Day Two: The Day of the Poop

Jack went poopy today.
On the potty.

Those words may not seem to hold a lot of weight where you're sitting, but from here, it's a pure miracle.

Today started out a little rough. That's a lie. The whole day was rough.

I woke up the boys at 11pm to use the potty, but Ben couldn't go and Jack refused to let me take him out of his warm bed. I decided I would wake them up again at 5am, since their normal wakeup time was 7am. Except Ben woke up crying at about 3am; Andy went in and had him use the potty. He woke up at 3:45am and this time, I went in to find that both boys had wet underwear and clothes. I changed them both, their bedding and sent them back to bed. Ben woke up about 6:30am and ONLY wanted mommy to change him. I could tell he was wet again. But I had no idea he had actually pooped in his underwear until I tried slipping down the undies in the dark. And it wasn't a 'clean' poop, either. I'll just leave it at that. That poor boy's booty was pink all day - I have no idea how long he allowed himself to lay in that horrible mess. (Tonight, I'll be experimenting with waking them up at different times as I'm getting to know their peeing schedule through the night!)

So that was the start to my day. We were all exhausted. Overtired. Frustrated. And the boys were upset by the idea of bowel movements.

The thing is, the boys have never EVER gone poopy in the potty before. Never. They've been peeing in the potty once a day for a year, but no poop. I knew this would be adjustment, but never having done this before, I really had no idea what to expect.

After Ben's traumatic poop-in-the-underwear experience this morning, I was already hesitant about the day. So when I noticed Jack starting to go in his underwear around 9am, I raced him to the bathroom, pulled down his underwear and tried to let the poop fall in the potty. But just as his brother's was, Jack's poop was not a clean poop this time. Some of it spilled onto the floor and none of it went into the potty. My poor Jonathan was so concerned about the poop that fell onto the floor that he talked about it all day. And he was NOT about to let some o' that mess out again.

I could tell that he wanted to. He was obviously uncomfortable, walking around with his hands over his backside, almost as if he were trying to push it back in. And he was passing gas, sure signs that something wanted out. I tried to convince him to use the potty. "No, I push it in," he kept saying. Even before he went down for a nap, he'd run to the potty, saying, "I go potty," and then run back out saying, "No poopy, no poopy." It was just horrible. And the worst part was that he was extremely clingy. He had to be pasted to my chest or on my lap. All. Day. Long. As a pregnant mom of almost 31 weeks, this was extremely draining. He wanted to be carried, wherever I went. And this is while I'm following the moves of another potty training toddler, mind you. I kept trying to escape, take tiny breaks to get a glass of water or move the clothes from the washer into the dryer; but he just came back with vengence. I was obviously his security blanket. It was as if he didn't even trust himself to be alone. He was scared of that poop and wanted to be sure he held onto it as long as he could.

After they went down for their nap, I went online to get some encouragement for his lack-of-wanting-to-push-out-the-poop problem. Everything I read said not to push, to let him make it his own decision. If I did pressure/bribe him into it, I'd probably have to take a 2-week hiatus from potty training in order to clean the slate. Aye. I would try and relax. Let him take the lead. Convince him that this was his poop and he could do with it what he'd like. And I would also expect him to be glued to me for the rest of the day. And I would (try) not to mind.

They both woke up dry from their 2.5 hour naps - again - and I tried to see that as a piece of good news on this horrible day. Somehow, I made it through the afternoon until Andy came home at 6:15pm. Andy could have sworn Jack was sick, the way he was glued to his mommy. Then after another few rounds of "I go potty... no poopy, no poopy," I tried to encourage him to relax.

"I think your poopy wants to come out," I said.

"No, I push my poopy IN," he emphatically responded.

"I think your tummy would feel better if you let out your poopy. But you don't have to, if you don't want to."

At 7:06pm, Jack rushed to the bathroom with his hands covering his bare backside and sat on the toilet. I took out some of their bath toys, small little animals, and laid them on the side of the tub. "A rhino goes poopy... and so does a tiger." I could tell he was pushing and so not wanting to let on that I knew, I continued taking out his animals and lining them up.

"I did it, mommy! I go poopy in da potty!" I sniffed. Yup. He most certainly did. I yelled for Andy, who came running in with any extra praise that I wasn't already dishing out. Jack was smiling. He obviously felt better. But he still didn't like that poop. He wouldn't dump it into the toilet, but insisted his brother do it. We waved goodbye to the poopy and said a prayer of relief. He had held onto that poop - which thankfully, had become much more firm - for more than ten hours. Oh, the relief he must have felt!

I asked if we could call Nana, he said no. I asked if I could take a picture of the poop, he said no. I asked if I could give him a present, he said no. Alrighty, then. I guess I'll have to be satisfied with the knowledge of a job well done and the memory of The Day of the Poop.

