The First Two Months: Part One

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I cannot believe it has already been two months since the twins were born! It truly feels like just yesterday I was waddling down the hospital hallway in soaked shorts, not-so-patiently waiting for Eli and Emry Jane to make their arrival. I tell people that the past two months have felt “like one very long day” because we have not really gotten the night sleeping thing down yet. I think about blogging often, but it has been very hard to find the time. I have decided to make use of the requirement to pump after each daytime feeding and type while the babies hang out in their swings.

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I bought those great monthly stickers on Etsy. Since I have not blogged in a while, I will post the 0-2 month pictures together. I hope that by the 3 month pictures I am back to posting more regularly.

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The twins do not always like to cooperate for pictures. We found that out when they were 3 weeks old and our newborn picture session took FIVE hours because they cried the whole time. It took 4 adults, SEVERAL backdrops (Emry kept pooping on them!) and a very long time to get just a few, though awesome, photos.

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IMG_1143IMG_1182They are getting better at looking at the camera, though! They will grow up just like Noah, thinking they have their own paparazzi, with as many pictures as I (and others!) take of them 🙂 Since I am combining the first two months into a single post, I am going to divide our experience thus far into a few different categories: scheduling, eating, sleeping and playing.

Scheduling

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Before the twins were born, I researched the Moms On Call schedule and bought the app for my phone. According to the schedule, my babies would start nursing every 3 hours by about 2 weeks old. I do not know whether to blame the fact that our sweet babies arrived early or my inability to listen to them cry but Eli and Emry Jane would NOT go three hours between feedings those first two months. Emry probably would have, since I have to wake her up for most feedings, but NO WAY would Eli go more than 2 and a half hours. I am a TYPE A, let’s have everything organized planner… and the twins are laughing in my face about it (not really laughing yet, but smiling!) Every time I think we might have this “schedule” thing figured out, something throws us for a loop. Why even bother with a schedule for the twins you might ask? Well, there are some constants that we have to feed around. For the first two weeks of school, the twins SCREAMED the whole time we were in the car because they were hungry. Either they thought it was time to eat and I had not fed them yet or I had to interrupt their feeding to stuff everyone in the car. By God’s grace, Noah has not been late to school yet but every morning is a struggle. I cannot use the suggested 6, 9, 12, 3 format of the Moms on Call schedule because we have to meet Noah at the bus stop between 3:05-3:10, which means more screaming from hungry babies. Our newest schedule attempt is 5, 8, 11, 2, which gives us enough time for the babies to have full bellies before we cart Noah to and from school … and maybe, just maybe have a family dinner at 6. This, of course, makes Noah’s 8 o’clock bedtime very chaotic but nothing is going to be perfect. As long as Mommy can nurse and read bedtime stories at the same time everyone is happy, right?

Eating

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Daddy giving Emry Jane one of her first bottles (before we switched to Avent bottles)

So far, the twins have been exclusively breastfed. The song “Under Pressure” comes to mind as I type this because in no way has nursing the twins been easy! If I had a dollar for each time that I thought about quitting, I would have, well, at least 20 dollars. Ha! The pressure that I feel to breastfeed is totally from me, not others telling me that I need to keep at it. I have been told numerous times that “the ability to breastfeed twins is rare” and I “have nursed them for the most crucial amount of time, when they need the most antibodies from me” so it would be OK to stop, but I am stubborn enough to keep at it for now — praying daily that it will get easier soon!

The babies lost 10% of their birth weight before my milk came in, which meant they needed supplemented feedings to help them gain weight. I was set against using formula if I could make enough milk, so I have put my Medela Pump-in-Style Advance to work! With the exception of a one-week sabbatical/experiment at 5 weeks, I have pumped after most daytime feedings. Our average nursing session looks like this… I nurse for 50 minutes to an hour. Emry Jane nurses for about 35 minutes (pre-reflux) and falls asleep and Eli nurses for 45-50 minutes. Then, I pump, getting out an ounce or two from each side. THEN, I give them pumped breast milk. We started with a half an ounce when they were little bitty and are now up to 1.5 – 2 ounces. Emry has gained weight like a champ and no longer requires the supplementing, though she thinks she needs a bottle if her brother gets one. Eli only gains the minimum half an ounce a day, so he still requires the bottles of milk after each daytime nursing session. Right now, he gets between 6-8 ounces of milk from a bottle per day, in addition to nursing every 2.5 to 3 hours. Start to finish, I spend at least an hour and half feeding/pumping then get an hour “break” before starting again… See why I think about quitting?! I have been promised by the pediatrician that the babies will become more efficient eaters as they get older, so I keep at it.

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A picture of them holding hands while nursing 🙂

Emry gave up the nipple shield around 6 weeks, but Eli still needs a nipple shield to help him latch. I tandem nurse them (at the same time,) using my Twin Z nursing pillow. I wake one at night when the other wakes, so they will nurse together. We still use the Avent newborn bottles, though Emry Jane makes a huge mess when eating from the bottle. She leaks out the sides of her mouth and spits out milk the second you pull the bottle away– she definitely prefers the breast. Eli leaks when nursing with the nipple shield…and nurses VERY slow, but he does great with the bottle. He still eats slow from the bottle, but manages to hold all the milk in his mouth that way.

Until seven weeks, the twins were tandem nursing at every feeding. It was slow, but it was working. Then, Emry Jane started having more and more symptoms of reflux. She would nurse less, only 6 to 8 minutes at a time, then she would start arching her back and screaming. She also started spitting up a lot more often and drooling quite a bit. I tried to burp her often during feedings but it did not help– she started refusing to tandem nurse. I think the football hold position made her reflux worse. She preferred to nurse side by side or upright under my breast when I was walking around or really reclined on the glider. All three of these positions kept them from being able to nurse together, so one would cry while the other nursed. Emry would cry because she was hungry and could not eat comfortably. Eli would cry, not because he was hungry but because he was not being held. We were all miserable. Emry Jane started Zantac at 8 weeks and that has helped control the spit up a little. She still nurses significantly less than her brother, about 15 minutes max, but is still been gaining weight like a champ (a full pound heavier!) so she must be getting what she needs.

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Feeding Eli and comforting Emry — during the worst of our reflux hell week

Emry Jane’s erratic nursing took a toll on my milk supply. We went through most of our freezer supply of milk. I have tried several things to help build my supply. My mom made me yummy lactation cookies before she left. She made a freezer batch too, so I bake a few every few days. I am not convinced that they work well, but they taste good. Ha! I also started a fenugreek supplement. I am currently taking the “More Milk” supplement by MotherLove. I think the supplement and constant pumping have helped. I am slowly rebuilding my freezer supply of milk.

I will work on our First Two Months: Part Two (sleeping and playing) tomorrow. For now, it’s back to feeding the babies 🙂

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