In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Parenting Twins - The First Year (Month Six)


How do I have six month olds already?  I'm not sure where the time is going! Between sleep deprivation and being a first time parent of twins, I know this year is going to be such a blur when I look back on it, so I am trying to take as many pictures as possible! Here is their six month update!

Weight
Birth – 5.7 (A) 6 (E)
    Home from Hospital– 5 (A) 5.8 (E)
One Month – 6.14 (A) 6.12 (E) 
Two Months – 9.4 (A&E) both finally reached the charts at the 1st percentile 
     Eleven weeks Weeks - 10.1 (Aaron)
Four Months - 13.13(A) 12.13 (E) 15th and 5th percentile
     Five Months - 14.1(Ethan)
Six Months - 16.10 (A) 15.3 (E) 30th and 15th percentile

Development:
Our twins turned six months old this week!  They are interacting with people more and more!  They have their own twin lingo that I don't understand, as they tend to jibber-jabber and reach out for one another during play time. Smiles and laughter fill our home and make all of the work worth it!  At six months, they LOVE their exersaucers!  I'm pretty sure Ethan would be content to be left in his all day.  Aaron has also taken a liking to the jumperoo, and at times he will jump so aggressively, I fear he may break it! Daddy works with the boys every night on the floor while I make dinner, as we are still trying to master rolling over and sitting up independently.  I try using the bumbos during the day, by putting the babies in them on the floor surrounded with toys.  The boys don't last very long in the bumbos, before crying to be moved to something else.  They are close to sitting up on their own, but they have not quite mastered the balance part of sitting yet.  Aaron is closer than Ethan and can go a few seconds sitting up on his own before toppling over.  Ethan may not be the better sitter, but he loves to stand!  I am thinking there is real possibility that Ethan skips crawling and goes straight to walking.  Aaron loves to roll over on his tummy but gets frustrated that he hasn't figured out how to roll back over on his back yet.  Ethan shows absolutely no interest in rolling over on his stomach.  He has always hated being on his tummy, and when we roll him over to his stomach, he uses all of his might to roll back over on his back.  Between the two of them, we have a whole roll lol!  If Ethan continues to not show any interest in rolling over by seven months, the pediatrician wants him to come back for a visit.  

Eating:
Aaron LOVES to eat!  Ethan still takes a little more work when it comes to eating.  A typical day for the babies is an early morning 4 oz bottle, cereal with bananas around 8:30, 4-6 oz bottle around 10:00 followed by a nap, a vegi with half of a fruit around 12:00, a 4-6 oz bottle around 2:00 followed by a nap, a vegi with half of a fruit around 4:00, a 4oz bottle at 5:00 followed by a short nap, cereal with bananas around 7:00, 5oz night time bottle with rice cereal in it at 8:30.

Sleeping:
We have seen great improvements with sleep this month!  I know we still have more work to do, but when I read last month's blog post, I know that we have achieved some success in the area of sleeping.  There was a point about six weeks ago, where I honestly felt like it was harder than when the babies were newborns, simply because no one was sleeping at the same time!  As usual, Ethan is our awesome sleeper!  He sleeps on average 10 hours a night and if I put in bed with me, he will go back to sleep after an early morning  bottle, sleeping for a total of about 12 hours.  He averages three one hour naps a day.  Aaron....not so much.  His 30 minute naps can be frustrating, but if that's all he needs, then I can't do much about it.  I have seen improvements with his naps within the past week.  His naps have increased to nearly an hour each.  I couldn't be more happy about that! I have managed to get the babies back to napping at the same time (insert applause and cheers of excitement here).  I have to divide and conquer to make this happen, but at least it is happening.  Aaron usually naps in the nursery and Ethan in our room.  Aaron is getting better with night time wakings.  We pushed bed time back to 8:30, and he will go on average six hours before waking, giving me a little bit of a break.  After talking to the pediatrician, we both agree that Aaron is likely waking for comfort from a bottle.  He really should not be waking up to be fed at night, so we are going to work really hard on training him to sleep through the night this month.  This will be challenging with twins.  I don't want Aaron to wake Ethan, so when he cries, we typically pick him up and move him to our room and give him what he wants....a bottle. Once he falls asleep we move him back to the crib.  Trying to figure out a way to not wake up his brother and train him to realize he doesn't NEED a bottle is going to present some challenges.  Crib training them at four months was easy, and sleep training Ethan was a breeze.  Just popping a pacifier back in Ethan's mouth a couple of times and walking away from the crib was all that it took.  Aaron....not so much.  He is my demanding little guy, and he is going to take some work.