He wanted me to carry him out of the bathroom and sit with him on the couch. He was glad that it was out, but it was still as if he were ashamed of the whole ordeal. But after a few minutes, he was himself again. Smiling, laughing and talking with his daddy about the big poop. It took ten hours, but I finally had my Jonathan back. Amen.

Now, it's onto Benjamin, who also had a somewhat traumatic poop experience this morning. I've got two words for you, little man: BRING IT.


Our Potty Progress, Day One

Woah. So many changes in such a short amount of time. A little ambitious, perhaps, for toddlers, but there's no turning back now!

Here's the long-story short:

The boys are now sleeping in their big boy beds and went one complete day with dry underwear. They even woke up from their 2-hour nap with dry underwear - both of them. Absolutely amazing. It was just the first day, though, so we'll see how things continue to progress from here!

Here's the long-story incredibly longer:

Big Boy Beds
We've had both twin beds in the boys' room for about a week now. And honestly, it was super chaotic. I felt like it was too much for them to handle, choosing between sleeping arrangements. They would literally bounce (and jump) between their beds to their cribs, back to their beds. But since I did want them to get used to seeing/being around their big bed, I wanted it in the same room. Naptimes had become a nightmare again. They'd start in their beds, but want ME to put them back in their cribs about ten minutes later. Then they'd change their mind again. Then they'd want a drink of water. It was just insane.

On Sunday afternoon, we built up the idea of the boys using Daddy's tools to take down their baby cribs. Emphasizing the excitable fact that they were Big Boys now (something they were quite confident of after ridding the house of their sippy cups,) they were thrilled to be part of it. Honestly, they were probably more interested in the tools than in the process, but even still, we managed to get both cribs out of the room with their cooperation and set up their Big Boy Beds in their place. They understood that their baby cribs were going in the garbage, even though Daddy put them in the basement. We'll be bringing one of them back up in a few weeks to set it up for our baby girl.

By the time everything was set, though, it was 2pm. And for boys who take a nap around 12/12:30pm, that was just not cutting it. They played and made noise in their rooms for an hour before we decided they weren't going to nap at all. We kept them busy for a while and made it an earlier bedtime.

Technically, they were in their beds at 7pm. Except Ben wouldn't stay. He was going ballistic. It's not that he was asking for his crib, but he refused to be alone. I did what I could to comfort him, but then I had to send in my reinforcements (i.e. Daddy.) Andy worked for 45 minutes, finally convincing them to stay in his bed. But that wasn't until Ben had exhausted every manipulative method he could think of to keep Daddy by his side, including screaming at the top of his lungs. I'm sure my aunt and uncle upstairs thought we were ripping out his fingernails. When he finally conceeded that Daddy's will was stronger than his, he gave up and laid down in his bed.

At around midnight, we heard one of them fall out of their bed. Now, I had put up every protective barrier I could think of to keep them in bed and then pillows and blankets to shield any kind of fall, so I knew he wouldn't have been hurt. Even still, Andy got up to be sure he was alright. "Hi guys," I heard him say as he rounded the corner. Huh? Are they both up? "G'night," he repeated back and then came back into bed. I looked at him expectantly for an answer. Apparently, Ben had fallen out of his bed and rather than get back into it, he crawled into his brother's bed just across the room. My heart just about melted. We have never put the boys in the same bassinet, crib or bed before. But he felt comforted being near his brother, so we let them stay together and they stayed in the same bed the entire night.

I refused to give Ben a sticker for following the Sleep Rules this morning because he had made such a fuss with Daddy last night and man, was HE mad. "No sticker prize, Mommy," he told me all morning. So at naptime, he was ready to redeem himself. I am constantly amazed at how much a sticker, a small prize or an M&M can motivate a toddler. Or an eleven-year-old. I used some of the same bribes... I mean rewards... with my sixth graders :)

Potty Training
As I said, I probably made too many changes at once, but when we started, I knew I couldn't go back. I wrapped up some Disney-themed underwear in wrapping paper and let them open it last night before they went to bed. I explained that in the morning, we would be getting rid of our baby diapers and instead, wearing Big Boy underwear. Ben was excited about the characters and wanted to try them on. Jack, on the other hand, was a little skeptical and wanted nothing to do with them.

After the boys went to bed, I "studied" the program again and tried to play out the possible scenarios in my head for what we had planned for the next morning. I felt like I was studying for a final. But this time, if I failed, I was taking more down than just a single grade.

I did as the program suggested: got myself dressed, teeth brushed and ready for the day. I changed the boys' diapers into clean ones and put their clothes on, too (as well as a clean diaper.) We all had breakfast and were happy and fed before I asked them boys to come sit on the couch. I'm glad that I had my camera closeby today, trying to capture different moments of the day, but I really wish I could have captured the two personalities that sat in front of me as I started my little speech.

