Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

It's my first real Father's Day!  While I love and appreciate my own father (and will consider my adult self a success if I can be half the man he is), this holiday has never been anything special.  It was always just another day.  Boy does that all change when you become a dad!  There is nothing in life that I am more proud of than being a father.

I have a very strange memory, as most of you well know.  I can hear a quote from a TV show or movie and remember/repeat it for the rest of my life.  In fact, probably 1/4 of everything I say is a direct quote from something I have seen (Jurassic Park is one of the most common sources).  In everything else my memory is par for the course or a little worse.  I would be hard pressed to answer correctly if you asked me what I ate for dinner yesterday.  Oddly I do remember the first meal Crystal ever cooked me though (way to a man's heart!).

Memory background stated, I am amazed at how many things with these babies are permanently engraved in my memory.  I still remember the feeling when I first saw them in the operating room.  I can remember what I was doing, where I was, and exactly what it sounded like the first time one of the babies (Alton) ever laughed out loud.  I remember the first time I saw one of them roll over (Ashlyn).

I even cherish the negative memories.  I will always recall what Neutramigen smells like from Ashlyn throwing it up all over me so many times.  I can recognize the sound of Alton crying from the other side of our church building.  As frustrating as it is for all their eating troubles, I will look back on all the opportunities to snuggle with them, while screaming or not, for so long with gratitude.

I am so happy and proud to be a father.  I love everything about it, even the hard times.  I know that in the future I will look back at getting up at 2am to help a screaming baby, feeding a child who wants to do anything but eat, and watching the bank account balance plummet as we purchase formula after formula as nothing but fond memories.  Happy Father's Day, everyone.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

5 Months

Well, technically 5.75 months... Oh well :)  Time is just flying... and yet sometimes... not so much :)

I'll talk about the less fun stuff first so we can get to the fun stuff.

Alton has/had been struggling with eating.  He just started to hate it.  He had been taking 6oz at a time and then all of a sudden, he would hit 3oz and he was just done.  Every feeding.  We couldn't figure it out.  He was having a lot of reflux too.  We'd burp him, walk around, find distractions.... anything and everything, we tried.  I went to the doctor and they wanted him to try the nasty formula Ashlyn was on (nutramigen).  He wouldn't even taste it.  As soon as a drop hit his lips he was like, "what the nasty??".  Needless to say, there was a day where he really didn't eat anything.  Then the doc put him on another formula, Alimentum.  That stuff smelled NASTY.  I even put him on a higher flow nipple. He drank it okay, but still was having the same issues.  Not eating more than 3oz at a time.  He would just cry and he couldn't calm himself down.  It was a long few weeks.  Then, we tried another formula.  Similac for spit up.  He slowly got better and all of a sudden in a few days, he sucked all of his 6oz in like 6mins!  He has been doing amazing lately.  He still has a few feedings where he won't take the whole thing, but that's normal.  At least it's not every feeding!!

Then the next issue came for Alton that we are still dealing with.  He won't let anyone else feed him, but me.  Which is fine.... until I have to do something and Jon is alone with the babies.  As soon as I take him, he eats no problem.  It's a bit ridiculous.  What a momma's boy ;)

Ashlyn is still struggling with eating.  She has come so far though and has been doing so much better than she had been.  So, it's all about perspective, right??  It has been a few weeks since she has thrown up.  What a relief.  However, she really doesn't care about eating.  She's not very enthusiastic about it.  She will suck on the nipple, but then she has a bad habit of not swallowing.  So it fills up her mouth and then I don't know if she's scared to swallow or what the deal is but she starts to freak out and then once she swallows it, then she'll suck on the nipple again.  Very weird.  I have also changed her formula.  Nutramigen was just so expensive.  Even with coupons.  It was $35 for the value size can and she went through about a can and a half a week.  I was thankfully able to find another formula that is cheaper that she seems okay with.  I have tried waiting longer to feed her, but it's still the same.  We tried a higher flow nipple and that was a disaster.  She just "drowns" in it.  Oh well.  It will come.  The good news is that she is eating more.  It just takes a really long time.  30-40mins to feed her.  I just keep telling myself, "I will never get this back.  She will never be this small again, so enjoy it while you can".  That and church music help get me through feedings :)

Here is our current stash of formula that we have had to try...  I recently threw out some opened ones that they can no longer eat.  The only ones we didn't pay for are the ready to pour liquid ones that we got as samples from the doctor.  Between the two babies, we are on our 7th type of formula. 

