Tag Archives: mom

6-11 months (4-9 months adjusted): globetrotting with babies

Its been awfully long since the last entry but I assure you, dear reader, I have been busy. Helluva.

This post has been written in bits over several months, and I have been dying to share the latest news. I have recapped a little to start with, since I frankly hardly remember what was happening last time I checked in.

So finally, voilà:

In mid-September last year (when the girls were effectively 1 month old) Chris went back to work and I was left alone with the girls. All. day. long. Its harder than it sounds, believe me. I thought I was hardcore and that I can do anything I put my mind to. But damn. As much as I love the little monkeys, weeks on end of caring for them is absolutely exhausting and draining. Many a day they refused to nap and I would end up with them in tears and me holding them just to get them to catch a few zzzs. By mid-October I was officially strung out and well on my way to crazy town. Some days I woke up feeling anxious knowing I was faced with the day of caring for them on my own, and that I would inevitably feel overwhelmed and unsure of myself. A few days I cried before Chris went to work and a few times he stayed home to help. On other occasions I called him & asked him to come and help because I felt I couldn’t cope and I was afraid. Sound like postpartum depression? Yup I reckon so. I decided that an emergency trip home to South Africa was immediately necessary. The kind folks at the SA embassy in Copenhagen issued emergency passports for the girls and we booked the tickets. I gritted my teeth and looked forward to easier times. I was so tired of being cooped up inside, the wind blowing, drizzle in the air and the days getting colder….I was tired of carrying them up & down the damn stairs if I mustered the energy to take them out walking. They would often wake mid-walk, not impressed, and I’d end up with 2 screaming babies & rushing home anyway.  Depressing days for sure. Chris and I were semi-malnourished due to lack of time for cooking. I forgot to mention the girls had this annoying habit of screaming for 3 hours every night before finally feeding and falling asleep. We read all the books, all the forums etc on this type of behavior but nothing really helped. So in the evenings we would each hold a baby and basically comfort them until the scream o’clock came to an end. Then I’d tandem feed them until they were asleep and then I would collapse for the night myself. Often without dinner, I’d just pass out lying in bed feeling as if I was vibrating, all my cells buzzing from tiredness, and often not sure I was still holding a baby or if I was alone in bed. Only to wake whenever they next were thirsty….

marshmallow babies
marshmallow babies

Lindy, an old friend of mine from uni to whom I’d been whining on a daily basis, took pity on me and offered to take me in for a few months in SA so that I could get some support with the girls. We flew to SA in mid-November (the flight was intense and long but actually not as terrible as you might imagine, airport scream o’clock notwithstanding) and moved in with Lindy, her husband and their 2.5 year old son. Chris left back to Copenhagen a week later (he had to work). Lindy was there for me every day helping me with the girls and constantly trying to decode their confusing signals and ease them into a more happy, routine lifestyle. Bath times were especially noisy, the girls would inevitably be overtired in the evening and although they loved the bath, they hated getting out of it, especially having their PJs put on (FYI, it’s months later & I still struggle to get them into jim jams). Then they would be super tired and annoyed, and I would irritate them further by trying to feed them before bed, which resulted in lots of screaming. Their newly found ability to notice eachother also caused one to start crying just because her sister was upset. We all sodliered on and things settled down a bit, but as with babies, the only thing you can be sure of is that they will always be changing, so you are always adjusting & learning too.

I was deeply depressed and really felt alone without Chris, but we texted & spoke often. Some advice to new moms out there: if you have a partner, there is no replacement for that person. He is an essential part of the deal and I felt robbed being there alone. Ok I wasn’t alone but no one could give me all the hands-on help I needed. It’s a lot to ask or expect. My brother was working full time, my mother-in-law came as often as she could but was working too & the lovely friend I was staying with had her own kid to take care of, house to manage & a job on top. I would find myself alone with the babies from 5.30 or 6 am onwards, and sometimes I was just sad. Partly hormonal sure, but also knowing my husband was missing out on seeing their daily changes and I still felt clueless and trapped. I missed our little family unit and I was all alone, at least in my head.

twice as cute & dressed by their loving uncle Belchazar
twice as cute & dressed by their loving uncle Belchazar

So I hired an experienced nanny to help me out. Rahab was amazing. Totally unflappable, she gave me confidence and taught me how to get the girls into a semi-routine, and also how to stay calm. Plus she would keep an eye on them while they napped so I could actually get out of the house on my own for a while.

