Friday, November 27, 2015

Limping Through Month Three

Three months exactly in this photo

There appears to be a wave frequency to this twin thing. One month good, one month not so good. Month three was the month of every 1-2 hour feedings all night. Tired days and tired nights. Wondering when they would go back to the 3-6 hour sleep stretches. Which finally returned about one week ago. Then we all got sick this week.

Breastfeeding marches on, with my persistence leading the way. I can't say this has been easy either, other than I have excellent supply and babies have been good nursers. I experienced the plugged milk duct last month (severely painful, so that you're crying when breastfeeding), and have had sore nipples and a fissure on my left side, which I'm still working to heal. It's been about two months of problems with the left side. I'm ready to be done with the problems. But I'm not hopeful that it's going to be easy. I've been working with the lactation consultants and trying everything to get the fissure healed, but so far no luck.

What twins do to your body: they split your abdominal muscles (called diastasis). I thought maybe I'd gotten away without diastasis. But I went in for a check last week and have a three and a half finger separation between the sides of my ab muscles. Which means I have to be very careful not to worsen it, and I need to do exercises to encourage them to return to their previous position. Otherwise your stomach pooches out by the end of the day, hence the "are you expecting?" questions. I have a 40 minute DVD routine to do but it's almost impossible to find time to do it. So I'm seeing a PT for some exercises next month, hopefully that I can slip in here and there.

The babies. They are pretty darn good. The mild evening fussiness like most infants. Still pretty easy to soothe. Some quite desperate reliance on walks most afternoons- although the last week at least 2/4 of us have been sick at any given time, so we have been practicing naps at home, and they are going pretty good. I can get a lot more done at home than on a walk.

These two are overall good little buggers. They're smiling and really into the world around them. They love being talked to and carried around. We can make funny faces at them and they're amused. We're all still learning how to be with each other. They've started enjoying the swing. They can grab and bat at things with their hands. Keith laughs a lot.

We're in the process of hiring a nanny as well, and that's a big job- trying to decide who to entrust with your children's care. I'd thought about doing a daycare but it seems like it would be so much work to get them ready to go every day that I'm going to work (we were going to put them by my work so I could nurse at lunch.) They might end up in daycare after a while but hopefully we can keep them out of it for the first year.

Oh, and this week Keith has started rejecting the bottle. I am hoping that we can get this turned around, as the timing is rather inopportune with me headed back to work in a month.

Twins. Twins. Twins. I think that everyone experiences what I'm experiencing but I think it's on a larger scale with two infants. Somedays I think I cannot make it through. And then it will get better and I'll think, "I'm getting the hang of it." I guess that's how it goes. One foot in front of the other.

The thing is that all of this is worth it. What I love best about having my kids is how my focus is redirected from me and my world, to them and their world. My whole purpose for living is different now. The small thing of getting up in the morning and the two of them smiling in unison on the bed while I talk to them and laughing while I make funny faces. When they fall asleep after breastfeeding. Figuring out what was making them cry and seeing their relief when it's fixed. Playing on the changing table. The simple things that make up life with infants.

The happiest discovery is that I run a bath and take one kid in at a time. Keith loves to "swim" in the water, kicking with a determined look on his face, smiling and laughing. Lauren lounges on my tummy, feet and hands dangling. The first time we did this, she kept turning her head sideways, trying to drink the water, with her eyes open as she did this (didn't seem to care that her open eye was in the water). They both love to stare up at the shower head and the black and white walls of the tub. I'd guess the bathtub is like the womb for them, and they seem to love it now. I cherish that time with them. It's so sweet. And will be gone before I know it, like so many things that have already passed.

Naps at home.

Watching mommy make the bed!I put her on a pillow and she liked it!

Sweet Keith loves to cuddle mommy.

Miss Lauren has incredible attention powers, and was looking at this lamb for about 30 minutes.

He has little kid hands! Since birth. Big hands and feet!

