Saturday, December 4, 2010

We Have Teeth!

Victoria has sprouted her first two teeth at the same time! I was doing my usual check for teeth today and I was so surprised to feel not one but two bumpy ridges on her lower jaw that were not there yesterday!

I'm so ridiculously excited about this!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

M.I.A.

Yep - that's me...been gone for quite some time. No excuse...just been so busy and with Christmas approaching, been busy trying to get the shopping done.

Since the kids started solid foods, I have committed (or maybe it is that I should BE committed) to making all of their food with as many organic ingredients as I can get my hands on. My Mom will also be traveling during Christmas and will be gone for a month so I have been furiously stock piling food for both the kids and for my DH and I so we won't just eat take out when she's not here.

Still no nanny. Couldn't find someone suitable for our part-time position so we decided to take a break for now. I have the contact information of two nanny agencies where I can hire someone on a casual basis at a moment's notice to help me if I'm having a rough day.

The girls have grown so much and I can't believe how much they have changed over the past few weeks. Both my girls are babbling quite a lot now. It's funny that Caitlyn, my mini-me, said "Mama" first and Victoria, my DH's mini-me, said "Baba" first! It's so sweet to hear them call out...I don't think they associate those sounds with us yet but I like to pretend that they do and I answer them each time so hopefully they will begin to learn that Mama is ME! I think my girls are starting to recognize and respond to their names. When I call them by name, they will turn and look at me which is really cool.

As far as mobility, neither one is crawling yet although they have learned that they can pretty much well roll to wherever they want to go. Victoria can pivot around 360 degrees so she can get where she wants to go pretty fast. Neither one of my girls is sitting up on their own yet - they can balance for a few seconds but then they like to flop backwards into my lap as they think that this whole sitting up thing is a game. No teeth yet.

In terms of sleeping, my girls still go to bed really early - around 5:30pm. Victoria has taken to napping for about an hour and a half to two hours each morning and another hour and 20 minutes in the afternoon. Caitlyn on the other hand likes to nap for around an hour in the morning and just a half hour in the afternoon. Her second nap was very problematic for a long time - she would refuse to take a nap entirely or when she finally did nap, she only did so for 10-15 minutes. I adjusted her bedtime up to 5pm for a few weeks and that seemed to do the trick in that she started taking an afternoon nap again. I was concerned with it being so short at just 30 minutes but she wakes up happy from this nap and she also doesn't get cranky and whiny at 4pm like she used to. So, I have accepted the fact that Caitlyn needs less sleep than Victoria and everyone is happy and well rested.

About 2 weeks ago, we dropped the last night feed. The girls just didn't seem to need it anymore. They slept through a few nights on their own and surprised us and then when we did go in to give them bottles, they didn't seem to want the whole bottle and that just told us that they were not really that hungry. They were getting up more out of habit than out of hunger. So, we stopped cold turkey. The first 2 nights were kind of rough with some extended crying bouts during which we could not allow ourselves to go in, but then after that, they have slept through the night since. There is the occasional complaint here and there but otherwise, we have not done a night feed in 2 weeks! I finally stopped pumping in the middle of the night this week as I continued just in case we needed to do a night feed but I finally let that go as well as I was freezing bags and bags of EBM. It is a relief not to have to get up but it is also kind of sad as well...the girls are growing up!

At their last checkup last month at 8 months (we went in for a weight check only), Victoria was 14lbs 11oz and Caitlyn was 16lbs 10oz. The weight difference has increased to almost 2lbs. Since then, I have been sneaking avocado into as many meals for Victoria as I can to try to fatten her up. I can't feed her egg yolk because last few times I did, she threw up after eating it so no egg yolk for her! I also have started feeding them full fat yogurt and they eat a variety of meats and veggies. Latest fruits they've tried are blueberries, mango and kiwi and they have eaten salmon, beef, chicken and pork. I still nurse them 3 times a day (morning, mid-morning snack and mid-afternoon snack) plus they get a bottle with dinner but I worry about them not getting enough fluids. It's always a delicate balancing act...too much solids, not enough room for fluids and then they get constipated. Too much fluids, not enough room for solids and so they don't stay as full for as long.

My DH and I will be venturing out next week for a date. Our first one since our Anniversary back in September. The girls are sleeping a lot more soundly so we are not as nervous about leaving them with someone who would have to listen to them cry the entire night. My Mom has graciously agreed to babysit for us so we can get out to a 7pm showing of Harry Potter - we're big fans and very excited to see it next week. Imagine - haven't been to a movie in over a year! We never wanted to go out before because the girls would always wake up and cry out periodically in the night. If we put them down for 6pm, we would hear someone at 7pm cry, then again probably at 8:30pm, again at 10pm...you get the idea. Now, they go to sleep around 5:30pm and we don't hear a peep from them until maybe midnight if at all. Sometimes they sleep right through without a sound until around 4am the next morning! In any event, we are starting to venture out again here and there.

So that's about it for now. Anyone want to know anything about what's going on developmentally or otherwise? Ask away...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's Canadian Thanksgiving up here and there is a lot that we have been thinking about this weekend. Of course, there are all of the things that we are thankful for that we are thinking about, top of the list the two beautiful baby girls that are sleeping in the room next to this one right now. We've come a long way since last year at this time.

I think a lot about my IF sisters and my friends who helped me through this whole process...I give thanks for your presence in my life and how you all helped me through such a difficult and challenging time in my life. I only wish I could do more for you all because I will always be so grateful for your support.

I haven't forgotten you all. I may not comment on your blogs as much as I used to but I still read them and try to give support as much as I can.

This weekend was nice, not too busy with one family celebration Sunday night. For having two small kids, I think my DH and I do pretty well with entertaining and such. We hosted the dinner and roasted the turkey and did a few side dishes on top of that. It's easier that way to have everyone come to us b/c we are not willing to sacrifice the girls' naps/bedtime to go out. We know the difference between a well rested happy child and a very cranky and tired unhappy child and believe me, two unhappy children are hard to handle so we opt for well rested and happy most days. Besides, it is not forever that they will need such an early bedtime and such structure to their sleeping patterns and we are setting them up for later on in life.

My poor little Caitlyn got a stomach bug today and was vomiting all over me this morning. She lost her entire breakfast all over me and then couldn't keep down all of her lunch. Poor thing. This is the first time she's been sick and we weren't sure what to do and I was concerned that she was going to be dehydrated so we called Telehealth Ontario (a free, government run program which puts you into contact with a registered nurse 24 hours/7 days a week for advice regarding whether to treat at home, go to your doctor or go to the hospital/emergency). They were great and coached us through what to do and what to monitor for. Caitlyn was able to keep down her milk so I nursed her a little more frequently and then put her to bed without any solids. The nurse told me not to give her any solids until she hasn't thrown up for 8 hours, which would have been 10pm tonight and she's not up at that time. So, I'm probably going to have to get up to feed her a little more often tonight as she will likely be a little hungrier so I'd better get to bed.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone - I hope you had a good weekend!

My two baby girls...(Caitlyn on left, Victoria on right)


Thursday, September 23, 2010

10 Years Ago Today

We said "I do" and walked into the sunset of happily ever after.

Until we started to try to have kids.

I think of how far we have come and how we are no longer those innocent, bright eyed kids that ran down the aisle at the church, so eager to start living our life together. We thought that life would be all sunshine and a bed of roses. We had no idea what was in store for us a few years down the road.

We're not so innocent anymore. We're not so naive.

However, my marriage is so much stronger than it was when we started out. Everything that IF put us through has made our marriage rock solid. All that we went through, we suffered through together, each one holding the other one up when we couldn't stand on our own. When IF dealt us blows that we didn't think we could withstand, instead of letting it drive us apart, we grew closer together. We stared into each others eyes and told each other that somehow, someday, it would be okay and that we would get through this.

I don't doubt for a minute that my husband loves me. I don't doubt for a second that he would do anything for me. I don't doubt that together, we can withstand anything life throws at us. I will hold his hand through anything as he will hold mine.

Happy 10th Anniversary Honey - you're the best and I love you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good Help is Hard to Find These Days

I've been looking for someone to help me on a part-time basis for the last month and a half as my first nanny went back to work on a full-time basis for the family that sponsored her. I knew this was always a temporary arrangement and only for the summer but I think I was kind of hoping I could do it all on my own in the fall and save the money. I've proven to myself in these past few weeks sans nanny that I can do it by myself, but it is really tiring and I have a hard time dealing with the blips in "normal"...like when someone has a sleepless night or when the time comes, the first illness or a cold or egads, teething. On of my friends gently asked me if saving the money was worth the price of my sanity and she's right. I gotta stop being so cheap and just go out and find someone.

I had started out with very high hopes using the website www.canadiannanny.ca and I paid the membership fee of $85 to gain access to their listing of nannies but to be honest, I've been pretty disappointed in the quality of the candidates that I have been seeing. I think that if we were looking for a full-time nanny, we would likely be seeing more potential nannies but for what I'm looking for, I don't get that much serious interest.

