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Dad's Coping Mechanism - 2008

If you're just joining us, you might want to start at the bottom and read upward - or skip the pregnancy and go straight to the birth
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December 27th+, 2008

There's something to be said for control of site content on the server side. That is, as the administrator of this website, I get to block my content from whomever I want. In fact, I block everything from directly linking to my pictures, except for a white list that mostly consists of sites from which I frequently link them myself.

The reason I mention this is that someone's automated search script, apparently looking for pictures returned from a kinda-unsavory search and linking to them from a centralized site, somehow found this completely innocent picture from when Bobby was a couple of weeks old. Instead of that picture showing up on the site, it shows this picture, which is basically a web administrator's way of saying "nanny nanny boo boo." There's nothing to stop someone from downloading a picture and hosting it themselves, but I'm okay with that.

In similar news, if you do a Google search for "mucus plug" (like this - work safe if a little gross), there appear four pictures a little ways down. The third one - which looks like the one I'd most want to click if looking for such an image - is one that I linked to months ago from another site, but the click leads here, not there. I've been getting maybe 25 hits a day from this.

The Internet is weird. While I don't share some people's wariness of its inner bowels, I can certainly understand it, and the desire to keep those bowels from the eyes of their young children.
I had a few creative endeavors going on before the pregnancy, and have been trying to have some such outlet since, of which this page is an example. However, I haven't been writing music or programming. I take comfort in some of my friends who have small children and have been able to restart theirs lately. I'm looking forward to that time for myself, whenever that may be. There are still things going on in my head; it's just that doing something right takes anywhere from a few to a few score hours of focused effort, and that's sorely lacking for now.
We spent three hours in a cafe on New Year's. There was very little fussiness from either of them, which is typical; they generally do well in public. Part of it was probably that we were talking pretty much all the while (we were meeting an old friend of mine), so they weren't bored easily, but they also napped about half the time.

Drew had a poop while we were there, but they fortunately had a changing table. However, that one table was in the women's room. I guess even the hipster places can lag behind the times a little bit. There's just something about changing a baby on a wet public bathroom sink counter that screams "I'd rather go home and do it, making him wallow in his diaper on the way."

The cafe's manager has twin toddler girls, so of course we asked for his reassurance that the sleep thing would get better. We already knew the answer, but we still needed to hear it.
For sale: Twin babies. Will sell separately or as a set. Sleep aids not included. Gypsies welcome.
I build up tolerance to medication very quickly. By the third or fourth dose, there is little or no effect, even if those doses were a few years apart. That I can recall, this has happened with codeine, Benadryl, promethazine, and vicodin. It's highly annoying when trying to control the pain of, say, kidney stones or a molar extraction, or just trying to get a little deeper sleep.

The boys appear to have the same pattern with Benadryl. The first couple of times, it knocked them out. Now, it's like they never took it in the first place.

I'll try giving them some vicodin soon to expand the data set. Just kidding.
We've been saying they may or may not be teething for a while now, but I'm getting more confident about it. Some of the signs are there, most notably the gnawing. Bobby, especially, will eat some amount and then start gnawing on the bottle's nipple. Anything they can get their hands on is a candidate for oral exploration. They both will grab our fingers when we're holding them, stick one in their mouth, and gum at it. It's an odd feeling, and invariably coats you with drool.

In an effort to prove or disprove this theory, tonight we'll be giving them Tylenol at bedtime.
Now that they have better control of their arms and hands, the boys will rub their eyes when they get tired - a sure sign it's time for a nap. Before, they would rub their faces against our shoulders when we held them, and it took us a while to pick up on the reason. We'll know better next time.
We're starting to see - just barely - some glimpses of Little Boys instead of Infants. It's hard to really tell what they're going to look like or act like in a year, but these first clues are starting to emerge. There's not enough to draw any conclusions yet, or even definitive enough to articulate, but there's something nebulous going on.

Probably the one thing I can say with conviction is that they're starting to trust us.
Liss has the boys to herself this week; it's her winter break from the school. It's a harder job than her actual job.
Someone else's blog post that Liss found about raising twins - "The Neglect is Built In."
They have a new best thing ever - paper. Crumple up a sheet of paper and give it to them, and they're good to go. Fortunately for us, it's cheap and ubiquitous.

December 20th+

From our perspective, a review of our breast feeding saga is simple - she expressed concerns about her production from the start of the pregnancy, everyone on the medical side said not to worry about it ("your body will know what to do"), she couldn't produce nearly enough to feed two babies, and then we found out that there were things she could have done while pregnant to help her body prepare. It's a touchy subject for both of us - her for the obvious womanly reasons, and me because the professionals ignored and deceived my wife.

On Wednesday (yes, Christmas Eve), Liss got a call from a lactation consultant who was reviewing the case in order to prepare for our next pregnancy. It's too late for the twins, but not for hypothetical kid number three. Anyway, the hospital's records say that they brought up the low-milk possibility at the beginning, which is false. She brought them up and was poo-pooed.

In other words, here we go again, only this time we'll have to be much more vigilant about it. I'm very averse to conflict (it's a weakness), but perhaps this will give me some experience at it.
Generally speaking, a lot of the boys' fussiness during wakeful hours is from boredom. Their brains are going wild, taking everything in, but their environment doesn't always offer up the goods. We're just not that entertaining, and they're not yet able to entertain themselves - or each other.

Liss will usually take a baby into the kitchen while she cooks, which is enough activity for him to be calm. We've also shattered (for now) the "no screen time until age three" rule she made during her pregnancy days, with bright screen savers and a little TV time. They like it when we sing or I play the piano, so that helps.

The real coup de grāce, however, is Guitar Hero or Rock Band, which we don't own but friends do. They both feature music, hitting stuff, bright moving colors, and basically enough kinetics to keep their brains occupied longer than anything else we've seen. Of course, it's hardly educational beyond learning rhythm, but we're getting four hours of sleep a night, dangit, and Bob Ross* only holds their attention for so long.

* Who was seven levels of awesome, by the way.
Drew has gotten over his anxiety about being held upside down. Now they both dig it.

I've also found a way to focus their attention - I put my lips on their stomach and hum a low note. This will often stop fussiness by focusing their attention, if only temporarily.
Tuesday was the flight back. This time we had no drama with the departure or gate or anything, thank goodness.

We switched who had whom, so Drew was with me in the middle of the plane. He had a few fussy episodes, but nothing lasting more than a short moment, especially when I was quick to take him into the bathroom for a change of scenery (not that an airplane's bathroom is a majestic view). I was surrounded by women who were more than happy to take him when I needed both hands for whatever reason.

Meanwhile, Liss had the back row by the bathroom - window seat. Next to her was a large man with a red jacket and a grill, so between the bright colors and toothy bling, Bob stared at him the whole time he was awake.

Again, they were generally okay. We've seen them at their worst - long bouts of loud, inconsolable screaming - and there was none of that despite the strange crowds and noises. In fact, they seem to like people-watching to a certain extent, which is good, because we're both experts.
Sunday was busy, as the boys began their headlining tour, starting at the house of the parents of my best friend from high school. They've lived in the same house since forever, so I could have had Liss drive and navigated us there blindfolded. We didn't take it that far, though.

Monday saw a trip to Beaumont, where my mom's parents met us halfway (from Louisiana) at my great aunt's house. Another cousin of their generation also drove in from San Antonio. We'd also stopped by dad's parents for a bit; here is Bobby with my grandmother.

We've heard that some babies don't like car rides at all, and scream the whole way. Thanks goodness ours aren't like that, or that trip might have been subject to second thoughts.
The Saturday of the trip was mostly spent at Dad's house. My step-brother drove in from San Antonio with his wife and three kids (5, 8, 11) to meet the boys and have their Christmas with the Houston family. The kids were into the boys, and vice versa, so that was a nice start to the cousinry. Dad's parents also came over, which was much of the point of the trip. My uncle and his wife were in from Virginia.

We got a break in the evening, which we used to find the local Half Price Books. If this level of dorkdom surprises you, then you haven't been paying attention.
Random Christmas Eve weigh-in: Drew 13'10, Bobby 13'4.
Our flight to Houston was at 6pm last Friday. Early that afternoon, I checked the flight's status, which showed a 90 minute delay. Later, it was 150 minutes, so we started modifying the boys' food and nap schedules to try to keep them civil on board. Around 3pm, another check showed 210 minute delay. We were entering redeye territory.

I checked again at 4:27 - the flight was now on time. Somehow the delay had been dropped altogether. We semi-panicked; we had less than two hours to load up the car, park, check our bags, etc. We'd printed our boarding passes from home, which showed a particular gate. They didn't magically alter themselves when Continental changed the departure gate to a different terminal accessible only by tram. It was not a fun time, but we made it.

If someone had studied our house, they'd have found plenty of evidence of our haste: a warm bottle on the changing table, wet clothes I'd just put in the dryer, Christmas tree lit, laptops on ... and my camera. That is, I didn't take it. However, there are lots of pictures on other cameras that I have or will snag.

Because each three-seat row on a plane only has four oxygen masks, you can't have two lap babies. We had to separate. I had Bob for the flight out, and Liss had Drew a few rows up. Bob slept for the first two (of four) hours; I swaddled him and put him on the pull-down tray with his feet dangling over. Note the blanket for a pillow - because I'm such a thoughtful dad and all.

After all of our preparation and paranoia, they were "mostly" good, but we know better than to be lulled for next time.

Being in the crowds in the airport and on the plane also confirmed what we already knew - one intensely cute baby is popular, but two intensely cute identical twin babies are a show-stopper. While all that mainly-female attention is directed at them, I have to say I don't mind basking in the reflective glow. This must be what it's like in a celebrity's entourage.

And here is my dad meeting them for the first time at baggage claim.
Alive and well after the Texas trip. More later.

December 13th+

Last night I was up from 1:30 to 5:30. This does not make for a productive work day.
We're approved for the home equity loan to pay for day care.

Liss seems to think I'm an awesome dad. That's odd to me, because I always feel like my meter is on Empty these days - like there's more I could be doing but don't because I'm always exhausted. She's the one going the extra mile every day and paying the price in her sanity; after all, she's also exhausted, but does more than I do.

I think I've figured it out. She's in touch with other moms now, both online and at gatherings. Almost to a woman, they report less baby-related effort from their husbands than I put forth. While I see how much I'm not doing compared to what I could in theory, she sees where I sit on the bell curve of dad reality.

So, to all you slacker dads - thanks. You make me look good.
Of course, after saying that sleep was going well, last night was awful. At 3:30 we were both on the couch putzing around because we couldn't sleep after a Drew fit. Just for good measure, he woke up crying another hour later.

I don't believe in jinxes, which is useful, because otherwise I'd never be able to write any good news.
The sleep problems from last week+ have gone away for now. The lead suspect is the rice cereal, which we had been putting into their bedtime feeding, then took away. My guess is that it was giving them gas. So, for now, they're back to waking up around 3am and then 6am, which is very fine with us.

One thing we tend to forget is that even these recent sleep challenges are still miles ahead of where we were in July and August. Back then, it was common for one of them to be awake for three hours at a time overnight, whining all the while. We'd sometimes take them into the guest bedroom to just hold and comfort them the best we could. Eventually they'd exhaust themselves back to sleep, but by then our sleeptime was shot. So, at least that's not happening anymore.
From the latest pictures, someone commented that they look like they're going to be troublemakers. We're pretty much expecting it. After all, they're boys, there are two (and can therefore egg each other on, throw down dares, give each other boosts, etc.), and - if genetics are to be believed - they'll be smart.

Plus, I have a history of bucking the norm, for which I may finally get my due.
I've been trying to think of a way to mathematically represent the differences between caring for one baby versus two, preferably in graph form for the masses. I kind of have it figured out in my head, but the time to hone it for public consumption is lacking.

The basic premise is this - taking care of one baby requires some amount of time and effort (let's call this t&e), regardless of whether that baby is one of one, one of two, ... one of n. For our purposes, we can assume that the t&e are constant for all babies in the long term, though that's just variable control and not reality.

However, it's not entirely fair to say that two babies require twice the t&e. There are times when n babies require zero direct t&e - when they're all sleeping. Granted, this is when you're washing bottles, washing clothes, washing yourself, eating, sleeping, etc., but let's keep this to directly baby-related t&e for now.

It's also not fair to say that two fussy babies require twice the t&e as one - because it's impossible to do that. We only have two arms. If both babies are crying, there's only so much you can do, and you resign yourself to that. In some cases, you can kill two birds with one stone - turning on some white noise affects both babies, as does taking them for a walk.

The real challenge comes when two babies are out of synch. When you put two down for a nap, from the caretaker's perspective, the nap ends when the first baby wakes. If you spend an hour calming one baby, and then the other one flares up for an hour, it's the equivalent of one fussy baby for two hours - with another non-fussy baby thrown in. This is where the "adults = babies + 1" ideal comes in, but that's not always possible. In fact, it's a rare luxury. We try to avoid having one person have to take both babies at once, but until we win the lottery, it has to happen.
We hired a nanny a couple of weeks ago, to begin at the new year.

She moved back to California this weekend.
Bobby is enjoying a new game I call "roll the baby."

December 6th+

Scientific principles dictate that when experimenting, you can only change one variable at a time. If you do that, and the result of that experiment changes, you can conclude that the variable you changed affected the outcome. If you change two variables and the result changes, you can't know which created the change. It could even be that both affect a change. Also complicating matters is that if you change two variables and there is no change, it's possible that both created equal but opposite changes that net to zero. Things gets really dicey at 3+.

In trying to get the boys sleeping at night again, we've been experimenting. The problem is that there are so many variables: For the past week or so, they've been waking up at 4:30 or so, and I don't mean to eat. I mean they're up and ready to party. Trying to get them back to their previous wake time of 6:00 has been a losing battle. Of course, as soon as we take them downstairs, get some more food into them (after refusing upstairs), and set them down somewhere, they're out again. By then, we're up, and it's not like we can leave them there and go back to bed.
Five months old.
Comic about the whole older-twin thing.
From my mother:
We grandmothers have a unique question, too! When you tell someone you have grandkids - the universal question is "How many?," to which the universal answer is always that they have a number of grandkids greater than yours.
Drew was able to grab a binky from me and place it into his mouth. For the first nine tries or so, he could bring it to his mouth, but not put it in the right way. He'd end up gumming the edge or something. The main challenge was rotating his wrist, which is harder than bending one's elbow. The main point for me was that he tried multiple times with obvious intent.
Also, further experiments with manhandling Drew have been mostly positive, but he still doesn't like being upside down more than a slight tilt while resting on my legs. Regardless, I'm sure the true roughhousing will come in time.
It seems that there are tons of books and online literature about increasing your odds of conceiving one sex or the other. I don't think this means they're particularly successful, just that there's a very large market for it. Some claim 80% success rates, which I doubt are verified by any outside neutral source.

Seeing as the last four pregnancies along my paternal side - three generations' worth - have resulted in five boys, it stands to reason that Liss might want to tilt the odds a bit when we start trying again next year.

It seems a common opinion that if I were to have a daughter, especially as the youngest, she'd have me wrapped around her finger. I don't argue.
I've stepped up the process of giving Vince and Andi away. Our extended friends network came up empty, so now I'm looking at no-kill shelters. My goal is to close the deal by the time we leave for Texas next Friday.
From Liss:
Sleep deprivation is hard, but it's not the hardest thing about being a parent. Unpredictable sleep is even more annoying than no sleep at all, but not the hardest thing. The lack of alone time (or couple time) is hard, but it isn't the hardest thing.

For me, what's hardest is not knowing if what I'm doing works. I have no idea if I'm doing a good job. Oh, I know I'm not a bad mother, but I sure feel incompetent most of the time. It's not a feeling I'm used to, or one I tolerate well. I've read a dozen books and I've tried a thousand tricks, but nothing is 100% or even 90% effective. Even our beloved Bedtime Routine has been less effective lately.

Everything else I've ever done, I've known if it worked. Through trial and error, my teaching has improved over the years. I'll always suck at basketball, but I don't care. I suck when I start learning a new piece of music, but I know how to get better.

I don't know how to get better at parenting. Practice, in this case, just makes me crazy.

I do know it will get easier. All the twin parents we run into promise it will. People on my July baby boards keep talking about how their babies suddenly started sitting, creeping, sleeping through the night. Since they were preemies, our guys are still a little behind their same-age peers; and it's not as if there's an exact magic age where any of these things happen. I just know it's supposed to be soon, and I'm holding onto that thought with both white-knuckled fists.
Adding to everything is that we've probably gotten soft - in a way. Between Liss's mother and godmother, we've had live-in help for almost three months. Besides the day to day stuff, they've been great safety valves for when one of us starts losing it. In two weeks, no more.
Just a few pictures this time.

November 29nd+

One thing's clear - they both like music.
(Funny - a few weeks ago I was lamenting that I had nothing to write about. I should just shut up about that.)
We're flying with the boys to Texas in two weeks. We're very paranoid about this.

We could only afford two seats, so we'll have a baby in each lap. The plane takes off right in the middle of the witching hour (6pm). I have general fears against causing a scene or imposing on others, so I'm terrified that we'll have two screaming babies in a crowd of strangers, where our only refuge is the restroom.

Liss got a couple of tips. One is to bring little gift bags of ear plugs and candy for the seat-neighbors. Another is, when a baby is fussing, have the dad (that's me) be the one to walk him in the aisles, as he'll get more sympathy.

There's also the logistics. We don't trust a car rental company's baby seats, so either we have to bring ours or Dad has to borrow a pair and pick us up.

What if we're stuck on the tarmac for two hours? Or in the terminal? Or rerouted for weather?

Our old-school pediatrician said children's Benadryl is okay for knocking them out, but not to have the flight be the first time we try it. So, we'll be experimenting with that soon.
Liss called the clinic for the boys' make-up shot*. They said they had some and to come on in. She made an appointment for the next day, loaded them up, and took them in. They were out; she had talked to the one person there who hadn't heard this. So, she went for nothing.

If there's anything that peeves us right now, it's wasting our time.

* No, not a photo session in drag.
Everything's kind of a blur. Days become weeks becomes months, but they all kind of blend together into a big mesh. We've almost made it to five months. July seems like an eon ago, but also like it was last week. Normally you count time down toward a future date; we're just counting up, noting how old they are and how long we've survived, but with no destination. There's really no light at the end of this tunnel.

When they can walk, they can trip down the stairs. When we can let them roam, we might find them sleeping in a litter box. But that's okay, because someday they won't require the constant attention they do now. That's really what wears you down. Hell, I wouldn't wake a kid sleeping in a litter box if he seemed content with it.

Somehow it's Thursday already. I really have no idea how that happened. It feels like a Tuesday.
Attempt #2 to show Drew that being upside down can be fun was also a failure. Since Bobby loves it, I believe I have proven that this attitude it is not a genetic trait.

Twin studies - startin' small.
However, Drew does like being manhandled in other ways, like making him dance, or rolling him onto his back and then up again, or lifting him into the air. Eventually they'll be wrestling each other for the top bunk, so I consider this training.
Everyone tells us how big the boys are getting, but I just don't see it. I know that's weird, seeing as they're triple their birth weight and half again as long, but I've always been a little slow when it comes to noticing changes in people. Plus, I see them for hours every day, so it's like hair growing or any other gradual change, right?

I can definitely feel it in my arms and back after carrying one for two hours, though. Ow.
I'm not one to use the word "miracle," but it's still pretty remarkable to me how a whole person can be created out of next to nothing. And then, a whole second person came from the split of that one person at the tiniest stages.

We need to cut off God's federal funding. He's experimenting with cloning.
According to Liss and Granma, strangers ask which twin is older. A lot. We think it's a pointless question, so we didn't plan on bringing it up with the boys. However, it stands to reason that if they ask us, they'll ask them when they're older, and they'll want to know so they can answer them.*

Liss's idea was to first draw up a contract for the boys to sign, saying that the "older" one would never lord it over the "younger," that the younger wouldn't pout about it, etc., and then we'd tell them. I'm not sure how legally binding a contract with a three-year-old can be :-D, but the point would be to make it clear that it's not important to us. Besides, they're only one minute apart, and it's very likely that were actually born in the same minute; Washington law forbids multiples to have the same time on their birth certificates.

We could also try an alternate route that they might find fun. When someone asks, they can say "guess!" The benefit is that about half will get it wrong, showing that it doesn't mean anything.

As a side note, apparently the local Asian ladies are very likely to ask this. It's a "who gets the inheritance" cultural thing.

* Enough third-person pronouns for ya?
Liss's new strategy for nighttime is a compromise. It's clear they're not ready to sleep through the night on their own, so we had to abandon that hope for now. Instead, the idea is to let us sleep as long as we can, without having to go to bed at 8pm.

So, she "sleep-fed" them when we went up at 10. They didn't wake again until 5, which is better than 2 for our sakes. The compromise is the time spent feeding them at 10 that wasn't there before.
A common response to the "how are you?" question has become "up since 4." That's the case today, mostly thanks to the whiny stylings of one Baby Bobby.
When Liss took the boys in for their two-month checkup and shots, the clinic was out of one of the shots. She had to go back a week later to get them. It happened again at their four-month, with the same vaccination (it's a series). They have it in stock again, so she (or Granma) and they are going back just for this one shot. Again.

It's a national shortage, so it's not the clinic's fault, but still. To the boys, it's a pain in the arm, but to us, it's a pain in the ass.
Drew was not nearly as happy to be upside down as Bobby is.
[video] Drew's first attempt at solids. We might have to set up viewings as a Thanksgiving tradition.

Speaking of which, the boys' mere existence is the first step toward the reinstatement of another holiday staple - the kids' table.
We got video of the first attempts at solid food during Thanksgiving, but I don't really consider it post-worthy. It's 8 minutes of us bantering, with some babies thrown in.

If I can figure out how to edit video easily enough, I might just put up Drew's initial reaction. It's worth sharing.
Bobby likes to be held upside down*, either all the way vertical or slightly inclined while in my lap. I haven't tried it with the Drewbie yet.

* Yes, I'm gentle with him.
When I started this thing almost a year ago, I expected a couple dozen hits a week from family and friends wanting to keep up with the goings on. Around the birth, it was getting about 80 hits a day, and 120 by the end of August. I thought that was the peak, as people would stop checking as often when the novelty wore off. It's now at 190.

Google Image Search has been an especially large part of this, as people look for pictures of things like ultrasounds and babies. Maybe 60% of the traffic comes from that. So as not to rock Google's boat, instead of moving this year's content to an archive page when the new year comes, I'll just make a fresh one and keep this one as-is for the 2008 archive.

An unfortunate side effect of the Google thing is that not everyone is looking for innocent things. My log report shows some search strings that are ... disturbing.
The boys are definitely going through the four-month sleep regression. They've gone from one wakeup a night to two or sometimes three, and the fill-them-with-water trickery/strategy isn't working. I guess they're too smart for that ... yay?

They say you can't spoil a newborn, and to do what you can to figure out why they're fussy and Just Fix It until about six months. The idea is that they have no concept of cause and effect - they don't equate crying with the result of getting fed. However, I'm starting to think our boys are precocious in this.

My only evidence is that they now have a flash of recognition when seeing a bottle, as though they know they're about to be fed. In fact, seeing it usually gives them a renewed sense of urgency ("bring it here!"), which hopefully will someday be replaced by relief ("okay, I see a bottle, so I'll be fed in three seconds, a span for which I can wait patiently").
For three days starting with Thanksgiving, they averaged eating about 20% more than they ever had in a day. On Saturday, our little notepad shows feedings every hour between 6am and 7pm, save for two.

Sunday, we took them out a few times, and their intake was pretty normal. I guess when just hanging around the house, they get bored and notice any slight hunger pang, whereas being out and about distracts them until they're actually hungry.

I'm sure there's a lesson in this.
My favorite [clean] joke involves a pair of twin skunk children named In and Out. I can just imagine telling this to the boys in a few years, and they run with it, giving each other those nicknames. I'd probably join the fun: "I told In to come in, but he's still out." "No, Daddy, I'm Out. It's In who's out." "That's what I said!" ... and childish giggling ensues, perhaps even from the child.

I won't relay the joke here; it's far too fun to tell it in person.
Thursday night the grandparents took the overnight shift and gave us their hotel room. We had grandiose visions of watching a movie, catching up on our online goings on, or even finding a nearby restaurant to patronize. Instead, we lay on the bed and woke up 11 hours later.
They've been eating a lot more this past week - I guess it's a new spurt after all.

November 22nd+

Another example of their brains developing - black and white (old pic) versus color.

