Thursday, April 30, 2015

To the New Mom of Twins

When I think back to what we were doing this time last year...well...I can't remember much. It's kind of hazy, but somehow we survived.  Somewhere around the five-week point at dinnertime I remember taking a look around after another of our friends had dropped off a meal and thinking, "I am never going to be able to cook dinner EVER again.  How on earth are we going to afford take out every night?"

(Spoiler alert: I now make dinner (almost) every night.  It is possible.)

But back then our schedule was filled with round-the-clock nursings, diaper changes, clothing changes (both mine and the babies), constant loads of laundry, never finding time to make or eat meals or even get a refill on a cup of water without assistance.  Keeping two teensy people alive took all of mine and Tyson's energy and then some.

It was crazy.

Me with Caden and Brooklyn at about three weeks old.  Please note the strategically placed phone, book, water, burp cloths, and both babies, all within arms reach.  ARMS REACH IS IMPORTANT WHEN YOU'RE NURSING APPROXIMATELY ALL OF THE TIME.

If my new-mom-of-twins self had time to read this (and then to remember what I had read), this is what I would tell her:

Just breathe. Make sure you eat.  Nursing or not, you need to keep your strength up.  MEAL PLAN.  I've always done meal plans but it has recently been brought to my attention that some people don't and I'm not sure how to survive without one.  It's how I can make the aforementioned dinners every night.  And try to drink as much water as you can.  Those hospital cups are pretty handy.  I know that sometimes three hours pass between the time you think "Boy, am I thirsty" and actually getting your cup filled, but drink up when you can.

Tackle little projects, but don't get too obsessive about things being clean and picked up. You don't have time.  Fourteen months in and things STILL aren't too clean or picked up around here.

Try to get a shower each day: it helps you feel like a real person.  You might be wearing sweats and a shirt that gets spit-up on within five minutes, but those five minutes are WORTH IT.  And if you truly can't fit in a shower, dry shampoo makes all the difference.

Don't try to keep up your old schedule.  I went from being a relative night-owl to going to bed at 7 or 8 every night, since it was the only way to even possibly get a 2-3 hour stretch of sleep.  You'll be up plenty, so get that rest when you can.  I felt completely lazy, but I also wouldn't have been able to do anything productive since I was totally exhausted by that point.  (And psssttt...keeping two little people (and yourself!) alive and happy is anything but lazy).

Your time is not your own for awhile.  IT PASSES.  Sort of.  You will eventually have some time to yourself again.  If you're nursing, you will someday be able to leave the house and make plans without crafting them around who needs to nurse when.  It will become less daunting for both you and your husband to take care of them on your own, without help, while the other gets some much needed baby-free time.

Don't expect to do everything your friends with one baby can do.  It's virtually impossible to get any meaningful grocery shopping done when you have both babies along, in carseats, and the only "cart" you can use is the canvas bottom of your stroller.  Storytimes and other "mommy and me" classes are often structured for a one parent-to-child ratio, and while they will often make exceptions for multiples, there's a good reason for that ratio...more than that doesn't always work so well.  It can feel isolating when you see other mommies able to pick up their one child from the nursery, or take them out of the car and waltz right on in for your playdate, or give them their full attention at the playground, while you wrestle with two carseats, two little bodies, and that ever-present double stroller.  Find some other moms of multiples to talk to.  Your friends with one baby or kids of different ages just can't understand like a multiples mom can.

It will feel like the biggest accomplishment of your life the first few times you leave the house solo with your two babies.  It kind of is.  Running what used to be a simple errand will now require the planning and logistics usually reserved for mobilizing an entire army. It gets easier.  You're not crazy for rehearsing through each step of leaving the house and entering the store in your head.  And if that does make you crazy...well, then I guess I'm insane.

Their schedules will sync up eventually.  It took us a good eight to nine months for their naps and bedtime to be completely in-tune with each other.  From talking to other twin moms it sounds like even ten to twelve months isn't uncommon.  Just don't EVER allow their feeding schedules to be opposite.  You need to keep your sanity somehow.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Post Weekend (Except That I Only Wrote About One Thing We Did This Weekend)

The good news: Caden and Brooklyn have been intersted in animals lately, so we took them to Olbrich Gardens this weekend to ogle the fish and birds.

Caden was particularly interested in the fish.

Brooklyn was mildly interested, but when Tyson set her down so she could try to look through the wood beams at her level like Caden was doing, she threw a mad fit like "whhhyyyyy would you do that?!?".

Meanwhile, Caden continued to try to fit his head and as much of his body as possible through the side of the bridge.  No fear, this one.

Brooklyn was MUCH more interested in the birds.  The indoor area area of the Gardens included a bird feeding station, and we got lucky enough to see four canaries and two quails.

Brooklyn was fascinated.  She probably would have stayed there all day if I would have let her, except that she kept pulling the curved sticks out of the ground that were placed there precisely to keep inquisitive little toddlers out of the birds feeding area and on the path.


Distraction technique: mother-daughter selfies!

And spying on some cute boys across the way.

We headed outside where we came upon the Thai garden, which was beautiful (probably more so in a month or two, when things will look a little less...dead) and elephant statues! OMG YOU GUYS!  You have elephants in your room!  Let's take 89734 pictures of us with the elephants!

So we did.

"Look mom!  No hands!"

Caden was less impressed.

"Shouldn't this be, like, rocking or something?"

Though he had fun playing with sticks on the ground.

The coolest part was a Thai pavilion almost completely covered in gold leaf.  With signs everywhere saying "do not touch the pavilion OR ELSE".  (Okay, the "OR ELSE" was implied.) Which of course the oils from your hands and the sheer number of people constantly touching it would completely damage the gold leaf.  Okay sign, you got it.  But then I started thinking...isn't this pavilion...outside?  With like, weather?  And animals?  And we live in Wisconsin with things like snow and rain and hail and are you telling me that my hands will damage the gold leaf but the pavilion is totally cool with all that Mother Nature has to throw at it?

Clearly I am no expert since the pavilion is still standing and seemed to be minimally damaged.

And now for the bad news: 

My phone screen.  I dropped it on a concrete path at the Gardens face down and cracked it. Which, I've had the phone for over two years, and I've dropped it on hard surfaces before, but this one did it in.  It's not bad (in fact, I can't even get a decent picture of it to post here), and if you saw it you'd probably wonder what I'm even whining about (small crack down the left side doesn't even mess up the display), but...still.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Parenting Theory vs. Reality

Theory: Mix colorful veggies in with your child's pasta or eggs.  They'll love picking out and eating the brightly colored pieces!
Reality: Mix colorful veggies in with your child's pasta or eggs.  They'll love picking out the pasta and eggs to eat, leaving the veggies behind, picked clean.


Theory: Fill a bin with oatmeal or rice and let your child pour, sift, and stir with cups, spoons, and other kitchen tools.
Reality: Fill a bin with oatmeal.  Your child ignores the tools and immediately picks up handfulls to fling everywhere.

(Nothing a vaccuum can't fix...)

Theory: Your child will enjoy having a toy in their crib that plays calming music, soothing them to sleep.
Reality: Your child will love being rocked to sleep.  In the middle of the night, they will roll over on top of the calming-music toy which will immediately turn on, startling them awake.

Theory: Clean their nose out with a bulb syringe to help them breathe. 
Reality: Attempt to clean their nose out with a bulb syringe, while your child flails around screaming so loudly that the neighbors consider calling Child Protective Services.

Bonus! (for the Twin Parents)
Theory: To get a break and some sleep, take turns with your partner on handling the night shift.  You'll all do better with a little bit of rest
Reality: Laugh.  There is no break; you have twins.  No one is ever rested but the babies, who are somehow still full of energy the next day.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Fourteen Months

The following is what happens if you say "make a face":

Eat.  Three meals a day (7 am, 10:30/11:00 am, 5 pm) and 2 snacks (9:30 am and 3 pm).  Caden continues to be a typical guy, eating anything and everything put in front of him.  Brooklyn on the other hand STILL has something against veggies, and sometimes fruits.  It seems that we are entering the Great Beige Food Phase earlier than I anticipated, since pasta, bread, eggs, and cheese are the only options I can depend upon to be acceptable when put in front of her (okay, also blueberries).  Brooklyn is also inconsistent: some days she'll eat strawberries, other days she won't; some days there isn't enough watermelon to keep her happy, other days she won't touch a single piece.  It's kind of hit or miss.  They are also using plates, bowls, and spoons a bit more, and actually do pretty well with a bowl and spoon, though all of their utensils still end up on the floor in the end (much more fun that way).

