Monday, August 30, 2010

Operation Night Owl: the first battle

You guys are awesome. Truly. I soooo appreciate the sympathy and tips. I've been here before with Bean, and I have no problem dishing out my own "assvice" on the subject, but for some reason I feel completely clueless right now.

So I decided to be a bit more active in sleep training (instead of just crossing my fingers and complaining about it), and take the advice of myself, you, and the wise Dr. Weissbluth. I came up with a loose plan. Oh, and just for reference -- Gax sleeps in a crib in our bedroom, and Nix sleeps in a crib in the nursery.

*Down to bed between 7-7:30 pm.
*Dreamfeed at 10 pm. (ie. Nurse them without really waking them.)
*At 12 am awakening, DH comforts Gax and my Dad comforts Nix so there is no temptation to nurse. Cry-it-out (CIO) for whichever baby(ies) won't settle for the men.
*At 2 am awakening, feed them.
*After that, see what happens...

The first two steps went off without a hitch. Then Gax woke at midnight, just as we anticipated. DH bounced him on the exercise ball for 5 minutes, and he (Gax, not DH) fussed the entire time. DH put Gax down in his crib... and much to my COMPLETE shock, he (Gax, not DH) fell asleep after just a few minutes of fussing.


Then Gax slept until 3 am, at which time he was hungry and I was happy to nurse him. He then returned to sleep until 7 am.

DOUBLE MIRACLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know tonight may be more difficult because sleep training is never linear, but that made me one happy mama. I will take that schedule any time!

Unfortunately, things were not so easy with Nix. Now let me say first that letting Nix CIO is pretty much the hardest thing ever. (I know it's incredibly painful for any parent to let their kid CIO, but I mean even relative to that.) I love my dear Gax, but that kid is a Fussy McFusserpants all the time anyway, so we are used to hearing him cry/fuss when whenever we dare put him down to use the bathroom or eat lunch. Nix, on the other hand, rarely gets upset unless he is hungry or tired. And he lets out this sweet, mournful cry that makes the depths of your soul weep in sympathy.

So anyway, before we went to bed, I instructed DH and my Dad that a midnight wake-up would be NO NURSING, and a 2 am wake-up would be YES NURSING. Of course Nix decides to sleep just over 3 hours and wake us at 1:15 am. Which category did that fall in? I couldn't let the poor kiddo CIO at that point, so I fed him. He then continued the every-three-hours schedule, and I fed him each time. Hey, it was an improvement over the every-two-hours schedule, right??


Not sure what will happen tonight, please wish us luck.

Operation Day Dreamin' is hitting a few bumps. Overall, the twins are not bad nappers. Individually they have lots of good days and some not-so-good days, complicated by the fact that our lives are busier now than when Bean was 4-5 months old and I could easily stay home every time he needed to sleep. My problem is trying to gently push their naps together so we don't end up with at least one infant up at all times. There are rare occasions where it's uncanny, they will separately wake up from their naps within a minute of each other, and then they are ready for the next naps around the same time. But sometimes one (Gax) will sleep for 60 minutes and the other (Nix, natch) for 120 minutes, then they are completely off for the rest of the day. I don't want to wake up Nix after only 60 minutes, but keeping Gax up until Nix is ready for his next nap is a complete nightmare (and pretty cruel). We deal the best we can, but I'd be curious to hear if anyone has a suggestion for this. Will it just come with time?

Now a few random tidbits.

Nix got his first tooth last week! It's sooo cute, peeking through his tiny gums. Unlike my other two kiddos, Nix is a quiet teether. Our main indication was the constant drool seeping across our shoulders when we held him. Congrats to my sweet little man!

Lisa so kindly asked for an update on my parents' house hunt. They found a second place they liked, a well-priced home on a beautiful golf course. There were two other offers, and my parents lost to a full-price cash offer. DANG! So the search continues, and DH and I are in no hurry to have them leave us. (Meanwhile, on the first house they bid on that they lost when the seller got a bit greedy and went with a higher bidder with less secure financing, that deal fell through and it's now marked down almost $20K. Who's sorry now, lady!)

