Motherhood….again

Differences and blessings

Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve written and honestly I have so many things I could share with you all.

First of all, those of you that were praying for us and checking on us during hurricane Harvey… Thank you. I was pretty overwhelmed and stressed during that time as Madison could have made an earlier entrance to the world. But she didn’t. In fact, she was cozy until we got her out on our revised birthday August 31st! She was 7lbs 14oz –  not even close to the 9lbs I thought she was going to be! Haha! We were all surprised, including the doctor.

Secondly, still pray for us. It’s been a world of transition for everyone. The boys love their “issy” but they are just going through some tough toddler stuff right now. With the combination of a newborn and that, Nick and I are wiped out!

Now to the point of this post. I keep thinking about how motherhood is SO DIFFERENT this time around. I don’t mean a comparison between the two but I literally mean it’s a completely different experience. And I know, some of you are thinking (especially the ones with children), “Yep, every kid is different.” Well, while I’m sure that is so true. HOWEVER, this is the FIRST time I’m experiencing motherhood how it “should be.” Or, at least, what I envisioned it would have been with my boys the first time around. Madison was in my arms as fast as possible, she never left our sides the entire time we were in the hospital (except when she had to get help pooping), and she came home with us the moment I was discharged. Those 3 things alone made my experience in the first three days of her life magical for me. In the hospital, Nick looked at me and said “Rachel, why are you smiling?” I was looking at our beautiful baby girl and was just smiling but I didn’t realize it. That’s when I knew things were different. Really different. I was different. If you remember, I never had that with my boys and I carried that resentment with me the past (almost) 2 years.

Side note: I didn’t realize that I had carried it that long until Madison was here and all of a sudden I felt…. FREE. Happy. Joyful. Completely and totally in love. Not just with her, but with my calling to be a mother to her, my boys and our two other children in waiting. She made that happen for me and I am awestruck by her.

Frankly, before her birth, I was so scared to be back at Hermann after what I had been through with the twins. And even though she was full term and most likely, not going to be in the NICU – I’ve learned, you just never know. It was until she was in my arms almost 24:7 in that hospital that I believed she would stay with me. No one would take her from me and we would get to go home with her. That, my friends, is some kind of feeling I can’t even describe.

Madison is 2 weeks old and she’s still with me. We are connected so tightly I’m not sure I ever want her out of my sight anytime soon. That’s just the honest truth.

When the boys were 2 weeks old, we were preparing to MOST LIKELY take them home the next day (if everything went to plan and they past their tests). When I say I was traumatized by my delivery and NICU experience, I was. The nurses were absolutely wonderful but it didn’t take away the pain. I was depressed, angry, frustrated, sad, and every emotion in between. I refused to get back on medication until I was about 6 weeks postpartum. I rarely slept in my bed when the boys were in the NICU. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I didn’t understand how I could be so angry when I was given the blessing of two thriving beautiful children despite their early delivery. Honestly, I can’t even begin to go into the depths of that anger. Some of it is very private and has nothing to do with my twin pregnancy but it affected my twin pregnancy. Hope that makes sense. And honestly that’s the beast of postpartum depression/anxiety, you just don’t know why some things are happening and why you are feeling the way you are feeling. It’s horrible. But can be managed with help. So if it’s happening to you, please get help. You’re worth it.

Fast forward to Madison, I made a huge effort to get CONSISTENT HELP by staying in therapy. In the last month of the pregnancy I resumed medication (Zoloft this time around) as I felt the “torture” of the end of pregnancy was screwing with me big time. And wow. It helped take the edge off during those last few weeks – not enough to make me smile all the time – but enough so I could sleep and cope. But the effects after pregnancy is where I’m really seeing the benefit. And I’m a better mother because of it.

I’ve been feeling great. Yes, I’ve had my moments because of being tired and my body healing from the surgery. But overall, I feel better. Now, I haven’t had a huge amount of time alone with all three kids yet, but when I have and even those things weren’t too bad. I definitely have to roll with things a bit more when I’m alone  with them while she’s so little and needing more of my attention but that’s okay. I’ve had to roll with a lot since having the twins in the first place so we continue on living the chaotic life. 😂

So sweet baby Madison, thank you for being here. You are such a blessing to our family.

Love,

Rachel

Independence

Our Country and My Toddlers

For some of you, this weekend means barbecues, family and friend gatherings, lakeside parties and much more. I’ve already seen so many pictures of fun summer activities happening among my virtual friends. We’ve spent some time outdoors but this swollen pregnant lady has been keeping it relatively low-key. There is nothing truly exciting about a holiday weekend since it’s usually coupled with a day or two off work, am I right?! 😊 But this weekend is so much more than that. And I’m pretty sure our Founding Fathers didn’t think this day would be coupled with so many summer activities or that Hobby Lobby would have stocked their shelves way back in March for this weekend. But I do believe they did their fair share of celebrating. I mean, why not celebrate going to war with one of the greatest countries in the world in 1776?!

