Thursday, July 31, 2008

Frugal Friday: Baby Carrier

This is the wrap we made with five yards of cotton jersey, on sale for $3 a yard. Do not take my example for how to wear it, though. This was the first time I tried it with both, and I clearly forgot to check positions in the mirror.

Go here for all kinds of ideas on inexpensive baby carriers. Or follow the directions at Moby Wrap with your own wrap. It works even better for one baby. With one baby you can still do housework. With two you can at least navigate stairs and doors safely.

The key thing about the cotton jersey is you don't have to hem it. It doesn't ravel. Even in the wash. Just cut it and wear it.

D3 is embarrassed by the silly pink hat. D4 looks like a little elf in his.

With the extra fabric, we cut five swaddling blankets. Stretch, it turns out, is the key to swaddling. That and leverage--you have to pin the TOPS of the arms, not the wrists. That and age. The nurses at the hospital only have to wrap sleepy brand-new babies, not determined, flailing 3-week-olds. However, if you catch them half asleep, it can help them stay settled.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

And one from D2

The older ducklings (do we count as a big family once we start referring to the children in clumps?) visit Grandma two nights a week, so that I can have one day in which I really can sleep while the babies sleep (if that happens). We call them up to say good night, and the past several times the conversation with D2 has gone something like this:

QOC: Hello, D2, how are you?
D2: No one is talking.
QOC: I am talking. Can't you hear me? Did you have a good day?
D2: (Plaintively) No one is talking.
QOC: I'm talking and then I stop so that you can talk. Otherwise I would just talk on
and on like this and you would never get a chance to talk.
(More silence.)
D2: No one is talking! (Maniacal laughter.)

Monday, July 28, 2008


D1 was downstairs playing while DOB worked out.

D1: Can you give me some liquor?
DOB: Some what?
D1: Some liquor. I'm making ice cream and I need some liquor.
DOB: You don't need liquor to make ice cream.
D1: Yes, I do. Liquor is the best part of ice cream.

QOC's later query: Perhaps she meant licker, as in the part of the ice cream equipment that you lick? It is all a mystery, as we have never made ice cream.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Those who have gone before

I strongly prefer checking books out of the library to buying them, because I prefer pretty much any way I can get a similar result without spending money. The downside, to some, is that library books have been read by many other people, who tend to leave their tracks. I find this part of the fun.

Most commonly one finds the printout of someone else's library receipt being used as an impromptu bookmark. It's like a ready-made recommendation list based on your reading choices. Other bookmarks are also intriguing: ticket stubs, junk mail. In one of my recent reads, I found a (wrapped) stick of gum tucked into the card pocket. Very handy.

Food stains are disgusting, of course, but understandable. Eating and reading belong together. The Christmas I had homemade chocolate truffles to eat while reading War and Peace (a great story in between the essays) still shines bright in memory, though I wonder if I could have gotten through it without the truffles.

Then there's the slightly wrinkled pages, which in my experience come from combing wet hair while reading, but perhaps there are other ways to get there.

Marginal notes are not as disgusting, but more indefensible. It's a library book. You don't write in it. Other patrons do not want to know your answers to the quizzes, and your thoughts are probably not brilliant enough to enhance the book.

What's the weirdest thing you ever found in a library or used book?

EDIT: Wondergirl just reminded me that I forgot to mention the Band-Aid I found in a book last week--probably the thing that originally prompted this post. It was, fortunately, wrapped and unused. Handy for paper cuts.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Baby Thoughts

Before your baby is born, make sure not only that you have an infant car seat, but that you have verified that you can adjust the car seat to proper infant size. Because otherwise you will be sitting in the hospital parking lot, starving and sweating and burning four-dollar-a-gallon gas, excluded from the hospital and home hopelessly out of reach. After we had tried all of our strength on unjamming the seat belt, and called everyone we knew with an infant, and enlisted the help of a kind man with tools, all in vain, it occurred to me that D2's car seat could be adjusted to carry an infant. So we at last made it home.


