Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Drowning in Paynes

Jim Gaffigan describes having four children like this: "Imagine you're drowning... Then someone hands you a baby."

That guy is clever. He always makes me laugh.

Want to hear about some of the things I'm currently "drowning" in? If "no" enjoy the quick chuckle compliments of Jim Gaffigan & be on your way. If "yes" here a little list:

Appointments: in the past 1 week we've had a swallow study, an brutal ROP eye exam, a surgeon appointment, a home nurse visit, an echocardiogram, a gastro appointment, two dental appointments, and a family doctor visit for a shot... Whew! I just got tired all over again from typing all that. They are good news. They are a blessing. They will eventually slow down (so they say)... But they are currently overwhelming.

Crumbs: See previous paragraph then add to all of that Thanksgiving. We had a fabulous time! My sister (who's drowning in even more children than myself) came down to meet her new nephews! It was super to have her six kiddos join forces with my little brood... But having 10 kids present created a wake of crumbs that is down right frightening!

Laundry: our washer is broken... Which makes using cloth diapers super fun!!! Just kidding... About the diapers being fun not the washer. So mountains are forming in the hampers around me.

Fingernails: Now that's a nasty mental picture... but what i mean is the twins need their nails clipped. Desperately. They're like mini Freddy Krugers over here. (Side note: the only thing I actually know about "Freddy Kruger" is that he had long nails.) I notice this dozens of times a day as Maverick is into grabbing & pinching while he drinks his milk... Not pleasant. But I can't seem to locate any of the 9 pairs of fingernail clippers we own when there's a half a moment to clip the 40 tiny baby nails that are outta control.

Snuggles: this one rocks! Everyone needs loves! Everyone wants to be held & rocked & hugged. My big babies too! Not much personal space for now... But I figure I'd better stock up while I can in case adolescence brings a home-wide shortage of snuggle desire. Anyone know how to box these up for later?

I could mention a few more like dirty diapers being stockpiled, baby gear overtaking our living quarters, empty oxygen tanks, holidays that roll up on us like freight trains... But you get the idea. What I want to point out is why I'm not drowning in hopelessness...

Since the rapid doubling of the number of little Paynes around here people have joined us in our craziness. God has lead people to volunteer to hold babies, cook meals, come clean, run errands... you name it. And while the help doesn't take away the overwhelming nature of our current phase of life, it does offer hope. Knowing I have someone who's coming over to help me tomorrow brings a sense that there will be less crumbs. My friends who regularly take my dirty laundry & bring it back clean ensure that my kids don't have to go without undies. Because let's face it my children's wardrobes are very extensive... It's the underwear that's the issue. Getting a longer hug & encouraging words from my studly husband helps me stop freaking out about the mess. Having a friend text me to say she'll show up & hold my babies so I can run with friends gives me the push to do what i need & not just hide in bed all day. These are just a few examples of why even though stuff comes at us with much greater intensity with child 3 & 4 I'd say I'm more hopeful than I felt after just having my first & second children.

So let's keep this up... or get it started elsewhere. Let's stop assuming others are ok because they "only" have 1-2 children, or because they aren't parents, or because their kids are teenagers (or adults). God has protected me from drowning in the "it's always going to be like this" thoughts by showing me that I'm not in this alone. And that's something everyone needs.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Redefining Easy

i have been deceived unintentionally by well-intentioned people. We all have. It happens all the time.

"The G-Tube is easy."

That's what the nurses, doctors, G-tube specialists, & friends who've used them all said. What i didn't realize is that they meant that it's easier than figuring out my own way to get food into my child's stomach without using his mouth or throat. In that light i would agree that a G-tube is easier than doing surgery multiple times a day, injecting food in with a needle or beaming it in Star Trek style... although if that were a viable option i'd totally go with that one.

But i didn't find the G-Tube easy. 

i found it cumbersome & intimidating. There are more steps than i can always remember to prepping it & hooking it up & running it & cleaning it... The site was seepier than i liked at first... then it was wobblier than i thought appropriate... i'm always forgetting to clamp & unclamp at the right times... & when they said that i would know more about the G-Tube than the doctors i didn't realize it was because most doctors don't do G-Tubes on 6 month olds (even if said 6 month old pulled said G-Tube out of his belly at 6AM on a Saturday...) It wasn't natural or easy for me... which was worrisome, frustrating, & humbling for me.

The statements which were intended to encourage me left me wondering if i was just duller than everyone else. It made me question why i wasn't natural at it. The temptation to count myself as unworthy of the task of mothering my baby with cords was very present.

There is a point to me writing this post. & i want to assure you right now that it's not to receive super sweet comments about how i'm a super mom... although i often feel absolutely lifted up by your kind words. It's to share a problem that i think is common to all moms... & maybe just people for that matter. & the problem doesn't lie with the cords that Theodorable currently has attached to his little self. i think the problem lies with the term "easy".

