My Child of 9/11

Of all the things I remember about 9/11, I remember being pregnant. It was not my first pregnancy, and it would not be my last, yet it was a pregnancy marked with sorrow.

I was a young mother, with 5 and 3 year old sons. I had just flown back home (via United Airlines, no less) from a family wedding in Michigan. While I was gone, the Rev. and my then little boys had moved all of our worldly possessions into our home on a beautiful river in northern Minnesota.

Our phone and internet had been hooked up (hello, dial-up!), but I was still waiting on the cable guy. On that sunny September day 10 years ago, I looked at the pile of moving boxes in my living room and opted for coffee on my back deck instead of work.  I was just past my first trimester, and coffee was beginning to be palatable and enjoyable again. But there was one problem. I was out of creamer.

I loaded the little ones up in our little car, and headed out for the grocery store. I was not even around the bend in our road before I began to hear the horrific news on the radio. Not only had one plane crashed into the World Trade Center, it appeared that a second one had as well. I immediately turned around and returned home to call the Rev. at church. (We totally did not have cell phones yet! I only got mine 2 years ago!).

The rest of the day is a blur. I remember the Rev. going to a neighbor’s home to watch news coverage. I remember being angry, frightened and sad. I remember logging on to the computer to check with my Yahoo Baby Club (we still, 10 years later, communicate daily) to make sure everyone was OK. We were all in shock, and frightened, and angry, and most of all, unsure of what kind of world we were bringing these fresh new babies into.

Our cable was not hooked up for a few days. I actually never watched any 9/11 video footage until a year later. I’m actually glad that we had no cable on that terrible day, as I most certainly would have viewed it on the Today Show, live.

What I did not realize until yesterday was how much I had sheltered my Child of 9/11. Sure, hen has heard the term. He has written letters to members of the US Military. He is a proud Cub Scout. He knows that there are other people who hate America.

However, we had never really told him about that day. When he was alive, but not yet born, and life as we knew it changed forever.

Yesterday, as we were getting ready for church, we had left the TV on, and he watched the events unfold. He finally learned what 9/11 was.

As I was driving him to visit a friend, he asked me about it. About what happened. And so I told him. I told him about the terrorists. But mostly, I told him about the heroes. I told him of the first responders. I told him of the ordinary people who reached out and helped friends and neighbors. And then I broke down in sobs as I told him the story of Flight 93.

I told him that there are children, his very age, who have never met their fathers, because of this act of terrorism. I told him of people who lost mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. I spoke of innocence lost.

Our world changed that day.

But when I look into the eyes of my son, my child of 9/11, I can see hope, and a future. When you see a nine year old this week, remember, quite possibly, their world was changed the most.

Mommy Wars and Megyn Kelly?

So, last night I was watching TV with the Rev. We usually watch movies (usually movies that I want to watch, which may or may not be a source of marital tension), but our DVR is currently empty of anything I wanted to watch. So I sat back and read and let the Rev. channel surf (sometimes I’m nice). He landed on Fox News and I looked up and noticed that Megyn Kelly was back. (she’s been back for almost a month). I told the Rev. that I liked her new haircut (I’m shallow like that) and he told me that she got all kinds of flack for taking too long of a maternity leave.

Do you know how much maternity leave she took? 3 months. 12 weeks. In the grand scheme of things, not that long at all.

Because, folks, having a baby is kind of a big deal. It takes your body on a wild ride. And then most moms don’t get much sleep for the first few months. And things are achy and sore, and clothes never fit like they should. And that cute little baby has about 4 doctor appointments in that 12 weeks.

A 12 week maternity leave is hardly a vacation. I know that she loves what she does, but I also imagine that it was very hard to leave her sweet baby girl and return to work. But she is a smart and articulate woman, I’m pretty sure that she can deal with those who are ignorant enough to think that her leave has been all massages and pedicures.

And Megyn Kelly was one of the lucky moms. Her company paid her for her maternity leave. Paid maternity leave is not a required benefit in the US. Paid maternity leave is a blessing if you get it.

I never did. I had a work out of the home job before getting pregnant with our first son, and again before the twins were born. Neither job offered paid maternity leave (though I did get my accrued sick pay and vacation pay while on bed rest with the twins), and neither paid me enough to justify child care expenses and time lost with my newborns. The decision to not go back to work after having those babies was pretty easy.

