Saturday, March 31, 2012

Being Herself

When Eliza was just a baby, I remember Nathan telling me he would always encourage our little girl to be anything she wanted to be. He talked to me about not forcing my own expectations or desires upon her, and he stressed the importance of letting Eliza be herself. Nathan is a free spirit (obviously...and much unlike me, might I add), so of course he wanted his child to be independent. It didn't matter if she was 2 months old or 2 years old, Nathan wanted me to avoid labels and instead embrace whatever she was, while encouraging her to be a better person.

This was hard for me. It still is hard for me.

I have found myself calling her "the colicky one" or the "bad sleeper" or a "terrible eater" and a number of other terms of non-endearment. Eliza has marched to the beat of her own drum since day one, and  Nathan was most certainly granted his desire for an independent child.

Eliza has always known what she wants. In recent months, that is anything and everything pink. Eliza loves cars and puzzles, but her true loves are princesses because most things associated with them are pink. She isn't a fan of playing with dolls, but will spend hours dressing herself up. She is her own doll.

We now come back to the point of allowing our daughter to be herself. What Eliza wants to be (without much encouragement or exposure at all to the idea) is a princess. Contrary to popular belief, we have not trained her to love pink or princesses. She hasn't even watched a full Disney Princess movie (only the scenes with songs from Beauty and the Beast), but she loves the idea of wearing her princess nightgown, dancing with a tutu on, twirling a wand, and wearing a crown. She calls herself "Princess Pea," so I think it is safe to point the finger at the educational PBS show Super Why! for this one.

I'm sure the lady who wrote How Cinderella Ate My Daughter would greatly disapprove of us, but Nathan and I can't help but indulge our daughter and her passion for princesses. I honestly see no harm in letting her feel like a little princess (which is, by the way, one of my favorite movies and (also by the way) one of the only movies that can make Nathan cry like a baby (the part where Sarah draws a circle around herself  and cries, "Papa!" always gets him)).

When Eliza was sick, she just wanted to be in her princess nightgown all day. I knew she was feeling better when she brought over one of her pink gowns and asked me to help her put it on.

Look at this smile! This is pure happiness. So, despite our conversation to avoid "labeling," Nathan and I both agree that it is safe to say Eliza is our little princess.

She just is.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Seriously. These are the cutest binkies ever.

 And the cutest boys ever (in my own, unbiased opinion).

These pictures were taken last week before Elliott became really sick and lost all of his weight. I'll have to post some updated pictures of both Ezra and Elliott because their identical-ness is now out of control!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's Getting Better

Various members of our household have been sick for over 2 weeks now. It's been rough. Fortunately, Eliza is back to her normal self again and feeling happy.  She is dancing around the house in her various costumes and acting like a typical two year old. Although her illness was traumatic for me, I think she enjoyed some aspects of being sick, like sleeping with Nathan and me, drinking chocolate milk several times a day, and painting Nathan's nails whenever she wanted (we were desperate for ways to cheer her up!).
Nathan is going to kill me.
She even begged for her "bubblegum" medicine this morning. She obviously enjoyed taking it three times a day and insisted on giving it to herself.
On Friday, we took Ezra and Elliott back to the doctor because they both had horrible coughs. Elliott was unable to sleep because he was coughing so much and choking on all of the phelgm. Fortunately for Nathan and I, our Aunt Dee stayed a couple of nights and tended to our sick boys so we could rest for a few hours. Friday morning, she also noticed a change in Elliott, and I was anxious for them to be seen as soon as possible. At our appointment, neither boy had a fever and their lungs sounded clear. The pediatrician told us to use Eliza's nebulizer and give them each breathing treatments. They both looked miserable, but I was relieved it was nothing more serious.

We began the treatments that day, but Elliott did not sleep at all that night. Additionally, Aunt Dee caught our sickness, which made us feel awful. I was still feeling completely exhausted from the pneumonia and Cheryl was even worse than me. Thank goodness (yet again) for Nathan! He was with Elliott throughout the night, but our little guy was miserable and could not be soothed. 

We continued breathing treatments for the next 24 hours, but by Sunday night, I knew something was wrong. Elliott had to be held sitting straight up or else he cried and moaned. He had completely stopped smiling (he always smiles) and was not eating. Additionally, we could only force him to drink about 6 ounces of milk over a 12 hour period. When he awoke from a brief nap burning up with a fever and gasping for air, we immediately rushed him to the hospital. He had a 103 degree fever and his cough sounded awful. I was, of course, beside myself with guilt for not bringing him in sooner and a sobbing mess as he was examined. We had taken his temperature only a couple of hours earlier, and it was only 99 degrees; It's scary how fast things took a turn for the worst.  The doctor decided to run some more tests and do an x-ray to make a firm diagnosis. Nathan held him, and I texted friends and family to maintain sanity.

