Friday, May 27, 2011

You Can Stop Cooking Dinner Now

I can't believe it's been almost a year and a half since I brought my little girls home from the hospital and while the time has flown by, this has been the longest eighteen months of my life. It has been a wonderfully thrilling and terrifying roller coaster of emotions. I am so excited to see what the future holds for us, but am content with taking it day by day.

With the first year and a half monument quickly approaching, I was looking at half-written blogs (there are TONS of them) and came across one that I wrote sharing the story of their birth. I thought that it was the perfect time to share this, and thank God I wrote most of it soon after their birth because I've already forgotten half of it - 1. So I'll have more children. 2. Mother's brain.

So, here it goes...

As you've read in previous blogs, I really enjoyed being pregnant with the little ones - we shared my body quite nicely. But towards the end (after 39 weeks, much farther along than most friends, family and even I thought we'd make it) I was ready for these girls to come! I tried everything "they" recommend to induce labor naturally and it just resulted in false labor contractions that were uncomfortable and annoying. Finally, on Saturday, December 5 after having false contractions all afternoon, I sat down on my couch and had a little "heart to heart" with my girls. I told them to come when they were ready. I told them that I would wait for them and that the ball was in their court. Well, I guess they are control-freaks like their mama, because two hours later (around 7 pm), I felt my first contraction. I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for a few days, but when my first "real" contraction hit, I knew it was time.

It hit me as I was washing the bathroom floor. (Another sign of impending labor - I had been scrubbing floors all day long... like on my hands and knees scrubbing... at 9 months pregnant and 60 lbs heavier, that was quite a feat). Anywho, the first one hit and I knew instantly that this was it. I walked to the kitchen, where Damon was cooking a lovely pasta dinner and said "You can stop cooking dinner now." He looked back at me with excitement in his eyes.

I immediately got in the shower - I had wanted to give birth in water even before I was pregnant. The pains were intense, but manageable. With each tightening of my belly, I knew we were that much closer to meeting our little ones. After about 30 minutes in the shower, I told Damon to call our OB. It's funny - in our Bradley class, we practiced over and over timing contractions, and practiced the scenario of labor, but all of that flew out of the window when it was actually time. I have no idea how close my contractions were or how long they lasted... I just knew it was time to go to the hospital.

Damon was like a soldier at war. Within minutes he had the whole car packed with our necessities (and non-necessities - who really packs a pack of playing cards? "Oh yeah, we can play a game of Go Fish between contractions") and had my seat covered with blankets and towels. I shimmied up in the seat and we were on our way.

As soon as we parked, I jumped (as any pregnant woman could jump) out of the car and threw up in the parking lot (I will never enjoy popcorn with Parmesan cheese the same way again). Once relieved of the contents of my stomach, we entered the hospital, ready for our mission.

We checked in to the hospital and they showed us to our room. The nurse had me change into my gown and told me to lay down in the bed and started to strap me in... I started feeling like I wasn't controlling the ship anymore so we pulled out the birth plan. They hooked me up to the monitors to check on the girls and bombarded me with questions (which may have been necessary for legal purposes, but I couldn't have cared less to answer those questions at the time). As the contractions were becoming more intense, I was feeling very constrained in the bed and was wanting my freedom. I asked to go into the shower and once they got the positive readings they were looking for, allowed me to roam free.

Ahh... sweet relief... the contractions were so much easier to handle while warm water was pulsating on my lower back. Damon grabbed ahold of the shower head and positioned it in all the right places. I bent over a chair, swayed back and forth and moaned through each contraction.

An hour later, it was time to check on the girls again and I was forced to leave my contented spot to return to the bed for more monitoring. As I laid there, strapped down to the bed, my contractions became more intense and almost unbearable. During each contraction I thought to myself "Drugs! Drugs! Drugs will make this all better! When it stops, I need to ask for drugs!" Then the contraction would stop and I would feel better. The next contraction would come before I was able to request relief.

