Sunday, July 06, 2014

Engines

Sprout sat down next to me while we were eating our dessert and said, "I want to talk about cars and motorcycles and how they work."

Me: "Hmm. Okay, well I don't know very much about that."

Spud: "Okay, well just tell me about how engines work."

Me: "How about we find a video?"

So we watched these two videos and I learned quite a bit! 


Hooray for the Internet and YouTube! 

what counts as evidence?

A friend of mine is moving away. She expressed a lot of sadness and discouragement to a group of us, largely stemming from the dreams and ideas she had about how her life would be when they moved into their present home, and how few of those have been realized, and some of them are as close to 180 degrees opposite how things have turned out. Her life is not what she imagined it to be. I think she is feeling fearful and hopeless that moving to a new city in a different state will not improve things, because this situation she was in didn't improve her life like she had thought it would.

I was talking to David about this and he brought up what he thinks are the three keys to living. He calls them Mindfulness, Thoughtfulness, and Flow.  I will hope to get into those more later (in future posts), but the thought I had while we were talking was something he has frequently said before, which is "What counts as evidence?" meaning, "What metric are we using to demonstrate progress and/or success?" (He is kind of a mantra/catch-phrase kind of guy, so yes, he really does say things over and over and over again. It can be a bit annoying, but I have to admit that many of them are quite astute and useful, so overall I appreciate it...maybe not at first but eventually.)

So, what counts as evidence? For myself and many of my peers (I am thinking primarily of my friends who are stay-at-home-moms), we were raised with an achievement mindset. The vast majority of us went through the public school system, spending the bulk of our waking hours learning and being tested.  What counted as evidence was good grades. I also took piano lessons and what counted as evidence was good performance at the recitals as well as performing in the Music Festival.  I had jobs after I was old enough to work, and what counted as evidence was the paycheck. Then there was more school for me, so grades and projects again were the evidence. Grad school required a larger demonstration of understanding and completion of work projects rather than simply grades, but it was still obvious what counted as evidence.

Then we entered into the realm of Motherhood. What counts as evidence in this effort? Is it good behavior from your children? Is it good grades once they enter school? Is it happy kids? Is it well dressed kids? Is it a clean house? Is it nutritious meals? Is it great family portraits every year? Family vacations? Awesome birthday parties? Achievement at sports? Being service-oriented? Having a good work ethic? Having a good sense of humor? Staying active in your religious community? Marrying and having their own family? Getting into a prestigious college? Graduating from college?  Successful careers for your children when they reach adulthood? I could list many more, but I think you get the idea.

The above list includes a lot of events. Events feel like good evidence because it is obvious that they are completed. Events are difficult as evidence because there are many days, weeks, months and maybe years before they materialize, which can result in days, weeks, months, and years of stressing over the likelihood of desired event happening or not happening. Additionally, I doubt that most parents would only have one event on their list of evidence, so at any given time you are stewing about a host of future events, over which you actually exert very little control. What little control/influence you can exert could be easily overthrown by something that is not even on the radar this far away from the goal. If even one of these evidence-of-success events doesn't materialize, will that mean failure? Will you recast all the years of effort and love and time and energy as being largely a waste because the end result wasn't what you determined counted as evidence? That would be a true tragedy, but I have seen it happen.

I posit that we need evidence that we can see regularly. We need evidence that doesn't get undone after a crazy weekend. If I'm only succeeding at Motherhood when the house is clean, then I feel like a failure after a week of vomiting kids who kept the laundry perpetually cycling so there was no time to do the usual chores. If I'm succeeding at motherhood when my child graduates from college, how do I feel if she takes a year off to work at something or to do some travelling?

For me, I think what counts as evidence has been a loose conglomerate of many of the things in my list, as well as some that I haven't articulated.  It's so loosely defined that even if I am succeeding in one area, poor performance in another area makes me feel sufficiently deflated that I can't get any satisfaction from the success.  Being a cluttered person, my house is pretty much never the house that I imagine a successful mother having. Being a homeschooler, we are not focused on grades, so I don't get the external validation of someone telling me my child is doing well in X and Y areas. Due to financial strains, we've not consistently done family portraits or family vacations. It is easy to see lots of areas for improvement and to downplay anything at which I might be doing well.

