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Saturday, December 11, 2010

What We Do and How We Do It Part #1

People are forever asking us how we "do it" with twins. I'm always tempted to tell them there is no trick, you just do what you have to, but when it comes right down to it I have to admit we do have little tricks up our sleeves that we've developed over the last 3 months. (Lest I get too proud of myself I just think of all those moms out there with twins plus an older child, two sets of twins, or larger order multiples like triplets or quads!)
In the interest of keeping a good record of our twin journey here are a few things we do to keep ourselves sane:
1) Avoid "passing the buck" when it comes to a crying baby. Very frequently, after an hour and half or so of feeding, changing, playing, and rocking the babies, we finally get settled on the couch with both babes sleeping away in the nursery when suddenly the quiet is shattered with a wail. It would be really easy at this point to get into an arguement about who's "turn" it is to care for the crying baby based on who is the most tired, who was the most busy today, etc. But we've fallen into the patter of having "his and hers" babies. Basically, whoever held that baby last is responsible for getting it back to sleep and/or pacified. It's not like we ever sat down and discussed this, or that we even really acknowledge the rule in the heat of the moment, but if you were a fly on our wall at 6pm each night you would see this pattern play itself out pretty regularly. Usually a baby becomes your responsibility when you feed it, since the babies eat about every 3 hours during the day that means you are responsible for that baby for at least 3 hours (we also typically switch who we feed at each feeding though that also has never been discussed). It works well since we avoid arguments and by keeping eachother's sanity in mind the other person knows when to step in and give a break when it's needed.

Since I never have more than 15 minutes at a time to myself the next section will have to wait for next time...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Because I seem to be short on time lately:

Enjoy this little clip that all moms of multiples agree sums up our experience every time we leave the house with both (or all 3, or 4...) babies. Andy and I were LOL'ing:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For Your Viewing Pleasure:

How to gift wrap a cat for Christmas:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Soundtrack and Some Favorite Moments

There's a new soundtrack in the Heemstra household. It consists of lots of baby crys, snorts, grunts, big sighs, toots, and burps. Every day we become better at interpreting the meanings behind all these little noises. For instance, was that a "wet" or a "dry" burp? (A wet burp necessitating a mad dash for a burp rag before whatever just came up goes all over baby and whatever he/she is laying on). The same is true for a toot, though I'm sure I don't have to explain.
Each baby has their own personal noises and meanings as well. For instance, both babies tend to grunt and make little noises in their sleep that aren't signs of fussiness. However the moment we hear Eli begin to pant we can be sure a cry is soon to follow. For Evelyn the warning sign is more of a snort, though the frequency of the snorting signals whether we're in for a real scream or just a bit of a fuss.

Sleeping peacefully.

It really is amazing how much they change from day to day. I can't locate my camera battery at the moment so these pictures are about a week old and I can't believe how much bigger and just plain different Elijah and Evelyn are from only a week ago!

Auntie Bradi, Raegan and Sydney picked out this fuzzy headband for Evelyn. Already it's getting a bit tight on her little head! However it's great for a laugh, especially when Samson decides to investigate the fluffy little thing that has suddenly appeared on "his" baby's head.


"Um...I guess you can sniff it, just don't lick my face, ok?"

Samson found the headband to be very tickly when inhaled, so after much snuffing and nervous dancing in place he decided she was better left alone.

Another favorite "Samson and Baby" moment from this week has been his new desire to somehow "help" the babies when they are crying. Twice today, when a baby was screaming for some reason or another Samson brought his favorite bone and placed it right next to them. This morning, as Evie cried, he brought the bone and placed it on her, to which she let out a little grunt, so he picked it up and set it next to her bouncy seat before giving her a little sniff and walking away. There isn't much a dog can do for a crying baby, but he seems to be doing his best to show them he cares...and provide an early lesson in sharing!

The old saying "sleep when baby sleeps?" Yeah, we got that.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Our Halloween started off with a bath for the stinky babies. There had been lots of spitting up that day and everyone needed to be clean for their costumes:
A welcome change was that both Eli and Evie seemed to decide that baths are not meant to torture them and could be a rather warm and relaxing experience- no crying here!

"Ooh, so warm!"
After baths it was time to get in our costumes and pose for the camera!

"Why'd you have to dress the skinny kid in the skeleton suit??"

"I know I'm a little chubby but a Pumpkin-Ballerina? Really?! I'm going to need counselling."
Evie decided the best way to deal with the situation was to just go to sleep. Eli wasn't so sure...
Happy Halloween from the Heemstras!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We've had a lot of visits lately....

Samson really seems to love the babies, he "visits" them often between naps. Don't let this picture fool you though- he's actually begging for food which is right outside the picture.

