Monday, December 25, 2006

We have seen a great light

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness -- on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us, authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9:2-4, 6-7

This year, the tears at Midnight Mass were of joy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

First things first

I have about two hundred separate things I need to get done before leaving for the Coast tomorrow afternoon, including but not limited to: a) finishing the Doctor Who knitted hat for my BIL; b) finishing the crocheted shrug I was intending to wear on Christmas; c) begin and finish the Moebius scarf for G's grandmother; d) sundry domestic chores like laundry and packing; e) wrapping the presents in the really cute wrapping style I saw in Real Simple; f) acquiring the appropriate wrapping supplies for e). Therefore, it should be no surprise whatsoever that I am doing g) none of the above, and posting the First Lines meme to leave you with over Christmas.

January: I knew my New Year's Eve Eve Party was going to go perfectly when I went to get in the shower that afternoon and discovered that the Red Horse had arrived.
February: I just got the final beta: 2567 @ 20DPO, for a doubling time of 38 hours (down from 35 hours between #1 and 2).
March: Babies still alive: check
April: Someone or other, I don't remember who, made a snarky comment once about a woman knitting baby things at the RE, and I thought, omigosh, that's me, and felt like a real asshat.
May: So, in the two weeks since we found out the Pixels are girls, we've had approximately five hundred and thirty-seven separate arguments about baby names.
June: We went to a barbecue on Memorial Day, hosted by one of my fellow CS students.
July: I haven't been quiet because anything's wrong, just because I haven't had much to say lately.
August: I'm home alone tonight, for the first time in a long time.
September: I really thought we were going to have Pixels last night, but after 14+ hours in the hospital, I'm home again, with the babies still in my belly rather than my arms.
October: As part of the babies' birth announcement on my old blog, I posted that they were eating and growing well.
November: When you're pregnant, everyone tells you that your whole life is about to change.
December: So, y'know how I mentioned that the babies had a cold, and then that I had caught it, and then that it had turned into the Evil Death Plague?

A very merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A room of one's own

Four years ago, when my best friend was pregnant, one of our other close friends and I co-hosted her baby shower. At her request, we got her the Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper, and when she thanked us she told us that she hoped we'd both borrow it from her when our times came. M did indeed use it for her second child, but it then served as a laundry basket at M's house for a long time, while my time failed to come.

(Side note: chronologically speaking, I didn't actually spend a very long time in the infertility trenches. However, we had had to delay TTC longer than planned, as we went to add maternity coverage to my self-employed person's insurance and were told that there was a nine-month waiting period. Altogether, it took almost two years from the time we decided we wanted to have a baby to the positive beta. It felt like a long, teary time of childlessness even though we weren't actively trying to get pregnant for much of it.)

As soon as I did get pregnant, I knew I wanted the babies to co-sleep with us for the first couple of months. I was hell-bent on breastfeeding from the very beginning, and I knew that having them in our bedroom would be essential for that. Their sleeping in bed with us was never an option -- not only is it a lot harder to share a family bed with twinfants, but my husband is a dangerously heavy sleeper, and it wouldn't have been safe. So the co-sleeper was the perfect option, and we had it set up and waiting for us when we came home from the hospital.

I never did manage the ideal of rolling over and nursing without really waking all the way up. For one, breastfeeding was just too complicated in the beginning for me to do it without a lot of focus, especially if I tried to tandem-nurse. For another, the co-sleeper wound up being on my husband's side of the bed; the first week home, I couldn't scoot down past it to get out of bed because of my c-section incision, and we just never got around to moving it after that. Still, it was the ideal solution to having them in the room and close to us while they were waking to nurse in the night.

We knew we didn't want the babies to stay in the room with us long-term, though. Several of our friends are struggling with getting their four- and five-year-olds out of the family bed; while I know that infant co-sleeping doesn't necessarily cause problems with toddlers and post-toddlers, and that sleep problems can develop later even if infants don't co-sleep, it is certainly a battle that's easier to fight if the expectation is that the children will sleep in their own room. My husband was (as I think most husbands are) somewhat more eager to get them out of the bedroom than I was, since he associated that with beginning to relate to each other again as husband and wife, rather than as mother and father or husband and pregnant whale.

I flat-out refused to even consider putting the girls in the nursery as long as I was going back to sleep after feedings -- I'm lazy, the nursery is upstairs, and the setup isn't really good for nursing infants. However, when they started sleeping through the night, I didn't have a good reason not to put them in the nursery any more, or at least not one that was about their needs. With different children, I might take a different approach, but the fact is that my girls are ideal candidates to sleep by themselves. Once they go down, they sleep fairly solidly, can soothe themselves back to sleep if they do partially awaken, wake up for good at a decent hour, and amuse themselves with their crib toys for a while.

I considered doing a gradual transition to upstairs, but ultimately decided that it would be easiest to just take a deep breath and put them up there for the night. Last night, we cleared out the outgrown preemie and newborn clothes that I was storing in one of the cribs (and oh, how tiny those little clothes seem, just a few weeks later). We rocked them until they were well and truly asleep, then carried them upstairs (much to the amusement of the poodles) and tucked them into the crib. Then we turned around and came downstairs, and I may possibly have cried a little bit -- upstairs seems so far away, I worried I wouldn't hear them over the baby monitor, and developmental milestones always make me a little sad.

The babies themselves took it completely in stride, sleeping through the night as usual. I woke up at 8 AM to the sound of them cooing and chatting, and nearly ran upstairs to see them. You wouldn't think you could miss them when they're just in another part of the house, but it seems that in fact you can, and I did.

To me, putting them in the nursery was the second step of their becoming independent people, which you could look at as a series of losses. First they're removed from your body, then from your bedroom, next from your breasts, later from your house when they start school, from your exclusive influence when they're teenagers, and ultimately from your authority when they become adults. I feel like it's already gone so fast thus far, like I blinked and found three months had passed, and I'm afraid that toddlerhood and childhood are just another blink or two away. I'm trying hard to hold onto every last sweet moment of it, but every milestone they reach reminds me that it's a losing battle.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pretty good year

So, I'm 30 today. Despite a little moaning and groaning about how I'm all old now, I'm actually having a really happy day. It's not that I've gotten any flowers or fantastic presents (yet!), though my husband did manage to remember un-prompted that it was my birthday, no mean feat from the man who routinely forgets his own. It's more that this birthday is such a happier birthday than my last one.

Last year, when I got a cancelled Clomid cycle for my birthday, I was in the middle of the worst holiday season of my life. I usually love December, but there just wasn't any joy in it for me to find. I was so depressed, not to mention sick, that I didn't even get my tree decorated until the day after Christmas -- yes, pointless, but I needed it done for my annual holiday cocktail party. Just weeks later, I would get pregnant off our first IUI, but I had no way to know that, and not enough hope to imagine it.

