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Monday, November 22, 2010

Yes, I am tired, but....

I've been thinking a lot about the choices I am making in regards to my babies. I tried very hard from the beginning to put them on a "schedule" and keep them synchronized because I was listening to all of the twin moms and literature that said that this was the way to do it. It worked at first, it really did. It was great to have them scheduled right away and we got a lot more sleep than I think we would have for the first couple of months. This whole time, however, the babies slept next to me in a co-sleeper. I could reach my hand out and soothe them whenever they needed it. I could check their breathing and drift back to sleep knowing they were safe.
It was right around the four and a half month mark, however, that the boys decided that my schedule wasn't working for them. Coincidentally, that is when they were no longer able to share the co-sleeper. Mason still spent some time there, but mostly they were in their crib. That's when I stopped getting much sleep, began to feel crazy, and would lie awake in between feeding sessions stressing about what I should be doing to fix  "the problem". Should I let them cry it out? Should I refuse feedings at night? Should I bring them into bed with me?
Finally one night I had had enough. I began to feed them when they wanted to be fed. I brought them into bed when I did so that I could lie down and even drift off to sleep. I stopped tandem feeding them at night because the process of setting up for the feeding was taking as much time as the feeding. This is how I did it with Kyan, but for some reason I thought I had to do it differently with the twins. I thought I would beat the system and have them sleeping through the night as soon as possible, but what was keeping me awake at night was the fact that that desire was about me, not about them.
I know that there have been numerous studies done on co-sleeping and attachment parenting, and most of them show that the babies are happier, better rested, and calmer. It doesn't talk as much about the mamas, but why should it?

http://mothering.com/parenting/science-mother-love-science-catching-mothers-wisdom (especially note references: since all of these articles are from one source and I, as a teacher, know that you can't count only on one sources I refer you to the reference articles and books in this particular article)

I 'm not trying to say that we mamas are not important and should simply martyr our well being for the good of our children, but when I stop and look at the situation the reality is that this time of little sleep is very short lived. I'm not having any more children, so in a year I will be looking back on my nighttime cuddles with my boys and probably shedding a tear or two that my time for that is over. And, when it comes right down to it, I am far better off now than I was during those two weeks where I was fighting it and trying to let them cry it out or ignoring their demand to feed.
The shift happened when I asked myself why I was lying awake night after night. Once I answered that question I knew how to solve my problem. I had to let it be about them and not about me.
So, people ask me all the time, "Do they sleep through the night." It's the typical baby question around this age. I smile and shake my head, "Oh no, not even close." They always looks at me with a startled smile, not sure why I am smiling or being so flippant about such a serious matter. It's almost as if we have deemed this one accomplishment the standard measure of a good mother or a good baby, for that matter.
My babies are happy; They are confident and at ease and they are healthy. They are on the small side, and so was Kyan, so why on earth should I be denying them milk because it is not "time" for them to eat again? I could easily sit up in the rocking chair and feed them one at a time at night, in fact I do that for their first feeding, but bringing them to bed is more about me and more about balance.
I don't want to have to hold myself to any one particular parenting movement or credo. My motto as a parent has evolved to the simple phrase, "Walk the Line". I've said it before and I'll say it again: The answer does not exist. There is no one theory or practice that is magical and all powerful. I must do what works for me and for my children and for my family; I must do what feels right deep down in my intuitive core. If that means that I'm a bit tired for awhile, then so be it. Yes, I have a baby (one or the other) next to me all night long. There are worse things. I am tired, but when I look at the three amazing little beings that Ben and I have created I am blissful. 

An Answer

by Catherine Newman

Yes, I guess I am tired
if you mean could I use a nap
or a meal
or a minute alone. Of course.
But I flush with pleasure
to remember the nighttime—
eyes closed,
warm hands roaming my ribs,
the milky slow-dance of nursing.
He is the most passionate person I have ever shared a bed with.
Isn’t falling in love always like this?
The nights are long and wakeful
and the days are a thrilling blur.
"Tired" is not the first word that comes to mind.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Taking One for the Team

Ah, well....we've entered a new phase that is going to be very hard on poor Ben. The babies need a whole lot of consistency, a pretty regular nap schedule at home, and a routine they can count on. Ben loves to do things on a whim: of course we should all drive to Vancouver to get cold medicine at nap time; let's go to the beach in the rain and you and the kids hang in the van while I surf; just go to the museum, Kyan needs to do something, the twins don't need to nap this morning. 
While I get that none of these are entirely outlandish or crazy, the reality is that we have TWO babies who are trying to get settled into a comfortable routine and the crazy come as you will go as you want type mentality just won't work for us right now. Do I really want to stay home all day to make sure the twins have naps? nope. Do I, however, want to get some sleep at night and have happy babies during the day? yup.
So begins the conundrum. Bottom line: it's not really about me right now. Oh...okay.

