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When they were new

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It’s not a secret that my time in the hospital after the twins were born was not a happy one. They were separated; Mol with me and Gus in special care. Nobody would talk to me, and when they did, all of the information conflicted. I had horrible guilt for spending so much time with Molly, using her to build up my milk supply, while Gus was physically unable to eat. The entire time I was in the hospital, I held them together exactly twice–once, right after birth and once when a nurse who acted like she was doing me a favor let me wheel Mol in to special care to be with Gus and me. I’m still not over it.  I still don’t think I’m ready to talk or even write about how bad of an experience it was for me regardless of the fact that my babies are 100% fine, happy and healthy 7-month-olds today. Hell, I’m still not over my experience with Caitlyn, and that was more than 8 years ago. So.

Anyway, with that all being said, when the link to the hospital photos was emailed to me, I couldn’t bring myself to actually look at any of them. I didn’t want to remember the hospital stay at all.  Time has passed though, and as they get closer to a year old, and I get closer to maybe putting baby books together for them, I decided to figure out how to log in and see my babies as they were then.

It still hurts a little bit to look, if I’m being honest. But I did enjoy seeing their wrinkly 6lb baby faces and remembering what strangers they were then. I didn’t know them, but when I look at those wee faces, I can see glimpses of them now; how they were already SO themselves, even if I didn’t know it.

So, anyway, after 7.5 months, here are the babies’ first photos:

Molly Olivia

March 1, 2013

5:07PM

6lbs 2oz

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Angus Westley

March 1, 2013

5:11PM

6lbs 13 oz

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Autumn Through the Years

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In the Fall of 2005,Ed, a very small Eddie, Baby Cait and I took an impromptu trip to Letchworth State Park. Ed and I had been going for years, usually around my birthday, and even though it was freezing, we just needed to get out of the house that day. Ed happened to take Eddie’s photo on some stairs. The next year we happened upon the same stairs (not an easy feat…this park is GIGANTIC–I think it spans like 30 miles??), and took a photo of Eddie and Caitlyn together. And just like that, a tradition was born. We’ve taken the kids’ photos every year in October since 2005. It has been 40 degrees, and it has been 80 degrees. In 2008, Eddie and Caitlyn dropped poor baby Hannah on her head (stellar parenting having a 3 and 4 year old hold a 3-month-old on a set of stone stairs). Hannah refused to cooperate in 2009—I think to get back at us. I love how each year, things change but they also stay the same. I was really looking forward to this year’s photo. I can’t believe how big Eddie looks.  His legs! My god!

Some of you have seen these all before (minus 2013, of course). I know; but I can’t help myself. Here are the photos:

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Bonus 2013 Photo

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Thoughts on Twin Parenting- Month 7

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They are as ornery as they look

They are as ornery as they look

It would seem that my tiny infants have gone and turned 7 months old, and I would really like to protest, except that I can’t because they are just so fricking delightful. I tell people all the time; babies are my thing.  I love babies.  And while it certainly can be hard with 2, especially when it comes to bedtime, I really really enjoy almost every moment with them.  And it’s not just me, either.  Ed, the big kids, my mom, EVERYONE just loves these babies.  They are fantastic.

Thankfully, whatever sleep regression we were in for the better part of 6 weeks resolved itself recently, Just as I was starting to really feel like it would never get better and that we would never sleep again, BAM. Sleeping.  And thank God.  I had many visions of Hannah, who stopped sleeping at around 4 months old and never started again.  I almost fear writing it, but they are back to their regular sleeping patterns.  Gus has even taken to going to sleep on his own, instead of being rocked while fighting me for 15-30 minutes.  They are growing up!

Eating is going better as well.  We are doing some purees and they are so so about them.  Molly likes to gnaw on things.  Rice rusks, pizza crust, things like that.  Gus enjoys throwing his food on the floor for the dog.  So.  It’s fun. My other kids were all eating well and self feeding by now, so this is different.  I have to remind myself of their adjusted age, AND that Gus especially has always been slow to feed. It’s fine.  They’re fine.

