Life In the Fast Lane

Oh me, oh my. It’s been far too long since I’ve sat down to blog. It seems life is moving so quickly and each moment of my day is filled to the brim with caring for babies, giving Lila my attention, working, exercising and trying my best to be a present wife, friend, daughter and sister.

Sadly, time for blogging has been hard to come by.

Beyond being busy busy, life has been really good lately. Our boys are now nine months old (!!!) and getting cuter and cuter by the day. They’re crawling all over the house, eating solids like bottomless pits and letting their personalities show.

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Davis may win the award for World’s Happiest Baby. The dude seriously just smiles all day long, giggles when you just look in his direction and seems to absolutely love life.

A great example of how chill Davis is happened today. We drove 3 hours home from visiting Luke’s parents and unbeknowngst to any of us, Davis was sitting on top of five of Lila’s mini, plastic My Little Ponies the whole time. You never would have known little plastic toys were digging into his back based on how quiet and happy he was!

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Whitaker in contrast is a little beef ball. If he does not like something, he will LET YOU KNOW IT! He exudes personality and goes from giggling, to yelling, to crying and back to giggling all within minutes. He’s very physical and is usually crawling into every nook and cranny of our first floor just checking things out.

Whit is a serious little baby and you can tell he’s thinking, thinking, thinking constantly. He’s also very vocal and is always blabbering to us. He is judicious with his smiles, so when you get one, you know it’s really special.

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The boys are starting to show that special twin bond. Just recently they’ve started smiling and giggling at each other. They still mostly play next to each other, but occasionally I’ll see them playing together – usually in the form of crawling on top of each other, pulling each other’s hair, or stealing a toy.

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Lila seems to be maturing so much these days. She’s morphing into a little girl and I couldn’t be prouder of her.

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I was worried how things would go once the boys were here and my time was split into thirds when she was used to having it all for 3.5 years. If anything, I think this change has been very positive for her.

She’s learned to entertain herself, be more patient if I’m busy and become very self-sufficient. The other day I was so impressed when she saw I was busy with the boys and got her art cart out to do art on her own for an hour.

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She’s gotten really into playing make believe and every day for our “play time together” we play barbies. I’m usually the little girl and she’s the mommy or babysitter. We play out little storylines that usually seem to intersect with what’s actually happening in her life. It’s a special time for the two of us and I love getting a glimpse into how she perceives her world.

We’ve been fortunate enough to find two great babysitters who watch the kids two afternoons a week while I work, and for date nights. Those first six months with the twins were all-consuming, so it feels good to get some time away to focus on my career and time with my main squeeze.

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I’m not going to lie, there are times when I feel like our life is so hectic and chaotic I’m not sure how we get through the day. On the good days, when everything goes according to plan, I catch myself thinking “twins are not so hard!”

But when one gets sick, or Luke has to travel, or things get out of whack, I can feel like a chicken with it’s head cut off. Like I’m just running around attending to someone’s needs every minute of the day. On those days I’ve found some good ice cream and talking with Luke about our life brings my perspective back in line.

Life certainly is an adventure with these kids. It’s hilarious, frustrating, joyous, difficult, unrelenting and satisfying all at once. Through the ups, downs and very full days, I take solace knowing that being their mother is exactly what I’m meant to be.

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We Survived 6 Months!

When I was pregnant and met other twin moms, they mostly said the same thing, “Get through the first six months and it gets much easier.” Well I’m excited to say that the boys are officially six months old and we’re all still kicking!

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These past six months have been some of the craziest I’ve ever experienced. It started with a hospital stay for me due to preeclampsia, the boys being born six weeks premature and a month long NICU stay. Flash forward to today, and we have two healthy, thriving boys, a content and curious almost-four-year-old and a lot more sleep all around.

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Here are some six month stats for the boys:

Whitaker has always been the bigger of the two, and now weighs in at 15 lbs 2 oz or 14th percentile. He is 26.7 inches tall or 58th percentile. For a preemie, it’s great that he’s even on the scale, let alone above 50th percentile. He eats a TON. The boy will put down 7-8 ounces like it’s nothing. He just started eating solid food and is loving it so far.

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His play routine involves:

1. playing with a toy on his back for a few minutes

2. Rolling to his stomach

3. Realizing he still cannot figure out how to roll back

4. Screaming in frustration until I put him in “baby time out,” which is his rock n play with a toy

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When he’s not locked into this routine, Whit tends to be a very happy, smiley and grunty baby. Yes, grunty. This boy is always sniffing and snuffing and generally making monster-like noises. He’s our little meatball.

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Davis is our small guy. He’s just 13 lbs 4 oz or 1st percentile for weight. For height he is 25.3 inches or 8th percentile. If he was my first baby I may be worried about his size, but Lila was exactly the same. In fact, even being a full term baby, Lila weighed less than a pound more than Davis at six months. Now she’s 97th percentile for height! Besides, they say preemies typically don’t “catch up” to the scale until age 2.

