Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bringing It Back - The Birth Story

As I started this blog after the boys were born, I wanted to add this story, as it was most fresh when I wrote this (about a week after they were born).

Warning: It's a bit of a Novel. (And I haven't bothered to go over and edit anything)

November 6th, 2010

This is the story of Micah J's EARLY arrival, and the loss of our precious Jeremiah.

To catch everyone up, I was pregnant with identical twin boys. They were considered Mo-Di twins where they shared a placenta, had seperate sacs (and therefore had their own amniotic fluid) but were incased in the same outer layer, which is called a Chorion if I remember correctly. Up to the day before I left Okinawa on 3 Sep 2010 the boys were doing fantastically as revealed in my 22wk ultrasound. There were no issues to be reported, nothing of concern. I came to the states and had to dick with my *wonderful* Tricare insurance system working to get a referral to the dang OBGYN which took FOREVER. I wasn't able to get an appt until I had been here for 6 wks, and my specialist ultrasound wasn't scheduled until November 1st! All along however, no one ever felt any major concern, no feeling of impending doom. Prepare to be blindsided.

Cameron got here from Okinawa on October 16th, and we went to my first OB appt here in the states on the 18th. All seemed well. Doc used a doppler to get the heart beats of each boy, and they were pretty much the same on each side, as they had been in earlier ultrasounds. I told him about how I was feeling, AKA miserable. I couldn't hardly back hurt, my pelvis hurt, I couldnt stand for short periods of time. etc etc etc...I was miserable but that was to be expected being small and expecting twins. I was 29 weeks that day and my uterus was measuring 33.

Two days later I noticed I was having a lot of braxton hicks contractions. I wasn't worried but I was having way more than 4 an hour despite drinking water. We went to L&D and they hooked me up to monitors, sure enough I was contracting. Had a hard time keeping both babies on monitors, they could only get just one at a time and then it would move and pick up my pulse and it was just a lot of chasing babies. That was expected for twins and my gestation, small babies can move around a ton. They did a swab to detect some protein or something that predicts whether or not I would go into labor in the next 7 days. After 2 more hrs it came back negative. I wasn't dilated at all. They made me chug more fluids and sent me home and just told me to watch it.

Meanwhile, I have gotten more and more miserable. I was in so much ligament pain it was excrutiating at times. I couldnt lay down AT ALL. My stomach seemed to have doubled in size in under two weeks. My skin hurt, my muscles hurt. My right ribs HURT so bad. I couldnt sleep between the ribs ligament and back pain. The only relief I could find was when my mom turned down her hot tub and I could be weightless. I noticed some decrease in movement, I wasnt getting as many kicks as before but I chalked it up to have two squished babies. I still felt plenty of movement. Everything said with twins expect them to move less as time went on and so I was not concerned as it said it right there "in the books". 2-3hr night sleeps (1hr at a time if I was lucky) was taking it's toll. I was miserable and I felt DONE. I was by far larger than I was with my son at 41 weeks.

Wednesday, October 27th rolls around, exactly one week since I had gone into L&D previously. Out of desperation I went to the chiropractor. It was such a relief. I even felt little Micah drop down into my pelvis. I no longer had a waddle. 3 hrs later I noticed I had contractions that were becoming more frequent. All along I had been chuggin water to keep them away. Water was not working. Around 3pm I noticed they were pretty frequent. Between 6-8 minutes. A little later they were getting closer to 5 but still irregular. My mom and I headed over to my house and on the drive I was watching the clock and they would literally hit every 5 minutes. They were feeling crampy too, lower down in my pelvis. I knew they felt like real ones...and I wasn't going to be able to sleep at all that night. I called my doctor's office and they paged him, but I didnt hear anything back for 1.5hrs so I called again, and they tried 3 more times, where the nurse called me back often to see if my doctor had contacted me. He hadn't so she tried another way to get ahold of him. 5th time was a charm and he wanted me in L&D right away to get checked.

At this point it's almost 11pm and we get to the hospital. My doctor was on call so it was nice to have him there. He checked me pretty much as soon as I got there. And wouldn't you know it, I was dilated 1-2cm and 50% effaced. They told me then I had to stay there 24 hrs, I needed a steriod shot for their lungs, most likely would be put on magnesium...and most likely end up being on hospital bed rest until I delivered. I started to cry, as I didn't want to be trapped there. I didn't want to miss out on Isaac, and I was Oh so very uncomfortable in the hospital bed. Especially when I had to lay down. All the while my husband is at home with Isaac, both asleep, but my mom was with me and we decided not to wake him up to tell him.

Then came the fun stuff. They strapped me up to be monitored. They could only get the one baby's heartbeat picking up on both monitors (again). So they brought a little ultrasound and would find the heart and mark a spot on my stomach where the heart was and put the monitor over it, but still would only get the one or my heart rate/pulse. They tried for hours to get them on track, and just when they think they did one would disappear or both would our they would be the same. They just gave up and decided to keep tracking with the ultrasound for a while and try again later. Then came the steroid shot for the lungs. By far the worst poke of the 800 stickings I had the whole time. A shot right in my butt and it STUNG so bad. Then they hooked me up to an IV, which took 4 different people and 5 different tries. They put my on fluids and then magnesium to stop contractions. I had been freezing and shaking this whole time, only to have the mag make me feel like my face was melting off. My ears were burning, my face was hot, I felt like I was in an oven for waaay to long. I held ice in my hands just to make it cool. Not to mention the whole time I couldn't eat a thing. The mag gave me major dry mouth and I just wanted to drink something soooo bad. I was hungry and thirsty. No fun. The goal for me at that point was to stop contractions.

28 OCT - Morning rolled around, I think I slept one hour. Cameron got the update that I was stuck there, contracting etc. The docs wanted me to get another steroid shot at 24hrs after the first, so around 1am again later that night (thursday). Magnesium had slowed my contractions a little, but they did not go away like they should. The same swab test I had had the week before came back positive this time. The nurses were still having a rough time keeping the boys on the monitors.

Cameron arrived and my mom and him swapped Isaac and now he was with me. The perinatologist office came up to get a biophysical profile of the boys, to see how they were doing overall. It was just a tech and she had a hard time figuring out where baby b - Jeremiah - was. She went and talked to the actual doctor and he brought up his bigger machine to check it out. He started taking measurements of baby A, Micah. I saw some measurements that read around 31 weeks (I was 30 weeks 3 days). At this point everyone, my husband, the peri tech, my nurse, and the doctor were all around my bed. The tech said something about how she couldn't figure out how baby b was positioned. The doc said "because he's stuck". I didn't know what that meant but I wanted to say how could he be stuck if he's always moving from the monitors? He then had me roll to my left side so he could get more on my side. I asked Cameron how his measurements looked. He said he didn't see them. (He did, he just didn't want to tell me what they were).

So a few minutes pass and the doc turns off his machine and started with "I wish I had better news for you." My heart sank, but I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know what he was going to say. I expected bad news, obviously, but more of the, one twin isn't doing as well as the other type of news. Not what I was about to hear. He continued, "Baby A is alive and well." I held my breath. "Baby B is not, there is no heartbeat." I then argued with him a little. How could that be? How come I feel him move. We kept seeing him move on the ultrasounds just hours before. How does he not have a heart beat now? The doctor then explained to me that what actually had happened is that our precious Jeremiah had passed on WEEKS ago, 2-4 he said. Micah was then getting twice the amount of blood flow and fluids from the placenta, which had diverted from giving Jeremiah his share, called Twin to Twin transfusion. Micah therefore was swimming in a giant pool of amniotic fluid. The babies we thought they were seeing on the ultrasound was just always him. Jeremiah had been pushed up into my ribs (hence my discomfort), without hardly any fluid around him, and so all we were seeing was Micah. So all along they thought they were having a hard time keeping both on the monitors, they were only tracking one, and he could move so easy he would move away. Even the doppler at my last doctor's appointment had really just picked up Micah's heartrate.

(UPDATE: turns out the more likely passing of Jeremiah occured about 10-21 days prior, as an estimate and he may have still been alive for my doctors appointment on the 18th. However, I did notice the decrease in movement around the time Cameron came home---as this was when I started to get miserable and my ribs began to hurt like they were---so I think I would put the timing of his passing around the time i felt him in my ribs. We will never truly know)

I didn't know what to do. I was in shock. I cried...but I was in brain and heart did not believe it. Just yesterday I was expecting two bouncing baby boys. It all changed in an instant. I thought I was dreaming. I wished I was dreaming. It turns out my L&D nurse had the same experience I was having. She was pregnant with twin girls, one passed away at 26 weeks (and they knew pretty much right away because she was being monitored due to complications) and ended up giving birth at 31 weeks. Her babies were fraternal and therefore did not share a placenta so not a twin to twin transfusion, but still, she knew pretty much EXACTLY what I was going through and what I would go through. Her daughter is now 16 months old. It's a gift that God had her there for me, someone who REALLY knows what it's like to lose a twin AND have a baby so early preterm.

