The Aftermath

ross_maebynThe faith journey has started. With the events of Saturday still fresh in our minds the battle of Who is actually in control has already started. We are not the first to go through a multiples pregnancy and we won’t be the last but just like a lot of “new” things go, the unknown can be scary.
We’ve begun to read more about what goes into actually carrying 2 instead of 1 and the information, reality, and struggles have become more real with every passing minute.

 

When we first found out we were pregnant again, we thought the biggest trying of our faith would come from the increased responsibility, lack of time, and drained resources. Although these will still be ever-present, the immediate call to faith has been in MaK’s new found state of carrying not just one but two babies.

 

As any mother knows, going through your first pregnancy or any pregnancy for that matter… is all consuming. When MaK was first pregnant, it was such a new and wonderful experience. It seemed like we were learning something new everyday about what goes on inside the woman’s body that allows it to make a new life. MaK was always reading new things, gathering information, and trying to take care of her body in the best way possible. It was exciting but at the same time scary. There was another life inside of her and she was responsible for literally carrying for that child 24/7. Seriously, to all the mom’s out there – I applaud you. It is no easy task. This is not something I can even begin to understand but the constant concern for your child while its inside of you I’m sure can be so overwhelming at times. After Maebyn was born, and we decided to try and have another kid, pregnancy wasn’t nearly as daunting to MaK as the first go-around. She had been there and done that and although she would never take the responsibility lightly it was something that was more comfortable the second time around.

 

All that to say, carrying twins is completely different than carrying just one baby. It’s considered a high risk pregnancy so there will be more time spent in the doctors office, more attention to her health, and a greater responsibility placed on her. It’s like being pregnant again for the first time. All of the fear, uncertainty, and newness of pregnancy is back and the battle of trusting the Lord through this time has started.
I feel like with any and every pregnancy there is an element of faith involved. A successful birth, baby, and mom are not promised. Even through a healthy pregnancy, there are waiting periods – times of unknown – and many opportunities to simply rely on God. For some reason, probably because of a healthy last pregnancy, it never crossed my mind that these next 9 (or less) months would be one of the biggest leaps of faith throughout this journey. I thought this was the easy part. My eyes were solely on what was to come after the babies were born, however, God has elevated our desire for increased faith and is forcing us to trust Him through this unknown circumstance.

 

I desperately want to trust The Lord more and have a deep faith in Him but to be perfectly honest, over the past couple of days, I just want to have a little bit of the control back. I want to somehow shoulder the weight that rests on MaK’s shoulders, I’m scared for the health and safety of the babies, and I’m overwhelmed by all the changes that need to occur before these babies arrive. The only thing that brings me peace is the fact that I have very little control (or, none at all) over many of these things… which leads me to believe that the Lord is trying to deepen our families faith in Him. As we continue on through this journey I am ever aware of the fear that is trying to grip us both. Our hope lies not in the little control that we have but in our faith that we have a good Dad who is telling a very good story and we are overjoyed to be a part of it.

 

Ross
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Two for the price of one

girlsControl? Ha. I guess when you talk about ultimate surrender to God, you should expect a curveball, right? Today was just that (and then some more).

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
— Isaiah 55:8-9

This morning we went to have our first ultrasound for Baby Dykstra #2. We were so excited to find out if we were going to have a girl or a boy. My mind set going into this ultrasound was much different than the last one with Maebyn. When we found out we were having a girl last year I think I almost cried, and not from excitement. It’s embarrassing… but it’s the truth. I wanted a boy so bad and I was somewhat heartbroken that Maebyn was a girl when the technician let the cat out of the bag. I’m not proud of my response but like I said, that’s where I was and it took me a while to get over it. I don’t think I truly got over it until she was born. The day I met Maebyn I realized it didn’t matter if she was a boy or a girl, but that she was mine. I was in love and that love has only increased each and every day. Me and MaK say all the time that we can’t even imagine having a boy first – we’re thankful God knew what He was doing in our family and it was better than what we wanted to “plan” ourselves.

