Saturday, July 28, 2012

Facts & Photoshoots

naptime with Dad.

Fact #1a: My most craved food during this last pregnancy was Macaroni and Cheese.  I did not crave sweets, but I had a high-protein smoothie every night...sometimes berry, but mostly chocolate-Peanut butter-banana (with blueberries, milk, protein powder, powdered milk, & spinach).  I also did eat fudgesicles a lot in the end.  I rarely wanted dry foods--my body needed too much liquid for something dry to sound appealing.

Fact #1b: Now that the babies are out, I seem to want to make up for lost time and eat any sweet that I can think of.  I'll definitely have to start exercising self-control : (


Fact #2a: With each new baby I've had, I've loved the baby-ness of each one more and more.  These two are no different...enough so that I've been tempted to go for a 6th baby (in due time, of course)

Fact #2b: The maxed-out minivan is reminding me to stay grounded.  5 is a fine number.  How do you say "vasectomy" in baby talk?


Fact #3a: Moose is working on potty training himself a little, and he LOVES the babies!!  LOVES. 


Fact #3b: Moose is helping me to remember my education: specifically 'Of Mice and Men.'  DON'T SQUEEZE the BABIES!  At least he's not jealous?

Fact 4a: Monkey is her same sweet, quiet yet jabberbox self.  She loves the babies too, but is a little less preoccupied with them than the other kids.  She's busy preparing herself to become a future terrorist.


Fact 4b: Ok, she really just accidentally spray painted herself in the face (how many times do I have to remind her to look with her EYES and not with her HANDS before she stops touching things to find out what they are/do/etc?!!).  But seriously, this picture is just scary, and it's exactly the kind of picture that (should she choose a life of crime) the news media will show to say, "she chose her path early."


Fact 5a:  Chick learned to tie her shoes last week.  Now she's ready to start kindergarten!

Fact 5b: Chick is very quick to reassign blame (for instance: if she knocked over a flower pot it wouldn't be HER fault, it would be MINE for putting it too close to the edge in the first place.  or for buying a breakable flower pot.  That's a hypothetical situation, but it does illustrate the kind of reasoning she'd use to reassign blame.).  She's not as quick to share credit, though...if she does something well then she'll accept lots of praise for it.

Fact 5c: I think Chick maybe has missed me more than she lets on... When I tell someone that she learned to tie her shoes, she's been quick to say "Mama taught me."  Maybe it's a big deal that Mama is even around to help, since I've been so absent from the kids during the last month or so?
Chick staged this picture.  she had a great time deciding where to put the props : )

Fact 6: These babies are the most verbal newborns I've ever met.  I don't know if it has something to do with twin talk...sometimes one will grunt and then the other will grunt, and they go back and forth a few times.  They look a LOT like Monkey did as a baby.

E, D

Fact 7: Today the babies are one month old!  They are darling.  I'm trying to figure out what their blog nicknames will be.  Possibilities are: Cat, Bug, Fox, Lamb, Deer....  It's kinda early to pick.  It's easier to rule out what WON'T work (today Monkey suggested Rattle and Snake. haha.  cute, but not very flattering).


Fact 8: E has just outgrown her ankleband.  I think I've decided to get their ears pierced.  I've been mulling it over for a while...I've probably mentioned it before (maybe last week...I'm too lazy to read through and see).  But they really are identical except that E's ear dimple is more pronounced than D's...I have to do something to help us.  The babies deserve to be called by their names, and not just "this one" (even I am guilty of saying that!). 

Fact 9: The nursery is coming along nicely (but slowly)...I'll post pictures when it's all done, but I think it'll be cute!  I love it so far.

Jude wanted to get a picture, since she's never fed two babies at once before
Fact 10a: My sister stopped by for a surprise visit  the other day and we played with the dollies and took pictures : )  I'd taken some the day or two before, as well.  People keep telling me to take pictures and write everything down, because this period of time will all be a blur later.  Which is why this blog is taking a higher priority than it would normally be.
Jude had the idea to put the babies in the cubbies of the sofa table.

Wearing their cocoons that I made during the pregnancy.  D, E.

Fact 10b: Here's the proof of how cute the babies are!


