Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cierra's First Few Days

Just before delivery they told us they had consulted with the pediatrician and they would want us to stay for 48 hours in the hospital. This was so they could check Cierra regularly for fever to see if she had the HFMD virus that I was recovering from. My contagious period would be over by Monday (48 hour mark) and they wanted me to wear gloves when holding her. I wasn't going to complain.
As long as they didn't take her away, I would be fine.
After she was born, they put her right on my chest and we cuddled for quite a while. Her making little noises, me smiling like the happiest woman on earth and Andrew taking pictures.
Cierra didn't cry, she was breathing, she was pinking up but there was no loud crying from her. After a while they took her away to give her a bit of oxygen and see if they could get a solid cry from her.
They couldn't, she was just fine, finished 'pinking up' but she never gave a good loud cry until later that day, or even the next.
I had torn, so as they stitched me (again, thank God for epidurals!) we bonded and she even latched, on both sides! This girl was a champion sucker already.
Once we were all finished in the delivery room, they moved us to the Mother and Babe unit where we learned the staff would also have to gown and glove and mask whenever they came into the room. They also asked Andrew to not touch anything outside the room if he was leaving. So we had to call someone if I wanted juice or anything else from outside the room. But overall, this wasn't a terrible thing. Apparently there was another 'quarantined' room just down the hall from us so staff had their work cut out for them. (Not sure what the other people had, but actually having everyone gown and glove may have been a nice precaution for us too.)
Andrew went home for dinner and to put the kids to bed on Saturday, then came back for the night. On Sunday, he went home in the morning and brought the kids and grandparents back for a visit, then they all went home. He came back again that night after the twins bedtime and spent the night again.
I felt really good about managing those 9 hours on my own in the hospital. I was fine. Cierra was fine. I was tired and wanted to nap but overall, there were no issues.
The two days passed quite quickly. My pain was very manageable, I never got shocky. Cierra and I had lots of time snuggling. And then we went home.
A 10 minute drive is much easier to prepare for and execute than a 2 hour drive from Nanaimo! We were home before we knew it and then the chaos began.
Sam and Rachel were thrilled that we were home. Loud and happy and pushing boundaries and eager to talk talk talk about everything. My big kids are so big and 'my baby' ('your baby' Sam says, or 'my baby sister') is so small and perfect ... and quiet!
I actually don't remember if all newborns are like this for a while or if Cierra is a super relaxed baby but I'm hoping for the latter.
She eats when she wants to (imagine that! No Schedule, no pushing feeds) and does so very eagerly every 3-4 hours during the morning and afternoon, every 1-2 hours during the evening, and then she sleeps! She Sleeps! During the night!
For the past 4 nights she has gone 4-5 hours (once 6 hours) between feeds at night. Granted when she wakes, she eats a lot for a long time, full hour long feeds, but I have slept more this past week than I ever dreamed was possible with a newborn.
I pray this continues, my perfect baby girl, a good sleeper and a good eater. It doesn't get better than that.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Nov 21, 22, 23? The hopeful birth story

Today I had a Dr apt. I am sooo much better than I was earlier in the week with respect to conquering this virus. I had some real contractions this morning and I'm sure I passed....'something' and I feel I'm caught up on my sleep. So I really hoped that she would find I had made some progress.
Sure enough, I was 3-4 cm dilated. Whoo hooo!
All day I've had contractions on and off between 6 and 9 minutes apart. We went to the hospital for a non-stress test and an ultrasound this afternoon. Baby looks great, they guess she/he is about 7lb11oz.
That's a big baby! Much bigger than my wee 5lb twins.
Came home and managed a little nap and contractions basically stopped. They've started again now that I'm up and now it's a wait and see.. wait and see... wait and see.