Now to the fun stuff!

We started  rice cereal!  Feeding them for the first time was fun.  No crying!  They were both skeptical about what was going on and made the classic baby faces when they first tasted it.  They are still both trying to figure out what they think about it, but so far it is going pretty well.

They both can hold their heads up really well and are getting better at tummy time!  Ashlyn usually immediately rolls over when we put her on her tummy.  So she has the tummy to back roll down pat.  Alton can do it too pretty well.

When Ashlyn is on her back she likes to find things to put her feet on so she will turn her body (a full 180 if she has to) to find something like the little foam rod on her playmat.  She is also really good about turning from her back to her side.  She is so close to going from her back to tummy, but it hasn't quite happened yet.

Alton loves his buzzing rocking chair.  He just has a grand ol' time in it.  He likes to hold onto his octopus while he is in it.  He loves playing with this musical dog toy from a playmat from some friends that is above him.  He knows how to turn it on and he just laughs and kicks his feet when the dog starts moving.

Ashlyn has a favorite toy already.  We call it her "BFF Jill".  It's this plastic doll that she will just start cooing at whenever she sees it.  Her eyes go wide and she gets a big smile when we bring out "bff jill" lol.

They have both finally found their feet!!

Alton is so good at grabbing things.  You can just see him thinking about it.  He'll hold onto his toys and shake them a little until they fall out of his hands or he tosses them haha.  He loves to look at picture/board books.

They are both really good about sitting in their bumbo chairs.  They used to spit up as soon as we put them in the chairs, but now it doesn't happen as often.  Improvement!!  We are working on sitting and I am hoping that within a few weeks, they'll start figuring out to sit on their own.  I have a feeling that Alton will do it first.  He loves to be sitting or being held in a standing position.  Which is why we bought some "walkers".  Their feet can barely touch the floor in them, but it holds them upright and their bodies don't fold in funny to cause them to spit up, so it's perfect.  Ashlyn's came in the mail first and I think Alton's will come today (I got a really good deal on amazon)!  They both love being in it!


They are a joy to have and they are so fun to play with.  Feedings will eventually get better... I'm hoping.  We love them both so very much. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mother's Day

Last year on Mother's day Jon and I had a hunch that IVF worked, but we hadn't gotten the official  word from the doctor.  The day after mother's day is when we found out.  So timely :)

Now that I am a mom, it is surreal.  I still look at these babies and think, "I have TWO kids???"  and I still feel like I have no idea what I'm doing :) 

Some things I love about being a mom:

-Going to get the babies from their cribs and they just start smiling really big, flapping their arms and kicking their feet because they are so happy. 
-Bath time.  They both make the funniest faces when they're in the tub.  Alton loves to splash... he thinks we need a bath too. He kicks his legs and waves his arms in the water. :)  Ashlyn makes a lot of noises and splashes with her hands.
-Watching them grow into their own personalities
-Hearing them laugh

There are so many things I could list.  They are really special babies and they fit in perfectly with us. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Still Alive

I know... we have so much to catch up on.  What's new??  Anyways, I just wanted to share this before I forgot.  A friend of mine sent me this article and it gave us a good laugh :)

Steve Wiens: To Parents of Small Children: Let Me Be the One Who Says It Out Loud

I am in a season of my life right now where I feel bone-tired almost all of the time. Ragged, how-am-I-going-to-make-it-to-the-end-of-the-day, eyes burning exhausted.

I have three boys ages 5 and under. I'm not complaining about that. Well, maybe I am a little bit. But I know that there are people who would give anything for a house full of laughter and chaos. I was that person for years and years; the pain of infertility is stabbing and throbbing and constant. I remember allowing hope to rise and then seeing it crash all around me, month after month, for seven years. I am working on another post about infertility that will come at a later date.

