Category Archives: UpWORD (Beauty)

A Peek Inside Life as a Mama of Three

A great friend of mine, Julianne Schneider, recently became a mother for the third time, and since I’m about to join that club I thought it apropos to do a little Q and A to focus my binoculars on that field a yonder that I’m traveling toward.  Julie, alongside her husband Jeff, is the proud mama of Brayden, 4, Luke, 2, and Samuel, two months.  She recently moved back to her home state of Wisconsin after living in Seattle for seven glorious years, and is experiencing the unique culture shock of one transplanted home again.  She’s a board-certified teacher by trade but is spending this year as a stay-at-home-mom. This exchange took place when Sam was only four weeks old.

Thank you, Jules, for sharing with us! IMG_5310 WBO:  First things first: are you keeping your head above water?
Julie:   We are doing as well as could be expected. We keep waiting for the floor to fall out, but that hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps, once we all get sick, then it will collapse. We are tired, but we are managing. I am very thankful that Brayden is at 4k in the morning, so I don’t feel guilty not playing with him and giving him the attention he wants (but doesn’t always need).

WBO:  What’s the hardest part about having three?
Julie:  The hardest thing about having all three is their needs are all so different! Brayden wants to play with Legos, Luke wants to destroy Lego creations (or eat them), and Samuel wants to be held. Harmony is impossible at these moments. For this reason, I am very thankful for PBSkids which keeps Luke entertained (and away from Brayden’s intricate Lego creations) while I am feeding Samuel, showering, or heaven forbid, feeding myself. Yes, TV is a great babysitter, and thankfully safe and teaches him a few things. I used to feel guilty about this with Brayden; now we are more in survival mode, so what the heck…I watched Sesame Street and I still went to college.

WBO:  Is there anything that surprised you because it wasn’t as hard as you expected?
Julie:  I think the transition wasn’t hard because we are already in kid mode. We don’t go out to dinner or fancy ski trips to the Alps. We don’t feel like we are missing anything anymore, which may be what makes having kids hard to begin with. The kids provide our daily adventure. Going from one to two made things harder, and pulled us both into the parenting, with less breaks. Now we are both in, and when Jeff is home, he knows what to do — no directions. I feel like we are a well-oiled machine. We just keep moving. No down time until all the kids are sleeping and we have dark chocolate and Netflix as a reward.

WBO:  What have people’s reactions been to you having three boys?
Julie:  Their reaction to three boys is very predictably, “Oh, you will have you hands full!” or “Will you try for a girl?” The cool thing about having three boys I learned is that once you have a third boy you enter this secret society of other moms with 3+ boys. During my delivery (we didn’t know what we were having), the OB who delivered Samuel and my actual OB were hoping I would have a third boy, as they both do.  After Samuel was born, they stuck around to share their joys of having three boys and welcomed me to the “club.” We seemed to share a common bond of living in the shear craziness of boyhood. We commiserated over not having calm tea parties or arts and craft sessions. Rather, they shared how exciting and loud their homes were.  My personal reaction to having three boys is of gratitude. As I reflect on the adventures I have already had with these guys, I recognize that God has equipped me to be a mother of boys. I truly believe it was all part of His plan. I don’t get super excited about the wrestling matches or bug catching. But I love building Legos, playing chase, and I already have the basketball hoop picked out to play basketball with them. I am also thrilled that I will probably never ever have to kill a spider again. Brayden has already taken over that role when Jeff is not around. If we never have a daughter, a curiosity may exist for what she would have been like, but never a disappointment. IMG_5508 WBO:  Is it hard coordinating different schedules?  Like feeding Sam so often but the others just three meals (plus snacks)?  Or managing different nap schedules?
Julie:  Brayden and Luke essentially have the same schedule. To bed at 7 and up between 6-6:30. Brayden doesn’t nap anymore, but from 12:30-3 is quiet time at our house. Brayden either reads books, plays Legos, watches a show, plays iPad games, or him and I do “learning time.” Feeding them all isn’t really that big of an issue, I mostly just get tired of doing dishes. I am thankful that Samuel doesn’t require any dishes.

