Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ten Days

Ten days in, and I vacillate between feeling like things are chaotic-but-fine and feeling like I'm just not sure whether I'm going to survive all of this. It's a fine line between feeling pretty much okay and being one step away from checking myself into an institution (this postpartum hormone crash is no joke). Complicating things is the fact that my amazing husband is pathologically incapable of letting anything slide, and the arrival of the twins has seemed to cause him to fall further down the neatnik rabbit hole, to the point that earlier today, he was complaining about being tired, and since both boys were snoozing, I encouraged him to go rest, but he refused because he had to pick lint out of the living room rug... I mean, it seems stupid to complain about it. He does all of the chores-- washing dishes, taking out the trash, a good part of the laundry duties, etc., but he does so to his own detriment. I know how incredibly overwhelmed he is feeling, and I cannot seem to convince him to just let one or two things go, or to perhaps reschedule certain things that maybe don't have to happen during the daylight hours.

It's just been a real jolt to his system to not get a solid, undisturbed 8 hrs of sleep at night. I feel pretty okay (at least for now) because I seem to be able to get at least 2-3 hrs of undisturbed sleep, and last night, even managed a 4 hour stretch.

(Let me pause here and say that breast feeding twins is HARD. Like, really, really hard. Luckily, for now, the boys are still small enough that I can tandem breast feed them without too much trouble, but the bigger they get, the harder it will be to wrangle the little squirmers, which means it will take a long time to feed both of them. I'm handling it okay so far, but I fully recognize that at some point, I will very likely begin adding formula in to their diet. I'm pumping in an effort to build up supply, such that I can "supplement" with my own breast milk instead, but realistically, nursing newborn twins, and then pumping, and then storing the milk and then cleaning the pump parts, etc. is far more than I can handle most days, especially when right now the "reward" is just a couple of teaspoons of milk, at the most. Really, aside from whatever benefits breast milk offers, the reason I'm pushing so hard to stick with it is that formula is ridiculously expensive! I'm such a cheapskate sometimes!)

Anyhow, where was I? Oh, yeah. Four hour stretch... yeah. Actually, part of the reason I got four hours was because I was on death's doorstep, and my mom stayed the night so that she and H could handle taking care of Jack and Henry. I had a 102 degree fever, but the on-call nurse from the doctor's office seemed utterly unconcerned about it (actually, she was concerned, but she, like me, realistically knew that at 11:00 p.m., my only option for treatment/diagnosis was the emergency room, which is UNrealistic with infant twins to be cared for). So, the word was to take tylen.ol and watch the symptoms (didn't work), and then, progress to (which I generally avoid taking since it tears up my stomach). But, eventually, around 2:00 a.m., the finally kicked in, and my fever broke, and I sweated through my pajamas, and sheets, and mattress topper, and pillows, etc., and I've felt fine since. I have no idea what caused the raging fever (only symptoms were chills and a headache/slight back ache), but regardless, it's gone now, hopefully never to return.

Um, yeah. Sleeping... I never thought I would find it to be an attractive idea, but my GOSH, the boys sleep so. much. better. when they are in bed with H and I. I know all the pros and cons of co-sleeping, and honestly, I find the idea of the "family bed" to be, um, not right for me. BUT, dude. Everything changes with twins. We sleep better, they sleep better- I don't know why exactly, but even with the bassinet at the foot of our bed, it's too much of a pain to get up and deal with whatever slight thing is causing disruption to them. If the are in our bed, they don't even so much as flinch for hours at a time, snoozing so peacefully. Of course, with two in the bed, I worry about rolling over on them, or squishing them in some other way, or about their little faces squishing into the soft bedding. So, I ordered an in-bed co-sleeper doodad that will hopefully work for the twins for at least another month or two, or until they can sleep better in the bassinet. I worry constantly about them spitting up and gagging (especially Henr.y, who had several scary episodes while in the hospital, due to the fact that he coughed up, swallowed, then vomited insane amounts of mucous which he would then choke on, turning purple, etc.), and I know that they need to sleep on their backs, but they won't sleep on their backs in the bassinet, only in our bed. Oh, and it really does make a HUGE difference to put them to bed squished up next to each other, especially if we ever-so-slightly incline them to one side to face each other. That is truly the only way they will sleep in the bassinet (they snooze in their bouncers and definitely sleep fine in the arms of a grandmother, but we'd prefer at some point that they sleep somewhere normal!).

