What would I do Differently

Spark and Silas are a little over two years old. I’ve been looking back on those two years + pregnancy and asking myself what would I do differently if I had the opportunity? I’ll share those thoughts with you, hoping maybe they might help someone else, or at the very least help me stay accountable. It’ll be embarrassing for me, but sometimes you just need to remind your self that you’re only human. I apologize for the poor grammar in this post.. I’m recovering from a migraine, and for some reason am having trouble keeping my verb tenses consistent.

I think that I did OK during Kim’s pregnancy. I supported her as best I knew how, and the twins were healthy when they were born. One change I would make would be my eating habits. With twins, plenty of calories are a good idea for Mom. Not so much for Dad. I didn’t gain much weight, but I could have eaten healthier and exercised more. I’m not in my 20s and should be taking better care of myself for the twins, and Kim.

Once the twins were born, there were some changes I should have made. I’ve never been a picture/ film person. I really should have taken more pictures and videos. I’ve mentioned that before, and it’s still true.

Way less TV/ Videos. Sometimes I just didn’t know what to do, and instead of toughing it out or learning, I’d pop something on for the twins to watch while I took a mental break. It became a crutch, as did the excuse, “They’re twins, they’re a lot of work.” Suck it up, Dad. We’ve pretty much cut out TV entirely now, except for some occasions like Saturday morning, or educational shows that we watch with them. I’m also thinking of making a video or two of our own, to help with stuff like colours, counting, etc.

Sleeping more. Sometimes there is no time to sleep. But often when there’s been time to sleep I’ve been taking “me time”. Reading, watching a movie, playing a game, surfing the net, and so on. Me time is important, but so is sleep. If I had slept more, I probably wouldn’t have felt such a need for me time.

Blogging more, or at least writing in a journal. It’s like photos and videos, but for your thoughts. Being able to look back at what you though, how you felt, and where you were personally seems important to me. A way to look back and see things get easier or harder, to reflect on decisions, and sometimes to laugh at yourself. We’re gonna run in opposite directions, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Spark and Silas at play

We’re gonna run in different directions, and there’s nothing you can do!

Learned more about how to help my kids learn what they need to. Now that Silas has lost most of his early language skills, we need to start somewhere near square one again. Except I don’t know what square one was. We did some reading (Kim read far more than I did) and just kind of faked it. People have been raising kids without books for a long time now. Well, now that we need to start over, I wish that we had a better background. Spark would probably be much further along if we had. Then again, maybe not. There’s no way to know, and no value in second-guessing yourself too much. But for now I’m reading more, and thinking about it more. We’ll get there, where ever there is.

I’d take them out more. When Kim was working and I was a stay at home dad, there was always an excuse to not go out. The truth is that it was just too much hassle. Get them changed, dressed, get snacks together, put together a diaper bag, and so on. Excuses, all of them. I should have put some clothes on them, gotten them in the stroller, and headed out. Once I started to go out more with them, it wasn’t easy, but it was fun. It’s still not easy, but some of it would be by now if we had gone out more.

I’d learn more about what to feed them. This is another thing we’ve just been winging it on. It’s tougher out here in Dawson where food is more expensive, and there’s less variety, especially in the winter. They eat well enough, and they’re healthy, but more variety wouldn’t hurt. I’m still working on that.

OK, that’s enough embarrassing myself for today. There’s things that I’ve done well, and overall I’d saw that we’ve done a good job, but there’s always room for improvement. By identifying these areas for improvement, we can start acting on them. As usual, thanks for reading.

There and Back Again

Consistent blogging is apparently not my forte. Hopefully I provide some degree of quality to compensate for the lack of quantity. When I write this blog, I want to do more than just talk about my life. I want to provide something of use to you.  On that note, here’s some quality (I hope).

One of my more recent posts I commented on the value of vaccinations. There’s been some controversy over vaccinations for infants because of a supposed link between them and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I’m no expect on the two topics, other than having had my vaccinations, and having been diagnosed with mild ASD. I am learning more about ASD, as our son Silas has been diagnosed with ASD. It’s an early diagnosis which gives us plenty of time to learn more and take action. Both of our children have had their vaccinations. One has been diagnosed with ASD, and one has not. I do not in any way believe that Silas “got autism” as a consequence of his vaccinations.

