Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Thoughts On Exclusively Pumping

First off, happy half-birthday to my cute little twins! Boston and Lyla are 6 months old! I can't believe they've blessed my life for already half a year! They LOVE bananas, Boston loves to roll around, and Lyla has become the binky thief!

Before I had the twins I planned on just nursing them. That's what you do when you have babies right? Just nurse. Just. Ha. While in the hospital I would try to nurse Lyla but she wouldn't nurse long enough and wasn't gaining enough weight. Boston was having a difficult time nursing too. I was told to pump for 10 minutes after each time I nursed but that usually got lost in the hustle and bustle of juggling two babies that were 3 floors apart. When we got discharged I was so overwhelmed with family being around wanting to hold them that I would just go in the other room to pump so they could be held instead of trying to nurse them. It was a downward spiral from the beginning between having two very sleepy and tiny babies that weren't interested in nursing and not understanding the discipline it took. So I became one of those exclusive pumpers. Yeah thats a thing. It's not widely known and there are not many resources on the topic. When my milk really started to come in I wasn't worried at all. Then a week later it seemed like my milk production was going down the drain. I spoke with a lactation consultant and she suggested a few tricks. Ever since then I take fenugreek every day, I eat oatmeal twice a day, drink Mother's Milk Tea, make lactation cookies (my favorite recipe is here), and try to drink lots of water. Ever since then it's been a battle to keep up enough supply to feed two babies. I set a goal to exclusively give the twins breast milk for 6 months, which meant a lot a lot a lot of pumping. Every now and then I would try to nurse them again, but it never really worked out. Plus can you imagine nursing two babies at once? It's hard!

Well, I made it to my goal. I have exclusively pumped for 6 months. I spend a minimum of 5 1/2 hours sitting and pumping a day. For me it takes a full hour to pump enough for 1 feeding for the twins. I'm not a pumping supermom, but I'm trying my hardest so my babies can eat what's best for them. People have judged me, others have applauded me, but the truth is I'm pretty exhausted. My pumping "schedule" (currently every 4 hours, except for at night) dictates what I can and can't do each day...where I can go, how long I can be out for. Part of me wants to quit since I reached my goal, and the other part of me thinks, "I've made it this far, what's six more months?" I know there are so many mothers out there that wish they could give their baby breast milk but are unable to. Since I am able to I feel like I should and that I need to keep going. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do moving forward. My mom nursed me for 2 years! There's no way I could ever make it that long, but I'm happy I made it to 6 months. If I can have more children I will definitely try again to nurse, but I don't think I will ever exclusively pump again. I have spent enough time with the constant sound of "ehh err ehh err". Exclusively pumping is hard. It takes a lot of planning ahead. I can't do things on the fly. I can't just go to the mall and whip out a boob when they're hungry. It's exhausting, time consuming, restricting, but I think I should be proud of myself for trying to do what's best for my little ones.

If you have any questions about exclusively pumping feel free to contact me!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Our Favorite Bedtime Songs

We finally have a good little routine going at bedtime! The babies go down at 9pm each night. First I change their diapers and tuck them into their zipadee-zips (it totally makes them look like they have penguin wings. It's hilarious), then I put them down in their crib and give them their bottles while I sing along to our favorite bedtime songs. Eventually I leave the room and let the songs play on repeat until they fall asleep. I think it would be cool to eventually record me singing these songs, but I cannot find the instrumental versions nor do I have a few hours of complete silence. Either way, I hope these are songs they will treasure forever!

Golden Slumbers sung by Mindy Gledhill
I used to be obsessed with The Beatles so I love this song and I especially love Mindy Gledhill's version of it. 

Child of Light - Mindy Gledhill

More Than the World - Mindy Gledhill
Okay...I really like Mindy's voice and how calming it is. Nice and peaceful to fall asleep to!

Dream - Priscilla Ahn

You'll Be In My Heart - Celtic Woman
I would sing this song to Boston and Lyla just after they were born. My hormones were crazy and I would just bawl my eyes out singing it to them. Love this version.

Sometimes I read to them too if they're not acting sleepy or I'll sing primary songs like "I Am a Child of God" and "A Child's Prayer". Such precious moments!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Very Very Overdue Update

I have started this post like four different times, but never finished.

