My Story

The chronicle of the journey from infertility, to miscarriage, to finally raising twin girls born in June 2012.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Attempting to shift the night shift

We're still having a few problems at night, but we might have figured a few things out.

The girls are usually in a bassinet in the living room all day.  We tend to have the tv on, either on news or some sci-fi something.  So it occurred to me, they are used to a combination of white noise and dialogue!  The other night, we turned on the white noise machine AND put a radio quietly on a talk radio station all night and we had a pretty good night.  They woke up every 3 hours or so for feedings and diaper changes and generally went back to sleep fairly quickly.  WOOT!!!

We talked to a nurse about whether or not there was a safe way to let babies sleep on their tummies.  Apparently not.  Medical professionals are still adamantly opposed to that so we won't be trying that.

We are also trying to add a little stimulation into their daytime awake times hoping that will make them want to sleep longer at night.  Of course, there's not a whole lot of stimulation to be had.  While they are really 6 weeks old, their adjusted age developmentally is only a week.  But we are starting to see a few developments.

Both girls are lifting their heads up high and holding them up to look around at the world.  And I think they are starting to make eye contact and hold a gaze a little bit.  Or maybe I'm imagining that because I so desperately crave some sort of interactive acknowledgement of my existence.  Every once in a while, one of them will sleep for 5 solid hours, so I'm starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.  Sleeping through the night might actually happen before I completely lose my mind.  Fingers crossed that it happens soon, but I'm not expecting it to.  Their little faces are experimenting with smiles, but more as muscle twitches and not yet because they are responding to anything.

Christina had to get an ultrasound on her hips because she was in the frank breech position for so long.  They are detecting some looseness in the sockets so we'll have some sort of follow-up about that.  I don't really know any details.  I'm not too worried about it though.

The doctors did remark at how strong her legs were and that makes me feel good.  I still feel guilty that so much of my parenting is hands off because I'm tied to the pumping machine so often.  K has to do most of the hands-on stuff because I'm not available.  But they are growing fast and strong because I'm doing that so I'm trying to take solace in that fact.

I'm going to keep up the pumping as long as I can.  I figure until at least 6 months, but it's rough.  Living life in 3 hour increments, 30 minutes of which I'm stuck only being able to do whatever I can reach from a chair, it just sucks.  Granted, sometimes I'm glad I can go hide and just play with facebook on my phone while K deals with screetching children, but mostly it's just annoying.  And I am missing out on a lot of cuddle time because I have Madonna style cones on my boobs, and even when I don't, the boobs are often sore and it's hard to cuddle when holding your child hurts your chest.

One of my boobs keeps developing hard spots.  They hurt.  So far I've been able to forcefully massage them out while I pump so I haven't developed mastitis (yet), but they are not making this any easier.  Each time one of these spots develops, it takes about 24 hours to fully work it out.  Working it out means pressing REALLY hard on the spots while pumping, and sometimes even just leaning over a sink to hand express whatever I can get out of the blocked duct.  The lumps hurt like a really deep bruise, so massaging/pressing them forcefully just hurts like hell.  But it's better than not working them out.  Kind of a lose-lose there.

Some of the ADD seems to have abated, I can concentrate a little bit now and I'm not getting distracted as easily.  I'm starting to have moments where I feel like myself again.  Just moments.  K and I left the girls with the in-laws and had a date night last night.  It felt really weird.  It was like the old me and the new me were at odds and I was trying to figure out which one was real.  I'm still not sure which version of me is going to come out of all this.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The night shift

We're not having good nights around here.

Two nights ago, K did the sleep in the living room with the girls thing so I could sleep through the night.  Last night, I intended to return the favor, and I really tried.  But Charlotte decided that she hated the world from 10pm - 4am and would not shut up!  Around 1am, I started crossing over from stressed out to really pissed off, and I had to put her down and wake up K.  I'm afraid to say what briefly crossed my mind because everyone will go all red flag on me, but let's remember that thoughts are not actions, and I assure you, they never will be.  That's why I put the baby down, and woke up K to help me, because I simply could not stand it calmly anymore.