I read the books, I watched the nurses, I practice and practice and practice.

I'm still no good at swaddling. At the beginning of the night, I firmly grit my teeth and tie up the flailing limbs in the approved baby burrito format. They like being swaddled. It's a fun challenge. Sometimes you can watch them untangling themselves in unison, like synchronized Houdinis.

As the night wears on, though (feed, diaper, feed/burp, nap, burp, feed, diaper) repeated swaddlings tend to degenerate from burrito to enchilada to taco, until by early morning it's more of a taco salad effect with babies and blankets tossed randomly back into bed.


Actually, nights are not as bad as I feared. I unsay all my whining about being pregnant for 40 weeks. D3 and D4 have picked up on the eating concept faster than their older siblings ever did and are fairly good about sleeping between their nighttime feeds.

They each bear a rather uncanny resemblance, both in size and face shape, to their same-gender older siblings. It's like starting over again only having both the babies at the same time. It may be too soon to say, but I think newborn twins is in fact a little easier than two 15 months apart. At least their needs are all relatively simple and nobody is getting into things behind my back.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Now, the part you've really been waiting for

The last "before" picture. New wall color courtesy Wondergirl.

The boys with Papa.

The girls with Grandma.

And after that we started color-coding them.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Labor Once, Push Twice

(Note: This will be the G-rated version of the birth story. I'll probably write up a more complete version with full mention of bodily fluids and all that for posterity on a birthing blog somewhere.)

I had bought the castor oil and orange juice Monday night, planning to take it Tuesday morning. But I still didn't quite have my nerve up. And then it occurred to me that we had a gift certificate to a very nice restaurant that would expire before the babies would be old enough to leave for a leisurely dinner.

So before the castor oil method, we decided to try the romantic evening out method. I managed to piece together enough garments to just cover me (the slimming effects of black are overrated), we had a lovely evening and ate a huge meal and came home and went to bed.

At five in the morning I got up and realized my water had broken, thus satisfying my long-standing curiosity as to what it would be like to start labor that way. The answer: messy. Fortunately the carpet was spared. I called the doctor and the doula, and the doctor said to head on in to the hospital. By the time we were driving and I was able to pay attention to timing contractions, they were four minutes apart.

We were amused to remember that our friend from church was having a c-section that morning at the same hospital. We were even more amused to discover later that she had the same doctor. He had promised to bring a book when I delivered so he wouldn't be bored waiting around, but perhaps this way he had enough to do.

The lady at the check-in asked all the various questions: "Has your water broke?"

Whereupon Grammar Commando wanted to rise up and say, "Has broken, my water has broken." But I sent Grammar Commando home, because a birth is no place for people concerned about propriety.

Our doula met us and we were sent up to labor and delivery with little further ado. While the nurse was setting me up and putting in the hep lock, I asked the doula to wash my feet. Unfortunately, I said, "Ah, that feels good," just as the nurse put the needle in. "That's not usually a good sign when someone thinks that," she commented, but I hasted to clarify it was the clean feet and not the needle that felt good.

After that things progressed pretty quickly--at least compared to D1's birth--and I was soon too busy to carry on much conversation. Our assigned nurse (secret identity Wonderwoman) had just passed her midwife certifications and had worked with our doula at another natural birth the day before. Fortunately they'd both had a good night's sleep, too.

DOB had wondered what exactly he was supposed to do with a doula there, too, but I managed to keep him and his mom busy as well as the doula: "Ice! Not there! No, too cold! Too warm! Rub my legs! Stop! More water!" Nobody got too exhausted and DOB had the chance to get something to eat, as we had rather skipped breakfast. The doula was wonderful at helping me spot where to relax, keeping me moving to good positions and generally distracting me from thinking things like, "If I'd just had a c-section two weeks ago, I would be feeling better by now!"

