MicroblogMondays: Strong Dad

The babies are 10 months now. Time just goes by so fast. Okra, my very sweet boy, used to be the champion formula drinker. After starting solids, his formula intake has tanked and he has also been experiencing constipation problems. We only feed him food that would help move things along but poor baby boy has visibly slimmed down and hasn’t gained any weight. He’s still heavy and still kind of chunky but it is not like before. On the other hand, Bunny who used to have problems with her formula all of a sudden took an interest in her bottles. For many days in a row her daily intake surpasses Okra’s. Despite being active all day long, her cheeks started to expand and her thighs are stronger and thicker. She feels much heavier to lift these days. I don’t carry the two of them at the same time anymore, but dad does. Here are the three of them:

Sometimes I’m just glad that I could stand back without having to hold anyone heavy. Hahahaha.

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MicroblogMondays: Monkey

Instead of Bunny, my baby girl should’ve been nicknamed Monkey. She has proven herself to be the active one ever since she was a tiny baby. Now that she can crawl, stand, and cruise, it is even more evident how physically strong she is. Just a week ago, I found her half hanging on her brother’s highchair kneeling while being strapped in her own. These are the Ikea highchairs that have the waist belt only. Needless to say, I was half scared to death and was determined to put her in a highchair with a five point harness. Fortunately someone in my parents of multiples group posted these two very old but very functional highchairs up for grabs. They have five point harnesses and can also be folded and put away. The timing was just perfect and nobody had claimed them yet. Bunny now definitely has no way to escape from her new old highchair unless she knows how to push the middle button to unbuckle herself. So far, the only safe places to leave the twins are their cribs, the pack n play, and the baby jail (play yard) in the living room. However, two days ago Bunny showed us what she is capable of. When I was tending to her brother, she was standing in the corner of her crib. Suddenly, I found her hanging half of her upper body with her armpits over the top of the crib corner. Her legs and her feet were wrapping around the slats about half way up the crib. I was too stunned to even take a photo. We hurried her down but she did it at least one more time. Then yesterday, this happened :

Bunny figured out a way to climb up the pack n play half way as well. She is only 9 months old. I have seen friends with babies that are climbers. I just never thought that we’d have one in the house. And I would’ve never guessed that baby girl would be the one. I shudder to think about what lies ahead of me when she is even stronger. She is just so resourceful and her upper body strength and core strength are tremendous. One of the moms in my moms of twins group asked if Bob and I were climbers when we were babies. I was taken aback a little by this question. I haven’t told anyone in this group about donor eggs. And I don’t know if I will. But I totally felt like a fraud when she asked that question. Bob said, just answer the question directly and nothing else. Nope neither one of us was a climber, which is the truth. At these moments, I do think about our donor who was a soccer player and a coach. I believe Bunny inherited her physical agility. I’m proud of my little girl and her determination. You watch her eyes and you see that her brain is working on solving the problems. When she wants to reach something, she’ll do everything to figure it out. I too have that kind of determination but at these moments I can’t help but think that her tenacity (and physicality) was not contributed by my DNA. It does make me a little sad. But at the same time it is so exciting to see her learn and become more and more her own person. I feel so honored and privileged to be the mother of this amazing little girl. I can’t wait to see how she’ll turn out. And I definitely see gymnastics class in the future. I just hope that ER visits won’t be a part of our life.

MicroblogMondays: Stay-At-Home Parent

Ever since I wanted a baby, my plan had always been to return to work part-time after a six-month maternity leave . Well, that was my plan with having one baby at a time.  When we had our twins, the plan was still for me to end my maternity leave after six months, which would have been March.  When my in-laws decided to come in April, my instinct was to be at home so I would have control over how the babies were cared for.  Bob had no problem with me delaying my start day.  My office is totally flexible and my boss just let me make my own decision.  Since Bob still has two weeks of new parent leave that he won’t be able to take until late June/early July, I told everyone that I’d return to work some time in July so Bob and I could take the babies on a trip during his break.  My boss came for a visit and asked me if I still felt good about going back to work.  I said, Of course!  But I was stressed about finding childcare.

