MicroblogMondays: Four-Month-Old Is so Much Fun – Okra

Okra

I love our boy.  His personality has really emerged in the last month or so.

When Okra was born, he was this itty bitty thing that was 6 lbs only.  His features were more prominent back then because his face was skinny.  Fast forward four months.  At his most recent check up, he weighed 14 lbs 6 oz and measured 26 inches.  He has grown over 8 lbs and 6 inches since birth.  Lifting him and carrying him around has been harder and harder.  But he has the most kissable cheeks ever.  So juicy and so soft.  Whenever I lift him up or carry him, I can’t help but kiss his cheeks all the time.  Just like his sister, Okra is also a very good looking baby.  He has the softest hair (much softer than Bunny’s) that is wavy in the front and curly in the back.  There is a little curly strand on top of his head that has earned him the nickname “onion” by my mom.  After he lost his baby hair early on, he was bald for a while, so the hair on top of his head is here to stay. I love stroking his hair.  He has a very round face, nice thick brows, big and round eyes, extra long eyelashes, and a straight tall nose.  His double chin is super adorable.  He looks a lot like Bob but with Asian features.  He actually does not remind me of our donor at all as he is Bob’s mini-me.  Okra has chunky arms, body, thighs, and toes.  His toes are super cute.  He is just one chubby baby that has all the juice that I want in a baby.

Okra drools constantly.  He wets his bib quickly and needs to change into another.  It’s interesting that his gums, upon examination by our pediatrician, were not as swollen as Bunny’s, although Bunny doesn’t drool at all.  He bites on his clothes, his hands, my hand, or the burp cloth.  Basically whatever comes into contact with his mouth.

Okra is the needier baby out of the two.  He loves to be held and used to cry a lot.  His crying is very loud.  His mouth is wide open and his lips and uvula vibrate.  He still cries more often than Bunny but is more easily consolable these days.  I think he is getting more mature and can regulate his emotions a little bit more easily.  Okra is definitely a mama’s boy.  About a month ago, he started to develop a preference for me.  Whenever I walk by, his face lights up and his smile grows big.  He tracks my every move.  Even when he is crying, he would stop once I lifts him up.  It warms my heart to know that he loves seeing me so much.  My mom jokes that when he sees me, it’s like him seeing honey.  Okra’s smiles are very sweet.  He laughs loudly just like his sister. When he is not crying, he is a super sweet baby who loves to look at people with his big eyes and looks happy.

Okra naps much better than Bunny.  He cries at first.  Then his crying turns into this mumble that sounds a lot like complaints.  When I hear that, I know that he is about to fall asleep.  He would then yawn, and continue to whimper a little.  Then he’d be out.  He would usually stay asleep for about an hour to two hours.  He sometimes cries very loudly during his nap but would snap out of it himself and goes back to sleep on his own.  Unlike Bunny, Okra had a more difficult time going down for the night.  For a while, I found myself rocking him for 10 to 20 minutes before he would calm down enough to sleep.  I realized that this pattern was not productive for him or me as he was relying on me as his crutch to fall asleep.  I felt that he was ready for some sleep training.  I consulted with my friend who used a modified crying it out method.  We started with letting him cry for gradual intervals before going in the room to console him for about 30 seconds without picking him up.  The intervals went from 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 9 minutes, to 10 minutes for the first night.  It took him 25 minutes to fall asleep.  The second night started with 7 minutes, 9 minutes, and 10 minutes.  We didn’t even have to go to the 10-minute interval and Okra fell asleep after 14 minutes.  Ever since then, the subsequent days were on and off with a few minutes of crying.  After working at it for a couple of weeks, Okra has gotten the routine down.  After our 7ish feed, Bob comes home to play with them for a little bit.  We read a couple of books, sing a few songs, and pray together as a family.  I first put down Bunny who just falls asleep on her own.  Then I put down Okra by swaddling him, holding him, and telling him that I love him and I will see him in the morning.  He would go down calmly.  I go to turn off the lamp, turn on the sound machine and the night light, and exit the room.  He has been going down for the past many nights without even a whimper.  I am so proud of him for being able to fall asleep without my help.  Routine is powerful.

