Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Confession Time

Okay, something has been weighing on my mind, and I need to put it out there: I'm not breastfeeding the Things anymore. It's silly that this feels like a huge, terrible thing that I'm confessing, but I think that's what has happened to breastfeeding in this country. It's become a huge, polarizing issue that everyone has strong opinions about. So many people seem to think it's okay to enforce their opinion about your breasts as soon as you have a baby (or babies), and they disagree with each other passionately!

When Hubby and I started trying to get pregnant, I had idealistic visions of breastfeeding my baby until...well, I wasn't sure how long, but I knew it was best for the baby and that's what I wanted to do. I completely believed that it would be so easy for me to breastfeed, that baby and I would know right away what to do, and it would be this magical bond between us. When the doctor told us there were two babies in there, my plans only faltered slightly. Other women can feed two at once, right? It should be easy as pie for me to figure it out!

Once the Things were born, I started to realize that it might not be as easy as I'd thought. Thing 2 latched on like a champ from the beginning, but Thing 1 had trouble, to the point that he seemed to scream in terror every time he looked at my breast. So, I started out breastfeeding Thing 2, and pumping to bottle feed Thing 1.

When I started that process, I had no idea how long it would all take. With feedings every three hours, my schedule was completely taken over by the vicious cycle of feedings and pumpings, and I frequently felt overwhelmed. Then of course, I had to find time to feed my own voracious appetite. If breastfeeding one takes a lot of calories, feeding two is superhuman (and, I can't even imagine feeding more than that!). If I'm not adequately fed, I turn into a terrible person, and there just wasn't enough time to feed babies and myself (unless someone was there to make food for me). Actually, it may be more accurate to say I didn't have the energy to feed all of us. Once I was done feeding and pumping, all I wanted to do was nap, not wrestle together something for me to eat! There were multiple occasions when Hubby found me in tears because I hadn't eaten enough to fill the wooly mammoth-sized hole in my innards.

I should take a moment here to point out that I had an amazing support system through this ordeal. Hubby was a huge trooper; making me food when I was hungry and crazed, feeding Thing 2 while I nursed Thing 1, reassuring me when I was crying hysterically because I was hungry and crazed, getting up during the night with me to handle the changings and feedings. Seriously: he is SuperDad.

I think I probably could have continued with things as they were, had Thing 2 not suddenly decided that nursing time was the perfect nap time. She'd get cozy and fall asleep, so I'd try to wake her up. When she remained stubbornly asleep, I'd try to put her down, at which point she'd wake up and scream like I was murdering her. I was already feeling guilty about spending so much more time with her than with Thing 1, and I let her poor nursing stress me out even more. Since nursing her was suddenly taking so much longer, I decided to switch to bottle feeding both of them, and only nursing her "for fun." This was around the time Hubby went back to work, so I found myself on my own for long periods of time with both babies, and trying to nurse Thing 2, and bottle feed Thing 1 wasn't conducive to keeping them on the same schedule.

That change made things feel more manageable, although it was a challenge to find time to pump when I was home alone with them. More times than I care to count, I'd have myself hooked up to the machine when one or both Things would start fussing. These babies are excellent at bad timing!

Once I got back to work, it got harder to find the time to pump as consistently as I should have, and I got so tired of the whole process. I felt like I was missing quality time with the Things every time I had to go pump. Plus, I hated that it was the first thing I had to do every morning, and the last thing I had to do every night. I started to resent my pump, and just felt stressed out about the whole process.

Once the Things hit 4 months, I decided it was time to quit the pump. It took some doing, and lots of tears, but I made it! I've stopped pumping, and I'm so glad to have extra time with my babies, but I still catch myself missing the idea of nursing. I worry that I missed out on a key motherhood experience by not trying harder, and I still feel guilty that I didn't make it longer nursing them. That's a problem. Nursing shouldn't be something that makes women feel guilty, and that's what it has become. One way or another, nursing is stigmatized, when it should simply be a way for mothers to feed their babies. Whether we do it in public or in the safety of our homes; whether we opt for formula feedings or breastmilk, we all just need to relax and let go of angst surrounding it.

I desperately need to take my own advice. Almost two months after quitting, I still feel guilty, even though I know that the only important thing is that my babies are fed by a mother who loves them with all of her heart. Whenever I doubt myself, I need to look down at this face, and realize that they will love me no matter how I feed them.

Breast or bottle, Thing 1 loves mommy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Crazy Weekend!

Last week marked the first time my BFF got to meet the Things, and it was an awesome, crazy visit! We've known each other since first period, first day, freshman year of high school, and we've been--what?--two peas-in-a-pod, inseparable, two hellions running amok...ever since! We've both changed a lot in the years since we've known each other, but it never ceases to amaze me that we can still pick up right where we left off every time we're together.

