Saturday, October 27, 2012

First day on my own with twins...sort of

Today I was on my own for the day with the girls for the first time.  Although I wasn’t on my own entirely, because I took them over to my mom’s for a couple of hours in the afternoon.  The day actually went really well, although I was so tired by early evening that I once again felt like my nervous system was seizing up.  I really totally forgot how truly horrible sleep deprivation is…

Getting to my mom’s went smoother than I’d thought.  I was pretty efficient in packing up all I needed to take for the outing, and got the girls sorted in record time.  Luckily my parents live so close by, so it’s not a far drive in case one or both babies decides to cry.  They’re mostly quiet in the car, the motion seems to put them to sleep, but I also used pacifiers to help out…Which isn’t something I’d do habitually in the sense that I will NOT have them be older babies and still sucking on a soother (it’s a pet peeve you could say) but at this stage, sometimes you have to look at it as ‘whatever works’!!

It’s going to be so challenging when I’m on my own with all 3 kids though.  Last night’s sleep was horrendous – I got under 2 hours total and James got 5 hours BUT was up from 2am on, and that doesn’t work well for him then putting in a full day’s work.  I was able to go back to sleep at 7:30am with the girls and we didn’t wake up till 9:30, so I at least got that added rest, but if Andrew had been home I wouldn’t have had that luxury.  We’re still working out the kinks in terms of everyone getting enough rest…

One great thing is that the swelling in my feet is FINALLY gone.  I don’t think I mentioned it before, but with all the fluids/drugs I was pumped with during my delivery and afterwards, I ended up with terribly swollen feet a day or so later, and it got worse and worse before getting better.  I’d read it was a side effect so I wasn’t entirely surprised it happened, but it was so uncomfortable!  I’d never had swelling in my pregnancies so I’d never experienced swollen feet before.  Ugh!  So glad I didn’t have to deal with that during the pregnancy too.  I’m finally feeling back to normal and have my ankles back!!

Time to put Margaret, who was on a feeding FRENZY tonight, into the bassinet with her sister (who’s starting to make noise like SHE wants more food…go figure…) and get ready for bed before their next milk drinking competition begins!  I have to do everything quickly while I think I might have a moment to do it.  This morning I needed to go to the bathroom and desperately wanted to brush my teeth/put my contacts in…it was a good 2 hours after getting up before I was able to do any of those things!  I did manage to do it all and then some, but I have to get used to what a production it all is!  Never a dull moment around here these days =)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's a little overwhelming...

Overwhelmed would be an understatement to how I’m feeling at the moment.  I’m so happy the girls are here and I’m absolutely head over heels in love with both of them.  But I can’t stop crying!  I know it’s that stage of the game where the hormones are trying to level out and I expected this to happen.  It hasn’t been extreme or anything, for the most part I’ll just have a little ‘moment’ that lasts 5 minutes or so where I cry and feel overwhelmed and then it passes.  But tonight I just can’t seem to stop crying.

I think the fact that James is going back to work tomorrow is the main cause.  I feel like it’s too soon to be left on my own.  Andrew is going to his Nana’s tomorrow so it’ll be an ‘easier’ transition of me with just the girls for the day – and I’m REALLY hoping that I’m able to sleep when they sleep at least a couple of times throughout the day so I might not be a complete zombie by evening.  But who am I kidding, I AM a complete zombie ALL THE TIME now.  I totally forgot how seriously painful the sleep deprivation is!  It’s killer.  I thought I was used to not getting much rest given how crazy uncomfortable the double pregnancy was, but now…I get so tired that I swear I can actually FEEL my nervous system beginning to shut down.  I’m not even kidding!  Earlier tonight I had to go lay down while James took over because I didn’t think I’d survive through the rest of the night otherwise, and it wasn’t an exaggeration.  If I wasn’t so freaking tired I might be able to think more clearly.

