Archive for the ‘Toddler Time’ Category
This weekend was ROUGH. I mean, by the time it was over I was begging for Monday, dreaming of sitting at my desk in the peace and quiet for a few hours. I realize that probably makes me sound like a terrible mother, but, well, we all need a break sometimes.
This cold I’ve managed to get has snuggled itself down into my chest and refuses to leave. I sound like a hacking, wheezing old woman most of the time and it hurts to raise my voice. And because the six of us are in such tight quarters, I was not surprised when everyone was snotty and hacking by Sunday.
Let me back up. Friday night and Saturday were actually quite wonderful. The big girls stayed with their grandparents, Mark and I ordered Chinese food, without having to worry that no one else would eat it, and then the twins and I had a whole day together with just the three of us on Saturday.
Vera was unusually fussy, but upon investigation, I saw that in addition to the two front teeth I knew were coming in, she was also actively dealing with four giant molars pushing their way through. I was shocked. She’s been physically behind her twin brother on everything, including teeth, and then she somehow leapfrogged him on this particular milestone.
But then it was time for the big girls to come home and you know what happens after 24 hours with the grandparents. That’s right, blowback.
It turns out they had a rough night of sleep with their grandparents and then Norah barely squeaked a nap in. So Sunday, on top of exhaustion, everyone had colds and we had to cancel all of our fun plans for the day, including a play date with one of Sarah’s best friends that left her in tears.
With guilt riding heavy on my shoulders, I still attempted to make the day fun. We made Norah’s favorite muffins (pumpkin chocolate chip), and both the girls were very helpful with the baking. (Seriously! And I had predicted total disaster). But Norah, well that was probably her only good moment of the day.
The girl refused to nap, and instead spent nearly two hours alternately running out of her room, or laying in her bed screaming at the top of her lungs, which also resulted in the babies being woken up early from their naps.
And the throwing things and flushing them down the toilet compulsion has gotten out of hand. So much so, that Mark is now the proud owner of one of those plumbing snakes that he had to use at least three times over the weekend. (But hey, it does actually work to get things out!)
Norah also felt compelled to dump all the toys we own onto the floor to make a “swimming pool.” Though at least that entertained her for a while and was easy for her to later clean up.
Here’s a sample of a real conversation Mark and I had Sunday morning:
Me: “Where are the Kleenex?”
Him: “In the bathroom.”
Me: “Why are they in the bathroom?”
Him: “Because I needed somewhere to put them really quick and your coffee and toast were on the window ledge already.”
Me: “That’s because I had to find a place to put them really quick where the babies couldn’t grab them because I caught Norah buck naked, covered in Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.
Him: “Right and I went to the bathroom to make sure you didn’t kill her and took the Kleenex so the babies wouldn’t empty them out.”
And oh the screaming. There was so much angry screaming on Sunday that Mark and I made the executive decision to have the twins in their beds at 6:45pm and the big girls in bed by 7:15pm. After they were down, I sprinted out of the house and to the grocery store, just to have some alone time for 45 minutes while I bought the week’s essentials. And you better believe I stopped by our stress eating outlet of choice on the way home: TCBY. I’ll take a giant Oreo filled frozen yogurt (so I don’t feel guilty, but really it’s ok because I forgot to eat lunch anyway) thing, thankyouverymuch.
Moms all know that even if we are gasping for air through one barely opened nostril and glowing with fever, that we aren’t really allowed to “be sick.” So when I started having cold symptoms about five days ago, I did what any mother would do, and ignored them in favor of caring for the kids and powering through a press deadline. Even as I felt my throat getting sore and my chest began to ache, I insisted on getting up and getting it done. So it’s no surprise that by Wednesday evening I was hanging by a thread.
Even Mark took one look at me and told me to go lay down while he cared for the kids and got them to bed that night. Grateful for the reprieve, I fell into bed and buried my face in a pile of Kleenex. I decided that my body was toast and agreed to take the next day off of work. Despite that, I still got up at the crack of dawn the next morning to get the girls ready for school, knowing that as soon as they left, I could crawl into bed and hibernate.
But alas, as soon as Mark left with the girls, the babies started to fuss. I decided to let them fuss for a bit before I got up to get them, but that’s when the shrieking started. So I stumbled into their room and found Luke sitting astride the crib rail, leg caught between the crib and the wall, riding the dang thing like a pony. Our boy has figured out how to climb out of the crib at 16 months old. UGH. And I am SO not mentally prepared to move him to a big bed yet.
