For the third time, I returned to work last week after being on maternity leave.
Of course there was that inevitable sadness that comes with separation from your baby (or babies in this case), but this time, it was MUCH better.
I am so thankful that I work in a place that is very supportive of families and has been very willing to be flexible with my schedule so I could enjoy three months home with my babies (three months, I might add, that were crucial to us being able to establish breastfeeding and allowing me to recover fully from my c-section.. *trying hard not to step on post partum recovery soapbox*).
In the past, when it was time for me to return to work, I took the older girls to a daycare. It was a very good daycare, but it was still a place that wasn’t my home full of people I did not know well. And that absolutely crushed me to have to leave my baby with strangers in a strange place all day long. With Sarah, that sense of “awayness” was the worst. In addition to her being my first child, I had post partum depression and severe separation anxiety from my baby. I would go to work and sob every time I broke out the breast pump as I thought about strangers, albeit very capable and nurturing strangers, taking all my time I should have with her. It was a horrible, dark well of emptiness inside me that made me question if I was doing the right thing constantly. But, eventually, I got to know everyone at the daycare, recovered from PPD and saw how much fun she was having when we took her there and felt better that she was in capable hands and making friends, even though she got sick nonstop for nearly two years while she was there.
With Norah, it was better. When I took her to daycare, I already knew everyone who worked there and, after watching them with Sarah over the years, had no worries about her being in good hands. But it was still hard. Again I felt like I was abandoning my baby to a strange place away from me where she couldn’t nurse and take comfort from her mother. I bounced back more quickly that time though and again got use to it as I watched my baby flourish and interact with her little friends.
This time though, things were different.
Putting four children in full time daycare was financially impossible for us, but so was me quitting my job. So we started on a quest to figure out something that would work. I lost so many nights of sleep and shed many a tear over what I was going to do with my babies when I had to return to work. I prayed over this issue repeatedly, and my prayers were answered. We managed to find someone we know and trust very well to come into our home to keep our children part time, at least until September. Then the youngest three will go to an amazing part-time place where my mom works and their caregiver will be at home with them the other part of the time. All of these puzzle pieces falling into place has been the biggest blessing. Mark and I are still having to juggle our work schedules to accommodate this scenario for now, but it’s working, and for that, I am so thankful.
So when I had to go back to work again this time, I was able to leave my babies at home with someone I trusted, away from the sickness that permeates day cares, and in a place I knew they were comfortable in. I am so especially thankful for this scenario this time with my teeny tiny little Vera and my son who had oxygen problems initially. It’s such a gift to be able to keep them away from other small kiddos for a little while, at least until they chunk up and get a little older, a little bigger and a little healthier.
And now I’m going to confess something else: I LOVE being back at work. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I was back in my office, doing a job that I love. I think my coworkers must worry that I’ve gone off the deep end because I tend to hole up, put my earbuds in and work. True, I have a LOT to catch up on, but I am also blissfully enjoying a little quiet and the time to focus on my work and stretch my creative arms again. It helps that we just won two pretty big awards for our magazine, and it also helps that it is undergoing a major design change and expansion (which thrills me!) Plus I’m getting a new Mac next week at work. Add that all together and I’m practically tap dancing into work every day.
Do I miss my kids during the day? So much! I love those sweet little smiles and hugs and coos and snuggles. But I also love coming home every day and being inundated with hugs and shouts for “Mama!” My patience with everyone is infinitely better, and I think their patience with me is better too. And, when I tell them their nanny is coming in the morning, they cheer her name and shout, “Yay!”
Going back to work this time has been better than I could have ever imagined. I am so thankful for answered prayers, both for my kiddos and for myself.
And now I’m extra grateful for afternoon and night time snuggles.
I’ve tried to write this post a number of times between now and five days ago when the babies actually turned three months old. But things stay crazy around here and this keeps getting delayed. I think that’s a pretty healthy sign of how things are going to be for a long time.
But! We’ve made it to month #3, and what a (mostly) good month it is.
Both babies are smiling now, the big gummy, nose crinkling, dimpled grins that make me turn into a big goofball in order to keep them coming. Luke has even managed a giggle. It’s pretty great!
Sleep still isn’t amazing though. It takes them forever to go down at night and they get up at least once a night, sometimes twice. But we did have a surprise night this past week where both babies slept seven hours straight and it was amazing! Too bad it’s only happened once, but it still gives me hope.
Luke, ever the pace setter, has also rolled from tummy to back. I didn’t see it happen because I was in another room, but when I left, he was on his tummy and when I came back he was on his back, mad as a hornet that he had gotten off his belly.
