Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sleep Part Nine: 'Twas The Night Before Leaving

'Twas the night before leaving to get on a flight.
The boys were put down on a cold winter's night.
We'd fed them with milk and cereal too.
We'd rocked them and kissed them and said, "I love you."

Derek went to bed, while the night shift I took
As I packed up my suitcase into their room I looked
No crying.  No fussing. Sweet dreams filled their heads.
So about 1:00 a.m. I crawled into bed.

In the morn I saw Derek. "What time did they wake?"
He looked at me puzzled.  His head he did shake.
"I planned to ask you the very same thing!"
It was then that we think we heard angels sing!

It appears to be true.  The boys slept through the night.
Eight or nine hours! Oh, what a delight!
Their daddies were happy...no...thrilled is the word.
A full night of sleep is a night that's preferred. 

Since that beautiful morn on December eighteen
We have had fewer wake ups from our two jumping beans.
It's not every night that we don't hear a peep.
But it seems they are learning the value of sleep!

Can you believe it???  After almost 9 months Derek and I are starting to get sleep again.  We don't always have a totally quiet night.  Sometimes we get up to give a little water (or even milk if they're really inconsolable).  Last night was horrible.  Aaron awoke and screamed and fussed for about an hour -- twice!  But we're having more and more nights of waking up just to replace a pacifier, giving them a kiss and a five minute cuddle and watching them fall back to sleep.  I'm starting to feel human again.  I'm remembering what it's like to be happy to wake up in the morning.  I guess when the babies realized the world wasn't going to end on December 21st like the Mayans predicted they decided they could afford to sleep more and see things just in the daytime. 

Although I'm a little late, we wanted to wish you all happy holidays.  Here are some pictures of us celebrating Hannukah and Christmas.





Friday, December 28, 2012

Sleep Part Eight: No Milk For You!

Oops...I forgot to post this.  I wrote this about a week and a half or two weeks ago.  I think it was on December 14th.  Here's another update on sleep.

So we're coming up on nine months old and the babies still aren't sleeping through the night.  However, we have improvement.  Here's an update.

A week or two ago I decided that Daddy was tired of these overnight feedings.  As I mentioned before we have tried giving them more milk, less milk, water, cluster feedings, extra food before bed and nothing seems to work.  One night I decided that they just weren't going to get any milk overnight and I'd see what would happen.  I work as an interpreter and I had recently interpreted for a parent with a baby several months younger than mine.  The doctor said that by 3-4 months babies have enough fat that they can make it through the night without any feedings.  "What???"  I thought.  "These babies have been duping me for half their lives now!" 

So one night, when the boys woke up, I just picked them up, gave them a pacifier and rocked them back to sleep.  I was surprised how well it worked.  It took five minutes for them to calm down but the crying didn't continue as long as I thought. 

Some of you more experienced parents may be saying, "duh...that's how you do it" but I'll tell you that I have tried this method every month or so and usually the crying continued and got louder minute by minute until a bottle made its way into the screaming mouth.

So we haven't had 100% success, but we're getting there.  We are getting longer stretches of sleep and we're able to get them back to sleep quickly (and without milk) pretty often.  Derek and I are getting closer and closer to a full night of sleep.

And if anyone wants to tell me about how sleeping patters get worse from time to time, save it for 2013.  This is the holiday season when we all hope our dreams will come true.  Let me live in my fantasy world that in the next month or so I'll be getting 8 hours of sleep every night for years and years to come! 

Also, for those of you who commented on my recent crawling post, Derek and I did have a baby gate and knew that was the best solution.  We were hoping we wouldn't have to hop over a gate every time we went into the bathroom, but after 2-3 days of Jeff's fascination with a litter box we gave up and installed the gate.  Now Jeff tries to scale the gate.  After just a short time of it being up you can see his tiny foot lift up and search for a foothold as he clings onto the gate hoping not to plop on his butt since he is balancing on one foot.  It's pretty cute.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Adventures In Crawling

It's official.  We have two crawlers now.  Aaron has been crawling for a while.  It has been kind of a crude crawl/drag/hip swivel type movement, but he has been mobile for a while.  Jeff recently became mobile and started crawling very well.  He went from barely moving to somehow crawling the length of our apartment in a minute within a few days.  I guess Aaron then saw that if he didn't swing his leg around the side and kept his knees on the ground he would crawl faster too.  All of a sudden Aaron's awkward slither/scoot/wriggle became a very efficient crawl too.

A couple days ago I felt like Indiana Jones.  You know that scene when he is running through the ruins (I think he was in some ruins...isn't he always searching ruins?) and he loses his famous hat?  Remember?  He reaches under a quickly closing door and grabs his fedora, his most prized possession, at the last second?  Well, I'm like that now.

Apparently little babies learn which rooms they shouldn't enter and decide to have an affinity for those places.  Jeff's favorite place is the bathroom where we keep the kitty litter.  We have to keep the door open so the cats can use their litter box and we have to keep the door closed so that our little munchkins don't get into the litter.  This is like one of those 8th grade logic problems.  You know the type.  It's like the problem when you have a goat, a wolf and a head of lettuce to get across a river.  There is an answer, but you have to be creative about it.
A couple days ago I was washing bottles.  I was keeping an eye on the little ones, but the reality is that my attention had to be split a little bit.  Jeff was at one end of the apartment happily banging toys together.  I washed a bottle.  I looked at Jeff and he was now clapping and smiling.  So cute.  I washed another bottle.  I saw Jeff rocking on all fours smiling at Aaron.  Adorable.  I wash anot --- oh $#*! -- Jeff is suddenly at the bathroom door!  How did he get there???

I threw down the bottle I was washing, turned off the water, ripped off the rubber gloves, ran over to my speed demon and scooped him up at the last second just before his hand hit the litter mat. 

Aaron can be just as devlish.  I swear I turned my back for two seconds to make a bottle for lunch and somehow the little munchkin disappeared from right before my eyes.  Then I heard a wail.  He had crawled between the legs of a kitchen chair.  It's funny to watch him crawl when something gets in his way.  He doesn't quite know how to get over obstacles yet.  Every once in a while he manages to struggle his way over a pillow or a diaper bag, but it's more luck than skill.  This time he got his upper body across one of the little bars at the base of a chair and then didn't know how to get his head back out or his legs across to the other side.  He got stuck in there for a few seconds.  I had to maneuver the chair around his body while holding him, made sure I didn't bump his head and quickly got a bottle into his mouth.  This was just like Indy removing that statue and replacing it with an equally weighted rock so as to not trip a booby trap.