Er... I'm not sure why I just gave you a few hundred words on where my babies will or won't sleep. I'm just going to chalk it up to my lack-of-sleep obsessiveness and move on.

So, any advice about co-sleeping and/or getting infants into a more regular sleep place and/or time?

Ah, my boys. Despite all of the insanity, I just adore them. They are so different, and not just in their appearance (though their appearance is markedly different). Hen.ry is all curves-- round cheeks, a rosy complexion, wisps of cotton-fluff hair, squishable little melon-noggin (oh, man- conversations from the sleep deprived trenches... Kate (to Henry): "Hello, my little nugget!" H (groggily, after a solid ten second delay): "Why did you just call our son a maggot?" HAH. Fun, fun, fun.) He is impossibly difficult to latch on to the breast, fighting me every second, but eventually allowing me to lead him the right way. Stubborn, but so sweet. He fusses quite a bit, but is consoled fairly easily. And when he thinks about something, it's like you can read it over his entire face. Eyes, lips, nose, etc.-- everything works in concert to show what he's feeling (his current adorable trick is nursing in his sleep, which seems to please him to no end).

Henry is all angles to Hen.ry's curves, and all darkness to Hen.ry's fair coloring. I can feel every bit of the one pound weight difference between he and his brother (J.ack was 6 lb 9 oz when he was born to Henr.y's 7 lb 13 oz). Weirdly, truly looks like the Fleu.ry side of the family from where he got his middle name. I missed getting the more angular eyes and the sharp upturned nose of my grandmother's family, but here it is, popping up on Jac.k's face. So weird, but so cool. He has my darker hair (so far), and the more olive complexion of that French-Cajun part of my family. He is an accomplished and eager nurser, almost never giving me any trouble latching on or eating long enough. He makes the most adorable face when he's ready to nurse, wide open fish mouth with nose all scrunched up.'s expression is almost all in his eyes. When he is awake and calmly alert, he almost always looks like he's running intense calculations in his head, like he's got three hundred things to figure out before lunch (which I guess he kind of does, being new to this whole ex utero world...). He doesn't fuss as much as his brother, but MAN, when he gets going, it can be a real task to slow him down. He wants to suckle almost constantly, which isn't so bad, except that on occasion, I like to do things without having a baby attached to my breast! He is just precious, my little peanut.

Jack, Ten Days Old

So yes. There is so much more to say, but I should really try to sleep (I'm a little wired tonight for some reason. I just can't seem to settle down. Not good when I know there's a feeding on the way soon!).

If you've made it through the early days before, please tell me it gets better/easier (lie to me if you have to...), or at least share with me one or two things that made life better, or even in retrospect what you would have done differently, or what you would have appreciated more about these early days. Perspective is hard to come by sometimes! I know things will get better, but it's just hard sometimes...


annacyclopedia said...

Like I said earlier today, it gets easier, or at least you get better at everything so you don't notice how hard it is. Really. Like breastfeeding - in a few weeks, you will not even have to think about latching them on - you'll just put them near your boob and they'll do it themselves. You won't even have to look down except to swoon at the cuteness.

Another note on breastfeeding - not to be pushy or judge-y cause lord knows there's enough of that - but as far as nursing twins goes and your concern about time once they are too big to tandem nurse. Remember that they will get so good at nursing that they won't need to nurse for so long, and they will be able to get the milk out a lot faster, in addition to needing to nurse less frequently than they do right now. So hopefully it will balance out in a way that means you get to spend as little as possible on formula. I'm totally with you - cheap is good, and damn, that stuff is costly! Anyway, I just think back to how much time I used to spend nursing C in a day, and it is WAY less now than it was in the early days.

