Wounded Warrior Project + A Giveaway

19 May 2015



We are closing in on yet another Memorial Day celebration. I think its really easy to get caught up with BBQs, beach days, and just having the day off work. I live very close to an Airforce base so my community is filled with the men and women who serve our country. I also have friends who served and lost their lives and many who are still serving us now.  Aside from all the celebrating I think its really good to sit back and reflect on what Memorial Day is really about and how many soldiers have given their lives, limbs and hearts for our freedom. I think its important to find ways to give back to those who have so freely given so much to us.

I have the opportunity to spotlight a wonderful story about our own American Sniper Chris Kyle, who lost his life in 2013. His story made it the big screen and as of today the Clint Eastwood directed movie is available for purchase on DVD. Warner Brothers is doing a really great thing in the community, for each DVD that is purchased they will be donated one dollar to the Wounded Warrior Project. They will be donated for each sale whether digital or physical until the last day of the year.

The Wounded Warrior Project helps those that were injured while serving our country. They also raise the awareness of the public about the service men and women that need our aide. If you are interested in learning more about the Wounded Warrior Project be sure to check out the link above.

Along with sharing the news of this DVD release and The Wounded Warrior Project I also have  opportunity to giveaway a copy of the DVD to one of my readers and a friend. I've already given one copy to my best friends husband who is also a Sniper. If you would like a copy of the DVD comment below and on my post on Instagram telling me what your plans are for this Memorial Day.


Because....

15 May 2015


I love them because their existence seemed so impossible.

I love them because it was a journey to get them here.

I love them because they are the fulfillment of a promise and a dream made real.

I love them because they represent the best parts of my husband and I. 

I love them because they make me a better me.

I love them because they teach me patience, forgiveness, and humility.

I love them because they remind me that God hears.

I love them because innocence is attractive. 

I love them because they are both my biggest blessing and challenge.

I love them because they are here and they belong to me.

Work.

08 May 2015


All of a sudden everything about our whimsical boy meets girl romance seems hard. A single conversation, cuddle session, or movie night seems like a real impossibility. Our twosome is now a foursome, seemingly overnight. We are both still learning how to adapt to our new roles of Mommy + Daddy without abandoning our roles of Husband + Wife.

I just finished mulling over an article a fellow twin mama sent me. It talked about how parents of multiples experienced divorce, financial pain, and child abuse at a higher rate. The word DIVORCE stood out to me as I pondered how such a beautiful experience could lead to such an ugly demise. Child abuse is also horrendous but that's not on my radar.

My husband and I are never getting a divorce, but I can see how it could happen. Having twins has been the greatest experience in our lives but it's quite the challenge as it comes with both joys and stressors. Today I found myself craving alone time when my husband and I had nearly two hours to ourselves . I felt like I needed to decompress and at the same time the Holy Spirit whispered to me to hang out with him. Instead I hurried towards the door insistent on a little me time at Starbucks. We could have watched a movie, taken a walk, or just spent time chatting with one another but I put my needs first. While I understand that sometimes that might be necessary it wasn't today.

Everything just seems harder now after five months of accidentally neglecting our marriage. I was tired, I'm in pain, the babies need me, are all the ways of putting ourselves before our most precious possession, our marriage. We both know we are overdue for a date night and we've discussed the logistics of planning one but we still haven't taken the plung. Reading that article tonight makes me wonder how many of these couples unintentionally neglected their relationships, and how many actually planned and went through with date nights? I don't want to be one of those couples. We've survived and thrived through so many different things that have come our way. In just two short months we will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and I want it to be meaningful and magical. I still remember all the reasons why we got married and all the reasons why my husband and I are best friends. We just need a reconnection. One of my dear friends talked about being intentional in the relationship and that's exactly the key. The same way I am intentional about getting out of the house for myself I need to do the same for my marriage.

My husband has persued dates with me for a few weeks now. I've set things up to have the babes taken care of, so here is to hoping I can report back about having a wonderful date this weekend. Please pray it works out for us!