Yeah...I'm just like Indiana Jones.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving -- A Few Days Late

I had a lovely Thanksgiving and of course I have so much to be thankful for this year.  My kids ate jars of potato & spinach and chicken & sweet potato last Thursday for the holiday.  Those were the closest flavors I could find to a Thanksgiving dinner of mashed potatoes and turkey.  We didn't actually take pictures the day of Thanksgiving.  It was pretty  much a normal day for them and our normal Thanksgiving tradition of spending it with a good friend of mine from college and his wife and daughter.  However, since the boys just turned eight months old we took their eight month pictures a couple days ago.  Here they are.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Truth, The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth

A few years ago I made the decision to start the surrogacy process as a single guy.  After years of dating I gave up trying to find a partner in life and decided that being a dad was a more important goal than finding a husband.  I knew that fatherhood alone would be hard.  Well...I thought it would be hard.  I didn't know what hard was.

My parents and my brother are on the east coast and I'm in Chicago.  I love Chicago.  It feels like my home.  I have spent almost my entire adult life in Chicago and several years of my childhood.  I had hoped that I'd be able to be a single dad here in Chicago raising my son or daughter fully knowing that it would be a lot harder without family nearby.

The idea of twins rarely entered my head as I started this process.  I knew twins was a possibility, but when I envisioned myself as a dad I saw myself cuddling one child, driving that one child to play rehearsals and taking that one child to Disney World.

During the surrogacy process I met someone and we are engaged now and hoping to get married soon (if these stupid, discriminatory laws will ever change -- but that's a topic for another day).  The truth is I don't know what I would have done had I not met him.  Even with two of us I am exhausted, stressed and overwrought.  I can barely function some days after being up only half the night while he takes the other half.  When the crying is too much for me to take I have someone who can give me a break.  When we need formula because we're almost out he can watch the kids when I run to the store.  When I have washed 4,218 bottles and I don't want to wash one more I wake up the next morning to find all of the dirty bottles cleaned.

Two weeks ago I got sick.  Very, very sick.  On Sunday I was so sick I could barely get out of bed all day.  I think about the fact that I went to a walk in clinic on Saturday and didn't have to lug my kids with me because Derek watched them.  I think about the fact that for 4 nights I was able to sleep all night (and half the day) because Derek took care of them.  Had I not met Derek I can't imagine taking care of two kids 24/7 while have a sore throat, muscle aches, fever and chills.  I have no idea how I would have done it.  And Derek did it all without asking me to lift a finger.  He did an amazing job.

I have a lot more respect for single parents now.  I have one friend who is a single mom of twins and I am in awe of how she has survived two plus years with them.  I have other single parent friends who have dealt with evil ex-es, gravely sick kids in hospitals, huge life changes and I now am blown away by how they conquered tough situations AND took care of kids on their own. 

So this Thanksgiving I am grateful to have Derek.  Had I been doing this alone I would have had less time with the kids, more stress, less sleep, less money, more worries, and more meltdowns.  When Derek offers help I have to remember that we are doing this as a team and it's OK to not do it all on my own.  There are times when I get angry that he wants to help and it's because I want to prove to the world that I could have done this on my own had he not entered my life.  The truth? -- maybe I could have poorly survived parenthood because you figure out a way to deal with what life gives you, but I would not be as good of a parent as I am.  I would not have time at home with the boys to watch them grow and figure out the world.  Without Derek the twins would not have eaten squash, known the joy of a Johnny Jumper, be with a great pediatrician and have as many pictures and videos to celebrate their lives. 

So thank you, Derek, for entering my life, taking this wild parenthood ride with me, enriching the lives of Aaron and Jeff and making my dreams come true.



Aaron is standing!


Jeff has teeth!


Friday, November 2, 2012

The First Halloween

I've been catching up on my blogs today and I've been looking at adorable kids in adorable costumes from Halloween.  I love opening up the blogs and seeing pictures that make me smile.  Then I realized that I haven't shared my Halloween pictures yet.

Derek and I thought about being twin Popeyes with twin Sweepea babies.  After looking at the costumes online, though, we weren't sure that the Sweepea costumes would fit our boys.  They only come as buntings and my kids are right on the cusp of outgrowing them.  So after some thought we came up with these costumes.  Hope you like them.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sleep Part Seven: Teething

If you have been reading my blog you know that sleep does not come easily to my little munchkins.  We have tried everything short of crying it out to get these kids to sleep through the night.  Not much has worked.  Little by little, however, we get glimmers of hope.  During the daytime we notice that the boys can sometimes wake up from their naps and be content to play for a half hour stretching their time between feedins to three and a half hours.  There are some nights in which one of the boys will go four or even five (or dare I say it...si--...no...I dare not say it) hours between feedings.  I do believe that their bodies will adjust as their needs change and we are getting closer to sleeping through the night as the weeks go by.  I woke up this morning and asked Derek when Aaron was fed and it wasn't until 5:00 a.m. which means he ate about 9:00 p.m. and slept for almost 8 hours!  The boys were fed twice before bed and maybe we have to be more diligent about that. 

A few nights ago things were bad.  Jeff has been teething for some time.  He would often wake up, take his bottle, go to sleep and wake up within an hour screaming.  Poor little guy was not happy and I'd often have to rock him back to sleep in my arms praying that his cries wouldn't wake up Aaron.  Aaron is a couple weeks behind Jeff in the teething department so I'm dreading the nights in a few weeks.  We have tried teething rings, frozen washcloths, homeopathic medicine, crackers and more but the boys are just cranky these days.  Luckily pacifiers seem to keep them calm so that's our main defense. 

These next few weeks (or mont---no...I dare not say it) are going to be rough.  It seems like there are two steps forward and one step back now.  At least that's better than my previous posting of two steps back and one step forward.

And I will say that as much as I covet sleep, I now do the nighttime feeds and then hold them on my chest for 10-15 minutes when they're done and let them fall asleep on me before putting them back in their cribs.  I'm realizing the time for that is getting shorter and there is something peaceful and wonderful about letting your child dream on you while kissing the top of his head. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sleep Part Six: Vegetables

The twins are more than six months old and according to our doctor that means real food.  I was nervous and excited to feed them vegetables a few weels ago.  Most thrilling, however, was the anticipation that more food would fill their tummies and make them sleep better.

The verdict?  It doesn't help.

The boys are still waking up every three hours, although we do get reprieves from time to time.  Last night we got about 4 hours between feedings.  That extra hour helps a lot, but I still can't wait for 6-8 hours of full sleep again.

I also was talking with a saleswoman yesterday who has a baby around the same age.  She said her daughter wakes up about midnight, 2:00 a.m. and then 5:00 a.m.  Another couple said at nine months they finally let their daughter cry it out.  For every two or three "my-daughter-started-sleeping-14-hours-a-night-at-three-months-old" story (yes, my co-worker's daughter sleeps 7am-9pm every night) I hear other kids are up several times a night.  Seems like, even at six months, we're not alone which makes me feel better. 

So the food may not help with sleep, but at least we get some cute pictures.  We have tried avocados, squash, carrots and green beans which are pictured below.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pictures!

