double the love

babiesinheartThis is the girls’ first Valentine’s Day and I am over the moon about celebrating with them. Everything is so much more exciting with babies … double that excitement with twins! We had this mini photoshoot and while I’m very proud of the pictures I took, the garland I made, and how everything came together, I also see looooots of room for improvement.
And, the way my hobbies are set up – I’m going to get a lot of practice!

… and, don’t judge the paci’s. (smile.)

moving on…

During our struggles with infertility, what made me the saddest was the idea that I would never be able to experience all of the things I’d envisioned doing with my kids and family, that I wouldn’t be able share the things that I love with them and vice versa…. that I wouldn’t be able to experience the joy that children bring to your home. So, now that these sweethearts have graced my life, I want to celebrate them and play and share and experience and teach and learn and grow with them as much as possible.

One of the things I want to teach them most is how to love like Christ loves us. I mean, He’s going to teach them…. but I just wanna play TA, and be the example. Kinda like a class pet. I want to be one of the ones called on to show and lead and to help.vday1

A friend’s Insta post caused me to really think about how our culture loves and responds to certain behaviors….. very “He did this so i’m not cooking… or doing that” and “I’m not going home because she’s nagging.”  So, I got to thinking about how our behaviors are so rooted in fear and pride that we can’t love like Jesus. Jesus could love the Pharisees and Judas (of all people) because his behavior was based on their crowd approval or their day to day choices. Jesus treated people the way he did because of His love for God and seeking his approval only. Christ teaches us to serve as unto God…. not until we get what we want, not when we feel like it, it, and not quitting if someone does something we don’t like or when our feelings get hurt. Jesus knew that people are just people. We aren’t perfect. We make stupid mistakes, we make emotional decisions, we get tired, we yell, we get frustrated and we SIN. We do some very opposite of awesome things and say some very opposite of loving things because we are fallible. But, not unlovable. Not unworthy of a second or millionth chance. In desperate need grace and mercy.

This kind of love is completely countercultural and down right difficult at times. It requires humility and a heart for God. It requires constant prayer and sacrifice of ego. This kind of love is invaluable. It can’t be measured. And, it teaches others to love in a way that lasts.

*** What it isn’t is an invitation to be a doormat… it takes a mighty strength to love another this way, a strength that won’t allow you to be treated any kind of way, and a strength that will let you communicate that in the best way. lol. get me?
(I’m learning, too!! Boundaries aren’t always easy to establish!)
Jesus didn’t play. You don’t have to either. lol***vday2

Even if relationships end or change, even if you have to walk away from a toxic situation….. loving like this will never be a waste. It leaves the door open for a reconciliation of friendship and relationship (even if it’s on a different level). Loving like this will heal and strengthen. It’s accepting when you fail and encouraging when you’re vulnerable. It’s a love that doesn’t humiliate or tear down. A love that softens hard conversations and is open and inviting. It’s courageous.

This is love.
The kind of love I’m learning and becoming excellent at. A love I am constantly praying for. The kind that is the standard for my behavior, it shows me where I’m failing miserably at. Because I’m a person. It’s the love that forgives me and gives me grace. That gives me twelve hundred more tries. The one that comforts me in my brokenness and celebrates in my success.
This love is Jesus.

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call it experienced…

rhyannday5

 

Is this not just the sweetest fetal position ever? 

So, like any woman who gives birth, one of our concerns is getting our bodies “back”. I’m not obsessive about my body or what I eat by any means but I’d be lying if I said I don’t look in the mirror and think “oh…… gawsh. I won’t ever be the same.”

I know that my girls being in the NICU has me distracted from a lot. Getting my body back being the top of the list. I can’t focus on my body when I’m spending my days with my girls – they’re more important than anything.

But, this morning, I got a bit of perspective that I appreciate more than life.

This morning, I was getting dressed in front of the mirror and I see all of the stretch marks that grace my sides and surround my belly button. While I was pregnant I didn’t mind because my belly was full and the stretch marks didn’t seem so bad. But now that there are no babies filling me, everything is much looser and kinda deflated. So, my marks seem more pronounced.

I literally said, “My body is ruined.”
Then, my very next thought was, “No, honey… it’s experienced.

I have had the glorious opportunity to experience a pregnancy… a pregnancy unassisted by medicine, one that wasn’t accompanied by the stress of “getting pregnant”, one that completely a surprise. Something that I didn’t think would ever happen. I’ve had to go through fertility treatments, I’ve had to deal with the disappointment of failed attempts month after month and it was devastating.

I had the opportunity to carry twins… to experience them grow… to feel them kick and squirm… to watch them breathe, hiccup, yawn, and move.

This pregnancy has allowed me to experience motherhood. Looking at my girls everyday reminds of how blessed we are, how faithful our God is, and how sweet life can be.

This pregnancy was something I thought I would ever experience and if it caused me to have a few stretch marks – so be it.

My body may or may not return to it’s pre-pregnancy size…. I don’t know how long my little pooch will be. But, it’s alright. It truly is okay. Would I like for my mid section to be nice and tight? To be flat? To not show that life even existed inside of me before? I don’t know.

What I do know is that there’s no need to rush the process of getting back into shape…. especially after carrying two! There’s no need to stress and add even more (self-induced) pressure. We’ll get there. I mean between my incredibly high blood pressure and waiting for my milk to come in, worrying about my body isn’t going to help anything.