Another problem with these types of evidence is that they are very much dependent upon the individual child. Some things about your child you have very little control over. I have one son who manifests "happy" in ways that are very different from what I imagine happy kids to be. What if your child doesn't want to go to college, or get married, or doesn't feel a connection with your religion, or has a disability that makes some of your goals unrealistic? Have you failed at Motherhood? 

I think what is necessary is a redefining of success. Success as a mother is an outgrowth of success as a person. What makes a successful person? Money? Family? Faith? Friends? Prestige? Those are all used as evidence, but many have some or all of those things and do not feel happy or content. I would think that most would agree that for their own definition of success, happiness is a key component, more than any of the other things listed. And the keys to happiness are those three things listed above
  1. Mindfulness
  2. Thoughtfulness
  3. Flow
This is getting pretty long, so I think I will save exploring these for future posts. Hopefully I can get to them later this week.

So, what counts as evidence for you? Do you feel generally satisfied and productive as a mother (or human in general, even if you aren't a mother)?


Saturday, May 03, 2014

"It's life, Jim, but not as we know it…"

I was very surprised to pull up my blog and see that I haven't, in fact, blogged EVEN ONCE this year! Wow!  I actually did start another side blog to kind of vent about things and work through some thoughts, so maybe that counts for something in the grand blogosphere of life.  I also haven't read most of the blogs I used to follow in that time.  And it isn't that I'm not online, because I am.  I just do 99% of my online time on my phone, because I'm either nursing toddlers & putting them down for naps or sitting near kids who are working on school and need me "on call," so I will go days without sitting at my computer.  And another factor is that Noodle has become quite the Scratcher  and so it can be a challenge to even get a chance to sit at my computer. And when I do finally have a chance, Gub Gub thinks he needs to climb on the chair, on me, on the shelves next to my desk, so it's a bit of a circus and not conducive to sitting and thinking or writing.  Or really anything for that matter besides going a little more crazy.

But life is pretty good.  The twins sleep through the night most nights, though there's been something unknown going on this past week which has disrupted that, so that means I get a fairly good chunk of uninterrupted sleep and now feel pretty human most days.

We are trying out something new with homeschooling, called "Project Based Homeschooling," which basically means you allow your kids more unstructured school time and assist them in working on projects that interest them and help them develop the skills needed to do what interests them.  We are still just kind of dipping our toes into this approach, but hope to be going pretty well with it for next Fall.  We will still do our core subjects of Math & Language Arts together, and probably History (as I'm  planning a sort of LA/History combined) and do project time in the afternoons.  Noodle has shown me how great this can work with her Scratch stuff.  It's amazing how much time kids (and people generally) will spend on things that call to them and fulfill their interests and desires to create.  Spud also has been working a lot on very interesting Lego creations as well as origami.  And just tonight we started a blog for Sprout so he can participate as well.  My hope is that this will be a good approach, especially for Spud who you could call an intractable learner.  You can not lead that horse to water, even, let alone make him drink.  It's more of a "make him aware that there is water and hope he understands that water is really important," and then there is a decent chance, but no guarantee, that he'll drink.  It is a real challenge to work with him, but I am feeling hopeful.  I feel that raising him to be a useful and mostly happy individual will be a very challenging task (it has been so far) but will probably result in a tremendous amount of satisfaction for me, as I know just how #$&% hard it has been.  Some personalities are just tough.

My 36th birthday is just 3 days away.  My friend started (last year) thinking of a list of X things to do each year that she is X (I think she is 44 this year, so 44 things) which I think is kind of neat.  I'm not sure I'm up for that this year, though.  I guess they wouldn't have to be really challenging things…  I'll mull it over.  It is a "Perfect Square" number, though, and I won't have another of those for 13 years.  That seems notable.

I do hope I can get a bit better at posting.  Life is busy, but we are doing mostly okay most of the time.  It's been such a blessing to finally get some springtime weather, as the twins are loving being able to play outside, which means fewer messes INSIDE.  Hooray!!  And just for fun, a couple of pictures from Easter of my littlest ones.



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas!

