Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Unexpected Parent

A little taste of our chaos.  :)

A month or two ago, I helped my cousin assemble her wedding invitations.  While we chatted and glued, the topic of twins came up, as it often does in conversations with me.  I mentioned that I was thankful for having twins first, because it made me embrace parenthood in a way that I never would have anticipated (which I'll explain below).  She replied, "You're right -- I honestly didn't think you would ever have children!"

Now, to be fair, her statement comes from having known me when I shaved my head, and later, when I had five earrings in each ear, had my belly button pierced, and dated a new boy every month.  It was a short, hard phase, and not truly indicative of who I am on the inside.  I don't think my parents have ever been more relieved than when I attended a Christian college, took out my piercings, and started dating a boy named Tony VanHorn.  :)

But the statement itself still holds some truth.  I'm not the most maternal person.  I didn't dream of being a mother when I was a little girl.  When Tony and I got married, we knew that we wanted children, but maybe just two.  We didn't say it out loud, but the bottom line was that we didn't want to change our lives for children.

Then, we saw two little blobs on that first ultrasound.  Bed rest for five weeks.  Delivering twins, one vaginally and one by c-section, six weeks early.  The NICU for sixteen days.  Becoming a stay-at-home mom to premature twins who stayed on oxygen for eight weeks.  Exclusively breastfeeding.  Punching the mattress because both babies were crying and I couldn't make them stop.  Leaving dinner parties early because both of the babies were fussy.  Deciding to not leave the house during the day unless absolutely necessary for a few months, because it was just too hard.  Being the mom who couldn't sit down and chat with friends during play dates, because managing the twins took all of my time.  Watching my friends without children stare at us while we desperately tried to pull ourselves together.

Changing our lives for children was going to happen, whether we wanted it to or not.

If there was ever an excuse to stick to our "two children" resolve, twins was it.  It's the hardest thing I've ever done.  I spent the first year (or more) of the twins' lives feeling out of control almost all of the time.  By having twins first, changes in my life happened that I wouldn't have chosen and had no control over.    

Something else also happened.  The changes that I didn't choose, even resisted, made me a better person.  I had no choice but to give up my selfishness, my pride, my control.  In their place, instead of resentment, I've been given  love, patience, and enjoyment.  And, Tony and I reasoned, if we have all of these things with two children, why not have more?  And so, Miss Marlowe was born.  And all of those good things have multiplied.  In fact, believe it or not, life has gotten easier.

During my pregnancy with Marlowe, I swore that she would be our last.  Seeing her and falling completely in love with her made me take that statement back.  So, we don't know how many children we will have.  We may have three or thirty.  Our life is still chaos, and probably will be for a long time.  My enjoyment may not be obvious when you see me on the street.  :)  But I can tell you, honestly, that I love and enjoy being a mother to my three kiddos.  And that's something that even I didn't expect to see in myself.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Twins as Individuals (and Why I Can't Win)

The kids are napping, my house is a disaster zone, and I don't feel like cleaning it.  So, I'm going to blog.  :)


(Leila / Hadley.  I wish this picture were in focus, but I'll take what I can get.)  :)

Most of the time, I feel like a stay-at-home mother of three, sometimes forgetting that two of them were in my belly at the same time.  (Hadley and Leila actually aren't aware that they're twins.  They don't get the concept.)  Other times, I'm very aware that we have twins, and that we had three kids in 30 months.  It's usually triggered by going out in public.  At home, our "three under three" feels totally normal.  At the grocery store, or in restaurants, we get lots of smiles, stares, and "you've got your hands full!"  Right now, having been out in public a lot recently, I'm in a "twinny" phase.  So, bear with me while I write a little monologue about twins.

This is what I've been dwelling on recently: when it comes to telling our twins apart, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Hadley and Leila are identical.  Tony and I have been able to tell them apart since the moment they were born, but we're the only ones who can do that.  Our family and friends are awesome at making an effort, but we usually have to remind them which one has bangs or what shirts they are wearing that day or correct a mix-up.  And we're totally okay with that.  What drives me c-r-a-z-y is when people don't make an effort at all.  They've been called "HadleyorLeila".  I've been told, "yeah, I won't remember that."  I've been asked, "which one is that?"  (Which is sometimes okay, but the emphasis on "that" was odd.  Please call my child a "she", not a "that".)

It seems like I would be THRILLED if people could tell them apart, right?  Well, I'm a fickle, emotional female.  :)

The girls and I went to the mall the other day to run a quick errand.  Of course, before we left, we stopped by the play area and stayed for about half an hour.  Marlowe was sleeping, so I parked the stroller and sat down.  The mom sitting next to me said, "are those girls twins?"  I puffed up my chest with pride and prepared my answer, until I realized she was pointing at two little blonde babies playing near the slide.  I gave my best guess (I didn't think so), and we were silent for a few minutes.  Then, I couldn't handle it any longer.  "But MY girls are twins!" I announced, pointing them out so that the other mom could see them.  "Oh, yeah ... I guess they are," she said.  And that was it.  She wouldn't have noticed them.  And that made me sad.

You see what I mean?  I want people to tell them apart, but I also want people to not tell them apart.  I want people to see them as individuals, but also as twins.  I can't win.

So, if I can't have it all, I guess I'll "be thankful in all circumstances".  Lesson learned.  End rant.  :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rice, Rice, Baby!

I don't start solids early on with my kiddos.  I always feel like it's just one more thing to add to my day, so as long as they're not acting hungry after they've just nursed, I'm happy to delay solids.  I nursed the twins exclusively for seven months before starting solids, and Marlowe just turned six months old and hadn't eaten solids yet ... until yesterday!

Marlowe wasn't necessarily acting hungry, but she was eyeing our food at mealtimes, lunging forward, and grunting at it.  :)  Plus, her fine motor skills are developed enough that it's time for her to learn how to eat.  So, I pulled out the box of rice cereal yesterday.

Mom, I'm so hungry that I'm eating my bib! 

First bite ... what are you shoving into my mouth?

Hmm ... not sure ...

That was quite yummy, thank you! 

(I make 99% of my own baby food.  We just happened to have a box of rice cereal, and you know I'm not going to waste it.)  :)  Next up, sweet potatoes!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Six Months of Marlowe

I managed to write only one blog post during the month of April.  I haven't done that ... ever.  Not once since starting this blog.  I guess that's just the pattern of life.

Anyway, I'm not here to have deep thoughts today; I'm here to celebrate the six-month birthday of a certain little girl!  Six months ago today, we welcomed Marlowe Grace into our family, though she fits so naturally that it seems like she's been here all along.


Happy birthday to the happiest, sweetest, smiley-est baby in the world.  The baby who I will compare all other babies to for the rest of my life.  The baby who loves jumping in her exersaucer, stuffing anything she can grab into her mouth, and already sleeps 12 hours a night (and who achieved that milestone without any prompting on our part).

We love you, Miss Marlowe, and we love that God has given you to us.

By the way, our house is on the market -- check it out at http://215elmwood.com/!  It's turning out to be quite a dramatic story, but I'll save that until the story is complete.