Friday, May 28, 2010

Surgery Went Well!

Kal already seems to feel like nothing happened.  Mom stayed with me until both boys fell asleep, then headed home.  Tonight the boys and I are going to pick hubby up at the airport.  I made it through two weeks of full-time mommyhood!

Kal was really good all morning.  He wasn't allowed to eat anything after 3:00 a.m., so I set my alarm and got up at 2:30 to give him a bottle.  I was afraid of waking Henry, and didn't know how Kal would react to being woken up in the middle of the night.  Turns out there was no need to worry.  I got him out of his crib, sat in the rocking chair in the nursery and fed him a bottle by the light of the night-light.  I put him back in his crib, he tucked his knees up under himself and stuck his tush in the air.  He didn't make a peep or even open his eyes throughout the whole process!

I was glad I did the middle of the night feeding, because Kal was relatively happy when we got to the doc's office this morning.  He smiled at everyone and was charming.  He started to get cranky after we got him changed into his little hospital gown.  The hospital brought over a little TV and put on a Clifford movie, which satisfied him for a bit, but then he just became miserable.  Not only did he have to wake up early and skip breakfast, he is breaking a top tooth through and I wasn't allowed to give him Motrin.  I rocked him to sleep, and they came to get him.

This is where I broke down.  Those of us who spent a lot of time in the NICU become hardened to a certain extent to medical processes on our kids.  I've seen my boys through rounds of blood draws, transfusions, spinal taps, IVs, skin reactions to the IV adhesives, and I saw them through the time where merely being touched and awake was painful to them.  You hate it, but you know it is unavoidable and for their health so you deal.  I guess those emotional callouses have worn off, because when the took my sleeping baby from my arms and I saw him wake, confused, on the way to the operating room I completely broke down crying.  I pulled myself together quickly, waited a very short amount of time for the doc to report that all went well, then waited a longer time for Kal to recover.  Finally called back.  I was greeted by a very sad-faced bloody nosed Kal and had to fight to hold it together.  I greeted him with my brightest smile, promptly fed him a bottle and thankfully had him laughing by the time they let us go home.

Now he and Henry are fighting over toys.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Kal's Eye Surgery Tomorrow

"Surgery" is a grand term for it, I suppose.  It is a minor thing, but of course it does not feel minor to me.  I take Kal in at 7:30 tomorrow morning to have an operation that will open up his blocked tear duct.  Mom is coming tonight after work and will stay the night and tomorrow morning to sit Henry while Kal and I are at the hospital.

I so don't want to do this while the husband is out of town.  Unfortunately, this is when it must be done.  The surgery center had an opening.  He will, apparently, stop getting eye infections after this.

He can't have anything to eat or drink after 3:00 a.m., so I'll be getting up at 2:30 to feed him one last bottle.  This will, of course, not keep him from being miserable and screaming all morning before the surgery.  I forgot to ask how soon after I'll be able to feed him.  I'm scared.  It is, after all, his eye.  Bad things always seem to happen when the husband is out of town, and I'm painfully superstitious.

To top it off, I have to pick up the hubby at the airport tomorrow night at ten.  My mom will have already been here a full day, so I'm not going to ask the folks to stay and watch the guys.  I'll pick my sleeping babies up out of their cribs and place them in their car seats to go pick up daddy.  He'll be thrilled to see them, and hopefully they'll pretty much sleep through the whole ordeal.  I imagine they'll be cranky on Saturday, but with top teeth coming in that was pretty much inevitable in any case.

I'll just be glad when it's Saturday, the hubby is back in town, surgery is over, and life is back to normal -- except for mother in law's visit.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cranial Band Progress

Kal went in to have an adjustment on his cranial band.  He's had it for two months now.  His 'roundness ratio' is now 71%.  We understand that normal can be as low as 72%, so we were hoping this part of our journey would be over.

Turns out our goal is 78%, so he's probably going to be wearing it another couple of months.  I told the husband this (he, of course, is out of town.)  He said, "But he's already been wearing it two months."  I reminded him that four months was what we expected.  He said, "No, they told us two months."  Laughing, I pointed out that WE told each other it would probably be two months.  The docs always said 3-4.  Somehow we thought our son would excel at head growing.   

The band is starting to bother him, and he pulls at it sometimes.  His brother loves to grab hold of it and yank, leading Kal to scream bloody murder every time and mom comes running into the room expecting to find broken bones and blood.  Overall, though, it's not bad.  He doesn't complain when we put it on, unless we do it awkwardly and it pinches him.  When he's in a good mood he doesn't notice it at all.  It's just when he's tired and cranky already that he hates it.

A Word About Bibs

It's much easier just to take your kids' shirts off before feeding them.  Have bibs on hand, but a warm washcloth wipedown after a topless feeding (kids topless, for you shirt is optional) can be a nice part of the feeding ritual.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Whew! Rough day!

