• Four Months

    Date: 2015.08.27 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Me, Twins, Vera | Response: 1

    Ok, so it’s been a while since the twins turned four months, but I did snap their pictures on that day!

    I love four-month-olds. They are so engaging. They laugh and smile and watch everything around them, especially their goofy, dancing sisters. Plus, they aren’t quite mobile yet, which makes things easier on mom and dad!

    Luke, however, desperately wants to be mobile. He’s got the rolling from tummy to back thing down, and can even inchworm across the floor and bed. When we put him in his bumbo chair, he works as hard as he can to get out of it. When we hold him, he loves to stand while clutching our fingers. I do believe the boy would run off if he could.

    Vera, on the other hand, is much more reserved in her movements. Opposite of her brother, she loathes tummy time and any time we make her do it, it is met with much screaming and protest. I have been worried about her not meeting her milestones like brother, but she is managing to push through. The day after her four-month doctor appointment, where we discussed developmental concerns, she totally surprised me by finally rolling over! Yes, she’s only done it once, but now I know that little stinker can do it.

    V also has some head and neck problems, but we have been able to do stretches at home so far, and they seem to be working. Of course, as her mama I can’t help but worry about her, but so far she’s showing me that she can do it!

    Also opposite of brother, V loves her bumbo chair and will sit in it quite contently and observe the world around her. She doesn’t mind staying still, which is probably a good thing with all the chaos in our house.

    Sleep has been interesting. For two nights in a row, right as they turned four months old, they slept through the night. But, it was fleeting. Since then, Luke has been waking up at least twice a night, rolling over. I know there is a four month sleep regression, but V and I do not appreciate the nightly wake ups. We are powering through though. In a way, it’s good, because V still needs the extra nightly calories, so Luke forces me to get up and dream feed her.

    At four months they weighed in at 14 pounds and 10 pounds, nearly doubling their birth weights.

    After doing some research, we have opted to wait and start solids at six months. Neither baby is showing any interest in our food yet and with V being so tiny, it feels like the right decision.

    Tandem nursing is nearly impossible for us now. They are so crunched in the football hold that they get fussy when I try to do it. Instead their feedings are now slightly staggered, which is good so mama can have some one on one time with them while they nurse and they can stretch out.

    They are much more content to sit and watch now, not always demanding to be held. Again, I think the constant amount of entertainment from their older sisters  contributes to that, but I’m not complaining.

    I can not believe my babies are four months already. It simultaneously feels like the days are so long sometimes, but the weeks and months are so short.

    Right now Luke looks just like mama and V looks just like my husband’s family. I think that is also a contributing factor to their size difference. My V is just petite!

    Sarah has affectionately nicknamed them “Little Buddy” and “Little Vivi,” and the names are sticking.

    I can honestly say that at four months in, things are better. We are finally finding our groove and getting use to our new normal. I love their smiles (Luke smiles with his whole face, while V gives me shy grins) and I love getting glimpses of their personalities.

    Happy (belated) Four Months to my littles!

  • Doubt

    Date: 2015.08.19 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Twins, Vera | Response: 1

    No one ever said being a parent was easy, and I know that. It requires strength, sacrifice, patience and a force of will I never knew I had. And as we’ve added more children to our family, I’ve found that all of those characteristics need to be amplified: patience, discipline and even a listening ear for four children, instead of just one, is much harder.

    I feel like so many days we are just surviving and it is so hard to actively do things for my kids. We react to what’s presented instead of proactively planning things and doing them. Most of the time, I’ve learned to relax and go with it, but then here lately, I feel like that’s not enough.

    I doubt myself all the time. At the twins’ four month check up, we went through the list of milestones they should be performing. When the nurse asked if they reach for toys placed in front of them, I paused and with great embarrassment said, “I don’t know, because we don’t really do that.” I felt guilty and immediately felt compelled to start explaining myself. “It’s not that we leave them unattended all day, but they are usually sitting in chairs and kicking at things attached to them, or laying on blankets while Sarah dances in front of them or being held and nursed.”

    I don’t consciously think, like I did with my first two, “Oh, I need to be presenting them with things so they can practice reaching and grabbing.” Most of the time, when I’m home, I’m trying to do dishes, pick up, fold laundry and attend to my two very active older girls who demand my attention, and so the babies just kind of hang out for the ride.

