My Story

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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Over the hill

I think we're at the beginning of the end of my pumping.

The girls will be 6 months soon and in the last couple of weeks, their demand has caught up to, and sometimes surpassed, my supply.  It doesn't help that my supply has slightly dropped.  I've gone from averaging around 60oz per day to just under 50oz.

I'm not too worried about it though.  We're now introducing solid foods.  For the time being, it's not for nutrition or meal replacement, we're just learning how to eat from a spoon with about a tablespoon of rice split between the girls per day.  We might try oatmeal tonight, and I've got a few veggie purees ready to to be tasted next week.  As their solid food intake increases, their breast milk intake will decrease.

Initially, the goal was to pump for the first 6 months and then see where we are and decide if we want to continue.  Now that we're coming up on 6 months, it seems kind of silly not to just go ahead and bring it on home to have breast milk for the whole first year.

Now we're dealing with milk management.  Some of the milk in the freezer stash is threatening to get old.  For the last week, we've been thawing part of the freezer stash and replacing it with newer milk.  Rotating out the June and July and freezing the November.

At my record, I had 1,188oz of milk frozen but that's now down to 1,068.  Keeping track of how much comes out and how much goes back in has been a challenge.

I think it's going to be another 2 months of pumping 5 times a day to try to keep up with the girls demand.  Around that time, I'm hoping that the solid foods will start to decrease their milk intake and I'll start seeing that freezer stash build up again.  Once I start putting more in than I'm taking out, that will be my signal that it's time to start weaning off the pump.  I figure it will take about 5 weeks to wean, dropping one pump a day for a week at a time.  So I'm looking at returning my rental pump in January or February, and relying on my less powerful pump for any of my pumping needs beyond that, probably fully stopping in March.  From then on out, we'll just go through the freezer stash until it's gone, and hopefully that will coincide with the time that the girls are on a full solid diet around the 1 year mark.

Of course, if my supply continues to drop, my body might have other plans for us.  In relation to my supply dropping, my weight is creeping back up.  While I haven't stepped on a scale, I suspect I'm now back to pre-IVF-induced-diet-from-hell weight.  My jeans were a bit snug yesterday and I might have to break out the wardrobe I was in before I started all this craziness.  Does that mean I'm back to normal?

In other bodily news, I think I've resprained my ankles again.  I had perpetually sprained ankles for years and did some physical therapy to deal with it a while back.  But now they're feeling like they did before so I'm assuming they are back to being perpetually sprained again.  Pretty sure I've developed carpel tunnel in my right wrist as it's giving me a lot of pain.  And a weird pain on the side of my groin every time I turn at all.  It's stopped me in my tracks a few times.  I'm assuming this all a part of ligaments and tendons and stuff tightening back up.  Maybe the bones of the hips and pelvis are doing some maneuvering to recover from the pregnancy.  I dunno.  I'm just kind of a sore, achy, ouchy mess.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Driving myself crazy

Before I get into it, I feel the need to state that things are a lot better than they were a few months ago and I'm feeling much more bonded to the girls than I was at first.  Silly lovely dovey things are coming out of my mouth much to my surprise.  Like a few days ago when I heard myself say "I just love that smile!  I wish I could bottle that smile and pour it on my pancakes!"

Where the hell did that come from?  I'm actually pretty self conscience about acting all ooey gooey.  I'm embarrassed to have anyone hear me sing to the girls.  Not because my voice sucks, I actually have a good singing voice, but because the lovey dovey stuff is so not the persona that I've come to associate with myself.

But anyway, that's kind of an aside.  The driving myself crazy is this overwhelming feeling of being judged and never measuring up.

One of my major mental issues with being infertile and then a miscarriage mama is this overall feeling of the universe deciding that I'm unfit and then denying me children.  Being denied by an adoption agency, the doctors refusing to do a fresh round of IVF until I lost weight, etc etc.  I've just had so many deliveries of the message that my motherhood is dependent on whether others deem me worthy or not.

It's a fear I still carry.  Over the summer when we had the windows open in the house, I feared that the neighbors who didn't realize there were two babies here might call CPS because they often hear a baby crying and might suspect me of neglect.  My fear runs so deep that I've even worked out what I would do if someone knocked on the door claiming to be CPS.  I wouldn't open the door to random strangers claiming to have the authority to take my kids from me (that seems like a fear tactic that an ax murderer might use to gain access to your house), but I would tell them that I would only allow them in if escorted by my father (a retired federal judge who would act as my legal council) or a uniformed police officer.  How sick is it that I'm so scared of something that will never happen that I actually have a game plan?

Yesterday at Thanksgiving dinner, Charlotte was having a rough time due to the teething.  The girls were also both massively overtired because they hardly napped at all during the day.  I really wanted to show them off, but ultimately they had to spend the dinner in their stroller in my parents room with the lights off because they needed to sleep and that seemed to be the best way to make that happen.  The whole time, I felt damned if I do, damned if I don't.  I had an internal need to be with them because I almost felt like I was shutting them away for the sake of convenience.  But I also had pressure, both internal and external, to leave them alone because they needed to sleep and they were just fine.

