9 Months Old & Adventures in Brasil!

 

 

It is completely surreal that we are currently living in Brasil! The babies and I have been here exactly 2 weeks (of our 11 week stay), and Derek almost a month and a half into his 3 month rotation. So far, it has definitely been an adventure (as it should be!). Flying here, while stressful, went about as smoothly as it could have. My mom, Naomi, Norah, and I flew SEA-PDX-ATL-GRU. We had tight connections, but Delta came through for us. On the Portland to Atlanta flight, there were plenty of seats, so my mom and I were able to share a row! (There are only 4 oxygen masks per row, so usually only 1 infant in arms is allowed per row. However, if only 2 of the 3 seats are occupied, then you can have 2 infant in arms.) We met my dad in Atlanta and were not optimistic that we would get on a flight to São Paulo. However, we got lucky and 2 seats were available. My mom and I raced onto the plane at the last minute. We then sat at the gate for an hour while they finished loading luggage and fixed a toilet. My dad got on a flight a few hours later bound for Rio and then met us in São Paulo. The babies did pretty well on the flights. Naomi and my mom had aisle seats on the 9.5 hour flight to São Paulo and made friends with everyone walking by (including a little Brasilian girl who wanted to show off her stuffed animal). Norah and I were stuck in a middle seat, but the Brasilians around us were very nice and put up with Norah trying to steal their watches and bracelets. Unfortunately when we arrived in São Paulo, we found out our luggage had not arrived with us, but we were able to have it delivered the next day for a small fee. Derek and I are so thankful that my parents were able to make this journey with us; we truly could not have done it without them. My mom and Naomi are now best travel buddies!

 

 

Our first day in Brasil was just spent relaxing, and we quickly realized the importance of downloading an app (Viber or WhatsApp) so that we could all communicate! Our second day in Brasil, we decided to visit Parque Ibirapuera. Before heading over there, we stopped for lunch at a local  restaurant where we shared some delicious feijoada (bean stew with beef and pork). Derek said it was the best food he has eaten in Brasil! We took an Uber to Parque Ibirapuera. Uber has been amazing in Brasil, as they are readily available and fairly cheap! Parque Ibirapuera is like the Central Park of São Paulo. It is pleasant to walk around, as it is fairly shaded. There is a large lake in the middle, many play structures, soccer fields, bike paths, and a few museums.

 

 

Our third day in Brasil we visited the Catedral de Sé and the Centro district. The babies wanted to sing along during mass (especially when only the priest was talking). We briefly walked around the market in the Centro district and then ate a yummy Asian noodle dish and Chilean empanadas before heading home for the babies to nap. We went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner, where the babies were serenaded by a mariachi band. There was some confusion about the menu here, and we learned that rodízio means all you can eat. This was our last night with my mom and dad, who traveled to Rio for a few days before heading back to the U.S.

 

 

 

On the fourth day, the babies and I ventured out alone in order to visit Derek at work.  Up until this point, the babies had been struggling with sleeping. They didn’t get nearly as much sleep on the journey here as they usually do in a 24 hour period, and São Paulo is 4 hours ahead of Seattle. Plus, they are used to sleeping in a separate room! However, we finally seemed to turn a corner the 4th night and 5th day. It was definitely a rough couple days living in a 450 sq ft studio apartment with overtired babies who were crying for hours at bedtime and fussy during the day. We really needed more space, so we were counting down until we got to move into a bigger apartment on June 1. However, as seems to be the case in Brasil, it was a process. At first, the hotel seemed to have no idea that we were supposed to move. After many phone calls, emails, and conversations from me and an employee at EY, we were told we could move. I packed everything up the night before our move. On the morning of June 1, I was told we couldn’t move until after 5p, so I had to unpack some of the essentials for the babies. I went down to the front desk at 4:30 and was told that we actually couldn’t move until the next day because the room wasn’t ready. At this point we were quite frustrated, and EY began looking into other hotels for us. On the morning of June 2, I was told we could move in the afternoon. I explained that we needed to move between the baby’s naps, and I was assured that we could move at 12p. It seemed like the hotel just kept giving us what we wanted to hear instead of the truth, though… At noon, I received a call from the front desk asking if we were ready to move! Finally!!! Then a few minutes later I received a call back saying the room was still not ready! Derek and I went down to the front desk to see what the problem was. They said the room was not clean, which we didn’t understand as they had now had 36 hours to clean it! We said we didn’t care, we just needed to move. We finally got to move into our 667 sq ft room and everyone has been happier and slept much better!

