I think he thinks my name is Tractor.

“I think he thinks my name is Tractor.”

This, from my husband, in a slightly deflated tone, upon arriving home from work at the end of the day. Andrew, our less rugged twin, is surprisingly the one OBSESSED with tractors. We thought it would be Dylan, but it’s Andrew. Tip-toeing, singing, sweet little tweety, thumb-sucking Mom-Mom’s boy. OBSESSED. When he wakes up in the morning, he opens his eyes, blinks a couple of times, stretches out his arm and throws his head back as if center stage, blinded in the spotlight, in the Globe Theater. He laments. “Twwaaaaaaaaaak!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Before I even open my eyes in the morning, I start negotiating around tractor tantrums. I manage to get both boys downstairs with a steady stream of soothing promises about the tractor. I get them to the kitchen and start fumbling with the coffee maker, but have to abandon it and go to the baby gate by the back door, where Andrew is draped and starting to wind up. “TWWAAAAAAAAK!!!!!!!!!!!” He’s stretching over the gate, reaching desperately for the back door leading into the garage. And the tractor. Which is not really a tractor but a riding lawnmower. The love of his little life.

And so goes the day. The tractor obsession has made me compromise in many, many ways. It has forced me to make empty promises: “Daddy will take you for a ride when he gets home.” It has made me anthropomorphize the tractor, gently laying a blanket over it, singing a lullaby, “See, the tractor’s sleeping. Shhhhh! We don’t want to wake up the baby tractor”. It’s even compromised my deep-rooted feminist lifestyle: “Oh….only Daddy drives the tractor. Mommy doesn’t drive the tractor. You’ll have to wait for Daddy to get home to go for a ride. It’s DADDY’S TRACTOR.” The obsession has also made me go through the house and into the garage to extract large and awkward objects for use in the yard, maneuvering my way through narrow doorways, swearing in my head and cursing the damned tractor – all to avoid opening the garage door to reveal the dreaded thing inside.

I feel a little guilty when Tractor walks in at the end of the day, yearning for his two boys to run and jump into his arms, yelling “Daddddeeeeee!” I don’t reveal to him that all day I’ve been cultivating the seed planted upon waking that Daddy equals tractor.

TWAAAAAAAK. Trrrrrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Hoping the editors at http://www.todaysparent.com will catch this!)

Traveling with Twin Toddlers – or, Have You Lost Your MIND?

After putting off our summer vacation all summer for fear of traveling with twin toddlers, we finally did it. We booked our summer vacation. In October. I was really looking forward to the trip because we were traveling to Georgia to visit my family. My husband was dreading it because he feared flying with the twins, and he feared the probable sleepless nightmare we would endure trying to get the sleep-resistant boys to sleep in a new environment. Well wouldn’t you know it! My husband, at the VERY LAST MINUTE, was unable to GO! His mother fell ill and was admitted to hospital. I was left with a matter of hours to decide whether to cancel the whole trip, or to soldier on. I soldiered on. With the help of my mom. Who fell ill a couple of days into the trip and lay in the bed like a deflated balloon, the life sucked out of her by the harrowing flights south. So essentially, I was alone in the big wide world (on the OCEAN) with no baby gates, no frowned-upon toddler leashes, and a mere fragment of sanity. Here’s what I learned:

1. It doesn’t matter HOW WONDERFUL your toddler twins are, how charming, how cute, how well-behaved, how mature – on the FIRST flight. They will beat you down into the cracks between the seats on the second flight if you have to take one. So if at ALL possible, get yourself from point A to point B on ONE flight. Not two. Fly into an airport 4 hours from your destination, arrive at night (bed time) and drive the last leg. It will be worth it.

2. Do bring little retro lunch boxes full of dollar store toys they’ve never seen, but put them into the same carry-on bag with snacks, tickets, wallet. Forget the purse. Forget all other toys. Forget a 2nd bag full of necessities for the person traveling with you (my mom) to have for the 2nd baby. It won’t be necessary because BOTH BABIES WILL BE IN YOUR LAP THE WHOLE TIME. Bring a couple of new books featuring their current obsession. With my boys. It’s construction trucks.

3. Do not expect empathy or help from other people, but if a kind stranger offers to help you, LET THEM! We met, unbelievably, a WONDERFUL couple who helped us to our connecting flight and even bought us coffees. No kidding. And they were on our return flight as well!!!! Our travel angels.

4. You CAN give one toddler a bottle as he falls asleep in your lap, and change a diarrhea diaper with one hand on the seat beside you while that toddler kicks and screams for you not to change his diaper. You can do it. Because you have no choice.

5. If Screaming Diaper Tantrum Toddler refuses to have a clean diaper put on him, it’s fine to let him fly the remainder of the flight commando. Especially if the first toddler wakes up and starts screaming and engages in a crazy physical battle over your lap with Naked Boy who is standing tall and screaming with his little naked butt cheeks clenched as tight as the fists in your hair.

In spite of what sounds like a nightmarish journey, I am so glad that I soldiered on and completed the trip. The boys got to see their 90-year-old great-grandmother, their 70-year-old grandfather, and a bazillion other relatives. They got to run wild with my cousins’ children, run wild on the beach, and run head-first into the ocean. I would do it again, with a few revisions, and preferably with my husband by my side. Or at least at the condo with the kids while I was at the spa.

