Happy First Year to My Twinsies


I’m exhausted.  I am sitting here surrounded by birthday presents, picking pieces of Gigglebellies carrot cake out of my hair, feet aching from an afternoon of running around, stomach rumbling because I forgot to eat and two 1 year olds safely tucked away in their cribs.  All in all, the first year birthday party was a complete success.  The guests enjoyed themselves and we survived.  The day wasn’t without its hiccups, but much like this first year, it has ended beautifully.

I honestly think part of my exhaustion this day is the emotional roller coaster I’ve been on these past several weeks remembering the journey that began one year and nine months ago.  It was then we learned our surrogate, Jess, was pregnant with our twins.   The absolute profoundness of our experiences, since we found out, makes me heady; weepy and excited, melancholy and cheerful – but totally intoxicated in awe and wonder!

How can I even begin to explain the enormous joy we felt when we saw our two embryos had turned into thriving microscopic beings?  Imagine something you have yearned for, an ache that was laid upon your heart for years, never knowing if you would ever be free from it, and then learning that – wow – it could very well happen!  Your familiar ache could be banished – to be replaced with the fullness of motherhood!

But our happiness wasn’t without fear – any what-ifs that google could throw at you ended up plaguing our minds.  It was all too easy to envision our dreams being whisked away by some tragedy – we would be helpless to stop it.  Knowing that bad things happen all the time, why wouldn’t it happen to us?

And the waiting, oh – the waiting, was almost as bad as the fear; it left me with prickles of anxiety at times.  The endless waiting was tempered only by brief ultrasound glimpses into the water world our babies called “home.”  I’d stare at their faces in the ultrasound photos for hours.  Mundane to some, perhaps, but the only thing this future mom had to hold onto and dream about.

Later, in the third trimester we learned what it meant to be “dilated” and “effaced,” or what it was like to get a stress test, hanging on to any symptom that might mean contractions were starting, just to be sent home by the doctors… it wasn’t time yet.

Then at 37 weeks and 4 days we got that call – Jess’ water had broken, NOW is the time!  We were so close then… so close.  I’ve experienced nothing like it in my life – those feelings were frankly indescribable.

After several hours, we donned our scrubs and moved to the operating room where all twins at this hospital are born.  Jess asked me to be her labor coach.  I didn’t want to disappoint her but I was afraid I wouldn’t know what to do – so I just did the best I could and I think she appreciated that.  And, I was so grateful to be in that room with her because, in truth, she didn’t have to pick me as the intended mother!  She had several choices, but she chose me!

Then, we pushed…, counted the nurse, we rested then we pushed again. Rested then pushed again.  And then he was out!  I cut the cord and they rushed him to an incubator.  My husband went to him immediately – his son, his first born, his namesake – his only son.  I hurried back to Jess and we started again – this time the baby was breach.  But they pulled her out by her feet and she was born.

Deanna's baby in hospital

And, just like that our new life began – where we were once two, we had immediately become four. Our little family, our very own microcosm of everything right in the world.

Onward in our journey to the first year!

Now, I look back over this past year and just can’t believe it really went by that fast.  It’s cliché I know.  But, while I was in it, and experiencing it, it went by slow; those first several months felt like forever.

Then, one day, seemingly out of nowhere, Phoebe gave us her first smile and Robbie’s was shortly after.  We had finally made it through the 4th trimester as the first 3 months of an infant’s life is sometimes called and our movement from one phase to the next was bridged by a smile; at that, they began to turn into little people.  Sitting up, playing with toys, eating real food, crawling, saying momma and dada and best of all, they started to give hugs and big sloppy open mouthed kisses.

I admit there have been times when they have rolled off the bed, climbed out of their cribs, gotten bruised, eaten dirt, licked the floor, gnawed on my shoes, squeezed the dog, pulled each other’s hair, puked in Temple or puked on Daiga.  Oy vey, lots and lots of puke!

Indeed, as you can see, we had plenty of repeated hiccups – but nothing we couldn’t and didn’t handle.

Deanna's twinsies

So, this first birthday party was as much for my twins as it was for us as a family.  We survived – all four of us persevered through the good times, the tired times, the happy times, and the crying times.

And together, bound by love and the occasional hiccup, we will joyfully tackle Year Two, knowing that one year from now we will have even more new experiences to remember, and another awesome birthday party to look forward to!

All photos courtesy of Scott Photography!

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Comfort Food

comfort foodWhen I told a friend, a fellow American, that our family was moving to Canada from Japan, she exclaimed immediately, “Oh—they have a kind of cookie there that I like very much!”

This amused me, and then I thought later that this is also how I most often recall places I have been but do not know well.

In England, a savory pastry that you can eat with your hands as you walk through the park, trailing crumbs for gray pigeons. In France, pungent red wine (legally!) sipped from a glass in a restaurant when I was barely 12 years old. In Mexico, cheese curds—soft and fresh and salty. In Thailand, a coconut curry.

Continue reading

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Reflections of a Stay-at-Home-Mom (SAHM)

SAHMI became a mom at 45.  It wasn’t by design.  I met my husband at 35, married at 38, and we tried to start a family six months after we married.  To our surprise, that was no easy task.