Vera still HATES tummy time and somehow manages to put all her arms and legs up in the air while she’s on her belly, effectively turning herself into a rocking boat while she screams her head off.
Both babies are nursing champs now, however tandem nursing is becoming a bit of a challenge. I put them in the football hold, latch one, and the other one gets angry and tired of waiting for their turn and kicks off with their feet, effectively shoving the nursing pillow out and dropping their sibling’s head in my lap. I get so frustrated when they play this game in the middle of the night, and I’m not sure what to do once they get too big for the football hold. I guess someone will have to wait their turn.
I had to go back to work last week, and when I did, Luke took the bottle like it was his job. Vera put up a good fight that lasted nearly a week, but finally started to take the bottle as the week drew to a close. All three of my girl babies hated the bottle, but at least V isn’t putting up the year long fiat against it that Sarah did.
Both babies continue to love bath time and calm down instantly when we put them in the tub. They also both love the swing, which almost always magically calms them down, as well as going outside, even if we are having triple digit temps.
Both babies love their sisters, especially since Norah has gotten much less violent with them. Anytime the big girls dance and sing, the babies look on in awe and show off their best grins.
Luke continues to be my happy day time baby, taking naps and sitting contently in his chair, while V is my fussy daytime baby, crying or whining unless she’s being held or entertained. They switch roles at night (of course) and Luke is always the one to wake us all up, where Vera would be just fine if I didn’t wake her up to eat, thankyouverymuch, but I still make her to ensure I get the most sleep possible.
Still things are getting progressively better: there are longer stretches of night time sleep, more efficient nursing sessions, longer stretches between feedings, and, of course, those awesome grins that make it all worth it. We are all adjusting to our larger family and all the work that often means, but we are getting into a routine and schedule and everyone is learning to share time with mom and dad, and we, in turn, are learning how to better share our time with all our kids.
Today is a surreal and sad day. My grandfather, one of the most important and formative people in my life, passed away today. I immediately felt two strong emotions well up inside of me: the sadness, of course. How can I not be sad that my Paw Paw is no longer available for a goofy grin or a silly joke, or to ask me where I’m traveling to next and take pride in my achievements? But another part of me was instantly relieved. He has fought a long and hard battle with Parkinson’s disease that grew especially difficult and frustrating for him over the past two years. I know he was ready to go.
On Monday, fearing the end was near, the six of us loaded up the van and drove over to see him. Having lost control over most of his ability to communicate, I didn’t know what to expect. But I watched amazed as he perked up when I brought the twins to see him, smiled at Mark and me, and even managed a small wave as Norah boisterously shouted “Paw Paw” and wiggled her little hand at him.
That was my Paw Paw, always a man who loved children.
Over the course of today, I’ve been thinking about the huge role he played in my life and the lives of my sisters and cousins.
He led a big life. He was the Louisiana Secretary of Commerce, the grandson of a construction company dynasty, sat on numerous boards, co-founded a school and even climbed to the very top of Amway. But he was also “Paw Paw,” a man who dropped everything to spend time with his grandchildren, who he loved fiercely.
“Paw Paw! Let’s ride the airplane!” we’d cry, and he would load us all up in his Caddy and drive his car through the front yard in circles, narrowly avoiding magnolia and pine trees, bushes and ditches. We would squeal in delight and he would giggle right along with us. He would take us to his office after hours, and let us decorate white boards, dig through office supplies, use the old typewriter and raid the company snacks.
At the infamous family annual Christmas party, Paw Paw would don his well worn Santa suit and load up his sack with presents as we each begged for the chance to be his helper elf (which usually involved putting on a very tight white and green striped onesie with curled green shoes).
Our family has always loved to play games together, and he was always eager to jump in. Party Lines was a favorite and he was great and coming up with lines that got the whole family laughing with tears pouring out of our eyes.
Ever the sports fan, Paw Paw kept diligent notes about sporting stats and encouraged us all to take up a sport. I remember many a summer spent at LA Techsters basketball camp while Paw Paw rubbed elbows with the coach and visited with everyone – after all he knew everyone who lived in Ruston.
One day, my grandfather and I sat talking when I was 16. He asked me if I could travel to anywhere, where would I choose. New York City was at the top of my list. A couple weeks later my parents received a phone call. My grandfather had a business trip that would be taking him to NYC and would I like to go with them? Together we sat down and made a list of all the things and places we wanted to see and go to. When the time arrived, he took that list with us to New York and made sure we did every single item on the list, crossing each off as we accomplished them.