Motherhood

25 April 2015


It's changing me, I can feel it. I've wanted this for so long but I'm having a hard time saying goodbye to my former self. When I look in the mirror these days I hardly recognize who I've become. Who is this woman up at 3am cuddling babies without a single complaint? Who is this woman that isn't grossed out by projectile spit up or poo? Who is this woman that finds being touched delightful? Who is this woman?! I don't know her yet there is so much about her that I admire.

I'm working hard to understand this new role. I've never liked to be touched yet four tiny hands probe me all day. God knew physical touch wasn't my love language so he made me a mother. I get it, through touching unspoken words flow. Little baby hands touch me to say " I love you, Mommy" - while little baby heads lay on my shoulder to say "I need you.". It's all so overwhelming it makes my heart swell. Patience was never my strong suit yet it glows from within while holding a crying babe. Its changing me, motherhood is changing me at the core.

And I'm eternally grateful.

Nurslings

18 March 2015


As I write this its 1am and I'm deeply immersed in a baby sandwich. If you're not familiar, that's when you're in the middle with one baby to your right and the other to your left. Tonight's baby sandwich is equivalent to a PJ sandwich because both babies are asleep and getting out of bed would put me in a sticky situation. Thankfully my bladder is empty and I may get an hour or two of sleep before they wake to nurse. Being the only one to provide these babes with nourishment is a badge of honor I wear proudly. But I won't lie, it's been hard.

Our start was even harder. Chauncey didn't latch well for weeks and Oliver was in the NICU only taking bottles of expressed milk. Before my milk came in I was guilted into giving him formula which he spat up regularly. I don't regret my choice to make sure he ate but I do wish they hadn't pressured me to give him something he didn't need. We've recently discovered he has an issue with digesting soy which has left this vegan mama with worry on how to overhaul her diet sans soy. Once Oliver came home I secretly nursed him at night and gave him the bottle in the day time. I was afraid of having my family watch me try and fail. His preference for nursing became apparent as he gagged each time his Father or my Mother offered him a bottle. Finally feeling confident I told them, he wants to nurse. My little nursing champ refuses bottles and I'm not sure if that's a victory or something I'll cry about after while.

Since I had more than 1000 ounces of milk frozen in my freezer I was close to calling myself an "exclusive pumper" but my sanity was shot and I wasn't sure how long I could keep it up. With one babe jumping on the nursing wagon I decided to seek help for Chauncey's latch issues. Although it was suggested that he have his frenulum clipped my Mama Bear instinct told me he just needed more practice. So at home I asked that neither baby be given a bottle so they could become familiar with the breast. After a few weeks it was clear that Chauncey had all the practice he needed. Once he realized he was getting milk directly from the source he never looked back. He is a vigorous nurser and can empty and engorged breast without a single burp. Though he happily spits up afterward, having ate himself silly. Oliver on the other hand prefers to snack, while lying on his side cuddled with his Mommy. I have to say our time together is a favorite of mine too.

With each nursling being familiar to the breast I can confidently say we have been at this for 13 weeks and have met our first goal of three months. I would like to nurse these babes as long as they will let me but I consider each day as a victory for us. I am now feeding them on demand at least 8 times a day. I haven't pumped in a week and it feels great. Exclusively pumping was the most exhausting yet gratifying thing I have ever done. I loved watching my breast fill bottle after bottle with milk but I'm glad to have moved from spending more time with my pump to more time with my twins. I know many moms who exclusively pump with twins and they are much stronger than I. Im so grateful that this part of our journey is turning around. I love nursing and the freedom that comes with giving my babies the food made specifically for them.

Our next goal?! Three more months. The boys are getting more curious each day so I know this will be quite the adventure.

The Ugly

17 February 2015

My birth story is inherently beautiful and while I can bask in what went right there are a lot of things that didn't go so well. There are some ugly things that I wish I could move beyond. For the most part I am pleased as punch at how perfectly things turned out in spite of it all. My babies were born alive, birthed vaginally, and have survived life outside of the womb for 8 weeks as of today. They are such a blessing. However there are things about their birth that I would take back and definitely would like to help others to avoid if I could.