 

 

On our second Saturday in Brasil, we went to the Zoologico São Paulo with some of Derek’s Brasilian and American co-workers. Norah and Naomi enjoyed the parrots, monkeys, and cats. That evening we went out to dinner (where we saw a nanny!) and then walked around the shopping mall until we found dulce de leite ice cream (the babies were sad that they didn’t get to eat any). On our second Sunday in São Paulo, Derek and I went to the Palmeiras futebol game with his co-workers, and the babies had their first non-relative babysitter. The soccer game was a very fun experience. The streets around the stadium were closed, so there was lots of tailgating with grilled street food, huge flags, cheering, etc. We were told that the babies did a great job for the babysitter. It is amazing what technology can do. I am part of a Seattle nanny Facebook group, and I asked there if anyone knew of babysitters in Brasil. Two women were able to put me in touch with relatives and friends here!

 

 

Norah and Naomi have graduated to size 3 diapers and weigh 7.2 kg (15.8 lb), which keeps them in the 8th percentile. They enjoy people watching on our balcony and plane watching at the pool. They also like the many floor length mirrors in our apartment and playing peekaboo. Norah and Naomi love mango and persimmon, but they are not big fans of broccoli. They have started to pull themselves to stand, and Norah likes when we help her stand and walk. She also loves splashing in the pool and practicing her yoga (especially downward dog). Naomi really likes eating necklaces (thanks Grandma…) and alternates army crawling and real crawling. They both are very curious and like to follow us around. Naomi has been fussy because she is teething (working on the top 4 teeth). Norah didn’t act like she was teething, but her upper right lateral tooth popped through on the 6th! They have been spoiled here. They get a lot more time with daddy, now that his commute is a 15 minute walk, and they are constantly being called “linda” (beautiful) by strangers, hotel staff, and friends.

 

 

 

 

8 Months Old!

Norah and Naomi are about 15.5 lb (moved up to the 7-10th percentile) and 27.5 inches tall (still around 52nd percentile). They still have blue/gray eyes and blonde hair, and they definitely know their own names now. It seemed like they did at 7 months, but we weren’t sure if they knew who was who and if it was just that they liked hearing mommy and daddy say a familiar word in a sing song voice.

Norah skipped army crawling, and went straight to crawling. She can even get from a crawling position to a sitting position. Both girls can now sit for long periods of time. Sometimes they forget about their balance and tip backwards instead of falling to the side. They are also now both belly sleepers. 

Naomi enjoys hair pulling, using Nala’s tail and paws as chew toys, and of course still bouncing. Norah likes saying daydaddadad, when Denali comes over for pets, and showing her excitement through flailing and kicking. They like playing with mirrors, rattles, and crinkle books, and they enjoy the sounds of their feet thudding and daddy making clicking and popping noises.

Their favorite foods are applesauce, bananas, pumpkin with nutmeg, blueberries, and baked squash. They also like picking up and eating puffs, cheerios, and teething biscuits.

7 Months Old!

Our little love bugs are definitely developing their own personalities! Norah enjoys snuggling mommy and daddy or just sitting in a chair and soaking in the world. She has started to get up on her hands and knees and rock back and forth. She wants to crawl so badly! Naomi is constantly moving. She enjoys her jumper or just bouncing while someone is holding her in a standing position. She has become a very fast army crawler, so we are glad our floors are now refinished and don’t provide any potential hazards.

After our 6 month appointment, we did the first baths in the bathtub without the baby bath. Both babies enjoy laying in the bath and kicking, and we can’t wait to take them swimming in Brasil! We also went on our first family run (puppies too of course!), after the pediatrician wasn’t concerned if they were in their carseats.

We tried our first foods – carrots, bananas, green beans, pears, avocados, kiwis, and apples. The girls have gotten better at opening their mouth for bites and are not as messy.

