motherhood

man. being a mom is a trip.

there’s nothing i’ve worked harder for, nothing i’ve wanted more, and nothing i love as much as being a mom. being a mom was the ultimate goal in my life. with motherhood came an unknown confidence for me, in addition to a level of love i never knew was possible.

in stark contrast, being a mom has brought on some of the strangest and ickiest challenges. things i’d never really considered. this week has been full of these experiences.

tonight, just before bed, sweet harrison threw up everywhere. he’d been acting a little strange this afternoon, but i thought he was just tired. he played like normal but was just a little whinier and instead of denying all food like he normally does, he kept asking for food then nibbling it and throwing it away.

i mean, i knew that i’d be cleaning up puke as a mom at some point, but it’s still a surprise every time. and no matter how much you love your children, i don’t think there’s ever a scenario where you “gladly” clean up throw up. i will patiently, and lovingly handle the situation and try not to make my child feel badly about it because i know they couldn’t help it, but i don’t like it. poor boy had to go to bed without his precious blanky. and poor mom had to wipe down and sanitize a crib, wash all of the bedding, clean the carpet, put a pile of toys in the dishwasher, and hand-wash/sanitize a bucket. here’s to hoping there’s no more throwup. at least that there’s no more throwup tonight.

more interestingly- last friday. last friday when the boys and i got home, i started cleaning my kitchen. the boys were playing all over the house. after about 30 minutes, aaron came into the kitchen and very sweetly said “hm! bunny in the tv room!”

this was odd for 2 reasons.

#1- i couldn’t think of any toy bunnies in our stuffed animal collection.

#2- if we did have a stuffed bunny, aaron would either be holding it or throwing a fit because he couldn’t reach it.

our neighbors have bunnies, so i thought there was possibly a chance that one had gotten into our yard and come in through the dog door. although i thought the chance of there actually being a live bunny in my tv room was pretty low, i tentatively, but quickly, walked towards that room.

aaron and harrison could clearly sense the excitement and followed close behind.

my house is not an open concept home, and i have baby gates everywhere. before even looking in the space i closed the gate because i didn’t want any bunnies hopping out of the room and getting to where my dogs were resting in the hallway.

i peeked into the room and my caution was met with horror. there was, in fact, a real bunny in my tv room. but sadly there was not a real LIVE bunny in my tv room… clearly the bunny had sneaked into my yard while i was at work and couldn’t quite outrun one of my dogs. and whichever dog it was (I’m guessing jude..) got a little warm outside in the 115* weather and just couldn’t part with her new favorite toy and brought it inside.

my heart broke a little bit because i love bunnies, and because my neighbors are the best and i really didn’t want to tell them, and because you GUYS – aaron was SO excited about finally having a pet bunny!!!

luckily Scott had just pulled into the driveway when we found this sad scene so the boys and i played in the front room on their bikes while scott cleaned up.

i never thought that as a mom, my almost-2-year-old child would point out a dead animal in my house… but all-in-all i think the scenario played out as smoothly as it could. my neighbors are the nicest people and they were quick to assure us that we could still be friends :-). also scott came home right as we found it, so it got cleaned up quickly (not gonna lie, i would have left it there all day and waited for scott to get home and clean it up). and aaron provided such a sweet comic relief from the situation. i think “bunny in the tv room” will be a family quote that lives on for years to come, plus he still comes home every day and checks the tv room to see if the bunny has come back.

like i said – being a mom is a trip! hopefully there will be no more bunnies in my house – alive or otherwise, and hopefully harrison will feel better tomorrow and aaron won’t catch it….

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friends

you guys – it’s happening. my boys are FINALLY starting to care about one another. they’ll be two in july, and they haven’t really shown much interest in one another up to this point. in fact, when people ask about that ‘special twin bond’ i have had to tell them that my boys just don’t seem to like each other at all.

once they turned about 6 months old i started watching for signs that they cared about each other. a shared smile, a pat on the back, heck even just some eye contact! but my anticipation was met with disappointment time and time again because it seemed like the only time they noticed each other was when the other was doing something that bothered them.

lately though, aaron has been very concerned about his brother. if aaron gets a drink he likes to make sure you get one for his brother too. or if he has his diaper changed he’ll ask you to change his brother’s as well. (he calls him “brother”.)

the best instance of this ‘brotherly’ love happened yesterday. aaron wanted a snack so we left harrison in his bedroom playing with toys while he and i went to the pantry to play another round of “what should i get??” while we were in the pantry i helped myself to a hostest strudel cake. i asked aaron if he’d like to try it and he said “no.” but when i informed him that that’s what his favorite tv show character, blippi, eats in the episode at the children’s museum he was willing to give it a shot.

