Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Passover and more health concerns

We continued to be brave and brought the girls out for Passover.  Friends invited us over for first seder, and while we originally declined, we talked to our pediatrician and she said we would be ok to bring the girls provided no one was sick and that we wore the girls the entire time.  We both really wanted to go, so we did.

I'm glad we did, although it was hard with the girls.  Zev was happy enough; he likes the other children (when I told him we were going to see E and B he got VERY excited).  And the advantage of going somewhere with other parents is that you don't have to worry that much about your own kid: someone is always watching. 

I'm not a fan of babywearing.  I know some moms love it and are big into attachment parenting and babywearing 24/7.  Personally, I find it physically uncomfortable.  The slings are too big for me, and the Bjorn just gets in my way.  But it does make things easier, so that's what we did.  It was a quick kiddie-friendly service and excellent food.  I held Meorah and managed about 2.5 hours before I couldn't take it anymore.  We were in the midst of 'fussy time' and neither of us were having it anymore.  Plus, I had to pump again.  Jason told me he was amazed I lasted as long as I did.  Ha.  Regardless, I had a really good time and I liked taking the girls out.  We haven't been able to do that so we haven't introduced the girls to anyone.  Part of the fun part of having a baby is showing them off, and we are missing out on that.  But as time goes on, we should be able to do that more often.

Second night we had my parents over.  My sister was supposed to come as well, but she emailed me that morning and said she was sick...and what should she do.  After chatting with Jason and her, we all decided it was best she stay home.  I was really disappointed.  I don't get to see her as much as I would like.  Everyone is busy and its hard for both of us to get out.  Hopefully I'll see her in a few weeks when my grandfather comes to visit.  We did have a nice time with my parents.  My dad hadn't seen the girls in a few weeks, and as he said:  they look like real babies now.  Which in a funny way is true.  They look so different now compared to when they were born.  I forget sometimes.  I look back at old pictures of them and remember how much lanugo they had and how tiny they were.  All those tubes.  They were only 3 lbs when they were born, and they are both around 8 lbs now.  Big difference.  And as they get older and are interacting more it is even better.

I do have some concerns, mainly regarding Meorah.  She is a bit behind Tzelia in her milestones:  she makes less eye contact, has less tracking, is harder to soothe with just a voice.  I don't know if that is just part of her personality as a naturally fussier baby or if it sometihng to be worried about.  But she does see an OT once a month, and I think I'll bring it up with her and see if we can maybe have her seen more often to make sure she is on the right track. 

As for me...ugh.  Reflux is back.  Everytime I eat I feel a burning sensation.  I'm back on the Prilosec and I emailed my doctor yesterday to see what she recommends.  This will be my third round of Prilosec in about three months.  I have yet to be seen by a GI doc, and I think that is the next step.  I can't do this forever.  I'm pretty sure the ulcer (which was undiagnosed) is gone, but this constant reflux is not something I want to deal with forever.  It does give me more empathy to the girls, though.  I want to cry after I eat too.  I don't think its a coincidence that it got worse as soon as I went back to work.  Anyone who knows me knows that I experience stress in my body.  Upset stomach, weight loss, insomnia, TMJD....this is how I experience stress and anxiety.  It isn't too surprising that I can now add reflux to that list...  So we'll see what she has to say.  I wouldn't mind seeing a GI doc just to get some answers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

She's hired; pre-Passover

We ended up going with Meredith.  While both girls were experienced and would have been fine, Meredith has a few extra things going for her:  she lives much closer and she has Wed free now.  In her interview, she said she would want to be paid 17-20/hour for three children (she said she looked it up on  Yeah...far too overpaid for her experience level.  So when I made her the offer, I was curious to see if she would counter-offer or try to negotiate.  I didn't think she'd have the chutzpah to try....and I was right.  She accepted it as it was.  Its interesting that most people don't try to negotiate.  I have always negotiated at every job I've been offered.  I figure, 'you don't ask, you don't get', and employers never recind an offer.  I'm not always successful, but it never hurts to ask.  I read somewhere that this one of the reasons women are paid less than men for the same job level:  men are more willing to ask for a higher initial base salary.  When you then factor in % raises, it can add up to substantial differences across gender.  Take home lesson:  always ask for slightly more than you think you're worth.

