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.

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MicroblogMondays: Personality

The babies are now 7 months.  I better blog about them before I totally forget how they are at this age!

Bunny

We should rename her Monkey, as she is truly like one.  In fact, Bob calls her “Mangi” (or “mang yee”), the way he says “monkey” in a Tamil accent.

Bunny is one active child.  Even at 7 months, she doesn’t sit up unassisted or stand up unassisted yet, but she moves around all day long.  When she is in her crib, she rolls all over the place.  Recently we lowered the crib mattress one notch.  Prior to that, Bunny would lift her pelvis up and put the heels of her feet on top of the crib, and try to launch herself over the crib.  Of course she was too little to do that, but it scared me half to death.  She stills tries to do that now, but the distance between the mattress and the top of the crib prevents her from doing so.  We used to be able to leave her on the Boppy pillow or the Twin Z pillow on the floor.  These days we often find her many feet away from the pillow after turning our head for a minute as she rolls herself off to go somewhere.  A few times we found her wanting to go under the crib (but there wouldn’t be enough space for that).  She now has tremendous neck strength and often lifts her head and her torso up (like doing crunches) while on the pillow and propels herself off of it.  She sometimes even lunges herself forward to get something (like a ball in front of the pillow) not knowing that she doesn’t have the control of her body yet.  The resulting bonging of her head hasn’t been too traumatic for her yet since she continues doing it.  We find ourselves asking her this question “Where are you going?” all the time.  Bunny does not sit still in one’s arms.  She sometimes fusses for you to hold her especially about an hour before bed time.  However, she does not stay there contently.  She wants to stand up and move around while in someone’s lap.  When she sits in her highchair, she always sticks one foot up and over the tray and tries to escape.  When she is on the changing pad or on the bed being changed, she flings her arms and kicks her feet as well as arches her back to move her head up.  She propels herself from her Boppy pillow by kicking the floor or kicking me (if I am sitting in front of her feeding or playing with her) and her head would land on the floor behind the pillow.  It is so unusual for her stay this still:

So I cherish it even more.

Her personality to be on the go all the time totally  matches the picture of her embryo to a T.  It was hatching and wanting to go somewhere.  Would it be true that personality has already been determined since conception?

I feel that there is a desperate need to childproof the house.  The TV, the stairs, the cabinets.  We need to reconfigure our living room so that the babies, especially Bunny, has a space to roam around.  It feels like a huge job but we just have to begin.  Neither of us is handy so we may or may not enlist the help of a service to figure out all the areas that need to be childproofed.  We need to do all of that before Bunny (and Okra but less so) becomes mobile.  I can also see my tired soon to be 44-year-old body chasing after my very active girl.

This baby girl knows what she wants.  She has been doing that since she was 3.5 months old.  She knows when she is done with her food.  You can’t coax her into drinking another sip (unlike her brother who would still oblige).  Now that she is on solids, she has only liked oatmeal cereal, avocado, real carrots, and real sweet potato so far.  She doesn’t like Gerber baby food.  She doesn’t like regular oatmeal cereal by Gerber and prefers those organic brands.  She is apprehensive about rice cereal.  I have a feeling that you can talk some babies into doing something, but not others.  She is an example.  She does show a lot of interest in the food that we are eating, so maybe she will do well with table food even if she doesn’t like store bought purees.  Last week I gave her a stalk of broccoli with the floret part all mashed up.  She immediately put it in her mouth and munched on it.  I knew that she could do it, and definitely prefers to do things on her own.  Even for purees, she tries to grab my spoon. She just wants to do everything herself.

Bunny is overall a very happy baby.  She usually wakes up smiling to you first thing in the morning. Since about a month ago, she has had stranger anxiety and would cry when she is out and sees strangers, even my brother.  She has gotten better in the last couple of weeks but takes some time to get used to strangers’ faces.  Ever since she’s grown bigger, she is showing more sass.  She has a defiant and mischievous look on her face sometimes, which is super hilarious to see on a baby girl.  She is very observant and watches your every single move.  A week ago I taped up some black plastic bags to block the sunlight in between the blackout blinds in the nursery.  She kept on staring at the blinds when she entered, but Okra was totally oblivious to the changes in the room.  Bunny is also a problem solver.  Even though she can’t sit or crawl yet, she has a way to get to what she wants.  She was really far from a toy in the play yard and scooted herself all the way across to retrieve the toy.  I can seem her dominating Okra in the future.

 

Okra

We sometimes call our baby boy Buddha, because he is just content lying on the Boppy and for things to be served to him.  He used to want to be held all the time.  He would immediately cry once you put him down even when you are next to him holding his hand.  So he used to cry all the time because we couldn’t possibly hold him all day long.  These days Okra still likes to be held a lot, but I can tell that he’s growing up and being more mature.  He can self entertain a bit before he starts whining for someone to come.  But he is just so funny.  He can sit still in your lap for a long time if you would let him.  My dad was here for a month and sometimes you would find Okra sitting in his lap for over 30 minutes without anyone talking or playing with each other.  They would just soaked in their quiet intimacy.

