Road Trippin’

img_2478Recently my husband and I set out on a little road trip with our then four month old twins. As sometimes even short drives to the store result in backseat wailing, we knew there would be some interesting moments en route to our destination. But, as we were going to visit dear family members, we deemed it absolutely worthwhile to embark on this adventure. Our plan was to leave early in the morning while our little ones were sleepy and make tracks before the wakefulness of the day set upon them. Best laid plans…lets just say getting out the door with twins never fails to offer new and surprising twists and inevitable delays.

But, finally we were on our way and headed mountain-ward, armed with a zillion rattles and a beautiful treat basket my sister had made us. An hour in, treat basket devoured, we had already made several emergent roadside stops in response to vehement shrieks of protest and it seemed our tiny defiant members had figured out if they wanted to eat it would delay their being replaced in the car seats. Wee ones fed, (again), diapered, and abundantly toy’ed, we set out to continue our slow journey towards our destination.image

Things were going pretty smoothly until we entered a long tunnel through a mountain. Now, you can’t pull over inside a tunnel, and you sure as anything cannot stop mid-traffic. It’s dark, loud, and completely without escape. Almost the moment we entered the tunnel, our tiny son abruptly burst into panicked screams. Not the ‘hey I’m kind of upset’ kind, the ‘OH MY GOSH IM GOING TO SCREAM UNTIL I CANT BREATHE’ kind. My husband valiantly tried singing, (his singing is the ONLY thing the babies respond to immediately, it’s amazing), we tried soothing, shhh’ing. The little guy was NOT having it and was escalating at a terrifyingly rapid pace. Over the seat I went, remarking to my husband that of course I’ve always dreamed of going through a mountain tunnel butt first so really this was great. He responded via song, and I began to stroke and soothe and attempt to calm my hysterical child. Thankfully his sister was peacefully looking on in wonder as we madly careened around tunnel corners, me soothing, baby shrieking, husband singing.

imageFinally the tunnel ended and we stopped roadside for the umpteenth time. We did eventually make it to our destination which was indeed beyond worth the trip, (stand by for my next post on that!). We only made one official pit stop/restroom break (when babies are sleeping you hold that pee). My husband had practically lost his voice from singing by the time we had arrived, and I had become a pro at front seat roadside diaper changes in my lap, not to mention we had both achieved a stellar tricep workout from reaching over our heads to jiggle baby seats while driving.image

It did make arriving at our destination that much sweeter, hugs and wine have never felt and tasted better, and it’s definitely been our biggest adventure yet as a family of four. What’s been your craziest experience to date traveling with little ones?

A Place to Put Them, Gadgets and Gizmos

imageMy husband and I are not big on ‘stuff’, however it became evident to me after the babies arrived we were going to need SOME stuff. I took to Craigslist and the first item I found was an exersaucer, it’s still a little big for them and as you can see from his expression, my son thinks the flapping starfish is not to be trusted. My next find was a baby play gym, complete with kick pad piano. The wonderful lady we bought it from threw in a second play gym when she heard we had twins, and bless her heart, have we ever loved it. We ended up buying a few more things from her, namely, a crib mobile, bouncy seat, and auto swing. As she said, sometimes you just need to have somewhere to put the baby and go to the bathroom.

You’ve already heard me talk about our bassinets, wonderful whirring imageand rocking devices that do sometimes soothe and keep a wee one sleeping. When we first started out on our pregnancy journey, researching what type of gizmos and gadgets we wanted was overwhelming, to say the least. You cannot just choose color and style for anything, there are literally dozens of options no matter what type of device you are considering purchasing. Stroller shopping is equal in my opinion to car shopping, not just in stress levels but wow, do those things ever get expensive!

imageYes, it’s true, baby stuff can take over your house, but there are a few things that are so worth it. The play gyms are amazing, while they never lay there too long it gives them just the right amount of stimulation. They don’t get overwhelmed, yet it normally wears them out enough to take a nap. Sometimes my little boy will alternate enthusiastic play with cat naps, all in the same gym. It’s wonderful.

The swing is amazing, you can crank it up and hang things off the top imagefor them to look at in wonder as it goes back and forth over their little heads. And as I’ve mentioned before, the bouncy seats are the only way I ever shower. The crib mobile is mandatory to our nighttime routine, or to diaper changes in general. One baby can lie in the crib and stare in fascination at the swinging jungle creatures that rotate to alternating clips of Debussy, Chopin, and Bach while the other baby enjoys a diaper change. (These days, my babies LOVE diaper changes. Sometimes I’ll change them even when they’re not imagedirty just to break the fussy cycle).

