Life Saver

Amidst one of the crazier weeks of my entire life, it’s especially reassuring to find something that will truly make things easier for all of us. It doesn’t happen often, but I have great hopes for this product. My mom witnessed its magic at a hospital recently and thought it was so amazing, she ran out and bought one for us as a Valentine’s Day present (thanks mom!). And without further ado…

The easiest thermometer to ever exist! It’s a temporal scanner device and all you have to do is lightly pass it over the forehead for a temp reading as accurate as a rectal thermometer. Brilliant! I don’t know about you, but it’s never given me much pleasure to take a rectal on my kids. It was one thing when they were infants, but now that they are two…well, you can forget about it. And any prodding to their underarm or ear area is out of the question, too. This is so easy, so quick, and so painless – and you can take their temp without waking them while they are sleeping. Amazing!

It’s a little pricey ($40 range), but if this existed when my kids were born, I would have gladly invested in it. No cleaning with rubbing alcohol necessary. No germ transfer worries. We can all use it, easy peasy.

Here’s to easier times for us all!

Belly Up

Alright gals, I did it. After two years of agonizing over the appearance of my belly, I finally got the gumption to go to the plastic surgeon. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually have anything done. But I took the first step with a consultation. And let me tell you, it was fifty bucks well spent.

First off, if you have the ambition of making a crap-load of money during your time here on earth, become a plastic surgeon. I stepped into this guys’ office, and I felt like I was at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Super deluxe…and I live in Austin, Texas, where you can go to a five star restaurant in jeans and a tank top (and don’t forget your cowboy hat!). When I got a look at his fees; let’s just say he makes somewhere in the range of $1,500 an hour. Not bad!

I was oddly comfortable waiting for Dr. 78735 in the plush terry robe and g-string scrubs, although it would have been nicer if they had offered me a glass of wine and a pedi while I waited. He entered the room and after brief introductions, asked me what I was interested in. Huh – isn’t that what you’re supposed to tell me? I admitted that I was a total neophyte and meekly stated a tummy tuck and a boob job. He asked if I wanted both a breast augmentation and lift. I answered with a blank look. After some discussion over the technicalities of each procedure (more blank looks), it was time to disrobe (eegads!).

The unveiling wasn’t that bad. I was diagnosed with a large umbilical hernia (which my insurance would cover – whoopee!), major diastasis (above and below and all around the tap that my Be Bo has become), stretched-out skin and, of course, stretch marks. He pronounced that I would need a full tummy tuck to correct everything. He’d try and use my existing c-section scar and then cut a smiley face to each hip bone, a general surgeon would come in and fix the hernia, he would pull my ab muscles back into place, and then stretch my skin downwards to get rid of all the unsightliness. All of the skin and stretch marks from my belly button down would be gone (as in cut out forever), and the stretch marks above my BB would be much less visible because they would be, um, really stretched. Lovely.

As for the boobs, he said I wouldn’t need a lift. After 13 months of breastfeeding two babies, imagine that! At least there was some good news to this visit. But he said an augmentation would “restore the look and fullness” to my deflated mom boobs. He said silicone was the only way to go, because it feels the most like breast tissue. I nodded and tried to mask another blank look.

We sat back down and talked more technicalities of the actual surgery. It’d last about 4 hours, I would need at least one overnight in the hospital (he recommended two), and a pain pump was the way to go (kind of like an epidural for the stomach). The kicker was when I heard about the recovery time. The boob job was hardly anything. The tummy tuck? Six weeks. Yes, you heard me. Six weeks of lifting no more than 10 pounds. With twin two year olds, one of whom attaches himself to me as if he wants to be back in utero, good luck on that one!

After the consultation, I had the pleasure of posing in my g-string scrubs for some pictures. With mirrors and umbrella lights in each corner and a pretty, skinny young thing taking the pictures – let’s just say it was a humbling experience. She took about ten photos, and to add insult to injury, made me step on the scale. They program this whole experience just right, because then I was ushered into a room to view before and after pics. All I can say is AMAZING! I couldn’t believe my eyes. And I loved seeing bellies that looked far worse then mine looking gorgeous after a tummy tuck.

A lovely lady in her 50s entered the room with lots of paperwork and walked me through the process and the expenses. Pretty amusing that she went into all of the details of surgery and recovery, as if I had already signed on, before going over the itemized estimate. Nice to know I have the option of spending my second night of recovery not in the hospital, but at the beautiful Barton Creek Resort where I would have nurses waiting on me and lymphatic massage therapists at my disposal. And then I saw the only piece of paper that mattered. All in all, even with insurance covering the hernia portion, a tummy tuck and boob job would cost…

$14,000. Yes, you saw that right.

She pulled out the doctor’s schedule and asked me what time frame I was looking at. I answered her with an unabashed blank look. I managed to ask if there was any “wiggle” room in the estimate (the negotiator that I am). She said if I removed the second night at the hospital and got rid of the pain pump, that could bring it down $750. Oh, and the $50 consultation charge would be deducted from the cost. Wow. Great.

Now that it’s been a few weeks, I’ve decided against the boob job. After some quick research, I learned that boob jobs have at most a ten year life span. So once you get one, you can plan on getting another every ten years until you have no more money left. Not my cup of tea. Plus, the silicone that was recommended has a lot more maintenance. Like MRIs every few years to check for leaks. With saline, if it pops, you know it. All of the above I wish to never experience in my lifetime (nothing against boob jobs, though!). So I plan on calling them back and getting a new estimate for just the tummy tuck. Not because I’m going to get one anytime soon, but just so I know how much I need to save over the next five years. Amidst a downward spiraling economy.

Belly be damned, I do plan on getting you fixed eventually. But for now, it’s you and me, belly. No matter how ugly you are, we’re in it for the long haul.

You can read my other post on post-partum ugliness here. And to be totally jealous of one HDYDI mama who has a killer and unscathed post-partum belly, read here.

Share and (not) Share Alike

Our house is turning into a “sharing-free” zone. It has been to a certain extent for a while, but it’s now almost complete. So if you are sick of saying, “honey, you have to share your puzzle with your brother,” only to have both kiddos freak out, take refuge with us for a while!

It wasn’t always this way. For the first six months, EVERYTHING was shared. It just didn’t matter, to them or to us. Ahhhh…the simplicity of it all! Then “I want that!” entered their developing psychologies, and while it wasn’t a substantial strain, it ushered in the era of disgruntled babies who had their siblings rip toys out of their hands. One of mine handled it far better than the other, but it made me realize I needed a consistent strategy for mediating the situation. So I decided, at this very early stage, that if someone was playing with a particular object, it was theirs for the time being. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Only when they were finished could the other one have it. And if it were taken prematurely, I stepped in and returned it to its temporary owner. Of course I did this as gently and comforting as possible. As far as non-toy items (clothes, etc.) the boys still shared everything.