    Vera was also not rolling over yet and is having some head and neck problems that I didn’t even realize were going on. Yes, we take them to the doctor regularly, so she caught it, but I did not even realize it was going on. I felt like I was failing her. (On a positive side note, she did roll over the very next day after the appointment, despite her loud and screaming protests to tummy time).

    My doubts creep in with Sarah and Norah too. Norah watches Mark and I intently, and as soon as our attention deviates away from her, she makes a break for any and all forms of mischief: throwing things in toilets, grabbing and throwing cat litter, grabbing bags of food and emptying their contents onto the floor.  All these things make me feel like I only say negative words to her. “Norah!!! Why?!” I find myself saying all the time. And I know why. She’s an attention-starved almost-two-year-old who wants her mama’s attention.

    She has also put up the great and mighty protest against easily going to sleep in her new big girl bed. We can’t let Sarah in the room that they share while we let her go to sleep or Norah will scale our well-placed barricades for the bunk bed stairs and jump on her sister repeatedly, playing a game instead of sleeping. As such, Sarah is kept out of the room until her sister falls asleep, often keeping her up well past when she should be sleeping and making her exhausted for the school the following day. Another failure for Sarah.

    Between the four kids tag-teaming me throughout the course of the night, I have had exactly two decent night’s sleep in the past six months or so, and it’s taking it’s toll on my patience with my children and my husband. Instead of answering their questions with love, I feel like I bark out quick responses. I feel like I’m failing my family all the time and that they must only see me as a mean, grumpy monster.

    But then things will sneak through to make me realize that they don’t feel that way, at least not all the time. This morning, after being up most of the night with Luke, Sarah and Norah, my tiniest little Vera woke up well-rested and all smiles and coos and giggles. While the rest of the house finally slept, we had about 20 minutes together, just the two of us to laugh and smile and just be.

    Before I left for work, Norah yelled, “Mama! Mama!” “Yes, Bean,” I said exhaustedly. She looked at me and said, “Hug you,” and wrapped her little arms tightly around my neck.

    In the midst of the morning breakfast and getting ready chaos, Mark and I shared a look of exhaustion and I walked over to him and we wrapped our arms around each other in comfort and shared understanding.

    On the way to school this morning Sarah chirped up, “Mama, I have something to tell you.” “Yes?” I inquired. “You’re so beautiful and I love you,” she said, before telling me all about her nightmare that woke up half the house at 4:30 this morning (it involved  unicorns, a prince and a pink potion that turned everyone into frogs).

    To be honest, I still don’t feel like I’m doing it all right. I forget things all the time and fly by the seat of my pants. But it is so nice in the midst of being so full of doubt that my family shows me and tells me how much they love me. I may not be doing it right all the time, but we do manage to laugh and smile and love one another, so we must be doing something right.

  • In Transition

    Date: 2015.08.02 | Category: Family, Home, Norah, Toddler Time | Response: 1

    Someone talk me down from the ledge.

    We have begun the process of getting Norah to sleep in her big girl bed instead of the crib… and sharing a room with her big sister. Go big or go home, right?

    The past two nights have been rough. I sort of want to kick myself for starting this process now with the two babies we’re still wrestling to sleep at night, but Norah can now hurl herself out of her crib, and as prone to accidents and ER visits as she is, it’s time we minimize the risk. And so, our plan to start her big girl transition has been moved up a month.

    I have to keep telling myself this is a good thing. It gives Sarah a full week of adjusting with Norah in her room before school starts, and we will hopefully eliminate the late nights soon. Plus, the sooner we get her adjusted to sleeping in her new bed, the sooner we can move the twins into her old room and out of sleeping in our living room (hey, you do what you’ve got to do).

    I tried to prepare myself for this. I’m part of a really good and supportive sleep learning group on Facebook. Granted I joined to get help with the twins, but when I asked for help with this transition into the big girl bed, they stepped up wonderfully with some great tips and ideas.

    The first night Norah thought it was a game. We put her into the bed, she jumped right back out again. Over and over and over. Sarah tried to boss her from the top bunk and then was constantly running to tell us Norah was out of bed again. We finally took Sarah out of the room and let her watch tv while we put up a pressure gate to keep Norah in the room and blocked off the bunk bed stairs to prevent her from toddler base jumping.

    There was a lot of protesting. We tried laying down with her. She was fine until we got up. We tried standing and watching, but then it became a game to jump up as soon as we left. I wanted to give up and put her in her crib, but Mark kept me strong. I grabbed a beer to help me power through. Finally, she wore down at 9:30pm and Mark put her in the bed and she didn’t get back out. She did pretty well and slept through the night, but woke up at 5:30am crying. This is my baby who usually sleeps until 8:30 or 9.