WBO:  What adjustments did you have to make in terms of gear? A new car? A different stroller?  Sharing rooms? Julie:  We have a big car (Honda Pilot), but had to put Brayden in the third row to avoid all three in the same row. There would be way too much poking going on, and separation is good. Brayden and Luke both have their own rooms, and the baby is living in my closet. Our master is on the first floor, so I don’t think Samuel will be moving upstairs until he is mostly sleeping through the night.

WBO:  Are there other kids in your new neighborhood that your kids can get together with?
Julie:  We are thankful for new neighbors who organize playdates, and this entertains the older boys, especially when it is wicked cold out! The pent up energy needs to get released somewhere, and I am only up for so many games of hide-n-go-seek or chase before I need a break.

WBO:  Tell us what it’s been like moving back to Wisconsin as a family, since you left as an engaged couple.
Julie: Even though we grew up in the area, we feel like transplants, since it has been almost 15 years since we lived in this area. Sometimes I tell a small lie when I meet people, and just tell them we are from Seattle, so they don’t assume I know more about the area than I do.  We are experiencing some culture shock, good and bad. People are super friendly, but sometimes close-minded, or maybe it’s just more that they don’t know what they don’t know since they haven’t left the ten mile radius where they grew up.

WBO:  As a parent, what are some of the more obvious differences between Seattle and Wisconsin?
Julie:  I find the playdates to always be interesting…I was surprised at my first playdate and the type of foods that were served. Really, Cheetos? For 4-year-olds. The moms in Seattle would have a heart attack. I am not sure if I appreciate less pressure now that I am not expected to make kale-carrot smoothies, homemade granola, etc., or more pressure to do more to counteract the influx of junk food. Brayden is currently obsessed with Cheetos since kids on this bus bring them for snack everyday. I am standing my ground on this one though — no Cheetos. To show my resolve, I got him sushi at Trader Joe’s yesterday and reminded him that this was his favorite food in Washington, and not Cheetos. We talked about how the carrots in the California Roll were natural orange, and Cheetos were fake orange, like eating a Crayon.

WBO:  Does babyhood seem to go faster with each child?
Julie:  Yes! But I think isn’t that true of the time of life in general? I feel like each year keeps going by faster and faster. I really can’t believe I am 32 or that I will have a 5 year old this spring. The newborn phase with all three boys was a blur, and it is so short, just mere weeks before they start smiling, maintaining eye contact, filling out, and holding up their heads. I am not sure it feels faster. I think the biggest difference is you don’t hyperanalyze every change, as you know the next day it will be something different. The old adage of “the days are long, but the years are short” becomes more and more true.

WBO:  How do you manage to keep your spirits up when it’s just.so.much.work?
Julie:  Despite the loss of down time, there is so much laughing (and crying and screaming and whining) in our house. The noise is incessant, but amazing. Our home feels alive, and there is always something going on. It’s exciting to see them grow, and seeing how quickly they go from a baby to a boy, so we try not to wish this time away. Seeing how they are starting to develop relationships between each other is so exciting. Luke adores Brayden, and can’t wait for him to get home. Both big boys adore Sam, and Brayden is the master at holding him and getting him to stop crying. So in short: it’s tiring, but awesome. The highs definitely outweigh the lows.

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Thank you so much for sharing with us, Julie!  You are one amazing mama (and I will be calling you once I cross this threshold).

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All Lit Up

I have to post a public thank you to everyone who put up Christmas lights this year.  I’ve always enjoyed them, but now I feel so strongly about them I want to ring the bell of every house and pass out hugs like they’re Christmas cookies.  My enthusiasm is the result of our daily afternoon stroller walk to see all the lights as they’re coming on.  (Small aside: in Seattle, you can’t really call 4:30 “afternoon” because it’s dark as midnight within moments, but in a Christmas season with two one-year-olds, this works in my favor for the first time in my life.)

The chorus of sounds that come from the two of them are so effusive, I always wish people were on the walk with us to share in the delight.

Henry: Wow.  Wooooooooooow.
Arden:  Whoa.  Whoaaaaaaaa.
Henry:  Ooooooooooo.  Oh!  Ooooooooooooo.
Arden:  DOGGIE!

