No surprises

Compared to the other ladies at HDYDI, I’d say my birth story is, well..a bit boring.  Not that the birth of our sons, Finn and Reid, were anything but boring.  Because it was, hands down, the most memorable day in my life thus far.  But, there were no surprises on their actual birth day.  We came into the hospital that afternoon knowing full well that births (especially multiple births) rarely go as planned.  But, to our surprise…there were no surprises!  I arrived on time, the doctors arrived on time, the C-section went without a hitch, and the boys did just as well as our OB hoped they’d do.  I’d even scored the room on the Mother/Baby Unit that the nurses, for the past 4 months, had been saying they’d save for their “twin mama”. 

 

However, in the spirit of Birth Story Week here at HDYDI, I’ll tell you the nitty  gritty.  Even though I really think that it could just be summed up like this: “Two babies.  Bothbreech.  One diagnosed with IUGR.  Two Grade 3 placentas.  One scheduled C-section.  Two happy parents.” But, that wouldn’t be as much fun, now would it?  After all…who doesn’t like telling the story about the day that changed your life forever and made your heart swell with love, joy and pride?

 

Some background info

Both of the boys had been in a breech position since week 28.  At the 32 week mark, my OB said that the likelihood of Baby A transitioning into a vertex position was very low.  It was then that he dropped the C-bomb.  I had been planning a natural delivery since Day 1…no drugs, lots of deep breathing, visualizations, peaceful music, a belly dancer (kidding on that one)…you know, the whole nine yards.  Well, that went right out the window during the office visit.  It took some time and contemplation to come to terms with the surgery, but I eventually took comfort in the fact that I knew (approximately) when these babies were going to be born (my OB would not let me go into hard labor).  I was especially glad to know that I would most definitely not be pregnant forever.  As much as I didn’t believe it. 

 

At week 34, a 25% discrepancy in weight between Baby A and Baby B was found.  It was decided that we’d wait another week and, if the weights didn’t equalize, the boys were going to be born no later than 36 weeks.  Another issue that was uncovered at the 34-week mark was the deterioration of my placentas.  It was determined that both placentas had enough calcification to be deemed Grade 3.  There was certainly time, but not much, before these puppies were going to cease supplying nutrients to our babes.  Not a good thing.

 

At 35 weeks, there was still a weight discrepancy, and Baby B (Reid) was diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), so we knew that they were going to be born one week from that day.  However, I wanted to deliver at a hospital that was not equipped to handle babies with major breathing issues.  So, I was required to have an amniocentesis to determine lung maturity.  This was scheduled for January 25th at 8:00am.  My due date was February 26th, 2007.  Finn and Reid were born on January 26th, 2007…exactly 36 weeks.

 

I know this is a ‘birth story’ and not a ‘pre-birth story’, but I must mention something about the amnio.  It was beyond strange!  The only way I can describe it would be the sensation of being uncorked.  I felt like a bottle of wine that someone was decorking.  The pressure was intense, but the feeling was just plain weird. 

 

Regardless, after delivering the test tube of fluid in which surrounded my children to the laboratory, I was driven to the hospital to undergo my daily Non-Stress Test.  I was having some serious contractions, so they checked me.  I was still holding steady (from the morning ‘check’) at 2cm and 75% effacement so they released me after a couple of hours.  When a baby (or babies) is breech, there is risk of a prolapsed umbilical cord.  This is a obstetric emergency with a 11-17% mortality rate.  High enough that you don’t want to chance it.  And the more I was dilated, the more dangerous it was to send me home.  But fortunately, I hadn’t had any cervical change in almost 3 days.  Either way, I was to spend the next 36 hours doing nothing.  This was no easy task for someone who hates sitting still and furthermore, had a lot of stuff to do before becoming a parent!

 

Birth day

Fast forward to Friday, January 26that 3pm.  I showed up at the hospital, thirsty and starving, wearing the one and only outfit that still fit.  My husband and I were loaded down with our backpacks, pillows, Boppy, breast pump and diaper bag.  I got dressed in the hospital gown, took a dose of some crazy concoction to settle my stomach, got my IV and was hooked up to the fetal monitors.  The boys were very active and I was having some wicked contractions.  I think the boys knew that something was up because they were more active than they’d ever been.  Either way, after experiencing the contractions I was more than a little relieved that I had an automatic ‘out’ for having to deliver naturally.  Let’s just say I was very happy when the anesthesiologist strolled in.

