Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Evolution of Bathtime

Evolution of Bathtime

Today the guys were splashing in the tub after less-than-graciously tolerating the business part of bathtime. They Were fighting over an empty shampoo bottle, turning faucets off and on, throwing toys over the edge, and splashing themselves and each other. On the towel rack above the tub still hung the bath sponge I used when they were tiny. I found myself on a trip down memory lane.

In the hospital, in the NICU, the guys bathed in the evening. I was only there for a couple of baths. We disconnected the guy from his wires and put him in one of those plastic hospital bins. You know those bins that you get when you have surgery - they contain a barf tub and a cup?  That's where we washed my babies. We lined the tub with towels to make it small enough, and kept the guys wrapped in warm cloths during the bath.

Once home, I couldn't attempt a bath with them both. I would wait until I had one awake and one asleep. I used the plastic tub a couple of times, then tried one of those bath sponges you put in the bottom of the bathtub. Finally, I just climbed in the bath with him, holding him on my lap while I washed him. The guys hated baths, but liked being held.

Later when they were almost sitting independently  I would bring both guys onto the bathroom, but would bathe them one at a time. I would put them each in a walker and let them roll around the room. They loved being in a generally unseen room and would bounce around. One at a time, I'd take them out of their walkers and bathe them, still in my lap. By now they were interested in the water and liked the bath. The problem was the process of taking one out of the bath, drying and diapering, and putting him in the walker generally made them unhappy. Plus, if while I was in the tub, the baby in the walker started to get into something, it was an extremely difficult and slippery maneuver to get us out of the tub.

Eventually I gained the confidence required to wash them both at once. The three of us would get into the tub together. I would hold one in my lap to wash him while the other started learning about splashing. H loved this arrangement. K hated it. Less confident in his sitting up skills, he kind of freaked out when it was H's turn to be washed to K had to abandon my lap. This period of time was full of many slips, banged heads, face first falls into water followed by sputtering, and the occasional difficulty getting up.

Now I tell the guys it's Bathtime. I don't think they know that word yet, but they follow me to the bathroom because they always follow me. I put them both in the tub, and I sit on the side of it with my feet in the water. The guys splash and play, and I try to get in there and wash them quickly without annoying them too much. Once they're rinsed, they fart around until someone slips or takes a toy from his brother and it stops being fun. Right now the hardest part is keeping everyone in a good mood while holding still for the drying and diapering. Then there's the issue of getting them OUT of my bathroom. Apparently that is the most interesting place in the world.

How things change!  I suppose this is news to nobody.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Help! Sleep etc.!

I know after being absent from blogging for so long, I have no right to ask for help.  I am, however, begging.

We have so many things going on, and I think they are all contributing to my lack of any real sleep.  I don't know which issue to address first, or what to do!

First off, we never sleep-trained.  We rock the guys to sleep.  This works well at night, when Hubby can help.  It used to work well at naptime, too.  I was really savvy at rocking two guys to sleep, then gently sliding off the chair with them in my arms, laying them down on the ground, then picking them up and putting them in their cribs one at a time.  This no longer works much of the time.  Now, I slide to the ground, gently lay down two guys, who wake up a little and fuss, but then doze back off.  I pick up one guy, head to the nursery, get three steps, and then WAIIIIIILLLLLLLLL from the guy left behind.  I try to hurry to get into the nursery and close the door before the babe in my arms wakes, but this only works about half the time.  Then, as I put the little man in his crib, he bounces back up, seemingly fully awake.  I rub his back and he dozes back off, UNLESS his brother has run down the hallway and is screaming outside the nursery door.  When this happens, or if I don't get him into the bedroom fast enough, I must start all over with the double rocking.

The other thing that is happening is that they are flat-out no longer sleeping through the night.  This means that often the aforementioned process is repeated at three a.m.  Why are they  not sleeping through the night?  Well . . .

They are teething.  Again.  Or, still.  Whichever.

We have taken them off of soy formula and put them on lactose free milk.  Is the milk too hard to digest compared to the formula?  Does the milk not leave them feeling as full all night?  Do they drink too much milk because it is not filling, leading to indigestion?  Are they not getting enough food now that they are not getting formula?  (I feed them as much as they want.  Should I be insistently power-feeding them?)  They both wake up every night now, at least once.  The books say to not go in their room, but okay, there are two of them and I'd rather not have them both wake at once (see above.)  Also, we just have never been rigid with them as far as sleep scheduling, and I don't know that suddenly being strict in the wee hours when they're distraught is a good plan.