I am upfront about what we need and I am very clear that this is a part-time position 3 mornings a week but I still get yahoos applying for the job and I get the sense that it is as a backup until they find full-time work and then will leave us. A lot of these nannies contact me, set up an interview and then not show up which is a complete waste of my time and extremely irritating. At the worst point, we had two interviews with two different potential nannies booked Sunday night and Monday night and neither one showed up. ARGH! I actually called the first no show to see if she was okay and if she was still coming and someone else answered the phone. When the twit realized that it was me, suddenly my call was disconnected and the cell phone turned off when I tried to call back. If you're not going to come, at least tell me. As it was, my poor DH was sitting outside with Daisy each night so that if the nanny arrived, Daisy wouldn't bark at the doorbell. Waste of our time - geez.

After suffering through this horrible process, we decided to take a break and are now back looking again but going about this in an entirely different manner.

We've decided to hire one or two Early Childhood Education students from one of the local universities to cover the 15 hours/week I'm looking for help. I've got job postings submitted at three of the universities that have ECE programs and hopefully, we'll see some better, more suitable candidates for our job.

All I know is that I don't want to see any more irresponsible, rude and flaky potential nannies that waste my time. The best part is that the career centers at each of these universities will allow you to do a job posting for FREE. I hope that someone with a good attitude who wants the experience of working with twins will apply for our job. Really, we can't see any worse candidates...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Very "Solid" Start to Solids

As I mentioned in my last post, we started solids a few days ago. I was pretty excited to get to this major milestone and eagerly anticipating seeing my girls develop into foodies just like Mama and Baba. I had visions in my head of offering a spoon full of wholesome, organic fruit or vegetable goodness to my girls and having them joyfully opening up their mouths to eat it (and getting it all in of course without any mess! Hey - it's my fantasy!).

So here's your opportunity to feel a little superior for a moment as I have managed to bungle up this new food introduction pretty good. Due to my overenthusiastic efforts to introduce solids, my poor little Victoria is now constipated. I had to watch her scream and cry through a bowel movement today and wipe the tears from her eyes as she struggled to pass everything that I had been joyfully spooning into her. Now let me qualify - she isn't technically constipated in that her stools are still soft but they are the firmest they have ever been in her lifetime and she really struggles to pass them (sorry TMI).

I have to admit that I didn't have a lot of time to do any reading...I just quickly read through the short section in the What to Expect book (in the first year - not the pregnancy one) and thought "Okay - we'll just feed them a little bit...just until they don't want any more." There was not a lot of information in that particular book and they didn't really include any quantities or how much to give them so I started off with 1tbsp of rice cereal per the package instructions. After the initial shock and resistance to the introduction of solids, my girls showed great interest in having more so I prepared and fed them more and more cereal until they didn't want any more. This translated into 2-3 tbsp of cereal plus about 1/4 of an avocado (the next thing I introduced) mixed in. Then I had a tiny bowl of mashed bananas, maybe about 1 tbsp of that on the side as that was the 3rd thing I was introducing. It was about 3-4 tbsp of food in total which doesn't sound like a lot...but for a 7 month old, I guess it is a lot.

I had read that at this point, the introduction of solids should not replace BF but rather, the aim is to get them used to chewing and moving the food from the front of their mouths to the back and then swallowing it. They aren't supposed to be getting any real nutrition from this food - it's more for "learning and enjoyment" as one book put it (so I read after). I didn't understand how introducing solids could not have an impact on how much milk they were drinking - there is only so much room and if I'm feeding them until they don't want any more, how does that not replace even a small portion of the milk they would have drank? I quickly discovered that with so much solid foods added, they were beginning to not have enough room for milk when I would go to nurse them.

Tonight, after putting the girls to bed, I started consulting Dr. Google and called my sister about how to go about introducing solids properly. Wow did I make a lot of mistakes!

Mistake #1: starting with rice cereal and feeding it to the kids in a large quantity as a base for all of their meals. Did you know that rice cereal (and rice in general) is constipating? I didn't! (It's okay - you can feel superior...I give you permission!) I just thought rice was easy to digest and all of the resources I had consulted prior to today pointed at rice cereal as the first and most obvious choice to introduce solids. Besides, I'm Asian so rice as a first meal seemed like a natural choice.

Mistake #2: feeding the girls such large quantities of the new solid I am introducing. I now know that introducing solids is just that - an introduction to the tune of about 1tsp to 1tbsp *in total* depending on whose opinion you've solicited. Now in my defense, I have this recipe book that I do quite like that provides recipes by age and introduction of solid foods and it talks about a portion size at this stage as being something like a half of an avocado which sounds enormous for a small child IMHO. I thought I was okay by feeding them a portion which is a lot less than half of an avocado but I was still giving them too much. So, tomorrow it's back to just 1tbsp of whatever it is that I'm introducing.

Mistake #3: choosing banana as a first fruit. Did you know that bananas are also constipating in nature?? I didn't (again, here you may feel superior - it's okay, really)! In what little reading I did beforehand, many books recommend starting off with bananas as a first fruit as it is sweet and can be readily mashed to the appropriate consistency. So here I am, merrily feeding my kids not one but two constipating causing foods in their first exposure to solid foods. I obviously have more reading to do about the effect that various foods will have on one's digestive system.

Mistake #4: feeding the girls solids 2x/day. So apparently, when introducing solids, you're supposed to do it just once a day in tiny quantities (i.e. 1tbsp or less) which is how this can be done without any impact to BF at this point.

Mistake #5: introducing solids before BF. Apparently, the way to do it is to introduce solids after breastfeeding to ensure that they don't fill up on solids yet as they aren't supposed to be getting their nutrition from this source at this point. Breast milk should still be the primary source of their calories. I gave them solids before BFing because I wanted them to be hungry and therefore more receptive to new tastes and textures but at this point you're not supposed to do that. Who knew?

So there you have it - in 5 short days I have managed to wreak havoc on my little one's digestive system. My sister recommended a book called The Baby's Table which I will be picking up tomorrow and it includes important information such as serving sizes and frequency of servings along with a sample menu plan. This book will help me to get from introduction up to the full transition to solid foods which is exactly what I'm looking for. This would have been so helpful to have had last week. However, better late than never and I know this is a learning process for the both of us.

So sorry to have constipated you Victoria - I hope you forgive Mama...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What are they up to now?

I thought it would be fun to update you on what Victoria and Caitlyn are doing these days as it is always interesting to see what new things they have learned or recently mastered. They just turned 7 months old and I find that so hard to believe, just like I'm having a hard time believing it is already September! I must say that this is a really fun age where they are more and more interactive, not just with me but with each other which is really cute to watch. Just today, Victoria was looking at Caitlyn and smiling right at her and cooing which I thought was really cute.

First off - we went to the doctor's today for the last of their vaccine shots so we're injection free until 1 year now (phew!). While we were there, of course we took the opportunity to weigh them and Caitlyn was 14lbs 10oz and Victoria was 13lbs 5oz. They're still pretty small and of more concern is that Victoria has not put on as much weight as Caitlyn has and the difference is widening between them. They used to be just a half pound different but now the gap has increased to a full pound and a half difference in their weights. I know that they are different kids but Victoria still should have put on more weight given her length which is still normal. So, we're going to let her keep her night feed and try to make sure she gets an extra bottle that way as Caitlyn normally sleeps through the night unless Victoria wakes her up.

Onto developmental milestones...Victoria has mastered rolling over from back to front in both directions and is actually quite quick and fast at it. She can now flip from front onto her back but does this less than the other move as she prefers to be on her stomach. Caitlyn can now roll over from back to front but she is less inclined to do so as she prefers to be on her back. If I get her started, she'll finish rolling over but she doesn't know how to go back the other way and will get stuck and cry. Neither one of my girls are able to sit in an upright position without assistance however they do hold their heads up when they are pulling up to the sitting position from the ground (rather than letting their heads hang backwards).

They are both laughing and cooing which is absolutely adorable. My Mom was sitting in the back seat of the car with them today, making sure that no one fell asleep on the ride home from the doctor's office and Caitlyn was just giggling away at her antics. It was truly adorable to hear her little giggle - sweet! Victoria also likes to coo really softly, so softly that it sounds a lot like heavy breathing but just way cuter - I call it her "Baby Darth Vadar" imitation and have been trying to capture it on video.

Both of my girls are starting to reach out and grab stuff so we have to be careful when we sit them down in our laps. Victoria is going to be a dentist when she grows up because she just loves to brush her gums. When she sees the toothbrush, her little hand will reach out and grab it and she'll stick it in her mouth and move it back and forth. Sometimes I'll have to pry it out of her hands as she just wants to keep brushing!

