My Story

The chronicle of the journey from infertility, to miscarriage, to finally raising twin girls born in June 2012.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Sit! Stay!

We've reached the part of parenting where you feel like you're trying to train a dog.  Where behavior is no longer 100% instinctual and necessary for survival, but rather for fun and for learning what is and is not acceptable.

This means we're also starting with some tantrums.  Middie Biddie hit the tantrum stage first but Teeny Tiny is catching up quick.  We've had a few lying on the floor as the crocodile tears flow tantrums, but those only last a few minutes and that's mostly Middie Biddie getting pissed off that I had to put her down.  Teeny Tiny tends to tantrum the hour before bedtime (she really loves her sleep and Middie Biddie doesn't let her get as much of it as she wants) and hers are more in the style of "This toy has pissed me off so I'm going to show it how pissed off I am!" complete with foot stomping and toy throwing.

For a while, Middie Biddie was throwing a tantrum whenever she wanted me to pick her up.  No request first that I could say yes or no to, just tantrum with arms in the air.  I refused to pick her up when she did that and it was difficult finding the opportunity to reward the behavior I wanted to see.  I tried to tell her to calm down and would do things like blow in her face to make her smile and try to guide her into really deep breaths so I could find a moment of non-whining to reward.  She's now coming to me with arms up without those annoying toddler noises and I'm doing my best to pick her up very quickly when she does that so she knows it will work.

We've baby proofed the girls living space so much that there aren't a whole lot of rules to follow.  The big one is not to stand/walk on the couches.  Now that they can climb up, we're trying to teach them to only sit once they are up there.  Ok, they can crawl too, but I don't want them standing, walking, or climbing.  We've been very consistent with "Sit!" and "get down!" and then physically putting them in the position we mean by those statements.  It's hard to know what they do understand and what they don't understand in terms of language, so it really is like dog training.  You say "sit" and then put them in a sitting position.  You say "down" and then move them to the floor.  Whenever they stand, firm unhappy face, when they sit, clapping and "yay!!!" so they know they're are doing what I've asked them to do.

I'd say we've been working on that one for about 2 weeks and I'm pretty sure they get it now.  Teeny Tiny will grab a toy, climb onto a couch and sit to play with it even when we're not specifically looking at her and she could probably get away with a lot more.  Middie Biddie is crossing over from thinking this whole thing is a game to knowing that she's really not supposed to stand on the couch.  She'll walk around on there while I'm trapped doing a Teeny Tiny diaper change and she'll laugh at me when I tell her to get down, and then finally do it a few seconds later.

I have some insecurity about the fact that things are baby proofed so much and that the girls are kind of caged in.  I fear people will judge me as lazy or something.  But the other day, as Middie Biddie was running across the couch and I was stuck with Teeny Tiny up on the changing table it occurred to me, with twins, there really are moments when I'm not physically capable of saving one from themselves because doing so would be unsafe for the other one.  I couldn't run to save Middie Biddie from falling because doing so would probably make Teeny Tiny fall.  That moment made me feel a whole lot better about all of the work I've done to make sure that any possible damage they could do to themselves would be minimal.  Yeah, she could have fallen, but anything she might have cracked her head on was moved out of the way and the worst that could happen would be she'd tumble to the floor and be a little startled and perhaps a touch bruised.  When you have two, there are simply times when you're trapped doing a diaper change the other one knows it!  So I'm going to enjoy my freedom to pee in peace and not having to look for cell phones in the toilet which is a side effect of keeping them safe.  Oh, she followed instructions and actually got off the couch without falling.

My cousin told me that kids only hear the last 2-3 words of a sentence.  So when you say "you're not allowed to walk on the couch", they hear "walk on the couch".  We're trying to reframe our language to only 1 or 2 word statements that communicate what we want rather than long sentences communicating what we don't want.  So, it sounds like we're training dogs here.  Sit!  Stay!  Come here!  Ask nicely!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nightmare flashback

A little back story.  As the youngest child of two youngest children, I grew up between generations where my cousins had kids while I was still a kid myself.  Even so, I never spent much time around kids so I had no idea what kind of activities were age appropriate.  All I knew was that I was overprotected and my mother always made me stop doing anything that could be potentially dangerous, probably more so than she should have.

