5 Months Since Homecoming

I just realized that as of yesterday it's been 5 months since we took the twins home from the NICU on Christmas Day. River was still only 5 pounds and Riley was a teeny thing at 3lbs 15oz. Now they are both close to 14 pounds each! Their journey, thus far, has been nothing short of amazing...

I put the pics of them coming home in their car seat next to ones we took today. I made sure the seats in the pics are the same size as the comparison one. I can't believe they were so tiny when we brought them home!! :-O

Life as a Mommy

It's been over six months since I became a Mommy and I already feel like I've learned so much. I've truly grown as a person. Because of the twins I hold my behavior to the highest standard and continually strive to be the very best version of myself. I have more patience than I never had before. I find joy in the simplest of things. I can function pretty darn well on very little sleep. It's like I've been reprogrammed as a stronger, more efficient human being. And surprisingly, while my days are probably more taxing than ever before, I am less stressed. 

I've learned new ways to have fun. Something as simple as hearing the twins giggle can make my whole day. Going out dancing has been replaced with bopping around the house entertaining the babies with their favorite, "The Mommy Show." I spend most of the day on the floor playing with them and doing their exercises to help them develop and grow strong. My idea of a relaxing read takes place in the middle of the night after they've been fed and are sitting upright for a bit due to reflux, and it's usually articles about parenting and child development. 

I've learned that you can't really nap when they nap. In those few precious moments they sleep during the day, that's when I scramble to sterilize and prep bottles, clean the house, and tackle the never-ending piles of laundry. 

I've learned that I will no longer come first when it comes to anything. Showering is a luxury that usually has to wait until hubby gets home and dinner has been made. I've gone days without brushing my hair, but it's okay as long as the twins are clean, fed and happy. Their happiness & health = mine. 

I've learned to not be so easily grossed out. I used to look at babies and shiver to think about changing diapers and wiping drool. Now it's not a day if I don't get thrown up on, poop on my hands, or drool on my face (not my own!). Hell, over the past few days alone I've been puked on. Twice. Like Projectile vomit down my bra. Drooled on to the point of being soaked. Had diarrhea shoot out at me and all over the changing table and blankets. And my neck peed on. I'm officially a burp cloth/diaper hybrid. I frequently smell butts and get excited when the babies have a normal poop. I pick noses, suck out snot, clean pacifiers with my mouth, and occasionally have to use my hand to wipe spit up. Not only am I not grossed out, I love every minute of it!

I've learned to multitask like never before. For me that word used to mean walking and texting at the same time or having a dozen tabs open on my computer. Now multitasking is more like prepping dinner and sterilizing bottles while holding a baby. Or feeding two suddenly super cranky, hungry babies at once. Or doing lunges and squats while folding laundry. Or, in this case, writing a blog post with one hand on my phone while feeding a baby in the middle of the night!

I've learned to be more organized. When you're suddenly responsible for twice the amount of people there's a whole lot more stuff to keep track of. When I bring the babies over to someone's house it looks like we're moving in! I've also learned not to be so hard on myself when things get a bit disorganized at times or when I don't get as much done as I would have liked. Whereas I used to make a list of chores to get done for the DAY I've come to realize it's more likely going to take a WEEK to get through.

I've learned to be a better wife. Since the babies arrived, my hubby has stepped up to the plate more than I ever could have ever dreamed possible. He has been completely hands on with the twins since we had them and takes pride in being a good father. He devotes his free time to playing with them even when he's had a long day at work and feeds them during the night on weekends so I can get some sleep. He's truly been wonderful. I know not all men are like that so I am incredibly grateful to have such an amazing husband & father to the twins. And because of this I am so appreciative for all he does that I try to let it show in everything I do. From cooking, to cleaning and being the best wife and mommy I possibly can. Which, in turn, has made him appreciate me even more. We no longer sweat the small stuff and look at everything in more of a "bigger picture" kind of way. Becoming a Mommy has change me for the better, making me a softer, more patient and nurturing wife. The days can seem long when it's just me and the twins and we only get a small window of time with Daddy. I cherish those few short hours like a precious gem. 

Having the twins has changed my life, and myself as a person. Like a caterpillar to a butterfly, when they were born it's like I shed my former self and emerged someone completely different. Ready to spread my wings and fly into my new role and wrap them around my family to protect them. It was as if all past wrongs were suddenly made right and I was at once made whole. Complete. At peace. Each day since has been one learning experience after another, filled with more love, joy and poopy diapers than I could have ever imagined. And for that, I am truly grateful.

