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Thirty minutes.  That’s all I have been granted in my demanding schedule by my new bosses to write a blog.  That’s all they’ll give me for myself, and they never cease to remind me that I’m writing on company time.  In fact, I have one of them yoked around my neck as a constant reminder, and the other one on speakerphone listening in, threatening to disrupt me at any moment.

These babies rule my life.  In retribution for letting them (us) sleep in 3- and 4-hour chunks last night, I have to kind of make up by feeding them every two hours during the day.  I need to squeeze in at least 8 feedings a day.  So, for this 24-hour period, that’s 2am, 5am, 8:30am, 10:30am, 12:30pm, and I’m gearing up to do 2:30pm, 4:30pm, 6:30pm, and 9pm.  See that extra 30 minutes that crept in there?  Merely wiggle room because you can’t “schedule” 8-week-old babies.  They typically spend 30 minutes at the tit, plus 10 minutes on either end with diaper changes, because L. won’t eat if she’s shit herself, and E. almost always poops while he’s eating.  Yes, curious onlookers, they have quite distinct personalities.

It’s insane.  And just when I though I couldn’t take it anymore, they started sleeping reliably at night.  We’ve had more good nights, nights where they’ll sleep 3-4 hour stretches without interruptions every 10 minutes for a dropped binky, an escaped swaddle, a dirty diaper, or a need to be held.  Sure, there are still bad nights, nights with serial diaper changes, little L. screaming at the top of her lungs as she soils a 4th straight Pamper, nights where little E. pees through 3 consecutive sleep sacks and decides he wants his binky as soon as my head hits the pillow, despite his earlier rejections of the pacifier.  But there are more good nights.  And more days where I’m able to remember what day of the week it is, what diapers.com necessity we’re out of, and even finish a whole load of laundry.  Just kidding.  We’re a mess around here.  Even more so because Mr. Apron went back to work today.

He brought them to me for the 5am feeding, after which the three of us dropped back off to sleep.  Then I had to manage feeding two babies, two dogs, and myself, in order of importance and demand.  I finally shoveled down most of a bowl of Special K to the soundtrack of dogs panting and babies screaming, but I took care of myself.  E. was needier this morning, so I wore him in my Baby K’tan sling while bumbling around folding week-old laundry and putting away dishes.  This afternoon, L. wants my undivided attention, so she’s strapped to my chest.  It seems she’ll be here until the 2:30pm feeding at least.

Also just when we thought our only job was to keep the munchkins alive until they became able to function in their own bodies (hold heads up, stop shitting 12 times a day [each], use hands to grasp objects, find thumbs to suck, if desired), they started rewarding us with smiles.  Real smiles.  I have a feeling this is how it will go.  The children will test us with whatever phase they’re in – formerly, the disaffected needy newborn phase – until our breaking point, at which time they will coyly shift into a new stage of development, with all the rewards and mayhem that will bring.

My new bosses are demanding, but at least they know how to build some incentives into the work.


Which means, of course, that I have been through the childbirth experience and emerged on the other side.

The babies are definitely the coolest things to have come out of my vagina.

Which means yes, I delivered twins vaginally, which earned me quite the kudos in the hospital and quite the looks from people who think it is their business to ask such things.

I was induced Wednesday night, and given Cervadil, which was supposed to “soften” my cervix (finish effacing and thinning it) in preparation for the actual induction the next day.  The nurse said everyone reacts to the Cervadil differently, which is a nice thing to say when I lasted about an hour before intense contractions started piling up ever 45 seconds.  There was no time to use our well-rehearsed breathing exercises as contractions became more intense.  They started at a 10, and just kept going.  I was not supposed to walk around, as the babies were on a monitor, but only walking around gave me any measure of relief.  Due to hospital policy, I was stuck in bed, however.

An hour later, anesthesiology was giving me the epidural I had been undecided and open-minded about.  The effects were amazing and almost instantaneous.  I turned from a shaking, screaming banshee who was breaking into cold sweats, into a rational human being who played Skip-Bo with her husband.

My daughter decided she wanted to come out before I was fully dilated, so she started descending and sitting, basically, (well, head-standing) on my coccyx, for several hours.  So even though I had good “coverage” with the epidural, and was numb, she exerted incredible pressure on my ass every time I had a contraction.

Those contractions?  Never got more than 5 minutes apart and were usually 2-3 minutes.

For 22 hours.

Anesthesia, who was MIA by this point, wouldn’t be able to relieve “pressure”, only pain, so my only option once I hit a contraction was a nurse’s suggestion to apply my own counter-pressure.  This meant that my birth partner (see: husband) pushed and held a frozen diaper (standard hospital equipment on the L&D floor) against my coccyx for every contraction.  Things became glamorous.

My doctor, who was in the hospital on Thursday, had to leave by “5 or 6”, but I was dilating so slowly (several hours from 2-3cm, several more from 3-4cm), that we were on the clock, praying she’d be able to be there to deliver the babies.

