Friday, 27 January 2012

I Am Superman

When I was a kid I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books, specifically the editions written in the mid-1980s.*  The best Choose Your Own Adventure book, in my 8 year old opinion, was Vampire Express.**

Here's a Choose Your Own Adventure decision for you:

You wake up, on your back, groggy inside a giant wooden cage.  You look around to try and find a way out, but realize that you are barely able to move.  It appears that your limbs have been tied to your body in some sort of brightly coloured cocoon.   Your stomach growls with an insatiable hunger.  You debate screaming for help, but decide that you will try to escape this horrible trap. You wiggle your body until you are able to get your arms free.  You press your elbow into the soft floor below you and slowly roll yourself onto your stomach.  You are now unable to move and your limbs are stuck in the bars of the cage.  You:
A - Keep yourself company with a song while you figure out your next move.
B - Panic and cry for help.  Surely someone will rescue you.

If you chose A, You are Molly - And when one of the two giants come in to see you, you will proudly smile about how you were able to roll onto your stomach.  If you chose B, you are Jack and you will need to be cuddled and comforted by said Giant(s) for at least ten minutes to calm you down from your horrifying adventure.  Either way you chose, you crapped your pants.

The minions have been rolling in both their sleep and their play constantly this week and their different reactions to things is amazing and amusing.  Being a baby has to be both exciting and terrifying.  It would be as strange as if you woke up tomorrow and the entire world was upside-down and then when you finally got used to that horror you developed the capability to fly but have no way to control how and when you are airborne.  The entire time you are going through these life altering experiences no one understands a word you say. Molly has two distinct screams - one for happy and one for angriest girl in the world.  Jack yells AGEEEEEEE whenever he's hungry, lonely or gassy and makes giant raspberries when he's happy.  These are caveman cries at best and even though both babies are convinced we can understand their incoherent babbling perfectly, I still have a better level of communication with my 13 year old cat Pan.

I can't even imagine how frustrating, but cool being a baby is.  You learn new things all of the time - that's what you do.  I know in my rants I'm rarely complimentary about Molly*** but as an adult I really hope that the next time I get my arms caught in a giant cage I stop and proudly sing a song.

**That's right I liked vampires back in the Count Chocula, The Count days...before sugar was bad and The Count had OCD,  before Vampire Lestat or Edward Cullen.
***Sorry Molly, you scream A LOT, but you are truly wonderful.  I swear.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Regrets, I've Had a Few

This weekend Chris and I decided to return to the scene of the crime.  Okay, maybe more like the precursor to the scene of the crime.  We went to Red Lobster.*  You see, we calculated when the minions were conceived and the numbers don't lie, at least Molly (twin A) and possibly Jack was conceived after a post-Christmas shopping dinner at Red Lobster.    I know what you're thinking, a family seafood restaurant is not exactly the pinnacle of romance, but desperate times call for desperate measures. In December 2010 one of our close friends was living with us post-break up and we arrived home, for the first time in nearly 6 weeks, with the house to ourselves - so we took advantage of our rare found moment of privacy.  This ironically led to a situation where we will rarely be alone together at home for many many years.

Since conception we have often joked about the magical powers of the iconic seafood restaurant chain.**  So this weekend we returned, which got me thinking about pregnancy, specifically my pregnancy and that a year ago I was just two months pregnant, blissfully unaware that I was having two babies rather than one.  There are so many things about my pregnancy that I wouldn't change, but there are others that I wish that I could do over again.***

My Reaction to Morning Sickness
For the first 4-5 months of pregnancy I couldn't keep anything down.  Morning sickness was constant and aggravated by fresh air.  There wasn't a snow bank in the entire city of Toronto that hadn't been Christened with my vomit.  I tried acupressure bands for sea sickness****, chomping on saltine crackers, sucking on ginger or mints, massage and yoga.  Nothing worked.  It was incredibly difficult to hide my pregnancy during the first trimester when I was constantly throwing up in a garbage bin under my desk.  Fueled by news articles about birth defects caused by anti-nausea medication from the past I was determined not to take any anti-nausea medication no matter what.   When I went to the doctor just over four months pregnant, with twins, ten pounds lighter than my pre-pregnancy self we discussed my options.  The bottom line was that I needed to keep food down for the babies to be able to grow.  She wrote me an anti-nausea prescription, I filled it and then researched like crazy, despite reassurances that it was perfectly safe and widely tested I was scared.  I finally gave in and took the medication and almost instantly felt better.  I only ended up taking it for a month before the symptoms finally subsided on their own, but I wasted so much time berating myself and the babies for feeling so awful.  If hadn't been so paranoid I would have enjoyed the first half of my pregnancy so much more.  