There's a crude mobile above their changing table to keep them distracted while we do our thing. It has three small animals hanging from it - a zebra, giraffe, and lion. For the first few months, the zebra was far and away their favorite - they would stare at it for minutes at a time, follow it when we'd move the mobile, etc. Now, the giraffe is gaining in popularity, with his bright orange dots. The lion should be next; his colors are more muted in tan and brown.
Tuesday there's a Thanksgiving potluck at work. Liss is bringing the boys, so lots of people will be meeting them for the first time. I hope they're not overwhelmed - babies by the attention, adults by the cuteness.

Update: They were fine, thank goodness. And of course, they were a hit.
The cavalry arrives today for Thanksgiving - Liss's brother and father.

Part of the holiday festivities will entail feeding the babies solid food - sweet potatoes - for the first time. I'll try to get good video.
They've grown seven inches in four months. Put another way, they're 40% taller.

Puberty ain't got nothin' on newborns.
I've discovered two more soothing methods. We'd tried them before, but their brains weren't ready for them yet.

One is pictures. Just hold a book with pictures open in front of them. Turn the pages as necessary. A newspaper works in a pinch, especially something like Parade, but all that black and white print is a little much. Simple primary colors are best.

The other was something I'd tried before with limited success, but I was getting desperate - the piano. I'm good at making stuff up on the fly, so I held Drew in one arm and dinked with the right. Liss brought over a fussy Bob to join the scene, and they were both conked within fifteen minutes. The general idea - simple melodies high up the scale (think C4 to C5). The jury's still out on major versus minor keys.

My basic theory is that they get fussy when their brains are bored, but you can't overdo the stimulation, either.
Thanks to Granma and Amy, we got a date night over the weekend, during which we met a dad of toddler twins at the grocery store. True to form, he said we were really in the trenches at four months, and that it would get better. After all, his twins were happily playing with each other and the single lemon he had given each of them.

They had teeth, too. Creepy.
The last few days have been chaotic. That is to say, they've been chaotic.

They're still not officially colicky, but man. Crying is one thing - screaming is a whole other level. It's supposed to mean they're overtired and/or overstimulated, but when they nap, it's for 30 minutes. By this age, it should be 90. It used to be that a fussy baby in the crib meant whining and maybe some crying, but now he'll often skip those and go straight to the screaming.

Exaserbating the problem is that they're not newborns anymore, and the soothing techniques for newborns are losing their effectiveness. Swaddling, binkies, swings, play mat, stroller walks, shushing, white noise, and the bedtime Routine all seem to do less than they used to. We're having trouble finding new arrows for our Quiver of Calm, and we're throwing the kitchen sink at them*.

From what I'm reading, they might be overwhelmed by the changes in their brains from the last growth spurt. They're aware of more and more stimuli, but they can't process it all yet. As a parallel, imagine if you woke up tomorrow able to see radio signals - cell phones, remote controls, etc. They're everywhere. Besides having this whole new level of stimulus, now imagine you had no capacity to know what they were, or any way to communicate what you were experiencing or even ask questions about it. So, all we can do is be there for them as they get used to it, and show them that the world isn't as scary as they think it is. And right when they do, they'll get another spurt.

In fact, for all we know, this is another growth spurt, but the last one was only two weeks ago. That would be odd, but you never know how or when preemies are going to catch up. We keep a keen eye on their peers - babies born at the same time but full term - and ours definitely haven't caught up. It's supposed to take about two years.

Part of the deal also might have to do with the formula change. While the regular stuff only has 10% fewer calories than the Neosure, I'd swear they're digesting much more quickly. Yesterday afternoon they each ate 4 out of 5 hours. We're accustomed to 2.5 to 3 hours between eats. We're trying to compensate by making bigger bottles at a time, but the human stomach regulates intake by volume, so unless theirs are growing, it can only be so effective.

This all sounds very complainy, and I guess it is. That's not really the point. It's just that they generally don't seem nearly as happy as they were just a few weeks ago, and when they're not happy, we're not happy.

*Figuratively. For now.
Whenever I'd hear about raising babies from the dad's point of view - before having them myself - the issue of diaper changing always came up, as though it were this big shadow of doom looming over an otherwise smooth transition to fatherhood. When we found out we were having twins, it just heightened the warnings we'd get - 800 diapers a month! Poop up to your ankles! You'll spend your life at the changing table!

Truth be told, it's really no big deal at all. Cloth was a problem at first, but now that the boys have grown into the covers, even those are off the radar. You take off the old, put it where it needs to go, wipe if necessary, and put a new one on. Piece of cake - and you have a happier baby for your efforts. We haven't even had a "Fountain of Youth" in ages, as they learn the basics of control (work those Kegels, boys!).

I've heard of dads avoiding the diaper changes. I'm here to say that those dads are pussies. You heard me.

Maybe I'll change my tune as they get bigger and produce larger, stinkier poops, or when they're three and still can't wipe themselves. But so far ... whatever. It's something like number twenty on my list of give-a-damn. When people ask us about having baby twins, we never bring up diaper changes. It's a non-issue.
The general strategy for helping a baby sleep through the night - while avoiding the cry-it-out method - is to make overnight feedings less worthwhile. For the most part, this means offering them less by making smaller bottles, but it can also mean making those bottles more dilute. Last night we went to the next step - after the 4:30 feeding, it was water only until breakfast. This worked better (faster) than I thought it would.

The flip side is that in order to make up for the lack of food at night, they have to eat more during the day.
We've hired a nanny for when Granma goes back to Minnesota, starting with the new year. She'll be a little cheaper than double day care, plus we won't have to get them ready and drive them in the mornings or pick them up after work. They'll also get sick less, which just delays those initial exposures, but they need that delay for now.

So far it's just 'til the summer, when we'll re-evaluate. If Liss gets pregnant again by then, keeping a nanny would make even more sense financially, since she probably wouldn't demand 50% more money like a day care would.
True to the stereotypes, the nanny is Latina, but that just means we'll instruct her to only speak Spanish to the boys. The current research says that the best strategy is to have each adult speak only one language to a child, and that it be the adult's native language. The idea isn't necessarily to make them bilingual, but just to give them an ear for it. If we were to try to do this ourselves in anything but our native English - between us, we know smatterings of Spanish, French, and Russian - the results would be laughable.
If you ever want to upset a calm baby, leave him to go pee. He will begin complaining loudly just as you're in mid-stream.
With a little help, Bob slept through the night without food. However, we've learned that past performance is not indicative of future results. For instance, Drew woke at 10pm demanding food, about four hours sooner than usual.

November 15th+

Last evening was bad; they took turns screaming for no apparent reason, and none of our many soothing techniques were working. But that's not the point of this entry.

I took Drew for a little walk, which usually works, but not this time. So there he was, screaming in my ear, when we passed a woman walking the other way. A few seconds later, I could hear her saying something, but not the content because of Drew. She didn't seem to get that, so I walked back toward her to hear what she had to say.

"Why don't you give him to the Mommy?"
Previously, when we'd lay the boys side by side, they'd each be in their own little worlds. This has changed in the last week or so, in that one will sometimes look at the other. Some of those times, the other will look back. This might elicit mutual smiles and playful "talk."
Speaking of talking, Bobby has discovered how to squeal in a very high pitch, and he's learning how to get loud with it. Usually he does it when he's happy, but not always.
The ideal baby care situation is one more adult than there are babies. With twins, that means three adults, so each baby gets a full person's attention, but the adults can rotate who's "on duty" and get breaks (and sometimes act as "extra hands" for the two).

Over Thanksgiving weekend, there will be five adults in the house, two of whom haven't held a baby in months. The normal situation might be put on its head, with babyless people wandering around looking to see from whom they can snatch one away.

However, Liss and I will also use this glut to get out of the house sans babies as much as possible.
Before the boys were born, I'd call the cats "bad cat" all the time, even if they were being fine. It was just a generic nickname for them. When the boys got here, I shifted this over to them, but after years of saying "bad cat," I'd slip and call them that instead of "bad baby." Now that they've been here a few months, it's the other way around - I keep slipping and calling the cats "bad baby."

My mind must be going.
Last night's witching hour (actually 5-7pm) was one of the better ones. I had Bob on my lap for most of the two hours, with a couple fuss breaks that required a little walking or a snack. Most of the time he just lie/sat there contentedly, playing with the newspaper or my hand or staring at his feet or talking with me. It was pleasant.

Perhaps their latest growth spurt has passed, with the improved motor control being the new skill gained. There also seems to be a heightened awareness of others, including each other.
When we go to Texas for Christmas, we'll be keeping them on Pacific time as best we can. This means putting them down at 9pm local time, and hoping they'll stick to their time zone and wake up at 8am local. If they regress due to sunlight variations or the new environment or whatever, we'll be in a world of hurt when we get back.

They might be sleeping through the night by then, but we're not counting on it. Besides, the middle-of-night feeding has gotten much better. When they were born, it was 40-120 minutes per baby, three times a night - now it's down to 15-20, once; they usually go right back to sleep. The only real variable is when they want it (12:30? 4:00?), but we're getting used to that.
I've kind of stopped using "Little Dude" as their shared nickname. I'm apparently replacing it with "Mr. Baby."
They're both grabbing things with intent now. Granted, their attempts are tenuous at best, but the desire is there.
Not much multimedia this week.

November 8th+

They were a little fussy while lying on the mat this morning, but I was able to get their focus* with a rousing, whistled rendition of the Scooby-Doo theme song.

* through bewilderment.
To delay retiring the Miracle Blanket for Bobby, Liss had this idea for his nighttime attire - diaper under Blanket under sleep sack. The sack helps keep the blanket from getting too loose, and even if it does, he's still just in his sack, which is better than being completely free. That still freaks him out a bit.

The upshot is that his arms - pinned by the Blanket - aren't in the sack's sleeves, so it looks like he's armless all night long. We have fun with that.
Their lungs are developing, which is both good and bad. Whether it's good or bad usually depends on the time of day. Or night.
We've been trying to figure out day care since before the boys were born. Our grandparental home care ends with the year, so we have to finalize soon. Lots of parents have the nanny versus day care debate, and we're no different. There are enough pluses and minuses to both that we've been wrangling with it for months. Even the pediatrician was non-committal.

There's no way we can afford for either of us to quit our jobs and stay home; we have a Seattle mortgage. We'd budgeted for one kid; twins threw that out the window. Day care for two - including a multi-kid discount - runs about $1500/mo. We might be able to hire a nanny for a little less*. Even so, it's more than we have to spend, such that we're looking at a home equity loan to cover it. The net effect of that would be to take less out of our pockets every month, but for many more months than they're actually be in care, for the price of [tax-deductible] interest. Of course, that assumes that anyone can get a loan against their house at the moment. Being an adult sucks sometimes.

I'll just warn the family members now - our Christmas lists will pretty much have this one thing on it.

*We looked at au pairs, but it just seems like such a big crapshoot.
Last night's witching hour was pretty bad, too. I had Drew, who would cry anytime I'd sit down, to the point that I was getting achy from walking around with 12 squirmy pounds for an hour. When they're like this, the idea is to keep trying things until something works, which involved a diaper change, feeding, binky attempts, the swing, the wedge, the play mat, facing over my shoulder, facing forward, and other things I'm forgetting. Eventually I was able to sit down with him calm... outside. So, imagine me and Drew, sitting out on our tiny front porch in a chair I brought out from the dining room, in the dark and rain (but sheltered). If it hadn't been so close to their bedtime by the time I figured this out, I would have fetched a book.

The prolonged fussiness is likely part of the reason he slept so well, though. It's always a tradeoff - Bob slept all afternoon, which may be a direct cause of ...
Bobby was horrible last night. It might have been discomfort from the shots, or that I put him in a sleep sack instead of a Blanket, or a growth spurt, but whatever it was, he wouldn't stay asleep, and when he was awake, he wouldn't shut up.

On top of that, I'm sick again. I just want to crawl back into bed, but I don't have any sick days left.
News from the ped.

After we and the diabetes study people both showed them to be nearly equal in weight, the ped got them at 12/0 (Drew) and 11/9, or seven ounces apart. Oops. They're both 23" long, or 1'11" as she likes to say.

The important thing for us is that they've gained enough to get off the expensive formula. This'll save maybe $200 a month. We still have a couple of cans, which we can use to transition them toward the normal stuff. Naturally, my food tracking spreadsheet is already set up with caloric density as a variable. :-D

The ped also said not to try the cry-it-out method of getting them to sleep through the night until they're six months old, but we were going to try other ways before that one anyhow.
Our plan is that when the twins are old enough to realize that we can somehow tell them apart, we won't tell them how. We can just answer "because we're your parents!" The truth is we want to preserve whatever methods we're using, and mischievous toddlers might attempt to remove or conceal them (we've heard stories).

Currently, we only have two sure ways - a slight difference in their ears, and the nail polish we keep on Bobby's big toes. We can't keep the latter permanently, and the ear thing just isn't pronounced enough for it to be our sole method. Compounding matters is that hospitals don't keep babies' footprints on file anymore, which could have been a backup. (They got them made, and we have them somewhere, but they're among the stacks of random paperwork and knick-knacks they gave us to take home.)

We're paranoid about telling them apart for a reason. While we can generally tell who's who just by looking, a 99% success rate isn't good enough - you only have to screw up once*. Imagine if I was convinced that one was Drew and she was sure he was Bobby. Unless it's resolved to 100% certainty for both of us, the doubt could haunt us forever.

Apparently most babies don't get moles for a couple of years.

* Though if you screw up twice, you're good to go!
The Miracle Blanket website says a baby will let you know when it's time to stop using their product, which they say is usually around four months. Bobby seems to be doing just that - he's getting better at figuring out how to get out of it, which is a rather complicated feat. It may be time for him, but we don't want to lose the block of sleep they usually have after we first put them down, either. In other words, he hasn't come up with a substitute way of soothing himself consistently. A common refrain during the wee hours is now "I'm sick of this thing! Wah! Oh, crap, I'm free of it! Wah!"

One option is to split them up, with Drew in the crib and Bob in the moses basket or bassinet. Drew seems like he's very close to sleeping through the night, and we think Bob's preventing that sometimes with his proximal blanket-related fussiness. Separating them wouldn't really help us, but it might help Drew.

Of course, all of this is expected during a growth spurt, so at least that silver lining is there.
Pediatrician today. They'll be getting shots, which probably means a long night ahead.
Four months old.
While we'd already decided to start trying for another kid next summer, it only recently hit us that next summer is only about eight months away.
The topic of last month's first-year twins meeting was breastfeeding, which we're not doing. This month it's pregnancy with multiples, which we've already done.* They've acknowledged this by telling the parents to "come share your experiences," but between the subjects and the meetings starting right when we normally start The Routine, we haven't been going. It's just not worth our time and effort.

They also sent out a notice of three play dates for members with babies. All three are on weekday afternoons. Not only does this assume the mom isn't working (false), but we bet they don't even consider the idea of a dad wanting to come, too (also false). She'd attend one on a weekend - heck, I might even go if there are no good games on. We're gun-shy about bringing it up, though, because we think their response would be "so host one," and there's no way we have the space (or cleanliness) for that many parents and babies.

* That is to say, she's already done.
Just about whenever Liss takes the boys for an outing, she reports back that they were being flirty with the women who flock to the cute twin babies.

My question is, are they also flirty with the men? I'll bet they act the same way, but that she'd be less likely to report it as flirty behavior in that case. However, I'd also bet that many fewer men approach the three of them, and that they're less cutesy about it when they do.

Update: She says men talk to her, not the babies. I guess that means cooing at babies is a feminine trait, in which case I'm a total flamer. Who knew?
Crayola used to make a "Flesh" color, which of course is only appropriate for white people, which means it's not appropriate at all, and was changed (to Peach) in the 60s.

The boys have hair, but you can't tell. It's flesh colored. I mean, really it's light blonde, but the effect is that there is no effect. They're starting to get some fuzz on their eyebrows, too, but you still can't tell. It's like the fuzz on - wait for it - a peach. You know it's there, but unless you're thinking about, you don't really notice.
By last night's overnight feeding, Bobby had loosened his Blanket, so I tightened him up. Liss says that when she woke up a few hours later, he had broken out of it with both arms and was happily sucking on his hands. Perhaps it's time to try leaving them out again. The whole thing about self-soothing by using their hands as binkies hasn't really materialized like we'd hoped, but we might as well try again.
They've been growth spurting again for the last few days, i.e. consistently eating more per day than before. This means a physical and/or mental change is coming, but you never know what that'll be. It might even be different between the two, but that hasn't happened yet.

November 1st+

They still wake up around 3:00am to eat (sometimes 1:30, sometimes 4:30, etc.), and I still can't get back to sleep once or twice a week, including last night. Liss - bless her - often tries to feed them both so I don't have to wake up, but that requires their cooperation as well. After all, it only takes one crying baby to wake us up, and feeding/burping them both at once is quite the juggling act.

For my part, when I can't sleep, I can take whoever's fussier downstairs and hopefully let her sleep more. But again, that means the other twin has to cooperate.
In an effort to transition Drew to sleeping through the night, we left his right arm out of the Miracle Blanket so he could use it to smoothe himself. It didn't work at all, but I've noticed he favors his left hand for that, so maybe we'll try again with that one.
We had names for the boys before they were born, but not which was which. We assigned them after one day, with Bob being the mellower of the two, befitting his namesakes. In fact, we called Drew the Drama King for the first couple of weeks - we stopped that partially so it wouldn't become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but also because he settled down.

However, in the last few weeks, it's Bobby who's been the King - fussier during the witching hour, first to wake up and demand food overnight, harder to soothe, etc. As a thought experiment, we wondered what it would take to switch them on purpose - the one we call Andrew would become Robert and vice versa. The truth is, it wouldn't take much, especially now that they're the same weight.

We have no actual plans to do it, though.

As far as you people know.
They were weighed at the appointment for the diabetes study, both coming in at 11/8 with clothes/diapers on. We did our own naked weights last weekend, both at 11/6, so it's unofficial - Bobby's caught up. The ped visit next Tuesday will (or won't) make it official. One thing's for sure, though - Bob's face isn't much thinner than Drew's anymore, so it's harder to tell them apart that way.
Part of the diabetes study involves analyzing their poop. For yesterday's first visit, their Granma saved soiled disposable diapers in Ziploc bags to bring in. Because appointments are quarterly but sampling is monthly, they got mailers at the appointment.

That's right - we'll be sending baby crap through the mail.

While the study goes until they're 15, I don't think the sampling does.
The boys are going to their first visit for the diabetes study today, which will include blood draws. They might also get weighed, which would be a bonus.
From Liss:
I think about how baffled my babies will be when they learn about how hard-earned African-American voting rights are. They'll take it for granted that we could have a person of color as our president. In this neighborhood, they'll grow up with friends from all backgrounds. It makes me smile and think the world is getting better.
We're in a couple of small "July babies" online communities.

One of the member moms is pregnant again.

Fortunately for her, her July baby was just a singleton, but still. No, thanks.
We think Drew's ready to make the transition to sleeping through the night; he's practically doing it on his own. However, Bobby's definitely not ready, and we don't want to get them too far off each other's schedules. Plus, doing it with and without the Miracle Blankets are two entirely different things, so that's a major variable as well.
Drew flipped from his stomach to his back for his Granma - twice in quick succession. This catches him up to Bob on this front, though even Drew's still a little earlier than the bell curve would predict.
I just realized that we dressed the boys as fruits for Halloween. I wonder how many people would refuse to do that due to the slang connotation?

October 25th+

As I'd previously mentioned, we'd been putting the boys to bed earlier and earlier to prepare for the time change this weekend.

The problem with that is - it's backwards. The goal is to put them down at their bedtime of 7pm on Sunday, except this week that's 8pm. We were supposed to be keeping them up later.

I can't believe none of y'all noticed.
We weighed the boys over the weekend at 10/15 and 10/7. I don't really trust the scale's accuracy, but it's better than guessing. They'll get an official weigh-in (and, uh, length-in) at the pediatrician's on November 11.

We're seeing this particular ped because of how small they were when born, but he's at an inconvenient location for us. The one we want for the long term is a general practitioner with a ped credential just five minutes away. This coming visit will probably be the last one at the special doctor, after which we can go to the local one.

They'll also be getting more shots, which means we need to keep the Tylenol and Motrin handy.
Roughly speaking, the boys' development has followed their food intake graph* - lots at first, but levelled off for a while now.

I post this only as a visual for a shift in my thinking in the last week or so. I was talking with a friend (mother of a grade school boy) about our frustrations at the twins' various regressions and plateaus instead of the notable progress of their first couple of months. She simply replied that she really likes the baby phase.

Those first couple of months were pretty touch and go with their health. The first several milestones and doctor visits went pretty far toward reassuring us that they'd be okay, so each one was celebrated. Plus, they were frequent - now, not so much, but it's not because they're doing poorly. It's just how this age is.

So. The baby phase. It's going to last a while, and the new developments will come. In the meantime, we can just kick back and enjoy our babies. They're not underweight newborns anymore. They're often quick to smile for us and maybe even practice a laugh once in a while. They look us in the eye and sometimes win the stare contest. When we face them toward each other, they'll usually smile and giggle for a while before their brains tire. Something's turning their tiny gears in there.

We're not in a hurry to have them crawl or walk in this House of Death. And when they learn to talk, it means they'll learn to talk back. We can wait for all that. We have babies.

*x-axis: Two weeks per tic, y-axis: Calories per day
The problem with starting their bedtime routine earlier is that it's working. That is, we're putting them down half an hour earlier, but now they're waking up earlier at night - about 12:30 and 4:30. So, we're having to do two night feedings instead of one (2:30 then 6:00 to wake up), then trying to squeeze in that little extra sleep from 5 to 6:30, which usually doesn't happen for me.
I really shouldn't be allowed unfettered access to technology. Or babies.
With the end of daylight savings time coming in a week, we're moving The Routine back over the next few days rather than jerk them an hour back after the switch. They had a long day Saturday, so we started at 6:30 anyway (instead of 7:00), so we'll just keep doing that for a bit, then 6:15, then 6:00 as the switch approaches.

October 18th+

After three perfectly fine evenings, the conclusion is clear - I have the superhuman ability to change my boys' behavior by merely complaining about it.

Of course, after bitching about the witching hour yesterday, last night was just fine.

There's only one explanation.

They're on to me.
I'm officially announcing my Electoral College Pool, though of course I've been bugging people about it for months. Obviously, I wrote it while Liss was pregnant, not after.
We call 5-7pm the witching hour. They are often at their worst during these two hours before bedtime - inconsolable, unsoothable, don't want to lie down, don't want to sit down, don't want tummy time. They're tired but won't sleep, hungry but won't eat. Mostly we walk around with them over our shoulders, try to put them down, they cry, we pick them up, walk around, try to feed them, they refuse, we walk around, and so on. Eventually we'll find whatever it is will sooth them that evening, whether it be the swing, play mat, Gripe Water, singing, playing airplane, TV set to loud static, a diaper change, or what-have-you. Usually it's a combination of things.

Last night Drew calmed down after I laid him on his back and showed him pages of sheet music. Maybe he was just bored. It probably helped that I had the TV static cranked.

Anyway, what this means is that we come home from work and deal with this for two hours before they eat and go to bed. It's hardly a peachy bonding experience. It's also why we don't take them anywhere after 3pm or so anymore - we learned our lesson at Canadian Thanksgiving.

It doesn't quite qualify under the definition of colic, but I'm still calling it Colic Light. If that's the case, colic is supposed to disappear around the fourth month, which might be December for our premiees - it started late, so it might end late. If it's not colic, then hopefully the pediatrician has suggestions, but his focus is on their growth, not our sanity, so maybe not.
Maybe it's our imagination, but the boys seem to have plateaued* or even regressed in many areas in the last few weeks:
*Wow, that's a lot of vowels in a row.
A study analyzed the boys' blood when they were born and found that they are at an elevated (3%) risk for juvenile diabetes. "They" were invited to join the study, but participating would be a moderate pain for years to come. However, their recent leaky diapers pushed Liss off the fence into enrolling them. Their first appointment is on the 6th; I don't know what it will entail.
One thing I wish they liked but don't is lying on our chests. It gets the same reaction as tummy time, which is a little tolerance followed by "get me upright!" They do like being held against our shoulders, looking out at the world behind us (which is often just the couch), but that requires a hand for stability - two if they're feeling bobbleheady.
I'm about to get a new cell phone, which is compatible with those Bluetooth cyborg earpiece things. Normally I probably wouldn't bother getting one, but it frees up a hand. If the things only came in solid-gold models, I think I'd still consider it.
When the morning comes, there are five people and three cats that need breakfast. Generally speaking, the twins get it first. Is it because they need it more? Are they the hungriest? Most deserving? Most in need of sustinence for the day ahead?

No. They're the loudest.

What are we teaching them, I wonder?
Bonus pseudoautobiographical comics!
Their cloth diapers are leaking more lately. They could just be peeing more because they're growing, but if they're peeing more just because, it may be a symptom of juvenile diabetes. But we're not there yet. It's more likely that they just outgrew the current cloth.

