Thursday, July 29, 2010

now you are family.

We've been home from the West Coast for about a week and a half now and I must be getting old, or something, because I'm not bouncing back as awesomely as I used to when I did stupid stupid insane ridiculously irresponsible road trips... like the time my friend J and I drove from CA to WA (about 900 miles in my ghetto car that had the bumper duct taped on because I had crashed it into a pole a few weeks earlier) after working a full day, only to get there in the morning, go to a wedding in the afternoon and turn around and leave to drive home that night and then went back to school and work that next day. Yeah, that was dumb. But we were 19 and knew everything so it didn't matter

Man, we flippin rocked that road trip. Good times, "resting" at the rest stop between Shasta and the Oregon border, and then again at the rest stop by the Sacramento airport... because that is a really really safe for 2, 19 year olds to do. Pretty sure that's how horror movies start. But if I'm remembering correctly, this was all during midterms and I still managed to ace an exam 2 days after we got back. AND my car got broken into the day of that midterm and not only did the jerkfaces go through my CD's individually and pick and choose which ones they wanted (apparently they weren't country fans) but they also took my stereo and my text books AND had the nerve to go through and look at the pictures we had taken at the wedding, as it was way back in the day when film was the method of taking pictures and digital cameras were only for the wealthy. The cops ended up taking the pictures into "evidence" so we don't have any pictures from that trip, except for a couple of the shady bathroom we stopped at in the middle of Oregon. That bathroom was seriously so shady I'm pretty sure we got herpes just by opening the door. My goodness, that was a trip.

This last road trip was hardly eventful. We made it home without breaking down (both the car, and our mental states), without any notable events and we only went $8 over our allotted "food, gas, Starbucks and hotel" budget. I was proud. But for some reason, I'm spent. I haven't had the energy to do anything and the suitcases are still in a heap on the floor. I've been rewashing and wearing the same 4 outfits we all wore on the drive home because I am just too lazy to unpack the rest of the clothes. It's not worth the effort...

Soon after we got home I started feeling sick and figured it was just from all of the travel, or maybe the fact that there was a disgusting layer of mold covering everything that we kept in our storage room (including, but not limited to my 4 of my 5 favorite strollers, but that is for a different post) and that it had seeped into our house and my body. Then I started to feel a lump in my neck and jaw area and figured it must be because my quack dentist did a quack crown on my tooth in December and now I needed a quack root canal, but then I got another lump where my leg meets my pelvis, in my groin area (um, that's gross and TMI, I know) so I stopped thinking it was because my quack dentist sucked and I needed a quack root canal. After the third day of zombie-dom and not being able to complete even half of my workout or any household task, I went to the doctor.

She was like, "Oh, you're fine. I don't see anything. I'll just give you some decongestants and you'll be fine." Yeah, I'm not thinking that you're really understanding what I'm saying. There is a GOLF BALL size LUMP in my NECK AREA and GROIN right now-- that aint right. And she was like, "I'm sure there's not a lump in your groin, it's probably just an ingrown hair" Yeah, no. That would be one seriously nasty hair (really that is GROSS! Someone stop me) It's INTERNAL. And she was like, "Well, I'll take a look at it but I really don't think it's anything." And then she felt it, and her eyes got big and she was like, "So I'm gonna order a CBC and a BlahBlahBlah and a WhatchaMaCallIt and a ThingAMaBob and put you on some heavy duty antibiotics and if it isn't better in 10 days, we're going to biopsy that". Hold the phone. My short answer would be, No. My long answer would be, HECK NO. No WAY are you going to biopsy something in my neck. You will have to knock me out cold before that happens. Those are long needles and That. Is. Gross.

Holy "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Knowing me, if they biopsy that crap they'll probably find teeth and a spinal cord

and that it is really my twin that my body has finally decided to expel. Or in my case, triplet because of the additional one. See, multiples really do run in my family.

I'm sure I'm fine and it's my body's way of telling me to SLOW DOWN or it is just some freak infection... even though I don't have a fever or any other "infections symptoms". The one in my neck is feeling a little better so that is a plus, the other one though, is really annoying and I could totally do without. This will certainly be one round of antibiotics I will finish. No way in you know where are they coming at my neck with a needle. No way, no how.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

flying with infant twins... alone.

