Sunday, May 29, 2016

Who Are They: Meet Joy

Here are some things I've noticed about Joy's personality so far

Joy
  • Joy is a happy baby. She smiles in her sleep and it is the sweetest thing you'll ever experience. 
  • As she's grown older, she's not JUST happy, but very expressive. I can get 22 facial expressions from her in a one minute period. It's little bits of amazing to watch her and imagine what's she's thinking. One of my favorites is grumpy old man face. She wears it so well.
  • Joy's eyes have always been open. From Day 1. She came out of my womb with her eyes open. In my hospital pic, she's winking. And that's likely because we woke her up to take the picture. She's so bright eyed and I love it. 
  • Joy is my mover and shaker. She was a busy body in my womb. I was a high risk pregnancy and got way more ultrasounds and stress tests than the average pregnancy. Towards the end, it was monitoring twice a week and every time Joy would be in a different position. Parallel to Lahna, perpendicular to Lahna, side by side next to Lahna, on top of Lahna (to the point that we could only see one baby on the ultrasound), in a T (legs near Lahna's head and body facing the other way), fetal position, stretched completely out... She would not stay still. I imagine her tap dancing on Lahna's amniotic sac (and my bladder) talmbout "I STAY WOKE!" 
  • Joy does NOT like baths... Originally anyway. Like all little ladies, I think she's starting to enjoy it.  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Who Are They: Meet Lahna

I'm pretty sure I'm going to start doing the thing where I write posts to you all (the world) FROM the twins. Before I had kids, I thought this was completely weird, but I get it now. There are so many things I think my kids are thinking based on how they interact with me and I want to share it with the world.

Anywho, they say babies don't have personalities for a while. That has NOT been true at all for my twins. Here's a bit about them that you may or may not be able to pick up in the photos. 

Lahna

  • Lahna means peace. 
  • Lahna is Baby A, the oldest, my firstborn (Baby A means she was closest to my cervix during pregnancy).
  • For the majority of the third trimester Lahna was head down (so positioned to exit the womb) and still.
  • For the majority of the pregnancy Lahna was smaller than her sister.
  • Lahna was born 5 lbs, 12 oz (5 ozs BIGGER than her sister).
  • Lahna is always on chill mode... until she's not. In every pic I send of her, she's sleeping. Which would lead you to believe she's the quiet one. Howsoever, when she's hungry, she wants food NOW! She will scream bloody murder until she gets her mouth to the boob. THIS is why we don't have any pics of her while she's awake. She won't stay still long enough for an iPhone shot. And her cries are PIERCING! She said being peaceful has nothing to do with being quiet and she is going to be HEARD, do you hear me! This is the same personality that spent the last 13 weeks of her gestational period head down. She's BEEN ready.
  • Lahna doesn't like to be held like a baby. She likes to be in a football hold. Again, this allows her to look out into the world. I think this is why she was the first born. She's like, let me scope out the situation. 
  • Lahna is rarely still. She likely got the memo that I'm not having any more kids and decided to take on more traditionally male baby characteristics like NEVER SITTING STILL. I love my little bouncy baby! 
  • Lahna sleeps more than her sister. Any time we try to leave the house with one child, we take whoever is up and it's never Lahna.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Lies

Here are some lies people have told me:

1. One twin won't wake up the other.
2. Babies don't have personalities until they're much older. (Ha. More on this tomorrow)
3. Newborns don't roll over.
4. Newborns don't sit up on their own.
5. Newborns don't hold their own head's up.

Seriously, who are these advanced children I birthed?

What I'm finding is nothing is true ALL the time. Just rolling with the punches on this motherhood journey.

What have people told you about pregnancy, giving birth or having newborns that you found to just be a bold faced lie? LOL!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

My Little Sweethearts

Here they are in all of their "we were just born 2 days ago" glory! Thank God for the photographer they send to your postpartum suite. I had no time (or money) to research and schedule baby pics. Also, 6 weeks in and they look so different from these day 2 pics.

I'm super weird about photos. I'm definitely not going to be sharing a lot of "here's what we did today" photos to Facebook. I'm starting to open up a bit on Instagram, but I think the blog will be the place that I share the most pics. (or if you want pics, text me and I'll send them to you).

