Chronic.

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And another year goes by. 365 days.

One year ago, I wrote a post “celebrating” the fact that I have had type 1 diabetes for 20 years. This week, it becomes 21 years. And it’s made me reflect on what the word “chronic” means. Chronic illness, chronic sadness, chronic pain. If you’ve never suffered a chronic condition, you have no idea what it does to the body and to the mind. To your view of the world, much less your view of the day in front of you. It eats at you like a fungus. Some days, you forget it is there and for just a moment you feel normal. And then the next day, with no warning at all, it starts to nibble away at your hope, your faith. You view the day as a challenge, as something you just need to get through, as opposed to something you celebrate and relish. Getting out of bed feels impossible. Smiling, talking, interacting with the outside world feels inconceivable.

And it doesn’t necessarily show to the outside world. Your friends and your family can’t see your chronic illness. People are often shocked when they see my pump for the first time, or observe a dramatic low blood sugar incident. In some ways, that makes the struggle easier because I can hide, I can pretend, and most importantly, I can blend in. Other days, it makes it harder. I look at my husband or my sister or my friends and I want to scream, “you have no fucking idea how hard this is. you will never understand what this feels like.” But I don’t, because at the end of the day, it is mine. And it has been now for 21 years.

A week or so ago, another Facebook post came out about how “close” researchers are to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. Those of us with the disease know how this feels. We’ve learned to curb our excitement. We know these are more often than not, empty promises. Don’t get me wrong, there aren’t words to describe my  appreciation for these brilliant researchers. But I have also had this disease for most of my life. I can no longer remember a time when I didn’t prick my finger, or calculate carbohydrates, or suffer through a debilitating episode of high or low blood sugar. This disease of mine is as much a part of me as my left arm or my ankle or my eyes. That, that right there is the definition of “chronic”. My disease reaches back into my earliest memories and taints basketball games, sleepover parties and hospital stays. My disease reaches in front of me, intertwined with my children growing up, going to college and growing old with my husband.

And yet these times of desperation are episodic. They come and they go. And on the other side is something much nicer. When the episode concludes, and I wake in my bed and the sun is shining and my heart is healed, a perspective that very few in life are granted emerges. The blessing of a day in which everything works. A day where I don’t have a migraine, my blood sugar is steady, my anxiety and depression in check, and I am reminded what a beautiful life I have been given. The two children that I fought for and that make every finger prick and every injection and every sobbing cry worth it hold my hand and tell me “You is a good mommy”. And I emerge a better version of myself. My skin is thick and my resolve to survive is stronger. I feel better than my disease. I feel stronger than my disease. It doesn’t own me, rather I own it.

And I know I can conquer it, if not today than tomorrow.

 

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db

So it’s a new year. 2016. And yesterday, David Bowie died. The picture above is said to be the last picture ever taken of him. It was taken only days before his death. I can’t stop looking at this picture. I have stared at his face for what feels like hours. Man, that’s how you want to go right? Irresistibly cool. Self-assured. And absolutely fucking happy.

So what does David Bowie’s death and that picture have to do with a blog about raising twins? Honestly, I wasn’t sure when I began typing this entry and I don’t know that I will be once I’ve reached the end.

The truth is, I feel lost. I had two weeks off of work over the holidays and I spent, literally, every single day with my 3 year-old twins. And it was absolute bliss. Going into it, I thought for sure I would want to rip my hair out by day two. But it just wasn’t like that. We went on adventures, we lounged and watched movies, we made paper dolls, and played hide and go seek in the backyard, and collected worms and wrapped presents and ate cake icing. And I felt so utterly fulfilled.

I went back to school because I knew I wanted to change careers, but moreover because I wanted my children to be proud of me. To brag on their “working mother” at school. But those two weeks made me question everything. I am inundated daily by blog posts and by Facebook links that tell me “they grow up fast” and “it goes by in a flash”. It’s true. Time is racing by. Who I was in college feels like a distant relative. My high school self feels like a complete stranger. And my childhood? Wow. So why then do I choose to spend days away from them working at a job that pales in comparison to what I have with my two perfect, beautiful, incredible children? I honestly don’t know.

And so I feel lost. Life is short. Life is scary. Life is utterly unpredictable. One minute you’re here, the next you’re gone. And we know that to be true. We hear it every place that we turn. So what do we do while we are here?

