Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cha Cha Cha Changes

We seem to be on a six month cycle of change around here and we're about to enter a new phase.

Six months ago the Turtles came into the world and everything that was normal at the time was quickly upended by the chaos that accompanies a new child... or two. We have settled into that chaos now and while it can still be maddening, it also feels comfortable and secure. On the rare occasion when I have found myself without my children, it is still next to impossible for me to accomplish anything. I run around the house, manically flitting from one task to the next, while seeing not one single thing to completion. That's my new reality and I'm surprised to say that I am finally comfortable with that.

So as September draws to an end, we are closing the door on the new parents to three cycle. Vivi is happily enjoying her new identity as a preschooler and we are slowly accepting the fact that she now has a small part of her life that doesn't include us. She is growing into her own person who is having her own adventures but it is us, her parents, who are learning the lessons of letting go.

And then there's the construction... Our bedroom, where the Turtles were born, will be returned to its original state of two smaller bedrooms. Vivi will occupy one side while the Turtles will be on the other. We will move into Vivi's current room, the original master bedroom. It's a change that we expect to be difficult but it will give us five more years in this house, at least. We are, in essence, preparing for all the cycles that will follow this one.

With all the change, I figured it was about time to gussy up this blog. Let's begin again...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Little People

Baby, baby, where have you gone?


I was sitting at my desk with a certain Jude Bug lying on the floor directly behind me playing with her ball. When I turned around, not more than a couple of minutes later, she was heading into the kitchen.

Maybe she wanted some of the delicious yogurt she shared with her sister the other night.

Well, she thought it was delicious.

These Turtles continue to amaze me. They are growing at the speed of light and although every day seems to be a challenge of survival, the time is passing very quickly. Their personalities are becoming much clearer and though they are quite different, they seem incomplete with out the other. I feel their bodies relax simultaneously when they hold hands while nursing. Just the other day, Eliya was cracking up whenever Jude brushed her face with her hand.

They are beautiful separate but glorious together and that is more than enough to keep us going for another day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

More Questions About Sleep

It has been nearly a week since the cry-it-out experiment began and we've had some success. It is not the blissful, perfect sleep I had in mind but it is a definite improvement over the multiple night wakings we were enduring. I'm just not sure if my expectations for these Turtles are reasonable.

So, fair readers who have survived the cry-it-out technique, I need your help.

Here's the back story: I've been putting the Turtles down to bed between 6:30 and 7 p.m. with little fuss. For the first three or four nights, they would stir at around 10 p.m. and I would nurse them in their semi-sleep state and then head off to bed myself. I wouldn't pick them up again until 5 a.m. or after. The first night Jude cried for two and a half hours but subsequent nights have been much better. They still wake up and cry but usually don't go longer than 20 minutes.

By the end of the week, I decided to let them put themselves back to sleep at the 10 p.m. waking. I have been so exhausted that staying up until 10 myself has been a near impossibility and I wanted to see how long they could go before needing to nurse.

I think that is where I screwed up.

Now the babies are waking at 2 a.m. and I am feeding them. They are doing about a 7 hour stretch which seems like a lot by comparison but I am still hauling my butt out of bed in the middle of the night.

So, here are my questions: How long of a sleep stretch can I reasonably expect from 6 1/2 month old babies that are average size? When you let your baby cry-it-out, what time period did you consider sleeping through the night? Did they still wake up in the middle of the night and fuss? Were they in your room or their own room to sleep? (Right now, the babies are in our room with us. I think this is contributing to everyone's sleep problem but until we begin construction on our two bedroom house in a month or so, I'm not sure how to remedy this.)

You would think that these twins were my first babies because I have no clue what I am doing with this sleep problem. Vivi was such an easy kid by comparison and there was just one of her!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Crying It Out

So we did it. We let the babies cry it out and oh god, it hurt. It hurt really badly.

As I have written in the past, our Turtles are not great sleepers. Part of this, I believe, is their natural inclination but I also recognize that I have likely created a situation that rewards their desire to stay awake. Like at 11:00 p.m., 1:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., and 5:00 a.m. when I nurse them back into sleepy oblivion.

It started innocently enough. Every parent of twins told me to feed the babies at the same time and I did that... for three days. On hour 36 of hardly any sleep, I gave up. You see, nursing two babies at a time was logistically very difficult for me. I required a light, a chair, a pillow for my back, a huge pillow for my front, and someone to help me align two babies. Add to this the fact that I effectively forgot how to nurse and was in so much pain that I would cry the moment each baby latched on. I knew I had something all wrong. By the time each nursing session was complete, we all were wide awake and completely agitated. No one could sleep.

