First Broken Bone!

At the end of September, Malcolm broke his arm.

It happened during after-school. He fell off the monkey bars (which is sad because he LOVES monkey bars) and I guess he landed on his right arm.

I was not there when it happened; I was finishing up teaching my photo class when I got the call, and I hated that I was thirty minutes away! A. was on an airplane flying home and we were texting back and forth about what we should do.

The paramedics were called and made him a splint, and explained things to me when I finally arrived. Little Malcolm was just sitting there quietly, not crying. I learned the term “visible deformity” about possible breaks – he sure had one. His forearm was curved where it should have been straight! (I’ll put a photo at the very end of the post in case you don’t want to see it.) By the way, the rule is that if there is no visible deformity you can go to Urgent Care because it may not be broken, but if there is a visible deformity, you go straight to the ER. 

I took both boys to Randall’s pediatric ER and while we were in the car M was finally  upset and scared, crying a little. He insisted on being carried and held when we got to the ER and I was so happy to snuggle him and reassure him that he would be okay. 

We were there for five hours. Everyone there was amazing and it was a wonderful experience (for being in the ER for five hours, that is). 

Malcolm went back to being pretty quiet and stoic once they got him in a bed. First they undid the split and x-rayed him: distal radial fractures of his right ulna and radius. Emmett was super patient. Most of the time was just waiting around for all the specialists to be available for his reset. (Apparently it was a busy night there.)

The room had a TV with cartoons, a clown came in with magic tricks and coloring sheets, and there was a Child Life Specialist who came in to explain everything to M and show him the tools and things the doctors would be using to give him the special medicine to rest while they fixed his arm. He wasn’t allowed to eat until the sedation (around 8pm), which means neither of them got any dinner. Thankfully the TV kept them entertained enough that they didn’t seem to notice. 

Watching the sedation happen was hard for me to see, and they suggested I not stay for the reset. The nurse said something about the noise of the bones being upsetting to parents, which made me shudder and agree to leave during that part. I took E to grab a bite to eat at the hospital cafe, and when we got back M was waking up. They said it went perfectly and his arm was looking great. They gave him a splint and some good drugs. 

We got home at 11pm (A. had just gotten home from his flight; I was so glad that he got to see M). Malcolm had a very rough night and barely slept, moaning and crying…yet also refusing medicine. So we *all* had a very rough night! At like 8am, he *finally* allowed some medicine and thankfully he slept for awhile–I had to wake him up at 1230 in the afternoon! (We’d decided M would get the day off school and that E would be able to sleep in and go in to school late.) 

Once he woke up he was pretty much his normal happy self. Especially when I took him to get a special treat. 🙂 That was the very first day that the boys spent the entire day apart! E did great at school by himself. 

All of this happened on a Wednesday. He went in to the orthopedist on Monday morning and got a cast past his elbow. It was a hard time to maneuver with that, getting dressed, getting him in his car seat.

He went back a week later for a checkup on it, and they found that the bones weren’t quite in the right place. So they took off the cast, and put on a new one with a little more angle/direction to it. Thankfully it was also shorter, below his elbow. This made his life way easier!

 

Look at the picture he’d drawn at school and how he sounded out ‘orthopedists’! 🙂

He was never really upset about the cast or about his arm being broken. He was shy about it, though , and he always tried to hide it–either he would hide his arm behind his body, or stand really close to one of us and his arm behind our leg, or insist on wearing his hoodie so the cast wouldn’t be visible. He was afraid of people asking about it, or commenting about it, because he thought they’d be laughing at him. 😦

He also began using his left hand! He’s the only righty in our family but he quickly learned to write and draw as a lefty. After three weeks he said he would keep being a lefty even after his cast came off. 🙂

 

After a month he got his cast off! (Since he’s so young, his bones heal faster. If he were older it would have taken six weeks.) The x-ray showed that the bones were healing well. (It wasn’t totally done yet; apparently it takes at least six months to fully heal and remodel!) He wasn’t allowed to go on the monkey bars or do any “active” things for another month. We cheated and let him ride his bike and scooter, though, because he’s a little kid and he needs to be able to do *some* things! He was good about wearing the brace they gave him at school recess. He also went back to using his right hand after about a week.

