Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Mayor of Peepiss Town

So this one should definitely be filed under weird shit The Barbarian and I do as parents. And make room. It's gonna be a big file.

Both of our families are a bit strange, but creatively and awesomely so (mostly...?). However, I think maybe The Barbarian's family takes the cake in terms of the wealth of bizarre traditions, nicknames, euphemisms, stories, and the like belonging to them. The Barbarian and his sister Auntie Smellia, close in age and just plain close, apparently grew up in the most fantastical world of imaginative delight. Seriously, these two were like the coolest weird kids ever. They held mock trials for their delinquent stuffed animals and traded messages at bedtime via Grandpa Walrus, posing as their alter egos, New Zealand John and Big Boss Diane. And no, they're not named any version of John or Diane. I mean, you can't make this shit up. Well, you can technically, because they did. But you know what I mean. They were NERDS. Big, epically awesome nerds. My siblings and I just held each other down and farted on one another. Ours was a different brand of epically awesome...something. 

Anyway. One of my favourite concepts of theirs has always been the mythical and magical land known as Peepiss Town. What is Peepiss Town, you ask? Well, it's where you go to pee or take a piss. OBVIOUSLY. So when you have to pee, you announce that you are "going to Peepiss Town." Isn't that grand? I mean, in reality, the idea of a town everyone uses specifically as a depository for urine is utterly disgusting, even for me. But somehow, framed as this juvenile euphemism for peeing, it simply sparks my imagination and childish delight. Because I'm strange. I know. 

Now, then. When you have twins, there is, of course, a natural tendency to want to compare them, and it's something of which The Barbarian and I work to be really conscious. Obviously there's no way to completely avoid it, but we do try to minimize the practice so there isn't this air of competition all the time. That is, until it comes to comparing wet diapers first thing in the morning. Because, dangus. Those are some seriously hefty diapers after 11 or 12 hours. And yes, that means no, we don't change diapers overnight. I think maybe we did when they were super tiny, but it didn't last long. Our goal is to keep them asleep, not wake them up to perform their least favourite activity in the middle of the night. That's just setting everyone up for failure, and we like to keep things positive around these parts. Positive parenting through grossly saturated diapers. Whatever works, right? 

So first thing in the morning... Okay, that's not true--we stay in bed for a while pretending the babies aren't actually awake as they sing and jump on our bladders, then we, surprise, empty said abused bladders, and someone puts the kettle on. I mean, I already made it pretty clear their diapers are not really a priority for us, so don't act all shocked. Let's start again, then. 

So when we get around to it sometime after everyone's awake in the general vicinity of first thing in the morning, we change the beebs' diapers and cannot help afterwards but compare the two little wrapped up packages that fit so nicely in our hands (am I the only one who appreciates the perfect tidiness of a nicely rolled with tabs folded in diaper? Yes? Okay, then.). And we get pretty technical about it too, holding them simultaneously while gently lifting them up and down to gauge which one's heavier. If we had a digital kitchen scale, we would totally use that shit for this. Wait. OH, MY GODS, WE NEED A DIGITAL SCALE. That would change everything. Wow. Mind blown. 

Okay, so once we have determined whose diaper weighs more, that beeb is declared--you guessed it--Mayor of Peepiss Town. Because why wouldn't the baby with the most pee in their diaper get to be the Mayor of Peepiss Town? It actually makes perfectly logical sense if you think about it. So, in fact, refile this under perfectly logical shit The Barbarian and I do as parents that you wish you had thought of first. Not sure on the size of this file yet, though. Jury's still out.

Now, for all of you wondering (and I know you are), the election process goes like this. A new election is held every morning, and the amount of pee contained in each diaper act as votes, with the heaviest diaper obviously containing the most votes. Sometimes votes are lost if we have a leaking incident prior to our lazy asses actually changing diapers. And that's basically too bad for the candidate in question. We call it the "hanging chad" effect and we do not, I repeat, do NOT count hanging chads. How would we even logistically do that? So, no. Votes lost are votes lost.