There is always at least one dog walker we pass, and for a brief moment the Christmas lights are extinguished while the babies bask in the glow of canine curiosity.  They both have decided that a dog’s “woof woof” is best expressed by puckering their lips and blowing furiously, and this never gets old.

Even though they’ve been doing it for months, I am constantly in awe of their ability to learn new words and concepts.  For instance, I brought them a stuffed Mickey and Minnie from Disneyland when I went in October, and Arden immediately learned to say their names.  So last night when we were out on our walk, we passed a house with a small inflatable Christmas Mickey, and she did the only thing one can do when one realizes for the first time that a character exists in places other than just your house: she lost her mind.  She’s a feminine girl, so we let her continue yelling “MINNIE!  MINNIE!” even though it was very clearly Mickey.  I think his Santa hat was a little too close to Minnie’s usual red bow between her ears.  It amazed me that a yard decoration I would normally consider to be tacky was now my favorite in the whole neighborhood.  This is what parenting does to you.

Tonight, we strolled the neighborhood with our usual glee, but Arden stunned me when we were approaching the Mickey Minnie house but Minnie wasn’t nearly visible yet and she started saying “Minnie, Minnie, Minnie.”  I know she’s smart, but how is this possible?  We were more than a quarter mile from our house, it was dark, and she had only seen this Minnie light once before — how did she know it was the next house?  This is the sort of thing that makes me marvel at childhood development.  Or I’m just one of those moms who thinks her kid hung the moon.  Either way.

Next weekend we’re taking the babies to see the Garden d’Lights at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, and we’re expecting it to be a tiny toddler Oprah giveaway moment.  No one is taking these lights home, but the general reaction should be the same.  The only risk is that our neighborhood lights may seem paltry by comparison, but then again, I’m betting they don’t have a small member of the Disney cast in their repertoire.

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The First Big Trip — Part Two

Can it even be called “Part Two” when “Part One” was two months ago?  I don’t want to think about it.

Let’s instead focus on the wedding of the year.  This wedding was spectacular for a myriad of reasons: it was the marriage of one of my best, closest friends I’ve known since I was 13, it took place at an extraordinary farm on the same road as the farm my parents lived on during their first year of marriage (I mean, seriously!), and it was on July 26 — the twins’ first birthday!  All of this just further reinforces our life-long friendship connection.

Plus it was gorgeous.  But when this lady is the star of the show, isn’t that obvious?

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The ceremony was a Catholic mass, which was beautiful and solemn and celebratory all at once.  The bride’s brother sang, her sister served as maid of honor, and her parents radiated joy the entire day (that’s her happy mom Anne to the left in the photo).

Plus this was the jaw-dropping cathedral.

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Amy married Brian, who you may remember from Italy, and he is one of the funniest and most generous people I know.  Now, he’s also one of the luckiest.

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Side note: that dress.  I cannot even.  It is exquisite.

During the ceremony my family took care of the babies, one of whom fell fast asleep.  Hint: it wasn’t the one in the tiny tan suit, it was the one in the tiny Parisian dress.

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Their bridal party was top-notch — entirely supportive, hugely fun, and, if I may say, uncommonly attractive — check us out just working it during the photo sesh:

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They couldn’t have been more welcoming to this lone bridesmaid from the west, to the point that I’m keeping in touch with a few of them…this bride has great taste in friends.

Plus we really excelled at kicking back.

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The reception site was a completely updated and renovated farm.  It had a gorgeous hundreds-year-old farmhouse where the ladies got ready, a refurbished barn for the dinner and dancing, and picture-perfect grounds with lush weeping willows and a peaceful pond.

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I mean, look at that magazine-worthy barn.

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Amy is probably the most thoughtful bride I’ve ever encountered.  She told her photographer in advance to take family photos of us because it was the twins’ birthday.  We couldn’t believe it and we’re so thrilled with these priceless memories we’ll always treasure.

A little back story: last year, the babies were scheduled for induction on July 25, and I was so wrapped up in that it didn’t even occur to me that the following day was the one-year-prior-to-the-wedding day.  Once the babies were born on that day instead, I think it took a full day afterward, in my drug-addled state, to turn to my mom and say, “Wait, what day is Amy’s wedding?  Is it today next year?  Were the babies born on her wedding day?”  And as I said it I knew.  And I felt a mix of new-mom joy and anxiety, with an exclamation-ridden thought train that looked like this:

“Oh my gosh Amy and Brian and the twins are going to share this day forever!!”

