Monday, April 26, 2010

One month!

Asher and Benjamin are one month old today!  The month has flown by, in some ways, and yet it already feels like these babies have been a part of our family forever.

We had a one-month check-up at the pediatrician today.  Everything is going well with the babies-- they are both gaining weight!  Asher is up to 7 pounds, 5 ounces now.  This puts him at the 5th percentile without adjusting for his 4 week prematurity.  Considering the due-date was Friday, this is pretty average for a newborn baby.  I am confident he'll catch up on the charts soon!

Benjamin is also gaining weight, they said he is 6 pounds, 4 ounces.  It is hard to believe he's that big, because he still looks and feels very tiny.  But, in any case, they are putting on weight, for sure.  They no longer fit into any of their preemie clothes, so I emptied those out of the drawers.  Asher is now fitting into things that are labeled "0-3" and Ben fits in things that are labeled "newborn."  They are still small, and Ben is smaller than most newborns, but definitely getting bigger.  And Asher's face is starting to fill out, he is getting chubby cheeks that you expect to see on a baby.

Yesterday we had a ceremony called pidyon haben for Asher.  This is a Jewish ritual where the first born child, if it is a boy born vaginally, is redeemed from the priesthood.  The ceremony takes 5 minutes, and then we ate a lot.  My favorite kind of Jewish observance!  We had a great lunch, topped off with a banana cream pie my mom made.  It was so good!

We are going to take a 1 month picture, but we have not had the boys both awake today, so it will be taken when they are 1 month and 1 day.  I'm sure they'll look the same, equally as cute!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Breakfast in Bed

I have no real excuse for not writing, because my in-laws have been here and that has afforded me a lot of free time.  Meaning, I get to take a shower each morning without worrying about whether someone is crying and not being attended to.  And I have gotten naps, and Eric and I even made it out of the house to buy ice cream from Dairy Queen, just the two of us. It makes life so much easier to have extra hands around!  My mother-in-law, Pat, also changes dirty diapers all the time, saving me the effort.  Eric has really had a lot of time off from babies, and he and my father-in-law, Steve, have been out in the garden every day.  Our front yard looks beautiful, and we now have some herbs and vegetables in the back.

Things are in a pretty good "routine" around here.  We feed during the night when they wake up and ask for it.  This varies, some nights it's at about 1 am, 4 am, and then wake up around 8 am.  On two very lovely nights, they went to sleep by 11 and slept til 4 or 5!  The day after that I feel very alert.  We generally have our first feeding of the "day" around 8.  That's when the boys have their breakfast in bed-- I'll go get whoever is breastfeeding at that time and bring him back into the bed where I nurse and watch the Today show.  I really enjoy this slow start to the day.  I don't get my breakfast in bed anymore, but these guys do!  We then feed them throughout the day when they're hungry, which varies from between 2-4 hours.  In between feeds I try to do something-- shower, or take them for a walk, or go somewhere for an errand.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.

The boys get cuter by the minute.  I am in love with all their little parts and mannerisms.  Ben has a very expressive face, and I always laugh when he scrunches up his forehead or makes googly eyes at us.  He also clenches his hands into little fists while he eats and spreads them out when he's done.  Asher moves his arms a lot more, when you set him down on his back he waves his arms.  Both boys make little sounds when they eat that I think are just adorable.  Asher has this kind of moan/hum that I think of as his version of a purr.  Ben makes little squeaks.  I want to take video of it so that we can have it for posterity, but we can't find our video camera (this is typical of us).  Asher is getting more and more alert, he will spend time awake being held, or on his tummy.  Sometimes he is very agreeable to being put down awake, and will just wave his arms and legs until he falls asleep.  Other times, they both insist on being held.  Fortunately, with their grandparents here, there is usually someone who volunteers to hold them. 

