In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Parenting Twins - The First Year (Month 1)

I can’t believe my babies are already one month old!  The past four weeks have flown by! We went to the doctor today for our one month checkup, and my little preemies are no longer preemies.  Aaron Elijah was 5lbs 3oz when we brought him home from the hospital.  He has now surpassed his brother in weight and is 6lbs 14oz.  Ethan Matthew was 5lbs 8oz when we brought him home, and today he weighed 6lbs 12oz.  It’s crazy how fast they are growing.  The clothes that they once swam in are now getting snug!  Two weeks ago, we were in preemie clothes.  Today, their newborn clothes fit perfectly.  Before I know it, they will be wearing their 0-3 month clothes. 

So how has the first month of parenting multiples gone?  One word…SURVIVAL.  Truthfully, it’s gone just as we expected.  We’re just trying to survive and take one day at a time.  This is a huge life change for us.  While taking care of two babies all day has its challenging moments, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Here is a summary of our first month with twins.

Week One:

The first part of the week was spent in the hospital. We definitely tried to rest while we were in the hospital.  As far as taking care of the babies, we had it pretty easy this week, because we had nurses.  While in the hospital, we kept the babies with us during the day.  At night, the nurses took the babies, so we could sleep.  They would wake us up to feed them and then take them back to the nursery for us.  After not sleeping much the week before delivery, and then having such a long labor and delivery, I had no idea how exhausted I really was.  Due to having a c-section, we could have stayed one more night in the hospital, but I decided I was ready to go home.  In hindsight, I wish I would have stayed one more night.  It would have been really good for me to get the extra rest and take advantage of the nurses' help for one more day before going home.

Bringing the babies home was quite the adventure.  I remember the day we were preparing to leave the hospital.  Matt was running around like crazy trying to get everything ready.  I asked him why he was acting so funny, and he said that he was anxious but also nervous.  For him, taking them home was when parenthood began.  We were on our own.  No more nurses.  It was just us.  He drove home at a ridiculously slow speed, careful of every bump in the road.  All I could do was smile.  To me, it was precious to see him react this way.

Our first night home was our new reality.  Sleep…HA!  There was no sleep.  Feedings every 2-3 hours and lots of crying in between.  This was our new life, and what a wonderful life it was.  I would have never dreamed a year ago, that I would be losing sleep because of two crying babies. 

As far as my recovery, it was really rough the first week.  I was not prepared for how much I would hurt after a c-section.  I literally relied on Matt for everything that first week.  He was Super Dad that week, as he had to take on a lot of the responsibilities by himself.  He did great, but it was really hard for me to let him do everything, while I sat back and tried to heal.

On top of recovering from a c-section, I was struggling with breastfeeding.  The babies were doing great, but my milk never came in that first week. We had to supplement with formula, due to the babies losing too much weight by the time we took them home from the hospital.  That was really hard for me.  I felt like my body was failing me again.  I was not prepared to not be able to experience breast feeding my babies, nor was I prepared for how much work and time it would take to try to bring my milk in.  My life revolved around feedings those first couple of weeks.  Newborn babies eat every 2-3 hours, and it was taking me an hour to nurse, bottle feed, burp and change two babies.  I was literally feeding babies for eight hours a day.  Plus I was trying to pump in between feeds for stimulation, in hope of getting more milk. 

Week Two:
Matt had to go back to work after one week, but my mother-in-law came to visit during the second week.  It was nice to have the help.  The babies still had their days and nights mixed up during her visit.  They would sleep all day, and then keep us up all night.  It was a huge blessing to have my MIL cook for us, drive me to the doctor, or even watch the babies so I could shower or take a nap. 

By 10 days postpartum, my swelling was starting to go down, and I had lost 30 of my 60 pounds.  My incision was still pretty sore, but I was getting around ok.  My milk had finally come in, but it was very little.  I started taking herbs to help with my milk supply, which did help some.  In the end, my doctor prescribed me a medicine to bring more milk in.  I was leary of it, but after taking it I was able to produce 2 oz of milk every feeding.  That was enough to feed one baby, not two babies. It was still an improvement for me.  We still had to supplement with formula, but at least the babies were getting some of my milk.  From this point on, all feedings were half breast milk and half formula.  Plus, I was able to pump during the day and nurse at night.  This cut feeding times in half for us. 

