Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Public Service Announcement

This isn't the first time in the last 2 years that I've said something or Dave and I have had a conversation and the topci has ended up on the Diane Rehm show, featured in an NPR story or in the NY Times. Nonetheless, just this week I said to both Dave and my Mom that I feel a little PTSD from the NICU. Certainly, I've noticed a pretty deep spot in my heart or soul of grief about how my twins came into this world and had to be in NICU for so long.

I'm not one to push those feelings aside or ignore them. Instead, I try to feel them when I need to and experience the grief and fear that I could not experience then.

So guess what article was in the NY Times Health and Science section this week? Two studies are suggesting that parents whose children have been in NICU experience post-traumatic stress, even to the point of developing PTSD. Go figure.

I don't think my feelings are going to develop into PTSD. Nonetheless, may I say again that NICU sucks. And it sucks for longer than the babies are in there. And if you know a parent whose child has been in NICU, there is going to be suckiness even after their child graduates.

There. Must go smooch on my daughter who is fussing a bit. That doesn't suck at all.

(Ironically, she had just dropped her she needed to suck)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Best Laid Plans....

It started with fussiness. Bridget has been getting a bit fussy when she and Christopher nurse together. Christopher is pretty calm and confident that he can get all the nummies he needs. Bridget worries and frets and can't get into position when she can see Christopher half a mom's body away. So it started with fussiness. But it has moved to the stink eye.

Bridget now gives Christopher the stink eye most times they nurse together. And bless her little heart, it backfires and she ends up feeling the anger of the stink eye herself. So even if we wanted to put the babies on a schedule, the stink eye prevents us.


As I said, we're not so much on the schedule, but we were loving the routine. We're still routinized: they still eat, play, and sleep around the same time. But any plans to encourage them to eat exactly at the same time are out the door. Bridget gets too upset and she needs to save her calories for growth, not for bursting my ear drum.

And how is Patches doing, you ask? (Smooth transition...not) He is well. He is happy to have more puppies in the pack. But he is concerned about our abilities to properly parent the loud one--Bridget.

People have accused me of exaggerating, but I'm not in this instance. Before we diagnosed Bridget with reflux, we had real problems with her screaming. Indeed, a few days before the doctor's visit she was screaming and Patches gave me a look that clearly indicated his thoughts. He was heading out the door of our bedroom and turned and with a disappointed expression, projected onto me: "You are not doing that right."

Yes, you can say I was imagining that, but I know my dog. And I know what he thinks. And he was sorely disappointed in my parenting skills at that point.

A few days later, I was nursing them together (it was the beginning of the stink eye), and Bridget was screaming, of course. Patches sat up from his nap and barked at me! Just one bark. And it was one of those heads up barks that dogs have. But I knew what he was thinking "Are you paying attention here? Fix it!!"

And on one of my first days alone, Bridget had a melt-down (notice a theme here?) while I was changing Christopher's diaper. I ended up putting Christopher in a safe place while I ran to pick her up. As soon as I started running, Patches started running, too, to safely escort me to Bridget. (All 7 feet it took me to get there)

So yes, there we are. Having my parenting skills judged by a dog and keeping my daughter from giving her brother the stink eye. We actually have created a "stink eye cloth", essentially a burp cloth I hold between them if we are trying to have them nurse at the same time. Because they have not yet developed object permanence, neither of them have any idea the other one is behind the cloth. It works mostly, unless Christopher starts stretching out his enormous monkey arms and pokes Bridget in the eye or sticks a finger up her nose.

Hmmm, maybe that's why she gives him the stink eye? I doubt it. Even when he's nursing in his sleep it bothers her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So How is Conor Doing?

The first question people ask after inquiring about the twins is how Conor is doing? I hope I've bragged enough about what a wonderful big brother Conor is. He loves the twins. I mean he loooooooves the twins. We are going to have to put a limit on the number of kisses he can give them at any one time, he loves them so much. But then again, why limit how much he loves them? I'm not sure it's this common to have a big brother so into having a little brother and sister.