Thanksgiving day frost

I had to walk outside to see if it was frost or snow.

Zonked out today! :) 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Two Months with Twins- It's Much Better Than I Expected

2 mos check up & shots 10/21/15:

weight: 11 lbs. 7 oz. 29th percentile
height: 24" 90th percentile
head circum.: 15.25" 36th percentile.

weight: 8 lbs. 15 oz. 4th percentile
height: 22.25" 40th percentile
head circum.: 14.5" 12th percentile.

It's been two months since we welcomed these little people into our world. It feels like forever ago and yesterday. Today I looked back at photos taken while I was still pregnant and then when we first met Mister Keith and Miss Lauren. They were so puffy at birth it was hard to tell them apart. It's hard to believe that since they look so different.

People ask how it is having twins.

I think it's a lot easier than I thought it would be. Having read too many books on twins, my expectations were pretty horribly low for the first year. They made it sound like I'd be getting 1-2 hours of sleep a night, have difficulty with breastfeeding and supply, and that I'd need to enlist family or hired help for 3-6 months. There was also a lot of advice about putting your kids on the same schedule, starting at birth and doing everything simultaneously. They advised to wake the second twin every time you fed to keep them on the same schedule and tandem feed.

All of that may have been true and useful for other moms, but all it did was serve to scare the crap out of me about having two infants. The books made me feel like I needed to line up family help to make it through each day, and even then it would surely be a hell that I'd have to wade through in order to get to the other side. Maybe when they were one or two or three it would get better.

The first two weeks with them were pretty easy. Our biggest concern was if we should wake them from their naps or not and when. Week three hit and it was what the twins books said it would be. It went terrible. I was up all night several times. Days were challenging. I couldn't get any sleep. I panicked and desperately posted on multiple forums, looking for help and advice. One twin mom sent me a PDF of her book on twins and it had some good advice. It said, "Don't wake the sleeping twin when the other one wakes to feed, otherwise you're just training them to sleep the shortest time." And to stop changing diapers every time they feed. I did that, and we moved the babies into our room and into separate Rock N Plays. When they'd wake up we'd rock them a little to get them back to sleep if we could so they wouldn't be up all night trying to eat. This taught them to sleep longer. I stopped turning on any light and only nursed by phone light to get them attached. I'd burp them sitting up on my leg mostly just rubbing their back instead of slapping it. And then plop them back into their Rock N Plays. Life improved dramatically.

It's been five weeks since then, and not one of the weeks was worse than any other. There's been nights where one only woke up once or not at all, and nights where they were getting up every 1-2 hours. But overall, I'd say they're getting up about three times/night. I go to bed about 9:30 and get up about 7:30AM. I'd guess I'm getting about 7-8 hours of sleep per night. I also don't keep track of how many hours I slept anymore either. That just feeds the fury of sleep deprivation on a bad night. It's better to just move on and assume the next night won't be as bad because it almost never is.

A typical day we wake up at about 7:30 and get new diapers and clothes. The three of us move to the living room for playtime and tummy time for about two hours. Daddy wakes up and comes out to play (he stays up later and does the last diaper change and puts them in a swaddle before I feed them whenever they last wake up at night between 12-2.) We all listen to some music, make coffee and have some breakfast. Then the little guys often fall asleep on us. Sometimes we put them in their beds. Sometimes not.

Later between 11-1, we'll pile the little guys into the BOB stroller and I'll stroll them around town for a couple hours. It's a good way to get out of the house and have fresh air. And good for me to get little errands done. This week we walked to the bakery for bread and met friends, walked to the Albina library to drop off books, and walked up and down Alberta doing other errands. Every day i have a little something to do and we just set off on foot to do it. Much better than being in the car, and we have several months to go before they can try out the bike trailer.