But it was after I ate that really demonstrated how I'm driving myself, and probably everyone around me, absolutely nuts.  Charlotte was crying because her mouth hurt.  Everyone knew what her problem was, everyone understood that there's only so much adults can do to help a baby, but I just felt like everyone was watching me completely fail at mothering my baby.  And I hardly touched Tina because she was being social so others were holding her the whole time.

Everyone is trying to remind me that once you try everything you know to help a hurting baby, sometimes the only thing you can do is to put them somewhere safe, like in their crib, and let them cry for a little bit.  Intellectually, I agree.  Especially since I get myself so worked up when I hear a baby crying that my own tension only makes things worse for the baby.

But when the time comes, I almost feel like I have to try until I'm to the point of bursting before I allow either of us to just chill out by allowing her to cry for a little bit.  Like there's some universal mommy judge overlooking me all the time and if I don't do things right, it's going to take one or both of my babies away.  Whenever I try to tell myself how ridiculous that is, my brain snaps back with "it happened the last time" (referring to losing my girls 2 years ago).

K is on my back about taking care of myself.  That it's not only ok to let the girls cry when they are hurting (again, after doing everything I can to soothe the hurt), but it's what's best for the family as a whole.  That if I make myself stress out to the breaking point, I'm not only forcing myself to suffer, but they are picking up on that stress and it's not fun for them either.

I can predict the comments already.  "I could never allow my baby to cry all alone in her crib."  "How awful, ignoring this helpless little creatures cries because you don't want to listen to it!!!"  "Babies cry because they need you to do something for them.  How could you possibly consider just allowing them to cry!?!"

Welcome to the universal "they".  That's what I hear every time I can't please one of the girls.  That "they" are judging me and if I can't figure it out soon and make it all better, "they" will somehow declare me unfit and my babies will go away.

I wish I could somehow understand that the girls are unconditionally mine.  Intellectually, I got it, but emotionally, it's just not sinking in.  I just can't shake this feeling and fear that my parenthood is contingent upon others approval.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Charlotte is teething

The title says it all, poor thing.  We can't feel the tooth ourselves, but she's showing all other signs.

She's generally ok during the day, sometimes showing some signs of discomfort and chewing on her hands a lot, but once evening rolls around, she'll shriek and it's obvious she's in pain.  She's chomping on our fingers a lot.  Those seem to be her favorite teething soothers.

I have a bunch of the standard chew toys in the fridge, but most of them are too big for her to get into her mouth well enough to really soothe her gums.

Sometimes she's just kind of chewing on the nipple of her bottle instead of really eating so I thought I'd be all ingenious and make bottle chew toys for her.  I took a bunch of the bottles that we had previously rejected for feeding, filled the nipples with breast milk, and then froze them upside down in an ice cube tray to catch drips.  Yeaaaaaaah, she didn't like that.  She recognized the bottle as a feeding instrument and got irritated that milk wasn't coming out.  She didn't catch on that she was meant to just chew on the nipple.  Oh well.  The best laid plans....

I took all the little nipple shaped breast milk ice cubes and put them in a baggie so I can wrap them in a cloth and let her chew on that.  She does like the rags that I dipped in breast milk and then froze.  Some of them have half a dose of baby Tylenol mixed in.

I read that baby orajel isn't a good idea because it numbs the throat and dulls the gag reflex.  Too bad, because it seemed to help before I read that.  K smeared half the recommended dose around the base of a pacifier because it wasn't sticking to her gums when he tried to apply it per the directions.  I'm not throwing the stuff out, but I'll only use it as a last resort if she's in real pain and we can't find anything else to help her.  If we use it, she'll sleep in her car seat so that if she spits up, it will either dribble out, or back down into her tummy as opposed to having spit up sitting in her throat choking her.

I'm not sure what else to do for her.  I'm open to ideas knowing that I'll be dealing with this for a while and with 2 kids.  What doesn't work today might work tomorrow so I'd love to collect an arsenal of ideas.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sleep training, morning edition and rice from a spoon

What are you looking at?  Nuthin, I'm just chillin in my
awesome blue, yet girly jammies!
Sleep training is going really well.  Last night was a little rough because I allowed them to get overtired during the day (I forgot to turn off the swing for a particularly long nap) but it wasn't pure torture for anybody.

This morning, I woke up at 9:30 needing to pump (it had been over 9 hours) and got myself all hooked up.  2 minutes in, I see little open eyes on the monitor.  All I can think is "oh crap.  Well, Mama's gotta pump, I think we're all gonna just have to suffer for a half hour or so."

Charlotte, denying the camera
her smile as usual.
But we didn't!  They quietly babbled with each other and the mobile until I finished.  I got the milk distributed into bottles and by the time I was ready to go get them, they were asleep again!  It's 10:30am now.  This is awesome!  I've made myself some coffee, warmed up a cinnamon roll and I'm eating my breakfast, bottles at the ready, watching them sleep on the monitor.  I'm assuming one or both will wake up again any minute, but until that happens, a leisurely breakfast for me!

I think it's because they aren't scared when they wake up in the crib anymore.  Yes, they're hungry.  It's been about 6 hours since they've eaten.  But they aren't waking up and just freaking out so if I can't get to them immediately, they can go back to sleep if they aren't just starving.  Before, if they woke up, there was no doubt about it, we needed to get to them before they got majorly upset.  This is so much better.

