White Noise.

When Monk A & B were two months old, I remember watching them sleep peacefully in their baby swings and thinking, “I wish I were you right now”.  Yes, I was jealous of my newborn babies. I would have given anything to curl up in an adult-sized baby swing and fall asleep.

Now, seven months later, their sleeping habits have improved. I don’t feel jealous of my babies anymore, but if you read this post you’ll know that Monk A & B are still not terrific sleepers. It’s the twin thing: as soon as one’s crying starts to subside, the other one begins again. Their first game of tag!

As a temporary solution, Monk A was downgraded to economy class (a playpen in our room). It helped at first, but then they started waking each other from across the hallway. Our situation was getting desperate. There was only one thing left to try: earplugs. Just kidding. There was only one thing left to try: white noise.

So, while our friends and family spent the May long weekend barbecuing and cottaging, Dan and I spent it Googling the following things:

“Best white noise for twins”

“Loudest white noise machines”

“Can white noise cause hearing loss?”

“Can you become addicted to white noise and never sleep again without it?”

“When does having twins get easier?”

Then the experiment began. Wait, I should have mentioned that we already had something called a Sleep Sheep, which is a sound machine disguised as a stuffed animal.

Sleep Sheep

Sleep Sheep.

The problem is, it only stays on for 45 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I like to sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time.

Okay, so then the experiment began.

Saturday Night: We reunite Monk A & B in their nursery and pray the fancy sound machine I bought from from Babies R Us would do the trick.

sound-machine

Fancy Sound Machine.

Results? Complete failure. My friend explained that fancy sound machine wasn’t loud enough. White noise has to be loud. LOUD. She said it can be as loud as a vacuum cleaner – though I can’t remember how loud that actually is because I haven’t heard the sound of a vacuum cleaner in months.

Sunday Night: We decide it’s time to bring in the big guns:

Speakers and stereo.

The Big Guns.

Dan hooks up his speakers in the nursery and downloads the loudest white noise mp3 he can find – it’s called “waterfall”. Who wouldn’t want to fall asleep next to a waterfall? We put my iPod on repeat, plug it into the speakers and turn up the volume. The boys fall asleep next to Niagara Falls.

Results? At 2am I hear Monk A stir. I wait. Monk B stays silent. Then Monk A is silent again. Success! I am so excited I wake up Dan, “it worked!”  The words had barely left my mouth when suddenly the white noise stops. What!? Almost immediately I hear Monk A stir again. Monk B hears him and begins to cry. I too begin to cry. Dan goes in and discovers my iPod froze.

Monday Night: The pressure is on. It’s Victoria Day. Fireworks. We need to get it right and can’t take any chances on my iPod. Instead we turn on the radio to static (which actually sounds exactly like “waterfall”, but somehow I feel guilty letting my babies fall asleep to radio static).

Results? A miracle: Monk A & B sleep from 6:30 p.m.- 6:00 a.m.

Since then, Monk A & B have been sleeping in the same room. It hasn’t been perfect – far from it – but definitely an improvement. I’m sure there are still sleepless nights in store for us. In fact, I know there are. I was planning to write this post a week ago but needed to nap instead.

Thanks, Mom.

I read somewhere (Facebook) that when you become a mom, “you will know what it feels like for your heart to live outside your body”. This left me with some disturbing images, but once I got past that, I appreciated the sentiment behind it. It’s true: becoming a mom is the most vulnerable type of love there is. Your utter happiness is placed in the hands of a person who doesn’t even realize he has hands for the first three months of life.

I don’t imagine these feelings change very much as your children age. I bet, thirty-one years later, my mom still thinks of me as her 150lb heart walking around outside her body.

So thanks, mom. Thanks for making childhood so fun. For writing us funny poems, for crimping my hair, and for doing the Sesame Street “Grover voice” every time we asked you to, even though you said it hurt your throat.

Thanks for letting me order Proactive with your credit card during my awkward teenage years. You were right: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But you let me try it anyway.

Thanks for taking me prom dress shopping, wedding dress shopping and maternity clothes shopping.

Thanks for being my ultimate parenting guide, even though your response to most of my questions are, “hmm… I don’t really remember”.

Thanks for stopping me from registering for all the unnecessary baby items those baby stores sell (no one needs a wipes warmer, except maybe if you live in a tent).

Thanks for loving my babies as much as I do.

And most of all, thanks for being my mom when I became a mom. Because when everyone else was busy taking care of the new babies, you were the one taking care of me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. Especially to moms of first-time moms. We really couldn’t do it without you.

