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Friday, May 31, 2013

Happy Birthday Hijack!

 Hi everyone! Just a quick blog hijack for me to say Happy Birthday to my better half, the most wonderful, beautiful, smart, talented, funny girl I know, my wife, and the mommy to my beautiful baby boy and baby girl Amanda. I know she shared some pictures of her and Allison earlier, but here are a few more that I am sure she will appreciate that they are on the internet now. I love you Amanda - Enjoy! Oh yeah and Happy Birthday to Allison too!


Happy 30th birthday to my best friend, my sissy, and my original other half!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Take what you can get

1. We had a great time in Dallas for Memorial Day weekend! You can see pictures and read a recap on Allison's blog. I'm copying two of them below because they were too cute not to share again:

2. The twins have been sleeping much better! We typically do bedtime/feed them around 7:30 (which ends up taking about an hour because I think they must know it's the last meal of the day and therefore they like to have marathon eating sessions) and lately they have only been waking up once (around 1:30 am) between then and 6:30 am. Of course we'll be very excited when there are no regular middle of the night wake-ups, but for now, we'll take it!

3. Clara fell off the couch yesterday while I was changing Colby's diaper. She was ok (thank God), but I have still not recovered. I have discovered that there is no guilt quite like mommy guilt!

4. If #3 didn't seal our fate as parents of the year, we realized at 6 am this morning that at some point between 3-6 am, the monitor to the babies' nursery turned off. Awesome. 

5. Thanks to the generosity of several friends and family members, we have yet to (a) make dinner for ourselves or (b) buy diapers during the past 8 weeks. Thanks, everyone!

6. I literally have nothing to talk about that does not involve the babies. In fact, I find myself even forgetting that I'm turning 30 tomorrow, and if you know me and my love for birthdays (particularly my own), you know that's pretty bananas. 

(Speaking of bananas, we are way pumped about the new season of Arrested Development. Maybe when the twins are 10 we will have time to watch it.)

7. On that note, before the twins were born, I sincerely believed that I was going to have free time during the day for myself. Don't get me wrong, there are occasions when they are both sleeping or occupied, but usually I have to spend that time doing essential things like eating or getting poop stains out of baby pajamas (I'm looking at you, Colby). (I clarified "baby pajamas" so you wouldn't think I was referring to mine or Brian's pajamas.)

8. The end.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Catching up via bullet points

After reading the first (lengthy) bullet point below, you will hopefully understand why I have simply not had the energy or mental capacity to blog lately. Nonetheless, I'm here with an update on the life and times of the Joiner family, so here you go:

- Last week, when the twins were likely right in the middle of their 6-week growth spurt, things got terrible. And by "things," I mostly mean "sleep." On Friday night, we were up attempting to get Colby to sleep from 10 pm-3 am. FIVE HOURS OF CRYING, PEOPLE. Eventually we got him to sleep, but of course Clara woke up hungry one hour later.

When I got up for the day on Saturday, I had only gotten 3 hours of sleep the night before, and they weren't even consecutive. I spent a lot of Saturday crying. I was certain, however, that Saturday night would be better, and I made sure to be ready for bed so that I could go to sleep right after their bedtime around 8 pm. Well I'll give you one guess as to which baby was STILL crying (even after a car ride around the neighborhood) at 11 pm.

By the grace of God, both babies did go to sleep and stayed asleep until it was time to eat again. And (knock on wood), for the past several nights, things have been going much better. We still don't get more than 2-3 hours of sleep at a time, but it is much more manageable than it was.

I don't really have any point in sharing this other than so that I'll be able to look back at this post in a few months and be thankful that we survived this season. I told Brian the other day that it is pretty amusing to me that I ever thought that I understood what the word "tired" meant prior to having these babies. I had no idea.

- Relatedly, we moved the twins to their nursery last weekend. I thought this was going to be really sad/hard to do, but I was so desperate for all 4 of us to get some rest that when they finally fell asleep and we left them in there for the first time, I ran gleefully across the house to our room and didn't look back!

- We're taking our first road trip with Colby and Clara this weekend! We're headed up to Dallas to visit my parents and introduce the babies to some of their extended family. I have a packing list approximately one mile long and I am going to be really amazed if there is any room left in the car for Brian's and my bags by the time we're done packing all of their stuff. Consider this: for 3 days, we will need approximately 60 diapers for the twins. So special.

