Friday, August 9, 2013

What My Registry SHOULD'VE Looked Like...

Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Hindsight is twenty-twenty. If I could do it all over's what my registry would look like.

  • 0-3 Size Gowns: Unfortunately, I only discovered gowns after the boys were too old for them. In those first couple months when changes are happening in the sleep-deprived wee hours of the morning, having the simplicity of a gown would've been a godsend.
  • Footed Pants: Socks on newborns is a joke. If you're gonna have a newborn in the winter, do yourself a favor and put the pants and socks together in the form of footed pants.
  • Newborn footed sleep n plays: Because they were born at 37 weeks and were around 6lbs when they came home, they were in newborn clothes for at least a month, maybe two. Also, the footed sleep n plays were what they basically lived in for the first couple months.
  • Knit hats: Our boys have 100th percentile heads, literally, so the only hats that fit are ones that are loosely knit and therefore stretchy.
  • For more thoughts on clothes in the first few months, check out my post on the awesome and the useless here.

  • 2 Rock n Play Sleepers: Read my commentary on their first 30 nights in the RnPs here.
  • 2 Cribs: We went with the Stokke Sleepi cribs which we got on sale. For twins, we liked them because they fit better in a small space do to their oval shape. I realize that they're kinda pricey though, and you have to buy special bedding for them.
  • 2 Mattresses
  • 4-6 SwaddleMe Wraps in 7lb-14lb size: We had 5 and got by just fine. I'd just make sure you have at least two for each baby you have. We had to go out and buy the larger size eventually, but I wouldn't put those on a registry just in case your baby doesn't like these swaddles. We started using sleep sacks around 4-5 months, but I wouldn't have registered for that since we just didn't know what would work.
  • 4 crib sheets (2 for each crib)
  • 2 Mattress Pads


  • Double Snap n Go Stroller: Loved it. Read my review here.
  • 2 Car Seats: We went with the Graco Snugride 30, but I don't think there's a real right and wrong here. I will say that there's no need to get one that accomodates over 30lbs because your kid will be out of their infant seat LONG before then.
  • 2 extra bases: We have two cars, so not having extra bases would've been disastrous. Thankfully, my mother-in-law bought them event though they weren't on my original registry.
  • Car seat covers: These were great to brave the Chicago winter. Not terribly necessary if you don't live in the frigid north, however. A blanket always seemed to suffice unless it was under 35 or 40 degrees.
  • 4 Car Mirrors: We have mirrors in my car but not in my husband's. I hate it. It's nice to be able to look back in the rearview mirror and see the boys. Not being able to see them is both awkward and nerve-wracking, especially on a longer car trip.
  • Diaper Bag: We have the Fischer Price one and we like it. I don't think it really matters so long as it's big and has a changing pad.
  • Munchkin Cooler Bag: Bought this later on but it's necessary with twins. The small one they gave us for free at the hospital just doesn't cut it with two babies.
  • Bigger Stroller: I really like our city mini double.
  • 1 or 2 Baby Carriers: We have a Twin Trexx carrier which can either split into two or be a double one. Honestly, we've only used the double function twice. We like it anyway, but it might've been cheaper to just go with one or two singleton carriers. Also, we only used ours early on and around the house, so I would have gone cheaper here.

  • Tubes of Vaseline: If you're having boys and going to circumcise, you need this the second you come home. Don't get the tub either. Trying to scoop it out is a total mess. You will need tons of tubes. Like TONS.
  • Gauze Pads: If you circumcise, every time you change the diaper you have to have new gauze for the first week or do the math and that's about 150 pads per baby. Yikes.
  • Changing Pad
  • 2 Changing Pad Covers: We started out with only one and laundry became a lot easier once we had two.
  • 3 boxes of seventh gen newborn diapers: The last thing you want to do in the first few weeks is run to the store.
  • One of each type of cloth diapers: We bought a bunch of cloth diapers, and we've yet to transition. We've tried a couple of times and they just keep leaking. Unfortunately, I feel like they may just end up being resold although I hope not. Looking back, I wish we'd waited to buy a bunch of them until we knew how they would work on our boys and in our situation.
  • Diaper genie: We just use a regular garbage can, but yeah...It kinda smells.