An hour later, we were told Elliott had croup and bronchiolitis. He also had an ear infection, which was causing the fever and overall discomfort. His ears had been checked just two days before and "looked good," but I guess that changed pretty quickly. Thank goodness for amoxicillin! We have been consuming mass quantities of that miracle drug for days now. Three days later, Elliott is still coughing (and so is Ezra), but he is acting more and more like himself. He actually started smiling again today, so I know he must be feeling better! I can't get over how much his face has changed in a few days. He lost over a pound this last week and now weighs a couple of ounces less than Ezra, which boggles my mind. Elliott has always been the bigger baby, so it is strange to think of Ezra as the chunkier one.  Cheryl joked that Elliott had some weight to lose (his double chins were out of control), but I miss his chubby baby face.  I can't wait for him to be healthy (and fat) again.

The stress has gotten to me, but I feel more like myself today. I think we have officially exited survival mode and that is the best feeling in the world. I've learned that I am fine with babies who eat every two hours. I would rather have hungry, healthy boys than sick little ones who are too tired to nurse and refuse to even eat an ounce or two. It's easy to overlook health as a blessing, and I feel like I have definitely learned to appreciate the miracle of thriving children. 

Happy four months, Ezra and Elliott!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh Man

Somehow, I have the energy to blog this morning. I am currently propped up in my (death) bed with a sleeping little girl's head on my lap. I dare not move because she will inevitably wake up, and then I'll have a cranky, sick toddler on my hands. Thank you, iPhone yet again for coming to the rescue.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I could no longer deny that I was sick, too. I couldn't swallow, my lymph nodes were incredibly swollen, my head was pounding, and I couldn't stop coughing. I spoke to Nathan and he was also feeling worse. Cheryl, my mother in law, was still overrun with pneumonia, and Eliza...

Oh, Eliza.

Eliza was given prednisone for her RSV in addition to albuterol through a nebulizer. She was also prescribed amoxicillin for her double ear infection and two other medications for her cough and fever. Like I mentioned earlier, she has never been sick before and has never received any medication other than Tylenol once or twice. Her body was not prepared for the assortment of medicines we gave her, which became apparent quickly.

Just a few hours after receiving the first dose of her various prescriptions, Eliza started bouncing off the walls. Literally. And yes, I do know how to properly use the word literally. She was running into the walls, kicking them, throwing her body against them, and acting like a crazy child. She ran back and forth for hours and screamed until she vomited and then would start screaming again. She became extremely aggressive and violent and would hit Nathan and me rather than talk to us. She stopped using her words almost entirely and resorted to screeching and growling when she wanted to "say" something. Nathan remarked, "She is more animal than little girl. What is going on?" It was alarming to say the least.

She couldn't fall asleep on Friday, so Nathan stayed up with her and tried holding her and rocking her throughout the night. She would rest for perhaps 30 minutes and wake up screaming. Obviously, we were concerned. It was Saturday, though, and we could not reach the doctor. This behavior continued all day, and I finally texted my friend Lauren, a seasoned mother, about her behavior. She let me know that the prednisone could cause a reaction like this in children and my mother (who is a nurse) confirmed this when we finally spoke. My mother also let me know that albuterol can make children more hyper.

For me, this has been the most stressful part of the "being sick" ordeal. Eliza won't allow us to sleep and runs around screaming all day. She requires constant supervision (obviously) and no one can relax with her worrisome antics. With us all being sick, it has been hard keeping up with her. I feel so awful, knowing that her body must be worn out and that the meds are possibly overloading her system, but I know we cannot stop administering the prednisone. Thankfully, tomorrow is the last day of that prescription. We are also thankful that Eliza has been a champ about taking the medicine.
As if Eliza's erratic behavior wasn't enough of a stressor, the boys began coughing on Saturday night. They were congested and miserable, but we thought they were RSV-free. Once the seal-like bark cough began, my heart sank. Their eyes looked sick, and I could tell they were not feeling well. Not my little boys. Please, not my little babies. I prayed, I cried, I prayed some more, and then I just held them as they coughed throughout the night. They were crying and unable to sleep, and I finally called the emergency room to see if they were equipped to treat infants with RSV. They had me speak to a doctor, who said no treatment was needed for the boys if they were breathing okay and did not have fevers. We were told to just monitor them closely. They just looked so sad.
Yesterday, we all went back to the doctor to be seen. Ezra and Elliott have a slight case of RSV, but it is not serious enough to require hospitalization or treatment at this point. Their lungs sounded good and they are fever-free, so we are counting are blessings. Their coughs are painful to hear and their noses are red, but they are healthy overall. Their pediatrician was impressed they were doing so well after being so thoroughly exposed to RSV, the flu, strep throat, and pneumonia.
She also stressed the importance of continuing to breastfeed, especially while they are this sick. I have no plans on stopping soon, but I have been worried about their nutrition, especially with me being so ill.

I was examined and the doctor confirmed I have strep throat and also a slight case of pneumonia. No wonder I feel so horrible. Yesterday was the worst day for me so far. The lack of sleep combined with the sickness utterly wiped me out. I spent the night throwing up, coughing, trying to breathe, and blowing my nose. I haven't been able to eat for three days now, which concerns me mostly because I worry about what the boys are getting nutritionally speaking. Somehow, my milk supply is amazing (I credit all the Gatorade I have been drinking), but I can tell that the milk is mostly water. Because they feel so awful, they aren't much less hungry these days and seem just fine with what they are getting. Our pediatrician assured us that was normal behavior and that their appetite would return in a few days.

