Isn’t if funny how our lives stack up? I may not be where I ever pictured myself, but I’d not trade any of this for the world!
Married: 16.5 years
Pregnant: 208 weeks (just shy of 4 years)
12 years (so far) of diaper changes
87 months breastfeeding (just over 7 years)
2 graduate schools
3 elementary schools
1 middle school
1 high school
prayed over 4 Godchildren
Those numbers seem staggering, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. As a result of those seven years of breastfeeding, our children are very spaced out! That means we will have a student in out high school for the next 11 years straight, in the middle school for 11 years straight, and kids in our elementary school for 11 years straight. . .and then one more round in the middle school and high school!
All this is to point out, ever so gently, that motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint.
As mothers we will make errors. We will make big and small mistakes. But we have YEARS to make corrections. And sometimes, we learn that the things we stressed out about were not such a big deal after all (like decisions over crib bedding).
I also like to think that there is extra special patience granted an oldest child. We make most of our mistakes with him!
Chime in! How do your number stack up? You know I’d love to hear from you!
Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of my favorite fellow twin mamas! My friend Kristin agreed to guest post today to share her experience with preemie twins, what led to their premature birth, and how the March of Dimes has helped her family! You can read more from Kristin here and here
I have always supported the March of Dimes and the amazing work that they do. They have helped to fund the research of amazing medical advances such as the polio vaccine, perfect amniocentesis, and helped to educate women of child bearing age about the importance of taking enough folic acid to prevent neural tube defects.
I supported the March of Dimes and their mission to help moms achieve full term pregnancies and researching the problems that threaten health of babies long before I ever fully understood just what the March of Dimes does.Then in December 2005 I saw firsthand the amazing things that the March of Dimes has accomplished with funds raised…because I became a Preemie Mommy.
In May 2005 my husband and I learned that we were pregnant. We were over the moon, as we had been trying for over 18 months to get pregnant after the birth of our first daughter, Delainey in 2003. In June we learned we were expecting twins…. It was amazing and we couldn’t have been happier. Our pregnancy went extremely well. We did have a few pre-term labor scares and a few bouts with modified bedrest but once we made it to 33 weeks in mid December both my doctors and I sighed a huge sigh of relief because we knew that our girls were going to be ok.
The Thursday before Christmas I began to get ill. I started feeling dizzy, flushed, and swelling a lot. I went to the clinic and was told to go home and try and relax over the holiday. During the Christmas holiday my symptoms got worse. In addition to being dizzy, swollen and being flushed I began to have horrible headaches. I went to the hospital to get checked on Christmas Day and was again sent home and told to relax. My husband and I finally went into the hospital on Dec 26th, the Monday after Christmas, as I had begun to have contractions and we were only 34 weeks pregnant. When we got to the hospital they attempted to stop the contractions but also began to explore my symptoms further as I had begun having severe abdominal pain in addition to previous symptoms.
I was eventually diagnosed with HELLP syndrome Class 1 (the most severe). I had all the signs of HELLP and they were ignored both by the clinician I saw on the Thursday before the holiday as well as the doctor who saw me on Christmas Day. Both my husband and I were very scared when we learned that our twins were going to be joining us in a matter of minutes. I was quickly rushed to the operating room where I was placed under general anesthesia (because of my illness I could not be awake during the operation because of risks to me).
Our girls were born at 11:44 and 11:46am on Monday, December 26th, 2005… and they were both quickly rushed into the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) because of respitory distress. They were both placed on breathing machines and given IVs.
I was unable to see my daughters until 7pm on December 27th due to the severity of my own medical condition but when I was finally taken to see them it was just amazing. At the moment you don’t think of all the wires, lines, machines and people… you only think about your baby… or in our cases babies.
Life in the NICU is different that is for certain. Having had a NICU free preterm birth with our first daughter, this was all new to us. There was no seeing your baby when you wanted to, there was no cuddling with them in your own bed, there was no holding them when you wanted, or even showing them off to family. They were kept in small incubators and behind walls, doors and glass. It required 2 full minutes of washing up before you could even enter into the NICU to see them.
Our daughters were placed on “grow/feed” status which really truly meant they were just there to learn to eat and breathe at the same time, regulate their body temperatures and put on just a little bit of weight before they were able to come home.
We had a rough 11 days of trying to coordinate schedules of “NICU time” and making sure that we spent enough time with our older daughter who was only 2 years old at the time. I wanted to be at the NICU as much as possible so that I could establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship with my girls… I wanted to be their mom and not just a bystander.
Our NICU staff was amazing! The nurses were by far angels on earth. They would comfort me when I couldn’t get Shelby to nurse and they celebrated with us when Avery actually ate her whole feeding with neither of us wearing it. We all celebrated together as the girls moved from their incubators to isolettes (open air glass cribs).