So this morning we went to the same ultra sound place, sat in the same room and looked at the same screen. I was determined to be excited no matter if it was a boy or a girl. Deep down inside though, I knew I still wanted a boy. But, in all honesty, I was OK with a girl because then Maebyn would have an almost twin sister. I put Maebyn on my lap as we eagerly awaited the big screen to light up and show us our new family member. The technician rubbed the warm jelly over Mak’s over inflated belly (I could tell Maeby was excited because she was bouncing up and down on my legs) – the tension was mounting! I was trying my best not to drop her because I was shaking so bad with all the nerves that were racing through my body.

As the ultrasound started, the technician paused, looked at us and said “Is this your first ultra sound?” We said yes and then she asked, “And how far along are you?”. MaK looked a bit nervous but calmly replied “17 weeks”. The technician moved the device to get a better look, then stuttered through the next phrase, “Well… there are two babies in here, guys…” Say what!? Can you count again, please? Trust the Lord, give Him control of how many children we will have, trust that He will provide. These are all things I posted in my blog when we announced we were pregnant and today these statements have started to be truly tested. The technician continued, “And, guess what… these two little ones are sharing a placenta and appear to be identical… yep, identical twin girls!

I don’t know how to accurately describe my emotions. I’m mostly excited, somewhat nervous, and just in awe of what is going on. Needless to say, I was so in shock from the news that the sex of the babies really seemed unimportant (still can’t believe I just typed “babies“). It hit me a couple minutes later that I would be the father of 3 baby girls. Not to mention, because MaK will probably deliver earlier with the twins – three baby girls under one years old. I’m proud of my reaction this time. I was disappointed we aren’t having a boy, but this time I am elated at the opportunity just to be blessed with another child, and then another one again.

We’ve always wanted twins but I’m not sure we would have picked to have three under one. If the goal for our family was to live comfortably and have kids but still have time for ourselves this would be a difficult situation to undertake. This season will be difficult, exhausting, scary, and filled with unknowns. However, if increasing our families faith is the ultimate goal, this situation will be one that will force our faith to grow as we watch where the Lord leads. There are many unknowns right now. We’ll need a new car to fit three car seats, we’ll need more strollers and whatever else you need for babies times three and most importantly… we’ll need renewed faith each day that God has us in this season for a purpose. God is on the move and we can feel it in a deep, deep way today. Our hope is that as the unknowns continue to grow so will our faith. We have no idea what we are about to enter into but there is an intense excitement that is welling up in MaKenzie and I both as we get the opportunity to trust in the Lord on a deeper level.

Praise the Lord for 2 for the price of 1.

The Dykstra Family

The madness begins at the Dykstra’s

Thanks Aunt Amy for my State shirt

Thanks Aunt Amy for my State shirt, dad makes me wear it no matter how old or big I get.

When I thought about being a stay at home dad, one of the most alluring advantages that first popped into my mind was MARCH MADNESS. Having the time to sit and watch all the basketball in March… I mean, come on, that’s just too good to be true. As I’m typing I’m already thinking about tomorrow and it’s slightly embarrassing how giddy I am. I can’t stop smiling. Thursday and Friday are already mapped out in my head, I’m in for a really good end of the week. I almost feel bad because I am going to have so much fun and MaKenzie will be at work. Undoubtedly, my sheer joy for Thursday and Friday will be coupled with a twinge of guilt as I wish MaK could share in the excitement.  Although Kentucky is out already, so she might not be the best companion to have around the house during game time.

Maebyn has already informed me that she wants to nap from 3-5 on both Thursday and Friday (she’s so thoughtful, right?). She expressed to me that she wants to watch some of the games with me but she can’t watch basketball all day for 4 days straight. I wasn’t thrilled to hear that but being a supportive dad, I told her that I understood and we both felt it would be good for her to get her nap in the late afternoon. That means dad gets two hours of uninterrupted basketball bliss. Unless of course the dog sees someone or something walking outside. Then plan A turns into plan B. Beazy is always the wild card in this family but we all just kind of accept that. The most important thing is that we watch Michigan State start their road to the final 4 Thursday at 12:15. We will both be clad in green and white and ready to kick off the tournament with a much needed W.
Thinking about my day tomorrow and the plans for Friday, I’m reminded that this stay at home dad gig isn’t so bad. There are many more important reasons that I value this responsibility but for this week I’m thankful for the fun part of it. I love basketball and I hope to pass that love onto my kids. Whether I go back to work one day or not, this year I’m starting a Dykstra family tradition. Every year, as a family, we will watch the games. Traditions are important and it allows us to look forward to spending time with one another and that’s what it’s really about anyways.