Okra has very good lower body strength.  Our pediatrician told us at the four-month visit that Okra has the muscle strength of a 6-month-old.  When he was about 2.5 months old, he would hold onto our hands and stand up on us without needing support for his neck.  Since turning four months, I let the babies play in a hand-me-down jumperoo with books underneath it.  Okra can sit in it and bounce on the books while using his hands to manipulate the knobs and buttons for 15 minutes.  He looks very tall when he plays in that thing.  His hands, on the other hand, are not as nimble as Bunny’s.  For the longest time, he would hold a fist with his thumbs pointing up when we offered him something.  It wasn’t until these past couple of weeks when he started to take things from us with his hands. Unlike Bunny, he loves tummy time, and can be flipped on his tummy for an extended period of time.  Okra also chats a lot with us.  He sees us and starts talking.  He loves to be tickled.  He also likes reading and songs.  He can focus on a few books and look at every single page with me.  He likes “When Cows Get Up in the Morning” and laughs hysterically when I sing “Moo-oo”.  This is such a fun age.

Other than his reflux and congestion, Okra is healthy for the most part, although he just caught a cold last week and has been coughing and more congested than usual.  It’s heartbreaking to hear a little baby cough.  He is definitely feeling sick, but he is still a happy baby.  We clear his nose with saline drops and Nose Frida constantly.  He cries like a crazy person when we lay him down and show him the saline drops bottle.  Sorry but we have to be mean to him because that’s the only way he can breathe better.  Since he has gotten sick, his appetite has tanked.  I just hope that he doesn’t lose weight and Bunny doesn’t catch the cold from him.

Okra is such a fun baby at four months.  I can’t wait to see what his and his sister’s next tricks will be.

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MicroblogMondays: Four-Month-Old Is so Much Fun – Bunny

Bunny

Bunny was a beauty when she was born.  Now at four months old, she continues to be gorgeous with a full head of black hair, bright and big dark eyes, a tall and straight nose, beautiful lips, and a delicate chin.  She looks like a mixture of Bob and our donor.  Even her fingers, legs, and feet are dainty.  She is such a good looking baby.

This girl truly loves to smile, laugh, and chatter.  She is definitely the social butterfly who would forego a nap to hang out with people.  One time a very good friend of mine came to visit for the first time.  The two of them had such a good time that Bunny missed her nap and my friend missed most of the basketball game that she was supposed to watch with her husband.  Although she doesn’t nap well, Bunny is a very good sleeper.  She goes down by herself at night after her 7pm feed and doesn’t need any help with falling asleep.  You give her a binky and she is fine.  She wakes up in the morning chattering and laughing in the crib to herself.  You go in to look at her and she would give you the biggest smile that would brighten anyone’s day.  My mom often jokes that Bunny would be the best person to see on Chinese New Year’s Day because her happiness would bring fortune for the upcoming year.  Bunny rarely cries.  When she does, you know that something is up with her.  The good thing is she is easily consolable, which makes it a lot easier for me.  When you talk to her, she responds with her baby coos.  She is very alert and tracks people and things with her eyes.  She notices her brother Okra more often and always reaches her hand out to him.  Whether or not he takes her hand is hit or miss.  When Okra cries, she has a concerned look on her face and sometimes would also pout and start crying.

Baby girl seems to love reading.  Whenever I read her a book, she looks at all the pages I show her with such concentration she seems a lot older than 4 months old.  She can read through a book like Llama Llama Red Pajama with me.  She also loves it when I sings “Slippery Fish” to her.  This is a song I learned from our library’s “Bouncing Babies” program.  Whenever I sing “Gulp gulp gulp” and “Oh No!”, she laughs.  Bunny doesn’t quite play with the soft blocks that we bought for them for Christmas yet.  Her hands are still too tiny for the size of the blocks.  She does squeeze and grab a firefly toy and seems to enjoy it for a few minutes.