By 11:30 I was close to being ready to push, so we had to move to the OR (hospital policy for twin deliveries). I had dreaded this part, envisioning glaring lights, a bare table, and a huge unwanted audience, but the doctor and nurses kept the lights low until needed, let me stay on the comfy, movable bed from labor and delivery, and sent everyone extraneous out to wait in the hallway. (Permanently, apparently, because we never did need them, except for an extra nurse--whom DOB pleased by giving her the secret identity of Elizabeth Taylor--to help clean up the babies.)

Both the babies were facing sideways. (My children are always looking the wrong way.) So it took a bit of work to get D3 to turn her head. The doctor and doula helped me try different positions and push her into place, and finally at 12:45 she came through. I was astonished to discover that it was in fact true that I had produced a real, live baby and held her for a bit while we waited for D4 to start moving down.

D4, however, was still in no hurry to come out. He seemed to enjoy the extra room. So did I. Laboring with one baby was a piece of cake after laboring with two--not to mention I had the extra motivation of just having seen that all this work really did produce a baby.

The nurses took D3 away to clean her up. It was quite odd to have one baby out and still be working on another one. I tried pushing for awhile but he was really too high up so we decided just to wait and let the contractions move him down. After awhile I took D3 back and nursed her while we waited.

D4's heart rate kept dipping despite them giving me extra oxygen and fluids. The doctor finally decided it was time to break his water and get him moving out. When the water broke with signs of further problems and he still stayed high up, the doctor asked the nurse to bring in the forceps and vacuum extractor.

Apparently hearing those words was all the two of us needed to get motivated. A minute later, with three mighty pushes, D4 was out. He did just fine, too. We waited around for everything else to finish up, the nurses finished cleaning up the babies (they did both have some meconium ingested), and we finally were all tucked back into bed together and wheeled back to the labor and delivery room.

My doula awarded me the medal for going it natural (just in case anyone commented that you don't get a medal for turning down the medications) and then she had to rush off to yet another birth. (She's not usually that busy.) However, the real medal, as I told her, was that I already felt absolutely wonderful. The only real pain I had once the birth was over was from the bones separating under the pressure of all that baby, and I'd had that for the last few months anyway.

Before we were sent down to the postpartum room, D1 and D2 came by to see the babies. They were very excited to meet them and brought them name tags they had made. In fact, D2 began to show distress when it was pointed out that they were going to have to leave and go back to Grandma's house for awhile. Fortunately Grandma had foreseen this problem and had been saving his favorite set of toys for several weeks. "When we get there, you can get out the rug and the cars."

"Can I play with all the cars?" he asked, his face suddenly cleared and his eyes big.

"Yes," I assured him.

"Let's go!" he said.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

This Is It

Suzanna Ruth
7/9 12:44pm
7lbs, 12oz; 20.5 in

Lincoln Theodore
7/9 2:05pm
6lbs, 15oz; 20 in

Full details from our regular commentator when she returns from her 48-hour maternity leave...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Bring It On

Labor-induction folklore is like hiccup remedies: the purpose is to keep you occupied and your friends amused until nature can take its course.

So far I'm still sticking to the versions that are fun. Walking (well, sort of). Fresh pineapple. Foot rubs. Etc. Some people apparently go for eggplant parmigiana, but others say it's the basil and oregano that are important, which is good because eggplant is a vegetable towards which I harbor a deep skepticism, no matter how thoroughly it is parmigianed.

The way I figure it, people must have gone into labor while doing almost everything except flying stealth bombers. One can therefore pretty much try anything to go into labor. Murphy's Law seems a good place to start:

Will removing the toilet from the main bathroom induce labor?
Taking DOB's spare jeans out of the hospital bag?
Having the house full of people?

So far, no luck with those. We considered trying attending a distant event, but it was too much trouble.

I also theorize that watching suspenseful movies should help. However, so far Alfred Hitchcock has done nothing for me.