I’m mostly happy.  I may not have planned on twins, but I LOVE LOVE LOOOOVE them both SO much, they are both the sweetest baby girls ever and I couldn’t be happier to have them here.  And I’m so happy they have Andrew for their big brother – even if he has become much whinier in rebellion lately for the lack of attention he’s been getting compared to what he was used to…he’s very good with them, so sweet, and I love all my kids to bits.  BUT…I’m overwhelmed at the thought of being left alone with all 3 from 7:30 in the morning till 6:30 in the evening.  And rightfully so, right??  As much as James has loved being home with us, I can well imagine that he’s thinking what a ‘break’ it’s going to be to go back to work.  He can sleep on the 45 minute bus ride to and from work if he wants to, and he can sip a coffee, eat lunch in peace, he sits at his desk and listens to music while he works.  He’s going to be tired, there’s no doubt about it, because I can’t take every shift with the girls – twins is double duty and it’s not like it was when we had Andrew where I pretty much dealt with him through the night entirely on my own from the get go.  I was able to nurse him in bed so I could still rest, for example, whereas the twins are too small and I’d worry about them in the bed with us at this stage, not to mention I can’t nurse two babies while lying in bed anyway!  But still, his days are going to be way more relaxed than mine.  I’m worried about this transition, it’s happening too fast, I’m hormonal and totally not ready!!!

Time is so hard to find these days.  I don’t have much more than a few minutes usually to do anything but mom duty.  I should probably be sleeping now instead of writing, but I’m waiting till the girls’ next feed and then I’ll go to bed, because they’re due fairly shortly.  I also NEED this time once in a while in order to not go completely crazy, because it’s not healthy to feel like I’m not getting a free moment EVER.  I know it’s early days and I have to allow myself time to adjust to being a mommy of 3 when I was mommy to ONE for nearly 4 years.  It’s a big life change, and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.  Everyone keeps telling me how I’m doing such an amazing job and don’t LOOK like I’m lacking in the sleep department, and that it appears I’m just taking this all in stride and GO ELIZABETH!  I appreciate the praise, I really do, and a lot of the time I think I AM taking it in stride.  I had a long time to ‘prepare’ for this (not that one can EVER prepare for a baby, let alone BABIES…), I wanted this more than anything – after losing the baby last fall, to now hold twins in my arms is an absolutely incredible feeling.  I feel SO lucky.  I’m also the type of person who looks at it that you have to just take on whatever is put in front of you, and these are the cards I was dealt, so why wouldn’t I do my best to take it all in stride?  It’s just that then I have these moments where I’m like, what the hell have I gotten myself into?!  This is going to be insane!  My life is changed forever!  I’m going to be crazy busy and lacking sleep FOR YEARS!  I don’t regret this one bit, but in moments it all just seems like so much to be taking on.

There are certain tedious tasks that I’m finding frustrating.  When I had Andrew, I nursed him for what felt like 24/7, but it didn’t matter if I was glued to the couch with him latched on for hours on end because he was the only one I had.  With the girls…I have Andrew bugging as soon as I latch them on that he’s hungry or thirsty or wants to play a game or have a different show on etc, etc…I know he’s just wanting my attention and is getting used to the changes around here, I don’t begrudge him that, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t annoy me.  And then I’ve got the girls, one latching well, the other not so much, or both of them grimacing at the nipple shields but still not being able to latch onto my actual nipples (and at this point I’m even scared to try…maybe tomorrow I’ll give it another shot).  They’re so tiny (under 6lbs each) so breast feeding is just CHALLENGING, and oh yeah, the fact that there’s TWO OF THEM.  Yes, I have 2 breasts, but…it’s just not the same latching 2 babies as it is bonding with just one.  Or at least that’s how I’m feeling about it at this stage.  I know we’re only 12 days in tomorrow, so I need to give it more time and not give up.  But it’s definitely not easy, and it makes me sad (read: CRY) to say that I’m not enjoying breast feeding the girls the way I did with Andrew.  It was just so much less complicated.  I know various factors are making it more challenging this time around, but I just feel sad that it is this way. 

I have a strong milk supply at least, but it’s SO time consuming pumping so often.  I’m pumping every 3 hours if I don’t nurse as well, but if I’m breast feeding it’s not much longer between pumping sessions, truthfully.  I can pump usually 4 ounces on one side and about 3 on the other within 5-10 minutes.  From what I’ve been told that’s pretty darn good, especially this early on.  I guess I’m not overly concerned about my ability to produce the milk, it’s just so time consuming all the pumping I have to do, on top of the tandem feeding, and then after I pump I have to immediately sterilize all the parts for the pump and bottles that are dirty, because I’ll need them for the next pumping session, and if I experience let-down I need to be able to pump NOW, I can’t sterilize then or it’s sort of too late and I’m leaking everywhere instead!  James bought us a great sterilizer (for nearly $100, but I swear it has already more than paid for itself, that’s how often I use it!) and it saves A LOT of time not having to boil water on the stove.  But it’s just a tedious task!  With Andrew I had a hand-held pump but I only used it when we were going out without him or I was visiting my parents and wanted to nap so they could feed him for me.  It wasn’t so much of a production ALL DAY AND NIGHT the way it is with the twins.  But it’s just the way it is – and I know I need to do it to keep my supply up so I can feed two babies.  And I WANT to do that, I prefer it over formula since it’s free and the best source of nutrition I can give them.  It’s definitely important to me to feed them breast milk since I am able to produce it.  I guess I’m just finding it frustrating that it’s not as simple as just latching them on, letting them feed, and that’s that.  Even just to go over to my mom’s for a visit, I have to pack the pump – I didn’t think to the other day and James had to go home and get it for me and bring it to me, because I can’t go many hours without it.  I don’t like that!

