  A fair majority of the reason I went back to work can be summed up by what happened when I called our insurance.  I was told: "I'm sorry; due to the new healthcare laws, you're going to be responsible for more than what your plan pays."  Really?  I had 27 week twins that spent 9 weeks in the NICU on top of my 7 weeks as in inpatient PLUS my other pregnancies and deliveries PLUS the fees associated with fertility treatments and this pregnancy- my perfect, spontaneous, in-and-out delivery (even with our one overnight due to his jaundice after) is more than all of those... combined????  Oh, and we have to cover, out of pocket, the speech services for Bobby, even though they are as a result of an Autism diagnosis? Wow... How much fun all of this would be if we didn't have good insurance! 

But enough about that.  I'm pissed off about it, but I'm more grateful.  I'm so very grateful that, within a week of making the decision to find part time work, I had an interview.  I'm so very grateful that, after interviewing on a Thursday, I had a job offer the following Monday, and started work today.  I'm so very grateful for having the chance to work at what most folks consider crazy hours in the early morning which affords me back to full time mommying and housewifing by 9am.  It's tough because I cant imagine a scenario where I can get to bed by 7pm in order to get enough sleep before my 3am wake up, but there are so many other scenarios that wouldn't be nearly as advantageous.  And I'm grateful to be in an environment that suits me.  I knew I couldn't return to library land if I wanted to keep my weekends free for my family, my days free to volunteer in the school, and my evenings free to coach and train.  It just wouldn't work.  Being in a gym keeps me connected to a fit, healthy lifestyle, offers the possibility for fitness class instruction, and gives me the flexibility with my personal time that I need.  Win-win.

It's not getting up and out that is tough; but leaving the kids is rough.  I don't know that it will get easier- people tell me it will, but I have a feeling it's like loss.  It becomes part of your day, but it doesn't get easier.  I'll always wonder what I'm missing and what they are doing without me.  But they know I love them and, in a way, running has given them the knowledge that what I'm doing is for them (a healthy, running mama in this household makes for a much happier, laid back mommy and that makes EVERYONE happy!).  They'll realize as they get older that leaving them for these few hours that they aren't really all that aware of is helping our household and is for them... It's just another way of me loving them.

I guess that is the lesson that the parents who leave every day take with them and hold close to them when they look at the clock and wonder.  Love comes in all ways.  It's what I'll be remembering tomorrow morning before the sun comes up...

...Even if I am wiping away a tear, too.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Getting Back On the Horse

I rode horses as a kid. Not all the time, mind you, but whenever I could, I was in the saddle.  We grew up fairly poor but my parents would scrimp and save for special occasions, like birthdays and Christmas.  Whenever I was able to ride, it was a piece of heaven.  I haven't had the opportunity to ride much as an adult, but I've had the joy of watching the twins embrace my love.

Bobby: November 2011

Maya: April 2013

I rarely look into riding for myself these days... Instead, I look into riding for the kids.  It seems nuts... the things that you love to do going to a back burner because you want what your kids love.  What do we do on our birthdays? Mine was spent at the zoo (I really don't like zoos... but the kids do!) and Peter's included a trip to the kids museum we are members of.  Our cakes were kid approved.  It's that sort  of thing.  And, what's more interesting, is that we like it that way. 

There's a new horse in the barn. 

I've applied for employment... outside of the home.  It's part time, a few hours in the early morning, opening up a local gym.  There's an opportunity to pick up some class teaching too, as the gym expands their offerings.  So, I'm excited... and nervous. 

I prayed for a position that would allow us to pay off the expenses associated with Michael's pregnancy and delivery as well as start saving for the possibility of needing to pay for an aide for Bobby in Kindergarten.  I'm not normally one to pray with stipulations, but my largest concern was for the kiddos.  I wanted to be able to still be a stay-at-home mom and not disrupt the kids' lives.  While this will be a change for them (Peter will have to balance feeding Michael around 7am while getting himself ready for work, the twins ready for school, and then dropping the twins off), I will still be able to be the homeroom mom at school, be with them on their vacations, and take care of Michael, as well as keep coaching cross country.  When this position opened up, I applied, interviewed last week, and was hopeful.  And today? I got the call! 

I'm nervous... It's been years since I was in the workforce.  But I'm excited for the new opportunity!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm Already There

I was sixth in the pick up line on Monday.  Michael was napping and we left a little later than usual.  My car was sitting where the building curves and, as I nursed Michael, I had a view of a beautiful view of this tree, swaying in the breeze as sunlight dipped and lit up the leaves from above.  For a moment, all I wanted in the world was to be waiting in the pick up line and trying to figure out how to quickly get all of the kids in the car.  My breath caught.  My eyes watered.  My hands were shaking. What I wouldn't give, just for a moment, to have you here. Unbidden, tears began to slide down my cheeks and I pinched my eyes closed to try and stop them. 

I'm already there. Take a look around: I'm the sunshine in your hair; I'm the shadow on the ground; I'm the whisper in the wind; I'm your imaginary friend and I know I'm in your prayers. I'm already there...

Opening my eyes, I looked at the tree.  The wind had stopped and, there, in the shadows cascading on the ground, where sunlight and the ether met, I saw them.  Outlines.  Images.  Reflections.  Tall, taller, tallest.  Boy, girl, boy. Kindergarten sweats, first grade jumper, first grade uniform. The wind blew.  The dust dispersed.  The shadows became an image that was gone.