The past 2 weeks I had gotten HUGE (and miserable, remember?). Well this was because of the increased blood flow and resulting amniotic fluid. I had what was called polyhydramnios--too much fluid. And it happened FAST. The magnesium had failed to stop my labor. I was contracting and they had checked me sometime that morning and I was at 3-4 cm. I knew this was it. My body was going to have these babies whether the docs tried to or not. Fortunately, now that we knew what was really going on and how much stress the extra blood flow and fluid was putting on poor Micah's body having him soon was actually a GOOD thing. He was better off outside than inside, because his heart and organs were at max capacity. (Turns out now we know that this extra work caused his lower heart chambers to be thicker than normal--but still fully functioning). Now all they really wanted was to give him that second dose of steroids. I knew I wouldnt make it the full 24 hrs. My labor with Isaac was so fast (4.5hrs) and the only difference was my water hadn't yet broke. It would have gone much faster then. The gave me a catheter hoping to ease pressure off my cervix but instead it did the opposite. My contractions were getting stronger by 2pm and I said I needed my epidural. I was not in that much pain yet, but it was getting worse and I did not want to wait around. I hoped it would slow my labor. And more than anything I did not want to have to be in any physical pain during labor, facing the hugely emotional and tragic ordeal coming my way---and already there. This day was far too painful already. The anesthesiologist was in a C-Section so it took about an hr. At which point I was 6cm and I was getting very irritated hoping I wouldnt have to go through this with pain. Fortunately my labor had slowed a little, and he came on time. I got the epidural and I felt much more content. They came to give me the steroid shot and lo and behold I didn't feel a dang thing.

I had many visitors coming to offer support in this hard time. I was trying hard to not let myself "go there" knowing what I was about to face. I was about to not only deliver my babies 10 weeks early, 7 weeks pre-term, but I was having to deliver my stillborn son. Not something you want do or ever think you would have to. Birth is supposed to be amazing and exciting, full of life and joy. In my case....I was facing both. I was exciting to meet Micah but scared for his wellbeing...and devastated for how I would not get the same for my little boy Jeremiah. I had to stay strong. I needed to be strong and deal with my emotions later.

Then came a point where they thought it was just time to get him out. He started showing slight signs of distress during my contractions and they figured it need to happen soon. They considered starting me on pitocin to get things rolling. Or trying to break my water. I had the nurse check me again and it turned out was was practically fully dilated and that having a 30wk baby I didnt really need to be completely at 10cm, so they decided to tell the doctor it was ready. I had to deliver in the OR, which is normal for twins but in my case that didn't matter quite as much as the fact that the OR shared a door with the NICU so they could wisk him away as soon as he was born.

They wheeled me away, Cameron helping all dressed in his OR outfit. They brought me in and rolled me onto the other bed. Set up some stuff, put on stirrups that looked like hockey pads. I fortunately had the PERFECT epidural. I could not feel pain, but I had completely control of my legs and I could even lift myself up. Thank you Lord for that. They got all prepped...NICU people, anesthesiologist, nurses, doc, husband. I starred up at the giant light surrounded by mirrors. I cracking jokes along the way...trying to stay positive. The doc did a quicky ultrasound to make sure Micah was head down, and sure enough there was a head. So they told me to do one push. The nurse and the doctor were all impressed by how "awesome of a pusher" I was. She then said she was going to break the water, expecting it to be Micah's. Instead she said there was green in it, suggesting Meconium in the fluid which wasn't fantastic news. One more push later and it turned out that somehow Jeremiah made his way out first, despite being initially tucked up in my ribs. At 8:03 pm he came right out and they held him up to cut the cord. His umbilical cord was all swirled up tight near his belly, which could of been one reason why he had lost flow from the placenta. I was not prepared to see what I saw...and at first I just shut down, but now looking back at it, it's still precious... I'm glad I got to see him, regardless of how he looked. He's still my son and I still gave birth to him. I was still glad that I didn't know it was him who I was pushing...I think it made it less emotional for me to have ignorance in that.

Once they took him away the doc again did another ultrasound to check where Micah's head was. It was a concern that since he was A) in so much fluid he could do summersaults easy and be breech in seconds and B) Jeremiah coming first may have pushed Micah to turn breech. But thankfully he was also head down. The doctor then got buckets to prep to break my water. [There is a thing they call AFI, Amniotic Fluid Index, where they measure 4 pockets of amniotic fluid on ultrasound and add them up to see what your AFI is. Normal is usually 10-20, 8 being pretty low for normal, 22 being about as high as they really want to see. When I had them done with Isaac his AFI was normally about 14 or so. The doctor however estimated that Micah's AFI, fluid for just him alone, was a 50! yeah.] So she got the hook and said here we go, and out game a river of fluid. It sounded like someone pouring a 5 gallon bucket of water. It seriously was like a waterfall. The doctor jumped back at first and my water kept coming at force for over a minute. Just when you thought it was done it would keep on coming. The doctor and nurses and my husband were all in awe. I said "Thank God, I had to pee so bad!" Seriously, I felt the pressure release and it felt amazing to have my lungs back again. The whole time the doc was also trying to keep Micah's cord from coming out first and had the nurse push behind him to keep him from turning.

Once the water stopped gushing she asked if I was ready to push.I pushed once and he went into the birth canal. I felt pressure and had to push again, so she let me do my own pushes (no one counting I just did what I needed to). I pushed one more time and at that point I was crowning, my body was pushing him down on its own (contractions were one on top of the other). She had me wait so the NICU people could get ready, so breathed hard trying so hard not to push, be he still kept coming. She said "ready or not he's coming!" So they said they were ready and she told me to push once more and out he came. At 8:09 pm She held him up to cut his cord. He looked so long, longer than I expected. His eyes were closed and mouth wide open but no crying or attempts to. I expected that. He was dark but not blue. They took him away right to the NICU where they got him breathing and put on a ventillator. They also go him all hooked up and gave him suffactant, which is produced naturally later in term, to prepare his longs and soften them so he could use them to breathe.

I then delivered the placenta and she showed me how the vessels look and where the umbilical cords were attached. I did well for my delivery, no complications, no tears, no nothing. They got me back on my other bed to take me back to my room after cleaning me up. Cameron stayed with the nurse who had Jeremiah. I came back and then felt more emotional. So much had just transpired. I was not pregnant...but empty handed. I finally let myself feel some emotions.

Shortly after I got to my room and all situated Cameron came back and they brought Jeremiah in all wrapped up in blankets. But I will share that story some other time...this one is long enough as it is. But just know that I did get to hold my precious boy. I got to feel the weight of his body in my arms. And I got to cry.

Once my epidural wore off enough and I went to the bathroom like they wanted I was able to be wheeled in a chair to see Micah. That was the moment where my devastation turned to joy. Two completely polar opposite emotions that I have to deal with hand in hand, every hour of every day.

Jeremiah Colton Settle, born sleeping (but alive with the Lord) at 8:03 pm on October 28th weighing 2lbs .7oz and 15in long

Micah J Carson Settle, born at 8:09pm on October 28th weighing 3lbs 6oz and 15.4 in long

They were born at 30 weeks and 3 days gestation.

One of my last pictures of me pregnant - October 17th, 2010 

About to Roll into the OR for Delivery - Putting on my Game Face

Holding My Sweet "Sleeping" Jeremiah

Micah J - October 28, 2010
(Holding Daddy's Finger)

The Boys Together - Eternity Cannot Come Soon Enough

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dear October

Hi October, I see you around the bend. It appears as though you are on your way here and time just wont slow down. I know I normally welcome you with wide open arms, practically rushing you in the door--for I love your colorful leaves and your crisp clean air. The problem is, October, you now carry with you a heavy burden, at least in my life. I cannot truly enjoy your colorful leaves without remembering those same leaves that painted the trees and dusted the sidewalks in the parking lot of the hospital where my sons were born.  I cannot feel the cool crispness of your air without re-living that night that we walked into the hospital heading to L&D, bundled in sweaters and scarves.

More than anything, October, you remind me of what I have lost and what I have been through. You remind me that this time last year, my son was still alive in my womb. You remind me that in a month from then, he was not. You remind me that my arms are still empty and my heart is not completely healed. You remind me that I am missing my son.  October, you remind me that it was real, IS real--that this is my life from now on. As long as I am on this earth, October, you will remind me of my Jeremiah Colton and our great loss. 

Although I have healed, it is not complete. Although it is no longer raw, it still hurts. Although much time has passed, I feel the pain that I thought had left me. Although I know my son is in heaven with the Lord, he is still not with me. Although it has been nearly a year, I cannot forget what it was like to deliver and see my son---lifeless and without smiles and warmth.  Although it has been nearly a year I will never forget how it felt to hold him in my arms.

October, I know one day it wont hurt as bad and you will comfort me once again. But for now, please forgive me as I do my best just to survive the next few weeks to come---at the moment it nearly seems unbearable.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't Pee on Dad!

I dedicate this blog to all parents. All loving, caring, PATIENT parents who know how to roll off the stress and tireless work that is parenting. We, the sleep-deprived sub-species, are able to survive day to day because we love our snarky ungrateful little sweeties. I would say one of the best things about being a parent is that you have the good fortune of speaking phrases you never knew existed until your children did. Case in point:

"Please stop coloring on the table with your apple."

"Spit that dog food out of your mouth!"

