Wednesday, March 16, 2016

From Belly To Birth and Abdominal Stirrings

This morning I woke up with some rumblings in my tummy and a little bloating. My first thought was, "Oh my gosh, I'm pregnant!" Funny how my recent pregnancy made that my context for abdominal happenings. With my history of infertility combined with the fact that I am not only nursing but using an IUD, that would indeed be a miracle!

Luckily I shouldn't be reliving the joys of pregnancy any time soon (wouldn't that be crazy while raising infant twins!?) from a literal standpoint, but you can reminisce with me if you would like as my birth story was featured today on the blog From Belly to Birth. Megan shares some really interesting posts highlighting pregnancy and the birthing process, focusing specifically on the varied and unique experiences we have as women bringing these babies into the world. Many of the stories are touching reads and also provide good information for women with questions about their own upcoming births or those hoping to understand more about childbirth (guys?).

Feel free to check out my post (and others). While it is very similar to my original post it has a few added details and back story. I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading it back and the emotions it stirred up. I am glad that I documented it as the details get fuzzy after even a short period of time.

Enjoy!






Saturday, March 5, 2016

First in the Nation


 

One of the advantages (and sometimes disadvantages) of living in Iowa is that we get to be very involved in the political system due to our "first in the nation" caucus. This gives us many opportunities to view political ads (make them stop!), meet the candidates, and spend a lot of time thinking about Republicans and Democrats.

Campaign buses: a common site leading up to the election
Abe has been interested in politics ever since I have known him. (Funny enough, although not on purpose, both babies share names with political commentators.) Growing up in Utah, where most of the candidates don't even bother campaigning, I had very little political exposure. I remember being surprised to see my first political add on TV -- "They have commercials for the presidential candidates?"


Abe has taught me to enjoy the involvement we get to have as Iowans and we try to attend events for the candidates where we can. Some of the people we have met or seen in the past include multiple times for Obama (even before he started his presidential campaign) and Romney, Guilliani, and Ron Paul. We have been to rallies, dinners, meet and greets, and the Iowa Straw Poll.

This year we have been quite busy (surprise!) and we were unable to make as many events this cycle as we have in the past. We attempted to attend a Trump rally with Sister but after standing in a winding line (out the door, down the street, and through a parking garage) for about 90 minutes we made it to the doors only to be turned away due to a full venue.
"I don't want to see Trump, I just want to go home!"
The babies and Abe were able to meet Dr. Ben Carson later in the week in the warmth of the indoors.


While waiting during a photo-op, Abe told Dr. Carson he should check the babies' fontanelles. He said, "I was just thinking that" and said they were both "good." Not many healthy babies get an exam from a famous pediatric Neurosurgeon!






We were also able to meet Chris Christie...(I even asked him a question about his policies for mothers and families)



...and Rand Paul. 




And we snuck in a picture with Ron Paul.



The babies were a huge hit at most of the events with multiple reporters wanting to talk to us about them from the local student newspaper to national papers such as the New Jersey Star Ledger and the Iowa Press Citizen and even a reporter from Sweden and another from Ireland. Mister seemed perfectly content with the hubbub and energy of the crowd at the large Rand Paul event but poor Sister found the loud applause and cheering a bit frightening. Poor baby! I guess she isn't a Libertarian, after all.



I wish we would have been able to introduce the babies to all of the candidates (if only we had more foresight and a little more time!). But were glad they were able to get some pictures with a few candidates and they were even the headline feature in a few Iowa newspapers and mentioned in the Irish Times! As an identical twin myself I am quite aware that twins are popular but I wasn't expected to be so interesting to reporters covering international news.

Des Moines Register/Press Citizen: These 4 month old twins are the cutest thing you will see at the caucuses today

Irish Times: Republicans pull out all of the stops in Iowa


One reality of having twins is that everyone wants to tell you about "their" twins, whether that is the set of twins they went to school with, their own children, or their distant cousins. Even Mrs. Paul (Ron Paul's wife and Rand Paul's mother) wanted to talk to us about her twins, her daughter's twin girls who are now in high school.


And although not a political figure, the babies were able to meet local celebrity Kirk Ferentz, the coach of the Iowa Hawkeye Football team while at the Chris Christie event. 




Maybe we will get some more chances for twin photo ops in another four years!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Catching Up



Last night for Valentine's Day Abe planned a date for us --weeks in advance! A real it-is-like-we-are-single-again-and-have-to-plan-to-impress kind of a date. With free babysitting (our Christmas present from Abe's sister) and even free overnight babysitting (from Abe's parents just because they are awesome).

We had a real night of romance with burgers from Teddy's Bigger Burgers followed by a Second City comedy show here in town. We had hoped for a nice dinner before but when you have two babies things don't always go as planned, so we settled on something quick --burgers. We had also hoped to leisurely enjoy our burgers but evidently it takes about 25 minutes to make burgers at a place that looks fast food-ey and so we had all of 5 minutes to eat before we had to run over to the show. (Ha!)



