Saturday, December 31, 2011

More Lortab, Please

Today, my routine was a little different. Instead of Nathan staying up for the night shift with the babies, I decided to stay up and sleep in as late as possible. Around 4:15 am, I finally crawled into bed. Four blissful hours later, Nathan woke me up to feed Ezra and Elliott. This was the longest period of time I have slept in the last month, so I was definitely in a pleasant mood.

A few minutes later, I sat down to nurse the babies. Almost instantly, a shooting pain went throughout my body. The stab of agony was so blinding that I nearly fainted. Thinking that I had perhaps too much milk, I decided to pump. Again, the pain was excruciating, and I find myself sobbing. I was miserable, and something was obviously very wrong.

I suspected I had thrush or mastitis again, but the symptoms were much more overwhelming this time.  After reading several articles, I was convinced I had thrush, as the babies have been fussy the last few days. I then decided to call my friend Caitlin, who is a lactation specialist, for advice.

As soon as Caitlin answered the phone, I began sobbing. All the pain, anxiety, and frustration came to the surface. We didn't have any milk frozen to feed the babies (they went through that earlier this week during a growth spurt), and I knew there was no way I could nurse them considering the amount of pain I was in. Fortunately, Caitlin is very knowledgeable and agreed I most likely had thrush, which can be treated with a simple antibiotic. Unfortunately, though, it was New Year's Eve and a Saturday. The one medical clinic in our town was closed and the on-call doctor suggested I go to the emergency room. 

I somehow managed to pump despite the discomfort and made my way to the ER with Jenny, my sister-in-law. Nathan, who had been awake since 3:30 am and was due for a nap, stayed at home with his brother and the kids. I knew Nathan needed to sleep, but I also knew there was no way I could power through the pain. 

A short while later, the doctor stated he believed I had mastitis. By this point, the pain had traveled up to my armpits and my lymph nodes were swollen due to the infection. I couldn't lift my arms or put them straight down by my side. He added that I might also have thrush and to see my regular doctor on Monday.  In all honesty, the breast infection hurt more than natural childbirth. Childbirth was uncomfortable; this was/is agony. I tried focusing on my breathing and Jenny tried to calm me down and distract me from the pain.

The doctor, the same physician who insisted I take a painkiller when I returned to the ER after having the babies, again suggested that I take something stronger than ibuprofen. He then added, "This should be one of the happiest times of your life. You shouldn't be this miserable."

And that is when I lost it for the second time today. I sobbed and gave permission for him to give me a shot of Loritab. I hated the thought of the babies drinking formula, but I knew I needed the medicine if I wanted to continue to pump and maintain my milk supply. The doctor stated the babies could resume breastfeeding 12 hours after taking the medicine.

In addition to giving me a splitting headache, the Lortab has made me extremely nauseated and dizzy.  However,  I am grateful for it because I can at least tolerate the pain now. Nathan and I are so lucky Ty and Jenny decided to stay and help us with the babies while my in-laws were in Portland. I don't know what we would have done today without them. They fed babies, played with Eliza, changed diapers, and even made dinner for us. Nathan finally went to bed around 10 pm (poor guy) and will hopefully get some much needed rest.

I hope the new year brings more nights of rest and less infections. Again, I am reminded that breastfeeding isn't always that easy for some. Regardless of the complications, I refuse to give up...for now. But in all honesty, I am not sure how many days of agony I can tolerate. 

It's the end of the year and the end of my rant. The only good thing that has come from this situation was a string of ridiculous texts I sent to a couple of people. This included, but was not limited to, random quotes from Jurassic Park and The Sandlot.

Yes. Lortab Celia is awesome.

7 Months Today

Exactly seven months ago, Nathan and I met with my doctor to discuss the severe all day long sickness associated with my pregnancy. An ultrasound had been performed two weeks earlier, and it showed one tiny, growing baby and one heartbeat. We thought the appointment would be nothing special; obviously, we were wrong.

