Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy 6 Months

To celebrate PB&J's half-year birthday, we introduced them to solid foods.  We set up their high chairs for the first time and once they were in them, my eyes misted because they suddenly looked like such big boys.  Hard to believe it's been six months already ... at times it feels like it's all flown by and other times - tho rarely - it feels like nothing much changes and I fleetingly think I'll get to savor them as they are right now.  But then the next day comes and suddenly they feel heavier or they discover something new and times just starts to speed up so quickly it nearly makes me dizzy.  

Thankfully, we remember to capture a few of these moments to have something to look back on and savor at a later date.


We started them off with our homemade brown rice cereal and puréed sweet potatoes.  As you can see, day one was not so successful, but very amusing.  As they say try try again.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Purée Marathon

As the boys are very quickly approaching their half-year birthday, we are busy preparing for the big day.  I have wanted to prepare our own baby food for many reasons, but I think it's become far more important to me since I was unable to breastfeed beyond the first month.  Needless to say, my excitement is palpable.  

While my mom was visiting last week, we took a trip to Apple Hill - one of my favorite places to go in Fall since I was a child.  We bought a half bushel of super delish Fuji apples and an apple peeler.  The day before my mom took me shopping for canning supplies.  It took us only a couple hours to make some of the most delicious applesauce I've ever tried (the apple peeler was a huge timesaver!).  No sugar, nothing, but apples.  Wow.  I figured it out and we made 90 oz for only 25% of the cost of store-bought ... but with 250% of the flavor!  And I learned to can!  Yep, it's the little things.  

Today, I spent the boys' naptime steaming and puréeing.  Last Christmas, Momma B's parent's got us the Baby Bullet and I finally got to put it to use.  I have to say, I rather love it.  Another few hours later and I made: puréed spinach, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, zucchini, pears, and brown rice cereal.  I haven't even begun to figure out the cost analysis on today's bounty, but it made a lot of food.  I have no idea how long it'll last, though.  

I've read they may only eat about a tablespoon at a time at first, but how long does that last?  We currently have about 32 oz of brown rice cereal, 15 oz of spinach, 47 oz of sweet potatoes, 24 oz of peas, 14 oz of zucchini, 21 oz of green beans, 18 oz of spinach, and 47 oz of pears.  At a tablespoon - or half an ounce - each for PB&J eating only once a day, that would be 218 days of food ... and that's not counting the applesauce.  BUT my question is ... how quickly do they advance to an ounce each, two ounces each, etc.?  To two meals a day, to three meals a day?  It's all a little confusing to me.  

Ah well, we'll figure it out as we go I'm sure.  All I know is I'm actually having fun despite the tremendous responsibility I feel.  I mean, we are beginning to set the stage for their future food choices.  That is not something I take lightly.  Thus I'm ready to start implementing change into my own diet.  As our MoMs dietician told us, we only have a couple short years to get our own act together before they start to develop true eating habits that will be difficult to break.  I definitely want to lead by example and show them what healthy really means.  I've never had this kind of motivation before, so I can only think it'll help make this time different.

Today's 22 Days of Thanks, I'm thankful for food ... and what it will provide our boys.

*I've been wondering if this blog will keep the interest if I blog about my own health journey as well?  The title is rather limiting to accommodate more than just PB&J's stories, so I was considering an entire revamp that included a name change.  I'd love your input!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Confessions of the Ridiculous

There are some things that are a little embarrassing to admit, but yet are too silly to keep to myself.  Between feeding and changing babies, unpacking and organizing after this move, and the endless loads of laundry that are my life now ... I decided it was very necessary to iron, yes iron, a pile of bibs.  Really?  Bibs??  Yes!  These little pieces of cloth are a vital part of our boys' wardrobe as they are free-flowing faucets of drool and we need a lot of them!  Unfortunately they're often inadequate for the job because they're curled up and wrinkled.  Our boys need full coverage that these bibs haven't been able to provide ... so I ironed them.  They are now more functionable and I feel so much better having been able to relieve some of my OCD tendencies.

After working the last few nights, I've gotten very behind on my 22 Days of Thanks.  Thus, here we go:
7.  I'm thankful for finding a chiropractor that has helped relieved much of my back pain that I've been living with since pregnancy. 
8.  I'm thankful for a career I love; a career that challenges me often. 
9.  I'm thankful for our boys' caregiver that is an amazing blessing to our whole family - we missed her these last two weeks. 
10.  I'm thankful for a wife that is so thoughtful and caring - keeping the house quiet so I can get rest between work shifts. 
11.  I'm thankful to have served in the U.S. Navy among so many brave sailors that have fought overseas to protect our freedoms. 
12.  I'm thankful for my days off - allowing me time to play and care for two beautiful, giggling boys.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 6

22 Days of Thanks

Day 6:  I am thankful for my right to vote.

PB&J looking ever so excited after going with Momma L to vote.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 4 & 5

22 Days of Thanks

Day 4:  I'm thankful for a day of fun with my family in Apple Hill: apple-picking, pie tasting, and looking at the Fall colors.