We'll be obviously paying her less than Nicole, but now our out-of-pocket expenses will be a bit higher while we are paying both her and Nicole.  She'll probably start next week since this week is a holiday.

To celebrate the last day before Passover, we all went to IHOP last night.  First time out with everyone.  Jason and I are becoming more comfortable with taking the girls out, and we chose a restaurant that was 1) baby friendly and 2) we knew would be empty (it was).  I'm not a fan of breakfast-carb-yumminess, so I just has some fruit while Jason and Zev lived up the french toast and pancakes.  But that was fine with me...I just liked being out with everyone.  We did get looks from everyone who was there, of course.  We just kept the girls in their car seats and put them in the booths with us.  Worked fine.

Passover starts tonight but we aren't doing a full clean this year.  We're too tired.  As Jason said this morning:  'We're just staying in Egypt this year'.  Ha.  We'll do the dietary restriction, but there was no housecleaning, and we didn't switch plates this year.  I'm keeping Zev on his normal diet, since he eats a lot of beans/peas/corn/pasta, and I don't want him to live on yogurt and applesause all week (although he'd love that).  We are actually going to go to a seder tomorrow at a friend's house ( one going has been sick recently) and then my mom and sister are coming over tomorrow night.  I'll be taking tomorrow off from work to help get things ready.  If we cook enough, we'll be able to have leftovers for most of the week, which will make things much easier...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

nanny decisions...

We have been interviewing for a temporary nanny position.  Nicole, our nanny, is pregnant and due the end of June.  We have always known we would have to find someone to cover for her for the 8 weeks or so she will be out.  I had been planning on looking for a temp nanny sometime in May.

However, a few weeks ago my mother offered to 'buy' me a mother's helper to help out for a few weeks.  Seems she thinks Jason and I are a bit overwhelmed (what could give her THAT impression??).  So while thinking about that, I decided I could combine the two positions and have the mother's helper transition into a full time summer nanny.  I went to, which is where I found Nicole, and placed an ad about two weeks ago.  Tons of responses, and we've been interviewing a few nice girls.  The last one will be tonight.

I've been concentrating mainly on college girls, thinking they would have the extra evening/weekend hours now and be free over the summer.  The girls are around 22-24 years old, and most are somewhat local.  I've been requesting that they work one evening during the week, from about 6-8, and then for a few hours on a weekend.  The girls have ranged in experience, from working in a day care setting to only nannying for one child.  Most are early education majors and want to be teachers. 

So the experienced do I need them to be.  For example, we had two girls interview on Sunday morning.  The first had a lot of experience:  day care setting in both the infant and toddler rooms and will be completing her degree this summer.  The second is currently a nanny for a one year old and will be starting her education major over the summer via an online program (will be her second degree; her first is psychology).  Her experience is really limited to her large extended family.  Normally I'd just jump at the first girl...only her hours are not as good (would not be able to make it to our house until 6:30 at the earliest).

What do we need?  A good experienced (although young) nanny, or as Jason puts it a glorified baby-sitter?  It will be summer time, so all she will really have to do is take Zev out to the park and make sure no one loses an eye.  She doesn't need to teach him...that's what Nicole does and will do when she returns.  Even Nicole said she doesn't think we need someone who will be a teacher (although perhaps she is biased...she is rather protective of Zev) because that is her job. 

One more interview tonight and then we'll have to make a decision....a cheaper babysitter or a slightly more $$ and experienced nanny....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A day out with everyone

We decided to be brave and enjoy the spring weather and spend the morning at the Arnold Arboretum.  I do have to say that getting all three kids out and about is an adventure.  And exhausting.  But hey, this is our life now...

