Thursday, December 29, 2011

Babies VS Baby

Having twins is interesting in many ways. I won't go into the hard stuff because I've said enough about that for now. There is good stuff too.


First, there is always a baby to compare to. Whenever I worry one is too hot or something is wrong or I've done something to cause their baby acne or eczema or mis-shapen head, there is another baby to compare to and that allows me to temper my self-criticisms a bit. If one is screaming I can often look over at the other and feel some relief that it's not me being bad Mom, it's just different babies have different needs and issues.


Second, I love seeing the same developments and actions in each. Things that I may have thought so unique or individual to a single baby, I see mirrored in both and I realize it's not them, it's babies in general, which is really cool. I LOVE seeing the exact same expression or movement in a totally different face. It's beautiful.... the way they look as they struggle to wake up, how they purse their lips, how they peer at you out of one eye when tired, how they wiggle their hands in the air as they nurse, how they give tiny flickering smiles as they fall asleep.

Third, because it is impossible to do all this on my own, I'm learning to share the load and trust others with what is most precious to me. Andrew is amazing with them and I may not have given him the chances to prove this with just one. There is always a baby to hold and always someone to share my thoughts and delights with. I love being able to talk about them in detail any time of the day with my Mom during the week or my husband on weekends.

And there will be more good stuff I'm sure as time goes by.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hard Won Motherhood

If I could say it better, I would but I can't. Here, Tertia Albertyn describes so well what I've experienced of motherhood after infertility.
http://www.tertia.org/so_close/2005/01/a_bit_of_honest.html


After mentioning to Andrew that I felt guilty about not being perfectly, completely content with motherhood after wanting it soo much for soo long, he said he didn't think it worked that way. We didn't earn any precious special status by going through infertility, we don't get a guarantee of happiness or an extra dose of patience or confidence..... we just get to join the ranks of every other new parent of TWINS.


Of course I feel it was all worth it. I'm incredibly grateful to have both Samson and Rachel. AND it is so incredibly hard having two tiny ones.

But finally, finally I think we've turned a corner. Things are just easier this week and it's due to several factors:
1. I've learned to sleep fast. When I go to bed I'm now able to sleep for a couple of hours rather than agonize or toss and turn for an hour and then only get an hour of sleep before I have to be up again. This means I often get anywhere from 6 - 8 hours of sleep a day. WOOHOO!
2. Both Rachel and Samson are a little more predictable, interactive and HAPPY! They both make great eye contact and laugh and smile at you when you talk to them. This is what I envisioined when I thought about the joys of motherhood; standing over cooing babies. They are wonderful!! Rachel and I chatted on and off for an hour this morning as she hung out in her cradle. It was heavenly.
3. Sir-Samson-Screams-a-Lot is not so screamy at night. It could be the reflux medication working. It could be he's just older and not in so much pain from the gas. It could be we're reading his signals better. Whatever the case, the past several nights have had hours less screaming time. This is good for everyone.
4. I am less anxious and more capable. I know both Samson and Rachel better and am more confident that I can meet their needs....not at the exact same time necessarily, but I can meet them. Plus I'm doing more around the house, which makes me feel more normal.
5. I'm accepting the way things are and learning to let go of what I wish it could be or think it should be. My babies are cared for and loved as I want them to be....not always by me but by someone who loves them. That is what is important. And I have to trust that it isn't damaging them when it's not me who comforts them or meets their needs. I have to trust that it is all working out exactly as it should be.

And things will continue to change, sooner than later as the babes are getting too big for my Mom to do everything she has been doing. Samson is 10lbs!! He's more than doubled his birth weight. Rachel is looking more and more delicate next to him. She's only around 9lbs and getting darker and darker every week as her hair grows in. Both still have lovely blue eyes and I wonder when they'll change.

I look forward to the changes they will go through over the next year and anticipate enjoying interacting with them more and more as I grow into this role and figure out how it defines me....and how it doesn't.

I look forward to them recognizing each other. Right now it's like they are an extention of each other and just like they don't recognize their own hands, they don't recognize each other as a separate entity except for the odd moments. It's amazing how one can be screaming and the other sound asleep 8 inches away. I wonder when that will change. :(

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Two months old!

Wow, they are two months old. Amazing how they've changed already. I love the changes too!

Samson has become quite the reliable happy morning baby. He is quite content to talk to his mobile and then sit in the bouncy chair in the kitchen while I have breakfast. He has great faces and expressions and lots of smiles for his Mama after a feed. (Except at night. Quite reliably he's a poor miserable soul in the evenings. :( )I am getting in the habit of taking him to bed at night after feeds as he will fall a sleep reliably in my arms but not so reliably in the crib. And at 2:30am I want sleeping babies.

Rachel is quite a beauty and it's not just me who thinks so. :) She's a smily one but isn't super engaged with you directly as she's so busy looking around the room. She is generally an easy sleeper and will happily fall asleep at night when you leave her in the crib awake. Rachel waves her arms around sometimes with her hands extended twisting delicately through the air. Andrew calls it her interpretive dance. Rachel loves to fall asleep in your arms during the day.

Both Sam and Rachel love to look at their mobile and talk to it and wave their arms around. Both are getting stonger and can hold their heads up for quite a while. Both have really sweet little hand motions when they are nursing. Both can go from zero to Oh- my-God-I'm-going-to-die when they are hungry, particularly at night, particularly Samson. This can be quite disturbing!

We have had one outing with just us 3. We went to the mall to meet up with 2 other twin moms yesterday. We were quite the spectacle all 9 of us. Getting out of the house is the challenge, once out the babies are generally quite happy to sleep in the noisy, foreign environment. I intend to do this at least once a week....I just need help getting out of the house. Thank goodness my Mom is still here to help.

That's what's new here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Long odd nights

Last night was a long one but strangely enough I think I got 7 hours sleep... all broken into 45 min and 1 hour segments but 7 hours none-the-less. WHOOHOO!

The babes were off sync because Samson was super upset around 11 so I chose to nurse him. That put him off of the normal schedule by a full hour and a half. So all night long one or the other was just waking or just going to sleep. Thank goodness there were 3 of us last night!

Friday, December 9, 2011

8 Weeks!

It's amazing to me that Samson and Rachel are nearly 2 months old already (5 weeks corrected).

We've progressed amazingly with breastfeeding. Latching is not an issue now....keeping them awake to do a whole feed sometimes is. However, I'm just this week able to now solely breastfeed one and generally I provide them enough that they don't need a top up of formula. YAYAY! This is an amazing accomplishment that I had nearly given up on.

Last week I finally let myself off the hook regarding breastfeeding. I'm no longer agonizing over whether the baby has fully drained the breast or exactly how much time they spend on each and I'm not actively trying to increase my supply. This has greatly reduced my stress. I don't pump religiously and I'm not worrying over how long they go between feeds as much. So far they're generally feeding every 3 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night. But every so often they go 5 hours and we LOOOOVE those nights/days. If my supply totally dries up by doing this, well, I gave it my very best shot and at least they had breastmilk for these first 8, most important weeks. I even caught a cold from Andrew this week so they've got all those antibodies too. :) Bright side!!

Speaking of the bright side, I'm slowing regaining my longer term perspective on things. Each day is not quite as isolated as it was and I'm able to lift my head and see longer term.

The babies will not always be this needy and in fact they will very shortly be very different. In spite of the challenges I've faced with feeling like the Mom and bonding, we're getting closer all the time and these challenges are normal, especially with twins whom you have half the time with.

This time last year I was so sad in so many ways. I was hopeful but also sinking frequently into despair at ever having a family and being a Mom. Oh how relieved I would have been had I known a year later I'd be drowning in babies....babies, babies everywhere.

We have our special challenges but the most important things are going well. Babies are growing well, both get breastmilk, both get held when they cry, and we're doing all we can to care for Sam's special sensitivities. I'm hopeful he'll grow out of his reflux and gas pains in a few more weeks. And Christmas is coming!!

Christmas is such a nostalgic time for me and this year will be even more special with our two little miracles. I bought them matching Baby's first Christmas tree ornaments and we'll get stockings soon.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Week by Week

We're still taking this new life one day, one week at a time. Every day is similar but not exactly the same. Here's what some of the past weeks have brought us.