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Davis continues to be going for the world record for the World’s Easiest Baby. This boy is all sweetness and happiness and ease. He flashes me the biggest smiles and full on belly laughs at just about anything – especially his sister.

Davis thinks his big sister is HILARIOUS! #davisray #lilakate #siblinglove

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Davis rolls both ways, likes playing with toys and going for walks. Mostly this guy likes just about anything you throw at him. The only times he gets upset is when his brother rolls on top of him, or his bottle gets temporarily “borrowed” to calm his hungry (loud) brother first. :)

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One the biggest challenges and victories for me these past six months has been my journey breastfeeding twins. Since the boys were in the NICU at first, they were exclusively on bottles. I started off exclusively pumping and thankfully had a great supply.

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I worked my butt off those first 12 weeks to transition the boys from bottles to nursing. It took a lot of practice, five trips to a lactation consultant, lip tie revision for both boys, a bout of mastitis and a LOT of frustration, but we finally got there. I had a lot of support from my sister who pushed me to keep trying in the early days when I wanted to give up.

Now both boys do a mixture of bottle feeding and nursing depending on the day. They have been exclusively on my breastmilk since they were three days old. Producing enough milk for twins (60 ounces a day!) is a pretty crazy undertaking for my body, so I’m proud to have accomplished this goal. I couldn’t have done it without the support of Luke who always helped me make it a priority to pump or nurse.

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The boys are both sleeping from about 8pm – 6:45 am, which has drastically improved the quality of our lives. I don’t do well being sleep deprived. It took my body quite awhile to learn how to sleep longer than a few hours at a time once they slept through, but I’m finally starting to know what feeling rested is like again.

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People often ask me if having twins is totally crazy. I tell them yes, and no. There are moments where everything is chaos and I feel like we live in the circus, but there are also moments where I feel like we manage very well and that having twins isn’t THAT much more work than having one baby. It helps a lot to have a very involved partner and supportive friends and family.

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At the end of the day I wouldn’t have life any other way. Raising twins is such a unique experience and a total blessing. These boys are the perfect complement to our family.

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Update: Life With Two Month Old Twins

The boys are 2 1/2 months old and time has been absolutely flying! The days tend to blur together and the minute to minute tasks at times are mundane, but overall we are loving life as a family of five.

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It’s times like now that I am so grateful that both Luke and I work from home. The flexibility allows us to juggle work, babies, and even squeeze in a bit of personal time. They say it takes a village and that couldn’t be more true for us right now! We hired our next door neighbor’s daughter to help us transition through the summer three days a week, Lila attends school in the afternoons and my moms comes by regularly to help out.

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Luke and I each take a baby at night to lessen the burden on one of us. Typically Davis will sleep from 10:30 pm – 4:00 am and then back down until 7 or 8. Whitaker is a bit more unpredictable. Some nights he’ll sleep the same at Davis with one wake up, and others he’s up three or more times.

Breastfeeding has been challenging to say the least. For the first 8 weeks Whitaker could not latch at all and Davis could about one out of every eight attempts. It was incredibly frustrating. I saw multiple lactation consultants with not much help, until I decided to take them to a pediatric dentist to be evaluated for lip and tongue tie. Turns out both had rather severe lip ties preventing them from latching correctly. We had that revised via laser and after a very fussy few days, both boys were able to latch. Here’s Whit in a milk coma.

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Davis is a nursing pro by now, but Whitaker still has some issues. Specifically he clicks a lot when nursing and loses suction. So back to another lactation consultant we go! Thankfully my supply has been ample so I have been able to pump and bottle feed them exclusively with breastmilk. But I will say pumping, bottle feeding AND practicing nursing with twins is a heck of a lot of work.

Lila has been a very sweet big sister. Her “jobs” include playing with the babies during their awake time, putting pacifiers back in little mouths and fetching diapers. She loves being around the babies … sometimes a little too much. We are working to teach her about boundaries and how babies like to be touched. Her favorite time is when the babies join us in her bed for bedtime books and stories.


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We have become hermits this summer, spending most of our days at home. Going for a neighborhood walk feels like all the work I’m willing to tackle in a day! These boys like their routine at home and we’re slowly figuring each of them out.

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Davis is a super chill guy. He is my trick baby. Meaning if I didn’t know better, I would think based on his behavior that all babies are easy! He doesn’t cry much and is generally happy. He makes these cute sounds like a goat when he’s trying to get our attention like “Um, hey guys? I’m a little displeased about something over here. Do you think you could come help me? Not right now? Oh okay.” That’s how he earned his nickname Goat Boy (aren’t we nice??).

