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February 2008

Ori Kami

The hell? I was just about to cheerfully wish Patrick a fond farewell this morning when Steve told me there is no school for some reason. I had to have another cup of tea to restore myself. I was going to get so much done today, too. I was going to finish the tax organizer that has been sucking up all my free time for the past couple of weeks, do one final load of laundry before I throw away all of our clothes so I never have to wash them again, and shop online for that thing I need that I can only seem to remember when I am nowhere near the computer. Seriously. There is some THING that I really need, some THING that will solve all my problems and make life one grand sweet song but I am damned if I can figure out what it is right now. I knew at three o'clock last night but now... gone again. Most annoying and in complete harmony with my new habit of wandering from room to room with no idea of where I was going or what I intended to do once I got there.

Apart from the obliteration of my short term memory I am doing quite well. I suppose. It is rare that I think lovingly of my lifelong insomnia but my ability to thrive on tiny amounts of sleep is treating me kindly these days. Although Caroline... um, I can barely even say it... Caroline has been sleeping through the night. It is the weirdest thing. Yesterday she slept from 11 to 6, today it was 10 to 5 and then she falls back asleep after being fed. This is so alien to my experience (I own every single sleep book ever published - seriously - and nothing ever worked with Patrick. ever) that I don't know what to do with myself. Imagine if she was my only baby - the mind boggles. Of course my sweet and chunky Edward is still up a few times every night so from my point of view Caroline's sleeping habits are more an item of trivia than anything but still... wow. She sleeps in the bassinet right next to the nursery chair and as I feed Edward I look at her puffing her little lips out as she dreams and I just shake my head.

Oh, I have to ask, to the billion or so people (most especially my local twin mom friend who repeated this point to me every single day of my pregnancy) who insist that the only way to survive two concurrent infancies is to get them on the same schedule: are you HIGH? Two babies needing to be fed and changed and burped and cuddled at the same time - ON PURPOSE? Caroline and Edward worked in sync for the first several weeks and it was really freaking hard. Not only is it almost impossible to feed two floppy babies at the same time but what do you do when reflux-y baby one is finished and needs to be burped and held upright but reflux-y baby two is still eating? Granted I suppose there is something to be said for only getting up one time per session rather than twice at unspecified intervals but criminey! You would need six hands. Oh. Oh right. I know what you are thinking, you are wondering where the father is in all this, aren't you? Well, maybe it's Stockholm Syndrome but I still think that it makes more sense for Steve to sleep all night. It's not his fault that a lack of sleep makes him both stupid and obnoxious whereas I only need to close my eyes for two hundred seconds every few days in order to be as scintillating and sweet as ever. If it was just that he becomes a complete tool when he is tired (and he does - ohhhh yes he does) I might be tempted to live with it and pour cold water all over him every time the babies wake up, but I cannot discount that his ability to string sentences together during the day is the only thing keeping me and the children from living under a stump somewhere. I do not support us all by blogging, you know. So it seems, I don't know, only fair that I should get the 11 to 7 shift in exchange for which he buys me tea and brownies. And most days at 7ish when I stagger into our bed he takes whoever is awake plus Patrick until he has to drive him to school a little before nine. Eh, it works for us.

So rather than doing any of the things I intended I have spent the morning playing with Patrick. Patrick who announced that today is Origami Day. ORIGAMI day? How... unusual. Actually the number of holidays that occur in the winter have spoiled Patrick, rather. Christmas, Valentine's, there was a hundredth day of school folderol that appealed to Patrick's numerical side... he has come to expect a thrill a minute, this kid. Which reminds me: he had Presidents' Day off and while I was sitting on the couch tending to the babies and humming tunelessly he walked over and looked at me for a bit.

"This isn't much of a holiday celebration," he complained.

I had to laugh. A pity that Presidents Day is really more about discounted furniture than childish wonder, isn't it?

But back to Origami Day. Patrick must've read a book on origami lately because he kicked off our morning by asking out of nowhere if I know how to make an origami crane.


Origami boat?


Box? Butterfly? ANYTHING?

No no n... wait. Yes! Some time in the depths of elementary school I learned how to make an origami ball. Would Patrick like to see it? Of course he would. I got paper and started folding, really talking myself up the whole time.  You know how you fold it and then fold it again and then tuck those bits under and then blow in the top and voila? Well, I thought it was cool.

Patrick looked at my offering and said, "Or!" and then took a piece of paper and crumpled it up.

"There! A paper ball!"