“Amy will be with the twins on their birthday!”

“I’m a bridesmaid so I will be busy the whole day…away from my babies on their first birthday…I had these children hours ago and I’m already feeling like the worst mom ever for missing their birthday!”

“It doesn’t matter, this is her WEDDING day!  FAR more important than a million birthdays!”

“We can just have their birthday party the week before!  This isn’t a big deal at all!”

“I can’t be away from them on their first birthday!  I am just going to pretend this isn’t happening until it is.”

“I hope this doesn’t occur to Amy so she doesn’t worry about it!  It’s NOT her problem, she’s the BRIDE!”

You can see I didn’t over-think it at all.

Well, I shouldn’t have given it any thought.  Amy humbled me to my knees with a mini-birthday party right in the middle of the reception.

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Her parents announced that it was Henry and Arden’s birthday and out came custom cupcakes and the entire room of guests sang happy birthday.  I was so moved, so totally overwhelmed, I did a lot of the thrilled-while-half-crying face.  A lot.

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Who’s the luckiest boy in the room?  Usually the groom.  In this moment, Henry.

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In a moment I’ll always remember, Mike lifted Arden high in his arms and she did what she always does when he does that — she kicked her legs in unison and we yelled “swim swim swim!” while she went crazy with happiness.  To our surprise, everyone started yelling “swim swim swim!” and she just kicked her little heart out.

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My heart was so full.  Standing next to the new Mrs. Fuga, surrounded by her wonderful family and mine, amazed that we’ve been friends since she was 12 and I was 13 — and here she was yielding the spotlight on her biggest day to celebrate my precious babies.  It was just overwhelming and so undeserved.

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After dinner…the dancing, which was phenomenal.  It may be worth your time to inquire about this DJ.  He killed it.

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(Bridal party entrances are key.)

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Weddings with family are everything.

What a spectacular wedding filled with an enormous amount of love.

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And I have this girl to thank.  Seventeen years and counting, my friend!  Cheers to you on marrying the love of your life.  Thank you for allowing us to share in your joy.

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Two Cakes, Two Candles, Two Babies, One Birthday

On July 26, Henry and Arden turned one.

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We had the party on with a brunch on July 19 because we were going to be on the east coast at the wedding of the year on their actual birthday (details on that grand affair to follow).  A huge thank you to my gracious parents for offering their beautiful home as our location!

The theme, as you may be able to ascertain, was Anchors Aweigh!  I chose this for several reasons, the first of which was its gender-neutrality.  Next it said “Adventure!” and lent itself to overtly preppy clothes, of which I’m extremely fond.  Yes, Arden’s shirt has anchors.  Yes, her pink shorts are sailor shorts, not that you can tell in that photo.  And yes, Henry’s romper has embroidered sailboats.  This was half the fun.

This post is going to consist mostly of pictures, rather than weighty insights about them turning one, because I’ve covered that territory.  Besides, who could complain about twinsy pictures?

Sam and I made that Pinterest-inspired and -worthy lifering behind them, which reads “H & A REPH 07 – 26 – 2013.”

Before the earth spins off its axis, I should just say it: yes, I crafted!  I made things!  I shopped!  I loathe all of these things, but as their birthday approached I heard that creepy whisper (lie?) that all mothers hear that says: “If you don’t make things for their birthday with your own hands, what kind of a mother are you?”  I have a strong suspicion that I’ll be deaf to this whisper within three years, but for their first birthday, I went for it.

Further evidence:

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The giant “1” behind my beautiful friend and her son is made up of the 43 weekly pictures I took of the twins to chart their growth through the year.  It’s so fun to look at up close, and I wish I had a better picture of it.  There are only 43 because I started doing it when they were seven weeks old, and I couldn’t include the last two weeks due to their birthday party date.

I also strung up all eleven of their monthly photos, but sadly, I forgot to take a picture of that.  But it’s a craft!

