Okra’s language has grown a lot recently. He has gone from using single words to putting two to three words together. You’d think that this progress in communication would reduce his tantrums. However, it is not the case. Despite being able to tell us more verbally, he started to throw toys on the floor out of frustration. His tantrums or meltdowns come quickly and are often times unpredictable. He could be playing nicely and happy one second, and becomes upset the next. He has been throwing his wooden trains on the floor to show his frustrations. In the beginning, I was at a loss as to how to respond to him throwing his toys. I would tell him “No throwing” and make him say sorry. When this happens in my mom’s care, she stands there helplessly and says to herself how naughty he is. But I know that he is not being naughty. This is his way of communicating to us he is unhappy/upset/frustrated. The more we tell him no or ignore him, the more he throws. I want him to know that our hands are not for throwing toys. Most recently when he gets upset and throws things, I pick him up and hold him from behind to hold both of his arms tight. I pick up the toys from the floor with him in my arms. I tell him that I can tell he is frustrated, but toys are for playing and holding, not for throwing. Holding him seems to calm him down more quickly. I hold him until he doesn’t struggle out of my arms anymore. If I know why he is frustrated (such as having a difficult time putting a toy together), I show him how to fix whatever it is that needs to be fixed. I don’t make him say sorry anymore because I don’t think it is meaningful as he doesn’t really know what it means. His toy throwing happens quite a few times a day. I handle the situation the same way every tine. I really don’t know if this is the most appropriate way to handle his frustration/meltdown/tantrum, but I am really trying my best to learn how to handle it. I hope that as his ability to communicate continues to grow, his meltdown will lessen and the habit of throwing things will disappear.
One day my sister-in-law came to join me and the kids at the play gym. At the end while I was putting the kids in the stroller and giving them some snacks, my sister-in-law suddenly said, “I need to apologize for something that I said; I made a mistake on your behalf.” At that moment, I half-guessed what she meant, and it wasn’t far off from my hunch. She and my brother had dinner with a mutual friend, and the topic of our twins came up. This mutual friend asked, “How come the twins looked nothing like Isabelle?” My sister-in-law wasn’t thinking much and blurted out that it was somebody else’s eggs, or something to that effect. Our mutual friend thought that it was our gestational carrier’s eggs, but my SIL clarified that it was someone else’s. Once my SIL said it out loud, she knew that she had made a mistake from seeing the horror on my brother’s face. She made our mutual friend swear that she won’t tell others, but she didn’t feel good that I didn’t know that this mutual friend knew. She explained that she was caught off guard at that moment. When this topic comes up, she usually would say that Bob’s genes are very strong and the kids just look a lot like him. But this time she just told it without thinking about it. Afterwards, my brother was more mad at the friend than my sister-in-law because he felt that she shouldn’t have asked, as the question puts people on the spot. My SIL was horrified that she had told someone without consulting with me first and she was sincerely sorry about it. I told her that it is okay because this is not some dark secret. But I have been working on telling the kids about their genetic origins and before they have the cognitive ability, language, and maturity to tell people about it, I do not want those other than our chosen friends and family to know.
How did/do I feel about it? It has been a few days and I am still processing my feelings. I am not mad at my SIL at all. It IS a difficult question to answer and I felt that I should have prepared my loved ones better by giving them an answer to give people who ask. I am a bit mad at our mutual friend. What gives her the right to question why my kids don’t look like me? I mean, plenty of people do not look like their parents. If their parents did not use a gestational carrier to carry and give birth to them, I doubt that their friends and family would ask why they don’t look like their parents. The fact that our family building path involved a gestational carrier makes people feel that they can question the origin of my kids’ genetics. Just because I didn’t get to carry my babies, the chances of encountering difficult to answer questions are so much higher. At the same time, I did use donor eggs to create my family. And again, this is not some dark secret, so I feel that I *should* be okay with these questions because I should own up to my decision proudly. I don’t know. Like I said, I am still processing my feelings. One thing I am sure is that my SIL probably won’t blurt out donor eggs easily in the future. And, I should think about how to prepare my family better in the future because I am sure this question is going to come up again.
Last Wednesday I turned 45.
It seems like it wasn’t too long ago when Bob and I met, dated, got married, and tried for kids. You blink, and I am at an age when I thought my kids would be at least teenagers. My friends who got married and had kids early now have high schoolers and college-aged kids. My kids are not even two yet. The number 45 feels old because next year at 46 things seem to go downhill with approaching late 40s and becoming 50. When I am 50, my kids are only going to be 6, almost 7.
Anyways, these thoughts about my age didn’t stop me from enjoying my birthday. When I was still snuggling my pillow in my warm blanket, Bob was already up and walking around. Later, he put something on my head. I opened my eyes and grabbed whatever it was. He gave me a birthday card from the kids and another one from him. I love these cards! The one from the kids is really cute, and the one from him says these really sweet things about me and us. The cards started my day right. Bunny and Okra have been kind of into birthdays and singing birthday songs. So on that day my mom led them to say happy birthday and sing to me several times. It is so cute that the kids are now talking and can say many things that are mostly clear, including happy birthday. This is vastly different from a year ago when they were only 9 months. The rest of the day was low key, with me taking the kids to get my favorite coffee, my mom taking me out to a yummy Burmese lunch, and dinner out with my husband to get a nice bowl of udon at our favorite udon place. Only the two of us having an adult conversation.
You know the best thing that happened on that day? The kids did not throw one single tantrum or have any meltdowns on that day. ALL. DAY. LONG.
Wow you know how much of a miracle that was considering the kind of tantrums and meltdowns they have these days? They were SOOOO pleasant all day long. Even prime time for tantrums like right after nap was filled with laughters and happy chatting. I was so impressed that it was like they almost knew that they had to give mommy a pleasant birthday.
