The Aftermath

Carrying twins does something to your body. Carrying any baby changes your body, and carrying two at once can really do a number on it. (I can’t imagine carrying more than two!)

I was never Miss America material, but I was always pretty fit. 8 months after having the boys, I am still working on accepting my “new” body.

Some of what I struggle with is extra fat that I’ve put on (some probably post-babies!) because I haven’t been working out very consistently and I’m not a very healthy eater. I eat well sometimes, but then I turn right around and eat five cookies in as many minutes. (This never used to be an issue for me. I could eat what I liked and not worry about it. Those days are gone.)

The rest, though, is my belly. My belly of saggy baggy elephant skin. There is SO MUCH skin left that it looks like fat if you see it under clothes, and if you see it without clothes you might just throw up a little bit. That’s not to mention the stretch marks that look like a tiger took to my belly with its claws. I don’t mind them so much, though, because I never planned to wear a bikini again anyway. It would be nice, though, to not feel frustrated with how I look even when I put clothes on.

I’m in an online group of twin mommies. From them, I’ve learned a bit about this skin I have left.
1) It’s often referred to as “twin skin”
2) The only twin mommies in that group that don’t have it had preemies
3) It will never go completely away without surgery

Let me make one thing abundantly clear: I am SO INCREDIBLY THANKFUL for the fact that I was blessed to carry my boys to 37 weeks. They were born with zero medical issues and spent no time in the NICU, unlike many twins. I WOULD NOT trade my skin for preemie babies, and I know every one of those moms would gladly have a belly like mine to have children born full term. 

Now, having cleared that up, it is still very difficult to adjust to this belly of gross saggy skin. It even makes me less motivated to exercise/eat healthy and lose the other fat on my body (I say fat, not weight, because I weigh less than I used to but my body fat % is obviously different because everything jiggles and I just look bigger) because I know that no matter what I do, my stomach will always look this way. 

I think this is such a difficult adjustment for me for two reasons. 1) I used to be very fit and active and I’m just still not used to the person I see in the mirror. 2) So many women around me and society in general make it seem like I should have a perfect little tiny body again by now. (It’s been 8 months since they were born – what is wrong with her?!) My friend Sarah put it into words quite well the other day, I thought. She said, “We’re told we’re beautiful when we’re little, and that puberty is good, even though our bodies change, and then when they change again (for a great purpose) all of a sudden they’re ugly and embarrassing!” 

ImageWhen your belly stretches this far, some of it just won’t “snap back”

I‘d post a picture of the aftermath, but I don’t want anybody to lose their lunch 😉 (You probably think I’m kidding, but I’m really not. For instance, I was shopping for some new shirts one afternoon with my younger sister Hope. She is incredibly blunt and honest in her childlike way, and as she saw me change my shirt she asked me what was wrong with my stomach. I explained to her that having Brendan and Cason had made my belly look that way, and she giggled while she said, “It’s gross! Put your shirt on!” She did not say this to hurt my feelings, she is just honest.)

Thankfully, the skin on my belly has gone down a great deal. That doesn’t mean it bothers me any less. This blog post is something I read on days I’m really upset. She puts into words EXACTLY how I feel about it! 
“When I blow dry my hair after a shower, I look at my body in the mirror, and the familiar internal conversation begins. First there is the still present feeling of surprise. That’s me? Then comes the uncontrollable feeling of disgust constricting my throat. But on its heels the thought: wait a minute, these scars are sacred, they represent one of the most significant stories within my story, something I don’t want to forget, and there, right there is evidence of my own rebirth into something more. But I hardly take a breath before my hands are moving to my stomach to stretch it out flat and make it look like a long-gone me. If I could just change this one part…”
—-read the whole post though, please. It is so beautifully written!

Shopping and getting dressed have changed immensely. I cannot wear shirts that fit my belly and feel comfortable with myself, so I buy more loose fitting clothing or shirts that are banded at the bottom but loose over the belly. I’ve had to buy bigger pants because the skin just couldn’t comfortably fit inside my old ones. If I want to look nice for some reason, if I’m really trying to look pretty, I end up in tears. Then I remind myself that vanity is a sin, I get up and put on my “fat sucker inner” as I call my spanx that I have to wear to even somewhat resemble my old self, and get dressed. 