I had contractions throughout the evening Friday but they slowed down as I got tired. So I went to bed! Did not see that coming. I expected to have a baby that night not go to bed.
I woke around 3:30 feeling ... Not quite right. I stayed in bed and shortly after 4 wondered if I was actually hungry. I considered some food when suddenly a contraction came on much stronger than my previous ones. And then another just a few minutes later and by the third one I started to track them and ran to the bathroom where my body ejected everything from my lower digestive system.
So between strong contractions I had super strong cramping diarrhea. Not fun!
After about 15 to 20 minutes of that, the contractions were coming even faster, every 2.5 minutes, I started to panic a little. I had to get Andrew up! We had to get to the hospital! This was the real thing and it was happening super fast.
I managed to wake him, told him to wake my mom and that we had to go, now! We were out of the house within 15 minutes, it was 5:10. By then I couldn't walk through a contraction.
The great thing about running out the hospital at night is there is no traffic. We were there within 10 minutes. The walk from the parking lot in the rain was harrowing, having to stop twice for contractions and again twice in the hallways.
By now contracts were even closer than 2 mins and I knew I wanted an epidural, which I told them as we were 'checking in.' They took one look at how I was handling the contraction and put us in a delivery room and called the doctor on call.
Everything happened so fast from there, the doctor came right away and checked me. You would not believe the desperate prayer I sent to heaven that I wouldn't be too far along, that there was still time for the meds. I was about 7 cm and thinning nicely! She gave the ok and ordered the epidural.
The anesthesiologist came very quickly with the blessed meds. By now it was probably around 6 am? And contractions were so strong I could hardly breathe through them let alone consider moving. Breathing just made it hurt more and I swear contractions were only about a minute apart.
The epidural started to take effect and I could feel pressure too.
Everything after that point got easier. I got the shakes and they warmed me up with blankets but the pain eased off and I relaxed. By 7 the on-call doctor was debating leaving me until the shift change at 8am or checking me again. Since I was comfortable, she left me for the next doctor and 'let my body do the work' of getting baby down, rather than me pushing baby down.
And since I was comfortable, the next doctor left me too. I was probably fully dilated and could have pushed by 7 or 8am but 'eh, whatever.' She came back once or twice but never checked me until 9:50 and suggested we see how some pushing went.
Andrew made a dash to the bathroom and I attempted one push while he was gone. I made so much progress the doctor told me to stop to wait for him to get back, didn't want him to miss the birth. She was only partly kidding.
After the next contraction I asked for a mirror and got to witness the most beautiful birth ever.
I wasn't scared, I wasn't in shock. I was connected and in the moment and got a little teary with joy and anticipation at watching my baby slowly (not so slowly) come into the world.
The doctor said it was the first time she had ever looked up to see a Mom smiling as she pushed.
My sweet baby girl was born at 10:17 am on November 22, 2014.
Cierra Hope.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

41 Weeks and Healing

I'm a full week overdue now and maybe the only woman in history to be so incredibly grateful for the delay.
I am now over the worst of the hand foot and mouth disaster that struck our house. This 'mild' virus that most adults are immune to struck us all like dominos. One benefit seems to be that we were all at our worst at different times and the worst of the virus runs it's course over 4 or 5 days. This spread out the timeline of the whole contagious household period (seriously stressful when giving birth is imminent!) but allowed us to focus on the individual who was at their worst at the moment. Sam and Rachel each had two bad nights. Andrew and I each had two bad nights but those nights never really coincided with the others.
Tuesday night was my worst ever. My feet were on FIRE! Tylenol did very little. Melatonin was a total tease, relaxing me only enough to make my feet more sensitive. 12:30 found me soaking my feet in cold water in an attempt to bring down the swelling just a bit.... so they didn't feel like they were going to explode when the sheets touched them. I slept about 3 hours total.
(Many of the blisters develop deep under the skin and are super painful on skin that is thick like the soles of the feet. I think that explains why the kids blisters only bothered them for a short time and Andrew and I suffered for 3 whole days with them. The kid's skin is so soft that the blisters came up more easily.)
However by Wednesday morning I didn't feel I needed to take a Tylenol to get through the morning. And I napped morning and afternoon and could feel the swelling decrease throughout the day. Walking was less and less painful as the hours passed and I could see the swelling and fluid disappearing from the blisters in my hands throughout the day. By dinner time handwashing wasn't painful anymore at all. Thank you God for the immune system!
Last night I slept through... well as much as one does at 41 weeks pregnant. By sleep through the night, I mean I was only up to pee (5 times?) and fell right back to sleep afterwards. Heavenly Sleep! And this morning after getting the kids out of the house I went back and slept another 2 hours. I better catch up now because whatever my future holds, I know it isn't an abundance of sleep.
Now that I can walk and use my hands without pain again, my day is going to consist of tackling laundry to help decontaminate the house. Woohoo, exciting times!
Baby Hope, we are almost ready for you. How about giving Mommy one more good night of sleep and then arrive on 11/21/14? Those numbers seem very lucky to me.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Over due prayer request