Just as she FINALLY went to sleep at 4am, I sent K back to bed, I put my head on my pillow on the couch, and within 30 seconds Christina was ready for her bottle and diaper change.  There was much screaming of the phrase "you have got to be fucking kidding me!"

And as she was finishing up around 5am, guess who decided that she was hungry again and woke up screaming.  6am, Christina is sleeping, and Charlotte is put down, but still griping from time to time like she's going to pitch a fit.  Again, I'm ready to pull my hair out, so I tag in K to come sleep on the couch so I can sleep in the bedroom.  And of course, the minute it was Daddy's turn to deal with whatever might come along, everyone decided that sleep was just fantastic and K didn't have to do anything.

I had to get up about 8am to pump and then take my parents to the airport.  I was tempted to buy a plane ticket to New Zealand just so I could sleep on the ride there.

K and I have now both had a night of fragmented 7 hours of sleep in the last 2 days.  I have to pump even when he's taking the girls or I wake up soaking wet and in a lot of pain so we don't really let me go more than 4-5 hours without waking me up for that.  Last night I got about 2 hours of sleep and then took a 2 hour nap this afternoon.

By the way, my in-laws are in town.  For all of you visiting new parents, it's not fucking cute to have someone constantly teasing, talking to the babies who are very calm during the day saying "I think your mommy is lying, you don't get fussy at all!  I don't know what she's talking about!"  Yes, I am telling the truth, yes I'm pissed off at the world right now from lack of sleep and hours of screaming, and since I can't rip out the child's hair, don't tempt me to rip out yours instead!

Random notes - we've gone out to restaurants for the last 2 nights and the girls have slept through both experiences with no fussing at all.  I'm actually rather impressed by that!

Obligatory picture of the Pissy Missy's that are pissing me off during the 3 minutes they were both asleep at the same time.  Sure, be cute, make me feel like shit for being frustrated.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Breastfeeding and not me

Before I get all the pro-breastfeeding lectures, let me start off by saying that I'm pumping and my girls diet is made up purely of breastmilk mixed with a touch of Neosure to increase the calorie content.

It's the actual feeding at the breast that I'm talking about.  And I'm not doing it.

At first, it was an issue of the girls mouths just being too small and too weak to properly feed at the breast.  Preemies and the complications that creates and all.  But as time has gone on, I dunno, I'm just not doing it.

We did try.  I got a couple of different sized nipple shields and I have nursed each successfully at least once with it.  I even did a naked feeding at some point with one of them.  But the whole thing was frustrating.

First, they just didn't want to do it.  It's rather insulting to have your baby taste your breast, and then scream as they push it away and turn their head away from you.

Second, when we finally did succeed, we offered a bottle about 15 minutes after what appeared to be a very satisfied milk coma, and they would still take at least half, if not the full bottle.  If they need that much to fill their tummies anyway, why waste our time and frustration nursing?

Third, it hurts more than the pump.  At least for us it does.  Maybe it's because they are still itty bitty mouths and they can pretty much only hang on the nipple rather than get a lot of breast in the mouth.

Fourth, freedom.  I'm pretty darned tired, and I can't imagine how exhausted I would be if I had to be the only one to feed both girls.  I don't really appreciate being tied to the pump every 3 hours either, but at least if I'm out and about and miss a pumping, the only one punished for it is me (and my boobs DO punish me if I neglect them).

At this point, my girls are 2 days past their due date.  In theory, they are standard newborns rather than preemies and I very well could be beginning to breastfeed exclusively.  But I'm not gonna.  If we were stranded on a desert island, we've figured out nursing enough that my kids wouldn't starve, but since it's not necessary and none of us seem to enjoy it, I'm not going to do it unless a situation arises where I have to.

I did have lovely pictures in my head of that serene scene where everyone is smiling as the baby suckles.  That's not the scene in my house.  I can bond with my babies just fine holding a bottle instead of wincing at the pain in my boob.  And I really don't care that "if you just do it, it gets better.  You just have to get over the hump."  No I don't.  I don't have to do anything.  The pumping and bottle feeding is working out pretty well for my family so we're not going to go through the pain of figuring out something different.

