From “I’ve got this” to “I have no idea what I’m doing”

Thanks to the commenters and readers of my last post. It sounds like this 11/12 month old stage really can be a doozy and yes, I’m in survival mode again.

Piggy-backing on my thoughts last time, I’m just finding it funny how a few months ago, I really thought I had this 24/7 parenting thing down pat. It’s hard to know if my mental toolbox of ideas has run dry because I have twins, because I’m with them all day, every day, or because I’m not good at replenishing it, and that’s just the kind of mother I am.

But I do know that I’ve started reacting in ways to my babies’ meltdowns that I didn’t think I would – with an almost numb quality. And by babies’ meltdowns, I’m talking about B. Right now C is my golden child (and yes, it’s now switched between them about 4 times since they were born). She reads books, she wants to learn about things, she plays with toys quietly and easily. She has dislikes and opinions, but I know what they are and I set her up for success. I try to do the same for B. He’s biting now. With purpose. He was frustrated today and he bit my leg. And then tonight, my shoulder as he came in from a hug (so not sure this one was about anger). But he bites and it really hurts. And C, she just learned where my teeth are, so now she’s shoving her fingers in B’s mouth to find his teeth and getting bit, hard. And not learning her lesson, and doing it again.

B’s meltdowns come mostly going into the car seat, stroller, or high chair. The changing table I can get past if I sing a rousing rendition of “The wheels on the bus” and hand him some random object he shouldn’t have. But those other times… I find myself not knowing what else I can do, besides wait. Should I do a song and dance routine every time he throws back his body? Maybe if he were my only child and I could concentrate just on him. But I can’t – and so I wait a few seconds, hold him in place, and then he gives up the fight and sits down. And after I hand him the toy he’s dropped on the floor of a public place for the 5th time, because if it’s the only thing that keeps him happy,  I wonder how differently I’m doing things now than I did a few months ago. What I’m seeing is that my patience level isn’t as high as I’d like it to be. I don’t want to run out of patience – once in a while, sure, but not every day. Again, I ask myself if I’m running out of patience because I have twins, because B is at a difficult stage right now, or because I’m just not the kind of mother who has a lot of patience, even though I REALLY want to be that mother. Maybe being at home with the babies 24/7 is the culprit – not that I’m taking that one for granted either, because I’m going back to work full time in September and I don’t regret this decision to stay home even for a minute.

I don’t yell or anything like that –  I’m still overly in love with these babies and I don’t take it for granted. But a few months ago, I used to use a sweet sing-song voice, “Oh, I’m sorry you’re sad. Let’s fix it.” And now it’s, “Mommy is tired and ran out of tricks. Sit down.”

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IMG_6836But he’s just so cute! He’s got a devilish grin and his personality is really taking off.

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The “easy” baby at the moment. Still feisty though, she’s learned “no” from who knows where, but instead says, “Nah” – repeatedly.

 

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As they approach their first birthday, I think every day about their birth and how far we have all come. Life is good, I just wish I had a little more patience.

 

Who said “The first year is the hardest”?

Has anyone else been told that before, besides me? I’ve also heard, “It gets easier.”

When? When exactly does it get easier? I’m pretty sure it’s not the 11th month. If the first year is the hardest, does that mean I’ve got 2.5 weeks to go until hard turns to easy? No? I didn’t think so. Liars.

I am SO behind on blogging. And reading people’s blogs. In fact, I’ve got about 49 unread emails of your blogs to go through, and I don’t delete them because I want to remember to go back and read them, and then I don’t, and they build up. I want to blog. I finally pushed other things out of the way tonight to do it, when there are 5,000 things I need to be doing. But it just feels good, especially because the blogging community is so lovely.

In my last post, I believe I wondered whether or not I’d have crawlers and walkers in my next post. And in fact, I do. This is VERY recent – C just crawled for the first time two days ago, and not to be outdone, B took his first steps by himself yesterday, just one day later. B never crawled, scooted, slid, etc. He went right to walking from sitting down. I have videos of both events – I missed C’s crawling and my husband missed B’s walking, but at least the other parent was present to take the video. And we are very excited for our babies taking these independent steps. It means that B is a happy little guy, not nearly as frustrated as he used to be. And less frustration means less screaming. So that’s a win win right there. C – she was content NOT to crawl (probably explaining why she did it so late), and now she’s just content to crawl if necessary. One thing the baby books don’t tell you though – after a baby learns to crawl or walk, they aren’t exactly GOOD at it.

