Go the F*ck to Sleep!!!

Creating and maintaining a schedule is difficult on its own. Doing so with a baby is even more important, and even more complicated. Scheduling for twins is doubly important and exponentially more difficult. Like, almost impossible. They need to invent a new form of math to actually show the increased difficulty in keeping your family on task when twin babies enter the mix. I would call it Twinsics. Or maybe Twinulus.

Keeping the boys on a mutually consistent sleep schedule has – at least for this distracted dad – proven to be an elusive goal. When one is sleepy, the other is wide awake, and often has to be taken into another room in order to prevent his cries, grunts, and verbal musings (like on whether Wagner’s music should be viewed through the lens of his probable National Socialism or allowed to stand on its own) from waking the other. When they do both take naps, at least on my watch, the naps tend to come on randomly, despite any amount of planning or staging on my part. The morning naps, which are ideally 1-2 hours, tend to last around 40 minutes, and afternoon naps, which ideally last from 1-3 hours, average about the same.

Kat and I have been looking at what I might be doing differently when I have the boys alone. While some days are fine, I often find myself in a battle with one or both boys as they fight off the sleep they very visibly need.

Granted, both boys recently started teething (at four months; a little early, but whatever), and the discomfort has thrown their sleep patterns out of whack. Before that, though, I seemed to have a more difficult time than Kat or the sitters getting the boys to go down at a reasonable time and stay asleep for a reasonable amount of time.

I think my biggest problem when handling the boys is a lack of patience. No, I don’t get frustrated, lock them in a closet, and go to a movie (yet), but after a bit of trying and failing to get them to sleep, I do a quick cost-benefit analysis. I reckon that if they’re going to be up anyway, I might as well let them be up and get some stuff done. Otherwise I just sit there, singing a lullaby to a fussy baby and stressing out about all the stuff I could be doing during that time. So, I tend to give putting them to sleep a go for a while before throwing my hands up and keeping them entertained while I do chores or pound my head on a keyboard trying to remember what I was working on.

So step 1 will be for me to spend a little more time working on getting the boys to sleep before calling it a failure. As far as keeping them asleep once they’re there, well, I’ll cross that bridge later, I suppose.

Kat did hook me up with some good articles on getting babies to fall/stay asleep by MODGBlog, The Sleep Lady, and Parents Magazine, as well as a piece on the “2-3-4 Schedule” via Alpha Mom. This schedule says babies should take their first nap two hours after they first wake up, their second nap three hours after they wake from their first nap, and be asleep four hours after they wake from that nap. I think this is what we’ll be shooting for, but at this point, I’m really willing to settle for “some” sleep during “parts” of the day.

I’d be lying if I said that times like today, when both boys were refusing to go to sleep on mommy’s watch, didn’t give me a slight sense of sadistic joy. It seems that it isn’t just me; it’s just mostly me.

Any thoughts/tips on getting babies (esp. twins) to sleep on time and stay asleep as long as they should? All ideas are welcome.

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A Belated Shout-Out

Our boys didn’t come along out of a clear blue sky; we had been trying to get pregnant for years and had chalked up a failed IVF procedure before C & M entered our lives.

Our miracle finally happened with the help of Poma Fertility, a Seattle-area fertility clinic whose results speak for themselves, at least as far as we’re concerned. The Poma team took their combined expertise and patience and saw us through from (even more) tests to hormone and drug therapies, egg extraction, and implantation, changing the course as needed, and advising us constantly on what would be the best next course of action. We always felt guided and never pressured, and knew that the entire Poma team was in our corner and had a genuine desire to see us succeed.

If you stumble across this post and happen to be in the market for a fertility clinic that is cost-effective, knowledgeable, and that feels like a group of friends, I can’t recommend Poma enough.

"Made with love (and Science)"

“Made with love (and Science)”

Proud mama with her long-awaited babies.

Proud mama with her long-awaited babies.

Nurse S. at Poma holding M.

Nurse S. holding M.

Dr. O holding C.

Dr. O holding C.

Some of the Poma team that are responsible for this blog, which was the ultimate goal of having kids.

Some of the Poma team that are responsible for this blog, which was the ultimate goal of having kids.

Baby Pics: Round 2

Another dose of pictures of the lights of our lives. After this I’ll be posting pictures on a more regular basis in appropriate posts; just wanted to get caught up!

Bros.

