notes from a new frontier

I’ll let everyone in on a secret. The writing part of my blog is a breeze, compared to the other aspects. Twenty minutes tops. It’s the pictures that take up a big chunk of time. Rob would call it a faff. Because he is British and can pull things like that off. Importing, editing, cropping, compressing.. etc. However, I hate posting without pictures. Boooring. But, for right now, I want to write and don’t have the time to do the pictures multiple times a week. So, here goes a post with no pictures. Or maybe just one..

Both Evelyn and Olivia have been home since Sunday afternoon. It started about the way it has continued. The NICU woke me up Sunday morning to ask if I would like to take Evelyn home, two days earlier than we had anticipated. Yes, we would!! This lead to an insane dash trying to get everything together. No, her going home outfit wasn’t clean. No, I hadn’t written the thank you cards to the nurses. No, we hadn’t showered. So we scrambled around like mad people and maybe Evelyn came home in an outfit that was only 90% dry, but whatever. She is here now.

And that is a little how life has felt since then – especially the nights. If any of you have read about my anxiety, you know that a lot of it stems from my struggles with sleeping. Going to bed at night knowing that I am going to be woken up dozens of times does little for my anxiety, but there really is no other option right now. I don’t even want to think about what life will be like when Rob has to go back to work and the feedings are no longer a team effort. Right now, Rob and I take the midnight feed and the 3:00 a.m. feed. My mom and dad, praise Jesus, take the 6:00 a.m. feed. Someone tell me they start sleeping for 4 hour stretches soon. Last night both girls decided that sleep was for the weak and partied all night long. Thank you, ladies.

In this, there are things I am thankful for. I am thankful for Top Gear, for getting us through the evening feeds. I am thankful for Ellen, making it possible for me to pump for an extended period of time without losing my mind. I am thankful for Vitamin water, peanut butter M&Ms, and yogurt. I am thankful for my family for making this physically possible. I am thankful for Rob, for not making me feel guilty for needing way more sleep than he does. Sometimes after pumping for a long time I am just so physically exhausted I feel like my legs might come out from under me.

I know I am still healing. I had my two week check up and I get to drive now! I snuck out to the grocery store last weekend. It was my first time doing something on my own since my 26th week. Who knew buying bacon could be so exhilarating. Emotionally, aside from the lack of sleep, I know I have a ways to go until my hormones settle back in. The other day I found myself missing pregnancy. And then I was like, wait, what? Pregnancy was awful. Hormones. 

Evelyn & Olivia, Week Two

This week has been rough. Awesome, but rough.

Olivia, the bigger of the girls, came home on Monday. It has been overwhelming but completely amazing to have one of them home. We found out last Saturday that Olivia would be coming home, but that Evelyn was definitely not ready.

There are several factors that go into determining a baby’s readiness to leave the NICU, but for my girls, the main factors were eating, maintaining temperature, and gaining weight.

Olivia finally mastered eating last weekend. It is a struggle at first. You are attempting to feed someone who doesn’t really understand how to eat. Olivia started eating with ease last weekend, but Evelyn still wasn’t so sure about the process. She struggled with keeping her tongue up on the roof of her mouth and being exhausted after trying to eat pretty inefficiently. Because of this, the nurses often tube fed her so she didn’t waste her energy struggling. However, in the past two to three days, Evelyn has also figured it out. She is eating with far less effort and finishing her bottles on a regular basis. We are thinking she will be home early next week, given that she doesn’t hit any bumps along the way.

Both girls reached their birth weight by the two week mark, which is the standard expectation for newborns. However, that means that Evelyn is 4 lbs 1 oz and Olivia is 4 lbs 14 oz. My tinier one definitely needs some extra care. Both girls have proven capable of keeping their temps up.

Olivia had her first pediatrician appointment today. She is in the 1% of everything but is gaining on track and doing well. We like our pediatrician and she did a very thorough exam which I appreciated.