This was all fine and dandy until the boys hit one, and the concept of territory became acute. The battles over toys, food, clothes and attention escalated at a rapid clip. Reffing became a full-time occupation. The rules of the game: no hiting, biting, hair pulling or pushing. Yah right. It was truly trying to ref and call no-holds barred fights. No matter what, though, if you took something, you had to return it. I was generous in giving them plenty of time to process the concept of returning. And it took time. And many times of me returning the object for them. But they started to catch on and I saw real progress. Stealing became less and less. And if they did steal, they even started to catch themselves and give it back without prompting. The praise flowed like the Nile on these occasions.

We would go to the playground and I’d watch (and still watch) other kids bulldoze themselves into toys – grabbing, throwing, taking. The parents of the accosted would say to their dumbstruck child, “you have to share! Johnny can play with that for a while.” I say, screw that philosophy. How would you feel if you were sitting on a park bench, totally content surfing the web or texting on your iPhone, and some random stranger ripped it out of your hands and started emailing their friend? And then pitched a fit at you when you were forced to nicely ask for it back! Oh, the injustice of being a child sometimes.

We’ve maintained this no sharing philosophy pretty well. Of course, they need to play with a few things together, namely the train set. And this becomes a challenge. But we even set up the tracks to have many options so they are not constantly bumping into each other. However, I’ve just begun to realize that the boys still technically “share” everything. They have no toys, no books, no clothes, not even their comfort blankets, that are expressly theirs. The only thing they don’t share is their shoes – and this is by necessity because Oskar has mallets for feet and wears a Stride Rite XW. But I’ve noticed the boys becoming acutely aware of whose is whose and starting to naturally assign ownership. It started a few months ago. Oskar pointing and saying, “Abie’s milk.” Abel doing a roundhouse ID of where everyone sits at the table, “Mommy’s chair, Ozzy’s chair, Daddy’s chair!” And their overall general interest in identifying themselves as individuals. Abel points proudly to himself and say’s with a big smile “ABIE!” This is a big deal, because three months ago, if I showed them a picture of Oskar and asked them who it was, they’d both exclaim, “ABIE!”

So things are changing even more in the direction of no sharing in our house. Shirts are being identified as expressly Oskar’s or Abel’s (and it’s their doing – Abel got the monkey shirt from Lee-Lee for Christmas and he as required it to remained so. And vice-versa). Salty is Ozzy’s train. Thomas is Abel’s. And they have developed an awesome system for “sharing” their belongings all on their own. It’s called the trade. They actually ask each other if they want to trade, and if they are both in agreement, whaalaa! If they are not both in agreement, no go. Pretty cool! Of course, now I find myself reffing “trading” matches when they’re not on the same page, but I’ll take it.

I think given their strong self-awareness and human nature, the tide will continue to turn in this direction. Which makes things more complicated to manage. However, I can’t help but believe this no-sharing philosophy has some merit. Multiples are confronted with identity challenges that don’t enter the world of singletons. They are also forced to, on many levels, share so many things from conception on. This is a remarkable blessing and a curse. The more I can foster their own sense of individuality and ownership in things, the better off they will be. Because even though I maintain this “no sharing” mantra, the reality is they have to develop a sense of sharing and one another way earlier than a singleton child. They are birthed in a world that doesn’t solely revolve around just them.

I’ve often wondered if multiples behave differently than singletons in larger play situations? If they steal less, respect personal space more? Or if kids will be kids, regardless. Sounds like a cool HDYDI study. Leave your experiences with how you handle your kids sharing (or not sharing!) in the comments and let’s see!

Prep School

My boys start school in a week.

I found out that two spots had opened up for them last August, but it just didn’t feel like the right time. We had upcoming travel to California. Their nana was moving to town a few weeks later. There was a lot of change in their lives and I didn’t want to push it. After much deliberation, talking to the school administrators, conferring with other moms, we decided they would start with the new year. I marked the calendar. January 5th was the day.

Way back in October, I began my plan to gradually prepare them for this day. We casually talked about school. We regularly looked at a fantastic book called “Wow! School!” that I found at in the dollar bin at the grocery store. We drove past school and waved and marveled at the playground. In November, I scheduled a visit for the boys to meet their teacher and play outside with their classmates. It was a huge success. In December, we had two visits where the the boys and I spent the first hour in the classroom for their day opening activities. We’ve talked about school almost every day.

And now that we are a week away, I’m talking with them specifically about what to expect. That they will stay at school without mommy. That I will drop them off and they will spend time at school without me, like big boys, and they will play and learn and laugh and eat, and then I will be back to pick them up. When we talk about it they are happy and say things like, “school!” and “teetee! (teacher)” and “play!” We started our day today by driving by school and waving and then going to Starbucks across the street for a blueberry muffin. We’ll do this a few more times this week. I feel like they are exhaustively prepared and I’m exhausted just from reiterating all of it!

And yet, I feel completely and utterly unprepared!

How did this sneak up on me like this? I’ve spent almost every single hour of every single day of the past two years with them, and now what? How am I supposed to say goodbye to them? At almost two, are they too young for this? Will they be sick every day for the next six months from all the germs? Where do I get a freaking nap mat and can I get the 1 inch kind or should I spring twenty bucks for the 2 inch thick deluxe version? What the heck do I pack them for lunch? You mean I have to PACK them a lunch every night?!

Emotionally I feel completely ambivalent. On one hand, I feel we are all ready for this. They will strive in a structured Montessori environment. They will learn so much from people who are trained to teach toddlers. They will learn even more from being around their peers. And I know the social interaction is worth its weight in gold. The boys are great around other kids, but I’ve noticed more and more lately how they tend to cling to each other. And define what they are doing by what their brother is doing. I know this is all natural, but I want to give them the tools early on for being socially independent. Or at least giving them an environment where they can choose to be socially independent from one another.

Selfishly, I also crave some social independence. My existence has been crucially tied to them since they were born. I feel such gratitude to my husband, to the universe, for making this possible. But I’ve become increasingly antsy and want to start doing more things for myself. Professional undertakings, health-and-diet improvements, a kitchen remodel – I have goals and lists that make me dizzy. But most important, I want to regain a sense of “me” again. Lastly, the boys are quickly approaching numero dos, which has brought utter joy and hilarity, as well as incredibly intense challenges. Not that I want to cop out, but I’m pretty excited about getting a daily break from this.

