Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Chris and I vowed that we would have adaptable babies and that they would follow our schedule.  So far that has worked for us, despite Molly's feisty spirit, until we tried the children's first weekend away on our annual ski weekend up North.  I spent all day Friday loading up the car and packing while looking after the minions.*

By the time we piled into the car I announced to Chris that I was exhausted, wouldn't be good company and may nap the entire journey North.  He said he understood.  I pulled out my Google Map directions** and asked Chris if he needed them.  He said he was fine for the beginning of the journey and then asked for my recommendation on how to get to the highway.  I suggested Jane Street North to the highway and he agreed.  I chatted with him as he drove, both of us so tired that we were oblivious that he took Jane Street to Eglinton and had directed us to the wrong Highway.  He apologized, however felt a need to point out that as front seat passenger I was responsible as both navigator and DJ and should have pointed out his error.  We grumbled at each other for about half an hour until we got on the correct highway, going the correct direction.

After our minor detour we made it to our destination without any other incident.  Our playpens were waiting in our room and our friends arrived shortly after while the babies giggled and wriggled around on a play mat on the floor.  Everything was coming up Milhouse until Molly's 9pm bed time when she decided that she wasn't going to go to bed.  In turn Jack decided that he too would stay awake, that they would both cluster feed*** and fuss and yell and cry until 2AM.  Jack then refused to sleep in his playpen and wouldn't go down until he was snuggled securely between Chris and I.  We were defeated.

The next day we had volunteer babysitters who let us hit the hills tubing to get out some of our baby induced frustration, thank you.  By mid afternoon we were crashing on the couch while taking shifts looking after babies.  By Saturday night everyone had settled in, our babies to a routine and Chris and I to complete and total exhaustion.  After a failed attempt at trying to get our babies to swim**** they went to bed on schedule at 930pm and we had the evening to ourselves to play board games and watch movies with our friends. I fell asleep in an arm chair during Scott Pilgrim while Chris stubbornly tried to pack two nights worth of fun friend time into a three hour window.  When we got home on Sunday I crashed on the couch for a two and a half hour nap.  I'd say that Chris and I lost, and I have a photo of him laying in bed with the babies early Saturday morning that proves this, although I'm not allowed to show this photo to anyone.  Minions one, Parents zero.  Dumbly, sadly, I think it's time for a rematch.

*If you like Tetris you should come help me try to load up a weekend worth of winter supplies for a family of four into our 2001 Sunfire (AKA the Sexfire).
**I no longer use MapQuest thanks to some failed directions and mockery from our friends that Chris and I live in 1998 with dial up modems and ICQ.
***Need to feed every 30-45 minutes between fussy wailing.
****I had to beg the lifeguard to let us into the pool with the kids for just a minute during adult swim hour.  Sadly they loved it and we couldn't enjoy it more.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Sweet Emotion

Suddenly Molly and Jack are really aware of the world around them.  They fuss less if they can physically see that you are making them a bottle. They also get jealous of each other, which is comparable to two Alpha Male Apes trying to assert their authority by grunting, whining, crying and chest thrusting at each other.*  This is both entertaining and annoying.  They are also starting a little bit of sign language.  Jack holds up his arms in the air when he wants you to pick him up** and Molly openly laughs and giggles when she pees all over the change table while I'm working on getting her a clean diaper, cause she's kind of a jerk.  They also study faces intently, trying to figure out how you're saying what you're saying, facial expressions and whether or not they know you.  Exciting? Yes, until this past week when they both got colds.

When I was expecting I was worried about not being maternal enough.  And for the most part I've done well, but then I hit a major road block - my son when he is ill.  So many of the things that I love the most about Jack became my kryptonite the second that cold virus took hold.  Molly, much like her mother, gets incredibly ill-tempered and angry when she's sick.  Oh, she'll whine, suck down baby Advil like it's going out of style, but for the most part wants you to leave her alone to wallow in her misery.  I get it, I appreciate it and I've totally been there.  Then there's Jack.

Years ago I learned that relationship wise I work much better with a Beta Male.  I just didn't know what it would be like to raise the most emotional little boy in the world, a child who looks like me, but acts like my husband, but ten times more sensitive - it's weird.  Jack loves to be cuddled and tickled - ALL THE TIME.   For the most part loud noises make him cry.***  When he's upset, Jack doesn't just cry, he whimpers like a little puppy dog in a way that makes you feel like a hundred unicorns will die for every minute that you don't give him exactly what he wants.

