Thursday, October 27, 2011

If I'd only known. . .

I've been a parent for 10 months now. We've all managed to survive. My life revolves around two little people who happily crawl around my house, squealing and tackling each other.

 I wanted to talk about what I would have done differently had I known what I know now, but it's sort of too soon for that -- at least concerning the big questions. I'm thinking more on the lines of stuff. My love for stuff stems from my love of AT, which came from having rheumatoid and trying to be a high school student. A pillow made sitting at wooden desks somewhat bearable. Foam tubing made it possible for me to grasp a pencil. Having the right baby stuff is the difference between an easy day and a miserable day, I've found out. And if you're broke and only temporarily employed, as I am, you can't afford to be picky.

 There's a lot of stuff that I bought that was useless, a lot of stuff I passed on that I wish I had, and some things that I found out about too late to make it worth my while to buy.

 So, if you happen to have a mom with narcolepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiples on your list, you probably know me. But if not, here's what I'd get a new mom with multiples:
1. The Original Arms-Reach co-sleeper  

I had a mini-co-sleeper that I got at a flea market, which is significantly smaller than the original.    I just couldn't justify the $200 price tag for the original at the time. But man, I should have gone for the original. I used the heck out of my mini. Very soon the babies were too big to fit together so I put my daughter in a yard-sale bassinet and used the mini for my son, who had reflux. It was easy to adjust the legs to have him sleep at an incline.  This model also converts to a pack n play when the babies are older -- a useful feature that extends the life and helps justify the price slightly.

I wasn't comfortable co-sleeping, having narcolepsy and all, but this kept the babies close by so I could see them in the "are they breathing" panic attacks I used to have.  Other things that would have worked just as well would have been a pack-n-play with the infant bassinet attachment and a crib divider in the middle or the twin pack n play by Graco. But it has terrible reviews. And none of those offered the ability to simply roll over and look at the babies from the bed.  Neither did my daughter's bassinet.  Reaching over to pick her up out of the bassinet while I was sitting on the bed was very awkward.  It was much easier to lift my son from the co-sleeper.  I have such good memories of rolling over and staring into my baby boy's eyes in the middle of the night, a connection I didn't get to have with the daughter in the bassinet. (Of course, she also would wake up every time I moved, so maybe having that barrier between us was a good thing.)

Also --
The mini co-sleeper came in an odd size that had me souring ebay for the expensive sheets. (I was convinced that anything but the manufacturer's sheets would smother my babies.)  My mom inadvertently put a changing pad cover on the mattress and it fit perfectly.  Word to the wise.

to be continued...  

Monday, August 8, 2011

On having an Olivia

My name is Lesley. With a 'y'. That immediately identifies me as a female from the midwest/South in her 30s or so. You can thank the character "Leslie" on General Hospital in the 70s for having the name cross over to female about that time.

I always liked/hated the status of my name on the fringe of popularity. My sisters might find personalized toys at the stores, but I never did.

My mother is Barbara. You can guess which decade she's from without knowing she's my mom. Smack dab in the middle of the Baby Boom. There were several Barbara's in her class.

My kids were going to have unique names. Different. Not trendy. They might not be able to find a toys with their names on it, but that would be made up for by the awesomeness of whatever names I decided to give them.

Explain to me why I have an Olivia. And how every one else in the world has an Olivia? (In fact, "Olivia" was the 4th most popular girl's name in 2010.)And it why doesn't occur to me to mind one little bit?

It might have something to do with the pig. Ian Falconer's original "Olivia" book came out around 2000. I was working with J, who is non-verbal and liked to call classmates "pig" in sign language, giggle, and run off. J has Angelman Syndrome, a wonderful smile, and an inner life that I can only guess at. Olivia in the original book talked very little, mostly to negotiate with her mother over not wanting to sleep. She dreamed of singing opera and being in her favorite Degas painting. She wore people out. She reminded me so much of J with her mysterious inner life, her unwillingness to sleep, and her love for everyone and everything. Olivia remained one of my favorite characters in kiddie literature, but I refused to look at any subsequent books, especially those spun off of the television show.

My cousin had a baby girl and almost named her Olivia. When she changed the name the week before the baby was due, "Olivia" became lodged in my head as a name I liked.

When I found out I was pregnant, I wrote "Olivia due" on my calendar on the due date. Of course, I did not know that I was having an Olivia with special bonus baby Dominic. It just seemed impossible to name her anything else. She was Olivia in my head from the moment I knew I was having a baby. If I'd had two boys, one would have been Olivia. Or I guess Oliver.

