E&M: 2.5 Years

Dear Elliott and Mason,

Two and half years already.  Although all of our stages have been great, we are at an exceptionally fun time right now. You two are big enough to understand, communicate, and have the cutest individual personalities, but are young enough to still experience and give pure joy and unconditional love. At times I feel like my heart will burst with love for you when you come snuggle me and give kisses out of the blue, or do something caring like rub my shoulder when I said it was sore. At other times I feel like my head will burst when you show your independent, defiant, toddler-ness. It’s never for long, and it gives your dad and I tons of patience practicing. Your imaginations are starting to grow and you will pretend play with each other or with your toys. We took the rail off your cribs a few months ago and you two have amazed us at how good of a transition you did. Sometimes we have to still go in and lay down the law, but mostly you just talk to each other, make sure nothing has fallen out of the others bed, and laugh.

Elliott–You (and Mason) are starting to use more and more words everyday. You have even started stringing 3 and 4 words together like the other day when you said “momma play choo-choo” and “no dada blow bubble.” I love the little things that come out of your mouth. For father’s day I asked what you wanted to give Ben and you said “purple water,” or “pur-ple wa-wa.” Why? Who knows. But we made some and you proudly took it to him. We have come to realize how analytical you are and how you like a measure of control (A-type personality here we come). Asking or telling you to do something without explanation typically gives us an immediate “no,” but with just a little rationale or information and you understand and do what we ask. Trains and diggers are still your favorite and you’re starting to play more independently. I started a new job last month and now the first thing you say to me in the morning is “momma no work.” This about breaks my heart, and I will treasure it because one day you probably won’t care. You are loving, caring, shy, and goofy goofy goofy.

Mason–for the longest time you both have called me da-momma. I love it. It makes me feel like a loving mob boss. Yet, just recently you started calling me mommy…or rather, maaaaw-meeeee…very emphasized. I’m not sure where you got it, but I keep trying to get you back to momma or da-momma, but you just smile and say Mawww—meeeee. Right now you have about 9- 10 stuffed animals in your bed (pooh, tigger, bear, bunny, monkey, piglet, eeyore, aardvark, elephant pillow pet) and your pillow and blanket. You know when something is missing and you’re not happy until all of your babies are in your bed.  You are becoming a true ham. You have this fake laugh which cracks us up, and love to make animal noises. Your current favorite is the elephant noise, which you do just as loud as real elephant. When I ask you to make a baby elephant sound instead you do it twice as loud and just laugh. You love to read. This week it’s the oo-oo-oo-ooo book that you got from Aunt Katie and family for your birthday. That would be Curious George. These are the longest stories we have read and you patiently sit through them and then want more. Every now and then you get upset before bed because you want “mo book.”–Not because you’re postponing sleep, but because you genuinely love books. We find it very hard to tell you no when it comes to this one so most of the time we oblige until it really is the “last one.” You still love your trains, but are just fascinated by “diggers.” You also can pedal your trike like a champ. It took you about a month, but then we couldn’t stop you from bigger and better things….and we hopefully never will.

There are times when both still want to be held like babies, or just have us hold you while you lay long rather than wrap your legs around us. When this happens I always am surprised at how long your legs go and that you are now longer than half of my body. I celebrate you getting bigger, but cherish your smallness. You are no longer babies, but you are my babies.

Cannon Beach, July 2015

Cannon Beach, July 2015

Concert Park Night

Concert Park Night

Sunday mornings with momma

Sunday mornings with momma

Love momma

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Our Little Trooper

Since the day he was born, the Maseman has had a few extra life experiences than Elliott–and none that he (or we) would call fun. These would include eight days in the NICU (although he came home to a warm house, with parents who finally understood how to adjust the straps on carseat, and not freak out over every tiny thing…sorry Elliott), getting his tongue clipped (he had a tongue-tie, like his momma), having Stricker and seeing the breathing specialist, and the biggest one–having Hypospadia (basically peeing out of a different hole). We knew about this last one since the day he was born, and all the doctors told us that they fix it around 6 months. Now in the beginning, 6 months sounds like forever…it could basically have been 6 years. Also, although the pediatric urologist (or as Ben and I referred to him for a long time…the pee pee doctor), told us it was a 2.5 hour plus surgery, we were still at the two-month mark, and very very delirious, so nothing registered. Well, as the months went on, the 6 month (7 for Mason since they were 4 weeks early) came about before we even knew it, and there we were back in Dr. Lashley’s office (the pee pee doctor) for his pre-op.

