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.
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.
My kids are now 21 months old. I started reading to them pretty much since they were born. Bunny in particular has developed a love for books. We currently have about 45 library books in our house, with 44 of them being children’s books. Bunny reads some of the books over and over again herself and also asks me to read them to her. Okra also likes to read and does flip the books on his own, but his level of interest is not nearly as intense as Bunny’s. In the morning when we change Okra’s diaper first, Bunny is satisfied with waiting for her turn as long as we hand her a book. She memorizes words from some of these library books and fills in the blank whenever she remembers. Since the summer began, we have joined our library’s Summer Learning Challenge. We are to log every 20 minutes of reading or listening by coloring one of the 36 wheels on a piece of paper. When we are done with that, plus trying 6 activities that are new to us, then each kid gets a new book and a raffle ticket to have a chance to win $1000 scholarship. Some days we get to color 3 wheels. That is an hour of reading. Bunny can sit there and read to herself for 30 minutes sometimes. Here is a picture of them hiding in the corner reading before church yesterday:
Isn’t this adorable? I just love that the kids are so into reading. I hope that their love for books will never end.
Last year my annual check up was the day after my in-laws left. My blood pressure was exceedingly high on that day. I chalked it up to eating extra salty Indian homemade food and being nervous in front of my doctor. I went back to see my doctor for a check up exactly one year after last year’s. The initial reading of my blood pressure was a little high but not too high. When my doctor remeasured my blood pressure, the number shot up. It didn’t help for him to tell me to relax. I was thinking, whenever someone tells me to relax, I get even more nervous. The interesting thing was, a couple of days prior to that, my mom asked me to take my blood pressure on her home machine and it came out totally normal. So I still don’t know if my extra high reading was truly due to white coat syndrome. But one thing that I did confess to the doctor was that I hadn’t gone back to consistently exercising since my kids were born. I am always tired and would rather take a nap when the kids take a nap. My weight has been steadily climbing up. Now with the potential high blood pressure, I am determined to take care of my health better. After considering my day and my fatigue level during the day, the best time that I could come up with for exercising is early in the morning. I am NOT a morning person by any definition, but I did attend fitness bootcamp for 5 years straight in the past for a 6:15am class, so it is doable. Getting up early for fitness bootcamp took a lot of willpower, so I know that it will be a challenge to get myself up. But again, I am determined to get myself in better health. I know that mental and physical preparation would be important for my success. The day after my doctor’s visit, I lay out my workout clothes on my dresser. I also downloaded a walking app to track my progress. My biggest strategy for maintaining my progress is to listen to a fascinating podcast that is a series. I chose Serial because each episode is a continuation of the last. Plus, who doesn’t love a murder mystery? I went to bed a bit earlier that night to ensure enough sleep for the night. The alarm went off at 6am the next morning. I got up, washed my face, changed into my workout clothes, and headed out the door. My goal was half an hour and to return by 7am to make breakfast for the kids. I put on my headphones, turned on Serial, started my walking app, and started my first workout in many many months. I walked uphill, downhill, and turned the corner briskly. The show was gripping and kept me going. The app reminds you of your pace every mile, which is motivating to me. I chose routes that go uphill for a long stretch. When I got home, surprisingly and amazingly, the route that I took was 2.01 miles. I would call that exactly two miles. My average pace was 16:10 min/mi, which took 32 minutes 38 seconds. I felt so good after the walk! I did that again the next day in the drizzle and was a bit faster. Average pace was 15:40 min/ml, and the total time was 31:29 min. Yesterday was my 3rd walk. This time, I was wearing the Airpods that Bob bought me, so it was a bit more convenient for me not to have cords attached to my phone. But I was tired. I lingered in bed for an extra 8 minutes and decided to get myself out there. It wasn’t easy, but I did it. I could feel that my body and my steps were heavy. The murder mystery really kept me going. The longer I was out there, the smoother my walk was. By the time I was done, my pace was 16:11 min/mi, which was similar to day one. I am so glad that my initial effort to take good care of my health was off to a good start. I just hope that as the days get shorter and sunrise gets later, I am still going to be motivated to get myself out there for a good workout. I really need to maintain my health for my own sake and for the sake of my family. If anyone has any recommendation on an excellent podcast that will have me hooked for my future walks, please send them my way! I would love to keep my workout interesting for a long time to come.
