December 30, 2014

Five Months!

It is absolutely amazing to me what a difference one month can make in the life of a baby. A month ago my girls were wobbly and squishy, mostly mute and stone-faced and very much still like their newborn selves. Now we have genuine infants on our hands.

They are holding up their heads completely, pushing up and almost over when on their bellies, babbling, smiling and laughing constantly. They're curious and investigating everything. They recognize not only our voices but our faces and look for us when in a room of other people. They're sturdy and able to be carried on a hip without feeling like they're going to fly out of your arms. They have reversed their positions on sleep - now Jules fights it and Viv just passes out when less than a month ago they were opposite.

They're getting closer and closer to rolling over, twisting and turning but not quite there yet without some help. Viv is quieter but trying to sit up every time we sit her down and loves to push up with her feet on any surface. Jules is our talker, constantly babbling and exploring octaves with her voice. She's a little less active, preferring to play with her hands and feet rather than the toys around her. They really enjoy listening to music and Viv can often be caught bopping her head from side to side while Jules will fall asleep to anything we play. Regrettably they already love watching TV (especially football games!) so we're trying to limit that already.

They are chewing on EVERYTHING. Toys, hands, feet, clothes, me and dad and each other. They have noticed each other a few times but never at the same time so we're still waiting for that realization of that's not my reflection that's my sister! They hold hands all the time, especially while nursing or sleeping together.

They are over 12 lbs. and over 24 inches. We have almost completely transitioned out of 0-3 month clothes (major sad face) and are finally out of preemie socks.

Month five was filled with lots of firsts including their first Christmas and lots of family gatherings at Aunt Kate's, Great Nana's, Nova's and Papa-T's plus one here at home with Dad's family. The girls met Santa and had their pictures taken and then did some Christmas shopping and wrapping presents. CJ and I had our first night out so they enjoyed their first time being babysat at night by their wonderful Nova. We hit our first sleep regression last week after almost two months of sleeping through the night. We spent a week at Mom's old job at the daycare and had so much fun making new friends. We baked our first cake for Daddy's birthday and had our first birthday celebration as a family.  We also had our very first real colds a few weeks ago with runny noses, slightly elevated temps and all around cranky babies. On a sad note we received confirmation that our Juliette will in fact have surgery on her stubborn right kidney next month so month six will have one very unique first that we're not really looking forward to. In two weeks we have our appointment with the Developmental Pediatrician and we're excited to hear what they have to say as I'm pretty sure they're right on track for their adjusted age of 17 weeks tomorrow.

As we end the most exciting and life-changing year of our lives I am reflecting on how much has changed and how happy we truly are. I had no idea anything was even missing from my life until these beauties graced us with their presence. A year ago I didn't even know there were two of them. I am so incredibly excited for the next year, to be able to observe and celebrate all of their big firsts with them and to hold their hands as they grow. Happy New Year everyone.


December 28, 2014

So You're Having Twins - Here's (Some of) What You Need To Know

In case you got excited, I will not be thrilling you with my knowledge of successfully raising twins today (please, if you do know how to do this, get in touch with me.) Instead I want to talk about types of twin pregnancies. 

My twins are Monochorionic Diamniotic aka Identical. It is generally considered to be of medium risk. As grateful as I was to not be considered "high" risk, I quickly became aware of the potential problems and protocol for a pregnancy of my kind. I hated it at first and to this day wonder what would have happened if I had only... (read more on that here)  but I do know that I was lucky to have been in the care of people who knew what was best for this type of pregnancy, as I myself certainly did not. And I'm glad I live in a place where people advocated for the safety of my babies rather than providing me with a false sense of security via uneducated guesses as so often happens with twins.

When we came home after finding out about the twins the only thing I (thought) I knew about twins in general was that there were two types: Identical and Fraternal. One type was in the same sac (identical) and the other were in separate sacs. Our original ultrasound tech said there were two sacs but didn't elaborate much more. I was ecstatic that there could possibly be a boy and a girl. Upon leaving Dr. Margono's that day I was shocked to learn that it wasn't as simple as that.

There are a few things to consider when figuring out what type of multiple pregnancy you have.

Zygosity refers to how many eggs were fertilized and implanted prior to any splitting that might occur.

Chorionicity refers to the number of placentas that attach - either one or two (or more). Amniocity refers to how many amniotic sacs there are.

The combination of these things determines your type of pregnancy although they may not all be evident at any given time. Placentas can fuse, dividing membranes between amniotic sacs can appear invisible and eggs can split before implantation. Our bodies are weird, why would multiple pregnancy be any different?

Here's a Breakdown of the Basic Types of Twin Pregnancy:

Dichorionic-Diamniotic Fraternal Twins (DiDi or DCDA)

The most common type of twins, they are no more related than ordinary siblings. They are created when the mother hyperovulates, or drops two eggs that are each fertilized by their own separate sperm. This is a trait carried and passed on only by the mother's father, so even if twins run in your husbands side that has no bearing on whether or not you will have twins, but your daughter might be predisposed to hyperovulation. 

They always have separate placentas (the chorionic sac) and always have separate sacs (the amnion). In rare cases the placentas may fuse shortly after implantation giving the appearance of one but an ultrasound can determine true chorionicity based on the size of the dividing membrane (thick and very clearly there) or it can be determined at birth.

Usually the Dr. can tell by the membrane thickness if it the babies share a chorionic sac or not. If it is not obvious with an ultrasound it should be upon delivery (there is an obvious "horn" or seam where the placentas fused) or you may have a DNA test performed. These twins can be conceived not only on different days but can even have different fathers or be different races entirely. It all depends on when the woman ovulates and the eggs are fertilized.

DiDi Fraternal twins are the ONLY twins that can be a healthy boy and girl (although frat girl/girl are 2nd most common followed by frat boy/boy) and they are never identical.

Dichorionic-Diamniotic Identical Twins

So there's this widely accepted misconception that di-di = fraternal. It does not. In fact, 30% of Di-Di pregnancies are actually identical twins. I know, I just blew your mind!  Turns out, if the eggs splits super duper early (during days 1-3 after fertilization) then you end up with DiDi Indenticals.

Since they will be the same sex usually a blood or DNA test is required to know for sure whether they are identical or fraternal. The children are identical twins although the pregnancy will likely not be cared for in the way that most identicals are as it is not as high risk since each baby has its own placenta. 

So many people have DiDi Identicals and don't even know it. I have my own speculation that this is the real case of the so-called fraternal twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Monochorionic Diamniotic (MonoDi/MoDi or MCDA)

MoDi twins occur when the fertilized egg splits early, about 4-6 days after fertilization into two separate embryos that then implant on the uterus with a shared placenta.  They will have the same basic DNA and look very much alike although they rarely are "identical". 

Identical does NOT mean carbon copy. Your babies may look very different depending on weight discordance, placental sharing and positioning in the womb. The most common difference I have found is that one has a rounder, larger head and one has a more oblong, thinner head. I think this has something to do with the fact that Baby B is often stuck up under the ribs!

MoDi twins share a placenta (chorionic sac) but they are each in their own inner amniotic sac divided by a thin membrane. This is one of the most confusing type of twins to explain to others as most people only ever hear of sharing an amniotic sac. People think that determines whether the babies are identical or not when it really comes down to the chorionicity.  The doctor will look for the membrane separating the babies as well as the "horn" found when a placenta fuses to determine if they might be fraternal or identical.

MoDi pregnancies are usually treated as moderate risk as they may suffer from Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), Twin Anemia Polycythemia Sequence (TAPS), Selective Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction (SIUGR) and preterm placental degradation among other things. They should be monitored at least bi-weekly until week 30 and then weekly and should not be allowed to progress past 36 weeks (+/- 6 days) without daily monitoring due to the risks. Things can go very wrong very quickly and not only lead to a traumatic birthing experience but fetal demise as well.

