First Christmas Time Capsule

Dear babies,

2012 was your first Christmas. You were five weeks old and you slept most of the day.

You’re still squishy, lovey babies. You weigh somewhere between 7-8 pounds and you’re both around 20 inches long. You’re still wearing newborn-size clothes, though you’ll be ready for 0-3 month pretty soon. We grab whatever onesie is in the drawer of your downstairs changing table when you need a fresh outfit. You have a nice little head of soft hair that is adorably spiky in the back. You sleep in Rock N Plays in our room at night and hang out in them for a lot of the day. You do some tummy time on a boppy or on one of your playmats, though you don’t like it for very long stretches of time. You don’t know how to communicate your needs to us. You’re not smiling for real yet, though you coo a lot. Mostly you grunt and squeak. You drink 3.5 ounces of milk or formula every three hours. That means you don’t sleep more than about 3 hours at a time. We bathe you twice a week in a plastic tub wedged in the kitchen sink.

Next year you’ll be 13 months old for Christmas. You’ll weigh…20 or 30 pounds I guess, and be a lot taller and probably leaner too. You’ll be mobile! You’ll know how to crawl and you will probably be walking or working on it. You will probably say a few words and be able to make your basic needs/wants known to us. You’ll smile at us and hug and kiss us back when we snuggle with you. You’ll probably have even more hair, and it will surely be messy. You might have opinions about the clothes that you wear, and you’ll wear actual clothes sometimes instead of just one-pieces. You’ll be sleeping in separate cribs in your own room–and I sure hope that we’ll have helped you learn to sleep for the entire night by then! You’ll be eating some real food, though maybe some formula/milk as well. You’ll have highchairs in our kitchen and will no doubt make a mess of each meal. You’ll eat regular meals three times a day, along with some snacks. You’ll be taking real baths in the bathtub, probably every day because you get dirty.

Your grandparents and aunts got you some gifts this year–some toys and clothes. We didn’t get you any presents ourselves, seeing as how we already got you the gift of life and continued feeding and unconditional love. 🙂 This year you are completely oblivious to holidays and presents. We picked out a Christmas tree with you dozing in your car seats/stroller, and you don’t seem to notice the pretty lights. We made a special ‘feast’ for Christmas dinner, and we built a gingerbread house while watching a movie, like we have for the last three years. But of course you didn’t know or care.

Next year you probably won’t understand the concept of Santa Claus or Christmas very well, but I bet you’ll know what presents are, though! We can have you help us pick out and then decorate our Christmas tree. We’ll have to be careful with the breakables of course, and strategically place the ornaments. We’ll hang our new stockings (one of your grandmas is making us a family set!). We will probably get you one or two things each, and hopefully the grandparents won’t go too crazy with presents. 🙂 I will probably take photos of you on Christmas morning if you can ‘unwrap’ any presents. We’ll dress you in a special Christmas outfit for at least part of the day (and then I’ll take more photos of you!). Maybe you’ll help us decorate the gingerbread house and we’ll make you something special so you can participate in our Christmas feast.

I can’t even imagine what this life next year will feel like, but I bet it will be fun (with plenty of hard times in there too). You two have been a pretty great gift for us this year. I am looking forward to next Christmas with you being even more special!



Merry Christmas!

2007 was the first year I got my own Christmas tree. It was a fake tree, twenty bucks at Target. It was a nice little tree, and I really enjoyed having a little Christmas cheer in my cozy studio apartment.


In 2010, we finally bought a real tree for Christmas, and haven’t looked back since. They look so much better, obviously, but oh, that heavenly aroma. That’s what I love!

Living in Brooklyn, it was super easy to buy and transport a tree. There were tree stands across two corners from us, so it was a very short and easy haul up to our apartment. Now that we live in a less walkable neighborhood, we had to drive to a tree place and transport it on our sweet new car.


Then, of course, we had to make some space for it in our living room.

DSC_8203-1 DSC_8204-2

We added lights only the first night.DSC_8207-3 DSC_8217-5

(Taken with Photojojo’s sweet bokeh filter kit)

We didn’t get around to ornaments until the next night.


Ta-da! So pretty. DSC_8239-8

The day after, while admiring the tree, I was thinking about what an odd tradition it is, putting a tree inside your house and then putting stuff on it. Obviously it’s an old tradition that we’ve conscripted, but still, it’s kind of strange, you know?

For the past however many years, I’ve had a photo ornament made of us, and we’ve also started to collect ornaments on our adventures. I think the first one was on our road trip to Acadia. This was a busy and special year, with two big trips and now babies. Here are the ornaments we added to our collection in 2012:


(Commemorating our cross-country road trip this summer)


(Commemorating our Central Europe trip this spring, to Budapest, Prague (Praha in Czech), and Vienna)


(Duh, couldn’t resist a camera ornament! Although, come to think of it, it’s perfect because this was the year I incorporated my photography business)


(Hand-stitched by my cousin, and there are two of these, one for each twin)


(The photo of us for this year has two extra people! :D)


(I bought this at Salmon Days in October–the snowman hats are meant to have names written on them. I didn’t want to inscribe our chosen names before they were born, so I’ll get them written on there by next Christmas. This is to commemorate our first year with two babies!)