Jason and the girls.

Me and Zev playing 'I see you' with a bench.

The first flower Zev ever gave me (although Jason told him to give it to me....)

I like my flower.

Meorah's not a fan of being on the ground...but then, she generally hates everything.  She even threw up on daddy twice that day, despite what her shirt says...

While we were taking pictures of the girls, Zev was keeping busy.

Daddy and his girls.

Mommy and her little ones.  Adorable, eh?

It was a nice day out....  While we were sitting at one of the benches, I overheard a woman comment as she walked by:  "That's a lot of babies".

Well, yes.  Yes it is.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Week 1 just about over

And today ends my first week back to work.  How has it gone?

Well, coincidentally I started back just when two major studies are picking up.  So I was thrown immediately into working on those.  I ended up working late three days this week, and its just my first week back.  Next week shouldn't be that bad, though.

I admit that my mood has picked up a lot.  Am I too busy?  Probably.  But the schedule and routine of getting up and going to work, being productive during the day, having adult has made me feel better.  I have gotten quite a few comments this week about how I'm able to get everything done.  People seem to think I'm doing so much.  Am I?  Or am I such an overachiever that I don't see it?  My day yesterday:

Pumped at 10pm the night before.
Woke up to pump around 1:30am.
Alarm went off at 5am:  pumped.
After pumping, went to gym.  Got there by 5:45. Left at 6:30 (what I do varies by day)
Got home and mixed the day's breastmilk/formula for the girls.
Showered, changed.  Had breakfast/pumped.  Left around 8:15
Work:  busy with various experimental stuff.  Pumped 3x/while there.
On the way home, picked up some pants I had altered.
Home:  cleaned out breastmilk stuff from work, cleaned out Zev's dishes.  Made all his food for the next day. 
Played with Zev for a bit and chatted with Jason.
Made our dinners and my food for the next day
Ate dinner
Played with Meorah and sat with Jason and Tzelia.
Made all the breastmilk for the overnight sessions.
Pumped around 10pm

Wash, rinse, repeat.  I think I sat down with nothing during that hour dinner.  But other than that...nope.  But I like it that way.  Is that weird?  Perhaps I should just accept that I will never be a Zen master.  Despite all the activity, I actually feel more RELAXED this way.  I think it is because I feel productive again...after 5 months of feeling useless.  As I said, my mood has been much improved this week.

Girls are doing well.  They had their Synagis shot and were weighed:  Meorah just under 8 lbs, and Tzelia around 7.5 lbs.  They are getting more and more alert and interactive, which is really nice.  I really miss them during the day.  After spending 5 months at home with them (pregnant and not) it is hard to be separated.  But at the same time, I am glad to be working. 

Zev has been hysterical recently.  He really is a card.  What I find amusing is that he tries to joke with you.  He has quite a sense of humor (and will tell you so:  Zevy funny!).  He still adores his sisters, thank goodness.  Not sure how long that will last, but hoping at least until the teenage years.  Ha.

Jason has had this week off, and I wish he had had more time to himself.  Nicole ended up getting sick after her glucose test the other day and had to take the rest of the day off.  I'm 99% sure she's diabetic.  She has all the symptoms.  Poor thing.  We called a back up sitter today so Jason could have a break.  I hope wherever he is, he's enjoying himself.  He'll start his new job on Monday.  I miss him.  I am hoping that this temp nanny can also act as a babysitter so we can spend more quality time together.  Because we need it.  We need to find a way to fit that in there somewhere.  We're more than just parents, and I think its important to remember that....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Making it fun...

Today is Day 2.

Yesterday actually went quite well.  I was able to get into my computer pretty easily.  I'm amazed I remembered my password from five months ago.  I only had 750 emails to go through, and about 99% of them I just deleted without reading them.  I cleaned out my desktop and deleted old files and articles I didn't think would be relevant anymore and tried to organize the files the best I could.  May as well start with a clean slate.