My extremely craft-gifted sister, Sam, made this adorable sign:

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Yes, that’s a mimosa and bloody mary bar.  You didn’t know this major rule of hosting a one-year-old birthday?  You do now.  You’re welcome (your guests will thank me).

I could go on about the enormous printed pictures and handmade themed tablecloths (thanks Mom!), but I think you get the idea.  Let’s move on to the real meaning of the day: the people.

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The twins and their Grandpa and Papa!

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Best friends/family with the birthday boy, who is judging/desiring that Mary.

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We had this gorgeous new mom and our youngest guest, her eight-day-old Gardner!

Also special friends…

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This is a recreation of a ten-year-old photo.  We do unattractive well.

That’s better.

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And another set of twins!

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I could share so many more photos of the dozens of treasured family and friends in attendance, but then this might begin to feel like a roll call.

So let’s cut the cake!

Erin and I made their little three-tier cakes, with alternating chocolate and vanilla cake.  Erin made the whipped cream from scratch to serve as frosting, because this was the babies’ first taste of sugar and I thought heavy, processed icing might make them sick.  Or maybe I thought they’d devour it and then be sick.  Either way.

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We helped them blow out their candles after singing to each of them, and then we let them at it.

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Their reaction can best be described as a mix of nonchalance and confusion.  We expected them to dive headfirst, and instead they were as Arden is above.  “Here, Nonni, if you say it’s so great, you go ahead.”

So the aunties jumped in to give them some backup.

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I have to admit I felt the strangest combination of disappointment and pride.  I really wanted them to go hog wild, but when they didn’t I felt a little like, yesssss, my Seattle hippie mom moves are paying off!  They don’t care about sugar!  Time has proven this not to be true at all (ice cream, I’m looking at you), but I enjoyed the fantasy for that day.

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Non-love for cake aside, we had a wonderful day celebrating a wonderful year.  Mike made a lovely slideshow that made me cry, and we got to stop for a moment and acknowledge the richness that’s been added to our lives in the form of our two most precious people.

We also got to high-five the accomplishment of surviving the first year.  Not insignificant, I must say!

Happy Nana.

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Happy Nonni.

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Happy birthday, Henry and Arden!

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Putting on the Brakes

The babies turned eleven months old today, so in this house we’ve all assumed the brace for impact position.  And by “we all” I mean me.

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I have dreaded their first birthday with such sorrow you’d think it was move-in day at their first day of college.  I have this pit in my stomach about them not being infants any more.  The word “toddler” is so beyond what they are to me.  They are still little squishy piles of smiles and I want them to crawl around with me in a time capsule forever.  Is that asking so much?

It’s true that every phase of life is just that: a phase, but I’m just so aware that for only one year do I get to be the mama of baby twins, thrust into a life of chaos and beauty I didn’t know possible.   It’s funny how a time limit on any experience can make us sentimentalize it.  I’ve even found myself thinking, “In a month I won’t be pumping for them anymore!” with sadness in my voice.  I do not like pumping.  Breastfeeding is normal to miss, but pumping?  No.

The other day I had a radical thought: I am enjoying myself more as time passes, not less.  As this occurred to me I asked myself why I was clinging to their babyhood so fiercely, and I could only conclude that it’s because I have loved every single one of the last 335 days.  Why would I want to leave such a time?  But now I’m realizing that my love and enjoyment of them is only growing, not diminishing in the least — and if that’s so, I should be dreaming of, not dreading, every day ahead.

We went to the zoo for the first time last weekend, and we were overwhelmed by how fun it was to have them participate in a family activity rather than just be rolled along like potted plants.  They saw the penguins swimming in the water and they laughed and stared.   That little penguin in the top middle of the photo began to — what is the word for what penguins do?  Bark?  Caw?  Scream like a banshee? — and Henry imitated him almost perfectly.  We laughed out of pure disbelief.

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They gazed at the brown bear walking through his artificial river, and we could see their little faces thinking “What the…” at this enormous creature ambling along.

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We only had to feed them once the entire time we were there, and they were awake until just before we left.

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This would never have been possible even four months ago.  It would have been a hassle of feedings and naps and baby boredom.  So this is what other twin moms mean when they say it gets easier, I thought.

