Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twins on Tour 2012: Surprise Edition!

So I didn't tell the full story in the last few posts. When we went to the neonatologist a few weeks ago, she told us that the girls would be ready for a road trip whenever we were, as long as we stopped periodically to get the girls out of their car seats. With that info in mind, we decided to plan a Memphis trip as soon as possible! With my dear friend Carissa's big baby shower on Saturday the 28th, we decided we could postpone our trip no longer. Plus, that way, we could go out and celebrate Chris's birthday with some free babysitting services compliments of the babies' grandparents. All in all, it seemed like a fabulous idea, and it turned out to be just what we needed! We returned last night to Louisville feeling refreshed and very much loved... and also very exhausted, of course! :)

(Out-of-order picture alert: This was Evie at Tamsie's urology appointment last week. I kept trying to find this for the last post but couldn't. Isn't she so sweet?)

Chris had a few meetings at work on Friday morning, but once he got home, we packed the girls up, along with TONS of baby paraphernalia, and hit the road. The girls pretty much looked like Tamsie does in this picture the whole way:
 or else like Evie, trying to figure out what in the world was going on and why they were in their car seats for so long:
At one point, Evie got pretty annoyed and made a hilarious face. But try as I may to capture it, this was the best I was able to do. I kept laughing too hard to hold my hands steady, and the road was too bumpy to get it any clearer than this:
On the whole, however, they stayed pretty content (and very sleepy). The trip did take quite a bit longer than usual with all the stops. What is normally a 6-hour trip for us turned into 8 hours easily! When we got to town, we went straight to one of our favorite restaurants ever, Memphis Pizza Cafe, where we met up with my parents and Chris's sister Jennifer and her boyfriend Tyler. Jennifer was very excited to see the girls, whom she hadn't seen since Thanksgiving - back when they were both in the NICU and Evie was in an isolette. Here she is with Tamsie (sorry for the socially awkward light situation - I have no idea what was going on):

 and here is a nice impromptu snapshot of the Vaf and Tyler:
 Mom was also thrilled to get to have time with her granddaughters. In fact, she had a hard time putting them down so she could eat!
 By the way, I should note that Memphis Pizza Cafe has completely spoiled us. We have a really hard time finding pizza we like in the 'Ville, because none of it remotely compares to MPC!! Memphians, you don't know how good you have it! (This is why we end up hitting up MPC basically every time we go home! We spend our lives up here being pizza-deprived!)

