Monday, January 31, 2011

James Dean BABY


Had a Gap jean jacket, a pair of blue jeans from my Aunt, and a polo from my friend.  Put it all together and we get a James-Dean-Wannabe Baby!!  Well, actually, my husband thought he looked like James Dean since Leo is acting all cool in these photos.

So what did I do after?  I looked up James Dean to see what he looked like and got these pictures of him....

Whatever, James Dean, Leo is WAY cuter.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bedtime Fun



One night, we decided to let the twins hang out in the crib together for a little while.  They seemed to enjoy it!

Max (left), Leo (right)



They even interlocked their arms!
 
They look like two little puppies here.




Max with the pacifier right before we put him to bed.  He always does that signature pose with his hand in the air.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mono/Di Twins and NICU

One of the things I did throughout my pregnancy was read, read, and READ.  A doula told me that I should be wary of reading as it can cause more stress than knowledge.  So I put down the baby books and instead found myself going to different websites every night.  All the hours I spent reading....nothing prepared me for twins.  It was the second after I delivered that all the learning and figuring out and knowledge poured out onto the table.  It was too much, and I wasn't ready for any of it.

My OB doctor told me that we have Monochorionic-Diamniotic (Mo-Di) twins.  Mo-Di twins share the same placenta but have their own amniotic sacs.  Mo-Di twins are identical.  Since they had their own amniotic sac, their chances of survival were greater than if they shared one.  This was good.  But there was always a chance that their umbilical cords could get tangled up around their necks.  This meant visits to the hospital every other week for tests.  During the 3rd trimester, our visits increased to 3 times EVERY week for even more tests.  By this time, I was so huge, I asked the doctor if she could just do the surgery right then and right there (jokingly, of course).
At the end of my 34th week, my water broke and I went into labor.  I had to have an emergency c-section.  Baby B (Leo) who was presented head first and was supposed to come out first had slipped back up in me and Baby A (Max) came out first.  Weighing four and five pounds, they were healthy babies except Leo was having Apnea problems.  The doctors recorded his breaths stopping for longer than 60 seconds at a time.  I was unaware of what was going on with Leo since I was drugged up and out of it for the first 2 days.

I remember asking after I was wheeled in my room when the babies would be brought back to me.  No one gave me an answer, but they just said "soon".

After an hour, my husband carried Max in my room and he stayed by my side for the next 4 days in the hospital (even while I took a shower there).  They even made him sleep next to me in my arms.  But Leo stayed behind in the NICU.  My husband was pretty much gone the whole hospital stay because he was with Leo.  Everytime I pumped 10 mL of breast milk (which is NOT a lot), he would quickly run, and I mean, run, with the little tube of it all the way to the NICU ward to give to Leo.  I finished my surgery around 4pm, and was alone for the rest of the day and night since I had no family in town and my husband was in the NICU.

I really did not realize how serious Leo's situation was.  I thought it was normal that they had him there because he was just having difficulty drinking.  But later on my husband said it was pretty serious and his whole body would turn dark purple if you tried to hold him or feed him in the beginning.  After I heard that, I cried so hard because I can't believe I wasn't by his side the entire time.

The next day, my husband had to run errands and I couldn't stand being away from my other baby.  So I kept pushing myself to walk around the room by myself since the nurses refused to let me go to the NICU until I could walk on my own.  Finally, I did it later at night and put Max in my arms and wheeled down to the NICU.  Well, what I was about to see would break my heart.

I said earlier that nothing prepared me for twins.  But, to be honest, nothing and NOBODY tells you anything about what it's like to have a child in the NICU.  My mom kept telling me that it's normal for one twin to be in there for a little while and my situation was far better than a lot of other twin moms.  This is so true, and I'm thankful even to this day, but all pain is relevant when it's your child in there hooked up to tubes and machines.

  

Leo was in his own room and was in an incubator.  I could barely see inside because there was so much glare from the hallway lights on the incubator glass.  I'd always have to bend down and peer into the small arm holes.  The first thing I noticed was how much he looked like Max.  I smiled so much.  The next thing I couldn't believe was how many wires were hooked up on his body and tangled all in his bed.  The beeping noise on the machine will never leave my head, and I believe that all NICU parents can agree with that.  If I'd even walk too close to him, the beeping would start.  The nurses told me that when it would beep, it meant he would stop breathing and they'd need to take him if the beeping didn't stop.  It kept going off the whole time.

I cried a lot.  I could barely even watch Leo because I cried the whole time and couldn't see one thing.  Not to mention that my husband's parents and my parent's were out of state and out of the country.