Does anyone remember film?  No, not film like movies.  Like film...for a 35 mm camera.  Does anyone even remember 35 mm cameras?  Do you remember that you would get a roll of 12, 24 or 36 pictures and have to go to a store - like those Kodak kiosks - drop off your film and wait a couple days to see the pictures?  As a kid I would hope that my finger didn't cover half the shot or that my picture wasn't fuzzy from being out of focus.  Now we have ridiculously smart cameras that do everything for you and give instant access to your photo.  To me, it's both a blessing and a curse.  It's great because you can take as many pictures as you want until you get the right one.  It's bad because you can take as many pictures as you want until you get the right one.  I sometimes have 12 pictures of my kids doing the same thing hoping that their eyes will be at just a little more open or the smile will be just a little bit better.  After getting the perfect picture then I have to worry about cropping, red eye reduction, borders, lighting, saturation, captioning, and more.  After shooting gobs of pictures in a week does anyone actual print them???

I have photos of me from when I was a baby that are in a picture album.  Photos from old fashioned film!  As a kid I would look at them, touch them, and rearrange them.  I remember reading that kids are losing their histories and identities because we don't print photos any more.  There is nothing for them to hold.  Digital pictures and pictures printed directly on the paper don't give kids that same connection that I had growing up.  So I was determined to print actual pictures and make albums for my kids.

It's harder than I thought.

In today's digital age printed photo books are cheaper, easier and faster than printing out actual photos.  Nevertheless, I was (and still am) determined to make at least some photo albums with actual printed pictures.

Derek and I bought frames for the boys that have a space for twelve photos - one for each month of the child's first year.  I figured if we did this we would have to print some photos and I'd get my wish of having pictures the kids can touch.  The space for the photo is maybe 1" x 2".  I guess you're just supposed to take a close up of your child's face. 

Well, we don't do boring pictures in our house.  The pictures we are taking won't fit in that tiny oval because of our creative set decoration.  Yes, that's right.  We do set decoration.  There are shopping lists of props and costumes.  We scout out locations.  Yes, that's right.  We shoot on location.  So the pictures won't look great in the frame because you can't see everything.  But now I get to make an album for each kid with their monthly photos!  After six months I wanted to share these pictures with you.  I don't share a ton of pictures.  I don't yet know how I feel about posting my children's entire lives online, but these are too cute to not share with my blog fans.   


 April Showers


 May Flowers



Happy Father's Day
 
  


July 4th
 



Final Days of Summer
 




 Back to School

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Music Classes

Derek and I decided that it was time to get these babies out into the real world more.  Don't get me wrong.  It's not like we keep them in a "Baby in a Box" contraption.  But when I'm home alone with infant twins it is hard to get them out of the house at a specific time for an appointment.  Between feeding schedules, nap schedules, 16(?)-ish pound babies in 8 pound car seats plus diaper bags filled with burp cloths, extra clothes, pacifiers, bottles, formula and more just getting out of the house is a workout.  Who needs a gym???

A couple weeks ago we started checking out classes for babies.  We found out we could take a free Gymboree class.  I wasn't really sure what to expect.  At five months old I didn't know if the babies would enjoy a class and how they would respond to it. 

All I can say is I wish we started these classes two months ago!

Jeff and Aaron loved the class.  They each loved different things which just proves how different there personalities are.  Most of the time one boy was fascinated by the activity while the other was bored and when the next activity started their reactions would flip.  The class had singing, massage, a parachute, bubbles, a mirror, a puppet and more.  Watching the kids smile and giggle was so exciting for Derek and me.

The Gymboree schedule doesn't work very well for us right now.  As luck would have it a co-worker recommended another music program that she attends.  I was able to take the boys to a trial class about two weeks ago.  That program has a class about 6 blocks from our apartment.  It's a less yuppie than the Gymboree class we attended in the fancy part of town; the classes are in a church basement, not a posh gym with toys and artwork on the wall.  The classes are more research based.  I liked that the program includes harmonies. rhythm exercises, tonal patterns, instruments, and more.  I believe the teacher we'll be working with has a PhD in music cognition.  How crazy is it that PhDs work this program!

At this stage of their lives, though, any class is going to be fun and beneficial.  If you Google music and babies brain development you get tons of articles on the amazing benefits.  I can't wait to start.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sleep Part Five: Cereal vs. Formula

I do trust the medical profession.  I'm not someone who is suspicious of doctors.  After working with doctors for many years I believe a lot of them are lacking in communication skills, but nevertheless they are doing their best and want to help their patients.  With all their good intentions, though, I think sometimes doctors and nurses have no clue what they're doing!

At five and a half months Jeff and Aaron are still not sleeping through the night.  Is it better?  Yes.  There are times when we get four or even five hours without a feeding.  But some nights we're still on the every-three-hours feeding schedule as well as Aaron waking up once or twice between those feedings just because he...well...ummm...just because.  Yeah.  Just.  Because. 

After 167 days of four and a half hours of sleep each night I called the doctor yet again to ask what to do.  When you call with a question during the day you usually get connected with a nurse.  The nurse I talked to was nice.  She seemed genuinely sympathetic.  She understood why I was frustrated.  Here was her advice:

1) They shouldn't be needing bottles overnight.
I know...tell that to THEM!

2) You should give them cereal.
Against the American Academy of Pediatrics' advice (but in following my doctor's advice) we've been giving them cereal two times a day since they were about four months old and they still want to eat every three hours...or two and a half hours.

3) You should wake them up at about 9:00 p.m. if they don't wake up on their own for a final feeding before you go to bed.
When I wake them up and try to feed them they take an ounce or two and then fall asleep.  Plus, how does waking them at 9:00 and feeding them do anything?  All it does is make my feeding schedule become 9:00pm, 12:00am, 3:00am and 6:00am instead of 10:00pm, 1:00am, 4:00am and 7:00am.  Plus I run the risk of having a cranky baby. 

4) Are you sure they are actually hungry?  Do they actually take a bottle?
Yes, they take a full five ounce bottle.  We even tried giving them six ounces for a few days.  The nurse told me that six ounces was too much.  Again, tell that to THEM, nurse!

And my favorite...

5) Give them an extra tablespoon of cereal before bed and that will end the night feedings.
Really?  Two tablespoons of mush a day isn't sufficient but a third will solve all of our problems?  Ummm...did you not hear that we already give them cereal?  We do one during breakfast time and one around dinner time and after those feedings we still have crying babies two and a half to three hours later.

To recap: my children should know that they shouldn't be waking for several feedings in the middle of the night, feeding them 15-18 ounces at night isn't good and apparently one tablespoon of cereal should take the place of three bottles.  Oh, and I remember being told that babies know how to regulate themselves so we shouldn't force them to be on our schedule, but apparently that changed at some point even though I wasn't told. 

Got it.

By now I've learned to make peace with the fact that I haven't slept for months.  It has been going on for so long I don't know what I'd do with a real night of sleep.  When I finally do sleep I think it will be weird.  Tomorrow I'll be staying at a hotel (in a king size bed!) for a conference and we'll see if my body automatically wakes up every few hours.  Maybe the opposite will happen and I'll sleep for 24 hours straight and miss giving my presentation!