Having the girls be separate is about as hard as you would expect. They haven’t actually been able to interact with each other since they were born. Further, I am having to split my time between home and the NICU which is exhausting and emotionally overwhelming. I never even considered that the girls wouldn’t be ready at the same time, but given their weight disparity, it isn’t that surprising. Rob and I are very fortunate that we are capable of continuing to see Evelyn twice a day while leaving Olivia home with my parents. Many parents don’t have that option. I hate the thought of Evelyn being there all alone, it feels different with Olivia home. I felt like at least they had each other before.  I hate leaving while she is still awake, but I  want to get home to get back to Olivia… uuugh.

Hopefully only three to four more days of this. Onto what is important. New pics of our teeny girls.

IMG_0260Last day together!

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IMG_2719She’s getting cheeks!

IMG_2687Yay! Food!

IMG_0282Go baby girl, go!

IMG_2736The NICU is getting boring Mom, let’s bounce.

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IMG_2660We are hitting the road!

IMG_2675This place is much more colorful than the NICU.

IMG_2677Mom and Dad’s bed, huzzah!

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IMG_2697Baths are highly questionable.

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IMG_2673All of our cats find Olivia completely terrifying. They run when she makes noise. She’s very dangerous.

Housekeeping: I will be doing one post a week, instead of two, for the next little bit. Hope everyone is okay with this plan..

Evelyn & Olivia, Week One

Tomorrow my teeny babies will be a week old. I don’t know how I can begin to describe what getting to know them has been like.

Evelyn is currently smaller than Olivia but she’s ferocious. She nurses with extreme enthusiasm for such a little body. She is easily distracted from eating though, which makes it difficult to get enough calories in her. She loves to look around when she is out of her bassinet, it makes me think that being in there must be boring for her.

IMG_2531Here she is, volunteering to be fed first.

IMG_2487This is the face she makes while you are trying to feed her. She wants to see everything.

IMG_2489Yeah, this is a lot of boob. I don’t care. It’s my current favorite.

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IMG_2557Her nurse had just dressed her in a hat and mittens. It went well.

Olivia was initially more fussy than Evelyn, but now that she is on a feeding schedule she doesn’t want to be woken up. Wake her up when it is time to eat and not before! She is faster at taking a bottle and getting all of her food down.

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IMG_2594I am going to sleep through my feeding, that’s cool, right?

IMG_2597How about if I sleep through being burped?

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IMG_2500High fives for everyone!

Currently, the only real way to tell them apart is their cheeks. Because Olivia weighs that little bit more, she has newborn cheeks that are filling out. Evelyn is a little behind in the cheek department. Other than that, they look pretty identical. They both have large eyes and their dad’s hairline.

IMG_2515Hello, ladies.

One week postpartum feels like a different world. For one, as I said in my first post, c-sections are no joke. Ow oh dear God, ow. I never really stopped to consider that even if you have a c-section you will bleed after birth. Thinking about it now, that clearly makes sense. But that doesn’t mean it is fun to have an incision healing and be wearing pads that are larger than your babies’ diapers (for real, yo).

On top of the blood, because that isn’t enough, is the milk. I am crazy sauce grateful that my milk has come in with no issue. I tried to mentally prepare to be unable to nurse, but let’s not lie, I would have lost my shit. So, the fact that I have no issues thus far is a huge blessing. However, I am freaking covered in milk. All over. I leak, I drip, I spill. I am still learning what to wear. The answer is.. nothing that can’t be covered in milk.

Baby blues are real. I feel all of the feels. Ever wondered what it was like to ugly cry in a Taco Bell? Have a baby. I was crying because Evelyn was awake when we left the NICU and I didn’t want her to feel abandoned. My anxiety levels are higher, I feel sadness more keenly, I miss Rob and the girls even when I am near them. However, I am currently feeling joy abundantly. You win some, you lose some. Rob isn’t taking off work until the girls come home from the NICU and visiting the girls without him is hard.

Doesn’t he want to sit with me and cry about how beautiful our babies are?

35 weeks

Friday night I started having contractions. No surprise. I always have contractions. But instead of tapering off, these continued to mount until I had to admit it was time to do something about it. Rob called my OB and it was the on-call doctor. Cue lots of swearing on my part. Rob, being the lovely man he is, told the nurse that if I had to deal with the on-call doctor again I was likely to kill someone. (Side note: I have since met him and he is not a lovely person.) So they woke up my OB. I said no drugs to stop labor. I was done.

