Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
In January I had good intentions of doing a post reflecting on the madness that was 2015, but illness invaded our house, taking down one with strep, another with croup and the other two with RSV, followed by some necessary ear tubes and a lip tie correction procedure. There was also a quick care visit to remove a piece of Styrofoam out of Norah’s ear and an ER trip thrown in there for good measure. And in the midst of all the madness, I forgot about everything except trying to get my babies well and somehow finishing the magazine on deadline.
Now that the babies’ procedure is over, I’m sitting here feeling kind of dazed and dumbfounded. I honestly have trouble remembering much of the past 10+ months.
A friend and coworker of mine is expecting twins, and together we chatted about my twins’ birth and I mentioned that Mark had recorded the c-section from a discreet non-gory angle, but that I’d never actually sat down and watched it all the way through. So over the weekend I decided to do just that.
It really is amazing and beautiful what modern medicine is capable of. I sat there in awe as I watched little V first slip out, and then as it took two doctors to physically shove and tug my breech boy out of my ribs together. And then I watched as Mark followed the babies back to a little room off the OR to be weighed, measured and cleaned – or at least that’s what I always thought they did. In these 10+ months, I never actually knew what happened after they were delivered.
I watched the video on bated breath as both babies were immediately put on CPAP machines in an attempt to get them to breathe on their own, or “make the transition,” as I heard them say. I watched as oxygen masks were placed on my tiny babies, tubes slid down into their bellies and nurses counted off numbers and percentages. I heard them say, “She will probably have to go up to the nursery for more oxygen,” as people hovered around, making sure they were ok. And then, after a few minutes, a mask came off and, “She did it!” was exclaimed as little Vera made the transition on her own, breathing in that life-giving air without anymore struggling, while Luke continued on the machine.
I had no idea any of this was going on while I was being stitched up, and I’m sort of relieved I didn’t.
The next thing I knew, I was being rolled out of the OR. They handed me Vera, put Luke briefly on my chest for skin-to-skin, monitored him, then whisked him away for oxygen in the nursery.
I remember sitting stunned in recovery, holding my tiny 5 pound baby girl, receiving sweet phone call updates from the nursery about my son and not feeling like any of it was real. After all, my other two deliveries went quickly and smoothly, and I ended up with a baby girl after it was all over. It was so strange to think about this other baby boy of mine somewhere out there, supported in his hours-old life by oxygen and a team of nurses that I had only caught the briefest glimpse of.
I was lucky and incredibly blessed though, for my little man finally made “the transition” later that same day and I was slapped in the face with reality as they brought my second infant to me to hold, comfort and nurse.
And now, nearly 10 months later, I sit here and still can’t believe that was all real, or that we have two babies sometimes. All those early struggles feel so stretched and blurred as I chase my now two incredibly mobile and beautiful babies around the house, digging paper and hair and toys out of their hands before they can stuff them in their mouths. I get to revel in their very different and very distinct personalities and truly get to know them.
And just now, all this time later, I realize truly what a miracle, gift and blessing those first few days were and how much I truly owe the nursing staff at the hospital. It’s hard to believe my now 16 and 19 pound babies were ever those scrawny little 5 and 7 pounds newborns in the video.
I haven’t felt much like writing lately… or maybe it’s just that there is no time.
Our kids have been falling to illness like dominoes: one gets sick, starts to mend and the next falls victim to the illness, until at least three of them are sick at any given time. Yes, I knew this was coming, but it still doesn’t make it easier to bear. We go to the pediatrician’s once a week when we’re lucky, 2-3 times a week when we’re not. We’ve battled raging high fevers, puffy, goopy eyes and coughs that keep the whole house up at night.
Nearly every day, Mark and I look at each other and say, “Do you think it’s their ears or just teeth?” Because we certainly couldn’t just be sick without 3 of our 4 also getting new teeth.
And Norah (of course it’s Norah, it’s always Norah) has had it the worst of all. After nearly two months straight of ear infections, fever, coughing, middle of the night screaming, and now our fifth antibiotic, our pediatrician sent her to the ENT. He took one look inside her ears, cringed, pointed to the second to worst picture on the ear infection chart and said the word I knew was coming: “tubes.”
That, in and of itself, really isn’t so bad. I had prepared myself, know lots of moms who have had to get tubes in their kids’ ears and I know that this will bring welcome relief for her. But it didn’t stop there.