I never thought I'd be overdue with this baby. I never thought I'd be praying to hold on as long as possible.
Sam and Rachel and Andrew all have hand foot and mouth disease and I fear I'm coming down with it too.  If I stay healthy, the worst of the contagion should be over by Thursday, one full week past my due date.
If I come down with it, it's pretty much guaranteed the baby will get it.... And my immune system will help her recover through breastfeeding. But breastfeeding might be mighty challenging if baby has sores in her mouth.
Gaaaaagh, I'm not liking our odds here. I've got a sore throat today and it's making me very anxious.
I'm suddenly anxious the way I was through so much of the twin pregnancy, freaked out about pains, about baby moving enough, about the possible complications and illness and keeping an infant safe through cold and flu season.
I'm trying to trust in God's timing, that all will work out the way it is meant to. That baby will be born on the day she is meant to be born and we can handle anything that happens.
I'm not succeeding. And I'll keep trying.
I've had some real contractions today. Baby is definitely lower and I know my body is preparing for this big event. I just don't know how ready I am emotionally given our rough week.
So I'm asking for prayers for all of us.

Friday, November 7, 2014

3 Year Old Rachel

Oh my beautiful girl at 3 is quite a handful. This is a harder post to write because I want to be honest and I want to do justice to the complexity that is my girl.

Rachel has always been our still water that runs deep. Rae loves hugs and will often grab your arm or leg for a quick snuggle. She is very keen to talk about the baby in my belly and I can tell she had a lot going on in her mind about babies and families but doesn't quite have a complexity of language to talk about it all yet. She is slow with words but is capable of complex sentences and complex ideas during play. But she is getting more and more determined in her ideas and in acting out her preferences, whether those around her go along with them or not.

She has an intensity of focus that allows her to play by herself for long periods of time and she will carefully place her toys to get things exactly the way she wants them to be. I often wonder if all the 'language' that Sam exhibits all the time disturbs her. And I also think she is pretty good at totally ignoring him and doing her very own thing, sometimes silently, and sometimes completely contradicting him without caring one bit.

Rachel loves to play house and takes very good care of her babies, whether the baby is Sam (a rather loud, opinionated, difficult baby for whom she has incredible patience!) or a Lovey who apparently cries the minute she puts it down or hands it over to someone else to hold for a minute. She is soothing and gentle 'Mommy.' 

When she is in a happy mood and playing WITH Sam, her constant refrain is 'ok ok ok' and then she will contribute some new idea to the scenario or suggest something contradictory to what they are doing but regardless of his reaction, she will not break from her persona of 'happy playmate,' just respond with an appeasing 'ok ok ok.' I'm not sure where she gets this from....but when she is happy, this girl is unflappable in her play... and shows an amazing tenacity in her effort to bring Sam in-line with her ideas.

She also really enjoys pretending to be a cat these days. She will meow and nuzzle up to us saying, 'I a kitty' and not break character for a very loooong time. Sometimes she will eat a whole meal or go through a whole routine, like getting out of the house, while maintaining her cat persona.

In spite of her independence, at this 3 year mark Rachel is highly emotional. She has multiple meltdowns every day, hysterical crying that seems to come out of the blue over simple things like, 'it's time to eat.' It's hard to know when these meltdowns are coming because they seem to start out silently....the initial response isn't tears, or a verbal reply, it's a silent passive refusal to do what is asked or respond to a request. Which leaves me not knowing what the heck is going on for her and the more I try to find out, the worse things get.

