Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy 39th Nikki

It is my sister, Nikki's, 39Th birthday, and I could not let the day go by with out making enough people aware of that fact! HEHE I am pretty sure it is the law for a younger sister to abuse her older sister on her 39Th birthday, and since I am always a rule follower, I felt compelled to include a blog about it. Don't worry, I won't embarrass her or myself any further, although a naked baby picture posted here would be adorable. (I looked for one, but I don't have any. SNAP!) I do not know how she is planning to celebrate this MOMENTOUS day, probably a quiet evening with her family. Although, with 4 kids I doubt it is ever very quiet around there except when they are eating! It is amazing to me that we are all getting close to 40, meaning my generation is 40-ish. I remember when my parents turned 30. I remember thinking that was so old. I remember my mom giving my dad a surprise 30th birthday party. My parents never had birthday parties, so I am sure that is why I can remember it, it had a huge impact on my life at the time. It was a fun day, although I was very little and do not remember much at all. We lived in the "little green house" ( we have silly names for all of the old houses we lived in, usually they go with the street name, but that one we stuck with the size and color. Everyone in my extended family will picture that house if you say the name of it, though!) We had amazing neighbors at that house, and our families all stayed friends for years and years. Anyway, none of this is very interesting and I am not even sure where I was going with it, other than to say that I can remember my parents in their 30's and thinking how old they were, and here I am in my mid-thirties. It doesn't seem possible. It doesn't bother me, don't get me wrong. It is just something strange to try to wrap your mind around. You know those kind of things, if you kind of take a step back and let your mind run off with the "notion". The kind of things that if you spend too long thinking about it your head might hurt, or you might start crying or laughing hysterically. It is just one of those things.

I had that experience yesterday. I was sitting in my Nutrition class and we are learning about Nutrition in Pregnancy and the lecture was about things that go wrong and all of the risks and stuff. Very depressing, even the professor mentioned that fact and said he hates that lecture, too. Of course, my mind was fighting my listening skills and it eventually won. I went back to that first ultra sound. The tech turned the monitor on and put the "wand" on my belly and I saw two heads, and then she reached up and pressed a button and the monitor went off, and I thought it must have been the last person that was there before me that had twins. Matt walked in just then and gave me a look like "You started with out me?" and I said we had just started, hadn't seen anything yet. We were joking around because I wanted to know the sex of the baby, but he didn't. And the tech finally interrupted us and said "There is something wrong and I have to tell you now." We said OK. I totally thought she was going to say "I see spina bifida" or maybe downs syndrome, which we would have been fine with. But when she said "It's twins and they are conjoined. I am so sorry." I just lost it. Matt didn't hear the "conjoined" part he just heard twins, and he got so excited. I was screaming, "What? What do you mean?" and he kissed me and said "Twins!" and told me to calm down we don't know anything yet. I said "Did you hear her, they are conjoined?" Then he too started crying. She said she was going to get a doctor and left the room. She came back in about 3 minutes and said "OK. The doctor is not coming in here. He told me to take some measurements and put you in a room. So we are not going to be recording this or taking any pictures. We are just going to get some measurements." She was clearly upset, and thinking back, I realize she had been put in a horrible position. It wasn't her job to explain all of this to us. I finally asked her where they were conjoined and she said at the torso and she gave us a little information, but she had never seen conjoined twins before so she just couldn't be sure about anything. The rest of the day was crazy, we waited for a few hours in a waiting room until they finally put us in a room. My doctor was not there that day, and the doctor we had an appointment with never did come in. My doctors' nurse did come in just to hug me, I had gone there for 10 +years. Finally another doctor came in and told us he could get us in to see the high risk doctor down stairs and did we want him to go down there and get an appointment for us, as they were not answering the phone since it was lunch time. Of course we said yes, and in his surgery scrubs, he went down there and then came back up and escorted us down there. That is where I made my mind go back to the lecture and stopped the trip down memory lane. I had a sob gripping my throat, but I swallowed hard and it passed. As I walked out of the building, I ran into a Chemistry T.A. I had for Gen Chem, Onamae. I loved her! She hugged me and asked how I was, and she said the most remarkable thing before I could even tell her how I was she said "You look really happy!" I told her I was and we caught up for a few minutes and then I headed home. The whole way home I reflected about what she must have saw in me. I am happy. God has given me the peace and strength AND the happiness I wanted and prayed for. I don't even know when it happened, it must have been gradual, not like I just woke up one day and there it was. I hadn't even realized until Onamae mentioned it though, but the dark cloud is lifted. I don't feel that tightening in my chest as often. Even though I miss the boys, my arms don't ache constantly to hold them. Not that I don't still have my moments, I do, but they are even fewer apart than the last time I figured out that I was better! I guess "being better" is something that is so gradual that I take it for granted until it is thrown in my face and I have to remember to thank God for it. God is good! I am just terrible at remembering to thank him for everything, not just the obvious things, but for especially the tiny things that mean the most and are actually the biggest and most important. Thank God he knows my heart and doesn't hold my mistakes against me. God is so very good.