I guess that’s common sense. A lot of people say things like, “Oh, once my baby learned to walk/crawl he just took off! Get those gates out!” Except – no. That’s not what happened, at least for us. C crawled that one time, and she’s sort of done it two or three times since. B – he DOES want to walk, but he can’t, he sucks at it. Really, really sucks. He falls every two seconds and takes about three steps before he gives up and just lets himself crash. Except I’m there to catch him, of course.

And everyone said, “Don’t wish for your babies to crawl/walk. Enjoy them not moving around on their own while you can.” And I thought they said that because they (whoever “they” are) wanted to soak up the little tiny baby stage and would be sad when that went away. And I disagreed, because my babies were upset and crying due to their lack of independence. But now, now I realize it’s because when they learn how to move, that’s all they want to do, but they’re terrible at it and you have to watch them every second of the day. And this – this is a challenge with more than one baby. How do you do it with two?

If I could lay out the hardest, most challenging months of this past year, they would be birth-4 months to start. Nothing is worse than lack of sleep. You become a disoriented hot mess. I swore back in those days nothing would ever be so tough as that stage then with the lack of sleep and around the clock feedings. That is partially true. Then months 5-9 were an absolute BREEZE. The babies were fun, they laughed, they learned to eat solids, they sat by themselves. And sat. And sat. They played with toys, they were content. I took them out, showed them off, and plunked them down for one million pictures. I felt a little supermom-ish, like I had it all figured out. Which I did, for that stage in their lives. But months 10, and now especially 11, wow. Almost as challenging as when they were born! Yes, they sleep through the night. Thankfully. But it’s back to that time again where I eat my lunch in 5 seconds flat, while juggling one baby on my hip who is reaching for things she can’t have and laying down the other on the floor because he is throwing his head back in an all-out temper tantrum. Another thing you don’t read in baby books – babies start to act like TODDLERS before they are toddlers. My twins love each other; there are many kisses that go around. But when they aren’t laughing and giggling at each other, they’re screaming and fighting. B wants any toy or book C has and when he takes it, C starts screaming. If I give it back to her, or if B misses his target, he starts swinging his arms and throwing a tantrum. When C plays with certain toys, she doesn’t want B anywhere near her and shrieks if he comes close. I have to split them up and sit between them when they play! Is this NORMAL?

As you can tell, I’m finding this stage very draining. They are so adorable, they’re learning every minute and you can see the wheels turning as they process new things. But they can’t be left alone for a minute. Even if they’re safe – if I put them both in a large pack n play in the kitchen to play with some toys, they’re safe, but they’re fighting. And biting. When we’re on the floor in the living room, C wants to stand up at the waterless water table and practice her twerking, and B wants to walk. He won’t sit, he won’t lay down, it’s walk or bust. But of course, he can’t do it on his own and I can’t leave C standing up for long. One of them seems to be upset all the time, and it just rotates, who I can please and who I can’t. And of course, I try to please both as often as possible.

A lot of this comes down to “free play” time. We have a lot of toys and books but the babies do get bored after a while. We all need some structure. So we go out every single day, to play groups or to run errands or visit friends. It really helps cut down on the fighting over toys and it gives the babies new experiences. The downside is that I can’t even try to clean the house, prep dinner, or do laundry. Our house is falling apart. I just had to tell a new friend as we were setting up playdates that my house isn’t….playdate material. She was so forgiving and offered her house instead but really, how completely embarrassing. She wouldn’t judge me for it, but I don’t want a new friend and her little baby coming into my crazy house with all the clutter, the small rooms and the hyper dogs who don’t get enough exercise. And the LACK OF CENTRAL AIR.  I want to be more “put together”, and I want my house to do the same. Neither are happening right now. This twin almost-toddler thing is giving me a run for my money.

So that’s where I’ve been the past few weeks. Survival mode, again.

I won’t keep this post too long, but there have been wonderful, amazing things too. The crawling/walking was huge for both of them. But I’m finding the other, non-physical milestones much more fascinating. They are LEARNING. It’s sign-language time, first of all. They both have one sign, “All done”. I mean, after almost 6 months of doing that one, plus “more” and “eat” – it’s about time they got at least one. But they know it, they do it properly and it’s cute. Then, when they started copying me, I realized, this is prime time for learning. So I’ve tried to do what I can to teach them everything they want to know, and repeat it multiple times.