He also tries really hard to help them. If they are crying, he'll start singing to them. If they are in their bouncy chairs, he will gently bounce them. (sometimes more "gently" than others). He will try to give them their binky (Bridget, in particular, likes the bink). And he always tells them that their big brother is here and that they love him. (Not so much "big brother loves them" but that "they love their big brother")

I really can't believe what a great big brother he is. But that doesn't mean that everything is all hunky dory. Who would expect it to be so?

This is a picture that Conor's teacher transferred from the t-shirt we gave him for becoming a big brother. Conor himself wrote the twins' names and his own. If I ever lose this picture, it will break my heart. It is the cutest thing I've ever seen. He has it hanging up in his room in a very prominent spot.

This, on the other hand, is a picture he drew of his family last week.

One might note a couple of things. One, Dave is drawn appropriately: tall and then. I, on the other hand, am the size of Conor and the shape of a potato. I have lost about 55 lbs from the pregnancy and have less than 10 lbs to go to get back to pre-pregnancy weight. I *was* a potato, but now I'm more of an apple now. (Did I ever tell you about the first picture Conor drew of our big family with Bridget playing with him and Christopher playing with Dave and me the size of a whale lying in a bed between them? It was right after the babies were born and I'd been on bedrest for 6+ weeks. Kids communicate through pictures, in case you were wondering) In any case, Conor is, correctly and mentally healthily, drawn happy and in the middle of us. Yay!

However, where are the twins!?!? If he's so psyched about having the twins, where are they? I asked and he said that he just didn't draw them. However, what is up with the 5 suns at the top? Granted, I am not a clinical child psychologist, but it seems to me that the entire family is actually in the suns happy above!! He wants to assert that he is the center of our lives (he still is) but there are additional parts of our family.

So overall, how is Conor? Just fine. He is still coming up and sleeping with us most nights. And in the mornings, he oohs and aahs while the babies have their breakfast. He tries really hard to be gentle and responsive to them. And you'd be hard pressed not to think he's the best big brother in the world. It all serves to make me fall more in love with him. Just as I'm also falling in love with our new son and daughter.

Gotta go. Twins want nummies.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Yesterday was pretty hellish as we got out of our unofficial schedule, ahem, I mean routine. Bridget ended up with only about a 3 or 4 hour nap all day long and that made for a very cranky daughter.

We also went to doctor for the twins' 2 month check up. At 11 lbs 12 oz, Christopher is up to 5oth percentile (from 10th percentile) on weight and at 23 inches, 50th percentile on height. His noggin also rates at 50th percentile. So pretty much, Christopher is perfectly average for a 2 month old!

At 8 lbs 8 oz, Briget got on the chart this month, coming in at a wonderful 5th percentile. Oddly, she's 10th percentile for height and 30th percentile for noggin size. It's odd because I thought children went out before they went up---being a little fatter before they get a little taller. It may explain why she still looks skinny even though she is getting some meat on her bones.

We also have a bit of info on when the growth spurts will start/stop. Term babies have their spurts at 10 days, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months. Preemies? Well, I found in our NICU book that preemies growth spurts start at 36 weeks (adjusted age) and end 2 1/2 months adjusted age. What does that mean? Well, the twins will be 2 1/2 months in 2 weeks. But they will be 2 1/2 months adjusted age at the end of September. That means, basically, their growth spurt will last about 14 weeks. Straight. Continuous. Boobage. For 14 weeks. Four. Teen. Weeks. Boobs. Mooooooooooooooooooooooo.

And toots. Lord, it's windy around here and it has nothing to do with the afternoon thunderstorms. Christopher set a world record 10 second toot the other day. And I can actually feel puffs of air on my face and chest when they burp. I don't imagine we're going to see any consistent sleeping through the night until the end of September. I just don't think it's even possible for babies to sleep through the night during a growth spurt. And have I mentioned that 14 week growth spurt? Well, let's just say, I think we're at the best we're going to see right now: sleeping 3 to 4 hours at a time. Which is just fine. I do not want to complain about that. But these are two hungry babies.

