The twins turn two


Our babies turned two yesterday and, in predictably trite fashion, I can hardly believe it. K and I stayed up late the night before to bake and frost cookies for them me to take to school to share with their class, and K painted them some sweet little happy birthday notes while I baked, but we didn’t have too much else planned for the big day. We didn’t even buy them birthday presents because a. they don’t really need much, especially with a birthday that follows Christmas so closely and b. we knew that they’d be receiving a few things from extended family already. This Saturday Kristin’s family is coming out to celebrate with us and to see the house for the first time, which I’m really looking forward to. It gives me a lot of pride to share our space with others, and while that might be a novelty I hope the feeling doesn’t wear off for awhile.

Kristin decided to pick up a few slices of pizza and some store-bought cupcakes and candles just to make the evening a bit more Jude and Vivi’s style. I swear Jude talks about pizza from the moment he wakes up.



Jude wolfed down his mini cupcake in about four seconds, and then attempted to steal crumbs off of Vivi’s plate while she slowly ate hers one tiny bite at a time.

In honor of their birthday, and in a public apology for the fact that I still haven’t even begun their baby book even though I diligently worked on Jonah’s month by month from the time he was born and had it printed by the time he was 18 months old, I figured I’d share their birth story here. At least I did write it, it’s just been living on my Mac for quite awhile. Someday I’ll get all of their baby pictures into a book, I promise!

On Thursday evening, February 26th, Kristin went to prenatal yoga. She usually went on Tuesdays, and two nights earlier Beth had mentioned to Kristin when she left that she didn’t think she’d see her again before the babies were born, so she was surprised to see her on Thursday. Looking back, I think that Beth did sense that Kristin would give birth before the following Tuesday class, she just didn’t know to expect her on Thursday. Her due date was March 2nd, so we were all pretty surprised that Kristin was still pregnant.


I think that we’d planned to cook Indian food for dinner, but it had taken me longer than anticipated to get Jonah to bed. So by the time Kristin returned I suggested that we just order sushi instead. I’m glad that we did, since we would have had lots of uneaten leftovers going to waste over the next week. In a move that was completely out of character even when Kristin wasn’t pregnant, but especially at this stage, Kristin said that she wanted to walk downtown to pick up the take-out order. Mind you, she was 38 weeks pregnant with twins, and it was well after dark in February. In recent weeks she’d hardly wanted to move at all, so this sudden burst of energy raised my antennae a bit.

I’d done laundry earlier in the day, so that night before bed we put clean sheets on the bed. We joked about how it would be just our luck that her water would break overnight simply because we’d just washed the sheets. Sure enough, she woke up at about 3:00 a.m. on Friday morning because she felt her water break. We were excited, but also concerned because nothing else seemed to be happening: no contractions, and no movement from the babies. Kristin called the on-call number for the midwives and Robin suggested that she walk around and drink some fluids to see if they would start moving again. She said that the sensation of the water breaking can sometimes be shocking to the babies, and that might be the reason for the stillness. Although I don’t recall, they must have begun moving again because we didn’t call back for a number of hours.

We decided not to go back to bed, and instead got things ready to go. We let Jonah sleep while we showered, straightened up, made sure the bags were ready, and let the Frost and Rynders families know the plan since they would be caring for Jonah while we were at the hospital. When we spoke to Robin again, she told us that because labor hadn’t begun but Kristin’s water had broken, we had to go to the hospital for her to be induced. We knew that we would be stuck there once we arrived, and we were still hoping that Kristin’s labor would begin on its own, so I dragged my feet and encouraged Kristin to drag hers, despite Robin’s insistence that we come right in. We drove Jonah to Gladys’s house and dropped him off sometime after 9:00 a.m. It was a beautiful, sunny day, especially for February, and I remember us talking about what a good day it was to be born. Kristin called her mom from the car on the way to the hospital, and her mom booked her flight out for the following Monday.

We parked the car in the ramp and went to the non-emergency entrance of the hospital. Everything felt so different from our arrival there when I was in labor with Jonah (when we went to the emergency room, with me suffering through active labor all the way). We made our way upstairs in a rather leisurely way and were shown to our room. The room had a tub (which we wouldn’t be using) and was quite large, lots of natural light from windows running all along one wall with a view of trees outside. It was lovely. I was excited, and took a selfie of Mama K and I in the room before she changed into a hospital gown.


