Monday, April 28, 2014

Survival

Most days I consider it a complete success if we are all still alive by bedtime. Forget having hair done, teeth brushed, or clothes on. Just stay alive. At least that's what I thought, way back then.. a few weeks ago when I was so inexperienced. So immature. So carefree.

Last week (plus a few days) Forrest came down with a pretty serious tooth ache. Yes, I said tooth ache. A measley old pain in his mouth. After a few dentist appointments, he started swelling up. A lot. I mean A LOT a lot. The kind of swelling that made it look like he had a baseball in his cheek. Poor guy. He saw some specialists and had a root canal done. We thought that would fix it. Ha! Like I said, we were immature and inexperienced back then. He went back to the specialist every other day for a while to get it checked out. Still no improvement. Then on Saturday morning it got pretty bad, so he woke up and called his brother to take him to the ER. How I wish I could have gone with him - but someone had to stay home with the twins. 

I was a nervous wreck while he was gone. He couldn't really talk because it was difficult to open his mouth, so he was texting me all the while telling me what the doctors were saying. Basically, the oral surgeon came in, took one look at him, and told him he was about a hair away from this becoming a life threatening situation. Seriously?! From a tooth. Life threatening. Ya I was terrified.

They debated over whether or not to keep him in the hospital over the weekend until he could have surgery Monday morning (today), but the doctor felt comfortable enough to send him home with in-home health care for the weekend. Believe it or not, that's a little bit cheaper than staying in the hospital. So he came home on Saturday afternoon with a nurse and a bunch of IV equipment in tow. The nurse taught me how to administer the antibiotic via the IV every 8 hours, and then left us to it. Seriously, we looked (and still do) like a pharmacy. Between the IV, equipment, pain killers, antibiotics, anti-nausea meds... it's crazy. 

Poor guy hasn't had a real meal in over a week. Everything he consumes is through a straw. Soup, cream of wheat, pudding, ice cream, and smoothies. That's about it. So the four of us have basically camped out in our bedroom or the living room all week. I moved the twins' high chairs into the living room so that during meal time I could care for all 3 at once. Feeding them hasn't been too different though.. I puree everything for the twins, so now I just make an extra serving of whatever they're eating and give it to Forrest with a straw. For some reason he refused to eat tonight's dinner or pureed chicken and green beans though... weird.

This morning he was able to go in to get his tooth surgically removed and get some of the infection drained out. He was in a lot of pain afterward but I think the swelling is actually going down some. The oral surgeon is hopeful that he will be all healed up, infection free and ready for an implant in the next two weeks. Fingers crossed! 

During all of this we have been so blessed to have such wonderful family and a fantastic ward who have helped with babysitting, providing meals, and coming to lend a hand around the house. Basically we have the best family and friends ever. And I have learned what it is really like to be in survival mode. At least, for me. (I know many people go through much, much worse.) So what will I do with my newfound experience and maturity, you ask? Be grateful for the days when I only have two little people who are completely dependent on me. And always always always go to the dentist at the first sign of a toothache.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Weekend-ends