Met with my boss to chat about the upcoming months.  I actually came back during the most opportune week; we are starting the behavior studies for two long-term experiments this week.  I had known back in October that when I returned from maternity leave we would be starting these studies, and obviously that hadn't changed.  So the next few months will be very busy.  Which I like:  I'm tired of sitting and being bored.  Activity is good.  The day to day activity itself is rather monotonous but will be quite long, and hopefully the data will be interesting.  We'll see.  Can't go into much detail though, so anyone reading will just have to sit and wonder what I do.  Ha.

I have been able to find time to pump, which is nice.  I have set my alarm for 5am and pump then.  I get to the gym for a bit, and then come back and shower/get food ready for the day for myself and the girls, and then pump again before I leave.  I have been managing to pump every 3 hours roughly, which is slightly longer than I had before.  But it will have to do, and I may even need to draw it out further, unfortunately.  We'll see. 

I really did miss the girls and Zev.  I'm used to seeing them all day, so it was hard when I came home and only had a few hours with them.  I hope that will get easier.  My boss had asked if I was going to go fulltime immediately, and I'd like to try.  It is going to be hard no matter when I start FT, so I may as well start now.  I told him if it got to be too difficult that I would let him know.  And this way I can still save time for sick days should I need them later.

In terms of taking care of myself, I started another fitness journal to keep track of my sleeping, resting, intake, etc.  I didn't want to turn this blog into that because I'd rather keep this to family and more personal things.  And didn't want to take up space talking about my lifting/eating.  No one cares about that.  I'm just writing it down to make sure I take ample rest and dont' live on cereal forever.  So far it is working ok.  Meals are more balanced and I feel better.

My next goal:  trying to find the joy in all this.  Being back to work has helped my mood, so I do think I'll become more relaxed.  The trick is being more relaxed without being too exhausted.  Because I want to enjoy myself, my husband, my children, etc., and not feel too tired to do so.  And I want to focus on the fun things.  Perhaps planning family activities on weekends to be sure we all spend time together.  And I need to talk to Jason about his schedule once he returns to work.  Being a two income family makes spending quality time with your spouse difficult and by the time Zev is in bed and the girls are fed, we're both exhausted.  There must be another way....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Back to work...

And a new type of 'normal' begins....

I don't anticipate today being that difficult.  I left abruptly back in October and I don't even remember the password to get into my computer.  I'm sure it has expired anyway.  And once I get into it, it will take me a year to even go through all my emails and files.

It will be good to get back 'in the groove'.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Coping with stress

Its been awhile.  I'm actually hoping once I go back to work it will easier for me to find 15 minutes to write.  While I'm at home, there is always a child needing attention something going on that keeps me from writing anything.  I think at work it will be a bit easier to mentally escape to write.  We'll see.

Speaking of work, I will be going back on Monday.  I have been off work since October 2nd, or 23 weeks.    Almost half a year.  That's a really long time.

I went back last week to meet with my boss.  That meeting actually went well in of itself, the difficult part for me was walking into the building itself; the last time I was there I was pregnant and on my way to my doctor's appointment.  Then everything went to hell.  I've mentioned these 'anxiety attacks' in previous posts.  I liken them to pseudo-PTSD flashes.  They are rather unnerving but come very rarely.  I don't anticipate many more until next holiday season...hopefully I'll be able to cope ok with that.

People ask if I'm looking forward to going back to work.  Yes and no.  I am looking forward to working again.  I am looking forward to more adult conversations.  I am looking forward to getting out of the house more regularly and having things to talk about other than diapers/reflux/pumping/pooping.  I am not looking forward to increased stress and exhaustion.  I am not looking forward to feeling more frazzled than I already am.  And I am not looking forward to feeling pulled in even more directions.