Robin met us there (she’d actually beaten us there by quite a bit, since we’d dragged our feet). And told us that Kristin had to be started on Pitocin. Kristin was understandably disappointed; it wasn’t what she wanted. It seemed to take them a long time to arrive and get the Pitocin going, I think it finally happened around noon. To my surprise, the Pitocin didn’t seem to bother K for a number of hours; she was just hanging out, talking and being herself, but eventually the pain kicked in. She was frustrated that the nurses wouldn’t allow her to get out of bed and move or change positions because of the two fetal monitors wrapped around her belly. Every time she moved, they stopped picking up the heartbeats, so she wasn’t able to manage her pain at all. Somewhere between 6:00-8:00 p.m. she asked for an epidural because she’d realized that if she wasn’t going to be allowed to actively manage her pain, she didn’t really have any options. She was frustrated and disappointed, but knew that it was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist who administered the epidural had a horrible bedside manner, and caused K incredible, unexpected pain. She struggled to hold still and couldn’t sit up the way he asked because the contractions were so debilitating. He eventually allowed her to lie on her side, but at some point in the procedure she shrieked with pain in such a startling, awful way, that I began to cry out of fear and anger. I said to Michelle (the midwife on call at that point) that someone should have warned us that the procedure would be so excruciating, and she seemed as shocked as I was. The anesthesiologist had the gall to brag about his skills and speed when I criticized him; he was entirely lacking in compassion, and I told him so.

Fortunately, once the epidural began to work, Kristin declared that it had been a good decision. She felt much better, and at some point soon after we were left alone to get some sleep. They gave me some sheets and I was able to get some sleep on a sofa-like piece of furniture in the room. K also tried to sleep, but struggled because she wasn’t able to turn or move and because her legs were numb and she was hooked up to so many wires, cords, and a catheter. We were both surprised that the twins hadn’t been born yet. Everyone we knew who had been induced had given birth very quickly. Our families had expected news by now, but I think that I’d gotten a bit lax with the text updates because not much had changed. By the time she had the epidural she was around 5 or 6 cm dilated, so she still had a ways to go.

In the morning, maybe around 7:45 a.m., Michelle came back to check on Kristin and said that she was at about 9.5 cm dilation and could start pushing soon. We were excited and thought that things would get moving any minute. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and everything felt full of promise and anticipation. Then all hell broke loose at the hospital. A number of women arrived to the small delivery ward ready to give birth. Two of those women were also Full Circle patients, which meant that Michelle, our midwife, found herself moving between three different rooms at once. Hours went by while the doctors and nurses clearly scrambled to keep up. Finally, around 11:00 a.m., Michelle returned and told Kristin that she could start pushing. We were surprised that they had her begin to push in our room, because we’d been told that she would be required to deliver in the operating room just in case of emergency, since it was a twin birth. I assumed that they expected her pushing to take awhile, and wanted to get her started where she was already comfortable.

While we were relieved to finally get some attention and to get the process moving, it was clear that the delivery ward was still understaffed given the rush of women that had arrived. At times, it was just a nurse and me in the room while Kristin pushed (in contrast to my birth experience when there were probably five or more people in the room at any given time). Michelle came and went periodically, and was helpful when she was there, but in other moments I think that both Kristin and I felt a little bit lost. Even so, we were able to see just a tiny circle of Jude’s fuzzy head moving when she pushed, so we knew that she was making progress. After about two hours of pushing, Kristin started to bleed. Michelle dabbed at the blood and wiped it up, saying that hopefully it was just from a small cut of some sort, but it kept coming. I began to worry, because it seemed like too much blood to be a simple tear or cut. Michelle worried too, and said that she thought we ought to have the attending OB take a look and decide what to do. I was already in scrubs because I knew that at some point we’d be moving to the OR, and everyone else prepared themselves and Kristin for the trip down the hallway.