The first time was back in January:
I have the whole world right here beside me. Everyone is asleep but I'm staying up to pump. I've got my husband's hand in mine and two precious babies snuggled up next to me. Tonight I was going to start transitioning them to their crib in their own room, but when it came time to go to bed I couldn't do it. I love sharing my bed with them. Go ahead and judge me, but I love cosleeping. I love waking up to their smiles, cuddling them, freeing them from their swaddle wraps in the morning and seeing their little arms and legs stretch about. (Lyla loves her wrap. She gets all giddy when we put her in it at night!) I still want to start training them to sleep on their own in their crib, especially since now is the time to end habits you don't want to continue for the next several months, but I just need a few more nights with my little babies. Gosh they grow up so fast. I love it and can't stand it at the same time. It's amazing to see them grow and develop, but sometimes I want to go back to holding my little 5lb babies.

Obviously I haven't blogged in awhile. The twins are now 3 months old! I have been enjoying this precious time, but I've missed making updates on the twins. This blog is basically my journal, so if I'm not blogging I'm not writing things down about my babies. So it's my goal to get back in the swing of things and to keep blogging on here! I think the mess with the plagiarizer is done. I don't think it will happen again and I've been taking more precautionary measures.

Now fast forward to February:
The other night Chris wasn't feeling well so he went to bed really early. The babies and I aren't used to going to bed at that time so we just hung out. It got to a point where I didn't want to wake Chris up so I thought I'd try having the babies sleep in the crib in their own room. Well guess what?! They slept through the entire night in their CRIB! Ahhh! I slept in the room with them just in case but they never even stirred. Gosh I adore them. They have been sleeping through the night since about 2 and 1/2 months, but I didn't think they would on the first night in their crib. Last night they slept in their crib without me in the room. I was actually super happy to go to bed. Our room was "our" room again! I still miss snuggling with them, but this is for the best. I am so thankful for these cuties. I'm sure it helps them to have their brother/sister snuggled right by their side.

Skip a couple days:
I am SO tired! The first two nights with the babies in their crib went flawlessly. And then it became miserable. Boston and Lyla realized what was going on and didn't want any of it. They cry all night and make me one very exhausted mama. They are coming back into our room just for my sanity and much needed sleep.

A little bit later in February:
Boston giggled for me today! It was such an amazing moment. Talk about mama pride. And Lyla has been "talking" a bunch. She can get hot tamale mad very quickly, but she sure is cute. We were saying family prayer the other night and she was just making the most adorable little noises....I guess she likes to pray! There has been so much joy in my life since having these two. I absolutely LOVE being a mom. I'm so happy I finally have my dream job.

And now to present time (March):
Well, the twins are officially in their own room for good. I'm not giving in this time! Some nights are great, others not so much. It takes 30 days to form a habit right?

Boston and Lyla are doing splendid. They are starting to play with toys and interact more and more each day. At their 4 month doctor's appointment a few weeks ago Boston weighed 11lbs 12oz and was 24in long. He's only in the 10th percentile for his weight so I need to beef him up! Lyla weighed 11lbs 7oz and was just over 23in long. She was in the 15th percentile for weight. They both took their shots like champs. Even though they're still small, they are getting so big.

Anyway, I wanted to do a quick update of the last couple months before hopefully getting back in the habit of regular posts. What sort of things do you want to read about? I'm trying to find my voice again after not blogging in months. I've just been know, being a mom!

And here are some Valentine's Day pictures I took!

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Have One Month Olds!

The past month has been some of the longest and shortest days of my life. I have one month old twins! How can that be?

After we got home from the hospital I was so emotional that I would cry every night as I would sing to them and think about how fast they're going to grow up. Have you heard Taylor Swift's song "Never Grow Up"? Yeah don't sing that to your newborns if you don't want waterfalls coming out of your eyes. After giving birth your hormones go crazy. Luckily I was never a "crazy pregnant lady" nor was I crazy after birth. I just cried A LOT. Not sad tears, HAPPY tears! I was so happy to be holding my babies after everything we went through to get pregnant. I would cry and cry because I just loved them so much.

