Twin Babies

I'm working from home today. While I was on a conference call, the Flickr screensaver came up on the Apple TV. I have it set to show all of my pictures now. (I recently changed it. It was only baby pictures before, so I wouldn't see any pictures of my mom.) A few times, baby pictures came up and I couldn't tell which of my babies it was.

Here's one baby:

Here's the other baby:

Thanksgiving Day

Here's one baby:

Here's the other baby:

Kenna's Bathing Suit

More Toddler Tips: Raising a Talker

Oh, my goodness is my toddler ever a chatterbox. Thankfully, she can talk and talk and talk to herself. She does not always require a response. My kid is well ahead of the game when it comes to language development. Most people are confused about her age out in public. They think she is abnormally small for a three-and-a-half-year old, but she is two-and-a-half.

I have some background in early childhood education, and I have read twenty gazillion books on the subject, so I knew what I wanted to do to instill good language skills in my child before she was born. I'm not an expert on it by any means, but maybe you can benefit from knowing what has worked for me.

1. Talk to your baby all the freaking time

I am actually not much of a talker, so this was really awkward for me in the beginning, which is why I started practicing when my baby as barely a week old. I narrated everything I was doing ("Mommy's changing Kenna's diaper.") and everything the baby was doing ("Oh, Kenna doesn't like getting her diaper changed. Kenna is crying.").

I also held conversations with my mute baby. Ask the baby a question, leave time for the baby's response, and then say what the baby would respond if the baby were super freakish and could talk.


"Does Kenna want to wear her giraffe onesie today?" [pause]

"Oh, Kenna does want to wear her giraffe onesie. She loves her giraffe onesie."

I read something about kids not understanding pronouns until a certain point, so we always used names when talking to the baby, at least until she was using multi-word phrases.

2. Don't correct improper word usage

Once your kid does start talking, don't correct improper word usage or verb tenses. The goal is to get your kid to talk more, so you don't want to do anything that might make her feel bad, like telling her she is saying something wrong.

3. Repeat and model

When my toddler first started talking, I would repeat what she said, or what I thought she said, for two reasons. First, to make sure I understood her and, second, to model proper word usage and verb tenses.

Example 1:

"Jibber jabber cookie blah blah mama"

"Would you like a cookie? Oh, you do want a cookie."

Example 2:

"Jibber jabber cookie blah blah mama"

"Would you like a cookie? You do? Ok. Kenna said, 'May I please have a cookie, Mama?'"

I still do this but now, instead just trying to build my kid's vocabulary, it is also about using proper sentence structure. Also, I still don't know what the heck she is saying sometimes. She speaks pretty clearly, but if it is a word I've never heard her use before, I takes me a few tries to get it.

3. Don't use baby talk

This one is in every book there ever was, but there is some confusion as to what "baby talk" means. Baby talk refers to made-up words. It does not refer to using a high-pitched, sing-songy voice, which actually helps babies with comprehension and helps to calm them.

Example (not baby talk):

"Ohmygod you're so cute, I love snuggle your little neck and smoosh your cheeks and give you so many kisses." (I may have said this every single day that I was on maternity leave.)

Example (baby talk):

"Does my little shmoopykins need her dipey-wipey changed? Someone has a mess on her tushy-wushy."

You should not use baby talk mostly because you sound like an idiot when you do.

4. Have conversations with your child

This is harder when your child is a baby and you are holding both sides of the conversation yourself. It is infinitely more fun when your child can participate. This is a great parenting tip, not just for building language skills.

Have a conversation with your kid. Your entire relationship should not consist of you barking orders at your kid or even instructing your kid in a nice way. Your kid is going to need conversational skills in life and you are going to want your kid to talk to you about things as she gets older, so you might as get her used to having a normal conversation now, before she can resist.

This part is easy and it is enormously entertaining. My toddler cracks me up every single day. She is just starting to really pretend and tells me stories about monsters and her dolls and her friends at daycare.

One last note

I was talking to my hair stylist about some cute things my toddler says and she said she doesn't always understand what her nephew says, but that his mom seems to. She was worried about being able to understand her own kid when she has kids. I reassured her that she would understand her kid even if other people couldn't. It isn't like a psychic bond thing, it is just that your kid uses the word in context around you so you begin to pick up which words mean what because you are much more exposed to them than other people are.

I Curse You and Your Baby

I wonder why it is the first instinct of so many people to wish ill upon an expectant mother. When I was pregnant with my toddler, it was the honeymoon period of motherhood. Everyone was so excited for me. They were excited to find out the gender of the baby. They were excited to find out what we were going to name her. They were excited to know how I was feeling every minute until I gave birth. Then, they were excited to see her for the first time.

