Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Quick Tip for Twin Moms

As someone who adores organization, I am finding more and more practical uses for organization being the mom of twins.  One easy organizational tool that I have put to use is masking tape.  I had this tape lying around; I think I got it on clearance after Christmas one year.  The official name is Scotch Expressions Masking Tape.  I like it because it comes in different patterns so I can assign a different pattern to each baby.  In this case I use the blue tape for my boy and the green tape for the girl.  B for blue/boy and G for green/girl, get it?  Clever, right?   



It doesn't leave any sticky residue and can be written on with a Sharpie very easily.  I use it to keep track of the differences between Archer and Lyla.  It not only serves as a helpful visual reminder to me, but also to Adam, our moms and anyone else we've managed to convince to help us out.  I can make the blanket statement: "Anything with green tape is for Lyla and anything with blue tape is for Archer."  

I use it to label their car seats.  Since Archer is bigger than Lyla, the straps are in different positions on his car seat than on hers.  I just wrapped part of the handle with tape corresponding to each of their car seats.    


They also each use different diaper cream.  So I stuck some tape around the bottom of each tube to designate who gets what.  Archer does well with A&D.  Since Lyla has switched to formula her poop has been more irritating to her.  Our pediatrician recommended using Calmoseptine with every diaper change and it has cleared up her little bottom.  So the tape helps whoever is changing diapers know what to use on each baby.  


Finally, I use the tape to label each baby's bottles.  We used to have the same bottles for each baby, so it was a little more confusing when grabbing a bottle from the fridge.  We switched to a different kind for Lyla after trying out a sample.  Archer likes the Dr. Brown's bottles (and the millions of parts that go with each one) while Lyla does better with the Avent bottles.  When we would wake up in the middle of the night to grab a bottle, it was helpful to just look for the correct tape color when the bottles were the same.  I still use the tape on the bottles even though we use different bottles for each baby.  Since Lyla has a dairy allergy, I don't want anyone to make the mistake of giving her Archer's breast milk.   


Who knew tape could be so handy?!  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Things They Don't Tell You About Motherhood

To say the first three months of motherhood has been a blur is a huge understatement!  The range of emotions and feelings I have felt have been vast.  I have been ecstatic and thrilled, but also overwhelmed and frustrated.  I knew it would be incredible to have two sweet babies to call my own, but didn't realize just how incredible it would be.  On the flip side, I knew it would be hard to take care of newborn twins, but I didn't realize just how hard it would be.  For some reason, moms don't always talk about just how hard things are in the beginning.  But I'm going to discuss them now.    

Mom guilt hits fast and hard.  

I had always heard about "mom guilt" and knew it plagued all moms.  But I never knew how quickly it would set in and just how all-consuming it can feel.  I felt guilty almost immediately after my babies were born because they were born a month early.  I knew that making it to 35 weeks with twins was quite the feat, but I still felt guilty that they had to spend time in the NICU.  Then I felt guilty that the fact that my milk took forever to come in extended their time in the NICU.


When we eventually brought them home, the guilt kept piling on.  I felt guilty when they would cry and I didn't know how to comfort them.  I felt guilty that I decided not to cut dairy from my diet when we found out Lyla had a dairy allergy and gave her formula instead.  I felt guilty when Adam or one of our moms would be on the night shift and I heard one of them cry.  I felt guilty for trying to sleep instead of getting up to take care of them.  

That's just the tip of the iceberg.  I feel guilty on a daily basis for even the smallest reasons.  But I'm also getting better at accepting this guilt.  It just means I care immensely about my babies and want to do everything in my power to give them the best life possible.  I know "mom guilt" is now a part of my life.  But it's a small price to pay in exchange for being a mom.    

Sometimes it takes awhile to truly connect to your babies.  

I expected to instantly connect with my babies.  I thought as soon as I laid eyes on them, I would be consumed with love and affection for them.  That wasn't exactly the case for me.  Of course I loved them from the get-go.  But it took awhile until I felt the kind of closeness I had always imagined.  

The first thing I felt when I saw my babies was shock.  I was just plain shocked that these sweet babies I had hoped and prayed for were finally here.  I was shocked that they were in the flesh and so big and healthy.  I was shocked that I could actually say I was a mom.  

When Archer and Lyla were in the NICU, I still didn't feel like they were really mine.  Sure I called them my babies and the nurses kept saying they were mine, but I still didn't really feel like they were mine.  I knew I was supposed to, which caused "mom guilt" (see above).  I think it was hard because I didn't feel like it was solely my responsibility to take care of them.     

