there’s nothing quite like the anticipation of the onset of labour. this was only amplified for us with twins – the span of time of likely birth is a bit wider, and there are two babies to come which makes it all the wilder! also, my parents had not only traveled halfway around the world to be here for the birth, but they had also quarantined for two whole weeks (required by the uk government) in the english countryside before coming to london to spend time with us. before they came and while they were quarantining, we were praying every day that the babies wouldn’t come yet. once they got out of quarantine, we prayed every day that the babies would come soon! as it turns out, they waited with us for over three weeks after completing their quarantine. in september 2020 we also got into a routine with our nanny lizzy and with school and joy school, enjoyed the onset of glorious autumn in london, had a covid scare when one of our friends that we had spent quite a bit of time with tested positive, and took a little british babymoon (that’s coming in my next post!). my body expanded beyond what seems reasonably possible and my pregnancy because really difficult. this last pre-twins time was unique and full and intense and sweet.
there was joy school in our garden two mornings a week, which made our gabriel so happy! we have such a darling group of little pals!
we had a few joy school field trips too! one of those was to the natural history museum, where gabes was sure to find moses’s favourite animal and was so excited to show his brother a picture!
autumnal splendor around our neighbourhood:
one evening i went to the grocery store and realised upon getting there that i forgot to bring a mask. i wasn’t about to waddle my double pregnant and super weary body all the way home and back to the store again, so i improvised with what i had with me. a diaper did the trick. hahah! what a time to be alive.
the boys did a few football classes at holland park. this was gabriel’s first time and he absolutely loved it!
there were three more craft walls before baby brother and baby sister joined our home.
moses and gabriel had lots of fabulous adventures with lizzy. oh my goodness, we will forever be grateful to this angel of a girl and the love and care that she gave to our kids. it was such a gift to be able to have some breaks at the end of my pregnancy when my body was just spent. lizzy was so easy to live with, so fantastic with the kids, and became a dear friend. i’ll never be able to express how blessed we felt to have her stay with us for a few months! (she sent me all these photos from her adventures with the boys – i love them!)
gabriel ready to head out on some adventure or another / moses chilling with his snack on “the stoop” – a doorstep that he always liked to stop at on the way home from school. one of lizzy’s greatest helps during her time with us was doing school drop off and pick up.
one day we babysat our friends’ kids in the park for a few hours. it was good practice in caring for four small kids! and by the end of september some pre-halloween dressing up was going on at our home!
some more photos from lizzy…
from a rainy walk one day … i’ll never ever run out of pretty corners to discover in this city!
happened upon this tribute at kensington palace on the anniversary of princess diana’s death…
we took a couple of day trips – one to wisely gardens and one to wakehurt. both were gorgeous and i can’t believe i didn’t take more pictures than this. we sure, sure love england.
moses did his first school project for reception – an “all about me” box. he was assigned to pick five things that represent him and put them creatively in a box. he chose magnatiles, animals, his stuffed penguin that he sleeps with, a photo of his family, and jesus.
i sent in my absentee ballot, happy to cast my vote from abroad in such a wild election…
my friends threw me a little baby shower. it was so, so wonderful. covid restrictions had started to ramp up again after much more freedom in the summer, and a “rule of six” was in place by september – no gatherings of more than six people outdoors (and no gatherings at all indoors). my friends were so creative in altering the plan for my shower – setting up a rotating party in our garden with three different stations and groups of five. we kept our distance except for a few seconds to snap some photos (i feel like we look so awkward in these photos kind of holding our breaths, haha!). i was super touched by my friends’ thoughtfulness in planning this and attending the shower and celebrating our babies with me. it was a really sweet night and i am so grateful for my dear friends in london!
one saturday we took our boys to hyde park and just relished playing with them and watching them play, thinking it was likely one of our last saturdays as a family of four! moses and gabriel rolled down the hill, climbed and slid and swung at the playground, and let us chase and tickle them. it was a sparkly little slice of life that i’m glad we caught hold of and cherished.
some moody, halloweeny scenes from a walk in brompton cemetery one day:
moses and i went to a play date with a friend one day after school and as we were waiting for our uber home i couldn’t help but snap a couple pictures of him as he was looking up at me telling me something excitedly. i just think he is such a beautiful boy.
