Dads and Scary Dentists

Let me start this by saying that my husband is a wonderful man. A man who knows me and loves me well. He washes dishes, does the Costco run, plays football with the boys in the backyard, changes dirty diapers, reads bedtime stories, makes pancakes the size of my two year old’s head, and other really fun and helpful things. He tries really really hard to get things right…most of the time. He cares about my sanity, perhaps more than I do. (Which is probably because my lack of sanity affects him more than it does me.)

When the twins were born, in all his amazingness (and what am I saying–out of necessity), he took complete responsibility for morning and nighttime parental duties for the three older boys. He rocked it.

He had those boys dressed, fed, lunches packed, and out the door to school by 7:40 every morning. He even picked up two neighbor kids along the way. He did this all before I had even gotten out of bed. Did they have fruit snacks for breakfast? Sure! Did they go to school in mismatching clothes? Of course! But they were never once late to school, and their little lunches full of every sort of imaginable prepackaged food brought delight to their innocent hearts when they sat down to eat.

At night, he got that bedtime routine from 20 minutes down to about 5. He had those kids in bed before they could say, “bedtime story?” He was the master. He pretty much singlehandedly silenced the whining and endless cups of water. I’m not sure how he did it. To this day, I am almost scared to mess with his routine. It goes so well. There is so little complaining, so few requests. If I enter the room all of the sudden I am playing the  bartender fetching three cups of water, at, of course, three different times, whispering prayers, and listening to very important things that they forgot to tell me until just now. Fifteen minutes later I am dragging myself from their room like a hostage escaping the wreckage.

In short, he’s amazing. But there’s one thing the master doesn’t do. One thing that gets to me. One thing he won’t do, despite my continual urging. He will not brush or “check” their teeth.

“I don’t do teeth,” He’s told me several times.

This completely and utterly baffles me. Why? What is so hard about brushing children’s teeth? He will wipe stinky, slippery poop off of a kid’s bottom, but he will not stick a little toothbrush in their mouth and wiggle it around for a few minutes?

I don’t understand. But here’s what I do know.

You cannot pump a two year old full of fruit snacks all day, and give him a toothbrush with a glob of blue fluoride toothpaste on it at the end of the night and call it good. There’s no way those teeth are getting clean. I know. I know because I know two year olds. That toothpaste gets swallowed faster than the time it takes to squeeze it on there. It never even comes in contact with the teeth. It just doesn’t.

And just because a child is say,  6, or maybe 7, doesn’t make him much better. Sure, he may not directly swallow the toothpaste, but he will give his teeth a cursory sweep and then let the toothbrush hang from his mouth like a cigarette while he reads a book forgetting all about the Captain America toothbrush dangling from his lip.

But the man won’t do it. He draws the line at teeth brushing.

The annoyance soon gave way to worry, and I began to see scary visions of our next dental visit in which a very condescending and judgmental dental hygienist (we’ve met before) would give me such looks and say such words that would leave me to feel like the absolute worst mother on the planet because my  three boys had a combined total of one hundred and thirty-five cavities.

So I did what any wonderful wife would do: I told my husband he had to take them.

The day of reckoning was going to come and I wasn’t going to be the one getting the stink eye from the dental hygienist because my two year old has seven cavities. I wasn’t going to subject myself to such derision, especially when it would be so wholly undeserved. The “master of everything other than brushing teeth” was going to have to face Ms. Judgy as she explained the importance of diligent flossing.

There was a teensy part of me that thought an upcoming dental appointment might in some way instill a little healthy fear in him, and he may actually start caring about our children’s hygiene. I wasn’t so lucky. I totally underestimated the fact that my husband is a boss and unhappy middle-aged women who want to make you feel like a failure don’t bother him. The stink eye? Bring it. He’s not phased. (And that’s what I love about him.)

He had no qualms then about bringing the boys to the dentist. He put it on his calendar. It was settled. They don’t tell you when you’re newlyweds that 10.5 years into marriage the definition of true love is going to be taking three children to the dentist. But it is. Be still my heart.

