Sheesh. I am in Boston at my parents. I drove with the kids on Friday, leaving Homestead Mama behind to work through Tuesday. I've been wanting to travel with the kids to see my parents & sister for months, but have been intimidated by the daunting task of parenting them by myself, nursing them both 24 hours a day by myself, tackling bedtime by myself. I could only go where I have excellent support, which is why I was thinking of Boston and not somewhere perhaps more exciting, but with no grandparents to spell me.
In the last few weeks, H-Mama and I have begun a new nighttime ritual with the babes. We've had a hijacked evening life since the kids were born, nursing them down, fetching them from their cribs to comfort them whenever they cried, and once they awakened in the night pulling them into the family bed for the remainder of the night. This system fit our desire to attachment parent, our belief that easy = best, and our complete confoundment at how to crib/sleep train two babies by two lactating women. (Usually the father or non-lactating mom goes in to comfort a kid in the night.) Firstly, we never told them that daylight savings happened; we kept their old 8pm bedtime, but it is now 7pm. They don't know the difference, and we get more evening time. We now go into the nursery and the kids pick out two books each, then we brush their teeth and pile onto our big queen bed. We turn out all the lights, turn on the white noise machine (which admittedly is mostly for me, except that it does muffle noises for the kids, too) and read our books by flashlight. We then sing about 4 songs while we nurse the kids, then we put them into their respective cribs which flank our bed. For the first few days they cried with the horror of the whole situation. We let them go for about 10 minutes, then went up and let them nurse and they crashed within 90 seconds. We then stretched out the time we made them wait for us to go up - at one point they were crying for 30 minutes or so before we'd go up. Then, kind of suddenly, they seemed to get it. They fussed, they might cry for a few minutes, but they settled down fairly quickly. Pequita has a flashlight and a few books, and she reads and sings herself to sleep some nights. Monito usually fusses a bit and then quiets down. This is a huge success! We still go up to nurse them if they wake up in the hours before we go to bed, but they are both cutting molars and are sick, so we'll stop that once their mouths settle down.
We made this shift for us, but it works well for me travelling alone with them. Tubby, books with grandma and then songs with grandpa, who has a beautiful voice and makes even a song about bloodshed and murder sound peaceful and lovely. He sang it to us when we were kids, and I have a soft spot in my heart for it. When we were just little kids, my sister and I would ride our bikes around the neighborhood bellowing lyrics like:
"As Abdul's long knife was extracting the life —
in fact he was shouting "Huzzah!"
He felt himself struck by that wily Kalmyk,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar."
So H-Mama is home, admittedly lonely, but getting some things done that we haven't had time to do and really wanted to. I am having a super time here - Mom had purchased a massage for me, and the nice gay masseuse showed up with his table and heated shearling pad at 9 am this morning. Mom and Dad tended the kids while I had 17 months of co-sleeping and side-lie nursing rubbed out of my shoulders. The kids definitely miss their Mama, but it isn't as overwhelming as I had feared. Pequita has a hard time at bedtime, when she usually got her most concentrated time with Mama.
I feel quite guilty about leaving H-Mama behind. She has to pump a few times a day to keep her meager milk supply from drying up. I had forgotten this fact entirely, total humdar moment. And she is lonely. I would be too, but I think I would enjoy the time to myself a lot. H-Mama has a lot of stress on her, working full time in a job that completely overstimulates and strains her nerves, then coming home to kids who overstimulate her and strain her nerves. She maintains a higher level of frustration with the kids than I do; she prefers older kids, while I really like the baby & toddler times. I thought that the time alone in the house would help her appreciate the clutter, mayhem and cacophony a bit. It might, but for now she is rattling around in a medium-sized homestead by herself without me to entertain her, and without the babies she loves so dearly. I definitely have the better deal, I think. She'll drive out on Tues night and stay with us through Sunday after Thanksgiving, then we'll all return together. It will be amazing to be reunited. It is also a really good thing to miss the people you love. Distance certainly helps me value what I take for granted.