Enter the cold virus.  Last week my son wasn't just teething up a fountain of drool, he was also pouring out a bucket load of snot and sneezing and coughing constantly.  He was a disgusting little sack of germs who wanted to cuddle even more than usual because he didn't feel well.  He remained incredibly gross for about five days no matter how many times I gave him a bath or squirted saline up his nose.  I found it really hard not to make the exact face I get when I witness someone hork a loogie on the sidewalk each and every time he needed more cuddle time.  The worst part is he can read my face now and I am not a good poker player.  Cuddle time was like playing a game of chicken with a bag full of kittens, I knew I was going to lose.  Every time I picked him up he'd sneeze or cough on my face or wipe his snotty little nose on my shirt.  For the record: babies have no manners, good luck teaching them the elbow sneeze.  They're both almost 100% now, but for the record, if there is ever a Zombie Apocalypse and Jack gets infected, my ass is grass cause that puppy dog whimper gets me every time.

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*Poor Jack hasn't figured out that he's the Beta and Molly is the Alpha.
**Chris thinks I am totally reading into this one and that Jack makes random Frankenstein arms all of the time and has pointed out that he often falls asleep with his chubby little arms in front of him like a little cherub mummy.
***Except yesterday when I dropped one of our good bowls onto the ground and it smashed into about fifty pieces he thought THAT was hilarious.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Get In The Ring

When we found out we were having twins a friend of mine sent me a book about managing life with multiples.  It was a wonderful reference guide and helped us plan for the first few months as parents.  One thing in the guide that really stuck with me was a statistic about the divorce rate in parents of multiples being significantly higher than that of parents of singletons.  And I have to say it worried me - A LOT.  Before we started trying to conceive we both had a long conversation about what would happen if we found out we couldn't have children and at that point we had decided that we wouldn't adopt or do any fertility treatments and we'd be happy with our life together, if that was what was meant to be.   In retrospect this discussion was immediately after an emotional viewing of the movie Up where we both cried for what felt like 90% of the movie.*  Chris is my best friend and during pregnancy I worried about a laundry list of things: about us and our new family dynamic and how children would impact our relationship.  Would we love the babies more than each other, or not enough or would one or both of us regret the decision to have kids?

My husband and I have very distinct fighting styles.  For the most part we natter and bicker more than fight, but when we do actually go into battle we both have our go to weapons of choice:  I freak out, want to talk it out** and then I eventually get over it, while he gets sulky, doesn't want to talk or if he gets really angry he just agrees with everything I say, which turns up my rage dial to a solid 10.  In our 8 plus years together this has been how we fight, but this somehow changed when Molly & Jack arrived.

During pregnancy I learned how the babies reacted to my emotional state...when I got upset and emotional, they would freak out and it felt terrible.  That was when it hit us, we now have an audience with front row seats to everything we ever fight about.  So it's time to fight fair or at least clean up the language a little bit.  

The things that we fight about have altered slightly, but still have some of the same themes to them.  Only we have less time and energy to deal with them.  This is how it usually goes:

Round 1 - Battle of the Bleary-Eyed
It doesn't matter if one or both of us gets up in the middle of the night to a screaming child, we both had interrupted sleep.  I am well aware, and appreciative, that you work long hours at your paid job all day and come home to immediately tag in and that you regularly give me breaks to regain my sanity and you rarely complain....However, when you say, "At least you have the chance of possibly getting a nap during the day" I want to slam your face off of the high chair.  Sometimes it's hard to remember that this isn't a competition about who got less rest.  We are both tired and lack of sleep has always been one of our bicker triggers.  
The Ice Pack: Give each other a nap sometimes.  Even 20 minutes helps....an hour is even better.

Round 2 - You're Not Listening to Me
There is more noise going on here than ever before.  Most conversations happen among baby noises, dishwasher noises, laundry timers and so on.  So it's really easy to lose what is said in the daily grind. It's a constant battle between not being heard and being a nag.***  
The Ice Pack: Write stuff down...on the calendar, in an email to each other or on a list if it's important.  Acknowledge what the other person said so they know that you actually heard them. 