I am woefully behind on blog reading and commenting, I am so sorry. I've gotten in a vicious cycle of not reading because I want to wait until I have two hands free to comment... but that *rarely* happens anyway, so I don't even read... and now I have 440+ unread posts in Google Reader. I apologize for being MIA on your blog, but I have now decided to just read anyway instead of spending all my time online stalking new wraps that I don't need (but would totally use and love, DH!), and I'll just have to suffer when you say something brilliant and I want to say YES! or I'M WITH YA, SISTA! (because I always say that) but I can't because I'm nursing and that still takes at least one hand because I'm not that coordinated.

Speaking of blogs, my 3rd blogoversary is coming up in about two weeks. I know, I know... you are wondering what to get me! See that little counter on the top left side that says I have 81 followers? If you read my blog but haven't signed up there yet, I would love to hit 100. It's kind of OCD thing, I guess. I want to say it would help me sleep better, but yeah, probably not at this point. And also to celebrate, I'm going to try to put together a collection of fun Seattle things and then have a giveaway. (I make no promises, however... things are a leeeeetle crazy around here right now.) You spend time reading what I write and leaving me insightful and supportive comments, and I appreciate it!

And finally, because you've all been so much help with sleep advice, I need your help deciding what stroller to get. WAIT! Don't tell me yet, let me outline what I'm looking for. But stop by in a couple of days and I'll post about it. It'll be fun, like House Hunters on wheels -- and without the Asian lady's voiceover.


Friday, August 27, 2010


I'm waving the white flag, crying "uncle," they sunk my battleship.

There's a reason that sleep deprivation is a form of torture. If the twins wanted any government secrets from me, I would now be prepared to turn. If only it were that easy! But all they want is the comfort of nursing all. night. long.

And that's what they get.

They have been waking five times per night for a relatively brief taste of the milky goodness, plus one more 4:45 am-ish waking where they request the pleasure of our company for an early morning party for 30-60 minutes before they will return to sleep.

So throughout the night, the longest I get to sleep is about 90 minutes.

Since having Bean, I've slowly adjusted my ability to operate on choppy sleep; if I can get 2.5 hours at a time, I actually feel pretty normal. (Well, post-baby normal, which as any mother knows is a completely different standard.)

But this -- this completely unacceptable and unsustainable pattern -- has been going on too long now. Weeks. Months? I have lost track. When I get up in the morning, I am bawling as I hand a baby to one of my parents in complete exhaustion.

I can't go on. I can't be a mother -- I can't be a human -- like this anymore.

I don't really know what to do. I have posted on my mothering boards, pleading for advice. I've gotten some good tips and some great sympathy. But sadly, we remain locked in place.

At first I wondered if they were truly hungry. Because of course I want them to have milk, I couldn't live with myself if they were starving. But at this point, I think they just lack the ability to put themselves to sleep. They cry for my comfort, they latch, they suck until letdown, a few more sucks, and zzzzzzzzzzz. Then we have to burp that first baby, make sure he is asleep enough to transfer into the crib, and wake the second baby for the same ritual.

Bean was the same way when he was a tiny tot. But the difference between having one sleepless infant and two is like the difference between a deep paper cut and a bullet wound. Sure, one is annoying and painful, but the other you aren't sure if you'll survive. I have actually spent some time when I'm nursing them trying to think of ways I could put myself in a coma without dying to get a good month or two of blissful unconsciousness.

Poor DH is suffering too. He isn't awake quite as much as I am because he doesn't do the actual breastfeeding part, but he is disturbed way too frequently as well. Then he gets up at the butt crack of dawn for work and has to be productive. Plus he hates that I'm so upset, he gets protective of me that way. You know it's bad when I woke up recently to three of my beloved maple bars on the kitchen counter with a note:

At this point, I'm really at a loss as to what to do. Like I said, I've tried a lot and failed a lot. I'm feeling like a totally craptastic mother at this point. Yes, I realize having twins is ridiculously hard no matter who you are unless you are Angelina Jolie, who seems to find raising multiples as effortless as tripping over a rock. But we are approaching 5 months, and many other twin moms I've talked to have pulled themselves together better than I have by this point. I seem to be the lone idiot who cannot get the twins on any sort of coordinated sleeping schedule. During the day, it's a free-for-all. I am dead serious, the other day they literally operated on opposite schedules. Within 30 seconds of one going down for a nap, the other woke up. All day, not even a 5-minute break with both babies down. We absolutely could not believe they had the skill to do that. I guess it's true that twins can communicate telepathically. Sometimes for good, and other times, for evil.