Just last week, his ‘probation’ month was up and he could once again do monkey bars! I was glad to see that he was happy about it, that he hadn’t been scared off one of his favorite activities. 🙂

Overall we were so impressed and proud of how Malcolm dealt with this whole experience. I felt so sad for him when it happened; I felt like he’d lost a tiny bit of innocence or something. He was never whiny or angry or upset about the cast, or about not being able to do everything he normally would. But he was so resilient!

 

Scroll for the broken arm pic…

Advertisements

The nightly torture

Toothbrushing. It is the bane of my existence. Or at least the bane of our evenings with toddlers. I *hate* it.

We only started brushing their teeth regularly a little over a year ago. They screamed and writhed and had to be held down by a second person. I found a toothbrushing song to sing, in hopes that they would start to recognize it and be a little happier, or at least less terrified. It hasn’t worked.

This went on for probably five or six months, and then suddenly they would just sit there and open up. Without crying! Without squirming away! What a miracle! I was all, woohoo, we just had to wait a little while and they finally got used to it!

Hahaha.

The protests began again in the fall or winter. They were older now and more verbal, so they just say No and run away. They once again squirm away from the toothbrush. They also figured out that they can clamp those little chompers down on the toothbrush and lock it in place (and suck out the toothpaste). It’s a less violent event now, but it’s still a huge, giant pain in the ass. Many nights one of them will be mostly okay with it but one will not. I hate it hate it hate it.

Tonight, after M chomping down on the toothbrush every.single.damn.time I put it in his mouth, he said something about pizza. And randomly I decided to give the toothbrush a Cookie Monster voice and say, “I want pizza! Mmmm, pizza snacks! Give me pizza! Yummy, I see baby cookies! Gimme gimme! More baby cookies!” while brushing his teeth. He giggled and laughed and let me brush his teeth.

Then I did the same for Emmett. (He likes to do it ‘by self’ which of course is terribly ineffective, so I’ve been trying to negotiate that I do it first then he gets a turn.) He laughed and giggled, and then when I was done, he handed me the toothbrush again and said, “More?” {cue angels singing}

Oh my god. I have no idea if this tactic will ever work again, but it will live on as a bright spot that maybe, someday, there may be hope?!

Also, we’re taking them to the dentist for the first time this week (they’re almost 2.5). I’m crossing my fingers that it won’t be a complete and utter disaster, and that we won’t get ‘in trouble’ for having waited so long. Wish all of us much luck and patience.

One good thing about me

If I am out with other people at a restaurant and the server asks about dessert, I will always immediately say, “Yes.” Many women hesitate and waver and make excuses and apologies and justifications. Not me–I raise my hand as a proud dessert-haver. No excuses, no guilt. JUST DELICIOUS DESSERT.

So if you’re out with me, you never have to worry about the dessert question, you never have to worry about having a reason. We will have dessert, we will enjoy it, the end.

Life is short, people. Cake does a body good.

Note that this post is tagged with “advice” and “health.” On purpose. 😀

PS: After I drafted this, I found this link snippet on Joy the Baker: “Eating: A Manifesto: Hey ladies, we can stop torturing ourselves about the brownie and just eat the brownie.  My goodness the way we torture ourselves.” AMEN.

Pumping for Twins

I’m finally posting this on the one-year anniversary!

Medela Symphony PumpOn the babies’ seven month ‘birthday,’ I pumped for the last time.

Yes, I was finally DONE WITH PUMPING.

It felt like a major decision. And for a long time I still didn’t know how I felt about it!

