This is a big month. BIG. So many things going on. We’ve been uber busy. So many stressors tempting me to be stressed. I’m working hard to not crumble under the strain, but let me give you a synopsis.
The triplets turned one. YEAH!! Now - CRY!!!!! Where does the time go? In some respects, this is hard to swallow. My children are no longer tiny infants. How’d that happen? With triplets – breastfeeding triplets – and a homeschooled 8 year old, many days have faded away in survival mode. And now that they are gone, I beat myself up for not savoring the days. Days with my last babies. We’re still nursing and the babies are growing well. All are cruising the furniture. Alayna is up to 6 steps! All of them are waving hi and bye and clapping. Alayna and Caleb both say ‘Uh-oh!’ and they both say, ‘What?’ – Strange, I know. It’s because I often pop my head around the corner or the playroom and loudly yell "What?" when everyone is jabbering away. Alayna is our most interactive one, loving to copy us, play games, and unfortunately, talk back to me when she’s mad. I don’t know her exact choice of words, but I KNOW she’s mad! The babies love to fight and play and laugh with each other. I’ve even seen 2 signs of affection from Alayna and Caleb – both offering a pacifier to an upset sibling! (Oh yeah, melt my heart!) Charlie remains more baby-like compared to the other two. Charlie’s hair’s been growing quickly, making for 3 little hair cuts already. He still struggles from time to time settling down at nap. He adores Momma’s milk! Caleb is still the cuddler, with expressive eyebrows, and is very sensitive to when the others get disciplined. Alayna still adores eating black beans, playing peek-a-boo, and giving kisses. She remains the observant one, never willing to sit still for even a second in your lap for fear she’ll miss out on something happening in the room.
Alayna weighed in at 17lbs 13oz. Caleb was 16lbs 3oz (He’s so tiny!). And Charlie was 19lbs. The babies still haven’t had grains. We’ll be starting this week with yogurt to see how Alayna does with it considering she has a mild milk allergy. Then, we’ll start delving into some grains and then bananas and eggs (Alayna’s allergic to those as well.)
We enjoyed a drop by birthday party for the triplets at our church with some friends, mostly from small group. It was so nice to celebrate their lives with the friends who prayed for the adoption, my pregnancy and our first year. It wasn’t an extravagant to-do, but fun nonetheless. We decorated with blue, pink, and green polkadots and balloons. We set up their newborn pictures everywhere. Friends and family all contributed food and we had a good ole’ time.
Last Thursday I found myself at the doctor because of an ovarian cyst. I hate those stupid things. The doctor says it’s my body’s last hurrah; one last confirmation that I need my hysterectomy on Friday. Doctor says the only thing to do is to move up the surgery for relief. Small snag though. The surgeon is in Guatemala. So, I wait…
Friday, mom and dad graciously took the triplets to the pediatrician for their 12 month check-up. Only triplet moms can truly relate to the massive undertaking of taking 3 crabby, hungry, mobile babies to the doctor for simultaneous strip-downs, weigh-ins, measurements, developmental surveys, questionnaires, a shot, and then exams. It’s tougher than any marathon you’ve ever attempted!
We had huge plans in the makings for a celebration for Audrey to commemorate her finish of 3rd grade and her accomplishments for the year and on her achievement tests. But because of the cyst and back spasms, we curtailed the plans a bit. We took her to Red Robin for lunch, out to buy shoes, the park, and then to Gigi’s for a cupcake.
Sunday we had to head out of town for a wedding. We decided last minute to leave the babies with a sitter. 9 1/2 hours is a lot to pay for a sitter of triplets! But, I couldn’t imagine taking them to an outdoor wedding in the heat for that length of time.
Today was the delivery of cabinets, sinks, countertops. My garage is full of tiles, grout, faucets, showerheads, drawer pulls, light fixtures, etc. Paint chips are pinned to the wall in hopes that one just magically reveals itself to me as the ‘right’ one. Renovations start on Friday. Guess what? We still don’t have the tub or toilet for one of the bathrooms.