I dragged the twins into the living room, put up the pressure gate and laid on the couch with them until Mark got home and then stumbled into bed and crashed, relieved to finally get a break.
But, as things always go, my plans for a desperately needed “break” quickly got dashed. Mark was out picking up lunch when I got a phone call from school that Sarah was sick. Mark, when he got home, dropped the food and left to go get her. When he picked Sarah up, they asked him if he wanted to check Norah out too, to which he quickly replied, “No,” and took Sarah home. Together she and I cuddled on the couch and watched Netflix in misery.
Oh, but it gets more fun. You see at some point Wednesday evening, we noticed that all the kids’ toothbrushes were missing. After some interrogation, Norah told us that she had flushed them down the toilet. How? I have no idea. But the toilet was absolutely, 100% not working. So on Thursday, as Sarah and I were laying around feeling bad, we were also down a toilet and I had no inkling or energy to call a plumber.
I completely missed Back to School Night for the twins, though perhaps for the best because it was raining cats and dogs. When the kids were finally all in bed that night, I took a shot of Nyquil and passed out.
So of course this morning, Norah comes waltzing into our room bright and early. And for some reason, she’s started speaking about herself in third person. So she comes into our room and loudly proclaims, “Mama! Norah made a mess. She got it EVERYWHERE. She got it all over my jammies, all over my bed, all over the floor. ”
“No, no Norah!” she told herself, “Mama told you not to make a mess.”
I just groaned and rasped out, “What is it? What did you do?” Mark rolled out of bed to discover an ice cream sandwich lining, well, all the things she had named.
I resolved to pull myself back together today though, and everything else mostly followed. The rain finally stopped. Mark and his dad managed to physically reach their hands down into the bowls of the toilet and extract all four toothbrushes, saving us a huge plumbing bill and getting the toilets working again. And, perhaps best of all, Mark asked his parents to keep the big kids tonight. So when the twins went to bed at 7:15, we did a (somewhat muted from the sickness) dance of relief.
But now, of course, Mark is getting sick.
And I think I’ll go indulge myself with an 8:00 bed time.
Man, I’m old.
Our lives are super crazy. Of course they are – you can’t manage four children four and under without some chaos. And in the 10+months Mark and I have been juggling it all, things have gotten better and, in some ways, easier.
I have very sweet people tell me all the time that I “make it look easy,” but most of the time it’s really not.
I also have so many very sweet and well meaning friends and family who want me to occasionally “do things” outside the house – to get away or be present for some event. And while the intention is always good, I find myself clenching internally at the prospect. How do I explain to them why this is a big deal without sounding whiny?
Most kids have a “witching hour,” that time in the evening where they sort or lose their minds in some form or fashion and it makes everything a little more difficult. That time usually falls around dinner/bath/bed, at least in our home. Everyone starts to get hungry and reacts in different ways. At our house, the babies start getting fussy. They scream, crawl to wherever I am, pull up on my legs and scream some more. Norah makes trouble. She steals toys, dumps out bags of pretzels on the floor, dumps dog food into the water bowl, colors all over herself with markers, etc. Sarah, for the most part is pretty good. But when she’s really tired and hungry, she will start crying over things like, “I don’t ever want to move out of this house,” or “Mama, you said four days ago that I could wear my pink jacket and you didn’t let me.”
And then there are the physical mechanics of getting everyone to use the bathroom, changing diapers, washing hands, cooking dinner, cutting it up, serving it up, getting drinks, bibs, spoons, baby food and everyone into their seats and eating. It’s tough with one kid, but with four it’s a juggling act. At least the babies can’t crawl out of their high chairs yet, right?
Anyway, then there is the feeding of babies while we try to scarf down our food between screaming and ordering the big girls not to leave their seats or that they need at least TRY what they’ve been served. Then, when it’s all over, there’s the dishes and putting up of things and getting pajamas out and towels, wash cloths, diapers, etc. while four very mobile children continue to be very tired and run amok. There is bathing (we’ve finally figured out to get them on alternating schedules so only two are bathed any given night), the dressing, the teeth brushing, the nursing, the book reading, and the “DO NOT GET OUT OF THAT BED AGAIN” routine that starts.
