Monday, March 23, 2009

A perspective on motherhood.

I just wanted to share a perspective on the wonderful gift of motherhood.

Back in 1988, the book Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch hit the bestseller list for the first time. That was the year my son was born and the year I bought my copy. Without exaggerating, I believe I must have read that book a thousand times since then. Already having had one child, I was beginning to see how quickly kids grow. That book holds a very special place in my heart.

When I first read that to my older kids, it seemed a little creepy to me that the mom would drive across town and crawl into her grown son’s room so she could rock him while he slept. Now, it seems I’ve become that creepy mom. No, I won’t really stalk my adult-children, but I can fully relate to sentiment. If I could, and I thought I could get away with it, I’d get in my car and go rock each one of my children to sleep. Tonight, even.

Time passes. We blink and our children are celebrating yet another birthday. Sometimes the most precious moments we get to experience as moms get shuffled in with the day-to-day obligations and are forgotten.

I wrote this for my older children, who turned from babies into adults when I wasn’t looking:

I remember the first time I cradled you in my arms, but I can’t remember the last. Guess I always figured there’d be a next. If I had known it would be the last time, I’d have taken time to breathe in the sweet smell of your skin and hair, feel the heavenly warm weight of your little body in my arms. I’d have tried to burn that feeling – that image – into my brain, my heart, my soul.

When was the very last time I carried you to bed, tucked you in and kissed you goodnight? I wish I could remember. If only I could have known it would be the very last time, I’d have curled up next to you to on your bed, watched the rhythmic rise and fall of your chest, and let myself be lulled to sleep by the sweet sounds of your gentle slumber.

I can never forget the very first time I rocked you in my arms and sang to you – Hush Little Baby. It was as though no song before had ever had meaning. I can’t remember the last song I sang to you. I guess I figured there’d always be one more song to share – one more time that your little smiling eyes would tell me that your mommy had the sweetest voice in all the world. If I had known it would be the very last time, I’d have squeezed you just a little tighter, rocked you just a little longer, and sang another song and another and another…

When, my sweet child, was the very last time I swooped you up off of the floor to the heavenly sound of your squeals of delight and twirled you and dipped you and danced with you until I was out of breath but you were pleading, “Please, Mommy. One more time.” Always to some silly tune. I wish I would have known it would be the last. If only I had known…I’d have picked an endless song and we’d be dancing, still.

Things you’ll miss (among the many), believe it or not:

Trimming fingernails and toenails – those tiny little girl and boy hands – perfect little hands.

Gently putting a Band-Aid on a boo-boo – even if the boo-boo is only in their head.

Your little ones’ fuzzy little legs. I love fuzzy little legs. When my kids sit on my lap, I am tickled to see the golden peach fuzz on their legs. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it screams innocence.

And toys. You’ll miss toys – even when they’re scattered all over the floor. Because when the toys go away, so does a lot of the magic of childhood.

You'll also miss pushing your kids on a swing: The day Angus learned to swing by himself was one of the sweetest, saddest days of my life. I can’t believe the way my emotions tugged at me in two totally different directions at the same time. I was thrilled that my boy had mastered one of the greatest joys in childhood. My little boy had grown wings. I still remember that feeling from my own childhood when I thought that I could touch the clouds with my feet if I only could only swing high enough. But even as I was thrilled for Angus, an equal part of me was sad. I knew it was the end of “Push me, Mommy.”

To be completely honest, the end of the “push me, Mommy” stage for my triplets held a different meaning. I’m sure I was quite a sight on the public playgrounds, running the gauntlet between three different swings – each swing with the potential to send me flying into a face-full of rubber mulch. I was a bit more relieved when they learned to swing on their own. But there is still a twinge of sadness there, too. Sadness because my babies don’t need me for that anymore.

You’ll also miss hearing “Mommy, look at me!” and “Mommy, do you know what?” and “Mommy, I want that!” Basically just the constant chitter-chatter of your little ones. This one’s a biggy for me. My kids are huge talkers. When my older kids were younger, I used to kid with them that God gave them each a certain amount of words and if they used them up, they’d never be able to speak again. But, even the sweetest, chattiest child turns into a teenager who will seem to have lost all ability to communicate, resorting to one-word sentences, body language, grunts and clicks. Trust me when I say, you’ll miss your chatter-box.

I guess what I’m getting at is that it all goes by so quickly. Don’t forget what a gift motherhood really is. The real gift of motherhood is in the tiny things – in the actual mothering.

So, when your little one begs, “Pick me up, Mommy,” pick her up and whisper in her ear that she is the most precious little girl in the whole world. Make it your little secret. A confidence. Someday, when she’s grown, she’ll give you a call when she’s down and say, “Pick me up, Mom” and you’ll share a funny story to make her smile, and you’ll tell her that she is the most precious girl in the whole world.

When she says, “Watch me, Mommy,” watch her. Someday, she’ll march down the aisle in her cap and gown and her eyes will search the crowd to find you. And when your baby’s eyes meet yours and she smiles, you’ll hear her heart say, “Watch me, Mommy.” And you’ll watch. And you’ll cry tears of joy for what she’s become and tears of sadness because your baby is not your baby anymore.

