Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Babies + rain = sleep!

Two nights ago, I sat in the nursery with my screaming babies and I cried. From just two weeks old, Will has always settled himself well (you can give him his pacifier and lay him down, and he'll contentedly put himself to sleep), but that night he was on a roll, determined to scream the house down. And Dashiell was never happy at bedtime, fighting sleep and crying hysterically while I rocked him for up to 45 minutes to try to get him to settle - we would always swaddle both of them at bedtime to help soothe them, but to Dash this seemed to be a signal that it was time to start howling at the top of his lungs. You wouldn't dare to put him down in his crib before he was sound asleep or he'd start the whole episode over again.

I was at the end of my rope, beyond exhausted - I've never been so stressed and sleep deprived in my life. I couldn't move, couldn't react; all I could do was start sobbing. Finally, at 11.45pm, the boys were both asleep, and I crawled into my own bed and cried myself to sleep, knowing that in less than an hour they'd wake up again...and knowing this pattern would be repeated throughout the night, and the next night, and the one after. I laid there, listening to the rain on the roof, and eventually fell asleep.

A while later, I blearily woke up to the sound of Dash's cry coming through the baby monitor. There was a hazy gray light in the room, and I looked at the clock. It was 5.45am. At first I was confused - was my clock broken? Then I realized that my clock was fine - at just under 5 weeks old, the boys had slept for 6 solid hours! I woke Mr Bibliosaur to help me feed them, and we confusedly discussed what had made them sleep for so long. What was different about that night to all the other nights in their life? Finally I remembered: it had rained.

It's pretty well known that babies love white noise. In fact, I'd tried it on Will and Dash in the past, but they'd shown no interest in static or ocean waves. But for some reason, rain was different - rain put them to sleep! Mr Bibliosaur and I excitedly plotted to try this theory out last night, so we downloaded some free mp3s of rain (from here and here) and set them to play on a continuous loop all night long.

After their late night feeding, at about 11.30pm, we put the boys (including Dash) down in their cribs while they were drowsy but still awake, turned on the rain sounds, and went to bed. We laid there a bit nervously, waiting for the howling to come through the baby monitor...but it never did. And at 5.45am this morning, they woke up - another 6 hours of sleep!

I can't begin to describe how amazing I feel after two good nights of sleep - it's no wonder that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture! I feel alive again, ready to take on the world, and about a thousand times better able to handle the boys when they fuss during the day. Tonight is the second night we'll try the mp3s, and if it works again then I'm officially declaring this method a success!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Tale of Bibliosaur's Boobs

I wrote in my last post that breastfeeding our twins has been a huge problem, worthy of it's own post - so here's that saga!

Because I was incapacitated with an epidural headache for several days in the hospital, early breastfeeding efforts were hampered a bit. I did pump on those days, but not nurse - I couldn't sit up to hold the babies and couldn't nurse them well while lying on my side because of the headache. And even pumping was difficult because I was so sick and stressed - not good conditions for expressing milk!

On top of that, establishing supply is quite difficult for many women who have multiples because your body doesn't immediately understand that you have two babies instead of one. Take all of the stresses and uncertainties that come with starting to breastfeed one baby and complicate that with having serious supply issues, and I had some extremely rough days before my milk came in - I have never felt more like a failure in my entire life than when I would try to nurse the babies and they'd only get half the amount they needed, and then have to be supplemented with formula. I don't think I've ever cried so much in my life - here were these two perfect little people and I couldn't even provide their most basic need. It was heartbreaking to feed them and then watch them desperately cry with hunger afterward.

Even now that they're nearly 5 weeks old, it's an uphill battle. The boys are still getting about 1/2 - 3/4  of their food from formula (depending on the time of day, as my supply is significantly lower at night). I nurse them at every feed before they get their bottles, being careful to make sure that they fully empty both breasts so my body gets the message that it needs to make more milk, but it's slow going.

I had originally set a one month breastfeeding goal for myself so I wouldn't give up too soon, and we reviewed our options when we hit that mark. The choices I had in mind were:
#1 - continue as I was (nursing and pumping to try to increase my supply, along with supplement feeding)
#2 - switch to exclusively pumping (most likely along with supplement feeding)
#3 - switch to exclusively formula feeding

When the 4-week mark arrived, I was strongly leaning toward #2 - so much so that I did a ton of research on it and was thisclose to buying a more hardcore pump than the little one I was currently using. Then I decided that I'd trial it for a day, just to see how I liked it. Exclusively pumping is one of those things that sounds easy, but really isn't - it's not just the preparing/washing bottles, but the dedication of forcing yourself to pump every 3 hours regardless of the time of day or night, etc. I wanted to make sure I would be OK with the schedule, so for one day I committed to pumping and bottle feeding instead of nursing.