I'm already there: don't make a sound. I'm the beat in your heart; I'm the moonlight shining down. I'm the whisper in the wind and I'll be there until the end. Can you feel the love that we share? I'm already there.

I gasped in air, a sob escaping in the mix. The gentle tug reminded me that I was still a mother feeding a child and, trying to collect myself so that I wouldn't bathe my infant in my tears, I looked down at Michael, content and nursing.  Smiling a huge smile.  And, in his eyes, seeing it.  Really, truly seeing it- seeing them.

We may be a thousand miles apart but I'll be with you wherever you are: I'm already there. Take a look around: I'm the sunshine in your hair; I'm the shadow on the ground. I'm the whisper in the wind and I'll be there until the end. Can you feel the love that we share? I'm already there.


Peter is the king of night time.  He handles bath time and bed time; sometimes I'm taking care of household tasks that need to be finished or, if Michael isn't already in bed, I'm getting him squared away.  As Peter was making the call for bath, Bobby went in to do his "business" and Maya ended up being ready for his bath with nowhere to go (since Bobby was using the bathroom where they take their baths).  Michael was already in bed and I invited Maya to snuggle while she waited.  So, there we were, two chicks, snuggling under fresh, flannel sheets, and chatting about our day.

"Gaea is my sister."

This is something she tells us all the time.  Sometimes, it's "Gaea Sophia", rarely just "Sophia", and usually "Gaea" by itself.  Perhaps because it rhymes with "Maya", but I don't know.

"Yes, she is," I reply.  I'm happy that she know this... That, as much as she begs me for a baby sister, she realizes she has a sister... Just one that isn't growing up with her.

She goes on last night to tell me that she plays with Gaea and with her brothers, Peter and Nathaniel.  Because I'm curious, I ask her why she calls them by their first names when we've always called them by their middle names.  "I say Peter and Gaea and Nathaniel.  You call them Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander. It's their names."  No real answer, but I'm reminded that Jimmy always called me "Chele" as a kid... it's why my parents started.  Sea shell...  See Chele sell sea shells by the sea shore.

"They live with Jesus."  She is smiling, happy.  Just telling me about how they play and talk.  They like trains... they read stories... they crunch in leaves.  "We live in Earth."  Bobby talks to them and to the Angels.  They play when they sleep... They play when they wake up.

I try to keep a smile on my face, try to keep the tears at bay.  Maya is sensitive- she will cry if I cry.  But worse, in that moment, she will stop talking.

She is looking at the portrait my dad painted.  "PawPaw painted that picture."  We identify the people in the photo.  I can't help but ask... Did PawPaw get it right?  Is that what they look like?  Really?

She says yes.  Even as she tells me that "Gaea has white hair" when in the photo, her hair is near black.

We lay there for a while, her telling me about Peter and Gaea and Nathaniel, me sucking in the information like it is oxygen when, in reality, I feel like I'm trapped under the Atlantic, my lungs engulfed by the water, my eyes burning from the salt.  I'm dying while I'm alive.  My heart is breaking while it beats.  Eventually, Bobby finishes his business and gives me a giant, bear hug before he and Maya disappear into the bathroom for bath.

And I sob.  And sob.  And sob.  Into my hand, into my pillow.  Anything to muffle the sound so that they wont hear, so that the baby wont wake up.  So that these three children I have at home, who give my days sunlight and my moments meaning, wont see how much the loss of the three children I have in heaven, who light up my darkest nights with their bright, shining startlight and have made my life what it is, has destroyed me, has revived me, has made me.

In that moment, all I wanted was a bed full of kids ready for bath, ready for bed.  Kids who, like Bobby and Maya, converged after they were pajama'd to sing songs with me and have me recite by memory the words to On the Night You Were Born... the book I'd first read to my belly, when my pregnancy with Nicholas and Sophia was confirmed, nearly six years ago.

I'm already there: don't make a sound. I'm the beat in your heart; I'm the moonlight shining down. I'm the whisper in the wind and I'll be there until the end. Can you feel the love that we share? I'm already there.

Sleep came.  And, as much as I wanted them, my dreams were silent. No images. No thoughts. No wanting someone here.

Perhaps because they were already there.

The words to "I'm Already There" can be found here; a music video can be found here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

14w (a day late!)

Here he is!  Mr. Michael was 14 weeks old yesterday (and still just as cute as ever).

14 weeks
According to our home scale, Michael is 13 pounds (gulp!).  He's just so long, though, that he doesn't look hefty at all.  He was mistaken for a baby much younger at the farmer's market (probably due to that!).  He loves to smile and is learning how to play with some of his toys.  He still hates the car (but he likes to watch himself in the car mirror we got him.)

I still can't believe I'm going to leave him and do the NYC Marathon.  I'm pumping (or trying to) daily to store up some milk for him, since I don't want him to be hungry while I'm gone.  I feel guilty.  :(  He'll barely be 4 months old and I'll be gone for anywhere from 12 hours (if I don't spend the night, that is the minimum) to 36 hours.  Being away from him that long, I think, is going to be emotionally painful to say the least.  It's not easy with the twins, but they are old enough now that they do things for themselves and like some independence.  Michael is still so dependent...  It breaks me to think that I'll be away from him and he will miss me and not be able to express himself.  I almost want to just do it in a day without an overnight for that reason!  We shall see...  The big kicker is that, in staying over, I can pump milk beforehand.  Not being able to do that scares me that I'll screw up our breastfeeding journey.  And that I don't want to do!

