Monday, January 26, 2009

another monday sum-up

here we are at monday again... this is our last few days on the east coast with my parents. auntie laurie flew out and made it safely here to snuggle her (enormous) nephews, and since then we've been paying visits to our grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, visiting with our folks, and planing our post-return-to-portland life.

max and shoghi, napping at great-grandma & grandpa's house. as with all babies, sleep is the topic of much discussion over here. so far, the boys continue to sleep first at night in their carseats, which i instituted because they (used to) hate being in the car. (fortunately, this has changed, and they now take much better to being put in the car for both short and long rides.) then when they wake, i transfer them into bed with me. this visit has brought no shortage of people telling me horror stories about babies dying in a shared bed, and at the same time, the boys are starting to move and roll a little. what am i going to do when we get home? i'm not sure. i'm considering cribs, which i thought i might get away without. i'd like to be getting better sleep, though, and i'd also like to see shoghi sleeping a little more deeply at night. similarly, it would be good to have somewhere other than their carseats to nap them during the day. we have a really nice twin graco pack and play, but i think they might have just weighted out of it, since they weigh 15 (shoghi) and 16 (max) pounds now, and i believe the weight limit is 30#. anyway, i clearly have some big decisions to make. i'd love to hear some feedback from co-sleeping families, as well as those who have decided to put their twins in seperate cribs.

my dad, multi-tasking with the boys.

i have to admit, the prospect of being apart from my dad during the day, and my parents in general, has me a little nervous! i've had so much help with the boys, since they were born, really, and now is the time when i will be taking over full care of them. laurie doesn't usually get home from work until 8, and of course then she's exhausted (not to mention the babies had better be asleep by then!), so i don't want to be relying on her for so much assistance. this next stage in my life as a solo parent is really going to be interesting...
hopefully it will not be the test i am fearful of.

shoghi and max have both learned not only how to grasp,
but how to transfer from hand to hand and lift objects to their mouths.

this week, max has mastered the kissy noise, and shoghi is spending much of his awake time trying to blow raspberries and make other souds with his lips and tongue.
this involves a lot of drool, and laughter on the part of the observers.

shoghi has had such a great week, with lots and lots of happy, exuberant awake time. he rolls around, squealing and sticking out his tongue. it's very funny and delightful! poor max, on the other hand, seems to be having a harder week. he's been more fussy than usual, and has been spitting up a lot. then again, during the day, max only naps for about 30 minutes at a time, while shoghi goes down for beautiful 1-2 hour naps.

shoghi has taken to holding his own bottle, a very bitter sweet thing for me. although it's helpful, i don't know if i'm ready for my baby to hold his own bottle. as you know, the very fact of giving them bottles is full of emotion for me. my amount of nursing has definitely decreased over this trip. interestingly, i stoped taking the herbs and am now only on motilium (domperidone), and feel like my supply has actually responded positively to this change. when i can pump, i'm getting about 2-3oz at a time. i'm hoping being alone with the boys and not having to isolate myself will mean that i can pump more. i might also start making my own formula. i'm just so sad that i've had to give them so, so much formula over these past nearly six (!!!) months.

the latest, possibly hare-brained, idea i've had is that perhaps getting the boys to eat some rice cereal and progress to solids may mean that i have to give them fewer bottles, and thus will be able to give them a higher percentage of nursing time to bottle feedings. this combined with their great interest and reaching for food lately lead me to introduce them to their first food - organic brown rice cereal (mixed with some probiotics, thanks korin!) last friday night. they both took to it well, and shoghi really seems to love it! last night he ate the whole 2-oz bowl! the photos are on my mom's camera, so i'll try to get those uploaded tonight. we'll see!

so, that's been our week. i can't believe we're about to head back home; it fills me with such mixed emotions. these boys have really transformed my relationship with my parents and larger family, and i can't help but feel terrible about being so far from them. on the other hand, my life in portland is even better than i had dreamed, and i can't wait to get back and really start shaping my daily life with the boys. that's it for now - i'll try to get some more photos up before we leave, and then it will probably be a while before my next post, since i have to get a new computer in order to do so.

love to all!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

everything is easy, part 2

Whew –I’m exhausted! It goes without saying, doesn’t it? But honestly, even with all the help I have on a daily basis here at my parents’ house, I end the day just wiped out! So, I’m going to multi-task while we watch 24. I don’t want to get on the plane to return home without at least posting about the second leg of our trip here! I hope it makes sense, since I'm not going to be able to go back and edit!


