Thursday, 24 October 2013

NOT a first time mom

I'm so glad I'm not a first time mom...

You wouldn't believe how many times I have thought this since the twins were born.

I remember feeling so overwhelmed before Lucas was born. I had hardly held a baby, dare I say it, I think I hadn't even changed a diaper. And now they were going to let me leave the hospital with this baby; that I was to feed, change, bathe, love and care for - without instructions? 

Due to his somewhat stressful arrival, it was hours before we really got to see and hold him. The feeling of cradling that swaddled little boy for the first time was so amazing. And, did I mention, overwhelming? We unwrapped his little blankets, holding him so gently, and also a little awkwardly as we tried to figure out how to hold a newborn...

Of course, after a day or two it all seems very natural, and you can hardly remember what life was like before. The learning curve for new moms is so steep, coupled with recovery from labor and delivery and at least a few weeks of severe sleep deprivation - it's no easy feat! And yet, we keep going back and doing it again? Why?

I think the answer to that is pretty obvious; it gets "easier" with each successive baby. I'll admit, when we were expecting Elena I felt quite anxious about going through the whole baby thing again, and questioned myself over so many details of the infant stage; would she breastfeed well? how would I balance a baby and a toddler? when and how will we start solids? can we synchronize their naps? And all that worrying for nothing - Elena integrated herself into our life so seamlessly and all those stages and milestones passed by so quickly and easily. (I know it's easy to say that now with two potty trained, sleep trained, food trained pre-schoolers, and at the time it probably all didn't "feel" easy - it just turned out easier than I expected)

I guess that's why they say the third time's the charm! When we first found out we were pregnant with baby #3, I had no doubts about my abilities as a mother and very few worries about how to include a baby within our day to day routine.

Then we found out we were having twins!

This unexpected surprise threw me for a bit, and my mind immediately raced weeks and months ahead as I tried to imagine nursing, bathing, feeding, soothing and looking after two little ones. So as we prepared for their arrival and made it through the first few hard weeks of infancy, this thought kept coming back to me, "I'm so glad I'm not a first time mom!". I think it would be so hard to have twins as your first baby experience and I'm glad I didn't have to go through that! Lucas and Elena prepared me so well for another baby - even the fact that they are so close in age! I already knew how to do all the newborn things - now it was just a matter of learning to do it with two.

So if you're a first time mom, or even a second-time mom, wondering about this journey of motherhood, be encouraged. It does get easier; and those skills of nurturing and caring for a baby come so quickly. Don't worry about having all the right "stuff" or following all the rules. Even if there were no cribs, strollers, car seats, baby bathtubs, bottles, pacifiers, baby swings (ok, this list could go on all your baby needs is you! Isn't that amazing? So don't stress out if your baby is hungry 2.8 hours after their last feed, or if they haven't had a bath in two days, or if they need an extra nap one day. Respond to their cries, listen to them, and gently guide them and grow them.

The biggest lesson I've learned from my twins so far has been about sacrifice. It was easy for me to imagine adding one other little one to our lives. So easy, and so little sacrifice. With twins I am constantly reminded of my need to give of myself - my time, my body, my dreams, for their well-being.

And we all know, that in the end, the sacrifice will be worth it. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Five months - Rolling, Rotating and Raspberries

It's been a pretty quiet month here, mostly because of all the sickness we've dealt with. Lisa and Leila were the best sick babies ever! They handled their chicken pox so well and we are so glad to have that chapter behind us.

Lovely photos taken by someone at church this week!
Increasing mobility has been the big thing these past few weeks. No more leaving the baby on the sofa to grab a diaper, wipes or clothes, lest a baby roll off! Leila can turn herself onto her belly in a matter of seconds. Lisa is still working on this skill, she prefers to rotate around on her back.

Remember how they used to sleep like this all night long?
 Now this is how they wake up!