 

After signing my life away on stacks and stacks of paper work, I had my father-in-law take a few pictures, one of which highlighted my cankles.  canklesbellyI felt like a big water-logged rubber ducky.  And, you can see by the extremely unflattering photographs, that I also looked like one.  After a few camera clicks, the nurses asked everyone to leave the room (including my husband, which I was surprised by).  I was asked if I needed something for anxiety (I declined, surprising even myself) and then told that it was time to be shaved.  For some reason, I didn’t even think that they would have to shave me.  Down There.  But, I guess it does make sense, after all.  :) The shaving experience reminded me of the time when I had the not-so-good idea to dry-shave my under arms one morning in 10th grade because I really wanted to wear my favorite tank top to show off my tan.  Yah.  Bad idea.  If I could do it again, I think I’d get a Brazilian wax done beforehand and call it a day.  It’s not comfortable and the nurses are anything but careful. 

 

After the shave, it was time to head into the OR.  I did a few stretches because I knew that I wouldn’t be on my feet for quite a few hours.

 

As I exited my room, I was greeted by my regular OB, my mom (she’d flown in from Oregon that morning), my in-laws and my husband.  I gave them all one last pre-motherhood hug and told them that I’d see them in a few.  Brook would follow me into the OR once my spinal was in place. 

 

It seemed that from the moment I entered the OR, I just could not stop shivering.  I know this is normally a side effect of the anesthesia, but I hadn’t even got up on the table yet.  I think it was just my nerves.  The thought of me being cut open (while awake!) was a bit much for me at that point in time.  I kept shivering and my teeth kept chattering as I laid on the table.  The anesthesiologist told me that I was going to have to stop shivering before he could put the spinal in–you know, that whole ‘precision’ thing.  I tried, but I couldn’t, so one of the lovely nurses gave me a warm blanket and that did the trick. 

 

The anesthesiologist sat me up and explained the procedure.  A nurse was in front of me to lean on as I hunched over and she also helped to quell my nervousness witha hand massage.  It would have been nice to have my husband there during the spinal, but I realize this isn’t procedure.  As the anesthesia entered my body, it felt as if someone dripped a cool, thick liquid slowly down my back.  By the time she laid me back down, I was numb.  The feeling of knowing that your body IS there, but not having any control of it from the sternum down, is classified as ‘creepy’ in my book.  Just for fun, I tried to pick my leg up, asking a nurse if, indeed, I had picked it up (she said, “nada!”), and then laughing because of the weird-ness of it all.

 

When I was fully numb and settled, they let my husband into the room.  He was told to sit to my left.  I remember him holding my hand, being comforted by his touch, and thinking, that in a few minutes, we were going to be responsible for two tiny little human beings when I barely even felt grown up myself. 

 

Let the show begin

With all 10 ‘team members’ in place, my OB said they were going to go nice and slow…that they weren’t in a hurry, so to just relax.  All I was concentrating on was whether or not I heard a baby crying.  I made him promise to clearly tell me when each baby was out. 

 

At 4:01 pm, they broke Baby A’s (Finn) amniotic sac.  On the video my husband shot it took precisely 1 minute and 11 seconds of tugging to get Finn out.  His brother and he were wedged in there.  Tight.  I don’t have to go over the, ummm, pressure that you feel as one surgeon is pulling a kid out, while the assisting surgeon is pushing on your stomach like he’s kneading a huge hunk of bread dough, because that was already covered in the other HDYDI  birth stories.  But I will reiterate that, yes.  It is in.freaking.tense.  I found myself making grunting noises as I was being pulled and pushed around.

 

At 4:02pm, Finn Andrew finallyenters the world, feet first (weighing 5 lbs, 6 oz.), after what seems like eons of them pulling, poking, tugging and pushing to get him lodged out from underneath his bro.  “Baby A, 4:02pm”, my OB says.  He doesn’t cry.  They suction him.  He still doesn’t cry.  The OB cuts the cord, hands him quickly to the nurse, who wraps him in a towel and gives me a very quick half-second glimpse of my first born son, and then hands him through a window that lead into the NICU.  I was scared to death that he wasn’t crying.  I’d watched enough Discovery Health to know that you want a baby to cry.  Crying is good.  Crying means the baby is breathing.  Finn was not crying.  I tried to stay calm, with the help and reassurance of Brook and the anesthesiologist, because I still had one baby left inside of me. 

 

At 4:03pm, they break Baby B’s (Reid) amniotic sac and he pops right out feet first…screaming!!  It was the sweetest sound I had ever heard.  I cried and laughed all at the same time.  For whatever reason though, they didn’t let me see the little guy.  He was the one they were worried about (though he was a plump 4 lbs, 11 oz.), so he was quickly wrapped and shoved into the NICUwindow with Brook on the nurses heals.  Once I heard Reid cry and then about 30 seconds later, the distant cry of Finn (finally!), I relaxed and settled into a post-birth happy/exhausted state as my OB started singing something in Russian.  I drifted in and out of this state of mind as Brook snapped a few photos and some video and came back to show me our new sons.  I asked him if they were okay about 1,000 times, in between gushing over the pictures and videos that were taken minutes before.    But truth be told, I really, really, just wanted a nap. 

