And (w)here's the other one

I love you too. Now, go jump on your dad.

What’s the plan, Momma?

Before I became a parent (and even still to a certain extent), I would think about and tirelessly plan out all the things that I would do with my kids and all the grand memories that we would create together. Every event, big or small, was going to be some special thing they would remember forever. Whether it was going outside to explore nature or their first birthday, I wanted to create the perfect situation. I wanted to be an involved parent: a participating parent. I wanted to play and teach and create and cultivate their critical minds in a way no one else could. I would put all my thoughts and ideas into effect, expecting to have the most incredible experience with my boys: watching them learn and grow as every piece of my plans fell into place flawlessly. The only thing is, nothing, when you’re dealing with kids, ever goes according to plan. I would get my hopes so high, only to fall short on nearly all accounts. It was like lighting a mile long fuse and waiting for some huge explosion only to see a tiny spark. It could be really disheartening, to say the least.
For their first birthday, I wanted everything to be perfect, because of course they were going to remember every moment of the day for their entire lives. I, thanks to my aunt, was able to get two specialty cakes made for the twins (a robot for Oliver and a monster for Bennett) that also came with their very own smash cakes. Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa, the room was decorated with banners and balloons and streamers. We had food and drinks and family and friends and I was running around with a fair amount of stress making sure that everything was going according to plan. In the end, they slept through the majority of the party, and when they woke up, they were pretty disinterested in most everything, especially the cakes. Their biggest enjoyment was the wrapping paper, but boy did that spark some real fun in their minds.
A few months back, I was looking online to find some of those puzzle piece floor mats with the alphabet on them to put in the boys’ room. I thought, “How cool. They’ll be able to play on something soft and easy to clean, and they can learn their letter at the same time.” Andrew found one on Woot.com (plug party) for cheap so we got it. I was pretty excited to put it all together and show the boys the new addition to their room. They immediately sat down on it (all smiles) and began playing with some of their toys. That floor lasted all of about 16 ½ seconds before the entire thing was dismantles and multiple pieces became lost forever. All it took was Oliver seeing a small piece of the puzzle not completely locked in place, and he suddenly became a reverse engineer. The remaining letter and pieces (aside from the letter R, which resides in the backyard) are either under Bennett’s bed or behind their dresser for safe keeping.
I am always looking for something to do with the boys that is going to cause them to think but also going to be fun. I got bubbles for them. Bubble! Awesome. They could chase them as they floated and learn about wind and all sorts of really cool stuff. Nope. The first few times were a complete bust, with them really only wanting to run around in the sun and play with flowers. Their monster bowling. That was a gutter ball, to say the least. But Ollie sure can throw a ball.
This year was their second Halloween, and we were hoping that it was going to be better than their first (like their first birthday, they slept through their first night of trick or treating, despite all the effort that I put into making their double stroller into a tank). I really wanted to take them to the pumpkin patch. I wanted them to have that quintessential Halloween experience of stepping into a field of pumpkins and picking out the one pumpkin that was just for them. Andrew and I had it all planned. We were going to take the boys to the pumpkin patch on Herndon and Villa (the one that has been there for my entire life), and where we would pick out pumpkins and take picture and have the time of our lives. One little thing… There is no longer a pumpkin patch on Herndon and Villa. Nor is there one on Herndon and Fowler, where there had been one for the last several years. In fact, we drove around for over an hour trying to find something that even remotely resembled a pumpkin patch. We checked Google. Everything on there was a lie. Ultimately, we found one the next town over. But, apparently pumpkin patches are not only few and far in between these days, but they are also under huge circus tents and not in a field (either real or staged) at all. But, hey, it was a pumpkin patch, nonetheless.
Once parked, we had to wake the boys, because by this time, they were knocked out cold in the backseat. This was not fun.
After walking around the parking lot for a few minutes, we headed over to the big white tent to pick out our family pumpkins. Bennett was not at all impressed. He was grumpy and would only walk if he was holding Daddy’s hand. Oliver was a little more independent, walking ahead of us as he usually does, but was not terribly interested either way. We walked around for a bit, trying to grow their excitement, telling them all about pumpkins and hay and all the other cool things under the tent. We encouraged them to touch the pumpkins and feel the differences in their skin: the smooth ones, the ones with ridges, and even the ones covered in warts. We talked about colors and they began to get into it. Oliver, at one point, got really excited, pointing to something behind me with overwhelming enthusiasm, and I was beginning to feel really good about the fun he was starting to have, but when I turned to see what all the commotion was about, I realized there was a McDonalds across the street.
Bennett warmed up to the experience, finding a wagon, trying to fill it with every pumpkin he could lift. The both of them pushed and pulled that wagon around the whole lot, laughing and fighting and having a great time. We got our pictures and, ultimately, the outing was a success, even if totally not according to plan. We had picked out our three pumpkins and proceeded to the register to pay where I was nearly sent into cardiac arrest. $34.00! Three pumpkin. $34.00. Insanity. I could have gotten three pumpkin of the same size from work for $7.99. I guess you really do pay for the experience.
Carving the pumpkins was something that I was very much looking forward to. I wanted them to get in there and get their hand all up in the pumpkin guts, getting dirty and gross like little boys should. I wanted them to experiment and feel different textures. Did this happen according to plan? Nope. They would only touch to the guts with a stick or a fork (Bennett even took a bite, but immediately regretted that idea). They did however really like throwing the pumpkin lids on the ground. That seemed to be a lot of fun. We separated the pumpkin seed to be cooked later, which they dumped out countless times. They lost interest in the pumpkin rather quickly, leaving me to finish the carving alone.
After spending way too much time and money on pumpkins, I more than ever wanted to stick to our little tradition (if you can call it that if it’s only been one year) of making our Halloween costumes. I had come up with the idea to go as a Lego block to my work Halloween event, so I figures we could all be Legos. I worked really hard on making those five costumes (five because one was eaten by my in-laws’ dog. Thanks Bo). I cut and fit and painted. I wanted them to be perfect. It was also cheap and creative and I liked that. Spending $8.00 on four costumes was definitely a win. But getting the boys to actually wear them… not so much a win.
After a dramatic tantrum, we finally got Bennett to wear his blue block costume, and he really embraced it after a while. It was like a coat of armor. He was running around, laughing and strutting his stuff because he knew he was cute. Oliver on the other hand fought us tooth and nail about wearing that god forsaken orange box, throwing himself on the ground and screaming at the top of his lungs anytime we tried to put it on him. We walked around the neighborhood for a while just enjoying the evening weather and family time. We were a family of three Legos and dog walking (since Oliver’s only interest was walking Turbo, we decided that his new costume was just employed toddler). Everyone whom we passed loved the costumes and vowed to steal them from us next year. We had a really good time, and we didn’t even go trick or treating. We just walked.
In the back of my head, I knew from the beginning that the odds were definitely against us with regards to the costume idea. We actually didn’t expect either of them to wear it, but I made them anyway. I wanted them to have something fun for Halloween, and in the remote possibility that they actually remember this day later on in life, I want them to remember how much we really tried to make it something special. Nothing went according to plan at all, but that’s ok. They had fun. They laughed. They fell down and got back up. They saw things and people they never saw before. They used the Lego costumes as toy houses. They enjoyed the night just being with their family and friends and that’s all I could really ever ask for.
Do I still want to make things extra special for my boys? Absolutely. But my grandiose ideas of what is special isn’t the only way to make a positive impact on their lives. They are constantly watching and learning, they just do it in their own ways, which is awesome. They may not like getting cake or pumpkin on their hands but they’ll sure poke it with a stick to see what it does. It shows imagination and the ability to think critically. They may not really have the ability to play monster bowling or build things, but they sure can take things apart in a very methodical way. They are using their brains to answer their own question and everything is an experiment and I love that. I’m never going to stop trying to go that extra mile because I want to do everything that I can to help them grow and have an amazing childhood, but I’m also going to try and be a little easier on myself when things don’t work out just how I imagine. Every moment with my boys is special, even if I don’t see it as an explosion, it may very well be to them. As I sit hear writing this post, Bennett is cuddled up next to me, eating homemade pumpkin seeds and watching my every move as my finger move across the keyboard. This is that spark, and I don’t think that I could possibly be a happier or a better mommy than I am right now and none this was ever a part of the “plan.”

