Category Archives: The WORD (Faith)

Fluffy Bows and Thick Mustaches

Before we knew we were having twins, we seriously considered waiting until the birth to discover the sex of the baby.   We loved the idea of the grand surprise as well as finding out as millions of others have throughout history.  But once we discovered they were twins, that idea was dropped faster than a particularly offensive diaper.

The immense amount of prep work and planning for twins did not allow my Type A brain to consider the option of getting double of everything in green and yellow.  An ambiguous twin nursery?  No, and no.  Apart from that, the sheer desire of wanting to know who they were tipped us right over the edge, and we decided to find out the genders at the first opportunity.

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It wasn’t long before we came up with the idea of a “gender reveal party.”  These are a relatively new social gathering, where the results of the gender-revealing ultrasound are shared in front of family and friends in a creative way — cutting into a cake to see blue frosting, opening a gift to reveal a pink onsie, you get the idea.

We chose to do balloons being released out of a two large boxes, because balloons are a sign of celebration, and they are highly visible to a large crowd as they float up into the air.

We went to our ultrasound at nearly 21 weeks and the technician was totally supportive of keeping the genders a secret from us during our appointment.  She helped by having us look away when the screen was going to show the babies’ delicates.  She then filled in a piece of paper I had brought along, which said:

Baby A is a:   GIRL      BOY
Baby B is a:   GIRL      BOY

There were check-boxes next to the girl and boy options, which she checked and then highlighted with the corresponding pink or blue highlighter, and then stuffed it in an envelope we’d brought.  It was deliciously difficult to walk out of the office with that information in our hot little hands, but the promise of the surprise was all the motivation we needed.

Many people asked us over the previous months what we wanted.  I never really answered that question aloud, because I was a thousand times more excited about having twins than I was about having one gender or the other.  I knew in my heart I’d be thrilled with any combination.  If I had to say which made me slightly unsettled, it was two boys, because I grew up with only sisters and didn’t have any idea what raising boys would be like, but I actually really wanted a son.  I’ve also always hoped that I would one day have a daughter, due mostly to the fact that I have such a great relationship with my mother.  Mike felt the same way, but the opposite — he would be thrilled no matter what, but he’d love to have a boy in the mix because he’s always wanted a son.   But really, we spent countless hours talking about how wonderful each combo would be, and how especially fabulous one of each would be because we’d get to experience raising a son and a daughter at the same time.

The next morning Mike went to QFC and asked the lady at the balloon counter to fill the boxes he’d brought along according to what was in the envelope he was about to hand her.  This made no sense to the balloon lady.

“You want them to be pink and blue?”

“No, I want you to read the envelope, and then fill the boxes based on what it says.”

“Do you want me to tell you what the envelope says?”

“No — again, this is surprise to me; you will know, and I will not.”

(ten more minutes of explaining)

“Oh!  I get it!   How exciting.  But it’s my break time so I’ll be back in twenty minutes.”

(Mike stifles rage)

Several people asked why we would trust the revealing of our genders to an hourly-wage QFC employee, but we knew we had the envelope with the results, along with ultrasound photos the technician included, so we could verify that the balloons matched the genders once it was all over.  Incredibly, the balloon lady managed to complete the task, and we headed to my parents’ house for the party.

My sisters were enormously, crucially helpful in planning the creative aspects of the party.  They were all over Pinterest getting great ideas and then we had a sisters’ sleepover to craft everything the night before.

It totally paid off.

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We created a board for people to cast their votes of which gender they thought they babies were, and then they wore pins to signify their choices.  Pink bows for girls, black mustaches for boys.

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We posted signs around the room of fun facts about twins.

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And of course the food was blue and pink themed.  I mean, how many chances in life for this, people?

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About an hour into the party we took photos of the guests showing their votes.

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And then it was time for the big reveal.

Mike and I, along with our parents, were bundles of nerves.  Honestly, how many times in your life are you aware that the next five minutes will literally change the entire rest of your life?  It’s too enormous to comprehend.

Mike and I went into another room to collect ourselves, remind ourselves of what was really happening, and say a prayer of gratitude for the babies, no matter what sexes they turned out to be.  Then we joined the crowd of about 30 friends and family for the opening of the boxes.

One of the most incredible things about this party was the people who weren’t physically there — we had relatives and friends on Skype and Face Time staring at us live as we opened the boxes.  It was an insane Jetsons’ moment to look into a crowd and see our siblings and best friends staring back at us on iPads, ready to see the big reveal live.  We were so, so moved that they would attend from, in some cases, 3,000 miles away.