 

 

It’s “Amazing”.

There is a process of etiquette among parents of multiples (POM). First, if you see a brand new POM out in public or in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, offer a warm smile and words of encouragement. Second, never ever tell an expectant POM the truth about how hard the first three months are. Scratch that, the first six months. Third, remind each other that it will get easier, especially when they can “play together” (I haven’t yet figured out if this third point is one big fat lie or actually the truth).

When I had newborns, I was incredibly appreciative of the POMs who followed these unspoken rules. So, now that Monk A & B are almost eight months old, I am happy to return the favour. Except when this happened:

A few months ago, Dan and I were having lunch at Hero Burger – Monk A & B in tow. In walks a mom pushing twins only a few months younger than ours. I think, it’s finally my turn! My turn to be the kind, wise POM who can reassure this poor soul that one day she will indeed sleep again. And watch Mad Men. And write a personal blog. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I can show it to her!

I turn to her, smile, and say kindly and knowlingly, “how’s it going?”

To my surprise she replies, “Amazing!

WHAT? Amazing? Amazing? This is not how the encounter is supposed to go.

“Wow, that’s great,” I say. “How are they sleeping?” Ha. Now I’ve got her.

“Perfectly! Twin A sleeps from 7pm to 7am and Twin B sleeps from 8pm to 8am!”

Dan chokes on his milkshake. But I’m not done yet. I’ll get her.

“But do they wake each other up?” I say.

“Nope! Never! They’re so good” She pats one on the head, lovingly.

Dan pipes up, “can they teach ours to do that?” I kick him from under the table.

“Well, that’s just great for you!” I say.

When I turn back around Dan is staring at me. I think he’s trying not to cry because, at this point, Monk A & B were still waking up at least twice a night to eat. I kept justifying it by saying they were having a growth spurt (parents like to rationalize all the annoying things babies do by calling it a growth spurt. Or teething).

I glance back at this woman’s twins who are sleeping peacefully in their stroller. Then I peer down at two chubby faces staring up at me. Surely if this woman’s delicate little four-month-olds can go a full night without eating then my porky six-month-olds can too.

That night Monk A & B learned to go a full night without eating. And I learned that Hero Burger mom was right, when your babies sleep through the night, it is pretty amazing.

Sleepy Monk A

P.S. No need to hate me. Monk A & B are still not fantastic sleepers. Sometimes they still eat at night and they still wake each other up, despite the fact that one currently sleeps in a playpen at the foot of our bed.

Do you know a pregnant person?

It’s an exciting time because a number of my friends and family members are expecting babies! When I speak to my expectant friends and their partners, I try to remember all the mental notes I made during my pregnancy – mental notes on what not to say to a pregnant person. There were some things Dan and I heard repeatedly that made us either want to cry or punch their face (Dan= cry; me= punch their face).

My mental notes on what not to say to a pregnant person:

  1. “You’re having a boy? Watch out, boys are a handful!”
    Despite what some websites say, people cannot choose the gender of their baby. Nor can they exchange their baby for a different one. It’s not a shirt. They are also well aware that little boys are made of snails, puppy dog tails and dirt… or whatever that rhyme says.
  2. Any story about you, your friend or your aunt/sister/mother/cousin/colleague who went through an unpleasant experience while pregnant or during the delivery.
  3. “Get your sleep now!”
    FYI, most pregnant women already aren’t sleeping. In the first trimester she is too busy throwing up or smelling lemons because she read somewhere that it might help her to not throw up. In the second trimester she is up worrying (see point #2). In the third trimester, well, it’s fairly obvious: she’s huge and achy. All. The. Time.

In addition to the above, if you ever encounter a woman who is expecting twins, keep these things in mind:

  1. If you are walking behind an 8-month-pregnant woman who is waddling up the street to the local Yogurty’s, do not call out: “I hope you’re on your way to the hospital!” *
  2. If you are a construction worker and you spot a hugely pregnant woman struggling to get out of her car because the steering wheel doesn’t lift any higher, it’s not okay to yell, “Hey lady, you must be having twins, eh?” **
  3. If you are a teenaged girl driving in your car with your teenaged friend and you spot a woman with the biggest pregnant belly you’ve ever seen, make sure your car window is up before exclaiming to your friend, “OMG LOOK HOW BIG THAT WOMAN IS!” The pregnant woman can hear you. Because your car window is down. And because you’re pointing at her.***

* This happened to me.
** This did too.
*** I hope that teenaged girl has triplets one day.

