Monthly Archives: August 2011
Yesterday was OW’s 42nd birthday and it got me thinking again about age. We never expected to be parents at our age. I know it’s much more common now for women over 40 to have children, but it certainly wasn’t in my life plan.
We’ll both be eligible for AARP (the American Association of Retired People, for non-U.S. folks) before our kids start high school.
Stop and think about that for a moment.
Have you recovered from the shock and horror of that? I haven’t.
I’ve been thinking about the various things that come with age. What does retirement mean to us now? What did it mean to us before? We’d never really talked about it. Neither of us has been good about putting money aside for it and now we have that plus the costs of raising children to think about. Fortunately our only debt is a mortgage, one car payment and OW’s student loans. We don’t carry a balance on our credit cards and pay cash for things like furniture, home improvements, etc. Still, we are now living on 2/3 of our former income and have a lot more expenses. Will we be able to keep up with our changing finances? It’s nerve-wracking.
The physical changes that happen as we get older frighten me a lot. I wasn’t in great shape before I had these kids. I have a good figure but that’s mostly luck. I looked great with my clothes on but not so much without. I was slim but flabby and had zero stamina. I couldn’t run (or probably even walk) a 5k if my life depended on it. OW is in much better shape than I am but he is obese and already has issues with his joints.
I feel truly compelled now to get into shape. I desperately want to be an active mom, not one schlumped on the couch without the energy to get out and play with her kids, but it’s really intimidating. I’m only 5 to 10 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight but I’m certainly in no better shape now than I was before. When and how am I supposed to find the time to exercise? I generally do my writing in 15-minute blocks when they are both (thank you Universe!) sleeping at the same time. I tweet, do email, etc. from my smartphone while I’m nursing or just holding. I don’t know how to fit in real exercise. Plus, I’m just generally so intimidated by the prospect that it makes me wilt to even think about it.
I think OW and I are generally in good health. Aside from not being in shape (which is a big deal, I know) neither of us has serious physical health problems – so far. That will likely change as we age and I am worried about saddling our kids with our problems before they even have a chance to start families of their own. I am probably being too pessimistic about this but it does worry me. I know that the best way to head that off is to make sure we take good care of ourselves, so I shall refer myself back to the previous paragraph.
The positive in this area is that I am pretty big on eating well. We don’t follow any kind of extreme plan, but I generally refuse to make food with ingredients that come out of boxes and cans. No cream-of-something soups, no instant anything, no Chef Boyardee, no Velveeta (insert extra gagging noises here), and no pretend cheese that comes by the slice wrapped in weird plastic. Oh – and I want to make an announcement: No Totino’s Pizza Rolls shall ever cross the threshold of this house!
So now we’re faced with being 46 when the boys start kindergarten. OW and I will be 56 when the boys start high school. I imagined myself at 56 having several grandchildren, not surly teenage boys.
How in the world are we going to keep up? I will D.I.E. if anyone ever asks me if I’m their grandmother. That’s unlikely right now but 15 years from now? I’m not so sure. Are you an AMA (advanced maternal age) mom? How do you feel about it? Do you believe that we really are as young as we think we are? Have you had to change your perspective on things now that you have small children?
Bare your soul to me, please.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
What a weekend. Sometimes I am literally unsure that I will survive this. When they are both screaming and I can’t seem to console either one, I sit on the bed crying right along with them, understanding that this does not get better. It just gets different. OW doesn’t get that because he hadn’t had kids before this.
So my weekend was comprised mostly of this
And when they didn’t have enough strength left in them to scream anymore, there were a few 20-minute blocks of this (never at the same time of course),
followed up with the next round of this
My brain is on fire. That is all.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
Special guest bloggers, Peanut Butter & Jelly: We’re four months old now and look how far we’ve come!
Should I keep my family’s real names private?
I’ve been giving some thought to this recently. On our family blog, which is really just baby update stuff, we use all of our real names. It’s a WordPress blog and I have it set as not searchable. We give the address to our friends and family and that’s about it. I am aware that it’s not private and in fact I had that link as my Twitter link at first. I’m not terribly worried about it, as I don’t reveal our address or even the name of our town. Our family knows where we live.
This blog though is one I’m putting out there for the world (but hopefully not my friends and family – Doh!) to read. I will definitely keep my husband’s name private because he is not a social media guy and is very wary about that sort of thing. I don’t use my last name anywhere here or on Twitter and I don’t link this blog or my Twitter account to my Facebook account.
So I suppose I shouldn’t use my kids’ real names either. I notice that most mommy bloggers don’t. They all have cute code names for their family members.
I want cute code names for mine! I know I don’t have a ton of readers, but I think there are at least two or three of you so far. Can you help me pick out my code names or give me guidance?
I already call my hubby “OW” for Other Whole. He’s definitely not a half. In fact, he may be more than a whole because he has to make up for what I lack!
