Pre-baby Weight

The scale finally says I’m back to my pre-baby weight. I gained a whopping 70 pounds during my pregnancy and it took me almost two years to lose it all. I remember feeling disappointed on the twins’ first birthday because I still hadn’t gotten back to my pre-baby weight. However, instead of dwelling on the extra pounds (like my pre-baby self would have), I chose to focus on what my body had accomplished 12 months earlier. I appreciate this body more than I used to.

As time goes on, I’ve realized that I can’t “get back” to my pre-baby body. That body doesn’t exist anymore. I look a lot different than I did 3 years ago, even at the same weight. I think most women would agree with me when I say that pregnancy permanently changes your body. It’s just different.

In a fun little switcheroo, the more weight I lose, the more readily my stretch marks show up. Although I wish they weren’t there, I don’t hate my stretch marks because I think pregnancy also changed my brain. I obviously still care about the number on the scale, but having kids gave me more perspective. Like a lot of people, I always want to lose 5 more pounds, but it’s no longer my first priority. It took pregnancy and childbirth for me to respect my body. Two people grew in there, you guys, and I don’t know what could be cooler than that.

I initially started writing this post because I was happy to have lost the weight, but I kept asking myself why I was really writing it. Was it to let other moms know that I did not “bounce back” in 8 weeks? Was it to pat myself on the back? Was it to convince myself that weight doesn’t matter? I think it’s a little of all of that, but, since having the twins, it’s been an unofficial goal of mine to be less fixated on my weight. I have two little girls watching me now, and I don’t want them to have body image issues, like so many (most?) girls and women do. I know that I can only control my own actions and that they will inevitably see magazines and watch television and be otherwise influenced every day with images of what they’re supposed to look like. I can’t control everything that they see and hear, but I hope to give them the skills to know what is real and what is important. Should be easy, right?

IDENTICAL

The Results Are In

Turns out, our twins are identical. Huh.

Since the day we discovered I was pregnant with two, every medical professional told us that our twins were fraternal. I believe the “there’s two in there!”ultrasound tech  immediately told us they were fraternal, but I was in shock so I don’t remember. Then my OB said there was a 99% chance they were fraternal. Later, our pediatrician, who we love, also said that our type of twins (known as “di di twins”) is “textbook fraternal.”

Our girls are diamniotic/dichorionic (aka “di di”) twins, which means they were in their own sacs and had their own placentas. It’s a common misconception that di di twins are always fraternal; however, the only way to rule out identical twins (that are the same sex and have the same blood types) is to do a DNA test. Identical twins can look different and fraternal twins can look alike. It is not possible to say with 100% certainty that same-sex twins are fraternal just by looking at them (but, honestly, if they look really different, they’re probably fraternal). Boy/girl twins cannot be identical…because one is a boy and one is a girl – no DNA test required there.

Right after we got home from that first ultrasound appointment, we started researching di di twins. We’ve suspected since that first Google sesh that there was more than a 1% chance our twins were identical. After our girls were born, we found out they had the same blood type, but we still didn’t get a DNA test right away. After wondering aloud for almost 2 years, we finally ordered a home DNA test. How cool is it that you can get your DNA tested for 100 bucks nowadays? Science!

After we got their results (the likelihood they’re identical is 107,987,712,983 to 1), I immediately started researching. I wanted to find out how common it is for di di twins to be identical.  To my surprise, I couldn’t find much good information. A Google search for “di di identical twins” returns a few articles, but mostly blog posts and forums. Blogs and first-person accounts are only good in an anecdotal sense. A search for monozygosity1 on Amazon returns a single book that is “currently unavailable.” It boggles my mind that it’s 2017 and I can’t find what I need on online. When’s the last time you Googled something and couldn’t find a single suitable result?  I even tried our local library! Although it’s a good library, it only has a couple of twin parenting books, and otherwise carries almost exclusively fiction on the topic of twins (i.e. The Midnight Twins or The Templeton Twins Have an Idea). All I want is a few scientific articles or a book written by a perinatologist or anything other than Sally K.’s personal experience with her di di twins turning out identical.