Month 7 Happenings:

  • Molly can sit up really well; Gus does ok (big head and all)
  • Babies have eaten bananas, applesauce, carrots, sweet potatoes, and green beans
  • Molly holds her own bottle.
  • Gus talks from morning til night. Mostly dadadadada noises, but a lot of expressive sounds and grunting.
  • Both are obsessed with the cat and dog
  • Molly finally started making some consonant sounds, and her favorite is mamamama.  Yeah it is!
  • They LOVE their jumparoos.
  • I can’t be sure, but I think Gussy tries to give me kisses.
  • Molly will grab your nose if you look at her and say “honk honk!”
  • Went apple picking for the first time
  • Had official 6 month photos taken, just under the wire
  • Both seem to understand some specific words.  Bottle, night-night, kids
  • Both are such Grabby McGrabbersons.  Nothing is safe.  There is no more lap eating around here.
  • Gus loves music and imitates singing
  • Molly growls a lot.  It’s hysterical.

Month 7 Photo Dump (There are a lot.  Sorry, not sorry.):

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Eleven

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saraedwedding1

Totally whispering about how bad our photographer’s breath was

This happened 11 years ago tomorrow, on a Saturday that started off dreary but turned in to a beautiful pre-fall day.   Before doing his reading in church, my brother quoted A Tale of Two Cities and while it wasn’t planned or actually meant to be insightful, but more to make me spit my teeth out that he was deviating from The Wedding Script, it kind of was.  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”. Our priest actually ended up working it in to his homily. As a married couple, we should prepare to experience both the best and worst times together. Forever. We had our pictures taken that day in a local park, that was still kind of new.  Today, that park is hands down the kids’ favorite to go to play. After pictures, and some ill advised limo bus drinking (Ed), we threw a kick ass party. By the end of the night, my face hurt from smiling, I’d barely had time to eat or drink, but I danced my ass off.  It was truly the best night of my life.

Dancing like Elaine

Dancing like Elaine

And now we are here, 11 years, 5 kids and so many other things later.  We’ve had the absolute best and also the absolute worst times.  The constant though, is that we’ve had them together. Ed has been my partner in everything for nearly 20 years, and I could not be any happier.

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Thoughts on Twin Parenting–Month 6 (SIX!)

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20130901_185544The babies celebrated their half birthday this past weekend, and by celebrate, I mean that we did nothing, but still.  They are six months old and that is half a year, and please time, just slow down, ok? Ok.

We’re getting in to my favorite time of baby times here.  Between 6 and 18 months…man I just love it.  They learn so much every single day.  It really blows my mind. You can just see them taking everything in and processing and really starting to understand the world around them.  I think that’s just aces.

Not much happened this month in the realm of milestones.  Molly is now rolling both ways when she wants to, but really doesn’t want to be bothered.  Gus vocalizes a whole lot, mostly bababa, dadadada and a bunch of ah-dee, which has Eddie convinced that he is speaking his name.  Mol is still more of a squealer and a bubble blower and doesn’t do a whole lot of actual babbling.  We’ve done nothing else with solids, because well, I’m lazy and I don’t feel like spoon feeding 2 babies.  Our 6 month checkup is tomorrow though, so that may change.

Month 6 Happenings:

  • Molly began to roll both ways
  • Gus is a babbler
  • Both babies are moving in to size 6-9 month clothes–Molly more so
  • We were very busy, taking in many sights while enjoying the end of summer.  We went to the county fair, some parks, Cedar Point, and to play mini golf.
  • The babies went swimming for the first time.
  • Gus has decided that both naps, and sleeping all night, is stuff for babies. He will however accept sleeping snuggled up with mom and dad in bed.
  • Molly has decided that life is not worth living unless she can stand up, and wants to be upright pretty much any time she is awake.  It’s as fun for us as it sounds.

Month 6 Photo Dump (the last 6 photos are from my failed attempt at getting them together for their 6 month photo):

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One Year Ago

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I took the whole day off of work so Ed and I could have a day date before my sonogram.  I’d been feeling so crappy but my Unisom/B6 combo was starting to help a little bit, so I was excited to have some time with Ed.  We dropped the kids at camp had breakfast at our favorite coffee shop and went to the mall to see a movie.  Ed grumbled because I’d insisted on taking the first appointment that the imaging place had available, so we wouldn’t have time to get lunch after the movie.  It was just a dating sonogram after all, nothing different than before.

I’d joked with Ed in the days leading up to the appointment that surely I was having twins because my symptoms were so extreme.  In the back of my mind, I knew something was different–maybe it was that I was older, or heavier or some unknown factor but I just KNEW. We joked about it here in fact, and on Twitter.  Twins!  Hahahahahaa!

Ha.

