Category Archives: Newborns

T is for Tedious

In my spare moments when the kids are sleeping, I’m plodding my way through the bins of baby clothes and tagging them for my twin club’s fall sale.  It’s hideously tedious work. Pick up an item, write my name, a description, the size, and a price on the tag… twice.  Cap the marker so I don’t stain my guest bed’s comforter, jab the super-sharp tagging gun into the cloth.  Fold and put in appropriate bin.  REPEAT.  AGAIN. AND AGAIN.  I’ve got two diaper boxes and one big rubbermaid container filled already, it has to be at least 100 individual items so far.

And I still need to go through the preemie-to-3-month box, and then do a sweep through the drawers and closets for the stragglers.  And even that hasn’t started on the larger items like one of the carseats, a Baby Bjorn, two exersaucers, and various assorted other baby stuff around the house.  It’s a little overwhelming, and I’m glad there’s still two more weeks until the sale.

It feels a little gluttonous, sorting through all of these clothes.  The sheer volume is amazing, and it’s sad, bordering on embarrasing, how many things were never worn at all, or only worn once.  So many were gifts from even before the kids were born, and the sizes and seasons just ended up being wrong (tricky to estimate correctly, since Rebecca is always a size “behind”).  But I’m pricing them pretty cheap (most shirts and pants are $1.00), and I hope some other family can get good use out of them.  I’m not exactly going into the sale with the hopes of bringing home big bucks.  I don’t feel the universe owes me some refund when I’m done with the clothes that we bought.  But hey, if I can make a few dollars here and there, why not? It can go towards this year’s fall/winter wardrobe, right?

I’ve come across a few items that have made me a little bit sentimental, but I may yet still stick a tag on ’em and sell them.  They’re cute, I remember the kids wearing them, but why would I keep them?  We’ll see.  I’ll go through the boxes again before the sale just in case there’s some I want to keep at the last minute.

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Filed under Infants, Newborns, Reminiscing, Secret society of twin moms, Stuff, stuff, and more stuff

Catharsis

(noun) elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression.

I feel the need to write one (hopefully) last entry on breastfeeding.  Mostly because I have a few lingering things that I just need to let go.

I do not regret our decision to go to 100% formula when the kids were eight weeks old.  At that time, in those circumstances, with that experience, it was the right decision.  And it has afforded some notable advantages. Other people can help with feedings, for instance, which allowed me to be better-rested than many new moms.  And at this age, when they hold their own bottles, it’s pretty sweet to just hand them bottles in the stroller and run an errand.  It’s expensive as hell and I can’t wait to move on to whole milk, but it has had its benefits.

But breastfeeding was something I had really wanted to do, something I prepared for, something I felt confident I was going to be able to do.  And it just didn’t work out.  Maybe it was meant to be that way, and maybe no matter what, that’s how it would have ended up.  But with hindsight being 20/20, and all that I know now, I can’t help but think I could have done some things differently.  And as I may not have any more kids and be able to benefit from my own experience, maybe this will resonate and help someone else.  Or maybe not, and maybe this is just for me.  That’s OK, too.

Before I launch into my list, let me be clear.  I am not sad and in need of consolation or advice, I am not bemoaning the way my life turned out.  I think things have turned out rather well, in fact.  I just have had these ideas bouncing around my head for a while, and I want to get them written down so that I can let them go.  Breastfeeding (or not) is such a loaded, emotional issue, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to get over if it doesn’t go the way you hoped.