Back in the shower... oh sweet shower. Not only did the shower help with the contractions, but it helped me stay clean. My body wanted to rid itself of everything it had before I gave birth. I won't explain any more - I'll just leave that up to your imagination... although it is probably worse than you can imagine... Damon had to request an extra gown.

Everything happened much quicker than we expected. When we entered the hospital I was only 3 cm dilated, which was a big disappointment as I had been that dilated for almost a week. An hour later, I was 5 cm and an hour after that I was 7 cm. At 7 cm I was ready to push. Everything in my body told me to push, but my doctor warned me to wait until I was 9 cm. It was quite difficult to hold back, but I trusted my OB... I figured that she had done this a few times more than me.

An hour later, I couldn't wait anymore. It was time. My doctor came in to check me and we were at 9 cm - ready to go! Having twins, I was considered "high risk" and therefore it was "mandatory" for me to deliver in the OR (operating room). My birth plan requested that I be able to deliver in the labor room (as long as there were no other issues). So, when it was time, my doctor told me to go ahead and start pushing in the labor room. I was so excited for this next step! I laid down in the bed and we started pushing. I didn't need to do anything as my body was doing it all for me. I let my instincts take over and pushed and wailed. After a minute or so, a hospital administrator came in and demanding I be taken to the OR. My doctor reluctantly agreed, and they started to move me to the new room.

Well, my body had started something that it was determined to finish, so I continued pushing (which required the use of my vocal-cords for some reason) as they wheeled me down the hall. I can only imagine what those poor soon-to-be-mothers walking the floor were thinking as I was screaming down to my new room.

When we arrived to the very bright, cold and institutional room, I was not pleased when they transferred me to another "bed" but I was ready to meet my little ones so I rolled myself over to the bed or should I say operating table. Everything was very sterile, metal and cold and I thought to myself that this is not where I wanted my girls to enter their life, but I really had no choice, so I pushed forward (pun intended).


I thought I might spare the gory details about giving birth, but if you have read it this far, you must be somewhat interested and so I'll share my story.

Pushing was the worst. Kristie Allie said it right when her character on "Look Who's Talking" compared child birth to "pushing something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon..." It burned like hell and I felt like I was going to rip in half. But I was determined so I tapped into my Bradley instructor and tried to follow all of the techniques I had learned in class. Damon helped by pulling my knees behind my ears... not really, but it sure felt like it1. Ten minutes later at 11:30 pm, I felt a burst of release (and wetness) as Abby entered the world. Our OB handed her to Damon and he showed her to me. I was so exhausted that I could hardly see her and asked, "Is she pretty?" Damon looked at the 4 lb 14 oz little purple monster with a black eye and smashed face and replied "She's beautiful..." and then whispered to the nurse, "Is she okay? Why does she look like this?"

Later we found out that Abby was so eager that she had descended into my pelvis early and sat there for a month with her face pressed against my pelvic bone while Issy sat on top of her.

The nurses removed Abby and took her to the nursery while I rested. And rest I did... I relaxed and relaxed. From everything that I had read about twin births, the second one seemed to "glide out effortlessly". Five minutes before midnight my OB reminded me, "You have 5 minutes if you want these babies to have the same birthday". I sighed and said, "I can't... I'm too tired."

I closed my eyes and just relaxed. I needed to recuperate. I wanted to meet my second baby, but I also wanted to sleep - little did I know that this was no longer something I would be able to do for a long while. At a quarter after midnight, my OB told me that I was (for lack of better words) closing up. My cervix was closing and I needed to start the labor process again. As I had prepared for a natural birth, I had requested to spur the labor on by natural methods... one which included nipple stimulation. My OB, an advocate of my wishes, told me to start stimulating. I reached for my nipple and started rubbing it between my thumb and my middle finger. After all these folks had seen of me, I had lost all modesty and... shall I say it... self-respect? And while I was determined to have these girls as naturally as possible, I really didn't have the energy or desire to stimulate myself. Especially in that sitution... the mood wasn't right. No candle, no soft music... how could I turn myself on?