Here’s to Sparty winning it all!! If not my bracket is probably busted…

Ross

The Dad-Friendly Drinking Game

Dad and MaebynIf you’re a stay-at-home parent, do you ever have weeks/months that feel like you’ve been doing the same thing non-stop? With or without a set “routine”, you still feel like you end up doing the exact same thing, every… single… day. Today was no different for me. It was dark, rainy and cold and I could tell from the moment I woke up, I needed something to help the day be more exciting. Being a stay at home dad is fun but sometimes you have to find ways of entertaining yourself, just as much as you do the little one. So before I went to work out at 9 am, I came up with a little game I would play throughout the day. It was called “see how much water I could drink” – aka The Dad-Friendly Drinking Game (my, how times have changed). I usually try to drink a lot of water throughout the day but today I was even more determined to really go after it.

 

I got to the gym a little after nine and immediately had to pee. I had already consumed 24 oz of water prior to my work out and my system was already processing at a high level. Let the games begin! Throughout my work-out I probably consumed 32 oz more and was really starting to feel hydrated. Upon my arrival home, I mixed a bottle for the little one and mixed a little protein shake for myself. I always tell Maebyn that if she’s drinking a supplement shake then I might as well be joining her. It’s kind of odd how our two lives are really becoming identical – I mix a powdery substance into some purified water for her, shake it up… and then do the same thing for myself. After my protein shake, I stared back at the water to measure the ounces. It wasn’t even 11 a.m. and I was over 100 oz. I was definitely winning my self-made game and it was giving me a sense of accomplishment. #dadproblems

 

However, with all of this water drinking I was literally having to use the restroom every 15 minutes. We went to Kroger to get a couple groceries and I found myself in the bathroom twice within that time frame. The game was spicing up the day but it was also causing me to spent a decent amount of time in the restroom. It seemed like the game was getting the best of me but I wasn’t going to have that. I decided to amp up the water drinking. All in all I think I’m up to a little over 200 oz today. I’d have to say I think I won. In fact, that’s an affirmative, I definitely won. I’ve never drank this much water in a day and I’ve also never peed this much in a day either. If that’s not a solid victory, I’m not sure what is.

 

Monday Fun-day, folks.

 

Ross

Our family is growing… literally

Big SisterSo… here I am, a stay at home dad. My responsibilities are great but Maebyn has been an easy baby. It’s made my transition into full-time parenting pretty seamless but that is all about to change. Coming September 6 (MaK & my bother Ryan’s birthday) – or before, if it’s like last time – we are adding another member to the family. Yes, MaKenzie is pregnant. Yes, we know they will only be about 12 months apart. Yes, we were trying to have another baby (what do you think we do all day when MaK works from home?). There has been a lot of different responses to our announcement and even more opinions about this “Irish Twin”… as for us, we couldn’t be more excited that God has blessed our family with another member.

Why have kids so close together? Well, we battled with this question after Maebyn was born. Go back on birth control, don’t go back on birth control, that was the question. We began to wrestle with what it looked like to trust God with the amount of children He wanted us to have. We both have a great desire to have a big family but we still had/ have doubts, issues and just a plain lack of faith in what really trusting God in this area looks like. I mean come on, most of us carefully plan, prepare, and make sure the situation is right before we consider having children, right? We were no different. We waited to try and have Maebyn until the time felt “right” – money, job situations, and enough time to have fun just the two of us. To us, the careful planning felt like a lack of trust, so after Maebyn was born we decided that we would surrender control and stay off of birth control (Please read that as a conviction for our family – not a blanket statement we believe everyone should live by. MaK and I both believe families are called in many different directions, if there’s anyone who embraces the “not normal” to what our culture suggests, it’s us). A little more than 3 months later, MaK was pregnant again. Uh oh, I want the control back. Like, now…. It seemed like a good idea at the time but two babies only a year apart? Yeah, I didn’t know if I was ready for that.

