Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Raise Your Glasses for Normal!

So yesterday was a normal day. You would think that normal would not be remarkable, but I had a *normal* day guys. A day without my anxiety, my old "normal."  It was not perfect, it had stressful times and great moments like every day. However, it was like for the day I took of my anxiety glasses and could see clearly.  I used to be a roll with the punches kind of girl, nothing could keep me down or make me lose my cool. My mom actually asked me to go a little bridezilla on her while we were wedding planning. PPD gave me some killer reactions to stress and anxiety that range from panic attacks to losing my cool to irrational tears and such. Little things can set off big reactions that I have to work hard to control. it is a big personality shift for me, and yesterday I could roll with the punches just like I used to. I wanted to say that it felt amazing, but it didn't. It just felt NORMAL, which is so, so much better.

Today isn't quite the same. I am post-night-shift-got-2.5-hours-of-sleep-tired and I got a text message that we have a showing right before I have to go to work tonight. Went downstairs to disover that half of the walls and furniture have been tagged with asterisk snowflakes by my nearly 6 year old  and the 3 year old has made handwashing a nightmare because "he wants to keep his germs." Working hard to deal today, but looking forward to taking off the anxiety glasses again soon! Let's raise our glasses for normal! *clink*

Monday, March 23, 2015

There were 4 in the bed and the little one said...

Our house has two bedrooms, it is a fairly small house that a family of six lives in.  We make it work but when I found out we were having twins in our third pregnancy I got a little worried.  I may or may not have found myself googling "Are we people or sardines?" at some point.  We went back to the basic meaning of bedroom.  And put just the beds in the room.

 The theme is owls, you know, just in case there weren't enough of them in there for you to notice all on your own...  Sometimes I go bit overboard, but in my book owl overload isn't really a bad thing. 

 I knew we couldn't do a full on bunk bed.  Nate was 2 at the time and the ceilings in our house are kind of low, not to mention the sloped part that takes it even lower.  So I was just going to go and get an Ikea Kura bed and call it a day.  When I showed the hubby he said that he could make that, only cheaper. And then being the brilliant woman that I am, found this set of plans to DIY a low loft bunk bed.  It went a lot faster when I could give him a shopping list and measurements already completed.

 It's sturdy and perfect.  I am glad we went in this direction because, of course, the 2 year old wanted the top bunk.  Also, the 2 year old has jumped off of said top bunk.  Usually into the crib that is easily within range. Occasionally all the way to the floor.

 You can see that even with the low loft bed, it was tight squeeze getting it in here.  We had to basically cut, sand, and paint all the pieces and then build it right there.

We don't have any room for toys, just books on the bookshelf and this reading area.  I covered all our outlet plates and the light switch with leftover fabric. Mod podge made it super easy and they are cheap enough to just replace if we want to redecorate.

The quilt was made when Nate was a baby, but went with the color scheme so I hung it up. When I was high on nesting hormones I thought that it would be really cute to applique orange owls onto it to tie it in a little better.  Applique on my sewing machine kind of stinks.  I put this project off for over a year before finishing it, although it turned out pretty cute in the end.  I should have done it while I was still nesting.

I found these neat duvet covers at Ikea. They remind me of feathers.  They have their I Spy quilts on their beds as well, which happily go well with the orange.  Natalie's I Spy Quilt / Nate's I Spy Quilt

 The two cribs.  The ginormous amount of space they take up is ridiculous, but the babies are cute so I guess I will keep them.  I actually had to really search for a crib that was the same style as the one we already had.  I wanted to get one used but they were all white or espresso.  I finally found one that was "honey oak" and ours is "natural" but the price was right and they were close enough.

 I made the teething rail guards and puff quilts for their cribs.  Brandon's set has more of the cooler tones and the brown chevron.

Puff quilts are so dreamy. If you want one of your own I bought the pattern from Honey Bear Lane, worth it!

 And rag finishing made them really easy.  The hours and hours of clipping seams wasn't sooo bad with a drink and some tv series binging on Netflix.
 Alice's set is a bit brighter with warmer tones and the red chevron.

I had fun with the back on her quilt.  Since I was all out of plain white quilting cotton.  I am in love with the pinwheel/houndstooth print. So pretty!

 Twins, but different.

I just did some simple valances for the windows, with the fabric that the whole room was built on.  It is hard to see but there is some orange pom pom trim between the owls and blue gingham, one of my favorite little details.
 I covered a $2 plastic ikea clock with fabric just like I did in the playroom, one of my favorite design tricks now.  So cheap and easy.