Day 5:  I'm thankful for amazing contacts that surprise you with their generosity!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


So I'm a tad bit late - what else is new, right?! - but I love the idea of the 22 Days of Thanks ... So to catch up, here is my # 1-3: 

  1. This time last year, we were savoring the news that we were pregnant - with twins!  This year, they are here and we continue to savor each and every moment with them.  Can I just say? ... I LOVE being a momma!!
  2. Our friends and family are amazing and there for us when it really counts.  Moving is hard, moving with two infants is harder.  However, with the help and support we received it went as smoothly as it possibly could have.
  3. Finding a home that is near our family and friends, near my work, and actually feels like, well, home.

Normally, I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, but it's funny how having children changes things.  Dressing up the boys for Halloween was fun, though I was under the weather and didn't get to take them trick-or-treating or even see all the kids (and there were a lot!) come to our door.  Ah well, at least I got to enjoy this moment:

Today, they had their first professional photo shoot.  PB was such a ham for the camera, but poor little J was just overwhelmed and we all made fools of ourselves trying to get him to smile.  It was a lot of fun though and makes me look forward to more!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Update Catch-Up

I've not only been a terrible blogger, but a terrible mother ... well, okay, not so much in how I care for our boys but in my lack of documenting their growth and milestones.  One day I'm going to want to remember this stuff and it won't be anywhere to be found.  *le sigh*

Our boys are approaching five months and changing so fast.  PB is still our more cautious boy, not as quick with a smile, but when he does his entire face lights up.  He loves going to bed and seeing his mommies when he wakes up - we get the biggest smiles and it melts my heart every time.  He often looks so serious as he takes in the world around him.  J is our little flirty boy.  His eyes just sparkle and he has a way of looking at you that just catches your heart and reels it in.  His smiles take over his whole face too and, though they've both been laughing for quite awhile now, J's just starting to grace us with his contagious belly laughs.  


Both boys have been rolling onto their tummies for awhile now and though they both had a couple rough days getting used to the new position, neither are bothered by it now.  In fact, J now loves to sleep on his belly and gets mad if he's put down any other way.  Though PB still prefers to sleep on his back, I have often found him on his belly too.  

Both boys are weaning themselves off their Wubs.  PB still likes his as he falls asleep, but always spits it out right before he actually falls asleep.  J rarely sucks on the pacifier, but loves to hold onto the little dog.  In fact, both of them prefer to chew on the soft feet of their Wubs.  I think it's getting close to time to cut out the pacifier part.  The other day, PB decided his lip was far better than his pacifier anyhow.  And we've been finding random hickies on J's arms since that's his preferred soothie.  


Even baby hickies are cute.  ;)

They've both found their feet.  They love to grab and swat at their toys.  They "talk" all the time now - J is our little squeaky squealer while PB values volume over content.  They continue to sleep through the night; in fact, J is going longer and longer stretches before waking for his only nighttime feeding.  They're doing awesome at their caregiver's - they're very comfortable with her and adore her 6- and 9-year-old sons (who, in turn, adore PB&J).  They both are getting so strong holding their heads up and sitting steady.  PB is trying very hard to sit himself up, launching himself forward when in his rocker - we have to make sure he's always strapped in now.  

J delighted to discover his little piggies.

They're also growing too fast.  Their 4-month check-up was 3 1/2 weeks ago (I know, I'm so bad at this updating stuff!).  PB weighed in at 17lbs 1oz (80th %ile) and 26 1/2" (90th %ile) with a head circumference of 16.8" (50th %ile).  He's barely fitting into size 2 diapers (in fact, should have been switched to size 3s a couple weeks ago) and is starting to grow out of 6 month size onesies - he's been wearing 9 month size sleepers for a month now due to his length.  J weighed in at 12lbs (5th %ile) and 24 1/2" (20th %ile) with a head circumference of 16.6" (35th %ile).  He's still fitting into size 1 diapers, but not for long, and is still fitting 3 month size onesies, but sometimes we put him in 6 month size because we're getting bored with the 3 month selection having been through all of it with PB first - he's been wearing 6 month size sleepers for a month now also due to his length.

Our big, beautiful boys!

They're such great babies.  They rarely fuss unless they're truly hungry or overly tired, but we've learned to read them well enough at this point that thankfully that doesn't happen too often.  They're easily entertained and love getting snuggles and kisses from their mommies.  I know it's said enough to be cliché but I honestly can't remember much about what my life was like before they were in it.  Despite the challenges and my expanded waistline, I wouldn't have it any other way.  They're a continuous source of love and joy.  My heart is full to bursting.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Donor Siblings

I've been thinking about this subject off and on since we found out we were pregnant, but was reminded of it again today when catching up on my blogs and read this.  Momma B and I think it might be interesting to see others that are genetically related to our boys - to see any similarities and keep the options open for our boys if they're interested in knowing others that have part of their genetic make-up.  

I looked up our donor on the Donor Sibling Registry a couple times before and after we got pregnant and there was never any matches.  However, when I looked it up today there was one - a girl born in 2011.  Suddenly it became more real.  There really are others out there using the same donor.  I'm not entirely sure how I feel at this moment.  It's kind of a strange feeling.  

After reading her post, I also realized I could look at the sperm bank's Facebook page and possibly see other confirmed pregnancies.  I never thought of doing that!  I scrolled through tonight and found two more confirmed pregnancies this year in February and April - one of them with twin girls!  

Our boys have at least four confirmed genetic relations, that we know of.  I'm now debating on whether or not to join the DSR.  Our sperm bank doesn't have open donor options, so this would be the only small connection they would have.  I think my only hangup is the term "sibling" because other than genetics they are not related - at least not in my definition of family.  So I am torn.