Working Too Hard & Too Far Into Pregnancy
Because I was so ill during the first half of pregnancy I treated it more like a disease I had to fight than a once in a life time experience.  Now that the kids are here, I'm sorry that I didn't embrace my pregnancy more.  I faced it like a boxing match and in turn it beat the crap out of me.  I was determined to work for as long as I could in pregnancy, but for all of the wrong reasons.  It wasn't because we needed the money, it wasn't because my work wasn't supportive of my needs at high risk twin pregnancy - it was because I am stubborn.*****  I'd subway into work, very pregnant, where I was rarely offered a seat, but too proud and too timid to ask for one and come home exhausted and swollen, taking a two hour nap and falling asleep at 10pm while my husband picked up the slack at home.  As the pregnancy progressed I worked from home more, and shorter hours transiting downtown when it was less crowded.  I even purchased a maternity belt to support my belly, which helped, minimally.  I finally submitted to stop work at 35 weeks pregnant and finally began to rest in my last three weeks of pregnancy.  For some unknown reason, I thought that if I didn't remain tough in my pregnancy people would think I was weak and incapable of being a good mother.

Keeping a Better Record of My Pregnancy
I didn't want to keep one of those flip book week by week pregnancy albums, posing with my pregnant belly each week, and it wouldn't have worked anyway as I went from not looking pregnant at all, to just looking fat to being mega-pregnant.  I also didn't want posed studio pictures of my pregnant belly because that just isn't me. I figured if a picture happened to be taken of me pregnant then it would be on record, the only problem with that when you feel sick most of the time you aren't in a lot of situations where you get your picture snapped.  Luckily there are some great photos of me pregnant that are going into both Molly & Jack's baby books - thanks to my mom's insistence and some great shots from a Spring wedding.  And although I kept a pregnancy journal it was sparse at best and read more like a manifesto imploring people to never procreate peppered with a few exciting moments, first kicks, first ultrasounds and records of my kids spooning in utero (Molly was the big spoon and Jack was the little spoon).  It is also one of the things that has inspired me to keep a good record of their lives, so maybe it doesn't count as a regret after-all.  Hopefully this will be something they can both look back on and read fondly.  We are lucky and have two wonderful and healthy babies and that is something I wouldn't change for anything.

*I recall their tagline as being, "For the Seafood Lover in you".  It has since changed to, "Sea Food Differently." which I don't find to be nearly as catchy or fitting considering our circumstances.
**Thank you to those of you who have given us gift certificates to said family restaurant if any children were conceived this weekend they will be dropped off in a basket at your doorstep for you to raise.
***Not that I have plans to rectify the situation through getting pregnant again any time soon (or ever again).
**** This helped a bit, but was suspicious to fellow co-workers who did not know I was pregnant yet as I do not work on a ship or anywhere near the sea.
*****Yes, I think I'm a big wheel down at the cracker factory. (Second The Simpsons reference for those counting).

Friday, 20 January 2012

You Stepped on my Sticky Fingers

I never thought that this was something that I'd obsess about, but it is.  Fingernails....Yeah that's right I said fingernails.*  For a good portion of my pregnancy I was convinced that Molly was trying to claw her way out from the inside, and now I've determined that she was.  Almost immediately after birth nurses, friends and family gave us tips on how to keep those nails nice and short: bite them off, use baby nail scissors, use your own clippers, file them, etc. etc.  And for a while I thought we had it under control.