We also made sure to tell Eliza's doctor about her reaction to the albuterol and prednisone. He said the reaction was rare, especially in toddlers, but that he had had a couple of adult patients tell him prednisone made them feel like they were "going to crawl out of their skin." He assumed from the pacing and running around that Eliza was probably experiencing this. The anxiety, combined with the energy boost from the albuterol, made her one feisty little girl. He assured us that she will return to "normal" once we stop administering the prednisone.

Nathan has been amazing throughout this ordeal. Although he has the flu and feels horrible, he has done everything he can in order to make sure I can rest. He held me when I was throwing up and placed cold, wet rags on my forehead when I was burning up with a fever. He has calmed Eliza every night as she screams in her sleep, and he has tended to the babies as much as possible. On Sunday, I could tell he felt awful, and I asked, "How do you have the strength to do this?" I was worn out, and I knew he probably felt just as bad as I did. Without skipping a beat, he said, "God." I love my husband. Fortunately, he is feeling better this morning.

The worst part about this situation has been the overwhelming feeling of helplessness. We cannot ask any of our family members or friends from church to come over and help. We would feel horrible if anyone became sick because of us. Our church family has done their best to help and has dropped off meals the last few days. In addition to feeling helpless, it is has been difficult to remain positive when we are so tired and sick and trying to take care of sick children without any sleep. I have a whole new appreciation for the times my mother stayed awake with me when I was sick and then went to work for a full day. I have a whole new appreciation for motherhood and parenthood in general.

I know that being a parent is the most sacred responsibility I can have as a person. When Ezra and Elliott need their noses cleaned or assistance coughing, they depend on me for this help.  When Eliza comes to me crying, I know I can comfort her. My children cannot feed themselves, change themselves (although Eliza tries), and really are helpless. So, even if I feel awful, there are three little children depending on me for their daily care. It breaks my heart to see them so sick, but I am grateful for the privilege to nurture and provide for them.  I love my children, and I am happy to be their mother. These thoughts are what has gotten me through the past weekend (and a ton of prayers along with tearful conversations with Becca and my mom).

I appreciate all the Facebook messages, texts, prayers, and Draw Something games :) They have lifted my spirits.

Here's to hoping we all start feeling better soon.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Viral Battleground

No one wants to come to our house.


And if you wanted to come, I would say no and keep you from walking inside.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when Eliza and I threw up in the middle of the night. We thought it was some sort of 24 hour stomach flu until Eliza threw up again a couple of days later. Since then, she has felt progressively worse and has developed a number of symptoms that seemed like the common cold. She would sneeze and cough, but acted like her happy usual self.

Then, on Tuesday, she started waking up in the middle of the night, feverish and coughing so hard that we could tell it was hard for her to breathe. We noticed her lips had turned a slight shade of purple, and I realized it was time to immediately take her to the doctor. When Nathan spoke to her, she responded in Portuguese--not normal (he has been teaching her Portuguese since she was born, but she never speaks in it subconsciously).  First thing on Wednesday, she was seen. I stayed home with Ezra and Elliott, while Nathan took her in for a visit with a family practitioner, as the pediatrician was unavailable. 

According to Nathan, Eliza was quickly examined and the physician said Eliza was over whatever she had. The doctor said her lungs sounded good and everything looked normal (and then prescribed three medications just in case we wanted an antibiotic for the sickness she was supposedly "over"). That night though, the same routine happened: Eliza woke up soaking wet, crying, and coughing so hard she vomited. Nathan was up all night with her and she did not eat at all on Thursday. She would intermittently nap and fell asleep sitting straight up. She was afraid to lay down because she had thrown up once while sleeping and it scared her--of course that would be traumatic for a two year old. She could only be comforted by "Daddy-ah."
After three days of not eating enough or sleeping at all, I decided to take Eliza back in to any doctor that could see us. This time I was going to take her, and I was not allowing someone to just glance over her without any thought. We needed a second opinion because I was convinced she had RSV. She had every symptom and the other doctor telling Nathan she was "fine" was not cutting it.

All of the doctors were booked, so we waited as a "walk-in" patient and prayed we would be seen by a different doctor. Eliza was running around, acting perfectly normal, but coughing up a storm. When I told the receptionist she hadn't eaten or slept in three days, she gave me a look as if to say, "I don't believe you." Eliza looked fine, but in reality she was just loopy from exhaustion.
We were taken back and met the nicest doctor, who actually went to BYU (a fellow alumni, woohoo!). Eliza was weighed and was down 3 pounds in just two days. When you weigh only 32 pounds, losing three of them is a big deal. He then listened to all of my concerns and then checked Eliza's ears first. He could immediately tell she had a double ear infection. He went to her chart and read the other doctor's note from Wednesday, which said: "Ears are clean and normal." Apparently, her infection is pretty severe, so there is no way her ears were just fine on Wednesday. I then told him her other symptoms and he could tell I was worried. I requested an RSV and flu test (the other doctor didn't even suggest this). Instead of making me wait for the results at the clinic, he told me he would call me as soon as the test was complete and would have whatever prescriptions we needed waiting for us at the pharmacy. Nice man.