Like I said just above, I KNOW that vanity is a sin. I know that, but I struggle with it. I struggle with wanting to look like my old self, but not wanting to go back to the days before I had my babies. I struggle with feeling ugly, even in front of my very reassuring, sweet, accepting husband. It is a daily struggle to accept myself for who I am and to remember that what I look like doesn’t really matter. 

It is also a struggle not to be jealous of and bitter toward mothers whose bodies can return to, or very closely to, what they looked like before baby/ies. Add this to the list of things about which I compare myself to other moms. 

My photographer aunt is visiting this weekend, and we are planning to finally take family photos. I don’t know what I’ll wear, and I’m sure I won’t love how I look. I keep remembering this blog post I read awhile ago, though, and I know I’ll be thankful we took pictures as a family.

In summary, I don’t have anything as beautiful to say as the author of “These are the lines of a story” did in the first post I linked tonight. She kind of took the words right from my mouth with a lot of what she said. 
I’m thankful for my boys, and I would rather have a gross belly than no babies.
I’m aware that this whole post is a first world problem that wouldn’t even be an issue if I didn’t have such an easy, cushy lifestyle. If I had to hunt my food and carry my own water every day, extra belly skin would probably never cross my mind. 

If you’re reading this post and you have twin skin, I want to tell you that it’s ok to not love it. I don’t think anybody does. Someday, though, we’ll come to a better acceptance of our bodies as they are now. (Alternatively, you can get a tummy tuck. Lots of women do that nowadays.) I’m more ok with it now than I was a month ago, and I’m sure in the next few years that acceptance will continue to grow. 

I also know that I’m smaller than many people I know, and they’ll probably be irritated by this post. Please realize, though, this post isn’t about losing weight; it’s about trying to accept a part of me that I can never hope to change without a very expensive, painful, elective surgery – a surgery I don’t want. And to those of you who say, “it’ll go back” or, “do more planks”: you don’t know what I’m talking about. Ask a twin mom. Or a triplet or quad mom. Or a singleton mom whose belly grew more than is typical.

It’s skin. I can’t “fix” it. And I will accept it. 

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On the Move

CRAWLING!

My babies are crawling. Both of them, now, since Brendan started today. Poor Cason tried and tried for over a month, going backwards, then rocking on his hands and knees, trying to bear-crawl, etc. He finally mastered it just a couple days ago, and his speed is ever increasing. He doesn’t do the typical crawl, though. He kind of slides/scoots along sometimes, and others he bear-crawls. 
Brendan, who had zero interest in trying to crawl until about a week ago, started moving forward this afternoon. Because it is so new, it is still slow, but it is very methodical. Hand, knee, hand, knee, etc. 

I am SO PROUD of my big 8 month old boys. My heart just about burst with joy (as it does every single time they do anything, lol) to see them crawl. I am beyond thankful every day for my happy, healthy children. 

At the same time, I am a little bit sad. Every day they grow and change and it is so amazing to watch. They are such little miracles! But, every change brings with it the realization that my babies are growing up. Pretty soon, they’ll be able to walk, and run, and climb. 

I am so incredibly excited for this life with my boys, but I will miss their tiny baby stage. Image

Playing in their room

 

Saturday!

I really enjoyed today!

Doug and I were both home, so we played with the boys this morning and just relaxed. Then, for lunch, we went to a Mexican buffet place here in town. The boys did so well (they’re doing much better in situations like that these days, now that they can eat a lot of what we do and can sit up well in the high chairs at restaurants) and the food was very good!

Then we went to Walmart and got a ton of groceries. We like to stock up on the things we eat most frequently so that we don’t have to run to the store every night or even every week. 

This evening we spent more time together as a family and I baked some quinoa/egg/veggie breakfast muffins to eat this week & froze some for future use. Then, while I got the boys to bed, Doug grilled some chicken and sweet corn. We made this recipe we saw on Pinterest. It was yummy! 

I had decided earlier this evening I was going to bake a double batch of these sugar cookies that I made a couple weeks ago for our family reunion. They were a big hit there, and they’re delicious with or without frosting. So, I had gotten the butter for it out so it could warm to room temperature and then went on about our evening. By the time I got the boys bathed and in bed and Doug and I ate, it was 8:30. I quickly did the supper dishes and mixed up my dough, but since it was a double batch I’m still baking away at 10:30. I’m on my last pan, though! I’ll take some cookies to work Monday and freeze the rest so we can have them whenever we’d like some cookies. 

