My Spirited One

Oh, my wild child, or I think they’re calling them “spirited” now-a-days. The ones that challenge your every decision and make you question who is actually running the show (spoiler alert: it isn’t you).

I had another mom once ask me “Is your daughter a handful?”

And I said,  “yeah, she’s a wild one why do you ask?” I thought it was an interesting question since she wasn’t doing anything particularly crazy at the moment.

“Her calves,” the woman answered.

I laughed. “Her calves?”

”Yes, I have a theory that all kids that have defined calf muscles are a handful. They’re always running and climbing, being daredevils,” she laughed.

How funny I thought, nothing could be more true of this kid. This woman is onto something!

Sometimes I can’t help but think of these moments when my kid is so visibly different. Whether it’s her defined calf muscles that stand out to the other moms or the way she cannot stay in one place. The way she runs out of storytime or wants to play in another room when a whole group of kids are sitting together for music class. The way she fearlessly climbs things or runs like the wind until she falls hard on the ground and gets back up and keeps going.

With her second birthday quickly approaching I can’t help but reflect on my spunky little girl and the woman she will one day become. My husband and I were talking about the many different temperaments of children, and how no matter what they’re all a two-sided coin. The toddler who scares easy and cries over everything is also often well-behaved in public or at restaurants and can be patient when held for long periods of time. The shy and careful child who takes a long time to warm up may not run off full-force with the other kids or may cling-on for dear life in new situations, but they’re also less likely to get into dangerous situations and tend to have longer attention spans when they do find something they like.

Sometimes I think the downsides of the “spirited” toddler stand out more than the rest, but maybe every parent thinks that about their own kid’s temperament. The running off, the climbing and jumping, the full-on no fear personality is exhausting. The huge emotions, stubbornness, and won’t-take-no-for-an-answer determination is exhausting. There have never been long periods of quiet snuggling or even sitting in one place for that matter. There is no carrying her or holding her. She just wants to be free, always has. The strong sense of independence and desire to lead instead of follow can make me feel isolated when she just simply doesn’t have interest in doing what all the other kids are doing.

“Why is she so different?” I find myself wondering when I see all the other kids her age happily sitting on laps or playing quietly next to their parents while she is running off looking for something to climb or explore or trying to coax another kid to chase her instead of paying attention to the teacher. This I have learned is just one side of her coin.

However, on the other side is what I want for all my kids, and what I strive for in raising a girl especially. A strong sense of self, confidence, resilience, independence, and the determination to accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Even though these traits in toddlerhood have me wanting to run for the hills some days, I also can’t help but secretly hope they carry through to womanhood.

My friend was telling me it is funny when you think about it, that you just can’t have it both ways. We want them to be independent, explore, and do things on their own. We want them to be these strong and capabale children, then when they are we get frustrated with their new found independence and turn right around and want them to just sit quietly and do what we tell them.

When I’m feeling frustrated about her phases, I try to remind myself of all of this. Especially, when her new phases include screaming “no no no” when anyone starts singing happy birthday and stomping her feet and shouting when someone tries to take her picture…. less than a week before her second birthday. Perfect. Things like this have me begging can’t my child just be normal. I don’t get embarrassed easily, but sometimes it’s borderline embarrassing trying to explain to other moms, “Yeah, we’re not going to sing happy birthday to her because she’s weird and hates everything.” Sigh. Okay, I know she’s not weird. And I know she doesn’t hate everything, but it feels like it sometimes. Like I said it can be exhausting

I think one of the most eye-opening things about parenting is accepting that even though you’ve created this child out of absolutely nothing, you don’t get much of a say in who they are or who they become. Even at two, let alone twenty. I mean sure their experiences or “nurture” definitely shapes them, but their personality and temperament just simply are what they are. Ask any mom with more than one child, and I’m sure they can point out immediate differences in their babies from birth.

I think so many new parents believe that “raising” children means making them a certain way.  Part of me thought that anyway. But the more I struggle with this wild child’s personality the more I realize what a disservice it is to try to change or question anything that is so inherently who they are.

“Are you sure you don’t want to play with the other kids?” “Don’t you want to go dance with your friends in class?” “Look everyone is over there playing in the splash pad, don’t you want to join them?”