You see, our poor girl also has a snoring problem and it turns out her adenoids are pushing in on her ear tubes, her nose, eyes and even her teeth, so those have to come out too. Her case is bad enough and she’s suffered so much that the doctor wants to do the procedure as soon as possible. He first mentioned the Wednesday before Christmas, but then amended it to the Monday after to let the newest round of tough antibiotics have time to attempt to clear things out.
I know, logically, that this is a very common, quick and easy surgery, but a little edge of panic still creeps in when I think about her having to go under.
I am so thankful that I was already off work for the surgery and recovery time – a little silver lining. Trying to balance working full time and being a mother is something I constantly struggle with. There’s so much guilt when I’m at work away from my sick kids, but then there’s guilt when I’m home and missing so much work. “What must people think?” I often wonder. But I have to put that behind me and do the best that one person can do (or really two, Mark stays home with the kids when they are sick as much, if not more than I do).
And so, as Christmas comes and we get ready to celebrate, please keep our Norah Bean and her very anxious momma in your prayers. Here’s to hoping everyone’s teeth all come through, the fevers stop and everyone gets a little bit of rest.
Over the past six months since the twins have come into our lives, I’ve struggled with ways to dedicate time to my older girls. Mark and I constantly “divide and conquer” though, and at night while he bathes and dresses the babies, the big girls and I move to the back of the house to begin their bed time routine – which is always a challenge as I constantly find myself physically wrestling an overtired two-year-old into the bath tub while her older sister screams, “SHE IS SPLASHING SOAP IN MY EYES AND HITTING ME!”
One night Sarah asked me if we could have a “Halloween Party.” I was hesitant at first, because one more thing, but she looked at me pleadingly and melted my over-tired heart. Her imagination is boundless and I knew that anything and everything could easily be transformed into a Halloween Party. I agreed and she cheered!
I began to think of the things I could do to turn bath time into Halloween party time. What does any good party have? Music of course! So I turned on the Pandora “Halloween Party” station. Then I dimmed the lights, but that was a little too spooky, so I got a fall-scented candle and lit it in the bathroom. Perfect. Now as “Monster Mash” and tunes from The Nightmare Before Christmas flood our bathroom, we dance and laugh. Sometimes we add extra fun things like bath foam to make “costumes” or bath bombs to fizz and turn the water different colors (yellow, blue, red!).
Now, when 7:00 rolls around, there are no more battles to get into the bathtub. Norah enthusiastically yells, “Tub time!” while Sarah says, “It’s time to party!” and wiggles her hips. We rush to the bathroom, set up our party, shut the door to close out the babies, dance and play and they get mama’s full attention.
It’s not elaborate, but it is fun and it’s the joyful time we all need together. Now I look forward to getting everyone ready for bed, and the only protesting that happens is when it’s time to get out of the tub (but even that is minor because we keep the music going while they dry off and get dressed).
One of my favorite parts of all this are the things we use to create our party. The only thing I love more than shopping local is buying things that I know are safe and healthy for my family. My friend Kate owns Zombee Candle and Coven Co., and sells both products at her new store in Shreveport, The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts. For our tub time parties, I’ve been lighting up seasonally appropriate fall scents – L’Automne and Bitches Brew (though the girls call it Witches Brew). Bitches Brew is purple and smells like apple cider, so it usually gets Sarah’s vote for party time. The candles are made with soy and don’t release any kind of nasty toxins into the air.
Coven Co., is a line of natural and organic beauty products, including bath bombs and body butter (and the body butter even comes in the falltastic Hocus Pocus scent). The girls love waiting to see what color their bath bomb is going to release when we toss them in the tub.
I am so excited to have the opportunity to share a little bit of our Halloween party joy with my readers! I’m teaming up with Kate during the week of Halloween to giveaway some of these locally made products from The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts.
You can win this awesome little bundle of healthy, Halloween goodness which includes:
- 3 x small Coven Co. Aura Bombe bath bombs in Grove [lemon & sage] or Mandarin Royale [vanilla & orange]
- 1 x 14oz Midi Zombee in your choice of Bitches Brew [mulled apple cider], L’Automne [orange, clove, black tea], Hocus Pocus [vanilla & pumpkin], or Hallowed Ground [tobacco, patchouli, cedarwood].
Here’s what you have to do to enter. Make sure you complete all the steps – we’ll check!
- LIKE The Sleepy Hollow: Books & Gifts on Facebook.
- SHARE this post with your friends.