Now you know where all these stories about MaK being sick stem from. The first nearly four months have been rough on her, to say the least. She’s been sick, working, and parenting all the while carrying another baby. Trusting the Lord is a nice thing to talk about but it’s difficult to walk through when you seem to be in over your head. Most of this has fallen on the shoulders of MaKenzie and I am proud of the faith that she has lived out each day through this time of life. It would be easy to abandon our vision for a big family and say this is too much right now. She didn’t. And I’m so proud of her.

So, why have a big family and why subject ourselves to the stress of having children so close together? These are questions we have been wrestling with for the last couple months. Our resolution has been this… our culture tends to view children as a burden. They drain our time, energy, and finances. In fact, I remember talking with some co-workers at Lowes when MaK was pregnant with Maebyn when one suggested (in all seriousness) to go ahead and name our first born “Financial Burden”, since at the end of the day “that’s exactly what kids are”. We are trying to believe that a child is the greatest asset that our family could be blessed with. We are not in control of the womb (yes, we are aware of what causes a baby to be made) but pregnancy is not guaranteed. Each and every conception, whether it turns into a “take home” baby or not, is a blessing beyond measure. The gift of new life, entrusted to us from God. So why do we try and prevent something the Lord is trying to bless us with? Are we nervous about our time, energy, and finances… Umm… is the new Pope Catholic? In a word, YES, but if The Lord will bless us with children, will He not also make a way to provide? Our hope says yes but as we walk through this season of life everyday is a challenge to believe that this is true.

As we continue to walk through this adventure of life MaKenzie and I are trying to strengthen our families faith. Walking in obedience to what The Lord has placed on our hearts whether or not it coincides with what we feel in our day to day life. Our hope is that through this one area of surrender we will have compelling examples, not of our own strength, but how The Lord was faithful and that He can be trusted. It’s with this hope we pray that He will also begin to take control of the other areas in our life we are still scared to surrender. This could be the last biological child we have, or just the second of many more to come. All we know is the Lord is telling a story in and through our family and our goal is to trust He knows how to tell the story much better than we do.

Ross

My Stay-at-Home Journey

MaebynStay at home dad… that’s my current title but that’s not what I set out to be. I always wanted to be a husband and father but I just saw these things as a part of my life and not the driving force that influenced my every decision. What I really wanted after I graduated from college was a JOB.  A good job, a well paying job, and an occupation that was fulfilling. With out really realizing it, I began my quest to form my identity in a job. Thankfully, The Lord has never allowed me to and here I am as a stay at home dad, more fulfilled and purpose driven than I could ever imagine.I started my professional career as a car salesman. Not exactly the break-out profession I had in mind once I received my diploma. I was barely making minimum wage and i spent most of my time surfing the internet and trying to overcome boredom rather than honing in on any type of skill. No big deal, I knew I was going to quit in a year, move down to Cincinnati, and start my career after I got married. After I got married I started a promising new career in insurance. My father in law owns a Nationwide agency and I thought that this would be the opportunity I was looking for. It was a good job and I learned a lot from those two plus years. Unfortunately, one of the things I learned was insurance sales was not for me.

While still working at Nationwide, MaKenzie and I started rehabbing the house we bought. It was a lot of work but I learned a lot through the process. When I quit Nationwide I started the search for a new job. When nothing turned up I decided to work at Lowes while I continued to look for a new career. I thought I’d at least be able to get some discounts on supplies as we worked to finish our house. Needless to say, I was still a long ways off from where I’d thought I’d be after graduating from college. It was 4 years down the road and I was making less than what I did during the summers in college. MaKenzie and I spent many a nights talking about my dissatisfaction with where life seemed to be taking me. What was I doing? Why couldn’t I find a job? With a kid on the way I decided to take a crack at flipping a house in hopes of turning it into a business. We started the house while I was still working at Lowes and sold it shortly after Maebyn was born. It was a blessing and something we hope to continue to do but, for right now, it’s not something that I could turn into a career.

