And….. YES!!!! Another thumbs up from a satisfied customer who is IN TOUCH WITH THE MUCH!!!!!
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Kristyn has been into The Muchness pretty much since Day One- sending in her reader submissions and commenting on posts… so I am So Excited to Introduce her!!
Everyone, Meet Kristyn!!!
I guess it is time for my introduction: My name is Kristyn, and Tova and I “met” through a baby loss website during our subsequent pregnancies. My first pregnancy was so exciting for me- I told EVERYONE as soon as I found out and everything seemed to be going smoothly until the results of my triple screen came back suggestive of a neural tube defect. During the ultrasound I frantically tried to see my baby’s spinal cord and neglected to notice the lack of amniotic fluid present. After a very long weekend and another specialist, my baby was diagnosed with Potter’s Syndrome- a lack of functional kidneys. Unfortunately, after around 16 weeks gestation the kidneys are responsible for creating the amniotic fluid, without which the lungs do not develop. It is 100% fatal. On December 8, 2006, at 17 weeks 1 day, my beautiful, perfect baby Annabelle was born sleeping. Since that time I have survived and tried to cherish two subsequent pregnancies with healthy baby boys- Ben (3 1/2) and Sam (17months).
My boys are my light and have helped me survive 4 years of very demanding training. My husband is the most supportive man you could ever imagine. During the first year of Ben’s life, he brought him to visit me at work at least once a day and he has been a stay-at-home dad since Ben was born. He put his music career on hold to help me follow my dream to become a physician. I can’t believe I am lucky enough to have such a wonderful family. Still, I find it very hard to take time to do things for myself and I often feel overwhelmed and like I can’t quite do anything well enough. Our income is very limited and any extra tends to go towards fun stuff for the boys. Despite my very sarcastic (and sometimes a little sick) sense of humor I have always been a pretty positive person, and although I cannot understand the reasons for my loss I have tried to allow myself to treasure the time I had with Annabelle and thank her for bringing my husband and I even closer. I am not religious, but I strongly believe she is in a better place and it brings me peace to imagine her playing with all the other babies who left this world too soon.
Tova and her Muchness Challenge have inspired me to try to take care of myself a little better, and maybe take a little time away from the boys every now and again (without feeling guilty for being a bad mommy). I have never been a sequin sort of person, but the sparkles on this website have been bringing a smile to my face since Tova started her journey and I hope that my journey can do the same for some of you. Since I wear boring green scrubs for work almost every day my muchness tends to be little bits of uniqueness that make me smile during the day- be that fun colors on my nails, crazy socks, or strange accessories. I am sure in the journey you will also see some pictures of my two “pieces of muchness”- my sweet boys!
So to start off my journey, here is a picture of the ring I had made in honor of Annabelle just a few days after I lost her. The only two times I have taken it off were the birth of each of my subsequent babies. It comforts me to have something to hold with me at all times. Engraved inside the ring is her birthday.
Ive been trying to get Piperlyne to start the challenge almost since Day One. But, ya know, she’s a busy gal! She’s got her own inspiring program going on, Rediscovering Your Light and she is an amazing support for so many of the TTTS moms I know. She Also- her biggest claim to fame (as far as I’m concerned) is the one who posted “I used to be much muchier, I think I’ve lost my Muchness” on her facebook wall…. and started me on this ca-rayzee journey.
I am so excited to see Piper use the power of the written word and inspirational quotes to capture her Muchness over the next 30 days….