Ben, Mr. People Pleaser, was so eager for our new adventure. He said all the right answers and his legs happily kicked over the side of the couch. Jack, much more cautious than his brother, sat back with his feet straight out in front of it and his head down, his eyes barely looking up. Such a picture! I reminded them of our conversation the night before, brought out the Big Boy underwear, and encouraged them to pick one out. Ben dove right in and finally decided on a red pair with Mr. Incredible on it. We put it on and he was glad to pose for a picture. Jack didn't want underwear. "No, my diaper," he kept repeating. Oh, geez. I hadn't anticipated anything but excitement. I kept distracting him with other activities - including 'throwing out' all the baby diapers in the house - until we followed his eager brother into the bathroom. He saw Ben get an M&M for going pee on the potty and decided he wanted one, too. It was about 40 minutes from start to finish that Mr. Jack finally put on a pair of Nemo underwear. Phew.

I kept reminding the boys to tell me if they had to go potty. You really do sound like a broken record after a while. Then I would ask if their underwear was dry, when I knew it was. Just an opportunity to praise them for their effort. They loved it. We called Daddy to tell them about their progress, we called my sister, we called my mom. My favorite was when Jack told my mom, "Nana, I went two times!" "I big boy," Ben explained. So so sweet.

They had no accidents and I never had to carry them mid-process to move them to the potty. That was one of my biggest fears being almost 31 weeks pregnant: I can't lift. At one point, I was in the kitchen toasting a PopTart when I saw Jack dart into the bathroom. "I go potty, Mommy!" he yelled back. Jack ended the day with the same pair of underwear he started with. I was absolutely astonished. At one point, I did exchange Ben's underwear for another pair because they seemed damp. Even then, I was encouraged because he was learning control! It seemed as if he started to go and then realized he needed to take it to the potty. Wonderful.

I had been pushing the liquids all morning, so I was a little worried about naptimes. We were doing this cold turkey, which meant they were going to be wearing underwear in their big boy beds. No diapers, no Pull-Ups. But not only did they sleep in THEIR beds for more than two hours before I woke them up, they BOTH woke up completely dry. I was absolutely astonished. Not sure if it was a fluke or if they're really getting it (because they were certainly drinking a lot!) but I was so so grateful. We made a few celebratory phone calls to share the joy and continued to keep ourselves busy.

At the end of the day, my biggest concern was the imminent poop. My boys have been doing extremely well going pee in the potty - we've been doing that for a year now, at least once a day - but they have never EVER gone poopy on the potty. The past few weeks, I could SEE them going in their diaper, but when I invited them to go in the potty, they flat-out refused. So when we ended our day without any poops in the potty, I tried to remain optimistic. We were saying our good nights when I smelled something rancid; one of the boys had gas.

But one look at Jack and we realized that it wasn't gas at all. He was going poop in his underwear! I was holding Ben, so I motioned to Andy to pick up Jack and take him to the potty. You're supposed to catch them 'in the act,' so you could bring them right to the potty so they come to make that association. That poor kid was entirely freaked out! He was still screaming when Andy pulled down his underwear and let his feces drop in the potty. He was probably so confused when the two of us were hooting with excitement at his development. "Look what you did! Your poopy is in the potty!" Through his tears, he allowed himself to see the thing he created. Still crying, he wasn't sure what to think. But after a few minutes of praise, cleaning and new underwear, we encouraged him to dump his poop in the potty and flush it down. At the end of the ordeal, he was pretty pleased with himself.

The boys went down pretty well after two trips to the potty to be sure we emptied their bladder and I've been typing this update. A few minutes ago, though, we heard a sound from their room. Poor Benjamin was throwing up! Apparently, the Chinese broccoli and chicken lo mein I had asked Daddy to bring home didn't sit very well with my little man. Poor poor baby. Andy cleaned him up while I changed his bedding. That's not what I had been planning to clean up after tonight! He went right down again, obviously much more comfortable. The first set of sheets are being washed. Hope he's doing better through the night.

So, I am cautiously optimistic. Very grateful for how well the day went, but anticipating much more of a fight tomorrow. That's the best part about parenthood... you just never know!


Where We Are, Where We're Headed

Operation Get Rid of Sippy Cups is actually going pretty well!

The boys still ask for them every so often - especially when they're tired - but it has been soooo helpful to be able to remind them that their Baby Cups are in the garbage. "Oh. Okay," they respond. And they LOVE to remind me that they're not babies. "I big boy." I love it.

Their favorite cups are some disposable ones I have with a straw from Target (though they've handled the dishwasher quite well.) They can spill, but they've actually been pretty good when they tip over. And the best part is that the boys can't lay down with them, which really frees up their mommy. We try and keep their cups at the table, so they know where to find them during the day. They've always enjoyed twirling their hair while they hold the sippy cup with their other hand, so it's been funny to watch them try and do that still, while sitting up. They'll try and lounge with their cups, but once they find they can't get any liquid out, they'll straighten out their bodies. Progress!

Andy and I have been talking about ideals and what we would love for the boys to be able to do by the time Baby Girl arrives. We had three ideals: the boys would be done with sippy cups, potty trained and sleeping in their Big Boy beds. Sippy cups are looking good, so now we're onto potty training... while hoping they retain what they've learned.

