Monday, December 19, 2011

Snail Mail Fun - Goal #51 Complete

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here.

Goal # 51: Send Jordan, Julia and Katie (my youngest siblings) a card for every major card-selling holiday in 2011 - COMPLETE

When I was little, my grandmas would send me cards for just about every holiday, plus birthdays and it always made me feel so special and important to be receiving my very own mail. Nowadays, with everything being so digital, there is something extra special about receiving a personal (non-bill-related) piece of mail, especially a card. So as part of my "Relational Goals" for Project 101 in 1001, I decided to send my three youngest siblings cards throughout the year (I didn't think my twenty-five-year-old brother would care all that much if he was left out - Sorry Dave!)

I think they liked it (they didn't really say much about the cards), but if they enjoyed getting them half as much as I did when I was their age, then it was well worth it. I also tried to include in each card a personal word of wisdom, encouragement or love for each of them. Hopefully those messages will imprint on their young hearts, even if the cards were a little silly (seriously - who writes those things?). 

Being a big sister has always been a blessing (okay, so not always - sometimes it's rather obnoxious). Maybe a better way to say it would be that it is a great privilege to be the big sister. Good times, or obnoxious ones, my siblings and I have always been very close. As we all get older, I hope to continue a strong relationship with each of them and be someone they can look to for advice, encouragement and friendship. 

Thus, Project 101 in 1001 continues, even with twins in tow. Forty-nine down, fifty-two to go! But, I have to be honest with myself and with you: I will be shocked if I complete all 101 goals by this time next year. Having twins kinda put a little hitch it my plans - though I absolutely wouldn't change a thing. The good news is that one of my huge, major, big goals is in the works right now (stay tuned for news on that in the next month-or-so). And while the completion of this particular goal will hinder the completion of a few others - it is going to be SO worth it! Can't wait to tell you more!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Honest Thoughts on Becoming a New M.O.M. (Mom of Multiples)

I'm finally creeping out of the mind-numbing haze that being a new resident in Mommydom entitles one to. And since I was doubly doped-up from caring for twinfants, my initiation into being a mom was... we'll just say, rough at times... most times actually. I'm reflecting back on those first few weeks wondering how on earth I survived (not to mention the survival of my little munchkins-turned-goblins-at-night). 

Here's something I was surprised (and frightened) by during the first three weeks: I didn't like being a mom. In fact, I flat-out hated it at times. Which was completely unexpected. Being a mom was something I had looked forward to for most of my life and I thought it would come naturally. I knew it would be hard, but I still expected to instantly fall madly in love with my sons. Maybe that's how new mommyhood works for some women, but I certainly wasn't one of them and I was totally taken aback by this. My lack of lovely-dovey feelings for my sons left me emotionally impaled with guilt and disappointment. Which made the constant exhaustion, feedings, diaper changes, crying and feelings of being completely in-over-my-head so much more difficult to deal with. Being a mom was harder than anyone could have prepared me for and I felt so guilty for how much I wanted my pre-baby life back.  

Had Devin not been there to cheer me on and help me as much as his non-lactating self could, I don't think we would have made it. My deepest admiration for single moms - I do not know how you do it. Wow. 

Thankfully, the life of a new mom-of-mutiples slowly started getting more manageable. Not "easier" per say, but bearable with more moments of joy in-between the really frustrating times. I think the thing that helped the most was changing my expectations to match my new reality. When I expected that the twins would need to eat every two hours, 24/7, it was a lot easier to handle it emotionally and physically. Also helpful - getting dressed in the morning. Sure, sweatpants are way more comfortable when you're stuck in a little apartment caring for two newborns, but never underestimate the power of a pair of jeans and a clean(ish) shirt to make you feel slightly human again. Actually, "being stuck in a tiny apartment" reminds me of something else that was hugely helpful for coming out of the new-mommy-blues. Devin started making it a priority to get me out of the apartment as often as we could. Even if it was just strolling the twins to the local park or Starbucks, or heck - even a trip to the grocery store. These quick little, in-between-feedings outings lifted my spirits considerably.

Then something else changed around five weeks that actually did make parenting easier. My sons started to smile. Not gassy smiles or milk-comma grins, but real, actual, looking-me-in-the-eye smiles. Suddenly these little goblins who had been sucking the life out of me turned into adorable little people with personalities of their own. What's more, they liked me and would grin when they saw me or when I talked to them. Melt my heart. Finally, I started falling in love with my sons. Turns out loving your kids makes parenthood more enjoyable (even easier... at times). Praise the Lord for those sweet, life-saving smiles!

P.S. if you are one of those dear friends or family members who came over to help or brought us a meal - God bless you!! I don't know how Devin and I would have slept, eaten or showered during those first four weeks without all of you. You saved all four of us! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Power of Words (Goal #57: Complete)

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here.