After some more poking around, the following link is the best, seemingly legit summary of twin facts I have found so far: http://www.twinstwice.com/twins.html

Why does all this matter? It really doesn’t, except that people ask me on a daily basis. As the twins grow up, I’m sure people will ask me less, but I imagine the twins will have to answer the “identical or fraternal?” question for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t bother me at all to field twin questions because I am still fascinated by the whole thing, too. What bothers me is the widespread misinformation that almost everyone has heard, and that even doctors seem to believe it. It would also be cool if our local library carried something other than tacky twin murder mysteries.

I would have bet money they were fraternal, so I’m glad I didn’t do that. According to my identical/fraternal Facebook poll, 59% of voters also agreed with me. So it looks like our twins have managed to surprise us again. I guess twins are funny like that.

 

1 Monozygotic = one egg (identical twins); Dizygotic = two eggs (non-identical a.k.a. fraternal)

Never Sleeping Again

I finally realized that I’m never going to sleep again. Not really, anyway. The twins are 21 months old, I get the recommended 8 (sometimes I even get 9) hours of sleep, and I’m still tired. The first 6 months of parenthood were relatively sleepless for us – my husband and I call it the “dark period” – and I feel like I’m still trying to claw my way out of the sleep deficit.

We did sleep training with the girls when they were 6 months old and, technically, it was successful. Every day, they go to bed at 7 p.m. and get up at about 6:30 a.m. Buuuuuuut, one of them still wakes up crying almost every night. They seem to take turns waking up, so although they are individually pretty good sleepers, when combined, not so great (wahhhhhh! Feel sorry for me!).

Per our sleep training guidelines, we let them cry for at least 5 minutes before checking on them…but that means I’m awake for at least 5 minutes in the middle of the night…and if I’m awake, I have to pee…and then it takes me a few more minutes to fall back to sleep…. It’s a whole thing.

Apparently, the technical definition of “sleeping through the night” for a baby is 5 consecutive hours of sleep. By that definition, my girls sleep through the night every night. Too bad that’s a terrible definition of sleeping through the night. Don’t get me wrong, the first time our babies slept for 5 hours straight, I woke up singing, “A Whole Neeeeeeeeeew World,” but eventually, everyone needs more than 5 hours in a row.

Let’s take last night, for example. The twins went to bed at 7 p.m. I was extra tired, so I went to bed at 8 (it was still light outside). I turned on American Crime and immediately fell asleep. At some point between midnight and 1 a.m. (Look at that! My little overachievers can sleep through the night by 12 a.m.) I woke to H’s crying. I checked on our video monitor to make sure she has her binky and seemed otherwise okay. I also decided that maybe it was cold in our house so I turned up the thermostat 2 degrees. Her crying tapered off and she was quiet after about 6 minutes. Sometime after that, I fell back to sleep. At about 5:50 a.m. I woke again to H’s crying (uh, by that time, she had slept through the night twice in one night). Since I have a personal boundary of not getting them out of bed before 6 a.m., I let her cry for a little while, and she actually fell back to sleep. But I was awake, even though my eyes were stuck shut.

I don’t know why the 15 minutes of wakefulness in the middle of the night is so tiring – I still got over 9 hours of rest last night. Some glorious nights, neither of them wakes up at all. I’m still tired, though.

This morning, with my eyes still closed, I finally accepted that I’m just going to be tired for forever. I know I’m not going to get more sleep when they’re no longer confined to a crib, or when they’re potty training, or when I go back to work full-time, or when I’m waiting for them to make curfew, or when I’m awake just worrying about them. I’m still going to be tired.

I realize this post sounds a little complain-y, but I’m not really complaining, just documenting my current state in hopes to look back fondly and laugh someday. It’s corny, but the tiredness is worth it.

Anyway, how much coffee is too much coffee? [Asking for a friend.]

Fave Travel Tricks

I joined the Mile High Club. Not the sex one – the one where you fly with a little kid on your lap!

My mom and I took the girls to Michigan so they could meet their Great-Grandma Miller. They also got to meet most of my mom’s family, which was so fun. [Huge shout out to my mom for making the trip with us. She chased the twins around busy airports, held sleeping babies, changed diapers, and helped entertain the girls for some pretty long flights. She was (and is) amazing.]

