Thursday, November 30, 2006


Nico asked about whether my girls were on a routine yet, and while I wouldn't exactly say we are, but I wouldn't say we're not, either. They don't do the same thing at the same time every day, but I've started to be able to pick out some general patterns. This makes me happy, since I'm the routine-oriented type in general, but I also felt strongly about waiting for the girls to develop it themselves rather than imposing a Babywise-style schedule on them.

Since I love reading about other twin moms' routines (or lack thereof), and since my cold has evolved into the Evil Death Plague and I am too sick to do anything useful, I figured I'd post about it rather than just reply in comments. I hope this doesn't bore anyone to death, but I went through a phase where I really wanted to know what other moms' days looked like on an hour-by-hour breakdown, so that's what we'll do.

We usually wake up for the day between 8 and 9 am, a luxury we have because I'm now a SAHM/freelancer. I nurse both girls separately, which takes 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how hungry they are, how lazily they eat, and how much I play with them. After their breakfast, it's my turn, so I put them in their bouncy seats and let them look out the window while I eat, shower, and usually read email for a bit. Sometimes Katherine falls asleep in her bouncy seat, but Claire almost always stays awake, because she loves looking at things -- her mobile, the tree outside, the bookcase.

They are ready for their next feeding two hours after the first one, like clockwork, so we nurse again for another 30-60 minutes. After this, they are usually starting to think about naptime. If they're drowsy or asleep at the end of nursing/rocking, they get swaddled and put down in the co-sleeper. If they're somewhat awake, I rock them a little bit more, but after that I put them down even if they aren't entirely out, because I want them to sometimes fall asleep by themselves. This is one of those things I might not do if I only had one baby, but twins sometimes just have to be a little more independent, for the sake of everyone's sanity.

Of course, if they're wide awake and wanting to play, there's no sense in putting them down to lie awake in the crib, so we delay naptime until after the next feeding, in another two hours. Once they do go down, they are usually out for two hours or so, then wake up and eat again. On a good day, they both do this at the same time, but of course that's not always how it works, and there are plenty of days I juggle babies all afternoon.

After the Big Nap, the rest of the afternoon doesn't yet seem to have any consistency to it. They eat roughly every two hours and sleep some more, but it's in half-hour or hour naps, with no predictable time. When they're awake, sometimes they are content to be by themselves in the bouncy seat or pack-n-play if I have to get stuff done. More often, though, they want to be interacted with, especially after 4-5 pm when they tend to get fussy.

In the beginning, I was a little lost as to what to do with them when they were awake, but I'm starting to figure it out. Sometimes we read books, sing songs, or play with toys (they like rattles and mirrors right now, and will watch them intently). Sometimes we go for walks, or rock in the rocking chair, or just snuggle with Mama.

Just as often, though, I involve them in going about my own business, especially if only one twin is awake. I discovered that you don't have to focus on amusing the baby all the time for the baby to be amused. Sitting in the sling while Mama folds laundry is entertaining, as is being held while Mama surfs or reads or codes. Lately, I've been putting them on the bed with me and studying -- they like to watch the shiny pencil move, and listen to me grumble about compilers. They also enjoy watching me knit, probably because of the bright yarn and the shiny moving needles. I really like doing this kind of stuff, as it involves them in life without necessarily revolving around them all the time. In fact, Claire's "helping" me write this post right now, as she was fighting off the Big Nap.

Things start getting predictable again sometime after 6 PM. On a good day, Daddy is home to spend a little time with them, but the bedtime wind-down starts with the feeding after 6 PM (which, depending on the day, may happen anywhere from 6 to 7:30). I really encourage each of them to eat as much as possible -- talking to them to keep them awake, putting them back on the nipple even if they fall off, that sort of thing. After that, it's time for the Weapon of Bath Destruction! I bathe them every day, less because they need it than because it makes them sleepy. I think this is partly because of the Johnson's Bedtime Lotion I rub on them, which I put in the bathwater to warm up. After bath, it's into a clean sleeper, and then swaddled up and put to bed. I rock them and sing to them, but again, I don't always do it until they're asleep.