As the nurses wheeled Kristin down the hallway and I walked beside her, she turned to me and said “do whatever you have to do.” In that moment, I knew that she was giving her consent to the cesarean birth that she didn’t want, because she was worried about the babies and was willing to sacrifice anything to make sure that they were OK. She seemed exhausted, but unafraid and fiercely determined to keep her little ones safe. She’d been fighting hard her entire pregnancy to give them the best possible start, but that moment was perhaps the one in which her maternal instincts stood out most prominently for the first time.

After taking a look at the bleeding, the doctor told us that he felt it was best to perform the cesarean and just get the babies out quickly. As they prepped her for surgery, they told me that I had to wait outside. A nurse found a chair for me and I sat in the hallway and cried, and texted family to ask them to pray, letting them know that she was bleeding and that I was scared. I wanted to be beside her, and was scared because I couldn’t hear her voice or see her. In those early moments, I truly feared that she might die. During that time, a wonderful nurse who had been called in due to the mad rush approached me. She introduced herself with a smile, told me that Kristin was going to be just fine, and told me to be sure to have my camera ready because we would be meeting our babies soon and we would want to have pictures. She told me that she would let me know when to stand up with the camera, as the doctor would lift the babies into the air for me to see as he pulled them each out. Finally, she brought my chair in beside Kristin’s head. She looked tired and pale and was complaining of thirst, but wasn’t allowed to have any water. It seemed like only a few moments before Jude was born, and I stood to take a photograph of him. He wailed and wailed and my fear turned into joy immediately. I was so excited to finally see what he looked like. One minute later, Vivienne was born. I remember telling Kristin that she was cute, and she screamed ferociously. After they cleaned them up and weighed them and wrapped them in blankets, they brought them around and held them down by Kristin’s face so that she could see them, and then handed them each to me. The nurses were wonderful and took photos for us. I was so relieved that everyone was OK.

As it turned out, the placenta had begun to detach from Kristin’s uterus, causing the bleeding. Without the surgery the babies could have died; it was the only way for them to come into the world. In the days to come, the challenge of recovering from a cesarean birth and the blood loss of the placental abruption (which required two units of blood for K) while learning to nurse and care for Jude and Vivienne would require everything that Kristin had left to give, but she gave it with love and generosity and slowly began to heal. Kristin’s mom arrived to meet her new grandbabies, we brought big brother Jonah to the hospital to meet his brother and sister, and we were surrounded by love from the Rynders, Frost, and Thompson families. We spent four days and nights in the hospital, but eventually we made it home and began our new life as a family of five. It certainly does take a village.


The Kids at Christmas, 2016


I mentioned in my last post that I was getting our Christmas cards ready to send out. They’re out in the world, and while I’ve definitely been doing some writing in recent months, I haven’t written an actual Christmas letter in quite awhile. I always love receiving them, but for some reason I haven’t been writing or sending them. One of the things that everyone seems to do in the Christmas letter is to give an update on everyone in the family and it made me wonder what I would write about each of our children right now. When I started this blog, I hoped to do a better job of recording who the kids were and what they were up to at different moments in time. But I’ve been so busy documenting our move and the house that I haven’t said very much about who they are. So here we go, a brief snapshot.


Jonah just turned four on Thanksgiving. Despite all of the times that I expect too much of him and he acts his age, refuses to listen, is stubborn and defiant, I still feel like he’s growing up far too quickly. He’s so tall, and the day he turned four he told us repeatedly that he’s bigger and stronger and insisted on doing things like carrying his birthday cake from the car to Grandma Sue & Grandpa Pat’s house, “because I’m four now and I’m strong.” He loves books and loves being read to. His teacher told me that in one of the first weeks of school, she was reading a story and almost all of the other kids were talking or doing other things and he said to her with surprise, “I’m the only one listening!”. He loves to build things, loves trucks and machines and seeing how things work, and still loves digging in the sand (it’s consistently his favorite part of his day). He’s doing great with the potty now, and really only has accidents at school after nap when he’s been sleeping a very long time.  He doesn’t show much interest in art or in learning to write (one of the downfalls of a Montessori-based school is that he can choose never to do these things if he wants). He likes music, but mostly just in the car and at home, and seems to be lukewarm about music class at school (an administrator told me that he’s mentioned that he feels his music class is for babies – he’s with the 2 & 3 year olds and most of his friends are in the 4s group). He has two very good friends at school, boys he plays with daily, and it feels to us like he’s found his tribe. We’re having them over next weekend to celebrate his birthday and we’re excited to get to know them better.

