Sunday, March 25, 2007


Here are the gals (Elsa left, Clio right) at 12 weeks, sporting their peas-n-carrots onesies, hand-painted by the lovely and talented Jennifer Kimball. Both girls are wearing their best "can we end the damned photo shoot and take a nap already?" faces.

We did, in fact, put them down for a nap after trying in vain for about fifteen minutes to get them both to smile at once. They slept for maybe 20 minutes, then Clio woke up and started expressing herself, which woke Elsa up. After trying unsuccessfully to get them to go back to sleep, we brought them both downstairs. Clio promptly fell back asleep in A's arms, while Elsa, quite distressed, fussed in mine.

They've definitely been reacting to each other more lately, waking each other up and upsetting each other with their crying. Not always, mind you. If one is truly sound asleep, she won't wake up when the other one cries, and if one is in a great mood she won't get upset if the other one is pitching a fit. But if they're both on the edge, forget about it.

Example: last night I started to feed a very hungry Elsa at around 6:30. Clio was starting to get restless, kvetching a bit in her swing, but I thought she'd be able to hold out until Elsa was done. No such luck. I tried to change gears and feed them both at once, but it was too late. Clio was so worked up she wouldn't nurse, and when I took Elsa off the breast -- the other breast, that is -- to try to help Clio out, Elsa started screaming, and before I knew it I had a full-scale double meltdown on my hands. (Of course, this only happens when A. is out, which he was, at the gym, apparently trying to set a new personal record for time spent on the treadmill.) Neither baby could be consoled, not even for a few seconds. At one point I was so frustrated and frazzled I just had to place them ever-so-goddamned-gently down in the pack-n-play and take a breather while they screeched. (Step away from the babies, ma'am!) In the end I bottle-fed them both.

So, two valuable lessons learned, both of which we capitalized on today. First, we're starting to sleep them in their separate cribs for naps and for the first part of the night, before we bring them into the bedside crib in our room. Yes, yes, it's adorable to see them side by side in one crib, I know, but it's not so adorable when they're doing tag-team catnaps, becoming steadily more cranky and overtired and miserable.

Lesson two: start the early evening feeding before the girls start acting visibly hungry. They'll gladly eat, and the chances of a double feature scream-fest are greatly diminished. I did this tonight with excellent results. (Aside: the Nystatin treatment for thrush is definitely working. Clio is nursing much more happily now, last night's freak-out notwithstanding, and Elsa's tongue no longer looks like she just downed a vanilla shake all the time. My, er, issues have also improved.)

Today was pleasant for another reason, too: I think we found ourselves a church. This deserves a post of its own, but every time I say I'm going to post about something next time, I never get around to it, so here goes: we went out to breakfast with the girls at the only breakfast place we know of that's roomy enough and un-crowded enough on a weekend morning to accomodate us and two bambinas in carseats. The service and the food are both mediocre, but we're strangely fond of the place. It's shabby and dimly lit, full of bad framed artwork and fake flowers and mismatched coffee cups and wobbly tables. It's also near the Unitarian Universalist Church we've been meaning to check out for a while. Today, on a whim, we did.

It's a little like the breakfast restaurant, in that it's a bit sad; a Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree sort of church, with barely 100 members. But everyone was so kind and warm. The congregation is a ragtag mix of families and couples and kids and old ladies (every church must have its old ladies) and lesbians (every UU church must have its lesbians), with a tattooed, former punk-rocker minister who isn't the most impressive orator, but seems like a genuinely good guy.

I was raised Congregational, and my family was very active in our church, something I wasn't always crazy about as a kid, but which I value in retrospect -- along with piano lessons and no sugar cereal and not being allowed to get one of those green and white Benetton rugby shirts like every other girl in the 6th grade because they're fifty dollars for God's sake, and why should we pay fifty dollars for you to advertise for them? They should pay YOU that much to wear their name on your chest. Absolutely not. We can get you a perfectly good rugby shirt from Read's for less than half that price. (And so we did; blue and red. I wore it with fake pearls.)

Ahem. Anyway, neither A nor I have gone to church on a regular basis in our adult lives, but we've dabbled in the world of Unitarianism, and while its earnest and sometimes self-congratulatory liberalness can get on our nerves, it is also the religion that's more in synch with our values and views than any other, mainly by virtue of not really being a religion.

We want Elsa and Clio to be a part of some kind of spiritual community, get some basic Judeo-Christian grounding, and have something to fight with us about every Sunday morning when they're 13. Maybe they'll even use the same arguments my brother and I did: "It's a beautiful day out, Mom. Don't you think God would be happier if we spent it outside?" Which really means: we want to stay inside in our pajamas, eat Kix, and watch Woody Woodpecker cartoons and the Abbott and Costello movie.

My point is: this church felt good. It felt right. I like the idea of our family (holy crap, we're a family!) becoming a part of it.

Peas-n-carrots out, man.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Clio the Claw, Part 2

It appears that Ms. Clio (and most likely her sister, too) may have a mild case of oral thrush. I knew that this was a possible explanation for Clio's nursing woes all along. But since the girls didn't have white patches on the insides of their cheeks and lips, which is the most common symptom in infants, and since I didn't have sore / inflamed / otherwise beleaguered nipples, it didn't seem likely. Enter the sore / inflamed / otherwise beleagured nipples.