So here you go, the things I’d change if I had it to do all over again.  Would all of these have been realistic?  Would they have made the critical difference? Who knows, and it doesn’t really matter.  They’re just ideas…

1. Nurse more in the NICU.

This is a very hindsight kind of thing. Because when you have a baby (or two) in the NICU, your only goal is that they will be able to come home. And one condition of coming home is to take all feeds by mouth and gain weight. Daniel was pretty slow to transition after he was born, and would fall asleep before finishing his whopping half-ounce, and the rest would go down the little nasal tube. I didn’t want to tire him out at mealtimes, so I didn’t nurse. Bottles were always easier. Guess who had the seemingly incurable latch issues? Rebecca and I tried more, and were more successful, but she was just so darn tiny.  In hindsight?  Be aggressive about trying to nurse as much as possible, nasal tube be damned. It probably wouldn’t have meant more than an extra couple of days in the hospital, which seems like no big deal right now, but of course would have felt awful at the time.  Ah, the fantasy of hindsight.

2. Throw away the schedule, at first.

We came home from the NICU with the kids on a predictable 3-hour rotation, and they were supposed to get high-calorie formula every-other feeding. In my attempts to nurse, of course, sometimes they would want to eat again after an hour or two. Because the 3-hour schedule was so concrete in my brain, it made me nutty when they wanted to eat more often, as well as convinced I couldn’t possibly make enough milk for them. So I’d give them a bottle of formula, which stayed in their tummies a bit longer, and didn’t actually tell my body to make more.  I wish I had been able to just let go of the 3-hour idea and just sit and nurse all the damn time for the first couple of weeks to actually get a supply going.  Maybe do a bottle of the high-cal stuff every 6 hours, just to do what the doctor said, and pump those times, but you get my idea. Save the schedule for a little later, nurse constantly for the sake of establishing milk production. By the time someone told me to do that, I was so married to my 3-hour schedule that I couldn’t handle letting it go.

3. Throw away the pump, sort of.

From day 1, my life revolved around the dreaded pump.  The seeming lack of results, combined with the milliliter-counting that is life in the NICU, was really demoralizing.  And the whole pumping-then-bottle-feeding is an absolute nightmare.  You prep bottles, you feed bottles to slow-eating babies, you burp babies, you put them down and go pump for 20 minutes… you label and refrigerate bottles, you clean the pump parts… leaving you with approximately 15 minutes to do things like, say, hang out with your babies. And while I didn’t feel like my body responded well to the pump, I probably was, in fact, producing enough at the time for one baby.  But if I wasn’t nursing two babies, my body was never going to learn to produce for two babies.

The pump can be a useful tool, of course.  It was good to have in the hospital when my babies were not in a position to nurse, and it would have been good as a supplemental tool to help boost supply.  But while I was sent home with instructions to pump every 3 hours, I do not feel like I had any idea of how to get off of the pump.  Hindsight verdict: chuck the pump and nurse all the time, only use the pump maybe at the times that I did the high-cal formula bottle.

4. Get better nursing attire.

This may seem like an odd one, but I think it would have been helpful.  One of my big stumbling blocks was that I was very uncomfortable nursing in public.  Less for reasons of exposing the boobs, but more for fear of exposing the belly. I’ve always been overweight and self-conscious… add in a big, squishy, stretch-marked postpartum belly, and do you really think I wanted to lift up my shirt?  But getting out of the house was really important to me, and I’d just end up bringing bottles and not staying out long.  What I wish I had done was gotten some of those nursing tanks to wear under my shirts (so the belly would remain covered, even if I had to lift up my regular shirt), or those pull-aside nursing shirts, or something.  I really had no nursing clothes, save for two sort of transitional nursing bras and one non-functional nursing tank (there are better kinds out there.  I think the right attire would have made an enormous difference in my ability to nurse while not at home.  Also… a hooter hider! I knew about these things at the time, but as nursing was looking questionable, I didn’t want to spend the money in case it didn’t work out.  Alas.

— — —

There you have it, my woulda, coulda, shoulda list.  Would I have been able to do them in my post-partum hormonal state? Would any of it have made a difference with Daniel’s weird-tongue-thing and hideous latch? Would doing all of these things have saved breastfeeding at the expense of losing my mind?  Who knows. Maybe not, and I’ll never know.  But now I can stop bouncing these things around in my brain when I can’t sleep, I will know they’ve been written and not lost, I can come back and reference it or link it for someone, or add to it if I think of something else.