Have any of you considered joining?  Or have you already joined?  And, if so, what are your experiences?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

PB is now a back-to-tummy roller!  Our strong boy.  However, it's not all cheers and giggles that come along with this milestone - not for PB anyhow.  Yesterday, nap times were thrown out the window as he ended up on his belly every time and would cry and cry.  I don't know if it scared him to find himself on his tummy or if it's because he would spit up almost every time or if it's something else altogether.  

I was worried about him sleeping last night and was prepared for a night of frequent wake-up calls.  Yet ... nothing.  When J woke up for his routine 3:30am feeding, I peeked into PB's crib and there he was sleeping contentedly on his tummy.  However, he woke up two hours early crying the same way he did all day yesterday during nap times.  

I'm so confused.

I'm seeking advice from all of you BTDT moms!  Is this a transition that he'll eventually sort out?  Is there something I can do to keep him from freaking himself out?  I don't want to try and restrain him or prop things on either side of him in the crib.

Edit:  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind PB sleeping on his belly.  Everything I've read says once they learn to roll over and hold their heads up then it is safe for them to sleep that way.  And PB has always been an awesome sleeper - sleeping 12 hours a night since he was two months old.  I'm assuming he'll eventually get over being freaked out by being on his tummy.  I'm just trying to figure out how to make the transition a little easier for him.  

We've already had to bypass current safety recommendations and put up the crib bumpers as we have found both PB and J in these positions:

J was full of giggles despite being stuck.

Whereas PB was not very happy about his predicament.
P.s.  I know I've been a bad blogger, but I've been thinking a lot about the future course of this blog.  I definitely don't want to give up blogging, but I feel a bit boxed in with the title.  Changes are in the works.  =)

Friday, August 10, 2012

He's Growing On Us

Our little J has hit another growth spurt.  It's been a crazy day around here.  Every two hours he's hungry - since 3:30 this morning!  I read an article on yesterday that said growth spurts get blamed for symptoms that may not be related.  Well, I went through their criteria and I can say with 100% assurance that, yep, our little J is trying his damndest to catch up to his "big" brother.  Their criteria:
  • He's hungry all the time
  • He's fussier than normal
  • He suddenly hibernates
Check and check and ... um ...!  Okay, so the last one hasn't happened - yet.  According to the article, this happens after the non-stop eating.  God I hope so!  His napping is all thrown off.  He'll eat, play and fuss for half an hour, want to be held and nap while in my arms - but if I try and put him down he wakes right up and cries.  I'm tired.  I'm hungry.  And I may stink.  

I'm glad PB isn't hitting this growing frenzy with his brother, but I feel bad.  The poor little guy keeps getting put in his rocker while I feed and hold his needy brother.  These are the times when I feel the twin-guilt of not giving both equal attention.  However, I have to remind myself it's never going to be completely equal.  Some days are just J days and others PB days ... and if we're lucky we'll find the balance for PB and J days!  Having only one baby to lather with attention feels like it would be such a luxury on days like today.  

Thankfully, I love having two and don't know what it would feel like with a singleton ... so I can't complain, even when my stomach is growling and I can't stop staring wistfully at the shower as I feed the ravenous J yet another bottle.

Speaking of ... cue hunger fit.  Crossing my fingers we still get some sleep tonight! 
Sleep?  Who needs sleep?!

Sunday, August 5, 2012


As we are about to enter into PB&J’s 12th week, I just wanted to write a quick note of gratitude.  

Everything about new parenthood has been much easier than we were led to believe.  It helps that PB&J are healthy, happy babies but I will give Momma B and I some credit.  Momma B is a cheerful, easy going person; that is a big relief when you are dealing with a screaming infant (or two).  Things can get intense really fast with two newborns and having a calm wife is so important.  Plus, I am learning to let the little things slide.  What used to be rigid is now flexible.  I find myself able to laugh at those things that used to stress me.

What is important is right here, within reach.  Everything I love and hold dear is healthy and happy.  There is nothing more I want or need for right now.  

My cup runneth over.

Friday, August 3, 2012

{This Moment}

{This Moment} – A Friday ritual.  A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The 2-Month Checkup

We have a couple of growing boys on our hands!  Both are very healthy and hitting milestones right on time ... which is wonderful news because I've been unsure as to whether or not we need to worry about adjusted v. actual age.  Had they been born two weeks ahead or maybe even just one week, we would never even worry about this question.  I've decided to ignore it altogether.  I'm such a rebel.

PB weighed in at a whopping 13lbs 13oz!  Our little chunka-monk has nearly doubled his birth weight in less than three months - so crazy.  He's also grown four inches and is now 23 3/4".  We have a solid boy on our hands wearing size 6mo onesies and size 2 diapers.  He's smiling more often, holding his head up and steady for long periods of time, standing and bearing weight for up to 15-20 seconds, is starting to practice pushups during tummy time, cooing and gurgling, following objects within his field of vision, is just starting to recognize our voices, and blowing bubbles like crazy.