But all these very healthy and logical reasons doesn’t stop the ache, the hesitation and the sense of impending loss that has invaded my heart the past few days. More than anything, it’s manifesting me to second guess our choice of school. Our last visit left me wanting. The teacher was running late so the aids were running the class. Things seemed chaotic. An aid grabbed a toy out of a child’s hand without warning. They read the kids an appalling book about a child who does everything wrong at school. I heard a lot of nos and negatives, which isn’t my style of parenting. Kids were coughing all over each other and one girl had green snot spewing out of her nose. I’m freaking out just recalling it. But I also know this is just my brain’s way of trying to flee.

I can’t help but feel a sense of loss in all this. Like this is the last week I’ll spend with my boys. Our last hurrah. Silly, I know. I’ll still see them every morning, every afternoon and every evening. But I think the loss I feel goes deeper. It means I need to let go. Lighten my grip. Allow someone, other than myself, my husband or nana, to care for my boys. I think our last visit freaked me out so much because I had to accept, in some way, an environment that was out of my control. This is a big deal for me. Not because I’m some neurotic control freak. It’s just because I’m a mom. And as a mom I realize that at some point I will have to let go. A little bit at first, a little more later, and a hell-of-a-lot more when they grab the keys to the car and say, “see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya!” This is my first time letting them out of my protective wingspread, and truth be told, I’m scared. So much so I actually had a dream a few months back that they died at school. The worst dream I ever had. Maybe I need therapy?

I know I will get through this and in a month or so I will be singing the praises of school. It’s just weighing so heavy, as I’m sure it does for millions of other parents dropping off their babies (no matter how old they are) at school/day care/etc. for the first time. It’s just going to be a tough few first weeks. Or maybe it won’t. But regardless, things will be very different around here.

Amidst the whirlwind of emotions, I am very excited. Thrilled even. To realize that I’ve gotten the boys this far and now they are ready for the next step. To witness what they soak in and learn in this new environment. To realize that I’m going to have a bit of freedom again in my life, an opportunity to re-imagine and re-identify myself. To seize this time I will have for myself, and cherish, perhaps even more deeply, the time I have with my boys.

Completely scary and completely thrilling. Just like parenting always is.

Dropping them off at school for the first time can't be half as scary as watching them climb an eight foot rope ladder at the same time!

Dropping them off at school for the first time can't be half as scary as watching them climb an eight foot rope ladder at the same time!

The Neglected One

Lately I have been feeling pretty guilty. I was always a little worried about how my attention would be divided between the boys. Thoughts would swirl in my head as the boys floated in utero. Would I have a preference? Would I treat one differently than the other? Sure, there have been moments along the past 19 months where I’ve wondered if I do give preferential treatment, but honestly, those moments have been fleeting. On the whole, I feel pretty solid about the attention my boys get. It’s my dog that I’m worried about.

Oh Matilda, where do I start? How about with this picture.

Mati jumping off cliff into Barton Creek (not photshopped!)

Free spirit. Up for any adventure. Fearless. Snuggle bunny. Best friend. Totally compassionate. Unconditional love. Never wavering. Protector. By my side. Always. Before the boys were born, J and I would say, “how could we possibly love anything more than we love Matilda?” She was, and still is, our daughter.

But something has changed.

At first it was neglect via exhaustion. How could I take care of our dog when I had two infants to constantly care for? Heck, I could barely take care of myself. Walks were fewer and farther between. Attention whittled down to the bare minimum. Then it was all about the shedding. I would swiffer and mop almost daily, getting more and more frustrated that I had to spend my precious rest-time picking up dog hair. Ugh! Next it was her need to always be in the mix, laying down in the middle of where the boys were playing. Just getting in the way. Now it’s her carelessness, barreling down the boys as she runs to the door to go outside. She’s knocked them down more times than I can even count. Today was a doosey, as she thought a ball was being thrown for her and she ran, full speed, into Abel. We were all on the driveway and Abie flew a good two feet and head planted into the concrete. We all heard the thud. At the same time as my protective concern for my son flooded my body, crazy anger at Matilda coursed through my veins.

I have to keep reminding myself (over and over again) that Mati is just a dog. She doesn’t know any better and she doesn’t know any worse. She obviously doesn’t mean to do the things that make me frustrated or angry, let alone hurt these precious boys. It’s apparent that she loves these boys like they are her own and she endures anything and everything from them on a daily basis. Hair pulling, smacks, eye probing, teeth inspections, tail pulling, using her as a chair or stool, lots of hugs, lots of kisses, lots of treats, lots of smiling and lots of laughter at her antics. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s a give and take on both sides of the coin.

Mati is unfazed by Abel's foot in her eye!

The boys think Mati is the most comfy reading chair.

I’m trying hard to manage my feelings, because I truly do love this dog with all of my heart. I hate that I harbor any feelings of resentment or anger towards her. It also makes me sad that I can’t (or don’t) give her the attention that she wants and deserves. She is nothing but goodness. And so I’m trying, consciously, every day to show her how much I love and appreciate her. Aside from our cat (who doesn’t care anyways), Matilda has been demoted to low-dog-on-the-totem-pole. Her world has been turned upside down. And she has weathered it like a trooper. No lashing out. No destructive behavior. No jealousy. Just patiently, albeit closely, waiting for her turn for some love.

Playtime in the closet. Mati wedges herself in.

And so I try to be a better parent – not to my kids, but rather to my dog. More kisses, more hugs, more snuggles, more “I love yous.” More patience, more understanding, more keeping my frustration and anger in check. And I guess in so doing I do become a better parent to my boys. Because I want to be a good example for managing frustrating/challenging situations. I want to demonstrate, every day, how to treat Mati (and all animals) with compassion and respect. But more than anything else, I want them to grow up loving this dog more than I do.

Ill Communication

I was just dying to use a Beastie Boys’ album for a post title and I finally made it work! I don’t know which dates me better – the band or the fact that I actually used the word “album” rather than “CD.” Either way, I’m feeling old. But that’s besides the point. This post is about communication and I’m here to talk (or, er, write) about it.

Don’t get me wrong, we have a TON of talking going on in our house. There’s almost never a quiet moment, actually. We have sudden statements, pronouncements and talking through problems. We have long, drawn-out conversations and monologues. We have near constant object identification going on. And so many questions. It’s just that none of this appears to be in English. Twin talk is a very real phenomenon in our house, and I hate to admit it, but it’s workin’ my nerves. Occasionally there are real words peppered in, mainly when we prod them to use our native language. We can get hi, cracker and tractor, dog and duck, and a resemblance of truck and train out of Oskar. Abel will say hi (constantly), up and down, dog, uh-oh, baby (sometimes) and ball, and just like his brother, a resemblance of truck and train. And of course, mama and dada are staples, used and abused, in both repertoires. In fact, I think that J is the founding father of our boys’ language, as it’s core consists of the consonant-vowel combo “da-da.” a-dah-a-dah-a-bizul-bizel-dip-a-dah-yup. Please don’t ask me to translate.