Speaking of breastfeeding, we've been discussing adding solids at the 4 month mark, which is what we did with the twins.  We've decided to wait until the 6 month mark.  There is research all over the place and people have all sorts of opinions, but it looks like (God willing!) we'll keep with EBF for 10 more weeks or so!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

3 months!

As promised, here's "Doc" at 3 months and, according to our scale, a whopping 12 pounds!!

A Marathon Session

Looks like I have a lot to catch up on in this blogging session.  Michael is napping, I'm pumping, and the twins are visiting my in-laws, so hopefully I'll have a nice, fifteen minute pop to give you a marathon session of blogging!

First off, Michael was christened on Sunday!!  I don't have any photos yet, but it was a beautiful day and we were all just so thrilled.  I'll give a play by play once I have some photos, but suffice it to say, it was just awesome.

My mom arrived the Thursday before and her first question once we were home was "Do you have a ladder?"  She hadn't been here an hour and she was cleaning out gutters.  Her second key question: "Is there a Lowes near here?"  Two trips to Lowes and her gardening hands later, and my yard was transformed.  Every time I look at the hanging flower baskets, the newly mulched beds, or the bright yellow mums, I miss her.  She left yesterday and it's been empty here without here.  Last night, Bobby was finishing dinner and looked up, asking "Mimi?"  And Maya kept telling me yesterday before she left for school that "Mimi will be here" when they got home.  I wish, kiddos... How I wish.  But her visit was wonderful and I am SO glad she could make it.
Mimi and Michael, 9/25/13

Yesterday, Michael was 13 weeks old and today, he's officially 3 calendar months old!  He's full of smiles and is starting to grasp at toys (much to Maya's happiness!).  He will bear weight on his legs and has even "stood" while holding my finger.  It's crazy to think that time is going by this quickly.  In the next few months, we'll be experimenting with solid foods...  He's still an awesome nurser and I hope that remains his primary source of nutrition but I have a feeling that, like Bobby, he's also going to LOVE eating food.
Michael's first swing: 9/25/13
Since he's still sleeping, I'll get a "3 month old" picture when he wakes up.  We started our day with a 5 mile run that ended up being 4.5 miles instead.  Not even a mile in, and I was sitting on the side of the trail, nursing...  That lasted him until the last half mile when he cried the entire time and I cut it short.  I held him as we walked back to the car and he was all giggles.  Adorable... until he realized we weren't eating until we got home!  Oh was he unhappy!!  Once home, he nursed a solid hour.

I had to go through his closet last week and toss the last of the 3-6 months.  He's totally in 6 month clothes now.  While he doesn't fill them out weight wise, he is just too long.  3 month onesies don't snap!  He also has been sleeping so well at night.  Last night, he went down a little after 7 and didn't get up until 4. 

This is awesome for many reasons, but it will be great for marathon training.

Wait? What?  You heard me: marathon training.  Because, clearly, I don't have enough to do.

A year ago, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for Alex's Lemonade Stand.  Well, they had a last minute cancelation and, long story short, I was offered the spot... for the (wait for it...) NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The extra fun part? It's a month away.  Yeah... As in, November 3rd.

It's not unheard of for someone to train for a 26 miler in a month (although it's not advised... and, seriously? I'm not advising it.)  It's insane, but not impossible.  I've been running since Michael's birth and, while I'm not excited about doing the long runs I've mapped out for this month, I know that I can do them.  It's all about finding the time and wrapping my brain around doing them.  Running distance is 90% mental... I keep reminding myself of that.

For those that are interested, here's my mileage for the month:
It's my hope to do the majority of the mileage outside; doing more than 3-5 miles on the treadmill will suck.  Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have XC practice, so that will up my mileage in spurts when I'm running with the kids.  Wednesdays (in October) I'm teaching prenatal yoga, so that will be a nice cross training; I also plan to do some XT on Sundays, since that's my "Off" day (2 miles at a recovery pace is really nothing, so I'm counting it as "off".  I just know that, if I don't do something, I'll be stiff and uncomfortable.)

Running with a stroller?  Yeah... when that tops a 5K, it (for me at least) really sucks.  In order to avoid doing long runs with Michael, I'm going to have to sacrifice some sleep.  Hopefully, if he keeps up with the 4am wake time, I can feed him and go out right after, getting home just as Bobby and Maya are waking up (and Michael is ready to eat again) on my longest runs.  On Saturdays, I'll play it by ear, since Peter is home. 

What sane woman runs a marathon with a 4 month old at home? You got me... Clearly, not sane over here.

Well, Michael is waking up... More to come!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Life...12 Weeks Later

As I sit here, watching Michael smile and try to talk to me, it blows me away to think that, in 12 short weeks, we've gone from this:
Delivery Day @ 36w5d: 7/2/13

to this:
12 weeks old: 9/24/13
Michael remains such a sweet baby. He is strong and tries to stand; he also makes noises, as though he is trying to chit chat.  And the smiles... oh the smiles!  He's a great eater and sleeper, and he has the growing thing down pat (his outfit in the pick? A 6mo one.  I'm not sure Doc will fit into his 'Baby's First ..." outfits!)

