I hardly cry these days, but last Friday I teared up twice.
Bunny, our little girl, has always been independent. She soothes herself to sleep and would fuss more if you try to console her. She used to be able to nap in her crib. Lately, because of various reasons, both kids would only nap in our bed, but are okay sleeping in their own cribs at night. Bunny was still tossing and turning for her first nap on Friday after Okra fell asleep by himself. I sneaked up next to her and she immediately turned towards me and snuggled up to my body. I immediately put my arms around her and pat her back. If you knew her, you’d know how rare it is for her to not be moving around but to stay still in my embrace. It was a serene and surreal moment for me to be lying in my bed curling up with my baby girl in my arms on a Friday morning with the blackout blinds drawn and a sliver of sunlight peeking into the room. Scenes of our infertility and surrogacy journey flashed fast in my mind and I felt tremendously blessed to be this perfect child’s mother. I couldn’t help but tear up feeling her warm body against mine and hearing her breathing.
My mom was sick that morning with dizziness, so I was taking care of the babies by myself with changing, bottle feeding, feeding solids, entertaining, and putting them down for a nap. Later that morning, Okra threw up while playing on the jumperoo. Vomit was dripping on the floor and all over a photo album underneath it that was used as a foot rest for the babies. While being busy wiping him and the area, Bunny threw up as well, not once, not twice, but three times. They ate avocado (which I also ate) and had formula that morning. We still don’t know what caused the sudden vomit as this was the 7th time they had avocado. But it was one tiring morning with all the worries about them being sick, consoling, and cleaning. Later that afternoon, my mom felt better and got up to help with the babies. I was holding Okra while my mom changed Bunny’s diaper. Suddenly my mom yelled from the room saying that she was dizzy and had to go sit down. I rushed to the room to put Okra in his crib while mom went to sit down in the rocking chair next to the changing pad which was on the dresser. I turned around and saw that Bunny was arching her back like usual and was trying to roll herself over the changing pad. This sight scared me to death. I was only three steps away but would not be able to catch her if she really rolled over and fell. I leaped over to the dresser and held onto Bunny tightly. She was probably scared by me because of my sudden action and started crying. I took her in my arms, held her tightly, and tears started rolling down my cheeks. What if she did roll over and fell? What if what if what if? The more I though about it, the tears were coming down more. I just couldn’t bear to think of the consequences. It took me a while to calm down.
Crying is good for the soul. I mean I still sometimes do feel a sense of loss because of the loss of the ability to carry my babies or the chance to be genetically related to them, but I am just tremendously grateful that the heartaches and longing for a baby aren’t the reasons for my tears anymore.
I have been wanting to write an update on the babies ever since they turned 6 months so that I can go back and read it, but that will have to wait until I have more time. In the meantime, we will talk about another exciting topic: solids. Somehow I had always dreaded starting solids with the babies because of the lack of time for research and the additional work that will be added to our already hectic schedule with twins. To my relief, our pediatrician suggested starting solids at 6 months rather than at the earlier end of the time frame at 4 months. I happily just waited until the suggested time. Prior to that, I snatched two free Ike.a highchairs with trays from another parent in the local parents of multiples club.
With the baby spoons and the bibs that we received from our baby shower, we were all set to go. However, I was a bit confused about the whole purees vs. Baby Led Weaning method. Without reading up on it, my head was a bit hazy about what to do. As first time parents, we opted for the way that would not as easily cause a heart attack for us as far as potential choking is concerned, which was to start with purees first. Our pediatrician suggested rice cereal for a week and then add other fruits and vegetables. Because of short of time, I didn’t get to go buy any rice cereal, but the desires to start feeding them were suddenly strong. My mom happened to have a ripe avocado lying around, so we decided to just go for it and feed them the avocado. I am so happy to report that they actually liked the avocado a lot! They were apprehensive at first but opened their mouth for more and more. It was truly a hit. After seeing how cute they were with real food, I became even more excited to try more. After three days of avocado, we ventured into the new territory of yam and carrot. Those two vegetables were not as well taken. In fact, the babies made some funny faces and pushed out a bunch of it with their tongues. They absolutely hated bananas. Just one bite, both of them made this sour face. They kept their mouth tightly shut and was fussing and crying when we tried to put more in their mouths. It was hilarious and a bit frustrating at the same time. I have to remember that it takes a baby 10 to 12 times of trying something to establish his/her likes or dislikes. I know we have to be patient. I finally went to Tar.get to get some oatmeal cereal and a bunch of baby food. We will see how they do. Fortunately the babies like to drink water and are getting more and more comfortable with using the Munchkin Miracle 360 cup.
