The GOOD Stuff about Having a Baby (or Twins) -Part 1

When I was about to bring two humans into the world at the same time, for my first time bringing humans into the world at all, I was scared.  I wanted to know every possible challenge that was going to come my way so I could begin preparing myself to tackle them all.  Unfortunately, after I read blog after blog about the challenges presented with parenting, I became very *blogged down by all the negatives.  This seemingly entirely negative life experience we had embarked on was overwhelmingly depressing, and for a while, I had a hard time figuring out why everyone was so “excited” for me that I was having a baby (babies.)  To my friends who already had kids who only seemed to talk about their icky adventures, I began asking, or rather pleading with them, “Please, there must be something good!  Anything?  Why did you have 3 kids?  Tell me.  There has to be SOME good, right?!”  I am here to tell you there is a lot more than just “some” good.

The Birth Itself

Terrifying!!!  Right?  Let me get this straight…1st, I’m going to dump like a gallon of water out of my body which begins the process of non-duplicated by any other experience pain, and then after hours and hours of this, I’m going to evict 7 lbs of  a blubber ball out of my body by means of a tiny opening it’s not really supposed to fit through?!  Not quite.  None of those words find their way in any means into my description of the day I gave birth to my twins.  🙂  It’s not the daunting, rushing-down-the-hall-on-a-gurney experience you see in the movies.  There is time.  There is even calmness.  The moment you go into labor, you don’t feel that much at all; except maybe, nervous excitement.

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See this? This is not a terrified or pained face! This is the face of nervous excitement! 🙂

After all, the moment you’ve been anticipating for somewhere around 9 months is finally here!  There is time to finish packing your bag with the last-minute things.  It can even take hours for your contractions to become regular enough for it to be a good time to go to the hospital.  I took a shower and shaved my legs one last time! Yes, I was still able to shave my legs with close to 12lbs of baby(ies) and their separate water sacks and placentas in my belly…muscle memory.  🙂  I was in labor for 7 total hours ( I’m thankful) without drugs, got to experience the natural feeling of pushing Pierce out, and I loved it.  I was in pain.  I screamed.  I cursed.  But, I can honestly say I’d do it all over again right now if I could.  It was such a life-altering precious moment that I won’t soon forget, and hope to experience again someday.  A lot of that is because…

 

1) You get a baby at the end!  But seriously, the moment your child is placed upon your chest for the first time, the world stops turning.

Now this is the face of complete and total awe. Completely unaware that my husband was snapping pics, I was lost in a new world. 🙂

Everything that was happening just seconds before has been forgotten and I’m pretty sure there’s like lights and fairy dust dancing around you in circles while happy music plays.  Okay, back to serious; everything looks different.  You’re filled with a lightness, a feeling of completion, and a joy that runs so deep through you that you forget everything it took to get to that moment, and you forget about everyone else in the room for just a moment while you look at your child for the first time, and tell him everything is going to be okay.  You wish time could stand still forever, and think life will never get better than this moment.  Alas, this is only the beginning of good things caused by having a child in your life.  And if you’re having twins, you do it all over again just a few minutes later!

 

Newborn 
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Our little O all burrito-d up at the hospital. 🙂
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Precious P compared to the size of an 8 oz glass of water his first night at home. 🙂

 

Are you kidding me?  What is NOT good about having a newborn?  Okay, everyone knows newborns have ridiculously tiny stomachs, and as a result must wake up every 2-3 hours to eat again, but I’ll take it!  It only lasts a short while, and hello most precious adorable innocent sweet little thing with the most potential in the entire world I’ve ever seen!  I was hesitant, tense, and downright spooked about bringing home not one, but TWO newborns at the same time, and I’m sure most can understand my concerns.  But forget all the real concerns, is there seriously about to be puke, poop, and whatever else comes out of those things all over our apartment all the time?!  No.  Not even close.  When I look back now on our time with our 2 newborns in our house, I remember everything around us feeling so clean.  Almost sterile.  This was because…

1. They Eat, and Therefore Also Puke & Poo, Very Little

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Shocking…I know

I remember back to a time when we used to celebrate the twins drinking 1 ml, and then 1/2 ounce, and then when they moved up to a FULL ounce!  They definitely don’t give you that “eating you out of house and home” feeling for quite a long time, and because they eat so little, they also produce very little puke and poo!  Keeping newborns clean is actually easier than you’d expect. 🙂

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Godfather S feeding teeny amounts to tiny P
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Uncle T looking like a natural, considering our babies were the first he ever held! 🙂

Also, don’t forget a huge aid in keeping newborns clean is the fact that…

2) Newborns don’t move.  When you lay them down, get something to eat, use the restroom, and then come back into the room….they’re still in the exact same spot.  They’re not going anywhere unless you put them there. 🙂

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A P and a pillow on the couch. Neither one will move from that spot. 🙂

 

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Mr. O making it pretty easy for Daddy to get some work done. 🙂
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Even awake and a couple months later..same deal. 🙂

 

3) Newborns also sleep through everything.    You could be at home, at a party, at a concert, or in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, and if they needed sleep, they’d just be snoozing away.  It’s quite nice.  You can take them out as often, and for as long as you want!