My post-partum doula helped me get the nursing on track but I knew that if I was ever going to sleep again, I had to nurse them one at a time while lying on my side in bed. (Thus no light, pillow, or help was needed.) It has worked beautifully. Baby eats and I sleep while it happens.

Well, here we are six months later with Turtles who are double their birth weights. I know they can go more than two hours a night and we have occasionally let them fuss only to have them fall back asleep within a few minutes. Because we all share a room, however, it is impossible for me to let them cry for long periods. As most mothers can attest, it is torture listening to your baby cry.

So we made THE DECISION that I wouldn't nurse them in the middle of the night anymore. I slept in Vivi's room. My husband slept on the couch. I fed them at 10:30 p.m. and not again until 5 a.m. I would love to say that it was a huge success but Jude cried from about 1 a.m. until 3:30. My husband gave me a pep talk at 3 a.m. before I moved to the basement, in tears myself. I know that the babies NEED to learn how to sleep through the night and I wasn't helping them by nursing them back to sleep. It's hard to be rational in the middle of the night though.

Tonight we'll do it all over again. This time, I am hoping for better results.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

School Part II

Vivi, in all her three year old charm, started school on Thursday. It was a big event around this place. Vivi was excited. Daddy was excited. Mama was REALLY excited. The Turtles even seemed excited.

When Vivi awoke for school, she informed me that she wanted to wear a dress because she needed "to look stylish." I told her that it was probably a little chilly for a dress but she wasn't swayed. "I'll just wear my leg warmers then."

And there you have it:

So far, we have been pleased with the nursery school we have chosen for Vivi. It is a small, local cooperative where the teachers are progressive and the format is entirely "child-led." The community of parents seems happy and the work involved appears not to be too onerous. I think our whole family is going to get a lot out of it and I am really looking forward to that.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Growing Up

It seems we are all getting older around here. Our Labor Day weekend was spent celebrating various milestones, including my birthday and the Turtles' six months of life. With each passing month, time seems to speed up so much so that my birthday came like a hurricane-force wind and knocked me on my extra-cushioned ass. I barely had a chance to catch my breath from the preceding year.


Now, here I am 33 years old and thinking that this has to be my year of threes: three children (one of whom is three), three major appliances broken in as many months, and three hours of sleep a night. I am just waiting for the genie in a bottle to grant me three wishes.

And so we celebrated with at least three types of cake:

And then 24 short hours later, the Turtles turned six months old. SIX WHOLE MONTHS! We had some mashed banana, sang some songs, and generally spent the entire day impressed with the fact that we managed to keep our children and ourselves alive and our house intact (save for three major appliances) for SIX WHOLE MONTHS!

Now, that really is a reason to celebrate!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

I finally left my family. My exit was premeditated and executed with such precision that I may have a future as a CIA agent... or a wedding planner. While I normally fantasize about slipping out of the house under cover of darkness, I left town last Friday morning in broad daylight with the blessing of my husband. I didn't come home until Monday night and it was glorious.

It's fair to say that I have been pretty burned out by my domestic duties. I love my family but, good god, I was turning into a Class A Crankypants. I was just tired and miserable and isolated in my mom of multiple babies identity.* I was getting bogged down in what I hated about my life instead of enjoying what I do. Six months of chronic sleep deprivation has a way of doing that to a person.

So when the invitation came from my friend E. to visit her and some of our Peace Corps friends in San Diego, I jumped at the chance. E. is one of my dearest friends and we were practically inseparable during our service. It was no surprise to our PC group that we went on to have our most recent babies within 15 days of each other. The trip was an opportunity to see E. and meet her baby, introduce her to one of my Turtles, reunite with friends I hadn't seen in a decade, and get a respite from my domestic duties.

Before I had the Turtles, I never would have thought that traveling across country with an infant would be something I would do to get a break, but that's just what it was. My husband chose the traveling baby which alleviated my guilt. (OK, it wasn't Sophie's choice but I couldn't bear to choose one baby over another.) My friends were the best baby entertainers around and I got to have my first really good fish tacos in years.

Oh, and when Vivi and I snuggled after my late-night return, she said, "Mama, you know what? I really missed you."


*I know there are Moms of Multiples groups around. The problem is that the one here in my area meets at 7 p.m. which is the WORST possible time for us.