Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A post four months in the making

I started this post when the boys were approaching their 8-month birthdays...Le sigh. It's been in my draft folder since then, and I've added updates here and there as each subsequent month came and went. Maybe this will be the month I actually hit Publish?

C at 8 months...
- secret agent name: Chunk-a-Monk
- has the baby laugh I always dreamed of
- no teeth yet, but he's working on 'em (9-month update: Bottom two teeth are in!)
- His hair is out of control. We jokingly compare his appearance to Chris Farley's in his motivational speaker sketch. Well, not all that jokingly. (9-month update: I gave him his second haircut last weekend. It really needed to happen.)

G at 8 months...
- secret agent name: Bounce House
- has the softest eyes and the sweetest smile and the combo makes me melt every time
- two bottom teeth came in at 6.5 months, working on top 2 right now (9-month update: Still no sign of those top two... Hmmm...)
- G seems to have found his inner fighter in the past week or two. Up until now, he's been unwaveringly passive and patient, but all of the sudden, it's like he's decided it's time to stand up for himself and claim what is rightfully his. I'm pretty proud of him, actually, although this change has certainly added an element of difficulty to my days! As M says, keeping him alive has become a full-time job as he's constantly diving and twisting and throwing himself out of your arms and toward the least baby-friendly thing he can find.

Talking/Communication at 9 months:
Both boys are great talkers. At 8 months, I had written: "C seems to do more experimenting with different vowel and consonant sounds, while G plays around more with pitches and volume." This is still true, although the area of overlap is increasing as they both talk more and more. Cole says "mama" (or, more accurately: "mamamamamamamamama") to get our attention - aaaaaaah, so cute!! He's too young to understand he's saying a name, of course, but he's noticed it grabs our focus much more effectively than any other sound he's happened onto, so he uses it as a tool. Smart cookie. Both boys seem to know and respond to their own names.

Gross Motor Skills at 9 months:
Both boys are thiiiiiiis close to crawling on all fours. They are super-fast army crawlers and rollers and I think this is tempering their desire to get up on their hands and knees. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, you know? (10 month update: We have crawlers! G started first and Cole followed about a week later. G crawls like white lightening and C... doesn't. His crawl is sort of bouncy and jumbled-looking and completely adorable. Particularly because he often makes this little "Ah! Ah! Ah!" sound as he bounces along.)

Eating at 9 months:
C & G are both digging solid foods. C is definitely the pickier of the two, and he refuses to take the first bite of anything. He clamps his mouth shut until he has watched G take a bite and then, if all looks well, he will cautiously allow you to give him a taste. They both love fruit (duh) and C likes carrots more than G, but for all other foods, G seems to be the bigger fan. Which is weird, since he is a pound and a half lighter than his picky-eater brother! Foods they are enjoying (well, eating) at 9 months include: Avocado, Peas, Carrots, Broccoli, Green beans, Spinach, Sweet and White Potatoes, various Summer and Winter Squashes, beans, a variety of grains (rice, oats, spelt, barley, quinoa, amaranth), Apples, Pears, Peaches Plums, Mangoes, Blueberries, Banana, Apricots, Yogurt and the occasional nibbles of whatever we are eating (recent hit: banana bread... yum). (10 month update: C no longer refuses to take the first bite due, I believe, to a nasty bout of stomach flu that we all had, but G had the worst. His appetite is still down and he often refuses meals at all. So, C has had to step up to the plate, so to speak! I've lost track of all the foods they eat, but both are still pretty adventurous, G slightly more so than C. Or, he was before the puking took over.)

Sleeping at 9 months:
Months 7-9 were very, very bad for sleep in our house. I attribute it to a perfect storm of holiday chaos (guests/travel), learning to crawl, teething, and general developmental unrest (8 month/Wonder Week 26). Both babies were waking several times a night and M and I were walking around like zombies. I am knocking on every piece of wood in my house as I type this but just over a week ago, BOTH babies slept through the night (~8:30p to 5:30a) for the second time in their lives. And then they did it the next night. And the next. Out of the last 10 days, I think they've slept through 6 or 7 of them, and during the other 3 or 4, one baby woke briefly and was easily nursed back to sleep. It's been... Heavenly. I am keenly aware this may all change tomorrow, so I'm grateful for each hour of sleep as it comes! (10 month update: Alas, the great sleep was a flash in the pan. They are currently waking 1-2 times per night, but separately, which is nice because I can nurse them side-lying and drift back to sleep until the other baby cries and it's time to switch. Not as great of sleep as I'd like to be getting, but more than I get when I have to sit up and tandem nurse two crying babies at once.)

