Monday, July 11, 2011

Five months later

Well anyone who was reading my blog months ago has probably long stopped checking it! So much time has passed since my last post. Becoming a mom to twins at this point in my life has been quite a challenge. Something had to give in order for me to stay on top of things -- and actually several things had to give for me to hold onto even a shred of my sense of control over my life.

I have not been depressed. Just incredibly busy and on some days, overwhelmed and exhausted. I made one BIG mistake and that was not teaching the twins to nap in their cribs sooner. I let them cat nap in their portable bassinets in the living room all day long. This gave me NO time to myself and resulted in quite a high level of anxiety at times.

Now that nap time occurs twice a day in the nursery -- simultaneously, no less -- I look back at what I was doing and 1) feel pretty lousy about not giving them the opportunity for higher quality sleep during the daytime -- after reading quite a bit on the topic, I now know how much they need it and 2) wonder how in the world I survived for as long as I did. I mean, really! How did I do that?

The twins are almost eight months old and they are doing great. They are happy, chubby little babies who delight us every day. Baby girl has a joyful soul and almost always wakes up smiling. If I could predict what she'll be like, I'd say she's going to be an outgoing person with a lot of energy. Baby boy appears to be a deep thinker and is incredibly adorable. He has the most infectious smile. We are blessed beyond measure. I think often of how these two little beings came into the world and I marvel at the work of CCRM.

I also go through stages when I think often about our other three embryos at CCRM -- what will we do? I want to give them the opportunity to become full-fledged human beings because I know what those CCRM embryos grow into! But I am torn about whether I can handle more children on so many fronts. I'm 40 and DH is 51. Would it be unwise? If we don't use the embryos, they cannot be donated to another couple, unfortunately, because I was too old when they were created. (I believe CCRM's maximum age is 35 at the time of egg retrieval. I was 39.)

I'd like to recommit to posting once a week and visiting all the blogs I used to read almost daily, but I'm smarter than that. I will say that I hope to make more appearances in the blogosphere and to reconnect with some of my "old" friends. I hope everyone is doing well and having a good summer.

Friday, February 11, 2011

It takes a village

While DH was out of town for three days this week, everything went well! I had lots of help -- a friend brought me lunch on Monday, another friend came over after work Monday and stayed through the babies' bedtime, a mother/daughter team came over Tuesday evening and even spent the night, and then on Wednesday, another friend came for the afternoon. DH was back home that night. The babies were simultaneously fussy for a few hours on Monday, but other than that, there really weren't moments of extreme frustration.

I was not only grateful for the extra hands; I was thrilled to have the company. I am learning more and more that two keys to my sanity are a little bit of variety in my days and interaction with friends. The wonderful thing is that these friends were all really happy to help out. They all adore the babies and seemed to really enjoy the time with them.

The babies are sleeping fairly well overnight, for about 6-7 hours. We keep fine-tuning our bedtime routine to figure out what works best. Tonight we actually put the babies down and there was no crying!! Yahoo!

Thanks to those of you who commented on my last post with encouraging words. It's so great to have this community!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Truly flying solo

I found out today that DH has to travel out of town for work on Monday. He won't be home until the middle of the night on Tuesday or on Wednesday morning. I'm pretty much freaking out. Can't decide whether I should hire a night nurse to help me out or simply go with it and see how things work. I mean, how many women in the world have managed twins alone? Plenty, for sure. One of my best friends has agreed to come over to help out during bath and bedtime on Monday night. I can probably find someone else to come over on Tuesday night, if need be. If I can just get them down for the night, I'll be fine. Making that transition from daytime to nighttime sleeping is the great challenge these days, typically involving several rounds of crying and soothing.

I am thinking the trick to managing this is to mentally prepare myself to be exhausted and at moments, very frustrated. I had one of those moments of frustration earlier today and started to cry while holding baby boy. DH had just left for a run -- the house was peaceful, with both babies napping in their cribs -- but baby boy started to cry uncontrollably. He'd been crying like that about 30 minutes earlier, off and on. I had hoped he'd sleep through his entire nap. But I think he's having gas pains, despite the baby gas drops we're giving him on a regular basis. So I freed him from his swaddle and the crib and brought him downstairs. As I did this, I started to cry -- feeling like a failure for "giving in" and worrying about what it will be like without DH. I wondered what he thought about my own crying. He actually stopped for a moment and looked up at me like, "What's wrong??"

Well, we will see how things go on Monday and Tuesday. I can do this! (I will keep telling myself this.) I think I can, I think I can . . .

