Monday, July 26, 2010

Baby Formal Wear

You've seen these outfits from the twins' visit to my old workplace (so I'll spare you two of the pictures I've shown before even though they're some of my favorites). Grandma bought these and I think it looks like James had to go with his sister to prom, because he had no other prospects. Julia of course is rocking her favorite red bow.

The name's Pilloff. James Pilloff.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What I Didn’t Know About Being Pregnant

There was A LOT I didn't know about being pregnant until after I got knocked up. Here are some of the highlights that for the most part aren't in the books:

1) I was super clueless when I walked into my first maternity store. I pulled pants off the racks in my size and then the next 5 sizes up because I thought I would increase several sizes when pregnant. Stupid me - the sizes are the same as when you’re not pregnant - they just make them for your current shape plus a belly.

2) When they say, “stay off your feet,” stay off your feet. I think the instructions were to not be on my feet for more than an hour and a half at a time, but I really didn’t understand why, and since I worked out regularly I thought I was fine. In my third or fourth month I walked around the mall like I normally would for four hours. (I know... that sounds like something you shouldn’t do - pregnant or not - just for your own sanity.) My feet were swollen and I was in a world of hurt afterwards. No, not as swollen as my feet in these pictures (back by popular demand):

After giving birth because of pre-clampsia and hypertension

After the long drive from San Diego to San Jose

Generally I think the work-out instructions during pregnancy are very contradictory. You're told to both exercise and to stay off your feet. At what point do you transition from exercising just enough to needing to stay off your feet? (Exercise for 1 hour? Fine. More than 1 hour? Stay off your feet!) I stopped running as soon as I found out I was pregnant. A nurse told me that while it was safe to run, many women experience chronic incontinence problems later on because of it. ("You had me at incontinence.") I moved on to the eliptical machine instead and then, when my belly got in the way, walking for a half hour while I called to chat with my parents and in-laws.

3) Speaking of feet, your feet are always on display, especially as you get farther into your pregnancy. In my case I couldn’t wear heels - my shoe wardrobe consists of only heels and sneakers, no in betweens - so I went to the pregnant lady’s standby, flip flops. Be sure to get pedicures (or get your husband to do it).

4) I only learned about the line that goes down your stomach once I read a book on pregnancy. I’m surprised this isn’t mentioned more often.

5) Daddies-to-be never read the pregnancy books. I gave Mark a single chapter to read and he never read it. One of us had to read the books on what to expect before the birth and in the year to follow and that, of course, was me.

I like how this mom-to-be is already resigned to her fate of bringing a screaming, free-time-killing baby into the world and is already wearing unflattering mom outfits. Maybe Mark would have been more motivated to read his chapter if I'd had the updated version:

She seems to say "Yay! A baby is on it's way! And I can still wear hip, fitted clothing! Read me, Mark! Read me!"

6) Only 1 in 5 mothers-to-be experience their water breaking. (Note: all the literature now says “bag of waters” but I cannot get behind this trend.) TV makes it seem like all pregnant women experience their water breaking. I turned out to be one of the lucky 20%? (Actually I'm really glad my water broke since I then knew I was going into labor. I wouldn't have wanted to arrive at the hospital like the previous four false alarms, unsure if I was going to deliver. At least I knew there was nothing I could do about it and I could just enjoy the delivery.)

My water breaking was like this but in a bed. And I just want to take this opportunity to mention again how Mark forgot to bring me a change of clothes when I left the hospital after the delivery so I had to put on my water breaking clothes and underwear.

The delivery was like just like this. Two pale babies fell out.

7) Making a baby registry is really daunting. I started researching and reading reviews for each item on Amazon, Target, and Babies R Us. (I knew I was in trouble when I started reading reviews on things as mundane as travel wipes.) I did way too much research and it took me a couple months to put it together!


1) Go to Motherhood for full panel tummy pants. Some gals like the kind of pants where your baby gut hangs over the waistband but I was not one of them. I actually had to buy another pair of jeans (from Motherhood) when my first pair from Old Navy eventually got too tight across the belly (but then again I had twins). I wish I’d gone to Motherhood in the first place. They had corduroys, too! (And for those of you not in the know, A Pea in the Pod is ridiculously expensive. Avoid.)

My beloved maternity corduroys. (Not on me.)

Me at 22 weeks in my beloved maternity corduroys with Candice

2) Originally I planned on buying a dresser and putting the changing table on top of it, figuring that I would want a children’s dresser anyway and a changing table could only be used for a short amount of time. However, instead I highly recommend getting a changing table for cheap on Craigslist like I did. Changing tables have cubbies for everything you might need, and the changing pad fits nicely on top with a little guard rail.

3) Make a baby registry with a trusted mom friend. My friend April volunteered to help me and she explained what things were (flannel pads, waterproof pads, piddle pads...), and guided me on what to buy.

4) Bring glasses (if you wear them) to your ultrasounds! I was recently reminded of this by my pregnant friend Sara who forgot hers for an appointment. Invariably at every appointment I’d get ultrasound gel splooooted across my abdomen and then I’d realize I’d left my glasses in my purse. Without them it’s hard to make out the already hard-to-make-out action of the moving fetus (or, in my case, fetuses).

