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Eleven months old, looking back: twins, mini van, & breastfeeding


Ultrasound October 2010
 In one month the babies will be one-year olds. Where has the time gone? I remember when we went to my first OBGyn appointment and they did a first trimester ultrasound. We were in an ultrasound room, watching the image projected on the wall. As soon as my womb was found, there was the image of two little circles nuzzled next to each other. The ultrasound tech, the doctor, myself, and my husband were silent for a moment. Our two-year old stared at the image on the wall, unaware that two little people were about to make their way into our lives. The doctor cleared his throat before he said something that I don't remember word for word, but was basically, "There are two babies in there." My husband and I were dazed and excited. Leaving the appointment I showed everyone in the lobby our ultrasound, "We are having twins! Look, two!" In the car we called our friends and family, texting pictures of the ultrasound to our disbelieving relatives. My husband would look over to me after hanging up with someone, "We need a new car!" I replied, "We need to move!" "We need another crib!" "And car seat!" "And a new stroller!" We quickly found a first floor three-bedroom apartment that we could push our brand new double stroller into. And then there was the question of whether or not we would become a mini van family.

There was much debating over which vehicle we would buy. My husband considered an SUV with an optional third row. However, one of our neighbors had bought one and we were able to look at the storage once the third row was up and we new it would not accomodate our family, especially when factoring in our stroller and stuff (how do such tiny people require such an enormous amount of stuff?). I dug my heels in and demanded a Suburban. My husband agreed, since it would be my vehicle. God bless him, he searched. He looked in states four hours from here. However, everything that popped up-- in our price range-- was the base model: cloth seats, radio (occasionally a CD player in there), older, no features, lots of miles. Just to compare, we looked at mini vans. I confided that I liked the look of the brand new Toyota Sienna. We said, "Let's go look at one, just to, you know, say we did." Sitting on the heated leather seats with the multi-disc CD changers, sunroof, power sliding doors, steering wheel controls, I felt my heart pull in the direction of a mini van. The new Sienna was, again, out of our price range. The Honda Odyssey, well, we could afford that... Perhaps to help make ourselves feel better, we looked at other types of mini vans. The storage was appaling when you consider that it is a family vehicle. Out of the mini vans, we say, we made the best choice in our price range. My sister, on the other hand, would say that we still are driving a mini van. I usually mumble something to her about how great sliding doors are when you have little kids. But, if I'm being honest, I absolutely love my mini van. Yes, I wish I had the inside of our mini van in a Suburban package. I love how I can customize the seating arrangements and that there are seven cupholders for the driver, three of which will hold 44-ounce Diet Coke's without having to hold them when I take a turn. And I love the power sliding doors.

North Carolina March 2012
During the pregnancy, we struggled through frequent OBGyn appointments, weekly and then biweekly ultrasounds, "taking it easy," modified bed rest, a hospital stay (for preterm labor), and back to bedrest. My husband frequently juggling his home life and schoolwork more than was comfortable. The babies were born the week before his finals (excellent timing, I know). And suddenly we were home with newborn twins and a two and a half-year old.

Neither of the babies had a sucking reflex, making nursing very difficult. On top of their frequent newborn appointments for various things the doctors were watching (they were born at 35-weeks), we spent a lot of time at the lactation consultant. I spent two-months working with the lactation consultant and the babies before the stress of nursing overlapped my responsibilites. I know that if I had more help with the kids during the day (for instance, a live-in nanny), I would have been able to work through the nursing issues. At the end of it, I was pumping for a total of four hours a day, which was a lot when you factor in that the babies were required to eat every four hours and I still had to actually feed them, work on nursing, clean the pump parts and supplement bottles, change diapers, take care of my two-year old, make meals, and, oh, you know, shower. My momma was a huge support to me during that time, encouraging me whenever I called, even when I needed the pep-talk multiple times a day. Eventually I realized that my children needed a mom who was focused on them, not just on breastfeeding. Having breastfed with my first, I remembered how precious that time was with my son. I felt involved and that I was doing something good for him, giving him something only I could provide. When managing the household and overcoming nursing issues became such a conflict, I continued seeing my lactation consultant who helped me see that being present-- not frustrated and stressed over nursing issues-- was another, albeit different, way of giving them that same love that they won't receive from anyone else. Who loves you like your mother does? As strange as it may sound, knowing how I felt in my heart about nursing my boys became a comfort to me because I knew that I would have nursed them if I could. The challenges we had required much more time than I was able to give. I needed to take care of my two-year old and I needed to remove myself from the stress of feeding. By week seven, my supply began decreasing because of stress and lack of nursing. Previously I pumped as frequently as I could, following the schedule plotted out by my lactation consultant. When my supply decreased, I cut out the pumping in the night and slowly came to terms that we would switch to bottles. Returning the breastpump to the hospital was very difficult. I actually almost rented the pump again, struggling to leave the office, and explaining the whole story to the woman.

Using shoe sizers as skiis
North Carolina March 2012
 Having two babies was challenging in several ways, not just in figuring out how to schedule them or what you need, but figuring out the emotional needs of all our boys. My husband and I decided very early on that we wanted to raise our boys as brothers, not as "the twins and the older brother." Going out with the boys, I am stopped frequently, "Are those twins? You have your hands full!" Most of the time D is standing ignored next to the stroller. Often times people want to compare the babies, looking from one to the other and guessing who is who. Right now the boys are young enough not to care; eventually D is going to realize that he isn't a twin and the babies are going to tire of constantly being compared. We want our boys' confidence to come from their values and sense of self, not because they happened to share a womb. I read a book that talked about treating your twins as individuals and, after discussing it with my husband, we really liked a lot of the ideas presented in the book. Many of these ideas don't really have anything to do with twins, but in our parenting foundation. A friend of mine blogged about parenting her son, talking about values that we too hold dear. We want C and O to feel loved and special because they are our sons, not because they are twins, and D to feel that he is perfect just the way he is. We desire to treat our boys as indivduals so that when they go out in the world, they will have a strong sense of self that started at home. The world may always treat them as a "twin" or "the older brother of twins." They need to be able to not take it to heart.

And here we are with eleven-month olds, one of which is going to start walking any day. D took his first steps the night of his first birthday party. My sister and husband were present to the meltdown that ensued (I may have said that he was going to start college soon). I felt like D's first birthday crept up on me, even though time dragged that first year. This time I knew that the first year actually goes by very quickly. And it did. No matter how hard I tried to savor each moment, it still slipped through my fingers, now memories.

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