Once they're down for the night, they usually stay that way until early morning. Depending on bedtime, they will wake up between 4 and 6, most commonly around 5, for a feeding. (Actually, I think they wake up more often than that and put themselves back to sleep -- I sometimes hear little noises and wake to see them stick their hands in their mouth. I don't think it's coincidence that they started sleeping through about the same time they got good at finding their fingers.) I treat this feeding like a night feeding -- no diaper change unless it's desperate, no lights, no talking, straight back to bed afterwards -- and go back to sleep myself for a couple more hours. Our day then starts over when they wake up and start cooing and talking in their crib.

So, there you have it, a complete picture of my life with three-month-old twins. I hope this is helpful to other twin moms!

Monday, November 27, 2006


The sleeping-through-the-night thing seems to be becoming a habit, despite all the Thanksgiving upheaval. Right now, they're sleeping every other night -- Monday night, Wednesday night, Friday night, and Sunday night -- with only one night waking on the others. I've also relaxed my modified-demand-feeding schedule somewhat for the night feedings we do have, since it seems that one baby will sometimes sleep through even if the other one wakes. Previously, I'd always feed the second baby after the first one finished, even if it meant waking her up, since if I didn't it was guaranteed she'd wake up an hour later. It may seem like a small thing, waking to feed one baby instead of two, but it's one less time I have to wake up from my night-nursing doze and get out of bed.

Now, we're working on getting them to bed a little bit later, so that they'll wake up a little later. If they go down at 7-8, they will wake up around 5, although they will go back to sleep until 8 after eating. However, I'm a night person, and I have a hard time going down early enough to get 7-8 uninterrupted hours of sleep. Even five or six hours is lovely -- I don't think I've gotten that much sleep since, oh, April -- but if I can shift their bedtime back some, I can sleep when they do and wake up for good at 6ish.

Amazingly, the sleep doesn't seem to have been disturbed too much by their first cold. I took them down to my in-laws' on Tuesday, and noticed that they were sneezy, which I blamed on the cats -- they have two mostly-indoor cats, and given that our poodles are relatively non-allergenic, I just figured it was a slight stress on their systems. The sneezing and snotting got worse, though, and they developed low-grade fevers, so I'm pretty sure they picked something up at the photographer's last Sunday. Neither was very sick or very miserable, but now G and I have it, and it's less than fun.

Oh, well, at least it held off enough for us to have a wonderful Thanksgiving with G's family and mine. The girls were the stars of the show -- they're smiling at people now, and it's more adorable than I thought anything could be. Katherine has a coy little smile, and Claire has an enormous gummy grin, with attendant cooing and squealing that I think will be a real laugh very soon.

I'm so unspeakably thankful that I have my beloved babies, and this holiday season feels so joyful to me. It's a sharp contrast to last year's misery, when my Clomid cycle went bust, and I was ill and stressed and depressed and physically and emotionally broken. I'm a little stressed this year too -- holiday prep, comprehensive exams, work stuff -- but there's a deep and underlying happiness holding me up, thanks to my very own little miracles.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Bedtime last night: 9 PM
Next time they woke up: 5 AM

Yep, I'd call that sleeping through the night!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Where I've been

I've been slightly jealous of everyone who's doing NaBloPoMo lately. I've never been the daily-posting type, but I have so many things to tell you all right now -- quitting my job! baby smiles! breastfeeding horror stories! two-month checkups! baptisms! baby sleep schedules! There are about ten posts floating around in my head, and I would've loved to have a motivating force to post every day, but I knew it wouldn't be realistic to do that in November, since I've been a single mom for about three weeks now.