And some gratuitous baby photos as a bonus!


DSC_8421-2 DSC_8478-4 DSC_8412-1

One month

Dear E and M,

Oh my goodness, I can’t believe you’re a month old. That you’ve been in our lives for a whole month. It’s been the longest month of my life for sure–but that’s probably the monotony and the sleep deprivation. But also, I can’t believe it’s been four weeks already. It’s kind of flown by in a blur of feedings and naps. Also, this week was my original due date, so gestationally, you are now full-term.


(on a boppy on our couch–I will take a photo every month here to keep track of your growth!)

E, your toenail is painted, but that’s just a fallback–we are pretty good at knowing who’s who. Your faces are still quite different, though each of you can make a face that looks like your brother.

DSC_8307-6 (E)



You both now weigh seven whole pounds! What?! You weighed just under six pounds a week and a half ago. Your little bellies have gotten big and round. I guess the rest of your little bodies are growing too–on Wednesday you fit into the newborn-size fleece outfits that were way too big for you two weeks ago! Happily your hands and feet are still pretty tiny and cute. I suppose that won’t stay, but I’ll enjoy it for as long as I can. At least you’re still in your very small newborn onesies. We have lots of 0-3 month clothes for you, but I’m not ready for you to be wearing them yet!

You’ve been eating more and more–in less than a week you went from 70ml to 90–three ounces! (And sometimes one of you wants even a little more!) You eat much faster too. We really noticed and appreciate that because the first week especially it was really a chore to get you to eat. But now you guzzle and gulp. Of course that means sometimes you spit up a bit, but usually that doesn’t bother you. Now that you’re taking in so much, this week you ‘graduated’ from the little doll-sized bottles from the hospital to ‘big boy’ four ounce bottles.


All of this kind of breaks my heart, because it means you’re growing and changing and soon you’ll be so big. These are good things, of course, but I am so loving your tininess and will be very sad to see this stage end.


(Baby hand next to a quarter for size comparison)

You’re awake and alert more and more. (Maybe a couple hours a day now, altogether?) You like to stare at us when we hold you–you’re very solemn and earnest. It’s really neat to stare back at you. We see lots of smiles too, but they’re from gas, because half the time you’re asleep. You do still sleep for most of the day. At night, sometimes you both sleep well, and sometimes one of you is up and making noise. Most often it’s a dropped pacifier. We are really looking forward to extending time between feedings, because that will mean more sleep for us! You’ve got us pretty darn tired.

When you’re both awake, we’ve been putting you in a boppy together, which you seem to really enjoy. Normally you’re both very grunty and noisy, but you quiet down when you’re so close like that. Sometimes one of you will look at the other one, and sometimes your limbs overlap. You seem pretty nonchalant about that, like oh hey, it’s just my brother there.



When we pick you up and hold you close, you snuggle right back. Oh my, do I love that. You burrow in to my shoulder and I can lean my cheek against your warm head. When you’re sleepy, you make these sweet cooing noises that kind of sound like “uh huh” or “mm hmm” and it’s adorable and I love that too.

Speaking of noises, you continue to be extremely grunty little dudes. Especially E. But both of you make noises that sound alternately like sheep, horses, or old-tymey movie villains laughing. And of course you both still squeak.

So far you still aren’t doing a lot of crying. Now that it’s been a month, I’m hoping that that trend will continue (as opposed to the first couple weeks, when apparently all babies are pretty quiet). E, you hate to get your outfit changed and will wail about it. Diaper changes aren’t much better, though we’ve found that occasionally a pacifier will help. M, you’re usually calmer about changes, and if you have a pacifier you’re quite happy about it.  In general, we can almost always quickly comfort you when you cry.

When one of you cries, the other one doesn’t wake up from the noise. In fact, you both peacefully snooze through television, normal talking volume, and other noises. This was accidental–you spend your whole day in the same room as us, and obviously we’re not going to spend every day in quiet. I am hopeful this will mean good things for your sleep down the road.

Both of you happily fall asleep any time we’re in the car. This week I drove with you on my own and you ‘met’ some other babies at my mama’s group. I’m excited for all of you to get older and interact with each other!

Your hair now spikes up in the back, and it can’t be tamped down. I can only imagine that for the next five to seven years we’ll see that messy hairdo. It is so cute.