This Christmas reminds me of reasons I love my kids (well, a few of the reasons). Due to mucho $$$ spent on van repairs this year, there wasn't a huge budget for Christmas. I'd told the kids that things were going to be tight, and they were okay with it. I was able to get some books and logic/math games using some of our curriculum allowance from MyTechHigh and found some things they really like (Angry Birds plush) on a really good deal, and they each got a Mario Bros character they'd wanted and a mom-made monster (a Christmas tradition now). The three older also exchanged gifts (we didn't include the little ones in the sibling gift exchange) and that was pretty much the total of what they got. And they are so delighted with their treasures! It's really sweet. One thing that I'm glad we have done is not encourage our kids to make wish lists. They might think of a few possibilities to tell their Nana & Pop Pop, but they almost never ask for things over $20. I am glad that they are so happy with gifts that aren't extravagant. And I am glad that Noodle hasn't yet lost her delight in toys. A couple of her friends have, and all I can think is that I'm kind of sad for them. They have a long life ahead of being interested in makeup and clothes. Hang on to the fun of childhood a little longer if you can. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

One Year Pics

A little late getting these up, but better late than never they say.  There are also some Halloween and miscellaneous Fall 2013 pics included as well. 
...

gratitude attitude

Thanksgiving is only a couple days away, and I just haven't been "feeling it" this year.  Which of course makes me feel kind of guilty.  It isn't like I don't have plenty to be thankful for.  But I have mostly been feeling kind of sorry for myself (I know, lame).  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas and shopping and finding great deals and perfect gifts and also sewing something fun (the past few years it has been monsters or, one year, a doll) for each of my kids.  At the end of October we had to take a hard look at our finances and realized that, largely due to the $$$$ that it cost to get the Vanagon all up and running again, and ALSO due to some old bad business debt that came back to haunt us and is requiring monthly payments, we needed to do some serious belt-tightening.  So just when I was about to get into the holiday spirit, I needed to get into the penny-watching spirit.  And watching the money go to needed new tires for the van and then a replacement tire for a blow out on the Scion was so depressing.  And both of the older kids and myself are in need of new eye prescriptions that'll have to wait.   Gratefully, I was able to do a couple of photography sessions this month that helped out a little with a couple of the costs. While I know that holiday spirit is more than spending money and all that, it's still a stressful time to be watching every dollar.  And we still haven't been able to fix our upstairs shower that has been nonoperational since last September.  Sigh...

BUT, I am grateful for my family.  I'm grateful for David and his hard work to provide us with what we need.  I'm grateful for each of my kids and the craziness that has to be somehow making me a stronger and better person.  I'm grateful for good friends who make life more pleasant, and for friends who lend an ear and/or a helping hand.  I'm grateful for the things I've realized the past year about Christ and his love for us, and the supreme importance of learning to love others.  I'm grateful that the twins are older and that I'm not nearly as exhausted and sleep-deprived as a I was a year ago at this time.  I'm thankful for all the beauty of nature, and particularly the mountains that I can see out our windows and as I drive around the valley.  And even though it cost us a lot of money this year, I'm grateful for my VW Vanagon and the fact that it is so comfortable to ride in and still costs so much less than a newer van would.

So, when it comes down to it, I know that life is pretty good, and I have a lot to be thankful for. :-)







Friday, October 18, 2013

Lonely

One of the biggest challenges over the past year had been loneliness. I have mostly relied on facebook to give me some daily adult interaction, but that definitely has drawbacks. I have some awesome friends, but only have time to get together about once a month. After David comes home in the evening, it is busy busy busy until the twins are both in bed, and within an hour we need to turn in to ha e a chance of being functional the next day. With the morning and afternoon naps, it's hard to plan times to get out to see anyone, and with homeschooling, it's not like we can have people over really. So all the factors combine to leave me feeling really alone and isolated. I am not one to call people on the phone just to chat much (I always worry about interrupting their lives),and even if I did, my life now is not conducive to phone calls. I wish I had a friend who I could see regularly, even if just for 20 minutes a few times a week, who was "up" enough on my life (and vice versa) that it could be an ongoing conversation. I wish I had the time and energy to cultivate such a relationship. I wish I didn't feel like I was running in circles all day long trying to meet all the needs and demands of my family. I wish that for a period longer than 6-8 months we'd have a predictable, reliable income so I could actually feel somewhat stable and secure. I wish that I was a naturally more organized person, so maybe I would know how to tame the chaos a little more. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

ONE!!