This past weekend I attended my nephew’s high school graduation. Coincidentally, the day before the graduation, I was re-reading my old blog posts and came across the one that I wrote about his 8th grade graduation in June 2015. I was going through a very difficult period of time with having to have a surgery inside my uterine cavity and having to find a donor in addition to some family drama. Watching the mother of a graduate reading a card from her son and tearing up from his words was such a trigger for me. I was tearing up a bit wondering about my future: if I would ever get to attend my kid’s graduation. This past Saturday, sitting in the theater witnessing another milestone of my nephew’s life, life surely felt very different from four years ago at his previous graduation. I no longer have to wonder if I’d ever have a chance to attend my kids’ graduation. I mean, we don’t know about the future, but since my children are here on this earth, the chances of me being able to be at their graduation are exponentially higher than when I was still hoping to make a baby. Instead of a sense of loss, unfairness, envy, jealousy, fear that I experienced four years ago, I was a happy mother checking on my phone’s baby monitor app periodically to see if my daughter was still napping in her crib and messaging my husband to see if our boy was still sleeping in his pack n play. I am forever grateful that at this graduation my pursuit of a child was no longer an uncertainty. Being able to celebrate my kids at their middle school, high school, and even college graduation is not a far-fetched dream anymore.
Last week my former fertility doctor Dr. E connected me with a current patient of hers who could use some support on her journey as an intended mother. After I shared my blog with this intended mother, I was curious to see what I had written in the last almost six years on my blog. I have been reading my earliest blog posts since June 2013. Wow I wrote so much and the posts were so detailed. I am now very grateful that I started a blog so I have a documentation of this journey. Things have changed so much since then. I used to think that my first IVF cycle was such a roller coaster. Compared to our subsequent journey of all the twists and turns before we got to our babies, that first cycle’s drama was nothing. But of course we didn’t know, and it was devastating for us at the time to think that we were losing our first ever embryo only for it to become a blastocyst on day six. Bob and I truly endured many trials in the last few years of our marriage. It is interesting to see that I used to think that we couldn’t afford a cycle of IVF with a certain clinic because of the price tag. Again, I wouldn’t in a million years think that we would spend even more on additional cycles with my own eggs, several DE cycles, and even a whole journey with a gestational carrier. If you told me back then that we would spend this amount of money on our fertility treatments, I’d have said you’ve gotta be kidding me. Another thing that I notice is that the blogging community back then was so vibrant. At every turn of my journey, there was a tribe of bloggers and commenters cheering me on, validating my feelings, rooting for my embryos, and crying/mourning my losses. It was heartwarming and amusing to see the first comments on my blog from many of my current blogger-turned-real-life-friends, such as A., Maddie, Jane Allen, Aramis, Jennifer T., Bri from Dreaming of Diapers, ramdomsqueaks, and Torthuil, to name a few. Seeing how our friendships started was so fun. I have met most of them in real life, and a couple of them even attended my baby shower. At the same time, I feel sad that some have turned their blogs into private blogs, and many bloggers no longer blog. I clicked on the comments from many bloggers and found that their last blog posts stay in the past in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, or 2018. You don’t know what has happened to them, why they suddenly stopped blogging, and if you will ever hear from them again. I understand that ever since FB groups and IG have evolved, blogging is not the same anymore. I miss that community so much though. It helped me through thick and thin. Reading my blog posts has made me so nostalgic. I wonder if I’d ever share my blog with the kids. That’s something to ponder. Regardless of that, it is my hope that this blog continues to be helpful to those who stumble upon because they feel lonely or lost on their fertility journey. I hope that they feel encouraged and less alone when they read these blog posts.