That’s all I can think of for now, but surely there are additional items to add to this list. What have I missed?

Sorry, Earth.

Today is Earth Day and I’m pretty sure Mother Nature is scowling at me. I do care about the environment. Truly. I recycle. I carry a small reusable bag in my purse to avoid plastic bags. I try to turn lights off when I leave a room. I know my kids will inherit the earth I leave for them, etc. etc. It’s just that being green hasn’t been top of my priority list lately. It’s somewhere in the middle (but definitely TOP of the middle).

We have twins, which means double the diapers, double the wipes. But I don’t feel guilty about these things. They are necessities. I don’t even feel guilty that, after Monk A & B arrived, Dan started to driving to work each day instead of taking public transit.

There is, however, one thing I feel particularly embarrassed about: the dishwasher. I run that thing enough times per day to drain a pond. A small pond, but a significant body of water nonetheless.  It started the day we discovered this:

Sani Wash Button

Did you know there’s a sanitize button on your dishwasher? Cause there is. Before this discovery Dan and I were hand-washing bottles and then sterilizing them in the microwave for exactly 6 minutes (because that’s what the instructions on our microwave sterilizer said to do. God forbid our beautiful babies come into contact with one drop of unsterilized tap water!) Before the sanitize button, it wasn’t unusual to find my dear husband standing at the kitchen sink in the middle of the night scrubbing out bottle nipples with a small bottle nipple cleaning brush.

Discovering the sanitize button changed our lives. No more hand-washing! The problem is that sometimes we run out of bottles before there is a full load of dirty dishes. And by “sometimes” I mean always. When this happens I usually consider washing the bottles by hand. Then I think about all the other things I could be doing instead and decide against it.

Sometimes I try to trick myself into feeling less guilty about it. First, I spread the bottles out so that they’re scattered throughout the dishwasher. This creates the illusion that it’s more full.

Empty Dishwasher

Then I glance around my kitchen for other items that “really could use a wash”. I throw in a few barely used, dusty casserole dishes. There. Now I really do need to run it.

The other night Dan suggested we simply buy more bottles. I shut down that idea quickly. I’m not sure why but I think a small, deluded part of me believes my 7-month-old babies will start drinking from adult drinking glasses in the near future.

So here we are on Earth Day. I feel pretty guilty. Then I remember a friend telling me that sometimes, when her baby falls asleep in the car, she pulls out a book and sits there idling in the driveway in order to let him sleep. Surely this offense is much greater than mine. But even if it isn’t, perhaps the world can give us new moms a bit of a break this year.

Baby Led Weaning.

We’re doing this thing called Baby Led Weaning. It means you don’t puree the food, you just give it to them whole and hope they don’t choke.

I had never heard of this method until Monk A & B‘s six-month check up. Our paediatrician encouraged us to research it, so I did. First I found this YouTube video of a baby chomping on a whole chicken leg. I’m sorry, but that’s weird. Then I found some normal babies – babies who were eagerly picking up soft fruits and veggies and eating them. Now I’m warming to the idea. Then I read this:

The distinct advantage of weaning at around six months is that by then, our children are developmentally capable of feeding themselves proper food… no purees, no ice cube trays, no food processor, no potato masher.

What caught my eye was the last half of that sentence. This Baby Led Weaning could actually save me a bunch of time. Plus, the pioneers didn’t have Baby Bullets so it’s only natural, right? (comparing my situation to the pioneers is a little trick I use to help justify potentially poor parenting decisions).

I told my husband we were going to try this. He dug up the Infant CPR handouts we were given in our pre-natal class.

Here’s roughly how it went:

Day 1: Avocado. Tip: If you want your child to “wean” himself, give him a food he can actually pick up and won’t simply mush in between his fingers. This does not include an overripe avocado. I spent the rest of the day cleaning up and checking their bodies for the non-existent rash I had convinced myself they’d develop as an allergic reaction to their first food.

Day 2: Less ripe avocado. In fact, it was so unripe that even I couldn’t bite into it.

Day 3: Normal avocado. Another tip: don’t make your child feed himself an avocado if he is already starving or tired. One website advises to feed your baby his bottle then wait an hour before giving solids. Another site says to give half the bottle then wait for a while, then give solids, then the other half of his bottle. Another site says to wait until the sun has risen exactly three quarters above the horizon, then sit facing the Northeast corner of the room and hold the spoon at a 30 degree angle.  Fine, I made up that last one. But when do these magical times actually occur? Monk A & B only stay awake for 2 hours max – usually less. And I’d like to invite the authors of those websites to attempt giving a baby only half their bottle.