Friday, February 4, 2011

A big anniversary and an even bigger birthday

I just realized -- as I was going to write a bit about my very happy 40th birthday last weekend -- that yesterday was the one-year anniversary of our fantastic retrieval at CCRM -- the day my 11-week-old twins were conceived! The day came and went and I didn't think about it once. I think this means I've lost all concept of time, but there's a pretty good explanation for that!

I need to find some good resources for multiples. Does anyone have any blogs or books to recommend? I'd love to connect with some twin moms who are bloggers and I also am looking for practical information about how to handle twins when you're alone with them. I'm trying to implement a schedule for the babies and it works pretty well when DH and I are here to do things simultaneously. It's those times when I'm flying solo that I get overwhelmed and very frustrated.

Speaking of the schedule, we are following some of what they recommend through Moms On Call. They're an Atlanta-based group of pediatric nurses who are also moms. They have a couple of online courses that are only $30. I did the infant one and it was quite helpful in terms of thinking about a schedule, but it didn't offer any suggestions for how to implement things for twins. Apparently you have to do an in-home consult ($350 for twins) to get that information. I'm trying to avoid that expense because there aren't many things we need help figuring out at this point. We learned a LOT from the NICU nurses.

So my birthday. It was great! The past few years have been depressing because of infertility. This year would have been super-depressing had we not finally achieved success. My unspoken goal was to have a baby before 40, so I was just deeply contented about the whole birthday thing. I have an old friend who's turning 40 in a few days and he is totally dreading it and freaking out. I had none of that, thankfully. It was a really good day, highlighted by the fact that it was 70 degrees in Atlanta and we got out of the house with the twins to go somewhere other than the pediatrician's office. Everything was casual and spontaneous, just the way I like things.

The babies are doing well, letting us sleep a little bit more. I actually got 6-7 hours last night in two separate "shifts." Thanks to Moms on Call we are letting them "cry it out" a little bit. One baby is a big crier while the other one is not. Makes for interesting bedtimes and naptimes. Thankfully the non-crier also can sleep through just about anything!

Okay, I gotta run. Thank you in advance for any blog or book suggestions!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Home alone and happy

Tonight is the third night that we are home ALONE with the twins. I am loving it. We are managing just fine, despite my mother's concerns that we couldn't do it. (I'm not sure if her concern wasn't a bit feigned in order to mask her desire to stay on and continue helping out -- she developed a strong, uh, "attachment" to the babies during her nearly two-month stay with us.... And yes, two months. It was complicated by the holidays. I couldn't send her packing around Christmas, which was when we really started to feel able to handle things alone.)

I'm beginning to feel like a mom. It's pretty cool! Exhausting, but wonderful. Worth the wait.

The twins had their two-month checkup this week. They're both around 9 lbs now and very healthy. The doctor even said normally he'd want to see them at three months, too, but we could just bring them back at four months unless we have concerns to address.

That's all for now. Sleep is calling because the babies are sleeping and probaby will for the next hour and a half (if I'm lucky).... See? I am capable of brevity!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Premature Parenthood

I've been thinking about how to summarize the past two months without too much or too little detail. I think I will break it down into topics such as:

-- when your pregnancy is cut short and you're not ready
-- when things don't go according to the birth plan
-- handling multiple weeks with a baby in the NICU
-- making it through the holidays under the above circumstances
-- figuring out what kind of help to request, accept, or deny from family and friends
-- what they didn't tell me about breastfeeding
-- what about our remaining embryos at CCRM?

Today I'll start with the first on the list:  premature parenthood. My twins were born at 32 weeks, 6 days. Interestingly, even though they were just one hour shy of 33 weeks, they were "32 weekers" according to the NICU. I hated that and always wished they could just call them 33 weekers because that would have sounded much better to me.

The fact that my pregnancy ended three weeks before my goal of 36 weeks was extremely difficult for me for the first several weeks and it still is, in some ways. At my first OB appointment last June, we sat in the office of a doctor I'd never met before and he told us that if I made it to mid-December it would be a miracle. Well that became my goal. Mid-December.

For weeks after the birth, which was on November 19, I couldn't stop thinking about how things happened, how surprised I was by it all, and how unprepared I felt. My last day at work had been that Monday and the babies arrived that Friday so I missed out on a lot of preparation and anticipation and nesting time. In addition to the distress of having to leave our newborns at the hospital when I was discharged, this was the dominant theme running through my mind and it just broke my heart -- I wasn't pregnant anymore. This sounds stupid, I know, considering I had two babies to think about.  But after all of those years of trying so hard to get pregnant, I just wasn't ready to not be pregnant. I felt like my body had failed the babies and I thought a lot about what I could have done to prevent such a premature birth and to keep the twins from having to stay in the NICU.