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Don’t argue with me

The other night, while giving the boys a much needed bath, Oliver immediately began to push the limits of bath time etiquette by continuously standing up with this playful little smirk on his happy little face. Sitting on one’s butt has always been rule number one while in the tub, and I’m not going to say that either if them has ever upheld that rule to the highest standard, but usually there is no argument. Typically, it’s Bennett that tends to be the button pusher in this situation, standing up every couple of seconds, but immediately and without contention sitting back down once instructed to do so. Now, like his brother, Oliver had no issue with sitting back down when told to, but again he stood right back up almost a soon as his little bum touched the porcelain. The funny thing is that Bennett, sitting nicely in his pool of bubbles, began to scold both Andrew and I for telling Oliver to sit down. He was waving his little finger and telling us what for in his cute little voice of inferred authority. It was adorable. It was all we could do not to smile or laugh at the sigh of this little, skinny, pale, naked boy spouting off very serious nonsense at us. I imagine he was saying something along the lines of, “That’s my brother, and he does what he wants.”

For as cute as it was, and yes Bennett was definitely aware of just how adorable he was being (that being evidenced by the smile that was plastered all over his face), I couldn’t help but realize he was simply imitating me, and I seriously doubt I’m ever as cute. Basically, he was bitching… Just like mommy. My son ladies and gentlemen.

Now, I’m not so diluted as to think that I don’t bitch. And I’m not so vain that I’m going to even try to convince anyone else of that. I do. I admit it. I own that. All moms do it. All women do it. There is a very thin line between having authority in your voice and yelling and an even thinner line between instructing (reminding, suggesting, informing, “just saying,” etc…) and bitching. So, even if bitching isn’t the intention, odds are, that is exactly what ends up happening.

So, as he sat there, my little comedian, playing mommy in the tub, I ironically realized just how much of a sponge both those boys truly are. They pick up way more than we realize, and perhaps we don’t realize just how much they absorb because they don’t tend to get the hang of the things we wish they would grasp. Like how they can poke a hole in the top of their juice box with surgical precision, but they can’t seem to figure out how to eat with a fork. They can say “Oh, shit,” after hearing it one flipping time, but they can’t say I love you, the one most commonly spoken sentence in our home (though they show it every day in how they look at us, give us hugs and kisses, and are forever stuck to our hips, and that’s a form of imitation that no words could ever duplicate). They dance around the house with Daddy (and yes they all have the same three moves), and they try to talk on the mouse phone like big boys, and they fake type on the computer, and they try to put “keys” in keyholes, and they hold intelligent conversations with one another like they see everyone else do around them, and they do countless other everyday things that were all learned via imitation. We just don’t see it that way. Our bad.

Once Bennett’s set was finished, and his encore completed, he was forced to exeunt stage tub to get ready for bed. He and Oliver were all chuckles and grins. Bath time had never been so entertaining, but now it was over and they were not happy about it. They both began to cry and thrash about and yell. Yell… They were actually yelling. At us. Remember what I said about that thin line between authority and yelling? Well, apparently, neither Andrew and I are 100% on ensuring that line doesn’t get crossed. So, are we sitting at home just yelling at our kids all day, no, but the situation would suggest that they learned that somewhere. Interpretation get’s lost in translation, and ultimately the fault was ours. We were definitely getting yelled at by two little boys who get most of their life experiences from watching their parents. Sorry boys.

Me: We really need to be more aware of the volume in our voice when we reprimand the boys. They are just imitating us.

Andrew: I know (said with booming realization).