I hated it. It wasn't even the schedule that bothered me - I just hadn't realized how much I loved nursing them. Just the closeness of's so hard to describe what I mean. I love looking down at their little heads, even when I'm exhausted and they're being difficult feeders (and ohmigod tandem feeding is hard when they're fussy - one will drop off and then start screaming, then the other will, and you're left frantically wavering between them trying to get them both to re-latch and failing because you don't know who to pay attention to first!). I deeply resented being hooked up to a machine instead of my babies and couldn't even make it through the whole day before I started nursing them again. This isn't to knock exclusive pumpers at all - in fact, now I have even more respect for women who stick it out, because it's HARD! It's just not for me - I would rather 100% formula feed (and thereby get that extra play/snuggle time with the babies that I would otherwise spend pumping) than exclusively pump.

So then I looked at option #1 and realized that I don't want to keep doing THAT either. Nursing AND pumping AND bottle feeding is soooo hard. I mean really, incredibly time consuming. I felt like literally all I ever did was worry about feeding the boys, that I never got to actually enjoy my babies or enjoy being a mama. I want to be able to play with them and cuddle them without looking at the clock and saying, "Oh, it's halfway between feedings - time to pump" and having to put them down.

That left option #3 (100% formula feeding), but I wasn't really happy with that either since, as I said, I'm still enjoying the closeness of nursing them. So for now, I've changed to a modified version of #1 - but instead of nursing, pumping and supplementing, I'm now just going to nurse and supplement. No more pumping. I am going to spend that time with my sons, not hooked up to a breast pump. If my supply ends up decreasing because I've dropped the pumping, that's fine - it's worth it for my happiness and sanity, because I believe I will be a better, happier mother for my boys even if I end up having to swap entirely to formula. But interestingly, my supply seems to have increased after I stopped pumping in between nursing sessions, presumably since I’m less stressed and getting more rest now. That said, it still just won’t catch up to what the boys need even though I’m nursing them at every opportunity and my boobs are getting drained every time.

I saw my doctor this morning and got a prescription for domperidone, which is pretty much my last ditch effort at breastfeeding. Domperidone is not a magic pill - it does stimulate lactation, but you still have to do the hard yards and keep up a diligent nursing schedule.

So where does that leave us? Well, my domperidone prescription is for one week, so at that point we'll review yet again and decide what we want to do (I know I keep saying "we" - this is because although they're my boobs, I value Mr Bibliosaur's input). If the drugs didn’t work, we’ll probably stop and go to 100% formula, if only for my own sanity. I know that might not be a popular choice, but it will be what's right for our family.

It's difficult to express just how exhausting and frustrating this process is and I can absolutely understand why many women give up when they have multiples. Some days are easier than others and on them I feel very positive and hopeful that eventually we'll be able to exclusively breastfeed. Other days (like today) I just start sobbing and want to give up entirely. Breastfeeding may be natural, but that doesn't mean it's easy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Baby Citysaur!

Benjamin James
Born 3.10.10
6:24 PM

Birth weight: 7 lbs 15 oz (3.6 kg, according to this site)
Weight at 2 month check-up: 10 lbs 13.5 oz (4.91 kg)

You can find my birth story on Pregosaur here. I'm so excited to have made the move over to Littlesaur, and I'm going to try to be a good blogger here!

The past 2 1/2 months have been quite an adventure. My maternity leave is almost up, so I'm about to enter the world of the working mom. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last eleven weeks being at home with my munchkin, but I am also ready to get back to work and have some grown-up time as well.

I have so much to share, just from the last couple of months...but I don't want to overload any one post. So today I'm going to talk about how well we've gotten to know our pediatrician (and a few other medical professionals), just over the last couple of months! Before I go into this, let me just say that I consider myself so lucky that this is all we've had to deal with so far - I know our problems have been minor ones, so I don't want this to come off like I'm complaining!

I do find some irony in our situation - the fact that I didn't even enter a hospital when giving birth to my son, and went completely med-free - and yet we've had more pediatrician visits than I can even count already! Let's see...

Day 2 of Ben's life - routine first check-up. Mr. Citysaur took him to this appointment, while I stayed in bed (as I felt like I'd been hit by a Mack truck at that point!). Everything looked good at that appointment.

Day 3 of Ben's life - home visit by the midwife. I managed to get dressed and make it downstairs for this visit, and honestly was feeling quite a bit better at that point. I was a bit nervous, as our midwife really impresses me, and it was a tad nervewracking having her inspecting our home and such! But things, again, looked good - except that she said he was "a bit jaundiced" and told us to get him some sunlight.

Day 6 - "1-week" routine visit to pediatrician - Ben had lost a good bit off his birth weight (I think he was down about 7 or 8 ounces at that point), and our pedi did a heel stick to test his bilirubin level, because at that point he was looking quite jaundiced (though we, as new parents, were oblivious to this at the time). Looking back, you can really see the yellow in his face...

Later that same day, I got a call from the pedi's nurse, saying that Ben's bilirubin levels were "really high", and they were sending someone over with bililights for home phototherapy. So for the next 36 hours, this is where Ben spent his time...