I never looked into daycare early on, because, well, taking care of twins takes a lot of time and effort.  I had some intense internal debate about nanny vs. daycare.  With one baby, it would be a no brainer.  Daycare would be the way to go because it’d cost way less than a nanny. But with twins, things change.  The couple of daycares that I spoke to charge more per day for part time than for full time.  That times two equals a hefty sum.  Plus I’d have to do the whole getting two babies to get out the door and drop off and pick up thing, which adds to the stress of the day.  The next choice is hiring a nanny.  I knew that a nanny for two kids would be pricey.  I had a hourly rate in my head that I’d offer thinking that it would be affordable for us.  I signed up for one online service to search for a part time nanny.  I received many applications but none of the applicants speaks Cantonese, which would be my first choice.  A twin mom friend of mine referred me to an agency.  The agency lady matched us with this Chinese nanny.  I didn’t think it was going to materialize into anything.  But once I spoke to the nanny and met her in person, I actually liked her a lot.  She has been working for a family for eight years helping raise three children.  She’ll be available when the youngest one goes to preschool in July.  She doesn’t have experience with twins but she did take care of these kids simultaneously.  The family she works for wrote her a wonderful reference letter.  I came to find out (from a little Gool.ging with the information that she told me) that the father of the kids was my high school classmate.  It is indeed a very small world.  This nanny came to meet the babies and my mom, and to my surprise Miss I-Will-Cry-When-I-See-Strangers A.K.A. little Bunny warmed up to the nanny right away and played with her without any problems.  It would be perfect, wouldn’t it?

I totally thought that everything was meant to be.  However, the subsequent two days I did the math over and over again and it just didn’t seem right.  The nanny would have to come for 10 hours a day from when I leave for work to when I step into the house.  I get paid 7.5 hours a day at work.  After paying my taxes and after paying her taxes, I would contribute absolutely no money to our household income.  What is the point of me rushing to work and rushing back, trying to put dinner on the table, and rushing to bed time if I don’t bring in any extra money to the family?  Just for my career and my own personal satisfaction?  Leaving my babies with someone else and missing them and their milestones?  It had never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t go back to work.  For the first time ever, it occurred to me that maybe going back to work is not in my family’s best interest.  I seriously considered this whole situation for a week then finally it became clearer and clearer that staying home with my babies will be the way to go.

I gave my boss my verbal notice.  We both teared up at the end of the phone conversation.  I have been there for almost 15 years.  It gave me my job satisfaction and stability.  However, my life has moved forward and this work place is no longer the place for me.  I will miss the people and the work and my sit-to-stand desk, and I don’t look forward to clearing out all my therapy materials and toys.  However, I am excited about being at home with my babies taking care of them the best way I know how.  Who knows?  When the babies go to preschool, maybe my career will take on a whole new direction?  It is an opportunity for me to stretch myself once again when the time comes.

MicroblogMondays: Sitting Up

So… I have been waiting for the babies to sit up for a peculiar reason: their 6-month professional photo shoot.  I have always loved 6-month-old babies.  They are so smiley and so much fun.  I have always wanted to document this stage.  However, my photographer said that it might be good to wait until they could sit for at least 10 to 15 seconds unassisted so that there would be more interesting photos than them lying down doing nothing.  Ever since then (when they were about 5 months), I have been waiting for Bunny and Okra to sit.  No such luck for a while.  They would roll.  They would scoot.  They would push themselves up.  But nope.  No sitting up.  I tried to practice with them but they’d often topple over.  Then they turned 6 months.  Still no sitting.  Then 7 months.  Still no sitting.  My sweet 6-month-old phase is moving behind us and my babies were nowhere close to sitting.  Came 8 months.  Suddenly I saw signs of life in the sitting department.  First Bunny started to sit for longer than 3 seconds.  Then Okra’s turn. One day suddenly they both sat for longer than 15 seconds! Hurray! There is light at the end of the tunnel!  But Bunny and Okra are now so mobile and move around so much, I hope that the photo shoot won’t be us trying to catch them from rolling and scooting away from the camera.

Here they are on our new play mat:

MicroblogMondays: Exhaustion

I don’t think I had ever missed my Monday 6:15am self-imposed MicroblogMondays scheduled publishing time until today.  It’s interesting though.  Even when the twins were little and we were majorly sleep deprived, I never missed it once.  But as my friend Jo said, Life happens.

Recently I have been exhausted.  This is a different type of physical exhaustion than during the twins’ early days.  Back then, their needs were different: fussiness, constant feedings, endless diaper changes etc.  BUT, they were not mobile.  Well, they aren’t exactly mobile at the present time either.  They are just very active and roll around constantly, especially during diaper change time and while changing their clothes.  I know that many babies are like that.  But when everything is done twice, it is very exhausting.  Their first instinct is to roll and reach behind them to grab whatever that is there.  Giving them a toy or two can occupy them for two seconds, then back they go to roll behind them.  When I change them on the floor or in bed, it’s the same.  They are so strong now.  It’s so hard to hold them down.  Every single time changing them is like a battle.  I wasn’t as tired prior to my in-laws’ arrival because my mom would share half of the duties with me.  So I only had to deal with one twin at each diaper change or night routine as my mom would do the other one.  Now that my mom is not around, I don’t have the kind of help I used to have.  My father-in-law helps with feeding Okra his bottle and solids, but he does not do other chores for the kids.  He plays with the kids, but hands them over when there are other needs.  I daily dread the 7pm night routine during the week because Bob would still be riding on the bus to come home.  My mother-in-law would be in the kitchen cooking, so the night routine duties would fall on my shoulders: changing diapers, changing clothes, wiping face, administering medicine, and making bottles.  Just the sheer physical effort it takes to change diapers and clothes would make me exhausted.

Yesterday I was extremely tired after a full week of baby duties and driving 45 minutes to visit Indian relatives.  I was so exhausted that I didn’t even have the energy to get the blog post started after putting the babies down.  I figured I would take a shower and make myself feel better before pondering about a short blog post.  I barely stepped out of the shower when I heard Okra’s cry.  Then Bunny’s.  Darn… This always happens when I don’t have extra energy and just want to lie in bed.  Something was bugging Okra, and his cry woke up Bunny.  Bob tried to console him but he was inconsolable.  Bunny seemed to have calmed.  When Okra began to calm down, Bunny started crying again.  So we gave them both a bottle and did the night routine of reading and singing a second time so they’d be fooled into going back to sleep again.  To our relief, they seemed to have bought into it and went back to sleep.  Phew.  So we went back to whatever we were doing, and not even 15 minutes later, Okra started crying again.  Fearing that he’d wake up his sister, we took him away, consoled him, and put him back in his crib drowsy.  That worked.  At that point, I was too exhausted to even remember that there was supposed to be a blog post that needed to be written.  We closed our eyes and fell asleep.  Not even half an hour later, Okra screamed again.  This time it took 20 minutes to calm him down.  I gave up and let him sleep in our room.  And he woke up fussy and whiny at 5:45am. These are kids who usually sleep through the night so this is highly unusual.  Something was surely bugging him.  We just didn’t know what.

I am still fortunate though.  My mother-in-law takes care of cooking and my father-in-law takes care of playing.  I do get to take a breather and to recuperate from my exhaustion.  For that I am grateful.  Now can you imagine when the twins start crawling and walking how we adults would all feel???  I can tell you that we are not far from that point…..

MicroblogMondays: Seventh Wedding Anniversary

Seven years ago today we got married.

It was such a glorious day.  The weather was the best; sunny and breezy, which was such a blessing because the stormy weather the weekend before made it a little nerve wracking for me.  We were surrounded by 98 of our closest friends and family.  People still talk about how fun the wedding was to this day.  It was so beautiful despite the fact that nobody from Bob’s family, including his parents, attended our wedding.  Not only were they not in attendance, my father-in-law yelled at Bob on the phone the day before the wedding for going forward with it.  The beautiful day was marred by his family’s disapproval of the marriage.  In fact, his dad didn’t talk to him again until 10 months later when we went to visit my in-laws overseas.  The family drama that came with the marriage paled in comparison to the struggles that we had when we decided to start a family.  The funny thing was, at 37 years old, I was afraid of getting pregnant right away before we could spend some time to get to know each other as husband and wife.  In fact, Bob spent his eve of our wedding at a drug store purchasing condoms and got locked out by his best man who locked the door and went to bed early.

How naive I was.  If I had known the struggles we would encounter trying for a baby, I would have agreed to start trying right away.  Little did I know that in the course of the next six years, we discovered problems such as over 50 tiny uterine fibroids that required surgical removal, high FSH, low AMH, the need for donor eggs, Bob’s DNA fragmentation and varicocele, and the need for a gestational carrier.

Fast forward to this day.  After all the struggles with Bob’s parents and building a family, it is nothing short of a miracle that we have both my in-laws and our babies sleeping under the same roof.  Even just a couple of years ago, I didn’t think that it was possible. We survived all the struggles in the last seven years and thrive as a couple.  When things get tough in the future (I am sure they will at some point), our past challenges can and will serve as a guide and an encouragement for us to push forward.  I love my husband and wish him a very happy anniversary, the first one we have with our babies safely in our arms.  What a blessing it is to get to say that.

MicroblogMondays: New Grandparents

Last Thursday, my mom left to make room for new grandparents to arrive from India the next day.

