My dad who lives in Asia fell sick about a month ago. He had high fever that remained high and was coughing nonstop. He felt so sick that he called an ambulance in the middle of the night to take him to the emergency room. Armed with antibiotics for his newly diagnosed pneumonia and fever-reducing meds, he was sent home to rest. However, after being home for two more days, his temperature remained very high, and he was feeling very sick. He again called an ambulance to the ER, and this time he was admitted to the hospital and was in isolation because of the fear of being infected by others. My dad had never been so sick before. He was coughing every single minute to a point where his muscles everywhere were sore and hurt. Talking on the phone hurt because he would have to cough constantly while speaking. No position was comfortable for him. What worried me the most was his high fever. He was burning up constantly. His meds brought the temperature down a bit but it went back up high for quite a few days. For a 74-year-old, pneumonia could be fatal. Honestly, I was worried sick every single day that his fever remained high. I felt so stuck that I couldn’t be there for him. My brother considered flying there if my dad didn’t get better within a couple of days. I also felt bad that his immediate family (me, my mom, and my brother) was not by his side. Fortunately, my dad’s numerous siblings (he is one of ten) and my cousin were taking care of him. The hospital ran so many tests on my dad to make sure that he had nothing more than pneumonia. He was finally discharged after 6 days. I was so relieved to know that he was on the mend. He was notified by the public hospital that an earlier CT showed a shadow. Since getting an appointment at the public hospital would take a long time, my dad got one done at a private hospital, and was told that the results didn’t show cancer. Phew. What a relief. Last week my dad called me to chat. He told me that the public hospital tried to schedule an appointment with him for a follow up on his pneumonia in September. He told them that he wanted to plan a trip so he wouldn’t be available until early October. I didn’t think much about that because my dad goes on hiking and biking trips all the time. Then he said that he told them that he was planning a trip to go see babies. I was puzzled as to which babies he was going to visit. He was like, who else??? Then I realized that he meant my babies. Then he told me this. When he was lying on the hospital bed feeling very sick, he had that doomed feeling that he didn’t even know if he would ever make it out of the hospital. He wondered if he would ever get to see his grand-babies again. I guess when you are very sick especially at an older age, your mind goes to dark places. It was at that time that he had made up his mind to come see us during the babies’ birthday month, which is September, even though we are going to visit him in Asia in October. So just like that, grandpa who didn’t intend to come visit bought plane tickets so he can celebrate his grand-babies’ birthday with them. I can understand how he feels, and am so happy that he is healthy enough to fly for 13 hours to come see them. Especially after my sister-in-law’s mother passed away due to complications of dementia and colon cancer last week. I feel blessed that my parents are still healthy and the kids have a chance to get to know them intimately. I try not to take these chances to spend with my parents for granted because no one knows what tomorrow may bring.
Today, I broke my very long streak of posting my MicroblogMondays post on a Monday morning at 6:15am. That didn’t even happen during my international trips, or our hazy days of having newborn twins. I had kept at it week after week after week just because I love being consistent. What was I doing instead? My husband and I had a fight that wasn’t even particularly bad. It was one of the same old topics that causes conflicts all the time. I mean, we had also fought in the past on a Sunday evening, but I always managed to write a post and publish it on Monday morning. Last night, I simply could not write. I was staring at a blank screen wondering about the point of writing something for the sake of writing something when my emotions were all over the place. It wouldn’t have been a genuine post of what I truly wanted to talk about. I am happy to report that my husband and I went to bed in peace. We forgave each other, as we always do. The problem has been resolved. It was worth it to use the time to mend our problems rather than writing a post. But, can I just tell you how much I hate breaking the streak of something I was so consistent with? I am such a creature of habit. It is important to me. Steering away from routine makes me very uncomfortable. I had always wondered how I’d feel if I missed publishing a post on Mondays at 6:15. Now I know. Next week, I will start my streak again. Have a great week everyone!
The kids have been fighting over toys a whole lot, which is tiring for the adults to defuse. Despite all the fights, they have also started to show some love for each other. Once in a while, they are willing to give what they are holding to the other person. They ask for each other when they haven’t seen each other in a while (such as after nap). Most recently, they seem to get into this phase of holding each other’s hands while we are out and about. Bunny tells Okra to hold hands, and Okra would extend his hand to her. When we were at the zoo the other day, instead of running to the opposite directions, the two of them were holding hands to visit different animals. It was the most heartwarming and sweetest thing to witness.
