30 December 2012

survivng the mayan calendar end,

This crazy household AND the fiscal cliff is a lot to ask from Max in his first 2 weeks. He has this fixed concerned face whenever he's awake!

29 December 2012

2 weeks old!

Miles is on the pink blanket - drafty house, you know! Babies who can't walk or talk or fetch their own linens take what they can get!


It's 7am and the house is starting to wake up. I am getting up with a splitting headache after nursing the babies all night. I'm starting to wonder if I should also be snacking throughout the night to keep myself feeling better. The babies are each nursing about three time a night and I think I'm getting seriously dehydrated as the night wears on. I'm guessing that in addition to drinking water through the night it would probably also be smart to have at least one snack. Breastfeeding is going great, but it feels like there is just no way to stay hydrated. I really don't mind feeding someone every hour or less, and the days are easier because I can snack and drink all day long, but the past few mornings I'm waking up feeling like I'm sick, with headaches mostly. My lips are also chapped and I just can't get them to recover, which is another sign that things aren't right.

We took the boys to the doctor for their two - week checkup yesterday and they're both gaining perfectly, which gives me the determination to go on. Formula for two would be outrageously expensive, and I love the special time with the babies. I also know I'm at the two-week mark and even nursing one at two weeks is torture, as they're trying to feed constantly to bump my supply for their next growth spurt. The two-week mark is usually my lowest low when I'm nursing one, so rationally I know that getting through this week will be a big accomplishment for all of us. I have done a great job of keeping my wits about me and not letting my body and hormones dictate my mood, and I know that the next few days will be a big challenge. I am also dealing with two spots on my incision that are open and trying to heal, so it could be a long weekend. Somehow I'm finding the grace to put everyone else first, which is not something I do well. I would like to wrap up this weekend and Andrew's baby leave with a smiling family, and while that may mean a little more work on my part, I would love to give Andrew the memory of a wonderful vacation and not have him remembering an emotional, fried wife. So far the strength I've found during these few weeks has not been my own. God is so good, to give me even an ounce of the grace He has shared to this point.

Stay tuned. I'm going to blog about my mother-in-law next. All the juicy details on her stay! ;-)

28 December 2012

Oozing Thankfulness.

I started this 9 months ago. I'm finishing it tonight.

So by now you all know that my mother-in-law just left two days ago after spending 3 months with us. Yes. Three. Long. Months. She survived Claire, Stone AND my pregnancy and is safely back in Maryland now. We are already missing her desperately!

Sue is such a special lady and we had so much fun while she was here. She is one of those people who is so incredibly empathetic that you wonder if she ever does anything for herself. I can confirm that she had exactly two haircuts and two massages and that was the full extent of her "me time." She hit the ground running at exactly 6am every morning, and took care of us until 10:30pm every night. She got Lucy up at 6:30, sent Andrew and Lucy out the door with packed lunches and kisses at 7:15, got the little girls settled on the couch in the early morning with their (chocolate) milk cups and Disney channel and then got herself ready for the day. She did laundry, made beds, fed and dressed the kids, brought me water and tylenol, answered the door, fetched Lucy from the bus, did the grocery shopping and drove me to appointments, cleaned the entire house, cooked dinner, painted bedrooms, decorated for the holidays, prepared for the twins, played with the kids, put up with the dog, counted contractions and generally acted the superhero.

What would we have done without her?! It has been nine months since the boys joined us, and one year since sue can it to care for us. Her little touches are still scattered around the house and some of the systems she put into place still make more sense than my own. It's hard living away from family, no doubt. One of the hardest things about it is not having small memories of the ones you love. The months we shared while we waited for the boys filled us with wonderful memories, and that is something I won't soon forget. <3

The thug life. Its how we roll.

Look @ Lucy's face... geez.

24 December 2012

The New Normal - Week One with Twins!

The twins are 9 days old today, and we've been home from the hospital for exactly one week. By now we've had a lot of "how are you doing?"s, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to post an update! 

