Getting the diagnosis…. Then (whew!) finding out it is wrong

As a parent you will do anything to make sure your kids are safe and happy. With the first baby especially, you stress and worry and panic and wonder if you are ever going to do anything right. My oldest was an early talker, a very early talker and a late walker. I had always heard that you either talk or walk – that babies focused on one area of development at a time. She talked early and walked at 17 months. Perfectly reasonable and within “normal” ranges, so it is fine.

Fast forward to twins. Again, I stressed, I worried and I wondered if I would ever get anything right. Don’t get me started on sleep. The twins are now 2 ¾ and we still have sleeping issues…. The boy girl twins, like my older daughter, were early talkers. And late walkers. Sidney walked at 17 months just like big sister. But Spencer did not. He did talk early but at 17 months was not walking. It is ok, he will get there. And at about 18 months he took 5 steps into my arms. And I cried and screamed and attacked him with kisses.

He did not walk again.

He did not even cruise.

At 19 months I emailed the pediatrician and said, “I know you are going to tell me not to worry but at 19 months Spencer is not walking yet”. Her reply was like a dart into my heart. “Maybe we need to get him evaluated”.

I called Birth-to-Three and after a scheduling nightmare I gave up and called the pediatric rehab center on my own. My mother-in-law came with me. Her job was to listen to everything I missed and hold my hand. She did great. Spencer did great. I did not. In my defense, I did not mesh well with the therapist. I am 100% positive she is very qualified and good at her job, but I constantly felt blamed. “If you don’t pick him up he will walk”. That comment had me in tears. And had Spencer in tears. I will never forget his baby arms reaching up for me and his baby screams while this (evil) woman tells me that he is not walking only because I pick him up.

The therapist would hold toys just out of his reach and try to force him to reach for them to build up him muscles. Spencer would give up and move to a different toy. And I don’t blame him. But she did recommend that he wear braces on his ankles.   So I consulted with the pediatrician before making that appointment. She laid Spencer on the exam table and moved/manipulated/rotated his legs. She called them spaghetti legs. She could move them in any direction. His muscle tone was low, but she did not think that was a huge cause of worry, he could build up the muscles. But she saw something else in his legs. “Beth, I want him to see a pediatric neurologist, I think he may have Cerebral Palsy”. And that was all I heard. She did talk me down (ish). She reminded me that if he did have it, it was not the end of the world, it was not a brain tumor (ok, an extreme example but she had a point). First step, ankle braces. So we made the appointment and Spencer was fitted with baby ankle braces. Everyone told me that these braces were a miracle and that the minute they were on, their baby walked.   Spencer did not. (In his defense they measures the braces wrong and needed to redo them so he wore the wrong ones for a week or so…) Slowly, slowly, he started taking baby steps. But he still preferred crawling or being carried. And then, one day, with my heart in my throat, my baby boy walked. Those tiny little dinosaur printed ankle braces changed our world.   And then at 21 months, Spencer walked barefoot. He had full control, turned, pushed toys, carried toys, he was there. I tear up now remembering that day.

And then, with my mother-in-law in tow, we took Spencer to the neurologist.

You know when you have those days where every detail sticks perfectly in your brain. That day was one of them. The neurologist pronounced my son (he actually evaluated both kids and pronounced them both) as perfect. He said Spencer did have low muscle tone but that he did not even need physical therapy or the braces. I kept him in the braces for a few more months anyway because I bought a new wider pair of shows to accommodate them, when he sized up in shoes, he left the braces behind.

My gorgeous, amazing, funny, cuddly, little man is perfect. He runs (not well and not fast, but he gets places faster than walking). He might not be a soccer player or football player but that will mean less concussions, so I am good with it. And one day, while waiting for big sister’s school bus, he jumped up in the air. Both feet off the group, jumped into the air. My baby boy. I have never been so proud. Rally, when he plays with his friends you would never know what we went through in the spring of 2014. We still have some work to do though. He does not like stairs and prefers to be carried, especially when he is tired. When we hold hands on the stairs, he turns his foot inward and we want to work on that.   When he moves to preschool, he will need to be able to walk down a long staircase to the playground and that staircase does worry me. But we will take it all day by day, step by step and now jump by jump.