Me: I just don’t know how to better be stern without raising my voice.

Andrew: I know. It’s hard.

Me: You know who is really good at that? Jonas.

Andrew: He really is. That guys scarey though.

Me: He can be (I laugh), but he is a really good dad.

Andrew: I don’t know how he does it. (Lowering his voice in both volume and depth, perhaps attempting to channel Batman and possibly even holding his breath) Stop that. Stop doing that.

Me: (Laughing uncontrollably) If that is what you think he sounds like, then yes he would be scarey.

Andrew: (Same Batman, breath-holding voice) Don’t laugh at me.

As the week went on, both Andrew and I were very aware of the tone in our voice and how were were speaking to and scolding the boys. It was damn hard. They would get into a little mischief, and most of the time, there was really no argument, and they would move on to something else. But there were plenty of times that I felt like Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: “No. Please. Don’t. Stop.” I was attempting to deter negative behavior but getting now where because I wasn’t being taken seriously. There was a definite lacking of authority in my voice, and they played on that hard. They would stop, look me dead in the eyes, and slowly go back to doing whatever it was that they were doing before. They were testing the boundaries very deliberately to see just how serious we were. So frustrating.

The phrases, “Don’t argue with me,” and, “There is no discussion,” became standard responses to their baby-backtalk. Ultimately, things got better. Don’t get me wrong, they are still normal, curious, and mildly defiant toddlers, but you just roll with the punches and adjust the way we parent depending on the situation. They’re still just learning, and so are we. The fact is, kids imitate. Unfortunately, they just like the bad stuff. It’s just like how it’s always the bad words that people learn first when trying to speak another language. That’s all kids are doing: learning a new language. So, am I going to stop cussing. Yeah, probably not. I want to set a good example for my children, but I’m not a fanatic. Plus, I couldn’t imagine myself being that friend that cusses using words like “French toast” and “front door.” That’s just not my style, and I may pay for that in the long run, but we’ll play that hand once it’s dealt.

Exhaustedly,

Jeni

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Misconceptions

There are more misconceptions about twins than there are actual twins in the world: for example, the idea that twins are rare. There have been studies concluding that around 1 in every 8 pregnancies starts off as twins (or higher order multiples) but only one survives long enough to be detected. In the United states, the rate of twin births is about 3.5%. Not exactly an outrageous number, but they’re certainly not aliens. Especially when you consider Yoruba, where the frequency of twins is closer to like 10%! (I would imagine that the rate of crazy probably parallels that statistic in an eerie correlation) This freaky high number has been attributed to the consumption of a particular species of yam that contains large amounts of estrogen causing the woman’s body to freak out and start releasing eggs like a chicken. Never did like yams.

Let me break down the most common misconceptions I run into:

Whose side do twins run on?

Let’s just get this one out of the way right off the bat. This is about the only situation when it is entirely the woman’s fault. There is no arguing her guilt in this one folks: it’s science. It doesn’t matter if your boyfriend/husband is a twin, spawn of twins, from a family entirely made up of twins, your chances of becoming pregnant with twins has not increased at all: not even a little bit. It only matters if it runs on the woman’s side. She is the one dropping eggs, and nothing about the man’s history can do anything to make her drop more than the typical one. As for identical twins, that is a complete anomaly and happens randomly: no one can control or predict that. Now, if this same man has a daughter, she will have to worry about/prepare herself for the strong possibility that she will someday become pregnant with twins.

In my case, we were screwed (or blessed if you are glass half full kind of person) from the gate. I got it from both sides. I was aware of it being on my mom’s side, but not on my dad’s, and let’s just say, there was never any hope for us. Sorry, honey, but at least they’re cute.

Buy one get one free

Nope. It’s more like buy one, and then, surprise, you have to buy two… For the rest of your life. There is no twin discount. Trust me: we’ve asked. Sure you may knock out two little bundles of joy in the same amount of time it takes to make one, but you pay for it in the toll it takes on your body and mind. Now triples: that’s where it’s at. Those guys get everything: free diapers, free food, free clothes, free toys, etc… Baby companies are practically breaking down their doors to give them free stuff. However, no amount of Butt Paste will ever give you back your sanity, so my condolences.

All twins look alike

Fraternal twins are no more alike than any other siblings born from the same parents. They can have different colored hair, eyes, skin tone: they are just siblings that happen to have been born at the same time. So, in essence, there can definitely be a better looking twin. Just look at Scarlet Johansson and Gisele Bundchen: sadly, their twins have to live with that knowledge everyday.

It’s common for twins to be born early though.

This one is both true and false: yes, twins rarely go the full 40 weeks, but it’s still pretty rare for them to be born at 28 weeks like my two little guys. A full term pregnancy for twins is considered to be 38 weeks. So, the next time someone tells you about their twins being born early (like really early), don’t just blow it off like it’s no big deal. It’s still a very serious situation, and it’s scary.

Having a 2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old is just like having twins.

I call bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. It’s not the same. It’s not like the same. It’s different. For one, when your youngest was a newborn, you had 1 1/2 year old that could walk and and kinda talk and for the most part feed itself. It is not the same. You had kids: not twins. Sorry.

They are clones and have to be dressed alike at all times

Come now people. About the only thing worse than forcing your children to dress alike (in my mind, and sorry if I offend anyone with the following statement) is giving your twins rhyming names. Yes, at times it’s fun to have them dressed alike and looking all “twin-y.” I get that. I mostly do it to mess with people who still have trouble telling them apart. But, all fun and games aside, they are going to forever be identified as twins – as a single unit – so I want to at least let them have their own style, and give the “twinfits” some individual flare. They are different people with different likes and interest even if they are twins.