So when you have those stressed-out days when you want to hang up your mommy-apron for the day, don't lose sight of how fleeting childhood is. It will help you remember what a wonderful gift motherhood really is.

"As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." - Robert Munsch

Lesa Rhoton

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I've Lost It... The Final Draft.

Down by 60 pounds!
I decided to revise and combine my previous blog entries.
If you've read the previous weightloss entries, you've seen this already.

It took me seven months and a bundle of money to get my triplets into this world and in the process, they revised my body, both inside and out. It would only seem natural that it would take seven months and a bundle of money to get a portion of that back. So, that's what I set out to do seven months ago.

Back in late 2007, I decided on a whim to go to a weight loss clinic. I committed to the B12 shots, the appetite suppressants (phendametrazine), and the practically-no carb diet and began a regular work out regimen. After six long months of sacrifice and determination, the weight came off. What was left behind was an excess of skin that left me feeling a lot like a sharpei puppy around the middle.

First of all, go ahead and say it. I did already. "Ewww, gross!" I finally got the guts to post this photo of the skin I had to lose after my weightloss, three years after the birth of my triplets. This is extreme. Circus-act extreme.
After having consulted three doctors, it was determined that a lower body lift would be the only way to evenly bring my body back to its pre-triplet state. What's involved with that? An incision all the way around the midsection, removal of the skin and over 100 stitches to bring it all back together. That's just what I did.

When Dr. Eberbach first examined me, he said I had the extra skin of someone who had lost more than 100 pounds. That was not me. At my largest, I've been about a 14 (pushing 16) and never weighed more than 200. He noted that I appear to have the genetic makeup found in those with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Upon further investigation, I would bet my life that's what it is and it makes a lot of sense in many ways. But I digress.

I'm grateful for the surgery and it exceeded my every expectation. My belly's flat, my tush is flat and I fit in my clothes. I still have some residual stretch marks, but I can quite happily live with those. No problem.

The doctor took off the equivalent of three and a half sheets of paper in skin. Incredible! Here's what that would look like.

I originally posted that embarrassing photo anonymously on The Shape of A Mother, an awesomely empowering website for mothers of all shapes and sizes. Another triplet mom had posted her pregnancy in a photo essay and I was so taken by the beauty and sacrifice (she seems like a really awesome mom), that I thought I'd like to share. But I was afraid. And then I saw the wonderful comments some moms left and began to reconsider...

So, I debated and debated with myself about posting this very uncomfortable photo of my former abdomen in a very open fashion on a blog. Let's face it. You'd never see a Sports Illustrated Swim Suit edition with a bod like that. It's the absolute antithesis of all that is sexually alluring in a female body. And I was repulsed by it myself.

That extra-skin photo was taken after I had achieved my goal of fitting loosely into a Size 4. (Incidentally, I'm now down to a Size 0-2 depending on the pants.) I didn't want to set a weight goal necessarily, but a size I could live with. How disheartening in the end to find that I was SO false advertising. Everyone said, "Oh, my God, Lesa. You look great." But carrying this around under my clothes, my brain and heart told me otherwise.

So, I loaded the dreaded photo up on my trusty iPod and whenever I had the opportunity to share my weightloss story, I began sharing the photo...sort of testing the waters. Nonchalantly, I'd check out the expression on the faces of those who'd seen it. Humorously I noted, the ones who were the most sincere registered the most shocking expression. Those who were trying to spare my feelings, I could see, were really trying to give me no indication of their thoughts about what they had seen.

Now I am numb. I have seen every expression. Heard every comment. And for better or for worse, that was what was left after I gave birth to three of the most amazing people in the world. That is what carrying triplets did to me. And they were worth every inch of extra flesh. But that skin was one souvenir of that fantastic trip-of-a-triplet pregnancy that I didn't need to keep to cherish the memories.

I want to send a big THANK YOU out to everyone who left those wonderful comments on my original blog post. You've empowered me and validated my reason for posting this. And I hope my story is a source of encouragement for many.

Brave or dumb. I'll let the reader decide. Sharing that photo is like telling a deep dark secret. Once it's out there, it's no longer a secret. So there it is, or was, rather. I'd like to say that, as is common on the website, that I was content with my "badge of honor" skin. Not the case. I can now have my cake and eat it, too. Both my babies and my body. And I'm thankful for both.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Vintage Triplet-themed Postcards

Vintage Postcards with a Triplet Theme

I find it so interesting that the rather negative stereotype associated with higher order multiples is not a new concept. If we could go back to prehistoric times, I'm sure we'd find a similar sentiment. Perhaps even a cave-drawing such as this:

These are postcards I've collected lately, most being from the turn of the 20th Century. Prior to the advent of reproductive medicine, I'm sure triplets were quite a novelty. I'm not, however, sure why it seems to have been a fairly popular theme. One thing is certain. The sentiment is the same as it appears to be today - the whole good-golly-better-you-than-me feeling.

One thing of interest is the lack of a triplet-related message from the senders. Of the postcards that were postmarked, not one made reference to the card's theme in the message to the recipient (apart from poking fun at them on the front). Why the senders chose these cards is a mystery.