Together, my grandparents and I traversed the entire city, eating at Tavern on the Green and Sardi’s, going to the top of the Empire State Building and visiting FAO Schwartz. We saw The Lion King and Les Mis on Broadway, and I even remember venturing out to Hard Rock Cafe late at night with them just to cross it off the list.
My grandfather lived to bring joy to others. Each year he would foot the bill for all four of his children and their families to go to the beach together. Inevitably the kids would get tired of just sitting outside, and he and my uncle Mix would load all the children up and take us to the Big Kahuna water park while the other adults enjoyed the peace and quiet. Another day, they would take us down to the Holiday Inn where we would sneak in through the side door to use their swimming pool and enjoy the arcade. He certainly encouraged a us to have fun, even if it meant a little mischief.
My sisters and I went to visit him and introduce him to the twins a couple of weeks ago. In a rare moment of clarity, he looked up when we came into his hospital room and said, “Let me see that baby,” and grinned when I brought Luke over. He also spoke my name. I’m so glad that we got to see him at the end, and even introduce the twins to him.
Dear Paw Paw, I’m so glad you’ve found peace, but so sad my children will never know the way your face lights up when you see your children and great grandchildren, how you always have a funny joke or well-timed wit, or how much and unselfishly you loved with your whole heart. I am so thankful that you always encouraged me to be a better person, and to travel and be successful. I am so blessed and so grateful that I had 30 years with you. Thirty years to love you and bask in the glow of your smile, to hug you and kiss your cheeks.
Going through some old things tonight, I found this letter he wrote to me after our trip to New York. This was everything he was to me in a nutshell.
I love you Paw Paw, and I miss you terribly. I look forward to the day we meet again on the other side.
There’s no getting around it, I’m a messy person. I try, bless my heart (can I bless my own heart?) but with four kids and two dogs, things rapidly spin out of control and I often lack the time and energy to set it to rights again. And when I do, the Sarah-Norah tornado isn’t far behind to wreck havoc all over again. We manage to keep the dishes clean and we have clean clothes – though I don’t think the girls have a single pair of socks that match. I admit that when I finally get both twins asleep, the last thing I want to do is pick up the mop or tackle a bathroom.
Sarah is also very messy, often dumping barely worn clothes all over the floor and leaving trails of dress up shoes strung across the house for unwitting victims to step on and skate across the floor. I’ll admit she probably gets that messiness from me, but she also does this weird micro cleaning thing. For example, the bathroom counter is covered in all her bows and the band aids she has dumped everywhere, but she will get a baby wipe and meticulously clean the sink knobs, drawer handles and edge of the bath tub until it’s to her liking.
When I tell her to clean, she insists she likes the mess, but then will have q-tips out detailing the rims of her Barbie carriage. Or when we go in the backyard, she will jack up her Cozy Coupe and “work under the hood,” dipping paper towels in water and giving it a scrub down.
I often catch her doing her weird cleaning and feel ashamed. For instance a couple of days ago she had wipes out and was cleaning the toothpaste out of my sink. I felt guilty and set about cleaning my whole bathroom as a result.
But then there are times I don’t see her cleaning and later find the disaster she inadvertently leaves behind. Twice now the girls’ bathroom sink stopped draining. After several attempts to clean it out from the top without success, Mark had to get out the wrench and take the sink apart. The first time he pulled out tons of dirty q-tips shoved down the drain. The second time, it was a bunch of wadded up toilet paper. The sink’s drain, it seems, is the appropriate place to dispose of your cleaning materials once you are done wiping down the sink spout or the cabinets.
I’m not sure what it is about these little details that draw her to clean, and I’m not complaining, I just need to figure out how to get her to transfer that micro cleaning to macro cleaning. Maybe I should start with myself first. Yesterday, when I did decide to take on the whole bathroom, Sarah immediately jumped in with her paper towels and set about wiping down the cabinets while I Windexed mirrors and took down soap scum. Now that I think about it, she is probably motivating me to clean more than the other way around.
I am constantly in awe of people who manage to keep a clean house constantly, especially if they have small children. And maybe one day we will get there, but in a year’s time I will have two toddlers and things aren’t looking great. Any tips for cleaning house with lots of little ones afoot? And is it even worth it?
Mark and I will readily admit, as first born children, that we did not fully understand the plight of the middle child.
Of course you always hear how middle children are treated differently: they are overlooked, ignored or given harsher punishments and as a result they act out and do crazy things to nab that so-longed-for attention.