Sometimes, though, a candidate will attempt to gain the upper hand by winning votes from Poo County. The votes from Poo County come from the sort of fringe citizens living outside the town proper, and they are notoriously difficult to convince to participate in the very democratic process of choosing a new town mayor. They can only be convinced to vote in about a quarter of all elections, and that's generally only after some heavy canvassing on the part of the candidates' campaign teams, run by either of our two resident campaign managers, Pig or Furry Bubba. Furry Bubba is a much more effective manager, whereas Pig is simply more than a bit apathetic about the whole thing. Consequently, the beebs are constantly attempting to lure Furry Bubba to their campaign with promises of more highchair droppings, and he's not particularly loyal in the realm of politics, so he bounces back and forth. Technically, the voting rights status of folks living in the greater Poo County region as it pertains to electing a town mayor is, and always has been, in question. But we let these votes stand, as separating them from the proper town votes is essentially not a venture we're willing to undertake "first thing" in the morning, also known as ever.

Occasionally there is a recount. Normally either The Barbarian or I count the votes and declare a winner, but sometimes the count is so close, we must consult and have a recount. These are very tense mornings. But transparency and fairness are of utmost importance in the politics of our house, so we work tirelessly until we're confident of the outcome. Okay, not really. Especially if the kettle is whistling. But you get my point.

And on very rare occasions, no clear winner can be determined, so we have a runoff. The first person to receive late votes from Poo County is then officially declared Mayor of Peepiss town for the day. Poo County is very influential. The gerrymandering in the evenings is just ridiculous, basically producing a new map every day. It's really quite challenging to keep track of it all. But what kind of parents would we be if we didn't?  

So that, my friends, is how The Barbarian and I begin every day--by holding an election for Mayor of Peepiss Town featuring our 11-month-old twins as candidates and their pee-soaked diapers as votes.

Now you know.                 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hiding in the bathroom

A basic fact about being a mama to wee folk is that you are always "on." And again, even more so with twins. Yes, having two young children of any age is challenging, but even a year's difference in age makes a huge impact on their needs and level of independence. Having two of the same age means they essentially always need the same thing at the same time--and that, my friends, makes for some serious juggling on the part of the mama.

Being that we practice what some call "attachment parenting" (AP), but what I tend to refer to as "instinctual" or "intuitive" parenting (if you are meeting the very real needs of your child in a way that feels good in your heart and core, regardless of what some "expert" in some books says, then you're doing it right), the beebs have spent the vast majority of their lives thus far physically attached to someone, mostly me, of course, with The Barbarian coming in a close second because he's awesome like that. They get nursed, held, cuddled, carried, worn, and they sleep on or next to us. And we wouldn't have it any other way. We'll be super sad when they're too old and busy for constant cuddles. In fact, I'm sad just thinking about it. 

However, that is not to say I love every minute of it. Because I most certainly do not. Seriously, a ten minute chunk of my day can and does often look like this:

I'm sitting on the couch nursing one baby. 

Other baby comes over smelling decidedly like crap (and that's pronounced "crepe" in my house, the American pronunciation, of course...and don't ask...that one's The Barbarian's doing). 

I put first baby down so I can lift other baby up to change his/her diaper. 

First baby cries and fusses and tries to crawl back up into my lap while I am attempting to wipe crap off other baby's bum and not get any on the couch, my hands, other baby's hands, first baby's hands, etc. (yes, they've recently found their bits and it's wuv, twoo wuv, especially for King Toad Agooga--go figure). 

Other baby cries and fusses and flails and makes every attempt to get out of my reach, off the couch, to Mexico, etc. 

I finish with other baby and set him/her back on the floor so I can lift first baby back up to finish nursing. 

Other baby waits till first baby is latched back on before deciding he/she too would like to nurse. 

I lift other baby up to nurse without even unlatching first baby. I am that amazing. 

I nurse both babies for a minute until other baby decides she/he didn't really want to nurse, but instead wanted to use the location advantage to climb onto the side table next to the couch. 

I strong arm other baby off the side table and back down to the floor while keeping first baby latched. Yep, you guessed it. Amazing abounds.  

Other baby cries and fusses and wants back up. 

First baby pops off the boobie and slides off the couch (sometimes, as in the case of King Toad Agooga, the sliding off happens before the popping off...it's as fantastic as it sounds). 

I pick other baby back up and ask if he/she wants to nurse a bit more. He/she clearly indicates the desire to either a) get back on the side table, or b) climb up the back of the couch in an attempt to faceplant on the hardwood, so we both get down off the couch. 

I find first baby under dining room table eating a piece of mail that has been blown off said table by the ceiling fan. 

I remove piece of mail and small chewed up bits from first baby's mouth. 

First baby cries and fusses. 

I find something to distract first baby. 

I hear massive thud and look over to see that other baby has fallen off/over a box/toy/him/herself and rush to pick him/her up. 

First baby takes opportunity to bother Pig, the decidedly less beeb-friendly of our two beasts. 

I rush over to remove first baby from Pig's bed while still comforting other baby. 

First baby goes back for more. They are nothing if not tenacious. 

I remove first baby yet again and relocate Pig to the other side of the baby gate in the hall (poor, poor Pig), while still comforting other baby. 

Other baby finally decides he/she is ready to get back down. 

Just then, first baby knocks over the water glass I thought was out of reach (silly mama) and spills it all over him/herself and the floor.

I head for a towel...

And it goes on like this all day. ALL. DAYExcept for when they're sleeping, of course, in which case they're tucked into my armpits. A vast improvement on some levels, to be sure, but I'm sure you caught the part where they're still ATTACHED TO MY PERSON, even in sleep? Again, I truly wouldn't have it any other way. But sometimes, just sometimes, I have the overwhelming urge to quietly slip out the front door while they're otherwise engaged, head to the pub, order a pitcher for one, and pretend I don't have children for a few hours. It's true. I make The Barbarian hide my keys sometimes so I can't, because I am far too lazy to walk to the pub. Just kidding. About the keys. Mostly.

So what do I do instead when I have support and the opportunity presents itself? I do what undoubtedly all mamas, but especially, it turns out, mamas of multiples, do--I hide in the bathroom.

I believe it may have been The Barbarian who first used that phrasing many months ago when it had become a discernible pattern, as in, calling from the other room, "Don't hide for too long in there." And I had to laugh because that's exactly what I had taken to doing. 

Now, I'm totally not that completely anal, OCD martyr of a mama who is convinced only she can and should care for her children at all times. I take help whenever and wherever (if not necessarily from whomever...these are my children we're talking about, after all) I can get it. But the truth is that, especially when they were younger and nursing more, they needed me (I absolutely loathe pumping and, therefore, they have had very few bottles of expressed milk in their lives). And oftentimes they just want me. And honestly, I know what it takes to handle them both, so even when it's The Barbarian on duty, I feel bad just leaving them to someone else.

So whenever I'm not "on," so to speak, with the babies, I'm ostensibly "on" in some other capacity befitting a person engaged in my line of work--I'm cooking, cleaning, running errands, doing laundry, etc. I'm not out on the patio lounging in the sun, drinking a mojito and reading nerdy non-fiction (as opposed to the seemingly requisite or predictable trashy novel of my station in life--I don't do trashy novels...I find them...trashy). I'm doing something that needs to get done. I'm attempting to make a dent in the chaos that is my life and home. I'm being productive.

But when I'm in the bathroom, attending to very real and pressing needs, I find that after I've actually been...productive...I'm not in any real hurry to get up. And seeing as I always visit the loo with my handy-dandy iPhone (sometimes even my MacBook), the situation lends itself perfectly for taking a real break just for myself. To peruse Facebook or read articles or send emails or texts or, even, blog. I can justify it because I can't very well NOT go to the bathroom, but who's to say how long such things actually need to take? Seeing as we have only one bathroom, on occasion The Barbarian will come interrupt, but who's really going to come bother a mama in the bathroom? I mean, rude people, sure. But I try to limit my exposure to rude people in my own home. Don't you?

So I take advantage of that fact and I hide. Sometimes I hide until my feet fall asleep. True story.

Because, seriously, being able to go to the bathroom ALONE and without being subjected to the pitiful cries of my poor abandoned children on the other side of the baby gate in the hall is, like, I don't know. I don't even know what it's like. But whatever that thing is that it's like, that thing is full of awesome. That I do know.

A while back, another mama in my fabulous Facebook group for parents raising multiples in the style we do, asked how other mamas found time for themselves. I was highly entertained and delighted to see that I was not the only one who answered, "I hide in the bathroom."

So fair warning: This and any future post you may read has a very high likelihood of having been composed, at least in part, while I hid in the bathroom.

And I know you wanted to know that.