Well, wouldn’t you know, sickness and other variables caused us to miss said dentist appointments and it defaulted to me to bring the boys to the dentist, lest another 6 months pass and allow for an additional hundred cavities to develop in their young mouths.

When the day of dread finally arrived, I dressed my best (you know, jeans and a nice cotton shirt) and held my head high. I was ready to defend the fiery arrows those piercing eyes would shoot my way because I hadn’t flossed my toddler’s teeth every morning and night. (Should I mention I have twins? Five kids? Blame my husband?) I didn’t. Like a lamb before the slaughter, I was silent. My big girl underwear were working that day.

And an amazing thing happened. Well, a couple actually. Number one: Ms. Grumpypants wasn’t there. The second is possibly the biggest miracle of them all. We walked away with absolutely no cavities! I smiled a genteel smile when they shared the news. I knew it all along. I mean, we haven’t been that remiss.

So let’s hope it stays that way. But, if it doesn’t, we all know who’s to blame.

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My New Life

Today I brushed my teeth while unloading the dishwasher. My Christmas decorations are still sitting in the middle of my garage and I haven’t showered in two days. It’s 12:45 pm. This is my life. The twins have arrived.

As usual, I’ve had a thousand blog posts swirling in my head for the past four months, but finding the time and the presence of mind to write them down is like trying to keep the living room rug uncluttered with toys. Impossible.

 

At the precise moment when I was brushing my teeth, stacking cereal bowls in the cabinet and scolding my son for drawing on a piece of furniture, my two precious girls were sleeping. Thank God. That’s something not a lot of us are getting these days.

There are many times when they aren’t sleeping, and many times when I have five crazy kids running around my house. Okay, three kids running and two babies just lying there. But it’s STILL crazy. It seems like each child is progressively louder which is basically like saying my two year old sounds like a leaf blower. Our house is LOUD. And getting babies to nap in it is sorta like…well, keeping the living room rug free of toys.

Tonight, as I sit here, is the first night in four months where I am actually sitting in a comfy chair with a blanket on my legs and a computer on my lap in a quiet house at 8:00 at night. The evenings, my friends, have been my enemies. And tonight, TONIGHT, the girls fell asleep on their own! Okay, they still cried some, but we DID NOT have to go in there! (Excuse the overuse of ALL CAPS, but some things cannot be emphasized enough!!)

So what has happened in these past four months? Oh man, so much. But how do I sum it all up? I can’t possibly go back and remember every emotional meltdown, every time I fell to my knees and begged God for mercy, or every amazing person who brought us a meal and some sanity, every little illness we’ve weathered, or obstacle overcome. I don’t have the memory or the time.  And you probably wouldn’t care to hear all the details anyway.

But if I were to tell you a few things about these past four months and how I’ve handled them, I will be honest and tell you that it has been hard. Hard like nothing I have ever experienced before. Once a week I would shuffle into the kitchen in yoga pants and say through tears, “I can’t do this anymore.” And once a week I would be on my knees praying, pleading for mercy! At one point, I truly thought these girls might be the death of me. That I seriously might not survive this. I felt that I would never sleep again, and if I never slept again, I would get so sick that I would not be able to recover and then… I would die. It was that simple.

The day after my doomsday prediction, I found out I had mastitis, which I think, helps to explain my bleak outlook. I was indeed sick, but I did not indeed die. Antibiotics and sleep are amazing things.

And then there’s God.

He is so so good. He is faithful, just like the Bible says He is. He doesn’t lie. Did you know that? He has answered so many of the prayers I prayed on those dark nights as I knelt on the nursery floor. He sent little angels in the forms of neighbors and friends to remind me of His great love and care for me. He sees all my troubles. He doesn’t forget or ignore them. He knows every single thing I go through every single day. And He cares about it! Isn’t that amazing? He knows the piddly stuff, the significant-only-to-me stuff and He cares enough about it to do something about it. He has truly gotten me through. His Word, and His people have encouraged me and kept me going. I am beyond grateful!