  • Larger Swing (two if you have the room): We have both a smaller travel swing and a larger swing. The larger swing is vastly superior although it does take up more room. My husband used to use the smaller swing during the days while I was at work, but I hardly ever used it. That being said, I know some babies are not big swing fans, so I think it would make sense to try one out and buy a second of whichever works for you. Also, I would say we get along fine with only one if your space is constricted like ours.
  • Standing bouncer/jumperoo (two if you have the room): Our boys loved to stand, even early on, which I know is not true of every baby. They've been in their standing bouncer since 2.5 months and absolutely love it. I often wished we had two so they could stare at each other while also practicing their standing.
  • Bouncy seat: Their bouncy seat makes a great place to play (kicking the danglers and activating the sound on their own) and sleep. The vibration element is sort of useless past 3 months, but was more valuable earlier on.
  • Piano Play Mat: Basically any activity gym will do, but this one has been a huge hit with a number of moms that I know. A big one might be nice that would accommodate two babies at the same time. We didn't register for one at first and that was stupid. They really like kicking the little piano, looking at their reflection, and grabbing at the dangling toys. It can often keep them entertained for 30-60 minutes. 
  • Pack n Play vibrating box: Our friend's loaned us theirs, but this hooks on to the corner of the pack n play and gives it a little bit more of a comforting feel by making it vibrate. This was useful in the first couple months.
  • 2 Pack n Plays: Having one set up in our dining room gave us a safe place to put the boys while we got bottles ready in the first few months before they could sit up. Looking back, I might've purchased one with a changing table so I didn't have to do stairs very early on when I was still recovering.
  • Walk Around: I love this thing like nobody's business. It takes up a lot of room, but it entertains them so so much. Also, unlike a traditional walker, they're able to practice walking without being in danger of running into furniture or falling down the stairs.
  • Summer Infant Seat: This was used for a very narrow window of time, but it was useful because there was a point where they desperately wanted to sit up but couldn't do it safely by themselves. I would avoid the Bumbo, only because our chunkers had thighs that wouldn't fit in the Bumbo.

  • Big board books: We have LOTS of books, but I would recommend getting board books, and board books that are over 6" wide. It makes it easier to read to them when you're also holding them at the same time. Also, it makes it easier for them to focus on the pictures when they're nice and big. Some of our favorite big books are Duck & Goose, Thank You Bear, and Windows to Color.
  • Infant Bathtub: You only need one because you're probably not going to bathe both babies simultaneously. We used the infant sling for the first two or three months, so I would definitely get one that comes with an infant sling. I think most do.
  • Receiving Blankets: These end up having multiple uses--wrapping baby, cleaning up spit up, burp clothes, covering the changing table early on when they pee on you at like every change.
  • Camera: We recently bought one and I wish we'd had it earlier. Our phone pics just don't have the high quality that I want baby pictures to have and they can't hold enough video.
  • Extra Soothie Pacis: We got a few from the hospital, but it helps to have at least five per baby placed in convenient locations around the house.
  • Wet/Dry Laundry Bag: We absolutely LOVE our laundry bag. It can hang on the door and it is easy to carry down to the washer and drier. We also have a smaller version for the diaper bag.
  • 4 Hooded Towels
  • Big pack of wash cloths: Great for their intended purpose, but also for covering boys up while they're being changed so you don't get an impromptu shower.
  • Purell: For guests, but also for your hands before and after changes and feedings.
  • Baby Detergent
  • California Baby Shampoo and Body Wash

Traveling with Infants: 8.5 Month Group Vacation Edition

At the end of July, we ventured to the Northwoods of Wisconsin for a week-long vacation with friends. We rented a gorgeous house (on an island, no less!) and prepared to spend a week relaxing by the fire, soaking in some sun, and playing with some cute babies. Of the eight adults going, 75% had kids as well, so we didn’t feel like a tremendous imposition bringing the kids along. In addition to the twins, the island was also home to a 2 year old and a 3 month old for the week.

