Twin Birth Story

My husband and I got married in June 2010, he had 2 boys from a previous marriage but we knew we wanted to have a child together as well. I had always wanted a big family and was elated to find out we would welcome a sweet baby girl to our family in August 2012. Emmalyn was a wonderful baby – she barely cried and really made parenting pretty easy. I struggled through the first few weeks and in hindsight know that I likely was suffering from a bout of postpartum depression. When Emma was 2, Mike and I decided we were ready to add another child to the mix, one we agreed would be our last.

 

I got pregnant within a few months of trying and I remember joking with my mom and husband before our first ultrasound that I thought I was having twins. I had gained nearly 10lbs of solid fluid in my hands within a week of the positive pregnancy test and could barely get my wedding rings off. To be clear, I did not REALLY expect to be having twins. When we went to our ultrasound the doctor, who had delivered my first child several years before, looked at us with wide eyes and congratulated us on the two tiny heartbeats that she was seeing. I was shocked and kept saying “really!?” while my husband was silent for a good minute before he began to laugh. We were thrilled and scared and every emotion in between.

 

The majority of the pregnancy was easy. I never suffered from morning sickness, food aversions and at 30 weeks pregnant I had only put on about 20lbs. At 32 weeks I decided to stop working. I was having a lot of swelling in my legs and my blood pressure was slowly rising, which caused me to start having dizzy spells on a daily basis. I spent the next 3 weeks at home with thoughts of getting my house organized and finishing last minute projects before the babies came. That was a joke! I quickly became miserable – putting on over 25 extra pounds of fluid. I had pitting edema in my extremities and could no longer fit into any shoes except my fuzzy bunny slippers – it was a good thing I had little desire to leave my house!

 

On February 11th I was having contractions all day – some of them hurt, some of them didn’t but they were not in any way consistent and I was sure they were Braxton hicks. I spent the day in my pajamas but with some coaxing of my aunt I went with her to get a milkshake and a pedicure. That night around 9:45pm I was on the couch watching an episode of “New Girl” with Mike when I heard and felt a loud POP! I stood up and felt something dripping but it was not the huge gush I was expecting so I went to the bathroom and walked around the house trying to see if the leaking would continue…maybe one of the babies kicked me really hard and that’s what I heard – maybe I am not leaking amniotic fluid?! However, within a few minutes contractions came hard and fast and I knew without a doubt we needed to get to the hospital. I could hardly stand up and definitely could not talk through them.

 

We got to the hospital at 10:30pm and I was taken back to a room. The nurses were doing their best to get me hooked up to monitors quickly and once they did they realized my contractions really were back to back. I was checked and was already at 9cm dilated. I begged for an epidural or pain medication but was told it was too late. Throughout the pregnancy, Coraleigh had been breech and sure enough she still was. I was being wheeled to the OR for a Csection and kept being told not to push – easier said than done! It all happened so quickly.. within minutes I had a spinal block and the pain finally began to ease. Minutes later, Arabelle and Coraleigh were born at 11:33 and 11:34pm. At 35 weeks they were each 5lbs 5oz, breathing on their own and perfectly healthy. Neither girl needed any NICU time and within 3 days we were home.

 ArabelleCora (Arabelle in first picture, Cora in second)

Life with twins (and a toddler) has been hectic and disorganized and wonderful. We had a ton of help from family getting through the first few weeks of having the girls home. I noticed that each night once the sun had gone down and everyone had gone home I would cry..a lot. I talked to my doctor and was put on Zoloft to help with the depression. The first time around with Emmalyn I suffered in silence, but I knew that I could not be effective for my kids if I was having such a hard time. I felt so blessed to have been given all my little girls but I still struggled. 2 weeks later all felt right with the world. I enjoyed every second I got to spend with my girls – with company or alone. We have gotten into a routine and the chaos has slowly subsided. Emmalyn is a fantastic big sister to “her” babies and I couldn’t imagine life without any of them!

Girls

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Does pregnancy = lazy?

So, don’t get me wrong..when I was pregnant with Emma I worked straight up until the day I delivered. In fact, I was working full-time and a weekend part-time job. I picked up a client on Saturday, took her out and then drove myself to the hospital. Now nearly 3 years later I am amazed at how little I actually get done. I had found an article a while back that was written by a man and for men talking about what happens when women go through pregnancy… and although it was definitely meant to be funny, it held a lot of truth (at least for me this time around!). The article talked about how the progression of pregnancy basically goes like this: the beginning – “Oh look, I finished my cereal so I am going to wash it out, clean the dish and put it away”. The middle – “Oh look, I finished my cereal so I will rinse it out and set it in the sink”. Finally, the end of pregnancy: “Oh look, I finished my cereal… I’m going to leave the bowl with the rest of the milk super close to the sink..but I’m not going to bother rinsing it out or even putting it in the sink for that matter. Nope.. it’s good where it is”. Is it just me this rings true for?!? I was looking around my house and realized that I have clothes next to the laundry basket but not actually in the laundry basket, and shoes everywhere but where shoes should go, the list could go on.