- I may not be getting to indulge in sleep these days, but I am most certainly indulging in food. It is not uncommon for me to tell Brian that I'm in the mood for a bacon cheeseburger at 2:30 in the morning. Unfortunately our hands are usually full at that time, so I have yet to follow through on any of these middle-of-the-night cravings.

I think I am going to become a trainer on The Biggest Loser and my only strategy will be getting all of the contestants (which will have to be female, obviously) to nurse twins.

- Mine and Allison's 30th birthday is now on the 10-day weather forecast... get excited!

And to close, I'll leave you with two pictures that miraculously have not already been posted on facebook or instagram:

Colby, being silly after a bath

Clara, who apparently takes bath time much more seriously

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Parenting truths

In my short 5.5 weeks as a mom, I have learned some inescapable parenting truths that I decided to share with you all:

1. If you sneak off for a quick shower while the baby is sleeping, he/she will start crying, most likely as soon as you have stepped into the shower, before you have had the chance to get clean.

2. Fussy babies generally stop being fussy right before Daddy gets home. Conversely, babies that are in a good mood and doing fun tricks immediately stop doing so right before Daddy gets home. I think this is similar to the rule that if there is something wrong with your car, you will not be able to replicate the issue when you take it in to the repair shop to get checked out.

3. If you get out a new burp cloth, the baby will spit up all over it at the next feeding, requiring you to put it in the laundry and get out a new one. The same is true if you decide to be lazy brave and burp the baby without a burp cloth- the baby will spit up on your clothes/hair/etc.

4. Relatedly, as soon as you change a diaper, the baby will immediately fill it. If you're really lucky, the baby will be proactive and start to fill said diaper while you are putting it on. If you're really, really lucky, the diaper won't be totally on yet, so pee and/or poop will end up where it doesn't belong (including on your hands).

5. If you have pets, they will start begging and whining to be fed as soon as you sit down to nurse and can do absolutely nothing about it. Not understanding that you are tied up, they will proceed to look at you impatiently as if to say, "Um, mom? You're just sitting there on the couch... can you really not get off your lazy butt and feed us?"

6. On the days that the baby sleeps the most, your to do list will be the longest, so sleeping while the baby sleeps will not be possible. If you decide to toss the to do list out the window and take a nap anyway, the baby will wake up.

7. If you complain on Facebook that your baby is particularly high maintenance/fussy, any time someone comes over in the near future (out of pity in most cases), the baby will make a liar out of you and behave perfectly (except between the hours of 10 pm-7 am, during which time obviously no one would be visiting).

8. And to end on a positive note, as soon as you are fed up and ready to throw in the towel with the whole parenting thing (side note: that isn't actually allowed, apparently), the baby will do something so unbelievably cute that you will forget you were ever frustrated in the first place.

Have you experienced parents/babysitters learned any other inevitable truths that you'd like to share?

Monday, May 13, 2013

First Mother's Day

Yes, it's time for the obligatory Mother's Day re-cap! While I was excited to celebrate for the first time as a mom, my expectations for the day were low given that our families weren't in town and we had two little infants to take care of... apparently they don't break for holidays- who knew?

Nonetheless, Brian did a great job of making me feel loved, which I appreciate even more knowing just how tired he is. In fact, after the twins woke us up at 5 am to eat on Sunday morning, instead of going back to sleep, Brian snuck off on a secret mission to the grocery store to prepare this:

I kid you not when I say it was the most amazing french toast I have ever eaten. And in fact, he made 4 extra pieces so I could enjoy some this week as well. I sure am going to miss being pregnant/nursing and the accompanying permission to stuff my face when holidays like this roll around next year!

Fun fact: in true mother-of-5-week-old-twins fashion, I enjoyed this tasty breakfast while pumping. Fun times.

Colby, Clara, Noah, and Buster also had Brian pick these up at the store- so thoughtful of him them!

We spent the rest of the day hanging around the house with the exception of lunch out at Cafe Express and a quick trip to Babies R Us. 

1. I look exhausted... because I am. 
2. I wanted to get a picture of me actually holding them before we left the house, but the little wiggle worms weren't cooperating.

