After our international trip, I observed two types of people: those who love kids and those who don’t.
Majority of the people that we encountered were kid lovers. They were so drawn to our twins. They included my childhood friends, my college friends, my relatives, my dad’s office people, my parents’ friends, and even the cleaning lady for my dad. They would immediately kneel down and interact with my kids. They wanted to hold them, play with them, and talk with them. Their faces lit up when they saw the kids. They paid more attention to the kids than to the adults who were with the kids. This is probably why most of the people in this world want kids and make babies. They genuinely like kids.
Now fast forward to meeting up with my high school best friend. She is an interesting person. I know her really well and know her view on many things in life including wedding, marriage, and kids. She dislikes going to weddings. She does not believe in marriage. And she is not interested in kids at all. When she was in town in transit to ski in the United States, she didn’t ask to see me or to come see the kids. When we got married, she asked for permission to not come to our wedding. Instead, she gave us a very generous gift of a very expensive and high quality photo album from our wedding photographer. Knowing her so well, I didn’t mind her not attending our wedding and in exchange we have a really nice photo album to cherish forever. It was a win-win situation. I knew that she was traveling in the beginning our our trip. I contacted her again when we got back to my hometown to see if we could get together. It seemed like it was impossible to see her there, but she happened to be flying out around the same time as us on the same day. We made plans to meet at the airport for a meal.
It was hectic to get into the airport (because of heightened security) as well as to go through the check-in process with twin toddlers in tow and ten thousand pieces of luggage. We finally got to the food court area where my friend came to meet us. It was actually quite interesting to see her reaction to the kids. She had no intention in standing anywhere close to them. The kids were watching a video and eating their lunch. I was sitting next to them giving them food. My friend came and stood on the other side of me and didn’t really ask anything about the kids. We asked the kids to say Hi to auntie which they pleasantly complied. My friend went on to chat with me about things and didn’t really say anything to the kids. Towards the end, Bunny walked over to give my friend a hug which surprised my friend a great deal. I could tell that her body froze up a little and she didn’t know how to react. I said, “Bunny wanted to give you a hug goodbye,” to which my friend said, “Aww how nice.” Hahaha. I told her the kids’ names, but I am still not sure if she remembers them.
This doesn’t surprise me, but it is just so interesting for me to see how a person who genuinely has no interest in children interacts (or doesn’t interact) with my kids. It was just such a big contrast to the majority of the people that we met on our trip who were so drawn to the twins it was just so obvious to see the difference. I don’t mind it either way. It just made a pretty big impression on me that not the whole world is into kids. It is not because they have had past hurts, or they want to avoid kids because they are childfree not by choice. They just do not want kids, like kids, or want to have anything to do with kids. My friend is a very good example.
We finally arrived back home after a 4-week international trip. I felt brave to have done it, and it was as challenging as I had imagined. The most challenging was the plane rides. One kid didn’t want to nap or sleep, so she fought hard to stay awake and was usually overly tired. Nothing could please her and the requests for me got tired quickly. The other kid was fine with sitting and dozing off, but would flail his arms and kick his legs hard when he suddenly woke up from his sleep. No amount of consoling would help until he started to calm himself down in my arms. This was true for 3 out of the 4 flights.
I am happy to be back home, but like I said in my last post, that I am so glad that we went. The kids and I hung out with my grandma the day before we left. It was just heartwarming to see them interact with her, and her smiles and comments about their cuteness. Okra was in my grandma’s lap watching the fish and turtle in the tanks, and Bunny was standing behind her doing the same. We took some videos of that and I will cherish them forever.
I will continue to go unpack, but I will end with this story.
The flight from India to my home town was at an ungodly hour of 2am. We let the kids sleep from 7pm to 10pm, then we woke them up to get them to the airport. At 1:15 am, we were waiting to board. Both kids were hyper and running around. Okra got to push our wheeled carryon suitcase around like a car and was super happy. After 10 minutes of that, he suddenly hugged the suitcase and said, “I love you!” 3 to 4 times! He had never even said that to me voluntarily. It was so cute. Funny kid.