    The next day was HARD. She was exhausted and refused to nap. I thought she should nap in her crib. One transition at a time, right? This was not a good idea. She spent most of the day screaming her head off – both in bed and pretty much any time we looked at her. She was a grouch and kept screaming for her “kilkies,” ie her blankies, all. day. long. And of course we were all exhausted. Norah kept Sarah up quite a bit during the night and early morning, and I was up with the babies at night, and then again at 5:30 with her.

    Second night was even tougher. It was Mark’s turn to want to give up. We were all so exhausted and she was overtired. We went through a two hour repeat of her constantly getting out of bed. I finally caved and went to sit in bed with her. She stayed put, but spent the entire time singing to her Raggedy Ann doll and playing peek-a-boo with her. That would have been adorable if I wasn’t so exhausted and still had crying babies to attend to.

    Sarah loudly declared that she thought it was high time Norah moved back to her crib because she was keeping her awake. I was so close, so close, to granting her wish. But I knew things would just end with hours of screaming. We had started this awful process, and we needed to stick to it. The first three days are always the worst with any kind of sleep training. We were half way through it, we couldn’t stop now.

    Finally, we had to leave her in the room screaming. Poor Sarah. Poor Norah. Poor us. I felt awful for her, but I know her personality and how well she manipulates us, so I had to. Guess what? Less than 2 minutes of protesting and then she crawled back into bed and passed out. She slept until 6:30 this time, a huge improvement I think.

    Today, we decided we needed to commit to the big girl bed for nap time too. It was too confusing going back and forth.

    My new plan of attack included wearing her out and filling her up. I let her play outside all morning, made her favorite for lunch (shells and cheese), and then Mark put her in her bed, put the gate up, turned off the lights and walked away.

    I steeled myself for the screaming that would probably fill our whole afternoon… and it never came. I checked on her five minutes later and she had passed out!

    I don’t know if this will translate into success tonight, but I hope it at least shaves an hour off our protest time. If we can get her sleeping easily in the big girl bed, it will at least grant me the patience to forgive her new habit of putting all the things in the toilet. Maybe.

  • Back to Work

    Date: 2015.07.21 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Me, Norah, Sarah, Twins, Vera, Work | Response: 1

    For the third time, I returned to work last week after being on maternity leave.

    Of course there was that inevitable sadness that comes with separation from your baby (or babies in this case), but this time, it was MUCH better.

    I am so thankful that I work in a place that is very supportive of families and has been very willing to be flexible with my schedule so I could enjoy three months home with my babies (three months, I might add, that were crucial to us being able to establish breastfeeding and allowing me to recover fully from my c-section.. *trying hard not to step on post partum recovery soapbox*).

    In the past, when it was time for me to return to work, I took the older girls to a daycare. It was a very good daycare, but it was still a place that wasn’t my home full of people I did not know well. And that absolutely crushed me to have to leave my baby with strangers in a strange place all day long. With Sarah, that sense of “awayness” was the worst. In addition to her being my first child, I had post partum depression and severe separation anxiety from my baby. I would go to work and sob every time I broke out the breast pump as I thought about strangers, albeit very capable and nurturing strangers, taking all my time I should have with her. It was a horrible, dark well of emptiness inside me that made me question if I was doing the right thing constantly. But, eventually, I got to know everyone at the daycare, recovered from PPD and saw how much fun she was having when we took her there and felt better that she was in capable hands and making friends, even though she got sick nonstop for nearly two years while she was there.

    With Norah, it was better. When I took her to daycare, I already knew everyone who worked there and, after watching them with Sarah over the years, had no worries about her being in good hands. But it was still hard. Again I felt like I was abandoning my baby to a strange place away from me where she couldn’t nurse and take comfort from her mother. I bounced back more quickly that time though and again got use to it as I watched my baby flourish and interact with her little friends.

    This time though, things were different.

    Putting four children in full time daycare was financially impossible for us, but so was me quitting my job. So we started on a quest to figure out something that would work. I lost so many nights of sleep and shed many a tear over what I was going to do with my babies when I had to return to work. I prayed over this issue repeatedly, and my prayers were answered. We managed to find someone we know and trust very well to come into our home to keep our children part time, at least until September. Then the youngest three will go to an amazing part-time place where my mom works and their caregiver will be at home with them the other part of the time. All of these puzzle pieces falling into place has been the biggest blessing. Mark and I are still having to juggle our work schedules to accommodate this scenario for now, but it’s working, and for that, I am so thankful.

