Saturday, May 18, 2013


May 7th, 2013
Not so successful tummy time.
I am tired.  Really tired.  One comfort is that I know people don’t die from this.  I mean, a lot of other folks wouldn’t have passed away before me in the pursuit of infant care.  However, yesterday, when my eyes were on fire for like 5 hours before bed time, and I kept fantasizing about putting my head down, it did sort of feel like I was dying.  By this time in Ila infanthood, I could lie down with her and just nap and nurse for a while.  That’s so much harder to do with two, especially as Pippa will take a pretty decent nap of a couple hours (with intermittent waking, squawking and resettling) while Forrest will take two little tiny naps of half an hour during that time.  They are, roughly, in sync, but their different natural proclivities, when it comes to sleep, are surfacing.  For instance, earlier this week, Pippa slept through from 9 until 5:30 the same night that Forrest woke up to nurse about every hour.  Not exactly ideal, but fascinating.  In fact Pippa has really calmed into this little sweet, bizarre creature who puts herself to sleep and often sleeps long stretches at night.  At least for the last couple weeks.  It’s kind of amazing because the other two babies I’ve birthed don’t seem to understand this concept.  Not that Ila or Forrest are terrible sleepers, but they never put themselves to sleep!  Pippa has had a number of nights with the more usual 2-3 wakings to nurse, but it’s starting to be pretty standard that she only wake once…and sometimes not at all.  This is so strange.  I am trying not to depend on this as a permanent state of affairs, but Ila never did anything like this so I find myself thinking this is just the way Pippa might be.  

Fortunately, a little shy of 8 weeks, both Pippa and Forrest settled into more manageable babyhood.  I’m still often bowled over by juggling two babies, particularly in the late afternoon/evening when everyone is hungry and grumpy and heading toward the train wreck that is bed time.  But, the babies did what all the books say babies do once they’ve gotten a bit attached and adjusted to life outside the womb – they cry less, they give little warning squawks before really getting going, they stop if I pick them up.  It’s kind of a miracle when this actually happens.  I think Ila started out hollering a little less and not quite so loudly, so it was a shock to have to screamers.  Now, though, they seem to use crying as an actual method to get what they want instead of simply as a permanent condition of their personalities.  This is a definite improvement.  I would say the prospect of raising twins, at least until toddlerhood, now seems merely very challenging rather than potentially impossible.  Now if I could figure out how we will afford to put all of them through college.  Actually, forget college, through private preschool.  (Yeah, wouldn’t it be amazing if we had actual public preschool?)

May 12th, 2013
See? The only happy one has a pacifier!
We decided this weekend, without a great deal of planning, to restrict Ila’s use of her pacifier to only sleep time.  This is actually how it has been since before she was a year old, but in the last two months, she has been using it all the time she is home.  She runs in and nabs it from the bedroom and won’t be parted from it.  And, not surprsingly, we’ve had little to no energy to restrict her use of it.  Judging from how unhappy, ornery, grumpy and obstreperous she has been without it this weekend, I would say it has been helping her with the sibling transition.  It’s kind of amazing, actually, how intense her desire for her “ba-ba,” as she calls it, is.  Her pacifier has been incredibly useful as an aid (for falling asleep, etc.), so I don’t regret introducing it, but it feels like we’re asking an addict go cold turkey.  According to some folks, kids that really want to suck will do it whether you give them a pacifier or not, so maybe she would have been a thumb sucker if we hadn’t started with the ba-ba.  But, I don’t really have any data to support this, so I’m not sure.  There certainly do seem to be children who are never interested in sucking fingers, thumbs, pacifiers, etc. and others who can’t get enough.

May 18th, 2013
Ila and Pippa
Clearly jinxing really works when it comes to babies.  After a week of claiming Pippa was so much calmer and such a good little sleeper compared to her first two months of life, she decided to scream for two days.  Fun.  I am ashamed to admit that after a day of screaming every time she is awake and refusing to eat, just one minute more of screaming sends me to the place where I have to remind myself that I do not want to shake my baby or toss her down on the bed forcefully and run screaming from the room.  I feel like such a terrible parent for a) having these thoughts at all and b) having them so quickly after a screaming session starts.  At the start of a screaming day, I have some patience…but it evaporates before the day is out.  I feel like such a weakling.  I guess I should remind myself that many times with either baby or even Ila, I do find some reserve of calm and patience in the face of frustration.  Well, at least sometimes.  That’s better than nothing, right?  Actually, one of the reasons I want to be calm and patient when frustrated (at least some of the time) is that it feels very important to model for Ila and, eventually, the small ones, how to deal with frustration without screaming, throwing a fit, breaking things.  I want to be a model of flexibility and maturity.  I don’t want to pretend I don’t get angry or agitated or irritated or frustrated; I just want to deal with those emotions skillfully.  I guess I want a lot of things.

Ila holds Forrest with Mommy's help.
Ila has adjusted back to having her pacifier only at sleep times.  It wasn’t too bad, though I still dread the final adjustment away from the pacifier altogether.  Maybe I should be a tougher parent…or see the long view more, but I do not find it easy to inflict short term suffering in the interest of long term gain.  To be fair to myself, it can be hard to know what short term suffering is worth it when parenting.  Don’t get me wrong, some situations are pretty clear.  I don’t mind the wailing about something she wants me to buy in the store that we are not going to buy.  I don’t mind the hollering when she is upset because we told her not to do something dangerous or unkind.  I mean, I don’t like to see her unhappy, and I want her to understand that there are reasons we don’t buy everything we want or hit people or jump up and down on a block wall, but it’s easy to determine her short term unhappiness about these disciplinary decisions of ours is worth it in these situations.  Others are not so clear cut.  The pacifier.  Going to sleep on her own.  Do you just wait for the child to be ready?  Always?  I don’t want to inflict true anguish.  This is the guiding sentiment behind parenting philosophies that are “child-centered,” I suppose.  It’s my job, then, as a parent to not be guided by an impatient desire to get her to fall asleep on her own or by my worry that the pacifier will be harder to get rid of the longer she uses it.  Basically, impatience and worry are not good motivators, though I frequently feel compelled by them.  Worry is particularly insidious.  For example, having a pacifier has clearly given Ila a tool for negotiating difficult situations, transitions, and feelings.  The thought that it would be easier for me as a parent if I had never let her have one, thus avoiding the difficulty of weaning from the pacifier, is motivated by worry and doesn’t feel like it takes into account what makes the most sense for her.  Sometimes kids need little psychological crutches – pacifiers, sleeping in parent’s bed, having someone sit with them until they fall asleep – these are not forever, but it is hard to remember that.  There isn’t one, straight line of emotional development from infancy to adulthood.  Everyone’s path is different, with all kinds of seeming detours en route.  All this is easier to remember if I focus on staying in the present…if I could just stay present long enough to remember that.