Monday, December 25, 2006

We have seen a great light

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness -- on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us, authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9:2-4, 6-7

This year, the tears at Midnight Mass were of joy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

First things first

I have about two hundred separate things I need to get done before leaving for the Coast tomorrow afternoon, including but not limited to: a) finishing the Doctor Who knitted hat for my BIL; b) finishing the crocheted shrug I was intending to wear on Christmas; c) begin and finish the Moebius scarf for G's grandmother; d) sundry domestic chores like laundry and packing; e) wrapping the presents in the really cute wrapping style I saw in Real Simple; f) acquiring the appropriate wrapping supplies for e). Therefore, it should be no surprise whatsoever that I am doing g) none of the above, and posting the First Lines meme to leave you with over Christmas.

January: I knew my New Year's Eve Eve Party was going to go perfectly when I went to get in the shower that afternoon and discovered that the Red Horse had arrived.
February: I just got the final beta: 2567 @ 20DPO, for a doubling time of 38 hours (down from 35 hours between #1 and 2).
March: Babies still alive: check
April: Someone or other, I don't remember who, made a snarky comment once about a woman knitting baby things at the RE, and I thought, omigosh, that's me, and felt like a real asshat.
May: So, in the two weeks since we found out the Pixels are girls, we've had approximately five hundred and thirty-seven separate arguments about baby names.
June: We went to a barbecue on Memorial Day, hosted by one of my fellow CS students.
July: I haven't been quiet because anything's wrong, just because I haven't had much to say lately.
August: I'm home alone tonight, for the first time in a long time.
September: I really thought we were going to have Pixels last night, but after 14+ hours in the hospital, I'm home again, with the babies still in my belly rather than my arms.
October: As part of the babies' birth announcement on my old blog, I posted that they were eating and growing well.
November: When you're pregnant, everyone tells you that your whole life is about to change.
December: So, y'know how I mentioned that the babies had a cold, and then that I had caught it, and then that it had turned into the Evil Death Plague?

A very merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A room of one's own

Four years ago, when my best friend was pregnant, one of our other close friends and I co-hosted her baby shower. At her request, we got her the Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper, and when she thanked us she told us that she hoped we'd both borrow it from her when our times came. M did indeed use it for her second child, but it then served as a laundry basket at M's house for a long time, while my time failed to come.

(Side note: chronologically speaking, I didn't actually spend a very long time in the infertility trenches. However, we had had to delay TTC longer than planned, as we went to add maternity coverage to my self-employed person's insurance and were told that there was a nine-month waiting period. Altogether, it took almost two years from the time we decided we wanted to have a baby to the positive beta. It felt like a long, teary time of childlessness even though we weren't actively trying to get pregnant for much of it.)

As soon as I did get pregnant, I knew I wanted the babies to co-sleep with us for the first couple of months. I was hell-bent on breastfeeding from the very beginning, and I knew that having them in our bedroom would be essential for that. Their sleeping in bed with us was never an option -- not only is it a lot harder to share a family bed with twinfants, but my husband is a dangerously heavy sleeper, and it wouldn't have been safe. So the co-sleeper was the perfect option, and we had it set up and waiting for us when we came home from the hospital.

I never did manage the ideal of rolling over and nursing without really waking all the way up. For one, breastfeeding was just too complicated in the beginning for me to do it without a lot of focus, especially if I tried to tandem-nurse. For another, the co-sleeper wound up being on my husband's side of the bed; the first week home, I couldn't scoot down past it to get out of bed because of my c-section incision, and we just never got around to moving it after that. Still, it was the ideal solution to having them in the room and close to us while they were waking to nurse in the night.

We knew we didn't want the babies to stay in the room with us long-term, though. Several of our friends are struggling with getting their four- and five-year-olds out of the family bed; while I know that infant co-sleeping doesn't necessarily cause problems with toddlers and post-toddlers, and that sleep problems can develop later even if infants don't co-sleep, it is certainly a battle that's easier to fight if the expectation is that the children will sleep in their own room. My husband was (as I think most husbands are) somewhat more eager to get them out of the bedroom than I was, since he associated that with beginning to relate to each other again as husband and wife, rather than as mother and father or husband and pregnant whale.

I flat-out refused to even consider putting the girls in the nursery as long as I was going back to sleep after feedings -- I'm lazy, the nursery is upstairs, and the setup isn't really good for nursing infants. However, when they started sleeping through the night, I didn't have a good reason not to put them in the nursery any more, or at least not one that was about their needs. With different children, I might take a different approach, but the fact is that my girls are ideal candidates to sleep by themselves. Once they go down, they sleep fairly solidly, can soothe themselves back to sleep if they do partially awaken, wake up for good at a decent hour, and amuse themselves with their crib toys for a while.

I considered doing a gradual transition to upstairs, but ultimately decided that it would be easiest to just take a deep breath and put them up there for the night. Last night, we cleared out the outgrown preemie and newborn clothes that I was storing in one of the cribs (and oh, how tiny those little clothes seem, just a few weeks later). We rocked them until they were well and truly asleep, then carried them upstairs (much to the amusement of the poodles) and tucked them into the crib. Then we turned around and came downstairs, and I may possibly have cried a little bit -- upstairs seems so far away, I worried I wouldn't hear them over the baby monitor, and developmental milestones always make me a little sad.