J is still our little guy weighing in at 9lbs 6oz.  He's grown nearly three inches and measures 21 3/4".  He's only charting in the 5th %tile, but since he's always measured within the same %tile his doctor says he's growing the way he should be.  He's just grown into size 3mo onesies and size 1 diapers - though he still fits into newborn size shorts/pants since he's so long and lean.  He smiles constantly now (he also looks like he's laughing at times, though no sound comes out yet), he's very vocal and coos a lot, he's holding his head up for longer periods of time (though he's not able to hold it steady for very long), standing and bearing weight for up to 10-15 seconds, blowing bubbles, following objects within his field of vision, and recognizes our voices.

Though I knew they were getting shots, I didn't realize they were getting three of them plus an oral vaccine (find the CDC recommended schedule here).  I thought they might have two nurses give the shots at one time, but as it turned out the girl was so quick it didn't matter.  PB spit out half the oral vaccine, though J drank it right up - same happened when I gave them Tylenol before their appointment.  Both boys did cry with the shots, but they settled down right away with sympathy and cuddles from momma.  Thank goodness too.  Momma B was able to take a long break from work, but had to leave right before they got their shots and I was a little nervous about whether I could comfort them both on my own. I was so proud of PB&J!  They were their regular, happy selves afterward.  They did get sleepy much earlier that night, but otherwise weren't affected by their vaccinations at all.  Now perhaps the preemptive Tylenol helped or maybe they're just resilient - could be both, either way it was good.

In other news, I recently found out I am qualified for Paid Family Leave - a program in California which provides an additional six weeks of State Disability Insurance for new parents to bond with their child(ren).  Due to some misinformation I received from my employer's HR department, I was told I would only receive the 6 - 8 weeks of SDI for maternity leave and wasn't eligible for PFL, thus I had already informed my nurse manager that I would be returning to work August 13th.  Thankfully, she approved an extension to my leave of absence and I am now able to stay home with our boys until September 10th - a week shy of their four month birthday!  I cannot tell you how happy this makes me.  I miss working, but I'm not ready to go back - not quite yet.  I'm hoping by four months our schedule will be solid, all the details with their nanny ironed out (whom I finally met Friday and is absolutely fabulous!), and I'll feel more ready for the real world.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Schedule? What Schedule?!

Momma B had to return to the real world on Monday and I've been on my own taking care of PB&J for the last four days.  I miss Momma B!  It's not just her company - though I miss that greatly - but the extra hands.  I knew it would be a transition, but I had a lot of optimism that it would be so easy.  

I think these boys sensed that as well since Monday went so smoothly.  Eating every three hours, napping together, minimal fussiness - it was wonderful!  Each day since has not been so breezy.  Tuesday we did manage to take a walk and yesterday we also were able to go visit a friend for a few hours.  However, past the first meal of the day they are starting to do things on their own time.  PB refuses to nap after his first feeding around 7 while J snoozes away and I'm nodding off having gotten up between 3 - 4 am to feed J and again around 6 as Momma B gets ready for work.  Of course, after they both eat again around 10 PB passes out and J is wide awake and ready to be entertained.  Thus the rest of the day is spent feeding one then another, putting one down when the other gets up, etc.  I'm barely able to eat let alone get anything done around the house!  This afternoon I put them both down at the same time, praying they'd both fall asleep (or just entertain themselves in their cribs) so I could finally take a shower and eat something.  It worked!  Now most things I've read says at 10 weeks it's a little early for a set schedule, but I don't think it's too early to at least start trying for some sort of routine.  For my sanity, it needs to happen!

Nothing more precious than watching these boys sleep!
Now don't get me wrong, I'm extremely thankful we have two wonderful sleepers on our hands.  They both have been sleeping through the night for the last three weeks.  Bedtime has been pretty consistent between 7:30 - 8.  J routinely sleeps at least 8 - 9 hours, getting up between 3:30 - 4:30 am then going back to sleep for another few hours.  PB really blesses us as he's been sleeping 11 - 11 1/2 hrs, getting up at the same time as J between 7 - 7:30!!  They take 3 - 4 naps a day, ranging from 45 minutes - 2 hours at a time.  I know we're very lucky, though I will take some credit as I read a multitude of books and other online resources to figure out what we could do to help them figure out their days and nights and sleep longer stretches at night without having to resort to CIO or any other stressful methods.  So I won't discount any of that.  

I don't want to seem whiny or inconsiderate, as I know how blessed I am to care for these amazing little guys.  They make me happier than I could've ever thought possible.  But I'd love to be able to keep life going and not have everything put on hold because every minute is spent feeding, cleaning, or entertaining babies.  I'd like to shower daily, at least!  

So I'm going to keep on keepin' on.  It's bound to stick one of these days, right?!  

If any of you can relate and have success stories - twins or no twins - I'd love to hear them!  It's motivation and maybe what worked for you can for us too.   

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Real Thing

Nothing has been more exciting and grand than seeing these boys light up and smile, like for reals smile!  It's something we've been looking forward to all these weeks.  Yes there have been glimpses along the way - gassy grins and sleeping smirks - but nothing directed at us or because of anything in particular.  We've sung silly songs, played games, tickled bellies knees and toes, made funny faces, talked in goofy voices, basically made complete fools of ourselves in an attempt to make them smile.  Nothing.  

And then suddenly this week we got not just one, but both our boys to give us those huge, heart-melting gummy grins we've been dying to see.  I have to say it's been one of the best moments of motherhood yet.  I never thought I'd work so hard to get a boy to smile at me in my life!  For these boys, it'll never be work.  I yearn to see those smiles and getting one only encourages me to coax out more.  