As a mom you would do anything for your kids, and if Spencer did have Cerebral Palsy, we would have researched and become the experts at CP. It was only a few months. And in the grand scheme of things, it was nothing. But it was also everything. I would check on his at night and put my hand on his back and watch him breathe and stroke his cheek and wonder if he would be able to walk without braces, if his peers would be cruel, how a disability might affect him and our family.,   And we are so blessed that we don’t have to worry about these things. But if I ever do, I know that my support system is strong and I want to publicly tell everyone how fabulous the “I don’t know how she does it” group is. Because they got me through the beginning. They were a huge help in getting me from the emotional stage to the logical, research nerd stage. You need the emotional part. You need to cry when you get news like this, but you need to hit that research stage hard as well.

Our lives are “normal” now (or as normal as life with toddler twins can be). When I take the twins down the stairs, I hold hands and lead them down one by one and that is our normal. I help Spencer turn his foot on the stairs and that is normal for us. But when he does not want to come inside, I chase after him and now that is normal too. And even while I am chasing after him, I know how blessed I am to have a baby boy who can run away from me, as long as he never ever runs into the street!

 

Beth is known as mommy by a 6 year old and boy-girl twins who are almost 3.  She blogs about life, kids, and DIY, at Pickles in my Tea and in my Soup.

Twinfant Tuesday: Moms Need Food, too!

 

A mother expecting twins recently asked on the San Antonio Mother’s of Multiples FB page how the moms fed themselves after the babies were born. What a great question because we are often more concerned with how they will be fed and we forget that we need to eat, too. But, a mom (and dad) can get very run-down if he or she is not sleeping AND not eating well. Sure, we can make do for a while, but being the best parent you can be (even in those crazy first weeks and months) means taking care of your needs, too

Feeding the MomWhen my twins Marc and Maddie were born, we were living far away from our families and we didn’t know our neighbors every well. I think we had two meals brought over by acquaintances from our church. I remember being hungry, tired and cranky a lot of the time. I was trying to lose the baby weight, but I would go for what was quick and available rather than what was the best choice nutritiously.

We were blessed that my mom and my mother-in-law stayed four weeks each, but honestly, I don’t remember them cooking too much because we were all consumed with our premie babies ( I was pumping and everyone else was taking turns feeding them). I do remember that mom made me some excellent salmon patties and individually froze them so that I could take one out of the freezer for lunch after she left. I also remember my 12 year old “mothers helper” learning how to put together lasagna while I shouted out instructions while walking a cranky baby. (Don’t ask me why I decided that I would make lasagna with newborn twins!)

But, leave it to the mother’s of multiples to have some ideas to help new moms and moms-to-be feed themselves AND their families, especially during those weeks (months!) of sleep deprivation and crazy schedules.

Here are five ideas to get YOU fed after you’ve had the babies:

  1. If you are nursing and/or pumping you’ll be HUNGRY. I remember making myself a fried egg almost every night sometime after the midnight feed. You’re burning an extra 600 calories (which is great for losing the baby weight) but you’ll get HUNGRY. Don’t try to diet during this time to get into those pre-pregnancy jeans. EAT MAMA EAT. But, eat the right things: lots of protein, fruits and veggies.
  2. Make freezer meals or better yet, when someone wants to give you a shower suggest a freezer meal shower. Babies don’t need as much stuff as advertisers want you to think they need. BUT you need to EAT! When someone wants to know what you need, don’t be embarrassed to say, FOOD!
  3. Buy fruit and veggies trays. These are already cut up—saving you precious time—and you can munch on them throughout the day/week. This way you aren’t tempted to go for the unhealthy items beckoning from the pantry–especially when you are hungry but you are trying to soothe two (or more) upset babies.
  4. Make double batches of everything and freeze the extra servings. If you are making spaghetti sauce, stew, soup. . .whatever, make double the amount. Start doing this now while you are pregnant.
  5. Buy an electric pressure cooker. Meals can go from frozen to DONE in about 30 minutes. Soups take about 15 minutes. Really this is my go-to appliance when I need dinner on the table FAST. (And you can make extras and freeze another meal for later on.) Here’s a recipe for Beef Green Chili Stew that literally went from freezer to table in 12 minutes.