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Whitaker is a bit spicier. He goes from zero to a hundred in two seconds flat and he is a strong boy! He’s a full pound and a half bigger than Davis and very muscular for a baby. Luke jokes that when I got steroids in the hospital that they all went to Whitaker, which is why he’s so strong and angry. We call him meatball.

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In terms of milestones, the boys are so close to smiling. I can just tell it’s going to happen soon. Otherwise, Whitaker about made me fall over the other day when he decided to roll over from his belly to his back multiple times. Like dude, slow down! You’re about two months early for that one.

 

Check out my new trick, guys! #whitakerjohn #2monthsold #34weeker

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Life has already changed so much since these boys were born. We are exhausted, covered in spit up and recluses, but honestly I’ve never been happier.

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After going through our struggle to have more children, everything about caring for these babies – down to changing a poopy diaper – gives me complete joy. I know just how lucky I am to call them mine.

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Many thanks to Luke’s talented cousin Carissa for coming to Toledo to take family photos! If you’re in the Indianapolis area, please consider booking Carissa Hawkins Photography for your newborn, family or maternity photos.

Our Twin’s Birth Story

Our boys are here! Whitaker John (right) and Davis Ray (left) made their debut on May 9 at 2:46 pm.

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My radio silence the past few months has been in part to the difficult third trimester and birth I experienced. I’ve been focused on healing myself and the rest of our family. What follows is everything that happened from the start of my third trimester until the boy’s delivery day, so bear with me.

In my last post I told you about how the second trimester of this twin pregnancy was routine and positive for me. Well it seemed like the moment I hit the third trimester, that all began to change. First, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. If you know me at all, you know I eat a very clean, healthy Paleo diet, so getting hit with diabetes was a big surprise.

Apparently GD is very common with twin pregnancies because of the increased amount of hormones being pumped out by not one, but two placentas. My gestational diabetes was likely due to this influx of hormones, because my diet was already very close to what they recommend. In fact, their main advice for me was to eat MORE carbohydrates. Also my fasting blood sugar was the hardest to control, so they put me on insulin to try to manage it.

A few weeks after my diabetes diagnosis, the swelling began. It started gradually in my feet, then I noticed my rings no longer fit, then I got carpal tunnel in my wrist and finally by the end, I was swollen all up my legs the the point where if you pressed my skin, an indentation would be left for a few minutes.

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I also became increasingly uncomfortable. It was hard to walk for more than a few minutes without getting pelvic pain, rolling over in bed became an olympic sport, and my braxton hicks contractions picked up a lot of steam. I even found myself in labor & delivery at 28 weeks for non-stop 8 minute apart contractions. Thankfully after five hours, they ceased that night, but I continued to have contractions daily.

At 33 weeks I went to see my OB and my blood pressure was slightly elevated at 140/98. They asked me to monitor it at home and at my maternal fetal medicine appointment the next day. At that appointment, my blood pressure was up in the 160’s/100’s, so I was immediately admitted to the hospital for monitoring.

What followed was a week spent in the hospital and what was honestly one of the most physically trying weeks of my life. The first night there, they told me I would be delivering immediately because of my blood pressure. I was obviously totally freaked out at the idea of delivering the twins at just 33 weeks, so I pushed to just try to control my pressures with medication to buy myself some more time.

My doctor’s agreed and immediately hooked me up to magnesium in my IV. Magnesium helps calm your nervous system and prevent seizures in women with preeclampsia. It also makes you feel like your skin is burning off, you have a horrible flu and you are insanely thirsty. This was torturous considering I wasn’t allowed to drink anything – even ice chips – in case I ended up with an emergency csection.

Oh that’s the other thing, after weeks of baby A being head down and baby B laying sideways, both decided to flip to breech that day, so my hopes for a VBAC were dashed and I would definitely be having a csection.

After that first night, they were able to get my blood pressure back down into the 140’s/90’s and agreed to let me delay delivering if I stayed in the hospital for monitoring. If you’ve ever stayed in a hospital, you know that it’s not exactly the best environment to lower blood pressure.

Every hour through the night a nurse would wake me up to take my vitals, which meant I was severely sleep deprived. I had to lay flat on my back to have the babies monitored for about 4 hours a day, which any pregnant person knows is incredibly uncomfortable. Finally, I had a lot of doctors and nurses regaling me with tales of patients who died or whose babies died in my situation. Not the best way to lower my blood pressure!!

In addition to the preeclampsia issues, I also went into active labor two consecutive nights. My contractions were every 3-4 minutes and painful enough that I could not talk through them. So twice again I was wheeled into labor & delivery, prepped for a csection and not allowed to eat or drink anything for 12 hours. Both times my labor was stopped with a medication.