First Time Getting Sick

Well, it finally happened. The poor little twins are sick. It started on Monday with Riv looking a bit pastier than usual. That and a runny eye. I didn't think much of it at first because with me having terrible allergies, I think he takes after me as he tends to get sneezy/runny from time to time, especially when we go outside. But couple that with him being a bit less smiley than usual and napping more throughout the day and I knew something was off. He started to sound a little congested by the end of the day. I checked and he didn't have a fever so I just kept an eye on him. Riley on the other hand had NO symptoms of any kind and was her usual bright and cheery self all morning. She was a bit fussy at her development appointment and napped longer than usual, but I figured she was just tired. But when I picked her up to hold her later in the afternoon she felt super hot. They both tend to feel like a mini furnace and it's happened before where I think they feel hot then take their temps only to find they are normal. So you can imagine my surprise when this time the thermometer flashed red at 102! I took it 2 more times just to be sure. Not good!

So I called triage at the pediatrician's office and relayed what was going on and they told me not to worry, that she didn't need to go in just yet. She explained that they don't necessarily look at the numbers anymore with a fever, they are more concerned about behavior. It is more of a problem for a baby with only 100 degree temp who is limp and lifeless, not eating or producing way diapers than it is a baby with a higher temp and no changes in normal behavior patterns. So that made me feel a lot better. They told me if anything changes, we can always come in first thing in the morning.

Both babies went to sleep early that night. About two hours later, Riley woke up babbling like she never has before. She wasn't crying, she was yakking away as if she was trying to tell us something wasn't right. She felt like she was on fire, and sure enough her fever was back with a vengeance. When the thermometer flashed red "103.5" my first instinct was to panic. But I didn't. We brought her in the living room, gave her infant acetaminophen (we use Little Remedies brand instead of Tylenol, as it has no artificial additives or dyes) and stripped her sleeper off. We sat her in her Boppy pillow between us and put cool rags all over her. Before long she stopped her strange babbling and began smiling and giggling at the things we were doing to distract her. 

Have you ever seen anyone with a fever look so darn cute and happy??

In the meantime I started researching like crazy. I found a lot if interesting information that really helped us remain calm and collected. For one, the old theory that a high fever (once it hits 104) cooks your brain was apparently debunked in recent years. In fact, fevers are now considered a "good" thing in that it's the body's natural way of killing off whatever bacterial/viral thing that's attacking their body and it is not recommended to go to Dr or hospital with a high fever unless it is accompanied by certain symptoms, the baby is under 3 months, or medicine/cool rags don't bring the fever down. Here are the guidelines they have now to follow:

Normal temperature – 97 to 99 degrees (36 to 37.2 Celcius).

Low-grade fever – 99 to 100.9 degrees (37.3 to 38.3 Celcius).

Common fever – 101 to 103.5 degrees (38.4 to 39.7 Celcius).

High fever – any fever over 103.6 degrees (39.8 Celcius).

Everything I read also stated that a fever between 101-103.5 that goes down with medicine is usually caused by something viral. So it would appear that whatever was going on with the twins was more than likely that.

For about 90 minutes we periodically checked her temp until it came down to 101.5. We then put her back to bed and continued to check whenever she was awake. By morning hers was down to 99.9 and Riv's was up to the same. You could tell just by looking at them (more so on River with his watery eye and pale color) that they weren't feeling their best. They napped throughout the day and were asleep more than awake (which was good for them to rest AND for mommy to get some chores done!). By this morning both of their fevers were gone and they were back to their smiley, happy selves. I think they were still fighting off the last of it all day as they slept off and on and weren't quite ready to go back to doing a lot of tummy time and exercises (But who can blame them!). Riley even took a 4.5 hour nap in the afternoon, which for her is very unusual considering she normally only takes cat naps throughout the day. So she really must have needed it. I feel like that's the time their bodies are healing. I do think the extra vitamins and supplements I add to their bottles has helped them fight the sickness quicker. In one of their bottles each day I put a liquid vitamin (with no artificial additives or dyes), infant probiotic and essential fatty acids (half a capsule). Here's a pic of each thing...

(Here's what's in that last one...)

Even though the slept a lot, they woke up more frequently throughout the night to feed and were a bit off schedule so I'm a bit exhausted but I guess that's just a day in the life of a Mommy! Anything for them to help them feel better. It's terrible seeing them not feeling well. We went to a huge outdoor event over the weekend (I was performing with my dance group there) and it was really crowded. We were very careful and protective but I guess when these a lot of people around you can't always block everything that's airborne. But as even the doctor has said, they are now at the point where they are bound to get sick occasionally and it's okay, it's how they build up their immunity. Still sucks to see them suffer!
I feel like I handled it all pretty well and did a good job of not flipping out when I easily could have. Everything has been a learning experience and now I feel I'm even better equipped for whenever they get sick again, which I'm sure will happen many more times throughout their lives!

Happy 6th Month Birthday!!

I can't believe the twins are 6 months old already! A half a year?!? No way it feels that long. Time is going by way too quickly! And I can only imagine it's just going to keep flying by at lightening speed. 