As hard as this is, I really do believe that babies do what their bodies tell them to do.  If that means they still need to eat every few hours, so be it.  For now, I think Derek and I will just stick to what we know how to do and what our babies tell us they need.  I'm also sticking to my theory -- doctors sometimes have no clue what they're doing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Warning: Dirty Content

Date: Monday, September 10th, 2012
Time: Approximately 9:45 a.m.
Location: Chicago (my home)
Participants: Michael and Aaron
Gross out factor from 1-10: 11
Comedy rating from 1-10: 10

It was Monday morning and the kids were their usual mix of crabbiness and sweetness, but I was OK with that.  I was determined to have a good day.  I had had an enjoyable weekend and got to spend some time with Derek.  We had yummy, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in the house that I ate for breakfast because the morning had a little more crabbiness than sweetness.  I planned on opening a new toy that day and playing with bubbles which was exciting.  The apartment was full of positive energy -- and chocolate.

Mid-morning I decided to change Aaron's bulging, wet diaper.  I opened the tape on his diaper and slid it out from under his bottom.  I saw that there was just a little, itty-bitty bit of poo in the diaper.

"That's weird," I thought to myself.  "That's not really a bowel movement.  It's too small to consider it a real poop.  I wonder--"

And then it happened.

The rest of the poop came flying out while his diaper was half off.  Luckily the diaper was close enough to his butt that half the poop landed in the diaper.  The other half, however, landed on the changing table cover. 

"Ewwww," I thought.  "Get a baby wipe and get it quickly!"

I reached for a baby wipe and started trying to contain the mess.  I was trying to clean his butt and the changing table cover and hold his feet so they didn't land in the yuckiness and make it worse.

WHOA!

Next thing I know there is pee shooting up and landing on Aaron's head.  Body functions were going wild and my brain started to panic.

"Cover the pee pee," my brain said as instinct kicked in.  "But wait.  Cover it with what?  The baby wipe has poop all over it.  Don't touch the pee pee with the poo poo.  Think, Michael, think!...I've got it.  Get another baby wipe...and stay calm."

As I reached over to get a baby wipe another stream of pee cascaded up in a perfect arc and landed on little Aaron's hair and face.  My little man didn't cry, he just looked shocked trying to figure out what was causing this rain on his face while he was still indoors.

I got a baby wipe and started wiping his face to make sure none got in his eyes or mouth.  But I neglected to cover the butt again.  Sure enough another round of poop came flying out of the back door.

This is when my life started to feel like those cartoon characters who is trying to plug up a dam and every time they plug one whole another hole appears.


I covered the front end with a clean wipe as I tried to clean all the poop.  After winning the battle from behind I decided to attack from the front again.  As soon as that wipe was taken off the third and final attack on Aaron's hair came.  By now my poor baby had poop on his clothes and pee in his hair and was naked from the waist down while in shock. 

That was it.  There was no saving this child with wipes.  I had to bring out the big guns.  I got his onesie off, ran to the bathroom with him and jumped in the shower to rinse him off.  Only after getting in the shower did I realize that I forgot baby soap and a towel for him.  Clearly I would not do well under enemy fire if I ever find myself in a real battle.

After a few minutes in the shower Aaron was as clean again.  We got out of the shower and I wrapped him up in my bathrobe and dressed him as quickly as possible.  Needless to say I needed another chocolate chip cookie for all my hard work.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What Will They Be?

Do you remember the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons on TV?  I do.  I loved them.  And for the last 6(?) years I've been a part of a children's touring company that performed a show based on those songs.  The creators of the show have had great success.  The show has been playing around the country and touring for, I think, almost 20 years.  I love the songs so much I bought the four Schoolhouse Rock CDs many years ago.  The four CDs are America Rocks, Science Rocks, Math Rocks and Grammar Rocks. 

The musical, called Schoolhouse Rock Live!, made it to off-Broadway for a run several years ago.  My friend, Melissa, went to go see it with her friend.  She told me an interesting story.  Melissa watched the show and remembered all the political songs like "I'm Just A Bill" and "The Preamble."  Melissa was (I think I have this right) an international studies major.

Melissa's friend couldn't remember the political songs but sang along to "Conjunction Junction," "Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here" and other songs about language.  I believe she was an English major.

I have no recollection of the math songs except that the song about eights was creepy.  To this day I have no interest in math.  I can do it, but I don't like it.  Science, however, I love but I can't do.  Most of the science songs are familiar to me but I don't know the words.  The category I know best is the English songs.  It makes sense considering I'm an interpreter who loves linguistics.

I am starting to really believe that, from a very early age, we start to develop likes and dislikes that last our entire lives.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because I'm making a prediction.  Just for fun, I'm going to see if anything that I'm sensing in Jeff and Aaron continue for years to come.

Jeff is sensitive.  When he was born he cried a lot and I joked that it was because he was so sensitive, not because he was fussy.  Now that he's a little older I think he really is a sweet baby and truly is sensitive.  He loves to be held and he nuzzles into my neck a lot.  He likes to have things to stimulate him, but he can also be content to relax on the boppy for a little bit.  Derek moved the baby camera and thinks Jeff immediately noticed it was moved because he pays attention to details.  We think he can talk with dolphins because his cooing and vocal noises are high pitched and sweet.

Aaron has tons of energy.  A few days ago at 1:00 a.m. he had a bottle and then decided to wriggle his way across my lap while smiling.  He is definitely vocal when he doesn't like things like leaving him with nothing to do for a long time.  He loves playing in his activity center.  His eyes pop out of his head all the time to look at things going on around him and find new experiences.  He has an adorable laugh and I've been told by several people that his entire face is so expressive and just lights up when he smiles. 

So will Jeff become a marine biologist who works with orphaned dolphins?  Will Aaron become a globe trotting ophthalmologist?  Only time will tell.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Elephants on Acid

Did that title grab your attention?  Are you wondering what elephants and acid have to do with babies and fatherhood?  Read on to find out.

I believe that real life is stranger than fiction.  I love reading about all the crazy things that happen in this world.  I recently went to the library and took out a book for fun.  Believe it or not I'm reading for pleasure.  It's exciting to do something that makes me feel like a human being again!  Anyway, this book is all about bizarre experiments that were conducted in the name of science.  They're wacky, but they really were done with good intentions. 