The boys: Max and Miles are awesome. Our first night home was a little rough, because breastfeeding was still taking off and we really didn't know what to do throughout the night. It just felt like there were babies coming at us from every angle! By night four we really found our groove and are doing much, much better as far as maximizing sleep. When the boys wake up, which they do at exactly the same time, I nurse whomever has been assigned the fuller breast for the evening, and Andrew changes, burps, swaddles and pacifies Baby #2. Once Baby #1 is done, I nurse Baby #2 on the other side, and Andrew does the change, burps, swaddle and paci with the second one. If, by some chance, Baby #1 is still awake, he comes back to the second side to fall asleep and Andrew will put Baby #2 to sleep with a paci or a little bit of formula. On a goodnight we're using about an ounce and a half of formula to hold one or both over for some reason, but otherwise we're exclusively breastfeeding and doing very, very well. The boys both hated the left side for the first few days, as all of my babies have, as it's not very easy for them to latch onto. Once their jaws got a little stronger, they both started taking it without issue and are doing just fine. They both have a lot of strength for their gestational age, which is pretty normal for twins as they develop faster in the womb. 

We still have no idea if they're identical or fraternal, and it's REALLY up in the air. They looked very different when they were born, but in the past week they've started to look more and more alike. At this point it's really a waiting game. We think we'll know more around 6 months or so and will be able to make the "should we test?" call then. If we decide that we want to know, it'll be a matter of a simple cheek swab and a week-long wait. 

I really couldn't say much about their personalities yet, as I've been mixing them up enough that I still haven't figured that out. Max is VERY much like his papa and is a very patient, quiet boy. He's the one who was willing to work through the left-side latching issue first and would just try and try and try as long as I offered it. Miles would give it exactly three tries and then lose his MIND. Max looks a lot like his daddy and Miles is a little more baby-faced. They both have their daddy's big, square hands, regardless of their very tiny bodies. 

They're both sleeping with us at night, which is just fine. We've slept with all of our babies, so we were planning on that. They swap out sides and like to snuggle together in the middle. Sleeping with them and staying close is good for my milk production, which is important when you have two to nurse! We're also doing a lot of skin-to-skin time and they're nursing about every hour during the day. At night they're waking up around 1 and 4:30 and then getting us up between 5:30 and 7. They'll both go back to sleep right away in the am, but depending on how much sleep I've gotten I've been perfectly fine leaving them in bed and just starting my day. The 4:30 feed is sort of a "we'll go to sleep until something better comes along" and is a great "going back to sleep" phase for me. By 4:30 I've had about 6 or 7 hours of sleep, so going back to sleep around 5 and sleeping til 6 or so feels good and sinful! I've been getting up in the mornings for the past few mornings and Andrew stays in bed and cuddles the boys while the house wakes up. I'm just not a "sleeping-in" kind of gal! 

The girls: Lucy, Mo and Claire are doing just fine and are adjusting well to big sisterhood. Lucy was able to join us for Mass today and just loved sitting indian-style in the pew and holding her brother while the rest of us prayed. She is such a great helped and really loves having responsibilities where the boys are concerned. Molly and Claire mostly ignore the babies, as they really don't add much value to their play time. That's pretty normal at their ages, and I expect that once the boys are mobile it'll be a different story! 

Me: I was prepared for a tough recovery, as this is my fourth c-section and a twin pregnancy. I can honestly say that as of today I don't feel like I was ever pregnant at all. I have lost 40 pounds in 9 days and weight-wise I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight and a little under. The tone will come back in time, and I'm not too worried about that. I'm losing about 2 to 3 pounds a day, which should continue until about Week 3, as I'm still dealing with leftover fluid. I have been warned many, many times about "twin skin," which is what happens when your skin is just stretched completely to capacity. The first few days I was absolutely horrified and I started blathering about tummy tucks and crepe-paper skin. Since then, my skin seems to have just sort of gone back to normal with nary a mark. I'm pretty lucky to have crazy elasticity in my skin and I'm hoping that by getting my belly back to normal a little slower, I can let my skin work it's way back slowly. I don't think my skin really looks any different at all now, but I do have about another two months of healing before I can make a real judgement. Thankfully, I'm no longer asking Andrew for cosmetic surgery and I have no stretch marks, so something must be going right! I've been wearing an abdominal binder as much as possible, which REALLY helps with the entire recovery. When you have a bunch of organs removed and then put back in, giving them extra support while you heal is paramount to a great recovery. 