Week 5: Rachel started crying real tears. That's heartbreaking to see in such a tiny one, especially in the middle of the night when you're making her wait until her brother is done breastfeeding. Rough!


Week 6: Samson made eye contact and smiled right at me in response. What a great moment!

Week 7: Rachel looked at me and smiled in response. YAY! My girl knows me too.

Week 7: Samson did a complete breastfeed feeding without needing a top up. YAY! I can feed my children.

I'm still refining my nicknames for them. I love nicknames and so far I'm using the following:
Pirate Sam, Sam-my-son, Little love
Ray-Mikay, Budda baby, Rachel belcher, Pinky, Sweet cheeks
Of course they are both: Love, cutie pie, and my perfect boy/girl....when they aren't screaming.

Both babies are gassy and the past 3 weeks have had some rough nights. This should be against the universal contract of twins. It's awful having two screaming babies in the evening that you can't settle or calm.

Very early one morning this weekend after a wakeful night as we were both crawling back into bed, hopefully for an hours sleep, Andrew said, "Don't you want to do this again with just one?!"
I said, "We totally need to have another ONE. What a freaking cakewalk that would be!"

I know it's never easy to deal with a crying baby and people with one struggle too. It's the same struggle. However, at least with one, you know their energy reserves are limited to about a 5 hours stretch and then they'll collapse in exhaustion and you'll get some sleep.

With two, it's very possible to be up all night long with one or the other. And it's not as though your patience and energy reserves are replenished when you pick up the second one after settling the first. I have no idea how anyone does this alone! But maybe they have perfect babies who don't cry and sleep well from day one. That is not our lot. Rachel is pretty easy to get to sleep and relatively a relaxed happy baby. Samson struggles a lot with gas and every night cries for quite a while.

So we take each night as it comes and spell each other off. And if I get 2 hours of sleep in a row it feels like an incredible reward.

Gotta go cat nap now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Becomming the Momma

I am slowly feeling more like the Momma in this new scenario we're living in. I think it's strange that it's taking time and yet a lot of new Moms say the same thing. From before they were born I felt incredibly connected to these two, very concerned about their well-being, wanting and willing to do anything for them.

As soon as they were born I felt that even more so. Very concerned and responsible for them.....but it was terribly complicated by being separated from them for 2.5 days. It felt surreal. Were they really born? Are they really here? If so, where are they? Why aren't they in my arms 24 hours a day? It was aweful. Then we got home and everything kind of fell apart. The incredible team that Andrew and I were in the hospital grew to include my Mom and Dad and their opinions and expectations, influence and judgements and I went to bed to recuperate and also succumb to a terrible infection.

Oh those first few weeks home feel lost to me. I lost so many opportunities to bond, lost my confidence, lost my sense of self as Momma. And my fear and anxiety grew and grew as I lay there hoping they wouldn't cry and need me to bear the torture of breastfeeding them when I couldn't care for myself. What a sad beginning.

I don't want to wish away these weeks of them being so small. And at the same time I so look forward to them being just a bit older, stronger, bigger, more interactive.

One morning Rachel slept in my arms on the couch and I trimmed her tiny fingernails. That's something a Momma does. It felt good.

One afternoon I took Samson with me for a coffee date with another twin Mom. It was so nice being out with my baby, showing him off. That's something a Momma does.

The more time that goes by, the more I feel like the Momma but it sure is taking time. As they interact more and more, I connect more with them and that is such a gift. Diaper changes are fun now, not full of screaming. Baths are fun and we take our time with them, instead of rushing so they don't get too angry. Thank God for change, it's a gift.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Unbelievably Beautiful

My children are unbelievably beautiful to me. It's amazing how their faces are so utterly perfect in my eyes. I realize they may not appear that way to everyone but I don't know how others could not see their perfect beauty.

Here is a classic Samson pose. He's resisting a burp after I nursed him. Poor little guy! I can just read his thoughts "make the thumping stop!"

Me and Rachel on a sunny afternoon.

Classic Rachel pose; fast asleep and stretched out. Look at those chipmunk cheeks!

My beautiful boy all relaxed after nursing.

Me and Samson.

Sleeping Sam. Those cheeks keep getting bigger.

My two beauties.




I'm feeling better these days, feeling more confident, feeling more like myself. And life is starting to normalize a bit.

Samson and Rachel are both getting a bit bigger, and a little easier to predict. I'm not as scared about not being able to meet their needs because I've now have more experience of being able to do so.


Andrew and I have had two weekends where it's just us at home. We do nothing but care for babies and sleep. And there have been a couple times where I felt pretty anxious that a screaming Samson would never sleep. But we made it through and gained experience and were grateful for more sleep when my Mom returned to help during the week.


Samson has had 24 hours now with very little crying....that's a record. I'm hopeful that his reflux and gas pains are getting a bit better as he gets just a bit older. We was awake and happy for 2.5 hours today. YAY!!


Samson recognizes me now. I LOVE that! I love that he hears my voice and calms down. That makes me feel like the Momma more than anything else so far.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Can't Win for Losing

Sometimes you just can't win for losing.

This past week I've been trying to build up my milk supply. I'd like the babies to get as much breastmilk as possible and keep the topups with formula to a minimum. So I started taking domperidone last week.

It has a very bad effect on my bowels....an area of weakness for me in the best of times and a situation that already was tenuous after being on wicked antibiotics for 10 days. I have to stop taking it or I'm going to be in real trouble.

I'm losing weight like crazy and that's a bad thing. I ended the pregnancy around 154 lbs. Two weeks later I was 130lbs and my stomach was nealy flat and I was able to fit into my pre-pregnancy 'fat day' clothes. Now we're 5 weeks post partum and I'm down to 126lbs and can't keep food in my system long enough to gain the benefits of the calories. It's not a good situation.

Aside from my stomach skin looking a little different, my body is basically back to what it was before babies. It has happened so freakin fast, it's a little disorienting. Did that pregnancy really happen?! How could this be what I look like now?

So we will continue to breastfeed at each feeding and see how the babies do on limited formula top ups. I'll try to get healthy and eat and drink well and see if I can gain a couple of pounds or at least arrest the decline.

At 5 weeks old Rachel is 7lbs 3.5oz and Samson is 7lbs 2.5oz. They are gaining great and Samson is catching up really well. I've got a lot to be grateful for!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Sweetest Moments

Every day there are sweet moments that I hope to never forget. Their smiles. Their milk-drunk contentedness as we try to burp them. Their precious sleeping faces. The way they gaze at my face sometimes. Sharing a laugh or thoughts about the babes with my husband or Mom as we feed them in the middle of the night.

Our house has mirrors all over the place, in almost every room as the closet doors are mostly mirrors. This has bothered me at times in the past but what a joy it is now to see my reflection every time I turn around....me with a tiny baby hugged close to my chest. Sure, I look awful most of the time, hair all over the place, no makeup, tired, in PJs and a robe. But everytime I see us I see answered prayers and I am grateful. Amazed and grateful.

Last Thursday we were preparing for our first nights alone with just the 4 of us. My Mom headed home for a break and I was more than a little nervous about what sleep I'd get having to listen for every feeding. (Now my Mom listens for one and I skip one that Mom and Andrew manage.) It was a beautiful day and I decided a walk to the park would do me some good. It was my second such outing...a 15 minute power walk in the outdoors.

The sun was warm and the sky a gorgeous blue with just a few whispy clouds. The trees still have most of their leaves and there are lovely colours in the park, lots of reds and oranges. As I walked down the path there was an elderly man sitting on a bench watching me approach. I smiled at him and when I got close he said, "It turned out all right for us didn't it?"

He was referring to the weather and I replied, "It sure did!" and smiled again.

And just as I passed him it struck me that that was a message for me. It could be Andrew saying that to me at the end of our lives together.

It could be said about our infertility struggles, our high-risk, complicated, twin pregnancy, our unexpected journey for their births, the recovery period.

