32 years ago, I came home from the hospital with my mom on Mother’s Day.
The only reminder I have of that day is a handmade Mother’s Day plate that was dated 1983, which one of my sisters made for my Mom. Each time I saw it, I pictured myself as a shriveled-face baby coming home for the first time.
Other than this memory, all of my Mother’s Days have been spent celebrating the moms in my life, usually with flowers and brunch.
But this year, it means something very different to me. This year, I’ll be able to celebrate my wife and all of the work she’s done to make our kids the happiest babies I’ve ever seen.
Her personality has been duplicated in the form of two nine month old babies, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. She spends every waking (and sleeping) second with them. She talks to them all day, engages them with hundreds of toys, silly faces and silly songs, and has somehow created a busy routine for themselves to follow each day.
She’s sacrificed so much of herself for all of us, but she loves every second of it.
Being a parent in our house is an exhausting job, but she makes it look easy. And she looks good while doing it.
There is no way to explain how great she is, and there is no way that I could ever thank her enough, but I’m going to try today!
The first full week of April offered plenty of time to stay at home with Mom and our twins, thanks to good ol’ Spring Break.
It was sorely needed too, because the first month of coaching Spring Track has been exhausting.
Before my track season began, I would come home right after school, just in time for all of us to hang out on the floor for a few hours, while Mom squeezed in her first “uninterrupted” pump of the day. It was the best part of the day.
I would be debriefed on the funny things that happened that day, how well the babies ate, what happened at Mom’s Group, and other important matters of business. We would have a little snack together and unwind from a long day.
But now it’s different. By the time I get home each night, my interaction with the babies is limited to giving them baths and putting them to sleep for the night. Then Mom and I will hurry and have dinner, while she pumps, of course, and she’ll give me the play by play on what happened while I was gone for 13 hours.
This well-timed Spring Break allowed me to do all of the things I’ve missed. And I had no idea just how much I was missing, so here’s a little update.
Scout Finoula seems to finally be coming around to this radical idea of eating foods that do not come from a bottle. Her champion-eater brother has been a spoon feeding whiz, but because of her tongue-tie, she has had major issues. With some suggestions from a speech pathologist friend, we’ve begun using some OT techniques to make her more receptive to the idea of eating from a spoon.
Each feeding begins with a little “warm-up”. We have a little tool that looks like a spoon, but with no spoon on the end. It’s just a handle with little rubber nubs on the end. We use the tool to wake up her mouth by rubbing it on her lips, tongue, and the insides of her cheeks. When she’s all primed and ready, we try the food.
And guess what? She likes it! She’s been eating well and we’re so proud of her!
Other than this, our little 8-month old daughter sits up like a pro, talks with a raspy monster-voice at times, and loves sitting on Dad’s shoulders. She’s quiet and has a pensive face most of the time, like she’s constantly judging us. And she waves at us whenever we enter the room, which never gets old.
Then there’s Griffin. Our madman son. He’s still a ball of energy and likes to scream. He has a smile for everyone he meets and he’s the clear crowd favorite when we go out. Why waste your time smiling at a quiet girl who stares right through you, when you can get a huge smile and leg-kick from the boy-twin?
He’s a great eater and loves to watch the dogs. He spends most of his time sitting on the floor, patiently waiting for a dog to come sit by him so he can pet them and poke their ears with his little fingers. He bangs his pacifier on his crib rails when he’s ready to get out of bed, and he loves his Mama above everything else. I’ve also made the bold claim that he’ll be crawling in one month.
Both babies only wear their corrective helmets at bed time and they still enjoy seeing Mom and Dad sing silly songs. They sleep for 5-6 hours straight, and we love it.
Our twins had their first verbal exchange too! While eating dinner in their highchairs, Griffin looked at Scout and made a fart noise with his mouth. She smiled at him, and fart-noised back. He laughed and they exchanged fart noises for the rest of mealtime. Their previous interactions had been limited to Griffin taking Scout’s binky whenever she was in reach.
Although it was way too fast, Spring Break was just the thing I needed. It reminded me how lucky I am to have two babies and an awesome wife.
Our twins began wearing their helmets a few weeks ago and I’m happy to say that things are going really well.
As mentioned previously, the babies needed helmets to fix their flat heads and to prevent any issues from creeping up later in life, like vision, nasal, or dental issues. Differences in the shape of their heads were noticed almost immediately, but we still have three months to go.
It was weird at first, but for reasons that we fully expected. Mostly staring.
Even though it’s 2015, and it’s becoming more common to see babies with helmets, there are a ton of people who have never seen a kid wear this kind of helmet. Or maybe they have, but they just can’t stop staring. We fully expected stares, gaping mouths, and whispers about the two goofs in the baby carriers wearing helmets, but it was easier to expect than to actually deal with.
Mom has witnessed it more than me, and to my surprise, she hasn’t yelled at a single person yet. She really is softening up! Sometimes she’ll return the stare, but that’s what any mother would do, right?
My favorite responses come from kids. They’re innocent and curious and they have zero filter. I can’t help but crack up when kids point and say “haha, them babies are wearing helmets!” It’s even better when they come right out and ask why the babies are wearing helmets, even though when I explain that they have flat heads, the kids think of the dude from minecraft.
The whole idea of helmets became much easier when we found out about Bling Your Band. It’s a great site that creates decals for baby helmets. Mom shared the site with me while I was at work and I couldn’t stop looking through all of the designs they had. And if you want something special, they have artists on hand to create custom designs! They also have a giant picture gallery that shows hundreds of other babies with their sweet helmet bling.
