Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sleeping like a baby

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.

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