October 11th+

Liss's mom arrived Thursday for a two-month stint. Liss is taking off work for the day to show her the nitty gritty.

She's already paying dividends, as I probably would have been late to work without her.
It feels that the last few days have been a step back. They're not sleeping as long, smiling as much, talking as much, eating as much. One would think that another week would have meant sucking their hands with more deliberation, but that's not the case. Maybe they miss Shirley.
Last night Drew pooped while wearing the Miracle Blanket again, which is inconvenient for us. I asked him to change this and poop at 2 instead.

Today he pooped at 2.
From Liss:
Crying tears rolling down his* face! Salty cheek kisses! I can't stand it!
(Okay, I can stand it long enough to take a picture.)
There have been moist eyes and small evaporative trails, but this is the first real tear. We're in big trouble now.

* Bob's.
I've written as much in the three months since the birth as I did in the six months before it. Crazy.
We got a play mat similar to this one at the club sale. Liss says one of the other moms in her weekly baby group have one for her twin girls, who love it so much that she calls it the Mat of Neglect.

It's nice to know we're not the only ones with a sense of humor about our terrible parenting.
Drew pooped soon before bedtime, which seems to be his MO lately. In fact, they both very rarely poop during the ten hours they're in the Miracle Blankets, and usually once per day. So, imagine my surprise when he did The Grunt a few times during the bedtime feeding, followed by his buns making some complementary sounds that I'll leave to your imagination.

This meant undoing his Blanket and sleeper to get at ... a nice liquidy poop. There must have been something odd going on to (a) produce his second poop in two hours, and (b) the unusual consistency. We'll keep an eye on it.

I know you're all fascinated by this.
We got Drew on the scale - about ten pounds six ounces. That's four more ounces than Bobby, but the gap was eight a month ago, so if you believe the weights of an old mechanical scale, he's catching up.
Here is a video of Drew discovering his feet. I took this after he was a few minutes into it, including making himself smile over it all, but this was the best I could capture.
After last night's shenanigans, we won't be going to tonight's first-years twins meeting. It starts at their bedtime, and we're now gun-shy.

We're also now considering our options for the airplane trip around Christmas, up to and including rum.
Sunday evening we went to Matt and Ben's place for Canadian Thanksgiving. It's an annual "friend's Thanksgiving" we do so as not to interfere with the "family Thanksgiving" later.

We took the boys, who were fine a while, but eventually were overwhelmed by all the goings on, which ended in Drew having the worst fit of theirs lives so far. He was crying and screaming incessantly for a good 15 minutes before Mom had the idea of taking him outside for some fresh air and change of scenery. He was still fussy out there, but manageable. I went back inside, excused us to get our stuff and now-fussy spare baby, and we left. It was almost their bedtime anyway.

The car ride calmed them down, but the real coup was the bedtime feeding, during which Bobby broke the single-feeding record by some 25%. Meanwhile, however, Drew had the worst single-day total in recent memory.

We embraced our lameness and went to bed at 9:15, expecting a hard night of fussy babies. However, except for a Drew binky-popping at 3:15, they didn't wake until 5:15! That's almost ten hours - apparently they were really tired. We asked ourselves if it was worth the incident that made them so tired ... the answer was no. But it's still a step. Just to add a variable, we didn't leave any hands out for sucking this time.

I'm also starting to realize just how coincidental it is that they often wake up at the same times. It's likely that they wake each other up. However, one waking baby is just as effective at waking us up as two, so I think we'd rather keep the status quo than separate them to have them wake up - and therefore wake us up - at separate times.
With two months between pediatrician visits, we'd been looking for a way to weigh the boys ourselves. The idea of using the produce scale at Safeway had gone beyond whimsy into the planning phase. However, this scale magically appeared while people were cleaning out a supply closet at Liss's school. She saw it and grabbed it, since they were just going to throw it away.

Actually weighing took some prep. In that picture, it looks like it says 24 1/4 pounds, but it really says -3/4. That's because we had to tare it based on what would be on the scale with a baby - a fresh diaper, diaper cover, box to put him in, and (it turned out) diaper to cushion his head. All set, we weighed Bob, who came in at about 10 pounds 2 ounces. He was rather nonplussed about the whole thing. Also note the Hand of Motherly Safety in both pictures.

We'll get to Drew when we can.
You're supposed to trim babies' fingernails so they don't hurt themselves with their flailing arms. We've been too paranoid to trim them, because they're so tiny, and we didn't want to miss and cut the quick. However, when we left Drew's arm out of the swaddle two nights ago, he gave his face a few minor scratches. So, Liss broke down and trimmed their nails. Of their 20 fingers, 19 were successfully trimmed. With the other, our fears were realized, and Drew's left middle finger still has blood from the cut.
Videos of talking babies.
Three months old.
The twins club had their semi-annual sale today, which is basically a huge garage sale of baby/kid stuff. Last time, while Liss was still pregnant, we spent $500 on all kinds of essentials - stroller, car seats, changing table, etc.

This time we were much more subdued at $63, since we had less to get and a better idea of what we actually needed - fall/winter clothes, some age-appropriate toys, lots of the brand of bottle we like, and other small things.

We were also able to score the same kind of hand-crank swing that the boys like - the only one among some 25 swings at the sale, and only five bucks. Now that we have two, they can both swing at once instead of one having to wait for the other. It's one of our best soothing tools, so that was a nice score.

October 4th+

From Liss:
I totally used the carpool lanes on the way back from Whole Foods today. I felt a little guilty, but it's Friday afternoon and traffic is hell, and technically there were three of us.

Here we are in the baked-goods aisle, trying to pick gluten-free cookies for the crusts of the (Canadian) Thanksgiving pies we're making tomorrow.

It's so fun taking the boys on outings; they get so much "OMG Cute!" attention. I just hope they don't get swollen heads about it later.
For the record, the WDoT specifies that any person counts toward headcount for HOV lanes, including a baby.

Also for the record, I was able to tell which twin was which within seconds. Try it. >:-D
We left each boy's right arm free for hand-sucking last night, which is probably helping them stay calm. I'll try to get a picture of it, because it looks hilarious when they synchronize-sleep that way, but the darkness will make it difficult.
They slept through 'til 3:20am again last night, which makes two in a row. A few more and we might call it the new norm.

This was again after a particularly fussy hour+ leading up to bedtime, which begs the question of whether we should be putting them to bed even earlier, like 6pm. That may make us decide if it's worth the lost time with them. As it is, during the work week I see them for an hour in the mornings and two in the evenings. I'm not too keen on lowering that.

Meanwhile, to get them through the night without waking, Liss's book says to start feeding them less when they do wake. Right now they eat as much as they want - maybe 3 1/2 ounces of formula - so we'd stop them at 3 then 2 1/2 then 2 and so on. I thought this was to make waking less worthwhile to them, but she says it's to encourage them to eat more during the day so they don't need food overnight. Regardless, we won't be doing that quite yet.
Bedtime was quite the ordeal Wednesday night, especially for Drew, who was inconsolable for unknown reasons. Eventually we got them to eat and put to bed, and not too much later than usual - maybe 7:45. The really abnormal part was that they didn't wake up for food until 3:22 instead of 1:30-ish. This also pushed back their breakfast until almost 7 instead of a little after 6.

One night doesn't make a correlation, so it's possible that the extra difficulty tired them out, or it might just be a coincidence. As an added variable, we left Bobby's right arm* unswaddled so he could find and suck on it. Perhaps he's normally the 1am instigator but was thus waylayed. The late breakfast thing is looking more like a trend, though, as it's been getting steadily later all week.

We were going to wait until around Thanksgiving to try to get them to sleep through the night, but maybe they'll be ready sometime this month. My dad says they did it by ignoring my wailing all night for three nights, after which I slept 'til morning. There are other theories out there now, but there may be some of that, too. That'll take some willpower, especially on Liss's part - her self-proclaimed "mommy hormones" draw her to a crying baby like a moth to a flame.

* Because Drew sleeps on Bobby's left, so Bobby's flailing right arm won't wake up his brother. It's all about the details.
This might just be the routines talking, but I think it's gotten really easy for us to tell them apart.
Another good thing about having twins is that we can perform our own twin studies. Not sure if a cloth diaper will last overnight? Just cloth one of them. Want to see if they'll still sleep through the night without being swaddled? Just free one. You get the idea.

In theory, we could extend this to just about anything, like leaning them toward opposite colleges, fields of study, or sexual orientations, but we're not that dedicated mean.
Liss joined a summer-babies group that she's attended pretty regularly. Today she took Bobby, whom she put on his tummy and said "Now, he probably won't do it this time ...," at which point he promptly rolled onto his back - much to the shock of the other mothers, who all know not to expect this yet. "Was this his first time?" "No, his fifth."

The best we can tell is that's it's motivated by his hatred of being on his stomach, but they don't need to know that; they can just think that our preemie-cum-savant is developmentally superior to theirs. Yes, we have flashes of being those parents, sorry.
From Liss:
Know what we needed this morning? For the first time in over 12 weeks?

An alarm clock!
The thing is, it's set to when we used to get up before the birth, so we had to cram in what used to be our normal morning stuff along with waking and feeding two babies. In my case, this involved eating a bowl of cereal over a half-asleep Drewbie; if he'd kicked, he'd have been doused. We need more arms.
Both boys are getting better at using their hands for binkies, but it's definitely still in the alpha stage. Hopefully it'll be full-bore by the end of the month or so. We just have to be patient.
Still nothing official, but it looks like we'll try for a third kid starting about a year from now.

Liss had the idea that, if we have a third boy, the three of them could share the master bedroom and we could move into one of the two smaller bedrooms. We don't really use the full space, and this way we wouldn't have to play "who gets his own room."

She thinks she's clever, but if you look under March 22nd, I half-jokingly had this idea back then for just the twins. Looks like she took the bait, if conditionally modified. I want to wake up to that view, darnit.

Of course, if we have a third boy, she might still want a girl and to try for a fourth, in which case we'll probably have twins again and end up with five.

I'm fine with that.
One good thing about having twins first is that we don't know any better. We hear "I can't imagine two!" all the time, but to us it's just how it is. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like if we'd only had one*, and it's certainly a lot easier in my head, but that's because I've been living with the twin reality. Besides, Bobby's a total bonus - a unique person unto himself - and very worth the extra effort.

Once in a while I'll take care of one of them while she's elsewhere with the other, and it's completely manageable, but that's not the same thing as two parents raising one baby. That just sounds like a frickin' breeze.

* Which would have been Drew, except he'd have Bobby's name. Crazy.
I dabbed a touch of peanut butter on my fingertip and put it under Drew's nose. He started sticking out his tongue as though reaching for it.

Not yet, kid. Sorry to tease you like that.
In developing countries, where illiteracy is common, food manufacturers' labels include a picture of what's inside. Canned pears have a picture of pears, pureed beets have a picture of beets, and so on.

Therefore, you can imagine the confusion the Gerber Baby might cause an immigrant.

Speaking of which, the boys will probably get their first try with solid food at Thanksgiving - mashed sweet potatoes.
Halloween is just a few weeks away. I'd soured on it for a few years, but after living in our neighborhood and its high child population, I've enjoyed being the guy answering the door with candy.

With the boys here, people are starting to ask about their costumes. This goes against my whole "let's not add responsibilities to ourselves right now" thing, not to mention that they're in bed by 7:30 as it is. But Liss has an idea that probably won't take too much. We'll see.
Developments are less frequent now - the first few months are new thing after new thing, but it tapers off. By now they're supposed to hit one or two milestones a month instead of five. Between that and the thank-goodness-for-them routines, I'm finding less to write about. I can't imagine much interest in "today they ate, slept, and fussed" over the long haul.

September 27th+

I'm a little bit sick today. This presented a dilemma. Do I: The boys' immune systems aren't mature until their sixth month. I came to work.
Once in a while, as a reminder of how good we have it, we catch up with this blog. This baby was also due in July, but born in April at 1 1/2 pounds. He's still in the NICU, was denied a lung transplant for being too weak, and today has a 10% chance of survival.
We sucked it up and went to bed at 9:30 last night. This may be our new bedtime until they're sleeping through the night. Old and lame, that's us.
Their bedtime involves The Routine, but there's another one for the mornings: change diaper (from disposable to cloth for now), remove Miracle Blanket, put into sleep sack (blue for Bob, white for Drew), feed. We've also found that they get tired again maybe 30 minutes after eating, or at least calm. We're starting to assume this will happen, and plan our own breakfasts and morning hygiene rituals around it, but once in a while one or both get cranky and it bites us in the ass.

Note that we change the diaper with the Miracle Blanket still on, though partially unwrapped. This poses quite a challenge, but not as much as if we did it all the way; their "I'm Free!" flailings would make it like diapering a cat.

"Good Morning" smiles from the boys are nice, though.
Liss is picking up a used crib after school today, which means we won't have to look for one in the midst of the twin club sale next weekend. We won't even assemble it for months, but at least we'll have it ready. It's the kind that converts to a toddler bed later, and maybe a day bed. We figure between that and the crib we're already using, they're set until bunk bed age, around five years.

Meanwhile, we're wondering about possible future-child scenarios. If we have a girl, she'll have her own room, twins' protests be damned. But what about another boy? Maybe we'll rotate who gets his own room every year. What about one boy and one girl? Okay, then we'll be in a pickle.
Today I realized why I'm the best at getting smiles from the boys.

Out of all the people they interact with, I'm the funniest-looking.
We took the boys to an informational street fair for Seattle's light rail, which opens next summer. The station is three blocks from our house; the train will go from downtown to the airport, including the football and baseball stadia. We can't wait.

One of the city workers there to answer questions asked if the boys were identical, then told us about her identical twin cousins. They're 35 and live together. One just got married, and she moved in. The other's still there. Whatever works for people, I guess.
We've moved their crib from our room to theirs, since they're about to outgrow the bassinet they've been sharing. It's a bit of a to-do, since it doesn't just fit through the doorway, so we had to partially dismantle, move, then reassemble it.

September 20th+

Bobby's the star this time.
Drew's newest nicknamey incarnation is Drewbie. It may or may not be to rhyme with Bobby, but it's certainly more fun than just Drew. Drewbie doobie doo! Drewbie Tuesday. How's my little baby Drewbie? It also works as a play on newbie.
Last night was another good night by our standards. It might even be getting to the point where we're taking it for granted. We need to remember that it can be worse, but also that it can get better. We're on this new routine because we were trying new thing after new thing to improve a bad situation, and we're satisfied with the new status quo. However, in a couple of months, we'll want them sleeping through the night, which will mean rocking the boat in an attempt to make a good situation even better. When that time comes, we'll have to get over a fear of it backfiring on us.
We've only discussed parenting philosophy here and there, but there's certainly no shortage of literature on the subject. Our general idea is to let the boys figure out who they are, with our guidance and boundaries. I'll read something like this [warning: some foul language] and wonder if it's the right way or not, but I do know one thing: no matter what we do, someone will think we're terrible parents. Heck, we're already hearing it with the formula feeding and disposable diapers. We're learning to just let it go, which thankfully we're both basically good at.
We've restarted the cloth diaper service. So far it's been much better than when they were too small for the covers. We're using them during the day, and the disposables at night, since they go unchanged for eleven hours or so. One day we'll be brave enough to try cloth overnight, but probably not very soon, and definitely on a weekend.
Except for Sunday, which Drew skipped, the boys have each pooped exactly once a day for eleven days.
Pictures. The pictures have been pretty Drew-heavy lately. He's just more interactive. Bobby will catch up.
Parent of one baby: "Enjoy the first months. It's going to get tougher."

Parent of twins: "Tough it out the first months. It's going to get better."
We used up that breast milk our doula had given us.

Anyone got any lying around they're not planning to use?
I may not be getting the "Daddy's Home!" leg hugs yet, but I could swear they're giving me "Daddy's Home!" smiles when I come home from work. In fact, I seem to be the best at getting smiles out of them in general, for which Liss is faux-jealous.
We've been packing more formula into the same volume of water at night, to get more calories into them and make them sleepy. However, they're not eating much at other times. Babies' bodies regulate intake by volume, so Lissa's theory is that their stomachs are learning that they are getting more with less, so they don't need to eat a lot. In other words, we overdid it. So, we'll only be overloading during the bedtime feeding and otherwise just doing standard concentrations.
The new nighttime routine is pretty standard now. It kinda goes like this: Believe me, this is a vast improvement over a month ago. Simply put, we were doing it wrong by keeping them with us until our bedtime.

The challenge now is getting ready for work (eat, shower, etc.) while they're waking up. That's going to be especially hard if we have to get them ready to take them to day care when the time comes, which is why we're leaning toward having someone come to house instead.
The twins club is having another sale on October 11th. I volunteered last time so Liss could get in early, and we spent over $500. We're not nearly in such need this time, so it's not worth leaving her alone with the boys for a night for me to volunteer again. We'll still go to the sale, though, which means another (shorter) round of sitting down to figure out priorities.
While we were all in the hospital, they drew the boys' blood for various tests. The U of Washington asked Liss if they could use the extra blood for their own tests for a study. Sure.

She just got a call - they're at elevated (3%) genetic(*) risk for juvenile diabetes type one. The U would like to have them in a long-term study of the genetics versus environmental factors. Details are sparse for now, but we'll get literature.

There's lots of auto-immune disease in her family - none in mine. We always joke that they'll have to have one, too. Perhaps this is it, but there's no reason for pessimism.

(*)They probably weren't savvy enough to run the test for only one of them.
Shirley and Amy gave us a date night, which we used for the usual dinner-and-a-movie.

I had an acquaintance a few years back who would sometimes break lulls in conversation by saying, in a quasi-cheesy voice, "So, how about that local sports team?" It kind of stuck with me.

We went to a bar-be-que place for dinner, and got some packets of honey for our cornbread. There was a warning on them, "Do not feed to infants under one year old." People used to dip pacifiers in honey, which is now a no-no, but we still wondered - why not put that warning on everything else? Steak. Coffee. Vodka. Arsenic.

It didn't me long: "So, how about those not-babies?"
The boys are eating less lately, or have at least plateaued. This doesn't help the underweight thing, but it's not like we can force feed them.

September 13th+

During tummy time, Bobby flipped onto his back. No one saw it. This is a four-month skill, but we're not calling Guinness just yet. He doesn't seem to care for tummy time much, so he might have just been particularly agitated rather than doing anything purposeful.
For the record, we've never dressed them alike. We're too paranoid - plus, there's really no reason other than "OMG Cute!" and they accomplish that without the gimmicks.
Their hair is growing, but very slowly. Eventually we'll dye a strip of Bobby's to easily tell them apart, though we'll have to assume it'll end up in his or Drew's mouth, so it has to be some kind of non-toxic dye.
According to the pediatrician, crawling used to be a five-month milestone, but then the Back to Sleep thing started. Now it's an eighth-month thing, since babies get less leg exercise on their backs.
Now that I'm back at work full time, I have less time with the boys. Right now I don't mind it so much, since they're still mostly eat/sleep/fuss, but eventually they'll have interactive personalities, and that'll be harder to be away for.

A side consequence of my return is that I'll have fewer opportunties to take pictures to post here, sorry. I guess I should show Shirley how to use my camera.

I have to admit I'm looking forward to "Daddy's Home!" leg hugs, but I know they're a long way off.
Other twin parents tell horror stories so often that the rest of us are just used to them: TTTS, born way early, months in the NICU, double colic, mom had a bad delivery and/or recovery, etc.

All things considered, we've been really fortunate with these boys. Even though they were early and small, they were healthy enough to spend their birth night with us and come home with us three days later. They don't have colic. They haven't had to go back to the hospital for something not caught earlier. They're hitting two-month milestones at two months despite being a month early. We've taken them in public with their immature immune systems, but they haven't caught anything. Heck, they didn't even get jaundice.

We tend to forget these things during their day to day care, since it's pretty overwhelming even without the extra problems, but once in a while we remind each other that it could be much worse. Bobby's fever last night became one of those reminders - it was a comparatively minor thing, but it still wears you down.
Bobby got a fever in response to the shots, because he was extra toasty and not eating at 1am, six hours after his last feed. Eventually Liss brought him into bed to sleep next to her, which calmed him down enough that we could all go back to sleep. Meanwhile, Drew had a typical night.

It's only one incident, but it may be indicative of their future health. Since Bobby was smaller out of the womb, he may be less developed in ways we don't know yet, and less able to fend off infections or other maladies. Time will tell.
Liss after the ped visit:
The good:
9/1, 1'9" (Bobby)
9/9, 1'9.5" (Drew)
Met all 2-month developmental milestones: smiling, lifting head, looking at people, tracking, responding to noises.
Following growth charts ...

The bad:
... but not exceeding growth charts. So he says they should stay on Neosure. Shots were OK. Pissed them off, but they're over it. 60% chance of fever tonight, should be fine by morning.
So, they'll be on the annoying expensive formula for the foreseeable future. Ugh.

It's a little surprising that they're doing 2-month-old stuff, since they were a month early.
Good news from Tuesday night - they slept from 8pm to 3am, which allowed me to sleep (I went to bed at 9:20 - I'm an old man now). Also, my gravity theory got supporting evidence; Bobby broke his single-feeding record.
I guessed the boys would weigh 9/4 and 9/1 during last Friday's aborted ped visit. They're going Wednesday morning; I'll revise to 9/8 and 9/6.
Shirley (Liss's godmother) has the boys by herself all day for the first time. Heaven help her.
There's an annoying trend that's not going away after a week of the new night routine. The boys will wake up around 1-2am to eat, which is fine, but I can't get back to sleep afterwards. Last night I slept 30 minutes after 2:30am, so now I'm a coffee-fueled zombie.
I have a theory that gravity plays a part in how enthusiastically the boys eat. If there's a lot of food in the bottle, it presents a greater sense of urgency for them, and they run with it. As the bottle winds down, they lose interest; the last third of most bottles takes longer than the first two-thirds.

Tonight, we'll experiment with this by making over-large bottles during the 1am feed.
Sunday night was more like the rest of last week, though perhaps a little fussier.

For a 1am feeding, Liss never woke up, but it was okay; Drew lay there peacefully while I fed Bobby, waiting his turn. Liss fed both of them at 4:30 and I never woke up, so I'm guessing she got similar staggering out of them. It'd be great if that were the norm, since it's not a big deal to feed one then the other, but they don't have that kind of patience. It was just a coincidence.
I'm back to work full time now, and Liss tomorrow except for doctor's appointments and the like, thanks to the arrival of her godmother. We're educating her as best we can before leaving her alone with the boys, but there's a lot of information to absorb. It's basically all second nature to us, because we've lived and breathed it 24/7 for two months, so the challenge is to distill everything down to the important stuff.
Pictures. There are many pictures of the boys asleep. That doesn't mean they sleep all the time - it's just that that's when I have free hands for the camera.
When I took geometry in 9th grade, the first six weeks was a big unit on Logic. One of the basic building blocks of logic is the if/then construct - if x happens, then y will happen. If I feed a baby, then he will pee later.

Just about every time this came up, she'd use the example "If I go to town, then I buy a Coke."* She did it so often that not only do I remember it to this day, but "go to town" triggers the memory. Lately it's happening a lot, because when one of the boys is downing a bottle with enthusiasm, we almost invariably say that's he's going to town on it. So, either mentally or under my breath, I pretty much have to say "and later you'll buy a Coke."

*The converse, "If I buy a Coke, then I went to town," is not necessarily true. You might have just bought one at the 7/11 by your house.
Early this year, Kohl's had an online sale of washcloths for some ridiculous price, like 10 for $4. Since we knew we'd need them when the boys came, I ordered three bundles of ten, but only got one. When I reported the error, they refunded the difference.

I'd rather have those twenty washcloths right now.
People often ask how we tell the boys apart, but it's hard to explain the number one method - routines. Plus, it's a boring answer.

The red toenails and especially the ear flap are just backup systems. Always putting them to bed in the same spots - that's uber-useful.
So much for consistency - after four nights of decent sleep and predictable patterns, Saturday night sucked.

They were nap-sleepy at 5pm, so we tried to keep them awake long enough to feed them and put them down around 7, but by 6 they were puppets without strings - exhausted. So, we did it early. Then they woke up at 10:30, 1:00, 2:45, 4:00, and 6:15. Liss is ... unhappy with them.

Next time we're not going to try to keep them from napping, even if it's just before bedtime, which goes back to the counterintution of "the more they sleep, the more they'll sleep." That theory now has more of our support after last night's debacle.
Current pee-on-one's-own-face count: Drew breaks the shutout!
From Liss:
I got my first drive-by attack on my parenting today. At work, no less. I was sitting in a meeting at the district office, my first time meeting all the other math curriculum people. Bobby was with me, cozy in his sling. I'd chosen a seat off on my own, but was quickly surrounded by people who wanted to sit by the (OMG adorable) Baby.