Our next big thing is that we're starting solids tomorrow! I'm excited to see what their reaction is to something new although rice cereal doesn't sound that appetizing to me in the least. I guess their taste buds are developing and they are really tasting things very keenly. I gave them some infant Tylenol today just in case they had an adverse reaction to the shot and they both decided that today, they just didn't like the flavour at all. I find that so hard to believe - it's the white grape flavour and it must be sweet but both girls screwed up their faces and frowned. Victoria absolutely hates it and will spit out as much as I manage to get into her mouth. The only thing I can think of is that it is too sweet for their tastes right now. I've tried hiding it in milk but that doesn't go down well either so I'm glad that it appears that they don't really need it this time but I'm stuck if they really do need the medicine and I can't get it in them. Anyway, I'm excited to try solids tomorrow and it will be interesting to see what they like or don't like. Their little faces can't lie at this age and to see the look of absolute enjoyment/disgust is pretty funny.

So that's it for now. Everyone is doing well but I gotta work on fattening up my little Victoria.

Dumb Pride?

From June to the end of August, we've had a part-time nanny come and help me out in the mornings 3 days a week and it has been so wonderful to have the extra help. This was only a summer arrangement and she has now returned back to her full-time position so I am without a nanny now. My Mom still comes 2x/week to help me out but we have been trying to hire someone else and I find myself very reluctant to do so. It's the thought of having to explain everything to someone new, getting the kids adjusted to someone else and then having yet another stranger in my house. I always wanted to take care of the kids myself with a little help from my Mom and I know I will be really tired doing so but is it dumb pride that is preventing me from getting another nanny? What is the reluctance I'm feeling all about?

Part of it is the money I have to admit. We are down to one salary and I am very cognizant that this is another expense we would have to absorb. Am I just being naive to think that I can manage on my own? We haven't even started the really fun stuff yet like eating solids, crawling or walking. Am I deluding myself into thinking I can do this on my own? Is it some strange desire to be some super-Mom to make up for my short-comings in the past (i.e. my inability to have kids without major medical intervention)? Am I setting myself up to implode?

What do you guys think??

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Fine Art of Flexibility

We had a very busy week last week and I headed into it with a little trepidation, wondering how the kids would do with so much disruption to their sleeping/napping schedule. My DH told me that he thought I can be, at times, too rigid and inflexible regarding where and when the kids nap so I thought that for once, this week I would just go with whatever happened. I would deal with the fallout, whatever that turned out to be.

Wednesday we headed out for lunch with our nanny as her time with us has come to an end (she was only with us for the summer). Lunch of course coincides with what was, at that point, turning into their major 2nd nap of the day which happens around noon. I let them nap in the car on the way there, hoping that they would stay asleep while we had a nice lunch and adult conversation. Ha - their little eyes popped open as soon as we walked into the restaurant. They then fell asleep in the car on the way home only to wake up once I pulled into the driveway. Great...2 small naps instead of one long nap. I was expecting bedtime to be even more of a battle but surprisingly, it wasn't and they slept pretty soundly, only getting up once to feed at around 2am. Not too bad in my mind!

Thursday was my DH's 40th birthday and we headed out for yet another lunch with the family. This time they made it to the restaurant without falling asleep at all and then stayed up through the entire lunch which put them waaay past their normal time to nap. Of course, during the ride home, they fell asleep so I rushed them upstairs in their car seats, darkened the room and then transferred them into their cribs successfully without them waking up too much. Miracle! That night, bedtime was not that bad at all with only a little minor fussing 45 minutes into their evening sleep. I was really beginning to wonder if my DH was right about my being too rigid and inflexible with their sleeping/napping schedule.

Friday was my cousin's wedding and the service was at 1pm, right when the girls were supposed to be asleep. I don't know if it was a culmination of the sleep deprivation from the previous 2 days, but my two girls had a super long morning nap and so were able to stay up for the service. They were put to nap at 3pm when we got home and after we fed them and they had a good 2nd nap lasting about an hour. They then proceeded to sleep well that night while we were away at the reception.

I was worried that all this disruption to their sleeping schedules would come back to bite us Saturday for sure but to our surprise, they slept through the night with minimal fussing. We didn't have to get up at all to feed them. Gasp!

Sunday we had a family BBQ for my DH's 40th birthday and the girls napped well again during the day, often falling asleep in whoever's arms they were in at the time. Victoria had a restless night last night up until about 11pm but after that, she seemed to sleep very well.

So, I learned this past week that being a little flexible doesn't result in catastrophe when it comes to their sleeping/napping schedules. They also got to get out and see so many new things and experience so many different events like lunches out, weddings and family gatherings. There has to be a balance and I hope that the trade off between good sleep and being at home and the new experiences they got is worth it.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BF Post Part II

First of all, thanks to everyone who chimed in with some comments and helpful advice on my last post about separation anxiety. To clarify, I am completely attached at the hip with my two girls but it is really hard for me to hear them cry when I so much as leave the room. They cry if I'm in a store with them and I've been behind the stroller too long and they can't see me. I love that they love me so much but I wish they weren't so afraid of...well, afraid of the world it seems. In any event, I'm hoping this is a phase they're going through and that they'll grow out of it.

Back to the topic of the hour...

Part II of my post about BF. These are observations that I didn't necessarily read about in a book that I thought would have been useful to know. These are just my ramblings and random thoughts about BF and I know everyone is different so take what I say with a grain of salt. I'm no expert and I'm not pretending to be some lactation guru or anything like that. This is just me, my experience, my thoughts.

In no particular order, here goes...
  • Did you know that you can have lots and lots of milk and a very good supply, but it is actually the removal of that milk from the breast that will help to maintain that good supply? If you are no good at milk delivery, you will then be no good at milk production either. There is a protein in breastmilk called the "feedback inhibitor of lactation (FIL)" that builds up in the milk that is left in your breast. The more milk that is left in your breast, the greater the FIL. This then signals your body to stop making so much milk. I used to think that if you had lots of milk and didn't pump it out, it would remain there in your breast for the next feed, not realizing that leaving it in my breast over and over again was negatively affecting my supply!

  • my milk supply varies depending on the time of day. I don't have the same amount of milk all day long. I knew that the hormone that makes milk is manufactured by your body overnight so your milk levels tend to be highest overnight and in the morning, but I would have thought that your body would do a better job of portioning out that hormone throughout the day based on demand. In my experience, I found that my supply was really low around dinnertime which was very frustrating for both the kids and myself because they wouldn't nurse and nurse and nurse and not be full only to be put to bed and then wake up pretty quickly because they were still hungry. To combat this, we've been giving them bottles of EBM for the last feed of the night before bed instead of nursing so we ensure that they get a full feed. The girls are also much faster at taking a bottle than they are BFing so it makes the bedtime routine more predictable and shorter in duration.
  • you have to be really careful about the whole supply=demand thing. I do have enough to feed both my girls without any formula but I don't necessarily have the milk when I need it (see the point above). This is another reason why I pump - to keep up my supply and to ensure I have enough at other points of day when my supply is low.

  • the thing I struggle with the most right now is getting a letdown of the milk. I can feel that I still have milk in my breasts but I can't seem to have a let down. I try to put on a warm compress right before nursing and that seems to help

  • did you know that you have more than one let down in a nursing session? Apparently you'll have about 2.5 letdowns in one session and I have to make sure that the girls are patient enough to nurse through the first letdown and get to the second letdown. Sometimes, if I'm having trouble getting a letdown, I'll take the first one off the breast, nurse the second one on the other breast and then return the first one back to the original breast she was on. The little break seems to help me get the second letdown so the girls get all the milk that's in my breast.

  • breast milk tastes different depending on when it was produced and whether it's fresh vs. frozen. My girls can tell when there is frozen breast milk added into their fresh EBM and Caitlyn has refused to drink it because the taste is so different to her. She'll take a sip from the bottle and then spit the nipple out and do that over and over again. The very first time she had frozen milk, she made such a face and then blew a raspberry at her father who had the misfortune of feeding her at the time! Needless to say, Daddy got a very clear message about what Caitlyn thought of the frozen milk in addition to being sprayed! Picky picky!

  • my bra cup size jumped from a "C" to a "DD" (or an "E" depending on which naming convention you're following according to my friend L!) and I think that's the normal increase - 2 cup sizes. Never would have believed it until it happened to me but yes, it's true. I think my boobs are going to sag afterward too when they shrink back to their original size. For the time being, I'm enjoying being so busty cause it ain't going to last!

  • if you're going to pump on a long-term basis, it is so worth the $20 to buy a hands-free bra for the pumping unit. It really frees up your hands to do something else while pumping. When I think about the early days when I was so tired and just sitting there, comatose, and holding onto the horns with my hands and falling asleep and losing some precious milk because the horns weren't on just so...totally worth the money I spent to get the bra so I could stop holding the pump up.