As far as science knows identical twins DO NOT run in families - so it doesn't matter how many twins you or your husband have in your family. It is completely up to chance whether your egg will split.Although many modi dads will joke that their super sperm did it. Who knows? Thanks to this, identical twins are often called, affectionately of course, freaks of nature.

Monochorionic Monoamniotic (MonoMono/MoMo or MCMA)

MoMo twins occur when the egg splits later, usually 6-8 days after fertilization. These twins are separate but share everything and are always identical (again, mostly in DNA not just looks). They occur in less than 5% of twins pregnancies and are very high risk. Often Mom is on bedrest from as early as 20 weeks and usually will deliver by 34 weeks at the latest. This is because of the risk of the babies being able to touch each other, as well as proximity to each others' umbilical cord. This pregnancy is heavily monitored and may be induced around the 32nd week. Although it is very risky and requires special care that famous image of the twins born holding hands shows the beauty of a MoMo pregnancy.

Boy-Girl Identical Twins

This is a phenomenon that I simply have to address due to the fact that there is SO much confusion out there. There cannot, EVER, be a pair of HEALTHY boy girl identical twins (unless of course one of the pair has undergone gender reassignment surgery). 

There can be twins with a chromosomal abnormality in which one of the boy twins from a split egg develops as a girl when the body drops a chromosome. This phenomenon known as Turner's Syndrome is EXTREMELY rare, although plenty of twin parents will make sure you know it can occur.

It gets even more complicated when you throw in semi-identical, mirror, conjoined twins, there might even be a few that I don't know about, but then it's likely you won't either!

So, do twins really run in your family? What common misconceptions have you heard about twins?


December 21, 2014

FIAO 5.6 - Feeding The Twins - Breastfeeding; with a twist!

I haven't done much research on it yet but I'm beginning to wonder how many women's journeys with feeding their children are as unique as mine. As I've said before I am very indecisive and tend to see both sides of something relatively easily. Just like everything else in my life this has become more apparent in my choices of nourishing the girls. Ten years ago I was anti-breastfeeding. A year ago I was absolutely sure I would do it. Finding out we were having twins originally strengthened my desire to nurse but as their arrival date drew closer I started to freak out. The idea of being a human milk machine terrified me. I pictured days spent glued the couch nursing on and off, bloody and bruised nipples and very little sleep for the first few months.

Ultimately I made up my mind to try exclusively breastfeeding but if it didn't work I would exclusively pump or formula feed if absolutely necessary. I fully support formula feeding but I wanted my girls to have breast milk either way. I was (mistakenly) under the impression that EPing would be easier, less stressful and less time consuming - because who has any extra time with newborn twins at home?  Unfortunately for us I didn't really get to actually make a choice in the beginning. My girls were formula fed in the NICU, with what little colostrum I was able to get to them, from day one. Because of their prematurity they had to learn the suck-swallow-breath reflex and the NICU wanted their feed amount to be documented, especially if we wanted them off the feeding tubes. So I pumped. Then, due to wanting to wean, I supplemented with formula (about 8 oz/day mixed with bm) for about a month total. And then, like magic, at around 3 months my baby girls decided to latch. So now, I breastfeed. Exclusively.

I have literally done it all with the exception of using donor milk or a wet nurse. I am not going to debate the benefits or downfalls of breastmilk or formula (not today at least although that would make a fascinating Great Debate post later on). Instead I want people to understand and learn from my experience.

Exclusively Pumping (for twins!)

For three and a half months, every three hours, around the clock, I hooked my heavy boobies up to a machine and expressed milk because I wanted my babies to have breastmilk. I don't even know why really. Yes, I know people think it's "better" but again I fully support formula feeding and only believe it is "better" for your wallet and because it is natural, as in not made in a factory. Really I figured if I was making it anyway then I wanted my girls to have it. So I pumped. Starting 6 hours after my c-section I was a mad woman about it. I pumped for 30-40 minutes, despite being told never to exceed 20 by numerous nurses and lactation consultants. I figured "oversupply" would not be a concern for me - I had two babies to feed and needed to build a stash!

I pumped while I visited them and all night long as if they were home. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, coming home that night after leaving them in the hospital and having to pump for them. It was also the night my milk came in so I had over 12 oz. to give them the next day which was the first time I really felt like a mom. I bought all sorts of pumping accessories (see links below!) and created the perfect pumping spot to streamline the process. Once the girls were home I fed them and pumped at the same time. It was perfect. They were eating on a schedule of every 2.5-3 hours (although I would have fed on demand they just carried this on the from the NICU themselves) and I wasn't a human milk cow with babies attached to me for days on end. It was the best of both worlds and it worked for us.

After three months, I was over it. I almost quit at 6 weeks, then managed to force myself to make it to 12 weeks when I promptly dropped from 8 to 5 pumps per day, effectively eliminating my middle of the night pumps and stretching my daytime pumps to every four or five hours. I lost about 10 oz. in the process but I was making 70 oz. per day at that point and they were only eating 50 max so it was fine. At 14 weeks I was absolutely ready to start weaning. We supplemented with formula on and off from the beginning, usually depending on my supply, which varied. I wanted to take in kids soon and definitely could not pump then so we started upping the amount of formula they got, which allowed me to bank a ton of breast milk while slowly lowering my supply to avoid mastitis. Then, at 15.5 weeks Juliette latched for the first time and my journey with exclusively pumping abruptly came to an end.

Pumping and Nursing

I continued to pump for about a week but would try to nurse every chance I could. I learned what positions worked best and got myself comfortable with tandem nursing. CJ was a little worried about missing out on his "bonding" time during the evening feeding, which he often did on his own while I pumped and had some me time. However, something unexpected was happening: the more I nursed, the more I wanted to nurse. Then we started to notice something strange about the girls' behavior after nursing vs. after a bottle. They never seemed full or satisfied after their bottle - even when we upped their oz. to 5 or 6 in one feeding. We knew they weren't still hungry but still they would cry or suck aggressively on their pacifiers. They do not do this after nursing. They decide when they're done but at 4.5 months never nurse for more than 25 minutes and they are always content after - either sleeping or playing. So we decided to drop bottles altogether. I now pump only if someone else is with them and they've had a bottle recently. Sometimes I will pump if I am engorged before bed for comfort but I can now go 9 hours overnight and wake up pain free or nurse at 3am if necessary. I pumped tonight for the first time in 10 days as we were out to dinner (first night out as a couple since they came home!) and they were asleep for the night when we got home.

Exclusviely Breastfeeding

My experience with nursing is far from typical so I won't even attempt to give advice on how nurse a newborn. It took three months for either of my twins to latch, despite many futile attempts in the beginning. I admit I wasn't pushing it after a few weeks, just trying it when I thought of it. But the closer I got to ending my pumping journey the more I wanted to experience it - even just once. And at 13 weeks, Vivienne latched first followed by Juliette at 15 weeks. I was shocked. Not only was it easy but it felt so much more natural and comfortable than the machine that had been tugging at me for so long. I didn't feel that "bond" instantly although I have a new appreciation for the closeness it creates between mom and baby.

The major plus for me does not apply for moms who start out nursing twins - time! My girls were already sleeping for 6-8 hours at night and were eating on a 3.5 hour schedule by the time we started so I only nursed 6-7x/day. Some of my other twin mom friends nursed upwards of 15/day in the beginning - per baby! The girls were already 10 lbs. so learning how to tandem feed was much easier than weeks ago when I was trying to position two five pound china dolls on the My Breast Friend pillow in the NICU.  Their suck was strong due to months of practice and they already knew what to do and how to do it - things they originally had to learn thanks to initially eating formula with a tube and then a bottle. Feedings were peaceful and quick - 20 minutes max compared to 45 with a bottle due to needing to burp more and holding upright after finishing.

