Monday, June 30, 2008

To Spank Or Not To Spank

Want another honest parenting article? Try this one:

So all of us parents out there have less satisfactory marriages. Uh, yeah. DUH. Raising kids ain't easy, folks. Especially on those of us who "lived a little" before the snotty noses came along (as the article interestingly and correctly states). It's about time we get some honest articles circulating about parenting. Problem is, if people take this to heart, soon we'll be like Italy and have absolutely no birthrate to speak of. Wait - who am I kidding - with Hollywood stars continuing to glamorize parenting, this won't be happening anytime soon in the USA. You know, if someone paid me $20M and I had a full-time nanny for the dirty work, I could probably glamorize parenting too. Funny how that works.

To de-glamorize parenting for the day, I had a heck of an evening with Claire. Claire (who, you'll remember, stayed up too late last night and then got up too early today) kept it together until about 4:30pm. At 4:30pm, the Brat Alarm went off in her head, and she lost it because she couldn't get the belt off a dress (the belt was sewn onto the dress). In her head, she was mad about the belt. Reality was that she was tired, probably hungry, and really upset it was another WFH Monday and the transition back to getting no attention from anyone is rough. So she lost it. I started warning her about losing stars, and she lost it even more. I told her to go to her room. She refused. She laid on the couch screaming. Then she threw a pillow at the babies, and one smacked Molly in the face. That sent me over the edge. That 'protect the babies' instinct came out and I gave in to my frustration and spanked the kid. I was so angry with her. I dragged her to her room, where she picked up every available toy and started flinging them at the walls. Another spanking. Then I left her in her room crying, until she cried herself to sleep. The babies were stunned by all the noise and screaming.

I thought the sleep would do her some good, but when Kyle got home and woke her up, she was incredibly grumpy and refused her dinner - "but I don't like pasta" [insert whine]. We basically sent her to her room with the pasta and told her to eat what she was given in her room. She refused. I told her she'd go to bed hungry tonight for the first time ever. At about 8pm, sheer hunger took over, and she ate the peaches off her plate and drank her milk. I don't think she touched the pasta. By that point, however, I was barely paying attention, as I had one foot out the door so I could blow off steam myself. I left the house and called a friend (fellow mother) so I could absolve myself of mother guilt for giving into corporal punishment. It's a rare day I stoop to the spanking level, but with behavior that bad and being too much in the moment myself, I couldn't figure out some other effective way to stop her tantrum. And I admit (cringe), that yes, sometimes with a kid as feisty as mine that it feels good to remind her who is boss. If only for a fleeting moment. Until the crushing guilt sets in.

And I am continually amazed how the care of infant twins can be overshadowed (in terms of effort and frustration) by a 3-year-old. Claire is one mighty force to reckon with if I think the twins can be a breeze compared to her. And today the twins were a breeze. I suppose I can be thankful they weren't cranky too.

Up Next: what should have been a "break" at work tomorrow is now likely another WFH day, though I'll have help. New help though. The nanny had a death in the family so she offered up her friend to help me this week. I will likely stay home with her tomorrow to show her the ropes so that I can go into the office on Thursday. So no break for me tomorrow. It'll be a tougher day than normal trying to juggle job, cleaning lady, new babysitter, and the kids. In a word, chaos.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Twin Talk

It's just too much fun to put the twins in the same swing together. Of course one must be careful not to swing hard enough to do some head bonking between them. Lily LOVES swinging - we get the biggest grins out of her when she's swinging. Molly is petrified. Holds her breath kind of petrified. And when you can force a laugh out of her, it's a half laugh/cry. What amazes me is that my more outgoing baby (Molly) is a scaredy cat and my shy baby (Lily) is a complete daredevil. For some reason those traits don't seem to match up to me. Lily likes to be tossed high in the air, hung upside down, swung really high. Molly cries if you do any of this to her.

Another low-key day here. We obviously had a visit to the neighborhood park, and we did get the kids out for lunch and for the $114 Sam's Club trip (1 box diapers, 1 box wipes, 2 cans of formula). Other than that, I stuck around home and did some organizing, and Kyle and Claire went out to measure a patio. The most amusing part of our day today was the car ride between lunch and Sam's Club. Lily started talking/singing/making noises, and Molly started doing it back to her, and this went on forever. I guess we're finally entering the "twin talk" phase, where they have little conversations with each other that no one else understands. We also bunked them in the same room for naps all weekend, and for the afternoon nap they stayed awake an extra hour because they "talked" back and forth between the cribs. It's absolutely hysterical to watch and listen to. I wish we had a video camera.

I took a brisk walk tonight - aaaah, perfect weather tonight - with my twin mom friend where we laughed about the twin talk thing. And it's a good thing I got that walk, because Kyle informed me that Claire stayed up past 10pm so my WFH day tomorrow is likely to be a tough one. Claire will be tired, bratty, and ultra mad I'm on my laptop all day. Here we go again.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Mmmmmmmm, ketchup. Claire eats it by the spoonful. It makes my stomach lurch to watch this. When she was 18 months old, it was funny. Nearing 4 years old, it's not so funny anymore. I wish I could really believe it's a healthy thing, but I assume it's got loads of sugar and salt. We grilled hamburgers tonight and Claire decided she and daddy would picnic outside. Mommy had to stay inside with the babies. I can't decide if I felt shunned or whether I enjoyed the break from the chatterbox at dinner time. The photo was taken at her picnic dinner.

A slow day here. I slept until lunchtime. Really. And boy do I feel like a new person. We got the kids out shopping to buy Claire a pair of closed-toed shoes that she can wear to camp (she is refusing to wear the adorable Nike's we bought her, and camp won't allow open-toed shoes). Then the babies needed their next nap so we came home. I ran to the grocery store - alone! - while Kyle and Claire cleaned a new (used) work truck Kyle purchased. All the kids got baths after dinner, and Lily decided that dunking her face multiple times in the water was appropriate (though I was trying to show her that it was not) and then it was bedtime for all three. With waking up at lunchtime, that feels like a very short (unproductive) day to me. And easy.

I think Molly's ears are improving. She wasn't cranky today. She is, however, pooping every time she eats so that's not a good sign. Her diaper rash is pretty darned bad. Lily is tolerating the Omnicef reasonably well but she had a couple big poops today. Sometimes I'm amazed how much my world is ruled by poop.

Tomorrow our plans are still undecided, though I just realized we're running low on diapers so I know we'll have a Sam's Club run tomorrow. More kid supplies. With $200 dropped on the two carseats Friday night, and diapers and such tomorrow, that means the twins will cost us about $250 for the weekend. Add in Claire's shoes and maybe a lunch out with everyone tomorrow and it'll easily be a $300 weekend for kid supplies and entertainment. Sheesh.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Double Trouble

That old "double trouble" phrase for twins is used waaaaaaay too often. It's just cheesy at this point. But I get it now. I'm getting glimpses of what lies ahead for us. Today, the twins found the CD drawer and entertained themselves by pulling them out and dumping them on the floor. Dumping almost all of them on the floor, no less. They just seem to encourage each other - one finds something interesting, and the other jumps right on in (look at Molly's evil grin in the photo). In the future they'll use their powers of manipulation to play off each other and work the parents, but for now it's just about making messes. Mess Patrol alert!