This year, I'm spending my birthday peacefully at home, with nobody sticking needles or ultrasound probes in me. Instead of just the dogs for company, I'm typing this post while holding one of my daughters, listening to the other one coo at a mirror. Tonight, instead of a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant -- which felt so lonely last year with just the two of us -- we'll take the girls to go pick out a Christmas tree.

Yep, I'd say it's the best birthday ever.


Speaking of Christmas, we had a holiday dilemna arise last night. See, the babies are really into sitting up (with assistance, they're not even rolling over on their own yet), so I ordered them some Bumbo seats. They arrived yesterday, and now G wants to give them to the girls today and let them start using, while I wanted to wrap them up and put them under the tree. I see his point, which is that the girls will enjoy them now and don't know what Christmas is anyway. Still, it's important to me that they have something under the tree, that we can take pictures of and tell them about their first Christmas. We compromised on letting the girls start using the seats, then wrapping them up and opening them; it sounds wrong overall, but it gives everyone what they want.

What are you doing for Christmas with your too-young-for-Santa babies?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Slap me silly

... or, why Olan Mills sucks.

So, y'know how I mentioned that the babies had a cold, and then that I had caught it, and then that it had turned into the Evil Death Plague? I'm *finally* starting to recover from it, after two weeks of being pretty damned sick. That's a fairly typical pattern with me -- even the mildest colds turn into sinus infections and bronchitis -- but this time was really bad, enough that I even needed a steroid shot to help ease my breathing. I even had to cancel my oral comprehensive exams for my master's, which were supposed to be today -- I didn't think I would be up to taking a three-hour oral exam, and as it happens, I'm probably not. I still feel somewhat knocked-down and achy, and I'm still hoarse and phlegm-y; I was well enough yesterday to attempt leaving the house for the first time in a week, but it felt like a real ordeal, and I was exhausted afterwards.

The babies too have been sort of off-and-on sick, not enough for me to take them to the doctor, but enough that I've done a lot of temperature checking and snot-sucking. They have mostly been in good spirits about it, but there have been a few cranky days, and a few days where they just seemed kind of droopy. Yesterday was a cranky day, and today seems to be a droopy one -- they're on their second two-hour nap of the day, and it's only 1 PM.

As it happens, though, they developed a new symptom yesterday, one that enabled me to finally figure out what was going on. When we got home from our outing (a birthday lunch for my mom), I noticed that Katherine's cheeks were a bit red, but I just thought she'd gotten too hot, so I stripped her down to a onesie. After a bit, though, I noticed that her cheeks were redder still, but she didn't feel hot -- her hands and feet were actually cold. Then I looked over at Claire, who had only one red cheek, and it hit me... it looks like someone's slapped her! We've got fifth disease!

I checked the Internet and talked to the pediatrician, and we seem to have a textbook case of it -- the mild cold and low-grade fever, followed by the characteristic slapped-cheek rash. It doesn't really make all that much practical difference, since fifth disease is viral (a form of parvovirus), and we should be past the contagious stage at this point. Still, it makes me happy that I've got something to point at and say, that's what we've got.

The girls are likely to look like they've gotten into my makeup for at least another week or so, which is only a headache because I have got to take a decent photograph of them this weekend. See, Olan Mills apparently can't manage to get Christmas cards of pictures taken in mid-November ready quickly enough for me to send them out, oh, before Christmas. I've ordered some cute photo-holder cards from a client of mine, and I thought, oh, I'll just put the digital camera to work myself. But now, it looks like I'll be photographing some unusually rosy-cheeked babies, and I'm not sure my relatively meager Photoshop skills are up to correcting them.

So, if it hadn't been for the various screwups of Olan Mills, I wouldn't have to take my own photos, and the babies wouldn't be all rashy, and I wouldn't have spent two weeks being really freakin' sick, or had to put off my exam. Did I mention Olan Mills sucks?

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Nico asked about whether my girls were on a routine yet, and while I wouldn't exactly say we are, but I wouldn't say we're not, either. They don't do the same thing at the same time every day, but I've started to be able to pick out some general patterns. This makes me happy, since I'm the routine-oriented type in general, but I also felt strongly about waiting for the girls to develop it themselves rather than imposing a Babywise-style schedule on them.

Since I love reading about other twin moms' routines (or lack thereof), and since my cold has evolved into the Evil Death Plague and I am too sick to do anything useful, I figured I'd post about it rather than just reply in comments. I hope this doesn't bore anyone to death, but I went through a phase where I really wanted to know what other moms' days looked like on an hour-by-hour breakdown, so that's what we'll do.

We usually wake up for the day between 8 and 9 am, a luxury we have because I'm now a SAHM/freelancer. I nurse both girls separately, which takes 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how hungry they are, how lazily they eat, and how much I play with them. After their breakfast, it's my turn, so I put them in their bouncy seats and let them look out the window while I eat, shower, and usually read email for a bit. Sometimes Katherine falls asleep in her bouncy seat, but Claire almost always stays awake, because she loves looking at things -- her mobile, the tree outside, the bookcase.

They are ready for their next feeding two hours after the first one, like clockwork, so we nurse again for another 30-60 minutes. After this, they are usually starting to think about naptime. If they're drowsy or asleep at the end of nursing/rocking, they get swaddled and put down in the co-sleeper. If they're somewhat awake, I rock them a little bit more, but after that I put them down even if they aren't entirely out, because I want them to sometimes fall asleep by themselves. This is one of those things I might not do if I only had one baby, but twins sometimes just have to be a little more independent, for the sake of everyone's sanity.

Of course, if they're wide awake and wanting to play, there's no sense in putting them down to lie awake in the crib, so we delay naptime until after the next feeding, in another two hours. Once they do go down, they are usually out for two hours or so, then wake up and eat again. On a good day, they both do this at the same time, but of course that's not always how it works, and there are plenty of days I juggle babies all afternoon.

After the Big Nap, the rest of the afternoon doesn't yet seem to have any consistency to it. They eat roughly every two hours and sleep some more, but it's in half-hour or hour naps, with no predictable time. When they're awake, sometimes they are content to be by themselves in the bouncy seat or pack-n-play if I have to get stuff done. More often, though, they want to be interacted with, especially after 4-5 pm when they tend to get fussy.

In the beginning, I was a little lost as to what to do with them when they were awake, but I'm starting to figure it out. Sometimes we read books, sing songs, or play with toys (they like rattles and mirrors right now, and will watch them intently). Sometimes we go for walks, or rock in the rocking chair, or just snuggle with Mama.

Just as often, though, I involve them in going about my own business, especially if only one twin is awake. I discovered that you don't have to focus on amusing the baby all the time for the baby to be amused. Sitting in the sling while Mama folds laundry is entertaining, as is being held while Mama surfs or reads or codes. Lately, I've been putting them on the bed with me and studying -- they like to watch the shiny pencil move, and listen to me grumble about compilers. They also enjoy watching me knit, probably because of the bright yarn and the shiny moving needles. I really like doing this kind of stuff, as it involves them in life without necessarily revolving around them all the time. In fact, Claire's "helping" me write this post right now, as she was fighting off the Big Nap.