Goal #57:  Write my Compassion sponsor children once a month for a year - COMPLETE

For the past year, I have participated in Compassion International's "Second Fridays" - an initiative that challenges sponsors to write their children on the second Friday of every month. I blogged before about how life-changing it is to these kids to receive letters from their sponsors and how crushed they are when they don't hear from them (read that post here).

After meeting my two sponsor girls, Rachael and Barbra, this past spring, it has been an even greater joy to correspond regularly with them. Though this goal is completed, I will absolutely continue my monthly letters to these precious girls. They are such a gift in my life and it is privilege to be a voice of encouragement and truth to them. 

If you sponsor a child through Compassion or similar organization, please pick up a pen and send your child a letter. You can never fully understand how powerful your words of encouragement are to them. (Watch this awesome interview of former Compassion sponsor children to get a glimpse at the difference your words can make.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weston and Isaac's Birth Story (Part 2: Delivery)

I decided to break the twins' birth story into two parts (read part one here) because there was such a night-and-day difference between the labor and delivery, they just didn't belong in the same post. 

While my labor was calm and peaceful, with me being completely in-tune with my body and in-control of what was happening to me, the delivery was chaotic and stressful, with me being so distracted that I couldn't even tell when contractions were happening. I felt out-of-control to the point of panic at times. It was not at all what I had envisioned when I pictured the delivery of my sons, however I believe it would have been far worse had our midwife Belinda not stepped in to fight for us amidst the chaos of doctors and hospital politics. (I should mention here that the OB practice we went with offered something called "collaborative care" with twins. We were to be cared for and delivered by midwives, but a doctor would be available should an emergency arise.)

Chronologically, I can piece together very little of the twins' delivery besides the fact that Weston was born first and Isaac second. Things were so crazy in the O.R. that it's hard to remember what happened when, but I'll do my best. 

When I was wheeled into the O.R., I was trying so hard to stay focused and retain the calm that I had experienced in the labor room. However, the mood in the O.R. was full of nerves from the start and it was hard not to let that affect me. From what I can remember, there were somewhere around thirteen people in the room and they seemed to all be talking at once. The lights were fully up, and even though I asked (as did my midwives) that they be dimmed, the doctor (who suddenly felt she was in charge) refused. She also refused to let us video the birth, which was a part of our birth plan that her boss had signed off on. 

As I mentioned, this doctor started taking over immediately, without even introducing herself to us, without any respect towards us or our birth plan, and without any kind of emergency at hand. She poked and prodded me and made me feel like a lifeless specimen that just happened to be in the way of her and the babies. She broke my water too soon and without my permission. Oh, and did I mention that at one point she was sitting by my... ahem... while talking on her cell phone (loudly) about another patient? Um? Seriously? At that point I still wasn't sure who this woman was (again - she never introduced herself) and was just about to yell at her to get out. 

The difference between the doctor's "care" and that of the midwives was jarring and caused me great anxiety. There was a panic-inducing moment for me where I could not even see our midwives as they had basically been pushed to the back of the room. I asked Devin, "Where are Belinda and Diane??" and he made eye contact with Belinda with a gesture of "What on earth is going on?" She gave him a wink and literally elbowed her way back into position to catch the first baby.

I had a difficult time pushing Weston out. Partly due to the stress I was suddenly under and partly because, well, I've never pushed a human out of my body before and not only was it difficult, I wasn't sure how hard I actually had to push. Very hard it turns out. 

After a little over an hour of pushing, at 7:46 a.m. on October 17th, Weston Scot was born. He was pink, crying and perfect. Belinda put him on my chest immediately and I started nursing him. He was warm and gooey and wonderfully wide-eyed. Devin was right there by my side and we couldn't seem to grasp the fact that we were suddenly parents. I wish I could remember what we said to each other in that moment, but it is all so blurry.

Too soon, this sweet moment ended as it was time to get baby number two out. Weston was taken from us and examined just a few feet away. It was difficult at first to pull my attention away from him and the nurses surrounding him in order to focus on delivering his brother, but it quickly became apparent that getting "Baby B" out would take not only an incredible amount of focus on my part, but a major battle against a nervous doctor with a scalpel that she was itching to use.  

The tension in the room between Belinda and the doctor grew as Belinda tried to fight for the natural delivery she was confident we could achieve. But amidst her confidence and ours, was the doctor's constant flow of negative, stressful commentary.

"Baby B is getting tired!"  "She doesn't have an epidural?! Then we'll have to knock her out if she doesn't deliver him soon!" "Prepare for a c-section."