Especially since I have never been good at coping with stress.  I turn into a bionic woman...go go go with blinders on, never stopping to actually rest and think.  Eating and sleeping are no longer priorities and 'resting' is considered laziness (nap??  but I have laundry and cleaning and I have to organize my closet!!).  As a consequence my health deteriorates and I end up burning out.  Plus, I end up cranky and bitchy to Jason people, and that isn't something I want at all.

I already got a talking-to from the two people who probably know me best.  Jason sat me down and gave me a stern lecture on taking on too much and not letting him do anything anymore.  And not taking care of myself (yet again).  I tried to defend myself, saying that HE wasn't resting either, I didn't want to be lazy, and I felt bad when I saw him doing everything.  He didn't buy it:  I'm lactating, he did it for months when I was on bed rest, and I needed to make our family a priority.  And he said something that did hit home:  I need to be able to enjoy this.  And if I'm running around too much trying to be super woman while surviving on fumes and exhaustion, I can't enjoy anything.


So then I saw my therapist, who I have seen on/off for about three years now.  She's a psychiatric nurse and I started seeing her before I became pregnant with Zev and wanted to talk about the infertility issues I was having.  I like her because she is not a psychologist (with my psych degree, I find talking to psychologists too annoying) and she can be very insightful and confronting.  I hadn't seen her since I was first put on bed rest (she came to my nice) and got a similar talking-to about taking care of myself.  Only her theme was why I felt the need to go-go-go and not take care of myself properly.  Why I don't think eating/sleeping/resting is important enough and how to counter my attitude about 'being lazy'.  She too says:  I'm going to crash and burn.  Especially if I don't work on this and make it a priority now that I'm going back to work.

Because three young children + working full time is enough to make anyone coo-coo.

So this is what I need to start figuring out:  how to allow myself to rest and 'smell the roses' and actually take care of my body by giving it what it needs:  proper rest when it needs it, good food when it needs it, a mental health break when it needs it, etc.


On the kiddie front, we are in the midst of interviewing back-up babysitters/nannies to help out in the evening/weekends and to cover for Nicole when she goes on maternity.  We've seen three girls so far:  I'm specifically interviewing college students who are getting education degrees and want the experience of being a nanny.  The timing is perfect for them:  Nicole is due the end of June, just when classes will be ending.  We live between Boston College and Boston University, plus there are about five other colleges without a stone's throw from here.  Tons of students.  I just hate interviewing.  I'm giving myself until the end of next week and then will just pick whoever is best.  I won't get someone like Nicole, but that's ok..its just for 8 weeks or so, and as long as no one loses a finger I'll be happy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Groundhog day...part 2

I have another post entitled Groundhog Day.  Well, lets just say a month later, it is much the same.  Only this time it is starting to depress me.

I wrote on my crunchy moms site and asked other moms of multiples how they coped with being pulled in so many directions.  I feel like there isn't enough of me to go around.  I feel like I'm neglecting my girls because I can't spend any real 1-1 time with them.  I remember doing 'tummy time' and taking Zev out to mommy groups when he was this age.  With the girls, everything just takes so much energy.  I have less time with them (I wasn't pumping with Zev so that wasn't an issue), and I need twice the time to feed, diaper, etc.  How can I really play with one baby and try to be nurturing to her while I have a second baby on my lap who equally needs some mommy-time?  I feel guilty for being too tired to do much with the time they are fed, I need to pump, and I barely have time to eat or do anything around the house.  I have a mental list of things I would like to get done...and just don't have the energy or motivation to do it.  I'm depressed that I am stuck in the house all day because I can't take them anywhere.  I feel like I have nothing to look forward to during the day....feed, diaper, swaddle, pump, repeat.  I can't take them out due to their preemie status, so we don't even have THAT option.

The response was:  this is the hardest period.  It will get easier.  I hope so.

