Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eating and sleeping and pooping, oh my!

I'm a schedule person, a teacher with carefully thoughtout lesson plans and back-up plans for when there's extra time or if an activity bombs (and a pretty good sense of when one of those is likely).  I go on vacations having done my research, prepared with efficient but flexible daily itineraries full of well-reviewed restaurants and off-the-beaten-path sights. When Mike and I announced that both Sophie and Michael were on their way, friends and family commented that my love for organization and routine were going to serve us well.

With singletons, parents are encouraged to follow the baby's lead, feed on demand, and never wake the baby from sleep.  For twins, even their pediatrician will encourage you to feed them both when one is hungry, even if that means waking the other.  Otherwise you never get a break and will certainly end up desperately sleep-deprived, divorced, and a tad cuckoo.  Within Sophie and Michael's first days in the hospital, a loose schedule of diaper changes, feeding, and napping developed and repeated every two hours. 

The babies were home for only a week or so when I started wondering if our two-hour cycle needed some enhancing to serve Sophie and Michael better.  Since they were becoming alert, I wondered if I should I try to stimulate them more with singing and chatting instead of aiming for so much sleep.  Were there any habits I should avoid to get us on our way to sleeping through the night (STTN)? 

During Sophie and Michael's naps I found myself on the multiples message board that helped me through my pregnancy.  My immediate concerns and focus had changed from tips for prolonging the pregnancy and relieving discomfort to MoMs discussing daily routines and sleep training.  Many emphasized that crying it out (CIO) isn't the only option out there. (I was surprised to learn that "Ferberizing" is a real thing, thinking it was just something the writers of Modern Family made up.) MoMs often recommended the following books:

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer
Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child
On Becoming Baby Wise

I borrowed these books from the library and found that they shared similar philosophies and encouraged getting started from day one.  I took away the following principles:

1) Babies need lots of sleep for brain development.

2) Sophie and Michael will sleep better at night if they nap regularly during the day.

3) A routine of eating, playing, and napping will help us on our way to STTN.

4) I should watch for subtle signs that Michael and Sophie are getting sleepy while they play.

5) Being awake for more than one or two hours can make them overtired and too upset to nap well.

I took these ideas and structured each day around them, enjoying the somewhat predictable waves of wakeful play and naptime.  Once they started eating every three hours, Sophie and Michael would eat (20 mins), I'd change them (5-10 minutes), and then we'd play until one of them started showing drowsy signs (20-30 minutes).  I'd put them down for naps, and we'd play some more if they woke before the next feeding time.  At that point the cycle started over.

We're currently in a stage of transitioning from feeding every three hours to every four (currently at 3.5) and napping in cribs.  This is to help get them to drop the one feeding left at night, to nap three times a day, and prepare them for napping in cribs at the child care center next month.  Since they're rolling from tummy to back now and are approaching four months old, we're going to have to work on sleeping without Swaddle Me's or Miracle Blankets soon too.  I'll likely detail those changes in upcoming posts!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I tell people when there's spinach between their teeth.

I've decided to let the English teacher loose.  I'm going give anyone who cares to read it a little weekly grammar lesson on a common mistake.  While we all pretend we don't care about errors on FB, in texts or casual emails, you know you feel at least a teensy bit superior to someone when you discover a recurring mistake in their correspondence.  We all make goofs, this English teacher included, and I'm not here to judge.  I just suspect people are less likely to correct your ongoing mix up "your" and "you're" than they are to tell you when there's spinach in your teeth. 

So let's start with that one.

your = it shows possession

Example: Your belly is huge!

35.5 Weeks (two weeks before delivery)

you're = contraction of "you are"

example: You're going to have some cute babies!

Sophie and Michael - 3 weeks old

To check your usage, just try replacing the word with "you are" to see which one fits.

You are belly is huge!

See, it doesn't work, so you have to use "your."

The opposite is the mistake I see most often, using "your" all the time.  If you can replace the word with "you are" then "your" is incorrect.  Watch out for that one!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

She did it!

I finally got to see both babies roll yesterday.  After Michael showed me his new skill in the morning, Sophie did it for the first time that evening.  Mike was making dinner but came out to catch the very last moment of her first roll. 

