Friday, January 23, 2015

Oh Hey Friday - Postpartum

It's Friday and I have managed to show up to my blog again.  This is a big deal for me let me tell you.  But I really wanted to join in on the link up fun over at September Farm.

In honor of Oh Hey, Friday link up, I am going to tell you about my five favorite postpartum items.  These things have gotten me through my last almost 4 weeks since giving birth to my beautiful daughters.  I still can't believe my daughters are here!

Postpartum Essentials

One.  Belly Bandit.  I read on several mommy blogs that the Belly Bandit is a must.  When I researched it, I wasn't too excited about the $50 price tag, but after wearing it for a few weeks, it has been a lifesaver.  Not only does it provide support for my back and stomach, it helps keep my c-section incision less painful and seems to be shrinking my belly.  It also helps support my breasts when I am pumping.  So far, so good.  I will do a postpartum body post soon and show you my results so far.

Two.  Pottery Barn Cozy Robe.  I got this robe as a wedding gift with our monogrammed initials and all.  I now wear this robe constantly.  Not only is it super warm, it is soft and cozy.  Plus it shields myself when pumping.  When I am at home, I am living in this thing.  Trust me, you will live in a robe postpartum.

Three.  BKR water bottle.  I bought this during my pregnancy and used it religiously throughout my pregnancy.  And now it is even more important.  I can't get enough water now due to pumping and starting to breastfeed.  This bottle is made of glass, but has an awesome silicon type wrap around it.  My water stays cold and I can take this water bottle everywhere with me...especially to the NICU.  I got mine in the color holiday.

Four.  Pump Ease Hands Free Bra.  Since this momma is a pumping momma for the meantime, I needed a hands free bra to be able to do something other than hold the pump bottles up for 15 to 30 minutes (that was in the beginning).  I finally caved and bought this one in the blue with white polka dots.  It has three different clasp sizes and I used two of them depending on which bra I have on.  I am able to write out the labels for my bottles, check email, instagram, eat a snack, drink water, etc.  Love this thing.  And it will come in handy when I go back to work too.

Five.  Earth Mama, Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter.  After pumping for about a week and a half, I had sore nipples.  I was trying to be a hero and have the suction up higher for more milk (gotta feed two babies) and it was making my nipples sore and scabbed up.  So I did a bit of research and consulted with the lactation women at the hospital and decided a nipple butter was the way to go for me.  I didn't want the lanolin as it stains more and I didn't like the consistency.  But I love this nipple butter.  I use it daily and it hasn't stained my clothes and helps with the soreness, cracked nipples and it doesn't have a bad smell.

Postpartum Essentials

Postpartum Essentials

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Day in the Life of a NICU Mom

Once again I find myself apologizing that I didn't keep up with blogging.  It's not like I don't want to write because I do.  It's not like I don't have the time to write because I can carve out thirty minutes of my day to do it.  I just don't know where to start with everything that has been going on. 

Life has been a whirlwind as some of you can tell from my recent posts.  Lots of emotion, many trips to the hospital, countless questions asked and answered, trying to keep busy, feeling guilt and just making it through each day.

Life as a NICU mom is HARD.  It's tough, it's gut wrenching, it's heartbreaking, it's bittersweet, but it's my life.

These last 25 days (counting delivery day) has been the toughest days of my life.  Not only did I give birth to two beautiful baby girls, but I had a rough delivery, an unplanned NICU stay for my babies and a change in mentality.  No longer was I working on my recovery so much, I focused on my babies recovery.

Here is my typical day as a NICU mom (on the days I work from home).

2:15 am - 2:30 am: Pump and clean pump parts.

6:00 am - 6:30 am:  Wake up to go pump (prepping the pump, bottles, hands free bra, getting a snack and my water).

6:15 am - 6:30 am: Pumping, writing labels, catching up on facebook and instagram, checking email.

6:30 am - 6:45 am: Cleaning pump parts.

6:45 am - 7:00 am: Showering and getting ready (part way).

7:00 am - 8:15 am: Working. Eating a breakfast which usually consists of fruit, protein bar and a yogurt.

8:15 am - 8:30 am: Pumping and cleaning pump parts.

8:30 am - 10:20 am: Working. 

10:20 am - 10:30 am: Pumping.

10:30 am - 10:40 am: Cleaning the pump parts and packing cooler with my milk.

10:45 am - 10:55 am: Drive to the hospital to see the girls.

10:50 am: Put milk away and heat the girls milk up.  Then I start changing Sutton's diaper and get the run down of the night from the nurse. 

11:00 am (ish): Feed Sutton.

11:30 am: I am either burping Sutton if she takes longer to feed or I am savoring the moments of holding her before I move on to working on Avery.

11:35 am: I change Avery's diaper.

11:40 am: Feed Avery.

