Friday, May 23, 2014

Look what I got! GoVoxBox


Check out what I got in the mail! As a member of Influenster, a free-to-join community of trendsetters and educated consumers, every month, thousands of members receive complimentary boxes of full-sized products to test, rate and review!

I was selected to receive the #GoVoxBox this month! As a recipient, here's some of what I'll be trying out:

Look for my product reviews to come! 

You too can become a member of Influenster! To check out the latest and greatest reviews and become an Influenster, click here!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Night at the Drive-In

Since having the quads, one of the challenges we face is finding things to do as a family where we won't attract a lot of public attention, yet we can still get out of the house and have some fun, so I was excited to find out that there was a drive-in movie theater not far from home!

What a great idea! We could easily load everyone up in our van, pack pillows and blankets to pad the back and lay down babies, and take a few chairs for us to sit on. I quickly Googled The Showboat Drive In in Hockley, Texas to see what the fuss was about. Thinking we'd be able to see old movies, I was surprised when I found out that for $6 an adult, you got a double-feature of two new release movies in the comfort of your own vehicle! Immediately, I told my husband what I'd found and we were sold! What a great way to get out of the house!

On Saturday, we began the preparations early in the afternoon. We planned to see Godzilla followed by Captain America. We knew we'd need to time feedings just right so we could enjoy the movie but felt good knowing we could sit in the back of the van and feed babies if we needed to. We packed up supplies, dressed babies (and ourselves) and we were off. We went early so that we'd have time to feed everyone and visit the concession stand for dinner before the first movie started. That was a good thing! The place was CROWDED! How could it be that everyone in Houston knew about this place but us? Luckily, we were able to find a spot that was semi-close and still gave us plenty of room for the babies. 

We we arrived, we set about taking all of the babies out of the car so that we could remove the car seats and put down the back seat. I couldn't help but snicker as I watched the people's eyes in the car next to us grow bigger and bigger as we brought out one baby, then another, and another, and finally another. After the fourth, the guy couldn't hold back any longer. He asked "how many babies do you guys have in there"? I assured him that was all but that next time, we'd be sure to bring our dog like he did! 

Once Adam had removed car seats and converted the back of the van into what would be our "movie room", I set out padding it with lots of blankets and pillows. I arranged all of our diaper bags so we could easily access our supplies. Then it was feeding time for four little mouths. After they ate, Daddy wrapped them in swaddles as it got kind of cool as the sun went down. I settled the babies in the back of the van while Daddy and Grammy went to get sustenance for us adults! Just in time, they came back with burgers, fries, popcorn, candy and drinks. A few minutes later, the lights on the screen came on signifying the movie was getting ready to start. We tuned our car stereo in to the station that would air the movies on our screen and settled in and enjoyed our snacks while we watched Godzilla underneath the stars. 

Mommy & Daddy with all babies in our movie mobile!

As people who grew up on when drive-ins had already past their hay day, this was a new experience for both my husband and me. Grammy said that it reminded her exactly of going to the movies with her Dad as a child. It was a neat experience to see the movie in the privacy of our own van, underneath the stars with the sun setting in the background and later a big moon to the left of the screen. At one point during the film, I caught a glimpse of a falling star and pointed it out to Adam. 

There was a short intermission in between Godzilla and Captain America and then the second film came on. A lot of people left during the intermission so we got a closer spot. Slowly during Captain America the babies began waking them up but it was so nice to be able to change them and feed them without disturbing anyone else. 

 It was a late night as we didn't get home until almost 3 AM (which just so happened to be feeding time again) but is was so worth it for a night out of the house! We will definitely back to The Showboat soon! Besides the people in the car next to us, only one other couple noticed how many babies we had and came up to talk to us. It was the first time we'd been anywhere that I didn't feel completely overwhelmed.

Four conked out babies

Our advice if you decide to go, get there early and make sure you bring cash as they do not except cards. Bring a board game or something fun to do as a family while you wait! There is also a playground for the kids to enjoy while waiting.While you could probably easily bring in your own snacks and drinks, they rely on concession stand sales to stay in business and since their prices are really reasonable (not at all what you'd expect at a normal theater), I recommend visiting the snack bar for food.  Be sure to pack chairs and blankets (it was downright chilly on the night we went) and dress comfy! You get to watch in your own car so why not wear PJs! Next time we go, I'm going to dress the babies in their jammies and bring lounge chairs for the adults. Who knows, maybe we'll see you there!

Monday, May 19, 2014

What I Don't Know...