  • they say that there are signs that indicate whether your child is BF properly. They include a wiggle in the ear, a pause in the chin dropping down and audible swallowing. As far as my two kids are concerned, I only started hearing swallowing about 3 months ago (they're now 6 months old) and I still have a hard time hearing Victoria swallow. Neither of my girls' ears wiggle when they swallow but I do see the pausing in the chin dropping down when they are BF really well. They say the pause is on account of their mouths filling up with milk which I believe because after these long pauses, that is when I hear the audible swallowing.
That's all that comes to mind for now. Anyone have any questions or want to know something specific that I don't talk about already? Ask away...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Separation Anxiety

I think Caitlyn is having separation anxiety. Yesterday, while shopping at Costco, my DH was pushing the stroller and he wandered off away from me. Caitlyn could not see me and she started getting more and more upset and anxious. Then the crying started, so loud I could hear it from where I was standing in line. By the time I finally got checked out and back over to them, she was very, very upset. She was so upset that by the time we got to the car and I had loaded her in, she wanted nothing to do with not having Mama around and she just started screaming, so much so that I thought she was hurt in some way. I know what complaining crying sounds like and this was not it - this was full blown, full body screaming and she was UPSET. I had to take her out of her car seat to console her and there were still catches in her breathing for at least a half hour after.

Anyone have any good suggestions on how to deal with separation anxiety and is there anything you can do to help it to pass? I can't even take her out to the grocery store now without her getting upset...

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Post About My Experience Breastfeeding

Sue from A Good Egg asked me whether or not I am exclusively breastfeeding my twins. The short answer is yes. For those of you who are interested in the details and my experience with BF, read on...

I decided to write this post in response to Sue's question to me and also, I was reading through Jill's experience here and thought that it was a great idea to share all the gory details in the event that another new Mom trying to BF would benefit from my experience. I've split this topic into two posts - the first one being how I got to this point from the time the kids were born to now. The second post (to come) is about what I've observed along the way and my own personal experience.

Onto how I got to where I am today...

BF is not easy, at least it hasn't been easy for me. I have gotten where I have gotten out of sheer determination, bullheaded stubbornness, persistence, dedication and a very hot and heavy relationship with my Madela Pump 'n Style. I think that my breasts have a mind of their own and the key to breastfeeding is to think like a breast. I used to think that you could just stick the baby on your breast and everyone would magically know what to do. Wow was I wrong. I knew nothing about latching on, milk flow, let downs, milk ejection reflexes, oxytocin, blocked ducts...there turns out to be a lot to learn!

Since my babes were born 6 weeks early, they were in the NICU and Level II nursery for almost 3 weeks after they were born. My milk supply was slow to come in because I lost about 3L of blood at the delivery and I needed to physically recover first. I had next to no colostrum and my milk came in after about 10 days. I was able to start my supply by using a hospital grade breast pump and I was pumping about 8 times per day to simulate when and how many times the kids would have been BF. It was very discouraging at first as there would be so little in the bottle after each pumping session and sometimes, nothing at all so I started tracking the amount pumped per day on the recommendation of a lactation consultant. Slowly, ever so slowly, I saw the daily total rise which was encouraging and what I needed to see to continue. The chart was very simple - time pumped and how much I got with a column for every day of the week with a total at the bottom.

In the hospital, the girl both had feeding tubes down their noses through which they were fed formula and any few drops of colostrum that I was able to produce. The hospital was really good about not pushing formula but after three days of pumping 8 time a day with next to no colostrum coming out, we decided that we would give the girls formula. They had lost about 10% of their birth weight at that point which is normal but seeing as they were being fed next to nothing, I didn't see that sliding trend reversing anytime soon. I think the most colostrum I ever got was one half mL. We had to collect it using a syringe and I cringed as I had to split it in half so each of my girls only got 1/4 of a mL. Their stomachs at that point were only the size of marbles but still, 1/4 mL doesn't fill a marble.

For those of you who are struggling, I hope that this gives you hope - we started off on 100% formula with the girls being tube/bottle fed and over the course of the next 2 months, were able to progress to the point where they girls were transitioned completely off of formula and put onto 100% breast milk. Please don't get me wrong - I am not anti-formula. It saved my girls' lives as I did not have any milk to give them. Heck, *I* was formula fed as the wisdom at the time I was an infant said formula was better than breast milk. It is just my personal preference to feed my girls EBM (expressed breast milk).

When the feeding tubes were removed, the girls started BFing and bottle feeding all at the same time. When I was at the hospital for a feed, I would let them latch on and nurse as best they could and then I would give them a top up of EBM in a bottle. They would get so tired so easily being preemies and by topping them up with a bottle after each feed, they were getting more milk and therefore more calories for less effort. I am still continuing this practice even today. I BF them first and then offer them a top up bottle at every feed. This has more to do with my supply now but I am still topping them up.

We discovered soon after bringing them home that Caitlyn was tongue tied and needed to have her frenulum clipped. It was a simple in office procedure at the doctor's and apparently it is quite painless for them. What has to happen is that they had to keep Caitlyn's mouth open while them clamped the part of the frenulum they wanted to clip so that all of the blood was squeezed out. They had to keep the clamp on for a minute or two (which sound like an eternity to me as I chose to wait in the reception area while DH stayed with her and she screamed through the whole thing). The actual snip it self - a split second and then it was all over. No blood, no bleeding after and she wanted to nurse right away. There was no freezing or anesthetic needed and she was in an out the same day.

What breastfeeding looks like for me now on a typical day:
  • 6:30am wake up. Offer bottles of 30mL first with Tri-Vi-Sol vitamins added. Then nurse both individually for about 10-15 minutes each.
  • 10:00am wake up from nap and nurse both again for about the same amount of time offering top up bottles of 30mL again after nursing each one
  • 12:30pm nurse both and offer top up bottles of 50mL after. Both girls then go down for a nap which is their major nap of the day which lasts about 2 hours.
  • 3:00pm wake from nap and nurse again for about 10 minutes each. Offer top up bottles of 30mL after nursing
  • 5:30pm final bottle of 110mL and no nursing. Girls go down to bed at around 6pm for the night. I pump after they go down for about 20 minutes instead of nursing them. I usually get about 50mL from each breast.
  • 9:30pm pump for 20 minutes and get anywhere from 75mL to 100mL from each breast
  • 2:30am pump for 20 minutes and get about 150mL from each breast. Girls are usually awake and are fed and changed. Bottles of 110mL are given rather than nursing so that feed can be started and completed in 30 minutes and DH can help me.
Next post - things I have learned along the way and observations I've had about BF that I didn't read about in any books. Also, I wanted to open up the floor to answer any questions anyone else had about BF twins or just BF in general.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Frustrating Night

Victoria would not go back to sleep for the longest time tonight.

She began to fuss at 10:30pm, just as I was about to go to bed. I changed her diaper, I rocked her right to sleep only to have her wake up again 15 minutes later for no apparent reason. This pattern continued - she would fuss and then get quiet for a few minutes, fuss again for a few minutes off and on. Nothing I did stopped the fussing for more than 15 minutes at a time. I fed her not once but twice and then rocked her again. I changed her PJs because she was sucking on her top so much that it was soaked. I rocked her again. I held her. I put her down, patted her back, rubbed her back and begged her to go to sleep.

Now it's 2am and she has finally fallen back asleep. I still don't know why she was fussing and crying off and on for so long. I guess it's just one of those mysteries I will never understand. Maybe she was suffering some teething pain? No pearly whites to show for all that fussing. I don't know. Just frustrated.

Blessedly, Caitlyn slept through all of this. There are some small mercies.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't They Look Like Us?

A fun post!

When we saw our kids, we knew they were ours. There was always a little remote fear in the back of my head that they weren't really ours and that someone else's egg and sperm were mistakenly mixed and labeled with our names at the lab. How else could you explain success after 7 years of IF? However, there are so many similarities that there is just no doubt. We're also very lucky in that Victoria looks exactly like my DH when he was a kid and Caitlyn looks exactly like I did when I was a kid. You be the judge. I couldn't figure out how to post the pictures side by side so I had to settle for one right after the other...

Me:

Caitlyn:


Me:


Caitlyn:


The resemblance is striking right? Caitlyn also has an ear tag and I had an ear tag as a child and I had completely forgotten that I even had one until my DH told me Caitlyn had one.

The resemblance gets even stronger with Victoria and my DH. See?

Victoria:


Daddy:


Daddy:


Victoria:


Daddy:


Are they our kids or what?!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

First Road Trip

It's a long weekend here and we braved up and took a road trip to visit my sister in Ottawa. That's a 4-5 hour drive from Toronto depending on how much traffic you hit and it was only after much discussion that we decided to take the plunge and just go for it. Yes, the kids would probably be off their routine but sometimes, changes to the routine are good. I want to continue to expose them to new environments, new people and new things so they aren't afraid of their own shadow and what better way than a little road trip?

I also figured that Ottawa was a very safe place for us to go...we were going to stay with my sister so she has one of everything already so we didn't have to bring up both of our things. Besides, there are a lot of helping hands in Ottawa so it's not as if we would be completely on our own either.