    So when I had to go back to work again this time, I was able to leave my babies at home with someone I trusted, away from the sickness that permeates day cares, and in a place I knew they were comfortable in. I am so especially thankful for this scenario this time with my teeny tiny little Vera and my son who had oxygen problems initially. It’s such a gift to be able to keep them away from other small kiddos for a little while, at least until they chunk up and get a little older, a little bigger and a little healthier.

    And now I’m going to confess something else: I LOVE being back at work. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was back in my office, doing a job that I love. I think my coworkers must worry that I’ve gone off the deep end because I tend to hole up, put my earbuds in and work. True, I have a LOT to catch up on, but I am also blissfully enjoying a little quiet and the time to focus on my work and stretch my creative arms again. It helps that we just won two pretty big awards for our magazine, and it also helps that it is undergoing a major design change and expansion (which thrills me!) Plus I’m getting a new Mac next week at work. Add that all together and I’m practically tap dancing into work every day.

    Do I miss my kids during the day? So much! I love those sweet little smiles and hugs and coos and snuggles. But I also love coming home every day and being inundated with hugs and shouts for “Mama!” My patience with everyone is infinitely better, and I think their patience with me is better too. And, when I tell them their nanny is coming in the morning, they cheer her name and shout, “Yay!”

    Going back to work this time has been better than I could have ever imagined. I am so thankful for answered prayers, both for my kiddos and for myself.

    And now I’m extra grateful for afternoon and night time snuggles.

  • Three Months

    Date: 2015.07.19 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Twins, Vera | Response: 1

    I’ve tried to write this post a number of times between now and five days ago when the babies actually turned three months old. But things stay crazy around here and this keeps getting delayed. I think that’s a pretty healthy sign of how things are going to be for a long time.

    But! We’ve made it to month #3, and what a (mostly) good month it is.

    Both babies are smiling now, the big gummy, nose crinkling, dimpled grins that make me turn into a big goofball in order to keep them coming. Luke has even managed a giggle. It’s pretty great!

    Sleep still isn’t amazing though. It takes them forever to go down at night and they get up at least once a night,  sometimes twice. But we did have a surprise night this past week where both babies slept seven hours straight and it was amazing! Too bad it’s only happened once, but it still gives me hope.

    Luke, ever the pace setter, has also rolled from tummy to back. I didn’t see it happen because I was in another room, but when I left, he was on his tummy and when I came back he was on his back, mad as a hornet that he had gotten off his belly.

    Vera still HATES tummy time and somehow manages to put all her arms and legs up in the air while she’s on her belly, effectively turning herself into a rocking boat while she screams her head off.

    Both babies are nursing champs now, however tandem nursing is becoming a bit of a challenge. I put them in the football hold, latch one, and the other one gets angry and tired of waiting for their turn and kicks off with their feet, effectively shoving the nursing pillow out and dropping their sibling’s head in my lap. I get so frustrated when they play this game in the middle of the night, and I’m not sure what to do once they get too big for the football hold. I guess someone will have to wait their turn.

    I had to go back to work last week, and when I did, Luke took the bottle like it was his job. Vera put up a good fight that lasted nearly a week, but finally started to take the bottle as the week drew to a close. All three of my girl babies hated the bottle, but at least V isn’t putting up the year long fiat against it that Sarah did.

    Both babies continue to love bath time and calm down instantly when we put them in the tub. They also both love the swing, which almost always magically calms them down, as well as going outside, even if we are having triple digit temps.

    Both babies love their sisters, especially since Norah has gotten much less violent with them. Anytime the big girls dance and sing, the babies look on in awe and show off their best grins.

    Luke continues to be my happy day time baby, taking naps and sitting contently in his chair, while V is my fussy daytime baby, crying or whining unless she’s being held or entertained. They switch roles at night (of course) and Luke is always the one to wake us all up, where Vera would be just fine if I didn’t wake her up to eat, thankyouverymuch, but I still make her to ensure I get the most sleep possible.

    Still things are getting progressively better: there are longer stretches of night time sleep, more efficient nursing sessions, longer stretches between feedings, and, of course, those awesome grins that make it all worth it. We are all adjusting to our larger family and all the work that often means, but we are getting into a routine and schedule and everyone is learning to share time with mom and dad, and we, in turn, are learning how to better share our time with all our kids.