Because the goddamn truth is that I cannot have it all. If I spend my days with my children, I can say goodbye to the profession. And if I keep on the way I’m keeping on, I will miss everything that matters. The minutes, the hours, the days that go like a flash. With my loves. Today I saw my children for two hours. Two out of twenty-four hours. And when I got home, my head hurt, I was exhausted and irritated.

What the hell?

Look back at that picture. It’s a face of no regrets. A face of satisfaction and contentment.

We should all strive to walk our last days on this earth in that manner.

 

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What they don’t tell you.

hc

Baby books tell you about sore nipples, sleepless nights, and colic. They tell you that your life will change forever. That your relationship with your partner will never be the same. That you can say goodbye to your free time forever.

But what they don’t tell you about, is the way in which your heart will change. The way in which your insides-who you are and how you breathe and how you survive each day, will also change profoundly.

I dropped my three year old twins off at school for the first time today. Up until now, they have been with a nanny at home. It started that way because they were premature and I was in school and at the time and it made sense. I wish that it still made sense. As I turned to walk out of the building this morning, I literally gasped for air as my throat became filled with sobs. I held it together (somewhat) until I got in my car. Then I proceeded to cry loudly and intensely for forty minutes. I sat in my parking lot at work for another twenty minutes trying to pull myself together. In all my life, I have never felt such intense emotion about anything. Of course I love my family and my husband to the end of the earth. But with my children, it’s different. It’s a love that extends through my body and into my toes and fingers and to the end of each of my hairs. It is a love that is so heavy and so deep that as I sit here typing this, I feel like a thousand bricks have been stacked on top of my heart. Nobody warned me about this. This…this incredible but painful love is what’s hardest. This vulnerability is what wakes me in the night. And I don’t know how to handle it.

Because here’s the truth. I am terrified for them to grow up. For them to leave me. Having my twins is the single greatest thing I’ve ever done with my life. It brings me a happiness and a contentment that is indescribable. Literally indescribable. And today it felt like the umbilical cord was being cut all over again. Like they were separating even more from me. And what’s more painful, is that I know that there is no answer or solution to this pain. Children grow up. They leave. They have families of their own. My mother says that parenthood is the one job in which you are working to be fired.

And right now I don’t want to be fired.

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Happy Birthday.

hc

To the baby bird and the littlest peach,

You will turn three years old on Monday. Is it hard to believe? Yes, in some ways it very much is. In others, it seems just right. Three years. 1,095 days with you on this earth. With me. The world in which you were born in to is confusing and terrifying at times. Just yesterday a young man opened fire in Oregon and killed seven people. Seven people who once were children-who at one time celebrated their third birthday. I fear for you in this world and I long for the days in which you lived inside my body, where I could keep you safe.

The night you were born was electrifying. The night before was your daddy’s birthday and we celebrated with dinner out. That night I couldn’t sleep. My body ached, my skin burned, my ankles and wrists were swollen and throbbing. I knew that you wanted out. I felt you pushing your way through. We had a doctor’s appointment the next morning (October 5th) at 9am with the perinatologist. I waddled in wearing black stretchy pants and a giant tee-shirt. It was hot outside and I forced myself to walk up the flight of stairs as opposed to taking the elevator. Upon entering our doctor’s office, I glared at him and said “they want out. there is absolutely no way they are staying in until 37 weeks”. I was 33 weeks that day. He replied “It’s amazing what your body will do when the safety of your children is at stake”. Your daddy jumped up and stood in front of me, fearing I would rip this man’s eyeballs out, and said “Doctor, she is in bad shape, let’s check her blood pressure”. Soon thereafter, this idiot realized I was showing signs of preeclampsia and he immediately admitted me into the hospital. We weren’t sure when you were coming, but we knew it would be soon.

At 10:00pm that night, my OBGYN came in and said flatly “Sweetheart, these babies are coming tonight. You need to call your husband and tell him we go into surgery in half an hour”. I remember exactly how I felt. I was so profoundly aware that you would both be physically in this room, in this world in just a few hours. I would see you, I would meet you, I would finally have you.

While I waited for your daddy to get there (damn Braves game traffic almost made him miss it), I stood in the bathroom alone thinking about the gravity of what was soon to happen-of what I was about to become. I called my mother who said “You can do this. There are things that you cannot do but this is not one of those things. You-you specifically-can do this”. It made all the difference in the world.

Your daddy got there in time and we wheeled into surgery just before 11pm. I received my epidural and immediately felt nothing below my waist. Movies imply that epidurals make you loopy and silly but they don’t. I was as present and aware as I have ever been. Your daddy said I had never looked more beautiful. I didn’t believe him.

