progress in sleep, PT, babies babbling

Definite progress has been made! Last night our nanny put Joanna down, and after one small whimper she was asleep in under a minute. And then she whimpered once at 3 am, and didn’t wake up again until 5:55 am. I got her down again 10 minutes later, and she slept until 7:52 am. Emily slept from 9:30 pm to 4:45 am, and then until 7:52 am. So, if only I was able to get myself to sleep at 9:30 pm, I’d have had a nice long stretch. As it was, I probably slept from 11:30 pm to 3 am. After that I was in that tense when-are-they-going-to-wake-up place, so didn’t get a ton more sleep. It was a good night for the babies, though, and that’s a big deal. The other big plus was that my idea of putting the crib mattress next to the bed worked out well. In the morning I found that Emily had rolled over onto it and was sound asleep. That is much better than her bonking her head on the bamboo floor and waking up crying. So today I went and got a couple more crib mattresses so that we’ll have the one for Hazel in her toddler bed and the two to cushion the floor around the babies’ mattress, then to be placed in toddler beds when they’re ready for them.

Tonight I’ll have to get them down by myself. That will be the next big test.

I went in to my PT appointment this morning, and found that I really have gotten stronger. I can do squats on a bosu now, not big ones, but nothing I could even contemplate a couple months ago. Stairs aren’t a big deal any more, though my knee never feels normal and solid, but I think it will, especially if I start doing my exercises more often.

My nanny thinks that Emily said, “Uh-oh!” today. I thought that she said, “Yeah!” the other day. She’d definitely vocalizing more and more. It’s so fun to listen to both of them giggling, cooing, babbling.

Departure, practicing, sleep training

Today Ted and Hazel left for their trip to see my mother-in-law. Normally, these days anyway, we try to get all our packing done a few days in advance, just to make the run-up to the trip simpler and less hectic. There’s so much going on right now, though, that we didn’t manage it this time. Ted did do a load of the clothes the day before that he and Hazel were going to want, but it got started late enough that packing had to happen on the day of. Luckily, they didn’t really need that much, and one carry-on plus Hazel’s roll-on bumblebee suitcase was plenty of capacity.

We got up a bit early, feeling that we had a reasonable amount of time for getting ready, breakfast, and getting them out the door. It’s funny, though, mornings often feel as though there is some sort of invisible time-sucking vortex whirling around the house. We get up, surface, play with the babies, start making breakfast, and then, Boom!, it’s time for Ted to be leaving for work, or I have a student arriving in 15 minutes, or we’ve got to get Hazel out the door to school. This morning we didn’t make the departure time Ted had mentioned the night before, but when I looked up alternatives, we found a bus leaving in 6 minutes. So, there was a mad scramble to get them going, (“Can I have a goodbye hug, Hazel?” “No!, we have to go!”) but they made it. And they took the bus to the train, to the airport, a process Hazel really loved. This trip will offer lots of chances for wonderful Daddy-Hazel time, one benefit of it.

After they were gone I did some cleaning up, and then, in contravention of Emily’s Baby Manifesto, Section IV Paragraph 3, I Took A Shower. This is an action of which she is in complete and vocal disagreement. Whenever I do that when it’s just me and the babies, she expresses her disapproval, starting in the moment that I turn on the water. She proceeds to cling to the edge of the bathtub, and cry and scream herself red in the face, gazing at me with such an accusation of betrayal you’d think I’d left her alone for at least a month or two. So my showers in those circumstances are short.

Once my nanny arrived I zipped off to my PT appointment, only to discover that I’d got the time wrong, and missed it. grrr. However, they nicely worked me in tomorrow morning, so my inner quads will have a chance to get zapped into submission after all.

Then I did some rearranging in our bedroom, attempting to remedy the situation in which one or both of the babies fall off their mattress in the middle of the night and wake up crying. I took Hazel’s crib mattress off her toddler bed and put it in between the babies’ mattress and our bed, and took another smaller pads and put them in between the toddler bed and the end of their mattress. If this arrangement works, I’m going to go buy one more crib mattress tomorrow (it’s pretty likely that we’ll have two toddler beds set up in a year or so, and we’ll need the second mattress then) to replace the cobbled-together smaller pads. I’m hoping that with a much smaller drop and onto an actual bed surface rather than onto hard bamboo floor, the babies will learn not to wake up when they roll off the mattress, and with therefore not wake us up either. We’ll see how it goes.

