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