Life with Twins
Where do I even begin this blog? Nothing that anyone told me could have prepared me for bringing twins home from the NICU.
The five weeks that they spent in hospital were wonderful and terrible at the same time. I learned so much from the nurses and lactation consultants there and that’s the best piece of advice I can give to other parents with babies in the NICU. It’s a difficult time spending hours each day in hospital and then leaving your babies there overnight, but you have to remember that they’re in the best place and exactly where they need to be at that time. While they’re in there take advantage: pick the brains of the nurses on staff to help prepare yourself for when your baby(ies) come home, get help from the LC (there’s usually one on every shift) and SLEEP! I almost completely healed from my surgery in the five weeks that the girls were in the NICU. I went from relying on a wheel chair every day to taking the dog out for walks again. So try to look at the positive in the situation and know that your baby(ies) are getting the best care possible.
Two nights before we brought the girls home I took my hubby out for a date. I figured it would be the last time we’d get to do this for a while. I was all set to have a small glass of wine when the server took one glance at my swollen belly (no wheelchair at this point but I hadn’t shed the baby weight in my tummy area yet) and started rhyming off drinks on the ‘mock-tail’ menu! I bit my tongue and ended up ordering a mock-tail item just so she wouldn’t feel bad. My husband commented on how she had made such a bold assumption. Ah the joys of pregnancy…or should I say post-pregnancy.
We brought the girls home on a Friday and we were ecstatic! The car ride home was scary and we kept pulling over to make sure they were still breathing…as I’m told most first time parents do.
Once home they were the perfect little angels. They slept, slept, slept and they slept pretty much anywhere, chairs, couch, pack ‘n’ play. Fast forward two weeks and let the reflux begin. Our quiet little angels who very rarely cried and slept anywhere now had the most painful sounding cries I’d ever heard and we could no longer lay them down flat to sleep. After a trip to the GP and the pediatrician they were diagnosed with GERD (gastroesophagael reflux disease). We knew this was a possibility, especially in preemies. Basically the flap that covers their esophagus isn’t big enough to prevent food from coming back up. We have been assured that this is something they will outgrow by their first birthday.
The diagnosis meant very expensive medicine for each of the girls every 30 days, wedges for them to sleep on and when that didn’t work something I swore I would never do…co-sleeping. I read somewhere that babies with reflux respond well to touch especially at night time when it’s at its worst. Along with holding the girls upright after each feed for at least 20-30 minutes to help them settle, we also had to learn how to read the girls and know how much they really needed to eat. GERD results in babies acting like they are still hungry after a feed. They want more milk/formula because it helps settle their tummies, but be warned, it’s only a quick fix and actually ends up doing more harm than good because the more you put in the more reflux and heartbreaking cries come out.
GERD also meant laundry. The reflux resulted in lots and lots of spit up. I remember in a week we did at least two loads of baby laundry every day. I had expected to up the laundry loads but as I mentioned before, nothing could have prepared us for this. Whoever invented the onesies that button up the front is a genius, these became my go-to outfits as it required less jiggling while dressing the girls and meant a little less spit up to deal with.
After weeks of reflux, reformulating the medicine, sleepless nights and a few breakdowns on my end we developed a schedule for the girls and instantly we were all so much happier! The girls had been demand feeding because I was told to never wake a sleeping baby. Well let me tell you, do demand feeds overnight but during the day if you have twins you wake them! It was the only way that we were able to keep some kind of sanity in our house. The girls would sometimes go three or even four hours between feeds. Once we started a three hour feeding schedule less acid built up in their tummies and the feeds were a much happier time for all of us.
My advice; start a schedule or at least use the EASY routine that so many parents live by. Basically eat, activity, sleep then you time. For us, using this routine and repeating every three hours meant a much happier household.
Now I’m not a doctor but for any mommies and daddies out there who feel their baby/ies might have GERD or reflux talk to your doctor sooner rather than later as the medication can take up to 6 weeks to kick in if it works at all. Chins up though, this too will pass and eventually their little systems will develop fully and reflux will be a thing of the past.