Monday, August 17, 2009

Twelve Weeks with Captain Obvious

Mayberry Mom (channeling Captain Obvious) posted a series of reminders about things not to ask a woman of childbearing age.  My personal favorite -- "are you planning on having any more children?" -- is something I have heard a lot in the past 3 months. Even if we didn't just have twins, it is kind of a weird question to ask people who have just had a child. No one getting up 3 times a night really wants to think much about doing it all over again with another kid.

Mayberry's list of things not to ask got me thinking about the things Chris and I have been repeatedly asked since Ian and Mira were born three months ago.  A sampling:

Do twins run in your family? (They do now.)

Was it a surprise? (Yes, we were expecting puppies.)

Are the natural? (actually, we had them crafted from an advanced polymer.)

Are they identical? (Wow, seriously? One is a boy, the other a girl.)

People also ask us how we can tell them apart. Usually this question indicates not so much that the person is an idiot but that he or she has not actually looked at both kids. After the first week or two, when they both looked liked, well, babies, they have developed very distinct facial features. Take a peek:

12 Weeks
Hell, they were even color coded in this photo

She has these huge cheeks (much like Ada did) while he has a longer face. Plus, about everything else is different: their hairlines; eyes, eyebrows, amount of chub; and how easily they smile. In many ways Mira looks a lot like Ada did at this age, while Ian is already his own man, so to speak.

Ok, moving on.

Ian - 12 Weeks
Ian, not seeming to mind that his sister had been bopping him in the head for the past 20 minutes

Now that Ian and Mira are 12 weeks things are changing. Sadly for me, I don't mean that they are sleeping through the night or writing their first novels. Now that the summer is ending, Chris will be returning to work and I will be going solo.

And I am scared shitless.

I am so scared I am rethinking the wisdom of taking 6 months off from work. If I went back to work I'd be able to hand off my bundles of (crying, fussing, hungry, wet) joy to someone else while I talked about Important Things(tm) all day.  Then someone else could deal with the crying that will inevitably result from one adult caring for two small babies. I am really feeling at a loss about how this will work. Amazingly enough, neither Chris nor I have been alone with both babies for more than a few hours at a time. While this has been great in so many ways, it means that I have had a lot of time to build up a scary image of what the alone-with-twins future will bring. I am constantly asking myself: how do I do this? I know how to feed them together, and generally how to entertain them, but what do I do with them when they get tired? Will all naps be walks with the stroller? (Seriously, I need some advice. Sarah? Rebecca? Anyone?)

Oh, and all that hand-wringing over breastfeeding may be moot, as Mira is showing signs of rejecting my breasts. (how's that for solidarity among females?) It is too early to say for sure, but the past couple of days have included episodes of rejection of (and tears in response to proffered) milk-engorged breasts. I know mine don't rival Salma Hayek's, but still, there is milk there, for the taking.

Mira & Bop -12 weeks
Guess which twin takes very little convincing to make her laugh?

I need to keep staring at the above photo to remind myself that this has not all been drudgery and torturous sleeplessness (though it certainly has been the latter). The twins gave us one glorious night this month, which happened to be our anniversary. When Ada was an infant, I was determined to celebrate our anniversary. It seemed very important not to ignore "us" while we were so wrapped up in her. I saw that the jazz trio that had played at our wedding was giving a free outdoor concert in Washington Park, and we decided to pick up picnic supplies from a favorite restaurant so that we could sit on the grass enjoying the music. Somehow it did not occur to me that driving across town to the restaurant (at rush hour) might be a bit dicey with a colicky infant. She cried the whole time. As she did during the drive across the river to the park. However, I don't remember her crying during the concert. Maybe she did, but more likely I nursed her and we bounced her and everyone had a good time. Mostly I remember how stressful each red light of the trip was, as Ada's crying started the moment the car stopped.

This year we made no such plans. Chris and I know we love one another, and one year without a dinner out won't wreck us. Still, it was nice to get that little present of sleep from the babies. It has not happened again since, but it is good to know they care.


  1. Nora-You will be fine with the babies, and I'll make sure Chris doesn't linger around work drinking coffee (because we know how he loves his coffee).
    I'm sorry about the breast rejection, and about your fear.
    We love you guys!

  2. I have no idea advice as I have 3 kids, but none multiples and I have no idea how you do it. But, those pictures are absolutely adorable. And I can definitely see a difference between the two in that picture.

  3. I think you just do it one day at a time. I built up my first solo days in my head as well and they were never as bad as I thought they were going to be. I had great luck carrying Nate around in a carrier most days (all day, actually) since he cried so much. That kept the crying to a minimum as Alex was a relatively easy baby. But each duo is so different, and a lot of it is on the job training.

    You do become a ridiculous multi-tasker. I have many memories of rocking one baby in a bouncy seat with my foot while feeding the other a bottle. And when things got really bad, I hopped in the car with both of them and drove around or popped them in the stroller for a walk. Being outside seemed to help everyone.

    Hang in there!

  4. Advice? Hire help. I'm not kidding. Not for all day, but find a mother's helper, some kid you can pay $5/hr to be there while you are home for three hours so you can shower and do some laundry.

    People have no idea how difficult it is to have two newborns (or infants) at the same time and still trying to function on no sleep. Plus you have a whole bonus child!

    I can say this: It gets easier. In the meantime, find help. You won't be sorry.

  5. I've had almost 5 months off from work and I'm now chomping at the bit to go back...only 3 more weeks! About nap time, you have to get them to the point where they don't require any soothing from you to go to sleep. With Alex all I have to do is put him down on his stomach in either the crib or pack n' play and he will fuss a bit then go to sleep. Emily is a little tougher...she either naps in the swing or swaddled on her side in the pack n' play. I'm now putting them down before they start to get fussy. When they start yawning it's nap time!

    I have yet to receive the gift of a full nights sleep but Lizzie didn't do it until she was 8 months old so my expectations are low. I'm just happy for 5 hours.

    Solo with just the twins isn't that bad, in fact, I think it is easy compared to solo with the twins and my 2 year old. Now that is tough!

  6. I still can't believe "Are they identical?" Come ON!

    Good luck flying solo. I bet (I hope!) it will be easier in the real than the imagined.

  7. I have to second Sarah about hiring help. My sister in law who has twins managed it by having someone with her. Her mom was there all the time or one of her sisters. And I think just knowing that you will not be alone all day makes a huge difference. I hated those first six months of long days while Remodel Man was at work. (although, I would give anything to have the chance again...) Good luck! I'll be thinking of you!

  8. I feel I should have a lot to say. I'm sorry I don't besides... Sarah knows everything! I think that is officially like the 500th time I have acknowledged her omniscience online.

    Happy Anniversary!

    Man people are stupid and so transparently catty. Do they think milk production makes us stupid as a sow? I think Mira is looking out for you maybe.. and NOT looking out for them. (I am applying for a passport tonight.)

  9. I agree the twins look different, but it took me a few moments to see 'obvious' differences. If I didn't know they were girl and boy and I glanced at them quickly, I *might* be tempted to wonder if they were identical.

    Not that I would *ever* ask any of those questions above, yikes!

    good luck with the twins by yourself. I'm sure you'll fall into a routine, just like everyone else does, but it does feel daunting taking on additional children all by yourself for a while.