 

 

What were YOU THINKING? New Parenting with your Partner

parenting with your partner

Your Partner Isn’t Against You. When you have newborn multiples it may feel otherwise, especially in the first few weeks or months of sleep deprivation.

One of the major differences between having a singleton and multiples is the amount of chaos. You are feeding and changing and nurturing these babies simultaneously. If you have premies those demands can seem even greater.

The best scenario would be to have a partner who is in the game with you.

Since my husband and I had decided that I would stay-at-home with our children, I was the main care-giver. But, I was lucky that he never claimed that he couldn’t get up for night feedings because he had to work the next morning. We both agreed that BOTH of us were working the next morning. . .we just had different jobs and different offices.

Having twins meant that as the primary care giver couldn’t do everything on my own (I bow down to single moms or military wives!) and  it was in the best interest of our new family if Scott and I parented as a team.

But, I also had to come to (the slower and sometimes painful) realization that we parented differently. Ok, to be honest, this realization doesn’t come as a lightening bolt—although that would have been helpful—but maybe if someone had given me this one piece of advice when the babies were young I would have

Agree from the beginning that each of you is doing the best that you can in the best interest of the children.

Ignore the fact that he dressed the babies in plaids and polka dots for church. . .that he is embarking on a walk with the babies when they’ll need to be fed in ½ hour and will be screaming banchees. . .that he is literally gagging when changing a poopy diaper. . .that he is trying to watch the Master’s Golf tournament and isn’t catch watching the crawlers make their way to the dog’s bowl for a quick snack.

BE QUIET, Mama.

This works in the reverse as your partner returns home and babies are screaming, you haven’t showered and dishes are still out from breakfast.

No “I told you so’s.” No accusations of “Why didn’t you?” or “What were you thinking?” Or, my personal favorite, “Were you thinking?”

Second most important piece of advice: Leave your partner alone with the babies.

 This was hard for me and I still remember the first time I did it when the babies were a couple months old—actually one month old adjusted. My next door neighbor, Sarah, came over one evening after Scott had come home from work and said, “You’re going to Target with me.” I stared at her in disbelief. No, I thought, I couldn’t leave these babies with Scott–ALONE.

I needed to be able to leave. . .and Scott needed to experience juggling the babies and a feeding and changing session on his own. How else was he going to get good at this if he never did it. Everyone lived.

Date nights may or may not happen; tempers will be short as you are both exhausted; hygiene might not be up to par; the house will probably look like a thift store sale. . .but believing (and living) the piece of advice that both of you are doing the best that you can will help your relationship transition through this very challenging time.

 

 

 

Twinfant Tuesday: Separation Decisions For Multiples

“Are you going to separate them?”

“When are you going to separate them?”

Those are 2 questions that parents of multiples will have to answer over and over again as their multiples go through the different stages of childhood. The first time that question has to be answered is when you’re going home with twinfants in tow. Should they share a room? Should they share a bed?

For me the answers were fairly straightforward. Should they share a room? Absolutely! No way I’m going to manage night feedings in 2 different locations.

Should they share a bed? As long as it’s safe to do so was the consensus. What’s safe? As long as they do not have the ability to move or roll over each other, twins can share a crib. With this, my twins did share a crib for the first couple of months until they started wiggling to the middle of the crib to share body warmth. imageCute as it was, it wasn’t safe and that signified it was time for them to move into separate cribs. And so the first of many separation decisions was made based on safety and convenience.image

I wish all the other separation decisions would be as easy as the ones in the infant stage but no such luck. My babies are now pre-schoolers and I’ll soon have to face the question of separating them in school. As with the first decision that was made, the  answer will be a combination of what’s best for the family – convenient for the parents and in the best and safest interest of the kids.

If you’re a parent or caretaker of multiples, how do you do it? The separation decisions that is. What are the driving factors for determining when and how to physically separate your multiples?

Yetunde is the proud mom of twin girls, affectionately nicknamed Sugar and Spice and she blogs about the twin parenting life at www.mytwintopia.com

Twinfant Tuesday: Multiple Infants with Multiple Needs

Getting ready for a day of appointments.

