Twins' six month update!

Today Ira and Roman are six months old! I am so proud of those two little babies and also proud of myself for all the mothering I have done these past six months. When I was pregnant I joined an online support group for mothers of multiples and I remember noticing how they all, upon the occasion of their babies' first birthdays, made the same exclamation: "We survived!" 

Survival might seem like a low bar for parenting but I'll tell you what- it is sometimes the only bar one can meet. Or hop over. Or... actually now that I'm typing this I'm realizing I don't know from what sports this metaphor springs.... let's say hurdles. 

So sometimes survival is the only bar you can hurdle and that is just fine! My husband likes to say that in life he tends to "under-promise and over-deliver." I guess the parenting-infant-twins equivalent would be to aim for the survival bar and celebrate every inch over that bar you manage to leap! 

In my last update I wrote about the 4-month-sleep-regression and how it was kicking my butt. In month five we had a handful of good nights but overall I continued to be whooped by its long reaching arms. There was a string of nights in a row when, between both babies' wakings, I was sleeping about 45 minutes at a time. Folks I am here to tell you that I nearly lost my mind. 

Never have I been so tired in all my life. Severe sleep deprivation is no joke.

The silver lining to surviving those long crazy-making nights is that now I truly cherish sleeping 3 hours in a row. It's kind of like when you are really sick with the flu and you remember back to a time when you had a cold and think, "WHAT WAS I COMPLAINING ABOUT?! I would kill for a simple cold right now!" 

So now when the twins allow me to sleep for three hours at a time, I say thank you, kiss their little cheeks, and drink my coffee trying not to complain and know that in time, this too shall pass. Last night was a rough night again (I was up every hour) but before that we had a few good nights in a row, with 4 or fewer wake ups. The twins have also started to take a longer and consistent morning nap (1-2 hours) which has been great and allows me some time to either rest or take a shower or fold laundry... whatever seems most pressing at the time! 

While the sleeplessness has at times put me in a sour mood, the twins are as happy as ever! They are healthy, growing, babbling, chunky little babies who daily make me laugh and sing praises to the heavens. I often look at them and breathe out prayers like, "Thank you God for this precious child! I am the luckiest mama on earth." When I think about my three boys I truly feel rich. One of my favorite times of each weekday is when I load up the twins and we pick up Arie from school. Driving home with all my littles in the minivan I feel the wonderful weight of the abundance of my children. Three little boys to gather in my arms. Three lives to nurture. Three stories to which I bear intimate witness. Three blessings from my Heavenly Father. I am grateful. 

Ira and Roman have become quite expressive in their love and desire for me this month. I think what I am seeing is the beginnings of the attachment that forms separation anxiety, but on the positive side. They get so excited when they see me and they each have their own darling reactions when I hold them.

Roman loves to reach out with his little hands, hold each side of my face, and stare into my eyes while softly cooing. He giggles and pulls me in for kisses, which I shower on him in increments of 10 or 100. Or 1000. 

Ira is what I affectionately call my "boobie monster." The boy loves to nurse! When I hold him he claws at my shirt and bounces his head into my chest. When I sit down in my rocking chair in the nursery with him he balls his little fists and lets out out a gleeful laugh in anticipation. I read a breastfeeding quote the other day that said, "Nearly every need your baby has can be answered at the breast." That is certainly true for my little Ira!

Speaking of breastfeeding, I am grateful that we have made it to the six-month mark! Yesterday before we introduced solids for the first time I took a moment to admire their chunky little bodies and marvel God's design for a mother to nourish her babies. It was a very tough journey for us at first but how incredible it has been to see my boys thrive on my milk! 

Introducing solids was great fun! John and I chose avocado as their first food and they loved it. Roman in particular seemed like he could have demolished the entire fruit on his own. While I know all babies eat solid food eventually it felt happily surprising to see how well they took to it! I think I will enjoy introducing new foods. Well, with the exception of all the messiness this new phase will introduce into our lives. If anyone has a dog we could borrow for mealtimes please leave me a comment below. ;-) We have yet to convince our cat to lick up our spills and crumbs after meals.