Sometimes we expect easy to mean "posing no difficulty; requiring little effort"... which is the #1 definition of easy (according to Siri... mom-style research happening here). But there are many more definitions than that for the word. When Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30 that His yoke was easy & His burden was light He wasn't saying that following Him didn't require effort. In fact following Jesus is the definition of difficult as we're asked to lay down what we want in exchange for whatever He wants for us. Specifically the word easy here means "agreeable, gentle, gracious, useful, kind" (http://www.gospeltruth.net/1861OE/610102_christs_yoke.htm)... a deeper meaning to the word easy.

Because sometimes things that are agreeable & gracious & useful aren't easy. Like exercising, or nursing a baby, or baking homemade cinnamon rolls, or budgeting, or being consistent with discipline... Things in parenting (like the G-Tube) aren't effortless... but they are worth it. & the truth is they're easier in the long run than doing life without them. 

Yes we survived the first week upon my husband's ability to hook up anything with cords... Yes the only thought i had while reinserting a gastronomy tube into the open hole in my baby's belly was "don't think"... Yes i am improving on my G-tube skills... & it's getting "easier"... but i think i'm going to stop aiming for "easy" & just work at "worth it."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


We realized that having a baby & adopting an infant would be like raising twins. We recognized long ago that we were embarking on a journey that was too big for us. We gave up early & waved the white flag of surrender to the truth that if God was calling us to this He would have to provide the strength, patience, money, love, organization... our everything.

What i didn't realize, nor properly prepare for, was being asked by multiple strangers every time we entered the public realm "Are they twins?"

i'm at a loss... What do i respond? i mean according to Siri (yes... i just asked my phone) Twins are "two offspring borne in a single pregnancy". (Is that how you spell born? Is the "e" necessary? Is Siri thinking of the action movies?) Therefore Maverick & Theo aren't truly twins. i don't want to deceive these sweet strangers who are deeply concerned about the make up of my family... neither do i want to explain from here on out "the pale one i bore from my womb & the tan one came from out of state."

They're both my babies... & always will be. i don't want to start out differentiating between them. The thought that they won't bond as brothers worries me. i fear Theo feeling second-rate or left out. These are things i have to regularly give to God & ask Him to guard my heart against worrying about. Therefore explaining the difference between them multiple times a day is not what i want to be doing... also it's long & we already covered the fact that i'm lost in the grocery store as is.

So here are some alternate answers i've come up with for the question "Are they twins?"

They're a tag-team... Each other's stunt double... They're roommates... Synchronized siblings... "i'm not sure, the stork didn't specify"... They're awesome... Milk sharers... The dynamic duo... They're party poopers... Copycats... Future tennis partners... They're best brothers... They're hungry... Non-biological twins...

That's all i can come up with right now. i'd love to hear any of your suggestions for how to best answer this question. But until it's settled (in a hopefully honest & clever & quick statement) i'll just continue to soak up the amazingness of being the mom of two amazing babies at the same time & share our story with whoever is interested.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What i Need

Want to know one way that i know for sure i'm loved by my family, friends & community?

i'm constantly being asked "What do you need?"... It's amazing... It's humbling... It's generous...

So here's a quick list of the things "i need" in case you're interested...

Peace. i need stillness inside when there's none to be seen around me. i need quietness in my mind when my ears are filled with crying and whining. i need breath when the task seems too heavy to carry. Therefore... i need my time every single day with Jesus. Hearing from His Word... conversing with Him in prayer... being filled & re-filled with His Spirit... & therefore... His peace.

Decisions Made. i have somehow lost my ability to make decisions. This is a dangerous statement because i've always been one of the most indecisive people i know... perhaps... maybe... let me think about it for a while & see if i can think of any one more indecisive & get back to you on it. So losing what little ability i once possessed is kinda pathetic. So if you see me wandering around in Kroger with a dazed look in my eyes just toss some household necessities in my cart & tell me that i can go home now.

Clothes that Fit. Every momma hates this body phase. i'm not complaining about weight gain or skin that hangs where the baby used to hang out... i'm talking about this in-between my maternity wardrobe & my real person clothes. It's an ugly reality that every pair of pants in my house either cuts into my momma belly or falls off my rear-end. So when you see me out in public... just focus on the cute hat i'm probably wearing...

Coffee. Liquid motivation. i have 4 kids 2 of which are infants... so my coffee need is pretty self explanatory. Also it just feels like a treat... i can make it sweet & creamy & sip it when i have to get going in the morning... i can make a special stop for it if i pass a Sheetz (i adore Sheetz)... i can chat with friends while we drink it... it convinces me my husband & friends love me when they bring it to me... so very lovely.

Lunch. And breakfast for that matter. For the past to weeks i continuously find myself realizing it's the afternoon and i haven't really eaten anything of substance... It's not that i don't mean to eat. i truly even go to the kitchen multiple times to eat... but then i get distracted. So while you're throwing things in my Kroger cart please include lots of Starbucks Vias & some granola bars & muffins... Thanks in advance.

Team Work. i can't carry all the bags my children & i require while carrying said children. i was super buff before this pregnancy (body image is always better in a rear-view mirror), but not longer can lift heavy items easily. i know this for sure as i daily try to lift 2 infant carriers. i have no game plan for if i would need to use a public restroom when out with my kids without my husband or friends. It has been incredibly cool to get this chance to "team-build" with my studly husband, adorable "big kids", and dear friends. i couldn't do it without all of you... & if i tried it wouldn't be nearly as awesome. Today i folded clothes with my friends... one held the currently non-content baby while the other folded & i put them right away (while Brice made lunch for Mic). It was the fastest, most efficient, most enjoyable (yes... coffee was involved) laundry experience i've ever been a part of. Let's not keep this limited to moms who have 2 infants... i want to be a part of this scene in differing roles from here on out.

A Massage. Seriously... those infant car seats are stinking heavy! And there is no proper posture for pumping while nursing. And the couple of times i've tried nursing both at once it's kinda resembled an infant wrestling match on my lap... Plus the big kids need held & loved on too. Maybe i could train one of them to rub my back... 

To Run. Not away... just for a little jog. It clears my mind. It settles my emotions. It makes me feel like me. It's kinda like using the pavement to worship...

A Better Way to Convey Gratitude. i'm in DESPERATE need of this. There is simply no way to thank all of my family, friends & community for their outpouring of love. We are undeserving of your elaborate generosity. i'm often moved to tears by your thoughtfulness. You feed us, support us, buy us groceries, stock us with diapers, show up with coffee, watch our kids, love us, take us in when we're cold, pass on clothes, call me, hold my babies, give our big kids special treatment, do my dishes, clean for me, wash our clothes, help us (OK... help Brice) fix things... you ask me what we need... and seek to fulfill it. i need a way to show each of you how full you make my heart. i need a way to let you feel that you have been God's generous hand of provision for us... 

... and i need a plumber. The kids bathroom is stressing me out because nothing in there works properly!!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Craziness in Motion

We don't know how to adopt. Even now as we drive our big car with our adopted son in his car seat behind us... We have no clue how to do this. So when I realized I should look into the need for adoptive or foster parents for children with Down syndrome I asked a friend who has some adoption knowledge. She pointed me to "Reese's Rainbow."

The tag line to this organization, who helps facilitate the over-seas adoptions of children with Down syndrome, is "because every family deserves the blessing of Down syndrome"... This so simply described how I felt about opening our home up to someone who has Down syndrome.

Maybe it was growing up with a good friend whose sister has Down syndrome. Maybe it was getting to meet different kids through my mom being a special education teacher. Maybe it was working with different kids with Down syndrome in swim lessons. Who knows. But meeting my sister's friend's baby who has Down syndrome impacted me so greatly that it's fresh in my mind ten years later. And watching a YouTube video about a sister & her brother who has Down syndrome made me bawl like a baby. My heart has been soft towards the amazing people I've known or observed for as long as I can remember... So maybe it's been for such a time as this...

But how do you bring something like this up to a spouse? Do you just randomly tell him "So I'm thinking we maybe might possibly be called to foster or adopt a child with Down syndrome" right before going to sleep one night? I hope so b/c that's how I did it. And remember how awesome I said my husband is? He didn't call me crazy (like I was certain I was) or try to talk me out of it. He simply said "ok. If you think that's what God's saying lets look into it." He must have the gift of faith.

Looking into it meant calling the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network (NDSAN). They are the most amazing resource! Seriously... They rock! But they told us something that made both Brice & me sit on our deck & cry. In the US 90% of pregnancies that are determined to be Down syndrome babies are ended. God gave us just a glimpse into His heart & it broke ours. If opening up our hearts to the possibility of adopting a child with Down syndrome could help even one person see that this wasn't a death sentence then it'd be worth it... & if we'd actually be blessed enough to have a child come home to us... How amazing!

Through the many phone calls, home study process, finger print fiascos, 1.8 billion papers to fill out... We strove to keep our focus on obeying Jesus' leading & opening our hearts. Mostly because setting my sights on adopting is so terrifying. I've known too many families have their hearts broken. Even when I've seen adoptions happen, the process is excruciating long & hard. So we just took it one step at a time. We did whatever they told us to do next.

Amazingly we only had one crazy thing happen in the process... We got pregnant. Literally 1 month after completing our home study we found out Maverick was on his way. I was so afraid the NDSAN would suggest we withdraw from the process... But instead they encouraged us that having siblings close in age was a benefit.