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he took one little bite and his eyes lit up! i thought he was going to ask for another bite, but instead he whispered “brother” and just took off walking towards his room. we got to the boys room and i waited quietly. i wanted to see how aaron would handle the situation. much to my surprise he really followed through with his plans. he walked over to harrison, put his hand on his shoulder, and said “brother! cake!”

harrison was uninterested in the cake at the time, but he did try some strudel cake after dinner, and even shared his with aaron after aaron finished his way too fast.

i love that they’re talking more! i’m hoping that they’ve really cared about each other all along and just didn’t know how to communicate it. they are generally very stoic people, always extremely focused on figuring out what’s in front of them, so maybe they cared all along and i just couldn’t read them.

hard times

it’s national infertility awareness week. having personally experienced the struggle with bringing children into the world this week has a significant meaning to me. 

i wanted to be a mother my whole life – more than i ever wanted to be anything else. after 10 months of trying, one of our friends recommended that we see a fertility specialist. she said she had, and she learned that her thyroid was messing with her hormones. she took some thyroid medication and boom! she was pregnant. 

we figured if a fertility specialist could fix our problem so easily, we may as well see one! our experience was different than our friends. he didn’t have answers as to why we couldn’t conceive, he could only offer various fertility medications accompanied by invasive treatments. the doctor suggested we try a few rounds of IUI’s (intrauterine insemination) and then move into IVF (in vitro fertilization) if that didn’t work. 

we were still pretty young, and both worked in a call center, so money was tight. but IUI’s are more cost effective than IVF so we decided to give them a try. now i say more cost effective, but WITH our very decent insurance, we were still investing about $1500 per month in medications and appointments. we tried this process for four heartbreaking months. just before our third wedding anniversary, our clinic called me and told me that my fourth cycle hadn’t worked, and if it hadn’t worked after this fourth time then the probability of it working after this dropped considerably and they recommended we move forward with IVF. 

my heart broke. we couldn’t afford IVF, and honestly id lost my faith in any of these treatments. we didn’t move forward with it. 

for 5 years we struggled with not being able to have children. im pretty private with my emotions as im experiencing something, so not many people knew that we had even ever tried to start a family. every time someone asked me if we wanted kids i would spiral into a pretty bad space. 

4 years after our failed IUI cycles, scott convinced me to try IVF. and that’s when our lives began! it wasn’t easy. our insurance required that we do 3 rounds of IUIs before moving into IVF. i was pretty upset because i knew IUIs wouldn’t work for me, but this time at least my hopes weren’t high and my heart didn’t have to shatter every month. all of this was just to build up to the one process i had some amount of faith in – IVF. 

after 3 more failed IUI cycles and 4 months into treatment (one month i had a cyst and i had to skip treatment) we started the real prep work for IVF. this meant daily injections and pills, and frequent appointments. I lived my life by calendars, counting the days between appointments and medications. 


this is one of my medication calendars. all of the blue text are injections, green are pills, and red are appointments. 

(Some of my medications)

(Some more medications)

(daily injections were my least favorite)

all of the medications seemed to work very well, I developed about 30 follicles, which resulted in what my fertility team called “kissing ovaries” 


and as adorable as that sounds- it’s super painful. every step i took was really uncomfortable and it became difficult to stand up straight. and regardless of what people said to me- it was not “good practice for pregnancy”. I had a twin pregnancy and it was not comfortable by any means, but id rather do that again. 

finally the day came for embryo retrieval. my hard work paid off, and of my 30 follicles they were able to retrieve 28 eggs- which is awesome!! i was super proud of myself. 

but because i had so many follicles/eggs my body’s hormone levels got out of whack and i went into hyperstim. hyperstim is THE WORST!!! lots of swelling, puking, and all over pain. 