Several minutes later, the doctor began rocking my body back and forth. It felt like there was a volcano inside my stomach ready to erupt. I knew it was coming. And then I felt it. I felt elbows and feet and shoulders-body parts that I had felt inside of me everyday for the past several months-move through and out of my body. And in just an instant, I heard my baby boy enter the world.

There are not words suitable to describe how I felt.

I looked at your daddy and we knew it was you. When I thought I couldn’t feel anything more, that I couldn’t possible love anything else as immediately or completely as I did in that split second, the doctor began pulling my baby girl through my body. My sweet girl, you were so much smaller than your brother, my tiny little peach. I felt your fingers and the small shape of your head as it vacated my body. And then I heard you cry. I heard you separate from me and breathe in life for the first time. It was utterly and completely perfect.

What came next was hard. You both stayed in the hospital for several weeks. Daddy and I came everyday. And every second that I sat with you, I loved you more than the second before.

As we prepare to celebrate three years…more than one thousand days with my little birds, I want to thank you for choosing me. God knows that getting you was a painful and difficult battle. In my darkest hours, when I dreamed of holding you or feeling you move inside of me, I gritted my teeth through the tears and the anger and the doubt and kept going because I knew, I just knew that you were out there in the universe somewhere, just waiting to be mine.

Happy birthday little bird.

Happy birthday little peach.

-Mommy

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“Where has the time gone?”

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If you have children, you have inevitably been asked by an older relative, a friend from your past, or a kind of annoying neighbor, “Where has the time gone?!”

As a mother of almost 3 year-old-twins, this question irks me. You may have noticed this if you read my blog regularly-as I have written about the passage of time often. I struggle to “be in the moment”. I imagine we all do somewhat, but for me, I find myself obsessing over what I used to have, what used to be. I long for the days in which my twins were newborn babies, smelling softly of milk and laundry detergent…all the while ignoring the fact that I never slept, fought incessantly with my husband and rarely left the house.

Regardless, I think it is safe to say that every mother mourns the passage of time with her children. It’s a deep ache that can sometimes be shrugged away, but one that waits for us in the pit of our stomachs, ready to be ignited by yet another Facebook comment or text message that says “Wow! Your children grew up!”

Because of course, time is time. It isn’t technically any different today than it was when I was six or sixteen or twenty-six. Sixty seconds is still a minute. But with kids, the days are so full and fly by so quickly that it’s easy to feel as though you are operating in fast forward mode. Further, their physical and intellectual growth is so pronounced in the early years that one day you have a baby and the next you have a child. And that’s really really hard for a mother to accept. Because every second that races by is one less second that we are needed. Motherhood is the only job in which you are working to be fired. Think about that. The late hours, the worry, the physical and mental exhaustion are all in an attempt to be, one day, put out of a job. One day they will leave my house and move into a dorm, or an apartment or a home and family of their own. And that is devastating.

And yet it is simultaneously exciting and incredible. Ah the paradox of motherhood continues.

So I guess I would say this: Just as you are struggling each day to “Be Here Now”, so am I. When you comment on how much my child has grown, how they’ll be walking down the aisle any day now, how close we are to the end, remember that we mothers are already acutely aware of this fact. Just as you were when your kids were young. We are already in mourning. We are already trying to cling on to a speeding train.

We are already terrified of being fired.

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The “why I exclusively do things exclusively my way exclusively” list.

hc

There’s this new wave of lists on Facebook. You’ve seen them. The “why I exclusively breastfeed my ten year old” list. The “why I refused a c-section so that I could give birth naturally in the arms of my husband, next door neighbor and two dogs” list. The “why I encourage my six month old to learn Mandarin, Spanish and Swahili” list.

These lists annoy me. I know they annoy you too. Of course they’re intended to be helpful and informative lists, but they piss me off. I have a proclivity towards being an annoying mother. I am definitely someone who would write a list that would piss you off.

I would co-sleep with my kid until he left for college and I would breastfeed a whole town of babies if I could. But I was saved from being an asshole parent by the birth of my twins. Twins prevent you from being an asshole because you are too tired to be one. So instead you become an asshole to your husband and close friends. But that’s another story for another post.

So here’s my list.

Enjoy.

1.Why I encourage my two year-old twins to eat off the floor”
a. Because the organic tomatoes that I bought after work yesterday cost as much as my sweater and tank top and when they chew them up and then spit them on the floor I feel like I am dying inside and so I respond by telling them to eat the eight dollar tomato off the floor….the one over there….in the pile of the dog’s hair.
b. Because my house is super dirty  and if they eat off the floor, it’s one less area I have to vacuum.
c. Because let’s face it, they don’t know what eating off the floor means and if I phrase it right, they’ll think it’s a cool adventure and eat even faster.