We have moments of brilliance where the boys’ will say an English word perfectly. Today it was lion for Oz. Clear as a bell and when looking at the awesome roaring animal in Little Gorilla. Unmistakable. And never to be heard again. Their imitation of sentences in English is pretty amazing, too. Abel regularly says, “Yep, I do!” It catches people off guard it sounds so accurate and in perfect context. The intonation is spot-on. But da-da speak is 95 percent of what comes out of their mouths.

I worry they are behind in their speech development. At 17 months, shouldn’t they have more words?! I can’t help but compare them to other children their age who have mind-blowing vocabs of 50 and 60 words. I’m not looking for a miracle here, but a consistent ten words would be fabulous. Will they continue to refine their own language and just leave English for the rest of us chumps? Will they need some crazy therapy intervention so people can understand them before they enter kindergarten? These are the thoughts that keep me up at night and make me consider enrolling them in Montessori come August, just so they can have regular exposure to peers who speak our common language.

And then there’s the side of me that says “get a grip!” They are clearly smart, interactive and communicative lil’ guys that are up-to-snuff in all other areas of their development. And it’s not that they don’t understand English. I can tell them to do virtually anything and they do it. I even test them with more sophisticated directions – “put the brown sandals in the drawer.” I look down to see the grey sneakers and green sandals still on the floor and the brown gems tucked neatly in the dresser. Check. I google, “how many words should a 17 month old have?” and I read about the extremes. I check my Brazelton bible and read how you should get things checked out if your child is two with no intelligible words. I hear stories of friends whose kids were two before they uttered a word, and then out poured complete sentences. I reassure myself that we are still more than within the range of normal. I still worry.

Maybe I just feel left out. These boys are so wonderfully expressive and clearly have so much to say, it drives me nuts that I’m the odd-mom-out. Should I be working harder to understand their language? Is this normal for twins?

Clearly I’m at a loss for words. Dear readers, please help me decipher this code.

Food Fight

Our kids were glorious eaters. They would try anything. Sag paneer? Loved it. BBQ brisket? Couldn’t get enough. Ozzy could hold his own, but it was Abel who was the real superstar. We even nicknamed him Mikey. The kid would try anything and moan for more. We would hear parents complaining about their finicky kids and we would just shake our heads and count our blessings.

And then our boys turned one.

It’s been a steady downhill spiral since that day. Actually, it was more like a face plant you didn’t see coming. One day they were chowing down and the next day they wouldn’t touch a thing. My husband and I stood there scratching our heads, trying to reason this out. Surely it’s because they’ve been sick with colds. Oh wait, their molars! Yes, it’s because those pesky molars are coming in. But when the phase lasted one month, then two months – now going on four months – I realized something more was at work here. Our wonderful eaters had gone picky. Or a more accurate way of putting it, our babies had become toddlers. It’s as simple as that.

Since my frustration at meal times had also taken a downward spiral, I decided I needed to educate myself on ways to get my boys to eat. They are clearly not malnourished, and still have voracious appetites for all fruit, cheese, frozen waffles, tortillas and veggie sausage. But I felt like their diets were clearly lacking protein and veggies and I was determined to add these things back into their repertoire. Taking the advice of LauraC right here on HDYDI, I set off for my local Barnes and Noble in search of the magic bullet.

I ended up buying Child of Mine and gobbling it up in one sitting. It’s always so affirming to read your experiences, your every day, in black in white. I learned that my kids were, indeed, typical toddlers and I was a typical parent doing the typical things to get my kids to eat. Or rather to not eat. I learned that my bullishness and obsession with getting them to digest meat and vegetables were, more than likely, contributing and/or enhancing the problem. We were locked in a power struggle and I was going to lose. Every. Single. Time. Oh, and to my dismay, there is no magic bullet. And there is absolutely no way of “getting” your child to eat anything. It’s more about letting go and trusting that your child will eat what she needs to eat. And exposing them to good food so they can trust and learn to eat the wonderful things the world has to offer.

So I immediately set out to change my ways. Here’s the jist. It’s my responsibility to provide the what (a healthy variety of foods that we all eat), the when (three structured meals and two planned snacks) and the where (at the table in the form of family meals). It’s their responsibility to decide how much they want to eat and whether they want to eat at all. That’s the formula, plain and simple. After that you just need to take a step back, enjoy your meal, and allow your kids to do what they will with their food. No catering to them. No short-order cooking. No applause for touching a vegetable. No begging or pleading or putting a fork full of tender pot roast in front of their mouths.

So it’s been a week and I’m proud to say that we’ve had family dinner every single night. It’s been no small feat getting a homemade, complete dinner on the table by 5:30 pm. The first two nights I have to admit I was scared. I cooked like a whirling dervish, the kitchen was a wreck, and the food tasted so-so. But then I started figuring out good 30 minute meals that were yummy, accessible to 16 month olds, and satisfying to us. But my biggest fear was leaving the boys to their own devices for this long. To my delight, they are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves, with limited supervision, for upwards of 45 minutes! I put on The Backyardigans (or Sesame Street), which usually holds their attention for about 3 minutes. And then they just run around the house, coming in and out of the kitchen, swiffering, mowing our hardwood floors with their lawnmower, playing with their pint-sized pots and pans, etc. I think they seriously dig doing their own thing while I do mine. They enjoy being just as busy and productive as I do.

To my surprise, dinner time is actually…fun! They get the same things on their plates that we do, plus we always have a fruit salad and some form of bread and butter (since, if worse comes to worse, they will almost always eat this). Some nights they won’t even look at the “new” food. Some days they venture a finger in the chicken stir fry. There have even been a few bites – not that we were paying attention! There have also been a few meals that Oskar hasn’t eaten a thing. And we just have to respect that decision (with gritted teeth!). It’s certainly been a transition, but one that I hope sticks. Because I see progress already, but more than that, we are starting a solid ritual of breaking bread together at least once a day. What better way for the boys to learn good manners, respect, delicious food, conversation, exercising their own judgement and quality family time? Solid things, indeed.

The most important thing in all of this is letting go of my own expectations. It’s an important lesson, especially for a parent of toddlers, or a parent of any aged child for that matter. To have confidence in what you have provided – the offerings, the lessons, the foundation. And then to let go and trust that your child/ren will make the best decision for themselves. Because when it comes down to it, isn’t that what parenting is all about?