However, not everyone has the luxury to stay home with their children, and many go back to work long before they are really ready to.

I’ve had it both ways. I’ve been a working mom, and I’ve been a stay at home mom.

I’m totally going to go out on a limb and say that it is way easier to be a stay at home mom.

I could perceive it as the easier job because I really enjoy what I do. They say if you do a job that you love, you never work a day in your life.

Or, I could think of it as the easier job because I do such a sub-par job of it that I’m beyond being stressed out about my day.

The fact remains, I may not get sick pay, or paid time off, or even get paid for what I do. However, I don’t have to wrangle time off to walk my kids to school on the first day of school. If I wanted to bake, I could bake them cookies for when they came home. I don’t do laundry at night. . .as a matter of fact, I do no housework at night. After the kids go to bed I’m pretty free. Some days I wear my pajamas all day. I can shop at Target during their less busy times. I don’t have to share my coffee if I don’t want to. I’m pretty much in control of my schedule. I almost never pack a diaper bag. I don’t have to worry about who can watch my kids on school holidays. If I forget to plug in the crock pot in the morning, I usually have time to make a back-up plan meal. I have time to play on my blog.

I’m sorry that not all stay at home moms feel as at peace with their current vocation. I feel for the working moms trying to do it all. I wish there were more clear cut, easy decisions for moms.

But life is far more complicated than that.

So for now, moms . . .let’s stop fighting, and have each others backs, OK?

 

I’m Perfectly Imperfect

Lest anyone operate under the faulty notion that I am Supermom, I’ve been reminded of my failings a lot lately.

One of the boys has complained of a plugged up feeling ear lately. I forgot that he has a pain tolerance that makes him a prime candidate for male epidural free birth, if there is such a thing. Following a hunch almost a week later we spent an hour in the walk-in clinic last night and walked out with a prescription for antibiotics. Big kids get ear infections too. And I’m suspecting he’s had many more than we’ve actually caught. Way to go, Mom.

Another son has abandoned homework for a while. And I assumed that he really did not have any. Looking good, Mom.

I’m noticing that church behavior is slipping, and I’m not talking about the babies. Awesome.

As I was tucking kids in tonight, I noticed one of them was not sleeping on a sheet. Just the mattress. Where is my “mom of the year” trophy?

A big brother did better than I did at calming down Emily at bedtime tonight. Is she switching loyalties so soon?

I’ve been yelling. A lot. Too much.

On the other hand, the laundry has been chronically caught up lately. Dishes are all sparkly clean and in their places. The bathrooms are sanitary. The living room is neat and tidy (except for the pile of tissues the girls tore out of the box when they were practicing for “Minute To Win It” while I used the restroom alone this morning.)

Let’s get real. I can’t do it all. My best efforts turn up short. When my pride gets in the way I tend to end up on the wrong side of perfection. For example, this morning I was so proud of myself for getting out the door EARLY for my Moms Club meeting. Turns out I was a WEEK early. AND I had two little girls in the car who were thrilled to have gotten out of the house and were looking for adventure. Thankfully I had the double jogging stroller in the trunk, so I turned my mistake into a few miles at the mall.

And that my friends, is what I’m here to tell you.

We cannot be SUPERMOM!

(although, our husbands would not mind it!)

We can be the best that we can be, at any given moment.

Sometimes that means that the laundry is caught up and lined up neatly in dresser drawers.

Sometimes that means tasty, nutritious meals on the table by 5:30 on the dot.

Sometimes that means immaculately completed homework.

Sometimes it means mucous and germ free clean and pressed kids.

Rarely will we get all of these things at once.

The Rev. likes to refer to a truth learned in his engineering days. There is quick, cheap, and quality. Choose two. You can never get all three.

So, that is how it is with motherhood, we can’t do it all.

Should we stop trying?

Probably not.

Should we stop beating ourselves up?

Probably.

So, I’m like the anti-Mary Poppins. And that is OK.

I'm Perfectly Imperfect

Lest anyone operate under the faulty notion that I am Supermom, I’ve been reminded of my failings a lot lately.

