7/21/16

Three month baby update!

Even though I quickly join in with all the parents around the world begging their babies to stay little just a little longer, I think babies actually grow at exactly the right pace. The good parts go by fast enough to make us wistful while the trying parts go by slow enough to make us want to fast forward though a bit of time. It all balances out. Right now I'm at the wistful part, enjoying my babies so much and wishing for them to stay as they are for just a little while longer!

The first 8 weeks with my twins were wonderful and exhausting and magical and hard. I drank those babies in deeply and fulfilled my vow not to wish time away. That said, I was looking forward to getting to the three month mark where countless mothers of twins had told me it gets easier. Now that I'm here, I can say with all happiness: they were right!

There was something so special about the newborn weeks and I cherished them fully for what they were, but now? It's even better. After week 8 I felt that life was getting just a little easier: the twins were sleeping better and starting to let me put them down without crying for just a few moments at a time. I was figuring out how to get out the door with them and Arie. I was feeling more capable. At week 10 I noticed it got a little easier again, mainly because we made a major turn in our breastfeeding journey (more below). Last week when we hit week 12 I felt like we had found our rhythm. I am still wiped at the end of the day but we are starting to fall into a routine and there is so much happiness filling our days! The twins are smiling and cooing and even starting to laugh a little! I, in turn, am filled with happiness at the sight of my smiley boys and the sound of their tiny voices. How I love this age!

Ira

Ira is still my little peanut! At his three month check up he was 22 inches long and weighted 11lbs 8.5oz. His weight puts him in the 5th percentile for his actual age and the 45th percentile for adjusted age. He is still wearing 0-3 month clothes. I am going to have to make sure I buy Ira a few new things as he grows because I have a feeling he is going to be the third wearer (after Arie and Roman) of many hand-me-down outfits! Good thing his brothers have a good sense of style!

Ira loves to smile and "talk." He has all kind of expression to his voice and easily smiles and laughs. He has a pretty chill temperament unless he is upset in which case he cries like his world is coming to an end. He arches his back, gets red faced, and screams high and loud enough to burst your ear drum! Thankfully he is easily soothed by his mama. He loves to be held, to watch the ceiling fan, and- for some reason- to be on the diaper changing pad. He is all smiles on that thing!

Roman

Roman continues to be my big boy! He is now over 2lbs bigger than his older brother Ira! At his three month check up he was 23.5 inches long and weighed 13lbs 13oz. His weight puts him in the 31st percentile for actual age he is and pushing the 80th percentile for adjusted age! He is moving into 3-6 months age clothes which is fun because I get to put him in new things but a bummer because I can't put the boys in their matching or coordinating summer outfits very often anymore! I had to do some shopping (poor me) for Roman because most of the clothes I had for him in the next size were in fall/cooler weather styles. It was fun to get new clothes for him though because summer clothes are now on clearance, so perfect timing for a growth spurt, Roman!

Roman has an adorable soft coo and smile. He is doing this thing right now where I will ask him to smile and tell him I love him and he will smile shyly and try to hide his face. You can imagine I melt into a puddle when he does that! Roman is obsessed with his big brother Arie and is often cranking his head around to try and find him. He continues to be a very cuddly baby, burying his face into our necks when we hold him close. Roman is one to make his feelings known, protesting quickly and loudly when he is unhappy. He already knows how to let out a little yelp when we are near but not paying attention to him. Arie thinks this is hilarious, "Mom! He wants me to pay attention to him! I didn't even know babies knew how to yell like that!" Where Ira's smiles and coos are reactive to attention, Roman smiles and coos to get attention. I have a feeling Roman is going to have the gift of "woo" like his dad!

Life with infants continues to mostly revolve around eating, sleeping, and changing diapers so here are my updates in those categories:

Feeding

As I mentioned above, the biggest- and most helpful- change we've experienced has been with breastfeeding. After 10 weeks of working through our many difficulties- low supply, poor transfer, poor latches, lip and tongue tie revisions, triple feeding (breast, pump, bottle) every three hours, weaning from a nipple shield, weaning from bottles, and many a phone call and visit to the lactation consultant's office- we have finally, FINALLY, overcome our struggles and breastfeeding is going great. What a journey! I'm so glad my friends told me how hard breastfeeding can be at the start so I knew not to give up too soon. I told myself when I was pregnant I would give it two months to overcome any issues; I ended up needing 10 weeks but we did it! The twins are now breastfed right from the source and I only pump twice at night so John can help me with the nighttime feeds. At their three month check-up the boys had not only maintained their percentiles but moved up!