You love to stretch when we put you on the changing table. It’s pretty cute to see your little arms reach up as far as they go (which isn’t far at all) and your little feet flex to stretch your legs out straight. Your limbs still flail around sometimes–especially when you are hungry or left alone. Your grip is definitely developing. You hold on tighter to things like shirt collars and burp cloths, even more than before. Occasionally one of you gets a handful of my hair (I thought I had more time before that started!). I can see both of you get better and more deliberate at “holding” your pacifier in or putting your little hands around your bottle. And this week, while Grandma was visiting, she caught this adorable scene! I’ve never seen you use your fingers purposefully before. The looks on both your faces are priceless!

(video quality is pretty poor, but you’ll get the gist)

Babies, you are pretty great. Your daddy and I think you are the cat’s pajamas. Sometimes I gaze at you and still can’t believe that you’re real and that I grew you. Holding you and snuggling with you is truly one of the best things in the world. You are so loved!



Holy Shitballs, We Have Babies: The birth day

On Tuesday, November 20, we went in for the weekly non-stress test and doctor appointment. I was 36 weeks pregnant. The previous Friday/Saturday, I had developed what I was pretty sure was PUPPS, and it had spread and worsened rapidly. The monitoring went well, but my blood pressure was still elevated. And when the doctor saw the rash and how bad it was, she was like, “Ohhh.” She said that she had scheduled the c-section for Friday so we could wait til after Thanksgiving, but now she didn’t want to wait that long. She went away for a few minutes and came back: “Okay, tomorrow at noon.”

Andy and I looked at each other wide-eyed. Holy shit. Go time.

She went over the risks and consent form with us, and then we left, reeling from the knowledge that the babies would be out in less than 24 hours.

We went out to dinner, to a popular pizza place on Hawthorne, as our ‘last night out’ as just us. We came home and did some last minute arranging and setting up of baby things, now that we were on such a tight deadline. I had been working on a blanket for them, and I’d wanted to do more on it, but I wanted to have it done when they arrived. So I spent some time weaving in a bunch of ends, while watching tv.

I continued to be somewhat in panicked denial about babies arriving so soon already. We called our families and told them the news. They were all very surprised, obviously.

In the morning, I finished getting my things together, and we left for the hospital. I took one last photo of my belly and of the two of us as just us.

We drove to the hospital. Andy dropped me off at the front door so he could go park the car. I (very slowly) walked the longest hallway of all time to the bank of elevators and went to the second floor.

IMG_6989(at the far end looking back. seriously it probably took me three minutes to walk this.)

Andy caught up to me on Floor 2 and we were greeted with another long hallway to the entrance to L&D. Turned the corner and saw yet another hallway! A nurse saw us and steered us to our room close by.

In the room they hooked me up to an IV and some monitors. We hung out for awhile and they got me all ready and soon enough it was time to go. I opted for a wheelchair to the OR, then they loaded me onto the table. Getting the shot before the spinal hurt like a bitch! I was draped and prepped. A few minutes went by and my doctor and everyone else assembled, and they got started. Andy was seated at my left shoulder.

The front drape was up high, so neither of us could see anything. They didn’t narrate the procedure, but I did hear the doctor ask several times, with maybe a measured, tiny note of uh-oh, for a clamp. Apparently a placenta came out first, instead of one of the babies, and a lot of blood with it. (This could have been really dangerous had we been attempting a vaginal birth.) I felt a lot of tugging and rustling around my insides. I don’t  think–or at least I don’t remember if–they announced when each baby was out. They were a mere minute apart. I think I heard some crying, and Andy says they both cried when they came out. I looked in their direction and said, “It’s a baby!” He took a picture or two, and then one of the nurses took the camera and snapped a bunch of photos. Someone handed Baby B to Andy, and he showed him to me. I couldn’t believe it. That they were real and that they were really here.



Baby A was still on the warming table being watched, because he wasn’t breathing exactly right. Both of their Apgars were great though–B was 9,9 and A was 8,9.



When A was a little more ready, Andy and B went over to see him. The drape was in the way of my view, so I couldn’t see anything. When he was gone, I let the tears come.

I think it was five or ten minutes before I saw Baby A. They put both of them at my shoulders and covered us with a heated blanket. Baby A looked me directly in the eyes. Again, I was in complete disbelief.


The doctors stitched me up. Parts of it felt like someone was roughly rummaging through my insides like a junk drawer. Very strange.

Soon enough we were all done and were wheeled back to the L&D room for two hours. The babies were placed on me and a baby nurse immediately started buzzing around me, (wo)manhandling me, my boobs, and the babies, trying to get them to latch. It wasn’t working and she was clearly frazzled. She actually called in a second nurse because she couldn’t handle twins. Meanwhile, I was just sitting there, itching all over my face. [Apparently that’s a normal reaction to some of the surgery stuff, which made me unhappy to hear, since I’d been scratching up a storm for days already. Thankfully the face itching didn’t last too long. (Unlike the PUPPS, which continued for days.)] This part really annoyed me. I wanted to be left alone and I didn’t want to be prodded at.


