Sunday, November 28, 2010

More thoughts on Thanksgiving

Of course we had so much to be thankful for this year, not least of all the fact that Benjamin and Asher are thriving and wonderful.  One year ago I was pregnant and had not yet been placed on bed rest, and I really had no idea what lay ahead of us.  I am also lucky in many other ways that I think about all the time: I have a husband who I love and who loves me; a supportive family who lives nearby (and supportive in-laws who live farther away!); a safe, warm home; more food than I can eat; and plenty of extras that make life more comfortable and enjoyable.
Three of the things for which I am thankful!

Over the past couple of days, I read horror stories about Thanksgiving on the New York Times website.  There were over 300 comments on there, and some of the stories were fairly benign (things like forgetting to turn on the oven and the turkey still being raw after 3 hours), but some were truly awful (stories of abuse, being made to feel unwanted and unloved over the holiday).

I have always loved Thanksgiving, and it is probably my favorite holiday.  Partly because I love food, and we make a big production over cooking and eating, and my mom and Aunt Jane are excellent cooks, so everything is always delicious.  But partly because so much of my family comes to town, and I love getting to see everyone.  This year I had all four of my grandparents here, and how many people at my age still have that?

Reading those stories, I realized that many of our Thanksgivings are marked by events that other people consider horror stories.  One year my uncle drove my grandparents down from Boston and commented upon arrival to my father that "the brakes felt funny."  My dad, being the conscientious person he is, immediately took the car to the mechanic only to be told that the brakes were finished, and my family was lucky to have made it to town alive!

That same year, my grandmother had brought her good jewelry with her (no one knows why), and then lost it.  Turned out she had taken it out of her bag and put it in her lap while in the car (again, no one knows why), and when she got out of the car in my aunt and uncle's driveway, the bag of jewelry fell into the leaves piled up at the edge of the driveway.  Fortunately, someone found the jewelry within a few days, but Grandma was going crazy until then!

And we think it was that same year, but maybe it wasn't, my grandpa was having trouble swallowing and choked on dinner.  But rather than say something, he got up and went to the bathroom and was there forever.  Finally we checked on him, we were so frightened, and worried we would have to leave in the middle of dinner to take him to the ER (and more worried about him dying, but I felt bad even saying that).

That same grandpa was, for years, responsible for smoking a turkey.  He had a very precise method and no one else knew how to do it.  One morning, while preparing the turkey, something slipped and he cut himself fairly deeply.  My mom took one look at it and said, "Put a band-aid on it.  No one else knows how to cook that turkey, and I'm not letting you go to the hospital until the turkey's done."  So after dinner that night, my dad took his dad to the ER, where they said it was too late to do anything but had he come in that morning, he would have gotten stitches.

There are other things that have gone on and been said, but I can't write about them because family members might read this.  Suffice it to say, think of the things that go on with your family and assume it happens with ours!  In the end, most Thanksgivings are very stressful for my mom, and I love the end-of-weekend decompression with her where we laugh over all the family's foibles, and usually indulge in some retail therapy.

This year was different, and that was a little hard for me.  I did not get to spend the same amount of time with family that I usually do, since my schedule is dictated by my boys' schedule.  My sister often spends Thanksgiving at my house, and we linger over coffee in the mornings and go for jogs for exercise.  This year, she arrived Wednesday night, and after Benjamin woke up at 2 am crying, she said she would stay with my parents the rest of the weekend.  I didn't get to actually say goodbye to either set of my grandparents, since they all left during nap times or bed time.  I know that everyone understands and is just happy to have seen me and the boys, but it is an adjustment for me.  I don't know how many years I have left with all my grandparents, so it is hard when I feel as though I have missed out on time with them.
The boys with me this morning-- they get jealous if one of them is on my lap and the other isn't!

I did follow the age-old tradition of retail therapy, though, and went with the boys to the TJ Maxx near our home.  I found some great stuff, and feel really excited about the gifts I'll be giving next month!

Friday, November 26, 2010

8 months old

Today Benjamin and Asher turned 8 months old!  I really can't believe how old they are, and how big they are.  Eric got on the scale with them (they were dressed), and they both weigh over 18.5 lbs.  Asher is getting his 3rd tooth (the bottom one next to the one already there), and the top tooth he has is really coming in and he looks so silly!  I miss those gummy smiles already.  Sleep is going pretty well-- we are still feeding them once a night, but they are sleeping straight through from 7 pm to 5 am, and then back to sleep again until 7 or 7:30 most days.

Here are some pictures of their first Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving started with their first snow:
Asher in a bundler I bought 2 years before he was born

Benjamin enjoying the fresh snowy air!