On many days, raising twins is very hard, but it is moments like this that remind me how blessed we are to have these two growing up together. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Okra’s language has grown a lot recently. He has gone from using single words to putting two to three words together. You’d think that this progress in communication would reduce his tantrums. However, it is not the case. Despite being able to tell us more verbally, he started to throw toys on the floor out of frustration. His tantrums or meltdowns come quickly and are often times unpredictable. He could be playing nicely and happy one second, and becomes upset the next. He has been throwing his wooden trains on the floor to show his frustrations. In the beginning, I was at a loss as to how to respond to him throwing his toys. I would tell him “No throwing” and make him say sorry. When this happens in my mom’s care, she stands there helplessly and says to herself how naughty he is. But I know that he is not being naughty. This is his way of communicating to us he is unhappy/upset/frustrated. The more we tell him no or ignore him, the more he throws. I want him to know that our hands are not for throwing toys. Most recently when he gets upset and throws things, I pick him up and hold him from behind to hold both of his arms tight. I pick up the toys from the floor with him in my arms. I tell him that I can tell he is frustrated, but toys are for playing and holding, not for throwing. Holding him seems to calm him down more quickly. I hold him until he doesn’t struggle out of my arms anymore. If I know why he is frustrated (such as having a difficult time putting a toy together), I show him how to fix whatever it is that needs to be fixed. I don’t make him say sorry anymore because I don’t think it is meaningful as he doesn’t really know what it means. His toy throwing happens quite a few times a day. I handle the situation the same way every tine. I really don’t know if this is the most appropriate way to handle his frustration/meltdown/tantrum, but I am really trying my best to learn how to handle it. I hope that as his ability to communicate continues to grow, his meltdown will lessen and the habit of throwing things will disappear.
One day my sister-in-law came to join me and the kids at the play gym. At the end while I was putting the kids in the stroller and giving them some snacks, my sister-in-law suddenly said, “I need to apologize for something that I said; I made a mistake on your behalf.” At that moment, I half-guessed what she meant, and it wasn’t far off from my hunch. She and my brother had dinner with a mutual friend, and the topic of our twins came up. This mutual friend asked, “How come the twins looked nothing like Isabelle?” My sister-in-law wasn’t thinking much and blurted out that it was somebody else’s eggs, or something to that effect. Our mutual friend thought that it was our gestational carrier’s eggs, but my SIL clarified that it was someone else’s. Once my SIL said it out loud, she knew that she had made a mistake from seeing the horror on my brother’s face. She made our mutual friend swear that she won’t tell others, but she didn’t feel good that I didn’t know that this mutual friend knew. She explained that she was caught off guard at that moment. When this topic comes up, she usually would say that Bob’s genes are very strong and the kids just look a lot like him. But this time she just told it without thinking about it. Afterwards, my brother was more mad at the friend than my sister-in-law because he felt that she shouldn’t have asked, as the question puts people on the spot. My SIL was horrified that she had told someone without consulting with me first and she was sincerely sorry about it. I told her that it is okay because this is not some dark secret. But I have been working on telling the kids about their genetic origins and before they have the cognitive ability, language, and maturity to tell people about it, I do not want those other than our chosen friends and family to know.
How did/do I feel about it? It has been a few days and I am still processing my feelings. I am not mad at my SIL at all. It IS a difficult question to answer and I felt that I should have prepared my loved ones better by giving them an answer to give people who ask. I am a bit mad at our mutual friend. What gives her the right to question why my kids don’t look like me? I mean, plenty of people do not look like their parents. If their parents did not use a gestational carrier to carry and give birth to them, I doubt that their friends and family would ask why they don’t look like their parents. The fact that our family building path involved a gestational carrier makes people feel that they can question the origin of my kids’ genetics. Just because I didn’t get to carry my babies, the chances of encountering difficult to answer questions are so much higher. At the same time, I did use donor eggs to create my family. And again, this is not some dark secret, so I feel that I *should* be okay with these questions because I should own up to my decision proudly. I don’t know. Like I said, I am still processing my feelings. One thing I am sure is that my SIL probably won’t blurt out donor eggs easily in the future. And, I should think about how to prepare my family better in the future because I am sure this question is going to come up again.
Last Wednesday I turned 45.
It seems like it wasn’t too long ago when Bob and I met, dated, got married, and tried for kids. You blink, and I am at an age when I thought my kids would be at least teenagers. My friends who got married and had kids early now have high schoolers and college-aged kids. My kids are not even two yet. The number 45 feels old because next year at 46 things seem to go downhill with approaching late 40s and becoming 50. When I am 50, my kids are only going to be 6, almost 7.