Five and six pm both passed, and all that was left were contractions through my ass.  They tell you you might poop during childbirth, but they don’t tell you you feel like you have to poop for 22 hours.

I was able to wedge a frozen diaper in such a position that we could watch Jeopardy!, when nurse Laura said she thought she saw signs of “earlies” on the fetal monitor, which signifies something significant.  At any rate, the OB who had just come on checked me, and by 8pm, I was being wheeled into the OR.

Since I was having twins, and each baby gets a “team”, a regulary L&D room is just too small for the delivery.  All twin deliveries happen in the OR.  I was excited to finally be doing something, excited to relieve the gotta-poop feeling, excited to get to be an active participant in the birth.  I was transfered to the OR table, and immediately cowed by the 3  enormous lights above me.  Fourteen people at least shouting at me, different directions, different instructions.  I screamed while I was pushing, ’cause it fucking hurt.  That elicited many refrains of, “Don’t scream” as I was kind of wasting energy and breath that could be used for pushing.  So I started crying, “I’m sorry,” which only made them admonish me not to be sorry.

Once again, the breathing exercises were out the window as I couldn’t focus with everyone screaming at me and the lights glaring.  I couldn’t hear the 10-second counts, and I felt like the heads I was trying to pass were bowling balls.

After what felt like forever but was more like 43 minutes, my daughter was born.  I was delirious with sleep-deprivation from the night before (and past several weeks), as well as the pain meds they were pushing.  I heard her cry, and I said, “Baby!” as if it had just now occurred to me that pregnancy usually yields live, screaming babies.  They said push if I felt I had to push.  I still felt like I had to poop, not push, but had already delivered one child that way, so I started pushing again.  Fourteen minutes later, little brother was born.  In all the hysteria, I didn’t realize he wasn’t doing so well at birth.  In some part because I pushed him out so quickly, he didn’t get all the squeezing benefits of being compressed in the birth canal, which can help to initiate breathing.  I caught a glimpse of him, and he was completely white.  I thought he was covered in vernix, the white, waxy substance that protects fetuses from amniotic fluid, but he was white because he wasn’t breathing.  I only found this out later, as my husband finally revealed, thanks to my insecurities about their health.

“Are they really fine?” I begged.  “Are they really perfect?” I was in disbelief, I was frantically worried someone was keeping something from me.  E. had only received a 1 on his initial APGAR.  He wasn’t breathing on his own.  His color was terrible.  As they say to assuage mothers, “Many babies need some help.”  Truthfully, he did only need a little help — they suctioned him, gave him a few breaths with a BVM, and soon he was screaming, too.  Now, at 18 days old, he often won’t stop.

My biggest triumph at this point is having carried twins to 38.5 weeks, and having had such a thoroughly uncomplicated pregnancy that I was able to deliver two healthy babies vaginally.

My biggest disappointment was in losing control, losing track of my birth plan, being unable to follow through with my first parenting decisions.

Because L. was jaundiced, it was essential she clear out the bilirubin from her system, and she ended up taking formula from a bottle.

Because E. lost too much of his birth weight (when you’re 5lb5oz, it’s more of a concern than if you’re 8lbs), we were supplementing him with formula.

Because of the madness in the OR, and E.’s low one-minute APGAR, I didn’t get to hold either child until we were all in recovery.  And Mr. Apron didn’t cut either cord.

Because I ran out of time, I didn’t get to bank/donate their cord blood.

Because breastfeeding was so hard, both babies lost weight and the pediatrician told us it was medically necessary to supplement with formula.

Because my parents don’t listen, they bought us diapers in the wrong size, sizes which will fit them when they are big enough to be in cloth diapers, which is our intention once they are out of the newborn-shit-every-twenty-minutes phase.

Because the babies screamed their heads off the first two nights and wouldn’t sleep, we began using pacifiers almost immediately.

Because I was too tired and emotionally distraught to be patient enough to breastfeed at the 12am, 3am, and 6am feedings, and we felt the pediatrician’s mandate breathing down our necks, we began bottle-feeding overnight, while I pump.

We weren’t going to bottle-feed for several weeks.  We weren’t going to use pacifiers.  We weren’t going to use formula at all.  He was going to cut the cords.  Baby A was supposed to be on me until I started pushing with Baby B.  My OB was supposed to deliver my babies.  We were going to donate the cord blood.  And none of it happened.  Every feeding where the babies wouldn’t latch on, and I held out a hungry child to my husband, who would give a bottle of the hated formula to an eagerly awaiting little mouth, I felt rejected.  I felt I couldn’t provide what I knew was the best food for my babies.  I felt the pediatrician was using the words “medically necessary” as a way to derail my first parents decisions.