So... Pitosin it was... Bring it on. Help me deliver sweet Isabelle to this world. They started the Pitosin to help revigurate the contractions. And revigurate they did!!! The contractions came back full blast! I laid there, experiencing an immense tightening senstation in the deepest of my guts... wanting to feel that sweet release again. My husband grabbed my legs at the knees and pulled them as close to my head as they could possibly reach and I pushed with all my exhausted might. I pushed and pushed (okay, I admit, I was super lazy at this point) and nothing.

In the hour or so that I was pushing with Isabelle, we had a number of interupptions. I didn't care to notice who was popping in our room, but I remember hearing my OB saying, "Yes... we're still at it..." "Yes, this is just like the good old days..." "No, we're not going anywhere right now...". I thank God for my OB.

At a little after 1 am, my OB told me to "get serious or she was going to have to cut me open." That was all the motivation I needed. I waited until the next contraction had waved over and my husband pulled my legs to way up over my head. I again tapped into my Bradley instructor, breathed in and pushed as hard as I could. Through the screams and grunts, I felt an emreging occur... Fire down below! Again my insides felt as if they might rip open, but I pushed through with all the might I could muster. "She's crowing". I gathered up any energy I could find... my elbows were hiding some... "She's almost here". And then PUSH as hard as possible... and then the sweet release. The sweet release was very messy. Lots of fluid... lots of blood... but oh so grand! At 1:09 am, the next day, Isabelle made her entrance into the world.

While there were complications after the birth, nothing prevented me from nursing my babies and being their mama. A wild ride at the hospital turned into an even more wild ride at home... but I have survived and am looking forward to telling my "war stories". More to come...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Silent moments

It's almost midnight and I am tired. I should have been in bed hours ago, but I'm still awake. Why? Because I hear... silence. It's such a beautiful thing these day. All day long I hear noise. I wake to babies crying or alarm blasting. I snooze, comfort, change diapers, make juice, read books, prepare breakfast, brew coffee, feed babies, sing songs, clean babies, change diapers, stack rings, shower (ahh.......), do hair, choose clothes, read books, drive to work, make calls, meet with chatty people, read emails, answer emails, make calls, write things, repeat last 4, repeat again (and for another couple hours), drive home on the phone, get home, say hellos, change diapers, play games, connect, prepare dinner, feed babies, play peek-a-boo, wash babies, dress babies, read books, sing lullabys, pray for no crying... then wash dishes, sweep floor, pick up toys, grab something to eat while I'm folding laundry, wash more dishes, clean poop out of the tub, boil soiled toys, feed the cat, check emails, brush teeth, wash face... and done... in bed... out for the count...

But I'm needing a minute to myself right now... I know I'm going to pay for it in the morning. But this minute or two, is mine. I am going to cherish it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beautiful Day for a Stroll

The girls are following a pretty good schedule these days. They take an am nap and a pm nap - both about 1.5 - 2 hours long, usually at the same time, if not within 30 minutes from each other. So there is a 2-3 hour window between their naps where I like to do something fun with them. Today I decided it was a nice day to stroll to the playground.

The playground we like to go to is about 1.5 miles from our house, but it is nice because it has two baby swings (about the only thing the girls can do at the playground these days) and it is located right on the intracoastal waterway, covered by big oaks draped in Spanish moss - beautiful.

The girls like to walk. They are usually very quiet and observant on their walks. Mommy likes the walks too. It's a good time to clear my head and enjoy the outdoors. This walk is especially nice because we go through a beautiful neighborhood and I daydream about living in one of the gorgeous house with wrap-around porches and marsh-views. There are usually other people strolling about - riding their bikes, walking their dogs or babies and are usually all very friendly. About two blocks from the park Abby starts fussing and I know from experience that this is not a short-lived fussing. She's getting tired and likes to be held at this point. Knowing we have only two blocks to go, I leave her in the stroller and pick up the pace. I know it will totally be worth it to her once she's swinging in the breeze.

