The Twins Are ONE!!!

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Well, their official birthday is the 9th--but we celebrated this past weekend. Can you believe it's been a year? What an amazing, crazy, exhausting, exhilarating, stressful, joyous year it has been! I woke up on the morning of the twins' birthday party and thought to myself: "I SURVIVED! Even better, I've never been happier!"

When I think about the ordeal of premature labor, emergency C-section, NICU, leaving the hospital without my babies, bringing my twins home and the first year of their lives....I'm amazed at what we've been through. There were times this past year when I was completely overwhelmed. It all started the day I had my C-section and the babies had been whisked away from me. I lay awake the entire night, worrying about my babies who had been whisked away from me. I remember feeling so empty. I had grown so accustomed to feeling the babies move inside me. That whole night I cried, threw-up, prayed and cried some more. The next morning, Matt snapped this picture of me. I was so upset with him for taking that picture when I wasn't ready for it. But when I look at it now, I realize that it's very rare to have a picture of yourself at your lowest point. I can look at this picture and know that I've come so far. Here's my lowest point:

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Looking at this picture reminds me why I never want to have a C-section again. The pain and the drugs make it harder to see your babies when they look like this (first pic: Jasiel, second pic: Jorai):

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The hospital didn't let me hold or touch my babies for 18 hours after delivery. I can't describe the sheer desperation I felt as the moments and hours ticked by. By the time I made it into the NICU, I was sobbing with relief just to smell them. And my babies were in pain. I remember standing next to Jasiel's incubator while two nurses tried to find a new vein for an IV. Jasiel was screaming in agony as they repeatedly pricked her heel, her head, her wrists. I knew they had to do it, but I got so faint that I had to sit down. I could not watch her suffer.

This experience helped me understand how the Blessed Mother must have felt as she watched her Son, Jesus, be nailed to the cross. As a mother, I can't think of anything more painful than watching your child suffer physical pain. I felt as if I would have done anything to allieve my child's suffering. I wanted to take Jasiel's pain upon myself. I could not stay for long as Jasiel screamed. I had to leave because I was going to be sick. Can you begin to imagine how Mary felt?

Amazingly, my babies began to do better.

Here are Jorai & Jasiel respectively, @ 6 days old:
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I'm so thankful that the NICU was not the end of our story. There were other precious babies in that NICU--so many with weeping mothers like me--and perhaps some of them did not survive. Today, I remember and say a prayer for these mothers and their children. I remember the mothers who left the hospital without their babies, never to hold or nurse or watch them grow. Today, I remember you. I remember your grief. I remember your story.

By God's merciful grace, my babies' stories continued. After 12 days in the NICU, we took our babies home. Jorai stayed one extra day (she's on the left in this picture).
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We had both babies home several days before Christmas! That was the best Christmas present I had EVER received! Here are the babies in their  First Christmas outfits (Jasiel on left, Jorai on right):

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In so many ways, it has been a whirlwind year. Not only did I give birth to twins, but we sold our house (in a down market--booooo!) and bought a new one (in a down market--yaaaay!). Somehow I managed to nurse the twins for 6 WHOLE MONTHS. I'm extremely proud of that accomplishment. At my lowest point (see above pic) I was certain I would only be able to nurse for a couple of weeks. The nursing paid off. My twins have been healthy (with the exception of one small cold) for the entire year!!

The twins @ 5 weeks:
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The twins @ 3 months (Easter '08):
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The twins @ 5 months:
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7 months:
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8 months:
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10 months @ Halloween '08:
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11 months:
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And here they are eating BIRFDAY CAKE (thank you, Jen, for snapping these shots)!
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This was their first time eating sugar. I don't think they liked it one bit! :)

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My lovely, life-long friend, Eden, attended the party with her son who was born just a few weeks after my twins. In a strangely beautiful twist of fate, our due dates were a day apart. My twins came early, but her baby came bigger! We call my twins the two little piggies and her boy the big, bad wolf!
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Wolfie got the sneezies....AHHHHHH....
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CHOO!
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Thankfully, he didn't blow the house down!

We had a small handful of family and friends celebrate the twins' special, happy day. I felt so happy and refreshed after being with everyone. As the party wound down, the Grandmas put the twins down for a nap. The older children ran outside to play with their neighbor friends and our friend, Joel, pulled out his guitar and played worship songs for awhile (notice our garden gnome on the bottom right is wearing a red ribbon for Christmas!).
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I sat on the front porch, sipping coffee and thinking about this good, wonderful year. I couldn't have done it without the support and love of my husband, family and friends. Whenever I felt like I couldn't go on, someone would call or show up. I'm so immensely grateful. I want to thank each and every one of you for your support and love---my bloggy friends AND my real-life family and friends, too. Thank you. I love you.

All the way my Savior leads me
Cheers each winding path I tread
Gives me grace for every trial
Feeds me with the living bread
Tho my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be
Gushing from the rock before me
Lo a spring of joy I see!

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, TWINS!!!!