Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What it's really like to have infant twins: Older siblings.

Before the twins were born, I worried too much about how Norah would do and how this big transition would affect her. I worried that she would struggle with not having our undivided attention, with us being away in the hospital, with reacting to her new siblings in negative ways, etc. Everyone always says that you heart will just grow to love the new baby, or babies in our case, but HOW would that work? No one had a good answer. They all said it just would.

They were right. It's unexplainable and there's really no way to answer that worry with anything other than to just wait until the baby is born. God just does a miracle in the parent's hearts and they expand even more and you love all your kids.

Before the twins arrived, we tried to do lots of fun things with Norah to live up our last days as a family of three. Not that it wouldn't be fun once twins arrived, but we knew it would be different. Overall, Norah has handled the transition very well. That doesn't mean that there were rough patches or hard times, but we had rough patches and tough times too, so how could we expect a two year old to handle it well all the time?

For us, the beginning was the hardest, and again later for a couple weeks when the twins were about 5-6 weeks old. It was hard because we were in the NICU for 10 days, so we were apart from Norah. She was able to come to visit a few different times, and we got to sneak away with just her to a park and to swim in our hotel pool, but she wasn't allowed in the NICU so she couldn't meet the girls until they came home. For the first few days, she stayed with Kley's parents, who live where we live, so we saw her every day for the first few days. It was so nice to see her, but so hard too because she didn't understand what was happening really and why we couldn't come home with her or why she couldn't stay with us. Every night when we had to say goodbye, it was really hard for all of us. The last few days, she went to stay with my parents in Des Moines, which was really good for her to have attention focused on her and to not have to go back and forth from the hospital everyday. Norah hates to say goodbye, even to this day, so it was hard to repeatedly have to do that. We are so thankful our NICU stay was only 10 days- it felt like forever at the time, but there were many people there who were there longer than we were. Being reunited when we got home and introducing Norah to the girls is one of my favorite moments ever.

So, when the twins were born was the hardest for all of us emotionally, but later on was the hardest behaviorally. We had a couple weeks that were really hard with Norah- times where we asked each other where our sweet girl went and said that she was even harder than the twins. There were lots of battles, screaming fits, potty accidents, problems going to bed, night waking, getting out of bed, etc. I don't want to go into all the specific details, because that's personal to Norah and I don't want to spill her hardships in detail, but it was tough. I think this time was the hardest because the initial feelings of bringing them home were wearing off and she was realizing that they weren't leaving and this was her new life.

I'm very thankful that none of these issues were ever directed towards Lucy and Ellory. She has loved them from the start, and all of her hardships/anger were directed at Kley and I. Each kid is different, but that's just how she was and I'm glad she was mad at me and not them. Obviously, she did get much better with time, which is much easier to say after the fact, because during the battle it feels like this might last forever.

Here are some tips I would give for how to help older siblings through the transition:

1. Try to prep them with what's to come as best you can. Since our twins came earlier than expected (you can read their birth story here), I didn't get a chance to prepare Norah like I wanted to. Since births never quite go how you expect, you obviously can't prepare them for everything, but I wish I would have had the chance to talk with her more about me being in the hospital, how sore I would be after, her staying with grandparents, etc.

2. Have something fun for them. We gave Norah a "big sister gift" when she came to the hospital for the first time, and had a few fun small things to keep her occupied. Since the new baby usually gets gifts, it was fun for Norah to have something new too.

3. Do something one on one with older siblings, whenever you can squeeze it in, even if it's small or short. That was so nice for Norah to let her know that we still loved her and to be able to do something normal and/or special with her.

4. Find something for the baby they can do. There are so many things they can't do that it's easy to just tell them no or to not do this or that, so it's nice to find things they can do so they can help and so you can speak positively. Maybe they can get them a new diaper or burp rag, shake their rattle, etc. Even just phrasing things in a positive way (like "Use nice gentle touches!" vs. "Don't touch them so hard!") made me feel like she was included more and a helpful part of the equation.