For now, I need to focus on the fact that July 27 is going to be the same as July 26.  They are not going to grow two feet, start playing sports and asking for their own cell phones.  And, more importantly, they’re not going anywhere.  I have literally thousands of mornings to wake up to their happy faces.  Year two will be packed with more wonder than I can conceive of right now.  So until their birthday, I am going to revel in who they are precisely today, and give myself room to let a piece of my heart break at saying goodbye to this chapter.

And then, I’m going to celebrate.  And let them eat cake.

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Vastly Improved

After last week’s trial by fire, I thought the kids and I deserved a little field trip.  The Kirkland farmer’s market opened for the season on Wednesday, so we drove over and strolled among the fresh produce and baked goods.

It was a gorgeous, blue bird day, full of sunshine and plenty of shoppers. We walked the stalls, pausing to admire the array of color in the radishes, carrots and peppers. We stopped to talk to our favorite organic lotion shopkeeper who hadn’t seen the babies since close of last season.  He had a new organic baby lotion, which we would’ve purchased had it not been for the stores of similar lotion we have at home.

We walked the pier, basking in the water view, breathing the fresh air, and basically having every opposite sensation to illness one can have.

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Mike called while we were walking the pier, saying he was just getting off the freeway into downtown Kirkland.  I couldn’t believe it; it was only 4PM.  It was like we were getting reimbursed by a cosmic retailer for last week’s trouble.

“Three of you were sick?  Here’s a sunny day.  You, the mama, were sick?  Okay I’ll throw in a market day.  This went on for days?  Fine!  I fold.  Mike will get off early and meet you for a drink.”

I accepted this deal, hands outstretched.  We walked up to the Slip, our favorite outdoor restaurant/bar in Kirkland, and we met the baby daddy and another good friend for a beer.  I nearly had whiplash from the change: here I was, not lying helplessly on the floor, but sitting in the sunshine drinking a beer during happy hour, holding giggling babies — on a Wednesday.  It was some sort of stay-at-home-mom unicorn day.

And now, even more spectacular, I’m looking ahead to a momentous first — our first night away.  On Mother’s Day Mike gave me a card that told me we were staying overnight at a fancy hotel on June 14.  I was so excited, but also nervous to be away from the babies for the first time.  I’m still nervous, anticipating texting my parents every hour to check on them, but I’m also out of my mind excited.  I can sleep in.  I can sleep in.  I can sleep in.  Even if our wine tasting afternoon fails, and dinner isn’t great, even if everything else goes wrong — I can sleep in.  I haven’t slept in in over ten months (and I really wasn’t sleeping in while pregnant, so it’s been over a year, easily).

This is the life of a parent, isn’t it?  Ecstatic at the thought of twenty-four hours of freedom, and desperate at the thought of even one hour away from those scrumptious cheeks, chubby thighs, eager smiles.  I’ve never missed a morning of them waking to greet me.  I thank God I have my trustworthy parents to leave them to.  I know I’m going to relish a day away of doing whatever we please, but just as much I know I’m going to sprint back to their shining eyes and outstretched arms.

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The Body Issue

I think we can all agree that pregnancy is, primarily, all about the baby it produces.  However, once the baby has arrived and the dust settles, you come face to face with the little spaceship your baby arrived in, otherwise known as your body.

All of my adult life, and even some of my teenage years, I’ve feared what shape pregnancy would leave me in.  Not in an obsessive way, but when I felt like I was in good shape, I’d have this reactive thought: “Well that’s easy for you now; wait until you’ve had a baby and then we’ll talk about how hard it is to get in shape.”  I’m not sure where this fear came from; no one I know has transformed into a beast postpartum, not my mother or grandmothers, no close friends.  I suppose it’s just a natural anxiety most women have; pretty-young-thing before, overweight-Mama-Bear-from-the-Celestial-Seasonings-box after.

So when I became pregnant, I thought about what would happen afterward — but not nearly as much as I expected I would, because a twin pregnancy was as far ahead as I could focus.  I hoped that I’d be small-ish again someday, but I didn’t want to psych myself out about it in case the resulting body was completely unrecognizable.  I’d say, “You carried two people!” to let myself off the hook if I didn’t snap back in a socially acceptable time frame.

