Tuesday, December 29, 2015

4 Months: The Eve of The End of Maternity Leave

Tonight it's quiet. You both went to sleep in a matter of minutes after I set you down.

I'm getting ready to go back to work. I laid out my outfit yesterday. I made a list of instructions for Justin and Margaret for tomorrow. Thursday you'll try out daycare. I'm excited for adult interaction but I can't help but have some tears slipping out at the thought of leaving you guys.

I love you so much.

I know it will be okay.

I can't believe a year ago, you were just two little starts in my tummy. I didn't even know you were there yet. What magic I had in store. I had no idea and never would've dreamed of you both.

I've treasured this time with you and I'm thankful that Kaiser was so generous to let me take off eighteen weeks instead of just twelve.

Keith, tonight you cried in the crib a while until I finished nursing Lauren. After she was by your side within a few minutes you calmed down and let your eyes finally sink shut. You're a gentle spirit with big hands that you love to intertwine together on your tummy or place over your sister's littler hands. You laugh all the time and every square inch of you is ticklish. Even under your neck. You love being thrown up into the air. You squeal with delight and chatter when you wake up or are laying in the living room in your diapers only. You love laying your head on my left shoulder and walking around with one arm around my arm and one hanging down next to me. You're so happy when you're happy. Your smile lights up the room and your eyes twinkle with mirth. You love our funny faces. You're a big boy and so sweet. You love to sit in my lap when I'm cross-legged on the floor. You are so strong it's crazy - you've been like that since birth.

Lauren, you love to be with and touch your big brother. Your hand is on his shoulder, or his thigh or his head, or arm anytime you're within reach. You smile all the time even when we least expect it. You love looking at people and taking in the world around you. You're such a little observer, we think you understand everything. You've started sucking your thumb and can calm yourself down. You've slept 11 hours straight! This morning you rolled over. Your legs are so strong you can almost stand up. When we make funny faces you think it's hilarious and you laugh when I do patty cake with you. You click your tongue and love it when we make quirky mouth noises. Recently you started talking like a crazy lady. When your brother cries, you often start to coo and turn your head toward him like you're trying to tell him, "It's okay." You love to lay on my chest with your head under my chin. You wrap your little hand around my back when you're nursing and hold on with the other around the front. You are such a little sweetheart.

In the mornings you guys wake up together in the crib, talking and squealing and cooing. I wander in after about fifteen minutes. You smile and smile- so happy to see me. Even if I'm tired, I can push it aside in a second after seeing your faces, so sweet and sunny and happy. It's my favorite time of day.

With sunlight streaming through the windows, we get up and play on the floor and change diapers and then nurse or maybe read a book in the rocking chair. You play for a while and then take a nap in the crib after an hour or two. The nap doesn't always go well, but we're working on it.

These last four months have been an unimaginable journey. The glimpses I've gotten into your twin universe melt my heart and I know I'll never fully understand your special connection. I hope it's something that carries you both along as you make your way through this bumpy path that is life. I know there'll be times when you get mad at each other but I hope your love will connect you always.

You are growing up and I am growing with you.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Limping Through Month Three

Three months exactly in this photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naps at home.

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

Sweet Keith loves to cuddle mommy.

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

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

Thanksgiving day frost

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

Zonked out today! :) 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

People ask how it is having twins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

this song always reminds me of my dad.

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

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

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

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

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

Snuggling with daddy after shots

Friday, October 2, 2015

Motherhood: 6 Weeks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The little Charlies are breaking free

Grandma Kathy's sleepsacks make them insta sleepy

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

 Snuggling Keith (his favorite position)

Tummy time

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