Category Archives: twins

Sleep

I promised a sleep post, but there are a lot of sleep posts out there. The truth is every baby is different, and there is nothing you can read that will change that. I know that’s not much comfort when you’re climbing out of your bed for the fifth time in one night. I know how badly I wanted a solution to my kids’ terrible sleep patterns. But my conclusion is that there is not much that can be done about how a baby sleeps. Here’s how I know that: I raised two babies, under exactly the same conditions at the exact same time, who sleep so differently you’d think they were raised on opposite ends of the earth.

So let me tell you about sleep according to Baby A. My daughter.

My daughter was a cluster-feeder. For three or four hours every evening she needed to be on the breast. She would scream bloody murder if I tried to take her off. She would fall asleep at the breast, and then, unconscious, finally roll off. By 5 or 6 months though, she was only waking up about twice a night. She slept beside me, and I would watch as she would kick her legs and kneed the blanket, trying to figure out how to fall asleep. And then, miraculously, around 8 months, I slept in the spare room one night, and she did not wake up once. Like so many articles said, by sleeping next to her, I was, perhaps, hindering her ability to sleep through the night. She slept through every night after that, and I would place her in her crib, drowsy but awake, and close the door to her room, only to go back in 12 hours later to my well-rested little munchkin.

Here is sleep according to Baby B. My son.

My son slept fairly well until he was about four months old. Then – growth spurt? Teeth? Developmental milestone? – he could not go more than 45 minutes without waking up. And he would not go back to sleep without nursing. By 12 months, he was waking up every 2 hours, and I considered that an improvement. He would only go to sleep with nursing and rocking. He needed to be sound asleep when he was put back in his crib, or he would jump up screaming. I stopped co-sleeping with him when he was 6 months old because he would just head-butt me and practice crawling all night long. One night, when he was around 10 months old, I spent the night at my best friend’s bachelorette party out of town, and my husband rocked that boy from 10pm until 5am. He would not go to sleep without nursing. There were times when we would let him cry. And I promise you, I PROMISE you, there was no crying it out for this boy. I have no doubt that he would’ve screamed all night long. By the time he was 18 months old, and I was heading back to work, I night-weaned him slowly over the course of a month. We talked about it a lot. I explained what was happening to him. And he finally, finally slept through the night. I don’t think it would have happened a moment earlier than it did. My son needed that time to figure out his sleep. He was such a busy guy during the day that I think he needed the night-nursing, to reconnect and get in some cuddle time.

My son napped hard. During the day, I could pop him into the pack ‘n’ play in the middle of the living room and he would be OUT. Later, it was a quick nurse and rock, and he would sleep for hours in his crib for 3 (or more) naps. My daughter required me. I gave up trying to get her to nap alone. My best bet was to wear her in a carrier until she nodded off, and then lower myself onto the couch for an hour of TV. If I was very lucky, I would wear her on my back, and once she was sleeping, I could transfer her onto the bed so that I could get a bit of alone time. My best memories of their early naps are when I would strap them into the car, drive around aimlessly until they were asleep, and then get myself a latte and chocolate chip cookie from the Starbucks drive through.

Now, at two and half years old, my son sleeps like a champ, asking to get into his crib for nap and bedtime. With my daughter it’s a bit of a negotiation to get her to finally lie down and sleep, and there are multiple sips of water, trips to the potty and songs. Her afternoon nap only has a 50% success rate.

When you read articles about how a child should “learn” to sleep, and what you should or should not be doing, remember that they are just that author’s experience. Follow each sentence of the article’s advice with “…if it’s right for your child.” For example, Help your child learn to fall asleep if it’s right for your child. Co-sleep if it’s right for your child. Put your child in a dark room with white noise if it’s right for your child. Night-nurse if it’s right for your child. So much of this is trial and error, but the only advice that should be apply, is the advice that is right for YOUR child.

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Detaching

Winter babies!

Winter babies!

