Sunday, December 19, 2010

How's it going?

I've started this post 17 times. And even as I type, I hear a baby calling me but I'm determined to write something before I go check (hey, I'm not running for Mother of the Year anyway).

"So, how's it going?" you ask. They're...going. We're all coping. We're all still breathing - albeit with perpetually stuffy noses - but we're getting by. I wouldn't say we're doing any of this particularly well, but we're doing it. We're getting up every morning and getting ourselves out the door. The girls go to "school." I go to work. I pick them up, go home, and then attempt to play with two cranky and overtired babies for an hour while Roger washes bottles and prepares new ones and cleans up whatever mess the dogs have made that day. Around 7, we bathe the girls and put them to bed by 8. Then we scrape something together for ourselves for dinner - sometimes Roger cooks, but honestly, we ate pizza 3 times last week. (Dominos keeps delivering our pizza late, then proceeds to send us a free pizza coupon as an apology.) So we're doing it, but I'd be lying if I said it was going great. It's exhausting. And by Friday, I feel like I've been run over by a train.

Apparently, I look like I've been hit by a train too. Last Friday, one of the directors at the daycare says to me "You're so clever for dropping the girls off before you get ready for work."

"I am ready for work, b*tch," is what I wanted to say, but I can hardly balme her.

Okay, now two babies are calling me. I'm hitting publish without proof reading.

Sue me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Master Multi-tasker

I've always considered myself to be pretty good at multi-tasking. But until recently (11 weeks and 5 days ago if you want to be precise), I discovered what it means to really multi-task. And I've gotten pretty damn good at it if I do say so myself. Some examples? Well, I can change one baby's diaper while entertaining the other on the floor with my foot. I can rock a baby in a cradle with one foot, while rocking the other baby in my arm and washing bottles with the other hand. I can also pump breast milk, return emails and watch tv all at the same time.

Not impressed yet?

I can bottle feed 2 babies at the same time (see below!); I can breast feed 2 babies at the same time; in fact, I can breast feed 1 baby and bottle feed the other at the same time. I can even feed 1 baby while burping the other. And I've been known to use a headset to talk on the phone while doing all of the above!
I can also comfort 2 babies simulataneously. Julie often prefers my words to my arms, so if I lay her on the diaper changing station I can sing or talk to her while I hold Anna (who prefers to be held when she's upset). But when both babies want to be held, I find the best way is to sit on the floor Indian style and lay 1 baby in my lap (bouncing my legs slightly) while holding the other baby in my arms. This position also works well for holding 1 baby (in my lap) while changing the other's diaper (on the floor). All in a day's work. I often wish there was someone around to capture my multi-tasking magic on camera, but then again, if someone else was home they better be holding a baby and not fiddling with a camera!

I'm getting pretty confident with my multi-tasking abilities, but Monday I've got another task to throw into the mix - my job. I'm kind of a mess about it. I love my job and I miss my coworkers and I even miss having something to talk/think about that doesn't involve poop and spit up. But I'm also so very sad at the idea of being away from the girls for 10 hours, 5 days a week. It just seems wrong. The longest I've been away from them so far has been about 4 hours. And to immediately jump to 10 seems crazy. I feel I should have been weaning myself off of them in these last few weeks, but I haven't wanted to waste a minute. And I know they will be okay at daycare, but that doesn't mean that I will be okay!

And on top of my feelings of sadness and guilt are my feelings of fear that as good at multi-tasking as I've become, it still won't be good enough. How can I be a really good mom and still be good at my job too? I know all of these feelings are normal, but that doesn't make them any less scary. And I am definitely scared.

But 12 weeks ago I was scared that I wouldn't be able to take care of 2 babies and I've managed that somehow, so I'm sure I'll manage what lies ahead too...

Still, if you could send some thoughts, prayers, and/or good vibes my way Monday morning it would be much appreciated.

