A Post About Guilt

{ a photo entirely irrelevant to this post: my sweet pudgy Lucy in her first sink bath }

Here's what I've been thinking about lately:

I still have some guilt in the dusty corners of my heart. Guilt that's been there since Max and Maggie were born and that has lately been rearing its ugly head. Usually I only feel this guilt when I see pictures of babies in the NICU, their too-skinny baby bodies hooked up to monitors and wires and tubes. Even then I don't often recognize it for what it actually is; I only feel it as pain.

When our pediatrician suggested, at Max's 18-month well visit, that Max might need speech therapy, I felt that as pain at first also. I didn't understand why it hurt me; I have truthfully said several times since then {and I'll say it again!} that I'm not worried about Max. I'm not worried about his language skills or any kind of developmental delays. He's a happy, healthy, smart little boy and he makes me so proud and there is nothing about him that concerns me. {Okay, so I get a little concerned that he likes to walk around with his blankie over his head, but only because he always ends up running into something and hurting himself.} It was the phrase "this isn't uncommon for children who were born prematurely" that did it.

Because honestly, it boils down to the fact that I feel guilty that my twins were born seven weeks early. I feel guilty that they had to spend two weeks in the NICU. And oh, so much guilt that I couldn't be there with them every hour for their first two weeks of life. That I couldn't hold them close to me when they needed me so badly. That they were pricked with IVs in their hands and feet and foreheads, and I wasn't even there when it happened to experience the pain with them.

I feel guilty because I was 24 {and an immature 24} when I was pregnant with my twins. I didn't understand yet the responsibility that was being placed on me, and I didn't take seriously enough the care that I already owed my children. When my doctors started giving me physical restrictions to encourage a healthy pregnancy {no sex, no exercise, then bed rest, and eventually continued monitoring and hospitalization}, I stubbornly chafed against rules that I saw as unnecessary. I insisted that I was fine, and I figured my babes were fine. I thought they would be okay if they were born at 32 weeks, and I viewed early labor as being preferable to a four-week-long hospital stay.

I cringe when I remember those thoughts. How could I?

My attitude changed immediately when they were born. I saw them, my tiny four-pound babies, and suddenly my heart was in constant danger of breaking. I was overwhelmed by love, more love than I had ever felt in my life, but it was almost unbearable to see them struggling to survive and adapt. I was proud of my children for being so strong, but I was also so sorry; babies shouldn't have to be strong. I should have been strong for them.

If there's one thing I learned during the two weeks they stayed in the NICU, it's that my life wasn't about me anymore. It's a lesson that I've tried to remember for the past 21 months, those words that ran through my head again and again: it's not about you.

At this point, it's almost irrelevant whether Max's speech abilities are related to his premature birth. I can't blame all of the obstacles my twins will face in their lives on myself, and I can't go back and change what happened.

I'm not really sure how to end this post; I don't have a way to wrap everything up nicely or a message to take away. This post was more about working through my feelings than anything else. Thank you for reading, though, if you're still reading.


Family Pictures

I mentioned almost two months ago that we were planning on getting our family picture taken. Well, it's been a long time coming {what with photo shoots being scheduled, rained out, and then rescheduled}, but they're here! They're here! I got the e-mail yesterday that our pictures were ready and I did a little dance of joy. Hurray hurray for family pictures.

I honestly couldn't be more thrilled with them. Leah did an amazing job of capturing how we are in our lives right now and our relationships with each other, which is exactly what I wanted. {If you live nearby, you should check her out. Oh yes yes yes, you should.} I especially love that she got shots of Max with his blankie and Maggie with her teddy; those lovies are dear to my heart.

Without further ado, here are all the family pictures in the world. {My apologies to those who would prefer fewer pictures; I'm not up for getting yelled at by those who want to see them all.}

All photos in this post by Leah Watkins Photography.


I Am...

...hoping that this cough my three little ones have goes away soon. It's not fun to have around.

...loving the little kid Maggie is turning into. I love the way she mimics how I take care of Lucy with her Teddy, how clearly she enunciates "yep!" and "nope!" when I ask her questions, and the games that she plays all by herself.

...thinking about speech therapy for Max, and trying to put my feelings about that idea into words. Also, trying not to feel guilty. Because constantly, about everything, I find a way to feel guilty.

...already working on my Christmas wishlist. This is on there, as well as this and this. Also this, which I still love.

...wishing wishes that Lucy's rolls never go away and she stays a squishy little cuddlebug forever. When that baby girl looks at me with her big eyes and smiles, she just kills me dead. But the yanking off when she's done nursing? And the getting distracted every 30 seconds? Those I could live without.

...unashamedly unsubscribing from certain Facebook friends' news feeds.

...still getting over the sudden cancellation of my Thursday NBC comedies. I had a rough couple of minutes there when I realized all that was coming on was The Voice.

...calculating in my head -- is there any way to opt out of cooking entirely? As in, for the rest of my life, is that an option? And if so, how do I get in on that? I can't express how tired and frustrated I am with feeding Max and Maggie, who always seem to be hungry and never seem to want to eat what I give them.

...spending way too much time on Instagram. How much is too much, you ask? Fifteen minutes five times a day is too much, says I.