A bit later they took the babies off of me and they hung out on a warming table in the room. The baby nurses stayed in the room, along with another nurse. For a few minutes everyone stepped out and we were able to chat about names and confirm which baby would have which name. But it was almost two hours until we were actually left alone for good.


After it had been the set amount of time, they wheeled me to the maternity ward room. I don’t remember how Andy or the babies got there, but finally we were alone. Just the four of us, a new family.


I kept saying to myself that day, “Holy shitballs, we have babies.” I could not get the idea to sound real and attached to us. (Heck, it’s been four weeks and I still can’t!) I thought the babies were really cute though, and right away I loved holding them. We had worried that our babies wouldn’t be cute but we might not know, being biased, and that no one would be honest with us about their cuteness or lack thereof. But when we finally saw them, we were pretty well convinced of their objective cuteness, and we got confirmation from lots of the nurses too. 🙂 And you know, if for some reason they’re not objectively cute after all, who cares, I think they are. 🙂

I think I was pretty out of it for the rest of the evening; I dropped in and out of sleep. Andy emailed family with the news and the names. Later we made some phone calls, and I probably sounded drunk with fatigue and painkillers.

The nurses had me attempt to get out of bed that evening. They were super impressed because not only did I get up, but I was able to stand up straight. It actually wasn’t that painful. Later though, the pain started. Lying still wasn’t a problem, but getting in and out of bed was really difficult and painful.

They took my blood the morning after delivery, and my platelets were at 70,000. The low end of normal is 140,000. No wonder I was so out of it! (My platelets had been around 100,000 for the last few weeks, which was another thing the doctor was watching and one of the contributing factors to the early delivery.)

PUPPS is one of those pregnancy afflictions where the only cure is to have the baby. However, because my body is just so awesome like that, my case actually kept spreading and getting worse for a few days after the babies came out. Everyone who came in said mine was the worst they’d ever seen and they clucked over my poor itchy self. At one point my doctor went to find out if there was such a thing as an on-call dermatologist. (There isn’t.) She prescribed steroids early in my stay and then had to double the dosage!

For the next couple days, I was in and out of sleep and stupor. Half the time I felt like I was awake and asleep at the same time. I literally couldn’t tell. It was pretty disturbing and no one could really tell me why, other than pain drugs and sleep deprivation. I would get exhausted and barely be able to keep my eyes open when people were talking to me.

Andy did a lot of the work, since I was either asleep, out of it, or couldn’t get out of bed. He was a rock star and wasn’t getting much rest. I sent him home on Friday afternoon so he could take a nap in our silent house. (My mom had arrived at the hospital to keep me company, so I wasn’t alone.)

As I probably said elsewhere, the nurses were amazing. Several of them did feedings with/for us overnight, which helped us feel a little less overwhelmed and tired. Some of them spent an hour or more with us in our room during the day. They were so helpful and kind.

We were in the hospital for four nights, which is one more than standard for a c-section. I was really glad to get the extra day, because I so did not feel ready to go home after only three. Partly because I was so tired and in pain, but also partly because I was still having trouble accepting the fact that we now were parents and had two babies. Unreal.  I also felt like we needed a lot more information, which never really came. (Someone really needs to write a baby instruction manual!)

Finally it was time to go. I took my third shower of my stay and put on actual clothes as we tidied up all of our stuff. (I had brought a suitcase and used just about none of the stuff in it.) It was important to me to get a photo of all of us before we left–not just a going home photo, but the first photo of our newly expanded family.


I don’t have any wise or thoughtful words about the birth experience. It was an extremely surreal yet emotional day–I still can’t quite grasp that it happened, as weird as that sounds. It’s kind of miraculous when babies arrive, isn’t it?


These every-three-hour feedings never stop. I mean, duh, but the time between them feels so fleeting. And I feel chained to this stupid pump. I’m so tired of doing that all the time. I’m trying to multitask, but there are always so many things I want to do at the same time (like eat or go to the bathroom). I’m already antsy to be done with it altogether, but I want to delay full-time formula for as long as possible, mostly for financial reasons. These babies already go through so many diapers, it’s crazy (about 20 a day). So to have that expense plus formula every month…I would feel so guilty. But I’m already afraid to stop pumping or even reduce it, for money reasons but also because I don’t know what will happen to my supply. God, and they’re only going to eat more and more at each feeding. So far I’m keeping up, but who knows how long that will last. If I have to keep pumping at every feeding (I’m already skipping one overnight one to sleep), I’m going to go stir-crazy. But that’s so selfish and small-minded. So I keep telling myself to suck it up and just do it already. But I whine about it every time, either out loud or in my head.

The other day I hit the wall of tired–I can’t seem to feel rested. Even though I’m getting 5-6 hour stretches of sleep, thanks to our overnight shared feeding schedule. And I shouldn’t be complaining really, since our babies aren’t screaming all the time like I know some do. But they do get seriously grunty, so there isn’t a lot of long periods of actual quiet. Again, if I were someone else, I would kick me for saying anything at all.

