It’s something I hear DAILY. One thing that every twin mom knows is the side show aspect of normal trips. I’m talking about the double takes, the second looks, the jaws dropping, and most of all the questions people ask.
“How on earth do you do it?” Someone inevitably asks.
“You just do it.” Is typically my response. It’s the truth though, there is no magic formula or easy button. You just get through your days the best you can.
Yes I have twin boys, yes I also have a two year old boy. Yes, I’m busy. And that’s ok.
Some days its harder than others, but everyday I wake up to three little people who have forgiven my daily mistakes and are ready to greet me with a smile (sometimes a scream too). Parents out there know what I’m talking about. You just get through the day. Lately my twins have been taking long afternoon naps (THANK THE LORD) and my daily accomplishments has been growing. That is a good feeling. Like any other parent, I know this stage is short lived. Tomorrow they could reject their nap time and decide to scream unless their demands are met. So, in this season of afternoon peace (even though it still includes a screaming toddler) I decided to catch people up on our recent happenings.
Beckett and Foster have hit many milestones lately. They are both rolling over (in all directions), smiling at anyone who smiles back, and army crawling around the house. They haven’t made it past the living room rug, but one of these days I’m going to catch them trying to make their great escape. They’ve started solid food and positively HATE eating with a spoon. If I put avocado in their bottles they’d be happy as clams, but unfortunately for them it doesn’t work that way. So we are gradually finding out about eating with a spoon and how different it is. They have some serious muscle memory when it comes to eating with a bottle. So much so in fact that they drain them pretty quickly.
Y’all, we went through 30 POUNDS of formula in the month of March. 30 POUNDS. We were on the verge of buying milk replacer from the co-op (for calves) in 50 pound bags and dumping that into the Baby Brezza.
Side note: The Baby Brezza is the most magical thing on this earth for feeding babies with formula. Press a button and you have 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 ounces of formula. MAGIC, I tell you. Buy one if formula is your thing. Worth it.
So we go through a lot of formula and have been doing our best to spoon feed but these things take time, especially with preemies. They are still catching up to babies their age in the outside world. Some days I look down and remember the NICU days as a long time ago. but unfortunately those days never really leave your head. They are always lingering there, waiting to pull your little fighter babies back into the hospital when something goes wrong.
In the month of February, something went wrong.
Rowan is an excellent big brother, he has been the most loving kid towards the little twin usurpers that waltzed into his life. First they stole his momma for 8 weeks and then they hogged her for another 6 in Wichita and then the twins came home and wrecked his routine. But he handled it like a champ. No hitting the babies (on purpose), no yelling at them (in a mean way), and begging to hold them every chance he got. However, like a good big brother, he shared everything including a cold. For Rowan it was just the sniffles and a bad week. We shipped him off to his grandparents the moment he exhibited symptoms but we were too late. For the 3 month old twins it became RSV and lots of doctor visits and a hospital stay.
In the NICU, your doctor warns you that your preemie will probably get RSV and it will probably be a hospital visit. I prayed that wouldn’t happen. We just made it out of the woods with our first NICU visit. I really didn’t want to go back to Wesley to the PICU because my babies caught a nasty virus. However, I had no control over what would happen. Beckett caught it first and had so much drainage that he had difficulty breathing. I preemptively took them to the pediatrician and they confirmed the RSV with a nose swab and said he was going to feel worse before he would get better. I went back into survival mode. Babies were separated into different rooms, separate bouncy chairs, separate burp rags, separate bottles, separate everything. I even washed their laundry separately. For a week I sat up in the recliner with baby Beckett on my chest just to make sure he was breathing and occasionally suctioning out his nose to keep him breathing evenly. The doctor saw him every couple days and said that he was keeping his oxygen levels up but he had lost 6 ounces of weight. Precious fat on my still-smallish baby was burned up to keep him functioning normally. Then about halfway into Beckett’s cold I got nervous with how hard he was breathing. We left at midnight on the recommendation of the 24 hour nurse hotline offered thorugh Children’s Mercy in KC.
“Take him to the ER. Watch him the whole way to make sure he doesn’t stop breathing.”
She warned us not to be longer than a couple hours getting there. It was a two hour drive from our house.