We've continued to have some bad days due to the earaches. What should have been a nice "break" at work on Thursday ended up being an anxious day for me. The nanny was keeping me abreast of Molly's eating, sleeping, and mood levels, and it wasn't looking good. I came home over lunch and picked up Claire, got some good one-on-one time with her at lunch, and then bought more Motrin at the HyVee store and went home to give Molly meds. For some idiotic reason I decided to give her only the Omnicef and head back to work - she didn't seem bad enough for Motrin. Boy was I wrong! The nanny said she screamed all afternoon which, let me tell you, invites much much much mom guilt. After calling the pediatrician's office three times in a row (I'm a freak), getting numbing drops prescribed and picked up, I got home early to give the poor baby Motrin and the ear drops and within 30 minutes she was a new baby. But it was NOT good news that the Omnicef wasn't making a dent in her pain. The doc's office requested she come in for a re-check on Friday.

So today, Friday, I packed up all three kids again and went to the regular pediatrician's office to see the same nurse practitioner. She said she saw very little improvement in Molly's ears and prescribed the dreaded Augmentin. At this point, I'm desperate to alleviate the child's pain so I didn't fight the nurse this time.

After a dose of Augmentin, more Motrin, and more numbing drops, Molly's mood improved enough to play in the CDs and then we even took the kids out for Friday pizza night (which used to be our usual Friday night thing until the twins threw a wrench in that schedule). The babies did well at the restaurant which is always a good feeling because it opens up a little freedom for us. I've since given Molly a second dose of Augmentin and am waiting on improvement - one dose didn't help a lot (when the Motrin wears off she starts crying again), but surely two will?? If not, this is one mean earache. Poor baby. I also upped the probiotic to one pill per baby (rather than splitting a pill between the two) to ensure we don't end up knee deep in poop again. My own personal experience with Augmentin isn't a good sign - it usually causes lots of gut rot for me, so I'm worried about Molly's reaction. We'll see. So maybe it's not a good weekend to take the babies swimming. Swimming plus gut rot is not recommended.

I bought "big kid" carseats for the babies after they were asleep tonight so now it's time to test to see if three big kid carseats fit across in our car. This could be a challenge. I assume that at the 9-month appointment next week their height will mean they've outgrown the infant carseats. For those of you learning, the infant carseats have both a height and weight limit, and if you hit either of them (not both) you have to move to the big kid carseats. The new fad in carseats is these oversized, plush models (think Britax, at nearly $300 a pop) but that's a joke for parents of multiples with an older kid too - I'm just looking for the most narrow seat there is. Forget safety ratings - just give me something that fits and doesn't require me to buy a new car. Amazing how the priorities are forced to shift. So with no real plans for the weekend (other than to monitor Molly's earache) hopefully we find time to test out the fit of these new carseats.

Oh, and TGIF. Hello sleep-in time this weekend!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Round Three

There's times I like being right (usually most of the time), and then there's times I don't like being right. Today is one of those days. I interrupted a slow work-from-home day to call the regular pediatrician's office for an ear check. Molly was fussy all morning so I knew something was brewing. I got the 1:30 appointment - usually the perfect time, just after the doc's lunch break - but for some reason I got stuck in the waiting room (the "sick kid" waiting room no less) for a while. I finally made it back to the tiny examining room with all three kids. We weren't lucky enough to see a doctor today. Just the nurse practitioner. She's nice, but she's still no doctor. And she was late too. She checked Lily's ears first. Yes, fluid behind the ears, not totally infected yet but headed there. Omnicef. Molly was next - bingo, that poor baby still has a ferocious earache in both ears. They wanted to give her Augmentin but I said NO. That stuff is horrid on the system. So Omnicef for her too. Blood red poop explosion, round two, coming our way! I made it home two hours later. TWO HOURS. Does anyone see why I'm in love with my after-hours clinic? The same appointment at the after-hours clinic would have been a 30-45 minute affair max.

So their 9-month check-up is next week and I know that ear tubes will be topic number one now. As much as I despise the idea of this, the thought of giving them antibiotics (and the accompanying gut rot) every month sounds worse. So I think I'm coming around to the idea of these tubes. And with Claire's summer camps starting really soon I know we're due for some more sicknesses because it seems my kids cannot manufacture a decent immune system response to anything.

One wonders how well Molly (and therefore I) would be sleeping through the night if we hadn't just experienced three, yes, three, back-to-back earaches (Lily's had the same three back-to-back now). Hmmm. And the only amusing part of our doctor's visit today was that once again the babies' weight is the EXACT same - 17 lb, 2 oz. They are nowhere near identical twins yet their weight stays exactly the same at most doctor visits. Their body types are totally different - Lily is long and lean, Molly is short and stumpy - so the equal weight is just distributed differently.

Claire is still feeling under the weather, coughing a lot, with a very low energy level. Maybe I should have had her checked out too. As I say to everyone, I hate the sick kid part, so I have not had a good run here recently.

And now it's dinner time and between work and the doctor's event today I haven't given dinner a thought. Take-out, anyone?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Top Ten List

It's been a boring couple days here. I still believe we're headed into earache land again any day now (maybe tomorrow or the next day) but for now we're muddling through this latest round of sickness. I had a good office day today (no bottom baring at least) and I'm feeling a little more even keeled than usual. So tonight we're going to talk about 10 things you need to have in place prior to having twins. I'm not talking about numbers of onesies and bottles and all that, but the major things that will make or break you in this first year.

1. A strong marriage - twin infant parenthood will test it, and test it again
2. A short list of priorities - drop the fluff in your life (you won't have time or energy)
3. A good handle on your finances - twin expenses ain't cheap
4. Fantastic female friends (who are also mothers) who can commiserate when things are tough
5. A good pediatrician's office nearby that accounts for the stresses of bringing twins to the office
6. Access to parenting relief/breaks - whether it's family or neighbors or babysitters
7. A repertoire of quick quick quick dinners
8. Ability to laugh, even if it's 'black humor'
9. Ability to forgive yourself/your spouse for the moments you do lose your temper
10. Ability to be flexible - plans change when babies won't cooperate, are sick, etc.

I don't have these top 10 things myself, but I know if I did have them these past 9 months (yes, the girls are 9 months tomorrow) might have gone a bit more smoothly. I'm not very good at asking for help. It's a point of pride to me to be able to 'do it all' but take a lesson from me - you'll be saner if you're able to ask for help from neighbors, family, counselors, or whomever you might need.