The plan was to leave at bedtime so the girls would fall asleep in the car and then sleep all the way up. We left at 6pm right on the dot which I thought was a pretty good accomplishment given that being on time with two small kids is a challenging feat these days. The girls fussed and cried for a few minutes but then fell asleep for a little while. This being Toronto though and the traffic to get out of the city being what it is on a Friday night of a long weekend, we hit stop-and-go congestion on the way out of the city. They woke up. They fussed and cried for about a half hour and then finally fell asleep shortly after 7pm. After that, they stayed asleep which was a relief as two crying kids in a small enclosed space...well, not fun by any stretch of the imagination.

We arrived in Ottawa at around 10:30pm and we even managed to get everything set up in our room and transfer the kids out of their car seats into their play pens without waking them up!! That was awesome as I was planning on feeding them and then trying to put them down after that if they woke up while being transferred. Not necessary - amazing! The kids were great and I was beginning to think that this wasn't such a bad idea to get away for a weekend.

Sure, it was a little inconvenient as I had to pump twice in the car on the way up but it was worth the effort to get there. I started feeling cocky and wondering if I could take the kids up to Ottawa myself without my DH when he travels later this fall. If traveling with the kids was that easy, a road trip by myself would be a piece of cake!

The weekend was a lot of fun with more social time with adults than I've had in a loooong time. We went out for brunch both days (I know! Two days in a row!!), enjoyed a BBQ dinner on Saturday at my sister's house, the weather was awesome...for a first road trip, this was fantastic. We couldn't have asked for a better weekend and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Then, the ride home.

Not so fantastic.

Let's say that I am not so cocky anymore and I won't be attempting a solo road trip anymore. We started out a half hour late and it doesn't sound like much, but we missed getting Victoria to bed on time and that resulted in an overtired child that fussed and cried the entire trip back.

The. Entire. Trip. Back.

The poor thing. I think part of the problem was that she was overtired and so then had trouble falling asleep. To compound the issue, she is a stomach sleeper and she realized that she wasn't sleeping on her stomach in her car seat like she wanted to which added to her general state of being upset. So, the result was one very upset child that fussed and cried off an on for the whole trip. Plus, when we got back into Toronto, the highway lights really bothered them and both girls woke up even though I had draped their car seats with blankets to stop the lights from shining directly into their eyes.

I was exhausted when we got home from listening to all the crying. As both girls were wide awake, we decided to feed them and then put them to bed again. They happily ate their extra meal but then very unhappily went to bed, loudly complaining (read: screaming) for a half hour before finally settling down to sleep. I also realized that if I attempted to make this return trip by myself, I would have had to get the two kids into the house and fed when I got home late at night plus then I would have to unpack the car by myself, all after driving for 4 hours straight. No can do - I'm not that energetic unfortunately.

A great weekend until the trip back home. We don't regret going but we are certainly noticing the impact this has had on the girls. Victoria is still a little out of sorts with her napping and sleeping still not back to normal yet but we are working our way through that and it is getting better. I'm glad they were exposed to so many new things and with all things, it's a trade off. We're juggling as best we can and figuring things out along the way but this was one trade off that I think was worth a few days/nights of bad sleeping.

Yay road trip!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cute and Funny Story

During the bedtime routine after I had fed the girls tonight, I was tidying up and getting ready for our big weekend away and I heard the following "conversation" behind me:

Victoria: (flipping over onto her stomach) BURP!

Caitlyn: "hehe"

I burst out laughing it was so CUTE!!! They were facing each other and looking each other in the eye so Caitlyn's giggle was for sure in response to Victoria's burp! Their very first conversation and I really hope that this means they will be best friends for life!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writer's Block

I haven't written in a while. I've started many posts but haven't completed them. Some of them are just titles and then I sit there and stare at the screen, lots of stuff whirling around in my head and none of it making it onto the page in front of me.

After thinking about this for some time, I think I've finally figured out what was causing my "writer's block". After everything that we have been through to get to this point, I know we got lucky. I know that every day that I get to stare into my beautiful babies' eyes. I know that not everyone that walks along the road of IF get to take the turnpike marked "BABY". There are still a large number of my sisters who are still yearning for their babies and not knowing how or if they will be able to have them at all. Like I said, I know we got lucky.

I feel somehow that since I got to have children, that the Universe smiled at me one day and IVF finally worked for me, I've lost my right to have any concerns. Life should be simply perfect shouldn't it? What more could I possibly want? I have a loving husband, two beautiful children, a wonderful dog, supportive friends and family...to have worries after having achieved the dream seems almost obnoxious. Sometimes I feel as if having concerns is like having complaints and that seems like I'm being entirely ungrateful for what I do have but that is not the case.

I didn't struggle with what to write about when we were cycling and contemplating next steps for treatment...IF was my rallying cry and I had found this wonderful online community with others like me. Now, I feel as though when I write about things, I must tread carefully, softly, for who wants to read whiny blog posts when so many are still chasing the dream? I've dabbled in writing about the day to day activities of my girls but that seems false and trite in light of the struggles of IF. It feels as if I am rubbing it in and that is not my intention at all. I feel like my posts should be all sunshine and light and anything but is a betrayal of every infertile's dream.

I can see that I have lots of visitors from all over the world and I'm curious to know a few things. Why do you read my blog? Are you reading this blog because you came across this from my IF blog and want to know where I am at now? Are you a new parent like I am? Is there anything that you would like to ask me about being on this side of the fence? I'd like to hear from you and I invite those who have been lurking for a while to drop me a line to tell me what you find interesting about my blog.

For now, I've decided that the central theme to my blog posts will be just as my tag line says...I am a new parent and I am trying to figure things out. I mean no one any disrespect and I am not complaining, truly. This is the place where I do it and like IF, I appreciate the advice and opinions to help me navigate through parenthood.

So that's it...all figured out for now.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rolling Right Along & Vaccine

Victoria has rolled over for the first time from her back to her front two nights ago! Granted, she was extremely frustrated trying to do so and she complained for about a half hour before actually being able to do it but she did it after being put to bed Tuesday night. We could see her trying and trying on the video monitor and she wiggled her way off camera and then all of a sudden, we noticed that we could see her bum facing up. Way to go girl!

The funny thing was that after all that hard work, she then proceeded to get stuck and complained about being on her tummy as she decided that she didn't like that position either and could we please turn her back over? She hasn't mastered the art of getting her shoulder out of the way so she turns her head and her whole body face down but then her shoulders remain unturned. Still a work in progress but she has done it once already. Our little girl is growing up!

Caitlyn calmly rolls over on her side with no issues but she hasn't yet made the full rotation to her tummy. She has started squirming around her crib though which was the first sign that Victoria was going to roll. We will often not find either one of them where we left them to fall asleep. Both our girls like to dangle their feet between the crib slats and we will often come into their room to find their little feet sticking out. It's really cute but I worry about their feet getting caught.

In other news, our girls got their second booster shot today for the diptheria/tetanus/polio vaccine and they had an awful reaction. We had decided to split up their vaccine shots so that they are only receiving one shot per month and I'm glad that we did as they seem to react in some way every time. So far it has been mostly irritability and crankiness after the shot with one rash after the last one for poor Victoria. This time, Victoria's little leg swelled up like a balloon and it was really red and painful to the touch. I accidentally was touching it while changing her diaper and she was just screaming in pain poor thing. We put cool cloths on it to stop the swelling and gave them both some Tylenol to help with the pain. Caitlyn's leg was not half as bad as Victoria's but it was still painful for her as she would cry as well when I touched her leg.

I had to call my Mom to help me this afternoon as Victoria would not allow me to put her down and I couldn't feed Caitlyn without an extra set of hands around. It was kind of funny actually - both girls were crying loudly in the background when I called my parents' house and when my Dad answered the phone, he could hear them crying away and me trying to soothe them saying "It's okay...you're okay girls" and he called for my Mom right away without even saying hello!

The girls were not running fevers and were still able to eat and nurse okay and I was even able to get them to nap in the afternoon so they were just highly uncomfortable from the shot. They were much fussier at bedtime tonight so we did no sleep training tonight. My goal was to comfort them as much as possible so they could sleep the poor things. Hopefully they will have slept off the effects of the vaccine and will wake up happy again tomorrow. My DH also came home early as he was really concerned when he heard how awfully they were reacting to the vaccine so he helped me to get through the late afternoon and evening.

I always think I can take care of them on my own but days like today with the vaccine really shake my confidence as I literally need another set of hands to hold one while I feed/comfort/carry the other one. Has anyone else's kids had bad reactions to the vaccine shots? How did you deal with it?

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Social Weekend

I will not talk about sleep training
I will not talk about sleep training
I will not talk about sleep training...much

All I'm going to say is that it's going much better than last time and I am learning to adjust and be adaptable with their sleep routine so that they are getting their naps in and there is less and less crying. I would not declare success quite just yet but I am encouraged by the progress we make every day.

We had a great day today and I managed to time their naps so that when I took them to a play group I signed them up for, they were wide awake and enjoyed every moment of it! Yay Mama!