I cannot tell you how thankful I am for this victory. It is such a grace from God that I am able to nurse my boys. It was such a deep desire of my heart and I had no idea if I would be able to do it. It was the day before Ira and Roman turned 10 weeks old that I finally felt they were nursing well enough to stop supplementing with a  bottle. I called the lactation consultants, explaining how things were going, and got the green light to try drop their supplements. The first day I went without pumping I felt like a while different mother: so much happier, easier, and free from being hooked up to the pump! My babies cried much less also because I was able to hold them after feeding them instead of having to put them down and listen to their wails while I pumped. While they weren't crying, I could have from the sheer relief! I felt like I had won a very hard fought battle.

That first week I did worry that they weren't getting enough to eat but at the end of the week I weighed them and they had both gained more than what my lactation consultant had told me was the minimum.

The moment I truly felt victorious came later that week when John and I took all three boys for a walk through a local nature preserve. It was a cooler morning but the sun was shining and we were enjoying being outside. Arie was running and jumping, picking up sticks and pointing out bugs. John and I were wearing the babies in our carriers. We came upon a sort of playground made from stumps and an old row boat that had been parked and secured for little pretend pirates. While Arie played, Roman began to cry and root around. Behind the playground was a small stream with a  bench. I told John I was going to take him over to nurse him.

I did just that.

Arie ran over while I fed Roman and asked if he could take off his shoes and play in the stream. I watched him splashing around, looked down at my baby happily filling his belly, and over beside me at my husband wearing my third son and was overwhelmed with gratitude. Before I would have been stressed at the thought of my baby getting hungry while we were out, feeding a bottle, trying to pump in the car to replace the milk he ate during that feed, getting home to empty the diaper bag and wash out bottles... and now: this was it. My baby was hungry, I fed him, comforted him, and that was it! Life is much easier this way and I am so grateful. I'm enjoying my babies so much more!
I asked John to snap a picture, knowing this would be a moment I will remember and cherish forever! 


Sleeping

Sleep has been all over the map this month, with the boys waking up anywhere from none to three times per night. At time of writing Ira has slept through the whole night (9:30-6am) four times and Roman has done it three times. The last week or so they have either slept through the night or only gotten up once.  John and I feel fantastic when they sleep for at least 6 hours in a row! We know the four month sleep regression stage is about a month away so we enjoy the sleep while we can without holding on to it too tightly.

I am thankful that we've only had one night in their whole lives where a baby (Ira, that stinker) would not go back to sleep after getting up. Usually they wake up, eat and have a diaper change, and go right back down. I am one who needs a lot of sleep so I feel very thankful that I have two good sleepers! Arie was also a great sleeper from the first day he was home with us. I have a sense that this is a grace from God, giving me what he knows I need as a parent. And for the nights when the babies are up a lot and I am exhausted, there is grace there too: always a gentle voice telling me I can do this and that he wakeful stage won't last forever!

Diapering

I wrote a whole post on cloth diapering newborns which you can check out here. Not much else to add! I am still using thirsties covers with prefolds on Ira while Roman has mostly moved into my one-size stash which is about 80% bum genius pocket diapers. Everything is going well and I have no complaints!

Other Milestones

This month Ira and Roman have begun to notice each other! They made eye contact one day when John was playing with them, holding Roman above Ira who sat in a bouncy chair. We were all in the kitchen as I was preparing dinner when John called out, "Jill! They are looking at each other!!" Arie and I ran to see and I grabbed the milestone card to snap a photo. It was such a fun moment!