I didn’t think we would struggle with any of those things with Norah. Prior to the arrival of our twins, Norah was our love bear. She loves to snuggle, sit in our laps and love on her silky blankies. Our oldest and first born, ever the independent stereotype, wanted nothing to do with any of those things and so we especially loved cuddling our Norah Bean.We thought her loving demeanor would transfer over perfectly into mothering the new babies.
I should have known things would be tough when she started getting very daring near the end of the pregnancy. She put her climbing skills to the test often, and we were constantly after her to “get down,” or “stop doing that,” or “spit it out.”
On one fateful night, she climbed up to the top of the bunk bed stairs, cartwheeled off the top and hit the floor, knocking herself unconscious. She stopped breathing for about 30 seconds and her eyes rolled back in her head and she started convulsing. Those were the worst 30 seconds of my entire life as I did everything I could to bring her back while panicking. Sarah, feeding off my energy and witness to the whole thing, also started panicking. After beating on her back several times, she took in a gasp and came back to us. We went to the ER where they did a CT scan and reassured us that her minor concussion was nothing to worry about.
I was traumatized. Sarah was traumatized. So much so that I couldn’t talk about it for a while. Together Sarah and I kept an eye on her climbing, Sarah tattling when Norah would start to get into something she wasn’t supposed to. Norah was pissed off that she had a security detail on her at all times, and began to make a game out of going where she wasn’t supposed to.
And then poor Norah was completely thrown off with the arrival of her twin siblings.
All those loving feelings I had dreamed of? Ha! Once we brought the twins home Norah started her campaign to hurt the twins whenever she got a chance. She would scratch their heads, hit their heads, pinch their feet, pull their skin… it was a nightmare! We sought out our pediatrician’s advice in desperation. She suggested time out, which we were already doing, and making a concerted effort to spend one-on-one time with her. We did. And when we did she was so happy, but with four small children it’s impossible to give her all the attention she wants. Still though, that is slowly getting better and just these past two weeks she’s been dolling out kisses instead of pinches to the babies.
There have been many other attention seeking behaviors. Everything from unrolling entire rolls of toilet paper and getting her legs stuck between the crib bars to covering herself from hair to toes in Vaseline. All of those, fortunately, have been relatively minor. So I should have known something big was brewing.
Friday night their grandparents offered to keep the big girls overnight so we could get some much needed rest. While there, in the blink of an eye, Norah fell off the bed, hit a nightstand and split her lip open. And I’m talking about all the way open until we could see the inside of it. I wasn’t there to witness it, but Sarah was and it sent her into a panic attack. The injury was horrible. Enough to make me light headed and nauseous. Back to the ER we went. We were so fortunate that the place was nearly empty when we arrived though, and they got us back in short order. They had to consciously sedate her this time, which, let me tell you, is super freaky to see your baby with eyes wide open, staring at nothing, laying still while they stitch her back up. I couldn’t watch, but Mark held her hand the whole time as the doctor lined her lip back up and gave her five stitches.
I was so upset that my little thumb sucker wouldn’t be able to self soothe or eat. Ha! She sure showed me. She was sucking her thumb by the time we put her to bed that same night and ate like a champ the next morning.
We took her for a follow up appointment this morning. Even her pediatrician cringed when she saw her lip, but all is healing up like it is supposed to and she is going to be just fine. Even in the pediatrician’s office she took a nose dive in the hallway and hit the floor. My poor clumsy kid takes after her mother and, it seems, is due for a lifetime of upsetting her parents and sister and injuring herself.
Despite all that though, Norah certainly has a certain sparkle that draws people to her. Maybe it’s her cheesy grin, or the way that she snuggles up to people she just met, but people meet her and love her instantly. Now, if only we can get her to play up that part of her personality to gain attention instead of all that other crazy behavior.
My poor, sweet middle child. I hope she realizes how much we really do love her despite bringing two more babies home.
Hey! We made it another month!
Our little babies are growing like crazy these days, and while Vera is still our little teeny tiny, Luke has taken off and is quite the little chunk!
Both babies are locking in on us now and love to stare at us when we talk to them. They also enjoy looking at lamps and fans and bright shirts. And, to my great excitement, Luke even gave us his first real smile a few days ago and has continued to every day since then! Vera is still holding out on the smiles, but we are going to be annoying with her until she shows us that gummy grin.
Both babies are also holding their heads up now, doing push ups off our chests until they are bobbing their little heads around to take it all in.
I’m pretty sure V is going to be blue eyed, but we aren’t sure on Luke yet (I’m still hoping for one brown eyed baby!).
