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Archive for April, 2009

National Infertility Week

This week, April 25 – May 2, is National Infertility Awareness Week®, a movement to raise awareness about the disease of infertility which affects 7.3 million Americans.

Do your part to help others understand infertility’s physical and emotional challenges by joining our “ONE THING” campaign to raise awareness and de-stigmatize infertility.

If you could tell a non-infertile friend, relative, co-worker or stranger ONE THING about your struggle with infertility what would it be?

-It’s National Infertility Week

Visit Resolve for additional information on NIA week and Infertility, or click here for Things You Can Do During NIA Week.

Additional HDYDI post on Infertility:
NPR Segment on Multiples and Infertility

Recovering From Infertility

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This morning, one of my husband’s college friends sent news that they’re expecting twins. I have heard of a lot of multiples since becoming a twin mom, but all of those announcements have been through my local multiples group. This is my first experience with a real-life friend becoming pregnant with multiples. I had no idea how excited I would be!  I can’t stop myself from making the longest mental list of advice (and assvice). Before responding to their request for advice, I need to narrow down my response. So… what three things would you tell a real-life friend expecting multiples? They already have one kid, so they’re not rookie parents. Here’s my gut reaction advice:

1. Pick up Dr. Barbara Luke’s book When You’re Expecting Twin, Triplets, and Quadruplets. Read the nutrition information, pre-term labor, and prematurity sections. Post the pre-term labor signs on your fridge.

2. Make sure you are going to an OB that specializes in high-risk (or multiple) pregnancies.

3. Line up as much help as humanly possible for after the babies are born.

What do you think? What would be your best three tips?

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I had a lot of rules when picking names for my kids.  I didn’t want their names to rhyme or start with the same letter, I wanted them to be easy to spell and pronounce.  All names beginning with the letter J or H were ruled out, as were many names of crazy relatives.  One thing I did want, however, was the possibility for nicknames.  That’s one of the reasons we went with Rebecca over Sarah.

Ice Cream for Dinner

And yet… in over a year and a half, I never called her anything but her full name.  We would sometimes say “Dan” for Daniel, but by and large we used their full names all the time.  It felt a little silly, since I had picked these names in part because of their ability to be shortened, yet here I was saying the whole thing every time.

Enter: toddler language development.  Rebecca has always said “Daniel” pretty clearly.  Daniel called her “Nee nee” for a while.  And then, unprompted, he started saying “Becca.”  And now that they’ve started referring to themselves with their own names, she calls herself “Becca.”  The funny thing is that I almost feel like that has given me permission to start calling her that, myself. Weird, huh?

Ice Cream for Dinner

I think it comes down to who you expect to bestow nicknames on kids.  Growing up, I was always the full-on Elizabeth where my family was concerned. But somewhere in late-middle school, my friends started to call me Liz.  Liz has stuck and it’s how almost everyone knows me… yet my mother will never, ever call me anything but Elizabeth.  So, in my mind, I guess I expect peers to pick nicknames.

My aunt, on the other hand, was always a Liz because that was the nickname her mother called her.  My aunt Liz named her son Christopher, and was somewhat distressed when his peers started calling him “Chris,” because she didn’t call him that.  In her mind, nicknames are picked by parents.

So, what about you, dear readers?  Did you pick a longer name for your kids but always knew you’d call them by the short version?  Did you pick a nickname-proof name to avoid the whole thing?  What is your take on nicknames and who “gets” to decide on them?

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In honor of my grandfather, who was in the hospital this week, I am recycling this post.  Glad you are finally home Pap! We love you!

I love taking my kids to visit my grandparents, because my Nina and Pap seem more alive around Jonathan and Faith. Whereas I can feel worn out and beaten up, my grandparents seem to absorb some of the youthfulness of my children. Their eyes light up, they laugh, point, clap and encourage. They have nothing but time to enjoy their great-grandchildren. The messes don’t concern them. The broken semi-treasures are of no concern. The fingerprints and smudges bring them joy days after our visit. It is so very good for me to see my twin toddlers through their eyes.

Yesterday, we went to the park with them. My 85 year-old grandfather pulled the kids in their choo-choo wagon part of the way. My 77 year-old grandmother whipped out a bag from her pocket and the kids were shown how to collect pine cones. Everything we did was unrushed, and unhurried. I was conscious of my Pap’s bad hip, and slowed my pace. I saw laughter in my Nina’s eyes when Jonathan started getting into mischief, which helped me to see him through her eyes, and I didn’t get angry with him.I am so very disappointed that I forgot my camera, but I was mentally taking pictures of little Faith reaching up to take Pap’s hand. And although he is awfully heavy, Nina carried Jonathan when his chubby little arms reached up to her, pleading for her to carry him.  What will stay with me in the years to come was Nina saying:

If ever there was something in the world that felt better than a little hand in mine, I have never felt it.

Share a grandparent story or memory with us! What have you learned from the grandparent figures in your life?

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Disclaimer: I love my twins. They are fantastic and I have a great family. Most days, I love having twins. Yesterday was not one of them.

Dear moms of singletons (who tell me—incessantly—how great it is that I have twins because they play together),

My son, who is a quiet little guy, spoke his first sentence yesterday a week after his second birthday. In fact, he’d never even said a two word sentence, and we got three—subject, verb and object. Go Danny.  And what did he say?

“Bite! Abby bite. Abby bite. Abby bite Danny!”

Yep, it was a day of firsts in my house. Abigail bit for the first time at 4pm—and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th before bed at 7pm—and Danny spoke his first sentence. Somehow I should be happier about this developmental gain. Right? Right?