Teething:

Ah, the joy of teething twins!  Teething tablets are a necessity around here, and Tylenol at night is also helpful.  I feel like Aaron has been teething forever, as he has not been an easy teether!  Yet, he still has no teeth!  To our surprise, Ethan got his first tooth before Aaron!  A few weeks ago, I felt a little poke in Ethan's mouth and sure enough it was a tooth.  It took about ten days for the entire tooth to cut through his gums.  It was a rough ten days for our little guy, but prior to that first poke, Ethan showed very little signs of teething other than excessive drool.  And just a few days ago, Ethan's second tooth poked through!  


Basic Health and Wellness:
Aaron is getting a referral to an eye doctor, because his right eye tends to cross some.  We were waiting to see if it would correct itself, but it never has.  He also has a very flat head, and we are waiting for the nine month well check to see if this corrects itself.  Ethan is getting a referral to a urologist about getting his circumcision corrected.  The first circumcision left a little too much skin, so we are going to have it looked at.  If we choose to get this corrected, it would involve putting him under anesthesia, which I am not too thrilled about.  But at the same time, if we are going to correct it, it is best to correct it within the first year.  



Week Twenty-three






Week Twenty-four






 Week Twenty-five






Week Twenty-six







Sunday, August 24, 2014

Parenting Twins - The First Year (Month 5)


The boys turned five months old on Friday!  What a month of "firsts" it has been!  They went to the beach for the first time, tried out the neighborhood pool for the first time and had a stomach virus for the first time.  Ok, some firsts were more pleasant than others, but we were making memories nonetheless.

The babies also started the month off by trying solid foods for the first time.  We started with cereal, then made our way to vegetables and fruits.  One month later, they are pros at eating baby food.  Sweet potatoes and squash are their favorites.  Green beans....not so much.  They are currently eating cereal with a fruit for breakfast and before bed, as well as a vegetable and half of a fruit for lunch and dinner. They took to being spoon-fed really well.  Aaron is a pro with the spoon and will open his mouth up in anticipation for every bite.  I can't shovel the food in fast enough for him.  Ethan is a little more messy with his food.  It seems like he spits out half of what goes in, but he is doing much better now than he was at the beginning of the month. 

Month five was also our first month moving to our cribs full time.  They have officially outgrown the bassinets in our room.  Ethan made the transition to cribs look easy.  From the beginning, he was super easy to put down for bed.  He'd fall asleep on his own within ten minutes.  He also sleeps through the night more than half of the time.  If he does wake up, it's usually only once.  Unfortunately, he never wakes up at the same time as his brother.  All I have to do to get him back to sleep is give him a bottle in his crib.  Because he sleeps so well, he's usually up for his day pretty early in the morning ready to play. Aaron on the other hand, is not the best sleeper.  In general, he fights sleep.   He also wakes up screaming every three to four hours and is not satisfied until I pick him up and put a bottle in his mouth.  He doesn't go back down as easily as his brother.  And because he doesn't sleep as well, he usually isn't ready to wake up as early as his brother.  This also messes with their naps during the day.  By the time Aaron wakes up, Ethan is usually ready for a morning nap.  Because they are not waking up at the same time, they are not wanting to nap at the same time.  It is very rare that I have both babies sleeping at the same time during the day.  I'll be honest. Their sleep patterns this month are killing me.  They are so very different!  As a result, I am not getting much sleep. I have felt more sleep deprived this month than I did when they were newborns.  It was so much easier when they were tiny.  I could wake them up together every three hours to feed and change them and then put them back to sleep at the same time.  Now that they are bigger, they are really showing their individuality.  It's not fair for me to wake up Ethan just because Aaron wakes up, when Ethan is already showing such healthy sleep patterns.  I'm hoping by next month, we'll have seen great improvements on Aaron's sleep patterns.

