First comes love …

… then comes marriage,

then comes the incredibly rare monoamniotic twin babies born Monday morning at Community Medical Center.

Welcome to the world, little ones. And congratulations, Castillo family!



Photo by Tom Bauer of the Missoulian

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Sometimes a girl just needs her mom

For the past five months I have felt like a girl again as I struggle to find clarity in the uncertainty that being pregnant brings.

Am I ingesting enough vitamins? Will Bob be healthy even if I don’t always sleep on my left side and occasionally eat French fries? Will my water break when my husband is busy in a harvest field on the Hi-Line and unreachable by phone? If I haven’t felt Bob kick yet does that mean something’s wrong? Will labor hurt as much as everyone says? What do I do with Bob at home? How do I raise a kind, functioning human being? As much as I love my job, will I want to be home with Bob more? How will my husband and I adjust to the new family dynamic?

So it was with great joy I spent the past 12 days with my mother who flew out to rub my belly bump, make sure I’m exercising and eating right, and assure me that if she could raise three kids I can manage one.

When I returned to the house after dropping her off at the airport for her return flight I curled up in my husband’s arms and broke into tears.

Are you alright, Jared asked.

Yes, I just miss mom already, I said.

Is that all, he asked.

Yes, I managed to say between sniffles while Jared patiently waited for the something else he knew I was holding back.

I’m scared, I said. Having mom here was comforting.

I’m scared, too. I have no idea how to raise babies, Jared said. But I’m willing to learn.

His comment reminded me of a conversation with mom during her visit. I admitted I was in more than a bit of denial that our lives are about to irrevocably change and unsure about everything. I often feel selfish and ungrateful for the precious gift that is Bob because I’m scared and anxious instead of blissful and overjoyed.

None of that matters, mom said.

Just love him.


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Median age for a first marriage continues to rise

My husband and I were both 26 years old when we got married. Technically. We got married two days after I turned 26 – two days before he turned 27.

At last, the rest of the nation has caught up with us (wink). The U.S. Census Bureau reports today that according to its latest data, in 2010, the median age for a first marriage for women increased to 26.

To be exact (and the Census Bureau almost always is), it increased to 26.8 – up quite a bit from 25.1 in 2000. For men, the age of first marriage rose from 26.1 in 2000 to 28.2 in 2010.

This trend is nothing new. People have been waiting longer to marry since the 1950s. And in fact, fewer people are marrying at all. The average household size in the U.S. continues to shrink at least party due to the steady increase in one-person households. Consider that in 2010, 27 percent of households were headed by a single adult. That’s more than double the 13 percent figure from 1960.

Here are some items that are new: For one, the percentage of children living with two married parents dropped to 66 percent. And I’m not sure how this fits with the recession, but slightly more moms are staying at home: 23 percent of married moms, at least, are staying at home, compared to 21 percent in 2000.

And finally, more kids are living in a household that includes at least one grandparent – a full 10 percent. Of these 7.5 million kids, 22 percent did not live with a parent.

– MM

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Census bureau counts births to unmarried women in ‘cohabitational’ relationships for first time

Lots and lots of women who give birth are not married, but just because they are not married does not mean there isn’t a partner in the picture.

For the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau counted up all those unmarried new moms in live-in relationships, and compiled those findings into a recently released report that also includes new topics such as fertility rates for women with higher education and unemployment levels of new mothers.

The report says that between June 2007 and June 2008, a total of 4 million women in the U.S. gave birth. Of these, some 1.5 million women were unmarried at the time they gave birth. And of these unmarried women, 28 percent, or about 425,000 women, have a “cohabitating partner.”

The report’s author, Jane Dye, summed up the findings: “The report shows that many unmarried new moms are not raising their child alone.”

Other interesting Census findings include a report that ” by the time women reached the 40 to 44 age range in 2008, they had averaged 1.9 births in their lifetime, down from 3.1 births in 1976 … This reflects the decline in the likelihood of women having three or more children, as well as the increase in the proportion not having any at all.”

Also according to the Census, more women with newborns are working. In 2006, 57 of mothers who recently gave birth were in the labor force. In 2008, that percentage increased to 61 percent.  Only 6 percent of mothers with newborns are unemployed.

Some bad news: One in four new mothers in the U.S. are living in poverty, and Montana is among the states with higher than average poverty rates for new moms.

And finally, women who received some form of education continuing into their 20s counted lower fertility rates at younger ages, with increasing fertility at older ages. Overall, the “peak” childbearing age in 2008 fell into the 25- to 29-year-old range. That age group counted 122 births per 1,000 women.

– MM

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A mother’s marital advice

As a mother, I take great comfort in the assertion that my youngest – and rather dramatic, I might add – daughter has found her partner for life. Chris is patient, loves her unconditionally, and is truly her best friend. When they were dating, I watched for all the red flags; no worries, she is herself when they are together—no pretenses, no pretending.

Katharine and I are close. As is the case with her sister, we confide in each other like some sappy situation comedy series about a mother and adult daughter. I am well aware of the pros and cons to exercising such candor, and was reminded of just that when I answered the phone—rather late at night for our usual chat, it occurred to me as I lifted the receiver to my ear. Where was Chris?

Read the rest of this entry »

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