I blinked, and now my babies are here. Emily is cutting her first tooth at 12 weeks, Drew is trying to roll over, and I am going back to work in a few short hours.
I should be sleeping right now. After all, the babies are down, they are sleeping through the night, and I have to be up for work for the first time since May. Instead, I am running on nervous energy. You’d think I was nesting all over again. I have cleaned the house, made bottles, washed clothes, and even planned meals for the week. Do I think that if I don’t sleep I can prolong the inevitable? Or am I struggling with my own ambivalence about returning to work and leaving the babies?
I never seriously entertained the idea of being a stay-at-home mom. I always planned to go back to work for a variety of reasons, all of which you have probably heard before. But then Emily and Drew arrived.
Suddenly my days didn’t revolve travel, meetings, coaching, and emails. They revolved around feeding, diaper changing, rocking, playing, and loving the two most precious babies in the world. It was a never-ending, all-consuming job. Honestly, much of the last 12 weeks is a blur--an awesome blur--but a blur. Marty and I ran on no sleep and leaned on family and friends to prop us up when we felt we might fall down from exhaustion. I was up early every day, and I moved all day long. I think I felt I had to be super-mom because my time at home was limited. I always felt like I should have a baby in my arms, whether I was feeding, rocking, talking, or playing. If I left them in the swing to wash bottles or take a shower, I felt like I was misplacing my priorities. By the end of some days, I was in tears, not of happiness, but of exhaustion and frustration. I couldn’t wait for Marty to relieve me so I could nap even if it was just for a few minutes. Surely, this was the hardest job I have ever had.
People have told me that going back to work will make my time with the babies even more special. I’ll be so happy to see them, and they’ll be happy to see me. I will appreciate the opportunity to feed them instead of secretly groaning that it’s time to feed--again. I will benefit from the adult company, and my babies will benefit from a saner mom. The truth is I am torn.
There’s a small part of me that is ready to go back. Secretly, I long for a quiet car ride, an uninterrupted lunch, and a reason to take a shower. And, that small part of me makes me feel terribly GUILTY. What kind of mom wants to leave her babies?
There’s a bigger part of me that hates the thought of leaving my babies. I know once I am back at work, time will fly by. I saw a quote at the doctor’s office the other day that said, “The days are long, but the years are short.” How true it is. Despite all the hard work, we developed a routine and a flow to our days, and I am sad that our babymoon is over. How much will I miss while I am in a car, at a school, having lunch, or rushing around to balance having a career, running a house, and raising twins? And, this big part of me also makes me feel terribly GUILTY. What kind of mom would leave her babies?
I know the babies will be in good hands when I leave in seven hours, and for that, I am grateful. I am going to try not to call every hour, and I am going to try to have conversations that don’t revolve around how sad I am. However, I will come armed with 300 baby pictures on my I-Phone. People may wish me back to maternity leave.
As with so much recently, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out. As Kenny Chesney sings, I am going to try to slow it down and take it all in. In that spirit, here are two videos from this weekend that show our amazing babies.
"Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its troubles; it empties today of its strength."
For the longest time, this quote has been my email signature. If it is true, then I know why I have stayed exhausted since last October. I worried away my pregnancy, and now that Emily and Drew are here, I have found new anxieties. Small, big, serious, frivolous, common, bizarre, far-fetched, and plausible, my worries come in all sorts of packages.
Yes, I know I must get a handle on worry because motherhood is full of uncertainty and situations I can't control....blah, blah, blah. Just because I know you're right doesn't mean it makes it any easier to quit.
No, it wasn't hard to come up with 101 worries. Even Marty doubted I could list 101 different ones, but honestly, it was a pretty quick task.
Yes, I know this list will make me look neurotic, but I am fairly certain others will see some of their own worries that they've been too afraid to voice. Worriers unite!
Yes, creating this list was therapeutic, and at the very least, it kept my mind from moving on to worry 102...at least for a little while.
