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.