Life as a Preemie

On Monday, May 6, I was feeling pretty shitty. I had elephantits of the ankles (2 weeks after my shower, where everyone had exclaimed, "Wow! You're not swollen at all!"), I was the size of a house and finding it hard to maneuver around, and I wasn't sleeping because no matter which way I turned and no matter which pillow I hunted down and bought to sleep with I was inevitably laying on a kid. I called out of work and called my (unbelievably patient) OBGYN to schedule an appointment. I was supposed to work for 2 more weeks, so I figured she could just give me something to get me through. I was just 31 weeks pregnant.

Hershey and me at my baby shower, 2 weeks before I delivered Jane and Emma.

My cankles.

My enormous, misshapen belly.
The next day, the good doctor informed me that there was nothing to be done and that I was "just going to be uncomfortable". She also told me that she was putting me on bed rest effective immediately. Luckily, my maternity leave sub was in place and I was able to return to school on Wednesday, pick up a few belongings, say goodbye to my students, and go home to put my feet up and begin to enjoy the rest of my pregnancy. 

Thursday morning I woke up feeling uncomfortable. I had slept about 2 hours because Emma was busy moving back and forth across my ribs all night, and I just didn't feel right. I can't explain it other than that. I had a cramp in my side that felt like I had just sprinted a mile, and I couldn't shake it. I called my doc (again!) and she asked me to meet her at the ER, just in case. My husband was at work, so I called my mom and dad to come get me. I took a quick shower (I know, you're probably thinking that I'm crazy, but I have this fear of arriving at the hospital in dirty underwear), and by 11:15 I was waiting on the front doorstep of our apartment, in the rain (of course). 

By the time I got into the car, I had worked myself all into a tizzy. The babies were too small. They couldn't come this early. They weren't done cooking yet! I cried the whole way to the hospital, as the realization set in that I was IN LABOR. 

When Hershey got to the hospital, my contractions were 5 minutes apart. The nurses tried to get an IV in my hand, but just as they stuck the needle in I had a huge contraction and my vein exploded. The anesthesiologist came in and was able to get my IV going, and our awesome neonatologist met with us to let us know that no matter what happened, they were ready for us.

First round in the hospital.

High on morphine with my swollen IV hand.

Hooked up to contraptions.
My OB started me on a magnesium drip, and got me some pain meds. I spent the next 4 days not sleeping, tossing and turning as 3 belts around my (ginormous) belly measured my contractions and Jane and Emma's heartbeats. After a harrowing 4 days, on Sunday, the doctors determined that I had pre-preeclampsia, and that the contractions had been reduced to no more than "disturbances", and at 1:00 that afternoon I was discharged. 

During my hospital stay it had been determined that I was scary-anemic. When I had my glucose test a couple of weeks prior, the doctor had told me that I needed to get my iron up. So although I hadn't eaten red meat in 6(!) years, I had started eating cheeseburgers like it was my job. The night I was discharged I went home and ate a juicy steak and some creamed spinach. 

By 11:00 I was in pain again. My mother came over with a blood pressure machine and measured my blood pressure. It was good. I started thinking it was the spinach. Hershey told me to go back to the hospital. I started crying. I wanted just ONE night of sleep -- for me AND him!!

I tossed and turned on the couch for hours. I couldn't get comfortable. I had to pee every 45 minutes. A couple of times I didn't make it to the bathroom. By 3:00 am, I knew we had to go back to the hospital. I called Hershey to the bathroom and said, "It's time to go!"  He threw my (half-unpacked) hospital bag in the car, and I barely made it down the stairs in my wife-beater tank, Hershey's boxer shorts, jean jacket and flip flops. This was not how I pictured my birth story! 

As we pulled up to the ER doors, I was in full blown labor. My contractions were one minute apart. These babies were coming!!!! The nurses got me hooked back up onto an IV and started my fluids. After 2 hours of begging for my epidural, they finally wheeled me into an OR, where a stern nurse told me to hang my arms and legs down over the side of the bed, and an angel of mercy (aka an anesthesiologist) administered my epidural. Sweet lord! It was the best feeling in the world. 

Hershey came into the OR and sat by my head. I didn't hear much talking, until at 6:19 am I heard my doctor's voice say, "We have Jane!" And then I heard the sweetest sound: my baby crying. 