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Can you find the baby? There is one behind D, asleep on the couch, in the midst of this lively game party! 🙂

 

4) That We’re-the-Only People-in-the-World-Right-Now Feeling

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Middle of the night feedings.  They’re inevitable.  But you can change your attitude and how you deal with them to make them special.  Would you believe me if I told you I miss them?  I do.  They only last a short time, and there’s something about being up in the middle of the night with your baby (or twins), when it seems like the rest of the whole world is asleep, and you’re the only ones up adventuring.  It’s an almost indescribable feeling, but if you’ve been there, you know the one I’m talking about.  I believe it to be the real beginnings of bonding experiences with your child (or children).  🙂

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6 Weeks

6. 6 week old babies start going longer stretches between feedings, especially at night.  It was around this time when I was able to ease up on the feeding or pumping every 2-3-ish hours, and I was able to start sleeping a lot longer stretches.  I think I started with 6 hour stretches, but soon enough I was sleeping 8 hour stretches!  Now, the babies were not yet doing this, but my husband and I slept in shifts, and there are just enough hours in a day for you to sleep 8 hours, your husband to sleep 8 hours, and then for him to go to work for 8 hours (provided he has no commute; D was able to finish working from home during his awake “shift”).  As soon as he came home from work around 5, I would head to bed.  I’d get up at 1, and send him to bed for the night.  He’d get up 9, and head to work!

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The babies slept much better in their “pumpkin chairs,” (as put by Grandma P), so they slept there for the first 3 months or so, and basically never left the living room. 🙂

 

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Of course, they always slept best up on chests. 🙂

 

7.  Getting the twins to eat and sleep on the same schedule became more prevalent around 6 weeks.  Soon, we started being able to catch stretches of sleep all at the same time, and then see each other more while we were awake! 🙂

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Grandpa C showed US how to master the double feeding! We had our own variations. 🙂

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8. Baby Smiles.  Before there were giggles, there were smiles.  The first few times your baby smiles at you, you really do convince yourself it’s too good to be true. “He’s just contorting his face that way, it’s a fluke, ” etc.  Then, when you realize your baby is smiling at you on purpose, well…you can imagine the emotion. 🙂

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O-Man hamming it up for Grandpa M. 🙂
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D to me: “Look at us, we’re bro-ing out.”
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We could finally get pretty good smiles on both of them at the same time for their 3 month pictures! 🙂

 

3 Months

9. Sleep Training

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3-4 months post due date is when the sleep training book we read and believed in, ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins,’ (also available in, ‘Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child’) said it was an acceptable time for sleep training.  I could and probably will write an entire blog post on sleep training, but just in case you’re curious, we went with the “Extinction Method,” or in layman’s terms, “The Cry It Out Method.”  Okay, I know this is extremely controversial, and a lot of people will have a problem with it, but I’m a firm believer in you have to do whatever works for you!  THIS worked/continues to work for us.  It took 3 days and the kids have essentially been sleeping through the night ever since.  Of course, of course, we have the occasional sickness, teething, and what-not, where we usually end up having to re-train them afterwards because they get used to sleeping in bed with Mama and Dada.   But, this continues to work for us.  I mean, sleeping through the night!  3 months (post due date) was good to us!

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Once the babies were sleep trained, they started falling asleep super easy whenever they were tired like they used to in the first days! They even fell asleep randomly in the middle of this photo shoot I had been having with them. 🙂

 

10.  Baby Giggles

Baby giggles out of YOUR child are practically life-changing.

I mean, come on….no matter what they threw at me during the day, this erased it all. 🙂

To Be Continued…

*Haha, get it? Blogged down=bogged down

You Might Need An Attitude Adjustment

Note:  Anxiety and depression are real.  If you think you might struggle with either one of these, please seek help.  
If you're having problems with your mood and/or emotions ALL of the time, try the first 3 things vital for regulating the human body. (Pray).  Eat.  Sleep.  Exercise.  Make it a regular thing.  You might be surprised how much things tend to go out of whack when you forget to eat and sleep.  And when you're out of whack, you don't realize you're not eating and sleeping.  Remember if you don't take care of yourself first, you can't take care of anyone else!  If you already know you're fine, but you're just having troubles feeling grateful lately, read on. :)

My husband came home from work.  “How was your day?” he asked.