And then of course the amount of time I saved making, warming and cleaning bottles. It was so much easier to just pull down my shirt and feed my kids than to do all that. Again, I know our transition to exclusive breasfeeding was unique in that it was easy and for that we are so grateful. I also know for a fact that it was only so because I stuck it out from day one and did the dirty work keeping my supply up - and then we got lucky with two little late latchers. Now we have really found what works for us. For now.

Not all babies will latch. Not all mamas will produce enough (or any, in some cases). Not everyone is comfortable with it and, simply put, not everyone wants to do it. But if you can and want to do it then breastfeeding (with breast or a bottle) is so worth it. I know when it comes down to it feeding twins is hard, no matter how you do it, but having done it all I have learned some things worth sharing.

If you want/need to Exclusively Pump:

If you can't nurse for whatever reason but want your children to have breast milk, are worried about affording formula or want to be able to nurse in the future then get educated and start pumping! Here's some tips to get you started:
  • Invest in Pumpin' Pals and a hands-free bra or necklace, like the Simplicity from  LactaMed. Or make your own by cutting holes in a sports bra.
  • Get your hands on a hospital grade pump to build your supply. Call your insurance company ASAP and find out what they provide.
  • Learn about massage and compression - it makes a huge difference. 
  • If your baby is in the NICU look at a picture of him or her while pumping at home.
  • Commit to 7-9 pumps per day around the clock for at least 20 minutes for the first 12 weeks. This will establish your supply and then you can drop pumps as desired until you start to see supply drop. 
  • Research galactagogues and try them until something works if you need a supply boost - I had great success with Bob's Red Mill Five Grain Cereal as well as drinking a dark beer just before or while pumping.  
  • Pick a few shows to watch on Netflix during MOTN (middle of the night) pumps. 
  • Rub excess milk into nipples after pumping - it is great for soothing sore nipples and healing any other skin issues.
  • Drink a TON of water, eat a TON of food (do NOT worry about reaching your pre pregnancy weight but focus on fattening up that bundle of joy!)
  • Continue to try to latch your baby - you never know when they will get the hang of it, but also it is a great stimulant for your nipples and will help you produce more. 
  • Join the facebook group Exclusively Pumping Group and the Babycenter board The Exclusive Pumpers. The support is vital to making it through this journey.
  • Learn the signs of and how to handle clogged ducts, mastitis, thrush and nipple blebs (those are super fun. not.)
  • Do not ever feel bad if you have to supplement with formula or donor milk.
  • Most importantly: do not let yourself believe for one minute that you are giving your baby less than a nursing mother does. You ARE breast feeding and if anything your journey will be bumpier and more exhausting than nursing but it is so worth it if it's what you want.

If you want to nurse:

Again, my experience is unique as I did not nurse my newborns but I have learned a few things:
  • RELAX. Baby feels your stress and gets stressed and will not latch or stay latched if they are anxious. Remind yourself that even you cannot force your baby to latch. Also, once a baby has latched you cannot force them to stay and drink. You can only provide a calm, safe place for baby to eat. They will decide when and if they will do so.
  • Try out every possible nursing position in every place to find the ones that work best for you. I prefer tandem nursing on the couch and side-lying nursing in bed because I can rest too. Neither of which I was comfortable doing without practice and patience.
  • Invest in coconut oil for sore nipples (this actually applies to both pumping and nursing).
  • It's worth repeating: Drink a TON of water, eat a TON of food (do NOT worry about reaching your pre pregnancy weight but focus on fattening up that bundle of joy!) 
  • Ask for help at the first sign of difficulty. Often women have no idea why it's not working and feel so defeated that they give up and regret it later. Whether it's a poor latch due to a tongue tie, low supply or fast letdown there are things you can do to help. Talk to an IBCLC or contact your local La Leche League. WIC also has lactation consultants on hand. The support is out there, you just have to look for it.
  • If your baby has been exposed to a bottle first invest in a nipple shield. They can help ease baby into nursing without too much of a battle at the breast.
  • Again, do not feel guilty if you have to supplement or switch completely to formula. 

If you want/need to formula feed: 

I've only done it for a little bit so far you but if you do need to supplement or choose to formula feed here's my advice:

  • If you're supplementing figure out which way of giving it works best, whether you have one bottle a day or mix it through out the day with bm. No baby eats the same way as others.
  • Don't just assume any brand will be fine, even those with similar make-up. Cheap isn't always good. Neither is expensive.
  • Do your research on formulas and find what works best for baby and your budget. 
  • Ask your doctor for samples. More often then not they are more than happy to give them to you.
  • Email and write to baby companies letting them know of your arrival for samples and coupons.
  • Do not buy all of one bottle until you know for sure your baby will drink from it and you won't lose your mind cleaning them.
  • Learn the signs of reflux and allergies as many babies can have difficulty keeping a bottle down for a number of reasons leading to miserable nights and more than a few ruined clothes.
  • Do not ever let anyone make you feel guilty for feeding your baby formula and do not feel the need to justify yourself to anyone. If they judge you they are the ones with the problem, not you. Be educated and confident in your decision. Own it.
The most important thing I have learned in all of this? Do not judge a parent for how they feed their child. Just because you see a baby with a bottle does not mean they aren't breastfed. Just because a baby is formula fed does not mean Mom didn't want to breastfeed or is lazy or doesn't love her baby as much. Nursing is amazing. Pumping is incredible. Formula feeding is awesome. Because at the end of the day as long as you are feeding your baby, you're doing the best thing for your baby.

How did you feed your baby(ies)?


December 5, 2014

FIAO 4.5 - Healthy Twins, Happy Family - Four Month Check-up

We had our four month check up and immunizations today. Juliette is 11 lbs. 10 oz, 24 in. long and Vivienne is 11 lbs. 8 oz., 24.25 in long. They have almost tripled their birth weights and are developing beautifully. Our PA, Joanne, is thrilled with their size and strength. She was so happy that I am now able to breastfeed and so proud that I kept with the pumping until it worked for us.

The girls were angels for Joanne like always and everyone in the office is starting to recognize us. We find out later in the month about Juliette's kidney so we talked a bit about that and then they had their immunizations. We are so lucky their reactions have been mild. They are always sleepy but no fevers yet or any tears from the pain. I even did a little Christmas shopping tonight and C stayed home with them. We are having Christmas with his family on Sunday so I picked up all their gifts, just photos of the girls with them from the blessing. We're not doing anything too big this year as funds are tight.

We cleared out the dining room almost completely so after the get together I'm going to start setting up my "lil' daycare", as we're calling it. If nothing else it will be the girls' playroom as they're quickly outgrowing our tiny living room!

I can't believe the next time we go back for a check-up they will be six months old!

It's been amazing so far!


November 30, 2014

Four Months!

Every month with these girls just gets better and better than the last. They are smiling all the time, especially when they wake up or when Daddy gets home from work. We are sleeping mostly through the night, sometimes 8 hours straight, although that has changed since we hit the biggest milestone yet for both the girls and mom - we started nursing full time! Just after turning 3 months Juliette decided that maybe Viv was on to something and her milk might just be better fresh from the source and she now latches and feeds like a pro.  We are able to tandem feed with the My Breast Friend Twin nursing pillow that I scored at a second hand sale for just $20. Feedings go so fast now, with much less spit up and almost no screaming fits that happened after they sucked down a bottle too fast to feel full immediately. They take their time and decide when they're full and still feedings rarely take longer than 20 minutes. And I cannot say enough how nice it is to not have to pump all day (or wash bottles and pump parts all night)! We can officially "dreamfeed" which means everyone is sleeping more. I am so happy to have this accomplishment under our belts!