One minute later, I felt a massive pressure and the relief as my ribs cracked back into place. "Oooohhhhhhh yea!" I yelled out. 

"Here's Emma!" my doctor yelled over the sound of Baby B's robust cries. The babies were swept away to the NICU and Hershey went with them, as the team in the OR worked to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. 

I will not lie to you. Being in labor was awful. The contractions hurt like hell. But once I got that epidural, I felt no pain, and got to experience the euphoria of my children being pulled into the world on a sunny May Monday morning. And after an hour in recovery, the nurses wheeled my bed into the NICU, where that amazing neonatologist waited to give me the good news -- Jane and Emma were small, but they were healthy! I had given them 4 extra days, 2 rounds of steroids to help their little lungs develop faster, and a fighting will. 

And when I held little 3lb 9 ounce Emma for the first time that morning, and looked over to see Hershey holding little 3lb 10 ounce Jane, I felt no pain. Looking into their tiny faces, seeing them look back at me, knowing how hard they had fought to get here, I would do it all again for them! 

Oh yeah, and my ankles went back to normal. 

Hope you have a great holiday weekend! Happy twinning! 

Milestones Schmilestones

Last week I wrote about the milestones that my little ladies have been achieving.  According to our doctor, they are far ahead of where they should be.  I thought it would be beneficial to compile some information about milestones so that no one would be confused, considering there are different achievements for different ages and according to birth stories.

My twins were born 8 weeks premature.  Therefore, their milestones fall on a different scale than full-term babes.  Now, I've always been a watcher.  When we had a scale, I was on it every day.  When I was pregnant with Jane and Emma, I was on every week comparing the babies to fruits and veggies.  So when I was told that their milestones will lag behind those of a full-term baby, I threw my hands up in despair!  I no longer watch for milestones.  Here's why.

Emma comforting Jane the night before her surgery.
Each and every baby is an individual.  Each baby has 2 different individuals for parents.  Each parent has individual grandparents, different caregivers, etc.  What your baby does relies on how you treat and care for him or her. 

For example, according to the adjusted age chart, Jane and Emma, at 4 weeks adjusted (aka 12 weeks for my girls), should be able to look at a toy when you put it in front of their faces; make a face in response to sound; have their heads sag forward when sitting; clench their hands when you touch them; vaguely acknowledge you; stare at surroundings, but not really notice them; and stop and look back at someone who is looking at them.

According to, full-term babies that are 3 months old should smile at you; imitate your expressions; babble at you; lift their heads and chest when on their bellies; shake toys; swat at dangling objects; push down with legs when you hold them in standing position; closely track objects that are interesting to them; focus intently on faces; and recognize you from across the room. 

Hershey and I are very good at reading to the girls, talking to the girls, and walking them around to socialize.  They have tummy time daily, and I hold them upright most of the time so that they can practice holding up their heads.  We hold toys up for them, offer them pacifiers, and speak to them in adult tones (instead of baby babble).  With all of that, the girls are closer to the adjusted 8 week and even almost normal 12 week milestones! 

Jane and Emma, recognizing me and smiling away!
 I think that parents should review milestones, and then throw them out the window.  Regard your baby as an individual, and follow his or her cues when it comes to actions and interactions.  Exercise is of utmost importance, for the mind, body, and soul.  They need to practice holding their heads up just as much as they need to practice socializing with people other than you and your spouse!  If you look at the 3 month milestone of SMILING, and your LO is not smiling, then it may be cause for concern, and worth mentioning to your practitioner.  Otherwise, follow your parental instincts and help your babe do whatever it is he or she wants to do.  

Jane is smaller than average, and she had some setbacks from birth, but today she lays on her belly and grunts and moans and squeals and then against all odds, she picks her head STRAIGHT UP and stares you dead in the eyes, holding her head up for 10-30 seconds before smashing it back down on your chest and starting over again.

Jane picking her head up at 10 weeks
Listen to your baby.  They know what's up.

Have a great weekend!  Happy twinning!

Life's a Beach

Tonight is the eve of my LO's 3 month birthday, and we are in sunny Avalon, NJ, with my hubby's family for vacation.  A few fun things happened this month that are worth mentioning.