Right at the 7 month mark, Norah, Naomi, and mommy got to go on a mommy/baby vacation with 2 friends from birth class. We drove to Priest Lake, Idaho for a week. It was still quite cold, so there was no lake time! The girls decided they wanted to be like their friends, and both started sitting. Naomi can sit unassisted for a few minutes at a time, but both are still wobbly and need pillows behind them just in case!

Norah weighs 14 pounds 5 ounces, and Naomi weighs 14 pounds 6 ounces. Both moved from the 3rd percentile at their 6th month appointment into the 6th percentile at 7 months!

 

6 Months Old!

Hard to believe Norah and Naomi are closer to one than zero now! The doctor seemed positive about the babies’ stats during our appointment. She also gave us the go ahead to swim, run, and try solid foods! I was surprised that the babies didn’t weigh more. Naomi was 12 pounds 9 ounces (3rd percentile), 26.5 inches tall (78th percentile), and had a head circumference of 16 inches (7th percentile). Norah was 12 pounds 7 ounces (2nd percentile), 26.25 inches tall (70th percentile), and had a head circumference of 16 inches (7th percentile).

Earlier in the day, the girls got their ears pierced, so that I don’t have to keep painting Norah’s fingernails to tell them apart! Derek and I discussed this quite a bit, to make sure we were both okay with the decision. While it’s no worse than a shot, it is considered a procedure – so not a decision to make lightly. We have heard infant ear piercing can result in crappy looking piercings later because babies move around and have small ear lobes (the doctor said this is why they wait until 6 months to pierce). We also faced the challenge of actually finding a pediatrician that would do it. We did find a practice about 20 minutes away, and they were great. Norah and Naomi handled it like champions, only briefly crying. And now they look even more dazzling. We were surprised that they haven’t seemed to care about their new fancy earrings. It doesn’t bother them when I clean the earrings, and we haven’t had problems with the girls trying to pull at their new jewelry.

Norah & Naomi currently enjoy chewing on everything including our chins, noses, shoulders, etc. They like sticking out their tongues, playing with/eating their feet, standing and being airplanes (like always!). The girls have begun exploring our faces with their hands. They enjoy textures and scratching pillows, running their fingers through my hair and daddy’s beard, and smiling at everyone who talks to them. Our little ones are definitely growing and changing, as they can now make screeching noises, blow bubbles, and listen intently to us talk.

Naomi has begun army crawling much to my chagrin, as I was enjoying being able to leave them on their activity mat while I cooked, washed dishes, took a shower, etc. She has also just realized that she can cross her fingers. To add to the craziness of ear piercing and shots, Naomi also cut her bottom right tooth and the bottom left seems to be about the break through as well! What a 24 hours!

Norah the thumbsucker has adorably begun holding on to some fabric – her burp cloth, her sleeve, her bib, etc. – while sucking her thumb. She has some awesome sticking up hair and enjoys sucking on her bottom lip.

Now that we have told my employer, we can share our exciting news – we are spending 3 months in Brasil! We hope. Derek was selected to do a 3 month rotation in São Paulo, Brasil. After much research and discussion on health, safety, and costs, we decided the babies and I will join him for 2.5 months. While this is an amazing opportunity, it is not cheap or easy. We needed to figure out dog and cat care, buy tickets for me and the babies, figure out the costs of our housing situation in Brasil, get the girls passports, and get everyone visas. Getting baby passport pictures went better than I had feared and really their pictures look completely interchangeable. However, the visa process has been quite stressful, and we are still not 100% sure that we will get visas. The process requires many notarized documents, in person document delivery, and a hefty fee. We have heard that the process is difficult because they require Americans to do everything a Brasilian would have to do if they wanted to visit the U.S. Nonetheless, we are hopeful everything will work out and excited for this opportunity!

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4 Months Old!

So I am little late on this post, as Norah & Naomi turned 4 months about 2 weeks ago, but better late than never!