I can't believe I'm writing about my nipples on the internets. Ah, well.

Anyway, we took the girls into the pediatrician today, and she thought that the coating on their tongues, which I'd heretofore assumed was milk (and which may well be...) looked suspiciously thick. Bottom line: to be safe, we are treating them (and me) for thrush.

It's a pain in the ass -- Nystatin drops in their mouths after feedings four times a day, ointment for me, and we have to boil everything (pacifiers, bottles, pump parts, etc.) every day. I'm taking acidophilus, drinking Pau D'Arco tea, and am theoretically going to cut down on sweets and carbohydrates, which is supposed to help. But I'm not too good at dietary restrictions. Especially when their benefit is questionable at best. It could, I suppose, knock off the last 8 pregnancy pounds.

So, a svelter me and a happier Clio coming soon to a blog near you? Let's hope so.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Clio the Claw

It's been more than a week now since Clio has become an extremely temperamental breastfeeder, often yelling and resisting after the first 5 minutes or so of nursing. Sometimes she'll go back on a little later after calming down, sometimes she won't. Sometimes if I give up and offer her a bottle she'll gulp it down, other times she won't.

I don't think it's reflux; her crying doesn't sound like pain, but anger and frustration. The little clawmarks on my chest from her flailing further suggest that she's not uncomfortable so much as pissed off. I've talked to the pediatrician, a La Leche volunteer, a lactation consultant and the overnight nanny now. So far, the following possibile explanations have surfaced: she's gotten lazy and gets frustrated when the flow slows down after the first 5 minutes, she's gotten incredibly efficient and is just done faster, she's teething and it hurts her gums to suck, or possibly some combination of all three.

I'd like to add the following additional theories to the list:
1. She's fiercely heterosexual, and the idea of sucking on another female's breast is repellent to her
2. She's actually gay but in denial, so the fact that she loves sucking on another female's breast frightens and upsets her
3. She's feeling left out because Elsa gets medicine for a feeding issue and she doesn't, so she's totally faking
4. She's on a hunger strike in protest of our use of disposable diapers instead of cloth
5. She knows I'm going back to work soon, and is subconsciously preparing herself for the fact that soon she'll mostly be drinking from bottles. (This explanation would also mean that she understands English, which is pretty exciting.)

So, yes, my return to work looms -- I go back on April 2. And it worries me that once Clio starts getting bottles more frequently, she'll lose all remaining interest in breastfeeding. Not the end of the world, of course, but a little troubling.

Breastfeeding concerns aside, I'm mostly looking forward to going back to work. I think. It's only 25 hours a week (2 full days, 2 mornings) so I don't think I'm going to suffer from major separation anxiety. In some ways I think it will be nice to have my time more clearly regimented: work time, baby time, and me time -- that would be Thursday afternoons and Friday mornings, when the nanny will be here and I'll theoretically be able to work on my novel.

On the other hand, having to spend any time at all in corporateland may be tough. I have a hard enough time taking advertising and marketing seriously as it is. Now, with my two fab daughters waiting at home, smiling and learning and growing every day, I may find it even harder not to roll my eyes when people say things like, "We're getting some real traction with this campaign," and "Let's find new, out-of-the-box ways to leverage our brand equity," and "flush things out." Oh yes. I'm really gonna lose it the first time I hear someone say "flush things out."

Friday, March 16, 2007

I heart Elsa & Clio

OK, it's official; I have a total crush on my daughters. And not just because they're sleeping longer at night -- recently doing 5 hour stretches between feedings -- although that certainly is endearing. Mostly it's just that they're turning into such little people.

Elsa will sit in her bouncy seat and grin and squeal with delight at the little stuffed bunny hanging from the crossbar, then give me this sheepish smile, like "I know it's a little silly to get so excited about a bunny, but...A BUNNY!!!" And Clio loves to hang out in her new rainforest chair (a loaner, courtesy of the rad Baby Daddy family). She'll bat at the dangling toys with her feet and hands (not quite intentionally...not yet), which turns on the music and causes the plastic waterfall to light up and the treefrog to move and then she'll just stare at the stuff with a sort of bemused smile on her face, like "Shit, can you believe it? This is CRAZY, man!"

Also, they almost cuddle a little bit now when I pick them up. A tiny hand on my shoulder, a tiny head nuzzling against my neck. Damn, it's sweet. Almost makes me feel like I'm more to them than just a dairy bar.

It's easily enough to outweigh things like the fact that Clio has been a royal pain in the ass the past few days when it comes to nursing. I don't know what her deal is, but she'll nurse happily and voraciously for 5 minutes or so, then pull off and start yelling and clawing at my chest. She's not happy if I try to put her back on, not happy if I don't. Then usually she'll calm down, suck on a pacifier for a little while, and act like she's not hungry at all. Until about 15 minutes later, when she starts crying to be fed, and we repeat the whole routine. Other times, she'll nurse for 5-10 minutes, then start bobbing and slipping on and off the breast like she's forgotten how to latch on. She doesn't show signs of reflux like her poor sister did before Zantac (and did again when I cruelly decided to take her off for a couple of days to see how she did -- one piercing scream of pain was all it took to end that experiment, and make me feel horrible). So who knows what's going on. Maybe it's just a rebellion thing. Crazy Clio.

