It’s a Twin Thing

Chocolate and twins

Legit #twinmomprobs

You might be an identical twin if:

Your health insurance MIGHT just deny the birth of one of you.

We battled the insurance company and had to prove that we had twins before they would cover the cost of 2 nursery bills.

Your mom has to pull the car over, get you out of your car seat, and check to make sure she is bringing the right twin to a sick visit at the doctor.

How totally embarrassing would it be to show up at the doctor and find out you brought the wrong one.

You master the age old strategy of divide and conquer.

Once I took my boys to the park to feed the ducks when they were about 2. I figured I could handle taking them off their leashes. Yeah. Wrong. First thing they did was split. One went towards the water from the shore. The other headed to the dock and started climbing over. I ran after the one climbing over the dock -that would have been about an 8 ft drop into deep water. About the time I grabbed him, I heard a splash. His twin brother had jumped in the shallow water on the shore. I have had to learn to pick who to run after based off of who is headed to the most danger.

You had to wear toenail polish on your big toes for the first 3 months of your life.

The fear of switching babies at birth is a real fear.

Honesty is sometimes a battle too easy to lose- You know how to pull a successful switch-a-roo

This year at a t-ball game, one of my twins didn’t hear his name called as next batter, but his twin brother heard! Sneaky twin told the coach that he was his brother and walked up to the plate to bat. I was the 3rd base coach and knew the line up, so I caught him. But man. Honesty. Yeah.

We have friends whose boys are geniuses (like literally) and we get tickled and nervous every time we hear the story about one time when they switched, one of them gave the same speech twice and the other took the same math test twice. One of mine has already threatened to switch on his teacher. He’s only in Kindergarten!

I have also caught them cheating on their eye exams! The chart was at the end of the hallway, and one twin stood around the corner close to the chart and would look at each letter and whisper it to his twin taking the eye exam!

Your mom might just accidentally put 2 individual pictures of ONE of you and 0 pictures of the other one on your Christmas cards.

Not going to admit to doing this though 😉

You can really confuse the school picture company.

Recently, my twins had school pictures. I totally did the twin mom thing and dressed them alike, gave them each a check and an order form and then sent them on their way. Both of their checks were deposited. But only one of them brought pictures back. The other one just had a proof sheet order form. Yeah. I am 99% sure that the photo company mistakenly thought “I’ve already done this kid” and skipped over one of them.

Same has happened at church. Last year they were getting pictures taken and their teachers skipped one of them. (I myself was a teacher haaha)

Pinterest may become your moms best friend and your worst enemy.

Ohh the twin picture ideas! I played dress up with my boys all the time for photo ops that I saw on Pinterest. But every one of them was a Pinterest FAIL!

twin pic

You might freak your mom out by talking to each other in your sleep.

I have heard mine talking to each other and laughing simultaneously while they’re asleep. Once they even laughed at the same time while they were sleeping in separate rooms. Creeepyy.

You try to one up each other. All. The. Time.

You are squeezing the shampoo all over the floor? Well I will squeeze out the conditioner AND body wash!

You are super gluing paper to the wall? Well I will super glue my MOUTH!

You are going to climb to the top of the fence? Well I will climb OVER the fence!

You get blamed for your twin’s offenses.

                Self explanatory.

Only one toothbrush in the bathroom? It’s his? Oh well. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

One of my twins is somewhat a germophobe. The other one would brush his teeth with a stranger’s toothbrush if he had to. I regularly have to break up a fight when germophobe kid discovers his twin using his toothbrush.

Twins

Other babies may play in their own poop. We will play in each other’s poop!

Anndd on that note,

Last but not least, my biggest #twinmomprob—

SYNCHRONIZED POOPING.

Like, all the time. Guess similar bodies eating the same meals means that it all runs through about the same time. No biggie as long as there are 2 toilets around. But when there is just 1 toilet. Let me just tell you. The twin fight that commences is nothing short of a battle scene.

I hope you will add your own unique twin things in the comments. and tell me about it on facebook!

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The cute newborn pictures are found here and here

Kindergarten, Twin Individuality, and this Momma’s Anxiety

My twins are starting kindergarten. Kindergarten. And I am anxious.

Not only am I anxious for that first day like any other mom. That big step. Making friends. Sitting still, taking turns and lining up. Earning grades. A full day of school. Wondering if the teacher will love him like I do. Is he going to get picked on? Will he be the one picking on others?

No, I am also anxious because I feel like it’s the first day of their independence. Not just independence from me, but independence from each other. The first day of a road in which they won’t just be “the twins.” Their names won’t always be stuck together “Ryder and Camden.” Now they will be “Ryder,” and “Camden,” separately.

In the 2000ish days of their life’s, they have only spent 2 days apart. Only 2 nights in separate bedrooms. And they had an incredibly hard time saying bye to each other on those 2 days.

They are beyond best friends. Their bond can’t be explained. And while I know their bond won’t be broken in kindergarten, I know it will change.
Now they will be competing against each other. Because, let’s just face it, I am raising competitive boys, and who are they most competitive with? That’s right, each other.

Twins baseball

I am anxiously awaiting that first report card, when one of them brings home higher grades. I am anxiously awaiting team tryouts as they get older when one makes the team, and the other might not.

I’m anxious.

I’m anxious that one will thrive, while one sinks back into the shadows.

I’m anxious that one will be known as “the good kid” while one is known as “the handful.”

I’m anxious that one will have loads of friends, while one has none.