It’s done.

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Filed under Infants, Mommy confessions, Newborns

Things I love about Massachusetts

After spending about 20 of my first 21 years in Illinois, I moved out here to New England eight years ago this month. I was ready for a change of scenery, an adventure. Six months later, I met M, and the rest is history. Now I live in the ‘burbs in my four-bedroom Colonial with my husband, two kids, and a dog. I’ve mentioned my internal conflict about whether or not to return to Illinois someday, but in general, I’m pretty happy here in Massachusetts.

There are things, of course, that I do not like about this crazy state. The roads, in particular. They’re neither parallel, nor perpendicular. They curve and twist and change names with alarming frequency. Not that you’d know about the name changes, since there are no legible street signs. I don’t mind semi-aggressive driving, but the fact that turn signals are viewed as a sign of weakness is a problem for me. While there are plenty of nice individuals here, people as a whole are a lot less outgoing and friendly than the midwesterners I grew up with. And don’t get me started on the lack of good Mexican food.

But there are plenty of things I really like. The seasons, the scenery, the history. Liberal politics and marriage equality. The fact that you can drive for two hours and be in three states. I really am digging the fact that Massachusetts has a rate of twin births 34% higher than the national average [some people don’t think this is a good thing, see my post today over on How Do You Do It? for my response], and that my twin club has well over 200 members. And I love that we have awesome health insurance.

I know, that’s a weird thing for me to write about, but just roll with it.

In Massachusetts, they recently passed a law that requires all residents to have health insurance, and nearly all employers to offer it. I think this is a good thing, though I’m sure some people resent it. MA also has good laws about what insurance companies are required to cover. For one, we have among the most comprehensive insurance for fertility treatments in the country, as MA requires insurance companies to cover it, including IVF (hence, in part, the unusually high rate of twins). Prenatal and maternity care is great, too. I barely paid anything in co-pays for my entire pregnancy, delivery, and hospital stays for all three of us. MA also requires health insurance companies to cover a minimum of 48 hours in the hospital post-vaginal birth, and 96 hours post-c-section. If everyone is doing well and wants to go home, some doctors will discharge you earlier, but I felt no pressure at all to leave.

I had no idea this wasn’t the way of the entire country until my niece was born last week. Mom and baby were doing just fine after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, but why does that mean they were all but booted out the door 24 hours after she was born? Literally, she was born around 5pm, and they were out the door by 6pm the next day. My cousin, who lives in the same area, apparently had the same experience a few months ago when her daughter was born. I know some people hate being in the hospital, and want to get up and go as soon as possible. Not me. Sure, I had the surgery to recover from, and babies in the NICU, so that contributed to my lack of desire to leave. But seriously, in the hospital, you have professional help! You have nurses, wonderful nurses, to help you get up and out of bed, to help you in the less dignified moments, to help you take care of this strange new being that you’re supposedly responsible for creating and now raising. You have lactation consultants! The early days of breastfeeding can be so hard, I can’t imagine being at home and on my own after barely a day. You get food delivered to you! I know some hospitals have a bad reputation, but mine had pretty darn tasty food, and I was even able to order from a menu!

Thankfully, my new niece and her parents are doing just fine, and my stepmom is out there being as helpful as she can, while trying to walk the fine line and not be overbearing. But still, and extra day of nurses wouldn’t have been such a bad thing, in my opinion.

Didn’t I tell you? Practically perfect in every way… I can’t wait to meet her.

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Filed under Family, Hospital, Just me, Newborns, Politics

For the pregnant ladies in the hizzouse

It’s Birth Story Week over on How Do You Do It?.  Yes, the sort of thing you’d only find on mom blogs (and probably TLC).  But for those who like a good birth story, especially of the multiples variety, head on over.  Mine went up this morning (complete with a terrible picture of myself that I had not previously posted), and there will be more all week.  Good times!