I don't know when I'll officially begin the potty training process, but I'm thinking about this upcoming Tuesday. My expectations have come down a bit since many of my good friends have encouraged me to do so (especially with the likelihood of the boys regressing once the baby comes.) I had been thinking that I'd do it all: underwear during the day and at night. But learning how it seems to go for many other kids - especially boys - I'm thinking that training them to use the potty during the day is going to be a big enough deal for now. I'll still use diapers at night. Knowing that my husband and I were late-bloomers in most ways also helps bring me down to reality, too. This also makes doing the transition on my own a little more manageable.

The last of our three ideals is sleeping in their Big Boy beds. We purchased two twin beds a few months ago and tried to make the transition rather quickly. But as the boys proved, it was way too much, way too fast. Not only were we encouraging them to sleep in a new bed while they weren't sleeping well to begin with, but it was a new room. Too much. I would love to use one of the boys' cribs for the baby rather than having to borrow an additional crib from my sister, though she has it ready for me. We've kept the beds set up in the other room and the boys love to play in there, jumping from one to another, but this nesting mommy is getting anxious to set up the room for the baby. I've also been getting increasingly nervous watching them in their cribs.

I try not to make a big deal out of it, knowing that would only encourage them to do it more, but it's downright frightening sometimes. They've been able to climb in and out with no problem for some time now. But now they're getting a lot more confident. They'll walk along the railing and then do a cannonball onto their mattress. They do somersaults and headstands. They'll straddle the crib, balancing their feet on each railing and then hop down. They'll lean on the railing and balance on their tummy across the edge. And what can I do? I try and ignore it and hope they'll be a little more safe with just a plain mattress and one guard rail. When and if they decide to sleep in them, that is. Tonight, I decided to move ONE of the beds into their bedroom so they could toy with the idea of sleeping in it. We'll see how it goes. I honestly don't mind if they stay in their cribs until they're four. But the frightened mother in me figures it's worth a try.

So that's where we are. Once again, I am faced with the reality that I have absolutely NO idea what I'm doing. But even still, I'll keep chugging along, hoping that God's grace will continue to fill where my abilities fall short.


Operation No More Sippy Cup

Two updates. And one explanation regarding the second.

I passed my glucose screening test. Can I get an AMEN!? That means I do NOT have to take the 3-hour test, enduring fasting for 12 hours and three pokes in the arm. That. Is. Such. Great. News. If I failed, I was going to tell my OB to treat me as if I did have gestational diabetes because I just couldn't see myself making it through that test. Woohooo!

Also, we won't be starting potty training tomorrow as I had originally planned. Seems as if I've got another battle to win first. Instead, tomorrow begins Operation Get Rid of Our Sippy Cups and Drink Out of Big Boy Cups.

The past few weeks have been helpful in creating a transition for our quest towards no more diapers. We've been decreasing the amount of calories the boys have taken in liquids, moved their potties to the bathroom, and trying to equate bowel movements with disgust. I bought a bunch of books off of Amazon.com and have been talking about how big the boys are now and how big boys use the potty. But one of the requirements for the 3 Day Potty Training program we're going to use asks for the kids to have mostly dry diapers, especially through the night. Yeah, we're not even close. Most mornings, the boys' pajamas are soaked right through and I have to change their sheets as well. Sippy cups are to blame.
Now, I'm not coming down on parents who still use sippy cups with their kids. It was really helpful for us in getting rid of bottles. But for us, it was a crutch. A comfort they've come to rely on waaaay too much. When they request a drink, they want it in their sippy cups. Because they want to lay down while they drink it. Lay down on mommy. It was cute in the beginning. The boys lay their heads, one on each of my thighs, with their legs stretched out over the couch. Honestly, we take up the whole space. The boys hold their cups with their opposite hands and twirl with their other hands. This used to be cute, until I got pregnant and my belly started taking over the space where they used to lie. It's also pretty annoying when they want to drink when we're in public; there aren't many benches large enough to hold me and my two lounging, drinking boys. And it's not always publically comfortable to just sit on the floor while your toddlers stretch themselves out over a six-foot area. It's pretty embarrassing, actually.

This is me with the boys in November 2009 when they were about six months old. I didn't always hold them like this, but when your babies just want you to hold them... you do what you gotta do. I suppose it just helped me to look back and see that we have, in fact, progressed. At least just a little.

They can drink out of a cup. A juice box. With a straw. Anything. They really are quite adaptable. They just like the sippy cups because they can lay down with them. But in order to make this potty training transition (and also give them a little more autonomy away from Mommy,) I feel like we've got to get rid of them.