When she is clearly perfectly happy running around (perhaps a little too far away), barefoot, hair a mess, digging up rocks in the dirt. Maybe even tasting one for good measure.

Now I don’t mean to say I have any problem with her running around and getting dirty and just being a kid. Obviously I think those things are great and have always encouraged them. But there are moments I can’t help but just wish she was a tame child that just played quietly with the other kids so I could relax for five minutes. But alas, as other moms of wild children know, that will just never be.

So all of this is just to say if you struggle with a spirited child, if you have a child that will not be tamed, one that has no desire to follow the crowd, I feel you tired mamas. I feel you so hard.

But instead of feeling despair that in a week my two year old will not wear that pretty party crown, will not want to be the center of her friends as we sing happy birthday, and will definitely not want her picture taken in front of a cake, I am going to try to let go of my expectations of perfection and how things “should” be. I’m going to let her run barefoot with dirty feet, in a most likely dirty dress, I’m going to let her stray as far as she wants from her own party. I’m not going to force her to play games or indulge in my idea of “fun.” I am simply going to let this wild child just be.

I know her days of finding her place in a society where wildness and freedom are exchanged for obedience and conformity will be long and fast approaching. So for now, I’m going to try to hold onto that strong-willed spark in her eye and her carefree smile as she does something perhaps a little too dangerous or wanders off a little too far. I’m going to let this spirited one just be free for as long as I possibly can.

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Finding Your Tribe

After reading many child development books the last few weeks one thing that has really stuck out to me is the repeated idea that we are social creatures not meant for isolation, in life and in parenting. The world we live in today is constantly being described (especially to psychiatrists and therapists) as lonely and isolating. With so many people relocating to different parts of the country or the world it may feel like the main (if not only) social interaction we have is through social media or technology. And I would venture that nothing is more true for a stay-at-home mom.

When I first came to Texas with Charly I felt so lonely here. Brent’s hours at work felt endless, and I didn’t know anyone with small children that were home during the day. We would clean the house, play every game I could think of, swim, get activities from the dollar store or make things out of what I could find around the house, read books, go to the park, go to the library, or go to the store… with the short attention span of a very small child all of that would get us to about nap time. We still had an entire half of a day left.  It was exhausting and depressing at the same time. I would cry, “I’ll never make any friends here.” I would tell Brent, “I don’t have any way to meet anyone since I don’t work.”

“I’m so bored at home.”

”We can only go to the park and the library so many times in a week.”

Sound familiar?

One thing I’ve noticed since meeting so many amazing moms here is that our stories are much more alike than they are different. Maybe one of the most insteresting things about the isolation of our society today is that we all feel the exact same way. Once you share this feeling of loneliness or desperation for social contact with people you meet, you will often hear your exact feelings echoed back to you. It’s amazing.

So why then, if we all feel the same way about being alone, don’t we live in a big happy community where we’re all best friends, have dinner at each other’s houses, and let our kids run around outside together like something out of a 1950’s sitcom? Well that probably has a lot of answers. One thing that many parents (particularly moms) have attributed to this isolation is our choice of influence on our children’s lives. In the 1950’s people weren’t as particular about who their children were around. It was just life- your kids hung around neighbor kids, schoolmates, cousins. Some you liked, some you didn’t, that’s life. Children may be warned about bad influence, but isolation because of it wasn’t as common. Nowadays we can literally isolate our children from any outside influence but our own in the first five years of life (and beyond if you homeschool) and no one bats an eye at this choice. I think many parents (including myself) will agree there is some benefit to this. If you don’t want your child to eat pixie sticks for breakfast you don’t have to worry about them seeing another kid eating pixie sticks for breakfast if you are choose-y about who you allow them to be around or better yet if they only eat at home they may never even know what a pixie stick is! I’m also not judging you if you let your kid eat pixie sticks for breakfast- okay maybe I am a little, but I’ll still be your friend 😉 You are probably judging me as you watch my kid run around barefoot and eat sand (yes, she really eats sand).   Overall, I think its important to remember we may differ in ideas about nutrition, sleep, appearance, discipline, rules, and values, but we ALL struggle with our kids sometime or another. We’re all struggling as parents and even though we tell ourselves not to judge others’ choices it can be hard to actually practice this.