Day 4-14: Rice cereal. From a spoon.

Now, a month later, we’ve adopted our own hybrid-version of Baby Led Weaning combined with purees. It is going fairly well. Unfortunately my clever method fails to save time. In fact, it has actually added an additional step to their eating routine.

My conclusion after all of this? Maybe it WAS the pioneers who invented the Baby Bullet.

BLW- Monk ABLW- Monk B

 

Effective Facebook photo-bragging.

We all joined Facebook to brag about our great lives (or to brag about our troubles) and to compare ourselves to other people’s brag-worthy lives. And from what I can see there are two types of braggers. The first brags via status updates. Example: Breakfast in bed thanks to my amazing husband! Love you babe!

Then there are the second type, myself included, who prefer to photo-brag. Most moms fall into this category. Also included in this category are: people who can cook/bake; people who take nice vacations; athletic people with six-pack abs (the last two often overlap, but that’s beside the point). A photo-brag on Facebook looks something like this:

Brag #1: My kids are smart.

Each month I post a handful of photos of Monk A & B looking cute while doing very smart-looking things. The captions imply that these very smart-looking things are just casual, every day occurrences. Example:

 Monk B is so smart.

My Facebook caption: “Monk B and his favourite book”.

The in-my-head caption: “OMG, for three seconds straight he looked at the page! It looks like he is actually reading, doesn’t it?”

Brag #2: My kids are stylish.

Every so often (read: once in a blue moon) we go on an outing with Monk A & B. This means they get to wear “real people” baby clothes. I open the bottom drawer of their dresser and cut the tags off a cute baby outfit given to us by a generous friend or aunt. Then, 15 minutes before we have to leave, I change them out of their spit-up/poop stained sleepers and into their real people clothes. Voila! Stylish babies! Before we go, I take some pictures. These pictures are eventually posted in my Monk A & B Facebook album to receive a bunch of “likes” and complimentary comments. I know I’m not really fooling anyone. Every mom knows babies (especially mine) wear sleepers 99.9% of the time. But, somehow, this brag is still effective.

Candid picture of Monk A in his normal clothes:

Uncool sleeper

Facebook picture of a stylish Monk A on our way to a birthday party:

Chic sweater outfit

 

#3: The multi-brag.

This photo-brag has many layers. The most obvious is that Monk A & B can sit in their high chairs now. Yay! The less obvious brag is that I prepared a nice dinner and sat at the table to eat it. But the biggest brag of all is that BOTH Monk A & B sat there with me while I ate my dinner. Parents of twins know this is a huge achievement. Getting two babies to sit happily in their high chairs at the exact time my supper is prepared is extremely rare. Like finding a four leaf clover or something.

In the spirit of full honesty, I should mention this is a SupperWorks dinner. I even paid the extra money to have them prepare the frozen meals for me.

In the spirit of full honesty, I should mention this is a SupperWorks dinner. I even paid the extra money to have them prepare the frozen meals for me.

Facebook moms who photo-brag, like me, can be annoying. We are typically first-time moms. One day, however, I aspire to be like those second- and third-time moms who post photos of their kids finger painting on the couch or dumping a hundred books on the living room floor. I know one mom of three who posts photos of all the strange places her kids fall asleep around the house. These moms are the best. They let you have a laugh at their expense and make you feel normal.

Monk A & B.

I’ve noticed parenting writers usually have some sort of pseudonym for their children. Pamela Druckerman uses Bean; Scott Colby uses Popcorn and Sweet Pea; Leanne Shirtliffe uses Thing 1 2. The list goes on. These are smart people and smart writers. I figured I too better come up with a smart pseudonym for my twins boys. The problem is that I don’t have a smart nickname for the boys. I just have one and it’s weird. Like many parents, I started off calling them “Monkey”. This cute little nickname eventually – and unfortunately – got shortened to just “Monk”. I couldn’t help it. I just kept saying it. Though I try not to call them this in front of guests (because, as I mentioned before, it’s weird) in the spirit of authenticity I will call them Monk A (for twin A) and Monk B (for twin B) on this blog. My husband hopes it does not become a precursor to their future career path.

Here is a photo of Monk A and B. Monk B is “copy” and Monk A is “paste”. This photo got 71 “likes” on Facebook. I am a Facebook photo-bragger. Learn more about the art of Facebook photo-bragging in this post.

Here is a photo of Monk A & B. Monk B is “copy” and Monk A is “paste”.