After a while I pulled out a bottle. Better to wake the baby early than to have him wake up starving and disrupt everybody with his new shrill screams. The woman beside me widened her eyes. "Is that formula?" she asked in horror.


"Shame on you! You know breast-feeding is healthier for babies AND moms? I breast-fed my daughter for four years and she's a very secure person now." (At six.)

Sigh. I shouldn't have to explain myself and my insufficient glandular tissue to anybody. I shouldn't have to feel like I need to tell her how hard I worked in the first month to get the babies at least some of my milk. The guy on my other side came to my rescue, though. "Neither my husband nor I have breasts, so our daughter has never gotten anything but formula. And she's the smartest, healthiest baby you ever saw." Yay!

Besides, I dare you to look at their pictures and tell me formula is making my babies anything less than perfect.
Friday night was the fourth using the earlier bedtime. They seem to consistently wake up for food about six hours after their bedtime feeding, which translates to 1-2am or so, and then again about four hours later. Drew seems to be the one to wake up, then start squirming and waking his brother, so I'm calling him The Instigator. However, it helps keep them on the same schedule, so we're not splitting their beds yet - we'll wait until we think one might sleep all the way through the night.

Unfortunately, I seem to have trouble getting back to sleep after the night feeding; hopefully that'll subside.

September 6th+

No new weights. Liss pulled a boner* and had the wrong appointment time. Rescheduled for Wednesday morning.

*Tee hee.
Impression from a visiting friend:
Even though they were exhausted and stressed, they were obviously partners and very clearly completely in love and happy.
There are some substantial things coming up. Friday is the two-month ped visit, where they'll get (four?) shots as well as being weighed. Drew should be past nine pounds, with Bob right around that. If we had a pool, I'd say 9/4 and 9/1.

We should also get the okay to take them off the high-calorie formula and back to the normal stuff, now that they're not low-weight. Besides being much less expensive, the regular formula is less bubbly, so they get less gassy. This change should also hasten retiring the smallest bottles and breaking out the five-ouncers.

We'll be trying cloth diapers again; the service is bringing them next Friday. The theory is that the diaper covers are no longer too big for them, so they won't leak anymore. We may have to continue to use disposables at night if last night's sleep becomes the norm.

Liss's godmother arrives Sunday afternoon, staying with us for three weeks. Liss is taking off Monday to give her a "crash course," and then it's trial by fire. I return to work full time on Monday.
Why is it called a diaper? Does it diap? When I soak up a spill with a paper towel, am I diaping?
The boys only woke up once in ten hours Tuesday night.

This is one time, so we're not getting our hopes up, but we've been reading up, soliciting advice, trying new things, tweaking the routine, and so on. I'm writing it down so we can refer back to what we did.

We'd already been doing a routine for the last ten days or so: diaper, Miracle Blanket, bottle, burp, put to bed. When we were doing it varied based on their hunger. However, Liss heard something counterintuitive from a few sources - the earlier you put them to bed, the longer they'll sleep. So, instead of 9-ish, we put them down after a 7:30 feeding. Since it was still light out, we moved their bassinet into their room, which has dark curtains. Besides the time, this is another variable we changed, so we can't just say it was the time.

At the time, Bobby was out cold, but Drew was awake. However, he didn't fuss much, but just lay there staring at nothing. This is common, and since he was quiet, he didn't mind it. He fussed for his binky a couple of times ("then keep it in your mouth, doofus!"), but I'd pop it back in and he'd be okay. Around the time we went to bed a little after 10, they both were bawling. We figured this was feeding time, and our experiment was a failure, but after more binky replacement, they went right back to sleep.

They woke up around 1:45, this time for food. At the end, Drew was wide awake again, and again occasionally fussy, but not very vocally so. As happens, I was also wide awake, this time until 4. I checked on them periodically, and he was usually just lying there staring again. Their usual behavior after a night feeding is to lie there and whine for a while, so this was a vast improvement.

A funny side note, when I fed Drew, I thought it was Bobby, and even wrote down his food in Bobby's column. When we moved the bassinet, we changed which side faced which way, and at that wee hour, I got turned around. Liss figured it out.

They were half awake at 6, so we got them up so they'd be ready to go with Liss to work on time. After that feeding, they conked out again. It was eerie.

The best part of the whole thing was that we got to be company for each other for a couple of hours, instead of just Team Baby.

And finally, the Miracle Blanket says not to use it for more than eight hours at a time. We say screw that.
Pictures. These aren't proto-smiles anymore; they're the real deal. They're still pretty rare, though.

And this video is of Drew with a smile halfway through. The wide-eyed look is their usual response to a raspberry - it's even more comical with both of them together.
You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose.

However, should the situation necessitate it, you can pick your infant son's nose.
Liss has small dimples - the one on her left cheek is much more pronounced than the right. It looks like the boys have inherited this. However, since theirs are also small, pictures have been elusive.
While Liss was pregnant, even when we knew it was twins, we deferred the decision to have more babies. Despite everything so far, we're still leaning yes.

Part of that is that Liss wants a girl, but of course there's only a 50/50 chance of that. That doesn't stop us from referring to this mental image of a person with our previously chosen first-girl name - Ellen. We don't have a third-boy name yet, but we retain the short list from before.

If Murphy's Law takes hold, Liss will eventually end up with four boys.

August 30th+

This page hit 10,000 hits Friday night (counter at very bottom), about 6,000 of which have been since the birth.
Pictures. Liss left me alone with the boys Thursday morning - my first time with both for more than a moment or two. Bobby was in quiet alert, while Drew was sleepier (pic, Bobby on right). Note the time says 8:28am. Now, there are several things going on in that picture: This is how I coped. However, the calm lasted about an hour, at which time they both woke up Demanding Food. There are no pictures during that time, because I only have two hands.
Amy changed their clothes while I was away; I was able to tell who was who without the red nail polish. It was a relief.
Thursday night was probably the best night yet that didn't involve someone else watching the babies. We've been trying to get them on a nightly routine; maybe these two things are related, maybe not, but we'll take it.

Eight weeks old today.
After several days of "dieting," Drew ate like a monster on Tuesday. This is probably another growth spurt, hopefully mental.
Liss took both boys to school today. It's amazing how much work I'm getting done - more than at work, actually; there are fewer distractions here at home.
We usually have several kinds of cereal in the house. Lately, I've found myself gravitating toward the ones that stay crunchy in milk, lest a baby take me away from it and I have to return to a pile of mush.
We're doing "divide and conquer" again. In the hour it took to feed Drew and calm him down, I had nine new work e-mails. This doesn't help matters, but I'm keeping my head above water.
People instinctually break down long-term projects into sizable chunks. For my pools site, for example, I had to create a login system, then a page layout and menu system, etc. When doing a jigsaw puzzle, people tend to do the edges first to get their bearings. The examples are endless - each milestone lets you exhale in relief and start fresh on the next step.

I have been very frustrated doing practically nothing but taking care of babies, with still no reward or milestones for our constant efforts other than weight gain, which is hardly engaging. Frustration is one of the feelings I hate most - and I consciously avoid the word "hate."

Put this all together with a three-day weekend of Just Babies, and I lost my temper Monday night. This is a very rare thing. I'm not even sure Liss had ever seen it before; I think I scared her. For the record, I lashed out at "the situation," not her or the boys, and it lasted about two seconds, but still. She theorizes that I'd reached the same point that she does when she starts crying, which is also rare. We just react in different ways.
We're retiring more and more clothes, making a pile to send to the eMoms preemie lending closet. For the smallest stuff, I kind of look at it and go "they were never this tiny ...".

For some things, it's not that their bodies are too big - their heads don't fit through the hole.
We're going to Costco Sunday to get more diapers, even though the boys almost fit the cloth diaper covers, and we have enough disposables for a couple of weeks.

Why the rush? My membership expires at the end of August.

August 23th+

Weights at the ped: Andrew 8/4 and Robert 7/13. Bobby's been eating more, hence gained more; he's closing the gap.

Since they got home, it's taken five hours for me to get a free moment to type this - and that's with Amy here to help.
Pictures with deadpan commentary.
Music seems to soothe the savage beasts.

That's based on sparse data, but I'll be pursuing it further. What is certain is that it's not easy to play the piano while holding a baby.
Just about every piece of educational literature about babies and sleep mentions SIDS. There are tons of dos and don'ts that go along with it, like swaddling, room temperature, air circulation, bedding, crib bumpers, and hundreds of other things. I suspect that most of these supposed risk factors are scientifically tenuous at best, but that's a whole other deal.

When the boys were fresh out of the womb, I checked "to make sure they're alive" about every half hour or so when they were sleeping. I still do it once or twice a day. If nothing else, we get some morbid humor out of it ("Yep! Still alive!").

It's a little paranoid and irrational, but I think if there's one stage in life where someone can get away with that, it's the New Parent stage.
As noted earlier, my boss's boss is in town. He popped by and asked how it was going, to which I responded that I was awake. His reaction tells me that he probably doesn't even know about the boys. So now I think he thinks I'm an idiot.
After a little initial hair growth, it appears to have stopped for now. They just have a light velvety sheen of head hair. This baldness makes it easier to see how they resemble certain male elders.

Even when it does come in, it's going to be very fine and very light blonde, if Liss's and my baby pictures are any indication.
Liss kind of has a raw deal this week. Since I've had to go to work instead of doing so from home, she's had to take care of both boys. However, she's also had to go to work for lots of meetings and prep work, so she's been taking them with her. Once she gets there, it's not so bad, since the car trip conks them out. Plus, it's an elementary school; there's no shortage of doting women who are more than happy to hold a baby (as long as he's calm).

The bad part is when we're getting ready in the morning. The boys don't care that we need to eat breakfast, shower, get dressed, get our lunch, etc, etc. And when they want something they want it right now or we'll hear about it. And Hear About It. AND HEAR ABOUT IT. You get the idea.

All of this is leaning her toward - when the time comes - hiring someone who comes to the house in the morning, rather than taking them to a day care.

Next week I'll be at home most of the time, and then her godmother comes for a while, then her mother. So, things will improve soon.
Bobby is going to the ped Friday for a followup to his reflux visit. While he's there, he'll get weighed. Liss will take Drew along to try to sneak him onto the scale, as well. I'm hoping for 8/6 and 7/8.
Meta-note for the people using Firefox - external links should now be in white, and internal in green.
We've spent about $500 on formula in the last six weeks, thanks to the need to use the more expensive, higher-calorie stuff. In a month or so, we should be able to start using normal formula again, which is much cheaper.

If Obama is elected, will we be able to write off the formula under the We Wanted To Breastfeed But Couldn't Act?
Drew has had at least one four-hour stretch of sleep for a few nights now, but also a two-hour stretch of evening fussiness. The latter isn't quite the definition of colic yet, but it's still unpleasant. I suppose that's the karmic tradeoff for the longer sleep.
This thing's getting over 100 hits a day now.

Who the hell are you people?
At what point in our lives does it become rude to poop while eating*? Because that's one of the few skills these guys really have down.

* Or, perhaps, eat while pooping.
Follow, if you will, this chain of events from 5:30am:
  1. Pick up Bobby to feed, but will change him first to wake him up a little.
  2. Unwrap Miracle Blanket, unsnap onesie, remove diaper and toss in trash. He's wailing.
  3. Baby fountain-pees all over his onesie, stomach and legs.
  4. Remove blanket so I can remove wet onesie, partially replace with dry onesie. Dry stomach and legs.
  5. Baby fountain-pees again, this time on my shirt and again on his legs. Dry legs. Put on new diaper - quickly.
  6. Feed baby (he stops wailing), swaddle, put back into bassinet.
  7. Change my shirt.
Note that part 6 takes about 40 minutes.
We think Drew has some constipation, so we thawed out some of that breast milk the doula brought us and fed it to him. He downed it like candy, but still no poop 12 hours later. Meanwhile, we're one step closer to being less freaked out about having the milk of some woman we've never met sitting in our fridge. Not helping: it's dated April.

Speaking of downing, Drew had his first taste of something other than formula or milk last night, as well - I bit a grape and let him mouth it [video]. He really seemed to like it.
Liss took Andrew to school today, and left me here with Bobby.

Divide and conquer? Perhaps - but they may be thinking the same thing.
It seems that some people (relatives) are using pictures I'm posting to have prints made. That's fine, but what I post is greatly reduced in quality to fit computer screens. If you want to make anything beyond about a 4x6, mail me and I'll send you the big original.
Here is a good read on pacifiers, mostly for our own future reference. We're probably overusing them for now, but we have time. The whole "don't use them - they'll need braces!" thing seems overblown from what I'm reading, so that's a relief. Besides, as Liss's mother says, "orthodontia is cheaper than therapy."
We've been using Miracle Blankets (thanks for the new pair, Shawna) on both boys for two nights now; we'd tried them before with some success, but for some reason they seem to take to them better now. They're sleeping for longer stretches - four hours in a couple of cases.

We're also very likely to skip a diaper change during one nighttime feeding, after making sure they're not wallowing in their own poop. All that undressing and nakedness usually wakes them up and makes them fussy. The blankets make it so they wake up just enough to eat and burp, then more or less fall back asleep before we even put them down. If we keep it up, they should also help signal "bedtime" to their brains as part of that routine, which we're still trying to establish.

Also, Bobby's been doing the fetal limb cramp thing less, which is another sign of developmental progress.

But I still feel dumb reading out loud to them.
There have been two three-hour+ stretches between feedings today. I'm really hoping that's a trend ... and that I'm not jinxing it.
A scene like this takes a surprising amount of work. By the time they hit this stage, they've gone through "the cycle" - awakened, changed, fed, burped, calmed, swaddled, and pacified. Each of those takes time, such that the whole shebang takes anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours for each baby, mostly depending on the "calmed" and "pacified" stages. It should be no wonder that we try to keep them on the same schedule. If we (and they) do it right, we might get a two-hour block where they're both asleep.

Then, however, we have other decisions to make. We could take care of: There's also a quiet alert stage (see video three sections down), which is when you're supposed to play with them. That's when their brains develop the most, you see.

When we choose anything other than baby stuff when they're asleep, we feel a little guilt, but not too much. But we often leave them to their own devices during quiet alert, which is when we really can feel like we're horrible parents. The truth is, we only have so much baby-energy, and most of it is spent on things they think they need right this second - the aforementioned cycle and auxiliary baby stuff.

I know there are parents out there who somehow have limitless energy to devote to their children, but apparently we are not those kinds of people. We need to eat, too, dangit.

Hopefully that'll shift a little when we get feedback mechanisms - smiles, eye contact, etc. If it seems we're obsessing about that, it's because we are.
We've started swaddling Drew again. It works again - usually. My theory is that he was fighting it when we had higher temperatures those couple of weeks ago.
My boss's boss is coming up from California the last three days of the week. I figure I should be there so he doesn't ask awkward questions about my working from home. It's all approved by my boss and HR, but better to be safe. Unfortunately for Liss, with my usual Monday appearance, I'll be there four days this week.
Saturday presented a rare window, where both boys were alert during the daytime, but not fussy. It lasted about 20 minutes. Here's video evidence. Note the flailing of limbs, which is very typical. They don't know their limbs belong to them yet, let alone that they can control them. That's another reason for swaddling - to prevent accidentally bonking themselves and waking up, or from pulling out a pacifier. And here's a picture of same. I'm leaving the "which is which" game to the reader. :-D

Then Later, they were both asleep, which isn't rare, but needs to be less so. I especially like how Drew's feet stick out. Now, one might like to see my hand to show scale, but I prefer something a little more standard.

And finally, a new burping and/or sleeping position for Bobby, on my leg. Personally, I think he looks like this guy in that picture. And by the way, pictures of me in here will be few and far between - consider yourselves fortunate.

August 16th+

From Liss:
I got baby poop all down my jeans today.
At the zoo, where I couldn't do a thing about it.
And I didn't really even care.

Guess I'm a mom now.
A delivery guy just dropped off flowers for "Andrew and Robert." He probably thought I was one, and my partner the other.
Not appropos of the boys, my annual NFL Confidence Pick 'Em pool is now open for people to join in. There's a free version for those who don't want to pay the $51 to enter the for-money pool.
Something "they" tell you about calming fussy babies is to beware overusing any one method, lest the baby become dependent on it to be calmed at all. We've been overly cautious about this - we were almost never using our swing, the dryer, or even ourselves as soothing mechanisms. Now that we've entered this fussy stage, we're turning to these things quite a bit more, though with an eye on not overdoing them.
Amy came over to let us go out and then sleep awhile. It's these gestures and donations of practical help that are the best gifts we can get right now (short of college scholarships).

Liss and our friend Janna are currently on their way to Tacoma with the boys. It's Liss's theory that they sleep better at night if they've been out during the day. I guess that's true, but it also means I can concentrate on work for a while - though half the time I just end up napping instead.
From Liss, with my additions in [these things]:
I don't have postpartum depression. I feel surprisingly functional and competent, given the lack of sleep, I'm not withdrawn, I eat fine when I have both food and time, and I sleep great when the boys allow it. I'm getting out of the house almost every day. I don't have the attention for books, but I'm getting through a lot of magazines and should consider graduating to short stories. There's nothing wrong with my sex drive, though I don't know how anyone manages to have "Irish twins."

But I'm not exactly perky. I'm exhausted, I cry a lot more than ever before, I worry about the babies and whether they're healthy and wonder if we're doing things right. I'm lonely. Weird as it may sound, I miss James--even though we're together almost all the time. I feel more like part of Team Baby than anybody's wife.

I thought the first couple of weeks would be the hardest because that's when we'd be getting used to the babies and that's when I was physically fragile. I was wrong. Now we're used to the caretaking role, but the boys are getting more demanding. They're awake more, wanting attention but not yet able to interact much. We're probably on the brink of smiles and real eye contact, but we're not there yet. They're eating more, but not much more at once, so the eat/burp/diaper/fuss/sleep cycle is still only about 2.5 hours[, 24/7]. And a couple times a day [or night], the sleep part never comes, with the fussing fillng in. It's hard to stay motivated.

The second month is supposed to be the fussiest. It better be, because if this lasts much longer we'll go insane. [Question is - is this the second month, or the adjusted first month?]
Their food graph isn't terribly exciting, but there's a new trend. Bobby is now eating more than Drew. Maybe that means he'll catch up.

(Each tic is a four-day average daily intake)
It's never fun to see your wife cry. It's especially hard when you can't do anything about it.
For 40 days and 40 nights, Noah and his family fought the ravages of God's watery wrath while tending to two of every animal.

For 40 days and 40 nights, we've tended to the boys.

Noah was a wuss.

And where's my olive leaf?
Liss took the boys to school today, to get everybody used to them before she tries to do so on the clock on a regular basis.

This is the product of my idle hands.
Bobby had been showing symptoms of increased acid reflux, so Liss took him in Tuesday. They couldn't find anything particularly wrong, so it's either still a mild case, random fussiness ... or perhaps the start of colic.

While they were there, he weighed in at 6/15. He's gained nearly a pound in 11 days. If Drew did the same (we stayed home), he'll be around 7/12.
Eat, sleep, fuss, excrete!
Lather, rinse, repeat!

... sounds like one of those cheers we did at high school football games.
I've given both of them the nickname "Little Dude."
I've realized that I'm not nearly as demonstrative* with the boys when we have company. I guess I'm too self-conscious about it.

* Cutesy.
Earlier I showed this picture of Bobby in the position of a fetus in breech (feet down). As a good little liberal, I felt guilty for not presenting the opposing viewpoint, so here's another picture, this time vertex (head down).

Fair and balanced.

August 9th+

I've been trying to apply this theory [video] about telling what different baby cries mean. Success has been limited, but it's mostly got merit. When they start fussing, the sounds in the video are the first thing I'm listening for, and I'm getting to be right more often than not.

The funny thing is, she sells the information from that five minute video in a two-DVD set that runs maybe an hour between them, for a cool $35. It's clear (to me) that this was one of those cases of a person/publisher trying to squeeze every dollar they could out of an idea, and perhaps no market is riper for plucking than "insecure new parent." I don't begrudge her getting rich from her apparently useful research; I just find the way it's done to be tacky.
Our doula has another client, who was producing too much breast milk.

The surplus is sitting in our freezer, waiting for us to have the guts to do something with it.
Depending on whose definition you're using, the boys might now be considered infants instead of newborns.
The boys have Social Security numbers.

They are now officialy tools of The Man.
Since I don't want no wussies, I'll be buyin' this soon.
It's almost 7pm Thursday. I'm writing this from our bedroom, where we've been for the last five hours. At first, it was to avoid the guy cleaning our carpets (we still haven't seen Andi since he left), but we're loathe to leave, since it's 80 in the house again. The bedroom has a window A/C unit, so we may be in here for a while. We're considering ordering a pizza to eat in here.

The next few days are supposed to be much warmer.
Speaking of the next few days, Liss's parents, aunt and uncle will be here all weekend. We're hoping to take over one of their hotel rooms for the air conditioning, but probably need to be subtle about it - like somehow making it seem like their idea. It's their first time meeting the boys, so we may be able to get away with it in their baby stupor.

Sometimes, while lying on my chest, the boys will mouth near my nipplar area by instinct.

So far, I have resisted following the lead of Family Guy.
We're experimenting with not swaddling Andrew anymore, since he would often fight it hard - especially at night, which then wakes him up. The swaddle is ingrained as a must for 0-3 months, and lots of parents do it well beyond that.

The first night went fine. The only thing that seemed to bother him was being a little colder, which was easy enough to fix.
We had the second-youngest babies at the first-years multiples meeting. There was a couple there with three-weekers, whom she'd carried to 39 weeks(!).

Some of the older babies were 10, 12, 15 pounds. They looked freakin' huge to us.
There's a joke in the movie Contact that goes "First Rule of Government Spending: Why build one when you can have two at twice the price?"

Getting two babies out of one pregnancy is efficient. You also have a DNA/blood type/organ match, and a built-in playmate.

The rest of it is building two at twice the price.
I'm starting to think that if someone's on the fence about having kids and reads this page, it might push them toward not having them.

If that's the case: good. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who doesn't really, really want them.
I know it's only been two weeks, but I already wonder if this whole "whoa, I'm a dad - how the hell did that happen?" feeling will ever wear off?
It's been two more weeks since I wrote that, and it's worn off. Sometimes it feels like all I am is a dad.
Human babies need to evolve three new mechanisms, ready to go out of the womb:

1. A way of telling what they want. Apparently a parent is supposed to be able to differentiate among cries after a week or so, but we surely can't. What they need is to hold up tiny signs like "food" or "diaper." Hand signals would be fine.

2. A snooze button. We might know what the problem is (hungry), and are actively working to fix it (making a bottle), but that doesn't stop the kid from SCREAMING into your ear while you do it. A snooze button of even one minute would be most welcome.

3. An off switch - or really, a sleep switch. I'd like this one for myself, as well.
I just don't understand the evolutionary advantage of a newborn's tendency to wake up his parents all night long. Wouldn't that make the parents less able to hunt and gather effectively the next day, and thus less able to provide sustinence?
One month old.
Sunday night was pretty bad. Bobby only slept one hour between 11pm to 4am.

Monday morning our doula said that it might be the beginning of a month of similar - when mom's sleep hormones are done being flushed out, but before their own take hold.

Liss and I have spent about 30 hours apart in the last month. Most of the month has been in the trenches, as I call it.

This is what turns weaker couples into headline news.
We were asked to update the registry; I've moved it to a Wish List on Amazon.
They're both getting more adept at passing gas.

Monday night is the monthly meeting of expecting and first-year multiples. We missed last month, being in the hospital and all. This time we'll have a pair of babies, which means we probably won't stay long.
I'm putting out the word to see if anyone wants to take my two younger cats. They need to be indoor/outdoor somewhere.
Saturday was their due date, August 9th. That is, if they had only been one, we'd be having him right about now.

It's also Day Zero for adjusted age. We can't assume that, say, a six-week skill is going to come at six weeks from their birth; it might come six weeks after Day Zero. Plus, "six weeks" would just be an average, with nine weeks still normal, so they might not hit this hypothetical skill until they're thirteen weeks old.

However, while they still haven't reached some few-week milestones, they're doing a few more advanced things. Andrew started (limited) self-burping recently, which is a three-month skill. They've both been able to roll from side to side for weeks. They can keep their heads upright longer and longer. They're also fighting being swaddled, which isn't supposed to happen yet, and is a major source of fussiness these days.
They both broke their food record by 10% Saturday, and are continuing the pace Sunday (especially Bobby). Perhaps this is a growth spurt, which is fine, but to us it also means they're being high[er] maintenance.

We're going to try moving them away from the premiee to the newborn nipples. We've already retired a few of the premiee clothes for being too small.
Two of the challenges of getting new entries into this thing are that many ideas happen with both hands dealing with a baby and/or at the wee hours of the morning. By the time I can actually sit down at the computer, the thought is gone.
Current pee-on-one's-own-face count: We may have to declare an early champion.