Today I had a two hour gap between my last two students, so I brought my cello. I enjoyed playing some duets with my students, and then I had some time to practice. I have started working on the Elgar Cello Concerto, something I spent time with last when I was in high school. I’m really enjoying coming back to it with more skills. The second movement is marked 160 beats per minute. It’s quite fast, and I can’t do it anywhere close to that tempo yet. But I’m going to get it. I never got all the way up there when I was a kid, and doing it now will be very satisfying.

After lessons I came home, just in time for the bedtime routine. Our nanny who worked for us last summer and saved our new-parents-of-twins butts is spending a good chunk of the weekend helping me out, given that Ted and Hazel are gone during the sleep training of the babies. So, I nursed them, and then she and I sang and read the nighttime books to them. We do, “Row, row, your boat”, the ABC song, and “Frere Jacques”, the first and last as rounds. And then we read “Haiku Baby“, “Green Start: The Five Senses”, and “Goodnight Moon”, a book of which I never tire. Then we carry the babies into the sleeping room, tell them it’s time to go to sleep, and lay them down on their bed. Tonight, astoundingly, there was one whimper from Joanna, and then she fell asleep within a minute of being laid down. !! It took many repetitions of soothing, picking up, putting down, and singing, but Emily also fell asleep, in about 25 minutes. Right now the nanny is upstairs with them while I hang out downstairs writing this blog. I’ll go upstairs in a bit to relieve her. She has to get up super early in the morning to help take her sister to school, so she’ll sleep in the spare bedroom/playroom upstairs and I’ll call her if I have to, but otherwise will let her be and handle whatever night wakings that occur myself.

I have been scared of these five days on my own, but it’s also nice to have some time to be with the twins, just the three of us. I want to enjoy the time as much as I can, appreciating the incredible sweetness of my wonderful, adventurous, playful babies. I am so lucky to have them.

further sleep training, zoo visit, Madsen modifications

Last night was hard. Emily cried for a long time, and we had a hard time figuring out what to do. We talked about it today, referred again to the plan provided by the sleep specialist, and agreed on our strategy before we went to bed. That helped a lot. It is surprisingly difficult to think and remember with any coherency when your babies are crying at night. Though, yeah, maybe it’s not so surprising, after all.

At any rate, tonight we went into the bedroom at 9:05, and the babies were both asleep, or at least quiet, by 9:24. That’s pretty good!

This morning it took me a bit to get going, but after my shower I decided I was up for an adventure. So, our nanny and I took the kids to the zoo. We were very excited to see that the baby giraffe was out and about with its mommy and auntie. The baby ran around a bit in the enclosure, with just the same rocking gait of adult giraffes, who usually just amble and meander. There were several instances of nuzzling affection between the baby and its mother. Last week Hazel and our nanny tried multiple times to catch a glimpse of the baby, but it was always inside the barn, sleeping. So we were very pleased to see it out today. The babies were fascinated, too. Emily made her round-mouthed “Oooh!” of interest, and Joanna stared and stared. At the end of our visit we also went to see the jaguar, and they were practically plastered to the glass, entranced. Joanna made just the same noises she does when she gets close to Chester, our orange tabby.

This evening we took a look at the two car seats our friend donated to us for the Madsen, and figured out how we can use them to create a five-point harness system in the bike for the babies. We think (famous last words) that it will actually be simpler than we thought it might be. We’ll need to cut them down carefully so as to preserve the various slits and holes that are used for it. But that shouldn’t be too hard. And we also need to replace the fabric with something that’s water-proof. But that shouldn’t be too hard either. When Ted and Hazel get back we’ll work on it.

Hazel is very excited to take a bus and a train to get to the airport. We’ll have the taxi as Plan B, but hopefully they’ll be able to get going soon enough tomorrow morning for the more leisurely but thoroughly enjoyable Plan A.

After they’re gone tomorrow I’ll have lessons to teach, and then the Mommy-twins adventure will start.