I think I speak for most people when I say I live for the weekends. I mean, I really do love that I get to stay home with Charlie and Caroline. They keep me smiling and make me so happy. So our weekdays really aren't bad. But oh man. The weekends are bliss. Usually Forrest gets off early on Friday night (like 6:00ish) so he's able to be home to help me feed the kids, get them bathed and in bed. Then after they're asleep we usually try to go on a date. Often Forrest's brothers and/or mom will come over and watch TV while the kids sleep, and we go out to dinner/movie/temple/shopping.. whatever we want to do with our baby-free hours. If we don't go out then we play games, watch movies and eat popcorn and ice cream from home. Every single Friday night we talk about how tired we both are and how we really need to get to bed early. And every single Friday night we get to bed sometime after midnight. Then Saturdays Forrest usually has to work, so I take the kids and go to my mom's house. Those days are like a breath of fresh air for my sanity. My mom, dad and sisters are so amazing. Really honestly and truly AMAZING. When I am there, and adults finally outnumber babies.. words cannot describe the relief that it is. My mom and dad are so willing and happy to hold the babies, crying or not. And my sister steps right in to help feed them, change diapers, and entertain (with the help of her darling 4-year-old). Of course I wish I could spend Saturdays with Forrest. But when I can't, spending them at my mom's house with my family is ideal. They help me get the kids bathed, lotioned and jammied, and then they sleep in the car while we drive home for the night. Sundays we get up about 7 and go to church at 9. Forrest does his best to not have to work on Sundays, so after church we usually go to one of the grandma's houses for lunch. Then come home and have a quiet evening together before the craziness of the following week ensues. Those Sunday evenings - the weekend-ends - are the hardest. Because I know what's coming. I know that those lovely 2 1/2 days of family togetherness and help with the twins is over. And lying ahead I have 5 days of being outnumbered. Five nights of dinner, bath and bed all on my own. Like I said earlier, I really do love it. But it's hard.

When the kids were younger and still waking up to eat in the night, the weekends were a break that I desperately needed. Forrest would wake up to help me, and that made things so much easier. I remember holding back the tears when I went to bed every Sunday night, just thinking about doing it all on my own again. Another 5 days and 5 nights all on me. 

Things are much better now. The evenings aren't nearly so hard. And it's a little easier to take the kids out during the week. We take frequent walks, mid-week trips to Heber to be with family, and occasionally go out to do some shopping. So the weeks are much easier to handle. But the weekend-ends are still hard. I am so looking forward to the day when Forrest will be home by 5:00. Hoping it comes soon!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Balancing Act

When I first found out I was having twins, I had a few fears. Okay let's be honest - I had 9,536,789+ fears. But only a few of them apply to today's post. 1) I was utterly TERRIFIED that I would not be able to tell them apart (this was before I knew they were different genders). 2) I was afraid I would bond with one more than the other. 3) I was afraid I would have a favorite.

I know... now they sound much sillier than they did at the time. When they were first born, Forrest and I discussed some of these fears (obviously no issue with telling them apart.. but the other ones still applied). And truthfully, in the first few days and weeks I think we both felt partial to one of our babies. Ironically, Forrest bonded more quickly with Caroline and I with Charlie. When they were 3 days old in the hospital, the photographers came and took some pictures of them, then showed them to us in a slideshow. When I saw the pictures of Charlie, so tiny and pale with his bright white hair.. I couldn't hold back the tears. And for some reason, Caroline's pictures didn't affect me that way. Don't get me wrong: I loved her immensely. Every bit as much as I loved her brother. But I think from that moment, I knew Charlie was different. Special. And I immediately felt defensive. Like I thought some people might not see him to be as handsome and absolutely perfect as I knew he was. I felt a need to protect him, and I think that's what bonded me so closely to him in that instant.

 

Charlie and Caroline in the hospital - 3 days old
 
Of course later on, I grew equally close to Caroline as I learned her fiesty little personality. And the same with Forrest and Charlie. I love them both more than words can possibly express. Not one more than the other. Equally. 

Now my fears are a little different. I certainly don't have a favorite and I don't worry about that so much anymore. What I do find to be difficult is interacting equally with each child. When they were young and didn't move/play/interact much, our play time was simple. I would lay a blanket down on the ground and read them a story, or sing songs to them, or pull faces at them.. or whatever I did, at both of them. Together. Equal time, same activities. Equal. They would go through little phases where Caroline would be more interactive so she might get more attention, or Charlie would be a little more needy so he would get held more often. But for the most part our activities were done together.