If one starts crawling/walking/talking/insert new skill here, the other one won’t be far behind

Not if one is lazy and could give two shits about competing with their overzealous sibling. Bennett chose mobility. Oliver chose snacks. Bennett had no interest in being a baby any longer than absolutely necessary. He is still always looking to get to that next step. Oliver, on the other hand, was completely fine just doing the baby thing. He didn’t care to compete. He didn’t care when his brother started to crawl, and waited nearly two months to start walking after Bennett was upright and mobile. Bennett would get his mind set on something and try and fail, try and fail, try and fail until he eventually got it. Oliver on the other hand, would just sit back and watch, take it all in, and process how he would (eventually) do it himself, and he usually didn’t have to try all that hard to get the hang of it. He just does things on his terms. To say that there is this innate competition between twins just isn’t entirely true. Like with anyone, they have their own speed.

We love how funny you think your twin cliches are, and you’re the first person ever to use the term “double trouble.”

No. Just… Just no. “Double trouble,” “You must be busy,” “You sure have your hands full,” “Do you ever get them mixed up,” “Oh, seeing double. Ha ha ha,”etc… I hear these things every day, multiple times a day. It’s not original, and we only give you that halfhearted chuckle out of pity, not wanting you to think yourself basic.

Parents with twins love hearing about your cousin’s, best friend’s, brother-in-law’s, baby sister’s  god-children that just so happen to also be twins.

Oh, please tell me more. In fact, we probably know each other. Pay no attention to fact that my children are better than halfway through the 20 minute shopping window before they start throwing things and attempting to break free from the restraints of the shopping cart. It’s no big deal that one is starting to head-bob in his seat, the universal symbol for “if you don’t get me to a suitable nap location stat, I’m gonna flip shit.” All that is trumped by the story about your girl’s ex-baby daddy having twin sisters. Fascinating.

In the beginning, It was kind of fun talking to people about their twins and hearing cute little anecdotes about other families with the same trials and tribulations. That period of time with short-lived. I don’t mean to sound like such a B, but a simple trip to the store now constitutes a minimum of three conversations about sets of twin I’ve never met and the other person usually only know of. It’s like we are in some super cool club that other people are dying to be a part of. Drew just keeps walking. He can at least use the whole being deaf thing to get away with it. Lucky bastard. I still stand there, feeling obligated to listen because I don’t want to seem rude. Plus, my children are adorable, and who am I to deny the world the chance to gaze upon such beauty. But next time you feel compelled to stop someone with twins to tell them about your twin nephews Bryan and Ryan who are 6 years old, have a new golden retriever puppy, and love minecraft, please just remember, we don’t care.

At least you get a break since they have each other to keep themselves busy.

Bitch… Yeah they keep themselves busy alright: busy getting into shit. They’re a team: a mischief finding, nerve stomping, creative little crime syndicate bent on total household domination. Perhaps a little dramatic, yes, but in general, there being two doesn’t make it easier. Yeah, they play together. They were lucky enough to be born with a best friend, but just think about the kind of trouble you and your best friend got into… Yeah, and that doesn’t even take into consideration twin magic.

Well, there’s my rant, and despite what it may have sounded like, I absolutely love being a mom. My boys are the greatest thing to have ever happened to me, and they are truly amazing. I was built for this. I couldn’t imagine not having twins. It’s the people who think they know everything there is to know about my life that make it a little harder. God love ’em.

Exhaustedly,

Jeni

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…earlier than expected

Well, hello there. For those of you who have been here before, I apologize for my extended absence: I was on holiday in Rome, spending my millions on pink diamonds and the construction of rehabilitation centers aimed at reintroducing colorblind dolphins back into the wild. Or I have just been chasing around two one-and-a-half year olds that seem to have endless amounts of energy pumping through their veins (too bad that juice can’t be tapped and sold in stores). For those of you who are new to this page, whether you are here on purpose or you simply stumbled upon the site by mistake, currently bumbling your way through this paragraph attempting to find the exit, just follow the sentences down to the bottom of the page, and there you will find your escape. Who knows, you may actually enjoy the ride.
First things first, I’m no longer pregnant! I gave that up about 18 months ago in exchange for having my children live on the outside of my body. This way they would have to eat their own food and would no longer have the luxury of using my bladder as a speed bag. Actually, it was all their idea. I was, like any benevolent and understanding mother, willing to fulfill the terms of our agreement and allow them to stay until spring no matter how uncomfortable it made me, but they decided to break the lease (or my water rather) a few months early.
It was January 22, 2013 (a far cry from the April 11th due date we had been focusing on). It was like most other nights around that time: I was sprawled out on the couch, incapable of getting comfortable and Andrew was playing a video game (one I actually enjoyed watching, so it was cool). He was deep within the mitts of dragon slaying when I felt two tiny little “pops” come from deep within my loins. I immediately thought I had peed… like a lot of pee. I flashed on the time when I was in the sixth grade, and I had just gotten a new puppy for my birthday. She was all mine and all my responsibility. I was to walk her and feed her and, most importantly, clean up after her before my mother ever found out that there was any kind of a mess that needed cleaning up after in the first place. One night, this little puppy came running into my room whimpering and trying to jump onto my bed, pulling at my blankets and doing her best to get my attention. I woke up, put my feet down on the carpet, and found myself standing in a puddle. I thought to myself “Ahh… You peed.” I them moved my foot around further and felt that the puddle was quite large. “Man, you peed a lot.” In the end, neither of these cases turned out to be an abnormal amount of urine, but rather just a large amount of water. The first time was from a broken pipe and the second was from a broken placenta. Somehow drawing insight from this random memory helped me to realize I wasn’t actually peeing on the carpet like a naughty puppy, but rather I was in labor. That was 9:05pm.
Needless to say, both Andrew and I were a little unnerved by the whole ordeal. I mean, we were expecting three more months of living the wild and single life. You know, the kind of life where you get to sleep in past five in the morning and can stay awake past seven at night. We didn’t even have a go-bag yet. Well, we had the bag, but we were so not ready to actually go. For the most part, we were running on nothing more than adrenaline and fear: however, I was also relying on inappropriate humor to guide me into motherhood.
Once I got off the phone with the lady in Labor and Delivery (a conversation where I really only made vowel sounds) and Andrew filled the bag with all necessary and appropriate items (two onsies and a robe), we loaded up into the car and drove the practiced rout to the hospital. We checked it at 9:45pm
One thing that I haven’t mentioned, and I’m sure that every mother out there is going to hate me for saying, is I never felt any contractions. I had what is called a silent labor. It was awesome! Though, having not felt any real pain or discomfort, I didn’t really know just how far along into the whole process I actually was. At least not until the doctor was checking me for transport to another hospital. I was only 28 weeks along and Kaiser doesn’t deliver babies that early. Well, not usually.
Dr. Razi (who just so happened to be my OB/gyn and was luckily working rounds that night): Well, there is going to be babies born tonight, but you are going to have to go down to community.
Me: Ok. Sounds good. Can I at least get some cab fair?
Dr. Razi: (he just chuckles, as he has become quite familiar with my humor by this time) We will see what we can do. Let me just check your dilation.
Me: Awesome…
Dr. Razi: (after a few seconds of uncomfortable probing) Well, never mind. You are dilated to a six and these babies are coming now.
At about 10:39 that same night, Andrew was running down a dimly lit hallway with a bright eyed nurse urging him to hurry, and I was laying on an operating table under some blindingly bright spot lights reveling in just how “easy” this whole labor thing was and how I must be “missing something.” Granted, by this time I was paralyzed from the waist down and feeling all nice and cozy in my warm sheets. At 10:40, Andrew came barging through the door just in time to see Dr. Razi cut me open and start pulling bloody humans from by body. It was magical.
Me (to Andrew): Are they cute? (As I couldn’t see anything beyond the blue sheet I was being hidden behind. I attempted to catch a glimpse of the goings-on through the reflection in staff members’ face shields, but failed to see anything comprehensible.)
Andrew: Uhhh…
Me: Are they gooey?
Andrew: They’re kinda gooey.
Well folks, its 18 months later and, guess what, they’re still gooey (that’s one thing I don’t really expect to change anytime soon). They’re incredible, and I can’t believe just how lucky I am to have such an amazing family. They are smart, adorable, funny, generous, thoughtful little boys. They are also pains in my ass, but they are great kids. They are definitely their daddy’s boys, and just when I feel my heart swell with this weird sense of motherly pride in one of my boys, I turn my heard and think, “And here’s the other one.”
Exhaustedly,
Jeni