Despite how difficult an international trip has been with twin toddlers, I remind myself of all the good things that I observe during the trip. I am truly grateful for them.
- Transportation has been convenient because my uncle has a mini-van that my dad has been borrowing, and my dad (and my brother when he was in town) is super willing to do pick ups and drop offs.
- Transportation in India was a breeze as well despite some crazy traffic because we had the means to hire a car and a driver.
- Despite the time change, Bunny has been sleeping through the night in both my home town and in India since day one.
- Okra has more difficulty with nap time and bed time, but he is consolable whenever we need to console him.
- So far, all three flights were horrible and after them, my body really needed time to adjust to the lack of rest. Fortunately, one night of sleep was enough to help with recuperating.
- The kind of help that my parents have been providing for us has been nothing short of amazing. Bob is currently away being at a work conference at the next town. My parents have been helping out with all the childcare needs. My dad buys and carries all the groceries home and my mom helps with all the daily chores including laundry, bath, and breakfast/lunch/dinner. Without them, the trip would have been much harder.
- How happy my grandma is when she is with the kids has been so nice for me to watch. Because of her age, she is not too lucid at times. However, whenever she sees the kids, her face lights up and she is all smiles. For this reason alone, the trip is worth it.
- The kids spending time with relatives from both sides of the family has been truly memorable. They took to them well and were willing to play and interact with them. And, seeing how much my husband’s family loves the kids and how much my family loves the kids is the highlight of this extended time we have spent away from home.
We have a few more days left here. I am very glad we decided to make this trip. I think the true test is when we go home to face the time change and jet lag there. I will report back how that goes.
Kids waiting at the gate for grandpa’s ride
Two Mondays came and went, and I hadn’t updated my blog.
Traveling internationally with twin toddlers is no joke. I had very low expectation to begin with, and it has still been very hard to be so far away from home and living off of suitcases. We are lucky enough that we stay at my parents’ and have their help, but it continues to be difficult to navigate a foreign (to the kids) world with them. The kids have tasted freedom of no stroller and no high chairs/boosters and they fight us every chance they have if we put them in one. They refuse to hold hands when crossing the street which often results in us carrying them while they are kicking and screaming. They have watched one too many shows on a digital device everywhere they go and I know that the road to detox screen time will be brutal at home. The public tantrums are sometimes too hard to bear.
But, everything is worth it when I see my grandma’s smiles while interacting with my kids. It is worth it when I see how comfortable the kids are with my family. It is so worth it to watch the twinkle in their eyes exploring the world many miles away from home.
We are leaving for India this evening. There is a whole new world out there for the kids to see. I hope I am able to focus on the positive rather than the hard work of the next three weeks.
This blog post is late for about… 14 hours.
I was trying to make a decision this weekend. This decision was weighing so much on my mind that I didn’t have the mental capacity or time to write a blog post.
We have been scheduled to leave for my home town in Asia and India this coming Sunday. I didn’t mention about it in my last blog post, but one of my worries of this upcoming trip was the unrest in my home town. There have been protests for democracy since June there and things have been escalating in the last week. Still, things seem to be fine if you avoid the usual hot spots for protests… until this weekend. Extreme violence and large scale damages and vandalism took place over Friday night that the mass transit there had to shut down the whole subway system. My dad had a difficult time finding public transportation to go home after dinner and he had to rely on my cousin to call him an U.ber. Some ATMs were smashed so my dad couldn’t get money. Banks, malls, and supermarkets were closed. Clashes continued to happen throughout the weekend. Subway system continued to be shut down due to damages. Honestly, during those two days, I felt that if we went as originally planned, I didn’t feel that I could protect my children. My gut was telling me to skip my home town and just transit to India directly and back. However, emotionally it would be heartbreaking for me to just transit there without entering to see my family. And I have been so looking forward to my grandmother meeting my kids. After all, my grandmother is going to be 100 and who knows when we would have the opportunity for my kids to meet her. I spoke with my best friend and my dad. Both felt that it would still be safe if we stay home and around the areas of my dad’s house and my grandma’s house. I wavered with my decision throughout the whole weekend. Finally, I posted on my college’s parenting group on FB about my quandary. Some of my fellow alumnae actually live there currently so they gave their perspectives. I’d say 100% of the people who responded said we should go. I prayed about it and talked to Bob, and we both agree that seeing family is more important. And we will exercise caution. Once the decision has been made, I feel that a weight has been lifted off my shoulder. I can now continue to pack our stuff for this first international trip/plane ride with our twins.
