Jared Lounging in his Boppy
Jared Left, Anthony Right
Nurse Hyan, Nurse Tiffany, Momma, Nurse Sooji, Daddy, Nurse Kim, Nurse Imelda, Nurse Geri (L&D Nurse), Nurse Pat, Nurse Chris
Because it feels like a year.
People weren't kidding when they said that having twins was a ton of work. As you may have noticed from the amount of time between posts here, taking care of our two little monkeys leaves little time for anything else. We are lucky because the boys are on a very good schedule thanks to the NICU. That being said, it feels like we are constantly feeding, changing diapers or trying to keep them from wailing constantly.
Everything is double for us. With a singleton baby one might wake up at 2 a.m. for a feeding, and be done by 2:30. Well for us to get both boys taken care of usually takes an hour. That then leaves two hours of sleep between feedings. This of course assumes they will actually sleep between feedings.
This has been our challenge so far. For some reason the boys just can't seem to realize that the night is for sleeping. During the day they will eat and then fall asleep immediately. If we didn't wake them up for the next feeding they would sleep all day. Night is another story. They eat then sleep for a couple of minutes and wake up. Sometimes it will be to just cry. Other times they just wake up and fuss. We can often hear them rooting around in the bassinet.
After the first couple of nights of getting twenty minutes (literally) of sleep Danielle and I were at our wits' ends. Then came our trip to the pediatrician for the first time.
The boys weathered the car ride to see Dr. Isterabadi for the first time. She gave each boy a thorough exam. We are delighted to report that both are in perfect health. There is no more concern about PDA, or any other breathing or heart malady. The brain bleed and cysts in Anthony are perfectly healed. As for Jared, his bleed is gone, but the cysts still remain. The pediatrician wants a follow up ultrasound to track the healing process.
Other than that one issue for Jared, the boys are fine. We will return in May for our next visit. The doctor spent almost an hour with the boys doing her exams, and thankfully for us, answering some questions we had. We couldn't figure out why the boys were not sleeping at night.
We had our theories. Clearly at first it must have been the environment. Going from the noise and commotion of the NICU to peace and quiet, and darkness of home must have been a lot for them to handle. So, Danielle and I tried as best we could to recapture that environment for them with the hopes they'd sleep at night a bit. We turned on the TV and even left our bedroom light on. That didn't work.
We then thought perhaps it was gas keeping them up since at first they were little farting machines. Of course we had gas relief on hand, but were reluctant to give them any medication without doctor approval. We were delighted to find out that the doctor recommends giving Mylicon with every feeding to prevent gas discomfort, especially with preemies. We also postulated that it could be acid reflux. This was a problem for them in the NICU. Jared in fact, was prescribed Zantac while there for a while.
She also suggested that we do our best to not recreate the NICU environment. She said the room should be dark and quiet to let them acclimate to being at home. As for the reflux, the doctor did not want to prescribe Zantac just yet. She suggested tilting their bed up to 45 degrees. This is exactly what was done for the first 9 or so weeks in the NICU.
When we got home we applied the doctors suggestions. We were skeptical. But, tilting the bed and giving them Mylicon seemed to be the magic bullet. The boys slept perfectly between feedings. Danielle and I were able to get about 6 hours total of sleep that night! Success! Then the next night happened. Neither boy would sleep at all.
So we called the doctors office to try and figure out if there is something we are doing wrong. The doctor would normally just think it was nothing and part of the ups and downs of having a newborn (keep in mind the twins are considered newborns from the time of discharge from the NICU, even though time-wise, they are three months old). But, she was concerned they were both not sleeping. So, she prescribed Zantac for reflux.
That seemed to do the trick. The boys still have immature digestive tracts, and the sphincter in their esophagus may not be strong enough to tighten down and keep stomach acid from creeping back up into the throat. This of course will change with time, but for the time being the doctor wants to try and keep the stomach acid at bay.
The Zantac, the Mylicon, the dark, and the tilting of the bed have really made things better. Of course we've had a couple of nights where they just didn't want to sleep, but that is just part of having new babies. As a whole though, they do a decent job of sleeping between feedings now.
Danielle and I have our system down too. We can change a diaper have a bottle made, and a kid fed within 30 minutes now. We make a great team.
We are still learning though. I suppose sometimes our best intentions as parents can blow up in our face. While we both work together and pull our weight, it always seems that Danielle just can't or won't sleep. This concerns me because I want her to get rest. Every noise the boys make she's up making sure they are breathing, not choking, hungry or otherwise need attention. Short of screaming bloody murder, earthquake, or nuclear holocaust, Daddy sleeps when the boys sleep of course.
The last couple of nights I have volunteered during the day to do a feeding by myself so that Danielle can sleep for a few hours. Of course both boys wake up screaming for food at the same time. Here's a tip prospective or new parents: invest in Boppy pillows. Those things are life-savers. So, when the boys scream for food at the same time, I plop them in the pillows, put one bottle in each hand and feed. It works surprisingly well, and Momma gets some sleep.
Now, back to my point about best intentions. I also have volunteered to take the 2 a.m. feeding alone to allow Momma to sleep from midnight to 5 a.m. uninterrupted. Of course on the two nights we've tried this the boys would refuse to sleep between the 2 a.m. and the 5 a.m. feeding, thus destroying my well-intended plans. It just seems to work better when we both do the night feedings, strangely.
I guess the bottom line is that the sleep deprivation is horrid. I'll be honest, it has been very difficult for me to not feel anger when they are screaming and won't sleep. I get so frustrated. But, of course Danielle is a Saint. Therein lies the difference between mothers and fathers I guess. They could be screaming bloody murder with a diaper full of poop, pee flying in her face, and Momma is happy. Daddy wants to jump out a window.
Of course it's all worth it though, and I've been able to give myself some perspective. When I am angry I just think about our arduous journey. I think about how they struggled for life on January 5. I think about all the ups and downs, surgeries, and nights of worries about whether they'd live. The fact that they are home is a blessing. Plus, it just so hard to stay angry at two little boys so damn beautiful!
At the end of the day I actually enjoy the work, the spit up, the pee, and the poop. It is all worth it. At least I hope so. I keep telling the boys that all I want is a nice nursing home someday.
As for other events, the boys have had the pleasure of meeting just about the whole family on both sides. Of course everyone has fallen in love and people are shocked at their size. Anthony is 5lbs. 14oz. as of March 30, and Jared is 5lbs. 11oz. as of the same date.
Everyone who has met them has cried. You all have seen the pictures of sickly little babies hooked to machines and tubes. It is now quite a sight to see two, normal-looking babies in the flesh after all that I guess.
Easter was good to us. My parents and sister came by for breakfast, and Danielle's mother and sisters came by for lunch. We then surprised my family at Aunty Mare's with the boys. It was a small gathering and we figured it would be fine to bring the boys out. Aunty Laura cried, Uncle Hal even gushed a bit. Cousin Ali just cried and cried, and snapped pictures like she worked for the paparazzi. Daddy got to play some poker while the women all lost their minds over the boys.
It was a great day.
Everyday has been great. Some have been harder than others. But, that's life. That's being parents. It's all about the ride, and so far ours has been great.
Thank you all again for your love and support. We haven't forgotten about you and won't. We pray and thank God every night for you all.
I am sitting here trying to think of a way to sign off my post. The mantra while in the NICU we all know too well. So I'm thinking what is more appropriate? The bottom line is that life is always a fight. We fight to stay strong, do the right thing, etc. So, unless someone can think of something more clever I'll close with how we always have:
Fight On, Little Fighters!- Love Daddy