Physical strength wise, baby girl is very good with her hands and fingers.  She holds on to a toy for a long time.  She drops the toy and picks it right up without difficulty.  She loves to grab my hair with a grip so tight that sometimes it’s hard to pry her hand open.  Her fingers are also very nimble.  She takes off her binky and puts it back in her mouth.   Recently when she lies on the play gym, she gets frustrated that she can touch the dangling rings above her but can’t get them down.  She would yell for attention and eventually cry for help.  Bunny hates tummy time; she cries within a few minutes into it.  I still make her do it.  She recently started to want to stand on her feet while sitting on my lap.  It seems that her lower body strength is finally catching up with her brother’s.  She rolls to one side all the time.  She kicks her legs up and towards her face while lying down.  When you lay her in her crib one direction, you’d often find her facing the other direction in a few minutes just by kicking her legs, rolling to one side, and moving her bum.  Swaddling has been harder because Bunny Houdini’s arms escape quite easily.  But we will continue to swaddle during sleep until we absolutely can’t.  She can sit up with support with a strong and straight neck.  After the babies turned four months, we let them play in a hand-me-down jumperoo.  Although Bunny’s legs can’t touch the floor, she sits in it well and manipulates a bunch of the knobs and dials on the jumperoo with ease.

Bunny’s recent feeding pattern has been a bit worrisome.  She had been taking 3.5 to 5 or even 6 oz per meal for a while.  The day after our trip, she returned home and began to lose interest in her bottles.  Sometimes she’d take a whole bottle.  Other times she only takes an ounce or two.  When she is done, she sticks out her tongue, turns her head, and blocks her bottle with both hands.  I started to feed her in the nursery with the curtain drawn, lights out, and sound machine on to reduce distractions.  The situation has improved a little bit with this strategy.  But her daily intake has been variable.  One morning after having not eaten for eight hours, she only took a couple of ounces.  I was literally in tears sitting in the dark worrying that she’d lose weight.  I never thought that my child’s feeding pattern would make me so emotional.  I had many speculations of what might have caused this problem: Reflux meds not working?  Reflux meds dosage not correct? Formula not appropriate?  etc etc.  She still vomits at times and spits up at times, but she seems happy before and after.  My friend A who has twin girls is always the wise one.  She also experienced a period of time when one of her twins was also eating variably.  She said she’d spent too much time worrying about her daughter.  Instead, she wishes that she had enjoyed her baby more.  She advised me to call the nurse line if I wanted a peace of mind.  The nurse basically said that Bunny’s behavior is quite normal for this age, and I have been doing everything I can to make sure she enjoys her meals.  Babies at this age are curious and highly distractible so minimizing distractions in the environment would really help.  I have since learned to let her enjoy her meal as much as she wants without looking or acting worried.  If I try a few more times and she doesn’t take the bottle anymore, I won’t force the case.  We have been trying to stretch the babies’ sleep til 7am.  But because Bunny eats more when drowsy, I have been having myself and the night nanny feed her at 6am.  At our four-month check up, our pediatrician reassured me that at this age, some babies have what he calls “appetite slump”.  Maybe Bunny is one of those babies that doesn’t need to eat as much to still have enough calorie-intake.  He kindly suggested for us to let her wake up naturally then feed her.  We will take his advice and let the babies sleep until whenever they wake up.

At our four-month check up, our pediatrician said that Bunny is very healthy.  She now weighs 12 lbs 15 oz, which is 21st percentile.  Her birth weight was 6 lb 9 oz, so her current weight is almost double of her birth weight.  Her height is 25.5 inches, which is 87th percentile.  She wears 3 to 6 month and 6 to 9 month clothes.  She still wears size 1 diapers.  Doctor said that her growth is fantastic.  However, if I am concerned about her eating pattern and her weight gain, I can always bring her back for another check up in two weeks.

Bunny brings so much joy to my life.  I am so fortunate to call myself her mother.  It’s so fun to watch her grow and reach milestones.  I am so lucky to be able to stay home to witness her and her brother’s growth during these first few months of their lives.

MicroblogMondays: First Road Trip

First road trip, with the babies, that is.

With holiday week-long shut down at Bob’s work, he tagged on a week of his six-week parental leave after the holidays.  Because he had the whole two weeks off, I had the bright idea of taking a road trip with the babies. They would be 3.5 months by then, so I felt that we should be able to go away with the babies.  Honestly the idea of taking a road trip with the babies scared me.  How would one even begin to plan a trip like that with all the logistical issues that may arise.  My friends with twins as well as parents from the local parents of multiples club encouraged me that it would be totally doable, and plenty of people have done that in the past with their three-month olds.  I opted for an Airb.nb rental rather than a hotel room because of the pricing as well as the access to a kitchen and second bedroom.  With bottle feeding and diaper changing, the ability to access a sink and water plus a living room with couches to feed the babies was essential.  After much consideration, a town up north about 1.5 hours away was our choice since the drive wouldn’t be too long, but it was far enough for us to feel like a road trip.  The rental listed all the necessary amenities as well as a pack n play for the babies’ bed time.  The rental fees were reasonable.  Armed with tips and encouragement from fellow twins parents, we booked the rental and were praying for the best.