You're welcome.      

Friday, July 5, 2013

The hazards of not putting your boobies away

...or, An example of the resounding awesomeness of The Barbarian. 

The phenomenon of new breastfeeding mamas forgetting to put their boobies away was first pointed out to me by our apprentice midwife a few weeks after the beebs were born when, being a stellar photographer in addition to her talents helping mamas and babies in their transition to happy dyad, she stopped by to take some newborn shots of The Goblin Queen and King Toad Agooga. Ehren was helping her with one while I sat on the floor nursing the other, and at one point she looked over and asked if she could capture me nursing as well. I readily agreed, but before she took any photos, she casually mentioned that my other boobie was out, just in case I wanted to put it away before she began. I laughed and tucked it away, having been completely unaware that it was exposed. She shrugged and said that all new mamas forget to put their boobies away. It was just the way of things. 

And it is totally the way of things. You are nursing so, so much in the beginning--and doubly so with twins--that it seems rather pointless to ever put them away. Having them out just becomes your natural state and makes the whole affair that much easier. It was months, I think, before I became more aware of and consistent about putting my boobies away. Guests in my house just simply had to deal with that fact. I am not really a modest person to begin with and at that point viewed my boobies as exactly what they are--the parts of my body with which I fed, comforted, and put my babies to sleep. Simple as that. No reason for anyone to get embarrassed. And I am ridiculously lucky to have two families and a group of friends who have been beyond supportive in my breastfeeding the beebs. I realize not every mama has that and truly feel extraordinarily lucky. 

And I loved the phrase so much, I still say, "Hold on, let me put my boobie(s) away" to the babies when they're ready to move on to the next thing. And I'm still lazy about latching my nursing bra or buttoning up my tank when it's just us around the house because, well, because it's MAH HOUSE. And if you don't like it, you can get the fuck out. Goonie goo goo. 

So it was this afternoon after I nursed the beebs ahead of The Barbarian taking them on a "seepy walk." Their morning nap is usually pretty solid, but the afternoon one can be hit or miss, and when he's home, The Barbarian will often take them for a walk in an attempt to get them to sleep somewhere/how other than me lying down with them in bed so I can actually try to get some stuff done. In this case, it was so I could run to the store and start prepping meals to freeze for later in the week, an efficiency/streamlining technique I've been wanting to try out. 

They got loaded up and left, leaving the front door open and the screen unlatched and just resting against the jamb, as I would be leaving that way momentarily. I sat back down at the dining room table to go over my list one more time, but Pig and Apacolips, our beasts, began barking at something through the screen door, so I got up and put them out back, where they were headed shortly once I left anyway. 

I sat back down, facing the front door, as it opens into the dining room half of our main front room, and heard footsteps coming up the porch steps. I assumed The Barbarian had forgotten something and didn't even glance up until I heard a voice I didn't recognize. It wasn't The Barbarian at all, but two men, one older at the base of the steps and one younger right up against the unlatched screen door, both in the uniforms and hats of some company. 

And there I was, sitting not 12 feet away, my nursing bra pulled up on both sides but in danger of falling, as it wasn't latched, and my tank unbuttoned down past my breasts and completely open (I had intended to change to go to the store, so hadn't bothered doing it all back up). I was completely and thoroughly caught off guard. SHIT. Do I take a minute to latch and button and draw attention to the fact that my tits are basically hanging out? I started to, but saw the guy smirk, so stopped and just crossed my arms over my chest as I quickly tried to figure out what the fuck they wanted so I could tell them to GTFO. 

They were from some independent energy company trying to sell us their services by starting off saying they work "for" or "with" our current provider, which is an obnoxious load of crap. I called our provider after the last guy asked to see my bill to make sure I was "getting my discounts." I was told they had no affiliation, but, unfortunately, it's not illegal for them to say that they do to get a foot in the door, so to speak (literally?). 

Realizing it was the same scenario as last time, I was repeatedly telling him we weren't interested as I moved the toy storage ottoman propping the front door open out of the way so I could close it (King Toad Agooga likes to try to smash The Goblin Queen in between the door and the screen while she kneels or stands and innocently surveys her goblin domain...or maybe not so innocently...in either case, hence the ottoman). 

