Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I hate 6:20 am. I love 6:20 am: Prioritizing a crazy life

I’m trying desperately to make sense out of life with four kids (2 of them are 1 year old twins…kill me now). The question I am asked more than, “are those twins?” (No lady, the hospital was having a buy one, get one free sale!) is, “How do you do it?” I've thought about the best way to answer that question and I've decided it's all about one word: priorities. Sounds simplistic, and it is, but it's also true. When my kid-count doubled overnight a year ago, I’ve found that prioritizing the can’t-give-ups and the can-give-ups has made all the difference.


I have to take care of my kids.
Duh. I have to be a good mom. If I fail here, I fail everywhere. So that doesn't budge. It is my top priority. The diapers, the screaming, the fighting, the whining, the oatmeal-flung-farther-than-an-olympic-shotput and every if-I-step-on-one-more-cherrio-I'm-gonna-lose-my-chiz moment... for every reason, it is the most important thing I do. I lump religion in here too. You gotta put the Big Man first.

I will not give up taking care of my appearance on the daily.
This straight-up comes from surviving cancer. There was a point during chemo when I had no hair, no eyelashes, and even my fingernails were falling off. Forget changing out of yoga pants. It hurt too much move. Not only that, but the double mastectomy left me feeling ugly, androgynous and alien-like. If Voldermort and a non-anatomically correct mannequin had a baby, it would look like I did. As soon as I started to get my health back, doing my hair and makeup and getting dressed were a luxury that I didn’t take for granted. I still don’t. Hair, makeup, real clothes (not nice or super pretty clothes- Old Navy or Target sponsor 80% of my wardrobe)- it's a priority. 

I should add that I cheat here. I have a pixie cut so it literally takes me 10 minutes to make my hair look like I cared. 

I will not give up exercise.
I have an AMAZING yoga instructor that says very adamantly that taking care of yourself is not a selfish practice. He usually yells it as I’ve already been sitting in a 100-degree hot-yoga room for an hour on the verge of heat stroke, but I appreciate that he says it, because it is true. Everyone needs to exercise. It needs to be a priority. Your body and brain don’t run right without it. And of course, having your body betray you so wholly and making cancer in the first place reminds you that your body made cancer once, it can do it again. I have to exercise. I do yoga, ballet and Zumba four nights a week after the kids are in bed.

I will not give up writing.
I’m not the most amazing author ever born. I’m never going to be a billionaire because of my books. I don’t care. Writing feeds me. It feeds my need for accomplishment. It makes me feel good about myself and it even sometimes feeds others’ love of literature. It is a relationship that has given me hope and excitement through some very dark times. Even though it is time consuming and I usually have no time to give, I have to write.

I have to work.
I just do. I live in a really nice city in Orange County. We are trying to buy a house in this really nice city in Orange County. Working from home and making a steady, legitimate income and saving for retirement is just something that comes with the territory. I deal with it.
Those are my can't-give-ups. The things I have to work around. But there are some things that I can give up to make all the pieces fit.

I can give up the pursuit of a perfect home
It is organized and things get done that need to get done, but most rooms have kid-caused messes. It bothers me less and less as life gets busier and busier. I’ve come to peace with not having a perfect house in this season of life. I’m not sure I’d get along with a mom who can keep a perfect house. They just aren’t my people.

I can give up some sleep.
I hate 6:20 am for obvious reasons. It’s 6-freaking-20 am. But that’s when I get up. I go to sleep around midnight. The babies wake me up once or twice through the night. 6:20 am comes and I just want to punch night me for staying up for those extra ten minutes looking at my Instagram feed.
I could get away with sleeping in until 7:30 am and still get everyone out the door to school and work, and I did that for months after the babies were born, but then I sacrificed taking care of myself.  My husband would leave for work and come home eight hours later and I looked exactly the same as I did when he left. Maybe I had put a bra on, maybe. It wasn’t a good look. So I put myself as a priority, getting up an hour early to put myself together because made me feel better. I do it for me.

I can give up some TV.
Not all TV. I’m not insane. I need TV. I binge watch a billion things on Netflix while I’m cleaning, organizing, running or grading papers that I don’t really have to think about too hard. But I did give up sitting in front of the TV and watching most shows. In fact, I couldn't tell you what the actors in my favorite shows look like because I'm just listening to the dialogue and not watching the screen when I am "watching" tv. I still miss me some Amazing Race. And I never know who the Bachelor chose as he waits to be on Dancing with the Stars, and I honestly don't know if America's Next Top Model is even on anymore, but tv got notched down on the ol’ priorities list so I could make way for more important things.

I can give up some chill time.
My time to relax will come as the kids get better at not dying or killing each other if left alone for two minutes. Literally, the babies watch for me to turn my back so they can perform death-defying feats. And I should just give up and build an MMA ring in my backyard for my two older boys.  But to get work done and to make sure everyone is alive at bedtime, there is no nap time or putting my feet up for a little bit. It'll come later. 

I hate 6:20 am. Really, what a terrible time of the day. But it represents how my life had to change so everything fits better. Changing my priorities lets me conquer this little world of mine every single day.

How do YOU make everything fit as you conquer your world every day? 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What to say (and not say) to pregnant moms...

The end of pregnancy brings with it a myriad of things- mood swings, stretch-marks, weird symptoms that couldn’t possibly be related to pregnancy and yet it is (Is my nose really getting bigger???). The end of pregnancy also brings with it a whole lot of attention. And for some reason, the bigger the belly, the more attention you tend to attract. I’ve found that both strangers and acquaintances alike all tend to ask/say the same things to me, so in case you were wondering what a mom pregnant with twins hears on any given day, wonder no more, friends!