"Please don't park your cars on my boobs anymore, thanks."

"No, we don't pick babies up by their heads."

"Stop eating DOG FOOD!"

"Don't Pee on Dad!"  (haha better him than me!)

"Is this your poop?"

"We don't eat lotion."

"We don't eat bubbles!"

"Faces aren't ticklish."

"Yucky, please don't lick the dishwasher."

"Isaac, did you pee on the stairs?"

"Do. not. bite. the. dog!"

"Sorry honey, we can't put stickers on our eyes."

And these are just some off the top of my head. I know I've said many many more things that caught me off guard as they left my mouth. Isaac has just started talking so I'm just now entering the world of our kiddo's laughable quotes and questions.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What's in a Name?

A name is just a name. I can guarantee you very few people in this world, if any, have a unique one only to themself. (Yes, I am aware that "themself" is not really a word, but it sounds way better than His/herself in this case---either way, I digress). So why then does a name envoke so many emotions?

A close family member just gave birth to a precious baby boy, and they named him Colton. Colton---Jeremiah's middle name. I don't know why I was so struck by this--or maybe I do. I didn't want to react the way I did. But all the grief of the last 9 months that I have neglected to tend to, due to chasing a toddler and caring for a baby...rushed through my soul like a flash flood after heavy rains. Colton. Just a middle name. "Just". What most people don't know is that when I picked out my boy names, they were Micah and Colton. We chose our naming trend to be first name Hebrew/Biblical name and middle name to be Scottish/Irish--and starting with a C for the boys. Hence Isaac Cameron. When I found out I was having twins, and boys at that I knew without a doubt that one boy was to be Micah. The other was debatable. My husband wanted Eli or Elijah and I felt strongly that this baby was to be named Jeremiah--a name chosen by God. I then wanted to make sure that both boys got one of my "favorite" names. So we settled on Micah Carson & Jeremiah Colton. I fought for that name. Cameron said Colton sounded too much like The Colts (which was part of the reason I liked it--hey, I'm a true Colts fan to the core.) Either way, I fought for my right to chose the names, after all I was the one carrying them.

So there are my boys names. Isaac Cameron. Micah Carson. Jeremiah Colton.  In all my day dreaming and expectations of my preciously adorable twin boys, the plan was to call Jeremiah by his middle name. I've known people who go by their middle names all along. So on a daily basis, he would be Colton. My Colton. His "official" name might have been Jeremiah, but Colton was to be his cuddle-bug name. My little Mr. Micah and Silly Mr. Colton. Two boys. Two adorable twin boys, mirror images of each other and virtually inseperable.......

Yet separated they were. Something no mother should ever have to endure. Something no TWIN should have to endure! And, by virtue of the situation, the God-sanctioned name of Jeremiah became eerily and comfortingly appropriate. In hindsight, I know now why it was so important that God chose that name. By his name of Jeremiah, we were led to Bible verses like Jeremiah 29:11. It held so much revelance to our circumstance, to our grief. It gave us hope in times of great distress and sadness. So as my hopes, dreams, and ideas of what would be to come, my little Micah & Colton would never come to be the way I expected it. The way it SHOULD have been. Instead, I have my little Micah J (the J in remembrance of his brother) and my heavenly son Jeremiah Colton.

So, I am fully aware that I don't own a name. Colton is a great name, I mean it was one of my favorites afterall. It does hurt a little, that I wasn't warned before hand, and I guess they may not have even known.  I can't blame anyone for the emotions that name envokes. I don't want this to be an ongoing source of pain. But I can't help to feel what I feel. It's all just a sad, jolting reminder that my Jeremiah Colton is not with me, with us. How my Colton never came to be. What I have of him are the memories of his kicks, the images of his ultrasounds, the pictures of his sleeping body with his tiny preemie brother, what it felt like to hold his tiny 2lb body bundled in blankets so close that day (a memory I NEVER want to forget), his ashes tightly enclosed in a box with a carving of twin boys together, and a name---his name. My little hand & foot print neckless is precious, and I wear them around my neck often.

 My little Jeremiah Colton. You never got be my little-snuggle-bug-cutie-patootie-stud-man-Colton. I never got to smell your new baby smell, or feel your soft baby fresh skin. I never got to see that smile and beautiful blue eyes (I fortunately know how beautiful they should of been, since your identical twin has those very same heart melting eyes). You will always be my son, even if God got to raise you instead of me. Your name, I will NEVER forget, and your name will ALWAYS hold special meaning to me, your dad, grandparents and your brothers.

I truly wish the best to baby Colton and his family. Baby boys are precious, and the birth of your first is such an amazing lifetime occassion.  Much Love & Congratulations to you all.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

My, Oh My.

My, Oh My have they grown. My, oh my has time gone by. My, oh my do I HATE my old crappy laptop! So I figured that this title suffices for this post. It really has been much too long since I actually posted a blog. It's not to say that I haven't had probably a hundred various things to blog about since June 3rd, I can guarantee you I have wanted to write a slew of blogs on various topics. Turns out that we are cursed by the computer gods and we do not have a functioning computer on hand, and therefore blog writing becomes quite tricky. I am forced to venture online via my ancient Dell, whose battery life is about 15 minutes, on a good day, weighs about 10lbs (as a laptop) and aside from having an old demented brain with less than 40GB memory, the AC input is shot and therefore my laptop has flickering lapses between battery life and wall power. Needless to say I think I may lose my mind or at least develop epilepsy from this flicking screen. I hate to submit myself to this kind of torture for the sake of a blog post. And as much fun as it might sound, typing up a blog post on a touch screen android tablet is really quite a pain. Unless you want a 5 sentence blog post then I can probably conjur one up for ya.

Yet today is the anniversary of my first ultrasound with the twins, and the day we found out. Micah & Jeremiah turned 8 months just a few days ago. I feel like I should say a few words. 

I felt kind of bleh all day. To be honest, the passing of their 8 month milestone has me realizing that shortly I will be celebrating their 1st birthday. And between now and then--many more 1st anniversaries will come---for example, when we found out they were indeed identical twin boys. Or...well...just all those sweet sweet memories that come around with a kiss and a sting.  It really isn't easy.  I may seem like I am handling it all well, which I am, but it doesn't mean that I don't hurt or that I have moved on.  I may be fully living my life as a mom of two on earth, and continuing to enjoy my life, but I will always, ALWAYS miss and love my sweet little boy Jeremiah. I really could go on and on, but I don't want to.

Today was the anniversary of the day we found out it was indeed twins. It was incredible. It was scary. It was fun. I was FREAKED out! I just could not believe that I, Madeline Rose, would and was a mother of twins! Who knew? And more importantly the idea of twin pregnancy scared the stretchmarks off me (I wish haha).  What a fun and memorable day. I guess I'm glad I didn't know what was to come. That a year away I would have gone through so much pain and loss. That only one of those babies would survive to live in this world. That one of them I would hold only for a short a while on his birthday and would never get to see him grow before my eyes. That they would have to grow up apart.

As much as I'd like to or not like to, I think I'll just end it there. I am very blessed to have my kids and have Micah growing and doing so well. Isaac is a great big brother. They are both just so much fun. Miss you and love you Jeremiah Colton! Can't wait to hold you close!

I promise I will stop with the sad posts and start with more fun ones...providing we get our new laptop back in the near future. :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Hate it When People Are Right

At least, I hate it when they are right about this.  Over our journey with the birth of Micah & Jeremiah I met many women (one of which was my nurse in Labor and Delivery) who had experienced twin loss. They all said that over the course of the first year their grief crept in on them more and more. They all said that initially you are so busy caring for your needy (usually preemie) baby that grief gets shoved to the side. Then, once things get easier it finds its way back in.

Well. They were right.  I feel like we have done leaps and bounds in recovering from our tragedy. Micah is doing well and is starting to achieve more and more milestones. He is already 7 months old. The raw wounds have healed somewhat from the shock and loss of our precious Jeremiah. I am doing ok. I can laugh. I can smile. I am enjoying life.

But all along there is an unmistaken void. A face that is not there to admire and adore. A set of two beautiful blue eyes to get lost in. A smile that is not there to melt your heart. I little bald head that I cannot kiss. Little rosy red lips whose coos and squeals are not echoing in the house. 10 little sharp baby nails that are not there to scratch me when they get to long.  No extra tooshy to wipe and change. No belly to tickle. And when Micah looks to joyfully at his reflection in the mirror, he sees not his own reflection, but that of his identical brother Jeremiah.

Not one single day goes by that I do not see double when I am playing and caring for Micah. I don't know how much Micah feels the loss of his brother. It's really hard to say. He can't speak for himself so there is no way of really knowing. I do however think that he does feel incomplete. He just wants to be held 24/7 and I feel like that is his way of coping. The fact that he is SO into people is just one other way that makes me think he needs that interaction. Any twin or parent of twins knows that they need each other, they are happier together---especially Identicals.

I know I am blessed to at least know what Jeremiah would one day grow to look like. Boy, would those two boys be some serious heartbreakers! Micah is so adorable I can only imagine how much more it would be with two. Oh how I wish I could see Jeremiah's personality bloom. See him reach his own milestones. See them together---the way it should of been.