That's it for now. I am worried I might end up with a bad night of sleep if earaches are setting in, so I should take advantage of sleep while I can. And on the subject of sleep, and the babies' 9-month milestone tomorrow, that means it's official that I haven't slept through the night for one and one-half years now ... pregnancy never offered me a full night of sleep (especially a twin pregnancy) and with Molly's continued sleeping issues that leaves me running pretty close to empty. Yawn. Good night.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Water Babies

The babies had their first pool experience today! They LOVED it. We went swimming between the morning and afternoon naps and pushed the afternoon nap back an hour (at least) and they both managed to stay happy the whole time. They were also, as you would guess, asleep in the car within 2 minutes on the drive home. In fact, even Claire fell asleep on the way home ... and then wouldn't wake up for two hours. So all three kids were sleeping upon returning home which is a rare event in our household. Kyle joked that Claire must be getting sick (Lily's sickness) and would you believe it? The kid woke up from her nap coughing. Urgh. Sigh. So here we go again. We are Compromised Immune System Central.

So how did we take three kids swimming without one drowning? We are lucky to be members of a community center with a fantastic kid pool that is no more than 3 feet deep and has a zero-depth entrance. Claire could run around somewhat freely and we knew she was reasonably safe (they have lifeguards all over, and we watched her at every minute even if we weren't next to her at all times). Kyle and I each took care of a baby except for the times the twins sat in the zero-depth area and then I could watch them both while Kyle and Claire played in the water together. It really was a great afternoon.

Papa (my dad) came over for dinner tonight so we had extra entertainment for the day. After a nice dinner (except for the usual Lily meltdown at dinnertime), Claire, Papa, and I played some "softball" outside until the bugs started eating on us too much. Molly has already woken up this evening so it could potentially be a bad night of sleep for me. She's still teething plus she's probably getting the latest round of cooties herself. I forgot the Motrin tonight. Big mistake.

Next up: a WFH day tomorrow with at least two sick kids, and a dentist appointment in the afternoon for me. So if the day is going really poorly, I suppose I can count the dentist time as a "break".

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Daddy's Home Again

I feel really proud that I've come away from my 2+ days of single parenting unscathed. The husband returned just after 4pm this afternoon. By that time, we'd had a full morning, a lunch at McDonald's, two rounds of baby naps, clean up and laundry time, and play-in-the-backyard time. Claire was in a great mood .... until daddy got home. She asked to go ride her new (big girl) bike, and when we asked her to put on her Nike's (instead of flip flops) she threw a tantrum. It seems the adjustment back to a double-parenting household wasn't going well for her. She told us she "didn't want to have parents" in the midst of her tantrum. Ahhhhhh, OK.

We finally made it to an empty and level parking lot where Claire could practice on this new big bike and then it was Lily who couldn't handle the event. She fussed and fussed so we finally headed back home with a quick stop at the Thai take-out place for dinner. Lily is just not feeling good. No one else seems to be sick, so I'm still confused where this came from. Molly, for her part, is teething so I had an awful night of sleep last night. She cries out in her sleep, wakes up a lot, and just can't get comfortable. So tonight I gave her Motrin and I'm hoping that helps a little. Anything that allows me extra sleep is a good thing right now. And speaking of which, I'm looking forward to my sleep-in time tomorrow morning as my reward for single parenting the last few days.

Oh! And a milestone today: I walked in to find Lily standing in the crib. She had pulled up to standing on her own. Time to lower the mattresses again!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Single Parenting

For you twin moms out there, you will appreciate this story:

This is unbelievable. This woman was carrying just over 23 pounds of baby with her new twins. And I thought I was superwoman when I delivered two full-term babies at 6 lb 7 oz and 6 lb 4 oz. Both of my babies together equals just about one of hers. Unreal. Can you imagine her discomfort? I empathize.

My posts are slightly behind because of two reasons ... my internet connection wasn't working last night (and boy do I feel disconnected when that happens) and because I'm "single parenting". The husband decided a 2-night bachelor's party a few hours away from the house was appropriate. I argued the point but clearly lost. So he left town Thursday evening and is returning some time on Saturday. To make my life a little easier, I kept the nanny on Thursday when I returned from work and she helped until I got the twins to bed. I sent her home after they were asleep and I could take over for Claire. It's a good thing I had the nanny, because Lily has somehow (how????) gotten ANOTHER head cold (from whom???) and was a huge crank last night. Once again I predict a fourth, yes fourth, earache in our near future. Can anyone say tubes in the ears?

So that left me with a WFH day today with the three kids and no relief in sight from the husband. I decided to take it easy on work. Over the lunch hour we snuck over to the petting zoo again, and it was a zoo there - unbeknownst to me they were having an "earth day" thing going so booths were set up with all sorts of displays on recycling and water conservation and such. Claire got all sorts of freebies. Water bottles. Pencils. Tattoos (the kid kind, of course). Face painting. Before having kids I always thought stuff like this was pretty goofy, but after having kids I see the immense value in these things. Something fun! Something different! Something the kids will talk about! We stayed until the twins needed their second nap of the day. I was very, very lucky I had another slow Friday work day though I was admittedly a bit embarrassed when a customer called me while I was at the petting zoo. He instantly recognized the kid sounds and said he wouldn't keep me on the phone long. Oooooog.

I've kept to simple dinners the past two nights. We ordered Papa John's pizza last night, and tonight we had Amy's Enchiladas from the freezer. This minimized clean-up time (other than the laborious work to clean up the twins' high chairs). I'm proud to say that by 9:15pm tonight I had all three kids to sleep and the kitchen cleaned. I only have to make Molly's two bottles for her two night wakings tonight. I even got all three kids baths tonight (including fingernail clippings, something my babies never like). I seriously felt more productive than it seems like husband and I are when both of us are managing the nights together.

I've enjoyed reading stories to Claire at bedtime these last two nights, although after more than a year of daddy doing Claire's bedtime ritual, she is out of practice on listening to books. She just doesn't have the patience. He tries to read to her sometimes, but usually they draw or throw a ball (a great winding down kind of thing to do, eh?) or tell "knock knock" jokes and laugh obnoxiously. Reading isn't her favorite (nor was mine as a kid, according to my parents). I really want her to get back to reading at night. I picked a new book for the last two nights, one my father bought her, with excerpts of the famous kids books (Peter Pan, Charlotte's Web, Beatrix Potter, etc.) and read one or two stories to her. The language is admittedly quite advanced, which doesn't help her patience level. But I work hard to define the tough words and keep her engaged (and sometimes I skip sentences if the language is just too tough and doesn't add much to the overall story). Her favorite was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The excerpt was about the girl turning into a blueberry from the chewing gum with the funny song about the lady who chewed bubblegum all the time and bit her tongue in two. Given Claire's love of gum at the moment, this one captivated her.

I am also noticing more and more each day that the twins are engaging each other (see photo of them playing in the bath tonight together). Usually they'd rather play with me or even Claire, but on occasion when they're fed and aren't tired they will find each other amusing. Molly especially will reach out and try to play with Lily - Lily is a bit more reserved so sometimes Molly gets the cold shoulder in return. But already at eight months, I can begin to understand what other twin parents tell me ... that some day the twins will entertain each other and will be (in some ways) "easier" than a singleton who is always looking to the parent to be the playmate. As long as Lily comes out of her shell a little then I think this could turn out to be pretty fun to watch, and potentially easier on me than Claire ever was. Is it wishful thinking to believe I'll just have to referee the fights?

I'm off to enjoy a few moments of peace by myself. The absolute silence of my house is golden.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Office Space

Live from Kansas City, folks, is my very own real-life Office Space moment!