My mom arrives in 2 days (EEK!!!!) and Michael's Christening is Sunday! I am so excited. As the days pass and we get closer to St. Michael's Day, I grow more and more anxious.  The Christening gown is in the closet, tables and chairs (and a moon bounce for the monkeys!) are rented and scheduled for delivery, the food has been ordered, and the prayer card favors are on their way.

I love that St. Michael is on the cover and that the Prayer of St. Dimitri (or Rostov) is on the back.  I had searched for an icon of the Archangel that we liked and the company was able to use it; then Peter found the prayer of St. Dimitri and how perfect for a baptism!
Open, O doors and bolts of my heart, that Christ the King of Glory may enter!
Enter, O my Light, and enlighten my darkness;
Enter, O my Life, and resurrect my deadness;
Enter, O my Physician, and heal my wounds;
Enter, O Divine Fire, and burn up the thorns of my sins;
Ignite my inward parts and my heart with the flame of Thy love;
Enter, O my King, and destroy in me the kingdom of sin;
Sit on the throne of my heart and alone reign in me, O Thou, my King and Lord!

It's almost here!

For my part, 12 weeks has seen me lose 30 of the 55 pounds I gained with Mr. Michael.  I'm finally back at the place I was around January 2011 in the weight department, having finally busted through the plateau I've been stuck on for a few weeks.  I feel like I'm finally getting my mojo back; I'm running a few times a week, eating in a way that is back to normal, and starting to really feel like myself again.  It was tough; those middle weeks were unexpected. 

Peter and I are having a date night tomorrow; it will be our first time out sans all the kids.  The twins are hanging out with my in-laws and Michael is chilling with his godmother.  As I spoke with Barbara this morning about it, it struck me just how different of a parent I am this time around.

It was so hard for me to step away from Bobby and Maya.  They were well over a year before I willingly left them alone and, even then, it was one of those terrifying, waiting-for-the-phone-to-ring situations.  I cried when I dropped them for several hours at my in-laws.  The idea that they were without me...Oh, it was hard to handle.  If they cried, I was on them like white on rice.  They slept next to us and then, around this age, when we moved them into their nursery (cosleeping together), I couldn't sleep.  It took quite a while to be comfortable with that transition.

Michael started sleeping in his crib; he sleeps long stretches and I'm only up once to feed him.  We put him down while we are all awake, so it is easier to put him in his room... and he stays there.  I keep the monitor, of course, so that I can wake quickly when he does to eat, but (other than the first night when I stayed on the couch and did struggle with sleep), he's in his room.  And tomorrow? I'm looking forward to dinner with Peter... alone... without my boob out of my shirt for a bit! :)

This is also the point with Bobby and Maya where breastfeeding came to an end.  It was hard and heartbreaking.  I pumped- for both of them, for the day- the same amount I pump when Michael naps to supplement him when I'm coaching or out for a run.  That's kind of crazy.  Back then,  I was doing everything I could think of to up my supply.  Now?  Nothing.  Just feeding my little guy and pumping once a day (if that).  There are days where I don't pump at all; it's at the point where the pump is usually in a drawer and I pull it out when I need it.

His pregnancy was so different from anything I ever expected after losing Nicholas and Sophia (and later, Alexander).  It was the polar opposite of Bobby and Maya's.   His life, too, has been his own.  You expect that you'll be different when parenting a younger child, but I don't think I ever realized just how different it would be. 

There are times where I feel not grateful enough, as though I should shelter him more, hover more, follow more of the "recommendations" that are everywhere you look.  That somehow the feeling of "If it's his time then I can only be thankful for the time I had and let him go" that followed me during pregnancy makes me less vigilant of a mother since it has followed me throughout these last 12 weeks.  Don't get me wrong; just as I do for Bobby and Maya (and Peter, as well), I pray every day that I have a long, healthy life with all of them, that they will be protected and watched over.  But Michael's pregnancy took all sense of control away from me from the moment he was conceived.  And, for that, I'm actually most grateful.  Feeling like I had to just Let go and Let God as the saying goes took my focus away from the fear, and that has made me a different parent to not just Michael, but the twins as well.  I know that I can only do so much, only be so many places.  I can love them fully and completely and hope that they know just how much they mean to me so that, should their time come and we are apart, they feel my love and know that I will always be with them.  It doesn't remove the heartbreaking thoughts of what if, but it does make it easier to let them live without a mother who smothers and stifles them (even when, at times, I want to). 

This morning, I went to school early so that I could by SCRIP (a fundraiser that lowers tuition by purchasing gift cards to local supermarkets and stores that the school buys discounted at face value).  As I chatted with the school folks, it came up that, in 3 years, Michael will be joining the twins at MDCS. When we were preparing to send Bobby and Maya to school, I ached.  I didn't want it.  There was a part of me that felt like it wasn't needed, but the bigger part was that I didn't want to let them go.  I didn't want to no longer be their main influence.  I didn't want to risk them getting hurt and me not being there.  I just didn't want them be that far away (it's a mile and a half away... yeah... very far.) It will be bittersweet when Michael goes because my baby will have transformed overnight into a preschooler, but I know I'll let him go...and it will be alright.  He will be alright.

