Saturday, June 30, 2012

I'm in trouble, and it's more than double trouble

The truth is, these twins (as well as my girls) are my pride and joy. I am blessed by each and every one of my children.

Interesting, I've had a number of people, strangers, tell me they wish they had twins. "I always wanted twins." I don't question that desire at all. My thought following such a comment is: you have no clue how busy having multiples is. It isn't merely times two of whatever work is involved for one child. Trust me. No? Why don't you come over to the house for a day. . .

Christian is, for the most part, at this time, is more predictable and easier of the two. He's slowly getting the hang of sticking stuff in his mouth. But, when I first introduced baby food, he was so angry (he can scream quite LOUD) I wasn't getting food into him fast enough. I think he was so pleased he had the swallowing reflex down from the start. When he's tired or wants to nurse, he also bellows quite loudly.


Christine has been pretty adept at army crawling at 8 1/2 mos. She's been trying to figure out how to open cabinets (thank goodness for latches). And, when she has a moment, she's busy opening the trash can! She'll probably be the first to play with toilet water when no one's looking.

She's pretty good at self-feeding finger foods. She also gets into trouble taking little tidbits of whatever she finds on her floor adventures into her mouth. Christine, for several weeks, has also been able to call out "Mama," when she knows I'm around. If she's crawling and wants me to pick her up, she says "Mama" and starts flying (picking up her arms and her legs).


I'm not complaining. I love my twins. But, they keep me on my toes. And I will be very busy. Until I die.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Going Gluten-Free, for Someone Else's Sake

For several weeks now, Christine's bottom has gotten increasingly raw. My best guess and recollection is that the rash on her bottom got worse after introducing table food. She's had plain Cheerios, baby food carrots, and baby rice cereal to date. It was so raw and close to bleeding that yesterday, I made an appointment for her to see a pediatrician today (Friday).

Her pediatrician wasn't available, so she saw another pediatrician in the same medical group.

Though I know some of the rash could have been from poop being rubbed onto her bottom and adjusting to table food, I was wondering whether she needed a stronger rash ointment (I had been using a higher zinc oxide content - 40% - cream, which is important when the rash is bad) or whether she might be experiencing a food allergy.

The doctor recommended mixing a concoction: 1 tbs Desitin, 1 tbs Lotrimin AF, and 1 tsp Maalox. I have four children, two prior to the twins. I had never heard of this mixture. I'm thinking the mixture is to prevent her from her bum worsening, such as getting a yeast infection.

Before leaving, I asked whether she could possibly have a gluten allergy. After introducing plain Cheerios into her diet, loose stools were much more frequent and her rash was on the verge of bleeding. I told the doc that I was thinking of removing gluten from her diet to test that. He thought it was/is a good idea.

The pediatrician said to remove gluten entirely for three weeks. All other things being unchanged, if the stool issue abates and the rash goes away in that time and comes back only after reintroducing gluten at the end of three weeks, then that's the problem.

But, he said, "You (he was referring to me) must also remove gluten entirely from your diet."

I'm stunned (not because it doesn't make sense; of course it makes sense, since the twins are breastfed).


The silver lining is twofold: I have many friends who have Celiac Disease or who are sensitive to gluten. Now I'll really have some firsthand experience of what it's like to check ingredients in EVERYTHING and avoid anything with even a trace of gluten in the product(s). Second, if Christine does have an allergy to gluten, better to find out now, as a baby, than say, as a teenager. By the time she's a teenager, if she does have this as an allergy, then she could have multiple health issues.

So, my darling girl, I'm embarking on this challenge testing to see whether you're allergic to gluten by removing it completely from my diet for awhile.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My job, the twins' jobs, and pressing forward

Yesterday morning, I awoke around 5:30 am, realizing that Christian (one of the twins) hadn't nursed since 5:30 pm the previous afternoon/evening. Good for him; that means he's going longer stretches without eating or nursing. That ended up being bad news for me, not because I don't enjoy uninterrupted sleep. That was bad because that mean no milk had left my right breast for around 12 hours. I awoke with a full right breast and clogged ducts on the upper outside portion of my right breast.

I put Christian on that breast, hoping he could clear up the clog quickly. Nursing was quite painful, and unfortunately, the problem wasn't gone when he finished. In fact, he got really fussy before even finishing. I put both of the twins to work on that breast, to little or no avail. My right breast was still hard as a rock on the upper exterior portion of that breast.