One of the boys has complained of a plugged up feeling ear lately. I forgot that he has a pain tolerance that makes him a prime candidate for male epidural free birth, if there is such a thing. Following a hunch almost a week later we spent an hour in the walk-in clinic last night and walked out with a prescription for antibiotics. Big kids get ear infections too. And I’m suspecting he’s had many more than we’ve actually caught. Way to go, Mom.

Another son has abandoned homework for a while. And I assumed that he really did not have any. Looking good, Mom.

I’m noticing that church behavior is slipping, and I’m not talking about the babies. Awesome.

As I was tucking kids in tonight, I noticed one of them was not sleeping on a sheet. Just the mattress. Where is my “mom of the year” trophy?

A big brother did better than I did at calming down Emily at bedtime tonight. Is she switching loyalties so soon?

I’ve been yelling. A lot. Too much.

On the other hand, the laundry has been chronically caught up lately. Dishes are all sparkly clean and in their places. The bathrooms are sanitary. The living room is neat and tidy (except for the pile of tissues the girls tore out of the box when they were practicing for “Minute To Win It” while I used the restroom alone this morning.)

Let’s get real. I can’t do it all. My best efforts turn up short. When my pride gets in the way I tend to end up on the wrong side of perfection. For example, this morning I was so proud of myself for getting out the door EARLY for my Moms Club meeting. Turns out I was a WEEK early. AND I had two little girls in the car who were thrilled to have gotten out of the house and were looking for adventure. Thankfully I had the double jogging stroller in the trunk, so I turned my mistake into a few miles at the mall.

And that my friends, is what I’m here to tell you.

We cannot be SUPERMOM!

(although, our husbands would not mind it!)

We can be the best that we can be, at any given moment.

Sometimes that means that the laundry is caught up and lined up neatly in dresser drawers.

Sometimes that means tasty, nutritious meals on the table by 5:30 on the dot.

Sometimes that means immaculately completed homework.

Sometimes it means mucous and germ free clean and pressed kids.

Rarely will we get all of these things at once.

The Rev. likes to refer to a truth learned in his engineering days. There is quick, cheap, and quality. Choose two. You can never get all three.

So, that is how it is with motherhood, we can’t do it all.

Should we stop trying?

Probably not.

Should we stop beating ourselves up?

Probably.

So, I’m like the anti-Mary Poppins. And that is OK.

My Life With Twins: When Twins Come Early

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of my favorite fellow twin mamas! My friend Kristin agreed to guest post today to share her experience with preemie twins, what led to their premature birth, and how the March of Dimes has helped her family! You can read more from Kristin here and here

 

Kristin with the twins
There is always a special feeling when you hold both babies at the same time!

I have always supported the March of Dimes and the amazing work that they do.  They have helped to fund the research of amazing medical advances such as the polio vaccine, perfect amniocentesis, and helped to educate women of child bearing age about the importance of taking enough folic acid to prevent neural tube defects.

I supported the March of Dimes and their mission to help moms achieve full term pregnancies and researching the problems that threaten health of babies long before I ever fully understood just what the March of Dimes does.Then in December 2005 I saw firsthand the amazing things that the March of Dimes has accomplished with funds raised…because I became a Preemie Mommy.

In May 2005 my husband and I learned that we were pregnant. We were over the moon, as we had been trying for over 18 months to get pregnant after the birth of our first daughter, Delainey in 2003. In June we learned we were expecting twins…. It was amazing and we couldn’t have been happier.  Our pregnancy went extremely well. We did have a few pre-term labor scares and a few bouts with modified bedrest but once we made it to 33 weeks in mid December both my doctors and I sighed a huge sigh of relief because we knew that our girls were going to be ok.

The Thursday before Christmas I began to get ill. I started feeling dizzy, flushed, and swelling a lot. I went to the clinic and was told to go home and try and relax over the holiday. During the Christmas holiday my symptoms got worse. In addition to being dizzy, swollen and being flushed I began to have horrible headaches. I went to the hospital to get checked on Christmas Day and was again sent home and told to relax. My husband and I finally went into the hospital on Dec 26th, the Monday after Christmas, as I had begun to have contractions and we were only 34 weeks pregnant.  When we got to the hospital they attempted to stop the contractions but also began to explore my symptoms further as I had begun having severe abdominal pain in addition to previous symptoms.