My oldest son is almost 22 years old. He is a musician with a tortured soul. He lives independently, even though that means sleeping on a mattress in someone’s basement. Ugh. I figure he’ll get tired of that eventually. He’s super cool. Like, he is the sort of dude people see and immediately want to hang around with because he looks like and gives off the aura of a quiet rock star. He’s not outgoing, he doesn’t talk a lot and he doesn’t seek followers. He just oozes cool and I don’t know how else to describe that. It’s very attractive to people. We’ll be in a restaurant and wannabe cool dudes approach him and desperately try to engage him in conversation. It’s so interesting to watch.
My second son is almost 20 years old. He is trying to figure out what kind of man he wants to be. He has really worked to seem hard and cold. He has claimed to be an anarchist (that’s finally fading, thank goodness), to hate the police, and to generally want to buck authority. But the truth is that he is a very sweet-hearted kid who thinks of other people’s feelings, wants to have a wife and a family, and needs a major boost of self-confidence. He is friendly and loving, but gets frustrated easily. He is sorely lacking in self-discipline but I’m hoping he’ll get better as he moves through school (he is FINALLY starting community college this semester and I am beyond relieved).
My twins are harder. They are starting to have personalities, but let’s face it: How much personality does a four-month-old baby have? My first one is the bigger of the two, and has a deeper voice. He is generally more willing to sleep and seems to just be more laid back in general. The second kid is the little guy but makes up for it in volume and pitch. He has a cry that I think must be the equivalent of having an ice pick driven through your head. And he is loud. L-O-U-D. He goes from zero to 60 in under 30 seconds. The bigger guy builds up more slowly and never gets that high-pitched screechy scream. They are mo/di twins and I honestly have a hard time telling them apart when they aren’t next to each other. Using physical appearance to come up with a nickname definitely won’t work here. Their size probably doesn’t either because the hope is that the little one will catch up to his brother by the time they are two years old. I’m hopeful that the screaming business won’t outlast infancy (oh pleasepleasepleaseplease).
So how do I come up with a nickname for these two? Even at home I don’t really have cutesy names for them. I call them both boo-boo and pooky-poo and that sort of thing, but when I’m talking about one of them I call them by their given name. How did you choose your family’s code names and what advice do you have for me?
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
My twins were born April 19, 2011, so they are four months old as I write this. They were born six weeks early and we spent three weeks in the NICU before we were able to come home. I think those were close to the hardest three weeks of my life. There have been a couple of other moments with my oldest son that were as hard, but those are stories for another day.
After the first week I felt pretty confident that they would survive. But I still had to go home without my babies every night and that was heartbreaking.
I see-sawed between feeling completely absorbed in my babies, my fears, my sadness and then on the other hand feeling so lucky and grateful that we weren’t nearly as bad off as many of the other babies in the NICU, which in turn made me feel guilty about being so self-absorbed.
We survived those three weeks and the next three weeks, when I was paranoid about everything and unwilling to let even family members other than Grandma come over to see the boys. It was really stressful. I’m not sure stressful covers it, but we got through it.
Now the boys are growing and doing the things that babies of their adjusted age do. They are still very small even for their adjusted age, but they are perfectly formed little babies.
So I get really, really annoyed when people make comments to me that are probably well-meaning but are hurtful and invalidating to me.
“Oh, they were only 6 weeks early? That’s not bad for twins.”
It is bad. It is not good to have your baby born a month and a half early. We were very, very lucky that I was able to get steroid shots the week before and that the boys didn’t have breathing problems, so please don’t tell me it’s not a big deal for them to be six weeks early.
“At least you didn’t have them at X weeks.”
I’m very glad we were able to hold out until 34 weeks, but this isn’t a competition.
“Wow, they were 3.5 and 4 pounds when they were born? That’s a pretty good size for twins.”
Nope. It’s not. When we’re talking about weights in terms of a few pounds, a pound is a big deal. The average weight of a full term newborn is 7.5 pounds. Three and a half pounds is less than half of that. Four pounds is just over half of that. The average weight of a twin is 5.5 pounds. A 3.5 pound baby is is only 60% of the weight of an average twin, and remember that many twins are born early, so the average is low because it includes the micro-preemies. The average weight for a full term baby also includes micro-preemie weights, but there are far fewer of them. Our babies were in the category of premature, growth restricted, low birth weight, with my little guy on the cusp of very low birth weight. This puts them both at increased risk for all kinds of problems in the future. This especially true for my little Roland.
“They’re growing fine. They’re not that small.”