Ok, boring title, I know. Forgive me as my creative brain seems to be taking a summer ciesta. Jerk. The twins and I flew back from Alaska, reunited with the other hellions children, and are now making the looooooooong @$$ trip back to the East Coast. Awesome. I have officially scarred W for life. Every time he gets in the car he asks if it is going to be a 1 movie drive, or a 2 sleeps drive. Either way he hates it and demands compensation for me ruining his life. A trip into town makes him freak the freak out, espeically if I don't have an arsenol of snacks and things for him to do. Hunny Pie, it's only a 25 minute drive, pretty sure you can survive without a DVD. Now stop kicking your sister before I PULL THIS CAR OVER. I swear...

ANYWAY. Onto the point of this post, I promise. Flying with twins. Yes. Ok, so the key is to be uber organized. Like, more organized than you think you need to be, and over prepare. And then think about how you are going to do what you are going to do before you do it. And then take those scenarios, and blow them out of the water and then run your mind's eye through how you are going to handle your baby's diaper exploding while the other one projectile vomits onto the person next to you while you spill the bottle you prepared 4 seconds ago to calm the poopy butt baby down. What are you going to do when you are all covered in vomit and poop and formula that smells like rotten white cheddar cheese? What are you going to do...? Cry. Pretty much just cry.

Ok, I swear there is a point to this. So really, how do you do this? First, plan your flights for their nap times. If they are napping 2x a day, plan the first flight for their first nap time and then take a layover until their second nap time. Or take a red eye. Chances are good they will fall asleep during takeoff because of the white noise and g-forces and maybe, just MAYBE, you might be able to read a magazine for the first time since before they were born. Maybe.

Second, the diaper bag. Pack only the essentials. Everything else can be improvised. Daytime flights can be a bit more tricky because you have to pack more food, if they are eating solids, but if your kids don't have huge food issues like mine do, that won't be as hard as I make it out to be. So here's what I would pack for a 10 hour day of travel, if I were you:
  • 8 diapers per baby
  • 1 pack of wipes
  • Changing pad
  • 2 bottles (I like the Playtex Drop Ins for travel because you only need 2 bottles and then can pack the extra liners and extra nipples-- takes up a lot less room)
  • Formula
  • Change of clothes for each baby
  • Bows to match those change of clothes so people don't ask if they are boys (optional)
  • An extra shirt for you
  • Baby crackers
  • Baby food in squeeze containers or plastic containers (if applicable)
  • Bibs
  • Spoons (if needed)
  • Gas drops (or gripe water-- you'll have to pour it into a 3oz container for the flight though)
  • Infant Tylenol
  • A magazine for you
  • A cliff bar or 2 and some candy
  • DumDum suckers for the babies (sometimes desperation beats out "good mommyhood")
  • Your wallet
  • Cell phone
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • A flask (kidding... kinda)
  • Ziploc bags, of all sizes (more on that later)
  • A sling
Yes, all of that fits in one bag, and fits nicely if you pack it right. Be sure to have all of your liquids put together and on top of all of your other crap so you can pull it out easily to go through security.

Getting ahead of myself. Ok, so you unload the car, and go to check in. Take someone with you for this. It is almost impossible to pull all of your luggage on one of those carts while pushing a double stroller. Don't ask me how I know. When you check in, suck it up and pay the oversize baggage fees, or have a REALLY good sob story that will cause the ticket agent to wave not only the oversize fees but also the fee for an entire bag... not that I've done that... ever...

Your bags are now checked in and it is time to go through security. You are SO going to rock this and look good doing it. You're wearing slip on shoes, don't have anything in your pockets and you have the pacifier clipped to the baby's shirt because once that binkie is in that bin, you can't get it back until they "clear" you. So here's how you do security:
  1. Put the car seats upsidedown on the x-ray belt
  2. Take off your shoes and put them in a bin
  3. Take the liquids out of your bag and put them in a bin
  4. Put all of the blankets and "loose" items in another bin
  5. Put your bag in a bin
  6. Send it aaaaaaaall down the roller things into the x-ray machine.  
  7. Push the stroller near the x-ray so the TSA agent can come and get it
  8. Pick up your babies, one in each arm, and walk through the metal detector
Here's where you can get creative. You can either wait for the stroller to be done getting swabbed by the TSA agent while holding the babies or you can ask (very nicely) if they will put the carseats on the ground for you so you can put the babies in them and you can collect your things.