  • Saying Goodbye to Paw Paw

    Date: 2015.07.02 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Me, Nostalgia | Response: 7

    Today is a surreal and sad day. My grandfather, one of the most important and formative people in my life, passed away today. I immediately felt two strong emotions well up inside of me: the sadness, of course. How can I not be sad that my Paw Paw is no longer available for a goofy grin or a silly joke, or to ask me where I’m traveling to next and take pride in my achievements? But another part of me was instantly relieved. He has fought a long and hard battle with Parkinson’s disease that grew especially difficult and frustrating for him over the past two years. I know he was ready to go.

    On Monday, fearing the end was near, the six of us loaded up the van and drove over to see him. Having lost control over most of his ability to communicate, I didn’t know what to expect. But I watched amazed as he perked up when I brought the twins to see him, smiled at Mark and me, and even managed a small wave as Norah boisterously shouted “Paw Paw” and wiggled her little hand at him.

    That was my Paw Paw, always a man who loved children.

    Over the course of today, I’ve been thinking about the huge role he played in my life and the lives of my sisters and cousins.

    He led a big life. He was the Louisiana Secretary of Commerce, the grandson of a construction company dynasty, sat on numerous boards, co-founded a school and even climbed to the very top of Amway. But he was also “Paw Paw,” a man who dropped everything to spend time with his grandchildren, who he loved fiercely.

    “Paw Paw! Let’s ride the airplane!” we’d cry, and he would load us all up in his Caddy and drive his car through the front yard in circles, narrowly avoiding magnolia and pine trees, bushes and ditches. We would squeal in delight and he would giggle right along with us. He would take us to his office after hours, and let us decorate white boards, dig through office supplies, use the old typewriter and raid the company snacks.

    At the infamous family annual Christmas party, Paw Paw would don his well worn Santa suit and load up his sack with presents as we each begged for the chance to be his helper elf (which usually involved putting on a very tight white and green striped onesie with curled green shoes).

    Our family has always loved to play games together, and he was always eager to jump in. Party Lines was a favorite and he was great and coming up with lines that got the whole family laughing with tears pouring out of our eyes.

    Ever the sports fan, Paw Paw kept diligent notes about sporting stats and encouraged us all to take up a sport. I remember many a summer spent at LA Techsters basketball camp while Paw Paw rubbed elbows with the coach and visited with everyone – after all he knew everyone who lived in Ruston.

    One day, my grandfather and I sat talking when I was 16. He asked me if I could travel to anywhere, where would I choose. New York City was at the top of my list. A couple weeks later my parents received a phone call. My grandfather had a business trip that would be taking him to NYC and would I like to go with them? Together we sat down and made a list of all the things and places we wanted to see and go to. When the time arrived, he took that list with us to New York and made sure we did every single item on the list, crossing each off as we accomplished them.

    Together, my grandparents and I traversed the entire city, eating at Tavern on the Green and Sardi’s, going to the top of the Empire State Building and visiting FAO Schwartz. We saw The Lion King and Les Mis on Broadway, and I even remember venturing out to Hard Rock Cafe late at night with them just to cross it off the list.

    My grandfather lived to bring joy to others. Each year he would foot the bill for all four of his children and their families to go to the beach together. Inevitably the kids would get tired of just sitting outside, and he and my uncle Mix would load all the children up and take us to the Big Kahuna water park while the other adults enjoyed the peace and quiet. Another day, they would take us down to the Holiday Inn where we would sneak in through the side door to use their swimming pool and enjoy the arcade. He certainly encouraged a us to have fun, even if it meant a little mischief.

    My sisters and I went to visit him and introduce him to the twins a couple of weeks ago. In a rare moment of clarity, he looked up when we came into his hospital room and said, “Let me see that baby,” and grinned when I brought Luke over. He also spoke my name. I’m so glad that we got to see him at the end, and even introduce the twins to him.

    Dear Paw Paw, I’m so glad you’ve found peace, but so sad my children will never know the way your face lights up when you see your children and great grandchildren, how you always have a funny joke or well-timed wit, or how much and unselfishly you loved with your whole heart. I am so thankful that you always encouraged me to be a better person, and to travel and be successful. I am so blessed and so grateful that I had 30 years with you. Thirty years to love you and bask in the glow of your smile, to hug you and kiss your cheeks.

    Going through some old things tonight, I found this letter he wrote to me after our trip to New York. This was everything he was to me in a nutshell.

    I love you Paw Paw, and I miss you terribly. I look forward to the day we meet again on the other side.