It seemed like every 2 minutes I would whisper, "I love you, Leo".   Then I'd cry so much I couldn't say anything else.  I was so afraid to reach through the arm hole and touch him because he looked so skinny and fragile.  He slept so well all by himself and it broke my heart.  He needed his mama and I couldn't be there for him after the birth.  All I could think the whole time I was in the hospital was how scared he must be to leave my belly and enter this world and be alone without his mom by his side.  He never even got to see what his mom looked like.

Yet, every time I visited the NICU, I always felt this peaceful calm rush over me.  It was always quiet and dark, and the only thing you could hear were beeping noises.  Every time you heard beeping, you'd jump and think it was your baby beeping.  Then your baby would actually beep and you'd get mad at the nurses for not getting there quick enough.

He finally got his own enclosed room with a bed and bathroom for my husband and I.  He ended up staying a week and a half longer than I did.  Every day was the same routine.  We would walk through the entire hospital to the 4th floor.  We'd come to a telephone and have to pick it up and talk with the nurse on the other side of the door.  She'd see us and ask us the same questions every day.  Then she'd unlock the door for us and give us bracelets or stickers.  We'd then walk into Leo's room, and that's when the tears would start.

Again, the only thing I could say to him was, "I love you, Leo."  Mostly because I was crying too much to say another word.  My husband would tell me every time that he was going to get better and it would be ok.  But he also struggled to hold back his tears.

Yes, we were so fortunate that Leo's situation was not worse.  But no matter how many people say that "it's normal" or "you're lucky", it was the hardest thing I had to go through in my entire life.  Picking up that phone every day and walking down the NICU hall is a whole different experience that no one will ever understand until their child is in there.  It could have been harder for me since we had no family with us at the time.  Plus, I was still in shock from the surgery and from, well, having twins.  My heart goes out there to all moms who have to walk down the NICU hall every day.

The day I came home from the hospital, I put up a pink post-it sticker on my bedroom wall with the nurse's handwriting on it showing the NICU's phone number.  I called that number every single day to see if Leo was coming home.  The nurses ended up recognizing my voice whenever I called.

Today, the sticker is still on the wall.  I don't know why we haven't taken it down.  I guess it reminds me of how lucky we truly are and how blessed our family is.


My husband, me (with crying face), and Max visited Leo the 2nd day.  We managed to get a family picture!  I still remember taking it.  I never cried so hard in my life.

Precious Leo in the incubator.  His diaper was bigger than him!



UPDATE 3/13/2012:  My boys are now 1 1/2 years old and as STRONG as ever!  The bigger the challenge, the stronger you become.  Now, my days are filled with running after my toddlers but, mostly, them running after me!!!!




Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SNOW SUITS AND BABIES

The twins in their snow suits / winter coats.  We just got back from running errands and had to take pictures of them in these before we undressed them!

We got these snow coats at Walmart.  I think they were $20 each.  They're super nice and thick enough for the baby to stay warm outside during Winter.  But not too warm so they overheat.  Plus, they'll make your baby look super cute!  It has a zipper so it's easy to put on over their clothes.

Leo is in the gray suit, Max is in the blue one.  Max got quite comfy in his.


Leo in his winter hat from my mother-in-law




Sunday, January 23, 2011

Max Giggling A Lot - VIDEO

BABY FASHION SHOW!!

Just another day of dressing the babies and taking pictures.  Life is hard.


MAX


LEO'S GIVING A LITTLE SMIRK

MAX: "OH, PLEASE..."

MAX (LEFT), LEO (RIGHT)



AND YES, UNTIL THEY MAKE A TWIN SWING, WE WILL CONTINUE TO DO THIS!

Friday, January 21, 2011

BABIES PASSED OUT


Max passed out


He's frozen...


I put Leo in the crib and he never moved (at least for 10 minutes)


Max


Leo fell over and passed out on the couch


Max getting sleepy in my husband's arms...


...and then he passed out

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Waited All These Years...

Throughout my grade school and college years, I always felt like something was missing in my life.  Maybe my soulmate or maybe a different vocation or perhaps I chose the wrong path when a bend in the road was presented to me.  I never knew what it was that was causing this emptiness in a small space in my heart.  But I knew that there had to be more to life than textbooks, late-night studying, 9-hour work shifts, 8am classes..

Well, God wasn't ignoring me.  He had to reserve a special space in my heart:  for my husband, soulmate, and best friend... and later for two baby boys.  God just knew one wouldn't be enough!

I absolutely positively undeniably cannot express in words how my life has changed since these two were born.  I never knew I could learn how to be a mom...especially to twins.  It took a lot of tears, pain, sickness, and effort to truly start feeling like a mom.  But it came quickly and I learned quickly.