Now the surgery was real. It was going to be at least 3 hours with Mason under general anesthesia, breathing tube, the whole sha-bang. After a few terrible Google searches (don’t ever Google anything medical), and looking at what my friend Lucy described as “hippie” websites, I had a small panic attack at work. Then the next day I went to the hospital to give back the pump, and saw where we would check-in. The very nice check-in lady led me through everything (mind you this is a week in advance) and then I had a nice breakdown at the hospital. However once the day was upon us, I was just ready to get it over, and was ultimately glad that we were doing it now when he would have no recollection of it.

But what a tough morning. The saving grace was the medical team and how confident and comfortable they made us feel…oh that, and the Maseman. He was a trooper. And a ham. Everyone fell head-over-heels for our little man. Even when we checked out the nurse told us we could drop him off if we wanted to go on a date night. So we felt that he was well looked after, because let’s be honest, who wants to hand over their 7 month old baby to strangers? For a medical procedure? Nobody. He caused quite the commotion before surgery when he ripped off his ankle bracelet (apparently the nurse had never seen a baby do that), which caused the anesthiologist to get crazy on a couple of nurses (not involved in the surgery thankfully), because he tore the clip off and tried to put it in his mouth-haha…only my kid. But overall, everything went very smooth. He came through with flying colors, woke up, didn’t cry, ate right away, oh yeah, and he basically has a new pee pee. Well, a revamped one. You can look up the procedure if you want. His catheter comes out Friday (surgery was last Thursday), which will be nice because the week has been tough. He hasn’t felt great, his bladder spasms when he pees, and it was hard to sleep in the beginning, but every day is a little better. I’m glad it’s over, will be glad when it’s all over, and am quickly realizing that we now have a lifetime of worrying about these little dudes. This is just one hurdle of many, but if Mason acts anything like he did for everything he has already gone through, I know we will be just fine.

Here he is right before we got to take him home. He looks a little goofy-eyed, but I think that has more to do with my picture taking, then his state at the time.

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Giving it up

It’s been a while since my last post (as I realize that my 7 month letter will need to get written here pretty soon), and the reasoning is really lack of time, rather than lack of stuff to share. We (and by we, I mean Ben) is just about to finish up our new deck, the chickens (and rats–more to come on that) have been in their new house for a while, and the dudes are growing like crazy. All of these stories will be in the following posts, but today’s post is dedicated to my boobs. Disclaimer: this post is about breastfeeding, not boobs, so keep reading at your own discretion and/or interest.

When the boys were born, I decided that I was going to try and breastfeed for one year. I have no idea where this magic number came from, but it sounded good. Basically they would only ever get breast milk. We rented a Medula Symphony pump from the hospital, which thankfully was paid by the insurance for six months. Now I had bought a Medula pump-n-style, but all the lactation nurses couldn’t stress the importance of having a hospital grade pump–mainly because I had twins–and I am soooo very happy that I took their advice. General pumps are fine for now and then, but if you are pumping exclusively, then you need something with a little more umph.