In her own words, here’s Piperlyne:
From Too Much To Muchness
What do you do when you find out you are going to be a mom for the first time, just when you had given up the belief you might still get to be a mom at 42, and are single, self employed and not in love with the baby’s father? – Jump up and down for joy and trust that this gift was given to you for a reason. – MUCH
What do you do when you find out that the one baby you are expecting is actually identical twins? – Cry your eyes out in terror and joy and then call your mom to tell her so she can scream and laugh and cry in joy and shock. – TWO MUCH
What do you do when you find out that your miracle babies are identical boys and could possibly be facing a challenge called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS)? – Go home and Google it only to become terrified at what it could mean to the beautiful boys you carry. Tell friends and family who are already reeling from the death of one baby in the family. Become stiff with fear as the practical survival instinct kicks in and you learn EVERYTHING you can and start changing things in how you live 5 hours after the possible diagnosis. – too much
What do you do when you are told your babies are officially diagnosed with TTTS and it seems like they are progressing rapidly, knowing that without some type of intervention there is barely a 10% chance that either will survive? – Fly to Houston on two days notice for in utero laser surgery, borrowing money from friends and family, not knowing if the insurance will actually over the cost of the surgery. Have the surgery and learn 24 hours later that you still have two tiny little heartbeats inside of you and hear the surgeon call the surgery a success. – TOO TWO MUCH
What do you do 3 weeks after the successful surgery and feeling both babies move and kick and hiccup and grow inside of you, your water breaks much too early and you drive yourself to the hospital, the doctors check the babies, they still look good, and put you on a cocktail of drugs to keep the babies safe, promote their lung development and stave off any infection? – You bring your babies’ teddy bears to the hospital to keep them with you at all times. Visualize healthy babies with a bond of love so strong as to keep everyone safe and growing and spend your 10 days on hospital bed rest hiding from everyone so that you can focus EVERYTHING on the health and wellbeing of your little ones. – too too much
What do you do when you are rushed to the OR for an emergency c-section because one of your babies is in distress with a heart rate dropping to 15 with every contraction and give birth to two tiny, perfect little boys 13 weeks early who are rushed off to the NICU for care? – Give thanks for every single blessing you have been lucky enough to receive. – TWO TWO MUCH
What do you do when after 9 days of life one of your perfect little boys contracts an infection that takes over his body so quickly that he dies less than 36 hours later and then you have to hold a service for him while his brother is fighting in the NICU to grow and thrive? – Go numb, keep breathing, eat sometimes, sleep every so often, cling to the little boy still alive and alone without his brother and cry until there are no more tears only to cry again until you can’t breathe. – so much more than anyone should have to experience
What do you do nine months later with a thriving nine month old beautiful boy who has made it through painful reflux, apnea events at home and a surgery on his skull? – Love, rejoice and celebrate the beautiful life of your surviving son while you honor, remember and sometimes still cry your eyes out over the son you lost. Know that your one heart has split into three equal hearts, one still in your body, one bursting with joy in your survivor’s body and one torn apart in grief with your angel. Embrace the life you have while you find reason and sense in the whole experience. Talk to your angel son, sing songs to your survivor about his brother, light candles, tell their story and live. – FIND MY MUCHNESS
So this is why I am here. Thank you for reading my story. Every time someone does, my beautiful boys, angel and survivor, are thought of and loved. It is my honor to take part in Tova’s project along with building my own www.rediscoveringyourlight.com to help me move from grief and darkness to muchness and light.
Amber is new friend and TTTS Mom that sadly lost both of her boys. She does a pretty good job describing herself and her step-daughter Courtney in her introduction. I have “known” Amber since she her loss and I am thrilled that she has agreed to take the challenge… She is clearly a woman with A Lot of Muchness inside of her… I am so excited to see how this journey puts her back in touch with it…
Let’s meet Amber & Courtney!
Amber writes: Courtney is my step daughter (well will be August 6th) she lives with us full time. Last summer I lost my twin baby boys to TTTS. Courtneys little brothers. Since then we have just started to live the same day over and over and over again. I had forgotten how to laugh, how to have fun. My dreams and hopes were shattered, I began living life as though I was waiting for it to be over. I used to wake up in the morning and think what am I going to do today, but since the loss the question became, what do I have to do today? My muchness was gone. Then the past few days I thought I would give this a try. Wasn’t sure if 30 days was going to work for me or not. Wasnt sure what Muchness was. Seemed like more of a hassle then anything. But then after the first day, I realized KIDS are my muchness, and I still have one. The smile on her face. the hugs and kisses before bed, the laughter, everything. I may have lost my boys but Courtney and I are very much alive. So for her and for me we are going to get our Muchness back. Maybe she never lost hers but I’m going to make sure she never does! Together we can and WILL do this. So from today on we are going to do something together. Something that says MUCHNESS to both of us!