I will be back at work in one week. My babies are 17 months. I have been practicing “attachment parenting” for that long – bed-sharing for 8 months, baby-wearing every day, breastfeeding on demand – and now I have to let go. Now I have to push myself away and untangle myself from their little toddler world. This is day 3 of Detachment Parenting.

 

I am sitting in a coffee shop, typing on my laptop, which is fun. I feel like I’m 21 again, when I used to scribble away in coffee shops in Montreal, except it’s not 2am and no one smokes any more.

 

I feel like I’m forgetting something. I look around constantly, trying to think of what’s missing. I’m slightly on edge, I feel out of place and disoriented.

 

It took so much energy to figure out this motherhood thing. Learning how to get through a day with two infants, now two toddlers. Finding that rhythm, figuring out how not to go crazy, searching out connections through Facebook or twin groups, stressing over the dishes and laundry that wasn’t getting done, the cooking that wasn’t happening. And then it’s over. I’m going back to work, and a whole new way of living will have to be discovered.

 

I’m not happy about it. But I’m not unhappy about it either. I have images of leisurely coffees, solo bathroom breaks, maybe some adult conversation… But the mother in me is aching. My body is aching. My body remembers the little things that lived inside of me, that fed from me. That needed me every second of every day.

 

Something about it just seems so over. I no longer mourn not having had only one baby. I am proud and thankful for the experience that I had. It was the.hardest.thing. I will ever do. It was so intense, so all consuming. But I have emerged a better person, I’m more aware of my place in this world, what is important and what is not. But, BUT…because it all happened at the same time, it’s all over with at the same time too. We only want two children, that’s what works for us. I spent 32 years thinking about having babies, and now babyhood is over. My body is mine again, my toddlers walk and run, talking is on the tip of their tongues, they are funny and kind, they get angry and sad. They are their own little people.

 

When Jude was nursing 3 or 4 times a night, and I would be rocking him, half asleep, so exhausted, I would tell myself to enjoy it. I would tell myself that it would be over soon. It’s a really really hard thing to believe at 3am when all you want to do is sleep. But now I’m so glad I did. I took a long mental picture of every snuggle, the way he would clasp his hands while he nursed. The way he wouldn’t let his eyes close fully. The way his feet pushed against the chair. The way he would wiggle back into his crib when he was done.

 

I wrote previously about how it was both horrible and beautiful. The amazing thing about motherhood is that slowly, the horrible falls away, and all you remember is the beautiful.

 

So I have chosen the pictures I will be putting up in my office. I savor how happy they are when I return home in the afternoon. I am holding them extra tight as we enter our final months of breastfeeding, and I am letting myself feel the sadness and joy of watching my children grow up.

 

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I will be taking my blog in a new direction with my return to work. I am noticing the need for more conversation around food for children, and I am so excited to get back into the details of what I’m feeding my vegetarian babies! I will probably retire this blog, and begin something new, so please stay tuned!

 

Sarah xoxo


All About Boob: Part 2

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, mostly because after this article came out, I realized that I am extended breastfeeding. It sort of snuck up on me. The one year mark has passed, and we are still going strong on the boob. When I was pregnant with twins, and when they were newborn, the message I got was loud and clear: It is very very difficult to breastfeed two babies exclusively or for a long period of time. I didn’t set out to prove it wrong. In fact, my breastfeeding success is mostly due to the fact that I am lazy. In the beginning, the thought of preparing formula, or pumping seemed like so much work, that I just decided to go for it. It definitely wasn’t easy, and now that Thea’s teeth have come in, it’s pretty obvious that she has an undiagnosed upper lip tie, which probably led to a lot of the problems I had. I was sore for months. MONTHS. Couldn’t stand under the shower, sore. Couldn’t lie on my stomach to sleep, sore. Took a lot of Tylenol sore. But slowly, we all figured it out, and now that we have it down, I don’t want to give it up!

I never imagined I would be nursing toddlers, but here we are. I’m slated to head back to work in February, so I’m hoping by then we’re down to only nursing before bed, but that seems unlikely given my little girl booby-monster.

