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.


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.