Tuesday, December 31, 2013

bouncing back

It's been over seven and a half months since our twin boys, Ellis and Julian, were born using a gestational carrier. Just now, almost eight months later, I feel like I am finally adjusting. I've been wanting to write so much, but couldn't find the time, energy, or enthusiasm to get started. Then there were some technical and logistical difficulties as well: a crappy internet connection due to an old router, not having a quiet space to sit down with my laptop, and with the ease of all other forms of social media, who needs to blog? I think I need to blog. I forgot how cathartic and relaxing writing can be. Right now, it's less than ten days until Christmas, 4 days until our first family Christmas celebration. I should be baking, wrapping, cleaning, or sleeping. But no, let's get caught up on the blog instead.

Julian Christopher and Ellis Nolan were born on the afternoon of May 4th, 2013. Ellis, also known as baby B, was starting to lag behind his brother due to umbilical cord issues. Blood wasn't flowing back and forth to Ellis, therefore he wasn't getting all of the nourishment he needed. Our OB decided at 34 weeks it was time for them to be born. Both babies were breech as well so our amazing gestational carrier had to have a c-section. Neither of us had experienced this before so we were both really anxious. While we waited for our turn in the OR, we took pictures, prayed, took a quick tour of the hospital, and prayed some more. Another wonderful friend was also there for moral support since our GC's husband was on a flight home from a business trip in Europe. The prep and surgery was smooth and we couldn't wait to meet our boys. I was sandwiched between my beautiful friend on the operating table and Chris, all of us hugging and squeezing hands. Julian was born first and let out the most incredible cry I had ever heard. It was the most awesome sound and I wept with joy that he was born, and that he was alive. Ellis came out next with a cry as well. I scream-cried tears of joy, relief, and a gratitude words will never explain. Chris and I were rushed over to the warmers where our 3 and 4 lb. boys were being assessed. Ellis weighed in at 3 lbs. 12 oz. and was such a little fighter. He never needed oxygen and was breathing on his own right away. Julian weighed 4 lbs. 11 oz. and needed oxygen for over a week as he not only screamed when he was born, but breathed in a lot of fluid.

The babies and I camped out at the NICU for 17 days. I never thought I would be able to handle having my babies in the NICU (This was a task for stronger, more faithful mamas), but I did it. The nurses finally made me go home after living at the hospital for a week. I returned every day to feed and care for our boys and then most evenings Chris would go see them while I tucked Charlie and Sofie into bed. The NICU days passed and finally we brought our tiny gifts home with us on May 21, 2013.

Once we were home, it just felt like deja vu. We had done the tiny twin thing, only this time I had not just given birth. I was exhausted, but I felt so much stronger and more capable than I did when Charlie and Sofie were newborns. This was just one more blessing our friend and gestational carrier gave us. She took on the burden of pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery so we could have these babies. She bounced back so beautifully I couldn't believe it! I was reminded again why she was the perfect person to help us on our journey. It truly believe she was picked by God to do this incredible task.

So, to summarize the last 7 months with Ellis and Julian, I would say it's been difficult, challenging, amazing, fun, and beautiful. I've cried because I didn't think I could handle four children. I've screamed at Charlie and Sofie to just give me a minute of silence. I've gazed in amazement at these babies that look so much like Charlie, Sofie, and Mila. I've thanked God and our GC over and over for the chance to parent these boys even when I didn't know if I would be cut out for it.

Today I feel like I have come out from under. It may sound weird, but I'm getting used to Ellis and Julian being here. The truth is, I wasn't sure they would ever get here. This all just seemed too good to be true. Let's just say that if ever there was a reason to believe in miracles, in a higher power's plan for us, this would be it. I have to be honest. There have been days when the babies were screaming at me to be fed and I just wanted to sleep, or eat my lunch, or pee. In these moments I thought, "If Mila were here I wouldn't have to deal with any of this crap." Sometimes these babies make me miss our little girl more than ever. Most of the time these babies remind me that Mila is right here with us, orchestrating this miracle of life and love.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Here I am . . .

First off, let me apologize for not writing more often. I didn't realize that my blog meant that much until people started asking me for an update! I'm flattered and now feel a little more pressure to keep it up! So, here I am, finally!

I've been trying to figure out what has kept me away from the blog for so many weeks, but I can't put my finger on it. My mind feels so full of thoughts, hopes, dreams, and fears as we wait for our baby boys to arrive. I don't think I could land on one thing to talk about so I just didn't write anything. Even now, I'm not sure what to say, so please forgive the rambling. :)

be willing to believe in miracles!

I know most of you just want to know how the pregnancy is going, and we could't be more grateful for what has been an uneventful, twin pregnancy. This week we are 30 weeks along! Our boys have been flipping around inside Cathy's belly for weeks, so we hope they settle head-down before delivery. If they don't, we could be looking at a c-section. Lots of people ask me if our carrier has children of her own. Yes, she has three. An eleven year old and seven year old twins. So, she and I both have done the twin thing before and neither of us has had to have a cesarean. We really hope that doesn't change! We have also worried about pre-term labor as this is very common with twins, and our carrier in particular, but there have been no indicators of any labor happening any time soon! (This, I believe, is a gift from God! Please keep the prayers coming, we REALLY want to take these boys home with little to no NICU time.)

happy easter!