Bros.

Poopin' 1 of 2

Poopin’ 1 of 2

Poopin' 2 of 2

Poopin’ 2 of 2

Catching a little sun.

Catching a little sun.

Tummy time! M's (left) head control is better every day!

Tummy time! M’s (left) head control is better every day!

"Getting better, so suck it, torticollis!"

“Getting better, so suck it, torticollis!”

C's baby model career: Shot 1

C’s baby model career: Shot 1

M's baby model career: Shot 1

M’s baby model career: Shot 1

First time either boy has started feeding himself!

First time either boy has started feeding himself!

He was up and kept me busy all day a while back. As you can see, he feels terrible about it.

He was up and kept me busy all day a while back. As you can see, he feels terrible about it.

2014-07-18 12.06.52

The McKinney men like to snooze.

The McKinney men like to snooze…

C, in particular, seems to actually like the pictures. He also helps me with the big words.

C, in particular, seems to actually like the pictures. He also helps me with the big words.

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He wants the bird. No, seriously; he wants that pink bird. The frog is a means to an end.

He wants the bird. No, seriously; he wants that pink bird. The frog is a means to an end.

C is distraught over keeping his mommy up at three in the morning.

C is distraught over keeping his mommy up at three in the morning.

I started wearing C around. He likes facing out so he can see the world, and I like him facing out because he's a chick magnet.

I started wearing C around. He likes facing out so he can see the world, and I like him facing out because he’s a chick magnet.

2014-08-02 11.45.33 2014-08-07 14.58.57

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We've started teething. God save us, and save my fingers in particular.

We’ve started teething. God save us, and save my fingers in particular.

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An employee made these stuffed-animal-blanket things for us, and the boys freakin' love them.

An employee made these stuffed-animal-blanket things for us, and the boys freakin’ love them.

I took the boys to a "baby-wearing" class where I learned different ways to carry the boys in different types of carriers. It was actually pretty informative.

I took the boys to a “baby-wearing” class where I learned different ways to carry the boys in different types of carriers. It was actually pretty informative.

IMG_6409 IMG_64961 IMG_6215

IMG_6284

I told you he loves that bird...

I told you he loves that bird…

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"I'm not saying this is the best thing ever..."

“I’m not saying this is the best thing ever…”

"...but it totally is!"

“…but it totally is!”

Adventures in Babysitting

Our daycare situation has been a precarious one. We can’t afford to hire a nanny for what most charge, we really can’t afford a branded daycare like KinderCare, and we can’t afford to take off too much work. This has left us with a sort of mish-mash of finding part-time, affordable daycare and creating new work schedules for each of us.

Kat, for her part, was able to get two days a week where she can work locally rather than drive an hour each way to Olympia. She’ll also be taking every other Wednesday off. I will be taking alternating amounts of days off, three every other week and four the other weeks when Kat is working that Wednesday. For me (only me), this means a pay cut because of fewer hours and potentially a pay cut in general. I will most likely need to step down from my leadership position as well, which I’m less worried about, but it still stinks.

With that settled, we hired an in-home sitter Kat found through Care.com. She was willing to work for what we offered, and turned out to be great. Once we decided to spend more time at home, we couldn’t offer the number of hours she needed, but to her credit, she stayed to work the days we needed during the past few weeks. Kat found another nanny, interviewed her, had her over for paid “training”, and then…

…she quit. She found a better job, which, OK, cool, but she had specifically told us that she’d work any other jobs around us. We’d even understand if she’d given us notice or helped us until she needed to start her other job, or returned her training day money, or at the very least been professional and not quit in an email which had the sign off “Don’t hate me!”.

No professional courtesy these days…

So we ended up “settling” for someone else who sounds great but her daycare will be in her house. That’s fine, but we wish we could avoid the pain of swapping cars and early morning drop-offs. We’ll visit her house this week to make sure she doesn’t have any goat parts nailed to a shrine or anything.

Wish us luck.

Weeks Something Through Something…Four Monthsish

The biggest problem with updating current event blogs too infrequently is having to remember stuff. I have a hard enough time remembering stuff short term, without trying to pull up what I was doing three weeks ago. The end result – in this case – is a disjointed, out-of-sequence chronicle of baby-related news for the last several weeks. The boys have each had big leaps (figuratively) in their physical abilities. C was first to hold his head up during “tummy time”, and also the first to roll over. M was the first to take aim at something, reach up, and grab it, in the first instance a plastic parrot thing that hangs from their jungle play mat. Each of them can also grab on to objects and lift and manipulate them, but haven’t started moving their bodies to get something.

