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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Hubby Bashing

If the Hubby had verbalized what his actions would be for the past couple of days, it would go like this:

I'm going to wash the dog in the big bathtub, instead of one of the other two or the shower.  I won't bother rinsing the dog hair out of the tub when I'm done, so you'll need to wash the bathtub before you can bathe the boys.  In fact, I think I'll leave the bath toys in the tub while I wash the dog, so you will need to wash the dog hair and crud off of all of it.

I know I keep acting like you losing weight will solve all of our marriage problems, but I'm going to make homemade pizza.  I'm also going to act slightly annoyed that you don't cook dinner anymore, even though I specifically asked you not to, since we are both supposed to be on liquid diets.

I'm going to work from home.  I will close myself in the office.  Every so often, I will come out of the office, say hi to the guys, then disappear.  This will leave you to deal with two screaming babies when they realize I have closed them out.  Good luck with that.

In fact, why don't I wait until they are playing happily, leaving you and your laptop cord alone for a while so you can actually get some work done outside of naptime, then make one of my appearances?  I'd hate to see you get too much work done.  After I disappear, you'll be able to cuddle with babies.  That will, in fact, be all you can do so you may as well just shut down your computer as soon as I appear.

Oh, and you know how K is teething and both the guys are sick and it's hard for them to fall asleep?  Well, I'll wait until K has finished his naptime bottle and is dozing off, but crying every now and then as his urge to sleep fights his tooth pain.  Then I will emerge and ask you to take the guys into the bedroom so they are not in the background during my call.  I won't think about the fact that they do not nap in our room because they're so excited to be in there.  I won't bother with the fact that our bedroom is not babyproofed, at my request, so it is a nerve-wracking experience keeping them out of everything.  I won't worry about the fact that the cat has been sick all over the bedroom over the past few days, and while it has been spot-cleaned, the entire room should be shampooed before babies crawl in it.

I certainly won't worry about the possible consequences of interrupting naptime -- that they may not nap and may be terrors all evening.  I'll be sure and be extra annoyed if they're cranky this evening.

Of course, you could use this time to bathe them, except that the bathtub is full of dog hair.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Woman Who Broke My Heart

I don't even remember her name, but a woman broke my heart this week.

First, K broke my heart by finally starting to walk on his own.
Then, he broke my heart again by falling flat on his face on the kitchen tile.  My heart was further split upon the realization that he had broken one of his front teeth in the fall.  You know - the teeth that are fought and cried and screamed for, that are gained only through several sleepless nights, baby orajel, rocking, ice, and more baby Motrin than I'd like to admit.

Those teeth.  That's what broke.  We were lucky, however, that the tooth did not break so badly that it exposed the nerve or anything.  K is not in pain, not sensitive to heat or cold, and is able to eat normally.  Just to be safe, we took him to the dentist.  It was at the dentist's office that I met the woman who would break my heart.

The dentist we found is great!  They have a separate play room for little guys, so we went in there and I unstrapped the guys from their stroller.  They explored the new environment, pulling everything off the shelves (natch) and generally had a good time.  While we were there, a woman showed up with her little boy.  Her boy could have been my guys' long lost triplet (well, not LONG lost, but, you know . . . )  He was their height, was moving around with about the same grace, and making the same types of noises.  His facial features had that 'pixie' quality to them that is so common among preemies, which made him resemble K somewhat.

The mom and I got to talking.  Her boy is a month older than mine.  She asked if my guys were early.  I said they were born at 27 weeks.  She said, "He was born at 27 weeks, too.  And he was a twin."

I felt like I had taken a punch to the gut, the past tense of the verb not lost on me.  He WAS a twin.  Hubby would later ask me how she lost the other one.  I had not asked.  Instead, we discussed what our guys are doing now, when they learned to walk, etc.  She was there for the same reason I was there -- her guy had split his teeth learning to walk.  I'm sure she had come to as much peace as is possible with what happened to her other guy.  We talked a little about what caused our prematurity, and what kinds of devices the kids came home on.  It felt good to have an actual verbal conversation with someone in a similar boat to mine, but I had a difficult time concentrating.  It is all too easy to let myself forget the very real possibility that one or both of my guys might not have made it.
I have been working on a blog about an upcoming surgery that K needs.  It is a real pity-party blog.  In the blog, I do mention that I know how very fortunate we are that the issues my kids have are not very severe, but that knowing that doesn't make it less stressful to hear the doctor tell you your kid needs another surgery.

Now that entire sentiment feels empty.

Needless to say, I just about squeezed the life out of my guys that evening.  They did not appreciate it, but they can suck it up.  As far as I'm concerned, they will never be too big for Mommy Snuggles, and Mommy needed some snuggles.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why a Nipple Shield Made Me Cry

My guys are formula fed. Some day I may tell the story of how that came about. Today, however is the day for a closet cleaning story.

Realizing that the nursery closet is completely full and much of it's contents are no longer used, I decided to remove the obsolete stuff. I wasn't going all crazy and organizing or anything, just getting rid of stuff.

The top shelf was almost full of breast pumps and accessories. I was a slave to these devices for three long months, and just looking at them again brought a wave of conflicting emotions to the surface. I sorted through it all, preparing to sell it. I found several pump parts, a tub of hand sanitized, a pen, sheets of the bar coded labels I used to identify my milk at the hospital, and a nipple shield.

It was the nipple shield that reduced me to a moist blubbering mess on the nursery floor.

H was able to start trying to bottle feed before K was. It was a difficult process for him, learning to eat instead of being fed through a tube. He would try to fall asleep during the process and didn't seem to understand what he was supposed to do. Even though the hospital encouraged breastfeeding, it often did not seem practical because of how difficult just bottle feeding was. Still, I tried the breast once a day for a couple of weeks.

The lactation specialist was the person who gave me the shield. I'd had no luck getting H to latch. With the help of this clear rubbery shield, however, H was finally able to drink from the tap. He did not get much and soon it was time to tube him again, but for a few moments we were so close to one another.

After a few days, I was able to try with K. He did not need the shield.

I only nursed my guys a couple of times. The problem with nursing preemies is that it is hard to tell exactly how much they are getting. Also, as I mentioned, just learning to eat is difficult for them. In addition to this, my guys had bad reflux. Their milk had to have a thickener added to it.

Figuring I would have time to nurse directly later on, I kept my slavery to the pump alive.

A couple of months later, guys still in the hospital, I abandoned my pumps. My guys would now be formula fed. It was a painful decision that saddened me deeply, but it was a decision I never regretted.  I have mo doubt that switching to formula at that time was the best thing for us.

My regret is that I had not been able to make more attempts to feed directly.   The handful of times I was able to put one of my guys to breast were so special and magical. I wish I had more of those memories.

Here's how they eat now, picture taken at early Thanksgiving, after eating themselves into little comas:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Our Birth Story

It is difficult to glide over the years of fertility treatments and difficult pregnancy, but I will do my best to get to the point. I will say we tried for six years to get pregnant, finally conceiving our twins through IVF. My pregnancy had some difficulties, but I has a cerclage placed and had experienced no symptoms for several weeks. My doctors and I felt my problems were behind me. I had reached my 26th week, the gestational age to which Google attributed a 90% survival rate. I had experienced no cervical shortening, and the specialist even laughed that it looked like we didn't even need the cerclage. My days of bedrest and fear were behind me. The worst days of my life - waiting in bed, checking off the weeks of my babies' development, feeling the kicks and wondering if we would make it - were over. I would need to take it easy, but I could enjoy the rest of the pregnancy we had worked so hard to achieve.