Week Three: 

Week three was by far my hardest week so far.  My MIL had left and my mom was not able to come visit us that week like she had planned.  I was on my own, which would have been fine had my babies not started to get a touch of colic.  They would cry unsoothably from the 11am feed to the 8pm feed.  I knew it was because of gas, so I tried eliminating all sorts of things in my diet to see if that would help.  I even stopped BF one day and fed them just formula, as well as just BF another day and stopped feeding them formula.  All was an effort to figure out what was giving my babies tummy aches.  I'm still uncertain what the cause was.  We tried gas drops that week, as well as gripe water.  Neither helped too much.  It didn't help that my babies don't like their swings or vibrating chairs.  It was just me and two screaming babies all day.  I admit, I had a few breakdowns.  I lived for 6:00pm when Matt would get home to help.  At times, I just had to walk away and let them scream.  I hated that I could not soothe them.  It was a really rough week for us. 

On the bright side, the babies were sleeping better at night.  We also discovered that we could get long weekend family naps in between feedings, if we let the babies sleep in bed with us during nap time.  Plus, my church family has been great.  Every week someone has visited us and prepared a meal for us, which has been a blessing.


Week Four:

Week four was better than week three. Several people told me to try gripe water with dill in it. I found some on Amazon, and it helped with the colic and tummy aches. It didn't resolve all of our gas issues, but it helped. The doctor is giving us new formula to try, so we'll see if that helps too. Overall, the babies are doing much better than they were in that third week.

The babies also discovered car rides. Since I have no luck with swings and vibrating chairs, car rides have become my sanity. The babies fall asleep almost instantly. I can't drive until six weeks postpartum, but once I can drive, car rides will be a daily experience for us. Daddy and I now run errands for hours on the weekends just to get some peace and quiet. I think car rides have become our weekend dates. Such is our new life with twins, I guess.

My mom was also able to visit during the fourth week. What a blessing that was!  Life with newborn twins is so much easier with two adults, especially when one of those adults is Grandma. I'm trying to talk her in to visiting me for 2-3 days once a month. We'll see how that goes. 

Four weeks into parenthood, and it's safe to say we are pretty tired.  I'm recovering nicely from my c-section.  The wound is still tender, but I'm moving around like normal.  I've lost 40 of my 60 pounds.  The last 20 pounds will take some work to come off, but I know I'll get there. We're getting the hang of things around here and are adapting nicely to a solid schedule with the boys.  Part of me is looking forward to feedings that are more spaced out and being able to sleep through the night.  But those milestones mean two growing boys.  Right now there are challenges, but with those challenges come these two teeny tiny little human beings.   They are only this small for so long.  As tired as I am, I want to take in every second of it.  When I look back on this, the beginning of their life, I want to say I cherished every moment of it.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our Twin Boys - Newborn Photos (2 Weeks Old)


Just a quick little blog post today.  I wanted to share some photos from our twin newborn session.  We had these pictures taken when the boys were two weeks old.  Below are a few of my favorites.  All photos were taken by Kingfish Photography.  As always, I am very pleased with their work.  Dave is always easy to work with and does such a great job! Check out their Facebook page to see more of their work.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Our Twin Birth Story

The last baby bump picture taken right before we left for the hospital.

         It was the Friday morning of March 21.  One day after our five year wedding anniversary.  I had my routine 37 week checkup that morning.  I was ready to deliver my babies.  Like the previous week, I took my hospital bag with me to my appointment, just in case I was dilated enough to be admitted to labor and delivery.  I had reason to hope for that.  At 31 weeks, I went to the doctor for pelvic pressure only to find out that Baby A’s head was so low on my cervix, the doctor could feel him with a routine pelvic exam.  By 33 weeks, I was already dilated to 1 cm, and the doctor told me she didn’t think I’d make it much longer. Unfortunately, it took me two more weeks to get to 2 cm.  However, I was encouraged at that 35 week checkup when the doctor told me that Baby A had descended even more, and she thought I would go into active labor as early as the weekend. 

Baby A entering the world....