Other random thoughts:
- Yay on co-sleeping! It always worked best for us - still does.
- Those choking/gagging episodes are scary as hell. C did that for the first little while and I was so glad when it stopped. Shudder.
- Boo on the fever. Hope you are really ok and it was just a random thing. Scary to be sick with two little ones!
- H may just get cured of his fastidiousness with this whole twin parenting thing. Not like I want to see him broken down, but it's inevitable in some way that you have to decide to let things go a bit around the house. Living and sleeping are more important than the state of the carpet - hopefully he will see this soon without being driven to the brink!

My advice is to master the art of babywearing (I recommend a sling or a wrap like the Moby or a mei tai). Even if you only wear one at a time (and some methods you can wear both babies), it can be a godsend to be able to do stuff around the house with a happy baby.

My other advice is to enjoy these days as much as you can, because as cliche as it is to say, they go FAST! Like, head-spinning, what the hell just happened to the last 8 months, mind-boggling kind of fast. Not to say that the early days are not hard, because they are. But in those moments where you just can't catch your breath because of how in love you are - just really feel those moments. There are lots more to come, but they are different.

Hang in there, dude! You're doing great, I just know it.

Kait said...

I don't have much time to write as I'm wasting some of my sleep opportunity right now and I really shouldn't as I'm dealing with thrush and it's painful and messy and an utter pain in my rear... anyway, I wanted to suggest the Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper. It's like a hammock chair thing and it's a MIRACLE for sleeping babies. My daughter will sleep about 30 minutes in her co sleeper bassinet but will sleep 4 plus hours in her Sleeper chair. It's AMAZING. You might want to think about getting two of them. It's also great to just have in other rooms of the house for the boys to be in. You'd have to get two, but it could be worth it. I don't know what I'd do without mine. (I recommended it to someone else whose blog I read and she said it saved her life...)

Good luck! The boys are beautiful.

VA Blondie said...

It does get easier. After the first 3 months. The first three months are often called the fourth trimester. The babies will get more efficient with nursing, so you will spend less time with a child attached to you.

I love co sleeping! It is the only way everyone can get sleep. It gets easier as they get bigger.

Hubbies can also get a bit of post partum depression. I did not post about it on my blog, but Hubby went through a bit of depression after the baby was born. I think it finally hit him how much of a transition it is.

Hang in there! You can do it!

Ellen K. said...

Oh, God. Memories are just flooding back!

Yes... the sleep... that is a huge, huge adjustment. I don't think anyone is actually prepared for it with the first child(ren). And dads of twins tend to be more involved, so it hits them very hard. Baby blues aren't just a mom thing. I think that pre-baby, we tend to think (thanks to smaller family size, less hands-on knowledge of newborns, later childbearing, and media misperceptions) that the baby will just fit into our lives and we can still go on with minor adjustment; in fact, the baby IS your life and you try to adjust around him.

Don't worry about setting up sleep habits right now. You're in pure survival mode. The girls didn't even go into their nursery until they were 2 months old. They slept in a Pack & Play, and later in a crib, in the dining room. I slept on the couch. D. slept on another couch, often with I. She was tucked into his arm, not on his chest. She always had such a satisfied smile while sleeping there. But when we moved them to the nursery and into separate cribs, we had no problems. All the sleep books (except Babywise, which I would never recommend) say that sleep patterns are not established for the first few months, and thus sleep training can't begin until age 4 months.

I think I had a fever around day 7, when my milk finally came in (to little avail). And I was completely terrified that I would have to go to the ER or check back into the hospital, because how on earth would we manage that with newborn twins? I remember feeling absolutely desperate and hysterical about that.

A friend told me after the girls were born that this time is "long days and short years." Somehow that helped me get through it.

BTW, we used Target's generic brand of formula and spent $2500 to formula feed twins for 1 year. That's about 60% less than the usual estimate, which is based off name brand. Had no problems and no ear infections, either.

Ellen K. said...