Oh, random funny conversation K and I had last night.  I knew the girls bed time was going to be off because their nap was at a weird time and Charlotte was kind of falling asleep at the bottle.  K asked if we should skip their bath and do the short version of bedtime routine.  I said "I'm not sure, she might be all alert in a few minutes.  We'll play it by ear."  To which he responded "Did I just hear what I think I just heard coming out of your mouth???  Every time I say the words 'play it by ear' you growl at me!"  "Well Honey, usually when you say it to me, it's when I'm asking you for information I need to create a specific schedule!  Besides, in the last 5 months, I've learned A LOT about how to play it by ear."  So there's a little indication of how my personality is changing since becoming a mom of multiples.
Tina, totally hamming it up,
as usual

The pediatrician told us a month ago we could start introducing some solids.  I'm not real gung ho on it.  While they are on breast milk, I know they are getting the right balance of nutrition, everything they need and nothing they don't.  Once we start substituting milk for foods at feedings, we have to start thinking about balance and making sure they get everything they need.  It's a challenge I'm not real excited about taking on. I've certainly never figured it out for myself but I'll be a better person for them than I am for me so in the upcoming months, it's something I'm going to have to finally learn about.

Yesterday was just an experiment.  We have some rice flakes from one of the many hand me down bags I've received over the last year and it doesn't expire for quite some time, so I opted to start with that since I've already got it.  The girls haven't really shown any interest in our food so I don't feel a real need to start introducing it.  But on the other hand, they are now eating approximately what I produce every day, if not a little bit more.  In the last 2 weeks, we've had to thaw out 60oz of my frozen stash and that's making me a bit nervous.  My thinking is that if we start adding a little bit of rice, perhaps they won't need quite as much milk per day.

Onto the experiment!  I mixed up about an ounce of the stuff according to the directions.  It was a 1:4 ratio of rice flakes to my fluid of choice (breast milk).  I got a little spoon, and off we went!  This experiment was not about getting rice into their bodies, it was simply about seeing if they could figure out what I wanted them to do when I brought a spoon to their lips.

Tina was a bit fussy in general but seemed to enjoy herself.  I didn't trim that video like I did for Charlotte because she scared the cat which I thought was funny.  Charlotte isn't sure what to think, but I got a good smile of hers on camera, something she does not like to give me very often, so I'm happy.  Yes, proof that she does often smile even though every picture of her comes out looking contemplative!

I tried adding a teaspoon of rice to Charlotte's 5oz bottle, but even though I was using the tricut playtex nipple designed to let rice flow through, and even though it was hardly any compared to the amount of fluid, it kept getting stuck.  It usually takes her between 5-10 minutes to eat, this time it took over 40 with me occasionally squeezing the nipple and pressing on the drop in bag to help add pressure to the milk from the other side.  I made up a bottle for Tina with 2oz of breast milk and 1/4 tsp of the rice (I had the rest of her bottle set aside so yes, she did eat a full bottle), put in a level 2 Dr. Brown nipple on her bottle and she was able to suck it down really easy.  It's possible that the difference was that Tina's bottle was warmed up and stirred more, whereas Charlotte's bottle was straight from the tap so it may not have been quiet as warm.  Maybe the rice didn't dissolve as well in Charlotte's bottle as it did in Tina's.  Oh well.  Live and learn.

Wow, I'm almost done with my coffee and they still aren't up yet.  On another day, I might actually get them up, but since they've had that mild cold, I'm thinking I'll just let them sleep all they want.  Maybe I'll get that video done that's due in a couple of hours.  Is this what it feels like to have time to accomplish things?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bed time and babysitting

My parents come over to babysit every Monday from 5:30-9:30pm.  K and I are free to do whatever we want with that time.  Last night, I had my monthly moms of multiples meeting so I went there and K borrowed my parents van to pick up a second glider for the nursery and to enjoy a quiet dinner with a book.

We're very grateful to have this weekly reprieve.  But since we've started doing a proper bed time, it's not quite as easy as it used to be.

Before, when we were just flailing all over the place, it was no problem to let my parents do some of that flailing for a few hours.  But now that we have a bed time routine, flailing has some consequences.  We have two versions of the bed time routine, the real one, and the abbreviated version that's necessary when there's only me here to do it.  I tried to tell my mother about the abbreviated bed time routine, and I got the answer I usually get when I try to tell her something about her babysitting time - they'll be alive when you get back.  Okey dokey!  I tried!

K beat me home and told me quite the story when I got there.  Apparently he walked in to find Tina asleep on my mom so she couldn't move, and dad walking around desperately soothing Charlotte.  Yes, Dad got to experience the Charlotte Screetch.  Even though he had recently fed her, he decided to give her another full bottle.  When she finished, she gave the full bottle right back to him.  "How do you calm her down without the endless walking?!"  You don't ignore the mommy when she's trying to give advice before she leaves, that's how!

Had I not been dismissed, they would have known that the girls get tired somewhere between 7:30-8:30pm and if they would have taken them into the nursery to rock them while Mom sang the lullaby (our voices are almost identical and I use the same lullaby she sang to me every day of my life), the girls probably would have been asleep in their crib within a few minutes and they never would have had to experience the screetch.