Their first Thanksgiving was anti-climactic for them after that-- they didn't really eat too much Thanksgiving food, since our dinner was at 7:30 pm, after their bedtime.  During the day I was with them all day while everyone else cooked, so that was a strange experience for me, my first year not cooking.  We did find time to read from the Nutshell Library with Meema Alison:

I did give them each a taste of baby food turkey yesterday.  I have to admit that it looked so disgusting that I couldn't stand looking at it, so I wasn't very sad when they seemed to dislike it.  Their next meat will be homemade and home food-milled so that I won't feel grossed out feeding it to them!

The downside to all this holiday excitement is that their nap and sleep schedules have been a mess, since they now have a hard time sleeping when there is something else going on.  No need to get into details, but I am finding that I am not very flexible when it comes to sleep schedules and would rather miss out on the party than have my guys be tired cranks.  It is hard, though, because I do like them to spend time with all of their great-grandparents, grandparents, and cousins.  It should be interesting at Christmas when we go visit Eric's family-- there are more events and more people!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


1) A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen

  • a person or thing that may help or save someone
  • grounds for believing something good may happen
2) (archaic) a feeling of trust

I have thought about hope all day today.  What is life without hope?  If we aren't hoping for good things for our future, why are we living each day?  If we aren't hoping for the best, what is life for?

Today I saw my friend's hopes destroyed.  She found out that her fourth IVF did not work, and she is not pregnant.  She doesn't know if she will ever be a mother.  All of a sudden I realized just how much hope I was holding on to for her, how much I had told myself this cycle would work, she would be pregnant.  And I know she was feeling the same way, but even more so.  This hope was beyond the desire for something to happen, and was truly an expectation that it would work.  How could it not?  She has been through so much, surely it was her turn for good news.

So what does she hope for now? I know she is hoping that somehow, some way, she will become a mother.  And I hope the same.

My job is to give others hope.  People come to see me when they are at the end of their rope, and they hope that I can help them change, help them gain a new perspective on their life, give them reason to keep moving forward.  They hope I can relieve their pain, teach them new things.

Sometimes our hopes get adjusted; we take what happens to us and alter our picture of the future to accommodate those changes.  But we always keep up hope.  Hope that one day we will get pregnant, we will stay pregnant, we will hold a baby in our arms.  Our depression will lift, our anxiety will calm, our lives will slow down.  Hope that if today is not good, tomorrow will be better.

So here's hoping for a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mastitis and Happy 90th Birthday Grandma Tenny!

Ouch!  I seem to have gotten mastitis.  Google says it's most common in the early weeks of nursing, but apparently it happens at other points, too.  A couple of weeks ago I had a milk blister, and I have had two blisters before that have resolved themselves pretty quickly, so I didn't pay much attention to it.  My nipple was still sore, but nothing I couldn't ignore... and then it felt worse and worse.  And then on Saturday night, I realized as I was holding Asher that my entire left breast was sore.  Nursing and pumping on Saturday night were so painful, which it has not been since the first few weeks.  I also felt very tired and achey, and hoped I wasn't getting the flu.

I woke up on Sunday feeling hot and achey and took my temperature first thing-- it was 100.5!  My normal temperature first thing in the morning is 97.3 (I know this because I took my temperature to chart my cycles back when I thought I would have a cycle, how naive!), so this was high for me.  I didn't have any real flu symptoms, plus Eric and I had gotten our flu shots over a month ago.

In the entirety of my relationship with Eric, I have not had a fever.  I get one, maybe two, colds a winter at the worst.  And it just so happened that Sunday was my grandma Tenny's 90th birthday party in Washington, DC!  We had been planning to drive down and back that day so we could go and bring the boys to her party.  I couldn't stand the idea of her only great-grandchildren not being there, so I knew that Eric and the boys had to go.  But then I decided since I wasn't contagious, I should suck it up and go.

So I called my primary care doctor's office, and the doctor on-call told me to call my OB.  I have to admit, I was excited to talk to him again and tell him how well our boys are doing!  Thankfully, he called a prescription in to CVS, and I ran around like crazy getting ready and we hopped in the car and drove on down.

Our boys were absolute angels-- not a peep or a cry the whole way down, and then smiling and happy for 2 1/2 hours at the party.  We brought the walker for Asher and put these little Robeez boots my friend Molly gave us on his feet, and he just marched all around the apartment, exploring, grinning at people, it was so adorable.  Benjamin was his usual charming self and let people hold him and pass him all around.  We left there around 2:30, and on the way out, we passed Bob and Elizabeth Dole in the lobby-- a DC celebrity sighting!  Elizabeth Dole commented on how cute our boys were.  They were also well-behaved on the way home, which made my decision to go down there while I was sick the right one.