Our fourth month was also full of lots of other new experiences. The girls had their first Halloween and got to go trick or treating with cousin Jillian. They went to their first birthday party as Jillian turned 3 on November 10th. We had some shopping trips with Aunt Kate and Nova and our first solo outings to Target and Wal-Mart with Mom. Then we had our first Thanksgiving at Uncle Kevin's house and got to spend time with the whole family and meet tons of Papa T's extended family at their very first family reunion. It was a super busy and fun filled month and we can't wait to see what the next will bring!


November 20, 2014

FIAO 5.5 - Feeding The Twins - And We Have Latched!

It took 3 and 4 months but I have officially breastfed my babies. Vivienne decided randomly one night about a month ago to actually latch when I tried. It was incredible and terrifying all at the same time. I couldn't believe it when, instead of turning away and screaming, she opened her mouth and started suckling. After 2 months of trying I pretty much gave up. I just happened to catch her one night when she wasn't starving but just starting to get hungry. Juliette was not interested at all that night although I tried. Then yesterday afternoon she woke up about half an hour before it was time to eat so I decided to try. Lo and behold she latched like she'd been doing it all along. I couldn't believe it. Same thing this morning when she woke up. I just picked her up and she latched right on. It's truly an incredible feeling to feed my babies from my breast rather than a bottle for the first time at 4 months old.

So, with my newfound confidence in my nursing skills I decided this afternoon that instead of making bottles we were going to try to tandem feed. Viv woke up first and nursed for a minute before Jules woke up. I thought for sure Jules was going to fight it as she usually wakes up starving but nope she got right on. Then I spent nearly 10 minutes trying to get Viv back on. I was just about to give up and make her a bottle when all of a sudden I must have gotten her in just the right position because she settled down and started to eat. It was insane. Jules finished a few minutes later so we only tandem fed for a few minutes but what a moment it was. I can't believe we did it - while I was all by myself too!

I'm trying to figure out where to go from here. The downside is that I was in the process of slowly weaning and transitioning to formula full time. My supply is literally half of what it was just 3 weeks ago (really, why couldn't they have latched THEN?) Like I said before, I didn't want to be pumping with other children here when I decide to babysit. But nursing? I can do that and watch a couple other kids. Especially considering it takes significantly less time, I am not restricted to one spot for an hour and with a cover very little is exposed. CJ isn't sure how he feels about me changing up the game plan but he's so happy that we finally were able to do it. I think a little part of him is worried he will miss out on his bonding time with them if we stop using bottles. He gets home late and most nights it's one more bottle then bedtime and he only has Sundays with them. I told him not to worry, we can figure out a way to do both.

I am also reflecting on my journey from hating even the idea of breastfeeding 10 years ago to being over the moon that I fed my twins today. Such a special day for me, one that 4 months ago I was pretty sure would never happen. I will never forget that feeling I had when they were a week old and I was able to attempt nursing in the NICU. They screamed and scratched at me like I was trying to hurt them. The lactation consultant just kept shoving their heads into me (which I know works sometimes) and it was breaking my heart. They were half naked as we were doing skin to skin and I could feel them getting cold so I was worried about their temps dropping and they just could not get their mouths on. I think now that they were just not ready yet. And when I tried here at home I would often wait until they were really hungry - big mistake.  Once they get past a certain point they want instant gratification and trying to figure out a new nipple plus having to work harder for the milk was not going to cut it for them. Or maybe they just weren't ready until today. The bottom line is we did it.

It's funny that this article about EPing came out this past week. It had me all sorts of irate the other night. Gotta love these little tidbits: 

"There’s an assumption that bottle-feeding breast milk to a child is equivalent to breastfeeding, but that may not be the case."
What the actual F? So I've been doing all this hard work for four months thinking I'm giving my babies the best and you're STILL trying to tell me it's not good enough?! Awesome, 'cuz I didn't feel enough guilt when my eleventy billion attempts to nurse failed until today.

"Breastfeeding is about more than the milk. Babies don’t just breastfeed for nutrition; they nurse for comfort, closeness, soothing, and security."

Do you want to do it or do you want me to? I mean someone has to be the one to break the news to all the Dads, grandparents and caregivers (not to mention formula feeding moms) out there that while I'm sure they meant well they weren't actually soothing or comforting their little bundle of joy - not unless Mom was attached as well that is. What the hell? My girls are perfectly soothed with a snuggle and you bet your ass they feel close and secure to me, as well as my husband and family who haven't been able to breastfeed them either.

“The new challenge is to use language accurately, and tell mothers the truth that feeding their milk to their babies by bottle is less than equivalent to breastfeeding.”

Because that's what we want to hear.  Not only do you suck because you can't nurse your babies but you are practically poisoning them despite feeding them the EXACT SAME THING.

Despite my outrage something started to creep into my cold, confused, EPing brain.  Although I know I am doing the best for my babies, it is such a friggin' pain in the butt. And it's getting harder as they get older. But I want them to have my milk. So I will just keep trying, to the extent that my sanity can allow. What if one day they did latch and instead of getting up and making bottles at 5am I could just roll over and feed them? Because despite EPing being incredibly convenient and super easy (not!), I hear nursing is a little less time consuming. Plus, what if it really isn't as good and all of this is for nothing? (Just kidding, I know that's a crock of shit.) So, thanks to this lovely article, I decided to keep trying. And it worked. This time. Am I fully converted? No. Do I think it will be this easy forever? Nope. Am I glad to be able to say I've tandem nursed my twins? Of course. But it does not change the fact that no matter how my babies ate for the last four months it was ALWAYS the best thing FOR THEM because I WASN'T STARVING THEM.

Seriously people. It really is that simple. At the end of the day it doesn't matter how it gets done as long as you feed your babies you're doing just fine.

Thoughts? I'd love to share a pic but I'm still a little shy on these here interwebs so maybe next time. 'Til then, just remember: always feed your baby. No matter how you may have to do it! :-P


November 12, 2014

15 Weeks old and getting so big!

The girls are 15 weeks old/10 weeks adjusted today! It's been a big couple of weeks here. We survived our 2nd "leap" and are hitting milestones! I can't get over how fast it's going.

Tonight we had our first official sounds from both of them! It seems late for me but they haven't really tried to use their voices yet other than gurgles, grunts and more definite whimpers.  I present to you our first words: ah and uh. Clear as day, not a sigh, Viv said "AH!" I almost cried. Jules followed up later with beautiful "UH!" and it went on from there. What an amazing night! Just one of many memorable moments from the past few weeks.

In the past week or so they have been sleeping 6-10 hours a night, and last night they slept for almost 12. I don't want them going 13 hours without eating though (and me over 8 hours without pumping is no good) so they won't be doing that again. They woke up at 5 and we brought them to our room and just put their pacifiers in assuming they would wake up in an hour or so. They didn't start to stir again until almost 9! I was totally freaked out but they woke up hungry, ate well and napped well all day so I think they're fine but we will see if this becomes a pattern. I am betting on them hitting the four month sleep regression with a vengeance so we're working hard on our version of sleep coaching by having plenty of active time during the day playing, helping them learn to self soothe, putting them down drowsy but awake and setting clear routines. We don't have an established "bedtime" yet because I still follow their lead on when they want to eat. If they're hungry after "bedtime" we feed them no matter when it is.

3 Days Old - First time together!

They're eating 25 oz. a day, a mix of 1/2 bm and 1/2 Nutramigen, 5 oz. every 3 hours from about 9am to 9pm. I can't believe they are on their NICU schedule still The big difference is they're much more active in between bottles finally! However there's a drawback to this. I am still EPing but I'm starting to wean so that I can spend more time playing with them. I'm tired of having to pump while they're sleeping as I can't get anything else done but they're too alert and active during and after bottles that it's getting too hard to do both. I also don't want to be pumping at all with other people's kids here so I hope to be weaned by the end of December. By then I will have enough frozen to get us through the winter with them receiving 5-10 oz. each of BM.

15 weeks old -  Just waking up for the day!