Yes they are. Again, it’s not a competition but it is a fact that they are very small for both their chronological and adjusted ages. Should I just agree with you and say, “oh, right, they aren’t small at all, my mistake”? I don’t get that. Are you trying to make me feel better? I’m ok with them being small. Small and healthy is just fine. I don’t know what the future holds though. Will they have developmental delays? Will they have physical problems that will emerge as they get older? I don’t know. I don’t focus on it, but it’s definitely in the back of my mind.
“I know exactly how you feel. My sister/friend/aunt had her baby at 24/28/32 weeks and he was only 1/3/4.5 pounds when he was born.”
No, actually, you don’t know how I feel. Unless you’ve been through this experience you really do not know what it’s like. And even though I know what it’s like to endure the stress and fear of having your babies in NICU, I do NOT know what it’s like to have them there for months, or to have to see your baby on a breathing machine, or have to deal with your tiny baby having multiple surgeries. I’m not going to pretend I do. I hope I can empathize somewhat, but I won’t claim that I know what it’s like.
People who say this are generally in one of two camps. The first is the person who is really trying to find something similar in their life experience that they can share with me and make a connection with me. I do appreciate that. I know it’s an expression of empathy.
For others, it seems to be some kind of one-upmanship game. My baby was born at 34 weeks, your friend’s was born at 28. My baby was 3.5 pounds, your sister’s was 2.8. I’m not sure how to describe it because it’s late and my ability to write coherently is fading fast. But I definitely feel it when someone wants me to know that they had it worse and that I should feel lucky.
Well, I do feel lucky. I know I am very, very lucky that I got to come home with two apparently healthy, perfect little babies. I know and feel deeply in my heart for those who had and have much more difficult obstacles to overcome.
But please, please don’t invalidate what we went through. I know, oh Lord I KNOW it could have been so much worse and I am truly grateful for what we have. But let me grieve for what we lost too, even if it seems inconsequential to you.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
I’ve had sleeping – or rather, not sleeping – issues since childhood. I have trouble allowing my mind to shut down and relax and it’s terribly frustrating. Even when I’m really tired I often lie in bed staring at the ceiling for hours, thinking and worrying. Every night I dread going to bed and put it off as long as I can. OW simply cannot fathom this. He looks forward to bed time. He strips down to boxers, crawls into bed, gives the sheet a billowy yank and then lets loose a satisfied groan that I’d think he’d reserve for other activities. Within a few minutes he is happily snoring. He’s never had problems sleeping and doesn’t understand why I do.
I’ve tried to explain it, though I don’t fully understand it myself. When I get into bed at night an overwhelming sense of dread comes over me. A dark, quiet room is not relaxing for me. It is extremely anxiety provoking because then I have nothing to do but think. And thinking gets me into deep trouble, trouble with a capital T (I say, trouble right here in River City! – couldn’t resist that).
During the day my mind is always going. I’m not necessarily the sort of person who always has to be doing something physical. You know the type: cleaning one more counter, straightening papers that don’t need to be straightened, tapping their foot. I do those things, but not obsessively enough for anyone to notice. No, my busyness is primarily in my head. I occupy myself by researching whatever is my fancy of the moment, reading blogs and forums, commenting on blogs and forums, playing Sudoku, writing and so forth. Of course, with newborn twins I do spend a large portion of my day doing the physical tasks necessary to take care of them. But every moment I’m doing something with them that involves sitting, I’m on my smartphone, reading, writing or playing Sudoku. I don’t allow myself to have brain downtime.
Then 10:00 p.m. comes and I start to get nervous. OW starts making noise about how we should go to bed. Then 10:30 rolls around and he says that he’s tired and going to bed after the news. Then 11:00 looms and he says that he is definitely going to bed. All the while, the implication is that I should be going to bed too. (As an aside, every single one of my husbands has been insistent that I go to bed when they do. I hate it. That’s a post for another day.) I agree to get in bed, but only if I can have the television AND my phone going. If I can keep the television on until I pass out, I don’t have to think.
And here is my little confession for the day: I love sleeping pills.
I suppose some might see my need for them as an addiction. I don’t think I’m addicted to sleeping pills any more than you would call a diabetic addicted to insulin. I’ve tried several but for me, there is nothing like Ambien.
Oh, Ambien, you are better than chocolate, better than wine, better than sex (although frankly you make all of those things even more lovely than they already are).
Off track there for a moment.
The point is, Ambien makes me feel safe when I go to bed. I know that within ten to 15 minutes after taking it, I will be in that beautiful hypnotic state where I can relax and sleep. My worries disappear, the physical tension in my body releases, and I don’t have to fight.
I’ve been taking it on and off for probably six or eight years now. I’ve been able to keep my dosage fairly low by rotating it with other things like Valium or Xanax. Although I like those things, they don’t give me the true sleep of the dead I get with Ambien.