Kids less than two years old don’t have to have their own seats on the plane. It seems like a good deal, but I had anxiety for months about not getting them separate seats. At 20 months old, they don’t generally sit still, and they’re already dabbling in some terrible two behaviors, so it just didn’t seem practical to keep them on our laps for hours at a time. I was pretty much banking on our flights not being completely full so that we could have a whole row to ourselves. With a little luck, flying actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, thanks, in large part, to the smart advice that many of you gave me before we left!

Here were my favorite travel tricks:

  1.  Pretty much everyone recommended I pack snacks, snacks, and more snacks. We had so many snacks. Oh and Dum-dums! Not only did they help the kids pop their ears, but they also entertained them. Two little lollies kept M busy for a whole hour on one flight.
  2. Bring a zillion baby wipes. My girls would stick their dum-dums on the tray table, on the window, on my arm, basically everywhere…. I just let them do it because they were being quiet. I would wipe down our whole area (and my arms) every couple of minutes with baby wipes, so I was glad we had so many with us.
  3. Sit in the last row of the plane. We were on Southwest, and they have Family Boarding after the A group. We would go straight to the very last row and occupy the whole thing. With a twin on either side of the worst seat on the plane (the non-reclining, engine-roaring, bathroom-adjacent, middle seat) we could pretty much count on no one sitting in between us.  And, actually, if someone were crazy enough to sit in that seat, either my mom or I would have had to move because the only one lap child is allowed in a row (because there are only 4 Oxygen masks per row).
  4. Buy a round of drinks for people sitting close to you (this was a great suggestion, Nikki!). Most people didn’t accept the offer, but they seemed to appreciate it.
  5. Take plastic Easter eggs on the plane (This was my favorite idea, Laurel! Thanks!). The girls played with them, used them as snack containers, and opened them to find a surprise (the surprise was always a Goldfish). They’re lightweight and super cheap, so it wasn’t big deal when we lost one.

On the last leg of our trip, which was also the longest, we had several outstanding flight attendants who were great with the twins. I was so thankful for them!

Before the trip, my biggest worry about flying with 2 under 2 was disrupting other travellers’ flights (and getting scolded for it), but most people were very understanding (and probably just glad it wasn’t them in my shoes). It wasn’t exactly relaxing to travel with toddler twins, but it was definitely worth it. Thanks, everyone, for the awesome travel tips!

This one time, I got paid to write, and I hated it.

I wrote an article a couple of months ago called, “Yes, I’m a Stay-at-Home-Mom; No, it isn’t ‘The Hardest Job in the World.’” It was the first article I was ever paid to write. It’s also the reason I’ll never write about mom stuff anywhere besides this little blog ever again.

The article was originally published about 2 months ago on TheWeek.com and I was proud of it…at first. I naively thought it was going to be one of those articles with a snide title, but after you click on it, you see there is actually a thought process, an uncommon point of view, and, in the end, it turns out to be pretty sentimental.

And then…

People started commenting on it. Many of the comments were positive, but some were a little harsh, and a few expressed hurt feelings. I replied to every comment and apologized where appropriate. I was surprised that most people seemed to accept my apology.

When I wrote the article, I knew that not everyone would agree with my opinion. However, I didn’t realize how bad I would feel when strangers expressed distress at reading my article. I did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings and I regret that I made anyone sad, even total strangers, even for one second. I really am sorry.

After that, I decided that it wasn’t worth it. To me, it feels like a responsibility to know how my writing affects people, especially if I get paid for it. (Note: I have written a couple of tax/finance pieces since this first article, but those don’t usually hit anyone in the feels, so they seem safe). When all was said-and-done, I decided I wasn’t going to write (for payment) about polarizing parenting topics again. Everyone seemed to forget about the article after a couple days and I was relieved to be done with it.

And then…

A couple days ago, The Week randomly re-posted my article with a new, distasteful subheading of “Sorry, not sorry.” I did not approve that wording, but I surrendered all rights to the article when I “sold it” to The Week – they can promote it wherever and however they see fit.

