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.