*

Last night John and I got the twins changed into their pajamas, swaddled up, and cozily set up in their cribs. While I did the last rounds of turning on the white noise machine and putting Roman's pacifier back in his mouth six times, John checked on sleeping Arie, pulling up his covers and kissing his sleeping face. We met in the dark hallway, tiptoeing out of our respective rooms and wrapping each other in a warm embrace. All our boys in bed, two exhausted parents, hearts filled to the brim with love and gratitude for our family. We feel immeasurably blessed for these three little lives we have been given to nurture and guide.


xo

7/11/16

My picks for cloth diapering newborn twins

When I was pregnant I must have read half the internet trying to decide if I wanted to buy cloth diapers for newborns. I kept reading that my one-size stash would not fit until at least 8lbs and since I was having twins I was pretty sure it would take us couple months to reach that size.

Indeed our babies were born at 5lbs4oz and 6lbs even. The one-size diapers I have just now fit my bigger baby Roman well at 12lbs and I still have my smaller baby Ira (10lbs) in some of the diapers I bought for my newborn stash. My babies are a week away from turning three months old and we've been in cloth since around 6 weeks (though we still use disposables at night). Here's what I bought and how I like them:

The Winner!

Thirsties size one covers: These made up the majority of my newborn stash and I'm glad they did because they are my absolute favorite! I use them with Green Mountain Diaper prefolds and a snappi.
Pros: Fit great I'd say starting around 7lbs and they have a snap down rise, so although they are not one-size diapers, they do grow with baby and will last a good long while (their site says to 18lbs or around 9 months). I love these so much that even though Roman fits my one-size diapers now, I still put him in these. I will use them on both babies as long as they fit! The leg gussets are awesome; while I have had a number of blow outs in disposables, I have never had a leak with these even through some epic "how does such a little person create so much- uh- "waste"?!" poops.
Cons: The only con I can think of is that it takes a little time and skill to change a prefold and cover. But as my dear, sensitive brother likes to say when it comes to doing "hard" things: people dumber than you have figured it out. ;-) Yes it takes a few tries to get the hang of it, but don't be intimidated! You can do it.

Runners Up

Bum Genius XS all-in-ones: These diapers were great for tiny babes. I admit we did not get a ton of use out of them because we used disposables longer than I thought we would (while we figured out this whole parenting twins thing!), but when we did use them I liked them.
Pros: They are super easy to use. They fit small babies perfectly.
Cons: A lot of people say the absorbency on these isn't that great; we did not have that problem because we were changing diapers so often (hello newborns pooping every 45 minutes!) however that leads me to my biggest con which is price. To use these full time would be too expensive since you have to change so frequently when they are little enough to fit in them! I liked these diapers to pack in the diaper bag for easy on-the-go changes.

Bummis covers in newborn size: Great covers but very small.
Pros: Great quality cover, easy to use, leg gussets keep the newborn poop in the diaper.
Cons: Very small diaper! I think these are the smallest diaper covers you can buy. We started cloth when our guys were about 7lbs and they were almost too small by then. The company says they fit to 9lbs; I'd say it's more like 8. I would probable use these earlier with a singleton, but with the busy-ness of twins in hindsight instead of these I would just get more of the Thirsties size 1 covers.

Would not repurchase:

Econobum diaper covers in  XS. I didn't love these covers.
Pros: great price if you are committed to cloth diapering from the very start. They do the job most of the time.
Cons: No leg gussets = leaks. They say these fit to 12lbs but I have a hard time believing that. Ira is only 10lbs and he doesn't fit these anymore.

AppleCheeks size one pocket diapers: I wanted to love these diapers because they are made in my home and native land (Oh Canada!) but they always leak. Not even out the sides either but right through the water resistant PUL!
Pros: Super cute looking. Pretty Trim. Good for babies with skinny legs since there are two layers of snaps, you can get a very custom fit.
Cons: For me, these leak which defeats the whole purpose of a diaper. The best I could do with these was to put my most absorbent hemp prefold in the pocket and that gives me 90 minutes, max before a change. If you love these diapers give me some advice: what am I doing wrong?

In summary, here's what I would do if I could do it all over again: I would make my whole newborn stash Thirsties size one diapers with Green Mountain Diaper prefolds and a snappi. For the short time before they fit in these diapers I would use disposables.