Immediately after it was re-posted, I received mostly negative, and some pretty hateful, feedback from readers. Someone wanted to punch me in the face and called me a twat (a twat!). Others said they didn’t understand me at all. Several people said I couldn’t possibly have a clue yet because I haven’t been a mom long enough. Many people pointed out that I probably have lots of help and other conveniences that make my life easier.

One person told me that if I don’t find it difficult, I must not be doing it right. Maybe I’m not, but I didn’t realize that people could know that…. My kids don’t give me a quarterly performance review and let me know if they’re getting what they need.

Although I do better understand now why some people found the article offensive, I want to clarify one point. I was not trying to say that raising children is easy. Parenting is hard. Period. I expect it to get more difficult as the years go by, independent of whether I stay home or go back to work. As a parent, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. “Kids don’t come with instructions,” as the saying goes. I’m trying really hard, though, and I love my kids more than anything. I hope that counts.

So it seems I missed the mark. It was a poorly executed attempt to express my gratitude for getting to do this as my job. I thought I was letting others off the hook if they feel like they have to shower me with praise for being a SAHM.  I was trying to pay a compliment to working parents (which most parents are). I think instead of sounding like a compliment to working parents, it came off as an insult to stay-at-home parents. That’s my bad.

Practically speaking, I can’t begin every sentence with “personally,” or “in my experience,” or “in my opinion,” but I am only speaking from my own experiences. Perhaps that means I should have changed the title of the article to something more specific to me, such as, “I, personally, rather enjoy staying at home with my kids but it is completely okay if you don’t! No judgment!” or “Boring McBoring-face Article,” but I’m not sure anyone would have published that. Then again, not publishing it would have saved me some writer’s regret (not sure if that’s a real thing, but I have it).

As always, thank you for taking the time to visit my blog. I really am open to honest feedback, good or bad, but if you do comment or send me a message, please keep the personal insults to a minimum. Thanks 😉

Swimming Skills = Mom Skills

I grew up as a competitive swimmer. To say that swimming is a repetitive and sometimes monotonous sport is an understatement. When you swim for up to 4 hours a day, you have a lot of time to yourself. Even when you share a lane with 5 other people, it’s not like you can talk to each other during the workout. I think swimming suited my introverted nature well and, as weird as this sounds, I think it prepared me to be a mom.

All the moms that I know are busy people, but I have a theory that most of us only do a few tasks. We’re busy because repeat those tasks over and over and over. It reminds me of swimming laps in a pool….

There were a lot of times (and I mean a lot) that I didn’t feel like going to swim practice either, but I made myself do it.  Likewise, sometimes I really don’t feel like cutting a hot dog into 32 pieces, but I do it.  I get a little tired of changing diapers after I’ve done it a dozen times in a day, and I remember getting tired of counting to 200 yards after I’d done that a dozen times in one practice, too. I guess they call that discipline and I learned it from swimming.

I don’t mind being alone, either, which is helpful when I spend all day with 2 babies who can’t exactly carry a conversation yet. That okay though, I learned at a young age how to be alone with nothing but bubbles and my thoughts. I seriously can go days without seeing anyone besides the twins and my husband. I wonder if that’s normal?

One of the most useful skills I transferred from swimming to child rearing is hands-free nose plugging. I smell a lot of smells in a day and it’s nice to be able to turn off my nose and still have both hands available. Also, like waking up for morning practice, I rarely sleep in. I don’t even think I know how to sleep past 6:30 anymore.

I think I like being a mom a lot more than I liked being a swimmer, though. There’s generally more giggling when I’m hanging out with my twins than when I used to do a timed mile. Motherhood also doesn’t turn your hair green. I’ve heard that knowing how to swim is a “life skill” but now I know that swimming also teaches mom skills.  😉

 

A Promise to My Fellow 30-year Old Women

When you’re dating someone, people want to know when you’re getting engaged.  When you’re married, people frequently ask when you’re having kids.  When you have a baby, people are curious about when you’re having more.  When you have more than 2.4 kids, people wonder if you “know what causes that.”

I’m guilty of asking presumptuous questions, but I decided I’m not going to do it anymore. As your friend, I’m going to try and think of more creative questions for you1. I’m not going to be that friend that asks if you’re trying to have kids. When you’re with me, I want you to be able to relax and not have to justify your family plans (or lack thereof). Even if I’m curious, I promise not to be the 3rd person that day to ask you an extremely personal, possibly painful, question. If you’re like me, you feel like you have to formulate a strategic response, one that doesn’t make you a total liar, but also doesn’t paint too intimate a picture of your [sex] life (while trying not to be an asshole).