Chris was extremely fortunate to have a two week paternity leave. We stayed at home all day and just held our little ones. We didn't have to worry about anything. Chris and I simply got to enjoy our babies all day for two whole weeks. I refer to this as the "honeymoon" stage because everything was simple, magical, and full of love. Plus sleep deprivation hadn't hit us yet. 

Then life hits.

After Chris returned to work every weekday since has been challenging. Nothing can prepare you for twins, especially when you're home alone with them all day. The hardest thing for me is choosing one baby's need over the other's because you can't tend to them at the same time. Then if you have a need at the same time as both babies you're in for it! I recall one night almost peeing my pants because my hands were full with the twins. Or I would forget to eat until the afternoon because I'm constantly feeding them instead. I'm learning how hard it is to try and take care of myself when I'm trying to take care of two newborns. I've had to place squeezing in a meal as a high priority otherwise I'm too busy and forget to eat, which is bad because I'm literally skin and bone right now. I lost 30lbs in two weeks, much to the concern of my doctor. I am constantly hungry because of breastfeeding/pumping but I'm not gaining any weight. Thankfully that's not the case for Boston and Lyla. They have been gaining the necessary weight like champs.

It's completely true when you think you'll raise your kids a certain way and then you have them and realize that was only wishful thinking. Take for example sleeping arrangements. We have a pack 'n play with a bassinet top for their bed. Well, they HATE it. To them it's an awful prison that only gives them reason to cry. So now we co-sleep in our king size bed...something that terrifies me and thought I would never do. We've finally found an arrangement as safe as possible for them and it works a million times better because they love sleeping on our bed. You'll do anything for a few extra minutes of sleep, trust me.

I've learned a lot this past month:

  • Nothing can prepare you for twins. Nothing. 
  • Get them on a schedule! I finally got them on a good schedule around 3 weeks. It will save your life. It's advised to feed on demand, but with twins it just doesn't work that way. 
  • Have your husband take as many days off work as possible after they're born. Having Chris home was not only extremely helpful, but it was wonderful family bonding time.
  • Accept meals like crazy. When I felt like I was done recovering it seemed silly to accept meals, but then I tried cooking dinner with two little babies. It's impossible by yourself. Accept those meals! (Huge thank you to everyone that brought us dinner!)
  • Breastfeeding can be super stressful, but you can do it. I'll be writing a post about this later.
  • You will feel like you will never leave the house again. I finally insisted on a date night even though I was super reluctant to leave my babies. It was exactly what I needed to realize life will turn back to normal...eventually. 
  • No other babies are as cute as your own.
  • Your heart will love like it's never loved before. Not only has my heart grown exponentially for these babies each passing day, but it also grows each day for my husband as I watch him be a daddy. 
  • Having twins is the most difficult BEST job in the world!

Anyway, I'm frantically searching for the pause button. Anyone seen it? These babies are growing too fast and I need to stop time.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Birth Story

***This post is very long and includes a lot of little details mostly so I can always remember them!***

Let's talk about the craziest morning ever.

Monday morning I woke up in a lot of pain. Chris's alarm was going off but he kept snoozing it so we could cuddle, but I was shaking my legs vigorously to help with the pain. He just thought I had to pee ;) I wasn't sure if I was having real contractions so I started timing them on an app on my phone. They were regular but I was trying to pass them off as Braxton Hicks because I didn't believe I could actually be in labor at 35 weeks when it seemed like I was going to be pregnant forever. I told Chris that I was in a lot of pain but I wasn't too worried so I sent him off to work.

Bad choice.