Mr. Buddha is just like his embryo at day 5, not hatching and not in a rush to go anywhere:

Although he is content with sitting on someone, he has gotten a lot more active these days.  Changing his diaper or changing his clothes has proven to be a lot more challenging than before.  He turns his body to try to grab whatever is behind him.  It could be the lamp, the lotion, or the saline drops.  His legs are super strong and sometimes he extends them so straight that putting a diaper on is almost impossible.  Without a toy to hold onto, it is very hard to change his diaper.  My mom gets super exhausted just changing him.  It is like a battle sometimes.  He loves to cover himself up with a piece of cloth.  He would extend his arms and shriek and laugh until somebody removes the cloth from him.  It’s super fun to watch him laugh so hard.

As Bunny becomes more sassy, Okra has become more and more sweet.  His smiles are so contagious.  In many aspects, he has become more easygoing than Bunny.  You put him in the Jumperoo and he can jump in there for over 30 minutes without complaints.  He eats all purees happily. He takes the Miracle 360 cup like a champ and loves drinking his water.  You give him a toy and he can play with it for a long time.  When he takes his bottle, he often puts his hand in front of his face, moves it slowly and observes it the whole time.  When Bob comes home, Okra stops whatever he is doing and gives Bob a huge smile.  He is just super sweet.  He used to wake up in the morning crying at all times.  These days, he hangs out in the crib without fussing and smiles at you when you go in to pick him up.

This boy has very kissable cheeks, bright round eyes, and super curly hair.

I love kissing his neck and he would again laugh like a crazy person with these giggles.  He is just so adorable.  He still hasn’t shown any anxiety when he goes out or sees strangers.  Anyone can hold him.  He is equally happy.  He is so different from his sister in that aspect.

*****

It’s so heart warming to see that they have begun to interact with each other.  Sometimes they notice that the other person is sitting next to them in the high chairs.  They would vocalize to each other and touch each other’s shoulders and arms.  One time Okra was on the changing pad and Bunny was in my mom’s arms next to him.  Bunny lowered her head to touch Okra’s forehead over and over again, about 20 times.  It was so adorable to see her loving on her brother.  But they are not always lovey dovey.   They also fight.  Sometimes they lie next to each other and would grab the other one’s toy out of their hand right away.  They grab each other’s hair and chew on each other’s clothes.  I guess this is what you expect from having twins???  What I am sure of is that it will be endless fun and endless cleaning up for a long time.

MicroblogMondays: Playdate

Like I mentioned before, Bob and I belong to a local parents of multiples group.  In that group, the parents whose babies were born between July and December 2017 formed a subgroup that has been quite active in posting questions, suggestions, and vents.  Among these parents, there is a group of Asian moms.  I have befriended one of them on FB.  I have never met her in person although I have picked up quite a few hand-me-down baby items from her and saw her husband a couple of times.  We have been texting each other passing along tips and commiserating on twin parenting experiences like putting twins down for naps or ways to console two fussy babies.  I like her and her sense of humor a lot.  This group of Asian moms have been planning a playdate and I was invited to be a part of it (I guess since I am Asian).  We have planned a playdate with five sets of twins at the club house activity room of one of the moms’ condo building next weekend.  They have created a FB messenger chat group and have been writing to one another (including me).  From their posts and comments as well as what they talk about in their chats, you can tell that they are all funny people.  I don’t know… Somehow I feel that I am not as cool or witty or quick with my comments.  I guess it has to do with my personality.  I don’t fare well in a group bigger than 3 people.  I tend to be quiet because it takes me time to think about my responses.  So I am a little bit anxious about next week’s playdate not knowing how I will get along with all of them.  I am curious to see if I click with anyone of them and what the group dynamics will be like.  Plus, sometimes I do feel like an imposter because I wasn’t the one who carried the babies.   When these moms talk about their bodies after giving birth and how they have been screwed forever, I don’t type a response because I have nothing to say or add or contribute to the conversation.  Somehow there is a feeling of exclusion because we didn’t build a family the “normal” way.  Or maybe I am overly sensitive about it.  I wish that I am not so self-conscious about it.  But the imposter feeling remains.  I guess going into a new social situation is always a little bit anxiety provoking for me.  If I get along well with them, I will have won friends that my twins can grow up with, and friends that I can continue to share twin experiences with.  It is so valuable that I want it to work.  We shall see.

MicroblogMondays: Emotional Moments

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.

MicroblogMondays: Solids

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?!?

MicroblogMondays: Sleeping Through the Night

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.)

MicroblogMondays: Birthday Wish

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.