One thing that I find funny with twins is how their dispositions tend to keep switching. Vera used to be our calm, laid back night time sleeper, and now we struggle to get her to go to sleep every night while her brother conks out. And while the struggle to go to sleep is now tough, I am so very happy that they have been going right back to sleep after their 1 am feeding: something we were really battling with.
On an personal note, I’ve found that listening to audiobooks during the middle of the night feeding really helps me mentally get through it night after night. It’s an escape, something I do for myself and it makes the time fly by!
At this point I’ve also gotten to be a pro at tandem nursing, which is good because both babies have synced up their feeding schedules and it saves us a lot of time, allowing for more sleep (though tandem feeding in public is impossible still).
Both babies have very distinct cries: Luke is loud and honks like a goose and Vera is a quieter little constant wail. Mark and I both know who’s crying when we hear them in another room.
At two months Luke loves tummy time and Vera absolutely hates it. We try to rotate them around to different forms of entertainment throughout the day, but V hates almost all of it except for the swing, which keeps dying after about 5 minutes, causing her to start fussing again.
Both babies love the car and the stroller. One day recently, when both babies wouldn’t stop crying for a couple hours, I had enough and loaded them up in the van and they, Sarah and I went to Target to get groceries and stroll around. And it worked… until we got back home again.
Two months, to me, is always on the cusp of when things start to get really fun. I can’t wait for them to start smiling more and giggling and cooing… and sleeping through the night. But even that is starting to improve, too.
We go for a check up tomorrow (complete with shots and weight checks). I always hate the dreaded first shots. Praying it goes smoothly.
Happy two months Vera and Luke!
I remember being pregnant with Sarah, my first baby, and anxiously anticipating maternity leave: an imagined heavenly time off where I would snuggle with my baby and have plenty of time to do things like paint my house, clean, cook and lounge around. You can imagine my shock after I delivered her when, after hours upon end of nursing, changing diapers, burping and soothing, all I wanted to do was spend any spare moment I had in bed and asleep. And then there was the terrible post partum anxiety that made it nearly impossible to leave my own house or get much of that sleep I so desperately wanted. Before I knew it the 12 weeks had slipped by and I was sobbing as I dropped my first born off at daycare and headed back into work.
With my second baby, I knew better. I was prepared to rest and heal, nurse constantly and attempt to parent two small children. I thought that I knew what to expect after Sarah. Wrong again. Hello that evil word that we longer speak in our house lest, like Voldemort, it decides to resurface from the dead and drive us to a mental institution. (hint: it begins with a “c” and ends with “olic”). Night after night our second baby screamed from 9pm to 3am, keeping Mark and I awake with her constant fussing. We would finally get her to sleep, only to lay her down and have her wake up screaming again… over and over and over. Fortunately we were able to continue to send Sarah to daycare so I could get a couple hours of sleep during the day. Despite that I still hobbled along on a total of 3-4 hours of sleep per night/day while I continued to work while I was on “leave” from the house. The colic finally finally went away one week prior to me going back to work full time and by that time I was so sleep deprived I’m kind of amazed I was able to accomplish anything.
This time, I was again steeling myself. I know better than to expect anything, especially with twins, but I did pray every day that lightning wouldn’t strike twice and we could at least avoid that evil c-word. Twins are hard, of course they are. One infant is tough, two infants… well let’s just say I’m constantly juggling their needs, the needs of my two other children, and time with my husband, all while trying to keep my head on straight. My days pass by so quickly in a haze of nursing two babies, patting, burping, easing the cries and trying to entertain my 4-year-old who is out of school for the summer.
And while we had a scare with night time screams, it turned out to be something we could manage with gripe water and I heaved a huge sigh of relief. However, getting up with two babies at night means I’m up twice as long during a nursing session, and when both babies won’t go back to sleep it’s enough to make me run and hide my head under the pillow, or shake my husband awake so we can spend hours together patting fussy babies while we watch re-runs of yard crashers while saying, “Want to switch babies?” It’s no wonder the days and weeks are absolutely flying by.
People often ask me how we’re doing these days, and without hesitation, I say, “Exhausted, but it’s getting better.” The big girls are struggling to get our attention in all different ways, both good and bad. Norah has taken to attacking the babies if we aren’t paying attention to her, and when she gets in trouble she immediately tries to kiss them or us to make up for bad behavior. Sarah, while usually fantastic with them, is constantly in their faces, waking them up and decorating them with costumes.
Mark and I have become expert jugglers. We often laugh about the two of us bathing Sarah together back when she was an only child. Now we ask, “which two do you want to bathe tonight?” We are experts at loading all four of them into the van and getting back out again. And the twins, even though they are little, just have to go along for the ride wherever we go. They have already been to two of Sarah’s school performances and a bunch of birthday parties. They don’t seem to mind too much though.