The relief was short lived. I barely had time to get back into reading the pregnancy and baby name books I had set aside during my darkest days. On the last day of my 26th week, I felt odd. I was not in pain, except for the loose joints and lower back soreness that was par for the course at this point. Instead, I was having waves of exhaustion that forced me to sit down. Every so often, I also felt some tightening. I recalled the doctors' words about false labor. My cramping was not coming at regular intervals or with increasing frequency. I was not in any pain or experiencing any bleeding, both of which were supposed to happen if cervical changes put pressure on the cerclage. Certain nothing worrisome was happening, I replenished my jug of water and sat with a book.

After all, I would know if I was in labor, right?  How could you not know?

I soon realized the strange sensation wasn't going away. Instead of timing the irregular tight feelings, I decided to time the waves of exhaustion. Nine minutes apart. On the nose. We headed to the hospital.

Even at this point, we were just going to be safe. We thought it was false. We expected to repeat what happened the past couple of times we went to the hospital. Usually, they strap me into a device that measures contractions. I tell them when I'm feeling crampy, they say it's not showing up on the machine, they watch me for an hour, then we attribute my symptoms to the chili dog I had for supper and I go home. I feel sheepish but relieved and sleep well.

On this trip, the usual nurse greeted us and strapped me in. We joked about chili dogs  A wave hit me, and before I could say anything, the nurse said she could see the contraction in the monitor.

This I when I started to get nervous. My symptoms had NEVER shown up on their monitors before this. Hubby called my folks to let them know we were at the hospital and it looked like I was having Some kind of contractions. At this point we knew something was up, but we still thought it was spmething minor and that we'd be sent home soon.

After seeing my contractions on the monitor, the nurse set me in stirrups and examined me. She was only "down there" for a moment before she stood up, looked at me wide eyed, and told me I was at 8 centimeters. She said they would give me something to try to stop the labor, but, "sweetie, these babies are coming tonight."

Panic set in. The world went flat. Obviously this was a nightmare. I would wake up. I would wake up. My perfectly healthy 26 week babies would not be forced out of my body for reasons unknown. It wouldn't happen. It was not happening.

I hadn't taken any childbirth classes. What if I had to deliver before the doctor arrived to do the c-section?  Why hadn't we gotten the steroid shot that would develop their lungs?  Where were we even going?  Who were all these people suddenly in the room?  Nurses and technicians surrounded me, their conversation buzzed around me, but none of their words made contact with me.

My husband said his parents were coming. From miles away, I heard my tiny voice ask about my own parents. He dialed and handed me the phone. My dad told me they had already gotten dressed and would be on their way.  

The rest of the night I remember as kind of a strange montage of events, isolated scenes with no context.

I heard the nurse say she could see the head. Hubby said, "she just means she can tell where the head is.". Nope. She could actually see H's head.

The ultrasound guy came and was told we has no time and he'd have to meet us in the delivery room.

My thumbprints were taken.

I asked if I could use the restroom, and was told I could not stand or even sit up for any reason. The nurse said she would give me a catheter. I asked about painkillers. She said the catheter would hurt much less than my labor. I did not tell her that I didn't have any labor pain.

At some point, I was rushed to a maternity/birthing room. There the ultrasound guy confirmed the position of the babies while Hubby signed paperwork. They told us, "dad needs to sign these.". We both said, "my dad's not here yet."

I was wheeled into the operating room. They put the hairnet thing on me as we rushed down the hall.

I kept thinking they would give me something to relax me, but no. I was immersed  in the hard cold reality of my fear. The operating room was bright and felt huge. A small army of people rushed around. They seemed flustered, which scared me more.

I was so very cold.

I was afraid of the spinal, but it did nor hurt like the one I'd had before. It was quick, and then I was numb.

The anesthesiologist was annoyed at being called in the middle of the night.

My husband appeared, clad in paper gown. I'm sure he was wearing a mask, but in my memory I can see his face. I was so relieved to see him again.

My doctor appeared. His finger was braced from a golf injury. I flooded with relief. It was time. Everything was ready. Everyone was here.

I concentrated on keeping my breathing steady. I asked if it was normal for my face to feel flushed. When I asked this, I saw fear in my husband's eyes. I had never seen that before in al of our years together. I suddenly realized I was being cut open, that all three of us were in danger. My husband . . . I cannot imagine what he was going through.

The doctor and anesthesiologist discussed golf.

The doctor asked what the first Baby's name was, then announced, "he has been born, and is peeing on me." a moment later, I felt an odd deflating sensation as my second son was delivered.

Hubby left me to go to the guys' bedsides. The nurses were a flurry of activity over there.

As my surgery finished, the neonatologist came to speak with me. Both boys were alive, and were taking breaths. They would need to be placed on ventilators and were on their way to the NICU. I asked if I could see them. H had already been taken away, but the doc hollered for the nurse to let me glimpse K. As the nurse rushed him from the room, she held him up so I could see him. From across the impossibly large operating room, I saw a small bundle of blankets with a tiny face. Then he was gone. Hubby went with them. I was alone.

As I was wheeled back to my room, I passed by our families who had arrived and were waiting. My dad stood as I went by. The relief on his face as he saw me just about killed me. I called out, "did you see them?  How do they look?" We went by too quickly for me to hear the answer. I was taken back to my room, where family joined me in waiting for my husband to get back with news of the boys. I had never felt so alone and empty.

Less than three hours after our arrival at the hospital, my boys were born and taken to intensive care. It was early morning of exactly 27 weeks gestation - the first day of our third trimester.   I would meet my sons later in the day, and together the four of is would embark on the unimaginable experience of a long term NICU stay.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Preemies

My preemies were born at 27 weeks gestation, weighing 2lbs 11oz and 2lbs 8oz. 

My preemies were not able to meet me in the delivery room. We met a few hours later, once they were stabilized. 

My preemies spent the first day of their lives hooked up to a ventilator, and their first couple of months on other oxygen support. 

My preemies spent the first three months of their lives in a hospital. 

My preemies were so delicate that lifting them too much during a diaper change could lead to brain hemorrhage. 

My preemies frequently stopped breathing and had heart rate slowdowns requiring stimulation to wake them up. 

My preemies were unable to eat at first, and were fed through an IV. Eventually they graduated to tube feedings, then bottle feedings. 

My preemies could not regulate body temperature. A sensor taped to their skin signalled their isolettes to warm up or cool down. 

My preemies did not meet each other until they were a couple of months old. 

My preemies endured regular blood tests, transfusions, infections, skin that was constantly irritated or broken from monitors and such. 

My babies are now fourteen months old and are within normal height and weight ranges. 

My babies like sweet potatoes, tuna, hamburger, banana, plums, and cheese sandwiches. 

My babies feed themselves with their hands and are learning to use spoons. 

My babies love music. 

My babies chase each other up and down the hallway. 

My babies occasionally get a little rash from swimming or from playing in the grass. 

My babies have the best laughs. 

My babies are walking. WALKING. 

I can't pinpoint exactly when they stopped being preemies, but I know I know longer think of them as such.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Advice to Friends and Family of NICU Parents

My guys were born at 27 weeks and spent three months in the NICU. The NICU experience is like nothing I had experienced, and is nothing I would wish on anybody. I do know, however, that premature birth happens too often. With that in mind, I compiled the following list,which I hope will help those with friends or family in the NICU. 