He called twenty minutes later and confirmed the RSV. Yes, I am amazing thanks to Google. Any mother with common sense and/or an Internet connection would have been able to diagnose this case. She will have breathing treatments at home, along with steroid shots, an inhaler, and a range of antibiotics. Hopefully, she feels better soon.

But wait...there's more.

Did I mention that Cheryl, my mother-in-law, has a horrible case of the flu? And pneumonia? She has been in bed since Sunday and has been unable to eat, walk, work, live, function. I can't believe she hasn't gone to the doctor, but she knew there wasn't really anything for the flu other than Tylenol and Advil. Now that it has moved to her lungs (and she's lost 8 pounds), she plans on going to the doctor first thing in the morning.

Oh, and Nathan and I both have the beginning stages of strep throat.

All of these things being said, I am so happy that Ezra and Elliott are thriving. They have been happy the last two days and have even slept well during the night. I consider it a true blessing that they do not have RSV or flu symptoms after being so thoroughly exposed to both viruses. I continue to pray that they are protected and kept safe from any harm.

Nathan and I are definitely learning from this experience. We have grown closer as a family as we survive yet another "panic mode" week, and I cannot believe we are handling everything so well considering the circumstances. We know things could always be worse, so we are grateful for the challenges we have. After seeing what Cheryl has gone through the past several days, I will not complain about having a sore threat and headache.

Instead, I will count my blessings and give thanks for modern medicine, caring doctors, supportive spouses, loving friends, and two healthy babies.

Stock up!

If you are at all interested in Flip Diapers, now is the time to stock up!

Cottonbabies is having an amazing sale. Totally worth the money :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012


After sleeping TEN HOURS last night (all caps because I am screaming with happiness), the world seems warm and inviting again. Although I am still in my pajamas and looking quite haggard, I feel like a new woman. I am happy. I am smiling. I am enjoying myself! The fact that sleep is essential in order to maintain sanity and happiness is confirmed.

Yesterday, I was obviously feeling quite desperate for rest. I told Nathan I was willing to spend our savings for chiropractic school on a night nurse...and I was serious. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I knew that without sleep I would continue to feel miserable. Fortunately for us, Nathan's aunt Naomi (lovingly called Aunt Dee) came over to help us. Aunt Dee lived with Nathan's grandmother, Thelda, when her identical twins were born, so she is well-acquainted with taking care of multiples.

She arrived at 5 PM and immediately took a baby. I nursed the boys, and at 10 PM, she sent me to bed. I woke up twice to supply milk, but I did not nurse or even hold Ezra and Elliott. She took care of everything. I woke up once and Eliza was in bed with us. I woke up again, and Nathan and Eliza were both out of bed.

Apparently, they were up all night together. And while I am sad Nathan didn't get to sleep as much as I did, I am happy that they let me sleep! Even though Eliza is still not feeling well, she is happy and bouncing around the house. The twins are happily sleeping and things seem to be getting back to normal.

I feel so great that I may even take a shower and (gasp) brush my hair! In the future, I will make sure I do not get to the lowest of lows before calling for backup. I have a tendency to do that, but I think I am finally cured of my "suffering in silence" (or solely on my blog) policy.

It's a good day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Will You Send Good Thoughts?

Ezra and Elliott have been screaming (not crying--screaming) since 4 AM. Eliza has been awake off and on since 3 AM and is still quite sick. Cheryl, my mother-in-law, is so incredibly ill that she can hardly sit up, much less help us with the kids.

So, while Nathan works from home, I am holding two screaming babies and trying not to cry with them (and failing).  This is the first time I've actually had a breakdown where I have cried, so that's good, right? I don't know how some women handle twins alone! I am praying everyone feels better soon.

Until then, I want my mom (and my sister, aunts, and Grandma).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Put Them Aside

Recently, I wrote about how I should trust my own intuition when it comes to parenting. I realized I would continue to be unhappy if didn't stop expecting my children to behave the way I wanted them to. I have been thinking about these expectations often and felt like maybe I wasn't alone with these thoughts when I read a recent blog post by my friend Kelly. In her post, Kelly essentially vocalized similar feelings of frustrations when it came to starting the day with firm expectations and then being consistently disappointed with how things turn out. Therefore, she had adopted a policy of maintaining no expectations.

Before we were even married, Nathan told me that most unhappiness arises "when our expectations differ from reality." After the craziness of Sunday, Nathan and I discussed this principal with his parents and decided to do our best to give up our expectations when it comes to our children.  If Eliza wakes up several times in the middle of the night--that's fine. If Ezra and Elliott want to nurse twice as much as the average baby--that's fine. If we only get two hours of sleep at night--we'll find a way to manage. We always do. And instead of being angry or upset that our days/nights don't go as planned, we will be happy just to have survived another day. We will appreciate more the wonderful things that happen every day, even when we are tired and struggling.

Obviously, I have been thinking about this nonstop. I have been doing my best to embrace this new way of life and to be honest--it isn't easy. Before we went to bed last night, Nathan and I told each other we would handle whatever happened that evening with acceptance and patience. Eliza went to sleep after some coaxing, and we put the boys to bed after keeping them awake for several hours.

