Friday, July 24, 2009

departure

Oh, thank everything good and holy that we are leaving in a couple of days. I couldn't be more stressed out right now, and I'm hoping that our leave from home will also bring a departure from some of the routines and unknowns that are bringing me down.

Sleep, my friends, continues to be my nemesis. I don't know why I bother struggling with it, either, since for most of my friends, children and sleep is a constant issue. There are those people whose beautiful children sleep perfectly, though, and leave me feeling like a complete failure when it comes to getting a peaceful night for the three of us. I hope that the big time change, plus the disruption in sleep for the travel day, all work in our favor and some clear solution presents itself.

Aside from that (and what could be more fundamental than getting consistent sleep?), it seems like all the basics are breaking down these days - all my personal weaknesses and foibles are being pulled to the fore. Even with my recent success in creating work for myself, I am beyond panicked that it's not going to work, and with no partner to fall back on, I wonder why I am walking this very uncertain path rather than just going out and finding a job. Oh, right... maybe it's NPR telling me every day how impossible it is to find a job.

So, here we go again. I'll let you all know what it's like to travel cross-country with (nearly) 1-year old twins. And then, when I fly back alone with them, we'll see what we can come up with in terms of tips and tricks.

For now, I bid you farewell - we'll see you from the opposite coast.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

this and that

It's been a busier-than-average week here, since I didn't have my regular days to get stuff done with our nanny. She'll be back tomorrow, and then comes the few days of final prep before my mom flies out to help me travel back East with the boys. We'll be in MA from July 27-August 24, and can't wait to see lots and lots of our family and friends. Facebook has rekindled quite a few old friendships, and I'm excited to get together with these childhood friends while we're on the Cape.

The boys are into everything! We had to duct tape the corners of the stove drawer, and now they both crawl into it. Oy!

The weather here in Portland is quite variable - we had some days that were cool last week, so to keep things interesting, we brought the pool inside. Here they are, in the "not tub"


A rare nap during stroller time...


And I'll have to find and link the older posts that show photos of the boys at the door in various stages of development, but here's the most recent one, now that they are both standing. Notice how much taller Shoghi is than Maxwell!


Saturday, July 11, 2009

remembrances

One year ago today, I was lying in bed pregnant as can be, and was woken by an unnerving sensation that I was leaking fluids. It was one in the morning, and I was 28 weeks pregnant with the twins. I went to the bathroom to confirm my suspicions, then called my midwife who I'd only met twice before. Her calm advice to wait until morning didn't sit well with me - I'd read way too much about twin pregnancy and my experience with perusing dual care with both a homebirth midwife and the department of maternal and fetal medicine at the hospital had brought with it enough sense of caution to heed a late-night warning. With much hesitation and feelings of guilt about waking a friend from precious sleep, I climbed the stairs and called out to Korin. We drove to the hospital, exchanging reassuring thoughts - it was nothing, they'd check me out and I'd be home in a few hours.

Sadly, that wasn't to be. My most terrible, vivid memory from that long night came about an hour after arriving at the hospital - I had just been examined and was still lying on the awful gyn-ey (get it? gurney for ladies? why must we endure dumb humor on top of an already uncomffortable situation??). The doctor was wondering if my water had broken, and was about to do a swab to confirm. And suddenly, horrifyingly, Baby A's bag of waters unmistakenly broke.

Amniotic fluid rushed from me, and with every breath, every sob, continued to flow. I remember lying there, crying uncontrolably, saying to Korin that I felt as if my babies' lives were pouring out of me. The resident who was with us when this happened told me that I would likely deliver the twins within 24 hours. It was truly one of the most grief-filled moments of my life. Twenty-eight weeks, zero days. I knew the risks of delivering that early.

***

Of course, we all know how this story ends. I hope you don't mind as I recall these things here for myself. I haven't given a lot of deliberate attention to the stressful birth of Shoghi and Maxwell, either within myself or here on the blog. I find, though, that now that these hot days of summer are passing by, I am keenly aware of what was going on a year ago. My gratitude for how things turned out is beyond measure. At the moment, though, it felt very precarious, fragile, and uncertain... Since I have never told their birth story, I figure this is a good place as any to start.

