Thursday, December 31, 2009

The year that defies description

I can't decide what to say about this year. Even if I only base it on this last month. Was it a shitty year? No. Was it the best year of my life... no. But it was amazing. Maybe that is the way to describe it - amazing. I had a full year with Hulk, how continues to astonish me daily. Like yesterday? The baby who barely eats any adult food? Turns out he loves lasagna. That cracked me up.

I was pregnant with twins for a huge portion of the year - which was amazing that it even happened to begin with, and then Aaron and I spent the year preparing for what life would be like with three children under the age of one. I was sick of being pregnant (would I have believed I would even write that 3 years ago?), scared for life with 3 babies, excited to meet them... overjoyed I didn't have to do IVF again.

Work was decent... no big crisis, but I found after coming back from maternity leave that I was really needed, and I did actually love my job - which was a decent revelation to make.

Then the girls were born! To finally meet them and hold was wonderful. To spend 5 days with them in the hospital was perfect. Taking them home was a bit stressful, but we were dealing. And then all hell broke loose less than 48 hours later. And then this month has been a really hard mix of joy with Hulk and Maggie, and shock and sadness over the loss of Nora.

Would I want this year to not have happened? No. Would I have changed a few things - hell yes! But I certainly don't wish this year away - and I can't even say that I wish 2010 is better - because if you try to look at the whole year - there is a lot of wonderful things that happened. That won't ever happen again. And the horrible things, we can pray they don't happen again - but they are part of life.

But I will say that I hope 2010 is a bit less eventful. How is that?

Happy New Year. We will be spending it eating food dropped off by caring friends and waking up every 3 hours with a super fussy baby that has us both wrapped around her little finger.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One month check up

Well, little Maggie went for her one month check up - she is up to 8 lbs 14 oz! Way to go, girl! And she is checking out great in other ways too. I talked to the doc (who I just love love love by the way) about her crying. Have I even talked about that on the blog yet? She cries inconsolably for about 20 minutes at a stretch. It's pretty awful, because no matter what we do, nothing calms her down until she passes gas in some way (and it's rarely burping - she is SO hard to burp). We've tried Gripe Water, but it wasn't working, and colic tablets - with limited success... but I hadn't tried a few other suggestions I'd gotten (like chamomile tea) because I was waiting to talk to the doc. When I told her the things we'd tried, and conveniently Maggie was having a bottle while I was in the office, so the doc got to see that she wasn't rearing back (like acid reflux would show) - she gave me a few suggestions - which started with Gripe Water and chamomile tea. I told her the Gripe Water wasn't really working (which is a whole other story) - so she said we'd try to switch to soy based formula.

So, we tried that today - but it'll take a few weeks to know if that is the issue. The good news is she switched over with no issues. But, when I got home today I re-read the directions on the Gripe Water and I was giving her like 1/8th of the amount I was supposed to. After her last bottle, I gave her the right amount. She fussed a little, and is now passed out happily. NO huge crying episodes. Whoops.

The doc assured me that if we checked all the main baby items (not hungry, clean diaper) that it is OK if she cries. That some babies just need to cry. I realized that before, but was so upset that none of my normal calming things were working... it's good to know that it wasn't something we were doing wrong, that maybe she just needed a new formula. Here's hoping that with that and the Gripe Water we make progress and there is less crying (all around - because sometime HER crying makes me cry).

The doc also pointed out that we could start bathing her a little more regularly (whoops again - she's had 2 baths since she's been home)... and I explained that when she's calm, I'm just not willing to potentially fire her up by giving her a bath. When we gave her a bath tonight, she was SO calm. Duh. babies love warm baths. So - we will get into that routine too.

Want to see a picture of her that cracks me up? Taken today:

We've switched to a co sleeper, which I'm really liking. Took her a little bit to get used to, but I feel like we are maybe rounding a corner and figuring her out. And look at that sweet face! Happy one month, baby!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What to do.

A bunch of people have asked me what they SHOULD do when something tragic happens. I don't really know if I have all of the answers, even for someone who reacts EXACTLY as I do.