Miscellaneous at 9 months:
Both (still) love bathtime with the fire of a thousand suns and start vibrating the moment they hear the faucet turn on. Their hands-down favorite book is B is for Bear and in the last couple of weeks, C has taken to kissing all of the babies and kids in the book (something we never "taught" but E used to do the same thing - genes are weird) and G smoothly and deliberately turns the pages. We took them on their second long plane trip and our first hotel vacation as a family of 5. There were many unexpected challenges (a story for another time) but we made the best of it. They are both still in their infant carseats although the distance I can carry them both together is sharply decreasing. They are in mostly 12-18 month clothes, +/- a size depending on brand. They are still in their medium BG AIOs and size 3 disposables, when they wear them.

11 month update:
Parenting twins in general, and mobile twins in particular, is - for me - a study in chronic exhaustion. It's not that there aren't enough hours in the day, it's that there aren't enough minutes in the hour. Everything has to happen NOW. Babies are awake. Babies are tired. Babies need feeding. Babies need diaper changes. Someone needs retrieving from E's room and someone else is about to crawl up the stairs. At the end of the day, I crash in a heap. This does not leave much time for blogging or, you know, anything, but one of the things I treasure most about my experience parenting a second (and third) child is an appreciation of how quickly all of this will be behind us. It makes the good stuff better because I don't take any of it for granted, and it makes the bad stuff more tolerable because I know it'll be over soon enough. Perspective is a beautiful thing.

All in all, I am really loving this age. C and G are just these wonderfully squishy bundles of smiles and cuteness. They are eagerly drinking in everything around them and learning new tricks by the hour. Their attention spans are lengthening, as is their ability to communicate with us and with E. They have started genuinely, autonomously playing with him lately (especially C) which is heart-achingly cute.

G is still battling some GI issues, maybe from the stomach flu or maybe something I'm eating or maybe something else entirely (his cranio-sacral chiro says he has a hiatal hernia) but the end result is a baby with a poor appetite and lots and lots of vomit. He has a serious stomach emptying at least once a week, usually during his first feeding of the day (so, 3-4am ish) which means the collateral damage is almost always my pajamas, my hair, and our bed. He's fussy and irritable and often wakes grimacing and crying. It's so sad. We're continuing to see the chiro, I've taken stool samples in to his pediatrician, he's on probiotics and as of about a week ago, Zantac (yuck) and I've been trying to isolate any dietary changes for either of us. He seems to be doing a little better since the addition of the Zantac (knock on wood) but I hate giving it to him, so I'll keep experimenting in hopes of finding a more natural way to soothe his little system.

G is extremely physical. He is constantly crawling, pulling up, cruising, and his latest trick... climbing. If something will sit still long enough, he'll find a way on top of it. They are both very musical... Maybe C a little more so than G. When they started showing an extra interest in the bells we use at their weekly mommy-and-me class, I went online and bought rhythm sticks, bells, and other assorted instruments to encourage their emerging interest. C especially uses them all so intuitively, and sitting around making music and dancing has become a new favorite activity.

They are getting so very BIG! It's been a couple of weeks since I weighed them but on 4/18, G was 18lbs, 8oz and C was 20lbs, 1oz. They are in firmly into 12-18 month clothes, save the odd smaller or larger outfit. They are just barely squeezing into their medium BGs and their OSs are on the largest setting. We've just moved to size 4s for the times they wear disposables.

And tonight, as we close in on one year (gasp!)... Things are good. We just got back from a week-long vacation including long-distance, non-direct air travel and terribly un-baby-friendly accommodations. M was with us for the first half and then I and all three kids stayed on with my parents for a few more days. The end result was a complete and total upending of our routine and we're all still recovering a bit. Both boys were just starting to get sick before we left so, of course, I ended up in a foreign pediatrician's office getting a nebulizer treatment for C, and antibiotics for infections in both boys (C - respiratory and sinus, G - both ears). G's vomiting has improved tons in the past month so perhaps the ped's theory (injured esophagus from stomach flu that needed a month of Zantac to heal) was correct and we'll be able to wean him off the Zantac after their one-year check up next week.

