What’s new with the Habertwins?

After BathHere is a sampling of what’s new and interesting (or not) in the lives of Meri and Alex (and those of us sequestered to care for them).

Day Care

As of the first of March, Jess is back to work. Which means that the girls were now spending their days at day care. Jess was anxious to get back to work as well as anxious to leave the girls. I was just ready to begin the next phase. Luckily, the lady who we have watching the girls is outstanding. She only watches infants and has help in the form of some Boise State nursing students. She is a twin and had twins, so she knows exactly what we’re going through. “Grandma Pam” we call her. Grandma Pam has scrubbed their cradle cap off. She feeds and holds and generally loves on them. The girls couldn’t be happier.

Of course, they weren’t there 4 days before we get a call that a few other kids there were diagnosed with RSV. Luckily, we dodged that bullet… for now. However, that very next week both of the girls got colds which they then gave to me. Weak sauce. You can just call her “Typhoid Meri” since she was the first to get it and infect us. You know, the only thing worse than getting up at all hours of the night to deal with sick twins?  Doing it while sick yourself. I think I have permanent brain damage from the experience. In fact, in the past month, I’ve been sick 2 separate times. I think my body is finally disintegrating.

In fact, there was a time a couple weeks ago when our entire house was sick. Both twins and both parents. We shoulda just napalmed our whole house to keep the disease from spreading.

Feeding Time… and I mean NOW!

We were on a good track here. Notice the past tense “were” there. A couple weeks ago, the girls were pushing 5 or 5½ hours between feedings at night. Well, then some sort of switch was flipped and the girls turned into bottomless pits which we could not keep full. Overnight we went from 5 back down to 2½ or 3 hours between feedings. That first night Meri ate 7 ounces of milk at one feeding. We had to refill her bottle 3 times. For reference, on the day care sheet for the previous Monday, it said she ate a total of 8oz over the 8 hours she was there. So, yeah, a drastic increase.

After 2 days of their new “schedule” Jess was running out of breastmilk. She just couldn’t keep up with their demand. We had already made the switch to full time bottles (no actual breast time for the girls) in an effort to streamline things.  We were getting dangerously low on our breastmilk stores since they were now eating 2 or 3 times what they were just a few short days previous. Coupled with Meri’s dairy intolerance we had to talk to the doc to come up with a plan. The doctor put us onto a soy based formula which should work for them. So, for a few days we were mixing formula with breastmilk in an effort to make it a bit more palatable for them. I’m guessing this step was unnecessary since they were eating like a 500lb. guy at an all you can eat buffet.  Judging by how they suck it down, they like the formula just fine.

For the record, I’d like to debunk a popular myth that I’ve had repeated to me. “Formula helps keep babies full and they sleep longer than on breastmilk.” Yeah… um… not really. We are now giving the girls formula at night, and it makes no bit of difference in how long they sleep. They are just as hungry at 3 hours on formula as they were on breastmilk. Thanks conventional wisdom for getting my hopes up that I might get to sleep a little more. Screw you.

At least the stress we had with worrying about how much milk we had and how much they were eating is mostly gone. We just stick food in their face until the stop eating.

Unfortunately there have been nights where we end up feeding all night long. Since we don’t do a big formal feeding if we can help it, we just try to top them off individually. Mainly so we don’t have to wake a sleeping baby. Just don’t do it. They’re sleeping. Leave ’em alone. Well, this gets us into the occasional situation where you top one off for 20 minutes, put her down and 10 minutes later the other one is starving and has to eat RIGHT NOW! So, you pull her out and feed her. Put her down and some 30 minutes later the first one is hungry again. Repeat until you want to stab yourself in the neck.

Digestion

Speaking of which, just a quick mention here. Hey, did you know what soy formula looks like coming out the other end? Neither did I. Now I wish I didn’t. The girls are still on their new “every couple days” pooping schedule, however now when it arrives it’s even scarier. We’re talking a nice sage/olive green. Thick and pasty. And HORRIBLE smelling. In fact, just the other day I was holding Alex after a feeding. We were doing some standing on dad’s lap just for fun. Well, she went from happy smiling to a rather darker expression. She then started to poop and actually started to cry. This all happened in about 20 seconds.  I’m assuming the poop was thick enough to cause her bum a bit of discomfort on the way out. Now that is good times.