Things start getting predictable again sometime after 6 PM. On a good day, Daddy is home to spend a little time with them, but the bedtime wind-down starts with the feeding after 6 PM (which, depending on the day, may happen anywhere from 6 to 7:30). I really encourage each of them to eat as much as possible -- talking to them to keep them awake, putting them back on the nipple even if they fall off, that sort of thing. After that, it's time for the Weapon of Bath Destruction! I bathe them every day, less because they need it than because it makes them sleepy. I think this is partly because of the Johnson's Bedtime Lotion I rub on them, which I put in the bathwater to warm up. After bath, it's into a clean sleeper, and then swaddled up and put to bed. I rock them and sing to them, but again, I don't always do it until they're asleep.

Once they're down for the night, they usually stay that way until early morning. Depending on bedtime, they will wake up between 4 and 6, most commonly around 5, for a feeding. (Actually, I think they wake up more often than that and put themselves back to sleep -- I sometimes hear little noises and wake to see them stick their hands in their mouth. I don't think it's coincidence that they started sleeping through about the same time they got good at finding their fingers.) I treat this feeding like a night feeding -- no diaper change unless it's desperate, no lights, no talking, straight back to bed afterwards -- and go back to sleep myself for a couple more hours. Our day then starts over when they wake up and start cooing and talking in their crib.

So, there you have it, a complete picture of my life with three-month-old twins. I hope this is helpful to other twin moms!

Monday, November 27, 2006


The sleeping-through-the-night thing seems to be becoming a habit, despite all the Thanksgiving upheaval. Right now, they're sleeping every other night -- Monday night, Wednesday night, Friday night, and Sunday night -- with only one night waking on the others. I've also relaxed my modified-demand-feeding schedule somewhat for the night feedings we do have, since it seems that one baby will sometimes sleep through even if the other one wakes. Previously, I'd always feed the second baby after the first one finished, even if it meant waking her up, since if I didn't it was guaranteed she'd wake up an hour later. It may seem like a small thing, waking to feed one baby instead of two, but it's one less time I have to wake up from my night-nursing doze and get out of bed.

Now, we're working on getting them to bed a little bit later, so that they'll wake up a little later. If they go down at 7-8, they will wake up around 5, although they will go back to sleep until 8 after eating. However, I'm a night person, and I have a hard time going down early enough to get 7-8 uninterrupted hours of sleep. Even five or six hours is lovely -- I don't think I've gotten that much sleep since, oh, April -- but if I can shift their bedtime back some, I can sleep when they do and wake up for good at 6ish.

Amazingly, the sleep doesn't seem to have been disturbed too much by their first cold. I took them down to my in-laws' on Tuesday, and noticed that they were sneezy, which I blamed on the cats -- they have two mostly-indoor cats, and given that our poodles are relatively non-allergenic, I just figured it was a slight stress on their systems. The sneezing and snotting got worse, though, and they developed low-grade fevers, so I'm pretty sure they picked something up at the photographer's last Sunday. Neither was very sick or very miserable, but now G and I have it, and it's less than fun.

Oh, well, at least it held off enough for us to have a wonderful Thanksgiving with G's family and mine. The girls were the stars of the show -- they're smiling at people now, and it's more adorable than I thought anything could be. Katherine has a coy little smile, and Claire has an enormous gummy grin, with attendant cooing and squealing that I think will be a real laugh very soon.

I'm so unspeakably thankful that I have my beloved babies, and this holiday season feels so joyful to me. It's a sharp contrast to last year's misery, when my Clomid cycle went bust, and I was ill and stressed and depressed and physically and emotionally broken. I'm a little stressed this year too -- holiday prep, comprehensive exams, work stuff -- but there's a deep and underlying happiness holding me up, thanks to my very own little miracles.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Bedtime last night: 9 PM
Next time they woke up: 5 AM

Yep, I'd call that sleeping through the night!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Where I've been

I've been slightly jealous of everyone who's doing NaBloPoMo lately. I've never been the daily-posting type, but I have so many things to tell you all right now -- quitting my job! baby smiles! breastfeeding horror stories! two-month checkups! baptisms! baby sleep schedules! There are about ten posts floating around in my head, and I would've loved to have a motivating force to post every day, but I knew it wouldn't be realistic to do that in November, since I've been a single mom for about three weeks now.

No, G and I haven't split up, nothing horrible like that, but something has most definitely come between us -- his job. G's a computer programmer, just like I am (was? identity crisis here...), and he's been in a major deadline crunch due to the complete revamp of his company's website/ordering system/customer management system. The original deadline was October 1, which got pushed back to November 1, which got pushed back a couple more times, until it turned into today.

Accordingly, he's been working eighty-hour weeks since October, and the last three weeks have been more like 100-120 hours. There have been plenty of nights where he didn't come home at all, and on most of the others he's gotten home between 1 and 3 -- it's a red-letter day when he makes it home before midnight. He sometimes catches me in the middle of a night feeding and helps soothe or diaper a baby, but other than that, I've been completely on my own.

Being a single mom of infant twins is just about as much fun as it sounds like. Thankfully, I'm no longer working outside the home, so I can pretty much let the babies determine the shape of my days. I nap when they nap (and sometimes when they don't, but are content to lie down with me), so I'm getting enough rest at least, and that's keeping me sane. Some days, though, I'm about ready to cry when I think I've finally gotten them both to sleep and one wakes up (and usually wakes the other). They continue to be remarkably easy babies, but they require more interaction these days than they did as sleepy newborns, and I am clearly outnumbered.

I have handled it well for the most part, but I don't have many more days of patience left in me. Last night was the first time I really felt frantic, when they stayed awake way too long and got overtired and even putting them in the car didn't work (they'd be content as long as we were moving, then cry at every stoplight). I finally brought them by G's office, a habit I've gotten into after he went five days without seeing them awake at all, then came home and deployed the Weapon of Bath Destruction. They were more or less asleep by midnight, but I nearly cried when I came into the bedroom to go down myself and saw Claire's eyes crack halfway open. I thought to myself, I can't do this for more than another week or so, and I was pathetically happy when I called G at 7:45 am to hear that the website had successfully deployed.

I've tried really hard not to be bitter, because I do understand what he's going through. It's an unfortunate feature of our business, these insane release marathons, and I've been through my share of them -- June 2004 and November 2000 are completely missing from my personal history. I've gotten so physically burned out that it took my wrists months of physical therapy and steroids to recover, and so mentally burned out that I left the consulting world and took a "real job". And it's not like I didn't know this was coming -- it was made very clear when he was interviewing in May that this was coming, and I'm grateful that it's happened now rather than when I was busy giving birth.

I've been as supportive as I know how to be -- I've brought G food and clean clothes, woken up to rub his neck, even baked batches of cookies for all the programmers. (Which really threw me for a loop, realizing that I am the cookie-baking stay-at-home-mom of Hillary Clinton fame...) G tells me that he knows how non-fun it is for me, and while I don't deny that, I make sure to tell him that I'm not mad about it and that I'm coping OK, and that I hate seeing it be so tough on him. Still, though, the little voice asking if it's my turn yet has been getting louder and louder.