 

I was given a shot of Demerol and, man, did this make me loopy!  The next thing I know, I’m in the recovery room being handed a cell phone.  It was my dad.  I really just wanted him to be there.  I didn’t want to talk to him on the cell phone.  I wanted him by my bedside, so he could give me a hug and tell me that I was going to be okay at this whole mom-thing.Gotta love the drugs

I was a mess.  I felt drunk.  I felt stoned.  I felt…not like a mom should feel.  I kept questioning my ability to care for two newborns.  Telling myself that I was already a bad mom.  It was horrid.  The nurses assured me that this was just a side effect of the Demerol and that I should just try to sleep.  I tried, but I couldn’t.  I was too full of emotion and, being that I had not drank anything for nearly 13 hours, I was exceptionally thirsty.  I begged the nurse for some ice chips.  When she brought me the cup full of icy bliss, I instantly felt better and my spirits were lifted.

 

While I was in recovery, Brook was still going back and forth between myself and the NICU…bringing me more photos and videos of the boys.  I couldn’t wait to get a good look at them, but I had to keep waiting…not exactly sure what for…but the waiting felt like a lifetime.  So, I tried to get a few winks in between the nurses poking and prodding me.

 

FINALLY!  It was time to meet my little ones.  The nurses were going to wheel me into the NICU prior to heading to my room in the Mother/Baby Unit.  When I was rolled in, they brought Reid over to Finn’s warmer.  The two of them together.  It was beautiful.  It was surreal.  I tried to touch them, but I couldn’t get as close as I would have liked.

 mama meets the boysThe NICU nurses said that they were doing great and that I’d be able to hold them within the hour.  I was then wheeled to my post-partum room where I again nodded off.  That was, until my husband decided that what I really could use right then was a stuffed monkey.  There were only two monkeys that I wanted to see…and neither of them were stuffed.

  Monkey

 

At 6:32pm, I was able to hold both of my babies for the first time.  It was pure love.  Times two.

double the love

I managed to breastfeed both of the boys and they seemed to do okay for 36-weekers.  It did, however, take forever for them to latch on and, once latched, they immediately fell asleep.  This was only the beginning of our breastfeeding saga, but we’ll save that for another day.  Although the boys were doing well, they did have a bit of a problem regulating their body heat, so they were constantly being whisked away to the nursery for check-ups.  In between check-ups though, we did a lot of staring.  Staring in awe of the two little miracles that we had created. 

brothers

 

Around 7pm, I was having some very intense pain.  I can normally tolerate pain fairly  well, but this…this was bad.  The nurses figured out that something wasn’t quite right when I answered “11″ to their question on my pain level on a scale of 1 to 10.  I had said it was a “2″ less than 20 minutes prior.  I was restless and agitated.  I kept hitting the button for more morphine, but it clearly was not working.  So a call to my OB was made and, within 20 minutes, I was given another (magnificent) cocktail that took my pain level back down to a “2″.  After that, it was alllll good. 

 

That night, it was a mix of visitors, phone calls, never-ending breastfeeding and cups and cups of (ahhhh...) water.  I felt as if I couldn’t get enough water.  And the best part about drinking all of this water was that I didn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom because I had the catheter!  I remember being hungry, but not really wanting to eat.  Although, as a side note, this all changed the next morning when I felt as if I would never be able to consume enough food.  I would order sandwiches to my room in the middle of the night and check the “hearty” portion on my room service menu.  I don’t remember ever being more hungry in my entire life as I was the first two weeks post-partum.  I guess making milk (or colostrum, rather) for two babies is hard work!

 

Something that I was not at all prepared for was the swelling that came post C-section.  Admittedly, I gained a lot of weight.  More weight than I should have.  And for someone who is 5′ 3″ tall (on a good day), add another 70 pounds to your body and it’s bound to protest.  My body protested by giving  me a horrible case of carpal tunnel syndrome.  Throughout my pregnancy, sure, I had my share of uncomfortableness and sleepless nights.  But nothing compared to the immense pain, numbness and tingling in my hands.  I couldn’t grip a pencil, let alone type on the computer all day for work purposes.  The nights were even worse.  I’d sleep withbraces on bothwrists and prop them up on pillows.  I’d watch what I ate, careful not to consume too much sodium (i.e. my most favorite Mexican food meal…it was a shame), as that just made the water retention even worse, which in turn aggravated the carpal tunnel syndrome.  I spent the better half of my pregnancy worrying about whether or not this would disappear after I gave birth. 