Luckily, the Lord made our bodies to be elastic.  It’s actually shocking to think that I was this size, and now I’m not.

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That was four days before I was induced.  Thirty-eight weeks pregnant.  Waddling.  Swelling.  Ready not to be pregnant anymore.

The day after the twins were born, my stomach shrunk considerably.  I was still enormous, but so much smaller than before.  I completely avoided touching my belly because it felt strange and separate from my body — squishy, empty, loose.  It was an eerie sensation so I pretended it wasn’t there.  This worked well until the nurses came around every day to push my belly in to ensure my uterus was shrinking back to its original size.  File under: Things No One Tells You.

Three days after giving birth, my feet were still giant canoes attached to my swollen legs.  The doctor came in and did an assessment on my recovery, and I was like yeah, yeah what about my FEET and ANKLES?  I tried to sound professional.  I might have said, “Doctor, my feet and ankles are still quite swollen…when should I expect them to return to normal?  Tomorrow?”  He interrupted me, “Yeah, those are cankles.  It’s gonna take about a week.”

1.  My doctor said “cankles.”

2.  A WEEK?

Other than that, I didn’t give my figure another thought, and how could I?  I was recovering from surgery, bonding with my babies, learning to breastfeed and pump, seeing visitors, and trying to sleep whenever possible.  The idea of worrying about losing weight was absurd.

The day after Henry was released from the NICU (babies were 18 days old), Mike and I visited the Juanita waterfront for our first stroll with the bambinos.  We walked around and laughed about how I looked like a woman pushing newborn twins while seven months pregnant.

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The following day, my sister Erin and I returned to the park for a concert for babies.  This sounds ridiculous for two-week-old newborns to attend, but it was irresistible to me; sunshine, water, my first “mommy” activity, and the bliss of taking the babies out of the house.

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It’s strange that my stomach looks smaller in just one day, but that’s how it was — virtually every day it shrank smaller and smaller.  Elastic, I tell you.

By the six-week mark I looked less pregnant and more generally out of shape, like a passerby might think, do a few sit-ups, why don’t you?

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This was shortly before I got the all-clear to start exercising, but even since then I haven’t burst into action.  The insane calorie-burn of breastfeeding has done all the work, leaving me with ten pounds to work off on my own.  (I’m not going to lose those for a while, however, because things need to stay a little heavier with two babies counting on me as their food source.)

My exercise now consists of stroller walks and the Tracy Anderson Post-Pregnancy DVD.  This involves about three thousand crunches, and half as many leg-lifts.  I exaggerate, but only slightly.  I’m doing it as often as I can during nap-time, and already I feel more held together.  I also seriously considered buying that corset-like band, but never got around to it and figured it wouldn’t help that much anyway.

Here’s the thing: I wish I was very mother-earth, all zen, walking around saying, “it’s just a body! I got to participate in the miracle of life!  Who cares?”  But the truth is I’ve never met a woman who didn’t want to return to her pre-baby body.  For some people, things fall right back into place, but for most of us we’re left with various parts that aren’t exactly how we’d like them.

Here I am about three weeks ago, fourteen weeks after giving birth.

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I am not delusional — I realize I basically look like I did before I had the twins.  But let’s be real: I’m wearing leggings that cinch me in and a hoodie that zips me all together.  It’s DIY Spanx.  Things are not as they were…my body hasn’t sunk like the Titanic, but it’s also not sailing into New York as good as new either.  Would you like an example of good as new?

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Ridiculous, no?  Awesome, yes?

She gave birth four days before me.  There I go perpetuating the pressure on women to snap back…hardly.  Kate is not women’s standard; she’s our dream, and there’s a difference.

I don’t think my body will ever be the same, and that’s okay.  I have stretch marks, a scar, and — this is what I remind myself — two healthy babies.  If that’s what I lay at the altar of my vanity, so be it.  Rather than striving for the body I had, I’m moving toward the body that’s awaiting me: new, different, a little flawed, but beautiful.

After all, on days when I’m not feeling quite Kate Middleton-esque, I’ve figured out a way to hide that tummy, and it beats the hell out of Spanx.

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