So tomorrow's the day. I searched for ideas on Goggle and came up with a plan. How did our mothers parent us without the Internet? We'll throw out all of our sippy cups in the trash, explaining they're big boys and big boys drink out of big boy cups (which means cups with straws or open-faced cups.) Then we'll make a trip to Target so the boys can pick out and buy their own cups. I'll be steering them toward open-faced cups. I don't care how expensive they are - I'm just hoping they find some cups they like well enough to ONLY drink out of them from now on. And then I'll be reinforcing the idea of them ONLY drinking at the table, while sitting in their chair. One mom online even suggested putting a piece of painter's paint on the table so her daughter would know exactly where to leave it when she wasn't drinking. That way, we may not have to worry as much about spilling or hitting it off the table. I like that!

So anyway, that's my plan. Sippy cups are gone. Straws and cups are here to stay. I'm anticipating this to be a battle of wills. They're just so set in their ways and are very comfortable with the way we've been doing things for so long. But here's my resolve: if they won't drink out of their new cups, they don't drink. Moms online said they had worried about their kids getting dehydrated, but the truth is, kids will get their hydration from other sources from a bit. I'm hoping they'll be completely satisfied with their new drinking utensils after three days. I'm hoping anyway.

I honestly have absolutely NO idea what I'm doing. But I'm pretending. Until I figure things out for real, anyway.

Wish us luck!


A State of Transition

I wasn't a mom for too long before I realized that my life was constantly going to be in a state of transition. That seems to be the only consistent thing in our lives of mommyhood - change.

Our most recent transition is occuring while we get ready for our new addition as well as help the boys transition to the next stage of boyhood... or manhood... I'm really not sure. Potty training.

I'm glad that I started researching how we wanted to handle this well before we started. Well, three weeks before. I've decided to try a program called "3 Day Potty Training" that a friend emailed me a few years back. I didn't put much thought into which 'program' I was going to use - this one was free and came recommended, so obviously I didn't have to look too far. As the name suggests, it's supposed to take three days, though she says to plan for longer if you're training multiples or if you're starting later than 22 months. Yeah. I'm a little nervous about each of those. Add that to the fact that I'm now in the third trimester and doing it by myself... yeah, I'm just not gonna think about that.

But the "Potty Training Queen" suggests that you begin at a time when you'll be home for a few consecutive days in a row. For me, that meant beginning on a Monday during a week that I didn't have MOPS, the only thing that I would 'need' to be at. Looking at my calendar, I pinned that date to be next Monday, January 23rd.

In order to prepare for the Day of Reckoning, I've had to change a few habits in order to prepare for new ones.
  • First one was to ration how many more diapers I would have needed to buy before needing to "throw them all away" on Day One, as the program suggests. Okay. Don't stack up too much. And don't open any new boxes until you have to. Save the receipt so you can exchange it for Size 1 diapers for Baby Girl. Check.
  • Second one was to begin watching how much liquid I let my boys have before sleeptimes. This has been a tough one. My boys, especially Ben, would so much rather drink his calories than eat them lately. During the past two weeks, I've been trying to be more quick about offering the boys more food options and then limiting them to just "one cup" of milk at each meal. During the past few days, I haven't even been filling it up the whole way. And we're doing pretty well! The boys are eating more and drinking less. We have fewer reeeeeeally wet diapers and more calories consumed from food, not drinks. We're still moving forward, but check.
  • Third one was to start stacking up on supplies. I bought dozens of new pairs of underwear, convered in characters such as Mr. Incredible, Nemo, Lightning McQueen, Thomas the Train and Mickey Mouse; if these new digs don't thrill them, I don't know what will. I also started looking at lots of drinks - juices and flavored waters - to give them during the first few days of potty training so they have to go consistently during the day. I bought LOTS of fun prizes to use as incentives when I'm really proud of something they did. I'll start with M&Ms, but sometimes, you need something better. Check.
  • With new prizes coming in for potty training, I had to wein the prizes for staying in their cribs all night. It's been a month that they've been back to their fantastic sleep routines, so it was time to take down the rewards anyway. This is the fourth transition. On Friday, I told them that if they stayed in their cribs, their prize would be a sticker. They were a little unsure at first, but they have done quite well picking out their one sticker when they wake up. We put it on their rules poster and so it's proudly displayed in their room. Now I can save the prizes for the poop! Check.
  • The fifth part was moving the boys' portable toilets to the bathroom so they get used to going in there to relieve themselves, rather than their bedroom, which is where we had been keeping them. I had to move the towels into the hallway in order to make room in our tiny powder room, but still, transition accomplished. Check.
  • The last part of this transition (so far) comes in our language. The program suggests that we start talking about the boys' dirty diapers as "yucky," "stinky" and "P-U!" but in a serious way. We're supposed to reinforce the idea of having a clean bottom and getting rid of our feces in the toilet. I've been impressed by how much they've caught on to this idea. Check.
Ya see? Always in a state of transition. I haven't even officially begun the training and already, I've done a TON!

