Miscellanea / by Martha Keyes

Nowadays most of the things I want to write down are miscellaneous thoughts from the day, so I thought I would do just that--write down some of the things I want to remember from this time of our lives.

1. Micah has acquired the most endearing high-pitched gurgle. It's most present in the early mornings as he sits in the crib and after we come get him and bring him to our room. He is so smiley on waking. Jonah, on the other hand, wakes up in a less-happy state initially, though smiles are quick to follow once he has heard our voices or seen our faces. It takes Jonah forever to open his eyes, but he smiles even while he's blinking in the morning light.

2. When Jonah was a little preemie, he would vocalize a bit while he slept if he was being held. Those vocalizations have developed into the most adorable sounds when he is tired, being bounced, or upset. We recently attempted to feed the boys formula, something they hadn't had since their hospital days, and they both hated it. Jonah told us all about his woes for about 15 minutes afterward.

3. Though it is frustrating to have to wake up both babies as often as Micah wakes, I'm  thankful that Micah is usually first to wake (sometimes 3 times before Jonah wakes on those occasions where we let Jonah continue to sleep) because he is much less quick to go nutso. Despite that, I still run around like a chicken with its head cut off to go get him, put bottles in warmer, get pumping gear on, go to bathroom, and get Jonah.

4. We have started the boys on solids. Micah likes them but is still figuring out how to get the food in his mouth. He gets frustrated but is getting much better. Every time I give them a new food for the day, they look disgusted initially. Jonah is doing well with eating and is very focused during feeding times. I know many people wait until 6 months and beyond to introduce solids. My boys were very interested in food, and I felt good about starting them at 4 months. Research is always changing and claiming different things, so I went with what felt good to me.

5. Nap time. It is my nemesis. Seven times a day with two babies. It has honestly been such a trial for me. Every day I feel so burnt out and just dread nap time because of how long it takes to get the boys down, only for them to wake 20 minutes later. I admit that I have felt jealous of moms whose babies nap an hour or two even once a day. I barely have time to shower during nap time, much less do anything else productive. 

6. Night time. Micah is back to waking every 3 hours. Jonah has slept 8 plus on occasion, though whenever Micah doesn't happen to wake after 3 hours, Jonah seems to. In big nighttime news, we also moved the boys into nursery. We first transitioned them into the crib for nap time and kept them in rock n plays at night but in the nursery. One night we tried unswaddling them. What a nightmare! We hardly slept a wink. In general, they have regressed in sleeping. Its probably a combination of teething and the 4 month sleep regression. But remember that one night they slept 8 hours? Sigh...Regardless, it has been so nice for us to have our own space back. 

7. I have officially forgotten how to sleep and relax. My inner control freak has really come out in parenting. Even on the (two) occasions when the boys sleep 8 hours, I am up multiple times for potty breaks, phantom cries, hunger, thirst, hallucinations that the boys are smothering in the blankets, etc. I just can't wind down.

8. I've been thinking recently about the market for baby items. While a lot of the stuff out there is genuinely helpful for parents of babies, I feel like the makers of many items really gouge you. Because they can. When I'm desperate for sleep, you could tell me that buying a golden rooster would help my babies sleep, and I'd do it. Parents are often willing to try anything and everything. 

9. Trying to time bedtime right has been really hard for us. It's such a balance to strike between not wanting the boys to be too tired, too hungry, not tired enough, or too recently-fed. Any of these things means bedtime is less successful. If they're too tired, they won't eat enough to last them very long. Too hungry, and they're extremely fussy and difficult. Not tired enough, they're not ready to go down. Too recently-fed, they won't eat enough, once again. Anyway, we haven't been great at striking this balance. Every day is different as far as when naps happen, so this usually means that bath is happy, but afterwards is chaotic. The beginning of bedtime routine also normally falls right when we, the parents, are hungry, as well. And hangry parents are not well-equipped to deal with bedtime.

10. This has been the funnest age yet. Many of the issues we were dealing with before have become less of an issue, and the reward of interacting with the boys is greater than it has ever been simply because of how much more they react to us. Yes, small newborns are cute and so very sweet, but I still prefer this age. Brandon and I have watched some videos from the brand newborn stage this past couple of days, and both of us agree that that time period is such a blur because of sleep deprivation. 

11. I knew that becoming a mother would bring out many of my weaknesses, and it has definitely done that (along with bringing out some of my strengths). My patience has worn so thin at naptime. It is so hard to keep my cool when I've just put down one baby for the fourth time and the other one starts crying or wakes up; or when I just can't figure out what one of the boys wants amidst all the crying. I don't know how parents of colicky twins do it. Truly. 
11. Reactions to our twins are frequent and run the gamut. The most common reaction is some form of "You sure have your hands full!" or "Do twins run in the family?" (blows my mind that this is the first thing people think to ask). Many people comment, though, on how they've always wanted twins. I wouldn't trade our boys for anything, but sometimes I just wonder if these people have ever contemplated the challenges of twin parenting. I don't know if they understand how logistically difficult even simple tasks are when you have two infants. Forget the personality differences, things like moving from one room to another require planning and preparation when you have twins. How do you burp and feed two floppy newborns, each with their own feeding issues? Think about how you would coordinate nap schedules and routines--how do you rock two babies to sleep? If you rock one at a time, what do you do with the other baby? What about the fact that twins are different people and have different sleeping needs and habits? How about grocery shopping? Most people put an infant carseat in the cart. What do you do when you have two infant carseats and still need room for groceries? How do you bathe two infants at the same time? Or what do you do with one baby while you bathe the other? What do you do when both babies are crying? Of course having twins has many blessings and joys, but it really is not for the faint of heart, and I often wish I could understand the thought process of those whose ambition is to have twins.