PB's big cheeser was just caught today by Momma B.

J's been spreading 'em around all week! 

Everyone says how much PB looks like me and I never saw it completely until I put us next to each other (this was me at about 4 months old).  Yeah there's no denying, he's my mini!

Who can resist a little PB&J photo collage?!  I know I can't.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Down and Dirty

What I've learned in the last eight weeks:

Babies can stink.  They fart - a lot.  I had no idea how much.  And they do not smell good.  You may think they pooped, but nope it was just a loud, smelly fart.  Formula poops smell so much worse than breastmilk poops too. However, both are just as messy.  It can get anywhere and everywhere - a concept that Momma B affectionately calls "shitballs."  (It definitely makes us glad we have boys, I don't want to think of the mess one must deal with on a baby girl.)  And sometimes that smell gets in their clothes though not a drop of poo touched them.  Yes, it's that potent.

Babies can get dirty - without doing a thing.  Lint gathers between their fingers and toes.  Dirt gets underneath their fingernails.  Unseen spit-up forms crusties around their mouths.  They frequently get boogers - long, sticky boogers that are not so easy to get out with those silly snot-suckers.  Eye boogies seem to pop up hourly and need to be cleaned carefully.  Somehow the wax build-up in their ears came as a surprise to me.  This is a daily part of my personal hygiene regimen, why did I never think it would be part of theirs too?!  They get dirt build-up behind their ears that can smell like stinky belly button if not caught soon enough.  (Guess our moms didn't tell us to scrub behind our ears for nothing!)  

Babies can monopolize a conversation.  Who would've ever thought we'd have serious discussions with people about the workings of various brands of diapers - which ones leak - which ones are easiest to remove in the middle of the night?  Or how much spit-up a kid can produce?  Or debate about when spit-up becomes vomit?  Or intensely speculate about what eye color the boys will end up with?  I never wanted to be that boring person that has nothing else to talk about other than their babies.  I like to think I haven't gotten to that point and I try to reserve the majority of my baby talk for certain people within our personal circle, but I'll admit it's a struggle.  These kids are my heart and certainly dominate my life at the moment.  

Sometimes it's hard to realize just how rapidly they grow when we see them constantly, until I happen to look at them in someone else's arms and think to myself when did he get so long?

Sometimes it's hard to know what they need.  There are times they cry, they fuss, their whole head turns red and yet we've covered all their basic needs ... so what else can it be?  This can be enlightening at times, but mostly it's just frustrating.  No book can tell me about our babies.  I wish they could.

Sometimes I've done things I swore I'd never do, but despite the potential safety risks it's the only thing that works at the time.  I've microwaved bottles.  We've slept with both babies between us, covering them up with our own comforter for lack of any other blankets to keep them warm.  I've left them unattended on the changing table while I ran to get diapers or wipes.  

Sometimes exhaustion takes over my whole body and mind and I spend an entire day in a piss poor mood; but somehow I still find it in myself to smile and laugh when one of our little guys is nestled in my arms.  

Sometimes I'm amazed at how much I'm able to get done in a day, but yet feel so overwhelmed because there is still too much left to do.  Sometimes I'm amazed at how little I can get done in a day, but yet feel so productive because that little bit was the most I could do and was the exact thing I needed done.

Every day I learn something new - sometimes good, sometimes bad but always useful.  PB&J are changing and slowly becoming less like newborns and more like infants (though we still have some time before they're officially infants).  We get a smile out of them daily now and we're really looking forward to the day they become more regular and spontaneous.  J is eating with more vigor now, though still more frequently than his brother.  We're ready to start them on a more regular schedule and sleep train them, but they're still too young and their weight difference makes it difficult.  PB has been out of newborn sizes for a few weeks now, but J is starting to outgrow them too.  Somehow this saddens me a little.  Momma B returns to work in just over a week and that saddens me too.  I return to week in just over a month and that saddens me more.  I never thought I'd want to be a SAHM, but right now I wish it were possible.  Though we have a wonderful woman to watch them, I don't want to miss a moment.  It all goes so quickly.

The last eight weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind.  I hope the next eight weeks slow down to at least a strong breeze.  I'm so afraid of forgetting these early days.  I don't want them to get brushed aside as our boys achieve more.  I don't want to forget the heartaches and the bursts of joy as the newness of motherhood starts to wear off.  The last eight weeks have established my definition of myself as "mother," but luckily it's a definition that is capable of evolving.  

This is what happens when we let our boys dress themselves!
I think we have a couple fashion geeks on our hands.  

Okay, we were bored.  ;)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Learning Curve

Parenting has been quite the paradox.  We've had to figure out what PB&J need at any given time, what I need as I have been recovering, and making sure Momma B and I communicate at all times.  It's been emotional and a lot of trial and error.  I have been both very hard on myself and yet understanding.   I have been ridden with guilt, overcome with joy, and have cried over spilled milk (literally).  I feel a bit lost most of the time, but I'm starting to get the hang of things.  