For some reason, Dr. Ludlow asked if we wanted another ultrasound before we left. Like any other pregnant lady would do, I immediately accepted the offer. I'll never forget the moment the doctor said, "No wonder you're so sick. You're having twins!" An indescribable feeling of pure elation overwhelmed me. Nathan and I laughed and cried tears of happiness. It was one of the greatest moments of my life, and the joy I felt then helped sustain me through several months of sickness.

I remember calling our friends and family with the exciting news and then sitting for a few hours in total disbelief. Nathan went to class shortly after we returned home and sent me a text, saying: "Remember how we're having twins!? Holy amazing awesomeness!" Apparently, he was feeling the same way.

Even now, seven months later and 5 weeks after Ezra and Elliott were born, I find myself staring at my perfect little boys in complete awe. Twins? Really? How did we get so lucky?

Friday, December 30, 2011

All About Eliza

In one short month, Eliza's life has completely changed. She went from being an only child and the constant center of attention to the oldest of three. Due to circumstances, Nathan and I often find ourselves each rocking and feeding a baby while Eliza is left to play on her own. Nathan has done a wonderful job of trying to give Eliza individual attention, but the changes to her daily routine have been difficult for her to accept.

All of the commotion has led to a number of sleepless nights for Nathan, Eliza, and me. The past three weeks, Eliza has refused to go bed on her own and has wanted one of us to sleep with her. Additionally, she learned how to jump out of her crib, and we were left with no other option but to transition her to a big girl bed.  After countless prayers and continual efforts to establish her routine once again, Eliza has started to go to sleep without a two hour power struggle.**

Without a doubt, watching Eliza have emotional breakdowns every night and several times throughout the day has been one of the most difficult adjustments that has come with twin parenthood. When we have family or friends around, who can hold a baby and allow one of us to play with Eliza, she is a completely different little girl; she laughs and runs around the house smiling just like old times. For this reason, I am immensely grateful we have had so much help. Not only has it helped Nathan and me, but Eliza as well.

Eliza is such a sweet big sister. She loves patting the babies' backs and giving them their bottles.
We are glad she doesn't openly resent them; she just resents not having all the attention, which is understandable. The past few days, though, she has showed definite signs that she is adjusting to her new life. She has gone to bed successfully three nights in a row and has even taken naps! She is happier, which relieves (and overjoys) Nathan and me.

So. Here is a quick recap of what Eliza is up to these days.

She may not like many foods, but she certainly loves cheese. Nathan allowed her to bite chunks of cheese straight off the block (he was afraid she would stop eating if he scolded her, and he thought it was cute).
As you can also see in the above picture, Eliza loves her princess night gown. We have to beg her to wear something else other than this precious gown because it has to be washed sometimes!

She continues to practice Portugese with Nathan. She loves to sing "I'm A Child of God" every night in Portuguese.
Don't let the video fool you; Eliza is cute, but certainly feisty. She has become fiercely independent and constantly says, "I can do it!" We have quickly learned our daughter is a force to be reckoned with.
Isn't her sassiness adorable?

**(And, as a sidenote, while I was writing this post, Eliza woke up in a screaming fury. Perhaps I spoke too soon?)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Vacation

This Christmas felt different than most other Christmases. While we had much to be grateful for, Nathan and I were too worn out to really enjoy the holiday. Additionally, I was a little sad because it was our year to go home to South Carolina, but obviously that couldn't happen with the twins being so small. I missed my family back home, but certainly enjoyed the company of the Robbins clan.

In order to make sure I felt the Christmas spirit, Nathan somehow found the energy to bake my favorite cookies.
He spent a good hour making the dough, rolling perfect peanut butter cookie balls, and unwrapping Hershey Kisses.
It was perhaps my favorite Christmas present because it was incredibly thoughtful and definitely no easy task with Eliza running around in the kitchen.

On Christmas Eve, I finally got around to building a gingerbread house with Eliza. She loved it! It was one of the first times Eliza and I have done something without a baby in my arms. Making the gingerbread house was all about her, and I could tell she enjoyed the one on one time.