I am pretty much recovered now.  I have some slight tenderness in my breast, but no more aches or fever, fortunately.  My energy is also back, and we have had full days and a lot of fun.  Now we're preparing for our annual November celebrations: Meema Alison's birthday (tomorrow! With a dinner party for her on Saturday night), and then Thanksgiving, where my boys will celebrate their first Thanksgiving with 4 of their great-grandparents, and many of their aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Celebrity Profile: Benjamin

Benjamin is such a sweet boy.  Our nicknames for him are Benjamin Bunny, Rabbit, Crabbit (crabby rabbit, if he is in a bad mood), Pabbit (piggy rabbit, back when he got bottles he would drink them so fast!), and Funny Bunny (when he is giggly and happy).  He has really changed so much over the past few months.  For about the first four months he was very needy and I called him my high-maintenance baby.  I could not put him down, or he would just scream and cry.  If not for the Moby wrap, I would never have been able to do anything!  I wore Benjamin in that wrap as I made breakfast, ate breakfast, sat on the couch, even when I went to the bathroom.  And then he went through a phase of hating his car seat and stroller, so I (or my mom) wore him in the Moby wrap anytime we went anywhere-- on walks, to the grocery store, the coffee place...  Writing this makes me realize just how much things have changed, because today we went to the post office and grocery store and the boys were complete angels, even getting compliments on how happy and calm they were!  Anyway, Benjamin is now a very easy-going, happy boy.  He smiles all the time, and is a complete ham for any camera-- point it at him and he grins away!

While Asher has to be moving at every second, Benjamin is happy to crawl to a toy, transition to sitting, and play with the toy for a while.  I have recently noticed that sometimes he is happy to be alone when there are a lot of people around; for example, at play group on Friday he was in a corner playing with toys with his back to the other babies.  He is happy when I bring him back to the group, but clearly doesn't mind being alone.

Benjamin also laughs a lot!  He loves when I pretend to eat him up, when we bounce him on our knees, and he often laughs at Asher.  He has the cutest giggle I've ever heard, and just hearing it is contagious.  He smiles all the time now, and it is so rewarding to go into the nursery when he wakes up from a nap and see him grin at me as soon as he sees my face.  He has delicious juicy thighs that I nibble on (leading to more giggles!) and chubby little fingers that I think are just the cutest things I've ever seen.  His hair... I forgot to get a picture, but he has a giant bald patch in the back, so while his hair is filling in on top, he is still bald in the back.  My mom thinks it is really funny to look at, and it kind of is.

Benjamin is also crawling, and pulling to standing.  He seems to be about 3 days behind Asher on some things.  It seems like maybe he is watching and learning, and then doing it himself.  He is very good at sitting on his own, and very good at going from crawling to sitting.  He is somewhat less aggressive in his movements than Asher.

For a while, Benjamin was our big eater and Asher seemed more picky, but now he eats a little less than Asher.  They nurse about the same amount, but sometimes on solids Benjamin peters out first.  He does seem to enjoy every food he's been given-- oatmeal, yogurt, green beans, peas, squash, pears, applesauce, you name it.  He is good at managing more difficult solids like pieces of bread, and you can see him practicing his chewing.  He has a strange habit of stuffing his fingers in his mouth after you feed him a spoonful of food, so eating gets really messy really fast!

Oh, and Benjamin is getting is first tooth!  It's coming in on the bottom, on his right.  I am kind of sad about seeing the boys with teeth because I so love their toothless grins.

Benjamin does not seem to favor any particular toy at this point.  He likes eating his Sophie giraffe, and shaking rattles, but he will examine pretty much anything.  He likes the jumperoo in the mornings, and has lost any positive feelings he once had towards the swing.  For now, books are for eating and not reading!  He is really a sweet angel, and I am so glad that he has mellowed with time, because it has made my life easier, and reassured me that he is happy and getting all the love and affection he needs.  I'm a very lucky mommy, and am struck by that thought every time I see his beautiful face.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Celebrity Profile: Asher

I thought I would do a post all about Asher (and then I will do one all about Benjamin, don't worry!).  He is developing in leaps and bounds, and everyday I am struck by how different this 7 month old is from the small infant I gave birth to.

Asher is a very happy, smiley boy.  Our nicknames for him are Bear, Big Brown Bear, Bear Child, Formaggio (from his cheesy spit-ups), and now Monkey.  I also call him angel baby, but I call both boys that.

