Big 'ol girls

They never stop amazing me...these beautiful, wonderful, extraordinary little girls that are MY daughters. They are so filled with love and compassion, and they so freely express it in so many ways...this is a true, innocent gift that I treasure. We had an Americanized Brazilian bbq last night with some new friends from church and our NICU buddie Noah and his parents. Noah is a 24 weeker surviving twin who is now 2 years old. He has CP which makes it difficult for him to do the things a 2 year old wants to do. He just started crawling and boy does he get around now! His expressive language has really developed in the last few months so he can tell you what he wants, what he sees, etc. He has a mother who is so determined, so strong, so loving, and spends hours and hours each day working with him, helping him, caring for him and researching any form of therapy or treatment that may be helpful to provide her son with the best possible life he can have.

I loved seeing Noah, our new friend Isabella, Lily and Avery playing together. For Isabella and Noah our playroom was all brand new with lots of things to explore. The kids really seemed to have a great time playing and none of them really wanted to eat dinner...there was too much fun to be had! While the adults were eating, the kids were running around, chasing each other, eating food off our plates and just having a good time. Noah, who is just as big as Avery and Lily, can't sit up by himself unsupported yet, but he got in on the action by crawling around the family room. He likes to get under things so he stared crawling under and around these little kid chairs we have. Lily sat on top of one of them and started playing peek-a-boo with him and then Avery laid down under the other chair and did what Noah was doing. After a while they all got out from under the chairs and it was just Noah in the family room with us. He was still crawling around on his belly exploring his new surroundings. At one point he stopped (probably to take a little rest) and Lily walked over and just laid down right next to him and smiled and held his hand. It was so sweet!

As the evening was winding down the kids were revving up, no doubt trying to keep themselves awake. So we were in the girls bedroom reading books with Noah and sometimes with Lily and Avery and Isabella. The girls started chasing each other, down the hall and into the living room and back into the bedroom. Back and forth, back and forth...just screaming with laughter and giggles. Noah wanted to go after them. Each time the girls ran out he'd say "where girls?" asking "where'd they go?" And each time they reappeared he broke out into a big smile.

It was so wonderful to see Noah have a good time and to watch Lily and Avery interact and play with new friends. They were the perfect hosts, sharing their toys and baby dolls. Lily even let Noah hold her coveted "little tiny baby" (the baby from the fisher price doll house that she carries with her where ever she goes)...I don't think Noah or his mom realized how big this was for her to do...she rarely lets anyone hold that baby. I'm so thankful for the time we all had together. And I hope it was at least a small portion of time for Noah and his parents to simply enjoy themselves.

In addition to their huge loving hearts the girls are also showing me just how grown up they are. This week has been the week that I decided to start letting the girls fall asleep without me. We've always had a kind of attachment parenting approach with the girls, to always be acceptant, loving, and respectful of them and to make sure they always know they are safe and infinitely loved. Up until this week our bedtime routine was to lay down in their bed (they share a full size bed) to read books, say our prayer, and sing songs. Then I'd stay with them until they fell asleep. This is time that I have treasured and has been just as much for me as for them.

Lately this routine has been taking Avery a lot longer than normal and all the while she's playing with my hair (her security blanket) by entangling her hands in my hair and pulling (ouch!). So I broke out Harvey Karp's Happiest Toddler on the Block book and looked up the sleep section. He described three gentle, basic ways to help your toddler learn to soothe themselves. One was to sing the same song, but pretend you forgot to do something and leave the room, come back in a little while (he specifies the seconds and minute intervals to use) sing the song again and just keep repeating the pattern each time increasing the time it takes to come back in the room. I opted not to try this one for the simple fact that Avery and Lily would probably ask me too many questions each time I came back.