Over all I know these are minor issues, and I’ll get used to all of it, and it’s all so worth it to have my little girls here.  They really are SO sweet.  James dad and partner were over yesterday for a visit, and today my uncle and grandma came over to meet them.  Everyone is just smitten with them, they are just so sweet and adorable.  And good natured!  I know this might change, but so far they are fairly quiet babies.  They cry when they’re ready for their next feed, but they’re not overly noisy about it, same with during their diaper changes.  So far they’ve never just cried for the sake of crying.  They’re also becoming much more alert since yesterday.  They still sleep A LOT, and today we put them down for tummy time but they fell asleep during that, too!  But they are definitely opening their eyes more, and wider, and taking things in.

About the tummy time, it was quite interesting…We placed them head to head on the tummy time blanket.  When they started out, they both had their arms up by their faces.  We didn’t even notice till a little later, but they had both kept one arm up, and put the other arm down by their sides, and it was the exact same one for both of them, so basically if we placed them next to each other they’d have been doing the exact same thing.  Coincidence, or a twin thing – who knows for sure, but I’m going with twin thing!!

I know the sleep deprivation plays with my head a bit and makes me feel like I can’t do this, when ultimately I know that I CAN do this, and I WILL do this.  It’s just hard.  And I know that’s OK, because no one said it was going to be easy!  I’ll manage, and I’ll do the very best that I can.  I just needed to vent a bit about some of the things that seem difficult right now.  It’s an adjustment for sure, but definitely worth it for all the sweet cuddles I’ve been getting!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Life with twins...

I’m writing this with 2 babies cuddled up on my chest.  I have a ‘my brest friend’ pillow and it not only helps to support babies, but also works as a place to hold my laptop!  Not something I can do when they’re latched to the breasts, but when they’re curled up in their fetal positions sleeping close to me, it works.

Breast feeding is starting to improve.  It’s still challenging with two at once, but they’re latching better (with the nipple shields still, although I hope to stop using them within a week or so).  I’ve been tandem nursing a lot more and it’s going really well.  Emily still has a weaker latch than Margaret but she eventually gets on.  I’m also able to pump quite a lot from each side and actually have quite a supply in the fridge that we might even start freezing, so it’s a good sign in terms of what I’m able to produce.

It’s the EXHAUSTION that is the biggest challenge of all.  It’s INSANE how tiring this all is.  They sleep a lot but of course not for any real length of time, and I have to either breast feed or pump every 3 hours, sometimes both, so that alone takes it’s toll on me.  I have to wolf food down when I get a chance because there just isn’t much time to refuel myself with looking after everyone else.  Of course James is a huge help and has been doing so much for me and has so much patience about it all, but he’ll be back to work next week and I’m getting REALLY overwhelmed thinking about what that’s going to mean for me.  I don’t know how I could be any more tired than I am now without dying so it freaks me out to think I really WILL be more tired soon.

Today we all ventured out to the grocery store and did a shop.  The girls slept through the entire thing!  We got a lot of attention with having the twins with us.  So many people ask ‘Are they twins?’  Ummm, no, they’re just two tiny babies that look similar and have matching outfits on.  Coincidence only!  LOL  OR they ask, ‘Is it two girls?’  Meanwhile they both have bright pink hats on and girly blankets.  People mean well, and I’m not upset that they think our babies are cute, but some of the things people say are a bit ridiculous!

Margaret and Emily had tummy time a little while ago.  Emily seemed pretty chill about it, just laid there looking around.  Margaret flailed her legs back and cried, I don’t think she was too impressed!  But they’ll get the hang of it.