 

The night that Finn and Reid were born, I was graced with the worst pain, numbness and tingling I had yet experienced.  I felt uncomfortable even holding a baby because I couldn’t feel whether or not I had a good grip on the little guy.  Sleeping was out of the question because the medsthat I was taking for the post-surgical pain did not help the least bit withthepainfrom the carpal tunnel syndrome.  The nurse promised me that it would be better in the morning, that after the birth of a baby (or two), your body holds onto water like an industrial-strength sponge.  It was a rough night, but I made it (thanks to many, many ice packs covering my hands and wrists!).  And the next day, after getting up to walk, the swelling was considerably better.  However, it wasn’t until 6 weeks post-partum that I had the sensation back in the majority of my fingers again.  I am very thankful that I do not live with this on a day-to-day basis anymore.

 

Walking around the maternity ward, in between breastfeeding sessions, was my saving grace for a fast recovery.  Although the nurses and doctors advised me to slow down, I really felt that the more I moved, the better I felt.  If I didn’t have one or more kids attached to my boobs, I was out walking laps around the ward…often times pushing a couple of bassinets.  I went very, very slowy…but it was movement nonetheless.  I found that the Percoset they were giving me (after removing the Morphine drip) was making me tired and unable to focus.  I was having such a hard time withbreastfeedingas it was, I didn’t need the added complication of drug side-effects to make it even more difficult.  So, I told them to give me half of a dose.  I found that this was a good amount to limit my pain, as well as keep me aware of it so that I wouldn’t over-do it when I walked.  I was discharged from the hospital with a prescription of Percoset, but I never did end up taking it after the second day of being discharged.  I relied on regular doses of Motrin.  The twice-daily (very slow) walks around the neighborhood really helped aid in my recovery.  It’s important to stay on top of your pain management, but it’s also very helpful to move as soon as you are able.   

 

Wow!  For a “boring” birth story, this sure is a lot of writing.  And the life that I have right now is certainly anything but boring!

lots of energy

Growing, Growing, GONE!

Bags and bags and bags and bags!

I’ve had several friends give birth to singletons within the past year.  Upon finding out that they were expecting a baby, I was more than excited to learn whether or not that baby was a boy.  You see, I have two.  Two boys that is.  And for some reason, when you have two kids at the same time, the amount of clothing that you seem to aquire does not just double (like you would think)…it quintuples! 

We are in the hellish sale pending process (don’t even get me started on this!) with our current home.  And, by early next week, we will officially be homeless!  That is, until we close on our new house the following week.  With all of this moving madness, I’ve noticed that the amount of baby stuff that we have is un-freaking-beliveable! 

Brook and I moved up to Alaksa in our Subaru.  We sold nearly everything after we finished grad school and only our prized pocessions (plants, KitchenAid mixer, ski/snowboard/hiking gear) came with us on the 3,000 mile journey to The Last Frontier.  Now, nearly 5 years later, we are having to rent a storage unit (the size of our garage) and fill up half of my in-laws garage to make this move work.  Oh , and  we have our neighbor’s garage on “stand by”, just in case. 

So.  Much.  Stuff!

Baby Stuff, that is.

Yesterday, B and I were scanning the boxes, bags and such and we noticed something.  Almost half of the boxes and bags contained outgrown baby clothes and gear!  No matter how many clothes I give away, no matter how many big-gear items I sell on Craigslist, it just keeps multiplying!

It’s amazing how fast kids grow within the first year.  For awhile, I was going through their closet every weekend…getting rid of clothes that they’d outgrown.  I’d save them and then pass them along to friends with boys who were younger than Finn and Reid.  Well, now we’ve come to a crossroads. 

#1 The babies that were once younger and smaller than our boys, are now, still younger, but bigger!  It’s a running joke between a few of us that pretty soon our friends with younger kids will be passing down clothes for Finn and Reid to wear, instead of vice versa.

#2  Our peeps are pregnant, but with the wrong variety.  We have a few friends who are expecting, but one friend is pregnant with a girl and the others are pregnant with un-disclosed sexes.  Lame.  Especially considering they are not due until the late summer and we are want to hold a garage sale in the early summer.  Bad timing.  Maybe I could request a copy of the ultrasound so that at least I could know the sex, simply for the sake of not having to store all of this gear for an extra two months.  Hmmmmm…..