Now keep in mind that I don't have a stroller that holds our infant seats, so you will have to modify what you do to accommodate for your travel system. I pushed the stroller with both babies in it and carried the car seats and diaper bag. If you can, take the infant seats on your trip, if your babies still fit in them. They are so much lighter and easier to carry than a convertible car seat. If they don't fit into the infant seats and you need to take convertible seats, consider buying a PacBack to help you get through the airport.

Anyway, after you gather all of your crap and get the babies situated back in the stroller, go to your gate and get a gate check ticket for your stroller (and extra car seat if you don't have 2 seats for the babies-- try not to ever check a car seat as luggage. Chances are it will be damaged by the time you get to your destination and/ or it may be lost. If you gate check it it is less likely to be damaged or lost and if there's an extra seat on the plane, they will sometimes let you have it for the baby, so you'd be able to use the car seat). Then let the babies out to stretch and move around. Yes, on the floor of the airport. I know, disgusting, but believe me, they will touch dirtier things by the time they are 2. Yes, they will. Make sure you are by the jetway so you can preboard first and be sure to do a round of diaper changes before you get on the plane.

When they call for preboarding, either have 1 baby in a sling and 1 still in the stroller or put both babies in the stroller. After you field all of the, "OH MY GAH! Are you flying ALONE with them?!" questions, make your way down the jetway with confidence and class. You've got this! Once at the bottom, if only one baby has a seat put that baby in the car seat, the other in the sling, if not already in there, and then collapse the stroller. Typically at this point the flight attendants will either be standing at the entrance of the plane, taking bets on how long you are going to last or they will be jumping at the chance to help you because they KNOW there is no way you are going to be able to do all of this by yourself. And they are right. It simply isn't possible to get both babies plus a car seat or 2 plus a diaper bag on the plane and to your seats by yourself. You're good, but you aren't that good.

Now, when you booked your flight you had a few decisions to make besides when you were going to leave and come back. Do you bite the bullet and get a seat for each baby or do you go the cheaper route and only buy 1 ticket for 1 baby and have the other baby be a lap baby. My recommendation is to buy 2 tickets. Not only is it safer for both babies to be in car seats, but if both of them are in seats they are more likely to fall asleep and it will make it so you have an extra place to put the "extra" baby if needed. It just makes life easier, really. It is possible to do just 1 purchased seat for a baby but it will be a challenge and not the best flight you are ever going to take.

Then you have to make the "where do I sit" decision. Now, there are really 3 options: the front of the plane, no, not first class, you aren't THAT classy! I mean after row 6, the middle of the plane and the back of the plane.

Pros for the front of the plane:
  • you don't have to walk as far when you are boarding and exiting. It is hard to get those infant seats down the aisle! 
  • the bulkhead will provide extra room
Cons for the front of the plane:
  • you are really far away from the bathroom because you aren't cool enough to use the first class bathroom
  • people will gawk and make a lot of comments while you are sitting there waiting for the rest of the flight to board and get off the plane
  • if you are in the bulkhead you can't put your bag under the seat so you have to put it in the overhead bin which can really suck when you need something out of it but can't get out of your seat
Pros for the middle of the plane:
  • ?????
  • uuuuuuuuuuummmm
  • you don't have to wait as long for drinks as you would if you were in the back of the plane?
Cons for the middle of the plane:
  • you are still pretty far from the bathroom
  • still have gawkers
  • you get stuck when you get up while the flight attendants are doing the drink service and you have to get back to your seat
Pros for the back of the plane:
  • the bathroom is RIGHT THERE
  • the flight attendants are RIGHT THERE and almost always willing to hold a baby while you change the other baby's diaper
  • the galley is RIGHT THERE if you need water for a bottle
  • there aren't many people to judge you if you have to change a diaper in your seat, with the baby on your lap. Not that I've ever done that either... ever... 
Cons for the back of the plane:
  • the bathroom is RIGHT THERE and people LOOOOOOOVE to talk to you while they are waiting to pee. 
  • it takes forever to walk to your seat and chances are good your baby might have whiplash from being banged against every other seat on your way there. 
  • you will finally get your complimentary beverage approximately 2.5 minutes before the Captain asks the flight attendants to prepare the cabin for landing. 
Once you get to your seat, you are going to buckle the car seats in, get the crying baby out to appease her, ask the flight attendants for water for the bottles, prepare their bottles for take off and pull out your magazine and a snack so you don't have to rummage around your bag later if a baby is asleep in your arms. And then you are going to promise all of the people who are glaring at you and your crying baby that they will not in fact cry for the entire flight. And then you'll wonder why you are trying to satisfy all of these people and realize they can just bite you. Who cares if your baby is crying? BABIES CRY. Oh wait, getting off topic again...

