After years of infertility and IVF, we've finally seen light from the other side. I knew it could happen, but certainly didn't think it would be us ... our new life with twins. Gulp.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
So, if your husband, who has many, many years of cooler-packing experience, assures you that you can absolutly keep your hard-earned breastmilk frozen in a well-packed cooler over the course of three days, don't believe him.
Because he is wrong.
And when he thinks it's not a big deal that you arrive home after your weekend away to unpack the extra breastmilk that you didn't end up needing, only to find it totally thawed, you have my permission to thwap him over the head with whatever blunt object is closest. Hard.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Yesterday I did a pumping 'yield,' in which, beginning at the midnight feeding I fed them bottled breast milk, and pumped. I did this all day, for six feedings (they regularly get 1 bottle of breast milk, and two feedings of formula overnight).
MyBoy drank a total of 28 3/4 oz and MyGirl ate 26 1/2 oz.
And I pumped 26 ounces.
It doesn't take an advanced degree to do this math. I make enough milk to feed one baby, not two. I know that pumping doesn't produce quite as much as nursing does, but when you've got one week sucker, I bet it all evens out.
My conversation with the nurse practitioner/lactation consultant was uninspiring, to say the least. I was hoping for some "You can do this!" kind of encouragement, but none came through. She pretty much said that they were right on track for the amount they were needing to eat, but yep, it appears that I'm not making much milk. And what would I like to do, I ask.
I told her that I want this to work, I want to stick it out for at least another month. So she told me to go ahead and call my OB for a prescription for Reglan, and to basically cross my fingers.
So, I'll start the Reglan tonight, and see if it helps produce more milk, which I hope will in turn help the babies feed more regularly and continuously, thereby helping them to sleep more than one hour at a time. Or am I asking too much?
I'm going to think about my other option:
- Pump exclusively and bottle feed both. It's hard work, I know, but I'm so uneasy not knowing if they are getting enough nourishment.
- Pumping just for MyGirl, and continuing to nurse MyBoy.
- Keep going with this will-they-or-won't -they-eat nursing thing, and supplement with bottles when necessary.
- Quit altogether and go to formula.
I'm so lost, I really don't know what to do, and I know there is no magic answer. A lot of this is a control thing with me ... I felt like breastfeeding is the one part of this conception/pregnancy/birth/childraising that I can control. And I'm learning that I can't.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I load up my cell phone, a few dollars, a granola bar and a yogurt drink. We've taken to heading about ten blocks down to the market, where I pick up a cup of coffee and a bottle of water. On the way to the market, I pass a cute, independent coffee shop/internet cafe, which I would prefer to pop into, but the steps leading up to the one narrow, heavy wood door preclude my entrance with a double stroller. A few blocks later, I peek into the under-construction Starbuc*s, and delightfully notice that the entrance has one wide, pull out door with no stairs and a slight ramp up into the shop.
While I'm all about supporting the local businesses, having been a local retail business owner myself, I do love me some Starbuc*s, and look forward to parking myself in there on Wednesday mornings when our city free weekly is published. It always makes for interesting reading over a decaf skim latte.
My walking route has changed drastically since the pre-babies days. I choose streets carefully, based on whether they have the ramps down the sidewalks, as opposed to straight curb-into-street. Otherwise, each block intersection requires a slick move where I run around to the front of my stroller, pick it up and plop the front wheels in the street, return to the back, push it across the street, and repeat the move to get it back up onto the sidewalk.
I also choose streets based on the condition of the sidewalk. Many of the streets in our Victorian-era neighborhood are brick, and have shifted much over the years. Those streets are out. Some blocks and streets have concrete sidewalks that have shifted so much due to tree roots that they are almost impossible with a stroller. Unless you have a rugged-wheeled jogger, which I do not, since I don't jog and make no pretentiousness that I do!!
We probably went around two miles this morning. As we began, just before 8:00 a.m., the neighborhood was quiet. We passed dog walkers, a few older women running, and lots of construction workers getting their days started. As we neared home, we encountered more business people and leisurely walkers. Buses and sirens filled the main street where we live, and the noise increased. We pulled up to the house, gathered the unread newspapers that have been piling up on the porch, and sat for a few, savoring the emerging morning.