Well, one day, I'm on the beach and some of the kids are climbing pretty high up on some logs and it looks to me like they could really hurt themselves so I told them to stop doing that.  Their mother, my cousin, heard me and was annoyed that I was parenting her children and told me that what they were doing was fine, I needed to chill out.  Obviously this little exchange has stuck with me and it's one of the big reasons I never attempt to stick my nose into someone elses parenting.

A few nights ago, I had a bad nightmare.  I was at my grandmothers condo which was on the second floor.  A few cousins were there as well as, gee, guess how my brain came up with this one, twin toddlers.  Two blond little boys.  My grandmother let's them go outside onto the small deck and I look at the deck and think that's not such a great idea.  While there is a fence, the bars are almost a foot apart, very easy for small kids to get through.  So I decide to go out there with the boys and as soon as I get there, I see one of them sitting between two bars, butt hanging over the edge.  I go to grab him and realize he's mid poo (must be potty training) and since I don't want to pick him up while he's in progress, I hold onto him until he finishes his business and try to tell the people inside that something dangerous is happening, I need a second person to help.  Everyone laughs at me and concludes that I'm overreacting.  Then I see the second boy head to the edge and start to go between the bars and I scream and try to communicate EMERGENCY COME NOW!!!  Just as I scream and try to lunge for the second boy without pushing the first boy over, I see him go over the edge.  I continue screaming and now the people inside are thinking maybe they should check out the situation.  I look over and see the little boy face down in the gravel below.  That's when I woke up.

I was going to write about that nightmare when I had it but never got around to it and didn't see much purpose other than to demonstrate how fucked up my brain can be.  Until today.

I've baby-proofed our house pretty well.  Many would say I've over done it but oh well, that's what I'm comfortable with.  I haven't really had to tell the girls "no" a whole lot because they have very little access to anything that could harm them.  But they have recently figured out how to climb onto the couch which means falling is now a possibility.  I have to keep moving the ottomans away from it so that if one does fall, they don't crack their head on the hard corner.  We're doing a whole lot of trying to teach them to only sit on the couch, no standing, no further climbing.  Yeah, you can imagine how well that's going over.  When we tell them to sit and put them in a sitting position, they think it's a game so they laugh, pop back up, and wait to be dropped again.

So I'm sitting on the floor with my back against the couch reading Teeny Tiny a story on my lap.  I see Middie Biddie heading over towards the edge of the couch and do my stern mom voice "sit down!" and she laughs at me.  Then I see her start to climb over the edge of the pack n play that's there and just as I scream "NO" and try to lunge for her without hurting Teeny Tiny in the process, I watch her flip over the edge, head first.  OMG flashback to my nightmare!!!

She was fine.  Rather enjoyed it and was having a grand old time flopping around inside the pack n play while I tried to recover from the panic.

Why was she having a grand old time?  Because I had the foresight to predict that this might happen one day and decided that the pack n play would be the perfect place to store things like extra blankets and big stuffed animals.  Yup, she only fell about a foot with a really soft landing.

People can call me over protective, laugh at my obnoxious baby-proofing, and tell me to chill out about seeing potential dangers that others don't see.  But today that obnoxious paranoia protected my girl from a nasty bump on the head, possibly a broken neck.  At the moment, I'm glad to be a paranoid freak.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Feel like a fraud

Have you ever gone to work and had this absolute fear that someone was going to figure out that you're a fraud and you have no idea what you're doing?

Yeah, I feel that way all the time.  Every job I've had, everything I do from day to day, I don't really feel like I belong, but like I'm an outsider walking among you hoping no one can see that I have absolutely no clue as to what I'm doing.

I still feel like I'm not really a mom.  I hang out with my mom groups and while I feel like I fit in fine in terms of personality (well, sometimes), I also feel like they are real moms and I'm not.  Now if there is any title in life that I have earned and that is not a subjective thing that can change, but rather an absolute, permanent fact, I'm a mom.  I have children that live in my house, eat the scrambled eggs that I make (I magic bullet them with spinach so yes, I serve green eggs with ham sometimes) and they run to me to kiss boo boos.  I don't know what feeling I was expecting to make me finally feel like I'm actually one of these magical mom creatures, but I haven't gotten it yet.