Emotionally, I was a little concerned about post-partum depression, as my pregnancy was a huge rollercoaster of hormones. With double the hormones running through my body and a history of crazy post-partum crying jags, my OB and I were fully prepared with meds and a plan of attack. Imagine my surprise when I found that my emotions have been nothing but normal. I haven't had so much as a grumpy thought and have been just so appreciative of these little blessings. The breastfeeding pain usually contributes to the baby blues, and while it's been painful, it's been fleeting and ten times easier to deal with this time around. I am really taking my time with the boys and spending as much time as I can just soaking them in and loving every minute. I can honestly say that even with the adjustment to waking up at night and dealing with breastfeeding challenges, I haven't even felt tired. This has truly been a joyful week, and I know that this alone is proof that God has His handd over us right now. On the way to Church this morning I said to Andrew, "You know, we haven't even snapped at each other this past week, not even once." (Generally the first two weeks of having a new baby in the house is just stressful and exhausting and we eventually crack and someone says something they regret or I end up crying for several hours over something silly.) Andrew laughed and said, "Well, we haven't had the time!" We have just been working as one fluid machine throughout this entire week and every little twist and turn has been sort of like being on a gold-medal bobsled team rather than being lost in the woods. The good Lord has absolutely given us buckets of grace this week! It has been nothing but fun and happiness, and for that I am so, so, so thankful. They really are like two tiny Christmas gifts! 

21 December 2012

Max & Miles - A Birth Story

(Let me preface this by saying that the boys' birth was a bit chaotic and the photos have not been edited very much. I wanted to leave them "as-is," to keep things as authentic as possible. Daddy was running back and forth to three different places and had very little time to think about camera settings!)

After a few false starts, we were very excited to make it all the way to our 38-week scheduled c-section. It's rare that twins make it so far without bed rest, complications or extra hospital time, but we were pretty confident that we'd make it. My uterus has a history of being incredibly difficult to irritate or persuade, so Andrew and I had every intention of delivering these guys mid-December. We were scheduled for 1pm on Friday the 14th, and we arrived around 9 for monitoring and high blood pressure. I'd had a very rough night the night before, so I'm pretty sure the high BP was all due to my stress. Our surgery got pushed back several times, and I was already very nervous about delivery, and combining that with the Sandy Hook shooting, I was absolutely hysterical and beside myself most of the morning. I was trying to convince Andrew to pull Lucy out of school, trying to figure out if we could ever send her back again, and on and on and on. My BP did mellow out quite a bit just being at the hospital, which really made me feel better. I ended up with a lot of needle sticks for this and that, so that was a downside. The extra waiting was hard, just because we were so excited and I was so anxious to just get it over with. I was still in disbelief that we were even having twins at that point, and it just felt surreal to be there at all. It seems like the pregnancy passed SO fast, and suddenly there were were, waiting on these babies we didn't even plan for! I was just so overwhelmed and needed to hold them so badly. 
Me in pre-op, waiting impatiently. 

2:30, heading to the OR. I think Andrew must have taken this on the way out the door to the OR, since the boys were born at 3. I had to have been in the OR getting prepped, which is somehow very exciting and not fun at all. The sweet nurse who stood in front of me said, "Oh honey, it'll be okay! Is this your first spinal?" I sobbed back, "No, it's my fourth!" And then she looked at me like I was totally batty. Hello? It still hurts. 

They finally got that all done and then Andrew came in, thank goodness. I kept asking, "Where's my husband? When are you letting him in?" You know the husband is late when the OB is already standing there asking, "Can I start?" The NICU team was a little late and because of the precarious nature of multiples, we really couldn't do much until the extra 8 people got there. Their uniforms were all black, as Andrew noted, they looked like an "elite medical ninja squad". You also were not allowed to photograph them, would encouraged his crazy description of their existence & services...

Once they showed up and Andrew was in, it was go time! 

The boys' first beds, just minutes from first cry! Walking into the OR and seeing TWO little warmers was so exciting! 