After dropping the girls, the oldest two kids, off at Vacation Bible School, the twins and I met with a friend and went on a walk around a shopping center. The pain in the right breast was still very present. Anything making contact with the breast - my bra, my shirt - greatly magnified my discomfort. Once Amy, the twins, and I got back to her place, I nursed the twins. Latching on to the right side of my breast brought tremendous pain. I wanted to SCREAM. I was thinking that gone unchecked, the clogged (milk) ducts would turn into mastitis.

After picking up the girls from VBS and going home, I was nearly certain I had mastitis. Half of my areola and part of my right breast were quite red. When ever a twin latched on to the right breast or nursed, I felt like someone was stabbing my breast repeatedly. Little else (really, nothing) could distract my attention; I was in so much pain. I had to put a piece of cloth between my teeth, in which I could bite down hard; otherwise I wanted to slam my head into a brick wall repeatedly. Nursing HURT.

I knew I needed to nurse more frequently to get past that infection. I also needed to get the clog out, before the infection worsened. I called my sister, crying. I could think of little else; the pain was so distracting and overwhelming. The very thought of pressing hard on the breast to force the milk out had me terrified. She suggested using coconut oil to moisten my breast, so I wouldn't bruise my breast and that wouldn't leave a bitter taste (for the twins). Receiving sympathy and encouragement from my sister was sufficient for me to move forward and persevere past the pain to get the trapped milk out.


The process towards recovery wasn't pretty, to be sure. I cried and I screamed (pressing hard on the breast, from the outside towards the nipple). I moaned and groaned out of pain, and the girls looked at me, bewildered. What's wrong, Mommy?

I am in a lot of pain.


There is milk trapped in my breast that has trouble getting out. The trapped milk is causing a lot of pain.

In the process of pressing heavily from outwards inwards, in a straight line fashion, a small stream of milk started spraying out. A glimmer of relief came, because I knew the trapped milk was exiting my breast. I kept going and pressing the milk out of my breast until the lump, the clogged duct, was, for the most part, gone.

I, my breast, was improving, but the end hadn't come yet.

I was still nursing more frequently (than usual), and I was looking out for any clogged ducts (and emptying them).


After I nursed the twins for the last time in the evening last night, after midnight, I took a hot towel to the afflicted breast and attempted to massage out any clogged ducts. Then I was so tired, I hope to catch some Zzzzs.

At around 5:30 this morning, I awoke to Christine crying. To my horror, my right breast was hard in multiple places. Clogged ducts, AGAIN?! This time it wasn't just on the upper right part, it was on the inner middle portion as well as the lower part of my right breast. The twins had slept in their own space overnight. I immediately took Christine to the right breast. I clenched my teeth in anticipation of searing pain. Thankfully, the unbearable pain didn't last the entire time she nursed; that sort of pain lasted for only the first 3-5 minutes.


Fast forward to the present - Wed., the 20th, at 5 pm. A twin latching on the right breast is still quite painful. But, I'm still nursing them more frequently than usual. Since I'm nursing more frequently, I'm keeping my liquid (water) and food intake higher as well. I'm also trying to rest more. This afternoon, my (right) breast is fairing better. From past experience, though, I'm not out of the woods, yet. Need to stay diligent and consistent in my efforts. . .

Monday, June 11, 2012

A new chapter in sleep training

 I started this blog post several days ago and only now, am I able to resume working on it. Perhaps all the better. That way, I can provide an update on how things are going.


The twins are my third and fourth children, the youngest two of four in the brood. I started sleep training them at around two to three months of life. Do NOT read into this the Ferber, cry-it-out, method. To be fair, I haven't read material Ferber has written firsthand; so, I shall not say much. What I mean, by "sleep training" is, early on (in the twins' lives), I placed a separation between nursing (eating) and sleeping for the twins; early on, separation involved a very small routine of burping and changing diapers. I laid the twins down when they were awake, when I could tell they were tired (yawning and other tired cues). Bedtime was on my bed, with pillows on either side of the bed and a towel separating them. It didn't take them long to understand bedtime. My routine with them involved: nursing, doing some activity (burping and changing diapers), and laying them down (awake, sometimes nearly asleep and sometimes more awake).

Christine has become increasingly mobile and could move quickly just by army crawling. So interested was and is she in seeing and exploring the world, she would easily venture off the reservation (my bed). Thursday began a new chapter in sleep training. I did the routine in a new space.

Crying was involved on both of the twins' parts. I think they cried for about twenty minutes. One cried slightly longer than the other. I can't remember who cried longer, perhaps Christine.