I really don't care for the "well it would of been a lot more work with two" kind of comments. I know people are trying to make me feel better, like maybe less work is a helpful trade off or something. I just don't care for any hint or suggestion that anything would make it better than having them both alive and well. And still, there are always people out there that think I am blessed because "at least I have one".  Sorry but I'm pretty sure if one of your kids was stillborn you wouldn't want someone pointing to your 3 year old and saying "well at least you have her." No child's life can make up for the loss of another. Anyways...I am rambling. I guess I am starting to feel a magnified sense of loss now that I am beginning to enjoy Micah's progress. 

I really really really wish I could hold my baby boy just one more time. It's been over 7 months since I felt the weight of his small body in my arms. I still feel like I should have them both. Together.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nobody Ever Said Marriage Was Easy

And if anyone did then they are either unmarried, about to marry, or one of those .002% of couples who have total marital bliss.  For that, I feel I should be honest to the best of my ability, and not to sugar coat this. I think many people who go through what we have been through may find comfort in knowing they are not alone and not unique.

It shouldn't come as a surprise (but maybe it will to some) but having gone through everything that we have been through in this past year and less, our marriage took a serious toll. I remember reading once that it was about 70% of married couples who lose a child end up getting a divorce. Initially I thought that idea was ubsurd--I mean how could you go through something so heartwrenching as losing a child and then see your entire family crumble to pieces? It's not those first moments that usually tear you apart. It's what is said, not said, done and not done over the next few days, mostly weeks, and then months that are what start to create a wedge.

Having a child already can put a bit of strain on the marriage.  Sleepless nights, exhausted mommiess and daddiess, disagreements about parenting methods (yes-even those ones about how to change a diaper or WHO is to change the diaper for that matter), and the general change of lifestyle make a noticeable impact on the relationship you once had with your spouse. Add anything else into the mix and you have a recipe for conflict.

 In our case we already had a son who was just over a year when I got pregnant again. I end up being pregnant with twins which put a considerable amount of burden on my body well before the belly started to bulge. From that point it only continued to get more challenging. I started to rely on Cameron's help more and more as the babies grew within and I was no longer able to safely do typical mommy tasks. THEN add the fact that I was going to MOVE to the States from Japan alone with my toddler son and twins in belly. Thank God we were going to Albuquerque--my home town. Cameron stayed behind  weeks to close us out of our house and do the majority of the move process. It wasn't but 10 days before the boys were born that Cameron even arrived in the states! Our house was empty. I was MISERABLE. I could not get more than 40 minutes of sleep at a time. Then the boys were born. Jeremiah had no heartbeat. Micah was born 10 weeks far too soon. Either way I was empty handed, with an empty womb from a beautiful pregnancy that ended in tragedy far too early. Torn by grief, shock, suprise, guilt, I could not find one place that felt right. I was either with Micah in the hospital, at home with Isaac and my family, or anywhere and everywhere that my baby boy Jeremiah was not. Our major home good shipment from Japan arrived the Monday--thats 4 days-- after the boys were born. All this was like the largest, most emotionally and mentally destructive tornado we had ever imagined to hit our lives. We were completely turned upside down. What was already a challenging and somewhat stressful situation (moving, expecting twins, new job for the hubby) had been multiplied ten fold.

No surprise then, that we had some issues. Now, for honor of my husband I will not go into great deal as to what was said in those days, weeks, and months. And I will say that the initial first few days my husband and I were very supportive and comforting of each other. We did the best we could. I definitely felt like I had to be there for my husband when he did not know what to do with himself.  Yet as time passed it got harder as our different ways of dealing with the situation became a source of contention and hurt.

As a women, we have revisit and reevaluate our experiences and grief.  Men, I believe since I can't think like one, tend to want to have things be fixed, solved, and over with. I don't think they feel comfortable in their emotions, especially the emotions of grief related to losing a child. For that reason, I do not believe my husband was able to continue on the way he wanted to because there was no way to ignore the sheer pain of losing Jeremiah. His task was complicated by having to start a new job on a new aircraft after all that we had endured. For that, I tried to give him my best understanding. Still, it does not erase the seemingly cold-hearted comments. The anger that ended up being directly solely in my direction. The insensitive notions. The pressure that was put on me to complete the irrelevent tasks, that I believe he thought would help him feel better. An example of that would be how he stressed, "pinged", and complained about how we HAD to get our boxes unpacked. I was exhausted. I was bouncing back and forth between NICU and home, recovering from twin pregnancy and twin BIRTH, and of course all the fatigue and depression I was battling as my hormones nose-dived and as my grief sunk my heart and soul into the depths of despair. I saved all my energy to be there for my son in the NICU. To be there and be as joyful as possible for Isaac, who God Bless his soul, had no real idea why mommy was suddenly gone so much and so much more sad.  I just did not have it in me to fight back and defend myself against the misguided will of my husband. 

And then there is that. The very fact that I had to defend myself against my husband--the one who should be there for me as a protector and companion and instead became my enemy during these trying times, created the deepest cutting wounds in my marriage to date by far.  As a result, I turned to avoidance, distance, shielding, and general complacency when it came to matters between my husband and I. Whenever I noticed the complaining and nagging (which is what I felt it was) starting up I would walk away before he could finish his thoughts. I had no more tolerance. No more patience. No more energy. I felt defeated. My heart was as raw as raw could get. How is it then that my very own husband was pulling whatever was left intact to itty bitty pieces. The trust was gone. And it continued well after Micah came home from the hospital. My heart learned over and over that it could no longer even handle to be vulnerable again--maybe never. I knew that it was the Enemy trying to kick us hard when we were already down but at that point I didn't care why it was happening. I didn't want to endure any more emotional pain.

Now, this is not to say that I never did anything to him. Yes I spoke unkind words. Yes I lost my temper a time or ten. Yes I did start pushing him away. I still felt justified. I still do looking back. Maybe not for everything I did, but when I consider how much I had to do and how much I actually was doing for my family and especially my children, you just can't blame me for defending and protecting myself. It was the only way to survive.

Needless to say, we've had a rough go these last seven months. All this damage in the first 5 months or so was, and is, hard to recover from. As my hope, trust, and patience was nearly burried beyond oblivion, I started to live a guarded life. As I became more guarded, more callous and practically uneffected my husband (who was now also recouping from the loss of Jeremiah as well as adjusting to his new job) now felt he wanted to mend our marriage. He truly put in hard thought effort to do what he thought needed to be done to fix it. But for me, it was almost too late. He didn't really get it, as most men don't.  He was to focused on the present, i.e. our lack of emotional let alone physical intimacy. But what I needed was healing from what caused it. It took a long time and many painful discussions to bring these things to the surface. And it took many times before my husband really began to understand. Now it came the time for me to forgive. Forgiving is never easy, especially when your sinning husband (I however am perfect and never sin ;) ) continues to make many of the same mistakes, albeit less intense. My guarded heart did not want to let go.

I could go on and on with details and probably write a novel about what a rough journey we have been on this past seven months. I will say however that it was not by my own power that I was able to forgive my husband and move forward. I regularly had to ask God to help me. Help me forgive. Help me make the right choice. Help me actually reach out to my husband even when I rather push him away further and further from my broken, trampled heart. We had to move forward, for us and especially our children. I still loved and love my husband even when I felt too distant and shielded to care if I did or not.  Forgiveness and strength, given only to us by the Lord himself, are what have helped us through this rough patch--okay maybe it's more of a trecherous field as opposed to a "patch".

Today, I feel like I can feel the light again. It's like we are walking out of the cave of marital darkness and into the sun again. Let me tell you, it feels so good to have the warmth of the sun shining on my face again.  (Cue Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now") I know we aren't done mending our relationship--it is a process, and yes I know there will be many trials again to endure. However I feel pretty confident that we have finally turned the corner for the better and I am really beginning to feel close with my husband again. The moral of the story for me is that it's ok to stand your ground to protect yourself but it is just as important to constantly pursue peace and to reestablish trust--and to keep God with you every step of the way.

Monday, May 16, 2011

One Month Hiatus Over

One whole month without posting anything. I even managed to be scarce on FB. I partly blame it on this crappy old lap top. I partly blame it on going on our trip to AZ.  The nice and sunny days are to blame. I started my Dog Training courses a month ago so there's one more thing. Oh yeah, and I'm a mom of two and three dogs. So forgive me if I left you high and dry ;). I know you missed me.

Now, a month later, I have about a thousand different things I could write about. I could write about our trip. I could write about seeing old friends. I could write about driving cross state lines with kiddos. I could of gone the Politico route and talked about Osama being zapped by Seals. I know I have my opinions about all that stuff---but I used to be much more outspoken about politics, now I just keep to myself as I have realized it's an energy sapping, hair pulling, kind of business. Isaac and Micah have both changed so much I definitely have stuff to talk about for them. I could get deeper with things I have been mulling over and have wanted to write about for some time.