I'm not one of those anal retentive types who insists that you care for my babies the exact same way that I do.  I know the girls won't burst into flames if you use desitan instead of coconut oil when you change their diaper.  I just generally don't care if things are slightly different for the girls for a few hours a week.  Caveat - I know my parents will listen when it comes to real health and safety issues like if one of them develops an allergy or something.  Mom can be dismissive sometimes, but she's not dangerously stubborn or anything.

Oh well.  Maybe they'll let me finish my spiel next time.  I emailed them a bit of snarky "you ignored me, how'd that work out for ya?" and what the girls expect for bed time now that we have some routine.  I'm curious to see if they pay attention next week.

PS - at the meeting, the sleep expert was there again.  I talked to her briefly about how we've been doing sleep training and she says she thinks we're right on track.  What we're doing (a gentle CIO) is age appropriate according to the signs the girls have displayed and they are responding really well.  We had one kind of rough night, which in hindsight really wasn't bad at all, and it's been really easy ever since.  They've learned that after the bed time routine, it's time to sleep, and both are going to sleep pretty quickly.  Our cry it out tolerance hasn't been tested a second time, which is good because I don't think I could do it a second time.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cry it out controversy

Wow, so many comments because we let our girls cry for a bit!  I've been called ignorant, cruel, and probably a few other things behind my back.  But I'm soldiering on, every day making new decisions based on what feels right at the time.

The 45 minutes seems to really be sticking out to some people so I offer these comments on that - about a half hour in, we also decided (like many of my commenters) that they weren't just fussing anymore, they needed something.  We determined that they needed to be fed.  But it took some time to warm the bottles and get the burp cloths and stuff needed to feed them.

The main problem we are trying to fix is the whole over tired thing.  The long rocking and cuddling is partly to blame for them getting over tired and once that happens, we're all just screwed.  So we're trying to cut down the bed time routine so it doesn't take so long that when we see the tired cues, we can get them to bed before they catch their second wind and start moving into the over tired range.  We're also trying to create a bed time routine that's brief and can be done with just one parent because sometimes there's only one of us available.

As for the comment that insomnia isn't a learned thing - I have no clue as to whether or not training them as babies will prevent that problem in the future.  But if insomnia sucks for me as an adult, I can only imagine that it sucks for a baby too.  So I'm trying to train them to go to sleep quickly after being put to bed so they aren't dealing with it.  If that carries over into their older selves, all the better.

Here's what happened last night.

8:30pm - we start seeing tired cues.  It's been a while since either girl had eaten so we did a feeding and prepared to start bed time routine.

8:45ish - both girls are falling asleep at their bottles.  We're having to twist the nipples and stuff to keep them awake enough to eat.  We decide to skip the bath and do an abbreviated bed time routine since the bath would add an extra 10 or 15 minutes and these girls are ready to sleep now.

9:00pm - The girls have had a brief massage with lotion in the crib, one song, swaddled, turned on the mobile and we left.

9:01pm - we turn on the baby monitor to see 2 sleeping babies.

9:30pm - well, that was fun, they're awake.  Start 5 minute wait.  Someone had mentioned yesterday that lying down while sick might be putting pressure on their nasal passages and it might be uncomfortable or even cause an ear infection.  We decide that they might generally feel better if they sleep in their car seats so they are sitting up a little bit and to keep everything draining properly.  We also have a cool mist humidifier going for them.

Just a note about the whole "sick" thing.  It's so mild I'm not even sure they have a full cold.  Charlotte's poos are still a little green which indicates she is fighting something, but they don't have a fever and other than the eye goop for about 24 hours and a few coughs or sneezes, they really aren't showing any signs of really being sick.  We are acting as though they are because better safe than sorry.

9:35pm - put them in their car seats and put those in the crib.  They seem pretty good so we turn on the mobile and leave again.

Fussing.  I tell K that while CIO felt right the night before, I'm not sure it feels right tonight.  He asks what I want to do.  I tell him I want to do what he tells me to do.  He says "Ok than, it's another 4 and a half minutes before we go in."

9:45pm - We go in.  Charlotte is quietly fussing and easily soothed, Tina is having a meltdown.  I attempt to soothe with song and a hand on the chest but give up and take her out of the car seat and rock her for about 3-5 minutes until she's quiet but still very much awake.

We exit a few minutes before 10pm and there's more fussing.  But it's not meltdown levels, just fussing.  Start the 15 minute timer.

10:10pm - We go in and sing but leave them in their seats.  Turn on the mobile, and out we go.  K and I get ready for bed because K is getting the first migraine he's had in a decade and isn't doing so hot.

10:30pm - They have now been asleep long enough that we officially mark it in Baby ESP and go to sleep ourselves.

4:50am - They are awake so K feeds them while I pump.  Everybody back to bed with no drama.

9:30am - I wake up because I'm simply done sleeping.  I haven't felt that in forever!

10am - Both girls are awake, happy and we start our day which included a breakfast with some extended family even though we got there shortly before the extended family had to leave.  I'm a night owl mom with twins in a morning person family.  I'm just glad we got there with enough time to say hi to everyone before some had to leave!  Charlotte naps the whole time, Tina is lively for a bit (not real happy about it), takes a 20 minute nap, and then parties with my original nuclear family (my brother showed up!  That never happens!) for about an hour before we all break it up.

