On jet-lag and time zones

We’ve been back three days from our trip to Paris and London.
The trip back was relatively easier because we had the short flight to Amsterdam first, then the long one when the children normally sleep. They woke up as we landed at two pm.

Probably due to fatigue L fell right into her Chinese time schedule. R stayed at GMT. He slept around three am.
Yesterday L’s excitement kept her going when she woke up at six am, what would be the middle of the night. R also woke up around that time, had some milk and slept again until noon. Last night L went to bed at eight pm, and R at two am.

Intriguing yet not surprising that it happened. Two very separate schedules. Not ideal twin parenting technique. Lots of one-on-one time though. Necessary after such travel – a packed schedule and many new people to hang out with everyday.
Maher and I slept in shifts, neither here nor there.

Today R,L, and M are on a similar schedule – in between the two time-zones. I am back in Europe.

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Days and dates re: the last post

Aside

Since TODAY is Sunday, yesterday must have been Saturday. I don’t know the date on most days. I obviously don’t have the days down either.

Before R and L were born I didn’t miss a birthday or anniversary. Yesterday Maher reminded me that it was the 7th of May, a date we arbitrarily picked to  represent the start of our relationship. I suddenly had sweet memories of spring in Montreal. I suppose he did too.

M suggested we hang out – just the two of us.

Bob Dylan in Shanghai

A couple of Fridays ago we flew to Shanghai, hung out in a hotel room for a few hours, then took the crowded peak-hour metro to the Shanghai Grand stage. Bob Dylan was performing. The crowds in the subway on a Friday evening could overwhelm anyone. I don’t know how L and R made it without a problem and even enjoyed it. Not only that R fell asleep in his carrier. L was exhausted but in typical L fashion she rebelled sleep. The bright lights, masses of people, and noise were her co-conspirators.

We filed into the stadium/theatre all very excited. It was our first concert together. We waited in our seats as the rest of the place slowly filled up. The people around us were easy-going and cool. They made space for us with our two babies, two baby carriers, one back pack and diaper bag. We got many understanding and encouraging smiles.

While we waited, I wondered whether our families worries about taking one-and-a-half year olds to a full-on concert would actually confirm and result in a quick return. Would the loud music harm their sensitive little ear drums? Would they be overwhelmed by the sheer massive experience of thousands of people in a large space? And what about weed? I had assured everyone that if there was any difficulty for the children we would simply return to the hotel. No big deal really.

I wanted to do this. Maher suggested we go to the concert, but only if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. I knew this was a big deal for him, so trouble or not we would try. Maher’s main music idol as a child and probably always has been Bob Dylan. He often sang BD songs with his high school band. He introduced me to some of the songs and music over the last few years. M and his brother who was also somewhere in the audience with his girlfriend and mum share their admiration for the artist. They were happy there “together”.  All in all it was a special moment for us.

When the music started, Leila was one of few people in the entire stadium of many thousands to bounce in her seat. She smiled, danced and clapped her hands. In typical China concert style, everyone sat put in their seats and bobbed their heads from time to time. Rahul slept through the first twenty minutes. The loud music couldn’t have been that bad after all. When he stirred I wondered if he would be shocked by the context. He looked out towards the stage and clapped his hands! We laughed. What joy. One clapping the other dancing.

Never mind that BD is 70, his style was different yet again, and his voice even more raspy, we were happy to be there. He was criticized for accepting to give a set list of songs that he would perfprm to the Chinese authorities. He was not to sing “Blowin’ in the wind” and a few other pieces.  Apparently he doesn’t do them in concert anymore anyway. He is still on his “never-ending tour”, and we caught him in Shanghai. For Maher being there was an hommage to the artist he adores.  We took L and R to their first concert. It was BD. Only while we were at the concert did I realise that Maher’s first concert was a BD one. It was in Paris. His father took him when he was ten.

A little after Rahul woke up, L started to cry from exhaustion. I carried her to the back where a few people were dancing. She fell asleep in my arms as we danced. Maher carried Rahul over to join us. They both seemed happy listening and moving to the music. A man asked if we always took “the kids” to concerts, and said he wished that his parents had. We didn’t stay till the end; missed “Like a rolling stone”, and his usual show ending song “Forever young”. But we had our moment and won’t forget it.

Me…start a blog?

