Award-Winning Katy ISD Teacher and New Mom of Two Opens Up About Life with Twins, Eden and Emersyn.
KATY MAGAZINE | October 2017 By Tonya Ellis Photography by Katie Hewitt
Bethke Elementary kindergarten teacher Christina Dismuke has been lauded throughout the district and the state for her servant’s heart and dedication to helping her pupils reach their personal best. Named 2015 Katy ISD & Region IV Teacher of the Year, she was also a Texas Teacher of the Year Finalist. For the past few months, she’s been spending time with two sweet new students, her adorable twin baby girls, Eden Elize and Emersyn Marloe. The busy new mom share’s what she’s been up to post pregnancy, and how life has changed for her and her husband Colin.
What was your reaction when you found out you were having twins?
We were completely shocked! Growing up and envisioning what our family would look like, we thought we would add one member at a time. Even those first few weeks before we learned there was more than one, we called it our little “Sprout.” After going through pregnancy with two and spending these first five months with these babies, we can’t imagine only adding one! There is so much love from our family and friends, it would have been impossible for one baby to handle!
Do you or your husband have other twins in your families?
When we are asked if twins run in our family, our answer usually is, “they do now!” Upon some research, we learned that my husband’s grandfather has twins on his side of the family, but we never thought it was a possibility!
Who decided on the names?
When we started praying about starting a family, I asked God to give me a specific name to pray over. About four months before we conceived, I kept having dreams about a baby girl named Eden. Although I didn’t know when she was coming, I knew that God, in His faithfulness, was going to bring us this sweet babe. I even shared my dreams with a friend and told her we were having a baby girl named Eden.
“Eden” means “delight” and “Elize” means “consecrated to the Lord.” We knew that these babies were total gifts and we wanted to give them back to the One who gave them to us. When we went in for our gender ultrasound, he started at the bottom with Baby A. When he told us it was a girl, I immediately knew it was Eden.
My husband decided on the name “Emersyn.” He just knew one day that that was supposed to be her name. Emersyn means “brave.”
We prayed that these names are things that our girls grow into – being delights to those around them and brave in the face of fear. We feel like both of our sweet girls have lived up to their name. Eden is such an incredible delight. Her smile and snuggles are the sweetest. Emersyn continues to show her bravery and independence, as she was delivered breech, and spent a day and a half in the NICU after she was born.
What's harder, being "teacher tired" or "new mom tired?"
Gosh, “newborn twin mom tired” is pretty tough. Even with the most incredible partner, it can feel like you are playing a never-ending game of “whack-a-mole!” You get one twin fed, diapered, and back to sleep, and the other seems to want to snuggle or get up. However, there really is nothing like that first week “back to school teacher tired.” There is so much that builds up to the first day of school – moving your stuff out of storage closets, from your house, or from another school. It is physically and emotionally exhausting – working long hours and wanting to make sure each of your students feels loved, known, and connected in your classroom. The great teachers I know invest their everything in that beginning of the year experience, and the entire year! There really isn’t anything even like “teacher tired,” even having twins! My hat is off to the incredible mamas I know that do both with such grace and joy!
What has been the most challenging part about being a new parent?
Looking back at some of my struggles in life, I realized a lot of it was due to comparisons. However, for me, it isn’t much of comparing myself to others, but rather the expectations I had of myself. We were so excited when we learned there wasn’t just one baby, but it took a period of time before my mind adjusted to our new normal. I spent years envisioning what pregnancy and welcoming one baby into the world would look like, and then boom! There’s another and things are going to look different.
I planned to continue running and eating my vegetarian diet throughout my pregnancy, but was restricted to walking, yoga, and teaching kindergarten as my workout regimen, and including meat to get these babies double the protein one baby would need. I would have loved to deliver the babies in a certain way, but due to their positioning, my doctor felt it best to deliver in an operating room with an epidural just in case. I took classes on breastfeeding twins, planned to exclusively breastfeed, and then was just completely wiped feeding them all day. I learned a combination of breastfeeding and pumping would allow others to help too, as well as give us some more freedom to be out in public. I thought I could be that mom who made it all look effortless and have the house kept up and dinner ready each night. The truth is, my husband helps to pick up and do laundry, and if dinner doesn’t make it into the crock pot, we are having eggs and avocado toast. All of those situations crushed me as a mom because I had such lofty expectations for myself. I’ve learned in a huge way to extend grace and be grateful for this season, even though it didn’t match my expectations. Comparing myself to my expectations of myself completely steals my joy.
"I’ve learned in a huge way to extend grace and be grateful for this season, even though it didn’t match my expectations."
How has Katy ISD/your teacher friends and co-workers supported you as a new parent?
I have never felt the gravity of the statement, “It takes a village,” more than I have during pregnancy and the last five months since the babies got here. My kindergarten team at school gave me such grace during the beginning of my pregnancy when I was so sick all day, every day, and especially at the end, waddling down the halls and attempting to sit on the floor with my kids at 37 weeks pregnant.
Additionally, my school threw a sweet baby shower and provided us with almost five months’ worth of diapers, helped with a meal train that lasted us for nearly a month, and have come to visit or meet us for lunch during the summer. I really could not have imagined doing this without them.
How do you and your husband Colin balance taking care of two little ones at once?
We love that it is two-on-two! Sometimes the two-on-one while he is gone at work can be challenging, but I know that when it’s two-on-two, we can conquer anything, anywhere together!
My favorite time of day is bath time. We have such a routine worked out, and the girls love it. That’s really the key – talking through things and making a game plan that works for everyone. We remember that we have to work together. It’s really become such a sweet thing to share this with him. I’m convinced of how I truly could not do this without him!
What/who has been your biggest source of comfort and support?
Without a doubt, Colin has been my biggest source of comfort and support. He endures the really hard moments of parenthood with me, as well as celebrates the great moments well. He is always speaking words of encouragement over me as a Mama, and jumps in to help when he gets home no matter what his day looked like. It is incredible to see our girls fall more in love with him each day.
If you could choose between a date night out on the town or an uninterrupted nap, what would you pick?
I would love to have a date night at The Grove in Houston. We had our rehearsal dinner there, and have frequented it when we need to reset as a couple. Time with my husband in a place we both love would be as refreshing as a nap, which, by the way, is impossible for me. There is always something to do or a baby to snuggle, so it is hard to sneak a nap anyways!
Do you plan on going back to teaching?
Teaching is absolutely part of my blood. I grew up knowing that this was what I wanted to do. I’ve completely accepted that I’m doing my own “teaching” in a different place for this season of life, with two of the sweetest students ever. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity and want to soak this time in.
However, I love collaborating with other educators and impacting communities through public education. I will absolutely be back. I’m using this time to read some great professional development books that have been in my stack for a while now, and make some professional goals.
WORDS OF WISDOM from Christina The twin momma shares some gems of wisdom for Katy moms.
~Be grateful for this season.
~ Give yourself grace.
~ Don't let comparison steal your joy.
~ Set reasonable expectations.
~Communicate with your partner.
TONYA ELLIS loves writing feature articles and spending time with her family.