Well, the next day was definitely payback time. Tantrums were nonstop from breakfast time until bedtime. The two of them took turns having meltdowns about everything under the sun, and sometimes you don’t even know why they were having a hard time. It was like they exploded after not getting upset for a day. My fellow twin mom friend said, “At least they kept it together for your birthday itself. Much more than that would be too much to ask.” I completely agree with her.
The highlight of this birthday was returning to our favorite steak house on Saturday for our prime rib dinner. This place has gotten harder to make a reservation in the last few years. We tried to make one for Bob’s birthday in February. When it didn’t work out, we booked it for my birthday instead. So we had had our reservation for five months! The dinner did not disappoint. It was lovely to again sit and have adult conversation while eating yummy food. I was supposed to have a glass of white wine after my lemon drop, but I am so light weight now that one cocktail did me in. That was okay though. I didn’t need to drink another glass of wine to feel celebratory. The dinner and the company were perfect.
This was how I celebrated being 45. It was perfect for me. We will see how 46 feels next year.
Going on a road trip with two kids of the same age (AKA twins) is so tiring. We lucked out that Okra and Bunny had minimal tantrums on our last road trip. We got brave and planned another one last weekend. It was only about a two-hour drive to the California State Railroad Museum, one of Bob’s favorite places on earth. He had wanted to show the kids all the huge locomotives in this train museum for quite some time. Our original trip last November got canceled because of bad air quality. We finally made the trip this time, which to me is better timing in terms of the kids’ understanding of things around them. Plus Okra is a confirmed train enthusiast like his dad so it was even more exciting for me to plan the trip in order to wow him. The goal to impress the kids was a mission accomplished. Okra and Bunny’s faces lit up when they approached the huge locomotives. Okra was especially excited; he kept on pointing at all the trains and making choo-choo sounds. He ran around non-stop touching different trains. The kids had so much fun up at the Thomas play area that meltdowns were almost guaranteed every single time. We also rode first class on the excursion train ride. The kids really loved standing at the window looking outside.
In terms of building memories, this was a fantastic trip. However, other moments were not as enjoyable as the previous road trip because the kids have grown older and somehow have become whinier and more demanding. Maybe because they are approaching two? So many demands but not enough language. Tantrums came more easily and longer for each toddler. And when there are two of them, it just felt like it was never-ending. It was like the end of a battle after we put the kids down for the night. The only thing one would want was a good night sleep. Both kids had had no problems sleeping through the night for months even during our last road trip only a couple of months ago. This time Okra woke up in the middle of the night wailing two nights in a row. The first night we had to get him so that he didn’t wake up Bunny. The second night he did it again and both of them woke up crying. So we had two kids in bed with us. Needless to say, both Bob and I were extra tired and cranky the next day. And when the kids didn’t sleep well the night before, they threw tantrums more easily the next day. It is just a vicious cycle. Bunny had an unusually huge meltdown when we were about to depart that we had to change plans and skip out on my dear friend Jane Allen’s little girl’s birthday. I was so bummed to have to miss it but the kids wouldn’t be pleasant to be around anyways. I truly do not mind the extra work that is required with all the logistics that comes with a trip, but the tantrums and meltdowns with twin toddlers are emotionally and physically (holding them down while they arch their back fighting being held) exhausting. We have bought plane tickets for a four-week trip to Asia this coming Fall. I shudder to think about being away from home for so long not having our routines and the tantrums these then-two-year-olds will have. I know the key is to set no/low expectations but still. I really have to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for such a long trip so far away with the effects of time zone changes and other changes on the kids. BUT, this train museum trip was worth it despite the difficulties, and hopefully I will feel the same way about the international trip.
Back in October last year I wrote about my cousin Jeannie who struggled with diminished ovarian reserve and finally got pregnant via egg donation. She was due mid-June. Throughout her pregnancy I had kept in close contact with her, and had been so happy for her that her pregnancy was uneventful. Although her pregnancy was healthy, she was anxious about it. I can’t blame her because I had the same thoughts. Everyday when she got up in the morning she’d wait for the baby to move before she could relax a little bit. I think many of us have been so traumatized by infertility that stillbirth is a big fear. It is no different to my cousin. And I had the same fear when I was waiting for my kids’ birth. Jeannie’s due date came and went, and baby did not show any signs of coming out. Jeannie is a small business owner and started her maternity leave two weeks prior to her due date. I told her to enjoy this down time a bit before the craziness of a newborn began. She said that she was so uncomfortable that it was hard to enjoy her time. She just felt like she was wasting her maternity leave. Anyhow, a week after her due date was when her doctor started induction because baby was just not coming on his own. Induction started on a Monday late afternoon, and she was only 1cm dilated 24 hours later. Throughout this time, she was still very anxious about losing the baby at the last moment, because, you know, we as infertiles just have those crazy/not so crazy thoughts. Being induced for 48 hours didn’t bring her closer to her baby so a C-section was done. My cousin finally became a mother! I am so happy for her but at the same time have been feeling bad for her for all that she has had to endure with this birth. It has been quite rough for her physically and emotionally. She is entirely swollen and is puffy everywhere. She could not bend her legs. The crazy hormones make her cry all the time. Basically she is a mess. But she will eventually come out of it and did I mention that she has a baby now??? And he is so precious and perfect, and is so healthy and doing so well. It’s hard for me to believe that after all these years of wanting a baby and trying for a baby, she is finally at this point. She is holding her baby. I can’t wait to see how motherhood unfolds for her. During her pregnancy, Jeannie mentioned to me how she was envious of me having my mom here with me and so wished that her mom would still be alive and have the joy of being a grandmother. I feel for her and it makes me cherish my mom even more.