While I'm doing this, the guy is right up to the screen, creepily leering at my breasts with this disgusting smirk on his face, asking me question after question apparently in an attempt to prolong his viewing pleasure even though I am literally closing the door in his face as he leans sideways to get one more glimpse before I finally manage to.

Now, obviously, I was pissed and thoroughly creeped out, but for a split second, I was downright scared. I fully admit that. And I wouldn't say I scare easily in those types of situations. But my husband and children were gone, my trusty beasts were behind a sliding glass door, I was feeling completely vulnerable in my exposed state, and there was literally nothing stopping those men from coming into my house. And again, I am not one to worry or fret about that type of thing most of the time. But this scared me. The energy coming off that guy was not good. 

I was so upset once they left that I let the dogs in and didn't even want to leave the house to go to the store. I texted The Barbarian to tell him what happened, and when I didn't hear back (because his phone was on silent), I called. He finally answered and read the texts while we were on the phone...and then I just broke down. I was that upset. 

And what really upset me the most is that I was in that state of not-completely-covered because I had been FEEDING MY BABIES, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE. I wasn't just hanging around the house with my boobs ready to pop waiting for your sorry ass to show up at my door and ogle them. I had, moments before, been nursing my beloved progeny in the hopes it would soothe them and fill their bellies so that they might fall asleep in the stroller, saving me the time it would take to nap with them so that I could grocery shop in order to feed my family--not even my favourite activity either (the shopping bit, not the feeding people bit...that I most certainly love). It was an innocent and natural and special occurrence, and yet I felt somehow ashamed or embarrassed or foolish or something I shouldn't have been made to feel in the aftermath of our encounter (and yes, I fully realize I chose to feel that way, but seriously, this just in--the tests came back and I AM human...mostly). 

And for whatever reason, the fact that that seriously yucky and slightly scary interaction was in any way related to me nursing just really got to me. I felt taken advantage of by a total creeper in my own house. A polite person would have maybe, I don't know, TURNED AROUND for a godsdamn minute when he realized I had been caught with my...nursing bra...down. Or at least averted his eyes for a second. Or something. But he didn't. He chose to be an asshole. 

And we all make choices. The Barbarian made a choice too. He arrived home a little while later (to my relief) and as I was helping him extract the babies from the stroller, he told me the most fantastic thing. He had spied what he (correctly) assumed were those same men on his way home, and guess what? He approached them, told them they had thoroughly creeped out his wife, demanded an apology (which he got), made them write down our address, and told them to never come to our house again. HAH! And he said the younger guy, who had been so forward with me, wouldn't even look him in the eyes. Why? BECAUSE HE KNEW HE HAD BEEN AN ASSHOLE, THAT'S WHY. 

So, basically, I just have one question: How awesome is my husband, right? RIGHT? 

The end. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Of mamas, new and not so new

I said I would touch on my changed view of babies' sleep habits and needs and link to some of the super useful and awesome websites I've found that have helped me get there in this post, but I've changed my mind. And I get to do that. Because this is my blog. NEAT.

I do actually want to start off by talking about sleep, though--at least as much as to say that my family is sleeping and I am not. As the beebs' first birthday quickly approaches and the reality of that just completely and thoroughly blows my mind, I often find myself wondering how much longer I can refer to myself as a "new mama." When does one cross over from "new" to just plain ol' "mama?" Because new mamas are supposed to sleep when their baby/ies is/are sleeping, but I woke up at 5:30 to nurse The Goblin Queen and once she was back asleep, decided getting up by myself in a quiet house sounded better than continuing to sleep for several more hours.

Did you catch that? I chose something else over SLEEP. Sleep, that most necessary of requirements of which I have experienced so little over the past 20 months or so. I was plagued by insomnia in my early pregnancy, was too uncomfortable to sleep well in my late pregnancy, and once they made their debut, well, all bets were off in that department. Apparently I handle sleep deprivation very well according to most everyone I know. I have gotten countless and continuous comments in that vein over the months. But it seemed to have caught up with me recently and the normal forgetfulness and missing words on the tip of my tongue turned into dropping things, breaking things, knocking things over, doing bizarre things and having zero recollection of them afterwards. I made it a priority to make sure I was eating regularly after that and made myself nap with the babies when I could. And right around that time we changed up our bedtime routine to me actually just going to bed with the babies around 9pm. I don't sleep right away, of course, but I think just having that extra time in bed is helping.