So I showed him how to make a fortune teller (aka cootie catcher aka whatever you called it in your part of the world) and wrote things in it like "You will go into space one day" and "You will travel around the world". I finally impressed him.

Game. Set. Match. Honors? Mine, thank you very much.

Oh and before I forget, Edward and Caroline were vaccinated yesterday and it really sucked. Not the shots so much as the subsequent crying and fevers last night. This is my two second take on immunizations: they terrify me. Although adverse reactions are rare, the idea of taking my healthy baby into the doctor and winding up on the wafer's edge of terrible statistics is truly alarming. We have family friends whose daughter received a bad vaccine at six months and has been institutionalized for the past forty years as a result. Gaaaaaaaah. So I worry about it. However, I am a firm believer in vaccinations as a matter of public health policy. While stories of individual tragedy exist it is impossible to argue against them on a global level. Routine vaccinations have made many previously common childhood diseases, diseases that can be fatal or permanently debilitating, rare to the point of near eradication. So I think it is important and I swallow the risks and hope like hell that nothing goes wrong. I am aware that in doing so I am not only helping to keep my kids safer but your kids too - whether or not you choose to vaccinate them - and I am fine with that provided you are just quietly grateful and don't bitch at me about it if you tend toward cranky on the subject. 

Of course I have only reached this point of greater goodness now that Edward and Caroline are back to their sunny placid selves. Last night when Edward was inconsolable for the first time in his life I was furious and hated everybody. All hail infant Tylenol, by the way.

Finally, for what it is worth I cannot post a comment at REDBOOK either. I wanted to leave Alyssa one because I accidentally posted on top of her and I have never figured out what the etiquette is... well, anyway, I get weird error messages too. Nor can I see the picture I put up. I expect they will fix it eventually. In the meantime, nothing like photos to pass the time, eh?

This is Patrick and Edward


This is Patrick telling Caroline and Edward about Alpha Centauri. They are riveted.


And Dreadward alone.


Wishing a very Happy Origami Day to you and yours.


After an absolutely great night (I love it when Caroline and Edward just wake up to eat and then fall promptly asleep again) I was all ready to go on an excursion today. The library maybe or even the Y. I had somehow forgotten that we belong to the Y until someone here suggested using the indoor track at a university and I thought, hey! indoor track! I wonder if we're still... and we are. Very good suggestion.

Which brings me to the subject of unsolicited advice and the apologies that almost always accompany it. Please don't. I mean, please don't apologize if you think of something and want to put it up here. Although I get the concept of assvice, I don't really. It seems to me that if I mention Edward's weak latch and you think oh! the nipple shield helped me with that and leave this fact in the comment section there are only a few possibilities: I have never heard of a nipple shield and I try it; I have heard of it and do not want to try it for some reason; or I have already tried it and it did not work for me. In any case it was a nice thought and if it is not relevant to me, personally,it probably can help someone else here (I did by the way try a nipple shield with Edward as a result of a comment [plus the lactation consultant had said it might be a good option] and it did help - so many thanks. Colicmommy, for another example, left two thoughtful and much appreciated comments recently in which she talked about general baby behavior around six weeks and what helps them to fall sleep or be soothed. In theory I have done this all before but in reality I never figured out how to get Patrick to sleep so I have no idea what the hell I am doing this time around either. When she mentioned that babies around this age can no longer just fall asleep without a little help it was like someone turned on the lights for me. I moved naps out of the living room and into the bedroom and as a result things are much calmer here during the day. Granted some days are spent going back and forth into one room or another to rock somebody, but it is better. So thank you and any time you want to make a suggestion about something feel free.

Where was I? Oh right, not going to the Y today because it is -4 degrees outside. You know what sucks? The only thing I did any research on whatsoever before having Caroline and Edward was infant car seats. Since Patrick is still in his big ol' side-impact-safe-booster-seat we needed to find baby seats that were slim enough to fit in the back seat with it. Two bog standard Graco's, for example, were too wide. So I looked online and discovered that the Chicco Keyfit 30 was narrower than other seats and bought two and they all do squeeze in back there, barely (we have a mid-size SUV, by the way, if you are trying to proactively deal with something similar). What I completely failed to consider, however, is that hauling two car seats around is painful. On my first and last trip to Target (just before the pediatrician appointment from hell, actually) I learned that you cannot fit two car seats into one shopping basket. Further, I learned that the Keyfit does not snap into the elevated part of a shopping basket at all. So I put heavy Edward's seat in the basket, the stuff I wanted to buy under the basket, and I carried Caroline around. I have not chosen to repeat this experiment because it hurt. My shoulder ached and I got bruises on the back of my leg where I kept hitting the seat against myself as I walked. The alternative to this is to take the babies out of the seats and put them into the stroller in the parking lot, but when it is this cold out that is simply insane if it is not absolutely necessary. I brooded on this dilemma for a while and finally remembered the snap n' go stroller base thing into which you can snap infant seats. It arrived yesterday and I was quite pleased until we discovered that the Keyfit does not work with it. So that was that and I continue to be stuck here. Unless you can think of something.