1.       "Wow, when is your due date? You look like you are about to pop!"
First, no mom-to-be wants to picture themselves rupturing like an overblown balloon. And no, I’m not due soon enough to warrant looking this big. There’s two babies in there. Back off.
(Also, I’m not sure what it is about pregnancy making people feel like they are allowed to comment on your size. If you want to comment on how big I am, don’t be offended if I turn around and comment on your size right back.)
2.       “How are you sleeping?”
Is ‘not really at all’ an answer? Since there are two, someone is always kicking the other and waking them up. I'm worried they've already formed some sort of vendetta against each other... or against me for not expanding fast enough. So usually I just cat nap between urgent sprints to the bathroom as the babies train for MMA on my bladder.
3.       “You look uncomfortable.”
That’s because I’m uncomfortable. Mic drop.
4.       “Is a twin pregnancy different from a single?”
Absolutely. First, you never quite recharge your battery because the drain on your energy is so immense. And that’s not even mentioning the mental toll getting ready for two infants takes. The worry, the fear, the doubt, the terror… But, on the other hand, I split my calories three-ways, so I really don’t ever feel guilty over eating half of a chocolate cake. So, I got that going for me.
5.       “I’ve always wanted twins.”
I only hear this from people who don’t have kids, mostly teenage girls. I’ve had this thought in my pre-mom days. But from other moms, I usually get…
6.       “Boy, I’m glad it is you and not me.”
Actually, I am too, especially if you are saying this out loud to someone pregnant with twins. You have to be tough to deal with twins. I’m tough.
7.       “How are you going to handle twins?”
See answer number 4. Also, I’m a cancer survivor. I’d take twins any day. Any FREAKING day.
8.       “You should sit down.” “You shouldn’t be walking.” “Did your doctor say it was okay to hold your toddler?”
I’ve been thinking about keeping the $15,000+ bill for IVF in my purse and pulling it out for these people to see, just so they are aware of the monetary, emotional and physical investment I have made in these babies. I wouldn’t do anything to harm them. And if I want to walk, or play or pick something up, I’m gonna do it.
9.       “You look great.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you to anyone who has paid a pregnant girl this compliment. There is something about the end of pregnancy that is so physically and emotionally draining, that kind words about one’s appearance really are just that- very kind.
10.    “You are going to be an awesome twin mom.”
And also, a big thank you to anyone who says kind things about a twin mom’s impending adventure. Any girl that finds out they are pregnant with two launches straight into worst-case-scenario thinking. I’ve learned from my 8 months of study that twin success is all about attitude and I’m grateful for any words of encouragement that keep me from going nuts.

I’ll save the nuts for when the kids actually arrive.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Yep, twins.

WARNING: This is a LONG post. For those of you here for the short version, we are expecting twins in April!

Now for the rest of you with some time on your hands, here’s the story of what cancer survivors go through to have kids after chemo:

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, losing my hair didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Hair grows back. Even losing my health for close to a year wasn’t that big of a sacrifice if it meant being able to be cancer-free at the end of it. The double mastectomy was a pretty big blow, but hey, it wasn’t like I was losing an arm or a leg. I would deal with it.
By all accounts, I was doing pretty well with all of it. I was fine.
Until they told me I would most likely not be able to have kids afterwards.
That was most decidedly NOT fine.
Cancer could only push me so far. Giving up future children was over the line. WAY over.
What babies look like at 5 days

My only option was egg retrieval through invitro before chemo started, since chemotherapy kills human eggs. I kept having a vision of myself on an island with volcano errupting. I saw myself putting my future children out onto a life raft and sending them out into the safety of the ocean while I stayed on the island to survive the erruption, or in this case, chemo.

After countless hours of prayer, and some very loud promptings from God (I don’t say that lightly, we had completely decided against the procedure until Heavenly Father intervened), Kurt and I decided to invest what little we had into the egg retrieval process that would save at least the genetic starts to future children.  I came out of my double mastectomy and Kurt started the shots the very next day while I was still in the hospital.

Yes, 3 pregnancy tests...

About a month later, trying to heal from two amputations and being pumped full of synthetic hormones, and just a few days before chemo started, I had my egg retrieval procedure. It didn’t go well, but we got five embryos frozen from it (most women can get 20-50 in one round, so five is actually pretty crappy).

And then I didn’t really think about them again for a good year-and-a-half. I was just trying to survive chemo and radiation. The doctors all said I needed to wait at least one year from the end of chemo, so that’s what I did. I hit that mark and children all of the sudden became the most important thing to take care of. 

Every. Single. Night.
We started the process, which was more money than we anticipated and WAY more shots than should be allowed, and had the embryo transfer at the beginning of August. We put in two embryos, because that’s what you do. If you only transfer one and it doesn’t take, it is another few thousand dollars to get your body ready again. So yeah, you put in two. 

I was not surprised in the least when twins were confirmed. Like I said, Heavenly Father had been very loud about this procedure being necessary, so I knew what was coming. Rather, I know who was coming. 

They are my miracles. They are the very bright light at conclusion of cancer. Because without cancer, I wouldn’t have these two.
And these two needed to come. They are ready to come. 

Am I sick? Horribly. Honestly, it is so bad.
Am I tired? Like I’ve only experienced during chemo.
Well, hello there you two!
I have been getting nightly shots of hormones for almost ten weeks in the same spot. Hint: I can barely sit down anymore. 

Growing twins is hard.
But it’s hard to be anything but grateful about the privilege of carrying two little ones who need to come to Earth at this time. I am truly grateful to just be along for the ride. 

So, if you haven't yet, this would be a GREAT time to buy The Others on Amazon, since formula is expensive... just putting that out there. Or tell EVERYONE you know about it.

Click HERE for Amazon

And also, someone needs to pass a law that post-mastectomy moms get free formula for life. That should just be a thing.