The Twins have grown so much in so many ways in such a short time. It's truly amazing to see their progress, which advances on a daily basis. In the matter of ONE day they go from not knowing how to do something to doing it all the time! For example, when they had their development evaluation neither of them were able to hold anything. When I found out it was something they should be able to do at this point I went home and worker on it with them and in only a few hours they had it figured out.

We had a few appointments for River's physical therapy where I learned some new tricks and ways to play with the babies along with exercises and stretches. It was mainly for Riv's Torticollis (stiff neck) but could be used interchangeably with Riley too, as she needs to gain some neck strength. So again, as soon as I went home after the first appointment I began working diligently with them to help move their development along and improve their strength. I learned a lot! Like Tummy Time doesn't just have to be done on their tummies. Right?!? I was amazed too! Just by holding them upright -or any position where they have to hold their heads up without support- counts for tummy time! Of course they still need to do SOME of it on their bellies to work their back muscles. But adding this to the mix (which we already were sitting them upright) really helped with having different positions to put them in to keep it fresh. Sometimes we lay them across our laps on their tummies or find other creative ways...

So I've been keeping the babies steadily active throughout the day (which definitely tires them AND Mommy out!) and it's apparently paid off! Here it is only a few weeks later from our first physical therapy appointment and Riv's latest evaluation the therapist said his Torticollis is gone!! Completely undetectable! Yay!!! Makes me feel so good to know I'm really making a difference. 

About two weeks ago they learned how to hold things we put in their hands, now they are reaching for and playing with toys while on their tummy time pillow. 

It's remarkable how fast they learn. River is definitely a little ahead of Riley, but she is leaps and bounds further than she was. He's a bit stronger and a lot more social. But she's getting there. And some of that may very well be personality. We shall see! It's fascinating to see them mold and change and become, well, little humans. That G and I CREATED... Still blows our minds!!!

They are also getting better at holding things with both hands!

Meanwhile Riley has been drooling like crazy...

And loves looking in the mirror...

And is actually playing with toys during tummy time!

River is still a charmer with that smile. He loves to kick things that hang from his activity mat and is getting quite good at picking up/holding toys...

And on occasion I can get him to actually giggle and it is the best sound in the world!

They are when holding their heads up better in their bath tub!

We fall in love with these two more and more every day. They are wonderfully exhausting and make me always be the best version of myself. I couldn't imagine life without them and look forward to all the exciting things to come!

Music with Mar.

Lately I've been looking into mommy and me type programs that the babies can go to once they're able to sit up on their own or even possibly sooner. I recently learned of a Mommy and Me type program called "Music by Mar" in our area and that it was free to infants under eight months so I looked into it. I found out they have one pretty close to our house and so I spoke with the lady who runs that location. She explained to me what it was all about and so I was really interested. Here is some info to explain what the program is about:

What makes “Music with Mar.” different?

Whereas some music classes focus on teaching to the little musician, Music with Mar. classes teach to the whole child using music. The child’s music abilities can be nurtured along with motor, social, language, safety and cognitive skills. A good music foundation for later on as well as an all around good academic foundation is laid out through the use of well thought out lyrics and movements.

Music with Mar. is a class where a caregiver and a child participate together in musical activities which enhance the four main areas of development-cognitive, social, motor and language.  (THE ADULT attending MUST be able to participate with the child for the child to get the full benefit of the program.)    A good music foundation, as well as an all around good academic foundation, is laid through the use of well thought out lyrics and movements.

Music with Mar. classes:

focus on the total development of the child, and not on musicality
know that children learn best through play and activation of many senses provide an environment where the parent and child are comfortable help children start to understand how to behave in this setting.

You know anything having to do with development and I'm sold! So this past Monday we tried it out! I came up with a way to bring both babies not need an extra hand. I brought that two Boppy pillows and stacked them next to me one on top of the of the other so I could put one of the baby is in the middle and they were able to sit upright easily with support. It worked brilliantly! 

There was about 15 people there with their kids ranging from ages 8 months to 2 years. Obviously they were all regulars as they knew all the songs. Apparently they do most of the same things each class and change up a little in the middle. A friend of mine brought her 2 month old and all three of our babies were wide eyed the entire time. Between the music, the people, the props, it was a lot of commotion so their brains must have been going haywire! In the beginning the instructor went around the room with a frog puppet singing a song where the frog says their name and each kid would respond in song as well. When they went up to River he looked terrified with a look of worry and a single tear running down his cheek. And he was the one sitting on my lap! I had flash forwards of him being afraid of Disney characters. When it was Riley's turn she was wide eyed with a huge smile on her face. So cute! My friend's baby seemed to like it too!

They brought out different things for kids and parents to play with for each song. One had us hitting sticks on each syllable of all the kids around the room. We marched with bell bracelets and danced in our seats moving the babies' arms and legs to the beat. While it was a little advanced for where the twins are at developmentally, I still think it is a valuable experience for them. Something new to make connections in their growing brains. So I'll definitely go back again. :-)

Here is the link to the company if you are interested in seeing if they have any classes in your area: