Saturday, December 28, 2013

Breastfeeding Twins

**Warning: this post contains pictures of breastfeeding...all tastefully done and don't show anything, but a warning must be issued anyway**

All I can say is THANK GOD I had twins second. Because if my first pregnancy had been twins, I NEVER would have stuck it out and tried to breastfeed these girls. I'm so glad that I nursed Avery for 14 months and it was such a good experience because if trying to feed these hippos was my first go at nursing, I would have quit when they were 3 days old.

We had a rocky, rocky start. Kinley was in the NICU for 4 days and Caris was in the NICU for 8 days. It was a rough road, but in a nut shell, I was discharged from the hospital on friday afternoon (had the babies on wednesday afternoon) and left both my babes in the hospital IN THE NURSERY because they had both been discharged from the NICU. We spent friday night at home thinking that both kiddos were coming home the next day. When we woke up saturday morning, the NICU doc had called and told us they had done poorly overnight with their temps dropping and they weren't eating.

I ended up staying the next 2 nights by myself in a courtesy room. And it was awful. I had an alarm set on my phone for every 3 hours. The kids were eating at 2, 5, 8, and 11. I'd set my alarm, stumble into the NICU and pump. Take Kinley's temp, change her, feed her, tuck her back in. Same with Caris. The whole process took about an hour. Then I'd be back in my room about an hour later and pass out until the alarm went off 2 hours later. Troy stayed home with Avery and my mom and I would come home for dinner every night for about 2 hours and speed back to make the next feeding. Those hospital grade pumps were the BEST. It was a medela symphony. I looked it up online to purchase one...$1800?!?!?!? Forget it. I have a medela pump in style back pack from pumping after I went back to work from Avery and it's been working ok.

Anyway, we finally got both kids home and I was so frustrated with pumping and giving them bottles only. I was paranoid because they told us exactly how many milliliters the kids needs to drink per day and the average per feeding for them to gain weight. If they didn't drink their intake needed, I would FREAK OUT. And they weren't nursing for the following reasons:

1. With us monitoring every tiny drop they ate, nursing wasn't possible.
2. Caris was a HORRIBLE latch. Her mouth was so tiny and then when we mouth would open, it was like her chin would drop back and I couldn't get the right contact.
3. Kinley would latch but then was the laziest sucker and couldn't get enough before she fell asleep because nursing was too exhausting for her.
4. My milk didn't let down immediately and they weren't patient enough for it to come down and wouldn't stay latched on (if I could get them latched on at all). Let the screaming ensue and FRANTIC head shaking begin.
5. Both babies got lazy. The bottles are easier to drink out of than the breast.
6. The most infuriating of all: they preferred the taste of formula over breastmilk. We were doing half breastmilk and half formula in all the bottles and slowly weaned then down to full breast milk in the bottles.

So I was hooked up to a pump all the time for about a month (the good news is, my freezer supply is HUGE). If they were bigger and weighed more, I probably would have been like, "I'm starving you out. Eventually, you'll be so hungry that you'll breastfeed." I really wanted them to nurse because it would cut my "awake in the middle of the night time" down by almost 30 minutes without the pumping session. I finally said enough is enough and looked up the Las Vegas Le Leche League meet ups to get some advice and support.

I found a meeting within 2 days and headed over by myself (no babies with me). Oh. My. Lord. I was prepared for moms nursing their babies at the meeting, but not for 3-4 year olds tandem nursing with infants. It kinda freaked me out. I know that "breast is best" and I shouldn't judge people's breastfeeding choices, but when a 3.5 year old walks up to mom and PULLS DOWN HER SHIRT in front of everyone and then stands there in front of the chair to nurse, it's just too much. Anyway...

They had great advice for me. They told me to just toss the bottles completely and spend a few days at home, in bed with my babies. Feed them on demand and ignore the 3 hour schedule. Feed them before they are frantic and impatient because they will be harder to latch and fatigued from crying.

The next day started nursing boot camp. It was so hard NOT knowing exactly how much they were eating. But they were still peeing and pooping and sleeping the same so I just decided to let it go. And cut out all formula.

The thing that made the biggest difference was someone staying up to do the last feeding of the day. My mom did it the 5 weeks that she was here. I would nurse at the 8-9 feeding and then my mom would give them pumped milk at midnight. I went to bed every night about 9 and mom would swaddle them and put them in the twin bassinet in our room. They would wake up around 3 and I would nurse again. It made a HUGE difference for me when I was able to get a straight 5-6 hour stretch of sleep. AMAZING. Troy still stays up and does it on his days off to make life much better. When I have to do all the night time feedings, it's rough. Like really rough. Sometimes now they can stretch their feedings to 4 hours, but it's not quite consistent.