Anyways, these thoughts about my age didn’t stop me from enjoying my birthday. When I was still snuggling my pillow in my warm blanket, Bob was already up and walking around. Later, he put something on my head. I opened my eyes and grabbed whatever it was. He gave me a birthday card from the kids and another one from him. I love these cards! The one from the kids is really cute, and the one from him says these really sweet things about me and us. The cards started my day right. Bunny and Okra have been kind of into birthdays and singing birthday songs. So on that day my mom led them to say happy birthday and sing to me several times. It is so cute that the kids are now talking and can say many things that are mostly clear, including happy birthday. This is vastly different from a year ago when they were only 9 months. The rest of the day was low key, with me taking the kids to get my favorite coffee, my mom taking me out to a yummy Burmese lunch, and dinner out with my husband to get a nice bowl of udon at our favorite udon place. Only the two of us having an adult conversation.
You know the best thing that happened on that day? The kids did not throw one single tantrum or have any meltdowns on that day. ALL. DAY. LONG.
Wow you know how much of a miracle that was considering the kind of tantrums and meltdowns they have these days? They were SOOOO pleasant all day long. Even prime time for tantrums like right after nap was filled with laughters and happy chatting. I was so impressed that it was like they almost knew that they had to give mommy a pleasant birthday.
Well, the next day was definitely payback time. Tantrums were nonstop from breakfast time until bedtime. The two of them took turns having meltdowns about everything under the sun, and sometimes you don’t even know why they were having a hard time. It was like they exploded after not getting upset for a day. My fellow twin mom friend said, “At least they kept it together for your birthday itself. Much more than that would be too much to ask.” I completely agree with her.
The highlight of this birthday was returning to our favorite steak house on Saturday for our prime rib dinner. This place has gotten harder to make a reservation in the last few years. We tried to make one for Bob’s birthday in February. When it didn’t work out, we booked it for my birthday instead. So we had had our reservation for five months! The dinner did not disappoint. It was lovely to again sit and have adult conversation while eating yummy food. I was supposed to have a glass of white wine after my lemon drop, but I am so light weight now that one cocktail did me in. That was okay though. I didn’t need to drink another glass of wine to feel celebratory. The dinner and the company were perfect.
This was how I celebrated being 45. It was perfect for me. We will see how 46 feels next year.
Going on a road trip with two kids of the same age (AKA twins) is so tiring. We lucked out that Okra and Bunny had minimal tantrums on our last road trip. We got brave and planned another one last weekend. It was only about a two-hour drive to the California State Railroad Museum, one of Bob’s favorite places on earth. He had wanted to show the kids all the huge locomotives in this train museum for quite some time. Our original trip last November got canceled because of bad air quality. We finally made the trip this time, which to me is better timing in terms of the kids’ understanding of things around them. Plus Okra is a confirmed train enthusiast like his dad so it was even more exciting for me to plan the trip in order to wow him. The goal to impress the kids was a mission accomplished. Okra and Bunny’s faces lit up when they approached the huge locomotives. Okra was especially excited; he kept on pointing at all the trains and making choo-choo sounds. He ran around non-stop touching different trains. The kids had so much fun up at the Thomas play area that meltdowns were almost guaranteed every single time. We also rode first class on the excursion train ride. The kids really loved standing at the window looking outside.
In terms of building memories, this was a fantastic trip. However, other moments were not as enjoyable as the previous road trip because the kids have grown older and somehow have become whinier and more demanding. Maybe because they are approaching two? So many demands but not enough language. Tantrums came more easily and longer for each toddler. And when there are two of them, it just felt like it was never-ending. It was like the end of a battle after we put the kids down for the night. The only thing one would want was a good night sleep. Both kids had had no problems sleeping through the night for months even during our last road trip only a couple of months ago. This time Okra woke up in the middle of the night wailing two nights in a row. The first night we had to get him so that he didn’t wake up Bunny. The second night he did it again and both of them woke up crying. So we had two kids in bed with us. Needless to say, both Bob and I were extra tired and cranky the next day. And when the kids didn’t sleep well the night before, they threw tantrums more easily the next day. It is just a vicious cycle. Bunny had an unusually huge meltdown when we were about to depart that we had to change plans and skip out on my dear friend Jane Allen’s little girl’s birthday. I was so bummed to have to miss it but the kids wouldn’t be pleasant to be around anyways. I truly do not mind the extra work that is required with all the logistics that comes with a trip, but the tantrums and meltdowns with twin toddlers are emotionally and physically (holding them down while they arch their back fighting being held) exhausting. We have bought plane tickets for a four-week trip to Asia this coming Fall. I shudder to think about being away from home for so long not having our routines and the tantrums these then-two-year-olds will have. I know the key is to set no/low expectations but still. I really have to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for such a long trip so far away with the effects of time zone changes and other changes on the kids. BUT, this train museum trip was worth it despite the difficulties, and hopefully I will feel the same way about the international trip.