First, Emma broke the 8 pound mark!  She's finally a REAL BABY!  Jane is not far behind at around 7 lbs.  Since they are gaining weight and the momentum of their weight gain has increased, we also got the OK to do away with one feeding a night!  So instead of waking the girls up at midnight, 3 a.m. and 6 a.m., they wake us up when they are hungry.  Our new feeding schedule is 9 p.m. and then around 1 a.m., 5 a.m. and then I get the girls up for the day at 9 a.m.  Woohoo!  Three hour sleep sessions every night!

Peacefully sleeping in the Big Girl Bed.

Last week, the heat in NJ broke and I have been able to start bringing the girls out for walks.  Hershey patiently built my Baby Jogger City Select and we were OFF!  We took walks every morning last week and have begun making walks a part of our daily routine.  The girls really enjoy the fresh air, even though they usually sleep through the walks.  And I love bragging about them ("Yes, they are twins, yes I take them out all by myself, yes they are the cutest things EVER!").

Walking at the Duck Pond in B'Field
Strolling at the Marina in Avalon

We also are now allowed to SOCIALIZE!  With that great news, we planned our trip to Avalon, packed up the car, and got on the road to attend my sister-in-law's bridal shower, where the ladies got their first look at the bay!

Janey gazing out at the water.

Aunt Heather with Emmy.

Janey saying 'hi' to her Godfather (aka the Groom), Uncle Brett.

Jane with Grandma, looking out at the boats.

Emma loves her Aunt Heather (aka her Godmother, aka the Bride).

In addition to all of this excitement, the girls have met several milestones.  Being that they were 8 weeks premature, they have what is called an "adjusted age".  Their original due date was July 6th, which makes their "adjusted age" actually four weeks.  That being said, they should be meeting the same milestones as a 4 week old baby.  However, they are developmentally very far ahead!  They have begun smiling, holding up their own heads, chewing on and being entertained by things other than their choopies (aka pacifiers), and practicing sitting up!  They also track Hershey and I around the room when they hear our voices, recognize our faces, and coo in an attempt to communicate. It is SO COOL!

Noms, Sophie, you taste NUMMY!
Good morning, Mama!  I know you!  Thanks for the Big Girl bed slumber party this morning!

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Every breath you take...every move you make.......

I'll be back later this week with more pictures and stories, because I have many!  If you have questions about anything or are curious about the products that I am using, feel free to leave me a comment.

Hope that you have a great week!  Happy twinning!

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Cute baby feets to brighten your week!


Tomorrow (today, since it is 2:30 a.m.), we will depart for our very first family vacation. Hershey, the girls, and I will be spending 12 glorious days at Hershey's family's beach house in Avalon, NJ. 

First and foremost, thank God or whoever is out there for vacations! I have been cooped up in our apartment since May. MAY. Do you know how stir crazy that can make a person? Needless to say, my shopping apps have become my credit card's enemy (WHYYY did you come up with online shopping H&M???). 

Second, packing for myself has always been a total Pain in the Ass, but packing for two babies is probably the second hardest thing I've ever done in my life (giving birth to two babies being the first).  I spent an hour in the nursery being chided by my husband as I put away all of the laundry so that I could walk through my day and pack as I went ("Yeah that makes total sense, put everything away and then take it back out to put it into a suitcase!" Know what? Shut it!). I know I'm forgetting at least 13 things, which I'm not sure how because I pretty much packed everything in the nursery, besides the cribs. 

On top of laundry and packing, I also cooked dinner for my parents and bathed the girls and got them ready for bed. I was feeling like Super Mom until I realized that it was 1:30 a.m. and I hadn't gone to bed yet. I was then kicking myself because every hour Jane has woken up howling in pain with her first diaper rash (of course, because we leave for vacation today), at which point I peeled myself out of bed, tripped over my own 73 suitcases, and swept Jane off to the nursery so that she could scream some more as I smeared Baby Anti Monkey Butt paste all over everything from her ears down, hoping to beat the diaper rash at its own game. 

It is now 6:39 a.m. and I am running on about 14 minutes of consecutive sleep (maybe 3 hours total). Thankfully Hershey is driving. I think I'll be taking naps in between rest stops to recover from my packing experience. 

I'll be blogging from the beach while we are away, posting about our activities and travel essentials. I'm looking forward to Hershey and I's first grown-up-night-out-while-Grandma-babysits night! 