We chose to have the grandparents be the ones to open the boxes, to honor them and their role in our children’s lives.  We let my parents go first because they would be first-time grandparents through the twins.

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Here is a video of the big moment.

When those pink balloons slipped into the air, my heart absolutely exploded with joy.  I felt an immense rush of love and gratitude, which I could only process with tears that filled my eyes and closed my throat.  I kept saying “I have a daughter, I have a daughter” which was something I’ve wanted my entire life.

I will also fully admit that my immediate second thought was:  oh praise the Lord who knows me enough not to give me two boys!  Amen, and amen.

I love the hug that my mom and I shared in that moment, because she wanted a granddaughter as intensely as I wanted a daughter (and, as a mother of three girls, she wanted it not to be two boys more than anyone can comprehend).

Even as we turned to open the second box, my mind couldn’t move past the fact that I was having a daughter.  I kept saying it over and over — the shock was palpable.  I felt so full of joy that my anxiety for box #2 really melted away.  I kept thinking how amazing it would be for the next balloons to be blue because my dad would have a grandson, my mom would have to learn how little boys operate, and my in-loves would have another grandson (they currently have one and three granddaughters).

Mike’s nervousness had not melted away.  He was thrilled to have a daughter, and had talked about wanting a girl for weeks, but he really also wanted a son.  So once the girl balloons were opened, the pressure was on.  He was visibly nervous as Glenn and Colleen began to unwrap the second box.

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Here is a video of the big moment.

I remember two things about those blue balloons floating out of the box:

1.  My soul rocketing out of my body as I realized we were going to have one of each — the feeling was like fireworks going off in every corner of my mind.  The gratitude and joy were measureless.

2.  Suddenly coming out of my own shock in time to see my husband three feet above me, screaming at the top of his lungs in way I have never heard him scream.  He leapt across the room with such abandonment, he later said it was an out of body experience — he simply couldn’t react any other way.  I was so thrilled to see his joy, his excitement, his unstoppable ecstasy.  It was one of the greatest moments of our lives.

hershey

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Filed under One WORD (Current Events), The WORD (Faith), UpWORD (Beauty)

Spectacular!

I have no ability to play it cool about this, so I’m just going to say it:

I’m pregnant!

WITH TWINS!

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This is far and away the most spectacular thing ever to happen in my and Mike’s life, and we’re completely astounded that God would give us two.  TWO!

I have never talked about it on this blog, but I have wanted twins for many years.  Not just wanted, craved.  I’ve never really fantasized about having a baby, but twins consistently made me feel overcome with desire.  This cannot be logically explained beyond the fact of what my mother said to me upon finding out I was having them.

“This isn’t like God granted your wish to have twins.  You were always going to have twins because He wanted you to — so He gave you the desire in your heart to have them long before you did.”

She’s absolutely right.  There’s just no other explanation.

But let’s back up, shall we?  Let’s replay the scene of Mike and Abby finding out this little tidbit of information.

We found out we were pregnant shortly after Thanksgiving, and we went into the doctor for our eight-week ultrasound about three weeks later.  We answered the nurse’s  standard questions of our medical history and that of our families, I got checked out for overall health, and then the OB-GYN came in.

She looked exactly like Elizabeth Banks, which made me like her right away because nothing proves you’re already a good mother than judging your doctor’s professional abilities solely on youthful good looks.

She talked to us for a little bit and then opened our chart and said, “OK, looks like you don’t have twins on either side of the family, so we’ll rule that out…”

I interrupted, “Oh but I would LOVE twins!”

“It’s true, she always has,” Mike chimed in.

She blinked at me.  “Why?  Oh my gosh, are you serious?  Well, I won’t go into all the reasons you don’t want twins, because what if you have them and then you hate me?”

She lead us down the hall to the ultrasound room and we were clearly excited, but also nervous.  As I changed into the tent-like gown, Mike held my hand and told me that if there was nothing in the ultrasound, it would be OK, and we could try again, and not to worry.  I agreed completely, but told him if nothing was there I would cry a little bit, but then I’d be fine.  With that healthy communication out of the way, in walked the doctor.

She turned on the monitor and proceeded to move the wand around, and said, “OK there it is,” but before she could even finish that thought she gasped and said, “OH MY GOSH THERE’S TWO.”  Her eyes were enormous and she pointed to the screen where we saw two tiny glowworms with hearts that fluttered like confetti.

My mind went white hot with a rising hope so intense my only way to cope was to confirm, again, and again, and again.