Then, overnight (or so it seems), they grew up. They started crawling and kneeling and jabbering and grabbing and laughing.. I tried to keep things as similar as possible. While one baby played on the ground, I would pick up the other one and play with them. Then I would put them down and do the same activity with the other baby. But I quickly learned that they are different children. They like different things. From the time he was just little, Charlie loved to rough-house. He loved (and still does) to bounce, swing, rock, drop, be thrown, be tickled.. all of those fun things. He laughs more than anyone that I know. On the other hand, Caroline likes to sit back and watch. She does not enjoy bouncing or swinging or being thrown. She likes it when you make funny faces, sing funny songs, dance, or do funny things that she can see. So there goes my plan for doing the same activities with each of them. Instead I've tried to spend equal amounts of time. So however much time I spend swinging/bouncing/throwing/tickling Charlie, I spend singing/dancing/pulling faces at Caroline. Of course they still have days where one needs more attention than the other. But most of the time my plan works great. I love their playtime so much. There's nothing better than making a baby laugh!

 
This video was taken about 3 months ago. It's still one of my favorites of little Charlie's laugh. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How Great Thou Art

Happy Easter everybody! This is one of my favorite holidays. When I was little I fondly remember waking up and joining the commotion of all my sisters running around and searching for our hidden Easter baskets. And the frustration at finding every basket but your own. I remember baskets hidden in the dryer, in drawers and cupboards, up on top of the grandfather clock, and in the bathtub. After the morning search we would all get dressed in our best (sometimes new) Easter dresses and head off to church. At church we would hear prepared lessons and talks on Jesus Christ, our Savior. We would sing songs of Him, take the sacrament in remembrance of Him, and spend the time worshipping Him. Three hours later we would head home (probably walking while my dad either talked or had meetings) and have the perfect Easter lunch: ham, potato salad, rolls, jello and salad. Yum! My grandparents would always come and join us for lunch and the much anticipated Easter egg hunt. Aaah!! So much excitement for a little body to handle. After lunch, we (all the girls) would have to wait inside while my older sisters made sure we didn't peek out the windows. Meanwhile my parents and grandparents would head outside and hide all the loot. It seemed like it would take them hours to get everything ready, though I'm sure it was only 15 or 20 minutes. Then we would all line up youngest to oldest with our Easter baskets and then run out the door at full speed and get hunting. Ashley "won" every year without question. She was ruthless. Whatever direction she went, we all went the other way because there was no beating her. In the end we would all have our baskets filled with toys, candy, maybe a few coins and possibly some clothes. We'd sit on the lawn and sort through our goodies, and my mom would always make Ashley share some of her finds with the rest of us. That afternoon and evening was always filled with joy and contentment, spending time out in the sun and the warmth of the new spring and playing together as a family with our new treasures. The family time that I remember and cherish is one of the reasons that Easter has such a special place in my heart.

                         Charlie and Caroline all ready to celebrate this Easter!

As I get older, holidays have changed. The magic of finding hidden baskets and Easter egg hunts is not the same as it used to be. Now I find much more joy in the reason behind the holiday - in this case, Christ and the miracle of His resurrection. As we sat in church today, we sang the hymn "How Great Thou Art." Nearly 4 years ago my sisters and I sang this song at my grandmother's funeral. I couldn't get through it without tears flowing then, and I can't do it now. Particularly the last verse, "When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, and bring me home, what joy shall fill my heart." In the midst of my sorrow, it brought me so much peace to think of Grams running joyfully to meet our Savior. She was such an amazing woman and I have no doubt that she is now reunited with her loving parents and watching down on us from above. 

Celebrating Easter now brings me so much hope and joy. The miracle of Christ's resurrection - that He lived a perfect life, and was persecuted more that we can possibly ever fathom. That He suffered for me, for all of us, in Gethsemane so that our sins could be forgiven. And that He died on the cross, only to rise again three days later and be the example to the world that we all will live again. That death on this earth is not final. Because of Him, I know that I will see my grandmother again. Because of Him, I know that I can spend eternity with my beautiful family. Because of Him, we can all be forgiven of our sins. We can have a fresh start and the mistakes of our past can be washed away. I love Easter because it reminds me of this. Happiest of Easters to all of you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

