Thursday, May 31, 2012

weighing in

And now, for our official 9 month stats.

In the pink corner, we have Frances Katherine, weighing in at a whopping 15 lbs 3 oz.  She's not on the growth chart for her birth age, and for her adjusted age is only at the 9th percentile.  At 25.75 inches tall, she won't be dunking a basketball anytime soon.

In the blue corner, Barnes Howard is checking in at 18 lbs 13 oz.  This puts him in the 21st percentile for his real age, and the 40th for his adjusted age.  Poor guy looks giant next to his petite sister, but it turns out he is smaller than average even for his adjusted age!  He's an impressive 28 inches long, though he too has little hope of ever dunking a ball.

Our little ones may be on the small side, but they are healthy, happy and growing every day.  Much to be thankful for!

Monday, May 28, 2012


My sweet little 9 month olds, are officially 3/4 of a year old...just 3 short months from your first birthday!  I cannot believe how much you have grown and changed lately.  Each day, you impress us even more with your new skills and curiosity.  This is such a fun stage...I wish it would slow down a bit so I could savor it even more. 

Barnes, you are our little wild man.  You work so hard crawling, pulling up, and rolling around all day that you pass out quickly at nap time.  Standing is your favorite right want to stand all day long, and you try to pull up on everything--your toys, the couch, chairs, mommy and daddy's legs, the dishwasher--whatever you can find.  You are currently getting your second tooth, and you aren't very happy about it.  You've started babbling more and more, and we love hearing your sweet voice sing through the house all day. 

Frances, you are truly the sweetest little girl that God could have ever made.  You love to be tickled--you light up and laugh your angelic little giggle, and mommy and daddy just melt.  Your gummy, toothless smile is one of our favorite sights.  You love toys, and you love to put things in and take things out of your cake pan.  You also love to blow bubbles.  Sometimes we find you drenched from all the bubbles you made.  We think you are trying to talk to your brother sometimes, too, but he's not quite ready to talk back.  You aren't happy all the time, though.  You are getting frustrated that you haven't figured out how to move yet.  You scoot in circles on your belly, put you haven't quite mastered forward motion. 

You are both becoming so much more independent.  You hold your own bottles, and you prefer finger foods that you can self-feed to anything off a spoon.  You can entertain yourselves for longer periods, and you sleep through the night now (12 hours!) without any help from mom and dad.  We are so, so proud of you.  Don't become too independent, though.  Mommy doesn't want you to grow up too fast!

We love you so much and are so thankful for you both,
Mom & Dad

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the end???

How do you know when you are finished?

This is the question keeping me up at night as I weigh my pumping future.  Tomorrow the babies will be 9 months old.  9 months!  And I'm still pumping.  That means I made it to 150% of my goal.  By my rough estimate, I have pumped over 1,400 times and produced well over 13,000 ounces of milk.  So I should be proud, right?  I should feel like I really accomplished something, having pumped for this long while taking care of infant twins.  So stopping should be easy.  But it's not.

For two big reasons, I cannot seem to say goodbye to the chain pump.  First, my babies love my milk.  Seriously...they prefer it to any other substance they are allowed to eat.  While I swell with pride watching them guzzle down my hard-earned liquid gold, it makes deciding to quit a bit more difficult.  In reality, though, the twins are getting older.  They are eating more and more solid food, and they take their formula like champs as well.  Plus, we've gotten through the most critical breastmilk stages.

The second reason, then, is the real problem.  Guilt.  Whether I pump for one more day, one more week, or until they are one year old, I know I'll be flooded with guilt when I finally stop.  I have lots of guilt surrounding their birth--guilt that I couldn't keep them in long enough, guilt that I didn't get to kiss them in the delivery room, guilt that they weren't held until they were 4 days/8 days old.  I feel guilty that I didn't work harder to teach them to nurse, thereby robbing them and me of that sweet bonding experience.  So the real reason I haven't stopped yet is about me, not them.  I'm honestly not certain that I'm ready to pile on more guilt just yet. 