Booby Monster

Booby Monster

 

Jude feeds less, really just before nap and bed…and 2 or 3 times during the night.

As a believer in Attachment Parenting, I’m trying to find the balance right now – basically of how to un-attach myself a bit. Extended breastfeeding definitely makes that more difficult. I can’t leave Dad in charge of bedtime or nap time, because they need boob to go down. And with two, I’m still really feeding every 3 or 4 hours. So that’s not a lot of alone time. But all that said, here’s my list of why extended breastfeeding rocks:

1. Instant soother – bumps, scrapes, fingers caught in doors, teething, colds, you name it, booby fixes it!

2. Cuddle time – Jude is just too busy for much cuddling, but when it’s booby time, he nuzzles in and I get my cuddle fix from him.

3. Nutrition – They pretty much eat everything now, but sometimes I worry that I’m getting all their nutrition in. At least I know they are still getting breast milk, so I don’t stress too much…yet!

4. Weight loss – I know, it’s pretty vain, but I’m burning 1000 calories a day breastfeeding these two! So I can enjoy guilt-free Starbucks lattes! (Mmm…peppermint mocha…)

5. Breastfeeding Embassador – I had NO idea how to breastfeed. I hadn’t really seen anyone else doing it. Now that it’s so easy and natural, I like showing other new moms how great it is, especially mom’s of multiples, since as I said, we aren’t given much hope that it will go well.

I know that not everyone can breastfeed, and that formula or pumping or a combination is a great option for some. Breastfeeding has been such an unexpected part of my parenting experience. I hadn’t really given it much thought, other than knowing that I wanted to try it. Looking ahead, I’m not sure how long we’ll go. I would love it if they self-weaned when they were ready, but I know that they need to be able to go all day without me when I’m back at work, so my goal right now is to make it to 18 months. And maybe I’ll be able to fit back into my old bras one day!

My toddlers

My toddlers


Baby carrots: green pâté!

Green pâté recipe:

1 cup chickpeas
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 handful kale, washed and de-stemmed

Purée with a blender wand and spread on un-salted rice cakes. They loved it!

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Baby Carrots: What I’m feeding them

My blog has been on a bit of detour while I’ve been pregnant/nursing, because I honestly haven’t really been thinking about food. I know I should have been a pillar of health consciousness, but I haven’t been. I’m human. And I like cake, and french fries, and cream cheese. So I’ve been giving myself a break and I haven’t been thinking about it.

Until now.

Now, I have two little mouths to feed and food choices are a very prickly reality that I find I need to think about. All. The. Time.

So far, my babies are these perfect little vessels that have never had meat, or dairy, or sugar, or wheat, or gluten, or gelatin, or rennet, or modified soy ingredients, or red dye #2. The task of deciding what to put into them is daunting.

I’m typing this sitting on my driveway while they sleep in the car with the windows down, so I’ll be brief. I’m going to outline what I’m feeding them now, and why, and I think I’ll make this a bit of a series as what I’m feeding them changes and develops.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I gave them brown rice cereal at 4.5 months, because my doctor suggested it might help them sleep. It did not. But I was still breastfeeding, so I figured it couldn’t hurt. I’ve since read a lot to suggest it MIGHT hurt – the WHO now recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months – but what’s done is done, and my mom keeps telling me how parents used to feed babies Pablum at 6 weeks back in the day, so I’m not stressing over it. For the first few weeks I fed them brown rice cereal, pureed banana, pureed avocado and pureed poached apple. I started bringing in some pureed vegetables, oat cereal and barley cereal, and by the time they were 6 months, they were also eating sweet potato, zucchini and tentatively, toast wedges.

And all was well. No allergies, no change in behaviour, no diarrhea (although the poop changes. Oh how the poop changes…). So then I got bold and started just giving them food. Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots (all steamed), toast with coconut oil spread on it, oatmeal, vegetable soup broth. Pretty much the plain version of whatever I was eating. I know it’s not exactly baby-led weaning (just google it, takes too long to explain, and EVERYONE has an opinion on it…). I just decided not to stress over it. I’m keeping sugar to a minimum (there was some molasses in the bread I gave them), and I’m steering clear of dairy and eggs for now.