Lastly our two highlights of the twins' fifth month were going apple picking with big brother as well as visiting my family in Ontario for Thanksgiving. While sometimes it is tough for me to gather the energy to do these kinds of things, I often forget about how tired I am when I am enjoying myself and I'm always glad I made a little push to make some memories with my family! I'll leave you with some pictures of these two highlights. 

Picking apples:

Thanksgiving weekend in Ontario, visiting a festive fall farm:

My parents with all their grandchildren! 



Five month twins update!

We are five months old! 

Well you guys, I'm here to tell you that the four-month sleep regression is real. It's been a wakeful month. Earlier this summer I was talking to another twin mom whose kids are older and I asked her a question about when they were infants. She laughed and said, "I have no idea. I don't remember anything from that year."

I totally get that now. I sat down to write this update and my brain is all

system processing....

system processing...

system processing...

Error. File not found. 

So the twins are wonderful and bigger and oh I love them so. But wait- how did we get here? What time is it? What month is it? What year is it? Who am I? I remember so little from this month!

In lieu of brain power, I have resorted to technological help. Here's what I was able to jog out of memory by looking back through some pictures and videos on my phone:

Roman has gone to war with the hanging toys on his play mat and bouncy chair. There is one monkey and turtle in particular that really get his goat. He grabs hold of those toys and pulls with all his little might, trying to detach them from their taunting positions. His brow crumples and he screams with all the frustration his body can muster. John and I laugh over this new display of emotion and then push down the cold rush of fear and dread when we imagine how this strong will is going to rear its head during the toddler years.

He'll have worked these feelings out by then, right?

When he's not enraged by his hanging toys, Roman is tender, sweet, smiley, affectionate little guy. I love going to get him in the morning to see his blue eyes arch into rainbows with his smile. His legs start kicking away as he shrieks with excitement. I love lifting him up, kissing his enormous cheeks and hugging him close into me. Every morning I pray, "Thank you Father. This is what dreamed of for all those longing years."

Roman likes playing with toys (the non-dangling kind), he's able to roll front to back and back to front. He is gaining more and more core strength as we practice sitting. Just the day before he turned five months old he started grabbing his feet! To me that is the apex of adorable in a baby. Unfortunately it also makes diaper changes way harder! Ha.

He weighs 17lbs.

Ira is a giggle monster. He continues to remind me of big brother Arie in this way! Over the last month the two things that have made him laugh the most are the word "Okay!" and a squeaking, trumpet noise John makes with his mouth. I'm constantly running out of storage on my phone because I take so many videos of his big laughs! He also loves brothers Arie and Roman and bursts into smiles and coos when he makes eye contact with them.

Ira continues to be a sensitive baby. When he is happy, he is full of laughs and smiles and happy outbursts. When he is sad, he cries loudly and mournfully with quickly increasing desperation until he is picked up. He also startles easily which happens most often when John sneezes or if one of his brothers makes a sudden loud noise. At least once each week it happens that he falls asleep while I am nursing him and Roman. Roman will catch my eye and let out a happy shriek, which wakes up Ira with a start! Ira's lip sticks out, his face slowly crumples, and he dissolves into tears. Roman, you monster! I comfort Ira while giggling at Roman's steady beaming grin, completely oblivious to the scouring emotion he has just awoken in his brother.

Ira likes to play with his tag blanket, listen to music, and he can roll from his tummy to his back. He doesn't have as much core strength as his brother, but his legs are so strong he can almost kick himself out of the rock and play! I have to buckle him in every time.

Ira weighs 14lbs, 7oz.

Since turning five months old on Monday, the twins have slept much better for two nights. I'm hopeful that we have survived the four month sleep regression and are back on our way to longer stretches of sleep at night! They have also been napping on a more consistent schedule which means I am getting some much welcomed down time during the day!

I'm having so much fun with these babies it is hard to imagine it getting any better, but maybe this month they will continue to bless me with joy AND sleep. Maybe I'll even be able file a memory away somewhere. I'll let you know next month! ;-)



4 Month Twin Update

Ira & Roman are four months old today! This month they have transitioned from being two fragile-ish newborns to being two solid, roly-poly babies. Thy are bright-eyed, chatty, smiley, chubby little baby bears and I could not be loving them more!

