The fun that comes with having 11-month-old twins: the fighting, hitting, and biting have begun. The twins can now exist peacefully in the same space for a little while playing next to each other. Sometimes they fight over the same toys. I usually don’t interfere. However, lately they have resorted to head-butting and pushing each other. When that happens, I tell them to be gentle with each other and demonstrate what that means by taking their hands to gently touch the other person’s head, arms, or hands. The other day my mom was watching the twins when I was making dinner. She turned her back to them for a few seconds and suddenly heard Bunny scream loudly. She turned around and saw Okra biting on Bunny’s cheek. Fortunately my mom stopped him mid action so he did not bite Bunny deeply. Needless to say, Okra was told not to bite others. I don’t think they were fighting over a toy nor was he upset or frustrated. He just suddenly attempted to bite her. Fast forward the next day. It was about late afternoon and it was almost time for me to make dinner. The babies were playing peacefully in the living room. I went to the kitchen to grab something and suddenly heard Bunny scream again. I turned around to look and saw that Okra was again biting Bunny’s cheek. Because of the distance between the kitchen and the living room, Okra had bitten Bunny’s cheek quite deeply by the time I rushed over to stop him. This time Bunny was screaming and crying loudly. I immediately picked her up to console her and at the same time told Okra sternly that we do not bite, and that teeth are not for biting people. I don’t think Okra really understood it. And he wasn’t frustrated or upset. Poor Bunny’s cheek was swollen from the biting.
And the next day the bite mark was even more visible:
This was so surprising to me because Okra is usually not the aggressive one. I consulted with the parents of multiples group. It is very likely that he doesn’t know it isn’t right to bite others. Maybe he is teething. Maybe he is exploring his mouth and teeth and what he can do with them. Maybe he is testing his boundary. Whatever it is, I hope that it’s a phase that will pass quickly. In the mean time, I will have to learn to keep my cool while being consistent and firm with them regarding personal space and what they can do with their arms and legs and mouth. This is when I start to feel the pressure of parenting twins when they become older and more mobile. I don’t want to yell at them so I need to think through how to react to incidents like this in the future. And I am quite sure it will happen over and over again. Probably until they are teenagers and beyond??? Hopefully by then they don’t bite each other anymore. Hahaha.
I was a bit misty eyed when the idea of this blog post first popped into my head.
We started trying for a baby prior to the birth of this blog. Bob was the one who suggested “binky moongee” as part of the blog’s name. As I wrote in “What is a binky moongee?“, Bob’s dream had always been for his baby to press his/her face (“moongee” in Tamil, Bob’s mother tongue) on the glass of the window waiting for him to come home from work. This dream was not fulfilled for quite many years. Until now.
Every single day when Bob’s car pulls into the driveway or the spot in front of our house, I put Bunny and Okra right in front of the window. They would press their noses on the glass while excitedly pounding their hands on the window. They would spot Bob and start smiling and then laughing. Bob would then come stand in front of them outside of the window calling their names and putting his big hands on the window where the babies’ small hands are. It is such a joyful moment that concludes a very long work day for him.
The only thing is we can’t call these babies “binky moongee” because they had stopped using their binkies months ago. Despite that, it is still so heartwarming to witness my dear husband’s dream being fulfilled on a daily basis after our long struggles. We know that this blessing is not a given. This realization makes it even more precious to see the kids’ reunion with their dad every single day. We don’t have to hope and dream for a binky moongee anymore. We are blessed with two.
No, I am not getting a hysterectomy. This post is about our gestational carrier.
Annie and I don’t talk much. I send her pictures of the kiddos every now and then especially for something funny or memorable, such as Bunny looking serious on a swing or the babies playing together peacefully in the play pen. The other day, I sent her a series of pictures of Bunny climbing on our window like a Spiderman. (This crazy baby girl held onto the window frame with her hands, propelled her feet up the glass, and pulled her whole body up on the window. I was right behind her holding onto her body to make sure she didn’t fall down. The whole action of climbing up was all hers.) We were joking a bit on FB messenger about the babies and I said with an active child like Bunny, I’d need a lot of prayers.
Annie said that she’d definitely pray for us. And then she said, she would ask prayers from us.