We’ll even put both babies under the mobile to brush our teeth, etc, and most of the time it’s distracting enough to them that they stay happy until it’s time to nurse to sleep. We recently acquired Bumbo seats, (due to having a gift card we purchased ours at Babies R Us, but I recommend Amazon due to slightly better pricing/free shipping).image

My babies are still a little young for the Bumbo, but we’ve been using it in tiny increments, as especially my boy gets super excited he can sit up in it. It’s a wonderful little contraption, small and compact, even the tray stores on the back of the seat. We do have Boppy pillows, I used them like crazy for the first month but have less so as of late, I do use it to prop them up after eating sometimes but don’t use it as much as I thought I would. Perhaps I will use it more a they get older. In the meantime, I do highly imagerecommend glowing rubber duckies.

Devices I am eager to use include the Johnny jump ups my parents got them, as much as my babies like to bounce and pretend to stand I foresee lots of use in those. In short, while you don’t need to turn your house into a display case for Buy Buy Baby, I highly recommend having a few key baby gadgets and gizmos, for as a dear friend said to me, sometimes you just have to have a place to put them.

Baby Belly Woes, to the Chiropractor We Go

imageEver since she was born, my sweet little girl has dealt with some sort of tummy trouble. At first, it was gas and colic. Grammy found a wonderful product called ColicCalm, and it provided some relief. We became masters of the leg pedal and stomach massage, and I wouldn’t be surprised if my little girl has learned to celebrate every toot she emits with a ‘yay!’ and cheers. Once she neared 3 months, the colic began to subside but she was still very fussy more often than not, (translation, never have you seen such mighty Tarzanian yells out of such a tiny body).

We discovered she was dealing with reflux as well, and our pediatrician prescribed ranitidine, explaining that insurance would not cover the better reflux medication until we tried this one. It had zero effect, and so they switched us to Prevacid. I’m not a big fan of giving my teeny little baby much besides breastmilk, but I am also not a big fan of her projectile vomiting multiple times a day. We still weren’t pleased with the results of the Prevacid, so we began to research alternatives. A friend recommended chiropractic treatments, and we decided to give it a try.

This past week was our first treatment, we discovered our little girl has imagea beautiful spine and palate, but an unusually tight neck and irritated diaphragm. She did not mind the majority of the treatment, which was basically like gentle baby massage, however when the doctor went to release her neck muscles she complained at the top of her voice. The doctor explained that while it wasn’t comfortable to release she would probably express relief right afterwards, and she did, with a giant baby sigh. According to the doctor she will only need one more visit. It’s five days after her first adjustment, and the jury is still out. She’s still vomiting, we are both on outfit number two for the day. My husband attempted to greet me with a kiss after work and stuck his hand in a lovely giant vomit spot on my side. To his credit he did not recoil in disgust, but took baby girl so I could change. I will admit I would be just fine not smelling of ode de la Baby Puke so often, (lavender oil only does so much, and while I am fast at dodging, she is faster at puking).

We will go for the last appointment, and perhaps, hopefully,  it will make a huge difference. If not, we will continue to try various natural remedies we find and thankfully she will eventually grow out of it. In the meantime, I will continue to work on mastering the BabyPuke Dodge and Wipe.

I Woke Up Like This?

imageMorning has been an adventure in my house this morning. I would love to paint you a blissful picture of me waking up, romantically tousled hair and smelling like the clean linen sheets I arose from. Perhaps I am peacefully having a lovely cup of steaming coffee, one baby nursing while the other plays. But realty is that my hair looks like a nest the birds abandoned, I have milk crusted in unmentionable places, and even my four month old son is afraid of my armpits. The coffee is cold, my daughter vomited on the bathroom floor, my son pooped in his bath, the cats are screaming because I forgot to buy their food yesterday and you don’t even want to know how long it is taking to make this post.

I will (hopefully) eventually shower soon, I’ll skip the mascara because who knows where that went, and I might even get to warm up that coffee.

A little chaotic? Sure, but that’s ok. I woke up like this.

