Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Life as a Family of Five: "The Early Days"

Well, it's been a short 10 weeks since the twins were born!  Crazy. Absolutely crazy. 

So far things are going really well, actually.  In a way, I sort of feel like we are beating the odds. As if everyone expected this to be THE HARDEST THING EVER and it hasn't been.

Well, to be honest, there have been moments that have been THE HARDEST THING EVER but they are just that - moments.  I am learning that I can't call a good day "bad" when it was mostly good despite a few bad moments.   

Some days I feel overwhelmed with the task ahead of me. Three little girls. THREE LITTLE GIRLS. They are mine to raise. They are mine to feed (physically, spiritually, emotionally.) What an immense responsibility.  But beyond the bigness of the overarching idea of having to raise them, I sometimes get overwhelmed by the daily small tasks that lay ahead of me. Feeding two babies at one time. Trying to engage my toddler on her level and not just turn Thomas the Train on.  Some days my arms actually hurt from holding children all day. Most days my feet ache from nonstop walking around our little house all day. Sometimes, just the fact that this is my life for the next couple of years is enough to knock me off my feet. Every day I am learning to trust that this is what God has for me; this is His best for me. So learning to be faithful and even find joy in the small things has been a great challenge and privilege. 

Sometimes I fail. One day last week, my mom stopped by to find me sitting on the couch with tears streaming down my face. That particular day I was mourning the loss of my ability to run an errand easily, walk out the door in less than 10 minutes, shower when i feel like it, and generally have some time to myself or maybe even a full night of sleep.  The "everydayness" of parenting (and let's be honest, the "everynight-ness", too) is a thing that I hadn't grasped until I actually became a parent. The level of exhaustion I am functioning with some days makes the lows seem a bit lower and in that moment, I just needed a good cry and the listening ear of another twin mom who just so happened to be my mom.

Speaking of my mom, it has been such a blessing to have her in my life and on my side during this season.  There are aspects of being a twin mom that others just can't understand. Maybe that sounds rude, but I stand by it. I didn't fully get it until actually having twins, and I'm a twin myself!  For example, there was one night that the twins were playing tag team and waking up one after the other. At one point it took me over an hour just to get Nora back to sleep. After I finally, finally, got Nora to sleep, I laid down. Not even two minutes later (I wish I was exaggerating) Ruby woke up, needing to be fed/changed/held/who knows. The despair of a moment like that is something that just can't be understood unless you've lived it.  I literally wanted to walk outside and scream. (I think it was right around that time that I woke Josh up. Tapped out. His turn.) The next day I called my mom to tell her about my night and she responded with, "Oh yeah... when you and Brian were babies I would go into the garage and just scream sometimes. I understand. You aren't crazy.) Considering I am a fairly even-tempered person... to feel such madness in that moment and to be so desperate for sleep created a feeling of defeat that has, so far, gone unmatched.  Feeling that out of control of my emotions was a bit jarring, but to know that my mom had felt the same way was comforting.  

Anyhow, the highs come in random spurts and moments of success. All three babies sleeping at the same time. A day without turning the tv on for Piper. Getting a healthy meal on the table. Doing something fun with my friends. Seeing Piper help the twins with their pacifiers or blankets without being asked. The babies sleeping long stretches at night. Toothless grins. These are all small 'wins' that I have learned to celebrate in spite of their apparent smallness.

I think the most important thing we've learned is to not hide away and to still try to live our life.  Truthfully, there are tough moments in every day regardless of where we are, and some days I do feel like I'm hiding and just surviving.  But rather than rather than succumb to seclusion in our house, we have tried to get out and live our lives.  So here are a plethora of pictures to help show the good and the bad, the wins and the losses - from the last 10 weeks. 

^^Our first day out and about running errands as a family. This was quite honestly the only good/peaceful moment of the whole day. Soooo I guess this is an example of a good moment but a bad day. Ha! 

^^Piper gave her first spontaneous kiss to the girls after this picture. Her incredible adjustment to the twins is by far the biggest "win" yet.

^^When the twins were 2 1/2 weeks old we took a family trip to the zoo! All around success!

Our first date night! The twins were a month old and we went to my 10 year reunion.

^^Figuring out how to creatively fit in time for the things we enjoy ;-)

Tender moments.

When the twins were a little over a month old, we went out to the lakeshore to see the sunset.