2014-08-03 09.00.12

He-men if ever there were any.

M was having a harder time due to his torticollis, the lopsided, stiff neck that resulted from being smooshed* in the womb. *medical term 

YOU try having a smile like that when your brother bent you all up.

YOU try having a smile like that when your brother bent you all up.

His success came much more rapidly than we’d expected; suddenly he was holding his head straight up when we held him and lifting it high during tummy time. Next thing you know he was rolling over front to back AND back to front. His head also stopped lolling to the right when  he’s relaxed. We still (finally) had our appointment M with the pediatric physical therapist this week. She taught us some stretches and exercises to do with him to help with the continued development of his neck muscles and head balance. She also put our minds at ease about the flat spot he’d developed on his skull due to his neck keeping his head in the same position when he slept. He apparently still has plenty of time for that to pop out.

"Getting better, so suck it, torticollis!"

“Getting better, so suck it, torticollis!”

The pile of clothes that no longer fit is rapidly growing. I’d known, of course, that babies and toddlers grow incredibly fast, but until I was ditching a onesie two weeks before the label said it would stop fitting, I never realized HOW fast they grow. Looking at old photos and comparing them to more recent pics is remarkable to me. They are so much bigger it’s like they’re totally different people than the two we brought home from the hospital. This week we also noticed that C has a little white cap or bud of a tooth coming in. He’s a few days shy of four months, but he’s still in the range of “his parents aren’t bragging about how advanced their kid is”. He’s still early in the teething process, and he hasn’t seemed to have any severe discomfort; he’s drooling like crazy and chewing/sucking anything he can get in his mouth, but no noticeable pain. Nights have been a bit rough lately. M is waking up frequently through the night, either because he lost his pacifier, had a bad dream, needs to eat or cuddle, or just for whatever unknown reason it is at any given time. He’s quick to fall asleep, but doesn’t like to stay that way. C, on the other hand, tends to fight sleep with every fiber of his being, but usually sleeps through most or all of the night. And while they both do it, C has become a master at getting out of swaddles, even the infamous “double swaddle” and now sleep sacks which have zippers he has somehow managed to unzip.

You have never seen a more perfect picture of a smug face.

You have never seen a more perfect picture of a smug face.

M getting in on the act.

M getting in on the act.

He is now officially the reincarnation of Houdini.

This thing has a zipper with the puller thingy on the outside and it unzips bottom to top. He is now officially the reincarnation of Houdini.

Cloth diapering is going fairly well now that we’ve got a handle on it. We’ve had noticeable savings on disposables, although I haven’t calculated energy/water increases.

I think that’s about it for now…oh, and today (8/9/14) both boys laughed for the first time and at the same time, so we’re feeling pretty happy about that.

A little “so cute you want to die” action for you:

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“Look out, ladies.”

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“Ditto.”

The Swaddler Song

Speaking of swaddlers, we were discussing them the other night and I wound up doing this. In bed. Late. On my phone.

OK…C wrote most of it.

Sung to the tune of Dave Mallet’s “The Garden Song”

Inch by inch, don’t you know, I will make this swaddler go.
All I need are my fingers and toes and I’ll throw it to the ground.
Inch by inch, day by day, all I want to do is play.
This cotton prison cannot stay, so I’ll pull it all the way down.

Tugging hems and pulling straps, I cannot stand these awful wraps.
I would like to give some slaps to whoever thought of these.
This is lame, what a pain, my struggle will not be in vain, I’ll use my body and my brain and hope nobody sees.

Wriggle out, wave so long, that’s when mommy comes along, I try to fight but she’s much too strong, so here we go again.
I start to give in sleepily, and let my mommy swaddle me.
In the morning she will see, but I’ll snooze a bit until then.

Inch by inch, don’t you know, I will make this swaddler go.
All I need are my fingers and toes and I’ll throw it to the ground.
Inch by inch, day by day, all I want to do is play.
This cotton prison cannot stay, so I’ll pull it all the way down..

 

Torticollis

This morning, August 6, we’re on our way to the pediatric physical therapist to address M’s torticollis. We’ve waited over a month to get this appointment (apparently there are a lot of crooked children in the area), and his neck has improved so much on its own that I’m very curious to see what our prognosis is.