The many styles of parenting are a huge contributing factor for this isolation. Many parenting groups online have allowed parents to feel solice in their personal choices with their children. However, I’m strongly urging every parent to find these people in real life. I know this is tough for us all to face, but- Is it really benefiting your children (or you) to spend your day on your phone or computer with a virtual “mom tribe” while your kids play alone? I think most of us know it is not, but these Mom (and Dad)  groups can help us feel less isolated and alone when we don’t know anyone in real life. Even spending the day snap chatting your best friends back home (this is how I would often spend my time) can seem to temporarily cure the loneliness, but it doesn’t necessarily help you or your kids in the long run. So while I think these things are is great (and important) I also think it benefits us as moms far more than it benefits our children. It’s one thing to have some hard rules for say drugs or alcohol or anything you absolutely don’t tolerate around your children. But if you find that your issues with other people’s lifestyles or parenting choices is isolating you completely, you may want to try to find a way you can connect in person with others like you or find a way to maintain your own parenting style while still accepting others into your life.

So how do you find your Mom tribe when you literally don’t know anyone in your entire state? Well I can’t speak for everyone or every situation, but here’s what helped me to meet the amazing group of moms in El Paso that I don’t know what I would do without.

 

  1. Facebook Search

Okay, let’s admit we are all on Facebook, like, all the time. So my first successful attempt at making some friends was typing random words in the Facebook search for groups in my area. “El Paso” and words like “moms,” “play dates,” “play groups” etc. You may have to really get creative, because sometimes these groups have super specific names such as mommies instead of “moms” or “west side”  instead of just your city. Also don’t be alarmed or put off if these groups ask you intense questions or want to verify who you are. After all their children are at stake, and they want to be safe. This led me to some amazing summer play dates, potlucks, pool get togethers, and our first zoo trip. Was I nervous I would have nothing in common with these moms? Yes. Was I nervous I would be the “oddball” that didn’t know anyone amongst a group of great friends? Yes. But I can promise you putting yourself out there is always worth it- even if it doesn’t workout 100% of the time. I have made play dates with people that didn’t show up, made excuses to backout last minute, etc. Or worse yet, I’ve posted get-togethers only to have 0 likes or comments. The most dreaded thing to happen in the Facebook world, right?! Especially when you’re putting yourself out there. It’s the internet equivalent of sitting alone at a lunch table. But that’s okay, just keep trying! You will find eventually something works out, and amazing friendships can come from it.  Although many of the ladies I first met this way went back to work in the fall, they are still great friends and a part of some of my fondest memories of my first summer here with my daughter.  Also getting in local Mom groups not meant for play dates is still a great place to ask for activities for kids of various ages, and you can often meetup with the parents who suggest the activity or place!

 

2. Meetup App

Okay, I’m the first to admit I’m terrible with this app, and thus should not be the one to teach others. But it is an amazing resource to finding local play dates and “meet ups.”

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It is free and like Facebook you need to kind of use your creative search skills to find local groups, and these groups are usually heavily screening new members. Some may even require you pay a small fee to join (usually less than $15) or FaceTime someone in the group to weed out the weirdos! I found local meet ups at Whole Foods, a moms and dads group for the west side where I live, and a stroller workout group I never got around to attending since I became pregnant with the twins. Try searching various things and see what you find near you! Once you’re in a group, meet up locations will be posted (such as parks, malls, children’s museums, zoos, or libraries) and you can say you’re attending so they know to look for you!

 

3.  Zumbini

Zumbini, or “baby Zumba” as I call it, is a great way to meet local moms and has been a source of great friendships and fun for my daughter and I. Don’t worry, is not an intense workout class for parents. It is a singing and dancing class for babies and toddlers usually with scarves and instruments. You can search for classes in any area. The downside for this suggestion is it is not free. It is actually a bit pricey, but worth it for us as it goes over a course of about 9 weeks,  and you get the music to take home and listen to digitally and on a CD. Here is the link to find a Zumbini class in your area

Find Zumbini Near You

You can also check to see if you have local trampoline parks, gymnastics, yoga studios, or dance studios that have a designated toddler time or class. Some of these might have an age limit though. The YMCA and park district are also great resources to find classes that might fit the age and interest of your child.