The book describes all sorts of crazy experiments like...
  • Can you fall asleep with your eyes open?  (It's possible)
  • Do cats sleepwalk?  (They can)
  • Will people gamble more smelling something pleasant than smelling nothing?  (They will)
  • Can humans and apes mate?  (???...the experiment was never completed1)
  • Will Lassie get help when an owner is in trouble?  (Don't count on it)
  • Can you eat an animal and pick up their memory?  (Doubtful...but not totally impossible)
There is also a section on babies.  Here are some of the experiments...
  • If you let children eat what they want will they eat a well balanced diet?  (Yes...but this study only offered healthy food.  No Oreos, hot dogs or ice cream.  If the kids ate enough food they would have a balanced diet.)
  • Is laughter an innate response to tickling or is it learned?  (It seems laughter is a natural response to tickling but the experimenter's wife had a few laspses where she smiled while bouncing their baby and that tainted the experiment.)
  • If a chimp is reared like a human will she develop like a human?  (No!  Chimps are wild.  Please don't ever try this experiment again!)
  • Can a box that includes a window for seeing the world, a heater, humidifier, air filter, canvas on rollers for the "floor" and insulated walls take care of a baby and reduce laundry, eliminate falls, prevent back injuries in parents and protect the baby from germs?  (Yes.  But when the study was published the magazine changed the title to "Baby in a Box" which made it a major turn off to society.)


While I don't plan on witholding laughter from my children, I did bring them in for their first experiment a couple weeks ago.  The kids went to the language lab at my alma mater.  If I ever go back to school to get my masters it would probably be in linguistics and I would study first or second language acquisition.  I'm fascinated by that so I support language experiments on babies.  I can't wait to see what kind of twin language they develop and if they develop twin sign language too.

During the test the kids looked at some pictures and listened to some sounds.  The experimenter didn't do a good job explaining the purpose of the test so I couldn't quite understand the goal.  I think the reasearch is seeing if kids can categorize at their age.  Regardless, it was good to get out and give me kids an experience.  We don't let them watch TV so it was probably like a little treat to watch pictures on the screen.  Plus, we got books and a t-shirt.  Here they are sporting their rewards.



Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You've Known My Kids For Over Two Years

I have a very good and very funny friend who recently said something shocking to me.  After talking about her favorite game to play with kids called "Who Can Keep Their Eyes Closed The Longest?" (a game at which she is an expert and my kids are still novices) she joked about how much she is in love with these kiddies of mine and how much that surprises her.  Don't get me wrong, she's not a mean person and she doesn't hate kids by any means.  She just isn't the type of person who typically gushes over babies.  She then went on to say that she feels like she has been a part of these babies' lives for a few years.  And you know what?  She's right.  She is one of my friends who I turned to at the start of this whole process when I was scared and overwhelmed.  She helped me face my fears and continue with this journey filled with life altering decisions of surrogates, egg donors, doctors, lawyers and more.  She really has had a large part in helping these kids come into my life.  She half-joked that with straight couples you usually find out about their babies 5-6 months before the baby is born.  My journey took over two years.  She experienced a lot of the waiting, hoping, anticipation, heartbreak and more with me.  It's something I hadn't thought about until now, but I think it's an important point.

It makes sense, though.  I'm so in love with babies who have been born in Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas, Georgia, Washington DC, Washington state and more even though I have never met them.  Following theses stories makes you emotionally involved and it's wonderful to know many people feel the same way about my children.

So to all of you who invested yourselves in my fatherhood adventure, thank you for being a part of my children's lives when they started as just a deposit to an agency, as they became more of a possibility after being matched with a surrogate and having a contract, when they were teeny, tiny 5-day old embryos, as they grew and prepared themselves to enter this world and now, as they grow up into amazing people. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sleep Part Four: I Like Explanations

I've always been envious of people who are funny writers.  I think I'm funny in person, but I'm not sure I'm a great comedic writer.  Yes, I've had a few blog entries that have made me proud, but sometimes my humor doesn't come across.  Tone can be hard to convey in writing. 

My blog entries about how little my children sleep are complaints.  Yes.  But they are complaining with a smile on my face.  I want to assure everyone I'm OK with how everything is going. 

I want to thank L at Baby Mama(s) Drama for mentioning sleep regression.  I Googled it and one article I found said...

At 3 or 4 months old, your baby is now sleeping more like an adult. Now when she falls asleep, she does not enter deep sleep right away and if you lay her down before she is in deep sleep, she is likely to wake up and you will start all over helping her to fall back to sleep again and again.
A child’s sleep cycle is about 45-50 minutes. So, your baby will briefly awake 45-50 minutes after she has been asleep.
 
Aha!
 
To me, this might explain why Aaron wakes up after about an hour with a huge shriek, why he can't fall asleep in his crib and has to fall asleep on me, and why Jeff doesn't fall right back asleep after a bottle in the middle of the night. 
 
Although I could be totally wrong. 
 
Who knows. 
 
These are babies we're talking about - unique, little people who function differently than everyone else on the planet.  For me, having a name or a theory about what is happening helps.  So for this week, we'll say it's a sleep regression issue.  In another week I'll say it's because we took them to a party and it messed up their schedule.  The week after that it'll be because it's September.  And the following week I'll say it's because Jupiter tilted 17 degrees to the left.  It's all OK.  Years from now, when my boys are grown up, I'll have some good stories to tell.  And you know the stories will get better and better each time I tell it.  By the time the kids are about 10 years old my story will go a little something like this...
 
I remember when you were four months old and you went through 93 bottles of formula a day and I was up for 217 hours straight.  You cried loud enough to wake the neighbors who lived three streets in every direction.  Your father and I held you in our arms non-stop for weeks, we spent thousands on toys, hundreds of hours researching sleep methods and even flew in a sleep expert from Sweden becuase we DO EVERYTHING FOR YOU.
 
Hey, I didn't go through labor so at least I have this. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sleep Part Three: Two Steps Backwards, One Step Forward



“No, no, no, Michael,” you’re thinking to yourself.  The phrase is “TWO steps forward, ONE step back.”

I know.  And I know what I said.

The last few nights seem worse.  How is this happening?  Aaron still isn’t going to sleep until late.  He stays up through naps and when he does nap he often naps for less than an hour.  You’d think he’d be tired by 9:00 p.m., but no.  Maybe 10:00 p.m.?  Ha!  Hopefully by 11:00 p.m. he’s in bed but that’s usually after screaming for a while.  I’m not quite sure what makes him finally fall asleep.  I’m sometimes not totally coherent after rocking, shushing, walking, and bouncing for two hours.  Last night he went to sleep about 10:00-something and an hour later I heard a shriek.  He does this too.  It seems he gets scared in the middle of his sleeping and calls out.  Usually, if you rush to him and stroke his head or chest you can get him back to sleep.  But take a few seconds too long and we’re back to the rocking, shushing, walking and bouncing for a while.  Aaron will only fall asleep on me.  That’s a great way to get him to close his eyes.  After 10, 15, 20 minutes (it doesn’t matter how long) of Aaron being deep in sleep his eyes pop open the first moment that I stand up to bring him to bed. 

The shrieks now wake up Jeff so that’s another reason to nip it in the bud.  Jeff will usually sleep a few hours between his feedings (3 hours on average, sometimes 2.5 hours but also 4 hours from time to time!) but isn’t always falling asleep right after the feedings now.  Last night I fed him about 12:30 a.m. and got smiles after the milk was gone.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love smiles from my babies, but in the middle of the night it’s all about business.  Don’t smile!  Smile means we’re having fun and this is not the time for fun.  This is the time for sleeping!  Yes, you're adorable, Jeff, but go back to sleep!