When all that is finally over sometime around 8:15, we move onto finishing the dishes, prepping bottles, stuffing diapers, signing folders and trying to get extra work done before we crash into bed and end up staying up until 11pm to cram in some much needed self and couple time.
What I’m saying is, that evenings at our house are very much a two-person job. Mark and I have a pact not to leave the other alone during that time of the day without recruiting an extra set of helping hands. Now I know some parents have to do this alone all the time and they have my UTMOST respect, but there is a reason we have a pact on this, and it’s mostly so that if one of us crumbles under the pressure, the other person can pick up the pieces and keep everyone moving. Or, someone can tame the babies while they scream and the other gets bed things out. Or, someone can clean up whatever mess Norah has made while the other keeps everyone “out of it, get out!”
And so one of us just leaving the house between 5-8 is not possible without help. It’s just not. I know that we have to take care of ourselves (no lecture needed there), but that usually happens between 9pm and 11pm. I would love to throw my hands up some nights and say, “Sorry! Not tonight! Mommy is taking her wine to the back porch,” but Mark would cut me with the daggers he threw from his eyes, and honestly I would do the same to him if he tried such a move.
All this to say, I’m sorry, really I am, that I can’t hang out in the evenings right now (or really do anything until after 8:30p.m., including talk on the phone). And unless I can bring at least two kids with me, even daytime breakaways are tough. Eventually things will get better as everyone grows up and becomes more self-reliant, but right now we all need each other most of the time, especially in the evenings. The babies are still nursing and Norah and Sarah need that extra little bit of mom and dad time after they go to bed. I love my family and I’ve learned to embrace the chaos in a way my mostly-introverted self never thought possible. I’m so grateful for their sweet faces and nighttime hugs and kisses, but there is always a whirlwind of chaos and Mark and I are in together. So really, it’s not you, it’s me. It’s us. And I’m ok with that.
With our oldest child, some things came easy, but many things were a struggle. Any time we got ready to make a big change for her, things always seemed to go disastrously wrong. Maybe we forced her into things too soon, or maybe we didn’t enforce things hard enough, but for whatever reason, so many of these things were hard. The transition to a big bed from a crib? So much screaming and running out of it. Potty training? I don’t even want to walk down that dark road of memory (though it did involve peeing on the chocolate chips I attempted to bribe her with). I mean even getting the kid dressed was an ordeal. She wore nothing but dresses for YEARS because I just got tired of fighting the pants battle. And trying new foods is STILL an issue.
In comes child number two. Our child I often refer to as “our challenge.” She is strong willed, determined, stubborn and quick to anger. And we have two other little ones that take up so much of my time. I decided, then, not to stress too much about pushing Norah into any big changes. After all, I barely have enough energy most days to just make it through; fighting a two-year-old onto the potty was at the very bottom of my priority list.
But Norah, ever the child of her own ideas and schedule, has always had other plans. We had a c-section scheduled for her on September 23, so of course she decided to arrive 9 days early on September 20 of her own accord. Food? Will it fit in her mouth? She wants to bite it. It won’t fit in her mouth? She’ll tear it apart with her hands and teeth until it will fit in her mouth. Broccoli? Sure, why not?
We are in a small house, and when the twins arrived, we had them sleeping in the living room because I could not deal with moving Norah out of her normal sleeping environment: her crib in her room. So, of course, she figured out how to climb out of the crib and began hurling herself to the ground. With her track record, we couldn’t allow this, so she got moved into the big girl bed in a shared room with her sister on her own timeline. The transition was a little shaky, but she got it down pretty quickly.
And now potty training. Oh how I have DREADED potty training her. My past record with Sarah was so utterly miserable, that I had decided to wait until she was 2-and-a-half and past the sick season to even begin trying.
So, of course, two days after her surgery, Norah told me she wanted to sit on the potty. “Not the little potty,” she said. “I want to sit on the big potty.” Well… ok then. I took her. And what, do you know, she went. And since that day, she’s barely looked back. It’s been less than two weeks and she may have one accident a day, and has an almost perfect track record at school.