Don't ask what you can do. Just do it. Someone actually gave me that tip for another friend when her mother died. They told me to say - I'm bringing dinner on Weds night... instead of asking 'What can I do?". Because when someone asks me what they can do, in the back of my mind I always think 'can you bring back Nora?' or 'make the pain stop?' because that is honestly what I really want. But I know that I need the day to day things done too. My friends are bringing over dinner every weeknight until January sometime. The firefighters just came over and put up our Christmas lights. Out neighbors have been shoveling our driveway for us when it snows. I would have never thought to ask for those things, but when they were done, it was really nice.

Don't EVER ask what happened. I don't want to relive that night over and over. IF I feel like talking about it I will... but the chances are low. Also do NOT ask if they found out what was 'wrong' with her. In our case, they found nothing. Which is more upsetting to think about.

Don't tell me she went to a better place. I think my home and my family is a pretty wonderful place and I think she should be here with us.

Don't judge my grief. Don't think I'm acting too happy or too sad and then tell me so. I will probably tell you to fuck off. Many people told us not to celebrate Hulk's first birthday. To my, celebrating life was the only way to make it through that day. If that isn't what you would do, I'm sorry. But it isn't your family and you didn't have to come.

Leave people alone when they ask to be left alone. We've had overnight visitors since the day this all happened. By the time my stepmother left, we wanted to be alone. My MIL insisted on staying because 'she needed to be with us'. We needed to be alone, and we told her so. But she didn't listen, so we just dealt with it.

If they have twins, don't ever say, well, at least you still have Maggie. First, it's just an asshole thing to say... and guess what? We are a little freaked out now about both Maggie and Hulk and their health and safety.

I know I could probably write a million more things, but the Great and All Powerful is waking up and needs attention (3 week growth spurt, I think!).

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I should have realized I started something last year when I took Hulk and got his picture taken with Santa.... now I'm pretty sure I'm doing it every year.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours:

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Finally, I'm alone in the house with Maggie. Cam is in daycare, all visitors are DONE (until tomorrow when my mom comes for the day - but no more overnight visitors. Ever.). I spent the morning doing some grocery shopping, gave Maggie a bottle, and she is currently sleeping - not on me. Which is another big step. I cleaned up the kitchen, did some toy culling in anticipation of the huge haul of toys Hulk is getting (We bought him a train set. That is it. You can't IMAGINE the amount of toys this kid will be opening tomorrow). I even wrapped presents and there is stuff in Aaron's stocking! So - we are ready for Christmas. We are even having some family members over tonight for cocktails. A small degree of normalcy. It feels good.

It's been rough, this past week. I spent a large amount of Monday afternoon crying. Maggie still is a bit challenging - but now I think I have her somewhat figured out. Monday we went to the baby friendly movie (Avatar! Awesome!) and when we got in the car to go home, she just started crying and wouldn't stop. I pulled over and was in the back seat trying to calm her down, and I just LOST it. Nothing I was doing was helping, and I was almost out of gas and just so tired and facing 4 more days with my mother in law visiting (we asked her to stay somewhere else so Aaron didn't need to sleep on the couch, and she said that she NEEDED to stay here. AUGH). And it all cascaded to me just being super sad about the huge combination of everything. To top it off, the two of us finally stopped crying, and I was driving home, and I answered the phone and just started bawling to a massage therapist that I barely know... I had called to set up an appointment and the poor woman just called back. Of course, the first words out of her mouth were 'How are you' (if no one every asks me that again I will be very thankful). I started to say - good. But seriously? I'm NOT good. I'm sad. And angry. And miserable. But you can never answer with that, can you? Anyway, I felt like such a freak. But it had to happen at some point, right?

But - back to Maggie. I've been giving her Gripe water with each bottle, and she's been loads better. It's either colic or gas (or are those the same things?). And I've gotten accustomed to her crying, which is just at such a fevered pitch compared to Hulk's that I was SURE something was wrong. Now I know it's just her way. I've taken to calling her the Great and All Powerful Maggie (like the Great and All Powerful Oz?) because once that screaming starts, all adults in the room mobilize to do her bidding.