What about you? Did you use cloth on your newborn(s)? What worked? What didn't? Share in the comments here or join in the convo on Facebook!

xo

7/2/16

Ira and Roman are baptized!

Last Sunday I ran into church with Arie, my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and niece. Two of us were carrying carseats with babies in them, though I can't remember who! We were running because it was raining. Pouring rain. A true shower for those caught without umbrellas! A wet precursor for the morning's event: Ira and Roman's baptism. 
At church, drying off and dressing the boys in their baptism outfits!
Omi and Grampi with their grandchildren! 
From a barren woman to mother of three! I am blessed. 
When I was a girl the pastor at my church would invite all the children forward when a baby was being baptized. We sat tight together around the baptismal font, straining to get a better view of the baby about to be marked by the waters. The pastor would ask us what kinds of things we used water for and we would list them: drinking, swimming, watering plants... and bathing. He'd stick on that bathing metaphor and explain how we baptize our babies as a sign of what God has done for us in Christ: he cleanses us from our sin. 
Pastor Mary inviting Arie to touch the waters and remember his own baptism. 

I never really understood why we would baptize a baby or talk about their forgiveness when they were too young to claim their faith for their own. Why not wait until adulthood? It wasn't until I myself became an adult that I understood the piece I had been missing: the part about community. 

We weren't baptizing babies into a personal relationship with Jesus (they would each have the opportunity to claim their faith for their own as they grew). Instead, we were baptizing them into a community of people: a community of people who knew this cleansing forgiveness for themselves and who were determined to share this precious joy with every child entrusted in their care. 

Like circumcision in the Old Testament, baptism marks the children of believers as members of God's community. It says to them: you belong here, now let us teach you what it means to belong. 

On April 19 I pushed Ira and Roman from my body and we rejoiced as we added two boys to the Burden family. On June 26 John and I carried these boys forward to be marked by the waters of baptism and welcomed into the body of Christ. 
Ira William Burden
I baptize you in the name of the Father,
and of Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen. 
Roman Irving Burden
I baptize you in the name of the Father,
and of Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen. 
As Roman and Ira were marked with the waters of baptism they were welcomed into a community and surrounded by promises.  Together with our family, friends, and church community we promised Ira and Roman that we will instruct them about our faith by word and deed, pray for them, teach them to pray, and nurture them in their faith. I love this about baptism: that it is God's welcome to a welcome into beautiful, broad community of believers. In the context of that community our boys will learn, love, stumble, fall, repent, forgive, mature, grow, be blessed and learn how to be a blessing to others. 
Praying over our family. 
Our boys will have the opportunity to make their faith their own as they grow. Baptism is not us deciding their faith for them: it is simply us saying to them, "You belong here. You are not alone. You are dearly loved. We will show you Jesus." 

As we did for Arie, John and I chose a life verse for Ira and Roman. 
For Ira we chose Psalm 126:5: 

"Those who sow with tearswill reap with songs of joy.Those who go out weeping,carrying seed to sow,will return with songs of joy,carrying sheaves with them." 

This is a verse that meant so much to us as we endured our years of infertility and kept trying and trying "sowing with tears." We now raise these boys with songs of joy, yet this is only a small picture of the eternal joy we know we have waiting for us! It is our hope and prayer that through the trials he endures in his life, Ira will continue to carry seed to sow with his hope set of the promise before him: eternal life with our Heavenly Father. 

For Roman we chose John 7:37-38
"Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.'"

This is what we hope for Roman: that he will be so filled with the peace and joy of Christ that rivers of living water will flow from him. We pray he will imitate Christ and be a source of life for all those around him, attracting others not only to himself but to the presence of God that he himself enjoys. 

After the baptism was over there was cake and coffee. At least, I'm told there was. John and I didn't even get the chance to see the cakes before they were entirely eaten but it was for every good reason as we were showered with warm words and held in tight embraces by the many, many believers who held us and our boys in prayer before they became our own. 

When I left church that morning the rain had stopped, the clouds has blown away and the sun shone on my face. I reflected warmly on the happiness I felt to see our babies cuddled and held with such affection and love. In their baptism we celebrate that they will be held like this every day of their lives by God our Father and by his people. 

xo 

6/17/16

Two month postpartum and baby update!