After three invitros, two inseminations, a frozen embryo transfer and after mixing in four years of acupuncture, various shamans and healers, along with several miscarriages and a too-long process to adopt a baby from China, we finally became parents six ½ years later when we brought our son home from Ethiopia in August 2010. Continue reading

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Being a Parent is Not a Popularity Contest

Popularity contestBeing a parent is not a popularity contest.

It is not a one man or woman operation either. You never know what challenges you’ll face, which is both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.  If you can face your fears and anxieties, you might just make an awesome parent.

Your children won’t recognize this until you’re really old, but in the meantime, your job is to make them horrified to have you as parents (just like we did to our parents).  The mere possibility that you might embarrass them in front of their peers is the lever you need to survive their growth to maturity.

So here are my few parenting thoughts:

Take as many baby pictures now as possible.  Make sure they are in silly positions/situations/clothing.  Keep a copy handy for when guests and relatives come by.  I guarantee they won’t misbehave.

Use the photographs of them sitting on the toilet as adequate backups. Continue reading

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Little Kids, Big Summer

Andrea Lynn's kidsSummer beckons, and it feels like we are making the great leap this year from the familiar to the unknown. Claire’s leaving kindergarten behind and heading to Grade 1 in September, and Anna is leaving preschool and heading for kindergarten. The summer represents the gulf between the old and the new, the last vestige of Little Kid Land before they are in school every day all day for, oh, the rest of their lives.

I suppose I’m nostalgic, but right now it feels great. Leaving the daycare (and the fees, oh the fees!) behind. Good-bye to the arcane rules of preschool, the push-pull of teachers who reject last season’s sunscreen and Anna’s favourite crocs, who dictate which cupcakes are acceptable and what toys are not allowed at Show and Tell. I know one day I’ll look back with great fondness and nostalgia, but right now I’m ready for it all to be done. I’m eager to ease up a little on the very cautious approach to early childhood education and embrace the chaos that is elementary school. Continue reading

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Vacation I

family bathing suitsThe purpose of a vacation, they say, is to make us feel better. It is an opportunity to escape from real life for awhile, to pamper ourselves, to do things we ordinarily don’t do. It is meant to restore our mental health so that the usual daily routine isn’t so bad. That’s why we look forward to it each and every year.

This year, with the kids a little bit older, we had a family meeting to discuss where to go. After some debate and discussion, we decided as a family to go to the ocean. After making said decision, the husband and children then went about their lives, their jobs apparently complete. Continue reading

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The Language We Use (Regarding My Letter from Shutterfly.com)

Image by Karen G

Image by Karen G

I love Shutterfly.com.

I live in a very rural community and therefore both really love and really rely upon online ordering for just about everything.  When I found out that you could order groceries online, it was miraculous.

I am not a huge fan of shopping to begin with and once I found myself living in a rural part of the country as a result of my job, managing my life online, the anonymity and rapidity of service seemed the logical solution and immensely appealing.

So, it was a bit of a surprise when last week Shutterfly sent me an apology – a personal apology.  Not because I had an erroneous order of photographs, note cards or address labels.  Not because I had a missing set of personalized gifts or family calendar unsent.  Not because a gift didn’t arrive in time for the Mother’s Day holiday that was on the horizon.

Shutterfly sent me an apology because the week prior they had congratulated me on becoming a mother! Great news, one might expect! How thoughtful! It was exciting! Except for the fact that I don’t have (but am working extremely hard to have) my own child/ren. Continue reading

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The Oy’s and Joys of Summer

It’s summer time!  YAY!

Wendy Sue Noah's kids at the beach

I used to say, when I was growing up, that things were very different.  Not only were we friendly with our neighbors, with all day play and sleep overs to boot, but if I disappeared for hours to explore the woods in our backyard and play with the inchworms or hang out in my favorite tree, there were no worries or concerns.

Now, our reality is so very different.  Even sending my kids to school all day, I have to go into faith when I kiss them goodbye, praying that these school shootings don’t reveal themselves in our town. Continue reading

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The Ocean, Buddha and Nummies

Amy Wright Glenn's oceanI stand in the ocean. The water is warm, placid, and crystal clear. Little translucent fish swim around my legs. I hold my 22-month old son Taber in my arms. He rests his head on my shoulder.

My husband puts his goggles on to check out a nearby Needlefish. It’s our family morning time at the beach. Having recently moved to south Florida, we are amazed by the world-renowned beauty found a mile away from our doorstep.

My son pulls my blue swimsuit to the side and begins to nurse. I stand tall, gaze at the surrounding beauty, and breathe in the powerful peace moving through my soul. I etch this tender mercy into my heart’s collection of memories. This moment is so primal, so right, and so beautiful.

I stand in the ocean’s magical waters and breastfeed under the sun. Continue reading

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Care-giving 101: Boomers Beware

Courtesy caregiver.org

Courtesy caregiver.org

What an unfortunate end to a terrific week at the lake, with all our kids and grandsons, celebrating our patriarch’s birthday. During one final swim, my husband slipped on the dock, had to have surgery on a fracture through the knee joint and is now only 10 days into an 8-12 week stint of no weight bearing. And yes, living in a 2nd floor walk-up, we’re both counting!

When life moves along as usual we tend to feel bad for those who are injured by trauma and their caretakers but don’t really give much thought to the challenges they’re facing. As with so many other circumstances, it’s only through experience that we really know how it feels. Continue reading

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