Derek was able to go to the 4 month doctor appointment with us. Our doctor was happy with the girls’ weight gains. Norah was 10 pounds 7 ounces, and Naomi was 10 pounds 8 ounces. This puts them in the 3rd percentile. They both were also in the 3rd percentile for head size. Naomi was 24.5 inches tall, a quarter of an inch taller than Norah. Thus, Naomi is in the 50th percentile for height, and Norah is in the 40th. We talked to our pediatrician about length of time it takes to feed the girls – 10 minutes of breastfeeding and then 30-40 minutes of bottle feeding. The pediatrician took a look at their mouths to make sure she didn’t suspect tongue or lip ties. She said that it appears they have high arches on their upper palates, but she didn’t think that should be causing their issues. At the doctor’s recommendation, we decided to go up to the size 2 bottle nipple. This may have been something we should have done earlier, as their spit up formula is thick, but I was concerned that a faster flow bottle would negatively impact breastfeeding. Because of our eating concerns, the doctor recommend that we wait on solids until Naomi and Norah can sit up better, and we figure out what is causing their feeding issue. Finally, our doctor heard a flow murmur in Naomi’s heart. She didn’t seem very concerned, said it was something to monitor, and thinner babies tend to have them. Michelle found out from her mom that Michelle also had a murmur as an infant.

As the girls started rolling, we had to drop the swaddle. We had tried to stop swaddling at 12 weeks because around 3-4 months the startle reflex isn’t as much of an issue, but it was a disaster, as they hadn’t yet figured out how to self-soothe. I found Norah on her belly twice in one night at 14 weeks – the week before we left for Cincinnati. We decided to do one arm out of the swaddle sack for 3 days, then both arms out of the swaddle sack for 3 days, and then zip up sleep sacks. The first couple days were pretty rough. Norah transitioned a little easier than Naomi because she figured out how to suck her thumb. Interestingly enough though, Naomi has become the belly sleeper and Norah still hates tummy time!

On Christmas Eve, we flew to Cincinnati to be with Michelle’s immediate family. We decided to check the car seats this time, and it made life so much better! The babies did pretty well on their two flights there. However, they were awful that evening from being overtired and overstimulated. Maybe they were also just too excited for Santa?! This was not the first impression we wanted them to give their aunt and uncles! The next day, they slept through Christmas mass and the opening of their presents to make up for it. It was wonderful to have Grandma and Papa babysit, so we could go visit my alma mater and have a movie/Skyline date. Even though they were now seasoned travelers, the girls struggled a bit on their second flight (the 7th flight of their short lives) home. It was an afternoon/evening flight, like their flight home from Kansas City, and I think this was part of the problem. By the time we got home at 11 on New Years Eve, everyone was ready to go to bed!

At 4 months, Naomi and Norah enjoy when we hold them so the can stand up and have dance parties, blowing bubbles, and giving big toothless smiles. Norah hates tummy time, and Naomi usually rolls onto her tummy shortly after being put in her crib. Sometimes she gets frustrated to wake up and find herself on her tummy, and we kindly remind her that she chose that position! For the record, we definitely think they are identical, as they seem to look more and more alike the older they get. It is still difficult to tell them apart, especially as their heights and weights get closer together. We are still painting a few of Norah’s nails, but we are counting down to the 6 month ear piercing appointment!

 

 

3 Months Old!

 

 

We are liking 3 months – more smiles, more sleep, more cooing, and no getting into mischief yet! It has been so much fun to watch the babies gain more awareness of the world around them. We are constantly amazed by Norah & Naomi! They enjoy spending time kicking and hitting the toys hanging on their play mat, listening to mommy and daddy sing, putting their hands in their mouths and each other’s mouths, trying to mimic our sounds, and looking out their window. We think they are just under 10 pounds. Naomi rolled over from tummy to back at 12 weeks, and Norah rolled from her back to tummy twice in one night at 14 weeks. Norah also is enjoying sucking on her thumb (although sometimes she struggles to figure out how to get it in her mouth!). The girls are doing 8-10+ hours between their last feed and the middle night feed, so 6.5-9 hour sleeps. However, the swaddle is the bane of my existence. While they have become experts at breaking out of their swaddles, they refuse to sleep unswaddled, so I usually have to reswaddle them at least once a night, if I want to go 9+ hours without feeding them. With Norah’s new found rolling talent, it’s now time to break this habit…

We were lucky that Darryl and June (Grandpa and Gigi) could spend Thanksgiving with us. The babies enjoyed getting to meet them and interrupting our dinners! We also appreciated that they made and froze food for future dinners.