I am not going to lie.  I miss my mom tremendously.  And I was a bit anxious about having Bob’s parents around for 7 weeks.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am excited about the babies being loved on by all of their grandparents.  It would be the first time they met their paternal grandparents face-to-face.  Although technological advances are helpful, video chats are really not as good as physical interactions in person. So I am very happy that the babies get to meet their other grandparents.  I am just very used to having my mom around.  She and I are a team.  We have our rhythm down for taking care of the babies.  New caregivers in the house means new routines and a transitional period in terms of dynamics.  My father-in-law adores both kids, but he seems to have particular love for Okra.  Given how Okra likes to be held all the time, I could see that this baby boy would get his wishes fulfilled.  I just do not want to see favoritism in this house and for my baby girl to feel left out by grandpa.  Another thing is that the babies went through two weeks of nap training, and crying during nap was part of the training.  I do not want any criticism from my in-laws in regards to letting the babies cry or to interfere with the training effort.  Plus, my mom and I had a tight ship running, so deviation from that made me a little bit nervous.  Prior to my in-laws’ arrival, there was quite a bit of work to do.  Washing down the inside of the refrigerator was a must.  Any animal products were used up or discarded.  Brand new jars of Better Than Bouillon were hidden in my room.  Indian cookware and other utensils were dug from boxes in the garage.  My mom cleaned out her stuff and clean beddings were put on.  The house was ready for my in-laws’ visit.

One thing I know for sure is that my in-laws adore the twins.  They would see the babies on screen at least 4 to 5 times a week.  They had been so excited and been counting down the days to their visit.  Bob has taken a week off from his remaining parental leave.  He was super excited about his parents meeting the babies for the first time.  He checked the flight time repeatedly and was nervous about being late to pick his parents up at the airport (which is kind of funny for someone who needs to be urged to get out of the door most of the time).  After waiting for over 30 minutes, his parents finally came out.  His dad was so funny.  He was so happy to see the babies that he immediately abandoned the cart full of suitcases and just let it roll off.

The babies were initially curious about grandpa and grandma.  Bunny, with her anxiety of strangers, did cry for a little.  Okra kind of stared at grandparents for quite some time.  They were probably wondering why the other grandma was no where to be found and then there are these other grandparents.  After a couple of days, things have settled down a bit.  The good thing for me is, I did get used to my mom not being around.  Bob being at home has helped with the transition tremendously.  My mother-in-law really wants to help with washing and cleaning.  Bob showed her how we wash the bottles and I told her how we wash the babies’ dishes for solids.  She washed the bottles several times the second day.  After she cooked several meals, I told her to leave the kids’ dishes for me to wash so she could go rest, granted it was her second day here and jet lag was probably still very much in effect.  Later she asked Bob if she didn’t do a good job washing.  I forgot that my MIL could be very sensitive.  We reassured her that her washing was great.  We just wanted her to rest.

The grandparents have been so enamored of the kids.  You can just tell in their body language and their voices.  They come to pick them up right away when there is any fussiness.  Both of them sit on the floor and play with/talk with them all the time.  Okra gets held by grandpa frequently.  In grandpa’s eyes, Okra can do no wrong.  My father-in-law praises Okra all the time saying that he is a very good baby and doesn’t fuss much.  When he fusses, there is always a reason.  It could never be because he is just fussy.  It is good to see that he is also nice to Bunny and plays with her a lot.  I am hopeful that he will spend equal amount of time with both babies and not show favoritism towards baby boy.

There are a lot of cultural differences for them.  For example, the babies nap three times a day at a certain time.  My in-laws are so not used to that.  I guess in India babies fall asleep for naps in caregivers’ arms after they start crying?  And babies go to bed at 9 or 10pm?  So I guess they feel like they don’t get to see the babies as much as they thought because the babies are constantly napping.  I was called “military” by my mother-in-law for putting the babies down for naps at certain times and down for the night so very early, before 8pm.   I explained to her that the babies are happier to play with them if they nap well and are not tired.  She agrees, as her neighbor’s 8-month-old cries all day long.  She said, our babies are so much happier.  Yup, good sleep can definitely help with moods.

Oh and they bought gold chains and bangles for the babies.  I appreciate the thought but I think the babies would probably never wear the gold.  Bob joked that the babies looked like thugs with their gold chains on. And, because I give them grandchildren, even though I didn’t carry them, I earned myself a marriage present from my in-laws.  So almost seven years into our marriage, I now own a gold chain and pendant from my in-laws, although I was told by my husband that the gold I got was not nearly as expensive as the babies’.  I still appreciate the thought albeit late.

I am sure I will have more to report on the next seven weeks.  I am going to enjoy this time with an extra pair of hands in the house, homemade South Indian food, and watching my kids being loved on by their grandparents.  Seven years ago when we got married, I wouldn’t have imagined things to turn out so well with my in-laws.  It is definitely a God-given gift to enjoy having my in-laws and babies under one roof.