I do have some of the weird side effects with Ambien that you’ve probably heard about. I sleep-eat, which is really strange. I’ll wake up in the morning with empty wrappers or dishes next to the bed and have no memory of eating. Occasionally I can’t figure out what I ate. Sometimes there is clear evidence in my hair, on the sheets, or smeared across my chest, which is not as amusing as it sounds. I’ve never tried to cook anything. Apparently I just rummage around in the kitchen looking for things I can eat as-is. That may include things better cooked or heated up, but I’ve never eaten raw meat or anything. That proves to me that I do it with some sort of consciousness, but just don’t remember it.
I also have visual and auditory hallucinations. I actually love those. I don’t have them all the time, and the longer I’ve been taking the Ambien every night for a stretch, the less I have them. But they are always similar in nature. They aren’t frightening to me at all.
I’m going to take a deep breath and tell you the secret of the hedge people. Yes, I hallucinate what I call the hedge people, and I’m always happy to see them. They’re like old friends, and they seem happy to see me as well. I see a hedge, and in, around and on top of the hedge are these sort of leafy-looking people. Or not people, exactly. Sprites maybe? At any rate, I talk to them and they talk to me. This I know primarily because OW tells me about the conversations I have with them. In the morning I do remember the hedge people and they make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. When I take the pills I find myself hoping to see my little friends. I know that’s completely bizarre. But they are friendly and comforting and they send me off to a deep sleep I desperately need.
I was terrified about coming off of the Ambien when I found out I was pregnant. I assumed I couldn’t continue but some research and my doctor’s advice convinced me otherwise. I was able to keep taking it through most of the pregnancy, but needed to stop once the boys came home. According to my doctor (and I am not one, so I may not have this exactly correct) the placenta acts as a barrier to some degree and the Ambien doesn’t just mainline to the fetus. It does pass through breastmilk, but the amount is low and decreases significantly within three hours of so of taking it, much like alcohol.
But I haven’t taken it since the babies came home from the hospital, mostly because I was afraid of not being able to wake up to care for them when they needed me. Lately I’ve been noticing that I need a couple of Xanax to relax enough to go to sleep though, so I’m thinking of trying a half-dose of the Ambien again. The boys are now predictably sleeping until at least 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. every night, so I think I could manage it.
The whole thing makes me a little squeegy though. I want to be able to just sleep like a normal person. But I don’t and never have. So do I stay up all night, full of anxiety and then miserable the next day? Or do I reclaim my little addiction? It’s 3:00 a.m. right now, so my opinion is pretty biased at the moment.
Now where did I stash that little bottle?
(Please direct hateful comments and advice on how to relax to my spam folder. Thank you.)
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
I have a complicated relationship with food. Don’t we all? I think mine is a bit different than most but maybe that’s because very few of us are truly honest, even with ourselves, about details that shame us.
I’m letting my shame come out.
On a fairly anonymous blog.
I don’t have the courage to be up front about this stuff in my real life, but this is bare wood, right?
I’m of a totally normal weight. In fact, before I got pregnant with the twins (Before Twins – BT) I was pretty bombshell-esque if I do say so myself. I wore tucked-in blouses with snug-fitting pencil skirts and high heels to work every day. I had big boobs, a tiny waist and respectably curvy hips.
I’m only 10 pounds above what I was BT, but it’s amazing how much that 10 affects my clothing choices and my self image. I have TT (twin tummy) and my boobs went from big and luscious to gigantic and obscene. I’ve developed saddle bags. I guess I had them to some extent before but they were minimal and didn’t really bother me.
Even BT though, I was weird and sneaky and very secretive about food. I would hide food even when I lived alone. Why? I don’t know. I was afraid someone would come over and see what I really ate I guess. I still hide food. I hide it from OW. When the twins get old enough to notice that I eat food and to want some, I’ll be hiding food from them too. I’ll snatch bites of things from behind cupboard doors or around the corner from the playroom. I know this about myself because that’s exactly what I did with FS (the first set).
This week I made a loaf of banana bread as a birthday gift for an uncle-in-law I’ve met maybe two or three times. I’d let some bananas get really ripe, I looked up fabulous recipes using weights instead of measurements and I studied the optimal mixing methods, all so I could make the perfect loaf for this uncle-in-law-whom-I’d-met-maybe-two-or-three-times.
when I started making it though, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of greed and regret that I was going to have to give it away. I thought about just not giving it to him and wishing him a happy birthday with nothing in hand. I thought about making mini-muffins so I could eat some and not have anyone notice it wasn’t a full recipe’s worth.
I worked hard to control myself and continued on. I lost that control some at the end, just before pouring the batter into the loaf pan. I started eating the batter. Just a bit that splashed onto my hand at first. Then a dollop from the scraper, then a spoonful, then another.
How gross is that?
I’d be absolutely mortified if OW or his mother or my mother or anyone I know knew about this.
And that’s just the beginning, Friends. My food weirdness will take care of loads of blog posts.
That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!