And for the record, other parents, save your “oh, you don’t know nothing yet… wait til they get to solid food” comments. Yes. Thank you. I get it. The poop will get worse. Quit reminding me… Sorry, I’m cranky.

Growing

Big news in the Haberman household, the girls are almost out of newborn sized clothes. They are mostly fitting in the baggy 0-3 month size. Just ignore the fact that they are actually 4 months old…

Outtings

Due to the fact that we’ve gotten a lot of practice getting the girls out the door every morning heading to day care, we have actually voluntarily ventured out from the house on occasion. A couple of weekends ago, we took them on their first Costco run. They were just fine. They liked looking at the lights overhead and the large stack of colorful merch on the shelves.  Of course it was one of our quickest Costco trips on record. Not a lot of time was spent perusing things. Get what we’re getting and get out before all hell breaks loose.

We’ve also been out to family and friends parties with them. It was funny this past weekend we were at some friend’s daughter’s first birthday party. There were a lot of people we didn’t know there. A few offered to hold babies so we could eat. Jess and I didn’t even hesitate to hand them over. Ahh, what twin exhaustion will do to you. “Sure… you can take ’em for a while… no I don’t know you, but at this point I don’t really care.” But, apart from the guacamole that Alex gave me while we were there, they were totally fine and slept well when we got home.

Attitudes

Life is easier in other respects. The girls really do like to smile a lot. They laugh now (sorta). We’re still waiting on the big belly laughs, but that can’t be far away. Alex is a total chatterbox. She will lay there just talking up a storm. I think she likes the sound of her own voice, which probably doesn’t bode well for me in the coming years… Meri will do it from time to time, but Alex does it all the time. She’s a nutcase. Meri, on the other hand has learned to blow raspberries. She loves to spit everywhere and giggle about it. I call her “Rasp-Meri” when she’s doing it.

It’s tough to remember that they used to cry every time we put them on the changing table. They used to cry every time we pulled a shirt on or off of their big ol’ heads. None of that fazes them any more. They even seem to mostly enjoy bath times. It is funny to see them slouched in their bath chair with their big old bellies hanging out. Enjoying the warm water poured over them.

Routine

This is what our average weekday is like.

Morning: rousting, feeding, changing, feeding more, clothing, entertaining, dressing ourselves, grooming, packing and heading out the door. Commute in, drop them off at day care, drop Jess off at work, go to work.

Work the day away with the help of 4 or 5 cups of coffee.

Afternoon. Pick up Jess at work and head over to the day care. Get the rundown from Pam on how the girls were today, how much the ate, slept and pooped. Pack them up and hit the road with thousands of other commuters all going the same direction. We’ll usually get home between 5:30 and 6. Then the real work begins. Unpack the girls and all their gear. Get some grub going for them. Feed the dog and start feeding the girls. We get to play with them during and after feedings, however this is usually their witching hour where they are pretty much crabs. At some point in there decide if there is going to be dinner for us or not and act accordingly. Come 8ish the girls finally start slowing down. They get swaddled and lay down to sleep. About then, Jess will sleep as well. Personally, I’m the most awake I am for the entire day at 7-10pm so I don’t go to bed. Plus, the worst part of my day is every time I get out of bed, so I have to limit the number of times I do this. I think every time I wake up, it shaves 90 minutes off my life expectancy, although I can’t prove that.  I use this time to shower or watch tv, or play on the xbox for a little while. Roust the girls again sometime between 10-11pm to do another feeding, then finally go to bed. They usually sleep pretty well from 12-3am (usually) but it’s after 3 that we have our issues. We just then try to survive and get as much sleep as possible before 6am rolls around and we do it all over again.

Such is life. Each day greatly resembles the day previous and will probably greatly resemble the day following.

So, there ya go. Our lives in a nutshell.  Stay tuned for more updates.

I do have a lot of pictures to post and hopefully I’ll get around to that in the next day or 2. But, like I’ve said, we don’t have a lot of spare time or energy at the moment.

Something wicked this way comes

Alex I have to write about this. I just do.

Some warnings. If you are squeamish or don’t like to think about poop, turn away now.  That is the subject of this post. Poop.