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in my wildest dreams

People have told me all about pregnancy dreams and how crazy they are. Trust that since having become pregnant I have definitely experienced some strange ones. This was actually something I was looking forward to. Now this may sound weird, but I love dreaming. I have the most fully detailed and intricate dreams, and more often than not, they are lucid. I know I’m dreaming the whole time, which allows me to manipulate my dreams and make things happen the way I want them to. It’s great. If I’m ever in a situation that I don’t like, I either change it, or just tell myself to wake up, and it’s over. Just like that. I’ve had this “ability” pretty much my whole life. I remember my mother having suffered from nightmares when I was a child, and her trying to use positive affirmations to prevent them from continuing. I didn’t really understand what that meant, but I remember copying her and telling myself that “my dreams are only good,” and other things like that before I went to sleep at night. I did this without anyone knowing, but I guess it worked, because since being a very small child, I have experienced some very interesting dreams.

However, these pregnancy dreams have been something different all together. I have no clue I’m dreaming, and on numerous occasions, I have even said things along the lines of “I wish this was a dream,” believing 100% that I was living in complete reality at the time despite my living in a castle with a wooly mammoth or experiencing a myriad of other off the wall events. These dreams, still maintaining the same level of detail as my earlier one, are just way more erratic and the lighting is darker and things happen that make no sense at all. Apparently, they are more like normal dreams, and I don’t like it. I wake up, and I’m a little unsettled because it is a completely different thing to me to have to reassess my surroundings after a dream. It doesn’t take long, but its annoying. My dreams have been tampered with, and Leonardo Di Caprio is nowhere to be found.

So, I’m having twins. And though it took a little getting use to, both Drew and I have come to terms with just how quickly our family is growing. However, my subconscious seems to be trying to convince methat I’m not just having twins, but rather triplets… all boys… Now, despite a certain level of paranoia that I have regarding this actually happening, I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to. For one, after the doctor pointed out the second baby on the ultrasound, I insisted that he make sure there wasn’t a third one hiding somewhere. I also told him that if he were to find another one, he was keeping it… So who knows? He may have just stayed mum. The interesting things is, I have had several dreams over the last couple of weeks that I am either pregnant with, or have already given birth to, three bouncing baby boys.

In one dream, I’m at the hospital, trying to get a hold of my dad who is on some sort of secret mission in the middle of the ocean, where he is a legit badass, hunting down international criminals all 007 like. He was stationed at some underwater military base, and all I could do was leave messages for him to call me. I finally got to talk to him, and told him that the babies were gonna be born that day. He, very simply, told me “no.” He said he couldn’t get away, and he wanted to be there for the birth. I told him we really didn’t have a choice, and today was the day: like it or not. He was never able to make it, but eventually the babies were born (or rather delivered via UPS or something, because I never actually went through labor or gave birth), and they were beautiful. It was very strange. I knew them completely (all three of them), and they knew me. There was a very real bond between us. It was something that I could really feel, even though it was just a dream. It was very tangible.

In another dream, Andrew and I were at the doctor’s office getting another ultrasound and were gonna find out the sex of the babies. The doctor asked us if we were ready to know, and we confirmed. We were terribly excited and held tight to each other’s hands. The doctor then told us that it was a boy. I smiled and asked, “Both?” He then said, “All three.” I nearly fainted. Drew just went limp. I woke up in the morning with a vague remembrance of the dream and just sighed.