While I'm still busy with them, I've been getting back into old routines again because they are now content to sit in their bouncy chairs or lay on the play-mat to take in the world. With my newly freed-up hands I can go back to doing things like cooking respectable meals and cleaning the bathroom beyond a quick clorox wipe down. It feels so good! I find satisfaction in cooking and baking and keeping my house; I'm very happy to be back at it again. Arie loves to join me in the kitchen- especially when chocolate chips are involved- so it has been nice for him to get back in there with me too!

The twins are sleeping great. They go to bed around 9pm now and more than half the time one of them will sleep until 6 or 7am! The other half they wake up once, usually right at 3am. Sometimes they both sleep through the night on the same night which means I get to sleep through the night too! The first time I slept through the night since they were born was when we were visiting my parents in early August. My mom told me I should lay down and take a picture with a milestone card just like I did for the boys! Ha! When the boys do get up they usually only need to be nursed and quickly go back to sleep so I feel great these days. Still tired but not exhausted anymore. The difference between getting up once at night versus twice is huge. The once-per-night wake up feels indefinitely sustainable to me with a hot cup of coffee in the morning.

To tell you the truth, a part of me cherishes those times when I can hold one of my babies close in the quiet of the nursery, rocking smoothly in our comfy chair and feeling the rise and fall of his small belly against my own. When I was pregnant another mom told me that she missed those middle-of-the-night nursing sessions. I did not understand her feelings then, but I sure do now. It's such a tender and peaceful time. While I certainly love the nights I sleep through, I don't wish away the ones when I'm up. I know they will end all too soon.

Both boys are deliriously happy in the morning. When they see me coming into the nursery their cries turn to happy shrieks and their little legs start kicking away. After I feed them, they lay on the nursing pillow cooing and smiling up at me. I swear they are almost turning me into a morning person which borders on miraculous.

I've just begun the process of getting them napping in their cribs on a schedule which I'm hoping will fall into place by the time Arie goes back to school after Labor Day. (The nap routine will have to revolve around Arie's school pick up mid-afternoon.) Ira took a two hour nap last week which was the longest daytime stretch either of them has ever done! Usually they do about 40 minutes - an hour. If you'd like to share, I'd love to hear what sort of nap schedule your 4-6 month old is/was doing!

Going to bed, the twins act as different as they look. I can usually put Roman in his crib sleepy but awake and he will just suck on his pacifier and look around until he falls asleep.

Ira, on the other hand, refuses a pacifier and will begin to cry if he even senses you are about to bend over his crib. He has to be very, very sleepy before he will relinquish his determination to stay awake and in Mama's arms. I now know exactly where every sneaky floor board is between his crib and the staircase. I have also reached ninja status in my ability to transfer him from arms to his mattress. Ninja status. 

Speaking of ninjas, Roman and Ira are both learning to use their hands. Ira still mostly bats at things and Roman has begun to grasp and feel his toys. It is almost embarrassing how exciting it is for me to watch them exploring their bodies and their worlds. I cannot tell you how many times I have interrupted my husband by saying something like, "OH MY WORD!!!!! ROMAN IS TOUCHING THE MONKEY ON THE PLAY MAT! Look John! Look! Why aren'y you looking John!!!?!? QUICK BEFORE HE MOVES HIS HAND! .... OH YOU MISSED IT! You missed it! You have to look IMMEDIATELY when I tell you! Blerg. Next time look right away."

Poor John.

Ira and Roman are both talking a ton these days! Ira has all sorts of expression in both his voice and his face. He is the most vocal one of the two. I think I am going to have a little chatter box on my hands when he learns to talk. Finally someone for my older chatter box to talk to! Or maybe they will always be trying to talk over one another. I guess we will see!

In either case, I think Roman will be a good listener. He has become a very content baby, happy to look around and take in his world. He has a softer voice, gentle and adorable as well as a burst-y happy shriek that comes out when he's really in a good mood. Between the two of them our house is brimming with happy baby noises! I've found myself singing a lot more lately and I think it's just their contagious joy catching on.