So it is time for take off now and you're getting nervous. Once that door shuts, you're committed. Put the babies back in their seats, give them their bottles, some tylenol if needed, gas meds if necessary, give them their soothie (blanket, binkie, whatever) and then PRAY HARD that your evil plan works and they do fall asleep. If they fall asleep, you're golden for at least an hour. Pat yourself on the back! But then prepare for when they wake up. Have their snacks ready if they are eating solid foods, pull a diaper or 2, the wipes and changing pad out so they are ready to go when needed, and get their toys ready to be played with.

But wait... you didn't pack any toys for them! Why did that stupid girl on that stupid blog not put any toys on that stupid diaper bag packing list?? Oh young Jedi, because you don't need them. Everything you need to entertain your babies is already on the plane. Cups, stir sticks, packets of sugar,  plastic spoons, barf bags, those really annoying papers that say "SUBSCRIBE FOR ONLY $.75 AN ISSUE" that fall out of your magazine, your cell phone, club card for Safeway, your bracelet, a baby wipe, the wrapper from your Cliff Bar, a bottle nipple... the possibilities are endless.

And then there are the ziploc bags. Why did you bring those? Not only do those provide a nice, smell proof place to put nasty clothes but they provide for entertainment too. Ask the flight attendant for some ice and a tiny bit of water and put them in one, zip it up and give it to a baby. They will have fun squishing it around. Throw some cherrios in there and let them go nuts, just make sure they don't bite through the plastic. And if that ziploc magic doesn't work, pull out the dumdums and let them lick away. No, I'm not kidding, it really works. Mother of the Year here, people. Mother of the Year.

So the flight is going relatively well but now it's time for a diaper change. Crap. Literally. You pretty much have three options: Change the baby in your lap, which I would not do if it were a poopy diaper, ask a flight attendant to come and sit with the other baby while you go to the bathroom and change the dirty one or put the clean baby in the sling and carry the dirty one to the bathroom. I typically go with option number 3, unless the clean baby is sleeping. Then I go with option number 2 (no pun intended).

After diaper changes, it's time for feeding. Again, no problem, you've prepared well. Bibs are on to minimize the mess and you feed them in their car seats... which, sorry to say, will make a mess no matter how hard you try to prevent it. Just remember, car seat covers are washable. Be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions for care and use. And be sure to make the feeding time fun. If you have ferocious eaters like I do you will have to act fast which can be tricky but smiles and songs seem to help take the edge off of the wait while the other baby gets her bite.

Once the babies are dry and fed they will either fall back asleep or want to play and by then, it's pretty much time to land. If possible, keep them both in their car seats during landing as this is prime time for injury for a lap baby. Because you are smart, you've built in a lot of extra time into your itenerary so there is no need to rush off the plane. You will always get off last. Always. Not only is it the polite thing to do, but it is the practical thing to do because a) the flight attendants will help you off the plane and b) you won't have a big ol line of angry people up your butt while you try to get the stroller set up and the babies put in it.

Now make your way to the poor soul who is going to pick you up and give yourself a HUGE pat on the back because you just rocked the whole flying with twins thing. Congrats!

Ok, I know it doesn't always happen that easily but it really doesn't have to be a huge event. Just remember to be flexible, have a good attitude and don't get upset over stupid stuff and you'll be fine. The nicer and more sane you seem, the more people will be willing to accomodate you and help you out. And if anything, you'll be making memories and that always makes it worth it, right?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


My babies are almost 1. Sigh. One year ago right now I was in early labor, so tired of contractions and thought my babies would never come. Just 1 year ago... It is almost surreal.