It all turned out all right for us .... and I need to trust that it will continue to. Trust and have faith and surrender to this plan that God has for us.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Week 4

Every day there is a point when I think I cannot do this!
Every day there is a time when I think this isn't so hard, it's not rocket science.

Last night my Mom went home. It's been 4 weeks and it was our first night at home alone with our little ones. It felt nice but it was also intimidating. It meant we were both up for all the feedings, they now eat every 4 hours.

And it meant one of us had to be listening for them. When it's my turn to listen, I don't sleep. I may doze a little but for the most part, I'm awake for that stretch of time. I'm hyper aware of all their noises and I'm anxious about what they might mean.

Samson has reflux and it makes things incredibly difficult. Makes me dread feeding him for fear of a major spit up. I mean spit ups that he chokes on and goes purple and can't catch his breath and I consider how fast I can call 911. It's brutal. As a new Mom I'm anxious already, this makes it so, so much harder.

Every feeding we start with nursing and then work on a burp and then top up with formula and then work on more burps. Whoever has Samson has to keep him upright for 30 minutes after he finishes. Every feed takes about 1 to 1.5 hours and that's with 2 people doing the feed; they eat 6 times a day.

We split the nights into shifts. When there are 3 of us, one person is the 'first responder', one person is the helper and one person sleeps. (I miss one feed where they just get bottles.) The first responder wakes the helper when it's time to feed or when two babies are crying at once. No fussing baby goes ignored thus far.... this will change some day but I don't know when. Then the helper becomes the first responder and the sleeper gets woken as the helper when needed.

So is this working for us? Uuum I don't know. Right now it ensures that we all get some sleep and the babies get great care, which is great. But how long can we do it for? We won't have my Mom here forever. Will we just make it work until the babes are sleeping 5 or 6 hours a night? Will I ever find a way to do it on my own? Do I have to?

I'm trying to build up my milk supply ... again, not sure what the goal is here. I just know that breast milk is best for them and I want them to have as much of it as possible.

I have no answers. I just know I want the best for my babies and so we'll go on.

Rachel - Preemie

They are just now officially newborns but we've had them for 3 weeks. In some ways we can only expect newborn behaviour from them but in others, we've got 3 weeks of experience and are getting into a groove. So in these three weeks here is a snapshot of what we've learned about Rachel.

Rachel is a relaxed, go with the flow kind of girl. She has had a wide open gaze from the first second of her life, taking in all that is around her. She is very very aware of what is going on around her.

Rachel has the teeniest, tinyest mouth that she likes to purse until her lips nearly disappear. As her face gets rounder with more weight, her features seem to get more delicate. Her eyes are dark blue and her hair is dark brown.


She is Miss sociable and likes to make a LOT of noise. She grunts and groans and squeeks all through feedings and often through an entire sleep too. She often sounds like a pony or a little piglet. Rachel is going to be a talker! And so we're already attributing things to her. Her Daddy often has a 'saying from Rachel' posted on our kitchen whiteboard.


Rachel loves to stretch her arms high over her head and arch her back in a super girl pose when she's working out a burp or a poop. She has a very strong kick and likes to be able to move around....and loves to be carried and rocked! She generally sleeps and eats with her arms straight and her hands relaxed. She's also a good eater, often finishing all that is offered to her.


And we love her to bits.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Samson - Preemie

Samson is our first born by one whole hour. He's had to be strong as he got the raw end of the deal in delivery and in the uterus. He had to have vacuum assist during delivery and he got less nutrients via his placenta and had sugar issues when he was born requiring an IV. He also had his sister's head against his belly for months inutero.


So perhaps it is no surprise that our Samson is a little intense. He's got a grip on him that sends a message, "I ain't no stinkin preemie!" Or perhaps more like, "I'm small but I'm mighty!"

He sounds like a billy goat when he makes noises.


Samson has light brown haired and has dimples!! Oh those dimples will break some hearts, starting with his Momma's. He often grips his hands when feeding and anything close by that gets caught will not soon be let go of. He often wears a concerned expression on his face, a little furrowed brow. In his first 2 weeks he often only peered at you through one eye as if just a little suspicious of what was going on. I call that his pirate look.


Sam likes to curl himself into a ball when sleeping and when eating and when you're trying to burp him. He often sucks on his tongue or lower lip or cheek when he sleeps. However, he is starting to relax more now and can often be seen sleeping with his arms above his head.


He's a tough customer when trying to top him up with a bottle feed. When he's done, he clamps his mouth shut like a trap. Daddy taught him to open his mouth and stick out his tongue in his second week, which has improved nursing!


Samson struggles with reflux and burping is a challenge. He generally eats less than his sister and yet he is gaining weight well. When he cries he means business, often sticking his little lip out and looking very upset, but he sleeps much more quietly than his sister.

This is what I know about my son so far.


Perhaps because of his intensity or because he seems to need more care than Rachel, I find myself bonding to him faster. Apparently this is common for parents of twins. I try not to feel guilty about it.

Week 3

This past week has been about recovery. The antibiotics started working, I started feeling better, more energy, less anxious, more able to care for the babies and even spend some time with them just marveling at their tiny newness.

I can't believe how hard some of this has been. I also am so sad to have 'missed' so much of these past 3 weeks .... but things are getting better. I can now wrap my head around some of what it takes to run the household: Diaper pail garbage needs to go out every day, we go through at least 18 diapers/day, need to wash pump stuff as soon as I'm done pumping, need to do bottles twice/day. Knowing this stuff makes me feel like there is the possibility I could do it someday.

So far, my Mom has basically been running the house. I can now start being more involved and also just cuddle a baby when they need comforting. They aren't that scary ....unless they both need cuddling at the same time and I'm alone. I don't want that to happen too often, at least not yet.

I'm slowly coming to grips with the fact that two babies needs cannot be met the way one babies needs can be. I cannot parent two the way I would hope to parent one. And that is sad. I'd love to do the recommended skin on skin time (2.5 hours/day) but where am I going to find an additional 5 hours in my day?? I'd like to do tummy time and bare bum time with them but where am I going to find this time when Samson's reflux issues making at least 2/3 of the day not an option for that? They eat every 3-4 hours and each feed takes an hour that's 8 hours at least each day of just feeding, burping, changing.

So rather than beat myself up over the fact that they already have diaper rash, I'm trying to address one thing at a time and find time for the most critical issues as they arise. Their physical care is top priority. The other stuff just may not happen.

All that said, there have been some very precious moments this week:
- Samson resting his brow on his crossed arms against my chest as I try to coax a burp out of him. As if he were totally exasperated, wondering, 'when will this ever end?!'
- Their tiny smiles when we're trying to burp them.
- Rachel's little super girl pose, arching her back and throwing her arms over her head when she's working out a burp.
- Nursing them into a happy baby drunk state.

There is more but I'll write individual posts for each babe. They each deserve their own.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Explanations

Sometimes you feel terrible because something is wrong.
I'm fighting an infection.
Thank goodness I got to a clinic and the Dr took my symptoms seriously. I'm on some wicked antibiotics and am feeling better already. Don't have an appetite yet but forcing myself to eat.
My Mom is running the house. I'm healing and caring for babies with help from Andrew and Mom.
Tomorrow will be better.

Friday, October 28, 2011

First 2 weeks

What an insane time this is. I don't know if the anxiety and stress and exhaustion I feel is normal or if I'm spiralling out of control.
I'm scared by the idea of being alone with Samson and Rachel. Too scared to properly appreciate them yet.
I know the babies are doing well, growing like weeds. But I'm feeling sicker and less capable every day. We have a schedule that I think is working for now which has me, my Mom and Andrew feeding the babies in shifts. So what is wrong?
I think time will tell but for now I intend to spend every minute I can in bed. No expectations to do anything. I wish I felt up for company, I wish I felt up for getting dressed.
I'll give myself another couple of weeks though.
That photo shoot was a bad idea in retrospect....it took waaay too much out of me that I didn't have to give. Down the road I may feel differently.
I hope this next week brings more healing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photo session

In a fit of genius and total ignorance I booked a professional photo session. It may be our last for a very long time but I think it may have been worth it....