Here’s an awesome pic of Amber and Courtney getting IN TOUCH WITH THE MUCH!!! (And colored sprinkles…. 🙂 )
When it rains, it pours, huh? I tried to organize myself and my Muchness takers to start on a rotating basis so I don’t freak out in 30 days setting up the new takers all at once, but, well, Im not gonna delay any Muchness Challengers when they are ready to put the pedal to the metal. And they are all amazing women with unique voices and unique takes on the Muchness Challenge and what Muchness is to them!
Jen has done a great job of describing herself and her recent journey. Our Rainbow babies were born just a week apart from each other, and we met, in large part, shortly before they were conceived, so we’ve hit a lot of pregnancy and infancy milestones together. Course, since I had my training wheels removed after Molly, I consider myself the resident expert. No. Not really. I just talk a lot 🙂
So, without any further ado, Let’s meet Jen!!
Life has a way of being unpredictable. You can be meandering along. Living a very ordinary existence. You make every attempt to life your life to the fullest. You trust people. Love your family. Meet your beloved. Say your vows. Work at a job. See friends. Make time for family. You live the best life you can and to the best of your ability.
Something knocks you off your rocker. Hurdles you full force into a place that, you have heard about, through other people’s stories (perhaps on the news or through a friend of a friend). But, you never thought could belong to you. You never thought you could sink so low and so deep. You never realized the depths of human emotion and how low it could go until you were forced (kicking and screaming) to enter this place.
For me, my life stopped and started over again when I entered this world of grief on May 6, 2009. It was on this day that I lost my first child, my daughter, Eva, at exactly five months gestation.
Until then, I was an extraordinarily, ordinary person. I had the ability to see the best in any situation. I trusted that things would always end up the way it should. I believed those motivational clichés that everything happens for a reason and to always see the silver lining in any situation.
But, when we lost our baby to a rare birth defect I stopped believing in these things.
When a mother loses a child, a part of her is lost forever. A mother and child are connected through a pulsing umbilical cord (whether still literally connected in utero or symbolically connected in life), the threads of their ties are very real. When a child dies, the cord stops beating. And the mother remains on earth and continues to hold that cord.
Some mothers of lost children are strangled by the cord, and lose control completely, allowing the grief to swallow them whole.
Although losing my little one rocked my core and altered my existence, I knew I had to choose to honor the life that was cut too short and learn from my little girl’s existence.To give something meaning means to give it value. In order to heal, in order to move on, I had to believe that my daughter was here for a reason. I vowed to continue to keep our cord connected through my actions each and every day. I had to live my LIFE to the fullest for my daughter, In order to honor Eva, whose name means “life,” I had to continue to live.
I learned not to take anything for granted, to appreciate all the blessings in my life. I vowed to love her father, my love, my husband, Rocco, who has literally been my rock. I embraced the miracle of my pregnancy and birth of my son, Luca. Through Luca, whose name means light, I’ve learned to focus on the good that comes out of each and every day. Luca is literally our light that came after the storm of the last couple years of heartache. And I truly am enjoying every minute that I get to watch him grow and get to hold and love him.
Through this trying journey, I’ve also been afforded the opportunity to meet a group of women on a support board who, unfortunately, have traveled the same baby loss path as I have. If it weren’t for these women I don’t know how I would have made it through the process. Tova is one of those women and although my heart aches that she had to experience the loss of her precious babies, I am thankful to know her. I am grateful to be given this opportunity to continue to honor my little girl. Although I vow to do so everyday, it’s that extra spark and passion that I hope to reignite and to add even more to my life through the 30 day Muchness challenge. I look forward to the journey….