Throughout this whole time, Luke was by my side and my rock. He slept in a chair by my bed, advocated for me with the doctors and reassured me that everything would be alright. He even painted my toenails after I complained that I felt so gross and unattractive in the hospital.

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After a week of this crazy emotional and physical roller coaster, my blood pressure spiked one more time to 171/110 and the high risk doctor insisted that I deliver the boys the next morning. By this time I was officially 34 weeks, the boys had had a round of steroids to mature their lungs and magnesium to help mature their brains, so everyone felt comfortable with their prospects post birth.

My doctor wasn’t able to deliver me until 2:00 pm, so again I spent another night with nothing to eat or drink past midnight + a nice big bag of nasty magnesium pumped into my IV. By the time I was wheeled into the delivery room, my body and spirit were so weak, I was just ready to have the boys out.

My surgery went well, and at 2:46 pm Davis Ray was born first with his brother Whitaker John coming almost immediately after. The doctor actually said she pulled Davis out and Whitaker reached his arms out after him almost saying “wait! come back!”

The doctor lowered the screen so I could see them both being born and they were brought over to me and Luke to hold and snuggle for a new minutes.

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The boys were a great weight for their gestational age and for the fact that they are twins – Whitaker was 6 lbs 3 oz and Davis was 5 lbs 8 oz. Both had no issues breathing, maintaining their temperature or really anything else. However, due to their gestational age, they were immediately admitted to the NICU.

Probably the hardest time for me was after their birth. They were gone in the NICU and I was not allowed to be with them for 24 hours because I had to be hooked up to magnesium yet again post delivery. They would not allow me to do my magnesium up in the NICU because a nurse had to be with me at all times and they didn’t have the staffing to allow that in the NICU.

I was in an immense amount of pain post surgery and was begging the nurse for more pain medication. My body was shaking uncontrollably from the pain and shock of the surgery. Worst of all, I was alone for much of it because Luke was up with the babies. My mom came to be with me eventually. Those first hours in recovery were some of the most painful in my whole life. Nothing like my first csection. Plus I had no babies with me to distract me.

One thing I was at least looking forward to was the large pizza and chocolate milkshake I requested my Dad bring me. I hadn’t eaten barely anything for the whole week I was in the hospital, so this was a very exciting “first meal.” But wouldn’t you know it!? The nurse wouldn’t let me have any because she said it was “too rich” for me to eat while on magnesium. That one earned a few tears.

Finally after my 24 hours of purgatory were up, I was able to be wheeled up to the NICU to finally see my babies. The NICU at Toledo Hospital is nothing like I imagined. I thought it would be a big room with a bunch of sick babies and super stressful, but it’s actually very peaceful and quiet. Each family has their own private room too.

That first night I got to hold my sweet boys skin to skin and I finally was able to exhale and feel joy in my heart at the miracle of these two boys. After such a long, hard journey they were here. My heart sang!

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They are the cutest babies too. Despite being twins, they look very different (to me at least). Davis looks a lot like Lila did when she was a baby, with dark hair and coloring. He also likes to stare at you a lot, just like Lila did. (Lila on the left, Davis on the right)

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Whitaker has lighter hair, a rounder face and looks a lot like his daddy did as a baby. (Luke on the left, Whitaker on the right)

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It’s been 21 days since their birth and Davis came home from the hospital two days ago.

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Whitaker is still there working on taking his bottles better. Both boys biggest hurdle is just gaining their strength to take all their feeds. Whitaker is our sleepy dude who likes to snooze right through meal time, but we’re hopeful he’ll be home very soon.

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As you can imagine juggling babies in the NICU, a 3 year old at home and me recovering from major surgery has been a lot to handle. Thankfully I am getting better and better each day and we’ve had a lot of support from family and friends, namely my mother who has been over nearly every day to help with Lila or the babies. She has been a godsend!

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I am feeling almost back to myself. I lost 45 pounds in the first week alone after losing all the water I was retaining. What a relief that was to be rid of! I gained 60 lbs in total, so I have 15 more to go.

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Another positive is that my milk supply has been ample. I am pumping enough to cover both boys feeds and overflow our freezer at the same time. What a blessing!

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We are slowly settling into life as a family of five. Lila loves “her babies” and has proven herself to be very patient at the hospital and very loving to the boys. She showers them with kisses and head rubs while saying “coochie coochie!” or “awww they’re so sweet!” or “he’s sooo cute!” She’s going to be a great big sister.

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I am beyond thankful my body stuck it out until 34 weeks and that these boys were born healthy. Although it was a tough road to get here, these sweet angel boys make it all a distant memory. I can’t wait to watch them grow up, develop that special twin bond and bring so much joy to all our lives.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us and sent us positive thoughts. We’ve also had a huge outpouring of local friends dropping off meals, running errands, mowing our lawn and bringing by presents for the boys. The support means more to us than you will know!!