Once I knew that I didn’t want to nurse, I figured I’d pump for maybe the first three months. Well, that came and went pretty quick and then they were like five months old and I was like, hey…I’m still doing this? But I didn’t want to stop at a random time, and their six month ‘birthday’ was really close, so I decided I would go for seven months as my endpoint.

I can be somewhat terrible at actually Deciding to Do Things. I would much rather decide that something needs to happen and then kind of wait for the chips to fall. Or have something assigned to me. I think I worry that I’ll make a wrong decision, or a strange decision, or that I don’t know how things will play out later on, so I’d sometimes be happy to let the Fates decide! But sometimes I have to be a GrownUp and put on my Big Girl Pants and make a Damn Decision Already.

I was never one to have a ‘goal’ for something like nursing or pumping, because I didn’t know how I would do, if I would like it, or what our life circumstances would be. I didn’t want to tie myself down to some mental milepost in the future.

But once I started, I figured I might as well keep going for awhile. It seemed to be working pretty well, and my supply kept up quite well. I never made enough to fully feed both the babies, but for many months we only had to do one set of formula bottles (for anywhere from five to eight feedings a day). This was pretty great. Especially because with samples and gifts, we didn’t have to buy any for maybe 3 or 4 months.

I need to include an aside about formula itself, as a principle. I love it; I think it’s great. My babies needed more food than my body provided, and formula kept their bellies full so they could grow.

Since the babies tolerated both Enfamil and Similac regular formulas without even noticing the switch, once it was time for us to buy the formula, we tried the Costco brand and it was good.  And it is SO MUCH CHEAPER. On Amazon, the big brands are a dollar an ounce; at Costco those brands are like 80 cents an ounce. The Costco formula is forty-five cents an ounce! Winner! (But really we are just lucky that our babies don’t have any special dietary needs/restrictions. And that I don’t care about organics and stuff.)

Even with the cheapest formula option, it still costs money. As I transitioned to fewer pumps per day and my output dipped, we used more formula each month. And of course then once I stopped, we had to buy a lot. The babies take 32-35 ounces a day, times two, so the giant can only lasts 3 1/2 – 4 days. Again, even cheap, it adds up.

And to me it felt like I was forcing the family to pay this extra money because I was being lazy and selfish by not pumping anymore.

I wanted to be free. I wanted my body to be my own again. I wanted my schedule, all the hours in the day, to be my own again (or as much as they could be with two infants). But I also waffled a bit.

There was a nagging thought in the back of my head that if I was able to make food for my babies, I should keep doing it. That maybe my needs weren’t really needs, just wants, and that my babies’ biological needs trumped whatever I wanted.

Happily, my husband insisted that I should stop. Not pressuring me to or anything, but asserting that I had done a lot already and it was more than okay for me to stop. He respected my seven months of pumping and my decision to be done. But I asked a lot of times, “Are you sure it’s okay? Should I just keep going after all? Is it too much money?” He always said “No, you should stop. It’s really okay.”

Another aside: apparently some husbands think it’s their business to insist on or pressure their partners to pump or breastfeed. What the everloving fuck?! Unless a man is the one strapping a baby or a milking machine to his own body, he has zero right to push for his partner to feed a baby that way!

Anyway, so over the course of a few weeks I weaned myself down and then off the pump entirely.

The last pump was on a Friday. I wasn’t sure how the stopping process would go for me, physically. All was fine for awhile, at first it didn’t feel any different. Later on Saturday I started feeling uncomfortable. By Sunday it was actual pain. It hurt to hold a baby and it hurt to sleep–pressure on my engorged chest. I read that other women had pain for up to a week when quitting! I tried cabbage leaves, I thought about finding whatever herbs or drugs might help after a few days…Sunday night it got even worse and so Monday morning I broke down and pumped for ten minutes. I decided that if I needed to do once a day for a few more days I could handle it. I got another 10 ounces or so, and after that my body totally got the message. No more pain, no more milk, all done, all gone. My body was once again all mine.