So here I am. Still alive and blogging. Amazingly enough.

I don’t expect it to be a cakewalk from here on out. But, we are getting there friends. We are making progress. They are growing, and getting to be fun and interactive. They laugh and smile and are super duper cute. And one day too soon they’ll be sitting in a high chair feeding themselves cheese and I’ll wonder how we got there. I just hope I still won’t be brushing my teeth while I unload the dishwasher, but I could very well be. There’s a good chance the Christmas decorations will be still be there also. I beginning to accept it.🙂

Nerves and Newborns

Nerves and Newborns

One week. Just one week and they’ll be here. By this time next week, Lord willing, I will be snuggling two little baby girls!

I am excited, and nervous. Mostly nervous if I’m honest. And actually more nervous about the c-section than twins. It’s all just kinda strange, lying there with your arms outstretched like Jesus on the cross.

There I lay alert and awake on one side, while on the other side of the curtain it’s quite a different scene. Blood, guts, babies. I’m just glad I’ve never watched a c-section on T.V. I probably never will. (By the way, I can’t believe they actually show those.)

I know that I shouldn’t be thinking about this because it doesn’t help or change anything. And you might think that since this is my fourth c-section, I’d be less nervous, but that just isn’t true.

My third baby was my first planned c-section. So it wasn’t until the third time around that I truly knew I was going to have a c-section. It was planned a month or so ahead of time. And all went well. According to plan. Recovery wasn’t too bad. So why all the nerves?

Well, you see, now I know. I know what it’s like to quietly and calmly prepare for this major life event to just “happen.” There’s no labor, no physical build up…it’s just kind of…strange.

We calmly drive to the hospital. I check in like I would for my regular doctor’s appointments. They walk me to a room where I step into my hospital gown like I’m putting on pajamas. I stuff my clothes into a little plastic bag. My hair and makeup have been done, because, well, I had time to do them. It’s not 3 am. Then I go and lay on a hospital bed where they strap on monitors to check the baby(ies). The nurses hook up my IV with little commotion. Just another day at the office. I sit and wait for a while until they call my name.

I walk/waddle (whatever you want to call it) to the operating room, where just an hour or so later I will be wheeled out lying flat on my back on a hospital bed not able to move from the waist down. And I’m holding a baby. This time, two.

Strange, right? I think so.

Two. Two babies. This time they are going to hand me two babies!

What in the world?

I’ve been thinking a little about that moment. What will it be like? To be handed one beautiful baby, and then a few minutes later be handed another beautiful baby that looks exactly like the first! It’s wild, I tell you. Wild.

Even now just thinking about it tears come to my eyes. It’s so overwhelming. As many emotions as I feel about it now, so many more will be swirling through my system at that moment. (And a few drugs too)

But here’s some good news I was reminded of just the other day: the instantaneous overwhelming love connection you have with your baby. There’s nothing like it. I remember it clearly each time.

It wasn’t something I mustered up, it was a connection that just happened. Because he was my child. Because he had been moving around in me for the past 6 months and I was finally getting to meet him. And maybe also because I’ve been part of a miraculous moment. Life is truly a miracle.

God has amazed me in this pregnancy time after time. His hand has been present in every thing. So, I’ll have to remember He goes before me and behind me. He is the Creator, the one whose breath gives life. Who gives peace in storms, and operating rooms.

Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement. It’s exciting to think about meeting these girls so soon.

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The Belly

IMG_3684It’s official guys, I’m huge. Last Tuesday, at my weekly doctor’s appointment my belly measured 44 weeks! And, ahem, I’m only 34. In the span of two weeks I gained eight pounds and my belly grew 8 cm. I’ve entered the stage of the freakishly abnormal belly and it feels like it.

