Archive for April, 2015

  • My Tiny Yellow Baby

    Date: 2015.04.26 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Twins, Vera | Response: 5

    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!

  • The Twins: A Birth Story

    Date: 2015.04.22 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Health, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy, Sarah, Twins | Response: 2

    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.

  • The Night Before

    Date: 2015.04.13 | Category: Family, Food, Friends, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah, Twins | Response: 6

    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.

  • Happy Fourth Birthday Sarah!

    Date: 2015.04.11 | Category: Birthday, Life, Sarah | Response: 1

    Oh my dear, sweet FOUR-year-old Sarah girl,

    Typing that line was enough to make me tear up. How did we get here already?

    Over the past year, your personality has truly blossomed. You went from a shy, quiet girl, to one bursting with life and plenty of drama. I think pre-school has been good for you. You’ve made so many new friends and your intelligence has started to shine through. You can now write all of your letters, though you still get frustrated with “S, N and W.” You can write your name, both forwards and backwards. You know what sounds your letters make and love to ask mom and dad which letters different words begin with.

    You have a knack for remembering the most arcane and specific details about books, movies and even gifts. Just today you were drinking out of a cup and looked up at me and said, “Mama, this is the cup Mimi gave me for Valentine’s Day.”

    You are very smart, yes, but it’s watching you use your imagination that touches my heart the most.

    You can sit for an hour stretch with your My Little Ponies in front you, building elaborate castles for them and their princesses out of blocks, making them all talk to each other in turn. You love to draw and color, creating masterpieces of your family, friends, seasons and elephants out of crayons. You always works so diligently and are very specific in your color choices.

    You love to perform, primarily singing songs you made up yourself while dressed in costumes you picked and performing ballet steps that you must have seen somewhere, because you’re pretty dang good. You always want all the grown ups’ attention and get frustrated sometimes when we talk to each other, get on the phone or spend time with your sister, but you mean well.

    At four you have a heart of gold. Yesterday, as I was trying to rest up for the soon-to-be delivery of your twin siblings, you informed me that you were going to be my mama that day. You then quickly tucked me in to the bottom bunk of your bed, brought me a stuffed animal, dimmed the lights and read me books before telling me to go to sleep and you would make me feel better. Guess what? You totally did.

    Your little sister can be so mischievous, but you tolerate her well. Instead of getting angry and hitting her when she makes you mad, you give her a tight hug and tell her to “Stop that Bean!,”  though you do love it when she gets in trouble.

    You are tough and independent and love to boss people around, most of whom are happy to do your bidding much to mommy’s dismay. Sometimes we have to correct you, and when we do you take it very personally and go hide in your closet until you’re ready to come out, always with an apology on your lips, to face the consequences.

    You LOVE being a big sister and showing Norah how things are done. You beam as you show her how to use a fork properly, or brush your hair or put dishes in the sink. You’ve even started trying to show her how to use the potty and are happy to report to mom and dad when she’s getting into something she shouldn’t be.

    Sarah you have the most beautiful, vibrant spirit. I marvel at your bravery on insisting and practicing and then trying out for the school play (and scoring a role!). I glow as I watch you bring toys to your sister and sing songs to her to help her stop crying. You have no idea how much I love it when you crawl up next to me on the couch in the evenings and ask to snuggle and watch a show. I want to bottle those moments up and put them in my pocket for bad days.

    Oh my Sarah girl, my four-year-old, my first born, how I love you. Here’s to many more joys together in the next year.

    Love you,
    Mama