Saturday morning, our good friend Mrs. Donna came by my parents' house to meet the girls. She threw me my Memphis shower back in July, which was the last time we were able to get home to Memphis. She has been praying for the girls from the start, and I was so glad she was able to come spend time with them.
 After that, Chris, Mom, and I went to Grandma's house, where Grandma was able to meet the girls for the very first time! We had such a good time, in fact, that I totally failed to take any pictures. Chris's mom Mrs. DeeDee, her husband Herbie, and Chris's brother Noah came and met us there too. Then Mom and I went and picked up Melissa to head over to Carissa's baby shower in Millington. Now a few weeks ago, Carissa texted me to ask if I could come to the shower, but I told her I highly doubted the doctor would let us take a road trip so soon. At the time, I thought that was the case. Once I learned otherwise, though, I did not mention it to her, because I wanted to surprise her - and she was VERY surprised!! :)
Mom and Melissa walked in while I hid in the entryway. Melissa asked if Carissa minded if she brought a friend, and out I popped!! It was so fun to get to surprise Carissa like that. She was, of course, totally not expecting me!! :) Melissa, who was in on the secret, was also playing up the whole thing for the past week. She would say, "Isn't it a shame Shelby can't make it to the shower?" just to get Carissa all sad.
Carissa's shower was so much fun and so perfectly planned. I texted her on the way to tell her I was so sad I couldn't make it, and she wrote back that it was like "a baby boy wonderland" - which it totally was! We all had a blast. Here are the three amigas:
 and Carissa and me with our moms:
 After the shower, I went back to my parents' house, where a bunch of friends were able to drop by and meet the girls. Gigi came, and so did Sara (on the left), who is in her third trimester with the twins' future BFF, McKenzie! JT (on the right) and her husband Brian also came to visit. She is pregnant with a sweet boy named Dalen! It was such a blessing (and so exciting!) to get to see my precious friends in their prego state before their little ones arrive.
Melissa also came back with us after the shower, and her mom Mrs. Kathy was able to be there too. Mrs. DeeDee, Herbie, Jennifer, and Tyler were also there. It was such a joy to get to be with them too! The twins never get enough time with their sweet YaYa, and they loved getting to see her again.
 I was so glad to get to see this girl, and I can't wait to get to meet McKenzie!! I reminded Sara she's already far more pregnant than I ever was, since she has made it further along! :)
 Later on, a third prego visitor showed up: Carissa! Her mom Mrs. Betty was able to come too. We were all laughing about how so many of our visitors that night were pregnant! :) Mom and I were talking about how neat it is that all these girls used to come hang out with me at my parents' house back in our single days, and now all of us are having babies around the same time!
 I had to get a picture with JT and Dalen before they left!
 Carissa loved holding the girls, and they seemed right at home in their aunt's arms, too!
Once company cleared out, Chris, Mrs. DeeDee, Herbie, Jennifer, Tyler, and I all went to Sekisui for Chris's birthday while Mom and Dad watched the girls. I ordered Chris a carrot cake from La Baguette, just like his groom's cake (minus all the White Sox fun) from back in the day, as a birthday surprise, and we had it for dessert.
 Sunday morning, the girls finally made their debut at our home church, Ellendale Baptist. Bro. Tommy announced that they were able to make it, and we had a really special time getting to introduce them to so many dear friends from church who had been praying for them all this time. After church, we went to Grandma's for Christmas dinner. You see, back when I broke the news of the pregnancy to Grandma, I asked her if we could celebrate Christmas sometime after the new year. The hilarious part of the story is that she immediately said yes, without even asking why! So I had to ask, "Would you like to know why I'm asking this?" When she said yes, I told her it was because I was expecting a baby sometime around Christmas Eve! (Back then, who knew it was twins?!) And so I finally took her up on her offer, and we enjoyed a fabulous Christmas meal. I also had some bonus time with Melissa, who came to take the girls' pictures in some precious headbands:
 Tamsie wore a pearl headband, and Evie wore a rose headband - quite fitting, considering their middle names! ;) Grandma (their Great-Grandma) also was able to spend a good bit more time with them.
 We tried to take a four-generation picture, too (although my hair was becoming rather cone-shaped at this point in the day):
kind of like this one from back in the 80s, featuring Grandma Pearl (my great-grandma):
Uncle Myron, Aunt Lauren, and my cousin Chris stopped by too, which was nothing short of miraculous considering the heavy load of homework Chris had that weekend, being the MUS Owl that he is. We were originally planning on heading out after Christmas dinner on Sunday, but then we wondered what in the world we were thinking! We wouldn't have even gotten back to Louisville until way late, so we decided to stay one more day. Monday morning, we shipped out. Evie was having too much fun and wasn't ready to leave yet:
 And when we got back, she still wasn't sure about it:
 We truly had a fabulous trip!! It was very much-needed, and it felt great to get to see so many friends. If you're a Memphis-area friend who we missed seeing this time, never fear - we'll be back! It was truly a whirlwind trip, made even more whirl-windy(?) by the fact that we brought babies with us for the first time. I was very sad that Ava Bird didn't wind up making the trip, but it was probably for the best this time.

Tonight I am continuing my streak of busy-ness by heading out to our first Koinonia event of the semester at school, and I can't wait! It should be really good.

I will leave you with a teaser from Melissa's photo shoot on Sunday with the girls:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy birthday to Chris and an update on Tamsie

Today is Chris's 28th birthday! He is finally catching up to his cougar of a wife, as he calls me!
(OK, puma. He calls me his puma. So sweet, right?)