 That doorway on the right heads into the upstairs bathroom, and to their closet. Where we store all the clothes for Natalie and Nathan.  Alice and Brandon have plastic carts with their clothes downstairs by the diaper changing station.

 My super awesome hubby built out the shelves in this closet for me.  I found those canvas bins at Target, they each have 3 big bins (pajamas, tops, and bottoms) and we used the smaller bins for socks and undies.

There you have it.  Four kids in one small bedroom.  I actually love that we don't keep toys up there, makes life simpler that all the toys belong in the playroom.  I only wish that there was enough room for our glider in there, that is in my room for now instead.

If  you wanted to see previous versions of this room, here you are:
Version 1- 1 baby
Version 2- 1 preschooler, 1 baby

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Hair Card


So, Natalie has cut her hair a total of 6 times in the last two years. The first time it was just some bangs. The second time it was everything. Literally. The third time it was a hank from the top of her head (Alfalfa sprouts for months guys). The fourth and fifth times were bangs. Really short bangs. But the sixth time. The sixth time will stand out in my memory forever. Because not only did she cut her hair, again, but this time she glued it to a foam card, with a heart in the center.

After I died, I called my mom to freak out about it and we laughed until we cried. Then I told Natalie that hair is not an art supply.  Add that to the list of things I never thought I would have to say. I started wondering why on Earth my daughter would cut off her hair and make art with it. Was it something that I did? Something I didn't do? She had a plethora of art supplies in front of her. Stickers, construction paper, tissue paper, yarn, you name it. She chose her hair. Why? Why? Why? Well it wasn't about me as a mother.  It wasn't even truly about her hair this time.  She is an artist. She loves beauty. She aspires to be on Project Runway when she is a grown up designer.  To her, that hair must have looked so beautiful contrasting with the green foam that she had little choice but to follow her vision. True artists make sacrifices for their work, and she has certainly shown that she is worthy. 
I do draw the line on art and hair. Hair is not an art supply in this house. But I will nurture my little artist and help her grow. I may or may not be locking up all the scissors and eating the key. I am also framing The Hair Card and putting it in her childhood box of memories so that when she has daughters, she will know exactly what she was like as a young artist.  Natalie is a challenge. Every day. My 5 year old Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She drives me bananas, steals my fabric, draws on the walls, uses scissors on things that aren't meant to be scissored, shouts when she is frustrated, blames her misdeeds on her brother, lies even when it doesn't make sense, takes things without asking, removes her shoes 60 seconds before the bus arrives, and changes her mind about her breakfast order when the first one is complete. On the flip side she is a most entertaining big sister, she has amazing ideas for stories, books, drawings, and sculptures, she makes gifts for everyone, tells me I am beautiful, wears all her handmade clothes with pride, and dances to all the music.  I will always remember The Hair Card.  The last minute rush to the car because we missed the bus, drawings on the wall, lies, and petty misdeeds won't be important to any of us in the near future, much less in the far future.  At the end of the day it is our lasting memories that count.  I've been trying to just survive for a while now, but The Hair Card has made resolve to live like I'm young, laugh until I cry, do something bold and passionate, even if it might be a little stupid, and have no regrets. Those are the things I will remember.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I Survived: A Story About Healing After Birth Trauma

If I sported this on a t-shirt when I was out and about, most people who see me would be like “Oh, you have four kids. And TWINS.  I don’t know how you survived the first year.” And I would wink and smile and say, “It has been wonderful being a mom to four kids. And twins especially.”  And it is true.  It is so, so wonderful to be a mom of four beautiful children, and it is truly amazing to see how twins grow together.  I didn’t have to “survive” parenthood.  I have survived birth trauma.