We experimented with a couple of bows on Clara for the day, but in the end opted for the smaller of the two:

Colby was also looking cute yesterday, but due to some persistent fussiness, I wasn't able to get a good picture of him awake. You'll have to settle for one of the 8,000 tummy time shots of him instead:

(that's a shadow, he didn't pee through his diaper... this time)

Anyway, the day wasn't super glamorous, but being a new mom isn't super glamorous, so I think it was fitting. It was just another reminder of how thankful I am that God made me the mommy to these two little babies, and that He gave me Brian as a partner in attempting to figure them out raising them!

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Mother's Day reflection

With Mother's Day approaching, I can't help but reflect on Mother's Day 2012 and how (obviously) vastly different this year will be from last. You can read about it in this post and this one, but to summarize, we found out that IUI #1 failed the day before Mother's Day last year.

To say it was one of the lowest points of infertility for us would be an understatement. We did muster up the courage to give a second IUI a try later that month, which as you know, was also unsuccessful. The next month, we decided to give IVF a try, and, well, you know how that turned out!

Anyway, I wrote a post right after we started IVF about hope, and here's an excerpt that seems appropriate now:

And it was then that I was reminded of a passage that Brian had e-mailed to me literally just the day before:

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Past = 2.5 years of disappointment
Wasteland = my uterus
New thing = hopefully a baby (or two)

It is tough for me to remember, but I have to constantly remind myself NOT to live in the past, because God is not limited by our former OR our current circumstances. A friend recently shared Romans 15:13 with me along with a quote from a book she is reading that says the same thing:

"Hope always points to the future. This title of God assures us that in Him our future can always be dramatically different from our past."

I was so encouraged by that and hope you are too, because I know I'm not the only one who is hoping for a future that looks NOTHING like the past.

Pretty cool how fitting that is this weekend as I celebrate a Mother's Day that is dramatically different than Mother's Days of the past. I am thankful for yet another reminder that God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine, and hope that my story serves as a source of encouragement and hope for those of you that are waiting for God to make a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland for you.

Happy Mother's Day to you all, whether you are a mom, have a mom, or aspire to one day be a mom.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thoughts on parenting (thus far)

In some ways, parenting has not been as difficult as I anticipated. The pee/poop/spit up/snot/miscellaneous bodily fluids don't gross me out as much as I thought they would, changing diapers isn't as big of a pain as I anticipated, and general baby maintenance comes more naturally than I thought it would.

In more ways, however, parenting is about a million times harder than I thought. Figuring out what a newborn wants (or doesn't want) is not as easy as I figured it would be, even though there is a pretty finite list at this point of what would be making them happy/unhappy. It's the whole part about making judgement calls that seems to cause me the most anxiety. And the second guessing. And the not allowing one or two rookie mistakes (there have been many) to ruin my day or overwhelm me to the point of not functioning. And the sleep deprivation. And the trying to maintain a relationship with my spouse that exists outside of asking him if he gave the baby the gas drops after the diaper change. And the list goes on.

Some of my new mommy low points over the past 5 weeks:
- I caused Colby to pee all over his face during a diaper change. I looked over and saw drops of liquid on his face and was horrified to see that I had caused him to cry so many real tears... so realizing it was just pee was actually a little bit of a relief (for me, anyway).

- Colby had his first blow-out diaper (up his back) and Brian suggested we change him before getting back on the road. Mom of the year over here figured another half hour of sitting in his own poop wouldn't hurt him, but Brian convinced me otherwise.

- I over-fed Clara her first full bottle of pumped milk at Brian's birthday lunch (never stopped to burp her), causing her to spit up out of her mouth and nose. When we got home a couple of hours later, she seemed hungry, so I attempted to feed her again. She started to spit up again, so I put her down next to Colby while I grabbed a burp cloth. Meanwhile, she projectile vomited all over herself and her brother's face. In my attempt to pick her up and grab my cell phone at the same time (to call the pediatrician), I dropped the phone on her face, at which point she started crying. And so did I.

- I got the appointment times wrong on my follow-up OB appointment (something I have never done before!) and had 30 minutes less than I thought to get ready, which meant a very shortened meal for the twins and a hectic drive to the doctor's office for me.