Back in my single days (of which there were many), I used to pray for God to send an amazing, godly man my way, and He totally came through for me! I was also hoping my future husband would be silly enough to keep up with me, and thankfully, he is, as this picture attests:
OK, so I know this post is already a total cheesefest, but it IS his birthday, so let's keep the party hopping!
Chris is such a wonderful dad:

and I absolutely love his precious family and am glad to call them my family too:

He's totally handsome:

He always treats me like a princess:

 and he can always make me smile:

 In knowing him for something like 11 years, going on our first date 6 years ago, and being married for 3.5 years, I can say he really is the best. I love our story, and maybe one of these days (if I ever finish telling the story of the girls' birth!) I'll share it on the blog. This next picture, by the way, comes direct all the way from his high school graduation day in 2002 (and I love that Melissa - who took the above picture and the top picture -  and Jamie are making a cameo in here):

 I truly believe I couldn't have married a better man! I am so thankful for him.

Happy birthday to the Vaf!!!

On to the Tamsie update:
For those who prayed for our sweet girl, THANK YOU, and please keep it up! We found out (after her awful test she had to endure) that she does indeed have a blockage in her kidney. However, the kidney is functioning just fine (in fact, the "bad" one is doing 53% of the work, and the "good" one is doing 47%)! So for now, the doctor wants to take a wait-and-see approach. She will stay on the antibiotics for the reflux situation, and she will go back in three months for another kidney ultrasound, to see how everything is looking. We're praying that she grows out of both the reflux and the kidney blockage, and she very well could. If not, she will probably have to have surgery at some point - so we're definitely praying that does not need to happen. She will probably be monitored for this the first several years of her life, but fortunately she will not have to repeat the dreaded test she had on Tuesday for another two years or so. Interestingly, by the way, this whole thing has nothing to do with being a preemie or a twin or anything like that - it just happened and could happen in anyone. So bizarre, but we're just thankful there's nothing pressing we have to do right now, except to pray that it goes away entirely. 

Two more pictures and I'll call it a post:
The sun was shining through the prisms on the front door onto Evie's face during her dinnertime while Tamsie was getting her test done:
and here is Tamsie, back home and sleepy after her test:
OK, the girls are waking up, so off I go! :) Be sure to wish the Vaf a very happy birthday!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Backstory, Part 3: Second Trimester and Feeling "Swell!"

For Part 1, click here.
For Part 2, click here.

I fully expected the first day of my second trimester to dawn with me feeling more fabulous than I ever had in my life, cheerfully moving the lemonade and oyster crackers from my nightstand back to their happy home in the kitchen, and having the energy of an Olympic athlete. Alas. I guess my expectations were a little on the high side. The wonkiness persisted a few weeks into the second trimester, frequently acting like it was going away, and then returning with a bang. But eventually it subsided and my famous appetite returned, and it wasn't long before I was downing plates of food just like I had in my good old pre-prego days. (And for good reason too - at my 20-week check-up, the doctor ordered me to gain weight at any cost! Hello, sweets!!) 

(This picture was taken right after a trip to the Melting Pot and some chocolate fondue during the 16th week, when food was once again yummy:)

And while I wouldn't say I ever felt amazing in my pregnancy, even in the second trimester, it certainly brought plenty of amazing highlights:
  • Finding out (at 17.5 weeks) that I was having girls!! (Dream come true!)
  • Attending my first shower, which was in Memphis in July. (I haven’t been able to get back to Memphis since then, and I am beyond homesick at this point!)
  • Feeling the first kicks at about 18 weeks! 
  • Starting the nursery-decorating process.
  • Taking a trip to Cincinnati and visiting Ikea (where the girls’ bookshelf and toy box came from and where I would crash on the sofas every chance I could find! Seriously - it would get awkward whenever anyone would come try to check out the sofa I was on. I felt like I was playing prego musical chairs!)
  • Hosting a visit from our dear friends Carissa and Roy. Carissa was also pregnant at the time (and still is, but not for much longer - baby boy is due within the month!), and we had a grand time being crazy pregos together and getting spoiled by our guys. 
  • Attending a surprise shower at the learning center where I tutored.