I was eventually diagnosed with HELLP syndrome Class 1 (the most severe). I had all the signs of HELLP and they were ignored both by the clinician I saw on the Thursday before the holiday as well as the doctor who saw me on Christmas Day.  Both my husband and I were very scared when we learned that our twins were going to be joining us in a matter of minutes. I was quickly rushed to the operating room where I was placed under general anesthesia (because of my illness I could not be awake during the operation because of risks to me).

NICU baby Our girls were born at 11:44 and 11:46am on Monday, December 26th, 2005… and they were both quickly rushed into the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) because of respitory distress. They were both placed on breathing machines and given IVs.

I was unable to see my daughters until 7pm on December 27th due to the severity of my own medical condition but when I was finally taken to see them it was just amazing. At the moment you don’t think of all the wires, lines, machines and people… you only think about your baby… or in our cases babies. NICU baby

Life in the NICU is different that is for certain. Having had a NICU free preterm birth with our first daughter, this was all new to us. There was no seeing your baby when you wanted to, there was no cuddling with them in your own bed, there was no holding them when you wanted, or even showing them off to family. They were kept in small incubators and behind walls, doors and glass. It required 2 full minutes of washing up before you could even enter into the NICU to see them.

Our daughters were placed on “grow/feed” status which really truly meant they were just there to learn to eat and breathe at the same time, regulate their body temperatures and put on just a little bit of weight before they were able to come home.

We had a rough 11 days of trying to coordinate schedules of “NICU time” and making sure that we spent enough time with our older daughter who was only 2 years old at the time. I wanted to be at the NICU as much as possible so that I could establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship with my girls… I wanted to be their mom and not just a bystander.

Our NICU staff was amazing! The nurses were by far angels on earth. They would comfort me when I couldn’t get Shelby to nurse and they celebrated with us when Avery actually ate her whole feeding with neither of us wearing it. We all celebrated together as the girls moved from their incubators to isolettes (open air glass cribs).

Honestly, our girls had a relatively uneventful NICU stay (praise God), and we were only in the NICU for 11 days.  On January 6th, 2006 at 11 days old, both of us girls were able to come home. Both my husband and I sighed a huge sigh of relief to have our family at home and complete. And it has been wonderful ever since.

Grown twins
Avery and Shelby, all grown up!

As a NICU graduate Mommy, I have just a few ‘survival’ tips to share with you:

  • Trust your medical staff. They are there to support you and to care for your child(ren). They do know their jobs, and they are good at them.
  • There is no ‘planning’ in the NICU. You will not find out that you are going home until probably the day of… you may get to know the day before. It helps no one to get disappointed if you are given a date and then something happen that can change that.
  • You can still breastfeed your preemie, and you can breastfeed your preemie multiples. It will be difficult, but it can be done. I took the ‘stance’ of whatever gets them home, so my girls were allowed to have bottles of expressed breast milk while in NICU (bottle feeding is easier). It wasn’t until we got home the breastfeeding got fully established.
  • When someone asks to help… LET THEM. We know we are all super mom, but even super mom deserves a break.
  • Remember to sleep. Because trust me, once your preemie gets home you aren’t going to get any.

It is because of the wonderful help that our family received from the March of Dimes and their amazing research that we like to give back.

The March for Babies, is the biggest annual fundraiser for the March of Dimes. Walks are scheduled all over the country beginning in May and going through June. Our family has been active walkers in the March for Babies since 2006 and we are doing it again this year.  Please join us in fighting for the   babies…because babies shouldn’t have to fight.

 

2010 March For babies team
Our 2010 March for Babies team.

Thanks Kristin, for sharing your experience. My Emily was cared for in the very same NICU as Shelby and Avery, and the care she received was indeed wonderful. Though Emily was not pre-term, we shared similar experiences and Kristin was a great support for me while Emily was in the hospital.

Do you have twins, are expecting twins or know someone who is? Make sure you click on over to my “Got Twins?” page and learn more about the wonders of twindom! Lots of advice and experience from pregnancy, breast feeding and beyond!