I'm greatly amused by these postcards and am intrigued by the deep-conditioning (albeit brainwashing) sense of dread that triplets bring to our society. I, as a mother of triplets, will continue to fiercely defend my blessings in triplicate, despite the longstanding stereotype.

Anyway, here they are...

No Caption
Postmarked 1905. This is typical. Could have been modeled after our household at times.


"Looking down upon his Luck"
From the early 1900's. I love the double entendre of this one. Here's one where one of the babies has the Podee-type straw bottle. Interesting.

deer mister stork we hav xammined your line ov sampels . will kiep the girrl pleas send for the rest yurstrooly Tommy
Early 1900's. Big brother overwhelmed by his new siblings.This is the only one that is not a postcard, but I thought it apropos for this page.


"You lucky guy, three income tax exemptions!"
This one was from the 1930's. Notice the dozens of cigarette butts scattered about his feet. And yes, I've heard that "tax deduction" comment a few times.


Postmarked 1910. I find it interesting that mom has hearts around her head and that dad's holding up a joker card.


"What you want. What you get. What you might get."
Postdated 1917. Notice that in the third shot, the dad's got two fair-skinned babies and one darker-skinned baby.


"Resignes. Rejouis. Desesperes"
Postmarked 1914. In French. Rejoice, resign, despair. This theme seemed to be popular. That poor poor family with triplets and an older sibling (I say with sarcasm).


Postmarked 1907. On the front, handwritten are the words "Not mine. No!" and then the name "Jim." Another one with the Podee-type bottle. And we thought that was a modern convenience.


"Gosh, Mum. Will you keep dad or have him doctored?"
Not postmarked. I love this one. Doctored is another word for neutered. I've been asked a similar question by strangers who've wanted to know if "we're done" having kids.

"Yes - Muvver can go to the pictures now!"
What did they do to entertain babies before Baby Einstein? Early headphones like these suggest this one to be 1920s. Lucky mom to keep her babies occupied so she can see a movie.


"Rejoice. Resign. Despair."
Postmarked 1908. Another one in French. Reference is made to names and includes the comments, "The Desire," "Upcoming," "Desire Accomplished." This seems to be, from what I can gather, the only postcard where, though the postcard's theme is negative in nature, the sender is offering an upbeat alternative.


Postmarked 1909. The term "dreadnoughts" came from HMS Dreadnoughts (1906), the first battleship to use all "big-gun" artillery. All other ships paled in comparison. Anything that was considered above and beyond the norm was referred to as a dreadnought. This term went into obscurity soon after.
The handwritten scrawl across the bottom says "Aren't they cute?"


"Which one would you like to keep?" And then handwritten below, "There doesn't any one of them look good to me. How about you?"
Postmarked 1912. Dad's going to drown two. I found the handwritten comment interesting.


Three little darlings fed from the cow. Heedless of father mopping his brow."
Not postmarked, but from 1908. Dad needed an icepack to deal with his children. I love the bottle. Wish I'd had one of those! Similar to the Podee baby bottles parents of multiples love.


"Every little bit added to what you've got makes just a little bit more. Its triplets, Mr. Moore."
Postmarked 1907. The title makes reference to an Arthur Collins song. Arthur Collins was known for songs that would now be considered extremely racially insensitive and offensive. I contemplated not including this one, but it is a sign of those particular times, so I'm including it anyway.


"It is rather more than I expected."
Not postmarked. Judging by the Victorian nursemaid, I'd say this was from the turn of the century. Notice the look of horror on the father's face.


"Mr. Jolly is overjoyed. 3 X 1 = 3"
Postmarked 1907. A variation on the leather one shown below. The really interesting thing about this one is the handwritten comment on the front..."(which one)" and "3 - 2 = 1" above the 3 X 1 = 3. Such negativity surrounding triplets, huh?


"If we were to lose one, would it spoil the set?"
This one has no date and was not postmarked, but the style is indicative of the 1920s postcards.


"Yes, when 'is wife 'ad triplets the Mayor presented 'im with a silver cup. Do 'e keep the cup or do 'e 'ave to win it three times running?"

Postmarked 1909. I pondered over this one a while...hmmm.


"Mr. Jolly is overjoyed. 3 X 1 = 3"
Postmarked 1906. This is an interesting leather postcard. What's with the 3 X 1 = 3? Why not 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, or 2 + 1 = 3?


"Which one do you want to keep?"
Postmarked 1907. Wow. A variation of another one above. This guy is going to drown two of his triplets!


"Three little darlings howling night and day. Oh, when will their mother come. Quickly I pray!"
Not postmarked, but has the same style as one postmarked 1908. This card had a spring/musical type mechanism in the back. It probably had a "baby cry" sound to it, but it was broken. The letters on the front are gilded metal. Pretty elaborate for a postcard. Dad looks like he's going to tip them over.


"Four Happy Babies"
Not postmarked. Turn of the century style. From Germany. This is one of the positive ones. Funny how humanity really doesn't change as much as we imagine. Wives still refer to their husbands as "one of the children."

May 2008 Photos