On the 11 day of December as I was told to head to the hospital my doctor advised me not to go to my intended hospital as he was on call. If you've kept up with the blog you know that I switched to this Doctor at 24 weeks pregnant. Since my 24th week I visited the L&D Unit about 4 times thinking I was in labor. Often times I would wake up and trek over to the hospital without calling my doctor for fear that it would be a false alarm and that he would get annoyed with me. On my second visit to L&D I got a nice stern talking to. My doctor advised that he needed to know whatever was going on with me as he didn't want me to fall into the wrong hands. Hands that were eager to csection me, hands that were eager to allow small contractions to progress into labor, or hands that had no intention on following my birth plan. He told me to call him whenever because when he became a doctor he gave up on the idea of sleep. 

Fast forward to Labor Day. He urged me to come to the hospital where he was on call and covering for two of his colleagues. While I wasn't familiar with the hospital I knew and trusted my doctor. Registration and check in went smoothly. Our problems didn't arrive until after active labor started. Some kind of way they lost the blood that was drawn from me earlier and in the midst of contractions the nurse came and said they had to draw blood. I was highly annoyed but managed to sit still for a blood draw between my horrific back labor contractions.


After the blood draw the shift changed I got a new nurse who was down right awful. She walked into my room right after I was told that my labor was stalling. I was moaning through contractions and she came in and snatched the covers off my body to ask why I was making noise since I got an epidural. My previous nurse advised her that I actually did not have one and that I was having back labor. She proceeded to tell me that my labor stalled because I didn't put any pressure on my cervix and that I needed to sit up right. Never mind the fact that my doctor told me to labor on my left side, or that I had not eaten at all that day and that I didn't have a wink of sleep. She automatically assumed the stall was from me laying down. So she took the controls of my bed and brought me to and up right position. This position ironically caused my contractions to slow and kept my cervix from progressing for another hour. The nurse had awful bedside manner and when my doctor came in to see me sitting up he told her to lay me back down. She refused and left the room. My doctor adjusted the bed himself and my mom told the doctor she didn't like the nurse and didn't want her to come back. It was a very tense time until we got another nurse. Our newest nurse was a breath of fresh air. 

Shortly after I dilated completely and it was time to push. I was wheeled to the OR and prepped for delivery. The OR had its own team of nurses so I bid goodbye to the nurses that were in my suite. These nurses were more about getting the baby out than stroking my ego. I didn't like it during the process but I am grateful they kept me focused to get my babies out and to keep us all safe. My problem with the OR staff was them losing a gauze and the taking my perfectly healthy twins from me for four long hours. I had requested that we not be separated but somehow that request was lost in translation. This four our seperation is what I truly believe lead to Oliver's stay in the NICU. Also because they lost a gauze they immediately requested that I be xrayed to look for it. My doctor was so upset and refused to have me xrayed. Hospital policy said I had to have an xray or pelvic exam. He talked to me and we opted for the pelvic exam. Everything in me wanted to kick those nurses in the face, if you ever want to know what it's like to have a pap after giving birth to twins feel free to ask me.



After being away from me for four hours they brought Oliver back saying he hadn't eaten and I need to feed him right away. His mouth was tiny and he was tired so getting him to latch was very hard. They said his sugars were so low that he would need an IV with sugar to bring it back up. So I immediately began pumping my breast to feed him during our separation. It was honestly hard for me to enjoy time with Chauncey as my mind was constantly worried about Oliver. After pumping for the first time and not being able to get Chauncey to latch I was seen by a lactation consultant. She immediately asked if my breast were real and then proceeded to say my nipples were too big for the baby's mouth. She told me he needed to eat and I would need to supplement until his mouth grew. I gave her the crazy eyes and she left my room having provided zero help. I stayed up watching YouTube videos of various baby's latching so I could continue practicing with him. When I did get him to latch he was then too tired to eat, it was hard. I started to believe that I would be an exclusivity pumping mama and that idea was hard. 