I asked him before the kids were born to never come home and ask me, “What did you do today?” because that would make me feel like I accomplished nothing.  He said that was ridiculous because every day my answer could just be, “I raised two kids,” and he would high five me and act like I changed the world, but alas, we came to an agreement that he would just ask me, “How was your day?”  I don’t know….I may be starting to rethink this now.  Here is why:

Are you one of those people who can just never seem to catch a break?  Is your boss always saying the most horrifying things to you?  Do you have a coworker you can’t get away from who makes your life hellish at work?  Do you always seem to catch one cold after the next?  What about the kids?  Have they been sick for seemingly the last 7 months, and that’s how long it’s been since you’ve had a decent night sleep?  Are you saying, “Yes, yes, yes, that’s me!”  Here’s one more question for you:  Do you focus too much on all the negative things that have happened to you, and not nearly enough on the positive things?  Try this instead; tell me all the positive things that have happened in the last 7 months.

Seriously.  Do it.  And none of this, “Well, I did get a raise at work, but now I have more responsibilities, so it’s harder.”  You got a RAISE at work?!  That’s awesome!!  Can we just celebrate that, please?  The reason I’m asking you to list out all the positive things that have happened is because I promise, it will make you feel better.  This is one of the basic laws of life.  If you focus on all the positive things that have happened over time, you will feel like you accomplished more, you felt great doing it, and now life is good again. 🙂

When my husband comes home from work, all I want to do is vent.  The way I feel is I have about 9 hours of kid craziness to catch him up on, and I want him to hear it all, so he knows what I’m dealing with, and how lucky he is to escape it all at work!  Right?  Ick.  Wrong!  First of all, my husband loves me and our kids to the moon and back and does not get his kicks by “escaping” us all day long at work.  He wishes he could stay home with us.  Second of all, he doesn’t really get to “escape.”  He goes and puts all the rest of the energy he has left into his job.  Lastly, and most importantly, do you want to create an environment that your spouse is happy to rush home to every day, and is good energy for you and your kids, or not?

“So, how was your day?” my husband asked me.

“It was good.  Well, the kids both slept for 3 hours, but at different times, and P needed me to hold him the whole time, so… where was my break?”  ”

“Yeah, so…… what about that was good?”

I did not want to tell him.  I wanted to complain more.  Clearly, he wasn’t hearing me, or he would have expressed some sympathy for me, right?

It was then that it suddenly occurred to me I might be the one who needed to change my attitude for this conversation.  I thought maybe, just maybe, if I could get over myself for 2 seconds and answer the dang question honestly, we might get somewhere.

“Well…..I finally got to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy since P needed me to hold him while he was sleeping, one of my friends volunteered to babysit for free, the kids sat still long enough in their high chairs during lunch for me to clean the whole kitchen………….heyyyyy, today was a good day!  Actually, I got some stuff done today.  I didn’t waste today!”

I didn’t want to be treated like a little kid and forced to list the positive things.  I wanted to sit around and complain like two adults.  Isn’t that what adults do?  But then, I tried it.  It changed me on the spot.  It changed my attitude, my feelings about the day, my demeanor towards my husband and my kids, and I felt better.  Sometimes, even just the power of saying things out loud is amazing.

Now, who is with me, and who is still being a sourpuss?  Are you sitting there thinking, “Okay, I tried.  I tried to look back, and find positive things, and nothing came up”?  Look, I do have compassion.  I realize sometimes life hands you really shitty, rotten lemons, and there really is nothing you can do to change those lemons.  You may need to grieve.  Then afterwards, you can hopefully focus on what you do have that is good in order to keep yourself trudging forward.  One of the most joyful and positive people I know hasn’t lived the easiest life.  In the time span of about 3 years, both of her kids moved away, both of her parents and her brother died, she got divorced, her sister went back into the hospital and then needed my friend to take her into her house due to her mental illness, her daughter’s cancer doctors told her her daughter’s cancer came back, she lost several jobs, and oh yeah, she suffered major financial problems.  How is this person one of the most joyful people I know?  1) With God.  2) Because she finds it.  She laughs at everything.  She finds joy in her grandbabies, in being alive, and the family in her life that is also still alive.