As new moms, we are bombarded with so many images and perspectives that tell us what we should look like after having our children. Yes, I think it’s stinking awesome that many of my friends have amazing bounce back a month or two after having their babies. But, that isn’t everyone’s story for whatever reason. Obviously, the more children you carry, the more difficult it could be to come back. I’d encourage every new mama, including myself, to focus on being healthy first. Caring for yourself first. And, giving yourself time to heal, recover, and lose however much weight you gained over the last 8-10 months. Time. It’s alright to look like you had a baby/babies – you did!

Love yourself. Love your experience. Love the time it takes and don’t rush yourself. And, remind me to do the same! And, when we do get the all clear to work out – let’s be gentle with ourselves. Eating well is the first step in getting pre pregnancy self back…. so we can start that NOW. Can we start there? Together? Postpartum or not…….. you in? 🙂

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speechless…

day1I am a mama.
It’s unreal. It’s beautiful. It’s certainly special.

It’s hard to believe that a couple of weeks ago these little girls were in my belly kicking and squirming….. There are moments where I expect to feel a jolt or someone getting comfortable but instead I have moments where these little girls are in my arms squirming and peacefully laying on my chest.

I thank God for my girls daily……
Thank Him for honoring his promises…..
I thank God for blessing us with children I never thought we’d have.
logan2

The past couple of weeks have been so difficult for me. Ten days in the hospital, a kidney infection, sky high blood pressure, and sudden onset of pre-eclampsia really caused me to be very emotional and disappointed about how the last couple of weeks played out. Every time I even began to complain, I was reminded of how God saw to it that when my health began to falter, I’d be in the best place possible to be taken care of. I was reminded how of great of a pregnancy I’d had and how great it was that I’d been able to carry my girls to 34 weeks. My doctor (who is phenomenal) constantly reminded me of how my small frame carried so much for as long as it could…. that my belly was measuring 43 cm at 34w. That my uterus was literally stretched well past that of one carrying a singleton full term and that everything was fine.

A quick little update:
My girls were born by c-section due to pre-eclampia at 34w and 1 day. They weighed 4 lbs 13 oz and 4 lbs 6 oz and are in NICU to basically feed and grow. They are doing a magnificent job and are meeting their milestones and taking all of their adjustments in stride. For our hospital, they are required to meet a few milestones before going home which they seem to be doing a lot faster than I thought they would. logan4
In order to go home, they have to be able to:
a.) maintain their body temps b.) gain and maintain their weight c.) sleep with no apnea d.) suck/swallow/breathe simultaneously.

And, right now they’re able to maintain their body temps and should be transitioning from their incubator to an open crib within the next day or so. Initially, their incubator was heated, covered by a blanket that kept the light out, and they slept on a z-flow which prevented them from moving around so they wouldn’t burn calories and in turn lose weight. They were able to have their lamps turned off a couple of days ago and as of today, they no longer had their z-flow or blanket covering their incubators! Not only that, but their incubator tops will now stay open for 24 hours! If they do well, THEN they will move to an open crib!! Definitely progress and definitely reason to praise God and be ever so grateful that they’re able to maintain their body temps on their own!!!

The girls are sleeping incredibly well (no sleep apnea!!!) and are able to drink their milk from a bottle with no issue. Suck/swallow/breathe – check!!  The nurses are steadily increasing the amount of milk their have and the girls are able to keep up with the increases!! They do tend to fall asleep during feedings, but they are finishing and that’s most important! Logan has a feeding tube that was put in because she was having difficulty finishing her bottles at first. But now, she’s eating like a champ and hasn’t had even a portion of her bottles fed through her tube for the last couple of days! They’ve gained most of the weight they lost after delivery, which is normal, and are ounces from their birth weight.

I was discharged from the hospital today and had to leave my sweet girls which was easier than I thought it would be because I know they’re in great hands. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but knowing they’re being taken care of and are best where they are makes it less stressful. Plus, I have access to their charts and can call the NICU anytime (which I will before I go to sleep!!) to get updates and check in! logan3

These girls are the sweetest little people…. It’s amazing to see how much they change every day….. It’s so fun to watch them learn and do new things – like smile in their sleep or calm when held skin to skin or cuddled.

All of this feels like a dream. It feels so unreal. I don’t think that these little people are the ones that have been with me for 8 months, that they’re MINE, that they’ll be coming home with us soon has really hit me. I think I’m still in shock that I even got pregnant so to be here taking care of my babies seems impossible, like a fairy tale.

But, I could never be more grateful. Their lives are testaments to God’s goodness and grace, his love and complete affections for us. His fantastic plans that not only blow ours out of the water but bring us more than we could even think, plan, or imagine. This time last year or even January of this year, I would not have imagined that by the end of the year, we would have two beautiful daughters of our very own.

I’m humbled and honored that we would be blessed in such a major way…… Honoring God in my parenting is my ultimate goal; I don’t know of another way to “repay” or show thankfulness other than treating the gifts I’ve been given with the utmost respect and gentleness. The girls’ birth has also challenged me to be more respectful and honoring to my husband, as well. I want them to grow up with a healthy image of relationships – their ups and downs, the amount of work, grace, and forgiveness involved, the benefit of them.

I’m looking forward to this experience more than anything in the world…. but, I’m also looking forward to this “nap” I’m about to take. Why just a nap? Because I’m up every couple hours pumping and taking meds. Woot – woot. lol. Great practice for when the girls get home,right?

More updates coming soon!!!
Thank y’all so much for the notes, gifts, visits, emails, texts, and on and on and on! 🙂 We’ve loved them and they’ve made our last couple of weeks that much more bearable!!

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