Now that we've started this, I'm finding that Tina actually prefers napping in the crib instead of her swing.  This afternoon, I took her into the nursery, turned on the white noise machine, rocked her for one song, swaddled her, put the mobile on and walked away.  Much to my surprise, zero fussing and asleep by the time I turned the monitor on in the other room.  She was so awake when I put her down I thought there was no way in heck I was going to get away with just one song, but apparently I did!  Yay!  And her afternoon naps in the crib seem to be lasting about an hour which is an improvement over the 15-20 minute naps I was getting last week.

Charlotte is just generally a good sleeper, she doesn't fight the drowsies much which is why I have so many more comments about Tina.

Folks, I have no idea if we're successfully training them, if they just hit the right age to sleep well, or what.  I'm just doing my best every night to survive at the time while teaching for the future.  My version of crying it out might not be what the books advise, or even worthwhile, I don't know.  What I know is that my girls are learning to go to sleep pretty well, we're pretty much all sleeping through the night, and that every night we'll do our best to understand the current situation and respond to it accordingly.

A few minutes ago, Tina started fussing from her nap.  I thought it was wake up time so I quickly wrote that last paragraph and went to check on her.  She had soothed herself back to sleep.  She's never done that before that I know of.  Awesome!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cry it out was finally tested

Ever since we decided that we were going to try the cry it out method, the girls have been falling asleep really easily and didn't put us to the test until last night.  A couple of things before I get to a recounting of how it went.

Charlotte has a cold, but it's really mild.  Other than seeming a bit tired, a little bit of goop in her eye, a day of green poo, and the occasional cough or sneeze, she's fine.  Doesn't even really have a booger situation happening which is awesome.  But yesterday she refused to nap.  I tried a lot of different things but any time I would put her down anywhere, she would screetch.  I had her cuddled up on the couch with me for about an hour and she would go back and forth between content and screetching.  I texted K about what was happening because I was frustrated and needed to complain, and because I like to warn him if he's likely to come home to an unpleasant household.  He texted me back that while it may be time consuming, a lot of cuddles might be the only answer.

This has been a bit of a point of contention around here.  At night, I rock and cuddle the girls, but not for very long.  I'm really trying to put them down when they are still awake like I've been taught by the books and by the sleep expert.  But when I get frustrated and walk away, K will cuddle until they are fully asleep.  I sent K the following email because I communicate better when I write than when I talk.

I think you're under the impression that I'm either cold, lazy, or both.  I'm not.  I'm trying to teach the girls something they need to learn.
Hours of cuddles to fall asleep are like feeding tubes to eating.  A feeding tube will get the job done, but they needed to learn how to suck and swallow so they could eat for the rest of their lives without it.  There are reasons why learning this skill are vital.   
1)  During the day, there's just me.  I physically can't spend an hour rocking and cuddling one girl to sleep because the other gets ignored.  If they are ready for a nap at the same time, one would simply get an hour overtired and we'd all be totally screwed.  Tina just went through an entire awake cycle where after eating and her diaper change, she was stuck alone on her playmat so I could do the bedtime routine with Charlotte (minus the bath) in a desperate bid to get her to finally fall asleep after 4 hours of fighting it.  By the time I finally got Charlotte down to the point that I could walk away, Tina was ready for her next nap.  Fortunately she's cooperating and calmly swinging while I pump, but what if I had to spend an hour with Tina now to get her to sleep?  By the time I did, Charlotte would be awake again.  And that's an hour of lost mommy interaction time that she just experienced. 
2)  At the moment, it's safe to allow one to be ignored for a while, but pretty soon, within a matter of weeks, they are going to be mobile and the only way to keep one safe while tending to the other one will be to strap her to something. [Editors note - I was referring to a swing.  I don't strap them to a desk or tree or anything.]  I don't want my kids basically strapped down or caged in a playpen all the time because someone needs me to cuddle them for an hour.  They HAVE to be able to fall asleep within a reasonable time frame for their own well-being.
3)  Insomnia is torture.  I don't think you've ever been an insomniac so I don't think you really understand this.  I don't know how to fall asleep.  It's a skill I never properly learned.  It's not just a matter of not getting a lot of sleep because it takes forever to fall asleep, but the falling asleep process itself can be awful.  I don't want the girls to have to experience that night after night.  If we program their physical rhythms now to understand that when you lie down to go to bed, you quickly fall asleep, insomnia will be a torture they won't have to experience much in their lives.  You don't know how lucky you are to be able to simply lie down and be asleep within a few minutes.
I want the girls to learn how to lie down and drift off to sleep of their own accord.  It's a skill I don't have and it sucks not having it.  And it affects every aspect of our day and the amount of time they can spend with us learning and playing.  Every time we give in and pick them up and rock them to sleep, we are teaching them that they are incapable of falling asleep without our help or by just lying down in the crib.  When they fall asleep, it must be in the crib so they learn that when they lie down, they can fall asleep.  Ok, so rock and cuddle until the stress is gone and they are in a mental place to be able to fall asleep, but the falling asleep itself needs to be in the crib.
I do want cuddles even if it seems like I don't.  I can't wait until they are old enough to snuggle in bed with me for bedtime stories as part of their bedtime routine.  Or crawling into bed so we can all watch Saturday cartoons together.  Or wanting to cuddle on the couch when they don't feel good.  But now is not the time to overindulge myself because my desire for cuddles would undo the teaching of the vital lesson they need to learn. 
Please stop making me feel like I have to defend myself when I don't want to do endless cuddles at night. I will be a cuddler, I love the mornings with Charlotte when she wakes up an hour early and will cuddle with me before the family gets up.  [Editors note - the last few mornings, Charlotte has been waking up but it's not time for her to eat or anything so I've been dozing with her in our bed while K gets ready for work.  I'm somewhat anti-cosleeping or bedsharing due to the dangers that have been pounded into my head, but when K is still around to keep an eye on us and she's wearing her Snuza alarm, well, I've been bending the rule a bit while she's not feeling good.]  But I won't sacrifice teaching them what they need to learn in order to get those cuddles for myself or by using endless cuddles to make falling asleep for one night a little easier.   
We need to bite the bullet, soon, and go through a rough week where we don't allow them to fall asleep while being rocked or cuddled, but only by lying down and drifting off on their own.