 

4.  The Library

As I mentioned in the beginning of my post, the library did not initially prove to be a great lead to many friendships. The lapsit or storytime classes don’t usually involve much social interaction between the parents. However once I went to other local play dates, meet ups, and our Zumbini class I found that I saw TONS of familiar faces at storytime. This was a great way to start conversations with moms I’ve seen elsewhere. “Hey, don’t I know you from Zumbini?!” Also, it’s a good way to find other moms who live close to you as many people go to the closest library branch to their house. You can ask someone at the circulation desk to provide a list of storytimes to check out- and it’s free!

 

5. Get those digits!

This brings me to my last suggestion, get phone numbers!! Seriously! Think of yourself like a single frat guy in college- the more numbers the more opportunities. (Kidding) But really, this can be hard for us moms, because despite gender roles changing over the years some of us have literally never asked for a phone number in our lives. Again, it can be scary putting yourself out there, but I promise it’s worth it. Remember what I said about most people feeling the exact same way as you? They may even be excited you were the one to ask since they too would love someone to get together with. So once you meet someone from any of the above suggestions, or even just hanging out at the park, don’t be afraid to simply say, “hey can I get your number? We can meet up at the park sometime and the kids can play.” Some of my best friends here came from simply requesting a phone number.

 

 

When Ben was in the hospital recently I received so many sweet words of encouragement and texts from friends checking in on us and asking if we needed anything. I was so overwhelmed with emotion at how far I’d come from the girl crying all last summer that I didn’t know anyone here and never would (okay, so I tend to be a bit dramatic). But I was thinking back on all this and reading so many books about how humans were meant to live in tribes and the importance of tribes of women to help care for new mothers and newborns. I couldn’t help but be so grateful for the many friendships I have now, and I really wanted to encourage other moms to take active steps to find their own Mom tribe. As Alicia Lieberman pointed out in The Emotional Life of a Toddler, “If as a parent you feel as though you can’t do it alone, that’s because you were never meant to.”

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(Sorry to the many many moms not pictured here ❤️ I love you and appreciate you all more than you could ever know!)

 

A Toddler’s Introduction to Games

When my husband and I were in downtown Chicago with Charly we happened upon a game store that was having a closing sale, and I found a kids game called “Think and Roll- Your Childs First Game.” I bought it for her even though she was only 10 months old. Every couple months I’d take it out to try it with her. At first she’d try to bend or throw the cards around, and I’d put it back away and try again in a few more months. Well right around 18 months old she got it. And she LOVED it. We’ve been playing it almost daily since.

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Think and Roll- Your Child’s First Game

How to play: It comes with cards in each of the colors you see above. The child rolls the cube and chooses a card of the corresponding color. Each color follows a theme of sorts; for example, the green cards are all animal sounds and the yellow cards are all emotions. The child then performs the task on the card.

This game teaches so many skills. We have been working on taking turns, the order of operations to perform a task (first roll then draw the card), recognizing colors, recognizing animals, knowing parts of the body, practicing our gross motor skills, practicing counting, acting out emotions, and using verbal skills.

Sometimes she just wants to forget the cube altogether and play with the cards. Sometimes she wants to do all the animal cards then all the find the color cards, etc. Sometimes she wants to find the color card she likes then turn the cube to match it. I usually follow her lead and play the way she wants.

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Since this game was such a hit I decided to try to find another and came across a matching game at Target called Seek-a-boo.

 

 

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Seek-a-boo

How to play: Select a group of 6 circle cards and their corresponding matching drawing cards. Have the child turn over all the circle cards face down and then draw a drawing card.

315D5F1E-A7F0-4D4D-BC23-F9186DFB8C8BThe child then has to try to remember where the corresponding circle card is located. They will chose and flip a circle card over. If it’s not the right image I say, “no try again,” and she flips the circle card back over and chooses again, but if it’s correct I say, “you found a match!” and take both cards. Once all the cards have been chosen you can choose another group of 6 cards to try.