I like this cup because it is spoutless and almost spill proof. It may make it easier to bypass the sippy cup and move directly onto open cup in the future. Although it is more work, eating is fun and I can’t wait for the babies to one day eat the food we eat at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They feel so much more grown up now that they sit and eat. Where did those little tiny squishy babies go?!?
It is tax return season, but we can’t file our taxes until we get one thing done, which is to get the babies’ social security numbers. Normal people would automatically apply for their newborns’ numbers before their discharge from the hospital. But we are not normal people. I still haven’t written the second part of our birth story yet, but right after the babies were born, we had to attend to a bunch of paperwork on top of learning how to take care of newborn twins. The nursing staff and the pediatricians were constantly in and out of the room. Annie’s family and friends were visiting. With the chaos, I am a bit cloudy on what exactly happened, but when we were asked if we would like to apply for the babies’ SSN, my first instinct was not yet. The reason being, the birth certificates would only have Bob’s name on them as the father, but the mother’s name would be blank because I used donor eggs. If we had filed for social security right after birth, the record at Social Security would also show that the mother’s name is blank. Every state is different in terms of the laws. For Annie’s home state, in order for my name to be on the birth certificate after using donor eggs, I have to file for “Step Parent Adoption” in California. It is only after that then Vital Statistics department at Annie’s state would add my name. In November, after the hazy first few weeks with twins, I finally emailed a few lawyers regarding this. No one called or wrote me back. That was when I realized that phone calls were probably going to be much faster in terms of getting a response. The local law firm sounded very experienced with this type of filing, but the paralegal was moaning and groaning a bit on the phone when she learned that the surrogacy was done in Annie’s state. The laws had changed recently. An intended mother who used donor eggs used to be able to send in the CA court order to the Vital Statistics department in Annie’s state in order to get an amended birth certificate with her name on it. It is no longer the case as Annie’s state’s court clerk does not honor the CA court clerk’s authority. An extra step would be needed for the CA court clerk to get a signature from a CA judge before the court orders would be recognized by Annie’ state. Bureaucracy is the name of the game. After moaning and groaning for two minutes about Annie’s state, the paralegal quoted me a rate that was very reasonable. It matched the ballpark figure I was told prior to the surrogacy process. The email that same day from the same paralegal said that she quoted the wrong rate as she didn’t take into account for filing for twins, but the law firm would still honor the original rate. Phew. We “saved” $1500. It took a few weeks for the paperwork to be done, and took another few days before Bob had the time to go to downtown San Francisco to sign the paperwork. Everything was sent to our county clerk on December 5th. The paperwork was received on December 8th. Our paralegal told us that our county has a streamlined process and it usually only takes 4 to 6 weeks. It happened around the holidays, so I was expecting things to be done by end of January to beginning of February. Well, things took a lot longer than they should. After some back and forth with the paralegal, she found out that it took a long time for the judge to sign, and then the county clerk was out of the office for training for a week. We still haven’t received the orders yet. We just want to file our taxes, but can’t claim the babies on our return until we have their social security numbers. We decided to just apply for their numbers before the amended birth certificates are sent to us. Bob took last Friday off and attended the babies’ 6-month check up. After that, he waited at our local social security office for 2.5 hours. He had to be the one doing it because his name is the only name shown on the birth certificates. I settled the babies down at home then went to join him with lunch. When it was finally time for our turn, the lady behind the counter was super nice, but was a bit apprehensive about what we were doing because probably not too many people would come to the office for an application for social security numbers for not just one but two 6-month-olds. Right off the bat, she said that it would be a lengthy process to verify their births. Luckily, after checking, she declared that Annie’s state is one of the states that has an online verification process for birth certificates. We still waited for about 35 minutes before she could finish with the whole application (everything takes twice as long with twins). So now we wait for two weeks before we receive their SSN in the mail and can finally file the tax returns. In the future, I can return to the social security office with the amended birth certificates so that my name can be added in the record as the babies’ mother officially. If I had known how much work and how long it would be to get the step parent adoption done, I would have just turned in their social security application at the hospital.