  • The Micro Cleaner

    Date: 2015.06.25 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Me, Sarah | Response: 2

    There’s no getting around it, I’m a messy person. I try, bless my heart (can I bless my own heart?) but with four kids and two dogs, things rapidly spin out of control and I often lack the time and energy to set it to rights again. And when I do, the Sarah-Norah tornado isn’t far behind to wreck havoc all over again. We manage to keep the dishes clean and we have clean clothes – though I don’t think the girls have a single pair of socks that match. I admit that when I finally get both twins asleep, the last thing I want to do is pick up the mop or tackle a bathroom.

    Sarah is also very messy, often dumping barely worn clothes all over the floor and leaving trails of dress up shoes strung across the house for unwitting victims to step on and skate across the floor. I’ll admit she probably gets that messiness from me, but she also does this weird micro cleaning thing. For example, the bathroom counter is covered in all her bows and the band aids she has dumped everywhere, but she will get a baby wipe and meticulously clean the sink knobs, drawer handles and edge of the bath tub until it’s to her liking.

    When I tell her to clean, she insists she likes the mess, but then will have q-tips out detailing the rims of her Barbie carriage. Or when we go in the backyard, she will jack up her Cozy Coupe and “work under the hood,” dipping paper towels in water and giving it a scrub down.

    I often catch her doing her weird cleaning and feel ashamed. For instance a couple of days ago she had wipes out and was cleaning the toothpaste out of my sink. I felt guilty and set about cleaning my whole bathroom as a result.

    But then there are times I don’t see her cleaning and later find the disaster she inadvertently leaves behind. Twice now the girls’ bathroom sink stopped draining. After several attempts to clean it out from the top without success, Mark had to get out the wrench and take the sink apart. The first time he pulled out tons of dirty q-tips shoved down the drain. The second time, it was a bunch of wadded up toilet paper. The sink’s drain, it seems, is the appropriate place to dispose of your cleaning materials once you are done wiping down the sink spout or the cabinets.

    I’m not sure what it is about these little details that draw her to clean, and I’m not complaining, I just need to figure out how to get her to transfer that micro cleaning to macro cleaning. Maybe I should start with myself first. Yesterday, when I did decide to take on the whole bathroom, Sarah immediately jumped in with her paper towels and set about wiping down the cabinets while I Windexed mirrors and took down soap scum. Now that I think about it, she is probably motivating me to clean more than the other way around.

    I am constantly in awe of people who manage to keep a clean house constantly, especially if they have small children. And maybe one day we will get there, but in a year’s time I will have two toddlers and things aren’t looking great. Any tips for cleaning house with lots of little ones afoot? And is it even worth it?

  • The Middle Child

    Date: 2015.06.16 | Category: Family, Health, Home, Life, Me, Norah, Toddler Time, Whoops | Response: 2

    Mark and I will readily admit, as first born children, that we did not fully understand the plight of the middle child.

    Of course you always hear how middle children are treated differently: they are overlooked, ignored or given harsher punishments and as a result they act out and do crazy things to nab that so-longed-for attention.

    I didn’t think we would struggle with any of those things with Norah. Prior to the arrival of our twins, Norah was our love bear. She loves to snuggle, sit in our laps and love on her silky blankies. Our oldest and first born, ever the independent stereotype, wanted nothing to do with any of those things and so we especially loved cuddling our Norah Bean.We thought her loving demeanor would transfer over perfectly into mothering the new babies.

    Wrong. WRONG.

    I should have known things would be tough when she started getting very daring near the end of the pregnancy. She put her climbing skills to the test often, and we were constantly after her to “get down,” or “stop doing that,” or “spit it out.”

    On one fateful night, she climbed up to the top of the bunk bed stairs, cartwheeled off the top and hit the floor, knocking herself unconscious. She stopped breathing for about 30 seconds and her eyes rolled back in her head and she started convulsing. Those were the worst 30 seconds of my entire life as I did everything I could to bring her back while panicking. Sarah, feeding off my energy and witness to the whole thing, also started panicking. After beating on her back several times, she took in a gasp and came back to us. We went to the ER where they did a CT scan and reassured us that her minor concussion was nothing to worry about.

    I was traumatized. Sarah was traumatized. So much so that I couldn’t talk about it for a while. Together Sarah and I kept an eye on her climbing, Sarah tattling when Norah would start to get into something she wasn’t supposed to. Norah was pissed off that she had a security detail on her at all times, and began to make a game out of going where she wasn’t supposed to.