I'm starting to get angry about the whole situation, which I'm told is a good thing. I'm angry this had to happen to us. I'm god damned sick on being on the very shitty end of the statistics (unexplained infertility, FIL having a stroke at 60, SIDS - all such a low likelihood of happening and ALL happening to us within a year). I'm sick of people asking how I am... or telling me their awful stories of how they lost a child. Surprisingly it doesn't help AT all to hear another super sad story of another family that lost child. I'm also sick of angels. They've been coming into our house in all forms - ornaments, cards, freaking statues.... with some sort of sentiment that says - to help you remember Nora. Like I'm going to forget her! WTF!!! A friend told me the other day that her sister lost a daughter at a very young age, and she had enough angels to decorate a whole Christmas tree the next year. Augh! That isn't going to happen here. I should warn everyone - the next angel to enter this house may end up lodged in the givers rear end. Even though I fully understand that they mean well. That's another hard thing. I know that everyone means well, but sometimes I just want to SCREAM when people look at me with their sad faces or ask how I'm doing or whatever. I don't... because I know they mean well. But damn, it would feel good to just lose it on someone.

Deep Sigh. I'm happy that we are somewhat on our own now. I'm thankful that we still have help pouring in through friends that are bringing us dinner, because on Monday, if someone hadn't brought us something, we would have just sat on the couch and cried and not eaten. And I've already lost at least 40 if not 50 pounds, and I only gained 20 with the pregnancy. Someone actually commented on how great I looked the other day - and bitchy me said 'Well, at least I look good.'

OK - I hear the All Powerful stirring in the other room. Better go do her bidding. She is really starting to fill out - up to 8 lbs 5 ozs on Tuesday! Go Maggie go!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sleep and Christmas Cards

So - last night we had to do split duties. Hulk was really fussy on Weds night, and continued to be sad during the day yesterday. He ended up with a fever of 100.8 by the end of the day, so of course, we freaked out. In the back of my mind I was sure it was an ear infection (or more I was praying that it was?) but nervous nonetheless. We were a little freaked that it could be something contagious - gotta love daycare - and then I just wasn't sure what we would do. But, Aaron got him to the doc, and he confirmed it was a pretty bad ear infection. But the doc warned us that Hulk probably wouldn't sleep well. We decided to divide and conquer.

Aaron slept downstairs with Hulk's monitor, and I had Maggie with me in bed (and thanks for the heads up on the Amby Baby bed recall, but the issue is more with people who were using it with children who could sit up and/or roll over - which a) they tell you not to use it for children who can do that, and b) it doesn't seem to be working anyway so we stopped using it). She is much easier to calm down if I'm close, so last night she slept just as well as other nights but with less freaking out. She goes about 3 - 4 hour between feedings, which I think is pretty great. It's just the getting her to fall asleep that is the stressful part. She is just such a shrieker, that it goes right to Aaron's core. It sounds like something is wrong with her - even though there isn't. She just needs to settle down, and we are finding that takes some time. With Aaron in another room, I could deal with settling her down. And I can take a nap in the daytime to make up for any lost sleep (although thank god for the weekend!). Hulk only stirred a few times, so here is hoping the ear infection passes quickly.

We are getting there.

In August, I picked out the cutest baby announcements (little sheep!) for the girls. They were from Paper Culture, and the day I got home from the hospital, I ordered a bunch. I wanted to send them out ASAP. When the proof arrived, a day later, we had already lost Nora. I wasn't sure at that point what I was going to do about the announcements*, but I couldn't bring myself to get those. I wrote to tell them them of Nora's passing, and the CEO of the company actually wrote me back. He dealt with the whole thing in a very classy manner - and I'm hoping that anyone that needs announcements or cards will check them out. I picked out this for our Christmas card (I changed the wording to Peace, Love and Joy instead of what they have there). I know I don't have to do Christmas cards, and this is the one year I could easily get away with it - but I now feel like Maggie and Hulk have this huge family that is following up on them, and deserve a sweet Christmas card.

* We did a baby naming for Nora at the memorial service, so that was her 'announcement' and Maggie will be getting her own soon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It's all starting to hit now. The knowledge that I would be getting minimal sleep with a newborn is highlighted by the fact that I'm sleeping with one eye open. I know that I can't stay awake 24 hours a day, but it's still hard to sleep. And even if I do manage to close my eyes, about 50% of the time I'm reliving that night over and over. Which sucks.