“You’re starving your baby by not giving him rice cereal.”

Yep.  I’ve heard that one from a lot of people.  One co-worker literally told me that I was starving my children.  At the last pediatrician’s appointment the doctor said to start giving them cereal.  We’ve been giving them cereal for the last week and a half.  Last night we made sure to give the boys cereal at their last feeding before bed.  Did it work?  Two and a half hours after that feeding I find myself with a two babies and two bottles.    (Sigh)

I know, in a few months I’ll miss this.  I’ll wish I got to hold my babies at night.  In my very first entry of this blog I said I’d use these entries to help me be grateful for what I have.  I know this entry seems like I’m complaining and I’ve lost sight of all the good that has happened.  I won’t make excuses.  I am complaining a little.  The sleep deprivation and screaming at 2 a.m. just get to a person after so many months.  I just need to...

Aaron just screamed after 20 minutes of sleeping.  He’s awake.  To be continued.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sleep...Part Deux

Four months, people.  It has been four months.  Four months of no sleep.  Four months of wondering when the boys will sleep.  Four months of constant feedings every 3 hours (or sometimes 2 1/2 hours).

At three months I wrote about sleep and was sure by now things would be different.  They're not much different.

I had no fear, though.  I knew that the boys had their four month check up coming up and that my amazing, brilliant and compassionate doctor would have the answers to more sleep.  I'll describe our appointment.*  It went something like this...

Michael: Hi Dr. L.  We need to talk about sleep.
Dr. L: Sure.  What's going on?
Michael: Well, the boys aren't sleeping.  They still feed constantly.  I thought by three months they were supposed to stretch out their feedings a little more.
Dr. L: Yes, that's true.  What's a typical feeding schedule?
Michael: Well, let's say their last feeding before bed is maybe 9:00pm.  Then there's a feeding at 12:00am, 3:00am and 6:00am. 
Dr. L: Well, the 9:00pm and 6:00am feedings don't count as overnight feedings.  So the fact that your boys are only waking up twice duirng the night is good.
Michael: (muffled talking due to falling on the floor and crying in the fetal position)

(20 minutes pass)

Derek: Ummmm...Michael...are you OK?
Michael: Yes, I just want a new doctor.

* - appointment may or may not have happened like this.  The recollection of this appointment may have been compromised due to lack of sleep.

The literature the doctor gave us said "by four months of age, most bottle-fed babies sleep more than seven hours without feeding."  So what the doctor tells you in the office and what the doctor gives you to read when you're home are vastly different.  It seems doctors have a get-out-of-jail-free card by just falling back on the whole "every baby is different" excuse and then they distract you with the "you're doing a great job" line so I feel all proud of myself and forget I'm mad at her for having no answers!

If these kids weren't so darn cute I may have been upset.  But when they smile and giggle and nuzzle into my neck I don't care that I haven't slept.  They're also starting to notice each other a lot more.  It's fun to put them on a play mat together and watch them watch each other.  Maybe I should put them on a play mat with a cat.  The cats sleep a lot.  Maybe the cats can teach them a thing or two about sleep.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, the last two or three nights have been a little easier.  Aaron is up until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. but then he is so exhausted he is starting sleeping longer stretches once in a while.  Jeff has been easy to get to sleep for a while now but I'm noticing he will sometimes sleep for longer than three hours as well.  I see progress!  Stay tuned.

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Twins Are Famous

Yes, it's true.  My twins and I are famous. 

Well, we're kind of known in the neighborhood.

OK...a bank teller and the CVS manager know us. 

But still...that's kinda like being famous, right?

A few weeks ago I ran into CVS to buy some formula and the manager asked how the twins were doing.  She said she hadn't seen them come into the store for a little while.  I thought, "Yes, shopping without two infants is so much faster plus I'm not loaded down with 73 lbs of formula, diapers, pacifiers, bottles, blankets, burp cloths, toys, extra outfits and a stroller the size of a small Hawaiian island" but refrained from saying it.  While we were talking a woman overheard us talking about twins and she told me she had 17 year old twin boys.  Then she asked to see pictures.  Wanting to see pictures of children you don't know only happens to celebrities, right?  Ergo, I am like a movie star.  :-)

Soon after that I went to the bank and one employee came up to me and asked how the boys were.  "They're great," I said feeling very proud that she knew my children after only a few short months on earth.  I don't think she remembered my kids because I tried to set up a custodial account for them TWICE and both times they wouldn't be calm enough for just 10 minutes to let me do it.  I don't think we're memorable because the crying was so bad (even with pacifiers) that we actually had to leave the bank..TWICE.  I'm going to go with the fact that they are so adorable and she knows them for their cuteness.  You be the judge.  Cute or not?


Monday, July 23, 2012

Thank You, Lesley Brown

As much as I'd like to take credit for a fascinating blog, I have to thank Derek for finding this article.  About a month ago the woman who conceived the first test tube baby, passed away.  Click on the link to learn more about Lesley Brown.

I thought the Today show piece was interesting to watch.  I then scrolled down to read some of the comments about this story.  There are a few people saying Lesley was playing G-d and trying to go against Mother Nature.  There are the usual arguments we hear about why this is unnatural or wrong, although at a quick glance it seems there are more people in support of this than not. 

One comment, however, struck me as beautiful.  Someone wrote that we often are born, live, and die without knowing the reason we are here on earth.  Lesley knew her purpose.  Because of her determination and courage to be a part of this revolutionary process as well as the genius of Dr. Patrtick Steptoe and Dr. Robert Edwards, I am able to have children today.  Thousands and thousands of people have been able to have the family they desire thanks to this amazing team.

I am grateful to live in a time when this is possible.  I am also grateful I live in a country which allows IVF.  I am grateful I live in a state in which surrogacy is legal.  I am grateful that I had the funds to do this.  I am grateful there are egg donors willing to help families like mine.  I am grateful I got to work with a sweet, dedicated and wondeful surrogate.  There are days when I'm still in shock that all of these things came together to produce two fantastic children. 

It is unfortunate there are still countries, states, policies and communities which deny people the joy of having a family.  Hopefully that will change.  Maybe one of these babies born through IVF will invent new technology or medicine for reproduction or become a lawmaker who knows firsthand the importance of allowing men and women to use this incredible knowledge we have and will fight for the right for everyone to have access to IVF treatments.  Or maybe, just maybe, a baby born through IVF will discover a cure for a widespread disease, a way to provide clean water to millions, or a new, environmentally friendly energy source which will help all of humanity -- even those naysayers.  Only time will tell.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Not-So-Secret Crushes

I, like a lot of people, sometimes get depressed about the state of the world today.  When you're up twenty hours a day and feeding babies at 2 a.m. in a dark, quiet room you can do a lot of thinking.  There are moments when I get scared about the world in which my kids will grow up.  The news talks about global warming, running out of gas, the cost of health insurance skyrocketing, famine, lack of drinking water...wait...I have to stop or I'll get more depressed.  You all can add your own depressing news to this list if you want.  I will focus on a few positive things I have found in this world.