The topic of Twinfant Tuesday came up and I wondered to myself and to Sadia, did I have a good experience during the infancy stage and do I have something to contribute? At first thought, I had serious doubts. My memories recall close to four months in a NICU, living away from home, the discharge and then the madness of appointments that awaited us, all the while working hard to balance the needs of my older child. My husband was at work Monday to Friday, working very long days due to unfortunate timing and he and I together were trying to figure out how to navigate as parents of 3, two and under, with particularly special needs.

We made it to some special events.

During the infant stage I was busy running my twin boys to appointments in town and out of town, navigating the hospital parking lots, calculating the best and quickest routes to my destinations, and breastfeeding in empty seminar rooms and in the back row of my minivan. I did whatever it took to keep these little infants well. It felt exhausting and unrelenting. These memories are my initial thoughts when I think about their infancy.

But when I think about these things and the other things that are too many to mention which made up the early week s and months of my twins’ first year, I realize that we had somewhat of a unique experience. An amazing experience actually. The healthcare they required and the follow ups that came with it enabled me to get to know these babies cues, health needs and personalities in a way I can’t explain. It’s as though I developed a sixth sense of proactivity when it came to their unspoken needs. That’s what I’m going to call it. I learned that really and truly, I was their expert. They couldn’t articulate their needs, but I knew how to sense them and articulate for them. I knew them best. Doctors knew about healthcare and the typical needs of babies like them, but I came to realize I know them best and if I had a gut feeling about something it was going to be accurate. Don’t get me wrong; I do appreciate every single thing our doctors and specialists have done for us along the way, but I recognize that we worked as a team and I really was my babies’ voice.

Putting some occupational therapy concepts to work.

So when I look back on my twins’ infant stage, I realize that it really was enjoyable. I did many things with them every day, maybe in atypical ways, but I breastfed them like I wanted to and made some fun and unique memories with them along the way. I look forward to sharing their stories with them one day.

On the road again.

Twinfant Tuesday: How to Maintain White Carpet with Twins

We recently sold our house, and, during the many showings, I can’t tell you how many people commented on our white carpet.  “HOW do you have two little ones, and maintain this carpet so well???”  I’m not the most stellar housekeeper, and I don’t have a carpet cleaner, but we managed to survive infant- and toddlerhood relatively unscathed.

A big part of it, I think, is that we don’t wear shoes in the house.  But bare feet would have been no match for projectile infant spit-up, times two, back in the first year of the girls’ lives.

Once our girls started to wiggle around, when they were three months old or so, I started giving them floor time in the den (on the white carpet).  At the time, I’d spread a baby blanket down for them, but it wasn’t long before they started to wiggle off that.

My husband had the brilliant idea to get some large blankets to cover the floor of the den.  We invested in two king-size velour blankets ($25 each at Kohl’s, if I remember correctly).  Every morning, we would spread those blankets to cover the floor of the den.  The velour spread very evenly, and stayed put pretty well against our low-pile carpet.

It was fantastic!

floor1Not only did the girls have a nice, clean place to wiggle and crawl, but clean-up was a breeze.

Carrots for lunch, resulting in bright orange spit-up?  No worries!  A diaper blow-out just before bedtime?  Not a big deal!

We would wipe up the blanket as best we could during the day, and then we’d treat the stain and run it through the wash overnight.

During naps, when the cats were likely to come out of their hiding places, I’d fold the blankets over so they could enjoy the carpet (and to keep the cat fur off the girls’ crawling space).  At night, Hubby and I would fold the blankets, and our den would return to [relative] normal.

We didn’t choose white carpet for our new house, but our vigilance continues.  We still have those blankets, and we spread them down for rare snacks in front of the telly (like during the Thanksgiving Day parade).  If they’re not threadbare by then, I can envision those blankets serving us well for many years to come.

(You don’t think it would embarrass my girls if I spread the blankets down for slumber parties when they’re preteens…and show a short slide show of the girls on the blankets when they were tiny???)

floor2

This picture would have center stage! Hahaha!

Do you have any tips and tricks for Twin Tornado-proofing your house?

MandyE is mom to five-and-a-half-year old twin girls.  She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.