Earlier this week we decided to load them up with formula before bed, which after reading my previous post you know was hard for me. But we were desperate for sleep and hoped this would allow us some recovery because they wouldn't be hungry as quickly. It seemed to help at first, we got a single 3-hour stretch out of them. Hooray! The next night we did the same thing. This time? Nope. Back to 2 hours. In fact, I think it was even less than that.


I am not a fan of cry-it-out, but we've reached a critical point here. It may be time. The other option is spending $250+ to chat with a sleep consultant for a couple of hours, there were some recommended on a recent thread at

Step one: Figure out how to make twins sleep.

Step two: Call myself a "sleep consultant" so I can charge the same rate as a lawyer but not need any sort of education.

And now, to rescue this post from any further whining, here are some pictures!

A blessed junxtaposition to my state of mind, Bean has somehow managed to become even happier, sweeter, and cuter.

He helped Bumpa wash his car. I swear he has more focus and a longer attention span than I do.

He and his friend Em get their creative groove on.

Building garages for his cars with Grandma is one of his favorite activities. This kid is definitely a boy!

"Again with the crying?"

"Oh stop, Bumpa, you're just too hilarious!"

Both twins are showing signs that they are ready for solid food.

Bean does not have the monopoly on cuteness in our household.

Gax absolutely adores the exersaucer, it's the only way we get 15 minutes without holding him. The way he launches himself around in there is hysterical. Here is the best way I could capture it with a still camera:

My Mom has now ventured into both babywearing and co-sleeping. She's only lived in Seattle for a few months and she's already a hippy.

Evey has mastered the "if you ignore them, they'll stop bothering you" method of dealing with our annoying behavior. Ride 'em Elmo!

Nix thinks that this wrap purchase was completely reasonable and an excellent deal, considering I bought it used.

ETA: I posted this last night before bed, went upstairs and nursed them, and they promptly slept 4 solid hours. Trying to make me look bad. Punks.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Breastfeeding twins: the woes and the whys

When I was pregnant with the twins, I was incredibly anxious about nursing them and very much appreciated every post I could find about a mom's experience doing so. Now that we are in the throes, I thought I'd do a little post of my own in the hopes of helping someone else. Or maybe you are just curious, like the woman in the mall elevator the other day who asked how I do it and looked at my chest like she expected to see giant watermelons or something. (And in case you are wondering, NO, I am not sporting giant watermelons. More like reasonable-sized mangoes.)

I have a brief disclaimer: obviously this is only my experience. As with singletons, other twin moms can -- and no doubt do -- have a completely different set of challenges and rewards. Just like with all pieces of advice you get when you have a new baby, certain things will fit and others won't. In some ways, nursing twins has been easier than I expected, and in other ways more difficult. You never know until you do it!

Let's start with the woes.

- Frequent feedings. Without question, I am making enough milk for both boys, proven by their excellent measurements at the pedi recently and the obscene amount of diapers in our trash bin. But I have on my hands a couple of snackers who each nurse about 11 times a day. For those of you who aren't earning a PhD in math like my cousin, that means I am nursing 22 times per day. And seeing as there are only 24 hours in a given day... yeah, that's a lot. Fortunately, as snackers, they don't spend a lot of time at the boobie bar for each feed. Just long enough for me to hop online to stalk the woven wrap I am craving educate myself on wordly issues.

- Less sleep. If anything about breastfeeding twins has the power to break me, it's the added sleep deprivation. Wow. My milk supply tends to be pretty low in the evenings, and breastmilk is digested faster than formula, which works against me as I struggle to get more than 1-2 hours of sleep at a time. Some nights are better than others; at my worst, I was sobbing in exhaustion as I walked down the stairs in the morning, and at my best, I actually have a decent amount of energy during the day. Of course caffeine makes the twins wig out, so I am on my own in that department. But it's nothing a good moisturizer and eye cream can't fix. And as Bean has proven, it will get better. Hopefully soon. Please.