On one hand, it's a tribute to J and her spirit. I think sometimes Olivia has channeled the fiesty spirit of both her namesake character and "Big sister" J who made me fall in love with the character. On the other hand, O is her own person and has been from the minute she was born, floppy and struggling to breathe but fighting off any attempts to help her. I like to tell people that she took on a team of doctors and nurses and won. Her little feet still have purple bruises from the IVs 6 months later. There's a toughness and a sweetness about her that's so fun to watch as she grows, even as I curse that stubbornness every time I put her down for a nap, cut her little toenails, or try to wipe her nose. At 2 months, we noticed that she wasn't just absently staring at the T.V. but that she liked watching hockey. At 5 months, I realized that she wasn't accidentally ramming her brother at full speed in the walker -- she was doing it deliberately and loving it. Even her ultrasounds showed her chewing her brother's foot, pulling her own ear, and shaking her head in protest in a way that I recognize over and over again now.

So yes, everyone may have an Olivia. But no one else has my Olivia.
And thank god she's been asleep long enough to let me write this.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mommy Blogging

So, yeah, I'm unemployed. When I was a grad student, that wasn't so scary. With two six month old babies, a mortgage, a car-seat friendly car (Nissan Cube, not a mini-van ... yet), this is scary.

I loved special ed and hated it.
I talked too much about what I'd like to do. Someone said "You think with your mouth." Yeah, I do. But in the end, budget cutbacks got me.

I do have a degree in creative writing. I should try to write, bring in some income. But trying to write with the twins around is ridiculous. Trying to shower, brush my teeth, clean the litter box, etc. with the twins around is ridiculous.

If I do find a way to make it work, I've been thinking about blogging. Mommy blogging is big big business. Most mommy blogs are really thinly-veiled advertisement sites anymore, where a company sends a product to the blogger and she reviews it, maybe gives away an extra product. Most of the time, you enter into symbiotic relationships with companies where you get a bonus product for mentioning them on your blog or adding a link to them. Add in some stories about the life of a mom and you have a hobby that gets you free stuff.

I need free stuff. Thank god for free stuff. 6 months later and I feel like my babies are still living off the generosity of family and friends and several big-ass baby showers. I subscribe to all the bargain sites but a wonderful organic onsie for half off is still more expensive than Walmart, garage sale, or hand me down onsies. All those sites really do is make me want stuff we're fine without.

Still, there's a certain amount of prostitution if I go the mommy blogger route. I shouldn't feel bad but I do. Twice now, I've won prizes by entering in facebook contests like "Why do you need this carseat?" and "What's your proudest parenting moment?" I've been truthful but it feels dishonest. Dishonest to the tune of $350 worth of prizes, though. (Oh yeah)

But then again, I'm pretty enthusiastic about products that work for me. That's what love about AT -- I think I even have done some posts on here about how certain products make life with rheumatoid arthritis easier. Will it be all that different if I post a few things about life parenting twins with rheumatoid arthritis? Will it change things if I send an email to the manufacturers of, say, the Baby Ktan and tell them how awesome their product has been? Or what if I -don't- like a product?

And also, there's the exploitation factor. My babies are the most exploited babies on facebook ever. I updated my status by the minute through most of my pregnancy and bedrest out of boredom and now as I raise them, out of just appreciation of how absurd and funny and wonderful and upside down my life with them is. But facebook is a somewhat controlled friends-only place. Do I really want my babies to know I joked about punting them like a football when they were fussy and wrapped in swaddles that made them beautifully football-shaped? Do I want them to know about the happy dance I did when my babysitter came back from vacation?

But, well, mommy needs money. Or at least free products. And mommy needs to write.

P.S. Not sponsored by Baby K'tan. Yet.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

6 months later

Haven't posted in a while. The reasons, hopefully, are obvious.

I'll give you a glimpse of my life right now. I'm sprawled across a play area in our living room that we've created by putting down two blankets and those rubber play mat thingys. I'm on my stomach, on my netbook. Immediately to my right is a bouncy chair where my 6 month old daughter O is happily kicking at the dangling Winnie-the-Pooh toys, although she should be napping. Sprawled out on his back next to her is D, her brother (younger by 3 minutes). He has a binkie in his and is dead asleep -- although less than a minute or so ago, he was wailing in frustration because he wants to crawl and get at toys and he can't.

She won't nap until I rock her to sleep. At that point, he'll be awake. And I think one has a nasty diaper to change. Afraid to disturb the universe to check.

The house looks as if it's been hit by a nasty bib-bottle-baby toy tornado.

I am unemployed. Looking for work for the next school year but if I don't find any by the end of July, I will have to give up the babysitter and loose our spots. (Babysitter is on vacation today).

We all are here. Not totally unscathed but close. Considering how much could have gone wrong, and how much started to go wrong, being here is a bit of a miracle.

Now, to hunt down the poop...