We took the twins on their first trip on the subway last week. We needed to go into Manhattan for a doctor’s appointment. Luckily, D and I were both going, because I still haven’t figured out how I could take them on the subway alone. We each put one twin in a moby (D) or ergo (me).
The appointment was near Columbus Circle at 8 am. We’d need to leave about an hour to get there. At rush hour trains can be packed so full you don’t need to hold the pole because you sway together with the other standing passengers squeezed against you as one tight people mass. We crossed our fingers that, leaving a bit before 7, we would just miss the rush. There was the option of a cab, but all the way uptown would be expensive and seemed unnecessary.
The first train wasn’t too crowded. A young man got up and offered his seat. At 36th Street we stood there waiting as the platform slowly filled with people and no train came, conscious that every minute that passed brought us closer to the 9 am rush. Luckily, we didn’t encounter one of those cattle car commuter trains, just ones uncomfortably full with people standing too close sneezing and hacking. One woman sat next to us applying her mascara, nose dripping away with no tissue. I tried to angle myself away from her.
On the way back, there must have been work happening on the tracks, because the conductor kept suddenly blowing the deafening horn, and we’d rush to put our hands over the babies ears, who made sad shocked faces each time. This in addition to the soot-blackened walls, which come to seem normal, and what looked like vomit between the seats across from us.
This was also the babies’ first time in Manhattan. It made them seem very small. But the subway vibration at least must have been soothing, because both directions it lulled them to sleep.
Since I feel like I’m about to go insane with this sleep training, I wanted to record a moment of peace we had yesterday in the park. D went shopping at the co-op in the morning. When he got back the fridge was all stocked with food.
After feeding the babies, we each put one in a moby wrap, brought a picnic blanket, a package of dumplings with two forks, a couple croissants and and some plums. For about an hour we sat in the park with the babies, nibbling the food and looking at the view.
The babies lay on the blanket kicking their feet and looking up at the clear blue sky, wispy white puffs of clouds and silhouetted branches of trees. Below us the grass sloped down to that perfect view of Brooklyn and the Manhattan skyline. At one point, a few flickers took off from a nearby tree, heading toward Greenwood Cemetery. Two handsome German ladies set up a picnic nearby with their two-year-old daughter, who had a short pixie cut and a pale pink dress. They smiled at the twins as they passed. From behind we could hear lively music from a group of Chinese dancers.
Everything felt right.
I’ve become obsessed with getting a full night’s sleep. I’ve figured out that getting the babies to sleep through the night has something to do with their napping schedule, so I’m now keeping careful charts of when they eat and sleep. Gone are the days of me lulling them to sleep when and where ever, on the nursing pillow, rocking chair, moby wrap or swing. Now I’m watching them like a hawk for the first signs of drowsiness, then I wrap them in a blanket, kiss them and put them in the crib to fall asleep.
The hope is that they will learn to soothe themselves. This, I’ve read, is what determines sleeping through the night. That they can wake for a moment but remain calm and coax themselves back to sleep.
I’m proud to say that one twin slept through the night last night for the first time. She has also mastered thumb sucking, which I don’t think is unrelated. The other, unfortunately, was up crying from 3 am until morning, so it’s really double or nothing on the twins sleeping front.
We will get this, though. I think. I hope. And then maybe my brain will work again and I’ll be able to remember things for more than two seconds. And this headache will subside.
Charts of the babies’ sleeping and feeding for the last few days.
I’m trying to keep the guilt and stress from ballooning out of proportion in my brain. I want to pick them up, I want to rock them to sleep. But this is what’s best, I know, for all of us.
Did I say the babies were sleep trained? Not so much. There were a couple nights where they slept until 5:30, and a few where they slept until 4:30. Then the night before last when they woke up at 2:30 again…
We were getting up when they did to check on them, and most times ended up getting them out of bed to change them. The last few nights we also started giving them a pacifier to quiet them back to sleep.
After reading up on sleep training, I realize maybe giving them the pacifier wasn’t the best idea in terms of helping them learn to soothe themselves. So last night we tried the Cry It Out method for real. They woke at 12 and cried, fell back sleep then woke at 1:30 and cried for two hours, fell back asleep finally, then woke one final time before waking at 5:45 am.
Did I mention they are in our room? In the same crib? Did I mention we are in an apartment building? Did I mention this involved listening to my babies crying all night? Maybe deciding to do this starting Monday night wasn’t the best idea, either. A full night of real sleep, though, is becoming urgent.
Last night, after two hours of crying, I finally heard the sound of sucking as one twin, and then the other, found a hand to suck on. I was so happy for them. Congratulations Little Ones; self-comfort, first life skill.
My next mission is to figure out some good nap times. Right now they are both in their cribs drowsy, hopefully dropping off for a good nap. Sleep is complicated, it turns out, and there’s a lot we have to learn.
Yesterday, for about an hour and a half, I was alone in the house. This has not happened for four months. D and my sister, who was visiting, took the babies out to the park. I have a bit of a cold, so I begged out. What a sense of freedom. I really am a home body, I guess. This felt as liberating as going out by myself, maybe more so.
First I ate lunch. Very slowly, no crying baby, no baby on me obstructing the path from my plate to my mouth. Then I just lay down on the bed. Rested my tired muscles. Closed my eyes and took a little nap. No babies to entertain. No rush with anything. What euphoria. Of course, after about an hour I missed them.
Baby M was very comfortable.
Sometimes even the moby wrap doesn’t make it better (self portrait with Bean).
Almost eight hours of continuous sleep. Last night was the most sleep I’ve gotten in the four months since the babies were born, and probably for at least two months before that, too, when I was experiencing the discomforts of late twin pregnancy.
They went to sleep at 10 pm and didn’t wake up until 5:45 am. My brain feels lighter! Cleaner! The fog is lifting! I won’t say I couldn’t use a few more of those to feel myself again, but still.
Could it be that we sleep trained them in one night? I don’t dare say it. Probably tomorrow they will wake up at 2 am screaming. Still, feeling proud of these babies and more hopeful about the future. Onward!
So according to our pediatrician there is no reason why these babies can’t be sleeping through the night now. They’re big enough, they’re strong enough, but gosh darn it they are not sleeping through the night. Sometimes they sleep for seven hours straight…and sometimes only four.
It seems the way to fix this is by sleep training. Up until now, when one of them would cry at night, we’d wake the other, too, and feed and change them both. When we asked the pediatrician how to sleep train his helpful suggestion was to “try not to pick them up.,” though he did smile a bit apologetically when he said it.
So last night they cried tag team style. Starting at 4:30 a.m. Bean cried for an hour, and then when she fell back asleep, space monkey #2 picked up the slack. At 6 a.m., M was crying and Bean was fast asleep, so we ended up having to wake Bean so we could feed both at the same time. Is this confusing to them? It’s confusing to me. Is it nap time yet?
I love these babies’ mouths. Not sure I really captured it here. From far back they are rosebuds. From up close they are goofy and irresistibly cute. Sometimes turtle-like.
They’ve both started drooling more. Is it the mouth shape? Or early teething? Anyway I’m celebrating it as a new development. Why not. Yay drool.