C has 1.5 words – “Duck” was her first (wasn’t that the same for you, Sparrow?) and “cat”, though it’s more like “dat”. I’m impressed with the “t” though. She and B also do the “d” sound appropriately for dogs. C loves books and cries when you stop reading them. She points, looks at you, wants to know. She can identify and find her toes and her hair, which is pretty cool. She can find my teeth as well. She claps her hands, she makes fish lips, both when asked.  B is fascinated with ceiling fans so I had to quickly make up a sign for fan before I had time to look it up, and after just one day, he’s starting to do it.  He waves, but in the wrong direction, so he’s actually saying “come here” instead of “hi”. He shakes his head no when you do. He put his ear to his shoulder when you do. He’s totally copying everything. He finally learned to feed himself his solids, which cut down on the mealtime screaming. They know nursery rhymes. They point. I count and recite the alphabet constantly – they’re a little young, but you never know what they’re taking in. It really is a fun age and it’s amazing to know that NOW is when the learning really takes off. NOW we have such a big impact on them. I wish that I could spend more time teaching them to meet their individual needs. One year is coming up real quick, and though it’s taken a long time, the milestones are really taking off.

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Tis the season

Okay everyone, finally some progress is being made over in this house. But first, let me direct you towards this totally well-written, completely true blog post that I found via Facebook. Has anyone else seen this? Kristen talks about the “season” when babies are small.  The season when you as a parent don’t have time for a social life, and you don’t connect with your friends like you want to, because your children are at a stage where they need you all the time. And it’s depressing sometimes, and you feel lonely. And you wonder if you’ll ever socialize again and connect with adults. She mentions going to Target just to talk with an adult (done that, and then some. Costco, The Dollar Store, the library…anywhere). But then she talks about the things that your babies are doing that fill that void – laughing with you, singing songs, playing games…it’s just so true. And so well written. So if you’re in need of a reminder why you are the mother of your kids, and why that job is so crucial right in this moment, read that post. It’s that good.

I think those who struggle with infertility know this even more than others – to appreciate the little moments. I have known this, and I try to think about it as often as I can. When B is thrashing his legs around like he’s being stung by 50 bees when in fact I’m only changing his diaper – I think about it. Or when (today) I go to check B’s diaper only to accidentally stick my hand in 5 inches of poop, and then having to lay him on the ground one-handed and pick up C off the couch and onto the ground so she doesn’t fall while I go scrub the poop off my hands and they both scream bloody murder because it happened so fast and they don’t know why I’m running out of the room – I think about it. What do I think about? My happy place is B rubbing his nose on my shirt back and forth when he’s getting sleepy, his closed-mouth kisses and how completely delicious he smells (from the waist up, at least). Or C’s huge grin, her giggles, her satisfaction at looking at a picture of herself and her brother right before she goes down for a nap, and curling her fingers around my shoulder as she snuggles in. I don’t know. I definitely have bad hours, bad sections of my day sometimes (that mid-afternoon time slot is a doozy), and those first few months of the babies’ lives were completely insane, but it makes me emotional even thinking about how someday I will miss this and ache to have it again. Will I miss it that much? Maybe, but for the sake of my happiness I sure hope there’s something my kids are doing that can kind of replace it. I don’t always want to miss something, that’s a depressing way for me to live. But just in case, I do try to think and enjoy and snuggle and sniff.

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Anyway. I just really liked that blog post.

Moving on. Coincidentally, I’ve been kind of anxiously waiting for my babies to reach some physical milestones. And generally the reason is because they are 1) large and 2) frustrated with sitting and playing with toys. They want to get up and dance (twerking was invented by babies, apparently) and reach and stretch. So while we’re not totally there yet, major progress is being made. Here’s their almost-11 month old update:

B: B’s physical development has gone from 0-60 in the last week or so. It came out of nowhere. Now, he’s about 27 pounds or so I’m guessing, no longer content to sit at ALL (I knew that day would come, thank goodness I took so many good pictures while he was still cooperating!) and it started when he wanted to hold onto the pole of C’s jumper-thing.

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And then he wanted to stand up at this toy:

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But then he started getting fussy and I realized it was because he was “stuck”. But he didn’t want to sit down. So I got out the water table and set up a little obstacle course in the living room and to make a long story short – in the span of a week he has suddenly learned how to 1) pull up on the furniture from a sitting position, 2) go completely hands-free for a few seconds and 3) cruise the furniture.