5) And finally, be sure not to be constipated after you deliver, and if you are come up with a plan on how to solve it with your doctor. A friend of mine gave herself an enema at home. That would have been a much better alternative for me than going to the hospital, waiting around to see a doctor with pain so bad it made me cry (someone who's had this problem said the pain was WORSE than child birth), and taking 8 hours until the problem was finally resolved.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meet James, Part III


Eating his hand
Any solid food
Being pulled from a lying to a sitting position (I call it "waterski")
Dinosaur poster (according to Grandpa)
Framed pictures over the sofa
Climbing Mt. Kila-mom-jaro
Flipping over when he should be napping
Grabbing his feet
Mommy's game of Near and Far (inspired by Sesame Street's Grover)
A blanket fluttered over his head
Lying on my legs while being sung to
Being lifted overhead to "fly"

Blond girl toy
Giraffe hanging toy
Vibrating bee on flower toy (especially his 1st month)

"Bicycle Race" sung while his legs are moved as though riding a bicycle
"The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room" sung to go to sleep
"Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing" sung with kisses on his face instead of "tweets"
"Here We Go a Diaperin'" (Mommy's diaper changing song)
"The Lion/Julia Sleeps Tonight" sung when it's time to go out in the stroller
"The Cornell Alma Mater" sung by Daddy
"This Old Man" sung by Grandma
"You Are My Sunshine" sung by Grandpa

James taking a bite out of his giraffe hanging toy.

James's favorite little blond girl is in the foreground. Notice how he ignores all the other toys just for her.

5 month old James snacks on his little blond girl.

Waking up from naps
New people
Mark playing "happy face/sad face"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Meet James, Part II

James looks like me but acts like Mark. Both can be shy and sensitive, are sensitive to noise and hate waking up. Mark used to get annoyed with a past roommate (who is not on Facebook, so if you're reading this it's not you) for daring to say "Good morning" to him when Mark was up only to go to the bathroom and planned to go back to sleep. He hated having to make even that much conversation. Like Mark, James will wake up and be quiet and stoic for quite awhile.

James is a nuzzler and we didn't realize how much he liked to be held until he learned to hold out his arms to be picked up. He held them out all the time. Then we felt bad for not holding him more - we just thought he didn't need it as much since he didn't complain. We worry that he will be ignored because he doesn't fuss as much as our princess. When they were a few months old, Julia often cried for her pacifier. James on the other hand occasionally cried but often would try not to - I'd sometimes see him struggle to get an edge of it in his mouth as though he didn't want to bother us. In their first few months we referred to James as our happy, easy, zen baby.

Mark goes nose to nose with 1 month old James

James the nuzzler. Taken at 5 months.

James is a big boy. He weighed one pound more than Julia at birth and now weighs 2 1/2 pounds more (though I think it looks like more because of his giant noggin). When someone picks him up, especially if they picked up Julia first, they are likely to say, "James, you're heavy!" Physically he resembles my father. He has big hands, big feet (size 12-24 month socks are already too small and Mark describes James's feet as "white anvils"), a really strong grip, a thick chest (not to mention multiple chins), and a tendency to get overheated. He was able to start tummy time early because he was strong in his chest - in fact his first time trying it in a clear bassinet at Kaiser he kept scooting to the front of it and we had to pull him back to start again. (I've since heard that when babies gain weight they no longer can do this early scooting and crawling.)

We think he's tongue-tied like his Grandma, Daddy, and Uncle Michael. His hair was curly at birth but has now settled into being straight after a few months during which he lost his cute birth hair and went bald. James is blond, with a strawberry cast, and very fair, with skin that rivals mine in pastiness. In pictures he can look like three totally different babies. I think it's related to his age.

The Three Different Faces of James:

Face 1 of James (seen 1-3 months): Lesser seen side view of big cheeked baby. Taken at 3 months.

Face 2 of James (seen 3-6 months): Blank pumpkinhead face that looks like me. Taken at 4 months. This is his camera smile, not his natural smile.

Speaking of blank pumpkinhead faces, is this James in The Nightmare Before Christmas?

James as an actual James-O-Lantern. Taken at 3 months.

Face 3 of James (seen 6 months - present): Recent addition to the face trio, taken at 7 months. Smile is rounder and less wide. Prettiest baby of them all methinks.

James loves to look around, explore, and be carried around to see things. Grandpa loves to show him the dinosaur poster (Mark got it from National Geographic and put it up a couple years ago as a joke and then we left it there). In fact in his first week home James kept staring at some framed art prints above our sofa, even though we thought they were too far away for him to see. Early on he was fascinated with some toys but would get frustrated with them easily because he couldn't manipulate them yet. When he plays with toys he is often very rough with them, either pounding the bejesus out of the hanging animals on his vibrating chair or stretching the arms of his activity mat really far so he can try to chomp those hanging animals. He seems to have strong fine motor skills for his age.