This whole triplets business hasn’t ended with me. When I called to tell my aunt about it being twins, she immediately said triplets. I have a coworker that’s had similar dreams to mine about triple boys (minus all the action movie sequences involving my dad). When she told me about her dream, my first inclination was to slap her in the mouth. Luckily, I refrained, because that would have been a lot of paperwork. Andrew’s mother has pointed out on our ultrasound where there could possibly be a third one hiding. So now, what once just looked like a small, nondescript shadow blob (like most everything else in one of those things: let’s be real), now resembles a possible third fetus. Playfully (I hope), she continues to talk about the possibility of triplets (even despite my never having told her about my dreams, which freaks me out even more). Whenever she mentions triplets (and even in one case, quadruplets!!), I insist she bite her tongue, and ask why should would even joke about that. Drew’s sister told her that if we did end up having triplets, that the only reasonable living situation would be for us (ALL) to move in with them (Drew’s parents). I followed that up with the fact that the only way we would be able to afford it would be for all of us to star in our our reality TV show.

I’m sure that all expectant mothers of twins, or even singles, have dreams that they are pregnant with more babies than what the doctors have said. So, I’m sure that this is absolutely normal. What gets me, is the fact that all my dreams have been about having boys: without fail, all boys. A friend of mine attributes this to meaning I’m just going to have two boys, and my body it picking up on that. Or two girls because they’re just thinking about boys… So, really he doesn’t have any idea. Interestingly enough, these dreams started around the time that the babies would be developing either gonads or ovaries or whatnot, so there could (at least in my mind) be some correlation between my dreams and their sex. Or maybe I’m pregnant with a future secret agent. Or maybe, based on that same reasoning, a wooly mammoth. I just hope that these dreams aren’t foreshadowing a future where I should be giving birth in a box under the stair rather than in a hospital.

But, regardless of twins or triplets or whatever… I won’t have to worry about the meaning of my dreams for much longer, because pretty soon, I’m never gonna sleep again.

Expectantly,

Jeni

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the first real scare (or attack of mommy paranoia )

With all the changes that my body is going through: the aches, the nausea (no matter how subtle), the inability to stay awake much longer than what constitutes a full work day, etc… one of the most unexpected things this pregnancy has given me is a case of very intense sneezing fits. I am sneezing all the time, and ironically they tend to show up in pairs. I don’t know, but it’s weird. I am fully aware of the fact that this is probably in no way related to the babies, but it seemed to start right along with the growing of their placentas.  Late last week, I was in the car, having one of my attacks, when Drew looked at me with a combination of utter fear and overwhelming concern.

Me: What’s wrong?

Drew: (concern still plastered across his face) Do you clench when you do that?

Me: When I do what? Sneeze? (confusion very obviously my primary emotion, but concern beginning to grow on my face because he was no longer watching the road)

Me: Would that make you feel better?

Drew: Yes! What if you let out a really big sneeze and one of them were to just fall out? (eyes wide)

Me: It does feel a little weird down there sometime (I shamefully admitted with a chuckle).

Drew: I think you should start clenching (he stated so matter-of-factly)

Me: You mean like Kegels for sneezing?

Drew: Yeah, I guess.

Me: I don’t think sneezing will cause me to shoot them out like BBs? There is a mucus plug and all kinds of stuff keeping them up in there.

Drew: I’m just saying, mucus plugs can fail, and better safe than sorry.

Now, before I go on any further, I need to clarify one thing: Andrew is a very intelligent man, and despite all the anecdotal evidence that would work to prove otherwise,  he isn’t a complete dunce. In fact, he manages to keep me flirting with my own sanity even in those moments when my entire ability to rationalize seems to have gone by the wayside. He uses his big words and comforting intellect to sooth me back to my senses when I begin to avoid things like pooping out of fear that his clenching, failed mucus plug theory may actually hold some water. He is also very good at helping me through those more real moments of discontent, like when the fear of a miscarriage becomes overwhelming, even if improbable.

We had just gotten to Drew’s parents’ house after going to the store with his mom and brother to look at cribs and other baby essentials that we priced for two. It was fun, and the whole idea of twins began to mesh well with the small amount of confidence we had begun to feel about actually be able to survive affording them. I came into the house, grabbed something to drink, and plopped down on the couch for about ten minutes before my bladder beckoned me to the restroom. It was at this time that my mood changed dramatically.

From the beginning, I have been aware of the fact that a small amount of spotting is a normal thing, especially in the first trimester, but what I was faced with was much more than I had experience in the past or ever anticipated. In retrospect, it wasn’t that much, but being a first time mom, having the knowledge that carrying twins runs a higher risk of complications, and my mother having miscarried two sets of twins in the past, it felt that I face to face with a worst case scenario. My mother-in-law told me just to lay down and put my feet up and that I would be fine. I did what she instructed, but my mind still raced, full of all those “what-ifs.” Yes, the amount of spotting was heavier and warranted some additional precautions, along with a call to my ob/gyn, but even then I felt I was overreacting, but was unable to calm myself free from tears. Drew, and his incredible ability to understand that I understand when I am acting irrational, but that at times I’m still incapable of doing anything about it, talked me out of my funk, sat next to me running his fingers through my hair, and just let me cry until I started making inappropriate jokes and began laughing.

Once we got home, and I read everything I could find on the internet (by far the absolute worst thing I could have done), and it seemed as if little to no progress had been made in the spotting department, my nerves again took hold of me and I began to worry some more. Drew was ready to throw me over his shoulder (if that’s what it took) and take me to the emergency room in order to get me the answers that I felt I needed. He then remembered I have insurance, and there is a 24 hour phone number for people to call as a way of avoiding unnecessary ER visits. Usually I would have made him call (in fact I tried to pawn it off on him), but I was the one that had to suck it up and dial.

When I got the voice on the other end, I started talking about everything I was experiencing, explaining color and consistency and duration and about all my concerns. He then informed me that he was the operator and would transfer me to the appropriate extension. I was was horrified that I just divulged so many intimate details to someone who could have been the 4th floor custodian for all I know, and I began to cry even more. Drew just laughed and hugged me.