I am really terrible at nursing them both at the same time. The only way I can do it is if Caris is latched on first because she is SO difficult to latch. I nurse them both in "football" hold. But even then, if one starts coughing or spits up, it messes up the other one and it's just a mess because I have to attend to the coughing one and let go of the other. Their necks aren't quite strong enough to stay latched on without tons of support behind their necks. They both just get a more quality nurse if I nurse them separately.

It's been a little tough with Avery because she has become whiny since they were born. "Help me!!!" "Snuggle me!!!" "I can't do it." It's like she made the connection that they get attention when they cry, so she cries about everything. It's driving me crazy because when I'm in the middle of my 40 minute nursing block (20 minutes for each baby), Avery wants help with everything or is having a crisis or needs to be wiped on the potty. She's been really great about putting pacifiers in a baby's mouth if I'm sitting to nurse and seems like she wants to help and lets us know if she thinks there is something wrong. She also "nurses" her baby and even uses my nursing pillow which is pretty adorable.

I started back at work about 3 weeks ago (when the babies were about 6 weeks old) and that has been good so far. I pump halfway through my day and get about 5-6oz out of each breast. I am able to replace all of the milk use throughout a full work day from the freezer. Troy and Aurora (our nanny) use the frozen milk to feed them (so it doesn't go bad) and rotate all of the new milk in to be used after the old stuff is gone. It's working ok now and hopefully I'll never have to toss anything...

We haven't had to supplement since we did breast milk boot camp. We had their 2 month follow up appointments with the pediatrician on Christmas Eve. Caris's birth weight was 4lbs 14 oz and she was at 8lbs and 8oz. Kinley was born at 5lbs 4 oz and is up to 9lbs 1oz. The pediatrician told me that I was doing amazing (always feels good to be validated) and to keep it up. She also said that if I haven't had to supplement up until now, that hopefully I wouldn't have to. BIG SMILES ALL AROUND!

I have been taking fenugreek to keep up my supply just in case and I usually have to pump in the mornings because skipping the midnight feeding can make me engorged in the morning sometimes. But overall, no crazy leaking like I had with Avery. Maybe your boobs "just know" once you've done this once.

I'm really hoping to keep up for at least a year. People keep acting shocked that I am breastfeeding twins. Which is understandable because breastfeeding ONE baby is really difficult. But like I said at the beginning of this post, it is so much easier because I've already breastfed one. I am so thankful that it's been alright so far. I really do just LOVE breastfeeding. I love when my little loves stare up at me and I love snuggling them so close. I feel so differently about these two than I did about Avery. It's like I know that we are done and not having any more kids. My attitude is so different. I don't care if I'm tired. I don't care if I'm up all night nursing. It's so easy to look back on Avery as an infant and see how fast she grew up. I know that the sleepless nights are short lived and nursing these babies will go SO fast. It's so much easier to enjoy the night time snuggles knowing this is the last time I'll do it. I'm just so thankful that it's working and I don't want to quit. Yet.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Visiting Santa with all the Kiddos

I think we have found the REAL Santa. And he lives in Las Vegas. More specifically, at the Fashion Show Mall. He was here last year:

And he was here again this year with all our kids. He seriously is awesome. BEST looking Santa I have EVER seen.

We brought all of the kids to the mall in their comfy clothes and then when we got to the parking garage there, we changed Avery into her Christmas dress. We put the twins in their stroller and walked in front of Macy's, where Santa was set up with his elves. Troy was prepping Avery the whole time to "ask for a bicycle, ask for a bicycle, okay?"

We were TOTALLY that family who took forever because we changed Caris and Kinley's clothes when we got there. Lucky for us, there was only one family behind us and they were super patient. It's a funny thing. You have two infants and people are suddenly patient and inquisitive everywhere you go. And by "a funny thing," I mean a weird thing.

**side note: We went to Costco last week and Troy was pushing the twins and I was pushing the cart with the food and Avery. Troy got cornered for almost 10 minutes by an older woman (maybe late 60s) and her husband. The lady was CRYING when she saw them! "They are so beautiful! Are they real?!?!?" She was praying over them, crying, and asking all kinds of questions and Troy was seriously uncomfortable. BAHAHAHA! I just hid 2 aisles over and laughed. Poor guy. My friends with multiples were not joking when they told me that going out with them turns into a show and everyone stopping you and telling you about their sister's cousin who is a twin. It's a circus every time we go out. It's hilarious.