This of course caused me incredible stress, which in turn caused the baby to dip in and out of "distress", which caused the doctor to panic more, which caused me to panic more, etc. She said again and again, "Baby B is getting tired," and I asked her, "What do I need to do?" Her response was, "Nothing." It became clear to me then that this doctor was not interested in anything but a cesarean and wouldn't be helpful in achieving a vaginal delivery for the second baby. In a panic - I looked at Belinda, who again, gave us a confident wink and, again, elbowed her way back into the catching position. 

Belinda told the doctor, "You need to give her a chance to labor him down. He's in position, you just need to give her body a little time."

To which the doctor responded with something like, "He's too high for me to use forceps." 

At that point, Belinda made eye-contact with me and said, "Jen I need you to push as hard as you can." Though Belinda had to tell me when to push (as mentioned before, I was so stressed I couldn't feel the contractions), I pushed hard and brought the baby down. Belinda threw a saucy look towards the doctor as if to say, "You think you need forceps, huh?"

From that point on, the delivery consisted of Belinda fighting off the doctor while trying to get me to push as hard and as often as possible. We were in a battle against time and knew that if I didn't push this baby out soon, I would be knocked out and cut open. I honestly believe that if I had allowed an epidural to be placed (which Diane did not require of me even though her boss had recommended it "just in case"), I would have ended up with a cesarean for Baby B. As it was, I didn't have an epidural placed and therefore it wasn't as convenient for the doctor to default to cesarean because she knew she'd have to completely knock me out. This, and Belinda's determination, saved us from something that was not needed or wanted.

Belinda did everything she possibly could, including asking permission to give me a small episiotomy. I allowed it, as she and I both knew that because of the pressure from the doctor my choices were a small cut there or a giant cut across the belly. That cut was the only pain I remember from the birth - it was piercing and I know I screamed from the pain. The doctor remarked, "That's not an episiotomy - it's too small." To which Belinda retorted, "It's all she needs."

Things were incredibly tense and dramatic in that room and during this part of the birth was the only time Devin cried as we both prayed over and over again, "Lord please help us." We both felt so confident that this baby could be delivered vaginally and were so fearful that we would be given an "unnecesarean" because of a nervous doctor who didn't understand or believe in the process of natural birth. It had been clear from the moment we arrived in the O.R. that a cesarean was this doctor's assumed outcome for our delivery - she seemed to be looking for an opportunity the entire time.  

For about 30 minutes or so, I pushed intensely (I knew how hard I needed to push now) while the entire room screamed at me to "PUSH!!" While it was so frustrating to have so many people yelling at me, the baby was coming down and making progress naturally. Still, the doctor was on-edge (or perhaps just angry at this point that Belinda had been right). She put me on oxygen and I could still sense her pressuring Belinda. But God bless her, Belinda stood her ground (and ours) and at 8:41a.m., Isaac Knight was born. He was bright-eyed, crying robustly and latched on like a champ. (Belinda told me later, "When he came out like that, I thought, 'Ha! That baby's not in distress!'") He was perfect and healthy and we had achieved our natural birth safely, despite the many obstacles. Pulling down Devin's surgical mask, I gave him a big, grateful kiss on the lips. I then looked a Belinda and mouthed, "Thank you!" and in response, she winked.  

* * * 
Admiring Weston shortly after his birth 
Our new family of four
My husband, my coach, my encouragement, my hero

* * * 
(L) Belinda with Isaac
(R) Jacqueline with the boys 
Devin and I can not express enough our thankfulness for the thoughtful care we received from our midwives throughout the pregnancy and during the birth. Thank you ladies for believing in us and in the natural design of pregnancy and birth. 

We are also grateful for the sweet, calming presence of our doula, Jacqueline.

Additional thanks to our Bradley instructors Crystal and Paul for all the great knowledge about the natural birth process. 

There were so many answered prayers throughout this pregnancy and all the way through the birth - to those of you who spent so much time in prayer on our behalf - thank you, we were amazing at how God answered so specifically.

We are so grateful for the incredible support-team God provided us through each of you. 

And certainly, we must express our praise to God for His incredible design, for a safe pregnancy and for allowing us to take part in experiencing the miracle of birth. Praise You above all.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weston and Isaac's Birth Story (Part 1: Labor)

After many months of preparing and learning (using mainly the Bradley Method), we were able to achieve the natural, unmediated childbirth that we had hoped for. We had a beautiful, peaceful labor and a delivery that can only be described as "dramatic" but one which God's hand of protection was completely involved in every step of the way. We also have to thank our incredible team of nurse-midwifes who took such wonderful care of us during the pregnancy and allowed us to let the twins come when they were ready (which happened to be 6 days past their estimated due date) and encouraged us to still go for a natural birth, even though Isaac was breech until around 38 weeks (when he turned on his own). Truly, I can not say enough positive things about midwife care - personal, encouraging, sensitive, relaxed and fun. I've honestly missed those ladies since we've had the twins - something I would never say about any other health care provider I've ever had. 