We are not talking about your average normal everyday poop here. Oh no. The events of yesterday evening were so extraordinary that I need to document them for future generations.

Some background. Over the past week, both of our daughters have had a shift in their… shall we say… routine. Where they used to have poopy diapers at almost every feeding without fail, now they don’t. For some reason, they just don’t poop with that clockwork regularity of old. Every day we pick them up from day care, we look at the little sheet of paper the lady gives us which lists all their particulars for the day and it will be another poopless day. To Alex and Meri’s credit, it doesn’t seem to bother them much. They still eat. Sleep. Pee. You name it. But the poop just doesn’t come.

Which can mean only one thing… something horrible was brewing.

That horriblness arrived last evening. I was just preparing to feed Alex, who hadn’t pooped for 3 days at this point, when she made a face. It was a look of intense concentration with a hint of exuberance. Just then I heard and felt the “arrival”. In those first couple seconds it didn’t seem any different than the dozens of other times she’s done this. But that only lasted until the aroma hit me. I was hit with a smell I was not remotely prepared for. The English language is inadequate to fully describe just what this stench was. Perhaps in Swahili they have a term to encompass it that could roughly translate to something like “decomposing dead water buffalo in 100° heat stuffed with rotten eggs”. This was a smell that didn’t just assault your nose. It assaulted your eyes. Your throat. Your sense of wellbeing. I quite literally started coughing and fighting off gags. Then I started laughing. I couldn’t help myself. I’ve heard that people in extreme situations can often turn to laughter as a coping mechanism. That must have been what happened to me.

Bear in mind… this was just the smell through the diaper and 2 articles of clothing.

I asked Jess if I should change her before I feed her (Note: she was across the room, well out of range of the attack) and she said I should just feed her first in case she goes again. That plan lasted for exactly 48 seconds before I caved and could take no more.

I put Alex down on the changing table and hesitantly began peeling off clothing. Outer play outfit was fine… inner onesie… fine. Thank god the diaper did it’s job. But it was now time to open said diaper. I unstick the tabs and begin to peel back this last bastion between my old self and my new reality.

First, if I thought the smell was bad before, it just got 1000% worse. I have a fairly strong constitution but this was too much. I was still coughing and gagging. It was just that the smell would get into your nose and throat and set up residence. This was a life event. A transforming moment.

This 1-2 size diaper was full. Now, when I say full, I mean it was absolutely full. “It” had pressed to every edge, but did not spill over. Thank you Kirkland brand. You were able to save at least a small bit of my psyche.

Up until this point, their poop had been really mostly watery. No big deal. A lot would soak into the diaper. This one, however, was not soaking into anything. We’re talking maybe 3/4 of an inch thick at the bottom. Downright shocking. Consistency? Let me just put it this way… I will not be partaking in any chocolate pudding in the near future. I just stood there, dumbfounded for a bit. I could not look away. I had to call Jess over, who was feeding Meri across the room, because she needed to see this with her own 2 eyes. I could not be the only one to see this. That would be like being the only person to see Bigfoot… only if Bigfoot came into your tent and filled your sleeping bag with poop.

I don’t think I wanted to know such things could exist in this world. What has been seen, cannot be unseen.

Upon removal, this diaper easily weighed 2lbs. That may be a conservative estimate. Bear in mind, that Alex herself only weighs probably 12lbs. For reference, that’s like a 200 lb man having a “movement” of 32 pounds. Then came the cleaning. This was certainly not like their usual, where a “bad” one constituted the use of 2 wipes. Oh no… I believe all told, I was forced to use 5 or 6 separate wipes in order to get her clean… I think I had begun losing connection to the real world. Events are hazy. Honestly, she looked like she had sat herself straight down into a mud puddle… only that ain’t mud…

This was as visceral an experience as I’ve had recently. This was not a diaper change. This was something else. My adrenalin was flowing. When I finally sat down to get back to the job at hand of feeding her, I felt… different. I was breathing heavy. Perhaps a little light headed.

Now, I know a lot of you parents out there have your own poop stories. Stories about explosions at inopportune times or places. Of ruining clothing and/or events. I now can appreciate this. This was my first real brush with the evil that lurks below.