This picture makes me laugh! Couch potatoes.

After a way too fast uninterrupted night of sleep I awoke sadly to my alarm. I wanted to sleep more but knew I needed extra time to get ready for church, pick up babies, and maybe have time to pump. And then church was cancelled. Evidently it is snowing outside. So I slowed down the pace on my oatmeal slurping (everyday breakfast lately, evidently good for milk supply. Eh.) and decided to take full advantage while my in laws kept the babies and took them to their (un-cancelled) church. After almost an hour pump session I decided to take advantage of almost three more hours of delicious sleep. (Abe is at the hospital rounding and on call during all of this, by the way.) What could be better for a sleep deprived mommy of twins who wakes up too early to feed babies and drive to work and back every day and goes to bed altogether too late to have time to pump and have a free minute for herself after bedtime?
Except I guess mommy has too much on her mind because here I am unable to sleep. And so what's the next best thing? Blogging? I hope so because that is what I am going to try to do!


We have had a few big happenings around here. Abe (now known as Daddy) is back at work at the hospital. After 10 glorious and well timed weeks on research (meaning more flexibility and time at home!) he is back to the grind of long hours of surgery, call, rounding, etc. In the meantime, we found a nanny we really like who seems to be doing a great job. I really battled with myself on the way to go with childcare and in the end I decided I feel most comfortable knowing they are being well taken care of in our own home, with less opportunities to get sick, and more flexibility for me and help with things like baby laundry and bottles.

 

And I finally completed my boards. I hope. Assuming I passed. I left the babies while I flew to Dallas for the test earlier this month to become a board certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon. Obviously having two babies at home made studying a challenge and I was quite nervous and dreading the trip. I was nervous about leaving the babies for the first time and really missed them. Luckily, despite the stress of the test it ended up being a pretty nice trip.

Quiet time
On my way to the test!
When I found out I was pregnant with triplets I joined a secret group on Facebook for other triplet moms. Even though I lost our Baby C early on, I was encouraged to stay.  "Once a triplet mom, always a triplet mom." I have been able to gain support and learn a lot about being a mom of multiple babies from this group and have made a few friends as well. I was excited to meet up with one in person while I was in Dallas. It was really great to meet Sara Jo who works in the dental field and also has "twinplets" after losing one of her babies early on. Luckily, she wasn't a serial killer or even a creep! She very generously picked me up from the airport, took me to lunch with her adorable identical twins, and then to celebrate after the test by treating me to dinner. It felt like we were old friends and I am sad we are so far away because I think we really hit it off. 

Celebration with a chocolate piñata --it's a Texas thing


The chocolate piñata before picture.
You better believe two nursing twin moms could do some damage!
We didn't take an after picture.

I also took advantage of some me time during my trip. I de-stressed with a pedicure and a massage before (and after) the test. The morning of my flight home I met up with an old friend Mike from high school and his adorable family.

I don't have a picture with Mike and his family but I got one of the white Alligator at the aquarium
They were so sweet to brave the Dallas traffic to pick me up and share the morning with me despite the fact it was his wife's birthday. We went to the aquarium before they took me to the airport to go home. It was fun to catch up and wildly enough, he also just had twins a few months after mine. So it really turned in to a twin mom meet-up weekend!

 

Now that the test is done I have had high hopes for decluttering my house, making gourmet healthy meals, getting in shape, and being an amazing and focused mom. But amidst all of that studying I guess I forgot that I still have two babies and that makes it hard to do much of anything. Still.

 

As for the babies, they are doing great! They are adorable and interactive. They smile and laugh a lot. They seem to be in the early stages of teething so are a little grumpier lately, have been sleeping in their own beds for quite some time now, and sometimes sleep through the night. Mister weighs over 15 lbs and Sister is 14.5. That's a lot of baby for one mamma to carry!











Where Have We Been?





I have started a few posts here and there but can't seem to find the time to get them posted. Here is one from last month. I wish I knew the exact date... And I added a LOT of pictures.

Our handsome devil and little pumpkin
 

I want to say that time flies when you have two babies at home but I'm not sure that is accurate. In some ways it is amazing to think they are already over three months old. And in other ways it seems like they have been here for the long haul. Long days maneuvering all of our responsibilities and short nights being up with babies have made it a fast passing of long days.





I can say that I've missed blogging but life has been quite crazy. The biggest obstacle perhaps even more than having two adorable faces to kiss and pinch and feed is the impending final portion of my board exam coming up next month. I find that it has been very challenging to study. At first finding the motivation to study was difficult; now as I feel the time crunch and the panic coming over me, I find that finding the time is the most difficult. It seems inevitably they wake from their nap or both cry when I try to study but I've been doing my best to do an hour per day where I can. In the meantime, planning to do anything but babies and studying in my free time makes me feel guilty so blogging has taken the hit.

 

Today they are happily cooing in their mamaroos while their dad is on call at the hospital. I am pumping anyway as I watch them almost lull me to sleep as they bounce and sway so I thought maybe this would be the time for a quick update. So, where to start? Maybe just by answering my most commonly asked questions.