I am generally a pretty positive person.  I met with Moore, my boss, the other day to chat about performance review/salary/bonus/when I'm coming back.  And then I met with Ken, HIS boss, who had heard I would be there and wanted to chat as well.  Both meetings went fine...salary/raise/bonus was about what I expected ("in this lean economy....") and my boss was supportive and gave me a heads-up on what would be coming my way when I returned.  His boss was extremely supportive; he has a daughter with CP (brain bleed at birth and spent time in the NICU) and wanted to hear how I was doing and was I getting the support I needed.  He commented that I had a good attitude and that his wife had had a very difficult time when their daughter was born.  I told him what I tell everyone:  I'd rather laugh than cry.

But I admit to feeling two steps away from crying.  Its exhaustion, mainly.  Slight depression, but nothing unmanageable.  I just keep telling myself that this is the hardest period and that it will be easier in a few months.  Whether or not that's true I don't know, but it makes me feel better.

Ken told me that if I needed extra time/support at work to just let him know and I could take more time if I needed it.  It was wonderful to hear.  I have been feeling guilty about missing so much work time, which is why I am going back 2 weeks before I really need to.  Although this way I have those 2 weeks saved should I need it down the road.

On a positive note:  the girls are doing well.  Joan, our visiting nurse, will be discharging Meorah because she is doing so well.  Tzelia will shortly follow, I'm sure.  M was 7 lbs yesterday and T was 6 lbs 13 oz.  I find it amusing how they are always 3 oz off from each other.

Zev can't go to the back-up day care tomorrow, so it will be me and the three kiddos all day.  My mother will be here for a bit to help out, which will be very appreciated.  At this point, I really respect my nanny.  The woman earns her money.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Its starting to hit me

In a bad way.

Everyone keeps saying how difficult it must be to have three young children at home.  And before a few days ago, I said it actually wasn't that bad.

But honestly, the last two evenings have been rough.  Last night particularly.

Most of it was because I was a pseudo single parent for the evening:  the minivan died in the driveway just as I had finished loading the girls in their carseats to run out to pick up a prescription.  Jason spent the evening trying to jump start it (which failed and we ended up calling AAA to have them do it, but that was after three hours of getting jumper cables, pushing the car, going back and forth from the house to the car with a flashlight trying to figure out what was wrong).  While he was being mechanic, I was catering to three hungry and needy children AND trying to find time to feed them and pump.  I admit to losing my temper twice, which made Zev cry, which made me feel absolutely horrible.

It isn't his fault that he is two and can't understand if I need him to wait three minutes while I finish feeding one of his sisters (while the other one is also yelling at me from a bouncer).  And it isn't his fault that he tries so hard to be helpful with his sisters when they are sleeping, which just results in them waking up and deciding:  why yes, I'm hungry too!  And it isn't his fault that he says he is not hungry, then he is, then he is not, then he is but no he can't eat in the other room it has to be in the kitchen RIGHT NOW.

And the girls are just being newborns...they can't self-soothe and if they are hungry they also need to be fed.  If it were just one baby, I could easily handle that.  But two crying babies plus a crying toddler who is upset because mommy is upset....well, that just results in all four of us being upset (five, if you count Jason who is continuing to be frustrated by the minivan in the midst of the drama).


Its getting to me.  I know it is temporary, but as Jason said last night:  "What on earth did we do WRONG" (to deserve all this?)  I just decided I must have done something awful in my last life, and this is just karma paying me back.

No other explanation.

Massive bleeding first trimester
Bed rest at week 20
Nanny finds out she is pregnant that same week
Preterm labor at week 26
Two weeks in the hospital with Jason being single dad
Preterm labor at week 30, spending my birthday blind, unable to move, and throwing up.
Girls born 10 weeks early
Bad c-section recovery + lack of rest = ulcer the entire month of December
C-section incision that didn't heal all that great
Baby 1 staying in NICU for 6 weeks, baby for 8 weeks, leaving two weeks of balancing one at home and one in the NICU + Zev at home
Pneumonia 1.5 weeks after baby 2 at home
Nanny gets pregnancy complications and has to spend a week in bed...still unsure if she will need to stay there
Minivan dies

Yeah....the last four months have sucked