No, G and I haven't split up, nothing horrible like that, but something has most definitely come between us -- his job. G's a computer programmer, just like I am (was? identity crisis here...), and he's been in a major deadline crunch due to the complete revamp of his company's website/ordering system/customer management system. The original deadline was October 1, which got pushed back to November 1, which got pushed back a couple more times, until it turned into today.

Accordingly, he's been working eighty-hour weeks since October, and the last three weeks have been more like 100-120 hours. There have been plenty of nights where he didn't come home at all, and on most of the others he's gotten home between 1 and 3 -- it's a red-letter day when he makes it home before midnight. He sometimes catches me in the middle of a night feeding and helps soothe or diaper a baby, but other than that, I've been completely on my own.

Being a single mom of infant twins is just about as much fun as it sounds like. Thankfully, I'm no longer working outside the home, so I can pretty much let the babies determine the shape of my days. I nap when they nap (and sometimes when they don't, but are content to lie down with me), so I'm getting enough rest at least, and that's keeping me sane. Some days, though, I'm about ready to cry when I think I've finally gotten them both to sleep and one wakes up (and usually wakes the other). They continue to be remarkably easy babies, but they require more interaction these days than they did as sleepy newborns, and I am clearly outnumbered.

I have handled it well for the most part, but I don't have many more days of patience left in me. Last night was the first time I really felt frantic, when they stayed awake way too long and got overtired and even putting them in the car didn't work (they'd be content as long as we were moving, then cry at every stoplight). I finally brought them by G's office, a habit I've gotten into after he went five days without seeing them awake at all, then came home and deployed the Weapon of Bath Destruction. They were more or less asleep by midnight, but I nearly cried when I came into the bedroom to go down myself and saw Claire's eyes crack halfway open. I thought to myself, I can't do this for more than another week or so, and I was pathetically happy when I called G at 7:45 am to hear that the website had successfully deployed.

I've tried really hard not to be bitter, because I do understand what he's going through. It's an unfortunate feature of our business, these insane release marathons, and I've been through my share of them -- June 2004 and November 2000 are completely missing from my personal history. I've gotten so physically burned out that it took my wrists months of physical therapy and steroids to recover, and so mentally burned out that I left the consulting world and took a "real job". And it's not like I didn't know this was coming -- it was made very clear when he was interviewing in May that this was coming, and I'm grateful that it's happened now rather than when I was busy giving birth.

I've been as supportive as I know how to be -- I've brought G food and clean clothes, woken up to rub his neck, even baked batches of cookies for all the programmers. (Which really threw me for a loop, realizing that I am the cookie-baking stay-at-home-mom of Hillary Clinton fame...) G tells me that he knows how non-fun it is for me, and while I don't deny that, I make sure to tell him that I'm not mad about it and that I'm coping OK, and that I hate seeing it be so tough on him. Still, though, the little voice asking if it's my turn yet has been getting louder and louder.

Fortunately, it is almost over. G will continue to have another tough week or two, but it should die back down to the eighty-hour level, and I expect it'll be more or less normalized by Christmas. This still leaves me largely alone to deal with the evening fussies, but at least I feel like the end is in sight, and I'll get my husband back soon. He came home at 5:30 PM today -- actually, I went and picked him up, because he was too tired to drive -- and even though he promptly zonked out on the couch, it still felt like a parenting team again. I even got to go to Wal-Mart without either taking the girls with me or calling my mom to come watch them (a subject for yet another unwritten post)! I know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was freakin' awesome not to have to deal with the cart plus double stroller, or the fifty million comments from strangers.

Oh, and did I mention I'm also studying for comprehensive exams for my computer science MS, which are scheduled for 12/7, and trying to do the odd bit of consulting work? Oh, well, at least my life isn't dull!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shape of this mother

When you're pregnant, everyone tells you that your whole life is about to change. I understood that, knew that the tangibles (house/car/job/sleep schedule) and the intangibles (motivations/hopes/dreams) were about to get major revisions, and I was fine with that. What I'm not sure I really *got*, deep down, is that the minute those babies were lifted out of me, I would turn into a different person altogether. Sure, this new me shares a lot with the old me, but right now, it's still easier to see the differences. It's not a bad thing, exactly, but I am still in the process of getting to know this strange new me.

