Friday, March 27, 2015

Weight Watchers

Every mother and mother-to-be knows the pressure put on women to breastfeed.  These days it seems that people just assume new mothers are going to breastfeed their babies.  In my case it happened to be true that I was going to try to exclusively breastfeed both babies.  Insert all of the mutual benefits for mother and child here, in addition to the obvious financial ones too, and you'll know why I wanted to try.   I went into this parenting thing thinking that I'd be totally OK with it if I just wasn't able to, but in the end, the guilt has gotten to me.  Thank you society.  Thank you...

Here's how we got to where we are today, which is me no longer breastfeeding either baby, and only pumping milk when I can during the day to feed it to J:
As soon as I was able, my babies were brought to me for feeding.  J was dropped into my arms and the nurse asked if I knew what I was doing.  
"Um...in theory, yes.  Practically?  No."
So she helped, and it magically seemed to work.  And then B came over and the same thing happened.  And all was right with the world.  I was going to be super breastfeeding Mom of twins!  Without much effort!  I ruled.
But over the next few hours, things became more challenging.  Every shift change brought a new nurse who told me to do something different and the lactation consultant had different opinions than them.  The babies didn't seem to latch on all of the time and after feedings they seemed hungry.  I was assured that they didn't need to eat much in the first few days, and to just relax.  A breast pump was brought in and I was instructed to pump after every feeding.  So I started breastfeeding one baby for as long as they would drink and then I'd switch to the other baby.  Then I'd pump for as long as I could stand it.  And by the time I was done, it was time to start over.  It was quite honestly, hell.  Especially during the early morning feedings, and especially because my babies were getting hungrier.  My milk hadn't yet fully come in so even though they didn't need a lot, they did need more than I could give.  This is when the guilt first began.  Not being able to give my children what they needed really made me feel horrible.  Still, I was told not to worry, that we'd still be OK.  The next lactation consultant recommended we begin supplementing with formula just until my milk came in fully, to ensure the babies got enough to eat.
And I believe this was the beginning of the downfall.  I think that if I had more help in the hospital (there was a major baby boom the weekend we were in the hospital, and the lactation consultants and nurses were overbooked.) I could have maybe gotten over the hump and I may have been able to breast feed at least one baby exclusively.  That said, we can't go back and change the past, and the day we were released from the hospital began to change everything anyway.
As you know, we were rushing to get out of the hospital so we could beat the blizzard.  We were rushing around, signing paperwork, packing bags, getting releases and making arrangements for the hotel.  We were also dressing our babies for the first time in clothes that were WAY too big (our babies needed preemie clothes for the first three weeks.  Surprise!) and dealing with massive amounts of spit up coming from B.  Our little guy seemed to all of a sudden go from eating champ (he started out being a better eater than his older, bigger brother) to being a vomit rocket.  After every feeding it seemed that he threw up his entire bottle, and considering he had already lost weight (normal) and that he started out small (5# 4oz), I was worried.  Before we left the hospital I asked the nurse about it and she assured me that it was perfectly normal and that I should just hold him upright for a little longer after feeding.
...and so for two days, that's what we did.  But in my heart, I knew something was wrong.  At his checkup a couple of days later, he'd lost even more weight.  He wasn't looking well either.  He was pale and was starting to look sick.  Still, the doctor asked us to increase his intake (counter intuitive, no?) and to bring him back in a couple of days for another weight check.
Increased intake equals increased output.  Everything we put into our little guy seemed to immediately come back up.  He only seemed to be able to handle 10-15 milliliters without getting sick.  By his next weight check, he'd lost 15% of his body weight and was dangerously underweight.  The doctor on call thankfully was not as optimistic as our pediatrician, and she sent us immediately to the ER in the Boston Children's Hospital.  

Our sweet B in his hospital gown in the ER

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Going Home...Sort Of

...so there we were, a new family of four, packed and ready to go home for the first time...when we received a note from our friend that we might actually not want to come home after all.  In fact, we might not be able to go home because the marina, for the first time in at least two years, might have to be evacuated due to the high winds predicted with the blizzard.  He suggested we book a room in the hotel next door, like many of our friends and neighbors just to be safe.  So we booked a room and made our way there.