Mooberry and Gub Gub turned ONE this past Wednesday!  We celebrated then, and are celebrating some more with David's family tomorrow.  So then I'll go through the way too many pictures and get some online to share.  :o)

I'm so glad we made it to this very BIG milestone!  And I was able to nurse the twins the whole year! And I didn't go completely insane!  And David and I are still married! (I know a LOT of twin parents who are divorced...it really does a number on your marriage.)  I actually think our marriage is stronger, even though things like date night and sleeping in the same room have been put on such a far back burner I think they may have fallen off the stove.  But we have tried to go out on dates when we can, and usually take the twins along.

.....................................

The post below (C is for Clive) is a photo book I made for his 9th birthday coming up in December.  He has admired one I made for Noodle when she turned 6 and has mentioned several times that he would like one of his own.  I am making a dedicated effort to improve our relationship (we have pretty different approaches to life) and it was really sweet to look through my photos and remember so many happy and fun times with him. 

C is for Clive

Click here to view this photo book larger

Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

the daily grind

I think anyone who has cared for an infant can attest to the overwhelming monotony of it.  Sleep, wake, feed, change, play, repeat.  Over and over.  Again and again.  Day in and day out. In talking with other moms of twins, the sheer effort of getting through the very basics of the days (listed above) takes so much time and energy because of the x2 factor, that getting anything else done seems like it will necessitate a Herculean effort.  And if you are running on a perpetual sleep deprivation cycle, there just ain't no energy for that! 

Back in June I was asked to take a meal to a family in the ward.  In theory, I was happy to help and to be able to contribute a bit, as so many had been so helpful to me during the uber stressful first 2-3 months after the twins were born.  I can imagine that the compassionate service committee thought that now that the twins are 8 months old, surely I have things together and could make this contribution. I was able to rise to the occasion and planned ahead and made a pretty decent meal (some for ourselves as well) but it was a major deal and source of stress.  And that, plus the reaction I got when I inquired if there might be someone who could come sit with the twins during nap time once or twice a week so I could take my older kids on a bike ride, made me realize that perhaps people thought I should be "over" the life changing chaos that having twins created for me.  I've been visiting teaching exactly once in the 11 months since they arrive.  I am lucky to get out of the house once a week for 2 hours without a baby (and that has only been possible in the last 3 months since Mooberry started taking a bottle).  Even now, they were playing happily on my office floor, but now Mooberry is poopy and screaming at me, so I have to cut this short.

My point is, though, it's hard.  It's still hard.  Some things are easier, some things are harder.  But I'm not "over it," and I don't have everything figured out. 

Sunday, June 09, 2013

LIfe as I know it

I sit at my computer very rarely, though I spend quite a bit of time online.  It's almost always from my phone or iPad.  And I've tried "mobile blogging" and found it to be less than awesome, so I haven't done it much. 

I've actually started a couple of complainy, whining posts, but didn't ever finish them.  It's probably just as well. 

BUT I miss blogging.  So I'm going to try and get back into the swing of things. 

The trickiest thing right now is the fact that the weather is nice and it's summer so we want to go out and DO things, but we have two babies who take naps.  Now, something that most moms of twins will say saved them was keeping their twins on the same schedule.  This has not be successful for me.  I'm guessing there are two main reasons for this. 

1.  I'm not a very good scheduler, and my life is pretty flexible most of the time.  So we don't always get up at the same time or have to go somewhere at the same time everyday (yay for homeschooling!). 

2.  M & M have quite different sleep "personalities," for lack of a better term.  Mali is a long napper (usually 2-3 hours, 2x/day).  Max is a shorter napper, ranging from 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, occasionally a 2 hour nap. And he often takes 3 naps/day, Mali takes 2.  Even when I put them down within 20 minutes of each other for a nap, Max will wake up much sooner, and it just seems dumb to wake Mali up so early when she will sleep so much longer.  So then we are "off" for the rest of the day, and there really doesn't seem a way around it.  Max also typically goes to bed earlier at night, and likes to wake up earlier, too.  SO, I've just decided to go with it.  Which is really fine, except it makes it pretty difficult to actually leave the house, because if they DO happen to be awake at the same time, one of them is likely to be needing a nap within the next hour. 

They turn 9 months old on Tuesday and are at such a fun age.  They can sit up great and are somewhat mobile, Max more than Mali.  He is almost crawling.  He does a combination bum scootch and crawl.  He really just needs to get the other leg out behind him and he'll be set.  Mali does a bit of rolling and bum scootching to get around, but isn't quite as good as Max yet. 