LIFE WITHOUT SADIE
All throughout this last week, we’ve been mourning the loss of our dear dog Sadie. We had to put her down, after nearly 12 years of faithful companionship. She was a great dog. We loved her dearly. No doubt, she is Doug’s and my dog – especially mine. She ‘s been with us since before we had children. She heard all my tears of infertility. She was with us through church changes, job switches, 12+ surgeries, death of loved ones, the birth of all 4 of our kids, and every other major milestone of our marriage. Now that she is gone, I realize just how much I talked to her every day, all day long. I miss her warmth, her softness, her smiling panting, her tail wagging, the sounds of her ringing the bell when she needed to go outside, her snoring at night, her shadowing me throughout the day, her help licking up spills on the kitchen floor….. After a week, the house still feels eerily quiet when all the children are in bed. Doug and I feel the void especially at bed time, morning, and of course, after dinner, when she always begged Doug for a rub down while he drank his evening coffee. I think it’ll be months before I wake up and step out of bed without picking up my feet to make sure I don’t step on her. It’s strange how at times I could swear I hear her, feel her, or see her still about the house. I’d be liar if I didn’t tell you that I’ve cried a river this last week as I’ve missed her, longed for her, questioned our decision, remembered funny stories, and recalled the whole ordeal of taking her to the vet and holding her while they put her to sleep. It’s just an animal, I tell myself. Yet it’s strange how much she loved me and I loved her. It’s ironic that an animal can be more faithful and reliable than some friends and family. Life will go on, but for now, it still hurts and sometimes, there will just be a few tears.
This week we had to sign over and release the one last embryo that is Alayna, Caleb, and Charlie’s biological sibling. I could never really adequately explain all the thoughts and emotions around this. It’s been far more gut-wrenching than I could’ve imagined and so, I do not think it’s even appropriate for me to open my soul for an explanation. Suffice it to say, it has broken my heart. That embryo was never ‘ours';it was simply reserved for us should we decide to have another embryo transfer. I cannot due to health reasons. I never agreed to adopt a family. That’s not the way the program works. In the vast frozen sea of hundreds of thousands of embryos, I attempted to save 1. God happened to grant me 3 out of 4. But it ‘feels’ like I’m giving up a baby. It ‘feels’ like I am giving that one up for adoption. I know that’s not reality. I know it. But when I look into Alayna, Caleb, and Charlie’s eyes, I see little people. Diverse and yet similar. And my brain wanders to that last little Korean/Swedish baby of unknown origin and I wonder if it’s a boy or a girl. Does it look Asian like Charlie? Or is it more Swedish like Alayna and Caleb? I’ve begun to not see it as an embryo. But as my kids’ sibling. And I want to be his/her momma too. I wonder what my triplets will ask me someday. And wonder if they’ll ask me about that one. I won’t even know if it ever got adopted or if it ended in a live birth. And I hate that. I know that I need to keep the whole thing in proper perspective. I know that it doesn’t make sense to take that one. That one is no different than the hundreds of thousands of unwanted frozen embryos out there waiting for a mom and dad. I can’t save every baby. I could never have known that I would end up with triplets. I didn’t adopt that family of embryos. I randomly said to start with that group of embryos. And it worked out that I got 3 of the 4. I also have to remember that I it’s not even possible to go through a transfer cycle with just 1 embryo. The NEDC doesn’t do it like that. AND it’s all a moot point since I’m about to have a hysterectomy this week. Argghh! But I find my momma heart yearning for this child. Yearning to teach it about God. To show him/her to the cute triplet siblings it has. I need to think of it as letting it go so that it has the opportunity to have life. But, it ‘feels’ like I’m rejecting it, denying it life.
This whole situation leads into my bittersweet decision to have a hysterectomy. I knew 10 years ago that a hysterectomy was in my future. The doctor told me that I would never make it to 30 without one. I’m 34. And I had triplets at 33! I should view it all as an accomplishment -a super special extension that God granted to us. I should be thrilled to leave the constant misery of bleeding, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, pain, surgeries, medications, inflammation, and sickness behind. And I am. Since I was 17, this is really all I’ve ever known. A constant pain in the butt. A constant thorn in my side. And so I’m eagerly anticipating to know what life will be like. I’m anxious to know what energy lies in wait for me since I won’t have the constant inflammation of aggressive, stage 4 endometriosis draining my immune system of all its resources. I may feel like a new woman! My doctor feels as though much of my aches and pains, fatigue, propensity for catching bugs, my inability to recover from illnesses may all be rooted in my endometriosis. He says to think of it the same way as if I had strep throat for the past 18 years. A constant infection my body is fighting. And according to 3 specialists, I have the worst endo they’ve ever seen (Go me!!!). Since I’ve now been fighting endo more than half of my life, I’ve forgotten what healthy means. So, we shall see…..