His favorite food right now is bananas, but he likes most things we've given him.  Asher likes plain yogurt mixed with mango puree, pumpkin, sweet potato, applesauce, pear, carrots, and mixed vegetables.  So far he's not a fan of green beans, peas, and avocado.  He is working on (and mastering) picking up food with his fingers.  Of course, he still loves breast feeding and is quite the nurser.  I have had a few clogged ducts, and Asher drains them in about 2-3 minutes.

Asher is very curious, and especially now that he's mobile, he's into everything!  He runs his walker into the cat food, walks himself up to the dishwasher and tries to pull out silverware, pulls all the dishtowels off the handle of the oven, and can generally make a mess wherever he goes.  But he's perfectly content to explore.  He tries to pull up on anything and everything, and has started being able to stand with only one hand on a surface.  With all of this movement, Asher hates sitting down.  He can sit on his own, but he won't stay for long because he MUST move.  Diaper changes are a major challenge.  We only change him on a large, flat surface, because he flips and takes off without anything on!  I do like the chance to see his adorable tush, though.

He's pretty tall and thin, like his daddy.  He is also really strong, and his legs are very muscular with very little baby fat on them.  He started trying to crawl when he was exactly five months old, and at this point he is completely crawling and is all over the place.  Nothing is safe!

Today I discovered that Asher is getting his first tooth!  He was chewing on my finger and I felt something that didn't feel like baby gums...  I was (and am) surprised because it is on top, and there's still nothing doing on the bottom, and I thought babies got their bottom teeth first.  But what do I know?

Asher's favorite games right now are peek-a-boo, put everything in his mouth, pick things up and throw them on the floor, and yank on anything that dangles.  He has started eating puffs and Trader Joe's O's, and seems to have a pretty good pincher grip.  His grip is better than his chewing and swallowing, so sometimes there is gagging involved.  
Asher is a beautiful, sweet boy, and I am lucky to be his mommy.  We have a lot of fun together, and I know he will keep me on my toes for many years to come!

Friday, November 5, 2010

How things change

I have been reflecting a little on how quickly my boys have grown and changed.  So here are some pictures to show you just some of the changes.

Here is Asher in bed a few weeks old:
Here is Asher, when I came in to get him after his nap this morning:

Here is Benjamin at 3 weeks old just before getting swaddled for sleep.  He is wearing a newborn-size onesie and it's baggy on him:
Here is Benjamin today in his size 6-9 month clothes:

They are so interactive now.  We're just beginning to see the start of separation and stranger anxiety.  On the one hand, this makes me feel like I am an important part of the boys' lives.  On the other hand, it makes it a little more difficult to hand the babies off to helping hands from other people.  They are now doing things like reaching up for me with their arms when they want to be picked up.  Asher is crawling, and today when it was time for him to eat, I lay down and he crawled right up to me and threw himself at my chest with his mouth open.  I said to Eric, "this was the baby who crossed his eyes and wouldn't latch for the first 5 days?!?"  I am almost always the object of their attentions, and if I sit down on the floor with them (which I do several times a day), they both come toward me and climb all over me.

I do miss how snuggly they were before they were capable of voluntary movements, but Benjamin is 100 times happier now than he was as a little infant.  In the earliest months, Benjamin needed to be held all the time, which made it very hard for me to do things like eat, use the toilet, and shower.  So 2 of those 3 things took place with him strapped to me in a Moby wrap.  Now he is happy to be independent in the exersaucer, jumperoo, walker, or practicing his crawling on the floor.  Asher was our "easy" baby, and while he is still easy-going, he has started crying a little more.  Still not as much as I imagine most babies do.

For the most part, both boys only cry if there is something that they need and aren't getting, and I have never had one of those moments of mommy frustration where they won't stop crying no matter what you do and you think you are going to have to leave them alone in the crib to cry while you go for a long walk to cool off.  They are very quickly soothed, and quick to smile.  Benjamin has become a bit of a ham for the camera-- every time it's turned on him, he grins!  Now, he grins a lot anyway, but it is really cute.  Benjamin also loves interacting with other babies, and will smile and laugh at them.  He also likes to smile and laugh at Asher.  The fact that they are generally happy, and easy to soothe and smile makes me think that I must be doing something right here!

This weekend Eric has a home improvement project planned.  He and our neighbor will rip out the closet in our room, and then he will patch the walls and ceiling, and then we'll paint the room a new color.  Big changes!  I am excited about it.  I will try to take some before-and-after photos of his handiwork.