I didn't get many pictures (that turned out well) of D this time. 
I'll probably try to get more of just her soon.

All the rest of these pictures are E.





Friday, July 20, 2012

Week 3 post-partum

Started out badly.  A new nurse that I wasn't so wild about, and at rounds it was more of the same old thing and ended with the doctor saying, "A few more days" and me just about crying.  I was just DONE with the NICU on that day. 

However, maybe it was my frustration, or maybe the babies just had that "36 week" lightbulb, but they took almost everything orally that day.

Moose and Monkey sick at home with fevers.  And wouldn't you know, that's the day that I go to the hospital and am greeted with, "E can go home tomorrow, and D on Sunday!"  So as excited as I was to take them wasn't so great to think about taking them home to get fevers!

So Friday was our "ad lib" day, when the babies got to take out their tubes and call the shots about how much and how often they ate.  If they gained weight after going "ad lib" then they could go home.
D without her feeding tube!

E without her tube as well!

Yay, they gained!!

Sick kids' fevers abating, but cold symptoms replacing the fevers.  It's decided that we'll bring both babies home on Sunday to hopefully lessen their chance of getting sick, and try to quarantine the babies.  Spent any free time getting pre-discharge stuff done (carseat testing, hearing testing, CPR video, etc).

HH stayed home with the kids while I went to the hospital and got the babies!!  Hooray!!  After 2.5 weeks in the NICU it was SO EXCITING to leave!



As soon as I got them home we realized that it was unrealistic to think that we could quarantine the babies.  Chick joined the sick ranks (she skipped the fever, though), and all of the big siblings couldn't resist sneaking in to pet and kiss and invade the personal space of the babies. 

Moose is especially taken with them (and shows no signs of jealousy yet!!) but he's also the scariest because 2 year olds aren't known for their gentleness.  He has been as gentle as he can be, but I'm sure my blood pressure skyrockets every time he's in the room with them.

Monday & Tuesday: 
HH stayed home from work, and we tried to find routines.  I tried to not stress about the babies getting enough nourishment (it was a lot less concerning when the folks at the hospital just TOLD me when and how much the babies needed to eat).

Our pediatrician, Dr. Sunita, came over on Tuesday afternoon to check out the babies.  Everything was going fine, and they were 5 ounces up from when they were discharged (E: 5#6oz, D: 5#13oz).  There might have been some discrepancy between the scales...5 ounces in 2.5 days seems like a lot...but it still was positive and helped me to chill out and stop worrying.

Wednesday & Thursday:
The older kids had a playdate, and my sister Laura came with her daughter Rachel and grandson Charlie.  We visited for a while (but I was really tired and rather lackluster, I'm afraid) and then Laura collected the kids from the playdate and took them to her house for an overnighter.  It was very quiet and calm with just the babies and me at home for most of the time.  I read a book during breastfeeding time (Divergent...interesting read.  I love dystopian stories lately).

When the kids came home I let the older girls hold a baby for the first time...Moose was still pretty snotty, and he was out-of-sorts anyhow, so he still hasn't had a turn.

Chick holding D

Monkey, with disheveled hair, holding D

And now D and E are three weeks old!  They are cute as can be...I especially love to see them cuddled up together...I think it will be fun to have twins : ) 


Now if we can just stop using bottles and stop needing to pump out all of the extra milk (and stop having to wash all of the bottle and pump stuff all the time) then this will totally feel do-able.




Thursday, July 12, 2012

More NICU information (written on Monday night, July 9th)

People are asking about why the babies are in the NICU, so I thought I'd answer that question.

They are "feeder/grower" preemies...essentially they need to learn to eat and be on a gaining trend.  The doctor and nurses refer to it as a "lightbulb" going on... all of a sudden the baby will be mature enough to understand taking food orally (as opposed to feeding tubes that go in through the nose and down to their's called gavage feeding)  and will have the stamina needed to eat enough.  Once that lightbulb goes on then it can be literally the next day that they go home.  They just need to take everything orally for 24 hours.

The awesome news is that Nurse Jennie was our nurse today and she was giving me all sorts of "going home" information, and said her final goodbyes just in case we aren't here when she comes back to work on Friday!  She said that at least the lightbulb is blinking for both babies.