So after reading this, he apologized and said he didn't realize he was making me feel like I had to defend myself.  I really have been feeling like he must think I'm just a cold bitch or something because I get frustrated when cuddles take too long.  But after reading this, we got on the same page and committed to trying cry it out and to putting them down while still awake enough to be aware of their surroundings so they know they are in the crib when they do drift off to sleep.

And now, here's how last night went.  All times are approximate.

7pm - Bottle.  They aren't eating as much right now because they don't feel very well and don't have a major appetite.  We've been making 3oz bottles instead of the usual 4.5 or 5.5oz bottles so we're not throwing milk down the drain.
7:30 - I see a yawn and they are slowing down.  Time to start bedtime routine.
7:45 - Bedtime routine of bath, calming lotion massage, lullaby and cuddles, then in the crib with the soothing mobile lights.
8:00 - Asleep

7:55 - Wakes up from the 2.5 hour nap that I finally got her to take.
8pm - Bottle.
9pm - Gets tired really fast so we skip the bath but do the rest of the bedtime routine and put her down.

Tina woke up shortly before Charlotte fell asleep.  We cuddle Tina, sing her the bedtime lullaby and put her back down.  After only 20 minutes, Charlotte also woke up.  

Starting about 9:30pm, here we go.

Screaming babies, wait 5 minutes, go in and soothe them in the crib, sing lullaby twice, turn the mobile back on and leave.  Wait 10 minutes, repeat process.  Wait 15 minutes, repeat process.  We did not successfully soothe them mind you, but rather we limited our contact to hands on the chest in the crib for comfort and only 2 songs and then leave whether they were soothed or not. Reason being, I don't want them to learn that if they pitch a fit, it will be rewarded with endless attention.  Once they are down for bed, that's it.  Limited soothing.  

15 more minutes go by and K says "that's 15, let's go." and I tell him no.  If we continue to go in every 15 minutes, they will learn that if they scream for 15 minutes, they'll be rewarded.  It's time to teach them they won't be rewarded.  We grit our teeth and sit.  I start considering caving and asking if we're doing the right thing, is this really teaching them what they need to learn and K holds strong and says yes, this is the way to teach them.  No we aren't teaching them bad things, this is good.

We let them scream for I'm not sure, about 45 minutes to an hour.  By now, it's about 3 hours since they've eaten and we determine that they're crossing over from angry to hungry and we can't expect them to fall asleep hungry.  Besides, I wanted to double check that Charlotte wasn't crying herself into having a snotty nose that would make breathing difficult.  

11pm - diaper change (in the crib) and a bottle (also in the crib).  Sing the lullaby once, turn on the mobile, and leave.  Trying to show them that we'll be there for their needs, but not their wants during the night.  Also gave them a dose of Tylenol in case they were achy from being sick and because I know I always have a headache when I've been crying.  We only picked them up to burp them, didn't interact or look them in the eye, we just facilitated their eating.

About 10 minutes of quiet fussing and then asleep.  By 11:20, we were convinced they were solidly down and I started the sleep clock in BabyESP.  


We were prepared to go all night, only going in to feed and change diapers every 3 hours.  And I seriously thought it was going to be an all night thing.  But it wasn't!  It succeeded so much faster than I expected!

Both slept about 5.5 hours before they woke up K and he fed them and Charlotte woke me up about 8:45 this morning, very happy and lively with no sign of being sick.  Big smiles when I went to get her up.  She is now taking a nap and Tina is still asleep (it's shortly after 11am) which seems to be the pattern.  I've got a bottle warming because Tina should be up any minute now.

A month ago, I was totally against the cry it out method.  At the time, they weren't ready for it.  Some might say they are still too young, but they've demonstrated that they are learning and that the night time crying is somewhat for manipulation.  Tina will stop and practically pass out the moment she's picked up.  That's why we've decided now is the right time.  Anything we do now is what they are going to learn and unlearning a bad habit is harder than starting off with a good one.  While it's not fun, I think we're doing the right thing.  That it worked as quickly as it did last night (didn't feel like it at the time) further convinces me that this is the right thing at the right time and it should create good habits much faster than I thought it would.  Hopefully, we aren't going to have a week of sleepless nights like I anticipated.  