13. The boys have recently started doing sympathy cries, particularly during nighttime feedings. Jonah sometimes struggles during the night and cries quite a bit before he'll take his bottle. Micah is generally mostly asleep as he eats, but when he hears Jonah cry, he starts whimpering. It is super cute and kind of heartbreaking. 

14. Both boys have made some really fun discoveries lately, namely their feet and tongues. Jonah in particular is pretty obsessed with his feet. A good part of the day (anytime he's in a carseat or bouncer, especially), he has one or both feet raised in the air, admiring his little toes. It's seriously one of my favorite things ever. It never gets old. 

15. Probably 90% of the advice you receive from other twin parents is to get your babies on the same schedule (my feelings on that topic are enough for another entire post). The next most frequent piece of advice is to accept help, perhaps followed by not worrying about your house for the first 6 months. To me, it sounded like, "Just focus on your babies. Feed them, change them, bathe them, put them to sleep, sleep when they sleep, shower when you can. Nothing else." Now, I'm not trying to have my home featured on Parade of Homes by any means, but there are some things that absolutely HAVE to be done. I'm talking laundry washing and folding, dishes, bottles, showering. I am lucky if I get just those things done--forget actual home cleaning tasks like scrubbing the shower, mopping floors, etc.--but they're not really things you have a choice in. If they don't get done, life grinds to a halt until you do them at some point. 

16. The boys sure are growing and growing! Recently, it seems like almost every single person I see who has seen the boys previously comments on how they look more alike than they used to--more identical. I actually had a relative try to convince me for 5 minutes that my boys were identical. Despite what people think, the boys really ARE fraternal. If you don't believe me, just look at them when they were a week old. They are easy for us to tell apart--I think they look more alike in pictures than in real life. Some of their distinctive features are:
-Micah's eyebrows (we get so many comments on them! I wonder if he'll have eyebrows like Tom Selleck when he grows up)
-Micah's pouty bottom lip is a dead give-away for telling them apart. Jonah's lips are big and full, but they are quite different.
-Their eyes are also quite different--Jonah's are big and round, where Micah's are more slanted and wide.
-Micah has a much rounder head than Jonah. Their heads are the same size and have been since birth, but they are very different shapes.
-Micah is just bigger generally than Jonah (and has been since birth).

17. We have officially begun sleep training. I have been dreading it and secretly hoping we would magically get naturally-good sleepers like some people are blessed with, but we just got to a breaking point this past week where something had to give (with twins, you get there twice as fast). I was feeling so burnt out from putting babies down to sleep 18 or 20 times a day (yes, that's 7 naptimes, and 2+ nighttime feedings for two babies). I felt frustration with the babies, and I knew that we needed to do it for everyone's good. I felt like my parenting was really suffering (which meant the boys were suffering), so we bit the bullet and started. It is not ideal, and it is really hard emotionally, but it is a step above what was happening before. Sleep training is such a controversial topic, but I just feel so strongly that nobody understands another parent's situation well enough to judge righteously where sleep is concerned, and I feel that way even more strongly when it comes to twin parenting. If you haven't been there yourself, you really just aren't in a place to judge. The research where sleep is concerned is not cut and dry. We could sure do with a bit more support and understanding in the world of parenting and less finger shaking. I truly feel that most parents have considered many options when it comes to sleep, and they choose the least harm possible. These parents don't need people making them second-guess decisions that they have stewed and stewed over. Most of the time, when we talk of good parenting practices, we are preaching to the choir. And even if a parent chooses a sleep training option you don't agree with, the most important thing for a child is that they are in a nurturing and loving parent-child relationship which extends so far beyond how someone chooses to help their baby sleep. 

18. I have to bite my tongue when I interact with strangers in public a lot of times. But sometimes I just can't stop myself. Ever since I became pregnant with twins, some people (always people without twins) have seen fit to educate me on all things twins. The other day, an employee at a store saw us with our twins and struck up a conversation. Always always with that first question, "Do twins run in your family?" "Nope," I said. "REALLY?! So it just happened?" "Yep!" I'm not embarrassed that we went through infertility and needed help from reproductive assistance technology, but I don't feel the need to inform strangers about how our children were conceived. 

19. Can I just say that it is ridiculous how much time I have spent on the phone with insurance? It is a neverending nightmare. I have spent about 40 hours on the phone with them since the birth of the boys and been given such a runaround. We've had everything from falsified charges to rejected claims because insurance thinks they're duplicates (rather than claims for twins) to being hung up on after 30 minutes on hold and on and on and on. We canceled our insurance in February and instead signed up for a healthshare, and I feel so very relieved not to have to deal with insurance companies anymore!

20. To end on a happier note, I have been completely fascinated the past couple weeks as I watch the boys develop new skills. How amazing is it to watch a baby who has never before reached for something or grabbed something in his hands as he develops that skill before your eyes? They are so quick to learn! I see marked improvement within just a few minutes as I watch the boys reach for things and try to touch them or grab them with their fingers. It really brings me so much joy to watch them learn and grow!