    And then poor Norah was completely thrown off with the arrival of her twin siblings.

    All those loving feelings I had dreamed of? Ha! Once we brought the twins home Norah started her campaign to hurt the twins whenever she got a chance. She would scratch their heads, hit their heads, pinch their feet, pull their skin… it was a nightmare! We sought out our pediatrician’s advice in desperation. She suggested time out, which we were already doing, and making a concerted effort to spend one-on-one time with her. We did. And when we did she was so happy, but with four small children it’s impossible to give her all the attention she wants. Still though, that is slowly getting better and just these past two weeks she’s been dolling out kisses instead of pinches to the babies.

    There have been many other attention seeking behaviors. Everything from unrolling entire rolls of toilet paper  and getting her legs stuck between the crib bars to covering herself from hair to toes in Vaseline. All of those, fortunately, have been relatively minor. So I should have known something big was brewing.

    Friday night their grandparents offered to keep the big girls overnight so we could get some much needed rest. While there, in the blink of an eye, Norah  fell off the bed, hit a nightstand and split her lip open. And I’m talking about all the way open until we could see the inside of it. I wasn’t there to witness it, but Sarah was and it sent her into a panic attack. The injury was horrible. Enough to make me light headed and nauseous. Back to the ER we went. We were so fortunate that the place was nearly empty when we arrived though, and they got us back in short order. They had to consciously sedate her this time, which, let me tell you, is super freaky to see your baby with eyes wide open, staring at nothing, laying still while they stitch her back up. I couldn’t watch, but Mark held her hand the whole time as the doctor lined her lip back up and gave her five stitches.

    I was so upset that my little thumb sucker wouldn’t be able to self soothe or eat. Ha! She sure showed me. She was sucking her thumb by the time we put her to bed that same night and ate like a champ the next morning.

    We took her for a follow up appointment this morning. Even her pediatrician cringed when she saw her lip, but  all is healing up like it is supposed to and she is going to be just fine. Even in the pediatrician’s office she took a nose dive in the hallway and hit the floor. My poor clumsy kid takes after her mother and, it seems, is due for a lifetime of upsetting her parents and sister and injuring herself.

    Despite all that though, Norah certainly has a certain sparkle that draws people to her. Maybe it’s her cheesy grin, or the way that she snuggles up to people she just met, but people meet her and love her instantly. Now, if only we can get her to play up that part of her personality to gain attention instead of all that other crazy behavior.

    My poor, sweet middle child. I hope she realizes how much we really do love her despite bringing two more babies home.

  • Two at Two Months

    Date: 2015.06.15 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Luke, Mark, Me, Twins, Vera | Response: 2

    Hey! We made it another month!

    Our little babies are growing like crazy these days, and while Vera is still our little teeny tiny, Luke has taken off and is quite the little chunk!

    Both babies are locking in on us now and love to stare at us when we talk to them. They also enjoy looking at lamps and fans and bright shirts. And, to my great excitement, Luke even gave us his first real smile a few days ago and has continued to every day since then! Vera is still holding out on the smiles, but we are going to be annoying with her until she shows us that gummy grin.

    Both babies are also holding their heads up now, doing push ups off our chests until they are bobbing their little heads around to take it all in.

    I’m pretty sure V is going to be blue eyed, but we aren’t sure on Luke yet (I’m still hoping for one brown eyed baby!).

    One thing that I find funny with twins is how their dispositions tend to keep switching. Vera used to be our calm, laid back night time sleeper, and now we struggle to get her to go to sleep every night while her brother conks out. And while the struggle to go to sleep is now tough, I am so very happy that they have been going right back to sleep after their 1 am feeding: something we were really battling with.

    On an personal note, I’ve found that listening to audiobooks during the middle of the night feeding really helps me mentally get through it night after night. It’s an escape, something I do for myself and it makes the time fly by!

    At this point I’ve also gotten to be a pro at tandem nursing, which is good because both babies have synced up their feeding schedules and it saves us a lot of time, allowing for more sleep (though tandem feeding in public is impossible still).

    Both babies have very distinct cries: Luke is loud and honks like a goose and Vera is a quieter little constant wail. Mark and I both know who’s crying when we hear them in another room.

    At two months Luke loves tummy time and Vera absolutely hates it. We try to rotate them around to different forms of entertainment throughout the day, but V hates almost all of it except for the swing, which keeps dying after about 5 minutes, causing her to start fussing again.