12 weeks...and yet a lifetime away from anywhere I ever thought I'd be.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

11 Weeks Old

Look who found their smile!!!
Playing Peekaboo: 10w6d

Morning Walk: 11w

With Passion

Today is the Feast of St. Robert Bellarmine, and as such we celebrate Bobby's name day!  Happy Name Day, Bobby!  Cupcakes (chocolate!) are in the oven, and the kids are excited to come home and have a special "lunch dessert" if they are lunchtime winners.

This morning, the 2014 Mass Intentions Book opened at our parish.  For those who may be unfamiliar with this practice, each Mass that is celebrated can have a special intention.  Each year, we try to arrange the intention of Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander's birthdays in their memories (we also do this for my brother-in-law, Robert, and for my uncle, Christopher Michael, who was stillborn).  Every parish does the process different, and our current one puts numbers in a basket and you pick one up for the number in which you will be called.  The basket goes out immediately following the 6:30am Mass.

I've been wanting to get out with Michael in the mornings for a walk or run, and today posed a great opportunity.  He and I are up, since he usually gets up around 4am-5am to eat, and I love to make Mass on the name days of our kids (especially special for Michael this year since both his (and my!) name day is his Christening day!).  So, we left the house in the chilly morning and walked to the church, about a mile and a half away.  It was a beautiful morning and we made it a few minutes before Mass started.

Michael was great (even if he and I were the youngest- by far!- of any of the attendees), and I only stepped out once to nurse.  (I normally have a cover and will nurse during Sunday Mass in the church proper, but morning Mass is held in the chapel and, since I was in workout gear, I didn't have a cover (and couldn't really have easily used one even if I did).  I stepped out into an enclave, where I could still hear Mass but was hidden, and it worked out really well!)  After Mass, we got our number (#6!) and headed home to see the kids off to school (and so I could grab a shower).  Michael was a trooper, and I may attempt morning Mass more often!  (On a side note, when we went back for the Mass book opening at 8:30, I did get the Intentions for their birthdays! Yay!)

Our pastor celebrated Mass this morning and, while I knew the story of St. Robert, it was nice to hear him discuss St. R's biography and to have him tie that into the reading.  There are several saints who bear the name "Robert", but this is the one that always reminds me of my Bobby... compassionate and empathetic.

Compassion.  There is so much contained in such a small word.  The word originates in 14th century Latin (although it dates in some histories to as early as 12th century French) from compounding "com", meaning "with", and "passion".  Passion...  what an interesting word.  We often associate it with a personality trait (that person is so passionate about the subject that they can't see the forest for the trees) or with a love interest (their romance was so deeply passionate, their honeymoon was full of passionate lovemaking).  But the word is oftentimes misunderstood.

The word "Passion" originates from (once again) Old French and Latin and relates to the suffering of Jesus on the Cross (hence our understanding of the Mass of the Passion of the Christ).  The word means suffering. 

Compassion.  With Suffering.

When we talk about someone being compassionate, we often say it as a means to express how they endured with us (or someone else).  In my time of sadness, you were so compassionate; you endured my grief with me.  And, truly, the people we call compassionate are ones who carry on through great suffering: think of Mother Theresa, living a life of poverty and caring for those unable to care for themselves.  Compassionate.  Suffering with those who suffered around her.

When I came home, I told Peter that I was inspired by our Monsignor's homily, and that I thought he really explained St. Robert's life well for those who may have been unfamiliar with the 15th-16th century saint.  As I discussed the word "compassion", Peter shared a story that he said, finally, clicked for him in a way it had never before.

A fan of the video game Ultima, (yep, Stones came from this game) Peter has a strategy guide that includes a few tales of different virtues embodied by some of the characters.  He said that he never had really understood the story that embodied the virtue of compassion, known as the Tale of Iolo and the Brigand.

A murder is rampaging a town and the people ask Iolo to help.  He hears their pleas and vows to remove the murder, Edric, from the land.  Finally, they meet and, as he tries to escape, Edric destroys a town.  Rather than pursue him at all ends, Iolo helps dig out the living and the dead, and then resumes chase.  Once again, they meet and, once again, Edric destroys a town (this time by poisoning the water supply) so that Iolo will stop and help. Finally, they meet up in a place of desolation and Edric falls into a pit.   When Iolo arrives, he finds Edric, crying out for help from the pit, into which he has fallen and broken his leg.  Having no rope, Iolo tells Edric that he can go get one, but it will take him a week to get it and return.  Edric, terrified, begs Iolo to not leave him and instead, to climb down and help him.  Iolo refuses, but cuts him down a branch so that he can hobble around, and then he waits with the dying man for three days.

Compassion.  With passion. To suffer with.  To endure alongside of.

Like St. Robert, may we all be touched with the virtue of compassion, even to those who hate us, who destroy that which we hold dear and for whom we believe don't deserve our love.  And may others hold us in their own compassion during our struggles.

St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bobby and Maya are 4!