Fortunately, it is almost over. G will continue to have another tough week or two, but it should die back down to the eighty-hour level, and I expect it'll be more or less normalized by Christmas. This still leaves me largely alone to deal with the evening fussies, but at least I feel like the end is in sight, and I'll get my husband back soon. He came home at 5:30 PM today -- actually, I went and picked him up, because he was too tired to drive -- and even though he promptly zonked out on the couch, it still felt like a parenting team again. I even got to go to Wal-Mart without either taking the girls with me or calling my mom to come watch them (a subject for yet another unwritten post)! I know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was freakin' awesome not to have to deal with the cart plus double stroller, or the fifty million comments from strangers.

Oh, and did I mention I'm also studying for comprehensive exams for my computer science MS, which are scheduled for 12/7, and trying to do the odd bit of consulting work? Oh, well, at least my life isn't dull!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shape of this mother

When you're pregnant, everyone tells you that your whole life is about to change. I understood that, knew that the tangibles (house/car/job/sleep schedule) and the intangibles (motivations/hopes/dreams) were about to get major revisions, and I was fine with that. What I'm not sure I really *got*, deep down, is that the minute those babies were lifted out of me, I would turn into a different person altogether. Sure, this new me shares a lot with the old me, but right now, it's still easier to see the differences. It's not a bad thing, exactly, but I am still in the process of getting to know this strange new me.

To some extent, I mean that literally, what with the changes in my appearance. For starters, I am no longer blonde, for the first time in nearly 30 years. I was born a strawberry blonde, which turned to white-blonde after a few months, then darkened to golden blonde in later childhood and stayed there throughout my teens. By the time I was 21, it had darkened enough that I decided it was time to add some highlights, and as it kept darkening, I kept coloring it. With the pregnancy, my roots began to get very dark indeed, and I started thinking about just letting it go to its natural color. Three weeks ago, I finally took the plunge, and had it dyed a light brown which we think is more or less what it will grow out to be. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike it -- it's a good color for me, not unflattering at all -- and I love that I won't have to spend time or money maintaining it. But even after three weeks, I still pass by the mirror and wonder where the girl with the long golden hair went.

The new brown-haired me doesn't have quite the same body, either, and this is a change I don't care for. I'm still 7 lbs up from my pre-cycle weight (which itself is 25 lbs up from pre-infertility), a loss of 45+ lbs in the eight weeks since delivery. Some of this loss is water (of which I gained a ton those last few weeks), some is baby/amniotic fluid, but I've lost about 15 lbs of actual fat, thanks to the magic diet plan that is nursing twins. However, my body isn't shaped the same as it was the last time I was at this weight. I have less muscle tone, thanks to a year of no exercise and a couple months of modified bedrest. I have stretch marks on my belly, not as many as some twin moms, but enough to make me sad. I have a thicker waist, with stretched-out ab muscles that don't quite seem to have shrunk back to normal size. I have E-cup boobs, which stretch the bounds of size XL shirts and make me look ridiculously top-heavy. I don't have bigger feet, as so many mothers do, but my finger joints seem to be bigger, and my wedding rings will have to be resized. Diet and exercise will help fix some of these things, but I think some of them are permanent. They're very small things, in the grand scheme, but I'm still not thrilled about them.

Another distressing physical change is my left knee, which I injured in a skiing accident in high school. I tore up the cartilage and partially tore the ACL, and had surgery to clean up the cartilage. With physical therapy, and then the weightlifting I'd been doing in the last couple of years, it was actually in pretty good shape -- looser than the right knee, to be sure, but the strong muscles helped compensate for the ligament laxity. With the pregnancy, though, I noticed that it was feeling awfully weak. I wrote it off to relaxin and weighing as much as a small elephant, but it's actually gotten worse after delivery. I can't comfortably cross my legs, sit indian-style, or draw the leg up toward my body, and there's a noticeable give when the dogs bump into my legs. I'm afraid that the ligament has loosened more again, and that I'm now doing cartilage damage. I've made an ortho appointment for November 20, at which I suspect he will either send me to physical therapy or want to do more surgery. I have to say, as a mother of infant twins, the prospect of knee surgery strikes fear into my heart!

Emotionally, I've changed a lot as well, but these changes I like. I feel so much more relaxed these days, and I really notice the absence of worry. I've spent at least a few minutes of every day for the last year and a half worried about some aspect of fertility and pregnancy. That has gone away, and mothering woes haven't moved in to take its place. I'm not finding things particularly complicated -- the babies only need feeding, diapering, and loving. Some of these things are time-consuming and even painful, but it is very clear what needs doing, and all I have to do is execute to the best of my ability. Mostly because of sheer dumb luck (enough sleep, easy babies, no PPD), I'm able to do that pretty well, and so I feel sure-footed in this mothering gig. It's still tiring, and I haven't particularly liked flying solo all week (G is on deadline and has worked until 2-3 AM all week), but I'm doing the best job I can. All of that translates into confidence, which certainly isn't something I thought I'd find in motherhood, and which feels like such a gift.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Scenes from a Monday

Today is my first official day as a stay-at-home-mom (on which more later). Given that the babies don't know one day from another, you'd think that Monday mornings wouldn't be any worse than any other day. However, I offer the following contradictory evidence:

2:30 AM -- Be woken by crying baby. Decide babies' schedule was thrown off by late-evening in-law visit. Feed, and hope babies will now sleep for four or five hours.

5:30 AM -- Be woken by crying baby. Curse in-laws vigorously.

8:30 AM -- Be woken by happy cooing baby. Change diaper and apply grapefruit-seed extract, mupirocin ointment in nose, and Nystatin (aka Sticky Banana Goo).

8:31 AM -- Get shirt covered in regurgitated Sticky Banana Goo.

8:50 AM -- Repeat process with second baby, including second application of Sticky Banana Goo to shirt.

9:10 AM -- Apply gentian violet to both babies' mouths and to nipples. Inadvertently apply to babies' ears, mama's thumb, the bathroom counter, and probably a stray poodle or two.

9:15-9:30 AM -- Inadvertently apply gentian violet to onesies, blankets, burp cloths, and pack-n-play, courtesy of spitty babies. Laugh at babies' purple mouths.

9:31 AM -- Decide that purple-mouthed babies can be Elvira for Halloween, thereby superseding previous costume idea of Babies Whose Mother Is Too Lazy For Halloween Costumes.

9:32 AM -- Wonder who the dickens decided that babies should all dress up for Halloween, anyway. Curse Halloween vigorously.

9:35 AM -- Replace Katherine's paci in mouth for 537th time.

9:37 AM -- Give up on paci replacement, pick up Katherine, and rock her.

9:39 AM -- Notice warm wet feeling, and discover that Katherine has peed through a) diaper b) onesie c) blanket d) mama's t-shirt.