I stared at him and wouldn’t take eyes off until we were cleared by the ER doc. I think I expected a trip to the PICU and when the doctor told us to get some nasal spray to loosen the mucus and go home, I was a little embarrassed. She said we did the right thing but he was doing better and didn’t need to be admitted. I sighed my relief. 5 am rolled around and Gavin helped me keep the kids asleep for the two hour trip back until we arrived home. We saw improvement with Beckett after about a week and a half of sickness. The doctor said Beckett was on the very end of his cough and then Foster started coughing. I know my kids. They don’t generally cough, sneeze, or have any drainage. Foster started exhibiting symptoms the moment Beckett brightened back up. In a way, I was thankful. Two sick babies were way worse than one at a time. Sweet Foster coughed and the doctor said he had it too. But worse.
It started all over again. The late nights watching my baby breathe and his little chest wheezing and rattling to try and function. Sweet friends sent meals and frozen food to keep us functioning through the rough days. No rest for my littlest baby meant no rest for me. Gavin muddled through his days working and helping care for the other two while I devoted my time to Foster. We held it together until one night about four days into Foster’s RSV. I called the pediatrician around closing time and expressed my concerns. They recommended that if his condition changed even a little bit to then take him to the ER. I watched him go from working to breathe to exhausted from working to breathe. Foster was not even able to eat formula. He had so much thick drainage that the formula immediately made him gag and throw up. He had been drinking Pedialyte for a couple days and staying hydrated but not getting the calories he needed. It was time to go back to the ER. I always hesitate with going to the ER. Its a fine line between going to the ER for something that wasn’t necessary and going to the ER because it truly was an emergency. The drive there was a nightmare. We were speeding and praying Foster wouldn’t stop breathing before we got there. The hour between deciding it was time to go to the hospital and the time it took us to get there he got way worse, way faster. It was incredibly nerve wracking waiting for his little body to heave a breath in his carseat and wondering how to explain our location to paramedics if Foster did stop breathing. I googled instructions for CPR on a baby and kept it open on my phone in case I needed them. I couldn’t believe how quickly Foster went from having difficulty breathing to laboring hard just to get enough air. His pediatrician had been watching them closely so I went to the hospital closest to his doctor’s office. Chest X-rays showed nothing too alarming but he was working so hard to breathe it was scary to watch him struggle. The doctor said his oxygen levels were just low enough that he needed to stay for a couple days to recover. I sighed. Back in the hospital. Gavin went home in the middle of the night after sitting with Foster and I in the ER for five hours. My saint of a mother had agreed to watch the other two kids before we left for the ER. I truly think it would have been ten times more difficult to get through these hospital stays if we didn’t have such helpful family close by to take care of our kids.
Gavin went home and gathered my necessities and sent me snapchats of our other two boys. The familiar feelings of being away for my family hit me like a ton of bricks all over again. Just when I thought the hospital days were in the past they slapped me in the face. I held Foster and felt the familiar rush of pain in my heart as we sat in the hospital. I just missed my other two boys. I thought of all the days I felt frustrated with taking care of my three boys and berated myself for every moment I wasn’t grateful to have healthy boys all at home. Then I watched my littlest baby, on oxygen and covered with bandages. They tried to put an IV in but his little veins were too small to handle it. Being dehydrated didn’t help either. Just trying to feed him made me anxious. He needed the nutrition formula provided but his little body was fighting so hard just to breathe that he could only drink the Pedialyte. I watched the respiratory therapist suction him out and tell me that time was what he needed to feel better. During the night time he fussed and slept for no more than a couple hours. I held his little body night and day just praying we’d be out of the hospital with a healthy baby.
Then on the 5th day in the hospital Foster woke up from his exhaustion. He had not needed oxygen while he was sleeping and he was so hungry he drank double the ounces of Pedialyte and even ate some formula. Foster’s big blue eyes glistened with the spark that he had lost while he was sick. He gurgled and smiled at me, loving the one on one attention. The pediatrician came in for rounds and couldn’t believe the change he saw just overnight. We were going home! Finally, the hospital days were behind us.
We left the hospital just a day or two before Valentine’s Day. I begged my mother to watch my kids for one more afternoon and I cooked up a storm. Gavin handled some serious responsibilities when I was gone, worked in the day time, took care of a toddler and a three month old in the evenings, found time to visit me in the hospital, and tried to keep the laundry from taking over our house. I made Gavin’s favorite chicken fried steaks, spicy gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole as a thank you for doing all that he did while I was in the hospital. Our littlest ones slept during early bedtime and Gavin, Rowan and I sat down to a dinner together for the first time in weeks. Rowan was so excited to have his mom and dad together. We watched Rowan’s favorite movie (Cars, because Tow-Mater is awesome) and settled back into life. The hardest part was over and we thanked the Lord for keeping us sane and bringing us through it.