I am glad that I am nursing, since I get time with each of them that I might not have otherwise.  I just hate that I often have to leap up and pump right afterward!  Right now I HATE my breasts.  They are enormous!  I am never comfortable with them, my nipples are sore from constantly feeding/pumping, and when I am full with milk I am literally busting out of whatever bra or top I have on.  I am constantly aware of how my breasts feel (full? empty? painful?).  Oh, and clothes... I can't wear the majority of my tops because my breasts don't fit into anything!  I have some nursing tank tops, and I wear those and my mom gave me some nice loose tops for my birthday, but I basically had to clear my drawers out of all my tops.  Right now I am planning to nurse/pump until they are 6 months old.  I have made it through almost 1 month now and although my life is constrained by our schedule, we are managing just fine. 

Here is a picture of Asher in his memere's arms:

And here is a picture of both boys on their pepere's chest:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Feeling Emotional

I think I am somewhat more emotional now than I was when I was pregnant.  The other day I was sitting and just looking at these little babies (especially Ben, who is still very small and has skinny little arms and legs) and I felt like I could kill anyone who hurt them or was mean to them.  I felt this mix of overwhelming love for them, and a desire to protect them.  If I could wrap them in cotton and keep them safe forever, I would.  I even started crying when I thought about how much I love them and how precious they are.

Then I have feelings of guilt, because I have brought them into this world, and inevitably they will be let down, hurt, and disappointed (and not just by me).  One day some girl will break their hearts.  They will probably get teased for something at school, they will try out for a sports team or play and not make it, they will get sick or injured and feel pain.  And I won't be able to stop any of it!  I know that is part of everyone's life, and that we all survive those disappointments and become stronger people.  But right now, all I want is to promise them a perfect life, and I can't promise that. 

There is also the guilt that I am already letting them down.  Because there are 2 of them and 1 of me, there are times where one baby is getting my attention and one is crying.  I am actually ok with the sound of crying, because usually whoever is crying just wants to be held, and is not crying out of hunger or discomfort, and I know I will get there soon enough.  But I think, are they aware already of who gets attention?  I enjoy nursing Asher more than Ben, because Asher's latch is more comfortable and he eats more consistently, where Ben needs reminding that it is time to eat and not nap.  I have to make sure that I take equal turns with them, although it feels like it would just be easier to breastfeed Asher and bottle feed Ben.  But I enjoy that we have our time alone together, and I often hold them even after we are done breast feeding just so I can be close to them.  The other night we did our first tandem feed, and Asher just went to town, eating for about 15-20 minutes, and Ben ate for about 5-8 and just stopped.  I took him off and then I thought, does he see that his brother is getting more time with mom?  Is he jealous?

Other than these concerns, things are going well.  Both of our boys like to eat, and we have been really lucky as far as their sleep at night.  At their 2-week check-up (for which they were really only 12 days old), we were told that we could let them wake us for feedings at night.  Last night we put them to sleep at 11 pm, they slept til 3:40, we fed them and went back to bed around 4:15, and they slept til we woke them a little before 8.  So Eric and I got some decent sleep, and that really helps with my mood and attitude during the day.

Here is a picture of us on the boys' first trip into town last weekend:
And here are the boys during our night-time pre-bed snuggles, first Ben:
And Asher:
Such sweet angels.  They are awake more now in the mornings, so I am not sure what to do since they are not yet ready to play, exactly.  I have put them in their bouncy seats and I talk to them, but I am not sure if they are bored (do babies get bored?) or what they would prefer.  They don't cry so I figure it is ok with them.  I guess we will all 3 learn!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Saturday was my 30th Birthday

I always thought that if a big birthday (like 30) fell on a Saturday I would have a great big party.  Well, having 2 week-old twins has complicated matters a little.  Even if I felt like we could leave them with someone (and actually, I would leave them with my parents even now, I don't know if that makes me a bad mom), we are so tired at night that I can't imagine going out!