50 feet from the park she's screaming at the top of her lungs, so I give into her demands and pull her out of the stroller. Not because she has me wrapped around her little finger, but because I don't want to disturb the folks who are enjoying their afternoon in the park (I try to convince myself).

We get to the swings and I put them both in and push - Whee!!! Issy loves it and squeals with delight. Abby is quiet, but clearly annoyed that I thought she may enjoy something so juvenile as swinging. We swing for a few minutes and I look around the park and notice it is usually quiet. I wonder where everyone is this beautiful afternoon. Then I look up at a dark sky - uh oh...

Back in the stroller the girls go and to my relief Abby stays quiet. I estimate that if I walk fast, I can make it home in 15 minutes. Two blocks away from the park, Abby (in true Abby-fashion)starts wailing again and then I feel the drops. I start jogging - the BOB performs perfectly - but my wet flip flops do not. I squeeze my big toes against my second toes as I jog so that the flops stay on. This is very uncomfortable and I'm sure it looks awkward. But I'm running in the rain with a crying baby, so I'm sure it fits the scene.

Meanwhile, Issy is just enjoying the ride. Thank God for Issy.

About half-way home, I reason that the rain isn't that bad (it was a medium-sprinkle) and take Abby from the stroller. She is instantly quiet and seems to enjoy the rain drops. Nice. Issy content in the stroller, Abby content on my hip, Mama content with the silence. Plus, the wet little baby hugging my arm feels nice.

I wave to some homeowners and joke about the "princess" who would rather get wet then sit in the stroller. They laugh, I laugh, good times. I notice an unusually large flying insect on the back of Abby's head and try to wave it away. It seems "stuck" so I get a little nervous and try to flick it off. It flies away but immediately comes right back - buzzing and mad. I start waving my hand around my girl and the little sh*t keeps trying to land on her. It finally happens upon my shoulder and OUCH! It bit me!

Well, now I get scared that it is going to bite Abby, so I start to walk faster. I hear the insect buzzing from ear to ear and I try to shoo it away. Well, I have one hand holding Abby and the other is flailing uncontrollably around me and my baby. I realize that I have let go off the stroller that is holding Issy and that it is now rolling away and heading straight for a ditch. (All of this is in plain view of the homeowners).

I run towards the stroller, grab it just in time, and keep running as fast as I can with a baby bouncing on my hip. The damn bug follows us. I am not a violent person by nature, but at that moment, if I would have had a mini shotgun, I would have shoved it down his tiny gullet and gleefully pulled the trigger.

I keep running with Abby in one hand while the other hand goes from pushing the stroller to waving around our heads like a mad woman, back to pushing the stroller. I bet looking at it from the outside, it was quite comical.

As I approach our home, the rain stops (ha ha). I walk in the house with two bites on my shoulder, one bite on my neck, one sleeping baby and one very wet baby. Luckily both babies escaped any bug bites.

It was quite an adventure (man, I need to get a life), but totally worth it, right?

Issy - "Totally worth it."

Abby - "Totally not worth it."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bare Necessities (0-3 Months)

I had the hardest time registering for baby items. How was I supposed to know what I/we needed!? And of course, all of the retail stores are right there to help you through the process - with a list of 200+ items that you will "definitely need". And having twins was even more difficult because you don't necessarily need two of everything and - being the budget-conscious mama that I am - I really didn't want to buy anything that I didn't need or wasn't going to use... imagine that...

So, I have compiled a list of items that were completely necessary for us during the first three months. Hope it helps.

- footed pajamas - lots of them (weather appropriate)
- t-shirts (that snap)
- socks
- swaddles
- hats
- blankets

I am not a fashionista. Although I love to see my girls all dressed up and looking cute, it was not worth the hassle the first few months (it might have been different if I only had one). Save the cute outfits for when they are older and for when you are out and about more often. Besides, babies are the cutest when wearing nothing at all.