5. I think this one is maybe the most important, but just give them space to be uncomfortable in the unknown. Adding a new family member is hard on everyone. All those things you are feeling about a big transition and finding a new normal- they are feeling them too, and they have even less words and emotional maturity to express how they are feeling in positive ways. Not that it's okay to lash out in anger, but it is okay to be upset because transitions are hard. There were times where we would try to fix her problem or ask her what was wrong, but you can't fix it and she couldn't even articulate her feelings, but just needed space to feel and needed us to be there to be consistent and love on her.

I never liked it when people would tell me it would get easier when we were in the thick of it, because even though you know it logically will, you don't know when or how and that's hard. At the time, I just wanted someone to acknowledge how hard it was instead of saying it will get better. It is hard. Super hard sometimes. But it will get better. It will, and I'm very thankful for the perspective and hindsight to say that now. It may be slow, but the new normal and routine will come. Try to take it one day at a time, and finally one day you will think that this day isn't as hard as it used to be. I'm so thankful for where we are now. It's still a lot, but a different sort than the beginning. It feels more normal now, verses a transition, and we are all thankful for that! Norah is such an incredible sister and it's so sweet to watch her with them. She loves to hold them, give them toys, try to make them laugh, etc. She still has moments (like any two year old), but overall, she is such a joy and a very good listener. Norah, we are so glad Lucy and Ellory have such a special big sister like you!

Parents, keep up the good work! What a beautiful responsibility we've been given.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Lucy and Ellory- Six months.

Sometimes it feels like Lucy and Ellory just arrived, and other times it feels like they've been here forever. It's hard to remember life without them! Baby coos and smiles are the best. Overall, it's going pretty well. There are hard moments, but it's so good to feel mostly normal again. Babies change so quickly, so normal is changing, but we are thankful to be where we are now. The first months are special in a unique way, but so challenging too. Lucy and Ellory, you sure bring a lot of joy. Ellory is calm, content, and easy going. Lucy is a moving wiggle worm and is happiest being held. He has been so faithful over their little lives already! It was so special to dedicate them to the Lord on Sunday, July 30 with lots of loving family, including all eight great grandparents! Our biggest prayer is that our girls would love Jesus!

Stats: I took them to get weighed on 7/26 at 21 weeks, because Lucy wasn't taking her bottle that well and wanted to make sure she was gaining weight. They are both doing great, thankfully! Ellory weighed 14 lbs 13 oz and Lucy weighed 12 lbs 11 oz, so Ellory was still about 2 lbs bigger, but both had gained 1 lb 5 oz in a month.

At their six month check, Ellory was 26.25” (66%), 16 lbs 7 oz (57%), and head circumference 17” (77%). Since being weighed at 5 months, she had gained 1 lb 10 oz! Lucy was 25” (16%), 13 lbs 15 oz (12%), and head circumference 16.5” (41%). Lucy had gained l lb 4 oz in a month.

Teeth: Ellory's bottom right tooth broke through on 8/19 and bottom left tooth on 8/20 at 25 weeks. Lucy's bottom right tooth broke through on 8/21 and bottom left tooth on 8/22 at 25 weeks. So we had 4 teeth 4 days in a row! We could feel them coming for awhile before that!

Feeding: Feedings are going well. They still eat about every 3 hours, so it's more demanding than Norah at that age and more of a circus to feed two at once, but I'm thankful to be able to do it and that it's going well. They still get at least one bottle per day, and they switched to regular formula (instead of preemie formula) at 24 weeks, so it's not so much about making my milk higher calories as it used to be, but more as a supplementation to give them a little extra since they drink more in their bottles than I pump. Their bottles are half formula and half my milk, and they get an extra two ounces of formula before bed too, after they nurse, because want more before going to sleep.