Evenings are more challenging, and we definitely need two people to take care of them. There's more fussing especially Lauren and some crazy body movements and noises especially Keith. We have to do a lot of cuddling at night to keep the house quiet. But, so far we've been fortunate that both babes are not too hard to soothe. If things go south we always could pull out the midnight family car ride but that's only happened once so far.

So twins are hard work, and there's a lot of multitasking, breastfeeding in public and showing people your nipples inadvertently or not. It requires a lot of patience to have two infants, and I'm constantly are giving part of myself. But it's really not that bad at all. In fact, I'm really enjoying it.

this song always reminds me of my dad.

Keith makes so many funny faces. We could never capture them all.

Whoops we lightly rubbed Lauren's cradle cap and made some scabs on her face. :( They're almost cleared up now though. It won't be the first parenting mistake we make.

Keith falls asleep during tummy time most days. He looks so sweet curled up.

After their shots, we snuggled them all night. Here they were sleeping on mommy.

Lauren nursing- she's so funny with her hands.

Snuggling with daddy after shots

Friday, October 2, 2015

Motherhood: 6 Weeks

"A mother's body against a child's body makes a place. It says you are here. Without this body against your body there is no place. I envy people who miss their mother. Or miss a place or know something called home."  - Eve Ensler, In the Body of the World.

Silent but for the birds squawking outside and a hush of a breath from sweet Lauren cozied up in my lap, sleepy after her morning breakfast. Keith is back in the bedroom, secure in his rock and play bassinet that we keep next to our bed. He was the early riser today and snuggled into my arms while I ate two bowls of peanut butter cereal for breakfast. We looked out the window at the park. I'm an expert at making an Americano with a baby in my arms. (And picking up and holding two babies in any order, in any location, for any reason.)

Both of you are becoming more alert. You self-entertain so well, laying on the floor for an hour or two each day together or alone, depending on your moods. Mostly steering your eyes around the room, looking in wonder (I think) at the standard objects that populate our tiny house. Often it's the fan on the ceiling (yes it needs cleaning, little ones!) or the pictures on the way (that is your crazy grandma Kathy standing with the bearded men in the tutus).

Occasionally a smile escapes your little mouths that appears to be reactionary, but as of yet, I don't think you really know how to control it. Laughter and smiles punctuate the breathing noises of a good nap. I wonder if you are dreaming of milk or mommy or daddy or what. If only I could know what you think. I can't help but wonder what the future brings when we can share words.

We're fortunate for now-you're both pretty easy to soothe and sweet little babies. When things seem most out of control, I'll wrap you both in a little fleece blanket and pile you into my arms together. The three of us as one again, and you both quiet right down. Mommy's getting very strong arms these days.

Mornings are my favorite. After a night of sleep (no matter how little), the delusions of exhaustion depart from my system, and I'm able to start anew a day of drifting around with my little ones. It's a full time job, fulfilling for at least 95% of the time, only in the evening when I'm tired and patience is waning that I wish for some reprieve.

Often I think, "I can't believe I have two infants." But then I can't imagine not having one of you. All those years where I proclaimed I didn't want children, and now here I am with you two little sweet peas. I never knew what I thought I didn't want would be so good.

So six weeks down, and twelve weeks to go on my maternity leave. I'm thankful we're only at the one-third mark and not the halfway mark into the leave. I don't want to think about going back to work and leaving you at home with someone else. But for two or three days a week, I can do it. It might even make me a better mama.

"Super mama," people call me when I'm out and about with the two of you alone. Almost every day we go for a one to two hour stroller ride, to the grocery store or Extracto coffee. Sometimes it's in the car to the doctor or Target. I don't feel super or better or anything. I'm just doing what I have to do, and what I love to do. Which is to take care of and love you as much as I can. We are having a great time together, the three of us. Those mamas who have more kids than me or twins and other kids, they seem like the ones who need a reward. But I appreciate the kudos- it lifts me up.

So six weeks you've been here with us. What a delight it's been (except for week three which was pretty tough!) I'm so happy you were freed from my tummy so we could meet and grow together.

