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?