So, I sit here typing this while all three kids sleep and Ben drives to Vancouver to get his darned cold medicine...I won't mention the fact that I've had the cold for 2 weeks but never drove to Washington to get cold medicine...oh wait, maybe I will mention that.
Meanwhile I am wishing I could run the two errands I was hoping to do without kids today...sigh. Ah, I suppose I'll do things by myself in about 5-10 years...at least I have really cute kids who are completely worth my undivided attention!

This morning Mason rolled over onto his belly and scooted over to Ronan who was on his back nearby. Mason was grabbing at Ronan and Ronan was touching Mason's face.

Eventually the incredibly cute exchange resulted in Mason crying because Ronan grabbed the inside of his cheek and pulled.

Ronan has absolutely no clue how to be gentle. He has arms that move almost entirely of their own accord. They slap, they hit, they pinch, they scratch, and he seems to be uninvolved. (In fact, he currently has two long scratches across his nose, each from a different day, that he seems to have inflicted on himself.) His voice and cry are also the least gentle things in the world. I swear his cry is like nails on a chalkboard. It gets under ones skin, to say the least. When he talks he squeals, which is quite cute most of the time, but after awhile, and especially if there's a little bit of fussiness inserted, it gets to be a bit much. But, that boy laughs and smiles and plays with the goofiest little spirit. He's quite a package!

Mason, on the other hand, is so gentle and sweet in everything he does. He will reach out and stroke my face with his hands. And, when he talks it's more like soft cooing and gurgling. His laugh is also mostly silent, but he is genuinely delighted.

He's a hard child to hold though...he is quite stiff and doesn't ever seem to be comfortable in the normal "holding" positions. Whereas Ronan molds into your body like a little monkey and cuddles his head into your shoulder. It's just crazy how different they are. Gosh I love them.... :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

the twin conspiracy

So, I'm pretty sure that all of the seemingly innocent babble coming from my sweet little boys is actually a conversation between them that is resulting in a conspiracy. I believe it goes something like this:

Ronan: Hey, bro, I'm getting pretty tired with all of these short naps I've been taking lately, so I'm going to take longer naps for the next couple of days. Would you mind waking up after about 30-40 minutes so that Mama doesn't get bored. 

Mason: Sure! I'll just smile really big as soon as she comes in and she'll be so happy to see me. 

Ronan: yeah, that definitely works...oh, and if she tries to give you your paci and leaves make sure to keep talking as loudly as you can so that she worries about you waking me up...that's how you get her to give in and pick you up.

Mason: Okay, bro, have a good nap!

Seriously. I'm pretty sure they are conspiring against me. Just when I think I know the order of things they switch it up. They have been doing this from the very beginning. They have to be talking about it and planning it. I won't let them break me. I will be strong. I will keep these crazy little boys in check! If it's the last thing I ever do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Climbing the Ladder

So, it's been an interesting few weeks here in our household...We have started "climbing the ladder", which refers to a parenting book we found called, "Beyond Time Out: From Chaos to Calm". It talks a lot about the power struggle between parents and their children and how, in many cases, the children in the house have the balance of power. As I read this book I couldn't believe that I had let it get to this point. I was sure I knew better.

It's not like I have a horrible kid or anything, Kyan is wonderful, but he definitely has control in our house when I really sit and analyze it. The author of the book calls it an "imbalance of family power".
So reading this book was like reading a fiction book and waiting for the climax. I kept reading about why and what and who and when, but was waiting and waiting for the solution, and then it came. The coolest thing is that I think it might work. The hardest thing is that it's entirely up to us to make it work and making it work means completely adjusting the way we parent. We're trying, but old habits are hard to break! Do you know how hard it is to NOT yell at a kid as he straddles his five month brother on the floor bouncing up and down? Yeah, it's a challenge that I haven't completely achieved yet.