Everything is so complicated with surrogacy…
We have been using this frame stroller with the twins since they were born. It is super convenient in terms of not having to take the babies out of the car seats to put them in a separate stroller. The car seats just snap on. The four cup holders and the big storage basket at the bottom are convenient There are always pros and cons about everything. The one thing that I don’t like about the frame stroller is that it is big and clunky to lift in and out of the car. It extends super long and the front baby/car seat feels like a mile away. Because the wheels don’t maneuver as well as I would like, they bump into door frames in and out of stores all the time. Currently it has been kept in the back of our mini-van most of the time. Because of the weight to lift it in and out of the van, and the time it takes to strap the babies in the car seats and to move them in the frame stroller, I find myself resisting going out for a walk because of the trouble I have to go through to do all of that.
We never put a full double stroller on the baby registry as I felt we didn’t need one until much later. There were already ten thousand things to read up on and consider for the registry. I didn’t need to add one on the list, especially when it wasn’t needed immediately. Recently, I finally felt the need to purchase one so that I would be more motivated to go out with the babies. I started reading reviews and found that twin families rave about this double stroller. A few times I almost ordered it online when it was on sale. I hesitated because I just had a nagging feeling that I would need to try this one before purchasing it. Local big chain baby stores didn’t carry too many double strollers. Recently, a new chain baby store opened in our neighborhood and we finally got to try out the popular double stroller I mentioned above. I am so glad we did, because I really dislike this thing! It was heavy and folded with the seats on the outside so they could potentially get dusty in storage. The canopies were clunky and the basket at the bottom was small. So the answer was No.
After reading reviews, doing research, and watching online videos, I finally decided on another double stroller. Unfortunately this brand is not as well known so I couldn’t find a store that carries it. But I was still willing to order it to try it out without seeing it first. It shows you how much I like all the things I read/watched online. And this denim blue double stroller didn’t disappoint. It is the lightest all terrain double stroller on the market right now. The folding keeps the seats inside so they don’t get dirty. The stroller stands up when folded. Each seat has a belly bar. The canopies are huge with great coverage. The seats can be pulled down to almost flat for easy napping. The fabric looks and feels fabulous. The stroller is so amazing to push. You can literally push it with one hand and it goes super smoothly. This new stroller has made outings a lot easier for all of us. The babies have sat it in three times already since we got it last Tuesday. It goes through store front doors like a breeze. I am so pleased with this purchase.
This was us grocery shopping yesterday. It was so easy to push that Bob had our fussy baby boy in one arm and pushed our baby girl in the stroller with the other hand.
It goes to tell you that it doesn’t matter how many positive reviews something has, it means nothing to you if it doesn’t match your personal needs. I am so glad I picked this stroller rather than the widely popular one. Now I need to buy a cup holder for it (it didn’t come with one) so I can enjoy being out and about with my coffee strolling with the babies.
This is a huge topic, but I am not going to go in depth about it. Let’s just say that marriage while parenting twins is not easy.
After many years of infertility, Bob and I have a solid foundation in our marriage as we journeyed through the winding path of trying for a baby together. But raising twins has brought the challenges to a whole new level. The presence of the babies and our new priority of taking care of them means that sometimes our needs as an individual and as a couple are pushed to the side. Bob’s long commute means he only gets a glimpse of the babies if they wake up late, and he gets to spend about 20 minutes with the babies when he comes home before their bed time. During the day even with my mom’s help, I am pulled in all sorts of directions by the increasing demands of the babies as their wake time is getting longer and Okra, our baby boy, is going through a phase and has been increasingly whiny. By the time we sit down at night after the twins have gone to bed, Bob is exhausted from his long day at work and I am exhausted from my long day with the babies. Despite wanting to have some time together, we often find ourselves on our own smart phone doing our own things. On the weekend, we try to do something as a family, and as a result, the babies get inconsistent naps and are often overly tired. If one goes down for a nap, the other one may not. We find ourselves sometimes running around like headless chickens trying to take care of the babies as best as we could. I honestly sometimes feel inadequate as a parent. Did I read enough with them? Sing enough with them? Let them have enough tummy time? Talk and play enough with them? Have enough outside activities with them? Sometimes I wonder if Bob and I are not paying enough attention to our own needs and each other’s needs because it just takes a lot of time to take care of twins.