Mr. Apron keeps telling me that that stuff is all minor, that I need to sort through my priorities, and look at the bigger picture.  The bigger picture always is the healthy babies, always is their welfare and well-being.  But as the items in my birth plan kept getting ignored, steam-rollered, or altered as a result of “medically necessary”, I felt helpless.  I felt ignored.  I felt like my intentions were worthless.  The induction went poorly and my contractions put me in agony?  Big deal.  The babies were healthy.  The nurses pushed meds and interventions on me so I’d be a happier patient?  Big deal.  The babies were healthy.  I had to supplement with formula and risk nipple confusion and interference with breast-feeding?  Big deal.  L.’s bilirubin numbers were dropping, and E. was putting on weight.  The pediatrician recommended Vitamin D drops because breastmilk is “incomplete”?  Big deal.  Vitamins are insurance against deficiencies.

I didn’t feel supported in my decisions as a mother.  I watched all my intentions slip away until I was left with sore nipples, a sink full of Enfamil bottles, a calendar full of doctor’s appointments, and mandates from a pediatrician who I hadn’t even met, as he was on vacation.

And those post-partum hormones coursing through my body didn’t help.

However, we’re all on the mend.  The loopiness from the Oxycodone has worn off.  The babies are back above birth weight, so we were given “permission” to drop the formula supplements.  I’m pumping during night feedings to spare myself some sanity, and I can usually make enough for Mr. Apron to feed them breast milk.  The babies are healthy, for real.  And while I do not fare so well when they soil three diapers in a row, while I’m changing them, or they pee out the back of their really cute outfits, or they break out of their swaddle for the sixteenth time, or one wakes up screaming just as we’ve put the other one down, we are, on the whole, doing okay.

I made it from pregnancy to motherhood, and our little family of two (plus the two dogs) has made room for two more very important members.

Who are probably ready for their 6pm feeding.  As I am little more than a milk factory at present, I must conclude this post.  I hope for many more naps as peaceful as this one, that I may blog some more.

Here are my munchkins:

I have not been able to write about last weekend’s trip to see my parents.  I haven’t been able to process it yet, and vast amounts of crap from my parents are still in my car, waiting to be processed in their own way. 

On the way home from R.I., we stopped in the sleepy hamlet of the Bronx to visit a friend from college, who now has a 4 month old daughter.  We played with the baby, ignored our crying, crated puppy, and caught up on college suite-mate gossip.  The baby is adorable, alert, smiley, and engaging.  She barely fussed, and is much cuter than her Facebook photos could have let on. 

As always, when I am with a baby – my nephew, a friend’s baby, or a baby-in-utero (a pregnant friend/coworker) – I am able to separate the child from my own potential child, lost in miscarriage.  I do not blame the child in front of me.  I am able to play with him/her, share in the joy of the parents/grandparents/mother-to-be.  Am I horribly jealous?  Sure.  But just as I’ve been keeping my personal life private for many years, I dare not share my true feelings with the mom or the child.  I do not allow myself to become weepy, though I may get a little melancholy after our visit. 

Little H.’s mom is a modern Orthodox Jew.  As such, she is expected to be fruitful and multiply.  While her lifestyle is a far cry from the baby-a-year families of more traditional Judaism, she has still endured many well-intentioned inquiries as to her womb’s status almost immediately after her wedding.  As we sat and played with little H., her mom asked me, as Mr. Apron and I have been married longer than she has, if people have stopped “asking” us yet, if they’ve stopped hinting, or looking suspiciously at my belly, or if our parents have stopped slipping us how-to books under the door.  Reluctantly, and a little sadly, I assured her they have stopped nagging.

What I didn’t say, though, was the reason our families do not ask.  Given that perfect segue, I nevertheless refrained from telling my friend about our miscarriage.  Aside from two friends who live near us, and we therefore told early on about our pregnancy (thus we had to “untell” when we miscarried), my friends do not know.  I thought that was the whole point of not telling anyone until after the 1st trimester.  It was a convenience thing, a safeguard, an old wives’ tale meant to protect you from having to break bad news when the tenuous state of the new pregnancy didn’t go as planned or expected.  Why should I tell them at this point?

Mr. Apron met up with a friend of his while we were in R.I.  As we left little H. and her mom, this prompted me to ask him if he had told his friend, if his friends knew about our pregnancy.  He says most of his friends know.  Most.  Two of mine do.  Two.  And only because, as I said before, we had leaked news of the pregnancy.  Not even when a coworker and I were trapped in the car together for an hour-long drive to Delaware for a conference, and she spoke openly about her own miscarriage, did I let a word about my own pass my lips.  Still not when another gaggle of coworkers were discussing pregnancy, miscarriage, and expressing disappointment that miscarriage was not more openly discussed.  I remain silent.  Always.  I stuff my experience, my shared feelings down, down inside me until they explode anonymously on my blog.  Mr. Apron and I talk.  My therapist and I talk.  But our current frustration with getting pregnant again only seems to prolong the grieving and make our suffering more drawn-out. 

I wish I could share with my friends.  I wish I felt comfortable sharing my sadness without feeling like it will scare them.