I clip and file Jack's nails, generally in the late afternoon, when he's about to go into a food coma (AKA his 3pm nap).  Molly is trickier, she's really flinchy and as someone who is more of a fan of screaming herself to sleep than going quietly tired nail trimming isn't a viable option.  No matter how I've timed it she gets angry and the manicure ends up happening several times over the course of a day and sometimes ends in tears - sometimes hers, sometimes mine.**

Dealing with their nails is a constant battle, despite trimming two or three times a week I'll often greet Jack in the morning to find his face scratched up as if he'd just been in a knife fight with Freddy Krueger.  It seems both children have developed my strong, fast growing fingernails.***

Two days ago after an epic nail clipping battle with Molly she tried to smack the mini clippers out of my hands mid-cut and I nicked the tip of her finger.  She was angry, so I stopped my work on her pointy scissor-hands, comforted her and put her in her swing while I made up some food for her.  It turns out the little nick didn't stop bleeding and I didn't realize it.  I looked back over at her to find her sucking a bloody finger and rubbing it all over her face.****  After a panicked phone call to my parents we determined that band-aids were too small and a choking hazard, so that's why my daughter had a bloody sock on her hand.

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*Juno MacGuff: The-the baby?  I don't really know much about it other than, I mean, it has fingernails, allegedly.
Bren: Nails, really?
Juno MacGuff: Yeah!
**About two months ago I called my parents, practically in tears, proclaiming that Molly and I were fighting and that I needed a break immediately.  She had poked me in the eye while I was trimming her nails and my eye had swollen shut.  My parents, thankfully, gave me a break that afternoon.
***Chris always harasses me about how I let my nails (specifically my pinky nails) grow too long and how they "look creepy".  I'd always dismissed him until two years ago when I went for a manicure and the Esthetician asked me if I wanted to keep my cocaine nails.
*****Horrifying, yet slightly reminiscent of Kirsten Dunst as Claudia in Interview with a Vampire, except without any teeth.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Beautiful Noise

I am loud, noisy at best.  There is no denying it and the proof is everywhere.  There was the co-worker who used to shush me,* or the fact that whenever I get really worked up about something that my volume and speed of speech increase like crazy.**  Pregnant Sara was thrilled when several veteran parents told me that one of their top mistakes as new parents was keeping the house too quiet when their first child was born, thus creating an environment when even the smallest sound would wake their sleeping child.  Note that a second children never get this "silence" luxury.

Before I had keen mother ears that awaken me at the slightest sound I too could sleep through almost anything.  I'd often boast about the time that I fell asleep at a Ministry concert.  But how do you train your children to sleep through anything without damaging their sensitive little ears, especially when their mother's "light step" is comparable to Godzilla invading Tokyo?  This is what has worked for us, so far.

Location of Nursery
Not only do we live right by several train lines, 8 to be exact, the nursery is the closest room to the tracks.***  It is also the closest room to the bathroom and the fan creates a great white noise the will lull them both to sleep.

Proximity to Other Children
We have no choice here...there are two children and one nursery, one child will often have to sleep through the other one crying, singing or snoring.

Let Them Be Noisy
My daughter is a morning person and likes to greet the day in song....a lot and loudly.  She is perfectly happy to lay in her crib and serenade her sleeping brother, come evening she sleeps through her night owl brother growling like a monster or mirroring the whale noise machine when he first goes to bed about an hour later than she does.

Background Noise
I provide this constantly, whether it's through the way that I clumsily drop stuff constantly while cleaning, the fact that my husband's band practices in our house while the children play downstairs or that there is generally a record playing at all times.

Learn Wake Up Triggers
For both children it's my voice.  If they hear my voice for too long, too loudly outside of their nursery it's game over - they're awake and so are we.

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*Or do that gradual lowering of the hand thing that Ross used to do on Friends to indicate that it was time to "quiet down" -
**This is the point where Chris suggests that I, "Settle down. Beavis."
***We have double insulated windows, but nothing can shelter the noise of two cars coupling or someone blowing a whistle at 3AM because some drunk guy decided to walk on the tracks.

Thursday, 12 January 2012


Giving my son a bath is akin to taking a long walk along a lake shore with a really drunk guy.  He babbles incoherently and when he isn't trying to drown himself he's peeing in the water.*  I can't even count the number of times that I've had to stand him up at the edge of his baby tub to pee down the drain or rush through the remainder of the bath once he's "infected" the water.