While we wait for these little miracles to arrive, we have been super busy nesting and trying to enjoy our last days with just Charlie and Sofie. We had a really nice Easter. I've been singing with the band at church and I just love it! It's seriously a bucket list kind of thing for me. (Although my dream was to sing backup for James Taylor, I'll take this instead!) I'm also busy decorating the baby's room. It's been a challenge to get started with this. Decorating means it's really happening. Decorating means that if things don't work out, I will have to undo what I did. This was one of the worst things about Mila's death. I had planned, organized, and decorated for this little girl, and she never came home. So, this time we have bought very little. We got car seats this weekend and I bought a changing table from Craigslist that I painted a sunny yellow color. That's about it. We had a lot of baby stuff from Charlie, Sofie, and Mila, so there isn't a lot we need yet, besides two cribs. (Charlie and Sofie's cribs were recalled several years ago and we had to get Mila's crib out of the house right away as it was one of the most painful sights when I came home from the hospital.) I have a few pictures of my progress in the boy's room, but the cell phone I'm using right now is a dinosaur and takes awful pictures. What you can't really see in the photos below is that the walls used to be a rich orange color and are now a light, airy turquoise. The pocket door between the nursery and the kitchen has been painted with chalkboard paint for baby doodles. The bottom picture also shows the changing table (which still needs a charcoal gray cover to match my decor). It's all coming together and it makes me pretty psyched to welcome our boys home.

orange walls (i loved this color!) 

light and fresh, but still a work in progress.

So, I think that's all I have for now. Waiting to see if everything works out okay is so hard, but I'm trying to imagine it all working out just fine. Our sweet Charlie said to me recently, "Mommy, I KNOW that these babies are not going to die like Mila did." Ughh. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. How did he know exactly what I was thinking? It's what I'm always thinking! What if these babies die? What if just one of them dies? My therapist explained it so well to me the other day. It's like the world is asking Chris and I to get back on the scariest, most horrifying roller coaster we have ever been on. Only this time, we are blind-folded and we don't quite know how the ride ends. We are preparing for the ride of our lives. We are excited and terrified. We believe, however, that we will get off. The ride will come to an end. And there, our babies will be waiting for us.

Thanks again for reading, and for your love and prayers.

Talk to you soon,

Friday, January 25, 2013

a new year

I feel so guilty for not updating the blog sooner. I don't have any particular excuse, other than I was just living life . . . my humble, surprising, and blessed life. Let's get right to the good stuff!

Our babies are now at 20 weeks gestation and they are both doing great! Our gestational carrier, Cathy, is doing such an awesome job. I know she doesn't want a lot of recognition for what she is doing, but she is amazing! I couldn't have asked for a more humble, considerate person to carry our babies. She guards our babies with her life and then gives all of the glory to God. What a blessing she is!

We had our 2nd trimester screen today and our little guys are perfect! Yes, we found out back at around 14 weeks that we are having two boys! Take a peek at our newest miracles:

Our future gymnast . . .

This little guy was so photogenic!

Words can't describe how we feel now that we are almost half way through the pregnancy. There's a pretty good chance that things are going to be fine, despite the fact that we are still in total awe that this worked. Honestly, I'm terrified. I've been hurt so deeply by Mila's death that I can't imagine things being this easy, but I look to God and He gives me rest and He gives me peace.

I get anxious and afraid when we have to do really grown up things like write out our will so that these babies, as well as Charlie and Sofie, are cared for if something happened to Chris and I. Or when we have to hand over thousands of dollars at a time, hoping it's not all for nothing. I haven't really wanted to buy any baby clothes, toys, furniture, or gear. But then I felt so great after today's appointment that I picked up a set of little, coordinating sleepers to bring our boys home in. Like I said, we've been burned and traumatized so badly in the past that it's hard to know when to let go and when to hold my breath. I'm kind of just trusting my gut in any given moment. Today my gut told me to get ready.

We are very aware that the next four months or are going to fly by as we enjoy the 2nd half of Charlie and Sofie's kindergarten year, start making room for two more people in our three bedroom, one bathroom rambler, and try to be present in our home, work, and church life. I've been trying to remind myself that the world can't stop for me just because my baby died, I almost died, and now another woman is carrying our new babies. My goal each day is to make sure I breathe, listen to God, see his mercy all around me, and hold my head up towards Him and my baby girl, Mila. It is her life, her presence, that makes this all possible.

While we enjoy our extraordinary situation, some real life things have taken place as well. We spent many months trying to place our dogs, Molly and Wesley, in new homes. After they were placed in foster homes and then adopted, we realized how miserable Charlie had been living with two dogs. His allergy symptoms and asthma have improved by leaps and bounds! My heart aches for our doggies and I still forget some times that they aren't here anymore, but I know that life with four children and two aging dogs would have been more than we could handle. I think we made the right choice for our family.

Most recently, my grandma, Marian Klaseus passed away after being hospitalized with pneumonia and heart failure. She lived a full, ninety three years. I felt a lot of peace at her passing, surprisingly. I think it's because I truly believe that she is now in a better place. She was a loyal, faithful woman. It was time for her to go, and I asked Mila to meet her when she arrived in Heaven. I'm sure she wasn't alone. My sweet Grandma, Charlie and Sofie's Great Grandma Marian, will be missed. Mila's life and death have taught me to believe that we all have a purpose here on earth. For some, it takes only nine months. For others, it takes ninety years. 

Grandma Marian and Charlie at about 2 months old.

I can only promise that the coming weeks are going to be busier than ever. I will try to keep up, but no worries if I don't, ok?

Lastly, many thanks to EVERYONE who has been following our story and sending positive energy, prayers, and support. We are so blessed by all of you!