Saturday, June 23, 2012

imma go crazy!

I know, I know, I said I'd post the pregnancy part of my twin birth story today, but I'm still working on it AND I need to vent.

In fact, in order to let the "good girl" in me feel better about spilling my guts more often (I'm mostly an "I'm doing fine" person regardless of how I'm actually doing, something I'm working on!) I'm going to make this a bona-fide post category. Calling it "Imma Go Crazy" or "Imma Go Cray-Cray," depending on how comedic I'm feeling.

I even made a cool collage:

So now it's officially okay for me to throw a grownup temper tantrum. It's a good thing you can't see my actual face because it'd be ugly.

Today was the day of my friend's baby shower. Another friend and I took charge of planning the party, reserving a table for brunch at Mother's and coming up with cute favors and games and a scrapbook for people to sign.

In my mind, this was going to be a kid-less affair - Andy would watch the girls while I had a big fat mimosa (or two) and chatted with girlfriends about pregnancy and the early days of parenting and steal the clothespins of the ladies who I caught saying "cuuuute!" I'd snap pics for Instagramming and have a grand time.

Sigh. It was not to be, and thus began the war of my old life, footloose and fancy free, against my new life, as responsible mother to 11-month-old twins.

The original plan was to take the girls to Mother's at the very beginning, and Andy would meet me there to take them home for naps. Instead, I got a call from him mid-morning to tell me that something was wrong with the roaster and they needed to do some repairs. He wouldn't be making it to pick up the girls, sorry. In fact, he didn't know how long he'd be. We had also planned to go to the Portland Blogger family picnic later in the evening, and that was now up in the air, too.

Okay, deep breaths, this is going to be all right. They're usually pretty good in restaurants, right? Yes, they sure are, for about 30 minutes at a time. Not a few hours. I called Mother's and had them add two highchairs to our table reservation. No, this was not going to be the girlfriend gabfest that I had pictured. In my head, I was stamping my feet and pulling my hair. Can't a girl get a freakin' mimosa?!

I hoisted Afton into the Boba and Ruthie into the ringsling, loaded up my arms with diaper bag, purse, mini succulent favors and party supplies, set my jaw, and headed out.

Bless my littles, they really are sweet and personable girls. But how much can you expect from a baby? Two babies? Not a whole lot. And I did NOT want the guests to feel like they needed to watch/hold/entertain them, because this was my friend's special brunch, her time to talk about baby and pregnancy and her experiences so far. I wanted them to be seen and not heard.

Friends of mine will laugh and tell me that of course they don't mind if the girls come! but I minded. I really didn't want them there. I wanted some alone time, some girl time, where I felt like my old self and didn't have to deal with babies, no matter how much I love them. And I wanted a mimosa.

If you can play out how the brunch must have gone, you'll probably have gotten it just about right. They were good, but still needed a lot of attention, and I spent a lot of time shuffling two babies between my lap and the high chairs, the floor looked like a disaster area, and as the party wore on, their eyes took on a red-rimmed sheen than told me they should really be napping. I had help, but tried to keep them occupied so they wouldn't take attention away from the new mama.

If my meal was good, I don't remember. Supposedly it's one of the best breakfasts in Portland. I was shoveling down forkfuls of lemon-poppyseed pancakes and gulping down the decaf like water, pretending it was a tart, orangey mimosa while trying to keep some baby hands out of maple syrup.

We sat at the end of the table, and I could see that there was some funny and heartwarming conversation happening, but I just wasn't a part of it. Inside, I had another mini temper tantrum. I should be laughing and sharing, too! I should be Oooo-ing and aaahh-ing over gifts, too! Seriously, why did this have to happen TODAY? 

Ruthie fussed and I whispered to please, oh please be quiet. be quiet. Afton threw spoons and toys and I glared at her little smiling face, immediately feeling guilty at the wrath I felt. It was not their fault.

It wasn't terrible, the girls really were fine, but I wasn't fine. I wanted to say it was okay and that I was "fine," say something like, "that's life" or something, but when Andy finally made it home, and it was clear that we also wouldn't be making it to the Blogger picnic, I forced myself to be really honest, out loud.

Not to blame him, or make him feel bad, but to just simply tell the truth and let him into my world.

It was a beautiful shower. Kim looks wonderful and ready to pop. The place was lovely. Everyone had a great time. The girls were good. But I didn't want them there. I wanted to joke and laugh and relax and have some girl time, and it was exactly the opposite for me. I was struggling the whole time.


I really am fine, now. The girls came home and fell right to sleep, I sat down to decompress and think about how my old life and my new life are so different. Sometimes they mesh seamlessly together, but more often than not, they're butting heads and playing tug-of-war.

I love the piece written by Lisa Jo about how she had to "break up" with herself when she had kids. I think about this all the time. Today was a great reminder of how these beautiful girls, as Lisa Jo puts it, "huff and puff and blow your life down."

Or, in my own words, how sometimes they make you swap out a boozy mimosa for a cup of lukewarm decaf.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

easy strawberry rhubarb jam

Tomorrow - the pregnancy part of my twin birth series!

But today, it's all about jam.

I bought some rhubarb at the farmer's market with the express intention of making clafoutis, but I ditched that idea when we ran out of jam and I was having a major morning craving. I needed to have some jam on my buttered bread. Ya know? This recipe turned out perfectly.