So, there we were, just landed in Chicago from Portland at 9:30pm local time. The boys had done wonderfully on the flight. We were late arriving, and the flight attendant from our flight helped me off the plane (last ones off) and helped me run to the other gate, which was in another terminal. When I got there, though, it was clear that something was amiss – the gate was packed with people. As I did in Portland, I went up to the counter and told the staff that I was traveling alone with my twin babies, and would need some help getting on the plane. The reception was much less friendly, in fact, she basically said “so?” and carried on with her business. It was clear that she and everyone around were overwhelmed and tired, so I just stepped away and started trying to keep the boys calm. There were no seats, and none were offered. The flight was delayed for one hour, then for two, and then finally at midnight, after standing in line for well over an hour, we were all boarded; I went along with all of the others in my zone, since it seemed clear that I wouldn’t be offered any “special treatment.”

While we were all waiting, a woman approached me, telling me about her own 4-month old baby and offering to help. I hung out with her, chatting during the wait, and then she helped me get on the plane, carrying one of the babies for me while I struggled on board with all the extra crap I was carrying. A kind man even put his coat around me and Shoghi while we were all stopped, waiting on the breezeway to get on the plane. Once on the plane, disaster struck. The flight attendants were trying to board the plane in just 10 minuted to the pilot would still be able to fly, and announced repeatedly over the loudspeaker that the passengers should push their way onto the plane. They actually told us to push and shove each other out of the way in order to get to our seats – three times. When at last everyone was seated (and presumably unharmed), the waiting began, and eventually the pilot timed out (the gate crew was even pissed at him – they said he didn’t want to fly and created delays just so they’d have to ditch the flight), and we all had to trudge off again.

Back in the airport, now at 1am, the waiting really began, as it became clear that we wouldn’t be flying out until 6am. Rather than stand in that horrid line to be reticketed, I just called the airline directly and learned that we’d all been assigned a flight anyway. I told Rebecca, my angelic helper, and then spotted a 70-something Chinese woman waiting in line who clearly had no idea what was going on. I introduced myself to her, asking if she spoke English, and when she said no, I told her in Chinese that I could help her out. So she joined me and Rebecca and we all began the long night of waiting on benches with no food, accommodation, or kindness from the airline. I resolved to keep myself positive, even though I had already run out of expressed breastmilk and was running low on both formula and diapers. It worked – the boys pretty much slept through the whole night. Rebecca and Mrs. Liu also took turns sleeping, while I kept myself up to watch over our belongings and the boys.

The next series of delays unfolded in the morning, much to my despair. I managed to get through the whole night, sitting up, attending the babies, trying to keep warm, without becoming disheartened, but when the delays started piling up at 5:30am, I started to get a bit antsy. I knew the babies would be up soon, and really, desperately wanted to get home. At one point, Rebecca went up to the new gate crew and pointed me out to them, asking again if I might be able to get on the plane early to get the boys settled in the seat. The response to her was one of the worst ever – the man told her that the airline no longer offers preboarding for families, and who was she to ask, anyway? Had I paid more for my ticket than others on the plane? She told him that we’d been there in the gate for 9 hours, and were exhausted, and then he said “well, that’s not my fault”! I don’t know, folks, where has the simple act of doing your job gone? Why the rudeness? If you can’t do something, just say it – you don’t have to be insulting or mean.

In the end, Rebecca and Mrs. Liu and I all sat together in one, crowded row of our flight from Chicago to Boston, which left at 9am, a full day after my travel adventure began. They were completely charming, wonderful people to help us as they did, despite their own weariness (Mrs. Liu had traveled that day from Taiwan, and Rebecca had been delayed in Chicago for almost 24 hours). Even though I could have done it without them, it really wouldn’t have been the same. This trip will forever prove to me that I can travel alone with the boys, and that even where there are obstacles, we will find kindness and assistance when we need it.

So, clearly, the last stage of the trip kind of sucked. There was exhaustion, terrible, terrible customer service, delays, and more exhaustion. Once we got into Boston, I burst into tears to see my mom waiting for us at the gate. From there, the boys really lost their tolerance for travel, and cried most of the way from Boston to the Cape, but we made it. We made it by the grace of God, and by the help and kindness of strangers, and a lot of patience. I’m glad I did it, but I’ll tell you this – the first thing I did after settling in here was to buy my sister a plane ticket so she can fly back with us when we return to Portland next week.

Hopefully my next travel post will simply be “everything was easy,” and be no more than a couple of happy paragraphs long. :o)

Monday, January 12, 2009

monday roundup

5 months, one day old.