Nurse Jennie. 
Sadly, I didn't get a picture of Rebekah, who is a travelling nurse and I think she is gone....

At their last feeding they took about half by breastfeeding and the other half by bottle.  All of their feedings today had some breastfeeding (before they were just too sleepy sometimes and would get the whole feeding by gavage).  I don't know if Jennie is right and it will be that soon, but we are definitely making progress.

D.  And someday that tube will be out of her nose....

Other milestones: I'm producing enough milk to feed them both with just breastmilk.  If I'd known that we'd only need to supplement with formula for the first week and a half, I'd definitely not have freaked out so much about it!  Hooray for Fenugreek : )

Visitors this week:
Marisa and Melinda

Last night it was discovered that D's length was mismeasured at birth.  Now she's at 18.5" and is pretty much the same length as E.  So they both were approximately 18.5" long, and D was 1/2 a pound heavier.  They're both 2 ounces above their birth weights now.  

I'm 5 pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight...however, I'm not pre-pregnancy shaped.  It might be a really long time before the "twin skin" is gone from my abdomen : (  But I have decided that having twins is the best diet least until they're toddlers and I need to self-medicate with chocolate!

I'm healing excellently.  The incision is barely even pink and doesn't hurt much at all (the only thing that hurts is the skin above it, and it's totally just superficial.  I've been able to go out for some nice walks in the past couple of days.  Way better than I'd expect at 1.5 wks post-partum.  I do have a stiff neck, though, from sleeping in weird positions (because I pump in bed at night and fall asleep while doing so).

Last week my Mom brought the older kids back down to our house and my sister Laura stayed the night and all the next day with them.  Plus she cleaned and cooked a ton (she just graduated from Bastyr as a nutritionist) and I have had delicious, healthy food to bring in my lunches all week : )

You can barely see him, but I love how excited Moose looks!! 
These poor babies have no idea what is in store for them when they get home!

HH had the kids on his own for the weekend, and now my Mom is back down to watch them at our house for the week (and she made the traditional new baby dessert: homemade tapioca pudding! yum).  Friends from church are bringing us fantastic dinners and this week they started doing playdates in the mornings so that my Mom doesn't get burned out.  I can't tell you how much of a relief it is to have so much support and to not have to worry too much about things like dinners and who will stay with the kids.

Grandma N.

Grandpa N.

ABC in front of the Museum
This picture was taken the day before the babies were  born...when I was having contractions & bed rest.
I love those crazy kids.  Outside of the Children's Museum with Aunt Diana.
(Moose's eye was still swollen from a mosquito bite...I'll have to put on some pictures of that sometime)

So now I just need to be able to drive again, and the babies need to start eating consistently so that they can go home.  And then we can begin finding our new routines as a family of seven!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

NICU: week 1

My progress was that I was able to get up and walk, rather than using a wheelchair.  I went down to the NICU a few times, and tried to rest.  I had the same nurse for Thursday and Friday: Sara.  She was my favorite out of my personal nurses.


I got pretty weepy in the evening--which would happen regardless of the situation since it's just the usual post-partum hormone shift.  It's happened every time I've had a baby, and thankfully I know that so I didn't get too worried about it, but of course it's still not fun.  I was mostly worried about my milk supply.  I would do my best to get something out, but my milk wasn't in yet and the best I could do was a few meager drops of colostrum, which the nurses would suck up into a small syringe.  I was pressured to supplement with formula because the IV's were hard on the babies.  After having pretty much NO choice about things thus far, I didn't want to give up the one choice that I had to keep things natural.  D had been fed formula without my consent, but they respected my choice and didn't feed any formula to E.

E was taken off the oxygen during the night, so she looked a lot better...but D's veins kept collapsing and her IV was put in her forehead, so she looked worse.



The ladies were moved to a new room (226) and had a new nurse this time-- Jennie.  She put the breastfeeding/formula/bottles all into a context that I could understand:  the sooner they gain weight and learn to eat, the sooner they go home.  She also predicted that they would be exclusively breastfeeding by 3 months, but they weren't going to progress on IV's, and it'd take a while to get my milk going.  I really liked Jennie, and though I was still super weepy, I chose to take her advice and allow formula and bottlefeeding.  By the end of the day they both had their IV's out and feeding tubes in.