The drive home was quite hairy.  The weather had deteriorated rapidly and everyone in the city was trying to get home before it got worse.  Traffic was horrible and our babies were in the back seat crying.  We'd heard that the mirrors you put on the back seat so you can see your babies were dangerous, so we opted not to get them...that caused us major stress.  Not being able to see if the babies were breathing when they were quiet was too much!  Yes, we pulled over on the snowy road to check.  Yes, we know this is because we're first time parents.  After this trip, we decided the risk was worth it, and we purchased the mirrors once the snow cleared!

Traffic

The ride home

Our bridge.  Almost home sweet boys.
Earlier in the day we received an email from the marina telling us that we couldn't park in the middle of the parking lot because of snow removal.  But by the time we arrived home from the hospital, all of the outer spaces were already taken.  Thankfully our dockmaster is cool and he allowed us to park in the main lot, even though we were in that restricted area.  After what seemed like hours (it actually did take a little over an hour to get home...it usually takes 15 minutes) we finally made it to the hotel.

Maybe it's because they saw the stressed out, new mom, we just drove in the car with two newborns and oh my God we're really parents, look on my face, we were upgraded to a suite. I'm not sure how we would have survived those first two days at "home" without a kitchen and living room to be honest. 

Welcome "home" boys...

Hotel Lobby
In addition to getting a suite, we were lucky enough to get a room that overlooked the marina, so we could periodically check to make sure our boat was OK.  (It was.)

So close to home, yet so far away!

The calm after the storm.  And before the next one.


I have to stop here and say once again how wonderful it is to live in this community.  Not only were our friends looking out for us by telling us about the evacuation, they were waiting for us when we got the hotel.  Within minutes, B1 had help unloading the car which was no small feat considering we ransacked the hospital and had several bags of groceries (thanks to my in-laws!) in addition to our duffel bags, the diaper bag and two babies.  They really helped make a stressful, overwhelming situation a little easier to bear.   

Though the hotel was nice, we really just needed to be home.  Twins require structure and we hadn't yet had a chance to figure out what that structure was.  That first night on our own (without the nursery and nurses to help!) was rough.  Really, really rough.  It was the first time I wondered how the hell I'm going to manage this when B1 goes back to work.  When I woke up on day 2, I knew I needed to organize everything we had to make things run more smoothly when the boys woke up.

I laid out the diapers and the Vaseline packets (for their circumcisions):


I set up the feeding stations (Because we were in a hotel, we covered the surfaces to protect them from spit up):

 

and laid out the bottles and breast pump parts:


It did make things run more smoothly.  But we were still dumbstruck with how hard it is having twins.  And I wondered how it's legal to let new parents out of the hospital with twinfants without more training!  (And we both have always felt pretty comfortable around infants.)

Here are our first family photos:



...And finally, we were really going home!


Friday, February 20, 2015

The Day You Were Born: 1/23/15

Maybe you guessed it, or maybe you didn't, but on Friday 1/23/15 at 9:17am and 9:19am our twin boys were born via c-section. Needless to say, our lives have been forever changed for the better and we already can't imagine life without our little guys...

As you know, my pregnancy wasn't great. In fact, it was downright horrible and I never want to be pregnant again. So, on Thursday 1/22 at 9:45pm (yes, PM, after the day was already done!) when my OB called me and told me I have pre-eclampsia and asked, "How'd you like to have your babies tomorrow?" I almost yelled, "YES!". Instead I laughed in disbelief and looked at B1 and pointed to my belly mouthing, "TOMORROW!!!".

Nothing's boring with us.

Ever.

Especially because the boat wasn't ready yet, we were smack dab in the middle of projects and the boat was a disaster.  I mean, really, really disorganized.  And I didn't have the special soap yet that I was supposed to have for surgery.  So while B1 ran out to a 24-hour pharmacy to try to find said soap, I started tidying up as much as I could and double checked our bag. 

We didn't get much sleep that night.  We were due at the hospital by 6:30am but we were both up well before that time.  It didn't seem real, that after all the planning, swelling, throwing up, kicking, and anticipation that we were finally going to meet our boys.  And we'd be parents.

Holy shit.

To distract myself, I began taking screen shots of news sites to show the world as it was the day they were born:


A friend of ours also bought two Boston Globes for us.

The marina and city looked so peaceful when we got into the car, so I took this picture, that shows the date and time, with both in the background.  It's a little fuzzy, but I still love it.  Very "in the moment".