This was at about 3:04pm as Dr. M was pushing and pulling. I wasn't really crying so much as just wondering when I'd be able to breathe again. It felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest, which is normal when you have a spinal, since you can't feel your diaphragm. 

3:05pm, Baby A is here with a big yell! Welcome, Max Aquinas!

And he's a redhead! Max's breathing was a little shallow, so they were pretty fast with him. They didn't weigh him until quite a bit later, and people started saying "NICU," which was exactly what this mama did not want to hear. They were kind enough to spend a little time in the OR and wait to make sure Mama and Daddy got a few pics and so on. 

3:06pm, Miles Andrew is here! (Don't let the full  official "minute" clocked fool you, it was actually like 30 seconds between deliveries). We've been waiting so impatiently! 

Max in his little nest. 

Getting his first apgars - they both passed pretty well, from what I remember. 

Miles getting the once-over from the nurses.

One super excited Daddy! Two sons in one day! 


I think this is Miles, but...it was a long day! 

Miles skipped over to the nursery for a little checkup, and then came right over for his lunch. He nursed efficiently right away, even as difficult as it is to nurse in recovery. Coming off the spinal and onto the morphine makes your shaky, cold, itchy, weak and a little loopy. Minimal issues after delivery, out of the OR in record time, two big, robust boys and a whole lot of fluid! He said he couldn't have asked for a better case and he was totally comfortable dropping his gown in the trash and skipping out of there. 

Aww! Purple baby hands! 

Sweet Miles with his little bulldog face. 

Our nursery nurse Amber came over right away to deliver Miles and let us know that while Max was in the NICU for oxygen, he'd been admitted to the nursery and would be along shortly. She was absolutely a fantastic addition to our day! She worked a double and was with us for a full 24-hours, taking care of the boys, keeping us in the loop and making sure that we all stayed happy. Max was with us within about 20 minutes, and we found out that he weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces and was 19 1/4 inches long. Miles was 6 pounds, 3 ounces and 19 inches long. As usual, they were completely in sync almost to the very last minute. Growing babies that evenly is nothing but talent, friends! I wish I could measure curtains as accurately. 

The brothers meet in the daylight for the first time. Sweet as sugar. 

"I had no idea that's what you looked like!"

Nursing Max - another super nurser! 

Boy, was I a happy mama! I just couldn't stop staring at them. I also felt my ribs and sternum for the first time in months. Andrew said, "So how are you feeling?" I replied (still in post-op), "Um, like a supermodel." 

I just stared and stared. Pulling two babies out of one body just mystifies me, and I think it's even MORE amazing now that we've done it. It seems kind of cool when you see other people do it, but the idea of multiples after surviving the pregnancy and surgery is just amazing. 

Max getting his check-up - red hair, red baby...

Nurse Amber, our hero! 

Max's footprints - the thing I love about this is that we have a book called, "Twins, Triplets and More" that is really great for multiples pregnancies. In the book are pictures of footprints from 16 weeks to 36 weeks, and each progressively bigger set really gave me inspiration to keep going. Every time I thought I couldn't do another week, I'd pull out the footprints and look at those 36-week prints. How proud am I to have 38-week footprints in our baby book?!? Bigger than any of the footprints in that book! 

(LOL, as I'm typing this, Molly came over and pushed on my belly and said, "I feel a foot down there - are you having girls this time?" Uhhh....no.)

We got moved to a recovery room by 5pm or so, and the boys were very content to nurse and sleep after their big afternoon! 

I was so excited to be holding my babies - I just couldn't put them down! 




The boys looked very different at birth, but the first week has proved to be a surprise! The boys look more and more alike every day, but we know that the first year or so means a different look every week, so we're just taking it a day at a time! 

The girls came to visit bright and early the next morning! 

Lucy hopped up in that bed and grabbed a baby right away! Such an excited big sister! 

Molly holding "the boy twin." 

Grandma! After two and a half months of watching that huge belly, helping with the house & girls and sitting through many, many doctor's visits (scheduled & unscheduled) and hospital runs, she finally got those babies! 

Claire attempts to take a bite out of a baby. 



Cooke, Party of Seven. 

A little gift from the proud papa.

Napping with my cute boys! 

Silly boys, telling jokes!