Round 3 - You Still Aren't Listening to me or Sometimes the Squeaky Wheel Just Wants to Make Some Noise
In the realm of traditional gender roles we generally defy them, except for this one...When Chris has a bad day at work he doesn't want to talk about it.  I don't work that way.  When I have a bad day with the babies, I want to complain.  This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy being at home with them, even though some days I really hate being at home with them, but it especially means that I don't want suggestions on how to fix my day.  I don't need a solution - I need an ear, a hug, a shoulder to cry on and a thank you.****
The Ice Pack: This is a new one for us that we just got a handle on this week....when I just want to complain I'm going to warn him that I'm venting up front.

Down for the Count
Six months in things may not be easy, but it gets better every day.  And we do fight...but I think we give in easier and hold grudges less....cause who has the energy for that?  At the end of the day we're on the same team - some days it's just hard to remember that.

*When I told my mother about how upset the movie had made Chris and I, she felt a need to confirm whether or not I was aware that it was a cartoon and that the characters aren't real people.  Yeah, I know, but it doesn't make me any less sad.
**I really mean scream it out.  
***Not so surprising, I am the nag 90% of the time and we both aren't heard about 50% of the time, especially when it comes to running out of cat food or milk.
****I finally curbed calling Chris at work crying at around month 4, I know it made him really uncomfortable, especially when he was in meetings.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Walking On Broken Glass

We have now been parents for six months and if this was a paid gig our probation would officially be over.* Slowly we have figured out some tricks and trends to manage our children - most of the time.  When it comes to sleep at night, I need to keep my voice down in the upstairs hall as my voice wakes up the minions more than anyone else's does.  There is also a sleep trend of Molly's that mirrors the most important rule of Gremlins, the one about feeding after midnight.**  Aside from the occasional attack from the Gremlins our children are good sleepers.  That being said lately they haven't been the ones keeping us up most nights.

We moved into our place nearly three years before the children were born and for the most part have slept quite well.   After adjusting to the usual home noises that can keep you up at night when you first move we mistakenly thought that the only thing that would keep us awake at night would be screaming children.***  After their arrival I developed a mother's ear and can hear their screams, whimpers and cries instantly.  My mother has informed me that this, "Spidey-Sense" never goes away and that hers faded slightly only to return with a vengeance once she had grandchildren.  The phantom cries, or ones I must hear inside my head wake me up from time to time, even when I've been taking naps and no one is here but me.

Lately there have been strange noises going on outside and inside our house just as we're falling asleep that have us, I'm using the royal we here, up and investigating.  Most nights it's raccoons attacking our compost bin.  I find this really weird because when our green bin was filled with just food remains it was untouched and now that it's filled with used diapers there's a line up of  raccoons jonesing for some dirty diapers, sweet potato skins and old tea bags, also known as raccoon crack.  Other nights our strange noise is the result of the excess of dishes we have laying in the kitchen, despite running the dishwasher at least once a day.  Our cat will decide that 1am is the perfect time for trying to drink the last few drops of a glass of milk, knocking said glass onto the floor creating a giant glass bomb on our kitchen floor.

Yesterday was a really tough day, I was running solo for over 15 hours and both children were teething and really cranky.****  I took them for a long walk to try to tire them out, but my efforts failed when they stayed up for 5 and a half hours straight with a nasty case of the sleepy means and I could barely keep my eyes open.  Finally just after 9 o'clock Chris returned home.  He spent an hour with the babies and we finally got them both to sleep by 10:30 when we collapsed in front of TV with a celebratory beer each before we went up to bed.

We sleepily climbed the stairs to bed - my hands stacked full of bottles of water and a package of formula for a possible night time feeding and Chris loaded with clean laundry.  We had knowingly left the TV room in a state of chaos as neither of us had the energy or inclination to tidy up before bed.  After we collapsed into bed and were almost asleep, we heard this really loud thunk noise coming from downstairs.  Chris went downstairs to investigate.  After about 5 minutes he returned shaking his head.  A pane from the elaborate stained glass light we have over our coffee table in the basement had come unfastened and crashed onto the the table.  Normally we'd be dealing with shards of broken glass and a room unfit for tiny babies rolling around on the floor, but miraculously it didn't break.  Upon retiring to bed we were too tired to put Jack's last pee soaked diaper of the night into the green bin and had left it on the centre of the coffee table, alone, wrapped up like a little unsanitary present.  Apparently fate was smiling on our savage ways because when the stained glass panel fell, it landed perfectly into the soft embrace of the dirty diaper.  Sadly, we were threatened the next morning by a gang of angry raccoons wanting to know where their fix was.