Later on in the evening, Eliza and her two cousins, Hayden and Ellie, performed a Christmas program for the family. The children had several letters of the phrase "Merry Christmas" assigned to them, and each letter stood for a Christmas related theme/item.
The highlights of the program were singing "Jingle Bells" with the little kids, and Cheryl asking what the final letter, the "S" in Christmas, stood for.
She gave a clue, saying: "It was the special (blank) of Bethlehem." Rather than grabbing a picture of a star, she had accidentally picked up the picture of the snowman.
So, all of the children shouted: "The snowman of Bethlehem!" We couldn't stop laughing.

That night, when I told Eliza it would be Christmas the next day, she responded by saying, "No. It's too big!" I thought I had heard her wrong, so I told her again that she would have presents from Santa in the morning. Again, she shook her head and said, "It's too big!" I still don't really know what that meant.

Eliza received a number of little presents (princess dolls, princess shoes, pink nail polish, pink hairbows, pink pajamas, trains), but loved Connect 4 and her princess purse from her Aunt Dava the best.

The purse perfectly matched the nightgown Becca bought her, and she immediately loved it.

Nathan's favorite gift was a handmade leather bound book. My friend Katy is amazingly talented and created this lovely book for him.
It is BEAUTIFUL. Everyone couldn't stop looking at it in awe. It was a successful present!

My favorite gifts from Nathan were a tripod for our camera and a beautiful frame for family photos.
I also loved the surprise package from my mom.  In the package was my Bitty-Baby, a doll I have had since childhood. I wanted Eliza to have the doll, but it was nowhere to be found after my mother's move last year. I was so happy to know it had been found! My 12 year old self was slightly neurotic (just like I am now) and kept all of the clothes in the original boxes, wrapped in tissue paper. Everything is in perfect condition, so maybe I should wait a couple of years before handing over my prized possession to a toddler.

 And I mentioned it yesterday, but I am ecstatic to have some updated pictures of our family. Our friend Megan visited during the holidays and gave me the most amazing Christmas gift by taking a number of photographs. In all honesty, I have only worn makeup and something other than sweat pants once since the babies were born (thanks Becca and Ashley for getting me out of the house!). I haven't styled my hair and gotten "ready" in weeks, so it felt wonderful to look nice for pictures. That was probably a nice gift for Nathan :)

As you can tell, we were pretty spoiled this Christmas.  Eliza keeps asking for "Christmas." Hopefully, she can survive the year long wait.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Time Flies

I can hardly believe a month has passed since Ezra and Elliott were born.  The past four weeks have flown by, and the boys are rapidly growing. They now comfortably fit into newborn clothes and are close to outgrowing preemie diapers. Although they weigh more, they still cannot go longer than two to three hours without eating.

Because of this, Nathan and I continue to suffer from sleep deprivation. Cheryl has been an amazing help and even offered to take one baby for the night on Christmas Eve. Although it was a lovely Christmas gift for Nathan and me, Cheryl spent the entirety of Christmas Day exhausted; waking up every two hours wore her out for some reason! I jokingly told her she probably wouldn't be offering to take a baby for the night anytime soon. She definitely didn't object to that statement.

Thankfully, the holidays have brought additional help our way. Ty and Jenny will be here until the end of the week, so Nathan and I will not be completely alone when Cheryl and Rex go to Portland on Thursday. We are hopeful survival mode will end in the next few months and that the babies can learn to sleep longer than a few short hours at a time.

As for breastfeeding, it remains a labor of love. We've encountered some bumps in the road (mastitis, thrush), but I still feel like I can handle it. I keep telling myself I have made it 1/6 of the way to my goal! My initial goal is 6 months (because it feels attainable), but I hope to make it a full year.

In an effort to alleviate the stress of feedings, I attempted to solely nurse the babies and do away with pumping; it didn't go too well. Elliott and Ezra both developed blisters on their lips from nursing too long (even though they had a proper latch), and the feeding sessions lasted two hours or so. As soon as we finished, I would take a quick break and then resume nursing less than an hour later. Needless to say, this lasted for one day.  I'm continuing to pump and breastfeed, and we will try again to exclusively nurse in a few weeks. For now, it is just too overwhelming for me to try and feed them on my own all day. As long as they are getting breast milk, I feel like I am making a good contribution!