Monday, November 8, 2010


The girls are 10 weeks old today. And for 10 whole weeks, I have managed to avoid the parenting cliche of running into the nursery just to make sure the baby is still breathing. Maybe a mother of one baby does that kind of thing, but when a mother has two sleeping babies in that room she doesn't dare go in and risk waking them up simply to reassure herself that they are still alive. She just has to trust that they are. I read this in a book about parenting twins, and have found it to be true for me.

Until last night.

Since the beginning, our nights have been pretty predictable. The bedtime has gotten earlier, and the time between bedtime and that first wail has gotten increasingly longer (thank God!), but one thing has remained consistent - Julie is the one doing the wailing. She doesn't eat as much as Anna (despite my best efforts to force her to do so!) so she gets hungry sooner. When she starts wailing at night, I go in and feed her and then wake Anna up to feed her too (Twin Rule #1 - When one eats, both eat). Lately, Julie's first wail has been sometime between 3 and 4 am. Which isn't bad at all. We put them down by 9, so that's a good 6 or 7 hour stretch (if only I also went to bed at 9!). But last night, the first wail was heard at 4:30 - and it wasn't a wail at all but a whimper. And from the sound of that whimper I could tell it was Anna. Definitely not Julie.

Now a whimper can be just a whimper. It doesn't necessarily mean a baby is waking up. She might just be resettling or having a dream, so I usually let it turn into a cry before I go rushing to the nursery. (Don't judge me people - I've got TWO of them in there - I can't jump at every noise!) This time, however, I panicked. But before I went rushing in there, I woke Roger.

"Roger! It's 4:30!"

"4:30?" he mumbles. "That's awesome - she made it to 4:30." (The "she" being Julie - because it's always Julie.)

"But it's not Julie. It's Anna, right? Isn't that Anna?" I say, shoving the monitor closer to his ear.

"That's Anna," he agrees, more awake now. "But go look."

I tiptoe into the nursery and sure enough Anna is barely whimpering and Julie's eyes are closed; she's totally still. I creep closer. I put my hand near her nose to make sure she's breathing. I think I feel air. I'm pretty sure. I give Anna a pacifier and she falls back asleep immediately. I run back to the bedroom.

"Well?" Roger asks. He's sitting up in bed, clearly worried.

"It was Anna," I confirm.

"And Julie's okay?"

"I think so."

"Well, is she breathing? Did you check?" He starts to get out of bed.

"I think so! I don't know!" I say, uncertain now of whether I actually felt air or not.

We both go rushing back into the nursery. Roger reaches into Julie's crib to touch her face. She opens her eyes slightly, looking irritated by the disturbance. Roger then goes to Anna. He needs confirmation that she too is okay. She's sound asleep.

We tiptoe back to our room relieved though realizing that we've become the cliche. The fact that Roger is also a cliche makes me feel slightly better about the situation.

And just in case you're curious... half an hour later, Anna started whimpering again, then crying, so I went back to the nursery to feed both of them. But 9 pm to 5 am? I call that sleeping through the night! Now let's just see if they can do it again...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cry Baby

Everyone tells new moms to "sleep when the baby is sleeping." Great advice I suppose, if you don't have anything else to do except feed and entertain your baby. But following that same logic, I've taken to crying when the babies cry. I mean...why not, right? Sometimes a girl just needs a good cry, and as they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em...right?

Okay, so I don't always cry when they cry, but yesterday I was particularly weepy and couldn't help but join the girls nearly every time they expressed their inner angst. Why so sad, you ask? Well, believe it or not, Roger's parents left last night, and despite my concerns prior to their arrival, it was great having them here. The M-I-L was amazingly helpful and we were thankful for every moment that Roger's dad got to spend with his newest grandbabies. (He was particularly taken with his namesake, Bryanna.) But his declining health made saying goodbye particularly tough this time, and that - coupled with the reality that with his parents' exit, Roger and I are truly on our own with these little ones - made for an especially teary day.

