Thursday, March 29, 2012


My sister had twin girls three weeks ago.  I packed up my two kids and flew up here to Alaska to visit and help out as much as I could.  I feel a little useless since I have to deal with my own brood and can't wait on them hand and foot, but at the same time, I think it's good that they are getting only part-time help so they can transition to zero help once we're gone.

One thing that I have realized while being here is that when you have a baby, you go through the stages of grief.  What?  you say...  But you just had a precious baby!  How could you possibly be grieving?  Well, while you gain such a wonderful joy (or in my sister's case, TWO wonderful joys), you lose your former child-free life.  You can't get up and go to bed whenever you darn well please.  You can't go to the bathroom when you need to.  You can't randomly drive to the coast for a romantic weekend with just the clothes on your back.  You have to be home for nap time.  You can't leave sharp knives on the counter or fragile vases on the coffee table.  You need to keep sharpies locked up.  You really can't have anything nice in your house.

My sister and brother-in-law are in their 40's.  They have spent many years collecting very nice things in their home.  They have gotten used to doing what they want when they want to.  They have a dog who they love more than anything in the world.  They are grieving.

They have the first stage down -- Denial and Isolation.  Many times a day I hear "I just need more sleep," and "How can she be hungry already?"  They bought an iPad and have a program that tracks everything - feeding, sleeping, diaper changes, amount of milk pumped, etc.  J made a comment yesterday that they used to go four hours between feedings.  I replied that when they're brand new, they sleep a lot, so they nurse less.  When they start becoming more aware and staying awake for longer periods, they get hungry faster.  [Deer in headlights look from J].  "But don't worry," I reassured him, "As they get bigger, they will drink more at each feeding and spread out the time.  This is just the time they start needing more.  That's all."  [Deer in headlights look does not get any better.]  I think he changed the subject.

This morning, J came down to the kitchen while I was making pancakes.  He barely acknowledged me, and gave me short answers to my questions.  Having babies makes you feel quite isolated.  You don't think that anybody could possibly understand what you are going through.  Even those who have children, because they don't have YOUR children.  And when you have two at once, well, then you can easily talk yourself out of any help or advice from the parents of singlets.

Of course, with the stages of grief, you don't sit in one stage, then advance to the next and the next until you finally hit acceptance.  You wallow in one, jump up to another, fall back to the first, etc.  My sister hit the anger stage the other day.  J had left the house (I thought he had gone upstairs to the bedroom) to plow the drive and I was downstairs messing around on Facebook.  D came downstairs after a little while with a screaming baby.  I asked her if she needed anything.  She said "No.  I just need to grow two more arms."  She went upstairs and then I looked out the window and saw J.  Oh shit.  I failed.  I went upstairs to help her out.  She was in the middle of changing a diaper.  I talked her into using gDiapers because they are a cloth and disposable hybrid, so there is no plastic when you use the disposables, and since she has twins, the amount of diapers she's gonna go through is too high to even contemplate.  The thing is, when you change a newborn in g's, you need to set up the new diaper before you take the old one off.  My sister did not do this, and since I was remiss in my duties as the helper, she did not have any prestuffed with the disposable liner.  So one of the babies pissed and shat all over the changing table.  My sister lost it.

"I'm fucking done with these gDiapers!" She yelled, "I'm going out and buying Pampers tomorrow!"

And who can blame her?  She has two babies crying, she hasn't had a full night's sleep in months (because the last trimester of a twin pregnancy sucks sweaty balls), and she is still teaching an online class for the college.  What the what?!?!  Of course she's going to be angry about systems that are not working when she is still working this other job and has just been given the world's most difficult and stressful job.

While I adore gDiapers and will never use anything but, I knew this was not a time to lecture my sister about landfills and the environment.  I simply nodded and sighed with her, changed the girls' diapers, and helped get them back on the boobs.

Another thing my sister hates: the twin "My Breast Friend" pillow.  Why?  because when she has both babies on, she's completely restricted inside the pillow.  It wraps around her, giving her support everywhere, but if she forgets to move her water before she latches on, she's screwed.  Oh, and where's the remote?

Currently, I'm listening to my sister type on her computer upstairs as one of the girls cries.  J is trying to keep her calm while my sister finishes what she needs to do.  She's already said she just needs to quit her job because she can't get anything done.  I'm sure she'll hate her job this week (if she doesn't already) because of it.

I think it takes a couple years to hit acceptance.  I remember when E was 6 months old, I planned on going out for drinks with a friend of mine.  I wanted to get her to sleep before I left.  Babies seem to know when you have something important planned, so they don't cooperate.  I remember sitting on the floor crying, since I couldn't go out with my friend because the baby wouldn't sleep.  Damn kid!

Heck, even a year ago, when E was 2 1/2, I got bent out of shape because she came down with a fever the night of her school's Parent's Night Out auction and fundraiser.  I remember telling my husband "If we didn't have kids, we'd be able to go!"  I was so mad, because I couldn't remember the last time we were able to go out.  He responded "Honey, if we didn't have kids, there would be no Parent's Night Out."  Oh yeah.