All things considered, life is pretty wonderful right now. Ezra and Elliott are great babies, and our biggest complaint is that they are slow eaters. Compared to our first baby, it feels like a walk in the park. I am so grateful neither baby has colic and that they aren't allergic to milk. I am also thankful for the positive attitudes Nathan and I have been able to attain (You can read Nathan's post below if you are looking for some laughs and twin humor).

We're tired in the Robbins home, but we are happy.
(Our lovely friend, Megan, was nice enough to take a few quick photos for us when she visited over Christmas. We totally ambushed her! Here's a photo before she's done any fancy editing. I just couldn't wait to post it! Thanks again, Megan!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Who Can Say it Better?

These days, there is just no way for me to describe my thoughts and feelings; new twins -- two kids deeper into fatherhood -- balancing marriage, being a dad, and retaining some sense of self. But there is someone who CAN describe them. His name is Ray Romano.

1:02 - Ray gets me. He knows me.
1:41 - Why I seem so heroic, going on adventures to get whatever Celia needs.
2:50 - This is my story too. The only songs I have written recently are about nap time and drinking milk.
3:40 - I told Cecil we can do this, but she doesn't agree. It would have saved hours on photo shooting so far.
4:00 - My greatest fear for the boys. Oh please let them be even slightly handsome.
4:45 - Eliza is the best thing to watch right now. She makes me happy no matter what (except at bed time).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

We hope your holiday is truly blessed! We are so grateful for the Christmas season and the addition of two new family members.

Much love to you all.

The Robbins
Photo by Tara Tallman

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Take It Easy

Last night, as I was rocking Elliott and feeding him for nearly three hours straight, I began to feel completely overwhelmed; feelings of frustration, exhaustion, and desperation (for him and me to sleep) came to the surface. Once it reached 6:30, I decided to text Cheryl for help. She immediately came to the rescue. Ezra then woke up, so another feeding began, and I eventually went to sleep around 8 am.  It was a long night/morning.

I'm realizing more and more that it is okay to ask for help. The last two weeks, Nathan and I have been extremely fortunate to have a number of helping hands around. Ty and Jenny came the first weekend the babies were born and were followed by Becca and Ashley later on in the week. The day Becca and Ashley left, my mother came for 8 days. And now, Cheryl is off work for the week and able to entertain Eliza and juggle babies. All of these people have been amazing to provide our family with some much needed assistance (and sanity for Nathan and me).

It's at night, though, when we have the problem. I know I am not sleeping enough, but I struggle with finding a good solution to the problem. For some reason, I feel like it is my responsibility to tend to the babies during the night. I feel guilty asking for help because I know it means others will lose sleep.  I remember the ultrasound technician jokingly telling me, "Don't be a martyr!" when I told her I intended to breastfeed. While I definitely don't consider myself a martyr, I finally realize she was saying it would certainly be no easy task to nurse twins; she was probably also saying there was no need to do it alone.

Fortunately, pumping has allowed Nathan to help during the nights. He has taken over the "night shift" (10 pm - 3am/4 am) for me to rest, but I still have to wake up three times to pump during my "break." I hated the thought of him feeding the babies alone, so I have helped with the midnight feedings (even though Nathan has assured me he can do it alone). Additionally, the boys have had difficulty going back to sleep after the 3 am feeding, so I am awake with them for a few hours until I feel comfortable asking Cheryl for help around 6 or 7. All of this has culminated in a very tired Celia.

My mother-in-law is wonderful and has repeatedly asked me to let her help during the night. After sleeping for only a couple of hours last night, I plan on taking her up on that offer! I'm trying to let go of my unhealthy sense of responsibility; there is no need for it when people want to help.  I also realize that if I have to supplement with formula, it isn't the end of the world. So far, that hasn't happened yet, but I know I'm not a failure if I don't wake up to pump 5 times throughout the night.