I see open eyeballs on the baby monitor.  Time to get Tina up and starting her day!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

5 months and their first cold

They're 5 months old today.  Yay!

And the girls have their first common cold.  Boooooo!

For a couple of days I've been thinking that Charlotte sounded a little congested and has been a little on the tired side.  This morning she woke up a little early and we brought her to bed with us for about an hour before we all got up to start our day.  We don't allow the babies in our bed very often but sometimes it just seems like the right thing to do.  After K left for work, I saw some green goop on her right eye, it was tearing up a bit and her face was a little red.  So off to the doctor we went!

Nothing to worry about.  They are now old enough that a cold isn't really cause for alarm.  As long as she doesn't spike a fever several days from now (which would indicate an ear infection that she doesn't currently have), a little bit of a fever and general illness is no big thing.  The doctor said it's almost guaranteed that Tina will get it too and right on cue she sneezed and coughed.  Today is day 1 or 2 and I was told that the roughest days will be 3-5, so we have that to look forward to.

Today was also the day to do weight checks to make sure that just breast milk (without the Neosure) is enough for them.  Charlotte's goal weight for today was 12lbs 4oz and she measured in at 12lbs 11.5oz.  Woot!  I'm sure Tina has also surpassed her weight goal of 11lbs 8oz, but I haven't double checked that yet.

Update on the whole sleeping thing - they have yet to test my resolve on crying it out.  Ever since we decided we were going to go for it, the last 3 nights they've gone to sleep really well.  Bed time routine has been pretty easy, taking about a half hour to take care of both kids (K has been home most nights to help) and the song I've been singing at bedtime now seems to have the trigger effect I was hoping to install.  When rocking Tina, halfway through the second time singing the song, she'll yawn and start to snuggle in.  After the third round, I put her in the crib, turn on the soothing mobile and that's pretty much it.  Charlotte is usually the first one to get her song and be put in the crib watching the mobile and the last few nights, by the time the mobile turns off after we've left the room, they're out with little to no drama.

This has been awesome, but instead of sleeping 8-10 hours like they were for a little while, they've started waking up every 4-5 hours to eat.  Growth spurt I guess.  In the past, K has been doing all of the night feedings and letting me sleep a solid night, but...

My milk supply is starting to go down.  Months ago, I was averaging about 60oz a day.  I started pumping less often because that was just so much, and for the last little while, I've been averaging about 50-55oz a day.  In the last 2 weeks, the girls have started eating about 50-55oz a day between the two of them and my supply is now solidly about 50oz per day.  In the last week, we've used up 54oz of the freezer stash and the last bag I froze was Nov 1.

This is no big deal, with what I'm producing and what we have frozen, we should still make it through the first year just fine.  But, I dunno, I guess breast milk production for women can be like penis size to men.  I've got plenty to get the job done, but I'd still like to be really impressive about it.  For a few days, I'm going to pump more often and get up when the girls get up to pump in the middle of the night.  So far, this hasn't increased production at all, I'm still lucky to get 50oz.  If I don't see an increase in the next few days, I'm going to go back to my approximately every 4 hour schedule and sleeping through the night.  It's stupid to spend more time connected to the pump if I'm not going to get anything from it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tina's new trick means it's really sleep training time

Tina has a new trick!  She's been demonstrating it almost exclusively for the last 2 days.

Yes, K has taught her how to blow raspberries.  She's hardly cooing now, just blowing spit all over the place.  Hmmmm, do I warn my parents when they come over to babysit or let them discover the spewing spittle all on their own?

I can see you wondering, what does this have to do with sleep training?  Well, it demonstrates that Tina is really capable of learning.  That means that whatever habits we are setting now are habits that are being learned.  So if we have bad habits, we're going to have to unteach them later and that's just difficult.

Tina is also demonstrating that she's learned to cry for manipulation, not just for needs.  Some nights, she'll cry in her crib, then almost the moment we pick her up, she falls to sleep, only to squinch up and start crying again the moment she touches the mattress.  But if we leave her there to fuss, it only takes a few minutes for her to fall asleep (usually).  So she's crying to make us pick her up when she needs to be learning how to fall asleep in the crib.

Tina pretty much just has one cry.  Her face squinches up, she twists from side to side, and then the crying starts.  There's no telling if she's just unhappy, hungry, in some sort of pain, it all sounds pretty much the same.  Charlotte is more, um, honest about how she's feeling.  She'll kind of grunt and make little unhappy noises for things like waking up and wanting attention, or when she loses the pacifier but she won't really cry for those things.  I've heard her lightly cooing happily at the mobile for a while after waking up if she's content to sit in the crib for a little bit.  She'll express excitement with loud, urgent coos, and other times she'll just kind of talk when she has important things to tell us.  So when she screetches, and good lord is it a god awful screetch, I believe her to be in real pain.

When Charlotte doesn't want to go to sleep and just sits there grunting, it's not very difficult to leave her be to fall asleep.  But Tina, ugh.  She screams and gets worked up and it's really, really hard to let her deal with it on her own.