Now, without further ado, here is part one of Weston and Isaac's birth story: 

Friday night October 14th, after trying for ten straight days to induce labor naturally at home, I was pretty desperate. Desperate enough to make this video, and crazy enough to actually post my shenanigans on the Internet. Pregnancy does strange things to people. 

Saturday morning around 10:00 a.m. I started having mild, but consistent Braxton Hicks contractions, about 30 minutes apart. By that afternoon, I was having stronger, but still mild, contractions about 10 minutes apart. Devin was ready to rush to the hospital, but I wanted to wait. I didn't feel they were strong enough yet. Around 9:00 p.m. we called our midwife and doula to let them know what was going on and decided to try and get some rest as we assumed we'd be heading to the hospital later that night. 

Well. After timing contractions all night long, we were no better rested and no further along in labor. By 1:00 p.m. on Sunday I was very discouraged and very tired. I called the midwife on-call (Diane) to give her an update and beg her for some tips to get labor going stronger. Her recommendation was to "Stop timing contractions for heaven sakes and relax! Ignore the contractions until you can't anymore." She also may have prescribed "sex and a shot of whiskey"... which we may or may not have tried... 

Afterwards... I was able to sleep for a couple of hours and woke up to much stronger contractions about five-to-ten minutes apart. This is when I would say my labor actually started in earnest. I had to move around to manage the contractions - I sat on a yoga ball, did a lot of swaying and dipped into plié squats. As the contractions increased in intensity, I found it most comfortable to lean forward against the wall or door jam, do some pliés and have Devin press against my lower back. We turned the lights down, lit some candles and listened to praise and worship music. So while the contractions were intense, I was very peaceful and relaxed laboring at home. Devin was such an amazing coach - softly speaking words of encouragement to me during contractions and making sure I drank plenty of water and ate a little something in-between contractions. He was my hero the whole night. 

In labor and ready to go to the hospital
Around 6:30 p.m. we had our doula, Jacqueline, come over and I labored a little in bed with Devin rubbing my back and Jacqueline rubbing my legs/feet. Around 8:00 p.m. contractions were still very strong and about four minutes apart. I decided it was time to go to the hospital because I didn't think I could handle more than four or five of these contractions in the car (it was about a fifteen minute drive). 

When we got to the hospital, I had to concentrate very hard on my labor and try to drown out anything else that was going on around me in the waiting room. I hate hospitals and the last thing I wanted was to get distracted or stressed and slow down my labor. Finally, I got checked-in and Diane was right there to meet us in triage. She checked my progress and was delighted to announce that I was already at 6cm and 90% effaced. I was so excited that I'd progressed that much on my own at home in such a relaxed atmosphere. 

Laboring in the tub - so grateful that our midwives
pushed for the hospital to get one of these 
We moved into the labor room and because I wasn't hooked up to an IV, epidual or any monitors, I was able to sit in a labor tub which was beyond amazing. I'm not even kidding when I say being in that warm water cut the pain in half. It also made it easier for me to move around and maintain a low squat while relaxing on the side of the tub. We had the lights low, the room quite and worship music on softly. Devin was constantly by my side offering love and encouragement and pressing my back through each contraction. Jacqueline was there to assist Devin and she quoted uplifting scripture verses often. Diane sat back and let me run things, only checking the babies' heart rates every-once-in-a-while, but otherwise staying hands-off an allowing Devin and I (with Jacqueline's assistance) to do what we needed to do. Diane kept the "hospital feel" of the labor down to a bare minimum and I was so grateful. While it was certainly difficult physically, I felt at peace and was in complete control of my labor.

I started transition around 2:00 a.m. (maybe??) and the contractions were very intense and one right on top on another. If I wasn't in the tub, I was shaking like crazy and in horrible discomfort. It was incredibly hard, but I knew transition meant it would be time to push soon and meet my babies. I was so focused on the labor that I had to come out of a comma-like haze anytime someone asked me a question or gave me something to drink.

Then, I'm not sure what happened (neither were our doula or midwife), I just seemed to stall. I was still in transition with horribly intense, constant contractions, but I just stayed in that phase for hours. I think maybe my body was just worn-out because even though contractions were only minutes apart, I was falling asleep in-between them. It was an exhausting few hours, but I knew my body was doing what it needed to do and I was thankful to have a birth team that wasn't rushing me or telling me I had "failure to progress." 

Sometime between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. I started trying to push while in the tub. Then I moved to the bed and pushed a few times on my hands and knees and then used the squat bar. It was so helpful to be able to move around like I needed to. It helped me feel calm and in-control, which helped me to be able to manage the labor better. 