I have all these keepsake-type projects I want to do. There’s Project Life, which is a long-term thing, but I also want to take handprints and footprints. In several different formats. There are two long-term series I want to do as well. Not to mention some more photos I want. I’m really unsatisfied with the photos I’ve been able to take so far–they aren’t up to par with what I would like. But taking the kind of posed photos I want and doing these projects all mean that I need cooperation from Andy, and the time to actually just freaking do it, when they’re quiet enough to. And I’m tired of asking for things and needing things done for me. Especially things like this that he doesn’t really seem to care much about. The thing is, though, is that these are all time-sensitive kinds of things, if you will. Their adorable, tiny little hands and feet will only get bigger. If I don’t do these things now, I will regret it and wish I had done it.

Speaking of photos and projects, I keep spending money on them. So far in the last month or so, I haven’t been spending much at all, since all I do is sit on the couch and feed or pump. But these projects that I’m excited about–some of them cost money. I’ve made a few trips to the nearby craft store and spent a decent amount. Not to mention the professional photo shoot we did–I will order some prints but not too many. It’s hard, because as a photographer I really dislike it when clients are too price-conscious and cheap. I am not cheap, but as a client, I honestly can’t afford much. But I won’t make that the photographer’s problem–I will just order a few things for now and maybe more later if I’m working again.

My back suddenly started aching from all the hunching I seem to do–at the sink, at the changing table, at my desk, even somehow sitting on the couch.

I’m at this weird in-between stage of body and wardrobe. I realized today (or was it yesterday?) that I’m no longer eating for three and I need to shape up. But then I remembered I’m pumping to feed two, and allegedly one is supposed to take in 3,000 calories a day when breastfeeding. Yikes. Does that mean I don’t need to feel bad about going to the Jack in the Box drive-thru for curly fries and mini churros? And my clothes…I guess I need to get a few items that aren’t maternity but that are bigger than my previous size. I’m currently apple-shaped (I have no waist and a chubby midsection) and I hate it. I’ve been still wearing maternity clothes for the past few weeks, but they don’t fit quite right (obviously), and I’m tired of my one pair of maternity jeans. So I should probably go spend yet a little more money for some in-between clothes. And then I’ll have to make time to go through the boxes of my regular clothes that have been sitting in the basement. (Hallelujah for basements.)

It hasn’t even been a month and I’m some kind of restless. I feel like I need something but I don’t know what.

More photos and video

I finally made the timelapse of my belly!

I added the video to the Belly Grows page, and added a second page to document my post-baby belly (appropriately titled The Belly Shrinks!). I hope this will be even more motivation to get active and back in shape (once I’m physically ready, of course–another three weeks at the least).

Baby B (M) still gets the hiccups. His whole tiny body trembles at each one.



We found these adorable Christmas fleece footies. They are newborn sized but our guys are still under 6 pounds, so they’re swimming in them a little. 🙂


Babies’ first time meeting Santa!




Two weeks home

It’s been two weeks since we brought the twins home, and they’re almost three weeks old. Here’s what’s going on since the last baby update:

Babies are starting to cry. Just a little, when they need something–usually a pacifier or something to eat, or when they get too gassy. It doesn’t last too long, and they’re soothed fairly easily. (Please stay that way, babies.)

Both of them started nomming on their hands, especially M. He loves to do that while his outfit is getting changed. Here they are laying together, and both of them nomming on E’s hand! Ha!


Their grasps are getting even stronger and more deliberate–they grab onto shirt collars and burp cloths, and they can occasionally do a very rudimentary awkward hold/support of their bottles.

They’re eating much faster than they used to, and the quantity keeps going up. The spitting up is getting rarer too. Hopefully this will all mean that they’ll start sleeping longer sometime in the nearish future.

We did their second bath. They both screamed the entirety of the first bath, so we were braced for more this time around. But we used a second towel to keep them covered better, and they seemed to like the experience–or at least tolerate it.



They do a lot of grunting. And cooing and squeaking. They’re noisy babies. I hope that’s normal. Most of the time it’s pretty cute. (Less cute in the middle of the night when they should be sleeping.)



Speaking of sleeping, for nighttime we moved them from the co-sleeper to staying in the Rock N Plays, so they’re in there pretty much all day. In the co-sleeper we noticed that they always turned their heads toward each other. It’s a bummer that they’re so separated in the Rock N Plays. We need to work on getting them to be near each other more often.


I’ve put them in a boppy together a couple times for photos. Here’s a few adorable ones from the other day. M kept trying to nom E.




(I love this one–I can imagine seeing their little heads together in years to come, plotting little boy shenanigans.)


Whenever I look at them in the Rock N Plays, sleeping peacefully, I want to scoop them up and snuggle them. They’re so cute!

They’re awake only a little bit, but already it’s more than they used to be. We’re doing some very brief tummy time on a boppy or on the activity mat. They bob their heads around and it’s super adorable.