I "got" to go to work today. But after you hear about my idiocy, you'll realize I should have stayed home. MUCH better to have stayed at home. I am now the butt of all the office jokes [hee hee, no pun intended, you'll get the comment in a minute].

The short of it is this - and this is no exaggeration and I can locate witnesses if needed - I took a bathroom break, walked across the building to the supply closet for Kleenex and a CD, asked the admin for help with locating a CD, and walked back to my desk. Had a nice conversation at the admin's desk with her and two of my male colleagues. Saw many folks while I spent this 15 minutes jaunting around the office floor.

I get back to my desk and the admin is RACING toward me and motions that I have, YES, I have, CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS, I have tucked my skirt into the waistband of my panties so I've been walking around baring my backside for all to see. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH. I didn't think this happened to real people - only people in funny movies - until now. After this happened, the string of emails I received and all the visits from people heckling me was just insane. I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide. And I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. I have officially entered a place in office lore where people will never be able to see me as a professional again. I'll just be "the flasher".

Upon returning home, I learned that Claire had thrown a full-blown tantrum on the nanny because the nanny wouldn't let her watch a "big kid" show on tv. I was mortified. I had no excuses this time other than she's still running on a sleep deficit. The evening with the kids went reasonably well but honestly, anything could have happened at home tonight and it would still pale in comparison to my Office Space moment at work today. There's just no getting over that one easily. It's always good to have a little perspective thrown into this childrearing thing. Public humiliation seems a bit worse than the 3-ring circus at my house!

Monday, June 16, 2008

More Tantrums and Mess Patrol

I thought the fixed strep throat would minimize the tantrum episodes. Who am I kidding? Today was a tantrum-in-the-making day. First, we transitioned back from the weekend (when Claire gets attention) to a WFH day for me where I struggle to do my job and give each kid some attention. The morning actually went decently well, but then I got the call my mother was headed over for the afternoon, and I hadn't realized she was playing with Claire today. The grandparent thing is definitely a mixed bag. I'm happy my kid is overjoyed to see her grandmother, but the no discipline, all sugary snacks (or worse, a forgotten snack), and the 100% attention can be death to the order around this home. Today my mom entertained Claire (while I worked and took care of the twins) with the neighbor's kids. Aaaaah, yes, the neighbor's kids. They are six and three years old, two girls, daredevils, very spirited, and they've definitely lost their innocence - they call each other 'poop head' and say "I hate you mom" and all the things we've avoided thus far. With their arrival in our neighborhood a couple months ago, we're hanging by a thread now. Claire has learned some new vocabulary words but I am fighting the conversion. I'm not ready to have my 3-year-old speak the way those kids do.

I've noticed a disturbing pattern that after a long amount of play time with these girls, my child comes home and throws a class-act tantrum - usually directed at mom the monster. So knowing I had the double whammy of grandmother time PLUS neighbor kid time, I should have known that packing the kids up to drive to Dean & Deluca to pick up dinner would be a bad idea. But I was clueless tonight. I got to Dean & Deluca and the tantrum started ... in public ... not her usual mode. She was mad because I wouldn't buy her candy. She was mad because I wouldn't buy her the $4 French sparkly lemonade. She was mad because I wouldn't buy her a cookie. She was mad because she didn't want to leave Dean & Deluca to go home. When I finally got her to the car, I tried to calmly let her know she had lost stars and other privileges. Bad idea mom! She lost it in the car, screaming as loud as she could, and scaring the twins half to death. This makes me unbelievably ANGRY so I was starting to have trouble controlling my anger at her eruption. I threatened a spanking (we are a non-spanking household, but I reserve the right to spank under extreme circumstances). I told her she couldn't play with her friends anymore. I told her she'd be eating dinner alone in her room. I told her she had to stay in her room until bedtime. I was hoping that something, anything, would get through to her and make her calm down but she just got madder. It was an AWFUL 15-minute drive home. I came pretty darned close to tears once we were home which is a huge rarity for me.

So I'm feeling pretty serious about severely limiting her play time with the neighbor's kids. I've already been controlling it tightly and she's had little time with them recently (and no tantrums as a result) so with today's tantrum I think that solidifies my resolve on this. We may not be able to choose our neighbors, but we can choose who our kids play with and this does not seem to be a good deal for us currently. I contrast this situation to the other neighbor kids and the in-home daycare kids that Claire plays with and she NEVER throws tantrums after playing with them so I definitely think I can link this behavior to these kids specifically.

The twins had a pretty good day. They did sleep a bit more than usual thanks to our big Father's Day yesterday (and this is never a bad deal for me). Lily is finally making a "DA" sound and she crawls around the house shouting it over and over and over "DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA". Molly has really gotten good at the army crawling - enough to make me wonder if she'll ever crawl with her belly off the floor.

I must go start the house tasks (which I can hear husband working on also) for the night. You know, Mess Patrol. I tend to refer to parenting as at least 60% Mess Patrol. You clean, and then clean, and then clean some more. Especially with multiples (and a preschooler too). You clean up toys, dishes, floors. Baby bottoms. And bottles. I've got the bottle cleaning down to a science. I can clean 8 bottles in about 6 minutes thanks to bottles with liners and steaming bags. Whomever out there spends hours cleaning the insides of baby bottles is CRAZY. Playtex bottles with the liners are the only way to go, especially with twins. I know, you'll probably tell me that when I warm them .... in the microwave, heaven forbid ... that I'm letting nasty chemicals leech off that bottle liner plastic into my babies' pure little bodies. Well, I'm just ignoring this little fact and waiting on the official study and until then please don't burst my bubble on easy bottle cleaning. Please.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day and First Fish

Happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there. We were hoping to have a swimming pool day but another, yet another, thunderstorm rolled in at pool time. We stuck close to home and the storm blew over and we headed to the petting zoo near our house instead. We are amazingly lucky to live 2-minute's drive from this incredible (and free) petting zoo/park where you can kill hours of time with happy kids. Claire has been begging to go fishing at the fishing pond the last several trips, so today we told her we had one hour and she could fish if she wanted. We walked out to the fish pond but the booth that sells the worms and fishing poles was closed. We started to tell Claire that we would have to wait until the next trip, but we found a couple poles lying around so we "borrowed" one and Kyle creatively used Claire's granola bar as bait and lo and behold the kid caught her first fish! She was proud of herself but then freaked when it fell off the hook and flopped around on the dock. The photo captures her mix of awe and disgust.

After the petting zoo closed we zipped home to get ready for a dinner with my father. He lives just over half an hour away so this takes quite a bit of organization to get the twins ready for an event like this ... we had to give them their antibiotics early, pack dinner foods, pack PJs, pack diapers & wipes, bottles, pacifiers, night-night (security) blankets, and so on. However, I was amazed with how well the babies did at dinner. Very little fussing (unlike at home each night). We made a pit stop at Dad's afterwards to give the babies their bedtime bottle and change them into PJs (assuming they'd fall asleep on the drive home). They were ecstatic over the new environment and the drive home had them out of sorts so they stayed awake well over an hour past normal bedtime. Tomorrow could be a tough WFH day for me thanks to this evening!