Developmentally, we also saw a few firsts this month.  Aaron is officially rolling over.  All of a sudden, he has taken a liking to being put on his stomach.  They used to both hate tummy time.  Ethan is still not a fan of being put on his tummy, but Aaron is really starting to enjoy it.  They also grew into their exersaucers this month.  Growing is something that they have been doing like crazy!  Three month clothes are starting to get snug, and I foresee 3-6 month clothes being pulled out in the near future!  At the beginning of the month, the exersauser was still too big.  At the end of the month, they not only fit into them but have figured out how to turn in the seat and play with most of the toys on it.  And just this week, the babies have grown into their jumperoo.  They've not mastered the jumping part, as they are only five months old, but they are fitting into it and enjoying the toys on it.   

Overall, month five has been a big month of changes.  I'd say we are transitioning from young infants to middle infants.  When they were newborns, they just wanted to be held all of the time.  When they were young infants, they started to enjoy swings, bouncy seats and baby gym mats, as they were learning to reach out for things and focus on their surroundings.  Now we are transitioning into the middle infant stage, as they are sleeping less during the day and enjoying more activity and coordination.  Before I know it, they will be in their older infant phase.  I'll need to baby proof the house for that phase, as we will have babies who are crawling, pulling themselves up and preparing to walk.  Time is going so fast!  Their first year will be over before I know it.  I'm doing my best to take in every second of it, no matter how tired I am!  

Week Nineteen






Week Twenty






Week Twenty-one






Week Twenty-two










Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Babies' First Beach Day


We’ve driven up to Lake Michigan every year around my husband’s birthday.  Only a few hours away from home, it’s one of his favorite places to relax. 

We had talked all summer about whether we should skip the beach this year or go as a family of four.  I knew that taking two four month olds to the beach for the first time was going to be a lot of work!  I knew that it could go really well or it could go really bad.  I knew that we could drive all the way up there, and then have to leave if the babies decided to be super fussy that day.  In my head, I thought of all of the things that could go wrong…..and then I thought who cares?!? Either way, we would be making memories.  And memories we certainly did make!

Just preparing everything for a family beach day was a lot of work.  And then there is the three hour drive there and back.  Like anything we do with the babies, I had to come up with a strategy to work around their feeding schedule.  The plan was: wake the babies up for a feed at 6am, let them go back to sleep while Mommy and Daddy got ready, pack the car, get the babies ready for the day, feed the babies at 8:45, leave the house by 9:15, arrive at the beach around 12pm, feed the babies lunch once we got unpacked on the beach, walk around with the babies and let them play, put the babies down for their nap under the umbrella, eat our lunch and soak up some sun, feed the babies at 3, pack up our stuff and head back home, get home around 6pm just in time to feed the babies, give the babies baths and do our evening routine, feed the babies a night time bottle and put them to bed by 9pm.  

Yeah, that was the plan.  Here's what really happened.  One word....CONSTRUCTION.  Yep, there was some unexpected construction about about thirty miles away from the beach, which led to an additional hour of bumper to bumper traffic on the way THERE and on the way BACK!  

Now, my babies love car rides! They love the interstate!  But I kid you not, my fussy Aaron will cry every time we have to stop at a red light or a stop sign.  As soon as the car is moving again, he'll calm right down.  So when I saw the traffic jam ahead, I knew what was gonna happen.  You guessed it!  We had an hour of screaming from both babies on the way THERE and on the way BACK!  Not to mention the traffic jam put our entire feed schedule off.  I had to try to bottle feed two hungry babies in a traffic jam!  It was not an easy task, in case you were wondering.  

One thing is for sure, having a beach day as a married couple and having a beach day as parents of twin babies are completely different! For starters, when it was the two of us, all we packed was a cooler, a beach bag, an umbrella and our beach blanket and chairs.  With the babies, we had to add a whole lot more things to our usual beach gear.   We had to pack the stroller and two car seats, two baby carriers, two bumbos, the babies’ beach bag full of diapers and toys and the babies’ food bag.  Oh and of course we had to pack the babies!  And that’s just packing the car!