It was just after 11:00 PM. We were hopeful.

Twenty minutes later, Ezra woke up. Half an hour later, Eliza woke up. She had a 101.5 degree fever and was obviously feeling horrible. She was sobbing and could not be consoled. It was the first time Eliza has had a fever in her life (that we know of), so Nathan and I had no clue what to do or how to react. Soon, both babies were awake, and Cheryl and Rex (who we can usually rely on to help us in the early morning when we have a horrible night) were not feeling well, either. Every person in the house was awake at 3:00 AM, and all I could think was, "Talk about opposition when we were trying to be positive!"

By 4 AM, Eliza was asleep. The boys were awake until 8:30 which, consequently, was when Eliza woke up. I began feeling angry, but noticed Nathan was, as my grandmother would say, "as cool as a cucumber." He hadn't slept in 24 hours, but he was positive and still had copious amounts of positivity and patience. He fed Ezra, as he snuggled a sick Eliza. He washed bottles and made sure I got to take a nap.

He had effectively given up his expectations for what the day would be like, and he found happiness in taking care of his family. It took me a little bit longer to come around, but my midday (and after my nap), I began to feel hopeful. I tried to live in the moment, rather than in the future. I enjoyed holding a snuggling (yet feverish) Eliza until she fell asleep. I enjoyed bathing the children and nursing the boys to sleep. I enjoyed my night, rather than dreading it.

Tonight, has been great (so far). Ezra, Elliott, and Eliza (and Nathan) all went to bed at 9 and they are all sleep three hours later. That is a minor success on its own! I should go join them.

And I know I say this often, but I feel so lucky to be married to Nathan. He constantly shows me what selflessness and patience are.

(And how cute are these kids!?)

Monday, March 12, 2012


Last week, we found the most perfect minivan for our growing family. Because of supply and demand, minivans are bounteous in Utah and far less expensive than they are here in Washington. We spoke to the dealership which had the prized van, and Nathan planned to drive to Utah on Sunday morning. He would get the car and come home on Monday. Easy.

Well, our children had other plans.

With daylight savings and losing an hour, we tried to make sure Nathan went to bed extra early on Saturday night in order to get enough rest for his 12 hour drive to Utah. That didn't happen, though. Eliza came down with a cold and wouldn't go to sleep, and the boys continued to cry throughout the night and demand constant feeding. At 1 AM, we finally crawled into bed. I was worried about Nathan getting up and driving 800 miles, but we tried to stay positive.

At 3 AM, I was awakened by Nathan gently calling my name. I could see him holding a crying baby and he said, "Can you nurse him?" Apparently, I then started speaking in gibberish. I could hear myself talking, and I knew I wasn't forming intelligible words or sentences. Somehow, I stumbled out of bed and fed the babies. At 4 AM, I was up again. Ezra and Elliott were wide awake. Cheryl came to check on me around 6 AM, and I was somewhat delirious and also frustrated because the boys wouldn't nurse. I could not figure out what was going on, and decided to pump after realizing nursing would not work.

I quickly saw what the problem was. I had no milk. When I pumped, I got NOTHING. Usually, I express 12-15 ounces of milk. I maybe had 2 ounces, which wasn't even half of what one baby eats in a feeding. No wonder the boys were upset! Thankfully, we had some frozen milk, which we were able to use. 

An hour or so later, Nathan woke up and assessed the situation. Without hesitating, he made the executive decision to not go to Utah. Relief washed over me instantly (there will always be more minivans, right?). He sent me straight to bed and gave me strict instructions to rest and to not worry about pumping or nursing. He would use the frozen milk if Ezra and Elliott woke up. 

While I slept, Nathan got Eliza ready for church, washed all the bottles, and cleaned the house. He was able to accomplish so much because the boys slept for 4 hours straight! I woke up to pump and eat, and the babies woke up around the same time. Nathan fed them, and I went back to bed for three more hours. Ezra and Elliott went back to sleep, too, and slept for 6 hours!

They were asleep all day. From 9 AM to 10 PM, they slept constantly and only woke up to eat. They promptly went back to bed after all feedings. The bad part to this story: When Nathan went to bed at midnight, I was left on duty. The boys were awake until 8 AM.

Obviously, their days and nights are confused. And although this is frustrating, I feel relieved knowing that they can sleep for more than two hours at a time. This afternoon, we kept the babies awake until they couldn't stand it any longer. We plan on waking them during the day if they nap for longer than two hours or so. I couldn't come up with any other solution to breaking them from all of their daydreaming. I feel bad waking them up, but we need good night sleep in this house. 

Hopefully, we see results quickly! It makes me sad looking at these grumpy faces, but I hope they know it's for their own good.
(A sidenote: It is crazy how much sleep affects milk production. After resting on Sunday, my milk supply is back where it should be. I could see an increase after my first three hour nap. So, if you are nursing, do your body a favor and rest!)

Friday, March 9, 2012

It's Personal

Breastfeeding. (That's what this post is about, so run away now if you are not interested)

It's personal to me.