My good friend Kim stopped by for a visit from Big Rapids. She brought us her steam cleaner so we can clean the carpets just in case there are any residual fleas (ew), and also held babies for awhile :)

"Auntie Rachel" helped a lot this weekend, during our scare with Evelyn (more later) and the night before Andy went on a longer trip so we could all get some sleep. Thanks Rachel!

Our neighbor Anna stops by often and even brings me coffee. What would I do without my friends on Belfast??

And then there are the wonderful cousins and family. RG and Syd LOVE holding babies. She, Syd, Bradi, and their friends stopped over after ballet last week to sniff babies. It's so nice to have people stop in and just enjoy them!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Here We Are!!



Together at Last
Well, they are 2 weeks old already, but better late than never, right? Elijah Timothy Heemstra (5lbs. 8oz, 18" long) and Evelyn Hope Heemstra (5lbs. 14oz, 18 1/2" long) arrived on October 5th, 2010 after a 2-day induction. I'll post the full story sometime soon but for now I feel accomplished to have simply gotten their pictures and stats on the blog!

Mr. Eli is a challenge at breastfeeding but we're working through it, and Miss Evie is trying to show her brother what it means to eat like a little piggy (snorts and all!). Soon I'm sure I'll have 2 little chunkers on my hands :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Denial, Coping Mechanism, or just plain Clueless?

I just got back from Applebees where a group of twin (or more!) moms get together every month. It's not something organized by a leader or larger organization, but of all the different "groups" I've tried out lately I think it's the one I enjoy the most. All of the women there have already had their multiples. They actually formed as a branch of one of the other "Moms of Multiples" groups in the area, but I don't feel weird or left out because my babies are still waiting to arrive. It's nice to just sit and listen, tucking away tips for later, but the girls are also great about asking me how my pregnancy is going and all the "good" questions/comments that only people who have gone through the same experience can bring up.
However as I drove home tonight I realized that tonight, and in the last few days, I've answered about a thousand different variations of the question "how are you feeling about the fact that in 6 days or less you will be a twin mom?" and that I really have no idea what I've said or what the real answer is.
I'm not particularly scared at the moment, or nervous. I'm excited for sure, and maybe just...apprehensively optimistic? To even begin to answer this question I have to start with the fact that I'm scheduled for an induction but honestly feel like a ticking time bomb; I'm fully aware that just because we have a date does not inhibit the babies from coming sooner. So I fill my days with fairly mundane tasks that I know I won't have time to do later even though there is also a sense of urgency- should we wait until Friday to make that trip to the grocery store when we will stock up on all the last minute stuff we think we'll want to have around?
And then there's delivery. There are always unknowns, obviously, but since these are my first AND there are two babies, the unknowns are kind of compounded. Will both babies remain head down? Will Baby B have some sort of distress from Baby A's delivery that causes an emergency C-Section? Will induction go fast or slow for me? Will it be hours between the twins' births? Will they be 100% healthy or are there unforseen problems?
Next we move on to after the fact. Everyone wants to know how I'm going to tackle this or that obstacle. Then a lot of them smile and say "you say that now, just wait! You'll eat your words." Which is probably very true, but then why ask what I'm going to do? I frankly don't have a clue what feeding or sleeping times will look like, I haven't scheduled help for the first month(s) like so many people have suggested because I just have no idea when I'll want help or what our particular struggles will be (ps. I know we'll want food and dog-walkers:), what was a nightmare for one person might not be the thing we struggle with and vice versa.
Then there's my husband, who is so pleasantly oblivious I just have to giggle. Just now he sent me a text saying: "We're having our babies on Sunday, right?" And a few days ago he momentarily forgot the girl name we settled on (which he basically picked out himself by the way), and also the boy's middle name. He's hardly touched the book I got him when we were newly pregnant but he's "test driven" every toy we've gotten. Don't get me wrong, he has been very supportive and excited in the last few weeks and I honestly don't expect him to be clued into every detail right now, I think that would be a very unrealistic expectation for a first-time dad. But it's still pretty humorous to recognize how differently two people who are married to each other can prepare (or not prepare) for the arrival of children.
All of this is to say, as I sit here on a Tuesday night, 5 (or 6? or 2?) days before we meet our babies, I'm not sure if my lack of fear and nerves and generally unconcerned demeanor is denial, some kind of coping mechanism, or just plain cluelessness. I imagine it's a combination of all three. As bad an example as this might be it sorta reminds me of the days leading up to any other major life change I've experienced- like leaving for college or getting married. You reach a point when you know there are going to be obstacles, stumbling blocks, frustrations, mountain top moments, and probably an argument or two, but those things don't phase you like they did 3 months ago. Now it's just time. Time to get started, to figure out those things that will be hard and those that will be wonderful. Time to realize what it means to be a mom and a parent with your spouse.
There are two things I know for sure tonight, September 28th, 2010- it's time to get going, and no matter what our struggles, it's going to be great :)

