March 09, 2012

Never Wake a Sleeping Mother

I am not a morning person. I never have been and I never will be. My parents know this. My siblings know this. My university room-mates know this. My friends know this. My husband knows this.
You would think that my children would know this by now.
I have discovered that to function at peak levels, I require a full 9 hours of undisturbed sleep. I know it’s a bit extreme. But left alone to sleep without interruption I will guarantee you that after 9 hours I will wake on my own, refreshed and ready to tackle the day with a smile on my face. Many people function well on less, some on as little as 5 or 6 hours a night. This person is not me.
This 9 hour block of time is my holy grail, forever out of reach ever since I conceived my son almost 10 years ago. Any pregnant woman will tell you that the hormones and body changes combined with the little person practicing soccer moves in utero is not conducive to catching decent winks. Once that baby is born you can forget about sleep for the next few years. 
But then these little creatures trick you. They lead you to believe that they have mastered the art of falling asleep and staying asleep for up to 13 hours at a time...until around the age of 6 1/2 years when they reach the developmental stage of the dreaded nightmare. And fear of the dark. 
For over a month now, my darling daughter K has been waking up at some point between 1:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. calling my name like a foghorn: Mooo-ooommm! Moooooo-oooooom! MOOOOO-OOOOM! I stumble out of bed like something undead to discover that she’s scared of...something. I’ve tried reasoning with her, comforting her, negotiating, threatening, shouting. These are not my proud mommy moments. As I mentioned, I am not a morning (or middle of the night) person. If you want to live, Do. Not. Wake. Me. Up.
I have tried putting her in my bed, an obvious solution for both of us you would think. Except for the fact that she insists on sleeping snuggled right up against me and the minute her twin sister finds herself in her room...alone... all hell breaks loose. Then I have two cranky girls, one refusing the leave my bed, the other refusing to sleep alone. And an extremely cranky mother to boot. So for now I’ve decided that she should stay in her own bed, full-stop. This means that I am up and down the hallway a hundred times, rubbing her back, trying desperately to persuade her to go back to sleep. And if it’s after 5am, there’s nothing doing. She will wake up her sister, there will be words exchanged, perhaps items thrown at each other, they will wake up their brother- and likely the poor neighbours on the other half of our semi-detached home. Everyone starts the day miserably. Except for K who can metamorphose into sweet chipper little thing the moment the sun rises. This morning (after at 4am wake-up), I came to the breakfast table to find my seat reserved by this:

She had made me a breakfast of toast with No Nuts pea butter and a glass of water chilled by a cooler pack from the freezer. How can I stay upset at that?
For now, I will continue to search for a solution and nap whenever I can to catch up on my elusive 9 hours. I will trust (and pray) that this phase will be short-lived. And I will thank the heavens for little girls- and coffee.

Lion Image © David Crippen |

March 02, 2012

How Not to Name Twins

I haven’t written much in this blog specific to having twins. I recently spoke with a dear friend of mine who is 33 weeks pregnant with twin girls. She has an 8 year old son and a 6 year old son. Wow.
Talking to her about the experience of twin childbirth and early days brought me back to a very very busy time in my life. It was a time where days blurred into the next and I wasn’t quite sure if I was coming or going at any given time. I remember feeling like it would never get easier and that I would never again sleep through the night.
But taking the time to remember those early days has also brought back sweet memories: of watching my identical twin baby girls sleep cuddled up to each other in the same crib or holding each others’ hands while nursing; of my 2 year old son making the girls giggle uncontrollably with his antics; of seeing the girls laying on the bed together in their infant sleepers, moving in sync like they had rehearsed some beautiful dance together. They were crazy days and I wish I had taken more time to just enjoy those moments.
When people ask me what advice I would give to expectant parents of twins, my answer is always the same: GET HELP. If it is difficult financially to hire a full-time nanny, do whatever you can (short of selling your older children). I had illusions of being super-mom and handling a not-quite-2 year old as well as newborn twins, keeping house, making meals, doing laundry, sleeping (!!) and maybe even taking care of myself. You can guess which went first. I contracted strep throat when the babies were only 3 months old. Weeks/months of exhaustion and a perceived lack of time to get myself to a doctor in a timely manner left me in intensive care in hospital, close to death from heart failure caused by septic shock. My dear husband had to face the prospect of raising three babies on his own.
Scary stuff.
The minute I was released from hospital, we hired a full-time nanny and a babysitter to help in the evenings. They worked for us until the girls were a year old. Rest assured that I am now the picture of health with no long term effects from the heart failure. Trust me that the minute I get a sore throat, I get myself to a doctor. No more messing around. If I don’t take care of myself, I’m no good to anyone. Lesson learned the hard way.
On a lighter note, my second piece of advice to new parents of twins is this: think very very carefully about the names you give your children. Personally I’m not a big fan of the “cutesie twin names” that rhyme or match but that is an individual choice. The one thing that most people never consider is how their names sound when they are blended. You know, when you are frantically calling out names hoping that one will be the right one, blending the first part of one name with the name of another. If you have more than one child, you know what I’m talking about. 
Our kids are Luka, Klara and Milena, who goes by Mila (pronounced Mee-la like Mila Mulroney for those of you who remember her).

In our house, it goes something like this:
Lu-Mila! (Lu-Meela!)
And finallly... (say this next one out loud)
Kla-Mila! (Kla-Meela!)
Enough said.
Image ©  2008 Treva Thompson
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