 

 

 

 

Job Sitch

In order to accommodate the two little bundles of inconvenience we brought into our home nearly four months ago, we are changing our respective work schedules. Kat will be working in town two days a week and will be off on alternating Wednesdays. I will be off the other Wednesdays and will also be taking Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays off. This way we’ll maximize our time with the boys as much as possible, “save” money on a nanny, and – in my case – gain a little more time to hunt for local jobs and work on writing and my transcription job.

Nothing much will change for Kat, but for me limiting my availability is a pretty big move. I’ll be stepping down from my current leadership role at some point and will be turning in paperwork stating that I am waiving my rights to seniority and that I understand that I am not guaranteed any number of hours and that they can force me to go back to the hours I agreed to when I was hired (full time, any shifts). I’ll probably also be looking at a pay decrease, which is swell.

That said, I have no idea how this will play out in the long run. There is a delicate pas de deux  between my employer and I: do I need them more, or do they need me more?

This question isn’t out of aggression towards them or arrogance towards me; I just know that I do a lot at my job and am a valuable team member, and I’ve been told that my pay (etc.) would be stretched out as long as possible until H.R. figured it out. The last time a situation regarding me and loss of benefits (due to budget reasons) occurred, it got stretched out more than a year before H.R. caught on, so we’ll see. That said, they know I can’t up and quit (utter employment disasters not withstanding), so I’m at their mercy as well.

One way or another, I’ll be taking a pay cut by working fewer days. Granted, we’ll save some money on daycare, and maybe it’ll balance out considering our commutes and my taxes. Either way, it means an end to reckless spending, which is good, but reckless spending has now changed to mean things like “wine” and “brand name anything”.

The belt-tightening has been more or less successful so far, but has room to improve. I’d say our hardest issue is food; it takes time to shop for ingredients and cook them into healthful meals at home, and time is something we don’t have a lot of these days. Again, me being home more often should help, but if the boys decide they want to be up all day and night playing or crying or otherwise deliberately sabotaging my efforts to be productive – which they totally do on purpose – we might find ourselves ordering pizza yet again.

The money stuff is pretty much panicking me, and I suppose Kat to a degree. I just see us in a few months loading our crap into a storage locker and moving into an apartment, only to realize that the two things combined cost more than rent at our current house, and finally needing to move in with relatives and oh my god how can this ever work??? I guess we’ll make it work…

Although the income might be minimal, especially at first, I will also be bringing in a few bucks with a new transcription job. Rev.com, the company I’ll be working for, hired me a while back but only recently squeezed me in to start taking jobs.

After checking out some of the transcription jobs (they’re emailed to me multiple times throughout the day), it seems like an interesting and fun way to earn a few dollars. As a rookie, I’ll earn a little less, but upon listening to some of the audio files available to transcribe, I think I’ll be good at this job and that it will keep me interested. You are allowed to preview each job, and I was listening to pieces that were interviews with Korean War vets. Very interesting, very clear (read: easy to transcribe) and at the rookie prices, I could make roughly $27.00/hour on average depending on my typing speed. All pieces won’t be as interesting, and I won’t be able to crank out as many as my “counting unhatched chickens” mind is imagining, but still; a paycheck is a paycheck. I have the added benefit of working a job I’ll enjoy, that offers hours based on my desires, that is centered around the English language, and – most importantly – isn’t in the retail/food industry. It’s a foot in the door of a bigger world, one where I can report to work and not expect to try to up-sell a customer by offering gravy.

We have no idea where we’ll land with regards to jobs and pay. What we do know is that we are making the best moves we can for our sons at this point in time. We are also fortunate enough to know that if it all really hits the fan (heaven forbid), we have friends and family that will make sure the four of us have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.

That’s more than some people have, and we’re thankful for it. This is sort of one of those situations that will work itself out; we’ll just need to have faith that it will work itself out for the best.

Because we’re awesome, we’ve paid our dues, and we deserve it.

 

Schedules

I think that one of the biggest points of contention between Kat and I over the whole “raising twin babies” thing is about schedules, both ours as a couple, ours individually, and for the boys.

By her very nature, K is much more organized and more of a “scheduler”. (See Distracted below.) I’m much more of a spontaneous person and don’t like to be “fenced in” by too much planning. The nice thing is that with both of us together, we tend to balance out nicely between being able to be a little looser and a little more organized, respectively.

