Can Somebody Build me a Time Machine?

When I look at Violet and Olivia, I no longer see babies. I see two dramatic girls standing up on their own, fighting over who stands in front at the baby gate blocking them from the hallway while they wait for their bath water to fill up, and signing “more” when they want more of whatever they’re being fed, or “milk” when they want to nurse. Olivia knows where her belly button is and Violet points to the bananas hanging in the kitchen when I ask if she wants more banana. Where has the time gone? They’re turning into toddlers.

cms_1012(photo credit: Courtney Contreras; outfit credit: Frayed Knot Lakeland, LLC)

It’s hard to believe they were premature. I considered doing a post on how prematurity has affected my parenting, but aside from holding off on giving them baby food until eight months, I don’t feel like their prematurity has affected them, therefore it cannot affect me. I have had tons of people tell me, “they’re so tiny,” but I don’t dwell on their stature because I am petite, and their pediatrician is totally okay with their measurements because they have always followed a growth curve. Their teeth took a little while to come in, but once the first tooth broke through their gums, they’ve steadily been coming. Violet army crawled up until a year, but she was pulling to stand by ten months and has been shimmying down the couches, tables, and walking with her push toys everywhere since then, too. Olivia has always been slightly ahead, but never so far ahead that we were concerned with Violet’s development.

Here we are at fourteen months and they’re standing on their own, eating tons of “table food,” drinking apple juice (and whole milk… yuck!) out of straw sippy cups, and babbling away in their own language. They both put remotes up to their ears like they’re talking on the phone, and sometimes they’ll nod their head up and down like they’re saying “uh huh” to somebody or they’ll shake their head side to side in pretend disagreement with the person on the other line. Violet has three teeth with one cutting the gum now. Olivia has one prominent tooth and three cutting her gums. Their hair seems to grow much like Harry Potter’s, and they get a kick of out shaking their head “no” before doing something they aren’t supposed to. Violet loves to share, it doesn’t matter what it is, she’ll offer it to you. Oh, and Olivia can throw one hell of a tantrum. She cries and somehow manages to roll her tongue while doing it. The noise is like nails on a chalkboard for Erik. I don’t like it either, but I really dislike when they throw themselves backward. Olivia doesn’t care if she’s on a hard floor or not, she will throw herself back so fast… and Violet does it when I pick her up in mid-air. Talk about an adrenaline rush. *insert eye roll*

img_8266(Thank God I had the Tula on!)

We are still breastfeeding with no signs of stopping. Violet has been nursing more frequently than in the previous months, and I think it has something to do with her teeth coming in. Their separation anxiety is out of this world, and it is becoming more evident when they need to sleep. They get CRAAANKY. They love playing with (and fighting over) toys, especially ones that light up and play music. THEY LOVE MUSIC. I wish you could see them dance to Beyoncé’s Formation. It’s seriously their favorite song. They also love 60s music and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

img_8625(gorgeous weather calls for enjoyment!)

(in the toy box their Papaw Roger built for them; Erik providing entertainment)

At times it is definitely challenging, and on certain days it’s a lot harder to keep our cool than others, but we are so blessed to be their parents and we are so happy God chose us to raise these angels. They are daring, they are emotional, but most importantly, they are thriving.

 

Why We Love Maxi Cosi + Carseat Safety Tips

I mentioned in a previous post that pregnancy and Pinterest go hand-in-hand, and for good reason. You’re pregnant, you’re tired, if you’re not doing something you’re obligated to do, you’re probably laid up somewhere, eating something, surfing the web on your phone or tablet. Did I hit the nail on the head?

I was constantly searching ideas for twins; how to successfully breastfeed two babies, how to decorate their nursery, what baby gear was necessary, what stroller + car seat system was best; that was honestly something that gave me anxiety. Some real life thoughts I had during this search include: “How do car seats connect to the stroller? Oh my God you have to buy attachment bars to secure the seats to the stroller?! Are the car seats I want even compatible for this stroller? Why is it SO MUCH?! Those wheels aren’t even good for jogging, and I like to run. Holy shit, do we need TWO stollers?” Answer: yes, unless you want to shell out somewhere between $600+ for a system that grows with your kids, which is something we just couldn’t swing.