Feeding these boys has probably been the biggest source of stress for me.  After all the time in the NICU, our boys were very used to bottles being the sole source of nutrition.  I've tried breastfeeding over and over; though they latch well with a nipple shield, neither PB nor J are able to sufficiently eat - J just lets milk dribble out the side of his mouth and PB does well, but spits up afterward every time (no matter what I eat).  I was okay with exclusively pumping, especially with J's eating issues.  It felt better always knowing how much he was consuming.  I was consistently pumping every 2-3 hours and I was very good at it while they were in the NICU.  I was still able to maintain it, for the most part, after PB came home.  However, once J came home all hell broke loose and pumping became the biggest challenge ... and the biggest source of unhappiness and stress.  I wasn't making nearly enough of what the boys required, PB was already up to 3 - 5 oz per feeding and J needed 2 - 2.5 oz.  I was overly exhausted pumping after almost every feeding and neither were on the same schedule at all - that first week they both went through periods of cluster feeding.  I also was doing it wrong.  Had I had time to research it beforehand, I would have found out I was pumping far too long at each session and I could've dropped a couple of pumping sessions and still made just as much.  And I'll be honest, we had to do a cost analysis as renting a hospital-grade pump and the necessity of formula (both for the higher calorie content they require post-discharge and sheer volume needed to feed them both) together was far more expensive than formula alone.  

Everything in me knew I couldn't keep it up.  I struggled with it, cried over it, and felt such a heavy dose of guilt for not being "mom" enough.  I felt good for having given them as much breast milk as I could during their first month, but I felt terrible for wanting to quit.  The stress, the lack of sleep, and the sheer unhappiness I felt trying to keep up the pumping schedule was too much - I was going into a dark place that wouldn't have been good for me and certainly wouldn't have been good for PB&J.  I already felt so inadequate for not being able to produce enough milk for both of them.  I was extremely hard on myself, not allowing myself to realize even without breast milk the boys would still be healthy and happy ... and I would be able to actually enjoy the time I had with them.  It took Momma B and my friends' reassurance and support for me to relent and open myself up to what I felt was best for me and for our boys.  And though I have felt a lot of relief since we decided to wean off the pumping and switch over exclusively to formula, I still feel an underlying guilt that can bring tears in an instant.  I try not to let outside influences get to me, there is so much pressure from people I know and society alone about breastfeeding and/or feeding them breast milk.  It was a personal decision and one that I am, overall, happy with - I am doing much better emotionally and our boys are healthy and gaining weight appropriately.  I couldn't ask for anything else.

Diapering has been another unexpected challenge.  While pregnant, we had planned on using the gDiaper system.  We were realistic enough to know in the beginning the disposable inserts would be the easiest for us as the newborn period is wrought with never-ending pee and poop.  Though we reviewed the videos and read all about the system, it is a bit more difficult to execute than it looks and it is not fun at all to mess with in the middle of the night.  Reality came home with us in the form of PB.  This kid goes beyond what I thought the typical newborn could come up with, at times going through three diaper changes in one sitting.  Fresh air hits his skin *BAM* he pees.  Put a little ointment on his bottom *POW* he pees.  He gets a wrinkle in his forehead *WATCH OUT!* poop is about to explode!  I've never done so much laundry in my life.  We haven't given up on the gDiapers as the execution can totally be operator error and will take practice, but the 3-diapers per change? ... we're hoping as they get older the books will be right and these things will ease up a bit.  So disposables it is, for now.  And who knows?  It may continue to be if ultimately things don't work out with the cloth inserts in future.  And that's okay.

What I'm learning is flexibility - with myself, our boys, and our expectations.  Some things may seem wonderful, in theory, but in practice may not work out.  And I'm learning to be okay with that.  I'm learning to take it easy on myself.  There is nothing I've judged myself so harshly than I have my ideals v. my reality with regard to parenting.  Thankfully, I have Momma B to soften things and reassure me.  She takes everything in stride and doesn't seem to struggle with expectations.  I think she has been far more open and flexible than I, thankfully.  She keeps me from falling apart at times, which in my postpartum hormonal haze is a very good thing!

But don't get me wrong.  I love being a mother and wouldn't trade it for anything.  These boys of ours can make me smile when nothing else can, they fascinate and amuse me, and my heart fills up every time I see them or even just think about them.  I can live up to the challenge because I love them.  No matter what, every decision is made to make their lives comfortable and happy.  That is my reality and I'm definitely okay with that.

Moral support at the pediatricians office.  =)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Family of Four

Our boys are three weeks old ... and they're both at home!  It was a happy three week birthday for all of us.  We finally feel like a family of four.

J took to the feeding-on-demand schedule very well.  It was a bit of a transition, but it worked and he found his hunger and his vigor for eating!  The change in him was so obvious to us both and we were excited our plan worked.  He gained weight and was eating regularly, so on his 21st day he finally got to bid the NICU farewell.  

J says - see ya suckas!
Having PB&J at home has definitely had it's challenges as both boys, especially J, have been cluster feeding every hour to hour and a half during the wee hours of the night.  Sleep is at a premium around here, but we'd rather have this than worrying about splitting our time between home and hospital.  We have gotten out of the house a few times - to lunch with friends, for a walk to the park, a trip to Buy Buy Baby - and they have done really well, but mostly I've been impressed with us and our ability to keep their accouterments to a minimum while still being prepared for anything (working around their schedules thus far not being quite as challenging as I had anticipated).  Yet finding time to eat, let alone supplying the actual meals, has been far more difficult than we could have planned for ... so we welcome all visitors that come bearing food!