When we got to take them home, it still didn't feel like they were my babies.  I don't know whose babies I thought they were!  But those first few blurred weeks when we made it home were challenging.  I think both Adam and I were so wrapped up in the basic care of the babies (eating, changing diapers, etc.) that it was hard to find the time to just sit and stare at the wonder of them.  

Eventually we all got to know each other better.  I now know what each Archer and Lyla like and what their different cries mean.  They are finally more content so we have more time together to just stare into each other's eyes and soak one another up.  I definitely feel fully connected to both of my babies now.  I love them immensely and completely!  I love to smoosh my cheek up against theirs and just breathe in their sweet baby scents.  The look up at me and smile and I just melt.  I would do anything for either of them.  I now feel like a mom.  But it took awhile.  


Some people don't really like the newborn stage.  

Once again, I feel a bit guilty admitting this, but I didn't really like the newborn stage.  I thought I would just feed them and then hold them and then lay them down in their cribs and they would drift off to sleep.  Then I would have time to go put on makeup and cook dinner.  Hahahahahaha!!!!!  Boy, was I in denial!  I barely had time to function in those early days.  

And the screaming!  There was so much screaming!  I felt like my babies, especially Lyla, screamed way more than was considered "normal."  And they both needed to be in constant motion.  We either had to rock them in the rocking chair or jiggle them while standing.  I think the fact that they were born a month early had something to do with that.  I remember Adam and I went to a family reunion where there were two other babies.  They seemed so content compared to our babies.  At one point my cousin put a blanket down on top of a table and put his baby down on it.  She was content to stay on that blanket for an hour.  I looked at Adam as he was jiggling a screaming Lyla and said, "Just lay out a blanket for Lyla on the table."  We both got a good laugh out of that one.  She would have lost her cool if we tried that.


But as soon as Archer and Lyla turned 3 months old, I feel like we hit a sweet spot.  They are so much more content and easy to soothe.  They are sleeping well through the night.  They are so much fun and smile and coo at me.  I love this stage so, so much!  

It takes a metropolitan city to raise twins.  

Forget the village, it takes a whole entire metropolitan city to raise twins!  Our moms have been the biggest helpers and we are forever indebted to them for all they have done for us and our babies.  Thanks to them taking over the night shifts for us, Adam and I were able to get some much needed sleep.  I don't want to even think about the crabby zombies Adam and I would be if we hadn't had their help.  We owe them BIG TIME!!!!! 

 

As if our moms' help wasn't enough, we had lots of friends and family help us out in lots of other ways.  My dad, brother and Adam's dad helped take care of Jazzy while we were all in the hospital.  We were bombarded with so many sweet, thoughtful gifts.  Friends visited us and brought us food and held the babies for us.  And we can't forget all the thoughts and prayers everyone sent our way while I was pregnant and after the twins arrived.   


I also wouldn't have survived this far without all the messages and texts I've sent back and forth to my friends who have little ones right now.  I wasn't able to get out of the house very often and they were my link to the outside world.  They've all been a wonderful source of advice and support that I am truly grateful for.  

The hormones are no joke.  

I thought the hormones while I was pregnant were crazy, but the ones that came after giving birth were something else entirely!  I cried so much!  I cried at happy moments and frustrating moments.  I cried for absolutely no reason at all.  It's a good thing I didn't have the time or energy to put on mascara.  

Amidst this already emotional time, my grandmother passed away.  It broke my heart that she never got to meet my sweet babies in person.  She had battled Parkinson's Disease for a long time and I am grateful she didn't have to suffer or be in pain any longer.  But it was still a sad loss.  

Then Adam's best friend committed suicide.  Adam was obviously hit the hardest by this sudden loss.  But his friend had become a part of our family and I was pretty devastated by it, as well.  Becoming a mom made me ache for Adam's friend's mom.  When we went to the funeral I couldn't even talk to his mom.  I just burst into tears and hugged her.  I couldn't even think of any words to say to her and I certainly couldn't get any words out.  

Dealing with all that loss while still taking care of our babies was difficult.  We both wanted to just lay on the couch and cry at times, but we had to keep up with our babies' needs.  It was both a hardship and a blessing to have the distraction.   

Some of "the rules" go out the window.  

