Big Brother’s Birthday

Today we celebrate the birth of the babies’ sweet brother, who is FOUR.  How can that be?  He was just born, right?

I looked back at photos from the day he was born, and I don’t miss that day.  I miss every day.  I miss the passage of time.

I know it’s not PC to say, but I didn’t fall madly in love with him the day he was born.  I loved him, but every day since I’ve grown to love him more and more.  It’s like my love bucket for him and my girls is always full, but each day the bucket grows.  I don’t know if every mom feels that way, but this is how I feel.  I’m constantly surprised by how much I love him and how much that love grows every day.  It’s the same way with the babies.  Babies are hard.  You love them, but also, they make life pretty rough.  But every day, each smile, each “mom mom mom,” makes that love grow.

My little man is so kind, caring, compassionate, intelligent, creative, hilarious, and everything good.  I am so lucky to have him as my boy.  As much as it is painful to see that he’s growing up and will eventually move on from this beautiful age and probably not want to snuggle or read books with me, I look forward to seeing what kind of awesome kid he grows into.  Happy birthday, big brother!

Adapting

Thankfully, my husband took off the entire month of December, so he was able to stay with us and help navigate our new family situation.  That first month was a blur of breastfeeding, bottles, diapers, and crying…and toddler tantrums and tears, too.

During the first two months, we had to bring Baby B in for blood work multiple times to check her kidney function and Potassium.  She was on medication to help remove Potassium from her system as well as a new formula for babies with low kidney function.  It seemed like the formula made her little tummy hurt, so I tried to keep pumping and nursing as much as possible so she didn’t have to have the formula.  I felt so guilty for deciding to stop nursing and having my supply decrease when it seemed like breast milk was the answer to one of Baby B’s problems.

Baby B’s Potassium was slowly decreasing, but not enough so that she could be off the medication yet.  We also discovered that even experienced nurses and phlebotomists have difficulty taking blood from a 5-7 pound baby.  The day my husband returned to work, I brought the babies to the local hospital to have Baby B’s blood drawn.  Three hours and five needle sticks later, we were all in tears, but they finally got a draw from her foot.  After that, we have gone to the children’s hospital in Orlando for her blood tests, and they have had more success getting her blood, thankfully.

The hardest part about having a toddler and newborn twins wasn’t the lack of sleep, it was the feeling that I was disappointing my son.  Since the day he was born, he has been my number one.  He’s got such a dynamic personality that people are just drawn to him, heaping praise upon him for his little dances, songs, and monster truck commentary.  It was so difficult for him when he was no longer the singular center of my world.  People would visit and fawn over the babies, but he was an afterthought.  It broke my heart every day.  I just wanted to spend time with him again, after all the time on bed rest when I couldn’t do more than snuggle, watch t.v., and read to him. However, the babies needed me, too.  I constantly felt torn between my kids’ needs…he needed attention,  but they needed to have their basic needs met, and that had to come first.

One of the toughest aspects of having twins is that there are TWO of them.  Duh, I know.  But you don’t really understand how hard it is to feed two babies at the same time.  If you feed one after the other, especially when they are newborns, you’ll be feeding them all day.  You can’t hold both and feed them, so there’s some propping to be done.  Tandem breastfeeding was something I never mastered, although there are some super moms who can do it.  They both need to be held and loved; diapers need changed; baths need to be given — all of that times two.  Plus, Baby B seemed to be a little more high maintenance than Baby A.  She cried more (still does) and wanted to be held constantly.

In the meantime, our toddler was watching a lot of monster truck videos and Disney Junior.  He would come into the bedroom when I was nursing one of the babies and start yelling or throwing toys.  I felt like a terrible mom yelling at him and spanking his butt (which I rarely did, but ended up doing multiple times in the first few months after the girls were born), but he would yell and hit me when I was attempting to feed a baby, and there was no reasoning with him.  Before I knew that Baby B really did better on breast milk, I abandoned the idea of nursing, because it just made our lives more difficult.  I wanted to try to pump when I could, but I didn’t want the pressure of trying to feed two babies when it seemed to take such a toll on my son.

At first, it was so difficult to get out of the house.  The babies weren’t really on a schedule, and my toddler was not handling his new normal very well.  Luckily for us, my parents both retired last year.  They came up to help as much as they could, and the kids and I went to their house quite a bit, too.  The toddler went to his old babysitter’s house every once in a while, so he could get one-on-one attention.  Even with some help, there were plenty of days when it was just me with the kids.  I called my husband on more than one occasion, crying, and begged him to come home from work, because I just couldn’t handle the chaos.

I cried every day.  I was failing my toddler.  I was failing my babies.  I didn’t know what Baby B would need and how I could help her.  I was leaving the life I knew as a lawyer and transitioning into a role I never wanted, stay at home mom.  My husband had to go back to work, and I had no idea how I would handle three kids alone.