Edward is definitely seeing more. I dug the box of Patrick's baby stuff out of the basement and decided to try his old mobile on Edward's crib (nobody ever actually sleeps in the cribs but I like to keep sticking them in there for variety). Patrick never cared for it but Edward was entranced. He lay there with his head going back and forth as the mobile went around, watching for a very long time while the dangling things spun. He also seems to like the baby mirror I pulled out, so clearly he has some vision. Oh, and two days ago he looked directly at Caroline and smiled at her. This would have been an awwwww hand on your heart moment but for the fact that Caroline was screaming her head off at the time. Edward's first actual smile and it was malicious. At least we have identified which one is the sinister twin.

The thing with the cysts (for what it is worth but if my eye doctor sources are correct it is unlikely that any of you will deal with anything similar - iris cysts are rare, I hear) is this: they will not ever go away but they should also not get any bigger. The eyes, however, do get bigger so as the eye grows the impact of the cysts diminishes. Right now the cysts in Edward's eyes are blocking light to the retina but as he grows more and more light gets through. Our follow-up appointment in a month is to see (ahem) if he is getting enough light through on his own or if we will need to dilate his pupils with daily drops to widen them artificially. The absolute worst case scenario is that they would have to aspirate them at some point, which really is not that bad. So, I am not worried about it. And... how to say... you just have to deal with what you get. If Edward has vision problems then Edward will learn how to live with that. You have a baby and you want everything about them and for them and around them to be perfect perfect perfect but that isn't reality. He'll be fine, regardless.

Patrick starts FULL DAY KINDERGARTEN tomorrow (clang clang clang, as the steeple bells ring and the villagers cheer) so I am going to go appreciate his afternooness while I still can.

Baby pictures:

Caroline is amused


Edward is sleepy


Hope you are well.



In the past week Caroline and Edward have woken up, so to speak, and while it is a lot of fun to see them suddenly realize that there is a whole world out here; it is time consuming to be the wizard of that world. It is not as if they are suddenly hideously difficult or I am now doing that much more for them - they have just started needing to be relocated every few minutes when they are awake or they sort of... cruss (not quite crying but more aggressive than fussing - nice coinage, eh? EH? oh well). And while I know that they do sleep I cannot seem to pinpoint an hour or so during the day that they actually are sleeping. So that's what I have been up to lately - nothing; but it is a nothing that shifts with a baby or two in my arms from the living room to the kitchen to the laundry room ad infinitum.  

While Caroline was still in the NICU being fattened and Edward and I were maternity ward squatters, I would eat almonds and watch him sleeping peacefully in his hospital bassinet and wonder why in the bloody hell I had never just put the Infant Patrick DOWN. For some reason that I could no longer understand I carried Patrick everywhere with me. Seeing that Edward was perfectly content and yet not touching me in any way, I concluded that I must've been a moron, back in the day, not to realize how much easier it is to decant the baby every now and then. The first five weeks with C&E only served to cement this impression. I could wrap them tightly (or not! they weren't particular) in a stolen hospital blanket (the first textile manufacturer to make blankets of this size and weight available through retail will make a fortune - in the interim, hospital blankets will get taken by the cognoscenti who realize so-called receiving blankets are too small to be useful. necessity makes criminals of us all) and just walk away. They would stare or sleep or... I don't even know what they would do. That was the point. They were in the Pack n' Play and I was online ordering groceries. I got a lot done and I contemplated the outline for a book I clearly had time to write, working title - Parenting Twins: My God, How Easy It Is.

These past several days, though... wow. I am willing to cut the 2002 me a little slack. I probably carried Patrick around all the time because if I put him down he would cry. It was like his newborn brain constructed a flowchart in which every activity path except breastfeeding defaulted to misery. Edward and Caroline are a little more tolerant (so far) in that they do not need to be nursing twenty-four hours a day but they certainly have developed a preference for being pressed to my body. Or, failing that, for being shifted from the swing to the floor to a Boppy to the Day-Glo playmat to the etc. Well, Caroline likes the mat. Edward does not care for it so much, probably because he cannot see. At all, possibly, we think, if his follow-up appointment with the pediatric ophthalmologist is to be believed.