Most people would mark the beginning of our country with the date of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 – hence the holiday. However, did you know that the Declaration of Independence wasn’t actually signed on July 4th – GASP! It was officially signed a month later on August 2nd. How incredible were these men to help 13 little colonies stand up to Great Britain? Pretty incredible and fearless. Doesn’t all this history of the Declaration make you want to watch Nicholas Cage’s National Treasure movie? I do! I love that movie! Haha!

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Do you remember what the fuss was about anyway? The 13 colonies were under the direction of Great Britain and wanted their INDEPENDENCE from the Mother Country. We went to war with a HUGE, fully stocked with weapons and soldiers, country. Hello! Talk about a death sentence! But these guys were united by the need for freedom against an oppressive motherland. Ummm anyone want to watch Mel Gibson’s The Patriot? Another one of my favorites! It’s much more complicated than that but hopefully that jogs your memory.

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In all seriousness, this holiday is important to me. Not just for my history heart but also for me personally. This year in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the subdivision of Banning Acres, they will be celebrating 50 years of their neighborhood 4th of July parade. I remember going to this parade at least one time, maybe a few times, growing up. My grandparents started this parade in their neighborhood and while my grandfather has recently moved out of the neighborhood and my grandmother is looking down from above, they are still doing the parade. I think that is so awesome. It’s so cool to have been apart of something lasting so long. I’m sure that’s why we, Americans, treasure this weekend. We have been apart of something huge for so long – even if we weren’t even alive. Many of us have ancestors connected to this special day or are here in this amazing country because of this day.

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I do believe it’s important to honor those who made a huge sacrifice for us in 1776 and, even though it might not cross your mind as a day to honor dudes like Thomas Jefferson, it is important to know our country is still growing and changing and figuring out who exactly we are. In the eyes of the world, we are mere toddlers!

For comparison sake and because I love Rome so very much, did you know Roman history dates back to BC which means that Rome has a history lasting over 2500 years old?! American history hasn’t even hit the 250 year mark. Roman history is 10 times older than ours! Just think about that! We are BABIES! Budding toddlers with, at times, an attitude problem. Learning how to voice our opinions and many times being put in time-out.

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Disclaimer: I’m not looking for a political debate nor do I even want to know if you like our current president. I had enough of that during the election.

In many ways, America reminds me of my Twinadoes. Andrew and David are becoming fearless when voicing their thoughts and opinions on things such as food or whether or not they would like to take a nap, go to bed or even share their toys. Many of times this results in screaming, yelling and even crying from them in protest. And we definitely have some time-outs! Our vacation was full of this part of parenting. 😫 Yet, somehow they survive and move on until the next hour when it happens again.

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It’s similar to today in America. Our Amazon, social media, and high-speed internet has brought us into a generation of instant gratification or bust type people. I’m guilty of it just like the next person but seeing it in our younger generation in the classroom might have scared the poop out of me. It’s like we are raising a generation of kids that really need a good spanking. Haha! Seriously! I’m sure the British felt the same way about these Americans in 1776 whining about their much-needed freedom. Why did the Americans need their freedom? Why now? I mean without the Motherland those colonists wouldn’t be there!

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But what does this really boil down to with our 1776 Americans, twinadoes and our current younger generation: INDEPENDENCE. Quite frankly, like the 1776 Americans, my boys are trying to become more independent with every push of the boundary; yet, like the current younger generation in this country, when told NO revert to their baby-self, not quite ready to be in the real world. Not quite ready to face what’s actually out there – which is a lot of NOs, by the way. Even some of our young adults in the real world, don’t get it. They might be too busy looking at all their participation trophies (okay, that was mean but so true) wondering why they can’t get it together or they are completely content with mediocrity (that’s even scarier).

But regardless, this need for independence is just ingrained in us. It’s who we are, not just as Americans, but as people. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Declaration of Independence, 1776). These rights fuel our need for independence; encroach on that and you’ll see us kicking and screaming in the face of injustice. But we will be okay, we probably just need a nap. 😊

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Want to check out more cool facts that you may not have known about the Declaration of Independence? http://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-declaration-of-independence

The sacrifices we make

and sometimes it really sucks…

Well this week was my BIG check up. So many questions…. Did the hematoma start dissolving? How’s my placenta? Is the baby growing okay? Can I go on my trip to Usborne’s convention? Can I go to Gulf Shores for a week with my family? To be honest, I wasn’t completely convinced I would even get a small bit of good news. I know, I know. So pessimistic. But seriously, my last two appointments haven’t been so great.