 

Q: When do you go back to work?
A: I have been back to work for about 5 weeks now. I was pleasantly surprised to remember how much I like my job. Phew! I wish I had more time with the babies but it is much less exhausting to work a full day than it is to take care of both babies. I have been lucky so far to be able to bring at first one and lately both babies with me to work so that has taken away a lot of the separation anxiety and mommy guilt. We have explored multiple options for childcare and hope to find a nanny soon. 



Q: How are the babies?
A: The babies are doing great! They are growing very well and looking more and more like chubby babies. Little brother has overtaken his sister in weight. They are both starting to smile and laugh and interact much more. Brother had some more tummy troubles early on but seems to be feeling better and becoming happier and easier every day. She is incredibly social, happy, and smiley which is a lot of fun.

Also, since I am not using their names online I have decided they will be known now as "Mister" and "Sister."

 

Q: Are they on the same schedule? 
A: The babies are often on the same schedule, although not really anything we purposefully did. We will often wake the other one up to eat in the middle of the night but sometimes Sister will sleep almost through the night so we may just let her sleep.

 

Q: Do you nurse them at the same time?
A: I have nursed both babies at the same time a handful of times (this is called tandem nursing in the twin world). Unfortunately, breast feeding has been a struggle. Pre-term babies often have difficulty feeding and this is a residual effect of their early delivery. We have spent hours and many tears and visits to the lactation consultant to make breast feeding a reality but have supplemented with bottles all along the way. Sister is becoming pretty darn good at it and I try to nurse her as often as I can when I am not at work, but Mister is on a nursing strike and has decided bottles are much easier and better. I hope he will come back to me sometime but I am trying to take the pressure off us both. In the meantime, I pump when I can (usually on my daily commute) and supplement with formula. It is frustrating that the better (and cheaper! and often easier!) option isn't the one that is working for us but there is only so much you can do! 

 

I was surprised by the emotions that come with breast feeding. When it is something that doesn't come easily it is excruciatingly frustrating. I have felt more inadequate in this aspect of my life than in most others I can think of. Logically I know it has no bearing on my worth as a mother but I can't seem to shake the feeling that I am not providing the most basic physical and emotional needs for my babies in the way I am "supposed to." That doesn't mean I disapprove or look down on anyone who chooses or has to use formula but I am surprised how hard it has been for me, despite my expectation all along I would likely use formula at least some times, to shake those feelings. I think the "breast is best" campaign did such a good job convincing me, it is a little hard to believe now when they tell me, "They are great! Formula is great! It really doesn't matter." I am grateful they take bottles and am fine with them having formula but I would really love it if when we tried to nurse it was a positive experience for all three of us and that I could produce a bit more (which my work schedule and my need to sleep preclude). No, I do not have a single ounce of my own breast milk as a stash in the freezer.



Q: Do they sleep in the same bed?
A: While they used to recommend twins share a bed or even be co-swaddled, they no longer recommend this. We felt the safest bet would be to follow the recommendations so they each have their own crib. And maybe as a boy-girl pair encouraging them to learn to sleep on their own is less awkward as they age...?


Q: Do they sleep through the night?
A: We have been lucky we had a lot of support in the beginning. After my mom left a few weeks after their birth, my MIL was gracious and generous and spent many nights up with them so we could catch up on sleep. This was amazing especially since we had to wake them up every 2 hours to feed them due to concerns about weight gain early on. Now, they usually go to sleep about 8:30 or 9 pm and sleep until about 1:30-2:30, and then we all wake up at 5:00 to get ready for work. Some nights sister will sleep straight through until 5:00. I wish I could go to bed when they do but I find myself staying up to study, complete some tasks on my to do list, interact with Abe, or just have some me time.

You get creative in baby holding and maneuvering

Q: How are you recovering?
A: I'm surprised by how many people ask this sweet question. I feel a little surprised by it because I have been feeling pretty good for quite some time now. The first days in the hospital were very difficult and painful but I overall feel great. I am really hoping after my boards are done and I get better at taking care of two babies I will manage to get into a healthier eating regimen and start exercising again after what has been a year or two absence with a challenging pregnancy and activity restrictions during fertility treatments.


Q: Did your mom come live with you after the babies? 
A: Unfortunately most of my family lives in Utah and were unable to move to Iowa for the birth of our babies (wouldn't that have been great!). I was lucky to have my mom stay with us the day we got out of the hospital for about ten days. She originally planned to stay for a shorter period of time but generously extended her stay when she saw how much help we needed in the beginning. We were also very excited to have my parents make a last minute trip to visit at Thanksgiving. It was great that we were able to introduce the babies to my parents so early on. Abe's parents and sister live in town with us and have been a wonderful support as well. We have reaped the benefits of free babysitting multiple times and have even been able to get out for some date nights on our own early on. We are so happy to have some family close by and they have made the transition to two babies so much easier.

It seems everyone is a little tired taking care of two babies!