^^Sometimes I feel brave and take all 3 girls out at once. On this day the twins were asleep. Then they weren't. Then they were crying. Then I had to carry Piper all the way home and push the twin's stroller with one hand and endure crying babies. (Also let's not forget that I was still recovering from a double whammy (c-section and vaginal) birth so my body wasn't quite ready for ish like that). So I'd say overall not a win.

^^We still try to make one-on-one time for Piper. We snuck up to the Pink Arrow game with Grandpa Greg.

^^This was after one of the worst nights we had with the twins. Sometimes the best days happen after the worst nights. On the mornings after a difficult night I know that the day is going to be hard if I'm not on my A-game.  Often, the days that are the toughest are the ones that are supposed to be easy. (When I have help or when Josh is home from work.) I don't always plan ahead to the degree that I should. Then things get stressful and fall apart. Kind of weird how that works out.

^^Ok I had to put this picture SOMEWHERE. We went for a family hike (win!) but the carrier I used for both of the girls makes it look like I have two big hairy boobs. I am genuinely laughing in this picture because there just wasn't a good angle to capture this moment without the hairy boob image.  I think it's funny though and this is my blog after all SO IT STAYS. ;-)

^^All 3 girls had colds. This was a very rough, horribly stressful and draining week. 

^^Errybody was feeling crazy. You know things are getting real when Josh is wearing one of the babies in a carrier in the house.  So we turned a movie on and battened down the hatches until bedtime. 

^^One of my favorite moments ever. I ventured out with all 3 girls to Grand Rapids for the first time solo.  We went to Starbucks to visit my friend Kate, the airport to watch planes take off, and then to Target. Piper and I had such a special moment together at the airport and the twins slept the whole time!

^^We were able to go out to my family's cottage quite a bit, too!  I just brought the boppies, spread out a blanket, and hung out with the girls while Piper ran with whoever was out there with us.

^^Went rollerblading. We were such a ridiculous sight. And also, rollerblading with two strollers on hilly trails is probably the worst idea ever and, we decided, a bit reckless considering Josh's rollerblades don't have brakes. Oops! We found different directions to go that were flat, though, so we aren't the worst parents ever. Just questionably responsible ones.

Grandmas. are. the. best.

^^More special one-on-one time with Josh and Piper

^^I would say the last 10 weeks have been a bit of a challenge for Josh and I.  Maintaining our friendship, trying to find time to meet each other's needs, learning how to communicate in the middle of the night and care for babies on very little sleep (hint: talk as little as possible), realizing that the concept of "fair" is flawed (in my opinion) and that keeping score only damages our relationship. It has been really hard at times, but we've grown stronger over the last 10 weeks.  (One of the most valuable things we do is give each other fist bumps. Maybe that sounds silly, but as we are leaving for a trip out or once we've decided to start bedtime... a good solid fist bump is the fastest way to communicate, "I'm on your team. We're in this together. I've got your back. Let's do this.")


Piper has become closer with all of her grandparents as a result of them spending so much extra time with her so Josh and I can have a break and take care of just two children. 

^^One day all three kids were sleeping, dinner was in the crockpot, and the house was clean. I actually sat outside and soaked up the autumn air and enjoyed reading my favorite magazine.  (But just to be honest, that spongebob cup is no longer with us. I broke it last week because I was so frustrated with something that I literally THREW it and part of it smashed. I find that I have a bottomless Well of patience for my children but zero for inanimate objects.  ZERO.)

Two of my closest friends and I decided to be brave/crazy and go out to eat together. 3 women. 6 kids. I'm sure the waitress loved us.

Family trip to the local airport watching a plane run some mechanical tests. 

They smile now! Hooray! Finally!

Group nap times.


Family walks.

^^Our first road trip. It was a great success. Where would I be without this guy?

 ^^Eating with one hand, soothing a crying baby with the other. Boo.

aaaand wearing one crying baby and carrying the other crying baby. Oy. These are the types of moments that require me to take deep breaths and focus on staying calm. 


but these ^^^ are the moments that cause me to take deep breaths and focus on how ridiculously blessed I am.

So there it is. How we're doing in a series of pictures and stories! It has been a difficult, awesome, challenging, and incredible time. It can't be adequately conveyed in pictures, but we have been surrounded by love and help and prayers this entire time.  Without the practical and tangible help of our families and close friends I daresay being sane parents of "three under two" would be nearly impossible.  So we're very grateful. and tired. But most importantly we're overwhelmingly thankful!  I can't see what the next 10 weeks has in store for us!

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