I also took the babies for a walk around the neighborhood yesterday, the first time without Mike.  I was feeling a little cooped up and also wanted to get a light work-out in, so we braved the heat for about 45 minutes, chatted with a neighbor, and returned home to find these in the mailbox.  They're a little big for Sophie, and the seller offered to make them smaller for her tiny feet, but they're too cute for just one occasion (baptism).  A little room to grow is a good thing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

He did it!

Weirdest thing.  When Mike and I were discussing this week, what meals we'd have on which nights and so on, I told him I had a dentist appointment scheduled for Tuesday.  Turns out, so did he, one hour before mine. 

This actually worked out really well.  Mike went to the dentist right after work, and I brought the babies with me about 30 minutes later.  We knew the whole office would be excited to see the babies, especially the receptionist.  When Mike's appointment was over, he and I traded car keys, he took the babies home, and I got my teeth cleaned.  We couldn't have NOT planned this any better and purposely scheduled our appointments for January the same way.

I called Mike on my way out about what carry-out to bring home, and he told me that while he was playing with the babies, Michael got tired of tummy time.  I knew what he was saying: Michael rolled over for him.  I was happy Mike got to see it before me since he feels like he misses a lot while he's at work.  Still, with all the time I spend caring for the babies, it felt a little unfair not to get that payoff.  First Michael rolls over when I step out of the room, then he does it while I'm at the dentist. What's the deal?

As if he knew how much I wanted to see it myself, Michael rolled over for me this morning...twice!  Mike said his movement was very controlled yesterday, but it appeared almost accidental this morning.  He looked a little disoriented and started crying like, "Why the heck am I on my back now?  Who did this?"

Sophie looked like a little pro at holding her head up this morning and is starting to shift her weight a bit...shouldn't be too long for her now too!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rollin', rollin', rollin' that baby (almost) rollin'...

On Friday I brought Michael out from the nursery and set him tummy-down on a blanket in the living room.  I went back to the nursery for Sophie, returned, and found Michael smiling up at me...on his back.  This all transpired literally within thirty seconds.  I called Mike to tell him about Michael rolling over and not to feel bad for missing the milestone.  So did I!

Michael hasn't rolled again (and Sophie is still mastering holding her head up), but this is video I filmed right after his magic act.  You can see it's likely to happen again soon.

Wanna hear something cute?

Yesterday Mike was sitting on the loveseat holding Michael, patting his back, getting him to take a nap.  They both fell asleep.  When Mike let out the inevitable snore, Michael giggled in his sleep so heartily that it woke Mike up.  It was one of those moments I wish I just happened to be filming.  You'll just have to trust me that it was freakin' adorable.

Michael has giggled a couple of times consciously, but the ones in his sleep will just melt your heart.  He's such a happy little guy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Yes, but how's the cat?

While I was pregnant, Oberon would jump from a window sill or emerge from under the bed and come to me. He'd find me on the couch, always on the couch, rubbing the right side of my belly where I'd just felt movement. He never seemed to realize that phrases like "Is that my baby boy?" said in a sing-song voice were no longer reserved just for summoning him. He'd still navigate me, ending up scrunched along my neck and arm or down at my knees, in the shadow of the mountain that grew where he used to rest.

Oberon has been an "only child" for these five years since we rescued him from the Huron Valley Humane Society. He wasn't a kitten when he lured our hearts from his cage, one skinny paw reaching out between the bars. He was small though, still a youngster, and his name was Bob (he shares his permanent name with the "King of Faeries" in A Midsummer Night's Dream and with Mike's favorite beer).  Little Bob didn't meow frantically like the other cats, and he nuzzled into our necks when we held him, letting us know he chose us too.

The first night with us Oberon lived in our office, but the next morning I let him roam the rest of the place to slowly transition him from cage to two-bedroom apartment. I sat on the floor of the living room and pulled a fuzzy fish on a string around my lap, and Oberon chased it, eventually running over my crossed legs, his first voluntary contact with me. Later on I lounged on the couch and he fell asleep, stretching out Superman-style in the crease between my belly and the back of the sofa. He became my little buddy that morning.