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Each group has a different theme such as clothing, food, animals, etc. The groups are determined by an outer circle color like blue, yellow, purple etc. This game has helped us work on colors, memory, and especially vocabulary! Charly is a bit behind in her speech, and I love how she has learned to say all the words on the food cards already. The downside is then she wants to go in the kitchen to find each food and eat it! (Toddlers are so easily side-tracked!) We even sometimes incorporate gross motor skills by spreading the cards in a huge circle in the living room, and she has to run to each one to check to see if it’s a match.

This has quickly become a new favorite at our house and usually she wants to do every single group of cards! These are my two best recommendations for introducing your 18+ month old to games. We are always looking for new ones to try so please comment with any recommendations you may have!

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My little yogini 🧘🏼‍♀️

Now that I’m five weeks post-partum and my c-section incision is not hurting as much these days, I decided to start slowly incorporating some home exercise with my biggest little.

Off to Target we all went to let her pick out a yoga mat and some 2lb dumbbells. Thanks to the Target app (are they still calling it cartwheel??) we saved 15% on our champion dumbbells.

She also had to have a banana from the “free fruit for kids” section in their food court. I’m not sure if your city or state has it, but you should totally check! They have little baskets at stores with apples, cutie oranges, or bananas free for kids to take while you shop. It’s an amazing initiative that reduces the temptation to open a package of fruit snacks or bag or goldfish to make it through the store. Charly looks forward to it everywhere we go. She had it ONE time when she was having a meltdown at Target. We happened upon the basket when I went to get her some food. Now she knows it’s there and starts saying “nana nana nana” the whole time we’re checking out! How does this tiny young person have such a good memory?!

When we got home I did some searching to see if there were any free yoga videos for small kids, and I stumbled across Cosmic Kids Yoga YouTube channel. Guys, this chick is amazing! She wears kind of a creepy blue jumpsuit, but the videos are just perfect to get your kids involved in yoga.

She has 30 minute themed videos that tell the stories of your kids’ favorite movies like Moana or Frozen. Or for much younger kids, like my Charly (22 months), she has “brain breaks” or single pose videos, which are short five minute videos. For toddlers, I recommend starting with something like the 5 minute Walking Through the Jungle video. Charly loves animals so that one was right up her alley.

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I sometimes follow the videos with her or just do my own thing and stretch out or do a flow for a minute. It’s a great way to get us practicing and moving together.

A35186CB-3160-4F90-8421-76B42CF33747It has also helped with self-care or life skills as we always practice wiping down and rolling up our mats. Charly was unbelievably excited about the yoga bag I had and immediately claimed it as her own.

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As an added bonus, Charly is so excited about yoga she is happy to help clean off the living room floor, get dressed, and put her hair in a pony tail for the day.

 

Two different babies, two different births

My labor with my first was a great experience. It lasted about five hours from my first real contraction at home, after which we hurried off to the hospital, to the time she came out at 5:59 am. This time however we had a similar start but a very different ending.

After being awake for almost forty-five minutes with some cramps, I thought maybe my water had been leaking, and we decided to tell my mom we were heading to the hospital. No sooner did we get outside when the real, intense contractions set in. My husband opened the van door for me to get in, and I was like “no, I can’t… I can’t sit.”

“Um.. okay, what do you mean?”

“I can’t sit. I just can’t, there’s too much pressure…. just open the back door and I’ll kneel on the floor in the back.”

Yep. That’s how we rode the almost thirty minutes to the hospital. With me in the back on my knees, leaning over the seat having contraction after contraction. With him saying, “don’t worry, hang in there. In a few minutes you can have an epidural, and everything will be fine.”

Yes, I was very much looking forward to that.

Once we got there he got a wheel chair and I forced myself to sit as he wheeled me upstairs. The receptionist was taking my information, and I had to loudly breathe and tap the desk with my hand to get through the contractions. It was starting to get so intense. Once we got into the first exam room where they started taking my vitals I thought, “okay, almost there.”

Then the doctor comes in… immediately she is not pleased I want to deliver the twins vaginally. She starts asking, “do you even know if they are head down?”

“Yes.”

“Both of them?”

“Yes.”

