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Hi.

Welcome to my blog. I document our adventures of raising five children.  This is our story.  I hope it inspires you to embrace your journey!

Twins, the first chapter...

Twins, the first chapter...

When I started thinking about writing about our life with twins, I realized that there will be many more entries in my future, we have only just begun this journey and what a blessing it has been.  Some know the story from the beginning, others only know bits and pieces, and most only understand a hint of our journey through images and social media.  Here is what has been written so far of the story of Caroline and Ryland...

In December of 2015, we welcomed our third baby boy, Corbin Thresher Ross and with that arrival a flood gate of change.  There are four years between Corbin and Weston and so we quickly entered into the waters of an infant - it's funny how quickly you forget.  You forget the feeling of sleep deprivation, when you should introduce rice cereal, and the appropriate amount of tummy time.  Those things fade, but what you do remember is how very special a new baby can be, how you fall in love with your "big kids" because you see them through a different lens as the older siblings, and how you know even through the exhaustion you are someone's entire world and how this baby will add so much to your life and family. We were relishing in all of Corbin's "firsts" because in our minds these were our "lasts."  God had a different story...

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The backdrop being a quite beach, one with many memories of my childhood, and the moment filled with laughter, wine and dear friends lead to an evening where our lives changed.  We left Holden Beach thinking we took with us only memories and proud that we accomplished a beach vacation with three children.  We left with much more...

As the school year started I really didn't feel well.  I kept thinking "it's just nerves."  Corbin wasn't adjusting to daycare as we had hoped and the big boys were all struggling a little as well, so I chalked up this unsettled feeling to just that, I was wrong. It never really went away and when I started considering the possibility, I thought, "oh no, Mo is going to kill me, there is no way."  Right in the midst of a chaotic evening I looked at Mo, he was finishing up the dishes in the kitchen as I sat amongst the boys at the table finishing our dinner and I said, "I think I might be pregnant."  The test was positive, for us, it was always positive...

Life is hectic during the month of August for two people in education so I went to my doctor by myself.  I remember sitting in the room talking to this man, who not only safely brought into this world my first three boys, but who also delivered my sister and I, and only being partially present because I was really in completely shock.  I remember saying to him, "you know how when you tell people that you are having a third child people are excited for you, but when people say they are having a fourth they just look at you funny...." and he so kindly responded with exactly what I needed to hear: "I might be a man of medicine, but I firmly believe that God has a purpose, he chose you for a reason."  Moments later he decided to do a quick ultrasound to check for a heart beat and instead of one, he found two...

Let me remind you that Mo was not with me at this office visit and the tears just poured out of me while on the table.  It wasn't that I didn't want my babies, it was tears of fear, tears consumed with worry, tears of exhaustion.  Mo kept texting me and wanted to know how the appointment went, I couldn't respond in text, so on the phone while driving on 270 and he was directing traffic in the parent pick up line at the end of the school day, I shared that rather than four, there would be five.  Mo later told me that he felt like he blacked out, he's pretty sure he was laying on the ground or just in a complete daze.  We were both hit in the same way, our thoughts were "how are we going to be able to do this?"

I have always loved being pregnant and have done my best to take the hurdles in stride.  Carrying twins puts you in a new category of risk and I visited my doctor so often I felt like I should just have a cot in the office.  Being diabetic with my other pregnancies added a new level when carrying twins, non-stress tests twice a week, and the feeling of holding my breath with each ultrasound praying for good news.  I am lucky, I was carrying the safest twins you can carry and progressing exactly as they expected.  I found that by being busy, working full time, spending an hour at Barre3 when I had the moment, and chasing after my three boys (Corbin still not a year old yet) kept me from really realizing what was happening...I was growing two babies and we were going from three to five instantly!

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We never found out the genders of our other three boys, but Mo convinced me that with the twins we just "had to know." I still remember when the doctor said "Baby A is a girl." Mo and I both said, "Wait! What?" it just didn't feel real and then to find out that Baby B was a boy and we would have the pleasure of watching their unique relationship blossom over time just completely filled us with joy.  So the journey began...

I am a doer and I have a really hard time not operating at 100%.  I started to notice my legs and feet swelling up and found myself having a hard time keeping up the energy needed for work and home, but I didn't admit to myself that maybe I needed to slow down.  My doctor recognized that my body was struggling and that I needed a firm voice saying it was time to slow down and let these babies grow a little more before their arrival - so off to bed rest I went at 35 weeks.  In a matter of days my swelling went down and I was at peace with my situation, I was doing the most important job at that moment, providing a safe environment for my babies, the more time I could carry them the less amount of interventions they would need once they entered this world.

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I was given the green light to start moving a few days before 38 weeks and it just so happened Parker was on Spring Break at the time so off we went, for a walk one day and then swimming the next.  Twelve hours after being in the pool I went into labor.  I woke up early in the morning two days shy of when my doctor was planning to induce me and I could tell things were progressing quickly.  I vividly remember waiting on my mom to get there to be with the boys and having to stop and hold on to the banister being a little bit shocked with how fast it was all unraveling.