Another method was to stay next to the bed and each time they cried or tried to get out of bed to pick them up say "I love you" and put them back down. No additional cuddling or talking. Again I chose not to do this one because I think it would probably upset Avery more to have me right next to her, but not talking and not holding her. So I went with the third method...the one where you go through your same night time routine each night, keeping the lights dim, music soft, making sure it is a soothing routine. And then you tuck them in, saying "I love you. It's time to go night night" and leave the room. If they cry you open the door after 3 minutes and say "I love you. It's time to go night night." You repeat this, if they cry, in specific intervals...I did 3, 3, 5, 7, and 10 minutes. Avery was very upset and did not appreciate this new routine one bit. But one of the things I paid attention to was what Harvey Karp described about the type of crying to expect. He said it would not be a hysterical, I'm in pain, I'm in serious distress type of crying...it would be more of a "hey, I'm not getting my way, that's not fair" kind of protest. And he was right. It was definitely NOT Avery's serious cry...it was the "I'm not getting my way" cry...so I was able to sit outside the bedroom door and let her do this. She didn't cry continuously each time, it was more like 15-30 second intervals of fussing.

The first 3 minute intervals were tough for me...I heard Lily say repeatedly "Where mommy and daddy go?" and Avery say "Mommy yay down. Need mommy's hair." But they did settle down before too long. I made a mistake after the 7 minute interval; she went 9 minutes without crying at all but right when 10 minutes was up she fussed again. I should have just kept the door shut, but instead it was my "opportunity" to remind her I was here, that I hadn't abandoned her, so I opened the door and said "I love you. Time to go night night." When I shut the door she really lost it. Oh, I could hardly stand it. She only did this for about a minute but she did wake Lily up who said "Av-wee, don't cwy. Av-wee, don't cwy." And Avery stopped fussing. It was so sweet I wanted to run in there and hug and kiss them both!

Night number two...I only opened the door once after the first 3 minutes and then they were asleep. Night number three was a little like the first night, but not quite...I think we did 3, 3, 5, and by 7 they were asleep. Night number four we had Namo with us so I was a little worried that it would be harder to get them to agree to this new routine. But, we read books, said our prayer, sang songs, tucked them in and left the room. I was standing outside the door and didn't hear a peep until I looked over and there they were standing in the doorway. So I ushered them back in and tucked them in again. After I kissed them both Avery said "get c-yose to yiyi" so I put her right next to Lily and in another minute they were both asleep.

Tonight went pretty well too. Neither of them fussed at all...not one peep. Lily fell right asleep and Avery got up out of bed maybe 3 or 4 times but eventually she did snuggle up to Lily and fell asleep. I have to say I am very impressed. Richard and I both said we would have lost a bet if someone told us that it would take just 5 nights and they'd both be champs at soothing themselves. I'm proud of them and a little sad all at the same time. I have to add that they've also slept a little longer in the mornings since starting this and haven't woken up in the middle of the night like usual. This also makes me proud and sad at the same time.

My girls are growing up right before my eyes...each day they get a little bigger, a little more independent, and my love for them keeps growing right alongside them.


Beth said...

such a beautiful post... and i got some tips, too, for a new & gentle nighttime routine -- thank you!

Trish said...

ack! This post made me cry.. the girls soothing each other put me over the edge. So, so sweet!

P.S. we did the same method to teach Robbie to self soothe and it only took 3 nights. I wouldn't have thought it ever would have worked, either.. but sure enough..

Proud Mum of Noah (and angel Nathan) said...

Keira, you cannot measure how much we enjoyed that afternoon with you guys! Everything was so delicious-I wish we could stay for another day..:-) You did a great djob in the Brazilian style and it was delicious..your family is adorable, new friends are so nice and the whole energy was flowing in such a special way. The best, obviously, was the "girls" interacting with Noah-he was extremely happy and excited with the whole playdate thing. It was the best he ever had and he probably felt so good by showing off his mobility maneuvers to the friends who saw him when he was a pound something!!!
Thanks for being the special mum and friend you are. Zoe and Nathan were definitely part of this happy joyful afternoon!
Much Much Love

All time favorite video of Zoe!

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Bible verses that comfort me

"Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord."
~ 2 Corinthians 5:8

"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children....Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them"
~ Mark10:14 & 10:16

"...those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint"~ Isaiah40:31