I am starting to get some comments. Mostly I get “any day now,” to which I smile and nod. Sure. Whatever. I am getting tired and don’t need to explain the whole long story. (“Well, I’m actually having twins, and actually there is three weeks left, but actually even more than that because my actual due date is December 17. Actually.”)

Then there are others who might be too scared to say anything as I waddle past them. And there are a few chosen ones to whom I decide to disclose the entirety of my situation and there is inevitably a nod of understanding and almost a prideful smile for noticing that I am larger than the average belly. Then there are the people who say things like, “I was gonna say, there couldn’t be just one baby in there!” I am starting to get those more and more. It’s okay. I’m not too offended. I am carrying twins after all.

And then there are my friends. My good, true, and sweet friends, who keep saying I don’t look “that big for twins,” and tell me I am looking good. Thank goodness for good friends.

For the record, the above picture doesn’t do my belly justice. If you think I look big here, you should see me in real life! In some weird amazing way, I think I look smaller in pictures than I am in real life. My honest mother agrees with me.

In the picture, I am smiling. And yes, I am doing well. Really well all things considered. But the amount of sighing and groaning I do come afternoon and evening would put an overweight middle aged man to shame.

I lug these two precious girls around all day, and by the end of it I feel incredibly uncomfortable. There’s not room for all three of us in here anymore. I am getting squished. I have no idea where my major organs are these days and I am seriously in awe at times that my body can keep on functioning. 

I can feel my skin stretching so much that it hurts. And I can’t even really tell if I have stretch marks because I can’t see half my belly. When standing in front of the mirror there is only so much twisting and bending I can do…like, um, none.

Thankfully, it isn’t much longer. November 24 is D day. My scheduled c-section. I think, praise God, I am gonna make it. Or at least close to it. That leaves me about two more weeks. Holy Moly.

I can do this! I just might not be able to get up off the couch by myself for the next two weeks.🙂

 

 

 

 

Trusting God When Things Are Good

It’s November 1st! The birth month of our precious baby girls. I am so happy, relieved, and amazed to be here, 33 1/2 weeks pregnant and rolling (not quite literally) into the month of November.

Honestly, it feels nothing short of miraculous.

I remember all the feelings I had early on in pregnancy. The fear of having twins, the fear of losing twins, the fear that all these different things could go wrong with my monochorionic identical twin pregnancy. All the risks were clearly presented and I wrestled through every single one. What if this? What if that? What if? What if? What if?

And now here I am, 33 weeks, still pregnant, walking around a harvest festival on Halloween with healthy babies in my belly, eating candy, and feeling pretty good (well, for pregnancy standards). No twin to twin transfusion, no gestational diabetes, not even bed rest. I am amazed. Amazed at how God has carried me through this pregnancy with no problems!

But even as I type these words above, fear creeps in. Don’t get ahead of yourself, Brooke, I caution. They could come today. They could be in the NICU for a month. There could be complications with the delivery. There could be, there could be, there could be.

Sounds a lot like my “what ifs” from earlier.

Sometimes I wonder when I am going to stop being afraid and just trust God. When will I remember to not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6)? When am I going to learn to fully trust Him with my whole heart, and not hold anything back?

Through this pregnancy He has proven again and again that He is LORD over it. So what am I afraid of?

I haven’t even told you dear friends of all the amazing ways God has confirmed His plan of twins for us through the mouths of my doctors. Through this process I’ve seen probably seven different doctors who have all have said wonderful things about how the babies are growing and how I am doing. They have said things about my frame being good for carrying twins  (a shocker to me), how my placenta is placed perfectly, my cervix is basically amazing (a longer story than these parentheses can hold) and how the babies are growing “even stevens” in the womb. In addition to the glowing reports of my cervix, not once, but twice have I heard the phrase “made to have twins” directed at me.

Me? Made to have twins? From the mouth of a medical professional?