At my 6-week post-partum OB visit, I knew that I needed to talk to Dr. OB about what was going on in my life.  There were just too many crazy changes, and my life felt upside-down.  I knew that I was depressed, and I did not want to sink into a pit of despair when I was alone with my kids.  The doctor understood and prescribed anti-depressants for me.  He also scheduled a follow-up in a month to see how I was doing on the medication.  I felt relief that finally I might be able to feel happier and enjoy my babies and son.

To read about the rest of our TTTS journey, click here.

Full House, Full Hearts

Now that Baby B was home, it was like the plates shifted back to their proper position and the ground stopped shaking.  Now we just had to sift through the rubble and figure out how to navigate our new world.  But we were all together, and that was the most important thing for right now.

I still felt horrible.  The next day, I could barely move.  I stayed in bed.  My husband thought I was dying.  I didn’t get up to nurse the babies or change them.  Finally, I felt a wave of sickness and got up to use the bathroom. (SKIP THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH.)  I passed a huge blood clot, the size of my palm.  It was horrible, but I immediately felt better.  I called the doctor to make sure this was normal, and the on-call OB said it was normal, as long as I didn’t have a fever or any additional pain.

With that over, I was able to start being a mom again.  There was a lot of snuggling to do, and also a lot of shopping and Christmas stuff to finish.  Part of the problem with being on bed rest for so long was that, although Amazon helped me shop for some of the bigger things, there was still the completion of the gift-giving process to wrap up (hah).  Plus, I love Christmas.  I love everything about the season.  I wanted to go to the stores and see the decorations and hear the holiday tunes.  I wanted to dress my babies up in matching Christmas outfits and take a ton of pictures.  I wanted to bring my toddler to see Santa.  I just wanted our lives to be normal.

That week, we brought the Babies to the pediatrician, who attempted to assure me that we don’t know what Baby B will be able to do.  He reminded me not to worry about the future, just focus on today.  That’s nearly impossible for an anxiety-driven worrier like me.  But Baby B seemed to be doing well…she was gaining weight and rocking the newborn stuff.  We asked about seeing a neurologist, and the pediatrician recommended waiting until she wasn’t meeting milestones.  Although we thought that was strange, we agreed…after all, she was eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom, so what else would a neurologist tell us at this point?

Baby B’s first appointment with the nephrologist (kidney doctor) was that Friday, when she was 13 days old.  She needed blood taken that Tuesday prior to the appointment.  I received a text message from the office manager at my job asking when I might be coming back and if I could be available for a phone call with the bosses.  I decided that after the nephrologist appointment, we would stop by the office so I could hand in my notice, return my laptop and key, and pack up my personal things.

My mom stayed with the toddler and Baby A that morning so my husband and I could go to Orlando with Baby B.  Initially, a nurse took the baby’s vitals, then a nurse practitioner checked her out.  When the nephrologist walked into the room for the appointment, he brought an entourage of about 4 other people with him.  He didn’t even touch the baby.  However, he did say that he didn’t think she would need dialysis or a transplant (although his opinion has since changed), so we felt relief that maybe this kidney problem would be temporary.  They wanted more blood work done, so we had her blood drawn at the hospital before we left for lunch.  Before we even finished our food, the nurse practitioner called to tell us the results.  Baby B’s Potassium levels were too high, so she would need to be on medication and have blood work again in 4 days to see if it decreased.

I felt nervous as we headed to my former office.  After all, this was the place where I worked for 5 years.  I clerked in the Tallahassee office at the end of law school.  These ladies had been at my wedding.  They were there through my pregnancies and heard all the stories about my adorable toddler.  I was really going to do this — be a stay at home mom.  I never wanted that.  I mean, I wanted to be with my kids, and I hated leaving my son with a babysitter; but I liked using my education and my brain, too.  When we got out of the car, I held my office key in my hand, because I wasn’t wearing pants with pockets, but I didn’t want to lose it in the black hole of my purse.  I made small talk with the coworkers I hadn’t seen since the end of August, while they fawned over the baby.  The boss, office manager, and I went into the boss’ office where we had a phone conference with the big boss in Tallahassee.  I handed over copies of my resignation letter and started to cry as soon as I said that I didn’t know what Baby B’s life would be like, so I would need to stop working.  I did ask that they consider me for part-time or contract work from home when life became a little more settled, and they agreed.  Everyone was so kind and said they would miss me, but they understood.  I packed up my office (which was uncharacteristically clean, since I hadn’t been there in months), left my laptop with the boss, and said goodbye to my friends.  I was strangely happy in the car, as it went much better than I anticipated.  I didn’t know if my bosses would be upset by the news, but they seemed to be understanding and caring.   Now I could head home to focus on my babies (and my son) and try to figure out how to be the best mom to these sweet girls.

To read about the rest of our TTTS journey, click here.