6 Lessons in the Last 6 Months

The last six months have been a whirlwind. As I’ve found a few moments to myself this past week I had a chance to reflect on how much I’ve been learning and growing through all the chaos. Those little girls aren’t the only ones growing up here. It’s felt like a significant growth spurt for me too.

Lesson #1: We all learn at our own pace.

Ellie, Nora, Chad, and me. This is no timeline that anyone of us has to follow, no matter how many Baby Center weekly emails tell me what milestones my girls should be reaching. Ellie learned to roll over weeks before Nora, but once Nora figured it out, she was an instant pro. Chad had the swaddling down pat on day two. I took a lot longer. Whenever Chad or I figured something out first, we’d share it with the other person calling it a “pro tip.” This way, we never feel called out for not knowing how to do something. Pro tips are my favorite.

Pro tip: It’s way easier to get the girls out of their car seats if you loosen the straps first.

Pro tip: If Nora is too distracted to eat, wrap her in her favorite pink blanket and make sure you’re holding her arms.

Pro tip: Sometimes Ellie is only fussy because she is dying to stand up.

Lesson #2: There is no right way to parent (thank you Rachel Hollis).

Between the internet, the well-meaning women at church, and every stranger who stops us to comment on the girls, we’ve received a LOT of advice. I appreciate it most of the time, but the luxury of being a parent of my kids is that I get to choose. We chose the cry it out method for sleep training. We chose to formula feed our girls after a month of nursing. We chose and we had our reasons. And it’s what worked for us. Do what works for you. If you’re concerned about being a good mom, then you are one.

Lesson #3: If it’s not a top priority, don’t treat it like one. 

I listened to a podcast by Jody Moore recently where she mentioned that she aims for a ‘B’ in the areas of her life that aren’t her top priority. I have tried to embrace that mentality. My girls, my husband, my faith, and my sanity are my top priorities right now. So my house is a ‘B’ on the clean scale. I respond to my work emails at a ‘B’ speed. It’s been refreshing not giving my all to EVERYTHING all at once. 

Lesson #4: Love the stage you are in.

Laugh at the spit up. Embrace the dry shampoo and the leggings you’ve been wearing for too many days. This is a time of life you won’t get back. For me, this means I cuddle my girls longer than they need. I sing them songs a little too often and I reread books to them till I have them memorized. They’re already six months! This baby stage is already half over.

Lesson #5: There are angels everywhere. 

I’m forever indebted to the help and love we’ve received from parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, and friends. This week my darling cousin watched Ellie while I took Nora to one of her physical therapy appointments. My cute mom met me to go on a slightly-failed shopping adventure and bought me lunch. My kind grandparents continue to generously let us live in their basement. My brother-in-law put the girls to bed so Chad and I could go out on a date. A new friend in our neighborhood dropped off pumpkin cookies. Nora and Ellie have the best village to help raise them.

Lesson #6: 80% of what you need to know you can learn in the hospital.

This is Chad’s lesson. He treated the hospital stay like a parenting boot camp and ask our kind nurses 1,000 questions. He came out a parenting champ. So don’t stress about all the parenting books. Don’t get worked up over how to best prepare to be a parent. It’s okay to learn as you go along. That’s life.

5 Favorite Conference Talks

I lose direction in my life sometimes. It tends to make me wonder if maybe I’m not as close with God as I once was. Then I worry that I haven’t found answers to my prayers in a while. It’s discouraging and distracting. And then General Conference happens.

And in one weekend I find direction and answers. I remember all over again how aware God is of me. I feel found. Grounded.

I’ve been spending some time reading and listening to my favorite talks to prepare for General Conference this weekend. Here are a few of my favorites from past sessions:

An High Priest of Good Things to Come — Jeffrey R. Holland

Don’t give up, boy. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it…You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.

Of Regrets and Resolutions — Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Many of the deepest regrets of tomorrow can be prevented by following the Savior today.

Baskets and Bottles — Chieko N. Okazaki

God has given us many gifts, much diversity, and many differences, but the essential thing is what we know about each other—that we are all his children.

Mountains to Climb — Henry B. Eyring

Now, I wish to encourage those who are in the midst of hard trials…The Savior has promised angels on our left and our right to bear us up. And He always keeps His word.

Lord, I Believe — Jeffrey R. Holland

Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.

P.S. I get to work again with those two beauties featured above at conference this weekend! Woot woot!

P.P.S. One time I ran into Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriet, in Jerusalem. Talk about a trip highlight.

Nora and Ellie’s Birth Story

April 4, 2018

3:00 pm: At my final doctor’s appointment, Chad and I had an overwhelming decision to make. Ellie had surprisingly flipped and was no longer breech. We now needed to choose between a c-section or a regular delivery. After a half hour of going back and forth, we decided the 20 percent risk of having a regular delivery for the first baby, and needing an emergency c-section for the second….was worth it. Let the party begin.

7:00 pm: After showering and packing everything up, Chad took me to Cafe Rio. We ate all our feelings.

8:00 pm: We checked into the hospital. The nurses got me hooked up to an IV and started me on a low level of Petocin. I spent my night watching Friends and trying desperately not the be annoyed with the very kind nurse who came in all too often.

April 5, 2018

4:00 am: I finally fell asleep!

5:30 am: The nurse upped my Petocin levels. It started to feel real all at once right about then.

7:00 am: There was a shift change and in walked my favorite nurse—Hafsa. Oh how I love this power-house of a woman. I was dilated to a 1 and she broke my water (one of them anyway). Oh baby (or should I say babies?).  Heads up future mamas – THERE’S AN OCEAN IN THERE.