T-13 until our trip to Asia.
See this picture? These are some of the things that I purchased in preparation for the kids’ entertainment on our 14-hour flight. I walked around dollar stores several times and considered various toys and non-toy items that are novelty to my kids so they’d be occupied on the plane. Paper fan, post-it notes, little boxes that open and close, stationary pouches with zippers that they can open and close. And many more things. Oh and endless snacks. The kids are into opening presents these days, so I will take the advice of somebody and wrap these little items in tissue paper so the kids get to open them and be surprised. Anything to keep them occupy, right?
I will start packing our bags. The packing list has been modified multiple times. We will have to be away from our familiar routines on the other side of the world many time zones away for four weeks. (Why four weeks? Spending some time in my home town for my grandma’s 100th birthday, and going to see my in-laws in India for another 1.5 weeks. My husband will attend a conference in the town next to my home town. That makes four weeks.) I am hoping not to have to pack too many suitcases and still have all that we will need on our trip. Fortunately my dad has been in town and he is going home today so he will transport the kids’ diapers, wipes, and some snacks for us. You may ask, can’t you buy diapers there? Unfortunately my kids are used to the Tar.get brand and I don’t want to try using new diapers on a trip especially for my son’s sensitive skin. So I am grateful for the help that we will get for bringing some supplies to Asia. We’ll also have the traveling cribs, travel car seats, and double umbrella stroller. I get a bit stressed out thinking about all of this.
Considering the kind of tantrums that my kids have been throwing lately, I can’t imagine what traveling and being away from home for an extended period of time plus jet lag will do to them. I was told by my kids’ wise godmother to have very low expectations for this trip, and expect it to be a lot of work and no rest. I have had quite a few months to prepare myself mentally. Oh and Okra suddenly had two raised bumps on his hand today. I really really really hope that it is NOT hand, foot, and mouth disease. We really don’t need to have a sick kid on top of getting ready for the trip. But if he is sick for real, there is nothing I can do but to take the best care of him so that he is healthy to travel. At least he is not falling sick the day before the trip?
T-13 days. I am a bit stressed out. But think about the blessings. Traveling to my home town with my own children has been a dream. I am about to have my dream come true. I should really hold onto this thought when I get stressed out.
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.
Today is the second day of our second road trip with our twins. Yesterday we drove 275 miles down south from home. This is the farthest that the kids have gone from home. They did relatively well. Other than whimpering once in a while, Bunny did not cry at all. Okra napped twice and finally had a full meltdown 30 minutes before arrival. I’d consider that a win. We have rented a hotel suite with a living room and kitchen. The hotel provided two pack n’ plays. The kids were probably confused about what was going on despite me trying to explain to them that we were going on a road trip. They explored all the rooms and tried to open doors, drawers, and cabinets. We tried to contain Bunny by putting her in her pack n play. At the end of the night, she figured out how to climb out of it. Three times. You could see her brain work. Haha. But once the sleep sack went on, it was a lot harder for her to try. Plus that acted as a cue for sleep time. Okra had a much harder time settling down. Poor guy was confused. He finally went down for bed. And despite my best effort with a packing list, we forgot one of the most important things: sound machine. Fortunately the iPad has white noise on it. Those who say that with little kids you take trips, not vacations are absolutely right. I was exhausted last night from the driving, chasing kids, taking care of their needs, and outwitting them. Hopefully we will have some fun today.