I know all of this may sound negative, but overall, I feel very positive.  Last night, Nathan and I heard a message from our home teacher regarding gratitude (In our church, each family has home teachers assigned to them. Two men visit each month and check on the members of the family and also provide an uplifting message). Essentially, the message was for us to give gratitude for the things in our life that we need more of. For instance, Nathan applied this to our situation by saying, "I'm going to be grateful for the few hours of sleep I actually get. I know I could use more of it!" Instead of focusing on how little of something we have, we should focus on what we do have and be appreciative for it.

So, this Christmas season, I am thankful for a number of things. I am thankful for the sporadic naps I receive; I am thankful for our family who so graciously helps (I have no idea how twin moms manage without family around 24/7), and I am grateful for the time I have with these small babies. I know they will not be this little for long, so I plan on savoring every moment with them rather than wishing it away. It's nice to live in the now, rather than imagining the future where Ezra and Elliott sleep five hours at a time; that would be wishing away their baby-ness, and I don't want to do that.

Having twins is the best. Playing with Eliza is the most wonderful thing. Loving Nathan is a blessing. I've got this!

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm a Little Busy

The babies are growing at a furious pace, which means I am doing everything possible to keep up with them when it comes to nursing/pumping. In three days, the babies went from eating 18 ounces daily to 35 ounces a piece in a 24 hour period. They nearly doubled their milk intake, which means I am producing more than 2 liters of milk a day! I will never look at a 2 liter bottle of soda the same way.

On Saturday, when the feeding frenzy began, I was feeling slightly defeated. I wasn't sure I could continue nursing and pumping hourly like I had been. There was no time to slow down and rest, even though my mother and Cheryl were both around to help.  I was exhausted and knew my body needed a break.  Later on that evening, I began reading "Mothering Multiples," a book specifically on breastfeeding twins/triplets (thanks Becky!). Although I had skimmed through the book prior to delivery, I reread the chapter on making a good start to breastfeeding with renewed interest. I then stumbled upon "Guidelines for Bottle Feeding the Breastfed Baby."

LIGHTBULB. AKA the answer to prayer.

Because we have been vigilantly recording all milk intake for Ezra and Elliott, the majority of the feedings are via bottle.
Here's a sneak peak of our daily schedule. Fun, fun!
The Playtex Drop-ins were our bottle of choice, but I was worried the boys were working too hard for their food (especially after the pediatrician told me about premature babies using too much energy to suck). We temporarily switched back to the Medela bottles and nipples, which were easier for Ezra and Elliott to get milk out of.  And inadvertently, we created a problem.

The "Mothering Multiples" book cautioned that bottle feedings should not be rushed. If the average newborn spends 10 to 30 minutes nursing, then they should also spent 10 to 30 minutes emptying a bottle. Essentially, the flow rate of the bottles was too high for Ezra and Elliott and the boys were accidentally overindulging in milk.

We immediately switched back to Playtex bottles and both boys are eating more normal amounts of milk (24 ounces or so). This, coupled with nursing, has greatly reduced my stress when it comes to making sure Ezra and Elliott are properly fed. Even so, the pumping and nursing has taken over my days and my nights are a blur of feedings and 30 minute cat naps.
Elliott and Ezra in a nursing induced coma.
Every time I wake up and see both babies (no matter what time it is), I feel an immense sense of gratitude that I am Ezra and Elliott's mother. I think about all of the sacrifices our family made to have these children, and I know we have been blessed continually these past few months. I also consider it a true miracle that I am not overwhelmed with emotions or the baby blues. Somehow, I have managed to keep things together and channel all of my energy into mothering.

That being said, I am ready for the feedings to slow down soon! Ezra and Elliott are three weeks old today. Perhaps I will sleep more than an hour at a time in a month or so? Until then, I'll just keep focusing on how precious these tiny faces are.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wherein I Disregard the Advice of My Pediatrician

Before we left the hospital with Ezra and Elliott, our pediatrician recommended that half of their feedings consist of a high calorie formula. She also instructed us to add Enfamil to any breast milk for an additional caloric boost. Nathan and I listened to her concerns about breast milk "not being enough" for premature babies and decided we would use the high calorie formula if there was not a sufficient supply of breast milk.

The first night at home, the babies both refused the formula. I finally was producing enough for both of them, so after a full day of solely breast milk, they did not care for the taste of Similac. Because of this, Nathan and I opted to feed them only breast milk (without the Enfamil) until their first appointment. If they had not gained a sufficient amount of weight in four days, we would begin supplementing. At last week's appointment, they had eached gained weight and the doctor we saw was pleased with their progress (the town's only pediatrician was away on vacation, so we saw a general practice doctor). The doctor encouraged us to continue breastfeeding and did not mention formula whatsoever.

Yesterday, we had a two week appointment with Ezra and Elliott's actual doctor. The babies were weighed, with Ezra coming in at 5 pounds 9 ounces and Elliott at 6 pounds 6 ounces; that means each baby gained 1 pound 1 ounce from their birth weight! The pediatrician was impressed and said most premature babies hopefully maintain their birth weight by two weeks; a 20- 25% weight gain was amazing in her opinion.

I let her know we tracked all of the babies' feedings and totaled the number of mililiters consumed daily. Taking the previous days feeding totals, the doctor quickly did some math to make sure Ezra and Elliott were getting enough milk. She looked up from her calculator and gasped. Her mouth was left hanging open as she stared at us and then the babies in disbelief; apparently, they are eating a ton.

For premature babies, the pediatrician recommends that for each kiligram (2.2 pounds) the baby weighs, they should eat 160 mililiters a day. Per kiligram, Elliott is eating 190 mililiters a day and Ezra is eating a staggering 220 mililiters. Obviously, they are well fed.

I could tell the pediatrician was impressed, so imagine my surprise when she again encouraged us to use the formula and add Enfamil to my breast milk. She asked why I had not been using the formula, and I had no real answer other than, "I didn't feel like I should" and "The lactation specialist and nurses told me I didn't have to." She gave me a disappointed look, and I felt like I had done something wrong when in reality, I have been doing an awesome job keeping these babies fed (yes, I will brag about myself here because it has been hard work!).

She said Ezra and Elliott may be drinking too much because the breast milk isn't dense enough to satisfy them. She also said that they could be using too much of their energy to process all of the milk they are receiving. None of it really made sense to Nathan and me. We came home and relayed the information to our mothers and neither one of them understood the logic.

I think I'll continue to disregard the formula advice. If I need to use it, I will and I won't feel guilty about it. However, I'm not going to deny my babies perfectly good breast milk.

And lastly, the doctor recommended that the babies not sleep together. Hmmm... I don't see that happening anytime soon.
Has anyone ever heard of separating twins while sleeping? It just seems so unnatural.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

Nathan turned 30 yesterday. 30!

For weeks, I had been planning a perfect day for him. I wanted to begin the day with breakfast in bed and then excuse him of parenting duties for the rest of the day. Nathan is always busy with Eliza, so I thought a few hours of alone time to escape and write music would be perfection. Additionally, I worked for days on a thoughtful, unique gift for him. He appreciates personal presents, so I tried particularly hard to do something I knew he would love. With the birth of the twins, Nathan's birthday project was put to the side for a little while. I eventually managed to completed the gift with a few days to spare, and the finished product was supposed to arrive on December 13th--his birthday.

I had plans.

Unfortunately, with a two year old and the crazy feeding schedules of two newborns, things do not always go as planned.

On Sunday night, I realized I had mastitis. I spent the majority of Monday laying in bed and trying to rest after a visit to the doctor's office. Thankfully, my mother had arrived the night before, and Nathan and I had some much needed help. Nathan decided to stay up with the twins so I could sleep longer between pumping and began his birthday feeding two babies into the wee hours of the morning.

Feeding babies was something he expected. Eliza waking up FIVE times during the night was something he did not anticipate. My mom tried to help with Eliza, but our little girl wanted her daddy. So, Nathan was awake all night with all three of our children. He managed to sleep three hours before leaving for preschool with Eliza.