The little Charlies are breaking free

Grandma Kathy's sleepsacks make them insta sleepy

 Dressed like twins for once
 Waiting for a feeding, little sweetie fell asleep

 Snuggling Keith (his favorite position)

Tummy time

 This is what it's like to shop at Target without the double stroller. Not bad.
 Funny babies!
Snuggling Lauren (her favorite position)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Birth Story of Keith & Lauren

August 21st, 2015 - the day you entered this world.

Before you came! 
What an amazing new adventure to welcome you guys into the world!

Several weeks before delivery, we discovered I'd developed cholestasis (bile spilling into the bloodstream), which meant we had to have an earlier delivery than initially planned. At the 36 week appointment, Dr. Brass told me that I should schedule a c-section and to pick a date. Keith was breech and had been the whole pregnancy except the month of March. I never wanted to have a planned c-section. I wanted a natural vaginal birth. But it wasn't meant to be. I didn't want to fight the universe and force something to happen.

Not that I didn't try to get you to flip. I did all sorts of things. Inversions. Chiropractor. Acupuncture. Yoga poses. Headstands in the swimming pool. Nothing worked, but the best thing to come of that was that I made a reconnection with the swimming pool, and I can't wait to take you guys there when you're big enough.
We thought about dates and asked for the 18th or 20th (mommy likes even numbers). Both were full. They booked us for the 21st. I decided it was better that way. I didn't choose the date. Someone else did, and I never wanted to pick my baby's birthday anyway. After I thought about it, it seemed like the 21st was the right day. It was 4 months from Grandma Kathy's Birthday (on April 21) and went with mine and daddy's well. We are born on the 7th, the 14th and now you on the 21st. Definitely the right day. And, no one in either of our families shares your birthday. There's a ton of relatives with special days in August, so it was pretty neat you guys got your own day.

They scheduled the c-section and told us to arrive at 8:30AM for prep and likely surgery would be about 10-10:30AM so that was when you'd arrive! I was so excited to meet you guys. But I was also really nervous that we might be taking you too soon. I didn't want anything to happen to you. I also didn't want to wait too long to take you out for the same reason. It was hard for me not to worry too much about you guys. I felt like I wanted to go in every day and make sure you were okay. I was so full up with you guys that I couldn't really sit or breathe or eat or anything. I just had to lay down. It was really hard at the end.

The morning of the big day, I was up early toodling around the house, cleaning up stuff and getting ready. I couldn't eat after midnight, so there was no yummy breakfast to start the day. Just me walking around in expectation. And a little writing in my journal.

At 7:30AM, I called the hospital to check if I was supposed to come in as scheduled. The nurse said there was a delay and she'd call me back at about 9:30-10:00AM after the morning huddle. So many people have babies in August, that it was really busy a lot of times at the hospital. At first I was a little disappointed that we were delayed, but then decided I'd finish a load of laundry, unload the dishwasher and other little things. We called auntie Carrie and grandma Kathy and told them we were on standby. They waited at Carrie's house.

At 10AM, the nurse called and said they were ready for us. I said we would be there in twenty minutes. It was time!

We hopped in the car, and left the carseats at home, thinking daddy would make it back to pick them up while we were in the hospital. Just around the corner, we pulled up at Carrie's house. We hopped out of the car, and decided we should take a few last pictures before the big belly went away. In front of Carrie's house under her big tree.

We arrived at the hospital at 10:45AM and checked in. Our nurse, a nice blonde lady,Tina, from labor and delivery showed up right away to get us down the hall to our room.

It was sunny and pretty outside that day. I didn't know what to feel about having a c-section or meeting you guys. It didn't really seem like it was really happening.

We got to the room and took some more photos. I was told to get into my hospital gown- a green and tan contraption that would've fit three of me. Tina came back and started getting some things ready and asking questions. I asked about delayed cord clamping and if my sister could come in too. (They said yes.) We also did microbiome transfer. The baby nurse said she would do it for me when you were born.