Around 18 months, Kim saw a poster detailing early signs of autism in children. Silas exhibited enough of the signs that she brought it up with a doctor. The doctor agreed that further evaluation was warranted, and appointments were made. We did a bit of a home evaluation, using the M-CHAT screening test, and it seemed to confirm our suspicions. Please note that the M-CHAT screening test should be administered and interpreted by professionals. If you have used it yourself and feel that there is a concern, please discuss it further with a medical professional. Evaluations, visits with a paediatrician, speech pathologist, hearing exams, and so on followed. So did a diagnosis for both Spark and Silas. As I mentioned, Silas has been diagnosed with ASD, and we’ve recently received a letter stating that Spark does not have ASD.

So what does all this mean? Well, he’s the same little boy that he was before any diagnosis. He wasn’t suddenly different one day because of the diagnosis. Life went on as usual. We’re taking time to read on the topic and learn fro the professionals out here. We play games to work on his eye contact, games that involve turn taking, games that involve thing he likes and required that he interact with others, and any other games we learn about. There are other things, but I like the games best. I think he might as well ;).

But there is a problem, and it has nothing to do with ASD directly. It’s a result of living in the Yukon, and living in Dawson City. The Yukon’s population is about 34,000 people, and I suspect that the percentage of children out here is lower than in most other places. As far as I know there are no permanent paediatricians in the Yukon. Getting an appointment with one means going on a list, waiting until one is in Whitehorse, and going there for your appointment. Typically one is in Whitehorse every couple of months. In addition, they only go to Whitehorse, which is about a 5 hour drive from where we live. In the winter that drive is longer, and not entirely risk free. This situation covers more than just paediatricians; it extends to most specialists. After waiting 4 or four months to find out when Silas can get a hearing exam, we get a phone call, asking when in the next 3 days we can come in for an appointment. We waited for months, and then had to drop everything to make the 10 hour return trip for his appointment. We were lucky and heading into Whitehorse the next day, but it could have easily happened at an inconvenient time.

In addition to all of this is the fact that there is little support out here. They daycares in town are full (a common problem  nearly everywhere) and there is no ASD support community near us. Even just getting a book to help us understand more involves either a trip to Whitehorse, or ordering one online and paying the shipping to the middle of nowhere. And these issues aren’t going to change any time soon.

So we’re moving out of the Yukon, and back to a more metropolitan area. Or at least somewhere closer to a metropolitan area. This isn’t the only reason we are moving, but it’s certainly the biggest. Family first. I have enjoyed it out here. It was rough for a while, but I’ve met some good people, and it’s so very beautiful here. If you ever hear the call of the Yukon I highly recommend that you follow your heart and come here.

Dawson City and the Yukon River

Overlooking Dawson and the Yukon River

Other than all of that, the twins are healthy and well. They’re a little behind in their development, but we are working to improve that. We’ll be here for another month or two, depending on how my job search goes. I’m looking forward to moving nearer a support network for our family, and am excited that we already have a paediatrician in the Lower Mainland. No waiting to get a family doctor, and then waiting for them to make a referral. I’m also looking forward to moving closer to friends and family. Being out here hasn’t always been easy.

Thank you for reading.

Spark and Silas Asleep

What a long post, you’ve earned a nap.

18 Months

I was kind of surprised when 18 months slipped by without me really noticing. I knew it was coming up, and then suddenly it had passed. I don’t feel badly about missing that anniversary and a half. To me it’s an indication of the relatively smooth cycle we’re in. The big events are fewer and farther between. Now it’s a lot of little steps. A new word or sign, showing understanding of things, starting to share toys, and so on.

 

It’s been a busy time since my last post. We’ve picked up everything, and moved to Dawson, Yukon. I had an interesting job opportunity that was worth relocating for. There were some concerns moving out here. While there is a small clinic, there’s no hospital. They’re building one, but until it’s completed the nearest one is a 5-6 hour drive away. There aren’t as many opportunities for them out here. There are a couple of play groups during the week. Fortunately it looks like there was a bit of a baby boom a while back, so there are other children near their age around, and other parents to talk to. Another concern is the future. Dawson is a small town, one that’s very far from a large city. I worry about their opportunities here. I was exposed to a lot as a kid, and it had a significant impact on who I am today. For now though, we’re happy here, and we’ll deal with those issues later.

Kim’s preparing lunch, and the kids need a bit of distracting while she does that. I’ll catch up with you all more later. Sorry there’s no pictures today, I’ll try to have some for my next post.