So anyways, here is how it goes with twins (or at least with my twins). You nurse, and then you pump, nurse-pump, nurse-pump-basically so you have enough milk for two babies. In the beginning this almost did me in. I would nurse Elliott, while I bottlefed Mason (so we knew how much he was eating), pump for 30 minutes, sleep for 45 minutes, and do it all over again. Exhausting. Sorry, one more time…EXHAUSTING. Well after about six weeks, I decided to make a change. The pediatrician kept telling me that Mason needed to nurse too, so I decided (with the help of the best bra and pillow in the world) to make a change. I would bottle feed both babies at the same time while I pumped. This gave me back about 45 minutes more sleep each feeding which was life-altering. Then I would nurse them twice a day at the same time (and then pump afterwards). On a side note, I met a woman in Fred Meyer who had 5 week old twins (this was when the boys were 11 weeks) and I asked her how she was doing. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I am so tired. No one understands. No one can prepare you. So tired. I bottle feed one, bottle feed the other one, pump, and then barely have 30 minutes before I do it all over again.” With tears in my eyes, I told her I understood, and then tried to stress the importance of the magic bra, and feeding both babies all at the same time (FYI–you prop them up on pillows facing you). She sniffled, and said, “you multitask?,” and I told her there was no other way with multiple babies.

Anyways, so with my new system something or someone was attached to my boobs 4-5 hours a day. As time went on and the babies dropped down to 6 feedings, this went down to 3 hours, but it was still a lot. As the boys started to drop their night feedings or push them later, I took full advantage of the extra hour or so of sleep until I realized it was affecting my milk supply…because as with everything else, the milk supply is based on demand. So even when the babies were sleeping 8-10 hours a night, I was still waking up every four hours to pump. I always had to insert this into conversations too, even if people didn’t want to know, because they would hear how long the babies were sleeping and say “oh, good for you,” so I had to clarify–THEY were sleeping for 8-10 hours, not momma.

Anyways, although I occasionally complained, it really was okay, but I got tired of being tired. Tired of pumping twice a day at work. Tired of having something attached to my boobs, and again, just plain tired. And on top of that, the boys started to eat more than I was producing. So at 5 months we integrated a small amount of formula (like 1 oz of an 8 oz feeding) into their diets. But at 6 months, I decided that I needed to start sleeping through the night, and I once and for all gave up the 2 a.m. pumping, which quickly led to a dramatic decrease in supply. The boys currently still get a little breast milk each day, but that will end here very soon.

I never thought I would have as much of an issue with this as I am. I feel bad that I cannot provide this for my boys. I feel bad that Elliott will still nurse, and once I stop pumping, this won’t be an option (Mason has lost interest with his new teeth, etc.). These are my own personal issues, and not pressure from society or anyone else. In fact, everyone has been so wonderful, complimentary, and encouraging–I couldn’t ask for better family or friends. And on the lighter side, I keep joking with myself that providing 7 months of breast milk for two babies is like 14 months for one baby, which is well above my goal.

I will say that I am in awe of those mothers (especially the ones that work) who go the distance, but to be honest, this is a very personal, circumstantial thing, where no one should ever judge, and I am in awe of all of those who do it for at least a little while. Thankfully my work supported it. Thankfully I had good insurance to pay for the pump. Thankfully I had a very supportive husband. And thankfully, my body could provide, as some bodies cannot. To this day, I am convinced my milk gave Mason the strength he needed to start eating, because as soon as he was able to get my milk (day 4 in the NICU), he rallied like a champ. I am happy, and will soon have to be content, that I provided milk as long as I can. I will probably miss it more than they will, but all things must come to an end.

So here’s to my boobs. Thank you for providing as much as you could…now take a much needed rest.

When do they eat? When can I sleep?

There are few things that I worry about as a mother. Of course, I want my kids to be healthy, happy, etc. etc., but I did not realize that when I had babies, there were really only two things in the beginning I would really worry about. I also didn’t realize that I was only concerned about these two things, until my friend Laurie (who has a 7 month old), articulated them. When visiting the babies with our friend Becky (who was pregnant at the time), she said…there are only two things you will be concerned with when you have a baby. You will ask yourself, “when do they eat?” and “when do I sleep?” And boy, that is the honest truth. A co-worker recently told me that him and his wife were thinking about having a baby, and they had decided they weren’t going to be like their friends who “are so set on a schedule that they don’t go out anymore.” He told me they were going to be more “go-with-the-flow.” I laughed out loud. I told him that we thought that too, and maybe they will be later on (or maybe they will be from the beginning, but I doubt it), but the only two things you will care about is “when do they eat? and when do I sleep?,” and if anything, ANYTHING, affects those two things, you will not be going out.