Monday, January 26, 2009

O'Charley's, OFFENSIVE

I hate to have to even post this, but I am so angry right now I know it will actually make me feel better to get it off my chest. I don't know if any of you have seen the O'Charley's commercial, I just saw it today. It is what is supposed to be conjoined twin men working at a computer, although they are not identical so clearly they are not conjoined twins, but sit side by side and appear to have one shirt with two neck's, etc. One of the men gets fired, and they say something about the chicken being twice dipped or battered or something and one of the men says "that's good for us." and then later, they are shown at the same computer station and the one that was fired has a stupid disguise, a huge mustache, and a coworker asks "whose the new guy?" They are obviously teasing about the fact that they can not be separated and how only one of them was fired. It makes me so mad, but it also breaks my heart. It is a form of discrimination and it can not be tolerated. I see lots of "conjoined twin" jokes all around us and I do not understand why we let it go on. I will be the first to admit, before Joshua and Caleb I would not have known to do anything about it. I simply did not realize that conjoined twins actually happen, certainly not to me. But I would not have found it the least bit humorous, of this I am certain. It is not funny. No more funny than it would be if they made fun of anyone with a birth defect, a disability or some other "thing" that is completely out of the persons control and is so hurtful. You would think as a country we have come so very far. Why is it that we can still be so ignorant? I understand it is something that is very different, but that doesn't give anyone the right to tease. They have souls and feelings and wonderful spirits and talents to contribute to our society. And I am certain that God loves them every bit as much as he loves any one else. (Although sometimes I wonder if he didn't love them even more and that is why he took them so soon! Only the good die young, right?) I know beautiful girls that are still conjoined and they are so wonderful and so special and they have good lives with dreams and goals. I also know beautiful boys and girls that were once conjoined and are now separated, and they too are so wonderful and special and their family's would be forever devastated with out them. I know this is close to my heart, which is still so raw from the loss of Joshua and Caleb, but I think we all had so much to learn from the boys and from Melanie and Madison, too. This has to be one of the lessons: "Do not judge a book by it's cover!" ( I am sorry not to cite a source, but I have no idea where it began, but I do know my parents taught it to me and I always remembered it and tried to live by it.)
Jesus accepts everyone for who we are: "An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL THE PEOPLE." Jesus died for all of us, not just the people that fit nicely into the mold society has decided is correct.
I also know I can not hold on to bitterness, and that I must forgive all the people that hurt me and my children. You can read Genesis 33:1-11 and see how Jacob must have been surprised by Esau's attitude when he came back home. We actually considered Jacob and Esau as names for the boys because we did like the story, but once we read Joshua and Caleb's story, there was no contest! I learned from Jacob and Esau (I am sure because God knew I would have bitterness that he didn't want me to hold on to) that life can be so hard and hand you the short end of the stick. We can feel like life just isn't fair, as I know Esau did, but we can not hold onto bitterness. We can go to God and tell him how we feel and then ask him to forgive us and then we must forgive those that have hurt us. I have also had bitterness about the boys' death, because I am so human! But I ask God to forgive me, and then I am thankful for what I had with them and that they are in heaven and not in pain. I fight bitterness, not daily as I did early on, but a lot. I have to remind myself to count my blessings, which are so plentiful! So even as I write this entry in my blog, I am struggling with forgiving who ever had a part in the ad campaign, but I will get there. And I will be much happier and better off because of it. See... I knew this would help me! I feel so much better already. Thank you for putting up with my ranting an raving until I calmed down. Now, if any of you want to voice your own complain to O'Charley's, I happen to have the link so that you can go straight there quickly and easily! (Not to be mean to them, but just to educate them that conjoined twins are not to be made fun of! I feel strongly we have a responsibility to educate everyone)