Leaving you with my favorite, no hassle dinner from this past week:

Lamb Kafta

1 lb ground lamb

2 minced green onions

A handful of chopped fresh parsley (or a few good shakes of the dried kind)

1 Tbsp paprika

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1-2 Tsp Salt/pepper (depending on how seasoned you like your meat)

1 Tbsp water (makes the meat juicy and moist)

Mix all ingredients together, form into patties or balls, and broil for 7 minutes on each side. You can even line a baking dish with foil for a no-mess clean up. Serve with warm pita, plain yogurt and a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, onion and feta. Yum!

every which way

it was a morning full of our regular friday routine of doctors appointments. first in line was the perinatologist for a non stress test and BPP (biophysical profile). since my blood pressure had been on the high side, i had to go every week for these more advanced tests to monitor the well being of our babes. this morning’s tests were just like the others – the boys were looking great. and my blood pressure was actually on the normal side of borderline. we left with the doctor saying, “maybe we won’t see you next week!” (which he had actually been saying for the past two appointments)

next up was our regular OB. he took a peek at my cervix and i was about 2 cm dilated (normal) and said, while everything looked good, he wanted to do more monitoring just to make sure my blood pressure wasn’t affecting the boys well being. his office is next door to the hospital, so he sent us up to labor and delivery for the tests. both jordan and i felt very strange as they admitted me into the maternity ward, like “what is really happening here?!” they gave me a gown, hooked me up to a blood pressure machine, strapped two monitors to my belly, drew some blood and tested my urine. after two hours, jordan was starting to get impatient and i was starting to wonder why were were still in the maternity ward. everything with the boys had checked out perfect and my blood pressure was, again, looking very good. the one thing were waiting on was the results of the blood test. that’s when dr. love walked in (yes, that’s really the name of our OB).

the blood test showed that my liver was functioning sub-optimally. i asked what that meant and the doctor gave me the grave diagnosis that if we waited it out, my body could stop functioning and he’s had patients slip into a coma in a matter of 12 hours. his next sentence was, “right now you’re healthy, the boys are healthy, so let’s have us some babies!” it was exactly one day and one month before my due date of feb. 27.

up until this point, i had been solely focused on having our boys with as little “interference” as possible. we had taken natural birthing classes and we’d talked to dr. love about my desire for a drug free birth. but now we were faced with a different situation than the one i had created in my mind and, i have to say, i’m pretty darn proud of my ability to quickly change gears (stubborn as i usually am!). both babies were vertex so we were set for an induced vaginal delivery. added to the safety factor, i was miserably uncomfortable at this point and it was almost a relief to know that in just a matter of hours our boys would be snug in our arms instead of cramped in my belly. so after a short discussion, jordan and i looked at each other, smiled, and said “it’s time to meet our boys!” my only nagging doubt was knowing the stress i incurred during the week due to some work emergencies. somehow in the back of my mind i still wonder if this all would have happened if i hadn’t been freaking out over work that week. my advice to all pregnant mamas: try to be as chill as possible, especially if your blood pressure is an issue.

as soon as the decision was made, jordan left the hospital and went into high gear. he had to run home, get our packed bags (thank god we did this two weeks prior!), get matilda (dog) and ally (cat) set at their caregivers, call our doula, etc. i called my parents to tell them what was happening and my mom and dad immediately scheduled their flight to be with us the following morning. and then the real “admittance” began. i signed a bunch of papers (we had done pre-admittance which helped reduce a lot of the paperwork), twice as many because we were having TWO births. i have to say that’s when it started to really sink in. reading and signing all of these papers for baby a and baby b. very soon i was going to meet our TWO babies, and be responsible for them for the rest of my life. i was going to be their mother. wow.

from that point on, things started happening fast. i was moved to our room – a regular labor and delivery room – and hooked up to an IV and administered pitocin. i was still by myself, but feeling pretty calm, and i was even able to call a few family and friends. it was a good time to just center myself and reflect on what was happening. i was so excited and a little bit scared of how this birth was going to go, although i had an overwhelming sense that everything would be just fine. and to my surprise, i had no reservations about how things were progressing and how we were dramatically veering from my “ideal” of birth. this was around 3:00 pm.

jordan got back to the hospital around 4pm and our wonderful doula, lanell, showed up shortly after. around 5:30pm dr. love came in to break my water. the nurse had tried about an hour earlier but had no success. it was a weird feeling having this gush of water come out, but to feel no pain sensation. and up until that point, despite getting pitocin, i hadn’t really felt any contractions. the doc said that would change soon. and it did. in a very. serious. way. i went from feeling no pain to having very intense contractions almost immediately. and mind you i didn’t want an epidural and was committed to going as far as i could without this assistance. by 7pm i was in the throws of labor and it was the most painful, intense thing i have ever experienced. i was a competitive gymnast my whole life and suffered countless injuries, body traumas, broken bones, 5 surgeries. you name it! nothing compared to the pain of labor. i think the fact that it was induced and didn’t naturally progress was a big factor. it was zero to sixty and i was totally overwhelmed. all i can say is thank god for our doula. she massaged my back, said inspiring, guiding words, and kept me going. i was having contraction after contraction, with sometimes less than 30 seconds between them. it was crazy. i was moaning, i was screaming, i was smashing my face into the pillow and drooling like mad, i was squeezing jordan’s hand so tight he honestly thought i was going to break some bones. and then they checked my cervix and it is was only dialted 5 cm. i was ready to give in.

i talked to jordan and my doula about getting an epidural and lanell gave me extra strength and assurance to keep going. after about three more hours of mind and time-bending labor, i felt an urge to push and lanell thought this was an excellent sign and asked the nurse to check me. we all thought for sure i was just about there. no deal – i had progressed, but was at 8 cm. ugh! i knew i didn’t have 2 more cm. in me without some serious help. without hesitation, i screamed “i’m done! get me an epidural! NOW!” it couldn’t come fast enough (after i made that decision, it was like the longest 10 minutes of my life waiting for it!), and as soon as it was in, it was instant relief. actually, it was more like sweet, sweet relief! all of the crazy pain i had experienced for the past 5 some odd hours vanished. i took a nap. i meditated. we listened to great music. i laughed. i imagined the birth. around midnight i started feeling a lot of pressure and asked the nurse to check. i was very close, but still not dilated to 10. an hour and more pressure later, she checked again and it was go time. time to push. so exciting!

i got to push on my side for a while, on my other side, and while it felt good, i wasn’t making as much progress as the nurse wanted. so she asked me to go on my back, which i was not thrilled about, but said i’d give it a try. it wasn’t as bad as i thought it would be. and i was getting much better at the “mechanics” of pushing, which basically consists of pushing through your butt, like you’re taking a monster poo.