When I returned to teaching a few weeks later, Oberon would come out from wherever he had been napping, still a little guy trotting down the hall with sleepy eyes, and would meet me at the door as I returned home. He still does that today, but it's more of a mosey than a trot.

Oberon had mites in his ears and a respiratory infection when we adopted him, so everyday for the first week or so, Mike would hold his tiny jaw open while I would squirt medicine in with a syringe. We put cottonballs of medicine in his ears and massaged them, releasing a golfball-sized nest left by the bugs from each ear, pulled out with tweezers at his first vet appointment. For a long time he would push his ears into our fingers when we would pet him, and we got the feeling he was thanking us for getting rid of those pests.

In those early days, Mike and I became kitty parents. Hopefully our obvious failure in training the cat to stay off the kitchen table and counters is not an indication of how things will go with our kids. I expect it will serve a lesson to us about being consistent.

When Mike and I came home with Sophie and Michael, Oberon kept his distance, the noises and movements of the babies startling him to retreat whenever he tried to get a closer look.

We opted not to put the used co-sleeper we bought from a fellow MoM to use in our bedroom, due to lack of space and thinking Oberon might try to climb in with the babies while we slept. He's a cuddler. Instead the babies have slept in their cribs since that first night, their nursery door closed, and with Angelcare Monitors helping us sleep for those rare moments when the babies let us. Oberon sleeps between my knees once again, as he always had until the third trimester when my restless sleeping and hourly trips to the bathroom became too much of an annoyance (tell me about it, buddy). When the babies cry, he  follows and watches from the doorway of the nursery, returning to bed with us when Sophie and Michael sleep again.
He never napped in the co-sleeper we instead used as bassinette in the living room, set temptingly in front of the picture window. Instead of making himself at home there like he does when the Christmas tree is placed in that location, he would sit on the coffee table or peek in for a moment from behind the curtains, watchful and curious. 

He has never batted at a baby toy, despite how similar they are to his own soft, jingly pals. He did recently make himself at home on the Boppys in their playroom, and I've found him sleeping in Michael's empty crib a couple of times during the day. I scooped him out of the crib with a firm "No!", removed his cat hair with a lint roller, and closed the nursery door, quietly relieved that he's becoming that comfortable with the babies.

The only direct contact he's made with Sophie and Michael is tentatively sniffing their heads while we hold them. Perhaps to him they smell like their first hats that my mom took home to him from the hospital the day they were born, a tip I read about for helping pets adjust to the newcomers. Mom said he sniffed those with interest but otherwise left them alone, the same way he treats the real deal.

Oberon seems to get that Sophie and Michael are our "kittens," and that their safety and care is the top priority around here these days. Hopefully he continues to respect that, and is willing to be left pretty much on his own...until four little hands get curious about him.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happiness and Parenting

I read an interesting article today.

I think happiness is, for the most part, a choice.

Should I have focused on my big belly and swollen feet or the healthy babies I was carrying?

Am I going to focus on my neglected nails, dusty floors, and lack of sleep, or the fact that my energy has been put toward more important tasks like feeding, burping, diapering, and feeding, burping, and diapering?

Am I going to keep blogging or go pick up that fussing cutie...happily.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

3 Months Old!

I never bought those Picky Sticky things. After missing the 0, 1, and 2 month opportunities, I gave up on the idea of ordering them...but then today I changed my mind and made my own. Why not, right?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Those Notorious First Few Weeks

For probably the third time that night, I heard one of the babies crying through the monitor on my bedside table. This was sometime within those notorious first few weeks with the babies. Mike and I had developed our nighttime feeding system that continues to this day in which he gets up to change diapers, and I go out to the couch and get set up for a feeding. He brings the babies out to me one by one and goes back to bed. I feed, burp, and put the babies back to bed.

The baby started crying a little louder, but Mike was still deep in sleep, exhausted from night after night of this routine on top of returning to work. I touched his shoulder, "Mike. It's time. They're ready for a feeding."