Honestly, if people are going to stare, let’s give them something to stare at. The designers for Bling Your Band were well aware of people gawking at kids who have to wear a helmet, and they have the perfect answer: acknowledge those who stare.
They’ve come up with clever decals that say:
“The Longer U Stare, The Cuter I Get”
“Keep looking… I know I’m cute”
“Whoo R U Staring at?” (with accompanying owls, of course)
And then there are several other funny designs that say things like “Under Construction”, “Just Fixin my Flat”, and “You should see the other guy”.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?
And that’s exactly what we did. Our kids have to wear helmets. 23 hours each day. For four months. We decided to make the most of it, so we got them some bling.
Griffin, the badass that he is, is no longer wearing a baby helmet. He is now sporting the helmet of a fighter pilot.
Scout, that little sweetheart (despite her cold, cold stares) has a happy helmet that’s loaded with rainbows, cupcakes, flowers, and more.
It’s the final word in baby fashion, if you ask me.
The decals were super easy to put on, and we put a coat of Mod Podge on the helmets to help protect the decals. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results. The helmets look awesome, and if the babies could thank us, they would. And I’m sure they’ll be sending a thank-you note to Bling Your Band in the next few days.
We made the most of an unfortunate situation. Actually, we embraced it.
The kids’ heads are quickly rounding out. The before-and-after photos are striking, even though they’ve only been wearing the helmets for a few weeks. They don’t mind wearing the helmets at all. I don’t think they know they’re even wearing them.
Everyone at the grocery store sure knows that the babies are wearing helmets. But now, I’m okay with the staring.
A few weeks ago, Mom and I made the decision to move the babies up to their room. It’s time to experiment with sleep training twins.
You know the room I speak of. It’s that special place that we planned and arranged just for them, where they haven’t even spent more than five minutes.
It’s been our favorite topic to argue about for the past few weeks. Each argument usually begins with me saying something dumb like, “Well, I read online that we should…”, which instantly sets her off. But Mom finally agreed to give it a shot. Whenever my wife suddenly gives in and lets me have my way, an alarm goes off in my head. The alarm signals a simple trap, which is usually followed by failure in whatever I had been suggesting and arguing about. But I had to go for it.
The main reason it has taken so long for us to move the babies up to the nursery and let them sleep in their cribs, is the fact that they’re still waking up every three hours to eat. I’ve been pushing for the cry-it-out method, which might be the cruelest endeavor I have ever suggested. I’d be pretty pissed if anyone made me cry out anything.
But my logic tells me that they’ll exhaust themselves by shouting and crying, fall asleep, cry and scream again when they’re hungry, fall asleep, and then when we’re all good and rested, they’ll wake up hungry and eat breakfast. My logic is not based on any professional experience of sleep training twins and Mom reminds me of this whenever I bring it up.
So we gave it a shot.
Friday: We brought the babies up to the dark nursery and realized that we didn’t have the noise machine. How could they sleep in a new environment without the familiar sound of the ocean playing in the background? Let’s try again tomorrow.
Saturday: We brought the babies up to the dark nursery, turned on the sound machine, and put the babies in their cribs. Scout’s leg immediately shot through the crib’s bars. Crap. Bumpers. We still haven’t put them on the cribs. Let’s try again tomorrow. No, tomorrow is a school night. Let’s try again next weekend.
The babies began wearing their helmets, which they will wear for 23 hours per day. What if they don’t sleep well because of the helmets? We should let them get used to wearing helmets while they sleep and try again next weekend, right? Right. So we get a free pass for this weekend.
But you see, that next weekend, the babies weren’t acting like themselves because of teething (which we blame for everything). Another free pass this weekend? You know it.
At their six month appointment the following week, the doctor told us that we should do a tapered cry-it-out method in order to eliminate one of their night feedings. We decided to cut out the feeding that took place around midnight. So when they cry around midnight, we should let them cry for ten minutes, then feed. The next night, we should give them 20 minutes, gradually increasing the time until they just sleep through that feeding.
It felt good to have a doctor-approved plan, but our questions for the doctor only came to mind when we left her office.
What happens when they wake up at 1am? Do we feed them?
We have two babies, which means two schedules. Do we use the cry-it-out method for both and their separate schedules? Because in the past, we’ve fed both babies once one baby begins crying to be fed.
But we’ve started.
Despite teething, a recent bout of colds, and an ear infection, our boogie-faced babies are doing just fine.
I usually wake up (I think I do) when Griffin begins crying for his midnight feeding. I tell Mom that I’m setting my phone’s timer for 20 minutes so we know when to feed him. Then she tells me that he’s been crying for ten minutes already. She’ll wake me up again 30 seconds later (ten minutes later) and we feed both babies.
We’re currently sleeping in the middle of the nursery, on two twin mattresses pushed together, just a few feet away from both cribs. Not the ideal situation, but we’ve got to start somewhere. The next phase, which we haven’t yelled at each other about yet, is when Mom and I will move across the hall to the other bedroom.
No one in our house is sleeping more for than four consecutive hours, other than the dogs, of course, but I think we’re on the right track. If we’re able to sleep for six straight hours by the middle of April, then I will consider myself a sleep-training master, and I will give advice to every red-eyed, frustrated, sleep-deprived sucker out there, whether they’ve asked for my advice or not.