Twenty minutes isn't actually that long, for those of you who have been down the sleep training path. But, sleep training isn't always easy for me. But the pair did fall asleep.



See my angels sleeping?


Thankfully no one was on top of another or kicking the other in the head.


Some other time, I will share about why I haven't separated the twins (at bedtime), yet.

The first night, on Thursday night, the twins slept until Christine awoke at my entrance into the room (I think she smelled me) at around 11 pm; she wanted to nurse. Christian awoke when Christine got lifted up and got upset. So, I brought both of them back to bed with me. Christian settled down as I laid him down on the far side. I placed Christine in the middle, between Christian and me and nursed her; we all went into dreamland from there.

Friday afternoon, I stuffed the twins, breastfeeding them and then giving them plain Cheerios and baby food carrots, and then nursing them one last time. Then I burped them and let them play for awhile in the living room. I don't know if they were fuller or wore themselves out or if I put them to bed at a later time, but neither twin woke until 3:30 or 4 am. They went around 10 hours without nursing, and I slept peacefully and uninterrupted for longer.

Day time sleep training is not coming as smoothly or comfortably (for me). Christine, in contrast with Christian, has not required as much sleep. During the daytime, she has been so determined to get to me and pressed her nose so hard against the side of the Pack 'n Play, she's rubbed the tip of her nose red, like Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer.

Sleep training the twins in their own space has taken a huge burden off my back. Being able to identify when they are tired and then putting them down to sleep (after burping them, changing their diapers, and such), frees me to tend the girls and to take care of other matters (cooks, do laundry, fold clothes, eat, etc.).

I am definitely no baby whisperer and I am certainly not Mary Poppins, but I am grateful for each step forward I am taking in sleep training these babies.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Look at that fine motor skill at work!

This daughter of mine, the youngest (of three) daughter(s), the older twin, who turned 8 months old on this day, is a very, very curious child. She's been army crawling for awhile now, and she'll move quickly to get to anything that catches her eye, including her sisters' Legos. Her curiosity is so dominant that she'll crawl over her brother to get to whatever interests her, that she'll NOT sleep.

When she celebrated 8 months of life in the world, she took a (plain) Cheerios to her own mouth. And, I happened to have a camera in hand right as she was doing it.


I was so excited, I was beside myself. Look at that.


LOOK at that!


Not bad (of a fine motor skill) for a little one. Happy 8 months darling.


I'm not ignoring her (twin) brother. He's so darn cute and sweet. He had his first taste of Cheerios on June 1st. Wanted more and I couldn't give it to him fast enough; he was screaming and crying for more.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Dare I dream a little dream? A chance to become a (Bravado Designs) model and to go on a vacation

Disclaimer: I am NOT being given money, gifts, or any incentive from Bravado Designs or anyone else to speak accolades of Bravado! Design products; I am simply speaking out of my personal experience and preferences.

Since December of 2005 until now, I have been pregnant or nursing. The quick and dirty run down of this is as follows: I got pregnant with my firstborn in December of 2005; she was born in September of 2006. When Isabella was 11 months old, we decided to try again for a child, thinking two children close in age would be a good idea; the two children could be playmates. Didn't take much to get pregnant again. In February of 2008, towards the end of the second trimester of my second pregnancy, when my firstborn was 17 months old (are you keeping track of all the crazy numbers?), I weaned my firstborn. Weaning her from the breast was actually harder for me than her. Not what I pictured at all; I thought it would be rough for her. My second child was born in May of 2008. Believing this to be our last child, I took my time with nursing. Rather, I let Victoria take her time. Imagine my surprise when, in February of 2011, I found out I was pregnant; I took a home pregnancy test after missing my period. I was utterly shocked, a few weeks later, at the end of February, when I found out I was not just one little one but expecting twins. My midwives, for whom I already had deep respect, encouraged me to wean my second born, for the sake of the twins as well as for my sake. Though I fully recognized and accepted this was an important choice to make, I groaned. Victoria was nearing three years of age, but how was I going to convince a spirited child of mine to stop nursing? I wanted to be firm but kind, and I didn't want her to feel like this was a battle she had to fight. I never fathomed a double ear infection and amoxicillin would have an active role in the weaning process or that weaning would again be difficult and make me so sad. But I had to march onwards and forwards, carrying twins. What a ride a pregnancy with twins was. You're welcome to take a glimpse at some of my twin pregnancy at: 32 weeks, 34 weeks, 36 weeks and 4 days, the cusp of 38 weeks, and 38 weeks. Towards the end, I felt like my bottom (everything in my lower extremities) was going to FALL OUT; I couldn't stand or sit for long without feeling extremely uncomfortable. But, I am thankful I was able to sustain the pregnancy for 38 1/2 weeks (which is considered full term), have healthy singleton-weight babies, and deliver the babies vaginally and naturally.