Obviously, since we no longer live in the same state, we don't get to visit as much as we'd like, but we make the best of it when we can. Her last visit was necessarily sedate, as there wasn't much physical activity I could handle, being enormously pregnant.

This time around, we managed to make it a bit more like old times. BFF got me running with her when we lived in DC together, and we've both stuck with it. There's nothing better than catching up with a run when we get together, so I'm so glad the weather cooperated while she was here! We ran the farthest I have run since that half-marathon we ran last February, and actually got up to some decent speeds. I lost a lot of my speed and distance while I was out of commission for so long, so it was really nice to see a light at the end of the tunnel! I may not be there yet, but I know I can get back into shape, especially if I have friends to keep me motivated!

Naturally, there was plenty of hanging out with the Things to be done, and we watched lots of Olympics and ate tasty food as well. Visits where we do lots of sight-seeing are great, but I almost prefer the quiet ones where we can just catch up on what's going on in our lives, and just hang out together!

This weekend also marked the Things' first playdate with other babies! I'm the member of a great group of women who all had twins last fall, and a few of us all live near each other. Four of us (and our significant others, and our twins, and two toddlers) all got together for an awesome afternoon, and it was amazing! The babies were all so well-behaved (and adorable!), and it was so much fun to connect with these women I've known online for months now! I can't wait for our next playdate!

At final count, there were 8 parents, 8 babies and 2 toddlers! What a day!

All in all, it was a great weekend! It feels like we managed to fit a lot into a short period of time--just thinking about it makes me sleepy!

Oh my! I almost forgot to mention: The Things are officially five months old! I can't believe how quickly the past five months have gone, and how much they've changed in that time. They seem to grow every day, and I love watching them figure things out. I'm so looking forward to seeing what changes the coming months bring for them!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Getting the News (2/12)

One year ago today, hubby and I were in my doctor's office, waiting to get our first glimpse of our baby. We were excited, and pretty nervous (but that's a story for another day), and just looking forward to seeing that tiny heartbeat. The one thing we weren't expecting was what we actually got...

It started out pretty normally: the doctor pulled up the ultrasound image, and we saw a tiny little blob. It looked a little different than were were expecting, but we aren't doctors, so we just assumed that we were reading something wrong. We smiled, relieved and thrilled at the first glimpse of our baby.

Then, the doctor said two words that would forever change our lives: "Double Whammy."

Suffice it to say it's really hard to get a good image on an ultrasound when you're laughing hysterically!

Twins don't run in either of our families, so it never entered our heads that this would be something we encountered. Some women just know that they're having twins, before it's ever confirmed by a doctor. We had absolutely no idea, and were completely floored. We spent the rest of the day texting each other repeatedly "TWINS!!!!" We were both supposed to be working, and I'm not sure how I made it through the day (or the next several weeks) without giving the secret away to all of my coworkers at once. I couldn't stop giggling, or wrap my head around the idea of the two people who had taken up residence in my uterus.

Hubby and I had resolved to wait until 12 weeks along to tell our families that we were expecting, but give our inability to go 20 minutes without randomly screaming "TWINS!!!" we figured that wasn't going to work. So, we called both sets of grandparents-to-be that evening and shared the news. None of them were surprised that I was pregnant, but the number of babies we were expecting took everyone by surprise. Those were really fun phone calls! :-)

Now the babies are here, and every day we marvel at the enormous, unexpected difference in our lives from this time last year. I still find myself looking at these  babies in surprise that there really are two of them. Most days we have a hard time believing that we're old enough to be parents, let alone the parents of TWO! But, now that they're here, I can't imagine my life without them. They're amazing, incredible, exhausting and beautiful. The past year has been a whirlwind, with so many huge changes, and I just feel so fortunate to be here with our big, beautiful family.
L to R: Babies' first picture, 6 weeks pregnant, 36 weeks 1 day pregnant, 8 weeks old, Family portrait

Saturday, February 8, 2014

My Favorite Things: Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play Sleeper

On the advice of another new mom, I decided that the twins should sleep in Rock 'n Plays when they first came home. She mentioned how great it was for babies with reflux, and even though the Things hadn't been born yet (and we had no idea whether or not either of them would have reflux), I got my heart set on them. Turns out, it was a good thing I did, because Thing 1 actually does have reflux, and sleeping flat on his back just wasn't an option for the first few months of his life.

We got two different Rock 'n Plays; one with a vibrate feature and one without. The vibration actually was a huge lifesaver for Thing 1; it helped soothe him to sleep when he was at his fussiest and most uncomfortable.