To Swaddle or Not to Swaddle



Swaddling new babies seems to be quite popular lately. I was given a few swaddlers as hand-me-downs, for showers, and even got a couple from the hospital. My twins were both swaddled the whole time in the hospital, but I didn't really plan on swaddling them for very long. Caroline really liked it though, and she seemed to sleep much better when she was swaddled up tight. Charlie did not like it, so he slept without one. Then when he was about six weeks old and he was crying uncontrollably and could not be soothed, I went through the list. Clean diaper, check. Fed, check. Grip water, check. Still crying and not wanting to sleep. So I decided to try swaddling. He was sawing logs within 30 seconds of being swaddled and placed in his crib. So from that time on, he was swaddled to. They both spent nearly every nap and night-time in their swaddlers. And they slept fantastically. It even got to the point where I would swaddle them when they were going in their car seats because they would sleep so much better (there were holes in the swaddler so I could still buckle them in fully - they were not going anywhere). We swaddled them both until they were about 4 months old. We stopped because Charlie started rolling over in his sleep, still swaddled. And being swaddled when you're on your tummy does not seem safe. Or comfortable.

We stopped cold-turkey. It was miserable. I thought Charlie would have the hardest time because he seemed to be the most dependent on it. But he did great. The day we stopped he went right down for naps and had no problems. Caroline, on the other hand.. She did not adjust well. I think that first day she probably cried for about 6 hours. Not even kidding. I finally put her in the car to take her to the store with me because she ALWAYS falls asleep in the car. Always. But this time she didn't. She sat there in her car seat the entire time with eyes red and teary as could be. So over-tired that she just couldn't relax enough to fall asleep. Poor girl! The next day was still rough, but significantly better, and by day 3 we were rid of swaddling all together. It was such a huge relief. I'd been trying to stop swaddling for quite a while but hadn't figured out quite how to do it. It was hard, but cold-turkey worked well for us. (Where does that term even come from? Cold turkey?? Weird.)

Even though swaddling did help the twins sleep better when they were little, there were some bad things about it too. It became quite stressful having them break out of their swaddlers and wake themselves up, not be able to nap anywhere unless they had a swaddle with them, unswaddling/reswaddling to change diapers in the middle of the night, constantly worrying about them rolling over.. and you never get to see their darling little jammies! Also I've heard recently that improper swaddling can lead to hip problems. You can read about that here. So my opinion - there are good things that came from swaddling. It worked miracles on Charlie's sleeping when he was so small. But I don't think I will swaddle my next child.

Monday, April 14, 2014

And Then There Were 3

So I haven't blogged in a while. And the following is why. Last week I had a super fun experience getting a little taste of what life would be like if I had an older child in addition to the twins. My darling little 4-year-old niece came to stay with us for the week while her mom went hiking in Havasupai (I know, I'm soooo jealous! I really wanted to go, but Forrest is too busy at work and since I'm still nursing, it just wasn't practical for us. Next year for sure!). So anyway, while her mom was hiking, she came to stay with us. And we had an awesome time! She is absolutely hilarious and she kept me laughing the entire time. She's a good girl and she follows rules very well and listens to what she's supposed to do. Let me tell you though, regardless of all of that, it was EXHAUSTING!

I'm so used to having 3-4 hours of down time during the day while the twins were napping. But when you have a 4-year-old around, that down time completely disappears. (Thankfully I could turn on a movie and she would be glued to the tv for as long as I left it on. So if I really needed to, I could get some resting or housework done.) Normally while the twins nap I clean the house, do laundry, wash dishes, eat, watch tv, blog, and occasionally nap. Last week while the twins napped I played hide-and-seek outside, colored with sidewalk chalk, blew bubbles, pushed bikes and scooters up and down the sidewalk, and ran through sprinklers. It really was so much fun and it made me excited for when Charlie and Caroline are old enough to play like that! But it was also exhausting. My hat goes off to you moms who do that all day. I am 10000% grateful that the twins were my first and that I don't have older children to chase down. I know it's possible and I know plenty of moms that do it quite successfully, but man oh man.. I'm just not ready for that yet.