I’m anxious about comforting one of them when his brother gets invited to a birthday party and he doesn’t.

I’m anxious that they will be constantly compared. Not just by their teachers and friends, but by each other.

Deep breath.

I have been anxious about this, for their whole life. And now it is here. Looking me straight in the face.

I know that kindergarten will be great for them. I know they will each be able to develop their own skills and start seeing each other as individuals. I know they will probably miss each other and that at the end of their day apart they will have a lot to talk about- and hopefully fight less! They have a total love-hate relationship right now, and I hope that time away from each other will just strengthen the love part of that relationship.

 

newborn twins

When I look at them, I still see those newborn twins who would hold hands while nursing. Or who would poke each other in the face before they could even crawl. I see the little boys who have always managed to make messes and get into things. Together.

 

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I have done my best to raise them knowing that they are different people. With different talents and abilities. With different personalities and strengths. But at the end of most days, they want to be so much alike. At the end of most days, when they are having their nightly slumber party in their bedroom, I can’t help but think about the challenge of parenting them while they’re becoming independent of each other. I’m so nervous.

But I am so excited for them and I can not wait to look that challenge in the face and say Bring It On.

Challenge accepted.

 

Love, AshleyI would love for you to join me on Facebook!

My Goal this Summer- To Ground my Kids from Outdoors, Not from Electronics

Old School SummerIf you haven’t already read it, I would encourage you to read a somewhat entertaining, and very honest article I posted at the end of last summer, I Miserably Failed my Summer To-Do List. It serves to be a great reminder for me, and I hope for you too, to realize that the time we spend with our kids is far more important than checking any items off of a to-do list.

This year, I am beginning summer with just one goal.

My goal this summer is to teach my kids to fall so in love with the things God made for them to enjoy, that they don’t mind being grounded from the things that humans made for them to enjoy. For them to experience old-school and pre-electronic summer days.

The disciplinary tool of the 21st Century seems to be a “digital grounding” type consequence. And that’s ok, I do that myself, but this summer I am wanting to go old school. I want my kids to fall in love with the 1990’s type of summer that I grew up in. I want being grounded from playing outside with friends to become a more meaningful consequence than being grounded from their indoor screen time.

I want to be able to say “you’re grounded from TV today,” and my kids not care at all, because they’d rather be outside anyways.

I want discipline to have more of an impact when I say “you’re grounded from your friends, and playing in the mud.” I want them to love being an old-school, outdoor kid so much that they absolutely hate when that is taken away.

I want them to spend their time outside in the fresh air, doing sidewalk chalk with me, and wrestling with their dad. I want them to discover secrets of nature, to see God’s beauty in everyday life. To climb 15 feet high in trees, to have picnics. And to love it.

To love it so much, that they would rather have the privilege of playing a tablet taken away, than the privilege of being outdoors taken away.

Old School Summer MudI want them to play in the water and mud that God created. To use their eyes and imaginations and find pictures in the clouds.  To listen to birds, catch worms, and play in the rain. I want them to use their bodies to run to their friend’s houses and learn to play and sort through disagreements on their own. To ride their bikes to the baseball field and play ball for 4 hours in the heat, and drink from the water hose when they’re thirsty. I want them to use their voices to sing and laugh and yell at each other. To discover gravity first-hand, to learn from experience not to pick up ants, and to scrape their knees in a games of tag. I want to get good at pulling out splinters, and comforting with an ice pack for a busted lip.

I want them to work. To mow, pick up trash, and find ways to volunteer and serve others.

And I want to do all those things with them.

But more importantly, I want THEM to WANT to do those things. To have that desire within themselves, not because it is something I want for them, but because it is something they want for themselves.

I want them to experience a screen-free, and natural fun. And for them to realize, that screen-free fun is the best fun.

We live in a time of man-made entertainment. But this summer, my goal is to help my kids find joy in God-made entertainment.

A Positive Perspective on Participation Trophies

Participation Trophies do not lead to entitlementI have read far too many articles and heard far too many people complain that “participation trophies are a contributing factor to this generation feeling entitled.” Or something of that nature. For some reason, people actually believe that a piece of plastic is a developmental obstacle for children.

Plastic. Plastic that represents participation. Showing up. Working hard. Sweat. Practice. Participation. A developmental obstacle?

No! A developmental obstacle is not having a parent who is willing to read to you. A developmental obstacle is having a parent who believes that their 6 year old Little Dribbler Program is what is going to pave their child’s way to the NBA. A developmental obstacle is not eating healthy. Not getting enough sleep. Not being shown love. There are REAL developmental obstacles to worry about that do not involve a piece of plastic.

Participation is NOT the cause of kids growing up to feel entitled. Bad parenting is the problem. Parents and coaches actually need to emphasize participating MORE. They need to teach the value of showing up and being reliable. They need to teach the importance of kids working their hardest no matter the outcome. They need to teach kids the significance of overcoming obstacles, even if the kids come in last place.

Just starting and finishing a season is a win for some kids- for the shy boy who is nervous, the little girl who might be a little chubby, the kid who doesn’t have any friends, or might have a mental or physical disability, our kids, your kids. Some kids are never rewarded at home for their efforts. Allowing those kids the opportunity to play on the team is a WIN to me. That child giving it their all and putting effort into the game is a WIN to me. Regardless of the scoreboard.

We apparently think our kids are dumb if we think they don’t know a difference in participating and winning. They KNOW. They see the scoreboard. They ask the question “did we win?” And they understand when they hear the word “no.” They are not idiots. They WANT to WIN.