1.  We need you to celebrate the new life. We are grateful for your sympathy; our situation is unspeakably difficult. More than your sympathy, however, we need your joy. We have a new member of our family, one (or two or three) we have been anticipating and loving for quite some time. Although the child may be  ill and there is a possibility of our lives being touched only briefly, that child deserves all the love and joy of a lifetime. 
2.  We love that everyone is interested in the well being of our little ones and want to share all the news. It can get overwhelming, though, as friends and family call for updates. Not everyone is on email or facebook. Help devise a way to disseminate information. Offer to be the main point of contact for people wanting news or generate a phone/email tree. 
3.  We are TERRIFIED of germs. If you have a sniffle or cough, stay away. Not just from the hospital, stay away from the family as well. If we get sick, we can't visit our little ones. Wash your hands, get your flu shots, keep yourself healthy so you don't pass anything along to us. 
4.  If you're wondering what to do for a NICU parent, keep in mind that the baby probably came before we finished our to-do list. We may have cribs or swings to purchase or assemble, but we also might need our oil changed and brakes checked, our carpets cleaned, household repairs taken care of, etc. 
5.  We are exhausted and hungry and tired of fast food!  Home food delivery, a frozen casserole, or a meal "catered" by a nicer restaurant can feel like a miracle. 
6.  We don't really want to hear about your friend's cousin whose baby was born two weeks early and "turned out fine. You'd never know." every preemie is different and, believe me, we've researched our chances and know what the most likely outcomes are. We know you mean to be comforting, but it really doesn't help. 
7.  Please do not get offended or cause drama. This is not about you. It seems this should go without saying, but with emotions running high and visitation limited, often friends or family members wind up feeling hurt and rejected. When deciding who gets visitation rights, MANY factors come into play. We might consider who is likely to be able to visit the most, who might be babysitting the kids later on, who might be less exposed to germs, etc. It is not a measure of who our favorite is or who we love the most. It is an incredibly difficult decision that is only made harder if we fear we will hurt someone's feelings. Please remember that visitors are limited not just to protect the baby you know, but to protect all the babies in the NICU. Meanwhile, we are scared and exhausted and stressed and just do not have the energy or time to worry about anyone except us and our babies.
8. Preemie parents are worried about their house and air quality being clean enough to take our babies home. When going hone time approaches, offer to "spring clean" and dust or hire a maid service, or change our air filters, clean the carpets, and/or groom our pets. 
9. Offer to keep our pets for a week or so when the babies first get home. 
10. Every preemie parent is different. Some want to be surrounded by their loved ones, while others hold tight as a family unit, shunning all others. Cards, emails, grocery delivery, etc. are all ways to let the parents know you are there for them while giving them enough space to decide whether to reach out to you. 

Thank you. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

So Wear Pants Then?

I've seen it suggested that a SAHM should begin each day by getting herself and her children completely dressed. Everyone should be dressed as though they're going somewhere, even down to the shoes. I thought this was a good idea until I became a SAHM. Now I find the idea to be utterly ludicrous.

Two of the most important things in my life are ease and comfort. This is why the main distinction between my pajamas and my daytime attire is the addition of a bra. But this is not about me. ( I do, in fact wear pants every day, even if they are yoga or sweatpants or gym shorts.). It is about my little men. 

I will admit something to the Blogosphere that I do not admit to my own family. Most days my boys wear just diapers and nothing else. If we think someone might be stopping by, we put either t-shirts or full outfits on the guys. The decision of t-shirt or outfit naturally depends on who is coming over. I obviously realize my guys are old to be frolicking in baby skivvies all day, but it's so EASY. They can drink and pee and drool without winding up in soaked clothes. There is no need for bibs at mealtime. A damp cloth takes care of meal mess. Most importantly, it allows for much faster diaper changes. This becomes more important every day a the boys have developed an aversion to holding still that borders on panic. 

Alas, all of this now must change. 

Yesterday the guys were playing in the kitchen while I prepared their lunch. I hit the restroom, and when I came out I wondered what was on K's face. That's when I saw H. He was sitting on the floor, diaper expertly removed and slightly hooked around one ankle, cheerfully smearing poop everywhere. 

In one motion I grabbed a clorox wipe, wiped down the floor so K wouldn't get into it, and scooped up H. I carted him off to the nursery where I intended to clean his hands with wipes. As the wipedown began, I realized it wasn't just on his hands. It was EVERYWHERE. When I saw there was poop in his ear, I scrapped the wipedown in favor of a full bath. 

It was about this time that I remembered there was "something" on K's face. I investigated and, yep, it was poop. I hauled both kids into the tub where they happily splashed, oblivious to the horror they had just endured. 

Now the guys must wear pants even at Home to prevent diaper removal. I feel it looks white-trashy to have them just in pants so they wear shirts, too. Please don't ask why I had no problem with them in just diapers but can't have them in pants with no shirt. I can't explain it. 

This is why my guys are now fully dressed at home. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Frustrated. Found dog but can't help.

So what  am I supposed to do?  A dog showed up at my house. He's wearing a collar but no ID. He's super friendly, wet, cold, and LIMPING. 

In my previous life I would not hesitate to try to leash him then take him around the neighborhood finding his home. Now, however, I've got to think about my guys. Even if I did want to bundle them up and roll them around the 'hood, I don't want them around a strange dog. 

I thought about trapping him in the garage while contacting neighbors by phone and email.  I decided this is not a good plan.  I think he might have a better shot of finding his way back home than I do of finding it for him so I don't want to trap him in. 

Right now my garage door is open so he can hang out in there. I think I might have to close it, though. We keep a lot of stuff in the garage and I'm not comfortable leaving it open. 

I guess I just have to let him go his own way. Crap. What would you do?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Looking Back: First Halloween vs "First" Halloween

My guys are almost fourteen months old, so technically this isn't their first Halloween. Last year, however, they were in the hospital and we had seceded from planet earth.  We therefore consider this year to be their "first" holiday season.

Last year, early in my pregnancy I had begun researching great costumes for women with big pregnant bellies. I had considered painting my belly like a fish bowl, or going as a pregnant nun. I was putting a lot of thought into this, knowing it would most likely be the only Halloween I would ever spend pregnant, and wanting to capitalize on what I knew would be a ginormous tummy.  I LOVE Halloween and was looking forward to decorating our new home and handing out candy to the neighborhood kids.

Obviously, none of this came to pass. By the time October arrived, my sons were born and struggling their way through the NICU experience.  My belly was no longer wonderfully round.  Instead it was the odd flabby post-pregnancy bump that manages to look just enough like actual pregnancy to be entirely depressing.  I would not be wearing an adorable preggo costume.  Not only that, we would not be handing out candy.  Like most preemie parents, we were terrified of germs in a way that only TV's Monk could understand.  The thought of little germ-was coming to the door with their grubby hands expecting candy - no matter how adorably dressed- was terrifying and revolting to us.  I know it might seem petty, but I was terribly sad to not be celebrating the holiday.

You see, this wasn't just a matter of Halloween. Halloween marked the beginning of our holiday season in seclusion. We could not celebrate the holodays as a new family. We were not living under the same roof.  We were exhausted from living half at the hospital. We were terrified of germs, making us hesitant to see family and friends to celebrate. Barely having energy to put together dinner on any kind of regular basis, a holiday meal was out of the question.  While I did not begrudge anyone else their holiday joy, and in fact still love the holidays, I could not stomach being surrounded by all that cheer.  We certainly didn't have the time or strength to deal with the inevitable family drama.  We made a conscious decision to not observe any holidays that year. Halloween was the first of our unmarked 2009 holiday season.  We truly were in our own world, separate from everyone else we knew.

Because we were not handing out candy, I did not want to decorate. I feel strongly that decorating for Halloween is like advertising you will have candy. I didn't want to be making a false promise to the neighborhood kids.  In the week leading up to the holiday, hospital volunteers made Halloween themed baby blankets, of which each of our boys got one. The guys were still in isolettes, however, so the blankets just draped over the top. Cheery pumpkin faces grinned at me from the top of my preterm babies' incubators.  It was a lovely gesture, but really made me feel more isolated from the season.  We spent Halloween day at the hospital. At the last minute, we decided to offer candy. We still did not want to be in direct contact with children so we set bowls of candy on the porch. We turned off all our lights and hid out in our bedroom. Later, when the bowls were empty and sanitized, we wondered if one kid took all the candy, or if the honor system worked and chocolates and starburst were available to all.