This month they'll definitely be moving into their own cribs. Unfortunately we can't fit both cribs into our bedroom, so it seems fairer to move both babies into their own room, rather than keeping one with us and one on her own in a separate room. Sleep hasn't been the best this month either, which is keeping me from making the switch. Both girls are waking up at least twice a night. I'm thinking the kicking and moving around doesn't help! Hoping they'll start sleeping better soon.
Just a usual afternoon in the Portela household. 
Both girls are expanding their vocal abilities, and Lisa has perfected the raspberries. Leila loves to laugh, especially at Lucas' antics. Both the older kids love to play with the twins, although Elena is still learning how to be gentle. The twins are dying to sit up and are holding and playing with more of their toys. Next month we'll begin a gentle introduction to solids.

I just can't quite believe they are almost half a year old! The 3 - 6 month age is one I absolutely love (more so when the baby is sleeping at night, but I've gotten so used to it, I can hardly remember how many times I've been up by the next morning).

You think it's hard to get a good photo of one baby,... try it with two! 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Play of the Day

Alternately titled; "Who needs toys?"

Apart from one or two special items that my kids are really into, we actually don't get a lot of play out of our toys. It seems that kids can make a game out of anything, and if I can allow them to be occupied with other "things" and encourage their imagination and a bigger sense of "play" then I go for it. (As long as the mess is not too extravagant! See this bean experiment here...)

So for anyone wondering what my kids get up to when their toys just aren't hitting the spot, here are a few examples...

1. Let's use the chairs and stools to make a jail in the kitchen!

2. Mmmmm! Cinnamon and Sugar! Seriously, she was occupied with this little bowl for at least 20 minutes, and didn't even make too much of a mess. Nor did she eat all of it.

3. Oooh! Plastic containers! Admittedly this one didn't last long before he was into a "cooking" adventure involving juice, milk, flour, mustard, basil, nutmeg and parmesan.... I should have gotten a picture of that "cake" when it was done; Lucas and Elena actually tried eating it. Might have to guide the cooking a little more next time so it ends up somewhat edible.

4. Yay! Boxes to rearrange! 

5. Let's play TV! On the air, a special episode of the Backyardigans, for about 5 minutes before they rearranged everything into an obstacle course.  

Looking through these, it appears my kids spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Other things we do usually involve moving furniture in the living room to create "houses"or obstacle courses. Ok, who am I kidding, with four kids in our small-ish house and the baby paraphernalia, our house IS an obstacle course! 

What do your kids like to play with? 

Friday, 11 October 2013

When it Rains...

Be thankful you have an umbrella...

So, it's not been the easiest of weeks in these parts. We received some disappointing news, which has sparked a multitude of discussions and prayers and worries. Along with some unforeseen changes, life is feeling a little unsettled.

We've also been dealing with a lot of sickness, most notably in the form of chicken pox. As I'm writing this, new pox seem to be appearing on Leila every minute. She is the last of the girls to get it. Elena caught it from someone at school and we've just been waiting to see when the twins would catch it. Lisa seems to be over the worst already.
Chicken pox girls - love their expressions in this photo
On top of this, Elena came down with come kind of virus which left her unable to keep anything down for two days. Not even water. After a quick trip to see her doctor, we were assured it was just a stomach bug, and one dose of medicine seems to have cured her. Today it looks like Lucas has got it too.

While it is easy to feel overwhelmed when life throws a ton of stuff your way, I've found that having a positive attitude and looking for things to be thankful for goes a long way to helping me weather the storm. Some of my "umbrellas" in this latest storm include:

- A wonderful Skype call with an old friend that was encouraging and uplifting, even though we are continents apart, and haven't spoken in a long time.

- It wasn't actually rainy this week, which made it easier to be somewhat quarantined with three sick girls. A little sunshine goes a long way.

- Lucas had a whole day field trip on Wednesday, and we knew he was having a great time and well taken care of, so we could look after the girls and take Elena to the doctor.

- My hubby, David, who works mostly from home was able to rearrange his schedule to help with the kids; from nap time to bath time he is such a "hands on" dad and our kids love him to pieces. I do too!

- These verses from Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

This psalm is one that has been close to my heart for a long time. It is one that my mom used to read to us before she left us at boarding school at the beginning of each term. I love the image of God covering us, sheltering us from the storms of life. It doesn't mean that storms won't come; we need the sunshine and the rain to grow, but that through the storms we have a refuge. God is your umbrella. Even if you think you have nothing else to be thankful for, God is there.

What's the "weather" like in your life right now?
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