“Are you serious?  Are you joking?  Are you serious?  Are you serious?  Are you kidding?  Are you kidding?”  I said this to her in an absolute blur, talking as fast as I could while I watched her face and the screen, back and forth looking for this to be real, because if it was, my whole life just got made.

She shook her head in disbelief and said very calmly, “I’m not kidding, I’m not kidding, look right here, those are two hearts and two babies.”

I believed, but the happiness was so extreme that my heart and brain couldn’t function on a rational level, so I started laughing, laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, laughing with the most outrageous joy I’ve ever felt in my life.

Finally I crawled out of myself enough to think…Mike.  What does he think?  He didn’t want twins the way I did…and I turned to him and saw the biggest smile I have ever seen on my husband’s face.  His eyes were the size of sand dollars, but it’s that smile I will always remember.

We hugged in a way that conveyed everything our overwhelmed souls couldn’t express.  It was the fiercest hug we’ve ever shared.

It was as if the entire night sky had exploded in that room, every twinkling star, the wide full moon.  Everything in our lives was instantly transformed, instantly ruptured into a creation more beautiful than we knew possible.  My uncontrollable laughter (that was still going on) was the only way I could function as I realized my most absurd, least attainable, out-of-my-control dream was coming to life.  Two lives, actually.

“You’ll have to stop laughing for a second,” the doctor said while laughing herself, “or I can’t get a photo of them.”  Every time she snapped a picture, one of the twins disappeared because my stomach muscles were all over the place with belly laughs.

“I will,” I said, trying to breathe, “Just one second.  You are witnessing the most surreal moment of my entire life…” and I burst out laughing again, feeling exactly like the second grader who tries to hold in laughter at the most inappropriate moment.  I took stuttered breaths so she could get some good shots, and then she said she couldn’t tell yet if they were identical or fraternal, but that we’d likely know at the next appointment.

When we got back to the exam room, we were on a kind of high that happens only a handful of times in a person’s lifetime.  The doctor wanted to get right down to business (“I need you to understand that breastfeeding will be your full-time job”) but Mike and I kept interrupting with new revelations.

“Oh my gosh now we really need to find out the sex — there’s two!” Mike exclaimed.  “And look at her hands, she’s shaking!”

I was, I couldn’t stop.  I tried to listen as she told me to add 600 calories to my daily diet, but the sheer joy in my body was crowding everything else out.  I couldn’t stop thinking what that must have been like for the Lord to see us — He always knew there were two, and on this day He finally got to see us be let in on the secret.  It still blows my mind.

A nurse poked her head in the room after the doctor left and said, “So!  You and the Duchess!”  Which was like a kiss, it was so sweet of her.  She couldn’t possibly know my obsession with Kate, and yet she reminded me we were pregnant together.

We went to lunch to celebrate and couldn’t even order food, due to shock.  The waitress came by four times to take our orders and we hadn’t stopped gaping at each other long enough to look at the menus.  Finally Mike blurted out, “I’m sorry, but we can’t order because we just found out we’re having TWINS!”  She shrieked and congratulated us and then came running back five minutes later to tell us she’d told the whole staff.  We just laughed.

So here we are — 21 weeks in:

21 Weeks

The doctor told me I would measure about four weeks ahead of a woman pregnant with a singleton (can you believe doctors have this robotic word for babies who aren’t twins?), and the bump is not disappointing.

More to come…much, much more.

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Raindrops on Roses

Yesterday I was at Trader Joe’s for my weekly grocery run, and as I waited in the checkout line I looked out the door to the parking lot.  It had been lightly sprinkling when I’d come in, but now it was a colossal downpour rarely seen in Seattle.  I looked down at my clothes: no raincoat.  Earlier that morning, like an idiot, I’d told myself “April showers, May flowers…who needs a raincoat?”

After paying, I pushed my cart outside and stood under the awning.  I took one step out from under it and was splattered in drenching rain.  I jumped back and spent thirty seconds debating how long would be too long to wait for the rain to pass, but decided that was a truly pathetic response for a nearly fifteen-year Seattleite.  In order to reduce the soak, I visualized my approach like a sprinter pictures crossing the finish line — I’d unlock the doors, grab both grocery bags, open the door, toss both bags inside, and then hurry back to return the cart.

It was all planned.  What’s that they say about the best-laid plans?

