Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Big Three

After my third week of a twin mom class and a bunch of playdates I have come to the conclusion that there are three main areas of conversation for moms of infants:

1. Breastfeeding/Feeding - the guilt, the agony. Typical questions include - how long between feedings, how long do they eat for (or how many ounces if bottle fed), do you supplement, [when] do you pump (and how much), what kind of bottles and nipples do you use, are you going crazy. As you may know I struggled quite a bit with breastfeeding and I'm glad I'm still doing some and I'm okay with the compromises I've made. I really don't have the personality to be feeding two kids every 2-3 hours on the breast and frankly my physical makeup makes it difficult - even if I were to have had one kid it would be a struggle for latching. The guilt that the women I meet feel who really want to breastfeed but are finding they can't make it work for a number of different reasons is incredible. I think those that are stay-at-home moms and/or struggled with infertility carry the biggest guilt. I hope if any of them stumble upon this site they will try to find peace with it as I have - even though it took me quite a while to get there.

2. Sleep - the exhaustion, oh, the exhaustion. I told myself that the crazy hours I work in Big Firm Law would prepare me for sleepless nights but that was only true for the first month. Now I feel a big sleep deficit which makes it hard to be loving and responsive at 2 am when a kid needs me. The "sleep when they sleep" advice doesn't work so well - as most moms will attest - because there is too much to do and it is hard to get both kids sleeping at once. The worst for me is the short time between middle of the night feeding and morning feeding. As for the kids typical questions include - when do they sleep, for how long, where, in what contraption (if necessary), do you swaddle them, what do they wear to bed. I'm glad we have a well established bedtime routine and they don't have to sleep all night in car seats or swings.

3. Gas - I knew as a parent there would be conversations around diaper contents and digestive issues. I just never know I'd care so deeply. This issue seems to effect moms of twins proportionately higher (based on my limited survey). Acid reflux is a big topic - along with type of formula, prescriptive meds, other supplements. Most books say babies have immature digestive systems and will for a year. I think there is no cure really for gas issues and I'm trying to not expect a "cure-all". I also have found that you shouldn't switch around too much - keep doing what you are trying for at least a week before expecting results. As a type A person I keep wanting fast results but there is no real constant for babies. Every day is a unique data point so comparisons are difficult.

I've more or less stuck to the routine/schedule Baby Nurse and I came up with - to be adjusted back an hour once daylight savings hits (since we'll keep them as-are):

Bedtime starts at 8 pm with formula feeds - I start there because that is the constant. Ned takes about 5.5-6 ounces of formula and Penny eats 4 ounces if we are lucky (down from 5 ounces). Both kids are usually asleep by 9 pm. Penny has been fussy and rejecting the bottle until she has a BM but we are working through that and she is getting better. We feed them their bedtime bottles in the darkened nursery (Husband sits on the floor) with a bedtime mix on the CD player.

Middle of the night wake-up is around 2:30-3:30 am. It was 4 am when Baby Nurse was here but Ned developed severe gas and was up around 2 am for a few weeks until we found a better formula. Penny is waking up earlier because she isn't eating as much during the day or at her bedtime bottle. I hope they will start to move back to 4 am again for my sanity. They both go back to sleep very easily after their middle of the night bottle. I feed them in the dark and try not to engage them at all. Technically they "sleep through the night" since it is 5 hour stretch that is considered sleeping through the night (9 pm to 2 am = 5 hours). Yeah, right - give me 8+ hours and then I'll consider them sleeping through the night so I get more than 4 hours of sleep at a stretch myself. I don't get back to bed until 5 am since I feed Ned, then Penny, then pump (my biggest session so I don't want to drop - 8 to 11 ounces) so I am completely exhausted when Ned is up at 7:30 am. I have visions of getting up earlier to shower before they are up but that is going to have to wait until they are sleeping longer.

Morning wake up is around 7:30 am for Ned - sometimes he wants to play/is bored, sometimes gas pains and sometimes hungry. Penny doesn't get up until 8:30 or 9 am. Since I don't really want to feed them again until 12:30 or 1 pm (based on when they go to bed counting in the other direction) I see if I can hold Ned off for a while. Either I feed him first around 8:30 am or tandem breastfeed both of them which I find difficult but survivable. Both then get about 2.5 ounces of breast milk in bottles - Ned polishes his off and Penny eats about 1.5 - 2 ounces. I'm still dependent completely on the nipple shield for breastfeeding. I try not using it but they are not as efficient and still don't latch well. I may be calling a lactation consultant this week for a home visit.

Penny usually falls asleep right after breakfast and Ned isn't far behind. If we have an activity to get to (class, playdate, and soon errands) I let them doze in swings until I'm ready to get them out of the house. I usually run around and do chores during this time and shower/dress. If we have activities Penny wakes up after we get where we are going (or on the way there) and joins in the fun - Ned sleeps until he wants to eat.