While pregnant #1 miscarriage/ seeing the heartbeats/vanishing twins #2 differences in baby sizes on those early ultrasounds #3 differences in heart rates #4 gaining too much weight while pregnant #5 not having any morning sickness #6 misshapen uterus #7 bleeding from low-lying placenta #8 overdoing it while on bed rest #9 pre-eclampsia after one high blood pressure reading #10 Baby B's head measurements ("Maybe he just has a big head like his dad?") #11 toxoplasmosis from cats #12 birth defects #13 cord becoming entangled #14 too little movement #15 too much movement #16 effect of anterior placentas #17 Baby A always having hiccups #18 safety of any medicine I was given during pregnancy #19 gestational diabetes after I failed 1 hour test #20 gall bladder #21 flying while pregnant #22 danger of smoke in casinos while in Vegas #23 danger of too much laptop use #24 drinking too much or too little water #25 that deli meat turkey sandwich I had at Panera #26 swollen feet, ankles, hands #27 going into labor too soon #28 ultrasound tech possibly being wrong about genders As delivery day approached #29 Baby B being breech #30 c-section pain #31 the spinal #32 where babies would sleep when they came home #33 whether I would be able to breastfeed #34 if my babies would be healthy #35 if my babies would be cute At the hospital #36 going back for my spinal all by myself #37 the health of my babies #38 losing my uterus if they couldn't stop my hemorrhage #39 safety of the two pints of blood I received #40 germs from hospital visitors #41 sending the babies to the nursery for a few hours at night #42 the nursery mixing up my babies #43 not having any milk for breastfeeding #44 Drew after his circumcision #45 Emily losing weight due to her jaundice #46 the safety of the Hep B vaccine #47 the lady taking them away for their hearing test Now that they are here #48 giving up on breastfeeding too soon #49 bonding #50 safety of the water I used to mix their formula #51 BPA in formula cans #52 germs in public places #53 swaddling them too tight #54 cutting their fingernails #55 driving them alone for the first time #56 other people holding my babies #57 color of poop #58 number of poops #59 Drew losing his hair #60 safety of their bassinets #61 SIDS #62 reflux #63 seizures #64 Emily gaining too much weight #65 Drew gaining too little weight #66 their IQ #67 their future social skills #68 Drew's neck that leaned to the right #69 cat hair on the babies' stuff ("Are my babies getting a hair ball?") #70 painful gas...Drew, not me. #71 my mental health #72 potential neurological problems #73 dying before seeing my babies grow up #74 gas fumes in the car #75 Drew not doing the same things at the same time Emily did #76 spending too much time with one baby and not enough with the other #77 room being too hot, too cold, too windy, too dark, too light #78 taking their temperature "there" #79 going to the pediatrician too much and being that mom #80 flat heads #81 Drew's hoarse cry #82 not enough tummy time #83 too much swing time ("We're going to swing them stupid.") #84 safety of vaccines...is it bad I decided not to stagger?? #85 whooping cough...it's making a comeback, you know! #86 napping too much #87 napping too little #88 rashes...just heat? allergic to detergent? a reaction to the formula? #89 holding too much or too little #90 babies forgetting me when I go back to work #91 time passing too quickly #92 thumb sucking #93 temperature of bath water #94 thinking about if I will ever feel like my old self again #95 endocrine disruptors...yes, I spent a day reading about it. #96 falling down the stairs while carrying a baby #97 possibility of long-term subconscious damage to babies from hearing Marty and I yell at each other #98 neighborhood schools? private school? #99 the national debt my children will inherit #100 our financial future...two cars, two college funds #101 worrying too much
My how time flies when you are always on the go! Emily and Drew were 11 weeks old yesterday, and in the last 11 weeks, we have managed to squeeze in quite a few stops. This blog post is not only a chronicle of their adventures, it is also a tribute to my triumph over fear--fear of germs in public places infecting my babies. Grab your hand sanitizer, and hold on to your diaper bags and pacis as we take a tour of our recent stops.