A few weeks later, the babies got to visit with Grandpa and Gigi again, but this time in Topeka, Kansas. The babies had their first plane rides (including a ride on a prop plane!), so that they could go visit Great Grandma Drayer for her 90th birthday. Mommy stressed a little about the trip, but it went about as smoothly as possible! We decided to leave the stroller at home, as this would only be a 2 day trip. We got lucky with the TSA agents, and we were able to keep the babies in their Ergos as we went through security, which meant that they slept the whole way through! (Some TSA agents will make you take off the carrier and put it through the x-ray while just carrying the baby.) We decided to carry the car seats to gate check in order to diminish the wear and tear on them, but they are heavy and unwieldy! The babies did an awesome job sleeping through their first 2 flights. Morning flights seem to be the way to go! Derek and I sat in the aisle seats of the same row, as only one 1 infant in arms is allowed per side of the aisle due to there only being 1 extra oxygen mask. However, we got lucky that we had empty seats next to us on our flights, which made diaper changes and making formula a breeze! For some reason, the airlines have a rule that babies can’t be in carriers for takeoff and landing. This doesn’t make sense to me as they seem more secure than just in my arms. I did some research and the answers I found didn’t make sense – crushing the baby in an emergency or flight attendants needing to get baby out if you are incapacitated in an emergency, so I think it is just a liability thing.

We got into Topeka with enough time to make family pictures. We then enjoyed a wonderful birthday dinner, where family members helped hold babies so we could eat. It was great to be able to have all of the Drayer family together! On Sunday, Grandpa, Gigi, and Great Grandma offered to watch the babies, so we could go out to lunch with the other cousins. The babies were a big hit in Great Grandma’s living community! We hung out with Great Grandma’s friends during a birthday celebration and then headed to the airport. Derek and I got super lucky and were able to sit in the same row because there was an empty middle seat! The babies were fussier on the flight home. This may have been because it was longer, or at night, or bumpier, or it was just there second day of travel. While they were a little more vocal, the people around us were very complimentary.

Norah and Naomi had a couple other firsts this month. They began getting in the Christmas spirit when we chopped down their first Christmas tree. The whole family drove up to Snoqualmie Pass to meet some friends.  After a few hours of walking around the forest they picked the perfect tree for our first Christmas as a family. As well, they got to babysit for the first time, when they helped mommy babysit a 21 month old and 5 year old. They also got their first babysitter when Grandma babysat for them for a 5.5 hour evening, so we could go to Derek’s holiday party at the aquarium!

As we count our blessings this month for happy and healthy babies, we wish everyone a happy holidays!

 

Two Months Old!

 

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Time has flown! It seems like we turned a corner at 6 weeks and then again at 8 weeks. From the beginning, the babies were pretty fussy when put down in their cribs. However, I am very grateful that we started attempting to put them in their cribs from day 1. Even though they didn’t always end up sleeping in the crib, I think we did what was best for us to get the babies to sleep and for us to get sleep. It was pretty awful for the first 3.5 weeks, but I think it will make it easier in the long run. (See our post about the first month.) At our baby prep class reunion, everyone was in shock that our babies were almost exclusively sleeping in their cribs, as their babies would only sleep in rock ‘n plays or bassinets. We explained that we decided that we didn’t want to create habits we would have to break later – the babies sleeping in our room, sleeping in a swing or rock ‘n play, or sharing a crib. And, that we focused on the babies getting enough sleep (always with an attempt at the crib), then to understand the difference between night and day, then to sleep in their cribs, then putting them in their cribs drowsy.

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One of the few times they have shared a crib (because Naomi pooped all over hers…)

We suspected that part of our struggle with crib sleeping was that the girls, especially Naomi, were suffering from reflux and gas. We began using simethicone drops and probiotic drops (Gerber Soothe and then Mommy’s Bliss) at 2 weeks. At 6 weeks, we also switched to a Enfamil A.R. formula for supplementing to help with the spitting up and reflux. This formula has rice cereal to make it thicker. Giving the babies this formula helped with the spitting up, but they got frustrated by how thick it was, so we decided to mix it with a sensitive formula with probiotics/prebiotics (Gerber Soothe or Similac Total Comfort). We also put Naomi’s mattress on a 15 degree incline. Both of these seemed to help with the babies’ fussiness; however, their digestive systems also might also just be maturing.