It's a funny thing. I know in my mind to trust my babies and myself and I believe I would know if something were ever wrong. But I still second guess everything. I double check everything. I go over my baby connect app a hundred times a day making sure they're doing things "right." And every time I have to stop and remind myself that we're fine. They're growing. They're happy. They're fantastic. And we're doing just fine too.

We don't go back to the Dr until December so I have to figure out a way to get them weighed. I know they're growing as we're almost out of their first prefold cloth diapers and their clothes are getting tight. We looked at pictures from 15 weeks ago and cannot believe how much they've changed!

Viv is a little freaked out.
Jules is perplexed

We also had our first selfies this week! I can't believe I never thought to turn the camera on them before Not too surprising since I am not at all a selfie taker. I have lazy eye issues. They made the funniest faces looking at themselves although we still haven't mastered smiling at the camera yet!

We had our first dinner at the table with Mom and Dad although of course they just observed. We love having them out there while we cook and they seem to really enjoy it!

 I will leave you with this gem from Sunday when we celebrated cousin Jillian's 3rd birthday. They did great and it was a great time, as Vivienne is clearly showing us with her look!

Four months here we come!


November 8, 2014

FIAO 9.4 - The Great Debate - Crib Bumpers!

We are stuck. We officially have moving babies and are now wrestling with the idea of crib bumpers. I swore them off years ago during a child care course when they talked about the dangers of suffocation caused by baby getting stuck next to the bumper. I didn't even consider using them for our girls at all until a few weeks ago. Then, our perfect little still babies started moving around in their sleep. I will never forget that first night when I woke up to a pained scream coming from the monitor. I rushed in to find Jules with her head butted up against the crib slats, neck twisted at an awkward angle and tears running down her cheeks. She was clearly in pain and it broke my heart. Viv started doing it a few days alter. We have tried positioning them in all different ways, wrapping their blanket higher and lower, using bumpers inside the blanket, etc. but nothing works. Now we're afraid to even use a blanket even though it's always "swaddled" around their waist. I've read about babies breaking their arms or legs after they get stuck in the slats and now my fear has doubled. I would love to keep them bumpered in but even with blankets under the sheet they just roll over them now. And so we are at a loss. Do we risk suffocation for sleep? Both ours and theirs?

The Mommy wars battle lines are heavily drawn on this topic, almost as much as car seat safety or breastfeeding. Some people think you're insane if you use them, due to the risk of suffocation, no matter what the situation. Other people, like us, understand the need for sleep and the idea that a child who would otherwise be sleeping through the night is being woken up by something that can be avoided is incredibly frustrating. They hate it, we hate it and they are some miserable nights when they're particularly restless and both seem to end up squished against the crib over and over. I know a lot of women would tell us to just get over it, that they will learn how to move themselves away from the crib in time and that it's not worth the risk. Some people would say that the risk of suffocation is less than the risk of a broken arm or leg or that it's the top of their heads getting caught so they wouldn't even suffocate anyways.

We really don't know what to do about this. I've looked into mesh bumpers but they don't really solve our problem, although they're a great choice for babies whose limbs get stuck. I'm going to talk to the pediatrician and some family and see what they think. I feel like if we can get an all around consensus either way we will feel better about it. What's funny is no baby I've ever known has had this head-banging problem. My sister says my niece never did it, my mom says we never did, etc. So now I feel like my kids are just weirdos and I don't know whether buying bumpers will protect them or harm them.


I just have to say.

Who would have ever thought that this would be what goes through my mind on a Saturday night at 11:30?

And with that, I sign off. To go to bed. Ugh. I'm old.


November 1, 2014

First Halloween!

While I was pregnant I spent all sorts of time googling ideas for the girls' first Halloween costumes. There are seriously so many cute twin costumes out there. But then we realized that although they would be 3 months old, we live in upstate NY where it is usually pretty chilly on Halloween. Also, we weren't sure if we would even be doing anything so I didn't think I should waste money on costumes or supplies to make some. Then about a week before Halloween my Dad invited us up to his apartment complex where my niece trick or treats. The office there throws a Halloween get together and the weather wasn't looking too cold. Of course. And now it was too late for me to get anything or make something. Then I remembered my Aunt had bought the girls these adorable duck jackets. I remember thinking they would be great costumes when we got them. I put them in white onesies and their orangey pink leggings and booties added some yellow hats and mittens and voila, instant little ducklings. We headed up to my dad's for pictures and trick or treating with my parents, my sister and her boyfriend and my niece Jillian who was the most adorable Grateful Dead Dancing Bear this year.

The girls did great, letting my parents feed them while I ate dinner and they sat in the stroller all bundled up while we walked and Jillian trick or treated. It was more symbolic than anything obviously but we got some adorable pictures!

Can't wait until next year when our little ones will be able to walk and talk and participate in the fun!

And no, we were not those parents who walk around getting candy for their infants. I eat enough with pumping all day, I don't need all that in my house!

So I hope you enjoy the pics of my girls and that you had a very Happy Halloween!


October 30, 2014

Three Months!

We are three months old today! 

We are celebrating a lot this month with both girls' first smiles, hands finding their way to their mouths, increased lengths of sleep time at night and awake time during the day, their Baby Blessing this past Sunday.  Our hands are opening up and batting at things, our eyes are focusing on things and we are showing frustration when we are bored. We are smiling all the time, wrapping our arms around Mama's neck and rolling from our sides to our backs or bellies.  Although we are only technically (cognitively) 8 weeks old today, we are meeting some milestones right on cue. We are making more sounds, cooing and ahhing. We love to listen to music (especially Mom's favorite: country) and we love walking around looking at things in our house. We finally noticed we are not the only creatures living here as we have discovered our big brother Boots and big sister Willow. We love to watch Willow sprawl out next to our blanket while we play. We keep our pacifiers in our mouths now and are so good at self soothing already! Mom and Dad couldn't be happier.  Mom especially as today she hit her second goal of exclusively pumping for 3 whole months! (I didn't think I would last even 2 weeks in the beginning so I am incredibly thrilled to have made it this far!)

What a big month we've had and it's just getting better every day!


October 29, 2014

FIAO 9.1 - The Great Debate - Co-Sleeping! (aka the first of many things I've said that I am now taking back)

I will admit there were a lot of things that, before becoming a parent, I was "NEVER going to do" once I became one. I didn't judge parents for a lot of things (notice I didn't say I didn't judge for anything) but there were certain things that I just knew I would never do once I had kids.

Or so I thought.

Since my tiny humans are still very small I haven't had experience with a lot of things I said I'd never do. There are a few that I'm sure will come back to bite me in the butt. Like my opinion that you shouldn't let a child eat whatever they want just because they're picky. I still think some people take this to such extremes - like allowing your child to survive on strawberry milk, chicken nuggets and pasta. Come on, how the hell are they even growing on that? But I can already feel that this judgement will come back to haunt me. My girls will probably only eat cereal and cheese and I will be eating my words.

I also never understood co-sleeping. Not only was I against the "family bed" but I thought people who let their kids come in in the middle of the night were asking for trouble as well. I couldn't understand why you would want your kids in your bed. Beds are small enough as it is with two people. Kids are noisy sleepers. They kick and move and disrupt your sleep. Not to mention the fear that something could happen. I know this because the little girl I nannied for used to come in and sleep with me when her mom was out of town. I eventually had to stop her as I was not getting any more sleep after she came in. She was such a deep sleeper I worried I would roll over on to her or not even know she was there and cover her with the covers or something. Plus she rolled a lot and despite her petite size she could definitely make that bed shake!  She slept with her mom when she was home still so she was ok with not coming in to mine (plus as much as I loved them I think it's different when they're not your own kids or relatives).