Yep, moms of one. Enjoy your lonely singleton. He may not have anyone to play with, but at least he is not covered in teeth marks.

Rebecca
Mom to Danny & Abigail, age 2

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When the boys were newborns, one of the things I hated to hear from twin moms with older twins was how much things get easier when they start playing together. I would ask when that was and they would say, “Oh, close to 3.” Peoples, if you come upon a mom of newborn twins, NEVER tell them things get so much easier THREE YEARS in the future.

But seriously, they were right. It’s as if some switch has been flipped in our house. Nate and Alex, who turn 3 next month, spend countless hours playing together with minimal interference. They talk and laugh and play. They also fight, but they’re getting better about working it out themselves. And they’re old enough now to know if they choose to solve their problems with physical violence, they go to timeout.

It really hit home this weekend when Nate helped Alex. My husband and I had gone out for a date, and the boys were completely fine with us leaving. When they went to bed, Alex started crying for us. The sitter said she walked upstairs to comfort Alex but by the time she got there, Nate had already comforted Alex and calmed him down just by talking to him.

Lightbulb moment: instead of two kids making each other crazy, I’m starting to see glimpses of two kids being brothers to each other. And they’re not even three.

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I always knew I would never be a stay-at-home mom. I’ve always loved math and science, and along with that has come the understanding that I’m a tad different. Looking through my childhood pictures, you will see me standing there as the lone girl on the math team, the junior engineering team, and the science team, to name a few. As an adult, I have a successful software career and I had always planned to continue that after having children. During my maternity leave, I learned something that was hard to admit: I would never make a good stay-at-home mom. I am a much better mother and wife when I work at a job outside the home. And I feel very good that part of my income goes to people who love being around children all day.

We researched two child care options: nanny and group day care. I telecommute full-time so our first preference was to have the kids out of the house. However we had a backup plan to hire a nanny if the boys were born too prematurely. North Carolina has a star rating system for group facilities, so we used this list a starting point to visit and interview 5 star day cares. When visiting facilities, we were astounded at the differences in equipment, facilities, staff, and general environment. When we walked into the center where my kids would end up, it just felt RIGHT. The babies were happy. The staff was friendly and open, chatting with parents as they passed through. They have an indoor gym so they always get exercise no matter the weather. They were willing to let my twins sleep in cribs next to each other. And most importantly, I felt confident in the director, who plays a huge part in how a facility is run.

I’m happy to report my gut instinct was right. We have been incredibly happy with our day care, and have referred six other families to the same facility. It is a place I know my children are loved, well-cared for, well educated, and happy.

What I love about group day care:

* Teaches me to be a better parent. My day care has taught me so much about caring for my kids! They see such a wide variety of kids so they always have a solution to our problems. From getting the boys to nap to getting them on sippy cups to dealing with a biting phase, they have helped me through some tough times.
* Socialization. My kids have a lot of friends they’ve known their entire lives. They get to experience peer relationships outside of the twin dynamic on an ongoing basis. For example, Alex gets to boss other kids around while Nate gets to be bossed around.
* Convenience. It is open almost every day of the year. If a teacher is sick, there’s another teacher to cover. I can be a few minutes late  or early and it’s okay.
* Structured activity. This was very important to us. We wanted our kids to participate in a wide variety of learning experiences. Every day they have structured music time, reading time, circle time, and outside time as well as structured meals and snacks.
* Access to lots of qualified babysitters who know my kids. I’ve gotten bolder about asking people if they babysit on the side. In this economy, the answer is frequently yes.
* Practice for “real” school.  I’ve learned a lot about communicating with teachers and caregivers, how to handle issues when they come up, and when to make a stink about something or let it slide. I’ve also learned how one of my boys will click with a certain teacher and the other will not. And we’ve gotten really good at the morning scramble. I’m taking all this in as practice for “real” school.

What I do not love about group care:
* Germs.
* Germs.
* Germs.

Make no mistake about it, kids in group care get exposed to tons of germs. I can not stress this enough to twin parents considering this option. When I look back at my blog from the first cold and flu season in group care, I’m surprised to see any posts NOT about illness. You name the illness, my boys have had it.

But! This goes back to the science thing. I believe people build an immune system by exposure. This year was my boys’ third cold and flu season in day care and they barely caught anything at all. The first year, I’m not quite sure how we survived. The second year, it was easier as they didn’t catch quite as much. This year, it was incredibly easy. And I feel conflicted about the following fact, but since my kids have had so many colds and illnesses, being sick doesn’t really bother them. They can cough all night and it doesn’t disrupt their sleep. Only fevers and ear infections really seem to disrupt sleep, both of which are cured by some Motrin and getting in bed with mom and dad.

However, a major factor in our ability to deal with illness is our (awesome) jobs. My company allows me to work with a sick kid at home, and my husband’s company has a very liberal sick leave policy. Knowing our kids would miss school with these illnesses at some point anyway, we decided it was better to do it while we both had jobs that fit so well with being working parents.

As for being a working mom, I love it, but I also feel strongly that I have a job that fits a working mom lifestyle. That is why I so very very very rarely talk about my job publicly – I want to keep it as long as possible! Since I don’t commute to work, I say good-bye to the boys at 8:25 and hello again at 5:05. We have at least 4.5 hours a day together as a family, more if someone wakes up early. While it does take significant effort to achieve balance between working, family, friends, chores, and me time, it is the right choice for me and my family.

And I am so very incredibly thankful to all the women in math and science who blazed the trail before me to give me the choice to be a working mom in a career I love.

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