So, what’s a MoT to do when the kids just keep growing, and the amount of outgrown clothes and gear keeps multiplying…And your friends’ reprductive cycles just simply cannot keep up with the accumulation of more outgrown stuff ?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask a friend, who has a friend, who may have a friend that may be pregnant.  It doesn’t really matter who gets the cute little onesie that Georgie wore on his memorable 3rd trip to the zoo that day in April.  All that matters is that the stuff is being put to good use.
  • Donate it!  There are plenty of women’s shelters, etc. who would be more than happy to accept baby items. 
  • Craigslist-It by the “Lot”.  Sort the clothes by months, post an ad on Craigslist, keeping your price nice and low…and watch the e-mails and phone calls pour in. 

 Growing, growing, and more growing!  That’s what kids do.  But I just want their outgrown stuff to be gone, gone, gone! 

Weekend Warrior!

Ahhhh, weekends!  

Time to relax, kick your feet up and… SNAP OUT OF IT!  

Relaxing weekends at our house were soooo 14 months ago.  In fact, I think the word “relax” has officially been omitted from our family’s dictionary.  And that’s fine. With B and I both working full-time, by the end of the work week, our weekend To Do list is a mile long.  There are the usual must-get-done-no-matter-what tasks such as laundry, grocery shopping, a trip to Costco, recycling, bills and preparing food for the week.  Then there’s the attempt-to-squish-in-if-at-all-possible tasks that seem to migrate from week to week because we always run out of time.  These tasks (taxes, hem B’s jeans, repair button on kids’ shirt, make prints of photos stored on jump drive, install dimmer switch in kids’ bedroom, etc.) seem to be never ending and, in fact, multiply with every passing weekend. 

So, how does a working-family with twins fit in all of the “must do’s”, a few of the “attempt-to do’s” and still have fun, all within a 48-hour time period? 

You become a Weekend Warrior! 

Back in the day, the term Weekend Warrior meant something completely different than it does to me now.  Weekend Warriors escaped right after work (car pre-packed with needed gear the night before), grabbed a quick bite to eat, and headed for the nearest mountain/lake/cabin/ski slope.  It meant that you seized the weekend and all of its relaxed luxuriousness.

Um, not so much any more. 

Now that we’re parents, we seize the weekend by (unfortunately) cramming as many errands and household chores as we possibly can within the 2,880 minutes that we are allotted.  It’s a bit of a whirlwind, not exactly relaxing and hard on your back, but that’s just life these days!  The good news is, with some efficiency, organization and a helluva lot of teamwork, we always have time to get outside and enjoy the Alaskan outdoors with our kidos (pending any crazy weather and illness, of course).  

Without further ado, here are a few things that help us to be a bit more efficient in completing our To Do list so we can maximize our fun during the weekend:

  • MAKE FRIDAY NIGHTS FUN:  On Friday nights after the boys eat their dinner, we pack ‘em up and head to Costco!  Fridays are a bit less hectic than going on a Saturday afternoon, yet they still have the usual array of food samples.  A double bonus!  And, as all MoMs know, Costco (BJ’s and Sam’s Club, too!) is one of the only places that has twin-friendly shopping carts (as referenced by Finn & Reid below).  The boys love riding around in the cart, trying out the massage chairs and looking at the huge TVs during our Costco trips.  Some good people watching for the boys and one less item on the weekend To Do list for us! 
  • Costo Kids