I hope in the next week and a half I can help my sister and brother-in-law through some of this.  I know they feel isolated and want to do as much on their own as possible.  That's what new parents do.  After all, isn't asking for help a sign of weakness?  And, if they ask for help now, how will they be able to handle things once I leave?  I want to call bullshit on that, but it's hard to bust in and say "Hey, fuck you!  I'm helping you out because I love you, and this is what you need."  I'm not Type A enough.  Maybe I need to be.  I'll try that tomorrow and see where it gets me.  Until then, I'll let them grieve for their former selves tonight, and hope they feel a little better in the morning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dr. Google

The internet is a wonderful thing.  You no longer need to keep a set of Encyclopedia Britannica in your house and continuously update it as the years pass.  You simply log onto the computer, pull up Google, type in your search and voila!  It's great to find out what the internal temperature of a chicken should be before you serve it, how late the Fred Meyer down the street is open, or what's playing at the movies this week.  Today, however, Ive been grappling with the idea of using Google to diagnose my children's illnesses.

I am extremely guilty of this, and I am not proud.  However, with things being the way they are in the medical field, it's difficult not to.  For example, when we were unsure whether or not my daughter had chicken pox (there was an outbreak at school and one Sunday we noticed some spots on her torso), we took her to one of those strip mall urgent care centers.  The "doctor" (I put it in parenthesis because she was a Physicians Assistant) on duty flipped through a book to find a picture of chicken pox, and used that to confirm that she did not have chicken pox.  We paid a $25 co-pay.  The bill to insurance?  $300.  I went home thinking I could have found better photos on Google Images for free.

So yesterday, after allowing my son to learn what happens when you crawl off a surface that is elevated three inches above the floor, I found myself consulting Dr. Google to find out if he had broken his nose.  There was some bleeding, but it stopped rather quickly, and he didn't seem any more upset when I messed with his nose than he is normally.  But I was worried, and rather than calling the advice nurse or going in to the doctor (because he's my second child, and who worries about such things with the second child?), I spent over an hour perusing baby and parent Q&A boards trying to glean a good answer to my question.  I didn't get a definitive answer to my question.  I wouldn't get that unless I actually took him to the doctor for an exam.

I did learn a few things about myself and Dr. Google, though.  Many of the answers on the boards strongly urged the parents to take their children in for an exam if they suspect the nose to be broken.  I realized that I didn't suspect my child's nose to be broken.  I realized that I simply wanted reassurance that I'm not a shitty mom who lets her kid hurl himself through space and time, getting a few bumps, bruises and nosebleeds along the way.  When I truly am concerned for my child's health, I take him in.  I took him to urgent care a few months ago because he had a fever that had lasted nearly four days.  I took my daughter in when I thought she might have chicken pox.  I took my daughter in when she ate applesauce and it came out the other end looking exactly like applesauce.

I'm not a shitty mom.  I just feel that way sometimes.  Thank you, Dr. Google, for reassuring me that I'm OK.

Monday, March 19, 2012

From the Mouths of Babes

Last night at bedtime, E and I were talking about babies, since my sister just had twins and babies are on her mind a lot right now.

"When I'm a grown-up, I can have babies," she said.
"Yes!  When you're a grown-up, you can have babies of your own.  Would you like that?"
"Yes, but only when I'm a grown-up," she replied.  My heart jumped with joy at her sense of responsibility at such a young age.
"And when you have babies of your own, you will love them so much, and they will be the best thing in your life!" I suggested.
"Mommy...Where's your brain?"

Perfect delivery, and just another reason why I love her.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hello Blogosphere!

My mom keeps telling me I should blog about my life, my kids, and the awesome products I use for such things (life and kids).  I have finally decided to follow her advice, which I rarely do since she's my mother.  But, I like to write, and I like my life and kids, so why not put those two together?

So, let's start with a little back story to catch you up on my life up 'till now...  Until 2003, I never spent more than 3 years in any one place (besides the town where I grew up and my college).  I thru-hiked two, yes TWO, long-distance trails: the Appalacian and the Pacific Crest.  I also held down a variety of jobs: waitress, tax reclaim administrator, database administrator, early childhood teacher.  Let's just say I never let the grass grow under my feet.

Then I met my husband (while hiking the PCT), moved to Portland, Oregon, got married, got a house (crappy condo), got my Master's, got a job, got a car, got knocked up, got a second car, got knocked up again.  Other things happened in between, but that's the gist of it.  We can talk about those other things as we get to know each other.  Anyway, it's been nine, yes NINE years since I hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and started a new route toward "settling down."  I wouldn't change it for the world.

Children screw up your life in so many wonderful ways.  When I was pregnant with my first, I just assumed I would continue with my life, only that it would be my life with baby.  Now that I have two, there is no me anymore.  At least not the me that was.  I like the new me, and I love my little family.  I love all the people I have met and become friends with because of the little Belchigators.  I hope you all feel the same as you meet them through my stories.