Sleep.  Bedtime at 7 pm, sleep for about 11-12 hours.  Nap after lunch (around 11 am) for 1 (boo) to 2 1/2 (yay!) hours.  They continue to do very well with sleep.  We still rock them to sleep, and it usually takes less than five minutes or so: Caden will often be conked out within a minute or two of being walked around.  We're hoping to help them go to sleep on their own once Tyson's schedule settles down a little, but honestly rocking them isn't so bad since it goes so quickly.   Maybe half the time Caden has been waking up around 11-11:30 at night, crying inconsolably.  The only thing that helps is putting him in our bed, where he immediately calms down, rolls over approximately 348 times, and then falls asleep.  I carry him back up to his crib and then don't hear from him until morning. Not sure what that's about.  They are definitely set with one nap now, though they are usually more than ready for it by the time 11:00 rolls around.  On days that we have something in the morning (mom's group, class, church) they fall asleep in the car on the way home, and we're able to take them out of their car seats, carry them up to their cribs, and lay them down without waking them up (those days they eat a late lunch).

Play.  Still LOVE going places.  We HAVE to leave the house at least once a day, and frequently twice (before and after nap).  They love going to the library, for walks, to the park (swings are currently a favorite), and even running errands.  They get big smiles when getting their shoes on and going out the door.  They are very helpful too, handing me socks, shoes, and jackets once I say it's time for "bye-bye".

Caden bounces around from toy to toy to toy, never sitting still for very long.  He demands a little more attention and direction in his play, and if I sneak away to try to get something done he's usually the first to wander off to find me.  He's particularly attached to technology, and it's basically impossible to take out a computer or phone in front of him because of the resulting meltdown when it's taken away.  I don't mind so much if he plays on my phone, but then Brooklyn wants it, too (usually only because Caden has something that she doesn't), and there is only one iPhone to go around!  The fights aren't worth it so I try to keep technology out of sight-which is annoying when I want to pay bills/make grocery lists/Facebook etc. but probably keeps me less distracted in the end.

Brooklyn is more independent in her play, and will sit and play contentedly for long stretches of time...or at least she would, until she sees Caden wandering off and decides that looks like fun, too.  She loves looking out the window, and when asked, "Do you see any birds?", she immediately walks over to look and point at the tree out our window.  She loves to dance, and anytime you sing or any music comes on will start wiggling and smiling, getting her groove on.  She also likes to "lounge", and if there is a pillow or blanket around she will go over and cuddle against it, in full relaxation mode.

They both love to sit in laps, and will often bring a book over to have me or Tyson read, making sure they are appropriately situated in our laps, first.  It's super cute, though it works less well when they BOTH want to sit in my lap at the same time...Brooklyn in particular will try to shove Caden onto the floor.  Walking continues to go well, Brooklyn is almost a full-time walker, and Caden not far behind.  Caden is just more determined to keep moving, so when he falls he immediately begins crawling, full speed ahead, towards his destination, while Brooklyn is more apt to pull herself up again so she can continue walking.

(P.s. Brooklyn got two teeth this month, bringing her count up to eight.  Caden is holding steady at six.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Post Weekend


(Injuries: Caden tripping over my foot resulting in a goose egg on the forehead.)


(Injuries: Caden falling backwards off of this contraption onto the sand.)

Snack Time

(Injuries: none to report.)

Twin-y-Twins-on-the-Couch Time

(Injuries: Brooklyn falling off the couch and bonking her head.  Damaged pride and general embarrassment when they are about 15 and look back at this photo.)

Caden-Now-Loves-to-Lounge-on-the-Floor-Just-Outside-of-the-Kitchen Time

(Injuries: none, though I came close to tripping over him several times.)


(Injuries: slight burns to my hand from the oil splattering as the fish cooked.  Worth it.)

(Prosciutto-Wrapped Cod with Chorizo and Cannellini Beans.  One of the most delicious, quickest (30 minutes, tops), and easiest things I've made in awhile that looks and tastes like it took a lot longer than it actually did.  Note: I added a splash of white wine along with the broth as the beans cooked.  That was a wise decision.)