18 August 2012

Big Changes in the Little House

Okay. Babies first.

The babies are just a-growin' and a-growin! We're at 21 weeks and I'm measuring about 36. That's completely normal for twins, as horrible as it sounds. I'm very large and uncomfortable, but it's going to get much worse. I can't say I mind, as I'm getting two for the price of one. The thought of getting even bigger over the next four months is a little discouraging, but knowing that I have help on the way sure brightens my mood! I do know, without a doubt, that multiple pregnancies are a team effort. From what I've been told and read at this point, we're thinking that I'll end the pregnancy measuring somewhere between 55 and 65 weeks, which is normal for someone with my body type. I really don't have any space to hide them, as I'm a very slight 5'3", so my babies tend to pop out fast and look very dramatic. I'm guessing that a near-complete twin pregnancy is going to do all sorts of frightening things to my otherwise unassuming body.

At this point I usually have about four good hours in me in the mornings, and then I crash on the couch for a two-hour nap from about 1-3. Claire is napping great lately, so she's usually down from about 10:30 to 3:30. Lucy and Mo are always so sweet and just sit on the couch and watch movies while I sleep. The need to prop my belly up and get my feet elevated is usually pretty great by the time lunch hits, so I really appreciate their willingness to hang out and let me rest! If I were mothering any other children, this whole thing would be so much more difficult. Somehow God gave us the three sweetest, compliant and thoughtful girls, and they're really helping us through this.

The babies are measuring perfectly and growing in sync, which is by far the most important thing we're watching for right now. I really think that the difference between a good pregnancy and a bad pregnancy, single or multiple, is education. I belong to a great multiples forum where my questions are always answered right away, my perinatologist is fantastic and my OB is really well-educated on multiples. In addition to the massive amounts of research I'm doing on my own time, the people around me are doing a great job at helping us to understand the pregnancy.

My ankles and feet are starting to swell off and on, but only as much as a singleton pregnancy at this point. I have a girls' trip to San Antonio next weekend, and my OB cleared me to go out and have "one last good weekend" before he starts keeping a closer eye on me.

I've started and almost finished all of my baby sewing. I was going to really go crazy and do bumpers and crib skirts, but I'm trying to be realistic about my abilities right now! I'd like to get another 10 burp cloths done, and if I can do that I'll be very happy. My friends and family are so graciously throwing us a shower, which I was a little wary of at first but am so, so, so grateful for as time passes. With three girls all born in the late spring, the first almost 6 years ago, much of our baby stuff is the wrong season and just plain worn out! Our infant carrier is expiring this year, our double stroller is actually ripping in half, we have no baby clothes and what we do have is the wrong season. Welcoming Claire into the family in May in Texas meant that she actually didn't wear clothes until she was about 4 months old, and there was only one of her. Additionally, Claire is still a baby and will still be using the crib, the highchair and most of the baby stuff we DO have. So, the more I think about it, the more a baby shower feels like a huge relief to this very overwhelmed mama!

Andrew and I talk often about how all of these differences almost make it feel like a completely different family, like we're starting over from scratch. I'm really not concerned about sleepless nights or baby-wrangling or any of that. That's stuff you just "do." People seem to be concerned about how I'll manage trips to the grocery store and stuff like that. I'm pretty sure I'll just find a new normal and make that happen. I may have my limits, but family logistics is my specialty. I'm far more concerned about getting this pregnancy to 36 weeks than I am about what happens once they're here.

One decision that we've made recently is to send Lucy to kindergarten this year. Heartbreaking? Yes. Necessary? Yes. We've spent many hours talking about it, agonizing over it and praying through it, and we think it's the right choice. Homeschooling is what's in our hearts, but God has seen fit to send us two babies directly on the heels of our current baby. Maybe what's in our heart isn't what's in His heart at the moment, and we're trying to adjust to that. Maybe getting our family to the size He's determined is more important. Perhaps His desire is to give us the opportunity to witness the people in our community in terms of life issues. If anyone can do that, it's us, right?