I came across this post about registry ideas, and was immediately drawn to the infant car seats in the photo. The author described them as “lightweight,” which was something I was interested in.  (click photo for link)

mastertwinregistry

Infant Seats:

I read about Maxi Cosi seats many times on the Multiples & Twins forum on the What to Expect app I mentioned in my last post, and when I researched the brand for myself, I found a lot of great reasons to consider spending the extra money:

  • lightest car seat on the market (only 8 lb. most infant seats are between 10-12 lb.) which is great if you go places alone!
  • safely fits babies as small as 4 lb. (most seats only hold babies 6 lb.+)
  • anti-rebound bar for safer rides, and have air protect
  • LATCH equipped bases for easy ins-and-outs of the car
  • self-wicking fabric, and easy to remove and wash if needed

My mother and Granny were kind enough to gift us the purple seats before the baby shower, and we were so appreciative of that when the girls were discharged from the NICU. They were ready to come home at 5 lb., and if we had gotten other seats, we would have had to buy something to either add to the seats to make them safe enough for the girls to ride in them, or we would’ve had to exchange them for something else before bringing them home. Thankfully, we had proper equipment, and the nurses even commented on how safe they looked when we took them to the hospital so they could do their car seat tests.

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Violet and Olivia are at that age where they’re really curious and don’t like being restrained in their seats if we are in public, so we went ahead and upgraded to convertible car seats around ten months even though they can still fit comfortably in their infant seats now at thirteen months. We traded out our Snap & Go double frame stroller for our Baby Trend jogger stroller, and if we aren’t somewhere stroller compatible, like the grocery store, I wear one of them in the Tula and put the other in the front of the cart. (Can someone PLEASE tell Target to make carts with TWO seats? Kroger? Where you at? You, too! HEB, Sams, and Costco are the only places so far to do that. GET WITH IT!)

Convertible Seats:

I already knew I wanted Maxi Cosi seats the second time around, and since we didn’t purchase the infant seats, I thought it would be a justified purchase. Erik asked me if we could at least go to Target to look at the seats they had in-store, so I humored him and did so. He wasn’t impressed. “These look so uncomfortable compared to the other seats.” He told me as we walked down the aisle. I had shown him the Pria 70 model I wanted to upgrade to last time we were in Babies R Us. “I know, and they’re about the same price.” I answered. We went home and ordered them.

maxicosipria
Not only is it a gorgeous seat, but it is super comfortable compared to the infant seats, and extremely safe. I also like how it tilts back when it’s rear-facing. In the infant seats, if the girls fell asleep, their heads would drop and make me nervous that they were blocking their wind pipes. When they fall asleep in these, they just turn their head to either side because they’re reclined. It’s also really easy to install into our cars, which are both mid-size sedans. I drive a Mercury Milan and Erik drives a Toyota Corolla. We have zero issues fitting in either car with these seats.

  • rear facing up to 40 lb
  • forward facing up to 70 lb. or 52 in. tall
  • Flex-tech multidirectional crash energy management
  • Air Protect for advanced side impact protection
  • Easy to clean

Read full specs here.

Just for safety purposes, I have included a link that shows how to properly install a car seat, because statistics show that 3/4 seats are improperly installed. I also suggest taking an infant CPR class like Erik and I did, because they spent a good portion of the class demonstrating how to install a seat and how to properly restrain your baby. The two things that resonated with me were only being able to stick 1 finger under the shoulder strap, and making sure the chest clip was at ARMPIT level on your baby.

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[NICU Awareness:] Our Birth Story pt. 2

I woke up sometime later in our room in labor & delivery to find Erik resting on the couch next to my bed.

eriksleeping

“How are the girls?” I asked him. He assured me everything was fine. “When can I see them?” I asked the nurse. She told me I couldn’t see Violet or Olivia until my magnesium drip had run out, so probably not for another day or so. When she told me that I got pretty down, but I knew that they were going to be hungry soon, so I turned my attention to pumping. I had read how important colostrum was for babies, especially premature babies, so I was determined to get what I could, if anything, out of my boobs and into their mouths. I asked the nurse for a pump, and shortly after, a lactation consultant named Karen, wheeled in a Medela Symphony pump with all of the bells and whistles. (Bells and whistles being the membranes, tubes, flanges, shields, etc.) I didn’t know if anything would come out because they were born so early, but our bodies are amazing, y’all. Within seconds, yellow liquid started squirting out, just like The Nursing Mother’s Companion, said it would. “Holy shit this is weird!” I told Erik in amazement. I only got about 20 mL out, but the lactation consultant assured me that was all they needed since their bellies were so small. She brought me some syringes to put the milk in since they were being fed through tubes at the moment, a few sheets of labels for the NICU nurses, and told me to keep trying. She told me I needed to pump frequently to meet their needs while they’re in the NICU, showed me how everything worked, and showed Erik how to properly wash the parts between pumping sessions. “Your milk will come in, trust me.” She said on her way out.