As long as I live I will never forget lying on the table, and watching the tech start her scan.  She’d left Ed in the waiting room to get some initial measurements before bringing him back for the fun. I was no stranger to any of this, of course.  She felt my belly and determined that my uterus felt big enough that she should be able to see the baby without an internal sonogram. She angled me away from the table so that I had to strain my head to see.  And hooo boy, I saw.  Two distinct areas where I knew from experience there should only be one.  My heart started racing. She did some things quickly–I would assume that she checked for 2 heartbeats, and abruptly turned the monitor off, announcing that she was going to go and get my husband and leaving me alone in the dimly lit room.

The very second that she came back and shut the door behind Ed, she leaned against it casually and said “soooo…you guys are having twins!”. Ed was sure that I had put her up to it; that it was a joke. I…well, I burst in to tears.  I may have exclaimed “shit!” over and over again. I am surprised that I didn’t have a heart attack.  She let me pee, finished the ultrasound and handed us a stack of pictures labeled “A” and “B” on the way out.

Shock was an understatement in describing how I felt.  We left the appointment and went shopping.  A beaming Ed told everyone there that we were having twins.  We went to Mighty Taco.  A beaming Ed told everyone there that we were having twins. I came home and posted this.  We picked the kids up from camp. A beaming Ed told everyone there that we were having twins. We went to his Rotary picnic.  Again, a beaming Ed told everyone there that we were having twins. Through all of this I was numb.  I was a deer in headlights.  I hissed at Ed to just Shut! Up! more than once. I excused myself from the party several times to tweet frantically.  I am reasonably sure that I did not blink for at least 24 hours. I wanted to take to my bed and just process it all.

It wasn’t long before I came to terms with it, obviously. I mean, it’s still shocking on some level.  I still have days, 5.5 months after their birth, where I can’t believe that there are 2 of them.  I will make mention of “the twins” and immediately think “Holy SHIT we have twins!”.

BUT! For all the fear of the unknown and wondering exactly how we were going to do this whole two infants thing, I don’t think I would change any of it.  They are supposed to be here.  It’s kind of like they’ve always been here.

One year ago we found out that we were having twins. Today, those twins are five months old and are an absolute delight to everyone they meet. One year from now they will be 17 months old and walking, talking tiny people.

One year since our lives changed forever and I would never ever go back.  We thought we were one kid short of our complete family, and it turns out that we were actually missing two.

We’re all here now.

 

 

Thoughts on Twin Parenting–Month 5

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20130730_181608_5_bestshotFive, you guys.  And these babies.  My goodness they are something.  You would think that for how in awe of them I am that I had never done this before, and I guess I never have times 2, but you get the picture.  I’ve had babies.  I know what they do.  I know what yo expect.  AND YET.

They really are the very best babies around.  So interactive.  So loving.  So…just…them. This isn’t to say that things are never hard, because oh, things are hard here on the reg.  Take for example The Great Nap Boycott, that lasted pretty much all month.  Or the horrible time that is the 2 hours between getting home from daycare and bedtime.  OR THE 5 HOUR DRIVE HOME FROM VACATION THAT TOOK US 9 HOURS BECAUSE HOLEEEE SHIT UNHAPPY BABIES. The good certainly outweighs the bad though.

For the first time since they were born, Gus has achieved a milestone before his sister.  He is rolling in both directions.  He started going from his back to his belly a couple of weeks ago, and then more recently figured out how to go the other way.  He can spin himself and scootch to where he wants to go too, which is kind of frightening.  Molly is still content to just lie on the floor and put her feet on anyone and anything who will let her.  She loves to touch with her toes.  The babies are both super grabby now, and love to hold on to toys.  Gus is particularly fond of holding and chewing a burp cloth while Molly likes this soft teething toy I got on clearance at Target.  Both babies have pretty much given up the binky.

Speaking of teething, we’ve seen some teething behavior from them both over the last week or so.  Red gums, mouth punching, maybe a little bit more irritability. Molly definitely has some bumps under her gums.  The symptoms come and go though, so I’m not holding my breath for there to be teeth anytime soon.  We’ve had a wide timeline with the other kids getting teeth (Hannah 5ish months, Eddie 7months, Caitlyn 11 months) so we’ll just wait and see.

The babies got to come with the other kids and me to Hannah’s doctor’s appointment at the end of July and the ped suggested introducing some solids since they are such meaty babies.  I was planning on waiting because (1) They were premies so were really only 4mos adjusted and (2) I really just didn’t want to deal with spoon feeding 2 babies.  Ed was really excited about it though, so we started some oatmeal and they like it ok.  I’ve given it to them before bed and it’s sort of a crapshoot as to whether they will be happy enough to eat it.  They’ve really only had it a handful of times and I’m not eager at this point to ramp it up or be any more consistent with it.  I guess we will see what the next months brings, especially when the big kids go back to school and our schedule settles a bit.