I try to keep myself busy during the day, but that is getting hard too, because I'm so tired. My stepmother is here visiting, and she is helpful - but in her 70s and I'm not willing to let her drive and honestly don't even really trust her to watch Maggie while I sleep. It isn't that she isn't good with babies either - I pretty much only trust Aaron and his Aunt Mary (she is the one that stayed in the hospital with Maggie when she was in for observation). And in my heart, I know that is a little silly, but I'm not ready yet to just hand her over to anyone.

And Maggie is a hard baby to figure out. Hulk was so easy - he would cry when he was hungry, tired or needed a diaper change. Maggie cries to eat, then eats, and then seems perfectly fine, she burps, you try to lay her down? Shrieking. Louder than you can imagine. And comforting to a point to hear her use those lungs, but I wish I could comfort her! She isn't rearing back or any of the other classic signs of reflux - and does totally fine so long as she is close to me - like during the day, I can hold her and she sleeps fine. Or I got a swing that goes side to side - she loves that. But at night, we try the Amby Baby bed, and it seems like a failure. I'm tempted to just let her sleep in the swing all night - but that seems like a bad idea. She also doesn't take a pacifier yet - which I do think would be a big help. I let her sleep in bed with me this morning - but while SHE can sleep - I lay there with my eyes wide open making sure I don't roll anywhere near her. So that isn't a solution either.

So - with all that - we are pretty much getting sleep in 2 or 3 hour bits. She will generally need a bottle around 8, and it takes about an hour to get her done with a bottle, diaper change and then all it takes to settle her. Then she'll go for a 2 hour sleep, up at around 11 (which Aaron will wake up for), then I'll do the next one (usually around 3) and then she seems to wake up again at 6:15. But, because she is in the same room as us, even though we take turns with getting out of bed, her crying wakes up the other person. And we can't have someone sleep in the guest room, because we have my stepmother here. At Nina's yesterday, I found that she was up to 7 lbs 10 oz - so maybe as she gains more weight this will settle down? Cameron was never this little, so I think that was some of our success with him.

And thanks for all the words of support. I'm glad that most of you get what I am trying to portray. I try to stay strong, but it's hard. Well meaning people ask me how I'm doing, and then for whatever reason I feel like I'm being judged for either being not sad enough or too sad (depends on the day what my reaction is). Everyone wants to help - and at times I just want to be left alone- but at the same time - I dread being alone. My friends call to check up on me, and I don't want to answer the phone, but I know they need to hear my voice to be sure I'm OK. And some people just push and push and I lose it a little... and I feel like I need to apologize. And then I'm like 'Fuck it'. I'm sick of worrying about how other people feel. I'm trying to concentrate on me, Aaron and my children.

At church on Sunday some random woman I didn't know came up and asked me if I was pregnant again. I was holding Cameron. It was the day of remembrance for those who lost children - and I had stood up and lit a candle for Nora. So I turned to her and said - I gave birth to twins 14 days ago! Hoping to shut her down, assuming she hadn't been at that part of the service. Then she went on to ask if they knew what happened to my daughter. I walked away and she followed me - I turned and just said 'Please just leave me alone'. Seriously. WTF.

So. That is where I am. Now I'm going to try to order Christmas cards. The fun never ends.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The new normal

Aaron decided to go back to work today - just to get his mind on something else, which is a good thing, I think. I managed to do the morning routine pretty well - but I had help from the gang. Maggie woke up at 6:15 and was pretty well done with her bottle and fussing by the time Hulk woke up at 7. She hung out while I got Hulk dressed and ready to go. The only hitch was moving from upstairs to downstairs - as Hulk can't go downstairs on his own yet - and I forgot to bring up a sling. I put Maggie down, went down with Hulk, and got him situated with milk in his highchair and of course, while I was pouring it, I hear Mags flipping out upstairs. Run up, get her, and then we were all set. Phew.