Both boys are working on their front top teeth -- I don't think they're coming in this week, but they sure are causing problems!  That, combined with whatever meant yesterday neither guy felt much like napping.  They became increasingly uncomfortable and crabby as the day went on.  (As did their mom!)  By the end of the day, they were miserable.  A couple of bottles, some oatmeal with fruit, and a good bout of group snuggling finally led them to snooze and restored all of our good humors.  All's well that ends well, but here's hoping they return to their usual well-napped, cheerful baby selves today.

P.S. -- Kal, for the first time, got all the way up on his hands and knees.  It wasn't elbows and knees this time.  Crawling is imminent!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Silly Thing a Mom of a Singleton Said

A receptionist at my doctor's office was due around the same time I was due -- just one baby.  She carried to term and I didn't, so my boys are older than her girls technically, but gestational/developmentally they're at the same age.

A couple of weeks ago I visited the doc, and the receptionist and I did the small talk thing about our kids.  She said, "Oh, I miss the days when she was so tiny and new." 

I agreed because that's what you do in small talk, but really?  I can't say that I do miss those days.  Don't get me wrong.  The time when they were bitty after first coming home will always have a special place in my heart, and I wouldn't trade any of it.  On the other hand, I wouldn't go back there for anything.  Perhaps it is a twin thing.  Perhaps it is a preemie thing. 

Our first month or so home, the boys were absolutely precious.  The days were filled with awe and love for these two new little ones in our lives.  The days were also, however, filled with worry, confusion, and of course very little sleep.  Afraid for their fragile immune systems, we continued washing our hands cracked and bloody.  We wiped down every surface with bleach constantly.  We sequestered the boys to their nursery for the most part, attached to their monitors, and banished the pets to the other part of the house.  Nothing touched or came near them unless it had been washed in dye- and perfume-free detergent and rinsed twice.  Air filters protected their lungs from any stray pet hair that may come into the room.  Gradually we had to separate ourselves from the care dictates of the NICU, working out what worked for us.  Even when the boys slept, I didn't.  I was constantly on alert in case their apnea alarms went off. 

Are they pooping enough?  Are they pooping too much?  Is it too hard?  Too soft?  Wrong color?  Are they eating enough?  Are we feeding them too much?  Too often?  Too seldom? 

Newborn babies don't have a 'happy.'  They have a 'content' and a 'crying.'  You know you are doing things right if they are not crying, but they really don't express pleasure until their first smiles arrive after a few weeks.

Now we have confidence as parents.  We have gotten to know our little men and can work together as a family to anticipate and fulfill their needs.  Things are no less busy, but the constant fear and anxiety has given way to delight as the boys started laughing, then babbling, then scooting.

What it comes down to, in the end, is that I am totally in love with the little people our boys are becoming.  Every day they develop more personality, learn something new, or surprise me in some way.  Yes, they were beautiful as tiny ones who depended on us for everything.  I would not, however, trade these interesting little fellows for anything in the world, even their former selves.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Word About the Boppy (and other such feeding pillows)

We happen to have the Boppy brand pillows and have been happy with them, but I see no reason that any other similar brand wouldn't work just as well.  If you are or have been pregnant, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  If you have yet to enter the world of pregnancy, or are just filling out your first registry, you may be as clueless as I was.  Boppy is a brand name of pillows, but when people talk about a 'Boppy,' they are referring to these funny horseshoe shaped pillows.  The idea is you wrap the open end around you and rest your baby on the pillow for easier feeding.

I know positively nobody who actually uses the Boppy in this way.  I will say, however, that it is an indispensable item for those of us with twins. 

When the boys were tiny, I tried to use the Boppy as suggested, and didn't see the appeal.  I also tried out a suggestion from another mother of multiples.  placed the pillow beside me on the sofa and used it to safely and snuggly contain a little one while the other ate.  No go.  Completely unimpressed with the thing, I put both of them in the nursery closet along with my abandoned breast pump, bottles that didn't work out, and diapers that weren't cutting the mustard. 

Cut to three months later.  The boys are doing well on their tummies and are trying to hold their heads up.  I bring out a Boppy pillow.  The pillow propped up my boys' shoulders when they were placed face down on it.  The horseshoe part kept them stable and they were able to practice lifting their heads and looking around.  As they became adept at this, the pillows became unnecessary and were once again exiled to the closet of unused baby items. 

Cut to another month and a half later.  The boys are working on sitting up on their own.  They hold their heads up no problem and are learning to scoot around, preparing to crawl.  This is also the time my husband goes back to work and I must feed both boys solo on a daily basis.  Feeding one after the other becomes time prohibitive.  I can feed them in their stroller, but our nice double stroller starts to become gross with food bits that are difficult to clean off.  I pull out the horseshoe pillows.  By sitting on the ground in front of the pillows, with each boy propped in one like it's a little recliner, I am able to hold a bottle in each one's mouth.  Although not as emotionally satisfying as holding a guy in my arms, this actually allows them more arm freedom to explore holding their own bottles.  I can also feed them cereal and mashed veggies in this position, and the pillow cover can be removed and washed as needed. 