I can feel the end coming, though.  When the twins went down to two naps, I had to cut my pumping sessions to 3 per day.  Then surgery threw me for quite a loop, and I haven't fully recovered.  It feels like it did when I first started.  It hurts, it scars my body, and it's not getting easier.  I think my boobs are trying to tell me that they have had it--they have officially checked out of this game.  So how soon will the end come?  I'm not quite sure, but I know for certain that I'm closer to the end than to the beginning.

my frozen supply...and yes that's milk in the shoebox and under the shoebox.  this is an old picture, though.  we had to throw out the food in the drawer to make more room and now have an official "milk only" freezer.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I've been laying low for a week now, recovering from outpatient surgery.  Yes....for the second time in less than 9 months I had my abdomen invaded.  The same little booger that likely caused us to resort to IVF to get pregnant (endometriosis) came back with a vengeance post-twins.  So last Wednesday my talented doctor removed the evil least until it grows back.

I learned a lot in the last 7 days, and I wanted to share a few of these lessons.
  • Facing any procedure, no matter how major or minor, is much scarier once you are a parent.  The night before surgery I couldn't stop thinking about what I would want the twins to know if I failed to wake up after anesthesia.  Depressing, yes, but part of every parent's reality.  I cannot imagine parenting with a chronic illness that required continuous treatment...
  • Fasting for approximately 36 hours when breastfeeding twins is hell.  I have never felt so physically terrible.  I would rather have to have a layover in the Atlanta airport for every flight for the rest of my life than do that again....that's how bad it was.
  • Recovering from anesthesia is actually a skill that you can improve.  I have famously told nurses I was going to die post-surgery.  After being put to sleep four times in four years, I now wake up ready for chicken fingers.
  • When in a hospital, always order chicken fingers.  They are always your safest option.  And ignore the nurse who says you have to order a liquid tray first. 
  • Good babysitters are a true treasure.  Two of our fabulous sitters kept the twins on surgery day from 6:30 a.m. until after 7:00 p.m.  Not having to worry about whether the babies were okay made the day oh so much easier.
  • If you are lucky enough to have a spouse or partner who treats your health as a team sport, be thankful.  A trip to a hospital is a stark reminder of just how grateful you should be for your support system.  I am so, so blessed to have Andrew as my partner in this crazy life.

Friday, May 18, 2012

vote for me, y'all

Over the last year, I have fallen in love with blogging.  I so enjoy committing our memories to words and sharing our stories with family and friends.  This is often my only adult outlet during a day filled with bottles, baby food, and diapers.  Many of you have encouraged me during this time, telling me that you actually enjoy reading this little site.  As someone who loves to write, this is the highest of compliments.   

So, I have submitted my blog to a site called "Circle of Moms."  They have a category specifically for moms of multiples and are currently in the voting phase to determine this year's top 25.  I am a latecomer to the field, but I would so appreciate your vote.  You can vote once per day for the next 5 days.  You can vote by clicking the button on the right, and then finding Set of Shafers (which will be under the pending approval tab until sometime Saturday).  Or you can click HERE and I think you can vote directly from my profile.

Thanks so much!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

mother's day

Mother's Day.....I haven't really figured out my feelings on this one quite yet.  Andrew made sure that my first Mother's Day was fabulous.  Breakfast (with mimosas) in bed, a card to keep forever, a beautiful necklace with tokens engraved with "B&F" and the twins' birthday.  Really, he could not have done a better job.  Was it fabulous?  Yes.  Do I enjoy being showered with love?  Yes.  Do I think Mother's Day is a great idea?  Not so sure.

When we draw attention to the state of being a mother, we cannot escape drawing equal attention to those who are not.  Today, my thoughts have been with women still fighting to get pregnant.  Women waiting to be matched with their adoptive child.  Women who have lost pregnancies or babies.  Women who have lost their adult children.  Women who carried a child for 9 months, then made the brave decision to allow another woman to be that child's mother.  Women who have lost their mothers.  Women who never really had mothers. 

At the end of mass this morning, the priest asked all mothers to stand and receive a special blessing.  I stood, but I cringed a bit.  Somewhere in that crowd was a woman who longed to stand with us.  To her, and to all women for whom this day is difficult, I send my love today.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

a new adventure

We have big news.  In a surprising turn of events, the Shafer family has decided to move to West Lafayette, Indiana.  Andrew accepted a position in development at Purdue University.  This is a great opportunity for him, and for many reasons this seemed like the right thing at the right time.  Accordingly, we will be spending the next 7 or so weeks getting the house on the market, packing, and saying our farewells. 