August 2nd+

Fifteen days ago, they weighed 5/3 (A) and 4/10 (R). Today, they're up to 6/13 and 6/0! Huge babies!

Doc said that if they were that weight while newborn ("due date" is Saturday), 6/13 would be in the 30th percentile for all babies. Not bad.

Barring something unforeseen, no more visits (and therefore weigh-ins) for a month.
I haven't been writing much this week, because there's not much to say. "Today they ate, slept, pooped, and fussed." They just don't do much yet.

The same goes for pictures - "Here they are lying around. Here they are sleeping." - but here are a few.

The cloth diaper versus disposable debate envokes rage on both sides. Twin parents sometimes get a pass to use disposables, but not from everyone.

However, one of the major arguments is cost, but they don't include "cost." It's easy to break purchase price down to the per-diaper level, but not so much the other costs, such as electricity for washing, tax dollars toward a landfill, etc.

In our case, we have about a 1 in 3 failure rate - leakage - with cloth. Maybe it's because they're still relatively small babies. Maybe we're installing them incorrectly. Maybe we just have bad diaper covers. We're trying to troubleshoot, but no conclusion is jumping out at us. Meanwhile, those leaks add to the "cost" of cloth. We have to change them more often, which takes valuable time. Changing them may make them fussy when they were calm. Also, when changing a leaky diaper, you normally have to change their clothing and blanket, which is then added to the laundry prematurely. Last night I had to add my soaked jeans.

More than those things, it just adds to our aggravation. Our free time - when neither baby is fussy - is rare and precious these days, and leaks take away from that.

The disposables' failure rate is zero. That difference is tipping the scales in their favor. We've been doing cloth by day and disposables at night (because of cloth's leakage), but cloth may have a short life span in this house.
"Is the temperature of the bottle to your liking, Your Majesty? Is the concentration of formula correct? Does the angle at which I'm holding the bottle meet with your exacting standards?"

Me to Andrew, who's not in my good graces at the moment.
It's supposed to hit 83 Monday and 89 Tuesday. We'll see how the boys react with their new fat - especially if we try to swaddle them.
We think they're making some eye contact, but it's hard to tell. They might just be moving their eyes in the direction of our voices; sometimes it looks like they're looking at our mouths instead.

When that gets more obvious, we'll face them toward each other to help their brother-awareness. We tried this last week - with Drew on his back in the crib, and me holding Bobby over him, facing down. About two seconds after I was done and started moving him away, he threw up.
A year ago, we were on our way to Beijing.

It was okay, but I wish I had that $6000 back.
Sunday night, we received the gift of sleep from our friends Sarah and Ash. They stayed overnight until the doula arrived at 7am. I got up once - to pee.

They hadn't seen the boys for a week, and quickly remarked at how much bigger they are.
Apparently, having friends bring us chili is not without its dangers.
An online acquaintance tested the car seat for his imminent kid - on his cat.

We did not do this.
It's hard to notice day to day changes, especially when you see someone constantly, but it's evident to us that the boys are getting pudgy. Here is Bobby's chin. And here is Mom holding Drewboy; note his feet and arm fat.

They've basically been eating McDonald's five times a day for two+ weeks.

The next ped visit and weigh-in is Thursday. I was thinking before that maybe we'd see Drew at 6 lbs. and Bobby at 5 1/2, but now I don't know what to expect.
Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers.

Fussy Baby Bobby Munger.

July 26th+

The Blue Angels are practicing for this weekend's show. As far as we can tell, their loud engines are white noise to the boys, which newborns find soothing. A couple of times, a flyover has moved one from sleepy to asleep.
I cut off Drew's anklet last night. I hadn't looked at it in two days, at which time I could still spin it around his ankle. I couldn't last night, so off it went, along with it one way to tell them apart.

This morning, I noticed some definite chubbiness in Bobby's face.

Our little boys are growing up.
August 1st.

In a parallel universe - one where Liss's body goes the distance - she would be having the scheduled c-section today, and the boys wouldn't be three weeks old. In the long term, it doesn't make much difference, but it's an interesting thought experiment as to how our July and August would have been different.
"Your milk will come in."

We heard this over and over again before and after the birth. She's done everything she's supposed to - regular pumping, supplements, massage, skin time, etc. - and nothing. Well, not nothing, but not nearly enough for one meal a day, let alone to sustain two growing babies.

We weren't planning to spend $8-10 a day on formula, but here we are. That's only for a couple of months, though, while they're on the high-calorie stuff. The normal formula is much cheaper.

Meanwhile, however, they're not getting her immune system help, so that may delay when we can take them out in public.
The whole concept of adjusted age skews everything. Since the boys were born a month early, it's reasonable to assume that the 6-8 week milestones (smiles, coos, eye contact) won't come until 6-8 weeks after their actual due date of August 9th - that is, when they're 10-12 weeks old.

I really hope that's not the case. One big ray of light is that they never went to the NICU despite being early. So, their age adjustment might not be four weeks - but for now, we have to assume it is.
Despite the cute pictures and dry humor of this page, this month hasn't been all peaches and cinnamon.

First and foremost, the boys seem to have become noctural. They'll sleep most of the day away, and then be awake and alert most of the night. Meanwhile, all we want to do is sleep. I think our best night since they were born is five hours of sleep, with three-four being typical, and two last night. Since we have no desire to become noctural ourselves, Liss is reading up on how to get them sleeping when we want them to. Of course, most of the advice starts with "this won't work on newborns."

I've never seen Liss snippier. Or maybe myself. Already, the number one consideration I tell people who want to have kids is "make sure you have a solid marriage* first." We do, but I can definitely see how all this new stress can break a marriage.

* Or whatever.
This picture reminds me of this.
Bobby has his red nail polish now. The procedure was slightly traumatic for him; perhaps he'd prefer a nice fuschia.
In our ongoing drive to become terrible parents (disposable diapers! formula! Mariners games!), we've introduced them to pacifiers, with limited success.
Tuesday night was an example of why parents put whiskey in baby bottles.
Current pee-on-one's-own-face count:
Liss delights in telling people that the hospital's records system doesn't say the boys are 18.5" or whatever, but 1'6.5".
Monday I went to work. It was exhausting. Besides the baby-related sleep deprivation (woke up at 4), I've only been working part time from home, so I had a lot of catching up to do. When I got home, all I wanted to do was sleep, but I was too tired to do so. No, really.
Last night we fed each baby twice while thinking he was his brother.

Amy bought the boys a blue and a brown hat, because we're having trouble finding hats that fit. For a few days last week, we had Drew in the brown one and Bob in the blue. Last night, she came over to help us get some sleep, during which time she switched them back to her hats, except backwards from what we were used to (how would she know?).

So there I was at 4:30am, having fed "Bobby" for half an hour, when I realized he had his anklet on. Bobby's anklet came off days ago.

Time to break out the red nail polish.
I'm going into work Monday, as a trial run for Liss to have the boys by herself, though the doula will be here until 11am. If it goes well, I might do it a little more. The idea is to preserve my time off for when they're a little higher maintenance during the day, a few weeks from now.
Each day is going by pretty quickly, but collectively it's the opposite. Liss gave birth just 16 days ago, but it feels like a distant memory - to me, at least.

The average baby ages of the first real milestones - facial recognition, eye contact, sleeping through the night, etc. - seem very far away. Until then, they're like cute little hairless chimps that somehow look like us, and are anything from endearing to annoyingly whiny.
It's amazing how much minutiae is out there for babies. They've both been having trouble keeping formula from spilling out of the corners of their mouths - especially Bobby - so I went to Babies R Us to find new bottle nipples. There were probably 100 different kinds to choose from. Fortunately, there was a preemie size for the bottles we have, and initial tests are positive.
Saturday night was pretty bad for the first few hours - frustration coupled with sleep deprivation.

July 19th+

More multimedial fun:
I know it's only been two weeks, but I already wonder if this whole "whoa, I'm a dad - how the hell did that happen?" feeling will ever wear off?
We're already burned through half our doula budget. Starting next week, she'll taper down to three days a week, four hours a day, which will last us three more weeks. That'll probably be fine, but it's too early to tell.
We've been relying on temporary differences to tell the boys apart: hats, weight difference, hospital anklets (we cut Bob's off this morning).

Now, we think we've found a permanent physical difference: ears. The top of Drew's ears have a much larger flap. This is true on both ears.

Later they'll develop different moles and such, but this is the best we have so far.
Plane instructions say "Place your oxygen mask over your nose and mouth before assisting small children."

Shouldn't the same apply to lunch?
New video of Bobby "dancing" in deep sleep.

UPDATE: Our friend Keren added music.
The hospital has a computer network that - in theory - allows one worker to enter some data, which others can then bring up for later use. Therefore, it's very odd to us that both today's nurse and pediatrician asked us questions that have been entered by others in the past: birth weights, discharge weights, and weights during their last visit. I know all of these were put into their system by somebody, because we have a printout of it, yet they both had to ask. The nurse typed our answers as we were giving them, then the ped asked them again ten minutes later.

In addition, they asked how much they're eating a day, how often they eat, how often they poop, etc. All the while, they were typing our answers into the computer, as though it were useful. Perhaps it is, but not in any way I can see, given the repetitiveness of the questions.

Inefficiency chafes my brain.
Good news from the ped visit - their weights are 5/3 (A) and 4/10 (R), up from 4/11 and 4/1 a week ago. They're also taller - 18.5" and 17.75". Everything else looks good.

They're in the 1-2% bracket for size for their age. That's to be expected, being so early and all. Hopefully they'll start comparing to adjusted age once they hit their due date of August 9th, but they'll probably still run small. I believe was under the 10th percentile for most of my childhood.
I just peed while carrying Drew in a sling in front of me.

I consider this a major accomplishment.
Pediatrician visit Wednesday afternoon. The weigh-in will have a similar hype to that of a heavyweight boxing match.
Tuesday is our two-year anniversary. Amy has offered to watch the boys while we go to dinner-and-a-movie. That's fitting, since it aptly describes much of our courtship.
A few pics during relaxation time:
Monday was their first bath, which wasn't too bad, but probably a two-person job, only because you can't leave one baby lying in the tub if the other suddenly needs attention. The washcloths on their stomachs aren't for modesty; they're comforting, since they help prevent cold from all the evaporation.
Reading online pregnancy/parenting communities, it's clear that there are two strong beliefs among many people: doctors don't know shit, and nothing could ever happen to me or my baby.
Our houseboy Uncle Douglas left this morning. Amy's coming over tonight. The doula starts up again tomorrow (she was out of town).

Eventually, we're going to have to have a long period with just us. That's going to suck. But at some point in August I'm going to have to go back to work. That's really going to suck for her.
Before the birth, we were told that most twins can sleep next to each other, and there's no real danger of them waking each other up with crying. Here is some proof of concept.

Usually one would not do something like this until the third kid or so. That puts me ahead of the curve, right? Besides, we live in a townhouse - it's all about the staircase efficiency.

And a couple of facial expressions:
Pease porridge hot
Pease porridge cold
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old
Every time we've taken the boys for a checkup, they've asked about their food intake. We've had to be pretty vague about it, so we started keeping track on a notepad. I've made a little spreadsheet to create graphs that we can print out and take to future checkups.

Of course, if breastfeeding takes hold, that'll be moot. It's not like breasts come with tic marks for volume.

Geeky parents R us.
They both get the hiccups a few times a day. It's disturbing, mostly because we can't do anything about it, and it keeps them awake.
A couple of random pictures:
* We both thought it was Drew until we reviewed other pictures in the series.
The cats have been understandably curious about the boys, but there have been no incidents. Here is Grace (held in my arms) checking out Bobby, and Andi watching over, um, Andy.
There's a temporary rule in our house that, if you're here, you're helping. The last thing we need is to play host and drain our baby-caring energy.
Liss's brother Douglas is here for a few days, obstentiably to meet the boys and offer help. However, he's also on a not-so-subtle scouting mission on behalf of the grandparents.

He's the only blood sibling of either of us, though, and therefore the only potential source of first cousins for the boys. So, he gets extra slack.
Our main way of telling the boys apart? Hats.

Originally we were going to put red nail polish on Robert's toe, but that presents two problems. One, they're normally swaddled, so their feet are hidden. But the real reason is that the brush is much bigger than his toenail.

They still have their hospital anklets on, which will stay there as long as we can keep them.
When preparing for the boys, one of the top things the other parents would tell us was to get them on the same sleep/feed schedule. Word around that campfire is that it's easier with identicals. Apparently, we're one more piece of anecdotal evidence for that - it took them about two days to get 15 minutes apart. When one of us gets up to feed one, the other finishes up what they're doing and gets ready for the other to get fussy for food.
We have a chart for keeping track of our children's bowel movements.

You heard me.
The new formula has its advantages and disadvantages. They eat more in a sitting, but apparently too quickly, because they're spitting up more and even throwing up. However, that may be because the pre-fab bottles the hospital gave us have higher-flow nipples, so we'll experiment with that Saturday and see what happens.

They also only woke up once in the middle of the night, which may or may not be another consequence of the formula.

They both have a minor habit of grazing - that is, they'll eat a fair amount and stop, then we'll change them, re-swaddle them, and put them down - and then five minutes later they want more food. But then they only take a tiny bit, we put them back down ... and they wake up again wanting a little more. It plays hell with our sleep.

July 12th+

Nothing comes close to zonking these guys out like a ride in the car seats. It turns them into marionettes with no strings. However, this video represents the "before."
We just got back from a lactation consult. Her milk still hasn't come in, but there's been some hope with steady colostrum.

Since we were there, we weighed the boys, and they were 4/11 and 4/1. The clinic from Wednesday uses those old school scales, so the consultant was skeptical of the 4/8 Andrew showed then.

Either way, they're not gaining enough, so they gave us some formula with higher calorie content and a few tips for helping them feed more efficiently. Weight gain is now priority one.
After the consultation, Liss went to the restroom while I waited in the hall with the boys. All four people who walked by stopped to comment and coo.

It begins!
Liss says "she was right." About what, you ask? About the fact that since I dote over the cats, that I'd be a doting father, as well.

I have no idea what she's talking about.
All my life, I've heard that babies wake up for frequent feedings: 12:30, 2, 4:30, etc. What they didn't say was that each feeding takes at least 45 minutes. It's not just the food, it's changing a diaper and maybe their bedding and clothing. No wonder I'm writing this at 4:15am - my sleep schedule's all screwy.
Their first pediatrician visit was Wednesday. Their weights are 4/8 and 4/1, which isn't of concern yet, but they should be gaining soon.

Otherwise, they're doing fine. Next appointment is the 22nd.
Remember those Play-Doh Barber Shop commercials, where you'd put in the Doh, press a plunger, and Doh came out of the little guys' heads?

That's what the act of baby pooping looks like.
Tuesday night presented a great photo op, without a camera handy. While I was attending to Bobby in the crib, bent forward, Grace the cat jumped onto my back from the bed. She's done that many times over the years, mostly when she's feeling upset and/or clingy.

So imagine the image of me, at 4am, bent over a naked baby in a crib, with a cat on my back meowing in my ear.
We'd decided to name the boys Robert and Andrew a long time ago. Our plan was to decide which twin was which after they were born. At first, I was leaning toward A=Robert B=Andrew, but by the time they were a day old, I'd switched them. Liss came to the same conclusion without me, so it was easy.

Robert is the name of both of our fathers, and also my dad's dad. The newest Robert is well named - of the twins, he's the calmer, more mild-mannered one. Just like his namesakes.

I've been calling him Bobby, which goes against the Robbie we'd settled on earlier. It's too close to Bob for her taste, which is what our dads go by. But for some reason Robbie just seems weird to me.

Andrew is either that or Drew, but not Andy, because we have a cat named Andi, for Andrea.

July 11th - 35 weeks, 6 days

So, the birth story. I use A&B because we hadn't assigned them their names yet.

Liss had an OB appointment Thursday, during which they took blood for some routine tests. Her blood pressure had also been up a little bit, but not to red-line levels yet.

Early Friday afternoon, he called to tell her the bloodwork came back with worrisome numbers showing elevated risk for preeclampsia. He asked that she come back in for a repeat of the bloodwork and a non-stress test, specifically laying out the what-ifs: if the blood and BP were the same, they'd probably come out Saturday; if they were worse, they'd come out that night by c-section.

A fun side note - I didn't know any of this until I called from work for the heck of it around 3pm. I sent a couple of quick e-mails and left. Meanwhile, she'd spent the last couple of hours kind of freaking out.

After I got home, rather than go to the hospital immediately, we spent a few hours together on the couch - our last time as non-parents.

With the reasonable chance of birth that evening, we packed our stuff into the car. Since this was eight days before babies are considered full term (37 weeks), and they had been measuring small, we erred on the side of caution and assumed they would be born that night and have to spend two weeks in the NICU.

Triage was full, so we were put into a private birthing suite, and she was hooked up to the BP monitor and had her blood drawn. About an hour later, the OB on call came back with the news - all of the results were worse, and they were going to get the boys out as soon as they could. This was around 10:30pm.

I went outside to call our relatives, though I got my parents' machines. I wonder if they've erased those messages yet? :-D I also called in Amy, who was to be our labor support person - only without the labor. While we waited for Lissa to be prepped, Amy and I decided that 7/11 would be a cooler birthday than 7/12.

By around 11:30, everything was ready and I was getting led to the OR. She'd already had her epidural and was pretty out of it. Her main freakout was that she was having trouble controlling her breathing, but the sensations of pressure and movement in her uterus were a close second. My job, basically, was to hold her hand and stroke her hair.

A few minutes later (23:37), the anesthesiologist peeked over the curtain to see how things were progressing, just as they were pulling out Mr. A. Some seconds later, we heard a healthy cry as they moved him to an observation table. Not long after (23:38), they pulled out Mr. B, with more crying.

A few weeks beforehand, a radiologist said that there might be two placentas instead of one, which would have meant either identical or fraternal twins. The OB performing the c-section reported one placenta, so we knew right away that they're identical.

A few minutes after the births, I left Liss to see the boys, where I got this rather disturbing picture of Mr. B being taken to his table. Note the (normal) white stuff on him. This is maybe a minute later, being given a once-over.

Their Apgar scores, out of 9, at 1 and 5 minutes:
Baby 1min 5min
A 8 9
B 9 9

Despite their good scores, because they were preterm (before 37 weeks) and of low-ish birth weights, they were taken up to the NICU for observation. I went with them, and Amy met us there. Here they are soon after their arrival. The thing where the umbilical cord used to be is a clamp that keeps it shut. As he was being put on this table, Mr. B did something a premie isn't supposed to be able to - he lifted his head off the table. That was especially surprising coming from the smaller twin - the nurse was nearly startled. He also sucked on my finger, but that's something he'd been practicing on his own fingers for weeks.

After looking for bad signs (such as turning blue) and not getting any from either twin on that table, they were moved to separate tables to check body temperature, blood pressure, and so on. I stayed with Mr. B at first, and Amy with Mr. A, and we'd switch every once in a while. However, we weren't there very long. They didn't belong. Within about 20 minutes, Mr. A was released to go to our birthing room, with Mr. B following about 20 minutes later.

Back downstairs, I finally got to hold them. Very tiny, those boys. Here is a short video of them, with a big yawn from Mr. A for effect. Sorry it's so dark.

Truth be told, the rest of that night's a blur. I think we got to sleep around 4am.
We're all home.
Andrew, 5 lbs., 16.5" and Robert, 4 lbs. 3 oz., 16.25". Mom is well. Boys slept in our room.

Pictures now, story and more details later.

Andrew (L) and Robert in the NICU for observation. Moved to our room within the hour.
Robert in the NICU with my finger for scale.
Robert sucking on my pinky.
Andrew sucking his thumb.
Andrew (L) and Robert falling asleep in their bassinet.
With mom.

July 5th - 35 weeks

Belly pic from Thursday 7/10.
From Liss:
I should go on the sex ed circuit as a cautionary tale. After drawing a globe on my abdomen, of course.

I can't fit in a normal restaurant booth anymore. Or many public restroom stalls.
I can't reach the sink to spit out toothpaste (I spit in the toilet).
Standing up is a 4-step process involving counterbalances and physics.
I have a centimeter left before I won't fit behind the wheel of the car.
My feet puff out of 2-sizes-too-big shoes.
And I'm incapable of talking about anything else.* Darfur, shmarfur; election, shmaleckshun; WALL-E, Shmally.

But I also have a temporary hang tag and I'm not afraid to use it.
* Well, there's baseball. And the TV Show Which Shall Not Be Named. But those are hardly, like, intellectual.
Her belly is getting so tight that poking it hurts her. This makes her careful about running into things with it - which makes it more likely that she'll stub something with her feet. Besides the diverted area of concentration, she also can't see them right now.
At Thursday's OB appointment, he expressed concern about her blood pressure, both from today and from Saturday's triage visit. He hasn't restricted her activity yet, but she'll get another NST every Monday from now on, alternating with every Thursday's OB visit. If he gets too concerned, he'll bump up the c-section - perhaps to the point of saying "it's tomorrow."

As a side note, one plus of a known c-section is that she won't have to take a strep test.
It seems that for each new source of baby information out there, we get roughly 70% reinforcement of what we already know, 10% new knowledge, and 20% in direct conflict with an earlier source. When presented with the opportunity to read a new book about organizing the house to prepare for a baby, Liss refused and said "I think we have enough information." It's just not worth the effort anymore.

She's not going to the last two days of class. The final stage has begun, where she gets to sit, gestate, and not be a mother for the last time.
There are lots of non-baby things going on, like trainings at work, poker games, etc. For obviously reasons, for a few weeks but especially now, I'd had to temper each RSVP as a "maybe." They're not even here, and they're already an excellent excuse.
To use sports parlance, she's day-to-day on going to her training classes. She's going Wednesday after hearing the subject matter. Thursday and Friday will be less likely, mostly because she's running out of clothes that fit and she hasn't worn there yet.
For the last few weeks of a friend's pregnancy, she felt and rubbed her daughter's head through her belly. She found out later that it was actually her butt the whole time.

There's something similar going on with Liss. Imagine her belly as a globe* with the Prime Meridian going through her navel. Somewhere around South Africa is what we hope is Mr. A's head, but is most likely his butt.

We rub it anyway.

* Not that difficult.
Why do people shorten pregnant as preggo? It's a feminine thing, so shouldn't it be pregga?
She was able to sign up for that training class. It lasts all week. We'll see what happens - hopefully nothing.
I'm working from home Monday as a test run for working away from the office after the births. This first day we're simulating as though I were in the birth recovery area, as we'll be there at least three days. If the boys have to go to the NICU, it'll probably be longer than that.

The only communication we can assume I'll have from the hospital is e-mail. I'll do another day "from home," where I can use phone and scan things back to them, as well.
You know those Breathe-Right strips that are supposed to dampen snoring? I don't know if they work for everyone, but they sure work for her.
We just got back from an impromptu afternoon in triage. She'd been feeling less movement in there, so she called and they had her come in. The boys are fine - just feeling lazy, I guess.

When we got there, they did a non-stress test for a couple of hours. Her BP was an annoying 150/90 at the start, down to 135/80 after a while. That's high down to kinda high. So, they took more pee to check for pre-eclampsia again. No results for a few days there.

Meanwhile, Mr. B has gone from head down to transverse. It doesn't really affect anything, though maybe it means he's trying to make room for his brother to move.

It was a busy day. They delivered five babies in a ninety minute span while we were there.
The machines in triage picked up several practice contractions. She still hasn't felt any, but at least now we know she's having them.
One reason I'm hoping we make it to the next "expecting" meeting is so I can say "hey, new people: this is what 36 weeks looks like - and they're small for their age."
For the record, I foresee continuing to write after the births - archiving this page and starting a fresh one.
Normal labor is divided into three stages, with 1 being dilation of the cervix, 2 pushing out, and 3 afterbirth. The big stereotype is that as soon as she starts labor, the husband hastily packs the car and zooms through traffic lest she give birth in the car, assuming he remembered to bring her. Most men have probably imagined the "police escort" fantasy. However, stage 1 takes hours, maybe even a couple of days, and the hospital doesn't want you until near the end of it. You're supposed to sit at home and bask in the excitement and hormonal bliss (really).

However, since we know ours will be by c-section, if she were to go into labor, we could pretty much go at the very start, get checked out to make sure everything's okay, and get shipped straight to the OR. Since the OB had already said that he wouldn't be inclined to stop labor after 32 weeks, and Saturday is 35, it'd take something drastic to make him want to put on the brakes. The only other thing they might wait for would be for her stomach to empty.
She's considering taking a class related to her new job this week. That's quite the dice roll on her part, but more so on the school's, since they'd be paying for it.
Pre-labor is often predicated by some admittedly gross bodily functions. The mucus plug comes out and/or there might be spotting or even bleeding, any of which can happen days or weeks before the actual start of labor. And, of course, there's the water breakage, which by the way will have to happen twice for her; there are two sacs.