But I have done a little reflecting on my 20s.  In my 20s I: graduated from college, met my now-husband, got engaged, bought a house, got married, got my doctorate and a masters degree, got pregnant, and had twins.  Not too shabby!  Something tells me that my 30s will have fewer big changes and shifts, since I am now settled in a relationship and career.  I think in my 30s the milestones I notice will be the ones that my boys achieve.  And that's a little what this birthday is showing me, that it's no longer about me, and my life is no longer the primary focus, but these sweet little boys are.  I feel so lucky to have them, and really, what better way to celebrate a birthday than to hold these babies that I wanted so badly?

I also helped Eric a little with our taxes.  I went through credit card statements and highlighted our year's medical expenses.  In January of 2009 I began treatment at Main Line Fertility.  I saw our initial consultation, then the appointments from my first cycle, then the two weeks where I waited, then another flurry of appointments as I started a second cycle.  I saw the charges for medication from the cycles.  I remembered the anticipation of each cycle, the hope of getting pregnant, and then remembered the disappointment when my period inevitably came.  Then I got to the July statement, and saw the appointments for our IVF.   Then the appointments for ultrasound; my first, where we found out it was twins, the two emergency appointments after I had bled heavily and feared I was miscarrying; and my last, where I was discharged to my OB.

I keep thinking back to August 4, the day of my embryo transfer, where they handed me a picture of 6 embryos, 2 of them marked with little black X's:
 And suggested we transfer them both.  And we agreed.  I cannot believe those little clumps of cells are now my sons.  It all feels so recent, and yet so much has changed.

Overall, I felt very lucky on my 30th birthday.  I have everything I could want (ok, maybe except a night nurse to take care of the boys at 3 am...), and have more love and support than anyone I know. 

And just so this post isn't all dull ramblings, here are pictures of the boys' first baths:
Here is Asher getting started, loving it:
So, poor Asher.  He spent so long wedged in my pelvis that his neck is a little curved to his right.  We are doing neck stretches and tummy time to even it out, and have noticed it getting better already.  But his face got a little smooshed, too!  I feel terrible, even though I didn't "do" anything.  I also think he is a little cross-eyed.  I was cross-eyed as a baby and child, too.  I didn't get glasses until I was 4, and then wore them until I was 12, at which point my eyes had corrected themselves.  At last check, I had 20/20 vision.  If Asher's eyes stay crossed, we'll know what's wrong and get him in glasses younger than 4.  Apparently the fact that I could focus well led to some crankiness on my part as a kid, so I would love to avoid that with Asher!

And here is Ben:
As you can see, bath time has not yet become a relaxing event.  But I love how clean and sweet they are afterward.  I am using unscented bath bubbles and body lotion, I am not one of those people who worries too much about chemicals most of the time, but they are just so tiny it feels overwhelming to use heavily scented stuff on them.  Anyway, they are adorable and sweet and just so good I could eat them up!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This post is not about the babies (who are doing well), but about me.  I am sure anyone who has had children knows about the mixed emotions after the babies are born.  Every morning I am excited to see them and their perfect little selves, and I love to kiss them and snuggle them.  I am not even losing it at night when they cry. 

But not every minute is wonderful.  I feel sad sometimes, I feel sad that I'm not pregnant anymore, and I miss the feelings of anticipation and excitement that came at the end of my pregnancy.  I miss waddling out and about with my belly.  Instead I have this in-between body that is larger (especially in the boobs!) than my old body but not with the excuse that I am pregnant.  Towards the end of the day, I get resentful that my life is scheduled in 3 hour increments around their feeding.

I woke up on Monday morning thinking, "it's Monday, what do I have to do this week?" And the answer is that the only thing I have to do is take care of the babies.  Which is a huge job, yes.  It reminds me a little of being on bedrest, actually.  Because I have only one job, and doing it mainly involves my staying at home.  We go out for quick trips-- walks around the neighborhood, I went grocery shopping without them one day-- but for the most part I am home and have to wait for others to come and visit us.  I have to let a lot of things go and just not do them because there isn't time, or it isn't a priority.  I make sure to let Eric have time to himself, and I am taking time to watch some garbage TV as a break for myself.