And if I'm ever out in public, feeding my girls, and some nosey old biddie gives me a judgmental "the breast is best!" I'm not going to quietly take it and shrink with shame.  Nope.  I'm going to ask that person as they think they're walking away "excuse me, but what exactly are you hoping I will do now that you've said that?  Oh gee, I never knew that, I'll just whip out a boob right now!  Thank goodness you told me that and changed our entire lives!"

And just a hint for those of you who are having trouble and do want to get over the hump.  Give your baby about 10-20ml from a bottle, burp, and then take the baby to breast.  Once that initial starvation feeling goes away, the baby will likely have the patience and desire to nurse successfully.  That's what worked for us the few times we got nursing to work.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Today is a better day

Wow.  Thanks so much everyone!  I was really expecting radio silence after my post about being miserable, but I've gotten more support comments than I thought I had readers!

I called the doctor and he saw me late afternoon yesterday.  Being the end of day on a Friday and not being a psychiatrist, there wasn't a whole lot he could do, but we talked a bit and came to the conclusion that in the short term, I need sleep.  I didn't sleep much during the last couple of months of pregnancy, and I'm now a really light sleeper with every single baby nurfle waking me up.  One little noise and I'm officially awake waiting for the "feed me" scream, even if it's another hour or two before it happens.

My years of bipolar disorder was triggered by life long sleep deprivation.  I had sleep apnea really bad and went my entire life not getting deep sleep until I had surgery to correct it a few years ago.  Once I had that surgery, I went off my depression meds (about a year later to try to get pregnant) and never needed to go back on them.

The doc gave me a prescription for a few nights worth of Seroquel which will apparently put me in a coma for 8-10 hours.  I've been warned that when I take one, be prepared to be done for the night because I will soon be out cold.  He also gave me the info for a therapist that specializes in this and instructions to make an appointment for early next week.

Honestly, I don't know what therapy will do for me.  I tend to outsmart it to some degree.  Yes, I have a really funky history with the infertility, losing a set of twin girls and now giving birth to a second set of twin girls.  I mean come on, that's just weird.  But even though I have a rough history, I just don't think there's a whole lot of therapy to be done.  While I was going through all of that, I kept very in touch with my feelings, allowed myself to feel them, and I think I went through the grieving and stress processes pretty well.  I'm just not sure what there's left to work through.  But I'll give it a shot and see if there's help to be had going that route.

Even though K had to work today, he insisted that I sleep last night.  He practically shoved an Ambien down my throat (because I can wake up with Ambien, we don't know about Seroquel), and he slept on the couch and kept the girls in the living room while I slept undisturbed the whole night.  I felt like such an asshole doing that!  He is feeling the stress and lack of sleep too.  He's wrenched his back and has been in some pain the last couple of days which is a stress pain he hasn't felt in years.  I just felt like it was so unfair for me to get a full nights sleep when he hasn't had one either, especially with him having to work the next morning.  Why do I deserve to sleep and he doesn't?  Add that to my "I feel so guilty" list.  I'm not sure if we're still going to knock me out tonight as planned, we'll discuss it when he gets home from work.  It's either a moot point now that I feel better, or we should go ahead and do it to give me more of a solid footing for the upcoming week.

Good lord what a difference a night makes.  I woke up about 3am to pump and help hold a bottle in a babies face, but then I slept solidly until 9am when K woke me up so he could leave for work.  I feel like a normal human being today.

I'm not saying I'm over it.  And I'm not saying that I won't be a crying freaking mess an hour from now, but for the last 7 hours, I've been puttering around the house, actually in a decent mood.  And today I think the babies are kinda cute instead of looking at them as little time bombs.  Haven't cried today, yet.

I think K and I will figure out some way to make sure that each of us gets one solid night of sleep per week.  The idea of sleeping when the babies sleep is all well and good, but in practice, if they make a noise that I'm capable of hearing, I'm just not sleeping.  Babies don't sleep silently so if I'm going to really sleep, I can't be in the same room with them or with a monitor.  I need to be out of earshot.  It's a good thing I really trust K and his fathering skills.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I feel so guilty

All the time.  Just guilty.  All.  The.  Time.