Fortunately, she's avoided all that so far. Since those things are early sign of labor, this is a good thing.
I think my boss is half-expecting me not to be at work Monday.
Belly pic from Thursday 7/3.

June 28th - 34 weeks

Thursday night Mr. A bumped up against her belly, and we were able to feel his spine. This confirmed that he's still facing her back, but more importantly, where he was means he's still breech.
Mostly because the house was robbed during daytime in March, I get paranoid when she doesn't mail or phone me at least once while I'm at work.
The traffic on this page has ramped up to about 60 hits a day. That's pretty amazing to me, considering I mostly started it to keep remote family informed and avoid what would otherwise be a long list of "tell me when something important happens."

About half of the traffic comes from people searching Google and the like for various things, like ultrasound pictures, twin information, and even ideas for painting a kid's wall. However, there are also some disturbing search strings that lead here, like "barefoot woman" and "naked belly."
Thursday morning she asked me to wake up Mr. B, because he hadn't been very active overnight. After all this time, it's no longer disconcerting to be loudly talking toward her belly, saying things like "stop worrying your mother!" and "why can't you be more like your brother?"
We have a limited number of days remaining (1-29) of "just us," so we're spending as much time together as we can. The thing is, we can't really know we had a free day until it's over. Once or twice a day, I'll look at her belly and think "any time now," which so far has proven false, but takes away from the relaxing nature of the us-time. That's okay, though, because I know that the minute I do relax, her water will break.
Emoms has a program where you can borrow premiee-sized clothing, which we did just in case.

One full-body outfit is about the same size as a pair of my boxers.
Since we've made it this far, I've built up 11 days of time off instead of the 8-9 I'd assumed I'd have. If I can work four hours a day (ha!), that's over four weeks before I'd have to be full time again.
Back before the boys were considered viable, the focus was on them. Now that they've made it this far, and things are looking good in there, all it's done is allowed us to shift that focus. We're worrying about ourselves now. She's getting anxious about the c-section, as happens with most people when they know a surgery is coming.

With most surgeries, you rest in the hospital for a while, then go home to finish recovering in your own bed. With a c-section, you rest in the hospital for two-three days, then go home to take care of your two new babies. It's a double (triple?) whammy for her.

Now, if they're born in the next week or so, they'll probably end up in the NICU for a couple of weeks, during which time she can mostly recover before we bring them home. However, that would be the only silver lining on the otherwise dark cloud of the NICU. We don't want them to go there at all.

The other extreme would be that they make it to July 20th or so, don't need any extra intervention, and get discharged with her a few days later. That thought kept me up last night - the idea of taking care of two newborn boys and a wife recovering from surgery. And myself, while I'm at it.
Rather than say "0 to 32 days to go," she's asked that I say "1 to 32." She wants them out, but she doesn't want them out today. Tomorrow, she'll feel the same way, so it'll be "1 to 31 days." And so on.
OB was called to an emergency c-section during Monday's visit, so it became a consult with a random midwife, with a quick conference call with the OB.

There's been no flipping on the part of Mister A, therefore it's assumed that a c-section is necessary. She'll be getting ultrasounds every week until birth, looking for him to flip (among other things), which by now is like asking me to wear jeans with a 30-inch waist.

The c-section is scheduled for August 1st, if they stay that long. Regardless, knowing you're going in for a c-section simplifies the birth quite a bit. They don't even bother inducing labor if they know it's a c-section - they just prep you, cut, remove, and sew you up. It takes 2-3 hours, rather than the usual long labor process you hear about.

On the flip side - no pun intended - it increases the risk of complications, and makes her recovery more difficult. They'd kick her out of the hospital after 72 hours, and if the boys are healthy, they'll be coming with us. Meanwhile, she'd still be frail from the surgery. And I'd be yelling for help.
How did husbands ever survive summer pregnancies before air conditioning?
It's supposed to hit 88 Saturday and Sunday. It's currently 70 in the house and she's hot. We're about to go to the movies, but we can't hide there forever.

When not pregnant, she's one of those people that gets cold at 70. On the other hand, I'm an oven, which works great for her when she needs to warm up. Her new joke is that the reason she's already hot is because she's carrying my sons - which would mean two ovens in the oven, but I digress.
Friday night we watched the episode of Friends where Phoebe gives birth to triplets. All the while, we were pointing out the many inaccuracies about birthing multiples in the hospital.

I'd like to reiterate the "Friday night" part of this.
Belly pic from Thursday 6/26.

June 21st - 33 weeks

She got a handicapped hang tag today, good for two months. The official reason we're using is that walking too much elevates her blood pressure, and this will save her some steps.

The unofficial reason is that we're lazy Americans with an overblown sense of entitlement.
Before the last OB visit, I'd been saying "Grow!" to the womb before leaving for work, but as noted, they didn't grow as much as we thought they would before that visit. My conclusion is that they're defying me. Therefore, since then, I've been saying "Don't Grow!, " and for the last few days I've also included "Don't Flip!" on Mr. A's side.

This assumes that they're not yet smart enough to detect reverse psychology.
If Mr. A is going to flip, Tuesday night was a good candidate for it. He was breakdancing in there, or something.
Puke, piss, shit, blood, lost teeth, dominance issues, sibling rivalry, whining, asthma, abandonment issues, incestuous behavior, jealousy and more.

These are things I've dealt with as the owner of three cats for the last 9-13 years. However, they pretty much have the same issues their entire lives, whereas children lose some and gain others. I'm not sure if I should find that comforting or not, but I certainly do for the potty training part. The cats have yet to master that.
Known stimuli that will probably get the boys moving: sugar, spicy food, temperature change (this is new), Liss lying down or waking up, lightly smackin' her belly, and my voice. Perhaps in an effort to get A to flip, we'll try all these at once.

Enjoy that mental image.
Since so many twins are early, we had to have everything ready early. We've had the baby shower(s), set up living spaces, lined up help, attended classes, and lots more that have been (and not been) detailed on this page. There are still some straggler things, but nothing's urgent.

The "hurry up and wait" mentality was there before, but now it's in charge. With Liss no longer working and the important stuff done, her job is to rest and eat. This sounds fun, but cabin fever can set in. Fortunately, she's not on bedrest, so she can and does get out and about. Plus, she's been making use of my extensive DVD collection.

She's slighty cranky with toting around such a load, though, so we've had this discussion numerous times: the longer they stay in there, the healthier they'll be. She knows it just fine, but it's my job to remind her that her discomfort is worth it. Yes, I know: easy for me to say.

We're at 33w2d, which is pretty good. I feel like I'm coming out of a cloud of worry into a more confident place.
Sometimes I wonder how many experienced parents are reading this and laughing at us for not knowing anything. But then I remember that they were probably in the same boat at some point, and it's all just a big cycle. That means later on I'll be able to laugh at paranoid expectant parents, too - except I'll probably be able to say "*pfft* at least it's just one!"
I figure this whole experience to date is kind of like college. You study and learn all the theory you can to prepare, perhaps with some lab work - and then you get into the real world and realize you still don't know jack.
Back to the thing about the boys not being as big as we thought they'd be. They're in the 16th percentile of size for their gestational age, but the OB says it's no cause for alarm. That's based on the bell curve for all babies, and twins are usually smaller at the same age. Plus, we were both always small as chlidren.
For the first time in his career, her OB has signed the form for a temporary handicapped hang tag, good for two months. It took a little nagging on our part, but she's getting huge* yet is still trying to get out and about. At some point it's going to prevent her from having to walk three blocks up and down a hill.

My workplace has about ten cars and space for fifty, but with a handicapped space. I should use the tag there just for a laugh.

* Measuring like a 41-week single pregnancy.
If the boys were born today (6/20), it'd have to be by c-section, as baby A is still breech. If he still is during the next OB visit (6/30), we'll be 95% certain that a c-section will be necessary; if he flips by then, we'll be 95% certain that it won't. If he's not flipped and we have to assume the surgery, she'd schedule it for some pie-in-the-sky late term date, like August 1st, with the knowledge that the pregnancy is highly unlikely to make it that late.
So. Two placentas?

This is the "maybe" opinion of the radiologist - the doctor who analyzes ultrasounds. Everyone else (OB, Liss, me) thinks he's nuts, because we've seen lots of other ultrasounds and have had no reason to believe otherwise. But now we have to at least consider the possibility.

The way twins split, one placenta ensures identicals, but two means they could be either identical or fraternal. Since we've seen stark evidence of manliness on both of them, they're certainly both boys; that's not in question (though the OB says never say never until they're born). With two placentas and twins of the same sex, sometimes there's no way to know for sure of identical/fraternal without a DNA test. Lots of the twin parents have gotten them.

It doesn't really make a difference either way, and we're still pretty sure it's one - remember this? - but we didn't need to have another thing to think about, dammit.

Though, if it is two, the risk of TTTS is zero, and our obsession with equal growth is academic.
Breaking news from the OB's office, via Liss:

It now looks like there might be 2 placentas after all. So we might want to shut up about the identical part for a while ... but that'd also cut the TTTS risk.
More later.
Belly pic from Thursday 6/19.

June 14th - 32 weeks

Ultrasound Thursday morning still showed equal growth, but less of that growth than we'd figured. They're 3lbs 10oz and 3lbs 9oz; we thought they'd be 4lbs each by now. She's going to the OB tomorrow, so that'll be on her list to discuss. These estimates get less accurate as they get bigger, though, so who knows?

Baby A is still breech, and it's getting crowded in there. The odds of a c-section are increasing.

Last night while trying to feel for movement, there was a bumping right around her appendix area. I felt along her stomach, and my first thought was that it felt like one of the boys' spines. I had her feel it, and she agreed that it was the best explanation. It turns out that we were right - baby B's head is right around the tattoo on her right hip, with his feet ending up below her heart, and he's facing her back.

Baby A's head, on the other hand, is below her left ribcage, feet down, also facing her back. The combination of the two can sort of be seen here - A's head is between B's knees. I guess since their heads aren't near each other anymore, and one has the other's head in a leg lock, the sibling rivalry has begun.

Since they're both facing the back, kicks and punches are muted, because they're hitting the placenta (and each other) instead of her belly. You can't really feel placental bumps. That partially explains why she hasn't felt much movement lately. It also means there are no face pictures, but here is a profile.

Both heartbeats were normal, in the 135-140 range. The Apgar in the next section wants 100 or more.
Numbers-geek time.

At one minute and again at five minutes after birth, a newborn is assessed an Apgar score of 0-10. Since the boys will probably be early, I searched around and found this graph nestled inside this study.

It shows that the average Apgar at 32.5 weeks is 8.5. A score of 4-6 at that gestation gives a newborn a 97% chance of surviving its first month, while a 7-10 gives it a 99% chance. The odds only get better after 34 weeks.

Obviously I'll try to have my ears open for their scores amidst all the chaos, but in the meantime: Cook, boys, cook!
Basically speaking, my job is to make sure that my company's two million dollars of inventory is correctly represented in the computer system. Part of that is doing a physical count of the whole shebang. We were doing it every month when I started - now it's every quarter.

During these physicals, I run the show. It takes a full day. I'm the only person for 500 miles who knows how to do it using our fickle system. I'd been warning my boss (and everyone else) for weeks that I might not be able to be there for the physical on June 27th; in fact, if Liss goes into labor in the middle of that day, I'm bailing on them.

This has put great fear into my presumptive backup, because he's never run one, and he'd be rusty anyway since we're not doing them as often. Since the time is getting close, we stayed late Tuesday so I could train him. He feels better, but will still be praying to anyone who'll listen that the boys wait 'til July.

A happy side consequence of staying late is that it makes it easier to ask to be late Thursday morning, so I can attend the ultrasound.
For those who don't know, a little bit of light gets in there. Because the boys can see, they can see each other. I find that comforting, though that's based on the presumption that they find it comforting. For all I know, each thinks his brother is a hideous alien beast which must be bested at all costs.
It's getting to the point where my shirts are too small for her.
Liss hasn't felt the boys moving much this weekend, so she enlisted my help this evening, and I (we) felt them a few times. The thing is, a single baby is supposed to get less noticeable about now, since it's running out of room. Two take up twice the space, so it stands to reason they'd be even more stymied at their attempts at cervical kickery.

It's going to be a long 0-6 weeks.
Saturday we had several people over, obstentiably to celebrate 32 weeks, but also to get most of the booze out of the house. I used to work for a liquor store, and then I was That Guy who brought booze to other people's parties, and we rarely actually drink the stuff ourselves (especially now), so it just kind of accumulated over the years. What's left is now taking up half a shelf of a cabinet instead of both full shelves, so I'd say the goal was met.

The rest of that space is now taken up with baby stuff, especially bottles.
Filed under "stuff they don't tell you about," we started packing our hospital bag today, and realized that we needed to make a list of last minute things to pack when she's actually starting labor. It's not like I can pack my only hairbrush.
Friday night we* organized the boys' room, which was based on what we think our new routines will be. We realize the naivete of this thinking, but it's the best we can do.

Among the other trappings was this map of the US. The way I see it, children present a unique opportunity to mess with someone's head. Imagine if I tried to tell an adult - or even a four-year-old - that Texas was up north and Washington down south. They'd call me a liar and spurn my presence. But with the boys, I have a clean slate. I'm not just their father, I'm "All Knowing Dad." It's everyone else who'd be the liars! How awesome is that?

* And by "we" I mean our friend Amy.
I'm totally joking about the map thing, but for an example, our neighbors used to tell their oldest that ice cream trucks rang their bells when they were out of ice cream. Who's to say we won't be tempted by such chicanery, especially in the name of expedition?
Every weekly increment from now on will have a longer name. Instead of "33 weeks," it will be "Holy crap, we made it to 33 weeks!"

The next and last milestone is 37 weeks, or July 19th. That's when they'd be considered full term, and very likely to be healthy and go home a couple of days after being born. It feels both very soon and very far away. There's about a 40% chance they'll get there.
The boys are probably going through quite a bit of this right about now.
Her carpal tunnel is getting worse. It's not debilitating or anything, but I've definitely noticed a dropoff in her Bejeweled time.
Thursday night was a festival of fetal movement.
It's pretty hard to overstate the importance of 32 weeks. Their lungs have developed - the last major organs to do so. Of course, they're tiny and weak lungs, but they're lungs. If the boys were to be born this week, it's pretty likely they'd not only survive, but survive with no permanent* complications.

* I wrote "premanent" at first, which some psych grad student could probably use as a master's thesis.
Belly pic from Thursday 6/12.

June 7th - 31 weeks

As Liss gets bigger, I'm noticing two elements of society bumping heads. One is the simple fact that she is gaining lots of weight, and that weight directly translates into baby health. The bigger she gets, the better, as long as her other health indicators are still good, and they are.

The other is the overwhemling, all-pervasive idea that we should all be thin, especially women. It's ingrained into us; therefore, just about every time I say something like "She's getting huge! It's great!", I can see people's brains going into overload. After all, why would I, a red-blooded American male, celebrate my wife's new 50 pounds? Simply put, I don't see an unhealthy woman - I see my wife carrying our babies to a healthy start.

This isn't to say I'm not a shallow bastard like the rest of us. It's just being trumped.
Since this Sunday is Father's Day, the meeting had a panel of twin-dads to answer questions and share their experiences. They confirmed what everyone already suspected - that twins are celebrities, and we (and they) should prepare to hear the same questions about them for the rest of their lives, especially since they're identicals.

Think of it like this: people still ask Paul McCartney if he was the walrus.
The car seats take up space, such that we both had to scoot up our seats in the front. I'm still not used to how cramped I am when I first get in. Meanwhile, Liss was wondering about the latest research regarding airbags and short people.
Monday night was the monthly meeting of the expecting and infant subgroup of the multiples club. This was our fourth time, which is probably the most among the expectant parents. If we make it the to next meeting with no babies (July 14th), we'll really be old school. But we'd probably have the grease the doorway for her.

There were name tag stickers; in addition to our own, I made tags for the boys and stuck them on the belly of her (my) sweater. It was a far greater hit than we thought it would be. They asked her to stand and show them off during introductions.
We installed the bases for the car seats yesterday - or, we tried to. They seem to jostle around a bit much. "They" say that 80-90% of seats are installed incorrectly, so it wouldn't surprise us if we're in that demographic. So, we'll be looking up one of those non-profits that checks them for you.

Of course, one of the ways to calm a fussy baby is to lightly jostle him back and forth, so maybe not.

Just kidding.
She brought up a random potential "35 days" today. That sounds a hell of a lot sooner than "five weeks."
31 weeks, and still no practice contractions that she knows of. That's unusual, but in the good way as far as I'm concerned. While I'm not aware of any link between their absence and babies cooking longer, I'm still assuming that correlation for my own mental health.
Normally, one would reserve one name for "baby A" or "the first twin born," and the other name for the other twin. That's not our plan. I figure we can meet them first. We'll have a couple of days to decide.
Belly pic from Thursday 6/5.
A few words about presentation - how a fetus is oriented in the womb. There are three types of presentation: Medical people designate twins as babies A and B. It's random at first, but once they get big enough (about 28 weeks), baby A is defined as the one closest to the cervix, and therefore most likely to be born first when the time comes.

In about 40% of twin births, both are head down, and a vaginal birth is a good shot. In another 30%, if A is head down and bigger than a breeched B (he usually is), then vaginal is pretty likely. After all, A has "paved the way," so to speak. Sometimes the OB has to go in and grab B, but that's what epidurals are for.

For the other 30% - A is breech, both are breech, A is transverse, etc. - then it's time for a c-section. There's just too much risk to both babies. With a single birth, an OB or midwife can often turn a baby to head-down by massaging from the outside. With twins, there's no room for that.

As I'd mentioned previously, our baby A was breech this past Monday - but there's plenty of movement and hopefully plenty of time. While Liss isn't gung-ho about delivering without surgery, it's her preference.

May 31st - 30 weeks

We have three cats. They weigh about 12 pounds each - pretty standard.

We're having a hard time fathoming that - if we're lucky - each kid is going to weigh about half that.
After the ultrasound on the 19th, the doctor visits are going to get a lot more frequent - the 20th, 30th, then pretty much weekly in July. I'd said before that I didn't think she was going in often enough, so I'm happy about this. Of course, scheduling appointments beyond 37 weeks is cautious optimism, but I'm okay with that.
There's a mountain of literature out there about what a pregnant woman and newborn mother goes through. Google "new mother" and you get 87 million hits. Google "new father" and it's 38 million. The proportions for "new twin mother" and "new twin father" are even worse (3.7 million to 419,0000). The most striking example to my recollection was the baby blues and postpartum depression discussion during the multiples class. It was "Mom, you might cry for no reason, you might feel like a horrible parent, talk to your doctor if you start to lose it, there's help for you out there, etc, etc." It was a good thirty minutes.

However, there was nothing about what I may or may not expect to feel when I suddenly have to care for two newborns. Since I intend to be a devoted caretaker as well, I can very much imagine myself with similarly overwhemling feelings of worthless parenting. What do I look out for? Do I call her doctor or mine? Will they just laugh at me?

For those of you shouting at your monitors, I'm keenly aware that she's going through more than I am. That doesn't mean I'm not going through anything.
This weekend, Liss saw several people who hadn't seen her in 2-3 weeks. They were agog over how much her belly had grown in that time.
Liss isn't in her classroom anymore, but she's in training for her Fall job for a few days. This involves sitting on an uncomfortable chair all day, but with the tradeoff that it moves the three sick days to the end of her leave. Her leave begins in earnest on Thursday.
OB visit on Monday was again blissfully boring. The coarse ultrasound showed equal-enough size of the babies and their sacs. She describes their orientation like the yin-yang symbol - their heads are still together, but with A's feet down toward the cervix and B's feet up toward her heart. Or perhaps you'd prefer to think of it as being like the symbol for a tropical storm.

She's getting some carpal tunnel in her right hand, for which pregnancy is a symptom (who knew?). In other words, like many other pregnancy complications, it'll go away pretty much the instant they're born.

For about the ninth time, we forgot to ask about getting a temporary handicapped hang tag. She's measuring like a 36-week single.
If labor starts after June 14th (32 weeks), our OB isn't inclined to stop it.
We've retained a postpartum doula.
It looks like I've got HR's okay to work part-time from the hospital and home, thereby stretching out my time away while still being available for the most important aspects of what I do. While it would be ideal to do four hours a day, my boss and I both understand that no one knows what's coming; I may just be so exhausted from everything that the idea of working outside of the workplace will be laughable.

The better to way look at it is that I'll have about 72 hours of time off, to be taken in 0-8 hour increments per day.
With an actual baby, you get rewarded in little ways - look, smiles, laughs, growth, developmental milestones. These keep a parent motivated.

In the womb, there's almost none of that. Her belly's getting bigger, they kick, we see them on ultrasound once in a while, and that's about it. Every day, it gets a little bit harder to muster up the energy to leap over that next baby-related hurdle.

Perhaps parenting's the same way. After all, how would I know?

We'll probably start calling in our alternative help soon.
Belly pic from Thursday 5/29.

May 24th - 29 weeks

We're meeting and interviewing our first doula candidate tonight, and all we can think about is how the house is a mess.
The boys weighed just over 2 lbs. each a couple of weeks ago, so they're probably around 3 lbs. each by now. However, we likely won't know that part of their progress until the next full ultrasound on June 19th. During her next OB appointment on the 2nd, she'll get a "quick and dirty" ultrasound to make sure they're growing equally and have equal sac sizes, but probably without a weight determination. So, we won't get that until they're about 4 1/2 to 5 lbs. Each.

But even though we don't know their weights for sure, she's assuming 3 lbs. each when using them as an excuse for stuff. "You know, together, they're already as big as a normal full-term baby ..."
Of course, the thing about estimating weights by ultrasound is that they get less and less accurate as they get bigger. It's not unusual for them to be off by more than a pound in the late stages. The real point for identicals in the same placenta is that they grow at pretty much the same rate, which is much easier to determine.
I saw my first "pushing of the belly."
One thing we've put off is babyproofing the house. We figure they won't be able to crawl for a while, so it can be pushed behind the stuff that has to get done now. Until then, from a baby's perspective, this place is definitely a Fun House of Death.
During the last visit to the OB (ten days ago), he raised concerns about her blood pressure (135/75). That was higher than before, and hypertension is the main indicator for several pregnancy-related complications, notably the dreaded preeclampsia. He wanted her to keep an eye on her BP, which she did by going to her school's nurse, who measured 140/80 last Wednesday - exactly the line for which the OB wanted to be informed. So, for the last few days, we've been enduring another round of wait-and-see, as she collected urine for one test, had her blood drawn for another, and scheduled a non-stress test (NST) and BP monitoring for Sunday.

The BP thing was a series of readings by a computer while she lay resting. When we got there, it was 135/75 or so again, then dropping quickly; by 20 minutes or so later, it was more like 117/58. That combined with the normal urine and blood tests, the OB said never mind on the NST.

Liss'a conclusion to this whole thing is that going to work raises her blood pressure. Having been a teacher myself, I understand. However, she only had one four-day week left anyway, so she's going to go ahead and work it.
The BP test was done in the maternity triage unit, a room about the size of our living room, in which there are three beds and accompanying machines separated by those curtains on ceiling rails. However, the curtains do nothing for sound, and we could hear every word of everyone else's conversations and machinery, and presumably vice versa. None of three couples there were in labor, but when our time comes, we know that everyone else will know - until we get admitted and put into our birthing suite, that is.
She doesn't think of them as fetuses anymore. They're just babies that haven't been born yet.
Last night's class was about breastfeeding. Of course, women have been breastfeeding for thousands of generations, so one might wonder why learning about it is necessary. The simple answer is that sometimes things go wrong, and it's more likely with a baby that's born early.
One subtle side note about the class was the language. It was never "your" breast, but "the" breast, as though to depersonalize things.
Men, imagine traveling through time and telling your 13-year-old self that one day you'd hear, see and talk about boobs for three hours and not particularly enjoy it. Yeah, adulthood's a bitch sometimes.
When discussing breastfreeding, sometimes Liss likes to go "moo." I need to find her a T-shirt that just says that.
Belly pic from Thursday 5/22.

May 17th - 28 weeks

Three-fourths of my spare energy is spent preparing for the boys' arrival. Lately, I've used the other quarter to program a new pool - Election 2008.
One of the new twin mothers had a cautionary tale. She was put on strict bedrest at 23 weeks, and delivered at 35, which is considered two weeks premature. That's generally late enough to have good odds. For the last couple of weeks, she was half-saying that it needed to be over, that she was done being pregnant, it would be okay if they came a little early. Twelve weeks of doing nothing makes one stir crazy.