#1 Doctor Appointments On our first day on home from the hospital, Emily and Drew had their first pediatrician appointment. Due to Emily's jaundice and my lactation consultant appointment, we had two more appointments in the first week. My dad, Papa Ray, helped me during those appointments so Marty could work. We then had well check appointment at 2 weeks, 1 month, and 2 months. Drew had a few more appointments as we worked to diagnose and treat his reflux. With insurance co-pays at $50 per visit, let's just say we could have taken a really nice vacation for what we have paid our loving pediatricians.
#2 Pottery Place For Marty's first Father's Day, I wanted to have the babies' foot prints made. We wanted until late in the afternoon to take them to a local pottery shop. I went in first to scope out the place to make sure it wasn't full of germy kids. Thankfully, the place was pretty empty, and we were able to get their tiny prints on a ceramic plate. That reminds me--I must get back there sometime to finish it. Still apprehensive about taking them out in public, we decided to get take-out from Outback on our way home that evening instead of actually going in the restaurant.
#3 Grandma and Papa's House My mom has a crib just for them, although I often find them in the bed with Grandma and Papa. Too young for the playhouse out back, they play on the floor or lay on someone's chest. Their first night away from us was with Grandma and Papa, and they also stayed there when we went away for a much-needed weekend away. Even though I knew they were in good hands, I called at least every 3 hours. Guess I was missing those every-three hour-feedings.
#4 Restaurants I do believe the first restaurant trip was to Andy's. Again, we went late in the afternoon, and we were the only people in the place. I made Marty keep their car seats covered with blankets, and we turned them to face the wall so if people came in, they wouldn't try to gawk at them or touch them. From there, we increasingly took them out more and more. Tonight we counted at least 12 different restaurants we have visited with the babies. So far, we haven't had to leave due to a fussy baby. They must love eating out as much as we do. Uh oh.
#5 The beach Well, almost. The week after July 4th, we went to my parent's camper at the beach. We never saw the beach, and I only left the camper once, and that was to buy more formula. We enjoyed the time with family, and the babies loved the car ride. They slept all the way there and all the way back.
#6 Roanoke Rapids Always up for a good car ride, the babies cooed at the chance to ride with Marty to take Grandma Vivian home. We have been lucky to have Marty's mom here Sunday-Tuesday to help. Driving her home is the least we can do. The babies slept all the way there, and after a quick feed and change, we headed back home.
#7 Wal-Mart and Target These trips were the hardest for me. I guess Emily and Drew were somewhere around 6-7 weeks when I finally gave in. Unable to find a bubble big enough to put them in, I instead rigged their double stroller to keep out as many air-borne germs and curious onlookers as possible. While people couldn't touch, it didn't stop them from stopping us to ask how many babies we had in there or if our boy/girl twins are identical.
#8 Great-Grandma Nettie's House Nobody spoils babies like a great-grandma! We spent the night with my grandma, and Emily and Drew loved being the center of attention. We ended the visit with a Sunday lunch at a local restaurant before packing up and heading to Babies R Us and then home.
#9 Downtown Festival Getting a bit bored with our social calendar consisting of doctor visits, restaurant, and big box store trips, we decided to pack up the kids and head to Raleigh Wide Open, a downtown street festival. Although it was July 31 in NC, it was surprisingly cool, probably because of the rain that fell off and on all day. Emily and Drew slept well thanks to the rumble of the stroller wheels over the pavement. Other parents of multiples must have had the same idea because we saw at least 5 sets of twins and 1 set of triplets. Guess we all needed the fresh air!
#10 My Office Now a pro at taking the babies out on my own, I ventured to my office in early August to show off the babies. It was a change to see adult faces, and it's always nice to get a break for a few minutes when people eagerly want to hold the babies. They didn't even mind when Emily and Drew did their customary spit-up on their nice, clean shirts.