Twinfant Tuesday: Infants are Easier

My twins are so solidly in their toddlerhood now that it’s hard to remember when they were infants. Perhaps it’s better to make a list of all the things that were easier to do when they were younger.

Holding them  Boy, I wish for the days when each baby weighed 10 pounds and could easily be held at the same time. They didn’t wiggle around, or twist their bodies, or arch their backs, or slide down your sides, or lean their entire weight away from you. These days my kids definitely make their intentions known. Babies blissfully don’t have intentions.

Feeding  Babies are relatively clean. There might be a spit-up or two, and burping them could be a little tedious, but these are things you expect and can anticipate. As toddlers, when they decide that the food they loved yesterday is what they are throwing at you today, you will be wishing for those burp cloths back. My kids are good eaters, and they still make a big mess. At this point they can also say that they’re hungry. Loudly and repeatedly until they get fed what they want.

On the move  Heavy and cumbersome as they are, infant car seats and the strollers they attach to are really as safe and easy as it gets. Venture into the land of shoe wearing (and the eating/ taking off of them), handholding (or wrenching their hands out of yours while walking through a parking lot), and trying to keep toddlers in strollers (or just trying to put them in while they’re arching their backs and screaming), and let’s just say you will start to regret complaining about the infant car seats. Don’t get me started on what to do when they go off in opposite directions.

Playing  Once upon a time a simple squeaky toy or blanket was all that was necessary to amuse a baby. In fact, nothing was needed at all as long as baby had something to look at, like Mommy’s face. Now? Toddlers have the attention span of a few minutes, at most. Mine are not interested in television yet (except to press its buttons and climb it), and their entire playroom full of toys is old news. I cannot keep them in one place past a couple of hours before they’re fighting and biting each other out of boredom, including our own house.

Sleeping  Infants sleep a lot. Toddlers don’t sleep as much. Enough said. These days trying to figure out when nap time will be is sometimes a guessing game. When they don’t sleep (for whatever unknown reason), cranky toddlers will eventually get on your last nerve.

…Maybe I just miss my little babies. Sniff.

lunchldyd is mom to 19mo b/g twins and their 4yo sister. Though the days are tough around here, she feels lucky to be able to spend her summer vacation with them.

Affording Cloth Diapers for Twins

The Rebecca Foundation helps low-income families get started with cloth diapering, eliminating the expense of the initial investment.

I found out at about 6 weeks that my unexpected pregnancy was growing our family by two instead of one. The radiologist said she wanted to show me something and turned the screen so I could see. Two separate sacs, two little beating hearts.

The first thought I had after “Oh My God” was “How are we going to afford them?”. We were already struggling to make ends meet, and the overwhelming thought of “two of everything” kept me up at night.

We already cloth diapered our next youngest, so it was a natural to cloth diaper the twins as well. I already knew how, and it was already a part of our routine. We chose cloth to save money, but that first time around, we had the money to buy a small stash before our youngest was born. We weren’t so lucky this time, and that small stash was not going to be enough.

Cloth was a great option for us. We had a good washing machine and we already knew I’d be home with the kids, so there would be no daycare rules to fight.

I’ll admit the first day I looked into cloth diapering, I wasn’t sure. The information overload, some of it contradictory, was a little much. I found a forum and started asking questions. Getting direct answers instead of a generic information sheet really helped and soon I was convincing my husband. I touted the cost savings, as little as $300 for a lifetime of cloth – though I did spend twice that on our son. I bought a few prefolds and a cover and showed my husband how simple it was. I promised to take on the washing.

With the news of the twins, one of my husband’s first reactions was “we will need more diapers,” and he was right. I had only bought a handful of infant sized diapers, and our son was (and is) still very much using his all-in-one size. The twins would be small, so I knew infant sizes were going to be required. But we didn’t have it in the budget. We didn’t have the budget for anything. I knew our family would come through for cribs, bottles, and clothes, but no one supported the cloth diapering.

Then a family friend sent me a link on Facebook: The Rebecca Foundation Cloth Diaper Closet.  This non-profit provides loaner diapers to lower income families, helping them spread out the cost of buying. They eliminate the need to buy two stashes by taking care of that infant stage, and they are a great support for those families just starting in cloth.