In my twenties, I watched a lot of my friends and siblings have babies so I got a lot of practice with caring for babies. These days, I think back fondly to some of those memories. Taking my nieces for outings to the zoo or the movies and spoiling them rotten. Babysitting my twin nieces and giving them baths. There’s one memory in particular that stands out to me. One of my dear friends and I decided to take her babies to the mall one day. It was her first outing with her stroller. We got it out and pushed it around the mall with no issues. No issues that is, until, we got ready to leave. We were successfully able to take the baby out and get him in his car seat, unload our bags, and empty out the stroller. The issue came when we tried to fold it back down to it’s original state. Try as we might, we just weren’t able to do it. I remember the laughter we shared as we crammed it in it’s full, not-compact state into the back of her Tahoe and driving away feeling like everyone was staring at these two dumb girls who can’t even figure out how to fold down a stroller.

Since getting pregnant last summer and having the babies in January, I’ve learned a lot. I can change four babies at 3 AM, groggy eyed, and half asleep after just going to bed a few hours earlier and usually get it right. (In the beginning, there were times we’d wake up at 6 AM and I’d have a new diaper just put on over the old diaper. Yeah, I know. Bad mommy!) I know that I’m blessed with four amazing little miracles for a reason, but I can’t help but think about the things I don’t know.

I don’t know a normal pregnancy or what it’s like to carry a baby for nine months. From the start, we saw our babies on an ultrasound for every single doctor visit. I hear this is not normal and that in fact, you may only get to see your baby on an ultrasound once or twice during the entire pregnancy. I can’t imagine. I always looked forward to going to the doctor so I could see my little nuggets growing and moving inside of me.  My entire pregnancy felt rushed because I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry them to full term (even though I thought I’d go longer than I did).

I don’t know what it’s like to carry a baby for nine months. It was hard to see my pregnancy end at just 28 weeks and 5 days. Go to the hospital, have a baby, and walk out three days later? What’s that? On the day I checked out of the hospital, I just went downstairs to the 8th floor NICU to love on my babies. When I had to leave to go on about my life, I felt sad knowing my little miracles were being looked after by nurses and not me.

I don’t know what it feels like to take care of one baby. For me, everything is times four. Four outfits a day, four baths a night, four bottles at a time. Tummy time times four. Four times the snuggles and love though too! I have no concept of what it is like for mothers raising one baby at a time. A few days ago, I watched a mom and someone who appeared to be a grandmother unloading a baby from their car. They seemed to be able to take forever and in no rush at all. For us, unloading babies from the car in a perfectly timed event. Everyone knows their role and even when executed properly, I’ve usually broken a sweat by the time we are done.

While I’ve written in the past about how strange it is for people to ask us so many questions when they see us about what life is like for us, it hasn’t really occurred to me until now, that maybe there’s a side of motherhood that’s completely foreign to me. Regardless of whether you’re raising one baby at a time or ten babies at a time, the common denominator is we’re all mommies! One baby or fifty babies, we definitely all go through some of the same struggles, just in different ways. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Birthday to my Hubby!

My hubby and the "puppy" he bought me!

Today, May 12, is Adam’s birthday! I thought that given the fact that it’s his special day, I’d write a special post today in recognition of him and all he does for me and our family.

When Adam and I met, I’m pretty sure that he never expected to become my husband and much less, the father of quadruplets! (I know I didn’t expect it.) It’s amazing what God has done with just a couple years of our lives.  When Adam and I first met, one of the first things he realized about me was the strong desire in my heart to become a mother. Of course, once we were serious, I shared with him my struggles with infertility and how I didn’t know if I’d ever get to be a mom. He promised me when we were just dating that one day, he’d find a way to make me a mother. So he bought me a puppy…JUST KIDDING! (But he did buy me a puppy!)

In January of 2013, I turned 33 and we began to pray hard for a baby. I began to endure test after test and Adam stuck by my side through it all even while going through his own battery of tests. When I started to have doubts, and would get depressed as I struggled with the grief that comes along with infertility, Adam stuck by my side. He went right along with me to appointment after appointment. I’ll never forget walking out of our first visit with the specialist feeling defeated and thinking that yet again, I’d never be a mom. Adam grabbed my hand and told me to just stick with it and try what the doctor recommended just one time. I did.
A few weeks after the first cycle of treatments, we found out we were expecting. Close friends who knew what we were doing joked with us that we would probably be pregnant with twins or triplets.  

About a month later, in September, we went back to confirm the heartbeat. Adam was by side (actually standing behind me with his hand on my back) when the doctor broke the news to us that not only was I pregnant, but there were four separate heartbeats. He stood next to me and held my hand as we heard some of the first beats of each baby’s heart. When the doctors advised us to reduce, he was the first to say “not a chance”. He went to every single doctor’s appointment with me and stood by me through what was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, a quadruplet pregnancy. Adam reminded me constantly that we were in this together and we were going through the pregnancy on faith; faith in God. He took care of me throughout the pregnancy, driving me to work and doctor’s appointments, cleaning up after me, cooking for me, moving us (both packing and unpacking), and even as far as shaving my legs for me when I couldn't bend over anymore.