Anyway. Santa.

We made sure all of the kiddos were presentable and waited for Avery to tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas. She told him she wanted The Little Mermaid. Not a doll. Like the actual mermaid Ariel as a friend for a visit. Bicycle completely forgotten in favor of Disney Princesses. Then we handed the twins over to Santa for our picture. How cute are they?

After we retrieved twins from Santa, Avery hopped down from the bench and ran over to us. Troy said, "so did you ask Santa for your bicycle?" And Avery goes, "OH NO!!!" And she runs back over to Santa (while he's saying hi to the next family) and yells, "I NEED A PINK BICYCLE!!!!!!!!!!!!"

We started laughing so hard. Everyone was super nice about it...probably because she's so cute.

So, all of our Las Vegas amigos, if you want to see a great Santa, head over to the Macy's at the Fashion Show mall on the strip.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Family Pictures and Our Christmas Card

Maybe you noticed some changes on the blog a few weeks ago? We asked a friend to come over and take some pictures for our "mail out" Christmas card this year. And we figured while she was over here, we'd get some "everyday" pictures too, so that any photos we sent out to family weren't holiday specific.

Anyone remember the last cover photo I had up on the blog?

Well, we had some changes! And if you look up, we have a new pretty photo with Kinley and Caris! We went with a kind of summer-y color motif and the cream and teal look great on all of us! WIN!

Here are a couple more pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Caris looks mad:

Optimus looks like the happiest doggie in the world:

My favorite one of everyone...except Optimus :(

Best whole family photo. Optimus really is NOT fat or big...the camera angle is like a side view mirror: Objects may appear larger than real life:

Caris and Kinley dressed up as baby Santas:

In front of the Christmas tree:

Adorable Avery:

We also ordered all of our Christmas cards from Shutterfly again this year!

Here is our picture from last year that my cousin took for us over Thanksgiving:

It was super fun and silly. Well this year, I didn't have much time to troll pinterest for something cute and silly (read: creative) so we went for a theme of everyone being showered and wearing clean clothes. Having twins in the house is cutting down on my sleep. But that is a blog for another day. Coming soon.

Here is our card from this year:

So, Merry Christmas from our family to yours! I'm pretty sure that most of the people who read this blog are family trying to keep up with us, so you probably got mailed a card. To the other 5 people, MERRY VIRTUAL CHRISTMAS! I love you all and appreciate you reading so much!

This has been such a huge year for our family and all of the love and support poured out from our family and friends has been a blessing for us. I am have a bunch of blogs queued up, so hopefully, the next few days will be filled with updates and include an update on what it's like to have twins. And have no sleep. And breastfeed twins. And how Avery is adjusting. It's been interesting and we definitely owe you all an update on that.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Family Pictures

I am terrible about pictures. I take TONS of them, but never print anything out. I have grandparents who don't have smart phones or internet. Seriously. So they never see pictures of their great-grandkids. I am going to print off a mess of pictures the next time I go to Walmart and send the photos to them.

We have also NEVER had professional pictures taken. We always have friends take them who have nice cameras.

So eventually, we will have professional ones done, but in the meantime, we've gotten great results from friends.

Here's one from when Avery was born:

Here's one from a friend at White Sands:

And now we have new ones from the same friend who took our White Sand pictures:

We also took a mess of Christmas pictures, but I'm not sharing all of those until we get our Christmas cards in the mail!

But here are some outtakes. Avery making us laugh mostly. And Optimus reminding me of a t-rex.

Seriously y'all. Optimus's big, goofy face just makes me smile.

I threw a bear at Avery and Kristen took the shot while Avery was in mid-catch.

Avery's new favorite game is the "steal the nose" game and she started playing it in the middle of pictures. This is Avery stealing my nose.

Avery stealing Troy's nose. He's not super tolerant of the nose stealing game. She doesn't quite get the "be gentle" concept of the game. It's a TIGHT squeeze and pinch from her. Ouch.

We took some Christmas pictures in front of our stockings (we don't have a fireplace). We gave Avery a poinsettia flower to hold and she decided that it needed to go on Kinley's head.

Up close shot of the flower on her head.

Well, since we got our photos taken, we got our Christmas cards ordered today. So I just need to make sure I can get them addressed and in the mail BEFORE Christmas. Wish me luck!