I am absolutely astounded. I had prepared myself for such a miserable battle, one that involved long periods of sitting and waiting and screaming. So when none of that happened, I felt like I was being pranked. Yes, we still have some issues when she’s playing and doesn’t want to stop to go to the bathroom, but for the most part, she’s totally got this. She, it seems, is much better prepared to tackle the next stage of life than I am.
So many times with Norah, I have thought, “But wait, I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready for this next stage in her life.” And every time I feel like she’s thinking, “Oh let’s just get on with it mother,” and takes the lead. I have a feeling she’s always going to throw a kink in my plans, but that’s ok. For all the strong willed battles we have, I’m so glad that she can turn that determined mind to do good and great things as well. As she so aptly loves to tell me, “I’m Wonder Woman, Mama!” Yes you are, baby girl, yes you are.
Next to, “You have your hands full!” And “Are they twins?”, “How do you do it?” is probably the most common thing people say to me. And my most common response is, “I don’t know!”
And I feel like that often, especially on mornings like today when we’ve been battling back-to-back illnesses with the kids, repeated 4a.m. wake ups, coughs, kid nightmares and my own lingering congestion I can’t quite kick because I can never get enough rest.
But, the truth is that we do manage to “do it” most days, thanks in large part to the following:
- Coffee. I mean a lot of coffee. One morning I made coffee and Mark actually said to me without joking, “Why did you only make six cups?!” The struggle is real.
- Consistent early bed times. I have finally learned that Norah needs to go to bed early so she has enough time to settle and go to sleep before Sarah joins her in the room for bed. That means bed time routine starts at 7p.m. And I’m strict about it. We can hedge a little on the weekends, but if we get off by too much, everyone has a melt down at the same time, including me.
- Preparation. After everyone goes to bed at night, I set about getting ready for the next day. Bottles are made, folders are signed, snacks and pump bottles are loaded into the car, diapers are stuffed and folded. I learned the hard way that trying to do this while all the little people are awake takes roughly three times as long and adds an hour to our morning routine.
- Learn to let some things go. My house is a disaster. I felt terrible about this for a really long time and I still try to fight it from time to time. Here’s what we manage to accomplish most days: dishes, trash, some laundry and picking up one area of the house. Here’s what we fail at: keeping the bedrooms picked up, SOCKS, wiping down things, organized closets, cluttered vehicles and dog hair in general. This past weekend I spent time cleaning our hallways, laundry room and living room. Norah and Sarah destroyed most of my work in under 10 minutes.
- The village. People ask me all the time, “Who helps you?” Mark and I do a lot ourselves – we have perfected the two person juggling act it takes to keep things rolling along. But, we also have our families in town who help with watching the kids, and an amazing nanny who helps on afternoons and Fridays while Mark and I work, and a long list of amazing mom friends I text and call on a regular basis for moral support.
- Patience and understanding from other people. I work for an amazing place – a place that has been flexible with my schedule with my children and has always allowed me to be where I need to be for them. I know this isn’t always easy, but I am thankful for it every single day. I don’t sleep much and forget things all the time. When I dropped the kids off at school this morning, I had forgotten a number of things and the teachers quickly reassured me not to worry, they would make it work. Bless you people!
- The grace of God. I pray for patience and strength and to be a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker and person every day. I fail a lot, but I keep on trying.
- A strong marriage. Mark and I have been handed a lot. Our children are amazing blessings, but they demand a lot from us. It’s so easy to lash out at one another – and it happens, especially when we’re exhausted and frustrated. But being able to realize that it is just the frustration and exhaustion talking helps us overcome these things quickly, and we remind one another that “united we stand, divided we fall.” I really could not do this without him.
Despite all these things, we still have a lot of pitfalls. Just this morning we couldn’t find anyone’s shoes; Sarah’s uniform sweatshirt disappeared into some dark corner of our house and has yet to resurface; Norah put up a great and mighty protest against wearing pants and hurled a plastic shoe at my head that found its mark; I forgot the diapers and had to turn around once we left the house; I discovered that several ounces of my preciously pumped milk had spilled when we got to school; I realized that I forgot wet bags for the diapers when we got to school; we forgot to get juice when it was our turn to bring snacks for school; oh, and I’ve been awake since 4am with a little boy who is adjusting to his new crib and room and a 4 year old who accidentally saw part of daddy’s zombie show last night and had nightmares and panicked the rest of the morning until we talked about snow angels and unicorns.