But I'm feeling better today. And I know that scary as it may seem, Roger and I are ready to be on our own again. The girls are doing great, and that's because of us. (Well, it's really because we are blessed from above, but you know what I mean.) Some days they are doing better than others (and that goes for me too!), but we're sticking to the little routine we've got going and modifying the plan as needed. I'm still overwhelmed - as you will certainly see if I ever get around to typing the blog posts that I compose in my head at night while feeding babies - but I think I've accepted that as a mother of twins, the feeling of being overwhelmed is probably here to stay. So I'm just gonna roll with it...and not apologize if I occasionally join in with my girls when they're having a good cry.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cool or Crazy?

This morning I breastfed Anna in the nursery with an audience of not just the M-I-L (who was helping me top Julie off with a bottle), but also my father-in-law, Roger’s two brothers, and my three year old niece – all while Moose and Maia attacked each other on the tummy time mat. Does this make me a cool, laid back, evolved mom? Or a crazy woman incapable of setting boundaries?

The jury is still out on that one…

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In this moment...

This is hard. Not harder than I thought it would be but still…it’s really, really hard. And what I’m about to say is likely to offend much of my audience, but I can’t help but think how easy this would be if there were just one of them. Not that I’d be willing to send one back of course, but it’s that second mouth to feed that complicates things a bit. It’s the “in stereo” crying that can bring me to tears. It’s the fact that as soon as I manage to calm one down, the other starts. Surely if it was just one…this motherhood stuff would be a breeze.

But as hard as it is, it is getting easier. I think it is anyway. I may think differently after the next feeding. But in this moment, things seem like they're on their way up. My mom left last Thursday and I cried as I watched her pull out of the driveway, but her absence has forced me and the girls to figure out how to do this on our own. And we seem to be doing okay. The M-I-L is here of course, so I do have back up if I need it, but I’m taking great satisfaction from the fact that I don’t have to have her here in order to take care of my children. The fact that she’s doing laundry and helping to keep the house from looking like a bomb went off is a bonus, but her presence is not mandatory.

So yes, the in-laws have arrived and so far we’re all coping. My fabulous brother-in-law and sister-in-law and their little girl are also here and being hugely helpful. And of course my aunt and uncle came by this past weekend to dote on the girls a bit too. Never a dull moment around here! It’s wonderful to have so many people that love us, but I’d be lying if I said all the activity isn’t more than a little stressful. I’m trying to roll with it though. I’ve decided the new me – the mom version of me – doesn’t sweat the small stuff. She doesn’t worry about what others think…not even the M-I-L.

So that’s the latest with us. The girls are growing like mad (Anna was 8 lb 10 oz and Julie was 6 lb 15 oz at their 4 week appointment). They are eating better, sleeping a little better, pooping lots (which apparently is a good thing - even if it makes the 24 daily diaper changes kind of a nightmare), and I actually ventured out for a run today while the girls slept. I went about 3 miles - and loved every step.

So in this moment, I’m feeling good…and these are the moments I feel like blogging. I’m sure it would be good for me to write about the other moments too, but in those moments, all I feel like doing is stuffing my face with ice cream and hiding in the bathroom for a good cry. Then I remind myself of the bright side – that at least with all this breast feeding, it’s okay to stuff myself with ice cream! And then I feel a little better… in that moment anyway.

Their faces pretty much express how I feel moment to moment! (That's Julie on the left and Anna - having a moment of her own - on the right)

Monday, September 20, 2010


Today my daughters are 3 weeks old, or 21 days, depending on how you’re counting. Me, I’m doing a lot of counting these days minutes spent nursing, milliliters of supplement, ounces of weight gain, number of wet diapers, number of poops, number of minutes available to shower or check email or close my eyes until the next feeding begins…

It’s certainly not easy – juggling newborn twins – but these early days haven't actually been as difficult as I feared. Of course I'm pretty sure that's only because my mother has been living with us since Day One - not only helping with diaper changes and round the clock feedings but also serving as chef, housekeeper, and personal shopper too. So it's with great dread that I'm counting down the days I have left with her here full-time.