We were in the car, on our way home from Bobby and Maya's birthday dinner at their (and our!) favorite pizzeria, when the clock hit 7:20pm and I was reminded of that moment, four years ago, when they were delivered.  They were so big to me and yet, so tiny, at just over 2 pounds each.  I remember wanting, so desperately, to hear them cry, but their lungs just couldn't.  Reading over their birth story, I had forgotten that, while Maya was breathing on her own, they intubated Bobby for the elevator ride upstairs (thankfully, they both went to CPAP right away and were fine).  I'll confess: it's hard to see pictures of them, so fragile.  At the time, they were rock stars and amazing... now, four years out, I can look back and see just how tough it was for them. I'll always be grateful and they'll always have been beautiful from the start, but it is still just so hard to know how rocky their early lives were.
Bobby's first hold: 9/13/09

Maya's first hold: 9/13/09
I can look back on each year and remember just how magical their lives have been.  From their first birthday, when they saw the beach for the first time,
Happy 1st Birthday! September 2010, Spring Lake, NJ

to their second birthday, when they had a juice box for the first time, tried out a classroom experience for the first time (FAIL!), and were learning how to read,
2nd Annual Robert's Run of ALSF's Lemon Run, November 2011

to their third birthday, when they started preschool (gulp) and we began letting them find themselves in the world,
3rd Birthday Party, September 2012

to their fourth birthday: twins in PreK with minds of their own who can read, who love to dance and sing, who are nearly as proficient in ASL as I am in spoken English!, and who light up our lives every second of every day.
Waiting for Michael... May 2013

We've had our ups and downs, but I wouldn't change them or the road we're walking with them for anything.  They light up my life and give me purpose.  I love watching them grow and change, and I can't wait to see what the next 4 years will hold for us.

Here are a few of my favorites over the last 4 years...

September 2009
September 2010
July 2011

August 2011

September 2012
October 2012

May 2013

September 2013

Happy Birthday, my sweets.  I love you more today than yesterday but never as much as I'll love you tomorrow.  You make my heart grow.  You teach me why God made me in the first place.  You give me a reason to get up every day.  To say that "I love you" doesn't convey nearly as much as I wish I could.  You'll always have my heart, and I'll always be yours.  Happy Birthday, Bobby.  Happy Birthday, Maya.  May this new year be your best one yet!

10 weeks old

If I say the words "time is flying" one more time, I might send myself flying off the roof!  But, really, it is.  Time, that is.  Michael is 2 and a half months old; he hit the double digits (10 weeks old) on Tuesday, the same day that Bobby and Maya turned 4 (a post on that is coming after this one!).

Michael is great.  He's still a chill little guy.  Unlike Bobby and Maya, who stayed on their 3 hour NICU routine (then evolved to a 4 hour routine as they got older), Michael is his own little man.  He rarely naps in the morning, except for the occasional doze at the boob (I guess breastfeeding is hard work!) or a periodic nap in the car (when he isn't yelling at me... not a car person!).  He's pretty much a one nap baby, beginning around 2pm-3pm (he just went down) and lasting anywhere from 3-4 hours.  Then, he's up, and back to sleep for bed between 7:30-8pm (closer to 8pm, and sometimes a bit later if things are crazy or we aren't at home).  He'll sleep until 7-7:30am, with a wake up to eat between 3 and 4am (depending on when he fell asleep for the night.  Until this week, Peter had been giving him a bottle when he woke up and I would pump, but as he's becoming more effective at milking, he's taking a bit longer between feedings in the late afternoon/evening and overnight, so I've been nursing him.  Usually, we both fall asleep together. :)  (I love nursing PJs... whoever came up with those clearly wanted more sleep at night!).  Depending on how close to 4am he wakes up, I usually just go to the couch and lay down, catching up on old Law and Order reruns.  My goal is to start putting him in his crib (he sleeps there for naps, but still not at night) and going out for a run.  But, I'm struggling to put him down.  I mean, really.  Do you know how hard it is to look at this face all day and not want to just snuggle him?

We're getting more and more smiles!  (and that's my shoulder- I promise!)
At his 2 month check up, he was closing in on 11 pounds and now, he has actually hit the 11 pound mark.  For comparison, Bobby was 4 months old and Maya was 6 months old when they were as big as Michael is now, at 2.5 months old.  When people say "Oh, he's so small," I cant help but want to say "You have no idea how BIG he is!".  To me, he's big.  And, we tried to fit "little" Doc into the outfit that Peter was baptized in (my MIL made this cute little "suit" onesie for Peter's Christening back in the late 70s and it still looks adorable!), and the chunkster didn't really fit.  It looked like some sort of hotpants on the lower half and we couldn't get the "belt" to close correctly; the neck was actually choking him.  Peter was only a tad younger when he was Christened and he didn't gain weight as quickly so... yeah, I don't call Michael small. :)

In Christening news, our little guy is being baptized at the end of the month!  I unpacked the Christening gown and every time I look at it, hanging in the closet, my heart flutters a little.  I need to take it to the cleaners to have it steamed and pressed, but really... it is ready to go!  I'm meeting with our pastor again on Monday to hand in the paperwork for the godparents (since they are parishioners at our old parish, they needed paperwork that states they are practicing Catholics in good standing) and to update Michael's birthday (we scheduled the Christening prior to his birth, so I didn't have the DOB to give them).  And, my mom is coming up!!!  Sadly, it will be just her as my (step)Dad, grandmother, nephew, and brother cant get away, but I'm so glad to have her!  She flies in the Thursday before the Christening and then leaves the Tuesday after.  And, lucky us, the kids are off from school that Monday, so they will get an entire day to love on her!