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of just staring at them and their adorableness, and the ways they cuddle up to each other.  I didn’t know quite how precious twins could be together till I had mine!  It’s the sweetest thing ever watching them cuddle.  And Andrew is so good with them, he held each of them separately after their tummy time and was so thrilled to be able to do that.  He’s even better with them than I had imagined he’d be.

Oh and they had their first doctor’s appointment yesterday and have both nearly got back to their birth weights so they’re right on track!  The doctor seemed very impressed with how they’re thriving and said that based on being twins and being premature, there should have been more issues than there were but they are SO healthy, and a better weight than twins usually would be born at 36 weeks.  So I felt really good about that.  They’re absolutely perfect, what can I say?!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

First week with twins

There are not enough hours in the day, especially when you have twin babies!!  But I’m loving it.  The girls are so sweet, I just stare at them constantly and I’m loving all the cuddles.  Andrew has had his moments of feeling frustrated (yesterday he was being SO good then all of a sudden started acting up and said, ‘I JUST WANT ATTENTION!’ lol) but for the most part he has been amazing, and he is SO gentle and loving toward his sisters.  Yesterday I did a photoshoot with him and the girls – he wore his ‘Best Big Bro’ shirt and they had on ‘Little Sister’ onesies.  He didn’t want to stop holding them once I’d taken the pictures, and then he helped me feed them (bottled breast milk).  He did really well holding the bottle to the baby’s mouth, I was actually surprised at how well he did given it was his first time.

Basically at this stage the girls sleep for about 3 hour stretches, then feed.  Lots of poops and pees.  And repeat!  They’re alert at times, Margaret a little more so than Emily, but most of the time they’re sleeping or eating.  Yet somehow I am a total zombie already.  Exhausted beyond exhaustion.  I’m not surprised, but it’s a fact: twins truly are double duty.  Add an almost 4 year old who’s accustomed to being largely catered to, and wow…it’s busy around here these days!

The girls will be one week old tomorrow, which is crazy in some ways that a week has gone by, but in other ways I wonder how they were ever NOT here.  The fact that a week ago today I hadn’t met them yet is incomprehensible to me.  They are such a part of our family already, I can’t imagine it any other way!  I’m so glad they decided to make their appearances early =)

I’m not sure yet of what their little personalities are or will be, but I’m trying to decide if they’re similar to how I imagined they’d be, based on how they were in the womb.  I thought Margaret (Baby A) was the more feisty one on the inside, because she was always rolling around (and it’s so cute now to see those little knobby knees of hers, and the bum that were constantly rolling out at the top of my belly!)  On the outside, like I said she’s a little more alert, looking around at things for longer stretches usually than her ‘little sister by 6 minutes’ Emily.  But she’s also a little smaller than Emily (only by a few ounces, but you can see it in her face, she’s not as chubby in the cheeks for example) and has more delicate features.  She seems more babyish than Emily to me, which is hard to really explain, it’s just how it seems.  Maybe it’s because she has some spit up issues and has trouble with burping at times, and makes this squeaky little noise.  She also has a squeakier cry, whereas Emily has the oooh-la cry down pat!  They both sound so sweet when they cry.  While I was in labour a baby was born and taken to the assessment room right beside the room I was in, and its cry sounded like a cat that was in a really bad fight.  It made me worry that our babies would have annoying voices, but I LOVE their little sounds!  I’m sure the mother of the baby who sounded like a cat to me loves the sound of her baby, too – LOL, but I’m just saying, our girls are adorable in every way possible!

We’re trying to come up with a routine or system that works for us, but it’s going to be a major challenge when James goes back to work.  He’s going to go in 2 days next week so he can extend the short amount of holiday days he had into the following week, and on those 2 days Andrew most likely will go to his nana’s for the day so it’s just me and the babies for the initial transition.  But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed by the idea of being alone all day with the two babies, let alone all 3 kids.  I know I’ll be able to do it but it’s going to be HARD.  Especially given the sleep issues.  Last night I got 2 hours but not all in a row, and then did a whole bunch of chores that were piling up in the morning, and by early afternoon I felt like I just might slip into a coma, I was so tired!  My mom and my cousin-in-law came over for a visit and told me to go nap so I did, and while I still feel like a zombie, it was good to get an hour and a half sleep today!

