Monday, March 18, 2013

Open, Shut Them

Ah, sleep…I remember you. So, with Ila, at three weeks I was feeling like I’d gotten the hang of nursing, and our “sleep” had sort of normalized – meaning, I knew I was only going to get a couple 2 hour chunks of sleep a night. I felt a little better, a little like I’d accepted the situation. For about 1 day. Then it hit me – I was going to have to sit up in bed to nurse this little squirmer for an hour three to four times a night…for months…and months…and months. Predictably, I felt quite depressed. And exhausted. I became very determined to nurse lying down. I had tried it a few times already, but neither of us was quite coordinated enough as a new nursing pair. However, I continued to try and always had that hope ahead of me. Someday, I could just roll over and nurse. I would barely have to wake up! At two months, I achieved this dream, and it was way, way better. (Of course, after a year and a half of the “roll over and nurse” situation, I was also quite sick of this as well and fantasized about an actual night of uninterrupted sleep.)

So, the difference with twins is that I will never have the lie down and nurse dream to look forward to. I have just reached the “getting the hang of this sleep insanity” point…and I cannot believe that I will just have to sit up and nurse them all the time for months and months. Two AM has become a bleak, bleak place without a real hope of more sleep to look forward to any time soon…in any possible twin nursing position. Maybe someday their night time schedule will be staggered enough I can simply nurse one then the other lying down. I don’t really know how to affect this kind of change, though…and I need them to be on the same schedule during the day so that they actually nap at the same times.

This all points to the fact that life with twins is harder than life with a singleton infant. This seems obvious, but I say this because apparently not everyone believes this. A father of a girl at Ila’s school said to Kiyomi, after she said that we are exhausted and really feeling the difference of having two infants at once, that one baby was just as hard as twins. (They just had their second child.) Excuse me? I’ve had a single baby. The only way that is harder is if you are comparing the world’s fussiest singleton to the world’s easiest twins. Granted, I feel much more prepared and less shell-shocked than the first time around…but leaving the house, nursing, getting a free moment to go to the bathroom when neither is crying…this is WAY harder. And, I would say, that both of these babies already cry and squawk more than Ila did.

Neither of these babies better become colicky…I don’t know what I would do. I think, when I was pregnant, I just sort of believed that they must, MUST be easier than Ila because…well, they had to be otherwise I would not have been able to face the prospect of two infants. Ila wasn’t a particularly challenging baby – I think she was pretty average. However, even two average babies – that’s overwhelming to think about. Now, I am realizing – really realizing – that they could both be average, neither an easy baby. OR, they could both be more sensitive, more fussy, more needy than Ila. There is nothing that guarantees that they won’t be. Like I said, two AM has become a very bleak place.

On the up side, oh my god, they are so cute! It feels sort of decadent that I get to have two tiny, adorable, lovely babies at once. I feel, the second time around, that I am really cherishing this tiny infant stage. It’s so fleeting. I’m less traumatized by the sleeplessness and the chaos that an infant introduces into your life. And, while they can’t do anything, they are so sweetly captivating just lying next to me or nursing or making all those weird little faces infants make…well, they are thoroughly captivating to me anyway.

So now that the babies are a reality, Ila has been a bit more fragile, a bit more sensitive in general, but she is still pretty excited and enthusiastic about the actual babies. She loves to help, and she loves to take care of her own babies while I tend to the twins. Her babies are always much better behaved than the real infants. Yesterday morning, when I couldn’t get the babies to let me put them down for 15 minutes to use bathroom and eat breakfast, Ila informed me that her babies had already nursed and gone back to sleep. She looked at the twins as she said this, as if to let them know other babies knew how to behave. Incidentally, she informed me a few minutes before this that she had five babies, named Flower, Bee, Daisy, Stripe Baby, and Giraffe Baby. Stripe Baby is my favorite. I wish I’d thought of that name for ours.

My mother has always liked to say that those dolls that close their eyes when you lie them down and open them when you pick them up are a dirty trick. Reality, she contends is exactly the opposite. Well, our babies are certainly bearing her out on this point. Ila did as well…it’s just easier to carry one baby around with you all day. I feel guilty because I am perpetually choosing which one of the babies to carry, calm, comfort…unless I am just nursing both of them. So, as you may imagine, I basically nurse them all day so as to avoid unhappy infants.

While Ila, as a two year old, does introduce a certain amount of chaos and illness (hello, thousands of colds!) to the baby situation, it’s refreshing to take a little time every day to just hang out with her. After spending the day with the infants, she seems amazingly accomplished because she can use the toilet and speak in complete sentences. Seriously, though, I am enjoying this age – she erupts everyday with all kinds of odd statements and ideas. Yesterday, while playing grocery store, she told us that her car was parked far away, “in the distance.” I love when she incorporates odd little phrases like this. And, she taught us this little song the other day (from school).

It’s amazing to suddenly have three children…and also daunting. I just have to trust that my intention to have quality interactions with them all while still getting everything done that must get done (basics, like eating, etc.) will be enough. I have already had twinges of guilt when one infant is wailing inconsolably for the 5 minutes it takes to change the other baby or when Ila really wants me to play or snuggle or read, and I can’t as I’m nursing the babies. I cannot imagine having 5 or 8 or 10 children. My god!