 

(Hoping www.todaysparent.com will catch this)

11 hours

I have finally succeeded in dropping a nap for both babies. This was not easy, as one baby doesn’t like to sleep at all and the other likes to sleep a lot – in the day time. So after a super cranky week, we’ve done it. And for the first time in their short little lives, they slept for 11 hours straight at night! Woohoo!

I met a woman at the grocery store today with 1-year-old twin girls. They’ve been sleeping 12 hours a night for a long time. Shut UP! Good for you. Yeah, she also had two other women with her. One was wearing one of her babies in a sling. I don’t have that kind of help either. All on my own here with no family and a husband who works a lot. That’s ok. I like my imaginary badge. Shut up.

Two Sleeping Babies!

On January 1, 2011, we started the year in the best way possible. And if as the saying goes, “as the year begins so the year goes” is true, then we’ll be very happy parents this year. Because on the night of January 1st, both of our twin boys slept ELEVEN HOURS for the first time ever, on the same night! We SLEPT! A LONG TIME!
This may not sound like a big deal to those of you who’ve experienced even four-hour sleep sessions with your kids. But for many parents, waking every hour, every night, for a year or longer, is a brutal reality.
This was us. For a solid thirteen months. But no more. How did we change things? Well, there’s this book….

I know, I know. Book schmook. That’s what I said just a month ago, after reading every sleep training book and trying every method, I had given up all hope. But my mother-in-law found a book that I had not seen, and given that the authors were the sleep trainers for A-List Hollywood actors’ babies, and I had just moved from North Hollywood last year, I thought, why not? Let’s give it a browse.

The Sleepeasy Solution: The Exhausted Parent’s Guide to Getting Your Child to Sleep – From Birth to Age 5

It works, people.

Now, to be fair, my husband is the one who did all the hard work. But after 3 nights, our sleep-challenged twin, Dylan, slept through the night, and has been doing so consistently for three weeks now. And what’s more, we put him down awake at bedtime and at nap time and he barely whimpers and then puts himself to sleep. Considering that Dylan woke every hour for a year and screamed bloody murder unless he was nursed, this is a miraculous happening! I thought Dylan was going to kill me. Seriously. I finally just broke down into a sobbing fetal position amongst the shoes in the bottom of my bedroom closet with the door shut to cry more than once. And actually fell asleep in that position a couple of times.

After we had Dylan sleeping well, we tackled his twin brother, Andrew. Now, Andrew wasn’t waking as often as Dylan, and was fairly content to sleep with his Daddy in our bed while I nursed Dylan on a futon on the floor in the nursery all night. But Andrew has the pipes! The kid is loud. So of course we’d do whatever we could to keep him from screaming and waking Dylan if Dylan was asleep. And of course, Andrew grew accustomed to sleeping with Daddy, so getting him into his crib was a challenge. But, after sucking it up and agreeing to take the risk that he’d wake the well-trained Dylan, we started Andrew on the Sleepeasy plan. The first night was tough. Then the second night, only 10 minutes of crying before sleep. And the third night, only 3 minutes. Now both babies sleep well and long and go down fairly easily.

And only a month ago I was yelling profanities into the pages of books that claimed my child would sleep after three nights of training. I was angry at all the bogus claims. We had tried several methods for up to ten nights in a row with Dylan standing and screaming for 3 and a half hours without even sitting down. It was horrible.

Now, do I think that the Sleepeasy Solution is magic? No. I believe that my boys were finally at the right age to get it, and that the fact that they’re walking, no running, like crazy helps to tire them out. But putting the solution to work in a dedicated, unwaveringly consistent manner has given us our sleep back. And THAT is huge. No one understands what a year or more of sleep deprivation can do the the mind and spirit and body until they suffer it in reality. It can break you!

The good news is that it is not forever, that you will survive it, and that you can teach your baby to sleep. I was a very jaded, tired mom with zero faith in sleep training. I hope that other exhausted parents will give this book a read-through and try the method. What is there to lose? Good luck to you all!

Happy Sleeping!

Sleep Sheep Schmeep

I finally broke down and bought the Sleep Sheep. Yes, I spent $40 on a stuffed animal with a speaker inside that plays whale music and white noise. I’m not sure why I thought it would work. After all, the white noise I downloaded from itunes and played on the ipod didn’t work. The “brown noise” I got from a friend didn’t work. Perhaps I thought it would work better coming from the intestines of a toy farm animal. The thing is, our boys just are not good sleepers. And this is the very first question any parent will ask another parent – do they sleep through the night? THROUGH THE NIGHT? Hell, I’d be thrilled if they’d sleep for two hours straight. AT THE SAME TIME! See, if you have a single baby, and the baby wakes up crying before you want it to wake up, the crisis is over. The baby’s awake, he’s crying, and you have failed. You simply start over. Now, with twins, when the baby wakes up crying, that’s just the beginning of hell. You grab the baby and run far far away from the second baby, who is still sleeping. Now, you have to run QUIETLY. You mustn’t trip over toy trains that are activated by movement. The toy train that DOES NOT HAVE AN OFF SWITCH. Said train was thrown out the front door at 4 a.m. with mighty, mighty vigor. No! YOU CHOO CHOO!

Yes, I’ve lost my mind. Sleep deprivation has reduced me to a train-throwing crazy woman in a bad housecoat stumbling around on numb legs muttering, “sleep sheep schmeep.”

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