It’s been two months A YEAR now and I can’t believe how glad I am that I stopped, and how incredibly much I don’t miss it. I look back and wonder, jesus, did I really do that?! I have not regretted the decision to stop for even a SECOND.

And now for all the random thoughts I have about pumping.

1. NUMBERS! DATA! NERDINESS!

I kept a log while I was in the hospital so I would know when to pump and be able to see how much I was getting. And then…I kept going. I continued to keep track of every single pump for all seven months. And then I graphed it! Is that dorky or what?

Fullscreen capture 7152013 115657 AM.bmp

Several things to note:

-The stars indicate when I decreased a pumping session. At first I believe it was seven times a day, so the first star is when I went down to six times a day. I did 30 minutes each time, until going to five times, when I did 45 minutes each time.

-I don’t even want to think about the total amount of time I spent pumping. Hours and hours and hours. I essentially lived on our couch.

-My supply really jumped up quickly at a clear pace and I had a really good average–over 50 ounces a day for a long time. Again, though, the babies were taking 60 ounces.

-Looking at this graph, it looks like such a short period of time. And I guess it was, in the grand scheme of things. But those days and weeks and months of pumping felt looooooong. So very long. Never ending, really. I can’t even tell you how long it all felt. Such a slog.

-I was fascinated to learn (thank you auto-sum!) that over the course of seven months, my total output was SIXTY SEVEN GALLONS. That’s a full milk case at the grocery store. FROM MY BODY. That is crazy weird strange cool. Check out my badly-photoshopped graphic of SIXTY-SEVEN GALLONS:

Pumping for Twins

2. THE ENERGY

The first few weeks of pumping, I could literally feel the life draining out of me at each session. It felt like I was wilting from the inside out. It was probably because I wasn’t eating much of anything at first. As time went on,  I didn’t feel weak anymore, though I doubt I was ever eating enough. When I went out for errands, I frequently stopped for a chocolate milkshake to get some extra calories.

Sitting in one place for so long so many times a day forced me to drink a lot of water–I easily drank 60oz a day, and that made a huge difference for my skin and for my energy level.

Also, I was surprised that I didn’t lose weight faster than I did. I dropped forty pounds in the first week, but only another six pounds in the next six weeks.

9 wks pregnant; 1 week pp; 7 months pp

9 wks pregnant; 1 week pp; 7 months pp

3. THE SCHEDULE

A lot of women keep pumping every three hours (around the clock–that means overnight!) for way longer than I did. I was never willing to do that. Within a week maybe I was skipping one overnight session, for a total of seven pumps a day instead of the ‘ideal’ eight. My supply may have been higher if I’d done that extra session, but I was not willing to sacrifice even more sleep. As it was, for many months I could only go 5 or 6 hours between pumps, which meant starting the last one of the night around 2am, which meant getting to bed around 3am, and then getting up again to pump at 7am.

The worst part was when someone would suggest that I should sleep in. Or my husband would offer to do something so I could sleep. I wanted to cry and scream every time I had to say (and good lord I hated that everyone else seemed to forget what a slave to the pump I had to be), “I CAN’T; I HAVE TO PUMP.”

Eventually I started doing the last one a little bit earlier and earlier, stretching out the overnight. It took awhile, but man, the difference it made to get more sleep….indescribable. I know that a lot of babies don’t sleep well and continue to wake up every night every few hours for many many months….but ours didn’t, and being unable to take advantage of their good sleep was so frustrating. I was a zombie for months when I didn’t ‘have’ to be.

The best part was when I got to the point of 8 or 9 hours overnight between pumps. And when my amazing husband started getting up with the babies so I could sleep for eight hours. I think that was in April, when the babies were about five months old or so. Oh my god, I felt like a real person again. It was an incredible, priceless gift.