Give your kids some credit. They know the difference in a gold medal and a green participation ribbon. They’re not oblivious.

Parents are making their kids into their own trophies. It isn’t the kids who put 100% of the focus on winning. It is the parents who do that. 6 year old kids are still looking for fun things to do after school. 8 year old kids are still learning what commitment means. Kids are wanting a game. And to learn to love that game. Parents are wanting a win.

I coached a 4 year old soccer team this year. Do you think playing was solely about winning or losing for those little 4 year olds?

No! It was about PARTICIPATING.

Because quite frankly having any short attention spanned, hyper, excited, clueless 4 year old boy even finish the season is a WIN to me. Teaching them to be tough when they fall down or keep playing the game when they’re tired is a WIN to me.

“Oh but if we just give out trophies for participating to our 5 year olds without them earning it, then when they are 25 they will feel entitled to whatever they want and expect to win just by showing up.” Yeah. Whatever.

Here’s a thought. How about instead of putting all the emphasis on the win, let’s teach kids HOW to be winners. Instead of putting emphasis on not losing, let’s teach kids HOW to handle the losses. To win humbly and lose gracefully. Instead of putting no emphasis on participating, let’s teach our kids that participation is what is most important.

Participation is the meat. It is the “behind the scenes.” It is the sweat and grit. Winning is just the finished product. Losing is also a finished product. Participation is the foundation to winning.

Guys, adults get participation trophies. Go to any marathon, and you will see tens of thousands of ADULTS with a participation medal and shirt and goodie bag.

Rock N Roll Half

That Christmas bonus you got at work? Oh, that is for PARTICIPATING, for showing up every day, for hard work, for being accountable, for taking part in that job. Even if you didn’t win a “Best of the West” award that your city hands out, you as an employee will still get a reward for participating.

High school kids- they have to participate in order to get their graduation diploma. Regardless of if they win the title of Valedictorian or not.

Yes, in life there are “winners” and there are “losers.” But there are also people who just “participate.” Not every job is a competitive job. Success does not always mean win.

Sure, there are some jobs that are competitive. But, there are plenty of real life jobs that aren’t competitive. Some are just jobs. Or jobs in which you are your own competition. It is just you and the finish line. There are no winners and no losers, just finishers and quitters, just participants and no-shows. There are real jobs where just showing up, working hard, and finishing is every bit as important as “winning.”

The hard work of a 5 year old deserves to be rewarded. A 7 year old finishing what they start deserves acknowledgement. Work ethic is being replaced by this thought of “winning makes me better than you.”

Now is that piece of plastic, or that green participants ribbon necessary? No. Is it harmless? Absolutely. It is ok for participation to be rewarded at a young age? Yes. Actually, it is important. Instead of de-valuing the meaning of participation, let’s emphasize to our kids the significance of being part of a team, of developing friendships, of hard work, of showing up, of relying on others and being reliable themselves. Let’s teach them the significance of participating. Trophy or not.

 

**This post is mostly in regards to youth sports. Youth sports is where kids should learn the importance of participating, where showing up should be emphasized, where they learn how to work hard. Youth sports should be about developing their love for the game.

Once kids get to school athletics (7th grade here), winning should become the priority. At this point kids aren’t just representing their parents or their mom/dad coach. They are now representing their school, their teachers, their district, their city, region, and state. At this point, their coaches aren’t just a parent. Their coach’s job depends somewhat on winning.

** Personally, I don’t think that entitlement comes from the “participation trophy- show up and get rewarded” theory. I think it is caused by people thinking that somehow,  because of who they are, they deserve special treatment. But that is a completely different post topic. 🙂

 

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To the Person Who Showed my Son the True Meaning of Christmas Giving

Two years ago at Christmas, “Santa” got my oldest son a brand new bike. He was thrilled. He had been asking for a new “big boy” bike for about 4 months. Ryan and I bought him some bike accessories- a helmet, lock chain, some spoke things, a mirror, a bell, you know- those kind of things. Even though it was cold, he still wanted to ride it. He rode it every day for about a week. He learned to give his brothers a pump, he loved to ring his little bell, he showed it off to our family. He even hooked it up to our little wagon and gave his brothers a lift.

About 2 weeks after Christmas he had it parked on the porch like normal, not locked, and we didn’t think much of it.

That day, we ran some errands and when we got home that afternoon his brand new Christmas bike was gone. He was heartbroken.

He kept asking “Why would someone take my bike?” “Why is someone that mean?”

It was a discussion I didn’t want to have with my little guy, but he had gotten to experience first-hand that people can be mean. Not just “haha you have a booger” type mean, but in a “I’m going to steal a 5 year olds new Christmas gift” mean.

We lived in a small town of just 2500 or so, and so I decided I would give Facebook a try and just post a couple of pictures of his bike to see if anyone had seen the bike around town.

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Two days later, we pulled up to our house again and guess what my son discovered on our front porch

A. Brand. New. Bike.

santagift

Identical to his stolen bike.

The receipt was there, the bike still had some packaging on it, and there was also an amazing letter from “Santa.”

Letter from Santa

He was shocked. He was excited. He was thankful. He felt joy. He felt loved.

We then got to have a discussion with our little boy that I am so thankful for. He experienced first-hand true Christmas giving. He experienced first-hand that people can be kind. That people can be generous, caring, and loving. Anonymously.

You gave without receiving. You gave without acknowledgement. You gave without praise. You gave without a thank you. You gave.