We are trying to include some normal activities.  We eat 3 meals a day, we shower, and have even done some light cooking.  This helps, but then the normal activities end and I suddenly feel a little down.  I get overwhelmed by the idea that these TWO babies are mine, forever, and that we are responsible for meeting all their needs.  And that we will be parents for the rest of our lives.  At this point, I can hardly imagine the boys fitting into 6 month onesies, much less being teenagers.  But we've signed on for good!  And when that hits me, just that our lives are changed forever, I feel surprised and not altogether thrilled.  I have always been bad with changes and transitions, and this is a big one.  I feel guilty for not being 100% thrilled every minute, especially after how hard we tried to have these babies and how wonderfully it has all worked out, but I tell myself that this mixture is normal.  What I have does not even touch on post-partum depression, so I know there are mommies far worse off than I am. 

I am trying to take joy in the moments I can, like last night we did tummy time with the boys and Asher is so strong!  He does really well with lifting his head, and when Eric put a hand under his little feet, he flipped himself right over.  And Ben was trying so hard to roll, lifting his head and feet and aiming his feet to the side.  It was adorable.  And I guess life is like that, it is never all good or all bad.  So far we have been lucky and the good has outweighed the bad here.  Our boys are peaceful, adorable, and healthy, and Eric and I have managed to take care of them with a minimum of strife.  But it would be unfair not to acknowledge that there is more to it, or to pretend that now that I have my babies, life is perfect.

Monday, April 5, 2010

10 days old

So much has been happening here!  The boys had a big day last week-- their bris and naming.  For people who aren't Jewish, a bris is a Jewish ritual circumcision.  The circumcision is performed by a mohel, who is basically a professional circumciser, and takes place on the 8th day of the boy's life.  A mohel does about 4 circumcisions a day, most days, and the one we chose had done it for over 30 years.  So he knows his stuff!  I was very comfortable with him doing the circumcision.  I have no problems with circumcision, so was not too worried going into the big day.  Here is a picture of the unassuming victims on their way to my parents' house for the big bris:
There were about 50 friends and family members in attendance.  My mom's friends seemed totally thrilled and overwhelmed to meet my sons and everyone was exclaiming over how gorgeous they are and how wonderful it is that they have arrived safely and in good health.  I was also again so grateful for all of the love and support that these babies (and their parents!) have from those around them.  There is no doubt in my mind that these boys are well-loved.  Here are some pictures from the ceremony (taken only when diapers are on):
First, Benjamin is done and was given his Manischewitz-soaked lollipop (which he sucked every ounce of wine out of):
 Here is Asher getting his lollipop:

And here are both boys getting their Hebrew names. 

To make life simple, their Hebrew names are the same as their English names.  Most Hebrew names are in the form of "Rebecca, daughter of (mom's name) and (dad's name).  But because Eric is not Jewish, my boys are just "son of Rebecca."  Eric participated in the ceremony despite the fact that it was full of talk about God and Judaism and he does not believe in God.  I was very appreciative of that, since he knows how much all this means to me.  Not that I am especially religious, but I strongly identify with Judaism and its values, and we are in agreement that is how we will raise our sons.  So we are off on the right foot here.  Oh, and I didn't watch the circumcisions.  I am ok with it happening but no need to see it take place.  I also didn't really cry-- just a little when I heard my babies start to cry, but they quickly stopped and then I felt ok. 

In other baby news, both boys lost their umbilical cord stumps.  Asher lost his yesterday, and Benjamin lost his today.  They both had baths (those pictures will come later) in the kitchen sink.  They seemed to hate the bath, but I loved how soft their skin was afterward.

My recovery is going uneventfully.  I have more energy everyday.  Today we went on a walk in the beautiful weather.  They slept, and it was the longest walk I have taken since December!  My mom pushed the stroller up the big hills, but it felt good.  My tummy has gone done A LOT.  I am nowhere near my former body, there is still a little pouch below my belly button, but I am hopeful that I can take care of it once I start to exercise.  And, after all those weeks stretch-mark free, I have stretch marks.  They are on my right side, basically where Asher was.  I am going to try out the Mederma stretch mark cream and see how it goes.