I love you all, and I really appreciate your love and support and especially your prayers! XOXO

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr Day

Good morning! As promised, here are pics of Billie's Birthday party with her two very best friends, Brittany and Bailey. She had a wonderful time with them at McDonald's and then at the movies, too.

We are enjoying watching snow showers this morning. It is beautiful! Right now it is just beautiful in the air as it falls, but is starting to stick so if we end up with any amount I can photograph, I will share it with you guys. Billie has already asked if it keeps snowing can we go outside and play in it? So we have our fingers crossed around here!

Billie told us all about Martin Luther King, Jr last night. She learned about it and school and got to watch a really cool movie about it, too. We had the news on this morning and she asked me if I knew that he gave a speech in Washington D.C. She said was at the Lincoln Memorial. She wants to visit D.C. very bad, so we are going to have to work that into a family vacation before long. I loved D.C. when we were there for the boys. She was hoping we would decide to deliver there so she could live there for a couple weeks/months. Of course we were always a little worried about our decision to stay here and deliver, but now we know it was the right decision. The wonderful people in D.C. still call and check on us from time to time. We will always think so fondly of them. They gave us the information we needed and were so thoughtful and kind and knowledgeable. They treated us like we were royalty, too! We did get to tour a little bit one day, but I know there is a lot more that we want to see, too.

The boys would be six months old now, had they lived. I was thinking about that last night. Sometimes it seems like it should be longer than that because I can hardly remember what it felt like to hold them in my arms. Other times, it seems like it could not have been that long ago. It is so weird how your mind plays tricks on you like that. I still miss them so very much. We all do. Billie had a picture of them in the back seat of the car and showed them to her friends on our way to the movie. I heard her say "This one is Joshua and this one is Caleb." She is very proud of her little brothers and it made my heart just melt. I don't even know where she got that picture from, but it was one of the thank you cards that we sent out. She probably asked us if she could have it way back then, but I was so empty and hollow I just answered and do not even remember it at all. I know I would have thought that was so sweet and something to remember, but some days right after they died it was like I wasn't even in my body. I am so thankful to God that he brought me out of that trance -like state. I would not have wanted to live the rest of my life like that. God is so good, though, and he took care of us and Billie and helped us get stronger and whole again. Like I said before, I still miss them so much and I still wish I could hold them and kiss them again. But I know enough to realize just one kiss would never be enough, I would want more. I admit sometimes I try to put myself back to that day when they were born just so I can remember what it felt like to hold them. I have to eventually make myself stop because it hurts too bad. I hope one day I can look back and remember with out all the pain and just feel happy and thankful that God blessed us with our Miracle Twin Boys. Maybe one day.