The other sweet spot was when I finally got to four pumps a day. That felt really manageable in the daily schedule: first thing in the morning, lunch time, late afternoon, night time. (Until I got to three times a day; that was even better.)

Of course, the relentless pumping schedule means that you have to schedule your life around your pump. Date nights, playdates/mom groups, exercise–all of it has to be done in those times between pumping sessions. And if they overlap, then you can’t just skip. Your body won’t let you. So you have to pump before and after your fun event.

4. THE HASSLE

Pumping sucks. Literally and physically. In so many ways.

First, there’s all the crap. Keeping track of all the parts, washing them in between pumping sessions, finding room to let them dry on the counters. If you pump in different places, you also have to cart the pump and accessories to different parts of your house (or car, or work, or vacation).

Then there are the accessories. Often I would rush home from an outing and immediately run upstairs and do a fast clothing change to pajama pants and a nursing tanktop. I also had a special hands-free pumping bra, plus a muslin blanket to cover up (I just tied it on like a giant neckerchief). Then the bottles and lids, and eventually you might need to keep extra bottles around in case one fills up and you need to switch before the pumping session is over. It really sucks when one leaks or overflows and you don’t notice until it’s already been going on for who knows how long. Ick and ack.

It is a huge hassle to stick to that schedule. Your boobs don’t need a clock; they know when the milk is due, and whether or not your pump is going, that milk will come. Occasionally time would get away from me, and I would feel a tingling, and then suddenly realize I needed to be pumping. On our trip north in January, three different times I was busy being social and missed the pumping times and leaked everywhere. Yuck.

5. THE IMMEDIACY

When I would say I have to pump, that might RIGHT NOW. Not right now in three minutes, RIGHT NOW THIS VERY MOMENT GET OUT OF MY WAY. Occasionally my husband would try to give me a hug or leisurely talk about something as I was frantically trying to get all the pump shit ready and I would be like I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS RIGHT NOW I NEED TO PUMP.

Imagine that feeling when you’ve needed to pee for a long time and you’re about to burst and you’re on the way to the bathroom. And someone wants you to stop and chat.

Except that ability to hold it in is not available and the ‘ready to explode’ feeling keeps building painfully and there’s no immediate relief.

So a note to all you friends or partners who are pumping: get the hell out of their way!

I would frequently lose track of time and be like, Shit! I have to pump! And then proceed to run around getting all the pump stuff and accessories ready, and oh yeah, fill up my water bottle, since I’ll be stuck in one place for almost an hour. And I probably need a snack. And I should go to the bathroom now while I can. Where’s my kindle? Is my laptop plugged in? Make sure I can reach the remote!

Now imagine the fun times when I was alone with two babies and pumping! For months I did at least one feeding a day *while* pumping. It was difficult and extremely, incredibly annoying. But I figured that multi-tasking was the best way to use my time. As I slowly changed my schedule and those pumping/feedings got fewer, it was such a relief.

6. THE IN-BETWEEN-NESS

Everyone wants to know how you feed your baby. It’s none of their damn business, and I have a much bigger post brewing on that, but people will still ask. It does come up organically sometimes. And I think people in general like to categorize things, and seek out people with similar situations. It pretty much seems like there are only two options: breastfeeding and formula feeding. And…I was neither. Or kind of both. My babies obviously got formula from the start, so I was a formula feeder. And I only nursed a handful of times ever, so I wasn’t a breastfeeder. But I was pumping. So they were getting milk from me. Does that mean I was breastfeeding because their food came from me? Or does it mean I wasn’t breastfeeding since that food from my body went into theirs via a bottle? Then there are the small, forgotten segment of Exclusive Pumping mothers. Which, I wasn’t that either, since I was pumping like 70-80% of what my babies ate, not 100%.

I never liked being neither, or both, or nothing easily categorize-able. I always wished I could find other people like me, in all those facebook groups where it seems everyone is an exclusive and/or extended breastfeeder. I wish I could have found a community of other in-between-ers.