This is my life. It's different, but good different.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
While I'm on the subject, let me address the stroller issue. It's a hot topic among moms-to-be and moms. A stroller becomes such a personal choice... everyone has an opinion and a preference. For some, it's a functional, necessary item; to others, it's an in-your-face status symbol.
Since before I was pregnant, I've always despised the double-wide strollers, mostly because I would see mothers struggle endlessly trying to maneuver them into my boutique. I harrumphed as I was stuck behind them on a crowded street, deeming the parent driving a selfish space-taker-upper (not outloud of course).
So when I discovered I had twins coming, I knew that the double-wide just wouldn't work for me. Plus, I wanted a stroller that would take carseats, and would last us once the kids got bigger. After much research and comparison, I decided on this one:
Excited about the many fun things it does, I ordered it and it didn't arrive till well after the babies were here, which was fine since they were still in the hospital. We've used it a few times, with the seats in full recline mode. It's a monster ... it has a freaking steering wheel for god's sake!!
In addition, a friend offered up her sister's Snap N Go Double, which has proven quite handy. I keep it in the back of my car, and use it a lot for out-and-about trips.
A few weeks ago, Peg Perego called to ask, oh-so-innocently, if we'd been having any trouble with our big stroller. Noooooooo... I replied...Might I be expecting some?? Apparently there is an issue with the front wheels. Ummm, they keep falling off. Nice.
We opted to return the stroller to Peg Perego so that they could replace the wheels with the new ones they are currently fabricating. And in the meantime, for our troubles, they sent us this one as a fill-in.
I, who said I'd never drive a double-wide stroller, have quite enjoyed it on the few outings we've taken. The babes are still a bit small for it, and are much more combo in their carseats, but I can see how it will be handy. But I promise, I swear, that I will be a responsible driver, never hogging more than my share of the sidewalk, never knocking over store displays, and never making it a hindrance to others. But wow, it is kind of fun. You didn't hear it from me.
A friend with twins once warned me that I would become a stoller connoisseur. I thought, no...I'll just have my one handy-dandy tandem that'll get me around just fine. Look at me now, it's like I've hit the stroller jackpot! The babies are just three months, and I am three strollers into it. Truth be told, I'm contemplating the addition of a single umbrella stroller (small and cheap!), so that I can sling/Bjorn one baby and push the other, which would be so much easier for shopping, etc. Hmmm.....
Monday, July 24, 2006
I started nursing the twins when they were about three weeks (I'll have to check the diary/log I kept in the NICU). The neonatologists weren't very interested in me nursing them, as they were more concerned with tracking the babies' intake by bottle. They didn't discourage it for the future, and meetings with the lactation consultants helped me to keep motivated with the monotonous pumping. But the NICU nurses, oh those sneaky nurses, were so encouraging.
We started doing kangaroo care at about two (?) weeks, and around three weeks, one of the nurses said, "While you're back there, why don't you just give it a try. We won't tell." So that's how we started, and progressed over the next few weeks to one or two scheduled breastfeeds, per baby, per day.
Each was challenging, as the babies had to learn the complicated routine of breathe, suck, swallow, and do this continuously. I vacillated back and forth on a daily basis about who was getting the hang of it best. One day I'd be convinced the MyGirl was the nursing champ, and the next day, she'd have forgotten how, and MyBoy would be sucking away. I never got to nurse them together in the NICU, and I wish it's something I'd insisted on.
But we got the hang of it when they came home at 5 1/2 weeks. I started feeding them separately, but soon after realized the time saving benefits of tandem nursing, so jumped right into that. I was overwhelmed, but knowing that I had two formula feedings per day gave me just enough respite to keep going. I continued pumping, usually five to eight times a day, including two times at night.
MyBoy does a very college-boy-like move, where he opens his mouth and shakes it back and forth in front of my boobs. If he could, he'd make a noise like "Bwwwwhhhhhhwwwhhhh!!" He's always been what they call a "vigorous" feeder, and I've been able to depend on him to get the job done.