Our lives are all about efficiency and balance and love. Each night we do take time, individually, with Sarah and with Norah to read books and snuggle and let them know how very special they are to us and how much we love them.
I’m not going to lie, our rough days are really rough. My sister came over to help one night and I think we scared her away from ever wanting children of her own. But our good moments are really good too. Just today when both babies were screaming, Sarah asked to hold Vera and rocked her to sleep while I managed Luke. And, I have to say, it was one of the sweetest moments of my life.
So yes, we’re surviving, we’re exhausted, but we’re doing ok at this family of six thing.
One month is truly a celebration for all of us. We have survived! We have thrived! We are exhausted.
One thing I didn’t experience with my single pregnancies was how worrisome and difficult it would be to get our babies back up to birth weight after their initial normal weight loss. This month has been a struggle and put my strength of will and determination to breastfeed to the test. Breastfeeding is hard with a single baby, but with twins the word hard doesn’t quite cut it. Toss in premature babies, one of whom is a lazy eater and the other who wouldn’t latch for a while, and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it.
But, guess what? Together, the three of us are doing very well with it now at the one month mark! Vera is latching and Luke is slowly being weaned off his supplement and getting everything he needs from nursing!
At one month out, we are very nearly back at birth weight, shy by just a few ounces each (Vera was 5lbs 10oz and Luke was 7lbs 60z at birth). And both babies are getting very long.
As we round out the end of this month, both Luke and Vera are starting to hold their heads up.
Luke, ever my lazy boy, takes things at a snail’s pace, but we are learning how he works. He has to get really grumpy and angry before he will eat well, for example.
Vera is a determined little thing and has much more patience than her brother, who gets angry and red when he is not being held or sleeping.
Vera also loves to look around and take in the world around her. Both babies enjoy looking at lights and are starting to be awake more in the day time hours.
Sleep is another battle we are continuing to fight. I think, perhaps, the best piece of advice I’ve been given as a multiple mama is that when one wakes up at night, wake the other one up. Over the course of the past few days, the babies are finally starting to sync and get on a nighttime schedule, allowing me to sleep 2-3 hours in a stretch. I’m still exhausted of course, but the predictability is easier on my body and makes for better days and nights.
Luke struggles with hiccups after feedings, which can make nights miserable when they keep him from falling back asleep. Without fail he’s always my first to wake and demand to eat and takes the longest to eat and get full.
At this point we think Luke looks just like a boy Sarah and Vera is favoring my husband’s side of the family strongly, especially Mark’s sister.
While both babies enjoy napping together sometimes during the day, due to reflux problems, we have them sleeping in separate Rock and Plays to keep their heads elevated. Both babies love their beds though and seem to sleep the most soundly when they are there.
We have been working hard on establishing a schedule and routine with cues so babies know when it’s night and when it’s day. I think sometimes following the routine is tougher on me than them, but like all things that take hard work and persistence, it seems to be paying off.
The big girls are slowly adjusting, Sarah much more quickly than Norah, but I think that whole topic deserves a post to itself.
Really, I’m just so proud and yet so humbled by this past month. We are so happy, but so tired. I can’t believe a month has blown by already.
People often tell us they don’t know how we’re doing it, and truthfully I don’t really know how we are either. We have had such an amazing village of people helping us, praying for us and feeding us, and I think that has been our biggest blessing. We are in survival mode, but we do still have small slices of time to take a breath and smile. We are making it.
Happy one month Vera and Luke!
Day 1 in the hospital, for all the chaos with Luke being whisked away, turned out ok in the end. We had him in our arms by the end of the day and both babies were nursing and happy to snuggle together.
Day 2 though, Vera started acting strange. Suddenly, my tiny, feisty little baby no longer wanted to latch or nurse, despite her first successful day in doing so. I tried not to let it bother me too much at first, after all, newborns are lethargic and it just happens that way sometimes. But the hours went on with no luck and I began to worry.
I had successfully exclusively breastfed Sarah and Norah for a year each and figured that this time would be like the past two times. I wrote off the lactation consultants when the first offered their help – I was a pro now after all. And Luke was just like Norah, he latched the first time like he had been doing it for months and ate with an appetite that suited his big size. Vera though, was just giving up all interest in even trying to eat. She started losing weight and turning yellow and I knew her jaundice numbers would be creeping up.
