Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sabrina died: a twin mom remembered

I don't like sad news, but sometimes it serves as a necessary reminder.
This is sad news.
A fellow member of the Baby Center community died July 2.
Her name was Sabrina.
She was mom to 5-month-old identical twin boys and a son who is 5.
Sabrina died of an infection she contracted a month after the twins were born. The infection spread to her brain and caused a heart attack. Her husband, Andres, has launched a memorial blog where all who knew her can post remembrances for her children to read when they are older.
Sabrina lived in Argentina and most of the posts are in Spanish.
But many who plan to post will be writing in English.
When I first read her husband's announcement, I was having a particularly frustrating day.
Jonathan and Matthew were on a stripping streak. Every time I got them back into diapers and clothes, they'd announce that they wanted to use the potty and strip again.
Sometimes, they really did use the potty.
But most of the time, they just ran around naked.
They needed a nap, but getting them to sleep during the day in their big-boy beds was next to impossible. I felt like I was neglecting my older kids, who had spent most of the morning taking turns on their computer.
I was feeling sorry for myself because I never seem to have time to write or run.
Then I read about Sabrina.
And I was reminded.
It's cliche, I know.
But all I could think of then and all I can think of now is that life is good.
Life really is very, very good.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Potty training: where one goes, the other will follow

Jonathan has always let Matthew take the lead in all things physical.
When Matthew was learning to crawl, Jonathan sat aloof, unmoving, in the center of the living room floor and watched. He watched for weeks as Matthew learned to fall from sitting position onto his belly, lift himself up onto his hands and knees, rock back and forth and then, finally, propel his body in different directions.
Two days later, Jonathan was at least as fast as his brother.
It was the same scenario for rolling over, sitting up and walking.
So I supposed I shouldn't be surprised that Jonathan shows no interest in potty training while Matthew is obsessed.
It started at the sitter's three days ago and Matthew's obsession has grown each day since.
This morning, he refused all potty seats and the toilet insert. Instead, he propped himself up on the big toilet and, for almost two hours, he sat and peed and sat and peed, watching Once Upon a Potty over and over.
He missed a few times and he didn't quite get there for number 2 (though he knew it was coming and he tried), but he had three or four successes (He drinks a lot.). Meanwhile, his brother sat on the sofa, aloof and unmoving, drinking milk.
For a moment, I thought Jonathan might join in. He stood up, pulled off his shorts and peeled off his diaper with an eager look on his face. I pointed him toward a potty seat and he moved forward, right past it to the Cars pull-up that lie on the floor next to it.
He handed me the pull-up and his shorts and said, "Cars? On?"
So I helped Jonathan into his pull-up, gave him more milk and turned back to Matthew, who was alternating toilet-flushing with toilet-sitting and hand-washing. Matthew was, once again, taking on the physical burden for his identical twin.
But he didn't seem to mind and, although Jonathan's eyes appeared glued to the little cartoon Joshua who was sitting on a little cartoon potty, I'm sure I saw his eyes shift to the bathroom every now and then.
So, for now, I'll focus on teaching Matthew.
And I'll let the brothers work out the rest.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Are they natural?