I recently came across an email I sent to some doula friends in the weeks before the girls were born and in it I was completely freaking out about pretty much everything, as usual. Reading it brought back all of those feelings of anxiety and stress and anticipation and fear... I can still feel exactly how I felt during that time. I knew life was going to be different but I really had no idea one year ago just how different it was going to be.

These babies have done something to me. Maybe it's the fact that we went through so much hell for 5 months that I can pretty much handle anything at this point... maybe it's because they have forced me to be organized, who knows, but I feel so much better about life now than I ever have before. There are so many things that I used to stress about that just don't matter anymore. I never would have thought these babies would make me sane. Never. Of course the teething and "oh &$*% she ate something with wheat and now she's going to be up all night screaming" days and endless diapers can wear on me but there is really so much joy in my life it is almost nauseating.

A and MJ are such funny babies. Just recently they have really started to interact with each other. They love to play together, even trading toys when they get bored with what they are playing with. The hold hands while they are in the stroller and while they eat, if you put them close enough. Of course, that is between A stealing bites of food off of MJ's plate. MJ really needs to learn to eat faster, before A takes all of it and she ends up being the runt for the rest of her life.

When MJ wants to get A's attention, she will fake cough and then they will have a complete conversation. No clue as to what they are saying... probably something along the lines of, "holy crap, she had to put another one of these ridiculous bows on us AGAIN?! Does she not see they are literally bigger than our heads? This is annoying. That woman has flipped her lid". And then when MJ gets distracted by a shiny object, A will fake cough to get her attention and they will finish out their conversation.

What is most interesting is that they have no interest in other babies, except for each other. If you put them in front of a mirror, they won't look at their own reflection, they will look directly at each other's reflection. If you put just one of them in front of a mirror, she will look at the person holding her, instead of her reflection. But they do love their brother and sister, that's for sure. They are all smiles when W and CB walk in the room. It is so sweet to watch all of them together... I just hope it lasts...

They both are growing leaps and bounds. Just in the past 2 months they have become mobile and quick. While neither of them are very close to walking, they each have their own unique way of getting around. A crawls like she's swimming. She looks just like she's doing the breaststroke. And MJ crawls like she's been shot and is dragging herself to safety.  She keeps her left arm under her chest and drags her left leg, propelling herself with her right arm and right leg... maybe we should get that checked...

MJ is definitely the jokester, like we've always known she would be. She plays peek-a-boo and loves to make noise and laugh. She has such a good temperament and is generally willing to just hang out. A is more of the diva princess, for sure. She very much prefers for you to do things for her. She'll crawl all the way down the hallway to get to you and then stop 3 feet from where you are and will sit up and SCREAM until you come and get her. She simply cannot be bothered to crawl the rest of the way. She makes me smile.

It has been a long year. One filled with so many ups and downs, laughter and tears, freak outs and realizations, sleepless nights, character building, humbling experiences, and learning... and yet it seems to have gone by in an instant.

They say it takes a village to raise a child and that is really true for us. We would have not made it through this year with our sanity intact if it weren't for our family and friends who have stood by us and at times literally held us up. Those who came and held my babies so I could take a shower, who stopped by or made me go to lunch so I could have some adult interaction, who took care of W and CB so I could make it through the day with the babies, who just sat and listened when I was at my breaking point and who have come to our rescue in time of need have a huge place in my heart. I don't know where we would have been without all of you.

And to my angel-- the wonderful wonderful woman who so graciously and willingly sacrificed so much by taking everything delicious out of her diet to provide milk for my babies so they could thrive when I couldn't do it: I've told you before what that has meant to me but I really can't say it enough. You helped give my babies life and made them grow. Without you they wouldn't have been as happy or healthy and that is something that is truly invaluable to me. What you did was so selfless and amazing, I only wish I could do something half as wonderful for someone one day. You are a true example of kindness and generosity and we are so blessed to know you. Thank you so much for what you did for us and for my babies. It means the world to me.

So here's to another year-- Happy birthday sweet babies. I love you.