He said, "Ok," and was up quickly, his eyes barely open. Instead of heading out of our room, he stumbled to my side of the bed, lifted the covers, and started feeling around on the mattress beside me. Hearing the baby through the monitor, I realized he was looking for the baby in the bed. And we never have the babies in the bed. "Mike, they're in their cribs."

A few nights later when a baby cried, he picked up the alarm clock on his nightstand and started pushing buttons, moving switches, until I realized he was trying to turn off the noise that woke him, trying to stop the crying by hitting "snooze." He was becoming delirious.

But I understood. On one of the first mornings home, after I stayed up all night with the babies (before we came up with a better system), Mike took over caring for them so I could sleep. When he came in to get me for a feeding, he had one baby in his arms. I looked out to the living room, and in my bleary-eyed state I exclaimed, "Who's on the coffee table?!" I thought I saw the other baby left there precariously. But there was no baby there. The other baby was safe in a bassinette. And as far as Mike could tell, I was losing my mind.

Those notorious first few weeks. I understand they can be challenging with just one baby, but this is a time when I feel twins must truly be twice as hard. Think of the schedule. Newborn babies eat every two hours, and that's from the start of one feeding to the start of the next. If you're lucky like I was and can tandem breastfeed (eliminating the time it takes to make bottles AND to feed one at a time), the changing/feeding/burping/soothing to sleep routine takes about an hour. Assuming the babies sleep until the next feeding, that leaves you with one hour out of every two for "yourself."

But that assumption we made is a big one. It's more likely that in the middle of the night you return to bed after completing the routine, and ten minutes later you are awoken when one baby's pacifier has fallen out of his mouth. You go in and replace it, but he won't take it. His face scrunched and his cry pained, you know it's gas again. You pick him up, sit in the rocker with him on your tummy and you pat his lower back steadily, the way you know he likes, enjoying the moment yourself. He's asleep within fifteen minutes.

But as you settle him in the crib, you notice two bright eyes looking up at you from the other one, and she's groaning and fighting her swaddled blanket, trying to Houdini her way out. So you undo her swaddle, reposition her, and wrap her up tightly like a precious burrito, pop in the pacifier which she takes happily, and "shhhh" her to sleep. This takes another ten minutes so you now have (60-10-15-10) twenty-five minutes until diapers and the next feeding and it starts over again. To keep your sanity you tell yourself that this time around they'll sleep better (but they won't). And this goes and night...for least.

Here's my advice for surviving those nights:

1. Feed both babies at the same time no matter what. Demand feeding doesn't work with multiples, and their pediatrician will agree. Keep them on the same schedule for feeding, changing, and sleeping (and eventually playing) as much as you can even when that means waking a sleeping baby. She'll wake up ten minutes later anyway, I promise.

2. If the babies are breastfed, divide the nighttime duties as I described above. He changes, she feeds. Even after daddy goes back to work, stick with it. The more sleep mommy gets, the better caregiver your babies have during the day during maternity leave, and that's just as important as anyone's job performance. Mike has gotten really good at changing two babies' diapers fast by the light of a glowing mobile (I think six minutes was his record). If you're bottle feeding, find some other way to divide duties fairly.

3. In addition to dividing the duties, divide the night in half. Back when the babies were waking up a lot between feedings, Mike got up to soothe them if it happened before 2 a.m. If they woke after 2 a.m., I did it. That allowed us both to count on at least a few decent chunks of sleep each night. That is unless both babies were crying at the same time...then we both got up. Good times.

4. SWADDLE. You can keep them swaddled for the first week or so when they sleep all the time, and then just do it for bedtime (and naps if you like). We took a break from swaddling at around the 3 week mark because the babies were fighting them, crying, and not sleeping well. We gave them a shot again a couple weeks later, and the babies slept for five hours, a record at that point. There are flannel swaddle blankets, muslin blankets, Swaddle Me's, Miracle Blankets, and so on. Try as many as you must to find the kind that works. Watching "The Happiest Baby On the Block" will help too. I recommend you do that before the babies arrive or within the first week.