MyGirl, on the other hand, is more timid? She was slow to gain weight, and so with the help of the nurse practitioner/lactation consultant at the pediatrian's office, we've been trying to decipher what her problem is. We've come up with the following answers. Of course, it's all a crapshoot, as she can't talk to tell us what's wrong:
- Acid Reflux - She cries often during and after her feedings, and is a prodigious spitter-upper. She's been on Zanta*c for the past few weeks, and it's been no better. Today we have a new course of treatment ...
- Inability to deal with strong letdown - My left side produces twice as much as my right, and it seemed, for a while, that she was overwhelmed by the strong flow from the left side. But she figured it out, and seems to cope fine. Except ...
- Quitting after 7-10 minutes - From this clue, we think perhaps she likes the strong letdown, and doesn't want to deal with the work required to get the rest of the milk out.
We've been supplementing her with a 2 oz bottle after two feeds a day, and juggling the two babies nursing, post-nursing bottles, and pumping. And in the past two weeks or so, I feel my supply diminishing. My pumpings are less, and both babies are eating less vigorously.
At our doctor's appointment today, MyBoy weighed in at 8 lb 14 oz, which is great! MyGirl tipped the scales at 7 lb 8 oz, which is just okay, not keeping up with the 1/2 to 1 oz. per day gain that they want to see.
The nurse practitioner/lactation consultant we've been working with doesn't seem too concerned, but I just know that something isn't right. So here's the plan for now:
- Tomorrow I will do all bottle feedings, and pump at the same times in order to determine my true yield, and if it's keeping up with the babies needs. I suspect it is not.
- I will call the nurse practitioner/lactation consultant Wednesday with the results. We discussed a prescription for Reglan, which has the side effect of increased production. If she thinks it's needed, I can ask my OB for a prescription. I may do it anyway.
- I've been drinking the MothersMilk tea, which is supposed to promote milk production. I don't notice a difference, but I'll keep at it.
- I bought a bottle of fenugreek (an herbal supplement, also supposed to increase production) today, and will give it a go.
Grrrrrrrr... this is so freaking frustrating. I'm ready to throw in the towel, but I just don't feel like I've given it quite enough effort.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I've had so many thoughts running through my mind this past week ... here's the roundup:
Sometimes My Boy sounds like a goat. Sometimes he sounds like a screaming baby. But when the wails get to a level unrecognizable by the human ear, the sound/word his noises most resemble is "UNAGI!!!!!"
Uuuuuuuuuuuunnnaaagiiiiiiiiii!! Just try it. Say it outloud. Say it with force. Yep, that's the noise my baby makes. "UNAGI, Mommy!! Unagi!!!"
Let alone that Unagi is Japanese eel, and I'm not really a sushi fan. But UNAGI is the battle cry of My Boy.
And when times get tough, and he's screeching away with tears rolling down his cheeks, alternately tearing on my last nerve and endearing him to me forever, I look down at his gorgeous mouth and bright blue eyes and whisper softly, "Unagi, baby. That's right. Unagi."
I like to sing. IÂm fairly certain that IÂm not so stellar, but I enjoy it nonetheless. So IÂve enjoyed singing to the babes, some nursery rhymes, some hymns, some radio songs, sometimes ridiculous stuff I make up. When I sought out the lyrics to lullabys I thought I knew, I was so freaking surprised when I came across this. I thought it was a sweet little ditty, but not so. I'm feeling a bit creepy singing it!
So many onsies, so many cute sayings. What you come to realize is that those sweet phrases are not there to tell the rest of the world how cute and wonderful your baby is.
They're printed there so that when your baby or babies are screaming, puking and pooping all over you and all you want to do is throw your head back and scream, you'll look down at them and say,
"You know what, you really are Cute as a Button. "
"Yes, I really do Love You Love You Love You."
"True, when you spit up all over my freshly changed shirt, you are Kissable."
"Oh sweet baby, I know that you don't mean to drive me to destruction. I Love Mommy, too. Thank you."