Which brings us to this morning and my choice to sneak out of bed (not the easiest task when one sleeps between two tiny sleeping grenades, seemingly ready to rouse at any minute), make a cup of coffee, and actually get on my computer, as opposed to doing everything from my phone, which is decidedly more mobile (hah!) and easier to use while nursing or flitting from room to room after two whirling dervishes. And, as luck would have it, the oddest thing just occurred as I was literally about to describe my babies as hand grenades--one woke up. Can you believe it? King Toad Agooga had woken when The Goblin Queen did and wanted to nurse, but as he had just nursed not long before, I handed him off to The Barbarian, on whose chest he happily went back to sleep...until a few minutes ago. But really, a little boobie does wonders for sleepy toads and goblins alike, and I chose, once again, to sneak back out to my now less-than-ideally hot coffee (I am nothing if not fussy about the temperature of my coffee...and beer, for that matter...but for completely opposite reasons, of course) and trusty computer (have I mentioned how much I love my computer? No? A post for another time then).

So why, if I am normally so freaking exhausted, I don't even feel like mustering the energy to shower when I have the chance, am I up long (hopefully) before everyone else? Well, it's quite possibly because I am SICK OF LYING IN BED NURSING BABIES AND TRYING TO GET ONE OR MORE (PREFERABLY MORE) OF US TO SLEEP. Seriously, people. If the ALL CAPS didn't tip you off, let me just take a moment to clarify that that statement is so full of truth, it's not even funny. It's far from funny. Very far. Like, all the way far. Far, far away. In a galaxy. Wait.

For the record, I LOVE nursing my babies to sleep. I really, really do. And I believe I love it precisely because it's the way the whole system is set up to work. It feels right and good and satisfying, to all of us. But, dangus. I spend a lot of my time doing just that. And, honestly, after nearly 11 months, it gets a little old sometimes.

And, if we're being honest here, after 11 months of being a "new mama," I think maybe I'm ready to just be a "mama" now. I'm ready to not desire only to sleep when I have the opportunity. I'm ready to not feel like I am merely treading water when it comes to keeping house. I'm ready to put even whatever tiny bit of time and energy I can scrounge up into pursuits other than filling tiny bellies and wiping tiny bums and making sure we all have what we need to eke by every day. Because just doing all that is exhausting--just as exhausting as it is to actually do all that. If that makes any sense. It very well may not. You should probably just get used to that.

I recently heard a new mama of twins, one with an older child already, mention that she felt she was spending the vast majority of her time nursing and wondered if she would ever not be. Her twins were some number of weeks old, like single digits. It definitely took me a lot longer to get to that point, and I'm sure having my twins first made a difference. And really, it's been a slow progression. From nursing round the clock, not really being able to put them down for any length of time, not showering or getting out of jams for days on end (it happens), not really thinking much beyond the current milk, sleep, and diaper needs...to nursing mostly during times associated with sleep, having an established mealtime routine several times a day, being able to put them down and watch them crawl (The Goblin Queen) and toddle (King Toad Agooga) off to engage in shenanigans big and small while I surreptitiously attempt some housework for a few minutes (I say surreptitiously because once they notice, they invariably want to "help," and we all know how "helpful" "help" from babies is...).

So somehow, suddenly, here we are. I'm thinking about the bigger picture of our lives and future again. I'm entertaining ideas of how we can live more sustainably and instill better habits and expectations in our children than the ones with which we were bestowed. I'm experimenting with ways to make our days and weeks go more smoothly so that instead of trying to play catchup on the laundry or dishes or vacuuming, our free time can be spent pursuing other interests like growing and preserving food, making things we might otherwise have purchased, exploring our community as a family, getting out in nature more.

And I'm still figuring out how my new life as a "mama," instead of my life as a "new mama," is going to look. What will my children's earliest memories of me entail? What will they grow up and tell others of the special days we spent together when they were small? What activities and routines and traditions will they make sure to do and keep alive with their own children one day because those things had such an important impact on them as children? Because, how lucky am I that this is my life and these are my children and these are our days? Our days to fill with whatever excitement, adventure, wonder, and magic we may find. And love. Lots and lots of love.

Especially, for now, as we nurse to sleep.