So about meat. I’m petrified of them having it. I know that it’s going to come up, but the thought of them eating dead animal will bring me to tears if I think about it too much. I don’t even think my husband knows yet how strongly I feel about it. No one’s asked me about it yet, and I know at some point in their lives I’m going to have to let go, but it saddens me, and pains me.

And that’s where we’re at. Letting go and not following a particular baby food philosophy has worked really well for us. I’m feeding them three meals a day now, but I’m not being sticky about what time it’s at. They are still breastfeeding like champs, and “food before one is just for fun” so I’m trying to keep it fun. They love to eat, they watch us eat with so much interest, and they get really excited at meal times. And that’s how I want to keep it. Interesting, fun and exciting.

More to come!

Wasn't too sure about broccoli the first time...

Wasn’t too sure about broccoli the first time…

Loves broccoli!

Loves broccoli!


Myths about infant(s)

Myth: Put your baby down for a nap as soon as he shows signs of being tired; a yawn or an eye rub for example.

Truth: Your baby might be ready to sleep right away…or you might have to rock him for 45 minutes while he gnaws on his soother like it’s a cigar and intermittently swipes at your face.

Myth: sleep begets sleep, in other words, if your baby has a nice long 2 hour nap, he will have a nice deep sleep that night.

Truth: Remember that 2 hour nap fondly as you rock your baby at warp speed in the glider at 3am…

Myth: a bit of rice cereal in the evening will fill him up and help him have a nice long sleep without needing to nurse.

Truth: no it won’t. That is all.

Myth: developing a good bedtime routine will signal to your child that it’s bedtime. Try warm bath, songs, reading a book.

Truth: your baby is humouring you. He knows what’s coming and is preparing for a long night of battling sleep. Bath makes no difference other than they smell a bit nicer when they are clinging to your shoulder at midnight wailing like a banchee. You can try reading to them, but in my experience they just get frustrated when you don’t let them eat the book. Why title a book Each Peach Pear Plum if it’s not edible?!

Myth: having a solid routine will offer stability, so that they know what to expect and will be comfortable with bedtime.

Truth: except when they are teething. Or reaching a developmental mile stone. Or going through a growth spurt. Or separation anxiety. Or when a western wind is blowing.

Myth: make sure you take time for yourself to recharge.

Truth: because when you get back from the spa you will have a baby who might never forgive you for leaving, and will express his displeasure with at least one sleepless night.

Myth: you will forget all the bad stuff about infants, only remember the snuggles and tiny fingers and toes, and inevitably pop out another.

Truth: if I go through this again it’s not because I’ve forgotten the lack of sleep and never-ending days, it’s because I’m a glutton for punishment and I might have joined a masochist cult or something.

Love you babies!

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Sickies

So the littles are sick. Like, horrible rattling cough, snotty faces, whining, tired, miserable sick.

Two sick babies mean mommy and daddy don’t sleep.

And not “don’t sleep” as in “oh, my baby was up all night, he only slept for like 5 hours” sort of don’t sleep. No, that IS sleep my friends. No sleep is rocking a wheezing baby in a rocking chair for 4 hours because he won’t let you put him down, and hearing another baby stirring in the next room, after it took her an hour and a half to fall asleep two hours earlier…

That is no sleep.

No sleep is putting the sick baby in his crib and telling your husband, I can’t, because it is dawning on you that not only have you been rocking sick, snotty babies all day, and all night, but in 3 hours you’re going to have to do it for another whole day.

No sleep is crying silently because if you wake a baby you might throw up.

Okay, that’s a bit melodramatic.

But not untrue.

They will get better. They will sleep. The snot will dry up. But right now? Mommy and daddy are wondering how the human race has survived this long.

And I’m pretty sure daddy is making an appointment for snip snip.

That is all.

Sarah

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