So I guess this is just me thinking about all the things I could write about. There really are so many. Stay tuned for some pretty good postings to come. Hiatus is over.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Micah's Neurologist Appointment

So way back when Micah was in the NICU they scheduled him an appointment with a neurologist for April---back then it seemed like forever away. Well forever is here so today was his appointment. I was kind of dreading it--nobody wants to go to a neurologist for their own kid. I was afraid of what they might say, especially since Micah seems so normal, I just didn't want to be hit with a surprise bomb if you know what I mean.

As always, I will back track a little.  You might be wondering why he even has an appointment. When they are in NICU they do head ultrasounds on the babies frequently to check for brain bleeds, which is generally pretty common among early preemies because their brains are still immature. Micah had a Grade 1 brain bleed on the right side, which was basically the most minimal version of brain bleed you can have and I was told by the doctors that for his gestational age at birth it was basically like never even having a brain bleed. That was a relief. He had another ultrasound about 3-4 weeks later to see how the brain bleed was doing, and it had gone away. Another relief. What was very unsettling was the new news: he had cystic "PVL" and if I quote the NICU doctor "not what you want to see." I was sick to my stomach. They told me it could mean anything from Micah having no issues, minor learning disabilities to cerebral palsy and total mental retardation. One of the worst things about it was there was no way to know then, only time would tell. We were told things like the brain is "plastic" meaning it can rewire itself. I saw the scans and to me, a very much non-expert, it seemed like his cysts were pretty tiny so I hoped it was just a mild case giving him a better prognosis.

I educated myself and did the google-until-you-have-a-nervous-breakdown thing. It was horrible. I was always worried. I hyper analyzed anything about him. Some things happened to ease my fears, a) Developmental Eval came to see him around his due date and said he was advanced in many things b) he smiled around 7 weeks old (adjusted) and has been super smiley ever since c) he has reached nearly all of his developmental milestone nearly on time or fact he is advanced in many areas. Not to mention he has ALWAYS been described as "alert", even when he was so very tiny in the NICU. Those things have reassured me so much. I was just afraid that maybe I was missing something major by being so optimistic.

Back to today's appointment. We showed up to a nice little waiting room, all decked out for kids and pretty cool actually. The nurse brought us in, weighed him, measured his head etc and got a few details from us about him. I knew I was in the right place because when she saw his purple Gentian Violet tongue she said "He's got a Chow tongue." Ah, a fellow dog person. ;) The doc came in and she was happy and friendly and totally fell in love with how adorable Micah is (how could you not).

She checked him out played with him a little and did all the little testy things evaluaters do to babies. Checked his reflexes, watch his eyes track, pulled him up by his hands, checked his grip, got him to smile, bear weight on his legs...stuff like that. She was very happy with him. He did not have high reflexes which is good since high reflexes can be a sign of high tone (if you are a preemie parent you know all this kind of stuff).  The only issue we talked about, and we already knew, was that his left thumb tends to want to tuck in to his hand.  The physical therapist saw that and told us to just massage his thumb. I had been doing that and he has been opening it easily, grabbing stuff, keeping his thumb out and holding his thumb outside of his fist like he does with his other hand. She said it's great that he is doing that. She called it a "soft sign" meaning it's nothing major, and that it is mild, as opposed to never wanting to open his hand and only going back to the same fisted position once you let go. Overall she was very pleased and said that she believes that he will be completely normal.

We also discussed his actual brain. We talked about the brain bleed and such and how she wasn't sure why he would have bilateral PVL (meaning he had small cysts on each side) if he had the brain bleed on just the one side. I brought up that he had an APGAR of 1/7 (Isaac was a 9/9) and that probably had to do with it. PVL is caused by a lack of oxyen to the brain...and since he was not born screaming and breathing, and had to be intubated I'm pretty sure that is when he would have had any damage done. I don't think the NICU doctors wanted to bring that up because it might make it look like it was their fault (I don't think it is). She agreed that the APGAR was probably why he had Bilateral PVL. Regardless, she says that it's apparent that he is very intelligent and doing well and normal which is the best you can hope for. He even has a higher head to body ratio, meaning he has a big noggin for his little body. She said that neurologists tend to make a big deal out of head to body ratio and head circumference because it usually predicts intellegence. She said it's not necessarily that a huge kid with a huge head, just the head size compared to body size. That was also reassuring.

She was so comforting, personable, and knowledgable. I wish she could be my pediatrician. Not only that but she spent over an hour with us, which was nice to not be rushed in and out of there. Oh, and she showed me a picture of her dog! Man I REALLY wish she could be our pedi.

Praise God for answering my many heartfelt prayers---and those from all of you around the world who were praying for Micah. He really is doing amazing and every day is such a blessing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

H1N1 Vaccine To Blame?

Could it be a twin killer?

Shocking title I know, but I feel like this is very important. I don't really know what to do with this new bit of information. I can't say for sure if it was due to the shot, or if we had lost him before I even got it. I don't know. Not knowing is a killer. In more ways than one.

Ok. So to explain further, last night I was parousing on Facebook and one of my friends posted a link about the mercury in vaccines and how they could trigger autism. I had heard this a long time ago and then I had heard it was disproved. Now it seems like newer evidence is out there to re-prove it. Regardless, I never got far enough in the article to even read the research...because my eyes stopped dead in their tracks and my soull buckled to it's knees when I read this:

"Swine flu vaccines contain Polysorbate 80, an agent linked with infertility in mice, which may extend to infertility in humans. There are 3,587 reports from women who lost their babies very shortly after getting the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, causing many to question the safety of this vaccine."

I followed the link to the article and read it. I felt like my blood suddenly turned to concrete. I was petrified with shock, what if, confusion, revelation.  A horrible, horrible revelation.

One of the doctors had thought Jeremiah had passed due to Twin to Twin Transfusion (TTTS), the doctor, who was a specialist, had never seen them in ultrasound before (those of you may know my Tricare Insurance/Referral Process story of woe, those that don't will have to wait for another blog on another day).  I was pretty convinced that despite his medical opinion, it was not TTTS. At 22 weeks gestation we had the perfect ultrasound. Micah was perfect. Jeremiah was perfect. Fluid levels, blood flow. Heck they were both measuring almost exact... the doctor there noted how "rare" that is to be so similar. I asked her about TTTS, having read up on identicals sharing a placenta, and she said that if it was bad we would have seen it well before now. So having the new doctor who had only seen Jeremiah already long gone in ultrasound, isn't the best source of truth in my opinion. Jeremiah was just .5 inches shorter than Micah and weighed 2lbs, once Micah had lost all his fluid from birth he weighed 2lbs 6oz at the smallest. So it hadn't been that long. I don't believe that TTTS was the reason at all.

Anyways, after 22wks I moved to the states, dicked around with referrals and FINALLY (after battling, tooth, nail, and tears with Tricare) went to my first OB appt in the states. October 18th, 2010. I was 28 weeks pregnant with identical twin boys. I fought for more ultrasounds. I cried for more. But they were all booked. I should have gone to the doctors directly and pleaded...but I didn't.  Anyways, back to my appt. I was getting pretty uncomfortable by now and that was normal. Everything at my appt was good, they both had strong heart beats in the 140s. Or so we think. The doctor highly recommended I go get the flu shot, which is paired with the H1N1 vaccine. I had never had or wanted the vaccine before. I refused to get it when I was pregnant with Isaac in Okinawa. They told me that I could die or lose my babies if I were to get Swine Flu, and being in the States I felt like it was more likely to get sick. So I went ahead and got the shot. I was ensured that it was safe for pregnant women. Heck, pregnant women are considered priority. I felt like I was making the best decision for the well being of my babies.

Or so I thought. 10 days later, to the day of my shot, I would be giving birth to my stillborn son. He could have been gone for approximately 1-2weeks. 10 days falls right in that mix. Yes we had two heartbeats on doppler on the 18th. But it could of been just one. After all, I spent 4 hours in L&D two days after the shot because of contractions (that were just braxton hicks) without them knowing there was only one heart beat. At 28 weeks it's hard to track one kid let alone two with monitors. Then I spent an entire night on the 27th, with MULTIPLE doctors, techs, and nurses trying to get both boys on the monitors at once. While using ultrasound to do so. They still had no Idea Jeremiah was gone. The only person to find that was a specialist with his big ole machine. The only way I knew, without ever knowing, was the pain in my right side ribs from Jeremiah's body pushed up, with little to no fluid left around him. All along I thought that was just him kicking the crap out of my ribs. So was he alive on the 18th, when I got the shot? It's hard to say. I can't remember when my ribs started hurting. I know we had lost him around then, because shortly after that appt, after my husband had came back from Okinawa to meet up with us, is when it all started to change. I got more miserable, more in pain and my stomach seemed to grow twice as big overnight. Everything went to hell. My skin was so taught is shone like a mirror. My stomach looked a little lopsided (from Micah's growing amniotic fluid levels-again-I didn't know this). I could not sleep laying down, and hardly sitting up. In a few days time I went from uncomfortably pregnant with twins to down right suffering in perpetual misery.

I have come to accept that things happen out of my control. But to feel like maybe it was a decision that I made to get the shot, even if my intentions were to protect them, that could of led to his death. Ugh. The thought sits in my stomach like rotten milk. I should have went with my gut instinct. I should have refused the shot like I had done time and time before.