          I was so miserable, I stopped working that week.  I was just physically to a point where as much as I hated it, I could no longer efficiently do my job well.  And so I stayed at home that week and waited….and waited….and waited for my body to go into active labor.  Oh I was having contractions…And they were even consistent most of the time…..But after several hours of consistent contractions, they would ease up instead of intensify, preventing me from going into active labor and being admitted to the hospital.  I was so disheartened at my 36 week checkup, when I learned that I was still only dilated to two!  As miserable as I was, I had not progressed at all that week!  I left that appointment in tears.  I cried and cried, because it was looking more and more like I was going to have to be induced.  Hospital policy would not induce me until 38 weeks, and I did not know how on earth I was going to be able to physically carry my babies inside of me much longer. 
Baby B entering the world.....

          I didn’t sleep much the following week.  I was up every night with contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart.  Yes, I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions since my 25th week, but these contractions were not just the tightening of the stomach.  These contractions were painful.  The only rest I got that week was during the few hours of the day when the contractions would let up.  I called labor and delivery several times that week, only to be told that if I could still walk and talk and my contractions were not intensifying, then I was not in active labor. They encouraged me to take warm baths and Tylenol, and to wait it out at home. 

          And so on Friday, March 21, I waddled into my routine weekly appointment.  At 37 weeks, I looked and felt miserable, and my doctor knew it.  When she checked my cervix, I was dilated to 4 cm.  The fact that my contractions were still inconsistent, meant that I was still not in active labor.  She explained to me that my body had probably been trying to go into labor for weeks, but my twin uterus was overextended and could not produce strong enough contractions to put me into active labor. She said that her hands were tied with hospital policy, and she could not induce me without valid reason until I reached 38 weeks. What she could do was strip my membranes in the office and send me over to labor and delivery to monitor my contractions for a few hours to see if my labor would progress. If I progressed, they would admit me to the hospital.  If I did not progress they would send me home.  And so, that is how my twin labor started.  As uncomfortable as it was, I let my doctor strip my membranes to bring on my “bloody show”, in hope of it putting me into labor.

          We left the office to grab a quick bite to eat after my appointment.  By noon of that Friday, I checked into labor and delivery to be monitored. They monitored the babies’ heart rates, my blood pressure and my contractions.  Ironically, it was not my contractions that ended up giving them reason to admit me to the hospital that afternoon.  My contractions were not really intensifying, but my blood pressure was going up.  I had perfect blood pressure my entire pregnancy, but that afternoon my blood pressure became a concern.  It wasn’t dangerously high, but it was high enough that they didn’t want to send me home.  Not only was my blood pressure a concern, but they could not get a consistent external read on Baby A’s heart rate to monitor him, because he had descended so low into my pelvis.  The only way they were going to be able to monitor Baby A’s heart rate, was to do it internally.  To do this they would have to break my water, and screw in a fetal scalp electrode to Baby A’s head to monitor his heart rate.  Believe it or not, I actually found this process to be more painful than when they stripped my membranes.  I was told that it would be less painful, but in my opinion it was more painful.
Baby A

Baby B
          Once they broke my water around 4pm to monitor Baby A, my contractions quickly intensified, and I was dilated to 6 cm by dinner time.  I thought for sure we’d have babies by midnight.  Boy was I wrong!  Unfortunately, as my contractions increased, so did my blood pressure.  Knowing that I would have to have an epidural anyway (due to all twin births needing to be prepped to deliver in the OR), the doctors went ahead and gave me my epidural to ease the pain of my contractions and bring my blood pressure down.  The epidural did bring my blood pressure down, but it also slowed my labor down.  Pitocin was then given to intensify the labor and bring on strong contractions.  I felt like the epidural and the pitocin were going back and forth in my body, creating a vicious cycle of slowing down my labor and then progressing my labor.  I can’t tell you how much pitocin I had to have pumped into me, but I know it was a lot.  I also had to have my epidural refilled two more times before I delivered.  Worse than that, the epidural made me very sick.  Each time it started to wear off, they had to refill it and I was even more sick than the time before.  I was nauseous for the majority of my labor.  After throwing up several times from the anesthesia, the nurse took my ice chips away, and I was only allowed to rinse my mouth out with water and spit it out for the remaining part of my labor.   As if it’s not bad enough that the only thing you can have to eat or drink during labor is ice chips. 
Proud Papa