Things escalated quickly. My contractions were about 4 minutes apart and a minute long. I was aware of the 4-1-1 rule, but I just dismissed it. I had 4 minutes to wash the dishes then crumble in pain. Then 4 minutes to try and do my makeup. And 4 minutes to get dressed then crumble in pain again. The worst part was that it was all in my back and no position helped. It got to a point when I realized this could actually be happening. I told Chris to get home ASAP and I started finalizing everything in my hospital bag. He had to take a train all the way to get home, but it went by fast. Before I knew it he was changing out of his work clothes and we were on our way to the hospital. Thankfully it's only about a 5 minute drive away. I remember telling Chris that I was afraid they were going to send me home despite the awful pain I was in. We arrived at Labor & Delivery and were checked in fast because I pre-registered (an absolute must!). They wheeled me in to a delivery room and I changed into my gown all while I was begging Chris to rub my back through each contraction. My sweet nurse Marianne calmly asked me some questions, took my vitals, hooked up monitors, did an ultrasound to check their positions, had someone else come and check the ultrasound, then FINALLY checked my cervix. She calmly said, "you are complete" and promptly started calling everyone. Complete? Like fully dilated? Chris asked what that meant and she just turned to me and asked if I felt like I needed to push. What?! At that point things were really rolling. My nurse was paging everyone again and got the anesthesiologist in my room in the blink of an eye. I was worried it was too late for an epidural, but they said as long as I could stay still long enough they could do it. While I was getting the epidural and spinal block, people were in and out of my room getting everything ready. I was in so much pain I didn't care what they thought of me. After what felt like an electric shock in my leg, the numbing started to spread, but unfortunately didn't numb the feeling of back contractions. Next thing I knew my doctor was there and I was wheeled into the OR. I could not believe how fast she got there. She was literally in my room 10 minutes after she was called from her office.

I remember the OR being really bright with equipment everywhere. There were at least 10 people in the room including nurses from the NICU for the babies, nurses and doctors for me, and a med student that looked like he was a little lost. I couldn't believe everything was happening so fast! I was only in labor for 4 hours and was in the OR ready to push only an hour after getting to the hospital. I was excited and in pain at the same time. My husband was awesome in encouraging me to push and knew what to do even though we never took a birthing class. After a little pushing there was a little wiggling baby boy placed on my tummy. It was amazing!

He was taken over to be checked and cleaned and I couldn't take my eyes off him. My little boy was perfect. A couple minutes later it was time to push again. Chris would look down at me and count to 10, and I would start to laugh because he had the most handsome blue eyes and I was just so happy this was happening. After the first push or so my doctor said that this was going to take some really big pushes to get baby girl out fast or I was at high risk of getting a c-section. I pushed the best I could considering I couldn't feel anything. It was like telling your brain to just do it because you weren't really sure you were pushing or not. I had a least 5 people telling me to push, that I was doing amazing, and that she was almost here. It only took about 4 pushes and a tiny beautiful girl was placed on my chest. I feel in love all over again! They were born exactly 10 minutes apart and I only had to push for about 15 minutes total. I was SO blessed to have such a quick and easy delivery. Little baby boy entered the world at 10:47am weighing 5lbs 11oz and sweet baby girl arrived at 10:57am weighing 5lbs 1oz. 

I got to do some skin to skin with baby boy as they worked on the afterbirth. Delivering the placentas isn't the best feeling in the world but I didn't care because I had my precious son with me. I'm positive Chris saw way way more than he wanted to! He was pretty freaked out when he saw my doctor elbow deep in my uterus. I just wish there was a mirror because I was very curious about how all this worked. Both babies did great on their Apgar tests and were allowed to spend in hour with us back in our room before going to the NICU for further checking. I got to hold them together on the way to the room...I never thought it was going to be 4 days until I got to see them together again. My doctor came to my room and just hung out with us for about 45 minutes. She said it was way better than going back to the office and doing clinic hours. We talked about names and she helped me breastfeed a little. They were some very surreal precious moments. My husband was beaming, I could tell he was one proud daddy. We decided on the name Boston for our little boy, but didn't have a middle name yet. We named our precious girl Lyla Belle Ivie.

Eventually they had to take the twins away so Chris went with them to help with their first bath. I was alone with the nurse for awhile while she finished up a bunch of paperwork. Then I moved upstairs to the maternity ward. I was alone for was hard going from the hustle and bustle of delivering two precious babies to being all alone, but I was happy Chris could be with the twins. I finally got to go down to the NICU and feed Boston. He was doing great and didn't have to be admitted, but Lyla did have to be admitted due to low blood sugar and would need an IV. It was really hard leaving her behind and getting to keep Boston with us. The rest of the evening was a blur. I remember telling our families the happy news and falling asleep watching Tarzan then being woken up all hours of the night to feed Boston, get my vitals checked, take some pills, or have my uterus what I like to call "kneaded".