Looking back, there were some real successes in the way we handled the trip and some things I would definitely have done differently if I could do it all over again. So instead of rambling on with no structure, here are six things we did well and six mistakes we won't be making again.

Where I ruled:

1. Bringing Toys & Books
Without all the jumperoos, exosaucers, and play tables of home, we relied very heavily on the old blanket-on-the-floor-and-a-jabba-the-hutt-sized-pile-of-toys method. This was pretty successful, but mostly because my husband literally filled a giant storage bin with 95% of their toys and another one with about 80% of their books. This gave them plenty of variety. We also bought a few new toys for the road that would hold their attention for longer, such as the VTech Rhyme &Discover Book.

2. Booking a Place with a Washer & Dryer
We do laundry on a daily basis at home and vacation was no different. I honestly don’t think we’ll be able to travel to a place without laundry services/facilities ever again.

3. Downloading the “Tango” Application
This probably wouldn’t apply to many people, but this place was out of the range of cell reception…BIG time. That meant that our back up plan of using our phones as an audio baby monitor went right out the window. The second night, we downloaded Tango which allows you to make wifi calls, and since the house had wifi, this app allowed us to use the phones as a baby monitor so that we could enjoy some campfire and star gazing action once the babies went to sleep.

4. Planning Ahead
I started making a packing list three weeks before we left. I put it on the fridge with a pen and my husband and I added to it as we thought of things. This allowed us time to remember “Oh yeah! White noise machine!”, rather than trying to brainstorm all at once and inevitably forgetting something.

5. Having Awesome Friends
This trip would’ve been way more difficult had we traveled with jerks. While Greg and I tried not to impose on others as much as possible, it was nice to have caring and capable hands around when we needed them.

6. Not Bringing a Stroller
Because we literally didn’t leave the vacation property for seven days, having a stroller take up room in the car would’ve been a real waste.

Where I sucked:

1. Picking the Wrong Week
I wasn’t using the Wonder Weeks application yet when I booked this place, but had I been using it, I would’ve seen that the first day of this trip was also the first day of a “leap”, which means more fussiness, sleeplessness, clinginess, etc. We weren’t very flexible on our dates anyway, but if you have the choice, pick a week when they’re less likely to be having sleep regression/fussiness.

2. Forgetting the Baby Monitor
I remembered the screen part. I remembered the screen part charger. I, of course, forgot the freaking camera part. This was way stupid. Given the pretty pathetic distance range on our monitor, it probably wouldn’t have worked all the way down at the fire pit anyway, but it still would’ve been useful for watching them during naps when we were on the porch. We had real trouble putting them down because we had to stay in the room rather than just watching them settle down on their own on the video monitor. Us being in the room was a real impediment to them getting settled.

3. Driving Back Too Late
We left the island later than we had planned, pulling out of the parking lot after 11am. This meant that we didn’t get home until after 7pm, and the boys were really tough for the last 2-3 hours. In hindsight, they’re really best in the car during the AM and early afternoon hours when they’re more likely to nap. They’re used to staying up and playing between 4 and 8pm, so they got pretty angry and squirmy being confined to car seats.

4. Planning to Swim
Had there been a pool, sure. Had they been five, I’m sure I’d have to have pulled them out of the lake every night. But at 8.5 months? That water was way too cold and icky for them. I brought all these floaties and swimsuits and swim diapers that I never used. They didn’t take up much room, all things considered, but they were pretty much useless.

5. Not Prepping Them for the Pack n Plays
Our boys had literally NEVER slept in a pack n play. This was probably our biggest mistake. If I could go back, I’d have them sleep in them pack n plays for a week or so before the trip to get them used to them and to make sure they would work. Our boys are used to rolling around a lot in their cribs, and this just isn’t as easy or comfortable in the pack n play.