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Filed under Newborns, Pregnancy

Unpleasant Flashbacks

A woman in my moms of twins club sent a somewhat desperate sounding email to our group’s listserv last night. angry rebeccaShe was going through that awful, overwhelmed period where you feel like you spend so much time managing the babies that you can’t actually enjoy them. Plus, she’s in a new moms class (probably the same one I took), and really only has the other singleton moms to compare herself to, so she feels like she’s really not “keeping up,” while all of the other moms are practicing the songs and reading books to their newborns… She got a lot of really positive feedback from the group, as what she’s going through sounds completely normal to the rest of us.

It just got me thinking. I loved that new moms group, because there really are a lot of things that are universal to the experience of being a first-time-mom. We’re all a little nervous, wondering if it’s normal for newborns to be so… noisy, and all of the other new-baby stuff. But on the other hand, there are some fundamental differences to the experience of having multiples that go beyond “twice as much of everything.” Because, especially in the newborn days, that can mean twice as much time feeding, changing diapers, trying to get them to sleep, etc. And that (obviously) has an enormous impact on what else you’re able to do. There’s very little time (and, in particular, energy) for things we hear that singleton moms are doing – singing songs, reading books, lots of cuddling. With two newborns, you almost never get to do those things, and it’s hard not to feel like a shitty mother for it. Especially when the singleton moms in your class claim that their 6-week-old “loves books!”, and you’ve yet to crack one open for your pair. When you hear that there’s some guideline that says you’re not supposed to leave them in the swing for more than 20-30 minutes at a time (I swear I read this somewhere), and that’s the only place you can get yours to sleep, or at least stop screaming long enough for you to pee. Oh, the ways in which we beat ourselves up over the things that we do just to survive those first few months.

Mom-101 wrote last month about the differences between parenting your first and second child. She seemed to be feeling the mom-guilt of not being able to do the same things with your second that you can with your first. A lot of what she said felt very familiar to me, and I thought that being a first-time-mom of twins is a lot like being a second-time-mom, but without the benefit of ANY experience at all. Lucky us!

double stroller brigadeThe key for me, as I have said before and will say again, is social support in the form of a mom network. And much as I love my singleton mom friends, and I don’t mean to knock them, because parenting any newborn is hard, hard work – it’s just different with twins. It just is. And you need to be able to talk to people who have done it with two.

My pediatrician and I were chatting this morning, and I mentioned one or two of the tricks I’ve learned (like coating chunks of slippery banana and avocado with crushed rice krispies), and she laughed and said I was good at giving advice. And I’ve always loved being the person who can help people get questions answered. Tour guide, board member, whatever, I love it. But it’s not because I’m especially clever or creative. I didn’t come up with the rice krispie thing on my own, nor did I dream up most of the other tricks of the trade I’ve learned. I got them from other moms. I’ve asked questions of the women in my MOT club, whether through the listserv or at our monthly mom-support meetings (which I will soon be co-chair of, I’m such a joiner!). I’ve read the blogs of other twin moms, I’ve asked questions here and had people give me ideas and support. And I love passing all of this on to those who come after me, because I know how much it meant to me.

It’s part of the reason I started and have kept this blog. It’s the main reason that I started How Do You Do It?. It’s why I’m getting a little ridiculously involved in my moms of twins club. Lots of us live far away from our families, and it’s unlikely that most of our friends with kids also have twins. We need each other so we don’t go completely insane.

And, little by little, you start to figure it out. You pass that awful newborn stage and end up with predictable naps and happier kids. And then you realize, you’re lucky to be a twin mom when you watch your singleton friends use all of that spare time to hover over their children and freak out about every little scratch or stolen toy. As overwhelming as those newborn days are, I honestly believe being a twin mom actually makes you a lot more laid back about a lot of things, because you have to pick and choose what you’ll spend your time worrying about. You realize your kids have made you a supermom.

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Filed under Infants, Muggles, Newborns, Secret society of twin moms