Another transition we've been working through is getting the boys ready for Baby Girl's arrival. I'm home with them all day and so obviously, they rely on me a great deal. They find a lot of comfort in holding Mommy's hand, having Mommy carry them, put on their jacket and give them their juice. But the problem has been that lately, they won't let Daddy do anything to help them. Whenever Andy tries to help me do ANYTHING for them, his efforts are blocked by a quick, "No, Mommy do it!" We've appeased them for a few weeks, but I'm getting to the point where I will be physically unable to meet each of every one of their demands. And Andy is getting more and more frustrated, not knowing how to support me.

Two of our biggest challenges are getting them into their carseats (where only Mommy can buckle them in) and bathroom (where only Mommy can put their jammies on after baths.) Traditionally, these were activities we both shared. We struggled, not knowing how to handle this new power struggle. Then the other night, Andy seemed to have an epiphany.

"Let's just tell them ahead of time. We will explain that we'll take turns. I'll change Ben tonight, but then Mommy can change him tomorrow." He was right. What a difference that made today! I shouldn't be surprised. We've used this same technique in the past with difficult situations and the boys always seemed to do well. Again, I shouldn't be surprised. My boys don't like surprises. They like to know what's coming so they can prepare for it. Know what's expected of them. Sound familiar? I just spent this whole post talking about how we're planning ahead of things in the future!!

I guess the apples don't fall far from the tree.


The Test

I first took The Test three years ago. I only made it 2/3 of the way through. But thank God, they didn't make me take it again. They told me I passed. Pure miracle.

I took The Test again today. Well, it was a more simplified version. To see if I needed to take the longer version. I did make it through this shorter one, but the jury's still out on whether or not I passed. Dear Lord, I hope I passed.

It is not my driver's test. Not my college entrance exam. It was worse: The Glucose Tolerance Test.

Every pregnant women takes it nowadays. And no one enjoys it. But The Test is even worse for a pregnant woman with a particular problem. And I've got that problem. Truth be told, I am a horrible blood donor. Not only do I have super-thin veins, but they roll. (My mom is the same way.) So they poke. And poke again. And again. Then I start to get hot. Queasy. Weak. And light-headed. It's a horrible experience. I was in charge of organizing Red Cross blood drives in college and so I felt compelled to donate; even those ladies said, "Honey, if I were you, I'd just save your blood for yourself." Yup, I'm that good.

I don't remember taking the screening test with the boys (that's the one I took today.) I only remember having to take the pain-staking three-hour test. The worst part about that one is you have to fast 8-12 hours beforehand, chug this super sugary orange liquid and then go in for three separate blood draws to see how your body reacted to the sugar. I only made it to the second blood draw last time before I almost blacked out and then threw up the sugary liquid. It was horrific. Thank God, they were able to gather enough information from the first two draws that I didn't have to do it again.

I was optimistic this morning. It was just the screening test to see if I had to take the full Glucose Tolerance Test. I didn't have to fast. I drank a lot of water and was determined to get through this one blood draw. The orange sugary liquid didn't take as bad as I had remembered (well, at least at first) and all of the girls seemed very sweet and competent. Leah C. called me into her exam room and we exchanged pleasantries. She had an almost-three-year-old little boy and so we chatted about mom stuff while she prepped the needle.

"I've got really thin veins," I warned her. "People seem to have the best luck with the smallest butterfly needles."

"Oh, I'm up for the challenge," she teased. "I've got my butterfly needle right here. But pregnant women tend to have big veins because there's so much blood pumping through their body." She asked me to make a fist while she started searching my arm for a good one. I looked away. (Yeah, I've also got a weak stomach.) "That's weird," I heard her say. "I can't find a good one. Let me try the other arm." I laughed that if I brushed my teeth, I could probably get a pint of blood from my bleeding gums - but it figures that they wouldn't be able to get it anywhere else. Right arm: one poke. Left arm: one poke. Then she tried my hand. She found what she thought was a good vein and poked it. And rolled the needle. And still, came up empty.

I started to get dizzy. My ears started to get clogged. "Um, is there a cold wet cloth? Is there somewhere I can lay down? What should I do, put my head between my legs?" The room with the cot was full and it was difficult for me to bend over with the massive bowling bowl affixed to my midsection. Leah called in another nurse. They gave me more cold compresses on my neck and I struggled to stay alert. I have never fainted in my life, but this was the second time I got this close. My stomach started rumbling. "I think I'm gonna be sick." At this point, Nurse B had made another attempt at my right arm and was successful in connecting to a vein. She continued to draw blood while Leah brought the trash can to my seat. At this point, I felt like a highly needy patient and just wanted it all to be over. But the trash can Leah brought over smelled really bad. I told her and she brought over a larger one. These poor, sweet ladies. They were so helpful. I wanted to be light and jovial, make jokes about how demanding I was and apologize for my situation. But I was much too busy trying to keep cool while also getting rid of every ounze of that horrible sugary liquid.