This is what she told me. She said that she is going to have a partial hysterectomy end of August or beginning of September. Remember she had tremendous pain in her pelvic area after the birth of the twins. The pains subsided a bit after a surgery and physical therapy. However, she continued to have pains especially during PMS and her cycle which is only 1 to 2 days with intense bleeding. Her doctor believes that she may have endometriosis (!?!?) and something else that she couldn’t recall. She said when he touched that area she almost fell off the table. The doctor suggested a hysterectomy a long time ago, but Annie refused at that time thinking that it would get better with time. It’s only getting worse. She told her husband that she’d wait if we (meaning me and Bob) wanted a sibling. She said she feels scared and nervous, and is mourning not being able to carry again. However, given her pain, she feels that it is the right choice for her. Hopefully not having a cycle would mean that her pain will be gone forever.
I was shocked by this news. I didn’t know that her pain would require such drastic measure. I know how much she wants to help others by carrying for them. It pains me to learn that she can no longer do that. My heart has been heavy ever since I learned of this news. After all, she grew our babies for us and her uterus was the safe home for the twins for 9 months. It made it possible for us to become parents. In some strange way, I am also mourning its loss. I know it is not my uterus that is going to be removed, but I feel that some part of me is also going to disappear. It is difficult to describe this feeling I have knowing that our gestational carrier who carried our babies for us would lose the organ that held our babies. Regardless of how I feel, I love her and want the best for her. I hope and pray that this surgery will be worth it for her in the end.
Bunny and Okra are 10 months old. They hear Cantonese majority of the day with me and my mom being their primary caregivers. I read and sing to them in English but tag on descriptions of the pictures in Cantonese. Cantonese nursery rhymes are also occasionally part of the repertoire. Recently they have shown signs of understanding our words. The first word that Bunny clearly showed understanding of was “giraffe” in Cantonese, which is a term consisting of three characters. One day I asked her in Cantonese “Where is the giraffe?” She turned around and looked at the location of the correct animal. I thought it was a fluke and asked again. Her correct rate came out to be about 75%. She DOES know. From then on it has been an exciting new world of discovering the babies’ new receptive language skills. Bunny understands when I asked where Baba (daddy in Cantonese) is or where the car is. She looks out the window for both (since the babies often stand by the window with their faces pressing on the glass watching Bob’s car pull in the driveway). She also recognizes the word “PoPo” for grandma. At first when I asked Okra the same things he had no reaction. About a week later he suddenly turned his head to look at the elephant and the giraffe on the wall when the question was asked. Looks like he’s catching up with his sister.
Both babies have been babbling a lot. The babbles are all the generic dada, mama, baba, wawa, and a bunch of vowels all mixed together. I do think that Bunny has her “words”, or strings of sounds to which she has assigned meanings. Whenever she is hungry, she says “Mehhhhh” in desperation. She says the same consonant and vowel combination when she sees us eat and wants some of our food. The other day she looked at Bob’s water cup and said “Waaaaa”. Both kids actually call out “Mamama” or just “Maaaaaaa” in desperation especially in the middle of the night when they wake up and only want me. I don’t know if I’d count those as a real “mama” as I don’t know if they were just yelling in desperation or truly did know the sounds meant me, their mom.
Until one day. I was swiffering while speaking on the phone. Bunny was standing in her baby jail holding onto the bars and staring at my actions intently. I continued talking while cleaning the floor. Suddenly, she looked me in my eyes, said “Mama”, and then gave me the biggest beaming smile ever. She called me “Mama”! Intentionally! For the first time! I was in shock and immediately told the person on the other line, my close friend and former coworker who is also a speech language pathologist, how amazing it was that Bunny all of a sudden called me while not being desperate for something.
This exciting new development makes my heart sing. The babies clearly know who their mother is and are attached to me. But to hear my own child call me “mama” for the first time for real is out of this world amazing. It doesn’t erase all the pains from the long infertility struggles but it does help me to focus on my blessings especially during those recent crazy, tiring, sleepless, teething nights when both babies cry for their mama.
I can’t wait for them to talk!
The babies are 10 months now. Time just goes by so fast. Okra, my very sweet boy, used to be the champion formula drinker. After starting solids, his formula intake has tanked and he has also been experiencing constipation problems. We only feed him food that would help move things along but poor baby boy has visibly slimmed down and hasn’t gained any weight. He’s still heavy and still kind of chunky but it is not like before. On the other hand, Bunny who used to have problems with her formula all of a sudden took an interest in her bottles. For many days in a row her daily intake surpasses Okra’s. Despite being active all day long, her cheeks started to expand and her thighs are stronger and thicker. She feels much heavier to lift these days. I don’t carry the two of them at the same time anymore, but dad does. Here are the three of them:
Sometimes I’m just glad that I could stand back without having to hold anyone heavy. Hahahaha.