Every time we've taken the twins out recently we get asked if we have one boy and one girl twin. I've been watching closely and have determined everyone thinks Lily is the boy twin. It must be her nose and lips, which are bigger than Molly's and more boyish. So today I went all out and did the white-trash "sprout hair" hairstyle and put them in dresses so there would be no confusion. I had to share a photo of the sprout hair. I haven't heard Kyle laugh like that in a long time when he first saw their hair today. And do I dress my twins alike? Heck yeah folks. I only get a year or two to enjoy the matchy matchy clothes thing so let me enjoy it for a while. When they start picking out their own clothes they can wear whatever they want at that point. For now, don't begrudge me my fun.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Twins Rock?

The twins' shirts (see photo) make me laugh. I was actually the one to buy them, and I bought them because I thought "I really don't think 'twins rock' so I'll torture myself with these shirts". It's my own strange sense of humor directed back at myself. Yes, I'm a bit odd.

I am definitely not in the 'oh, multiples are amazing!' category. It's tough work folks. It's exhausting and frustrating (especially with the third element thrown in there ... the preschooler). And I feel a little guilt in saying this, because I know there are millions of women struggling with infertility who would give anything to have a set of twins. I am even lucky to count two of these women as good friends - one here in town with me, and one in Australia. My childhood friend/neighbor/colleague has the set of 5-year-old girl twins (whose birthday party I discussed here not long ago) and my Australian friend has a set of 1-year-old boy twins. Both of these friends struggled with fertility and have a different perspective on their multiples. I know they'd agree that multiples can be a challenge, but I think they might feel just a bit more blessed than I do. I haven't felt the "blessing" yet. I'm still shell shocked this is happening to me.

Ahhhh, it's the weekend. Weekends are a different ballgame entirely. I usually have the husband's help (he's the reason I can sleep in on the weekends, or leave on errands by myself), but while his help can be great, it's a whole different rhythm from the week days. We go five days of the week without much help from him during the day, and we get used to our patterns and schedules, and then the husband reinserts himself on the weekends and everything changes. The household gets instantly louder and Claire is one hyper kid around him. Daddy is FUN! Daddy plays fun crazy games! Let's scream! Let's laugh as loud as we can! I'm usually left to cower in the corner with a sleepy baby and yell at Kyle and Claire to quiet down.

I think I'm a drill-sergeant kind of mom with these three kids, keeping everyone in order, watching the "schedule" like a hawk, being the tough discipliner. Sometimes I hate barking orders all day long, but mostly it gives me some semblance of control of which I feel I have very little at the moment. Kyle is the polar opposite of that. He's the Disneyland Daddy type. He doesn't know what a schedule is. And he, like my 3-year-old, is a class-act dawdler. It's my biggest frustration on the weekends. When I'm with the kids by myself, I can get us out the door and to lunch in a matter of minutes. If Kyle's with us, it's a minimum of a half an hour exercise to get out the door. It's maddening to me. Can you guess what the weekend arguments revolve around?

Nevertheless, Drill Sergeant Mom and Disneyland Dad ended up pulling together a decent day for the kids this Saturday. I slept in (though not much - kids were too loud) and Kyle had the kids for a while this morning. We got the kids out to lunch and were back for baby naptime. I did a quick Target run during naptime and Kyle and Claire played. When I got back, we packed up the family and went back to the art fair at the outdoor mall. We walked around looking at the booths and did some shopping at Macy's too. Lily didn't manage herself very well - she was getting tired and she doesn't like to sit still in the stroller - but overall it was a good outing. Dinner was a breeze with a crockpot meal and now all three kids are in bed.

And I must go do something about Father's Day! Whoops. I forgot about that day tomorrow and all those signs at Macy's alerted me to my oversight. So I must sneak off and go get a card or two. I suppose it's the least we can do for Disneyland Dad.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Metal Milestone

The first thing my babies do once they have crawling mobility is to make it over to the fireplace thingy - what is it, the gas starter or something? - and spend at least 10 minutes per day licking the metal. Huh? What is the DEAL? Claire did it as a baby, and now the twins have dutifully put in their time licking the metal too. Molly is my latest "crawler" - she's only army crawling now, no belly off the ground just yet - so she's just discovered the joys of cold metal on the tongue. It's the darndest thing. My picture today captures her turn.

And back to the news of my daily grind, I just have to shout THANK YOU CULTURELLE! This is not paid advertisement. But this stuff saved my life today. The pediatrician's office recommended I try this brand of probiotic (versus my usual sprinkles) to stem the tide of poop and we followed the direction last night. We only had one blowout today, and it was quite minor (though looked like Molly had been shot in the gut - anyone ever see blood red colored poop from Omnicef?). My day became manageable because of this. Additionally, it was another really, really slow Friday work day, so I had a pretty enjoyable WFH day with the kids. Mainly because I wasn't doing much of that work part. I somehow got the babies to nap on the exact same schedule, and that allowed me to take the kids out to lunch and to the mealsmith place again (those pork chimichangas are great) and Babies R Us to exchange a bathing suit for Claire. Then Claire and I played outside for a couple hours while the babies napped again. We put dried pinto beans in the water & sand table and played games with those (that reminds me, I need to clean those out tonight before they get rained on). Claire was SO much happier with me than had I been hunched over my work laptop. When the babies awoke, I packed up the kids again and took them over to the outdoor shopping mall to pick up our favorite spaghetti for dinner and we lucked into an art fair at the mall. So while we waited on the food, we listened to music, looked at art, sampled popcorn, got a free frisbee and a free set of colored pencils for Claire, and got lots of attention from people because of the twins. And if you're wondering, I get as many comments from males as I do from females which actually still surprises me. The nicest comment I got about the twins tonight was from an older gentleman - he said "now that's a cute picture (the way the twins were sitting in the stroller touching each other), forget buying any art here, just take a photo of that and it's much better".

The other fascinating thing is how many people are adamant my twins are identical. Are you joking? Have you actually looked at my kids? There's nothing alike about them!

All in all, days don't get too much better than this when you have baby twins. I think we lucked out today. The only unfortunate time of the day was dinner time. Lily was overtired and we had to put her in her bed while we ate. Molly handled herself well despite her fatigue (which is rare for her too) and really took to the spaghetti noodles. It was hysterical watching her eat them. Now we've gotten all three kids to bed (though Claire is currently yelling to daddy) and I can finally relax a little and look forward to my sleep-in time tomorrow morning. I assure you it's well deserved.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Groundhog Day

Almost a "Groundhog Day" - you know, a repeat of the same. I was knee deep in poop again today. Cleaned all 3 beds. Did multiple loads of poop laundry. Had cranky babies.

The difference was that I had the nanny here today to help. So yes, that means I gave work the raw end of the deal today because I just couldn't leave the hired help with the poop disaster. Mainly, because I'm such a germ freak, I just wanted to make sure the beds and babies and everything else got cleaned to my OCD standards when the diaper disasters occurred. So when I end up losing my job over all this flexibility of mine, I can rest easy knowing my house is free of smeared fecal matter.