However, I think we are getting some of our power back...maybe in time to balance the family out! Now we just have to get dinner under control. Kyan completely runs our family dinner. He jumps around in his chair, eats with his hands, plays with his food, and takes about 30-40 minutes to actually eat. I remember when keeping him in his chair was the problem, but we conquered that beast, so I suppose we can conquer this one. There is a chapter in the book about this, but my problem is that I am a bit over obsessed with whether or not Kyan eats. I have seen a direct and unavoidable link between his behavior and the amount of food, specifically protein, that he eats, so I am really obsessed with making sure he has what he needs. The book wants me to stop making an issue out of it and if he doesn't eat he doesn't eat. I am not sure I can do that, but at this point I am willing to try.

The twins are posing their own challenges...I think Ronan is the power broker in that pair! It's crazy how they keep switching roles. One week Ronan is our power sleeper and the next week he's our nightmare! Right now he's our nightmare. He wakes up every 2-3 hours to eat, which inevitably wakes Mason up because, as I've mentioned before, Ronan is a screamer. I've stopped tandem nursing at night altogether and I think this is for the better. I was so tired of sitting up and getting all of the pillows together, gathering the babies, placing them, feeding them and then disassembling it all. I think if I had to keep doing that I would stop nursing sooner and I didn't want that. So, now I feed them individually. Sometimes in the rocker in their room and more often in bed while I doze off. This pretty much means that I have a baby attached to my breast through about 1/2-3/4 of the night. Oh well.

Ronan's new thing is that he wakes up wide eyed and won't go back to sleep. Sometimes it's at 5 am, but last night it was at 1:30 am. I fed him, laid him back down, and got Mason up to feed him. When I came back in with Mason, Ronan was still awake and making noises. I changed them both and put them back down. Ronan carried on, not crying but fussing, for a good 45 minutes to an hour after that. Ben was on my side initially, saying that if I keep going in and rocking him or feeding him back to sleep he will never learn to soothe himself. Then around 2:45 when I gave in and did just that, which took about a total of 5 minutes, Ben yelled at me that he couldn't believe it was that easy and I didn't do it an hour ago. I suppose sleep deprivation makes a person crazy because he was seriously saying exactly the opposite moments before that!

So, I carry on without sleep. I am beginning to think of sleep as a luxury not afforded to twin mothers. I'm pretty sure that my twin mom friends out there who claim their babies sleep through the night are just making it up!

And then there are naps...oh my the naps. Mason has just started taking three normal length (60-90 minutes) naps. Ronan on the other hand seems incapable of napping longer than 30-40 minutes. As a consequence he is always tired...seriously. He is ready for the next nap when he wakes up from the previous one. He isn't super fussy, but he's a bit whiny and his eyes are so tired! I can't let him cry it out in there, even if I wanted to, because then Mason wakes up. Mason is a light sleeper and I've figured out the key to his long naps is just to get Ronan out of there as soon as he begins to squawk.

Ah well, if it isn't one thing it's another. I suppose I've learned that by now. The ladder is a long, long road to....well, to what I'm not sure. Peace? Harmony? Sleep? who really knows...I don't exactly expect any of those things in my immediate future (or not so immediate future for that matter), I mean, I've got three boys! Just because we've yet to take a trip to the emergency room with any of them (even Kyan in 3 1/2 years), KNOCK ON WOOD, doesn't mean there isn't quite a bit of adventure in our future! So for now I suppose I will take it as it comes and keep on climbing! It's totally worth the ride!

Monday, November 8, 2010

My how they've grown!

My boys are 5 months old today. It astounds me how fast these last five months have flown by; especially in comparison to my ten year long pregnancy! I've been reminiscing a lot about Kyan at this age and about the pregnancy with the twins. Check out what I looked like on the day of the twins' birth with my hair braided in preparation for labor (38 weeks exactly):

The strangest thing about the size of my body was my nose. Seriously. My nose grew to amazing proportions. The nurse in the hospital said that it was just water retention. In my nose? I tried to explain to Ben how, even though I knew I was huge, I didn't feel that different in my face until I looked at the pictures in retrospect. Now I see it looks like someone took a bicycle pump and pumped air into my face!

Five months ago today I met these amazing little boys who have completed our family! The ride was a hard one, but despite the struggle it was all worth it in the end. Of course I knew it would be, but I have to say that I had more than a few instances where I was ready to throw in the towel no matter what the consequences. The human body has amazing capacity, that's all I can say!