- TAG a friend in the comments.
- PROMISE to have your own personal Halloween Party, even if it’s just lighting up a spooky scent and relaxing in the tub with your very own bath bomb.
The last day to enter is this Saturday, HALLOWEEN! We will announce a winner on Saturday. Good luck!
Last Friday I had Norah at the pediatrician’s office for her two-year-old well visit. I had Luke in tow as well. His fussiness and sleeplessness was reaching critical level and his cough was enough to scare me every time it happened.
Norah, when she and I go places together without the entire crew, tends to be an angel. She readily got on the scale, let them measure her and check her temperature. Put up a small fight at shot time, but didn’t even cry during her finger stick. Our pediatrician, who we have gotten to know well enough that we now call her, “Aunt Monica,” and I discussed and sort of laughed at Norah’s ability to find accident and injury and her ER history, but we were relieved that she had gone a stretch without anything significant happening.
Luke, it turned out, had a double ear infection, so we got an antibiotic for him and we went about our merry way.
Fate, though, reared its ugly head that evening.
I got it into my head that night that I wanted to make one of the girls’ favorite dishes, “yellow soup,” (ie potato and veggie and cheese soup). I knew I had all the ingredients, so I got to work. When I grabbed the chicken broth, however, I discovered that Norah had gotten a hold of it and tried to open it with her teeth in a fit of rat-like hunger, thus opening it and letting it go bad. I grumbled as I tossed the unused box into the trash and dug around in my pantry where I unearthed a still-good can of chicken broth. I decided to use that to start the soup while Mark ran to the store to get more.
As things often happen at dinner time, both babies started crying, so I went to them while I waited on the soup to cook, not thinking about all the things that were still sitting on the counter top.
Mark got back, and while he was busy adding the rest of the ingredients and I was tending to babies, Norah decided she very much wanted that open can of chicken broth still sitting out on the counter, so she reached for it. The lid was still attached, so when she stuck her thumb down in the can, it got stuck, she panicked and then she yanked… HARD.
Mark starts yelling that Norah is bleeding everywhere. I panicked a little and asked if she needed stitches, but he couldn’t tell because there was so much blood. I pinned her down and looked and the gaping wound on her thumb. No doubt, there would be stitches.
Mark would have to drive while I held my toddler with her gushing thumb, which Mark ingeniously wrapped in paper towels and electric tape, so we quickly began seeking back up help. My mom had my sister’s kids, my in-laws were out of town, my sister was at work… “Call Debbie,” I said, and our wonderful neighbor immediately rushed over to help.
We darted out the door and made for Quick Care. They took one look at her thumb and sent us immediately over to the Emergency Room.
When we got there, the ER was empty, thank goodness, and one of our friends was our nurse. In short order they brought out our old friend the papoose board and put Norah in her straight jacket.
We tried all kinds of distraction techniques while they numbed her up the doctor started cleaning and stitching. The ER doctor encouraged us to sing, “Wheels on the Bus.” I can just imagine the joy and horror anyone walking by would have experienced as they watched a little girl strapped to a blue board getting her hand stitched up while her parents, three nurses and a doctor sang “Wheels on the Bus” complete with hand motions. Norah, however, did not find it at all entertaining.
Still though, three stitches later we were out of there, but not before our ER doctor commented that we looked familiar. Yes, this was her third trip to the ER in a year, but, I said, “ I swear we’re good parents!”
It was when we got home and started to get her ready for bed that it dawned on me that it was the thumb she sucks to soothe herself and go to sleep. Oh hell.
It was a bad night. She had trouble going to sleep without sucking her thumb, and then couldn’t settle herself as she woke up multiple times in the middle of the night, both in pain and in general anger at the thumb situation. When I told her to suck her other thumb, she just looked at it and screamed. Combine that with the babies waking up with painful ears and it was rough.
That was a Friday night. Monday morning I had a phone call from dear “Aunt Monica,” who could not believe what she saw when she got her files from the weekend. She left me the sweetest and most encouraging voicemail that said many things, but included the phrases, “Oh my gosh it never ends,” and “I firmly believe God only gives you what you can handle and He knows you are a stronger woman than I.”
It’s now been over a week and things are getting better. She’s missed a lot of naps over the thumb sucking issue, but she had the stitches taken out yesterday and hasn’t resumed thumb sucking… so maybe in the silver lining of things she broke that habit? I’m not ready to swear by it yet, but maybe, just maybe.
