Monday, January 28, 2013

Question for moms of kids over age 2

If anyone reading has progressed to the point where the youngest children in your home are now over age 2, I have a question for you.  Will I ever feel rested again?

My sons have been sleeping through the night--for the most part--since they were about six months old.  We have had occasional wake-ups due to illness or for unknown reasons, but I have been getting a full night's sleep on a fairly regular basis for the better part of six months. . . and yet I am still tired nearly every day.  And oddly enough, I am often more tired on the days after I've had a full night (which I define as at least eight hours) of uninterrupted sleep.

MM and I have been alternating nights of "baby duty" since the boys were about 8 months old.  (Prior to that time, I did ALL the night wakings with them.  Yep.  All of them, even after I went back to work full time and MM was home on FMLA leave.)  So I am guaranteed a solid night of eight hours of sleep at least three nights a week.

I don't stay up late reading or watching television.  I am careful to limit my use of media (computer, TV, iPhone) within an hour or so of bedtime.  I don't exercise in the evenings, as that has always interfered with my sleep, and I consume no caffeine after 2:00 p.m.  I try not to drink more than a little bit of water after 6:00 p.m. so I won't have to get up at night due to a full bladder.  (I generally drink two liters of water during the workday, so doing this isn't too difficult for me.)

I have recently resumed exercising three mornings a week.  Nothing strenuous, just a brisk walk with the dog or 20 minutes of yoga.  (I am woefully out of shape, more out of shape than I have ever been, even at weights 25 lbs more than my current weight, but that's a sad topic for another post.)

Based on all this, I believe that I am probably getting sufficient sleep, so I can't understand why I feel tired all the time.  I'm not anemic.  I have had my thyroid levels checked recently, and they are normal.  (In fact, I have had quite a bit of lab work done, and the only abnormality found was that I am vitamin D deficient, something for which I am currently taking supplements.)

It's true that my stress levels are quite high, probably unhealthily so, nearly all the time.  But apart from that, I really don't see any reason for my feeling so tired all the time.  My sons are pretty good sleepers in the main, and have been for some time, so it seems like I shouldn't be so tired.


Friday, January 25, 2013

No more babies

I feel foolish for even thinking this, more so for writing it. . . but it occurred to me yesterday that my sons are reaching--maybe have already reached?--a point where they are no longer babies but toddlers.  They now resemble little children much more than they resemble the little babies we brought home almost a year ago.

They are walking and attempting to communicate through signs and speech.  Their movements are (mostly) purposeful, and it's clear that they understand a lot of what is said to them.  They play with toys.  Although their faces and arms and legs and hands and feet still have that adorable baby chubbiness, they are becoming more childlike and less babyish all the time.

It makes me wonder whether I fully absorbed all of the baby goodness I could during that fleeting first year.  Did I spend enough time just holding them and drinking in their sweet scents and feeling their softness? Did I pay enough attention to the little baby noises that they made that I will remember them now that I will never hear them again?

I fear that I spent too much of the past year in survival mode and not enough time enjoying it.  And now it is gone, and I will never get to experience it again.

It makes sad to realize that, although AJ and MJ are still here, my babies are gone.  And for us, there will be no more babies.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


No, not the kind involving a church and lovely flowing white gowns.  (That's a topic for a whole 'nother post that I currently have neither the time nor the inclination to write.)

Last night I received another christening, of sorts: MJ puked all over me.  I have been spit up on more times than I can count, and by him in particular, but this is the first time I've actually been vomited on.  And he did it up right: it was all over my shirt, on my pants, in and on my bra, on the carpet, in my hair, as well as being all over him and spattering a few flecks on his poor brother, who was sitting nearby.

It felt like a rite of passage of sorts.  An unpleasant one, but a milestone nonetheless. . . like I'm *really* a mother now, LOL.

Ah, the things no one tells you to expect about motherhood.  I can almost guarantee that Oprah has never cleaned puke out of one of her $75 Le Mystere bras.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I am only one

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do."  ~Edward Everett Hale

Isn't it funny how sometimes you're having a bad day and thinking things just couldn't get worse. . . and then they do?

And yet somehow, some way, you are still able to persevere through it all?

I am sorry to be cryptic.  I just don't have the time or mental energy to get into all the thoughts in my head right now.  Rest assured that my sons are fine, MM is fine, and I am (or will be) fine.

What I can do, I should do.  And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do.

Monday, January 21, 2013

One year


One year and two days ago, my sons were born.