I wrote about my c-section here  just a couple weeks after it happened. I knew I had a long road ahead of me then, but I had no idea what I would go through in the next year.  I went to the hospital knowing that I would have a c-section because Baby A, Brandon, was breech and presenting first.  I knew that took away all of my choices once I arrived at the hospital.  I tried to tell myself that it was going to be fine. The babies would be fine. I would be fine.  Physically, we were all fine.  The surgery went exactly as planned- no NICU time for the twins, I have successfully exclusively breastfed my twins for a year.  Those fears came to nothing.  I did not anticipate the extreme levels of fear that I would go through leading up to and during surgery.  I have never experienced that level of fear during any other moment in my life.  The terror of signing the forms pushed in my face about what could happen to me on that table, the pressure to AGREE to let those things happen, the fear of what would happen to my babies if I did not sign them.  I signed away my power, it felt like I was sacrificing my own health and safety for the sake of the health and safety of my babies.  I would sacrifice anything for my babies, and so I let go of my power and control over the situation.  After that I felt like all of my choices were gone and I was no longer in control of what happened to me or my babies, which sent me into terror.   Tightly controlled terror, because I was also terrified that they would put me to sleep for the birth of my children after a horrible nurse threatened general anesthesia for crying in the triage room. They would not let my hubby in the room as they did the spinal and prepped me for surgery.  A room full of people getting ready to cut me open and I was alone and terrified.  They let him in just in time to hold my hand before they made the incision.  His presence helped a bit but I was already so afraid that it couldn't bring me back down completely. Then hearing the doctors talk in such sterile terms using such cold words as they cut me open and took out my babies was not affirming or gentle or even focused towards me.  I was laying on a table with my stomach sliced open and curtains in between me and my babies and they were talking like I wasn’t there.  I told my husband to go over with my babies once they were delivered because I couldn’t bear for them to be alone and I wanted so desperately to be with them.  I was trapped and afraid and alone on my side of the curtain.  Separated from my family for eight full minutes of terror. 

Then, I was meeting my babies.  After they were brought to me they hardly left my sight.  I pushed away all those things that I didn’t want to feel so that I could enjoy my first moments with my twins.  I am so very glad that I was able to do that, but at the same time, bottling all that fear up was not healthy for me.  I bottled it all up for the sake of motherhood, for all the things that I wanted out of motherhood.  Mom-Sarah and Wife-Sarah enjoyed having some of the best times in my life. I have truly enjoyed motherhood for the last year.  I am grateful for that.  Sarah-Sarah, the one that experienced all that fear, was down for the count. I didn’t do anything that Sarah-Sarah enjoyed, things just for me.  My sewing machine collected dust, I neglected to get new books to read at the library, I didn’t write for myself, and I was no longer the queen of lists.  I used to make lists of my lists, yet every single one that I had made post c-section was pitiful.  I ignored it, said that it was just because I was busy with four kids and newborn twins, but that wasn’t true.  I was busy with four kids and newborn twins, but that wasn’t what was stopping me.  I didn’t want to go anywhere near that nest of fear.  I went through life as Mom-Sarah and Wife-Sarah for 6 months before I shook up that bottle of fear cola I was working so hard to repress.

It really shouldn’t have been a big deal.  I was putting the big kids to bed and out of the blue Nate kissed my stomach and said “Hi, baby.”  I brushed it off then.  I have a wacko 2 ½ year old kid and there literally is no way I can be pregnant.  But over the next few days I found that moment was stuck on replay in my head.  When I wasn’t thinking about anything it just popped up, unbidden.  I started thinking about the “what ifs.”  What if I was pregnant?  What if I get pregnant again someday? What if I have to give birth again?  We had decided when we were pregnant with the twins that we were done for sure.  That pregnancy was no picnic.  I was banking on never being pregnant again.  So the what ifs got to me, they started shaking up that bottle of fear cola and a couple days after that moment I had my first anxiety attack.  I was in the kitchen making lunch and Alice crawled towards me.  All of the sudden I couldn’t breathe or move, and the only thought I had in my head was screaming “I can’t!”  I couldn’t have another baby, I couldn’t go through that fear again.  I thought that I just needed some firm proof so that I could move on. So I went to the store and bought a pregnancy test, confirmed that I wasn’t pregnant, and put it behind me.  I had a crazy moment, I rationalized myself through it, I would be fine.  I didn’t even tell my hubby about it. I didn’t know what to say.  I freaked out because Nate kissed my stomach and said, “Hi, baby.”  I sounded crazy even to myself.  But the anxiety attacks didn’t stop.  I got hit with two more a couple days after the first one, with less discernable triggers.  I would get hit with one, get myself back together, and continue on with my day as bet I could.  So confused.  I did tell my hubby after over a week of them happening, and while he was supportive and tried to comfort me, he didn’t understand.  I didn’t know anyone who did.  And when I did try to talk about it I was told that I had beautiful, healthy twins and “that’s what matters.”  Those words just say that my feelings about this life changing experience don’t matter.  Of course I am thrilled that I have beautiful, healthy twins, but I checked in a lot of baggage with that experience and it matters.