Drew: You crying ’cause you’re a little embarrassed?

Me: (incomprehensible noun sounds) Yeah…

Ultimately, I spoke to a doctor and all my fears were alleviated. She made me feel like less of a insane mess and more like a worried momma. I felt like a mental mess of a woman, because according to what she was saying would constitute a miscarriage, I wasn’t experiencing anything at all. We talked about blood type and about the polyp I have on my uterus and she assured me that, so long as it didn’t continue, I would be fine. She also told me not to read things on the internet because that will only make me think the worst. I laughed and agreed to steer clear.

Though I look back on the whole ordeal and can’t help but think that I acted like a complete wreck, I understand the importance of having acted like, well an idiot. Better to be paranoid about a little blood then to act with complete avoidance that there was anything wrong at all. Ultimately, it was good. I allowed me the freak out that I needed and it gave Drew the opportunity to do what he does best: make me feel safe.

He is definitely going to be a great dad.

Expectantly,

Jeni

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The name game

From a very early stage in mine and Drew’s relationship, our future children were given names; but, not just names: they were give personality. This perhaps oddly premature characterization of our “fictitious” children was always done in jest (even if that jest was spawn in hope). It started off as a way to make our parents uncomfortable about one day being grandparents, and from there it just continued to grow. We would joke about how we would classically condition each child into the person we hoped they would be based on the name that we had given them. Everyone in the market for a family does this: “My baby is going to be… INSERT DESIRED QUALITY HERE.” We just did it in gross detail.

This joking was never something done in private: our friends and family were all well aware of the fact that we had at least named our future children, if not entirely aware of the fact that we had basically written their whole life stories prior to conception. But, now that the idea of us actually having kids is no longer simply an idea, but rather a reality, no one seems to have the slightest recollection of this happening. While on the phone with my mother the other day, she asked me if we had picked out any names yet. It seems that this is the only question being asked lately, and it’s the last question we thought people would have for us. However, I again attempted to go down the short list of names Andrew and I have decided upon:

Me: Well, for a girl, our first name is Cayden

My mother: Cave in…?

Me. No. Cayden.

My mother: Cave in… that’s interesting… (hints of WTF making its way through the tone in her voice).

Me: No Mom. Cayden. With a “D” like Dan. C-A-Y-D-E-N. Cayden.

My mother: CAVEN. Yeah, that’s what I said.

Me: Yeah, but that’s not what I said. There is no “V” in the name. It’s Cayden. Like Cady (Katie: thank you Mean Girls) CAYDEN

My mother: Catherine. That’s pretty.

No: (sigh) No…

This went on for some time, with Drew laughing hysterically in the background, until I found myself absolutely exhausted. We got through just the one name before I was forced to fabricate some reason to hang up the phone. I couldn’t possibly survive trying to remind her of Temperance.

No one seems to remember these names at all, despite us having mentioned them hundreds of time over the last three or so years. And now, every friend and relative has asked if we are going to be naming either baby after them. If they had their way, Baby #1 would be named Lori Elizabeth Michelle Lynn Kirby. Not so bad. Actually could work: especially in  comparison to Baby #2, which would be named Cody Sergio Jason Reis Cole Andrew Henry Michael Kirby. We even received the request for Wasabi. Thanks Boots.

You know how hard it is to tell people, “No, we won’t be naming our child after you,” regardless of how ridiculous the name would be. Could you imagine? Wasabi Kirby. It’s as if just because we are having twins, people think they can lay claim to naming privileges: like coming up with two names at one time is beyond or mental capabilities. I know that all this “name-it-after-me” business is done in fun, but sometimes I’m not so sure. I heard the disappointment in my mom’s voice when I told her, “No.” (Well, ok. I never actually said the word “no.” It wouldn’t form between my lips. It felt like saying that word would parallel a slap in the face to the woman who raised me. I just him-hawed around the subject, but she got the point anyway, and that still sucked).

Though we have gotten some mixed reviews (however, mostly positive) regarding our selections, we are as attached to the name as ever. Luckily the characteristics we have attached to them have begun to mean very little. I had always feared that we were setting the bar a little high anyway. Ultimately, we don’t care about any of that right now. Yeah it would be nice to be the mother of a future president, but let’s face it: I’m pretty sure I have already managed to ruin any chances that my children could possibly have a successful career in politics. Momma was no saint 🙂

With all the name planning and such, Andrew and I never really considered that talking to our children as they grew inside of me would pose any problems (with regards to names that is): but, Drew brought up a good – even if totally insane and neurotic – point. It’s not just one baby anymore. There are two individuals growing and living inside of me right now, and how are they going to know who’s who?

Drew: What if we have boy/girl twins? Maybe the boy is going to think his name is Cayden. That could really mess with him later in life. And what if the girl likes the name Bennett better?

Me: I don’t think that is going to be an issue, Honey.

Drew: I know there is pretty much no possible way that this could ever happen, but what if they get attach to the other name? Then they may be disappointed when they realize they have been a different person the whole time and have to start life with a name they don’t identify with.

Me. (smiling as if to say “I can’t believe how much I love you because you’re so ridiculous.”) We don’t have to call them by their names if you don’t want.

Drew: I don’t know.

This whole name crisis aside, not knowing the sex of the babies has actually presented me with a different kind of problem. As of right now, we just refer to them as “Babies”: one entity, which is something I never really wanted to do. I want them to have a real since of individual identity. They are (or will be) two different people, and I can’t wait to know if they’re boys or girls or a combo set, so that they can have a real name of their own and start to become those people, regardless of Andrew’s insanely cute fear that they could end up being forever confused about who they are.

We could just settle on Thing One and Thing Two for the time being. And who knows, maybe it will stick.