I have included the picture because it includes items in my office that make me happy….the zen garden helps me to stay calm and collected (as does the cup of tea!). The pot with the hand prints was my Mother’s Day gift from Luca. You can’t imagine how much I cried when I received that gift :). The photo was from Hawaii where Rocco and I went on our honeymoon. I just smile and remember the wonderful easy going days we had in that amazing place.
I met Cory on my babyloss journey pretty early on. Our stories and timelines followed a similar track- as you can read in her intro. Amazing that you can meet and connect with people across the country and find comfort in each others emails and conversations without even knowing anything about their day-to-day lives and personalities. After more than a year of communicating through email, we finally became facebook friends and a whole world of Cory’s quirkiness was revealed to me… and I was psyched about it. 🙂
Here is her intro, in her own words, with a picture to give you a hint of things to come!! I am giddy anticipating her Muchness pics!
I feel like I am telling you the same story you have heard several times before; I am a Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) babyloss mom. My story is sad, and hard, and long. I had really intended to sit down and write it all out as my 30-days introduction but now that I am here I don’t really want to. I don’t want TTTS to define me and I want you to understand a little bit more about me. So, here is the readers digest version of things.
I have a beautiful, funny, smart little boy. I got pregnant almost on accident (who needs that pesky birth control) and my pregnancy was boring. I didn’t think so at the time, of course, but my first pregnancy was without a single complication. I always knew that I wanted my kids close together so when the “duder” was a little over a year my husband and I decided to have another baby. I got pregnant the first month I was off the pill. (Turns out that I can get knocked up in the blink of an eye; it’s keeping that baby that is tricky.)
This is when the story starts getting harder. I miscarried that baby in June. We waited a month at my doctor’s direction and got pregnant in August. My first early ultrasound was at 8 weeks.
Sidebar: I do this thing where I think of the worst-case scenario when I am faced with something hard. It’s a bit morbid but I figure that if I can deal with the worst thing I can think of then everything else is something I can handle.
As I drove to the doctor’s office for that first ultrasound I went through every scenario I could think of to help me deal with the stress; Worst-case – no heartbeat. Best-case – healthy heartbeat. Well geez Cory, it could be twins…hahaha! Yep, it was twins. Identical twin girls!
I was diagnosed with TTTS in November. I lost them January 13, 2010 at 22 weeks 3 days. I labored and delivered them as if I was going to be able to take them home. There is nothing more heartbreaking then waiting for a baby to cry and hearing nothing. I held them for only a few minutes and had them cremated. Their remains are still at the funeral home.
Yep. Even those short sentences and the fastest possible telling of that story made me cry. There is so much more but I am sure it will come out over the next 30 days. How can it not? Nov 2010 is when I started to lose my muchness. And you know what? I was much muchier before! I am not one of those girls who stays home and sits on her couch all the time. But I certainly became that girl. I am not one of those girls who cries herself to sleep and has flashbacks of early labor. But then I was.
I got pregnant with my now 5 month old daughter in April 2011, 4 long, exhausting, emotional months after I lost the girls. She is beautiful and sweet and fun and a big part of finding my muchness again. She was born in January. Now that month is so full of emotion that I should just declare it a disaster and stay home for the whole month!
After she was born I decided (with the help a wonderful gal we all know and love) to get this train back on the tracks. I am taking on new challenges and adventures and learning new things. I am laughing and crying and finding myself again. And it turns out there is much more much than I remembered! I think I am supposed to have a Muchness theme but I think I will just keep you guessing. I will tell you that there are fishnet tights involved! I say I am having a mid-life crisis but I am really having more of a mid-life party!