We were on WIC, the US government program that assists with food costs for low-income women and children. I thought we might qualify for the Rebecca Foundation’s offerings. I learned that WIC did, in fact, qualify us, as did being an enlisted military family. The outpouring of caring from the lady on the other end of the phone helped my fears. We were getting help. We could figure this out. We could afford the twins. I bawled on the phone with her, I was so relieved.

For us, cloth diapers and The Rebecca Foundation were a life-saver. Even without family support, cloth works for us. It saves us money, there is no running out at 2 am because I suddenly realize we’re out of diapers. I don’t deal with diaper rash constantly. Using cloth, like any aspect of parenting, is a personal decision, but with charities like The Rebecca Foundation, the cost of the initial investment doesn’t have get in the way of cloth diapering.

Jennifer is a stay at home mom of three singletons, with her first set of twins due in September. She is the proud wife of an Army soldier, homeschools her 4 year old, and loves to read, write, and play video games in her down time.

An Exersaucer Just for Twins? Yes, Please!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably walked through the baby section of the store or seen a handy baby gadget at a friend’s house, and thought, “I wish they made that for multiples. It would just need a [insert brilliant recommendation here].”

And if you’re anything like me, you probably moved right on with your day.

Allow me to introduce you to Karan. She had an idea for a twin improvement, and has actually done something about it!

Meet Karan, twin mom and inventor of the Twin Funsaucer.

Karan, twin mom and inventor of the Twin Funsaucer.

Karan’s a MoM, just like us. Her mono/mono identical boys, Nolan and Gabriel, turned a year old in May. Karan saw how much her little guys enjoyed their one exersaucer and bought a second one, but wished she could have just one that they could share and interact in.

Identical twin brothers.Karan drew up an idea for a two-baby interactive exersaucer. A Twin Funsaucer, if you will. There’s a spot for one baby in the center, and the other baby has a spot around the outside of the exersaucer, like a snuggly wriggly solar system of joy. You can see a diagram at Quirky, where inventors can submit their ideas, and the best ideas can get turned into reality.

If you want to help get the Twin Funsaucer to market, or just help another MoM out, please visit Karan’s invention on Quirky and give it a nice big thumbs up. You do need to register to vote, but you can connect your Facebook account or create a Quirky-only account with your email address. I did the latter, and it took less than a minute to sign up and vote. I imagine that Facebook is even faster.

I asked Karan how inspiration struck, and here’s what she had to say:

The inspiration for my idea was essentially that our boys always want to play with the same toy at the same time, but with exersaucers and jumperoos, it wasn’t possible.

karan water

[Gabriel and Nolan] like interacting, but there also needed to be enough space between them that they couldn’t grab or hit one another. We have exersaucers, and this other Bright Starts toy that has an activity table with a seat attached that allows freedom of movement around the table – like a walker.

I thought, if you could combine those things, then two children could play at once. Then I thought, why couldn’t you sell an another seat for triplets? And for that matter, possibly even create a way to turn the seats into walkers when they are not attached?

I am an ideas person, but I never had something I felt so filled a niche. My mother-in-law helped me come up with a couple of possible design concepts and that was that!

More About Karan

karan umbilical knotAbout her sons, Karan says, “They are so smart and funny. We feel incredibly blessed that they have done so well – especially when their umbilical cords were so knotted.” Karan had to return to work only a week after the boys came home from the NICU. Her husband had been laid off from his bank manager job and stayed with them for nearly 8 months. Now that he’s back at work, they consider themselves very lucky to have found a daycare they trust with their sweet boys.

Karan and her husband met later in life. His 11-year-old daughter lives with them during the school year. You can see what a great big sister she is, and how she is adored in the photo below!

Big sister with twin brothers!Karan started trying to conceive at age 38 and lost a pregnancy. She and her husband tried again a few months later and Gabriel and Nolan joined the family. Karan is a sonographer by day, so she discovered that she was expecting monoamniotic twins on her own! She went into inpatient care at 24 weeks at the University of CT Health Center and delivered via scheduled C-section at 32 weeks. The boys were 4 lbs 1 oz each and spent 40 and 42 days in the NICU/step down unit respectively.