They also do some *very* rigorous and frantic rooting. To the point that sometimes they’ll bang their head against our chest. Their little faces when they do this are *so* cute! But then they get upset and sometimes it takes a minute to get a bottle or a boob ready. Poor things.

We’re working on getting ourselves more sleep–each taking a solo feeding so the other one can get four to six hours at a stretch instead of two. It’s crazy–for those hours, I am OUT. Completely and totally dead to the world. When the alarm goes off it feels like it’s been no time at all. But I think it’s definitely helping during the day to feel pretty normal.

I got one of the babies into the Ergo this week! I’d tried once before and he was all slumped down. Not sure what I did differently this time, but he was more supported and not in danger of falling in/over or suffocating.


It was really comfortable, and I loved being able to have him right with me without actively holding him. Also, I successfully changed the other one with this one in the Ergo! That made me feel like Supermom. 🙂 This weekend I got a second Ergo and a Moby too, so we have more options and so each of us can wear a baby if we want to.

Their velvety newborn skin started to peel and molt last week. Makes me sad. 😦 Lots of other things are going to start changing, and I’m pre-nostalgic for this tiny clingy stage.

A few other photos from this week:


(Hands together during double skin-to-skin time)


(Post-feeding snuggle)


(Reading a book with Daddy)

One Maid A-Milking

I don’t know if it makes me a bad person/woman/mother, but I don’t actually want to exclusively nurse. Maybe because there are two babies and it sounds too daunting. But it makes me feel like I’d be too tied to them. I want some freedom. I want and need a second person to do feedings. I don’t want to be the exclusive food source–that’s intimidating! I don’t want to deal with the drama of public nursing (I don’t have a problem with it, but it seems kind of stressful to do it and be discreet and also deal with other people’s comments or whatever. Ugh). Before they came, I didn’t know how my body would do with breastfeeding at all, let alone how it would work with twins. I definitely wasn’t married to the idea of breastfeeding, but wanted to give it a try. If it worked, good, if not, no big deal.

When we were all in the hospital, the nurses kept trying to push breastfeeding right away, trying to get the babies to latch right after birth and at every feeding. It never worked, because there was never any milk there. Duh! For two days every feeding involved using a syringe to inject donor milk while the baby sucked on a finger, and the other baby would be attached to a nipple shield while the nurse did the syringe. (Two days doesn’t sound like a long time, but when the feedings are every three hours or so, that’s what, close to twenty feedings?) It was always a long and irritating process. I was still so out of it that I didn’t know what to do about it or if there were other options or even that I could think about/ask about trying something else. Finally one of the overnight baby nurses, when I was asking–and starting to cry–about the nursery so we could get some sleep, took pity on us. They no longer ‘offer’ a nursery, in order to be baby-friendly. (This is a very trendy thing, “baby-friendly” hospitals. It means the baby always stays with the mother in the room, for bonding and such.) But she finally said, “Here, I’ll take them for a couple hours and do one of their shots; that’ll be my reason to keep them a bit.” I also asked about the feedings or using bottles or something. (Or maybe she suggested trying bottles? I can’t remember.) I asked if someone (the lactation people that were supposed to come but didn’t for at least three days) would give me grief about nipple confusion and sabotaging breastfeeding and shit like that. She was like, no, whatever, don’t worry about that. She took the babies, we slept like the dead, and the babies came back two hours later *silent* with pacifiers and bottles of donor milk. Our lives got much better after that. Hallelujah for nurses taking pity and taking charge!

As an aside, I’ve never been a super shy person physically, but I wasn’t sure how I would be in the hospital about breastfeeding. I thought I would be a little reserved at least. But starting from the recovery room, my boobs were out there and all kinds of people were not just seeing them, but actively manipulating them. And I wasn’t self-conscious at all. It was like they were just business equipment being used and they weren’t really private or mine anymore. I didn’t mind, which surprised me. Also, I was probably too tired to care. Also also, I don’t think I had a choice.

My colostrum finally came in on Saturday and milk followed on Sunday (babies were born on Wednesday). The lactation consultant finally showed up on Saturday and helped us get going with tips and info. I rented the hospital-grade pump and pumped every few hours at the hospital and then after we went home on Sunday. The right side produced a fair amount, while lefty was producing next to nothing. After a few days, both sides stepped up a bit. Since then, one or the other side has dropped to very low, or both have done a lot, or neither has done much. All over the place. For a day or so, we were almost a day ahead with pumped milk, and some days we’re only a couple hours ahead.

We usually do a formula feeding in one or both of the overnight feedings so that the stockpile of pumped milk can keep ahead. We’ve gotten some free sample cans of formula, so that hasn’t cost us anything as yet. Full-time formula feeding twins would cost a lot of money, so it would be really great to have as much milk as possible for as long as possible. That would be ideal financially as well as for health reasons for the babies (assuming there are no allergy or sensitivity issues), not counting the value of my time.