In postpartum news, I'm doing better.  Peter got me a treadmill off of a FB yardsale sight I'm on, and I've been sneaking in a few minutes of running when I can.  Even if it is five minutes (and sometimes, that is all I can manage in the day until he gets home), I find that it is enough to up my mood.  I'm not dropping weight quickly, but that is okay.  When I start to have negative feelings invade, I just repeat to myself that I'm nourishing a human being, that I'm eating wholesome foods, and that it took me 9 months to gain, so I have 9 months to get back to my prebaby weight before I'm allowed to start focusing hardcore on it.  May sound a bit nuts, but the self pep-talk is working.  It's hard to not be able to run close to a 9 minute mile (which was what I was working on sustaining for a long distance before I got pregnant with Michael) or to fit into my size 8s (I'm sporting a 14 right now).  It's also tough to get on the scale and see a number I'm not happy with.  But the fact that Michael is growing and eating well, and I have milk now (when I was starting to run out at this point with Bobby and Maya), these are the things that I try to focus on.  Today, I used some Kohl's cash and a coupon to buy a dress for Michael's Christening.  When I put it on and it fit, I ignored the size label and just enjoyed the fact that it was comfortable (and that I'd be able to nurse in it easily). 

It's hard to imagine that, in 2 weeks, Michael will be 3 months old and that, a quarter of his first year will be over.  Every day, as we all fall in love with him over and over again, is such a neat part of this journey.
10 weeks old

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Happy 4th Birthday, Bobby & Maya

It's hard to believe that four years have passed but, indeed, the twins are 4. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Today Is a New Day

Recovering addicts take each day as a new day. A day where you choose to not drink, not take drugs, or (in my case) not turn to food to fill the void. Each day is an opportunity for beauty and good choices, a chance to make the most of every second. Each moment, we have the choice to do the right thing, even through the struggle.

I did talk to Peter about Saturday. I do believe he is committed to trying to help me find the time I need each day to get back to where I am comfortable in my own skin. That being said, we have different thoughts on the issue, and I'm sure we will be working through that to what actually works.

But today is a new day. Negative self talk only hurts and I'm making the effort to be kind to myself. One step at a time... one bite at a minute at a time.

9 Weeks

9w old

It's hard to believe, even now, that 9 weeks ago this time, I was checking into the hospital...less than 3 hours from meeting our little miracle. He is still just as sweet as he was then. :-)


Bobby loves to read and write (especially the latter on walls). This morning, while my MIL and I were chatting, he found a blank sheet of paper, picked up his favorite crayon, and said "red". I didn't realize until I heard him saying each letter that he was writing, killing time until I left!

Later, he busted out with this masterpiece!

Monday, September 2, 2013

50 Shades of Blue

How are you? You look great!

Well, that's a loaded bag. All in all, things are good.  I'm so grateful for the positive things in my life.  My kids are healthy and really wonderful.  Bobby is doing well and really advancing closer to his chronological age in development; Maya is my little mommy and always wants to help, be it with cooking, cleaning, or watching Michael play while I do something; and Michael, in addition to being a dream, relaxed baby, is a nursing champion! I love volunteering as an assistant coach with our CYO Cross Country team- those kids are extensions of my own.  The nights I am with them are so fulfilling and I get so excited to see them push towards their goals. As far as writing goes, holding the promotionals for one book (and the book itself!) and getting to work on the publisher editing of the second, is pretty cool, even if I wonder where I will ever find the time to actually do the edits!  Not to mention that I still have a project that I'm due to send them that I haven't quite finished.  (I need about 4 more hours in the day I think...)  But, that's all good stuff.  I cant complain.

But, don't worry, I can complain. Well, not really complain.  Obsess?  I don't know.  I'm 50 shades of blue over here at times.

I wont say that I'm struggling with PPD (postpartum depression).  I know women who have gone through that and, from the outside looking in, I don't think that what I'm feeling comes close.  I've promised myself that, if I cant shake how I feel by the time I see Dr. B. in November, I'll talk to him about it.  (The body needs 8-12 weeks post delivery to get the out of whack hormones kind of back to normal, so I'm trying to keep that in mind.)  Not once have I thought negative thoughts about the kids- they are actually the one piece of perfection in the puzzle.  But about myself?  Oh man... I'm pretty much a full on self-loather at times.  (Most times?) 

The rational part of my mind knows that the things I'm beating myself up over should be non-issues.  I know that. And yet?  I cant stop.  And the not-stopping leads to self-hating which leads to self-punishment and so on... Vicious cycle.

So, what am I so hard on myself for? You guessed it: my weight.  Rational me says "It took 9 months to gain the 55 pounds, don't expect to lose them in 9 weeks."  Irrational part of me says "It's 9 weeks since Michael was born and you still are carrying around 30 extra pounds!" Rational me encourages my good eating and exercising whenever I can, understanding that, with a new person to care for, getting out for an hour run every day isn't really likely.  Irrational me beats myself up over not getting out and wants to reach for whatever is handy to shove in my mouth (like a second PB&J or a box of candy, etc).  Rational me gets that my body has changed and that, until I'm able to run like I was, getting into a pair of size 8s is not going to happen- and that's okay.  Rational me also understands that breastfeeding tatas aren't going to be comfortable in those medium tops and wont fit in some of them!  Hey! Viva Las Tatas!  Wear a bigger size and enjoy the fact that you are nourishing another human!  Be happy that you've packed away your maternity clothes because they were too big! Irrational me is so frustrated by the size 14s that I'm currently sporting and the large shirts that are hanging in my closet.  Rational me realizes that the number on the scale is going down and that going down slowly is the right way for it to go, both for me and for Michael.  Irrational me gets physically nauseous and has panic attacks when the "2" is the first number (even if the second number is a "0").