Sadly, the worst reactions we've had to the news are from our friends in the homeschooling community. Homeschoolers count themselves among the most adaptable and flexible of families, yet when I tell them of our decision, we get a derisive nose-wrinkle and a, "but it's only temporary, right?" If anything, I hope that this year is humbling and helps me get past my own homeschooling snobbery. One of our friends down here (Hi, Chasity!) responded to my email for prayers and discernment with such care and love as I asked for guidance on this huge issue. She and her family faced something similar and even more desperate last year, and to me she was truly what I would like to be as homeschooler. Someone who understands the privilege of education your own children but understands that the time is not always right for it. To homeschool Lucy this year would be selfish, in my mind. Just because we desire something doesn't make it the best answer for our family.

To us, public school isn't the rule, but the exception. As with any government program, we feel that it should be used when an individual or family is not able to perform that role themselves. This year, we need a little help in that department. We plan to go back to homeschooling next year, if we determine that that is God's plan for us. It boggles the mind that people don't stop to think for a minute about how difficult homeschooling would be this year. First, my limited mobility and potential for bed-rest. Second, my very divided attention. Third, the potential for NICU time and a very busy and spread-thin family. Fourth, using the "it only takes an hour or two" excuse seems a little crazy to me, because that's really all the time I would have to give, leaving this little girl who's hungry for activity and excitement wondering why her tired mama is spending all of her time on the couch. Lucy, being the eldest, tends to take on all of my stresses and concerns. It seems like the loving thing to do would be to give her a break from that during the day and let her just be a kindergartner. She has actually almost finished Kindergarten, and we were considering giving her a year until First Grade, but I'm just not sure that a full year of waiting around for First Grade to start is the answer. This will keep her busy, keep her mind moving and give her a little something of her own in the midst of being bombarded with even more younger siblings.

Lucy was a little nervous about it at first, but a little school-supply shopping and a visit to her new playground perked her right up! She has been working hard on her first-day hairstyle and outfit, bless her heart, and Andrew and I have been working hard on her "school manners" and educating her on "What Cookes Do and Do Not Do." There's a long list. She is such a little gem; I know she'll brighten any classroom she's in. I am so happy to give her a little something to pass the days keep her busy. I was very concerned that sending her to school would disrupt the peaceful home we've created here, but the more I pray about it, the more I feel that taking this off my plate for this year would make things a whole lot more peaceful and happy for everyone. When I think about what God calls me to be, he calls me to be a wife and mother and then a teacher. In order for me to fulfill my wife and mother roles, I have to step down from the teacher role temporarily. I didn't plan on having twins in the middle of Lucy's Kindergarten year, but I DO plan on keeping my vocation in the front of my mind. I know that God has great things planned for this family, and that He wouldn't bless us with such a load if He didn't have a way for us to manage it effectively. My pride will have to take a hit as we adjust to our "new normal."

Well, the Gals are in bed and I need to snuggle up on the couch with my sweet man for ice cream and a movie. Is there anything nicer on a rainy Saturday night?


Ballard said...

It's been such a blessing to read your post. I especially admire your ability to prayerfully consider what's best for your children. I hope Lucy has a great Kindergarten year and that she gets a teacher who will be as knowledgable, patient and caring as I am sure you have been in teaching her. I pray that you have a smooth pregnancy as well! :)

Jenna said...

You truly shine God's light into the world with your consistent mindfulness of His plan for your family. Though there may be those in your circle of friends who are perhaps a little more "single-minded" when it comes to how to educate children, your willingness to be open to God's plan and the different forms that it can take during different seasons of your life is something to be admired. Don't let this decision make you feel as though you have let yourself or your family down - you have done something that requires great strength and humility in letting go of what YOU have always thought was best in order to yield to what HE is telling you is best at this point in time. That takes a lot of faith, and I'm sure you knew from the get-go that this pregnancy would be an especially faith-stretching experience! God's will for our lives takes different shapes in different seasons, and as long as you keep your priorities appropriately aligned and prayerfully seek His guidance, you can't go wrong (regardless of what other well-meaning friends and family may have to say about it)!