#11 Mall We have visited 3 malls. We like to go just to walk around, especially at Triangle where they have an outdoor concert area. During one trip, we introduced them to Barnes and Noble and bought them each a book to commemorate their visit. Of course, no trip to the mall would be complete with a trip to Gymboree or Crazy 8. These kids have WAY more clothes than they will ever wear, but Mommy sure is having a good time!
A few years back, I read Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. I remember relating to the need to escape after a messy divorce and the search to find truth and fulfillment in the face of uncertainty. Of course, I couldn't relate to having my trip of a lifetime paid for with a nice book advance, but, overall, the book was a satisfying summer snack. This summer, women who don't have 11 week old twins to feed can slip off to the movies to see Julia Roberts eat, pray, and love her way to self-actualization.
At our house, we are engaged in eating, praying, and loving of a different sort.
It recently occurred to me how much of our life revolves around eating. A family member is taking a psychology course and is studying the different theories of human behavior, including Maslow's hierarchy. Seeing her notes reminded me how far down the pyramid we exist these days. Maslow says that, as humans, we must attend first to our most basic needs, such as eating, breathing, and sleeping. When these needs are met, we can then move up the hierarchy to other needs: safety, social, esteem, and finally, self-actualization. While having children has provided me priceless moments of self-actualization, it has also provided me with the profound responsibility of being the provider of all things essential for two brand-new human beings.
No one could have prepared us for how all-consuming feeding twins would be. We tried to be prepared. We took a breastfeeding class, bought the twin breastfeeding pillow, and arranged for a pump rental. I made Marty promise he would be my cheerleader when I was ready to quit. During those days in the hospital, I gave it my all. The lactation consultants were great, but unfortunately, they couldn't provide the one thing I needed: milk. I persevered, but the babies needed more. Mentally, I was breaking down...fast. I had two babies who each needed to eat at least every three hours. It was taking me at least an hour and a half to feed them both. Then I needed to pump. By the time I finished, it was time to do it all again. Everyone wanted to help, but no one could do what I needed them to do the most: feed. Finally, I succumbed to the call of formula, and from there, breastfeeding eventually gave way to exclusive formula feeding by 6-7 weeks. Certainly, convenience wasn't the only factor that ended my career as a breast-feeder. My own health issues made breast feeding not always the best choice. Ultimately, it is what it is. Yes, I feel guilty, but I also know that my babies are growing just fine, and they have benefited from a mom who is slightly less frazzled.
Make no mistake. Bottle feeding didn't make things easy-peasy. At 11 weeks, we are still feeding around every 3 hours during the day and averaging around 15 dirty bottles a day. Both are eating between 4-6 ounces at a time. At night we do our last feeding around 10. On a good night, they don't wake again until 5. Sometimes we still get the joy of a 3 am feed.
Andrew is now on Nutramigen, the ultra-pricey lactose-free formula, which has helped tremendously with his reflux. At $20 for a small can, it should also sing a lullaby to him at night. Emily is eating Premium Lipil or the AR, which is the "added rice" version. On the pediatrician's recommendation, both babies get a bit of rice cereal in each bottle to help with reflux. We are happy to be wooed by the big formula manufacturer who hooks us with free samples, coupons, and rebate checks. I will say it is a bit embarrassing to have Marty poor-mouth to the pediatrician in order to get more free samples, though. The last time we were there, he made it sound like we were on the verge of me selling my body to feed them! We may not have pride, but we have 4 more cans of Nutramigen.
At their two month well check, Drew weighed in at 12lbs, 2.5 oz, and Emily tipped the scales at 13lbs, 4 oz. While we have battled reflux and spit-up, both babies are gaining well, and Emily routinely gives her feedings an approving lip-smack.