See what I mean?  Completely irrational craziness. 

Every comment of "You don't look like you just had a baby", "You look great for having just had a baby", "I cant believe you are running already", etc, should be something that helps my self confidence.  Instead, I hear the voice in my head coming back with awful things.  How could you let yourself top 200 pounds again- you promised yourself you'd never do that!  You are so slow... 12 minute miles?  You need to run FASTER.  Look at yourself in the mirror... All those fat rolls.  You need to work out harder.  And, when the negative thoughts come? The hand reaches for the proverbial cookie jar.  Because how better to deal with hating yourself that feeding into that hate- literally.

It is mostly manifesting as food related issues, but I've also had a fair amount of panic attacks with benign things, like the telephone.  I'm not really a talk-on-the-phone kind of girl.  I prefer texts and emails (or real letters), or even better, real life conversation over coffee! to chatting on the phone.  Recently, when my phone rings, I get an instant sense of panic. I know why it started and, now that the issue has been resolved, it should go away.  But it hasn't.  (We had to add Michael to our insurance- typical post-baby stuff.  Peter had 60 days to do so and, because he and I are complete opposites when it comes to due dates, he had no issue waiting until near the end of that period, while I would have done it while I was still in the Post Partum Unit!  Because of that delay, the hospital kept calling to find out when it was going to be done, etc., and because my number is always the primary (even though Peter handles all the insurance issues because it's through his employer), I was always the person dealing with them.  They were always nice and understanding (they get the whole 60 day thing) and were just doing their job to follow-up, but just talking to them would set me off on a food rampage because I'd be so stressed out by the phone call.  Hence, the panic attacks starting whenever the phone would ring.

I wrote a post years ago about the mind of an obese person. About the struggle of looking in the mirror and seeing the beauty of being me rather than the "fat person" I saw (regardless of my weight)... about the struggle of being an overeater even when I had that compulsion in check.  I knew, as I gained the weight during pregnancy, that the disfunction I have when it comes to food and weight would be here after Michael was born.  Yet, even knowing it would be here, I don't think I was prepared for just how loud the angry, anti-me voice would be.  It's hard.  It's awful.  There's no pill or quick fix.  I know that... I know it's something I have to work through and that it is a voice I have to be louder than to silence.  But damn... It's tough.  And I'm feeling it.

It's difficult because, while I can talk to Peter about it, he doesn't really "get it", or at least, it doesn't feel like he does.  He can tell me that I look great, that this isn't an issue, that I need to give myself time.  But I don't know that he really understands how much I need to run or exercise in order to keep the nasty internal dialogue at bay.  Funny enough, I don't mind the scale the day after I run because the number doesn't get to me. The simple act of getting out there and running keeps the self-loathing away.  The day that I don't work out? Or, worse, the day that I plan on doing so and then something comes up that I cant? It's awful. It's wanting to hurt myself (by eating- don't worry, nothing more sinister than that) awful.

Case in point: Saturday, post party.  I needed to run.  Michael was napping, the kids were eating lunch, and I asked Peter if he minded if I ran after I put them to nap.  No problem.  Thanks to the craziness that is twin 3-almost-4 year olds, the screaming banshees woke up Michael on their way to their bedroom to sleep.  Now, in my mind, Peter would handle the baby and I'd be able to steal a half hour for myself.  As soon as I'd gotten the twins down and was ready to go out, Peter hands me a fussy, hungry baby.  I wanted to cry. I pump milk so Michael has food when I'm coaching or running so, to me, there was an option.  But what made it worse was Peter going to take a nap.  I was through the roof, battling between wanting to cry because I needed that half hour run so badly and wanting to scream because I was so angry that he went to take a nap! (I was tired, too... Michael had actually had an all night nursing session from 1:30am on...)  While I was angry at Peter, the self-hatred was worse.  So, what did I do? I ate.  I held Michael on one arm, nursing, and rummaged through the kitchen for whatever I could easily find.  (I was actually hungry, since I hadn't eaten lunch in anticipation of running, so that just fueled the fire.)  By the time I woke up Sunday and stepped on the scale, 3 pounds heavier than Saturday's number, the events of Saturday just continued to push and push the loathing. 

Sounds nuts, doesn't it? 

The good thing is that I do realize what is going on and I know how to deal with it (keeping with positive eating, finding time to get in that half hour run regardless of what else is happening, making sure to get enough sleep even when we have the all-night diner routine because of growth spurts, continuing to volunteer with things like XC and racing (ALSF and the NICU run are coming up!) I just have to put on my big girl panties (realizing they'll be mediums again in no time!) and do it.

It's not about the weight- I knew that when I made the changes in my life a few years ago: it's about being healthy.  Being healthy post-partum is a completely different take on what it's like to be healthy outside of pregnancy.  It's something I never expected to deal with and the shock of the hormonal changes, nursing, and living with a newborn are all adding into the struggles of having an addictive, overeating personality. 

I haven't written here in a while because this struggle has left me feeling sad and, at times, like a fraud.  When I mentioned that to Peter, he encouraged me to open up and post about this.  Writing it has been difficult, but it's been cathartic too.  Hopefully, by putting this into words, I'll be better able to focus on enjoying being me, even in this part of the journey, and I'll stop looking so hard at the numbers on the scale when the woman in the mirror is, truly, happier than she has been in a long time.