(sorry this is a long story!)

after about 2 weeks, that pain subsided and i was able to go back to normal life. 

after retrieval i had to complete a month of birth control to help level out my hormones and then we were able to move forward with IVF. 


when the big day came we were excited and hopeful, but i was mostly scared. scared that this was our last shot at our dreams of being parents and scared that it would never happen. i was also scared because i thought i would be dissapointing a lot of people if it didn’t work. i didn’t want to tell them how id failed again. how body couldn’t even do what it was meant to do. 

im so thankful that i was able to share good news after IVF. that my struggles with infertility had a happy outcome. but ill never forget that empty, lonely, sinking struggle. im glad i had such a great team of doctors and nurses, family and friends to help me through the process. if you’re looking for a fertility specialist in AZ, check out Dr. Craig at the Fertility Treatment Center. best. team. ever. 


best. boys. ever. 

Heart Month!

technically i didn’t miss it! there’s still one more day of national heart month. which means i came in right on deadline, right? get behind me on this one ok?? 

anyway- i’ve been trying to think about what to write about this whole month (well, you know, on and off this whole month..). and i couldn’t decide until today. because today it started raining. 

as soon as i realized my boys were due during monsoon season i started dreaming of them being born on a stormy day. rainy or stormy weather is my favorite type of weather and i thought it would be a great way to introduce my babies to the world. from the get-go i knew i wouldn’t deliver in a room with windows- i knew that it would happen in the OR so my doctor could make sure both babies were born safe. but in my head i just knew that everything would be perfect and after they were born we’d go snuggle in my hospital room next to a big window with water streaming down and thunder in the background. and because of that storm the boys would know me better. 

they were born. it wasn’t raining. and circumstances were very different than imagined. days passed and i only saw the boys for a few minutes each day when i’d find the strength and the time between various doctor visits and medical tests. there was no window in the NICU. and i wasn’t always strong enough to hold them. 

they moved me upstairs. i don’t know what floor i was on, 2? maybe 3? it didn’t matter, it felt like i was light years away from my whole world.

i remember, i was alone. this was a rare occurance since i had several family members who stayed with me 24/7 because they were too worried to leave my side. i loved being alone. i turned on some music and closed my eyes. then i heard it- rain! i knew it was a sign. that God had sent it just for me. i had to see it. 

I took a deep breath and sat up in my bed. my legs hung from the side and my feet tingled in anticipation as they waited for that final plunge onto the cold linoleum floor. 

i sat there for a few minutes then gathered the courage to take the deepest breath my lungs would allow (not deep at all), removed my oxygen tubes, and made my plunge. 

my heart pounded and my lungs throbbed. 2 steps down- 3 to go. the room was already spinning and spots were starting to form in my vision. 1 more step. in blackness i groped at the blinds and pulled them open. 

with my victory i fell to the couch. Crumpled in half i tried desperately to breathe. finally, i’d inhaled enough oxygen to see through some of the darkness clouding my eyes. this time i didn’t attempt steps. i stood up, bent over, and reached for my bed. 

my lungs were going to explode- i was sure of it. still hunched over i shuffled my feet towards my arms. i’d done it. i’d reached the safety of my bed. i re-attached my cannula, and let the oxygen sink through me. light crept back into my sight. i did it. I looked up to see the rain i’d been dreaming of, to see the thing i’d worked so hard for. 

the rain had stopped. the door opened. i was no longer alone. discouraged, i closed my eyes and gave up. but only for a day. 

we didn’t even know that i had heart failure at that point. we wouldn’t find out for 3 more weeks. 

do me a favor, and please learn about Peripartum Cardiomyopathy. just please know that it exists and what to watch for. will it happen to you? probably not- i hope not. but it could… and it doesn’t always end well. 


my cousin painted this picture for me last year. if you know about the heart, you’ll notice that the left ventricle is enlarged- which is an effect of PPCM. she also added aloe vera- which is a plant known for healing, flowers to represent new life, and a humming bird to represent hope. 

This picture means so much to me. its a beautiful reminder of everything my family has been through together, and how we’ve grown together. 

when there are happy moments, or even just normal days i’ll often wonder what that event would have been like if i weren’t there. so for the sake of my nostalgia, and because (let’s face it) my boys are super cute, let’s take a look at some stuff i would have missed out on this month. 


i hope they always know they were worth it. that i’d do it all again to be with them. and i know i say it a lot- but i’m glad i’m here to watch them grow. 

life

i don’t think about it much anymore. but there’s something about that chair, in the middle of the night, that brings a flood of memories back. 

aaron had a nightmare tonight. he often does, and it’s the saddest thing. i held him in my arms and rocked him back to sleep. tonight i noticed how big he’s gotten. his legs hang down past my knees and i have to make sure to support him by his bum so he doesn’t slide right off. 