Because Eliza had not slept at all during the night, she was in a horribly cranky mood throughout the day. She yelled, screamed, and had a number of tantrums. We tried to enforce naptime, which led to a scream session that lasted over an hour. Nathan and I have never seen Eliza in such a feisty mood! Unfortunately, nothing we did made the situation better; time-outs, attemps at naps, multiple diversions all failed.

By six o'clock, I was exhausted just watching Nathan run around the house with our daughter.  Eliza and him were engaged in an intense power struggle until nearly 10 PM. We somehow managed to squeeze a little brithday party in around 7:30, but this was only a small break during Nathan's day.

The night ended with me in tears. I wanted Nathan to actually enjoy his 30th birthday. Instead, not only did he not get breakfast in bed (there was no milk to make the blueberry muffins he loves), he also did not get a single moment to himself. Furthermore, my gift did not arrive due to a last minute delay in shipping. Fortunately, I had a couple of smaller things to wrap, but my thoughtful gift was supposed to make his day!

Nathan is the most wonderful husband and father, and I desperately wanted him to have an amazing birthday. As I began to apologize to him for his birthday failure, he interrupted and said, "Don't worry about it! I feel great! Just like a father of three should feel." He then smiled, and I could tell he meant it.

I felt a little better.

Most of all, I felt grateful to be married to someone so selfless. He spends his days working and then taking care of Eliza so I can rest and pump/nurse/feed babies throughout the day and night. He continues to be an example to me, and I am so glad he has the ability to be positive when I don't.

So, Happy (late) Birthday, Nathan! I'm glad you enjoyed the carrot cake...
...and the Scott Pilgrim DVD.
Your real gift is coming soon! Promise.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Two Weeks Today

It's hard to believe it has been only two weeks since Ezra and Elliott arrived. This video was taken minutes after their birth and before I actually met them.
They were so content to have space!

14 days have now passed by in a blur of sleepless nights and feedings. Despite the crazy schedule, we have   remarkably happy. Ezra and Elliott are calm, peaceful babies and their presence has brought a definite warmth to our home.

Ezra loves to be held and stare at his brother. He quietly watches Elliott as they lay together in their crib or Moses basket, and it is adorable. He hates being changed or unwrapped from his blanket (probably because he is so little and has absolutely no body fat to keep him warm). He is still so tiny, but I am confident he will catch up to his brother soon. He has been eating much more frequently the last few days, and I am more than willing to accommodate his growing appetite.
Unlike Ezra, Elliott eats on a pretty consistent schedule. Every two and a half hours, he drinks an enormous amount of milk (65 milliliters or so) and is fast asleep until he has to eat again. He loves sneaking his hands out of the blankets once he has been wrapped and has recently started to reach out to Ezra while sleeping; it's pretty cute. He isn't awake very often, but has started opening his eyes for at least a minute or two the last couple of days.
They are wonderful boys. We are so blessed to have two healthy, happy babies.

Bottle Mania

Fact: Feeding twins requires a ridiculous amount of bottles.
After pumping milk throughout the night, the number of dirty bottles steadily accumulates. These bottles, coupled with the multiple feedings throughout the day, lead to constant bottle washing. Because I am slightly obsessive about cleanliness (especially in regards to my little boys), I have a particular system for cleaning. I wash everything in hot soapy water, soak all the parts in scalding hot water, and then place the various bottles, nipples,  and pacifiers in boiling water for a quick dip.
Perhaps this is excessive, but it makes me feel good that everything is good and clean (and safe).
I'll be happy when we no longer have to measure all of the babies' feedings, and they can solely nurse. I know it will save us a ton of time and energy!

**And to answer a question, we have determined that Playtex Nursers with drop-ins are the best bottle for our babies. Becca, Ashley, and I conducted a mini experiment with Playtex bottles, Breastflow bottles, Medela preemie nipples, and Evenflo glass bottles.
The Playtex and Breastflow bottles were our favorites, but the babies seemed to latch better using the Playtex nursers. I also love how easy it is to clean these kinds of bottles and how the drop-ins prevent the babies from sucking in air. Picking out a bottle for premature babies is definitely a science.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Didn't See That Coming!