I’m exhausted (Cason didn’t sleep well last night, as usual) and can’t wait to get in bed, but I have a sinking feeling Cason will probably wake right when I get to that point 😦 

Sometimes he sleeps pretty well, though, so I guess I can hold out hope! 

Ahh….Inservice

The past three days have been spent in inservice meetings. To be perfectly honest, some of these are completely worthwhile and wonderful (like when my principal gives us time to meet with our colleagues and plan, since we have to stick to roughly the same schedule) and some of it is, in my opinion, quite worthless. 

It is frustrating to have so much work to do in your classroom, so many lessons to plan and create all necessary handouts/rubrics etc. for, and so much worthwhile information that needs covered, but be stuck sitting and listening to a two hour presentation that could have been summarized in twenty minutes. 

On the plus side, we’ve had an hour-long lunch break, which does NOT typically happen when you’re a teacher. 23 minutes. That’s how long lunch lasts at my school. There is a 4 minute passing period first, during which you walk your students to lunch, and a 4 minute passing period after, so that you can get to your room. 23 minutes, then, to walk to the staff room area and heat your lunch (if you brought something that needs heated) eat it, and use the restroom/anything else you need to do. This year, though, I’m SO LUCKY! I have my plan time in conjunction with lunch, so I’ll be able to eat at my own pace 🙂 I’m very, very excited! 

Tomorrow and Friday are work days. This means that will finish getting my classroom ready, work on lesson plans, and type up assignments etc. that I’ll need at the beginning of the year. This is not to say that I haven’t been spending hours on these things already. That hour long lunch break from the past three days, for instance, has been spent quickly scarfing a sandwich and then working in my room. 

The boys are doing wonderfully at daycare, as usual. They just love our daycare provider and other kiddos there, and they’re always so happy when I go to pick them up. Plus, she’s awesome and sends pictures to me via text so that I can stay updated on them throughout the day. I am SO thankful for her!

Brendan is a toy hog. He will take any toy within reach and keep them for himself. The boys have a big square activity table that is currently on the ground (we’ll put the legs on when they’re walking) and today Brendan had it pulled up onto his lap and away from Cason. Ornery boy!

Cason is SO SO SOOOOOO close to crawling! He has moved forward an inch or two a couple of times; I give it a week or two, max, and he’ll be going! He also started babbling today, saying “ba ba ba ya ya ya” which only Brendan had done to this point, so I was happy to hear it coming from Cason. 

Speaking of Cason, this is the second night in a row that he has gone to sleep at typical bedtime (between 6:30-7) and then gotten back up within thirty minutes. He, like yesterday, just filled his diaper and is chewing on a small, stuffed cow that “moos” when squeezed and staring at me. So, I’m off to clean his poopy rear and get him to go back to bed. 

Back to School

I have to go back to work tomorrow for a week of in-service, and the week after that, students return. 

I LOVE to teach, and once we get back into the swing of things I’m sure I’ll really enjoy the year. Right now, though, I’m just sad that I have to leave my babies again. Their daycare provider is awesome and I know the boys are well-cared for, loved, and happy there, but I will still miss them horribly. 

I’m also not ready to have to put on real clothes (i.e. not sweats/shorts and t-shirts) every day and make myself presentable. 

I am excited to meet this year’s students and sure we’ll have a great year!

Baptism, Fair Time, and Being Sick :(

I haven’t posted in awhile because we have been so busy!