My daughter, Molly, is another story.  Bath time Molly is calm, relaxed, content** and likes to just lay there enjoying the warm water, smiling up at me while I sit perched on the edge of the toilet seat looking over her.  I must admit when forced stationary by my children I've had trouble adapting. The restriction of only being an arms length away from a bathing child at any time often has me pulling Molly out of the bath before she's ready.  But I'm slowly learning to enjoy this welcomed break as much as Molly does and extending her bath time and taking it as "me time" as well.

In the past I've used this time to put on make-up, brush my teeth or clean the toilet while she relaxes.  But I've decided that I'm going to try not to do that any more.  This morning I gave her a bath while Jack was still asleep, I grabbed a cup of tea*** and didn't move her until she was ready.  Since she was a two month old Molly has needed her alone time, in fact she'll scream for it.  Today's bath was our first alone time together and it was great!  I guess I'm going to have a spa buddy after all.

*The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that nearly 80% of all drownings are male, which further supports my theory about the boy child constantly trying to kill himself.
**For anyone who knows my daughter - this is not typical Molly behaviour.
***Apologies for anyone who finds consumption of food and beverage in the bathroom gross, but people drink wine in bubble baths all the time, on TV and in movies anyway.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight

After the initial shock of parenthood wears off, beyond the sleep deprived autopilot night time feeding zombie phase, you reach the point where it's time to make some major decisions again. With research, discussion and gut feelings Chris and I made it through the bottle vs. breast vs. both, the cloth vs. disposable diapers, how to decorate a nursery, what stories to read, etc. etc. long before Molly and Jack were even born.

Each time a monthiversary approaches, probably like any paranoid parent, I go on a research rampage monitoring the previous month and the month to come to make sure that the minions fall into the range of normal developmental milestones.*  As I read about month five to six I saw that by now our babies should be able to sleep through the night and that if they aren't by month six it may be time for some sleep training or ferberizing**.

Since about month three both babies generally only require one night time feeding/changing where we both get up, change and feed both babies (whether they are both awake or not, to avoid being woken up twice) and are generally back into bed within twenty minutes to half an hour.  Recently they have both started to give us about two nights a week where they sleep for the entire night and we're awoken by an alarm rather than a baby*** and now that we've had a taste, we want more.

When I presented my research to Chris he sighed and said, "When one of them gets up in the middle of the night they're really hungry, I don't know if I'm ready for us ignoring their hungry cry just yet, and besides they're sleeping through the night more and more every week now.  And they may wake up the other baby**** by crying."  We've been letting both babies self soothe for a couple of months now when they first go to bed, but never in the middle of the night, we'll sometimes give them about five minutes before we stumble out of bed and into action (to make sure it isn't just a random night scream - which Molly is infamous for).  We agreed to revisit the issue in a month.

Last night Molly went to bed at 9:45pm and was screaming at 5:30am.  Jack (while still asleep) consumed 5 ounces of formula.  After ounce 2 Molly started chewing at the bottle and grinning at me.   "She's not hungry, she's just bored." Chris said as I put her back to bed and she sang to herself in her crib for half an hour before going back to bed.  While we tried to go back to sleep while Molly babbled from down the hall, Chris and I discussed  whether or not she was really communicating things while she "talked" to herself.  We couldn't determine what she was saying and finally fell back asleep.  Now that I've thought about it I think I know what she was saying, "Don't hate the player, hate the game."  

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*Both babies are doing fine, although Jack's recent obsession with making raspberry noises in combination with teething makes for a daily wet t-shirt contest. 
**The Ferber Method is a technique invented by Dr. Richard Ferber involving baby-training children to self-soothe by allowing the child to cry for a predetermined amount of time before providing external comfort.
***The first few times this happened we both burst into the nursery in a panic to make sure they were okay and then felt silly for waking sleeping babies.
****I often catch myself in the nursery with Jack (who goes to bed about an hour later than Molly) standing still and avoiding eye contact with Molly, much like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, so she won't register that I'm there and attack.