(photo by Amy Crawford)

tunnel fun

This play tunnel is a current favorite - the boys crawl in and out of it, play peek-a-boo, and sit in there together and laugh. Fun!


video

Thursday, July 9, 2009

baby fave foods

At 11 months old (gasp! their 11-mo bday was yesterday!), the twinnies are eating a ton of foods! Admittedly, I've been leaning a little too heavily on fruits, so their enthusiasm for veggies is a little less than I'd like it to be, but all-in-all, eating is progressing quickly and with lots of fun and smiles. In just another month, I'll be making two huge changes by adding egg whites and switching the boys to cow's milk from formula. I have to say, I'm very glad our time of using formula is coming to a close; it just is too weighty emotionally for me. Not only does it serve as a constant reminder that I never could breastfeed them exclusively, it's also a sadness in that I just couldn't afford to continue giving them Earth's Best (or as we call it, Earth's Most Expensive). I hate to think of the garbage that's in the formula we use, what with all the corn, soy, and GMOs. It will be nice to serve them something as simple as a little organic milk.

The boys love to eat off our plates, so if we eat with them, it's inevitably one bite for mama, a bite for the twins!

The first meal we all shared as a family continues to be a staple. Split pea soup with yam and ginger is a favorite, especially when Laurie makes us some fresh bread to go along with it. She's even been making it with flax meal to replace the egg so the boys can eat it! Here's the recipe, in case you're looking for a savory, delicious soup that can also serve as one of your baby's early foods:

Yam & Split Pea Soup with Ginger

2c dried split peas (green is my preference)
3 medium yams or sweet potatoes, diced
3 leeks, diced
2T fresh grated or minced ginger
4 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, diced
1t salt
3T Bragg's Aminos or soy sauce
1/8t cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients except cayenne pepper in large pot or crock pot, and cover to 2" above veggies with water or stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 2 hours or until all the ingredients are soft. Serve as-is or blend to create a smoother soup.

***

Since Laurie went back to work, managing the household needs has become a big challenge for both of us. We all need to have easy, delicious foods prepped and ready, and finding the time to do that has been hard. A couple of weeks ago, I used the time with my sitter to grocery shop and cook several meals, and that's what I have on tap for today, too. Last time, I made a crock pot chicken, riboletta soup, the split pea soup above, Rachel Ray's mac & cheese with butternut squash, and since it was Laurie's birthday, I also made the delicious Shanghai Ham she loves so much - all in just 4 hours. I doubt I'll be quite that accomplished today, but I do hope to make at least 3 dishes, including the mac and cheese. I'm not sure what the other two will be yet, but I'm thinking dalh, some kind of casserole with whole grains and lots of veggies, and maybe a big pot of oatmeal cooked with fruits and a little cinnamon. Better make room in the freezer!

Shoghi taking a first bite of rice pasta.

What are your favorite whole foods recipes that both your babies and the rest of your family loves?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

health department

Shoghi has had a cough since at least last November - maybe longer. I kept asking about it, first at the naturopath, then several times at our visits to the pediatrician. They checked him out, but there were no signs of asthma or pneumonia, but still the cough persisted. It's possible that we're going to have a little gap in health insurance starting in September, so I thought it was time to get to the bottom of it.

We started with three possibilities: airway irritation, reflux, or a swallowing disorder causing him to inhale some of his food/milk/saliva. As you know, we had a long battle with reflux when he was tiny - it was so bad right after I brought him home that the acid was causing him to choke. Formula or breastmilk would pour out of his nose, and he would and stop breathing - he was re-admitted to the NICU where he was diagnosed, then he came home with an apnea monitor so that I could sleep without fear that he would choke. He stayed on the zantac until this winter, and I hadn't noticed any changes after discontinuing it, so I didn't really think it was going to be reflux that was causing the cough.

Last month, we decided to rule out the airway irritation issue with a two-week trial of albuterol. Wow, that was fun. Changing squirmy Shoghi's diaper or clothes is already a sweat-inducing workout these days - getting him to allow me to hold a mask over his nose and mouth while I pumped out 2 puffs of the inhaler, and then holding it on for 10 seconds... well, that was pretty much a nightmare. I persisted, though, and his cough did not improve. Back to the drawing board.