This year was a complete turnaround!  We decorated the house! We hung fake spiderwebs and had a spooky picture that screamed when you pushed a button. I did not dress up to hand out candy, but we did hand it out and I got to see so many adorable costumes! 

I dressed my guys up as characters from Shaun of the Dead. Now, this is goofy --we didn't take them anywhere or even bring them to the door. We literally just dressed them up to take pictures, then let them put their T-shirts back on. We watched H walk around the living room and listened to K babble away. Sometimes the guys would follow me to the door. It was the beat best Halloween ever.

Again, this sets the tone for the rest of the holiday season. We're planning to have thanksgiving at my folks' house, with Hubby's folks and brother invited. We will hang lights this Christmas, and will celebrate in our own home with whatever family wants to join us. It feels so good to be part of the world again!

Friday, October 29, 2010

My House is Not as Filthy as it Seems

If you find yourself at my home at any given time on any given day, please know the following. I swear it's all true.
At some point within the last month all the paperwork on the kitchen table was dealt with and cleared off.
Within the last three days the floor was mopped and not sticky.
Within the last two days the floor was swept free of cheerios.
Within the last 24 hours all the dishes were washed and put away.
Within the last six hours the countertops were wiped off
Within the last four hours the high chairs were clean and free of food bits.
Within the last three hours the Tupperware was put into the cupboard and the toys were put away - not necessarily at the same time.
Within the last two hours at least one stray bottle was rescued from behind furniture.

When you come to my house and it appears that we live in squalor, as the cheerios crunch under your feet and stick to your shoes, as you trip over toys and I clear a spot on the kitchen table in front of an overflowing sink, please remember the house is not as filthy as you think it is. I have twin toddlers you see, and my home is as clean as it can possibly be.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My First Treadmill Since the Kiddos

The hubby keeps offering to buy me exercise equipment, and I keep telling him I simply don't have the time.  He does that, "Make it a priorit y" speech, but if he wanted it to be a priority, he'd take the kids to the park for an hour so I could exercise.  Anyhoo, he wound up borrowing a treadmill from his friend and I dutifully agreed to let the household fall apart around me to use it for half an hour when the kids nap.  Here's what happened.

I put the guys down to nap, looked for actual socks and lace-up shoes for about twenty minutes, got them on my feet, and faced the treadmill.  I started it up, cranked it to a whopping 3 - my previous life's standard setting - and immediately, huffing and puffin, cranked it back down to one.  At this leisurely pace, I started to sweat and even felt a little stitch in my side.  I'd been going for about four minutes.

That's when I saw it.  Our cat, who has been ill, sauntered into the middle of the living room.  Perhaps she sensed the guys were safely asleep.  I saw her start to squat.  I leaped from the treadmill, swooped down to scoop her up, missed her entirely, and fell headlong into the sofa.

I had forgotten the treadmill gives me something like sea-legs.  Stumbling as if drunk, head throbbing, I bounced back from the sofa and went at the cat again.  One thought pounded through my brain.


I fell straight onto my face, stubbing my toe on the coffee table.  Luckily for me, the dog got in on the fun and chased the cat around until she finally jumped over the gate into the laundry room where the litterboxes are.  The carpet was unsoiled.

I took my pulse, called it good, turned off the treadmill which was still running, took a deep breath and got to work unloading the dishwasher.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We Survived Our First Stomach Bug!

I'm so relieved!

A week ago, I was struck by severe digestive-system distress.  In the interest of maintaining a polite conversation, I will leave it at that and spare the details.  I was extremely sick for a couple of days, but did not run a fever or anything. I felt a little motion sick and had an off-and-on headache, but mainly I was just having tummy troubles.  This is why I figured the issue was my gallbladder.  I've had trouble with it, and assumed that I had eaten one too many double-cheeseburgers and my body had finally decided to cut me off. 

I realized during this time that there is no sick leave from my job, and my two little bosses have a zero-tolerance policy toward absenteeism.  I struggled through taking care of the two little men and barely survived.  Once the war with my body had been waged, I armed myself with low-fat recipes and shopped for a couple of weeks worth of wholesome meals.  I rejoined our little society.

A few days later, K was pretty much refusing to eat.  I chalked it up to normal toddler eating fluctuations.  He was still taking formula no problem, so I didn't fuss over it.  Then bedtime came.  H went to bed fine, but K couldn't get comfortable.  Suddenly he spewed like the demon child he sometimes is!  The poor guy had a hard time with it, too.  He sputtered and coughed for a long time after, as we tried to suck the remainder out of his sinuses.  We tried to give him more formula, which he denied, and finally were able to put him to sleep.  Again, I figured it was one of those things.  I thought he had eaten something that disagreed with him.

Then 2 a.m. came, and H woke, crying, hiccoughing and fussing.  I picked him up and brought him to the living room to rock with a bottle of water.  Over the next three hours he proceeded to empty the contents of his stomach onto my chest, my arm and my back.  I was so proud at managing to not let any get on his jammies during the first event, but by the end of the third event both of our pjs were in a disgusting wet pile on the laundry room floor.  He finally settled and went to sleep.

The next morning, the guys seemed to feel okay but I decided to forego eggs and cereal for their breakfast.  I chose instead to just go with bottles.  At this point I was horrified at the idea that I had fed them something bad.

Was it the carrots?  They were in there a long time before I steamed them.  Maybe they were actually rotten?  Was it the yogurt?  It's that 'whipped' kind.  Maybe there's an evil chemical in that.  Was it their chili-mac?  We'd been working on it for a couple of days.  Maybe it tipped over into the not-good spectrum. Was it the chicken Hubby and I had for dinner?  Had I contaminated their bottles or something with raw chicken germs?  Had I essentially poisoned my babies? 

Bottles went well, both boys finished, then H smiled at me and Bluhhhhg! Out it all went.  Now I was worried.  Part of the blessing of ones so young is that you can lean on formula when other feeding options fail you.  If he couldn't keep down formula . . .

This is when Hubby finally came out of our room - Not wearing his suit.  He looked at me and said, "Okay, so I think it's safe to say it wasn't your gallbladder."

Once we knew what it was, it became a simple matter of management.  I was immeasurably relieved to find that H could, at least, hold down water.  I made a trip to the store to get Pedialyte for the guys, Immodium and Pepto and 7-up for the husband.  (Being patient zero, while having a certain amount of guilt, does have its advantages.  I couldn't imagine going through this while being sick myself.)

We went from water to pedialyte, to formula.  Last night I even, daringly, offered them yogurt.  This morning they had rice cereal for breakfast.  By lunch their appetites had returned and they were happily feeding themselves carrots and apples.  It was like a mini version of how you introduce babies to food, condensed into two days.  A lot of the experience was like having infants again, but easier because everything in the world is no longer an emergency, and because I kind of know what I'm doing these days.

This illness didn't come with fever and the guys overall seemed to feel okay.  Thank goodness!  This could have been a lot more difficult than it was.  They were droopier and crankier than usual, and I was up with H again last night.  He didn't actually spew but did sound kind of urp-y.  I am counting my blessings that I never had to change sheets in the middle of the night.  I know I could never do that without waking the other guy.  If sheets had been 'compromised,' I may have just slept in the chair with that baby.

Now the guys are playing in the tupperware.  The husband, shaky but alive, went to work today.  All the vomit clothes have been laundered and folded.  You would never know anything had happened. 

The Most Hurtful thing Hubby's Ever Said

"maybe the kids would be better off in daycare"

I guess this is husband bashing week for me.

My husband is vehemently opposed to babyproofing. He says that instead of babyproofing the house we should house-proof the kids by teaching them. I agree to not go overboard. I want my boys to explore and experience and sometimes that will result in scrapes and bruises. To me, however, some babyproofing frees the guys. It let's them get into things and explore without mom standing over them all the time.