Well, I normally would balance things out here by writing about some pain in the ass thing that Elsa does -- probably her talent for filling her diaper so completely that she manages to gets poop all up and down her back, on everything she's wearing, and some things she's not -- but as you can see, it's 3:30 in the morning. I've been pumping, the bottles are full, and it's time to go back to bed.

Monday, March 12, 2007

From the customer service department

To expedite and improve our newborn services, we've created the following questionnaire. Please submit completed forms to the nearest parental unit, and one of us will do our best to respond to and resolve your complaint within thirty (30) seconds.

I am fussing and crying because (check as many as apply):

-- I am hungry
-- I have a soiled / uncomfortably wet diaper
-- I am gassy
-- I am overtired
-- I want to be held
-- There is no pacifier in my mouth
-- I'm bored of staring at this windowsill / wall / piece of furniture and would like to stare at a different windowsill / wall / piece of furniture
-- My foot is caught in the leg of my sleeper and it's bugging me
-- My sister is crying, and her unhappiness distresses me
-- I'm sitting in a bouncy seat / swing, and I'd rather be lying on my back
-- I'm lying on my back, and I'd rather be sitting in a bouncy seat / swing
-- I'm lying on my stomach, but I'd rather be in downward dog
-- This outfit makes me look fat
-- I feel like you don't really "get" me
-- I am frustrated by the administration's lack of a clear exit plan for Iraq
-- I honestly don't know
-- It's just something to do
-- I like to watch as you try in vain to figure out how to make me stop
-- Global warming
-- Other (Please explain. Please. For the love of God.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Babies do the darnedest things

Much has been made of the girls’ smiling abilities. But what of their other talents? Surely, you say, they must do more than simply lie about moonily grinning. Dear reader, prepare to be dazzled , dumbfounded, and delighted as I tell of the infantile feats and fancies of Mlles Elsa and Clio.

Lint Collection. The twins are amazingly adept at this. Look between their fingers or toes or in the creases of their palms at any given time, and you’re sure to find little bits of fuzzy gunk. How does it get there? Where does it come from? I’m not quite sure. I suppose some of it comes from my own clothing, which they tend to clutch in their little mitts while nursing. And the toe fuzz must come from the inside of their sleepers. I love to pick and pluck at things, so I’m perfectly content to play the role of monkey mama , clearing the stuff from between their fingers with mine and flossing between their toes with baby wipes. But it is strange how often I find myself doing it. Those gals really like their lint. I guess ultimately it's a sad commentary on my housekeeping abilities and/or the rate at which our cat sheds.

Squealing / Squawking. The ladies’ noisemaking repertoire has expanded beyond grunts, snorts, elephantine trumpeting sounds, and crying to include some little gurgles, squeals, and phlegmy guttural interjections of what I can only assume is pleasure, as they tend to make them when they’re lying on their backs smiling and kicking after a good feeding. They don’t really coo, but they do make some short vowel-sound bursts. Clio has her own trademark squawk, which sounds something like “Bwah!” and can indicat e either excitement/contentment, or annoyance and impending despair. It’s like Chinese; a slight difference in intonation changes the meaning completely.

Looking at things.
This is one of the ladies’ favorite pastimes. Though we eagerly dangle brightly colored, developmentally appropriate toys of all kinds in front of their faces, what really seems to captivate them are furniture, walls, ceilings, windows, picture frames, piles of laundry, and other developmentally irrelevant objects. Eyebrows, hairlines and long hair are also popular.

Speed-Nursing. During their first few weeks, each baby would nurse for anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes. Clio would have hung out and nursed all day, alternately slurping and snoozing if I’d let her. Now, I’m pleased to report, the average nursing time clocks in closer to 15 minutes per baby. Clio is still a more leisurely – and sloppier – eater, and Elsa has been having some acid reflux issues, making for some fussy feedings and a lot of spit-up (baby Zantac seems to help somewhat) but overall , their nursing aptitude and efficiency has made impressive gains. I finally understand why people say nursing is more convenient than bottle feeding.

Production of simulated ricotta cheese. Otherwise known as spitting up. Both ladies excel, but Elsa, as previously mentioned, has the edge. Both babies are also good at initiating games of "hide-and-go-puke" wherein they spit up whilst being burped and we don't notice until later when we see (or feel) the wet, clotty stains all over the bed / couch / our clothes / etc. Fun for the whole family!

Swimming. OK, not exactly swimming, per se. But they’ve become quite agreeable about being bathed. Part of this we think is due to the fact that we’re submerging them more completely in the water, rather than using the hammock contraption that came with the little plastic tub, so they don’t get as cold. But I like to think that it’s also because they’re learning to appreciate the finer things in life, a nice warm bath being chief among them. Soon, we hope, they’ll feel the same way about sleep.

Next time (probably) the story of our quest for a part-time nanny/sitter as I prepare to return to work.