Through my blogging I have developed a few secret crushes which are not-so-secret crushes after I publish this  now.  A lot of blogs have made me laugh.  A lot of blogs have made me cry out of both happiness and sadness.  There are blogs that have inspired me, educated me and guided me.  There are a lot of blogs that I love to read but I felt like I had to single out two of them.  One is a surrogate's blog.  One is a mother's blog.  At the risk of sounding melodramatic I can honestly say that when I see that there are people in the world like these two ladies I have hope that the world will be OK.  When I get sad about how we treat each other in this world I know that there are some selfless, strong, positive people still out there.  I hope my children surround themselves with people like these women.  Better yet, if I do my job right, my children will be selfless, strong and positive people.  I might have to think "WWVD?" (What would Veronika do?) or "WWBD?" (What would Bernadette do?) as I teach these children to find their place in the world.

The first blogger I have a crush on is Veronika who writes Sibling for Sophie Cleo.  It just makes my heart melt.  Veronika doesn't think what she is doing is anything extraordinary which makes her a truly extraordinary human being.  Read her story and click on the link in her blog to see the story of her IPs.
I also have a secret crush on Bernadette at Rasta Less Traveled.  I started reading her story half way through but from what I have picked up she has gone through more than anyone should have to endure to become a mother.  She has adorable twins now, one who left the NICU a while ago and one who has been there for 100 days.  Bernadette is constantly facing obstacles.  She is alone, in a foreign country with newborns, and she manages to keep a smile on her face and a sense of humor in her heart.  On my "bad days" (in my home, with my partner nearby, with healthy children...wait, if those are my bad days I am lucky!)  I think of how Bernadette has coped with such adversity and I gain strength from her and people like her.

So, dear Derek, it's true that I have many lady crushes through the internet such as Jesse, Chelle, Jeni, Tiffany, Andrea, Melissa, Tonya, L&S, and more.  There are even some guys who I love from afar like Michael, Tony, Kevin, Jeff, Doug, Bill, Ryan, Reuben, Jason, Adrian, and the list goes on.  But Bernadette and Veronika have a special place in my heart next to you, Derek.  They help me know that the world may be a rough place, but there are gems to be found.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Nursery

I have been following other people's blogs for probably about two years. I love seeing the nurseries people create.  For a long time I would imagine what I would do if I had a boy or a girl (or one of each!).  What theme would I do?  What colors would I pick?  How would I decorate it?

We moved five weeks after the twins were born so we knew we wouldn't have a nursery in our old place.  And, with newborn twins, we didn't have a lot of time to work on the nursery in our new place.  It took a while, but we've been adding to it slowly and trying to make it special for our kids. 

Derek and I are not the most fashion forward and trendy guys.  Whatever sense of fashion I might have developed waned about a dozen years ago when I started interpreting and my choice in clothing became grey pants with a black shirt or black pants with a grey shirt or, if I'm feeling sassy, black pants with a dark green shirt!  (I have to wear solid, dark colored clothing to contrast with my skin color so my clients can see my hands easily.  Interpreters have the most boring wardrobe and on days we don't work you can guarantee we'll be wearing our one and only shirt with stripes or polka dots.)

So our nursery may not be featured in a Martha Stewart magazine, but it's finally ready to be revealed to all of you.  It's nice to feel like the boys have a room of their own.



We had extra letter decals to let you know who owns the room. 
Notice the "No cats allowed" sign which was put up after a cat left a "present" in the Pack and Play one day.
The double Pack and Play is where the boys sleep...but they'll be too big for it soon.
Hopefully the boys will sleep in a crib soon.
Our closet is overflowing with baby supplies.

Our library is overflowing with books.
Signs from the baby shower & the party at Derek's work.


I love wall decals!


The leopard is watching over our boys while they sleep.

The gecko is stalking the butterfly.  Do geckos eat butterflies?  Who knows.  Who cares.  I just love the light switch cover.

We finally have a nursery!

Friday, July 6, 2012

What Is Parenthood Like? This Says It All

I copied this a little while ago and thought it was funny.  I can't remember where I got it from but I thought it was worth sharing.  My life often mirrors this list.  I have been trying to watch a movie for over a week and I'm only a little over an hour into it.  My phone conversations last anywhere from a minute to twenty minutes and usually end with, "Uh oh...the baby is starting to wak--" <click>.  I  only eat food that can be eaten with one hand.  I think I have Big Bird Goes to the Doctor memorized by now.  Don't even ask about the showering.  :-( 
  • Practice wrestling a large, slippery fish three times a week.
  • Wake up every two hours at night, punch yourself in the face, walk around for 28 minutes pleading in jibberish. Go back to "sleep." Repeat.
  • Socialize with friends in 18-second increments.
  • Practice asking for the check, boxing up your food and exiting a restaurant in under sixty seconds — two bites into the meal.
  • Watch 38% of any film or television show; never see the ending or resolution.
  • Read the same three paragraphs of a novel once every two weeks; fall asleep.
  • Shower every three to five days, but only for two minutes.
  • Hire a makeup artist to make you up to look 10 years older. Look at yourself in the mirror, then laugh, cry, laugh, cry, laugh, cry. Do not go get a drink.
  • Pack two additional bags of random stuff to carry with you every time you leave the house.
  • Stand around a tennis court and catch fly balls with one hand for two hours a day while also preparing a peanut butter sandwich.
  • Practice wrestling aforementioned large, slippery fish, then dress it in seasonally appropriate outfit, including hat and/or jacket. Then go back, remove all clothing, and apply sunscreen. Re-dress fish.
  • Memorize The Cat in the Hat, then repeat every evening between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Make 24 hours of baby-crying audio; hit play the moment you take a phone call, fire up your computer, or begin speaking any sentences to another human that contain important or useful information.
  • Imagine a mental written list of your responsibilities for each day, tear it in half, burn one piece, take a (literal) shit on the other one. (Sorry.)
Still, the smiles they are giving me all the time, the sweet coos, the excitement of watching them find their hands, the thrill of Jeff rolling over, and the cuteness they have as they start to grab little stuffed animals makes all of the chaos worthwhile. 

Wait...what?  Back up.
The coos?
No...later.
The stuffed animal hugging?
No no...the other one.
Oh...the ROLLING OVER?!?!?  Is that what you want to discuss?

Yep, you read that right.  Jeff has started rolling over.  On Monday Derek put little baby Jeff on the play mat before he left for work.  I was laying on the couch and decided to close my eyes for a minute.  Jeff was using his voice a little and then suddenly his voice sounded different.  Quieter.  When I opened my eyes it was because he was now suddenly face down.  Derek suspected a cat was involved. 