Tomorrow, at 32.5 weeks I am going to finally stop working. I have high hopes that I will use at least some of the time that I would normally be at work to get some things done around the house. I also have high hopes of lots of naps, Netflix and snacks 🙂 When these 2 little girls enter the world I want to bring them home to a clean house and a rested mommy… because those 2 things are surely going to be hard to come by for a while!

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2015 already?

I can’t believe that it has been so long since I’ve last written. I knew it had been a while but was completely shocked when I realized that it had literally been since April. My first 2014 post was written about my resolutions so let me explain a little about what goals I went for, what goals didn’t quite make it and then let you know why I’ve been MIA.

After lots of long nights, some crying and stressing along the way – I did graduate with my masters! It felt incredible to be done and I am really excited for the commencement ceremony (which I have to wait until May to walk in!). I worked a little bit towards getting some freelance jobs and although I ended up getting turned down, I’m really proud that I even ventured out and tried. This is definitely something I want to keep working on and eventually putting more of my focus on.

Now, everything else didn’t seem to go as planned because …surprise! I am pregnant…. with twins!

pregnancy

This is me at 26 weeks…. I am 31 weeks now and have gotten even bigger. Pregnancy this time around has been really hard. I won’t sugar coat. Everything hurts all the time. I have managed to continue working full-time but the housework and the desire to start cooking more has really been put on the back burner. I am not sure what I would do without my sweet hubby taking care of our 2 year old…because she is SO active and I have a tough time keeping up with her. I am soaking in all of the snuggle time we get and have figured out a few ways to still participate in the actual taking care of her part (think.. ottoman by the tub life hacks). So, for anyone wanting to know… we are having 2 more girls! Emmalyn can’t wait to be a big sister and we are thrilled to be adding 2 new additions to the family so soon. There is a ton of work to do to get ready for them but things are coming along.

I have a feeling blogging may help keep my sanity when I am running around after a toddler and caring for 2 infants all day… so stay tuned for the (what I am sure will be crazy, fun and interesting) stories!

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Forgiving your past

scripture

A lot of my life I have sought fulfillment and happiness in all of the wrong places. Even growing up in church was not enough to stop me from making horrible choices that have ultimately led to horrible consequences time and time again. I never questioned God but I spent a long time hiding from him. I didn’t understand his plans for my life and honestly, I didn’t want to. I was having a good time following my own set of rules. I don’t need to go into detail about how low I have been or how weak I was, but it is heartbreaking.

I have struggled a lot lately with the sins of my past. It seems that whenever I take a step closer to my Savior that the satan is right there behind me trying to trip me up. The devil has that way about him, you know? He keeps showing me all of the things that I used to be and all of the mistakes that I have made in my life, and keeps whispering that I am nothing more than those mistakes. He tells me I am destined to repeat my history and sometimes, I almost believe him. Sometimes these words come in the form of memories and self-doubt; sometimes they come from rumors and the words of other people, but no matter where they come from: they are sly and sound like truth.

I think that it is important to remember that temptations and sin are not presented to us in big ways – that would be too easy. We would all know better than to give in if they were. Satan uses the little things to sway us until eventually the big things no longer feel like big things. For me, it starts as anger and depression. So many of the lowest points in my life were a direct result of the actions I took while I was angry or sad. I revel in those feelings for too long, and then the devil tells me I should say something or do something because it’s not fair if I have to live in this misery by myself. I have to consciously choose not to participate in certain conversations and there are some people I have learned I just can’t be around anymore. Do I still have days where I lay down at the end of the night and wish that I had reacted to things differently or not said this or that? Absolutely… I fail, horribly, each and every day.

It’s not even remotely possible to redeem myself from my flaws, mistakes and past… but I don’t have to, because I have a Redeemer. When the devil whispers I can’t, God whispers I can. When the devil says that I am not worthy, God says that because of Jesus, I am worthy. When the devil tempts me, God fills me with his presence so that I have the ability to fight him off. At 28 years old, I am only now beginning to realize and accept all of God’s promises to me. He wants the best for me, because he loves me!

I did not know what true love was until I held my daughter in my arms for the first time. I would do anything for her, protect her, love her, value her. That love that I feel for her is nothing compared to the love God feels for me; and for all of us. I don’t understand it; I can’t explain it and I don’t deserve it. I don’t have to walk around ashamed of who I am because Jesus has washed my sins away and made me clean. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect, he just expects me to seek him in every situation. I have learned so much about myself and my God in the last year – and more specifically in the last month. I am nowhere near where I want to be – but God has carried me far away from where I was.