Life is crazy. I feel like every day I must look like someone dragged me behind their car. But, despite all of this, I am really and truly happy. I love my kids. I love my husband and we all manage to make it work.
This past Friday the director of our kids’ school said another parent came up to her and asked who that mom is who pushes the twins in the stroller and carries a toddler on her back every day (ha!) She told her who I was and the mom said that my kids are always happy and I always have a smile on my face and I inspire her every day. Wow! Talk about humbling. That was exactly what I needed to hear. We ARE happy and, really, that’s the crux of how we’re “making it.”
Over the past six months since the twins have come into our lives, I’ve struggled with ways to dedicate time to my older girls. Mark and I constantly “divide and conquer” though, and at night while he bathes and dresses the babies, the big girls and I move to the back of the house to begin their bed time routine – which is always a challenge as I constantly find myself physically wrestling an overtired two-year-old into the bath tub while her older sister screams, “SHE IS SPLASHING SOAP IN MY EYES AND HITTING ME!”
One night Sarah asked me if we could have a “Halloween Party.” I was hesitant at first, because one more thing, but she looked at me pleadingly and melted my over-tired heart. Her imagination is boundless and I knew that anything and everything could easily be transformed into a Halloween Party. I agreed and she cheered!
I began to think of the things I could do to turn bath time into Halloween party time. What does any good party have? Music of course! So I turned on the Pandora “Halloween Party” station. Then I dimmed the lights, but that was a little too spooky, so I got a fall-scented candle and lit it in the bathroom. Perfect. Now as “Monster Mash” and tunes from The Nightmare Before Christmas flood our bathroom, we dance and laugh. Sometimes we add extra fun things like bath foam to make “costumes” or bath bombs to fizz and turn the water different colors (yellow, blue, red!).
Now, when 7:00 rolls around, there are no more battles to get into the bathtub. Norah enthusiastically yells, “Tub time!” while Sarah says, “It’s time to party!” and wiggles her hips. We rush to the bathroom, set up our party, shut the door to close out the babies, dance and play and they get mama’s full attention.
It’s not elaborate, but it is fun and it’s the joyful time we all need together. Now I look forward to getting everyone ready for bed, and the only protesting that happens is when it’s time to get out of the tub (but even that is minor because we keep the music going while they dry off and get dressed).
One of my favorite parts of all this are the things we use to create our party. The only thing I love more than shopping local is buying things that I know are safe and healthy for my family. My friend Kate owns Zombee Candle and Coven Co., and sells both products at her new store in Shreveport, The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts. For our tub time parties, I’ve been lighting up seasonally appropriate fall scents – L’Automne and Bitches Brew (though the girls call it Witches Brew). Bitches Brew is purple and smells like apple cider, so it usually gets Sarah’s vote for party time. The candles are made with soy and don’t release any kind of nasty toxins into the air.
Coven Co., is a line of natural and organic beauty products, including bath bombs and body butter (and the body butter even comes in the falltastic Hocus Pocus scent). The girls love waiting to see what color their bath bomb is going to release when we toss them in the tub.
I am so excited to have the opportunity to share a little bit of our Halloween party joy with my readers! I’m teaming up with Kate during the week of Halloween to giveaway some of these locally made products from The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts.
You can win this awesome little bundle of healthy, Halloween goodness which includes:
- 3 x small Coven Co. Aura Bombe bath bombs in Grove [lemon & sage] or Mandarin Royale [vanilla & orange]
- 1 x 14oz Midi Zombee in your choice of Bitches Brew [mulled apple cider], L’Automne [orange, clove, black tea], Hocus Pocus [vanilla & pumpkin], or Hallowed Ground [tobacco, patchouli, cedarwood].
Here’s what you have to do to enter. Make sure you complete all the steps – we’ll check!
- LIKE The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts on Facebook.
- SHARE this post with your friends.
- TAG a friend in the comments.
- PROMISE to have your own personal Halloween Party, even if it’s just lighting up a spooky scent and relaxing in the tub with your very own bath bomb.
The last day to enter is this Saturday, HALLOWEEN! We will announce a winner on Saturday. Good luck!
Last Friday I had Norah at the pediatrician’s office for her two-year-old well visit. I had Luke in tow as well. His fussiness and sleeplessness was reaching critical level and his cough was enough to scare me every time it happened.