Yes, I think I finally believe God has made me to have twins. I often think back and marvel at that conversation with my mentor when I was 8 weeks pregnant. I was blubber crying at the scary, shocking and overwhelming news we were having twins. I was mourning how life would change, how my body would change, how much sleep I would lose, etc. etc. But her calm quiet words keep coming back. She assured me that this had always been part of God’s plan for my life, even if it never was part of my plan. And if it’s always been a part of His plan, then He has prepared the way for it to unfold. He has gone before and after. He’s already been there. Every one of my days has been written in His book before even one of them came to be (Psalm 139). Even the day I will give birth to twins, and the 100 other difficult and wonderful days that will come after. I believe it.

It’s all starting to make sense. Yes, He planned it, He prepared it, He made my body capable, and He (not me) will carry these babies safely into this world. It’s all in His loving, gentle, wise hands. All He asks of me is to stand firm and trust in His good and sovereign character.

So I will try to do just that.

The Homestretch

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been feeling pretty lethargic in life lately. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

I guess that’s what happens when you are hauling two babies around in your belly at 31 weeks. Already, I am probably almost the size of a full term mama about to give birth, so that’s understandable, right? The hard part is, unlike that 40 week mama, I have about 5 more weeks to go! Well, hopefully.

It is starting to feel like all my energy, even all my food, is going to these babies. I don’t seem to benefit too much from what I eat, unless of course it is the sweet taste of candy corn that I love so much this time of year.🙂 I am sure the girls are loving it too. (Start ’em early, that’s my motto. Ha!)

My husband has been describing my new state of exhaustion like the last 6 miles of a marathon. That’s a pretty good analogy.

We knew it was going to be hard at the end, and now the end is here. Getting a little more emotional and a lot more exhausted. Like those last 6 grueling miles of a marathon when you want to give up, stop running, throw up, or collapse. For me it would be more like, “when you want to stop waddling, take Tums, and sit in a comfy chair and never get up.”

Tending to others needs is hard right now. Patience is thin and my middle is thick. Round. Robust. Sometimes my clothes can seem to hide my belly (a little anyway), but I had a moment the other day when I looked in the mirror and thought the thing protruding from my middle looked a little alien-esk. Yea, there’s two babies in there. It’s still very hard to believe.

I sometimes find myself too lazy to even open my Bible, or read a book, or do something productive with my mind. I find myself playing candy crush instead. I never do that. I don’t even really like those games. But there is something mind numbing about playing it. (Not that it’s simple –sheesh!).

When I am like this, it’s easy for me to feel like I am being a disobedient child of God. That He is disappointed, underwhelmed with my contribution to society, to His Kingdom, to His people, to my family. And I love it so much when others come along side me and remind that He is far from disappointed.

Because here’s the good news, He loves me unconditionally, no matter what I do or don’t do. He knows everything about me. He knows how I am feeling. And even though He came to earth as a man, I believe He knows what it’s like to be pregnant, to create life (perhaps this is why He rested on the 7th day! Haha). He, after all, is responsible for these little lives growing inside of me. He has plans for them, and for me. He is full of love, and grace, and truth. And He is full of compassion.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 103:14, “For He knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”

So there it is. He already knows how weak I am. And He loves me anyway.

And here’s some more good news. Reinforcements have arrived! My mom is here!!🙂 Darrell has been an amazing help, but it is such a refreshment to have her here to help wash, organize, decorate, shop and do all those last minute little things that I am having less and less energy to do. And to have her company, her wisdom. The comforts of a mother are endless.🙂 I am very grateful.

So all we’ve got to do now is check and few more things off My List (my list is a pretty big deal) and hang in there for about 5 more weeks. And of course, trust in God’s unfailing love and unending grace. Amen!

Pregnancy Documented in Film

My wonderful friend, the talented photographer Mrs. Amy Atkins, took these glorious pictures for me the day after I turned 27 weeks! I am blessed mostly by her friendship, but also her photography. I’ve never had maternity photos done before. So being this is my last pregnancy and TWINS, we knew we had to capture it. I think she did a great job! Don’t you?