Co-sleeping, How I Survive

imagePeople have co-slept as long as the human race has existed. Babies didn’t have their own separate mud huts, they stayed near mom at all times. Warmth, protection, there were many reasons to not let your infant leave your side. Of course today our circumstances are different. It is highly unlikely a wolf will sneak into your baby’s room and devour it in the night, and we live in comfortably climate controlled homes. Personally, I had resolved to use the crib when my babies arrived. I valiantly declared they would sleep on their own. My own mother, who co-slept all three of her girls, patiently helped me set the crib up beautifully with baby sheets and bumpers, smiling a quiet little smile as I adamantly insisted my babies would only sleep in their bassinets or the crib.

imageWell, my babies finally arrived one day. Not surprisingly, they didn’t like the cold plastic bassinets at the hospital. (Who would when your previous residence had been a warm squishy womb!) We brought them home from the hospital, celebrated our triumphant return as a family of four with a meal my mother had lovingly prepared and got ready for our first night at home. We tucked our tiny new members snugly into their vibrating, rocking bassinets and prepared ourselves to sleep.image

Now, newborns wake up a lot, but that first night our little babies didn’t sleep at all. Not even a five minute stretch. The minute their tiny bodies touched the bassinets they would begin to wail. We were desperate, in a haze we wondered if this up all night routine would be our lives the next few months. I still get PTSD from that first night when I hear the bassinets whirring.

The following night while nursing them I realized as long as they were near us, touching us, they would sleep. Of course they woke up to eat but they would at least sleep a little. After my 24 hour holdout, I brought them into our bed. Of course they didn’t immediately start sleeping for long periods of time, but they slept. And that was all I asked for. We tried a few more times to let them sleep in their bassinets but to no avail. They calmed instantly when near us, and it seemed absurd to insist to these tiny beings they couldn’t be with us for comfort when that was all they asked for.image

Nowadays, they sleep like angels. They wake a few times a night to eat, and since I sleep between them I simply flop back and forth. One latches, we both snooze off. The other one wakes, I flip over, they latch, we snooze off. Sometimes they wake up simply because they want an arm wrapped around them. And since they’re right there, it’s easy to do. My mom never said I told you so, just smiled a quiet smile when I announced the babies were in our bed to stay.

imageAnd I don’t regret it a moment. Given a choice of trucking across the house multiple times a night for feedings or waking periodically for cuddles, let me tell you, cuddles win every time. With my twins eating the way they do, I would spend less time in my bed than I would walking back and forth though the house. Cuddles aside, I credit my sanity to our decision to co-sleep. No, it hasn’t ruined my marriage. My husband and I are even excited for the day we add more wee ones to our brood and our bed becomes even more full. And yes, my children will one day sleep in their own beds. I hope that day takes a while to get here, I don’t know what I’ll do without their soft cheeks, midnight hugs and sweet hair to smell.

Nap Strikes

imageI’m quite certain everyone with a child has experienced it, the infamous nap strike. Occasionally my little ones will resolve to avoid sleep at all costs. Eyes become bleary, voices raise, arms and legs flail and tempers stretch thin. Normally a walk in the stroller or carrier will resolve the nap strike, but yesterday they put up an exceptional fight. Five hours in, and my little girl was stubbornly still wide awake. Now, five hours is a VERY long time to be awake when you are about four months old. As seen in the set of her tiny furrowed brow, she wasn’t pleased with the way things were going at all.image

When my little ones go on a nap strike, they won’t eat, they won’t soothe, and they definitely won’t sleep. It’s not an ideal state for any of us. Yesterday I was especially motivated to get them to sleep as Auntie Hayley was coming into town and I was very hopeful she could see her darling niece and nephew in their normal, more pleasant state, not the whirling dervishes that were currently inhabiting my stroller.

Auntie Hayley arrived, adorable baby clothing goodies and protein snacks in hand, and while my son had thankfully dozed off, my daughter was still in adamant Sleep Refusal. Her joy at seeing Aunt Hayley overtook her bad mood, and while she still wouldn’t sleep, as long as she was being carried by her aunt she was happy.

imageWe took off for another walk to the store, and by the time we returned my poor little girl was at the end of her sleepless rope. I sent my husband a terse text, “SHE WONT SLEEP”. Valiant daddy that he is, he immediately left his studies and somehow got her to sleep in a matter of moments.

The rest of the afternoon went quite smoothly, playtime was had and my tiny son performed one more small attempt to continue the nap strike, complete with heart breaking lip quiver and tears, but succumbed once again to the soothing vibrations of the stroller. Aunt Hayley returned home to everyone’s disappointment, and bedtime was remarkably uneventful, to everyone’s relief.

Baby Acrobatics

Of all the wonderful aspects of parenting multitasking is an area in which you are guaranteed almost constant practice. One example would be taking a shower while home alone. (I highly recommend bouncy seats for this endeavor.) Before children, showers were not nearly so exciting. Now I simultaneously scrub, sing, (this is the way we shave our armpits, shave our armpits, shave our armpits) make crazy faces and reach out with a careful toe to bounce the seat when someone gets worried where mommy is, all while reassuring my wee ones ‘mommy is almost done! Just one more armpit!’.