After it was out, I felt 100% better. The girls were relieved to have gotten the needed blood and I was happy that I didn't need to get poked anymore. They wouldn't let me leave right away, even though I assured them I was better, and fanned me with a folder until the color came back in my face. "I really hope you don't have to come back for the three-hour exam!" Leah told me.

Yeah. Me too.

Add that to the list of sacrifices us mothers make for our unborn babies. But please, Baby Girl... please, please, please don't make me do that again. I love you, but I'm not sure my body could prove it with another one of those Tests.


The Diary of a Hormonal Pregnant Woman

As soon as we started dating, people wanted to know when we would get engaged.
As soon as we were engaged, people wanted to know when we were getting married.
As soon as we were married, people wanted to know when we were going to have kids.
As soon as we found out we were pregnant, people wanted to know the sex.
As soon as we found out we were having twin boys, people wanted to know the names.

People like to know. I get it. I like to know, too! I couldn't wait to learn the details of the boys, to meet them and begin our journey. And this pregnancy has been no different. We were more than excited to find out the sex, so now that we know it's a girl, we've been fielding questions about her name.

Um, I honestly don't know.

We've got a few ideas. A short list of ideas. But nothing definite. We want to have a list to take with us to the hospital so we can meet our little one before assigning her a name she will have for the rest of her life. That's kind of a lot of pressure, isn't it? The.rest.of.her.life.

The pressure of this responsibility hit me like a ton of bricks the other night. And it came out of nowhere.

Andy had rented a movie for us to enjoy and so I spent a few minutes in front of the computer before he hit play. After realizing that Baby Girl was going to be here in less than three months, I opened Microsoft Word on my laptop and started plugging in a few names. To see them in print. But when I started typing them, I started to panic.

I didn't like any of them.

I told Andy what I was doing and said, "We've got to come up with some more names. I don't like anything we've got!" I was honestly starting to panic. As if I hadn't realized a huge project was due in a half-hour and I hadn't done anything to prepare.

Poor Andy obviously had no idea that I had built this up to be such a big deal in my head. "Oh, don't worry, Min," he assured me. "We'll think of something before she comes. And it'll be great."

That's when the tears came. "Tonight! I feel like we have to do it tonight! We have to know!" Andy must have realized we weren't going to be watching the movie and sat down next to me and we plugged away on the computer, looking up baby names, meanings and seeing what they looked like on the computer and sounded like when we said them aloud.

What a great friend he is to me.

I don't think we really got anywhere, or made any more progress than before. But I did eventually calm down and realize that we had a little time. It probably had more to do with the fact that Andy took my concern seriously and tried to make me feel better. He knew this was hormones, but thank God, he didn't say it outloud. He reminded me that we had changed Jonathan's name just a few days before they were born (he was going to be Nathan) and we do have a few more months before she joins us on this side of the womb. We will come up with something. But it probably won't be today. And that's alright.

As much as I may roll my eyes when people keep trying to push us for information - to know what our next step is - I am the same exact way. I like to know. To be prepared. And the pregnancy hormones only highlighted that.

Ahh, the ups and downs of an (already emotional) pregnant woman. Thank God for a husband who loves me anyway. And a friend who doesn't mind putting off a movie for a few nights so his wife can actually enjoy it.


The Double-Edged Sword

A pregnant woman is never satisfied. A humorous situation made this real to me the other day.

Now, let me preface this story with the fact that I feel absolutely huge. I am very aware of the mass that is steadily growing around my midsection, making it uncomfortable for me to bend down to put socks on, impossible to lay on my stomach to search for toys that have rolled under the couch and difficult to get a good night's rest. I wake up every time I move from side to side, in order to adjust the blanket under my belly, and I dream of the day I can sleep on my back and my stomach again. I feel really really big. But when I look in the mirror, I do understand why people say, "You're six months pregnant? I was that big at two!" Alright, alright. Blame it on the long torso. Nonetheless, I feel large. Like there's another human growing inside of me or something. My poor husband doesn't even know how to respond to my comments about how big I feel. Normally, he just dismisses them by saying, "Babe, you look great."

After all, what else could he say? It's HIS fault I look like this! ;)

Now that that's out of the way, I can share my humorous story.

I was grocery shopping with Andy and the boys last week when we ran into one of my girl friends. I hadn't seen her in a while and she asked about the pregnancy. "We're doing great! We're twenty-five weeks along, due in just three months."

"No way," she said. "You barely look pregnant!" I laughed and then shortly after, we parted ways, shuffling our kids in two different directions.

"She said I barely look pregnant?" I asked my husband as we bundled the boys up to walk to the van. "How is that even possible? Can't she see this huge bowling bowl attached to my midsection?"

My husband, always the first to support me, said, "Aw, Min, I think she was just being nice."


So... does that mean I really am as big as a whale? ;) I just had to laugh. For the days that followed, every time I thought about that comment it made me chuckle. Our poor husbands. And friends. What do we expect them to say? "Yes, you're really small," or "Yes, you're ginormous." Either way, they lose.