Month 5 Happenings:

  • 1st Fourth of July! Gus wore earmuffs and did great!
  • We stopped breastfeeding for good
  • Gussy started rolling both ways
  • We took our first vacation as a family of 7, which even including having the babies share a bed for a couple of nights was pretty good.  Until the ride home.
  • We enjoyed (HA) the 4 month sleep regression, otherwise known as BABIES! WHY YOU NO NAP ANYMORE?
  • Babies started making some consonant sounds (Molly says mmmm and ma Gus says babababa, dadadada and niii) It seems like they will be chatty early like their brother and sisters before them
  • Ridiculous shrieks of joy
  • Full on belly giggles
  • Molly blowing bubbles All. The Time.
  • Babies seem to seek each other out and enjoy yapping and grinning at each other
  • Gussy is a roller!
  • Tried oatmeal (and whipped cream…thanks Daddy)
  • Cannot sit on our laps at dinner anymore, as they steal all of our food

Month 5 Photo Dump:

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Truth

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I don’t know why I feel like I owe it to The Internet to make an announcement about the status of my breasts and whether or not my babies continue to use them, but here we are.  It’s really more so that I can remember it when I am beating myself up about it later. Here is the truth.

I breastfed for the last time (ever) over the 4th of July weekend.  The situation had become so incredibly frustrating for all 3 of us that when coupled with my lack of output when pumping, it was unreasonable to continue.

We started supplementing with formula somewhere in the second month when my supply was decreasing and even with around the clock nursing and pumping for weeks it was obvious that the babies were starving.  This was 100% in line with every one of my other postpartum periods.  And speaking of periods, I got mine (and it was bad) and we saw my supply dip further.  At this point I tried fenugreek and steel cut oats and mother’s milk tea. None made a huge difference (except for the tea giving me hives) but did help to keep my supply stable…until I got mastitis.  My left breast, which had previously been my strong over-producer was clogged to the point of next to nothing coming out for a good week.  Although I nursed both babies on both sides during that whole ordeal, we never recovered.

From there we moved to a schedule where I was able to nurse the babies in the morning, once midday and before bed.  Pumping in between yielded maybe an ounce or 2 of milk in total–and that was on a good day.  Typically, I got half an ounce (ish) from one side and an ounce from the other.  It was a lot of time and effort spent for such little output.  This isn’t to say that I don’t think my babies are worth that time or effort but when you have twins, plus 3 other kids whose daily lives require managing, the extra time for pumping just didn’t exist.

My supply dropped further after going back to work–this is what happened every other time for me as well, so I expected it–and I had to begin supplementing the babies after each nursing session. They’d gotten quite grabby and squirmy as well, so a feeding session of nursing one, then the other and topping off with bottles could take up to 90 minutes. When they began fussing and screaming at the breast (often leaving me sobbing too), obviously put out by having to do so much work for so little reward, I made the decision to end it once and for all.

I owed it to my babies to try. I am proud for making it over 4 months. I’m glad I have pictures of them nursing.  I’m glad that I actually do have a small freezer stash from the early days when things went so well. Thanks to the stigma associated with formula feeding, I often feel guilty anyway. Knowing that these are my last babies, I do wish that it would have worked out to be doable longer, that I could have “cherished the moments”, but it wasn’t meant to be.  And I am (mostly) ok.

Thoughts on Twin Parenting–Month 4

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photoshake_1372735939558The twins turned 4 months old on Monday. (Insert sappy comment about time flying and where are mah baybeees HERE.) 4 months old and they are such little people already.

Molly remains our firecracker.  She is quick to smile and laugh, but is just as quick to get pissed right off. She settles easily as long as she gets just what she wants and no in-betweens.

Gus is still our serious and introspective boy. He loves to just take everything in. It takes a lot to get him to giggle but once you get him going, he doesn’t stop. And he is always just so so so sweet. And is a super drooler.

We have begun to struggle a little bit with Gussy’s sensitivity though. Loud noises, sudden movements and things that are unusual (Like mommy in sunglasses) set him off. He screams and is inconsolable.  I think it is maybe too soon to say whether he actually has a sensory issue as opposed to just being a fraidy-babybut it is a little bit concerning.  At times, the only thing that helps is to take him in to a dark quiet room and just rock him until he settles.  I feel bad for my poor bug; it must be hard to process 6 other noisy people and a dog on a daily basis.