On Oliver's second day I was praised for the milk I was bringing to him by the first shift in the nursery. When I finally got up to visit him he looked sad and lonely. I cried the hardest I ever have in my life. I felt so helpless and he looked so miserable. Later that day we were told that he was having some trouble breathing. I told the nurse I wanted to hold him and she said that he needed to stay in his bed to be soothed and avoid stress. I immediately quipped so you don't think laying on my chest will sooth him?! She was speechless as I told her to get the doctor because I wanted to hold my baby. I'm sure at this point I was perched over Oliver's bed growling at everyone who passed by my wounded cub! Sure enough the doctor returned and had Oliver placed in my arms. She told me he was hungry and he immediately rooted around my chest and he latched perfectly for the very first time. At some point during the night Oliver wasn't doing so well so he had his tummy pumped and fluids removed this sent him to the NICU. I wasn't there with him but my mom and husband were. I cried in my room holding Chauncey. They brought me pictures and he looked so sad with his tube down his throat and IV on hand. What happened to my healthy baby from the OR? The one that received a 9 and then a 10 on his APGAR?! 



The night that Oliver got his feeding tube Chauncey and I were discharged. It was a bittersweet moment, awful yet beautiful. The very next day when coming to bring him milk I passed by other mom who I chatted with by the NICU hand washing station. She introduced me to her mom as the mother to the baby that was under the blue light. Whoa?! Blue light?! Who has a baby under the blue light? Not me! So I rushed in sure enough to find that Oliver was now in his isolette under a light. I was never called or informed that jaundice had set in. I had actually been told they would take his feeding tube out that day and that he would possibly be going home if his breathing wasn't erratic. Instead he was now being held in NICU for jaundice and they were no longer sure when he would come home. I also observed him crying in his isolette that day, he was screaming at the top of his lungs but the sound was muffled. A nurse ran over staying she was about to feed him. My instincts told me he'd been ignored and had cried for a while. Afterwards i started to show to the NICU at random times to keep things interesting and to make sure my baby wasn't being neglected.


  

After 6 days of traveling back and forth to the hospital Oliver was ready to come home. I had never been so tired until I had two newborns under my roof but it was worth it to know he was safely in my care.

I continue to focus on the good things that happened on their birthday but I wish I had been able to speak up more during delivery. If you are expecting make sure you have someone to advocate for you about having your baby not transition without you. When I was busy delivering Oliver my husband and mom were trying to support me through it and it left a window of opportunity for the staff. Assign someone to baby duty. Tell them what shots you do or don't want baby to have, and where you do or don't want baby to go. Also don't be afraid to ask for a new nurse if you two don't mesh well. Liking your nurse is very important during labor. Last familiarize yourself with all the local hospitals just incase. I would also advise that your register with them, in the case of an emergency you don't want people handing you papers to fill out. It's super annoying. And do your research on hospital lactation teams. If the hospital doesn't have one that seems well establish you may want to bring in outside help. These are a few things I wish I had known before giving birth.

38 Weeks: Illegal Orange Wedges and Babies

12 January 2015


At 38 weeks 2 days, I woke up again after a night of "this is it" contractions to find myself still pregnant. I began to give up the hope that these babies would arrive on their own. Flashback to my 7 month of pregnancy and I was sure they were coming out any day. I didn't think I would survive the modified bedrest that my doctor ordered. My cervix was thin, I had been losing and no doubt re growing my mucus plug for weeks and I was contracting all the time but it was12 days before my due date and I was still pregnant.

My mood on December 11th was horrible. I had been seeing my doctors three times a week. I had several NSTs and Bio Physical Profiles which are ultrasounds. In addition a few pelvic exams to check my progress. All of which gave no indication on how soon the babies would get here. So as I dragged myself out of bed for yet another trip to the perinatologist. I didn't even bother with getting my bag or preparing for the chance that I could be delivering this day. 

When I got to the office my doctor and her staff all gasped! "Omgosh you're still pregnant?!" I looked at them exhausted and annoyed at the question. Pregnancy though a marvelous experience has a way of getting tiring at the end. My good friend and I speculated that the discomfort that comes along with the third trimester is a way to make you excited to meet your babies. Excited was an understatement, I was down right athirst for the face to face meeting with my babies. 

While waiting to be seen I stood in the crowded waiting room. A man offered me his seat and I declined several times. He looked at me strangely. I finally explained that I had tried everything to bring on labor now I was hoping gravity would help. Everyone in the waiting room laughed.