Guess I'll have to wait a few months if I want an honest answer.


Our Sleeping Experience Explained

It's been a month. A busy month. I thought it was time to update about how my boys are sleeping.

Long story short: they are sleeping! On. Their. Own.
The first day of sleep training went pretty well. Jack got out about 30 times through the night (mostly at the beginning of the evening) and Ben less than ten. The next night was horrible. We lost track of how many times Ben got out, but it was probably around 80 times, between bedtime and wakeup. Andy said his back was sore from all of the lifting - can you imagine if it were me doing it? (Thanks, babe!) The next night was a little better, about a dozen times. The next night, just a few. After that, it was smooth sailing. Well, mostly. They've had a few hiccups - tests - to see if the same rules still applied. The first 'test' was a week after we had everything established and the most recent 'test' was this afternoon. Every time I put the boys down, I anticipate a fight. And what a blessing, that it's gone so well.

Here are some things I've learned throughout this process:
  • My boys actually LIKE to sleep. In their cribs. I can tell when they start to get sleepy and I'm always surprised when they say, "Mommy, crib."
  • I had to adjust my entire day's schedule to better accomodate their bodies. We now wake up earlier, take naps earlier and go to bed earlier. I had no idea that my lazy habits were getting in the way of their sleep. Our day now starts at 7am (whereas I used to wish they'd sleep in until 7:30, 8 or 8:30am, then get frustrated when they'd wake up sooner!) and naps end at 3pm. I don't let them sleep as long for naps as I used to either. That means that bedtime must be 8pm and naps by 12:30pm, the latest. We're still fine-tuning things, but we're looking a lot better.
  • The boys look at the posters we decorated on their walls with the five sleep rules and they repeat them almost every time they lay down... although they're not the five listed. "Mommy, no dumping (jumping,) no saw-saults (somersaults,) no talking and wait music on." It really is sweet. They definitely understand the concept. Each time they lay down, I set the alarm to wake them to music. In the morning, Andy and I can hear the boys exclain, "Mommy, Daddy, wake up! Music on!" And then the next word out of their mouth is "I get prize?" Sometimes they don't even ask for one, so I don't offer it.
  • The boys LOVE the prizes. I had gone to the Dollar Tree and stocked up on tons of party bags with small toys, balls, animals, as well as stickers and pennies. It doesn't matter what it is. As long as it's WRAPPED. That's been the key. At least for my men. They love the mystery of the prize. And I think it's funny that they've actually come to take the smallest prize they can find, not the biggest. I keep their prize box in their room where they can see it, but not reach it. That seems to be very motivating, especially when we didn't earn a prize for not following the rules.
  • Another added bonus has come from the freedom of NOT having to buy two of everything just to appease my twins. I started doing that and had a prize box for each boy, just so they wouldn't get doubles. But then I started getting lazy and put their prizes together or I'd buy just one of something small, rather than two. They rarely opened the same prize every time, so I realized they really didn't care. Even if they did happen to open a double of something, they were just as thrilled. I felt like this was a personal breakthrough for me, as a mother of multiples. They love sharing their treasures with their brother, something I hope continues as they get older!
  • I also realized that I didn't have to spend a lot of money on the prizes. I wrapped many prizes that contained five pennies. They were thrilled to count their "monies" and put them in their pockets. Only a few of the prizes were a whole dollar. Another favorite was a balloon - which came in a pack of twenty-five for one dollar!
  • Andy has asked for how long we should be supplying them with prizes for following the rules. It's been about a month now and when they're following the rules, they get two prizes a day. Each. I'm hoping that they'll continue to lose interest in the prizes and I'll help by making the prizes smaller and less exciting. But my response to him: "How much is a good night's sleep worth to you?" :)
So that's where we are. I'd be lying if I said that this is a perfect system and that we never have a problem. That is soooo not true. But it is so much better than it was. The boys don't fuss when it's time to go to sleep; they ask for it. And they say "Night, Mommy! Love you!" when I put them down rather than pulling at my shirt and screaming. But we still struggle with them playing in their cribs when they should be sleeping or calling me in the room to change their (poopy diaper) just a few minutes after they're down. Many times, these behaviors happen when I put them down too late and they're overtired. Still, we're doing well! And mommy gets to take a nap every day as well. And that's good for Baby, too!

Andy and I have also been enjoying the extra time at night. We're able to talk again. Plan. Make lunches for the next day. Prep dinners. Do the dishes. Watch movies. Eat popcorn. Fold laundry. Work on our taxes. It's given us an area of flexibility and relaxation we lost for a long time. And I wouldn't trade it for the world! Or perhaps I would in less than three months when we bring our newborn home...

As with most things in parenting, our journey is not finished. Even as we continue to change our sleep habits as our boys grow, our next big adventure will be potty training. I just started reading about what our plan of attack might be and will start gathering supplies and changing behaviors within the next few weeks so we can do it within the month.

It's always something, right?