They started cereal on 8/13 at 24 weeks. It's gone pretty well! We had a few weird faces, but they've mostly eaten it all and liked it. It took Lucy a bit longer to swallow it instead of letting it dribble out, but both seemed eager to try it and have continued to eat it! Overall, Lucy likes/eats it better. So, here is their approximate eating schedule: Nurse at 8, 11, 1:45, 5, cereal at 6:30, bottle at 7:45, nurse at 10:30 and bottle after. Sometimes it feels like I'm feeding them all day long, but I keep telling myself that they probably just get hungrier faster because they don't get both sides like Norah did!

Diapers/Clothes: Still wearing size 2 diapers and 3-6 month and 6 month clothes.

Sleeping: They have been sleeping through the night every night this month except once and it's incredible! So thankful for good, long sleep! They sleep from about 11-8, then go back to sleep until about 10-10:30, catnap about 12:45, a good afternoon nap from about 2-4:30, catnap around 7, and another pre-bed catnap about 9:30. They are sleeping really good at night and I'm very thankful for a good afternoon nap, so I will gladly take short, somewhat irregular catnaps during the rest of the day.

Developments: Eating cereal and getting teeth were the biggest events of the month. Both girls are quite good at rolling over in all directions and love to do it often. We are getting some big laughs out of them sometimes, which is the cutest. We love to try to get them to talk and both love to coo often. We have been practicing sitting up/standing, but have a ways to go. We put away their newborn loungers and now just have the regular Boppy pillows out. They love to grab whatever is in front of them and are much better at holding onto toys. They are starting to move around a lot more. We always have to strap them into their seats or whatever they are in now because they can wiggle out.

Favorites: Ellory likes to face outward when being held, and Lucy likes to cuddle onto your chest. They take most naps in their crib now, but Lucy will sleep in peoples' arms much easier than Ellory. Lucy loves to sleep on her tummy, and once she learned how to roll over, she immediately hated the swing because she couldn't turn, but Ellory still likes it. Ellory will sometimes sleep on her tummy now, but most often likes her back. They both like their sit-me-up floor seats and they are perfect for this stage because they can sit up and see what's going on while still being supported. They like to go outside and look around. They sometimes don't like going in their car seats while being strapped in, but once they're in they like them. Both enjoy bath time and splashing.

We love you so much, Lucy and Ellory! So grateful to be your parents!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Parks, baby fun, and cereal.

We've gone to a couple new parks this summer, and Norah has loved them! It's hard to do big outings with young twins, so going to a new park has been about as adventurous as we've gotten this summer, but that's okay too. Tis the season. Lucy and Ellory have enjoyed it too, even though they could care less where we are as long as we go too. :)

Lucy sticking her tongue out at grandpa. 

Ellory decided to sleep the whole time.

Riding the tire swing with Aunt Karlie!

Swinging with grandma.

My youngest sister, Kayla, moved into her dorm here last weekend, and we are pumped to have her close! Zack and Karlie came for the weekend too, so it was nice to see them since we hadn't in awhile. Also, my dad is gone helping his sick brother in Minneapolis, so my mom is staying with us for an entire week. Shouts for joy from all of us to have grandma around to play with and help!

The girls tried baby cereal last week for the first time. Growing up so fast! We got some weird initial faces, but they've mostly liked it!

Norah is their biggest cheerleader!

Ellory ate it better the first night and Lucy's basically ran down her chin, but Lucy regained quickly and now she eats it better than Ellory.

I didn't really notice until uploading, but I love their faces- Lucy is like, "get that into my mouth now," and Ellory is like, "what is she doing to me?" Ha. 

Ellory is a thumb sucker like Norah. So cute. She took a paci for about 3 months and then just decided, basically overnight, she didn't want it anymore and started sucking her thumb. Lucy has never done either.

Cutest deer in the headlights. :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Norah took a summer beginners tumbling class, and she had lots of fun- here are some of her action shots! They did a lot of jumping, somersaults, balance beam, and trampoline. Way to go, Norah!