10:30 AM -- Time to feed again. Give babies more Sticky Banana Goo and vitamin drops. Admire how vitamin drop stains on onesies coordinate with gentian violet and Sticky Banana Goo stains on onesies.

10:31 AM -- Curse thrush and all its medicaments vigorously. Make note to self to buy stock in Oxi-Clean.

10:45 AM -- While feeding Claire, notice warm wet feeling, and discover that Claire has peed through diaper, onesie, blanket, and t-shirt.

10:45 AM -- Curse self vigorously for deciding to try stupid Size 1 generic-brand diapers. Resolve to just go buy the Newborn Pampers after lunch. Preemptively curse Wal-Mart vigorously.

11:30 AM -- Realize Katherine has gentian violet in her hair. Look at sticky stained sour-milk-smelling babies, decide that the child-welfare people would take them away, and announce that it's bath time.

11:31 AM -- Go to get towels out of clean-but-unfolded laundry basket. Discover a slightly muddy-pawed poodle napping contentedly in the clean-but-unfolded laundry basket. Curse poodle vigorously.

11:32 AM -- Observe towels and half-heartedly brush dirt off them. Contemplate going upstairs for clean towels. Decide that they're probably clean enough, especially given the current state of the babies.

11:33 AM -- Deploy Weapon of Bath Destruction.

12:00 PM -- Observe washed, lotioned, de-stickied, mostly de-purpled, lavender-smelling babies sleeping peacefully and adorably in the co-sleeper. Give thanks that Monday morning is now over and done with!

Friday, October 27, 2006

The next time around

So, lots of chatter today about limiting embryo transfers to reduce multiple births. Given that I'm a post-infertility mother of multiples, you might imagine that I'd have a thing or two to say about it, and you'd be right.

Quick recap for those of you who tuned in late: I got pregnant on my first injectibles/IUI cycle, which had been planned as a test run for IVF. I had six mature follicles at trigger, and I'm damn lucky that there were only two (plus something at 5 weeks that could have been a third sac). I got pretty sick from OHSS, and wound up in the hospital -- I didn't have a lot of free fluid, but my ovaries were the size of oranges, and I was in so much pain that they put me in for pain management. While I had lots of scares during my pregnancy, nothing actually went wrong until preterm labor at 32 weeks, which was easily stopped, and I ultimately had a smooth delivery and healthy babies. Overall, we were unbelievably fortunate, again and again and again.

We took a HUGE risk in going through with the cycle, one that I didn't really appreciate until well into the pregnancy. I was as informed as anyone could be -- my mother is the head nurse at my clinic, has 20 years of experience, has seen all the bad things that can happen, and told me all about them even when I didn't need to hear them. Still, I didn't really understand that a twin pregnancy was a big scary deal until, well, it got scary. In Julie's comments, I see a lot of sentiment that IVF patients should be better informed of the risks of multiple pregnancy, but honestly, my own opinion is that you could inform them until the cows come home and it wouldn't matter. Some things, you just can't learn by observation, only by experience; you think you understand what others are feeling, but then it actually happens to you, and you look back and laugh at your presumptuous self.

I don't think you could have told me anything that would have made me handle our cycle differently, short of looking at a crystal ball. But now that I've been through a multiple pregnancy, you better believe I'm giving a lot of thought to how we'll do things the next time around.

When you have twins, you learn pretty quickly that you could save yourself a lot of time and effort by just distributing a FAQ. You get asked the same questions over and over again, some disturbingly personal -- do they run in your family? (and its cousin, did you do infertility?) are they identical? can you tell them apart? do you nurse them, and at the same time? did you have a c-section?. Another popular one is "will you be having any more?", especially because ours are the same sex, and people tend to assume you want one of each. When I was pregnant, I would say I didn't know, but now that the babies are here, the clear answer is that we'd like to have more.

What's not clear, and won't be for some time yet, is just how possible that's going to be, and how much technology is going to be involved. Perhaps my unbelievable streak of reproductive good luck will extend to eventually start cycling on my own, and all these worries will be for naught. If it doesn't, though, we'll have a major dilemna on our hands about what to do about it. We know a couple of things from the last experience -- I don't respond to Clomid/Femara, I start slow and then go off like gangbusters with injectibles, G has great sperm, I'm prone to hyperstimulation, I can get pregnant if my ovaries can just be coaxed into spitting out the eggs. In a rather literal sense, all of our reproductive issues are in my head, tucked away in a questionably functional hypothalamic-pituitary axis.

If it weren't for the multiple thing, I think it would be a no-brainer to start off with injectibles/IUI, stimming a little more patiently to avoid the OHSS. And honestly, I'd be all right with risking twins again. I've had one successful twin pregnancy, making it somewhat more likely the second one would go OK. I'm doing reasonably well with twin motherhood, and while I suspect it would be a good deal harder if I had a pair of three-year-olds running around, I would also have the advantage of experience. I wouldn't consider it a desirable outcome, the way I did the first time, and I think I'd have a lot more oh-crap moments. But I wouldn't have a total meltdown about seeing two heartbeats, either.

What does make me want to go and hide under the bed is the thought of seeing *three* heartbeats, or more. We would not, we think, discuss selective reduction of triplets, but the idea of a triplet pregnancy fills me with fear. I don't think anyone has triplets without some pretty serious pregnancy and birth complications, and I'm not so desperate for more children that I'm really willing to put them, or myself, through that ordeal. Three or nothing is an entirely different proposition than five or two, and while I think I'd always be sad that we didn't have more babies, it's not the same as if we had none at all, or an only child.

So, if we're really serious about avoiding triplets, injectibles/IUI is off the menu -- even with a single follicle, I could still be in Jody's shoes. I think we'd go straight to IVF, transfer two, and hope that we wound up in the singleton 75% (contrary to the opinion expressed by a friend last night, who thought that almost all post-infertility births are multiples). I'm under 35, and have most of the factors that the studies say make single-embryo transfers successful, but my clinic's FET stats aren't that great. Fresh cycles are a big risk for me, with the OHSS, so regardless of cost, we'd have to lean toward FET to use up all our embryos if the single-embryo transfer didn't take. If the success rates were anywhere in the same ballpark, I'd consider it, but they're not and that's that. It's also an emotional thing -- I don't have the wherewithal to handle failed FET after failed FET.

So yeah, next time around, I think we'd just start with IVF and risk OHSS and twins again. Doesn't sound like much fun, though. I'd rather hope to just ovulate like a normal female.

And while we're at it, can I have a pony too?

(NB: Mind you, I'm not about to start back into treatment just yet -- I want the girls to be at least two before we start trying. But never say I don't consider my options well in advance!)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

More burning questions

What's even less fun than recurrent mastitis?


Yep, that's right, apparently I have thrush on top of everything else. Y'know, I thought we were doing well with this whole breastfeeding thing -- Dr. Clueless even commented that my nipples looked good during my six-week checkup last week (she's my new OB, as Dr. Dreamboat left the practice recently under some rather upsetting circumstances). However, given that I subsequently got mastitis, my baby spat up blood, and I got chewed up to the point where one nipple blistered, popped, blistered, and popped again, I decided it just might be time to reassess that. Therefore, we went off to the Dixieland Breastfeeding Medicine Clinic yesterday afternoon.