Once we realized we had a pretty easy baby with no health issues and not a lot of drama about sleeping or eating, the honeymoon was over. As people found out she was an easy baby, we would hear things like, "You're lucky," implying that we had absolutely nothing to do with her behavior. We acknowledge that we are lucky, but we do not feel that luck has everything to do it. We were pretty chill as parents and we believe that helped our baby relax as well.

When I was pregnant with my newborn, you would not believe the amount of ill-wishing I received. As soon as people found out I was pregnant with my second child, they asked how my first child was as a baby. When they found out she was an easy baby, they said, "Oh, this one will be a nightmare." That lovely sentiment was usually accompanied by an unkind bit of laughter. I heard variations on this from so many people that I started to get angry about it. It is such a rude thing to say to a pregnant woman.

There was one exception. A co-worker of mine, when he found out my first child was an easy baby, said that my second would probably be easy, too. He has two kids who were both easy babies. I clung to that thought through the rest of my pregnancy.

When my newborn slept through the night at three and half weeks old, and kept on sleeping through the night, a resounding, "Suck it!" could be heard through all the land. She is even easier than the first one. Yes, I am lucky again, but I am also more relaxed as a parent this time, so I am still going to take some of the credit.

You would think that would be the end of the ill-wishing, but you would be wrong. When people find out that I have had two easy babies and we are not having anymore, they say, "Wait until they're teenagers." Why doesn't anyone say, "That's great!" or, "How wonderful!" No one can be happy for me or say something nice.

The next time someone says something like, "Wait until they're teenagers," I am going to ask why she would say something like to me and why she would expect that we will be unable to raise well-behaved children.

(Please note that I was able to write this entire post uninterrupted in my silent house because my baby is sleeping peacefully in her moses basket.)

Awaiting Labor

This waiting for the baby to be born is a weird feeling. When I was pregnant with Kenna, I was in no hurry for her to be born. I wasn't sure if I was ready for the next part yet, so I was content to remain pregnant. Plus, I wasn't nearly as uncomfortable in the last few with Kenna as I am with this baby. So, when she came one day early, it seemed like it was exactly the right time.

This time, I was ready for the baby to be born a couple weeks ago. So, every day since then that she hasn't been born has been a little more difficult to get through than the day before. Now, it sort of feels like a game or a trial, like if I do the right combination of things then I can unlock the secret to starting labor. I tried walking; that didn't work. I tried sleeping a lot; that didn't work. I tried staying up too late and not getting enough sleep; that didn't work. I tried thinking about it, not thinking about it, feeling ready, not feeling ready; nothing has worked.

I've had three false starts so far. Contractions start, are evenly spaced, last long enough for me to get my hopes up, then fizzle out.

Today, two days after my due date, the rest of my mucus plug fell out. It is as disgusting as it sounds. Right this second, the baby is head-butting me in the cervix while kicking me in the ribs, and she has the hiccups. It is uncomfortable and painful in ways that you can't imagine unless it happens to you because how would you know what it feels like to having a squirming, living thing playing with your internal organs?

I am stuck in this limbo of anticipation. I don't want to do anything or get anything done. I just sit here, waiting for something to happen.

She has five days left before the doctor and I take matters into our own hands.

Call for Opinions: Should I have a second baby shower?

Since we are having another girl, I can't decide if I should have second baby shower or not. My mom and my friend are pestering me to decide. We don't really need a lot of stuff. We need a few things, but nothing we can't handle on our own. Plus, I did put everything on a registry along with some stuff we don't necessarily need, but would be nice to have.

Two things I am thinking about:

  1. I have so many girl clothes, that I could be having triplet girls and still not need new clothes. At my last shower, I'd say 90% of the many, many gifts I received were clothes. To even think about getting that many clothes again makes me want to cry like the ungrateful, hormonal, pregnant woman I am. If I do have shower, I would really, really like to specify that we don't need any outfits.
  2. If I don't have a shower, I would like to have a "meet the baby" party instead, when she is about two months old.

So, what do you think? Should I have a shower or a party after the baby is born? I really can't decide on this one.

Gift Ideas for New Moms

Dawn asks:

I was wondering if you had any recommendations for gifts for new Moms; not really baby-stuff for new moms, but Mom-stuff for new Moms so she gets a bit of attention, too. I wanted to get the Mom something, just for her, like a pampering-type gift or a helpful book or... something. I was thinking about a spa or mani-pedi gift certificate, but (1) I don't know what's around the area she lives and (2) I imagine it's difficult to get out of the house with a newborn, even if you want to.

It sounds like you want to get the new mom a post-baby gift (not a still-pregnant gift) and that she lives far away from you. I have a few suggestions, each with a different level of commitment on your part.