Both boys seem to have stopped gaining weight despite being good eaters (current favorite foods: yogurt, strawberries and BANANAS) and I'm hoping that's just because they are on the move All. The. Time. They also insist on feeding themselves more and more these days which means more finger foods and fewer purees. I wouldn't be surprised if this change has decreased the total number of calories they take in each day. I don't worry about C so much, but G is just so itty bitty... They are a full two pounds apart now. We'll see what the doctor says next week. We are still going strong with breastfeeding and not a day goes by that I don't feel proud of how hard we fought to get here and grateful that the fighting actually worked. My prediction is that C will wean first, although I have no idea when as he shows no signs of moving in that direction yet. I'm just putting it in writing now so that when something completely different happens, I can laugh at my own naivete. Nursing C rarely feels like more than a vehicle for food delivery whereas with G, it feels like I am feeding his soul. Everything about him changes after a nursing session, from the color of his cheeks to the spring in his figurative step. I can't imagine the day he won't want to do it any more and it breaks my heart to think I may be the one to draw the line someday. But,  I could be completely wrong. We'll see how it actually plays out.

Just before our trip, M did a week of solo bedtimes (as a matter of fact, she IS a rock star) and it was... rough. The babies did not go down easily for her at all and the experience revealed a major Achilles Heel - these babies do not like to go to sleep without being nursed. At all. M was able to battle through and got them to sleep on her own 6 out of the 7 nights, but it made us realize just how far away we are from leaving the babies with a sitter (or three) and having an evening out. *sigh* Oh well... Someday... Right???

C&G got their first salon haircuts yesterday and they look like such little boys now! We also did a photo shoot yesterday which was basically just an hour and a half of me wrestling, bouncing, repositioning, tackling, and cajoling two very disinterested almost-toddlers. I was dripping with sweat ten minutes in. Hopefully she got a decent shot or two. If there are a dozen keepers I will die of shock. Both boys can stand independently for several seconds at a time, although they drop the floor as soon as they realize they are standing on their own. Wimps. No first steps yet, but I don't think they're far off, and I am oh so ready for them to be walking! They are both experimenting with dedicated sounds and syllables for words, although it's hard to sort out exactly what each is saying for what object/person/pet. They do the hand motions for many of the songs we sing, especially C (Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, Doggy in the Window, Skid-a-ma-Rink) and point to different parts of my face and occasionally their own, especially G. The one area I would really love to see improvement in is sleep (Zzzzzzzz), but I'm not ready to do any night weaning or sleep training to accomplish that so, for now, we muddle through and cherish the slightly better nights when we are graced with them.

Oh, and E is all kinds of wonderful, too. He has his moments of... ahem, difficulty... but even in the tough times, he still seems like Prince Charming compared to how he was 6 months ago. I love age 4 a hundred million times more than age 3. He is so smart and funny and thoughtful and sweet. He says at least 25 hilarious things each day. I am constantly willing myself to remember every tiny detail, all the while knowing they are slipping through my sleep-deprived brain like water through a sieve. These are truly magical days we're living in. I can't imagine being more enamored by him, although I'm sure I will be. Maybe when he stops talking back so darn much. ;-)

This post is a jumbled mess but, you know what? I'm posting it as-is because if I wait until I have time to cobble it into something more reasonable, the twins will be in kindergarten. Not a joke, I fear!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

a promise to remember

I posted this last night upon hearing of Caemon's passing. The news knocked the wind out of me, leaving me stunned and disoriented, so I came here. I needed to be "with" other people who were hurting too, and it is this same need that brings me back tonight, because Jodi and Timaree are hurting, as they will be for some time, and I want to be here, if and when they come looking for more hands to hold.

Caemon could have been any of our children. He was our child. All of us who have been a part of this community for years have literally dreamed of, conceived, and raised our children together.  I "met" Timaree and Jodi long before any of our sons were born, and we willed them into this world together. My life has not gone on as normal since I got the news. I have been sad, edgy, and distracted. Last night, I got a nasty burn on my arm when I leaned against a hot baking sheet I'd just taken out of the oven. It still stings and reminds me I'm not all here. I know I was supposed to hug my own children closer last night, but I found myself holding E at arm's length instead. Every time I looked at him I felt a swell of sadness and vulnerability that threatened to carry me away. I went to sleep thinking of Caemon, I woke up thinking of Caemon, and after the few and far-between moments that my attention drifted to something else today, the snap back a moment later was like a fresh punch to the gut. He is gone. There is nothing you can do to change it. Opening myself up to the grief feels like looking directly at the sun. I can only do it for a moment before I have to shut my eyes and turn my head away. And yet, once my eyes have stopped burning and the white spots have disappeared, I look back at it again. I know that whatever I am feeling now is but a shadow of what Jodi and Timaree are going through, and it feels like the least I can do to bear witness to that somehow. I do not know how they are finding the strength to open their eyes and take a breath each morning.