Turns out that the recurrent mastitis is because I wasn't treated right on the first round -- not the right antibiotic, and I didn't take it for long enough. I had just finished up the 7-day course originally prescribed, but now I'll have ten more days of cephalexin. This makes sense to me, as I have had problems with recurrent strep in the past, and it usually takes a longer course of abx to knock it out. Hopefully, the cephalexin will render me germ-free, and treatment of the cracked nipples will make sure I don't reacquire more germs down the road. We're also treating my nipples and the babies' noses with an antibacterial ointment, as the doctor said that recent studies show that babies are often carriers of the offending bacteria in recurrent mastitis.

Given that I had some cracking at the base of the nipple, and that one of the cracks looked yeasty, and that the babies' mouths were a little suspect as well, the doctor diagnosed all three of us with thrush. This might explain the nipple soreness I had even when they weren't badly cracked, though latching has to take some blame there too. We have a terrifyingly complete protocol of how to get rid of it, involving antifungal creams, Nystatin, grapefruit seed extract, and gentian violet. It seems like a truly daunting amount of work, especially considering I have to do it for two babies, but it's worth it to stop the thrush before it gets really seriously embedded.

I got the most immediate relief from the latching and positioning work we did. I'd been using football hold since the babies were born, as at that time it was the easiest and most comfortable way. I tried cradle a couple times, but couldn't seem to get the hang of it -- there were too many arms and legs and hands in the way, somehow. When she had me try it again yesterday, though, it just worked sooooo much better. The babies did a much better job of getting enough nipple, even little Claire with her tiny mouth, and they seemed very comfortable with it. As for me, it's made a noticeable difference in the state of my nipples in less than 24 hours. Feeding is markedly more comfortable already, and the cracked skin is already showing signs of healing. I guess you mend pretty quickly when you're not being re-chewed-up every two or three hours, hey?

The cradle hold is also helpful with our oversupply/overactive letdown problems. I've been feeding each baby on a single breast per 24 hours for a couple weeks now, but they were still choking and pulling off the nipple. With cradle hold, it's easier for me to lean back just a little bit so they're actually above the nipple, which gets gravity working in our favor. For the first time in forever, neither baby is strangling or pulling their heads back, which has also got to be helping me heal. On the down side, feedings are taking more like 20-25 minutes rather than 10-15, but it's a small price to pay. If you're nursing twins and have oversupply problems, I'd really encourage you to try this -- it's working great for us already.

The other downside to all of this is that I'm currently a walking pharmacy. In addition to my usual routine (thyroid meds, prenatals, iron, calcium, and b-complex), I'm now taking antibiotics, Vitamin C, probiotics (to help prevent yeast overgrowth from the abx), lethicin capsules to help keep the ducts from plugging, and ibuprofen round the clock. Then there's the antifungal and antibacterial nipple ointments, the gentian violet, and the grapefruit seed extract. It's like rocket science to figure out which pills need to be taken before meals, with meals, and separate from each other, and to figure out what to put on my nipples and in the babies' mouths, in what order.

I'm really glad I decided to go in and get seen yesterday, and I feel like all my boob-related problems are going to work themselves out quickly. Seriously, people, if you're nursing and having any issues, do yourself a favor and call a lactation consultant already. I know that's the all-purpose answer and you're probably tired of hearing it, but it has made a big difference for us already. Insurance covered my visit to the clinic, but even if you have to pay out of pocket, it's worth it.

Now, if only my upcoming visit to the knee doctor goes as well as the visit to the breast doctor!

Boobs in Dixieland

Did you know that there is an actual medical specialty of breastfeeding? I didn't, at least not before I started going to La Leche League meetings while I was pregnant. As it happens, there's only one breastfeeding specialist in the state, who just happens to be a leader of my LLL group, and also has a local clinic.

Normally, I would be surprised that Dixieland has something like this, as it is one of those states most commonly spoken of as a joke punchline. However, we actually have really good BFing support, especially here in my town -- a small-but-active LLL group, fantastic lactation consultants and BF-friendly policies at State University Hospital (where I delivered), and our very own breastfeeding specialist.

We also recently passed a state law that's drawn word-for-word from Florida's ground-breaking law, explicitly stating that a mother has the *right* to breastfeed anywhere she is otherwise authorized to be. For perspective, there are very few "positive rights" (i.e. the right to do a specific thing, as opposed to a "negative right" where the government can't stop you from doing something). The distinction's important, because a positive right can't be overridden by a private entity's policy, whereas a negative right doesn't convey as much power. If you have a positive right to breastfeed wherever you are, a store can't ask you to go nurse in the bathroom, at least not unless they want to get their asses sued. Given that this state was a civil-rights battleground not that long ago, people tend to take you really seriously when you start talking about how state law gives you specific rights!

Not, mind you, that I have actually really exercised my right to nurse my babies anywhere I damn well please. We're still not good enough at this whole latching and nursing thing that I can avoid waving my breasts around for the whole world to see, and I am just not down with that. I'm not hugely modest myself, but Dixieland is a very conservative state, and many people are uncomfortable with the sight of boobs. I do believe in politeness, and there's a certain rudeness in forcing people to witness something you know makes them squirm. I knitted myself a poncho specifically for that purpose, but not only has it been too hot, it also gets in my way. So until I can latch them discreetly under a poncho or blanket, we either nurse in the car, or seek out stores with nice lounge areas in the restrooms. But I *could* whip it out and nurse anywhere, if I wanted to, and that's the important thing. I don't mind making efforts to accommodate, as long as I know that I can nurse in public unimpeded if I should need to.

Interestingly, the breastfeeding law is fallout from Katrina. Something else I'd never thought of, in my pre-motherhood days, is that disasters are not very formula-friendly. Since our coast took a direct hit, the southern third of the state had no access to clean water for mixing formula. I live in the central area, and while water wasn't quite such a problem here, electricity was, for two weeks or so after the storm hit (I had power sooner, but many didn't). Formula was also hard to come by for the flood of evacuees from New Orleans and the Coast, and was one of the major donation items for which charitable groups begged. After Katrina, it didn't take a lot of convincing to get state legislators to throw their weight behind breastfeeding support -- a good thing blown in on an ill wind, in a rather literal sense.

This state is pretty crappy in a lot of ways, but when it comes to breastfeeding, we've got our act together.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Asked and answered

What is less fun than mastitis?

Recurrent mastitis.


What's less fun than recurrent mastitis?

Recurrent mastitis which causes your baby to have bloody spit-up, scares you half to death, and sends your poor feverish self rushing out to the pediatrician on a Saturday morning, only to be told that the baby's fine and that the blood probably came from your infected breast. Ugh!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Things we can do

Things the babies can now do, at five weeks and change:

  • Smile -- Claire gave me two real smiles yesterday! No smiles from Katherine yet, and Claire hasn't repeated the performance today, but I know there will be more soon.