Though we are excited about this adventure, we are sad to leave Knoxville.  This place holds almost all of our joint memories, both good and bad.  Andrew and I met here, fell in love here, and began our life together here.  It was in Knoxville that we lost our first three precious babies, and it was in Knoxville that our hearts filled beyond measure as we met our sweet twins.  Between the two of us, we graduated from UT four times.  Orange and white will always be staples in our family (and our wardrobe), and despite any distance we will continue to be the most loyal Volunteers.

"What hearts cemented in that name bind land to stranger land."  
-University of Tennessee Alma Mater

Monday, May 7, 2012

meeting our angels

B&F here, back to fill you in on more of our recent adventures.  Mom and dad are always thinking of fun stuff to do together--we've been to the zoo, the aquarium, the park, on picnics--you know, the normal kid stuff.  But recently we got to do something that not many babies get to do....we met our angels.

In our storybooks, angels have halos and wings, so we were a little confused at first because these angels looked pretty normal.  They couldn't fly and they didn't glow, so we weren't sure why they were so special or why mommy made such a big deal about us meeting them.  But mommy and daddy explained that without these special people, we wouldn't be here today.  You see, we are a product of a lot of love, a lot of faith, and a lot of science & medicine--what mommy calls the perfect recipe.  This special doctor and his staff had to mix all these ingredients just right to make sure that we got to meet mommy and daddy last fall.  And according to mommy, even before we were created, these angels were helping her prepare for us by holding her hand when she felt sad and missed us (can you believe our mommy missed us even before we existed?!?!). 

with Dr. Donesky at the Fertility Center's Spring Celebration

with Sandy and Shelly
We are so thankful for our angels, and so thankful for the many families they have helped to bring together.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


As the twins mentioned in their last post, the past two weeks have been full of fun and adventure.  Perhaps the most momentous occasion for me, though, happened on a regular Wednesday two weeks ago.  On April 18th, the twins turned 34 weeks old.  They had officially been in the world for the same amount of time that they grew in me.

I'm not sure why this hit me so hard.  Perhaps it was because I so wanted more time for them inside last fall.  No matter how deep that desire, however, time was not a gift I could give.  Or perhaps it was because, through the miracle of medicine, I knew that this 34 week mark did not mean the end of anything.  They have time now.  Time to grow, learn, and develop.  Time to play with their puffs as we work on self-feeding. Time to drench every bib I put on them in less than 30 minutes.  Time to interact with each other and with mom & dad.  Time to grab the dogs and laugh when they bark.  Time to light up the world with their smiles and laughter.

Of course, we all know that tomorrow is not promised, that each day is a gift.  I am just so thankful that, for now, it looks like B&F will have many more "tomorrow gifts" to open in their future.

meeting Barnes at 34 weeks gestation

34 week old Barnes
meeting Frances at 34 weeks gestation

34 week old Frances

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

road trip

Hello to all of our bloggie friends!  We have been keeping mom so busy that she hasn't had time to write.  We didn't want you to forget about us, though, so we thought we should check in and tell you about a few things we've done recently. 

A week and a half ago, we took our first major road trip to see our cousins in Virginia.  Mom said that it would be a seven hour drive, but she was took us 10 hours to get there and two days to get home!  Since Virginia is such a LONG way away, we had to take lots of breaks.  Our favorite break was a an Exxon and dad said that was really classy.

When we finally made it, we went to our first pool party.  It was our cousin Nathan's fourth birthday, and we were so excited to celebrate with him.  Dad said we couldn't swim with the big kids yet, though, but don't worry--mom made sure we wore white terrycloth outfits to fit in with the pool theme.

Our cousins Nathan and Suzanna are really neat.  They are older than us, so they get to stay up later.  Apparently they even get to play after we go to bed!

We got to spend lots of time playing together, which was really fun.  We love playing with our cousins!

On our way back to Tennessee, we tried to go to some place called Monticello.  The wait for a tour was pretty long, though, and the lady said something about kicking us out if we caused a disturbance, so we just read the brochure instead.

The best part of the trip, though, was on the way home.  Since it was such a LONG drive, we stayed in a hotel one night.  While we were there, mom and dad let us take a bath together for the first time.  We LOVED it!  We splashed and laughed and had the best time together.  Now we get to take baths together every time!

When we finally got home, mom and dad said we were suddenly 8 months old!  We didn't know that going to Virginia made you older, but apparently it does.

We hope you've been having as much fun as we have!  We'll write again soon to tell you more about all the new things we've been doing.

Love to all-