What makes it worth it are the smiles the babies are starting to freely give. Depending on which age we're talking about (9 weeks chronological or 3 weeks adjusted), they are either way behind or way ahead. If I had to guess where they are developmentally, I'd say about 6 weeks. For some reason, that just feels about right. Yes, all my vast experience with babies (Conor!) makes me think we're at about 6 weeks old around here.

More pictures up soon. I need to either get it back together on Flickr or choose another site. I think Flickr is fine, but I actually need to do something.

Ok--I've stolen enough time. I am in the midst of a 14 week growth spurt, you know.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Schedule Vs. Routine Vs. Whatever

I've been working on this post for days and I really just don't have time to make this as clever and outrageous as I'd like to. So, here's the condensed version:

Did you know that the vast majority of advice I keep finding online and in books and hearing in person from more than a few "twin authorities" is to put the twins on a strict schedule? As in Ezzo's Baby Wise, don't dare feed them more than every 3 hours starting at 7 days old. Yes, the same Ezzo Baby Wise that was condemned by the American Association of Pediatrics as a dangerous parenting strategy likely to lead to dehydration and failure to thrive? What's even more surprising is the lack of awareness of the controversy these people have when they say this. Is it because twins are really so rare that parents think it's ok to use a parenting style for them that is condemned for singletons? Is it because so many twin parents are first time parents that they don't know any better? W. T. F. And it's not just a few places: It's a good deal of the twin parenting advice.

So, um, yeah. What is probably even more surprising is that I have luckily found quite a few MOMs (Mothers of Multiples) who do NOT follow this advice for a strict schedule, even if they do follow a routine (which we are doing, too). Back to an aside I would fix if I could edit this: When I say Strict Schedule, I mean that people are actually saying to me that they ONLY feed their children every 3 hours. And maybe once or twice they fed them at 2 hours and 45 minutes, but that was the absolute exception and they resolved never to do it again. (The last part is the only exaggeration)

So a routine? Yes. The babies get up at 8. Christopher has his alert time then, then goes to sleep. I feed them again. Bridget has a much shorter alert time and then I nurse both again and they eat and go back to sleep. They nap for most of the afternoon (and if they don't get both these long morning and afternoon naps, there is hell to pay) and then they have alert time late afternoon and evening and go to sleep for the night between 9 and 10. They wake up a few times in the night--like once or twice, oh, I am SO NOT KIDDING and we are SO LUCKY--and then are up at 5 or 6 for snacks and a nap.

That is our routine. It is not a schedule. They eat when they want to eat. And Christopher, weighing it at over 11 lbs (from 7 lbs when he came home 4 weeks ago), eats more frequently than Bridget who FINALLY broke 8 lbs last week (up from 4 1/2 lbs 5 weeks ago). And both of them eat more frequently than 3 hours at more than one time during the day. And they should!! It is obviously helping them. The only person it isn't helping is *me*. I don't know exactly when they are going to eat and sleep every day. I do, however, now where two watches which let me know who ate when so when I'm getting ready to do something, I have a rough idea of who is going to demand a boob when and plan accordingly.

But so effing what? I'm a big girl. I can handle my day being disrupted by two babies. They have been on this earth just a little while and need to know that someone is going to take care of them when they are tired and hungry. (Did you know that Ezzo/Baby Wise promotes not picking infants up when they cry? Oh, and the whole spanking with tubes and sticks to not leave marks?)

ANYWHO, it's busy with twins!! We are actually doing well. It's sooooooo much better now that Bridget's reflux is medicated. She's still a crazy kitten, but she's not screaming in pain for hours on end.

Ok. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I hope to blog on less annoying things later on. And if you used a schedule and it worked out well for you and your family, that's great. It's not our cuppa, and I guess the real reason it's been so annoying to me is that I've heard it again and again and again and no one has acknowledged that it's very controversial advice.