Unloading our gear on the beach was another story.  I'm sure we looked ridiculous as hauled two babies and our gear from the parking lot to the sand and down towards the water!  Matt made fun of me, but I had us do a practice run at home, so we knew how many trips we would have to make from the car to the beach.  We figured out we could make it in two trips.  We each had a baby on us in their carrier.  Then I had both beach bags and the babies food bag, while Daddy carried the cooler, umbrella and chairs.  Once we got our spot on beach set up with the babies’ still attached to us, Daddy went back to get the bumbos, while I reapplied sunscreen, changed diapers and prepared bottles.  Not even at the beach five minutes, and we were already worn out!

Secondly, when we had a beach day with just the two of us, we could actually relax on the beach.  I could read a book or take a nap.  Ahhh, yes those were the days!  I could soak up the sun with no worries, while Matt enjoyed the water.  I have no idea when or if we'll ever be able to do that again!  We could eat our lunch in peace and enjoy the picnic we had packed.  There is absolutely none of that now that we are parents!  I can't tell you the last time I sat down to enjoy a meal with out a baby needing me or me wondering when a baby will need me.  Ha! 

From the day we got home from the hospital, our lives have revolved around babies.  The babies come before any of our needs or wants.  I don’t even get naps at home, let alone on a beach with two four month olds.  The water was too cold for the babies, so Matt didn’t get to swim.  I had to stay under the umbrella and hold my fussy Ethan, so there was no soaking up the sun for me.  And we ended up taking our picnic to the park, because Ethan decided the beach wasn’t for him.
 
Another thing we had to consider with the babies was the weather.  Before babies, we just checked to make sure it wasn’t raining.  After babies, the weather couldn’t be too hot, too cold or too windy.  It had to be just right.  This really limited when we could go to the beach.  We ended up going up on a Sunday, because it was the best weather on our three day weekend.  It was sunny and in the 70’s with no wind….perfect weather for dipping the babies’ feet in the water and then letting them play under the umbrella and/or take a nap while Mommy and Daddy enjoyed the sun.

Well, that was the plan anyway.  We had hoped that the babies would enjoy walking with us along the beach…..and we had hoped that they would think dipping their feet in the water was fun….and we had hoped that they would play with their toys in their bumbos under the umbrella….and we had hoped that they would take a nap under the umbrella after they took a bottle and were tired. 

That’s the joy of taking two babies to the beach.  You never know what they are going to do.  If we only took Aaron to the beach, then all of those things that we hoped would happen probably would have happened.  Aaron really liked the beach.  He loves being outside, and the beach was the place for him.  He loved the water and all of the people.  Ethan on the other hand, decided he wanted nothing to do with the beach.  He hated the water.  He cried unless I was cradling him under the umbrella.  We ended up leaving the beach after about an hour, because my usually happy little Ethan wouldn't stop crying!  I figured that people don’t come to the beach to hear a crying baby.  Not wanting to ruin everyone else’s beach day,  we packed up the car and took the babies and our lunch to the park.  Afterwards we took the babies for a walk into town to get some ice cream.  Once Ethan was in his familiar car seat for a walk, he was one happy little fella.  It didn’t take us long to figure out that while Aaron is our little beach bum, Ethan is just not a beach baby.

The babies' first beach day could have gone better.  But ya just never know how it's gonna go until you give it a try.  I'm glad I didn't back out of our family adventure, for fear of it not being worth all of the work.  Their first beach day was indeed worth all of the work!  Seeing Aaron's face when he felt the sand and the water for the first time was totally worth it!  And seeing Ethan's reaction was just as cute, even if it was the exact opposite reaction of his brother.  

We have no regrets about packing up the car and taking this memorable family day trip.  We have no regret's because it was just that....memorable. I love that we were able to make memories as a family.  Sure, I would have rather had those memories been two happy babies doing exactly what I had planned when I had planned to do it.  But let's face it, how realistic is that! The babies' first beach day was just what we expected it to be....it was full of the unexpected!  This is our new life with twins and what a fun life it is!  We're so thankful for our little fellas!  Who knew these two little cuties could bring us such great joy, while at the same time completely wearing us out!  Here's two hoping next year bring just as many fun memories.