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Here’s us leaving that regular urine sample and about to start my gestational diabetes test. Goodness I am nervous about the results! So stay tuned for that.

So let’s get to it….

The hematoma: still there. What does that mean? I’m still at risk for bleeding. So continued restrictions. Strike one.

The cord issue: well it’s permanent but the baby is growing fantastic! So currently the cord isn’t causing any issues. Ball one.

The placenta: IT MOVED! So it’s no longer considered an issue. Whoop! Ball two.

Can I travel to convention for Usborne Books & More June 7th-11th? Hesitation. Strike two.

Can I travel to Gulf Shores with my family June 17-24th? Hesitation. Strike three.

I’m out.

Although I couldn’t be happier for a healthy baby at this point, I’m pretty sad, disappointed, angry and frustrated. Let me explain why the hesitation.

I’m high risk. Well, that alone pretty much seals the deal. Once you’re labeled high risk, it’s pretty much over. Because ANYTHING can happen at ANY time. I was labeled high risk with the twins but it was ONLY because I was carrying twins. I, thankfully, didn’t have any complications with them and never carried them long enough to experience them. Can I go back in time and tell my former self to enjoy my previous pregnancy more? **regrets**

I’ve continued to have Braxton Hicks contractions. I’ve had contractions since about 16 weeks. Some stronger and longer than others. Some have put me out all day. The stress of traveling can prompt them along with dehydration. So my continued contractions could serve as an irritant to the hematoma and resume bleeding. Bleeding on a plane or somewhere not near my hospital is something that can potentially be problematic. Something that worries me.

I’m swelling. I started swelling with the twins pretty much around the same time. Seems like this time it’s a bit accelerated. Funny how the body remembers. 😫 When I was pregnant with the twins, I flew to Ohio (no hesitation from the doctor then) at 25 weeks. On the plane ride back, the pressure of being on the plane literally made my legs feel like they were going to explode. IT WAS AWFUL! Like so bad, we went from the plane to the hospital. So the doctor is worried a plane ride would enhance my issues.

Okay so drive, right? Wrong. When you are pregnant you are more at risk for clotting by sitting down for too long. So driving to Tulsa or to Gulf Shores would require a stop every 1-2 hours for bathroom and walking. In my case, I HAVE to drink a significant amount of water to keep the contractions at bay. If I don’t, I’m destined to have them. And my bladder is a trampoline to the little lady so forget holding anything. Did you know holding your urine too long while your pregnant can cause contractions? Yes and I’ve definitely found this true.

So what’s my point besides a large bitch session here on my blog? Well, I’ll be the first to admit I have control issues. Overtime I’ve learned, especially with the twins, to let things go. But I felt so out of control when I was pregnant with the twins. From being pregnant for the first time to personal issues making it challenging, I felt absolutely 100% out of control of pretty much anything. So, with this one, I thought, just maybe I would have some control. Or at least be too busy to really wallow in not having any.

I sincerely thank the Lord for being so busy with the twins but this is my time to wallow. To be sad. To be angry. Why? Well, that trip to convention was FOR ME. It’s something I have been planning on for a YEAR. It’s something I know I needed for myself and my business. It completely and utterly sucks I can’t go. I’ve spent money on travel, accommodations and registration. 😭 And that trip with the family, well, who wouldn’t want to spend a week in Gulf Shores? Maybe I would look like a beached whale but the memories I wanted to make with my kids there is something I won’t get, not right now anyway. Sucks!

I know and realize when you are pregnant you become an incubator and subject to the wants and needs to this tiny human you’re making. I get it. I don’t like it but I get it. And I’m mad.

I am mad for feeling like this again, for being terrible at giving life to another human being, for being, yet again, not blessed to be a woman who can do all things during pregnancy like workout, eat clean, play all day with their kids, etc. 

I literally give up everything I wanted this summer for you little girl. I know you will be worth it in the end. I know it’s not just a cliché but it sucks so bad right now. I’m sad right now. I’m wishing things were different right now. I wish pregnancy for me didn’t require giving up EVERYTHING to keep you safe. But it’s what I have to do.  It’s not what I want to do and quite frankly I haven’t stopped crying about it today.

But it’s the sacrifices we make as mothers even before you enter this world that help us become better mothers.image

Precious one, I don’t know who you will turn out to be but I know I’ll be better for this moment. It’s these moments God changes us for His will. I just wish it didn’t hurt so bad going through it.

 

Here’s to the sacrifices we make,

Rachel

Decisions

The road to IVF

The decisions Nick and I had to make after learning of our failed plan were not easy. You see, I was raised in the Catholic Church and very much still practiced my faith. As a Catholic, in-vitro-fertilization (also known as IVF), among other fertility treatments, are not accepted. In fact, they are considered morally wrong to engage in. I knew this, hence the reason we wanted to avoid it at all costs. And actually, at the time, I was completely against it. However, unless you’ve ever been faced with being told you have a less than 5% chance of conceiving naturally and your body is essentially working against you to have a biological child, please reserve your judgment. I’m not looking for a fight or an argument about “my sin” but merely just sharing how we got to that point.