Friday, September 24, 2010


Today could have started off better. Samson's nails were long and unruly, he was a bit stinky, the last of his summer coat was shedding away, and after a few months of hot weather he had lots of dirt that needed removing. Plus, he seemed itchy and he is prone to dry skin, so we decided to schedule a fall appointment with the groomer (we average one good groomer visit per season, sometimes 2 in the Spring) so he'd be fresh as a daisy for fall.
Since my neighbor's dog was also in need of a good grooming we made a dual appointment and took them in this morning. Upon our arrival to pick the dogs up this afternoon the groomer informed us that BOTH dogs had fleas. I have no idea where they picked them up, Anna's cat is an indoor/outdoor cat and we'd recently spent an afternoon with all 3 pets together, but all of her pets are flea treated regularly.
Thankfully neither of us has yet to find a single flea in our houses but we're washing everything- bedding, blankets, towels, both Anna's cats (one of whom she says seemed to think she was trying to murder him) etc, and giving all the rooms with carpet a good vacuuming. Plus I picked up some flea treatment for Samson at the vet this afternoon.
Here's hoping this is a one-time thing...not what I pictured my Friday afternoon to look like :(

Saturday, September 18, 2010

If Samson Were a Twin....

(Take a look at the pup on the right. Other than having 2 same-color eyes, this is almost exactly what Samson looked like when we brought him home. Thus the Humane Society dubbed him "Tweedle").

Let's be honest, Samson most likely does have a twin (or two) out there somewhere, but since we do not personally own more than one of him, he is an only child to us. Below is a picture I found online and I just couldn't resist taking a few moments to imagine life with 2 Samsons...
If Samson Were a Twin:-My house would never be clean.
-I'd probably never see my eldest niece again.
-We'd have to install a yard of gravel rather than grass as the tender shoots would never survive 8 galloping paws.
-I would buy black carpet and pretend it's clean.
-Trying to go for a walk would be...well let's just say impossible without help.
-The mailman would probably just leave any packages that came for us at the curb or the neighbor's house.
-We'd get to experience both the pensive teenage stage (x2) and rambunctious toddler stage (x2) on a daily basis, only these children are generally mute and only respond to food. Wait, that's not so out of the ordinary....
-When Andy is out of town I'd be doubly in the doghouse (I swear Samson thinks I am the reason Daddy is not around and is more aloof than a 16 year old full of teenage angst).
-I might lose my mind but I'd be in a cute, furry place.
P.S. I'll say it now- if anyone is looking for a creative way to help once the babes' come, taking Samson for the occasional long walk or jog would be AWESOME for my sanity.

Is it odd that 2 Samsons scare me a little more than 2 infants? ;)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

35 Weeks

...and feeling every inch. Don't let my seemingly small belly fool you, according to the online lists my babies are the size of honeydew melons. And since they have been measuring consistently right on target I believe that guesstimate is accurate. I like honeydew. Not too sure how I like having two of them in me at once though. If you can imagine eating 2 honeydews and the tummy-ache plus other discomforts that would be implied, that is about how I feel right now.

There are all kinds of "extras" that come with carrying twins- extra hormones, extra weight, extra tiredness, extra aches and pains, and the good extras like ultrasounds and generally attentive care from the doctor's office. I've done my best to take all these extras to heart and enjoy them for what they are- the fact that we are having not one, but two babies whereas not that long ago when medical science wasn't so advanced we might have had none.

However this week, I feel like I've hit my wall. I haven't been sleeping well since about 20 weeks (I blame a lot of that on our very indented mattress), but right now periods of sleep are down to about an hour long. Suddenly I'm twice as nauseated as I ever was- especially at random times like the middle of the night and middle of the afternoon -I cannot catch my breath or sit in a car, and while last week I was still feeling fairly motivated, I suddenly cannot do more than unload the dishwasher without feeling like I need to sit down before I fall down. My hands ache like they are full of arthritis, I have dull headaches and am constantly woken up by jabs and stabs from one of the babies.
I'm still trying to take everything with a smile, accomplish as much as I can, and enjoy every moment of "me time" I have left. While I will be SO happy to be done being pregnant for 2 babies whenever they decide to show their little faces, I can't help but be slightly terrified of what is to come. There are moments when I think 37/38 weeks cannot come quick enough and others when I can't believe the changes that are about to come.