Two days later Derek was home with Jeff while on Skype with his mom.  This time they saw Jeff roll over.  No cat helping according to Derek.

I was skeptical.

This morning I saw it.  It was so amazing.  Jeff got about 93% over.  He couldn't quite get his hand out from under his chest after rolling but it was so cool to see that.  My little boys are growing up!

Now, if only Aaron can learn to do the dishes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Developing

So today is the boys' three month birthday!  That means tonight they will sleep through the night, right?  Isn't that how it works?  I hear that babies start sleeping through the night at three months.

OK...I know that's not quite how baby development works.  But wouldn't it be nice if it did? 

Even if the sleeping through the night skill isn't quite there yet, there are some other great developments.  Both boys are starting to grab more.  Babies grab from the start, but now they're starting to grab for things in front of them.  Aaron had a death grip on my finger yesterday.  He also tracks objects well as we move them from side to side and loves listening to the crinkly paper toy as we make the noise near his left ear and then his right.  Jeff was able to grab some rings on the playtime mat, he was having fun with a little, plush soccer ball yesterday and he is trying to hold his bottle.  Our nanny sent us a picture today of him holding his bottle.  He can't lift it to drink from it (it was empty anyway) but that boy is determined to feed himself.  Plus, both boys are fascinated by sign language.  When they're crying and screaming I simply sign to them and the hands moving around often help them calm down.  I also swear that if I sign "milk" as I'm making their bottles the crying and fussing decreases.  I think they might be understanding that sign and that milk will be coming soon.

As hard as it is and as much as I complain about the lack of sleep, I love having twins.  I'm so excited to know that these boys will have each other.  I can't wait to watch them play together (especially because Daddy won't always want to play space ranger vs. Batman for 7 hours a day).  I also want to make sure that they each have their own identities.  I do refer to them as "the boys" or "the twins" a lot.  They're only three months old so their individuality isn't markedly different at this point.  Still, they will be as different or as alike as any two brothers and it will be fun to see their personalities and interests grow and develop. 

The negative side of having twins is that I want to compare them to each other.  When Jeff could prop himself up on his arms first I wondered if Aaron would be cursed with a life of being picked last for kickball every time.  (He won't be.  He can prop himself up now.)  When Aaron started smiling I wondered why Jeff wasn't and worried he had that rare disease that makes it impossible to smile.  (He doesn't.  He can smile now too.)  I know it's all ok.  Kids pick things up in their own time and each child has his strengths.  I'm really not worrying.

I think about how I started this whole fatherhood journey on my own.  I knew having one child on my own would have been tough.  Very tough.  Being alone with twins 800 miles from my family I have no idea how I would have survived more than the first 72 hours.  Now, with my Prince Derek in my life, I am lucky enough to be able to stay home with the boys -- oops...I mean Jeff and Aaron -- several days a week and watch them learn and grow and figure out the world.  If I were on my own working twice as hard to have half as much time with my children I'm not sure I'd be able to enjoy any moment with them.  I understand now why it's so hard for parents to go back to work and miss out on these first few years with their kids.  It is magical and special.  I'm glad I get to be so involved in their lives which is a luxury many parents don't have.  Derek and I couldn't be doing this without each other -- and that's the way I like it. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Belated Father's Day

I love looking at photos of the babies of the blogs I have been following.  It's so great to see how well they are doing and to watch them grow and change before my eyes.  I have been hesitant to post a million pictures of little Aaron and Jeff, but decided that I have to put a few pictures on from time to time because A) my readers want to see them and B) my kids are freakin' cute.  I couldn't resist posting this one.  This is a picture from Father's Day last week and the more I look at it the more special it becomes to me.  Hopefully you'll enjoy it too.


And although I'm a little late I want to wish a Happy Father's Day to all the new dads out there.  It's exciting to get to celebrate the day as a dad after so many years of dreaming about it.  I had to work for half the day on Father's Day this year but I was able to go out to brunch with Derek and my mother-in-law and two of the cutest babies on earth. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sleep


Sleep is like the unicorn - it is rumored to exist, but I doubt I will see any. 
People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.
He who sleeps half a day has won half a life.

 
According to these quotes I am like a unicorn hunter with a baby who has a very fulfilling life.

 
We are quickly approaching three months with the twins and sleep is still a difficult thing to have in our house.  The first few weeks of fatherhood were tough because we had no idea what we were doing and how to make sense of what had rocked our world.  After a month or so life got into a little more of a routine.  Well, "routine" meaning we at least had a plan to deal with work and sleep schedules.  By now, after 12 weeks of sleeping 4 hours a night and heading back to my full work schedule a few weeks ago, I am exhausted. 

 
I've learned that during the twins' last feeding before bed - which usually happens at some point between 7:00 and 10:00 pm - it helps to turn out most of the lights, put on some spa or lullaby music (thank you Pandora) and enjoy watching their eyes get heavy as they enter their milk coma.

 
I've also learned that some things are hard-wired into our human brains and never change.  This nighttime ritual works on the kids as well as me.  The soft music and mood lighting puts me to sleep too and by 11:00pm I'm usually out cold.  When I wake up a few hours later to screaming babies I have no idea where I am or what is going on.

 
Let's take a little look at my sleep history.

 
  • My parents said I was a good sleeper.  I usually liked to go to sleep.  When I was a few years old I tried to put myself to bed by crawling up the stairs.  I fell asleep on a stair before I made it to the top.
  • I can go for weeks surviving on chocolate, string cheese and veggie hot dogs and stay healthy but as soon as I have a few days without much sleep I get sick.  (I have no idea how I haven't been sick since the babies have come.)
  • I was on the top bunk of a bunk bed my freshman year of college.  I put my alarm on the other side of the room.  I had a talent for crawling out of bed, turning off the alarm, getting back into bed and having no memory of doing that a few hours later when I woke up.
  • I slept through a fire alarm.
  • During the first month when the twins were in our room Derek said a cry would make me sit straight up and then freeze.  I was up...but not awake.  Derek often would get up to get the baby before me because my mind knew I was supposed to get up by my body wouldn't cooperate.  I have no recollection of this.

 
Don't get me wrong, things are getting better.  The boys are more engaging during the day and often go back to sleep pretty easily after a feeding.  One of them will sometimes go longer than 3 hours between feedings, but the other apparently liked his skinny newborn body and is concerned that his chubby 12 week body needs to lose some weight.  He thinks that Weight Watchers' point system and South Beach's low carb craze are silly and only wants to follow Jorge Cruise's Three Hour Diet.  Actually, he bends the rules a little and thinks that if every three hours is good every two and a half hours will be even better!

 
So the last few days I have passed out on the couch at night and then slept past my alarm in the morning.  How long until the feedings really decrease?  I hope it's soon.  For now, I'll have to find ways to force myself to stay awake.  Some options are...