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Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Pink Lines: One Year Later

It was exactly one year ago today - Halloween of 2010 - that I woke up with a headache way worse than was warranted by the one glass of wine I had with dinner the night before. It was one year ago today that I looked at a calendar and counted days and thought to myself "hmmm... maybe?" but tried not to get my hopes too up again. It was one year ago that I peed on a little plastic stick and put it down on the sink and got into the shower. It was one year ago today that when I pulled that shower curtain back I could see it from clear across the bathroom. It was one year ago today - Halloween of 2010 - that two pink lines changed my life.

Ok, so maybe it was more like 6 pink lines and one digital 8-letter word. (And maybe, not pictured here are the twelve other tests I took over the course of the next week until I got in to see the doctor). The fact is, those lines were there. And my life was changed.

Those lines held so much promise for me back then, and to look at them now is so bittersweet. We had been trying for 11 long months to get pregnant and those lines were the physical manifestation of 11 months of hope and tears and "good things come to those who wait" and trying (and most of the time failing) to trust in God's good timing. Those lines held dreams of tiny clothes and nursery designs and a swelling belly.

I did not know then that I was had not one, but two sweet little poppy seeds nestled in the depths of my belly. I did not know then that not even five months later I would end up in the hospital, and I did not know then that my sweet babies would be born sixteen weeks before they were supposed to be. I just knew then that I was pregnant and I loved everything about it.

The last year obviously did not go the way I had planned when I first saw that second line. It has, without a doubt, been the hardest year of my life. But it also has, without a doubt, been the very best year of my life.

Just look at us now.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seven Months!

My not-so-bitty babies,

WHAT?!? How are we already on the downward slide to one? I can't even wrap my mind around it.

We're finally (FINALLY) moving out of that "newborn" stage. Don't get me wrong - I loved the newborn stage, but any preemie mom will tell you that with a preemie baby, the "newborn" stage can feel ETERNAL. Except now you two are hitting milestone after milestone and it feels like someone has pushed the fast-forward button. Slow down! (Apparently mom wants to have her cake and eat it too. I do love cake.)

Oh my Sassy, you're still so tiny - less than 10 pounds - but your personality just gets bigger and bigger. You wail so hard you look like a tomato with eyelashes but as soon as we give you what you want set things right for you, you flash this ridiculous grin. It's killer, and it's going to always get you what you want take you places. You're new thing is standing, you don't ever want to just sit anymore, you're always pushing up on your chunky little legs and looking around like the world looks TOTALLY different from up there. You really are the most awesome little tiny girl.

Grayson, my Smooch. You are the most kissable baby ever. You're just chunky and snuggly and loveable. You're perfectly happy to just be propped up and observing the room; you're such an old soul in a tiny body and I just am waiting for the day when you tell me all your secrets. You make me work hard for your smiles but when you give them they totally make my day! You take your time doing things but then you get them perfect on the first try. You're totally the tortoise to Audrey's hare.

I love you two so much. You're the very best part of my every day.

To the moon and back-
Your Mama

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Day Late and a Dollar Short (AND A WINNER!)

I know, I know... I was supposed to announce my winner yesterday.

I'm sorry!

BUT! I have a really good reason!

We're famous! Our local paper called me at the end of last week - the NICU my babies stayed in is expanding, and they wanted to interview a recent grad as part of their article. And they chose us! I was super super flattered and well, I love our NICU so of course I jumped at the chance. The only problem? I was out of town Thursday-Sunday and they wanted to run the article today. Which means yesterday was a blur of last minute cleaning our messy just-back-in-town house, making myself look presentable, and putting cute clothes on the babies for the paper's photographer to come take our picture. (Alright, alright, and then my sister came over and we tried to make our own weave. That's a whole 'nother story for a whole 'nother day.) Point of the story: yesterday was uber busy, which is why I didn't get to do this post.

But I'm here now!

Comment #13 was from thefloyds10! Yay Savannah!!! Email me (dingle.lee at gmail.com) and we'll get a hat going for sweet Noah :)

I'd like to extend a big huge THANK YOU to everyone who entered and promoted my giveaway! I had a lot of fun and I couldn't have done it without all of you! Annnnd a big HELLO to all my new readers... leave me a comment and tell me a little bit about you!