While the guys were still pretty immobile I spent a weekend while Hubby was out of town doing very minimal proofing in he kitchen. I put most chemicals in the laundry room,others in a high cabinet. I removed all breakables from the lower cabinets and tried out a lock on the silverware drawer. When the husband got home all hell broke loose. He was mad that HIS kitchen was rearranged, he couldn't find anything, etc.

We agreed that I would do no more in the kitchen and essentially would not do anything that would inconvenience Hubby. For a while, I blocked off access to the kitchen with boxes and portions of a play yard. Hubby was always annoyed and the guys got too big for that anyway.  It helped to keep them contained, but they could get through the barricades when they tried.  Meanwhile, we were tripping and such getting into and out of the living room.  Hubby found this situation intolerable.  Now we keep doors closed but the guys have free reign of the living room and kitchen areas. They're learning to walk and often wind up with scrapes and bruises as they explore their environment. Hubby and I try to take this in stride, viewing it as part of growing up. Sometimes, when a guy gets a pretty bad bruise, I worry that Hubby will come home and ask why I wasn't watching, but that never happens.  Every time hubby comes home and there's a new bruise, he comforts me and says it is normal and fine and I'm doing great with the kids.   He says there is nobody else he'd trust with them and that if he didn't think I was doing great that we'd put the kiddos into daycare.

Over the weekend, however, H had pulled out the drawer under the oven and then slipped and banged his head on the corner of it.  He's fine - just a red mark - but he did cry. Hubby went OFF all over me, yelling that the kids are getting hurt all the time and I need to keep the place safer. I said I'd need to buy a gate to block off the kitchen and he said that was preposterous, that we don't need to buy a bunch of crap. I reminded him of the babyproofing I had wanted to do but that he had fought against and won.  I asked what, exactly, he wanted me to do to keep the kids from getting into trouble and that's when he said it.

"Maybe we need to put them in day care. Maybe they'd be better off."

Later he apologized but wow that stings.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Is he Too Impatient to be a Dad?

When I was pregnant, I thought I would be the impatient one with the kids and Hubby would be a model parent. As it turns our, my patience springs eternal while he seems to get frustrated easily.

This goes all the way back to when they were tiny, when he would insist that they COULD hold their own bottles, they just didn't want to. I saw it again when they would drop their pacifiers and were too little to pick them up and would cry. He would say, "We CAN'T keep giving them a binkie every five minutes. It has to stop. You have to let them cry sometimes."  He would just get so frustrated!  His attitude about things like this have always bothered me.

So last night Hubby had his spit cup sitting on the end table. (I know - gross, right?  I swear we're not total rednecks, but we do a pretty good impression of them.)  Now, I have learned to keep anything spillable up on the countertop but he flat out refuses to make any allowances for the kids. After shooing H away three times, he became distracted and before we knew it H had pulled the cup onto the floor spilling nasty tobacco spit on himself and the floor. I ran to clean him up and get the floor cleaning stuff. I started swabbing at the floor while Hubby, in a loud accusing tone, asked if we had any stain remover.
"I've got it right here."
"But how much is even in it?"  He's exasperated now, probably because he knew we were running low.
"it's full. I refilled the bottle. "

Why get so annoyed to the point you assume we're out of stuff? Umm let's see. Is it the BABY's fault, or the person with the disgusting habit that requires him to have a cup of spit available at all times?

E motioned for me to get out of the way so he could clean the carpet. He said something about it being a two thousand dollar oops. Lately he's all bent out of shape about the carpet. We have three cats a dog and two babies. Our carpet didn't stand a chance. I know this and usually see the humor in the situation. The Hubby, however, gets annoyed.
The thong that really bothers me is I suspect his real frustration was being interrupted in the video game he was playing on the phone.
He gets annoyed in the evenings when they're tired and wound up and making lots of noise so he can't hear tv. He was annoyed when I tried to babyhood because it was an inconvenience. He gets annoyed when they won't eat. He gets annoyed that the house isn't clean nut then is annoyed when I try to clean after the boys go to bed instead of watching a movie with him. He is CONSTANTLY ANNOYED! It's getting hard to be around. I feel like I'm just a bother in his life and I don't want the guys to feel that way to. I've written this on my phone so I'm sure parts of it are illegible. I'll edit to Dix and aadd a pic when I get to my computer.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Babies Playing Tag!

So this has been one of 'those' days.  It hasn't been a horrible day or anything, just particularly draining.  Hubby is working from home this afternoon, and that makes the guys a little more ornery.  They can hear his voice, but he's in another room and that bothers them.  Plus, H has not let me out of his sight today.  If I go into the other room to change K, he sits in the hallway and cries.   (I can't let them run free in their own room or they dump out the humidifier and pull the wires out of their monitors.)  Even when I go to do laundry, which is just behind a baby gate where the boys can clearly see me, H stands at the gate and cries.

This is very very sweet and I know it's just because he loves me and is feeling poorly for whatever reason.  I don't mind at all, but it is EXHAUSTING. 

So I find a minute when H is busy with a toy to run and get the laundry out of the dryer.  Suddenly, I hear K squealing with laughter.  I peek around the corner, and I will try to describe what I saw.

K was crawling as fast as he could around the chair.  H was following him.  Every time K looked behind him and saw H there, he would squeal with laughter and crawl faster.  He crawled behind the sofa, then peeked back around the corner of it to se H still following him, and would squeal with laughter again.  This would make H stop, sit up, grin really big and sometimes giggle.  This went on for almost ten minutes -- K crawling around and behind things, H keeping up, and then them both laughing when K stopped to see H still behind him.

I am still tired and stressed, the kitchen isn't any cleaner and the laundry still needs folding, but there is a glow on the rest of the day.  I feel sorry for everyone who does not have twins.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Twitter @twofertots

I got a twitter account @twofertots

Friday, October 1, 2010

H is Walking!

H is walking. He's not walking long distances or all the time, but it is definitely a walk. It is no longer pairs of shaky stumbling steps. He is upright and in control, and stops to sit rather than fall down. He has done it often enough that I no longer get misty eyed when it happens. It's so exciting! My little man.

K isn't walking yet but he can stand without holding on so we feel walking is not far behind. Meanwhile, he is doing things I think only other mothers can understand my excitement over. For one thing, he Claps. To me this is as exciting as walking. I know it's a cognitive milestone. Also- this might be wishful thinking but I think he's signaling when he's done eating. See, when we finish a meal I say, "all done!" and do the baby sign for finished. But then I applaud and tell them they've done a good job. Well, the past few meals k has started clapping as we near the end of the meal. Is he telling me he's full? The thought of that does make me weepy.
Thy both are getting better at turning pages and putting things into and under other things. They got so good at taking the pans out of the cupboards and banging them around that we had to install a pot rack to preserve my sanity and our tile floor.
They are getting so big and smart! Obviously they're both geniuses.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guilt of a Preemie Mom

When the boys were in the hospital, I was racked with guilt.  Every pin prick, every breath on a ventilator, every shaky cry of protest, hurt me to the core.  If I had stayed in bed more, if I had drunk more water, if I had insisted the doctor examine me when I felt something was wrong . . . there were so many things I could have done that might have delayed their arrival.  At the very least, if we had known they were coming we may have gotten the steroid shots.

All of the pain they went through -- it was all my fault.  When they were in the womb, I was the only person who could protect them and I failed.  I failed to keep them safe.  For a long time that guilt hung over me, pushing me down, affecting every moment of every day.

Now the guy are healthy happy one-year olds and I don't feel the guilt or fear of the NICU.  I delight in every day with them, and that is that.  All I can do is protect them now.  I can't go back and re-do the pregnancy.