Monday, October 24, 2011

Baby pics

Some pics from our first days.
Both babies are allowed to join us in our hospital room.

Mom and Samson enjoy a quiet moment sometime around 4am.


Feeding Samson in the NICU. He has monitor lines all over him but he was doing quite well. It took an hour to coax the minimum 30mls into him. Quite an emotional struggle.


Samson and Rachel share some quality time in Samson isolet. He has an IV line to help stablize his blood sugar levels. It was a little upsetting to see him like that and he kept wacking himself in the face with the foam board.


Snuggling Samson in the OR before Rachel arrived. They had put me on oxygen as I got shakey and light headed after he arrived.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hospital Stay

Although nothing about the birth went as we anticipated, everything worked out very well. The care we all received in Nanaimo was exceptional, the best care I could imagine....better even. The number of nurses we dealt with between the NICU and myself was a lot and they were all exceptional... although a few stand out as being total saviours in moments of distress or concern.


Both Samson and Rachel struggled a bit with their blood sugar levels and needed to stay in the NICU for monitoring. Samson needed an IV line. They were there for 2.5 days, each day getting better and stronger.

Low birth weight babies require some special considerations and we learned a lot from the NICU nurses in those two days. In general: don't let them get too upset, it burns too many calories. They need to feed minimum ever 3 hours and need to take a minimum of 30mls. Don't let them get too hot and don't let them get too cold. Their ability to maintain their own body temperatures and their blood sugar levels in between feeds were big milestones in those two days. Rachel was half a day ahead of Samson, as you'd expect from a slightly bigger baby.


Those two days were a very emotional time for us. I was struggling to take it all in. I kept thinking 'I have babies but I can't be with them.... are they really here? I hurt physically and feel like an invalid, how can I possibly take care of them?' I needed Andrew to help with everything and he was there every step of the way....taking care of me physically, emotionally, remembering information I couldn't keep track of, learning how to take care of the babies as I tried to learn breastfeeding. He was a superstar and continues to be.


I got to see Samson and Rachel for the first time after leaving the OR when I could prove that I could stand on my own. I went to the bathroom, then got ready and was wheeled into the NICU where they were. They were sooo small and hooked up to all kinds of monitors. But the nurses quickly unhooked them and got them into our arms for a snuggle and a feed. I think it was 3am.


I was exhausted and the next feed was at 6am. We returned to our room, tried to catch a few minutes of rest and returned for the 6am feed. The next two days were more of the same. We went to the NICU for every feed except one in the middle of the night. Each feeding session lasted at least an hour. So that only left 2 hours at most in between visits....and meant we rarely slept or had time to do much more than eat, take pain meds, try to communicate with family.


By Sunday we were thrilled to be told that Rachel could come back to the room with us. It felt like a gift. That afternoon, Samson was released as well. As long as we could feed them their minimum amounts and their weight didn't drop off, we could keep them.

All went well and we were on an adrenaline high. By Monday we were talking about being let go as long as the babies jaundice didn't get any worse (bilirubin blood test was required) and they passed their car seat challenge, which require 1.5 hours in the seat hooked up to oxygen monitors.

The blood test proved to be a harrowing experiene that had to be done 3 times on Samson. I can't write or talk about it without getting very upset so I won't. Suffice it to say it was our first experience challenging a professional in order to advocate for our child... and it was worth it. The final test was done without a peep from our boy, compared to 20 minutes of incredible distress for the previous ones. Gah, I'm crying just remembering it.

Both Samson and Rachel aced their car seat challenges Monday night. Tuesday brought the news that their bilirubin levels were acceptable and they were back to their birth weights. We were cleared to leave. After a frenzied morning of packing and organizing, we left for home....a very stressful trip for me, not being able to see them and assure myself that they were okay. Many times at a stop light I unbuckled my seatbelt and reached back to ensure they weren't too hot or cold and still breathing.

We stopped at Grandma and Grandpa's house half way through the journey for a feed, which took 2 hours. :) And then made it all the way home (with a short delay on the highway) with perfectly happy babies. Walking into the house for the first time with them was a sweet moment. My parents were there with dinner on the table and the house all lit up welcoming us.

And then I crashed, exhausted after only 14 hours of sleep in the previous 6 days.

Birth Story

We were scheduled to be induced on Wed the 12th of Oct. I was ready, emotionally, physically, psychologically. And then they had to cancel due to there being no room in the NICU. The doctors did anticipate that the babies would need to be in the NICU so they just scheduled another non-stress test for Thursday and said they'd see where things were at then.

I arrived at the hospital on Thursday with my Dad. Andrew went to work as we did not think circumstances would change that day and he didn't want to take time off work when it wasn't necessary.

At the hospital the Doctor asked to speak with me before the non-stress test. She was very clear, "there is no room in the NICU and there won't be for quite some time.... and your babies can't wait. We want to transfer you to Nanaimo. They have room in their NICU. They've already been told about your circumstances and are waiting for you. You need to go home, pack and leave as soon as you can."

I cried. I was shocked. I called Andrew and told him to meet me at home, that we had to pack and leave asap. Before I left the hospital the non-stress test showed both babies doing just fine so all we had to do was pack and hit the road and let all our people know that all our plans were changing.

After a very uncomfortable 2 hour drive, we arrived in Nanaimo around 3:30pm and were incredibly relieved to get a fabulous room and wonderful nurses and meet the OB who would be delivering our precious babies. We got a very quick tour of the small but very nice facilities and saw the OR where we'd have to deliver.

Ocytocin was started via IV around 5pm and contractions started slowly and the pain was very managable. However, because we were having twins and because it was an induction, they needed to keep an eye on the babies heartrates the entire time! This meant I had to be hooked up to an IV and have three straps and monitors on my belly for the entire labour. Due to the odd positioning of the babies, the nurse had to constantly be adjusting one monitor looking for baby A's heart rate.

This is an aweful scenario for labouring....confined to bed with a stranger holding multiple monitors on you the entire time.

By about 7:00 contractions were stronger and more regular and more painful and the OB recommended the epidural line go in right away. I agreed to get the line in as the anesthetist was going to be in an operation later and there was no telling when he'd have time if he didn't do it then.

By the time he arrived and put in the line, around 7:45 pm, contractions were hard to manage on my own and when he urged me to start the medication right away I agreed.

Epidurals are glorious. It was the first time in months that I was without pain. Andrew and I talked and tried to keep in connection with each other. However, now there was also a blood pressure cuff on my arm (took a reading every 15 minutes) a heart rate monitor on my finger and an epidural line running from my shoulder along with the previous IV and monitors.

This was NOT the way I'd imagined things going. I tried to rest and relax and somehow a couple of hours went by and I started to feel pressure. When I told the nurse she agreed to call in the OB to check on me. The OB resisted at first and the nurse insisted. The OB arrived around 10:15 and with a shocked look said, "I have good news! You're fully dialated and baby is +2. We need to move to the operating room now!"

It was an emotional moment, knowing we were so close to meeting our little ones, knowing that the next few hours (?) would be scary and hard. They wheeled me in to the OR and I started pushing around 10:30. After about 15 minutes baby boy's heart rate dropped and the OB was concerned enough that she started using the vacuum. After just a few pushes, his heart rate returned to normal and we were able to deliver without further assistance.

Samson Asher Gillan came into the world and onto my chest and looked around and cried. I was amazed and shocked. He was so small and so alive! I kisses his head and talked to him and then they had to take him away. Andrew went with him and I anxiously waited for news and considered how I could possibly do it again. I was only half way done and I was tired.

The OB assured me that baby girl was doing just fine and it would be easier the second time. Also, there was no hurry. She was still quite high in the uterus and needed time to descend. Andrew went back and forth from the OR to the NICU next door giving me updates, taking pictures, trying to be in two places at once.

We waited, I tried to relax and stop the shuddering that went through my body almost non-stop. Samson came back into the room with Andrew and we got to visit, snuggle, attempt breastfeeding, love each other for a few precious minutes as a family of three. Then it was time to start again.