Honestly, our girls had a relatively uneventful NICU stay (praise God), and we were only in the NICU for 11 days. On January 6th, 2006 at 11 days old, both of us girls were able to come home. Both my husband and I sighed a huge sigh of relief to have our family at home and complete. And it has been wonderful ever since.
As a NICU graduate Mommy, I have just a few ‘survival’ tips to share with you:
Trust your medical staff. They are there to support you and to care for your child(ren). They do know their jobs, and they are good at them.
There is no ‘planning’ in the NICU. You will not find out that you are going home until probably the day of… you may get to know the day before. It helps no one to get disappointed if you are given a date and then something happen that can change that.
You can still breastfeed your preemie, and you can breastfeed your preemie multiples. It will be difficult, but it can be done. I took the ‘stance’ of whatever gets them home, so my girls were allowed to have bottles of expressed breast milk while in NICU (bottle feeding is easier). It wasn’t until we got home the breastfeeding got fully established.
When someone asks to help… LET THEM. We know we are all super mom, but even super mom deserves a break.
Remember to sleep. Because trust me, once your preemie gets home you aren’t going to get any.
It is because of the wonderful help that our family received from the March of Dimes and their amazing research that we like to give back.
The March for Babies, is the biggest annual fundraiser for the March of Dimes. Walks are scheduled all over the country beginning in May and going through June. Our family has been active walkers in the March for Babies since 2006 and we are doing it again this year. Please join us in fighting for the babies…because babies shouldn’t have to fight.
Our 2010 March for Babies team.
Thanks Kristin, for sharing your experience. My Emily was cared for in the very same NICU as Shelby and Avery, and the care she received was indeed wonderful. Though Emily was not pre-term, we shared similar experiences and Kristin was a great support for me while Emily was in the hospital.
Do you have twins, are expecting twins or know someone who is? Make sure you click on over to my “Got Twins?” page and learn more about the wonders of twindom! Lots of advice and experience from pregnancy, breast feeding and beyond!
Yesterday the twins turned 10 months old. They sleep mostly through the night, they finally nap at the same time, they eat more solids and depend less on breastfeeding to meet all of their needs. In other words, they are getting to be a lot easier. I’m going to be a lot busier soon, as both girls appear to be on the verge of walking, but at the same time, I’m pretty used to keeping mobile babies entertained. This isn’t my first rodeo, you know!
A friend gave birth to her set of beautiful twin girls last Tuesday. When I went to visit her at the hospital and I saw those two tiny perfect little peanuts I gasped. They were both 6 pounds 5 ounces, a bit smaller than my Ellie was, and a bit larger than my Emmy. And yet. . . I could hardly remember my girls being quite so tiny, and quite so helpless.
So this post goes out to my friend, as she navigates these first tenuous weeks of adjusting to not one baby, but two!
Be gentle on yourself. A multiple pregnancy takes a lot out of you as a mom, especially near the end. Multiple deliveries are no picnic either, whether you deliver naturally, via c-section, or a combination of the two. It is likely that you lost a lot of blood, are anemic, and also very, very tired. So rest as much as you can, accept help when offered, and take things slowly.
Remember that babies are more important than schedules. As much as you really want to get those babies into a routine, part of that routine has to come from the babies as well. Spend the first few weeks paying attention to their hunger cues and establishing a healthy nursing relationship. It may be harder to breastfeed two, but it is not impossible, and it very well be your most time saving decision in the long run (even though it does NOT seem like it now!)
In these first few weeks, don’t try to keep the babies on the same schedule. If they fall into it naturally, fine (many MZ twins will naturally keep very similar schedules, DZ twins probably will not). However stressing about keeping two individuals on the same routine may end up being more work for mom in these early weeks. Personally, I relished time alone with each of the girls. I also think that they appreciate some one on one time with mom.
Get to know the signs of postpartum depression. Tell your family members about the signs. Tell them to tell you if you are exhibiting them. Seek help if you need it! The hormone shift after a multiple birth is extreme to say the least. Find a way to relax, be alone, and hash out your feelings. Blogging in my early days really helped. I know people thought I was crazy for writing instead of napping in those first months, but for me the writing was even more therapeutic than sleep!
Drink a ton of water. You need it. Your babies need it.
Take a bajillion photos. Write everything down. You THINK you will remember all of these crazy days. Trust me. You won’t. (oh and in those pictures, keep the babies in the same order all of the time! I still mostly have Ellie on the left and Emmy on the right!)
So, it is time for you to chime in! What is your best piece of advice for a brand new mother of multiples? (MoM). Are you expecting twins, or more? Do you want more of my tips, or experiences? Ask away! I love to hear from you all!