At 6 weeks, we also took a road trip to San Jose to see our friend/co-worker get married. This was a 4.5 day trip with 15+ hours of driving on the way down and 14+ hours on the way back. The babies handled the trip like champs! It is a good thing they love their car seats! We stopped in Portland on Wednesday evening and stayed with our gracious friends who put up with 2 crying babies and 2 excited dogs. On Thursday, we were planning on stopping at Crater Lake as we continued on to San Jose, but as they had gotten a foot of snow a few days earlier, the scenic drive around the lake was closed and the viewpoints were socked in. So we made a change in plans, and the babies instead got to experience the majesty of the redwoods at Redwood National & State Parks. We drove down Avenue of the Giants, and we almost got the car stuck in the tourist trap drive-through redwood. When we got to San Jose on Friday, the babies visited Santa Clara Swim Club, where they got to meet mommy’s old swimmers and co-workers. On Saturday our little ones were well behaved during the wedding, didn’t interrupt the ceremony, and allowed us to spend some time catching up with friends at the reception. On the way home on Sunday, we stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. The babies slept in their Ergo baby carriers while we walked around reading about Tillamook’s cheese history.

The trip was really an adventure for all four of us. We had to figure out how to soothe the babies without the help of swings and rock ‘n plays and how to feed babies every few hours on a road trip. For the record, pumping and then bottle feeding the babies while sitting between their car seats is the way to go.

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Prior to our trip, Naomi and Norah were eating every 3 hours like clockwork during the day and every 4 hours at night. This meant the I was only getting 4 hours of sleep on average. I would often take a 2 hour morning nap after taking Derek to the bus, but this made me feel like half my day was gone. It was also frustrating because when the babies woke me up, I would be hungry for lunch, but so would the babies… After our trip, they seemed to be sleeping a lot more during the day, and we weren’t sure if it was because they had gotten used to sleeping so much on our trip or if it was because they were going through a growth spurt. At 8 weeks, the babies got their 2 month shots, and this was painful for them but ended up being wonderful for mommy. Babies grow and build their immune systems while sleeping, so often babies sleep more after getting vaccinations. This was the case for us! The night of their shots, they went over 6 hours between feeds! In the 5 nights since then, they have continued to do a 6-7+ hour first night sleep. It has been so nice for me to get some continuous sleep in an increment over 2 hours! This means they are eating more frequently during the day, but it is worth it to get some sleep!

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The girls have caught up on their weight gain, so they have now averaged an ounce a day since birth. Norah was 7 lb. 14 oz. and 21.5 inches. This put her in the 25th percentile for height! Naomi was 7 lb. 11 oz. and 20.5 inches. Our little ones have soft hair, pot bellies, outie belly buttons, and long legs. They are still wearing newborn clothes, but the pajamas are starting to get a little small due to their length. The girls started giving me and Derek smiles last week and have started cooing and making noises besides crying! They enjoy looking around outside, baths, being worn in the Ergos, and taking naps during car rides and walks. They think tummy time is alright, especially if they get to do it on mommy or daddy’s chest. They tolerate puppy kisses and have started petting the dogs and cat with help from daddy. It has been fun to start to see their personalities develop, and we can now tell them apart (sometimes).

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The Realities of Breastfeeding

I will be honest – I haven’t found breastfeeding rewarding at all. At the most, I would say I tolerate it because research has said how good it is for babies. At the worst, I would say I hate it, want to quit, and feel guilty for feeling that way. I would much rather just spend time holding my babies and not feel like I am just their milk machine. Prior to giving birth my knowledge about breastfeeding was limited. Everyone knows the million and one reasons why it is beneficial, so obviously I was planning on doing it. I did have some trepidation about breastfeeding twins, but at our baby class (labor and delivery, newborn care, and breastfeeding), a lactation consultant talked about why to breastfeed, how to breastfeed, and addressed our concerns. When asked about the need to supplement she dismissed it, saying that women make enough milk to feed their babies and if there are supply issues, there are way to increase supply. Makes it sound like a piece of cake right? I think that we are doing a huge disservice to mothers in regards to the way we discuss breastfeeding. I write this post because I think we need to be realistic about the difficulties of breastfeeding and let women know that they are not alone. Based on what I had heard and read, I thought I was just failing as a new mom. It was such a relief to hear that other women (even women with singletons!) cried with frustration, wanted to quit, felt guilty and inadequate, etc.

