Happy First Birthday!

November 17, 2015

Dear Baby Girl and Baby Boy,
As I sit here, 4 days before you turn one, I can’t believe how far we’ve come. The time managed to standstill and fly by all at the same time. This past year, year and 9 months if you could your time baking, have been the most challenging times we have ever experienced. You’ve taught us more about ourselves than what any of our life experiences have to date. We self-inflicted some of the madness by big life changes, all in the name of giving you a better life but have always made it out on top with lessons learned and more love to give.

Baby girl, we knew you were trouble when you claimed your top spot in my belly and refused to move. You were FIERCE with the kicks, the turns, the attitude. At the ripe age of 20 weeks, we knew you would be a force that couldn’t be reckoned with. Bouncing off of your brother’s head during sonograms, hogging up all the camera time, and kicking me in the ribs (we are pretty confident that is why your toes are squished).
On my birthday we were alerted that you weren’t growing as planned.

After some tests they determined that you had issues with pumping blood through your umbilical cord. We watched you 3 times a week for a full month! You never took it easy on the techs who were trying to monitor you. Eventually, your brother would turn head down, but not you. You weren’t going to go out that easy. After some time, the doctor determined he wanted to deliver via c-section because he didn’t want to put any more pressure on you. We finally had a date for when we would see our beautiful babies, On 21st, 2014 at 12 pm.

Baby boy, we should have known from day one that you would actually be trouble. You were the sleeper pick, the guy that never made a huge fuss in my belly, you always cooperated when being monitored, and you grew just perfectly- we thought you would be the easy one. Bright and early on the 21st (4:30 am) my water broke.

We couldn’t have had just ONE more morning where we slept in. We later found out it was you who was the earlier bird and decided to move the party up! A trend that would continue for months and months to come.
I can’t describe the relief I felt when we finally brought your beautiful little selves into this world. As I watched and listened as you took your first breaths, I felt an enormous amount of relief and I cried my eyes out. After all the worrying, will I make it to full term? Will you need any NICU time? Will everything be ok? Reid, did you LOOK like a Reid- after all the fighting I did to name you Reid, you just had to look like a Reid, right? Was Harper too small- would you look like a little alien?

Your first screams were proof that you were here and I had done my part of keeping you safe. You scored a 9 out of 10 on your APGAR scores and the closest to the NICU you got was to borrow their preemie clothes! I didn’t make it to full term, but you were healthy and you were perfect, and that is all we could have asked for. Reid! You looking like a Reid was the first thing Daddy confirmed for me. You weighed in at 4 pounds 13 ounces. Harper, well, you looked like an alien, but you were cute, and you were a big 4 pounds 7 ounces, take that IUGR!

The hospital days flew by and we couldn’t wait to get you home. I have never been one to have anxiety, but the car ride home (5 pm on a Monday during Baltimore rush hour!) was nerve racking to say the least. I was ready to pounce on any fool who came within 5 ft of our car. We made it home safe and Nana was there waiting for us. We left as a party of 2 and came home a family of 4!

The first few nights were all a blur. Mommy, Daddy, Nana, Kali, and Zibby all manned the posts. Six hands of deck were not even enough; we couldn’t image what it would have been like with just us! We had the most amazing assembly line during the night shifts. EVERY 3 hours! That’s what it took to keep you little guys growing! I was determined to breastfed you until you were 3 months (I made it to 4 months to be exact!) and those first few nights were some of the hardest. I would nurse and then pump, Daddy would change diapers, and Nana would finish you off with bottles. We walked around like zombies, so tired and delirious. After the routines were completed we would net only about an hour and a half of sleep in between feeds. We couldn’t even pull ourselves off of the couch for real life activities until after 12pm!

Thankfully, after a week of no sleep for anyone I came up with a system! Only one of us would stay awake with you at night while the other one slept for a full 8 hours! Oh how hard those shifts were! It’s not easy manning a ship with two hungry infants. You had no mercy! Well, Reid, you had no mercy, Harper played it easy- the first sing we thought we had judged her too early.

Reid, after realizing that you were the instant gratification, no I can’t wait one more min for food, and I will not self soothe type, we finally realized we had to feed you first. Harper, I’m sorry to report that even if you were the first to wake up hungry, we would still feed Reid first. See Harper, you were just like your Pops at a young age, you enjoyed your bottle, took your time, swirled the milk on your pallet, then spit it into the bucket (aka your clothes)- aka you took forever to feed and couldn’t swallow the liquid gold to save your life! Reid on the other hand, was a master chugger of bottles and would be done in an instant.

I don’t remember exactly when it happened, but when we learned to feed you both at the same time, it was life changing! You could finally control your suck-swallow and were big enough to not need to be regulated. Our twin parent game leveled up on that day! At first I bought these fancy little gadgets to hold up your bottle, I later realized your blanket and the rock and play would do the job even better. There went 30 dollars in the name of 15 mins of extra sleep.

Things got really crazy when Daddy got serious on his career and went to work in VA! We would leave super early in the morning and get home later in the evenings. We were all so tired then! When he went back to work the world’s greatest grandparents stepped in to help me out. We had a solid rotating shift of Pops, Bubbe, and Nana to relieve me for a long night on duty. I would nap while they watched you, made lunch/dinner, cleaned up the house. I don’t think we would have made it hadn’t it been for your amazing grandparents. They were there every day until I went back to work.