Shop 'til you drop!
However, I would say having both boys at home has definitely had it's rewards more than anything.  They have remained easy-going babies, crying only when hungry, but easily consoled.  Their periods of alertness are stretching out and they definitely recognize their mommas' voices.  They're both gaining weight and have an impressive appetite (even our "little" J gained four ounces in the last two days, easing this momma's worries).  We're starting to see small half-smiles and their personalities are certainly starting to show.  

J in action
PB's milk-drunk look
I'm sure it'll still take some time for life to settle into our new normal, but I look forward to that day.  I am not trying to rush through and miss any experience, yet life does feel a little disjointed currently.  Momma B and I also have a lot of plans and experiences we wish for our boys, but we need more sleep and energy to make them happen.  So though today is a good day, that day will be even better!
Brotherly Love

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

There are so many things that have happened in the last week and a half, but the biggest focus for us has been the NICU.  It's had it's ups, but to be honest it's had more downs.  This has to be one of the most difficult things we've had to deal with - as these are our children, who cannot speak for themselves ... but I am jumping ahead of myself.

PB plunged ahead and started taking full bottles completely by himself, so the NG tube was taken out and after two days of feeding independently he was discharged home on Tuesday. It was a bittersweet moment.  On the one hand, we celebrated because our big boy was finally acting more like a term baby and was able to come home.  On the other hand J, our little guy, had to stay at the hospital and now we were split - in heart, time and space.  

Having a baby at home and one in the NICU is far more difficult and heart-wrenching than having both in the NICU.  Though we were allowed to bring PB into the hospital with us to visit his brother, it was not worth it - there was no place to change him, we were crammed into a small space that was barely big enough for us both to be there let alone with another baby, and time with J was still compromised as we tried to care for PB (sometimes Momma B was left on her own with them both because I had to go pump).  We then decided we needed to take shifts, but it felt like it was splitting our family even more and not all of our concerns would be met because only one momma was there to represent us both.  Additionally, we were getting far less sleep caring for PB at home, so it was even more difficult for us to get a lot of time in with J.  

Then there were our issues with the NICU's plan of care for our little guy.  He was finally eating - he didn't need any assistance with a chin hold and he was down to every third feeding through the NG.  However, we noticed a big discrepancy between nurses and the amount he would eat.  Somehow one nurse that took care of him five nights in a row was able to get him to eat near to all of a bottle at each feeding, even skipping NG feedings if he acted actively hungry.  Yet other nurses that were very negative in their communications with us would only get him to get maybe a third of his bottles and would decide he needed to have more rest thus going back to every other feeding thru the NG. When these concerns were brought up, we were often shut down by other nurses with the statement that it's always at the nurses' discretion.  It was all very suspicious to us.  

Then Momma B noticed one night that J was rooting and fussing, but it was an hour before the scheduled feeding (in the NICU babies are on a very strict every 3 hour feeding schedule) and the nurse refused to let her feed him and instead stuck a pacifier in his mouth.  Thus by the time his scheduled feed came up, he didn't consume much because he'd wasted so much energy sucking on a non-nutritive pacifier.  

Questions, frustrations, concerns were often not taken seriously or we were given grand generalizations about babies and eating and developmental milestones.  We both had our moments where we just broke down - leaving little J got harder and harder every day.  And four days after PB was discharged it seemed like J had not made any progress.  In addition, we rarely got to see the doctor and requests for him to call us were never fulfilled.  Yesterday I couldn't take it any more and let all my concerns out to his day shift nurse and finally I got a willing listener and someone that was also willing to help me find different solutions to address with the doctor to get our little guy home sooner.  She also wrote a note to the chart at my request so there was no longer any question on whether the doctor was told to call me.  It felt good to be able to talk about it with someone receptive enough to help.  

And the doctor did call!  In fact, today was a breath of fresh air.  The doctor on call this weekend is not our baby's primary neonatologist, but is an older gentleman that seems a little more lenient with some of the protocols and more willing to try different ways to get these babies home.  He stated exactly what we suspected, that it seemed like J's problem wasn't eating but rather a synchronization problem with his schedule and the NICU's.  He was willing to work with us and allow him to get his NG tube removed and just be fed on demand.  He did warn me that meant we'd have to be in the NICU for most of the day.  He also warned me it may not happen right away, it may take up to five days, but we definitely needed to give it the full chance to work.  J may lose a little weight at first or hopefully just break even, but if he "gets it" then he'll start to gain weight again and take in his full amount of needed calories.  

In short, we can finally see a light at the end of this dark tunnel we had been navigating so blindly.  He's been in the NICU for 17 very long days.  We're ready for our family to be whole.

I'm also happy to tell you tonight we actually feel like we are as this is the first night we get to spend all together.  The nurse reserved the family sleep room at the NICU for us so we can care for and feed J ourselves on his schedule.  PB is chillin' in his porta-crib and we're lounging on a pull-out couch, but we're all together in one room with minimal interruptions.  It almost feels like normal.  Of course, it'll be so much better at home, but this gives us a glimpse into what that will be like.  

All I know is our hearts are full tonight. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy 1 Week!

Our boys have now been in our lives a full week and yet I cannot imagine our lives without them already.  I'm sure many have said that before and many will say it after ... but now I truly get it!  There definitely is no way to fully and accurately describe how these little beings change you - inside and out.  