And also, this birthday gift from Cassie showed up in our mailbox last night, and I have to say, it’s perfection.
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.
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.
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.
This is it: the last day before our twins arrive.
I am a huge whirl of emotions that range from extremely excited to positively terrified. How am I going to do this?
Today was not what I imagined it would be. In my head, I pictured my last day as a family of four, snuggled up with my kids, playing games with them, sitting outside while they played as the four of us basked in our last calm and peaceful day together before the babies arrived.
The reality was… well it wasn’t that.
The girls know something is up and they were acting out. Sarah literally clung to my body all day. If I dozed off on the couch, she would jump on my legs or back immediately to get my attention. If I tried to maneuver myself off the couch, she would clutch onto my arm with a death grip and hold me down. I love to snuggle with my kids, but this all consuming clingy thing was overstimulating. Everything on my body hurts, from my hips and back to my skin and hair. Just touching me was enough to make me want to scream.
Norah woke up in a terror. She was screaming for “”PANCAKE! PANCAKE!” from the moment she woke up. She clung to her daddy, hovering between his legs while he attempted to make the requested pancakes, our traditional weekend breakfast. She did cheer up some after she ate, but was still into everything: yanking cups full of water off tables, throwing her cup and smashing her sister’s toe, crying over having her diaper changed. Time out, our go-to miracle worker, had absolutely no effect on her today.
Oh, and did I mention that Mark has a sinus infection on top of all of this? He had to go to Quick Care with fever yesterday morning, where they promptly gave him antibiotic and steroid shots, the latter of which kept him up all night last night. And of course I don’t really sleep anymore either. So we were both exhausted and cranky and generally feeling bad.
By 10am, I was frazzled. We were all sitting on the floor in Sarah’s room and I was trying to pack the girls’ bags for their grandparents’ houses. The girls were more interested in ignoring everything I said and making their big mess into a giant mess. It was overwhelming. How could I possibly handle four children when I was barely keeping it together with two? I had to leave the room freak out and ugly cry for about 30 minutes.
Shortly after that, my friend Kelly came over and brought communion. I don’t think she was expecting to walk in and see me in tears, but she hugged me and immediately started consoling me. By the grace of God, the girls let the three adults pray together and receive the host without interuption. Immediately I relaxed and so did Mark. It was truly what we needed in that moment.
After Kelly left, we fed the kids, got Norah down for a nap and Mark got a chance to rest while Sarah and I colored My Little Ponies together, just the two of us, for almost an hour. Then Mark and I traded out and he got to spend the next 45 minutes building Legos with her, enjoying the one-on-one time. About the time Norah woke up from a nap, Nana showed up to get Sarah. We said our goodbyes to her, then got to spend some quality and happy one-on-one time with Norah. She loved dancing and clapping with us. My mom came to collect her a short time later, and she was thrilled to go with her Mimi.
My sisters came over around 4:30 and put in a solid two hours of cleaning my house for me and provided some much needed conversation and distraction. My friend Stephanie showed up with two lasagnas for our freezer and big hugs and well wishes.
After they left, Mark and I decided Mexican food sounded excellent, so we picked it up, brought it home and got to have an entire conversation uninterrupted in a quiet house – an unexpected date night that we desperately needed.
And now here we are. It’s 9pm and we have to be at the hospital at 5am. I didn’t know if we’d make it to goal day. I had three days this past week with regular contractions that had to be stopped by medication. It’s had me on pins and needles, adding an additional level of anxiety. But, by the grace of God, we have somehow made it to goal day.
I have had so many people call, text and message me to check on me today and tell me they are praying for and thinking about us tomorrow, and that has meant more to me than anything. I’ve done this c-section thing before, but I’m still extremely anxious about it. I worry about the babies and hope their lungs are developed enough and we don’t have to go to the NICU. I pray that everything will be perfect. How many twin moms are lucky enough to make it to 37 weeks? Most are not. Even at the OB’s office I started getting cheers and proud congratulations every time I made it to another appointment.
We are here. We are at the finish line. It doesn’t seem real, but my body says otherwise.
I am so excited. I am so worried. I am so happy. I am so anxious.
We can do this. We will do this. This is it. Whew.
We appreciate all your love and support throughout this whole pregnancy, especially through delivery tomorrow. Please pray for the three of us, or really the six of us. We all need your love and positive support now and over the coming months. It’s going to be wild and it’s going to be wonderful.
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