I have been wearing something called the "Belly Bandit" during the day.  It is basically a new-fangled girdle, one big piece of fabric with velcro.  It holds everything in and supposedly improves posture.  I don't know if it is responsible for the reduction in the size of my belly, but at this point, I would say it was worth it.  I will have to take a belly picture soon to show you.  But only from the side, since from the front you can see all the stretch marks and I'm not entirely comfortable with that.

To end, just some pictures of my beautiful boys.  Here is Benjamin napping on Eric:
Here is Asher after a very exhausting breast-feeding session:
And Asher in a "Mommy Loves Me" onesie:
As you can see, they couldn't be cuter.  I could just eat them up!  I am in love with them, and find it easier to relax into our routine.  I have been able to nap while they nap most days, so that helps, too.  And my mom is over pretty much every day to help us out, which is wonderful.  I know things will change from day to day, but right now we are doing well.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

6 days old

It is so hard to believe that 1 week ago today, I was still pregnant.  And had no idea I would be going into labor so soon!  Now here we are, trying to get into a routine with our two little boys.

As I am sure you can guess, it has been a little overwhelming since coming home with two babies.  For me, the days are fine but the nights are anxiety-provoking.  On our first night home, the babies were up constantly until 6 am.  It was awful, and exhausting.  During the day, they basically sleep all day and we wake and rouse them for their 3 hour feedings.  But apparently that behavior doesn't necessarily take place at night.  Since that first night, I have come to dread 9 pm to 6 am, although we have had better nights since (like last night, when they slept between every feeding and we had to wake them up.  It was tempting to just let them sleep but we were told to feed them every 3 hours so we stick to it, at least until they are bigger).  Eric is amazing as a husband and father, he is up for every feed (not that he has a choice), and often is the first to get out of bed when a baby cries.  He is so patient and affectionate with them, and has a good sense of humor when things get messy. 

I am, of course, thrilled to have two beautiful and healthy boys.  We had our first pediatrician appointment on Tuesday and they were pronounced healthy.  The pediatrician's scale said that Benjamin had gained back the weight he lost after birth, so that was also good.  So I guess we just keep doing what we're doing!  I was very proud of us, because our appointment was at 11:30 am, and by the time of our appointment, Eric and I had both showered, the babies had had a sponge bath, we had both had some breakfast, and we were on time for our appointment. 

I find myself getting caught up in ministering to their needs, rather than simply enjoying the babies.  Maybe this is normal.  Fortunately, I had a lactation consultant (LC) in yesterday who helped me a lot in how to hold the babies to nurse, and was very reassuring that no matter what I do, I am not doing the wrong thing.  Any breastfeeding at all is better than none.  So right now I am trying to nurse one baby per feed from the 9 am to 9 pm feeds (no attempting breast feeding at midnight, 3 am, or 6 am), and then I pump.  I alternate babies.  I am enjoying it, at least since getting the lactation consultant's help!  It gives me quiet time with each baby, and then we can have a little snuggle afterward.  The LC told me to nurse them in just a diaper, so it is nice to have skin-to-skin contact.  With how cold it has been, I was too worried about them dropping their body temperature to leave them unclothed for long, but now that it is warmer I feel better about it.

Anyway, it is time for our 9 pm feed, but I wanted to update.  I am having some struggles with the rapid shift in our lives, but I think as we get settled at home and I am not able to say, "one week ago we were doing grown-up things at 9 pm..." I will feel better.

Here are pictures.  First, our first walk yesterday:
Here is a picture of me with Asher after a very successful nursing session.  He latched right on and I think got some good food from it.  You can see he is very happy.  The picture is entirely unflattering to me, but I will post it anyway because Asher is cute.
And here is a picture of Benjamin.  I call this his "old man face."  Eric says his face reminds him of my grandpa David, it is apparently a Landes face that crosses generations.