Despite me, my past transgressions and my current flaws and fears, God has handpicked me for a purpose. He has written the story of my life in detail and he can make something beautiful out of every situation. If you are reading this, know that you aren’t reading this because you saw a link and clicked it. Know that God wanted you to see this. He is transforming every aspect of me (and believe me, it has been a slow process) and wants to do the same to you. Whatever you are holding onto, let it go. God has already forgiven you.

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Keep on Keepin’ On

You ever have those moments in life where you seriously wonder how you let your life get that way? Not to be overly dramatic, maybe it’s just being stuck in a job you dislike, a bad relationship, or negativity that has brought you down. I work in the mental health field and every day it is my job to encourage, support, counsel and provide resources to my clients to help make their lives better. It’s so unbelievably easy to get trapped in the problems of others and forget to take care of ME. I originally started this blog as a way to remind myself that I needed to support my own dreams, but it’s amazing how quickly I can forget about myself. Maybe that is part of being a woman, mother or even just a human being. All I know, is I have realized more than ever how hard it is to take care of other people when I’m not caring for myself. I have had a really tough few weeks and found myself in this really sad and heart broken place. I felt out of control, depressed and had no motivation to clean my house, do my homework and I was barely functioning…. and knew I had to change something.

Today I found myself purging people on Facebook and Pinterest. I started re-evaluating the type of people I am letting into my private life. I have learned a tough lesson lately that sometimes people are not what we thought. At the end of the day, I am learning that is okay. People are people and we all make mistakes. So, today I conciously made the decision that I will surround myself with people who make me happy. I will find a reason to laugh each day. I will talk more about the positive things that are hapening in my life than the negative. I did this and was shocked at how many wonderful people I saw around me.. how encouraging they are and how I was uplifted by so many kind words. I don’t think today was anything out of the ordinary, but changing my perspective has helped me see what I was missing. Tomorrow, I know I will have to wake up and decide that it will be a good day, and the day after that I will do the same. I am sure there will be some days when I fail miserably, but that is the beauty of life. If God blesses me with the opportunity to open my eyes tomorrow morning – I get a second a chance. I needed this recent storm in order to appreciate the people, things and experiences I have. I have never loved my husband more, I have never been as excited to get on the floor and play with my daughter, and I have never felt as much love for myself or my God who continues to show me his completely undeserved mercy.

Keep on looking at the silver lining… it’s all worth it in the end.

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Homemade banana chips

The weather man is calling for 19 inches of snow on Wednesday – Wait, what!? While I am not a fan of being stuck, I am looking forward to seeing my little chunkin in her full-on snow suit! The last big snow we had in 2009 was when my husband (my “kind-of” boyfriend at the time) and I got stuck on the interestate for 8 hours with nothing but a yorkie and a pot of cold macaroni and cheese with hot dogs cut up in it…. I know…we have come a long way since the boxed mac & dogs dinner (although that I would be lying if I didn’t say it is still one of my favorite meals when I’m needing some comfort!) Speaking of food…. I give you… Banana chips!

banana chipsI originally found the recipe on Pinterest and they are SO good. Emma eats them up! I would recommend using a LOT of bananas… I used 3 and once they shriveled up into nothingness while in the oven it barely left a third of a sandwich bag full.

Take your bananas and cut them up into tiny pieces. Dip them into lemon juice (or let them swim and hang out for a while like I did) and then put onto a baking sheet. I used regular non-stick foil but it actually stuck…so I also would suggest using an additional non-stick spray. Bake the bananas for 2 hours on 200 degrees, flip them and bake for another 2 hours. The first day they are not crispy like potato chips but 3 days in and they are super crunchy and delicious! The best part about them is that I don’t mind Emma snacking away on them because they are not bad for her, and only consist of 2 ingredients! That is my kind of cooking!

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Fun with Mod Podge

The last few days have been a blur. The baby has had a pretty nasty sinus infection, work has been crazy and I have had little to no energy for anything but the bare minimum! I sent Emma to school in 2 different pairs of socks today because I haven’t done laundry in so long (I wish I could say the 2 different socks thing is abnormal… but around here it is more unusual to have clean, matching socks!). Maybe I should add “laundry” to my New Years Resolution list? My husband would like that… considering he went to church in one blue sock and one red sock on Sunday because I had taken all of his when my clean ones ran out last week. Oops 🙂

On an unrelated note, I have been trying to slowly organize and decorate a little each day. We have lived in our house for over a year and I still had yet to put up any pictures on the wall. Around Christmas time I had found a pin on Pinterest about using mod podge and printing pictures to canvas so I decided to give it a try. And the result is as follows:

Emma1

The image is a little blurry from the overhead light – but really, how stinking cute is my kid? And in all reality the wall looks like this….