In other news, Noodle turned 11 earlier this month!  It boggles my mind that she is one year away from turning 12, so I try not to think about that too much.  She is such a delightful girl to have around and such a huge help with the babies.  I'm so very grateful to have her around.  We do run into issues with her trying to "parent" Spud, but I think it is mostly because she tries to be so diligent about getting her own responsibilities done that it stresses her to see him not doing them.  Which is often the case. 

Spud turned 8 back in December and has been enjoying cub scouts.  He almost got third at the Pinewood Derby this past week--his average time was 1/100 second slower than the third place car.  For his 8th birthday he got a cat, whom he named Bandit.  I'll try and do a picture post here in the next week and show some pictures.  He's a handsome and very soft gray and white cat who loves to snuggle.  It has been a good fit for Spud.  Our two resident cats, Minnie & Noni, aren't sure why we wanted to add a young pest to the bunch, but we think they secretly like having someone around to mix things up a bit.  Bandit loves to pounce on them and wrestle.  A fun fact about Bandit is that he was born just a few days after M & M, so they are the same age.  (Cats grow up much quicker than humans.)

Sprout has been going to preschool this year.  His first teacher lived across the street which was awesome, but they had to move suddenly in December so we enrolled him in a preschool a few blocks away.  It has been good for him, as we don't get out very much.  When Noodle and Spud were little we did weekly play groups with our homeschool friends, so they had that time for interaction and fun with friends.  I miss having the opportunity to that, but it gets harder as the kids get older and need more time for formal schooling. 

Well, I'm not going to pretend this is super interesting for most people, but it's a start back on the path to more frequent updates, so hopefully that counts for something! 

Here are some 8 month pics I took of the babies on my birthday last month.  

This is what we call his "rawr face".  






Wednesday, March 20, 2013

6 months!



We made it six months!! 

Some things have gotten easier.  Some things I've adapted to.  Some things I'm just resigned to, for now.  (Poor sleep being the main one in the latter category.)  The warm weather we've had has helped tremendously, though!  We've been able to go on walks (the babies do great in the stroller) and I've also been able to lay them on a blanket outside or put them in the exersaucer on the lawn.  It is nice to not have to be inside all the time.  And I'm excited for warmer weather so they don't have to wear such warm clothes and we can more easily admire and smooch all their cute little babyness! 

I have a kind of whiney, "this is my reality" post that I started a week or so ago, but haven't been able to finish. Some days are still pretty rough, but they aren't as common now.  Maybe one or two ROUGH days every couple of weeks now.  And even on those days, M&M are so cute and fun, we just can't help but love them!  And usually they aren't the hardest part...it's one of the other three hoodlums we have living here.  ;-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blessing Day








The picture on the other post was from my phone.  Here are some taken with my REAL camera. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rough day(s)

It's a good thing I made a point to drink a lot of water today... With all these tears plus the nursing I might risk dehydrating.

Some days are so hard. Too short naps, fussiness, problems with the older kids, squabbling, not enough sleep, hormones, trying to get something (anything!) done, days upon days of temperatures well below freezing, a dog who keeps peeing in the house... I could go on. It is hard to feel like getting up and doing the same things again. And again. And again.

Breastfeeding has gone really well after the first few days, and I'm grateful for that. But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to looking longingly at the relative "freedom" afforded some of the bottle feeding twin moms I know. To disappear for a few hours sounds exquisite. Max does great with bottles but Mali won't have it. I'm sure if we really forced the issue, she would eventually HAVE to give in, but that's just not how I like to parent infants. And overall they are really pleasant little people. So I love them dearly. I just don't always love taking care of them 24/7.

Thank heavens they are so cute. Here's a picture from their blessing.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Better late than never...

Three months (written in December)

The babies are now three months old. Happily, I feel like things have gotten a bit easier since about 12 weeks (though it hadn't helped much that I've been sick twice since then). They. Can go a little longer when awake without needing my direct attention, they smile and interact with us more, they are napping a little better most days... Good stuff.

Max is our giggler. It's pretty easy to get him into a fit of laughter by tickling his ribs or tummy. Really it's insanely cute. His smile is so joyful that you feel like the world must be a pretty great place whenever he flashes it at you.