Due to their prematurity, the smaller twin (4 lbs. plus) was in the NICU for 31 days, discharged, then developed Necrotizing enterocolitis, which put her (the baby) back into the hospital for another four days. The total bill for the birth and aftercare - mostly covered by insurance - was $780,000.

The boys need to stay exactly where they are for as long as possible, thankyouverymuch. No one thinks the mother's hurry-up attitude has anything to do with anything, but she still regrets it now.
She can see her skin move when they kick hard enough. I've haven't been watching when it happens yet, though.
The boys' organs should be mostly developed by now (except their lungs). From now on their main job is to grow. They should each be gaining about an ounce a day, until (if) they hit 37 weeks, at which point it tapers off and they're considered full term.
Expectant parents don't just know how many weeks along they are. They know to the day - and use it when typing. Tuesday, Liss is "28w3d." While we're still in one-week-at-a-time mode, later on it will be one-day as she gets bigger and one-hour as the weather gets warmer.
The first half of Friday's class was about Caesarian births, complete with graphic videos. After learning all about that and vaginal birth, she's leaning toward the latter, but there are still lots of variables. Depending on how they're oriented in the womb, it might have to be a c-section from the get-go; the OB won't dare try vaginal. That happens with about 30% of twin births.
The second half of the class was a two-mom panel of mothers who had recently given birth to their twins, to share their experiences and answer questions. Since we're in the twins club, most of it we'd heard before, but there was still some useful information in there. Plus, we independently concluded that one of them was a babe.
Sunday was the main baby shower, with lots of friends and co-workers and former chorus people and so on. We got lots of swag, but the main point was to see people while we still could. The final shower is Wednesday, with the adults at her school; I have a feeling that one's going to be much more ... shrill.
We've got the names of some postpartum doulas, and will probably interview and retain one this week.
"My maternity leave starts June 2. I got the principal's blessing today."
"I have decided to stop working at the end of the month."
Belly pic from Thursday 5/15.

May 10th - 27 weeks

From Liss, regarding the written report from yesterday's ultrasound:
Their heads are still a week bigger than the rest of their bodies.

Liss took the gestational diabetes test today, which came back negative. One less thing to worry about.
Double-decker ultrasound pics.

The top one is the tops of their heads. They were pretty much like that the whole time; Liss thinks it's because they're scheming against her. "Let's stay still for six hours and make her worry!" The heads are about 8.2cm (3.2") diameter.

The bottom pic is B's feet. The obvious one is the bottom of his left foot, but just to the right you can also see the profile of his right foot and ankle. As the crosshairs show, the profiled foot is 5.11cm (2.0") from toe to heel.

The weight estimates were 2 lbs. 2 oz. and 2 lbs. 1 oz.
Ultrasound this morning was more interesting than it should have been. The tech left us for 20 minutes after doing her thing, after which she came back and said she had to take more measurements, then left for another 15 minutes. So of course, we were sitting there wondering what alarming things the radiologist had found. However, the tech came back and said everything was fine, by which I mean that the boys are growing at the same rate, and their sacs are both intact.

Pictures tonight.
Both of the boys are transverse right now, meaning they're oriented from (her) hip to hip, with both heads to her right and feet to her left. It's not yet cause for alarm, but if they don't get with the program by the time labor hits, they'll be delivered by c-section regardless of what anyone else has to say about it.
Liss is contemplating taking off from work before the end of the school year (June 18th). Her body has changed a lot in the last couple of weeks, and it's getting harder and harder for her to do everyday things. She's looking at the end of May or maybe a week after, though it's still just a thought right now; she might tough it out. Any time off she takes now is time she can't use in the Fall, but her new job will let her work part time for a while, and from home for some things, which will stretch that leave out.
I guess I hadn't written anything about her new job. She'll be the math coach at her current school. She hasn't left teaching or anything like that.
It's supposed to get into the 80s for the next few days, so we put the A/C back into our bedroom window. Comfort is difficult for her these days (and always, for me), and the third floor of our house can get kind of toasty.
A couple of months ago, these guys had twin girls at the same place we'll be having the boys, with Liss's OB delivering.
There are many topics of pregnancy and parenting that can spark a heated argument. Here are things you're not supposed to ask about:

And here are things that have opposing sides, both of whom often think the other are idiots and/or horrible parents: Circumcision and formula/breast feeding are a little of both.

I present these as topics of not-discussion.
This page has become less humorous and more factual of late, which mirrors my attitude and the seriousness of whole thing. There's a never-ending series of preparation, after which there will be a never-ending series of responsibilities directly related to the boys' care. I hope I'm not losing my sense of humor over this, but after all, their lives are and will be literally in our hands.

But dammit, I wanna be a goofy dad!
The classroom baby shower was fun. Amy came and had a few kid-friendly shower games for them, after which I showed them the latest ultrasound pictures and revealed/explained the boys' names. Liss had been using the names as a behavior carrot for months, so I don't know what she's going to hang over them for the rest of the year. I'm sure she'll think of something.
After the shower was the OB visit, which was pretty uneventful. He found both heartbeats, recommended she start setting up some of the routine tests, and that was about it. It doesn't seem to me like he's treating this high-risk pregnancy as such, but he knows better than I. The third trimester has begun, though, so it's crunch time - when complications are most likely - so we may have to push the issue. We're hearing most other twin moms saying they're going in every week or two instead of three.

At 27 weeks, she has a belly of a 33 week (single) pregnancy.
Saturday we toured the birth ward at our hospital. The group was large - the three of us (with Amy) crashed it with implied permission, which pushed it to maybe 25 people. It was so large that most people didn't seem to want to ask questions that others wouldn't care about, though every such group has one or two people who aren't shy about that. My opinion is that they should consider having the tour more often instead of cramming 20 people into one birthing room.

The general procedure is, a woman goes into labor but doesn't call the hospital until she's having contractions that are one minute long and five minutes apart. Then she calls, comes in, checks in, and gets a birthing room. She can have more or less whomever she wants in that room, though the doctors can veto it. We know Amy will be there, and maybe Liss's parents, but that's probably it, besides the requisite medical people.

For our high-risk birth, she'll be wheeled into the OR once stage 1 labor is done. Only one person can go with her, so that's me. It's possible that we might be in there a while; there are all kinds of what-ifs.

If the boys have to go to the NICU, then I'll go with them, and Liss gets wheeled back into her birthing room with Amy and whomever else. Some hours later, they may or may not transfer her to a recovery room, where we'd spend the next few days until she's discharged. That doesn't mean the boys will go at the same time, though, in which case we'll look into boarding options at the hospital.
One thing that might come out of left field for some people - the birthing and recovery rooms have Internet access, so we'll be able to bring her laptop. That means I can update this page pretty soon after the ordeal, but I have a less obvious reason for wanting access. If there's any downtime - and apparently there's a lot in recovery - then I'll be able to do some work remotely. Even a few hours of e-mailing back and forth counts as half a day, which would be huge. With 7-9 days off coming to me, I could do some work from the recovery room and then home, and stretch it out to maybe 15 calendar days. That's three weeks instead of a week and a half. Huge.
"I have an entourage everywhere I go."
Belly pic from Thursday 5/8.
Baby accessories have come a long way. At the club sale, we got a travel system, which is basically two car seats that detach from their bases and snap into a matching (double) stroller. The idea is to not wake up the boys when moving them from the car to elsewhere, or vice versa.

We registered for (and got) two extra bases - because we have two cars. Baby seats take a while to uninstall/install, and have to be secured "just so," so this will allow us to just click in and out.

How did our ancestors cope without such wonders?
The classroom baby shower is Friday, which is a fun break for the kids more than anything else. From what I'm hearing, it's actually me that'll be the center of attention, because her students have never met me. It should be ... interesting.
Cats. We have three of them. Actually, they came with me in a package deal; they are affectionately known as Liss's step-cats.

In their minds, the mammal hierarchy goes like this: me, her, Grace, Andi, Vince. Grace is an ornery thing, and only allows others ahead of her because we're bigger and are the source of huntless food. Normally, she beats other animals into submission to maintain her place as the alpha. I've seen her attack sixty-pound dogs and send them running.

In two months, this stable World Order will be shaken by the arrival of two new mammals who are smaller than Grace and don't feed her, but are higher on the ladder. They will be higher only because we say they are. However, that doesn't mean she'll take it - pardon the pun - gracefully. We must therefore be prepared to put her in her new (fifth) place, by force if necessary.
"I have to do this for two more months!?"

Yes. Yes, you do.

May 3rd - 26 weeks

And back we go - Amy used her powers of persuasion to get us into this Saturday's tour of the ward.
A first pregnancy has to be one of the more frustrating aspects of the human experience. There's anxiety from multiple sources and mounds of preparation, all for a person(s) who is inches away but you can't see or hear.
We won't be doing a tour of the hospital ward this weekend after all, as they're booked full. We're set for Wednesday, June 4th, by which time I'll be carting Liss around with a hand truck.

It's possible we can sneak in a private tour, but we're not holding our breath.
Since moving to Seattle, we've endured two natural disasters that rendered our cell phones useless - an earthquake in 2001, and last winter's wind storm. Since we didn't have a land line, and the lecturing cop said we should for such occasions, we got one for emergencies. There's a phone for it in our kitchen, and one in our bedroom.

Last night, someone called that line at 3:40am. Wrong number. We were sleeping fine until then, which doesn't happen very often these days, so it was most unwelcome. Who, I ask, is this Danielle person, and why does the woman calling her think it's okay to do so at 3:40am?

She owes us a good night's sleep.
Women start having very mild "practice" contractions around week 22. They're normal - you're just supposed to keep an eye on them to make sure they're not too frequent. They help prepare the mother for the real thing.

However, Liss hasn't felt a single one, which by 26 weeks is approaching unusual. Personally, I see it as a sign that the boys are in no hurry to come about before term (37 weeks), but she'll still ask the OB about it this Friday.
From an online discussion about daycare: "Welcome to the world of parenting peer pressure. When it comes to parenting, we are all a bunch of judgemental SOBs looking to validate our choices by ridiculing others."
From what I'm hearing, you learn parenting by doing. The first child is your "practice" kid who's automatically screwed up because you don't know what you're doing. By the time the second one comes along, you start to hit your stride, and they're less crazy. However, we'll have the opportunity to screw up two kids at once as we figure it out. Yay!

Because Lord knows I have no idea what I'm doing.
New babies get a security anklet while they're in the hospital. If they're taken beyond a certain spot in the birth recovery area, very loud alarms go off, the elevators shut down, doors seal themselves, etc.

Baby thieves - on the next Jerry Springer.
Last night's class was better, because it focused on something we haven't spent much time on - the actual process of labor and the few days after. We've been more concerned about getting there in the first place, and what happens after we get home with them.

For a hospital birth, one of the more important things one can do beforehand is to turn in a birth plan. In our case, it was a questionnaire about common options and procedures, like are we going to film the birth (no), how many nonmedical people do we want in the room at a time (one), do we want them circumcised before they leave (noyb), will she want an epidural (hell yes), plus some open-ended questions about our preferences.

The phrase for this is "the birth experience." I compare it to weddings - you've got your high maintenance people who've been dreaming of the event their whole lives, planning every little detail, then going bananas when something can't be done or deviates on The Big Day. On the other extreme, you have your elopers.

The instructor made the point that in the end, everyone wants the same thing - healthy babies, healthy mom. There are just many ways to get there. Ours is pretty simple - as comfortably and safely as possible. The rest is just a means to that end. I won't be cutting the umbilical cord or anything like that.

However, we consider the two other couples in the class to be a little unrealistic about the whole thing. One mom basically said to just get them out. If she could skip the whole having-them thing, she would. That's only a little less denial than we think we're in.

The other couple was almost belligerent about a few things. It's pretty obvious that if they weren't a high-risk pregnancy (twins), they'd be doing a home birth with a midwife. The husband doesn't trust medicine to make any decisions for them; they want to be in control as much as they can. Especially important is the idea of a bathtub being part of the experience, as evidenced by the topic taking up about 20% of classtime, all of which just came back to "talk to your OB."

We got a tour of the birthing center, except it's not our hospital. Ours has a tour next Saturday, so we'll almost certainly attend it.
Tonight is parenting class 2 (of 5). We'll see how productive this one is.
I've noticed lately that when we hug, I scoot my feet back a little to keep safer balance.
Belly pic from Thursday 5/1.

April 26th - 25 weeks

There's a constant debate running through my head, to which there is no simple answer. When the boys come, I'll have accrued 7-8 paid days off from work - a combination of sick and vacation. One might think I'd start using them when Liss goes into labor, when they come home a day or two later, and deplete them at home before returning to work.

However, chances are at least 50% that they'll go into the NICU - possibly for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. So the question becomes, do I go to work while they're there to save the days - and let's face it, not be very useful while my newborn children are in intensive care - or use them at that time and then have none left for when they come home?

We can't really afford for me to take unpaid time off, but it may have to happen anyway.
In the continuing saga of "doing what we can while we can," we went to the Sunday Mariners game - a birthday tradition for Liss. They had a giveaway of Felix jerseys for kids. Before we went in, we wondered if an overtly pregnant woman could get one. That would be step one - step two would be getting a second one for reasons obvious to us but not obvious to the person handing them out.

It turns out that they're trained to give kid freebies to pregnant women (if they ask), so the first one was easy. We inquired about a second - he asked if we were sure it was two ("Oh my, yes!"), and that was that. So now the boys have matching Mariners jerseys that will absolutely swim on them until they're about four years old.
We've added an alternative registry, which is more like a list of help we could use in the coming months. Several local people have offered help, and this was our way of being specific about our needs while giving them a means to be specific about how they want to help.
Tonight was a poker game in the extended "my former job" network. One guy there grew up in Mexico, away from modern technology. He says his aunt really wanted a girl. In trying, she kept popping out twin boys. Of course, where she was they didn't have ultrasound and so on, so they were all surprises in both sex and quantity.

After five sets - two identical and three fraternal - she stopped trying.

There was also a woman I've known for five years who has an identical twin, which none of us knew about. I guess it's just one of those things that doesn't normally come up.
The class wasn't particularly helpful, but only because we've already been educating ourselves elsewhere. Hopefully the remaining four Fridays will touch on more things we don't know.

Including us, there are only three couples in the class, whereas normally they have at least twice that. They'd considered cancelling the series and bumping us to June, but if class 1 is in early June then class 4 is in late June and ... well, that just wouldn't work.
Tonight (4/25) is our first "parenting twins" class. How Yuppie of us.
Belly pic from Thursday 4/24.

April 19th - 24 weeks

Ultrasound this afternoon showed more lovely normalcy. Their biggest risk - the aforementioned TTTS - shows itself by making one twin larger than the other. However, the boys are just two grams apart (645 and 647, or 1 pound 6 ounces to you and me). Everything else looks good. The cervix has effaced to 3.5cm, but that's to be expected.

Combined pic from the ultrasound shows A not doing much. B had just removed his thumb from his nose. His mother must be so proud.

For the record, Liss thinks of "the baby on her right" as Robert, which is as good an assignment method as any. He's A in the picture, therefore Andrew would be B.
I felt kicks (or arm shoves) for the first time Tuesday night.
From Liss:
Today is my birthday. The babies woke me up at about 2:30 am with a special gift. I guess they don't have much to offer right now -- and I'm just as happy that they're not offering themselves today -- but I'd gone this long without ever experiencing heartburn and I could have gone a bit longer. Thanks, boys.

I can't decide if the increase in exciting varieties of symptoms is more like baseball cards (collect the entire set!) or like

Pregnancy Symptom Bingo

Excess mucous











to cervix, bladder, etc.




(What moodiness?  I'm not moody. I told you, I'm fine.)








Tender (huge?) boobs


S    t    r    e    t    c    h


M      a      r      k      s










of  clothes


Frequent urination

Frequent urination Frequent urination Frequent urination Frequent urination Frequent urination Frequent urination





of breath



Food aversions


hands, feet, ankles







One more and I win!

Liss teaches at a mostly Asian elementary school, with a heavy immigrant population. When she talks to the students' mothers and grandmothers, it's obvious that she's pregnant, and they are gracious and happy about it. But when they ask the sex, and she says not just a boy, but two boys, they are in awe. "Lucky! You very lucky!"

As in, if they'd produced two sons back home, they'd be major village celebrities.
The club is having a New Member Tea in a couple of Saturdays, which I liken to a stitch and bitch, except you're not creating quilts. I, being male, am not invited.
We went to Target this weekend. When the cashier found out we were having twins, she shared that her roommate just found out she's expecting an oops. Triplets. She's 19.
It's still kind of freaking me out that I'm playing a part in creating two people.
We were going to register for this desk for the boys, but it looks like they don't qualify for it.
The preterm class was more useful than scary. Liss has around a 55% chance of delivering before 37 weeks, which is when babies are considered full term - 10% is the overall average. However, there's a major difference between going into preterm now versus, say, 35 weeks. In fact, the odds of the boys' survival go up significantly in the next couple of weeks, though lifelong complications remain likely until around 32 weeks (our Red Letter Day of June 18th).

It turns out that pregnant women start having "practice" contractions around 24 weeks that she might not even notice, but should be alert for when they happen and especially how often they happen. We now know what to feel for, when to expect them, what to do if they're too frequent, and what the hospital might do about it in that case. Generally speaking, if the boys are okay, they'll try to delay to 37 weeks, mostly with medication and possibly bedrest. If they're not okay, then they'll deliver and go to the NICU. But so far, they're very okay, and she hasn't felt any contractions anyway.

The scary parts were some of the pictures of babies from the NICU, meant to prepare us for the possibility. The ones near full term were small and weak, but reasonably robust. The younger ones were ... not.
Belly pic from Thursday 4/17.

April 12th - 23 weeks

At Monday's meeting, one of the moms said that if she hadn't taken a "preventing preterm labor" class, she would have gone into labor at 23 weeks. Since we're at 23 weeks, and hadn't heard about this class before, we kind of freaked out when we heard that. Fortunately, there was still space in the class tomorrow (Thursday), so we'll be going to that.
There's a lot of controversy about storing your baby's cord blood these days. According to its proponents - mostly people who stand to make money from it - you're a thoughtless parent if you don't pay the $1500 on an unproven method of health care.

Rather than deal with all that, we just went ahead and created our firstborn child's own in-house genetic match. And our secondborn's. Because we're efficient like that.
There was an "expecting and newborns" meeting tonight, mostly a Q&A session. The thing that stuck with me the most was this: some retailers *coughBabiesRUscough* have been known to loosen screws on cheaper demo cribs to make them seem flimsier, and do them nice and tight on the more expensive models.

Also, there was a couple who had babies fresh out of the same NICU that ours will go to if needed, so Liss pumped them for information on the side.
I might have felt a kick last night, but I'm not sure. She says there's definitely a dance party in there at times. I guess that's what happens when you're growing an octopus.
Does it seem weird to anyone else that most employers give three paid days off when someone passes, but none when someone is born?
From Liss:
There sure are a lot of rules I have to follow right now. No cigarettes, no problem. No alcohol, check*. No hot tubs, didn't have one anyway. No sushi or rare steak, okaaay. No medicine without asking the doctor. No carrying heavy things, which is both an annoyance and a blessing.

Once the babies are born, a whole new set of rules arises. For example: They must sleep face-up with no pillows or blankets. Baby Einstein be damned, they can have no screen time at all until they are at least 2 years old (I'd say much longer if not for the baseball). No honey, no chocolate, no semi-automatic weapons. And they must not use bottles that contain BPA.

And now it turns out that I have been risking their future reproductive health by sticking with my BPA-licious Nalgene. Oops. My pirate-decorated Sigg bottle** will arrive in a week or so. Then we can start thinking about our grandchildren. Well, maybe not quite yet.

* Though from the billboards alone, I am sold on blueberry vodka & lemonade as my new favorite drink, should you care to buy me one after these babies come out.

** They have a Ninja one too. Also Hello Kitty.
From Liss:
According to some, cravings during pregnancy can be attributed to various nutritional deficiencies. For example, if you crave chocolate that means you need more B vitamins; or if you want steak then maybe you need protein.

I was fine with the bagels. I know there's no way I'm not getting enough carbs, but it amused me to think maybe I needed more Judaism or New Yorkness.

Pop-Tarts, though? Really?


And what will you boys think of next?
For the record, I am doing my best to limit the boys' Pop-Tart intake by reducing supply.
Every subculture has its standard set of "get to know you" questions. In college, it's your major and hometown. New chorus members are asked which section they're in and what singing they've done in the past. The twins club is no different, but the questions are: how old are they, the sex(es), fraternal/identical, only two?. But there's another one that you might not expect but makes perfect sense in hindsight: are these your first?

If the answer is yes, then you're golden. Sure, the first year is a blur, but everything after that gets easier, and it only took one pregnancy to get there. And if you decide to have another kid later, you get the cool breeze of having only one baby to deal with. On the flip side, imagine having a toddler and then finding out you're expecting twins.

It's worth noting that in-vitro is not on the list. Though a lot of people volunteer the information, it's considered very rude to ask. However, people outside the subculture are less likely to know that, so everyone gets asked at some point.
In the language of premature birth, there's a concept called "adjusted age." Imagine two pregnancies with the same due date, but one baby is born a month early and the other on time. The early baby ("preemie") is a month older than the other based on birthdate, but developmentally the same age (give or take). Two months after the due date, the early baby is three months old, but has grown and developed like a two-month old - his adjusted age. Eventually a preemie catches up with the norm, generally around toddler age.

Preemies are so common with multiples (33-36 weeks on average) that it's just assumed that any such pregnancy will end early. Therefore, expectant parents like us need to stock up on clothes and diapers "smaller than newborn." If the boys are indeed early, then the August 9th due date becomes the basis for their adjusted age. At Christmas time, they should be like normal 4 1/2-month olds, even if they're 6 months old by then.

On the plus side, day care centers don't take adjusted age into account with their pricing, and the price drops at six months. Even so, I'd much rather just have them stay put as long as possible. Most of the gap between birth and 37 weeks is made up in the NICU (pronounced nick-yoo).
I have this "thing" where I need to put new clothes through the laundry before I'll wear it. Used clothes are a double must for this, so most of the babies' new-but-used clothes were washed today. The funny thing is that the clothes are so small that we were able to do their entire "newborn sized" wardrobe in one load - plus their crib sheets, bibs, and changing pad covers. Rock on.
We're looking into cloth diaper services, but nothing's set in stone yet.
We made out like bandits at the twins club sale. The only people allowed to shop Friday night are volunteers who work a full shift (or spouses of, as in our case) and sellers. However, there were only a few people like us - expecting, but volunteered a full shift. All of the sellers have had their twins for at least a couple of years. So Liss got first pick of all the big ticket items - strollers, changing tables, cribs, car seats, etc. She spent $330.

We then showed up Saturday morning and ended up behind 100 or so people in the club member line, which gets in an hour before the public line, which was about as long. However, another rule says that someone who volunteered (and their spouse) can skip the line and start five minutes before the members. So, we were escorted along with three other people past the 100 waiting members and into the merchadise area. The real effect of this was that we were first to the holding area, which holds your stuff-I'm-buying so you can load up on more elsewhere. That line filled up quickly behind us. We got in and out in less than an hour, with more of the little things - clothes, nursing pillows, high chairs, resting pads, etc., to the tune of $180 more.

As we were leaving, the public still wasn't being let in; the line stretched way back by then - maybe 300 people. Bye, suckers!
Some peculiarities and details from the sale:
Belly pic from Thursday 4/10.

April 5th - 22 weeks

Both heard today:

"Pretty soon I'm going to have to ask you to carry my laundry baskets down."

"Pretty soon I won't be able to reach the bottom of the washing machine."

I can see where this is heading.
Prep for the big club sale this weekend is in full swing. I volunteered to work it so Liss can get in early - in fact, she'll be able to shop Friday night, whereas most club members get in an hour before the public on Saturday morning (which we'll also be doing, but together). That kind of priority item choice is worth the 6.5 hours I'll be working. However, since I'll be unavailable to her while she shops for the big-ticket items, we'll be sitting down beforehand and coming up with a game plan for her.

Exciting stuff, I assure you. It would have helped if you had put on Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" before reading the previous paragraph, but you probably didn't do that.
We have no free weekends for the foreseeable future. This weekend is the club sale, her parents are in town the next weekend (and put to work, I assure you), and then the Friday night parenting-multiples classes begin, with a couple of last-chance concerts thrown into the one weekend that those classes skip, and tickets to a play. There are two or three baby showers in there somewhere. Our birthdays are also both in a few weeks, which means a Mariners game in her case, and a strip club in my case.