James also loves books. He'll hit the book in the area with a pop-up section so you'll open it for him, and he'll cry for another book when one ends. His feet move fast against each other when he's happy and excited, or sometimes when he's agitated. We joke that he's trying to start a fire.

Grandpa likes to show 5 month old James the dinosaur poster. (It's worth noting that James is wearing his "Snugglesaurus" outfit.)

All James wanted to do after he was born was look at the paintings behind Mark. Taken at 1 month.

James is pretty obsessed with books. Here he's looking at his favorite - Where's Baby's Belly Button? Taken at almost 5 months.

James with the hanging animals on the vibrating chair. This is a rare moment where James isn't pummeling the animals. Taken at 1 month.

If I were to make future predictions about James I would say he'll be the first twin to walk (but the second to talk - only because he's tongue-tied and Julia's more social). In life he will have really intense relationships with a few close friends. I know he's only one minute older but I think he'll behave like a traditional first born and be more serious, responsible, and duty-bound. He will go into math or science (and probably become yet another Dr. Pilloff). Grandpa thinks he'd be good at wrestling. (After seeing my forearms when I was born Grandpa predicted I would be a golfer. He said my brother would be a football player.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meet James, Part I

Other than their pale skin and blue eyes, James and Julia are night and day in terms of their physical appearance and their personalities. (On a side note I'm still not sure how we got two blue-eyed babies since I thought that was a recessive trait and Mark's eyes are hazel.) One thing that's been really interesting is seeing how their personalities have developed - believe it or not their personalities from their first week home are the same as now, 7 months later.

Enough about that though, and on to the man of the hour, James.

James is our sweet boy. He's sensitive and very intense and will gaze deeply into your eyes for long stretches of time. (Sometimes I watch TV while feeding him and I'll look down and realize he's just been staring at me the whole way through.) My mom describes him as wearing his heart on his face - if he sees you're sad he will start frowning. Today I was talking on the phone while walking the twins in their stroller. I was describing the hard time I've had lately getting James to take a nap when I looked down and saw James with red eyes about to cry. He never cries while out walking. I immediately petted him and told him that I loved him, and then he was fine. I don't know if he heard his name and perceived a negative tone to my voice or just saw that I was upset which made him upset. Or maybe I'm just looking too much into this.

James gets distressed if Julia cries, which is common with twins. He'll sometimes give an empathetic cry or, if he's being fed at the time, will be unable to eat. He also generally shows more interest in her than she in him. James tries hard to please - when I point a camera at him he will smile how he thinks I want him to smile (which is often different than his natural smile), and he even has smiled while on the verge of tears. Usually he seems to enjoy being photographed - he likes seeing me smile and smiling back at me - but the few times he was on the verge of tears he had a low grade fever and I didn't know it. So I try to be careful and make sure he's enjoying himself. He looks for approval, which is sweet but a little sad. He will grab his feet (his favorite new trick) or use his hands to push up his chest during tummy time and, since he's very proud of himself, will look for us to smile and encourage him. James is also sensitive to noise and Julia's shrieks often startle him. He's a light sleeper, is restless and thrashes in his sleep - lifting his legs and letting them fall down hard. He hates waking up and often greets the end of a nap with a loud cry. James is shy around new people, and sometimes cries when held by someone new. For a shy boy he has a very loud bellowing cry, and he also has an amusing grunt that I call his beached whale sound. But then his speaking voice is really soft and sweet.

My first favorite picture of James and the first one I got of him smiling, taken at just under 2 months

James's shy smile, rarely caught on camera, taken at 4 months

James's super wide smile at 4 months. Now his smile is a little rounder and not as wide. You can see his tongue has a crease in it because he's tongue-tied.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Video Break: The Twins Love a Blanket Fluttering Overhead

Those are my "weeeeee!"s. I highly recommend smothering your baby with a blanket. They will love it. This was taken 6/13/10.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Playdate with Oliver and Elliott

On June 6th the twins had their second playdate. This one was hosted by Rachel and Ryan, parents of 10 1/2 month old Oliver, whose head circumference is only rivaled by James's massive noggin. We hadn't seen them since joining them for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory the day I had my first pre-term labor scare. Thankfully nothing bad happened later in the day this time after seeing them. We were also joined by Alison and Tim, parents of 3 year old Zack and 11 month old Elliott. (Oliver and Elliott were last seen in this blog when they were newborns.) Julia was the only girl there so she was popular. (It helped that she was also in a better mood than James when we arrived.) You may recognize the twins' outfits from my last post.

Alison tries to hypnotize Julia...

...Julia would now think she was a chicken, if she knew what that was

Zack holds Julia and everything seems fine...

...until Julia suddenly turns rabid!

Rachel holds Julia

Oliver makes it over the obstacle course that is Rachel's legs

Rachel and Julia appraise each other


Ryan holds Julia while she checks out his library

Alison holds Elliott

James is very fond of Rachel

Mark shows off Julia's jean diapers. (Yes, you've seen it here before.)

Anderson Cooper, er... Ryan, and Oliver

Ryan, er... Anderson Cooper without Oliver