My husband calls it Baby Acrobatics, as seen here in this pic of him bouncing one baby, holding the stroller with a foot and shielding the other baby from the sun for a diaper change.

We are getting quite accomplished with Baby Acrobatics. At bed time we are a well oiled machine, one changes a diaper while another fastens pajamas, trade babies! Now turn down the bed swaddle that baby hand over the other, turn on the mobile and turn off the light. All while carrying on a conversation that is frequently interrupted with my husband stopping to sing a soothing bit of a song when a tired baby starts to fuss. Meal preparations, eating, bedtime, phone calls, multitasking has become the norm at our house. Need me to make a phone call? No problem! Just let me bounce this baby/feed that cat/chop that carrot while I do.

Occasionally I will set the play gyms or bouncy seats in the kitchen instead of wearing the babies to avoid spattering one with hot oil or having them near while shredding cheese or other dangerous cooking tasks.


During these times I can find at least two pairs of eyes on me at all times due to the babies and whichever cats have joined us. Cooking becomes a speedy rotation of head pats, tummy tickles, repressing mobile buttons and shaking toys. ‘Oh, you sound busy’, says the person on the phone. ‘Shall we talk later?’ No not to worry, later I will be washing diapers, scrubbing heads, slathering lotion and singing lullabies.  Busy? Always. But I love it.

Saying No

 One of the biggest lessons I am learning as a parent is how to organize my priorities. A big, giant chunk of this involves learning to say no. Not just to other people, but most often to myself. I have realized that many things that were very important to me must become less important in favor of my children. A dear friend recently said to me, ‘I didn’t realize how selfish I was until I had children’.

I’ve never considered myself to be a selfish person, in fact I have often had to work on ever putting myself before others or tasks. In short, saying no has been very hard. And, until recently, this seemed in my mind to be a non-selfish personality trait. But having children has greatly changed my perspective on this.  Who benefits from saying yes to every engagement to make myself look good? Who appreciates that the dishes only sat in the sink for five minutes? I’m the first to admit that I’m an obsessive clean freak. But. At the end of the day, the dishes don’t need me to be their hero. My pants will last to be washed another day. That makeup lesson can be taught just as well next week. Today, my children need me to be their hero. They need those five minutes of us staring into each other’s eyes.

It sounds so cliche, ‘I had to learn to leave the mess to spend time with my kids’. But I have. I’ve had to make the conscious decision to walk away from the messy bookshelf to read a story, to leave the pile of laundry to share a giggle. I want to be SuperMom. I want the laundry always clean and folded, the floors always sparkling, dinner always made. And some days, I do get it all done. I get up early, they sleep, and it all comes together. And then some days it doesn’t. I have to remind myself it’s ok if we eat nachos again, and the laundry will eventually get folded.

I chose to bring these beautiful little people into the world, and putting their needs first is not just a privilege I now have, but a responsibility. At the end of the day, my daughter and son need me to be all I can be for them. And if I have already given everything to other people, or tasks, and have nothing left of myself, how can I have enough left for them?

Learning to say no doesn’t mean living life in isolation, saying no to every coffee date and turning down every opportunity to help friends and family. I don’t need to live in a dirty hovel of a house and wear stinky clothes every day. But it does mean making the right choice when something has to be sacrificed, and making the choice that doesn’t compromise myself or my children. That spot on the floor will still be there tomorrow.

Personal space, or Baby Defense 101

imageIf you have a child, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Walking into a store with a baby is very much like dropping a magnet into a pool of metal shards. Suddenly, there are people in your face, in your baby’s face, and they seem to all have a story to tell. Some stories are sweet and short, some stories are, well, not so sweet and seem destined to last until the world ends. And the touching! Why do people think it’s ok to paw at my baby’s face, hands, and other parts?! I mean, yes I know my baby is cute and I’m sure you’re a real nice person, but no I’m not ok with you fondling my little one! They can’t exactly fend you off at this point, so I will.

I’ve already mastered the art of the nod/smile/walk quickly backwards while defending my babes with my arms/legs/shopping cart. And the questions! With twins, I’ve been asked everything from ‘are they identical’ (no…they’re boy and girl…) to ‘did you use fertility treatments’ to ‘you had twins, on purpose?!’. (Ummm….really?!). Yes, walk into a Whole Foods with a double stroller and everyone looks at you as if you’re single handedly ruining everyone’s carbon footprint. (Hey, I breastfeed AND cloth diaper, thank you very much).