By 6:30 a.m. Diane announced it was time to move into delivery. Unfortunately, with twins, the hospital policies forced us to delivery in the O.R. "just in case". As they wheeled me into the O.R. I had to fight really hard to stay focused and calm - the peaceful atmosphere of the labor room was replaced by movement, bright lights and lots of people I'd never seen before. Just as we reached the O.R. our other midwife Belinda joined us. She had been in Las Vegas all weekend and had joked with me that she and I had a "date" on Monday to deliver my babies. Sure enough, she had stayed abreast of our labor via texts from Diane and had made it back in time to catch our little ones. Which ended up being such an answer to prayer because while Diane's calming, hands-off presence gave us a beautiful labor, we were going to need Belinda's spunk and determination to get us through what was waiting for us in the O.R. 

Up Next: "Part Two: Delivery"

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hold your horses y'all

Being pregnant with twins past forty-weeks, plus posting a rather ridiculous video of yourself on the internet tends to get you some attention. And I'm not gonna lie - the attention was kinda fun. The flip-side of the this new-found "popularity" is that you have to keep people updated. Which twin-induced sleep deprivation makes a bit difficult.

A whole bunch of you have asked me when I'm going to post the twins' birth story and I promise I'm working on it. :-) It's about halfway done, but between keeping my kids alive with my body and trying to work through some of the more emotional aspects of their birth, the writing is slow going. The 2:30am and 5:30am feedings did not go well today, so I've decided just to get up and give up trying to go back to sleep. I've gotten dressed, am munching on a delicious asiago cheese bagel, am getting ready to down some coffee and gearing up to work some more on the birth story. Lofty I know, but it's worth a try. 

Here's the super-duper abridge basics:

I successfully had a natural, unmedicated birth with both boys, though Isaac's birth took some fighting off a scalpel-happy doctor. It was a long labor, but a very calm, peaceful one (the delivery was a different story all together). Both boys were born alert and healthy (Apgar scores of 8 and 8.5) and nursed immediately and very successfully. Devin was involved in the birth the whole time and was an incredible husband-coach. Also - I adore our midwives Diane and Belinda, they gave us the most wonderful birth possible and I feel so incredibly blessed to have had the option of midwife care even though I was carrying twins. 

More to come in the (hopefully) near future. For now, here's a look at our sweet boys at two days old:

Weston Scot: Born Oct 17th at 7:46am, 7lbs, 3oz, 20.5 inches 
Isaac Knight: Born Oct 17th at 8:41am, 7lbs, 9oz, 21 inches

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

39 Weeks and Counting...

39 Weeks
I really didn't think it was possible that I'd still be pregnant with twins at 39 weeks. I mean, I knew it could and does happen sometimes to some people, I just didn't think it would happen to me. ;-) Plus, when everyone (including my midwives) told me over and over that I'd probably pop between 37-38 weeks, the fact that I'm 39 weeks and still have no obvious signs of labor is about enough to drive me batty with waiting (not to mention the physical pain of carrying twins so long). And since there are no medical issues present, medical induction isn't something we're considering (I don't want to make my labor any harder than it's going to be and labor-inducing drugs can cause some killer contractions and increase the likelihood of a cesarean). As far as all the "at home" labor-inducing tricks? So far: not working.

I realized today however, after reflecting on my last pregnancy post, that all those potential pregnant-with-twins complications that I've somehow been spared are exactly the reason why I'm still pregnant. So really, I can't complain too much - I'd be calling my blessings a curse. Yes, I'm still pregnant (and I'll be honest, pretty miserable) but it's because my body and my babies are staying healthy and low-risk, so why should my sons come out right now? Never mind that I've got somewhere around 35+lbs of pressure bearing down on the exit route (which I'd think would be cause enough for an early eviction date). These babies seem perfectly content to stay put for now and I need to remind myself to be grateful for that... sometimes daily hourly every-other-minute.

Hangin' in there...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Goal #17- COMPLETE Top 100 Movies

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here. 

Goal #17: Watch ten movies off of the AFI’s list of 100 Top Movies - COMPLETE

I never did end up watching Rocky. Which is fine by me, because it was Devin's choice and I'm not the least bit heartbroken over missing that particular film. My tenth-of-ten movie ended up being High Noon because our friends Max and Alex are doing this same goal and invited us over for a western-themed dinner-and-a-movie night. Devin and I are suckers for any sort of themed or costumed event, so High Noon as number ten it was! The movie was not great, but the food was delicious (chili cheese burgers and sweet potat'a fries). I also found out that my husband makes a rather handsome cowboy. :-)

I can now say that I have watched a total of thirty-six movies off of AFI's list of top 100 classic movies of all time. But I don't feel more cultured or classy or educated. I'm certainly not an improved individual for having completed this goal. Some films did provide entertainment, but that's about it. 