Breastfeeding is proving to be a challenge with twins.  It has been overwhelming me a little bit, but only in the past few days.  While we were in the hospital I had nurses coming in to say they were SO impressed that I was tandem feeding and had taught myself how to do it (I don’t tend to like asking for help so I just went ahead and did it, and lo and behold the girls latched on and all was going well!)  But then my milk came in a few days ago, and my nipples grew to the size of…I don’t know what, but they’re HUGE – as in, many women’s entire breasts are probably half the size of my nipples alone!  Sorry for the mental image.  But yeah…the engorgement became so ridiculous – painful and impossible to do anything with.  It got to the point where the babies couldn’t latch because my nipples weren’t conducive to little tiny preemie mouths.  The community health nurse was here on Thursday and she helped me with tips on how to get them latched, and suggested getting a nipple shield (which has proven effective with Margaret, but Emily has become so lazy with her latch and only takes to a bottle).  My left breast was so engorged it wouldn’t even pump a full ounce even though I know there’s an unlimited supply in there, and it was starting to get lumpy and SO sore, I felt like it weighed more than the babies did in utero a week ago!!  BUT today James went out and got me an attachment for the breast pump that seems to have done the trick, and I’m able to pump more out, and with the nipple shield Margaret can latch to the breast and help empty it out, so it’s not as engorged now.  Definitely my milk is still working on regulating itself, and it’s still going to take a while, but at least my milk supply is there and I’m working on keeping it up with pumping regularly.  It’s exhausting though, it takes a lot out of me – literally, haha, but seriously, it just wipes me out because I’m pumping every few hours to get the supply up that I’ll need for feeding two.  My goal is to tandem feed because nursing or pumping and bottle feeding separately takes double time, so literally it takes 2 hours to change each baby and feed and burp them and get them back to sleep.  They have to feed AT LEAST every 3 hours at this stage, so that’s A LOT of time spent when ultimately it would be half that time if I was able to tandem nurse.  It’s still my goal to get there, and I know we’re only a few days in so I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but there have been some tears over the whole thing.  (Thanks to the hormones shifting!  I’ve had my moments the past few days where I just started crying out of nowhere…But for the most part it really hasn’t been too bad.  Maybe the worst has yet to come, because I was told in the hospital that when you have twins for some reason the depression feelings sometimes take a few days longer to kick in and then when they do they’re worse than with a singleton…but so far it’s about the same as what I went through with Andrew, and I have really amazing support, particularly from James, so I never feel as though I can’t talk about what’s in my head).

We’ve been supplementing with formula, which I didn’t want to do, but it was necessary during our hospital stay just to get their blood sugars up.  I was offered formula or donated breast milk and I chose formula.  We’ve since used samples and bought some ‘ready to feed’ formula, and occasionally we’ve given it to the babies in between breast milk feeds.  Mainly when my milk hadn’t quite established yet and the girls really needed the nourishment beyond just colostrum.  It’s not going to be a long term thing, especially since the formula isn’t fully vegetarian which of course kills a small part of me, but I know it’s what’s best for the babies given their tiny size (since babies lose weight in the beginning, they both went down to around 5lbs or a little less, so they’re really quite small).  Now that my milk is in full force, I’m working on a small stock of it in the fridge for when James feeds them (he has been SO awesome and doing sooooo much for me and the babies and Andrew, I don’t know how I’d do this without him!)   I feel better knowing I have milk there just in case they need it and I can’t nurse – especially right now given how challenging the actual nursing part is.  It was SO EASY with Andrew because he was such a big baby and latched on immediately and never stopped to take a breath, so this feels foreign to me, having latch issues and babies who want to just fall asleep after two sucks at the breast.  It’s challenging for sure, but we’re working on it.  Ultimately if I have to bottle feed pumped breast milk more often than I’d have liked, that’s really not so bad, I’m just happy that my milk supply is there and they’re getting my milk somehow.

A lot of this is probably TMI for people reading it, I just wanted to record what’s been happening for my own records!

The babies are just too cute for words.  So much more I want to write about but I have to deal with pictures too, and I only have so much time left before the next feed, so more later!

Oh, we went on our first little walk around our neighbourhood today!  Just around the block because I was a bit cold, but it felt SO GOOD to be outside as I hadn’t really got fresh air since a week ago.  The Graco Duoglider is proving to be an awesome stroller already, great maneuvering, and it felt amazing to be able to walk without waddling and getting short of breath.  My belly is still pretty big but has gone down significantly in the past few days.  I was told by the health nurse than a subsequent pregnancy = longer time for the body to readjust, and having twins means longer too, so I’ve got a double whammy of not getting my body back as soon as I would like!  But we’re only on day 6 so I feel pretty good over all. 

And now for some pictures of our little cuties!

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