I finally cast away my pride and called for the lactation consultants. I was fully expecting to know everything they had to tell me already, but I was in for a pleasant surprise. Both women were absolutely amazing. They comforted me and gave me hope, taught me new techniques for helping baby learn to feed, and together we began to work on Vera. For two solid days they would come in my room and work with us both patiently. They reassured me that this was fairly normal with smaller babies and that she would come around. And although we had a few successful feedings, they were not enough as her weight continued to drop.
Our pediatrician came to visit and she was worried. We talked about options and there was a strong possibility that Vera would have to be admitted to the hospital after we were all released. I had one more day in the hospital covered by insurance, so she suggested we stay and work even harder – waking her up and force feeding every one to two hours. With the help of the consultants, I pumped and we began to force feed her with syringes. I remember sitting with one of the consultants, crying as I watched my little girl struggle to swallow what we were forcing down her. Angela, the consultant, was so positive and kept me focused, so proud of the work I was doing, how much I was already able to pump and how I was handling my babies.
By the time discharge day came, our pediatrician showed up and said the numbers had slowed enough that she was comfortable with Vera going home with us that evening, but we had to bring her to the pediatrician’s clinic first thing the next morning. I remember as we were getting ready to leave, crying and hugging the lactation consultant. I may have taken her by surprise, but she really sustained me through those tough couple of days and I don’t know what I would have done without her.
The next day at the pediatrician’s office, Vera had dropped weight again, bringing her original 5lb 10oz weight down to 4lbs 12oz. Her Bilirubin numbers were creeping up too. By that point any milk we could get down her, she was throwing right back up. After asking us some questions, her pediatrician determined she had reflux and immediately started her on medication to help. My poor, sad, little yellow baby was breaking my heart.
Our doctor gave us one more day. It was the “make or break” period for a hospital stay. We started the medicine that night and baby girl managed to keep all of her food down!
On Saturday morning we showed up to the clinic, prepared for whichever doctor was on call to check our girl’s numbers. To our great surprise though, we learned that our pediatrician had come up to the office on her day off just to see us that morning. Vera’s weight had finally stabilized – no gain, but no loss. We had a talk about why Vera was at a high risk with her jaundice (being pre-term, losing weight, etc) and what our plan of action would be based on her lab results that day. We went home and waited for the phone call. That afternoon, our pediatrician called us directly to tell us Vera’s bili numbers had also stabilized (going neither up nor down), and that we wouldn’t be checking her into the hospital that evening after all. With a great sigh of relief, we powered through the rest of the weekend, laying her out in the sun, giving her medicine, feeding her constantly and doing everything we could to naturally heal our baby.
We were back on Monday and to our huge and great relief, our tiny little pixie had gained an ounce and her bili number was down two points! The scary period was mostly over and we were allowed to go home with instructions to spend more time in the sun and continue frequent feedings.
In the days since then, our mighty little warrior princess has rallied. She has suddenly decided that she likes to nurse after all, and we’ve been able to put aside the syringe feedings completely. She now eats with a fierceness that puts her much larger brother to shame. I have watched over the past few days as her cheeks have filled in and we can no longer see her tiny rib cage through her skin. Her yellow tinge is fading and her eyes actually look white now. She cries out for food on her 1-2 hour schedule and makes no complaints unless we don’t feed her quickly enough.
I’m so proud of my little girl for fighting with us, coming around and allowing us to avoid a hospital stay. Hopefully her numbers on Tuesday will reflect all our hard work. Three cheers for Vera!
Most twins don’t make it to term for delivery. The mother’s body runs out of room, or her uterus gets too big and gets confused and labors early, or or or… So many things in twin pregnancies mean an early delivery, which is why when we found out we were expecting two babies, we immediately had to start seeing a high risk OB in addition to our regular OB.
I quickly learned that I was one of the lucky ones. I was tall, relatively young and in good health and my babies were fraternal, not sharing a placenta. We monitored them as the weeks went on and watched as our Baby B got bigger and bigger. He was above average in size, while his sister paced along hitting her slightly below average milestones. Baby B was also awash in fluid, swimming in what Mark dubbed his “pent house.” As the time grew closer, they recommended that we deliver between 36 and 37 weeks.
I was huge, very uncomfortable and often in a lot of pain, but I really wanted to make it to 37 weeks for the health of the babies. My regular OB agreed that we could try for 37 weeks and we tentatively scheduled their delivery date for April 13, right on the nose of 37 weeks. I hoped and prayed we would make it. My OB was going out of town the whole week before and she and I have been through a lot together. I really wanted her to be the one who delivered them.