But two nights ago, we decided that it's time to let them cry it out.  We need to stop allowing them to manipulate us into endless rocking and snuggle cycles that go on for hours until everyone is exhausted and I'm crying and K is frustrated because I've lost my patience and it's now up to him to get them to sleep.  At this point, if we continue to endlessly attempt to soothe them, they're going to learn that all they have to do is cry to put off going to sleep. I've read the books, I've heard tips from a sleep consultant, and yup, it's time to cry it out.

So we do bedtime routine.  This is still a little hit or miss, but this is how it went down tonight after their evening nap (K is working the late shift so I was on my own).

Gentle interaction until Charlotte started getting tired eyes.
Give Charlotte a bath.
Put her in the crib in just a diaper and give her a little massage with bedtime lotion.  Turn off main light so it's just the night light and mobile lights.
Get Tina and put her in the crib to watch the lights on the mobile.
Get Charlotte dressed in a onesie and jammies.
Snuggle with Charlotte and sing the lullaby twice.
Put her back in the crib, swaddle her, give her the pacifier.  Turn the mobile on again so she can watch the lights.
Give Tina a bath.
Put her in the crib in just a diaper and give her a little massage with bedtime lotion.

Get Tina dressed in a onesie and jammies.
Snuggle with Tina and sing the lullaby twice.
Put her back in the crib, swaddle, fix Charlotte's pacifier.
Sing the lullaby once more and tell them I'll see them in the morning.
Turn the mobile on one last time (it's on about a 10 minute timer) and the white noise machine and turn off the night light.
Leave the room.

The plan was to let them cry until they fell asleep, but they beat me to the punch and fell asleep on their own! Awesome!

And just as I'm typing this, 2 hours after that success, Tina is waking up and crying.  I'm sitting here wondering if I should feed her (it's been about 3 hours since her last bottle), let her cry, go in and pick her up, try to soothe her with belly rubs and gentle words in the crib?  I just don't know.  I think I'm going to warm a bottle and feed her in the crib, quick burp, then back to bed.  By then, K should be home so we can figure out what to do from there.

In theory, cry it out.  In reality, unlikely to happen.  We'll see how this goes.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I've painted such a horrible picture

So far, I've had a lot of complaints about parenthood.  I stand by every bitch and moan I've put out there, but maybe it's time to mention the few good things that are happening.

We're out of the worst part of it I think.  I'm not wanting to throw myself through a window anymore, and when a baby wakes up when I just got the other one to go down for a nap, I groan in annoyance rather than burst into tears.  That's some major progress right there.

Once we get them down for the night (still waaaaaayyyy too long of a process, but we're working on it), we can count on anywhere between 5-8 solid hours of sleep for ourselves.  Even though each girl will often sleep 10-11 hours, you can only count the time that their sleeps overlap and nobody wakes up to eat.  In awesome husband news, I don't even know what to expect from them during the night time hours because K takes care of it most of the time.  It's very rare that he'll ask me to take care of a night time feeding.  Looking at the records in Baby ESP, it looks like there haven't been a whole lot of night time feedings so yeah, he's getting some sleep too.

For the most part, I feel like myself again.  When the zoloft prescription ran out, I didn't bother to see the doctor for a checkup so I could get more.  While I'm tired, and my body aches (I never used to be on my feet this much or carry anything), I'm not afraid I'm going to fall down at any moment anymore.

So that's how things aren't as bad anymore, here's what's actually good.

They are displaying hints of what their personalities are going to grow into.  I think their personalities are going to take after the person they got their looks from.

Tina is going to be more like K and be really social. Not to mention a total ham.  She just loves attention and interaction, and is go, go, go all the time.  Now that the harness is off, she's talking a lot and just seems so happy.  When I tuck a blanky around her in the swing, she acts like I just gave her a million bucks.

Charlotte seems more like me.  More contemplative, observational.  She loves to play the games, but feels awkward if she has to fully engage with you while playing them.  She pretty much only smiles looking me in the eye when I approach her to get her from the crib or swing.  Once she's acknowledged that she's glad to see me, it's time to smile about other things.  She'll coo and grin while looking at something over my shoulder rather than look me directly in the eye.  She talks a lot so I think she's going to have command over a lot of words, but I think she'll prefer to use them in a format that doesn't require direct interaction (like, oh, I dunno, maybe blogging?  Sound like anyone you read?).

Charlotte's elusive big smile -
not looking at me of course
The girls are smiling a lot.  Tina has the biggest smile ever.  Her whole face crinkles to try to pull the sides of her lips up as high as she can get them.  Charlotte is a little more reserved, and she does NOT want her smile caught on camera, but when she smiles, she sure means it.

Tina's full face crinkle
The biggest thing is that lately they see me coming and they smile because of it.  I get this "Oh goody, you're here!" look as I enter the room.  Can you believe that?  They actually want to see ME!  Grouchy, ornery, ME!  Still shocks the hell out of me.  Charlotte actually gets excited to see me walking towards her.  There are babies in this world that know me, recognize me, miss me when I'm gone, it's just so totally surreal.  If someone else is holding or feeding them and I'm walking around the room, they are watching me.  I still can't quite believe this is true, but I'm the one they want.  It still just shocks me that one will be upset (in the swing or something) and when I walk in to check, that's all it takes to make them smile.

Fortunately they recognize and want K too.  If they didn't, we might have a real problem cuz Mama needs her alone time.