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Mother's Day

Happy Mother's day!  Since this is my first Mother's Day, I thought I'd share a personal post with you guys today all about my twin girls.

Ella and Paige were born 2 months early on December 17th.  They were only 1.7 and 3.6 pounds when they were born and had to be in the NICU for over 2 months (you can read all about my NICU experience below this post under "Sprout").  

During that time, I never would have guessed that I would be where I am today - at home with two perfectly healthy babies!  I am blessed, to say the least.  

Anyone who knows me knows that before I had kids, I was NOT a baby person.  I was never baby hungry, I didn't really love holding other people's babies, and honestly I was kind of embarrassed to one day be called a "mom".   I always thought "moms" were so old.  Yes, I know I sound like a terrible person.
All I can say is that I was EXTREMELY naive!   

During my first 4 years of marriage, I like to think that Kollin and I did a lot of cool things together. We by no means have traveled the world, but we definitely tried to check as many things off of our bucket list as we could.  We went to the iconic Lake Louise, went to the Sasquatch Music Festival to see Sigur Ros play, went to Disneyland (more than once), stayed at a treehouse hotel in the Redwoods, visited St. Thomas, Hawaii, Mexico, and New York, and pretty much were doing fun things with our friends every single day.  

On top of that, I've also put a lot of time and effort into my career.  Doing hair has always been my passion, and it has been so fun to see my career grow and to share my passion with others.  I've traveled all over teaching classes to salons and doing hair for weddings, I've been recognized by international companies like Sephora, Glamour, Martha Stewart Weddings and Behind the Chair,  I went NY Fashion Week, and this year I have even more exciting things in the works.  

All that being said, nothing (I repeat, NOTHING) compares to how AMAZING it is to be a mom.  If I would have known that this is what being a mom feels like, I would have never been hesitant about having kids.  My respect for mothers has been taken to a whole new level.

A few months ago I read this article titled "I Look Down on Young Women with Husbands and Kids and I'm Not Sorry".  It was perhaps the most depressing thing I've ever read in my life.  I don't know if the author was actually being serious, or just trying to cause a stir, but to quote a few lines from the post (in case you don't want to read it):
"I hear women talk about how “hard” it is to raise kids and manage a household all the time. I never hear men talk about this. It’s because women secretly like to talk about how hard managing a household is so they don’t have to explain their lack of real accomplishments."

"Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself? There’s no way those two things are the same."

"Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business."

I don't know this author or what life experiences brought her to the point of view that she has about being a mom and a wife, but I hope that one day she knows what it feels like to love a child of her own. I'm sure she leads a perfectly happy, normal life, but life becomes so much richer once you add children to the picture.  Having kids literally changed my life and changed me as a person.  

On top of that, from my experience, being a mom is WAY harder than building a successful career.
Are you kidding me?? The two don't even compare.  Work is what I do when I need to relax now. Raising twins is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, HANDS DOWN.  

I have so much respect for moms and motherhood.  So here's to all the moms!  
Here's to the moms of kids of all ages.  
Here's to the moms who work to support their families, and to the moms who stay at home full time.
Here's to the moms who have lost a child, whether in the womb, after birth or later on in life.    
Here's to the moms who want so badly to have a child of their own, but for whatever reason haven't been able to.  
Here's to the moms of adopted children.  
Here's to the biological moms who know they can't care for their babies, but love them enough to give them up for adoption rather than have them aborted.
Here's to the moms that gave birth at home in the bathtub, the moms that had c-sections, the moms that got epidurals and the moms who didn't. 
Here's to the moms of kids with special needs. 
Here's to the moms who are up all night, and haven't showered in days.  
Here's to the moms who sacrifice their own wants for the needs of their children every day.  
No one is lining up to give them an award or recognize their accomplishments.  
There is nothing glamorous or fancy about being a mom, but the love you feel for your child is unlike ANYTHING else you will ever feel.  
Here's to motherhood, the most difficult, amazing, important thing I have ever been a part of.  

Happy Mother's Day!