Strawberry Rhubarb Refrigerator Jam(Adapted from GNOWFGLINS)

1 cup diced rhubarb stalks (if it has a tough outer skin, peel this off)
2 cups mashed strawberries
1/4 cup water
2 tsp. Pomona's Pectin calcium water mixture
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp. Pomona's Pectin

(Pomona's Pectin is a natural sugar pectin from citrus or apples that gels regardless of the sugar content. You can find it at natural health stores or independent groceries in the canning aisle.)

1) Put water, rhubarb, and strawberries in a saucepan. Bring water to a boil, cover pot, and let steam until fruit falls apart (approx 5-7 mins). Turn off heat.
2) Add calcium water to rhubarb and mix.
3) In a separate bowl or cup, mix together honey and pectin.
4) Turn on heat again. Add honey mixture to rhubarb and mix well while bringing to a boil. When it boils, remove from heat.
5) Pour into a clean jar, cover and refrigerate. This recipe can be frozen as well. Makes 1 pint.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

where i've been.

Things have been a little quiet around here, I've taken a much-needed break from cyber world to enjoy my time home and focusing on two teething and growing girls (i.e., clingy) - one week stretched into two, and the last week was full of glorious weather and happier girls and good times with family and  girlfriends.

I'm back home today, celebrating Andy's 30th Birthday, so we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow :)

A few shots from our visit: 
My cousin Morgan is a lifeguard and swim teacher, as was my mom when she was younger, so we took the girls to my aunt's pool for their first lesson! They love the water and have no fear, even when Afton dunked her whole face and came up sputtering. We have some fun summer pool times ahead of us.

(top L to R: Afton & Great-Gramma - Mama & the girls - Auntie Caty & Afton - Cousin Allie & Ruthie - The view from my aunt's backyard - Girls & their first swim lesson - Afton & Grammy - Ruthie & Watermelon - Cousin Morgan & Ruthie)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

my twin birth story: embracing the unexpected

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

I've been working up the courage to put my birth story to page (or screen) for almost a year. I journaled throughout my pregnancy, all the way up until we brought our daughters home from the NICU. It was such a sacred and scary time, and even though I'm not opposed to sharing -  I want to share, to encourage other twin and NICU mamas - it was MY birth, MY time staring through the windows in their incubators, MY tears that stained the journal pages as I pumped like a mad woman and cried over their teeny bodies, and the questions to my husband in the middle of the night, the what if they're crying and I'm not there, and nobody hears them? I felt like no one would understand, or if they did, it still wouldn't be enough for me.

But I look at my girls now and see their mountains of rolls, chubby cheeks, and milky skin, and I feel so incredibly fortunate that they were and are healthy. Many mothers who give birth early are not so lucky. So now, I'm ready to share.

For me, I think the most fulfilling way for me to tell my birth story is to divide it into four parts: today's summary (for those who don't love reading birth stories, this is for you), the pregnancy, the preterm labor, bedrest and delivery, and finally, the NICU. That way, I'm not writing oodles of words and making your and my eyes cross.

Today's post, along with being a submission in the Carnival of Natural Parenting, will kick off the series and serve a bird's eye view of our experience, and to get you thinking about this little gem of a sentence that truly saved me:

Let go of expectations and embrace reality.

There are so many ways this rang true for us. When I first found out I was pregnant, I had some grandiose visions about pregnancy, birth, and parenting. I saw myself achieving a calm, nurturing, and creative pregnancy and a gentle, midwife-assisted water birth.  When we saw two heartbeats on the ultrasound screen, my dreams and reality clashed head-on.

While pregnant, I wanted to be super crafty and make amazing gifts for my daughters, glitter spilling on my swollen tummy, and take creative belly shots every month to track my progress. The crafts didn't happen: I could barely get up from the couch to press "play" as I watched the entire Gilmore Girls series over and over. We took some pictures, but not enough to make a clever Pinterest-inspired photo collage. I did my share of relaxing, but so much for the creative pregnancy!

In Oregon, midwives can't assist a twin birth in a birth center, so my only option was to have a home birth. While I admire those women who do, it was definitely not something I was comfortable with. Scratch off the midwife-assisted birth. After a ton of research, I found myself a wonderful OB who would vaginally deliver a breech twin B confidently. Then, unexpectedly,  I went into preterm labor at 31 weeks. Three days of magnesium sulfate and then three weeks of hospital bed rest is how I spent the month of June. It was not nurturing, and it was not a calm environment, but we made do in little ways until at 34 weeks, they finally let me go home. Five days later, my water broke.

But the most vivid illustration of letting go of my expectations came in watching the evolution of our birth plan. It started out as a manifesto: three typed pages, 10-point font, with every single detail spelled out. A few months later, it was down to two pages. When I went into pre-term labor at 31 weeks, it looked like I might not get to have a birth plan at all. They were able to stop the contractions, and for the next two weeks, I created three different plans while reclining on the hospital bed. Birth Plan One: To be used for if birth happens prior to 34 weeks with a C-Section. Birth Plan Two: To be used if a vaginal birth happens prior to 34 weeks. Birth Plan Three: Anything that happens at 35+ weeks, with sections for both vaginal and C-section.

When my girls were finally born at 34 weeks and five days, my birth plan had been whittled down to a one-page list of "hopes", with the only bold font being "please use donor breast milk in the NICU." Even though the circumstances were not what I had envisioned, I still feel fortunate enough that the three things dearest to my heart happened: two healthy daughters, a vaginal birth, and successful breastfeeding. I was thankful beyond belief, and could have cared less about page two, bullet-point five of the birth plan.

Next time, perhaps!

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)
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