But my mom's exit will be immediately followed by the arrival of Roger's parents, and Roger assures me that they will provide just as much assistance as my Mom. I I'm sure he's right, but it won't be quite the same. I know the M-I-L is a great house guest she's a huge help in the kitchen and she takes her title of "Laundry Fairy" quite seriously. Still, I can't help but wonder if she will be as willing to get up at 1 am (...and 4 am...and 7 am) as my mom has been. And even if she is willing, how much harder will it be for me to ask for help from her than from my own mom? I'm counting on that being tougher than I'd like it to be.

But all in all things are going well. The girls are gaining weight, staying awake longer (though not always at appropriate times), and I'm feeling a little more confident every day that Roger and I can actually do this...even if we still have a little while before we have to do it on our own.

So mostly I'm counting my precious little girls, my amazing husband, my selfless mom, my adoring sister and her family, my eager in-laws, and of course the generous friends who have come by offering encouragement, support, and more! (Because one thing I'm not counting just yet is calories!)

Pretty cute, huh?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Power of Two

This time last week I was watching the Emmy's. I was uncomfortable and cranky and wondering when my misery would end...little did I know that just 12 hours later I would be welcoming the most amazing little creatures I've ever known into my life.

My water broke around 1 a.m. Roger and I scrambled to get things together (because of course the bag was only half packed) and headed to Northside. They hooked me up to monitors and asked me a million questions before turning down the lights so we could "sleep." Roger dozed a bit while I watched the monitors for the next few hours - obsessing about the babies' heartbeats while watching the number that reflected my increasingly uncomfortable contractions. Around 7:30 the doctor came in and looked me over before deciding that a c-section would be the safest way to get the babies out of me.

I was a little panicky as they prepped me for surgery. They took me into the OR and made Roger wait outside and by the time they let him come in I had tears pouring down my face and was approaching a full on panic attack. But he quickly calmed me down and before we knew it they were asking him to stand up to witness our firstborn daughter come into the world. A few minutes later they were both in my arms. There I was - fearing the worst - that they would both be immediately rushed to the NICU, but instead the nurses were placing them in my arms while the four of us posed for a photo shoot right there in the OR. I cried again, but this time not with panic - with joy like I've never known before.

I have so much more to say about what turned out to be the best day of my life but the girls need to be fed so instead I will just choose this moment to formally introduce my daughters...

Bryanna Darby & Julie McKinney
August 30, 2010
9:18 am & 9:19 am
6 lb 7 oz, 18 1/2 in. & 4 lb 10 oz, 18 1/2 in.

"So we're okay; we're fine -
Baby I'm here to stop your crying.
Chase all the ghosts from your head,
I'm stronger than the monster beneath your bed.
Smarter than the tricks played on your heart -
We'll look at them together then we'll take them apart.
Adding up the total of a love that's true -
Multiply life by the power of two."
-Indigo Girls

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Just as expected, these last weeks of pregnancy have not exactly been easy. In fact, to put it politely, I’m pretty @#$%^& miserable...and just a pleasure to be around. I do attempt to mask my misery behind a polite smile while I’m at work, but by 5:30 I’m pretty much done. This means my husband never sees that polite smile. Instead he sees the whiney, cranky, and downright crazy version of his wife. It should come as no surprise that Roger “handles” me like a champ – listening to me and nodding with sympathy and only occasionally attempting to liken my aches and pains to something he is experiencing (I mean, really? Do you want to go there?). He actually seems to have adapted to my craziness quite well – knowing when to indulge it and when to put his foot down and stop the madness.

And I’m afraid it is full on madness. Some of it is pretty normal though, I think – the books call it “nesting,” this obsessive need to have everything clean. Now, I’m a pretty tidy person (my college roommates might beg to differ, but I’ve grown up a bit since then), but I’ve never been too terribly concerned about dirt and germs. I live with two dogs for God’s sake! What would be the point? And yet, here I am – 9 months pregnant attempting to scrub floors and wash windows and organize everything from the condiments in the pantry to the tools in the garage.