Instead of using suitcases like usual travels, I filled up three clear storage boxes with baby stuff: clothes, burp clothes, towels, sleep sacks, sound machine, formula, bottles, drying rack, changing pad, diaper cream, etc etc etc.  The thing was, I couldn’t pack a lot of essential things until the morning of the trip.

We managed to get on the road later than planned and checked into the rental after the time that I wanted.  The babies were screaming for food.

The rental was fine.  It was crammed with a lot of stuff.  Too much for me.  And when we sat in the living room for feeding, my nose started itching.  It kept on itching for the next three days, which meant that the living room was very dusty.  The pack n play was set up in the second bedroom. Although we brought a spare, we opted to put both babies in the same rental one just for the convenience of it.  Plus the second bedroom was small, so one pack n play was more than enough to take up room.  The babies barely fit into the same pack n play but we figured that would have to do for those three nights.  The rest of the rental was fine except for a few strands of hair on the shower stall and the bathroom walls.  I guess housekeeping didn’t do that good of a job.

That night was New Year’s night.  I hadn’t thought about the difficulty of finding a place for dinner, but the restaurants that we drove by were all dark.  We finally drove to a mall that had a couple of restaurants open.  By the time we parked the car and walked over, one restaurant was already closed.  That left us with the pub next door.  Good thing they took us in with our massive double stroller.  The food came out fast and we all had a good time.  But it was way past the babies’ feeding time and bed time.  I had a feeling that Okra would have a hard time in the middle of the night.  Lo and behold, he woke up at 4am crying.  We usually let him cry for a little bit at home because he sleeps in his own crib.  Although it is in close proximity to Bunny’s crib, we are comfortable letting him cry trusting that she won’t wake up.  On the trip since they shared the same pack n play, I was trying to avoid waking up baby girl.  I immediately picked up Okra and took him to our bedroom.  I think that was a huge mistake.  The more he was comforted, the harder he cried.  This lasted about an hour, and we decided to feed him and Bunny at 5am.  Needless to say, the next day both Bob and I were exhausted.  And the next morning there was a large quantity of ants hanging out in the bathroom by the bathroom mat.  Very gross.

Exhaustion didn’t stop us from going out.  Where we stayed was very close to restaurants, coffee shops, and shops.  We had visited this town quite a few times before we had these babies.  We pushed the babies in a stroller and walked to brunch.  We visited the visitors center, coffee shop, a yarn shop, and an antique/thrift shop. The babies couldn’t go into the yarn shop due to the steps in the front of the shop.  Talk about all the things that I never noticed prior to having to push a stroller.  So I met Bob at the thrift shop later.  When I was waiting for Bob to look at trains, I was pushing the twins around and spotted this Precious Moments figurine.  You can see it in this photo:

Don’t you think that I had to get it?  And I did.

The babies were really well behaved when we were out and about, but going out with them was tiring.  We stayed in for the rest of the afternoon and even ordered food to be delivered to us.  We just simply did not have enough energy to pack them up for another outing on the same day.  After the 7pm feed, it was time for bed for the babies.  Bunny is usually okay with going down, but Okra had an extremely difficult time.  Rocking him didn’t work.  We eventually had to swing him in his car seat in order for him to go down.  It took over an hour to put him down.  That night, after their 10pm feed, Okra woke up at 1:40 crying.  This time I immediately took away Bunny from the pack n play and let Bob deal with Okra.  It took 40 minutes this time for Bob to calm him down while I slept with Bunny next to me in the next bedroom.  The funny thing was, Bob put Okra down diagonally on the queen bed.  When he returned to the room after getting a drink of water, he tried to put Okra back straight but the baby would have nothing to do with it.  He started screaming again, and Bob had to put him back to the original position which just left 6 inches of room for Bob to sleep.  Poor daddy did not sleep well at all that night.