Recently, however, we were talking about kangaroo care, and how K always went right to sleep on Hubby's chest while on me he always fidgeted.  I said he probably knew I was the one that caused him the pain.  Hubby was really freaked out by that.  I guess he thought that I no longer felt the prematurity was my fault.  He thinks this is a huge problem.  I do not.  There are a lot of mistakes you look back on and regret, but you can still move forward.  I know a LOT of events combined to result in the premature birth of my boys.  Still, I feel it is natural and right for me to take my part of the blame.  Every time I hear of a woman on strict bedrest, wearing a contraction monitor, or living in the hospital in the days leading up to her delivery, I know that should have been me.  No matter what the doctors said, that we were out of the woods and everything should be okay after my cerclage, that a little activity was good for me, that the pains I was feeling were natural and not indicitave of early labor -- I was the one who trusted them instead of me. 

It doesn't affect my life now.  It is in the past and, like I said, I can't change it so I don't dwell on it.  My husband's shock and horror that I still have these feelings and have accepted them as part of my life, however, has rattled me somewhat.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Peeing with a Baby on my Lap

Surely this is not only something that happens with multiples.  I am certain there must be some circumstance that causes this to happen in households with singletons as well.  I can't think for the life of me what those circumstances would be but. . .

Last night I found myself peeing while holding a baby on my lap.

How did this happen?  The boys have gotten to the age where the sound of one crying can wake the other up.  This is especially likely to happen close to morning.  I can handle being up in the night with one baby, but 3 a.m. with two wailing children, each setting the other off just as sleep is almost achieved, it's just disheartening.  It is to be avoided at all costs.

This is why, at 3:30 in the morning, when I heard H suddenly start crying I LEAPED out of bed and ran down the hall to retrieve him.  Now, usually when H wakes in the night, all it takes to make him fall asleep again is to pick him up.  He generally dozes  off almost immediately.  There are some nights, however, when he just seems to find himself to be Awake.  He is perfectly happy as long as you don't try to put him down.  Unfortunately, this was one of those nights.  I rushed into their room, switched off his monitor with my foot as I scooped him up out of his crib.  He immedately quieted.  A small whimper and shuffle from K set my heart aflutter but he just went back to snoozing.  H, however, was grinning at me, wide-eyed.  I knew then that I was in for at least a half hour of convincing him it was nighttime.  This was also when I realized how badly I had to pee. 

There I stood, in the dim light of the nursery, bobbing from foot to foot in an odd hybrid of baby rocking and pee-pee dance.  At one point H laid his head down on me and I attempted to lay him in his crib, but he bounced up as if on springs, looked at me and I could see the bellow lurking just below the surface.  I scooped him up again, whispering soothing sounds and humming. 

Now it was an emergency.  I couldn't put H down without waking K.  I didn't want to wake Hubby because he had to get up in a couple of hours to go to work.  So, I took H into the bathroom with me.  Here I couldn't put him down because they love to play in the bathroom and once they start exploring any attempt to remove them is met with a full-on hissy fit.  Besides, I was doing everything I could to keep him feeling snuggled and settled so he'd sleep.

So, yes, I held him through the whole event.  I was deeply grateful for three things:
  1. I was wearing a nightgown.  I'm not sure I could have managed pajama pants (TMI?)
  2. I keep hand sanitizer at all sinks.  Much easier than washing under this circumstance.
  3. Recently K became enamored of the night light in the hallway, so I had to move it into the bathroom. 
Seriously, the things I do sometimes.  I do hope he's not scarred.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who Goes to a Birthday Party with a Headcold?

Apparently my sister in law does.  About an hour after she arrived at the guys' birthday, she asked if we had any Day-Quil because she had a cold.

Now, our guys are no longer in their 'preemie/newborn bubble.'  They have proven themselves to be hearty guys.  We ask that people keep their hands washed generally, but you don't have to scrub before touching the guys and they crawl on the floor with the dog and all.  Still, to show up at any event with kids while knowing you are sick?

She's a sweet girl but lacks some common sense.  It was nice that she wanted to be there.  Her folks disowned us a while back so it is causing friction for her to even be in our lives. 

Still, as I sit here with my snotty nose and my two snotty babies, I can't help but curse her name - just a bit.

Here they are taking matters into their own hands.  They got their impatience from their Momma!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First Birthday Party

We had our first birthday party this weekend! The approach of turning one has stirred up a lot of emotions and memories but right now I want to focus on the PAR-TAY.

We knew this would be our only chance to pick a theme that didn't involve cartoons or something so we picked an island theme. We did this mainly so we would have an excuse to dress the guys up in Hawaiian shirts and it was so worth it! They were adorable.

In the days leading up to the party I was busy ordering party decorations and checking on the guest list. I was also cleaning for company, finally cleaning up the flowerbed, accessorizing the second bathroom, and doing something the boys had never seen before - dusting. At the end of it all the house looked pretty much the same as it always does - toys strewn about and pet hair on the furniture.

I also BAKED. I barely cook and never bake. I have fond memories, however, of the cakesy mother made for me. Ever since we started trying to get pregnant seven years ago, I have been dreaming of the day I would be making birthday cakes for my own kids. I made a cake shaped like a tiki god. I thought it would be easy because it's essentially round but it took two days and was so much work! It was worth it though.  Part of it was strawberry cake with a strawberry jam like filling.  I thought that was really good.  The other part of it was peanut butter cake with banana pudding filling.  That one came out a little odd.  We were left with a lot of leftover cake, but I'm telling myself it's just because people were full on burgers and not that they weren't any good.  (I chose to be a snob and make from scratch.)  After all the testing and tasting, I don't care if I see another cake ever again.  The leftovers are in the freezer.  We may pull it out on the anniversary of our 'going home from the NICU' days.

We did a private cake smashing on the actual birthday which was the day before the party.

The day of the party, many friends we had lost touch with showed up.  Some had kids of their own, so there were more than I had anticipated.  Thinking some kids might arrive and being hopelessly out of touch, I had bought some paddleballs and some bubbles.  The kids were more interested in our Guitar Hero, but then were too shy to play.  The grownups chatted while Hubby grilled burgers and dogs, and the boys wound up going to sleep for a little while.

My job before the party was to make sure the guys got a full nap, and in that I failed spectacularly!  I think they could feel my excitement because they would doze off a little but not actually fall asleep.  Finally we all got up out of the rocker, I dressed them and started filling balloons. 

Much later than expected we finally got around to the cake cutting.  The guys had just woken from their nap and were a little dazed and obviously confused by everyone standing still staring at them.  The cake smashing was therefore much less dramatic than the one the night before.  Eventually things wound down as people left to go watch the game. 

Only a couple of people got offended, and neither was my fault.  One of hubby's friends got mad because he was outside showing someone his motorcycle when we did the cake and we didn't think to go get him.  Hubby's mom showed up two hours late and was upset that the burgers were already put away.  Really, though, it turns out she was upset over something Hubby's sister did that had nothing to do with us. 

We managed to not do the gifr opening at the party, and I don't think anyone minded.  We had asked for no gifts, but honestly we do appreciate what people brought. 

It was a fun day, but I was super glad for it to just be the four of us on Sunday, and to get us back on our regular schedule on Monday.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Working from Home on a Laptop With Tots

Let go of the cord, please, K!
H, you let go now.
I know, it's a pretty screen.  Wooooooooo.   Wooooooo!    Wooooooo.  (Moving windows around.)
Okay, I'll stop for a few minutes.  Bounce, bounce bounce!

Don't you feel like a nap?  Momma thinks you might need a nap.

Wait, just a sec, sweeties. Just need to send this email.   Wait!  It wasn't ready!

Where's my Alt key?  K, what's in your mouth?

(On the phone) Beg pardon?  I'm sorry, can you repeat that one more time?  Once again?

K, let go of the cord please.