Regardless, as long as these babies are 100% healthy they can come whenever they want. And lets just say I'm glad the decision of when is not up to me because inevitably, given the fluctuation of my emotions, tolerances, and general sanity, I would make the wrong decision!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bye Bye Black Kitty

Well, today my sweet black kitty went to his new home.
Surprisingly enough I did not cry. I've cried a lot over the last several months as I struggled with what to do with him, worried over never finding him an appropriate home, and hit one roadblock after another. But seriously, prayer and persistence paid off. Back in June Rachel posted an ad about Louis on GRCC's website and that same day a woman responded saying she was considering taking him. She needed some time to work things out and decide for sure so I continued to advertise while we waited.
In the meantime I only had one other interested person who after I waded through her email full of grammatical errors and missing punctuation told me she had 2 dogs currently living with her as her daughter and future son-in-law's trailer roof had collapsed on them and they needed a place to stay...you can probably imagine why I was not comfortable with this arrangement and though it was hard to turn someone down when I so desperately needed a place for him to go, I just knew this wasn't the right fit.
For anyone that has never had to rehome a pet before, it's really a difficult thing to do in today's world. For one thing there is a huge overpopulation of cats. Summer is often referred to as "kitten season" because cats have their litters typically between April and October every year. I worked at Harbor Humane Society in West Olive in college and I watched several cat owners bring in their unspayed outdoor female and her litters naively thinking all would be well and their cats would find loving homes- only for the Humane Society workers to be forced to take the mama cat and all her kittens straight to the E-room to be put down. I know it sounds horrible, but it didn't make any sense to tell these people that their cats would never even be put up for adoption because most likely they would just take them home and release them outdoors to make overpopulation even worse. Many of these people brought multiple litters to the shelter before summer was out.
The second problem when trying to rehome your cat is that there really are people out there who will patrol sites like Craigslist looking for "free to good home" cats and kittens to use in laboratories or as *gulp* reptile food. The best way around this is to ask for a vet reference or a rehoming fee, though the rehoming fee can often turn good people away in a world overrun with free cats and kittens.
Needless to say I agonized quite a bit about what to do with Louis but in the end, the woman from GRCC decided she and her family would take him, and I'm confident he found a perfect home. His new owner has a couple of cats and was not daunted by the fact that he has had the occasional UTI and accident outside of the litter box. She even sent me her address and offered to let me come by to see him in the future. The icing on the cake is when her son told me he'd be posting pictures of facebook tonight so I could check in and see how he was doing. They must love cats :)
While I really will miss his cuddles and "talking" and "hugs," I know this is for the best. Samson has already told me how happy his is to be an only child- for now, and it feels great to know I can have the carpets cleaned once and for all without the worry of coughed-up hairballs, litter, or another accident. Plus my dad can finally come over without wanting to gouge out his eyeballs! Relief is what I'm feeling right now as I pray that Louis doesn't feel too abandoned and settles happily into his new home.
A perfect illustration of why Louis was never very comfortable with Samson around: "Someone is watching you...."
He was never very excited about having a camera stuck in his face.

"Wow! Look at that otter! Can I have one? Please? Please?!?"

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of Louis, sitting on my desk in our old apartment watching the snow. Love you Louis-Bedouis!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

32 Weeks

I can't believe we're actually at 32 weeks! Throughout this whole pregnancy the question running through my mind has always been "How long will we go?" The twin birth stories I've heard are all over the board, from babies that were born as early as 28 weeks and stayed in the hospital with all kinds of health problems for several months, to moms that went past their due date, to (the most common scenario) moms that gave birth at 34-36 weeks with babies who stayed in the NIM or possibly NICU but who came home fairly quickly after birth.

32 Weeks is kind of that "whew" moment since as Dr. Taber puts it: at 32 weeks babies will survive with very few health problems but will be in NICU. At 34 weeks babies are fine but will probably stay in the hospital a few to 6 weeks. At 36 weeks babies can usually go home with mom.