Most of the people reading this blog have been with me through the infertility and miscarriage struggles.  You're here because you share a similar struggle and maybe you just haven't removed me from your feed yet now that the topic of the blog will inevitably change to actual parenting instead of fantasizing about parenting. Maybe you found me because you're also a new twin parent and are looking for various tips, or just looking for someone else who's sleep deprived like you are.  However you found me or your reason for reading, you're going to absolutely hate me for my next statement.

So far, I hate parenting.  There.  I said it.  I have everything I've been dreaming about for years and I'm hating it.  I'm not overwhelmed with connection to my babies, or an addiction to holding them like other mothers describe.  They are a job, one that I'm not very good at, and until they can look at me and recognize me, I'm not sure that connection will really hit me.

I absolutely dread the moment my babies will wake up, and I endure the parenting process until they fall asleep again.  When someone else is in my home, be it my husband, or an aunt or cousin who has come over to help out for the day, I simply want to foist the parenting onto them and get in my car and run away.

Of course I'm not actually running away.  Ok, so I'm taking advantage of helpers and when they come over, I'm leaving to do some grocery shopping, or taking a half hour to sit at the local Starbucks, but I'm never more than about 10 minutes from the babies.  And eventually I do want to come back.  I just hope that they are sleeping when I do.

I am so overwhelmed with guilt.  Constantly.  And a solid 50% of my guilt is completely irrational.

  • I feel so guilty that I don't feel a stronger connection.  That I'm the ungrateful infertile.  (PS - this is one of the main reasons I haven't been writing much.  I complained about not being able to get pregnant, I complained about being pregnant, I'm totally ashamed of the fact that most of my thoughts are now complaints about being a mother.  So I'm just not writing because obviously, I just suck as a human being.)
  • I feel so guilty that we're in a financial black hole from achieving this goal and I'm not happy now that I've achieved it.
  • I feel so guilty that my girls are so little because I wasn't able to grow them bigger and hold them in longer.
  • I feel so guilty that I'm crying all the time.  Sometimes there's a reason, sometimes there's not.
  • I feel so guilty that K is doing more than his fair share of baby soothing in the middle of the night, even when he has to work the next morning.
  • I feel so guilty that there was a fun holiday yesterday and it didn't even occur to me to do anything about it in terms of having some sort of fun or showing the fireworks to the girls (even though they are too little for it, I feel guilty that I'm just generally a party pooper and will miss out on future fun opportunities for them because I simply can't be bothered).
  • I feel so guilty that I'd rather be washing bottles and let K get the girls when they wake up rather than just automatically dropping everything to be Mom when the girls cry.
  • I feel so guilty that I'm pumping rather than nursing, even though nursing is really difficult when they are this small.
  • I feel so guilty that I've only taken about 200 pictures of the girls and absolutely no video.  I'm a videographer for fucks sake!  I have 2 devices within reach at all times on which I can record video and nope, nada.
  • I feel so guilty that they are starting to exit the itty bitty stage and enter average newborn size, and I didn't do more to document the itty bitty.
  • I feel so guilty that we aren't even using the nursery I spent so much time decorating and arranging, but rather we're keeping them in the living room with us during the day and in a pack and play in our bedroom at night.
  • I feel so guilty that I haven't bought a mobile to put over their heads, even though they don't have the eyesight to see one yet.
  • I feel so guilty that I'm looking at Facebook on my phone while feeding babies.
  • I feel so guilty that I'm thinking about when I can stop with giving them breastmilk because I really hate being hooked up to a machine or a baby every 3 hours, and my boobs hurt all the time.
  • I feel so guilty that I spent money on a few preemie items that are now being outgrown.
  • I feel so guilty that I'm a total clutz when trying to burp my babies and I can't seem to keep their heads from flopping as I try.
  • I feel so guilty that I'm using disposable diapers a good portion of the time, even though my grandmother gave us 6 months of diaper service.  I'm trying to use the cloth, but their butts are so small, they almost swim in the preemie diaper covers and pre-folds!
  • I feel so guilty that my grandmother died when they were only 6 days old and never got to see them.  Various family members are pretty certain that she was waiting for the news that the girls got here safely before she passed.  She was 100, her body was fading out on her, and she was ready to go.  But once she knew the girls were here, one of the few things she would say in her final days was to call my father "grandpa" and then squeeze his hand.  And  I feel so guilty that at the family gathering to celebrate her life next month, there's a good chance the girls will still be too little for a big gathering and game of pass the baby and we won't be able to go.
  • I feel so guilty that I don't know how to play with the babies.  Or sing lullabies.  Or just in general, what the fuck do you do with a newborn after you've changed their diaper and fed them?  I just don't know what the heck you're supposed to do to pass the time until they fall asleep again!  I have no play instinct!
  • I feel so guilty that I generally keep the house pretty dark because my eyes are so light sensitive and I might be fucking up the babies ability to learn proper circadian rhythms.
  • I feel so guilty that I kind of want to get rid of my 13 year old cat because the bastard insists on peeing in front of the litterbox instead of inside of it.  Yes, we have pads down, and I'm sick of having cat urine either sitting on the pad or going through my washing machine again.  (No, I'm not actually going to get rid of the cat)
  • I feel so guilty that I want a diet of pure cookies.
  • I feel so guilty that I'm pretty much back to my pre-pregnancy weight, and with all the dieting I did the months before pregnancy and now the general shifting of where the weight is on my body, none of my clothing fits and I might have to buy clothing yet again, for the what is it now, 5th time in a couple of years?
  • I feel so guilty that I'm not as excited about being able to have sex again in a couple of weeks as K is.
And the list goes on and on.  New mom guilt.  Possibly the beginning of post partum depression.  I'm gonna go eat a brownie and probably disappear for another week or two before writing again.  Maybe I won't.  I dunno.  I don't even know what day it is anymore.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I'm holding a baby