I'm taking a cue from this mama, and am throwing aside all my grand ideas of a big, eloquent catch-up post.

  • the blossoming has begun. i have always felt like being with babies starting at about 2-3 months old was like watching a flower slowly open, and my own boys have really begun this process of unfolding. it was a major reason i have wanted to have children myself - to be a part of this magical becoming-a-person. i am so thrilled to watch and participate in this with maxwell and shoghi.

they are so much more in tune to the world, imitate facial expressions and sounds, grab and grasp at objects and now bring these objects to their mouths. it's magical every day (even when it's not, lol).
swatchy came with us on vacation, thanks to laurie, who sent him to us via UPS!
  • laughter has descended on our little family! max uttered his first delighted giggle on 12/26 for me, while we were visiting my grandma & grandpa, and then shoghi first laughed for his memere on 12/26 while she was playing with him. did you know that the navajo have a first laugh ceremony?? how wonderful!
  • along with laughter, the boys have really started to love using their voices. they love to screech, gurgle, and make all kinds of other undefinable sounds. it's so much fun!
  • the boys hit their FIVE MONTH BIRTHDAY on 1/8, and to give proper fanfare for the date, they both spent the evening rolling over! it was max's first time, and shoghi's rediscovery of this skill he first played with a few months ago. shoghi is making all the moves towards (gasp) crawling, and max isn't far behind. they're both rising way up at a 90* angle during tummy time.
  • this week, they also discovered each other. what a joy! they look at each other now, and shoghi was even laughing at max yesterday. i'm just so excited to watch their relationship develop.
  • sleep - dare i mention sleep? well, it changes a LOT, but for the most part, they're sleeping from 9pm until about 9am, with 2 wake-ups in between. we start the night with them each sleeping in a car seat (they sleep in them because it's easy to move them upstairs when i go to bed, and because they used to hate them so much, i figured it would be a good idea to get the twins used to being in them). when they wake up (if they wake up), i bring them into bed after feeding them. then we get us somewhere between 5 and 7am for the next feeding, and then go back to sleep until 8 or 9. there is a lot of variability, including sometimes several nights in a row of much reduced sleep, but this is the general picture.
  • nursing. sigh. nursing is my biggest success and my biggest failure. it's the thing i will have to heal from, in much the same way that many women process and heal after trying for a vaginal birth and end up having a c-section, i suppose. let's just say for now that i persist, giving both boys lact-aids when i can, bottles when i have to, and shoghi nurses throughout the night. it has been a very challenging and disappointing journey for me... a seperate post is certainly warrented for this subject. i don't plan to start any solid foods until after they are 6 months adjusted age (2 months from now), so this current setup will continue to be our strategy for a while.

so, that's about it! did i miss anything? lmk in comments and i'll address it in the next post.
love to all,

Monday, January 5, 2009

knit together

One of the things that has happened since becoming the (single) mother of twin boys is that I've found it very challenging to keep up with some of my most cherished friends.

Today, nearly 5 months since the day of their birth, I read a blog post that brought me to tears... please check out this post that celebrated the completion of an amazing feat of knitting and its connection to us. This is all the more poignant for the daily journey that accompanies both of our stories - hers being a long-term struggle and daily triumph over CFIDS, and mine the unlikely set of circumstances, losses and victories that have bought me into motherhood. She may not always perceive her story as victorious, but believe me, it is. She in a support and inspiration to countless people, and over the years has taught me how to be a better friend.

And while I'm celebrating friends, let me send a shout out to jencat - I want her to know that I did get her message and just haven't had time to respond! I've had a string of unresponded-to emails, for which I feel regretful on a daily basis... If you are among them, please know that your messages are tucked warmly in my heart and eventually I will get back to you - somehow... sometime...

Friday, January 2, 2009

everything is easy, part 1

Here I am, with my reporting of traveling cross-country with 4-month old twins. I’m trying to squeeze this in between all the busy-ness of caring for the boys, so forgive if it’s not well thought-out. Also, I didn’t take any photos while we were traveling, sorry!

First, I will admit that I’m a “Secret” junkie, and this did inform my approach to the trip. A couple of years ago, I was coached to approach my day with mantras like “the sun is shining and the grass is green” and “everything is easy.” The latter has stuck with me, and it is what I reach for when I do things that, from the outside, might seem insane. Like traveling alone with my twins.