Oh, one more thing -- D. freaked out, big time, about household cleanliness in those first few weeks and months, partly because we had so many visitors, ALL of whom complimented us on having the house so well organized; and partly because of the sudden influx of all this baby stuff that needed to be close at hand. It annoyed the sh*t out of me.

Which also reminds me that it is totally natural to be COMPLETELY at odds with your husband/partner in the first few weeks. I think it's really a very primal, mama-bear instinct. My friend M. went to the OB for her 2-week checkup and said "I want a divorce. I hate my husband," and the OB just laughed and said that every woman says that in the first month. And I also felt that everyone was bending over backwards to praise D. for being such a good, helpful parent and husband, whereas I got all the "advice" and criticism. I was really resentful. said...

I'm glad the fever broke and you're feeling better. I got a fever about 2 weeks after my daughter was born.

She also co-slept with us for 8 months.

I hated my husband those first few months :) My daughter would sleep when he was around and stay awake with me, it was exhausting.

you're doing great!! It gets easier...that was my mantra does get easier.

Your boys are so sweet!! I love the pictures!

amy said...

Oh my gosh, Kate. Those babies are soooo adorable. Seriously.

Assvice: please watch that fever. You know all the issues I had and I don't know which one contributed to the fever (or if it was a combination), but mine would start around dinner time, climb through the night despite Tyle.nol, finally break and then disappear during daytime hours. By the time I went back to the hospital 3-4 days later I was in a really, really bad way. I'm sure you're fine, but please mention it to the doctor (mine called in an antibiotic, and then switched the antibiotic every subsequent time I called, morons) AND if it happens again, please make sure you tell them that it happened the previous night as well. I was too tired and out of it to mention that it was recurrent and every time I called I got a different doctor and I'm not convinced they knew that I'd called the previous times. So. I hope it doesn't come back and you're fine, but please do mention it (especially if it comes back).

Cosleeping: sorry if I've said this before but I swore up and down I wouldn't do it. It just didn't feel right to me. And then I had my baby...and you're right, they DO sleep tons better, and I did as well. Rolling over to nurse is significantly easier than getting up, getting the baby up, feeding them, settling them back down, blah blah BLAH, as you know. Do what works and get through it, I say. Our daughter asked to go to her own bed on her own (after we talked up "big girl beds") and it wasn't an issue at all.

I've since heard that babies have a physiological response to being alone, as a survival mechanism. They can sense when they're alone and it wakes them out of sleep. Maybe they get used to it or learn to ignore it with weeks of "sleep training" but I was personally very uncomfortable with conditioning my child to ignore a sleep response. (No judgement, I what works for you, that's my motto.) Anyway, it totally made sense because even if I got Lilly down to sleep by herself in her crib, she'd wake up after 20 minutes or so crying. Never happened when cosleeping.

So. We used this (link below), which kept her in place. We didn't put a pillow in her spot between us, so that the tops of our head were level (or maybe hers was higher than ours). If we rolled near her, it was just our heads/face that made contact with her little body, so I didn't worry about crushing her. The wedge thing was made of something you could breathe through even if your face was pressed against it, so I didn't worry much about that either. Once I had those things taken care of I slept really happily next to her, and at 2 months old she was sleeping 8-7 with a "dream feed" at 11 and waking up for a bottle at 4. Per. Fect.

We did use sheets and blankets on ourselves but because she was so high up, our blankets hit below her feet. (not sure if this was the exact one, I can't remember the brand.)

Anyway. It sounds like you're doing great and handling things really well. It does get easier once you figure out what works for you and the boys. I'm SO happy for you, seriously.

PJ said...

I cannot remember if I told you this, but I'm SO excited we had our babies at the same time! How cool is that? I labored all day Wed, and then had the section around 1AM the next morning.

Hell yea, breastfeeding twins is HARD! I have to use a nipple sheild because my nipples are flat, Addison thinks it's too much hard work, and just waits for daddy to pour the milk down her throat with the bottle, and I am having major milk supply issues and am pumping just to supplement. I don't know how long I can stick with it.