Anyways, my basis for this post, is that when my sleep gets more affected than usual (because let’s be honest, when momma doesn’t get sleep, no one wins), we tend to make a change, which has led (probably overdue in each case), to baby milestones. Granted, no mother gets a lot of sleep, but two babies tend to up the ante on most things. So when for three nights in a row at 11 weeks, Mason woke up every 15 minutes after midnight, we moved them to their own room so that I could sleep leading up to that point without the wild animal kingdom background noise. Babies are noisy sleepers (grunting, squealing, and such), and every noise tended to keep me awake, such as when I would hear the pacifier fall out of someone’s mouth and then I would hold my breath, hoping they wouldn’t wake up (apparently Ben told me, he did the exact same thing when he would hear it fall out).

So on Saturday night (the eve of Mother’s Day), the start of our next milestone happened. It first started out like a typical night: at one a.m. I pump. Typically I am awake for about an hour doing this, but this night there was a weird sound outside which was driving Abby crazy, so the night went like this:

  • 1:15 a.m. wake-up and pump
  • 1:45 Abby whining and pacing
  • 2:15 Mason crying
  • 2:30 Abby whining, Ben and I checking the weird noise
  • 3:30 Ben’s first alarm goes off
  • 3:45 Ben’s second alarm goes off & Mason crying
  • 4 a.m. Ben leaves for work
  • 4:15 Abby barking, I hear someone going through our recycling…momma up, lights on looking around
  • 4:45 both babies SCREAMING
  • 5:15 Mason crying
  • 5:30 Elliott crying
  • 6 a.m. Feed both babies
  • 6:45 Mason crying

Etc. etc.

The weird noise? Raccoons.

Anyways, Sunday night was a repeat minus the raccoons, but more of both babies crying and Ben and I realized that they were waking each other up. They have both started rolling, and although I thought they might still like sleeping together, it seemed time to do two things: set-up the 2nd crib, and stop swaddling them. Now separate cribs was one thing, but I was very worried about giving them access to their arms. They had stopped doing the “baby startle,” or as Ben and I called it “the praise Jesus,” but a sudden movement can wake a baby like nothing else. But on Monday night, we rearranged, stopped the swaddle, and held our breath. After the first night, I realized that we had waited too long. They did great, and although they still sometimes wake up at night, the incidents are much fewer and farther between. Elliott loves to sleep on his tummy (and suck on his hands), and Mason is still doing the clockwork exercise. He rotated 270 degrees last night. I’m glad that they are happy, but selfishly, I am happy. I still wake up for the one a.m. pump (which is getting old), but it’s starting to feel less like I am awake from that point on.

So our big boys are now in their own space:

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Can you spot Elliott? Two cribs
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Momma organized this weekend! Ben’s old skateboards Mason spread out

and everyone is sleeping much better.

Even momma.

First Mother’s Day

Nearing the end of my pregnancy, I would take walks with Abby around the neighborhood and think about what I hoped my babies would be like. For example, I want them to be kind, respectful, adventurous, passionate, smart, athletic, honest, and outdoorsy. I want them to completely understand equality, so much so that they don’t question another person’s differences. I want them to have an open and honest relationship with Ben and I. The list goes on and on, and someday I’ll probably write it down so I can show the boys when they are older, but I never really thought about what I wanted to be like as a mother.

As my first Mother’s Day is tomorrow, I am now reflecting on what it means to be “momma” and although as the boys get older this list will change, here is what I hope for so far. I want to be a momma that:

  • raises kind, respectful boys who understand that respect is not something you can demand, but is something that is earned. And to gain respect, you need to give it.
  • creates an environment where differences are celebrated, not questioned. My boys can be anything they want (or inherently are), and I want them to think that way of others.
  • teaches the importance of healthy living in all aspects of life.
  • fosters a playful house where getting dirty outdoors is recommended, and screen time (such as video games) is the exception, not the rule.
  • is adventurous and shows the boys that trying new things is empowering, and even though sometimes we fail, we learn from those experiences.
  • is not afraid to see her boys fail at times or show them that sometimes momma’s can fail too.
  • is not afraid to say no, and understands that children thrive in a home with boundaries and rules, as long as they make sense.
  • knows that rules are sometimes meant to be bent or broken.
  • shows the importance of helping others and giving.
  • gives unconditional love, and teaches boys that affection (and at times showing weakness), is not a sign of weakness, but of confidence in one’s self.
  • listens and reflects instead of reacts.
  • teaches them independence and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions.
  • shows the value of family and friends.
  • plays games, reads books, eats family dinner at the table, and talks about current events and affairs.
  • and most importantly, always loves with her whole heart, celebrates the tiniest of moments, recognizes the need for patience, and lets the little things roll.

Again, there are many more things that I want to be as a momma, but I think this is a good start. I have an exceptional mother and grandmother that laid a good foundation, along with many other “second” mothers out there.  I know that I can always lean on any of them for guidance and direction.

Four generations: (from left to right) my grandma Gail, mom Terri, late great-grandma Olga, and me

Four generations: (from left to right) my grandma Gail, mom Terri, late great-grandma Olga, and me

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommas out there.

Love, this first-time momma

Worth it

As I’ve said many many times…two babies is a lot of babies. But with a lot of babies, you get some experiences that are unique to multiples, and make this momma very happy. Like what you say?

Seeing this:

Snuggle bunnies

Snuggle bunnies

The love to snuggle with each other. And now they are moving like crazy in the crib, which at first I thought meant we were going to have to put up the other crib, but at 4 a.m. this morning. Ben asked me how I had laid them in the crib. I told him the normal way, side-by-side heads towards the wall. Why? Ben told me they had done a complete 180. I thought he meant 90 degrees until I went in and saw them…yep, a complete 180, heads facing the room…bodies still side-by-side…too cute (and pretty skilled). As long as they move as one, they can stay sleeping together.

Also? Matching outfits! Well, not matching…but similar. I love putting them in the same outfit but in different colors. Never thought I would…but how cute are they:

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Avenger’s onesies from Auntie Jen

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Track suits from grandma (Elliott is worried he might actually have to running)

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Spring time onesies from Auntie Jordan (these were the first things ever given to us for the boys)

And it goes on and on. I also love to see how different their personalities are from big things such as development styles and little things, such as personality traits. For instance, we gave them each Disney toys from their Aunt Darla. Elliott got Pooh bear…because, well he kind of looks like Pooh, and Mason got Tigger. Elliott is indifferent to Pooh. Yeah, he’ll gnaw on him, but he doesn’t really care. BUT Mason on the other hand LOVES Tigger…LOVES. He lights up when he sees him (and when we pretend Tigger is kissing his face), but also loves to snuggle with him:

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Awww

They are changing and growing so fast. More to come on that in their next letter.

So all in all…two babies is a lot of babies…but worth it all the same.

The 1st Week Back

It’s Saturday, April 6, 2013, which means I survived the first week back at work. I knew I would, I knew it would be tough, and I’m already not looking forward to Monday, but we all made it, which means…we will continue to survive. There were a few bright spots during the week. Monday was the lowest day as expected. I cried before I got out of bed, cried when I left, cried when I got to work, cried when I got in the car to drive home, and…you guessed…cried when I saw the babies. But that was the only day of tears (momma got tougher). After Monday, I decided to enjoy my time in the land of adults again, and embrace and celebrate the special bonding time the babies were getting with their grandma and father. The more time you spend with them, the more you want to see them, so I’m glad that they get the experience that I do, and in turn the babies get that time too. Instead of coming home when they are at their fussiest, Ben now gets to see them coo and smile, and get to really know their little personalities. Plus it helps him know their tricks better so when they are fussy at night, he can calm them down. It’s also amazing to come home to their smiles, and know that they didn’t forget about me in the hours I was away. They still know that I am, and always will be, momma.

What I came home to this week:

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Arms full

Elliott helping daddy doing dishes

Elliott helping daddy doing dishes

Quack!

Quack!