  • BE EFFICIENT DURING NAPTIME:  We try to complete most of the household chores while the boys take their naps. That way, when they wake-up, we can head out the door for a fun activity instead of hanging around the house while the kids play and we finish up the breakfast dishes, bills or laundry.  
  • STAY ON TOP OF THE LAUNDRY:  Now that our boys are feeding themselves, it seems like the dirty laundry is multiplying!  I try to start a load of laundry after I get home from work at least twice during the weekday.  Before we bathe the kids, I transfer the clothes from the washer to the dryer.  Then once the kids are in bed, the clothes are ready to be folded.  I don’t mind doing laundry, but I really dislike folding clothes, so spreading the laundry throughout the week helps cut down on the piles and piles of clothes, bedding, towels, etc. that build up by the weekend. 
  • DO A CLEAN SWEEP AFTER BEDTIME (EVERY NIGHT):  Every night after the dudes go to bed, we do a sweep of their main play area.  We place the 15,000 books back on their shelf, throw the blocks and stacking cups back into their holding containers, gather the toys that were hidden in drawers, baskets and behind stereo speakers, and clean up their booster seats for the next day.  It’s nice to spend the rest of the evening in a semi-organized and less “circus-y” state, as well as wake up to a fresh play space, even if it only lasts 1.25 seconds before the kids destroy it once again. 
  • PAY BILLS USING AUTO-PAY:  Before becoming a parent, I actually enjoyed doing bills.  Writing out checks, placing address labels and stamps on envelopes then sending them on their way really helped me know where our money was going.  After the boys were born, however, this (sick) enjoyment that I once had lasted all of about 2 days.  I barely had time to change out of my spit-up stained sweatshirt, let alone write a check!  Now I’ll all about Auto-Pay.  Not only does it save us money (stamp-wise) and time, we are also saving trees because we don’t receive those pesky monthly statements for half as many bills as we used to. 
  • TRADE OFF:  When the kids are sick or the weather is crappy, it’s obviously going to be an indoor-kind-of-day.  When this occurs (and it happened to us a lot this winter because of well below-zero temps and multiple illnesses!), we trade off playing with the kids every 30 minutes or so.  While B watches the kids for 30 minutes, I can focus on making the boys’ beds, chopping veggies for dinner and cleaning the bathroom without having to refill a sippy cup with water, change a diaper, or break up a fight over the stuffed monkey.  When the 30 minutes are up, I feel like I got a few items checked off the To Do list and I can focus 100% of my attention on the boys while Brook picks up the dog poop in the backyard!  :) 
  • FEED ON-THE-GO:  For quite a few reasons, I used to be adament about being home for the boys’ mealtimes.  But in the last few months, I’ve got I bit more relaxed about feeding the boys while we are out and about.  Although it’s a bit of a pain to pack up the boys food, it’s certainly worth the extra time and effort so that you don’t have to rush home when you’re out running errands or enjoying an afternoon hike.  The past few weeks, we’ve also got in the habit of stopping for lunch at a little cafe across the street from the grocery store.  All four of us eat lunch (although the boys mostly people-watch) and then head over to the store to do our weekly shopping.

How does your family fit in a little bit o’ fun on the weekend while still making sure you take care of those have-to tasks that always seem to be looming over us?

Product Review: Burley d'lite

Sharing our love for the great outdoors with our kids was something that B and I looked forward to since the day we found out I was pregnant.  As Alaskans, we live in a winter wonderland from October to May and are then blasted with 20+ hours of daylight from May until August.  It’s very easy to escape into the mountains or cruise on up to the trails because they are, literally, right in our backyard.  Of course, as easy as it is to get your outdoor fix in Alaska, when you have kids, having the right gear is a must! During the winter, we enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.  And when summer comes around, it’s all about biking and hiking!  With the exception of hiking, the Burley d’lite bike/ski/stroll trailer is a multi-season must-have for toting two kidos around the neighborhood, ski trails and/or bike paths so that the whole family can get their outdoor fix. 

Once our kids hit the 1-year mark this past January, we were very excited to try out the Burley!  Because it was winter, the We! Ski kit was a must.  The Burley d’lite itself is a bike trailer, however, there are several conversion kits that you can purchase depending on what activities you plan to do with your Burley.  We opted for the We! Ski kit and the Stroller kit.  We have a BOB Revolution Duallie that we use for rough terrain and daily walks, so opted not to purchase the Jogger kit.   

For the boys’ first Burley trip, we took them out for a cross-country ski in the fields a few miles from our house.  The Burley folded up very quickly and easily so that we were able to put it in the back of our Subaru Outback.  If you had an SUV or even a slightly larger trunk-area than we have with our Subaru, there would not even be a reason to fold it.  Unfolding the Burley, once at our destination, was simple and involved only a few clicks and we were good to go!   

The roomy interior seats are suspended over the wheel axles and are made of heavy-duty mesh.  Much like our BOB Revolution Duallie, the shoulder harness is a 5-point system (though it’s a bit different than a typical 5-point) and extremely well-padded.  The seats are able to be reclined, though not independently. Depending on the weather, the Burley offers two levels of protection for your tykes.  For mild conditions (or to keep the bugs away), the mesh screen provides adequate protection and allow your babes to feel the wind on their cheeks.  For cold, harsh or windy weather, the plastic wind screen provides additional protection from the elements and keeps the kids warm and cozy.  The dual-zippers make it simple to change the cover from one level of protection to the other, and also allows easy access to your kids.  Being that we live in the Land of the Midnight Sun, we are always concerned about sun protection.  The side-windows and wind-screen cover on the Burley are not only tinted, but also offer UV protection.  Coupled with the adjustable sun-shade (which offers much more coverage than the typical stroller shade), the kids are well protected. 