PS If you'd like to read the article featuring my sweet babies, you can see the whole thing online here!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Later, gator!

Chris is taking me and the babies to Florida to visit my parents for my birthday, so I'll be gone through the weekend. I can't wait to introduce Grayson and Audrey to their great-grandmas and put their little tootsies in the ocean for the first time! This is totally what life is all about :)

***And don't forget about my giveaway! I'll be choosing the winner on Monday when I get home!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Saturday is a Special Day...

It's my birthday!!! And in honor of my birthday, I am so excited to be hosting...

And yall... I am really pumped about this. I've teamed with a longtime, very dear friend of mine and her mom who run a sweet little shop called Nene's Creations.

Nene's Creations makes the cutest hand-crocheted hats. As a homecoming gift, she sent me these ADORABLE owl hats, modeled here by my also adorable (and napfighting) (and therefore also very cranky) babies.

SO CUTE, right? She has all kinds of really fun hats.

Sock Monkey! Dinosaur! Giraffe! I love them all!!!

Ok, and I know what some of you are thinking. "But Jessica," you're thinking. "I don't have a baby. Why would I enter this giveaway?" Well...

Nene's Creations has offered to CUSTOM-MAKE a hat for one of my lucky readers!

That means YOU pick the size, YOU pick the colors, and YOU pick the design. Want an adult sized brown hat with a pink flower? Done. Infant sized purple owl hat? You got it! Adult sized sock monkey? You rock that sock monkey.

All you have to do is be a follower here at Double Everything! Leave me a comment on this entry to let me know you're around :)

-- "Like" Nene's Creations on Facebook here. Leave me a comment and let me know which hat in her photo album is your favorite.

-- Tweet about this giveaway (include a link to this post) and leave me a comment with a link to your Twitter update.
-- Post about this giveaway on your Facebook (again, with a link) and leave me a comment with a link to your Facebook status.

-- (Worth TWO entries!) Grab my snazzy new button and blog about my giveaway! Leave me TWO comments with a link to your blog post.

Leave me one comment for each entry. On Monday, October 24, I'll use random.org to pick one comment to be my lucky winner! GOOD LUCK!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I'm doing my very first ever guest post for the fabulous Laura over at Between the Lines... go check it out!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In Medical Terms: 6 Months

It's been awhile since I've done a big update on where the babies are, medically speaking. Really, I don't think I've done one big comprehensive health post since they were born! (Mom blog fail right there, huh?) We just had our 6-month check up, so let's catch you all up!

Grayson at birth was 1 pound 8 ounces and 12.5 inches, at 6 months is TEN POUNDS, 6 ounces and 22.75 inches!

Audrey at birth was 1 pound 5 ounces and 12.25 inches, at 6 months is finally (finally) (praise the Lord and pass the ammunition) (FINALLY) right at NINE POUNDS! And 21.5 inches long.

Both babies got their full round of 6 month vaccines plus their flu shot. Four shots apiece! They wailed like banshees but I don't blame them one bit. I thought Audrey was having a bad reaction to hers, but like I said, it was something else. Thank goodness, because that was miserable and I wouldn't want to do that with every round of shots!

Grayson was FINALLY cleared at the retina specialist! Audrey was cleared at our first visit two weeks after we left the NICU, but Grayson has made slow progress and has had to go back once a month since then. His oxygen requirements were a little higher when they were teeny tiny in the hospital, which made his eyes mature a bit slower. But hooray, no more miserable retina checks! We go to a pediatric opthamologist starting in January to do routine checks for nearsightedness. Side note: I'm really curious to see how they check a baby for nearsightedness. It's not like they can cover one eye and read the letters.

The babies had their first physical therapy evaluation back in August and were right on par for milestones for their adjusted age of one month then. Preemies are notorious for being behind on physical development due to laying in a hospital bed for so long, so that was a huge relief to hear! We have been doing our little exercises every day though and we go back in November for a re-evaluation. I can't wait to show off what we can do!

Speaking of what we can do, the babies have been hitting milestones left and right lately! So far, they can: hold their heads up during tummy time (Audrey more than Grayson, although I think it's more of a "want to" thing than a "can do" thing. A is nosey and G is lazy!), are starting to push up on their arms, will bear weight on their legs when held up, can track from almost across the room now, are smiling and cooing socially, and are showing interest in toys. They are alllllmost rolling over and have tried to reach for a toy once or twice now. Laughing and interacting with toys are next, and I cannot freaking wait for those!