We were psyched when we got to the hospital and found a spot right up front.  Not that I was in active labor, but toward the end I was REALLY uncomfortable.  And also, we will NEVER be able to park here again.  So we did!



On the way in, I realized I never took a 36 week picture.  And that's another thing we'll never be able to do.  So I made B1 take one right there in the parking lot.


We checked in, I changed and they hooked me up to tubes.  Then I walked into the operating room and hopped up onto the table for my epidural.  YES, I really walked right in.  It was odd.  Very, very odd.  What seems like seconds later (but it was really 20 minutes) B1 was by my side and they were cutting me open.

And then what seemed like hour later (it was only a few minutes) we heard J.  He sounded like a duck.  Literally like a duck!


And two minutes later, B arrived.  Sounding like a baby.  :)


Daddy and his boys in the operating room:


Introducing our boys to Momma:


B on the left and J on the right:


 Later, in recovery, I finally got to hold them:

 

We stayed in the hospital for 3 nights, 1 night less than planned.  The weather was looking pretty dismal, and a blizzard was in the forecast.  B1 and I were really overwhelmed with the amount of people who came in and out of the hospital room, and the thought of having to stay an extra night because of the snow was just too much.  So we made it known that we'd be OK with being discharged early, as long as the boys were cleared to go.  They were, and so we began preparing to go home.

I shed my hospital clothes and dressed the boys in their going home outfits, including the hats I knit for them a couple of months ago:



B1 got their car seats ready:


Once everyone was packed up, we headed home.

Kind of...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rant: Stop Saying We Can't!!

I suppose I should start this rant by saying that I know that people mean well, and they think they are either being funny, or helpful, or both.  But really, they're just being annoying and unsupportive, really.

About what you ask?  The boat.  And the fact that we'll be living on it with our babies.  And about parenting in general.

I am so sick of hearing about how much stuff we're going to need/have because of the babies.  People I normally love are beginning to really get on my nerves because of their comments about how "it only gets worse" and "this is just the beginning!".  Well, you know what?  We have about 25% of the "stuff" you have normally and we're pretty darned happy.  And also?  Your baby did not need that $300 swing thingy that has an enormous footprint.

No they didn't.

YOU may have enjoyed the way it made your baby quiet and it was probably convenient.  But it wasn't needed.  We'll probably be just fine with our hammock and the natural rocking of the boat.  And you know what?  If we're not, we'll figure out another way.  Because we're good like that.

Also, I know that having twins means our free time will be severely limited, especially at first.  I know this.  You don't have to point it out every time we talk, or every time I mention something on Facebook.  I don't need you to tell me I won't have time to brush my hair or shower because you know what?  I'll make time.  I'm not doing this alone.  My husband is extremely helpful and more than willing to wake up 10 minutes early so that I can bathe before he goes to work.  I'm sorry you didn't have the help that I will have, but stop telling me that I will essentially become a dirty hobo because I won't be able to shower.

Will I be able to take a long, 30 minute luxurious bath?  No.  But we don't have a bath tub anyway, so...I wasn't doing that before.  I probably won't even get to blow dry my hair.  And that's totally cool.  But bathing?  Yes.  I'll do that, and do it often.  So stop telling me I can't.

And while you're at it, stop telling me what an inconvenience having children was.  I'm sorry you feel that way.  I don't appreciate your snide, sarcastic comments about my children who are not even born yet.  You suck.

And to my favorite comment, from someone I know meant no harm, but who really did some harm...we are NOT "too proud" to admit when something isn't working.  We've said all along that if living on a boat ever becomes something that we no longer love, or it's no longer working, we'd move.  BUT IT IS WORKING, AND WORKING WELL.  And there's absolutely ZERO reason why it shouldn't work with two small children.  ZERO.  You are essentially WAITING FOR US TO FAIL and telling us it's okay...and that we shouldn't be too proud to move back onto land when it happens.

That makes me so angry.  So, so angry...

A small home does not make an inappropriate home.  Nor does it make an unlivable home.  We hope it will make a cozy, loving home that's filled with a greater understanding of living with less and of how to get along with the people you love.  But, you know...we'll fail at that, so...I guess we'll just move now before they get here and tell you how right you were.