Emma2

The process was super simple. I bought a 16×20 canvas from AC Moore and then had my picture printed on regular glossy paper from Walgreens. I put down a super thick layer of mod podge (but not too much… I found that when I put too much down initially it somehow made my canvas look a little too….. “rough”). Then I put the picture down and centered it as best I could and added an additional layer of mod podge. I let the picture dry overnight and did a second coat in the morning. It really made the print look like it had been printed on the canvas and it was SO much cheaper that actually buying it that way! There was a little white around the edges that needed trimmed… and I flipped the board picture down and used a pocket knife to trim it up. I have a few more of these I would like to try, using vinyl letters and paints as well to mix pictures and quotes – I will post the results of those as well.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

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Delicious Crockpot Roast & potatoes

roast

This week I have not done very well with eliminating processed foods; last night we had boxed mac & cheese and a host of other not so good things for us. Tonight’s dinner however, was my redemption! I have never made a roast and vegetables but I am learning to love my crockpot and thought I would give it a try!

Ingredients:

2.4lbs roast

2tsp onion powder

1tsp garlic powder

1.5tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 cups beef broth

Salt & pepper to taste

Half bag of baby carrots

6 medium sized red potatoes

Directions: Put the roast into the crockpot and add the 2 cups of beef broth, garlic powder, onion powder, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook on low overnight (the longer, the more tender the roast will turn out). In the morning, add the carrots and potatoes and cook on high for 2 additional hours. Voila!

I ended up putting mine back on low for several hours, but that was just because I wanted it soft enough that itwould just fall to pieces in my mouth! Even my 18 month old who really refuses to eat anything remotely good for her seemed to enjoy it! First attempt at roast: SUCCESS!

Try it out and let me know what you think 🙂

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Erin Condren Life PLanner – Review

I was thrilled when I came home from work today and found my 2014 Erin Condren life planner had been delivered! Since January is mostly over, I feel like I have missed out a little bit – but I did wait longer to order it this year than I normally would have.

ImageThere are some really great aspects of this planner in comparison to others. You get to choose your cover; anywhere from quotes to individual pictures of you and your family. This year I opted for something a little less flashy than I did last year and I love it!

Image

The planner has A LOT in it and plenty of ways to get organized – from a full monthly view to individual days sectioned into morning, afternoon and evening boxes.  Quotes are spread around throughout the planner and it really does have so much character. If you are anything like me, you will appreciate the pretty layout and look forward to opening it up and writing in it each day.

Life planner 3

There is even a folder in the back to store loose papers, a ruler, and lots of stickers with already printed words on them such as “birthday” and “shopping” but also blank stickers so you can write your own stuff on them. To make things better – this year my planner came with a cute little pocket book and a sample of “island fleur” body butter (which I can’t wait to open up!).

Having something so great, that literally does exactly what it says it does (plan your life) is a necessity around here. There are a few pitfalls, though. I ordered my planner on January 2nd and didn’t get it until January 28th. Not a terrible time frame for something so personalized but you have to order at least a month in advance. Waiting until the first of the year like I did means you don’t get to utilize the first full month of the planner, which is a waste of money and trees (it would be nice to opt out of the pages I knew I would have no use for). Lastly, it is rather pricey. The planner itself is $50.00 plus shipping – again, worth it but I’m sure if I looked around I could find something a little cheaper that does the same thing.

Overrall, I LOVE my Erin Condren Life Planner! I think the time frame it takes to make the planner shows not only how popular these planners are becoming, but also how much emphasis the company makes on making a quality product. In the past, people who have bought the planners have asked for laminated tabs and some other little changes to improve the quality and the company has listened. I would absolutely recommend this planner to anyone wanting to get organized AND do it in style!

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Cooking for dummies

Last night I tried to make homemade bbq sauce – can I just tell you, it was a disaster! I found a recipe on a website where I generally like everything I have tried, but I was skeptical of this recipe from the beginning. It called for an awful lot of red wine vinegar, and I really can’t stand the stuff (or the smell). I decided to give it a try…. The end result was a lot of time and bbq sauce down the drain! It seemed too sweet so I tried to add a bit more chili powder, pepper and a few other things to spice it up and then the worst thing that could possibly happen, happened. I dropped the whole thing of pepper in my sauce…. and then I had a sneezing attack!! How does that even happen??

bbq

We ended up mixing some pre-made bbq sauce into the pork that we already had in our fridge – courtesy of “Stubbs”; definitely not made in the Vanderpool household! I will continue my quest for the perfect bbq sauce that is healthy, low in sodium and still delicious. Any of you have a good recipe??

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