Over the last two years my world has revolved around taking care of Leila and Rahul, my almost year-and-a-half twins. So to start a blog now, seems a bit strange. What could I possibly have to say? I don’t know which regimes are being toppled over, I haven’t seen photos of the effects of the recent earthquake in Japan, I don’t know what yoga workshops are on in the region, don’t know if Federer is still kicking ass, or who presented at the Chengdu Bookworm literary festival; or anything for that matter. Outrageous, I know.
Only a few years earlier I didn’t even know what a blog was until friends in Chengdu complained that they couldn’t access blogspot. Facebook, YouTube, and a number of blogging sites can’t be accessed in China.
After some complications in my pregnancy while in China, I ended up spending 4 months in bed including 7 weeks in hospital, split into 4 different hospital stays.
A number of foreign doctors here, in Shanghai, and Beijing recommended that we leave for the birth, due to the high risk of going into preterm labour and possible lack of high level care for premature babies.
So went to Hong Kong at 26 weeks gestation. L and R came at 31 weeks, and were cared for at the Queen Mary NICU.
The bed-rest, high-speed internet and open access to all sites meant lots of time on the internet, and my initiation to blogs. But it was only when L and R were five-months-old, after my mum who had spent 9 months with me left, and both of those things coincided with our return to Chengdu that I really got into it.
I came upon some blogs that MoT’s wrote. For the first time in a long time I felt like I could relate. They wrote how exhausted they were, how they only bathed their babies a couple of times a week, rarely dressed them in anything other than pyjamas. I didn’t feel as guilty anymore that L and R didn’t go out everyday. They weren’t the only ones. To have them both ready to go out meant nappies changed, both well fed, not too tired, and a big diaper bag full of provisions.
I remember a post by a father of twins about how his two-year-old girls were finally sleeping through the night, most of the time, anyways. So my two waking up a few times each and every night means I can still be considered in the norm.
One mum wrote about her birth story; similar to mine – it included flights, hospital stays for both mum and babies, pumping pumping pumping, stress, fear, pain, relief.
Then there was one couple that blogged about their micro preemie twins birth, NICU stay including all the medical details, the obsession with weight gain, the monitors, breathing, digestion, good days, bad days. It wasn’t the most fun blog I ever read. They were born much earlier than L and R, but I could relate to much of it and realised that I would have to deal with this part of R and L, and in fact all of four of our lives one day, and to be at peace with it somehow.
Reading these stories was like holding a mirror out in front of me. a way to see what we had been through, a way to realize we were not alone – and importantly to let go of it.
There were honest, touching posts as well like the one HDYDI MoT, rebecca, who wrote One Baby Envy ( http://hdydi.com/2008/03/02/one-baby-envy/ ). Others complained about the silly questions (  http://multiples.about.com/od/familyissues/tp/aatpquestions.htm) they got when they took their twins out. If I get started on the questions and comments I got in Chengdu it would never end.
Sometimes the comments were funny – MoM’s bitching about how J Lo (on the cover of People Magazine March 2008) could possibly look as perfect so soon after she had her twins.
I related to these parents and it helped with the isolation I sometimes felt being in China without my family and with no experience with babies whatsoever. Neither of my brothers or brothers-in-law have children. One of my childhood friends has a son in Zambia who I haven’t yet met. I had held one of my friend’s tiny babies in Lebanon a couple of times last year feeling clumsy and incapable all the time. So yes, I had that experience.
I had a few parenting books. They only briefly covered twins if at all.
But, we were together again, the four of us in Chengdu. That was our main source of strength. I had help from people here. L and R ‘s nanny or “ayi” meaning aunty as she is called endearingly is a superwoman, a great source of real support and help.
A friend as close as I imagine a sister to be was strong and present when I needed her most.
Another friend lent me lifesaving books at every stage along the way. And there were many others who made up my “village”, both in real life and in my blog life. The crazy thing now is that sometimes my kids both sleep for a few hours at the same time, but silly me stays up to blog.
In addition to relating to other mums and dads on blogs, I found tips, such as this post ( http://hdydi.com/2008/04/05/product-review-double-strollers/) that gives advice about choosing a double stroller that works for you depending on it’s use, tips like store big quantities of diapers, wet -wipes, food etc. so you don’t need to go out to the stores until really necessary. Obvious, but hey at least I don’t feel crazy when I walk into my pantry and see the hoarding.
There were videos of calm mums simultaneously feeding their babies. R and L were rarely on the same schedule, so it didn’t apply, but still nice to see how others do it.
So even though I live in this tiny world of eating, playing, bathing, trying to schedule, exploring and sleepless nights, I feel like I am above water, some of time at least.
So now I have the occasion to share my own stories and maybe get some interaction going. Perhaps a new mum, even a MoT will come across it and feel she can relate, find some useful information, or just have a laugh. I would be glad to contribute to that somehow.
These are stories for R and L to read one day if they want to. And if nothing else a way for friends and family to keep up with our lives in China, or wherever.
The other day I read a blog about the therapeutic effects of blogging. That did it for me, a few minutes later I signed up! Not really, but it made me realise that every time I put down my thoughts they rarely came out negative or depressive, but rather I manage to find the “funny” in things, now that I am not sinking all the time, of course.
It reminded me of a phrase from a song my dad often used to say to his not so smiley teenage daughter, “When you smile the whole world smiles with you. When you cry, you cry alone.”