He is easy to get to sleep, most of the time. He likes to be swaddled, suck in his pacifier, and held in his side in the crook of your arm. Give him those three things, and he can usually let sleep overtake him without too much protest.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Almost 8 weeks

This last week has had some hard days. There was one really great day, though, as well. On that day we had some good naps that overlapped, so I got some homeschool lessons in with Zion, plus I made a ton of pizza dough to freeze,and also got some things organized in the house. On that day I thought, "Hey, I might be figuring this whole twin thing out!"

Sadly,that night and the next day reduced me to tears again and made me feel completely overwhelmed once more. Oh, and that terrible day happened to be Halloween. Thankfully my kids didn't need much in the way of assistance with their costumes. I put up a No Candy sign on the door, for which I felt a little bad, but between nursing both babies and trying to settle them down to sleep by myself (David was out with the boys), I figured it was better not to answer than to be really annoyed about every trick or greater who came to the door.

...............

Does it tell you something that the twins are nearly 15 weeks old (I think) and I haven't had a chance to come back to finish this post?

Just going to post it and call it good.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Four weeks

(Note:  I started this from my phone on Tuesday, but didn't have a chance to finish it until today.  Today the twins are one month old.)

Four Weeks!!
The twins are four weeks old today. I'm not sure if it feels longer or shorter than that. I've left the house four times, I think, and the babies have been on exactly one outing. There has been plenty of crying, and not just by the babies. My mom was here for the first 11 days and that was wonderful.

While there have been plenty of nights that I've been up for 3 hours solid (sometimes more), I have been grateful that they are sleeping as good as they are, even, as can imagine it being even worse. So that's something.

(Now speaking presently, on Thursday.)

The past few days the twins have taken a nice long 3+ hour nap in the afternoon.  It has been WONDERFUL!  In the morning they seem to tag team being awake/asleep/happy/fussy, so having a bit of time when they are both sleeping contentedly really does feel amazing.  If they keep this up, I might actually be able to plan some scheduled sorts of things on occasion.

Last night Mali slept for about 6 hours straight.  I didn't get to enjoy this same span of sleep, though, since Max was not on board, but it was nice to think that it is possible.

The hardest times (besides some of the middle of the night stuff that happens) tend to be right when we are waking up for the day and around dinner time.  They both are often needy and crying, and as David hasn't usually been around during those times, it feels a bit overwhelming.  The older kids are pretty good at helping as much as they can, and Noodle will even change diapers, but sometimes both babies just want me and I can't get things done fast enough.  I have figured out how to do a bit more literal balancing of two babies...it's mostly safe, I think.

Little notes on their personalities/behaviors:
Mali is very often content for extended periods of time just looking around at everything.  She had her eyes open immediately after she was born (even before they cut the cord) and she was looking around at everything.  They say that newborns can only see about 12 inches away from them, but her intent gaze makes us wonder if that is universally true.

When she does get upset, she can go from 0-60 pretty quickly, though, and her most upset cry is so very sad to hear, and she'll sometimes get little tears even.  I think one of the hardest things about having twins is just not being able to respond as quickly as you want to when they are upset.  Knowing that one baby just has to wait while you finish doing XYZ with the other, and listening to the cries is just distressing and stressful.  Poor Mali had a really terrible spell of gas the other day and it took quite a while (and trying several of the "relief tricks" we have before I was able to get her comfortable and calm again.  Her poor splotchy red face with teary eyes afterward were a testament to her discomfort.

We joke that Max kept his eyes closed for the first two weeks of his life.  It's an exaggeration, but compared to Mali's bright eyes, it doesn't seem like too much of one.  Max makes the funniest little faces, often puckering up his lips into an O shape and looking wide eyed and bewildered.  When Max gets sleepy, he likes to be swaddled up, given a pacifier and tucked into his crib.  Often after that he will lay peacefully for a while (as long as 15-20 minutes, sometimes, as long as his pacifier stays in, and even sometimes when it doesn't) and just look around  until he falls asleep.  This is especially appreciated as Mali seems to prefer being held or carried in the sling until she is asleep.   If they both had that preference, it would be really difficult to get them down at the same time for naps.

Max is a big fan of being bounced and jiggled, either in your arms or in the bouncy seat.  During his fussy times, he can often be placated by just moving him more.  He is also a bigger fan of pacifiers than Mali is, though she will take one on occasion.