5. Keep a positive attitude as much as you can, and know that it will get better (as annoying as it will be to hear that when you're in the midst of it). We're down to one feeding at night, and they hardly ever wake aside from that.

Even as we were going through those notorious first few weeks, I could feel the romance of it. I was delirius from sleep deprivation, but I was also deliriously happy. I would look at my babies and truly feel filled with twice the love (a statement so sappy I cringed at it before they were born). I was sad when Mike returned to work after the first week, not only because I appreciated his help during the day, but because we bonded even more as genuine partners in this new adventure, and I was going to miss him. Even with multiples, perhaps especially with multiples, it's a remarkably special (and notorius) time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Heads Up!

Look who's holding their heads up!  Sophie and Michael did this at their two-month well visit and impressed their pediatrician (this is a milestone typically reached around four-months-old).  However, they haven't done it much at home, and definitely not for several minutes at time like they did this afternoon.  Such strong babies!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shakin' Booties

To be sure they're both near and safe, I usually put both babies in one of their cribs while I do diaper changes. Afterwards, we usually do some booty-shakin' while I sing an embarrassing medley of "Shake Your Booty" and "Dancing Machine." The babies have been near giggles lately when we do this, so after tummy time this morning, I set the camera up on the tripod, queued up a Youtube video on my laptop of KC and the Sunshine Band, and let the camera roll.

When I played back the video I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the babies were sort of dancing to the music on their own, so I filmed a little of that as well. If you listen closely at the very end, you'll hear some sound effects that Michael added. I wish it hadn't inspired me to stop rolling, because he continued on quite impressively for another 15 or 20 seconds. It wasn't me, I swear. :)

The video quality is disappointing.  I'll try Youtube in the future.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Four years ago today...

...Mike and I got married.  Happy anniversary!

Oh, you two, just wait.  It's going to get soooooo interesting. : )

For more pics, click here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Birth Story - Conclusion

Although I had attempted to prepare myself by speaking to my doctors about c-sections and reading the appropriate chapters in my pregnancy books, as I left Mike and my mom back in my hospital room to be prepped in the OR, I felt very alone.  And shakey. Terrified, really.

Even if I had delivered the babies vaginally, it would have taken place in an OR.  I knew that with the high-risk nature of multiple births, most hospitals don't take chances on delivery rooms, knowing that half-way through a vaginal delivery, a c-section could be called for the second baby. 

Like the surgery itself, I tried to prepare myself  for the OR by imagining my babies' birth, both a vaginal and cesarian version, occuring in one.  Except, I'd never been in one.  Our tour of Labor and Delivery had ended outside of the last set of doors through which my bed had just been wheeled.  This room was much larger, brighter, and filled with more shining metal equipment than in my imaginary OR (mine looked more like the intimate, shadowy rooms where McDreamy saves lives).  It surprised me how much this foreign room affected me, how rapidly my heart was pumping, how hard it was to make it knock that off.

The remarkable thing about feeling as alone as I did is how alone I was not.  As my doctor had warned me there would be, there was an army of medical professionals in the OR.  If I remember accurately, there was a team of nurses for baby A (Michael), one for baby B (Sophie), two anesthesiologists, a pediatrician, two doctors to perform the surgery, and nurses to assist.  My doctor's warning had prepared me well for that aspect of the room, and I was glad to have so many experts around to bring these babies safely into the world.  And to sew me back up again.

There were two sources of growing comfort that helped me to keep my composure.  One was my nurse, Gail, who coincidentally had given us the hospital tour and whom I met again in my hospital room.   The other was one of the anesthesiologists, whose name I no longer remember, who greeted me in my room as well and stayed beside me until the surgery was complete.  Since she was standing above my right shoulder throughout our interactions, I don't recall her face either, just her caring tone.

As I was lifted onto the operating table, Gail commented on my painted toenails.  "Now, did you manage to paint those yourself, or do you have one of those kind husbands who will do that for you?"  I painted them myself, I told her.  The week before, I had been to the doctor for pain in my side that could have been kidney stones.  Miraculously, the pain went away on its own, and I celebrated my ability to bend at the hips again (at least to some degree) by painting my toenails. 