Apparently, my husband, mother-in-law, and best friends are incredibly good at keeping a secret.

Yesterday afternoon, I stumbled into the kitchen to get a batch of clean bottles. Before I could make it to the sink, I saw two people walk into the living room out of the corner of my eye. I turned and saw two of my dearest friends, Ashley and Becca, standing in my living room.

I had no thoughts other than "what!??!?" and was stunned into silence as I stared at them in disbelief and awe.

I then had a minor panic attack (of excitement) as they came over to hug me. It had been a long night and morning, and seeing them brought immediate feelings of comfort and peace. I felt incredibly loved knowing these two girls had driven 12 hours to see a friend and offer their assistance. All feelings of exhaustion were replaced with utter giddiness. My friends, who I love like family, were here to help.

The last 24 hours, I have felt like a normal woman. Sure, I am pumping 14-15 times a day, but Nathan and I have help with tending to the twins and entertaining Eliza. Ashley and Becca have fed, burped, and changed babies.

They have sung songs with Eliza and watched her as she tried on various outfits.
Ashley gave me a manicure and pedicure, and Becca painted Eliza's nails hot pink.
They brought amazingly thoughtful gifts, like a princess nightgown for Eliza and Christmas sleepers for Ezra and Elliott. 

Ashley also made two adorable blankets for the boys.

And even though we've only sat around together with babies and watched hours of television, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. I feel like a sane, functioning person and not just a sleep deprived, milk-producing machine. The boys are amazingly well-behaved, but I was definitely missing human interaction!

Having good friends is a blessing. I am so lucky to know so many wonderful people. 

As a side note, thank you all for the the encouraging comments and love. All of the kind words have meant so much the last few months and especially the past couple of weeks.

And lastly, thank you Kyle and Ruby for encouraging Becca to come!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sleep Deprivation

You know you're tired when you fall asleep standing up while washing a bottle.

That's what happened to me around 4 or 5 this morning.

I think the lack of sleep is finally catching up with Nathan and me. Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day feeling slightly disoriented and found myself incapable of moving when the babies woke up wanting to eat. In the middle of the night, Nathan woke up because his legs were shaking uncontrollably due to crazy dreams combined with absolutely no deep sleep.

It's official: We're beat.

Nathan and I are lucky to live with his parents and have some much needed help during the afternoons and evenings once they arrive home from work. During the nights, though, we have been doing all of the work alone. We have tried getting up in shifts, but both of us are usually needed as Ezra and Elliott always manage to wake up within minutes of each other. The last two nights have been rough, as the babies have wanted to eat every hour or so. I'm excited about their growth spurts, though!

No sleep at night leads to very tired parents. Even though the babies sleep constantly, we have no opportunity to nap with a two year old running around. Additionally, Nathan has his at-home job. Needless to say, our house is crazy! When I am nursing a baby, I try to keep Eliza occupied anyway possible. This means my new iPhone is basically hers (if I miss calls/texts, that's why) and that Super Why! has taken over our Netflix.
We've had some friends and church members offer their assistance during the day, but I am being extremely germaphobic and refusing any outside help.  The pediatrician recommended "cocooning" ourselves for at least a few weeks until the boys are a little bigger, and I am fully enforcing this policy. I don't want to take any chances with out little ones.

Speaking of size, the babies are definitely growing. At the pediatrician's office yesterday, Ezra weighed in at 4 pounds 14 ounces, and Elliott weighed a whopping 5 pounds 11 ounces. That means Ezra has gained 13 ounces since coming home, and Elliott has gained 9 ounces. The doctor was impressed with their weight gain, and I felt some much needed encouragement to continue nursing and pumping.

My mom is coming on Sunday, and my only plans are to sleep! In the meantime, we find the occasional moments to nap.
 Thank goodness these boys sleep (unlike their sister)!