I am in pain and starting to get frustrated. It’s a Saturday and my doctor isn’t there. He assured me I could definitely deliver both twins vaginally, and he would even deliver the second one breech if need be because she’s smaller. However, he did warn me he’s only one of two doctors at the hospital willing to deliver twins vaginally. My induction date isn’t until Thursday (at 38 weeks exactly) and now I’m stuck with this lady who clearly is not comfortable delivering twins. I’m getting nervous.

“Well, I’m going to go get an ultrasound machine, and then we can talk about it once we see if they’re head down.”

I’m in so much pain, she hasn’t even checked me yet to see if I’m dilated, and now she’s trying to prove I need to have a c-section. I’m not happy.

She finally gets back with the machine. She puts it on my stomach and says, “I don’t even see baby a’s head.”

I’m getting more and more frustrated.

“We need to lay you back further.”

Basically tilt me upside down on the exam table.

“No, I can’t lay back further. It hurts. I can’t lay back. You need to check me.”

I’m starting to panic.

She finally realizes I’m serious.

“Okay, lets just check to see how far dilated you are first,” she finally says and pushes the machine to the side.

No sooner does she lift up the sheet then I hear her say, “Oh. You’re at about a 9, we need to go.”

I’m furious with this woman.

“I want an epidural,” I tell her.

“Well, I don’t know if there’s going to be any time,” she says shaking her head.

“Yeah, because you’ve been asking me all these questions and messing with the machine instead of checking me!” I snapped back at her. “I want an epidural.”

“The five or six minutes I was talking to you wasn’t going to make a difference,” she told me.

I beg to differ.

The next few minutes were so chaotic. Nurses are prepping me and my husband for the operating room (you have to deliver twins in the operating room in case of an emergency c-section). The doctor agreed to try to get me a spinal. To which I replied, “I don’t want a c-section.”

“You can still deliver vaginally with a spinal,” she says.

I don’t remember much. I do remember a nurse next to me talking to someone saying, “yeah, shes having a c-section.”

I snapped my head around so fast, “I’m not having a c-section!”

I must have startled her. “Oh okay, sorry!” She replied quickly. I remember saying to my husband, “this doctor is going to cut me open. I just know it. I don’t want a c-section.”

I’m in excruciating pain, but finally, a couple of nurses are wheeling me into the OR. Only a few more minutes until I can get a spinal and relax a little.

The OR is very bright and there are tons of people in there. Probably at least eight or ten people. There are several people surrounding me, getting ready to lift me from the portable bed onto the operating table. The man performing the spinal is behind them with a clipboard asking me all the necessary questions. They finally ask if I’m ready to transfer tables. I’m in so much pain I don’t think I can get from one table to the other. But then I think, “okay, the faster I just do this and get it over with the better chance I have of being able to get a spinal before I get too far along.”

They count to three and lift me. As I push myself up, I start screaming. Like blood curdling screams. I can hear the nurses around me frantically saying “breathe! Breathe!”

I finally could catch my breath enough to yell, “he’s coming out!” My body felt like it was thrashing around like the exorcist.

Quickly a few people move to the end of the table and lift the gown, “oh, he is coming out!” I hear someone exclaim.

Everyone is shuffling around so fast. In a matter of seconds I look up to see blood shooting out onto my legs and finally for the first time since getting into the van I felt some relief.

They laid a baby boy on top of my hospital gown. Ben was born at 5:33 am. I look up behind me to see my husband’s eyes full of tears. He’s honestly probably just relieved something much more serious wasn’t happening from the way I was screaming.

The room was buzzing with excitement, and the doctor was yelling for everyone to quiet down. I remember turning to the nurse next to me that had been telling me to breathe and saying, “I’m so sorry for screaming.” She just started laughing. “Don’t be sorry! You just had a baby! That was amazing!”

As they took him away to be cleaned off, my body started involuntarily shaking. Oddly enough though, a lot of the pain of the contractions had dulled and eased. The doctor placed my shaking legs in stirrups. And then after checking me announced that baby b has flipped breech. “I don’t want a c-section,” I stated for what felt like the millionth time. “Can you try to turn her?” I asked.