6. Not Getting Two Rooms
In a hotel, I would obviously never get two rooms unless it was a suite, but in a house, you really want two rooms—one for you and your spouse and one for the kids. I hated worrying that I’d wake them up when I crawled into bed or being unable to get my pajamas from my suitcase once they were asleep. Plus, the bed plus two pack n plays was pretty much the entire room.

Despite a lot of difficulty in the sleep department, it was a great trip. While traveling with infants is totally different than traveling before babies, that’s no reason to stay at home. Even though they were more difficult on vacation than they are at home, it was still an important trip for us to take as a family and as a group of friends. We made memories that I’ll absolutely never forget, started traditions, and the change of scenery benefited us greatly. Just plan ahead and be ready to roll with a little bit of chaos!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Soothing in the Fourth Trimester

Malcolm showing some serious fussiness at 2.5 weeks old
Harvey Karp, the man who brought us The Happiest Baby on the Block, refers to the first three months of life as "the fourth trimester". The idea is that babies shouldn't really be born at 40 weeks. They're not ready to be in the world, and therefore you have to artificial simulate some elements of the uterus as soothing methods for them, for example constriction and white noise. I found this concept to be true, and it guided a lot of the ways that we soothed the boys.

That being said, a lot of soothing is just trial and error. Different babies respond to different things, what works today may not work tomorrow, and what works for one type of upset-ness is just not going to work for a different kind. That's why I think it's important to have a long list of strategies in your pocket. While it will only further confuse and upset a baby to switch super quickly between different soothing methods with the speed of an AK-47, there's also something to be said for abandoning a strategy that isn't working after a few minutes in exchange for something else.

While they might not work for you or your baby, here are some of the soothing methods my husband and I kind of accidentally stumbled into during the first trimester. Some of them we got from books/online, but a lot of them were just kind of "I wonder if this would work".

    Malcolm with his paci at 3.5 weeks
  • Using the Pacifier: I always wanted to avoid the pacifier, but it was so helpful in the first two months. Now, a 3.5 months, we hardly use them at all because the boys have found their hands, but prior to them making this developmental step, the pacifier was an excellent soothing technique. To add more tension to the paci, we put our fingers inside of the nipple part, which the boys seemed to like.
  • Shushing: Sometimes the boys get in a crying circle from which they seemingly cannot remove themselves. In cases like this, shushing at a rather high volume usually helped to remind them that they weren't really that upset. You have to shush rather loudly though or else their own crying drowns your shushing out.
  • Baby Wearing: Putting the boys in the baby carrier on our chest was often useful for soothing their nighttime fussiness. It gives them the warmth, constriction, and sound of your heartbeat that they miss from the uterus. Also, it gives you the chance to get something done because it's a hands-free way to soothe.
  • Running Water: Sitting in the bathroom with the shower running or standing in the kitchen with the sink running helps to soothe because of the white noise, and since they were usually pretty congested, I imagine the steam helped them, too.
  • Putting the Baby Down: For some reason, our boys would sometimes stop crying when we put them on their changing table. In the third month, it was clear that sometimes they were tired of being held and wanted to be in their swing/bouncer/gym, but that probably wasn't true in those early weeks. They just wanted people warmth at that point.
  • Using the Car Seats: My boys loved their carseats, the car, and their snap n go stroller. Going for a walk while in their car seats in the snap n go, just going for a soothing drive, or even just getting strapped into their seats and then being kind of swung back and forth in the middle of the living room was like baby Ambien.
  • Patting Their Backs: I imagine this works because babies are gassy, but in the second and third month, putting the babies in my lap on their tummies and then patting their backs was helpful in soothing them. I'd sometimes do this for half an hour with their arms draped over my thigh. Of course, you can't do this at first because they just don't have the neck control, but once they did it was nice.
  • Bouncing them on my Knee/Thigh: I was one of those ADHD kids who rapidly bounced their leg up and down during class to the point where other students would firmly grab me knee, halting my neurotic shaking and say concretely, "stop". Little did I know that this nervous tick would help with parenting. Once the boys had decent neck control (after 2 months), bouncing them on our legs was a good way of keeping them calm.
  • Turn Off the Lights: I read somewhere that night time fussiness is sometimes the product of over-stimulation during the day. When they'd get super fussy at night, we'd combine the running water with low light as a calming tool.
  • Walking/Dancing Them: For who knows what reason, our boys tended to want to be higher up. You could do the exact same shushing and bouncing while standing that you were doing on the couch, and it was twice as effective when you were standing up.
Good luck! And if all else fails, remember that catch phrase that got me through: "They can't cry themselves to death". Also, it won't last forever.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Clothing Tips: 0-3 Edition