If we step back and actually think about how invasive it is to ask someone if they’re “trying” to have kids, I don’t think we’d ask it the way we do: in passing, just to make conversation or fill a silence. In some cases, these are not just irritating questions, they invoke real heartache. I have several friends who are struggling with infertility right now. I know five women who have had miscarriages in the last year. When you find yourself wondering what your 33 year-old girlfriend’s future looks like, think about what you’re seriously about to ask…and then don’t ask it.

I promise you, my fellow 20-something and 30-something year-old women, that I will not inquire about your reproductive status or plans unless specifically invited by you to discuss it.

If you want to talk to me about it, I know you will. There is no need for me to ask you every time I run into you at the grocery store. If you do decide to discuss your family plans with me, I will gladly listen. I will try not to say stupid, cliché stuff to you if you’re sad or struggling, and I will celebrate all your wins with you.

Maybe we should all promise this to each other.

I, personally, am not offended by the general “kids” question, but I tend to recoil at the “trying” question. It would be nice to only discuss it by my own choice. When people ask if we want more kids, I just politely say no. I usually don’t feel the need go into extreme detail. I don’t expect to never be asked about having more kids ever again, but my goal is to maybe take an iota of pressure off my friends and acquaintances that may be at that stage in their lives.

So if you’re reading this, consider it a contract. When we’re hanging out, I won’t bring it up. Like I said, I know you will talk to me if you want to. I promise to take all my cues from you, and I hope it makes me a better, more compassionate friend. ❤

 

1 I wasn’t kidding about finding more creative questions…. Have you read any good books lately? What was (or is) your favorite college class? Do you have any fun plans this summer? If animals could talk, which one would be the most annoying? Do you snore? How’s your job going? What “old person” things do you do? What makes you roll your eyes every time you hear it? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Do you go to church? What’s your least favorite question to be asked in a job interview? Do you watch trashy reality TV (because I do)? Want to discuss politics (I probably don’t, but we can)? Have you ever tried a greyhound cocktail? When is the last time you told a lie? Do you have pets? What’s the hardest you’ve ever worked? Apple or PC? Do you think collegiate athletes should be paid? What’s your favorite recipe right now? How are your parents doing? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? How do you think I should deal with my kids’ tantrums? What songs hit you with a wave of nostalgia every time you hear them? What’s your favorite season? Do you have a cure for hiccups? If someone narrated your life story, who would you want the narrator to be? Have you ever done Hot Yoga? Who’s your celebrity crush? What are your thoughts on carrying debt? Do you have a favorite charity? What’s your favorite movie? Have you heard any good jokes lately?

Yesterday

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

We didn’t sleep the night before because H was running a fever.  I called the doctor in the morning and made an appointment.  We stopped for gas on the way there, but when I got in the car after filling up, it wouldn’t start.

Of course the car couldn’t have broken down at home.  Of course my in-laws were out of town and of course the twins (and I) were extra grumpy from illness/lack of sleep.  Of course!

At first I couldn’t get ahold of anyone nearby who could possibly help me.  Also, no one at the gas station was willing to help.  I know people busy and everything but it still sucked.  I didn’t want to abandon my car in front of a pump and I wasn’t sure the cheap stroller I brought would make it all the way home.  I really thought H needed to see a doctor and I hate being late (or a no-show).  It was a lot.

Another helpful thing is that I cry when I’m super stressed.  The twins quickly lost patience, so if you’re counting, that’s three of us crying.  I wonder why no one wanted to help us? 😉

Luckily, a couple of guardian angels came to our rescue and I eventually got ahold of my husband who left work to come help.

Things started to look like they were turning around.  We are lucky to have friends in town and I was lucky to catch my husband at work when I did.  He left his car with me so I could take H to the doctor.  The twins took a nap and I rescheduled the doctor visit.

But there’s that thing that people always say – about bad stuff happening in threes?  I don’t want to believe it, but I kind of do.  That probably makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy….

The day seemed to be getting better, though.  The car issue turned out to be a pretty minor fix and we confirmed at the doctor that H didn’t have a UTI or anything else serious.  We just hung out at home the rest of the afternoon.

After we fed the twins dinner, the third thing in the bad-day-trifecta happened.  M (the healthy twin) walked up to me with something on her face.  I looked at her and thought, “where did she get avocad – IS THAT THROW UP?  DID YOU THROW UP?!”  Sure enough, there was green throw up on her face and hands.  My husband put her into the bath while I searched the house for a pile of barf.  I found it and cleaned it up.

After we put the twins to bed, we started making dinner for ourselves.  Also, a stiff drink.  I barely even flinched when the big clock hanging high on on fireplace crashed down and shattered all over the living room.

But then I started to wonder – was that the third thing?  The throw up incident wasn’t that bad, she somehow managed to get all the throw up on our waterproof floor, and she doesn’t seem sick.   So is the sliver of glass in my foot the third thing?  I feel certain that the first two things were H’s fever and the car breaking down.  I thought the throw up was the third, but maybe it wasn’t.

Or maybe the shattered clock is the first thing in another series of three?

Nah, I’m sure that’s not it….

 

 

Diaper Wrestling

Turns out you have to be pretty strong to be a parent. Like, physically strong. My twins have entered the diaper-change-resistance phase. They’re super busy these days, doing baby stuff, cruising around, climbing on stuff, and playing, so I guess they just really don’t appreciate my interrupting all of that for a fresh diaper. And, what the heck, have they been doing Crossfit or something? They are shockingly good at wrestling out of diaper changes. They twist and kick and – my personal favorite – push off the wall behind their changing table. I try to pin them down, but usually I end up just waiting until they tire out before taking off the dirty diaper.

The one thing they hate more than diaper changes is getting their boogers wiped off their faces. H will be standing across the room, make eye contact with me, and then go, “Mmmm nom nom yum yum,” while licking and smearing snot on her face. I laugh/shudder and secretly grab a Kleenex. Then I have to play it cool, hiding the tissue while I casually walk over to her and, at the last second, whip out the tissue and try to clean up the mess. She grabs at it and cries and whips her head around. Sometimes I end up making it all worse.

Kids are gross.

The other day I caught Millie dipping her binky in the toilet. That girl is like a honey badger – she does whatever and doesn’t care. [The toilet lid is now locked].

Kids are so, so gross.

But they’re also so, so cute. They have been super cuddly lately (when I’m not trying to wipe their butt or their face). I think they know it makes me melt when they lay their heads on my chest or walk up and give me a smack on the lips. In those moments, I would seriously give them anything they wanted. I don’t even care that I’m being manipulated because their cuddles are that awesome. Even when they get boogers on me or kick me in the face during diaper changes, I can’t think of anything better than a hug from my little twins.

Twin Language?

A few months ago, the twins started giving each other stuff. H, in particular, has discovered that if she gives M a toy, then M is much less likely to steal H’s toy. I can also give one baby 2 sippy cups and tell her to give one to her sister, and she does it (usually). Of course they grab stuff from each other a lot, but when they share, my heart explodes a little (in a good way).

My very favorite thing they do is find the other’s binky and then bring it to her. I think it is so cute, but just this morning, I realized how amazing it is. One of them makes her distinct binky whining noise, and her sister will find her pacifier and deliver it. I think this is the closest thing to a twin language that I’ve observed with my girls so far. At least in this specific instance, they are able to discern what the other needs and can meet that need.

They have always instinctively known how to bother the other, but I don’t have any of those awesome videos of them babbling to each other as 3-month olds that you see on YouTube. They have been able to make each other laugh hysterically since about 8 or 9 months, but I’ve never observed the unique baby noises that people refer to as twin language. For now, their twin language seems to be more unspoken, I guess. I often wonder what their relationship will be like as they get older. I imagine they’ll probably fight pretty passionately (they already have some pretty considerable wrestling matches) but that’s okay with me as long as they love each other more intensely. The twin bond really is so cool, one that I can never fully understand, but it’ll be pretty cool to watch it develop as they grow up.