Once the waterworks start, there is no pleasing her, everything is a disaster and she counters every single option you give her. The upshot is that her default request is for a 'nap' whereby she goes to cry on her bed until she calms down, which is a thousand times better than a kid who throws tantrums or throws things or hurts themselves. Sometimes I will give her whatever time she needs to calm down and then she will come out and say 'I happy now.' Sometimes I will go in and try to talk to her, which almost never works. Sometimes I will go in and rub her back, use very few words, offer a hug; this seems to be more effective than trying to talk.

I think in the love languages area, Rachel's language is physical touch. She is very sensitive to it and anything harsh really affects her and reconnecting with her when she is in an emotional place is best done WITHOUT words. I find this hard because I tend to be very verbal but we are working on it and have seen good progress this week.

I so love my girl and her quiet, strong personality.  I can't wait to see how we bond over this new addition to our lives. I know she is going to be an amazing big sister.

3 Year Old Sam

With baby 3 due any day, I'm anxious to spend some time capturing who Sam and Rachel are right now as they turn 3.

Now, before the big change in their lives. Now, at the 3rd year mark that seemed so important and so far away when they were little. (Yeah, ok, I'm 3 weeks late but better late than never!)

I was told by other twin parents that 3 was kind of a magic age for twins. An age where it became easier to have two than to have a singleton.

I'm happy to say I think we are experiencing this although it isn't an overnight thing but rather something we've seen significant strides in over the past 6 - 9 months.

They play together for extended periods now, especially if they aren't supposed to! Naps have disappeared and I'm trying to enforce a quite time where they are both in their rooms playing quietly (or napping if need be) and I can nap! Instead they sneak out into each others rooms and play so incredibly well together for AN HOUR that I can't help but allow it and be grateful that we have achieved this stage.

Sam at 3 years old is pretty much the definition of a happy boy. His mood is pretty consistent and it is one that brings to mind sunny, blue-sky days, warm grass, picnic lunches and nothing to do but roll down the hills in the grass. He is a very connected, communicative guy who is deeply in tune with the people around him. Loving him is about communicating with him and he is so good at saying what he needs.

His ability to show empathy for others (including Rachel) surprises me every week. Example: Rachel was having a meltdown in the car on the way to daycare this week, a 15 minute trip that is usually filled with Sam talking non-stop about everything he sees and thinks. True 3 year old stream of consciousness - it's the Sam show. But this morning with Rachel crying beside him, he was silent, intermittently looking out the window and looking over at her, gaging how she was doing as she slowly calmed down over the course of about 10 minutes. After she had been quiet for a minute he asked, 'You happy now, Rae?' It was such a sweet question, so sincere, after a display of such patience and compassion. He made space in that time for her to have her big feelings. I was so touched.... Rachel wasn't... her sour reply of 'No' did not phase him though. I followed up his question with my own, 'Are you happy Sam?' 'Yeah I happy!' he quickly replied. I asked Rachel, 'How do you feel Rachel?' She replied, 'I still grumpy.'  Fair enough.

His ability to talk non-stop about everything and anything continues to amaze me as well. Generally, if he is awake he is making noise. However, it isn't crazy noise (although he does do a lot of sound effects), it's usually talking with the intent of communicating with someone, which touches my heart like nothing else. Granted, sometimes him asking the same question 3 times drives me a little nuts but he's getting better about moving on to the next point or taking a cue as to how to move the conversation along.

We have a new rule of staying in the bedroom after the bedtime routine even if they aren't tired yet. They can play by themselves in their individual rooms. Sam pushes the physical boundary of his room and almost every single night falls asleep in the middle of his bedroom doorway with his Lovey tucked under his arm. I take a picture almost every night because I find it hilarious.

This is not to say he is perfect. We still have 3 year old meltdowns over 'no more TV' especially when he's hungry or tired but they are short lived and he hasn't had what I consider a tantrum for months now. He's showing an ability to modulate his emotions that I would not expect at this age. He is a true delight to be around and I adore him.