*I don't know if we'd be hired on full time, we laugh regularly at things that our supervisors find completely unacceptable.
**If you are unfamiliar with the 1984 movie Gremlins this reference may not make sense. If Molly wakes up once after midnight for feeding, she'll be up again during the night and generally it's bound to be a bad night, she'll wreak havoc and much like Stripe jumping into the pool, her loud cries wake up her brother causing an issue of multiplication where you have one upset little Mogwai and one Gremlin crawling up your curtains and making sure that no one gets any rest.
***We live in an area of Toronto called, The Junction and eight different train lines run behind our house.  We adapted to this quite quickly and easily.
****My grumpy mood was amplified when our sitter, who was going to give me a 4 hour reprieve while I went for my first post-natal massage to relieve the aftershocks of sciatica and carting around a 15lb pound and 17lb baby, cancelled with the flu.

Monday, 6 February 2012

This Too Shall Pass

Throughout my pregnancy I'd sit with my friends, often at a bar, sipping an Orange & Seven* suspiciously eyeing my other female friends who weren't drinking. I hopefully watched drinking patterns to see whether or not I could "score" a maternity leave buddy for at least part of my year as a stay at home mom.  Although I have many close friends who often act as designated driver** no one was pregnant while I was, and at this point no one will have more than a few weeks of overlap time at home with me unless they are very cleverly hiding five months of pregnancy.    I have a handful of mom friends who are at home right now,  but they all live outside of the city and on average are a fifty-three minute drive away.***

When I was a kid I thought that I would be married and have kids before I was 30, because that was old, right?  I never imagined that in my circle of close Toronto friends that at 33 years old I would be the first one to have kids.  I recently tried to articulate this double edged sword and found that my list of pros and cons for being the first one in your social circle with kids is the same list.

You Are A Trailblazer
You are the first one....this means no unsolicited parenting advice, no older kids teaching your kids things that you don't want them to learn and no ridiculous, competitive rivalries with friends' children.  This also means that you are the first ones, and let's face it you're rookies, you don't know what you're doing and no one can give you advice because they don't know either.

Those Annoying Kids, Well, They're Your Annoying Kids
There are adults everywhere which means that you have a lot of extra hands to help you out when you're managing kids.  You have to recognize that not everyone is going to love the idea of hanging out with your kids.  As lovely as they are, your kids and their colic ridden screams can be annoying to you, imagine how it sounds to an outsider with no paternal bond to your child.  Many people will be helpful and understanding, other people just aren't interested in hanging out with your kids and that's okay too, although it does mean that you may see less of them.  That's a choice that you'll both make and sometimes it will suck, but that's okay too.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Getting away from my kids makes me like them and appreciate them more.  When you're out solo you can connect with your partner and friends as adults away from parenthood.  Chris and I try to avoid talking about the kids while out without them, unless we're asked.  It's good to get out and it's good to be reminded that you like your kids, but also that you exist in a world outside of parenthood.  It's also a wonderful way to show your partner and friends that they are a priority even though you now have many other competing priorities.

You Will Become Public Domain
I didn't realize the impact of this one until I became pregnant and someone started picking on me because I was pregnant.  This hurt, particularly because it happened the first day I went public about my pregnancy, but it also prepared me for the bad touch****, comments in a coffee house line up while I got my small coffee, dirty looks for being a pregnant woman in a bar, or people pointing out to others how giant I had gotten in my pregnancy.  The public nature of being a parent doesn't stop when your kids are born, it just expands, and is now directed at you AND your child(ren).  For as many people who tell you that it's too cold to have your children outside***** there are five who congratulate you, tell you how lovely your child is, pick up a stray sock for you and remind you how great having kids is.

People Will Look at You Differently and in Turn You'll look at Yourself  Differently
Maybe it's the fact that I have baby spit up on my shoulder or in my hair at least 40% of the time, Maybe it's that I'm a mom now and have become somewhat androgynous, but compliments nowadays are more along the lines of, "You lost the baby weight." or "I don't know how you do it." and not, "You look great/hot/ or I like your shirt."******  I do spend a lot less time on my appearance than I used to because I don't have time to try on a million different outfits, especially when only three things I own are clean and two of them are actually Chris's and I usually end up doing my make-up on the road - literally.  When my nagging sixteen year old self tells me that people just won't see me that way any more I can't say it doesn't sting a little bit, but the other day someone told me that they admire the way that Chris and I "do" parenthood and that made me happier than any other random compliment about my shirt.  Maybe I'm growing up, maybe I'm just accepting that most of that baby vomit in my hair will brush out.