Earlier this week I started trying to nurse the babies (with nipple shields) occasionally to see how they did. Started with like four or six minutes one day, and the next day they each did over 20 minutes! That made me feel pretty good and hopeful.

Here’s a fun tip: if the baby stops sucking, you can move his arm–in a chicken-wing motion or in an up-and-down/hand-raising motion–and he’ll start sucking again.

This Wednesday I returned to the hospital to see the lactation consultant I’d worked with. She tried to get the babies to latch, but neither of them quite got it. Since they were both starting to get fussy hungry, we got them on using the nipple shields. And for the first time, they both nursed at the same time. It was kind of neat to see both of their little heads right there, getting some nourishment from mama. However, I hold no illusions that I will be able to tandem nurse–nor do I want to. At least not right now.

(I have finally just started using the double nursing pillow though, and I really like it. I’d been using a pillow over a boppy, which was awkward. And I still need some extra blankets/cushioning with the nursing pillow, but it’s more stable, and since I’m only using one side of it, I can use the other side as a makeshift table for snacks!)

The consultant told me that basically I have three babies right now–the twins and the pump! Gah, I hadn’t thought of it that way, but yep, is that ever true. So she wants me to nurse at least one of them at every single feeding–even for just ten minutes–and then follow with a bottle, and then follow with pumping. At every single feeding. According to my log–yes, I keep a chart in a little notebook with the pumping times and amounts, like a little nerd–I’d been pumping about four times a day, while they eat about eight times a day. So the idea of doing all those things literally twice as often is quite intimidating. And tiring.

On Thursday morning I did as she suggested. And I was on the couch for literally four hours. It was the second day of each of us taking one of the night/morning feedings solo so the other person could sleep. Andy did the last evening feeding, we both did the overnight one, and I did the first morning feeding. E nursed while M had a bottle while propped in a boppy. E still needed some more milk from a bottle afterward. Then I pumped for about 30 minutes, and then I did skin-to-skin with both of them on my chest while I watched a tv show and dozed off for a nap. Half an hour later Andy was up and it was time for the next feeding. So M nursed, Andy fed E, M took more milk from a bottle, and I pumped for another 20 minutes. I hadn’t eaten anything during the first part of that, either.

This kind of schedule sucks. Obviously the extended skin-to-skin time was my choice and won’t happen very often. (But seriously, it’s one of my new all-time favorite things.) Since feedings happen every three hours or so, and generally take close to an hour, now that hour is even longer if I’m doing all three of those things. So then I have two hours, or less, left to do things like eat, shower, or things around the house (or let’s face it, on the internet. These posts, for example, all get written in bits and pieces ahead of time.). Really I should be napping for at least one of these breaks. Basically, I want to or have to be in several places at once, during the feedings and in between. And that sucks. I feel pressured and annoyed. And thank god the babies are easy right now (PLEASE STAY THAT WAY, BABIES), so it’s easy to do those other things between feedings (PLEASE STAY THAT WAY, BABIES).

This morning (Friday), it took two full hours to do a solo feeding and pumping. The feeding part went well and quickly, and then my heart sank when I remembered that I wasn’t done yet. Plus I always like to hold a baby or two for awhile after they finish eating, and now I can’t do that. It makes me really sad that a pump has to override holding and bonding with one of my babies. Or if I do hold them, that pushes back my time that much more.

However, what else am I going to do? Not do my best to nourish my babies with the ideal food? (That was a little sarcastic. As you can tell, I’m not a die-hard breastmilk person. Plus I have twins; my milk has to go twice as far!) I’m in a pretty damn privileged position–I don’t have anything else to do all day, and thank god my husband is around this month to share the feeding duties. And I guess this part is short-term, to establish my milk supply. So I can try to think of it that way, that this won’t last forever. And I won’t beat myself up if I miss a nursing session, as long as I do a pumping.

Sigh. I guess I just need to push through. Good thing I have a Roku (Netflix on tv) and a laptop. And that the babies can sleep through music and tv.

The Recovery

Today marks two weeks post-baby, and there are still lots of changes going on body-wise.

Almost all of the PUPPS rash has faded and now the scratch scabs are finally healing. So glad that I don’t look like a leper anymore.

My feet started swelling this summer. Certainly by mid-August they were puffy pregnancy feet. Over the last month, they got even puffier. Imagine my delight in noticing last week that my toes look like toes again (instead of sausages), and the thickness of my feet is now back to normal. Plus, no more cankles! Phew. Now I just need to get some long-overdue new (comfortable) shoes.

My hands also swelled; I had to take my rings off in July. I’ve tried them on this week and they don’t fit over the knuckles yet. I hope that ‘fixes’; I hate having naked hands and I miss my pretty rings! My hands look fairly normal again, at least.