So we pressed on. We were considered multiple times & not selected. Honestly it didn't take long for "not selected" to start to feel like "rejected." I would wonder what was wrong with us? Why birth families didn't pick us? I had to often be reminded that I was simply called to open my heart... an open heart just kinda hurts.

It was August 1st when we first heard about Theo. We thought that we had lost the chance to adopt him, but 2 weeks after Maverick was born we were asked if we still wanted to be considered as his adoptive family. 1 month and 4 trips out of state later he came home to us. That quick. That miraculous. Not smooth. Not easy. But so very amazing.

So our lives are crazy... And kinda awesome... We get the blessing of two adorable baby boys at the same time... We get to see our older kids blossom as big helpers & their hearts grow huge with love... We have received front row seats to the awe-inspiring generosity of our church & friends & family... It's not easy... We still have no idea what we're doing... But it's totally worth it.

Are we crazy?

Quick answer: Yes.

This is the question of the time. We ask ourselves this regularly. We hear this in the more politely stated "So what made you want to adopt at the same time as you were having a baby?" We hear this from more blunt family & friends. And we understand why. So here's the long answer:

It all started with me being completely convinced that adopting was a specific call that God put on certain people's heart... And just as convinced that He had not put that call on our hearts. I was all for helping orphans by giving money, going to orphanages, supporting other people's adoptions, praying... After all the Bible is clear that followers of Jesus will care about those who are uncared for. And we were actively caring.

An "easy" way that everyone who reads this could actively care is to check out Remember Nhu (www.remembernhu.org)... Shameless plug.

But as for going thru the adoption or foster thing ourselves... i just didn't see that as something we could ever do... Unless there was a child who had Down syndrome who needed a home. That just made sense to me. Since I'm slightly slow it was quite some time until I recognized that the tag ending on my adoption hesitations wasn't typical... And was probably something I should look into.

It's important to me that everyone who hears our story recognizes that we are not just super great people who buckle down and do the over-arching good things in this world. Psalm 37:4 tells us that when we find our delight in The Lord He gives us the desires of our hearts. (Don't be super impressed... I googled the reference ;-) My experience is that God doesn't just give me what I want... Even when I really want it. Instead I'm learning that He gives my heart His desires. Making me want what He wants. So when I say that we're not "great people" but we have an amazing God, that's what I mean.

So don't expect this blog to be full of me being super great... Unless you're into being disappointed. But feel free to expect crazy stories of our God. Because after all if we don't do what's crazy nothing would ever change.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Our Payne-full Adventure

Please don't read this blog with high expectations. 

Just throwing that out there right from the start. I'm newly the mother of 4 & have never excelled at spelling big words (such as vocabulary...for instance). The point of this blog is to share my pretty awesome life in an honest way for anyone who may be interested enough to tune in. I will over use this... I will use wrong grammar. I will brag on my God (who is the only reason I can call my life "pretty awesome". I choose not capitalize the letter I (from here on out) because i feel it's slightly arrogant of the English language... Also i truly believe that my brain is only functioning at 30% capacity. Consider yourself warned.

But we have a story that i believe will be worth writing about... because i have a God who has decided to show off in said life.

i'm far from perfect & i'm honest... so here's hoping that this will be slightly entertaining as we go along. Welcome to our family...

Here's the cast (in order of appearance):

Brice:  My truly amazing stud of a husband. He totally rocks. He's honest (painfully so at times) & makes me laugh harder than anyone ever. His love for the Lord inspires me. He is the perfect partner for me & super dad to my kiddos.

Hannah: My (currently) 6 year old princess. She loves dancing, singing, rules and being dramatic. She runs a tight ship with her brothers and strives to shine for Jesus everyday. 

Mic: My (currently) 4 year old messy monster! He loves... life! He is SO, VERY, EXTREMELY excited about everything! Whether it is what letter a word starts with or the fact that there's gum in the middle of his sucker... it is worth celebrating. He is as hilarious as his dad & his rubber face expressions work perfectly with his excitement.

Maverick: My (currently) 2.5 month old who thinks he needs to grow up fast. He was over 10 pounds when he made his appearance & hasn't done anything "small" since then. He is as full of smiles as any baby i've ever met & is the voice of the two "twins".

Theo: My (currently) 5.5 month old who came home to us 10 days ago!!! He spent his first 5 months in a NICU where he wooed all the nurses around. He is my baby with "cords" as he currently has a G-tube for feeding and is on oxygen. He also has the blessing of Down syndrome. Since he & Maverick will grow up as twins we've decided to just call them as such.

There's the set up. This entry will be one of the longer ones (seeing as i started writing it almost 4 hours ago...) i'll post some current stories as well as background to how we've gotten here... as the chances present themselves :)