Is there a word that means "blind" but conveys that the blindness is a condition caused by iris cysts crowding the pupil and blocking the path of light going to the optic nerve but that it should resolve itself soon and that it might not even be blindness so much as an intense fuzziness?

I would be more concerned but for the fact that when I was rolling around on the floor with Patrick a few weeks ago we wound up in a beam of sunlight which caused Patrick's pupil to contract just at a moment when I was quite close to him. I realized that the margin between his iris and pupil is weird looking in both eyes - like Edward's although much less obvious. I brought him with me to Edward's appointment and casually mentioned this to the doctor who whipped out her whaddyacallit flashlight eye scope thing and checked him.

"No," she said, "no cysts."

"Really?" I asked. "Six o'clock in the right eye?"

So she pulled down the, um, thing that looks like a parking meter sort of, and looked again.

"Leave it to mom," she said. "Both eyes. But much fewer than Edward has."

A few days later I finally pinned Steve down in good light and studied his eyes to confirm my suspicion that all inherited problems stem from him. And guess what? Three for three.

As Patrick said, "The boys in our family all have cool eyes."

So I am not too worried that Edward will stay this Magoo'ish forever, but I do tend to look at him looking at things and wonder: what does he see? Color? Light vs. dark? Anything? Can he tell that I am smiling at him? Does he know that I think he is so cute I want to inhale him with my nose, my nose right here? You think I would have asked the ophthalmologist what she thinks the extent of his vision is right now but I was so busy doing my I Was Right About Patrick's Cysts dance that I forgot.                  

In other news, Edward is a total fatty and Caroline smiled at me for the very first time this morning, a big gummy grin. My heart pooled onto the floor.   

Hospitalized No More

I think what I felt so guilty about was not the fact that Caroline was sick, but that she was SO sick and I did not realize it and I felt like I should have. In the span of about three hours I answered questions about her condition from: the pediatrician's assistant, his nurse, the pediatrician, one of his partners, the paramedic, the ER nurse, the ER respiratory doctor, ditto that nurse, the ER admitting physician, the floor nurse, a third year med student, the resident and the attending physician. When I confessed for the tenth time that yes, she was wheezing; yes, she was lethargic; yes I suppose her suddenly copious spitting up could indeed be called "vomiting"; yes I DO see the way her ribcage is retracting now that you point it out... I felt like a two inch moron. I would, I swear it, I WOULD have brought her in to the doctor that day if we did not have her one month already scheduled, but it was hard to ignore the fact that I clearly should have brought her in the day before.

So I felt terrible about it until I read your comments sharing similar stories. Why I should find comfort in the fact that we are all neglectful bastards I do not know, but I truly did. So thank you. I was particularly relieved to see that I am not the first person to leave the doctor's office in an ambulance. That dramatic element had really been bothering me.

Hey speaking of thanks, I no longer remember who urged me to read "To Say Nothing of the Dog" but a big WOW! to you. I have had this book in my purse since before I had the babies and I finally started it in the emergency room. Love it, completely charming. Thank you. PS What in the bloody hell is a bird stump?

Edward is squawking again. Poor thing, he feels really lousy. I should go, REDBOOK post up if you want to read it.

Oh, and this is my public apology to Eli Manning for all the mean things I have ever said or thought about him since he refused to go to the Chargers: well played, young Manning, well played.

I think somehow the entire Giants Defense should have been MVP instead (maybe just Strahan?) but when Eli needed to get a touchdown he managed to do it; and even as Steve and I were predicting an interception on that last drive we were cheering him on. What a great Superbowl that was - hard not to love an upset. Steve kept listlessly saying "Go Packers" during the first three quarters - rather pathetic, actually.

Back later.   

PS Awww, I love it when you guys try to cheer me up with the gift of laughter. Just to clarify, though, in response to this "you're an idiot..bring your other child and exposing him to wonder God made it so difficult for you to have a baby, he realized what a loser you are": my unsupported theory has always been that Steve's translocation was caused by Marrakesh. But I suppose the God's Loser Punishment proponents might have their point, too.

Honestly, bringing Edward to the hospital was not ideal. But when you have two primarily breastfed newborns and one is hospitalized, what is ideal?