open
mesh

From a parent’s perspective, the Burley is very well built, yet extremely light for its ruggedness!  The whole kitten caboodle weighs in at 28 lbs, which is much less than our BOB (32 lbs) or our every-day stroller, the Maclaren Twin Traveller side-by-side (32 lbs).  The only bummer is that there aren’t any cup holders, but obviously these would only be needed with the stroller kit.  There is, however, ample storage room in the rear.  We’ve been able to stuff extra clothes, snacks and sippy cups with room to spare. My husband has both cross-country and skate-skied with the We! Ski attachment without having a problem using either technique, thanks to a well-padded and snug-fitting hip harness.  When turning corners, however, I’d recommend taking them slower than you usually would without a trailer attached to you.  Although the Burley is designed to not tip over even if you fall, it’s still best to play it safe…not to mention, your kids will be more likely to keep their lunch down.  When hill climbing, although you will notice the extra weight that you are pulling, it’s surprisingly easier than you’d think because the weight is very evenly distributed across your hips. 

ski

When using the Stroller kit, which we’ve done only a handful of times, it was hard for me to get used to not pushing something with huge wheels at first.  I found that I had to be a bit gentle with curbs and ice/snow patches than I would normally do with our BOB, but this is due to a smaller front wheel attachment.  While I would not recommend buying the Burley strictly for use as a stroller, I do think it is a fine option for dry pavement. 

stroll

Once the snow melts, you can count on another product review of the Burley d’lite in its purest form…as a bike trailer!  But until the temperatures warm up and we know that spring is here to stay in Alaska, all four of us will continue to enjoy the Burley while we ski or stroll!

Movin' on up!

This post, my friends, will contain absolutely no advice.  Zero.  Zip.  Zilch.  Instead, I’m asking for your advice.  Can you help?  Please?

Earlier in the week, Rebecca wrote a post about the shrinking of your living space once twins come into the picture.  Two babies at once = lots-o-stuff.  No matter how large your house, it seems to shrink exponentially as the months in which your kids have inhabited the Earth go by.  First, it’s the bouncy seats, swings, play mats, and Bumbo chairs that liter the living room.  Then around the 5th month mark, the aforementioned items are handed down to another expectant MOM (to fill up her living room!), and it’s the Exersaucers, Jumperoos and high chairs that take their place. 

We sold the ol’ Exersaucer and Jumperoo on Craigslist a month or two ago and, damn…that was a happy day!  “More space!!”, B and I said to each-other.  That was, until they started walking.  And climbing.  And being….well, 1-year olds! 

It was at that time that we decided enough-was-enough and started looking around at houses.  Right now, the space in which we live is 1,388 square feet.  That seemed HUGE before we had kids.  We would rarely even use our downstairs, which includes two bedrooms and a bathroom.  We had one entire bedroom (now the boys’ room) that contained nothing more than backpacks and sleeping bags.  We stored them in the abandoned room simply because something had to be in there.  It couldn’t just be….empty! 

Now we seem to be bursting out at the seams of our little home.  The boys enjoy exploring every square inch.  And the primary-colored plastic explosion that is now our living room…well, it needs to be a bit bigger. 

We’ve been looking at houses for a few months now.  While attending open houses, even the 1,600 square foot homes seem SO big.  But we know that, once the boys get older, that amount of space will seem small as well.  So, we decided to stay around the 2,000 square foot mark.  Not to big, but not too small.  I’m all for living in the smallest amount of space that is feasible for a family.  Less to heat, less to clean and less space to search when your kid plays a game of “hide mommy’s car keys”. 

So.  We need to move into a bigger home.  Check.  That would entail us having to sell our current home…and you guessed it!  That’s where you come in! 

Dear readers, how is a family of four supposed to live in their current home, all while giving the “illusion” that it is not lived in?  How do you make your home as uncluttered as possible when you have two one-year olds and all of the paraphernalia that accompanies them, cluttering up your house?  Moreover, how are you supposed to show your house when you and your husband both work full-time and the only time during the week that you have available to show your home is between the hours of 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm, which also happens to coincide with the time in which your two little munchkins start flinging sweet potatoes and black beans all over the dining room (aka, their dinner time)?

If any of our readers have experienced selling their current home and moving into a new house with kids in tow, we want to hear from you!  Give us your tips on staying sane while movin’ on up… 

The man in your bed

Some time around the 3rd month, I rolled over one morning after a (blissful!) 4-hour stretch of sleep to find a man in my bed.  As I rubbed my sleepy eyes to get a better look, I wondered…”who was this mysterious fellow that I had, apparently, spent the night with?”, and then I noticed that he looked suspiciously like an exhasted version of the man I married a few years back.