Though Max only outweighs Mali by about a pound, he just feels so much bigger and "bunchier".  He is a real snuggle bug, though, and a lot of fun to cuddle.  Mali seems to be too busy taking in the world to want to snuggle unless she is asleep.

Both babies stretching after dozing while nursing
All in all, things are going pretty well.  This isn't to say that I don't have tear filled breakdowns periodically, but I feel like things (including me) are stabilizing a bit.  I'm figuring out their different cries and we are all slowly making progress to a routine. 



Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

They're here!!


Our twins arrived safe and sound at 2:39 and 2:46 a.m. Tuesday, September 11th, 2012. 

I haven't had much time to sit at the computer since then, so it took me a while to get this first draft of their birth story together.  Overall, it was a wonderful and amazing experience.  I was so grateful to be able to have them born at home with no complications and with David and my midwife and her assistants.   It seems that standard practice for twin births in the hospital is for the mom to deliver in an operating room just in case the need arises for a C-section.  It was great to feel safe and secure with my choice to homebirth, knowing that my midwife was both confident and competent.

Here's the story of my twins' homebirth: 

It was a dark and stormy night… (Truly, it was.)

My midwife came at about 3:00 Monday afternoon, September 10th, and we started a homeopathic labor induction.  We had tried on the previous Thursday, and the contractions just never got regular enough for it to proceed.  I was a bit nervous that the same thing would happen Monday, but kept telling myself that if it was meant to be, it would happen, and tried to keep the "What if it doesn't?" thoughts out of my mind. 

After she applied the various  oils and such to both my cervix and my belly, I had to lay on my side for 45 minutes before moving around. The oils on my belly, Clary Sage and Sweet Fennel, really smelled so wonderful and soothing.  Honestly, while I knew she had used these same things to start other women's labors, including my own sister's twin birth almost 11 years ago, i still had to squelch some thoughts of "Is this really going to work?"  I think I remember that she said they will only work if your body is ready to get going anyways and just needs a jumpstart. 

I should add here that on the previous Thursday I had been dilated to a "tight three" at the beginning, and was only to a loose three and a half by the end, even though I did have some quite good contractions.  That was a bit disappointing.  On Monday when she arrived and checked, I was still at 3.5/4, and was kind of disappointed that all of my bouncing on the birth ball, walking heavily up and down the stairs, and  bounce-walking around on the trampoline seemed to have been of no appreciable effect! 

After the 45 minutes were up, I was supposed to alternate rocking on the rocking chair and sitting on the birthing stool.  So I did.  David brought up one of the monitors and we watched some Battlestar Galactica off his laptop.  I was using a contraction app on my phone to keep a rough idea of the frequency and length, and they were variable, about a minute long and between 5-10 minutes apart.  Melody left, then returned at about 6 p.m. when she checked and I was about a 5.  She had me taking different supplements every hour, so I was still doing that, and she might have reapplied the oils and whatnot.  (I'm writing this 9 days after the birth, but some of these early details likely wouldn't have stayed in my mind even if I'd written this the day after..it's been eclipsed) 

Melody left again and we continued hanging out, waiting for things to really get going.  The contractions kept coming, which was promising.  David's sister Cristina took the kids for a while and brought them back around 8:30 and got them ready for bed.  Between 9:30 and 10 p.m. the contractions started taking some real focus to get through.  I was listening in one ear to the Hypnobabies track on "Easy First Stage."  I really liked listening to the track as it helped me having something to focus on going through each contraction.      



I spent a while by myself in the bathroom as I found it helpful to be able to lean on the sink counter or brace myself against the walls during contractions. Also, there wasn't much for David to do at this point, and he was playing games on his phone, which I found kind of distracting.  I liked having heating pads on my lower back and a cool washcloth on my neck.  By the time Melody came back around 9:30, it really seemed that labor was picking up speed.  She checked and I was at an 8.  Whoo hoo!  I was really excited and felt that we were for sure on track now.  She called the other midwife, Roxanna, and the attendants.  I'm not sure what time they arrived, but happily Sonya was able to be here again.  She was at both Clive and Leif's births and I really loved how comforting and encouraging she was.  She also has strong hands and arms and was great at applying counter pressure to my back during contractions. 