Breastfeeding continues to go well and the babies are growing. After our vacation in late July, Ira refused to take the bottle we had been offering before bed; I felt like pumping for just one bottle for Roman wasn't worth the time I was spending pumping, washing and sterilizing parts, and washing and sterilizing bottles so finally put my pump away! Both babies have been nursing well. Ira is weighing in at 13lbs even while Roman tips the scale at 15lbs 8oz! Ira's weight puts him in the 6th percentile for actual age and the 33rd percentile for adjusted age. Roman is in the 51st percentile for actual age and the 87th for adjusted! My big boy! No wonder I'm so hungry all the time.

One thing of note this month is that I think I'm starting to see the twins' eyes change color. Ira has a brown streak in the top of his right eye while the bottom of Roman's right eye is starting to look a little greenish to me. I've read that baby's eyes can change anytime in the first year. While Roman's eyes may remain blue with just a more greenish hue, my guess would be that the undoubtedly brown streak in Ira's eyes is the beginning of his changing fully brown! With how much he already looks like his big brother Arie it would be fun for them to have the same eye color too! When did your baby's eyes change color?

A few of you have asked for an update on Arie! Arie is six now and continues to be a very happy, kind, and creative little boy. His favorite things to do are art projects and playing with legos. After doing a year of developmental kindergarten last year, he will start a Montessori based kindergarten program in the fall. He is starting to read and has begun to show talents and interest in math. As a toddler he always gravitated to toys that had some kind of a puzzle or mechanical component so I can't say I'm surprised to see how much he likes math. (Although it should be interesting to see how long I can keep up with this interest- helping him with homework and such- since math was always my worst subject in school. Proudly the only second grader to never get a gold star on the math minutes "perfect score" chart.) Combining his interest in math and art I wonder if he will be an engineer when he grows up! My dad started off his career in engineering (before moving to IT) and Arie's face absolutely lit up when Grampi described the way he used to draw pictures of offices and towers and figure out how to build them. It's fun to nurture Arie's interests!

He did two weeks of Science Camp this summer along with a week of swimming lessons and two weeks of vacation. That kept him happy and occupied while I was super busy with the babies. We are closing out summer with quieter days and school will be a welcomed change by the time it gets here! Arie already chose his backpack (royal blue, emphasis on the royal) and matching lunch pail. He is nervous about the first day but since he is returning to the same school I know he will quickly adjust and remember how much he loves it! I'm excited to see how he will learn and grow this year!

Being a big brother seems to have come naturally to Arie. At first he sort of just accepted that the babies were in our lives, but once they started smiling and responding to him he began to love his big brother role a whole lot more. He likes to sing and dance in front of them to make them giggle and smile. When they cry he is the first to check if they want their pacifier or rock their bouncy chairs. He is exceptionally patient with me and John, understanding that the babies' need to nurse or have a diaper change often means he has to wait for our attention. The other day the babies both began to cry while I finished a chore in the kitchen and he offered to take over the housework to I could tend to his brothers because, "the babies need you Mom!" I'm so proud of my thoughtful little boy.

All for now!



Summer Vacation 2016!

John and I finished out the month of July by going on vacation with my family. I know going on vacation with family is not everyone's first choice when it comes time to take a holiday but 1) we really like my family and 2) having help with our infant twins was excellent. I can't imagine we would have had any down time at all between parenting our three littles if it wasn't for the aunts and uncles and grandparents!

Last summer this same group- minus Ira & Roman- went together to Tennessee for a week with the Smoky Mountains in our backyard. This year we opted for a closer yet equally magnificent backyard view by renting a cottage on Lake Huron. Of course I'm a Lake Michigan girl since I live near its shores, but Lake Huron comes in a very close second (also no offense to Lake Ontario where I grew up but you were always too dirty to swim in).
Backyard steps to the beach

Going on holiday with the twins this year was very meaningful for me. It was on our trip to Tennessee with my family last year that we shared we had been matched with a second set of embryos and were hoping to transfer early that fall. After a failed transfer and a miscarriage I was almost scared to hope for our third attempt, yet my mind would often wonder if next summer I would be vacationing with a new baby. Indeed I did- with two new babies!