We had a lot of fun adventures last week, just the 4 of us. We went on walks, played at parks, played outside with all the kids for our apartment complex, and went to the zoo. We all had a great time and the twins LOVED having their cousin here! Especially Caroline. She was like a little sidekick all week. She watched her cousin take baths, stared at her from her highchair, followed her everywhere she went around the house, and literally never took her eyes off of her. It was adorable! 

So while we did have a great time and I'm so glad we had the experience, I'm very grateful for the time that I have now to rest and relax during nap time, and to only have 2 little ones to worry about for now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Schedule

When I was pregnant, I got a lot of advice on how to raise my kids. Some of it really was helpful, some not so much. Most people told me just to trust my instincts and do what felt right, which is what I would tell a new mom. I had decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to read any books on baby sleep etc. However, I had a few friends recommend Baby Wise and I was given the book to read. So I read it. And it made a lot of sense.

By nature I'm not the most structured, rule-following person. But I do like to have a plan, even if I don't strictly stick to it. I liked reading the book because I felt like it gave me a plan - something to shoot for. It wasn't always perfect, and still isn't, but by now I feel like we have a good routine down.

When the twins were newborn, I did not stick to a schedule. I was big on the routine - we always did things in the same order. Wake, eat, play, sleep. They didn't eat at the same times every day, but it was always 2-3 hours apart. Around 6 weeks I started being a little more consistent. I still didn't feed them at the same times every day, but we developed a consistent nighttime routine that seemed to help them sleep longer at night. We started doing baths at bed time, then getting them in bed at the same time every night. 

Up until that point, I had fed the babies at the same time even in the night. If one woke up to eat, I woke the other up too. But by 6 weeks, I wanted them to start sleeping longer. I let them sleep as long as they would sleep, and in the night I fed them seperately. For a few weeks, it meant that I woke up twice as often during the night, but it helped them not get into the habit of eating if they didn't need it. Then for the first morning feeding (which still wasn't at the same time everyday), I made sure to wake them up and feed them at the same time. The days when I didn't do that were some hard hard days. Those were the days when I would wake up, feed one baby, then play for about an hour and put them down for a nap. Right then, the other baby would wake, play for about an hour, then go down for a nap. Then if I was lucky, I'd have about 30 minutes of them both sleeping before the first baby would wake up again. And that would go on all day. Sometimes those days were fun because I'd get to spend more time playing individually with my kids. But generally, they were just exhausting. For that reason, it was super important to me to keep them on the same schedule! In my opinion, there's no other way.

Now that they are a little older, we are on a bit more of a schedule. A flexible one, but still a schedule. So here is the way we do things now:

7 AM (give or take a little) - wake, nurse, get dressed and eat breakfast
9-11 AM - nap
11 AM - nurse and lunch
1-3 PM - nap
4 PM - nurse
4-6 PM - usually spent in their swings in the kitchen while I cook, do laundry, make baby food, clean...whatever :) they generally take a 15-30 minute cat nap during this time
6 PM - dinner
7 PM - bath, nurse, in bed by 7:30 

Occasionally Charlie will wake up for a 3 AM feeding (especially when he's teething) but for the most part they sleep about 12 hours/night straight. I do realize that I am extremely blessed and that not all babies do this! But also, we worked really hard in the beginning to get our kids to sleep. We started sleep training when they were 6 weeks old. It was really hard to let them cry it out (reasonably), but so worth it. My theory was that I can't physically rock two babies to sleep at the same time, so I needed to be able to put them down for naps and have them fall asleep on their own. It was hard in the beginning, but it didn't take long for them to get used to it. And now they rarely cry when going down for a nap. Hooray for good sleeping babies!

I loved the flexibility of our routine when they were little. But I do have to say that I LOVE the predictability of our schedule now. It is so much easier to plan my day and know when I can go grocery shopping, go on a walk, or do whatever I need to do. And seriously, twins on the same schedule = best thing ever. Twins on opposite schedules = misery and exhaustion. Wake the sleeping baby. It is so worth it!