Where's my Enter key?  Oh, in the plastic train, of course.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Best Thing in the World

The Best Thing In The World is watching your twin babies laugh at each other.

When K first started noticing faces, he would sometimes sit and laugh at H.  H would just stare back, always being slower to laugh.  Then they went through phases that included smiling at each other, sticking their hands in each other's mouths, biting each other, (Directly related to the sticking-the-hand-in-the-mouth thing,) taking toys from each other and crying, taking toys and then taking them back, climbing on each other, shoving each other out of the way, using each other's heads as drums, etc.

Now, however, we have the laughing.  They sit in their high chairs and as the meal comes to a close, they look at each other and giggle back and forth.  In their side-by-side stroller, one will peek around the divider at the other and they will both laugh.  We have a piece of 'cat furniture' that has a tunnel at just the right height for them to stand at each end, look through, and poke and laugh at each other.  (Yes, we are crazy cat people.)  It is astounding.  I am in love.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Hate Sleep Training

Right now, the guys are in their cribs, crying.  :(

I really thought I wouldn't have to do this -- that they would magically start napping at regular, synchronized times.  They kind of magically started sleeping through the night, so . . .

No such luck.  They still nap 3-4 times a day, for 10-20 minutes at a time, often not at the same time as each other, and must be rocked to sleep.  I love rocking them to sleep.  Sure the housework was NEVER getting done, and hubby was having to cook dinner every night, but it was okay and temporary, right?

Well, two things have happened.
One, I got some work, and it involves phone calls that can't have babies running around in the background.
Two, the guys are getting crankier and crankier, and I think it's exhaustion.  Most babies at this time, from what I understand, are taking two naps of 1-2 hours a day.  My guys, I believe, just aren't getting enough sleep.

I have turned the volume down on the monitor so their wails sound less intense but I can still hear them.  I am also trying to mute my own crying.

I can see them in the video monitor.  I put them down when their eyes were droopy, after rocking them for about ten minutes.  They played for a while but now are angry. 

I know from experience that I hate how it feels when they give up and fall asleep.  I feel like they are learning that Mom won't always be there to comfort them, and I don't want them to learn that lesson ever. 

I know this is best for all of us.  I really tried to not do this, but I suppose there's a reason that everyone does.  Ugh.  Hopefully it will only take a couple of days, right?

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Babies are Wireless! (No more apnea monitors)

It's a big, big day for us.  Hubby is dropping off the apnea monitors at this very moment.  The TV trays next to the cribs are now empty and unneeded.  I'm a little weepy.

Okay, okay, I admit.  We wussed out and bought some of those over-the-counter monitors that have the mat under the crib mattress.  We know we will have a lot more false alarms, but feel we need this step to wean us off.

The truth is, really, that we haven't needed the monitors for at least three months now.  I went into every pediatrician appointment expecting him to say that it was time to get rid of the monitors, and every time Hubby and I would discuss how much we should fight to keep them.  Well, the pedi I was using wasn't super attentive about checking the records before seeing us, so he never realized we were still on the monitors and we never brought it up.  (We've changed pedi's partly for this reason.) 

Recently, however, we have realized we are done with the monitors.  The guys' skin has started reacting to the sensors, causing little rashes on their backs and on their chests.  We've gotten creative about where to place the sensors, which has led to false alarms.  We have realized that we do not react to the alarms the way we used to do.  We still go immediately to the nursery, but we don't leap up, heart racing, and run to the bedside.  Every time we go in there, the alarm is blaring and the kid is clearly breathing.

As much as it is has been nice to have this extra insurance against SIDS, the truth is that we no longer have an apnea problem, and the cords and sensors are causing problems for the guys.  Time to go.

Last night for the first time, we put jammies on the guys and put them to sleep without wires, tape, and beeps.  When K woke up wet in the middle of the night, I was able to change him and put clean jammies on him without fighting wires.  I didn't have to pull tape off their backs this morning.  Delicious!

When we were getting close to going home from the NICU, it was becoming apparent we would need to go home on monitors.  I remember seeing other families leave without monitors.  The nurse would take the wires off the babies and hand them to their parents.  Sometimes I would be so jealous I would cry.  I know it's awful, since I had so much to be thankful for, but I couldn't take it.  They wouldn't have to revive their babies.  They weren't hooked up to machines.  They were taking home 'regular' babies that were born early.  I knew that when we took our guys home, we would not be bringing home unfettered guys.  I dreaded the moment when I would take off their hospital monitors and put on the home monitors for the drive home.  I hated the moment I had to put the home monitors on them. 

As we needed the monitors less, however, we started to like them more.  When the guys only needed them at night so we could have them out and about during the day without worries, that was the big turnaround for me.  Until that point, I felt like the guys had to stay in their cribs and felt imprisoned in the nursery.  For the past four months, however, we only hooked them up at night and it was so blissful to know that if anything happened to them that we would immediately know.

It's a bittersweet day, but it is way past time and I am ready.  We now have wireless babies.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Grocery Shopping Encounters

Here are three unfortunate encounters with other people I recently had when shopping with my guys:

First, I was with Hubby and the guys, when a woman approached us.  The woman was older- probably mid-sixties, and totally blinged out.  She wore big, multi-stoned rings, multiple necklaces, and had bright hot-pink nail polish that any nine year old girl would be proud to wear.  She approached us the way people usually do:  "Oh how adorable.  Twins?"  Then she TOUCHED them. Most people seem to know better.  Nobody pitched a fit because of her rings.  Both boys were in awe of the shiny sparklies on her hands.  As K gingerly fingered a particularly large ring, the woman proceeded to tell me, "When I was young and five months pregnant, my ex-husband punched me in the stomach.  After that I had three more miscarriages, but I've always loved kids."

Okay, that is a horrible sequence of events in her life, and I am not making light of it at all.  Who tells this story to someone they've just met at the grocery, though?  Seriously.  It put me off my day.

On a separate occasion, I was leaving the grocery store with my guys in the cart, and a man shouted out to me, "You shouldn't have these babies out in this heat!"  Really, Sir?  Really?  I blew it off like he was kidding, but I don't think he was. 

On even a different occasion, I was going through the checkout line, when the neighboring checker ran out of customers and turned her attention toward us.  By this time, I was tired and cranky, and so were the guys.  She didn't touch them, but she was right in their faces.  I'm just hoping we can get checked out and out of there.  (Plus, by the way, I really had to pee, and couldn't get the sopping cart with the guys into the restroom so was practically floating.  This did nothing to improve my mood.)  Well, K noticed her glasses and reached for them.  She let him touch them, then pulled them away.

He started to scream.

Now, K has something I call the Omen scream.  It literally sounds like four voices yelling at once.  I have no idea how he does it.  The first couple times I heard it, I checked him all over for broken bones, bites, bumps, positive that he was in agony.  Now I'm somewhat used to it, as it is just the sound he makes when he is angry.  This is the scream he pulled on the lady at the grocery store.

Is it wrong to be happy about this? 

My kid was screaming, but not hurt or anything.  The lady was beside herself, thinking she had done something terrible.  I thought two things.  One was a mental congratulations to K for letting her know she was annoying him.  The other was that she will think twice before poking at someone's baby next time.  I picked him up and he stopped crying instantly.  We all enjoyed water on the ride home, and I enjoyed their nap as I put away the groceries.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

NAFTA - Newborn Animal Free Toy Agreement

I recently had some at-home work, and will soon write about my experiences trying to get work done with two tots who are fascinated by my laptop.  Today, however, I would like to discuss the Newborn-Animal Free Toy Agreement.

Help!  Our Superyard has finally expanded to encompass the entire living room.  No longer are my little ones content to stay in a playpen-like area, no matter how large, for any length of time.  The living room in its entirety is now the baby play area. 