Feeding twins is only part of our food story. Between feeding babies, we must also make time to feed ourselves. Unfortunately, we didn't have the best eating habits before the twins arrived. We have always eaten out too much and cooked too little. We spend too much money on food that is not good for us, while using eating out as our primary social activity. Despite having very little time, we can't ignore the truth any longer. Neither of us is getting any younger or lighter or wealthier. I still have almost 10 pounds of baby weight to lose, not to mention the 10-15 pounds I wanted to shed before I got pregnant. I also learned on Friday that I might have some gall bladder issues. I am a bit scared of my upcoming physical and the updated cholesterol numbers. Since Andrew and Emily were born, I have become so much more aware of the importance of good health. I need to feel better so I can take care of them, and quite selfishly, I want to live a really long time so I can watch them grow into the beautiful people I know they will become.
We are trying to make some changes to our own eating habits that will hopefully save us money and make us healthier. Last week, I ordered Body by Vi shakes and vitamins. My sister-in-law, Windy, sells them and highly recommends them both for weight loss and good health. Our plan is to try the shakes for breakfast, which has to be better than skipping breakfast, consuming too much coffee, or grabbing a fast food fix. I am currently guilty of all of the above. In addition to giving up fast food for a least one month, we signed up for E-mealz, a meal planning service recommended by Dave Ramsey. We printed our first week's plan and bought our groceries last night. We are hoping the plan will solve two of our biggest obstacles to cooking: what to buy and what to cook. Stayed tuned for updates on our progress.
So how about praying and loving twin-style? Well, having our twins is definitely an answer to many prayers. Now that they are here, I find myself praying for the wisdom and strength to raise these babies to be compassionate, responsible, happy, God-loving individuals. I pray for their health and protection, and I pray for a world, scary and fallen, that Emily and Drew face.
The loving part is easy. I loved them before they were ever conceived, and I love them more now than I ever believed possible. With twins, it's double everything except for love. My love is for them is infinite, and I didn't have to go Italy, India, or Indonesia to find it.
Free to ANY home: 3 cats who will systematically and methodically destroy your home; will deliver with full month's supply of prescription food, expensive litter, and a fancy water bowl. Will throw in hair on your sofa and hairballs on your floor for free. No returns allowed.
I hate Marty's cats. Yes, I know hate is a strong word, and what kind of person really hates cute, furry cats? ME.
As Marty so often reminds me, I knew the cats were part of the deal when I married him. True. But, at the time, I didn't have 2 babies to take care of or to worry about.
Yesterday, I was released on good behavior to go outside to do the trimming. After throwing the weed eater across the yard because it wouldn't start, I decided to come inside to cool off before going to the store to buy a trimmer I can actually start on my own.
Marty was in his office, attempting to vacuum a week's worth of cat litter and hair off the rug. I decided to take over because at least I knew I could operate the vacuum. I sent him to deal with the evil weed eater. Bad idea.
I should have left him in there to deal with the mess. Calling the room an "office" is a misnomer. It is a cat house--an expensive, oversized cat house. Maybe not even a house--more like a cat poop room because it holds their 3 litter boxes. A house would imply that they stay in there, but no, they sleep anywhere but in there--usually on my couch or my rug or my pillows. No, in their posh bathroom, they kick out litter all over what was once a nice rug. Yes, I have tried bigger litter boxes. If the things were any bigger they would need steps. Then there's the food bowl they knock over, sending little kibbles all over the place, most commonly under a desk or cabinet, making it twice as hard to use the vacuum attachment to clean it up. Oh, I almost forgot the dust. Even though we use the expensive litter that is supposed to attract them to the boxes (since one of them likes to pee in other places), it still isn't dustless. Add another chore to the list. Note to self--Add a dust mask to the TO BUY list.
You may be thinking that this is really Marty's problem. After all, he's the one who has to work in there. Well, yes and no. First, I am convinced he's going to catch some nasty cat-bourne disease. I need him healthy to feed and provide for babies. Furthermore, I do use the closet in that room for my work stuff as well as the desktop computer for printing. I shouldn't have to done a protective suit and mask to enter a room in my own home. And, their nastiness extends beyond their palatial bathroom that I resentfully work to pay for.