If I’m being completely honest, he’s wonderful but also super challenging. Most of the time we feel like asking him to do almost anything is a battle. He’s the most strong-willed person I know, and things go from zero to totally explosive in just a few seconds. He’s super smart (they recently gave him a test at school because of a study the school is participating in, and his “age equivalency” the average age of other test takers who scored like he did, ranged from 5.7 to 6.9 depending on subject), but has a lot of trouble with self-regulation and not getting ridiculously upset if he doesn’t get his way. If someone does something he doesn’t like or even just misunderstands him, he loses it. He’s super grouchy in the mornings, often refuses to acknowledge or greet anyone. He’s basically a teenager in a four-year-old’s body.

That said, he can be so charming and so sweet; he has incredible empathy. If I’m upset for some reason (stress, frustration, who knows…) and I’m crying, he’ll always come over to me and say “It’s OK Mama D, I’ll take care of you” and pet my head and hug me with absolute sincerity. Last night he refused to stop playing with a box of fragile Christmas ornaments and dropped it, and it sounded as if some things had broken. I was very upset and he laughed at me, which was WAY more upsetting than the fact that he’d dropped them. I basically told him that it was monstrous to laugh at someone when they’re sad or upset because you’ve hurt them or upset them, and walked away from him. He sat on a stool across the room from me while I ignored him, and about a minute later, on his own, he said “I’m sorry Mama D. Can I give you a hug?” I was blown away by his awareness and his desire to make amends. Usually we have to force him to tell people that he’s sorry. He’s still a cuddle bug, loves to sit in my lap and needs to have me cuddle him to sleep at night.

I worry a lot that we’re making all kinds of mistakes with him. Children absorb everything; they learn so much from what we say and do and I often feel that we choose the wrong battles, we yell way too much, and his explosiveness is probably directly correlated with our explosiveness. Despite the fact that I know better intellectually, I really take his disrespect personally and let it get to me. I have a lot of work to do and really want to be a better mama. I know that so much of what we see in him comes from what we model for him.


Vivienne and Jude are 22 months now, and are at a pretty adorable age. While we’re seeing the beginning of the terrible twos in certain moments (they both say “no way!” when we ask them to do things because they’ve learned it from Jonah), this stage of development seems impossibly charming and cute compared to their threenager big brother. That said, I have to acknowledge that I love Jonah’s independence these days. It’s amazing to know that (in most cases) if I want to bring him along for some errand I’m running, he’ll be fine and trustworthy and will make the errand more enjoyable because he’s good company. I can leave him alone to play for ages and not worry about him. There’s less risk that he’ll do something outrageously dangerous or destructive. The twins are still in that toddler phase when you just don’t know what’s going to happen, and if things get quiet you know to worry. When the three of them are alone together they can be trouble, but I love that they love one another and enjoy playing together enough to get into trouble. Jonah loves making them laugh, which can lead to him making bad decisions and modeling bad behavior for them, so that’s less amusing. They think that he is everything, which is really sweet to see.