Pushing began around 11:50 and everyone in the room kept speculating about the possibility of different birthdays. Rachel Mikayla arrived after about 19 minutes of pushing. The nurses and OB saying, "here she is, she's here, reach for her, reach for your baby." And I did. I delivered her onto my chest myself. She was perfection. Her dark hair, wide open eyes, perfect tiny features and tiny cry. (I can't write this without crying)

We were all here, safe and sound and a family at last.

They dried her off and then had to take her away. Andrew went with her and I was left with the OB and nurses to be stitched (2nd degree tearing).

More about the hospital stay soon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

No Room at the Inn

When there is no room at the inn, you are given a stable .... and God provides you with everything you need including mangers in NICUs.

Victoria NICU was full. No space anticipated for some time. We were instructed to leave for Nanaino asap.

Babies are here and safe but small and needing to be watched carefully in the NICU for a little while. More details soon but here are the stats:

Samson Asher Gillan: 4lbs 13oz, Born Oct 13 at 11:04pm
Rachel Mikayla Gillan: 5lbs, Born Oct 14 at 12:09pm

Both beautiful!

Induction went well. Very fast labour. Vaginal deliveries. Epidurals amazing. Happy Mom and Dad. Recovering well. More soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

T ... + ?

At 9am we still hadn't heard from the hospital. I called Labour and Delivery to ask what time we should arrive.

"I don't think it's going to happen today," the nurse says. I sat at my kitchen table shocked and upset. I'm ready, we're ready. I had a good night. I'm prepared to do this today, mentally, physically, organizationally. My husband is off work.

"The NICU is full. I'll talk to the Dr and see if we can book you in for another non-stress test today," she said.

11:00 non-stress test was booked. We sat around, totally deflated, watching TV till it was time to go.

At the hospital the babies were not cooperative for the test. What usually takes 20 minutes took over an hour to accomplish. In the end though, both babies were still looking good.

The doctor on call came by to explain the NICU has 3 new preemies born in the last 12 hours. It would be best to wait until tomorrow when they'd be more ready to handle our little ones should they need assistance. We'll book another non-stress tomorrow to keep an eye on the babies. That said, if we go into labour, we'll head right back.

So maybe Oct 13? Maybe 14? Maybe when all the other pregnant women in Victoria have had their babies? See at this 37 week point with twins it's like I'm 1 week overdue. And more time doesn't necessarily mean stronger babies, in fact it can mean higher risk.

Today I'm eating pizza and chips and chocolate and whatever the heck else I want to eat. It's time for a good hormonal cry.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

T - 1 day

It was a good last day.
I had a great visit with a friend during the day. Had a great nap. Another friend stopped by in the evening. We made a quick, easy dinner.
I'm living in the moment... not thinking too far ahead.
We're ready. We're all ready.
:)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

T - 3 Days

I really thought today might be the day. But at the non-stress test this morning these babies seemed perfectly content to stay mushed inside pushing each other around.


As long as they look good and I'm not having regular contractions, they saw no reason to worry or even check me. Braxton Hicks contractions, no matter how long they last, how uncomfortable they are, or how hard it is to breathe through them due to pressure on my diaphram, just don't count.


This is both good news and incredibly frustrating at the same time. The nurse said that I should go home and enjoy all the rest and relaxation I can for the next three days. "Cuz you're sure not going to get any once these babies come."


Ha ha ha RIIIIIGHT, thanks for the TIP!

(rant on) As if I don't know that! As if it's possible to rest and relax when you have really strong babies pushing your insides around and thumping away on your fibroid and you have agonizing groin pain whenever you have to shift your own weight. As if relaxing is an option when those braxton hicks come throughout the day, including waking you from a deep sleep.... and they can really hurt, just not the 'right' way. As if I haven't been resting and relaxing all I can for the past FOUR months.... it's like telling a prisoner to enjoy those last few days in the clink cuz soon they'll face the real world. I'm bored and frustrated out of my mind.
(rant over)

OK aaaand I'm incredibly grateful for many many things too.... 37 weeks is an incredible blessing. And there is a deadline for this.

I just need to make it though another 2.5 days. I feel like the little engine that could.
I think I can
I think I can
I think I can

Thursday, October 6, 2011

T - 6 Days

Where T = twin delivery and 6 = the number of days I'll be cautiously walking around and second guessing every movement, twinge and other potential symptom of labour or baby distress.

We're scheduled for induction on Wednesday Oct 12!

At today's apt the babies still looked good so the OB would like to give them one more week inside to ensure full lung development.

That said I'm 2cm dialated and thin!! So all we need are some real contractions and we'll be off to the races... or rather the hospital.

We do have another non-stress test on Sunday just to ensure babies are still okay. So there is a checkpoint on this last home stretch, which eases my mind a bit. Also, there is no guarantee that having the babies on a given day during the week is going to go smoothly. Apparently the labour and delivery ward was mayhem today, every single room and bed taken and c-section after c-section happening.

So we'll just leave this in God's hands until Wednesday. Wednesday is a cool date: 10-12-11 or 12-10-11, however you arrange it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

36 Weeks!

This is it. Today has been our goal this whole pregnancy. "Just let me get to 36. 36 would be ideal." And here we are!

Even my regular Dr is surprised and impressed that we've made it this far. I think she even used the word 'unbelievable' today at what was likely my last regular maternity apt of the pregnancy.

I'm measuring 40 weeks in size and things feel very tight. I have lots of braxton-hicks contractions each day and this morning I even had a real contraction....real honest to God contraction. But just one.

I am on high alert to all the changes and twinges in my body and eagerly/anxiously pay close attention to ensure I feel our boy still moving around. I really think at any moment my water could break and today could be the day.

Tomorrow we'll have our ultrasound, non-stress test and the OB consult where he'll check me. He'll make the call whether we induce this week or try to wait till next week. I don't know what to wish for.

I would feel nervous heading into a long weekend praying not to go into labour for the next 3 days. BUT an extra week of lung development would probably be good. BUT neither I, nor the Dr's, really want a twin delivery to happen over a weekend.

There will be 14 people in the operating room for this delivery, even if it's vaginal and everything goes like clockwork. We want them all to be refreshed and on their game....not grumpy or tired from being called in from their Thanks Giving feasts or missing their family fun.

I think I'm having a contraction..... gotta go. :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

35.5 weeks

I have a feeling this is the week. So much so that the hospital bag is packed and the car seats installed. So much so that the camera is being packed and this will likely be my last maternity shot....sans makeup and everything.
35.5 weeks and about 48lbs weight gain.




Keep growing babies. Keep getting stronger. We look forward to meeting you face to face.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Healthy Baby Thoughts

Today we had a 35 week ultrasound, non-stress test and a follow up with our OB.
Our baby boy isn't growing very well. Seems the placenta just isn't getting him enough nutrients. He grew about 5oz in the past 3 weeks and we would have liked to see 5oz per week. He's only measuring about 4lbs and our baby girl about 4lbs 12oz. I'm glad Andrew was with me because it was a little upsetting to hear this news.
The OB explained that at this point it's a matter of balancing the benefits of lung development inside the womb with the better nutrients we could provide outside the womb. We'll go back for another non-stress test and ultrasound on Monday and on Thursday next week. The OB wants to induce labour either next week (at 36 weeks gestation) or the following week depending on how things look.
I'm trying not to worry....trying not to freak out. We did anticipate them being small and I'm incredibly grateful that we've gotten this far so there is a good chance that they will be strong even if they are tiny. But oh the idea of a 4lb baby is pretty intimidating.
So healthy baby thoughts and prayers are very much appreciated.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Maternity Photo Shoot

We received the full album of maternity photos yesterday. These are a few of my favourites.

Although I'm slightly disappointed because my belly is so much more impressive now than it was here at 31 weeks, I'm quite sure I could Not do a photo shoot at this point. Standing for an hour would be too much for me to manage now.





I'm glad I did this. I think I'll love looking at these down the road.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

34.5 Weeks

At 34 weeks exactly I felt pretty aweful so here is 34.5 weeks and 42lbs weight gain.
At my non-stress test on Thursday the nurse remarked, "34 weeks! Aren't you a tight little package." ha haha In any other context or coming from a man, that would have meant something totally different!