Even still, I cannot change the past. I will not let this bring me down again. There are a lot of things I would change about how and what happened if I had the chance. Getting the shot would be one of them.  I will not let this grab hold of me.  I will not let the Enemy bring me down. I will however let myself deal with this new bit of information. I can't just ignore it. It hurts. Bad. But the one thing I can do is refuse to ever get a stupid shot like the flu shot again, especially while pregnant. One time is all it takes to change the world as I know it.

And the biggest issue for me now is...why do they not warn you about the fact that there are 3,600 reported cases of miscarriage and pregnancy loss associated with this vaccine? Isn't that something they should HAVE to warn you about?  Be wise. If you are pregnant, I HIGHLY recommend you refuse to get the H1N1. It's not worth the risk.


Thursday, March 31, 2011


Today was a good day as for as mom-ness goes. I was super tired this morning, probably worn out from all the cleaning I did yesterday, and since I must brag I'll tell you that I sanitized the entire down stairs bathroom, washed all the doorknobs and shined them, wiped down the doors and hinges, sanitized all switches, cleaned the kitchen, did all the dishes, swept the tile and mopped it, dusted the furniture, did 2 loads of laundry, cooked 2 meals, took the kids AND the dogs on a walk, vacuumed and CLEANED the carpet! Not only that but my husband and I managed to watch Inception while both Micah and Isaac took a nap. Nice! So that was all yesterday, and needless to say I was wiped out from all that stuff. And then when you don't get a good night's sleep because a baby is waking you up all night, it kinda doesn't help.

So starting out feeling like an old hag, you would think today would have been very "blah". But it wasn't. The hubby came home and I got to shower, well actually I took a bath. Then Micah came to join me and get a bath. That was fun. I'll say it's a lot easier to wash your baby when you are in the tub. We played and floated him around and he seemed to like it. I wondered a little if the feeling of being in warm water would bring flashback memories of being in my belly. Then of course that led to other sad thoughts but I just let it pass on by.  So then we ran some errands, got Isaac some new shoes because his feet are growing. He wanted to try on hats at Old Navy because I put one on Micah. It was cute. Nice to be out as a family without having to worry too much about a crying baby (he never did) or RSV now that it's warmer.

So when we got home I unloaded Isaac and we came into the garage and right there on the rug was a gorgeous yellow butterfly. One of those big ones that everyone pictures when they think of a butterfly. I showed Isaac and first he goes to grab it but I pull him back to show him. He thought it was funny that it moved it's wings. He's never really seen a butterfly before...well seen one and realized what it was. You could tell it was still wet, like it had hatched from its cocoon in the garage somewhere and was airing out its wings.  Those big beautiful wings seemed foreign to the butterfly, as it fluttered one side and then the other. It then walked along the rug...probably used to doing so during those caterpillar days. It's really quite amazing that such a beautiful and delicate being can come from such a funky blob of fur and stubby legs.  I guess that can be used for a metephor for a lot of things in life.  I'll let you pick yours.

(not the actual butterfly but it looked kind of like this- more yellow) Darn. I should have taken a picture.

So I figured the garage probably wasn't the ideal starting point for this little guy's life, so Isaac and I found a piece of cardboard to urge him to crawl on to. We walked him out to the grass and I set the cardboard down and he walked off, wings flapping a little in the breeze. Hopefully this way the sun and breeze will help his wings dry off. Isaac had a set of huge rubber bugs that his Mymy gave him, one of which was a big yellow and black butterfly similar to the one we found. I brought it to him so he can associate them together, so that he knows a real butterfly is not a fake plasticky thing but something real, alive, and delicate.  Of course his 2 year old understanding of delicacy got about as far as attempting to wack the real butterfly with the fake one (don't worry, I saved him).  So we backed up a little and then waved good bye to Mr. Butterfly.  It was a sweet moment to watch my young son have a little bond with a butterfly, and to hear his sweet little voice say "bye bye bu-erfly". We shut the garage door and waved bye once more, Isaac wouldn't stop until the door was shut.

The cutest part I think, that touched my heart the most, was that he asked me two more times to go see the butterfly. Of course, I was sure that hours had gone by and butterfly must have gone by now, but we went out anyways. I'd rather him go see for himself and let me try to explain it then just let him keep wanting to see. Poor kid needed some closure. He looked around the grass for a little while and asked me where the "bu-erfly go?" I did my best to explain it, using my hands to be the butterfly flying a way. I don't think he got it so much as he just moved on to other things (laying in a bush). Such a cute little mind he has.

Hopefully we'll see more butterflies soon. 

(P.S. I am curious if we might have accidently stowed some butterfly cocoons from Japan, and that maybe this was a Japanese butterfly? Is that possible? It looked awfully familiar to the ones they had there. Hah.)

The One Question I Hate

I'm not going to lie. It's been off and on rough for me the last few weeks.  Ever since Isaac's birthday was coming around the corner I realized that on the 28th, Micah would be 5 months old.  Five whole months. More importantly it's been 5 whole months since I found out the awful, no good, very bad news: that his twin brother, our son, Jeremiah was gone.  Sometimes I feel like that day was a very bad dream. I hate that Micah's birthday is blended with grief. I wish I could say it was one of the best days of my life. It wasn't. It was one of the worst and scariest.  Maybe if I were to look at it positively I could say it was the strongest day of my life. The day I had to face such heartbreak and fear for the life of my surviving twin, born so very early. The day I had to be strong for my son, for my husband, for my family. I had to rally people together. To be happy for Micah. To have enough resolve to be able to go into that delivery room and birth my two sons, knowing full well that one was gone and the other was still so early...well I knew there was danger for him and for me. 

I guess all those memories are flooding back.  They are compounded by the unavoidable reminders of what could of been. That viral video going around with the twin boys talking to each other or doing karate (I haven't watched it, I'm just going by comments) is one example.  Another are the friends who have twins that are experiencing everything there is to go with having twins.  It just breaks my heart. For Micah. For me. For what should have been.

I really wish this was easy to move on from. I'm not walking around in self pitty all the time. But I still hurt. I can't help but look at Micah and see double. For that I will always be grateful, that they were identical, because then at the very least I can try to imagine just what Jeremiah would have looked like during his life here on earth. 

And that leads me to my least favorite question, the one I've begun to hate.  "How old is he?" I hear that everywhere we go. I always sigh, and say something along the lines of it being a complicated answer. He's 5 months but he should *almost* be 3 months. Most people don't understand even after I have told them that just because he was born then and is now 5 months does not mean that he should automatically be the size of an average 5 month old nor should he be developmentally like one. It means he should have been developing into a newborn for the first 10 weeks of his life, and the it all grows from there.  And of course the worst part of the question is that it reminds me all over again about my story...his story---their story.

I wish I could kiss my Jeremiah's chubby little baby cheeks right now.  I'm glad he's in a better place though.

Micah & Jeremiah holding hands

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birthday Boy Memories

Today was Isaac's 2nd Birthday! It seems like he had a whole birthday weekend since we celebrated on Saturday and a little on Sunday. Especially since he was born in Japan, his birthday was kind of yesterday if you want to get picky. ;) He was a good boy, and we've been having so much fun with him. He has tons of hot wheels cars now and car tracks and fun toys. Thankfully he didn't get too much otherwise I wouldn't know what to do. I swear we have too many toys as it is. And he's only 2.

Speaking of only being 2 I cannot believe how fast they grow. I try REALLY hard not to get so excited that he is growing and learning so fast, because it is really fun.  I love how much stuff we can go and do with him and how he can interact, learn and just do with the world.  Yet, time is not always our friend and a large part of me wants to hold on to every moment I have with him. He wont always be my young baby boy. He will grow up and God willing have a fulfilling life.  I guess unfortunately I know that life is not always so simple and I fight a level of anxiety every so often. I just have to appreciate the time we have and try not to rush it.  I want him to grow. I do. Part of me just wants to squeeze him so tight he stays this way forever.  I'm fighting a mopy feeling from other fronts, so instead of letting all *that* get me down on his day, let me share a little something special. Probably my favorite moment of my life.

As a mom I have to also give myself some credit on this day. It was just 2 years ago that I gave birth to my first born son. I was overdue...big ole belly on a tiny frame. I had tried everything to get that darn baby out and despite walking around at 3 cm for 2 weeks this kiddo wasn't going to budge! I felt doomed to wait until my induction day that we reluctantly set for March 30th.

The night before we had invited people over play games, hoping a certain someone would decide to ruin those plans. Didn't quite work, but I WAS miserable. I had been sitting on a yoga ball and when I got up I could not put any weight on my right leg. My sciatic nerve was pinched so bad. After everyone left I got into a warm bath with the aid of my husband. Soaked a little and then got out and the hubby went to bed. I laid down on my bed, about 1:45 in the a.m. (hey, I was still very much a night owl and I still had the luxury of sleeping in since I was childless thus far--well I tried to sleep in as much as I could before I nearly wet the bed or starved to death.) My husband had just fallen asleep and I was browsing and posting on a mommy forumn on my iTouch.  I had two tighening contractions in a row, just like braxton hicks. They were a little uncomfortable but I was used to that by then, after all I had been a walking contraction for a month at that point. 