You might have known that we couldn’t have afforded to buy another bike right then. You might not have known. You might be a wealthy person and that bike cost might have just been pocket change to you. You might be a poor person who gave even when it hurt. You may be one of our close friends. You may be someone we don’t really know that well. I don’t know. I don’t know who you are, but thank you.

I still don’t know who you are. That may be what I love most- knowing that taking credit wasn’t what was important to you. Often I wondered who you were. I tried to pay attention to our friend’s handwriting. I checked over the receipt to see if there was a name. But I absolutely love not knowing. It means so much. You have encouraged me, us, our family. At a time when Ryan and I were a little discouraged about the lack of good in some people, you restored our faith in people. You restored our faith in good. You put the desire in us to give. To give out of love. To give without receiving.

And I want to encourage anyone who reads this story- go out and be that person to another family. Keep your eyes open and you probably won’t have to look far to find a way to be a blessing to someone else. Do it because of the goodness inside of you. Not so that you can take credit or get a thank you.

I’ve recently discovered that “good” is more of a verb than an adjective. Don’t focus so much on “being” good. Focus on “doing” good. And you will be a blessing to many.

So to the person who gave my son the bike-

You gave him so much more than a bike. You gave him a true gift of Christmas. You “did” good. And I am so thankful.

PS- we didn’t let Santa take credit. We told our son that his gift came from a Christ-like person. We told him that his gift came from you.

christmas

Dear NICU Nurse: I Love That You…

Dear NICU Nurse: I Love That YouAt 19 I had never heard of NICU. I didn’t know NICU nurses existed.

Not many people know what you NICU nurses do, what goes on behind those securely locked doors. Not many people know the impact that you, a NICU nurse, and the whole NICU staff can have on a family. A family with a baby in critical condition. Needing intensive care. Your intensive care.

I had no clue that bonds would be made, love would be given, cries would be shared. I had no clue what it would feel like to leave my baby, my heart, in the hands of a stranger. I had no clue what it would feel like to watch and let that stranger take care of my baby while oftentimes I had to sit by and jealously watch from the sidelines.

But I am thankful that you were that stranger. I am thankful of the bond you made, the love you gave, the cries you had over my baby. My baby.

I want to tell you how grateful I am. This is for you, and no matter how hard I try, these words can’t express how much I truly appreciate you.

Thank you for making me feel that my baby was someone special to you.

I love that you would sometimes take pictures of my baby boy, print them, and give them to me.

I love that you would decorate his room and his bed.

I love that you made my sons first haircut into a big milestone instead of just a routine hospital procedure.

Even though I was worried about a sleeping schedule, I love that you gave my son special attention and played with him at night time if he was wide awake. I know that you rocked him and read magazines to him.

I love that you took our first family picture.

Thank you for your patience.

I love that you were patient with my lack of understanding and my desire to know more.

I love that you were willing to answer my one million questions.

I love that I could call you at 11pm, 2am, and 5am and that you would be there to tell me how my baby was.

I love that you were understanding whenever I was in just a plain flat out bad mood. That you were patient even when you knew I might be jealous of the time you got to spend with my baby.

I love that you would interpret all the doctor’s fancy medical words.

Thank you for trying to make me feel like a person, not a patient.

I love that time you invited me to eat lunch with you downstairs in the hospital cafeteria. That almost made me feel like normal.

I love that you talked to me about your family as well as mine.

I love that after 7 weeks you jokingly told me “you’re not allowed to come back until you go on a date with your husband.” I felt like I needed approval and permission to miss a visit with my baby. And I love that I could trust you to take care of my baby that time I missed.

Thank you for teaching me.

I love that you taught me, a 19 year old, how to change my first diaper.

I love that when we did bring him home, I was confident in my skills to be more than a mom because you taught me how to care for him and be his nurse.

I love that you taught me how to do breathing treatments, give medicine, hook up the apnea monitor, check vitals, and breastfeed.

Thank you for making my new weird into my new normal.

I love that you prayed for poop with me.

I love that you appreciated my breastmilk and called it liquid gold.

I love that you understood my sheer excitement over getting to brush his gums, take his temperature, and change a poopy diaper.

Thank you for your tears, and your comfort.

I love that you were real with me. That you would cry with me on our big steps back, and rejoice with me on our big steps forward.

I love that you stood with me. With your arms around me. As we watched through the window when my son’s ventilator stopped working and all his numbers headed towards 0. Thank you for holding me and breathing a sigh of relief with me as we watched his numbers climb back up.

I love that you were the nurse behind that window. Calm in the chaos as you called for respiratory to come help you get my son to breathe again.

There are so many things that I love about you, but what I love most was the way you loved my baby.

Thank you!

From a NICU mom who will forever remember the smells and sounds, the love, tears, and laughs, and the hearts full of compassion anytime I look at my son.

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”  -Winnie the Pooh

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I Miserably Failed My Summer To-Do List.

I Failed My Summer To-Do ListSummer vacation is gone. Like seriously. One week left.

I remember in May before summer even started, I wrote out my daily schedule that I was planning to have throughout summer, along with what all I would accomplish both personally and with my kids.

These were some of the things on my to-do list:

Wake up early.

Read no less than 30min a day with each child.

I was going to teach my Pre-K twins the entire alphabet and what sounds each letter makes.

We were going to memorize a weekly Bible verse.

I was going to clean my entire house and get rid of the junk in every room including our packed shop.