This picture was taken before Judy's visit, so her flowers aren't shown, but they were very appreciated as well : )

I was feeling even better in the morning.   I had a lot of visitors.  My nephew and his new bride were having an open house that day, so people were down in the area for that and were able to stop by to see me and the babies as well.  Visitors were: Mike N., Laura & Randy, Judy with Kate & Emily, My parents, Dave, & the kids  all came by.  I looked very loved with lots of flowers on my table : )  It was really great to chat with everyone and show off my cute girls, but I got really worn out from going down to the NICU so many times and standing so much.  The last trip down I had to go back to using the wheelchair.  I was less weepy by the end of the day...though I would have liked to not ever use formula for any of my kids, I felt at peace with the decision.  Plus at the end of the day it felt like my milk was  beginning to come in a little.

Kangaroo Care
HH taking a picture : )

By Sunday I was spending most of my time down in the NICU.  I was discharged and moved my things down to the NICU room cupboard.  HH and I hung out in the NICU for a few hours and then went home in the evening.  It was weird to be home in a quiet, empty house.  I missed my kids, and it was strange to leave the hospital without any babies.  It was actually a hard evening to not have any kids home.  Plus my milk was in and I didn't have a pump for the night...I did my best to hand express, but by morning I was quite uncomfortable.

My wonderful Aunt Diana drove me to the hospital in the mornings, since I wasn't able to drive yet.

Both babies had been borderline jaundiced, but by Monday they'd leveled out and the nurse said they didn't need to be checked again until Wednesday.  I ordered a breast pump rental to have at home, but there was a mixup in the delivery.  I found a hand pump in my kit from the hospital, and that made it better than Sunday night...but still not good.

I found a difference between them!  E has a little hole (my sister called it a "dimple" and maybe that's a more accurate term) in front of her ear on one side.  It looks like a little piercing.  I have it too.  It's a pretty small difference, but it's something.  Before I got this posted, I discovered that D has it as well, just not as deep.  bummer.
No cell phone reception started driving me crazy.
Nighttime pumping was dreamy...I was soooooo grateful for a double electric pump!

D & E's first 4th of July!
HH and I went to breakfast at the ward 4th of July social.  It was so nice to be out in public & doing something non-baby for a few minutes.  Then we headed over to the hospital.  HH went home to finish laying the carpet in the nursery : )  and I resumed my regular schedule: breastfeed, pump, Kangaroo Care, repeat.  Somewhere in there are potty breaks and snacks for me....
I had a great visit with Christine, one of Charlotte's associates, and she gave some great advice on pumping/increasing milk supply. 

D getting weighed before a meal. 
We've since stopped weighing before and after meals because the scale was too fickle.

D getting patriotic in the NICU.

sleepy E

The pinwheels were the centerpieces at the ward breakfast that morning.

HH and I finished out the day by going up to the 4th floor of the hospital to watch the fireworks on in the Sound.  It was a really great view, and certainly a unique way to celebrate the 4th during this unusual period of time.


My kids had spent all week at Grandma N's house (which I'm sure took a few years off of her's not easy to keep up with three active little stinkers!) with a fun overnight at Aunt Judy's house.  They took it all in stride and didn't seem too bothered by the shuffling around.  Moose was a little homesick at times and missed his Mama & Daddy, but he did pretty well for a two year old.  It was fun that they got to be with cousins and such for the 4th of July.  Sounds like they loved getting to do sparklers : )

At the end of the first complete week:
My favorite NICU nurses were Jennie and Rebekah, who thankfully have been our nurses for a lot of the time.  I'll have to take a picture of them...I haven't done that yet.

I'm not noticing the smallness of the babies so much anymore.  They ARE small, but I'm used to it.  I change their diapers (they have NO bums) and dress them, and love to hold them.  My favorite part of the day is Kangaroo Care when I get to cuddle with them.


E.  Both girls like to eat their fingers and fists.

I was finally starting to see the swelling in my ankles and feet going away (it was from all of the saline that they pumped into me because of the c-section), and HOORAY, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight!  I had gained 20 pounds total, which is a miracle in and of itself (and 10 of that was baby, and probably the other 10 was placenta and fluids).