The 3rd tightening came and with it my son pushed against it and with that came a reverberating *POP POP* sound and feeling. Disturbed, I let out a "What the hell was that?" Just loud enough for my husband to say, "What?". I thought, and it felt like, Isaac had broken a bone in the womb. It was so loud, and felt so strong. I thought maybe my water had broken as I had read about an audible sound. But no water gushed. I mentioned that it could be my water to my husband who was about as coherent as a bag of dog food. I got out of bed to see, walked a few steps into the hall and WOOOOSH, out came practically all my water just flowing down my leg and unto the floor like it does in the movies. Despite wanting this baby out with all my might, I suddenly felt very very scared and intimidated by the task I knew was at hand.  That baby had to come out some how.  Unless I had a C-Section, which I was praying against, I was the only person that was going to be pushing that baby out...of MY nether-region! AH.

My husband perked up and we were both in disbelief. We got my mom who was staying with us and I called L&D. They told me to come in even though I was hoping to labor at home for a while. Fortunately I didn't but we'll get to that later. We loaded up the hospital bags, let the dogs out for a quick potty and got in the car. By that time my contractions were coming. Practically all my water had come out, my belly looked like I was maybe 6 months pregnant. Contractions more and more frequent...and then I start to shiver. Uncontrollably shivering, in a car, teeth chattering away, and having contractions was not a fun adventure.  Luckily it was at night and no cars were to be seen. Still every bump was a doozy. I held onto that handle and breathed like nobodies business! I jjust went from 0 - Labor in 15 minutes!

My husband dropped off my mom and I at the Naval hospital front and the front desk people so helpfully pointed me in the right direction without offering a coupled-over preggo, with a towel between her legs, breathing heavy, and stopping every 5 steps for a contraction much help at all. Thanks for the wheel chair 18 year old Navy boys! Ahem. So we go to the elevator and I swear on my stretchmarks I had 3 contractions just on the ride to the 5th floor. At this point Gravity was not my friend. It hurt like the dickens and each new one was worse. I felt like bowling ball was sitting on my cervix, which happened to be not only on fire but also full of crampy crampiness. So fun.  They walked me to a room to be monitored, gowned up (or down?) and tested to see if my water had really broke. Yep, pretty sure it did.  My contractions were better on the bed but still rockin my world. All I wanted was epidural, epidural, FRIGGIN EPIDURAL!

So after an appointment or 5 with the bathroom I made it out and a nurse walked ahead of me to show me to my delivery room. It was fortunately at the end of the hall. I felt like I was walkin' "the mile".  I stopped about every 30 seconds for a contraction as she rolled her eyes. My mom not so secretely wanted to slap her. Got to the bed...I got hooked up. Checked my cervix and I was at 5cm. This was about 4:30a.m. I want to say. My contractions were hard hard hard. They lasted about 1.5 minutes and were 30-50 seconds apart and yes you read that right. From that point it was kind of a blur. No really, I took off my glasses so I couldn't see hardly a thing. I rolled, I moaned, I cussed, I shed a tear or two.  Then came in the God-send himself.  My main man Trevor (Oh yes, I remembered his name and considered giving Isaac a new middle name) came in the room wearing a smiley face bandana. He was the anethesiologist bringing me my epidural.  The epidural didn't hurt a bit, it was hunching over (pushing against my husband who was going delirious and pushing me up?) over my pregger belly having a billion contractions from hell. Cameron almost passed out and quickly hurried my mom over to hold me up. She did a more helpful job and they got it in asap. Instant bliss. I fell like a whole new woman!

We all decided to hunker down for what could be a long day, so rest was a must. About an hour or so of just laying there I was starting to get bothered that I felt like I really, REALLY had to go to the bathroom, especially during contractions. Heck, I didn't wanna poop on the table and with an epidural you just never know! I told my mom and we told a nurse and she got the midwife to come in. I hadn't even met her yet and she came real quick to check me. Barely a few seconds goes by and she pulls of her gloves and exclaims "You're done!" ??? "What?" "You're done. 10cm dilated, fully effaced and +2 station."  Woooweee I was so not ready to go into labor. I was expecting endless hours of waiting...and um, some sleep first! At this point I had been awake for about 20 hrs!

They raised up the bed, we practice pushed, waited, let my body labor him dowon without me pushing etc. All in all it was about 5 good pushes, in which I mentioned somewhat out loud that "IT HURTS!!!" We still laugh about how I must of scared the heck out of other laboring moms in the area by letting that one slip. Heh. But I had to push through the pain.  I somewhat regretted not tapping that epidural button just one time before pushing, but hey, I'd rather feel than push for 3 hours. I focused on the diamond pattern on my gown so as to not close my eyes and I pushed as hard as I could.  Out came my boy and it was the most amazing experience. He say his hands reach out so strong, he cried, they put him on my tummy and rubbed him in blankets. He grabbed my finger (while wailing). It was just amazing.  I think that memory--the first time I laid eyes on him, having his natural, unwashed, little baby body lay on the OUTSIDE of my belly for the very first time.  He was healthy. 4.5hrs of labor from start to finish. 9/9 APGAR.  Life was perfect. I'm glad God gave me that experience.

We spent 2 days + a few hrs extra in the hospital because my blood pressure was high during and after labor. It was what seemed like the longest 2 days of my life---waiting for the chance to take my baby boy HOME.  And then now, it's been 2 years. 2 whole years. Time sure does fly. After all we have been through as of late I am so thankful for that experience, that miracle. I am thankful I went overdue.  I am thankful I felt so much pain for such a short while. I am thankful I could have a screaming baby boy placed on my belly in his first moments of life. I am thankful that I was able to feel like 2 days in the hospital, with the baby in my room, was a long time.  You learn to appreciate that kind of stuff. More than anything, I thank the Lord for giving me such an amazing person to be my son.  Isaac means Laughter. He stays true to his name.

Friday, March 25, 2011


No, not the network. CBS - Crying Baby Syndrome. I made that up, so if it's really some sort of syndrome don't get it confused.  I diagnosed Micah with that today on my walk because seriously, this kid likes to cry! Honestly I feel bad for the poor kid. He is so fussy sometimes it must suck to be him.

Thankfully it isn't all teary eyes and angry cries all the time.  He has quite the smile. And boy do those baby blues just light up when I look at him.  He loves to smile at me, he loves to look at faces and be played with. He likes to sit up and watch the world.  He wants to be held. All the time. Which is great, if I had all the time in the world to just hold him. Yet I have a toddler who makes messes, and dogs that need to be fed, and yeah I need to shower, do laundry, cook, clean.  I try to hold him whenever possible. And I do love it. He doesn't like carriers for the moment, I think once he gets a little bigger and stronger I can put him in the hip carry or joey hold and he would enjoy it. For now, he's *almost* to the point I could carry him forward facing. But now he doesn't like to be restrained. He wants to stand. He wants to kick and play and look around. So strapping him to my body does seem to be working anymore... I tried the Bumbo a week ago or more and he just gets mad. He's *almost* ready for it. He is doing great with head control, and he likes to sit (or jump) on our lap so I don't really get why he doesn't like that.

My brother said it best last weekend. "He cries a lot."  Yes. Yes he does. He cries when I feed him, sometimes. He cries when I don't. He cries just to cry it seems and usually cries if you put him down. He HATES being in the carseat AND the car, which as you can imagine makes me really want to go for car rides anywhere. I hate that it should be easy to just go take a baby out with you. But it's not. His crying makes situations stressful. If I had the opportunity to go hang out with people I generally weigh the options of should I go or will it be just Micah crying? Is it worth the drive of doom? At the zoo, we usually have a good crying episode.  I'd love to take the kids and the dogs on a good hour long walk everyday, but no, Micah rather it be kept to a brisk 15 minutes.  Yeah, that's me with baby wailing in the stroller as I practically run back to the house, hearing his cry echo through the canyon of garage doors. I'm pretty sure he doesn't like it when I take a shower because he cries the instant I get my hair wet. And thinking of getting a sitter...oye. That's a lot to ask someone to do.

He does suffer from moderate reflux, which he is on meds for. He seems to be doing better in that department.  And fortunately we discovered that he has thrush on his tongue so that could be part of why he can be fussy at feedings. We called everywhere and no one has Gentian Violet here, so I'm ordering it online I think. We have given him some Tylenol on occasion for the pain, and we've tried swabbing his mouth with Club Soda (something I read about home remedies for thrush).  But he's only fussy sometimes. And it is getting fewer and further between feeding fits. Maybe the soda is working? I'm starting to wonder if it's over stimulation since we have zero issues with feeds at night time. He is more aware of his surroundings and I notice that most of these fits are when we are away from home.