Saturday, August 2, 2014

How my life has changed in one year......



It’s been a year since I woke up to what I think may be the most exciting news I’ve ever had.  Yes, after months of trying to pregnant, we finally saw those two pink lines on a pregnancy test one year ago.  My life has changed so much in a year. 

Some changes I’m still getting used to.  Like my body, for example.  I’m not sure that I will ever get used to what my twin pregnancy did to my body.  I was stretched out to the max, and I have the scars to prove it.  But my scars, while they are certainly not beautiful, are a beautiful reminder of what my body was able to do ~ grow two good-size healthy babies inside of me for 37 weeks.


Some changes were expected.  Financial changes can be stressful, but we are managing as we were prepared to go from a two income home to a one income home.  For us, having the babies meant that we chose to significantly decrease the amount of money coming into our bank account each month by me not working outside of the home, and we increased the amount of money being taken out of our bank account each month because babies cost A LOT of money.  This is a change that we expected, and I have no regrets about this decision.  We always budgeted off of Matt’s income alone, but my income was all of the extras.  I’m not gonna lie when I say I miss the extras.  We are adjusting to these financial changes, but being able to take care of my own babies while they are babies is worth not being able to go out to dinner every week or grab a Starbucks whenever I want. It’s worth not being able to take nice vacations or go shopping just because I want something without actually having a need for something.  Yes, it’s a big change, but a change that we can get used to.  I understand not everyone is able to make this choice, so I am thankful that for us it was a choice.  And for us, it was the right decision.


Some changes I could do without. Sleep deprivation would certainly fall into this category.  I don’t think I’ve had a decent night’s sleep since my first trimester.  Having to pee every thirty minutes kept me from sweet sleep for the majority of my pregnancy.  Baby movement kept me up most nights in my third trimester, and contractions the last three weeks of my pregnancy made it almost impossible to sleep.  And then the babies came, and you know how that goes.  Sleep?  What is that?  That’s how I felt about sleep once the babies came.  I didn’t even recognize it.  Even now, I still have not slept through the night, because there has not been a night where both babies have slept straight through.  Oh how I can’t wait for the day I get 7-8 hours of sleep without any interruptions!  How wonderful that will be!


And then there are the changes that will never be the same.  Like how our family of two went to a family of four over night.  I certainly miss being able to get away with the hubs for a romantic weekend whenever we wanted.  A year ago, we were taking our annual Lake Michigan weekend trip and packing only our beach chairs, a cooler and our beach bag.  This year, we are taking the babies along, and you should see all of the gear we are lugging to the beach!  It’s crazy how much more work it is to do anything with babies.  I miss having my husband all to myself and he having me without the babies needing me first.  But, at the same time, this is such a precious time in our lives.  And while our lives revolve around the babies at the moment, life will soon calm down and not be so hectic.  No, life will never be the way it was before we had babies, but life is far more rewarding now that we are responsible for these two little beings that were created out of our love for one another.


Best of all, there are the changes that I don’t think I could live without now that they’ve happened.  These changes include holding my little ones in my arms….nursing them in the middle of the night…..rocking them when they are fussy….kissing their sweet cheeks….and this list goes on and on.  Like the look Aaron gives me when he’s cuddling with me.  He stares right into my eyes, like I’m his one true love and he’s mine.  And I couldn’t imagine life without seeing Ethan’s little smile when I sing to him.  His chubby cheeks and little dimple melt my heart every time.  And how I love to hear my babies jibber jabber amongst one another.  They can carry on a conversation as if they can understand what the other is saying.  Most of all, I can’t imagine not being able to experience the love of a mother.  It is a love like none other.  A love I can not explain.  It has changed me for the better, and in some ways it is now part of what defines me.  I am a lot of things, but I am honored to say that within this past year I have become a mother who loves her two sons more than she could have ever imagined.   

These babies were the answer to our prayers.  Yes, there have been a lot of changes this past year.  Tonight I am reminded of those changes and that change is a good thing;)