I was in the bathroom leaning against the counter again and Melody checked and she thought maybe I'd end up having the babies in the bathroom.  At that time I realized I was tired of standing and she suggested I come sit on the birthing stool.  I didn't really want to, I think mostly because I had associations of Clive's birth and the trauma of pushing him out while sitting on the stool, and I didn't feel ready for pushing.  I really had no trouble with the contractions, but was feeling pretty worried about pushing.  I'd been reading about different approaches to pushing, and tried to stay calm and feel like my body was strong enough to handle it.  When the urges to push started, I tried hard to follow the breathing coaching of Sonya (and probably others there) and David.  It was crazy intense, but I didn't feel like I was overwhelmed until it was right up to the time of pushing.  With the births of the other kids, I always felt like I was force pushing more than following my body's natural urges to push.  Melody and crew were all excited because the bag of waters was bulging out ahead of Baby A, and they said I should reach down and feel it.  I've actually never wanted to reach down and feel anything during the births, not even the babies heads, as I've felt like it would distract me from the effort of pushing, so I declined.  Melody ruptured the bag and Baby A slid right into place.  I really don't know how long I pushed…it was so intense and the pressure was incredible.  Moreso than with any of the other births, though, I was really aware of everything and I did feel like I was working with my body instead of trying to escape from it.  The pushing felt like it was out of my control, but I would "bear down" as much as I could to help it along.  My bearing down seemed like such a pitiful contribution, but I trusted Melody that it was helping.  When Mali's head came out, it was such a relief of pressure, and I only had another couple pushes (I think) to get her body out. 


The moment she came out they handed her up to me as they dried her off.  She had her eyes open right away and was just looking around so curiously, taking everything in.  I was overcome with emotion and gratitude to have her here, and healthy and whole and everything.  I wondered how much of a break I would get before it was time to push Baby B out.  Pushing Mali out had taken so much, and she was born at 2:39 a.m., so it had been a long time since I'd slept.  After about five minutes, during which time I had a couple of contractions, I started feeling the urge to push and Max was born in two pushes.  It was almost a push and a half, as his head was out in one and his body only seemed to take half of another push.  Relief washed over me.  They were both out.   I did it! 

Max was a little bit blue and the midwives seemed to have trouble getting him to pink up.  I was holding Mali and all I could say was, "Is he ok? Is he ok?"  They were rubbing him vigorously and turning him around, and encouraging him and Mali, who had been quietly looking around, let out a single loud wail, as if to rouse him.  They got him under the oxygen for a bit and cleaned out some mucus from his nose and mouth.  It was only a short time before I was holding him, too, but the fear I felt seeing his little blue body held by the midwife won't soon be forgotten.  He was born at 2:46 a.m.


Not too long thereafter we were all curled up in bed together.  I was so glad to have my little ones here.  The anxiety of the past few months was gone, replaced by joy and relief.  Nothing had gone wrong.  The babies were here and they were healthy. 





Just a few minutes after they were born, David went down the hall to wake up the kids to come meet their new brother and sister.  I was really glad that it worked out for them to be close by, even though they were sleeping, during the birth, as I'd wanted them to come in very soon after the babies' arrival.  They were all quite sleepy but so sweet and excited about the babies.  Leif asked some questions and gave me a snuggle hug.  After a few minutes Zion asked if they could go back to bed.  It was about 3 in the morning, after all! 

After a while we got around to weighing them.  Mali was weighed first and I was quite surprised to see her weigh in at 7 lb 12 oz. As soon as Max was born, we could tell he was bigger and chubbier than his sister, so we wondered how big he would be.  Unbelievably, he was 9 lbs even!  The midwives and attendants were all impressed, and my first thought was that I couldn't believe that my "little" babies were still so big.  I was already "the lady who has giant babies," but now I was going to be "the lady who has giant twins."  I really thought I'd get a couple of seven-ish pounders.  Oh well!  Better big than small, really. 


Other things of note: 
Max's cord was about 2x as long as Mali's. 

The placentas had fused together, though they were linked with blood vessels or anything.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

so I've heard...

from several reputable sources, that THIS is the best pencil sharpener out there.  I'm about to order one, but I'm also entering a contest to win one. (One upstairs, one downstairs!)  We have an old electric one that is just not quite cutting it anymore.  And it looks so snaztastic, what's not to love?