ALSO, I have NO IDEA what to do with all these pics on my cell phone. I love printed pictures, but this is not the 90s where I just kept a disposable camera in my purse. I have HUNDREDS of photos each month now. I actually pay for extra cloud storage, so I don't even have to edit my pics to make space like most folks do. How do I edit all those pics? What to share? What to print out. What to *gasp* delete?

I'm thinking about a Snapfish or Shutterfly subscription where they just send you all the photos you've taken in a month. Does that even exist?

Anywho, here are the girls!



Sunday, May 15, 2016

One a Day

I'm learning as a new mom AND a mom of twins that I can only do one thing a day that's not feeding, clothing or comforting my newborns.

I can either:

shower or
go to the post office or
call the insurance company or
respond to email or
cook or
clean or
sort the laundry for the laundry service or
put the laundry away or
balance my checkbook or
wash my hair or
twist my hair or
write a blog.

You think I'm kidding. If I shower AND send clothes to the laundry, I will be EXHAUSTED during night time feedings. And exhausted mommy is NOT good for babies. They pick up on all of my energy. If I'm exhausted they are going to be cranky... catch 22. 

For someone like me who is a list maker and task master, this is one-a-day business could be torture. I've had a lot of practice doing nothing while I was unemployed (because I didn't WANT to do anything) and when I was pregnant (because I COULDN'T do anything). But it's still difficult to know I have a list of things to do and they won't get done for days or even weeks.

HOWEVER, as a new mom my ONLY job is to make sure the kids are clothed, fed and comforted and I do that EVERY DAY! I nurse two babies 8-10 times a day... each. This leaves me 4 hours left in the day. I USUALLY use those 4 hours for sleep (it's not 4 consecutive hours, but 4 hours nonetheless). One days when I have one more thing to do, I get 3 and half hours of sleep.

So if I don't do ANYTHING ELSE every single day, it's still a good day if the kids are doing well.

I hope this teaches me how to have an "it is what it is" attitude. It's very contra to who I am. My natural attitude is usually "it can be fixed" or "I can MAKE it happen." That's so different from "Eh, it didn't happen today, we'll do it tomorrow... or later." 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Day Of Firsts

With newborns, there are so many firsts. First time nursing, first baths, first outfits, first time sleeping through the night.  

My girls are one month and 2 days today. They're still SO young and and new and little (just under 8 lbs each). Lots of things about taking care of them scare me. Even though I know God blessed me with them, I'm overwhelmed some days with the magnitude of being responsible for two additional lives.

That said, firsts are so special to me. I have to stop and take a moment to note what they are, so I don't forget.  

Today was a big day for me. It was the Manhattan Twins Club picnic in Central Park. I've been a member of the group for months and it has been so helpful. The discussion board is amazing. I've found my pediatrician on there, gotten advice about high risk pregnancy, things to add to the nursery... all from moms who know what it feels like to have 2. The classifieds are also helpful. I got a great deal on used car seats and I look forward to finding my nanny from recommendations from the board. It's the best $50 I've spent all year.

Here are all of our firsts from today:

- Went to our first outing (outside of the pediatrician's office). Our babies were the youngest at the picnic and therefore a main attraction.
- I nursed in public for the first time. Being around a bunch of other parents, it wasn't weird at all. I had some trepidation about it, but it was fine. Shout out to Udder Covers.
- I met moms from MTC in person for the first time (and made some great connects to people with twins the same age or near the same age as my babies. I look forward to nurturing those relationships)

Separate, but related
- I clipped Joy's nails for the first time today. Both girls have been scratching themselves and I've been putting this off because babies are so spastic. I'm afraid they're going to hurt themselves OR me while I'm doing it. BUT I found a moment of peace while she was sleeping. I haven't gotten to Lahna yet. She's been a busy body, but I feed them 8 times a day, so I'll find another moment soon.

 I'm sure there are many more firsts to come. Looking forward to [strike] chronicling them here so I don't forget [/strike] sharing them with you all!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Insurance Companies SUCK!