At 12:30 or 1 pm Ned gets a bottle with about 5.5-6 ounces of breastmilk and Penny is breastfed for about 30-40 mins and supplemented with 2.5 ounces of breastmilk in a bottle (eating about 1.5 - 2 ounces). If we go to our class I sometimes do both on a bottle so it is easier on me. In case you were wondering if I feed them at the same time I feed the bottle baby on a Boppi while I breastfeed the other. I'll have someone take a photo one of these days but usually if there is a someone that person is feeding the bottle baby for me.

Penny again falls asleep after eating (she's a good sleeper) and Ned is up for a while but I put him down within 2 hours of his getting up if I can. I try to get them to sleep in their cribs if I can. I want the afternoon nap to be sacred so I can nap or blog or do whatever. I have about a 50% success rate. Today was successful - that's why I'm blogging. When they nap in the crib they seem to take shorter naps which I'm trying to adjust to - since previously they just slept until their next feeding.

At 4:30 pm I feed Penny a bottle of breastmilk - about 5.0-5.5 ounces but she has only been eating 4 ounces lately (because of the rejecting the bottle problem). At 4:30 or 5 pm Ned gets breastfed plus polishes off his 2.5 breastmilk supplement bottle.

They are awake and/or dozing downstairs after that feeding until bed. We do some playtime and I let them drift in and out of sleep. It's only 3 hours between the 5 pm feeding and 8 pm bedtime (soon to be 4 pm and 7 pm respectively) but Penny does get pretty cranky before bed - I think she gets overtired but I'm not yet sure how to deal with that. Since they doze/play after that feeding I pump - usually get about 5-6 ounces. I also pump after they go to bed - around 10:00 pm and get anywhere from 5-8 ounces. I used to try to pump after each feeding but I had to drop the daytime ones - too much when kids are fussy or active - but I add in one more at least when Husband is home on the weekends.

Ned is on Carnation Good Start Supreme (partially broken down for easier digestion) with Dr. Brown's Bottles (per pediatrician recommendation) and Penny eats Similac Advanced or Neosure (going through old stock) with basic Gerber bottles and medium flow nipples (which are for 4 month kids but she was collapsing the other type of slower flow nipple). We had her on Dr. Brown's with Ned but when she started rejecting the bottle we switched back to what she was already used to. She is better about expelling her gas without making a big to-do about it. Plus since they are on different formulas (for now) it is easier to tell the bottles apart. I put "gripe water" in their bottles for the 4:30/5 pm feeding and both formula feeds. Not sure if it helps but since his gas is easing I'm keeping it up. We used to do Mylicon but I didn't notice much help.

My kids are swaddled tightly for each nap in their cribs. I want to start having one arm out during their afternoon sleep but haven't been very consistent about it. I also want to give them more play time (ahem, tummy time that they hate) and more Moby wrap/sling time but am just trying to fit in where I can right now so it doesn't happen every day.

I try to prepare all day bottles after the first morning breastfeeding and I prepare both formula bottles while Husband plays with the kids. I would love to "do away" with bottles but my kids need the supplement after breastfeeding and since we are already doing bottles the one on the breast/one on the bottle isn't hard and lets me spend time with one kid at each feeding. We use pre-made formula which my sister thinks is an extravagance. It is but I'm okay with that - we more than make up for the cost with all the meals we are no longer eating out in restaurants.

Husband helps for bedtime every night and I have him get up on Friday and Saturday nights and sometimes during the week if I am really exhausted. I'd like to hand off one weekend night to him but while I'm still pumping there is really no point. I like our bedtime feedings together - I catch up with him on what went on with the kids and what he's done at work that day.

As I mentioned above every day is different. What I describe above is "typical" but certainly not a daily event. I miss Baby Nurse - once we got on the same page it was a good relationship. I am saner for having a sort of "schedule" with the kids, I'm still partially breastfeeding and I'm getting out of the house as much as possible since I miss her company.


Liz Jimenez said...

Those are definitely the big three topics among all new moms! The gas/poop discussions will fade, and the new addition will be solid foods. Sleep remains a topic... um... forever? Maybe people stop talking about it so much when kids are old enough to drop all naps, but I'm not sure. :-)

Nancy said...

Wow - those are *still* the big three we talk about around here... and not just for Logan ;)

I just read goddess' comment...the gas/poop discussions fade - until you hit potty training age ;)

We *totally* used the pre-made formula (Costco rocks). It was the one area where we could help ourselves out a little bit; so while it is more expensive, it was totally worth it.

See you tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

Your kids are such good sleepers they will hopefully be sleeping through the night soon! I've been told that if they get enough oz. during the day (I hear most babies need about 24-30 oz.) then they have probably received enough calories to sleep through the night (growth spurts aside). It's always hard when some feedings are on the breast...have you thought about squeezing in an extra feed somewhere during the day? That's probably a ridiculous question considering it sounds like they eat a lot and often already.

Hope to see you soon! Happy to host since you mentioned previously that the tykes do better sometimes at other people's houses :)