Yes, I love every second of it.  And I wouldn't change a thing.

My heart is happy.



Leo & Max in a crocheted hat I made him.  It was too big and kept falling off in the pic.
 Leo in his fancy cardigan.
 Max being all perky and happy that he can sit up while on his belly.

 Leo tried the hat and obviously loooooved it.  
 Max found a new comfy position.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Growing Up Too Fast

I asked my husband if he could draw a picture of Leo... and here is what he just showed me...



The babies are starting to sleep a lot more these days.  For a good two months, they would cry from 5pm-10pm every night.  And it would be at the same time every day.  But once 10pm hit, they would pass out... it was the weirdest thing.  Now, they are sucking their hands more and talking A LOT more, so they cry less.  I guess they are able to keep themselves preoccupied now.  Plus, instead of crying when they are hungry, they just talk to us and suck their hands.  So much more convenient!  The only downside to all of this is that they are staying up later and refuse to go to sleep at 10.  They cry if we put them to bed, so we get them and bring them out in the living room with us for another hour... and they just coo and talk to themselves like crazy!!!  I guess they weren't done talking for the night!


One new thing that started today was with Leo and his crying.  He will start to cry pretty loud and then stop all of a sudden for 3 seconds and look at us quickly... and then start crying again... and then stop and look at us, and cry again.  He does this off and on... as if he is pretending to cry to get our attention.  Looking at us is his way of making sure that we are paying attention to him so we pick him up.  It was the funniest thing!!!


They also are starting to get extremely sensitive to noise.  Max and Leo never were bothered by the vacuum.  My husband would hold Leo and vacuum and Leo would be sound asleep.  Now, they start crying (and it's the crying where they are scared), so I'll have to play with them while my husband is busy vacuuming.


I guess the other thing that we noticed lately is that if we sit them in front of each other, they like it!  They will coo and talk and laugh at each other the whole time.  It makes me realize how much I love having twins!  Sometimes I forget how great it is to have twins until little things like this happen :)   Unfortunately, after 5 minutes they got sick of each other and wanted to do something else.  Oh well, it's a start.


I'm just thankful that we don't have to hold them all day and night like we used to.  I can now put one in the swing and the other on the baby gym and they are content.  Except I need to watch them since they are starting to move themselves on the carpet with their legs (not their arms yet).  They kick SO hard that they end up moving a couple feet!  And they are really eager to move!  I can't imagine how far and how fast they will go once they start crawling.


Even though I don't have to hold them a lot, I'm starting to hold them more than I need to.  It feels so good to hold them now, I don't know why.  They don't move a lot in the morning so it's nice to hold them against my chest while they look around.  Everyone always says that a year from now they will do ANYTHING to get away from us and explore everything else.  It makes my heart hurt to know that it's sooo true.  I want them to stay like this forever!  No, really... I do.  God doesn't let them stay babies long enough.  :)


Max with a bib on... he drools too much





Here's a picture of Leo... miniature version of my husband








Thursday, January 13, 2011

Playing Dress-up With Leo




MASTITIS & THRUSH: My Story

The biggest thing that I was not prepared for when the twins were born was breastfeeding.  I took a breastfeeding class at the hospital, but to be honest, most of it I didn't remember or it just went right over my head.

My hospital believes breastfeeding is the best and only choice for moms (which got me mad a little because some moms NEED to use the bottle!).  From the moment I had Max in my room, they made him breastfeed with a nipple guard and supplemented with formula through a syringe on my nipple.  I did this every 2 hours, even though I had no milk yet.  It was tedious and stressful, but I'm glad I did it because Max was able to adapt to the nipple at home a lot easier than Leo (who was in the NICU and bottle-fed).  

Yet, no one told me that I needed to breastfeed or pump every 2 hours around the clock.  And no one warned me of what would happen if I decided not to empty my breast.

When my milk supply came in, I pumped frequently and stored the excess milk in the freezer.  I thought since I had so much, I would take a break and not pump or breastfeed.  Plus, I was sleep deprived and starting to not feel good (too much milk in my breast was building up).  

BIG MISTAKE!!!

I quickly developed chills in my body and nausea and extreme tiredness. I couldn't even get up and walk around because I thought I'd faint from sleepiness.  Basically it was like the flu hit me, but maybe a couple times worse.  Luckily, my mother-in-law was visiting and took care of the household while I slept all day and all night.  I woke up a few times to pump since I was so engorged (another thing I never knew about), but my breasts became engorged within 5 minutes after pumping.  My breasts hurt and ached so bad, even after pumping.  When I swallowed water, it felt like cold water was running through my breasts and cutting the insides as it ran through my body.  Yet, I had to drink... but it hurt so bad every time I almost cried.  