I was going to have a relaxing and ready for summer spa/spray tan week (thanks Groupon)

I was going to start teaching my kids Spanish.

My first grader loves math. I was going to teach him multiplication, division, and fractions.

I was going to encourage my twins to be excited about sports.

I was going to exercise and eat healthy so that I could tone and lose some weight.

I was going to be #craftingmomma.

I was going to make sure my kids had amazing manners at the end of summer.

I was going to have a tadpole science experiment and see which food would help them grow fastest. The boys were going to do some sciencing!

I was going to teach my baby some songs so that I could post cute baby singing videos on FB like everyone else does.

 

This is what actually happened:

Instead of reading to the boys, I-myself, read 8 books this summer. I get addicted.

I have taught my twins the letters “A, B, &C.”

We haven’t memorized bible verses- at home.

My house hasn’t changed a bit. I still have the same junk boxes that I had in May, which are also the same junk boxes I had last May and the May before that.

 

My Groupon spa deal was a failure. Spray tanning cost extra so I decided to bed tan. I burned horribly and apparently a bulb was out. I was thinking I would come home all cutesy. My husband told me my back looked like a sunburnt zebra.

The only Spanish my kids learned was “piscina” which means swimming pool. That is because we were at a pool for over half the summer.

The only math we have done is when my 7 year old tells me how much over/under the speed limit I’m going when we drive somewhere.

The twins have played absolutely no sports. They’ve literally spent all summer catching bugs, spiders, frogs and other creatures.

I haven’t exercised. I’ve actually gained weight.

The only crafting I did was making silly putty. I literally used 10 large bottles of glue throughout the summer.

Instead of manners, I showed the boys how funny it would be to release 30 frogs into the girls bathhouse at church camp.

Our tadpoles were eaten by a bird (or something). But they were heavily played with for several days with 8 little hands before disappearing.

Beau has yet to learn a song. I don’t have a prodigy baby. He has learned to climb on top of the bunk beds and hide from me.

 

I didn’t give my kids a great summer education, clean house, or “summer-ready” mom. I didn’t transform them into the “All-American” athlete or student. They’re still not the calm, quiet boy. They haven’t changed a bit. They’re still mud loving, outdoor playing, rambunctious, energetic little daredevils.

When I realized my lack of accomplishment, I got really down on myself and thought “Gah, what on earth have I done all summer??”

Then it hit me.

What I did give them was myself. I didn’t wake up early every day. About half the summer I slept late with them and enjoyed late morning cuddles. We didn’t read as much as I wanted, but we talked more than I thought we would. Instead of just teaching them bible verses at home, I taught at church camp and they came with me. They learned a lot there. We spent a lot of time praying and playing, singing, tickling and wrestling. My “cute, summer-ready body” actually became a tan-lined mom-bod who was at the pool almost every day, splashing in the water with no make-up on.   My house still doesn’t look like a magazine picture, but it is home. I’ve played in the mud, jumped on trampolines, pulled out splinters, held frogs and tadpoles, and have experienced a “boy-hood” summer. While it wasn’t what I had originally wanted to give my children this summer, giving them my time has been worth so much more than what I could have written down on a to-do list.

I’m now so thankful that I didn’t live up to my summer expectations.

But This is Why it’s Awesome to be a BOY MOM

Each child is a blessing. Regardless of gender, race, age, size, healthy, not healthy, c-section, adopted, whatever- each and every one is a precious gift. I am so thankful to be a boy mom, and while yesterday my post was about why I think it would be awesome to have a daughter. Today is my reality of that.

This is why it is awesome to be a boy mom.

This is why its awesome to be a boy mom

 

They love me and tell me about it multiple times a day. I have heard the words “When I grow up, I want to marry you.”

 

I absolutely adore my husband. I chose to say yes when he asked me to marry him. It completely warms my heart to know that such a great man is the role model for my little loves. They want to grow up to be exactly like him- they want to grow up to be good daddy’s.

daddys mini me

Even I can’t help but giggle at the poop jokes.

 

We can seriously get ready to go somewhere in 5 minutes, unless there is pooping involved. Then they all four decide to go, and that adds another 20 minutes.

 

On the road potty breaks are effortless. They can pee outside while still standing inside a vehicle.

 

I will get to watch them be leaders in the church. Something just tugs on my heart when I see them leading singing or saying a prayer in front of the church.

leading singing

I am far from high maintenance. I’m not sure I could handle a girly girl.

 

Hand-me-downs- I think we have only bought Beau like 3 outfits in the last 16 months, and same goes for toys, shoes, and toothbrushes. Just kidding!

sharing a bed

They easily can share a room and bed.

 

They love shark attack and lion chase YouTube videos. Me too!

 

mowing the church

They already love to help and serve others through manual labor.

 

I think that maybe their high energy will rub off on me and keep me young.

mommas helper brock

I stink at housework, and would probably not be great at teaching a daughter to be a housewife. However, the boys like to help me with the “fun” “housewife” chores. For now.

mommas helper

I get to go on dates with my boys, and be their date. Get to teach them how to be gentleman, and watch them try hard to pull the door open for me, or let me order first, or warn me if my soup is too hot.

 

I was a bit of a tom boy growing up. I loved playing in the mud, and bugs, and animals. I am not uncomfortable joining in on their boyish fun. They love hands on learning, which is my favorite!

boys

I will be their first love. I know that someday, I will not be the primary girl in their life. Their wife will deserve that title, but for now I am the girl they love.