Once I bought the newspaper and a latté and just read a few pages while sipping my coffee. Bliss.

The girls were growing & changing every day. They started rolling over and making lots of funny noises. They were curious but still a little scared of new things. I tried to swim with them but the water was too cold and much screaming ensued.

I moved in to my brother’s cottage after Christmas and he made it a little mommy den of comfort for me. He was still super busy, but I had the sun, a pool and a nice neighborhood so I could drown my sorrows in cafe latte (decaf, naturally). Some dear friends & family came over to visit and cuddle babies, and I started to heal. Ah the magic of sunshine.

ouma loving the babes
ouma loving the babes

A few more weeks went by and finally Chris came to SA and I felt like a huge weight was lifted. Finally I could share the responsibility with someone as invested as me. When a baby cried in the night I could actually roll over, nudge him & say ‘Your turn, champ!’. It was awesome (It’s still his turn).

So we actually were super happy and chilled for the remainder of our time in SA. The babies had gotten more used to being in a carseat so when we took them somewhere there was less of the screaming (theirs) and gnashing of teeth (mine). They started eating a great variety of solids, so I made them loads of puree (butternut; courgette; sweet potato; even some chicken&tomato). It was so fun as they started exploring the world of food. One gem: they enjoyed sucking on a slice of lemon, but made such funny faces when they realized it was sour! ha, silly babies 😉 They would breastfeed less often so I felt a little less  like a tethered boob (sorry but it’s true). It was a whole new world. We lived it up, eating countless avocados, knocking back frappucinos and getting some sun. I relaxed and even threw them a naming day party, which was a chance to celebrate their birth which we didn’t have time to do in June.

dad's a funny guy
dad’s a funny guy
naming day louis
naming day moments with their uncle
Olivia 6 months
Sophia 6 months

Finally February ended and we reluctantly came back to Copenhagen. Bags were jam-packed with all the baby clothes (I ♥  Cotton on) & paraphernalia you can imagine, jars of puree & nappies galore for the flight. It was hairy in the airport with all the luggage and carrying the babes (hot tip: NO you cannot gate check your enormous double stroller so you have to carry your baby! enjoy).

Getting to CPH was a real shock to my now sun-softened brain. It was sleeting when we arrived, with a nice bracing wind, clouds and no sun. geez. I had convinced myself that Spring would be in full swing. Ha!

Nope, it was freezing. It kinda still is….

Anyhow, after a week of hell as the babies adjusted to their new environment by refusing to sleep unless being held by a parent (yup) we all settled into our new nest. Chris had moved us into a ground floor apartment in Frederiksberg while I was in SA so it was all new to me too. It’s small but there is a patch of grass outside and it’s in a quiet area, so basically it’s perfect.We got into a nice little routine of playing with babies, walking Copenhagen to death so they could sleep their naps in the stroller, drinking lattés and generally living in a little baby/parent bubble. Olivia & Sophia were now rolling over both ways, started sitting up on their own briefly and were babbling all day, super cutely.

sophia laughs
Sophia having a giggle
happy days are here
happy days are here

It all started feeling kind of do-able. In mid-April they started going to daycare for a few hours a day to get used to it in preparation for my return to the lab at the end of the month. It was a strange process, made worse by our ignorance of how daycare (vuggestue) works in Denmark. But after 2 days of spending a few hours in daycare Sophia woke up vomiting. Then she had diarrhea. Then Olivia started vomiting. Then the diarrhea. Then Chris. Then Sophia again. Then on what was supposed to be my first day back at work, it was my turn. I spent the morning violently vomiting & decided to stay home. Then Sophia started again…..We were officially in hell. I was drowning in a pit of nauseated despair (flashes back to the epic nausea of my pregnancy) and a pile of laundry was taking over the tiny flat. The babies were miserable, feeling sick and whining to prove it. Chris was pale and thin (again). I felt like packing up and running South immediately. But I didn’t have the energy so instead I had a nap while Chris looked after the girls and after 4 days I felt somewhat less vile. The doc diagnosed rotavirus and said to keep an eye on signs for dehydration but there was nothing else she could do. She also said they wouldn’t get this virus again this year (woo hoo!) but there is another one they could get called norovirus (boo!).