WTF??

I know this all sounds a little hormonal.  But truthfully, I've held my tongue for 8 months and I'm getting really, really sick of the negativity.  Thank GOD most of the people in our lives are understanding and open minded.  And thank God for our boat friends, who understand.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go lower my blood pressure.

The Nursery: Part 3

We are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel-with both the nursery and this pregnancy!  Both will be done within two weeks, if not sooner. :)

Last weekend we bought the foam for the crib.  It's a super firm foam which will support the boys very well.  We found a local old-school re-upholstery shop in town which cuts full slabs of foam to any size you want, which is rare.  When we walked in it was like we entered a time warp.  It was great fun to watch this little old man hobbling around the super cramped shop, pulling huge slabs of foam out of the woodwork.  Upon leaving, we both agreed that it's exactly the kind of place we love to support and that we'd be back for sure when it's time to replace the cushions on our own bed.


The foam guy in his cramped little shop, cutting a large piece of foam to our specs.
B1's been working so hard every weekend and after work to put the finishing touches on the construction.  It's turning out to be a little more tedious of a job than we initially thought, mainly because of time, but also because of the shape of the back cabin.  Nothing is square and because we have to think about 20 little fingers getting stuck in crevasses, B1 is being extra careful that everything fits exactly the way it should.  It's been hard for me to sit (literally) and watch him do all of the work.  But I keep reminding myself that I'm actually growing two babies, and that's hard work in itself.  I guess this is a good example of teamwork, right?

Last night B1 was able to cut the foam and install it into the crib.  First he used the insulation as a template to mark where he should cut:


And then, using an electric turkey knife which was bought specifically for this purpose, he made the cuts:

Like butta.
 

Incidentally, as a chef, I feel the need to tell you that this is the only time an electric knife should ever be used.  :)

Once everything was cut, he put the mattress in the crib and made the bed:



We're starting to try to figure out exactly where we want to put everything.  Placement is very important because its such a small space.  We're being very selective about how we decorate, too, as not to overwhelm the boys with a million different colors and patterns.  The wall below will be painted or covered in a neutral color, probably cream to match the fiberglass walls.  The cushion below was bought at IKEA in the as-is section and will be recovered to match the cover we're making for the seat cushion (which is made out of the same foam as the mattress).


The main colors will be green, white and blue, with pops of other colors that can be found in the jungle.  I can't wait until construction is done so we can get it completely decorated and ready for Jack and Bobby!

Thanks for following along with our progress!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Preparing For Their Arrival: Organizing the "Stuff"

Before you say, "It only gets worse!" or, "You're going to need more of XYZ!", please hold your comments, and read a little something I once wrote about why we want to raise our sons on a boat:

"...It requires us to think a lot about what we bring into our home, to shop for groceries more often, and to try to live a little more simply than we did when we had a huge two story apartment.

And we're OK with that.  In fact, we're more than OK with that-it's actually one of the philosophies behind why we want to continue living aboard and why we want to raise our twin sons on a boat.  We want them to appreciate the value of community, neighbors and friendship.  We want them to appreciate that you can, in fact, live with less, even though society tells us we need more, more more!
It's true that we have a lot more "stuff" now that the babies exist-it's two extra humans living in a small space.  But it's also true that we still have a lot less than the average family expecting twins, and we're pretty sure we'll survive.  We don't have a traditional crib, but what we will have is a kick ass custom cabin built by their daddy with a lot of love.  And they won't have a large playroom to run around in, but they'll have the entire ocean to explore, including islands to conquer (complete with pirate gear!), beaches to comb and interesting people to meet.  And in the summer, they'll know what it feels like to have the wind in their hair (oh, how we hope they have hair!) and they'll be surrounded by the splendor of the sunlight dancing like diamonds on the water.

They won't have the latest and the greatest .  But what they will have will be divine...

PSA over...now, onto the post. :)

Over the last couple of weekends we've really been trying to get everything ready for Jack and Bobby's arrival.  That means that everything we received from our multiple baby showers that once lived in storage, now lives at home.  And that means that we've been organizing like mad!

Here's what our car looked like when we left the storage unit:


Everything's boxed up in bulky packaging, crammed into bags or boxes.  I knew that once we got home and opened everything up, we'd be able to get a handle on it.