 

I get to witness “brotherly love.” Like literally.

best friends

They are best friends, and I’m willing to bet that their closest of friends growing up will be each other.

 

Then there are those “girl things” that I will get to avoid. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

 

Sometimes I feel that the “ideal” family in the eyes of Americans is one that has 2 or 3 children with at least one boy and one girl. This is not my reality, but my reality is perfect for our family and I absolutely love it!

Why Yes, Yes I Would Love to Have a Girl

Why Yes, Yes I would love to have a Daughter

While I could write a post about a hundred things that make being a boy mom completely perfect for me, this is the answer to the question that I get almost anytime I see someone and they realize that I have 4 sweet boys.

Why Yes, Yes I Would Love to Have a Girl

And here is why:

 

Ryan has 4 minions. I would like one of my own.

 

I need someone who will say “EWW” with me when the boys pee from the tree, or make diarrhea jokes, or eat their earwax.

all boy

 

When it comes to family votes, I will always be outvoted unless moms vote counts as 6. When we go to the movies and it comes to picking between Cinderella and X-Men, I will always lose the battle!

 

Because shopping for boys clothing is almost depressing. I always catch my eyes wandering to the thousands of rows of adorable girls clothes.

 

My husband absolutely loves to make me uncomfortable by descriptively discussing with our oldest how to wear a cup. I would love nothing more than to make him feel uncomfortable by discussing bra-wearing with a daughter in front of him.

 

I either seriously need someone on my team in a fart contest, or I need someone to hang out with me in a different room during the gas battle.

superhero meeting

While I love having superhero wrestle time, sometimes I think a princess tea party break would be refreshing.

 

I would love to have someone to share clothes, shoes, and jewelry with.

 

Ryan needs a girl who can wrap him around her little pinky.

 

As much as people complain about it, I would love to go prom dress/hair/makeup/shoes shopping with a daughter. Same goes for wedding shopping.

 

I would be better at teaching a girl to shave her legs than teaching a boy how to put on a jock strap.

 

I have little fashion sense. Maybe a girl could help me out there.

mud lovin

And there are several other “real” and less joking reasons that I think having a girl would be amazing. Things like- it seems that girls are more likely to regularly talk to their moms after high school than boys are. And when my sons get married the role of “greatest female influence” will shift from me, to their wife. After a daughter gets married, their mom can still play that role. I will be giving their hearts to another woman.

HOWEVER.

I am not a girl mom.

God did not make me a girl mom.

Just like he didn’t make me a professional athlete, or brain surgeon, or model. He made me, ME.

It has taken me awhile to get over the fact. And sometimes I do feel sad when I think of what I might be missing out on, but since I’ve realized that God gave me a very special job of being a boy only mom, I can be nothing other than thankful.

why yes, yes i would love a daughter 1

He made me a boy mom and I personally think that is just great! So while I can imagine all the fun that people have with their girls, I am getting to have quadruple fun with my boys. And I can’t think of anything better than that. One day I will get my girls, and I plan on raising my boys in such a way that they will choose great ones, but more importantly, I plan to raise them so that great girls will choose them!

A Glimpse Into Brock’s NICU Stay

  • This link will take you to the video.
  • This link will take you to the first part of the story

I’m not sure why we are played the cards we are played. Not sure why some families have 10 healthy kids, while others are unable to have kids, or have kids born unhealthy. I’m not sure why I was able to bring my baby home from the hospital, while others don’t get to. I’m not going to say our experience with Brock was any harder or easier than the next. But it is ours.  An experience that belongs to Ryan, Brock, and me.  It is a part of who we are and what makes us, us.

This is Brock.

BROCK

Brock is an energetic, lively, fun loving, smart little guy.  He is a fantastic big brother and a sweet son.  Watching him, you would never know that at one time, he was fighting for his life.  Brock was born in May of 2008. He was 5 lbs 2 oz, and seemed big for a premature NICU baby.  He did get below 4 lbs his first week of life, but weight was never a battle for him.  Although he was about 6.5 weeks premature, prematurity was the least of our worries.

“Your baby has a birth defect, he will need to have surgery after he is born and will likely spend a few weeks in NICU.” These were the words we heard at our first sonogram.

NICU??  What on earth is that?  I had never heard of NICU.  I was 19.  I hardly knew anyone who even had a baby, and didn’t know any who had a baby with a birth defect.  I knew that there were probably some babies who had health problems at birth, but I had never personally known of someone who had one and talked about it.

Our doctors did their best to prepare us for a NICU baby.  Although we knew what to expect with Brock, we never really understood what it would be like.  I don’t think anyone can fully understand what it’s like to have a NICU baby unless they’ve actually had one. There are so many things to figure out for a NICU stay.  Things like paying the bills, where you will stay, what you will eat, how you will get to and from the NICU, scrubbing and wearing hospital gowns and, for me- learning to use a breast pump, learning how to change out oxygen tanks, give medicine, breathing treatments, dealing with a heart and breathing monitor.

BROCKS BIRTH

Monday, May 5th I went to an Engineering final, and then we headed towards our last sonogram with Brock.  Due to a concerning ultrasound, the doctor told us that I would be scheduled for a C-section the next day.

That wasn’t what I wanted to hear.  I wanted to give birth naturally.  I knew that more than likely if I had one C-section then I would never be able to have a baby naturally.  I almost felt as though I would be less of a mother if I missed out on natural birth.  But I had to just get over that, if a C-section would be what was best for my baby then a C-section it would be.  The doctor told us to go home, pack our bags and come back to check into the hospital to be monitored overnight.  We called our friends and family to tell them that our baby would be coming the next day and to ask for prayers to start coming.