*The two non-alcoholic drinks that I lived off of my entire pregnancy were orange juice and 7-Up (Thank you to the bar tender at Whelan's Gate for introducing me to this) and soda with bar lime.  The soda with bar lime is a great way to pretend to be drinking vodka and soda if you are still keeping your pregnancy a secret.  Both drinks are really refreshing, particularly in the hot long summer months of pregnancy.
**Are you crazy? Drink while you can - you will likely be designated driver your entire pregnancy.
***That's nearly two hours of driving for a cup of coffee and a little face time and can be really intimidating when managing nap and feeding schedules of two little ones.  Why did you guys move so far?
****The bad touch is when someone, without asking, grabs at your pregnant belly.  This is especially awkward when you aren't showing yet and they ask "How are the twins?"
*****For the record it was ten degrees outside that day.
******I know my shirt has baby barf on it, but does that really make it any less cute?  Okay maybe it does.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Sweet Child(s) of Mine

My pregnancy was a train wreck.  I'd often joke about Molly and Jack being succubi or parasites who were stealing my nutrients and making me anemic. After I looked up the definition of succubi* I wish that I could take back this proclamation.  Jokes aside there are several things about my pregnancy that I think I (we) did right, despite my implying horrible things about my children before they were even born.

Finding Out the Gender Ahead of Time

Discovering that we were having twins was the surprise of a life time.**  We were aware that there was a margin for error, but we were okay with that.  Each time I went for an ultrasound (I think I went for almost 20 in total by the time they were born) Jack was flashing his business, so we were quite confident that at least one child was a boy.  We got confirmation for Molly only once, as she lay on her stomach during most of my pregnancy, but the technician was as sure as they are allowed to say they are that she was a girl.***  Knowing this information gave us some feeling of control and distraction in a high risk pregnancy where we actually had little to no control and had to cross our fingers and hope for the best.  When you're laying in the hospital with your eight month pregnant butt in the air getting a lung developing steroid shot, just in case you go into labour early, any distraction from the worries of being a new parent helps.

My Birth Experience

Last week Chris's mum admitted that she was quite worried about the twins my entire pregnancy - thankfully she didn't openly express this concern to me when I was a panicked mess of  hormones complete with two parasites in my belly and sciatic pain that had me walking around like Quasi Modo.   I had a cautious and conservative doctor who monitored me closely and let me make my own choices with as much information available to me as I needed and wanted.  My entire pregnancy Jack was breach.  As my due date approached I was given multiple options for what could happen, how to turn the babies with little to no room.  At month 8 Molly turned around from her sideways position to head down, but Jack did not.  When I went to the doctor we discussed the likelihood of Jack turning with the remaining space available (it was amazing that Molly managed to turn), how if he did turn he could flip once Molly was out and how there was a significant chance of having to use suction, him losing oxygen, and finally them having to perform an emergency cesarean section immediately after Molly was born.  So we booked the section and for the first time in my life I had surgery.  On August 10th they were both born, one minute apart, healthy babies with all of us able to leave the hospital together after only 36 hours.  Ironically, the surgeon discovered that Jack ended up being head down in the end when she cut me open.

My Partner in Crime

Even though he didn't believe me when I first told him that I was pregnant and made me take another two home pregnancy tests, Chris became a dad the second he found out I was pregnant.  He kept me positive and hopeful in the beginning when twin symptoms mirrored the possibility of me having a miscarriage and kept the house running and clean when I was too nauseous or giant to move.   He made me feel pretty and never teased me about being almost as wide as I was tall in the final weeks of pregnancy insisting that he could still wrap his arms around me.  He slept on the futon downstairs with me when I grew too large to climb out of our bed.  And he didn't complain once.  I complained enough for the both of us.

*A demon who would seduce you in your dreams and have sexual intercourse with you leading to the deterioration of your health or even death (male version incubus).   No wonder everyone looked so uncomfortable when I complained about my two succubi (or succubus and incubus if you will) draining my life force.
**At my first ultrasound I asked the technician, jokingly, if there was only one baby.  She turned the monitor away from me and told me that I couldn't look at the screen until the end of the appointment.
***After grilling every technician I had, a hand full did admit that people sometimes got really angry and confronted them if there was a mistake.