Shannon is what they call “inspiring.” Since I started this Muchness thing, I’ve heard that word tossed around a lot. (could be that I’ve also watched an entire season of the biggest loser and they use that word a lot, but I digress….) She really is.
Shannon is a TTTS mom who, like me, lost both of her girls to that horror of a syndrome. I knew Shannon when she was still pregnant, offering advice and support to other moms in the support groups. When her girls lost their battle, within days, at a time when I was hiding under my blankets or staring blankly at the TV for hours and hours on end, Shannon pulled herself together and created a TTTS awareness calendar that featured hundreds of TTTS babies, survivors & angels, so that she could raise money for the TTTS Foundation and give back. And that’s just one of the things she’s done.
This women is a powerhouse- seems like she does a million things at once for everyone around her. And I am THRILLED that she is taking The Muchness Challenge. Because it’s time for her to do something for HER. I cannot wait to see her MUCHNESS!!!!!!!!!!! Stay tuned for DAY 1!!!
Here is her intro…. Shannon writes:
My family is my whole world. If I had to choose, I would rather be surrounded by love rather than money. I have been with my fiancé, David, for 12 years and we have 5 kids together. We have 3 here on earth and 2 in heaven. Jacob was my first baby and he is now 5! He is sweet and tells me he loves me every day. When I had him I learned what unconditional love truly means. Our saying around the house is, “I love you forever no matter what” and I live by that. No matter what any of my family members do, everything will be fine and we will always have each other no matter what. My second baby is Andy and he is now 4! He showed me the strong bond between siblings. He is my teddy bear aka Andy bear. I consider my boys irish twins, they do everything together and have a tight bond. My third baby is our princess, Caitlyn. Princess is an understatement. She is the only girl in the family from siblings to cousins and everyone loves to spoil her and buy her pretty things. She is Daddy’s little girl and seems to get her way a little more than others because of her cuteness. Anna and Claire were our 4th and 5th babies who we said goodbye to 5 ½ months ago. They showed me how strong we are and how truly inseparable my family is. Even though they are gone they are always included and loved forever no matter what by us all.
My Grandfather is a fraternal twin and although he passed away before I got to know him, he left his grandkids a message. He said that one of us would have twins. Between me, my sister and my cousin Jenny, one of us one day would have twins. My sister had a set of twins that she miscarried and 6months later had a set of surviving, healthy twins. From that point I figured she was the chosen one to get the twin gene and any chance of that being me was gone. Then we got pregnant with Anna and Claire and we felt extremely lucky. To lose something so special and rare is awful. We felt blessed to be gifted these two beautiful identical girls. Our family would be bursting with even more love! Ecstatic, Blessed, Lucky, Special… those words don’t even describe our feelings, they were more than that.. Now, they are gone.
Anna and Claire were taken from us because of Twin to Twin Tranfsusion Syndrome. I delivered them stillborn at 23 weeks gestation after two laser surgeries. I had rare complications in both of my surgeries, and they were not able to separate their connecting blood vessels. I also got very sick and at one point almost died because of another anesthesia complication where my carbon dioxide levels were climbing and I could not breathe. I fought really hard against TTTS. I had the best doctors and we fought from the beginning full force. When we started I said I am going to have no regrets. In the event I lose either of them I do not want to look back and say, “I wish I would have done…” etc. I would never forgive myself. So I fought hard! The day we lost them, I will never forget. The day I held them, I will never forget. The day we buried them, I will never forget. These past 5 ½ months I’ve spent coping with their loss, I will never forget.
I’m happily taking Tova’s Muchness challenge, and am honored to be asked to do this. Muchness to me is being your best. Do something everyday that you try your best in. Maybe I want to challenge myself to make a new recipe, or learn something I never have tried before. Or maybe…. Just be the best mom I can be to my children on earth and/or to my twins in heaven. Or maybe, be the best girlfriend I can be. My 30 day Muchness photos will be things that make me smile, reasons to keep living, just noticing the small things in life that we all take for granted.