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This new freedom of his makes life certainly more interesting. I ran to the bathroom quickly today while he was sitting on the ground. When I came back 2 minutes later not only did he stand up at the water table but he cruised around the whole thing and was at the end of couch by the time I got there. He can turn around, switch hands and balance decently. As far as I know, the next step for him would be walking. But he doesn’t know how to use one of those push toys, and his steps are not smooth at all when he’s holding our hands. So he’s not ready to actually walk. But wow, the progress was huge. He’s a happier baby already. Interestingly enough, he never crawled. He never even came CLOSE to crawling. And not just a regular, pretty crawl. There was no scooting, no army crawl, no butt crawl – no movement whatsoever. But here we are. I don’t know how long it’ll take him to reach that big milestone, so we’ll see what happens.

He’s still very grumpy during meal times, maybe because of his lack of independence there. But he’s not showing any interest in wanting to hold his own sippy cup or feed himself his finger foods. He plays with them, he swings his hands back and forth and pushes ALL the food onto the floor, all while screaming because I’m not putting the pieces in his mouth fast enough. So I’m not sure where to go on that front. I’m hoping he just takes an interest to it one day. I’m happy he easily transitioned off the bottle though. He’s in 18 month clothes now and I’m not buying anything more in that size. He has 7 teeth that all came in between March and May. And just in the last few days he has gotten the hang of “Soooo big” and finally  – a wave! He’s just copying us of course, but it’s a start. There’s some understanding going on in that head of his. Today I noticed he clapped, but not purposely. But now that I know he can clap, I need to start teaching it. He’s a very strong-willed baby. If he wants something, he goes after it as best as he can, even if it’s the dog’s paws or a toy in C’s mouth. He wants what he wants. If I intervene, he’s not happy about it. So it’s constantly redirect, redirect. He laughs hard, often. He grins to show off his teeth, scrunches his nose, he’s fascinated by his own hands – he’s very funny. He’s funny to watch, when he’s in a good mood.

DSC_0388C keeps showing me that she wants to crawl. In the span of a week about 3 weeks ago, she perfected rolling and ALMOST crawling. She gets onto her stomach from a sitting position, she gets on all fours, she rocks back and forth…but that’s it.

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I’m hoping she figures it out soon. She has been watching her brother, though and in the past few days she wants to stand where he’s standing, she wants to hold onto things. She can’t pull up on furniture and her feet are like cemented into the ground – she has no idea how to move them. But there hasn’t been too much crawling practice recently because she wants to stand like B.

IMG_6166One day, about a week ago, she decided to put food into her mouth once, then twice, and by the next day she was ready to feed herself completely, given the right food. For her, that was chopped string cheese. And she hasn’t looked back. She has the pincer grasp down, she eats off the tips of her fingers – if the food is in her hands, she figures out how to eat it. Slippery banana and avocado – no problem. She has favorites for sure (unlike B who just devours everything) and they are currently banana and avocado, cheese and peas. She happily ate squash for breakfast today, but turned her nose up at plain white potato and wasn’t crazy about the chicken I had dunked in pureed apples and cinnamon for lunch. So great – she’s already being picky. C has also mastered the sippy cup (no straw yet), and can tilt it back and everything. Unfortunately, she only wants to drink water out of it and not her milk. I have a feeling that might not change until they are weaned off formula and her solids become the main event, not the formula.

C is fascinated with her world. She has a new love of books, of faces, of babies, puppies, even the smiling sun on her sunscreen bottle. She points now, at eyes, at mouths. She leans in to give all of these faces a kiss, whether in a book or if it’s a real person. She kisses about 150 times a day. It’s constant. I have caught her “flipping’ through a book, only to find the page with the dog, and she kisses the page and laughs. She could sit happily in my lap and read the same book 80 times without stopping. I imagine she just loves when we talk to her, show her things, point things out. That’s her favorite.

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IMG_6071I love the pointing. She’s extremely social, constantly chattering, giggling, etc. She lets you know when she’s bored or needs a change of activity. She’s basically happy when there are people around. It’s human interactions that really make her who she is right now. Luckily, she loves her brother and they have a ball laughing together. That is, before B claws her face off trying to take her toy.

She’s still a ham for the camera, posing for me, making taking pictures of her very easy. She loves new experiences. She loves to feel the grass, a breeze in her face, a dog’s kisses, etc. She’s a very happy baby, contrary to her newborn days of reflux, when she was a crying nightmare all day long. She’s got her two bottom teeth so far and she’s about 24 pounds, in 12 month clothes.

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I feel like I have toddlers. And really, I almost do. Their first birthday is next month. Totally crazy, but also totally awesome.

That was one long update, people. Next time I write one, maybe I’ll have crawlers/walkers. Who knows?

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