When I was called back the doctor hooked me up for the NST to monitor the hearts of the babies, contractions, and my bp. After a few minutes of monitoring she noticed rythmic contraction. They were about 6-7 minutes apart. When she reviewed my activity for 30 minutes she made a call to my OB saying she believed I was in labor. He told her to send me to the hospital because he was worried about me laboring at home in case things went fast. I looked at my husband in sheer amazement...was today really baby day?! The Perinatologist printed out my report from monitoring and sent it along with me to the hospital. I had no bag and no cellphone so of course this was it- what a day I tell you! There were no fireworks, no bells and whistles, and no waters breaking. It was less exciting then I had expected - but off to the hospital we went.


My sweet hubby took me to hospital and stayed with me until I got checked in. I was in a room hooked to monitors and an IV before it all started to feel real. My contractions were consistent but could be ignored if I focused on something else. I tried to stay distracted but that was hard to do without a cellphone. So I used the hospital phone to call my mom and tell her the good news. I asked if she was wearing her grandma clothes to which she replied huh?! She didn't get it so I broke it down to let her know it was baby day. My husband went home to pack my cellphone, last minute toiletries and a large Tupperware filled with cold orange slices. When he returned he also had my mom in tow. My birthing team was present and accounted for so it was time to have some babies.

After a few hours of laboring my doctor came in to check my progress and to see how I was feeling. I felt great and though I was contracting it hadn't gotten horrible yet. During my pelvic exam the doctor discovered I was at a 5. He said he wouldn't check anymore until my contractions got closer together. Cervical checks are the worst thing I've ever experience especially when you're contracting. I managed my pain with focused breathing and thoughts. I recited scriptures and said to myself open mouth open cervix. Nurses continued to offer medicine to me and asked about my pain level. I politely asked them to stop referring to it as pain and instead to call it discomfort. They looked at me like I was a mad woman and stopped offering the epidural. 

Hours later I was checked again and got to 7-8 centimeters. I was relieved to know I had progressed and felt proud to be nearing transition while still managing to be some what in control. I survived the first 8 centimeters of labor on prayer and orange slices. That's right I was tired of the stupid ice chips and I was prepared with the orange slices to have my illegal snack. I don't recommend that anyone break the rules for labor at their hospital but I need stamina and the ice chips werent providing the energy for that. As I neared transition along with feeling extremely tired I began to experience relentless back labor. 
I felt like someone was breaking me in half.  I had always read that the transition stage of labor went fast. But then my labor stalled and I was at the 7-8 for 2-3 hours. My contractions tapered off and my doctor wanted to add in the pitocin to see if we could really get things going again. He gave me pit and I was up to a 24 before things were really ugly. At this point I was begging for an epidural, the Epi was a fail because contractions came every few seconds and I couldn't sit still for the anesthesiologist, he couldn't even numb me which he tried to do three times. I was in so much pain that I was mean to everyone. I had the most amazing nurse Sylvia who catered to my every need and tried to rub my head and arms. My lowest score for the five love languages test is physical touch. So it was no surprise to me that I got annoyed when people would rub me while I was experiencing contractions. 


As labor progressed I was so thirsty and they began monitoring my ice intake because I was asking so frequently. I determined that the shortage of ice and the ban on water meant it was time to whip out the orange slices. I told my husband to quickly bring me a few wedges and I downed them as my last saving grace to energy I needed to birth these babies. My doctor arrived again and checked me and I was at an 8. He told me he could break my water and see if that would bang out enough contractions to get me to 10. I was so delirious from the pain I neither agree nor disagreed. I was in so much pain I was begging for a csection. I asked my husband and my Mom to tell the doctor. I asked the doctor and he came over to talk to me but my mom took him to the side. After that he avoided me for the rest of the night. My doctor was so attentive compared to most doctors, he never left my side. Whenever I thought he was gone he was only outside the door monitoring my contractions or a few feet away from me in my room reviewing the monitors there. The pain seem to increase steadily and I began to give up with each contraction. Every time I felt a contraction I cried to my mom for a csection. She told me that I could do it and reminded me that I didn't want the csection but honestly I wasn't listening. The pain was so unbearable. Two hours later the doctor finally came back it was about 9:40am he said I was complete. I was then wheeled from the comfort of my labor and delivery room to the OR to prep for delivery.