Enjoy the pictures of Billie and her friends and have a wonderful Martin Luther King, Jr Day!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Inauguration Day

Hello, all. Happy Sunday. I am taking a break from studying to blog for a few minutes, but I don't have long. We are all doing good. Billie had an excellent day yesterday. We took two of her friends to McDonald's and to the movies to celebrate her 8th birthday. The girls all had a great time, and I will post pictures later this week for you guys. We saw the movie "Bolt" and it was so cute. I fell in love with the dog, which was voiced by John Travolta. It was a great little story and had some wonderful characters in it. It was in 3-D, too, so the girls had extra fun with that. Billie will turn 8 the same day we celebrate our new President taking office. I have had so much fun telling her this year about the day she was born. She really has a better understanding this year of the whole election process and what it means (a little more) to be President of the United States. While I labored with her we watched a light snow fall outside the hospital room and watched George W. be sworn in for his first term. I have always found it so neat that she was born on Inauguration Day. At church this morning, Dr. Crouch was talking about how he was actually at that Inauguration and I leaned over and told Billie "He is talking about what happened on the day you were born." And she perked up a little and listened a little better. So Tuesday we will celebrate a new President in office, but we will also celebrate our baby turning 8! I can't really believe that number, 8. I remember as clear as can be bringing her home from the hospital, which was on January 24, 2001. Nalla, our Akita, was a little nervous. She hadn't been around babies very much. But she settled down soon enough, and her and Billie are close, wonderful friends now. Dogs don't come any sweeter than Nalla, and Billie has always been so good with animals, too. It just worked out, I guess. It is amazing that Billie is 8, though. Although by some of the things she says, you might think she is more like 18. She is definitely very mature for her age, due a lot to life experience, no doubt, but also from being around grown ups most of the time. I hear her say things sometimes, and it might as well have come from my own mouth. I have noticed it a lot lately, and I am trying to watch what I say around her more. Not that it is bad things, I don't say bad things, especially around her. She just listens and remembers everything I say, whether I know she is listening or not. It makes me a little sad sometimes, because I want her to be a kid for goodness sakes!

I have taken a long enough break, so it is back to the books for me. I hope you all are doing great and will be back this week to blog more, I promise. And I mean it!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone. We are getting back into the swing of things here. Matt got back yesterday from a ski trip to Snow Shoe, West Virginia. Billie started back to school yesterday, and had a wonderful day ( and a hard time waking up!) I started back to school today. Lots going on, and it will take me a few weeks to get used to my new schedule and new classes. It is so nice to be all back to our normal routine, though. We are all creatures of habit, and we do much better as a family when we have a nice schedule to follow. I am not very organized unless I have to be, so it is especially good for me to have a routine to follow.

Billie has been writing a book over her break, and it is amazing. It is for a contest through the school system, and I am not going to give it away here. She is quite a story teller, though, and as her mother I could not be more proud of every word of it. She has worked so hard on it, too. I haven't helped her at all. She has asked me for some spelling help, but I am not allowed to help. So I have answered her back, "Well, think about it. Sound it out, and try your hardest. Take your time." She has been able to spell every word almost perfectly that way. She has struggled this year with spelling, but now I think it is because she is always in such a rush to get done. When she takes her time, she is actually a very good speller! I am very proud of her. She also picked an amazing topic and reason for writing. She wanted to write something that will help other kids, and I think it will. I know I am her mother and am totally and completely biased. I still think for a 7 year old second grader, it is an amazing book. We will see how it gets judged!

We spent New Year's Eve at home, Matt got the stomach bug that I had just after Christmas, so he was feeling terrible and we were afraid he was contagious still. We fell asleep on the couch and Billie woke us up just before midnight! She is so funny! She will not fall asleep watching TV. I think it would keep her up for days if we let her watch it that long. But we all said "Happy New Year" and shared hugs and kisses, and were tucked tight in our beds by 12:10 AM! Matt left the next morning for his ski trip, still feeling weak and yucky. I am shocked that the people he went with didn't get it, but I guess the contagious stage was over. I am sure they are all thankful for that. He had a wonderful time skiing, and I know he had fun with his friends. He took a bad fall, but just came out a little sore and bruised. Lucky for him he was wearing a helmet, from what he says. He is back at work today, I know that it will be hard to get back into the swing of things.

We are so thankful Billie never got the stomach bug, guess bleaching the bathrooms over and over again helped with that. We are thankful we are all healthy again and ready for an amazing 2009. Who knows what this year will bring? Love and Happy New Year to all!!