For three nights this week the twins have slept for five incredible, miraculous, restful, reenergizing hours IN A ROW!

Hallelujah! The foggy cloud of sleep deprivation is beginning to lift from my mind. I thought I would grab hold of this mental clarity while I can and write a two month update on my beautiful little sleep-stealing babes. 

Ira and Roman are nearly two months old and they are thriving! They have brought such deep, soft, heart-in-your-throat and tears-pricking-at-your-eyes love into our home. You know that English phrase "gob-smacked?" That's how I feel about them. Gob-smacked. 

I'm a twin-mom, you guys. I have twins! I have three boys. We're a family of five. 

Just absolutely love this. 

Ira

Ira is the older twin by 11 minutes but the smaller one now by nearly two pounds! He was weighed yesterday at a lactation appointment and he's 9lbs 7oz (birth weight: 5lbs 4oz). While he's certainly grown over the last two months, leaving his tiny preemie body far behind us, I still think of him as my little button. In the mornings when I get him from his crib he still seems so small to me: my precious little peanut. 

His personality is precious too. He is a tender-hearted little guy and reminds me in many ways of his big brother Arie. When he's content, he studies the world in a very intense way. I see a lot of depth in his dark blue eyes. A friend bought our boys a shirt that reads, "Future memoirist" and Ira is the one I would put pick for it. He seems like a old soul already, just weeks into world. 

Ira also has a very tender cry. Well, mostly. He can also scream in an ear damaging pitch. But when he's not making us wince with that pitchy cry, he's mewing out a small and mournful whimper. It makes me want to move heaven and earth to comfort him! Mostly he is easily comforted with snuggles from his mama and he loves to have his cheeks kissed. When I hold him in the burping position he will thirst his face to get close to mine for those kisses! It makes me so happy. How I love that little guy! 

Roman

Roman is the younger but bigger twin! Once in the early days I was telling my parents how I felt protective over Ira because he was so little and fragile, I had a tendency to hand Roman over to visitors because he was much sturdier. "Roman's practically ready to strike out on his own!" my dad joked. Roman does seem huge especially these days, weighing in at an impressive 11lbs 1oz! While Ira is more fine featured, Roman is what I would call a strapping young lad. 

Okay I don't really call him that but he is impressive. His hands almost seem like toddler-sized hands to me already! I bet he is going to be a tall, strong, handsome man someday. I think he will be the son I call to move furniture around and open really tough pickle jars. 

Roman is also a cuddle bug. When he was just four weeks old he was already burying his sweet face into the crooks of our necks for snuggles. He loves to be held and is just now allowing us to put him down for short periods of time without immediately breaking down into loud, angry protests. When I'm holding him he is also vocal, sighing in happy content. Both boys are smiling but Roman, more-so. He seems like a very emotional baby on both ends of the spectrum! 

My favorite thing about Roman is his brow. He has a very strong and expressive brow. My first memory of him was seeing him emerge from my body with his brow all furrowed to his newborn cries. In the NICU the nurses would always laugh when he furrowed his brow in protest to such incidents as diaper changes or checks with a stethoscope. He reminds me of John in that I can always tell what's on his mind by what's on his face! 

Postpartum Life

Life with newborns mostly revolves around feeding, diapering, and sleeping. 

Feeding

What a journey we have been on! In my last post I shared that Roman and Ira were learning to nurse more effectively so we could wean them off bottles and get them eating at the breast. This was a  result of their being born premature and needing to develop the strength to effectively remove milk from me. 

Well, at around their fourth week of life I was getting concerned that they were not making any progress. No matter how much I nursed them, they still took their entire bottle afterward. I was also getting tired from nursing, pumping, and bottle feeding every three hours. Exhausting! Someone suggested to me that they might have lip and/or tongue ties. 

I visited an online support page for parents of babies with lip and tongue ties and read the list of baby symptoms. I felt like I was reading a description of my sons! Especially Ira. He had all of the symptoms and Roman, nearly all. I immediately called up a lactation consultant at our hospital and she confirmed my suspicions. That was on the Saturday of a long weekend. It felt like for.ever. until Tuesday rolled around and I was able to call a pediatric dentist near us who performs revisions with a laser which, after researching, was how I wanted the ties to be revised.