The babies themselves took it completely in stride, sleeping through the night as usual. I woke up at 8 AM to the sound of them cooing and chatting, and nearly ran upstairs to see them. You wouldn't think you could miss them when they're just in another part of the house, but it seems that in fact you can, and I did.

To me, putting them in the nursery was the second step of their becoming independent people, which you could look at as a series of losses. First they're removed from your body, then from your bedroom, next from your breasts, later from your house when they start school, from your exclusive influence when they're teenagers, and ultimately from your authority when they become adults. I feel like it's already gone so fast thus far, like I blinked and found three months had passed, and I'm afraid that toddlerhood and childhood are just another blink or two away. I'm trying hard to hold onto every last sweet moment of it, but every milestone they reach reminds me that it's a losing battle.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pretty good year

So, I'm 30 today. Despite a little moaning and groaning about how I'm all old now, I'm actually having a really happy day. It's not that I've gotten any flowers or fantastic presents (yet!), though my husband did manage to remember un-prompted that it was my birthday, no mean feat from the man who routinely forgets his own. It's more that this birthday is such a happier birthday than my last one.

Last year, when I got a cancelled Clomid cycle for my birthday, I was in the middle of the worst holiday season of my life. I usually love December, but there just wasn't any joy in it for me to find. I was so depressed, not to mention sick, that I didn't even get my tree decorated until the day after Christmas -- yes, pointless, but I needed it done for my annual holiday cocktail party. Just weeks later, I would get pregnant off our first IUI, but I had no way to know that, and not enough hope to imagine it.

This year, I'm spending my birthday peacefully at home, with nobody sticking needles or ultrasound probes in me. Instead of just the dogs for company, I'm typing this post while holding one of my daughters, listening to the other one coo at a mirror. Tonight, instead of a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant -- which felt so lonely last year with just the two of us -- we'll take the girls to go pick out a Christmas tree.

Yep, I'd say it's the best birthday ever.


Speaking of Christmas, we had a holiday dilemna arise last night. See, the babies are really into sitting up (with assistance, they're not even rolling over on their own yet), so I ordered them some Bumbo seats. They arrived yesterday, and now G wants to give them to the girls today and let them start using, while I wanted to wrap them up and put them under the tree. I see his point, which is that the girls will enjoy them now and don't know what Christmas is anyway. Still, it's important to me that they have something under the tree, that we can take pictures of and tell them about their first Christmas. We compromised on letting the girls start using the seats, then wrapping them up and opening them; it sounds wrong overall, but it gives everyone what they want.

What are you doing for Christmas with your too-young-for-Santa babies?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Slap me silly

... or, why Olan Mills sucks.

So, y'know how I mentioned that the babies had a cold, and then that I had caught it, and then that it had turned into the Evil Death Plague? I'm *finally* starting to recover from it, after two weeks of being pretty damned sick. That's a fairly typical pattern with me -- even the mildest colds turn into sinus infections and bronchitis -- but this time was really bad, enough that I even needed a steroid shot to help ease my breathing. I even had to cancel my oral comprehensive exams for my master's, which were supposed to be today -- I didn't think I would be up to taking a three-hour oral exam, and as it happens, I'm probably not. I still feel somewhat knocked-down and achy, and I'm still hoarse and phlegm-y; I was well enough yesterday to attempt leaving the house for the first time in a week, but it felt like a real ordeal, and I was exhausted afterwards.

The babies too have been sort of off-and-on sick, not enough for me to take them to the doctor, but enough that I've done a lot of temperature checking and snot-sucking. They have mostly been in good spirits about it, but there have been a few cranky days, and a few days where they just seemed kind of droopy. Yesterday was a cranky day, and today seems to be a droopy one -- they're on their second two-hour nap of the day, and it's only 1 PM.

As it happens, though, they developed a new symptom yesterday, one that enabled me to finally figure out what was going on. When we got home from our outing (a birthday lunch for my mom), I noticed that Katherine's cheeks were a bit red, but I just thought she'd gotten too hot, so I stripped her down to a onesie. After a bit, though, I noticed that her cheeks were redder still, but she didn't feel hot -- her hands and feet were actually cold. Then I looked over at Claire, who had only one red cheek, and it hit me... it looks like someone's slapped her! We've got fifth disease!

I checked the Internet and talked to the pediatrician, and we seem to have a textbook case of it -- the mild cold and low-grade fever, followed by the characteristic slapped-cheek rash. It doesn't really make all that much practical difference, since fifth disease is viral (a form of parvovirus), and we should be past the contagious stage at this point. Still, it makes me happy that I've got something to point at and say, that's what we've got.

The girls are likely to look like they've gotten into my makeup for at least another week or so, which is only a headache because I have got to take a decent photograph of them this weekend. See, Olan Mills apparently can't manage to get Christmas cards of pictures taken in mid-November ready quickly enough for me to send them out, oh, before Christmas. I've ordered some cute photo-holder cards from a client of mine, and I thought, oh, I'll just put the digital camera to work myself. But now, it looks like I'll be photographing some unusually rosy-cheeked babies, and I'm not sure my relatively meager Photoshop skills are up to correcting them.

So, if it hadn't been for the various screwups of Olan Mills, I wouldn't have to take my own photos, and the babies wouldn't be all rashy, and I wouldn't have spent two weeks being really freakin' sick, or had to put off my exam. Did I mention Olan Mills sucks?