I suspect it's like when a cardinal gets promoted to pope and finds out "oh shit!  I'm not feeling any more connected to God than I did yesterday!  I'm still just Joe Schmoe but with a fancier hat!"

There's an episode of How I Met Your Mother where all the characters are pointing out other characters gaps in common knowledge.  I can't tell you how that's one of my biggest fears, to be found out that I am clueless about something everyone else in the world knows.  What made me feel better about this?  I said something about this to my brother and we had one of those "OMG me too!!!" moments.

Grocery shopping?  Yeah, I don't know what to buy in order to have the ingredients to make a dinner later in the week.  I have no clue as to how to prepare or eat half the stuff in the produce section and very few clues as to how to pick something ripe.  When the power went out, the first thing I did was take a shower because growing up, if the power went out, we'd only have whatever hot water was in the hot water heater and it was now cooling down so use it or lose it.  Then K pointed out that we have a gas water heater so apparently we can still have hot water in a power outage.  I've owned this house for almost 9 years now.  I'd point out more gaps, but I don't really know what they are.  But they exist, waiting for that moment when someone goes all bug eyed at something I don't know.

That's how I feel a lot of days.  Like I'm still 18 years old, trusting that living life would provide knowledge and looking forward to having that knowledge.  Except I've been that 18 year old for 20 years now and uh, still waiting!  One day, someone is going to grab my chin and rip back the mask of this old looking face to reveal the stupid teenaged idiot hiding behind it like in a Scooby Doo cartoon.  That's not a mom, that's a child who's been pretending all along!  Zoinks!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

How the year is going so far

I've still been a bit under the weather so while I've been trying to do better on my New Years resolutions, it's been about half assed.  But that half an ass is improvement so I'm counting it!

When K and I fall into our pattern of him watching something on TV while I hang out at my computer, I'm now making it a point to say "I'm not ignoring you, I'm just not interested in this program.  I'm here for interaction if you want to interact!"  Before, he would sit and watch TV and expect to understand that he was telepathically issuing me an invitation to join him and then he'd get all butthurt that I continued to entertain myself on the computer.  While how we spend our time hasn't changed a whole lot, we're communicating our intentions better so the hurt feelings or the feeling of being ignored is going away.

I'm actually getting some laundry folded and getting more dishes in and out of the dishwasher so I've improved on my housework resolution.  Still not where I should be but as long as improvement becomes a habit, that's good.  We cleared two boxes of random baby stuff and took it to the consignment store.  They returned about half of it which I haven't gone through yet, so I don't know what we got back.  The hoarder in me hates that!  It's perfectly good stuff that someone in the world could use, but getting it listed for sale somewhere is a pain in the ass so it all just stacks up in a corner.  I don't want to throw it out because I see dollar signs hitting the trash, but I don't want to deal with the process of exchanging the stuff for actual dollars.  Getting it back also has a hint of insult.  What?  My stuff isn't good enough for you?  

The girls had their 18 month check up (at 19 months) and the doctor says everything is looking good!  They are still on the low end of the charts (21lbs12oz and 22lbs2oz) but they are on them!  We filled out a questionnaire regarding behaviors and milestones and so far pretty much the only thing they don't do a whole lot of is pretend play.  We realized that we have a ton of sensory toys, but not many toys that facilitate pretend, so off to the consignment store to shop their 50% off toys sale!  Picked up a play kitchen for $15 and set it up where they can watch me cook (ha!) while they play at the kitchen.  So far they are more exploring than pretending, but it's a start!  The pretend remote control I got them is a BIG hit and helps protect our real remote from grubby little hands.

What those plates are that you see scattered around - sensory toys.  I went to the fabric store and got a massive number of scraps with different textures because the girls like those books that have a spot of fabric to represent lambs wool or kitten fur.  My intention was to make a big sensory book, but I couldn't quite figure out how to make a book work so I sewed the scraps onto paper plates.  They seem to enjoy playing with them, and I've decided they now live in the oven of the play kitchen.