Here is our packed car. Doesn’t look too bad!
After eight days of being home, my trip quickly came to an end. Unexpectedly, my emotions were all over the place the last day I was in my home town. I woke up thinking that this would be the last time I would roam around my birth place “freely” all by myself. It would be the last time I could quickly get ready to go out the door, meet up with my dad for breakfast without a lot of effort, ride on public transportation without much thought, and go in and out of stores at a shopping mall independently without a lot of care or consideration. And that was what happened. I savored the “freedom” that I had on that particular day because my life is going to change drastically the next time I step foot in my place of origin. I will no longer be only responsible for myself. I will have two lives that are dependent on my provision and care. I have been waiting for a very very long time for this responsibility and it made my last day there with my family different and memorable. For this reason alone, my trip home was the correct choice for me in terms of my emotional state and timing. Without my grandmother’s funeral, I would not have had a chance to experience this final “freedom” before I become a mother of live children. It made me nostalgic of what I have been given so far in my life but at the same time my gratitude for this opportunity to become a mother grows exponentially. It is hard to explain my feelings on that last day. It is complicated. It signified a sort of finale and a beginning. I am just grateful that I have this day to remember and I am quite sure that when we return to my home town with the twins in the future, I will be even more appreciative of the reality of a new life and this lack of “freedom” that I have been craving for so long.
I have been home in Asia for a few days now. My mom’s sister is also here from the States to take care of things for my grandma’s funeral and has been staying with my parents as well. I have spent a lot of time with her. There has been several times I wanted to share with her about the twins but have found it really difficult to open my mouth. I just don’t know how to tell her while sitting there watching TV. Do I go, “By the way we have a surrogate carrying twins for us” right after commenting on a drama series? Plus, telling my aunt means her telling her friends and my cousins. I somehow hesitate opening this can of worms fearing that misinformation would be passed along. I will tell her before I leave on Wednesday. I also have many chances to see my other relatives such as my dad’s siblings and some of my cousins. I still haven’t told anyone of them. How do I begin to tell relatives about my babies when I am not the one being pregnant? In theory it seems to be easy to tell because it is happy news, but in reality it has been very difficult.
I’m proud of my 97-year-old grandma. I told her the news. It took a little bit of explanation but she understood what I was telling her rather quickly. She looked very happy that we are finally going to have children although taking care of two will be a lot of work. I showed her the photos of our embryos, the ultrasound photos at various stages, and Annie’s bump photos. She was amazed at the technology that is available nowadays. She’s also very on top of things. She asked if others know. I told her not yet so she said she’d keep it to herself until later. I feel such joy to have a chance to spend time with her and share with her about the twins in person. This is my silver lining of losing my other grandmother who never had a chance to learn about the babies. Her passing gave me the opportunity to see my last remaining grandparent face to face. I suspect that after the twins are born, it’d be a while before we can travel overseas.
Last night, I tagged along my parents when they had dinner with their friends. One of the friends asked me if I had kids. I didn’t mind the question so I just said, “No yet.” He then asked if I planned on having kids. I was caught off guard by that question because most people don’t ask super private questions like that. So I just smiled and said, “Yes I do”. My parents both smiled politely without saying anything. When I came home, I thought about the future: how my dad and my mom are going to tell their friends and our relatives about the twins. If I were the one pregnant, it’d have been easier for them to just say that I was pregnant. If I were the one carrying the babies, it would have been a lot easier for me to answer those questions that my dad’s friend asked me. I would not hesitate telling my aunt. I would be joyfully telling my dad’s siblings and my cousins and showing my bump. It is because our way of building a family is so unconventional and the people with whom we’d share the news are so traditional that telling others has been such a chore. I am not at all ashamed of our need of using a surrogate to make a baby. This is why it’s surprising that sharing such happy news has been so tough.
I hope that it’ll be easier to share the news as we get closer to the due date.