Some of the movies I watched for this goal were truly painful to get through and many of them had me wondering, "How the heck did that get on this list??" How those baffling movies also won Oscars is beyond me. I suppose I just don't have the full picture of what was going on historically and socially in the film world to "get it." Oh well. I'm not in the least bit bother by that fact... only bothered that I lost a quite a few hours of my life "not getting it." 

If I could create my own Academy Awards for the flicks that I watched, here's who'd take home what:

Best Movie: Tootsie
Best Actor: Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. (He portrayed a surprisingly endearing female character - bravo to some seriously good character acting.)
Best Actress (besides Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie): Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice. While the movie wasn't my favorite (though is was one that I enjoyed, or at least appreciated, much more than others), Meryl Streep did an excellent job in this role and I'm not at all surprised that it won her a real Oscar once-upon-a-time.
Most Heart-Warming: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (but really, what else did I expect from the director and lead actor of It's a Wonderful Life?)
Most Thought-Provoking/Keep You Up at Night with the Shivers: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Good movie, but ::shudder:: creepy.
Best Dialogue: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (the witty banter between the two leads reminded me of a 1960's version of Ocean's Eleven)
Most Impressive for Its Time: Ben-Hur (even by today's standards the sets and costumes of this movie were two-thumbs-up worthy)
Give Me a Napkin to Wipe the CHEESE Award: Swing Time (terrible acting, stock-plot, disappointing musically choices, but Fred and Ginger sure can dance!!)
Good Idea, Bad Execution Award: Blade Runner (a remake of this might be a good idea)
Most Abrupt Ending: High Noon (It kinda felt like the writers couldn't figure out an impressive last line for the movie so they just ended it)
Most Mind-Numbingly Boring: 2001: A Space Odyssey (I seriously wanted to scream at how slow and pointless this film was... wait... I think I actually did scream at one point.)

And that's the end of the goal! I was a little disappointed by it - but that's okay. I think from now on I'll just stick to watching movies that I've actually heard of or, based on the trailer, think I'll actually enjoy. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

36-Weeks and Counting

I thought I should blog at least once more under the category of "Pregnant with Twins" while I still can, because who knows how soon these boys might make their grand entrance!

We've reached the 36-week mark, which is a great milestone for a twin pregnancy. I'm still up and about (however slowly, and often painfully), I'm still working 40-hours-a-week, I'm still able to get (some) sleep (somewhat) comfortably in my own bed, and while the aches and pains are increasing, every day I'm still pregnant is a day to be grateful that Weston and Isaac are staying exactly where they need to be right now. While making it to 36-weeks with twins is great, should they be born now, they would still spend some time in the NICU. I'm praying that they make it to 38-weeks as little-to-no complications would be expected at that point. 

This pregnancy had been so incredibly unusual. I don't mean because I'm carrying twins (as that is an anomaly in and of itself), but because I'm carrying twins and staying so unusually low-risk. All the ailments and complications that are common with twin pregnancy - unbearable morning sickness, bedrest, gestational diabetes, preterm labor (birth prior to 37-weeks: almost safe from that one!), uneven growth of the babies, crazy mood swings (oh, wait - that is pregnancy in general), placental abruption... the list of things that I have avoided goes on and on and on. I totally don't get it, but I feel so blessed.  

Beyond God's grace (which for some reason He decide to doll out generously in this pregnancy), I think a lot of what I've been experiencing (or not experiencing) is due largely to some of the natural child birth methods I'm been applying.  

For example, I've been on a very healthy, high-protein diet (the Brewer Diet) which seems to have kept the babies and myself healthy and growing strong. Not only that, I'm convinced that this diet has helped to keep any crazy mood swings at bay. (Interestingly, emotional meltdowns - in pregnant women, children and humans in general - are often due in part to low blood sugar and poor diet.) Though I have been making extra efforts to choose to be calm, positive and sane during this pregnancy, I think the balanced meals have helped.

Something else that has been irreplaceable during my pregnancy is the amazing care and encouragement that Devin, the babies and I have received from our team of midwives. The practice we were with for the first three months would talk very often about how "high-risk" I was simply for having twins and that caused a lot of undo stress on me, especially since there were no high-risk signs - the doctors just seemed to assume I'd be high-risk and didn't take me into consideration as an individual. 

When we switched to midwife care, there was such a drastic change in attitude towards my twin pregnancy that I was instantly calmed and the anxiety I felt over carrying twins was lifted. While the midwives acknowledged "twins can be ornery sometimes", they were also encouraging about how healthy I was, how my body was designed to bear and birth babies and just because I was carrying twins did not mean I was "high risk" unless signs of something "high risk" actually manifested. What a relief and what an encouragement not to worry so much about all the "what ifs" and just concentrate on staying healthy, being positive and growing some babies!