The service was totally beautiful and exactly what we needed. The minister talked a lot about hope and honoring Nora by continuing to live our lives with love and joy. And that is exactly what we wanted to pass on to everyone (and us). We were at a loss of what to do, angry... the whole mix of emotions you can expect at a time like this - but mostly our life is joyful. We have a wonderful family, and wonderful friends and Nora would want us to go on living our life with love and happiness. It's not easy, but we are trying.

Yesterday, the fireman came and put up our lights and they were really wonderful. How often do you get to see fireman climbing up the side of your house?
I was joking with Aaron that we were probably freaking out a few neighbors to have fire trucks in our front yard. But most of the kids were over checking out the fire truck - Hulk was loving it:

Sunday was also the day that Santa was riding the fire truck around town to see all the kids. Maggie said hi:

And here we all are (Hulk was totally fascinated by the fireman on the ladders - so he wouldn't look at the camera):

A new normal. Our little family. Not what we expected, but we are adjusting.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Doing well

Tomorrow is going to be a rough day - but I think a good day. The memorial service for Nora is tomorrow, and I feel like it will help, but also just be a hard, hard day. You all have helped make it better by sending some beautiful flowers - and I must thank you all for that. It was just signed the ALI community - so a big hug to you all!

Maggie is doing beautifully. She eats about every 3 hours, and gives us a big lusty cry when she is ready for attention, which we love to hear. The only issue she has is a pretty nasty diaper rash as she had diarrhea from the IV antibiotics. But that is clearing up really well too. Today, I took out the vibrating seat that we used with Cameron - thinking I would maybe put her down in it. Aaron came into the room and laughed at me around 4 PM this afternoon - he said 'Good job using that seat today, babe' - as this is where Maggie spent her day:

That is my lap.

: )

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Comfort in community

One of the most amazing things that I've seen is the complete outpouring of support of Aaron and I. Food, flowers, offers of running errands... but some things are blowing me away.

The town fire department flew their flag at half mast yesterday for us. And they have set up snowplowing for the whole winter, along with plans to bring the ladder truck over on Sunday afternoon to put up our Christmas lights. They were desperate to do something - and here I was feeling bad for the poor ambulance driver who I basically tossed Nora at on Friday and screamed for him to help us. For most of the emergency/health care professionals we have worked with over the past 3 days, this is the first time they have dealt with something like this. They seem just as heartbroken as Aaron and I. And it is amazing the support they have given us.

Maggie is doing wonderfully. We got home from the hospital last night. She was in the hospital for 48 hour observation pending results from her and Nora's blood work, and also putting her on a broad spectrum of antibiotics for safety. The first blood work results on Maggie came back with bacteria in it - but my doc was pretty sure it was a contaminated sample (the bacteria was a bacteria commonly found on the skin), but until the confirmed otherwise, would continue her on antibiotics. By Monday, we were sure it was a contaminated sample, so they drew another, and by noon yesterday we had confirmation that nothing was wrong with her (and second opinions confirming that again) so we brought her home. And she's been wonderful. She had a bottle at 8 PM, slept until 11, another bottle at 2:30, and then slept until 5:30. We managed to sleep also - which to me was a small miracle... but every time we heard her little 'chirp' from her bed (which we moved to within arms reach of my side of the bed) both of us would giggle a little. My one moment of panic was that she woke up at 5:30, but was mostly just chirping (which for her is a warm up to full on screaming. The girl knows when she wants to eat). I was just laying there waiting for her to really wake up - because she is easier to feed that way. Well, I guess we both feel asleep again, because I woke up at 6:30 in a total panic that she was quiet again, and ripped her out of bed (she was sound asleep and totally fine. The girl is going to have no startle reflex when she is older). I'm sure it was easier for her to sleep here than at the hospital where she was hooked up to the IV and what seemed like a million monitors.

I am so thankful that I am am surrounded by this wonderful community that is just allowing me to concentrate on my Maggie, Hulk and our grief. Everything else is totally taken care of.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Finding the good

Something I've found comfort in today is remembering that without great love, you wouldn't have sorrow. My heart is filled with a mixture of sadness and love and joy - and I am thankful to have celebrated Hulk's first birthday today.