colostrum

Luckily, the hospital the girls were born at is only about ten minutes from our house, so Erik was able to leave and let the dogs out, shower, etc. there. While he was gone, I pumped again and asked the nurse if she would take the colostrum to the NICU for me since I was still unable to get up and walk around. She did, and when she came back, she showed me seperate photos of Violet and Olivia that she had taken so I could see them. They were so beautiful. “I can’t believe we made them.” I thought to myself as I started to cry. The next twelve hours were spent waking up to either talk to the one of thirty people that would filter in and out of the room, or to pump. Fortunately, by about 1:00 p.m. Friday, my milk had fully come in. I was nervous about that whole process because 1. the girls were six weeks early, and 2. I had gotten a c-section. I said it once and I’ll say it again, our bodies are amazing. I was pumping out a solid two ounces each time I pumped by Friday evening. Every meal the girls had so far had been breastmilk, and that was so empowering.

(pictures from nurse’s phone)

Friday evening, my magnesium drip ran out. The nurse in my room asked me to stand, made me take a few steps, and then asked me to sit back down. “Are you dizzy at all?” She asked. I said no, so she wheeled me down to the NICU while Erik went to let the dogs out so I could finally see the girls for the first time. I couldn’t hold them until I wasn’t considered a “fall risk” anymore (my spinal block wore off only a few hours before), so I just stared at them in their incubators. My babies were even more beautiful in person. They were so small, and they looked so soft. I couldn’t wait until I was able to hold them. Shortly after we made it back to the room, I was transferred from labor and delivery to the postpartum ward. Erik got back to the hospital a little after that, and I asked him to take me back to the NICU so we could see them together. We hadn’t gotten that opportunity quite yet.

 

(photo credit: Erik)

Saturday, I held them for the first time: (and my epidural ran out…)

… and Sunday was spent “resting” with frequent walks to the NICU every 3 hours to feed the girls. Monday was our day to go home. Although we were more than eager to leave the hospital, Violet and Olivia wouldn’t be coming with us. Deep down I had known that all along, but a microscopic part of me had hoped they would beat the odds and come home with us, anyway. We packed up all of our stuff and headed to the car. Halfway down the hallway, I doubled over and started crying. I tried to be strong because like I said, I knew they were going to be in the NICU, (and have you ever cried after having your guts sliced open? Sneezed? Coughed? It all hurts. LAUGHING hurts.) but the reality of them staying in the hospital while Erik and I got discharged to go home broke my heart. I didn’t want to leave them there. 

Erik had proposed the idea of us staying at his parents’ house for about a week so I could recover from the surgery without the dogs jumping on me and bothering me/my incision. I agreed, but after a few days, I had had enough. I needed to be at my house. Not having my kids come home with me was one thing, but me not being in the comfort of my own home without my kids was a completely different story. I begged Erik to take me home. I didn’t care if Roman’s eighty-eight pound ass took me out, that was a risk I was willing to take. After some good convincing, Erik drove us to the house. We spent about a week cleaning the house, washing the clothes we got from the babyshower, and putting our finishing touches on the nursery, including assembling the chair and a half that was delivered on the same day as the girls. We had daily visits to the NICU to see Violet and Olivia, and I always took pumped milk to feed them. We changed them, took their temperatures, talked to the nurses and doctors about their progress. We dealt with a bout of jaundice during the first week…

…and leaving them every day was the hardest thing to do, but knowing they were receiving treatment and care we couldn’t provide was what kept us going.

Every day I asked when I could attempt to latch them on to the breast, and on their fourteenth day, I finally got the permission to do so. The same lactation consultant who had brought me the pump was the one who helped us during our first (and successful) nursing session. On the fifteenth day, they were out of incubators and in open cradles, and we were told to bring their carseats the next time we came to the hospital so they could do their carseat tests. That meant they were getting discharged soon!

ourfirstlatch

(our first latch, photo credit: Erik)

August 30, 2015, only seventeen days after giving birth, the nurse working the morning shift told us that Violet and Olivia would be discharged that afternoon. “They passed their hearing tests, so go enjoy your last afternoon alone. We will call you when their papers are ready to go.” We did just that. We had lunch at a little bistro we frequented during the pregnancy before going to walmart and getting preemie diapers. While we were in the checkout line, the hospital called us and told us the girls were ready to come home.

Upon our arrival, the nurses gave us a folder for each of the girls with all of their information in there. They both weighed about 5 lb a piece after losing a pound each after birth. They gave us eight packs of preemie diapers, thermometers, blankets, hats, and all of the preemie onesies I had taken up there over the course of their stay. Walking out of the hospital was quite a show- we even had a random lady follow us out to our car and watch us strap them in because she was so fascinated with the concept of someone having two babies at the same time. I was so ecstatic that our babies were finally coming home, I didn’t even get annoyed that her head was practically in our car while Erik and I each strapped in a child. We clicked their infant seats into the bases and let the nurses check the carseats to make sure they were good to go. “Everything looks good,” they said to us. “This is it.” I thought as we pulled out of the parking lot.