So I got a lactation consultant. That's someone who comes to your hospital room or home to help you nurse. It seems silly to anyone who hasn't nursed before, but babies don't know anything. They don't know how to get milk from your breasts. You actually have to get them to "latch" on AND I have two babies with two different personalities and development levels.

Your nipples crack & bleed. Your body can make too much milk or not enough. It's painful. It's stressful to have a screaming, hungry baby in your arms, but the baby won't connect with your nipple to eat. There are experts who help make sure you're getting the hang of it early on AND they're covered by insurance, which is great.


Aetna tells me that this is covered for 6 in-home visits, 100%, no cost to me. They ALSO tell me that there are no covered lactation consultants in my area, so I can use any one that I want and they will pay for it. 

I have been on the phone with them for 30 minutes, where they are telling me this service isn't covered because I used an out of network provider AND she used the wrong code on the forms. The consultants know the insurance companies are full of it, so they make you pay them, then you have to follow up with the insurance.

Aetna can't give me the code. My LC is not an in-network provider, so she has no access to the codes. Seems like a dead end to me.

Unfortunately Aetna, I'm not going. I am currently nursing a screaming baby and still on the phone with them. I haven't eaten or showered today, but I've used 45 minutes to track down money that should have just automatically come to me. This is my second call today. You know I have SO MUCH free time with 4 week old twins who eat 8-10 times a day and don't sleep for more than two hours at a time...

So far, my options seem to be:

1. Change the code and see if they'll pay for it.
2. Fill out a post-service out of network provider authorization and see if they'll pay for it.
3. File an appeal (if neither of those work)

Aetna has me confused if they think they're not paying this claim. I will call the better business bureau, the attorney general's office, the Hillary Clinton campaign... I will create a PR campaign against the insurance companies... I won't stop until I get my money back.

If they would just give me accurate information when I call and none of this would have happened. Why would I CHOOSE to use an out-of-network provider if I thought it wasn't going to be covered. You know living in New York and having two children, I have SO MUCH extra money for frills and thrills. Jerks.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Ways To Traumatize Offspring

I also joke (but really I'm serious) that it's the responsibility of parents to mess up their kids. It doesn't matter the type of home or situation, kids will pick up SOMETHING negative and deal with that for the rest of their lives. If they're fortunate, their health insurance will cover the therapy sessions.

Here are some examples:

- A deadbeat dad
- A father who's a pastor and has to share his family time with the congregation
- A parent who cheats on a devouted spouse
- Being extremely rich
- Being extremely poor
- A parent who can't say "I love you"
- A parent who smothers their child, making their "love" a burden

Parents are flawed people. We (ha! I said we. I'm a parent.)... We have issues and our kids will success sometimes due to our issues, sometimes in spite of our issues.

Yesterday, I realized that I'm going to be guilt trip mom. I was having a conversation with Lahna after I nursed her and she starting SCREAMING for no reason.

"What's the problem? You're diaper's dry. You just finished eating. What did I do to make you start crying like this? I fed you. I changed you. I clothed you. I provided for you. I! GAVE! YOU! LIFE! and this is how you repay me? This screaming? These unnecessary outbursts? This is what we're doing right now?"

It was clearly an unproductive conversation as she gives zero damns about being reasonable at this juncture in her short life.

But I was laughing and how quickly I took the cries of a 3-week old personally.

I wonder how old they'll be before they ignore my guilt trips or tune me out (the way so many of us tune out the flaws/issues of our own parents). Or how many therapy sessions it'll take for her to recognize this in me and work on not taking it personally herself.

Whatever. At least she's not hungry.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Illinois Has Some SERIOUS Issues

I eventually want to move home. Living in New York with two kids and no family doesn't seem like a plan for long term success. Howsoever, Illinois has some SERIOUS issues that I need to consider before I make that move home. We might have to pick somewhere Chicago adjacent (or at least with good Southwest "Wanna Get Away" fares. That way folks can visit on the weekends, but my family can escape the #realissues. Here are some things that are disturbing me about Illinois and Chicago as a whole.