But right now, in my actual life, I have three boys ages 5 and under. There are many moments where they are utterly delightful, like last week, when Isaac told my sister-in-law that, "My daddy has hair all over." Or when Elijah put a green washcloth over his chin and cheeks, and proudly declared, "Daddy! I have a beard just like you!" Or when Ben sneaks downstairs in the morning before the other boys do, smiles at me, and says, "Daddy and Ben time."

But there are also many moments when I have no idea how I'm going to make it until their bedtime. The constant demands, the needs and the fighting are fingernails across the chalkboard every single day.

One of my children is for sure going to be the next Steve Jobs. I now have immense empathy for his parents. He has a precise vision of what he wants -- exactly that way and no other way. Sometimes, it's the way his plate needs to be centered exactly to his chair, or how his socks go on, or exactly how the picture of the pink dolphin needs to look -- with brave eyes, not sad eyes, daddy! He is a laser beam, and he is not satisfied until it's exactly right.

I have to confess that sometimes, the sound of his screaming drives me to hide in the pantry. And I will neither confirm nor deny that while in there, I compulsively eat chips and/or dark chocolate.

There are people who say this to me:

"You should enjoy every moment now! They grow up so fast!"

I usually smile and give some sort of guffaw, but inside, I secretly want to hold them under water. Just for a minute or so. Just until they panic a little.

If you have friends with small children -- especially if your children are now teenagers or if they're grown -- please vow to me right now that you will never say this to them. Not because it's not true, but because it really, really doesn't help.

We know it's true that they grow up too fast. But feeling like I have to enjoy every moment doesn't feel like a gift, it feels like one more thing that is impossible to do, and right now, that list is way too long. Not every moment is enjoyable as a parent; it wasn't for you, and it isn't for me. You just have obviously forgotten. I can forgive you for that. But if you tell me to enjoy every moment one more time, I will need to break up with you.

If you are a parent of small children, you know that there are moments of spectacular delight, and you can't believe you get to be around these little people. But let me be the one who says the following things out loud:

You are not a terrible parent if you can't figure out a way for your children to eat as healthy as your friend's children do. She's obviously using a bizarre and probably illegal form of hypnotism.

You are not a terrible parent if you yell at your kids sometimes. You have little dictators living in your house. If someone else talked to you like that, they'd be put in prison.

You are not a terrible parent if you can't figure out how to calmly give them appropriate consequences in real time for every single act of terrorism that they so creatively devise.

You are not a terrible parent if you'd rather be at work.

You are not a terrible parent if you just can't wait for them to go to bed.

You are not a terrible parent if the sound of their voices sometimes makes you want to drink and never stop.

You're not a terrible parent.

You're an actual parent with limits. You cannot do it all. We all need to admit that one of the casualties specific to our information saturated culture is that we have sky-scraper standards for parenting, where we feel like we're failing horribly if we feed our children chicken nuggets and we let them watch TV in the morning.

One of the reasons we are so exhausted is that we are oversaturated with information about the kind of parents we should be.

So, maybe it's time to stop reading the blogs that tell you how to raise the next president who knows how to read when she's 3 and who cooks, not only eats, her vegetables. Maybe it's time to embrace being the kind of parent who says sorry when you yell. Who models what it's like to take time for yourself. Who asks God to help you to be a better version of the person that you actually are, not for more strength to be an ideal parent.

So, the next time you see your friends with small children with that foggy and desperate look in their eyes, order them a pizza and send it to their house that night. Volunteer to take their kids for a few hours so they can be alone in their own house and have sex when they're not so tired, for heaven's sake. Put your hand on their shoulder, look them in the eyes, and tell them that they're doing a good job. Just don't freak out if they start weeping uncontrollably. Most of the time, we feel like we're botching the whole deal and our kids will turn into horrible criminals who hate us and will never want to be around us when they're older.

You're bone-tired. I'm not sure when it's going to get better. Today might be a good day or it might be the day that you lost it in a way that surprised even yourself.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

You're not alone.

After all that reading, you deserve a pic of the babies at 5mo :)  That update is coming soon... or at least it's on my to-do list :)