When B and I first found out that, “Surprise! It’s twins!”, after the initial shock, I found myself more in love with my husband than ever before.  Those 9 months of waiting and anticipating were amazing!  We’d go out to dinner and talk endlessly about how, in a few months, we’d be bringing our boys hiking, camping and out to dinner.  We found ourselves constantly repeating, “I can’t wait when the boys….XYZ”.  We’d plan our future as a family right from the dinner table. 

What was missing from all of our discussions was how having twins would affect our marriage. 

Fast forward 9 months and, although the love was still there, our relationship as husband and wife changed.  Drastically.  For the first 3 months, instead of B the Husband, I was now co-habitating with B, the Father of my Children.  He went from Husband to Teammate/Nightshift worker/Sandwhich maker/Diaper changer/Guy who poured my miniscual amounts of EBM into little plastic bags to be frozen.  Our deepest conversations usually happened at 2am (the end of his “shift”), when my Teammate would give me a quick report on what time each kid peed, pooped, slept and ate.  We’d slap eachother’s hands with a “TAG!  You’re it!” gesture and we were off to our respective posts.  B to the bedroom for some zzz’s before getting up to go to work and me to the family room where I would watch over the babes. 

Oh, those first months were tough!  Between sleep deprivation, hormone fluctuations, doctor’s appointments, visitors, and breastfeeding struggles, there just wasn’t enough time for “us”.  Rarely did we kiss, rarely did we hug, and rarely did we have enough energy to ask how eachothers’ day had gone.  For two people who once decided to share the rest of their lives together, this was quite a change.

No book, magazine, pre-birth class or best friend can prepare you for the post-birth relationship that you’ll have with your spouse.  There’s the BAD:  You’ve just washed the 21st bottle of the day and the sink is finally empty until your husband decides he can’t take the extra 1.3 seconds to put his dirty silverware in the dishwasher (where it belongs).  You yell.  He yells.  And then the babes start yelling (even louder than you both combined) and procede to projectile vomit all over the couch cushion that you just steam cleaned for the millionth time since D-Day.  And then, of course, you forget what you were even arguing about because you are both attempting to rescue a kid from Lake Vomit.  And then there’s the GOOD:  The kids are both quiety asleep in their bouncers, keeping their Soothies in place.  The dinner that your neighbor graciously prepared is piping hot and ready to be enjoyed.  You both sit down at the table (at the same time!).  And finish the entire meal, all while engaging in conversation that doesn’t include the word “poop”, before the kids wake up to be fed.

Because hindsight is 20/20, I compiled a list of little things that you and your spouse can do during the first (exhausting!) months in an attempt to shift the focus back to the real reason why you started out on this Great Adventure called Parenting:  LOVE!

  • Say “please” and “thank-you”.  It sounds lame, but they aren’t called The Magic Words for nothin’.   
  • Take a break, alone, at least once a day.  And no, pumping breast milk in a quiet (and kid-free) room does not count. 
  • Take a break, together, once a day.  When both kids are asleep, try to spend a few minutes re-connecting, even if it’s just doing the dishes together for 10 minutes (though, this isn’t really a “break”).  Talk about your day, ask your spouse where he’d like to go on vacation (in 2 years), or what book he’s looking forward to reading (and yes, you will read for pleasure again one day!  I promise).  Just don’t talk about how exhausted you are and that you’re not sure if you’re going to make it through the next day without a stiff martini.
  • Hug and kiss your spouse.  Seriously.  It only takes a second.
  • Focus on the positive.  The first few months are rough, but they will also be filled with some of your most cherished moments.  Enjoy the little things that matter.  Sure, feeding two infants at once is anything but easy, but really…how many people in this world get the chance to do this?  Just knowing that you ARE doing it is and, by god, it’s working!, is reason to celebrate!
  • Don’t keep a tally.  Maybe you had to fold the 4 loads of laundy that have been sitting in the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper for 2 days straight, but your spouse fixed the wobbly wheel of your used Snap-n’ Go (without having to ask him!) that you discovered after today’s pedi appointment.
  • Plan your first night out.  Someday…soon…there will be a time when you and your spouse can get the hell out of the house.  Together, sans the bundles of joy.  It’ll be exciting and it will be terrifying.  But, it’s got to happen sooner or later…and, anticipation is the best part!  What restaurant will you go to?  What will you order?  Will you be able to finish an entire glass of wine without feeling highly buzzed?

It was’t until the sixth-month mark that I finally started to recognize the man in my bed.  Even if I’d occassionally find that same man on the couch, after kicking him out in the middle of the night to make room for two squirmy kids.  

Our babes are almost 13 months now, and B and I are still attempting to figure out the delicate balancing act between career, children and marriage.  They say you can’t have it all.  But damnit, I’d like to try.