OB decided to check my cervix, give me fluids to see if that slowed labor, then check cervix again. It was looking like we might be having babies that night so Mom, Dad, and Rob all came with me to L&D. First cervix check I was 3 cm. Second, I was 5 cm. Holy crap. It was baby time. My OB was on his way and they started prepping me for a c-section. What? I just felt like.. is this really happening? For sure? OMG I AM NOT READY WHAT THE HELL DID I SIGN UP FOR.

Everyone was in the room, waiting, trying to remain calm.

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IMG_0070Dad was really helping me keep it together.

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IMG_0071Mom and Jilli actually helped me by showing me photos and videos of Ainsley and kittens with hedgehogs. I had  become convinced that one of them wasn’t going to be okay. I was so nervous. Kittens and Ainsley pics helped.

IMG_0087When it was time for Rob to suit up, it felt completely surreal.

The anesthesiologist came in and they took me away to the operating room. They sat me on the edge of the operating table and it was exactly like they show on TV. A nurse held my hands while the anesthesiologist did the spinal block. Needles don’t particularly bother me so I wasn’t scared, but I was so so nervous about this being it. No going back. Babies. I was squeezing my nurse’s hands while my back started feeling heavy and weird. They laid me on my back and spread me out like a starfish and all of a sudden I couldn’t feel or move my legs. I just lost it. It was the scariest thing I have ever experienced. I said, I am going to be sick.. And then I was. I just kept asking for Rob. I tried with everything I could to not think about my legs.

Then Rob was there. Hallelujah. I told the OR team that he was a fainter (he is, sorry love). So he was going to be at my head in a chair. But he was everything I needed. He held my hand and kept kissing my forehead through his mask.

My OB walked in and it was go time. I had a huge curtain in front of me and Rob so I couldn’t see what was going on, but it went surprisingly fast. Lots of tugging and pulling and then there was Baby A or, Evelyn, as she has been known to us for months. I could hear her making noise but she wasn’t screaming. She was taken to the corner of the room to be cleaned and measured while my OB started on Baby B. One minute later Baby B, Olivia, was born. She came out screaming. No worries about Olivia’s lungs. While they started cleaning me up Rob took pictures of both girls and cut the cords.

IMG_0082Evelyn D’Ann Ford – Born October 4, 2014, 3:22 a.m. – 4 lbs 1 oz – 17 inches

IMG_0091Olivia D’Ann Ford – Born October 4, 2014, 3:23 a.m. – 4 lbs 12 oz – 17 inches

They brought both girls over to me but just to look. I didn’t get to touch them until much later. They took them off to the NICU with Rob while they finished up with me. I could see all of what they were doing to me in the reflection of a cabinet. Weirdly, seeing all of my insides bothered me way less than losing the use of my legs. I was then taken to recover for 2 hours with Rob. The rest of the morning is pretty blurry, to be honest. I was on drugs and exhausted. But the next thing I remember is getting to see the girls.

IMG_2356Evelyn is smaller, but had no issues breathing right from the beginning. For being preemies, they have very few health concerns.

IMG_0016_2Olivia needed some oxygen, which is what the tubes in her nose were for.

On Saturday morning, I finally got to see and hold both girls.

IMG_0052If you can’t tell, I am wrecked. This one is Olivia.

IMG_0113_2Hi Olivia! She got her tubes out Saturday afternoon.

IMG_0048_2Evelyn is the smaller of the two, but I can barely tell.

IMG_0072_2Olivia likes her toes like this.

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IMG_0135On Sunday Mom, Dad, and Jill got to hold the girls. Dad totally kept it together… not.

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IMG_0122_2Rob got to do skin to skin with Olivia.

IMG_0169Rob was just a little nervous about holding both Evelyn and Olivia at the same time..