I learned a few things today. Claire is an even BIGGER brat when the nanny is here and I'm also home. I'm assuming a few reasons for this: (1) she's smart enough to realize I'm pushing off her care to someone else, and she's mad at me and works even harder to get my attention with negative behavior; and (2) she's mad that I have time for 'adult conversation' with the nanny but I can't give her the same talk time. Understandable from Claire's standpoint but downright frustrating from mine. So my new realization is that Claire would like me so much better if I actually worked 5 days/week in the office (barring the financially unrealistic choice of having a stay-at-home mother, of course). This is because my WFH days have become a huge struggle and battle for us. She wants my attention ... craves the attention ... and instead I'm in the mode of 'deal with the twins' basic needs to keep them settled, tightly control Claire in a way that allows some of my job to get done, and spend as much time working as possible' rather than in the play mode. Claire just sees this as rejection and is constantly angry with me. She loves daddy right now and doesn't like me. Working from home has definitely strained my relationship with her at the moment. How sad. So for me there is no better proof that us working moms can't 'have it all' when even in my highly flexible working arrangement I'm still struggling.

Tomorrow should have been another in-home daycare playdate day for Claire, but it seems we have passed on strep to the in-home daycare lady so she is recuperating herself. That means my WFH day tomorrow will most likely be another Groundhog Day for me: more poop and a bored and frustrated 3-year-old.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Clean Up On Aisle 9

You know it's an exciting day here when I double post. Mainly, I found another good article off (my favorite on-line time waster, but hey, I'm learning something, right?). It saves me all the time and effort to write what this lady already wrote. I'll just say "I concur". Now you moms (and dads, I suppose), you need to go read this:

It's just past 8:30pm here. The twins are, thankfully, asleep. In all our pooping excitement today, I barely noticed they weren't napping again this afternoon. So they were exhausted this evening. Molly took a brief nap until Claire's yelling woke her up. I tried to feed Lily dinner by quickly shoving in baby foods (remember, that's not her favorite), but she screamed screamed screamed out of exhaustion so I gave up and gave her a bottle. Kyle arrived home with the aforementioned take-out. Molly woke up. I went upstairs to get Molly while Kyle got Claire's dinner ready. I heard a sound, something like this - "blurp" - and knew something was bad. I peeked over the balcony, and yep, Lily had puked up the entire dinner I just fed her. She then crawled off, trailing the puke along the rug. I threw my hands up in the air and told Kyle that he was on clean-up duty for the rest of the evening, including the rug job. Thanks, guys, but I'm done. Mommy's all tapped out tonight.

I'm not sure if Claire's asleep yet (likely not) and I've not yet made a decision about work tomorrow but I'm leaning toward staying home except for the team meeting I should attend. We have lots of org changes occurring at work so tomorrow's meeting will be important.

What's nagging at me about the situation is that another twin mother and colleague of mine, who operates on my same schedule (2 days in office/3 days at home), just got an email from her boss today (ugh, an email, he couldn't even call her ...) telling her she needs to be in the office 4 days/week going forward. So she's panicking and I'm realizing that my time is coming. And I know I will have some tough decisions to make at that point.

Knee Deep In ...

Poop. It's only 5pm, and on another wonderful WFH day I've now done 7 poop diapers including two blowouts. I've given each twin a bath, and have had to clean changing pads and beds and all that for both babies. I'm on my third load of poop laundry and counting (there's more in the dirty pile). In eight months, I can honestly say this ranks in the top 15 worst days. I'm nearly at my breaking point. It's not the poop that bothers me (though my hands are raw from anti-bacterial gel, spray Lysol, Lysol wipes, and hot soapy water), but it's the screaming needy baby gnawing on my nerves while I clean up poop and can't touch her for fear of the fecal matter I've got on me. And it's Claire, who has hopped up and down all day for attention and hasn't gotten much between my job and the poop clean-up. She has lost three stars so far due to her spectacular behavior. When she can't get mommy's attention, she always resorts to negative attention. And unfortunately that often works. I feel like I did lots of yelling today. Really, though, I was just begging her to entertain a crying baby while I cleaned poop, but a 3-year-old just can't see the immense value in that activity.

What is a little daunting is the knowledge the pooping event gets worse as the days of antibiotics increase. We're only on the first 24 hours of antibiotics and it's already this bad ... what will three days from now look like? We're smart enough to use the "sprinkles" - my term for that powder of good bacteria you can add back to a baby's gut by dumping some in their bottles - but this barely stems the tide. I think we're in for it. The usual question is nagging at me: do I go to the office tomorrow and leave the nanny with this mess? Or do I stay home and help her? I'd love a break from this circus, but I don't think it's fair to leave a caregiver with this. My internal struggle is knowing that if I've promised the boss at least two days of office time per week and I can't even deliver on that on a regular basis, at what point does my job end up in jeopardy? Someone gets the shaft - either the kids or the job. It's the working mom's daily struggle. And it's the struggle that frustrates me the most. I hate choosing between work and the kids.

Off to tackle the poop laundry and figure out a last-minute desperation dinner. That means take-out for us. And I need to mull the decision to go to the office tomorrow or not.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So That Explains It

Three kids with strep. The twins also have their second round of earaches. So this explains the horrid behavior from Claire for the past week. Note to self, AGAIN: when kid consistently acts horrible day after day, something is wrong with her. Get her checked.

Let me reiterate my love of the after-hours clinic. LOVE LOVE that place. I took three kids in just before 5pm and was in within minutes. The doctor, who now recognizes us, checked Claire first. She smirked - no earache, so we were assuming she had been jealous about the "pink medicine" her sisters were getting for the last round of earaches. She was about to move onto the babies but I saw her pause and think. She checked Claire's lymph nodes. Very swollen. She said, "could we check her for strep?" and I gave the green light and BINGO! that was it. I would have never thought of that, given I have never tested positive for it in my own life. Not to mention my getting closer to 4-year-old child still cannot verbalize when she is sick and what part of her hurts. I know this is relatively "normal" behavior for the age group but it is getting increasingly annoying that a kid this old can't tell me when something hurts, and what part hurts!

So obviously the babies have strep too. Poor tiny babies. Molly's last ear infection never went away thanks to this new head cold so she is on the heavy-duty medicine. No pink stuff for her. I would have never guessed this, because other than never sleeping through the night (and she's too old to be doing this to me!) her mood has been pretty darned good. Lily actually doesn't quite yet have an earache, but the fluid is starting to build up. Knowing where this would end up in another day or two, I convinced the doc to give me the pink stuff for her in anticipation of the inevitable earache. And of course now that the strep piece was confirmed she needs it anyways. Between the twins, you can tell that Molly has the higher pain tolerance and Lily the lower tolerance. Lily has been cranky, tired, and not eating. Molly has been her usual self. And it's Molly with the ferocious earache, and Lily with barely the beginnings. Amazing the difference between those two.