This blog exists to help my mistakes become someone else's gain. Today I'm going to comment on clothing as it pertains to the first three months of life. Many people might disagree with me, so remember that a lot of the clothing decisions I made have to do with the time of year and the climate. That being said, if I could do all my shopping over again, this is what I would do:

1. No shirts--newborns are held so often that onesies are way better than shirts. Shirts ride up and expose bellies constantly, which is especially undesirable in winter months. There are literally 0-3 shirts I bought that I love and never ever put on them.

2. Winter months=boring onesies--we almost always had the boys in one piece sleepers for the first two months. The boys would wear onesies underneath the sleepers, but no one ever saw them but my husband and me when we changed them. If you're eying a funny/clever/cute onesie, buy it in a size that will fit them between April and October. They don't need cute clothing if no one ever sees them.

Brendan at just over a month in a 0-3 sleeper
3. Sleepers--Invest most in sleepers for the 0-3 and newborn sizes. This is what our boys wore 24/7 for the first few months. When buying them, consider the time of year. The soft terry cloth or fleece ones are great for winter, but the cotton ones are also really nice. The two most important things I would look for in sleepers though would be zippers rather than snaps, and always buy sleepers with feet. Sleepers without feet in 0-3 size are almost completely useless, especially in the winter. Zippers may get jammed from time to time, but trust me, snaps at 3am in the dark never end well. Snaps aren't absolutely evil, but I'd avoid them if/when possible.

4. Buy pants with footies--Later on babies will wear shoes, but at first it's easier to just avoid socks by buying pants with footie bottoms.

Malcolm in a NB sleeper at 7ish weeks
5. Newborn Sizes vs 0-3 sizes vs 3 month sizes--It couldn't just be easy. Oh no. That would be ridiculous. In addition to three different sizes covering this short age range, there's also a tremendous difference between brands. For example, our onesies in 0-3 from Cafe Press only fit for the first month, 0-3 size from Old Navy were almost all in the garage sale box by 2.5 months, but Newborn sized Disney onesies with the grow an inch snaps still fit at 2.5 months. Go figure. Once you buy your stuff, I suggest you lay all the clothes out and sort them by size based on looking at them rather than relying on the tag. Another thing to look at is the weight range on each tag. This tends to be pretty accurate in my limited experience. Now how many should you buy of each? It depends on a number of things, but especially on how often you plan to do laundry. I would suggest having some in each of the three different early sizes (NB, 0-3, and 3 months). Many of our 0-3 clothes were far too big for the boys in their first month (when they weighed less than 8.5 lbs). Of course, some babies are born bigger than that, but I'd still strongly suggest having half a dozen onesies and 2 sleepers in the NB size per baby. If you have reason to believe you're baby might be born at a lower birth weight, maybe grab a few more. I really liked the Disney grow an inch onesies since they lasted for a long time, so those would be a good investment.

Hope that helps someone! Happy shopping!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Travels with Twins: Infant Road Trip Edition

We have braved the wilds of traveling with young twins, and I have lived to tell the tale! While traveling might seem like the last thing you want to do with newborn babies, there are some benefits to traveling when they’re still pretty young. For us, we just wanted to take the boys to see their great grandparents in Arkansas before Thanksgiving when they’ll be a year old and that infant cuteness will have almost given way to toddler insanity.

From our trip, here are some tricks that helped us. Please note that this is not “advice” per se. I’m not a travel expert, doctor, parenting expert, or driving expert, so please don’t regard my commentary as such. I’m just commenting on what worked for us.