Our RN, Tina, told us Dr. Gutovitz would be doing the surgery. Originally we'd been scheduled with Dr. West. No one had ever heard of Dr. West so I was a little apprehensive about her. It seemed like a good thing that we'd been changed. Everyone said Dr. Gutovitz was awesome.

The anesthesiologist JD came in and went over everything with me. We were doing a spinal. He'd also inject morphine. He had kind eyes and seemed to really care. He went over everything carefully and made me feel taken care of. (Later, a day or so after you were born, he would stop into my room to see how you were doing. A kind man.)

Our doctor, Dr. Gutovitz, came in and met us. She was about my age (later in the OR she would tell us that her birthday was June 18th and one year off from mine.) She said she'd be happy to do delayed cord clamping and skip the erythromycin ointment.

By noon we were ready to go. It seemed like it was so fast. We were about to head to the OR.

Then our nurse Tina looked on the screen and said, "Looks like you might be waiting after all. There's a baby in distress." Another baby's heartbeat had gone from 150 to 40.

The excitement dissipated. We were in a waiting zone.

The four of us tried to console ourselves. I was starving, having fasted for about 14 hours at that point. The clock seemed to be at a standstill. How many more minutes before we could go back? I felt like going home and coming back another day. Dizzy from fasting, I laid in bed while everyone else was eating snacks and drinking. I drifted off for a nap.

The nurse came back and we asked to have my blood sugar checked. It was 65. They started me on a drip with sugar in it. I drifted back to sleep again after she left.

Finally about 1:45, she came back and said, "We're on! Do you want to walk to the OR or take a wheelchair?"

I walked with Carrie and Justin in tow in their scrubs and red hats.

It's hard to say what you feel when you're going for surgery. And you're going to meet your babies.

I just hoped you guys would be okay and we weren't bringing you into the world too early. Part of me wanted it over and part of me didn't want it to begin.

I hopped up on the OR table. A flurry of activity surrounded us. Nurses and doctors and assistants. Calling out orders and verifying that we were the right people and ready to welcome you to the world.

The anesthesiologist came in with his kind eyes and told me to sit up on the table. He felt my back to figure out where to insert the needle. Fear shot through me but I stared straight down. Not looking at anyone. Holding it in. First he numbed the area, then started the spinal. "You're deeper than I expected, being so slender." I was slender? At 37 weeks pregnant?

The spinal was over and not that bad. Tingling entered my legs. The anesthesiologist started checking me for sensation with a little piece of wood. The goal was to be numb to the breast or so. It was working.

They pulled up the blue drape in front of me. "Catheter's inserted." Someone said.

"Really? I didn't feel anything" I replied.

"That's the correct answer." A voice replied.

I laid there on the table. I was crying at that point, scared and wondering how it would go. Looking at Justin, he was crying too. We held hands and held it together. I squeezed him.

The OR staff was talking normally. Like they were having coffee or something. Asking us questions, chattering. It was a mini party.

I was listening carefully, waiting to hear you come into the world.

Then there was a scream. "Your little boy is here." Less than 30 seconds later, "And here's your little girl." The OR was filled with your screams, each of you trying to out do the other. No one could hear anyone else talking the OR. Relief flooded my body. Screaming was good I knew.

They held up Keith first. You were so big and dark hair! I couldn't believe it. You were my baby? The little one who sat so low like a buddha the whole pregnancy? "Seven pounds, twelve ounces!" I couldn't believe it.

Next was Lauren. Blonde hair, and so tiny. "Six pounds, two ounces!" No wonder you could still flip back and forth at the end of the pregnancy! I'd thought you would be six and seven pounds. I was about right on one at least.

Both of you all red. Still screaming and covered in vernix.

"I really made those two? I can't believe they're real." I thought. They had you under the baby warmers checking you out for healthiness. "Both got an APGAR of 9." I knew that was perfect.