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Just born – Naomi & Norah
I was utterly  unprepared for the difficulties of motherhood. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. Everyone said the first 6 weeks were rough, and you would survive on not enough sleep. But, it is definitely harder than I thought it would be. My guilt and frustration about feeling incompetent at breastfeeding started from day 1 when the nurses said that Norah wasn’t passing the blood glucose tests and need to be given formula. I felt awful – I wasn’t giving her what she needed and now she was going to have to be given formula from a bottle. The lactation consultant at our class said not to give bottles or pacifiers until breastfeeding was well established at 4-6 weeks, and she had said that I would make enough milk. So what was wrong with me? I tried to chalk it up to babies being born a little early and with low birth weight. If this is what the nurses said was best for Norah then I would trust them. We continued to struggle with the babies getting enough to eat at the hospital, so we talked about pumping after at least half of my breastfeeding sessions to increase my supply.

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Day 3 (first full day home) – honestly not sure who is who. Derek says Naomi & Norah.
By day 4 the babies had already lost 12% of their birth weights (they were down 5% and 7% when we left the hospital). Doctors don’t want babies to lose more than 15% of their weight. This usually peaks around day 10, so the pediatrician was worried about them continuing to drop weight. Thus, she recommended we breastfeed and then supplement with formula after. My left breast seemed to be frustrating the babies, so I had a phone lactation appointment which I cried through because I felt like I wasn’t providing for my babies and it was my fault that they had lost so much weight. We also had a lactation appointment at the hospital, which reiterated what the doctor and other lactation consultant had said – I now needed to be pumping after each feeding. This would increase my supply and allow us to supplement with breastmilk in addition to formula. Unfortunately having to pump was not my only frustration; Naomi was getting frustrated waiting for letdown and would unlatch repeatedly until she was screaming in frustration. Norah was getting lazy having to do the work of sucking and swallowing and just fall asleep.

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Day 9 – Naomi & Norah
As I was worried about Naomi’s latch issue, I did some research and found some helpful information from La Leche League. At this point, the babies were only sleeping in 15 minute stretches at night, and the doctor thought it might be because they were not getting enough food at each feeding, so they were overly hungry. After a week and a half (day 13), the babies had reached acceptable weights, and I seemed to be producing enough milk, so we decided to stop supplementing. I was so proud of myself, and it was so nice to not have to pump after each feeding! And then we went for a weight check with the doctor a week later, and she wasn’t happy with the 5 ounces Norah had gained and 2 ounces Naomi gained. She wanted them gaining an ounce a day, so we were back to supplementing. I was devastated and again felt like I had failed my babies. After being depressed all day and thinking about just giving up breastfeeding, I decided not to continue pumping after each feed. For my own sanity, the babies would be breastfed and then supplement with formula, so I didn’t have to continue pumping after each feed. While this would still extend the length of each feed, it would be less time than having to breastfeed, bottle feed, and pump.

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Day 13 – Norah & Naomi
I know that my emotional state regarding breastfeeding isn’t just due to hormones or societal pressures, but also due to lack of sleep. I guess when people said sleep would be an issue, I thought it was because you had to feed babies every 2-3 hours, even at night. So I (wrongly) assumed that while this wouldn’t be fun, it would be doable because there would be an end in sight. (Supposedly 6 weeks is the magic number?) Plus, it couldn’t be that bad because I would just wake up when they started crying to be fed, feed them, and then go back to sleep. It hasn’t been that simple. They often can’t be put straight into their cribs after they are fed. Both girls have had tummy troubles, and Naomi has had spit up issues, so we try to keep them upright for at least 10 minutes after each feeding. The first 3.5 weeks, they wouldn’t sleep in their cribs unless they were fully asleep. It would take at least 20 minutes to hold them, put them in the swing, or let them fall asleep in the rock ‘n play. (Supposed to go down sleepy but not asleep. Ha!) After they go into their cribs, I wait about 15 minutes to see if they will indeed sleep there and if they need pacifiers put back in. There have been nights when I can’t get them to sleep in the crib at all, and they end up sleeping in their rock ‘n plays while I sleep next to them on the couch. I know that for safety reasons they shouldn’t sleep in the rock ‘n plays, but I also know that both they and I need sleep.