so slippery mmmmm
so slippery mmmmm
Sophie grabs the noodle with both hands
Sophie grabs the noodle with both hands

After almost 3 weeks of puke, poo and general ickiness the girls went back to vuggestue, and I was back at work. It’s been weird giving up the time with them, but also good to dust off my old science brain cells and think coherent thoughts. Or at least try to. They seem to enjoy watching the bigger kids at vuggestue running around and playing with different toys, and the pedagog assures me they eat and sleep well enough, so I am trying not to worry. I have enjoyed the luxury of quietly thinking about what experiments to do and making plans, sowing seeds and getting my hands dirty with soil again. I am enjoying the scheduling and imagining what results will come next, but I also feel like I am working in a different way. I can’t just think, ‘oh well I’ll come & do that on Saturday’ so I am quite strict when I do my planning about what I can realistically achieve in a day or in a week. I don’t just set up hasty experiments without first thinking how long it will take & what I will get out of it. I know I should have always done that, but sometimes I would just be curious and do something for the hell of it…I also appreciate the time with the girls more, and it has been awesome as they are becoming more and more like real little people! That sounds weird but you know what I mean. They also sleep ALL NIGHT most of the time, so I feel more human myself*. They sit in their high chairs (Danish design of course;) eat food, try to dish up with their little baby spoons & sometimes even get food in their mouths. Sometimes they just flick the food off the spoon and I am filled with dread as I feverishly calculate the trajectory of said food (sometimes it ends up in my hair, or theirs). They spread it on the table, wipe it on their highchairs, drop it on the floor. It is mayhem. But what joy! And they are mad for summer strawberries. They get excited and kick their legs when they see the box in the kitchen. They have eaten loads of stuff (bread, yoghurt, oats, tomatoes, cream cheese, mozzarella, pasta, eggs, chicken, salmon, cous cous, rice, apples, pears, nectarines, grapes, bananas, kiwi, blueberries, rice cakes, pancakes). So far they don’t like meat much and they love fruit. Most of their food ends up on their clothes/hands/the floor, but they are exploring with vigor, as you would expect from my progeny. They are crawling and starting to stand and pull up. This is a new scary phase, when combined with their continued tendency to put everything they find in their mouths…but I laugh every day. This morning Sophia followed me to my bedroom when I went to get dressed. She peeked at me from around the corner and squealed with delight when she found me. Then she accelerated towards me laughing and smiling, and I must say it made my day.

*love*
*love*

*For anyone who follows this blog and has an interest, you may recall I have always been obsessed with 1. reading books and googling baby stuff, 2. baby sleep. In the last months I realized that googling just makes me nervous, most of the time, so I’m trying not to over-research; 2. my babies were waking up a lot, and I thought they needed my help to replace thier pacifiers. Turns out they could replace it themselves, and they finally slept through the night when I left them to cry for a while (checking in every 10 mins). It was my husband’s idea to see if they could sleep without our constant help & it has been a lifesaver


Then & now:

3 months:

crying team
crying team

sleeping:

  • 4 naps a day
  • waking 2-4 times a night

eating:

  • breastfeeding every 2.5 hours

skills:

  • smiling
  • being cute
  • swatting a toy
  • crying in chorus

9 months:

park life
park life

sleeping:

  • 2 naps a day
  • sleep at night

eating:

  • breastfeed once a day, bottles 3 times (hold their own bottles)
  • eat loads of stuff
  • learning to feed themselves

skills:

  • crawling
  • starting to pull up and stand
  • grabbing things with their fingers (pincer grip)
  • saying many sounds (bababa, dadada, mamama, dedede etc)
  • pointing
  • blowing bubbles in water
  • etc.

So to all my fellow twin moms out there, take heart, it really does get better 🙂

♥ All my love & thanks to Lindy for saving my life many times over in the last year ♥

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Babies: 6 weeks post due date

So in a nutshell since the last blog post, the boobs won over tube 😉

The breastfeeding was hell at first, I thought for sure I would either go insane or run away or switch to formula. But luckily my pig pigheadedness won out in the end & I persevered. That and a whole lot of chocolate. Chris just kept it coming, he didn’t even give me that ‘don’t you think you’ve had enough, the box is almost empty’ look.  It has been so hard that I can’t believe the number of crazy women out there that breastfeed. Especially premature twins. It’s a total mission. So respect to you ladies. But yeah, we are saving some cash on the formula, and the cool thing is, boobs are more portable so there’s that. Not that I go anywhere much, but that will come.

This post has been delayed by the fact that I have had zero spare time for the past month. The girls are now just over 6 weeks old and growing fast. A few weeks back Chris went back to work, right around the time that the girls started to wake up and look around them with fascination. That’s great, they should learn and develop and grow. But this comes with the joys of little girls who get big staring eyes who are overtired because silly mommy has no clue what a tired baby looks like. The books say they shouldn’t be awake for more than an hour, but every time I manage to wait too long to settle them down for a nap, and end up with screaming girls who refuse to sleep! So mostly I ended up frantically calming them down, and have often snuggled them both to sleep (see pic below) and tried not to move a muscle for fear of waking them up and the crying to continue. A few times I was the one crying 😉

Nap time ala mama
Livi: Nap time ala mama

 

Then I reckoned, screw that. I decided to take them out for a walk in the stroller and cheat one nap a day that way. Of course that entails some serious planning. I put one baby in a baby bjorn, a backpack with nappy stuff on my back, and the other baby in the carry cot for the stroller. Then I mission down the 4 flights of stairs and sometimes transfer baby bjorn baby to the stroller, sometimes just keep wearing her. Then I walk down to Jægersborggade and get a latte from the coffee collective, a kanel snegl from Meyers bakery & hit the Assistens Kirkegård for a long walk. And pray they don’t wake up!

Ahhhhhh
Ahhhhhh (don’t judge ‘mkay)

 

Sounds pretty good no? Ja well it’s the only time I get out of the flat into the (increasingly) fresh air, so I see it as a necessity. Nonetheless there are still 4 naps I still need to pull off at home with no kanel snegle in sight. I figured out that I would start chillaxing them with a bit of rocking & shushing around 45-50 minutes and put them into the stroller carry cot for naps. This makes sense because when they eventually go to daycare (vuggestue) they will sleep in a stroller outside in the cold, as per the Danish tradition. I can’t leave them outside in the stroller since I can’t carry them up & down the aforementioned and much bemoaned 4 flights of stairs in the carry cots, so it’s indoor naps for now.

Also, their awake time is apparently a little shorter than the books would have you believe. Which brings me to another digression: books mention all the cute & fun activities one can do with your new baby. When? After a clean nappy & a good feed my girls are usually pretty wasted. Sometimes we can squeeze in some tummy time & maybe some face cleaning. Usually when I go crazy with the high contrast pictures and toys they end up with the googly eyes and it takes an hour to get them to sleep!

baby deer in the headlights look
baby ‘deer in the headlights’ look (aka: make me fall sleep before I lose my shit, woman)

They seem to sleep better in the carry cot than in the crib during the day, cos it has this handy hood making it nice & dark & cosy for them. So I managed to get them all their naps since yesterday using my new carry cotTM method (patent pending). In a new record, they managed a 2-hour nap once yesterday, which was so nice for me. I’m not used to having so much time to myself. I had my first hot cup of tea in ages. I tried to relax, but was basically just wondering when I would hear the first cry! I have no idea how to stretch them to 3 hours between feeding (usually its 2-2.5 hours during the day), since they don’t sleep long enough for that to happen……Also I hate and detest anyone who can get their 6-week-old baby to sleep by putting them down drowsy but awake. I have tried this only to get pained screaming from the girls, followed by me ending up rocking & shushing them to sleep anyway….I hope I can get this right when they are a little older, and capable of ‘self-soothing’, since I do want them to learn how to go to sleep on their own. Plus my arms were really tired after a week of rocking these suckers for several minutes several times a day. But for now it’s survival mode & I will do whatever it takes to save them from themselves!!

I have been intermittently (usually while breastfeeding in the evening when the girls enjoy an hour-long suck-fest each-  “cluster feeding”; note that I may slightly be a human pacifier) reading some books on twins, babies, and sleep. It seems like all parents are gagging for some shut-eye. And I now I totally get that. Chris has been giving the girls a bottle of expressed breast milk at midnight, so usually I hit the sack around 8-ish, and he wakes me at 3-4 am for the next feed. Before we instituted that, at the strong suggestion of my dear friend (and personal hero& supermom Lindy), I was close to breaking point. Dealing with these critters all day after fragments of sleep was wearing me down.

Anyway, so it’s not too bad but I am keen on encouraging them to sleep well and without any parent crutches when they are 3-4 months old & have the neurological capacity for that stuff (i.e. supposedly they develop the ability to ‘self-soothe’). So to be prepared I’ve done some research. And it would seem that the sleep coaches out here are cashing in on sleep-deprived folks desperate for some predictability in their lives. I was all excited by the blurb of one book promising to get your twins on a schedule and give you more spare time and inner calm etc.

“Do you have baby vomit in your hair because you don’t have time to shower? (Sometimes!) Do you never know when your baby is going to be hungry or take a nap? (All the time & never without help, respectively!) Then we have the solution for you in our fancy Baby SchedulingTM program”. Awesome! Sign me up!!

Sadly when I read it I couldn’t figure out how in hell you pull that off with an actual live kick-ass baby. Or maybe my babies are particularly ass-kicking. They say you should first make them wait 3 hours between feedings. Ha, well you clearly haven’t met my ravenous girls. Their M.O. is to chow down heartily every 2-2,5 hours like it’s the first time they ever saw a boob. Then I wrangle them to nap for 45 mins (rarely 1,5-2 hours) and it’s dinner time again! They are 4,5kg now roughly, so I don’t know if that’s normal, or if they could go longer between meals but just love hanging out at the boob. The key issue I see is firstly that these baby whispering cowboys who manage to stretch their babies between meals are using pacifiers to subdue the babies, and if try anything like that my girls look at me weirdly, lick the pacifier, gag when I try to push it in, and then drop it out. On the occasion when they have sucked it for a while, it was only a few minutes and they never fell asleep with it. So yeah. Twins that won’t take a pacifier makes for a busy mom I guess. I would appreciate some opinions from the pros on this one – is it better that they never take one or should I keep trying??

Milk is my favorite!
Sophie: Milk is my favorite!

Anyhoo, the scheduling crazy people say that you should feed them every 3 hours during the day, always put them down drowsy but awake (yeah right) and wake them up if they fall asleep while nursing. Oh and if they cry in the crib you are supposed to pick them up & put them down a lot but not rock them to sleep….OK so its complicated. So at this stage I’m just doing all the ‘wrong’ things, and hope to do the right things when they are a bit older and hopefully I’m better at this ‘mom’ gig.

So that’s my life. Breastfeeding is going a little easier, though it’s still challenging. The girls still occasionally choke and cough when the let-down is forceful (see resultant milk mustache in pic), especially first thing in the morning. Middle of the night (4am) feedings are tricky when they’re both crying & I’m so sleepy it’s hard to coordinate the tandem feed. But in general they are better at waiting their turn if tandem isn’t working out that day, and there is less burping & spitting up than before. I’m a little jealous of those formula feeding peeps that can wait 4 hours between feeds, but I know in my gut that there is no such thing as an easy answer when it comes to babies. So I am planning to keep the boobs on the table, so to speak (they may be so pendulous at this point as to hang under the table…) and hope that by the time the girls are 3 months it’ll be easy as pie.

do I have something on my face?
do I have something on my face?

The girls are also much more social these days. Both Olivia & Sophia are smiling cutely, and cooing away at me when they are (briefly) awake. I am so keen to see them developing, it’s really cute as they discover the world around them. These days I can see that they observe things for a long time & with greater interest than before. They are also valiantly trying to find their hands for a good old suck. They are also more opinionated. Gone are the days when they calmly let us dry them after a bath. Nope. They are really not keen on the bath to air transition, despite trying to make it as fast as possible and keep them warm. They get pretty worked up about it, protesting pretty much the whole time. So much for the calming bath before bed routine, but hopefully they’ll get used to it with time. And they kind of ‘talk’ to me also. Or maybe I’m just imagining it, I am deprived of social interaction during the week. But they make cute gurgly noises and smile and seem to express themselves quite well. It’s not surprising given what a talker mom is, I converse with them all day long, telling them weird things, like what I’m reading, or just generally asking them silly questions (“Should we go to the Maldives or Aspen for our vacation this year girls?” ha ha). We have fun together, and it’s exhausting.

But their smiles first thing in the morning are enough to make my day, and I love feeling their plump little cheeks against mine and their sweet milky breath as I pick them up and hold them close ♥ ♥

step into my office...
Sophie: step into my office…
'sup
‘sup Pops