36-week belly picture
And growing they are! My belly is a shocking, mis-proportioned protrusion that causes eye-bugging from passer byers wherever I go. Others' reactions have been a source of great amusement for me. 

It is so strange to think that we'll be welcoming Weston and Isaac into our lives any day now. I've finally come to grips with being pregnant (just in time huh?) and feel as prepared as I can be for labor. I can even imagine what it might be like to see and hold our little guys for the first time. But when I think about bringing them home - into our apartment, our schedules, our lives forever - that is really hard to wrap my "doesn't handle change- even good change- well" mind around.  

That we are in for a life-altering adventure there is no doubt. That we will be stretched, challenged and desperately dependent on God's grace, wisdom and strength to get us through this journey - I'm convinced. I'm excited for it all and not ready for any of it, but God chose to give us these unexpected blessings and I fully trust that He'll equip us to handle these gifts. Here we go!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Goal #44 - Dates with Devin (13 and 14 of 20)

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here. 

Goal #44: Go on 20 of the dates listed in the books Dates on a Dime and Coffee Dates for Couples  (Please Note: I have no recollection whatsoever of what we did for the 12th date, but I know we did something because I tallied it off of The List.) 

There's nothing that can shock you back into dating your spouse quite like preparing to have twins (okay - maybe preparing to have triplets would be more of a shock...). About a week ago Devin casually commented, "Do you realize that we only have three-to-four more weekends of it being just the two of us and then we are parents forever?"  


As those words were echoing through the space between us in the car (and then came back around to smack us in the face once more) - we realized we'd better get some more dating in before our world is shifted forever. (FOR-E-VER...) 

Date 13-of-20: 
From Dates on a Dime: "Using your best china, dine by candlelight at home. Remember to keep it simple: serve a meal from the grocer's freezer case."

This one ended up being kind of a dud. There were candles, there were nice dishes, there were easy (but yummy) leftovers and their were two people sitting at the table. But romantic? Not so much. A date? Hardly. Probably due to the fact that I didn't really present it as "a romantic date at home." My attempt to create a spontaneous, romantic dinner turned out to be fifteen minutes of the two of us silently eating food in a dark room. Oh well, better luck next time. 

Date 14-of-20: 
From Dates on a Dime: "Check out your employee benefits packages. They might include special rates on theme parks, hotels, etc." 

Now we were talking! Labor Day weekend Devin stole me away (but not too far away - we needed to stay close to the hospital just in case) for a two-night stay at a lovely hotel in Scottsdale for which his FedEx employee status afforded us a discount. It was fantastic.

We were able to relax all weekend - far, far away from to do lists, obligations, and our currently discombobulated apartment. We swam, watched movies, cranked the AC to 70 degrees without worrying about the electric bill, talked about the future, slept as long and as often as we wanted to (gotta cherish that privilege while we can), went out to a nice dinner, went on a couple of coffee dates (decaf for me of course), played nerdy computer games, and just had an all-around great time spending time just the two of us. It was wonderful. (I also made daily use of the giant jacuzzi tub and boy did it help my carrying-twins aches and pains!) 

The whole weekend was romantic and refreshing and wonderful and reminded me again how much I really, really like my husband. He's pretty alright. ;-) 

Funny Side Story: The looks we received while out-and-about were amusing. The size of my belly and the fact that I'm still mobile is quite shocking to some people apparently. We walked into an art gallery and while the curator greeted us kindly, he also asked (with a slight look of concern in his eyes) if we were trying to get labor started. I imagine he was just praying that my water didn't break in his pristine showroom. 

Another time, we were out to lunch at Paradise Bakery and the couple in the booth next to us said with an only somewhat joking tone, "Now, you can sit in this booth, just don't have the baby here!" Devin tried to ease their minds by telling them we were pregnant with twins and still had a few more weeks to go until our due date. It didn't seem to help as the man responded, "But twins come early!" I hope they were able to still enjoy their lunch with the Time Bomb sitting just inches from them. :-) 

To be fair, I can't really blame people. Check out this 35-weeks-pregnant-with-twins time bomb:


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Goal #39 COMPLETE: Calm My Anxious Heart

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here. 

Goal 39: Read Calm My Anxious Heart - COMPLETE
Hi. My name is Jennifer and I'm a worryaholic.

Hi Jennifer.

I have a problem - an addiction if you will. My drugs of choice? - "Whys?" "What Ifs" and "If Onlys." I put this book on The List as the first step to recovery (admitting I had a problem). The second step was actually reading the book. From there, the steps get kinda fuzzy, but I know two things: 1) I feel like something can, should and will be done about my worry problem. 2) I am very grateful that I read this book when I did (about a month before my due date).

As if my constant battle with worrying weren't chronic enough, I've now got motherhood to add to my easy excuses as to why it's "okay" to worry. We've all heard it said, "It's a mother's job to worry." And trust me, you hear it (and read it) even more when you're pregnant. (And probably even more when you have the kid.)