That first anxiety attack was just the beginning.  Over the next two months I had them with more frequency, often accompanied by flashbacks to the operating room. I become moody. I couldn’t bear for anything to touch the c-section scar and numb area around it. Wife-Sarah gave into the depression and I stopped finding as much joy in my time with my husband.  Mom-Sarah tried the hardest, but on my lowest days I got overwhelmed, had more anxiety attacks, and was generally about as friendly as a blast-ended skrewt come bedtime.  I could see that I was not ok.  I knew that there was a huge problem. I had no idea how to get back up.  So one day I sat down with a notebook and a piece of paper and I got it all out.  I went back to the beginning.  I looked for patterns.  I finally, purposefully, relived every detail of my birth experience from when my water broke until the moments before I finally saw my babies for the first time.  It was horrible. I mean it really, really sucked.  But then I saw what I had been doing.  Sarah-Sarah still felt helpless and powerless and afraid. I had been ignoring and hiding away the most essential part of myself and I was still letting that damn experience have power over me.  No more.  I started writing a list, which was just so me, that it was refreshing to see that I was still there.  I made a list of things I want, things that I need to work towards, things that matter more than my fear.  The first thing on the list was smile, so simple, but so hard on your worst day.  One by one I worked on my list, millimeter by millimeter, I pulled myself back up from that place.  It took a little while before I could do some of the things on the list, while others were easy and felt natural.  I want nothing for than for Mom-Sarah, Wife-Sarah, and Sarah-Sarah to be reunited.  I think when that happens I will be able to conquer the world.  I have relapses. I fell off the edge of a cliff and I climbed back up, but I am still teetering on the edge on a day to day basis.  Little things will push me closer and big things….  Well that is why I am writing again.  I wanted to tell my story to remind myself of how far I have come.  Balance is hard.  Balance has been my goal the last few weeks and I keep sinking the boat.  Perhaps I jumped the gun on this goal. Right now I feel like I am in too many pieces to juggle everything.  Maybe I have to pull myself back together before I can find balance.

 I wish so hard that I could go back to pre-birth trauma Sarah, pre-PPD Sarah, pre-anxiety Sarah, without losing post-twins Sarah.  How different would my life be if I’d had more choices in the hospital, if I hadn’t been terrified out of my mind, if I were able to have a birth that I could remember without fear.  My birth experience has taken so much more away from me than I ever could have imagined.  It took me away from myself, the most essential parts of me missed out on a whole lot of things in the last year.  I survived. And I am determined not to miss another year.  I am sure that next February 4th at 8:30 pm I will look back and think, “This is the moment that my water broke. This is the moment the fear began.  I survived two years after birth trauma.”  Hopefully one of those years in my future, I can use the word thrived.  Hopefully one of those years it won’t even matter enough to remember.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Alphabet I-SPY Ticker tape Quilt

 For Christmas I made Nate an i-spy quilt of his very own.  I saw the Alphabet I-Spy Labels by Crafterhours and knew I had to design a quilt around them.  I decided on a tickertape style of quilting, though true tickertape quilts usually are made of small scraps of fabric instead of 4" squares.

 Has anyone else ever noticed how difficult it is to design with 26 of something?  Designing this quilt made my eyes twitch because nothing I came up with satisfied my obsessive compulsive tendencies when it comes to symmetry.  Poor "Y" got stuck in between "X" and "Z", and the eye twitching was resolved with marginal success.

If you would like to make this quilt, the printable pattern can be found here.  I wanted this quilt to be a little longer than it necessarily needed to be so that it would be a decent coverlet for Nate's bed. I originally came up with a 44"x44" quilt design that only used the alphabet i-spy blocks.  Pattern for the 44"x44" quilt is here.

 I know I really made this quilt for Nate, picking out the perfect set of alphabet i-spy squares that I knew he would love, and using every single transportation themed i-spy in my stash for the coordinating squares.

He loves all things that go and he loves this quilt.   He got to enjoy it for a whole month before I stole it to use with the twins, he he.

We love that is is big enough to put both of the babies on it and still have room to play ourselves.  Those babies are never alone if Natalie is conscious so we need plenty of space to share their sweetness and delight in their crazy expressions.

They LOVE tummy time on this quilt, it is colorful but not too busy, has plenty of contrast with the white background, and gives us lots to talk about while we play.

"Hmm... I bet if I giggled and squealed Nate would share his John Deere tractor with me."

And when we are all done with eating the i-spies, it is nice and cushy for a quick nap.

"Nice try, Mom.  Just kidding."

All in all, my favorite i-spy quilt to date, it is going to be well loved here for many years.