On the day that Evelyn’s water broke, Adam was working. I had told him earlier that morning that I had some weird pain in my back and he wanted to come home at that point but I told him it was probably nothing and to give me until lunch to see if it went away. When lunch came, I stood up, and her water broke, the first call I made was to tell Adam. His immediate reaction was to jump in his car and rush to get me. As you know if you’ve read, we probably wouldn’t have made it that way, so my mom drove me until we could meet the EMS off of 290 who took me the rest of the way to Texas Children’s. Adam was waiting just outside of Houston and when the ambulance went by, he was right behind us and was in the room almost at the same time they wheeled me in.

On the day they were born, Adam was on the hospital couch asleep in the room when I told him he needed to call the nurse for me. We were both panicked and surprised when they told us they were wheeling me down to labor and delivery but Adam stuck by me the whole time. He even stood outside the OR while I was getting my epidural and snuck a few pictures through the window.

And now, with four babies at home, our life is total chaos. Our sleep schedules are completely off and rarely do either of us get a full night’s sleep. It’s almost unheard of for us to have a few minutes alone to ourselves and a date night is nearly impossible with the stage we are in now. The best way to put it is that our babies pretty much monopolize both of our lives. For a lot of men, this is completely overwhelming and foreign to have to give up so much of yourself for such a tiny, poopy, crying human being. I’ll be honest, there are times when I’m pretty sure both of us have been at our ready to throw in the towel. But through all of it, Adam has stuck by my side. He’s been there for 3 AM feedings right along with me. He knows how to swaddle our kids better than probably anyone (including me). He sits and talks to the babies and on a couple of occasions, I’ve walked in on him tickling a baby on the changing table. He knows how to wash and fold baby clothes by the masses, wash and make bottles in an assembly line, bathe four babies at once, and he’s perfecting his culinary skills by making meals for us, all while he handles the “manly jobs” like mowing the yard, working on the cars, fixing whatever breaks and what may have you.

I know it’s definitely not easy being a quad dad! It’s hard for me and by nature, women are built to be able to have patience and softness with their children. Everything you go through with one baby is hard on a couple but we’re doing it times four. Adam has done a beautiful job of seeing where he’s needed and being there for us. The next few months and into the next year is sure to bring on tons more changes for our family but I am happy to know that I’ll go through all of this with him right beside me.

So today, on your birthday, I want to say thank you Adam! Thank you for loving me, for realizing that while neither of us is perfect, we love one another as God wants us to and that’s enough. Thank you for helping me to realize my dreams, for sticking by my side even in the unexpected, and for your willingness to work hard for all of the goals we set out for our marriage and our family. Most of all, thank you for helping me to create a home where we do second chances, we do real, we do mistakes, we do I’m sorry, we do loud, we do family, and most of all, we do LOVE! I love you, Adam! Happy birthday!

Quad Daddy in action!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mother's Day for the Infertile Woman

Mother’s Day:  a day meant to honor the women in our lives who take on probably the biggest responsibility a human can ever be entrusted with; making another human being from start to finish! 

Lately the TV has been flooded with beautiful commercials honoring moms. The stores are full of beautiful displays holding the perfect card, tons of gifts, and fragrant flowers.  But what about the women who want nothing more in the world than to become a mom but for whatever reason, can’t?

It is good and right to honor mothers. However, we must recognize that many infertile women find this day almost unbearable. This Mother’s Day will be my first and while I’m super excited that I get to celebrate this year, I can’t help but remember the pain I felt each year that went by as I battled infertility.  I was always happy to celebrate the moms in my life! Heaven knows that I’ve been blessed with a wonderful, beautiful, and kind Mother who’s been there for me through thick and through thin. I love that I have the opportunity to honor her each year.  But to suffer through Mother’s Day year after year, yearning for a child of my own was often much harder on the inside than I made it look.

Infertility is usually suffered in silence. Infertility carries a stigma in our society so couples struggling with it often do so alone and in private. It isn’t always because these women are bitter or envious that makes the day so hard. The day is simply a painful reminder of their unfulfilled longings. As a woman who battled (and continues to battle) infertility, I longed so badly to hold my own baby in my arms yet year after year went by and that prayer went unanswered.  Even this year, having just birthed four, beautiful, healthy babies, knowing that if I were to want to get pregnant again, it would take another miracle is extremely difficult for me to accept.  It is particularly disheartening when you know that God made women to be able to bear children, yet when you can’t, you feel as though you are lacking and unable to fulfill the role God put you on Earth for. Some days, it’s difficult to remember that in God, in all His Glory, alone knows what he has in store for you. Many years went by that I’d read 1 Samuel and feel Hannah’s struggle and pray that God would answer my prayers.