Karan, expecting twin boys!Karan loves everything about motherhood much more than she thought she would. The biggest challenge she faces being a twin mom is not being able to help them both at the same time. The boys are still too little to understand that she only has two arms and doesn’t have the power to make all their hurts go away.

Look at that proud Daddy!

Karan confesses that having twinfants is also stressful on a couple. She calls her husband a patient, forgiving person, admitting that she can be hotheaded. I think a lot of us can relate to that!

You can reach Karen by email… and don’t forget to give her Twin Funsaucer your vote of confidence!

What’s your brilliant idea, just waiting to be produced?

Twinfant Tuesday: A year in photos (minus the photos)

Next week, my little monkeys will be ONE!  That one saying is so true.  What is it again?  The days go slowly, but the weeks and months fly by, or something like that?  The other night my husband and I were watching photos float by on a slideshow from the past year.  While it’s impossible to adequately describe the first year with twins, a few of these moments help summarize the roller coaster.

Exhaustion

Photo: both 8-week-old babies are in just a diaper, passed out on my husband, who is also asleep.  My son’s arm is draped over the face of my daughter, whose mouth is wide open.  Everyone looks exhausted.  I recall this night in particular, because it was taken at the end of the first night we decided to “try” one of us going out for a few hours during the “witching hour.”  This witching hour was so very real in our house between about 5 weeks-13 weeks or so.  This particular night they started crying about 10 minutes after my husband left the house (of course), and they seemed to ratchet each other higher and higher on the scale of hysteria for the next 45 minutes until I called him, beckoning him home.  I still have no idea what got them so upset, but it was one of those nights where I needed to put them each in their crib and walk away for a good 3-5 minutes because I truly did not know how to calm them.  Eventually they stop crying for just as mysterious of reasons as why they started.  I still feel shell shocked by those first few months with two infants.  I can almost still feel the anxiety, counting the time until I’d need to go pump or breastfeed two babies again, or feel the burn in my sleep-deprived eyes.

Joy

Photo: taken after a bath, and the babies were laying side by side, and my son reached out and was touching my daughter on the arm.  She smiled back at him.  They were about 5 months old and it was taken on our first trip (see also: only) with the kids.  (We really took on the challenge of a first vacation with infant twins: Cold weather.  Over Christmas.  Staying at high altitude.  Attempting to take turns to go skiing.)  It wasn’t likely the first time they connected like that, but I do think it was the first one we caught on camera.  It captures the hope that I have for a close relationship between them and the warmth I feel in my heart when I see the connection between them.

Fear

My heart aches and is filled with gratitude simultaneously when I see the photo of my son smiling, holding a small box of cheerios in a hospital gown, the morning after our first night (and, hopefully, only for a very long time) in the hospital a few weeks ago after he took a bad fall and sustained a head injury.  We spent the night saying prayers that all would be okay, while we realized the vicarious pain one can feel for their child, as a parent.  Seeing this photo, even just a few weeks after, makes me so grateful that he is okay.  I’m almost equally as fearful of other accidents and illnesses that no doubt lie down the road for us as a family.  I was warned about how you experience pain when your children hurt, but it is truly something you cannot understand until going through it.

Fascination

Photo: my daughter standing, holding onto the collar of our 8-year-old pitbull-boxer mix makes me giggle.  I remember coming around the corner and catching her standing there with our dog, who patiently sat and let our daughter examine her “necklace.”  Mind you, she cannot walk yet, so this means she crawled over and pulled herself up on our dog’s collar.  Her fascination with jewelry has begun early, as has her love of feeding this doggy all her vegetables.  This photo captures the delight and fascination I feel as I watch these kids discover their world and learn new skills every day.  It’s incredible to watch them stand for the first time, or make a new sound and see their faces light up with pride.

And, that has been the emotional cycle of the past 12 months: Exhaustion, Joy, Fear, Fascination, or some derivative of these feelings.  I truly wish I could stop time for a day or at least an hour to really reflect on the ways life has changed and motherhood has changed me in the last year.  But, for now, a post like this will have to do.

Katie has b/g twins that will be one next week.  She lives in Chicago and balances full-time work, being a mom and training for a sprint triathlon for which she regrets signing up.