Of course, that doesn't keep me from talking about it all the time. Even though I talk about it, I realize I am perhaps hypersensitive to the subject.

My days consist of nursing one baby and then another, tandem nursing when they are both awake, pumping, and washing bottles and flanges. When I say it is my life, that is not an exaggeration. With the most recent growth spurts, I spend 12-15 hours a day nursing and pumping. This means there can be no scheduled meals or sleep. I am always "on call," which means the babies eat several times before I eat at all. If I am lucky, I get a solid two hour stretch of sleep before being awoken again.

Because of these facts, Nathan and I had to have a rather intense conversation last night about what nursing was doing to me / is doing to me.

I am rapidly losing weight. I am sleep deprived. I am constantly starving because I cannot keep up with the calories I am burning. He is worried. Worst of all, there seems to be no time for Eliza in my busy schedule. We sit on the couch together and watch shows, but we don't have a relationship where we run around and play together. There are very rare moment when I have time (and the energy) to be an attentive mother to Eliza and her needs.

And that makes me feel horrible. I find some solace that Cheryl and Nathan are around to play with her during the day, and I know she is not being neglected. I just know I am too tired to be really interact with her and that I have been tired now for nearly a year.

She's only 2. I've been sick or somehow incapacitated for half of her life.  But for some reason, I still feel like I need to nurse the boys.

For a while, it was more of a guilty feeling.  I felt this immense pressure to be a "good mother," especially after breastfeeding did not go well with Eliza. I had this thought that giving up on breastfeeding would somehow make me a bad or selfish person. It's ridiculous, but it was a feeling I could not shake.

I also didn't want to treat the boys differently or shorten the amount of time I wanted to nurse them because they were twins. They couldn't help that they were born at the same time, and I didn't want to justify not trying to nurse because I had two babies. These were my initial thoughts before delivery and the first few days in the hospital.

Only a few weeks later, I would text a close friend, "I can't do this anymore. I give up." She, of course, supported me no matter what and let me know good mothers also feed their babies formula. And you know what--they totally do! I thought about it for days and nearly gave up after the mastitis. I kept thinking, "How much more can I take? Is it worth this? What am I trying to prove?'

The mastitis was excruciating, the bleeding chest was unimaginable, the clogged ducts have been painful, and the thrush has been a nightmare. But somehow, we have survived. The cluster feedings are now my nemesis, but I know the worst is over. There are moments when I don't think I can unhook my bra one more time, and I feel like I am married to my nursing pillow. But then there are those sweet bonding moments when I cuddle with a sleeping, nursing baby. There are those moments when I get to bond with little Ezra and Elliott as they nurse and hold hands. I can't even tell you how much my heart bursts with love when I see their hands reach for each other. It is the cutest sight in the world.

Obviously, though, it's still no walk in the park. When Nathan suggested that we use formula at least at night, I knew my response was someone hysterical and irrational. I essentially freaked out at him for even suggesting the thought. How dare he?! Did he not know that I am doing everything I can to nurse these boys? How dare he take away my opportunity to breastfeed. I was furious. I was so upset I couldn't even finish the conversation before storming off to bed in tears.

And why? He had a good point. I am tired. I am (at times) miserable. He was thinking of me and how I am essentially worthless (for lack of a better word) to my children if I am hardly able to function. I just have the sure knowledge, though,  that we are through the hardest why stop now? I then realized that I have become a little too breast obsessed. I need to step back and think about the advice so many fellow moms have given me: "Do what is best for your baby and you." You are included in that phrase. YOU.

With Eliza, I would have been better off stopping nursing sooner than I did. Without a doubt, I know my inability to properly nurse greatly contributed to my post-partum depression. I pumped until she was 6 months and then switched to goat's milk as soon as we figured out her intolerance to breast milk. It was never the joyful experience I imagined. I had too much milk. She flailed at the breast. She screamed. When she latched, she nursed for hours and used me as a human pacifier. I felt trapped. And yet, I didn't feel like I could open up about my anxiety to anyone. Who could understand me not liking something so natural and beautiful? Even typing this, I feel a little worried about what people may think. But why?

It goes back to the thought that "good mothers" nurse their babies. For a while, I truly believed that sentiment. Why couldn't most women at least try to nurse or pump? What was their deal? Now,  I realize that there can be a variety of factors that prevent a woman from effectively breastfeeding. None of these things make that woman any less of a mother.

With the twins, I began to feel the same twinges of anxiety once I encountered problems. The euphoria of successfully nursing began to wear off. Fortunately for me, I had a friend on call, who gave me constant breastfeeding support. A lactation consultant, Caitlin walked me through several traumatic nursing experiences.  I also talked to a couple of other twin moms (and a triplet mom!) who nursed and gained the confidence I needed in order to continue. I consider pretty lucky to know these supportive people. Additionally, seeing the babies rapidly grow made me feel like supermom. I was so proud of myself when the boys doubled their birth weights in 5 weeks!

So although I am a breastfeeding advocate and I feel immense joy (even with the physical pain, there is still so much joy) and satisfaction in nursing my children, I understand that this isn't always the case for others.