 

Needles

Today the twins had their one year vaccinations. They got needles stuck in them, they cried for a bit, and are all better now (for the most part). Vaccinations are good for your children and good for society. If you disagree with me, please provide current, unrefuted scientific evidence, or keep your uneducated opinion to yourself.

One Year (and a bit)

Thumbs up for birthday cake!

Thumbs up for birthday cake!

One year old. It’s funny how that year has at times felt like it was ten years, ans sometimes only felt like it was one month. That’s a bit cliche, to be sure, but who cares? What have I learned in one year of being a father, and being a father of twins? I’m not a big fan of giving advice about raising children for two reasons. I hate getting unsolicited advice, and every child is different. Having twins has reinforced that second part. What works for one does not necessarily work for the other. But you’re still reading this blog post, so I’ll assume that you’re interested in hearing what I have to say, and I’ll try to keep the information generic, and not child specific.

What I have learned:

  • You will sleep poorly. You may get used to it. You may not. It’s gotten better for us, but not by chance. We had to work at it.
  • Take a lot of photos and video. Especially for those first few months. You will probably sleep the worst during that time, and your recollection of it all may be a bit hazy. Photos and videos will help you remember those early days.
  • Twins attract attention. Parents will point them out to their children saying things like, “Look at the twins!”, in a tone much like you might hear at the zoo. “Look at the zebra!” I’m not used to it, but I tolerate it much better.
  • People, on noticing your twins will say stupid things, because they want to talk, but have nothing to say.
  • Your children are tougher than you think. They stumble, fall crash, smash, thump, bump, and tumble. They probably didn’t even notice.
  • Your children are more fragile than you think. The wrong bit of food, a sudden noise, a knee on a pebble, a flash of light, and a million things you never even saw. All of these things can start tears. They need you and want you. Be there for them.
  • You are their best friend, favorite toy, and coolest thing. They will light up when they see you, and cry when you leave. They love you no matter what. Return the favour.
  • They’ll take their own time to learn things. Encourage them, but don’t force them. This works for feeding, walking, crawling, sitting up, playing, talking, and anything else you can think of. Around six months I was very concerned about their development. Now I just do what I can to help and encourage them. I read and talk to people about good ways to encourage and help them, then adapt the ideas to the twins and our lifestyle.
  • Sometimes you’re going to be lost, confused and stressed. It’s part of the process. Accept it, even embrace it. It will pass
  • Sometimes you’re going to be ecstatic, overjoyed, and amazed. It’s part of the same process. Enjoy it.
  • People will offer advice. They mean well, regardless of the quality of their advice.
  • There will be poop.
  • Be involved. Every day I wish that I had spent more time with them the day before. It’s going to be heartbreaking for me when I go back to work.
  • You will read things and talk to people that will make dads seem like second class parents. You’re not. Parenting is a team effort. Carry your weight, and no matter what anybody says, you will never feel like less of a parent. And to you’re kids, you’re both number one.
Excellent cake, my compliments to the chef.

Excellent cake, my compliments to the chef.

I could probably keep going for a while, but I’m sure you get the picture. Feel free to add your own insights in the comments if you like.
Thanks for reading.
rjb

Almost a Year Old

It’s beginning to look like four months between posts is the norm for me now. I’m sorry for that. I tend to want to write, rewrite, edit, proof, rewrite, edit and so on before posting. And that sometimes just doesn’t work when you have twins. In a recent job interview, another blogger pointed out that for various reasons, a  less than perfect post has its advantages. I’ve also recently been introduced to the phrase, “Perfect is the enemy of good”. So here’s a good post for you.

To be honest, it may not even be that. So much has happened over the last few months, as can be expected. Even a summary wouldn’t do it justice.

The twins are doing great. They are happy and healthy. Mom and I are doing pretty well ourselves as well. I’ve learned to relax a lot more regarding their development. I still look at websites to see what’s normal for their current age, but I try not to be too concerned when they’re not where they “should” be. The differences between one and the other are so great at times that I can see how talking about what’s normal for children of a certain age is a joke.

Spark on a Swin

Who wants Daddy's hat?