10. Broken budget - Illinois does not pay their bills. This is nothing new. When I've worked with nonprofits, if they had a grant from Illinois, it might have gotten paid, might not have. But NOW with Bruce Rauner as the governor, it's become PRACTICE to not

9. Cutting social services - I know programming for AIDS/HIV support have been cut since Bruce Rauner got in office.I know because this is a cause I care about. I'm sure lots of other social services have been cut, too. It's a mess.

8. Charging for prison stays - If someone who used to be incarcerated gets a windfall of money (a settlement of any kind), then Illinois sues them for room and board. I could write a whole post on this, but if convicted felons can't find jobs and can't even keep money they win in settlements, then how can they STAY out of prison. People need to be able to make an honest living.

7. Cutting higher education funding - Now, democratic governors have done this, so I expected any republican to come in and spend big bucks on education. Not so. Bruce Rauner, not ONLY cut funding to schools directly, but he cut grants and asked for the money back from students who got them. No way that's legal.

6. Chicago State Layoffs - Did they really lay off 300 staff (1/3 of the staff) at Chicago State? Can we have ANYTHING?

5. Corrupt Government - Our last 3 governors have been to prison for corruption. What kind of foundation is laid for excellence in this state?

4. Cost of living - A friend looking for a house (you know backyard, basement, 2 stories) commented that "If it's in a safe neighborhood, it's too expensive. If it's affordable, it's not safe." This is a real issue as I need to consider my kids playing in the streets and school districts, etc. I'm sure the suburbs aren't much better.   

3. The traffic - My mom lives off of 290... the Eisenhower. She's clearly the most important person we would be visiting. Who wants to take that expressway ever? No one. It's the pits.

2. The cold - Seriously. When you find out that you don't have to have 9 months of winter, your living prospects are SO much better. Maybe I'll just move to Arizona or Texas and have more space for family to visit.


1. The violence - [A high school classmate noted and rightfully so that] violence is ingrained in Chicago culture. It's not just this urban violence we see on CNN. The very NATURE of the city is built on crooks, liars, organized crime and ice cold killers. People have manners because they are afraid of getting killed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Harlem Problems

Location. Location. Location.

I love living in Harlem, NY, but there are some real issues with being trap adjacent. Or living in the renovated apartment of a building that likely used to be the projects. And/or being a member of the gentrifying class of folks to a neighborhood formerly known as the trap.

Stores in these areas are lacking and everyone does not deliver to these parts.

Here's a list of things I cannot get at my address:

  • Pizza Hut (Domino's comes by here though)
  • Uber Eats (so sad)
  • Via (A low-cost Uber. They don't go above 110th. Travesty)

Here's a list of things that I cannot find in my neighborhood:
  • Fully stocked pharmacies... now a story.

While I was pregnant, I had to purchase a blood pressure monitor for gestational hypertension to make sure it wasn't preeclampsia. I sent my boyfriend to the CVS on 125th, they don't carry them. They sent him to a surgical supply store in the area, they don't carry them.

I called Duane Reade on 145th, they don't carry them. I finally order one from Harlem Pharmacy and Surgicals and they never call me to tell me if it arrived or not.

I go back to the doctor and tell him I ordered it and he scolds me and says EVERY PHARMACY HAS IT. So I go to the pharmacy across the street from the hospital... midtown, Columbus Circle/Hell's Kitchen area, full shelf of blood pressure monitors.

Someone explain to me how African-Americans can have the highest incidence of high blood pressure, but when I look for a high blood pressure monitor in my black neighborhood, I can't find any. I'm tripping over soul food restaurants up here though.

Pisses me off.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Big Sis Wisdom

I think I posted about this already. I can't remember. Sorry, if you're reading it twice.

My big sister told me I would miss being pregnant. YOU A LIE! She said when you're pregnant, the babies are yours. You don't really have to share them with anyone. But then when you have them, they belong to the world. Everyone can see them and hold them and touch them and be with them.

It's true about not wanting to share. (I don't miss being pregnant though.)