The doctor says that our balance of nutrition is spot on which thrills me to no end.  I'm so addicted to carbs and crap that it's almost an obsession to me to make sure the girls develop a taste for healthy foods and that things are balanced correctly.  The girls now have a tray of snacks available throughout the day so they can graze a bit.  I'm trying to find things other than cereal and raisins to keep available but finding foods that aren't choking hazards will clean up relatively easily is a challenge.  I'm now sometimes giving them wafer thin carrot strips (if left unfound in a corner somewhere, they dry out rather than turn to jelly), kale chips, and some protein mini cookies I found in the natural foods section of the grocery store.  Ok, so they're still getting a lot of cereal and raisins, but I'm trying to mix it up!  I'm actually surprised that they'll snack on the kale chips.

Teeny Tiny is suddenly free flowing with affection.  I'm getting all sorts of kisses and she's learned to blow kisses.  We're constantly getting snacks fed to us.  Middie Biddie is obsessed with playing "kerplop" which is a game where I sit on the floor surrounded by various pillow things like oversized stuffed animals and then I toss a child onto the pillow while saying "kerplop".  As long as I've got my back against the couch and am surrounded on all three sides by pillows, I'm able to keep both girls entertained and giggling for quite a while.

Our first swim lesson went really well.  The girls were the youngest in the class since the age cut off is 18 months.  My dad came along and hung out at the edge of the pool taking video with his phone like a creeper, but it was nice having a third pair of hands help us out in the locker room afterwards.  Yeah, we gotta streamline the showering and getting dressed portion of that activity.  30 minutes in the water followed by 35 minutes of getting kids out of the water and out the door is not an acceptable balance to me.  We got a couple of cheap umbrella strollers and bathrobes so I think from now on we'll just get them showered, get a fluffy bathrobe on them, strap 'em down, get ourselves dressed and go.  The drive is literally three minutes so they can be kind of naked but covered in the car until we get them home to get them properly dressed.  Trying to accomplish that in a family locker room that seems to have an inch of water all over the entire floor doesn't work.  Teeny Tiny made everyone laugh at the end of class.  The instructor pulled out a mat that floats on the water and had the kids walk across it and jump to their parent.  Teeny Tiny decided that she really needed to explore the middle of the mat, and plunked herself down perfectly happy to hang out right there.

Last night I got a great affirmation that I'm doing ok at this parenting thing.  Teeny Tiny was laughing in her sleep!  We just suddenly heard this laughter coming over the monitor and when we looked, she was completely asleep just giggling and laughing.  Middie Biddie often talks in her sleep too and it sounds like happy chatter.  If my girls have so much happiness in them that they need to let some of it out in their sleep, we must be doing something right!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Years Resolutions

Sorry I haven't been around much.  We've had the plague and I've just been dead tired.  Today I finally woke up feeling mostly over it so I hope this is the end of illness for a while.

K and I had a talk last week where a lot of what I've been hiding came to light.  I talk a big game, but the truth is I'm pretty much afraid all the time.  Nothing specific, just a general feeling of fear about everything.  Afraid of failure, of making a fool of myself, being somewhere without having brought something I need, just a general fear of doing wrong.  He knew this was in me of course, but not to the extent that it paralyzes me. I'm somewhat agoraphobic.  As a result, I've become a computer addict.  I can hide behind my keyboard and no one will know if I do something stupid.  I can present myself however I want to be perceived and not make a whole lot of mistakes that will mess with that perception.  I don't even do a whole lot of housework because I'm afraid of throwing away something I might need, ruining something by trying to clean it, burn dinner, etc etc.

The goal this year is to be better.  K and I have talked about various ways that he can help me be better without just doing things for me.  For example, if we have a flexible meal plan for the week, I'm more likely to make a real dinner because I know I'm not using up something that was purchased for something specific, I'll remember to defrost things in time to actually use them, stuff like that.