I'll end on a more lighthearted note.  I remember when we first brought our babies home, Adam and I followed every "rule" to a T.  We were terrified of our babies dying of SIDS or doing anything wrong.  So I religiously followed all the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines.  We put Pack N' Plays in our room with the intent of the babies sleeping in our rooms.  We always put them on their backs to sleep.  The only thing allowed in or on the car seats was the baby.  The only thing in their cribs was a fitted sheet.  We would only keep them in their car seats while in the car.  We wanted to do everything the right way.  And I'm sure we drove our moms crazy with all these newfangled rules.

Fast forward 3 months and we've definitely broken some of "the rules."  After trying to have them sleep in our room for a few nights, we booted them to the nursery.  They are noisy sleepers!  Every little peep and breath made us bolt upright in bed.  We decided that we wouldn't be good parents if we didn't get any sleep, so now they sleep in the nursery.  To be fair, we have a baby monitor and their room is directly across the hall from our room.  They are only about 3 feet away from being in our room.  

I also remember how I would make Adam take the babies out of their car seats as soon as we got home.  Since then they've been known to take an hour long nap in their car seats.  I still check on them every 10 minutes and they've survived so far.  I've also put some burp cloths in Archer's car seat to help prop his head up and some toys on Lyla's car seat to keep her entertained.  I've realized, as all parents probably do, that you plan to follow all the rules.  Then reality hits and you just have to do what you have to do to survive.  


I'm sure I'll learn many, many, many more lessons as time goes on.  And I'll be humbled all along the way!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

3 Months!

Time continues to fly by at warp speed!  Archer and Lyla turned 3 months old on November 3, 2017.  I seriously don't know where those last 3 months have gone.  I know they happened, but it's still hard for me to wrap my brain around them.  


I feel like we turned a corner as soon as Lyla and Archer hit the 3 month mark.  They have both been more interested in doing things that don't involve someone holding them.  That makes it remarkably easier for me to eat and go to the bathroom and take showers.  They are content to lay on a blanket on the floor, sit in the bouncy seat or take a ride in the swing.  


I've just now spent a few days with just them and me.  I have to admit, I was slightly terrified to be alone with both of them.  I feel awful when they are both crying at the same time!  I want to be able to console each of them, but when I try to console both at the same time usually no one ends up happy.  But I think they have both taken pity on me and agreed to be good when it's just me around.  Here's Archer planting the seed for Lyla.  


They are so much more fun now too!  They both are generally happy now and love to smile.  In addition to smiling, they are also cooing more.  It's absolutely adorable!  They've even paid attention to one another lately.  While they still manage to smack one another in the face fairly regularly, they are having more fun together.


I always figured they would have this bond from the get-go, but they really couldn't have cared less about each other up until this point.  Now they like to look at each other and have darling conversations.  Adam caught one of these conversations in the video below.  


Archer loves to kick these days.  He kicks his little heart out in the bath and while laying on the activity mat.  He smiles all the time, but always seem to stop when I'm trying to take his picture.  He is sleeping longer at night, but still wakes up for a feeding around 3 in the morning.  He still loves to be swaddled at night.  He used to fight us when we tried to swaddle him and work his hands up to his face.  So I left his swaddle off one night and it was too much for the poor guy!  His startle reflex is still going strong, so each time I checked on him his arms and legs were flailing around.  The following night, and every night since, he lays his arms by his sides when I put his swaddle sleep sack on as if to say, "Please wrap me up tight!"  

Since he still hasn't outgrown his startle reflex, loud noises scare the crap out of him.  I had him in a bouncy seat in front of the couch when I was going to pump the other day.  I undid the Velcro to my pump and you would have thought I set off a firecracker.  It took a good 5 minutes of consoling him before I was able to pump!  Adam has a particularly loud sneeze and that also sets Archer off.  Poor boo boo!  


Lyla seems to be much happier these days!  Now that we have her on formula since she has a dairy allergy, she enjoys eating.  We also give her baby Zantac to help with her acid reflux.  The combination of the two has significantly cut down on the amount of screaming she was doing.  She smiles lots and coos.  She loves to stare up at the mobile on the swing we have and the mobile above her crib.  She gets bored easily and likes to change up the activities she's doing on a regular basis.  She's also discovered her hands and likes to suck on her fingers.  She's even got her thumb in her mouth quite a bit.  I think she's going to be a thumb-sucker.     


They each grow so much from month to month, even day to day!  Heck sometimes I feel like they've grown when they wake up from a nap!  I am so in love with them both and am so freaking lucky to get to be their mom.  I can't wait to see what the next month will bring!