I have decided that an important part of parenting is How to Defend your Baby in a Public Place. Just the other day, my mom and I were checking out of a Natural Grocers, each carrying a baby. The cashier asked with an expression of shock, ‘how close did you have them together?! How far apart are they?! How did you do that?!’ I stood in stunned silence, thankfully my mom had the presence of mind to reply in cool tones, ‘They’re two minutes apart, they’re TWINS’. I know my boy is a little bigger than my girl, but not that much bigger for goodness sake! Yes lady, I got pregnant while 2 months pregnant and gave birth twice in a span of weeks. While I was processing all this, another cashier approached, arms out, repeatedly asking to hold my girl. Are you serious?! Lady I don’t know you from Adam no you can’t hold my baby! We checked out and almost ran backwards out of that store.

I will admit before babies I wasn’t very good at confrontation. However, having little ones who depend entirely on me for protection has done wonderful things for my backbone. While you might get away with offending me and invading my personal space, invade my kids space and my claws come out. My baby can’t tell you that you’re making them uncomfortable, or that they feel violated. So, until they’re old enough to tell people themselves, (so maybe 25?) I will absolutely be telling people for them.

 

 

 

Regarding Bedtime, or the Lack Thereof

imageIll be the first to admit bedtime is rather unorthodox in our house. Nap times also follow a more casual pattern, my little ones tend to do the ‘plop and drop’, rather than regularly scheduled naps. I do make certain that if they don’t sleep we at least do quiet time every hour and a half, as I have discovered going much longer than that without rest results in an acute case of windmill mode. Occasionally one or the other, (or both) will go on a nap strike despite my efforts and the dire and unfortunate state of windmill mode ensues.

Due to my teaching schedule, we eat dinner pretty late. Our usual evening schedule consists of dinner after 8pm, making an early bedtime for the kiddos very difficult if we hope to have any family time at all. After I finish teaching, we feed, change and put the babies in their jammies, sometimes giving them a quick bath. They both then usually fall asleep near us in their bouncy seats, leaving us a few quiet moments to eat dinner and catch up on the day. We all four go to bed at the same time. Diapers are changed for the last time, we swaddle them up, and they both nurse to sleep. Swaddling was something we introduced later, our first attempt was not well received by my itty bitties, (think full fledged screaming rebellion). Now they love it, it has an instant calming effect and it is an important part of our little bedtime routine. I don’t have a very set routine, we try to read a story before they pass out and we nurse and cuddle to sleep, but that’s about it.

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Now, bedtime is different for every family, and you have do what works for you. Last week I had a wave of mama guilt that perhaps I should be having the babies to sleep at a certain time every night, and that maybe my lack of bedtime routine was setting us all up for disaster. I chose a night in which I didn’t teach as late, and we did bathtime, story time, and to bed by 8pm. At first, they crashed into what appeared to be a deep sleep. However, a mere 15 minutes later, bright, eager little eyes were darting around the room and smiles and giggles were growing in volume. I got back into bed and nursed them to sleep again. A little bit later, the wiggles started and my tiny wrapped munchkins were wide awake again. (I do highly recommend this process if you desire to get your daily workout in while trying to get your babies to sleep. Up, down, into bed, out of bed. Repeat).

This process continued for over the next few hours, when they finally fell asleep for good. (Or at least for the next two hours). They woke up unusually early the next day and with a major case of Cranky Baby-itis.  (Mama also had an equally major case of  Cranky Mama-itis).

After pondering the failure of our attempted bedtime, I realized I could either commit to this process and keep at it until they learned the habit and it worked, or I could continue with our current routine which is working great. They go to sleep at some time before 10, they fall asleep fast and stay asleep, and then stay in bed until usually after 9 with a quick nursing snack or two. They wake up full of smiles and in the most wonderful moods. Thus, I determined that, at least for now, a strict bedtime was not something I deemed worthy of the effort. I get up early in the morning while they’re sleeping and that gives me a little time to accomplish some house chores and work, etc. I do like that my children seem to be learning flexibility in scheduling, and as they grow older hopefully won’t have their balance completely upset when we have events, go traveling, etc.

Will this routine continue working? I don’t know, as I said before parenting is a constantly changing learning process. I do know it worked for my parents and my sisters, and I love that growing up, while we always got our needed sleep, we also got to watch fireworks and roast marshmallows and have many experiences a strict bedtime would not have permitted us to partake in. I hope to be able for my own children to have those experiences, I know they were a huge important part of my childhood. And of course, what works for babies today may not work tomorrow, and hence why my personal mama playbook is an ongoing source of discovery.