12:10 pm: Finish feeding Avery and/or cuddling her at this point.

12:15 pm - 12:30 pm: I pump at the hospital or I am already heading home to get back to work (depending on the day).

12:30 pm: Clean pump and pump parts.

12:40 pm: Say goodbye to my sweet angels and cry almost every time I leave them.

12:40 pm - 12:50 pm: Drive home.

12:50 pm - 2:30 pm: Working (unless I headed home early, and then I am working from 12:30 pm and on).

2:30 pm - 2:45 pm: Pump again.

2:45 pm - 3:00 pm: Clean pump parts.

3:00 pm - 5:00 pm: Working.

5:00 pm - 5:15 pm: Pumping and cleaning pump parts.

5:15 pm: My husband gets home from work and I tell him all about work, about the girls and get excited that I have someone real to talk to and not just through email or phone or the nurses.

6:00 pm: We are either deciding if we are cooking dinner at home (which means something super easy that my husband can make since I can barely stand or cook for any periods of time or where we are going to eat dinner).

6:15 pm - 7:00 pm: Cooking and eating if we stay at home (doesn't happen that much). Or we go out to dinner.

7:15 pm - 7:30 pm: Pumping if stayed home, otherwise I pump before we go to dinner.

7:30 pm: Clean pump parts and pack cooler with milk. Or we are still out to dinner at this point.

7:40 pm: Drive to hospital to see the girls.

7:50 pm: Unpack milk and get an update on the girls from the nurse.

8:00 pm: One of us starts changing Sutton and the other hangs out and watches.

8:10 - 8:30 pm: Feeding Sutton.  And at 8:15 pm or 8:20 pm, the other starts changing Avery.

8:30 pm: One is feeding Avery and the other is cuddling Sutton.

8:50 pm: We are both cuddling our babies, talking to each other, talking to the nurse and asking a million questions on the girls.

9:30 pm: We usually put the girls back in their cribs, say our goodbyes and painfully leave for the evening.  It breaks my heart to leave the girls every evening.  I usually get upset and wonder when the girls will be out, I usually cry and make the drive home.

10:00 pm: We are at home. We change into our pjs, usually watch a tv show of some sort and I pump again(we have a DVR full of shows to watch just no time).

11:00 pm: We usually go to bed around this time.

Then we wake up and do it all over again.  I pump around 8 times a day.  Sometimes I only get 7 in because of an appointment or something else getting in the way, but I feel like I pump all day long.  It is worth it though.  My girls have plenty of milk in the NICU and even a huge bin in the freezer of excess milk.

Hopefully this changes soon and the girls get out.  Fingers crossed.  They are doing so well.  They are off of oxygen, into open cribs, drinking from bottles, have their feeding tubes out, drinking ad lib (however much they want per feeding, just has to be more than a certain amount total for the shift, 12 hours) and gaining weight daily.  Now we just need to make sure they have no more Brady's (dips in heart rate and oxygen levels), keep gaining weight and taking their milk for each shift and then they can come home.

I am absolutely scared and excited at the time same.  I have been doing this for 25 days and I feel comfortable knowing how to feed them, watch them and watch the cues to make sure they don't destat, but it will be a whole new experience being with them 24 hours a day instead of 3 hours per day.

Any advice, tips or words of encouragement for when we bring the girls home?  Anyone have to take one twin home before the other? That is a possibility and we want ideas on the best way to handle having one at home and still going to see the other in the hospital.
Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pumping to Breastfeeding

I thought I would be able to crank out some posts for you all for this week, but I failed.  I have Part 1 of the girls birth story written and I am working on Part 2.  But other than that, I have been consumed with working from home (got it all set up this week), going to see the girls twice a day and I don't know where the other hours in the day go.  Oh that's pumping.

Wow, pumping has been a weird experience.  I knew from day one of being pregnant that I would want to breastfeed my girls.  The connection you make with them, the nutrients from your breastmilk, the cost savings, the ease of feeding them and so much more seemed so alluring to me.  But then life happens, the girls go into the NICU and I am stuck pumping eight times a day.

I feel like a cow, but know in my heart that this is the best for the girls.  But I fear that I have gotten comfortable (if we can even call it that) with pumping that I won't be that good with breastfeeding.  We have had the girls nuzzle my chest, have them latch on a bit and just see what happens, but in the NICU they don't focus on breastfeeding.  I know that when they get home it will be a new battle to tackle.  Trying to breastfeed them and then bottle feed until they get it down. 

So other mommies out there, what are some techniques you used to get your babies to transition from bottle feeding to breastfeeding?  Were you able to transition at all?  Are you still pumping exclusively for them?