Since it was winter when the girls were born, for the first few months, they lived in footie pajamas. I liked the snap ones because you could unsnap from the waist down when changing a diaper - this way their little chest/belly stayed warm. But the zip pajamas are the quickest and easiest! We ended up dressing the girls in a t-shirt and socks and then putting the zip pjs overtop.

Things to think about: it is no fun trying to pull a baby's head through a top - for you or the baby. Look for clothes that you can put on around the baby instead of pull over.

Swaddles were an absolute must for us. The girls would not fall asleep without being wrapped up as tight as a burrito. We tried a few different kinds of blankets and swaddles, but ended up really liking Kiddapotamus (which is now Summer) organic swaddleme. It was super easy to wrap and the girls couldn't Houdini themselves out of it. If you end up using blankets, the thermal (waffle) blankets seemed to work best for us - good mix of stretchy and soft.

- swaddles
- co-sleeper/ pack-n-play
- vibrating chair/ swing
- infant carrier
- white noise
- a king size bed (queen works too, but king is best...)

I remember during my pregnancy, I would tell people "the girls will sleep in a pack-n-play next to our bed for the first few months, and then they will graduate to the crib..." Ha ha ha... So easy, right?

The first night home from the hospital was quite an eye opener for us. We played musical beds all night long, in and out of a dream state. They went from the pack-n- play to the swing to the vibrating chair to our bed back to the pack-n-play and around again. For the first few weeks, night time sleep worked best in their infant carriers in the living room while Daddy snoozed in the bedroom. Then we moved the infant carriers into the pack-n-play in the bedroom, but the girls pretty much ended up in our bed most of the night and Daddy spent many nights in the guest bedroom.

While the girls (and their parents) were figuring out the best place to snooze, there were some constants that were a must. They seemed to like the environment that was most womb-like... tight quarters (swaddled and nestled in their bed), white noise like a fan or the noises from the vibrating chair (apparently the womb is as loud as a vacuum - who knew!?), some movement or vibration (swing/vibrating chair) and in close proximity to the milk.

The girls seemed to prefer the vibrating chairs over the swing and we liked the Boppy chair the best. We also had a Fisher Price vibrating chair, but it didn't bounce in addition to vibrating (which ended up being helpful) and we would always trip over the base of it. Stubbing your toe is no good when you are trying to deal with one (or two) crying infants... on less than 4 hours of sleep.

- a boob (or two)
- boppy pillow (or two)
- nursing cream
- breast pump ?
- bottles
- spit up cloths

Breastfeeding twins has its challenges, but can be done! You'll have to figure out if feeding them one at a time or together works for you, but a Boppy pillow helps either way. I was lucky and didn't have many issues bfeeding, but I did need some nursing cream the first few weeks while my nipples adjusted. My friend got me a jar of Earth Mama * Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter and it worked wonders. It is completely organic and was completely effective for me.

I wanted to make sure that my girls continued to have as much breastmilk as possible when I returned to work so we splurged on a pump. We got the Mac-Daddy Medela FreeStyle which is worth the price – I justify the cost because without it, we would have spent more on formula in the last 7 months. So – it depends on how long you plan on breastfeeding, but it is so convenient! Hands free so you can sit at your desk and answer emails while you are pumping away! In fact, I am pumping as I type this!!!

- diapers
- wipes
- diaper cream
- changing table

I had lofty goals of using cloth diapers for my girls, but we haven’t gotten there yet. When registering for baby items, make sure you include plenty of size 1 and 2 diapers as you will go through them quickly! We have always used Pampers diapers and wipes (we started out with Pampers Sensitive for both) and the girls haven’t has any major issues. They did need diaper cream a few times when a few rash bumps would appear, but a little slather of Boudreaux’s Natural Butt Paste would do the trick!