This past weekend, it felt like we really rejoined the world in a social sense. There are long stretches of time where we use the weekends to recuperate and just rest from the week and it's enough to do groceries and chores around the house. Not this past weekend. We were quite the social butterflies and I am very proud of the girls and how they handled it.

Saturday for lunch my DH's family came over to visit with the girls. We made it out in the morning to get some groceries and then we had take-out pizza for lunch. It was nice for the girls to see their grandfather, aunt and cousin and lunch wasn't too bad since we got take-out. Still, we picked it up so we had to get out somewhere to go get it and that isn't always easy with the whole family in tow.

Saturday night I used to prepare for Sunday morning as we had friends visiting from B.C. and that was the only time we could see them. On Friday I baked two batches of muffins during nap time and froze them for the breakfast. Saturday night after the girls had gone to bed, I washed and cut up all of the fresh fruit and made up the pancake batter, keeping the dry ingredients separate from the wet ingredients but preparing everything so all I had to do was stir them together and then cook them. I also set the table, got all of the pans ready and lined with foil to cook the bacon and hash browns and made juice so I didn't have to worry about those little details the next day. All in all, the preparations ahead of time made for a very smooth sailing breakfast the next day although I did burn a few pancakes because I got distracted socializing!

Sunday night, we had another friend of ours come over for dinner. He's an airline pilot in Taiwan and we don't get to see him very often either so he was over for a good steak dinner which my DH BBQ'd in the rain. Talk about dedication to the grill! We kept it simple - steak, baked potato and grilled veggies which I prepped in the afternoon, again during a nap.

The wonderful thing is that we were so social this weekend and it felt good to be doing something in addition to changing poopy diapers and wiping up spit up. I'm grateful to have the poopy diapers to change mind you but it is nice to do something different and it was very refreshing. It proved to us that with a little advance planning and preparation, we can have some semblance of a social life once more!

Monday, June 21, 2010

We're At It Again...

...sleep training.

(did everyone just groan or was that my imagination?)

Our girls are now 20 weeks old or 14 weeks corrected gestational age. We decided to stop swaddling them last week and it seems as good a time as any to start teaching them the skills to fall asleep by themselves.

It really hit me how important this was today when I was dealing with both kids who were super cranky because their napping schedules were off. I've signed them up for a class run at the local community center called Babygym where you take your kids and do "age appropriate movement". It was fun but the time is from 9:45am to 10:30am, right smack dab in the middle of nap time. As I was scurrying back and forth between the two cribs, sticking pacifiers into mouths that were promptly being spit back out, shushing, jiggling, trying to pick one up and then then other, I really felt like a chicken with my head cut off. It was madness as I was trying to soothe both and succeeding at soothing neither. I finally ended up having to let Victoria cry it out and fall asleep like that because I simply only have two arms.

I've also noticed that Victoria has started going from zero to hysterical in a nanosecond because she knows that we tend to cater to her as she is louder and, well, she's just really loud. We started calling her "squeaky wheel" (which we have to stop) but that completely describes her. We are guilty of catering to her needs over Caitlyn's because she is just louder. There is no chance of Caitlyn getting down when Victoria is screaming so loudly. I swear this afternoon I heard ringing in my ears that is how loud Victoria was screaming.

I also feel like I am rewarding Victoria's bad behaviour. Her crying sounds to me like she's throwing a tantrum and by responding to it and always rushing to her side when she does that reinforces the bad behaviour. I'm not saying that I won't go to her if she's genuinely upset and needs me, but this hysterical crying at naptime and bedtime needs to stop. I will lose my hearing if it continues.

This time around, we have also decided to use graduated extinction where we will allow longer and longer intervals between when we will go in and console them. We decided on 2 minute intervals.

Tonight, it took one 2, 4, 6 and an 8 minute interval between crying fits and they fell asleep. Total time - 20 minutes of crying not including any soothing time. All in all, better than the extinction method. We'll see how this works out second time around.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No Teeth...Just a Virus

I took the kids to the pediatrician's today...I've been there three times in the last 7 days but better to be safe than sorry.

The pediatrician seems to think that the girls are NOT teething but rather have just caught a virus of some sort. He explained to me that the immunities that they picked up from me in the uterus are now starting to wear off and their own immune systems are taking over.

So, we monitor and wait. Caitlyn is still running a low grade fever at 98.5. Is that a fever really? Or, is that on the high side of normal? The girls continue to be sweet and smiling but they do get crankier when tired so they aren't back to their normal selves yet.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Biting

Caitlyn is definitely teething. She has taken to biting down on my nipple while nursing and I am desperate to try and figure out how to break that habit. I exclaim loudly "ouch!" and tell her that she hurts me when she bites down but she thinks it's a game and giggles back at me while smiling.

I'm going to try telling her firmly not to do it and stop nursing immediately and then sticking something more appropriate for her to chew on in her mouth.

I have to go shopping for a teething ring for her...the rattle I have has a teething part stuck on one end and it works but is a little on the big side for her tiny mouth.

Suggestions anyone??

Monday, June 14, 2010

Teething?

My girls are 19 weeks and 2 days old (almost 5 months old). Their corrected gestational age is 13 weeks and 2 days (a little over 3 months).

I think Caitlyn is teething!

The poor girl has been drooling of late but I didn't pay too much attention as I figure you'll hit a point with all babies where they will simply drool. Then today, she developed a warmer temperature than normal. She doesn't have a fever per say but she is warmer than she normally is. Her normal temp is around 36.2 whereas today it was 37.7 and my understanding is that anything over 38 is a fever.

She's also been very upset all day today which is not normal for her and she wants to be cuddled and held a lot more. She was crying so hard at bedtime and she wasn't comfortable enough until I gave her some Tylenol which took away the pain.

She has also been chomping down during nursing which is painful for me but I was reading in the books that the pressure from biting down on something helps to relieve the pain from teething.

I can't see any part of her gums that are swollen so I'm not 100% sure however all the signs seem to fit. My Mom told me that this cutting the first tooth can continue on for some time before you actually see it. I hope for her sake that it comes through quickly and the pain subsides.

My poor girl!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Bad, The Good & The Ugly

The Bad
I haven't blogged of late because it seems as though I only blog when things are not going well and realized that I focus on the negative aspects of what is going on in my life. I am not a drama queen, really. This is just my place to go when things are not going great so I can figure it all out. In sorting through my thoughts to get them down in a coherent way, I organize my own feelings and sift through what is bothering me. So, I guess that makes me a bad blogger so I'm going to try very hard to keep blogging about the good stuff too and celebrate the little milestones along the way. That leads me to...

The Good
My girls are doing so well. We went into the doctor's for another vaccine shot Wednesday and they are putting on weight really well. Victoria is 10lbs 15.8 oz so just 0.2 oz away from 11lbs. Caitlyn is 11lbs 8.1 oz. They've always been about a half pound apart in weight so they are putting it on at the same rate. They are generally very happy babies and when they cry, there is a reason (i.e. hungry, tired, dirty bum to name the most popular reasons). They are not colicky so we are really grateful for that. They're outgrowing their 3 month old clothing (their corrected gestational age is about 3 months now even though they are 4.5 months old by the calendar) and will soon graduate into size 2 diapers - sniff sniff!

In talking with a lot of other twin mommies, I realize that not everyone has been able to put their kids on the same schedule. Now by schedule, I don't mean that I watch the clock and at a certain time of day, I get them to do specific things like eat and sleep. By schedule, I mean that I get the two of them to do the same thing at the same time, whenever that time is. When one wakes up, I wake the other one up. When one eats, the other one eats. In general, they nap the same amount of time so when one starts crying for her bed, the other one is usually really close behind. This allows us to have some semblance of normalcy back in our lives. I know the girls usually sleep for 2 hours in the morning after they get up and then their naps are usually for an hour to an hour and a half for the rest of the day. I'm getting a lot better at reading their cues and responding to them appropriately. It may not sound like much, but I feel like I can interpret what they are trying to tell me and then act appropriately so I don't have two really upset kids on my hands to deal with by myself. Before they would cry and we would have to try to figure out what it is that they want but I have a pretty good grasp of what that is these days. That feels good.

The girls have started sleeping for longer stretches at night. One of the only good things to come out of our attempt at sleep training was that we discovered what the girls' bedtime is. I usually have them in bed by 5:30pm or by the latest at 6:00pm and we don't hear a peep out of them until about 10pm when they want to eat. They go down right away and then wake up again around 2:3am or 3am for another meal. Finally, they sleep after that meal until 6am so our nighttime has definitely improved and we are getting a tiny bit more sleep. Of course the temptation when they go to bed at 5:30 is to run around and do a bunch of stuff that we couldn't do during the day but we have to remember not to succumb to temptation and go to bed early!

In terms of other developmental milestones, they are now able to follow things with their eyes so when I shake a toy above their heads and go from side to side, they can follow me now. They have both discovered their hands and it is the funniest sound to hear them slurping away on their fingers on the monitor. Victoria has rolled twice now although it seemed to be more by accident rather than on purpose but we are now keeping a very close eye on her when she's on the change table. Both are smiling and cooing and we have very long and loud conversations consisting of absolutely nothing and everything wonderful.