Outside of the office, they leave their calling cards everywhere. Hair on the furniture, on the floor, on the rugs, on my clothes, and now on the baby stuff... I should own stock in those sticky roller thingees and Swiffer cloths. Adding to the stress is the fact that I am mildly OCD, so now I obsessively try to hide and cover all things that the babies use that the cats might contaminate. I can't leave their playmat out or their bobby pillows unsupervised. These cats are drawn to the forbidden. Like a radar-driven missile, they will hone in on the one thing I don't want them to lay on.
Since someone reading this blog might be eating, I won't go into great detail about the hairballs that I have to clean up. Let's just say it adds another chore to my list, and it strikes fear in my heart as I think about my babies eventually crawling around on the floor.
While I was pregnant, I went to war against the cats, and I made some strides. I was in the middle of nesting, fueled by raging hormones, when I came downstairs to find that one of them had peed on my new recliner and my canvas bag. Yes, it was not lost on me that they chose MY things. Then, unprovoked, one of them bit my foot. Sure, my foot did look like a sausage, but that doesn't give a cat the right to chomp on it. I threatened to hire a housekeeper. I looked up the numbers for no-kill shelters. I bought a baby gate to keep them from going upstairs. I've been meaning to buy a gun-- a water gun-- to shoot them when I catch them on a counter. I've just been using the closest thing I can find to throw at them for now. Before you call Animal Protection, no cats have been hurt--yet.
Judge me if you will. But, first, walk a mile in my cat-hair covered shoes. I am trying to take care of two babies and all that entails while keeping the house sanitary enough for human habitation. I am also a new mom, wary of any toxin that might harm my children. I am weak from the cat fight, yet I keep going, because like a lioness protecting her cubs, I must protect my babies.
As an added insult and challenge, I will put on my cat-hair covered black dress pants and return to work in a week. I work so we can afford to keep the cats in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. I will drive away from the hair balls, worrying not only if my children will forget me while I am gone, but also if they will accidentally ingest some cat by-product or be eaten by some over-zealous cat. And when I get home from a long day's work, after loving on my babies, I will begin cleaning again.
That is, unless someone wants to take me up on the "free to any home" offer...
Once upon another lifetime ago, I was a great sleeper. I could get my straight 8 or 10 and then turn around and take a nap that afternoon. Some may call it laziness; I call it talent. I regularly listed napping as a hobby. Since Andrew and Emily arrived 10 weeks ago today, I have become a sleep dropout.
While in the hospital, I reluctantly sent the babies to the nursery for just a couple of hours a night so I could get a little sleep. I remember feeling so guilty. Everyone told me to take advantage of the sleep because I would wish I had it once I got home. Unfortunately, there is no way to bank sleep, and even if you could, our account would have been depleted the first night home.
As we put Em and Drew in the co-sleeper that first night, we naively climbed into bed thinking we may get 30 minutes or so of sleep at a time. Then the crying started. I can't even remember who started first. Maybe they were hungry. Still trying to breastfeed without a milk supply, I hooked up the complicated SNS system and fed. And fed. And fed. Marty even tried to help by syringe feeding. The crying continued. Maybe they were hot, or cold, or wet. We swaddled, unswaddled, and changed diapers all through the night. We put them in bouncy seats in the co-sleeper because we thought they may not like the co-sleeper. We took them out of the bouncy seats because I worried about them being able to breathe. We dug through the nursery to find pacifers that we thought we would never use. We would get one of them quiet and the other would start. All. night. long. Finally, at 7:00 am, we gave up the charade of "sleeping" and eagerly began getting ready for our first pediatrician appointment. Surely, they would have an answer.