Roger has only so much patience for my obsessiveness, and I can hardly blame him. I think he feels bad to find me sweeping the garage in 100 degree heat but he has a hard time offering to take over when he doesn’t understand what a clean garage floor has to do with taking care of our babies. “Robyn, I wasn’t aware we were going to let the girls crawl around out here,” he says with a straight face. I kind of want to punch him in the nose. But before I begin my attempt to justify my admittedly absurd actions, he takes the broom out of my hands and sends me inside.

There are other signs of craziness too. For example, what woman, 9 months pregnant with twins, decides that now would be a good time to install a full length mirror in her bedroom? For the past seven months, I’ve been fixing my hair and putting on makeup in the small medicine cabinet mirror that came with our house. The most complete glimpse I’ve seen of my pregnant self has been in the mirror in the bathroom at work – and even that’s just waist (or what used to be my waist) up and fully clothed! So you can imagine my horror the first time I stepped out of the shower and into the cruel judgment of that full length mirror. A normal person would have thrown something at it to make the terrifying reflection go away but the masochist in me continues to torture myself.

I’ve been told this particular brand of madness - the nesting anyway - will subside a bit when I give birth, but it’s likely that a different kind of craziness will take over. Great. But at least pretty soon I’ll be way too busy keeping two humans alive to notice the dirt in the garage or obsess about the misshapen girl in the mirror.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Confessions from a Pregnancy

First of all, I feel truly blessed to be experiencing the completely crazy phenomenon that is pregnancy. But that doesn't mean I'm loving every minute of it. In fact, I have become immediately suspicious of any woman who claims she "loved being pregnant." I think she's either a liar or she just doesn't remember it all that well.

I know pregnancy is different for every woman, and when I compare my own experience to those of others I'm consistently reminded that it could be worse. (Apparently, it could also be better. I've heard rumors that morning sickness usually subsides after the third month...that would've been really nice. Sigh.) It's funny though, that the things I feared most about pregnancy - the expanding belly, the weight gain, the absence of wine - aren't really the worst parts at all. Now, don't worry. This isn't where I share all of the horrifying details about being pregnant. I didn't randomly return from the blogger graveyard this evening with the intention of starting a big whine fest; however, I do feel the need to confess that being pregnant is not my favorite thing.

However, there are a few good things about being pregnant, and in this last month I'm going to have to really focus on them to keep myself from spiraling into a pit of over dramatic self pity. So here list of the cool things about being pregnant.

1. Feeling them move - It just never gets old. I know it's a little weird that I constantly have a hand on my belly, but I can't stop myself. And watching the movement through my skin is even better. It's simultaneously the creepiest and coolest thing I've ever experienced.

2. The smiling - People are extremely friendly to pregnant people. Strangers smile at me and ask how I am...and I kind of love it. Of course, I fear I'm rapidly approaching the point where the smiles are mere attempts at masking the initial looks of horror that say "Good God! That woman looks like a baby might burst out of her at any moment...should I call 911?"

3. The eating - Let's face it; I'm a girl who likes to eat, and being pregnant has provided me with the perfect excuse (not that I've ever really needed one!). It hasn't been a total ice cream free for all - I've had to fit in a ridiculous amount of protein and lots of fruits and veggies too - but it's still been pretty cool.

4. My husband - From the moment I realized I was pregnant, Roger has said and done everything right. (Well, almost. I've only had to threaten him with bodily harm once or twice!). He's been the perfect mix of sympathy and encouragement. In true Roger form, every anxiety I express he manages to prove unneccessary. Even when we found out that his office would be closing shortly after the babies arrived, while I panicked, he assured me he would "make a plan" as he focused on the job hunt. And sure enough, his "plan" worked out and he's now happily employed with a new company. And whenever I start freaking out about any of the gazillion things there are to freak out about raising kids in this cruel, crazy world, Roger's mere presence reminds me that good things happen every day and despite all the bad stuff, this world can be pretty amazing too.