- When I realized there was a wet spot on the blanket at the end of our bed (for the third time in 48 hours), I told Brian that if it wasn't spit up, then I didn't want to bother washing it again.

As a task-driven perfectionist, it is easy to let these "failures" define me and leave me feeling defeated and overwhelmed. Thankfully, however, God has allowed me to show myself more grace than I would have in the pre-baby days. And I have even been able to laugh about most of these rookie mistakes (except dropping the phone on Clara's face after she barfed... still feeling bad about that one) after the fact.

A twin mom friend commented on one of my facebook statuses to tell me that the saying at their house is "every day is a victory with twin-fants," and I am trying to embrace that same perspective. So allow me to share a few "victories" with you thus far:

- Brian and I have managed to keep two human beings alive for 4 weeks and 6 days.
- I have been able to successfully nurse both babies (at the same times!) so far... which feels like a small eternity at the moment.
- I have figured out pumping and been able to stock up a supply in the freezer! (By the way, anyone who has ever said "not to cry over spilled milk" has not pumped.)
- Colby and Clara are healthy, gaining weight (we think), and happy (most of the time).
- The night before last, the twins went 5 hours between feedings, which meant Brian and I got FOUR CONSECUTIVE HOURS OF SLEEP. I literally felt like we won the lottery.
- I have not dropped a baby or otherwise injured them.

So there you have it. Allison left today, so Colby, Clara, and I are on our own again during the day. I am going to try to keep up with blogging, but no promises, because sometimes it's all I can do to finish a load of laundry during the 11 hours that Brian is away :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

One month!

In addition to being Cinco de Mayo, yesterday was also Colby's and Clara's one month birthday! I celebrated by eating chips and queso. They celebrated by having a brief photo shoot and doing other baby things. 

I had the genius idea to take these shortly after they were fed rather than right before, which ensured that neither of them ruined the picture by screaming (I'm looking at you, Colby). 

Speaking of Colby, we don't know how much the babies weigh at the moment (the next pediatrician appointment isn't until 2 months), but I am fairly certain that he is heavier every time I pick him up! Homeboy seems to be growing like a weed, and I feel like he already looks so different than when we brought him home.

Colby's current favorites: tummy time, gas drops, hanging out sideways in the Nap Nanny, eating, preventing Mommy and Daddy from sleeping at night, grabbing his face with his hands, going on walks, lifting up his head, the pacifier, snoozing after a meal, and being cute

Headband bow or pirate patch? You decide.

Clara appears to be growing as well, especially in her face, but is definitely still the more petite of the two. She still cries/fusses less frequently than her brother, but she has started to pipe up more in the last few days, so I have a feeling our house will be increasingly less quiet in the weeks and months to come!

Clara's current favorites: hanging out in the bouncer, burping like a grown man, looking around, making funny faces (most notably the owl face and duck face), eating, spitting up, making noises like a billy goat, and being cute

Can't wait to see what kind of fun and excitement month two will hold... hopefully the kind of fun and excitement that includes sleeping for several hours at a time during the night? A mom can dream, right?

Happy one month, little ones! We love you more than you know!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Brian is THIRTY!

Back when Brian and I met and started dating in 2003, we were just wee little 20-year-old babes. Somehow, ten years have passed and today he is turning 30! 

Due to the little gremlins that have recently and fully taken over our lives, we don't have any big and exciting plans to celebrate, but I hope he feels loved and celebrated today just the same. I did still manage to plan a few little surprises for him- I've even asked Colby and Clara to sleep through the night tonight as his gift, but I wouldn't count on them following through, I'm afraid ;)

Regardless, happy 30th to you, Brian! Colby, Clara, Noah, Buster, all of the imaginary friends, and I love you more than you know. 

Please enjoy a few flashback photos from Brian's 30 years... and take special note of the many different colors/styles of his hair, especially in the early years. Who knew he was so versatile?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

More newborn photos

My reward for surviving my first day alone with the twins on Monday was getting the disc of edited pictures from our newborn photo shoot in the mail that day! As I mentioned before, Kim did an amazing job and we were so pleased with her work. 

We got 40+ images from the shoot, but I just chose a few to share with you all... enjoy! 

This is the only picture I've seen of Colby and Clara in which they actually resemble one another... barely :)

All photos courtesy of Little Lamb Photography