Isaac was such an easy baby. He hardly ever cried. He spit up a lot. A lot a lot, but he was dubbed a "happy spitter". He was chunky, and happy. He took naps pretty easily. He was content with whatever. He was sleeping way better at night by now, and I'm going by Micah adjusted age of almost 3 months. He did 8hrs then fed, slept 4 more. Sure he had his days, and the bouts of fits here and there, but nothing like this. I feel for moms of fussy babies everywhere.  It changes how you live your life. And more than just the average baby would. It's having all those things about having a baby---you know, the normal stuff---feeds, spit ups, diaper changes--- PLUS the fact your baby cries at random and often. So if you venture out, it's either you are somewhere far away from what you wanted to be doing while trying to soothe the unconsolable child, or everyone with you is blinking slowly at each other while losing the power the think since the constant wailing depletes brain cells of everyone in a 100ft radius. There really isn't anything more stressful than being out in public trying to feed a screaming baby where everyone stares at you as you try to lovingly wrestle your hungry but angry baby to the boob without giving everyone around you a show.  Or driving home in rush hour traffic while your baby cries like you've abandoned him forever to starve to death in the back seat of the car. For 25 minutes. Nothing you can do but just hope he doesn't choke on his own tears and pray against all red lights and putsy drivers.

I'm glad that he seems to be getting a little happier, which is probably attributed to his new interest in his surroundings (maybe a double edged sword at this point, being as though that very thing is why he doesn't do so well in different places). It's great to see him doing so much new stuff. I'm glad he is developing on track milestone-wise (things EVERY preemie parent watches for). He's starting to intentionally grab and hold my face. I love it.  He smiles most the time that he isn't crying or asleep. He laughs kind of, more like chuckles maybe? He coos more. He talks to us. He kicks like crazy and if you hold him up on his feet he likes to march or walk (I've got video of this). He is so good with his head now that he can actually hold it up without resting on my shoulder.  He is also starting to get interested in looking and grabbing at toys. I got him staring at his hand this morning and it was pretty cute. I feel bad that he might be so uncomfortable that it makes him so upset. He probably misses his brother too. I'm most likely just spoiled from having such a good first baby, that it makes this seem so much more difficult. I would like to just get out of the house every now and then and not have to worry about Micah deciding he hates life in the real world.

I wish I had a better picture of his smile on hand, but for now you can just look at how cute he is! Maybe one day when I can get my computer out of safe mode I'll be able to upload pictures from my camera. Hah.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

2 Years Ago

 2 Years Ago.

I was probably pretty miserable. Not probably, I was. I was past my due date, huge for my small frame... and at that point I was convinced that I would be pregnant forever. I had tried everything, within reason, to try to go into labor. I faced an induction scheduled for March 30th. We walked till my pelvis was split in two. My back hurt. My ribs had little room. My skin was pretty stretched, although some time later with the twins I would experience much worse.  No doubt the questions and You're still pregnant?s were annoying. Little did I know, but very much did I hope, I would be giving birth to my first born son in just a few more days. It would be the most amazing experience of my life.

Fast forward to a year ago and we were excitedly planning a beach party for his first birthday party. Wishing away the rainy Okinawan weather. By this time he was walking on his own. Playing a little with cars and trucks, balls and more. Such a very happy child, he always has been.

Real time I can hardly believe my little boy is almost 2. And my, what a difference a few years make! It's crazy to think that 2 years ago he was a squished 6lb13oz baby boy in the womb. Now he walks, runs, jumps off the couch. He plays with race cars. He says "race car" which sounds a little more like "ge car".  He kicks balls, throws balls and has even started catching them.  He dances to any music. He likes to torture the dogs.  He is speedy. Some how he figured out how to "shoot" at me with our automatic nasal aspirator like a toy gun.  He loves dinosaurs "RAWR!", whales and sharks "Whale, whale, whale!", and chocolate which has gone from being pronounced "coch" to "cocholeight".  He is a good big brother (although not the best and being quiet when the baby is asleep).  This kid is a rock star.

He'll be 2 years old on March 28th, technically the 28th Japan time, since he was born at 6:29am in Okinawa.

I'm so excited to see him change and grow, and yes, even experience those fun toddler tantrums, over the next year. They grow so very fast.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Sick. Again.  But I'm finally feeling better. I wish I could be keeping up with the blog but when you have sickie toddler with a sickie mom (yours truly) it's hard to prioritize online blogging.  We had some good friends come down last weekend and had a ton of fun. I'm pretty sure Isaac got a bug from their kiddo and now it's had a little party through most of our family. Micah seems to be fairing alright. Hopefully it stays that way! Isaac has a runny nose a little still, but mainly a cough that wont quit.

Hope to catch you all back up later. I know you miss me.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Something to be Excited About

As you most likely already know, I'm obsessed with the Dog Whisperer and learning everything I can about dog behavior and how to handle it. If you knew me when I was young, you would know I loved dogs.  i.e. My mom face painted me to look like a Dalmation and I would run around the house on my hands and knees, pant like a dog, bark like a dog, act like a dog.  I have been a long time dog sitter. I have fostered dogs. Adopted dogs. I just love dogs! So what on earth could be a better job for me and my life right now than to become a CERTIFIED dog trainer? Nothing I could think of!

I got the idea on whim, and started searching how to become a certified personal dog trainer. I came across the Animal Behavior College and looked into it. Problem was most dog trainer school cost thousands of dollars. Having to already pay off my student loan, spending even MORE money on school didn't sound appetizing. Then as I read through their program I noticed a hi-lighted blurb saying that Military Spouses can get tuition for free! To good to be true? I had to find out. So I put in to request more info.  The next day a admissions counselor called me to talk about it. She told me about the program and then asked me some questions to see if I was eligible for MyCAA funds.  Luckily I am, having and active duty spouse who just happens to be an E-5, which is the highest rank he can be for me to receive the funds. Sweetness. I don't have to pay a dime for tuition, and just $75 for the application fee.

Classes are self paced, which is nice, and I get paired up with a local trainer for hands on learning.  The best part is that once I am done with the program I can make between $80-$150 and hour. Not bad! I can also make my own hours, and being a SAHM that REALLY helps out!

I'm so pumped! I needed something to put my mind to. What better way than to get a job doing a hobby I already love. The other awesome part (and the reason that the military pays for it) is that it's considered a portable career, and I know I can do it wherever the military moves us. I suggest that you look into something similar if you are a military spouse. MyCAA pays up to $4000 for Licenses, Certification and Asssociates Degrees. They have a decent list of job options to, well beyond just animal services.

Woof. Woof.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Worst Thing about being a Military Family.

Leaving friends. Making friends. Watching friends leave you. Making more friends. Leaving friends. It sucks plain and simple.

It truly is a blessing to meet so many great people. So many new people. So many people from so many places. Okinawa was a blast. We made great friends. I was fortunate enough to hook up with some people online and make connections that I literally had friends on Island the second we landed.  "M" picked me up from the airport! We had fun, we hung out. We were fortunate to have a big handful of friends to get along with and do similar activities with. We aren't a partying couple. We're more of a get-out-of-the-house-and-do-something-cool couple.  Or a have everyone over and play games couple.  We met friends that matched us in Oki.  I personally had a great group of ladies to hang with.  And then, they move.  Three to four year tours are the norm overseas, so you can expect a steady flow of inbound and outbound people. Sure, you meet someone who has the island totally wired and can show you around, but they've been there for 2 years.  And that means that in 2 more years, Sionara. They leave. And now you have 2 more years.  So you make more friends and you become the friend that has the island totally wired and can show them around. But you've been there for 2 years. Now you leave.

So here we are. Back in the CITY I grew up in. Sure we have a few old friends here. My best friend (and still current BFF(repeating of course)) moved away to Colorado before we moved back here. I might know of people around here. People I rode horses with. People who I went to school with. People my husband used to know or work with.  Four years is a long time though.  Four years and they have gone on with their lives. Four years and we come back with kids and tragedy.  Tragedy kind of marks you as "that" couple. They still have their childless freedom. Sure, we are one of those people that try to get out, preemie permitting, but let's face it with young children you just can't go do anything and everything. At least not as fast and worry free as they can.

We need to meet some people that get it. Someone in our age group, with little kids and similar values and hobbies.  Isaac is enrolled at the Little Gym, and you would think that maybe we would meet someone there. Strangely enough none of the parents talk to each other! I try to and it's like talking to a wall. They give you one-word replies and body language pretty much states: leave me and my kid to do what we want on our own.  It's like no one wants to make friends.  At least in Okinawa pretty much anyone American there is going to be military affiliated. You all try to talk to each other, and almost everyone is open to making new friends. Everyone in Okinawa knew that you had to reach out because sooner or later your current friends were going to leave you.

I'm finding myself missing the friends we had in Okinawa a lot. We don't have that here and it sucks.  I have great friends spread out all over the States and even the World. That's what happens when you live four years in a foreign country.  For most of them, thanks to Facebook, we keep in decent touch. Some more than others. We are fortunate to have one of our best friends from Oki stationed at a base about 6hrs away. That drive is doable.  But it's not a give you a call and hang out tonight kinda thing anymore. Bummer.

The other day we were at the zoo and there was a couple, our age, with a toddler son and baby in the stroller. Just like us. I wanted to say, "hey, let's be friends." But I thought that would be creepy. So I didn't say much but a a little "hey" and flash an understanding smile.  Man. Even people at church, albeit friendly, are not just ready to pounce on the opportunity of acquiring new friends. 

It's getting boring.  The only problem is, we might be leaving within a year or more. Maybe. And part of me just doesn't want to waste the energy to make close friends just to leave them behind.  Boo.