Your guys are SOOOOO so cute! They are HUGE! You had a lot of baby in ya!

How is the fluid retention with you? My belly and my legs are so full of fluid still, it's annoying.

He picked lint off of the living room rug? ahaha! Ah yea, I'd much prefer sleep.

The postpartum hormones are outrageous! I cried in front of the lactation consultatant today and last night I yelled at my husband and said F**k several times in front of my mother in law. Awesome.

Kate!!! We have babies!!! Woohoo for surviving infertility and pregnancy!!!

Tracy said...

You've already gotten some great I'll keep this short.

It DOES get SO much easier. I nursed for the first 8 weeks and it was brutal. Our pedi told me at our 1 month visit that if I decided to give them formula, their immune systems would be built up at that 8-week mark, and formula would be just fine for them. For my sanity, I made it to that point and then transitioned. And they were just fine. But yes, it IS expensive.

I agree that tandem nursing actually gets easier as they get stronger and better at it.

The boys are GORGEOUS.

Oh, and as far as the sleeping thing, we were on a pretty set 3-hour schedule from the very beginning. E&R slept in their cribs every single night, and I am SO glad for it now. But that is just what worked for us. Each family needs to figure out what works best for them.

Tracy said...

BTW, we did read and follow the tenents of Babywise, and are very happy that we did so. You know my kids...they're happy and well adjusted, and VERY well behaved, and I attribute a lot of that to the guidance of Babywise. It's more than just a sleep book.

Rachel said...

Yay for getting through 10 days! And I'm so glad you finally posted some more photos for us.

As for cosleeping, would it be an incredible hassle to move your mattress to the floor? What about moving H to another bed in the house (very temporarily) and then putting both boys next to you. I was terrified of co-sleeping (and adamantly against it for us) but landed up cosleeping from night #1 in the hospital. However, I don't have much advice about doing it with a newborn because JD held my fusspot on his chest for the first month. I would try to get rid of as many pillows/blankets as possible (even if it means ousting H to another bed. I know plenty of people who have done that for the first month or so) and also move your mattress to the floor (if not a super-hassle).

As for the fever, do you have a lactation consultant on speedial yet? Sounds very much like you might want to consider some drugs to increase output, and that the fever was probably related to a clogged duct, etc. (all of my fevers in the first 3 months were, and I noticed the fever long before the pain in the breast). As for pumping, I do hope that you can delegate ALL washing of pump parts to family members for at least a month (and if they're queasy, just ignore it. Really. I didn't wash any pump parts for the first 6 months).

Hoping the sleep gets better soon.

Brandy said...

Those are adorable babies. It's a good thing I don't know where you live, or I might kidnap them. Just kidding. Mostly.

And yay for co-sleeping! When done correctly, co-sleeping reduces the risk of SIDS. I hope breastfeeding starts to go better for you!

Anonymous said...

i totally agree with anna and ellen. for what it's worth: my twins are nine months now and still tandem nursing. they only nurse about 5 minutes at a time. they're total pros now, lol.

we're still struggling with sleep, but i still remember when M wouldn't sleep in her crib, but would sleep so well with us. it was crazy. it scared me, but i wanted sleep more. don't let anyone judge you. people don't get it unless they've been there, you know?

i'm still anal about cleanliness. i pick up toys like a million times a day....but that helps my own sanity.

they are super cute, btw!! :)

Star said...

I agree with everything annacyclopedia and amy said! Very good advice from both.

On cosleeping, I was always open to it, and it has worked well for us. Bird was in a cosleeper next to our bed for about 6 months, then in his crib, because he clearly preferred to sleep in his own space. Sweet Baby has coslept from day one and still is at almost a year old. That's what he needs, and I respect that. I have never been sleep deprived after the first few weeks with either of them. Cosleeping, when it is what your baby wants, allows everyone to get the most and best quality sleep. Some babies sleep fine in cribs; others don't. I don't think you can go wrong by doing what works for your babies.