And you know what? That's okay! You do what you do. I do what I do.

Like my friend Megan says, "Good mothers feed their babies."

I feel like you know my biggest secret now.

p.s. Despite the conversation last night, I have no plans to stop tandem nursing or pumping. I just need a better plan for snacks and meals in addition to a little more sleep. I want to also stress that having support while formula feeding or breastfeeding is essential. However, if things don't improve and I continue to feel overwhelmed, I know now that I can supplement without guilt. There is no shame in it!

(**Disclaimer: Because I don't like controversy and I want everyone to be happy, I hope I did not offend any of my friends or loved ones. This is such a touchy subject, but I had to write how I felt. I want to also recommend this blog post by my friend, former roommate, and fellow twin mom, Brittany. I read this post a week after the twins were born, and it essentially freed me of most of my guilt. I love you, Brittany. Seriously.)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

This is Me

It's fun to get dressed up for pictures and look cute when we snap the occasional family photograph. The last time this happened was the day the babies were blessed. Since that day, I have not put on make-up. I have not worn "real" clothes (I live in pajamas and yoga pants). I have showered maybe twice a week.

We're still in survival mode around these parts. So yesterday, when a friend asked me how I was doing, I did not hesitate to snap a photo of myself in order to illustrate what I was currently doing. This was what I sent:
"Nursing Ezra. Holding Elliott. Working*. Watching Bubble Guppies. Throwing Goldfish to Eliza. Living on the couch. Living the American Dream. (Also, Facebooking and sending you this photo)."

Sometimes motherhood isn't glamorous. Sometimes, my coloring isn't so great. I like to think of this as my "in the trenches" portrait. In a few short months, I am sure I will look at this and laugh.

Won't that be great? :)

*I still work from home part time as an English tutor for an online college. I love that I work only 2 hours, four days a week. I hate that I spent those two hours yesterday teaching a woman how to use Google. Really. I did.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

This is my mantra.

You should come to our house. It is crazy over here.

There is a toddler who runs around in princess gowns all day, screaming for her Daddy if he leaves her sight for a moment, and who constantly begs for "black cookies" (Oreos) and pink ice cream. She is adorable, but she is feisty (this has always been the case). She definitely marches to the beat of her own drum.
There are two precious babies who have a pretty decent day schedule, but have no clue what sleeping at night means.
They are awake until 4 AM or 5 AM most mornings and want to constantly eat. I tried laying down the law last night and refused to nurse them every two hours. Let's just say that it didn't end well. We decided to go to bed after the 2 AM feeding and told ourselves they could just cry a little if they woke up before 5 AM. They woke up an hour later, wanting to eat. We were strong and didn't give in...for 20 minutes. When Nathan and I finally went to soothe our little boys, we were met with the saddest faces. Our happy Ezra and Elliott were nowhere to be found. Needless to say, we felt awful about letting them cry. We were desperate for sleep, though, and knew they were in fresh diapers and had been recently fed and burped. What's a mom to do?

Apparently, we are not strong enough to put our kids on schedules. I thought I could shy away a little from feeding on demand at three months, but I guess they aren't ready yet (or maybe I'm not ready?).

So, if we aren't sleeping at night, you can guess that there are two very tired parents who are still trying to keep their heads above water. Last night, Nathan said, "I feel like I run a marathon every day. I go to bed, I barely sleep, and then I start running again."

Well said.

I have really struggled with this most recent trial. I keep thinking, "Why can't they at least sleep 4 hours at a time? Why do they resist sleep entirely most nights?" And I have no idea what the answer is. We have tried everything. Really. We have.

I just know there is something I am supposed to be learning from this. Yesterday, when Nathan's grandmother and Aunt Dee dropped by to hold babies for a few hours, I realized we are so lucky to be near loving family member who are more than willing to help. And this morning, when I texted my mother-in-law, Cheryl, at 5 AM pleading for help, she came to my rescue in less than a minute. She and my father-in-law, Rex, sent me to bed and took care of Ezra and Elliott so I could sleep.

How lucky am I to have married into such an amazing family? On a daily basis, I see more and more what true service and sacrifice is. I am (still) learning to accept help and to ask for help. I am learning to appreciate any moment of peace and treasure the few quiet moments I have with my husband.

I'm not going to lie, though, I constantly pray we are almost done learning. It would be so incredibly nice to sleep. Ahhh. It seems like such an unattainable thing. Fortunately, there is help for the weary, even if there isn't much rest.

And one last consolation: our boys have the sweetest smiles. Elliott started cooing this week, and I just want to squeeze him so hard every time he tries to "talk" to me. I love my boys. Sleep or no sleep :)

Yes, those are socks on his hands. He kept scratching himself even after his nails were cut! Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Today in Facebook Statuses (Stati?)

Remember when Facebook statuses were first introduced? There was no way to avoid saying "is" in the status, but it seemed to work okay. It was novel to read about your friends' daily actions and see things like, "Becca is going to the dentist" or "Katy is watching Thomas the Train."

Then, it evolved to where the "is" was no longer necessary. This was my favorite phase of Facebook status updates. I enjoyed seeing things like, "Megan rules the world" and "Julie goes to Goodwill. Finds amazing things."