finally, after about 70 minutes of pushing, abel’s head had crowned. it was beyond exciting and i could really feel it. part of me wishes i could have seen what was happening, but just seeing the excitement on jordan’s, lanell’s and the nurses faces, i knew something very powerful and amazing was happening. the nurse called in the doctor and EVERYTHING changed. we were lucky to stay in the L and D room the whole time, which i am so grateful for. no OR for the delivery, which is unusual. but within a matter of seconds, this wonderful, private, intimate birth sanctum that we had created for the past 10 hours totally changed. with the arrival of the doctor came about 7 others. the lights got bright, they wheeled in a two stations for the babies, it became cramped and chaotic. this was at 3am. it took another 30 minutes of crazy pushing with the doctor and his entourage before abel was born. dr. love had gone home and so a doctor we had never met was “at the helm.” he was a serious guy and it was clear that birthing our babies was serious business to him. “one big push and his head is out!” and i felt such amazing relief. two more pushes and our sweet abel was born at 3:38 am! as soon as he was out, the nurse tried to grab him to take him to the “examining” station. our doctor said no, this baby is going to his mother, and he put abie on my belly so i could hold him. i will never forget this, my first time seeing my first born. total magic. so overwhelming and beautiful. it was beyond what my mind could comprehend and i felt totally out-of-body. i was all heart.

after about a minute of me holding abel (or maybe it was 30 seconds), they whisked him away and it was back to business. push! push! push! all of a sudden i realized i had another baby to birth – it was oskar’s turn. i had no break between births. in retrospect, the one thing i wished was to have about a 10 minute break after abie was born. pushing one baby out is crazy, intense work and deserves some recuperation before going for it again. but for some reason it was very important to get oskar out as fast as possible. well, that just wasn’t ozzy’s style. he started out high in my uterus and after an hour of pushing, sometimes double and triple “rounds” of pushing without a break, plus the doctor being elbow deep (literally) trying to grab a leg to pull him out (oz was head down so it was to no avail), we were all spent. oz’s heart rate had a couple decelerations and the doc declared that he had only descended to the top of my pelvis. not a ton of progress for an hour of pushing. then the hot spot reared its ugly head. the epidural had worn off in one localized area, causing intense pain on the left side of my pelvis. i thought i had a cramp and was trying to stretch it mid pushes. hysterical now that i look back, but not fun while it was happening. the doc probably thought i was a nut ball. i remember pushing the epidural button like 50 times. the doc looked at us and said, “i think we need to call this.” i looked at everyone and said, “i’m done. get oskar out.” it was as simple as that, and then the energy changed once again as i was wheeled into the OR and prepped for a c-section.

meanwhile while i was pushing ozzy, abel started retracting, meaning his breaths weren’t getting easier with time, but was struggling to breath like it was his first breath. so they rushed him off to the NICU and i told jordan to stay with him. so jordan had no idea what was going on with oskar’s birth until he came down at the tail end to find me being wheeled out of L and D to the OR. jordan reassured me that abel was going to be just fine and was with me as i was prepped for surgery. i was surprisingly calm through all of this. it was just what needed to be done. until the doctor pinched my stomach to make sure i was totally numb and i said “you just pinched me. of course i felt that!” the doc told the anesthesiologist that he needed to get me ready for general since i wasn’t numb enough and they needed to get oz out. i looked at him and i must have had such fear, desperation and disappointment in my eyes that he said back to the doc, “it will take me 5 minutes.” the doc, in a less than cordial voice said, “we don’t have 5 minutes, do it now!” our anesthesiologist gave me a knowing look and said, “give me one minute,” and soon i felt my whole body go numb, up to my chest, and he said back to the doctor, “check her again.” i felt nothing, and a second later i heard, “cutting!” our oskar was born at 4:48 am. i got to see his beautiful face after he was all cleaned up and bundled up, but he was off to the NICU too, as he was retracting just like his brother. jordan left to be with our newborns and our angel doula stayed with me through the tormenting post-op period.

i hadn’t even considered a c-section while i was educating myself and preparing for the birth of our boys, so i was completely ignorant to what was going on the whole time. as they started to put me back together, my whole body started shaking, trembling like i have never experienced. i felt like i could barely breath. i couldn’t even control my teeth from chattering. it was misery. and i wish i would have known what to expect or had talked to the doc about getting some meds to take this edge off. thank god the shaking only lasted for about 30 minutes, but it seemed like forever. lanell stroked my hair and face and rubbed my arms and hands, talking me through it. she was a god-send. i started to feel better and was wheeled into recovery. jordan joined me shortly after and said the boys were fine. we both crashed. jordan was in a deep sleep for about two hours and i kept going in and out of consciousness, reliving some of the past events, wanting to see my babies, but so exhausted at the same time. i remember just wanting the nurse to come in so i could find out when i could leave recovery and see our babies, and it seeming like forever.

by 7am or so, we were finally taken to our regular post-partum room and i was feeling really good. i had so much energy, i wasn’t tired a bit, and i was ready to hold my babies. i made a few phone calls to family and friends to tell them about the birth of our boys (they were all STUNNED that i was talking at this point!). jordan went to see the boys and took some forbidden video to show me. by 8:30am i got a phone call from the NICU that the boys had been taken off oxygen and were ready to start nursing. our nurse at that point had said because of the c-section, i couldn’t get out of bed for a few more hours. but our doc came in shortly after and said i was cleared to go visit our babies. so off we went! it was a miracle to really hold them for the first time, to touch their skin, to kiss their cheeks and their hands. to have them breastfeed, which they both did pretty good that first time, considering being born at 36 weeks. jordan and i were instantly beyond in love, beyond happy. our beautiful boys were finally with us on the outside. we could see what they looked like. after 9 months of imagining, dreaming and talking about what they would be like, here they finally were, right before us. amazing is all i can say.

the boys were in the NICU for the next three days for monitoring. it was tough to have our healthy boys stuck in this place, attached to all these monitors, and having our interactions with them controlled by, what we coined, the “neo-nazi-NICU-nurses.” at the same time, we were able to get full nights of sleep while the nurses fed them every 3 hours, and recover from what was probably the most stressful, traumatic, amazing and profound event of lives. this was a very good thing. during the day we were on a 3 hour schedule of going to the NICU, nursing each boy for 20 minutes (and no more!), feeding them a formula supplement, changing their diapers, cuddling, and putting them down to sleep. we probably got about one hour in between these periods to go back to our room, eat, take a nap, and do anything else we needed to do. jordan was amazing during these first few days. he was born to be a dad and to care for these boys. he was my constant companion and supporter, such a rock. and i wouldn’t dream of this journey without him.

as far as post-op pain, i won’t lie and say it was a piece of cake. my insides felt like they had been turned inside out because, well, they had! it hurt to move, period. i can only recommend to stay on top of the pain with meds. i took ibuprofen and something a little stronger to help manage it all. i was super lucky and didn’t tear at all during the vaginal birth, so i really only had to contend with the pain from the c-section. i took all the anti-gas, stool softener stuff, too. this may be gross, but i remember desperately wanting to take a poo after the second day. the nurse brought me some hot apple juice and it magically did the trick. we had great nurses and another one taught me the best way to get up and out of bed. from your back, bend your one leg and push yourself to your side. then push with your arms to a sitting position while sliding your legs down the bed to get your feet to the floor. it’s a lot easier to use the automatic bed to help you get up while you’re in the hospital. but after your surgery, make sure and ask your nurse to teach you the best way to get up. it makes a HUGE difference!

we felt incredibly blessed because after three days the boys were discharged from the NICU and got to spend our last night in the hospital with us in the room. it was weird! for the first time, it was just the four of us as a family. we had to set the alarm to wake up to feed them throughout the night. they were such sound sleepers! we were unsure parents, having had the nurses looking over us, helping us along while they were in the NICU. but we were so unbelievably happy that were were all together, able to finally get to know each other on our own terms. we probably got out of bed every hour to stare over the boys sleeping together in their crib. the next day we were all discharged home. my parents had flown in from chicago the morning the boys were born and had been at the hospital every day supporting us during our stay. they brought us food, love and encouragement, and they had the house all ready for our arrival. what an incredible feeling to walk into our home for the first time carrying our boys. matilda fell in love with them immediately. no growling, no barking, just sniffs and licks and calm.

and so it began…the boys’ entry into this world. i dreamed of two births that would be simple, intervention-free and beautiful. i got two births that were complicated, full of medical intervention and beautiful in their own right. most people hear my story with a horrified expression and say something like, “you poor thing, you had to go through it all!” i honestly don’t feel that way. at all. i wouldn’t trade this experience in for the world. i feel honored to have experienced the utter glory and bliss of a vaginal birth. i also feel blessed that we knew what we needed to do with oskar to get him out safely. and as momentous as birth is, and as much preparing as we do for it, 16 months later it honestly feels like a blip on our family time line. it is the beginning of so much. so much fun, love, smiles, growing, laughter, tears, questions, pain, craziness and utter wonder. utter wonder.

Set Point

I’ve always been a big proponent of the treating-twins-as-unique-individuals philosophy. I never dress the boys in matching outfits. I never call them “the twins.” I try to always respect their individual (and very different) ways of approaching life. I think I’ve taken it so far as to think of them more in terms of brothers and not twins. And then life, in typical fashion, teaches me a thing or two about my boys and my perspective on their relationship.

A few nights ago, my husband and I spied on the boys as they slept. When they were younger, we’d spy every night before going to sleep. But in recent months, our voyeurism has tapered off enough that I had – I guess – forgotten how they slept. It blew me away to find them sleeping in perfect mirror image to one another. Perfect mirror image!

This one experience made me pause about my aforementioned philosophy. I remembered being pregnant and reading about all the amazing connections, characteristics and dynamics that twins have and thinking how lucky we are that we’ll get to experience it. Secret languages (in our house, known as baby Chinese), knowing looks and laughs (that I’m not privy to), touching each other’s faces and hands with the curtain in between (remembering in utero experiences?), the crazy empathy they have for one another. These are all incredible things; and for the most part, only grace relationships of multiples.

And so there I found myself, standing over their cribs, staring at their perfectly joined configuration and holding back my tears of love, joy and total adoration for my twins. Because for better and for worse, my boys are not just brothers. As unique and individual as they are separately, they form an incredibly special set. They have a bond I will never be able to fully comprehend, molded at the most primal level. And I suddenly realized that I should not only respect this, but also celebrate it.

I will, without a doubt, continue to emphasize their unique attributes and their sense of individual self. It won’t be hard, after all, Abel and Oskar are night and day from one another. But I think a new chapter has opened up for me in terms of not just loving my two boys for who they are, but also loving my “twins” for who they are together. Striking that balance between the sum and the parts. Which also shouldn’t be hard to do, because if what they say is true, and the sum is greater than the parts, then my heart just might explode from all the love.

Nap Nemesis

I have been dreading writing this post quite frankly, because naps are something we just don’t talk about in our house. We’ll talk about them in metaphor; as in, “it’s really still outside, not even the slightest wind.” Or, “what a beautiful day – you can hear the birds so clearly!” Any direct mention of the boys sleeping during the day, however well or unwell, jinxes the situation. So we just don’t go there. Ever. Until now. The past 15 months of dealing with two anti-nappers has inspired me to write about our experiences, because I think naps are tricky enough with one baby, let alone two or more. And when we were going through our trials and tribulations, I wanted nothing more than a step-by-step guide to getting two babies to sleep during the day at the same time without completely losing my mind. Well, I’m here to tell you that it just doesn’t exist. But hopefully this post will inspire us all to share what has worked (and maybe not) in the nap department, because lord knows, we all can use some good ideas.

To start out, I don’t dare say our boys aren’t good sleepers. Because they are exceptional sleepers…at night. And I am ever so grateful for it. I don’t want anyone to construe this post as complaining, because I’ll take what I can get and I count us very lucky that we have blissful evenings. But from day one the boys have been nap resistors, as if day sleep is some sort of evil regime and it’s their job to stay up and stand guard. Trust me, ain’t no sleep getting through that door on account of those guys dozing on the job!

The early days; Our young boys demonstrate their favorite ways to nap:

In the beginning, when the boys were between the ages of 1 and 4 months, my rule of thumb was to get them to sleep as much during the day as possible, and to help them by whatever means necessary. That meant bouncing in the bouncy seat, the swing, rocking in the co-sleeper (don’t ask me how we finagled it to do this), bouncing on the exercise ball, drives, walks in the stroller, one in the sling and one being held while on the exercise ball, hiring a part time nanny so both boys could be held while napping, etc…etc…etc. You name it, we did it. At first I took on the challenge with vigor. After a few months, I started to lose my mind with the daunting nature of trying to get two tooth-picked eyed babies to sleep at the same time. How the H-E-L-L do people do this?!?! It was at this point that I started clearing the shelves at Barnes and Nobles in the Baby section. I bought any book that looked as if it had any information on naps. And after speed reading all of them, I learned some key things that helped a lot. This is probably redundant info to most of you, but it was a revelation to me.

1) Sleep Windows: Babies between 2-4 months (approx) usually need to sleep 1 to 1.5 hours after first waking, then 1.5 – 2 hours after their first nap, and 1.5 – 2 hours after their second nap. Most babies take 3-4 naps at this age. I felt like such a doofus for not knowing this. But honestly, everyone always talks about nighttime sleep, I never even knew naps would be an issue. Heck, I just thought all babies slept when they needed to. Duh!

2) Cues: It’s important to read cues for sleepiness (dazed look in eyes – the toothpick look actually indicates being overtired, which is a place you just don’t want to go; yawning, obviously; rubbing eyes/nose/face; fussiness; etc.) The Baby Whisperer actually has a good section on all the different cues for different baby personality types. This was very helpful. The key at this age is to balance your sleep windows from above, plus the cues, into a nap equation. Put your baby down for a nap at their very first sign of being tired, and be careful not too let them get overtired, or else it’s actually harder to get them to sleep.

3) Routine, routine, routine: At this age, our routine consisted of me putting them in a bouncy seat and reading them books and bouncing them to sleep if I was lucky. Great if you want your kids to associate nap time with a bouncy seat. I don’t think 3 months is too early to start a nap time routine – but of course, it all depends on your babies’ temperaments. We started our routine at 4 months and it hasn’t varied much since then (my guys are 15 months now). Early on it consisted of nursing, crib time together with mobile on, diaper changes, book, bedtime CD and rocking each baby for about 5 minutes while telling a soothing story. At this point, the routine is so ingrained in my boys that as soon as I put on the bedtime CD, they start rubbing their eyes and grab their blankies. It has served us amazingly well, especially when we’ve traveled! I should also note that I memorized the entire rhyming story The Bear Snores On so I could have a nice, soothing story to say to them while rocking. I should write the author and tell her I’ve recited her story about 2,000 times.

4) Environment: It was important for us to create a night time environment for our guys to help them wind down enough to sleep during the day. This included blinds and drapes to block out light and a good noise machine to drown out any household noise. We also left their cribs barren and took down the mobile before they went down, because if not, they’d stay up playing with anything and everything. I even remember putting burp clothes over Abel’s eyes while rocking him because if not, he’d always find something to stare at in the room and refuse to shut his eyes. Stubborn, I know!

Some babies, I’m sure, are just good at napping. Combining the four factors above hopefully sends your baby into a 1.5-2 hour slumber. This was not the case with us. So by 4.5 months, even after doing everything the books say, I was faced with a dilemma. How do I get two babies to nap, who clearly don’t want to nap, without creating terrible associations and habits (like sleeping in the car seat, the bouncy, in my arms, etc.)? Even though I would normally advocate a gentler approach to sleep training – with twins – I just couldn’t see doing it any other way. We were quickly heading towards “Cry it Out” (CIO) territory.

At 4.5 months, I started putting the boys down in their cribs after our routine, whether they were awake or not, and leaving the room. I’d check in on them after 5, 10, 15, 20 minutes, and leave them in their room for an hour. We also did this at night, and they “got it” after 3 nights. Not so lucky with the naps, though. The next 30 days, I have to say, were the most frustrating and gut wrenching of my experience as a mother so far. They would cry every nap, most of the time for the full hour, and I felt like an utter failure. I remember calling my husband every nap time, on the verge of tears, telling him I just couldn’t do this. I just couldn’t listen to my boys crying like this. I honestly thought I was ruining them and they would be emotionally scarred forever. I somehow managed to stick with this program, mainly by this justification: I knew they would be crying whether I was in there or not, so they might as well be learning how to put themselves to sleep.

The next month seemed like an eternity, but by the time the guys were 5.5 months, they were actually going down peacefully for two naps and sleeping, well, like babies. It had finally paid off! It seemed as though the boys needed a third nap at the end of the day, but it was a rare gift to get it. If we were in the car or stroller they would take a short cat nap, but if it was in their crib, forget it. I figured two out of three ain’t bad. And we decided at this point, since we rarely got a third nap, that we would have a very early bedtime for them (5:30-6pm). It worked beautifully.

The most important thing at this point for us was to stick as closely with our schedule and routine as possible. As Goddess wrote in several other posts (here and here), your routine can be your best friend. And while it’s not great to be crazy inflexible, the less intrusion on your babies schedule, usually means happy babies and parents. I’d say, with some timing modifications, we did the two nap a day schedule until the boys were 11 months old. As your babies get older, their wakeful times between napping become longer. Meaning by 6 months, they typically can be up for 2 hours after waking, and 2.5 hours between naps. And by 9 months, they can be up for 2.5 hours after waking and 3 hours between naps. If they take 3 naps they also tend to drop down to 2 by 6-7 months. But pay attention to your babies’ cues. I noticed my guys couldn’t stay up that long in the mornings and it served me very well to put them down for that first nap a little on the early side.

We were cruising happily along, me especially because at two 1.5 hour minimum pops I could get A LOT done and have some time to refresh myself. I knew it was just a matter of time, and so I wasn’t terribly surprised when at 11 months our nap world turned upside down. All of a sudden, the afternoon nap became what we like to call, “the anti-nap.” Everything I read said kiddos just aren’t ready for one nap at this age, so we persisted with the routine and put them down each afternoon. Only to experience 60 to 90 minutes of multiple diaper changes (poo. every. stinking. time. read about it here), talking, giggling, squealing, shrieking, and finally crying, at which point I’d call it an attempt and rescue them from their nap torture. I wondered how long we could go on like this. The guys obviously needed the sleep, they just couldn’t get it unless I manually put them to sleep. Not so much fun on my end of things.

At 12 months I finally decided to make a go at 1 nap. But after a few days they were so exhausted that we went back to 2, which they actually took. Amazing! For all of 4 days. I made another attempt at 1 nap at 13 months, only to have the same result. Just before their 15 month birthday, after nearly 5 months of the boys taking an afternoon anti-nap, we have successfully transitioned to one nap. So far, so good! I keep them up until noon, which at first was a little challenging but is getting easier every day. Again, the important thing is to have a good routine and to keep those energizer bunnies as busy and active as possible. We eat breakfast, we play, we take a walk, we play outside or with a friend, we have a snack, we go to the playground, we eat lunch at 11am and then have low-key play and reading until their nap at noon. They are so ready for this nap that they usually fall asleep within 3 minutes of their routine. And their naps have gotten nice and long. We’re talking 2.5 to 3 hours! Sure, we’ve had a few hour naps here and there (UGH!), but for the most part they are doing a great job at getting a nice long chunk of sleep. Hallelujah!

So there you have it, our nap journey in one long rambling post. I swore I would never talk or write about it, but here I am, finishing it up during the boys’ nice long afternoon nap. Oh crap, is that Abel I hear waking up after just an hour?! See what I mean? Never again, I tell you.

My favorite nap resources: The Sleep Easy Solution, Healthy Sleep Habits, The Baby Whisperer and our very own awesome Ask-the-Moms post on sleep (where you’ll find a host of resources on sleep, which typically also include naps!).