We have the entertainment center blocked off, the fireplace cushioned, the outlets safety-fied.  As long as Dad and I are careful to not leave things on the coffee table, the living room is a safe place where everyone can happily play, as long as Mom doesn't have the audacity to go to another room for a minute.

The only problem is this is the dog's play area as well.  I have not been able to find a way to convince either the dog or the boys that some of the colorful toys on the ground belong to one, while the other colorful toys belong to the other.  The kids and the dog are, naturally, more than happy to share their things. 

Besides the gross-out factor, however, there are other issues with this.  First off, there is always a little concern that the dog will not take kindly to the boys matter-of-factly taking a toy out of his mouth.  So far this hasn't been a problem, but it is always a worry.  Secondly, the dog toys often have buttons and pieces that can come off and will not be safe for babies.  Thirdly, the baby toys do not hold up to dog chewing, meaning our lovely set wood blocks that we searched for no less than 45 minutes at our local Target to find is now short about five blocks. 

The biggest concern, however, is that as the dog destroys both his toys and the guys' toys, he leaves behind shrapnel.  I constantly scour the floor for splinters, bits of stuffed animal stuffing, shards of chewed plastic, resin eyeballs just the right size for swallowing, etc. 

Right now I separate the play area by timing.  When the boys are in play mode, the dog is barricaded out of the living room.  When the boys wind down to cuddle/nap or are eating, he has free reign.  I still have to comb the carpet, however, each time I put the guys down to play.  Otherwise, I find them happily squeaking on an AKC toy duck or investigating a piece of toy innards.


Monday, July 19, 2010

So Hard to Say Goodbye to the Food Processor

I think I may be accidentally holding the guys back a little on their eating.  They are 10 1/2 months old, but their adjusted age is 7 1/2.  I've been looking up what an 'on track' eight month old is supposed to eat, and we're so not there.

Is this a side effect of making food at home?  Maybe.  Without those little jars with the ages and the pictures of kids at different stages, it is too easy to keep doing the same old thing.

Three times a day, they each get about three tablespoons of food and a bottle.  Twice a day they just get bottles.  While I've been trying to ensure we keep expanding what foods they eat, I have not been changing the texture of their foods.  I have been pureeing all of it into something between a stage one and stage two consistency.  Recently we added little finger foods like cereal puffs, cheerios and biter biscuits.  I stand close by, finger at the ready to scoop food out of the back of a little throat at the slightest sign of trouble!

According to the AAP, at eight months they should be getting about a cup and a half of food 3x daily, two snacks that can be either formula or finger foods, and should be in the process of being weaned off of bottles altogether.  They are supposed to be learning to feed themselves.  By a year, they should be off the bottle entirely, and be eating like a toddler -- cold cuts, cheese squares, fruit bits.  What!?!?  But . . . But . . . They're babies!

I just worry so much about them choking.  After all, they don't have back teeth!  Plus, I have taken much comfort in knowing that they are getting the nutrition they need from their formula.  It's scary for me to start relying on foods.  I think this is going to be a much more difficult transition for me than it is for them.

To jump start myself, I put the food processor in the cupboard last week.  When baby food day came around. I cooked the snot out of everything so it would be plenty soft in their little mouths, but I used a hand masher to mash up their foods to a much more chunky consistency than I was getting with the food processor.  I even cut up some of their carrots and apples so they can start learning to feed themselves at meal times.  Up to now, the little cereal puffs and such have been more like a game we give them to play.

So far, the finger foods really don't make it into their mouths much.  Despite my constant worry about the chunkier baby food, however, the guys are taking it like champs and don't even seem to notice the difference. 

Now I need to concentrate on beefing up the amount of food they get. I am hoping that as they eat more food, they will naturally start reducing the amount of formula they want.  I give them bottles after the food.  I'm not sure about introducing water at mealtimes, how that works. 

In short, I don't know how to make the transition from bottles to food at all!  The books seem to skim over that part.  I imagine I will muddle through, but would have appreciated some guidelines.

Meanwhile, I need to start feeding them proteins.  I have some chicken cooked up and suppose that will need to be pureed, so the food processor will be making another appearance.  Can I resist the urge to zap the carrots in it for a second?  Only time will tell.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The 'Mango as Finger-Food' Experiment

Hypothesis:  Two babies who enjoy mashed mango and feeding themselves cereal puffs will greatly enjoy feeding themselves mango bits.

Experiment Group:  Twin Boys H and K

Method:  Cut ripe mango into bite-sized bits.  Present to babies on booster seat trays.  Observe while preparing mashed sweet potatoes and bottles.

  1. K is uninterested in feeding himself bits of mango.
  2. The dog is uninterested in eating bits of mango that have fallen onto the kitchen floor.
  3. It appeared H was enjoying the mango, but further inspection revealed a pile of mango bits discarded on the chair beside him.
  4. The dog remains uninterested in assisting with the cleanup efforts, which is a distinct departure from previous food experiments.
  5. Despite thorough wipedowns with a damp cloth, babies remain sticky until bath time.
Conclusion:  Try the carrots next time

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Why Taking this Picture Made Me Cry

It's just a couple of car seats, right?  Why did taking this picture reduce me to a wet blubbery mess? 

It's because of another picture.  The pic in question was taken way back before diapers, strollers, and pediatricians - before midnight feedings, unexplained rashes, and apnea monitors - before the heart wrenching three months in the nicu, the terrifying night in the hospital, and the agonizing weeks of bedrest leading up to it - before the first glowing months, the elation, the nausea and sore joints happily endured.

Four days before our recommended pregnancy test date, we gave in to the urge and I peed on a stick.  It showed two lines.  I peed on another stick.  Another two lines.  We kept buying sticks and orange juice, and I kept peeing.  The results were all the same, and we wound up with several pictures like this one:
This isn't the picture.

Blood tests confirmed a strong pregnancy.  After a few weeks, I went in for my first ultrasound.  I had much experience with ovary ultrasounds, but none with pregnancy ultrasounds.  Still, when I saw two distinct black pockets in the sea of grey, I had an inkling what that meant.  My heart stopped as the ultrasound nurse said, "Here's your twins.  They look fine.  I'm just checking to see if there's a third baby in there."  The room was silent for a little bit, then Hubby said, "Wait, you're not kidding?  It's really twins?"  Apparently it was obvious from my blood tests, so the nurse thought we already knew.  I will always remember that day, which gave us this photo:
This is not the picture that makes me cry.

Later that day, Hubby said that I had not stopped smiling.  He had never seen me look so happy.  I said, "I'm having two babies!"  He took a photo of me, to always remember my "having two babies" smile.
Despite the desperate unflattering-ness of the photo, it is not the one that makes me weepy.

This one is.

I believe this picture was taken two days after the ultrasound.  Suddenly we needed things.  Strollers, cribs, changing table, a larger place to live . . . the list seemed endless.  We knew, however, that hospitals don't let you take the babies home unless you have a car seat.  Hubby found a sale and we bought these.  It was in this moment, seeing the infant seats unpacked in our apartment, that we began to realize that we were going to be parents.  After all these years, it was going to happen. 

Up to this point, we had spent TONS of money trying to get pregnant, and had made lifestyle changes to support a pregnancy.  We had not, however, bought anything or prepared anything for any actual babies.  The moment we made this purchase was the moment our life changed.  From this point on, everything we do is for or about the babies in some way . 

Now the boys are outgrowing this first purchase.  As I unpacked our new car seats, I remember the day we bought the first pair.  We knew we were embarking on a difficult yet wonderful journey, but we really could not have anticipated all that would transpire over the next year and a half.  We did not yet know our little men, or even that they were little men.  We did not even know if my body would accept a pregnancy, never having been through one. 

So much has happened during the life of those infant seats.  I wonder what experiences the new car seats will see us through.