          Labor was progressing slowly.  I was dilated to 8 cm by 11pm, and the doctor said we’d have babies by sunrise.  Once again, a doctor told me wrong.  Sunrise came and went, and still I had no babies.  By 2am I was dilated to 9 cm, but that is where I stayed for several hours.  By 10am, I had shown no progression.  The doctor came in and explained to me that it was time to call a c-section.  I was sick….I was tired…and even if by some chance my body decided to dilate the last cm, I was so fatigued I would have a very difficult time with pushing.  He explained to me that with my epidural, it would probably take me at least two hours to push the first baby out, and then another hour to push the second one out.  As much as I hated it, I knew it was time to call it.  It had been nearly 24 hours of labor, and we had to call a c-section.
Holding my babies for the first time.....

          I had a really hard time emotionally with that decision.  Much like our difficulties with getting pregnant, I felt like my body had failed me once again.  I had gone my entire pregnancy with both babies head down.  This made it possible for me to try to deliver my twins without needing a c-section.  It was supposed to be an ideal twin birth, yet the birth was not at all what I had imagined.  I knew birth wasn’t going to be pretty, but I didn’t think that it would take so long or that I would be so sick.  I didn’t even let my husband take pictures during the actual labor process, because the only thing to take pictures of was me getting sick.  And now here we were 24 hours later, and I was realizing that we were indeed going to have to be prepped for surgery.   There would be no skin to skin contact directly after birth.  There would be no Daddy cutting the umbilical cord.  There would be a long recovery for me, in addition to trying to take care of newborn twins.  To be honest, I missed the entire birth.  When they prepped me for surgery, they had to pump more anesthesia into me, and I threw up during the majority of the surgery.  Matt managed to get the pictures that we have by using his iphone.  I’m so glad that he got a few pictures for us. 
Our first family picture!

          I remember few things about the birth of our babies.   I remember the being sick part and the shaking uncontrollably as they rolled me into the OR. I remember being very cold.  I remember the doctors talking about their weekend plans and golf games as they were cutting into me.  I remember the nurses looking at how swollen my body was from the hours of pitocin and saying, “This poor girl, I haven’t seen someone this swollen in a long time.”  Seriously though, I was pretty swollen.  I looked like the blueberry girl off of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  But I also remember Matt’s reaction as he saw his babies for the first time.  Such a proud daddy he was.  He must have taken a hundred pictures on his phone in those few minutes we were in the OR.  I remember the nurses placing my babies in my arms for the first time and me being completely overcome with emotion.  I didn’t know what to think or say.  All I could do was cry.  My babies had me from their first look.  I was quickly reminded of what my mother-in-law told me nearly a year ago, after we had once again been disappointed with another failed month of pregnancy.  She said that the moment I held my baby in my arms for the first time, whether through pregnancy or adoption, all of my heartache would be a distant memory.   How true that statement was!  I do still remember what it was like to not be able to get pregnant.  I do still remember the void in my heart that longed for a child.  But how quickly that void was filled in the moment I held my babies.  I have no words to describe a mother's love.  It was something that I never knew until that moment....the moment I became a mother. 
Aaron Elijah

Ethan Matthew

         And so on March 22, 2014, at 11:00am and 11:01am, we welcomed two healthy twin boys into this world.  Our twin birth did not go as I had planned, but it was still pretty perfect none the less.  I thought for sure they were going to come before 37 weeks.  At the time, I was so miserable being pregnant, I came to a point where I was ok with them coming a little earlier.  In hindsight, I’m glad I made it as far as I did, because we were able to take them home with us when we were discharged from the hospital.  We are very thankful that they did not need to spend anytime in the NICU.  Baby A weighted 5 lbs. 7 oz and Baby B weighed 6 lbs.  They were both beautiful and perfectly healthy.  Aaron Elijah (Baby A) and Ethan Matthew (Baby B) have completely stolen our hearts.  Our lives are changed for the better.  Now that they are here, it is hard to imagine how we lived without them.  Our journey through infertilty and pregnancy has come to an end.  We look forward to our new journey of parenting twins.  I could not possibly end this story without saying that these babies are our answer to prayer.  We prayed desperately for a child, and God chose to give us two! How very blessed we are!

For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: ~ I Samuel 1:27