For starters, I got a fast-moving stomach flu the day before we were set to travel. Because of this, and because I didn’t know whether the boys would get sick or not, I first thought I would have to travel on a different day, but in the end, I just missed my 6am flight out. To make a long story a little shorter, I ended up traveling on the same day as planned, but we got on a 2pm flight instead. Because things were less than ideal, I started in on my mantra…. Everything is easy…. Everything is easy…. Everything is easy.

Our friend and doula, E, came with much grace with us to the airport, and thank heavens she was able to. I can’t imagine how I would have gotten my luggage into the airport, as I had to carry one baby in a carrier, push the other in the car seat snap-and-go stroller, and also push the luggage cart, bearing two large suitcases and, two car seat bases, and the second car seat. We got into the airport, checked the bags, and then found out that E would not be allowed (by the airline) a pass to accompany me to the gate – something I had been assured was standard practice by both the airline and the Portland airport prior to our travel date. Point of Advice #1 – I learned this from a blog I used to follow (Better Make it a Double) – when traveling with young twins, dress them especially cutely – you will attract positive attention and assistance. We parted ways at the security check, where I was met by our first angel, a TSA agent who brought us aside to a much shorter line and helped me get all the gear (2 diaper bags, 2 blankets, fleece suits for both of the boys, my winter coat) out of the stroller, get the stroller and the car seat and my shoes and the baby carrier onto the conveyer belt, and the get through the metal detector (holding both boys). Point of Advice #2 – You may think you need to bring 2 diaper bags, but try not to. You’ll be surprised by the amount of stuff you never have to touch. Nice to Know #1 – I brought a full day supply of expressed (donated) breastmilk with me. I had read on the TSA website that this would not be tested, nor would I have to taste it for the agents as long as I separated it from my other items at Security. This proved to be true – I had no problem carrying this liquid with me. So, anyway, with the help of this very sweet and loving woman, I made it through Security, repacked my stuff, and went to the gate.

At the gate, I went up to the counter and told the airline rep my situation (traveling alone with twins) and that I would definitely need someone to help me get both babies on board. This woman was so kind – she actually left the counter in her quiet moments and came and sat with me in the gate area, even giving one of the boys a bottle. She helped me onto the plane before boarding any other passengers, and went as far as looking up the passenger who was supposed to sit next to us and assigned him another seat (with his permission), giving us the whole row. What a kind and wonderful woman! Everything is easy!

On the plane, we had the serendipitous luck of being seated across the aisle from a mom traveling with her nine-year-old fraternal twin boys. She was nostalgic about having twin babies and was eager to help me. She ended up holding either one of the boys for that whole flight! Her boys were totally charmed at the thought of themselves as Max and Shoghi. We managed to anticipate their needs and honestly, there wasn’t even a full two minutes of crying in the whole 6 hours we were on that plane.

The other thing that happened on that flight was a departure delay, for which passengers were allowed to get off the plane. Because the people sitting behind me had paid us friendly attention when they boarded, I asked them to buy me a sandwich when they got off to get some food. Thank God I did – that would be the last food I would eat for more than 12 hours (it was also the first food I’d eaten in 36 hours because of that flu!). Point of Advice #3 – Say YES! Traveling with twins gives one many opportunities to exercise trust in humanity. I was lucky to always be offered help, so I didn’t have to ask strangers for assistance, but by saying yes and finding small things they actually could do to help me, the trip was much, much easier. I had people to hold babies, get me food, and watch a twin while I went to the washroom. The last was probably the scariest – trusting people with the babies in my absence – but because I had connected with multiple people, I could feel comfortable that the group was actually watching out for the baby… and on a plane, where’s anyone going to go, anyway? Nice to Know #2 – neither of the airplanes I flew on had changing tables in the airplane lavatories. This was a complete shock to me. I had to change a messy diaper right on my seat! Point of Advice #4 – put your babies in overnight disposable diapers in case you end up stuck on a plane and can’t change them!

And so, even though we were delayed on the plane for over an hour, and the flight itself took nearly 6, the first leg of our trip was remarkably successful. Even the flight attendant was fabulous - when we got in late to Chicago, she came with me herself to the next gate, allowing me to take the staff elevator to save some time getting to the other terminal. We were surrounded by lovely, truly helpful people, and even with the mishaps (not having E at the gate with me, flight delay), everything was easy!

It's almost 10:30pm, and I still have to get things ready for bed (the boys are mercifully sleeping right now), so I should go. I'll come back another time with Part 2, in which I end up stranded in Chicago overnight with my small baby boys...