  • Reach -- Both babies are now starting to bat at things they think are interesting, principally our faces and the toys on the bouncy seat. Katherine has been doing this for a couple days, and I saw Claire do likewise for the first time today.

  • Hold things -- Katherine will grasp a finger and pull it into her mouth, and she now puts her hands over her pacifier to hold it in place. This backfires on her as often as not, since she's prone to jerking her hands and pulling it back out of her mouth, but the intention is there.

  • Hold heads up -- Both of the girls have developed much better head control. When we hold them on our chests, they will hold their heads up for a good little while, then get tired and face-plant, over and over. This really helps me out, since they are much less floppy now, and it's easier to handle them both at the same time.

  • Look in mirrors -- They were so interested in the mirror during bathtime that I went to the Big Baby Store and bought mirrors for both of them. They really seem to enjoy being awake in the co-sleeper now that they can look in mirrors!

  • Melt Mama and Daddy's hearts -- no explanations needed for this one, I think.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

One Month

It's hard for me to believe that the babies are already a month old. G is always saying how he can't wait until they are toddling and talking, and he doesn't understand why that makes me a little sad. They've changed so much in the past month, and I'm aware of how fast the time is flying by, and how they won't be my sweet tiny babies forever. I can tell that, when they're older, I'm going to miss this stage, and that I'll want another baby (though who knows whether that will be possible...).

It's remarkable how much bigger they have gotten over the last couple weeks. At our two-week pediatrician visit, they had gained 13 oz each in the week since their final hospital weight check, and we were cleared to stop supplementing. I took them back for one more weight check a week ago, to find Claire was up to 6 lbs 6 oz, and Katherine clocked in at a massive 7 lbs 2 oz (9 oz gain for each). It's interesting to me that they are gaining exactly the same amount of weight -- they were born 3/4 lb apart, and they have stayed that way ever since. I'm guessing that Claire is now about 7 lbs, and that Katherine is rapidly closing in on 8.

They seem enormous to me, especially when I pick them up, and I'm a little taken aback to think that they are just now getting to average newborn size. I suppose this is appropriate, since yesterday was my official due date, and they are now 40 weeks adjusted (although I don't think adjusted age matters as much for near-term babies). I can't imagine how I would have felt if I'd carried them to 40 weeks (unlikely but possible for twins). I went to 35w6d, was physically miserable for that last week, and was probably getting close to being pre-eclamptic. When I looked at my newborn infants and thought, I had both of those inside me, I understood quite clearly why I could barely walk!

People would, and still do, tell me how tiny they are, and they just don't seem tiny in the slightest to me. The only way I can see it is by the fit of their clothes. I just today put away the last of the preemie sizes, which had all gotten too short for them, but most of their newborn-size things are still a bit oversized. Carter's/Child of Mine brand is a particular offender -- I think they just run large, as those were the last preemie things to go -- but I also have some NB things from The Children's Place, which are marked "up to 7 lbs" but which are still quite loose on my 7- and 8-lb babies. It pleases me to see them growing out of things, because of that initial weight loss, and because I've worked so hard to feed and grow them. I get a little thrill of pride, and think, I did that, it's my body which made them get so large.

As you might infer, breastfeeding is going really, really well. If we have any difficulty at all, it's on the oversupply end of things. While I don't have much trouble with leakage between nursing or with letdown, I can tell that I have almost too much milk for them. Both babies tend to choke during feedings, and will pull their heads back or come off the nipple entirely. After reading Cass's comments about oversupply, I'm feeding each baby on the same side for 24 hours, but I've been doing that for more than a week now and am not sure it's made a difference. I'm really not too fussed about it, though. It makes tandem nursing a little tricky, since I'm always relatching one or the other, and it probably contributes to mild nipple soreness, but overall it's pretty small potatoes.

Speaking of tandem nursing, it's always the second question whenever someone asks if I breastfeed them, though I don't quite understand why. It's not our default mode, but now that the babies are somewhat less floppy and can latch easily, I usually double-stack them at least once a day. If only one baby is awake, and I'm not sleeping or rushed, I prefer to feed them separately. That way, I can stroke her little head and talk to her if she's very alert, or read a few pages of a novel if she's too sleepy for much interaction, and have a hand free if I need one. However, if it's three in the morning and I just want to get them fed and back to sleep, or if we're going somewhere, or if they are both awake and hungry, I don't hesitate to pop them both on.

Thankfully, the girls remain on similar schedules, and generally eat about every 3 hours (sometimes 2 during the day, sometimes 4 at night). While I'm not quite ready to declare that we've avoided colic, the early indications are promising, as they really do not cry much at all, unless they are hungry or needy. The biggest crying difficulty we have is Katherine's attachment to her pacifier -- Claire isn't much interested in one, but Katherine loves hers, and will squawk like a little goat if it falls out of her mouth while she's awake!

Sleep-wise, they are starting to remain awake between feedings a couple of times a day, and to have longer wake periods after others. I think we're on the verge of transitioning to a schedule of naps and bedtime, rather than going right back to sleep after every feeding. We don't have a very firm routine at the moment, which bugs me a little bit only because I myself am routine-oriented. However, they have not yet naturally fallen into one, and it just hasn't seemed right so far for me to work to get them on one. I'm still pretty much letting them tell me how things will work -- in fact, we call them the Tiny Mistresses, because they are firmly in charge of all our lives (and also because of Katherine's oh-so-imperious squawk!).

And, since the Tiny Mistresses are now summoning me, I'll have to come back and tell you later about the birth, and about our developmental milestones, and about how I'm doing, and all the rest of it!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Getting started with breastfeeding

[Transferred from my other blog, originally posted 9/17/06]

As part of the babies' birth announcement on my old blog, I posted that they were eating and growing well. Therefore, the babies immediately went and proved me wrong by developing excessive weight loss, dehydration, and jaundice. I blame this largely on the slow arrival of my milk, which didn't come in until day 5 postpartum, but Claire's size also caused us some latching issues (poor baby has a small mouth, like her mother, and has trouble opening wide enough). Additionally, my "normal" postpartum swelling got seriously out of control, and my blood pressure spiked up to hypertensive levels. However, an extra day in the hospital plus some diuretics got me sorted out, and an aggressive regime of every-two-hour feeding and supplementation (finger-feeding with formula and then expressed breastmilk) got the babies in better order, and we came home on Monday. After return visits to the hospital for bili levels and weight checks, the babies were released to the care of their pediatrician on Friday, and I think we're on the upswing.