Hope you have a great weekend! Happy twinning! 

Feeding Hour at the Zoo

Yesterday, my best friend of 11 years and I made plans to meet at Van Saun Park.  I packed up the twins and about 47 pounds of shit and drove the 10 minutes to meet her there with my godson and nephew.

The twins were obviously not impressed by the various animal exhibits, but my nephews had a blast, and my bff and I got some much-needed mommy/girlfriend time.  Sitting in my house taking care of two newborns for 3 months made me forget how much I love spending time with my GIRLFRIENDS!

Some things that I absolutely NEEDED and could not have lived without yesterday.

1.  My diaper bag, along with the handy portable changing pad.

2.  Portable ready to feed formula.

3.  My awesome amazing stroller (I talked about this in a previous post).

4.  Johnson & Johnson Hand and Face Wipes.  Lots of germy kids around there!

5.  The parent console that is sold separately from my stroller. Seriously.
Jayden (godson), Jayce, Jane, and Emma.
Poor Emmy, the only non-J name of the day (my bestie's name is Jenny).
Jane woke up for about 14 seconds to show off this adorable outfit.

Have a great HUMP DAY!  Happy twinning!

Our 3 favorite girls on their activity mat.

Nom Nom ...Babies Need to Eat, Too!

I'm on the baby circuit.  You know, there are these circuits in a woman's life.  The single circuit...the wedding circuit...the baby circuit...the mommy get the idea.

Many of my friends are currently pregnant.  Seriously, I have to use both hands to count how many pregnant friends I have right now!  So many people ask me about different products that I use with Jane and Emma.  It's like birthing twins has made me this instant mommy expert.  And I'm totes fine with that!  

One of the things that I'm asked about the MOST is my feeding regimen with the girls.  Now, it's a little bit different because the girls were 8 weeks early, so my main focus was on pumping them as full of formula and breast milk as possible to get their weight up as quickly as possible, but the STUFF that I use is universal. 

Yesterday I posted a link to this study that shows that Dr. Brown's bottles are the best bottles to use overall.  I had heard that they are great for preemies, and excellent for reflux, but I had no idea just how great they are for ALL babies.  Since I have twins, I have them in two different colors.  Since the girls are different sizes, their volume is different, so I color-coded the bottles (Jane gets pink bottles, Emma gets blue bottles).  The only total rip off is that the colored bottles are $3 more expensive than the original Dr. Brown's bottles.  There is NO difference, other than the fancy color.  Register for the fancy colors if you want them, but buy the original yourself.  Save the money!

Notice Mommy's bottles to the left.  ;)
I have the 4 ounce bottles, with size 2 standard flow nipples.  The girls started on size 1 standard flow, and we just bumped them up to the number 2 this week because they were starting to show signs of frustration at the nipple (shaking head back and forth, stopping sucking and making whining noises, putting fists in mouth with nipple).  Apparently this means that they aren't getting the milk fast enough (fatties), so we moved them up a size.  It took them about a day to adjust and not dribble as much, so you have to be patient when you move them up.  

Another word about bottles.  I have been feeding the girls 8 times a day, so I have 9 of each bottle.  That way, I only have to wash bottles once a day (in the dishwasher!).  I also have the 4 ounce bottles, which they will be growing out of within the next month.  They are currently taking 3 ounces, so they are about to need a bigger bottle!  I would strongly advise against starting with a bigger bottle, though, because a bigger bottle with a little bit of formula means more air in the bottle, which can go into the nipple and into baby and cause painful gas bubbles.  Also, when you have more air in the bottom of the bottle, when you tip it up, the air will force the formula faster into the nipple, causing the formula to fly into baby's mouth.  Then they choke, spit up, and that's counterproductive!

I have heard a lot of push back on Dr. Brown's bottles because they are 6 pieces each (yes SIX parts that you have to clean each time!).  The good news is that these bottles are dishwasher safe.  After each feeding, I break the bottles apart, put the parts into dishwasher baskets, and soak the nipples in a tub of soapy water in the sink.  I also use a different sponge and specific bottle cleaning paraphernalia to clean the nipples.  