Vivienne is super sassy. Teachers at school adore the twins, but in particular we get lots of funny stories about Vivi because of her sass. She loves shoes and hats, insists on putting on her boots first thing in the morning, and loves to wear sunglasses. She’s absurdly independent and wants to go up and down stairs without help, won’t let us help her to put on her boots (the other morning when I tried to help her, she put her hand on my chest and said firmly, “No Mama D”). She wants to put her own coat on just like Jonah (flipping it over her head). She has so little hair, but she loves it when the teachers put it in a tiny ponytail. She loves books, loves being read to, and feels a great sense of injustice if Jonah is getting a book before bed but she isn’t. She insists on joining in. She also loves playing pretend – she loves baby dolls, loves the toy kitchen at school (we’re getting one for Christmas now that we finally have the space), will offer people pretend food and tell me when her baby is napping. She’s also fiercely determined to do things even when challenged. She’s spent many an hour at school outdoors trying to ride a trike on which her feet do not reach the pedals, but the teachers tell me she is undeterred and just keeps trying. Unlike Jonah she LOVES art! For some reason she says something that sounds like “lellow” (rhymes with yellow) when she wants to color, and color she does. She will go through page after page of blank paper. She used to do big dramatic scribbles, mostly in a circular motion, carefully choosing just a few colors that all seemed to work beautifully together on each page. But recently they taught her to spell her name at school. If you ask her to spell it, she’ll shout “V-I-V-I”. What’s funny is that Jude also says that when you ask how to spell his name. Once she learned that, her artwork turned to attempts to write her name. She does tiny scribbles now, like handwriting, over and over again and will sometimes quietly say “v-i-v-i” as she draws/writes. Despite her independence she can also be clingy – when tired she wants to be held all the time, and sometimes even when she isn’t tired. She’s affectionate and gives wonderful hugs and kisses, and loves to bury her head into my neck. She LOVES music. As soon as we get into the car she shouts “I want songs!” and usually requests one. It’s often Baa Baa Black Sheep or the Muppets Mahna Mahna. She sings along to most of the songs on the Raffi album we listen to in the car. And if she doesn’t like the song we’re playing she objects loudly and continuously until it’s been changed. She’s such a firecracker, such a huge personality, and she’s super fun and super amusing to have around. She does have quite a temper, and is probably just as strong-willed as Jonah, but at this point her small size and huge personality make it cute enough that even when she’s furious we often look at each other and giggle. I know that’s terrible and that we probably need to reign things in now before she’s 12 and it’s uncontrollable, but for now I’m enjoying her spark.

Jude is so easy going, so laid back, and just so happy-go-lucky. He’s sensitive, cries easily when knocked over (for example), but never seems to get very angry. Every once in awhile when he’s thwarted we can see the two-year-old approaching, but for the most part he’s either just happy or briefly sad. He’s the one of the three who is that stereotypical toddler who is always touching or getting into things that he shouldn’t: dirty things, dangerous things, electrical things, anything with buttons or switches, whatever it may be. He is always interested and always where he shouldn’t be. He likes a lot of the things Jonah likes: cars, blocks, playing in the dirt, but he’s also much more into playing pretend than Jonah ever was. He likes baby dolls (less than Vivi, but enough) and the toy kitchen at school. He loves slides, bouncy things, and ride-on toys. He and Vivi both love climbing on things (they have a climber at school) but Vivi has always been the more advanced climber (he’s also heavier and generally less nimble). He’s a total cuddle bug, loves to be held and cuddled all the time and has his two fingers in his mouth most of the time. He likes books now (he didn’t when he was younger) and will ask for them, but mostly likes the ones with things that move/flaps that open, and will often wander away mid-book if it’s one without. He doesn’t show much interest in art, but loves to sing and listen to music and will dance easily. He and Vivi both love animals – they love to spot them from our windows or when we’re out and about, and Jude will say “meow meow” or “woof woof” in the cutest voice. He has such an adorable giggle and is a super easy crowd. It seems like he’s smiling about 97% of the time. Both Jude and Vivi love to play games with people – the sort of thing where a pattern of you-do-this then I-do-that repeats itself over and over and they can predict what will happen and just laugh and laugh. Oh, and if Jude is playing with something and it’s time for bed he’ll often object, until I say “say night night to the balloon (for example)” and suddenly he’s fine and saying “bye bye balloon!”

I feel badly that Jude’s paragraph is so short compared to our other two, but the truth is that he’s the least complicated of the three. I knew it would shake out that way before I wrote a single word about any of them. They’re so unique and interesting and fun in combination with one another. I’m excited to see how they continue to grow, how their interests evolve, and who they all become. I also wish that they would all slow down a little. Last night I tucked in sleeping Jonah before I went to bed and marveled at how big he looks, especially in bed. There’s something about seeing them completely still that accentuates their growth for me. I need them to stay little for awhile longer, it all just moves too quickly.

*all photos in this post by