Here's what I do know: I know that they showed an awe-inspiring amount of grace and strength of character throughout Caemon's hard-fought battle. I know that they bathed their son in more positive, healing energy than I could have generated on my best day, and they did it day in and day out, in the face of the most terrifying of circumstances. I know that they helped Caemon to live his too-short life to the fullest, and that they squeezed as much love into each minute they had with him as anyone could have. I know that Caemon knew all of this too. I know that if anyone can get through this, it's them. And I know that I am only one of hundreds upon hundreds of people who are offering a shoulder as they take their first steps down a path no parent should ever have to walk.

I will never forget Caemon - his piercing blue eyes, his cheeky grin, his old soul - he was so clearly a boy who could light up any room. I watched him grow first in his mothers' hearts, then alongside his stuffed crocodile, and then in the leaps and bounds of toddlerhood and beyond.  I read along as Timaree narrated his burgeoning love affair with appliances, but it wasn't until she shared the picture of him snuggling the hair clippers that I truly understood it's depth. I think I actually laughed out loud. Through stories and pictures, Caemon was able to touch people all over the world. I consider myself lucky to be one of them.

I know I haven't been the most active blogger lately, but my new year's resolution to post more will have to wait as I observe a week of blog silence in honor of Caemon and his moms.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


We lost one of our own today. I am shaken to my core. Standing with Jodi and Timaree tonight, and with all of you. I am so very sad. I can't even begin to imagine the pain his family is experiencing.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy New Year... Take Two

If you saw the post I published last night, you did not imagine it. It has been taken down and replaced with this one. Blogging is a funny thing: Part journal, part megaphone. I wrote that post in a very stream-of-consciousness way, to remind myself of certain changes I want to make this year and why, and to hold myself accountable for them (all journal) but when I read it back this morning and thought about how it would read to an audience (all megaphone), it came off as obnoxious and preachy, which was totally not my intent. So anyway, here's the new and hopefully more balanced version. :-)


We declared February 1st to be the start of the new year in our house. When the *actual* new year rolled around, our family was too deep in RSV Hell to notice. And seeing as I actually wanted to implement some resolutions this year (for the first time in many, many years), being completely underwater as January 1st came (and went) was kind of a bummer. No sooner did we get everyone healthy than we went on a week-long vacation to Las Vegas (a story for another post). So, we pushed it back a month, but I'm here now and ready to jump in!

I. Ditch the last of the baby weight: I gained about 75 pounds during my pregnancy with the twins and lost all but the last 20 with minimal effort, but now it is time to step up my game. I'm starting by making healthier food choices and finding making time to work out, but will step up my game as needed until the pounds start coming off. I'm ready to get out of my "fat clothes" and, oh yes, let's not forget the motivating factor of the lace bridesmaid dress I need to wear in my brother's wedding this fall. :-)

II. Battle my smartphone addiction: This one has been a long time coming, but I finally had the time and the motivation to sit down and lay out some ways I can reduce my use. (For each of these points, I'm using the term "smartphone" to refer to all of the extras - internet, facebook, apps, etc. Basically everything except phone calls and texting.)
  1. No smartphone use in the car except to play music or get directions.
  2. No smartphone use while a potential conversation partner is in the room, except to quickly look up needed information.
  3. Minimal smartphone use while home alone with the babies. Primarily only when nursing or in need of quick information.
  4. Smartphone goes on the kitchen table when everyone gets home for the evening and doesn't move from there until I go to our bedroom to nurse the babies to sleep.
  5. There are standing exceptions for camera use and for "checking in" on Facebook. That second one is a little silly, I know, but I really like having that record of fun things we do and places we go, so I'm allowing it, but I'll have to be disciplined not to let it open the door for "just 5 minutes" of catching up on my newsfeed when there are other things I should be doing instead, like enjoying the fun place I thought worthy of checking into. :-)
I have no idea how this will actually work and I'm not opposed to revising these guidelines, but you gotta start somewhere, right?

III. Complete a weekly photo project featuring pictures of anything BUT kids and babies. As much as I adore being a SAHM, I'm very aware of how much more narrowly-focused my world has become over the past 6 months. I came up with a list of weekly prompts and I'm really looking forward to seeing how this shifts the way I look at the world around me. If anyone is interested in more details or wants to play along, let me know and I'm happy to share my list!

IV. Blog more. Comment more. Make the time.

And now, let the games begin!