Brock was born weighing 5 lbs. 2 oz.  I didn’t get to see him.  At all.  Ryan did- he said basically all he could see was baby Brock, and intestines. The nurses took Brock, wrapped his intestines, intubated him and wheeled him off to NICU.  Ryan was able to stay with Brock as they hooked up all the monitors, put the NG tube in (to drain his stomach), cleaned his intestines and put them in the bag to hang over him.  There was one isolation room in the NICU we were at, and Brock was in it.  I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I now feel as though having the isolation room would be a life saver for Brock later on.

After I left the recovery room, I begged to go to the NICU and meet Brock. The nurses were hesitant but they let me in.  I scrubbed up and Ryan wheeled me into the isolation room where Brock was. I don’t remember much, just seeing him, then getting hot and almost passing out. (If you have ever had a C-section then imagine going out and about 1 hour after-it was physically and emotionally overwhelming.)  I gave in to the nurses requests and went back to my room while Ryan took our family in to meet Brock.  Brock was able to breathe on his own so they took out the ventilator.

Back in my room, the nurses brought me a breast pump and I was somewhat left to figure it out on my own.  Keep in mind I am a 19 year old college girl, and I have never seen a breast pump. Nor was I a well prepared, well versed “crunchy” type momma who has studied breastfeeding and pumping. I still give Ryan a hard time because when he came back to the room and I was trying to figure it out, his “coaching” side came out and all of a sudden he became a lactation specialist. Ha!  Anyways we got it all figured out and that pump became my friend every 3 hours for the next 7 weeks.   Brock couldn’t have ANYTHING in his stomach.  He was on TPN and Lipids. The doctors told me that it would be best for Brock for him to have breastmilk once he started feedings. This meant that I had to pump. In just a few weeks, I filled up my space in the NICU freezer, the Ronald McDonald house freezer, our home freezer, and part of both mine and Ryan’s parents freezers.  I ran out of space and eventually just started flushing the milk down the toilet. Pumping was a huge personal challenge.  I hated it.  Hated knowing that my precious milk would never be used by my sweet baby.  Hated having to wake up in the middle of the night, only to look at that horrid breastpump instead of my baby.  I hated it so much that I eventually started to skip pumping sessions and developed a bad case of mastitis.  The doctors quickly encouraged me to get my act together and stick to the schedule.  Eventually I donated a large portion of the milk, and saved the rest for a few months.  It ended up just being poured down the sink.

THOSE FIRST DAYS

When Brock was 3 days old I got to do something that many parents take for granted.  I got to change his diaper. I hadn’t changed any baby diapers. Ever.  My first diaper I changed, was on a baby with tubes from his head to his toes.  I just remember being really nervous and having absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I was getting to interact with my baby and there was no way I was willing to miss out on that!

We were allowed to go see Brock every 3 hours, but in between he really needed to rest.  For almost a week we couldn’t hold him because of his intestine bag, but every day gravity was pushing his intestines back into his little body.  Also, every evening the pediatric surgeon would come in and give the bag a quick squeeze, and tie it off a little lower.  It was a gradual process- if they would have pushed all his intestines back in too soon, it would have put too much stress on his other organs.  His lungs and heart weren’t used to having to share that space.  His little body had grown without the intestines in it which means that his body had to stretch out in order to make room.

I had another one of those “pass out” moments one night. The surgeon had come to squeeze and tie.  Somehow when she squeezed, the bottom of the bag came out of Brocks abdomen, and out popped those intestines.  Yes, they literally were laying on top of his legs.  We saw them.  It was not a fun night and isn’t a good memory.  It wasn’t as much the intestine part that was hard to see. It’s the fact that a lot of times when NICU babies get upset their heart rate sky rockets and there is nothing you can do about it. My poor baby would have to just lay there screaming and in pain, and there was absolutely nothing I could do. I couldn’t hold him, couldn’t talk to him, and couldn’t touch him. Even the slightest sound or lightest touch made things even worse.

BROCK NICU

The highlight of our day would be the small things. Things that I would have otherwise taken for granted. Changing diapers, taking his temperature, changing his bedding, and any form of interaction. I was recovering, and pumping. Ryan was going back to work. Family and friends were coming to visit and provide us support. On the 5th day, Brocks intestines had gone in enough to just wrap his belly instead of hang a bag. I got to hold my baby. Best feeling ever. Best mother’s day present I could have ever asked for. The next day Brock went into surgery to have the hole repaired and we thought things would only go up from there. We had figured Brock would be in the hospital for 4-5 weeks. Brock had a few minor recovery issues like dealing with the ventilator and then c-pap, but we thought that we were right on track.

We started praying for poop. Poop meant that his intestines were working and that maybe we could start putting milk in his belly. And the faster we could feed him, the faster we could go home. Our main concerns now were getting his breathing where it should be, and we knew there still might be a little kidney concern. But other than that, he seemed to be doing great! We waited 2 weeks with no poop. So the doctors decided to try and give him some milk through a feeding tube. Lots of times you hear “step forwards, steps backwards” in regards to healing. This began a step back for us.