And with that the doctor tried to reach in and turn her, which was extremely painful since I hadn’t had any medication at all and could feel everything. It took everything in me to keep myself down on the table. She wasn’t able to flip her though.

“Can we just wait and see if she flips?” I then asked.

I could tell by now I was trying the doctors patience.

She let out a sigh, and said “well, we can try to give you the spinal, and then maybe when you relax more I can try to go in and flip her again.”

Okay, yes. I felt relieved like she was actually listening to me for the first time since I had gotten there.

Well, I obviously couldn’t sit up to have the spinal put in, so they had my roll on my side, and a nurse asked me to try to curl myself around her body. Easier said then done when you’re trying to hold a baby in. “I’m scared she’s going to come out,” I said.

“Don’t worry, she’s not going to come out,” the nurse assured me. “You’re doing great just hug me as tight as you can.” She continued to speak so sweetly and encouragingly to me through the whole process.

Can I pause a minute just to say, thank God for the amazing people that go into the nursing profession. It’s incredible to me that I don’t know any of their names, I will never probably see them again, and I don’t know if they will ever remember me, but they made such a huge impact for me during this scary and stressful time. They are women I don’t even know but will never ever forget. I’m so thankful for their profession.

Unfortunately, despite all of the amazing help from the nurse, they stuck me four or five times and couldn’t get the spinal in. When that failed, the doctor finally announced they were going to have to put me out with general anesthesia and cut me open to get the baby out. Basically, the worst possible scenario in my eyes was about to become a reality. I immediately began pleading with the doctor to just wait a little longer to see if she flips. “One leg is up by her head and one leg is down. I can’t risk her coming out like that,” she said.

Next thing I know there was a woman above me grabbing my neck and shoving a mask down hard on my face. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Brent being ushered out of the room.

The doctor started yelling at the anesthesiologist telling her “wait, wait” and I heard her yelling back at the doctor but couldn’t make out what she was saying. I started to panic again. I began pushing up against her hand and the mask. She was fighting it back down on my face. I finally shoved it hard off of me and told her “stop! The doctor is telling you to wait.” She told me, “I’m putting the mask back on your face, don’t take it off again.” And that was the last thing I remember.

I woke up to a strange sound. It took several moments for me to realize it was the sound of my teeth chattering. As I started to become more alert I realized my whole body was shaking like a jackhammer. My abdomen was in so much pain I just wanted to relax my muscles, but I was shaking so bad I couldn’t. This was an unpleasant surprise. I never imagined to wake up in more pain than I went to sleep in. I was so ready for this to be over. I just wanted some relief. “Can I get an epidural now?” I thought.

Finally a nurse came in and through chattering teeth I said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I can’t stop shaking.”

“It’s okay she said, I’ll give you something for it.” No sooner did she put something into my IV then the shaking all seemed to instantly stop. After some conversation between the nurses in the room I realized I was in the ICU, and they were looking for Brent to bring him in there.

Then the doctor stopped in the room to ask how I was doing and apologize. “I know it didn’t go the way you wanted, but I couldn’t risk her legs breaking. Things were happening fast and you felt pressure, and I couldn’t let her come out like that,” she said. “Both of the babies are doing well. He he had a bit of bruising on his face from coming out so fast, but it will go away,” she continued. “We’re going to find your husband and bring him in.”

Then not long after that the anesthesiologist came in to apologize as well. “I’m sorry if you thought I was being rough with you. Everything was happening so fast, and I had to make sure you were out and didn’t feel anything. I know it seemed like I was being mean, but it’s my job to make sure we put you out in time.”

Finally, after what felt like forever Brent walked into the room. My voice was so hoarse and my throat so dry I could barely talk. His eyes filled with tears again. “Are you okay?” He asked. I nodded and smiled at him and managed to ask where our babies are. Turns out he had been in a room with them both the whole time. “How is our baby girl?” I asked. “Is she okay?”

“Yeah she’s okay. She was 5 pounds 4 ounces. She was born at 5:59 am exactly the same as Charly. I texted everyone her name is Amelia Grace. So if you want to change it I’ll have to text everyone back.”