I was discharged today. I know a lot of NICU moms find it hard to leave the hospital while their babies are still there, but I was ready. I find it nearly impossible to sleep in a hospital bed. Yesterday I was trying to explain to Rob that I had bacon for breakfast and I couldn’t even pronounce bacon. I have already slept more today than I had all weekend.

We went back this evening to feed the girls…

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IMG_0128Being born is exhausting…

IMG_0130Both girls are under lights to treat jaundice. This is pretty run of the mill for preemies. Rob thinks they look like they are getting ready to be in a Lady Gaga video.

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Sooo. Life now. I wake up confused most of the time. Whether this is from the earth shattering change to my life or the Percocet, I am not entirely sure. My c-section incision kills like no other. I can barely stand without crying. I am tired and overwhelmed and not really sure what normal is going to be from this point forward. My milk hasn’t come in yet, which is normal but stressful. The girls latch like champs, but no milk yet. I pump every three hours. I am currently sitting here in a maternity skirt and a nursing bra. Apparently I need some after baby clothes.

My fears were right on the money when it comes to telling them apart. If they weren’t labelled I would be screwed. I am hoping that as they get older, and have their eyes open more often, it will get easier.

I am so in love with these new tiny people, I don’t even know what to do with myself. Rob and I sat in the NICU this evening, each feeding a baby. We were just looking at each other like.. how did we get this lucky?

More to come..

34 weeks

34 weeks and the girls are cantaloupes! 34 weeks is awesome because their lungs are dooone! Yay developed lungs. At my ultrasound on Friday we could see them breathing in and out. Eeep.

Compared to last week, this week was surprisingly uneventful. Only one brief trip to L&D because my face suddenly puffed up. I wanted to just be like hey man, whatever about it, but I was vetoed. They checked my heart rate, blood pressure, urine, blood, blah blah blah. I was fine. Quickest trip to L&D yet!

On Wednesday I saw my OB for my regular scheduled appointment – what a shock. He doesn’t measure the babies, my perinatologist does that, so I was a little bummed that I didn’t get an update on the girls’ weights. Each time I get a new measurement of E & O I set a new mini goal. My last mini goal was over 3 lbs. My new mini goal is over 5 lbs. They are supposed to gain at the rate of ½ lb a week, so this is pretty feasible. I also would love them to be born with the ability to nurse. To do this, they have to have the ability to suck, swallow, breathe, in sync. This is something that babies “learn” in utero pretty close to their due date. I haven’t set that as a goal.. because I just don’t know.

My OB checked my cervix, no change. 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. He still thinks about 36 is where I will land. I am not going to lie, it is getting harder and harder to want to keep these babies in. I am huge. People don’t even pretend they aren’t staring at me anymore. My back hurts, my stomach hurts (both inside and out), I am eating Tums like candy, I am starting to feel an enormous amount of pressure on my pelvis and back, baby kicks have gone from adorable to painful. I could go on, but I don’t need to throw myself a pity party here. Part of me says 36 weeks is awesome! The other part says 2 more weeks?! ARRRGHHHHH!!!! This is a mental marathon as much as it is a physical one. I have a growth and measurement appointment at 35 weeks which is one of the things that is helping me keep going. I like knowing how big they are. I don’t like surprises.

Rob was able to have his whole trip to England, for which I am grateful. I wanted him to go and enjoy himself so badly. Every time he talked to me I could tell he was concerned. I wanted him to be there as much as he could. I would say things like, I had heartburn today. He would be like.. and? And that’s it. That’s how boring it is over here. Go have fun. He brought back the most adorable baby clothes from his family and friends. English baby clothes seem to be more bunnies and pastels, less princesses and glitter. I LOVE IT.

Onto bump watch, 34 weeks!

IMG_2290Jillian gets annoyed when I don’t bring my A-game to our photo shoots.  This is what ensued.

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IMG_2294Rawr. 34 weeks!

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IMG_2299This is my normal state. Pained and somewhat confused.

IMG_2300Hello ladies. 

IMG_2301Also, did you notice that fall exploded on our porch? Fall babies! To be honest, I really would prefer October babies. So as badly as I want them out, they can’t come earlier than Wednesday. Priorities, people.

 

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