As things stand, the babies are receiving exclusively breastmilk, in a rather grueling feeding schedule. I begin a feeding cycle by pumping for 10 minutes to relieve engorgement and make it easier for Claire to latch, then feed each baby separately for 10-20 minutes. I've tandem-fed a couple of times, but it's not something I'm very comfortable with yet, and it tends to result in me getting chewed up. Therefore, I've put it on hold until the babies are a bit bigger and less floppy. After feeding each baby, I pass her off to G to finger-feed an additional 20 ccs of pumped milk, which he does by taping a tube to his finger, letting the baby suck it, and using a syringe to slowly push the milk into the baby. The whole cycle takes at least an hour to finish, what with diaper changes and baby-waking time, and two hours later, the alarm goes off to start all over again.

One thing I was really pleased with my hospital about was how very pro-breastfeeding they proved to be. The babies were allowed to nurse in recovery, room in, and co-bed, and nobody (except my mother) ever encouraged me to give bottles; while we did supplement with formula for two days at the beginning, it was only until I was able to pump enough milk to replace it. We had two excellent lactation consultants, who got me pumping on Saturday afternoon and spent hours helping me latch babies; we also had one evil one, but I mainly hated her because she didn't do a very good job of teaching me to use a supplemental nursing system, and also because I was just kind of disposed to hate someone at that particular moment.

I give the lactation consultants a lot of credit for my current abundant milk supply, which had been a major topic of concern for me before and immediately after the birth. Between my thyroid issues, infertility, and anemia (severe enough after surgery that transfusions were discussed), there was a non-negligible possibility that I wouldn't make any milk at all. I wanted desperately to be able to breastfeed my babies, partly because of the bonding and health benefits, but also because I wanted to do just one part of this whole childbirth process like a normal woman. When my milk was slow to arrive and the babies were pronounced ill, I spent a night sobbing to G, my mother, my mother-in-law, and any stray nurses unfortunate enough to wander in -- I just knew my body had failed me yet again. That it did come through, that I've been able to nourish and grow my babies, has been incredibly healing.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Now that the Pixels are here, I've decided that a new blog is the most appropriate home for our new life. I'm leaving The Fertility Project as it stands, and who knows but that I might find my way back to it when we discuss a third child. For now, though, that chapter of my life is finished. I got my happy ending, emerged from primary infertility and a high-risk pregnancy to find myself the mother of beautiful and healthy twins, and though I'm not about to forget where I came from, it's not where I live any more.

After I recovered from my attack of mastitis (without hospitalization, thankfully), I started working on coming out of my cocoon. I'd been mostly housebound since the bleeding incident at the end of June, then progressed to more strict bedrest after August's preterm labor. I ventured out once after the bedrest was lifted, but I was so enormous and uncomfortable that I didn't do it again. All told, I've not been out of my house, except for doctor's visits and hospitalizations, in about six weeks, and it felt so strange to go out into the world. Even my neighborhood felt somewhat unfamiliar, and everything was slightly too bright and too fast. With my mother's help, though, I started making a few expeditions, both with and without babies, and getting increasingly ambitious.

First was a trip to the pharmacy and the bank, (not entirely successful -- I drove off from the bank with the pneumatic tube in the passenger seat), then a jaunt to the stationery store for baby announcements, with Mom carrying one carseat and me slinging the other baby. After that was a much-needed clothes-shopping (solo), and then a trip to the pediatrician's, where both babies gained 13 oz (!) in a week and were released from the supplementation routine. The piece de resistance, though, was my very first solo outing, when I took the babies to the clinic's annual IVF reunion.

[Tangent: strictly speaking, as an injectible/IUI pregnancy, I wouldn't normally have been invited to the IVF reunion. However, my mom's brought her other granddaughter for the last couple years, so I felt OK about going, especially since I actually went through infertility treatment (and not just a Clomid cycle or two, either). I skipped the egg retrieval and spent less money, yes, but the rest of it went pretty much as IVF would have -- the monitoring, the injections, the transfer (albeit of sperm, not embryos), and let's not forget the OHSS and the multiple pregnancy. I may not win the Infertile Pain Olympics, but I at least competed in the preliminaries, and I felt like I belonged there, rather than in the "normal family" category. It was good to talk to other twin moms, too, since Dixieland doesn't have a Mothers of Multiples club at the moment (it died off several years ago).]

So the babies and I went, and let me tell you you would not believe how much attention you get when you go out in public with your infant twins. I'd assumed it wouldn't be as big a deal at the IVF reunion, since there were plenty of other sets of twins there, but my babies were by far the youngest. They even wound up on the local news coverage of the reunion because of it! I got a lot of comments about how brave I was to be out and about with them already, but the truth is, I'm finding it pretty easy at this point -- it's a logistical challenge, yes, but they are very good-tempered babies. Since then, I'm making a deliberate effort to get us all out of the house every day, even if it's just for a walk around the neighborhood, and all of the practice is improving my outing management skills. It still takes literally hours for even simple errands, but I am managing to get them done successfully, and it gives me a nice feeling of accomplishment.

The babies' personalities are also starting to appear more strongly as the days pass. For the first week or so, they were so sleepy (due to slight prematurity and jaundice) that I didn't feel like I could really differentiate them, emotionally. Physically, it's always been easy to tell them apart -- while there's a sisterly resemblance, they are definitely not identical -- but I didn't have a sense of how they differed from each other in behavior, and it bothered me. I was upset because I couldn't distinguish their voices, couldn't tell without looking which baby was crying, couldn't seem to focus on them as Claire and as Katherine rather than as a generic half of the twin pair. Happily, this didn't last long, and at three weeks, I now feel like I'm getting to know each of them. Feeding them separately is helpful here -- I do tandem-nurse sometimes, but I'm still more comfortable with one at a time, and I enjoy the chance to snuggle with each girl.

I'm surprised at how confident and happy I'm feeling in my new role as Mama. I didn't talk about it much before the birth, because I was ashamed to own up to having doubts and fears about something I'd worked so hard for, but I was tremendously afraid that I would find I wasn't really cut out for motherhood. As a recovering infertile and twin mom, I expected to get hit with a solid dose of postpartum depression, but so far (knock on wood) that hasn't materialized. I thought I might have trouble bonding with my babies, or find myself bored and frustrated with the basic process of caring for newborns, and I'm somewhat amazed to find how contented I am with it. Again, I think that the girls' personalities are mostly responsible for this -- they are generally happy rather than fussy, have their schedules well-synchronized, and eat and sleep in predictable and manageable intervals (allowing me to be relatively well-rested). I'm still fearful that this is some sort of early honeymoon period, and that in a few weeks I will find myself in colicky-baby hell. However, if that's the case, I suspect I'll weather it better because I've had the gift of this easy initiation to motherhood. I do feel a little bit guilty because it seems to be so much easier for me than for some of the other twin moms whose blogs I read, in the same way I felt guilty for getting pregnant on our first IUI cycle ("easy" by infertile standards). It's an unexpected gift, and while that doesn't lessen my enjoyment of it, it does sometimes leave me feeling squirmy, conscious of having received something I don't necessarily deserve.

So, that's what this blog is for, chronicling the work-in-progress that is my new life as a mother of twins. I can't promise I'll update all that frequently, since that new life contains rather less spare time than the old one did, but I hope you'll all stick around and keep up with us.