Molly has become so much less screamy since getting her reflux meds under control. Don’t get me wrong–she is still a fussbudget, but is so much better than she was.  I’m not having any more babies, but if I were, my advice would be to skip the Zantac and go right to Prevacid. That stuff works wonders.

This month marked my return to work, so the twins started daycare 2 days a week and are spending 2 days with Grammy. This is a pretty good system right now. I like that I can go upstairs for quick snuggles 3 of the 5 weekdays and spend my lunch break with them as well.  It’s good for my mom to spend time with them too, I think.

Their 4-month checkup went quite well (aside from a good day and a half of being crabs after their shots). Molly weighed in at 13lbs13oz and was 24.25 inches and Angus was 13lbs15oz and 24.5 inches.  This puts them in the 50th percentile (ish) for their actual age, and more like the 75th for adjusted age. They are very twinny! Molly looks bigger than Gus these days though; I think he carries most of his weight in his head.

Month 4 Happenings:

  • Outgrew ALL 0-3 month outfits
  • Started to enjoy some floor time (as long as they are on their backs)
  • Started giggling in earnest
  • Started going to daycare
  • Upgraded to larger swaddles, but routinely break their arms out
  • Discovered their hands and became Grabby Grabbersons
  • Rode on a float in a parade
  • Were big enough to ride in the big kid stroller
  • Went to the zoo
  • Stopped sleeping in the same crib 😦

Month 4 Picture Dump:

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Lone Wolf

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Friday started off well enough.  The big kids went to camp. and the babies stayed with me because they had their 4month check-up in the afternoon. Ed was to take over with them after the doctor so I could work. And then it started to rain. And it rained and then rained some more. We were lucky here, the creeks rose and it was most definitely wet, but we had no flooding.  The towns north of us weren’t as lucky.

I suppose it was luck that my internet wouldn’t connect when we got home from the doctor because Ed had to go out to prep for the flood work that he was surely going to get because of the rain, and Shot Babies were not going to be very good co-workers.  Ed picked the big kids up and was gone by 6. The babies lost their minds by about 7 and were inconsolable for a good hour (until I remembered to give them some Tylenol…because I am a rookie) until I put them to bed. The big kids were hell beasts.  I was not in a good place.

Saturday morning came, Ed was back out working and I was dreading it.  I was beyond dreading it. The kids had chores and I lazed around with the babies and everything was good until just after lunch.  I decided that if we stayed in the house for one more minute, I was going to lose my damn mind and made a quick decision to get the hell out of here.  Quick bottles were made, and I threw the babies and the kids in the car and we went to the park. On the way there I told the kids they could play, but that we were also going for a nice walk while we were there. And they all agreed. I don’t know if they sensed that I was on the edge or what.

We ended up having a really nice afternoon. I got to walk off some frustration.  The kids worked off some energy. It was a good decision. The kids skipped rocks in the creek and climbed all over the playground. We ended the afternoon with ice cream and when we got home, all 5 snuggled on the couch while I cycled laundry.

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Sunday, Ed and I had plans to meet our PTA board out for breakfast. I had planned on getting a hair cut on the way home while my parents were still with the kids, but Ed had to leave breakfast early because of work and I had to get a ride home. Instead, I brought all of them with me and Cait and I both got our hairs did. From there? We went to the zoo, because why not?

Our zoo is teeny, and is kind of pricey for what you get, so it helped when on the way in, a woman who was leaving handed me a free pass for adult admission, a free parking coupon and a free train ride. They were expiring that day and she couldn’t use them. Ed is always doing stuff like that, so it was nice to be on the receiving end of things, and even nicer to get in for just the cost of the big kids.

With the exception of the snack bar deciding to shut its grills down 2 hours before closing time, the kids had a really nice time.  Everyone was tired and hungry on the way out but promising McDonald’s helped a lot. And we got to see one of the new polar bear cubs, so that made the trip worth it. For me anyway.  Hannah was excited to ride the train and play on the big jungle gym. Eddie and Caitlyn were too big for that, so they climbed trees instead.

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So! Instead of sitting home and being miserable, I embraced my lone wolf status. By the time Ed got home last night, I was beyond exhausted but it was the good kind of exhausted. I wouldn’t necessarily look forward to doing it all again soon, but it wasn’t so bad.