That Thursday we took the boys in to have their ties revised. The procedure went great. The first four days of recover was rough with the boys having a lot of discomfort and not wanting to nurse at all. They took mostly only bottles for the first week or so and I was so discouraged. I wondered if we had made the wrong choice by having their ties revised. 

Then around day 10 things started to turn around! Both boys latched without a nipple shield which they had been using since birth! They stayed latched and nursed for a good long time. The next day things improved more and I could hear them swallowing! Ira began taking less and less from the bottle I offered after each session and twice he refused it all together! I was so excited. 

At two weeks post-revision I took them in to our lactation consultants' office for a weighted feed to see how much milk they were getting when I nursed them. I had done this prior to the revisions and they were both taking in about an ounce which was half of their minimum required amount for growth. 

This time they both took over two ounces! For Ira, that is a full feed if I nurse 10 times per day. I usually do 8 times so he can still take a little from a bottle if he wants after (1/2-1 ounce) but he does still sometimes refuse it. He is so close to just needing to breastfeed! 

For Roman that is about an ounce less than his full feed. He is a lazy eater and requires encouragement to keep going so I am hopeful that as he grows older he will become more efficient and also take full feedings at the breast. 

I truly hate pumping so very much but I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel where I don't have to pump after every feed anymore! At night I still prefer to pump and give bottles so John can help me with the babies, but during the day I would love to just put the babies to the breast and be done with it. 

I also love nursing my boys and the feelings of affection that I have for them when they are feeding. It truly is an amazing bonding experience! It has been a very tough road to get here and we are not done the hard part yet but I am feeling optimistic that things are about to get a whole lot easier when it comes to breastfeeding. 

Getting my supply up to feed twins has also been a journey though not quite such a difficult one. In the hospital they received mostly donor milk and slowly got more and more of my milk as it came in and I pumped for them. The first two weeks at home I was also to provide about 80% of what they needed and then I supplemented with formula. After those two weeks I received an amazing offer from a friend from church to donate her breastmilk to our babies so I could get them off formula! I was so moved by her generosity. Since then the boys have been fed exclusively with breastmilk. They get about 3oz each per day of donated milk and I am keeping up with them for the rest. It feels awesome to give them this gift especially since they were born early; breastmilk is the perfect nutrition for all babies and especially preemies who are more vulnerable. I have no qualms about using formula if I need to of course but being able to give them breastmilk right now makes me very happy! 

Diapering

It took me until about 5-6 weeks of age to start using cloth diapers. I had hoped I would have started a couple weeks earlier than that but adjusting to life with newborn twins was exhausting and the convenience of disposable diapers was very much needed! I'm now cloth diapering during the day when we are at home with the boys and it is going great! I had a few different types of newborn/infant cloth diapers but my favorite has been prefolds and covers. They stay dry the longest and wash the easiest. I am even thinking about getting a few bigger prefolds and covers for when they grow out of the little ones because I love them so much! 

I'll do a review of the newborn diapers I used/am using in the not too distant future. 

Sleeping

Like I said at the opening of this post, the boys are starting to give us a 5 hour stretch of sleep at night! It feels awesome. When they were first home they woke up 3-4 times each night to eat which put us in zombie mode. Thankfully it wasn't too long until they transitioned to 2-3 wake ups and again soon after that they were getting up twice each night. With this 5 hour stretch they go to bed around 9-10pm, wake up around 2-3am and then around 6am. They will actually go back to sleep after the 6am feeding until about 8am. Sometimes John and I get up after the 6am feeding and sometimes we go back to bed for another hour or so. Despite waking up in the night, we are doing pretty good! Neither of us can nap during the day because John of course works and I have two babies who don't yet nap for a significant amount of time or at the same time (someday!). But truly we are doing pretty good dealing with the fatigue. We know it is only temporary and what better reason to be tired then the two precious gifts in our arms? 

That's the update for now! Thanks for all your support and encouraging words you leave me on social media. It is great fun to share our boys' growth and milestones with you! 
xo
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