The Ugly
So here is my confession. Last weekend I was by myself and I managed to drop not one but both girls on their heads while attempting to position them for tandem breastfeeding. We're all okay and the girls didn't even have a bruise at all but I could not stop crying. I felt like such a terrible Mother. My sister verbalized it the best...we're supposed to be their protector and when we ourselves are the ones that hurt them by accident, it can be gut-wrenching.

I've been tandem feeding them for the past two and a half months with no issues but I forget that things will keep changing as they get bigger and bigger and more mobile.

So how did I manage to drop not one but both of them?

I sit on a couch to breast feed and have a large BF pillow that sits in my lap with the ends supported by two pillows on either side of me. I put each of my girls on the pillows on either side of me and then lift them into position one by one. Last week though, I lifted Caitlyn into place and then turned to lift Victoria into place. Suddenly, I realized that Caitlyn had rolled off her side of the pillow and was sliding off the couch head first. I grabbed for her but in doing so I let Victoria go and she also slid off her side of the BF pillow and off the couch head first. Both girls hit the floor on the top of their heads and flopped onto their backs.

Thankfully, the couch sits only 1 foot off the floor and thankfully, there is carpet in their room so it was a relatively soft fall. That being said though, I don't know who was crying harder...Caitlyn, Victoria or me. I was so upset and I felt like I was the worst Mother in the world to have let this happen. I thought I had given them concussions.

Being Canadian and living in Ontario, there is a public telephone service that you can call and speak with a registered nurse to get health advice. They help you to determine whether or not it is serious and if you should go to your doctor or go to the hospital emergency room and they always err on the side of being cautious. By this time I had placed a panicked phone call to my DH asking him to come home immediately and when he did, we called the phone service.

We were asked many questions such as whether there was a bump or bruise, a red spot at the site of impact, whether the girls were vomiting, if they cried immediately when they fell or if they lost consciousness and whether or not they had black eyes. The answer to all of her questions was "no" and so she told us that it did not appear that the girls were injured and to have them checked out by our pediatrician rather than going to emergency.

Phew.

Since last weekend, I've spoken to many friends who have kids and everyone has at least one story of their kids falling off of something or being dropped for one reason or another. I've come to understand that every Mother has at least one such story and I am grateful that it was not a bad fall as it could have been worse. Way worse. My pediatrician even had a story like mine and even though she is a pediatrician, she called her pediatrician when it happened!!

I guess I've just passed another of life's rites of passages in becoming a mother. I know they're going to get lots of bumps and bruises along the way but what was different about this one was that I felt that this was something that I caused although it was a complete accident.

For the next time they fall and knock their heads, at least I now know what to look for to determine if it is a concussion and whether to go to the hospital or not. We're all okay though and I guess we're all stronger for it.

So there you have it - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Infertility Hangover

I have an infertility hangover.

I talked about how IF has changed my life in my last post on my other blog. I talked about the scars that it had left.

I realized how deep those scars ran today.

Today, Caitlyn refused to nurse three times and it broke my heart. I have to admit that it brought me to tears. You're probably wondering why this is such a big deal and I wondered the same as well. Why was this such a hard thing to accept that she won't nurse? Can't I just get over it and bottle feed her my expressed breast milk? As a parent, I should only be concerned with what is the best thing for her welfare and as long as she is getting breast milk, it shouldn't matter how...does it?

But it strikes fear into the deepest, darkest places of my heart, places that IF has only touched.

I fear that it is not a temporary refusal.
I fear that it will become permanent refusal.
I fear that this will lead to a dwindling of my milk supply.
I fear that this is a precursor to the end of all breastfeeding for my girls.

I have been thinking about this all day, more and more with each time she has refused to nurse. Why is this such a big deal?

The conclusion that I came to was this: IF has shaken my self-confidence as a woman to the very core. I have learned to take nothing for granted and not to assume that things a woman should be able to do will simply happen...

...like getting pregnant...

...like breastfeeding.

I think that deep down inside, I am waiting for my body to fail me yet again. Logically speaking, I know that there is no basis for this fear. I produce enough breast milk for both my girls such that we haven't used formula in over 2 months. I even have a decent amount of extra frozen in the freezer. There are other mitigating factors that influenced the breastfeeding today that, logically in my mind, make sense as to why Caitlyn would have refused to nurse...she was overtired and tends to lose patience with nursing when tired; she's going through a growth spurt at 16 weeks; she was having terrible acid reflux today. All these things added to a challenging day for her and didn't encourage her to breastfeed. I know all of these things in my head but my heart...my battered and bruised heart...it wouldn't listen.

I think my commitment to breastfeed is deeply rooted in my determination to not fail again. My body will not fail me again.

I'm not going to let it happen again.


Or so my heart thinks.

I keep reminding myself to keep my eye on the bigger picture. Caitlyn has refused to nurse before but she has always come back. Heck, just yesterday, she spent a whopping 20 minutes nursing at one feed and seemed to enjoy the time spent with me. Finally, first and foremost as a parent, my focus should be on doing what is best for my girls and that is giving them breast milk. Again, that is giving them breast milk and not breastfeeding them breast milk.

I am struggling to let go of my deeply rooted fears but it is not easy. I realized just how deep those fears ran today. I don't want to have those kinds of fears anymore. I want to live my life and embrace these experiences and learn from them and allow them to make me into a better person.

I don't want to be afraid of them.

I have discovered that the process of letting go is harder than I thought.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Indecision

I don't know if it's because I'm so tired these days but I seem to be having trouble making any decision concerning the kids. Even when I do make decisions, those decisions seem to give rise to more questions that need more decisions.

For example, here is some of what went through my mind today:

Do I swaddle? Is it still necessary? If I swaddle, do I swaddle with both arms in? One arm out? Miracle blanket or receiving blanket?

It's hot in their room - do I dress them in a onesie or a sleeper? What if they get too cold/too hot later on in the night?

I'd like to take them for a walk - when should I do it? During their nap time just in case they fall asleep in the stroller? What if they don't fall asleep and then they become overtired?

They're fussy today and are having trouble getting down for their naps. Do I continue to rock them to a drowsy state or will that make them reliant upon someone else to put them to sleep? But this is cuddle time with the kids and how can cuddling them be bad at this point?

As you can see, I seem to have a lot of questions floating around my brain at any given point in time.

I am not normally an indecisive person.

I suppose I'm just tired and I realize that the tiredness makes decision making difficult.

Let me amend that - tiredness makes GOOD decision making difficult.

Does it get easier? Do you somehow just know what to do? How can you deal with the naysayers who plant seeds of doubt in your mind about whether you have done the right thing or not?

Good grief...where has my self-confidence gone? Probably the same place where my decision making skills went...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bad Parent

I think I've confused my kids.

Bed time has turned into a major battle and it's my fault.

We weren't consistent.

We changed things up on them.

I feel that they don't trust us anymore. They think that if they cry now, we won't come.

What a terrible way for two 15 week old babies to feel.

In the last 2 weeks, we've stopped swaddling gradually (but the end result is that they are no longer being swaddled), we split them up into two separate cribs, we instituted a bed time and we attempted to use the extinction (aka crying it out) method of sleep training.

That's a lot of change.

Maybe too much?

I thought that when we stopped using extinction, we would be able to go back to soothing them to sleep and then putting them down. They used to eventually fall asleep in our arms with soothing and then we would put them down to bed. Things have changed. Now, they start crying and crying and crying and we soothe and soothe and soothe to no avail. Tonight, we fed them at 6:15pm and then spent the next 2 hours trying to calm them down so that they could fall asleep. If I was going to listen to 2 hours of crying, why didn't we stick it out with extinction? At least they would have been teaching themselves how to self-soothe...or would they? Are they still too young to learn that skill?

Maternal guilt...what a formidable thing.

We've decided to go back to basics and returned to swaddling. We stripped them down to their diapers and then swaddled them again tonight and finally, after 2 hours, they calmed down and fell asleep.

I don't know how we're going to deal with naps tomorrow during the day because those were a disaster given the bad night we had last night (same thing - fussing and crying for 2 hours at the beginning of the night).

I just can't shake the feeling that I've already screwed up my kids.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sleep Training Night 9...The Wheels Fell Off the Bus

We have decided after more than a week of trying to sleep train our twins that we are temporarily suspending activities. We've decided that they're too young and using the extinction method (i.e. crying it out) didn't seem to be working in the short amount of time that was promised in the book. It's supposed to be the fastest way to do this but after 9 nights of hysterical crying at the beginning of the night with zero improvement, we are beat.

Yes, we did see improvement during the rest of the night in that they fell asleep faster and for bigger chunks of time after the night feeds. However, the initial bedtime was awful and remained awful and I didn't see enough (read: any) improvement to merit staying the course.