And I can't have a post without pictures, so enjoy two photos I took this afternoon at my visit with the girls.
 Sutton wide awake after her feeding
 Avery snoozing after her bottle
Friday, January 9, 2015

Oh Hey, Friday, I am Finally Back

As I sit here at home on this crisp Friday morning, I feel my heart exploding at the seams.  It may not be the life I had in mind after delivery, but it is my life.  My life now consists of breast pumping eight times a day to bring breast milk to my little girls twice a day.  It also consists of going to the hospital twice a day.

I never thought I would be going back to the hospital so much.  Back in 2002, I spent about 3 1/2 weeks at the hospital daily.  My friend April was in a bad car accident which resulted in ICU care.  Now fast forward 12 years and I am back in the ICU, only this time it is the Neonatal ICU.

My heart breaks for all the babies there.  My head shoots up every time I hear any alarm go off, even if it isn't one of my babies because I never want to see a child go through this.

Life may be hard right now for my husband and I, but it is harder for our girls.  They are fighting to grow, to breath-suck-swallow (all at the same time while taking a bottle) and regulate their body temperatures.  And when they sleep, they grow.

We are blessed to be able to go see them twice a day (believe me this momma wouldn't leave, but has to) where we take their temperatures, we change them, we feed them and we cuddle them.  It melts my heart.  I can't get enough of their smell and I shower them with kisses.  And when I see my husband kiss their little foreheads, I burst at the seams.  Too precious beyond words.

But NICU life comes with tears, set backs and fear.  I just try to take it one day at a time and know that we are one day closer to taking these babies home.  So please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers.

In the meantime, I am joining up with Karli from September Farm for Oh Hey, Friday.  My first one in a long time.

Here are my five things I am grateful for.

One.  My husband.  He has been through a lot these last two weeks.  My my pre-labor, to my dramatic delivery (story to come soon) to only seeing our girls once a day during the week.  He has held it together pretty well and I couldn't go through this without him.  He is beyond amazing.

Two.  My two beautiful baby girls.  I never knew how powerful love could be until I met these two.  From the moment I saw these girls, I knew my life changed.  They are my everything.  I can't get enough of them.  From their smell, to the kisses to the finger grabs.  These girls are my perfect.

Three.  My pup, Walter.  He has been a trooper through this whole change in his life.  He may not get as many walks right now, but we are still spoiling him with lots of love, fetch and cuddles.  I think Walter is having just as hard of a time as we are.  When we came home without the girls, he got really depressed and wouldn't leave my bellies side.  He couldn't sense their heartbeats anymore and has been really sad over it.  So we let him smell us after holding the girls, we bring him things the girls laid on and try to let him know his sisters are coming home soon.

Four.  Family.  My family (both in-laws and my own) have been really amazing and there for us.  They were there everyday while I was in the hospital.  My dad came up daily in the afternoon, so my husband could go home and shower and relax a bit.  Then he came back up everyday with my mom after work.  My mother-in-law has taken me to the hospital almost everyday this week to see the girls since I can't drive until next week.  Our families have brought us love, gifts, comfort and prayer. 

Five.  Friends.  Our friends have really reached out to us during our NICU time.  Friends have brought us care packages, flowers and now even meals.  We have some friends who went through the same thing as us, and have offered kind words, their story and meals in our time in need.  Who has time to really cook a meal when all they want to do is go see their girls?  Truly blessed I tell you.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Girls Are Here!

Wow, I guess it is time to dust off the ole blog and let you all know why I haven't been around the last almost two weeks.

These two bundles of joy are why…
Meet Sutton Kira Butler (left) and Avery Madison Butler (right)

Sutton Kira Butler
December 29, 2014
2:37 am
3 pounds 15 ounces
17 3/4 inches long

Avery Madison Butler
December 29, 2014
2:37 am
4 pounds 8 ounces
17 1/2 inches long

My girls, more specifically Sutton, decided to arrive a bit early.  They were running out of room and wanted to meet their daddy and I.  We are beyond blessed to have these little girls.  Life is definitely a struggle right now as we hadn't prepared for them to be here so soon, but we are making it work.

I am going to work from home for a bit, so I can go see the girls in the NICU everyday while their daddy is at work.  Once our beauties are ready to come home, then I will go on full maternity leave.  It wasn't what we imagined, but this is so much better.

I am blessed to visit my darlings twice a day to take their temperatures, change them, feed them and cuddle them.  Daddy visits once a day during the work week, but weekends, he sees his girls twice a day.

Get ready for a crazy birth story as I had a really bad emergency cesarean section.  I am truly lucky to even be here right now.

So please bare with me on the sporadic posts.  I hope to get to a more steady posting next week (maybe).  In the meantime, check out my beautiful babies.
Mommy with Avery
Daddy with Sutton

Oh how these girls have stolen my husband's and my hearts.  I love you girls.  Please keep my girls in your thoughts and prayers so they can get strong and healthy and come home from the NICU soon.