I dealt with the Mastitis for about 3 days and then went to my doctor who gave me antibiotics.  I then learned from him and the lactation nurse that IF YOU DO NOT EMPTY THE BREAST ON A REGULAR BASIS, YOU WIL DEVELOP PLUGGED MILK DUCTS.  The milk builds up behind the breast and starts to get old and grow bacteria.  Thus, an infection arises!!  

So, I pumped like crazy and swore to myself I would never let this happen again!  Well, the twins got thrush in their mouths from the antibiotics and then gave it to me while breastfeeding.  They cried like crazy and it took forever for them to eat each time.  Plus, my nipples ached all the time and felt raw.  It's a beast to get rid of (thrush), but with Nystatin for the twins, a 3-week treatment of Diflucan , and nipple ointment, I gained some relief. 

The All-Purpose Nipple Ointment did wonders for me!  It's composed of 3 key ingredients:
  1. Mupirocin (fights bacteria)
  2. Betamethasone (decreases inflammation), and 
  3. Miconazole Powder (antifungal agent).  
If you can, get this script from your doc or lactation nurse.  I can't imagine any mom going through breastfeeding without it!  Use it whenever you feel thrush coming on. 


WARNING:  Thrush is a nasty nasty infection and once you have it, you need to treat it aggressively!!  Yes, the nipple ointment works, but please remember it is just a part of the cure and if not treated correctly, thrush will remain.  Symptoms might fade away for a couple weeks, but it will come back and only get worse.  Trust me, you sure don't want to go through the whole breastfeeding in pain.  Breastfeeding is meant to be a positive and rewarding experience for you and your baby.  If you think you have thrush, see your doctor/lactation nurse.  

If you have sore nipples, try Medela Tender Care Lanolin or Lansinoh Lanolin. I can't stand the consistency and smell of either, but it does help.  You can buy it online or in a pharmacy department.  I recommend Lansinoh Lanolin, just because it doesn't smell.  A lot of moms don't like it since it's thicker and harder to get on (and ends up hurting the nipple more while applying it).  You might want to try both.  Ask for samples from your doctor or lactation nurse.  



Also, if you start to feel fluish (chills, nausea, extreme exhaustion, can't stay awake, breasts hurt), increase your breastfeeding sessions and pumpings, even at nighttime.  It is perfectly safe for baby to breastfeed while you have mastitis or thrush.  It's actually recommended to nurse when you have mastitis or plugged ducts since baby can empty the breast in a much more efficient way than a breastpump could ever do.  Within a day or two, you should feel better.  You should also breastfeed if you and baby have thrush, but just make sure you're both being treated, otherwise you'll end up passing it back and forth!  

The other huge thing to do is DRINK A LOT OF WATER!!!! I read that online, but truly, it helps.  Water helps fight infection in any case.  I also took extra vitamin C on top of my prenatals.  Not sure if that contributed to getting rid of Mastitis, but it didn't hurt.  

With MASTITIS, expect any of these symptoms:
  • Breast swelling/tenderness
  • Breast feels warm/hot
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Exhaustion
  • Fever
  • Pain/burning feeling while nursing
  • Wedge shaped redness and lump in breast

You should immediately drink a lot of water upon having these symptoms and start increasing your nursing and pumping sessions... like crazy.  If you become engorged, your breasts will hurt.  You can usually overcome it through frequent nursing sessions, but if you also have flu-like symptoms, you should see your doctor. 


*******************************************



With THRUSH, expect any of these symptoms:
  • Pink, sore, itching, red, and/or burning nipples
  • Blisters on nipples
  • Sharp pain in breast while nursing and after
  • Baby has white patches in mouth

Make sure your nipples/breasts are dry.  Yeast thrives in moisture environments.  Air dry after nursing and pumping.  Even lay in the sunlight since UV rays kill yeast.  I heard tanning helps a lot too (although I avoid tanning).  Sterilize all pump parts and bottles.  And as always, see your doctor if symptoms get worse and not better!!

Remember, breastfeeding is a precious bonding experience for you and your little one(s).  It is supposed to be a peaceful and happy experience that you should look back on and be proud of.  Don't let Mastitis and Yeast take that away from you!  With this information, I hope you can not just get through it easier, but also prevent it from happening in the future!  

Good luck and happy feeding!



Leo & Max passed out after breastfeeding.  If only every feeding went this smoothly...  :)


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All who would win joy, must share it; happiness was born a twin. -Lord Byron