I’m not sure I can look at my cute little 3 month old daughter in quite the same way…

Things I miss since having twins

Two Months OldI’m just going to say it… Having newborn twins is a gargantuan pain in the ass.  There. It’s out there. I’m not going to sugar coat this thing by saying how magical everything is and how rainbows and moonbeams flow from our household like unrestrained rivers of milk and honey. No, it’s more like stress and poop and sleep deprivation.

That being said, we do love the little twerps, even if we don’t like them all the time. They are lucky they are cute, otherwise we’d have already sold them to the gypsies long ago.

What follows is a list of all the stuff I want to bitch about these past 3 months. So, if you have an idealized vision of what having twins is like and don’t want to ruin that with reality, I suggest you stop reading now. Oh, and Alex and Meri… if you’re reading this at some point in the future, know this. Payback is coming…

Sleep

Let’s get the big one out of the way. Obviously, everyone knows that with any kid your sleeping goes straight into the toilet.  Intellectually, I knew this was coming. However, there is no way to really prepare yourself for just what happens once they arrive. When you’re pregnant, other parents always say, “be sure to stock up on extra sleep… you’re gonna need it! Har har har, ” they chuckle. You know what I say? Screw that. If you are having twins my advice is this. About a month before they are born start weaning yourself OFF of sleep. Seriously. Get yourself down to 5-6 hours max… preferably with an hour break in the middle somewhere. That way you’ll be able to function for that first month. It took me at least a full month of serious pain before I reached a place where I could be trusted to even look at heavy machinery. At least I’ve reached a place after 3 months where I’m functional, but I’m still not enjoying myself.

It’s like this. You don’t have an option with twins. Conceivably, if you just had one kid parents could maybe switch off nights and let the other sleep.  With twins you are both up every time. No if’s, and’s or but’s. I kinda equate it to this scene in the movie Goodfellas (caution, rough language). “You’re really tired? F*-you… feed me.  You’ve got a wicked cold? F*-you… feed me. You honestly think you might die if you don’t sleep? F*-you… feed me.” These twin girls are like little mob bosses. No flexibility. You do it their way or you’re in for a LOT more pain.

People always ask us, “Do you have family in the area to help?” Of course, we have a lot of family in the area and they have helped us out. But you know what? Not one of them has ever been there at 3am when we could really really really use the help. You know why? BECAUSE BEING UP AT 3AM, ESPECIALLY FOR EVERY NIGHT FOR MONTHS, TOTALLY SUCKS. This may just be the deprivation talking, but I don’t like any of my family members enough to go to their houses in the middle of the night, either. Ya know… no offense…

You’re probably thinking, “hey asshole… why don’t you just nap?” Like it’s that simple. Jess, being home with the girls alone all day, considers it a major win if she can get 20 minutes of sleep during the day when one or both girls aren’t squaking. I don’t know how they do it, but they seem to know just when the other one is falling asleep that it is then your turn to crank it up. It never fails. Last weekend Jess’s sister was in town and I was able to sneak away for a 2 hour nap. I would have thought that would be worth a mint. However, when I woke up I was WAY more tired than when I fell asleep. I was seriously groggy and stumbling around the house for 3 hours after that nap. I was a danger to myself and others. Note to self… just keep going. Naps will just hurt you more in the long run.

I’ll just throw feedings in general in here. They are brutal. It is really tough living in a world where every 4 hours something is going to happen that you dread. Normally, you may think that 4 hours is a long time, but let me tell you. When another feeding is staring you in the face, it feels like 15 minutes. The stress of getting them to eat sometimes can be overwhelming. It’s really fun when they wake up and cry that they’re hungry… then DON’T eat for 45 minutes.

I’ve decided that I liked the first morning feeding the best. Mainly because even though I was getting up for the day and there was no more sleep, but at least the sun started to come up. I could get a cup of coffee. I didn’t have to worry about trying to get any more sleep. It was just time to go to work. Which, at least, gave me a break from the girls.

There are times… like every 4am… where you honestly wonder if it will ever end. You are so delirious that you can’t imagine a time when this will all be just another faded horrible memory. I long for those days.

For the record, the lack of sleep is a major factor in each and every one of the other list items to follow.