To some extent, I mean that literally, what with the changes in my appearance. For starters, I am no longer blonde, for the first time in nearly 30 years. I was born a strawberry blonde, which turned to white-blonde after a few months, then darkened to golden blonde in later childhood and stayed there throughout my teens. By the time I was 21, it had darkened enough that I decided it was time to add some highlights, and as it kept darkening, I kept coloring it. With the pregnancy, my roots began to get very dark indeed, and I started thinking about just letting it go to its natural color. Three weeks ago, I finally took the plunge, and had it dyed a light brown which we think is more or less what it will grow out to be. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike it -- it's a good color for me, not unflattering at all -- and I love that I won't have to spend time or money maintaining it. But even after three weeks, I still pass by the mirror and wonder where the girl with the long golden hair went.

The new brown-haired me doesn't have quite the same body, either, and this is a change I don't care for. I'm still 7 lbs up from my pre-cycle weight (which itself is 25 lbs up from pre-infertility), a loss of 45+ lbs in the eight weeks since delivery. Some of this loss is water (of which I gained a ton those last few weeks), some is baby/amniotic fluid, but I've lost about 15 lbs of actual fat, thanks to the magic diet plan that is nursing twins. However, my body isn't shaped the same as it was the last time I was at this weight. I have less muscle tone, thanks to a year of no exercise and a couple months of modified bedrest. I have stretch marks on my belly, not as many as some twin moms, but enough to make me sad. I have a thicker waist, with stretched-out ab muscles that don't quite seem to have shrunk back to normal size. I have E-cup boobs, which stretch the bounds of size XL shirts and make me look ridiculously top-heavy. I don't have bigger feet, as so many mothers do, but my finger joints seem to be bigger, and my wedding rings will have to be resized. Diet and exercise will help fix some of these things, but I think some of them are permanent. They're very small things, in the grand scheme, but I'm still not thrilled about them.

Another distressing physical change is my left knee, which I injured in a skiing accident in high school. I tore up the cartilage and partially tore the ACL, and had surgery to clean up the cartilage. With physical therapy, and then the weightlifting I'd been doing in the last couple of years, it was actually in pretty good shape -- looser than the right knee, to be sure, but the strong muscles helped compensate for the ligament laxity. With the pregnancy, though, I noticed that it was feeling awfully weak. I wrote it off to relaxin and weighing as much as a small elephant, but it's actually gotten worse after delivery. I can't comfortably cross my legs, sit indian-style, or draw the leg up toward my body, and there's a noticeable give when the dogs bump into my legs. I'm afraid that the ligament has loosened more again, and that I'm now doing cartilage damage. I've made an ortho appointment for November 20, at which I suspect he will either send me to physical therapy or want to do more surgery. I have to say, as a mother of infant twins, the prospect of knee surgery strikes fear into my heart!

Emotionally, I've changed a lot as well, but these changes I like. I feel so much more relaxed these days, and I really notice the absence of worry. I've spent at least a few minutes of every day for the last year and a half worried about some aspect of fertility and pregnancy. That has gone away, and mothering woes haven't moved in to take its place. I'm not finding things particularly complicated -- the babies only need feeding, diapering, and loving. Some of these things are time-consuming and even painful, but it is very clear what needs doing, and all I have to do is execute to the best of my ability. Mostly because of sheer dumb luck (enough sleep, easy babies, no PPD), I'm able to do that pretty well, and so I feel sure-footed in this mothering gig. It's still tiring, and I haven't particularly liked flying solo all week (G is on deadline and has worked until 2-3 AM all week), but I'm doing the best job I can. All of that translates into confidence, which certainly isn't something I thought I'd find in motherhood, and which feels like such a gift.