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Naomi & Norah
Unfortunately, my struggles with breastfeeding have added to the lack of night sleep. Derek has been taking the bedtime shift around 9p-midnight, so I can grab 2-3 hours of sleep. I then wake up and pump while he feeds them a bottle of breastmilk I pumped the night before. He goes to bed, I finish feeding them bottles, and I try to get them to sleep in their cribs before I get another 2-3 hours of sleep. This process takes about an hour and a half. Around 4 or 5a, I start the 2-2.5 hour process of feeding them without help. I breastfeed one, change her diaper, then supplement with a bottle of formula. Then I repeat with the other baby before trying to get them to sleep in their cribs. If they wake up at the same time, I will tandem breastfeed, but it is harder to tandem bottle feed and impossible to tandem diaper change. The babies usually eat less at the breast because I can’t help prompt them or express into their mouths, and they are usually grumpier because they are having to wait while the other one gets a diaper change or bottle or helped to sleep. When my mom was here, I was averaging 5-6 hours a night. Since then, I have been averaging about 4-5 hours a night and then trying to take a 1-2 hour nap after I drop Derek off at the bus. The upside is that I have been reading Babywise and trying to implement some better sleep practices.

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I’m not sure if it is some of our new strategies or just the babies getting older and wiser every day, but it seems like the past week has had some improvements. While it feels like 2 steps forward and 1 step back, I am hoping we have turned a corner. The babies are now sleeping in 3 hour stretches during the day and 4 hours stretches at night. They are going down in their cribs sleepy but not fully asleep for most naps and some of their overnight sleeps. We are only consistently struggling with the “witching hour” from dinnertime around 6 or 7p to their first overnight sleep around 1 or 2a. They want to be held, swing, or feel cocooned in their rock n play; they do not want to sleep in their cribs. Sometimes they have upset tummies or just don’t know what they want. Nothing seems to remedy this. However, we are hoping we have found a sanity saver in our Ergo 360. Michelle gets to eat dinner, and Norah gets held. Derek gets some time to relax, and Naomi gets held. Fingers crossed!

One Month Old!

We are happy to report that after some weight gain struggles, both babies are about 6.5 pounds. (The doc was worried we weren’t gaining an ounce a day? Ha! We will show her by gaining 2 ounces a day!) They are still long and skinny, with legs that reach the bottom of newborn outfits but arms and bodies that are better suited for preemie.

They enjoy tummy time on daddy’s chest and when he reads them stories. Both girls love their swing and rock n plays but aren’t so sure about their bouncy chairs. N&N sometimes suck in fingers, but they really are pacifier girls. Just like their puppy sisters, our twins enjoy car rides.

We are hoping they have turned a corner with sleeping in their cribs at night. Naomi is hopeful her tummy troubles are improving, and Norah is hopeful her days of looking like a balding old man don’t last too long. Like her daddy, Naomi gets hangry when food takes too long to arrive and is quite the impatient eater. Norah is a little lazy and sometimes decides sleeping is more important than eating.

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NanaNette’s Lactation Cookies

Prep Time: ~25 minutes

Yields: about 6 dozen

Preheat oven to 350°F.cookies-2

Mix and set aside to add later

  • 3 tablespoons Flaxseed
  • 4 tablespoons of water

Mix

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 5 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar

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Add to mixture

  • 2 eggs (mix in 1 at a time)
  • Flaxseed mixture (set aside from the earlier)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix in bowl (then add to mixture)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup brewer’s yeast (found in supplement section or ordered online)

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Mix in bowl (then add to mixture)

  • 3 cups oatmeal (I use 3minute)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Shredded coconut (I added approx. ¾ cup)
  • Slivered almonds (I added approx. ¾ cup)
  • Cook at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes

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