I logged onto my favorite online forum for parents of twins the other day and I couldn't believe what I saw.
On the first page of recent posts, there were three new threads.
One was a lengthy thread of vents from women who were tired of being asking whether their twins were "natural." Another was a poll created by a fellow member asking others whether their twins were conceived naturally or through fertility treatments. The third asked the same question, but not in poll form.
I usually avoid those threads all together.
People have a million reasons for asking that question (They are undergoing fertility treatments, they are concerned about a family history of twins, they are struggling for something to say while their eyes are fixed on our adorable babies, they are just plain curious). But rarely is the reason malicious.
I'm not bothered.
So I don't bother with the threads.
But this situation piqued my interest.
I opened the two threads in which board members posed the question to each other. I expected rants. I expected anger. I expected virtual riots between those who spontaneously conceived and those who underwent fertility treatments.
There were none.
Those who conceived with the help of drugs or IVF told of their struggles, their tears, and their gratitude to have not just one baby, but two. Those who conceived spontaneously told of their shock, their family histories, their glee.
Not even the teeniest bit of irritability.
So I opened the vent thread.
Many of these same women, these women who so cordially and eagerly answered the same question for each other, expressed outrage that anyone--family, friends or strangers--would even dare ask.
All babies are "natural," they argued, even those conceived through fertility.
So, I wonder.
Why is it okay for strangers (because, really, no matter how long you've known someone through an online forum, that person is still a stranger) who might also happen to have twins (How do you even know that other person is who he or she claims to be?) to ask how our twins were conceived on an online forum, when the same question is concerned taboo, rude or unbelievably inconsiderate if asked in person?
My conclusion is that some women just love to get angry and they love to tell others how angry they got. They seek out confrontation where there is none and then they feed off of it for the rest of the day, sometimes the rest of the week.
And this might just be the way some twin moms deal with the stress.
It's a non-issue for these particular women in an online setting. They can answer honestly because they have no desire to destroy the relationship. They need the other moms on the forum. They have an investment in the online "friendships," where they can hide behind usernames, never revealing their real-life selves.
Beside, confrontation is more fun when it's face-to-face.
For the record, not all identicals are spontaneous (depending on our definition of spontaneous). Many sets of higher-order multiples include sets of identical twins. The identical twinning is an indirect result of the treatments (Treatment aid fertilization and implantation, and the eggs just happened to split), but still, chances are that those identical twins would not be here without the help of modern medicine.
So if you ask "the question" of a triplet mom or a quad dad or even parents of octuplets and you get a puzzled look in return, try to be understanding. It's a long story and perhaps they are just wondering whether they have the energy to answer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The big-boy bed disaster: can't they make bigger cribs?

We finally made the move and it's been horrible.
Matthew and Jonathan are in big boy beds.
I was hoping to keep them in cribs until they turned 18, but nothing was working anymore. We'd brought the crib mattresses down as low as they could go and we clothed them in big-kid sleep sacks, but still, they managed.
They managed so well that I found Jonathan perched on the highest wall of his crib the other day at nap time and I watched, unable to reach him on time, as he leaped into Matthew's crib.
It was terrifying.
So I bought beds and had them set up within five hours.
Trouble is that these two feed off each other.
Their similar temperaments mean they are similarly wild.
In their cribs, they jumped up and down simultaneously until they simply couldn't do it anymore and they crashed. In their beds, they do the same thing except now there are no crib rails to confine them.
Now, they jump off the bed, or from one bed to the other.
Now, they get out of bed, open dresser drawers, climb them and pull their lullaby CD from its player.
Now, they dump laundry out of the basket and scatter it all over the floor.
Now, they don't nap and it's draining to put them to bed at night.
We tried lying down with them. (We can spare only one person at a time because we do, after all, have two older kids.) They step on our tummies, our faces, our legs. When we are settling one, the other makes a beeline for the door.
We tried putting them down every time they got up without saying a word. That worked with our older kids. The older kids gave up after they realized they weren't going to get attention for their antics.
Not so with these guys.
They get giggles out of each other.
And that's enough attention for them.
So now we lock them in like prisoners.
We give them some toys, listen for any sounds of true disaster and pray that they will be okay.
When all is quiet, we go in and pick them up off the floor or straighten their little bodies on their beds, and change their diapers. Then we cover them up and lock the door again only to find them standing in those dresser drawers again as soon as we hear the first peep over the monitor in the morning.
Yes, the dresser is attached to the wall, but it might loosen. It might give way.
Yes, they eventually fall asleep at night, but they wake at the crack of dawn and, without naps, their personalities are not so pleasant anymore. My "good-natured terrors" are losing their good natures.
Yes, we should consider separate rooms for naps, but we don't have the space right now and we definitely don't have the childproofed space.
So, I guess all I can do right now is keep trying to get them to bed even earlier, duct-tape the dresser drawers every night and have patience. Have patience that the days will grow shorter again and they will sleep longer. Have patience that as they get older, they will need less sleep. Have patience that their good natures will once again take over.
Now I just have to figure out how to find that patience.