But if a mother claims to put her trust in God, how can worrying be her purpose as a mother? It makes no sense and the contradiction can't possibly be Biblical. (Even if a mother doesn't claim to trust in God, I think we can all agree worry is useless and gets us nowhere.) 

While I don't know the Bible cover-to-cover, I can't remember ever finding or hearing about a verse that gives believers permission to worry. Instead, we are told: Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5-6), Do not worry (Matthew 6:25-34), Do not be anxious (Phil. 4:6), Be content in everything (Phil. 4:11). But a cop-out for worrying even though God tells us not to? It ain't in there folks.

Another area where worry gets a hold of me - my actions, not just my thoughts - is in the area of control. I'm a planner and a doer and "waiting on the Lord" is not in my instincts. I'd much rather say a quick prayer and then plunge ahead with my plans if I don't get a speedy response. I "take" control from God when I feel He's being too slow in giving me a clear, precise direction. Being that God is ultimately in control, it shouldn't keep surprising me that time and time again this course of action has done me zero good and brings me right back to worrying as I wonder, "Will this work?" or "Did I make the right decision?" or "What now?"

(Now, the flip-side to this is stepping out in faith. Not really sure yet how "waiting on the Lord" and "stepping out in faith" work together, but I do know that "stepping out in faith in myself" hasn't worked out so great in my life.)

My biggest take-away and put-it-into-action from this book has been learning to turn my worries into praise and prayer. Here's an example: Worry: I don't feel prepared to become a mom. Praise: Thank You Lord for choosing to bless me with these two little boys. Prayer: God, please teach me to be a good, godly mom. Show me how to live in a way that teaches my sons to love You and love others. I need Your help Lord - I know I can't do it without You.

This practice has helped me a lot and it gives my whirling, worrying mind something positive to focus on and causes me to spend more time in prayer admitting my need for God rather than trying to rely on myself (and thus adding to the my stress, worry and burdens).

Second-to-Bottom Line: Worry is no fun. It's a waste of time and energy. It's un-Biblical.

Actual Bottom Line: Not worrying is something that is learned - it takes practice and trust and I've got a big ol' "Work In Progress" sign on my heart and head right now.

"As we grow in trusting God in all things, our contentment becomes an act of worship... we worship God more by contentment than when we come to hear a sermon or spend a half-hour in prayer. These are certainly acts of worshiping God, but they are only external. The soul worship of God is to be content with what He gives, to be thankful in all things." - Calm My Anxious Heart

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ssekos: These shoes are made for changing the world...

If you were reading my blog around Christmas last year, then you know that I love giving/receiving gifts and making purchases that help someone in need. Fair-trade items, items made by artisans living in poverty-stricken counties, or by ex-prostitutes coming out of the sex trade, or by widows who are being taught a trade to provide for themselves and their children. Those kinds of purchases just bless my day and I love when these items (usually clothing or accessories of some kind) act as a springboard for conversations with others about caring for the poor.

courtesy of the Sseko website
I recently heard about Sseko shoes and desperately wanted a pair of my own. A cute pair of shoes that I could style in endless ways and that helped some young ladies in Uganda - yes please! I happened to have some "just for fun" money that Devin had given me to spend on myself, just for fun (that's hard for the practical, frugal, giving side of me to do sometimes) and the Sseko purchase allowed me to spoil myself with something fun and help someone in need: ha! win/win (and a little bit sneaky).

courtesy of the Sseko website
My favorite thing about Sseko as an organization (besides that they are in Uganda) is that they hire recent high school graduates to make the shoes, not in order to learn the trade of a shoemaker, but so these young ladies can save money to go to college and become the next generation of doctors, teachers and leaders in their country. During a nine month paid internship program, Sseko automatically puts 50% of the girls' fair-wage salaries into a college fund and whatever the girls save for college out of their remaining 50%, Sseko matches at the end of the nine months. It is an awesome program that encourages these young women with so few opportunities to pursue a positive future.

When my Ssekos arrived, I immediately started trying out some of the different styling options (not an easy feat while heavily pregnant, I'll tell you that!) The possibilities seem truly endless, but I've only tried four different ties so far. Here's how I wore my Ssekos the first few weeks:

I varied this one a little because my foot wouldn't stay in them when tied like the photo.
The shoes are really well made and I think that when I can easily reach my toes again, I'll enjoy styling them a bit more. I also got an additional pair of red straps so I can really change up the look of the shoes when I feel like it. Some of the styles I tried were more comfortable or stayed on my feet better than others (I also think I got a size too big, which might be part of the problem), but over-all they seem like a good product with a great purpose! So go ahead, put a pair of Ssekos on your Birthday/Christmas/Just For Fun List!