I had an office day today, so I was nice enough to leave the nanny with this craziness. Whoops. What happened is Claire acted up for the nanny today, and knowing she NEVER acts up to someone other than a parent, I instantly knew that something was truly wrong with her and made the decision to leave work an hour early and hit the clinic. This is when us moms knowingly pat ourselves on the back for going on our gut instincts: yes, yes, folks, I was right. The kids really are sick. And I predicted it the other day, right? Check my earlier post folks.

Please, please tell me this is the last round of sickness for the summer, but I know I'm deluding myself with summer camps starting next month at 3 days per week. Claire will bring home several things in that month. And when the twins get tubes in their ears thanks to big sister, I'll partially regret all the kid interaction I've allowed Claire. Better to live in a bubble, you know.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Block Party

The Saturday block party, it seemed, entertained just about everyone but me and Lily. The babies are definitely sick with Claire's recent cold. This means Lily is cranky and wants to sleep all the time. And this means dragging her to a block party is a definite challenge.

Kyle went off for a golf game ("I haven't done anything for myself in a year and a half"), so I begged my mother to come over and help with Claire because I knew the babies would tolerate the block party for only so long. What happened is that I was back and forth from home to party to let babies nap and eat dinner. So I missed well over half the party, and missed Claire playing all the games they set up for the kids. Anytime I got Lily down at the party, she went into full meltdown and I had all my neighbors staring at me in that 'oh, poooooor you' kind of way. I tried to keep her happy. My mother even tried to help with her. But it was to no avail. She just cried.

Molly was entertained by the party (despite me cutting her long afternoon nap short, and her head cold stuff), and Claire LOVED it. They really did do a good job of having games and things for kids. Claire's favorite was the "bouncy thing" (see photo), but she also, I hear, got to do water balloons and jump rope and face painting and toured a real fire truck. And many other things I missed while I tended to Lily's needs. It was not very much fun for me at all. When Kyle got back from golf at 9:15 (after I had put three kids to bed by myself), I raced out of the house and met my best friend at Starbuck's to vent about my evening.

Today, Sunday, we were planning on taking all three kids to the pool, but we decided based on Lily's showing yesterday that dragging her to the pool would be a horrible idea. So Kyle stayed home with the babies and kept them on the regular napping schedule while Claire and I went to the pool on a cloudy day. Brrrrrrrrr that water was cooooollllddddd. My father met us over there to see Claire play in the water, the sun made a brief run at it, and then the pool closed early today. We headed back home and found the babies in much the same shape: Lily just a crank, and Molly being her usual (mostly) happy self. I predict now that Lily will end up with an earache again within the next few days, and this will be her third so far (with two back-to-back), so I also predict she's going to get those tubes in her ears. So much for keeping babies healthy when you have an older child. It's a losing battle.

Tomorrow starts another work week, with another WFH day tomorrow. Oh yipeee! If Lily (or Molly or Claire) decides to be unhappy thanks to the head cold then it will be quite a struggle for me tomorrow. And I was hoping for a nice brisk power walk tonight to give me strength to get through tomorrow, but a thunderstorm has rolled in and dashed my hopes of a walk again. Urgh. So house chores it is. Unless something better presents itself.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Tantrums, Golf, and a Snake

Whew. It's been a whirlwind of a week, which is quite obvious from the delay in my postings. Claire has had a class-act BRAT week. On Tuesday, she lost 6 out of 9 stars on her star chart - she had what I would rank as one of her top 3 temper tantrums one evening as we were into the bewitching hour previously discussed. She wasn't getting the "right" amount of attention and went ballistic. Of course both babies were also crying during this time so our household was truly a circus. I wanted to crawl in a hole and stay there for days. Instead, I feel like I've suffered through some dreadful 3-year-old behavior this week. Then she ended up sick on Wednesday - just a head cold, but nevertheless sick. So that might explain the horrid behavior (in addition to her transition time with the new nanny). I'm waiting on the twins to show signs of this same cold, so maybe we'll have the wonderful luck to have back-to-back earaches in both babies.

Wednesday, not knowing Claire was coming down with something, I sent her to her old in-home daycare to play all day with the kids there. I had the best work-from-home day possible! With only the twins to take care of, I can get a lot accomplished. Plus, I had a slow work day, so I was able to focus on getting laundry hung up and other house chores completed. It was fantastic. Well worth that $35 I pay for the luxury. I've got about 8 days this summer lined up for Claire to go to this house (though she missed one today because of her cold), so I should get a little relief here and there.

Thursday we had one of those wonderful (please hear the sarcasm in my voice) team building events at work. We started with a boring quarterly meeting, and then headed off for a par 3 golf event. Golf? Are you kidding me? I've never played in my entire life. I call this work humiliation. I was on my boss' team (more humiliation) and we actually won because he's a great golfer. The upside is we were done with work early and I had the chance to run some errands before going home. My first thought was to finally try one of those pre-made dinner places, the ones where you can cook your own meals in their kitchen and freeze them or pick up pre-made frozen stuff from the freezers. I tried mealsmith, and got three different nights of dinners. Last night we tried the pork chimichangas and they were excellent! I didn't expect anything that good so I was impressed. We have calzones and some kind of shredded steak tacos to try next. I spent about $50 on those three sets of meals plus some foccacia bread so I didn't think that was too bad. Anything to save some time in my life ...

And today, Friday, is another WFH day with the three kids. Work has been wonderfully slow, so I focused instead on preparing my side dish for the neighborhood's block party tomorrow. I pulled together a black bean salad which seems to require about an hour's worth of finely chopping vegetables. It's now marinating in the fridge. Kyle called and said that someone had one of those Little Tykes picnic tables out in their yard waiting for someone to pick it up for free, so he grabbed it. He dropped by the house to surprise Claire with it, and Claire and I went to work on cleaning it up. I've got one twin sleeping, the other in the activity center playing, and Claire and I have the hose on this table with the back door propped open. We're scrubbing away. I stepped up into the doorway to check my work laptop for any messages and about that time Claire screamed and said, "Mom, look, a worm!!". I thought, here she goes again being obnoxiously girlie about a little worm or bug. OH MYYYYYYYYYY NOOOOOOOOOO there was at least a 3-foot black snake about 2 feet from her. I was stunned. And shivering already. I said, "Claire, GET IN THE HOUSE NOW, THAT'S NO WORM, THAT'S A SNAKE". She dutifully ran in (thankfully) and I called Kyle screaming like a little girl myself. Within a few minutes the neighbor was in our back yard searching for the beast and then Kyle and one of his employees came back and looked for it too. No luck, they couldn't find it, so it's still lurking out there. Gross! I'm still shivering. You think I'm headed back outside again today? Huh. No way.

Hopefully I'll have time to be more diligent again about my postings this weekend. I hate sick kids. It's no fun for anyone. Our only big plan (who can make plans with infant twins???) is to attend this block party tomorrow evening and maybe if we're lucky we'll get some pool time this weekend. At a big "real" pool. Not with the snake in the backyard near the baby pool.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Bewitching Hour and Bonding Time

First, I want to note an article I really liked. This is one of the most honest articles about mothering I've seen in a while. It's not all that googly stuff - 'oh, being a mother is the GREATEST thing ever' crud - and it's not an article that tells you 10 ways to play more effectively with your child thus making you think, once again, you're failing as a parent. It just honestly states that "the diaper years" are tough on mothers. Here's the link (I hope CNN keeps the link working for a while):

And back to my circus, I had another challenging WFH day today. Poor Claire got very little attention, which of course is the norm when I'm doing my job from home and taking care of the twins. I was hoping to have her play with the new water & sand table while I worked on the laptop, but we had some thunderstorms this morning and that dashed my hopes for a good portion of the day. She finally got outside late this afternoon and the water table held her attention for all of 15 minutes. Lovely. That was $50 well spent.

