Healthy and home

We spent eight weeks in the NICU and there’s a lot to say about that, good and bad, hard and beautiful. There’s stuff I want to say about it, but it’s a long post, and a hard one. I’m not ready yet. Maybe by the time I’m ready, it won’t even matter. In hindsight, it feels like a voyage to the underworld out of a Greek myth (the internet just taught me the word “katabasis“). There’s some trauma wrapped up in there, for sure. But both twins came home by the end of October. Not in time for Thanksgiving as I had hoped (Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Sunday in October) but before Hallowe’en, and before their November 3 due date, at least. In our time there the twins went from three pounds apiece to five; they learned to breath, eat, and even breastfeed. They had no major medical scares, although for every step forward it seemed like there was a half-step back.

First pic of all four sisters together

Having them home is emotionally easier but not practically easier. Sleep is a real issue. And they’re not bad sleepers, as babies go, but they take turns. And the strategy that got us through the first month stopped working in the second.

Getting anything done with a small baby is hard. With two, it’s nearly impossible.

Other than sleep, getting a handle on the bottle feeding we had to do was really, really hard. In NICU I wasn’t allowed to breastfeed the babies more than two or three times a day, for no more than fifteen minutes at a time. Every breastfeed was followed up with a bottle of pumped breast milk fortified with preemie formula powder for extra calories and minerals. They also have to have two feeds of special preemie formula a day. And that was the feeding strategy that we brought home, topping up each feed, formula twice a day.

I had never sterilized bottles before, certainly never prepared formula. It didn’t seem so onerous while we were in the hospital and the prep was all being done for us, but at home it was a massive struggle of constant bottle-washing. And laundry, a whole other issue. Fortunately the twins got the hang of full-time breastfeeding within a couple of weeks, and became less and less interested in their top-up bottles, so at this point we only have to give them the supplements. It still feels like a lot of work, and it’s hard to get out from underneath babies long enough to do it, but my system has improved a bit. I’m still excited to phase it out, once they’re three months past their due date.

Other than those struggles, and a health issue I’ll cover soon, life is good. I spend a LOT of time stuck under babies. Sometimes I’m bored or resentful, or just stressed that I’m surrounded by disaster, but often it’s calm and blissful.

I miss wearing makeup and clean clothes. There’s puke. So much puke.

They don’t fit these preemie outfits any more. They were already getting too small when they came home from the hospital.

Getting to let them just lie side by side felt like such a privilege to begin with.

I have neither the ambition nor the organizational skills to dress them alike at all times, but it’s fun sometimes. I particularly like coordinating but non-identical outfits.

They don’t interact obviously, but they do subtly synchronize, movement, waking, even bowel movements.

I try to nurse both together often, for the time saving as well as the abundance of milk. It’s kind of like the Wild West of breastfeeding—they move their heads around a lot and grunt and swallow air, but it gets things done quickly.

Dresses on babies who can’t walk yet are a little ridiculous and awkward, yet still adorable, especially at Christmas. Those “infant” sized tights are as long as they are, however.

There are some really sweet moments.

The newborn sized clothes are getting outgrown now, too.

Just in the last week or two they’ve been getting interested in their play frame, kicking and batting at the hanging toys, sometimes even long enough for me to eat breakfast.

So yeah, if you need me, I’ll be over here under the pile of babies.

16 Comments

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16 responses to “Healthy and home

  1. Connie Turner

    Tie a knot and hang on. It must really be tough and now you have come through the worst of it. I send you my best wishes to you and your family.

  2. I can’t imagine how hard this has been for you. Thank you for posting.

  3. LinB

    Oh, happy joy to have them home at last!

    You’ll get through this — the whole family will get through this. Remember to eat. Remember to breathe. Sleep when you can. Let others do things for you that you are too tired to do.

    We love you — thank you for letting your followers peek into your busy, busy life.

  4. Susan from Manitoba

    What a lovely mess! Congratulations!

  5. Happy new year! Your girls are all so lovely, and I hope that things continue to get better/easier for you. May 2020 be a wonderful year for your family =)

  6. Exactly where you should be. That period will be over and the next will begin and so it goes. Snuggle now while that’s their thing because a year from now….. Not so much.
    Take care of yourself as well.
    Bernie

  7. Amy Neuenschwander

    This makes me smile!!!

  8. Ellie Swanson

    OMG – they are SO beautiful!!! Many, many congratulations to ALL your family members!! xoxoxoxo

  9. Things should continue to just get better, so be sure to take each day as it comes. And don’t forget to take care of mama! They’re pretty cute, thanks for sharing. 🙂

  10. I love baby updates! I feel like I’m having the magical experience of raising twins with none of the sleep deprivation (or puke, or crying). T and R are doing so fantastically and they are so adorable. That pic of all the girls is wonderful. Thank you for sharing this experience. xo

  11. I thank you for your candor and your honesty. “So. Much. Puke” reminds me of the bathrobes we threw away (it was that or burying them to hopefully decompose) because the smell would not exit. I guess the advantage you have is knowledge that this really will pass, that the period where every day lasts a week will metamorphose into every week lasts a day. Just not right now.
    They are very boring. They will be very very boring soon. Love you guys so much.
    Stephanie

  12. Thanks for sharing, I’ve been following along with your baby posts on Instagram. You’ve all been through so much and I hope it becomes easier and easier with time.

  13. Twin feeding must feel like the holy grail once it’s co-ordinated – kudos to you mate!
    I recall that resentment, but I promise this will be so worth it. At the 3am feed I used to read Winnie the Pooh to my son!
    You must be kind of craving intellectual stimulation but at the same time just too tired to think?
    Good luck maintaining your sanity – hopefully you can get some time away from the bundles, Ben an hour – but you have to promise to return!!
    Happy 2020 xx

  14. Elektra

    Wow, this sounds really stressful..
    But you should not put pictures of naked Babys on the internet.
    Please.
    Good Luck to you and your Family, and a happy 2020.

  15. vicki

    Congratulations and welcome to the multiples class. I understand how you feel. I had twins too. It was a hard, exhausting, emotional, and beautiful. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. As a mother of twins, it will get easier I promise. Just have patience and lots of love.

  16. Lisa G

    Such a sweet and honest post! What a blessing they are!!

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