So how are they developing? Well, they stand more or less on their own now. Once in a while they’ll take a tentative step or two when they’re not thinking about it. We’re all still working on mastering solid food. They eat fine when fed from a spoon, and like finger food. They still think spoons are for banging on things, and not feeding themselves.  Kim and I are changing what and how we eat, and I’m trying to make more foods that we can give to them while we eat. I still need a lot more work in that department. They know a couple of ASL signs, but rarely think to use them. Sometimes we’ll notice that they sign for “milk” or “food” and we’ll get them something. Of course it’s hard to tell what’s a sign and what isn’t. We just assume that it is, and hope that it reinforces the behavior. They don’t really use words, but they’re starting to get certain sounds down. They also both like to clap when in the right mood. And they love their kazoos. We bought a couple of them yesterday, and by the end of the day they both had a pretty good idea how to use them.

The most significant thing to report on is sleep. For a long time, every night our routine was somewhat erratic. We’d feed them and put them to bed roughly at the same time. Very roughly. And putting them to bed meant giving them a bottle, holding them, rocking them, gently putting them down, picking them up when they cry, trying again, and again, and again. This process was less than fun. It was also made worse because Spark started to dislike her crib a lot. More or less no matter how tired she was she would cry and scream when you put her in it. Eventually we stopped using the crib and put some blankets on the floor for her, which solved that problem. They would fall asleep anytime between 7pm and 10 pm. Then they would wake up at night, and we’d rush to get up with them, so one doesn’t wake the other. A bottle, a change of diaper, some rocking, and hopefully back to sleep. This would happen two to six or more times every night, for five minutes to two hours each time.  Which is no fun. Something needed to be done.

After some research, we decided on sleep training, and a method. I’m not going to go into the details, since this post is already getting a bit long. In short, in a couple of  days Spark started to fall asleep in her crib, and at night does so easily. we started a very regular bedtime  routine, and it has mad a difference. When they wake up at night they generally can soothe themselves back to sleep. For now they are sleeping in different rooms so that they don’t wake each other easily. We hope to get them back into the same room before long.

Daytime naps are a problem though. Silas does OK, but Spark still hates her crib during the day, and has trouble being put down for naps. We’re working on various solutions. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I could probably keep writing, but until I get a self-cleaning house, there’s work to be done. I hope to talk to you all again soon. Certainly sooner than for months from now.

Coming up on 8 months

Sigh.

My last post was 4 months ago. Twins make life busy, but not that busy. A lot has happened over the lat 4 months, and instead of trying to sum up events, I’ll try to sum up the experiences.

The babies are doing well, and have been doing well. That’s not to say that they’ve been in perfect health the whole time. Silas had a high fever a while back that had us wondering if we should take him to the hospital. Spark has been teething for what seems like forever, without cutting a tooth. Teething has been unfun for her. Enough that we’ve been to the hospital/ clinic a few times because of the pain she’s been in. The doctors mutter something about it probably being teething, and move on. They’ve had most of their shots. They’re miserable for a day or two after, but feel better later. Come to think of it that’s what gave Silas his fever last month.

Kim and I are doing well. I wish we had more family out here, so that we could leave the twins with them and head out for a date or something more often. We could use more time together, but spending time with the babies isn’t exactly a hardship.

A while back, Holly sent us this video, which nicely sums up what going out with twins can be like.

I think for myself, the biggest thing has been not letting the twins keep me in the house. While Kim was out working, I spent a lot of time at home with the twins, not grabbing the stroller and going for walks. There was some inertia that kept me  at home. When Kim was at home, I wouldn’t go out much, at most just a short walk, often just to the grocery store and back. I still don’t know why it was so hard to leave the house, but I’m getting over it now. I’m volunteering with some things that interest me, and that forces me out. I had a theory as to why it’s been hard, but I’ve managed to forget it, so I think it may not have been a good theory. If I remember it, I’ll mention it here.

Money is a constant concern. Babies ain’t cheap. We’ve been getting a lot of help with hand-me down clothes, and buy things second-hand like their swing and excersaucer when we can. If you have or are expecting a baby or two (or more) you may want to sign up for the various offers manufacturers have. The coupons that come in the mail help a lot. I just wish we were sent twice as many. Oh well.

Spark is wondering why I’m at the computer and not tending to her every need right now. She’s developed that habit of the past few months. Hold me, carry me, play with me, or I will cry, and generally make you feel like you’re neglecting me, even though you aren’t. But Kim is trying to sleep, so I’ll go comfort Spark.

I’ll try to update more. No promises though.

Now to find a pic to upload, since nobody likes a wall of text.

The Twins

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