Right about that time, Reid’s witching hour phase started up. Up until this point, you were both pretty manageable. Reid, all along you were fussier, you wanted things when you wanted it and not a min later. Your witching hour was from 7-8 pm every night. It didn’t matter what we did, you were unhappy, screaming for an hour straight. Bouncing, rocking, shushing, singing, NOTHING would work. All we wanted to do was enjoy Jeopardy in peace, but apparently you told Trebeck to suck it. We rode out the storm and finally instituted an after dinner nap and that seemed to do the trick. Those nights were some of the hardest and the only time that I ever had to put you down to just let you cry. But again, we were victorious and we out smarted you- something you should always remember.

After months of wiping butts, feeding bottles, no sleeping or showering, you finally started to give us something back! You started interacting with us! You would look at us and smile, you would coo and ahh. All of the hard days and nights would melt away as we watched you grow.

Like a boss, I interviewed and got a new job when I was on maternity leave. After returning to work in February, I realized just how hard things would get. Before going back to work, it was ok that you were still waking up and I was still pumping at ungodly hours, because I didn’t have to think and I could nap too! But then I had to think and I had to think hard! It took me a solid 3 or 4 weeks to get my brain back to critical thinking and not just survival mode. I enjoyed working though as it allowed me to keep contributing and challenging myself.

You had your first nanny, Maddie! You loved her with all you had. She would cuddle you and snuggle you and eventually play with you as you got bigger. You would smile every morning and give her a smile to last through the night every evening as she left. I felt so comfortable knowing you were in good hands!

In April, Daddy’s job forced him into a horrendous work schedule. Every week he would have to switch his schedule. 5am to 1pm, 1pm to 9pm, and 9pm to 5am with one week off after the madness. It wasn’t ideal, but we made it through. After all, he had a job, and was gaining good experiences, something that not everyone was lucky enough to have. I realized that I had a ton of respect for single parents. Caring for you guys alone in the evenings 2 weeks out of the month was hard stuff, but we did it! We kept the boat afloat while Daddy saved the world.

Soon after, you guys sprouted in your development! Harper, you were more of the gross motor girl. You would start and accomplish all the big milestones first. You were the first to roll over, first to crawl, and first to walk. Reid, you were a fine motor fella. You mastered “talking”, picking things up, mimicking actions of others, and making noises with your mouth and tongue. Once you were finished being lazy (you get that form Daddy), you would get on the moving band wagon and master the skill is no time at All and show Harper up.

The summer came and went and we enjoyed some family vacations. North Carolina seems to always be our place of choice! Vacationed to Ocean Isle Beach, with the Morris family and Nana as well as the annual Roach family vacation in Duck! Both were fun, expect for you grumps hating the beach. Let me rephrase that, Harper, you hated the beach. It was around this time that the “real” Harper started to show. All along you were leading us to believe you would be laid back. We thought, “Maybe we judged her too soon during pregnancy”. Nope, we were right.

Soon the summer turned into fall and you both started to really come into yourselves. You were on the move! Nothing but the baby gate could stop you from concurring the world. Watching you guys take your first steps on your push toy was almost too much for me to handle. It was in that moment, when Harper came strutting out of the living room without adult supervision, pushing her toy like she owned the place, that I realized just how fast time had went. Just like that, you were getting bigger. In all the nights I wished to go faster so my shift would ned, all the nights I wished you were older and bigger so you would sleep through the night, I wanted to take it all back. It was too fast for you to be growing up. When you both took your first unsupported steps, I had to hold back the tears. How can our 36 weekers be walking at 10/11 months? Time was just moving too fast.

I’ve never believed anyone when they said don’t blink because it will be over before you know it. Just like that, here we are at 11 months. We just moved into what we hope to be our forever home, closer to Daddy’s work so he can see you more often. We hope to create lasting memories here that you will one day look back on. We can’t wait to watch you run around the yard with Kali, make your first friend in the neighborhood, get on the bus for the first time to start kindergarten, play in your first rec soccer/field hockey/lacrosse game, go to prom, graduate high school, and see you off to college from this very house, this house where we will build the Family Legacy.

Harper, you are fierce beyond words. Your determination and sassiness will stay with you forever. You will be a leader, you will know what you want, you will not be afraid to go and make it happen. For that, I am terrified for how difficult it will be to raise you but elated at how strong of a person you will eventually become.

Reid, you are so sweet, loving, and inquisitive. You will show the world what it means to care for others. You will brighten days when people don’t want to smile; you might even find world peace. You will ponder the universe and ask a million whys, but you will be a loving, caring soul that will bring answers to the world’s toughest questions.

The wonder and unconditional love that I see in both of your eyes every day is something that I want to preserve forever. In the world that you will grow up in, you have to be the change you wish to see in the world. You have to ensure that nothing or no one can ever let you lose sight of how you started your life- unbiased, nonjudgmental, trusting, loving, and happy. You have to be kind to others, you have to stand up for yourself, you have to show people love, you have to give to others when they need it most, you have to work hard for everything you achieve, and you have to have fun while doing it. We will work as hard as we can to help guide you. We promise that we will never let you go without, we will never put you in harm’s way, and we will always lead by example.

I love you both beyond any words that I can write to you in a letter. I am amazed at how often I have to hold back tears of joy from watching you grow. Some nights, when I put you to bed, I can’t hold them back. I hold you close and tear up at how lucky I am to be your mom, how lucky we are to have two perfectly different babies to call our world.

I love you for ever and ever and always,

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