The book says that once naps are well established, which occurs usually at the 3-4 month mark post due date, sleep training using the extinction method should take about 3-5 nights. It is the fastest method that parents like to use to initially teach their children and then to get them back on track after something upsets the routine. The book said that the initial period of crying is on average about 45 minutes on night 1, 20 minutes on night 2 and zero to 10 minutes on night three. After consistently hitting 2.5 - 3 hours of hysterical crying 8 nights in a row, there's something wrong at our end. Yes, there were some nights where they did go down initially without a peep BUT there would always be a prolonged period of crying that would occur during the evening.

When the crying would happen, I would always go back and read the book, searching for clues on how to make this work. I have come to the conclusion that they are too young to do this right now because their naps have not yet become regularized. Naps don't start getting into a routine until about 3-4 months post due date and my kids are only 9 weeks post due date right now. Using extinction depends on naps being well established. We had an awesome day on Sunday - they napped really well and for long stretches of time...we couldn't have set up better for the night. However, after putting them down and about 40 minutes of sleep, they started wailing and continued for a good 45 minutes or so.

At this point, we had had enough.

We're going back to soothing them if they need it to fall asleep. Maybe they need to know we're there. Maybe they need to know that we'll come when they call for us. Maybe this learned behaviour is too much to ask of two girls that are so small.

Whatever it is, we're going to give them a few more weeks before we try again and I don't know that we'll try extinction the next time around either. As a first time parent, this sleep training was brutal. It broke my heart. In some ways, I feel like we failed but in other ways, I tell myself that they are still really young and small and when the time is right, we should be able to accomplish this with a lot less pain...we just have to be patient.

So for next time around, here are some tips for sleep training that were not in the book:

1. Do not allow any visitors during bedtime or afterward until sleep training has been completed.

Not everyone believes in sleep training nor have they read the book. Hysterical crying will wear down anyone in a flash and relatives, especially grandparents, will have no tolerance at all for crying. They will also freely express opinions to first time parents that will make the sleep training harder and which you do not need to hear during this very stressful time.

2. Plan on getting extra sleep during this time.

I hear this all the time but really, while sleep training, you need to sleep at night when they sleep. I was a walking zombie by night 8...I was so emotionally and physically tired from listening to them cry for so long that I was a wreck. If they finally fell asleep by 9pm, we were in bed by the end of the week at 9:30pm. Trust me - you'll be tired and falling asleep at that earlier time is no problem.

3. Turn down or turn off your baby monitors.

If you use extinction, you will be able to hear the crying just fine without amplifying it loud enough for the neighbourhood to hear. It is very hard on the nerves to listen to a baby crying for a few minutes, let alone the 45 minutes or longer it may take on night 1. We used our video monitors to make sure they were okay but dial down the volume. I had headaches from listening to them and after a few nights, dialed down the volume.

4. Be very clear with your partner about what the plan is.

You will most likely get scattered listening to your baby cry for so long. Have the discussions before hand with your DH or partner so that you agree on a plan of action and you don't have to decide in the stress of the moment when they're screaming. Be clear about how much crying you're going to accept and the time markers that you will be using before responding.

So that's it...we'll try round two in a few weeks. Thank you to all of you who offered support to us during this time. It was brutal and we are not done yet but we are hopefully a little wiser for the next time around.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Still Sleep Training and A Different Topic (Finally)

I know - are you as sick of this topic as I am? We are still at it and there has been definite improvement but there is still crying involved. So it does seem that the girls' bedtime is 6pm and they have been going down pretty easily at that time last two nights. However, they will "wake up" and take turns fussing for a few minutes here and there. They will give every appearance of being a sleeping baby but then they'll just start crying out of the blue. I am currently listening to Caitlyn cry.

*sigh*

When does the crying stop?

I know they'll figure it out and my BFF keeps reassuring me that they're smart girls...they'll get it more and more every day.

The neighbours must think we're crazy. I realized that I left the window open in their room but I will not go back in to close it, even with the intermittent crying that's going on. Defeats the purpose of suffering through the crying in the first place because guaranteed, if they catch sight of me, the crying will only intensify.

DH is out for dinner with his side of the family, celebrating his father's birthday. I on the other hand am at home, committed to this sleep training thing and not willing to screw up their bedtime so we decided that I would not attend with the kids. Short term sacrifice and DH has reassured me that he will be skimming off some good eats to bring home to me for my dinner later.

So let's talk about something else.

Is anyone BF out there? I could talk about this topic for a long time too. Long and short of it - breastfeeding is much harder than I ever thought it would be. I thought that you just stick the baby on your boob and he/she and I would just "know" what to do. Boy was I wrong...

A little BF history about me: I started my kids off on 100% formula and they were fed either by bottle or feeding tube in the NICU. I had lost so much blood post-partum that my milk was really slow to come in. Also, one of my girls was tongue tied [a condition whereby the frenulum (the thin membrane that attaches your tongue to the bottom of your mouth) needs to be snipped in order so that your tongue can extend past your lower lip. This is very important in BF in that the tongue must massage the nipple to extract the milk.] Since then, I have slowly been able to transition them to 100% breast milk and they are breastfeeding really well now.

My question is this - I started pumping right at the very start to stimulate my breasts to produce more milk and I have continued to pump and now produce enough breast milk for my two girls plus I have extra in the fridge. I am scared to death to stop pumping for fear that my supply drops off. Has anyone started out pumping and then was able to stop? How were you able to do it - was there a weaning period and did you find that you were still able to produce enough breast milk?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Night 5 Recap & The Start of Night 6

Last night, the girls continued to show improvement in that there were longer periods of silence between the bouts of crying and fussing. In total, they still fussed from 6:45pm when we put them down to about 8:30pm so a decrease in the overall time but still a lot longer than ideal. They skipped their 10pm meal and woke up at 1:30am and then after that, they slept through to 6am when they got up to start the day. All in all, not a bad night but I am still striving for a shorter time of fussing.

I keep thinking that with the almost 2 hours of fussing that we are missing something and that we are not getting it right just yet. I decided tonight to play around again with the bedtime and moved it up to 6pm. Last night was supposed to be bedtime of 6:30pm as it was bath night but we were a little late in getting them down so it was actually 6:45 by the time they went down. Clearly, that was too late for them.

I was vigilant during the day today and really watched their sleep cues for naps and ensured that the last nap wasn't going to interfere with bed time of 6pm. They woke up from their last nap at around 4:30pm which was perfect timing so I fed them and changed them and played with them for a while. No kidding, at around 5:45, they started showing signs of drowsiness and so I put them in their cribs to just wind down - I didn't swaddle them at all, I just simply put them in their cribs and watched them like a hawk. Sure enough, they started yawning and their eye lids started drooping so I swaddled them and at exactly 6pm, this is what I heard:

[crickets, crickets]

No crying! No fussing! No pain at bedtime! None whatsoever! It is now 6:42pm and I haven't heard a single peep from either one of them. Could this be the key? I am really crossing my fingers that this is it.

We are enjoying the silence.

Truly.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A New Strategy for Sleep Training Night #4

We have a new strategy for tonight. I know that consistency is the key, but if you're doing something wrong, consistently doing it wrong will not fix the problem. After an exhausting night during which I did all of the night feeds by myself, I went back to the book and re-read several sections, searching for an answer, a clue, something that would tell me what we were doing "wrong". I think I may have found it.

We have decided to try a new bedtime. The book says that bedtime is usually between 6pm and 8pm and by choosing a bedtime of 7 - 7:30pm, that was actually a little on the late side. I also naively thought that *we* got to choose the bedtime that the kids have but when I was re-reading the book today, the book said that it was key to catch the wave of drowsiness that occurred and coordinating bedtimes with that time period. We don't get to choose bedtime; it will be chosen by the kids. If you didn't manage to catch that initial wave of drowsiness, that is when there is more excessive crying and fussing because the kids have become overtired. It appears that they are awake but it is really due to a "second wave" of energy which is due to the release of adrenaline which in turn makes it harder for them to fall asleep afterward

One success story that I found said that one family couldn't figure out why their kid was fussing between 7pm and 9pm until they moved the bedtime up a half hour to 6:30pm and that fixed it. Their kid was overtired by 7pm and then fussed and cried for 2 hours afterward. By having bedtime at 6:30pm, they caught the wave of drowsiness and were able to put their kid down without any crying or fussing. Let us hope that this is also the answer for us as well.

The kids were put down by 6:20pm. Both cried and rather than go through the details, suffice to say that they continued to cry, alternating between the two of them but the big thing was that Caitlyn fell asleep at around 7:15 and stayed asleep until the time of the first feed at 10pm! Victoria fussed and cried off and on until about 8:45pm but there were longer periods of silence between the fits of crying and fussing.

Improvement?

I think so!

We got up to feed them again at 1:30am but both went down without crying and then they slept until 6am! I can deal with the earlier wake up time if they sleep more at night so this is a definite step in the right direction!

Yay!