Bus, firefighters, studio project, bedtime

Well, today didn’t end so well. But there was a lot of positive in it anyway. Hazel and I took the bus together this morning. I combined a trip with her with a needed errand to the bank, but it was all fun. We went to the bus stop only to discover that the posted schedule was incorrect after I checked with an online app. So, we took the opportunity of a wait for the bus to go to our coffee shop where Hazel had a hot chocolate, I had a steamer, and we met not one but three very friendly firefighters. They took us over to their fire truck after we were done, and gave us stickers and cards as well as info about how the truck works, and an invitation to come by the station any time. Lots of warm fuzzies all around.

Then we caught the bus and checked out the scenery as we rode up to our destination. We walked down to the bank so I could make my deposit. The woman who helped me with that then gave me tons of info in response to another question I had. While we were talking she provided Hazel with highlighters, crayons, and paper. It was lovely to see Hazel having so much fun while I got some necessary home-related work done.

We walked quickly back to where we were going to catch the bus home, which was then late. But that was fine, because we were outside enjoying the beautiful sunny day together. We got home a bit later than intended to very sleepy babies. The sleepiness helped out in terms of nap, and Joanna had been asleep for almost two hours when I woke her up later on.

We met with our contractor this afternoon, and have a bunch of choices to consider, as, of course, there are components to the job that are turning out to be more expensive than he originally anticipated.

After that we went to the park to see friends, a couple of whom we haven’t seen in years, since the daughter (Hazel’s age) was a small toddler. That was loads of fun. Seeing the kids playing together is a delight.

Unfortunately, we didn’t take care of ourselves and left too late, so were rushed and stressed in our night-time routine, and lots of mistakes, crying and unhappiness resulted. Another lesson to learn…

But what I want to remember are Hazel’s smiles and snuggles today when we spent time together. I love getting to experience that.

sleep training progress, Craigslist, mommy-daughter time

Apparent progress is evidently being made. How’s that for a hedged bet? I feel a wary unwillingness to entertain any sort of raised expectation, but tonight it only took about 20 minutes to settle Emily, and 40 to settle Joanna. Ted and I spent a while sitting on the side of the bed shushing while Joanna whimpered, babbled, whimpered, and then gradually subsided. I went around to my side of the bed to lie down at some point during that process, and Ted continued to shush for a bit longer. The initial crying jag was down to something like 10 minutes, a huge improvement. And I feel ok about it, because we are right there, patting and soothing, helping them calm down. I think this is a process which is a compromise we can live with between sleeping with them (not do-able) and leaving them to cry by themselves (not do-able by us).

I saw some improvement during nap today, too. Our consultant doesn’t recommend attempting to change the nap routine while also trying to work on night-time sleep, something I think is wise. But it is getting a bit easier to get them down, nonetheless. Today I nursed them and then the nanny took Joanna and I had Emily, who had fallen asleep on me. When I took her off my breast it only took a couple of sucks from the bottle and a couple of rocks back and forth, and I was able to lay her down on her bed. I still have trouble seeing how I’m going to get them down by myself, as I will have to do at least once a week, but I figure I’ll let that take care of itself in the future. Borrowing trouble, while a specialty of mine, is a habit I am working on unlearning.

This evening we went downtown to pick up a rug I’d seen on Craigslist. I spoke to the guy several times today, called before we left, and while we were en route to confirm his location. When we got there he said he’d be right down. A bit later he called Ted (who had called him while I was driving) and told him he’d sold the rug. I really don’t understand why anyone would be such a jerk. I called him back to chew him out, told him we have three kids and were paying a babysitter for that hour. He said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have two rugs. There’s nothing I can do.” grrr. Ted and I entertained a couple of childish revenge schemes to make ourselves feel better, which of course we wouldn’t act upon, and then worked on locating our adult selves and letting it go. The episode did point out to me how much more I value my time now that I have kids and so little margin.

Tomorrow I think I’m going to see if I can make some Mommy-Hazel time happen. She’s been a trooper through all this sleep training, and it’d be good to have a chance to have some relaxed time with her. And I won’t see her during the five days she and Ted will be visiting my mother-in-law. I’ll miss them both.