Meal Delivery - High Level of Effort, Low to Moderate Cost

When I was on maternity leave, not only was I sleep-deprived, but I also was so in love with my baby, all I wanted to do all day was hold her. I was super grateful whenever anyone brought food over to the house. I didn't even care what it was. I suggest doing a little bit of online research (you could try Yelp, but the amount of review there varies greatly by area) and finding out a few places that deliver in her area. Large chains would be best because then you could buy gift certificates online or in your own area and mail them to her. Seriously, I would have eaten pizza every night if I'd had gift certificates for it.

House Cleaning - Moderate Level of Effort, High Cost

This one can be pricey ($100-$200 depending on the size of the house) but if you are willing to foot the bill and your friend isn't super anal-retentive, this is a FANTASTIC gift. I guarantee the new mom is falling behind in the housework and hates the fact that she is. Merry Maids, Molly Maid, Maid Brigade... it should be pretty easy to find a chain in your friend's area.

Gift Cards - Low Level of Effort, Low to High Cost

Everyone is feeling a bit of a financial pinch these days and it is exacerbated by having a new baby. If you work, you are probably only receiving a portion of your pay while on maternity leave and that is probably only for the first half of your leave. Whether you work or not, you now have the added expenses that come with a new baby. I wasn't as concerned about pampering myself as I was about making sure we could pay all our bills during my maternity leave. I was so grateful for the gift cards that I received at my shower and after the baby was born. The ones for Babies R Us were great, but the ones for Target were better, because I could use them for baby stuff or household stuff or personal stuff - whatever I happened to need at the moment. If your friend has a Target, K-Mart or Wal-Mart nearby, you really can't go wrong with a sweet card addressed to her with a gift card tucked inside. You could even send the gift card separately because you can order that online. (I linked directly to the gift card pages for all those stores.)

DVDs - Low Effort, Low to Moderate Cost

I don't think I read many books while on maternity leave, but I watched a lot of TV. A great DVD for a new mom is Happiest Baby on the Block. Every single new mom should have that DVD even if they already have the book. A gift membership to Netflix would be fantastic. Your friend wouldn't have to leave the house and she would be able to have some variety in television viewing. (I saw every single episode of Everybody Loves Raymond in reruns during the three months of my maternity leave. I don't even like that show.)

Now that I wrote all this, I think the Netflix thing is the way to go unless you know your friend needs some financial help, then I would go with the Target or Wal-Mart gift card.

(Dawn said she had already checked out my First-Time Mom Must-Haves list, but that is another place to look for gifts that have more to do with the baby.)

Give Your Opinion

On a blog that I participate in for work, there was some back and forth in the comments of a post that leaves me a little baffled. The post is about one particular new vehicle and its lack of stability control even though that is a standard feature in the same vehicle outside of North America. The woman who wrote the post and another female author on the same blog both said they wouldn't purchase the vehicle for that reason because of their concern for the safety of their children. Below are some of the comments that followed:

Male Commenter #1: Yes [these women] writers, seem very over the top on safety. I hope their kids walking around with helmets, wrist gaurds, eblow and knee pads all the time, so they dont get hurt ;-).

Me: Guys: If you grow another human being inside your body, you are allowed to be as concerned as you want about its safety once it is outside your body.

Male Commenter #1: ^... yes you are correct, you can do just about whatever you want. Just like everyone else can look at you and think your nuts. Whatever happened to what does not kill you, makes you stronger?

Male Commenter #2: "Guys: If you grow another human being inside your body, you are allowed to be as concerned as you want about its safety once it is outside your body."

Your statement is a ridiculous attack against all men and those women that haven't given birth. It's inappropriate.

Me: I am not attacking men or women who haven't given birth. I am just saying that if you gave birth to a child, it gives you the right to be completely, irrationally obsessed about anything that might possibly or impossibly happen to that child.

Did you see my first comment as an attack on men and women who haven't given birth? I was responding to Male Commenter #1 and I felt that my comment had the same level of tongue-in-cheekiness as both his original comment and his second comment in response to mine. Do you agree, or was Male Commenter #2 justified in getting his panties in a wad?

Soft-Soled Baby Shoes

Mostly I think these new baby shoes are kind of ugly. The Robeez are supposedly the miracle of the baby shoe world - shoes that baby can't kick off! Soft-soled so as not to interfere with physical development! $28 for baby shoes!

We received a pair of the Ministar brand that Target sells for $13. They are not 100% kick-proof but for less than half the cost, they do just fine.

I thought maybe all look-a-like baby shoes would work just as well, so when I saw these super cute bug shoes for $8 at Old Navy, I couldn't resist. They stay on the baby's feet for approximately 30 seconds before she either pulls one off and puts it on her mouth or kicks them both completely off. They are going back to the store.

I am not planning to spend any more time or money researching the effectiveness of various brands because, seriously, the baby can't even walk yet.