One of my favorite products of all time, regarding nursing, is my nursing bra from Bravado Designs. My all time favorite is The Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra. This afternoon, I took a self portrait of me wearing one; however, I will not post it here. I prefer not to show that much of myself, unless I am modeling for Bravado Designs! About the product, I love that there are removable foam cups. I don't remove them, because I want to hide my nipples and they add a bit more shape to my bust. Shaping is important, especially since so many shirts are made quite thin these days. I have several of these bras, in different colors: butterscotch, ivory, and black. On the issue of cost, I must confess that these bras are beyond my price range. However, I am on their e-mail mailings, and a few times a year, they share a coupon code for 20% off the entire purchase; when I get that code, I buy what I need to then. The bras are worth the expense, they are durable and they last. But, I also take care of them when washing; I avoid drying the bras in the dryer. My second most favorite nursing product is Bravado! Designs' The Essential Nursing Tank.


Because I love Bravado! Designs so much, I've been following them on Twitter and Facebook. I was surprised to find out that they were planning on choosing a Bravado! Designs mom for a model, to be a new face in celebration of their 20th anniversary. I saw a post, I cannot remember where (facebook? twitter?) last month, in the second half of May; and I submitted an entry. In the entry, I submitted a photograph of me after I had over 12 inches of hair cut off for Locks of Love. I was wearing a Bravado! Designs (Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra) underneath my purple shirt, but who would have known (besides me)?

This afternoon, June 4th, I had a feeling I should check the guidelines for submissions. It said to post a picture showing I'm a Bravado! Designs mama. CRAP! I didn't include a photograph of me modeling their product. I grabbed my camera and a tripod, and I went to work. My 5 yr old was so sweet to stand in my place, so I could set the focus in place.

This little angel heard me request, over and over again, to stand where I asked her to, while I set the camera up and use the timer. Must have taken me 15-20 tries to get a decent image - showing the Bravado! Designs product in its entirety, without cutting off my head, a shoulder, or something. And this is what I ended up submitting:


I am exclusively nursing twins, who are now just over 8 months old. These little monkeys, yep.


I know I have technically entered two submissions, but I hope Bravado! Designs will accept my apologies and my request to delete my first submission (since it didn't have a photograph of me obviously wearing their product). I probably won't have an(other) opportunity for any sort of vacation for the next two decades, with four children five years old and under and other stuff going on in my life.


A chance to model and to vacation (in Canada!!!) is a dream I dare to dream.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

The twins at 8 months

I could use a warm round of applause. Photographing little ones with definite, defining opinions and preferences can be a bit tricky. Perhaps it's good not to share images that show the difficulties in my role as a photographer. But I'm ready for some sympathy votes.

 Enter Exhibit A. My twins. Couldn't get either child to look at the camera. Not so bad?


How about Exhibit B?

 Babies, not like the texture of the tree trunk or the grass? I just nursed you guys; you should be good. Guess we'll try again later, in a different setting.


Any sympathy votes, yet?

Those of you who have frequented my blog(s) for awhile or know me well that I haven't given up yet. I am determined.

Meanwhile, my announcement is that the twins turned EIGHT months yesterday. A whoppin' eight months. I'm pretty proud of making it eight months with twins, and a 4 year old (who was three when the twins were born), and a 5 year old. The twins are breastfed exclusively, rice cereal twice, and they've been exposed to plain Cheerios. Christine took Cheerios to her (own) mouth for the first time, yesterday; and, I was camera ready! Go Christine, go Christine, GO.


 She still makes faces when eating Cheerios, as if it's not the most pleasant taste; but Christian, who had Cheerios for the first time yesterday, got mad at me because he wanted MORE.


These two have spent their lives together, from the start, inside the womb, separated only by their yolk sacs. Though Christine is far ahead of her head in milestones, and, as a result, has landed Christian in situations he doesn't like (having Christine on top of him and pinning him down, grabbing his arm, grabbing his ear); they bring each other comfort and companionship.


Happy 8 months, Christine and Christian. You've blessed me so much, and I love you so very much.


Thought I'd end with one of my better photographs.