But then there’s the ‘bitter’ part of the bittersweet decision to have my surgery. No more babies. For 13 years of our marriage, Doug and I have poured countless hours, tears, and dollars into preserving my fertility and trying to have babies. This is all our marriage has ever known. Yes, we’re eager to leave that weight behind us, but it seems counterintuitive now to choose to end it all. We pined for kids for more than a decade and now we’re putting finality to it all. I know that there is less than 1% chance I’d ever conceive again, so it shouldn’t make much of a difference. But it does. Folks look at our brood and the chaos we call home and ask, ‘Isn’t your family complete?’ or ‘Aren’t you done?’. Well, yes. I guess. For now anyway. For now, we aren’t pursuing more kids. But I know , sooner than later, the ‘I want a baby’-blues will hit. I don’t know what the future holds and if God leads us down an adoption road. For now, we’re done! But I hate the finality of never being able to carry a child. Never again will I feel a baby wiggle, kick, and hiccup inside of me. And I hate that. I hate that nothing about our family has been up to us. Never in our hands. But I suppose that’s just my type A, control freak, sinful nature rearing it’s bogusly ugly head. Some families have it so easy – having children when they want, good health, with the wife having a natural journey of fertility, hormones, menopause, etc. Not me. And so I guess I wish I were just a smidge normal. Funny huh? Still wishing to be normal. You’re reading this and thinking I should’ve given that up years ago, eh!?
So, I’m nervous about the pain of the surgery. Our doctor says this will be a real ‘doozy’. He will be removing my uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. He’ll tighten up the ligaments and fix the cervix. This is repair work all necessary since carrying the triplets reeked havoc on my insides, messed with my bladder, and caused a prolapsed uterus. The doctor will also be removing the endometriosis. Fun times. It’s especially ‘fun’ when I’m faced with continuing to nurse the triplets. This has become a huge concern for me, a real matter of prayer. I really need surgery to be scheduled at a good time on Friday so that I can nurse the babies before I leave in the morning. I need to not be kept waiting all day for surgery without being able to eat and drink. Nursing triplets makes me one thirsty, hungry girl. I need the proper medications that allow me to nurse and not have to pump and dump my milk. And I need the babies to be calm and obedient, not wiggly on me when they go to nurse.
We’ll be staying with my folks for 2 weeks while I recover and renovations are done in our house. This is also stressful for me. I hate knowing that I’ll be putting my parents out for such a long time. I hate knowing that while I’m laid up somewhere else, strangers will be in my house gutting bathrooms, tracking dust everywhere, cutting out portions of my kitchen ceiling, and traipsing through my bedroom all day long – without me there to monitor it all. I’m praying my mom can keep up with the pace of the kids and that Doug can balance work, a sick wife, and renovations at the house. I’m also praying that the triplets sleep well in their pack and plays for 2 weeks. Recovery doesn’t sound so sweet with 3 irritable babies who hate their make-shift beds.
I’m also concerned for Audrey. In her 8 years of life, I’ve had 12 surgeries. I’m not the ‘fun’ mom I so often want to be for her. I dream of being able to let her be on a swim team, take piano lessons, get to church Sunday night, and have gobs of sleepovers. But my health doesn’t permit me to be like all her friends. I hate that I’m not like my friends – but I’m a little older and have had a lifetime to realize that my health doesn’t permit much of a social life. She’s only 8. She’ll be missing Memorial Day on the river with small group. And more than likely, she’ll miss Back Yard Bible Club at our church. She LOVES those. LOVES them, I tell you. And Momma has to say ‘sorry’ AGAIN.