My life feels fuller now.  How is that?  I'm not even entirely sure, especially since they're still in the NICU and not at home with us.  However, it's true.  There is this sudden awareness of the world beyond myself.  A consciousness that supersedes the superficial reality that used to be me.  Suddenly there they are, a real and physical extension of myself.  Simply amazing!

Life with babies in the NICU is tough.  Information varies from nurse to nurse and isn't always the same as what you may have just heard from the doctor.  You have to learn to take each day as it comes and not expect anything - and yet, expect everything.  The noise and constant bustle around you makes it difficult to truly relax and we fear the over-stimulation may be making the healing process a little more difficult for our boys.  Frustrating.  It gets harder each night to leave them and my heart yearns to be near them at all times.  However, as I wake up in the middle of the night to pump, I think of them and know that we are doing everything we can do to make it better for them.  Hopefully it makes a difference.  We try to utilize the time we have with them while we're there.  And I'm doing the best I can to keep calm and tear-free.  That's not so easy either.  

Yet there is much to celebrate in this short week.  The boys are starting to gain weight.  PB has been a rock star.  He has done so well with bottle feeding.  Though he does have a NG (nasogastric) tube, he has been taking most of his feedings fully by himself.  He is also teaching me a thing or two about breastfeeding - namely, that I'm clumsy and no matter how much I've studied there is still a huge difference between reading and practicing.  He, on the other hand, seems to know exactly what to do.  Thanks, kiddo.  J may lack a lot of PB's stamina, but he's a quick learner.  He is still taking every other meal by NG, but he is starting to really figure out bottle feeding.  Momma B and I think it's going to just click for him one day and that will be that.  He's also a quick study when it comes to breastfeeding as well.  He latches beautifully.  He just tends to forget what to do once he's there.  

Breastfeeding is a challenge and somehow I think we may not fully get it until we're home and able to relax much more.  Thankfully, I'm learning patience with myself.  That, perhaps, has been the biggest challenge of all.

It has been a wonderful week full of so many ups and downs.  I look forward to everything that is to come.  Every day I fall deeper in love with both of them.  And every day I feel my love for Momma B deepen and expand beyond my heart.  Our family.  It feels good just to say it.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Short, But Sweet

Amazing how time just ticks by when you're on bed rest, but suddenly zooms by a mile a minute as soon as babies arrive.  I'm still reeling.

Our babies are finally here!  My amazement is just beyond suitable words.  However, my heart has swollen with so much love in the last couple days it's near to bursting.  Not just for these beautiful boys of ours, but for Momma B as well.  Our family is complete and I couldn't be more happy or more proud.

The delivery went smoothly.  The L&D nurses were simply lovely and though it was very strange to be on the other side of the bed, I had no doubts of the standard of care I was receiving.  I cannot tell you how strange it is to feel so full of baby one second and the next to feel suddenly deflated.  I also cannot tell you how hard it is to imagine how those babies actually fit inside of me.  They are so small, but yet larger than life.  Yes, I'm still riding on a baby high.  

PB, our little tank, came into this world at a very solid 7 lbs 6 oz and 20" long.  He also entered with a bit of a laugh as he chose to pee on the nurse as she was trying to stimulate him to breathe and cry.  J, our precious one, came in a smaller package than we expected at 5 lbs 11 oz and 19" long.  

At 35+1 weeks gestation, their APGARS weren't too bad at 7/7 and 7/8 respectively.  They both had some respiratory problems, but again, nothing that we didn't anticipate - so they both went to the NICU on CPAP (aka bubblers).  J did have two tiny pneumothoraxes and had to be intubated, but as soon as he received the surfactant to his lungs he was able to be taken off the ventilator and extubated within hours.  He may be smaller, but he's so much stronger!  He was also the first to be taken off the CPAP last night whereas PB took another day.  Now our concern is getting them to eat well.  J has been able to take in every milliliter given to him, but is very slow and gets tired easily from it.  He also is still trying to get a full grasp on sucking.  However, he's been able to tolerate increased amounts at each feeding and thus is also being weaned off the TPN and lipids.  Since PB was just taken off his CPAP tonight and passed his four hour trial period, we haven't found out how well he's eating just yet.  I anxiously await that news in the morning.  

Today was extra special because I finally got to hold each one of them at separate times, skin-to-skin for the first time since they were born.  Both of them snuggled right into my chest and life just settled into a slow, soothing rhythm each time.  I got in a full hour with each of them.  Those were the moments in which motherhood settled onto me and actually fit - I'm a mother.  Wow.  Unfortunately, recovery of my own body set a time limit on each magical moment.  Just as amazing, it was also the first time I've heard either of them cry since they were pulled out of me.  It was heart-wrenching, but also made me smile because I realized how laid back and quiet they've been despite everything going on with them and around them in the NICU.  I may be biased, but these boys seem to be the strong, silent types thus far.  And they're gorgeous.

I'm recovering pretty well, but will write another post in the future about me.  Right now, I'm all about our boys.  They are all ours ... and just so perfect.  I couldn't feel more blessed than I do at this moment!  Welcome to the world, my darlings.

PB (r) & J (l) born 5/17/12 @ 8:07 & 8:08 pm PST.

Our gorgeous PB after getting the CPAP removed today!

Beautiful J right after getting CPAP removed last night.

Such an incredible time-stood-still moment with PB.

Another amazing, priceless moment with J.
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