5. The whole miracle thing - When all else fails, I think about how completely incredible it is to be hosting two tiny lives inside my body. As physically challenging as the last eight months have been (and I fear the worst is still to come!), to be so instrumental in this kind of true miracle is both a privilege and a gift.

That's all I got for now. But hopefully it will be enough to get me through the coming weeks....I have a feeling it ain't gonna be pretty!

Here I am - big belly and all. I'm practicing with my friend's new baby, Owen. Good thing my hair hides the look of terror on my face!

Monday, April 26, 2010

6 months later...

Is anybody out there? Probably not, but for some reason I found my way back here today. Funny that it's been exactly six months and one day since I ran the Marine Corps Marathon. On that day, my body truly amazed me. Running 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 8 minutes was something I never thought I could do. But amazingly, I did it. The body I had taken for granted and mistreated for so long carried me through. I was impressed. Grateful. And a little in awe of what my body was capable of.

But that's nothing compared to how I'm feeling today. Today my body is actively growing and protecting not one but two little baby girls. Can you believe it? I still can't. Not really. Even as I watch my stomach expand, I am confounded by the possibility that two lives are growing inside of me. Even as I hold my husband's hand while we witness their tiny, squirming figures on the ultrasound screen - I'm still in disbelief. And yet they're in there. Growing every day.

I'm amazed and excited, but I'm also terrified. Twins were definitely not something I was planning on. Of course you're wondering if it runs in my family - that is the polite way of asking if this is a result of fertility drugs. My standard answer is no, they don't run in my family but Roger's dad is a twin and his grandmother too. But of course, if you know anything about twins you will know that it doesn't tend to matter if the father has a family history of twins.

The longer answer is that for awhile there, I wasn't really sure if I could have kids. (insert TMI warning here) I went off the pill a couple years ago - when the idea of getting pregnant wasn't completely out of the question. I certainly wasn't hearing the biological clock ticking, but Roger and I had both realized that we might never feel really ready for kids but it was something we thought we wanted eventually so why not see what happened.

But then I didn't get a period. I eventually asked my doctor in South Africa about it and he did some tests to discover that I wasn't ovulating. He gave me some pills and said to take them when I was ready to get pregnant. I went as far as filling the prescription, but I couldn't bring myself to take the pills.

And then we were moving back to the States and I was starting a new job and the timing was all wrong so the pills were eventually thrown away. Of course, my new doctor here in Atlanta prescribed the same sort of pills but once again the prescription just sat in my wallet.

I did some research on adoption. I became convinced that adopting a Chinese orphan could be my way of making the world a better place. Roger - rational as always - said he'd be totally open to adopting a Chinese orphan, but before we go half way around the planet in search of a child, why not just take the pills? I said I'd think about it.

Finally, I decided I would take the pills, but if they didn't work I wanted to explore adoption further. I also decided that before I took the pills, I wanted to run a marathon. Roger said he would support me in that decision completely, but once the marathon was over, it would be time to ease up on all the running and take the pills.

Well, the pills made me ovulate. Twice. And the funny thing is, that my doctor specifically prescribed an alternative to the standard ovulation drug (clomid) because the alternative allegedly has a lower percentage of multiples. Just 4% or something like that. I think he was as stunned as I was when we first saw those two little heart beats on the screen. But I fell a little in love with my doctor that day. Roger wasn't with me (it was so early - I didn't realize there would be an ultrasound), so the doctor just held my hand and told me it would be okay. And despite the fact that I was hyperventilating on the table, I knew it would be.

I'm still not sure exaclty how we'll juggle two babies come August, but if I've learned anything about myself and my husband - it's that together we can handle anything.

So forgive me for abandoning the blog these past six months, but trust me, I've spent the time being very productive. ; )