First, you have to decide when you’re going to go. Many people suggest traveling overnight, but we figured this might make us both sleep deprived and make the traveling unsafe. We wanted to be as safe as possible with such precious cargo, so we decided to drive during the day. Our boys love car rides, even just around town, and they are great sleepers in the car. This obviously isn’t true of all babies, so that could have a big effect on when/if you travel. To make sure the during the day trip would work, we did a “test trip” a few weeks before we planned to take the plunge. We put the boys in the car and drove to a location about 3-4 hours away, and then returned home on the same day. This was really helpful, as it gave us an idea of what to expect and what we could improve about our travel strategy.

As we prepared for the big launch day, we did a few things to gear up. First, we purchased bottled, premade formula. We usually make our formula from powder, but we felt it was worth the extra money to have less hassle while on the road and in other people’s homes. We also purchased an extra bottle drying rack and bottlebrush. In the days leading up to the trip, we tried to use up all the pumped breast milk in the fridge so that we wouldn’t have to take it with us on the road, and it wouldn’t go bad sitting in the fridge during our absence.

My Granny with Malcolm
The night before the trip, we put the boys to bed early so that we could get out in the morning before rush hour. Once the boys were down, we packed up the minivan ahead of time so that we could feed the boys in the morning and get right on the road. The second the boys finish eating, the clock begins ticking down to their next feed, so you don’t want to waste an hour packing up the car. Obviously there were a few things we couldn’t pack ahead of time (their beds, formula that can’t sit out in the cold, valuables like laptops, etc), but anything that could go in, did.

In the morning it was feed, pack the remaining stuff, and go! Once on the road, the boys slept almost without incident for the first 3-4 hour cycle. This was pretty consistent both on the test trip, the trip down there, and the trip home. Once the boys fussed and were clearly ready to eat, we pulled over and fed and changed them.

For feedings and changes, we tried to do everything in the car. Here’s my thinking behind that—gas station bathrooms are unreliable as far as space, cleanliness, etc. The last thing I wanted to do was cart a screaming, hungry baby into the bathroom of the local Citgo just to find a broken changing table covered with years of dried baby poop. While changing the boys in the car was tough, especially when they pooped, it kept us from having to have them out in the February cold, and it sped up the changing process. I just put our travel-changing pad on the driver’s seat and changed them while I sat in the passenger seat. To bottle feed the boys, the husband and I would each take a baby and a bottle, and sit in the front seat with them. It was a little cramped and uncomfortable, but we liked the privacy in case the boys started screaming or spitting up.

My Grandma with Brendan
Once back on the road, the boys were always a little more restless the second 3-4 hour cycle. They’d nod off for a little bit, then wake back up and look around, and then get a little fussy…and this cycle would repeat itself a few times. To soothe them while we were driving, we did a few things. First, we would shake their car seats in the bases. Again, I’m not sure that this is safe to do, but my friend used to do it and it’s remarkable how well it works. We just pushed against the car seat and kind of shook it back and forth. This usually bought us some time. Another trick we used, which was probably awful for our tires and scared the crap out of other drivers, was to intentionally drive on the safety grooves along the side of the highway. These grooves are there to wake up drivers who fall asleep and start to go off the road, but the vibrations they create seemed to be pretty soothing to the boys. Lastly, I played white noise through the car’s sound system as loudly as possible, and shifted the audio to the rear of the car so that my husband and I could still talk. This one wasn’t as effective, but it couldn’t hurt, right?

To pump while driving (while I was the passenger of course), I luckily have a pump with pretty strong battery life. If the battery had gone low, I also purchased on A/C adapter for the car. It was pretty cheap on Amazon, but I never had to use it, so I really can’t review it. When the milk was pumped, I stored it in a Munchkin Cool Wrap bottle bag that I bought at Target. It stores up to three 8 oz bottles, and it kept them relatively cold. I’d use them in the next feeding as well so that they didn’t sit in the cooler for more than 4 hours.