- I'm constantly on duty. It can be overwhelming to nurse one child sometimes. You just want to have some time for yourself, to finish a task you are doing around the house and let your partner or parents take the child for a while. With twins, it's two times the obligation for me to always be there to offer milk when they need it. I can't take a break for more than an hour or two around the clock, because soon it'll be time to feed again. Which falls entirely on me. Constantly. Around the clock. Phew.

- Much harder to pump a stash. This is a side effect of the first woe, the frequent feedings. And again, this is only my experience -- if you want to see a true professional in the Nursing and Pumping for Twins arena, look no further than Miss MVK. But for me, feeding so much and not having an abundant supply, I find it exceedingly difficult to pump milk so I can leave two bottles for any brave soul who would watch the boys for me, or for someone else to take a night feeding for me. This also means that in the fall, I'll probably have to leave my mom with a bottle of formula for each twin while Bean and I attend our co-op preschool on Friday mornings. Not the end of the world, but still, frownie face.

- Boobie burnout. My final goal when breastfeeding Bean was 12 months. When we hit that point, he wasn't nursing all that much anymore and we were both enjoying it so we kept going. He weaned himself at 18 months when my milk changed due to the pregnancy with the twins. I also plan to nurse Nix and Gax for 12 months. But when we hit that point this time, I'm just not sure I'll have it in me to keep going. Many women do, and maybe by then I won't be feeling as consumed with nursing. But at this rate, I anticipate being burned out and wanting to transition them to cow's milk. It makes me sad to think of weaning them before they are completely ready.

- The bottomless (stomach) pit. I have never in my entire life experienced such insatiable hunger as I have since I started nursing the twins. Oh. My. God. I can down an entire huge meal and need a snack an hour later. And every evening I have to pack myself a sandwich, drink box, and pop tarts (must have the pop tarts) to eat overnight like I'm taking a lunch to middle school. And of course I crave carbs, yummy glorious beautiful CARBS! A friend said, "Well, as long as you are eating healthy complex carbs, you're okay." But no. I like my carbs simple and straightforward, like a donut. Or licorice. Or chocolate. Which definitely ties into my next woe...

- Holding on to baby weight. You will often hear breastfeeding touted for helping moms shed baby weight quickly. Not by me. Sure, it works for many women. But I am one of the lucky few who actually hold on to 10ish pounds of extra weight while breastfeeding. When Bean stopped nursing, I dropped much of it almost instantly. I'm hoping it works double for twins, because I could easily stand to lose 20 lbs right now. Why this extra weight, you ask? I've heard it's a primitive biological thing, like if there's some sort of famine then my body can utilize the fat to still make milkies for the munchkins. Fortunately, I have an endless supply of donuts, licorice, and chocolate. Unfortunately, no one told my belly, butt, and thighs. Or wait, that sounds backwards...

- Mo' milk, mo' problems? I could be completely all wet with this one, but it seems that with double the demand, there is more room for problems to pop up. Supply for one, of course. I have been on a steady diet of fenugreek since the boys were born, so thanks to the maple-syrup scented side effect I always smell like I just finished a double shift at Denny's. I also have a recurring clogged duct. It stays away if I keep up with 1200 mg of lecithin daily, but when I run out of it, the clog returns. Then I have to send my dad to the store at 7 am to get more. *ahem*

Now the whys.

- Healthier. While the specifics of the health advantages of breastmilk over formula are hotly debated by both sides, I have not poured enough over scientific peer-reviewed studies to claim to know all the specifics. But I do believe that what I can provide naturally is the healthiest option. And let's face it, by the time they are Bean's age, they'll be clamoring for Chicken McNuggets just like their older brother. He actually walked into Taco Bell the other day, pointed to a family eating their meal, and said, "Hey, they are sitting at our table!" So for now, it makes me feel good that I can give them the best nutritional start possible.

- Bonding. This is especially important when you have twins. With three small boys, it's hard for me to get one-on-one time with each of them. But being the sole provider of mommy milk, I am assured to see each twin separately. And in addition to being online to stalk the woven wrap I am craving educate myself on wordly issues, I also spend time gazing down at them. I absolutely adore when Gax pauses to give me a big grin between gulps. Makes a mom's heart melt into goo.