The anesthesiologist spoke to me as another one administered the spinal, walking me through the sensations conversationally.  "You'll feel a pinch in your back."  I did.  "And now your lower half should start to feel warm.  Do you feel the warmth?"  I did, and then I was numb from my midsection to my toes.

They strapped my arms out beside me and hung a blue curtain at my chest, all very Cuckoo's Nest, clearly to prevent me from freaking out at the sight or reaching out toward the surgery in a panic.

"Dad's here," the caring voice said, and Mike was on my left in blue scrubs, complete with a mask, cap, and shoe covers.

"That felt like forever," he said.  Time had been moving quickly for me, but I nodded. "How ya doin?" he asked.

"Ok."  He took my hand. "I'm numb." 

"As the surgery begins," the anesthesiologist said,  "don't be alarmed if you feel some pulling and pressure.  You shouldn't feel any pain, though." 

Dr. Hakim arrived and greeted me, introduced the other doctor.

I could feel a cold liquid on my belly, and some tugging. 

I started shivering.  "I'm really cold."  The anesthesiologist brought me warmed blankets and placed them over my outstretched arms.

Throughout the surgery I continued to feel the pulling and pressure and answered, "I'm ok," everytime someone checked on me.  With the surgery underway, Mike was offered the chance to look over the curtain and watch.  I didn't think he'd want to look, but he did.

"Do you have a camera, Dad?  It's almost time."  Mike gave the camera to the anesthesiologist who took over as photographer.

And then, "Here's baby A, a boy," and they held him above the curtain for me to see. 

"He's so big!" I said.  Michael was 6 lbs. 6 oz. and looked like a regular newborn baby, not one of the fragile little things I imagined.  They took him to be cleaned, and he cried.  And I cried, grinning large with tears streaming back toward my ears.  I could see Mike's smile even behind his mask.

"And baby B, the girl," and they held Sophie up.  Someone said she came in kicking and biting.

"She's so pretty!" I said.  She was 6 lbs. 1 oz. and I was truly stunned by how pretty her face was, a porcelain doll.  And she screamed while they cleaned her.  And I cried some more, filled with true joy.

The pediatrician left early, both babies' vitals and Apgar scores good.  The anesthesiologist said his leaving was a really good sign.

Mike held the babies for me to see and touch, and then he accompanied them back to the hospital room where we would stay for the next three days. 

For the next half-hour or so, they completed the surgery and closed me up.  At one point I became very nauseated and told the anesthesiologist.  She said at this stage in the surgery, during the repair of the layer they were working on, that usually happens.  In a few moments that passed as she had predicted.

My emotions leaving the OR were 180 degrees from what they were when I entered.  I felt trust and gratitude toward all the people in that room, for the success they achieved.  Joy and relief were replacing the apprehension and fear I had felt not only that morning, but for the previous 20 weeks since I had found out I was carrying twins.  I was eager to hold my babies and see Mike again, to be with the family that was born that morning.

Go to Part 1
Go to Part 2
Go to Recovery

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Playroom

Our house and its rooms are all pretty small, so to avoid having swings, bouncy seats, and miscellaneous toys scattered at all times, we chose to devote the third room of our three-bedroom ranch to those sorts of items.  We call it the playroom, and some playing does take place there, but mostly it's a large and conveniently located storage room.

But I had to try to make it cute.

For this wall art I bought square frames and letters and painted them along with some craft paper for the background. I drew the mural details with pencil then painted them in and outlined with a large brown colored pencil.

This DIY wall art was inspired by this page in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog (and typing "Pottery Barn" for at least the third time in this blog, I'm feeling a bit obsessed...and unoriginal).  On that note, the rug and green bins are from there as well.

The tree is a vinyl decal.

Finished Nursery!

I finally finished decorating our boy/girl twin nursery!  Yes, the babies will be 12 weeks old tomorrow, but since there was some DIY involved, I don't think that's tooooo too bad.

The walls were already this color, the light taupe we painted this and our master bedroom when we moved in.  The white Roman shades were up already as well from when this room was an office and the playroom was a guest room.  I like how they let in great filtered light during the day while giving privacy, and we put up dark brown felt at night when it's still light out at bedtime (white stick-on velcro squares disappear in the corners of the moulding).