There is no real way to say this. Nora passed away last night. We don't know why or how - they are trying to figure it out. Maggie is in the hospital for observation for 48 hours with IV antibiotics as a safety measure - but we are told that she is totally ok.

Cameron is turns one today. We are trying to still keep it as his special day - and the joy in his laughter is keeping me sane for now.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The first night...

Wow. So the combination of no nap for me (it took forever to get out of the hospital yesterday. I was ready to go at 9. We got in the car at 1:30), my milk coming in (screw you boobs) and the girls adjusting to being home, last night was kind of rough. Someone was awake from about 11 - 2 AM. I figured we would just do what we did with Hulk, trading off wake ups, but that doesn't go so great when there are 2 babies! You get one calmed down, and the next is up. Tonight we are moving to a shift schedule, lol.

I did make the decision in the hospital to not breastfeed. I feel really great with the decision, as we were fighting the same issues as I had with Hulk - and Aaron and I decided that we would not do any major interventions this time. No SNS, no pumping, no supplements. And when I switched to the bottle, they both took to it so well - and I was so happy just holding them and watching them eat and NOT stressing, that I still know that I did the right thing. But. Last night, when it was Aaron's 'shift' - I'm hearing them cry and my uterus is contracting and my boobs are leaking - seriously!? Augh.

Today has been great. I've been a little teary, but I would expect that. I'm still not really able to play with Hulk - I came downstairs this morning to help Aaron with breakfast and of course one of the girls woke up right then. I know that he is OK and knows he is loved and all that - but it's different. And of COURSE it's going to be different. But it's all a big adjustment!

We got to go to daycare and bring Hulk his birthday cake - which we have some super cute pictures of him eating. I had my We'll have a repeat performance tomorrow with family and friends at lunch time tomorrow with presents.

One funny thing is that I didn't really get any newborn sized clothes - Cam pretty much started in 0 - 3 size. The girls are SWIMMING in the 0-3 size. So I sent out a plee for newborn sized PJs, and I forget how much people love shopping for babies. A neighborhood friend is running out for me right now to get a few pairs to make it through the night, and my cousin, who is coming tomorrow - is SUPER excited to get some too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Leaving my cocoon....

The past 4 days have been wonderful. After my girls arrived on Sunday, I've been staying here at the hospital with them, while Aaron went to work and took care of Hulk. It's kind of crazy, because with Hulk, I couldn't have been separated from Aaron for even an hour.... this time? I'm totally in control. I've been using the nursing staff when I need help, but I'd rather Aaron be with me at home when we don't have anyone to help. He slept here the first night, and after seeing how miserable he was on the pullout couch - and the fact that we had already decided to send the girls to the nursery each night - it just made more sense to have him at home in our bed.

Hulk has been on my mind - but another reason that I have Aaron going home is because I know he is happy with his Dad. Hulk loves my Aunt, of course, but more for play time - I'm sure it would have been weird to wake up in the morning and not see either of us!

The girls are just wonderful. They eat well, sleep well and cuddle perfectly. I've been spending the days feeding them, and then we spend and hour or so sleeping together in bed. I'm the luckiest woman in the world, and I can't wait to get home today and introduce them officially to Hulk. Hulk did come on Sunday - but I'm sure the whole thing was totally overwhelming for him, as I was still hooked up to my IV and everything.

As for me, I'm feeling SO much better than the last time. I'm sore, but totally able to get out of bed on my own (that is one reason Aaron couldn't leave - I seriously needed him to help me get out of bed). I've been walking around, caring for the girls (figuring out how to feed 2 at once!) and getting as much rest as possible. I think not laboring for 20 hours BEFORE the c-section is a big reason for the difference. I also just feel grounded and 'ok'. I don't feel nervous about anything. I feel grateful for my perfect girls, and confidant that I'm able to parent them.

For those of you worrying about a second - it's SO much better the second time around! You can do it!

Trust me, more pictures later. Right now, I'm packing up my bags and waiting for Dad to come and take us home. Oh - one last funny story. Aaron installed the girls carseats last night, and when he picked up Hulk at daycare - he said that Hulk was eyeing the seats VERY suspiciously. LOL.