a pretty scene from our neighbourhood, and a mommy date with moses to the library one morning (past the fun pink halloween decorations at peggy porschen):
when my parents finally finished their quarantine and arrived in london, it was sooooo exciting to see them. my eyes filled with tears as i gave them a big hug (as much as possible with my huge belly!) when we reunited. especially after not seeing them in the summer and not being able to hug a family member for so dang long, it was just so wonderful. they came with me to pick up moses from school and he was floored when he saw them (although he didn’t recognise them at first with their masks on!). i wish i would have taken some pictures! in fact, i can’t believe that i only have a few photos from their time in london before the babies came. they stayed at an airbnb just around the corner from us. mostly, they explored and worked while we went about our usual routine, but we got together every night for dinner and those evenings are now such cherished memories. they celebrated with us when we found out both babies were head down at 36 weeks, inquired about the intensity of my braxton hicks contractions and any progress from my two membrane sweeps at 37 weeks, and pushed their flights back when the babies kept staying cozy in my belly. their love for london and love for me kept them around and i. am. so. intensely. grateful. and always will be that i had my parents around when i gave birth to twins.
our boys love grammie and grandfather fiercely. seeing my kids with my parents is one of my life’s greatest joys.
flower boxes and happy meals…
masked adventures at the tower of london and other tourist sites they hadn’t been to in decades…
(my parents lived in london a couple of times back in the day, so they are very familiar with the city.)
one morning my mom and i got together with our dear schwartz girls for a little baby shower brunch. amy is like my mom’s tenth child – has been a dear family friend since she was a baby essentially. she and her husband and daughters are our family in england. we had the most delicious food in notting hill and i was so glad to celebrate my babies with these beloved women.
moses and gabriel were always so ecstatic when grammie and grandfather came over to our flat, waiting at the front door peeking through the mail slot 🙂
mo reading books with grammie, and me showing off the treasure my uncle sent us that arrived when my parents were here – bound copies of my grandpa’s journal (he died when my dad was fifteen, and i’ve always felt a particular kinship with him; my uncle chris sent a copy for each member of my family):
a little mommy date with my gabriel jumping in puddles in our garden:
on 9 october, we celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary! we were really into any-minute-now territory with the babies coming by this point, so our celebration was definitely different than in years past (we usually take a trip together for our anniversary!). my sweet mom brought over some decorations for our flat and our amazing lizzy picked up some cupcakes and flowers for us! we had a little party with our boys and watched the video i made for ian last anniversary chronicling our first five years married (i add a year each anniversary, but this year i didn’t quite get to finishing it in time…). moses and gabriel loved watching and seeing themselves show up and grow up! after bedtime ian and i just sat in bed and talked, haha. talking to ian is maybe my favourite thing in the world to do. super simple but super sweet anniversary date.
moses’s halloween costume arrived in the mail. do you think he was excited about it?!
snapping some photos of my thirty eight week belly on the way home from church two days before the babies were born:
final playground visits as a family of four, and a photo lizzy took of us working on a puzzle together on our very last afternoon at home as a family of four:
headed out on our last outing as a family of four – a walk in brompton cemetery:
two brothers about to get two baby siblings:
i took some mirror selfies of my huge bump on the day we were scheduled to go into the hospital for an induction. i cannot believe i grew two humans inside of my body!!!!
a few days before the babies came, my parents gave me a really special gift that has a bit of a back story. my mom has always worn a stack of three rings given to her by my dad on her left ring finger – a diamond engagement ring along with two gold bands: one representing marriage and one representing eternity. a few years into their marriage, my dad gifted my mom a ruby which was also set on a gold band. on my parents’ fiftieth anniversary, my dad gave my mom an update ring stack with her original engagement diamond and some new stones and bands, leaving my parents with four gold bands that my mom had worn for fifty years but didn’t wear anymore. they decided to have a jeweler refurbish the gold into four perfectly identical bands, one for each of their four daughters. just before i gave birth to twins, my mom and dad presented me with my gold band – an exact match of the gold bands each of my sisters now wear, made of material that my mom wore as a symbol of love and commitment to family for half a century. the band they gave me this past autumn in london miraculously fit perfectly (they’d just guessed my ring size) and i haven’t taken it off since i first put it on. i wore it as i ushered two souls to earth from heaven, so glad to have a little bit of my mom with me (i was very sad to not have her attend the birth, due to covid restrictions). as i was headed to the hospital for our induction, my sister saydi sent me these two photos:
she and my other sisters shawni and saren were together in utah, on a hike in the glorious mountains, all wearing their own gold bands and thinking of me. sending me power and love and strength as i approached this huge and sacred task of birthing two souls. these photos helped me feel wrapped up in love from my sisters, my mother, and our mother earth as i laboured and delivered our twins.
phew! that was a lot of pictures and words from our last weeks before august and eve arrived. everything changed on the thirteenth of october, twenty twenty.