Now, we are having K evaluated for 'disorders.'  He has total meltdowns, not like tantrums -- like he is in pain.  Usually it is after being around people, but lately he's doing it in the middle of the night.  He wakes terrified and is completely inconsolable for an hour or so.  What is that?  What's going on?  Is it the beginning signs of Autism?  Is it nightmares?  Is he just hungry, and I'm not getting it?

On top of everything, we have been given instructions to get the kiddos off the bottles.  We understand this is for the good of their teeth.  I have had some limited success doing water in the bottles occasionally, but the milk/formula bottles comfort them in a way nothing else does.  We don't do pacifiers.  They don't suck their thumbs.  When they are tired and fighting sleep, cranky from teething, or just don't want to sit still for bedtime, nothing beats a bottle.  It's really me that needs it more than them.  I am worried about their teeth, but don't know if this is the right time to tackle the bottle issue.

Help!  Any advice with any of the issues!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tonight's Sacrifices

I sacrificed eating dinner at a reasonable hour, opting to wait until the mini's went to bed.
I sacrificed using the surround sound while watching tv. (granted, we were watching Scrubs reruns, so that wasn't a huge sacrifice.
I sacrificed my Oreos.
Later, I sacrificed a cozy night in bed to get up and tend to two bellowing teething babies.
I sacrificed my lower back lifting them both at once.
I sacrificed my resolve to not give them night bottles.
I sacrificed my kids' livers to the god called Motrin.
I sacrificed my fingers by poking them into Razor sharp mouths with ztrong jaws in order to distribute the glory of god Orajel.
I sacrificed the cozy happiness of one child so I could put the other down in his crib.
I sacrificed my iPhone. Willingly and knowingly, I HANDEDit to the child that was nit yer asleep in hopes of maintaining his happiness and quiet long enough for me to put the other guy down. (Didn't work, btw. He came running down the hall screaming at top volume with my phone in his hand while I held my breath and tried to get his brother down before the screaming woke him.)
I sacrificed SLEEP.

Earlier today, however, I sacrificed time with my guys. I went into the other room ro work while Hubby watched them. I could hear them play. I could hear them cry. I could hear when K but H. I reminded myself that Hubby was handling it. Working from home allows me to BE at home, so it is extremely important. Still, sitting separated from my guys was the biggest sacrifice ywt.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

One Year Anniversary of Korben Homecoming

first car ride

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the youngest of my twins coming home from the hospital after an 85 day stay.  At this time last year, I was embarking on an exhilarating yet terrifying journey.  The well being of my sweet little men, born so early and so tiny, was to depend entirely on my husband and myself.

I knew all too well the fear that the transition to home care would spark.  We actually had brought K home from the hospital once before.  He was home less than 24 hours, however.  During the time he was home with us, his alarm went off almost every hour and he actually turned blue a couple of times.  (We later found out that a nurse had given us bad information, telling us to not elevate his bed.)  We were so happy bringing him home.  So happy.  We snuggled and cared for him all evening, handling his alarms and his interrupted breathing with a certain amount of calm.  The husband had to work the next day, so he went to bed late, and I cared for K alone all night and the next day.  By the end of it, I was a shell of a person.  There was no question that his alarms were not false.  He physically was turning blue with many of the spells.  I revived him each time as I had been shown in the hospital.  The nurse's words kept ringing in my ears, "you took the CPR class, right?"  Please, please don't let me need to give him CPR. I didn't need to administer CPR, but three of his episodes were bad enough that they prompted me to give him oxygen.

When Hubby got home from work, he found me still in pajamas, unfed, unwilling to leave the cribside.  I was so relieved.  Everything would be okay now.  I don't know why I thought Hubby's appearance would solve everything.  It did not.  K continued to have spells, and one spell actually caused him to go limp.  One moment he was awake, experimentally kicking his feet, then he turned dusky, his alarm went off, and he stopped moving.  We revived him with stimulation and oxygen, and in desperation I called the hospital.  I was hoping for a change in medication or formula, or perhaps some instructions or suggestions on how to reduce the frequency of the spells.  Instead of being given instructions, I was told to bring him back to the NICU.