They put me on the tiniest bed that my pregnant body could could fit on. I was super uncomfortable and my back labor was even worst laying flat. There were about 20 people in the room without my mom and husband who they made change into sterile suits while they prepped. They didn't let them come in until they had me all hooked up. When they did come in I could barely recognize them in the scrubs. The only person whose face I could see entirely was the doctor's.  I labored there for a while waiting for some good strong pushing contractions. Within minutes I felt the urge to push, so we started the pushing. I felt like the quarter back who just caught the ball in the last five minutes of the game. Everyone was shouting my name and telling me to go as I pushed with all my might. They would count and tell me to give it another push and I would stop saying I couldn't. The labor wore me out and I really just wanted to sleep but everyone kept telling me how close the baby was. As I tried to push Chauncey out Oliver went higher in my ribs causing me pain and making it difficult to breath. Finally after 20 minutes of pushing and perineal massage I reached down and could feel him crowning. The burning sensation was something no one had told me about but my body naturally pushed passed the pain to find some relief. Two minutes later Chauncey was born. I asked what is it and the doctor held him up. As if they planned it everyone shouted boy! I'll never forget that moment. They placed him on my chest and I cried. His big almond shaped dark brown eyes pierced my soul. It was love at first sight. He cried a little and looked at me - it was incredible. 

It wasn't long before they took him to check him out and gently reminded me that I had another baby to get out. For a moment I felt relieved and forgot this wasn't over. My doctor had them check the second baby's position via ultrasound. The scan revealed the second baby was head down and on the left side of my belly.

Shortly after my cervix was checked and my doctor discovered that within minutes it had closed to a seven and the baby was still really high up. I began to worry about a double whammy, in the birthing world that's where a multiples mama has a csection after a vaginal birth. After seeing the panic on my face the doctor assured me it was normal and that we had time to wait since the baby's water hadn't been broken. Since my labor had been augmented as little as possible we were able to let some things progress on their own without worry of time constraints. So we waited and I was given more pitocin to help bring on more contractions. According to their birth times it took an hour plus before I was ready to push again. For me it seemed like more than two hours. My back, legs and ribs were hurting me - I was feeling extreme discomfort because I couldn't turn to my side to labor. Finally I was checked and was told I was complete again - thank God for 10 centimeters. I pushed as hard as I could with each contraction and rested when it was too much to handle. The staff and doctor counted down with me and I noticed that they wanted me to push longer because they were counting slower and slower. I yelled to them I needed a break and refused to push at every contraction. The pain was great but I knew this was the end. I mustered up strength and gave it my all, with my last push Oliver's water broke and splashed all over the doctor and he came shooting out immediately after. My relief was real this time I cried as they put him on my chest. I was relieved to know that the worst of the labor was over and my two beautiful babies had made it out safely, and vaginally as I prayed.

Oliver's cry lit up the room. I held him close to my chest as the nurses tried to peel him away. I wanted to savor that moment and they let me have it. It was revealed that I had another son. My heart used to ache for a daughter when I was pregnant but in all of this I was reminded of when I ached for any child. When did I become so choosy? In that moment as I thought of my two sons I knew God has given my husband and I exactly what we needed. As I looked at their faces I couldn't even picture a little girl. I was now a mother to two boys. Two precious little guys that were all mine.


As I laid on the table to deliver the placenta happiness flooded my body. I could not believe that I had two sons. December 12th was a beautiful morning and I was so glad the babies decided to join us when they did. We experienced a difficult few days afterward and I will share more about that in another post but even that couldn't overshadow the joy of their births.  I am also so grateful for my husband and mother who both encouraged me to follow the plans God had for this delivery. When I felt like I was ready to throw in the towel they helped me to push pass the hardest moments of my labor, which were no doubt the hardest moment of my life. I prayed for a full term pregnancy, a vaginal delivery, healthy babies and the Lord honored my request. 

Thank you all for checking in on me and for supporting and praying for us through this time. We are sure your prayers got us through. Please continue to check back in on us as I plan to blog more when the babes and I get settled into a routine. Until then keep up with us on Instagram by following @nerdandbabes.



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