Playtex Brushes that came with a drying rack that I no longer use.
I use a regular tupperware container to soak the nipples, and a separate sponge from the one
I use for the rest of the kitchen to clean the parts by hand when needed.
I hand wash the nipples to avoid dishwasher detergent residue and to keep the nipples young!
The baskets that saved my life!
Fun Fact:  Don't wash your bottles in the dishwasher with anything covered in spaghetti sauce.
I dyed all of my bottles and bottle parts ORANGE and had to replace parts because they looked
The hubs took about 15 of these sanitizing baggies off of a Medela table at a baby expo,
and was so proud of himself that he got us some free swag!
This is the new drying rack that I use.  It takes up hardly any space, and I can pile stuff up on this like there's no tomorrow.  Drives the hubs crazy, but I love it!

 It took me a while to find a bottle warmer that I liked.  At first, I figured I would save my money and just heat up bottles in hot water.  I quickly learned that that took FOREVER, and when there is a baby screaming in my face and one screaming on the couch, I need to know that in 3 minutes and 50 seconds I will have perfectly warmed bottles.  I finally went with the Dr. Brown's warmer because it seemed to have everything I was looking for, and it goes with my bottles and I have OCD and love things that match!  Just make sure to clean this thing every other day or so.  I smelled something disgusting the other night and looked inside of the warmer and it looked like yellow cheese had formed on the inside of it.  GROSS!  I had to dump the bottle and resort to hot water in a measuring cup as Jane screamed bloody murder at 3:30 a.m.  Don't do what I did!

I found this warmer cheapest on Amazon, and it was delivered in two days for free with my Amazon Mom account!
 Now, this warmer does not travel well, and we like to go places that we can stay in for more than 3 hours.  When we go to people's houses, we can just use the water in a cup trick.  But if we are on the road, or if I want to take the girls to a park for the day, I need something that will warm the bottles without having to plug in.  I found a Tommee Tippee warmer on Amazon that had great reviews.  It is scheduled to arrive on Monday, and I'll let you know in a follow up post how it works out.  Another staple for traveling with baby is an insulated bottle carrier.  I use an Ameda one that I purchased when I was breastfeeding, and I used it to transport my milk to the hospital while the girls were in the NICU.  It fits four 4-ounce Dr. Brown's bottles perfectly, but once we move up to the next size I will have to invest in a larger bag.  Probably this one, because I'm crazy!

I also purchased travel tops for the bottles, because I found that just plugging up the bottles or putting the tops over the nipples allowed the bottles to leak.  These tops were LIFE SAVERS!

While I love taking my girls out on the town, there is nothing like staying home, rocking them and feeding them.  I tried to create an area in the nursery that was dedicated to bonding in this way.  Here are some pictures of our feeding area.

Shout out to my friend Staci at My 3 Monkeys Designs for the AWESOME subway art of the girls' names behind the glider.
Please visit her page, like her and consider purchasing some swag for your babe's room!

The "Babies Sleeping" sign above the glider was purchased from this shop on Etsy.  She was wonderful to work with. 

I won't bore you with 3,000 details.  If you have questions about the things that we use in our feeding area, please leave me a comment and I'll be happy to answer any questions you have!

Finally, a lot of people ask me what kind of formula we use.  Right now we are using Similac Alimentum.  The girls have a milk protein allergy that causes bloody poop, so the doctors wrote us prescriptions for the special formula.  Our insurance covers it 90%, so if you find yourself in a special position like this, make sure to call your insurance company and find out if they will cover it.  Alimentum is $60 for a case of six 32-ounce bottles, which we go through in less than a week.  Submitting the claim is a total pain in the ass, and we are still waiting on our refund checks from 6 weeks ago, but it's TOTALLY worth it!

One final word on feeding.  Our babies have reflux medications that they are on, and they get very gassy, and they get belly aches frequently.  Invest in gripe water (REFRIGERATE it after you open it.  It says it so small on the bottle, and we had to throw a bottle away and get a new one because I didn't realize, and this stuff is NOT inexpensive!), and gas drops.  Gas drops can be used at every feeding, and they HELP!  I also brought home extra syringes from the hospital which I wash every day so that I can set up the reflux medication ahead of time so that I can just grab a syringe and go when it's time to administer the meds.

Ok, this turned out WAY longer than I meant it to!  Hope you aren't bored to tears!

Happy twinning!