In other news, the nursery wall decal is finally done. Very soon we'll have the crib skirts and mattresses sorted out. Since I'm planning to have these two sleep next to me in a co-sleeper in our room, I'm not super anxious about getting the mattresses, sheets, etc sorted. But hopefully next week will bring the finishing touches.

And here are the gorgeous shelves all filled with baby girl and baby boy clothes, all washed and ready for babies!

My 33rd week was really rough. I think it was mostly due to gas, which has no room to go or expand when there are two babies bouncing around and then contractions start. But things are getting better.

Thank goodness for doctors. I've got some sleeping pills and some heartburn pills and am stocked up on good iron supplements.

Here's to making it to 35 weeks!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Scheduling

Andrew has vetoed babies arriving any time prior to Sept 28 due to his work schedule. I am in agreement for them to stay put until at least the 27th, because the 25th is Andrew's CPR/Save a child course and the 26th is our hospital tour. :)

But really, I'm feeling pretty done. I'm feeling stretched and tense and uncomfortable and exhausted. I've taken myself off the roads too. No more driving because I experience too many contractions and random pains that limit my mobility....which could be a really bad thing behind the wheel of a car.

My parents relocate to town on Thursday (staying at a friends place nearby) so I'll have support around for Dr visits and Andrew will get a bit of a break on cooking and grocery shopping.

Life is about to change. This is good but I'm also feeling resistant. I'm ready for the babies. I'm ready to look forward to feeling better and better each week instead of feeling worse. But I also love my life with Andrew and am nervous about it changing dramatically. Although I'm sooo grateful that we will have help from my Mom, I'm also anxious about what that looks like. There are so many unknowns.

More opportunity to learn about surrender. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pregnancy Lowlights

Is lowlights a word? Maybe not but that's okay. In the interest of honesty and posterity here are the not so great things about this pregnancy.


1. Pain. I've had a lot of pain from very early on in the pregnancy. Around 3-4 months the ligament and tendons started really complaining about the internal pressure and that didn't let up for about 3 months. Then there was the random belly pain for several months, which came and went with little or no explanation but was daily. The fibroyd pain was nasty for a couple months and was worse the more I moved around. Last trimester is hip pain and now wicked groin pain... like my pubic bone may be breaking. Not good times but not constant either, there has been relief.


2. Occassional extreme discomfort/pressure....like they are trying to escape through my skin and are standing on my intestines for leverage. Intestines that are struggling with iron issues.

3. Iron deficiency. I had no idea what this would do to me. It's an awful feeling.... not just a feeling of being tired but almost flu like: weakness, foggy thinking, inability to cope, just totally wrung out. Luckily the Dr's have been recommending higher and higher doses of iron supplements. So this only happens occassionally or when I've expended too much energy in a day.


4. Sleep ....oh I remember sleep, vaguely. For months now I've only slept 2 hours at a stretch. This is a good night. A bad night happens when I'm awake for hours unable to sleep with restless legs, pain, contractions, really strong baby movements, heartburn, etc. I usually just get up and eat and eventually I'll tire out enough to sleep.


5. Worry! There was lots of time to worry as I counted the weeks, praying we'd make it till the babies are big enough to be born safely. Needless to say I'm incredibly grateful to be writing this in the past tense.


6. Physical restrictions. I've written a lot about how frustrating it can be to be stuck on the couch unable to do the things I want to do to prepare for this major life change.

For a twin pregnancy I've been lucky. Looking at this list actually makes me feel pretty grateful.

S

Friday, September 16, 2011

33 Week Photo

33 Weeks and 40lbs weight gain! Baby boy should be about 4lbs now and baby girl should be around 4lb 5oz if they're continuing the way they have been.

My weight gain slowed down the past two weeks so I'm thinking my body has just about had enough. I'm grateful for the cooler weather and I'm grateful that I haven't experienced any of the swelling that most women with twins experience. I do kind of wonder at how much of this weight is in my belly because I'm amazed that I weigh this much and yet can still see my ribs.

In other news, the house is back in one piece and sealed for the winter!! Woohoo. We just need deck rails and then phase one of deck replacement will be complete. Phase two is for next summer. Here's the hubby putting the house back together again.
And the shelves.....they are done and beautiful! They are filled with clean baby clothes, ready for the twins to arrive. YAY!! Pics to come.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pregnancy Highlights

There are a lot of ups and downs to this pregnancy. On the bad days I struggle to remember the good stuff and when this is over I want to remember both.

So here is the good stuff:

1. I've never been so confident and comfortable with my body image. When I notice people looking at me, in the past I wondered what they saw, why they were looking. Now I think I know what they see and I am so happy with the miracle of being pregnant that I can't even conceive of there being a negative reason for the looks. They're looking because it's amazing, because I'm cute waddling around, because my belly is so perfectly round and protruding, because the promise of life is amazing. I love being out of the house where people can see this amazing thing my body is doing.

2. Baby movements are awesome! I never tire of wondering and hypothesizing about what baby part is making that particular movement and whether it's him or her. Was that an elbow or a knee? Is she turning or are they both moving together to do this? Is that her head or her back? Oh, he must have the hiccups because that is so rhythmic! It's fun and makes me feel like I know them both a little bit. She's a very energetic baby. He's more layed back.

3. Strangers are nice and strike up conversations about my favourite topic - the babies. Unless I'm having a really bad day, I'll tell anyone that we're expecting twins and that it's a boy and a girl and answer any questions they ask. It's fun. I feel special. The world feels like a very friendly place.

4. Lots of quiet time to myself to rest and read and think and dream and plan and hope and pray about these little ones.

5. Every week is an accomplishment even if I haven't done anything that I previously would have considered an accomplishment. My main goal is to take care of myself.... not a bad way to spend a few months.

6. At 33 weeks, no stretch marks yet! Whoohoo! AND no swelling, no uncontrollable nausea, no wierd skin issues. In fact I've had very clear skin with the exception of eczema.

7. Very few food issues and no worries about weight gain. So I eat good food all day and don't hesitate to have dessert.

If I think of more, I'll add to this post because the good stuff is important.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

33 Weeks

It's nearly unbelievable to me that we are here at 33 weeks. If we make it to 36, I'm going to be shocked. If we go straight to 38, it will be nothing short of a miracle. My body is carrying 8lbs of baby, that's already much bigger than my family usually carries.

This week had some rough days. Babies were changing positions and the pain had me nearly unable to walk on Saturday. Getting in and out of bed was agony all night long.

Now baby girl is back on top and facing out; all her hands and feet and knee and elbow movements are again visible and very much felt all day. It's a little freaky at times but also reassuring.

Baby boy ... tough to tell. I don't think he's as head down as he was and I only feel a few movements a day that I am sure are him, which is unsettling. Will ask the Dr about that this week.

We had our second last childbirthing class yesterday. We reviewed the stages of labour, saw another video, talked about baby blues and post partum depression. It was good info.... but twins will be pretty different than what the 'norm' is. I think the previous class was the best, informed consent discussion helped me understand what I can ask for regardless of the situation we find ourselves in - c-section, epidural, both, etc.

At the break last night I asked how the other ladies are sleeping. Apparently other people sleep! Grumble! I wake up every hour (2 hrs max) in pain.....either hip agony or a painful contraction. Either way I very gingerly, cautiously, awkwardly roll myself out of bed to pee and have a sip of water. The only good thing is that after months of this I'm totally used to it. Maybe I'll adjust more easily to babies waking me all night long. Here's hoping!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

32 weeks Zoom Zoom

Today we had another ultrasound and the OB is happy. Both babies are a little small but still growing well. Baby boy is now about 3lb 10oz and Baby girl is about 3lb 15oz. And there is nothing to indicate that I won't carry through to 36 or 38 weeks. So there's nothing to worry about but we can expect rather small babies. I'm fine with small as long as they are strong and healthy.


We've made huge progress over the past week. Andrew finished the closet shelves and they are fantastic. They are also now filled with freshly washed newborn clothes. We have diapers and wipes and car seats. We are 'this' close to being ready!