So having this experience under my belt, as well as my own experience of only being allowed in my parents' bed when I was sick or had a nightmare (and even then only until they put a mattress under their bed that we could pull out and sleep on), I knew I would never co-sleep. I wasn't interested in having my kids in my bed until they're 6 or 7, I like my space, I don't want to worry. Especially when they were babies, how dangerous!

Welllllp. I am eating those words. My babies have been in my bed almost every night since they came home. They don't start out there. They slept next to me in bassinets and rock and plays until 5 weeks, then they moved to their cribs. We still put them down in their cribs around 11 where they stay until about 5 or 6. It started out of sheer desperation for sleep. I would bring them into bed with us if they wake up too early or so unhappy they won't go back down easily in the cribs. I had no idea how amazing it would feel to have them right there, so close to me. I love to snuggle them and just feel that peace without the distractions of the day around us. I love feeling my baby's breath on my face and her fingers wrapped around mine while Dad snuggles the other one.

I still worry about all my concerns about co-sleeping. I worry something terrible will happen so my sleep isn't that great with them there. I worry that they will be crawling into our bed for years. I hate that my family is constantly reminding me of these things and shaming me for my choice. My mom constantly reminds me of a woman she knows who smothered her baby when she rolled over on him in her sleep. I have read the horror stories of blankets being pulled up over baby's head or Dad not realizing baby was there and rolling on her. These fears were one huge reason I vowed I would never do it. But I have to say that I love it and I am confident in our choice. We do it safely, moving our pillows almost completely off the bed and laying on our sides with our arms above their heads so that we can't really roll. The ugly truth is that with twins it is so hard to feel sure that they're both getting enough love and attention. But at least for now, for a couple hours every day, they have our complete undivided attention and snuggles. I truly never thought I would co-sleep but I am so glad we have decided to. And to be honest, my worry about them coming in at all hours of the night for years doesn't really matter anymore either. At least not for now. I will worry about that if it becomes a problem but I don't foresee that happening. For now I'm just enjoying the time with my baby girls who won't be babies for very long.

Do you co-sleep? Why or why not?


October 26, 2014

FIAO 9.0 - The Great Debate

I am a Gemini - in every sense of the word. I know that means nothing to a lot of people, and some will think I'm a little crazy for believing that astrology is a meaningful barometer of personality, but I do. If for no other reason than I am seriously a true Gemini. By the way, again, how crazy is it that I'm a Gemini with twin babies? Anyways, duality is a part my life. I wrestle with decisions to a fault. I change my mind at the drop of a hat. And my mood can perform some incredible tricks as I can go from glowing to scowling over just about anything. Hell, I was the child care provider who would always pass on the babies and now I have two and think babies are awesome! Sometimes. See, I'm always changing my mind. Ever since I heard about horoscopes I became fascinated with being a Gemini and what that means. I have done enough research on other signs to see things in people if I know what to look for.  But for the most part I know about myself. Gemini can also be two-faced, stubborn, anxious, and talkative. But we won't go into that right now. The point is, I have a hard time making decisions and more often than I'd like I like to second guess myself or change my mind entirely. This is making my life as a mom of multiples much more difficult than it has to be. As I've said before: the choices we're making every day (feeding, diapering, play, travel, hygiene, etc.) are such polarizing issues and it can be daunting and exhausting deciding which is best for your family.

The Great Debate will explore the battles of the Mommy Wars from my point of view. The unique aspect of this is that I am fantastic at seeing both sides of most of the battles. I am the classic middle of the road. I am politically "moderate" although I lean left. I love to play devil's advocate. There are few things I choose to argue with any real vehemence. These are mostly human rights and social issues that my peers agree with me on so it's easy to commit. The Mommy Wars are a whole new thing to me, although I have had my share of laughs at them (mostly via STFU Parents or SSW on FB). These arguments are intense and I usually have one thing to say when reading a debate/battle - some of these bitches are mean!

There are women out there who judge others relentlessly. I'm sure you've seen it if you're here. There are some seriously crazy people on the internet. And they are MEAN! I read through the crap because as bad as it can be there is a ton of information to be found as well and there are well-meaning, cool-headed individuals who can offer real world advice and support. As a new mom, that is what I need to be reading. So here's my side of these issues and how these choices have worked out for us. More often than not I might comment the sanctimony. It's really hard not to.

My first topics will involve things we are currently experiencing as I can write a fresh perspective. Right now we're facing choices in terms of breastfeeding and sleeping mostly. I want to address how women treat each other over everything though - from alcohol use to zoo visits (not really, I just needed for that to be from a to z. Unless you were judged for visiting a zoo while pregnant, then let me know and I'll write about it!)

I hope that someday we can learn to settle the debates, accept each other for who we are and the beautiful generation of adults we are raising. Just think, the kids who co-slept will someday play at school or work with the kids who were sleep trained and they won't have a freaking clue. I seriously hope my daughter isn't judged by her first boyfriend over the fact that I exclusively pumped because she didn't latch well. And (here's a big one) if a girl likes your son enough she isn't going to give a damn what his penis looks like! And she sure as shit won't leave him over it because (hopefully) she loves your son enough not to care (if she doesn't, do NOT let your son marry her. She has some growing up to do).  I'm a true believer that unless someone is actually harming their kids everyone needs to just chill the eff out.

Every single day my heart breaks when I read subtle digs and outright insults over the choices moms make. I may not always agree but I will explore both sides. I will admit that sometimes this will be easier said than done. I'm wishy-washy but even I know that it's against the law to have a baby under one forward facing in the car and that you shouldn't leave an infant home alone while you go to the bar. But I am actively trying to skip the judgement and be understanding. And I will never, ever, tell someone, to their face(book) that they should have never had kids/they're not a real mom/they're stupid. You live your life and let me live mine because I bet you any amount of money our kids won't give a damn about most of it when they're our age. 

Think about it.


October 25, 2014

And then they were blessed...

On Sunday October 19th we had the wonderful experience of having our girls blessed by Reverend Sue who married us a year ago. I'm going to say outright that If it had been up to me this would not have happened but it was a special request by the girls' great grandmother and I decided that as long as we could do it on my terms I was happy to have them "blessed". Unlike a lot of people (namely our relatives and friends who practice Catholicism) CJ and I do not subscribe to the belief that unbaptized babies go to purgatory. In fact we don't really have any religious beliefs at all, having both been raised Catholic and choosing in our adult lives to not only stop going to church but to avoid organized religion as a whole.

Our families know this but his grandmother damn near cried when I told her I was not planning on having the girls baptized. I know it's a personal choice and it should belong to the parents alone but when it came down to it I decided that if there was a way we could do it without them becoming communicants of the church, then so be it. I turned to google, of course and found the perfect option. A secular baby blessing with hints of God. We started to plan and realized that it was also a great excuse for a party and would allow all of our extended families to meet or see the girls without too much disruption on our end.

I contacted the amazing Reverend Sue who performed our non-religious wedding ceremony last June. She is an incredible interfaith minister who brought my dreams to fruition when I was trying to avoid a wedding ceremony that was more about God than us. It's not that we don't believe in God (at least not for me) but we just don't agree with a lot of what the church stands for and would rather have had our marriage start with a focus on our love rather than on God and the church. I explained to Reverend Sue that it had been requested we have the girls "baptized" but, like our wedding, we did not want to go the traditional church route. I explained we had decided to have a baby blessing/welcome to the world/meet the family party. I told her there should be references to God to satisfy our grandmothers' desires to save their souls but I did not want the girls baptized catholic, as much for our personal reasons but also because I can't stand the hypocrites that baptize their child into a parish and then never again attend church, which we would be. I think it's disrespectful to the church and its parishoners. Reverend Sue knew exactly what I was looking for and she created a ceremony that was the perfect mix of celebrating spirituality, love and family

It was a beautiful, inspirational and thoughtful ceremony. Our grandmothers fears were calmed and yet we appreciated that the focus was on love and family rather than God. Reverend Sue is incredibly spiritual, beautiful and intuitive. She focused on the idea that God is love. Family and friends were able to share their wishes for the girls and our family.