Boys chilling on the passenger seat in Southern Illinois
We shockingly were able to do the 667 mile trip with only two stops, but as I said, our boys love the car. Before babies, this trip used to take us about 10 hours, and it took about 12.5 hours this time. It was a little tough, but not impossible by any stretch of the imagination, and I’d definitely do it again.

As far as the destination itself, we stayed with family, so I have no experience with hotels and babies. Staying with family makes things easier because you have more space and access to a fridge, sink, etc, but it also makes it a little harder because you’re worried about the little ones bothering your family with their fussiness or early morning wailing. Luckily, the boys were pretty obliging and so was our family. The only other struggle about being away from your house with little ones is the lack of swings, bouncers, activity gyms, etc where you are going. We did a lot of blanket-on-the-floor, which was fine. If the boys needed a little swinging, we would put them in their car seat and rock it manually.

Wondering what a packing list looks like with three-month-old twins? Well, here it is:
  • 2 Rock n Plays
  • 72 count box of diapers
  • Extra Wipes
  • 6 six packs of formula
  • Breast pump and accessories
  • Bottles
  • Bottle drying rack
  • Bottle brush
  • Diaper bag
  • Suitcase with baby clothes and swaddles
  • My suitcase
  • Husband’s suitcase
  • Jogging Stroller (should’ve left this at home)
  • Snap n Go Stroller
  • 2 Baby Carriers
  • 2 Car seats
  • Bottle cooler bag
  • Baby detergent
All in all, traveling wasn’t as stressful as I thought it might be. As long as you plan well and have a little help where you’re headed, there’s no reason that you can’t take your little ones out and about, especially once they’re sleeping through the night. Just plan ahead, be flexible, be safe, and have fun!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Our Journey: The Third Month

Malcolm and his attempt at thumb sucking
With each passing day the boys become more responsive, interactive , and just an all around joy. Don't get me wrong, they still do plenty of yelling, crying, and spitting all over us, but it's definitely becoming more manageable.

As the third month began, we started seeing greater neck control, and as a result the boys liked to be held in a sitting position on our legs. This lent itself to more active forms of soothing such as bouncing on our legs, and as a result the pacifier is rarely seen now at the end of the third month. Right now the pacifier is occasionally helpful at night, but around the middle of the third month the boys began to find their hand, and sometimes they even find their thumb. This has helped them to occasionally soothe themselves, although they're not all the way there yet in their coordination.

Also as a product of better neck control, we were able to get the bouncer set up for them around the middle of the third month. At first they really could only use it while we kind of watched their head and neck, but now they're pretty independent with it. They're still too little to bounce with their legs, but they still seem to enjoy fidgeting in it so that they rock and bounce slightly.

Brendan chilling in the bouncer
Smiles are a great benefit of this age. They now smile and coo with remarkable frequency, and it's almost always in reaction to external stimulation. This makes everything that much cuter and that much more rewarding.

As parents, we've been developing and branching out as well. We tried to transition the boys into their cloth diapers, which was a profound failure. They went through about ten outfits in 24 hours, and we put the issue on the back burner until they get a little bigger.

In the later part of the month I did a couple of shorter shifts at work before transitioning back to full time in early March. We also took the babies on a road trip to see their great grandparents in Arkansas. It was quite the feat of bravery on our part, and I'll post something on this specifically later this week.

Our final big milestone of the month is that we got Malcolm to sleep on his own in the crib one night kind of without incident which shocked the heck out of us! We didn't make a permanent transition yet because of the trip, but we plan on getting them both in to their own room in month four. I'll miss them being in our room though. There's something so comforting about hearing their breathing (and mildly creepy sleep-laughing) as you fall asleep. It's weird to think that there are already things that they're outgrowing--clothes, beds, and even titles. At 3 months old and just as plump and bright eyed as ever, they're now officially infants and the newborn phase is over forever!

