The girls have grown. I have learned how to deal with twins. I am able to do things I wasn’t able to do in the beginning, and I’ve learned shortcuts and tricks to making things easier while taking care of River and Lydia alone. Here’s a list of things I’ve found myself and my husband mastering as the girls get older (and things I wish I had started doing sooner).
When the girls came home, they were drinking my breast milk mixed with a few teaspoons of supplemental formula. Because of such mixture, we used bottle warmers to make it to the temperature the girls liked and it didn’t take long in the beginning – it worked out perfectly to where we’d finish their diaper changes and the bottles would be ready. However, as they grew and started to drink more, the warmer took longer and longer to heat up the bottles. Now, they drink 5 or 6oz per bottle, and it takes 10 minutes to warm it up in our trusty warmers. That’s fine for the first bottle of the day, since we need to wait until they wake up a bit more so they’ll be focused on their bottles but, during the day, it becomes a little too long to wait. My remedy? Since the girls are no longer drinking breast milk and are formula-fed only, I’ve started to microwave water in the BPA-free bottles and add the formula to it, making sure I mix it really well so there are no hot spots. No, we do not microwave the mixed formula – only the water before mixing it. It’s absolutely fine since we’re careful with the temperature and make sure we mix it up very well so it’s even, and the babies are happy to not have to wait 10 minutes for it.
Feeding Time Frenzy
My biggest worry when I started taking care of the girls alone was feeding time. It gave me extreme anxiety. Though we’ve always had them on a schedule, babies will want to cluster feed and will be hungry at off-times. Babies do their own thing. With that in mind, I was always a nervous wreck when they started to get hungry on their own. Who do I feed first? Do I feed them at the same time? How do I keep them both from crying? I took to some advice from Facebook group moms and attempted to feed them at the same time. I tried putting them in their car seats and bouncy seats, holding their bottles to their mouths. That worked terribly, as they did not accept that at all. They would squirm and cry, refuse their bottles and become inconsolable. River was always (and still is) the loudest, so I resorted to always feeding her first. As they grew and became more easily distracted, I’ve been able to entertain them with the TV (I can’t hear you, sanctimommies), toys, my face, funny voices, and more while feeding them at separate times. This also applies when we feed them solid food – we attempted having one parent feed both at the same time and it was a disaster. Now, they bounce on their exersaucer and walker, completely understanding that they take turns. My babies have started to learn patience. Hell yes. You’re welcome, world.
They were learning patience – and to like their bouncy seats.
I’m going to preface this and say that I DO NOT let them cry it out. They’re not big criers whatsoever, so when they do cry, we tend to them. That doesn’t mean that we run to them at any sound they make at night, only when they’re actually crying. In the beginning, the fact they were premature and we had seen them desatting while in the NICU (their oxygen levels decreased while sleeping or eating) made us run to their room at any given grunt or cough or if they were too quiet. As the weeks went by and we got used to their sounds, we became more relaxed and only went to them when they started to cry. Not the “I want attention” cry, the “please help me, I’m a baby and I’m hungry” cry. Huge difference there, even more now. We can also tell who’s crying by their voice, and what they could be crying about – poop in diaper, hungry, waking up startled. It’s much easier now. So much easier.
When the girls came home and my mom was here, she told me all about how they bathed me and my sister in our nursery, with all the doors and vents closed to keep the warmth in, and it was a one-minute thing so we wouldn’t get cold and get sick. While that got to me for the first few baths, I realized that I could relax and let the girls get used to the water and see it as fun time rather than make it all super rushed. But I still had a hard time wanting to give them baths while Rick wasn’t home because I didn’t want them crying when it wasn’t their turn. I now have my own method to the madness. If they’re both napping, I wait until one starts fidgeting and pick her up, take her upstairs where I have every thing lined up for a bath (bathtub filling up, soap and towel ready in the bathroom, new outfit picked out, lotion and diaper ready) and talk to her during the entire undressing portion to get her to laugh. Bath time is fun! After she’s all nakey, I take her to the bathtub and slowly put her little toes in the water, slowly sitting her down on the baby tub. I teach her to splash the water while I wash her, taking my time so she’ll enjoy the nice time in the water. Now, by the time they’re both done with baths, they have huge smiles on their little faces. Though they’ve never really cried in the bathtub, they’re starting to enjoy the water even more as they get older, and now it’s easier to bathe them if I’m alone with them.
Feeding Myself and “Me” Time
No, I still don’t get to cook much at all, but I at least don’t have to be spoon fed by my loving husband while feeding the babies. I do have time to pop something in the microwave after the girls have been fed and are bouncing away, watching my every move. I do have time to order something on Grub Hub or Panera Bread now, and be able to answer the door and eat. When they were super tiny, that was impossible. They ate every two hours, so I was constantly feeding them on this tight schedule, leaving no time for myself. I kept boxes of Cheerios and crackers by my side at all times those days – those were my meals when I was caring for the girls alone. Now, it’s so much easier (and they might get a taste of soup like today), but I still can’t step away to shower while they’re awake. I’m sure I’ll get there soon, as it’s becoming easier and different as they grow. The same goes for “me” time. I’m not saying I have time to do anything during the day, or a chance to sit in the bathtub and soak, but once the girls go to sleep I have a little time for myself – and for Rick. We’re currently in the living room, munching on Chex Mix and seltzer water, he’s playing videogames and I’m next to him doing my thing. The girls had been going to bed at 9pm for a few months, but the last two nights they’ve zonked out at 8pm. Whether it’s because of the flu shot they had on Tuesday or because they’re worn out from being out and about this week, it’s both weird and nice having an extra hour for ourselves (even though I’m usually passed out by 11pm).
Getting Out of the House
I used to hate taking the girls out. For starters, I hated feeling like a walking circus and getting stopped every time I turned a corner. I hated answering questions and having strangers making faces at the girls, or giving me random unwanted advice. I hated that they had to eat every two hours, so my minutes were counted and I was always in a rush. Now, I love taking them out. The girls are fun, they’re more patient when it comes to food and they can actually snack on yogis and puffs, and they either smile back or frown at strangers making faces at them. I’ve been able to take them grocery shopping by myself, I’ve taken them to multiple places in one day without them fussing, I’ve had fun talking to them and making them laugh while strolling around. It’s so nice to be able to leave the house, too. It makes my soul smile, and it smiles even bigger because River and Lydia are just so well-behaved and happy. Gah, I love them so much.
Though these things have changed and life has become a little easier, the one constant in all of this is that it’d be so nice to have an extra set of hands during the day. The girls are great, they’re very well-behaved, they’re very happy. But they still require a lot of attention and work, especially with their PT sessions. We have yet to see any significant progress with their kneeling or crawling, and we’ve been working on that for about a month now. Rick and I do work on it with them on an individual basis when we’re home with them and we’ve asked Emerson to work on it with them as well, so I’m not sure what or where the hold up is. Sure, babies do things on their own time, I know that. But try telling their PT guy that. I can only use the “I’m not home with them at all times to supervise that it’s being done” excuse a few times, and I’m tired of saying that myself. With an extra set of hands more often, so much more could be done! Not just with their PT stuff, but around the house. Our tiny house looks like a sty right now, and it deeply bothers me. My parents will be up here next week, so guess what I’ll be doing – cleaning! And resting! And maybe getting my hair cut.
It’s funny looking back and comparing the level of crazy our life was on when the girls came home from the NICU and now, at 9 months old. Some fears have gone away, different ones have emerged, anxieties have changed. But overall, it’s much easier now. Here’s to hoping it’ll only get easier and easier!
They’re such good babies.