7. THE UNEXPECTED BONUS

Once I was a little less zombie-fied and was more stable with my pumping schedule, I began to enjoy my late-night (2am) pump session. I’m a night-owl anyway, so it wasn’t a stretch to stay awake for so long, even though I was tired. But I was alone. I could do whatever I wanted, as long as I could do it while sitting on the couch. I wrote blog posts; I read the internet; I watched Netflix (mainly a ridiculous and fun Aussie teen soap called Dance Academy); occasionally I would read on my kindle.

I came to relish that quiet alone time, and actually look forward to it. Even though I wasn’t really doing anything different than during the rest of my day, my mind felt calm and quiet. Relaxed. I suppose the time sacrifice was worth it for the mental break, in a way. Sometimes you just need to get away, and sometimes the only way to do that is to stay up until 2 or 3am.

8. NO, YOU’RE NOT LOSING YOUR MIND.

Many women–including myself–hear the pump ‘talk.’ Especially since I had a hospital-grade pump for the first 6-7 weeks, which is gigantic but pretty quiet, and then moved to the Medela Pump-In-Style (the tote bag version), which is small and lightweight, but very loud. I heard different words or phrases nearly every day the first few weeks with that one! Then I finally started tuning it out. Here’s a funny/frustrating article about pumps being so technologically un-advanced: Shouldn’t the Breast Pump Be as Elegant as an iPhone and as Quiet as a Prius by now?

Medela Pump Tote Bag

9. TIPS

You can use any bottle with a standard opening. I used the Snappies bottles first, then the 5oz Medela bottles that came with the pump, and then I had to move to something bigger. I found a couple cheap 8oz bottles at Walgreens, and also used the Dr Brown’s 8oz bottles. They actually hold closer to 13oz!

However: lids matter! You can buy separate screw-on caps for the Dr. Brown’s bottles (which fit the 4oz and the 8oz sizes) and they ACTUALLY work. The Medela bottle lids worked mostly okay for the Medela bottles, but not for any of the other kinds.

You can use dry-erase markers to write anywhere on any bottle. We have a bunch of the fine-tipped markers for our kitchen dry-erase board, so I used them to write day/time of pumped bottles. Wipes right off!

IMG_9700_WEB

For chafing, almost everyone recommends lanolin. Lanolin is really, really sticky. Which means that you and your pump parts are always a little sticky. I dug around and finally found another suggestion: olive oil! Put some on a paper towel, and then wipe it around the inside of the pump flange. Et voila, no chafing, and no stickiness!

9. IN CONCLUSION

You can feed your baby however you like. One method (formula or breastfeeding) may work best for you, or you might combo feed. You might use a pump also. It’s pretty neat that our bodies can feed our babies, isn’t it? But–the best things to remember are that 1, if you’re feeding your baby and loving your baby, that means you’re a good mother–period. And 2, YOU matter. Your time matters, your physical AND MENTAL health matter. If you want to pump, and you can, then great! If you don’t want to, or you can’t, great! Love your baby. That’s what matters. I support you!

Imperfections

Our babies have flat heads.

At our two-month appointment in January, I asked about it and was told not to worry (we saw a nurse practitioner for that one, not our regular doctor). At the four-month, I asked again, because they were still flat. Our pediatrician said it would probably be fine, but she said we could have the craniofacial specialists check it out.

I was simultaneously scared to have it confirmed and not have it looked at. But I did the grownup thing and made an appointment. (It’s a huge university/hospital complex at the top of a big hill in northwestern Portland. Huge buildings and structures everywhere you look–honestly I felt like I was in the Jetsons or something!)