Just as we did with the others, Mo had to stop at Tim Hortons to get something in his stomach before we headed down town to the hospital.  He looked at the worker and said, "you better get the order right, my wife is in labor with twins." I wasn't overly amused.  I also got nervous when we hit morning traffic on 315 heading into downtown.  My husband being the lighthearted spirit that he is then made another joke as we were walking through the halls to Labor and Delivery when someone asked if I was okay as I paused to breath through a contraction, he said, "oh yes she's fine, she's done this a bunch of times." Well when we arrived in triage we didn't expect to find that I was 10 centimeters. The nurses started making calls and it became busy all around us.  I did my best to not be anxious, but time was against us and I had to find my focus...

My doctor got right in my face and said, "there isn't time for all of the interventions, you can do this, just keep your eyes on me, ignore the movement around you." There were no more rooms that morning, so they wheeled me into an operating room.  Caroline came screaming into the world.  Her fierce and fiery personality showed itself right from the start.  Ryland decided to enter this world in a completely different way.  Once Caroline came into the world, that allowed for Ryland to stretch and move and rather than following sister, he flipped all over.  We thought things were okay and then my doctor said "the cord dropped." The room of nurses and doctors began to scramble. My doctor shouted, "Everyone calm down! Just do your job!" Mo and I were terrified.  The other doctor pushed Ryland back and held him inside of me, while my doctor did an emergency c-section.  Unfortunately, I had very little pain interventions and could feel everything. They ended up putting me in a twilight state and Mo says it was the worst few minutes of his life, because I just kept asking over and over again, "is he going to be okay?"  I thank God every day for my doctor.  He made a quick decision and because of his experience Ryland is alive and thriving.  What we learned later is Ryland's cord prolapsed and this can result in loss of oxygen to the baby's brain and even death.

The shock of Ryland's delivery, coupled with my diagnosis of diabetes during my pregnancy did present problems for him.  He struggled to maintain his sugars and was taken to the NICU only hours after they were born.  Our hospital stay was a roller coaster of emotions.  There was the joy that our twins were here, Caroline Joan weighing 8 lbs 5 ounces with a full head of highlighted hair, and Ryland Garee completely bald weighing 7 lbs 1 ounce.  It was also paired with fear, stress and worry.  The moment Ryland went to the NICU, Mo went with him and I stayed in my room to be with Caroline and recover.  It wasn't at all what I had imagined.  I felt this overwhelming sense of letting down my son and this disconnect because I couldn't hold him or see him every minute.  I also put on a brave face trying to act like nursing Caroline and recovering from birthing twins both ways was no big deal, I had done this before, but in reality I hadn't.  Abdominal surgery is evasive and I felt as though I was an 80 year old woman barely able to get out of bed, this was my first experience with a c-section and if I'm being honest I'm glad it will be my last.  I also always had my husband with me.  This moment was the start of what raising twins and raising a large family is like - divide and conquer, work as a team - and we do this so well.

After five days, Caroline and I were sent home while Ryland had to stay.  My heart aches for parents who have to leave their babies at a hospital and even more for families who leave and their babies never come home.  I can't even imagine and as challenging as our time was with Ryland in the NICU for a total of 10 days, we know that we had it easy, we could see as we walked through the NICU just how challenging it can be.

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I truly believe that we were and still are well equipped to tackle the challenges of raising twins.  Already having three children has allowed us the practice and experience of juggling a variety of needs at once.  And that's really what parenting is all about, meeting the needs of your children, we just happen to have two who really have the same needs because they are traveling through life side by side.  But when I really think about them, they are so different.  Caroline sucks her thumb, sleeps like an angel, was very content and independent from the start.  Ryland needs his binkie and something or someone to snuggle, likes being held and determined.  I'm sure most parents of twins would agree that just because they are the exact same age, doesn't mean they are exactly the same, far from it.

What makes them special though is their bond.  A sibling bond is a beautiful thing to watch as it grows throughout time.  The bond of twin siblings though has something extra.  It's hard to put into words, but there is patience beyond measure, compassion that is deeply routed, and an instantaneous sense of loyalty.  We often say that Caroline may always be Ryland's little mama.  If she has her Moo-Girl, she makes sure that he has his puppy, if he is upset, she finds his binkie, if she has her water cup, she goes and gets his for him.

This is just the first chapter, and so much has already changed and evolved in their story, from the shock, to the dramatic entrance, to when they were just little beans nuzzled in their bouncy seats, to now climbing, running, laughing, and exploring the world together.  What a story! One that I feel completely blessed and in awe that I get to document and share.  If we were going to add to our family, we say all the time, how thankful we are that it was twins, an experience that is truly extraordinary.

You just do, and you would too...

You just do, and you would too...

A new normal...

A new normal...