Sleep training, night 1

This is my 300th post. Possibly the fact that I’m writing it on the day after our first night of sleep-training is symbolic, or significant, or cool, or possibly I am so severely sleep-deprived that I’m looking for anything even remotely neat to focus on as a way to avoid thinking about tonight. (Edited to add: actually, it’s my 301st post. I mis-read the info on the site. heh)

We decided to start sleep training last night because Hazel had a long-standing sleep-over with a friend on the calendar, and it seemed like a good opportunity for us to do this difficult work with the babies in her absence. So, they picked her up after nap, and we took the babies to the pool to tire them out. We had a nice time in the water with them, brought them home, had dinner, and went for an evening walk in the neighborhood. Then it was bedtime.

Last night was a mixture. We changed things around so that after we put jammies on the twins I nursed them in the playroom, where we’re doing our pre-bed routine. They actually did ok when I took them off, surprisingly. Then we played, and then we sang, and then we read our usual books. We carried them into the bedroom, put them on the bed, and we were off. Joanna cried for an hour, and Emily cried and screamed for just over an hour and a half. Predictably, they kept setting each other off. We picked them up to pat and rock them whenever they were crying hard. The usual soothing methods seemed barely to work, since they were so upset at not being put to sleep in the usual manner. We sang to them, talked to them, patted them, swayed with them, shushed them (Joanna is particularly susceptible to the loud shush recommended in the “Happiest Baby On The Block” book we read when Hazel was a baby). We abhor the title, but there are good methods described. When you shush loudly to Joanna, she almost always drops her head down and stops crying. It’s sort of amazing. On the other hand, it just makes Emily mad, and she cries more loudly.

We had a superbly helpful therapy session on Friday about doing the sleep training, and I was much calmer and more centered than I had feared I would be. That first chunk was hard, but I didn’t get upset.

Then, of course, I got a migraine and very unpleasant indigestion. Whee! Poor Ted had to do all the work for a bit while I was tending to myself. But I recovered, took over from Ted after he’d done a marathon session with Emily, and finally they were both asleep.

Emily slept for almost 5.5 hours. Joanna slept for 2.5, then another 1.5. That was not bad at all. When I woke up I could tell that I’d been asleep for a longer stretch than usual.

Then we were awake with one or the other of them from 3:10 to 6:30. That enormous donut hole is why today we have been dragging and possibly drooling while we mutter and fumble our way around our tasks. They did finally sleep again from 6:30 to 8:40, when we forced ourselves to get up and wake the babies too.

Nonetheless, we got two important projects done today: an expandable doggy gate to shut the corner of the kitchen off from the babies so they can’t get their heads stuck in the cat door or eat the garbage; and a wider gate in the cat fencing that surrounds our back yard so that the people who’re going to take down our garage can get in and out.

Now we’re exhausted and facing night number 2, which our consultant says is often worse than night number 1.

I will attempt to remember to take care of myself while navigating this night’s challenges. I am proud of Ted and myself for how gracefully we handled last night, and how we took care of ourselves and each other. I know we can do it again.

Here goes…

tiredness and pre-sleep-training therapy

I must be tired. I just fell asleep while nursing the twins, apparently so deeply that Ted couldn’t wake me up. And since Joanna was still attached, he couldn’t just take her and put her down, either. He said he tried for a while, shaking my arm and calling my name. One might call it poetic justice, given all the other times it’s been the other way around. Heh.

We had a session today about sleep training. It was very productive, and I’m feeling much better about the process. We may start it tomorrow night, while Hazel is off at our friends’ house for a sleepover. What it boils down to is that we need to practice self-care, pay attention to our responses so we’re clear about what’s about us and what’s about the babies, and help each other by asking each other questions about how we’re feeling to support each other in the moments of challenge with babies crying. I am deeply grateful that we have a compassionate and wise person who’s also very straightforward and honest who can give us support and guidance when we need it. Sleep training is presenting us with a moment in time of significant difficulty, but also big opportunity for growth for each of us as people, in our relationship, and as parents of the twins and Hazel. It’s been a few years since we had a session, but now seemed like a great time for another one.

And now, back to sleep. I am far too foggy-brained to think.