Written on January 5th, 2013
Early on in my pregnancy we knew it was going to be difficult.  We found out at around 20 weeks that my twins had uneven placental sharing, which means one baby (Ella) was getting way more nutrients than the other (Paige).  We had to see the doctor twice a week throughout most of my pregnancy, and were praying that we would even make it to 34 weeks.  Paige just wasn't getting enough nutrients in there to support her as she was getting bigger.  We never told anyone (except family and close friends) because it was hard for me to talk about.  
When I went in for my 30 week check up, we had no idea that anything was even wrong.  We had just seen the doctor 4 days earlier, and everything was fine.  But at this appointment she informed me that I had multiple signs pointing to preeclampsia (if left untreated, it can turn into eclampsia, which causes seizures and would be life threatening to me and the babies).  She told me I'd have to stay at the hospital over night so they could monitor it.  The next morning, we still had no idea how serious it was.  I thought it was just a small scare, but that everything would be back to normal.  At around 10 that morning we had an ultrasound, where we discovered that the babies hadn't grown at all since my last ultrasound, which was a sign that my body was rejecting my placenta, and that it wasn't giving them any nutrients.  She told us I would have to deliver them that day.  I had a total of 3 hours notice that I was going to deliver them before I actually did. 
Finding out I'd have to deliver them so soon put me into to shock a little, I think.  I knew there was a big chance that Paige would be too small to survive.  Even though I was 30 weeks along, because Paige was under nourished, she was only measuring at 26 weeks and 1.5 pounds.  That's about as small as they can get while still having a chance of surviving.  
Thinking back on it, the whole thing is a blur.  Being wheeled back for the c-section, getting the epidural, having my babies cut out of my body while I stared at a blue sheet hung in front of my face, holding Kollin's hand while he watched our girls come into the world, hearing them cry but not seeing them myself, and then being wheeled back to my room, all in less than an hour.  It took me several days to even register what happened.   One day I'm at a Christmas party with some friends at 30 weeks pregnant, and the next day I'm suddenly not pregnant anymore.  It's weird to have two babies without having had any contractions, and without having gone into labor. I think my body/mind was confused for quite a few days. 
There is a song by Bryan John Appleby called Sprout.  It's a true story about a father and mother whose daughter was born three months early, and ultimately passed away after a few weeks.  He refers to the little baby as "a sprout".  It's a beautiful song that makes me cry every time I hear it.  (Check it out.)
Sprout is such a fitting word for my babies.  They weren't fully grown and developed yet, but were forced into the world when they were just sprouting.  Honestly, it's nothing short of a miracle that they are both alive.  
At about 10pm that night (6 hours after the c-section) I finally got to see them, from behind the window of an incubator.  I didn't get to hold either of them for a few days.   Having a baby in the NICU has been an emotional roller coaster, to say the least.  On one hand, I am so happy that they are being watched 24 hours a day, hooked up to IV's and monitors that are literally saving their lives.  On the other hand, it's extremely painful to see my babies so small, fragile, and helpless, all alone in their incubators, hooked up to so many wires, with the constant threat that one of them might not survive.   It's painful to think that the nurses spend more time taking care of them than their own mom.  It's painful to think how little I get to hold them.  Every time I go to see them, I am happy and sad and anxious all at once.  It's hard to be able to do so little to help your own child.  It makes my heart hurt to see them and then have to leave them each day.  
I keep waking up in the night thinking I need to go check on my babies in the next room.  A few days ago I had the most disturbing dream that I was at the NICU holding my babies, when slowly their cannulas (their oxygen tubes) started filling up with blood.  They started choking and spitting up, and I frantically started yelling for the nurses.  Then suddenly I had a cannula on my face for some reason, and it started filling up with blood too.  I tried pulling it off but it was stuck, and I started choking.  I think that dream describes exactly how I feel:  helpless.   
That being said, I am by no means complaining about my situation.  To say I am blessed would be a huge understatement.   As difficult as it has been, they are ALIVE, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.  
I have also been extremely blessed by all of the people in my life.  Kollin has been an absolute God-sent angel.  He has been so supportive and stable for me.  I wouldn't be able to handle this without him. My friends and family have been A-MAZING. Bringing me meal after meal, setting up my nursery for me, coming over just to help me clean and do laundry, and checking up on me just to see how I'm doing every day (not to mention taking maternity pics for me).  I feel humbled by how many people love my girls already.  
Before I had Ella and Paige, I had always heard of "motherly instincts" but never really understood what they felt like, and worried that maybe I wouldn't have any.  As soon as they were born, it was almost an instant change inside of me as soon as I heard them cry.  I'm sure that raising twins is going to be exhausting, and while I may never have as much freedom as I did before, it is already so worth it. Having your own child is a feeling you can't describe.  It's a type of love I've never felt before.  It's life changing.  I look at moms and motherhood in a whole new way now.  I feel so lucky that I have not only one, but two little babies to love and take care of.  I'm blessed to know that no matter what happens, Paige and Ella will be a part of our family forever.  

Newborn and maternity photos by Ciara Richardson

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