One year and one day ago, I was the sickest I have ever been and came the closest to dying that I hope to ever come (until it is truly my time, which I hope will not be for at least another 40 years or so).  I will say that I feel fortunate to have reached the age of 40 before experiencing anything that would merit that statement.  I don't think I even fully realized at the time how serious my condition was because my mind was more occupied with how my sons were doing.  I only mention this fact here because it was something that was on my mind on and off yesterday.

One year ago today, I began to recover.  The "cure" for preeclampsia that was the delivery of my sons finally took effect.  I was permitted to sit up, and then to walk around and to shower and, most importantly, to have my first interactions of any length with my sons. 

Although my sons turned one year old on Saturday, it was a year ago today when I really started the process of getting to know them.  And what a joyful and wondrous process it has been.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thankful for my health and my boys

This time last year, I was in the hospital, on IV magnesium and continuous fetal monitoring, wondering what was going to happen to our sons and to me.  I didn't know when I would deliver or how our sons would do once they were born.  I felt sick, physically uncomfortable, flushed, exhausted, and anxious.

Today I woke early--as I do every day--and had time to shower and dress before getting my sons up and giving them breakfast and then changing them, dressing them for the day and playing with them for a couple of hours before their nanny arrived.  (Normally MM has the morning baby duty, but we had to change up the schedule today due to his having to be at work extra early for an annual training.)  I can't say I hopped out of bed brimming with energy, but I felt about as rested as I do on most mornings these days.

As I watched my sons eating their breakfast and then later toddling around our living room, playing with their toys and coming over occasionally to give Mama hugs, I thought about how much has changed since this day a year ago and how fortunate I am to have two healthy, happy little boys.  They have both exceeded my expectations for how they would be doing as they approach their first birthday, and it so fun watching them grow and develop.

MJ is now clapping his hands--super cute--and two nights ago learned to sign "more" when he wants more food (instead of yelling and screaming, which was his previous mode of communicating that desire).  AJ waves and is practicing his walking more and more with careful little steps.  They both smile and laugh readily and display such joy in exploring our home and the things in it.  (Their particular interest these days: putting anything and everything out the dog door.)  MJ squealed with delight when their nanny arrived, and AJ hurriedly crawled over to greet her.

I would not want to repeat my pregnancy or my hospital experience, with the preeclampsia and the c-section just after 34 weeks, but I could never say that it wasn't worth it.  Our sons are, hands down, the best thing in my life.  :-)

Friday, January 11, 2013

You at One Year


Dear AJ,

One of my earliest memories of you is trying to put you to the breast when you were less than two days old.  The times I had seen you before that, your eyes were shut tight, or you were sleeping.  On that day, you looked directly into my eyes with what appeared to be a sad expression. You were so small and seemed so fragile.  How much you have changed since those early days!

Up until about a month ago, you wouldn't smile at anyone you didn't know well.  When in an unfamiliar situation, you generally wore a serious expression as you surveyed all the new sights, sounds and people, taking in every detail.  Over the past month or so, though, you have started warming up to strangers a little, in contradiction of what most children are doing at your age.

It can still be hard for someone to get a smile out of you, but when she does, your smile can melt her heart.  You have a definite preference for the ladies; Auntie K was the first person to make you smile when you were just a little baby, even before Mama or Dada.

You are our quiet observer.  You notice details I'm not sure most babies would, like when I've had my hair straightened at the salon.  (You have a fascination with my hair and love to grab it, no matter how it is restrained.)  You seem to take everything in.

Your voice and your laugh are quiet and sweet (though you can make plenty of noise if/when you want to).  You have never really screamed or squealed like a lot of babies do.  Even your earliest vocalizations were approximations of word sounds like "ah-goo" or "da."  Up until a few months ago, you would sometimes jump, startled, when your bigger and louder brother would squeal or scream.

Although you have been teething for months, you still have no teeth, but that doesn't slow your eating down much.  You are more than capable of gumming just about any soft food we place in your hand or on your high chair tray. . . and if you try it out and find it isn't working, you just spit it out.

You are particular in that you like things a certain way.  New tastes always elicit a funny face from you the first few bites, even with foods that you eventually have grown to love.  You don't like your bottle, or your bathwater, to be either too warm or too cold.  You don't like loud noises, and you prefer familiar surroundings.  Transitions have always been a little bit challenging for you.

You "look before you leap."  So imagine our surprise when you were the first to crawl and when, not long after you started standing and then cruising, you also started climbing.  (Maybe you think you're part monkey due to the nursery decor, as Auntie K jokes?)