With two nights of minimal sleep, we were again exhausted the next day.  But we were very excited because we made a decision to go to a Peruvian restaurant that we visited before and loved.  Let me just tell you that the food was to die for!  We had 3 kinds of ceviche, pork stew with a side of beef heart, steak, and yuca fries.

Everything was so delicious and I savored every single bite.  Once again, the babies were so good, and we all had a wonderful time.  It was the highlight of our trip and that was the only thing that we did that day.  We went back to the rental and let the babies have a chill afternoon so they could nap better than being out and about.  The third night, Okra (along with Bunny) slept well until after 5:30am.  It seemed like our baby boy finally got used to the new environment.

There was one little incident that left a little negative note in our get away.  I texted the host of our rental to ask for a late check out at noon time so we could feed the babies. He responded with “no” because the housekeeper was going to show up at 11am for a cleaning.  Of course I honored that and tried our best to get out of the house at 11am.  Bob started loading the van at 10:55am and I was putting the babies in the carseats. At 11am, we were upstairs in the second bedroom trying to put away the pack n play.  We finally did, and I did a final walk through.  We were in the van at 11:06am.  I know exactly what time it was because we were trying to figure out if we should go to town or go home and feed the babies at home.  We decided to go home.  However, once we got on the freeway, we realized that the two Boppy pillows (that the babies use for every single feeding) were left on the couch.  We drove back to the rental to retrieve the pillows.  Later that day, to my surprise, I received a request from the host through Airb.nb for $75.  It was for the penalty for rescheduling the housekeeper.  After going back and forth with the host, I finally understood what happened.  The housekeeper came by after 11am and saw that our van was in the driveway.  Instead of checking with us, she told the host that we were still inside the property.  The host asked her to return later to clean, but she requested $75 rescheduling fees.  Of course now we had to pay that $75.  What made me upset was that the host never checked with us to see if we were on our way out.  Through his messages, I gathered that he believed that we ignored his text and decided to feed the babies in the house past the checkout time.  He wrote a review about me saying that we checked out an hour late, when in fact we vacated the property by 11:06am.  I was very upset that he made assumptions about us that we were feeding the babies there, but it was just not true.  He was basically calling me a liar which I loathe because I am an honest person.  I believe that when the housekeeper saw our van was when we returned to retrieve the pillows.  I had never rented a place or a hotel room where there was no grace period for checkout.  We paid the $75 but I maintained that the penalty was unreasonable and unfair.  It was not about the money but about the principle.  The only things that we did wrong were 1) leaving 6 minutes late and 2) forgetting some very important things at the rental.  I was mad for a couple of days as it left a bad taste in my mouth for our first road trip with our babies.  But I decided that it wasn’t worth my time and energy, so I let it go.

All in all it was a great trip despite that little unfortunate incident.  We now know that we can survive and still have fun with the babies.  Everything was very low key.  We would have gone out more and would eat out instead of ordering takeout if we didn’t have the babies.  But I didn’t feel like we were missing out.  We were building memories as a family and that’s important.  This trip also allowed us to once again realize how blessed we are to have so much help at home.  Without my mom and the night nanny, Bob and I were truly on our own.  The time we had by ourselves with the babies was very trying and testy, but we survived.  (LOL)  We had to figure everything out ourselves, and I couldn’t just call out to my mom for the things that I needed done.  Plus we were not in the familiar environment of our home so we had to figure out a new set of routines for those few days.  It was challenging, but it was definitely the right decision to go away.  Having kids shouldn’t and won’t stop us from having fun and living life.  I am just so glad that we went and can’t wait to go away again when the babies are older.

MicroblogMondays: Choked Up

This Christmas was obviously different from the many Christmases in the past now that our twins are here with us.  We had a low key Christmas still.  One manmade but fully decorated Christmas tree, four stockings, and one present from us for the babies (and other presents from friends and family).  Regardless of how low key it was, I felt tremendously blessed that the babies have helped make this season extra special.  Christmas day was not unlike other days.  Other than opening presents in the morning, we had the same routines as usual.  Well, except for one moment when I was particularly reminded of the blessings that our life has become.  While feeding Bunny, there was a sweet moment that I noticed.  She was quietly eating while holding my fingers.  I was choking up a little while enjoying this tender moment with my daughter knowing that it took such a long time and tremendous effort to get to this point.  Once again, I am reminded to not take these little precious moments in life for granted.