I sobbed harder than I think I had cried the entire time he had been in the hospital.  I was beside myself.  I was a failure, and would be separated again from my baby.  To this day, I feel the doc asked to bring K back not because she thought he needed to be in the hospital, but because she doubted my ability to properly care for him.  None of the nurses had ever seen anyone admitted back to the NICU.

He spent another couple of weeks there, had some tests run, and gradually the frequency of his spells decreased.  Still, I was panic stricken.  What if we had a repeat?  What if there was something in the home environment that caused more spells?  Was it me?  The cat hair?  The temperature in their room? He did have a couple additional bad spells after returning to the hospital, but improved greatly over the next couple of weeks.  I felt like the nurses that were watching him during his bad spells understood my fears, but the other nurses thought there was something wrong with me.  I didn't want to take him home until I thought he was ready.

After a couple of weeks, however, and a change in medication and instructions, I knew it was time.  I was ready to try it again, and I felt he was as ready as he would ever be.  I was so excited and nervous.  I could not sleep the night before he was scheduled to come home.  I was up until five in the morning.

I went to the hospital in the morning. The guys were going to take a "swallow test" to see if their reflux was caused by  physical problem. We all understood that of the test went well, I'd be taking k home. In fact, k didn't strictly need the test. He suffered from reflux, but was improving  H's reflux was still quite bad, however, so we decided to run the test on them both. The swallow test went smoothly. My guys were the darlings of the radiology lab. The nurses kind of fought over who got to hold them. 

I was given the go ahead to take K home, for good this time. 

I shocked the nurses by saying I would be back that afternoon to retrieve him. I was running on zero sleep, and knew i was in for a long night. I needed to prepare for the possibility of another horrible experience, of another night full of alarms and oxygen and the possibility of needing CPR.  Even if this didn't happen, at the very least I was in for waking every three hours, feeding, administering medications, taking temperature, and then sleeping for an hour before starting again. I NEEDED to get some rest. Waiting for afternoon also gave my folks a chance to come up for the event, and my husband a chance to get off work. 
Ignoring the disapproving look from the nurse, I went home to vacuum the nursery one last time and to nap. 

I did take a few minutes to meet the Hubby and one set of his folks for lunch. This would later come back to bite me in the ass. In the coming months, these people who were never present during Hubby's childhood would let their evil show through. They would decide I was an unfit mom based on the fact that my guys were chubby and that I waited until afternoon to pick up K. What kind of mother, they would say, doesn't immediately being her child home?  The answer to this is:  a mother who has dealt with separation for three months and is willing to do so for another four hours in order to be better prepared to care for her child. But I digress.

The point is, napped, showered, with my parents and Hubby in tow, I returned to the hospital to pick up K. We removed his hospital monitors and hooked him up to our portable home monitors. I struggled with putting his coat and hat on him. He cried for a moment when we buckled him into the car seat carrier. My parents filmed. 

I kissed H goodbye. That was awful. Leaving one behind was somehow worse than leaving them both there. My heart would be divided. I cannot even express what it feels like to separate your twins, leaving one at the hospital while the other comes home. I knew that I would be spending more time with K, as H was in the care of nurses.  I would not see him as much, and it was a a terrible wrenching pain to say goodbye to him.

I wept quietly while I the nurse carried K and all of his monitors downstairs with me. Hubby had gone to get the car. My parents filmed as I struggled with snapping the car seat into its base, hugged the nurse, and climbed in the back next to K.

This time, things went much more smoothly.  We elevated his bed, and he had many less spells.  He did occasionally turn dusky, but it was with a frequency that I could handle, and he never went limp again.  We did continue to have some trouble for the first couple of days with keeping his temperature up and getting him to wake to eat.  I now think this was just a matter of him adjusting to a new environment. He was home, and he was doing well.  

I wold leave him for a little while every day to visit H.  I called the doc's office almost daily, worried about temperature, snotty nose, feedings, etc. but it was all normal new parent worry.  Everything was wonderful.  My baby was home.  I felt like I could really start to get to know him.  Now I refused to leave his cribside, but it was only because I could not get enough of him.  Exhausted beyond exhaustion, missing H, so much that it was a physical pain, I still was the happiest I had ever been.  

A year later, K is walking and giving us quite a bit of attitude.  He throws his broccoli on the floor.  He pushes his brother off the rocking horse.  He loves to be chased and 'gotten.'  He is wonderful and amazing and I'm so happy to know him.