After all this, I somewhat begrudgingly accepted my responsibility to stay home with our daughter. I wanted my daughter to have a parent around at all times I just didn’t want it to be me. I was thankful that our daughter did not have to go to daycare, I just didn’t want to be the one staying home. I wanted to be the provider, I wanted the satisfaction of providing, and I was jealous of all the success MaKenzie has had in her career. Why the hell were our roles so reversed?

Through this whole process God has deeply humbled my heart. I spent the vast majority of our first 4 years of marriage complaining, whining, and being ungrateful for what was going on in our lives. When I look back now, I think to myself, Wow, what a waste of precious time! I did not believe that God was working for my good. I thought, He is screwing me and I don’t deserve this. Does He not see how hurt I am? I’ve been good, tried to live a good life, I deserve a good job. Thankfully, in His time, He has humbled me, crushed what I deemed as important, and had enough grace to reveal to me what He deems as important. My identity is found in being His son, and He is teaching me everyday through being a husband and a father more and more about life.

I still want to work and I still want to provide for our family but I am now thankful for my previous failures because it has opened my eyes to God’s grace and understanding of what it actually means to be a father. These are all insecurities that are still alive and well inside of me, but my hope rests not in my failures but in the provision of The Lord. There’s freedom in releasing yourself from the constraints of what our culture/society deem the norm. It can be scary to be different than what you’ve always thought you’d be, or find yourself in a situation you never thought you’d be in but the center of God’s will is the place I pray I always find myself and my family in, no matter how different or non-conventional it might look to the world. He is guiding my heart and aligning it with His so that I can be the leader our family needs. I’m seven months in and I can not believe how in love I am with being a dad.

Ross

Chef R.A.D.

FEED ME. Seriously... like now, dad.

FEED ME. Seriously… like… now, dad.

A new responsibility that I have assumed as a stay at home dad is making the babies food. This task is usually reserved for Mondays. Maebyn and I go to Kroger, I talk to her in The Grocery Voice, a fan-favorite that sounds something like Arnold Schwarzenegger meets Count Dracula. I’m not sure how it got started but the grocery voice is a ritual that neither of us are willing to give up (I’m sure she’ll feel the same way when she’s twelve). We peruse the aisles together, she smiles at me and tells me what kinds of food she wants – I mainly buy fruit because that’s my personal favorite. We actually got in a fight today cuz she was hell-bent on sushi but it just wasn’t happening, Kroger’s supply was less than impressive. I’m trying to incorporate vegetables but it’s hard, because I HATE vegetables and for some reason it makes me think she does too. MaKenzie laughs at me because I truly feel guilty feeding her veggies, just the other day I tried to throw out some asparagus I made because the guilt was almost unbearable. As for Maebyn, her favorite foods (to-date) are avocado, mangos, apples, pears, bananas, and basically anything sweet. She gets this from her mothers insane obsession with candy I think.

When I first started making food for Maebyn it was fun. Now it’s more of a necessary task than fun. I like feeding her food, it just takes so much time and to be honest I’m excited for the day I can set food down and she can feed herself. I have a tough enough time eating balanced meals for myself, and feeding her a nice balanced nutritious meal can be overwhelming. She’s not a fussy eater and eats everything I’ve given her so far so I really have no complaints. The only problem is – man is the girl needy. I have to scoop every bite of food into her mouth, clean her face after every bite, and repeat the process until she’s full. I mean come on, learn to do some things on your own, Maebyn, you’re seven months old for cryin’ out loud.

Today, we made mangos, mixed with apples and carrots. I thought the concoction tasted quite good and so did she. She polished off about a jar and a half of the stuff and didn’t spit out any of it. This is an accomplishment too because she recently discovered that she can spit the food all over her face and that it’s quite fun to make messes. She’s also discovered that the dog is standing by at all times, willing and ready to take any food off her hands (or face, toes, neck…).

Maebyn is seven months old today and seeing her growth and development over the past couple months has been our joy. Simple things like learning to eat has been fun to witness. She changes everyday and the only thing I keep thinking is, time is going by too fast.

I’m in the market for new recipes so if you have a favorite, leave a comment below and let me know about it. I’m always down for trying new things and I think my baby-food-creativity has hit a wall.

Ross