If even still, you’re not feeling very positive about your life, you’re going to force me to go even deeper.  In what do I place great joy in my life?  If you know me, you’re probably guessing my kids or my husband, but my first answer is (of course God, and then) being alive.  When I was first diagnosed with stage IV terminal cancer at 9 years old, the first question I asked my doctor was whether or not I was going to die.  My doctor said, “We’re going to do everything we can.”   Even at 9, I knew that meant, “maybe.”  People who know me like to tease me about being the most excitable person they know.  Is it that hard to believe I have been excited about waking up every single day of my life since I found out I might not get to live it anymore?  After incomplete resection of my type of cancer, the 10-year survival rate is no higher than 45%.  I had my first incomplete resection 18 years and 4 months ago.  Not only do I just get to live, but I get to live my life pain free, with no bad residual effects!  I must be the luckiest person alive!  (God is good.)

Do I need to go even deeper?  Okay, listen to this dude talk about orphans in the Philippines for an hour, and hopefully you can see how blessed your life has been.  (If you still feel like you had a bad day, go talk to your doctor, or another professional.  Seriously.  There is no shame, and it might be a healthy decision.  I recommend counseling to everyone I know.)

“Okay, little-miss-bright-side-of-friggin-everything-mom, I know I lead a blessed life, and I have lots of things that other people don’t, but sometimes I just need to vent! Okay?!”

Okay, I agree.  Sometimes, we need to vent to people (especially us extroverts), so we can hear ourselves thinking out loud.  But, can we change these conversations from just ranting complaining to figuring stuff out, seeing the other side, and finding the positives?  If not the positives in that situation, then in other things you have?  How else are we supposed to feel better?

I’m considering asking my husband to change his tune to the question every wife hates to hear, “What did you do today?”  I might just be able to use this as an opportunity to start listing out all the positive things that happened to me.  Then, I can get my focus right, forget the small stuff, and let my attitude be adjusted. 🙂

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My two and a half MONTH baby, O, (last year) in the hospital giggling up a storm before his foot surgery.
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A mere 12 hours after going under anesthesia and being sliced into, my baby O is smiling again, despite the pain, because he sees his mommy and daddy, so life is (obviously) good. 🙂 This little man has taught D and I more about being positive than anything or anyone else.
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After he was done with months of wearing casts where he couldn’t bend his legs at all, (and go into that froggy pose that most newborns love), little O had to wear these braces on his legs 24/7 for a few months. He still wears them at night, and will continue until age 4. I should have gotten a picture of him wearing these and smiling. It wouldn’t have been hard. Despite all this, he is still the happiest baby I have ever met! Did he seriously learn perspective at only a few months of age? 🙂

 

My Road to Pregnancy…A Childhood Cancer Success Story

I have known my whole life that I wanted to have kids when I grew up.  Thus, my road towards having kids began.  It was not yet known at the time how children would come into my life, but we know now. 🙂

My road towards pregnancy started out different from some people’s.  I say “some” because, did you know, according to statistics:

In 2014, it is estimated that 15,780 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 years will be diagnosed with cancer and 1,960 will die of the disease in the United States.”

“About one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday.”


 

This is how my road started.
After being diagnosed with stage IV terminal cancer, and therefore signing on to become a guinea pig for scientists at Duke University in North Carolina, I underwent chemotherapy treatments with the highest dosages of cytoxan any child had ever received at any Children’s Hospital at that time.
Side note:  I just googled, “late effects of chemotherapy for those with childhood cancer,” and “infertility for childhood cancer patients,” so that I could learn more about it to shed some more light on the subject.  After only a few minutes of reading, I felt myself tearing up and becoming downright DEPRESSED, and I don’t like to subject myself to that!  If you would like to know more about the facts, look it up yourself! Haha!
So what I do know is anyone who has had the full-body-destroying chemo as I had is at an increased risk of infertility.  Unfortunately, given a higher dose than anyone else, they weren’t yet exactly sure what my chances were.  Furthermore, genetics always play a role in these things, and my own mother struggled to get pregnant with me for a year, and then had to have a hysterectomy.  But, there’s always a bright side, right?  My bright side was that I received all my chemo before puberty.  My doctor told me this meant I still had hope.  He has pretty much been telling me my whole life that I would have trouble getting pregnant, but that he would never completely discount something; I still had hope.
But, after about 15 years of my pediatric oncologist (I still see him every year in the long-term clinic) telling me these things, I had long since accepted adoption as my path in life to have children.  I have 3 wonderful adopted cousins, and cousins who are now wonderful parents to beautiful and great kids thanks to the adoption process.  They are my inspiration.  I had actually grown quite fond of the idea of adoption.  I mean, besides saving kids, I also had cancer.  I had the thought, “Can my genes really be that great anyway?”