We learned at the appointment that the most likely culprit for the night of endless screaming was hunger. Our babies needed and wanted more than the meager amount we were instructed to use in SNS system. I still didn't have milk, which is sort of important if you want to breastfeed twins. I began to think milk coming in was some sort of myth. I took the formula and sent family to buy more bottles. By the second night home, with the help of bottles and family, we did get a couple of hours of sleep.
We joked before the twins were born that if they took after me, they would have no problem sleeping. As I look back over the last 10 weeks, I have to say they have slept relatively well. We don't have those super sleepers who slept through the night the first month. We have, however, made progress. In the beginning, they were up every hour and a half to eat. Until about 6 weeks, we were doing two middle of the night feedings. Now, we give baths, put on jammies, get a bedtime bottle and are down by 10, and they aren't getting up until 3, 4, and sometimes even 5. We abandoned the co-sleeper and haven't been able to transition to the cribs yet. For now, we are still using the best baby item ever-- the Fisher Price rocker bassinet. I will be so sad when they finally outgrow those things! We each take a baby for the night, and whenever my baby wakes, I get up for the feeding. This system has been a lifesaver, as we both are able to get back to sleep faster than when I was trying to do it all.
Our days have also become more regular, too. After an early morning bottle, they usually go back to sleep until 9. From there, we have play time then another nap. We eat again. We play again. We sleep again. Most daytime naps are in the swings, but occasionally, they will let me put them both down together for a "twin time" napping.
As for mommy and daddy, we are getting by on less. Surprisingly, though, I don't miss the sleep like I thought I would. Despite the well-meaning advice, I don't nap when the babies nap. When the babies nap, I wash bottles, baby clothes, or mommy. I get the best sleep on the weekends when Marty keeps the babies downstairs, and I go to bed around 9:00. He gets the bedtime feedings and sometimes the overnight ones. Family has also been a big help. Marty's sister and mom come down almost every week, and they help with feedings, cleaning, and cooking, which has allowed me to get rest. My parents even kept the twins for the weekend so we could have a romantic get-away to the beach. Napping is the new romantic.
All in all, I feel like I am running on mommy adrenaline. Yes, I am tired. Yes, I need rest. Yes, I complain. And, yes, I love it.
Yes, I realize that I am not being the timely blogger that I had hoped to be. Who has time to blog when you have doctor visits to keep you busy? Together, the babies and I have racked up seven doctor visits in the past week. After one of the scariest weeks of my life, I think I can finally breathe and blog.
Our drama started over a month ago when I took Drew to the pediatrician for suspected reflux. Inconsolable crying for no apparent reason, painful face when taking his bottle, avoiding the bottle, kicking and stiffening his legs...I had one unhappy baby. Reluctantly, we started Zantac, and for a while, my baby was a bit better. He still cried--a lot. Then, last Monday, things seemed to take a turn for the worse. I'll spare the details of his vomiting. Let's just say mommy was a mess--physically and emotionally. So back to the pediatrician we go. This time we get Prilosec and hear the dreaded "c" word--colic.
While we wait for the magic 3-4 month mark when the colic supposedly disappears, we try to get him to take the Prilosec to no avail. He vacillates between a sweet, playful baby and a screaming, miserable baby. Mommy tetters on the edge of sanity. I feel inadequate as I attempt to console him and feel guilty as I once again put him in the swing to silence him.
On Thursday, after an unusually good tummy time session, Drew begins to scream violently and reacts in a way that looked way too much like what a seizure might look like in a baby. With my tummy in knots, I call the pediatrician who believes I witnessed a reaction to the acid reflux since he really hadn't had a full dose of medicine all week. We get a third change in medicine- this time to Previcid. Nervously, I watch my baby, fearing every twitch and stare. I call in reinforcements because, by this point, I am a wreck. Thank goodness for family.
Friday brings three more "episodes." Finally, someone other than me sees one of them. And, we're off to an emergency ped visit. The doctor is patient and thorough, and while she doubts Drew is having seizures, she believes it warrants a neurological evaulation. It was going to be a long weekend...