Perhaps this year, when honoring the moms in your life, look around to see the woman or women who may not be with child yet but have the desire to be and let them know you’re thinking about them. It need not be a direct reminder or discussion of their struggle, but a simple Mother’s Day Card for the aunt, sister, friend or cousin may be enough to help that individual get through another Mother’s Day.  Personally, I struggled with infertility in silence for many years. I’m not sure if they knew it or not, but the years when I received cards in the mail from my nieces on Mother’s Day were joyous for me. Seeing their little handwriting (or drawings) on a card made me feel like they were thinking of me and I knew that I’d made a difference, however small, in their life.

Alternatively, if you know someone openly struggling with infertility, please be kind to them on this day. Understand they may be sensitive or short. While I’d never recommend trying to start a conversation with them about infertility, if they bring it up, please don’t try to offer solutions. Don’t ask them if they’ve tried this or that, but simply listen. Let them cry. Let them be angry. Let them sulk. The emotions they go through are a constant roller coaster. Each month that passes is a constant reminder of their battle and each month that passes and results in yet another “not pregnant” means a new month of mourning the dreams of pregnancy.  Offer to pray with them and then hold their hand and pray right then and there and ask God to bless them with a child if He so desires.

As the world around us celebrates motherhood this year, please remember those who struggle with infertility. Remember, even moms who already have children can still struggle and for anyone who longs to have a child, whether their first or fifth, and can’t, it’s a battle. Your kindness and recognition on this day can sometimes play a role in helping her get through this emotional day. Trust me, those simple kindnesses are not soon forgotten! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Four Babies Go to the Doctor!

Archibeque Quads Pediatrician Visit - April 2014 - All over 8 lbs

For most people, I imagine a trip to the pediatrician involves throwing a couple diapers and a bottle into the diaper bag, strapping the baby in the car seat and taking off. Not for us!

A trip to the pediatrician for quads involves perfect planning and execution. It's an art form; one that requires perfect timing and organization to pull it off with a melt down (and by melt down, I mean Mommy and Daddy). 

The planning starts early, usually the night before with packing of two diaper bags; one with at least 10 diapers, a full package of wipes, 4 extra onesies, 6 blankets, 4 bibs, 6 burp cloths, 2 full size bottles of Purell, diaper rash cream and lotion and another bag with four bottles and 32 ounces of formula. The next day, planning continues with careful timing of feedings for the day. We don't want four screaming babies halfway to the doctor's office so they must be fed just before we leave the house. All four babies must be changed and dressed appropriately, strapped into their car seats, and loaded into the van. 

When we arrive at the doctor's office, more execution takes place as we each have our jobs. I get bags organized and Purell ready to put in the strollers while Adam unfolds the strollers and gets them baby ready. In the matter of about two minutes, we can get all four seats out of the van and clicked into the strollers. Then, we're off!!

Inside we go. Usually we are stopped more than once by random strangers asking questions. Often, we have to avoid them and just keep going. We don't do it to be rude but there's a lot of reasons why. First of all, safety! We are pushing four infants through a busy parking lot. We have to pay attention to our surroundings and if we stop to answer questions, we are distracted from our number one priority. Another safety concern is the health of our babies. Sick people go to the doctor so we have to be aware of who is around us. We are watchful when getting in elevators and usually, we have our babies' faces covered up but we still want to minimize exposure as much as we can. Finally, time! I can't tell you how long everything takes with as many babies as we have. If we stop and tell everyone all we'd like to about our babies, we'd never make it to an appointment. 

Once we make it in, we check in. If it's anything other than a well visit, we have to pay a co-pay of $25 per child. Yup, $100 doctor visit! Babies aren't cheap and that old saying "cheaper by the dozen" doesn't seem to apply to children. 

Back to the room we go! We take all four babies into one room, unload them & push the strollers into the storage room. Everyone is stripped down and weighed. The nurse usually asks some questions and takes temperatures etc before the doctor comes in. Once the doctor comes in, we function pretty much as an assembly line. One by one, we go through each baby addressing any issues/concerns and she looks over each baby carefully. At the end, we talk through general questions, developmental milestones to look for, and things we need to do or look for. 

After we're done, it's a reverse process all the way home. By the time we're done, it's always time to eat again when we get home so we unload the babies, put car seats away in the corner (really it's a wall), warm bottles, change everyone and it's back to our new "normal".