Last week we headed to Leoti for the annual Wichita County Fair and some family time! Our fair includes both the 4-H fair and an awesome small town carnival that is kept affordable because everything is done by volunteers. 
Here is an article about it from this year. Every year we seem to be featured in some magazine or newspaper. One time it was a national one, but I can’t find the link to that right now :/
Anyway, it is truly an awesome week full of fun. Growing up, I was always in 4-H so the week was filled with showing livestock & having all my projects judged and then the carnival in the evenings. The carnival runs Wed, Thurs, and Fri from 6-midnight and Saturday pretty much all day following the parade. Because it is so great, people come from all over the US to our fair each year, and nearly everybody who grew up in Leoti comes back. Also, my family has our family reunion every year on the Sunday after the fair, so aunts, uncles, and cousins galore arrive throughout the week.
We drove there Thursday night and Friday I spent the day selling/promoting my Origami Owl business (www.erinmarshall.origamiowl.com) in the community building. 
Saturday, we took the kids to the parade and then had some lunch and down time before having them baptized! ImageHere is a picture of my sister and I with our kiddos before we headed to the church. It was so special to have the three of them baptized together & we are both godmother to the other’s child(ren) so it was great to do it at the same time. 

ImageCason being baptizedImageBrendan being baptized

ImageImageThe boys, Doug, and I with all their godparents: my brother, my sister, and Doug’s cousin and his girlfriend.

After their baptism, we had some more rest time for the kids and then we all went up to the carnival. The boys rode the train and carousel and we ate some fair food! ImageImage

Sunday was our family reunion, but I didn’t take any pictures! I don’t know what I was thinking 😦 
It was so wonderful to see all of our family again! Many of the relatives that come to the reunion are people we only see once a year. Its roots are my grandpa (who has passed away) and his siblings, 2 brothers and a sister, and all of their descendants. We have quite a large family, and the reunion every year is a time to eat yummy food (I made these cookies – they were a hit!) and catch up on each other’s lives. Each reunion, we have a brief “meeting” during which each family updates everybody on any new marriages or births, and the kids always put on a talent show. Such a fun day!

While we were in Leoti, Cason was terribly stuffed up. Since I was, too, I chalked it up to my allergies and assumed he had inherited them. After we got home though, it hasn’t let up. Today, I feel much worse with a horrible sore throat and I’ve used an entire box of kleenex. Cason is still sick but seems slightly better, and Brendan seems to be coming down with it as well. 
I guess it’s probably good to get it out of the way before I go back to work next week, but this was not how I envisioned us spending our last week of summer. I wanted to do fun things like play in their pool and go to the zoo, plus I really need to clean up the house so it is not so overwhelming when I get busy with work again. Also, I should spend some more time in my classroom.

When the boys are sick is one of the hardest times to have twins. They both need held, cuddled, rocked, fed, etc. but they’re getting so active that it is tough to do that with both at once.
Really – that is the only thing I don’t like about having twins, that sometimes it is hard to give them both what they need the instant they need it, and that makes me sad. Even on a regular day when nobody is sick, I hate that sometimes one has to cry while I care for his brother (and then, often, his brother cries when I put him down to care for the one who was originally crying!). 

Anyway, here’s hoping that our sickness passes quickly!

I Pray I Never Forget

7 months and 13 days, that’s how old my boys are today. A random age to be so sentimental, I suppose, but I’m sentimental nearly every day.

I cry tears of thankfulness as I look at their beautiful faces or as I rock one a bit before putting him in bed. I just melt when they wrap their arms around my neck, and my heart leaps with joy when they smile at me.

And so, my heart is filled with a mother’s prayer. I pray that I never forget all the amazing, wonderful things about my boys at this age. So many of these things can’t be caught on camera, but I pray they last forever in my memory.

I pray I never forget exactly how their little eyes light up and their cheeks dimple as they grin; how their giggles sound as we play together or as they laugh at each other; the curls in their hair; the rolls on their thighs; their perfectly shaped little mouths; their long, thick eyelashes; their beautiful skin.

I pray I never forget how Brendan sticks his tongue out when he’s happy, or screams at the TV or at each new page of a book, or raises his eyebrows and looks so adorably ornery, or could bounce all day in his jumper-often gently just on his right leg, or how he makes a noise like he can’t breathe when he’s excited, or how he “swims” with his arms as I put him in his crib.

I pray I never forget Cason’s crooked little smile, or his sweet slow grin when he likes what he sees on TV, or how he scratches his head when he’s sleepy, or the how he does a little plank in his efforts to crawl, or how he sticks his legs straight up for a second or two when I put him in bed, or the perfect arch of his neck as he touches his face to his mattress when he sleeps.

A million more tiny things. There are so many moments every day that I wish could just last forever, but I know there are a million more special moments waiting for us in the future.
And I pray that I never forget any of them.