And then the real one.
A silly one...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Becoming A Parent: How Having Kids Has Changed Me

How many of us have heard the old axiom “having kids changes everything”? Of course you have. It’s chanted by young parents in that annoying, condescending voice that all childless twentysomethings secretly despise. As a childless twentysomething myself, I can remember hearing this one from friends, family, random strangers, and thinking “Give me a break; get off your cross”, but now, standing on the other side, I will say that this common parental mantra isn’t a complaint or an act of superiority-doused condescension…it’s just the darned truth. I always assumed that by “everything”, new parents meant that their sleep schedules, habits, etc were altered, and don’t get me wrong, they are, but I think the bigger point to consider is that having kids changes people in a very personal way, and everyone reacts to it differently. I don’t think that I could have predicted the biggest and most fundamental effects it’s had on me.

I'm even shooshing Brendan! lol.
1. I’m a Quieter, Gentler Me
No one who knows me would describe me as quiet. In fact, anyone reading this who knows me is probably in cardiac arrest at the mere suggestion of me becoming more docile. Someone send an ambulance. Truthfully though, having the boys around makes me want to channel my inner monk. I don’t know what it is; maybe it’s that babies make enough noise at is without me contributing, but I have been so much more relaxed in my behavior since we got home from the hospital. It’s not that I don’t get worked up and loud, it’s just that it happens less often and over fewer things. I guess maybe I worry that the boys will sense my agitation and reciprocate with a little agitation—the last thing this household needs—so I just try to keep it mellow in the hopes that they will return the favor. So, in short, I’m not saying that my award winning moral outrages or high volume tirades are entirely gone, but expect to see them as far less regular visitors.

2. I Don’t Procrastinate
I was the queen of procrastination. 95% of the time things got done on time, but by the skin of my teeth and not without a few sleepless nights. But since November 16th? Forget about it. Almost from the minute we came home, I found myself doing things the minute I got a free…well…minute. The bills? Paid on time. My report card comments for work? Done the earliest they have been in four years of teaching. The dishes? Never sitting in the sink for more than 24 hours. Before babies, I could afford to put things off. If I came home with four hours of grading to do, I knew that I could wait until 7pm to start it. Nothing was going to just come up to prevent me from working on it from 7pm until 11pm straight. Now? If I don’t do the dishes while one baby is napping in the swing and my husband is holding the other baby, when will I do them? I can’t guarantee that another hands-free opportunity will present itself, so I’m forced to seize every free moment and get things done as soon as the opportunity presents itself. I’m really impressed with my ability to kick procrastination to the curb; I just wish I’d done it years ago.

3. I Maintain “Routines”
I always hated the idea of “routines”.  I never understood why people always went to the gym at the same time every single day, or had an order for their morning grooming activities. I just did things as needed, when they made sense, and when I had time. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had a standard routine when it comes to any aspect of my life. But now, much for the same reason that I’ve stopped procrastinating, routines have begun to dominate my life. When I wake up, I go through the same steps in the same order to get the morning feeding ready, set up my breast pump, grab the remotes, and get the baby on his bottle. After he’s done? I get him down in the pack n play for a few minutes while I wash dishes and eat breakfast. At night? I put the boys to bed after consuming the same amount of formula every night, and once they’re down I do dishes and then sit on the couch and drink a single beer. It’s so routine it’s scary. Sometimes the beer is a glass of chocolate milk, but that’s about as “wild” as it gets.

Now you may be thinking “but I already do all of those things, so therefore this whole parenting changes you things is totally not applicable to me”, but I believe that everyone has their own reactionary changes that they will experience that can be neither predicted nor prepared for. I’d say the same is even true of grandparents. I don’t think my father, who has always been a serious workaholic, had any idea that he would adore being a grandparent as much as he does. I’ve honestly hardly ever seen him value something so much in my entire life and, heck, I’m his daughter.

So, yes, the axiom is true, and I’m sure all my friends without kids who bemoaned the breeders with me at this time last year are all like “you’ve betrayed us! Traitor!”. But changed doesn’t necessarily mean improved, and it certainly doesn’t mean that other life events don’t also have a monumental impact. This is just one of those life events, and once you’re there, I think you’ll be surprised at what you look like in the vestments of parenthood. I know I am.