You are becoming more independent all the time.  You took your first steps at 11 months, not long after MJ took his, but then preferred to stick with crawling.  (You quickly became, and have remained, a proficient and speedy crawler.)  As we close in on your first birthday, you are beginning to walk longer distances and more and more often, perfecting your balance.

You taught yourself to give people kisses, and you think it's funny to sometimes lick them at the last moment.  When someone is holding you, you like to tap him/her with your little hand.  You like to cuddle and often want Mama to hold you these days.

In many ways, you are a very easy baby.  You go to sleep without a struggle most nights, and up until recently, slept straight through for 10-11 hours, usually until we had to wake you because MJ had been up for a while already.  You are generally easily consoled, as long as your need is identified and addressed early.  No cry it out for you!

It is amazing to see how your mind is developing.  We recently bought a baby gate with a picture of a golden retriever on the box.  You were fascinated with the picture and were studying it at length.  When Bubbe said to you "Is that a dog?", you turned and looked at our dog, Hunter, making it clear that you understand what the word "dog" means.

You are my little peanut, my sweetheart, with your happy disposition and your musical little laugh.  I love you.

Dear MJ,

My father said shortly after you came home from the hospital "MJ doesn't know that he is a preemie," and throughout your first year, that has seemed to be true.  Even the pediatrician who cared for you in the hospital nursery said you were "precocious."  You have hit every one of your developmental milestones on time, or early, despite arriving at 34 weeks.  Your weight and height have been at or above the 50th percentile since you were two months old.  (We were allowed to stop giving you preemie formula at that visit, since you were gaining weight so fast.)

You like to vocalize just to hear the sounds your voice can make.  Those sounds include not only attempts at words but also screams and squeals that can startle us, and grunts and growls that can crack us up.  Two sounds you made regularly for months led Dad to nickname you the "baby pterodactyl" and "Captain Caveman."  Your voice and your laugh are both loud, and there is nothing subtle about you.

You love your pacifier and like nothing more than to have one in your mouth and one in each hand.  You like taking your brother's pacifier from him, too, and anything else he has that you want.  This is done without malice.  You simply want what you see and decide you will take it.

You took your first halting steps a week or so before Christmas and by New Year's Day, you were walking more than you were crawling.  You can now walk quite proficiently nearly all the time, losing your balance only occasionally, more often when you are tired.

You are a "doer" who loves to take things apart to see how they work.  You are clearly curious and want to explore your environment, whether this means opening and emptying a kitchen cabinet, playing in the dog's water bowl, climbing on the couch or trying to go out the dog door.

You love meeting new people and seem energized by new experiences.  Up until recently, you smiled readily at strangers, although this is now a bit variable with the onset of some developmentally appropriate stranger anxiety.  You chortle and squeal happily when someone you know and like (Mama, Daddy, your nanny) arrives home.

After going through phases where you wanted Mama to hold you for extended periods--first in your early days, when you had fussy evenings, and then later, when you were waking around 2 or 3 a.m. regularly wanting to be with me--you are now generally too busy doing things to want many cuddles.  You usually only want Mama to hold you when you are sleepy or sad (or sometimes when you see your brother getting attention).

You prefer to be independent these days.  After refusing to feed yourself for weeks, you decided around New Year's that you would hold the bottle yourself and now push away any attempts to assist you.  You decided you were done eating purees around the same time, and with six teeth already, who can blame you? You eat your finger foods with great gusto, usually grasping fistfuls of food with both hands and shoving it in your mouth.

You are an easy baby in many ways.  You generally don't cry for long unless something is genuinely wrong, and you are not very needy.

You are my chunky monkey, my son with the big personality and the set of lungs to match.  I love you.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Countdown to the first birthday

As we get closer to my sons’ first birthday (now less than two weeks away, can you believe it?!),  I find that, rather than feeling excited about this milestone in their lives, I am reflecting on far less happy thoughts.  When I think back on this time a year ago, I find myself thinking less about how happy I was to finally be a mother and more about how miserable I felt physically and how anxious I felt mentally in the two weeks leading up to their birth.

I know that a lot of parents like to tell their children their birth stories on their birthdays.  I don’t see myself doing that because their birth story isn’t entirely a happy memory for me.  Certainly it’s happy in the sense that I was overjoyed to welcome my sons into the world and relieved that they were healthy and did well, despite being almost six weeks early.  But it was far from the ideal birth experience I think most mothers would hope for.