My body though, started to get other ideas. At 36 weeks I started having regular contractions. I was monitored and eventually put on medicine to slow the contractions. Over the course of the week I battled the contractions and several times we nearly went to the hospital when they got strong and regular. But, by a lot of prayers and miracles, we made it to 37 weeks and showed up for our scheduled c-section. When they hooked me up to the monitors upon our arrival at the hospital, I was having contractions every 5-7 minutes. It was baby day whether we wanted it to be or not, which eased my guilt about scheduling their delivery too soon.
I was nervous about the c-section, despite my previous one. There’s something so creepy about being awake during surgery. I had a great anesthesiologist though, and he really attended to me and how I felt. Because there was so much weight and pressure on my body with two near-term babies, their placentas and all the extra fluid in my body, when I was on the operating table, they had to keep rotating the table side to side to keep me from passing out. The spinal block was particularly tough this time. It made me feel so sick and I just wanted to quit and not do it once it was started, but, as these things go, I had no choice. I tried to control the shakes and nausea and was so happy when Mark was finally allowed into the OR.
The surgery itself was quick. The same doctor team who delivered Norah was there to deliver our twins. Mark even video recorded this delivery (and without much gore!) so I could watch our babies be delivered later.
Our girl, Vera Margaret, was head down and delivered first. She arrived into the world with a squeaky little scream and weighed in at 5 pounds and 10 ounces. Her brother, Luke Anthony, was not so accommodating. He was lodged up high in the right side of my ribs and breech. It took one doctor pulling on his feet and another shoving him from the top of my ribs to get him out. My doctor knocked the breath out of me in the process, but as soon as he was out, I could breathe again. His cry was much more gurgly, and I barely got to see him before they whisked him away. Mark followed and recorded them being weighed and cleaned up for me while I was being stitched up. Luke weighed in at a whopping 7lbs and 6oz – huge for a twin or even a singleton, especially at 37 weeks! As my pediatrician said, he was stealing all her groceries.
They quickly discovered that Luke was having trouble “transitioning.” They put both babies skin-to-skin on me, but when Luke’s oxygen levels wouldn’t regulate, he had to be whisked away to the nursery and put under an oxygen hood.
My tiny Vera was right as rain though, and got to stay with me.
It was hard not having my son with me that first day. It was very surreal – after all it had always just been me and one baby girl after delivery before and there I was again in the same situation. I missed him though, bone deep. I don’t know what I would have done without his sister to hold on to and keep me stable. The nursery was great though and called down every hour or so to give me updates. My family and husband went to the nursery regularly to check on him, and bring me pictures and updates. Our pediatrician even texted me photos of him.
We went through a “wait and see” period with him all day. Finally and miraculously, that evening they were able to bring him to me.
Vera is a petite little pixie with huge eyes. We got to spend a whole day bonding together, just the two of us, mostly skin to skin.
Luke was a big boy who seemed to favor his mother in looks and was (and still is) most content in his mama’s arms.
The thing that was most spectacular about having twins was watching them together. They shared a bassinet in the hospital, and when one would get inconsolable, we could lay them next to the other and they would immediately quiet down.
And Sarah was so keen on meeting her new siblings that she faked an ear infection and pain at school, had the front office call me in the hospital and got out of after school play practice. When mom picked her up and asked her about her ear, she informed mom that it really didn’t hurt that bad after all, it was just was a little warm. When she got to the hospital, I still only had Vera with me, and Sarah was so concerned and kept asking me where her brother was. She was (and still is) so so so good to her siblings. She climbed into bed with Vera and me, snuggled up to her sister and said, “Oh, you’re so cute like an itty bitty unicorn.”
And she immediately did the same with her brother when we finally got to have him in our room.
Norah, however, did not know what to think about mom holding a new baby. She wouldn’t come anywhere near me until I handed Vera off to someone else, then she immediately climbed into bed with me and held on for dear life.
Mark was a champ throughout the whole day. He stayed strong, watched after our Luke man and took care of all of us despite battling off a sinus infection and having to sleep on that awful hospital couch.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how amazing the hospital staff was that day and every day we were there. Everyone from the doctors and nurses to the team who worked and checked on Luke to the lactation consultants made everything so much easier and less stressful.
The rest of our hospital stay was kind of crazy, especially as Vera started to run into her own set of troubles, but that’s a story for another post.
Their birthday was eventful, and sometimes scary, but beautiful in its own right. I am so very thankful that we were able to make it to 37 weeks, a milestone most twin moms don’t get to reach, and that we got to have them with us in our hospital room most of the time. Happy birthday my sweet sweet Vera and Luke.
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