My favorite nurse, Robbie, and me after she found out I was pregnant.  She was ecstatic 🙂
Dr. B and Me.  I said, “Did you ever think I’d be sitting here pregnant.”  He said, “No.”
So then, I met D.  After meeting the man of my dreams, who was everything I thought a person should be and more, I just wanted to know if I at least had the chance to replicate him into tiny humans.  It was something I thought about the whole time we dated, and I told him upfront about my potential fertility issues.  He continued to pursue me anyway! 🙂

We got engaged 2-4-12, and when I finally graduated and moved to Cali in 2012 to be with him again, I began my search for an OBGYN based on ones who were close in proximity, highly rated, and also specialized in fertility.  I found a WONDERFUL female OBGYN in Mt. View, who I was sure was going to help me through this process…eventually.  D and I weren’t even married yet, but I was thinking about our future. 🙂  Once D and I were married on 10-11-12, my mind immediately came back to the subject of my possible infertility, and I decided to make an appointment with my doctor to be tested for fertility.  I wanted to know if D and I had a window for having a child ourselves, and of course, what exactly that window looked like.

When my test results came back, D came with me to the appointment, and she was able to tell us two things:
1. Half of my egg supply had been wiped out by the chemo.
2.  Every month, a woman usually has about 16 eggs that go through the selection process until 1 egg is selected for possible fertilization.  I have about 2-3 eggs going through this process every month.

At that point she looked at us, and said, “My advice?  Don’t wait.  If you want to have kids, don’t wait.”

Despite expecting this my whole life, we were shocked.  (Much like learning later that there were actually TWO babies growing inside me!)  We were living 2500 miles away from most of our friends and all of our families in a 4 bedroom house with 3 of our best friends.  We had only been married for a couple of months.  We had not yet had our big wedding celebration in Tahoe with all our friends and family.  We knew we wanted a family, but like all our other friends our age, we wanted to wait about 5 years and get a head start on our life goals before children, so that when we had children we could truly focus all our attention on them. 

“Uhhhhh,” my husband finally managed to get out.  “When you say, ‘don’t wait,’ do you mean like another day or another year?”
       

The doctor encouraged us that based on the results, it was not in our best interest to wait at all, but we begged her for an actual time frame.  She took my age (25) into consideration, and said if we were not pregnant within a year, we should come back to begin fertility treatments.  

We needed time to process and discuss.  With having 3 roommates at our house at the time, we went to a Chinese buffet with paper and pen and laid it all out on the table.  We made a list of our goals in life.  Then we looked at the list differently for the first time, and decided whether or not we could accomplish those things with kids in our life.  We decided there was nothing on the list that we could truly be held back from by having kids.   It was an exciting and scary moment at the same time.  
 
We picked some things off the lists that seemed would indeed be easier to accomplish without kids, and we began working on them immediately.  We figured the road ahead towards getting pregnant would probably be a long one, so we had time anyway.  D got to work becoming the co-founder of a company, and I began training for my first full mountain marathon, The Big Sur Trail Marathon.  I signed up and paid to run it on September 28th, 2013.  I got really into the training.  I recruited for myself multiple unofficial running coaches, bought new marathon training tools,  recruited multiple running partners at work and at home, and made sure everything about my body was running smoothly.  Good nutrition, ample sleep, and lots of scheduled and calculated training.  I was in the best shape of my life, and the healthiest I have ever been.  About halfway through the “marathon” training, on a normal after-work run one day, I noticed myself feel extremely sick and almost like fainting after only the first mile on a flat surface.  Low and behold, I had been training for a different marathon all along.
This was taken about 10 days before my 1st pregnancy journey ended. 🙂

 

But, do you know what?  4 days after the birth of our sons, the gaming company D has been working on (Not Robot) was *officially* founded, and they will be releasing their first mobile game (Wave Crash) soon!  Additionally, 9 months after their birth, D and I completed our first half-marathon with their double jogging stroller in tow!  Are we going to go on to pursue our first full right now?  Who knows?  But, we have a good start. 🙂

My AMAZING husband ran hundreds of miles pushing this thing…and I ran a few. 🙂
This Half Marathon was the ‘Monster Dash,’ and had a costume theme.  Meet The Justice Family of America.

Our lives have gone on just as they were going before, but so. much. better. now.  We have much clearer priorities, direction, and motivation to accomplish the goals we set before ourselves.  (Not to mention the abundant giggles, love, and heart-melting. 🙂 )

  
P.S.  The title of this post should really be “My Guided Path Towards Pregnancy,” because I know God laid the whole thing out for us, and as you can see, he has been with me the whole time, guiding me, and holding the light during the times of darkness.