Although my pregnancy with the boys was far from easy, I had had relatively few complications (apart from gestational diabetes) until I awoke in the early morning hours of January 5--the day after I hit 32 weeks--with a bad headache.  A trip to the OB showed that my blood pressure had started to climb, and that was the start of preeclampsia, although I didn't know it at the time.  All I knew then was that I'd be on bed rest, and off work, for the duration of my pregnancy.

No one wants to *have to* deliver because she is sick and because it is literally killing her to continue her pregnancy.  No one wants to deliver at 34 weeks.  No one wants to see her sons only briefly, in a drug-induced haze, during the first hours of their lives, rather than having the opportunity to hold them close and count all their fingers and toes.  No mother wants to spend the first couple of days after the birth of her children separated from them, or to leave the hospital without them.

Actually, I kind of hate hearing or reading other people’s birth stories because of the fact that mine isn’t the happy story I wish it had been.  It isn’t something I dwell on or think of often—fortunately for me, I always saw pregnancy and delivery as more of a means to an end than as goals in and of themselves—but when I do think of it, it’s not something I really enjoy thinking of.

I don’t like that I feel this way, and I hope that these feelings will not persist throughout my sons’childhood.  I have always loved celebrating my birthday—still do, at almost 42(!) years of age—and I want AJ and MJ to think of their birthday as a happy day, too.  To me, your birthday is the one day of the year that is all about you.

I hope that the older my sons get, the more I will be able to celebrate their presence in my life on their birthday, celebrate THEM, and the less I will think about the actual day of their birth.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fantasy vs. Reality

How I wish I could spend my weekend: at a quiet resort or spa somewhere nearby like Sedona. (This place would be heavenly.) While I was there, I could relax, sleep in, eat healthy meals prepared by someone else, get a 90-minute massage, pedicure and facial, and go for a long hike and be alone with my thoughts.  I'd come back home on Sunday evening feeling refreshed and renewed.

How I will actually be spending my weekend:  if this past week is any indication, AJ will be clinging to me most of the weekend and crying when I have to put him down for any reason.  My mom and MM will be disagreeing about whether he should receive some Tylenol or Motrin for possible teething.  MJ will be waking up daily between 5 and 5:30 for the day and walking all over the house, opening and closing all of the eleven (!) cabinets in our kitchen.  I will be running errands to 4 or 5 different stores tomorrow with them in tow, as well as trying to accomplish a few little projects around the house (like installing baby gates and cabinet locks) with my mom's help.  We will meet my in-laws out at a restaurant for dinner somewhere on Sunday.  And somewhere in between, I will do my laundry and finish entering my billable time for the month of December in my firm's computer program (a task that was supposed to have been completed by close of business on Friday).

Yeah, I'm sure I'll return to the office on Monday feeling renewed and refreshed with my current plan.  :-)

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I used to have time for writing year-end retrospectives.  I used to have time to contemplate New Year's resolutions, and perhaps even work on achieving those resolutions.  (Which is not to say that I often actually achieved them.  Ahem.)

Now I am a mother of twins who also works full-time outside the home in a demanding job.  I no longer have time for those things.

I think I am finally beginning to accept that many of the pursuits which occupied my time and attention before my sons' arrival simply can no longer do so.  There are a finite number of hours in each day, in each week, and we must choose how to spend them.

Alas, unlike with money, where there is often an opportunity for us to find a way to earn more, there is no way to make more time.  We can't go into debt.  We each get twenty-four hours in each day, and that's it.

My work requires that I devote to it a certain (large) chunk of my time.  Due to the nature of my current job, most of that time is non-negotiable and incapable of being reduced.  (Truly, there isn't even an incentive for me to be efficient at work.)  At this point, I have outsourced nearly all the household services which can reasonably be outsourced, taking into account practical and financial considerations.

So the non-work hours I have are all the "leisure" time I have.  Into that time I must fit my sons (first and foremost), my husband, the rest of my family members, our dog, my friends, myself, the miscellaneous tasks of daily living (like eating, sleeping, showering, laundry and the like), and "everything else."

For now, I choose to devote the majority of that time to being with my sons.  Seeing their growth and watching the seemingly daily changes in what they can do, hearing their laughter and their little voices, holding them in my arms. . . these things are far more important to me than reading the latest novel, keeping up with the latest celebrity gossip, having a perfectly clean and organized house, and yes (sorry, friends), posting here.

My intention for this year is to simply BE, insofar as that is possible.  Be in the moment, live my life, and enjoy it to the fullest.

Happy New Year to you.