We didn't bother with expensive crib bedding sets since quilts and bumpers are SIDS risks. The sheets are from Clouds and Stars and the crib skirts are from Pottery Barn. That's really all you need in a crib.  The rug was originally from Pottery Barn Kids, but I bought it on Ebay.


The Bebe Italia cribs are from Babies R Us (10% discount when you buy two of the same big ticket item).  Both sets of parents bought them for us, and Mike likes to joke that he mixed up all the parts while assembling the cribs so neither baby can feel favored by one set of grandparents.  

After a lot of research, we found the dressers on the Land of Nod website.  The lower one is the perfect changing table height (36") and the taller one was just the right width for the remaining wall.  With a tiny room like this, careful planning is required!  The rocker, a compromise between a wooden glider (not a fan) and an upholstered rocker and ottoman (too big), is from Off Your Rocker.

The paintings above hang over Michael's crib, and the ones below hang over Sophie's.  I painted them myself based on these.  They are acryllic paint on canvas from Michael's craft store with scrapbook paper applied with Mod Podge.

Etsy seller Willow Creek Signs made this custom vinyl decal for us.  The quote is one that rings true for me as I share the joy of parenthood with Mike and the joy of twins with a curious and admiring world.  More importantly, I hope Sophie and Michael find double the joy in their childhood as they share it with each other.  The quote also inspired the name of this blog.

I made the mobiles, inspired by the ones in this blog.

The one area that still needs some attention is the top of the tall dresser, but for now it holds our twin/baby/parenting books, the sound and light machine, and the needlepoint my Aunt Rose originally made for my older brother's nursery.  It ended up in mine as well, and my mom had it reframed and gave it to me at the baby shower.  I can't think of more perfect words for a neat freak new mom like myself!

Click here to see the playroom!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Our First Parents

In the early weeks when Mike went back to work, my mom and my mother-in-law Gail came by on alternating afternoons, helping me to slowly adjust to caring for two babies on my own. During that time I would catch up on tasks around the house, occasionally nap or shower, but since I was pretty wiped out from both the c-section and sleep deprivation, we would mostly just sit and chat while admiring Sophie and Michael.  With one baby in the safe hands of a goo-goo-eyed grandmother, I was able to hold and enjoy the other without distraction. That's probably a treasured luxury for all parents of more than one child, but I think it's particularly true for those of multiples.

These days my parents both try to come by at least once a week to visit "the bobble-heads," as my dad dubbed them.  We get together with Mike's parents about as often.  It's been amusing watching our moms and dads transform into grandmas an grandpas, particularly our dads who haven't shown interest in holding babies since the seventies when we were born.  And even then, I doubt they resembled the mush Sophie and Michael transform them into.

My mom called on Thurday to talk about a visit on Friday.  Because she knew she couldn't be here until about the time Mike gets home from work, she suggested she watch the babies while he and I go out to grab some dinner.  Just last week we ventured out for the first time to dinner with babies, eating on the patio of a pizza place with the babies in their stoller.  Next weekend Gail will be staying with the babies while we go out for our 4th anniversary. This seemed like a good time for a trial run.

I fed the babies at 5:00 and called Mike, who was out for a drink with a co-worker, reminding him that we had to make the most of the 2.5 hour window from the end of one feeding to the start of the next.  He pulled in just as I finished burping Sophie (my mom had Michael), and we ducked out the door.

There is very little in the world that makes me happier on a summer evening than eating on a patio (hence the pizza last week), any decent glass of red wine in one hand and an appetizer in the other.  Seriously, I get euphoric in those moments, and it's not just the alcohol.  Mike gets mildly annoyed by how often I'll opt to wait for an outdoor table when we can be seated immediately inside.  Living in Michigan, I feel we need to make the most of the limited warm evenings that come our way, and he indulges me even when starving.  Luckily, even our painfully suburban neighborhood is a short drive from several old-fashioned downtown areas with just the ingredients I crave. 