Late-Night Friday Confessional


I'm linking up with Mamarazzi for my first ever Friday Confessional... here goes nothin!

I confess... that I do realize that it's after midnight so technically this is Saturday Confessional. But we won't get caught up in the details.

I confess... that a friend told me the other day that I've never really "let it all out" here on the blog before. And that got me thinking, and re-reading.

And I confess... she was right. The last 6 months have been way emotional for me. And while I've touched on it here and there, I've mostly just kept yall updated about the babies.

So here goes.

I confess... that I am ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED of losing my babies. I know it's a fear that every mom has, but I think I take mine to the extreme.

I confess... that even though we are three months removed from the NICU, the fear of losing my babies still brings me to tears. Regularly. As in, at least once a day. I came so close to it, so many times, that sometimes I can't wrap my mind around the fact that we're not still constantly on edge with their health.

I confess... that I constantly play it out in my mind. Different scenarios, rushing to the hospital or frantic 911 calls. There are so many things that can go wrong when you have babies. Especially sick babies.

I confess... the doctors told us we were ready to ditch the monitors but I begged for them to let us keep them. I love our doctors for understanding.

And I confess... that I have spent more than one night sitting up all night - actually, literally, until 5 in the morning all night long - watching those monitors. Just to be reassured that they were, indeed, still breathing.

And finally, I confess... that I don't see an end in sight for feeling better about it.

But I DO feel better for talking about it. I know I'm crazy. But I think I've earned it in this respect. And I love you all for letting me confess :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Fall, Yall!

There are a lot of things I love about being a mom. Sleep smiles, for one. They are the cutest. Chub rolls on baby legs, too. Bathtimes are SO fun. And I love the way their heads fit in the crook of my neck when we snuggle.

Like I said, I really really love being a mom.

But I think what my favorite thing about being a mom is all the "firsts" I get with my babies. And ok, so maybe they're only six months old. And maybe adjusted they're really only closer to three-month-olds, so they really won't remember any of these "firsts". And maybe I love them so much because I missed out on so many firsts in the NICU. But truth is, I LOVE doing things with the babies that they have never done before. Even if it is something I've been doing for years, it is SO FUN to see it through a mother's eyes for the first time.

Now that Fall is here, and the holidays are just around the corner, our "firsts" are about to go into overdrive and I cannot wait! We kicked off the season with...

A visit to the pumpkin patch!!! We dressed in our fall finest, we ate boiled peanuts and cheap hotdogs (ok, Chris and I ate boiled peanuts and cheap hotdogs), we looked at the scarecrows, we picked out pumpkins! We didn't stay long because it was kind of chilly, but we had so much fun regardless. I can't wait to carve our pumpkins!

PS - How cute would these pictures be in a MixBook photobook? So cute. My dear friend Whitney is giving one away at her blog, We're Making History! I entered to win... you should go visit and enter, too! (Ok maybe not enter, because then that would lessen my chances of winning. But DO go visit Whit, she's awesome and she has really cute dogs and a really cute fiance!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How to Talk to a NICU Mom

Let me begin this post by saying that the love and support I was shown throughout our NICU stay was beyond overwhelming. Some days, the kind words were the only thing that kept me going. I will forever be indebted to those of you who supported us.

That being said, there were also things said to us that were insensitive and unintentionally hurtful. It is easy to brush it off as being too sensitive, but let's be honest - this is probably one of the most sensitive times in a mother's (and a family's) life. Words are powerful to a vulnerable person.

It's no secret that the NICU is terrifying and overwhelming. I hope you never need this, but should you find yourself face-to-face with a NICU mom, here is a little primer for how to talk to her.

Me and Audrey, April 25

-DO ask about her baby. Congratulate her on the birth of her child. Preemie moms miss out on some of this because people are afraid to ask for fear of upsetting her, but even though her baby is sick it is still her baby. She is proud of her baby and she wants to talk about him. So ask her, and then listen.