First things first, the car seats!  Those two boxes alone took up most of the back seat and LOADS of room in storage.  So, we installed them!


Somehow, even though I have this huge belly, we've felt them kick, seen their little hearts beating and have them named...THIS made it all seem very real.  We're actually going to have babies!  (It's even still currently hard to imagine, being that neither of us have ever had babies of our own.)

Once those two big boxes were broken down and thrown away, we were left with two carts of stuff that we brought back to the boat.  Most of which ended up in these two cabinets.  Yes really:


There are additional diapers stored under the crib/bed (and more will be opened and put in that bin above-I just didn't want to open too many in case the boys don't fit into these, or don't react well to this brand), a bag of toys that have a home on a shelf across the way (space is already set aside for that, I just have trouble making it over there, physically, right now due to my huge belly), and burp clothes and swaddlers that will also get a home on that shelf in a bin (so I can easily grab them when feeding).  But we managed to get everything in that big, crammed car, onto our 36 foot sailboat without making our space unlivable.

We kind of rock.
Stay tuned for more nursery pictures, coming soon!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Nursery Update: Part 2

B1's been working very hard these last couple of weeks (in between work and the holidays!) getting the nursery ready for Jack and Bobby.  It's definitely tedious work, mainly because nothing is square!  In fact, one of the walls is completely curved, making it especially difficult to get the measurements just right.  But he did it, and it looks amazing.

When we last left you, the cabin looked like this:






B1 had just finished insulating the storage area, and building the platform where the boys will actually sleep.  To the left, you can see the curved wall I spoke of earlier.

Take a look at all of the progress he's made over the last week:
 
Insulation was measured and cut for the curved wall, and the back and side walls were created.  In addition, you can see the template for the piece which will hold the gate in place, once the boys are older.  (The pink wedge on the left.)
 
All three walls in place!  Look at that curved wall!
 Early last year I bought a bunch of marine grade vinyl to line our bedroom walls.  However, I miscalculated when measuring, and didn't buy enough, so it just sat in our storage unit waiting for a purpose.  Enter the babies!  B1 expertly (seriously-he did such an amazing job-no bubbles, ripples, creases-nothing!) covered the walls with said vinyl to create a softer space, and to give their "room" some much needed color.  Take a look:

Amazing, right?
We're really excited about how it's coming out.  We purchased some vinyl decals for decoration, in addition to some very cute fabric which will eventually cover the custom mattress that'll sit upon that wooden platform.  It won't be a traditional nursery for sure, but it'll be theirs, and we hope they'll love it.

For those of you worried about how they'll sleep in a "V" shaped crib-don't worry.  Their Mommy and Daddy sleep in a "V" shaped bed and do just fine.  It'll be all they know, and to them, it'll be normal.  B1 did so much (so much) research about standard crib size, height, depth, mattress firmness, and so on, that we're not worried about their comfort or safety in the first couple of years.  Once they start growing, that's another story.  But isn't that true of all babies in all homes?  :)

Here's a preview of what's coming next-the mattress. And my favorite part-decorating!

Jungle themed sheets-to-be.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Nursery: Before & During, Part 1

This weekend B1 began the tedious (but satisfying) work of cleaning, insulating and building the nursery in the aft cabin.  This previously neglected space was essentially used as our attic.  We stored anything and everything in here, including, at one point, our refrigerator.  It also doubled as our closet/dresser, as we kept all of our clothing (in plastic bins) in this space.  We plan on continuing to store our clothes in this manner, behind a false wall that B1 is building.

Here are a few before and "during" pictures:

The empty storage area, all cleaned up and ready for insulation.

Ta daaa!  Fully insulated storage space to help retain the heat in the winter and to keep it out in the summer.  There will be a wall up here to hide the storage bins.

Testing out the wood in the space soon to be a custom crib for two.  You can just see the storage area from the picture above on the right hand side of this picture, behind the wood panel.
B1 building the framing for the wall.
Framing for the "crib".

A little more insulation (replaced the mirrored door with insulation (pink), a mock up of the shelf and the custom cut crib platform.  There will eventually be three walls around this, and a gate in the front when they are older.

It's sturdy!
There's plenty more to do!  B1 will be working hard over the next couple of weeks to get everything ready for the boys' anticipated arrival.  I'll post more pictures as we progress.