Now it comes down to whatever I want to do, or whatever anyone else is trying to talk me into doing. Hey, maybe killing spiders induces labor! Cooking supper! Bopping DOB!

You never know.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


It seemed unlikely that CNN had taken up necromancy, so I was not surprised to learn that the survey on what the Founders would think of modern America did not in fact poll the Founders, but polled what modern people thought the Founders would think. Measured this way, the "Founding Fathers' " approval of our country has dropped off sharply in the last seven years.

These poll numbers, of course, bears an uncanny similarity to those resulting from the question, "Do you think the country is headed in the right direction or the wrong direction?" What they bear no resemblance to is any particular beliefs or goals of the Founding Fathers themselves.

DOB and I considered that perhaps before being permitted to answer this poll, people should be required to name at least fifteen Founders, defined as those who signed the Declaration or participated in the Constitutional Convention, although I was permitted to sneak in John Jay. We tried it and found ourselves stretched to the limits, although there was some head-smacking when we looked up the lists. (And you know you're a history geek when you're head-smacking over George Wythe.)

Names alone would hardly be enough to qualify a person to answer the question; they should also have to recite or summarize a significant portion of the founding documents, and be able to contrast the views of a couple of different Founders, who, after all, hardly agreed in perfect concord. I bet Alexander Hamilton would be reasonably satisfied with the current America, while Jefferson would probably be horrified.

The trouble is, the Founding Fathers have achieved that sort of mythic status of Nebulous Good Guys, whose opinion, therefore, must pretty much match mine, because I am a Good Guy. The Founding Fathers would think just like I do about the country. Which is absurd.

It's rather like asking the question "What would Jesus do?" (Or how would he vote, or drive, or what not.) Jesus, also being good and wise, would of course come to the same conclusions I have. Considering the frequency with which Jesus astonished the apostles, I doubt any modern person can safely predict His actions in areas where he made no direct statement.

Not that it is bad to consider the opinions of the Founders politically, or the actions of Jesus personally. But we should keep in mind that it takes both an extraordinary amount of knowledge and an unusual degree of humility to genuinely apply their perspectives to modern circumstances. If all we're going to do is stick with our own happy opinions, we ought to be honest about and not project our personal ideas on our favorite icons.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Waiting Some More

You know how it is to drive down a long country road with directions that say, "Go on for several miles until you see the gray barn opposite the gas station," and somehow that gray barn seems like it's never going to materialize? Yet when you drive back home the trip back to the freeway only takes a few minutes.

Or how long it is from when you have the last touches ready for company and the company hasn't shown up yet and every time the phone rings you're convinced it will be them saying they can't make it after all? (When you're not ready, of course, they show up ten minutes early.)

I'm starting to feel like a freak of nature. (Not in appearance, necessarily. Even yet no one jumps to suggest I am having twins.) Every time someone sees me it's the same routine: "You haven't had those babies yet?" (What WAS your first clue?) "I've never heard of anyone going that long with twins!" Perhaps I should charge admission: "Step right up to see QOC and her uterus of steel!"

That and I get a lot of sympathy as to how miserable I must be. When in fact, I feel better than I have the entire pregnancy. Whether it's pre-labor hormones, better weather, or a more consistent exercise routine, I've had more energy the past few weeks than since last October. Plus I think I'm getting used to balancing. The only thing that is really uncomfortable is the occasional nerve-pinching in the legs, which is making those helpful long, brisk walks nearly impossible.

No doubt I really am uncomfortable, but I've rather gotten used to it. I'm sure I'll fully realize it later, like the peasant taking his livestock back out of his hut.

While we are waiting, Wondergirl has started on repainting the living room and we are making food for the Fourth of July. We are not planning on going anywhere. My mother stayed home from Fourth of July festivities the year my sister was due, and she wasn't born until the 13th. We did have a calf born that day, whom we named Uncle Sam, and then renamed Aunt Samantha when we were able to get close enough for a thorough inspection.

I have every classic sign of labor being imminent, but things just haven't started yet.