A nurse came over and set little Lauren on my chest. You were crying and crying, all red and upset. The second you were on my chest, you were quiet. And then you crawled up my chest and put your little head under my chin. My sweet little Lauren.

Daddy stood next to me with little Keith in a swaddle. Carrie took pictures.

Such a surreal experience having two babies at once.

We sat around and chatted while they stitched me up. Taking pictures and sending out texts to family.

I saw my leg go out to the side. I couldn't feel anything, so I didn't know how it got there.

Finally finished, I was rolled the recovery room, which was much quieter and darker. No people. No chatter. The nurses there blanketed me and took my temp which was about 97. You guys were both low as well. They took Keith first to do some tests while Lauren was still on my chest. You crawled up and latched on for breastfeeding right away. Little tiny Lauren nursed for 35 minutes right after she entered the world. They switched babies, and Keith came over to me, and nursed just as well as his sister for maybe a little longer. Lauren went away and was tested while he was nursing.

For two hours we hung out in the recovery room while they fingerprinted your birth certificates and baby books and we all got ourselves back to normal temperatures. I could start to feel my legs again. What relief.

Then it was time to go to our room. We transferred beds and and both of you were placed with me as we rolled out of the recovery room to head up to the fourth floor.

On the way out we met an Asian family who'd just had twin girls. They were tiny dolls compared to my big babies. I felt proud of you guys. The other family looked bewildered. The mom was in a wheelchair, so she'd had a vaginal birth.

Once in our room, Grandma Kathy arrived, and met the two of you. She brought beautiful roses and a special carrot birthday cake for your big day. She also got me mango juice and lemonade.

We all loved you from the start. Both of you perfect and sweet.

The days that followed were a bit harrowing. The first morning after surgery, two nurses came in and checked my blood pressure while laying, sitting and standing. When I stood it was 65/23. I was blacking out, about to pass out. I could only lay in bed the first two days. By the second evening, I made myself sit up to pump for you guys. I was borderline for needing a blood transfusion and the midwife said it might impact my ability to nurse you guys, so I tried the pumping. To our surprise and delight, my milk had come in the second day, even though I could not stand. My body was on the mend.

The third morning I still could not get out of bed, and had decided I would get the transfusion at noon if I couldn't get up then. I needed to be able to take care of you. Somehow when noon came, I walked to the bathroom, and the nurses cleaned me up and gave me a sponge bath. They were so kind to me.

I'd averted the transfusion. I was able to get up a little bit and do things. I took a shower the next day. It was delightfully freeing.

My c-section was pretty painful at first and I had to keep up on the medications so I could move around. But it got better pretty fast.

During our five day stay in the hospital, we learned how to take care of you guys. We learned breastfeeding, swaddling, comforting. I felt that I was ready to go home when the last day finally arrived.

We packed our bags and loaded everything in the car. Auntie Carrie brought the car seats in and helped Justin pick up my pain meds from the pharmacy. We carried you down with two nurses who took our pictures as we were about to drive away.

We pulled out of the hospital and neither of you made a peep on the way home. I guess you knew you were going to the right place with the right people.

You both are the best thing I've ever done. I'm so happy you chose me to be your mom. I can't wait to  see what wonderful people you develop into.

The morning we headed to the hospital.
 Whose belly is bigger?
 The girls, just missing little Molly Rose.

After the spinal, setting things up to welcome you into the world.
 Getting ready for your birth.

Welcome to the world, Lauren!
Welcome to the world, Keith!
 Snuggling skin to skin with tiny Lauren. You quieted down the instant they put you on me.
 Daddy holding little Keith.
 The pediatrician checking out the babies. Both perfectly healthy!
Keith on the left, Lauren on the right. You guys had quite the lungs!

Feeling pretty elated! 

A day or so after delivery, still recovering. Kaiser's hospital food was amazing.