 

 

hiring: night shift personnel

Bath time came a little earlier tonight with the intention of having the girls in bed by 8:00-8:15. They were cranky.

Erik left to go to a friend’s house as I was giving the girls a bath. Bath time looks a little something like this: each girl in the tub at the same time with about an inch and a half of water. Sometimes there are bubbles, sometimes there aren’t. I bathe each girl individually, let them splash around for a few seconds, and then let the water drain before getting them out, that way I can get them out one by one safely.


I put some Aquaphor on them as a barrier before their diapers, then socks, and then their sleepers. I put them in their boppy loungers that surprisingly still come in handy after all of this time, and I made their bottles. I withdrew .06 mL out of their gas drops and divided the dose between the two of them, and did the same thing with Tylenol. They’re teething. It sucks.

Olivia ate her bottle like a champ; Violet was refusing. I was getting aggravated. I picked her up to burp her. She burped twice. I tried feeding her again. She still didn’t want it. She was sucking on the bottle but she wasn’t actually working to get any milk out. I took the bottle away from her and went in the kitchen and cried. I picked Olivia up and burped her because at this point she was done eating. I put her in her crib and went back into the living room to tend to Violet. I sat down on the couch with her and attempted to nurse her. She surrendered so sweetly that it made me cry again. She just wanted me, not the bottle of formula. Anytime, Violet, anytime. She nursed herself to sleep.

8:40 p.m.- start washing dishes because girls went down peacefully.

10:40 p.m.- have cleaned kitchen, seperated laundry, washed bottles and pump parts, unloaded dishwasher, reloaded dishwasher, and am two glasses of wine deep. “Wahhhh!” My heart sank.

11:15 p.m.- text Erik and tell him Olivia had already woken up and gone back to sleep. I was going to go to bed. Told him to put the clothes in the dryer once he got home.

11:32 p.m.- I just turned the tv off to go to sleep. “Wahhhh!” You have got to be kidding me. I go back to get Olivia… Again. Nurse her, again. Put her back down, again. Get back in bed… Again.

12:11 a.m.- “Wahhhh!” I got her out and gave her a bottle. I know, it was weak of me. I need sleep. Put her back down. She stays quiet.

12:15 a.m.- I go check on Olivia to make sure she’s down, ready to fall back to sleep. She isn’t. She is playing with her giraffe. Whatever. She’s quiet.

12:30 or so- Check on Olivia one more time to see if she’s still awake. She isn’t.

I published that up there ^ last night before I finally got to go to sleep, but decided that it would be fun to include what happened from then on because it wasn’t happily-ever-after-everybody-sleeps-until-8:00 a.m. No, no, no… 

5:08 a.m.- I wake up in a panic because Erik isn’t in bed yet. “Oh god, is he even home?” I get up and to my relief, see him asleep on the couch. “Wake up, come to bed.” I tell him. He wakes up, tells me he was waiting on Olivia to wake up again, and follows me into the room.

5:12 a.m.- “Wahhhh!” I laugh and say to Erik, “Of course she waits until you get back in bed.” I get up and get her because 1. I needed to pump anyway and 2. Erik is working a double today.

5:47 a.m.- Get Olivia back to bed after nursing her, again… for what, the fourth time? Fifth? I am pretty freaking annoyed at this point. I sit up in bed. My motion was enough to wake Erik up. “What’s wrong?” He asked me. “I am wide awake. I am aggravated. I am hungry, but I don’t want to get up.” “Close your eyes.” He suggested. “No, I think I’m up for the day.” Erik convinced me to lie back down. We both heard Olivia screech, but she didn’t ever cry.

8:22 a.m.- Violet wakes up.

The only positive thing I have to say about my morning so far is that I have managed to keep them entertained until 10:45 a.m. or so when they got tired enough to take a nap. Erik reminded me to look at today as a fresh start, and to not dwell on my night. “Don’t worry about Violet not eating her bottle last night and don’t worry about Olivia not sleeping well. I’ll be home and take over tonight when I get home.” He even went as far as asking me if he wanted to see if he could find someone to take over his shift tonight so he could come home earlier. I told him no.

It is now 11:16 a.m. and I completely forgot that I made toast before editing and finishing this post. So while I have the time, I’m going to eat that and watch The Office.

*disclaimer: I would never, ever hire a night nanny. Cool if you want to or did, but that’s not my style.