Instead of Bunny, my baby girl should’ve been nicknamed Monkey. She has proven herself to be the active one ever since she was a tiny baby. Now that she can crawl, stand, and cruise, it is even more evident how physically strong she is. Just a week ago, I found her half hanging on her brother’s highchair kneeling while being strapped in her own. These are the Ikea highchairs that have the waist belt only. Needless to say, I was half scared to death and was determined to put her in a highchair with a five point harness. Fortunately someone in my parents of multiples group posted these two very old but very functional highchairs up for grabs. They have five point harnesses and can also be folded and put away. The timing was just perfect and nobody had claimed them yet. Bunny now definitely has no way to escape from her new old highchair unless she knows how to push the middle button to unbuckle herself. So far, the only safe places to leave the twins are their cribs, the pack n play, and the baby jail (play yard) in the living room. However, two days ago Bunny showed us what she is capable of. When I was tending to her brother, she was standing in the corner of her crib. Suddenly, I found her hanging half of her upper body with her armpits over the top of the crib corner. Her legs and her feet were wrapping around the slats about half way up the crib. I was too stunned to even take a photo. We hurried her down but she did it at least one more time. Then yesterday, this happened :
Bunny figured out a way to climb up the pack n play half way as well. She is only 9 months old. I have seen friends with babies that are climbers. I just never thought that we’d have one in the house. And I would’ve never guessed that baby girl would be the one. I shudder to think about what lies ahead of me when she is even stronger. She is just so resourceful and her upper body strength and core strength are tremendous. One of the moms in my moms of twins group asked if Bob and I were climbers when we were babies. I was taken aback a little by this question. I haven’t told anyone in this group about donor eggs. And I don’t know if I will. But I totally felt like a fraud when she asked that question. Bob said, just answer the question directly and nothing else. Nope neither one of us was a climber, which is the truth. At these moments, I do think about our donor who was a soccer player and a coach. I believe Bunny inherited her physical agility. I’m proud of my little girl and her determination. You watch her eyes and you see that her brain is working on solving the problems. When she wants to reach something, she’ll do everything to figure it out. I too have that kind of determination but at these moments I can’t help but think that her tenacity (and physicality) was not contributed by my DNA. It does make me a little sad. But at the same time it is so exciting to see her learn and become more and more her own person. I feel so honored and privileged to be the mother of this amazing little girl. I can’t wait to see how she’ll turn out. And I definitely see gymnastics class in the future. I just hope that ER visits won’t be a part of our life.
Our 9-month-olds can now crawl and cruise while holding on furniture. We are in the middle of hiring a handyman to mount the fences and the gates. The one fence that we purchased was to fence off the fireplace and the TV. We hadn’t mounted the fence because I prefer to use screws longer than the ones provided in the box. Bunny, who started crawling first, repeatedly crawled over to the fence and shake it. She has the talent of going to all the forbidden places, turning around with a grin, and giving you a glance to see if you are watching her. I got so tired of removing her from that fence over and over again. One day I had enough of it and converted the fence into a play yard. It has enough room for both babies and two adults plus a bunch of toy to be in it. The babies like the play yard okay. However, once the novelty wore off, they started protesting when we put them in and would arch their backs and try to hang on to you. Some days they are good and stay in the baby jail for a while playing by themselves. However, it has become a little dangerous for Okra, our baby boy, when he is left in there with his sister. Bunny never stops. She is ALWAYS on the go. The two of them have started taking each other’s toys about a month or two ago. That is fine. They will learn to sort it out. Bunny usually wins, but sometimes Okra wins too. But, Bunny is a little aggressive with her play recently. While in the baby jail, she’d crawl behind Okra, take his shirt from the back or hold onto his shoulders, and shake him semi-violently. He hates it and would start crying for help. She also grabs his hair at times and puts her hands on his face. He sometimes fights back but most of the time just looks so helpless with his sister being so rough with him. She also sometimes pins him on the floor and put her whole weight on him. I had been waiting for them to play together and to witness their twin love. I didn’t expect to see one beating up the other and I definitely didn’t expect to see Bunny being the aggressor. I intervene and try to teach Bunny when it becomes dangerous but I think letting them sort it out is better. I hope that my poor baby boy will learn to fend for himself one day so I don’t have to always separate the two of them out. And I hope that as my baby girl matures she knows and understands that this is not a nice way to play. I can already see trouble coming in the future……