One of the huge TO DOs on our list (an unanticipated big freakin deal) became apparent after we bought the car seats in August. Two car seats fit in the back of my car only if the driver was small.... in other words, the hubby could not comfortably drive us all home from the hospital in the car. Our other option, the truck, would be impossible for me to haul babies in and out of and would probably be very hard to climb in and out of while recovering from birthing two babies!

So, ultimately, we needed a new car! GAAAH! We both hate the idea of shopping for, negotiating over and paying for a vehical - new or used. But the stars aligned and some prayers were answered and on the last day of August, we found ourselves test driving a lovely 2008 Mazda 5. It's got every bell and whistle you can imagine but the important thing is it has sliding rear doors and enough room for the double stroller in the back.

Blah blah negotiation frustration.... blah blah never feel good leaving a car dealership.... blah blah need to write 'dissatisfying experience' letter.

After all is said and done, in the end, we are now the proud new owners of a skookum, gorgeous 2008 Mazda, which we hope to have for many many many years to come. :) So, not only can we have babies but we can transport them safely. YAY!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sneak peak of photos

We got a sneak peak of some of the photos from the session. Some I love, some not so much. These I love.




I can't wait to see all of them!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Investing in Memories

I didn't know if I'd ever get the chance to have a baby belly or to have a new born baby. So having this opportunity in life has been a double blessing in many ways and I want to remember so much of it, preserve it for the future.
Therefore, when I saw friends with newborns posting professional photos, I followed up to find out the details. It's expensive. It's really expensive but you do get a lot in the package deals that are available. And hey, this may be my only walk down this particular path.
So I gathered information in June but held off booking anything until the end of August. I just didn't know how far along I'd get and whether babies would be premature or not.
However, by the time I was 30 weeks pregnant I figured I was pregnant enough to 'qualify' for the maternity/belly photos. And whether babies come early or late, I'm confident they'll be healthy and born strong enough to one day do a professional studio shoot.
So tonight is our studio photo session for the baby belly and I'm very excited. I don't think we'll do any totally nude shots but she has some great materials that she can use to strategically drape around the body. Fun times!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gratitudes ..... Frustrations .... Crazy

In many ways I am incredibly grateful for all this summer has brought.
Here we are at 31 weeks and all appears well so far. In many ways so far my third trimester is actually more comfortable than my second. I have much less belly/tendon/groin pain, which is a huge relief.
My husband has been an amazing trooper, taking on all the cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, and care of our fur-baby Pepper.
We're so close to meeting these two little ones and we have an awesome support network - some people in the process of preparing for the first few months (my Mom is cooking 30 meals for our freezer) or waiting in the wings to be asked when the time comes that we need help. I truly feel blessed.
However, this summer has also carried some great frustrations.
When you aren't allowed to do much (or are just so exhausted you can't) and you're feeling all nesty, you want the stuff you get done to stay done! And you want to get everything ready... everything, everything. Like... a messy closet is going to destroy your happiness and render you incapable of parenthood, everything.
So when I saw our beautiful nursery tidied and almost ready one day and then torn all apart the next, a minor meltdown ensued. The husband needed to start from scratch to put shelves in. Really? Really? I have not seen his cost/benefit analysis on that decision and something tells me I wouldn't agree even if I saw it.
On top of that is a major deck reno that started with tearing the railings off in June and we're now almost in September and it's not even close to done. This weekend found me staring at a hole that went straight through the deck and down through the ceiling of the room beneath. Rotten wood torn out and two sides of the house without siding nearly brought me to tears. GAAAAH.
The very last thing you want to see when you're staring down the last few weeks of a TWIN pregnancy is the nursery torn apart and the siding coming off of your house as rainy season approaches.
We replaced the majority of our windows and our front doors this year too.....you know so the winter wind doesn't rattle the curtains this year. There was an issue with the doors and they said they couldn't do them, then they could, they were installed and then a few pieces needed fixing. They still aren't completely finished....but it's close!
I don't need close. I don't want progress even. I want done! I want ready! I want everything so freaking clean and tidied and organized that absolutely nothing needs doing after babies are born.
And I don't have a hospital bag packed either!
So babies, you need to stay inside and grow for a good long time yet. Because I'll lose my mind otherwise...... I may not be in full posession of it even now.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Snippets

Lesson from second birth class: People have different pain tolerances, pain thresholds. To give us some idea of how we handle pain, everyone in the class gripped an ice cube for a full 60 seconds.
I was the only one hyperventilating and near tears by the end of the minute.
The instructor looked at me with true compassion and apologized in advance, "I'm so sorry for you. I'm the same. I'm so sorry."
Greeeeat!

*********************************************************************
Sitting on the couch at the end of a lovely summer day. A large object suddenly enters my peripheral vision .... a dear runs past the window ..... followed by my husband.
Laughing, I'm waiting for him to come into the house and explain and then suddenly a dear runs past the window..... followed by my husband.
Dejavu? Doing laps? Common enemy chasing both of them?
"There were two dear!" he claimed when he finally came in.

I learn later my hilarity was matched by my neighbour who saw the same activity from her kitchen window...crazy young guy next door doing laps with the wildlife.
Andrew maintains that although it did nothing to scare the dear away for any length of time it made him feel better.

*********************************************************************
The witching hours for me are between 2 and 4. I'm almost guaranteed to be up for at least an hour during that time.
Sometimes it's because I wake up hungry. Sometimes I wake up hurting and can't find a comfortable position and my legs get restless. Sometimes I wake up feeling sick, like something just isn't right and the more I try to sleep, the more sick I feel.
Regardless of the reason I do the same thing. I quietly put on my pj pants and leave the room so I don't wake the hubby. (Yes, still sharing a bed but he gets less space these days.) I waddle to the kitchen and blearily get a snack, usually crackers and cheese and a tall glass of water.
I usually sit on the couch and surf facebook while stupid TV plays in the background as I munch. I don't want to stimulate my brain too much by reading, particularly baby related stuff which is guaranteed to bring me to full 'studying-for-a-critical-final, better-know-this-stuff' alertness.
However, lately I pulled out a scrapbook kit that I received from my great friend Hillary. I carefully took out all the little pieces and separated them into types and piles. I spread it all out on the dining room table so I could see it all. Since I don't think I'll ever be a great scrapbooker I've given myself permission to use every tiny piece in that kit and BOY is it ever freeing. I'm having a blast! Plus, it isn't brain work, it's visual so when I do go back to bed, I fall asleep with lovely images and no thoughts. It's the perfect meditative middle-of-the-night activity.

Friday, August 26, 2011

30 weeks


30 Weeks and 35lbs weight gain. Belly continues to grow 1cm/week.
Aaand today is soo much better than yesterday. Amazing what some sleep and the absence pain can do for me.
Baby girl continues to be SUPER active and strong. Today I actually got some of her movements on video.
Baby boy is quieter until late afternoon and I think this may be because he's head down now. I often have trouble knowing who is kicking, since they both have their legs on my right side.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rotten, no-good day

What happens when you try to exist on 4 hours of very interrupted, pain-filled sleep coupled with very low iron and a bit of stress thrown in? Meltdown!
That combination lead me to one of the worst days ever yesterday. Nothing was terribly wrong but nothing was right. I felt physically awful, downright sick at times and yet couldn't sleep much. No amount of food helped and I wasn't hungry. I couldn't think clearly or drum up energy to do a single thing. I was in a total fog. By the end of the day I just broke down crying....although nothing was particularly wrong. I just had nothing left in me but emotion and the very thought of having to do anything (like attempt sleeping at night) or endure anything (like childbirth) was utterly inconceivable. I had nothing left in me.
This was my first experience with a hormonal crying jag. It felt different than other crying jags. It was pure emotion with little context, just tears needing to be shed, child like, and when they started they continued effortlessly until I chose to be an adult again. I felt like I'd been cleansed afterwards. Although those tears and the emotion is still just under the surface for me today I have some wearwithall to keep it in check and I feel capable of doing whatever needs doing.
Such a strange experience to be totally besieged by emotion and exhaustion.
I venture to guess this will not be an isolated incident.
6 weeks to go.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ultrasound 29 and 5

Ultrasound day! We're at 29 weeks and 5 days and things are looking good.