So, when I was up at 4 AM throwing up and slightly delirious this morning, I thought of how I would update my Facebook statuses if it were circa 2007.

Just imagine, "Cecilia" in front of all of these thoughts:

Wakes up with fever, throws up all night.
Lays on the cold bathroom floor. Prays for Nathan to find her.
Is saved by her husband, and taken to the couch.
Is joined by her daughter, who is also sick. Watches Mickey Mouse Clubhouse at 5 AM.
Nurses babies. Holds designated "barf bowl" to prevent accidents.
Is sent to bed. Husband wins all major awards possible for being awesome.
Wakes up. Nurses babies. Stays on couch like a zombie.
Has vertigo.
Is saved by Grandma and Aunt Dee.
Watches helplessly as other people tend to her children.
Sleeps some more.
Holds Eliza's hand as she "coughs" into the big yellow bowl.
Continues to nurse babies. Is awesome supermom.
Profusely thanks Grandma and Aunt Dee for sacrificing an entire day to help our family.
Puts a very sick little girl to bed.
Nurses babies, who pity her and decide to sleep.
Remembers how awful it is to throw up all day. Never wants to have morning/all day sickness again.
Survives today.
Blogs because it's how she processes things.
Talks in third person.
Is obviously really tired.

Sometimes, I really miss the old Facebook. It's good to see I have my priorities. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

From the Peanut Gallery

Hi. I'm a father of two tiny little thingies. The problem with this is that there are no REAL fatherly duties at this point for kids of this age. At best, I just help out with some of the "mommy" things. I put that in quotes because I'm talking about norms and stereotypes here.

But to get to the point. Celia nurses the babies and has this special little interaction with the twins where she feels like "I am definitely their mommy." And what do I get? Nothing. Dad's are for playing, for making jokes, for rough-housing, (and other non-Nathany activities like sports and changing oil (later on in the boys' life, of course)).

Yes, this is an extreme just to make a point; I don't ACTUALLY feel like I am nothing to the babies (though it's sort of true). But there are twinges every once in awhile until they hit the crossover point when they can smile at me. And they do! It's a little cheapened, because they smile at everyone, but to be able to sit face to face with them and see them smile back at me is priceless!  It is the first real joy of being a father (aside from when they are born, but that's an entirely different scenario).

So it's official, I'm now a father. Again. Let me tell you about my new relationship with the boys (and their little quirks).

     1. He's smiley. I say "where's your smiles" and he shows me. Stinkin' cute.
     2. He makes a lot of stinkface and then gets on with it. He doesn't get phased by much.
     3. He's calm, just kind of takes the world in. I've only heard him REALLY cry a couple of times.
     4. He just seems to have this happy, carefree disposition that is super sweet.
     5. The amount of poo this dude can create in one day is unparalleled by anyone of equal size.
     6. Every once in awhile he looks straight up and smiles with his tongue out as if to say "you're siiiilly."
     7. He'd rather stare at your face than cuddle into you. Smiling all the while.
     1. He's contemplative. If you catch his eye, he WILL look into your soul. . . and then think about it.
     2. He's seems sensitive to what's going on around him. If Elliott cries, he wakes up and cries too.
     3. His predominant face is that of "what did you say?" or "did you just SEE that?" Pretty funny.
     4. He's a burrower. He won't fall asleep until he's mashed his face into your armpit.
     5. He's apt to cuddle and sleep on your chest. (The other thing that makes a dad feel like a dad)
     6. He's pretty vocal. You can tell immediately when he wants something or is being annoyed.

Cecil and I are very aware that there is a fine line between labeling and describing. We are very careful with what we remark about the boys, and in the beginning had to catch the times where we'd say something like "oh he's the fussier one" or something even more subtle like "wow EZRA ate more than Elliott?" as if to say, but he's the small one!

The difference between labeling and describing, in my opinion, is that labels prevent you from allowing the person to change. I'm completely fine using things to describe the twins that I know could change at any time. And I make sure to allow them to. If Elliott were to become frowny all the time, I would have to say "okay now he's frowny" and not "why is he so frowny? He's always been the smiley one."

Anyway, I'm sure there a lot of opinions out there on the subject, and I'd love to hear them. Plus add in an attention-seeking two year-old and it's a delicate situation. Anytime I say "where's your smiles" to Elliott, Eliza comes running up flashing me the BIGGEST smile she can muster. I didn't notice at first and felt SOO BAD when I saw that's what she was doing! So now I make sure to watch for her and compliment her big smile too.

Ok, all that being said, I still can't wait for them to get out of this phase and into the rough-and-tumble phase that Eliza is in now. Playing with her is the best! Makes me feel like an actual dad, instead of a glorified mother's-aid.

3 Months

We made it three months! I had planned on writing something cute about each of the boys, but my eyes hurt too much to stare at my computer screen any longer. So yes, that unfortunately means they are still not sleeping much. It has to get better sooner or later, though, right?

Pictures for now. Cute words to come!

(Dear Ezra, sorry there aren't many photos of you. Maybe next time you'll be in a better mood. We still love you just as much as your brother.)