I finally got the girls and I signed up at the Y and we're starting swimming lessons for the girls next week.  Ok, I know most people don't understand why that's a big deal for me.  Going to the Y seems like a pretty easy thing to do, but here's what runs through my head when I think about that first swim lesson.  What time do we need to arrive?  How will K and I wrangle the girls in the locker rooms?  Oh crap, I need to get a lock for the lockers.  Where do I put valuable things like my phone?  Do I really feel it's secure in the locker room?  Ok, how much showering is required before going into the pool?  Do I need to soap down?  Is the locker room shower a naked thing or can I shower in my bathing suit?  The girls have never been in a shower, will they panic or pitch a fit?  I'll need to bring shampoo for them and wash their hair after so it doesn't turn green from chlorine.  They pitch major fits when we change diapers, how am I going to get them out of their swim diapers and get them dressed again without everyone thinking I'm beating my child because they are crying so hard?  How much of my body do I need to shave to not gross people out when I'm in a bathing suit.  Let's not even discuss how I'm too fat for a bathing suit to begin with.  Then of course there's the whole fear of keeping the girls safe in the water (we'll always have one parent per child, I won't be trying to keep twins safe by myself).

So you see what my brain does to paralyze me and prevent me from doing the simplest things?  This is how I need to be better.  We're going to work on this ourselves and if I don't begin to feel safer pushing my very tight boundaries, we're going to look into counseling for me.  I don't want to pass this on to the girls.  I already see it a little bit.  The house is full of boundaries and whenever I open those boundaries up, they are SOOOO hesitant to cross them.  That's good in a lot of ways, but then again, I don't want them enclose themselves as tightly as I have as an adult.

So here are the resolutions.

1)  Reduce my daily computer time.  No specifics on this, but reduce it to the point that I don't feel like an addict going through withdrawal whenever I'm not on it.

2)  By the end of the year, I want most of the baby gates to come down and to be teaching the girls "no" rather than simply blocking their ability to do anything they shouldn't be doing.  I'll spend the next year slowly expanding their access throughout the house.  So far, I've connected their two playrooms which effectively doubled their playing space.  My office (which is now one of their playrooms) has kind of a fence instead of a wall, so I took advantage of that and they now have a little hallway between rooms while keeping my desk inaccessible.

3)  Take the girls out at least once a week.  I'm terrified for when we go to the park because Teeny Tiny will gladly walk off with anybody so this is going to be a hard one for me.  I'm just not sure I can keep the girls safe in a place like a park, but we can't afford indoor play spaces and other organized things all the time either.  Gotta do some research on gated parks and ease into this one by doing it on K's days off so he can help.

4)  Focus more on teaching rather than doing everything for them.  First step, giving them a bowl and spoon rather than just feeding them their morning oatmeal.

5)  Put more effort into my online pottery shop.  To make this goal achievable, I'm basically going to pretend that the shop is only open for the holiday season and focus on fully stocking it and marketing it for a good 2014 Christmas season.  That gives me a lot of time to put that work in before being disappointed if it doesn't result in good sales.

6)  Do craft fairs next holiday season.  Put myself out there and face rejection in person.  Learn that rejection won't kill me.

7)  I'd like to have a part time job by next Christmas.  Difficult to find the right one as a stay at home mom, but I'm going to put more effort into making that happen.  If the pottery shop is successful enough to actually bring in a comparable income, I'll consider that my part time job.

8)  Spend an hour improving the house every day.  Most days, this will just be standard housework, but I also need to work on purging baby stuff and finding places for things to go that have been sitting out getting in the way for a long time.

9)  K and I need to spend more time together.  We hide behind our computers and don't interact as much as we should.  Even on date nights, we don't have much to talk about because I don't really do anything during the day.  I catch him up on the girls and that's about it.  I'm not sure how to go about breaking our habits and start amusing each other again, but we're going to put in the effort.

10)  This is a big one.  One that addresses just about every fear I have.  Fear of rejection, of looking stupid, of diving into something I know nothing about, fear of failure.  I'm going to try to write a book and probably self publish it on Amazon.  I'll likely repackage the first two years of this blog and present it as a book of my miscarriage and infertility experience.  The big thing I have to get past - It takes a lot of arrogance to think that anyone would be even remotely interested in reading anything I have to say.  Others have had it worse than me, what makes my story worthy of reading?  Every day I'm going to try to fight that negative self talk and do it anyway, even if I'm a big fat jerk face for being so conceited.

So that's how I'm going to try to be better.  A few tangible things to work on to try to improve the intangible issues that I'm living with.