Anyway, the woman we saw there was wonderful–very warm, loved the babies, and was very open with us. It was clear that she had no agenda, wasn’t going to automatically make us do helmets, but was very objective. She measured their heads, and sure enough they were flat. Emmett’s worse than Malcolm’s, by a lot. We’d already been able to see that, but the numbers were stark. There’s a certain measurement difference cutoff that would make a baby eligible for a helmet; Malcolm’s was below, and Emmett’s was above. But both have acquired positional plagiocephaly (the medical term for flat head).

She gave us exercises and stretches to do with both of the babies, to work on their torticollis, which would also help them move their heads and necks better. She wanted us to have the babies do fifteen minutes of tummy time every few hours, which was WAY MORE than what we’d been doing, and quite frankly, way more than the babies wanted to do. We were to come in again two months later to check the progress.

We did fairly well with the tummy time, and the babies got a lot better about tolerating it. We would give them toys and squishy books, or lay them on our laps facing out/down, and they would be okay. The stretches really helped their neck tightness ease and loosen. We also had them do a lot of supported sitting–in the Bumbo, activity seat, jumperoo, exersaucer. Lots of playtime not laying on their backs.

By the follow up appointment, Malcolm’s head had gotten noticeably less flat, and his measurement difference dropped in half. Emmett’s had also gotten less flat, but his hadn’t improved as much, and he was still over the ‘cutoff.’ Too flat.

Time for a helmet.

The specialist was again very honest and caring. She told us that after a year or two, heads/skulls aren’t really that malleable anymore, so if you wait, a helmet either takes longer to round out the head, or won’t work at all.

Three weeks ago we had our first appointment at the orthotist so his head could get scanned for his custom helmet. Doesn’t he look like an adorable little Ewok?

IMG_9975

Last week we went back to get the custom-fitted helmet.

The night before, I took a special photo of his cute, happy little self.

DSC_4640-1

At the office, still happily unaware.

DSC_4654-1

The doctor had to adjust the helmet openings to fit his head. It’s made of molded foam and has a rounded back to guide his head growth over time.

DSC_4659-2

Here he is back at home, getting used to wearing the helmet for an hour. This first week is a schedule of increased time wearing it so he can get used to it. Starting at the end of this week, he’ll wear it 23 hours a day. He’ll have it for 3 to 6 months, depending on his growth.

DSC_4669-3

DSC_0645-5

It’s been a few days now, so he’s worn it for hours at a time, including for naps. He seems to be doing just fine with it. When we go to put it on him, he moves his head around to look at it, and then I swear, he recognizes it and lowers his head so we can put it on. When we take it off, his head is sweaty and his considerable hair is plastered to his forehead. But that’s just how it goes, so we’ll be washing his hair and cleaning the helmet every day during the one-hour break.

Okay, so those are all the facts about Emmett’s helmet.

Now for my feelings.

I’ll sum up: as the orthotist put the helmet on him that first time, tears welled up and rolled down.

When the craniofacialist confirmed the flatness for both and that Emmett would probably need a helmet, I felt my heart sink. Sadness. Guilt.

My poor little babies. Their heads were perfectly fine when they were born. But since they slept in the Rock N Plays pretty much all day and night for the first however many weeks and months, and they both leaned their heads to the right, they got flat spots on that side. I could have held them more. Or forced them to sleep in the co-sleeper (they didn’t sleep as well in there and also spit up more). I could have carried or wore them more. (With naps, feedings, and pumpings, and two babies…I don’t know how.)

The specialist told us that twins are extra susceptible to flat heads, especially Twin A’s (the twin closer to the ‘exit’, if you will). Emmett was our Twin A and his head was wedged in my pelvis for the last three months in utero (Malcolm was breech; neither of them ever flipped), so I guess it’s logical that his little skull already had some extra pressure on it.

So in theory, it happens to a lot of babies and it’s not my fault. But I still feel like it’s my fault, like I let him down, like I didn’t do my job. I dreaded the fact that something was Officially Wrong with one of my babies. We have been so incredibly lucky that our babies have been so healthy thus far. I know that many twins have a lot of medical issues right away, and that sadly many babies come down with flu, RSV, whooping cough, and all kinds of other scary things. We’ve avoided all that so far. I also know that flat heads and helmets aren’t really a health problem, and that he’s still a healthy baby, and I should shut the fuck up with my whining.

