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:

Advertisements

MicroblogMondays: Mother’s Day This Year

Mother’s Day this year was vastly different from all the previous years’.  We participated in the child-parent dedication at church that takes place on Mother’s Day every year.  Rather than watching others longingly in the past few years, we got to stand on stage with our babies and receive blessings from our congregation.  I love that every year our pastor not only acknowledges the mothers in the congregation, but also those who have lost their mothers as well as those who want to be a mom but for various reasons aren’t one on this day.  My baby boy was so handsome.  He was sporting a bowtie, suspenders, and a nice blue plaid shirt.  My baby girl was lovely in her floral dress.  This year I feel so loved by everyone around me.  I didn’t wash a single baby bottle today as my husband and mother-in-law picked up the duty.  I got to have some down time by myself doing a little grocery shopping and trying on dresses at our local strip mall.  My friend Jo came to the baby dedication and brought with her chicken wonton in a takeout container completed with a piece of napkin and a fork in a paper bag.  She basically armed herself with “contraband” food that was not allowed in the house.  Since Chinese people often go to a dim sum restaurant on Mother’s Day, she felt that chicken wonton was the closest thing she could give me as obviously we weren’t going to have dim sum any time soon.  She is such a thoughtful friend and we are so thankful to have her as the godmother for our children.  It was also lovely to receive messages throughout the day from friends wishing me a happy first Mother’s Day with our babies.  One friend who wished me a happy Mother’s Day told me something that upset her.  She has been trying for a baby for a number of years.  A friend of hers who has also struggled to get pregnant chose to write her today, out of all the days, to announce her pregnancy.  This announcement made my friend very upset because it triggered all sorts of emotions for her today.  She was doing quite well up until that point.  You see, her friend wanted to make a FB announcement today but wanted her let my friend know ahead of time.  This friend could have told my friend the day or a couple of days prior to Mother’s Day.  But no, she chose Mother’s Day to do that just because of poor planning on her part.  Even she herself said in the email “I realized this probably isn’t the best day to tell you”.  Then she should have done it earlier!  I was upset along with my friend.  The amnesia that some people have is ridiculous as they so quickly forget how emotional triggering it could be for someone who has been longing for a child to hear pregnancy announcement on Mother’s Day.  I just wish that people have more awareness and are more mindful of the effect of their actions on others.  I hope that my friend gets to experience being a mother on Mother’s Day in the near future.

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.

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.