Expectantly,

Jeni

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And here’s the other one

I found out a few weeks ago that I was going to be having my first child. At the age of twenty eight, and having for some time now been feeling the adverse effects of those infamous ticks of my biological clock, I was pretty excited: even if it was a little unexpected. Dad (Andrew), however, was taking a little longer to come around to the idea. He was the quintessential man of the situation, looking at our little bundle of joy more like a new big bundle of bills and responsibilities that he wasn’t quite ready for. He wore a look of utter shock for about a week, but  ultimately though, he began to make since of the situation, and his excitement grew with each passing day. From the beginning, he waited on me hand and foot, never allowing me to do anything beyond getting up to go to the bathroom (which I did a lot. Mostly just to be able to leave the room). It was a little irritating due to the fact that I estimated I was no further along than about six weeks and, at this rate, would probably be treated like an invalid for months to come. But, he was at least taking to his new role actively and in good spirits. It was adorable. The idea that he would be an amazing father never failed my expectations. I know that he is a worrier and that he will more than likely be a bundle of nerves, not only as the pregnancy progresses, but forevermore: especially if it were a little girl.

After taking the first of two home pregnancy test (with the result having come back like a whisper-the little pink line may have been completely missed by someone less willing to see it), I was thoroughly convinced; however, Andrew was still on the fence about the entire thing. “We don’t know for sure,” he would say, but I knew. I had felt it for some time at that point, and the test was merely a confirmation to what I was already feeling happening inside of me. After reading the outside of the box a couple hundred times, I told him that even a faint line meant positive and that false positives were virtually myths, but he wasn’t convinced – at least not 100%. So, we took a second test the next day, with a result that was undeniable: “Yes.” He was still considering the possibility that it was all fluke. Andrew: the eternal optimist.

I made an appointment with my nurse practitioner, bought (or borrowed) a bunch of books (thank you Amazon Prime), read incessantly (something I became really good at having been a literature major at Fresno State), changed my eating and drinking habits with incredible ease – I never really drank alcohol (anymore :-)), but a caffeine junky I was – and all of this, oddly enough lead to one major change in my life: I stopped sleeping. I would wake up, always at exactly at 1:00am, thinking about things like possibly having and incompetent uterus, or if I had too much salt in my diet, or how much longer it would be before I needed to buy me some of those stretchy pregnant jeans? I feared the upcoming appointment would go something like this:

Me: So, I’m pregnant (smile)

NP: Ok, let’s take some blood to confirm. (blood test comes back within seconds) Are you an idiot? You’re not pregnant.

I felt like there was strong possibility that I was stupid and didn’t know how to accurately interpret the result of the pee stick. Maybe the two pink lines, the resounding “Yes”, and little smiley face meant, “congratulations! You’re not burdened with a child. Have a drink!”  I thought maybe I bought the test from the wrong section of pregnancy tests, like they were split up between tests for hopefuls and tests for the “let’s-hope-nots.” When I finally went to the appointment, my NP and I talked a bit. She asked if I had taken a home test. I told her I had taken two-both positive- and her response was: “Well, in that case, congratulations.” I then was alleviated for about 5 seconds.

After making a subsequent appointment with who would be my new ob/gyn, she sent me for some blood work to check hcg levels. Andrew and I then told he world of our impending family expansion. After the crying and the mom shrieks, my eleven year old brother wondering if the baby had already been born, and his brother finally believing that we weren’t lying, we both began to feel ready. The support from both families has been amazing, and we knew this baby – the first grandchild on both side and the the first great grandchild on three of the four – would be brought into a world ripe with unconditional love. And toys. And clothes. And learning tools. And anything and everything else the grandmas and aunties and godparents could get their hands on.

I continued to read and educate myself on what to expect from my first ob/gyn appointment, and three days later Andrew and I found ourselves in an exam room waiting for the first ultra sound to be performed. As Andrew sat in the corner holding my purse, obviously uncomfortable, I was laying on my back with my feet in those awkward stirrups thingies with a very gentle man moving a wand around inside of me looking to capture a picture of our developing baby. He then pulled back the curtain, telling Dad to come round and stand next to me so as to be able to see the monitor. He began pointing to a little black ball with a squiggly white blob inside of it. “This is your baby,” he said about the white blob. He then pointed to a fluttering blackish spot, stating “and this is the heart.” He them moved his hand pointing to another blob and said, “and here’s the other one.”

My initial reaction was one of hope. I thought maybe he was saying that my baby simply had two hearts. I though this could be good: we would have an extra in case of emergency. We could sale it for college money, donate it to a friend in need, or just have a spare in the event that our child’s heart inevitably gets broken. Then, a millisecond later, I came to my senses and realized there were two future babies growing inside of me. “What?” I eloquently asked, with no real reaction from the doctor as the nurse buzzed about in giddy splendor. The doctor began talking about how they were in separate sacks and about how they are around two days apart with a due date of about April 10th and the genetic benefits to having fraternal twins rather than identical and all I really got from everything he said at the time was the word “twins.” I’m having twins…

After the shock wore down – never off – I began to joke about how we were going to have to decide which one was cuter and keep that one. The nurse found that reluctantly funny. I told her that we could afford one, but not two, so we were going to have to “home school” them starting at the age of about 12 so that they could go out and get a job to support themselves. Luckily she knew I was joking and didn’t report me to the authorities.  Drew stood strong and silent, the look of sheer terror on his face mirrored that of the fear I felt inside but was managing to mask with inappropriate humor.

This was less than tree days ago, and I’m still in a little bit of shock. Drew too, but he has taken to the news of two much easier than the initial news of just one. Our biggest issue right now is where we are gong to put everything: like cribs. Can we get bunk cribs? Is there such a thing? Drew confided in me saying that if both babies need changing at the same time, he won’t know who to change first, because he wouldn’t want one to feel less loved  than the other. I smiled, laughed a little, and just hugged him. We have plenty of time for things like that to be worked out, but with everything to come, this is definitely going to be a journey.

There are two…

Expectantly,

Jeni

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