There were also plenty of new lowlights (is that the word I'm looking for?), primarily revolving around round ligament pain. Yowch!! I couldn't walk around the mall (which was my preferred form of exercise, since I was preggers, it was summer, I love to shop, and there were plenty of benches) without running into them. Oh, what am I talking about?! I couldn’t even roll over in bed without getting the full-on RLP experience!
Additionally, there were plenty of new experiences, such as:
  • Starting to see the high-risk doctor in the practice, whom I liked a lot.
  • Having to wait a month(!) between doctor appointments at the beginning of the second trimester, which seemed like forever. (How do you normal moms out there do it?!) Since the babies and I were doing so well and the bleeding was long gone, there was no need to go any more frequently. 
  • Making friends with the people at Motherhood Maternity (because I was rapidly increasing in girth) and at Wild Eggs (because I was craving their insanely delicious breakfast food pretty much all the time).
When I first found out I was pregnant, the plan was for me to pack in four classes in the fall so I could graduate with my master's in December. Once I discovered I was carrying double the fun, but with a fraction of my former energy level, Chris successfully convinced me to resign my post as Superwoman and just take one class instead - which turned out to be the best decision ever. I was also working two jobs during the pregnancy up to this point - at the communications office of the seminary and as a tutor at Huntington Learning Center. Plus, I was leading a brand-new fellowship for women on campus, Koinonia, and I really wanted to be able to give it the attention it deserved. 

As for doctor appointments during the second trimester, I continued to get rave reviews at each one. They gave me all the tests (I’ll spare you the details) that they give women who are carrying twins to make sure they’re not at a high risk for preterm labor, and I passed every one of them with flying colors. Each time I would experience an odd mixture of dread and excitement leading up to the appointment, and then I’d be a ball of nerves sitting in the lobby, waiting to go back. Then, when we’d have the ultrasound (which we would have each time, for an hour or so), I’d ask, “Is everything OK? How are their fluid levels? Are they about the same size?” because I knew all of these things would indicate whether we were in the clear with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, and every time everything would be great. On the 23rd week, the girls were even measuring the exact same size, which meant no signs of TTTS whatsoever. And at some point, after answering my usual paranoid questions very reassuringly, the doctor told me to relax - that I could think of myself as having a normal pregnancy (music to my ears!) and that she hadn’t "grounded" me (put me on bedrest) yet.
On Day 2 of my 26th week, I headed to the doctor for yet another appointment in which I received a stellar report and passed my glucose test. Later on that same day, after returning to work and running errands and such, I came home and discovered that my ankles were obscenely swollen. I mean it was really bad. Never had I experienced any form of swelling in the pregnancy until now, and all of a sudden all I could think about was that my ankles and feet looked like those of a crocodile:
The following morning, I called the nurse about it and was told that swelling during pregnancy is normal and nothing to be concerned about. (Of course I knew swelling was normal, but this was crazy swelling!!!) I also learned that some lab results were in, and I was anemic and would have to start taking iron. 
During the course of the next week and a half, the swelling would spread up my legs, getting worse no matter how much I kept my legs propped up. Eventually I went in, had my blood pressure checked (it was fine), and went to a medical supply store to get some compression tights, which helped - but there was unfortunately a limit to their helpfulness. I also started packing on between 4 and 7 pounds a week, which was remarkable since I wasn’t eating any more than I had been earlier on, when I was having trouble gaining weight. By my 27th week, I had to take a trip to the Zappos Outlet to buy some shoes that actually fit me, because none of mine did at that point. I’m normally a size 7 or 7.5, and I came back from Zappos with size 9.5 lace-up black dance sneakers and Crocs (which I would, in my normal mindset, hate) that looked like slip-on tennis shoes. I called them my “clown shoes.” Desperate times, friends, desperate times. Better that than going around barefoot... I think. Little did I know the times were truly about to get a lot more desperate! ((To be continued....))