    Both babies love the car and the stroller. One day recently, when both babies wouldn’t stop crying for a couple hours, I had enough and loaded them up in the van and they, Sarah and I went to Target to get groceries and stroll around. And it worked… until we got back home again.

    Two months, to me,  is always on the cusp of when things start to get really fun. I can’t wait for them to start smiling more and giggling and cooing… and sleeping through the night. But even that is starting to improve, too.

    We go for a check up tomorrow (complete with shots and weight checks). I always hate the dreaded first shots. Praying it goes smoothly.

    Happy two months Vera and Luke!

  • Third Time’s the Charm

    Date: 2015.06.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Love, Luke, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time, Vera | Response: 4

    I remember being pregnant with Sarah, my first baby, and anxiously anticipating maternity leave: an imagined heavenly time off where I would snuggle with my baby and have plenty of time to do things like paint my house, clean, cook and lounge around. You can imagine my shock after I delivered her when, after hours upon end of nursing, changing diapers, burping and soothing, all I wanted to do was spend any spare moment I had in bed and asleep. And then there was the terrible post partum anxiety that made it nearly impossible to leave my own house or get much of that sleep I so desperately wanted. Before I knew it the 12 weeks had slipped by and I was sobbing as I dropped my first born off at daycare and headed back into work.

    With my second baby, I knew better. I was prepared to rest and heal, nurse constantly and attempt to parent two small children. I thought that I knew what to expect after Sarah. Wrong again. Hello that evil word that we longer speak in our house lest, like Voldemort, it decides to resurface from the dead and drive us to a mental institution.  (hint: it begins with a “c” and ends with “olic”). Night after night our second baby screamed from 9pm to 3am, keeping Mark and I awake with her constant fussing. We would finally get her to sleep, only to lay her down and have her wake up screaming again… over and over and over. Fortunately we were able to continue to send Sarah to daycare so I could get a couple hours of sleep during the day. Despite that I still hobbled along on a total of 3-4 hours of sleep per night/day while I continued to work while I was on “leave” from the house. The colic finally finally went away one week prior to me going back to work full time and by that time I was so sleep deprived I’m kind of amazed I was able to accomplish anything.

    This time, I was again steeling myself. I know better than to expect anything, especially with twins, but I did pray every day that lightning wouldn’t strike twice and we could at least avoid that evil c-word. Twins are hard, of course they are. One infant is tough, two infants… well let’s just say I’m constantly juggling their needs, the needs of my two other children, and time with my husband, all while trying to keep my head on straight. My days pass by so quickly in a haze of nursing two babies, patting, burping, easing the cries and trying to entertain my 4-year-old who is out of school for the summer.

    And while we had a scare with night time screams, it turned out to be something we could manage with gripe water and I heaved a huge sigh of relief. However, getting up with two babies at night means I’m up twice as long during a nursing session, and when both babies won’t go back to sleep it’s enough to make me run and hide my head under the pillow, or shake my husband awake so we can spend hours together patting fussy babies while we watch re-runs of yard crashers while saying, “Want to switch babies?” It’s no wonder the days and weeks are absolutely flying by.

    People often ask me how we’re doing these days, and without hesitation, I say, “Exhausted, but it’s getting better.” The big girls are struggling to get our attention in all different ways, both good and bad. Norah has taken to attacking the babies if we aren’t paying attention to her, and when she gets in trouble she immediately tries to kiss them or us to make up for bad behavior. Sarah, while usually fantastic with them, is constantly in their faces, waking them up and decorating them with costumes.

    Mark and I have become expert jugglers. We often laugh about the two of us bathing Sarah together back when she was an only child. Now we ask, “which two do you want to bathe tonight?” We are experts at loading all four of them into the van and getting back out again. And the twins, even though they are little, just have to go along for the ride wherever we go. They have already been to two of Sarah’s school performances and a bunch of birthday parties. They don’t seem to mind too much though.

    Our lives are all about efficiency and balance and love. Each night we do take time, individually, with Sarah and with Norah to read books and snuggle and let them know how very special they are to us and how much we love them.

    I’m not going to lie, our rough days are really rough. My sister came over to help one night and I think we scared her away from ever wanting children of her own. But our good moments are really good too. Just today when both babies were screaming, Sarah asked to hold Vera and rocked her to sleep while I managed Luke. And, I have to say, it was one of the sweetest moments of my life.

    So yes, we’re surviving, we’re exhausted, but we’re doing ok at this family of six thing.

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