On this "first date" we went into Northville and ate at Table 5, a restaurant I believe is new since last summer.  A couple took the last outdoor table just as we approached, and knowing how disappointed I was, Mike told the hostess we would take a table inside for drinks and an appetizer, but we hoped to move to the next one available on the patio.  He's a good date. 

Aside from somewhat slow service that had us counting the minutes remaining until the 8:00 feeding, that all went perfectly.  We even had time to stop for ice cream at Rebecca's, an ice cream parlor, on the way back to the car. 

Michigan has become a pretty popular(affordable) place to film movies, and we had heard that Scream 4 was shooting nearby.  Instead of Neve Campbell or Courntey Cox, the only evidence we saw was a Paramount Pictures semi heading out of town as we finished our cones.

In a quiet moment at the restaurant, Mike said, "This is nice."  And it was, Shiraz in one hand and chevre on french bread in the other.  Most meals these days aren't eaten in one sitting.  They're typically interupted by a baby or two whom we mistakenly thought was sound asleep or perfectly content in swings or bouncy seats.  This meal made us feel like ourselves again, spontaneously heading out to a restaurant or a movie or wherever.

On the walk to Rebecca's from the restaurant, a little boy stopped short in front of me, and I almost bumped into him.  I said to Mike, "Oops, I'm running over children.  Good thing ours are safe at home."  Having felt like our old selves for most of the evening, this statement sounded ridiculous to me.  Our children.  Last summer at this time we hoped our plans to conceive would go smoothly.  This summer we don't just have a baby, we have babies.  Both ridiculous and miraculous.

Since my mom has been around on numerous afternoons, changing diapers, using bouncy seats as needed, getting the lowdown on  how best to soothe Michael, how to recognize Sophie's drowsy signs, I wasn't worried while we were out.  But I still called just before we left for home, mainly to make sure she didn't break out the emergency bottles of formula unnecessarily. I didn't want to have to pump when I got home if I could avoid it. 

Mom had Michael cooing in her lap, and Sophie was asleep in her swing when we walked in.  Mom had discovered on her own earlier that night that when they're both inconsolable at once, the swings are the best answer.

"The boobs are back!" I told Michael.  "And so are my breasts."

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Birth Story, Part 2

From the ride to the hospital on, my memories of Sophie and Michael's birth are already fuzzy, an emotional slideshow of blurry snapshots. 

There I am in the passenger seat, noting how lucky we are to be on the road before rush hour.  It's still dark out.  I call my mom although Mike already did back at home.  It just feels wrong not to.

There I am walking into the hospital while Mike parks the car, a wet spot growing on the front of my grey yoga pants.  I tell the front desk that I'm in labor with twins, that Labor and Delivery know I'm coming. 

There's Mike leading me off the elevator, down the hall of Labor and Delivery toward the main desk.  A nurse calls to us from one of the rooms.  "We were expecting you."  She gives me a gown. 

There's my mom sitting next to me. Mike is at the foot of the bed, and I'm answering questions for registration.  I get an I.V. and have an ultrasound. Yep, baby B is still breech.  C-section it is.

There's the clock on the wall of the hospital room.  It's after eight o'clock, a busy morning, and the doctors are delivering babies, rearranging scheduled c-sections to fit me in.  As the contractions begin and become more intense, I start to get anxious.  "It's not fair to have to get cut open and have contractions."

There's the clock on the wall of the hospital room.  Nine something when Dr. Hakim comes in to say it won't be long.  He explains the details of the surgery, the procedures and risks.  Mom jokes afterward that he should do radio commercials for pharmaceuticals, his voice is so soothing.  When he mentioned that with any surgery there's a risk of death, I knodded confidently, so I think she's right.

Now mom is uncharacteristically fighting back tears, and I'm telling her that the babies and I will be fine.  It helps me to have to say this.  "But you have to understand," she says, "you're my baby." Impending grandmotherhood seems to be making her sappy.

There I am being wheeled on the hospital bed, out of the dimly lit room into the bright hallway, down the hall of automatic doors and into the operating room.  I'm in an operating room.

Go to Part 1
Go to Part 3

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