Meals

One thing that Jess and I enjoyed pre-kids was cooking. Spending a little quality time in the kitchen trying out a new recipe, eating it, then cleaning up and closing the dishes.  Since the girls were born?  Fuggedaboutit. Let’s break this down piece by piece. First off, you’re so wore out that the very idea of expending the energy to create a whole meal sounds like someone asking, “Hey… you wanna go rock climbing right now?”  The answer is no. You really don’t want to break out everything you need to cook, the ingredients and pots & pans.  Which, doesn’t matter because you won’t have time to eat what you prepare anyway because at least one kid will lose their shit before you can get a single bite into your mouth. Finally, the only thing you want to do LESS than get everything out to cook is washing everything and putting it away. That’s like asking “wanna go rockclimbing while I repeatedly punch you in the face?”.  Again… answer = no.

Early on after the girls were born, we had lots of good friends and family bringing us meals. That was tremendous. We could just pull something from the fridge or freezer, pop it in the oven and even though we didn’t have time to eat, we could at least have something good and homemade to cram into our faces in 30 seconds flat.

However, that couldn’t last forever. We have reached a point now where a good 3 or 4 times a week, we’ll finally finish a feeding at 7:30pm or something and look at each other like “oh god… now we have to figure out food.” You know what happens more often than not? We decide we’ll just “snack” for dinner, where “snack” is a euphemism for “maybe we’ll eat something or more likely not.”

The few times that we do actually manage to make something resembling a meal, say like tacos or something, you are still forced to eat at mach 2. Why? Well, for me I know one of the girls will not sit quietly for the 15 minutes it would take for both of us to eat together. Jess usually volunteers first watch, so I wolf mine down mainly so her’s won’t be stone cold when she gets to eat. Plus, the other one could lose it any second. Life is better with free hands.

Plus side? I’m losing weight. Stress and not eating will do that to ya, I suppose.

Leaving the House

Having any kid will create a massive amount of crap you need to take along with you whenever you decide to leave the house. Twins? That amount is exponentially raised. When we bought our mid-size SUV last summer I never imagined that we could run out of space. Well… yeah. Even collapsed, a double stroller is giant. And it’s not just the amount of stuff you have to remember to take with you. Honestly, it is the stress of wondering if a meltdown of epic proportions is going to happen upon your arriving at your destination. Nothing in the world is worse than spending the 45 minutes of assembling the crap and prepping the girls to go out only to get there and they both freak out inconsolably. Not good times. Life right now is about doing what you can to make things simpler… and that ain’t it.

Not to mention that it has been winter. Jess especially has been cooped up in the house for so long. At least I’ve been able to go to work. We have taken them for a few walks around the neighborhood on the couple of warmish days we’ve had, but not enough to feel like you have done anything but sit around the house and watch Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives for the 409th time.

Reading

I love to read. In fact, Jess just bought me a new Amazon Kindle for my birthday in November and I love that thing. However, nowadays if I attempt to read anything longer than a paragraph or 2, chances are I’m going to pass out. I haven’t hardly touched my Kindle in the past 3 months. It’s kinda like in college when you would attempt to read a text book… You could end up “reading” 3 or 4 pages only to realize you have no idea what the hell you just read. That’s me. In fact, before that 2 hour nap I was reading. Got 2 Kindle page-turns down before I passed out. And we know how that turned out.

Reading is just not enough stimulation to keep my brain going. Maybe someday that ability will return. I sure hope so.

Traveling

Yes, I know that the girls have only been around for 12 weeks and that we had no vacations planned in that time anyway, but this is a “looking forward” sorta thing. It is more a feeling that the chances of us going anywhere farther than an hour away from our house for at least the next 2 or 3 years is pretty slim.

There are a few factors at play in this one. First, the logistics of packing everything we would need for even a weekend away is WAY too much for us to handle in our current states. For example, Jess, on a whim last fall, bought tickets for the U2 show in Pittsburgh this summer. Her thought was, maybe we could fly with the girls and have the tons of family we have there to watch them. Umm… yeah… this was before the girls actually arrived and reality set in. That’s just not going to happen. I can’t even fathom flying with 2 five-month olds. I’d rather light my own hair on fire. So, I seriously doubt we’re gonna make that show. On the plus side though, who needs 4 tickets?