In the next weeks (we really didn’t have time to make a choice as my condition was worsening by the second), we talked to a lot of people – Catholics, Protestants, priests, and people who went through the fertility process. My wonderful husband was willing to go to the ends of the Earth to make this happen for us and what was important to him was that we “gave it our all”; essentially “tried everything we could” to have a baby. If we still ended up with no baby, then we tried. We would look into other options, like adoption, if that was the path we were meant to be on. While what he said made sense and I just wanted to fall completely into that idea and not look back, I wanted to make sure my heart was in the right place. I wanted to make sure I would have no regrets. This was also an expensive decision and I was feeling super guilty I was the one that brought us to this place. I know it was out of my control, but the guilt was real.

While everyone was super great in listening to our concerns and helping us through this decision (as best as anyone could), we were directed to this great Catholic couple and via email she helped me more than anyone. She said TWO things to me that have stuck with me through these years:

1. Her and her husband made a decision BEFORE the IVF process started that however many children they were blessed with in the process, they vowed to transfer them all in their lifetime.

2. That no matter what they did as a couple, if God’s plans were for them NOT to have children, it won’t happen. Science is great but if science REALLY could circumvent God’s will, then everyone who went through IVF or fertility, in general, would have children.

Let me talk about the impact these two points made on us. The first one was right in line with how I felt about helping create these embryos. THESE EMBRYOS were going to be OUR CHILDREN and I couldn’t bear to not try to conceive them. I won’t go into every detail of the fertility process but many embryos are put up for adoption, abandoned, or given to science for testing. Neither one of these options were the paths that Nick and I wanted to go down so vowing to have however many children God will bless us with was something we felt we could commit to BEFORE we started. Let me tell you, we could have ended up with no children or eleven children, we had no idea! And even now, there are still no guarantees. 

The second point really hit home. We had no idea what we were really getting ourselves into and my naivety about the process led me to just believe we would have children. I mean we were going through all this and paying for it, why wouldn’t we have kids? Well, it’s about a 65% chance of conceiving when you transfer one embryo which is much better than what we were looking at naturally, but still not great. With the twins, we were looking at a slightly higher percentage of having one baby and a 25% chance of having twins. The process of taking all the medications and going through the procedures essentially had to be perfect to even get to the transfer of an embryo. What I am trying to say is that throughout the entire process, ANYTHING could have gone wrong. We could have faced financial hardship and not being able to afford the treatment which is in the tens of thousands of dollars range. My body could have failed to respond to the medications. The procedure to retrieve the eggs could have been unsuccessful. The combining of the sperm and egg could have failed and then the embryos themselves could have failed to multiply and grow correctly. Every single part had to work. Science is a wonderful gift but it’s not fool-proof. 

Nick and I confidently decided to go forth with IVF. The IVF journey is a beast and not one I will tackle in this post. However, we were blessed with 5 embryos. 5 children. Our children. Our family of 7. But this family of 7 has to wait a little bit.

Many people…..most people, go through this life not knowing how many children they will have but we do. We know. At that moment, when we got the call of how many embryos survived, we knew we had 5 beautiful children awaiting their lives with us. That knowledge right there was absolutely the hardest part for me to emotionally handle. You see, I knew I had 5 children but I could only transfer 2 of them the first time around. I was lucky enough that both the embryos took. But during that pregnancy (it was tough so I had a lot of down time), all I could think of were my other babies. I had a lot of guilt for not being able to have them at that moment. I know in my mind I couldn’t but it still hurt. I am their mommy and needed to protect them and I couldn’t. Now, I am sitting here feeling my little wiggle worm rolling around in my stomach – my 3rd baby. My baby girl. I couldn’t be more excited to have her with us now. But my heart is not yet complete. It hurts a little less this time around then when I was carrying the boys but it still hurts. It’s so unexpected how the pain of infertility continues to creep into my heart and mind. I have no regrets whatsoever.

Although, I am so excited to have the life I have with the twins and soon to be with little miss, there is not a single day that goes by I don’t think about my two children waiting for us. I always say to myself when I start thinking of them: “Daddy and I will come and get you one day. We will. We promise. You won’t be alone anymore. We love you so much.” In a way, it’s comforting because I feel like they are close but in another way it breaks me. And although it’s a pain I cannot even begin to describe and tears roll down my face, I know we will bring them home one day. That day, will be the best day of our lives because our family will finally be complete. 

 

Here’s to the loves of my life in waiting,

Rachel