We called it the "baby tanning bed". The tube coming out the end there is connected to a paddle, which emits the same light that the bed does - that way he got maximum skin coverage. When I fed him, I had to hold this paddle up against his back. Oh, and I was ordered to make sure he ate every 2 hours, because that also helped to break up and secrete the bilirubin. The night he spent in the tanning bed was rough (for me, anyway) - I stayed up with him, feeding him 30 minutes out of every 2 hours, and napping on the recliner in between. That has to be the worst night I've had, out of them all!

Fortunately, he responded really well to the treatment, and he was finished with that after a day and a half - and that included breaks in between to go to the pediatrician each day (days 7 & 8) - and, since our pedi was on vacation, we had to go to the hospital both those days as well, to get his heel stuck again.

Day 9 - Our 10-day follow-up at the Birth Center. Fairly routine, everything checked out well. We told the midwife our jaundice story, and bragged about how well he did with the phototherapy. He got his footprints put on the wall of the Birth Center (those are his at the top):

Day 10 - Newborn hearing screening at local hearing/speech therapy clinic. Normally, this is done in the hospital, but we didn't have a hospital birth, so we had to get it done elsewhere. He failed, we scheduled a retest for a few weeks later.

Day 12 - Routine 2-week visit to pediatrician. Ben finally makes it back to birth weight.

Day 33 - Follow-up hearing screening. Failed again. Told to go on to a more thorough Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) test. That test is scheduled for early May.

Day 36 - Routine 1-month visit. Still looking good.

Day 38 - Six-week post-partum check-up. This one's for me, though Ben did tag along. Everything checked out nicely, released to resume normal activity.

Day 55 - Ben goes to pediatrician for a persistant and unusual-sounding cough. Another heel stick for bloodwork. I get a call that evening that he has a "highly contagious viral infection" in his chest. Told to come in first thing the next morning.

Day 56 - Back to pediatrician - diagnosis: RSV. Sent home with a nebulizer and a prescription for albuterol to use with it. Told to give breathing treatments every 6 hours and come back in two days.

Day 56, part 2 - Right after visiting the pedi, we head to the hearing clinic to get the ABR test. Results: inconclusive, but mostly good. He's not deaf, there are just some slight hearing difficiences showing, probably due to fluid still lingering. Could've been from the RSV, could've been from something else. Repeat ABR scheduled for late June. If he still doesn't pass that one, it will be on to an ENT for more testing.

Day 58 - Back to pedi again. Not sure the point of this visit, except that the pedi listened to his lungs and said his breathing was getting better. Told to continue treatments "as needed." (We did, for a couple of days, and then sort of petered out...he hated that oxygen mask!)

Day 67 - Routine 2-month pedi visit. No more RSV, and Ben had gained a pound since the last visit, 10 days prior! What a growth spurt! He also did quite well with his vaccinations - 3 shots and 1 oral. He slept most of the afternoon, but the two doses of (generic, due to the recall) children's Tylenol I gave him seemed to keep the fever at bay.

So as you can see, we've had quite enough of medical visits over the past couple of months! Fortunately, as I mentioned earlier, everything has been fairly minor, and today we have a very healthy and very happy baby! Speaking of which, he just woke up from his nap, and it's going to be time to feed soon! I'd better be going. I'll be back for more soon!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Allow myself to introduce...myself

Well it's official - the twins are here, which means I'm making the move over from Pregosaur! My beautiful little boys were born four weeks ago (you can read their birth story here), and it's only just now that things are settling down enough that I feel like I can start blogging again.

My special little guys two weeks ago, at 13 days old.

Being a mama to twins definitely has it's own special challenges. Some days, like yesterday, are easy - everyone was happy and things went smoothly. Other days, like today, are hard...

I'm typing one handed right now because Dash erupts into a screaming fit any time I put him down and won't sleep unless he's being held. This makes feeding times nearly impossible - although I often tandem feed the boys, for their last meal I fed Dash first, and then he screamed his head off the entire time I was feeding Will. But I can't hold him and nurse Will at the same time, and Will would have screamed if I stopped feeding him, so I had to leave Dash where he was (although I did lean over to talk to and pat him). Then I had to cut poor Will's cuddle time short to pick up Dash - thank God that Will is in a good mood and happy to be settled in his rocker. On days like this, I feel like no one wins and neither boy gets the attention they deserve.

There have been other challenges as well - breastfeeding has been a huuuuuge issue (and will get an entire post of its own), juggling two crying babies is insane at times, and everyday life can be incredibly overwhelming - plus all of the usual things like getting used to running on two hours of sleep and being spit up/peed/pooped on every day! But it's worth every moment to have my beautiful little boys - they are the greatest joy in my life, and I am beyond in love with them.

I'm looking forward to writing about my experiences as a first time parent of twins - it's going to be one hell of a ride!