My mom kept asking me sympathetically if I felt relaxed on vacation since I was so busy with my three little boys and wasn't able to go out and do too much; I replied that while no vacation was not "relaxing" for me this year, it was still so much fun! While last year summer I was able to do a lot more- not always having my arms full of babies or having to stop to nurse every couple hours- this year I was so much happier: infertility conquered and a heart brimming with pride over my three little boys.

Our cottage rental was perfect for us: with the beach in our backyard we could take trips to sit and swim and play in the sand for as long or as little as the babies would allow. No one had to wait for us to be ready to go or leave early when we needed to head back. It was just right.
Heading down to the beach with our babies! 
Must have for beaching with twins: beach tent. 
Ira's first toe-dip into Lake Huron! 
Nope. Not a fan. 
Roman's first toe dip into Lake Huron! 
Also not a fan. ;-) "OMI, WHY?!" 
Babies much prefer beach naps to swimming. ("Those waves sure sounds like the sound machine in our room...") 
We also enjoyed a few short outings to two nearby downtown areas for shopping and a splash pad.
The twins attract attention wherever we go! The woman next to me said she is a twin herself! 
Arie used his spending money to buy his cousin Lux this fox. How sweet! 

One evening we all went out to eat at a "restaurant" that easily accommodated our group's four littles: a fish and chips stand with picnic tables! Ha! We walked a few blocks for ice cream after and truly enjoyed our evening. I felt so proud of us for figuring out how to make the most of our time together. No, a sit down restaurant was not in the cards for us this year but I didn't miss it. I'm convinced that 90% of enjoying the "little years"with kids is just having realistic expectations and a positive attitude!

Mostly we enjoyed our beautiful Lake Huron view from the cottage.
I'm glad Arie chose his natural smile for this picture.

I even stayed awake late enough to join the others for a fire on our last night together! ;-)

After our week at the cottage, John and I dropped Arie off at Omi and Grampi's house for some special spoiling time (Arie was electric with excitement, practically pushing us out the door!). We carried on with the twins to Niagara-on-the-Lake which is about an hour from my parents' place and known as Ontario's wine country, brimming with vineyards and an adorable downtown area. We rented a little cottage right near the downtown.

Again, I felt so proud of us for figuring out how to enjoy this part of our vacation with three-month-old twins. We went to a winery that offered a picnic lunch in their vineyard so we could take in the whole wine-country experience without worrying if our babies cried. It was an absolutely beautiful afternoon. The babies slept in the stroller while we spent some time wine tasting and picking a bottle for our picnic. When they woke up crying we made our way outside we saw the owners even put up an umbrella at our picnic table to share the babies. How kind!

Roman loves picnics!
One day we drove about 30 minutes to visit a pottery studio I had hoped to check out. We were the only customers until the very end of our visit and we were able to have a lovely chat with the potter while the babies slept in our carriers. I bought a beautiful pair of mugs and will always remember that afternoon fondly when I use them!

On a very hot afternoon we drove to Niagara Falls which is where John and I went on our honeymoon! How special to go back with our twins. I wished Arie would have been there for that part too. We walked along the overlook of the falls, took some pictures, and then because of the heat quickly found a shady park where we sipped some cold smoothies for lunch.

Our cottage was close to both a coffee shop and a pastry bakery. Since we didn't have to get up and going with Arie in the mornings, John would bring the twins to me in bed and I wold nurse them while he walked to get us coffees and breakfast. I enjoyed so much those easy mornings sipping my coffee and slowly chewing my chocolate croissant, sitting cross legged on the bed with my husband, two little babies between us full of giggles and smiles or sleep. It was so good for us to take that time to drink them in: their chubby little bodies, sparkly eyes, and gummy smiles. I know we will cherish those memories for our lifetimes.

This summer I have felt more than anything that God has been so good to us. It is true like my mom intuited that this summer has not been relaxing for me with the twins, but it has still been so good. Indeed I have my hands full, I am tired, I don't have very much "time for myself," and darn it my back hurts from nursing and carrying babies around all day long! But I would not give any of it up. I longed for these days and now that they are here I embrace them. The good parts are so very good and the hard parts are temporary. There is great pain and heartache in this world: why has God seen fit to bless me with such happiness? I cannot answer that question so instead I will choose gratitude.

For my family, my boys, my husband, this summer, and our wonderful holiday, I am thankful.

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