Here are my pumpkins just hours after being born. I was so wired and in love that I didn't sleep for about 48 hours. I was also astounded that my belly was still so big :)

When we took the twins home I had such a distinctly different experience than I remembered from bringing Kyan home from the hospital. When we drove home with Kyan I sat in the back seat clutching his hands and stroking his face while I feverishly scanned the passing cars and dared them to come anywhere near my precious little bundle. Now, granted, we had an hour long drive on Hawaiian freeways which could undo a person on a good day, compared to the five minute drive on side roads to get the twins home, but still my anxiety levels were on two different ends of the spectrum. I do remember thinking both times: "I can't believe they just let us walk out of the hospital with this (these) baby(ies). What if we don't know what to do once we get home?" Of course we did know what to do. Thank goodness!

Our next challenge was saving the twins from the infinite love of their big brother (a challenge we still face constantly!).

I think Kyan wants to eat the twins up as much as I do, only in 3 year old land that means climbing on them and trying to engulf them with his hugs and kisses. YIKES! Somehow they have survived this love and are thriving, though. They've gone from our swaddled little beans...:

to our big strong boys:

I am really looking forward to, and terrified by the idea of, the boys crawling and walking and talking. I know things will get a lot more challenging when this all starts, but I can't wait to hear what they have to say and see how they experience life.

We've all come a long way and I feel like the countdown is on...in a mere five years all three of my boys will enter school...in just ten years I will have a teenage boy...in fifteen years I will have an eighteen year old boy...and three years later I may have an empty nest (notice I say "may have", I'm not counting my chickens, yet :)

I just want to enjoy them and love them and be the best Mama that I can be. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to stay home and care for my children without working, so I am going to enjoy these moments while they last! Here's to my boys and all of the joy they bring to my life!

my boys plus Quinn :)

Friday, November 5, 2010


So, I haven't been as diligent about this blog as I expected, but I think about it a lot :)
In reference to the last post I would like to report that I have ceased any semblance of sleep training or cry it out. I have even ceased tandem feeding the babies at night. I have reverted to the same techniques I use with Kyan, only times two. Which means that when the babies cry I get them up and bring them to bed with me and feed them (one at a time). When one finishes, if I am still awake, I will return him to his crib. This often means that I have a baby with me in bed more than half the night. The strange thing is that I am actually getting more sleep. I'm not sure how that is and I'm not sure exactly whether or not this method is better, but for now it seems to be. Moving on....
Today I was thinking about Love, Mother Love, to be specific. Every time I pick up one of my boys I kiss, snuggle, and caress him. Every time I get Kyan near I do the same. I have no fear that my boys have any questions about how much they are loved. How on earth could I not love them?
In fact, I love them so much that I often want to eat them. Literally. I have had this conversation with my mother and with many other mothers and it sounds strange every time, yet we all understood and shared this common bond over the simple fact that we actually want to eat our children. They are so delicious and sweet that we want to consume them. It's a really weird thing to say, but a completely logical feeling.
Think about it: we carried these beautiful little beings inside of us for nine long months, then one day they were ripped from out of our body, the cord was severed, and they were on their own. As each month goes by they become more and more independent. It's easy to feel needed by them when they are infants, and I still feel that the twins are attached to me in some tangible way (probably boob to mouth attachment), but then I look at Kyan and I know that it is only a matter of time before the twins will be independent, too.
Don't get me wrong, Kyan needs me, but not like he used to. He now goes into his room in the morning, opens his drawers, chooses his clothing, and dresses himself. That kills me. I love it, but I hate it. It means that he is taking irreversible steps toward being his own independent little human being. One who doesn't need his Mommy anymore.
So, the desire to consume my children is a natural impulse. If I can get them back inside of me then they will always need me...or something like that.
The thing is that I am sure there are mothers with adopted children who also feel the need to consume their children, so I guess the need is really just Love in abundance.
My Mom and I discussed this at length while she was staying with me during my pregnancy with the twins. We wondered if men feel the need to eat their children, too. So, we asked Ben. He didn't really know how to respond, but finally answered that, no, he was pretty sure he had never had the impulse to consume the children. But, not too long after that we were talking about something cute Kyan did as we were going to bed and he told me he might actually have felt the impulse to eat Kyan. I laughed and concluded that this impulse is indeed just overwhelming Love.
I am lucky. Ben is lucky. Our children are lucky....to have such an abundance of love...