Since I'm not showing any signs of pre-term labor I feel pretty confident that we can hit that 34-36 week mark!
I thought I'd post some updates from the last couple weeks, I'm a little annoyed with my blogger account lately as it never seems to place pictures the way I want them so I apologize for the weird order.
Last week Andy and I both had Friday off so we took Samson to the Holland beach for some swimming. Needless to say Sam loved it but we didn't get a lot of relaxing in!
Each week BabyCenter sends an update with a picture of a baby's development. Every 8 weeks or so they send one that also includes fraternal twins images. Here is this weeks image, just for fun:

We finally have a functional nursery! More has been done since I took this picture but here are the cribs all set up. It was a pleasant surprise how easily these cribs were assembled:

Here's my belly today at 32 weeks!:

My friend Beth and I were about 8 weeks apart. She was able to make about an hour of my "Friends Shower" a couple weeks ago and I'm so glad she did because she had her little boy Lincoln Edward a couple weeks early via an unplanned C-section. They are doing well! (Look how tiny she is :)

And finally, this is what happens when I ask Andy to take belly pictures- they are lopsided and usually most are not of my belly:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Boring, Tired, Unmotivated

Sorry I've been a boring blogger lately. I'm hoping one day soon I'll feel movitated to upload some recent pictures and update but for now, I guess I'm just no fun when it comes to my blog :(

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sautee Naccoochee Valley, GA

I know I'm about a month late, but I figure it's never too late to post some fun pictures. This is the youth trip toGeorgia- which turned out to be fraught with car troubles!

Here we are in an Arby's in Kentucky, nice huh? Except we were stuck here for about 4 hours waiting for our AC to get fixed.

Unfortunately, the AC could not be fixed, so we spent the next 6 hours or so driving down the highway in a tin can under 95 degree sun with only the emergency hatches for breeze. Whew! It was warm.

Once we arrived we settled in- it was about 10:30pm and hit the sack. The next day was a work day which we spent at the camp working on their new basketball court. This particular camp, which is the organization's summer headquarters, was brand new to TeamEffort. There was a lot of work to do so each group spent a day working on-site. Our group got to do two days since we had a lack of transportation for a little while.
(In Picture: Tori, Kaleigh, Lauren, Alyssa, and Josh)

There was a lot of moving dirt and concrete from one spot to another. Here Tyler is shoveling some beautiful red Georgia dirt into a trailer to be moved to a more useful spot.

Everyone lent a hand for each job. This was actually one of the more pleasant jobs as it was in the shade!
It was HOT- think at least 95 degrees, in direct sunlight I would guess we got closer to 100.

(Alyssa, Kathryn, Amanda, Tori, and Lauren, with Tony in the background)

The younger guy on the left was one of our leaders- Clayton. The older gentleman was a volunteer who's nephew helped to start TeamEffort. One of the more disconcerting realizations for me when we arrived at camp was that all of the leaders were about 20 years old and there was no real go-to person who was in charge of the whole camp. There was a camp director floating around but we rarely saw him.

Tony Doster was the other adult male leader. He and Kathryn worked well together to move broken concrete away from the basketball court!

Every day we went "off-site" for our picnic lunch. Hanging out by the river was definitely our favorite passtime and on the second day of eating at this location the kids discovered they could catch minnows in their bare hands. After a few tries they learned not to scream and drop them the minute they caught one :)

A little minnow-friend.

Another fun activity was wading out to the "white water" in the middle of the river. It was slippery so we had to go on all fours or link arms but we were willing to do just about anything to get cool!

Thank goodness our rooms were air-conditioned! Evenings after worship and small groups was spent playing "Nerts" (or "Peanuts") and Euchre.
(Left to Right: Tyler, Lauren, Tyler, Mark, AJ, John)

This is Renee, our other fearless, but camera-shy, leader from TeamEffort.

We learned lots of new skills! Kathryn and Tori tried their hands at drywall.

John was a pro at sanding those drywall seams!

Our other work days were spent in a trailer park called Baker and Glover. The family we worked with had 3 children- Jose, Igselle, and Brittany (their new, week-old baby). Igselle had lots of friends!
(Left to Right: Naomi, Igselle, Erica)

When Alison and I made our trek to Atlanta to pick up the rental vans to temporarily replace our big bus we missed lunch and found this great little place to eat- The Old Sautee Store. On our 1/2 free day we brought the kids back for lunch and to buy candy for the return trip home.
(Left to Right: Lauren, Jessica, Mark, Amanda, Chris, Tony, Kathryn, Kaleigh, Tori)

The Old Sautee Store had all kinds of novelties- this was a measure of your romanticism. Somehow I ended up being pronounced "clammy" while most of the kids got "passionate," "burning," and "hot stuff." I guess the heat fades with age? Awesome.

The restaurant area of The Old Sautee Store

Nice big front porch- we knew we must be in the South!

On our full day off most of the kids went whitewater rafting, while Jessica, Alison and I hung out in a restaurant and played cards.

Time to go home!
(Front Row: AJ, John. Middle Row: Alisaon, Kaleigh, Lauren, Alyssa, Christopher, Jessica, Tony, Mark. Back Row: Krista, Tori, Kathryn, Amanda, Zach, Tyler, Tony, Tyler, Josh)