OUR STEP BACK

May 30- My little brother is graduating high school, 3 hours away. It was a tough decision, but I really wanted to go. I left Brock at about 4pm and Ryan and I headed to graduation. This was also the day the doctors decided to attempt a feeding tube. Brocks first feeding was that morning, and by the time we left we still had no poop, but instead had some belly swelling and fever. The doctors ordered an x-ray just to check things out and they said they would call me with results. We talked several times on the phone that night, and the results had been somewhat inconclusive and Brock had showed no change.

May 31- That morning, I called the NICU to see how Brock was and got our nurse. She seemed a bit upset, and told me that things weren’t going good. She said Brock had a rough night and an emergency surgery was becoming a likely reality. She said we should probably head on back soon and that if they decide to do the surgery, then we would be getting a call from the doctor. I started praying for my phone to just not ring. If it didn’t ring, then that meant things were ok and the doctors didn’t decide on surgery.

An hour into our drive, we got the phone call from the doctor. “Hurry back as soon as you can. We will be doing surgery soon, but we really want you to be here to sign off on it. The X-Rays are leading us to believe that Brock has a hole in his intestines.”

Cue the car flashers, and a speed of 95mph.

When we got back to the hospital, all I remember was Brock looked absolutely terrible. He was so swollen. He had a high fever. In just one day, he had gone from being awake and aware and even smiling, to just completely out. I remember seeing a family walking by taking turns in groups of 3-4. Their baby had passed that day, and the family was coming in to say goodbye. I just knew that my baby would be next. I also remember Ryan and I praying over him in his bed and then we left our baby there and went into the hallway.

I have never felt a sense of peace like I did in that moment. When we got into the hallway, we were met by about 30 people, family, church, friends had all come to support us. We had a big group prayer led by our preacher. It was amazing. I knew at that moment that I had absolutely no control over the outcome. His prayer was overwhelming, and while I was scared out of my mind at what the next few hours would hold, I could feel God’s presence.

We had an amazing pediatric surgeon and a great anesthesiologist. Right before the surgery, the anesthesiologist called us in to see if he could pray with us and the team performing the surgery. Amazing!

While his intestines didn’t end up having a hole in them, they had become kinked from the scar tissue and nothing was able to pass. However, the surgery took a little longer than expected. This was because when the surgeon got in there, he noticed one of Brocks kidneys. He really thought it should be removed, and called a urologist to come offer a second opinion. I am so glad he did, they decided not to remove it. I really think that if they would have removed it, Brock would have dealt with even more recovery complications, and might not have made it through.

RECOVERY

When Brock got back to the NICU, things were rough. We couldn’t talk to him or touch him. Any little noise would set him off and his heart rate would skyrocket, while his breathing and oxygen levels would drop. He was on a ventilator and our new game plan was for him to heal and recover from surgery, and then restart our prayers for poop.

Recovery was hard. After a few hours the doctors and nurses realized that Brock couldn’t handle being in a room with other babies. Any noise or beep, or even hushed talking was dangerous for him. They were able to move him back into the isolation room. His lungs started fillng with fluid.

SCARIEST NICU MINUTE

I nightly called to check in on Brock. One night, I called and asked how he was and they said “he has had a rough night. We had to bag him.” Well, I had no clue what “bag him” meant. I fully expected to walk in the next morning and see him in a bag. I had seen other babies who were wrapped in what looked like saran wrap, so I thought I would find Brock in something similar to that. I was so wrong. The minute I walked in his room, the nurse started screaming “RESPIRATORY!” She had just rolled him to the other side (they would have him switch sides so that his left and right lungs could alternate being filled with fluid, and being used for breathing.) When she rolled him over, both lungs filled with fluid and the ventilator stopped working. His breathing, heart rate, and oxygen levels were all approaching 0 when the nurses had me leave the room. All I could do is pray and watch from the hallway as they “bagged him.” I quickly learned that bagging him meant they had to use a bag to breath for him because the ventilator couldn’t.   The seconds felt like hours, but they got him breathing again.

THE ROAD TO HOME

We had a few other minor setbacks, mostly dealing with high blood pressure due to his kidney, and his kidney itself. At about 6.5 weeks, his PIC line failed, and they couldn’t get another one in. Before they surgically put one in, they decided to let me try to nurse him for the first time just to see if he could handle it. HE DID! Since he was able to nurse, the PIC line wasn’t needed. He did great! And the doctors ushered us out the doors when Brock was 8 weeks old. We also got to keep our chair! We lucked out that the week we were leaving was the week that the NICU was getting new recliners.

NICU FAMILY PICTURE

BROCK SINCE NICU

Brock’s kidney ended up failing, but I am told there are lots of people who live with just one kidney and don’t even know it. He also doesn’t have a belly button, but who needs a belly button anyways?? We have been told twice that he could potentially have cancer, both were from NP’s who should never have told us that. Brock came home on oxygen (for 6 months) and breathing treatments (for 8 months) along with 3 other medicines. He was hospitalized again at 15 months for 5 days, we never figured out why, but I think it was something to do with his immune system. And he has only needed one other minor surgery. We’ve been told that gastroschisis is one of the best birth defects to have because it is fixable.

The first year of Brock’s life was so hard for Ryan and I- college-aged newlyweds, but I think it made us stronger people and a stronger couple. We are so so thankful to everyone who was a blessing to us during that chapter of our lives.  Everyone was so supportive- our doctors, nurses, RMH staff, friends, family, visitors, and especially everyone praying for us and Brock.. The prayers were definitely felt. I am so thankful that God answered our prayers with a great big YES!

 

If you have a NICU story you’d like to share, I would love to post it! Feel free to email it to me!