Then of course there’s my face. Oh, face, you cause me so much trouble. In the late summer I noticed that my face was somehow fuller, and then a double chin developed in the fall. I am happy to note that two weeks after babies, the double chin is gone, and my face looks ‘normal’. I’m really happy to look like myself again!

Here’s my round-faced drivers license photo from October:


And tonight (with a baby on my chest):


My final weigh-in the day before delivery was 216 pounds–around 66 pounds gained. I visited the doctor the following Monday, 5 days post-baby, and weighed 189. Today at my two-week follow-up appointment, I weighed in at 178. Wow–almost forty pounds gone already!

I’m not super stressed about weight, but I was/am interested in seeing how it all works for me. I’m surprised how quickly my belly seems to be going down. I thought it would be a lot slower, actually. I don’t really look pregnant anymore, just kind of thick around the middle. I won’t expect weight to drop dramatically, but will try to manage my expectations in a healthy manner.

DSC_7753(1 week post-partum)

DSC_7932(2 weeks post-partum)

It’s kind of amazing, but not surprising I guess, how soft my belly is. It’s soft, and squishy, in a way I’ve never felt before. Last week it was a little bit numb, which felt like a very deflated nerf ball was attached to my abdomen. My belly button is still an outie; I wonder if it will stay that way or return to innie.

My incision is still sore and irritated. I heard that by the two-week mark I should feel a lot better. And it is better than the first week, but it’s still quite painful at times, especially at night getting up out of bed so often (to attend a baby or two). I am really, really ready to be pain-free. My doctor today gave me another prescription for the painkillers I was taking at the hospital and only sporadically taking at home. I don’t like taking medicine/pills, and the pain isn’t extreme, but I think I’m ready to accept that I still need the help. It’s been months since I’ve been fully, comfortably mobile, and I know I’ll have to take it easy, but I do want to be a little more active.

I will look forward to getting out and about with the babies. We’ve taken our stroller out for a couple times and are happy at how easy it is. I hope that next week I’ll be ready and able to take short walks around the neighborhood, or even go to a park to walk around.

In general, I guess things are going pretty good. I guess I can’t expect to bounce back super quickly physically, after not just pregnancy but a major surgery. I should probably keep a positive attitude and be aware of progress.

My husband continues to be very supportive and helpful, and though I’m able to do more than I was two weeks ago, there’s still a lot I need help with. I continue to be so thankful for him. And also for our cute babies:



I’m enjoying having babies a lot more than I thought I would.

The day they were born, I thought to myself, “Oh man, I see why people want a lot of these. Maybe I want more.”

Holy shit, one baby would be SO EASY.

I still feel like myself. I was afraid that I would be a different person or that I *should* be or feel like a different person.

I miss being in the hospital. Other than being woken up constantly, I liked having people there to take care of me and us, and to be the experts. If something were to go wrong or if we had a question, a qualified professional was there to know what to do. Plus most of the nurses were just super friendly and genuinely caring. I was (am) so, so grateful for them.

Sometimes, if I’m not looking at the babies or interacting with them, I forget about them. (They sleep pretty much all day and only seem to fuss at night if they drop their pacifier.)(Yes, I know this will change soon. Don’t rain on my parade.)

Sometimes I’ll watch tv or read my phone while feeding them, instead of gazing lovingly into their eyes. Feedings take a long time! I get bored!

They are so freaking tiny and cute, I can’t stand it. Their teeny legs slay me.

I’m tired of not being able to move freely without discomfort. It’s been months now.

I’m relieved that I’m starting to look like myself again.

Occasionally I’ll think that I’m not so tired and that we’re doing fine. Then I remember that half the time we sleep through the feeding alarms for a good 20 minutes.

Overall though, we really are doing fine. I think.

But I could really use a nap. Or a lot of naps. Or more than two hours of sleep in a row.

I thank the deity-of-your-choice for my husband’s company–he gets a month paid paternity leave. I think with one baby that would be really nice, but with two babies, it’s a necessity to have a second grownup pair of hands. He does so much. I worry that he’s running out of patience.

There’s nothing better than watching a good man become a good daddy. 🙂

I’m really impressed and proud of my body. The nurses in the hospital kept trying to get the babies to latch and it never worked, because there was no milk. I figured it might not ever come in and that just wouldn’t be something my body can do. But it finally came in on Sunday, the day we went home, and I’ve been pumping ever since.

However, only one side will produce much at a time. And it keeps changing which side. And right now both sides are down, actually. Harrumph.

We supplement with formula sometimes, to help stay ahead with stockpiling pumped milk.

They’ve started to look more alike. I think I mentioned this before–we’ve continued to keep them assigned to one color, for ease of identification. I feel bad about this, but it’s only until they’re old enough that we are confident enough in recognizing their faces. (Geez, that sounds terrible.)

I know I’ve said it before, but I can’t emphasize it enough–this whole thing still seems completely and totally surreal. I am still in shock or disbelief or just straight up denial. Babies! That I grew! Who are now actual people (we even got their social security cards already)!