Six in the morning came too fast. I met my new nurses, spoke with the twin's pediatrician, and got checked by my delivery team and anesthesiologist. The rest of the day was back and forth between the NICU and my room. Boston wasn't allowed to go back in the NICU so we were constantly juggling the twins between the 3 floors. Thankfully the nursery could take care of Boston so that Chris and I could visit Lyla together. When we would visit Lyla her nurse would have us do her "cares" which consisted of taking her temperature, changing her diaper, and feeding her. They were slowing weaning her off her IV based on her blood sugar levels which needed to be above 45. Our poor thing had to stay a second night in the NICU. Chris and I had a special congratulatory dinner from the hospital that evening. I was happy he finally got some real food since he was living off the crackers, Lorna Doones, and oatmeal stashed in the refreshments room.

Tuesday night was rough. I stayed with Lyla in the NICU until about 2am when I came upstairs to feed Boston and sleep. At this point I was pushing a wheelchair for support instead of having to ride in one. I ended up only sleeping 1 hour that night. While I was sleeping I was again awakened by people drawing blood, giving me more pills, pushing on my uterus, and checking my vitals. When Chris woke up we went to the NICU to be with Lyla. I fell asleep in the chair while waiting for Lyla to be ready to feed. I had a pounding headache that was making any conversation hard. After going back upstairs we met again with the pediatrician about Boston's circumcision. It was done fast and we were told he was a total champ. My anesthesiologist stopped by again to check up on how I was feeling. I told him that yesterday I had a dull headache, but today it was much more severe. He told me to lay flat and in under a minute the headache was much better. At that point he explained to me that I had a spinal headache and he strongly, and I mean strongly, recommended I get a blood patch. I told him we would think about it, but not long after I said yes please and it was done. Basically I had spinal fluid leak out from the epidural and spinal block which changed the the fluid pressure around the spinal cord and brain resulting in a terrible no good headache. He took blood from my arm and inserted it into where my anesthetic was injected. It was like getting another epidural, but without the actual numbing. The blood would clot and seal the hole where the leak was. I had to lay flat for an hour after so I finally got a little more sleep. Lunch woke me up and I finally had an appetite. I had a turkey and provolone sandwich that was so good I still think about it. Chris came back after being in the NICU and told me the hard news that Lyla wouldn't be able to come home with us today. 

I started to gently cry and then sob after Chris showed me a present he bought for her in the gift shop after hearing the news. He bought some little bows and glue for her hair. It was the saddest and most tender moment from our stay in the hospital. It broke my heart. Lyla's blood sugars were stable now, but she lost too much weight and needed further monitoring. Our little girl was down to 4lbs 10oz. We visited her again and just relished in how perfect and small she was. All over the NICU they had the Dr. Seuss quote, "A person's a person, no matter how small." I wanted to cry every time I read it. 

We were supposed to be discharged by 11 that morning, but the blood patch pushed our discharge to that afternoon. Then my doctor was no where to be found. She finally came in around 4 to approve my discharge. I had been stressed trying to figure out how that night was going to work with going back and forth from home to the NICU to feed my babies. A hospital hotel stay was mentioned several times, but we thought it would be too expensive until we asked how much it was and to our surprise it was free. (I really don't think it was free. I think they didn't charge us because of our special circumstance.) Instantly I knew that's what we should do. We got to stay in our room, but we had no nursing or nursery services. It was actually kind of nice not having people constantly checking up on us. Although it was weird hearing this whole hospital world outside our door that we were no longer apart of. It kind of makes you feel out of place, however we were so grateful that the night would go much smoother.

Thursday morning I went down to be with Lyla and was overjoyed to hear that she would likely come home with us that day. I got to be there for her rounds where all the staff meet together and discuss Lyla's progress. It was at that point where they said she could be discharged that day. I wanted to cry! I went upstairs to watch Boston as Chris loaded the car and then he went and got Lyla. It was the best feeling taking them home and seeing the two of them together for the first time since Monday. They slept side by side for hours. We are in total awe and love being a family. A lovely lady from our church brought us dinner and we just hung out the rest of the evening, soaking in every moment. The hospital stay was long, yet brief at the same time. Giving birth to twins was such an incredible experience I wish I could live over and over again. I am so thankful that I have the chance to be a mom and even more thankful to my Heavenly Father to know that my family is forever.

Boston Madden Ivie
5lbs 10oz

Lyla Belle Ivie
5lbs 1oz

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