The girls wore beautiful dresses that CJ's grandmother bought for them. Our own godmothers (because of course we were both baptized Catholic) presented the girls with B and C letter blocks in honor of our family names. Their big cousin Jillian presented them each with a flower. Instead of traditional godparents (who are supposed to help you become a good catholic) we chose "spiritual guardians" (vs. legal guardians) to help the girls with any thing they need in life. Our friends, Elizabeth and Sam were sworn in as Vivienne's and my sister Katelyn and Justin became Juliette's:

"Will you accept a life-long interest in Juliette and Vivienne's well-being and growth, providing strength and support, especially at those turning points in life? Will you strive to be wise guides and offer your best as a guardian?"

I know our grandmothers were very happy with the ceremony and we really felt like it was perfect. The first draft of the actual blessing had a little too much god in it for me, especially the words for the anointing ceremony. I had looked in to alternate anointment ideas but decided that the water was the best way to make sure everyone understood what it was. Reverend Sue heard my desire to focus on love and her second draft of the anointment ceremony was perfect:

"Juliette and Vivienne, may you be blessed with True Sight – may you see yourself and others with eyes of Love.   
May you be blessed with Wisdom - speaking words with kindness and care,
being a source of inspiration for others.
May you be blessed with the gift of Love – receiving and giving love freely, joyously, and completely.
May you be blessed to offer Sacred Service –finding purpose and meaning by reaching out to those in need.
May you be blessed with the gift of Peace – walking in the ways of confidence, contentment, purpose, and grace.

Vivienne and Juliette, know that your Spirit is strong and that you have everything you need to live a blessed life. Know that you have family and friends here and beyond to watch over you and that you are never alone. Know that you are deeply loved and that your being in the world is a source of joy for us. We trust that your lives will be a radiant expression of all of the love we feel for you and of all the eternal love that is even greater than we can conceive that forever surrounds you, guides you, protects and lives within you. Amen."

The girls were absolute angels the entire time. Viv started to fuss toward the end of the ceremony and CJ got to show off his kick-ass Dad skills by offering a single shhhh that put her right back out. They were passed around the group and happily offered smiles and coos bringing shear joy to everyone. My mom worked so hard to make it perfect, from the centerpieces (pumpkins and leaves) to the food (catered) and cake. We ate and talked and everyone got their fill of our baby girls while Dad and I got a much needed break from holding and feeding! Reverend Sue is starting a new chapter in her life and moving to Rockport, MA next month so we were so glad we were able to have her, bum knee and all. We are already planning a trip for possibly next summer to visit them with the girls.

How did you have your babies blessed/welcomed/introduced to the world and their friends and family?


October 23, 2014


The first three months of a baby's life are full of wonderment and joy for all parents. Newborns are so incredibly cute, one could spend hours just gazing at their dreamy faces, listening to their coos and murmurs. It's truly blissful. Not so much at 2, 3, 4 and 5 am though. As cute as they are there is no denying that in the middle of the night every single parent feels that pang of anger while pleading - please, please, please just go the fuck to sleep. Oh sure, you'll have those sanctimommies who damn us, who say these days are precious and few and to relish the special joys of middle of the night feedings. Eff that. We are not, as a species, meant to survive on broken segments of sleep. Even the most devoted and attentive moms have to admit that after a few weeks the lack of sleep grates on your nerves and can drive you a bit insane.

That said, I have been incredibly lucky to have not just one but two babies that sleep pretty darn well. We've had only two "sleepless" nights, despite being warned by everyone that we would not sleep for months. For the most part they have slept for 2-3 hours in between feedings since day one. Because I'm pumping and go for at least 45 minutes with that this means there are many nights where I've gotten 1.5-2 hours of sleep in between feedings. Add it all up and I've gotten 5-6 hours every night since they came home. But, let me tell you, as someone who has suffered from sleep issues my entire life, there is a huge difference between 3 sets of 2 hours of sleep and six consecutive hours. Huuuuge difference. A year ago I would have happily taken six hours and had a fantastic day. It was not uncommon for me to run on 5-6 hours (sometimes less) a night for weeks at a time.  The key was that the hours of sleep was mostly all in a row and therefore I was completing sleep cycles. Since the twins came home I've been fighting some serious zombie mode. That's what happens when you're ripped from just starting deep sleep mode by a screaming baby. Or two. This was our new life and we have accepted it. That is until today.

BOTH my girls slept from 12am to 7am last night.

That is seven hours people. SEVEN! They've been working their way up, having recently started going for 4-5 hour stretches. But for the first glorious time, I awoke at 6 am not to babies crying but fear in my heart when I realized it had been SIX HOURS since I'd last heard a peep. I nearly killed myself rushing to CJ's side of the bed to make sure the monitor was still on. And it was. I held my breath and ran to their room like a bat out of hell. I placed my hands on their chests, fearing the worst. Sure enough they were breathing. Just sleeping. Simply sleeping through the night for the first time ever.

Thank you, little ladies. You must have known that Mama was nearing the edge of her sanity. 

Granted, I only got about six hours myself as I was up until 12:30 pumping and had to start pumping when I woke up at 6 (holy painful boobs, batman). But seriously, I feel like a whole new woman. Ready to take on the world, or at least for now the dishes in the sink.

I know not to count all my eggs before they hatch. This could be a fluke. In fact I am going to say it was a fluke and prevent jinxing myself. Tonight they will regress. In fact, tonight they won't sleep at all, I bet. 'Cuz that's life with twin infants. But I will forever cherish the fact that we have got one official sleep-through-the-night under our belts. Good job, girls, you've earned a gold star for today.

When did your babies first sleep through the night? Did you wake up in panic mode like me?


October 11, 2014

FIAO 4.4 - Healthy Twins, Happy Family - Shots! But not the fun kind...

As far as I understand, having not experienced it myself, aside from those first days in the hospital, once your babies are born you don't usually deal with much medical intervention until said babies start their shots. Baby arrives, whichever way you have decided, and barring any health issues can be handed right to you and from then on if anyone wants to do anything to it they must get through Mama first. This was really not the case for us, I have to say, since we had a two week NICU stay and I didn't even hold my girls until they were 8 and 27 hours old. For me, it was an experience of letting go just as I was supposed to be holding on. That was actually the reason I got to see Viv at 4pm that day, instead of the next morning like a lot of C-Section or NICU moms. I cried AND CRIED and told the nurse that my body was screaming at me to GO. HOLD. MY. CHILDREN.

That wonderful nurse said she would call the NICU and let me know. A few minutes later I had a wheelchair and my own tech to hold my bag and monitor and escort us down there. My babies had already been held, tubed up, wrapped up and, hopefully, loved on a little bit by the good nurses that were there that day. It killed me then but as the days go by I am making peace with it and have even fully accepted that it was absolutely the best thing, for them and in some ways for us.

One surprising side effect of our experience has been that I don't think I fully possess that defensive mama bear attitude that you see so often. I don't feel that sense of worry when someone else holds my babies. I don't think twice when a doctor or nurse gives me a recommendation because for my entire pregnancy and the first two weeks of their lives I had no choice but to trust that they knew better than I did. I have to say this goes against my beliefs in some ways, as I am one who tends to question the motives of the American medical industry what with big pharma and the like. I had done a ton of research on natural childbirth, home birth, labor interventions and non or delayed vax. In the end I ended up having the exact opposite experience from what I had originally planned. Thankfully we had a wonderful experience starting with all 18 ultrasounds (way more than I wanted to expose them to) and ending with our non-dramatic NICU stay. This has given me a new found trust in the physicians that come in contact with my girls. So when the time came for their first vaccinations I reviewed my research but ultimately decided to just trust my pediatrician and her insistence that they were absolutely necessary, especially for my preemies.