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
I whip her out and pour fresh water all over her, quickly wrapping her up in a clean diaper and towel. I was so disappointed that the bath was cut short ... I was hoping it would calm her into lala land. And then I saw it .. the baby massage oil. Just a small bottle, part of a gift set given to us by a friend. And I thought "What girl doesn't like a good rubdown to ease off into sleepytime?" I know that everytime I get a massage I wake up refreshed in pile of my own drool.
Wow. She loooooooved it. I mean Big Time-all the milk you can drink-fresh diaper-cuddled on-daddy's-chest-kind of loved it. I started rubbing her belly, and then down her arms, down her legs, the palms of her hands and the soles of her feet. My personal favorite massage move is having my toes rubbed and squeezed, so I gave her a go at it, and she proved to be a momma's girl .
Her eyes kind of opened wide, surprised at such good sensations so soon after such angry ones. She wiggled round, but not in a fussy manner, in more of an "Oooh yea, right...there" manner. She smiled real smiles (I'm convinced it wasn't the gassy smile I'm accustomed to) and her glossy pink skin moved smoothly under my fingers and hands.
How nice to give her something that has such obviously pleasurable results. That was the reminder I needed as to why this is all worth it.
Monday, July 10, 2006
I reached a new low in bargaining with my husband today. Sexual bribery for childcare. If you don’t want to read about the world of post-baby sex, turn back now.
Let’s set the scene … it’s a lovely Monday morning at my home. Luckily, J works from home, so when an emergency or other calamity occurs, he’s just a scream away. I’ve fed the babies, and have given My Girl a nice calming bath that she really enjoyed. One clean baby down, one to go. I’m undressing My Boy, and have just cleaned his bum and put away the dirty diaper. Last time I bathed him, he pooped in the tub, so this time, I took preventative action: a good talking to.
As we walked to the tub, ready to go and full of sudsy water, I asked My Boy if he would kindly refrain from pooping in the pool, that we’d already had such a nice morning, and let’s keep it that way. We sit down on the toilet, just next to the tub, with My Boy on my lap as we prepare to dive in. And then it happens.
He did obey my instructions and decided to go ahead and get the poop done before bathing. So he pooped in my lap.
I shriek in horror, at the drippy, seedy mess that’s all over my blue sweatpants and slowly leaking towards my clean bathroom floor. Luckily, J is just one room over, and he comes to my rescue and takes the little pipsqueak from me, so I can get myself out of the nasty pants.
Which brings me to the beginning of my shameful saga. I can’t bear to put off the bath, being that the water is ready and My Boy is most definelety in need of some additional cleansing. So I just pull off my pants, wash my hands, and run down the hall to pop them in the washer. I go ahead and give My Boy a rubdown, making sure to clean the poop out of the creases where it has embedded itself. I wrap him up in his sweet blue hooded towel, and take him out to visit Daddy.
While I’m overwhelmed by the absolute sweetness of this newly clean little being, Daddy is clearly fascinated by half-naked Mommy, freshly splashed with water and poop.
It’s obvious where his mind is, and he makes it known to me. To which I quickly reply, without even thinking about it, “Fine. But only, only if you’ll take them so I can take a shower afterwards.”
And it was a great shower. I took my time. Then I did my makeup (when's the last time that happened?), blew my hair dry, picked out clothes. Took my sweet time, I did.
* * * * * *
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever bargained for with sex? C’mon, you know you've done it, too..
Friday, July 07, 2006
I did, and do, a lot of mine in church. When we're supposed to be saying the confession, when the lectors are reading the prayers of the people, right after taking communion. These are the times I would take to ask "why?" "why me?" and "why not me?"
Equally as much time was spent angushing in the bookstore. I was lead there for information, for the latest and greatest book on pregnancy, infertility, IVF, that didn't already grace my overflowing bookshelves. I'd stand there and stare at the stacks of books, zoned off into my own world, trying to figure it all out. Ditto for the baby store. I'd go and wander the aisles aimlessly, subjecting myself to the intentional hurt of just being there.
This sounds like a beautiful place, a place I might have gone. A place I might have spent time alone with my thoughts. A place for the hopeful and the hopeless, equally.