Maybe we have to make time for each other despite how tired we are in the evening. We need to figure something out.
The babies are almost 5.5 months old and officially slept through the night for the first time on Saturday!
Prior to that, this was the schedule: bed time at 8pm, dream feed at 10ish pm, and waking up at 6:30 to 7am. They had been consistently waking up after 6am without crying much. On the days without night time help, I would wait until about 10:15 to 10:30 before feeding them. Our night nanny made the suggestion to try to wean them off the 10pm feed. I was initially hesitant because Bunny was drinking majority of her calories (6 oz) during her dream feed. She is already smaller and gains weight more slowly to begin with. I was nervous about not feeding her at night and for her to lose weight. Our night nanny was not worried. She had confident that Bunny would regulate herself during the day to load up her calories for the rest of the night. So we were brave and made a decision to try on Friday. That night, without the 10pm feed, Okra woke up crying at 5:35am. We stalled their feed until 6:30am. I would consider that a very good start. Then on Saturday, the babies had their last meal at 7:30pm, went to bed at 8pm, and slept all the way until almost 7am! And what is interesting and quite a relief is that the babies started to up their intake of formula during the day to get ready for sleeping through the night! The human body is amazing and knows what to do. I hope that this is not a one-off but a consistent schedule. I already find it very freeing to not have to worry about feeding them at 10 something and I can actually go to bed early.
What a milestone to accomplish for the babies! (And it makes our life a lot easier.)
Bob turned 40 on Friday.
He loves pecan pies. I am not much of a baker. In fact, I had never baked any cookies, cakes, pies, or pastries in my life. I wanted to do something special for him especially that his dream of vacationing in sunny and warm Hawaii for his 40th birthday was replaced by a day at work. We couldn’t possibly travel to Hawaii with the twins at this age and still have a decent time. It also happened to be Chinese New Year on that day. My dad came to visit the grandkids and spend Chinese New Year with us. All in all, it was a special day. The babies’ first CNY and Bob’s first birthday with them around. I decided to take a chance and bake him a pie.
My boss has this chocolate pecan pie recipe. I had tasted the pie and liked it a lot. She told me that it was extremely easy to make. I took one look at the recipe and thought that it would be manageable. I didn’t have any of the equipment or ingredients. It tells you how often I bake (never). I had to look it up online about the kind of pie crust to get and learned that a glass pie plate might be better with the refrigerated pie dough. (Excuse me for not making the pie crust from scratch. It still counts as a home-made pie.) After a huge mess on the counter and spilling chocolate on myself, I successfully lay the pie crust on the glass plate and poured the filling inside. I didn’t understand what it meant by letting the pie “set”, so I had to look it up. I jiggled the finished product and felt semi-confident that it was done. The pie turned out to be beautiful.
Bob left work early and we had an early dinner at a Burmese restaurant with the babies and my parents. When we returned home and before the babies started their night time routines, we sang happy birthday with a candle that said “40” on the pecan chocolate pie. Bob had both babies in his arms. When it came time to make a wish, he paused for a moment and went on to blow the candle. He loved the pie and the fact that this year’s celebration included the babies.
For many years, Bob’s only birthday wish was for us to finally have a baby. He told me that when it came time for him to make a wish this time, he looked up and saw me, Bunny, and Okra. He did not feel the need to make a wish. He thought for a second and just blew out the candle. There are many things in life that we complain about, but when it comes to birthday wishes, those other things don’t feel important or matter anymore. The one wish has now been fulfilled. A new wish is not necessary for him.
I had been wondering about that. I too made every birthday wish in the last few years to be about having a baby. Now that we have the twins, I wonder what I will wish for this year.