But oh, my sweet little baby. We already get looks and comments all the time because they’re twins–and now there’s another reason people might gawk and say dumb shit. He won’t know any better, but I will. I know that we’ll be glad to be helping his head round out, and it’s only temporary, and he won’t remember, but I feel bad that we’re making him look ‘different.’

I’m getting used to it, sort of. I’m happy that Emmett doesn’t care and is his usual self. I still think he’s really cute. It’s harder to kiss his adorable little face with the helmet in the way. And I still have a little sinking, sad feeling when I see it. My poor baby.

Nobody’s perfect, and everyone has a ‘thing’ or issue. But I didn’t think I’d have to accept imperfections for my small babies quite yet. I know that over time there will be plenty more and it won’t be a big deal. Maybe this first hurdle is the biggest.

DSC_4927-2

Update: He outgrew the helmet three months later! Read the post here with more details about the experience with the helmet.

Couch potato

You know, I’ve been un-pregnant for three months now. I figured my body wouldn’t hurt anymore. But somehow lately, everything kind of aches. My shoulders, my back, my hips, my calves.

Most days, I spend literally 19 hours a day sitting on the couch. I also tend to hunch over when I’m at the sink or changing table (though I finally got some risers to get the table higher, and that was a big help), and when I’m on the laptop my shoulders tense and hunch upwards. Honestly, for the past few weeks, it feels like the entire day is uncomfortable somehow. And now that I’ve started to notice it, it’s worse because I don’t know how to fix it or prevent it.

Every so often I’ll notice my shoulders and try to un-tense them. When I try to relax, though, I think I tense my lower back. Also, the tension creeps back within seconds or never un-tensed in the first place. At this very moment I’m typing around the pump, as I so often do nowadays, and that makes the shoulder tensing worse, because my elbows are forced outward a bit, so the position is unnatural and my shoulders and back seem to be over-compensating. In other words, it kind of hurts just to sit here sometimes.

A couple days a week, I go out for a walk for 30-40 minutes, which I think has helped melt off some pounds and inches, but doesn’t seem to do much to undo the muscle fatigue. (Muscle ‘fatigue’ of sitting on my ass all day? Get a grip. I don’t know what else to call it, though. Laziness ache? Couch potato syndrome?) I’ve been trying to stretch a bit while I’m moving around the house–lunges to stretch my atrophying hip flexors and calves, forward bends to relax my lower back. Those brief stretches feel good, but it still isn’t enough. Neither is walking. It’s like I need to do the physical opposite of sitting to undo the damage. I don’t mean standing, I mean the angles need to swap. Instead of sitting in a 90 degree angle, I need to stretch to a 270 degree angle! Haha, can you imagine!

I’m starting to wonder if lying down in bed more would help. I’m still only getting about five hours of sleep, which is also not helping because I am so tired. But lying straight instead of sitting up is probably less stressful on my body. I certainly don’t hunch my shoulders when I’m sleeping! Doctor Self, I’m prescribing ten hours of sleep a night to combat your aches! Along with weekly massages and jacuzzi baths!

One major problem: there’s no end in sight for the sitting. I’m still pumping five times a day for 30-50 minutes. On the couch. Often that doesn’t overlap with feeding the babies. Can’t exactly do that on-the-go, so on-the-couch I am. This week I’m starting some work from home again, and you can guess where I’ll be stationed!

I do have some yoga-ish dvds that I think would feel really good. It’s just a matter of finding time and space to do that during the day. Not as easy as it might sound, unfortunately.

I hope I can find some solution that works, so my body will start feeling good again. Or at least stop feeling so uncomfortable.

Sigh.

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.