At this point, I am doubting my gut instincts. Maybe my mommy intuition is all off. After all, I am a classic worry wart who spent her entire pregnancy suffering from one imagined medical crisis after another. Sick to my stomach with worry, I ask everyone around me to be my personal Tums--watch my baby and tell me if you see anything weird. Surrounding myself with support soothes me through the weekend.
We also do our best to sooth Drew. We change his formula to a lactose-free version. We continue the Previcid. We use our newly-acquired baby massage skills. We shoosh and sway and swing. Maybe the best thing we did was give him a triple dose of Grandma loving. In one weekend, he was loved on by both grandmas and his Great-Grandma Nettie. Oh, how I love how thet make him smile!
Monday brought two more doctor visits. We started the day with 2 month well checks. Both babies are gaining well. Emily got her shots while we waited on Drew's. With one cranky, mildly feverish baby at home, I set off alone with Drew to the neurologist.
After an exam, the neurologist explained the difficulty in diagnosing infant seizures. Tummy troubles can mimic seizures, and without an EEG, he couldn't rule out my fears. Before sending us over to the lab, he gave me a sample of probiotics to try since, according to him, most babies are lacking the good bacteria they need, and thus can end up with painful tummies.
While Drew slept through most of the EEG, Mommy cried. While I rocked him and prayed, I wished someone was there to hold me. I felt helpless and alone as I waited for the all the wires and tape to come off. I felt crushed by the weight of my love for him, the force of fear of sickness, the magnitude of responsibility for two babies, and the burden of guilt for not being at home with Emily.
Tuesday brought good news. Drew's EEG was clear. We are to continue the probiotics and follow up in two weeks.
Right now, I am celebrating by holding two happy, sleeping babies in my arms, while typing with one hand. I am going to wrap up thus entry, though, so I can enjoy a few minutes of quiet time with them before they wake and want their tummies filled--again.
I love Emily. Of course, I mean Emily Anne first, but I also love Emily, as in Dickinson, the poet. Most know Emily Dickinson for her slant rhyme poetry or for her eccentric reclusiveness. What is less known is the fact that Emily was a prolific letter writer. She wrote hundreds and hundreds of letters to family and friends, letters that not only sustained relationships during her years of seclusion but letters that also revealed much about Emily’s life and thoughts.
Like Emily, I love letters. How special it is to go to the mailbox and have a personal letter, written just for you. How special it is to be able to go back to the words written by a loved one long after the memory of a fleeting conversation has faded.
When Marty and I were discussing whether or not we should write our own wedding vows, I suggested that we write letters instead, letters we could privately exchange on our wedding day. As I sat on the balcony all alone the night before our wedding writing my letter to Marty, I realized that putting words to why I love him was harder than I expected. Cliches just wouldn’t do. By the time I finished, I also realized that writing my letter had clarified my thinking, taken me back through precious memories, and made me fall in love all over again. So now, in the daily hustle of life, when we are frustrated and exhausted, if we can find a minute, we can go back to those letters for a gentle reminder of our love for each other.
In the epistolary tradition, I commemorated Emily and Drew’s first six weeks with personal letters to each of them. As I read back through the letters, I realized the letters speak to each child’s unique self while introducing the beginning of a love story. Quite unexpectedly, though, I found they also reveal much about me, the writer—a proud, super-emotional new mom.
So now you know what's with the letters :-) Maybe I have inspired you to consider a little letter writing. I know we're all busy. Shoot, I typed most of Emily and Drew's letters with one hand while holding one of them in the other! But I am glad I did it because I bet I won't have anymore time in the weeks and months to come. So I leave you with a few questions to get you thinking...Have you written a letter lately? Do you have someone in your life that would love to have a special note written just for him/her? Do you have a moment in time that you want to capture? Maybe start with a short note? Regardless of the length or subject matter, I bet that both you and the lucky recipient will find a bit of joy in it.