Enter babies. All the books, the sites, the groups, the friends and family, and common sense told us the babies need to get on schedules. Teach them to sleep around the same time and for the same length of time. Teach them to eat around the same time and have the same amount. Do baths on the same day. Build habits, build routines, get them weaned from this to that. The trick to having a peaceful life with a baby or babies, it seems, is to have as much structure as possible. That being said, our new work schedules (see Job Sitch above) should throw this whole thing out of whack.

In all honesty I’m all for this. I’d love to be able to plan out their days more efficiently, and think a little more predictability in their routines would be a great thing.

Distracted

Half the point of this blog was to discuss my challenges trying to raise new twin boys (our first children) while struggling with depression, dyslexia, and newly diagnosed ADD and Bipolar NOS (not otherwise specified: not type 1 or 2, but there). I suppose the obvious excuse is that…well…I have all those things. Babies combined with concentration disorders do not a fast, consistent blogger make. Again, though: the challenges, the point…if this was all timely and smooth, it would sort of take the wind out of my “poor me/I’m awesome” sails.

When the boys were on their way, I actually became very focused. It was a “things just got real” period, and I knew if I wanted to meet my goals, like writing more, finding a new job, and so on, I needed to really bare down. I was doing pretty well at it until the twins were born.

Three things happened after that: I became suddenly very busy, I became sleep-deprived, and I was unable to juggle projects with the added effort of child rearing. All of those added up to a complete shutdown of my recently formed drive and determination. Well, that’s not entirely true; the drive was still there, but for those reasons I couldn’t apply it, and I’ve been squeezing in longer-term projects when I can.

Along with, you know, two new infants in the house, these factors caused me to drift away from my goals. As I’ve said before, the goals were ultimately to give the boys a better life, but because of the boys, I’m unable to work as hard at them as I’d like. This isn’t a complaint, but rather an observation. I want to be better for them, but right now wiping their butts and holding them when they cry has become the priority. This is actually ok with me, but it has amped up the stress level.

Aside from this, the ADD hasn’t been a major factor with regards to the twins. I don’t know how much of this I owe to my prescription to Strattera, but as I said, that focus on the big goals is still there, whereas before I just sort of shut down when I thought about these things that required sustained effort. Where I am currently struggling is with the little things; the “doorway moments”. Again, this hasn’t been a serious problem with regards to the babies, but I have been absent-minded to the point of going to the wrong cabinets in the kitchen to find things, forgetting what I went into a room for multiple times, and getting caught up in social media or TV even more than I have in the past, wasting my valuable time. This is something I can live with if need be, and isn’t new, but rather worse than before. I can’t do a real solid test to see if my medication will help, though, because I am so busy and tired because of the twins that that might be the cause. It’s definitely making things worse.

On that note, I’ve also been struggling with sleep. True, I’m exhausted most of the time, but for the most part I’ve been going to bed between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. (because of work) for the better part of 14 years. That’s a lot of programming to undo in a few months. No matter how tired I am, when I get home at night I get a second wind, and if I go to bed early I can’t sleep anyway. If you work days and get home at 6:00 p.m., it’s reasonable that you might go to bed around 9:00 or 10:00, 3 or 4 hours after you get home. If I get home at 11:30 or 12:00, 3 or 4 hours puts me in bed pretty late. This wasn’t a huge problem before, but since I have to be up sometime between 7:00 and 10:00 a.m. to take care of the boys, staying up that late turns me into a zombie for the rest of the day. Kat, for her part, has been unceasingly understanding and compassionate, but has been firm in trying to help me adjust to getting into bed at a “reasonable” time.

With regards to the Bipolar, the dyslexia, and the depression…I’ll address those more later, although honestly they’ve probably had more of an effect on our new life than ADD. I can say that so many of these things feed into each other, it’s very difficult to sort out a way to get my stuff together.

The good news is that I haven’t yet forgotten the kids in the car on a hot day, left to run errands and forgotten to bring them, and have (I think) been overall a fair dad. I haven’t projected my personal struggles onto my boys, I guess is what I’m saying. Although I get frustrated, sad, angry, and feel totally defeated sometimes when I’m dealing with them, I’ve kept it as together as a new father of twins with the life challenges I have can.