It does get better. I said before SB was born that I wished I could skip the first 4 weeks. Not that there aren't precious moments in there, but the first 4 weeks are just not fun. And that hormone crash is absolutely for real! Four days postpartum I was a complete mess, crying, and convinced that I was dying. It will all get better from here, I promise.

The babies are just beautiful, and you are doing great. Congratulations again!

Jennifer said...

I had a fever about 10 days after my twins were born, it was a bladder infection. It was horribly uncomfortable and made getting out of bed to breastfeed them almost unfathomable. The doc was able to do a quick pee test to determine the infection, and antibiotics helped. I guess it is pretty common from the catheter.
Adorable babies, congrats! Take lots of pictures, it's so cliche but it goes by way too fast. My own teeny tiny cuddly guys will be 8 months old this week and I can't wrap my mind around how much they've changed and how fast they've grown.

Sue said...

Well, it does get better eventually, but before then it gets a little harder as the babies wake up more and the sleep deprivation really kicks in. I guess a lot depends on what kind of babies you have and how good you are at napping. Me - not good at napping and very cranky. Things will get better and you'll figure out what works best for all of you. I suspect H. will soon become too tired to keep up with his neatnik habits. Or you'll have an incredibly clean house and an incredibly exhausted husband.

I think parenting is always hard, just in different ways at different times. The good news here is you're probably only doing the newborn thing once. Whatever comes in the next few weeks and months, you will survive it and you're going to do a great job.

Sue said...

And PS - the boys are beautiful.

jenn said...

Absolutely gorgeous boys! I can't believe how much Henry looks like a (less hairy) boy version of my chub pumpkin! She was also 7,13.
It really ~does~ get easier. for me the first 8 weeks were the toughest. After everyone has gone home & you are on your own a little panic sets in. It's normal. And it will pass.
We were adamantly against co sleeping the first 2 weeks. And they sucked. Big time. After I woke up still holding pumpkin sitting bolt upright in bed with her sleeping peacefully in my arms for 2 hours- we knew we had to do something. The hubs suggested co-sleeping and the next 4 months were blissful. She would sleep a solid 4-6 hours which meant we did to. and a 10 minute turn- whip out boob & back to sleep is sooo much easier! You do what's best for your family- you are safe as you can be- everything has a risk associated with it when it comes to children.

The nursing will probably get better relatively quickly- again... the first few weeks are harder with everything as you adjust. Pumpkin became quite efficient & could drain a boob in under 10 minutes. There are also less expensive formula options that could be just as good for your family should you have to go down that road. We needed to supplement around 9-10 months as my supply dipped with my return to work. Pumping worked for a few months but got to be too much. We still nursed until after a year and I have to say that I really do treasure that time with her. It is not the be-all of mother/child bonding by any means, but for me it was a special time to relax & just be calm together. Which is lovely after 3 am feedings! Good job mama! (and dad- the nesting I think is a normal reaction for a neat freak- I married one too!)

Photogrl said...

I'm late chiming in but I have to comment on how just utterly perfect the boys are...I just want to hold them!

As for dealing with the sleep issues...I only have experience with one (so far) but it was hard. If you can get 4 hours in a row, you'll feel a 100% better. Do what you have to do to get it. We co-slept with Miss O. just to survive. She didn't sleep in our bed forever, honest!

Serah B. said...

Yey, babies! I will just add to the chorus that nursing does get easier--so that even as your boys get bigger, they'll be easier to wrangle. When they're newborn they're so floppy and difficult to position and are ultra wriggly; as they develop more muscle control, they help out a lot in this department and do most of the positioning themselves.

We coslept by default with L., and then just planned to do so with R. because it worked so well for us--particularly with nursing. We used a "Snuggle Nest" cosleeper in the bed initially with each baby, but ditched it fairly early on. The main thing is just to reduce to a minimum the number of pillows and blankets in the bed.

Force your hubby to take a nap. Use drugs if necessary. I wonder if his neatnickness has picked up as a need to exert some semblance of control since he's overwhelmed by the new baby experience and doesn't know what else to do? If that's the case, he'll probably ease up once you guys get into the swing of things.

Yey babies!