Monday, January 23, 2012

Out & About with T&E

Saturday we were feeling adventurous (and in need of some groceries), so we loaded the girls up in their car seats and headed to Trader Joe's.
Now we have done this plenty of times in the past, but one of us has always stayed in the car with the girls while the other has run inside and done some serious Supermarket Sweep-worthy speed shopping. This time, however, we decided to (drum roll please... seriously, this is our lives these days) take them inside. I put one car seat in one shopping basket, and Chris put the other in another, and in we went. Now Chris found the experience rather invigorating, but I found it stressful for the following reasons:
- It was insanely crowded.
- People kept running into our basket.
- I'm a germaphobe to begin with (at least I admit it), and I was scared someone might be sick and give something to the girls.
- We were the talk of the store. I kept hearing people whispering to each other about us: "Oh look, there are two!" "Twins!" "Look how tiny!" "They must be newborns." "He's got one, and she's got one too!" "How cute!" etc. Now I'm sure this is something twin moms become accustomed to, but the whole thing was new to me, and while it was kind of sweet, it was also distracting! I was having the hardest time weaving through the crowds, keeping up with where Chris was, keeping an eye on the girls, listening to everything that was being said, and focusing on finding what I was actually there to buy!

But all in all, I must say that it felt good to get the girls out of the house. I actually felt like a semi-normal mom for once, running errands with kids in tow. As crazy as it was, it felt good, and afterwards, we celebrated by heading over to Menchie's for some fabulous frozen yogurt.

In fact, if I were to make a list of things I'm loving right now, both Trader Joe's and Menchie's would be on the list, along with:
- Philosophy Amazing Grace
My sister-in-law gave me this fabulousness for Christmas! It smells light and airy and amazing.
- Speaking of Christmas presents, Mom gave me Benefit Ticket to Glossytown, which is also grand!
When it comes to lip gloss, I love having options!
- Lotsa Pasta's black bean hummus - yum!
- Starbucks Caffe Verona... yes, please!! I could drink it all day (and some days, I kind of have)!
- This book, which my friend Becky gave me, full of fun activities you can do with your baby to stimulate development each week:
- This book, which I am currently reading on my Kindle and hoping to review once I'm finished:
You see, I'm making a constant effort to learn more about babies right now, since I knew nothing going into this thing (really!), and since I have, well, two of them!
- Homemade chocolate-chip cookies made by my dear sweet husband!!!

OK, enough of my current favorites. Here are a few more cute pictures I took on Saturday with the old iphone (and yes, I'm hoping to figure out some cool apps to make these photos much better at some point! I just haven't had time because, you know, twins!):
Chris and Tamsie:

Tamsie (left) and Evangelyn (right), held by Chris and mesmerized by the ceiling fan:
They have a play mat their grandparents gave them that has a star with a smiley face up top that lights up and plays music. Tamsie loves to smile and squeal at that star:
(I actually think she is making an expression like her Grandpa in this picture - can you see it?!)

We had really wanted to take the girls to church with us for the first time on Sunday, but alas - they decided to party all night the night before (and not the fun kind of party - the "it's-my-party-I-can-cry-if-I-want-to" kind of party), and we had to keep playing like cops and shutting it down. Somewhere around 3:30 a.m. I announced to Chris that I was in no shape to wake up at any decent hour the next day and go to church - and sure enough, we didn't. The alarm woke us up at 11:15, and it was hard even then to drag ourselves out of bed! The rest of the day was spent being lazy and playing with babies, which was really quite nice.

**Also, please be praying for Tamsie - she has another kidney test tomorrow. We find out the results on Wednesday. I really hate that she has to keep getting all these tests, because she is SUCH a happy baby and these are no fun at all for her and are often quite painful. I just don't want her to be traumatized to the point where she loses her happy little spark. Thanks in advance for the prayers!**

OK, I think we're updated for now! Happy Monday! :)