Perhaps that's the other way around. I forget.
When my dad turned 36, I joked that since average male life expectancy was 72, he was probably halfway done. Now that I'm about to turn 36, I still think it's funny, dammit, except I have no smartassed teenage son to point it out for me. I'm still the smartass in my dad's family, with the occasional interjection from my uncle. Surely one or both of the boys will take the torch someday.
My office is moving 12 miles south to Kent in a few weeks. Depending on various factors, this means my 12-minute commute will become 25-35 minutes, and I may change my hours to 7-3:30 instead of 8-4:30. While that may not seem like much, it confounds our future day-care logistics quite a bit. That's 26-46 more minutes a day that I'll be unavailable.
I was worried about people wondering why I'd put a seemingly self-indulgent $270 item on our registry, so I figured I'd explain.

Including steps, the boys will have six grandparents and six great-grandparents. However, the closest of any of them are 1500 miles away in Phoenix, with most being much farther. That's why I bought a wireless webcam last year - to experiment with the technology so I wouldn't have to learn it from the ground up when baby (one at that time) was imminent. It's a cheap-o model that just streams a video, but can do so over the Internet (here, currently pointing outside the boys' room), which was the real point.

However, that model has serious limitations, like no sound, only supporting four watchers at once, and no remote manipulation of the camera. We figure a good GrandsonsCam will need more, which is why I added a good model.
You know how, when you ride the roller coaster, there's that slow climb with the click click click that builds up the anticipation before plunging you headlong into who-knows-what?

It's kind of like that.
From Liss:
Because they share a placenta, the twins are at risk for TTTS. That means I have to (get to) have ultrasounds every 3 weeks to be sure they're still growing at similar rates. So far so good, but it's nice to be reassured and to see them so often. In another six weeks or so, they'll be big enough that if something goes horribly wrong, they can just be delivered. Yeah, I am preh-eg-nant.

In the meantime, it's amused me to keep track of how the ultrasound technicians refer to the boys' penises. Not one of them has actually said "penis." The first one pointed out the left leg, the right leg, then the "third leg." Another called them their "things." Most recently, the very young, very Southern tech pointed out their "junk," which seems a little crude when they haven't even been born yet.

I think when we start talking to them about their genitals, we'll go ahead and call them "penises."

Meanwhile, my Dad (who apparently only pretends to be classy) has rejected our scheme of R-for-Robert-Red nail polish to tell them apart. Instead, his suggestion is to have only one of them circumcised. Want to know which one's which? Change their diapers.
Belly pic from Thursday 4/3.

March 29nd - 21 weeks

We decided - if that's what you want to call ten seconds of bantering about it - that Robert will be getting red nail polish on his toenail(s) to help others distinguish him from his brother. Red for Robert. Let the edumacation begin.
The latest ultrasound was this afternoon (4/2) and ... there's really not much to report. And at this stage, no news is good news. However, whereas they were about half a pound each three weeks ago, they're now almost 15 and 14 ounces. Since that means they're basically doubling in weight every three weeks, we can assume that they'll be 16 pounds each by the end of June.
There's something that puts the brakes on the life-altering nature of pregnancy - the general "hurry up and wait" aspect of just about everything involved. Each ultrasound, OB visit, parenting class, tag sale, club meeting, baby shower, etc. are important events that aren't here yet. My April calendar is bursting, with May catching up. However, on the many days that aren't marked, we still have a life to live, what with eating, sleeping, working, errands, chores, and watching baseball. It's on those days that I don't think about the pregnancy much, because there's just not much we can do about it, so we might as well get in some of those mundane things before they become luxuries. It's also during these lulls that I don't write much, since I don't think there's much to report.
I'm trying to train myself to occasionally refer to the twins as Andrew and Robert instead the other way around. We're getting paranoid about giving Andrew an inferiority complex, such as by always using his name second.
We painted [one wall of] their room Saturday with our friend Amy's help. The original scheme came to me while we were in Lowes a couple of weeks ago, which we variously modified until the last minute. The general idea was to put a strip of paint tape across the wall, paint differently on either side, then strip away the paint to reveal a white stripe separating the colors. The final result is here.

We like it quite a bit. Besides the similarity to Mariners/Seahawks colors, we figure it's just edgy enough to keep them satisfied until they're old enough to change it however they like.
Belly pic from Thursday 3/27.

March 22nd - 20 weeks

The boys' room has a nice view (sunrise, fog, snow, nuclear detonation). Depending on the time and weather, you can see Lake Washington and/or the Cascades. During July 4th and New Year's, you can see eight different fireworks displays. We figure they're going to grow up accustomed to all this, and then get severely depressed when they move out and have to live in some fleabag with a brick wall outside their window. Meanwhile, our room has no view to speak of; my running joke is that they should get the master bedroom and we'll take theirs, but she's not biting so far.
We'll be working on the boys' room this coming weekend - mostly painting one wall and hanging dark drapes. I hesitate to call it a nursery, because it's Their Room for years to come. That's also why we're opting for temporary decorations for now, like stick-on animals, hanging alphabet letters, posters and maps. We think the paint scheme we've devised will be something they can live with until they're old enough to change it themselves.
Liss's belly didn't make too much of a splash at the Con, but that's fine with us. My theory is that there were so many women showing cleavage that people didn't think to look lower than that.
We went to Babies R Us last weekend, basically to scout it, but we ended up with a pair of strollers. Is this what babies do to you - make you spend money you weren't planning to spend? Because I was already good at that, thank you very much.
Our focus now is on the multiples club's semi-annual sale on April 12th, which is kind of a combination flea market and garage sale. Apparently they fill two gymnasia with 150 sellers and as many people as the fire codes will allow. This thing must be a big deal, because their list of rules is six pages long. As club members, we get to go in an hour before the general public. However, I'm volunteering to work it, which means we (or just she) will be able to go in the night before and take our time. The general idea is to get the furniture there - crib, high chairs, playpens, soundproof helmets, etc.
We've signed up for a series of "parenting multiples" classes, which is mostly just parenting classes with some extra stuff to keep in mind for twins. Liss babysat all through school, but I'm clueless and she's rusty, so what the heck. Besides, it'll get us out of the house on Friday nights, which is quite the trick these days. They don't start 'til the end of April, though.
Thank you for not breaking into our house.
Off to the Con. Back Sunday. Please don't break into our house.
Belly pic from Thursday 3/20, now with more cat!

And here's a bonus picture of the perfect woman: barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.
Maybe it's the Sudafed the OB said she could take, or a new pillow configuration, or whatever, but the snoring has waned considerably.
We've reached a turning point: she's wearing one of my shirts today.
Since people are asking, we'll be referring to them as Robbie and Drew to start. We can't call Andrew Andy, because we already have a female cat named Andi. Plus, we don't really care for it.
We're going to a convention this weekend. It's at this annual con that I often see people from my past whom I now only see at this con. Therefore, Liss (who attended for the first time last year) will be seen by many people who don't even know she's pregnant, let alone seen her this way. Plus, there are many people (e.g. chorus) who haven't seen her in months. She's now well beyond the "is she?" stage and into the "no doubt about it" stage, so I suspect we'll be talking twins quite a bit for the next couple of days.

March 15th - 19 weeks, 0 days

I wrote a lottery simulator for the hell of it. This is what happens when both of your parents have math brains. Obviously, the twins' parents have math brains. Therefore, like us, they will be a hit at parties.
The term "Get your sleep in now!" has become a pet peeve of ours. Yes, we know having a kid means sleepless nights for a while. However, it's not like sleeping more now is going to help when that time comes. Besides, we're having trouble sleeping, what with the mindracing and bodychanging that's going on, which just makes that "advice" all the more irritating - as in, we would if we could.
Since I have your rapt attention anyway, I run a free online March Madness pool. It's here.
From Liss:
I think these babies are Jewish.

For the past couple of months, they've demanded that I switch my usual frosted-mini-wheat-and-blueberries breakfasts for bagels. They'd like some lox, but they only insist on the bagels.

This morning, they decided they'd rather have Matzoh Brei. Why? I've never actually had matzoh brei before, I've only read about it in books. We don't keep matzoh around, so I substituted pita chips. The boys weren't overly impressed, but they know better than to complain too much.

Won't they be disappointed to learn that after they're born, it's nothing but milk milk milk for months.
The twin-dads tell me Liss will be useless in a month, and to wring as much preparatory work out of her as I can before then. That's not exactly how they put it, but I can read between the lines.
Out of 13 of us, I won the poker game among the twin-dads. Their excuse is that I'm rested up because mine haven't been born yet.
Because I'm writing so much more lately, I'll be putting a link to the every-Thursday-evening belly pic on the main page from now on.
I'm going to a dads-only poker game tonight, sponsored by some guys in the multiples club. I don't know what poker has to do with being the father of twins; I think it's more that they want to not be the fathers of twins for a few hours. However, my suspicion is that I'll come away with more good advice and perhaps even some swag.
The lecturing policeman from last week said not to publicly post both the birth date and full name of a newborn child, because identity thieves will take that, link it to a recently deceased person (that part was hazy), and get credit cards in your child's name. Since the recent break-in just reinforced my belief that people are jerks, I suppose we'll have to do that. But since I've already posted the twins' names, that means being vague about their date of birth. I'm not sure how that's going to fly.
I have sold out to The Man by putting up the little ad you see in the top right corner. Mostly it's an experiment for the site as a whole (like the pools). I anticipate that the actual revenue generated will buy about three diapers - more if my sparse readership is impulsive and/or drunk.
Something I concluded long ago during my occasional attempts at self-awareness is that I'm a bad icebreaker. It's very difficult for me to start a conversation with someone I don't know, and I'll usually avoid doing so. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen - you wouldn't be reading this if I hadn't done it four years ago - but it's rare. The most glaring example in my head was going out on behalf of a political group a few years ago to get petition signatures. It was horribly awkward.

However, once the ice is broken, I'm fine. I can bullshit talk about 'most any topic that I find remotely interesting, and my panicky coping skills charm generally takes over. The way that petition thing worked out was that my partner roped the people in, then I would take over to stump and answer questions. It's a complementary strengths strategy that works well.

They say having a kid with you is a good icebreaker. I can therefore conclude that identical twins, bless their tiny four-chambered hearts, will be the ultimate and permanent solution to my problem - until they move out, at which point I'm screwed.
Liss learned from her substitute OB that until recently, it was standard medical practice to put women with multiples on bedrest at 28 weeks. That's May 17th to us, which would really mess with our lives. It's still possible, but at least it's no longer mandatory.
All other things being equal, if twins are born 5 minutes apart, there is a 1 in 288 chance that they'll be born on different days. Liss thinks this could be cool, because they'd get their own birthdays. However, I wonder about poor Andrew thinking he's playing second fiddle his entire life. Meanwhile, our friend Amy brought up the possibility of this happening on either side of two astrological signs. While I don't subscribe to that rigmarole, it would certainly be a conversation piece.
Belly pic from Thursday 3/13
From Liss:
I've never paid all that much attention to the debates about child pornography. There's not much personal connection for me: I am not a child, I have no interest in looking at children, and my own children are pretty well sheltered at the moment.

But at today's ultrasound, I got print-outs of the boys' magnificent, tiny genitals. We've scanned them for the spawn not-blog. Is this even legal?

Also, ultrasound has clearly risen to one of my top 10 inventions of the 20th century. Maybe even top 5 right now, up there with vaccines, airplanes, stand mixers and the internet.
There will be a baby shower in Liss's 4th grade classroom on Friday, May 9th. If my attendance at this event isn't proof that I love my wife, then I don't know what is.
While things are looking promising to the point of confidence, by no means are the boys out of the woods yet. Anything can happen. Therefore, we have to keep an eye on another date that seems very far away - 32 weeks' gestation. While it's true that modern medicine can save babies born before then, their chances of survival - especially without lifelong complications - greatly increase at 32. With the new due date, that date is now Saturday, June 14th. Since that's only four days before the aforementioned last day of school, I'm shifting it to June 18th and calling it the Red Letter Day.
As anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm not into normalcy. In fact, I often go out of my way to do things differently, push the envelope, challenge the status quo - whatever you want to call it, I'm the fly in your ointment, the monkey in your wrench.

However, when these ultrasounds and OB visits come back listing things like "growth normal, spines normal, heart size normal, heart rate normal, legs and feet normal, arms and hands normal, mother's blood pressure normal" and so on ... it's a major exception to the rule. Fortunately I can rationalize this rare embracement of averageness by telling myself that it's because I like the shiny graphs and numbers involved.

But as an aside, there's one thing that keeps coming back slightly above normal - head size. It makes sense; we Munger men have always been brainiacs first (endearingly awkward romantics a close second), and it looks like old A and B are striving to continue the tradition. But it might also be one reason Liss is considering a c-section.
As expected, the due date has officially changed. It's now August 9th. Again, since twins almost always come early, it's more a baseline for monitoring the growth of the feti rather than a date to expect delivery. However, it still means we get 11 more days until whatever "deadline" is coming, which is a pretty big deal for us. Our magic date is June 18th - the last day of school for Liss. Any sick time she has to take before then is just time she can't take off in the fall to take care of the newborn boys and keep them out of day care.

They each weigh right around half a pound.

Of course, what everyone really wants are pictures. :D So here you go, you voyeurs:

This was the only picture with both of them. I admit it looks a little ghoulish. The tick marks on the side with 0, 5 and 10 showing are centimeters.

Here you can see B's arm pretty well, as he tries to stuff his hand into his mouth. It seems he's also putting his elbow to his ear, which means he'll win lots of bar bets. The black spot you see is his stomach, which is partially full of ... swallowed amniotic fluid. Yum!

'Nuff said.

March 9th - 19 weeks?

This isn't a knock on my employer, but society in general: I'm amazed that I have to choose between going to work and going with my wife to see how she and the boys are progressing.
I got my annual bonus at work today. The sad part is that with this, our tax refund, and later our tax "rebate," I immediately convert the amount into how much day care it will buy. What's sadder is the low number I come up with.
Our first experiment with the flushable diapers was a failure. We consider this a setback of catastrophic proportions.
Something we only recently found out and seems to be a common misconception (like we had): identical twins are not a hereditary trait. Fraternal twins, however, are.
From Liss:
All those people who gush, "Oh, pregnancy is such a beautiful time" can go to hell. True, I want this. True, I mostly feel fine--my back is sore and I yawn a lot, but whatever. To me, the frustrating thing is this: I swear my IQ has dropped 30 points in the past four months.

Things I can't do include: This morning I got out both the juice and cream cheese and put them away without pouring anything or spreading anything on my bagel. I opened a new thing of dishwasher goo instead of replacing the garbage bag. This is basic, basic stuff and it's harder now than I ever remember calculus being. You used to be able to do differential equations, dammit! Now you can't match your own shoes!

I'm great at eating (I'll eat you if you're not careful). And producing mucous. And snoring, apparently. And worrying about how wrong everything can go, how sick the babies might be (I might be), how there's no way we can afford two babies, how they're going to get mugged and turned into religious fundamentalists and also never voluntarily change their underwear.

James has pregnancy brain too, at least the worry worry worry part. Let's hope he doesn't gain the 40 pounds to go with it.
We went to the "new and expecting" sub-group of the multiples club last night. It was much more practical than the main membership meeting. We met others in our situation and others who have been in our situation.

There was also a policeman there to give a lecture on - well, it was billed as Infant Safety, but it was really Crime Prevention. It's still useful information, but to us "Infant Safety" means household safety, like baby gates and plug covers. He did give us some good car seat information, though - like don't buy used because it's the styrofoam that protects the kid, and styrofoam hardens in about five years. So those'll go on the registry once we find one we like. We need at least four of them, though we did get gifted one that's only a year old.

The night's Holy Moley award went to a woman who has three teenagers and is now expecting triplets. Here's hoping her current kids will help with the newborns instead of taking advantage of the distractions.
The monthly multiples group newsletter lists new member mothers, but not dads. Between that and other context clues, it appears they're still of the opinion that my responsibilities with regards to child rearing are to earn a paycheck, help pick out a puppy when they're six, and offer sage advice as they enter a turbulent but blossoming adolesence. While smoking a pipe.
According to Target's baby registry, someone in Texas with my first/last name had a son in February. I'd just like to publicly state that it's a different person. :-D
Before the extra ultrasound (see below), the tech asked if we wanted to know the sex. With all the other goings on, it wasn't on our priority list, i.e. the answer was "if we find out, we find out." Maybe closer to the birth we'd want to know, but now? Meh.

But in the middle of her exam, there it was - a penis. (We're calling them "winkies" for now.) In fact, good ol' "A" wasn't trying to hide the evidence - quite the opposite, really. Perhaps he has a good future in porn.

Not to be outdone, Yon Winkie of "B" was also on proud display during his exam, as if to say "Hello World! Look what I'll be using to pee on my dad's face while he changes my diaper!"

March 2nd - 18 weeks?

She felt the first definitely-not-maybe kicks Thursday.
Due to the snoogle and/or pregnancy, Liss is snoring some now. Don't tell her I told you.
Our due date of July 30 was determined during the first OB visit, slightly modifying the July 31 of the initial positive pregnancy test, which is found from trying to guess when the egg popped. Ever since, every ultrasound and doctor's visit has brought up the conversation that maybe that was too early ... but let's keep it at July 30. At least five professionals brought it up independently, but the date was kept.

So a few weeks ago, Liss got a quad screen, which came back with an elevated (but still small) risk of certain major complications. They scheduled an extra, symptoms-specific ultrasound and what-if counseling for this past Tuesday, which we didn't tell anyone about. We were scared enough without needing to get people scared for us. We went in thinking that'd she'd get an amniocentesis unless the ultrasound and counseling showed good reason not to. That's exactly what happened - the risk went from small to miniscule based on the ultrasound. So, she didn't get the amnio.

Instead, the ultrasound tech and counselors (again, independently) suggested that our due date was too early. They were so confident of that that they used it in recalculating the risks. Tonight, we got confirmation from the OB: he's probably moving the date, and if the original blood screen numbers were plugged into the new due date, the screen would have come back completely normal. In other words, we were very worried for nothing.

But that's all history now. The babies are doing well and are practically dancing the Macarena in there.
Pooch pic from Thursday 3/6.
The house was broken into today (3/5). While that's not directly baby related, it does confirm my suspicions that there are criminal elements in our neighborhood. That's indirectly baby related, for sure.
I have been rendered obsolete.

February 24th - 17 weeks

Pooch pic from Thursday 2/28.
I say below that I hoped I wouldn't be three dads among fifty moms at the multiples group meeting. I wasn't, but only because there were thirty moms instead of fifty. Apparently, though, those monthly meetings are more administrative than the sub-group meetings, which we'll also be looking into. For example, there's a group for "expecting, through six months." That'll be more relevant for us than last night's discussion about how to stave off cabin fever with your squirmy toddler twins.

A big part of the main meeting was a vote to change the by-laws, complete with apologies to the new people that meetings weren't normally so businesslike. We couldn't help but laugh at the similarities to the chorus.
Monday evening, we'll be attending the monthly meeting of a parents of twins group. The name and literature are very Mom-centric, which I suppose is to be expected, but still. I hope I'm not one of three dads among fifty moms. Either way, it kind of feels like my first chorus rehearsal all over again.

February 17th - 16 weeks

It's been 11 days since we found out it was twins. It feels like eons ago.
Pooch pic from Thursday 2/21.
There is definitely a FAQ list to the twins: identical, no fertility treatments, no in-vitro, not conjoined, a little history in her family, due July 30th but that won't happen, 33-36 weeks, they're our first, end of school June 18th, 60 stairs to her classroom. This must be what celebrities go through.
Liss has given in and purchased maternity clothes. The next month or so will be a transitional period, so it's just a few things so far. It's more the psychological part (denial of denial) that's noteworthy.
As one might imagine, we've learned a lot this week. Everything changes with twins - due date, potential complications, costs, caretaking logistics, etc. I've gone from elated to panicky to focused in four days.

While the due date is still July 30th, most twins are born around 33-36 weeks. Fortunately, there's a lot of support out there. We've joined a parents of multiples group, which has a huge garage-like sale in April. Plus, many of our friends have offered various means of help. We're also looking at getting a doula for the first postpartum week or so.

Since these will be our first children, we're going through all the normal stuff for the first time, as well. I've never changed a diaper. We have no idea how Liss's body will cope (pretty well so far). The house needs lots of babyproofing. The cats are a big question mark.

Then, once they're here, we actually have to be parents or something. Apparently these things don't raise themselves.

While twins - especially identicals - are quite the novelty, we're going to try to make sure to foster their individuality as well. So, that's been another source of learning as well. After all, they can't be exactly alike if they're going to be the next Mozart and Bill Gates.

February 11th - 15 weeks

Liss picked me up from work today so I could see the kid for the first time during her ultrasound appointment. When the tech fired it up, I noticed two round things instead of one, and wondered if it meant what I thought it meant. A few seconds later, the tech asked "did they tell you it was two last time?" Why, no. No, they didn't. And that's how the news broke:


The tech immediately informed us that the appointment would run long, as she basically had two exams to conduct. Normal heartbeats, normal growth, and so on. We got a few pictures, but this is the only one with both in it.

It seems that "B" likes to hide, while "A" is practically ready for the Olympics. There's only one placenta, which means one fertilized embryo split, so they're identical twins. We couldn't establish the sex.

After the ultrasound, we saw (I met) the OB, who was apologetic for not finding two last time. Otherwise, he said everything seems a go, though he cautioned us that twins require closer monitoring. She'll be going in about once a month for now. For the record, I liked him quite a bit.

February - 14 weeks

You can feel "something" going on in the pooch area.
Liss is in that gray area between "regular clothes are too tight" and "maternity clothes are too loose." She bought a couple of waistbands for the interim.

January 26th, 2008 - 13 weeks

Liss was feeling dizzy Friday evening and Saturday morning, which is apparently a common thing about now. She's since recovered and written about it thusly:
I was born two months early. My brother was three weeks early, after my mom was on bed rest for three ("and a half!") weeks. I know medicine has improved since the 1970s, but still. Having a similarly short torso, and being her own offspring, I'm not convinced I'll go full-term (end of July); nor am I convinced that I will finish this thing without being put on bed rest.

Well, I'm practicing today. Apparently my blood pressure is down, which means I'm light-headed. It's almost unbearable to be upright for longer than it takes to pee. It's not a big worry, it's just annoying. I'm supposed to be working out and grocery shopping and cleaning the house. Instead I stayed in bed for as long as I could stand it, then carefully got dressed and headed down to the sofa. On my left side, as prescribed.

What I'm most worried about is starvation, of course. I'm the cook around here, and it's hard to eat cereal lying down. But it turns out that James makes a very nice PB&J on toast--barely crisped, just the way I like it--so I'm good for now.

Thank goodness this happened on a Saturday, though. And I have Monday off if I need to head to the doctor for further investigation.

Addendum: Apparently by now I'm supposed to have 50% more blood coursing through my body than I did a few months ago. Fifty percent: that's a lot. If it hasn't been keeping up quite enough, well, I learned today what can happen. Rest, iron, liquids, I'm fine now. Not so fine that I want to cook an elaborate dinner, but fine enough to make my own PB&J if I'd sent James out for milk, say. Fine enough that I could work like this, though the 55 stairs up to my room would be tricky.
Sunday I asked if she'd had the baby yet. She said no. In fact, she said I'd know if she had. Personally, I think she places way too much faith in my powers of observation.
Expanding on the color-of-furniture thing from earlier - the idea of white baby furniture seems laughable.
I'm noticing more gray hairs lately. Marriage, age, baby, work, or all of the above?
I might as well use this space and its built-in captive audience to advertise my pools site; there's still time to join the Oscar pool, with March Madness coming in ... well, you know.

January 19th, 2008 - 12 weeks

Publicly announced the pregnancy.
Target's baby registry gives you the following options for the year of the expected date of delivery: 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. That seems overly optimistic to me - or pessimistic depending on your point of view.
It seems that a primary concern among baby furniture buyers is ... color. Apparently people are very keen on matching the changing station to the crib to the wall paint to the diapers. For the record, we have no such ambitions.
We'll be looking into something new - flushable diapers. If we find them useful versus the cost/mess of disposables or cloth, we just might declare them the Invention of the Century, despite its youth.
There is no romantic way to shop for breast pumps.
Given its genetic history, this kid has a good chance to see the year 2100. That blows me away.
Lissa feels "thick," in that there are no external signs she's pregnant, but clothes are starting to tighten up.
When the description of a baby product includes the phrase "precious little miracle," it's a safe bet we'll stop reading and move on.

December 25th - 8 weeks

Had to make Christmas phone calls to the family without telling them about the pregnancy. James's mom later calls him a "stinker" when she realizes what he'd done.

December 4th - 5 weeks

Lissa, going for an ultrasound for other things, took a home pregnancy test after waking up to make sure she didn't look foolish by not knowing something that important beforehand. It was positive.

August 2007

Started trying.