Secondly, even with all the family help we have in the area, dumping off 2 needy babies on someone for any extended period of time is a very tall order. No offense, but I wouldn’t volunteer to do that for anyone else either.

Watching TV doesn’t help either, since there are shows about traveling and eating all over the place. I’ve been craving a Las Vegas trip badly, however I’m sure I’m waaay too tired to enjoy such a thing right now.  I can remember asking Jess one middle of the night a couple months ago if there was a place similar in function to Camp Bow Wow (animal boarding) but for babies. You know… for those couples who need to get away from their kids for a weekend or something. She assured me that their wasn’t.  Damn…

TiredIntelligent Conversation and Cognitive Thought

Again, you can probably chalk this one up to the whole sleep thing again. I was home from work for that first painful month and Jess and I spent nearly every waking moment together. We definitely reached a point where there was really nothing more to say to each other. Neither of us had done anything that the other didn’t already know about. Neither of us had seen any TV, read any article, or had any other thought pop into our heads that we hadn’t already shared.  So, what did we talk about? The girls, of course. On the couple of occasions when our parents would come by and watch the girls so we could go out to eat together, what did we talk about? You guessed it. The twins. Really, the only interesting thing that happens for that first month is poop. So, that’s what you discuss. Such is life.

Since that first month, there still isn’t much else to talk about. Especially with other people. Twins are our major story line. People see us and ask, “how are the girls?”. Which is fine, but that is basically all we talk about. Plus, since forming thoughts about anything we aren’t immediately experiencing is difficult at best, it’s all we can think to talk about. I’m sure we’ve bored the hell out of some folks out there on Facebook. Oh well. That’s all we have to offer right now.

I’ve tried to keep watching Jeopardy! just to try to keep some of my mental faculties about me. Sometimes it works… sometimes it doesn’t. Also, during the morning feeding we would watch the Today show, and I would just spend the whole time ripping on what I was seeing. The hosts, the guests, the dumbass stories, and even dumber commercials. I think Jess secretly enjoyed that and I know it felt good for me to vent a little. Don’t get me started on the Realtor they have on there from time to time…

Self Maintenace

You know what the first thing to go is when you have no time and no energy? Keeping up on yourself. I was one of those type of guys who wouldn’t leave the house in just a t-shirt or sweatpants. I just didn’t. Those days are long gone. There are days where you feel like you should shower, but you just can’t drag yourself to do it. Sometimes 2 days. Sometimes 3 days. Meh. How about fixing your hair, feel like doing that?  Um, no. I don’t. Shaving? Pass… Wanna wear some item of clothing that doesn’t have spit-up on it? Maybe, but I don’t actually wanna do anything about it.  Laundry? Thank god Jess stayed on top of that otherwise I would be wearing pajama pants and old T-shirts 2 sizes too small right now.

Free Time or Leisurely Anything

Duh. You have no free time.  That concept has ceased to exist in your world. Gone are the days of a needed 20 minute shower. Want to do a little video gaming? Dream on.  Hey the new ESPN Magazine came… Well, tough shit cause you don’t have time to look at it. One good thing about it being winter is there isn’t currently any yard work to be done. I can’t imagine what my lawn would have looked like if these girls had been born in July. We did actually watch a movie on HBO the other night. Of course, there was a 30 minute break in the middle where we had to attend to other things, but we finished it. And neither of us fell asleep. That’s a plus.

Now… all that being said, there are some positives. When they smile at you, it can sorta mask all the other shit they put you through. However, when they’d rather smile at 4 in the morning than eat, it’s not quite as cute. But really, when stuff really sucks, it certainly gives you something to look forward to. So that’s nice.

Another great thing is that Jess and I have probably only grown closer together throughout this. You hear about how kids often times puts strain on marriages. Well, I’d say we’re going in the opposite direction. It’s us against the world and we’re gonna win. I love you baby.

Someday all of these things will return and we’ll laugh about it… Someday.

Remember how I said I would get revenge on these girls when the time came? Well, I’m going to take extreme glee in waking them up when they are teenagers, at ungodly times in the morning, for absolutely no good reason… all while I cackle in delight. Man, I can’t wait.