- pacifier
- infant wrap/ sling
- your arms

Babies cry... a lot... if they are tired; use the tips in the sleeping section. If they are hungry, use the tips in the eating section. If they are both well-rested and well-fed and they have a clean diaper, then they just need love. We used pacifiers for the first couple weeks, and then the girls didn’t want them anymore. They liked to be held. All the time. You’ll learn how to do a lot of things while holding a baby. I am quite handy with only one hand! A sling is nice because it can leave your hands free to get stuff done around the house, while baby is nestled comfortably next to you. I really like the Moby wrap – but it lies… I never did figure out how to carry both babies in it…

- bath tub
- soap/shampoo
- wash cloths
- baby towels

Until the baby’s belly button falls off, you won’t be washing him/her underwater, so you don’t need much but water and soap. We just gave our girls sponge-baths on a towel. But once the tip falls off (gross question of the day – keep or throw away their belly button stub?) then I recommend bath time! My girls loved it and it would calm them down and wear them out! We didn’t/ don’t use any lotions (their skin is soft enough!) but the cleanser we used was a soap/shampoo combo – California Baby Calming Shampoo and Bodywash. It smells so good – like clean sweet baby.

- infant carrier
- car bases
- infant carrier stroller

It is quite difficult to bounce around town with two infants. While all of my other mama friends were going out to lunch or running errands with their newborn, I was either stuck at home with the girls (wailing - me and the girls) or driving around with the girls (sobbing - again, me and the girls). (Okay, okay it wasn't that bad, but there were those days...)

The times that I did feel some sort of relief is when I would take the girls for a walk or drive. It seemed to calm them and give me a moment to clear my head and get out of the house. It wasn't often the first few weeks since it was winter and I was a new mom scared of my newborn girls catching a cold, but once we realized that the fresh air knocked them out, the walks (or drives) became a daily occurrence.

I scored a Baby Trend Double Snap-n-Go for cheap at a consignment sale and we got the Baby Trend Infant Carriers and bases to go along with them. It was a little bit of a hassle snapping the girls in, but I would suggest not spending a lot of money on this system. The girls have almost grown out of it.

Good luck to all of the new and soon-to-be parents out there! It’s an exciting, trying, exhausting and thrilling time… and it is completely worth it!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mama Blessed

What's better than being a mama? Being appreciated for being a mama!!! We celebrated my first mother's day yesterday and I received the best presents!
1. Abby slept through the night for the first time!!!
2. Damon gave me some beautiful flowers and a gift certificate for a spa day! Heavenly bliss - here I come!
3. My sister wrote me a note which hugged my heart. She said it was okay to share, so here it goes:
"So many changes in the last 365 days! This year I have watched you transform from a Free Bird to a Sick Pup, a Social Butterfly, a Busy Busy Bee, a Hungry Hungry Hippo, a Leaky Cow... and now, best of all, into a Mother Goose and when necessary, a Mama Lion. Throughout all the morphing, you never complained, regretted, rejected responsibility or requested something different. You embraced it all and lived in every moment 100%. You took all of the classes, questioned all the classes; read all the books, questioned all the books. You even stuck to your guns about surviving the labor drug-free and 100% focused. You are truly an amazing mother just like I knew you'd be. That is why God gave you two. "

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Feeding Machine

I pumped in a utility closet the other day. Sitting in there on a cold chair, stuffing my face with my lunch, my breasts exposed and my pump grunting away, I thought, "is this really my life?" Seriously? This is not what I envisioned when I used to dream about becoming a mother.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2010: Blogging out, Facebook In (for now)

I can't believe it has been 6 weeks since my little ones were born. I have meant to blog about them - I have so many stories already! But it seems like everytime I sit down to type, there is a baby to feed or a diaper to change. This parenting stuff is kinda tough - mad props to all the moms out there - and the dads...

Eventually, I will have more time to share stories about the girls, but in the meantime, I am only able to share quick updates/pictures on facebook. If you are interested, feel free to add me as a friend to keep up to date with the goings on of our lil ones and motherhood.