I'd like to be doing some other things right now, but I'm holding a baby.  Baby who does not wish to be fed, have a diaper changed, or be asleep will only stop crying if I hold the baby.  So, I'm holding the baby.

It's ok right now at a reasonable time of the evening.  Dishes can wait.  I don't really need to fold laundry right this minute.  It's when we decide to play this game at 3am that it gets really old.  We don't co-sleep and were told over and over again that it's unsafe to fall asleep while holding a baby, no matter how secure the position may be, so at 3am when being awake is a struggle, holding a baby who simply doesn't want anything else, not as much fun as it sounds.

Ok, baby has been asleep in my elbow for over 10 minutes now.  I'm going to put the baby down in the bassinet.

1 minute and still appears to be sleeping peacefully.

5 minutes and she's getting noisy again.

It's going to be a long night.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Where do new moms go?

I've noticed that new moms seem to disappear for a while.  And I'm now doing the same thing.  So I thought I would report on where new moms are when they seem to be completely gone.  My time is spent:

Doing dishes - primarily bottles.  There are lots of little pieces and after 2 feedings, the soapy water bucket in our sink seems to be full and things need to be washed.  I've purchased a whole slew of bottles to try to reduce how often I actually need to wash stuff, and to increase the number of things that can go through the dishwasher at the end of the day without needing to be washed and used before then.

Milk Management - pumping, measuring, pouring, mixing with a calorie supplement (because my girls need extra calories), labeling, reportioning out to freeze, etc etc.  We're starting to nurse directly from the breast, but sheesh there's a lot of milk management when you pump!  Good news - I have a ton of extra milk.  I'm producing enough for 3 babies and I only have 2, so we're getting a nice frozen supply built up.  But when you're stuck to a machine for a few hours a day and you're in pain if you wait too long to hook yourself up, it's amazing how much time it seems to take up.

Shopping/Researching - so much internet time is now spent trying to find a product to assist with some sort of inconvenience.  A bottle that's more like the breast.  A swaddler that will fit properly and be easier than just a blanket.  Coupons for diapers.  So instead of talking to people and continuing with your adult life, new moms are using their internet time for figuring stuff out and buying other stuff.