Norah, when she and I go places together without the entire crew, tends to be an angel. She readily got on the scale, let them measure her and check her temperature. Put up a small fight at shot time, but didn’t even cry during her finger stick. Our pediatrician, who we have gotten to know well enough that we now call her, “Aunt Monica,” and I discussed and sort of laughed at Norah’s ability to find accident and injury and her ER history, but we were relieved that she had gone a stretch without anything significant happening.
Luke, it turned out, had a double ear infection, so we got an antibiotic for him and we went about our merry way.
Fate, though, reared its ugly head that evening.
I got it into my head that night that I wanted to make one of the girls’ favorite dishes, “yellow soup,” (ie potato and veggie and cheese soup). I knew I had all the ingredients, so I got to work. When I grabbed the chicken broth, however, I discovered that Norah had gotten a hold of it and tried to open it with her teeth in a fit of rat-like hunger, thus opening it and letting it go bad. I grumbled as I tossed the unused box into the trash and dug around in my pantry where I unearthed a still-good can of chicken broth. I decided to use that to start the soup while Mark ran to the store to get more.
As things often happen at dinner time, both babies started crying, so I went to them while I waited on the soup to cook, not thinking about all the things that were still sitting on the counter top.
Mark got back, and while he was busy adding the rest of the ingredients and I was tending to babies, Norah decided she very much wanted that open can of chicken broth still sitting out on the counter, so she reached for it. The lid was still attached, so when she stuck her thumb down in the can, it got stuck, she panicked and then she yanked… HARD.
Mark starts yelling that Norah is bleeding everywhere. I panicked a little and asked if she needed stitches, but he couldn’t tell because there was so much blood. I pinned her down and looked and the gaping wound on her thumb. No doubt, there would be stitches.
Mark would have to drive while I held my toddler with her gushing thumb, which Mark ingeniously wrapped in paper towels and electric tape, so we quickly began seeking back up help. My mom had my sister’s kids, my in-laws were out of town, my sister was at work… “Call Debbie,” I said, and our wonderful neighbor immediately rushed over to help.
We darted out the door and made for Quick Care. They took one look at her thumb and sent us immediately over to the Emergency Room.
When we got there, the ER was empty, thank goodness, and one of our friends was our nurse. In short order they brought out our old friend the papoose board and put Norah in her straight jacket.
We tried all kinds of distraction techniques while they numbed her up the doctor started cleaning and stitching. The ER doctor encouraged us to sing, “Wheels on the Bus.” I can just imagine the joy and horror anyone walking by would have experienced as they watched a little girl strapped to a blue board getting her hand stitched up while her parents, three nurses and a doctor sang “Wheels on the Bus” complete with hand motions. Norah, however, did not find it at all entertaining.
Still though, three stitches later we were out of there, but not before our ER doctor commented that we looked familiar. Yes, this was her third trip to the ER in a year, but, I said, “ I swear we’re good parents!”
It was when we got home and started to get her ready for bed that it dawned on me that it was the thumb she sucks to soothe herself and go to sleep. Oh hell.
It was a bad night. She had trouble going to sleep without sucking her thumb, and then couldn’t settle herself as she woke up multiple times in the middle of the night, both in pain and in general anger at the thumb situation. When I told her to suck her other thumb, she just looked at it and screamed. Combine that with the babies waking up with painful ears and it was rough.
That was a Friday night. Monday morning I had a phone call from dear “Aunt Monica,” who could not believe what she saw when she got her files from the weekend. She left me the sweetest and most encouraging voicemail that said many things, but included the phrases, “Oh my gosh it never ends,” and “I firmly believe God only gives you what you can handle and He knows you are a stronger woman than I.”
It’s now been over a week and things are getting better. She’s missed a lot of naps over the thumb sucking issue, but she had the stitches taken out yesterday and hasn’t resumed thumb sucking… so maybe in the silver lining of things she broke that habit? I’m not ready to swear by it yet, but maybe, just maybe.
And also, this birthday gift from Cassie showed up in our mailbox last night, and I have to say, it’s perfection.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Things That Go Bump in the Night
- Two Two-Year-Olds
- Today, You’re Six
- The Aftermath
- My Sick Bonnie Girl
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