9:30 am: I was dilated to a 3 and started to feel some painful contractions. We ordered my epidural. I was terrified when the anesthesiologist walked in. I felt the numbing prick as Chad started on a long rambling story from high school trying to distract me. Bless his soul, it didn’t help much. Just as I was about to ask the anesthesiologist when we were going to get this over with, he wrapped everything  up and told me he had already done it. I had missed it entirely. Hallelujah.

11:00 am: This was a strangely calm time. My family came in to visit. Chad wolfed down some Five Guys across the room, trying to hide from me the fact that he was eating. It didn’t work, but I did get a smoothie and a jello cup.

1:00 pm: I was dilated to a 5 at this point and had a giant peanut-shaped yoga ball between my legs.

2:30 pm: I was dilated to a 7 and crying now. The pain had suddenly become intense. Chad was a champ holding my hand and Hafsa called in the anesthesiologist who put a shot of extra drugs in my epidural. It helped a little.

3:30 pm: I was dilated to an 8. Woot woot! Things were going faster than we thought they would. I got another shot from the anesthesiologist. My epidural really wasn’t working well.

4:30 pm: I was officially dilated to a 10. My nurse called my doctor and wheeled me into the OR. At my hospital all twins are born in the OR in case they need to perform an emergency c-section. I was only allowed to have one person in the OR with me according to hospital policy, but Hafsa, my new best friend, snuck in my sister too.

5:00 pm: The real pushing started and I had an audience: my doctor, two pediatric nurses, two respiratory specialists, and three nurses. It was a packed house. And the lights were INSANELY bright. Luckily, I had Jewels making me laugh, Chad holding my hand, and Hafsa coaching me through the pushing. 10 seconds had never felt so long.

5:20 pm: Chad and Jewels realized my epidural was no longer hooked up to the drugs since we moved into the OR. The pain was pretty much in full swing here.

5:30 pm: My audience of medical personnel kept saying they could see Nora’s head and that I was so close. These comments drove me a little insane. So sassy Ness came out saying I didn’t believe them because if that were true, Nora would be here already. Fortunately, my sassy self didn’t have too long to wait.

5:32 pm: My darling, tiny Nora Elizabeth entered the world at 5 pounds and 10 ounces. I had a chance to touch her and then she was gone. My doctor told us Ellie was head down so I wouldn’t need an emergency c-section. Miracles! My contractions started back up again a few minutes later, and my second water broke. Hello ocean #2.

5:46 pm: Elise McKenna came to join the family party at 5 pounds and 11 ounces. I got to hold her for a bit longer before she was whisked off too.

7:00 pm: After I was back in my room recovering from Hafsa kneading my stomach (ouch), the nurses brought in my little girls after their hour in the nicu. Chad and I finally got to hold them both. Our little family was all together. It was surreal and magical and hard to comprehend those tiny little humans were ours.

I’m forever grateful for Nora and Ellie. It felt like I had been waiting to meet them for a very, very long time.

P.S. Special shout-out to our incredible families for being there with us. We love you. Nora and Ellie are the luckiest to have you.

This Is Us

Jenessa | Ness | Mom

I’m 25-year-old, brand new, twin mom. Or at least I still feel brand new. My girls are almost 6 months old. So maybe I need to be moving on from 100 percent inexperienced to novice? To be determined. I also do social media contract work on the side….when the girls let me fit it into their schedules.

I LOVE going on adventures (i.e. driving to the Grand Canyon and back in one day, trying a yummy food place nearby, studying abroad in Jerusalem, Target, etc.). Anywhere, anytime, I always want to go. I just come with the girls and a heavy baby bag now.

I’m a holiday person. Especially birthdays. And Friendsgiving. And of course Christmas. And the Fourth of July. Oh and now Halloween because I can dress up my little babes in matching old lady costumes. I have the makings of their old lady hair on my counter right now.

It’s a good life. A happy life. Even with millions of bottles waiting to be washed and work emails pinging. Welcome to my lovely, ordinary world.

Chad | Dad | Chaddy Daddy

There’s too many wonderful things to say about this man right here. Chad has been mine for the last three and half years. He works at American Express as a credit analyst. Ask me about it. I finally feel confident enough in business speak to answer questions about his job. Wife goals right there.

Chad spent the first four months after our girls were born at home with us playing Super Dad. He cooks the best chicken marsala around and is Nora’s favorite person alive. Chad has only one tier of friends—best friends. He loves to golf, though I can school him in mini golf any day (most days). And he can pretty much win any strategy game without really trying. I’m not frustrated by that fact or anything.

Nora | Nor Nor | Nora Bird

Oh my darling Nora. There’s too much to say about her. She is a kind, bashful, curious little soul. Nora loves to cuddle, hold hands with Ellie, sleep on her tummy, and smile at her dad. She has a beautiful smile—you just might have to earn it if you’re new. Nora observes all day long and only babbles and sings when she has something important to say. She is a professional roller and sleeps like a champ. 12 glorious hours. We might just be the best rested twin parents in the country.

Elise | Ellie | Ellie Bear

My smiley Ellie. She is bold and brave and beautiful. She is a social butterfly and smiles at anyone and everyone. She is fascinated with her toes and is constantly showing off how flexible she is by sticking them straight into her mouth. You’ve got to remember to feed Ellie right before her grumpy time starts though or she will fiercely remind you what time it is. Oh and Ellie may just beat out Nora as the sleep champion of our family. She slept 13 blissful hours one night last week.

P.S. So I already have a complex about what order to put the girls names in. Do you go with who was born first? Or will that forever make the other feel bad? Do I make the conscious effort to switch off? Like I have brain power for that. Do I go in alphabetical order? Goodness gracious, someone help.