When it came time for the actual shots I recalled all the stories from my daycare moms of how hard it was on mom herself and how miserable their babies were after. I steeled myself for a tough day before the appointment and prepared to cry with my babies. But then something funny happened. My mom was there and she told me not to look, as it would kill me, but I looked and instead of feeling sad I felt confident and proud as my girls were being protected and in the capable hands of my favorite nurse. I didn't cry, I cheered them on and said over and over that it was ok, and that it wouldn't hurt for long. For Jules I reminded her that this was nothing compared to what she'd already been through (see my post on her Hydronephrosis). And then something even more miraculous happened. I braced myself for the teary afternoon, the pained screaming and possible bad reactions. But instead I ended up with just two very sleepy babes. They fell asleep right after the shots, took a short bottle when we got home and then slept for hours. It really was the opposite of the experience I expected. I know I am one of the lucky ones and I am very thankful for that. Once again, I wrestled with my choice but in the end it wound up being the best thing for all of us and I have no regrets. We will continue to vaccinate on schedule and hopefully all will continue to go as smoothly.

I know the anti-vax movement is sparking heaps of debate these days but I am confident in our decision and truly believe we made the right choice. I don't subscribe to the belief that vaccines cause autism, although I can't deny there are children who are harmed by them (otherwise they wouldn't give you information on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation fund. I just believe that those are risks you must be willing to take, much like having 18 ultrasounds and selective C-Section at 35 weeks to prevent issues that might arise due to sharing of the placenta.  I still believe that we should question medical authorities to an extent but the most important thing is to find a physician that you are comfortable with and who leaves you feeling informed and confident in your decisions. At the end of the day it's up to you but I know now that it's ok to trust them and that most of the time they really do know best.

How was your vaccination experience?


October 7, 2014

FIAO 4.3 - Healthy Twins, Happy Family - Hydro-what? Plus, My Baby Was Radioactive!

So as if having an identical twin pregnancy, gestational diabetes, a c-section at 35 weeks and a 2 week NICU stay wasn't all harrowing enough, we are also now dealing with Juliette's enlarged kidney. In fact, today we had the lovely experience of a test during which my 2 month old became radioactive. It's only slightly terrifying when someone tells you to keep your twins at least three feet apart for 12-24 hours so as to limit the other one's exposure to potentially harmful radiation. All I could think was, "That sucks, but what about the one you just injected with that there radiaton?"

It all started when I was about 25 weeks. Dr M made a remark about Baby A's enlarged kidney. He seemed surprised about it and didn't offer up too much information, other than that I was not to worry, it was most likely nothing. He chased me down before I left to let me know he had noticed it as early as Week 18 and that he was monitoring it closely but it should fix itself before she was born. I didn't worry, hardly gave it a second thought, although we always asked about it at our appointments. No one mentioned it in the OR or when we got to the NICU the afternoon they were born so we just assumed it really had fixed itself.

Two days later one of the Neonatologists was in the room waiting for me when I got there after breakfast. He explained that Dr. M's office had called and that Jules was scheduled for an ultrasound of her kidney. They didn't suspect too much of a problem since she wasn't showing any signs of issues outside of typical NICU stuff but they wanted to see what had happened to it. I missed the ultrasound while I was getting lunch (I still think it's a bogus rule that a breastfeeding mom can't eat in the NICU, I'd have gladly eaten in a closet outside my girls' room to avoid going away whenever I was hungry which, if you didn't know, is insanely often while you're nursing). Anyway, the next morning Dr. Pratt was back with the results and they weren't great. He showed us her right kidney and it looked like a big, bumpy, lack mass. I didn't know what a kidney should look like but this didn't look like it to me. I was right. He said she was experiencing Hydronephrosis and that usually it disappears before birth or shortly after. We were given information for a follow-up consult with a urologist and a VCUG test. I didn't let myself even think about this until they were home for a week. I didn't want my preemie anywhere near the hospital that would do the testing and from what I'd learned it was relatively harmless.

The first test was a little tough as she was still so small and she basically peed the entire time right up until when they needed her to actually pee. I felt terrible that she was screaming the whole time, but mostly because since she was only 5 weeks old I really didn't even know how to comfort her yet so she just kept on with it!  They weighed her legs down with sandbags, catheterized her and then X-Rayed her belly. I got to see the dye fill up her bladder and learned that she was not having signs of reflux, so her urine was likely not backing up into her kidney. She then had an ultrasound a few hours later that showed exactly the problem. We got to clearly see the difference between right and left and it was astonishing. Right was huge, lumpy and dark with patches of light. Left was kidney shaped and much lighter. Dr. Kogan, the pediatric urologist, explained that the ureter that connects her kidney to her bladder is kinky and does not allow her kidney to drain properly. No reflux means that it's not effecting her but they made us go for another test, this time specifically to test the kidney's function.

This test was harder than the first in only one way - she had to get an IV. It would have killed me if she hadn't had one in the NICU and I knew she could take it, but damn have her lungs matured in just a few weeks! Poor Dad said he heard her all the way down the hall and his heart broke. After that she pretty much passed out, even mostly sleeping through the catheterization and the tech strapping, then wrapping and then taping her down.  Then it was an hour and a half of waiting. Halfway through they added a radioactive isotope to her IV and told us to keep her away from Viv.

She woke up, we went home and hoped and prayed for the best.

We found out today that if her kidney had performed .4% worse we would be scheduling surgery for asap. Her lovely right kidney is functioning at 40.4% and Dr Kogan's cut off for surgery is 40. So we have to go for yet another scan, this time just an ultrasound, in December and if this one is the slightest bit worse he wants to go in and fix it. We got the usual spiel, "it's an easy fix but all surgeries have risks" and decided, once again, not to worry about it. If there's a problem she should spike a fever and we will handle it.  I'm pretty confident in our doctor and I really believe she will be fine no matter what we have to do.

The hardest part for me is thinking of all her body has gone through in such a short time! I hope she doesn't need anything more after this for a long, long time!

We will update with more information after December!

Was your baby born with any health problems or did they need any crazy medical procedures?


September 30, 2014

Two Months Old!

My beautiful babies are two months old today! What a wild two months it has been. I am just now discovering the fault of their early arrival - dealing with adjusted age. Part of me hates it. I hate that only one of them has just smiled for the first time tonight. I hate that they're still very much like newborns, from their sleep and eating habits to their floppiness. You see, even though they are technically nine weeks old tomorrow, they are still only four weeks old physically and cognitively. Typically around six weeks babies are offering parents a social smile, sleeping for longer periods and becoming more alert and aware. Around two months they may start to roll or reach for things, which mine have zero interest in. They still have jerky, disorganized movements and they're not really making sounds other than crying and grunting. Like I said, part of me hates this. The other part though is relishing the fact that my babies are staying little for a bit longer. I missed out on two weeks of that newborn time at home so I feel like we're a bit lucky that we get them in this phase longer than we would have had they been born full-term. Once again these beauties have taught me to appreciate the blessings in disguise.

We did get a smile out of Miss Jules tonight, her little gift to her Nova who came to visit and then for her dad after a satisfying bottle of milk. I haven't caught it yet but I don't mind, I know it will come when she's ready. That's the thing with this adjusted age stuff. Technically we shouldn't be seeing smiles for another two weeks, so it's going to be an interesting ride following their milestones which could occur at any time. The time frame is just different for them. They could be "ahead", "delayed" or spot on. We just have to let them dictate their own time frames.  And I will keep holding out for that gorgeous smile to happen for mama.

I have to say, CJ hates these pictures. He thinks the girls look like chubby monsters. I see the beautiful fattening effects of mama's milk that I am working exceptionally hard for to make sure they have the best as often as we can!

Happy 2 months baby girls!