I now use the pillows constantly.  The boys can sit up, but topple sideways.  Sitting them up in one of these pillows allows them to work on strengthening their cores while their hands are free to practice picking up toys.  Placing toys on top of the pillow and setting it a few paces away from the boys forces them to learn not only to scoot forward, but also to reach up to grab the toy.  If you can get them interested in a toy on the other side of the Boppy, they will scoot over the top of the pillow in a pose that is remarkably like crawling. 

My point, if you are still with me, is that you may not use these pillows as prescribed, but they are so incredibly useful for parents of twins.  You have two kids and two hands, but that is not really an equal ratio.  Get yourself a couple of these pillows, and a mound of covers.  (All of mine are constantly orange from carrot stains.)  Use them creatively and they can be a cherished friend.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Our first Major Outing as Three

First, an introduction.  My boys are now 8 1/2 months old.  They are 5 1/2 months adjusted age, since they were born three months early.  They spent their first three months in the hospital, so they have been home just over five months.  The husband was off work for a while but recently returned, leaving me to care for the boys on my own during the day.

It finally happened.  The boys and I made a multi-stop trip together just the three of us.  We had two doctors' appointments with a two hour gap in between.  I don't know what I was thinking.  This was not enough time to come home between, since we live in the boonies, but was way too much time to just drive around.  The boys' feeding time was also during this break between appointments.  I figured this would be a good time to introduce them to the fine dining that is the local sandwich shop.  I can have lunch and they can have bottles, and everyone's happy, right?

It went fairly smoothly!  The first doc appointment went off without a hitch.  We had been there before and the boys were fed, changed, and happy when we left the house.  They slept most of the way there, and sat quietly in their double stroller during the appointment.  Afterwards, there was a minimum of squirming and fussing as I strapped them back into their car seats and took off for the sandwich shop. 

Here's where things went a little awry.  I chose location poorly.  First off, the place was thick with little old ladies who wish to ooh, ahh, and poke at the boys.  Flashing my friendliest tense smile, I dodged the bulk of would-be cheek pinchers.  As I approached the ordering station, I realized a second mistake.  This place has a tiny narrow walkway to the register.  I bumped and banged the boys along, hitting the aisle on both sides and brushing up against more than one butt with the handles.  I lost my cupholder no less than three times, spilling my keys and hair tie each time, until the third when the keys dropped miraculously into the side pouch of the stroller, where they stayed.  Having placed my order, I bumped my way along the aisle to the get-your-own-drink fountain.  This is the third flaw in my choice of establishment.  I apologetically shove everyone out of the way as the boys and I take up the whole spot in front of the fountain.  I fill my cup with Mountain Dew and we bump our way along to the tables, only sloshing a little bit of Dew on the ground.

I get to a table and throw my daiper sherpa bag on the neigboring table.  A busboy wipes off the table and adjusts the chairs so I can fit my stroller.  I am grateful.  Then, they call my name.  This is the most agregious error in restaurant choice.  Never again shall I eat at a place where they call your name and you have to go back up to the counter to pick up your food.  I get up and take hold of the stroller handles.  At this point, the busboy offers to watch the boys for me. 

I am surprised at how many strangers offer to watch the kids.  Who do they think I'm protecting the kids from?  I don't know this guy from Adam.  I'm sure people are just being nice, but really!  If you like, I'll hold your car keys for you.  If you want to let me in your house, I'll make sure nobody robs it.  I thank the guy but decline.  We then bump our way past all the people getting drinks, back to the counter where it dawns on me I have no idea how to carry a cobb salad while pushing a double stroller.  Thankfully, the manager offered to carry my food for me.

Back at the table, I mix up a couple of bottles and feed the boys, taking occasional bites of my salad and gulping the Dew.  This part went as planned, with a few stops for polite conversation with onlookers.  "They're 8 months old."  "Nope, they're not identical."  "Ha-ha, yes quite a handful!"  I then cleaned us up and eyed the narrow hallway to the ladies room.  I opted instead to bump our way out of the restaurant, losing my cupholder one last time, and changed the guys in the car.

Next stop was a new doctor.  They were the belles of the ball, as they were in post-eating good humor.  They giggled at each other and generally made everyone fall in love with them.  The double stroller wouldn't fit through the door to the exam rooms, though, so we pretty much had to monopolize three nurses the whole time so someone could hold a baby while the other was being tended.  I love the new pediatrician so it was worth it, but I'm going to have to figure something out so I have someplace to put a baby when in the exam room.

After shots, late on the next feeding and having missed a nap, the boys were much less charming as we left the doctor's office.  I strapped them into their stroller, took them to the car, transferred them from stroller to car seats as everyone screamed, loaded up the stroller and finally turned the car on and headed for home.  The blessed quiet of car-ride induced sleep filled the car.  We made it home, had bottles and mashed bananas, and went down for a good nap.

All this by two in the afternoon.