I started to laugh. We had struggled for nine long months with this poor little girls name. Weeks ago we had decided on Anna then a few days before I went into labor we went back to Amelia.

“No baby, I like it,” I said.

“Oh and they both had formula since they didn’t know when you would be awake. They asked me if it was okay, and I didn’t know so I said yes. Was that okay?”

I just laughed again at the worried look on his face. Our poor husbands can be so worried about doing the wrong thing when it comes to the kids. “Yeah baby, that’s okay.”

Fortunately it wasn’t long before they were ready to take me out of the ICU and into the room to be with my babies. I finally got to hold them both for the first time.

Overall, the whole thing was a bit of a traumatic event for me. I later learned that we had only left the house at 4:47 am and Ben came out at 5:33 am and Mia came out at 5:59 am. So despite it seeming like an eternity of painful and chaotic events the whole thing only lasted a little over an hour. I would never want to go through anything like that again, but it is really hard to complain when I see this photo and think back on how lucky we are to have two beautiful healthy babies that we went home with two days later.

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Surprise- it’s twins!

All the time I am asked, “so were you surprised when you found out it was twins?”

Sometimes I just nod and smile and say yes to the inquiring strangers, but oddly enough my answer is “not really.”

When my husband came back from a deployment in March we decided we wanted to start trying for baby number two. And sadly our first attempt resulted in a “chemical pregnancy” or in other words a very early miscarriage. As our daughter’s first birthday came and went we found ourselves expecting again.

I felt so very, very tired and despite only being a few weeks along I found my belly pouching out a bit (they say you show earlier the second time around) and found myself hating all smells and getting migraines constantly. I couldn’t believe the way my hormones were wreaking havoc with my body so early on!

Then while not so patiently awaiting our first 8 week appointment to see our little fetus, I had a dream. I was on Shark Tank (the popular show where people go on with ideas for inventions and businesses), and I was demonstrating to the panel a device I created that hooks two shopping carts together. I had my minivan parked in front of them, and I was showing them how I get my shopping carts and use my invention to hook them together then put one twin car seat in one shopping cart, the other twin car seat in the shopping other cart, and then my toddler in the front and push our great big family into the store! …. wait, what? I woke up with my head reeling. That was strange I thought. I remember telling my husband and laughing it off.

It was only a few weeks later we were in Babies R Us shopping for a baby shower, and I found myself asking him “I wonder if they even sell triple strollers here?” I think he looked at me like I had two heads. “Well let’s just look I said, you never know.” They indeed do not sell triple strollers in-store there. But the point is in the weeks to come I just found myself thinking, “what are we going to do?”

“I’m going I have to get a new car,” I thought. Get a new car? I hadn’t even been to the doctor!! I was even starting to think that I had lost my mind. As the appointment became only days away I was snap chatting my best friend, and in a moment of desperation I asked, “when you were pregnant did you ever seriously worry that they were going to tell you it was twins?”

I wanted her to say this was all normal, not crazy at all. It was probably a common worry all women had, right? Unfortunately, my friend said no she did not ever really think that. Nor did I think that with my first for that matter. Okay, so maybe I was losing it a little bit. I know I was making my husband lose it anyway. He finally came home from work one day and sat on the couch and said, “so I was thinking about it all the way home from work, and I think you’re right it is going to be twins. I just know it.” And I laughed and said, “yeah, I know.” And he said, “no really, it is.” And again, I nodded and said, “yeah, I know.”

Finally, the day of  our doctors appointment arrived and we both couldn’t have been more anxious. As I laid on the table and the doctor performed the ultrasound my husband and toddler sat near my head and the doctor had the screened turned away from us. After such a long time that I began to panic there was something terribly wrong, he muttered the word, “interesting” while still staring at the screen.

My husband’s eyes became wide. “There’s only one in there right…” He asked jokingly.

“Well, actually, no.” The doctor finally said. “There’s two.” Then after a moment the nurse said to my husband in disbelief, “how did you know?!”

A smile spread across my face and we both started to laugh. Was I surprised? Well, not really. A little surprised I was right all along and not completely crazy. Mostly just relieved I wasn’t completely crazy. 800DB0EA-E1E2-4315-8602-80FEBD766819This was really happening after all.