surrounded by silence and darkness feeling my restless baby’s muscles twitch as he settled back into sleep, i was transported back to a time when i could balance him in a small ball on my chest like a kitten. 

so much happened in that chair. so many things i didn’t recognize as significant. 

the nights were the hardest for me during that time. i was much weaker during the night than during the day. 

i wanted to sing to little tiny premature aaron when he would wake up with night terrors then, but i wasn’t able to. i didn’t have enough oxygen to support my breath. but i always tried. id sing him the primary song that always spoke to me during my trial with infertility “whenever i hear the song of a bird….” 

although i mainly quoted it back then, it’s always seemed to bring him comfort. 

tonight i sang that song again, in the same place my life very easily could have ended. “He gave me my life, my mind, my heart I thank him reverently for all his creations of which I’m a part. Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.” 

im so happy i can be there for my son when he has nightmares. i hope i can always be. 

weekends

this past weekend was a fun one, and monday has me wishing i could live the weekend over and over again. 

this saturday our fertility clinic had a “family reunion” for past and current clients. they went all out! but the highlights for us were: 

  • scott (husband/dad): delicious bbq food
  • me (wife/mom): free chair massages
  • aaron (brother/baby a): balloons (aka: ball!)
  • harrison (brother/baby b): petting zoo

aaron at the petting zoo. note: there’s not a single animal nearby- he’s going for the nasty water they have out for drinking, swimming, and pooping in. 


and sweet harrison at the petting zoo, thoughtfully admiring the chickens. 

both boys did have the opportunity to pet a few goats as well and they were super enthusiastic about it!


all in all we had a really great time! 

on sunday the boys and i were playing outside when something incredible happened. harrison found THE perfect stick. and soon aaron found another PERFECT stick. and the world of boyhood began at the stinocher house. i loved watching their eyes light up as they imagined the new possibilities their new “toy” opened up for them. 


i want the weekend back. I want to find adventures with my wild spirited children! 

halloween

it was our first halloween!! ok- so that’s not true. the boys birthday is in july, so they were around for halloween last year too. 


but the thing is, last year they were too little to care or have fun. this year was completely different. 

they’re old enough to have personalities and interests and they get really excited about things. for chritmas last yeah they got a crocheted lion and tiger toy from my mom, and they love those suckers! they get to hold them when they’re getting ready for bed and they always hug them and give them kisses. its truly heart melting stuff. aaron can even say “lion” and “tiger”. 

so we’d planned for months that i would step up my mom game and make them a lion and tiger costume this year. now don’t get me wrong- there’s nothing wrong with buying a costume. if i were a more logical person that’s what i would do. but i’m not. i’m a beast who’s driven purely by emotion and nostalgia. and growing up i always took great pride in the amazing and custom costumes my mom would make. she set the bar high for me, and now it’s my duty to carry on the time honored custom costume tradition for my children. 

my mom is a saint, and she tackled harrison’s tiger costume for me since she knows my schedule is wild, leaving me in charge of only aaron’s lion outfit. i don’t have a ton of experience sewing clothes, and I don’t think i’ve sewn clothing at all since i was 17… but the pattern seemed easy enough. and although the costume turned out darling in the end- i’m not gonna lie to you, i picked that thing apart so much that i used an entire spool of thread. i’ve never done that before…

anyway!!! a spool of thread, bloody fingertips from pin pricks, and 5 hours later, the customes were done and we were ready! 

our neighborhood block party was 2 days before halloween, and aaron and harrison were ecstatic to get to wear their costumes! (for real- they love them!) unfortunately it was 95 degrees outside and a double layer fleece costume isn’t perfectly suited for that kind of weather. so 5 minutes into the party the boys were just wearing onesies. 

on halloween we decided to stay home and hand out candy. the boys were enamored with all the kids who came to our door! aaron, who is more verbal than harrison, loved pointing out all of the hats that people were wearing, as well as their “pom-poems” (pumpkins). 

every time a new group of kids would come to our door i’d say “oh look guys- more friends!” i couldn’t get enough of harrison’s little legs kicking out in front of him as he scampered over to the door, or his face as he shouted “oooooooo” while he ran 😍 

once we ran out of candy the boys got to get dressed up to visit grandparents and they had a great time with that! 

this first official halloween was so much fun, and i can’t wait for next year when the boys get to go trick-or-treating for the first time!!