2. “Why I let my children run around naked”
a. Because each child has to “pee-pee mommy and make big poo poo mommy” every…twelve…minutes.
b. Because I am so very very tired. Like you don’t get it kid. So so so….so tired.
c. Because I am hiding in the bathroom crying and don’t know that they’re naked.
d. Because I am so tired and feeling so fat that I’m also probably naked hiding under my comforter.
e. Because coordinating putting a toddler’s foot through a miniature underwear and shorts hole while they keep tripping and falling over is like a slow, slow death.

3. “Why I intentionally don’t bathe my toddlers each night”
a. (See Question #2 answer #b.)
b. Baths make them hyper. It’s like the bath tub is filled with mountain dew instead of soapy water. They get out of that tub with more energy than I’ve ever had in my life. And that, makes me tired.
c. Have you ever cleaned poop out of a tub? Yeah, I thought so.

4. “Why I believe in letting my kids watch television….sometimes for a long time”
a. I often think about what mothers in the dark ages did between 5pm-6:30pm. This is the time of day, often referred to as “the witching hour” in which your toddler becomes a tiny demon. They scream. They sweat. They hit and spit and thrash and then laugh creepily. This is why I let my children watch seven episodes in a row of “Daniel Tiger”. Mothers in the dark ages are stronger than I am. Maybe they were so cold that the kids just sat there shivering instead of being jerks?
b. Because when they’re watching television, they are (for the most part) not talking. Cut to me lying on the floor whimpering . Those 11 minutes in which an animated tiger learns how to be a helpful big brother are like an oxygen tank to my soul.

5. “Why I breastfed and formula fed and whatever-else-I-could-find fed my twins”
a. When I said I was tired in question #2, I would just like to add that this level of “tired” is actually laughable when I compare it to the “tired” of the first six months of having twins. That tired, the first six months tired, is like being run over by a train car that’s filled with trucks that are each carrying atomic bombs. Because of this, when pulling  a breast out of my shirt to feed a kid became too much, I fed them formula. And when warming up formula for two babies at 4:30am became too much, I reached for rice cereal. And when finding rice cereal became too much, I cried and refilled my wine glass.
b. For all you self-righteous breastfeeders out there, I ask you this: have you ever had two people eating off of your body at the same time? Have you? Because it’s strange (and amazingly wonderful) and tiring and hard and infuriating and beautiful and creepy for your husband to see. But no really, it’s fine and great to advocate for exclusive breastfeeding through your kid’s first semester in college, but until you have had two babies eating off of your body simultaneously through the night, you cannot understand why a person reaches for formula….or rice cereal….or wine.

So that’s my list. There’s more, oh man is there more. But guess what?

I’m tired.

-A

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WARNING: this entry will be terrible.

hc

Hello old friend. I’ve missed you. But I’ve also resented you because I feel stupid in the brain and like I no longer have anything to say. Did I ever have anything interesting to say? So there. Warning-this entry will suck.

The “babies” will turn three years old in a few months. I fluctuate between being horrified by the passage of time and being excited for what’s next. But the truth is, we are having a ton of fun together right now. They are opinionated and passionate and silly. And did I mention opinionated? Holy hell the opinions.

“I want milk”

“I don’t want any milk”

“I don’t wear shorts”

“My shorrttttttts. Mommy MY SHORTS!”

Sometimes I walk outside and shut the door to get a break and then they follow me and I run towards the backyard pretending that I can’t hear them and they chase me and say “Mommy you going?” “Mommy goes to work?” and then I feel like I should go ahead and report to prison to serve out my sentence for being “the worst mother possible”. But instead I suck it up and turn on “Calliou” and give them string cheese and things get better. For a minute.

But really. They’re pretty awesome. They are learning to swim and it’s so incredible to watch them try new things-things that were previously terrifying to them. When I try to help they say “I do by myself” which makes me laugh and then cry softly to myself. How can being a mother be such a dichotomy of emotions? How can I feel as though my heart will explode inside my chest with pride and then seconds later dissolve into a mushy puddle of tears? Man, I thought pregnancy hormones were bad.

So that’s us. That’s where we are in life. Life is changing so quickly-faster than I have time to recognize, to breathe  and to think on it. It scares the shit out of me, but it’s life.

So I better just hang on.

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