General housework - This one shocks the hell outta me.  I hate housework.  I'd rather sit in a dirty house than do housework.  In the 7 years I've been married, I've done very little housework because honestly, I just don't care.  But now?  CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!!!  Organize this, arrange that, wipe down that other thing.  It will take me 45 minutes to walk the 20 feet to the bathroom because I find a dozen little cleaning and arranging tasks to do along the way.  Wanna know what I have for just about the first time in years?  A clean fridge.  Yup, I put bottles in there and sorry fridge shelf, you're just too gross and must be cleaned before a bottle can sit upon you.  I'm terrified to fall behind in some way because it might make functioning tomorrow really difficult.

Fixing and making things - Let's see, I've converted an old bassinet into a double feeding station.  I'd show the picture of K feeding both the girls in it, but his shirt was off and he's a bit modest and would probably prefer that I not use that picture.  Again, this is not a SIDS safe napping station - this is strictly a place to hold both of them while I hover over them for feeding.  If I need to step away for a potty break or something, I take them out of this nice gushy soft thing and put them in safe, flat, nothing to suffocate on bassinet.

I've also done some sewing on my pumping/nursing bra because it didn't hold the bottles to my body tight enough.  A few quick stitches and some extra eyehooks fixed that.

I've rearranged the diaper changing station a few times, I've put together a snack bucket to keep at my pumping station, and one of these days I'm going to pull out my sewing machine and some old clothing that I kept for the fabric and make some extra swaddlers similar to the style I like.  I've taped a box to the side of the fridge to hold some containers because the counter was getting too full to hold everything we need to keep there.

PS - we were given 2 of just about every style of swaddle/sleepsack in existence so we could test what we like.  By far, our favorite is the Loving Baby Swaddle Blanket. It's easy and seems to secure them the best.  Just so ya know.

Doctors appointments - who decided that babies need to see doctors every few days or so?  It sure seems like that's the case.  As if we aren't confused about what day it is anyway, now they want new parents to get their babies into a car and see a doctor for a checkup a few days after birth, a week or so later for a growth check (at least my preemies needed that), the one month appointment, etc etc.  Keep the kids on a schedule my ass!

As for why we disappear in person and not just online - we're not dressed.  Seriously.  Most of us are probably in some sort of pajamas, or maternity pants with a nursing tank top combo (if we're the ambitious sort), or we're just walking around in a nursing bra and yoga pants.  

Oh, and uh, we smell.  Yup.  There is a variety of funk ingredients that could be emanating from us at any given point in time.  Here's a few that can be mixed and matched to create your own personal stench - your standard 4 days since your last shower BO, sour milk that dripped on your pants a few days ago but these are your most comfortable pants so you don't want to lose them to the laundry for a day, the tape and the fact that your skin folds over and traps moisture at your C-Section scar (I swear I'm making sure to cleanse every day but good lord this part of my body is stinky at the moment), that not so fresh feeling in the panties because you've been having a period for several weeks straight, and a vast array of baby goos and poos that could be smeared on you without your knowledge.

And last but not least of what is taking up our time - negotiating.  Trying to come up with a game plan for tonight that will give the most participants the maximum amount of sleep, and going over what worked and what failed last night.  Then the new game plan doesn't do any better, so you end up napping a significant portion of the day away in 90 minute chunks.

Oh yeah, I totally forgot, there are a few minutes spent changing diapers, holding a bottle or nursing, and snuggling hoping the little one will go back to sleep momentarily.    But really, the snuggling isn't nearly as much of your day as you would have hoped it would be.  And it's usually around 3am when a baby has decided that being quiet is only possible when being held.  So there you are, holding a baby and it's the most calming and serene scene imaginable and for safety reasons, you're not allowed to fall asleep!  So the last thing you want to be doing is snuggling and behaving in a drowsy, calm manner because it takes every bit of fight in you to stay awake while doing it when all you really want to do is put the baby down and go back to sleep.

And here's a picture of me and the babies.  I love this picture, but don't think this is actually how I'm spending my time.  Do we take pictures of what we spend most of our time doing?  No, we take a picture when we come across a very rare moment and need proof that it actually happened.  So here's mine.  Proof that for one fleeting moment, things were beautiful on my couch.

Excuse me, I just heard a sputter and I'm seeing little legs twist in the air.  It's diaper changing / feeding time.