Babies are measuring exactly the same size: 2lb and 14oz each, which is what the baby books say a singleton should be at this stage. The OB is happy although he said their stomaches are measuring a little small. So we'll see him again in 2.5 weeks to ensure both are growing well.

Otherwise the big news is that the babies have totally changed their positions, which may explain some of the massive discomfort and belly contortions I've experienced in the past week. I mean contortions where I'm certain they are stacked on top of each other trying to excavate their way out of my solar plexus. And discomfort that wakes me from a very peaceful sleep saying, "ouch ouch ouch, what is happening in there and how do I make it stop?"

Our baby boy is now head down! This is a first and it's great news because if he stays that way, we have a shot at delivering rather than a c-section. Our baby girl is still transverse but her head is now on the left rather than the right. And both of their little bums and legs are squished over to my right, which explains all the jabs and rib jumping I feel on my right side.

This past week has brought a lot more contractions and I have less influence on them than I used to. It used to be that if I had contractions, I would sit or lie down and relax and they'd go away. Also, lying down used to be quite comfortable. That isn't the case anymore. The OB confirmed that since my uterus is now the size it would be for a full term single baby, this is totally normal and will likely increase. As long as there isn't consistent pain with the contractions and there are less than 6/hour, I shouldn't worry. Plus my cervix is still about 2.5cm, so clearly the contractions are not 'effective' yet.

So I will keep resting lots, sleeping when I can and we'll all keep on growing. :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Snippets

Stacey: Andrew, I'm scared of what it might be like trying to take care of two newborns.
Andrew : That's a healthy fear.


We laughed.
Not exactly a helpful reply but what else is there to say? We'll just do our best.

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At my last Dr apt, I was cleared to go out and get a pedicure if I wanted to. This is the first summer in years and years that I have not had painted toes. But I can't stand to have someone else touching my feet and it wouldn't be worth the money to pay for a whole pedicure and ask only for the paint job.

So tonight I asked my husband if he'd be willing to paint my toe nails. He chose the colour (bright pink) and from my vantage point of 5 feet away they look pretty darn good. I'm thoroughly impressed.
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At exactly 29 weeks the babies started needing MORE. More food that is. After I eat the babies are very active and I can't help but imagining them using up all those calories I just consumed. And suddenly I can't get through a night without a snack. Sometime between 2 and 4 I'm incapable of staying in bed, I desperately need additional nutrients.
I wish this translated into being able to eat anything I want. But with the return of heartburn and an additional sensitivity to my blood sugar levels, I actually need to be more careful about my food than a week ago. Cookies actually don't appeal to me much and I need balanced snacks spread evenly throughout the day.
New learning: Water does not help heartburn but pickles do! Why is that?!?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Baby Shower

In preparation for the baby shower (and the babies) we started putting our house in order. My parents came down to help (translation: do everything) prior to the shower. This involved things outside the house like get the darn car oil change and a new headlight, weed, work on the deck reno; and inside things like clean, organize, tidy, prep food, get groceries, etc.

My job was to delegate and do small things and get the nursery looking more like a nursery. This meant finally getting the big wall decal onto the wall. Here is the work in progress:
I cannot describe how much I love this decal. It is vinyl and will peel off later on, hopefully easily. For a big decoration, it was easy to apply and it's gorgeous. I can't wait to finish it off with the remaining leaves, flowers and birds. It's the main feature of the room and I love it.

I really don't want the room to have cutsie characters, I want it to be pretty ... at least at the beginning. :)

Saturday was the baby shower and it was all I could have hoped for. There were several teary moments where the reality of finally being here, expecting babies, particularly hit home. I can't give enough credit to my friend Clare for organizing such a great afternoon, full of great food, some simple, meaningful games and fun.

Check out the great banner:
Everyone got to decorate two onesies with fabric paint. They turned out beautifully and I can't wait to use them, first on the babies and later on teddy bears and such. Some people showed particular artistic skills.

I got some lovely gifts and check out just how tiny an outfit a 5lb baby would wear! Note: it's the teensy one draped over my belly.

And finally, the one thing that I had my heart set on and was willing to pay for was the cake. I've mooned over beautiful baby cakes for years, so the chance to have one myself was too much to pass up. I found a great picture on the internet and Clare found me a bakery. I sent them a picture and they delivered. Here is my dream baby cake:

We saved the bottom tier of the cake for when the babies arrive and we have people over to see them.


The shower was a heart-warming, fun, initimate gathering, exactly what I hoped for. The babies got some amazing gifts and now all I have to do is fill in the gaps. I feel like we are much, much more prepared for these little ones to arrive. 7 weeks to go! (most likely anyway)

Friday, August 12, 2011

28 weeks!



We made it to 28 weeks! Babies continue to grow and so does the belly! I'm now at 30lbs weight gain with probably another 8 weeks and 8 lbs to 16lbs to go. Belly dropped even lower this week.



Today's doctor apt went well. Although the ultrasound in 10 days will tell us a lot more about the growth of the babies, this appointment confirmed that all seems to be progressing normally.


It's funny that regardless of what I eat, how much I eat, how much I nap or not nap, my body maintains a regimented pace with this pregnancy. I consistently gain 1lb per week and grow 1 cm per week. Nothing I do seems to change that. I find that fact kind of comforting .... something infinitely bigger and more powerful than me is in control of this process.



I also seem to have no control over how my belly feels. Every week or so I go through a day or two of real discomfort where something just feels wrong. And then that goes away and I'm walking and shifting position comfortably and confidently again, without worrying about how much it might hurt. I just have to go with the flow and not try to control this.



The past two weeks have brought heartburn back into my daily life; some days it's almost non-existent and other days it's terrible. Also, hip pain keeps me turning over and over all night long like a rotisserie chicken. I tried to address some of that with massage and managed to aggravate a very angry trigger point, which has me feeling like I have a massive bruise across my left side and lower belly. Went to a professional last night to sort that out and it's feeling a bit better today.



However, this week also brings my baby shower and a whole lot of preparation to get the house 'company ready.' Not to worry I have an army of others doing the work, I'm mostly just delegating. More on that soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Classes Begin

Yesterday we attended our very first childbirth class.

I waffled about signing up for it for several reasons. It's expensive. Most people I know say all the info goes out the window when you get into the real situation. And the big reason, with twins only a portion of the information will be relevant for us....and we won't know what our options are until we know the positions of the babies close to the end. And that 'end' is also unknown.

However, given that this may be our only pregnancy and childbirth experience, and given that having more info may make me feel better before the big day, I signed us up. Also, as my doctor said, she didn't take the classes but in retrospect her husband was traumatized and the classes would have given them an opportunity to discuss the possibilities ahead of time. So we are signed up and classes have begun.

What I already know is I'll be delivering in an operating room with an epidural. (Note: epidural does not mean I'll have to have the medication, just that the epidural 'line' will be in in case they need to act fast.) I also know that unless baby boy (A) is in the right position, it'll be a mandatory c-section. However, even if it's a c-section, that doesn't mean I won't go into labour. And the more I know when that happens, the better. :)

What I learned last night is what to look for if my water breaks. I also learned that even if it is looking like a vaginal delivery, I will likely labour at the hospital, even in the very early stages. And if it does end up being a vaginal delivery, babies are born before placentas. So that was 3 things that I learned in an hour of her talking about stuff that is mostly irrelevant to us. But whatever, it gave us a chance to meet other pregnant people and also stuff to talk about.

One of the ice breakers the teacher had us do was to introduce ourselves and what the best and worst part of pregnancy has been for us so far. Andrew and I kept our answers pregnancy related but afterwards we agreed that the best part is just the fact that we have achieved pregnancy and the worst was everything that came before - 2.5 years of trying.

Those years of infertility were so hard and so sad that this whole pregnancy journey seems like a short fast ride through Miracleville. I am still amazed to be here, amazed to feel them move, amazed to be a part of this beautiful thing that my body is doing. Compared to 2.5 years, this pregnancy gig is really short lived..... and it`s probably going to come to an end in a short 8 weeks.

WOW!