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.

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.