So, last week, I brought Shoghi to the hospital to see a speech therapist to determine if he has a awallowing issue. Sure enough, for the first time, he coughed in front of one of our doctors while 1) drinking his bottle, 2) eating pureed foods, and 3) munching some cheerios. I actually haven't noticed an increase in coughing while he's eating, so I was very surprised and grateful that he "performed" for the doctor to see. The doc took it all in stride and told us it would be best to return for a barrium swallow - a radiological procedure that takes a live x-ray video of him eating, drinking, and most importantly, swallowing. We went in yesterday, and sure enough, you could see some of his milk back right down his airway while he drank!

So, of all the things that could have been causing this cough, it's (in my opinion) the best one. This little issue can be fixed by thickening up his milk for a while with, of all things, baby food bananas. He didn't have that inhalation issue with any of the foods, so it's that simple - thicken up his milk, and give him a few weeks like this, and his airway shoudl re-sensitize itself. I should start to notice less coughing overall, as he will re-learn how to swallow in a way that won't allow milk, or other liquids like saliva, to enter his trachea. When we come back from Massachusetts, we'll go back to the doctor, and by then we should be able to start decreasing the thickness of his milk. Voila!

I'm really grateful that it's this simple. After listening to the poor kid cough for so many months, it's good to know what the source of it is, and know that there's a simple fix.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

waiting

I'm waiting for my new camera to arrive. It's funny how blogging (at least for me) is so dependent on having related content photos! I really hope this camera is a winner - I've bought and returned no less than four since January, and am a little sick of the search. I started with a DSLR, which I could not even remotely afford, and returned it - it was just too much camera for me to learn right now. Since then, I've tried a range of point and shoots, with various issues like shutter lag and poor picture quality, even for paying a pretty good price. My own camera's lens is failing, so I really want this one to be a good fit!

The love of books continues!

I feel rather news-less, even though a lot is happening. Here are some of the things we've been up to:

The boys are eating a lot of new foods - and many of them are truly solids now! When we went to our 9 month well baby visit, I had to fill out a questionnaire on things they are doing, and it asked about icking up cheerio's - I really hadn't thought they were ready for that, but I was excited to try. Well, they love it! It's been about 7 weeks since then, and the boys have really progressed using their fingers. Shoghi is a pro at bringing his bites to his mouth, while Max still kind of gets the food into his fist and squeezes it into his mouth. Still, they have such fun. I don't give them finger foods at every meal, but do let them use their hands to eat at least twice a day. Some of the recent foods introductions: bread with hummus, waffle bites dipped in yogurt, homemade mac and cheese with butternut squash, tomatoes (they eat off my plate so often, I just couldn't resist giving in to their please for lasagna!), cheese, and chicken bites.

Max now has SIX teeth! Four on the top that all came in a period of a couple of weeks, and the two middles on the bottom. Shoghi's got the two middles on both top and bottom, but just two days ago started some terrible teething - I think his incisors are on the move. It has been a very painful couple of days for the little guy!

He's also been biting for the past few weeks - shoulders, legs, and even your back or waist. All of the people who take care of him (me, Laurie and Emilia) have been bitten, and our firm "no"s and removing him from the scene of the bite hasn't helped. The biting is more frequent, and is now also happening immediately at the beginning (and consequently end) of every nursing session. With the exception of last night at 2am, we haven't nursed in four days. I got some new strategies to deal with the biting in the last day, so I'm hopeful it will help. He bit Max today for the first time, hard. It's not aggression - at least it doesn't seem that way. It's like he needs some kind of oral stimulation... today, giving him a frozen washcloth seemed to really satisfy him. Poor little guy - I don't want to be giving him so much scolding! As I said - I've got some new things to try, so we'll see how it goes. Any been-there-done-that stories would be well appreciated!

Max's language skills are taking the normal cyclical learning route. He no longer says "mama," and even "bra-bra" for brother has regressed a little to "bra." As one would expect, though, as we see these words fade, new sounds and likely candidates for words have emerged. We're hearing the hard "e" sound more and more as he tries to say "Auntie" and today we heard a lot of "s" - it seems he's trying to say "shoghi"! He still signs "more" and has added "milk" and "eat" to his repertoire.

Shoghi continues to excel in his physical abilities. He's standing and taking steps while holding onto things, and doing a lot of climbing. Last night at Korin's he climbed two steps, and he climbs up on the laundry basket while it's tipped over, and then down the other side. He loves it and smiles all the while.

exploring the underside of a desk recently relocated into the living room.