We actually kept the Things in our room in their Rock 'n Plays for the first couple months, since we were up and down with them multiple times a night. On their worst nights, I'd actually keep the fussiest one right by my side of the bed, so I could reach out and rock them or pat them if they started to cry. They've now made the transition to crib sleeping, but we still use the sleepers for the occasional quick nap, or just hanging out around the house. They're so easy to fold up and move around, that we've used them in almost every room in our house!

In the interest of full disclosure, I know some people have had issues with mold growing under the pad, but we haven't had that issue so far. We have removed the pads and washed them several times (a necessity, with all the spitting up that goes on with two babies), and they're very easy to take care of in that department.

The Things have been excellent sleepers from very early on, and I think we can give at least part of the credit to the Rock 'n Plays! You can find more information on the Rock 'n Plays here.

The Things taking a nap

Monday, February 3, 2014

Winter Running in Chicago

Perhaps a better title for this post would be "Lack of Winter Running in Chicago."

I was doing so well with my goal of getting back into running before the holidays hit, and then we got nailed with a truly terrible Chicago winter. I've never seen such a cold winter before, and it really hurt my running. When you're already sleep-deprived, going running outside in sub-zero weather, on icy sidewalks, seems foolhardy, and maybe even a little dangerous.

I only ran once in January, and then not for very long or very far. Mostly, I was just glad to be outside, and to have some time to clear my head, but I wasn't going to push my luck. I've already wiped out on the ice once this winter, and the thought of doing it while running (and not wearing a huge down coat to cushion the fall) was enough to keep my running careful. I'm really hoping that the weather improves soon, so that I can get back to really running. I've missed it a lot, and now that the days are getting longer again, I'm ready to get back to it!

One of the things I hadn't really wrapped my head around before getting pregnant with twins is that not all pregnancies are created equal. I had big plans for being active all through my pregnancy: I was going to keep running, maybe do some prenatal yoga, swimming...I wanted to do it ALL! Then, we found out there were two babies in there and we had to have "the talk" with my doctor. Basically, he said "Yeah, that's not gonna happen." He told me I could do light exercise (being careful not to let my heart rate get too high), but that once I hit 25 weeks, I'd have to go on partial bed rest.

Admittedly, I kind of ignored him at first. At eight weeks pregnant, I ran a half marathon with my BFF (read more about our race here)...not the smartest thing I've ever done. In retrospect, I'm not sure I'd make that choice again. Of course it all ended up just fine, but it was really hard, and I'm not sure the anxiety at the end was worth it. After that race, I realized that my doctor may just know what he was talking about. I took the rest of my pregnancy easy (and boy was he right about bed rest!), and the end result was two happy, healthy babies, and a pregnancy with no complications and no trips to the hospital (other than D-Day).

I will say that, by then end of my pregnancy, I took to yelling at anyone I saw running (either in my head, or from the safety of our car--not actually out loud), because I was just so jealous of them! Here I was: bigger than a beached whale, and unable to manage anything faster than a slow shuffle; and there they went: running along, with the wind in their hair, moving at speeds I could only dream of. I totally hated them!

It really seems like a cruel twist of fate that I was barely allowed to start running again before we got bitch-slapped by winter. But, I think just maybe I can see the tail end of this. I think we're getting close to the point where you can be outside for longer than five minutes without running the risk of losing toes to frostbite. And, when we're there: look out! I've barely run at all yet this year, but I've got big plans, and I can't wait to get started!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Well, Hello There!

Okay. I'm not gonna lie: I have no idea what I'm doing! I got this idea that writing a blog might be fun--after all, so many other people are doing it--so I thought I'd give it a try. And, here we are!

I guess the best place to start is with an introduction...

My name is Carrie. I'm a runner, a singer, a theatre nut, and most recently: a MOM. Of two. Yup. Twins! Hubby and I hit the jackpot! Admittedly, I was a mother before Thing 1 and Thing 2 were born. Our first baby has four legs, a tail, a cold, wet nose, and a long tongue that she loves sticking in your ears. She's helping me write this, so please forgive any typos!

Thing 1 and Thing 2 are almost five months old now, but hubby and I are still learning new stuff about them everyday. My goal as they grow up is to get myself back in shape, so I can set a good example for them when they're ready to start running circles around me! So, my goal for this blog is to bring you along on our adventures! I'll share my running progress with you, as I prepare for my goal half marathon this fall, and I'll share our progress as parents with you, as Thing 1 and Thing 2 grow up. Of course, there will be frequent appearances from Mischa (the dog), as well!

This will be a learning experience for all of us, and I'm looking forward to the journey with you!

Thing 1 and Thing 2 say hello!