I dashed along the sidewalk to my car, which was parked in front of the building, so I didn’t have far to go.  I grabbed the handle of the cloth bag and the handle of the paper bag and stepped off the curb to move toward the car door.  I never saw the cement parking stop that caught both of my feet — I fell so fast I didn’t even realize I’d fallen.  I was standing one moment, and the next I was lying face-first in an inch of water, all of my groceries splayed out before me.  My mind raced to catch up to what was happening, but all I could think was “Why is the puddle red?”  Suddenly I realized a bottle of wine had shattered and was soaking not just the cement but my groceries, too.

“Oh my gosh are you OK?” a woman behind me asked.  She looked truly horrified and stopped to stare.

“I’m fine, I think,” I replied, not knowing which way was up.  “I think I’m fine.”  I finally stood up and tried to triage the situation.  As the rain continued to pour, I couldn’t decide what was most urgent — my cell phone lying face down in water, my leather purse lying on its side in the water, or both bags of groceries which were now soaked through.  It’s incredibly bizarre how the brain functions when it’s in minor shock — all of this seemed to last for forty-five minutes, but actually occurred in about twenty seconds.

I picked up my purse, keys and cell phone and threw them over my shoulder.  I grabbed the cloth bag which wouldn’t break on the bottom, and determined that the groceries inside were mostly OK.  I threw it in the car, splattering a pint of water all over the seat.  I gingerly picked up the shattered glass fragments from the concrete and put them in the disintegrating paper bag with the ruined groceries.  It occurred to me just then that I’d now have to re-shop for all of these items, and the thought of it completely overwhelmed me.

I picked up the bag and carried it inside, in a daze.  I stood in the doorway dripping water from my hair and clothes, and put the bag down on the floor.  I looked around for an employee but couldn’t really get over the fact that I was standing in the middle of a grocery store fighting back tears, and didn’t want anyone to see me at all.  Finally I walked up to the nearest one who had a chipper can-I-help-you look until she turned and saw me and dropped her jaw.

“I need help,” I said feebly, “I fell in the parking lot and need a garbage can for my groceries…” I didn’t finish before she interrupted.

“Oh my gosh, oh you poor dear!  Are you OK?  Are you hurt?” she asked earnestly.

“I’m alright,” I replied, realizing for the first time that my left knee was actually throbbing and my left hand was scraped.  “I picked up the glass because I don’t want someone to get hurt…” I trailed off because she had already picked up my soaking bag and was guiding me toward the other side of the store.

“We’re going to get these replaced for you,” she said matter-of-factly, the idea of which had never even occurred to me.  “Just give me a moment while I see what you have here.”

I bit my lip to keep from crying because her kindness was all it would take to break the dam.  I grabbed a paper towel and started wringing the water out of my hair and off my clothes.  I looked down at my leather boots which were beyond help, and realized I was wearing leggings that should have torn, but were surprisingly intact.

The woman came out of the back room with a piece of paper and a basket and started running around the store filling it up with all of my ruined items.  I was shocked to see this and wanted to trail after her to tell her I could do it, but the odd thing was, I really couldn’t.  If they had thrown away my groceries I know I would have turned around and driven home without the items, because I was still shaking and my knee was aching.  Toss in my humiliated face and soaked clothes and you have someone who is not willing to wander the aisles for food.

I closed my eyes and heaved a major sigh of gratitude that the employees of Trader Joe’s were such angels.  In doing so, I must have looked even worse because a fellow shopper walked by, looked at me, and stopped.

“Arrrrrre you OK?” he asked.  I told him I was fine and mentally noted that however bad I thought I looked, it was probably twice that.

The lady with my groceries came back and said, “I’m so sorry but we’re all out of the ground flax seed you had in your bag, so we’re going to refund you for that.”  The idea that she was inconveniencing me with her lack of flax seed was so laughable that I did just that — I laughed.

I looked down at her name-tag and noted her name – Nancy – so I could write a composed thank you note, as I didn’t have the words to tell her thank you sufficiently.

Another employee walked up to me and handed me the two dollars and change for the flax seed, and then double-bagged my fresh groceries.  Just then Nancy came walking over with a bouquet of flowers, and I caught my breath at their generosity.

“Nancy, I can’t thank you enough.  I really am so embarrassed and I’m so grateful for your help,” I told her.  “The flowers are just above and beyond, I don’t know what to say.”

She instantly saw that I was one word away from bursting into tears, so instead she hugged me.

I walked to the car with my groceries and flowers, amazed at the kindness of strangers.  In the words of Anne Lamott, God was really showing off on this one.

I got in the car and finally cried like I’d wanted to since the moment I fell.  Except these tears weren’t just filled with a bruised knee and ego, they were also filled to overflowing with gratitude.

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