Just the other day, I read this:

"Having a premature baby has been likened by some experts to experiencing the death of a child. Parents grieve the loss of the healthy full-term newborn they pictured they'd take home, as well as of the normal pregnancy, delivery, and birth they were expecting. Don't forget that your parenthood, too, was premature, and you probably missed out on some important and meaningful social rituals that would have helped prepare you to take your baby home. You may not have completed your parenting class, had a baby shower, exulted in a celebration after delivery with your family and friends. Most parents of preemies don't realize how deep their deprivation is, or if they do, they may feel guilty about it. It doesn't feel right to mourn an imagined baby, or your own unmet needs, when you have a baby alive, and at home."
From "Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies" by Dana Wechsler Linden, Emma Trenti Paroli, and Mia Wechsler Doron, M.D. [This book is an excellent resource, by the way.]

Reading the above quote gave me some validation for how I felt those first several weeks. I believe I had known that I needed to emotionally prepare myself to not be pregnant anymore and I think it was on my mental list of things to do before I reached 36 weeks (along with things like finish the nursery, get caught up on thank you notes, read up some more on breastfeeding, etc., etc.). Not being  prepared to let go of being pregnant -- knowing I may never be pregnant again --  taught me how much I truly loved being pregnant. (A surprise to me, because as we struggled to beat IF and we considered all of the options, I said I wasn't the kind of woman who needed to experience pregnancy to feel like my life is complete.) Sure, my pregnancy was physically challenging in a variety of ways and toward the end I was pretty miserable with the swelling in my legs and feet. But I still loved it. I loved the anticipation of what was to come. I loved the excitement that people had for us. I enjoyed the success we finally achieved, after more than three very long years of trying to conceive. I treasured how "charmed" our CCRM experience had been. And I celebrated with each passing week that I wasn't on bed rest and seemed to be doing so well.

Of course, I realize as I write this that I can still enjoy our success and treasure the CCRM experience. Premature birth doesn't take that away. Nothing can!

During those first weeks, I could only talk about my feelings with DH because I figured anyone else would think I was crazy (and dear readers, if YOU think I'm crazy, please don't comment and tell me I'm wrong for feeling this way). Eventually, I think he gently said to me, "I think you need to let this go" -- or something like that -- and I realized he was right. I couldn't dote on the fact that I didn't get what I wanted. I needed to accept what had happened as part of this journey and move on. After all, that's life, right?

I've definitely begun to put aside the feelings of disappointment and failure and I've also begun to see the positives of not being pregnant anymore -- for starters, I'm 50 pounds lighter and can move around easily again. As we watched the babies grow and thrive week by week in the NICU, it helped to count those weeks as if I were still pregnant, especially as we surpassed 36 weeks. And we reached 40 weeks last Saturday -- what a milestone!

I know this is an awfullly introspective  (and some would say selfish) post, but I needed to put it out there. Perhaps it will help someone else. All of this certainly caught me off guard. I had no idea I would feel most of what I've described.

Until next time,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I'm back, I'm back!

I'm really excited. I'm back! I have missed this community so, so much over the past 7-8 weeks. I have much to share and much to catch up on with other bloggers. I have now caught up on a few of my bloggy friends and there's exciting stuff going on!

AuntieEm is transferring two embryos at CCRM this afternoon! Pie had her baby girl on Monday. AmyG is 35 weeks along and still playing gigs with her band.

Today's special for me, too. For the first time, I've been home alone with my babies -- for the past hour and a half -- and this is pure bliss. (Of course they are both sleeping like angels at the moment.) My mom left today after nearly eight weeks. Like people said I would, I cried after she left. I watched DH back out of the driveway and then they drove away. Just like that. At first I had a fearful feeling in the pit of my stomach and then I started to cry. But soon the tears dried up and I realized that this is the first time I've been home alone since the afternoon of the day the babies were born. The past 7-8 weeks are a big blur but I need to sort some things out and process what happened, so I'll be sharing some of that in upcoming posts.

For now, I want to say that I'm back and how grateful I am that this online community exists. Prior to the births (and even prior to my going part-time at work after Labor Day) I had imagined that I'd not lose touch like I did . . . . I had actually imagined being more present in the blogosphere . . . . but it was just so difficult to find the privacy and time to log on, particularly since mid-November. Aside from DH, almost no one IRL knows about this blog and I didn't want to out myself to family.

Happy 2011, everyone! May it be a great year for us all.