* * * * * * * * * *
Wednesday and yesterday were just bad days, period. Frustration with a baby that doesn't want to nurse, a husband who seems no problem with just "popping in a bottle," and an overwhelming sense of being trapped in a life I didn't quite expect.
While it was completly honest and true, I hope that my last post wasn't full of ungratefulness and whining. It's just the way it is ... I hate that I have these feelings, but they are mine, and they are real.
* * * * * * * * * *
Today, on the other hand, has been a great day. Nursing is a little bit better. I'm looking forward to a doctor's appointment/lactation consultation on Monday and getting some instruction and advice. We've taken walks for the past two days, which has been great, I actually ate breakfast today, and my oldest and dearest friend came to see the babies for the first time today. She was a visitor who brought with her no pressure and expectations, butt did bring two very cute baby outfits, lots of happy thoughts and news, and the ability to let me take a 30 minute catnap.
* * * * * * * * * *
Another happy thought: My babies are so gaseous that they fart themselves awake. And it scares them. They awake with a start, like "What just happened?" And I find it hilarious. Unfortunately, they probably find it terrifying. Hee hee hee.
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Sleep deprived, frustrated with breastfeeding gone awry, and sadly surprised at the lack of time left for myself, I sometimes feel angry at my babies. I'm angry, perhaps, just at the situation. I'm angry that I am so wholey consumed by their eating, breathing and pooping for 23 hours a day. I shouldn't be surprised, everyone with twins said how completly overwhelming it is. But I thought mine would be different, that I would handle them better.
And I stop to think, who am I to complain? I asked for this. More than that, I toiled, I paid (with both my heart and my checkbook), I asked, I begged, I prayed, I hired intervention, I subverted nature, to have these children. Who the hell am I to complain that this is hard? Poor me. But I still complain, both aloud and in my head. Over and over. And I'm waiting for the good times.
Who the hell am I to complain? Who the hell am I to complain? I have to repeat this over and over in my head and remind myself. I am so lucky.
I am still hung up on such anger over so many issues, and I don't even know that I can get over them. Past them, hopefully.
I continually obsess about all the things that have gone wrong (not my way), when I need to affect the "poor me" act, either to my husband, family, or to myself.
I didn't get to conceive my children the way I wanted. No romatic night, no accidental Oops. But lucky me, I did get pregnant on the first IVF.
I didn't get to enjoy my pregnancy the way I wanted. I loved being pregnant, and I resent the hell out of the fact that I missed out on nine weeks of it, and that the last month was spent in and out of the hospital at on my back. But didn't I enjoy the time I was pregnant? Didn't I embrace it as best I could?
I didn't get to give birth how I wanted. I knew a vaginal birth was a longshot, but the sudden shock of the very quick labor and birth surprised me. It's just been recently that I've been dealing with the emotional aftershocks of the c-section. I really, really wanted that experience, something to "bond" me with the world of "motherhood," a shared experience. Just as I regret having a few too many glasses of champagne at my wedding and having some splotchy memories, I regret agreeing to take the narcotic shots to "take the edge off." My memory of the labor and birth are fuzzy. But on the flip side, I did get to labor through to 10 cm...I did get part of the experience.
I didn't get the "baby-coming-home" experience I hoped for, complete with cute outfits, smiling faces, and my mother waiting at home to pamper me and bring the babies to me in bed for feedings and cuddlings. I got five weeks straight of daily sojurns to the NICU, chatting with nurses instead of friends and family, hours logged in the hospital's lactation room. I got an uncomfortable chair between my two babies isolettes, where I crocheted caps and wrote thank you letters. I got to hold syringes full of formula above their heads as it dripped through their noses into their underdeveloped bellies. I got hands through isolette holes, only allowed to cup their heads and bottoms. I got very occasional visits from family, because I didn't want to leave my babies' sides and didn't want to share them with anyone. But lucky me, they did come home. They are healthy. Their paid their dues, just as I paid mine.
So who the hell am I to complain? I still feel like I deserve that right to complain, but I feel like shit about it. I need to get over, get past, get moving.
I am so lucky. I am so fortunate. I have two babies depending on me for everything that sustains them. Everything.
Who would have thought?