The twins had a cute day earlier today but I knew we were headed for trouble when they both wouldn't nap well this afternoon. So that meant once the bewitching hour hit - that troublesome downhill slide from 5pm onwards (when most working parents have the luck of getting home) - we would be in for it. And sure enough, I was right. Molly couldn't make it through dinner without crying and rubbing food in her eyes. Lily went so ballistic upon the sight of Kyle (she loves her daddy, and more on that in a minute) that I demanded the child go back to her bed so she would not ruin a nice dinner we had pulled together of grilled pork tenderloin (my favorite), roasted lemon potatoes, and broccoli. So she cried our entire dinner but at least the noise was far away rather than right in our ears. Sometimes, this is the only way that order and sanity is maintained in our household. A baby crying in a bed can sometimes be the right thing to do. Trust me.

On top of all this, Claire decided to go into full 3-year-old brat mode right after dinner (somehow she was really tired even after her boring day with me). I think she lost a star for the day, but I need to confirm with Kyle once we finally have a discussion tonight. She was asleep in minutes which is rare for her. That means we had all three kids meltdown on us at dinnertime ... ahhhhhhh, what joy we experienced tonight!

Now for the Lily and daddy explanation. Our situation, and how we handled the twins, ended up a bit unique, and with 20/20 hindsight I'm not sure I'd repeat exactly as we handled it. I'll tell our birth story later, but the short version is that Molly came home straight from the hospital and Lily was in the NICU for 15 days. She was a sick baby, and yes, I blame this on myself for my birth choices. Nevertheless, what the NICU did was make Lily a very difficult child to breastfeed - you NICU moms will understand the challenges I'm talking about. She didn't nipple a feed for a week of her life, and then when she did, she had the worst sore throat thanks to the breathing tube she had for a week or more, so she was a very unhappy feeder. She also lost a tremendous amount of weight so she was a frantic eater. She'd go ballistic over being hungry (still does), but then get tired and fall asleep eating after just a couple ounces. Then she'd want to eat again in 30 minutes. Then again in 45. Then again in 30. Then in an hour. It was a BATTLE to feed this child and I worked very hard to breastfeed her. But I just couldn't keep up. My body did not produce what these two babies needed - don't forget I had Molly feeding on a perfect 3-hour schedule too - especially given the weight Lily was trying to gain back. So I starting supplementing with formula and after about 8-9 weeks I realized one day I hadn't breastfed her for two days. And it made my life easier and she seemed more satisfied so I ended up with one formula twin and another solely breastfed twin.

In the midst of this feeding struggle, Kyle and I were trying to sleep with both girls in the master bedroom (both in bouncy seats due to reflux) and what all twin parents know is that just as soon as you get one baby fed and changed and back asleep the other wakes up. Twin parents literally get just a couple hours of (broken) sleep all night long. Kyle and I were crazy tired. Screaming at each other, frustrated, angry, and throwing pillows in the wee hours. Not so good. So we quickly devised a man-on-man approach once Lily was fully bottle fed - Kyle went in one room with Lily and took care of her at night, and I kept Molly the breastfed baby with me for obvious reasons. When he was home from work, he was also always on duty to feed, change, and play with Lily, whereas I was doing the same with Molly. This was good for me, as it allowed me some breathing room, but what it also did was to teach Lily that daddy is the nurturer and not mommy. And I'm OK with this somewhat, except the child goes into full meltdown to this day when she sees him because she prefers him so much over me. She gets his full attention and love, whereas with me she's usually sharing it with two other siblings so I don't think she sees me as taking care of her needs as well. This makes me sad. So in retrospect, we should have forced ourselves to "trade babies" more often when the feeding thing wasn't occurring so that Lily bonded with me and Molly bonded with daddy. The legacy here is that Lily and I still have some bonding catch up to do.

So if there are any pregnant twin moms reading this, I'll recommend sharing baby duty with daddy (especially in the middle of the night), but do a better job than we did of trading babies, even if you're breastfeeding only one of the twins for whatever reason. Separate rooms is a must if you plan to get any sleep.

And with all of my baby feeding experience now, I definitely have some opinions on breastfeeding and formula feeding ... not the usual health stuff (though it does help with mom's weight loss for sure), but with bonding. I breastfed Claire for a full year. Molly now gets a supplemental bottle of formula about once a day to relieve me of feeding duty and she just started this at about six months of age - about two months ago. Lily of course is 100% formula. My strong opinion is this: breastfeeding does help with baby bonding. It really does. All those brain chemicals that are released at feeding time to help bond you to baby really are doing something. So poor Lily and I have that catch up bonding to do because of this too.

And before anyone thinks 'my, that's strange, one is breastfed and the other is bottle fed', let me assure you that those double feedings I hate ... and I'm talking here about the early infant stage, when they can't hold their own bottles ... get MUCH easier when one is bottle fed. We were the masters of propping up a bottle (with blankets) in the bouncy seat to feed Lily while I breastfed Molly at the same time. The only tough time was when Lily needed to burp and she'd scream until I got to her. This system was my savior for the double feedings. I highly recommend it to parents of multiples.

Tomorrow is an office day for me! The new nanny will be here with the kids tomorrow and I get some peace and quiet again at the office. And Newsweek time over lunch. Nice. Looking forward to it. Need it. Now I need to sign off to pre-make bottles for the nanny. This is when I feel like the Discovery Channel should be filming me for a show about multiples (how many bottles a day? how many diapers?). I hate the preparation for leaving the kids, but the time away is invaluable to my sanity. Even if it's a darned job I'm going to.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Pool Party

Today I had some relief from my circus. I was "allowed" to sleep in (something I try to demand from the husband every weekend) and we had a birthday party for a friend's 5-year-old girl twins to attend this afternoon. In the whirlwind of preparing for this pool party, I was able to focus mainly on Claire and leave the twins to Kyle. We got home at 6pm - with Fusion Chinese take-out in tow, of course (can we discuss our take-out budget since the pregnancy? How's about $340 for last month alone?) - and so I saw the twins for dinner and the bedtime routine and I feel like that's about it. I'll get plenty more of them tomorrow during another WFH day. Aaaah, Monday, back to the grind tomorrow.

And you'd think that watching my friend's 5-year-old twins would provide me some light at the end of the tunnel, and I suppose it does somewhat, but what I really do see is just a different set of challenges. Sorry, I can be a glass-is-half-empty kind of gal sometimes. Or when I'm being nicer to myself, I call myself a realist.

I'm going to take my realist self to the shower now, because when will I get a decent shower with work and three kids taking my time tomorrow?