-DO also ask her how she is doing, and don't settle for a half-hearted "fine" for an answer. Most people's concern is directed at the baby, as it should be, but someone needs to worry about mom, too. We have a lot of conflicting emotions that we probably need to talk through but won't acknowledge unless we're made to. I will forever hold a place in my heart for the friend who looked me in the eye and said "How are you doing? No, how are you REALLY doing?"

-DON'T try to make light of her situation. You may think that comments like "Sleep while you can!" or "At least you get free childcare for the newborn months!" or "At least you didn't have to go through the uncomfortable part of pregnancy!" are helpful, but really they hurt so, so, much. Because honestly? A NICU mom a) probably is up every 2-3 hours pumping and/or calling for baby updates, so they're not sleeping much anyways; b) babies that come home on or around their due date are still developmentally newborns, regardless of their age, so we still get the newborn stage on TOP of the NICU months; and c) I would cover every inch of my skin in stretch marks and spend years with something wedged in my ribs if it meant trading that for our three-month hospital stay. There is nothing good about having a baby in the NICU, and while we appreciate the effort please don't try to pretend.

-DO offer to help. You can ask what you can do, but don't expect a clear-cut answer. We live in a constant fog with hospital stuff taking up so much of our minds we're lucky we remember our own names. Your best bet is to offer something specific - walk dogs, mow yards, cook meals. These are the things that fall to the wayside amidst the hospital hustle, so it's really nice to not have to worry about them.

I really hope this helps someone out there. Preemie mom friends, is there anything you'd like to add?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Today, Not Tomorrow

Dontcha just love it when God taps your selfish self on the shoulder and teaches you a big ol' lesson? Yeah, me too.

When you are in the NICU, you learn to really cherish the little moments with your babies because really, moments is all you get with them in there. And when my babies came home, I clung to that philosophy. I cherished the middle of the night feedings, spent hours snuggling, and once my mom went home, my house fell to ruins because I was too busy watching the babies sleep to do silly things like vacuum.

After a few weeks though, life caught up with me and I started to try to get back into the swing of things. Taking care of babies is just one part of being a Stay-At-Home-Mom, right? And somewhere in the mix, snuggling babies to sleep turned into "OMG PLEASE NAP SO I CAN FOLD THESE CLOTHES!"

And then Audrey got sick.

Sad, sick, feverish baby

It wasn't anything major, in fact, I thought it was a reaction to her 6 month shots. But her high fever and subsequent rash turned out to be a case of Roseola, which, in normal babies, is usually no big deal. But my babies aren't normal babies. And the chest congestion that can come with Roseola landed Audrey, who had been oxygen-free for three weeks, back on the cannula for four days.

She's fine now, but man was that a tough, scary pill for this mama to swallow.

I have read other preemie moms make comments along the lines of "I went X amount of days without my baby, we'll spend the rest of our lives making up that lost time." I can understand that train of thought, but the fact of the matter is you're not guaranteed that time at all. Just because your babies spent three months in the NICU does not mean that you will have 3 months or 3 years or 30 years with them at home. Tomorrow is not promised to us, we all know that but I think it's easy for us to forget that.

Enjoy your loved ones today. Snuggle your babies, hug your mom, kiss your spouse, call your sister. Life is so temporary, yall. You won't regret loving someone while you're here.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 1 John 3:14

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Six Months!

My sweet little (BIG!) babies,

Did I really just type that? HOW are you SIX MONTHS OLD already? I feel like when I wake up tomorrow I'll be sending you to Kindergarten, then next week should be college if we're following the same trend. I know it's a common parent refrain, but time with you is going by so very fast!

It's been a roller coaster six months, for sure. The first half filled with hospitals and heartbreaks and hope, tubes and needles for you and Kleenex for me; and the second half filled with the joy (and growing pains!) of settling into our lives - at HOME - together!

It's not uncommon for me to be going about our day as normal and, out of nowhere, fill up with the kind of tears that can only come from that mixture of gratitude and awe and love that only moms know. You two have just fit so seamlessly into our world, it's like all these years we were walking around with this giant twin-shaped hole in our lives and you came along and filled it perfectly.

(Even Lexi agrees!)

I can't believe it's been a whole half-year since you were born - so tiny, so fragile and so full of fight. I look at you now with all your chub rolls and smiles and personality I am brought to my knees with how lucky I am, how amazing you are, and how great God is.

I love you two so very much, all the way to the moon and back-
Your Mama