- Money savings. Are you sitting down? To provide twins with formula for an entire year, you can expect to spend between $2600 and $4400. *gasp* Sure, there is some cost associated with breastfeeding. (Our insurance bought me a brand new $300 Medela Pump in Style without so much as a copay, check before you purchase one yourself!) Even with random accessories like nursing bras, a cute nursing cover, bottles for pumping, nipple soothies, etc., we are still saving loads of cash. More than enough to purchase that woven wrap I am craving. Oh come on DH, you know I'll get it eventually anyway!

- Convenience. I know, it's a strange point to end on, following all the "woes" about how much work breastfeeding twins can be. But there is a wonderful convenience built in that I don't have to clean any bottles, nor pack any formula when we go out. If a baby gets hungry, BAM! there's the milk. And no bottle prep in the middle of the night when they get hungry. Especially as they get older and nurse less frequently all around, it gets super duper easy peasy. Quick meals, instant soothing after inevitable baby boo boos, and no U-Haul necessary to tote diaper bag for all three boys when we go out. Awesome!

Obviously the woes outnumber the whys in my little list, but the weight of the whys is immeasurably greater to me. (Try saying that five times fast...) I know some women can't produce the supply necessary for twins, and my heart goes out to mamas who have not been physically able to meet their personal goals. I will forever be grateful that producing milk is one thing my body does not completely suck at (pun intended). The sacrifices that I have to make in order to give my boys breastmilk now is such a short chapter in the overall story of their lives, but has the potential to help them forever. They will wean soon enough (too soon?) and I'll be free to ask my parents to take them for a few weeks days hours so I can linger in the grocery store or escape to the mall for some retail therapy -- our nursing relationship will be just a fading memory. In the meantime, I am so proud to see them thrive on breastmilk, and I try to enjoy our snuggles every time they eat, even when it's midnight, 2 am, 4 am, and 6 am.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

4 months old (or: Aren't they supposed to be sleeping better by now?)

The twins had their 4-month check up with the pediatrician today, and it went well. Stats:


Height = 25 1/2 inches (75th percentile)
Weight = 14 lbs 13 oz (50th percentile)
Head = 43 1/2 cm (75th percentile)


Height = 24 1/2 inches (45th percentile)
Weight = 15 lbs 7 oz (60th percentile)
Head = 41 1/2 cm (25th percentile)

So our little Gaxers (also nicknamed "Bulldog" by Grandpa J.) has surpassed his older-by-two-minutes-and-a-pound-and-a-half-heavier bro in the weight category. Although in fairness, I did feed him right before the weight check, but Nix not until afterwards, so there's a few ounces exaggerated in their difference. They'll be an interesting pair if they continue at this rate: Nix will be tall and thin with a big head, and Gax will be short and stocky with a small head. At least I rarely have to answer the question, "So are they identical?" Or my personal favorite, asked by a sweet elderly man at the grocery story, "Are they maternal or fraternal twins?"

Other things: Nix still has a slightly lopsided head but it's not severe enough to warrant a helmet. WOO HOO!! He's also got a tooth getting ready to pop through. Gax has some baby eczema on his arms so we're going to treat it with Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy lotion and Eucerin Baby Aquaphor. They both took their vaccines like champs. And finally, they are genius babies who have surpassed any measures of adorable that previously existed.

Changing subjects for a moment, I am working on an updated post on breastfeeding twins. If you have any questions you'd like me to address in it, please let me know in the comments!

Now to the good stuff, pictures.

Bean practices for his So You Think You Can Dance? debut by breaking it down to "Hammer Time." Now I just need to find hammer pants in a 2T.

The Three Amigos. I never have any idea what they are doing, but they always seem to be having a good time.

What's the point of having twins if you don't dress them in sarcastic onesies?

Bean gives the camera a sweet smile. (Yes, Alisa, that &$%!#@ Buzz Lightyear shirt is plaguing me again.)

Grandma gives Bean his first chocolate bar...

...but she balances out her influence by promoting early literacy.

While his twin bro is more content to hold in-depth conversations with the stuffed octopus hanging from his playmat, Gax focuses more on the physical milestone of rolling over. The before:

The after:

This cuteness is the reason I forgive them for getting me up every 1.5 hours all night long.

Gax is enthralled by the plastic scarecrow on his stationary bouncer.


Sunday, August 1, 2010