- My mom sends pics of the girls to her friends and I'm upset that she has pics of them that I don't. I'm also [fake] upset that her friends have access to my children. Like, no.
- When people see the double stroller and get googly eyed. They can't help but to stop and stare at the babies. "I" like to put a cover over their faces. 1) to prevent colic, but 2) because it's no one's business what my kids look like. Their father, however, is like *Mufasa voice* REMOVE THE COVERS! He loves showing these little pretty girls off. (They look just like him. I wouldn't know they were mine except I SAW them come out).
- Sometimes when people hold them, I get a bit like, is this ok. Should other people be holding my baby... unless I'm tired, in which case TAKE THEM PLEASE, mama needs rest.

And then they've been real to me since the moment I found out I was pregnant. It's like they just began to exist for everyone else on April 12. That's kind of weird, too. They're 8 months older to me that they look.

And now I have to share.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Technology: Mommy Help or Hindrance?

I'm not sure if our moms had it easier or harder when it comes to raising us WITHOUT technology.

On the one hand, I have the following:

- Unlimited ideas for showers, nurseries, pre- and postpartum tips via Pinterest and the interwebs
- Online support groups for everything from twin moms to breastfeeding to swapping out baby goods
- Camera phones - I can capture every moment
- Online shopping, grocery delivery, food delivery, laundry pick-up, all of the things that make life with two babies a bit more convenient.
- My phone to keep me company during late night feedings. The girls can nurse up to an hour each and if they're not too squirmy, I surf Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, watch Hulu and listen to podcasts during that time.

On the other hand, I have the following:
- A constant buzzing on my phone from well wishers. This is a blessing (please don't stop checking on me, I need you all), but it requires me to respond. I wonder if my mom had to call as many people as I have to text and or email about our health and wellbeing.
- Camera phones - Everyone feels entitled to photos. I'm not ready to post anything to social media and I don't feel obligated to. I think everyone's just doing what's normal for others and expect you to fall in line. No one would even know what falling in line was if this was 1980, but in 2016 the internet has made the oversharing CRAZY!
- Online shopping, grocery delivery, food delivery, laundry pick-up - If I didn't have these things, I imagine I could delegate these responsibilities to another human and therefore get them off of my brain. Sometimes, even calling to get the laundry picked up is too much to remember.
- My phone. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing the children a disservice by multitasking while they're hanging off my breasts. I'm going to ask my mom if she read magazines or chit chatted on the phone while she was nursing us. No way she just sat their staring at our greedy faces.

I'm sure there are other things, but [mommy brain], I can't remember. What do you think is cool about parenting with technology in 2016? What could be easier if we went back old school?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

It's My Birthday!

It's all fun and games until your children steal your birth month. Not only am I in no mood to party, I'm sure every message I receive will be "Happy Birthday... and congratulations again on your twins" because my birthday is now a shared day.

My mom is still in town and has a gift for me. I'm going to attempt to take a shower today and maybe ask my boyfriend to make a special meal (he's a chef though, every time I eat, it's a special meal).

Now I see why my mom was taking so many birthday trips when we were old enough to watch ourselves. I'm looking forward to my next birthday trip in 2031 or 2032.




Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Medical Doctors...

After giving birth, one thing has become clear to me. Our healthcare system is jacked. It never occurred to me that people are M.D.s and not H.D.s. Medical doctors, not healing doctors. They can tell you what medicine will either A) make your illness feel like you don't have it or B) make it go away. They can also always tell you what they think something is, but they can never be sure. They are probably taught this in med school since our society is so litigious. It's unfortunate.

All of the health issues I've had and I decide what I tell people is wrong with me because the doctors never tell me with any certainty.

They tried to give me Percocet so many times for pain in the hospital. I'm like I just had two babies. I'm sure I'm supposed to have some level or pain. They were trying to get me to a zero. I'm like you know what, I'm straight.

Anywho you never call a doctor with a fever and they tell you "put a cold compress on your head." No, they're going to tell you to take Tylenol to bring the fever down.

I'm not mad about it, but I wonder why I didn't pay it more attention before. I guess I've never been sick before or mired down in health issues. On the one hand, I pretty much follow the system. If the doc tells me to do it, I do it. I don't want to go rogue with someone with whom I've entrusted my care.

On the other hand, I wish I had the time or courage to be one of those people who never pop pills, who look into homeopathic remedies for everything. Who hear the diagnosis and then come up with all kinds of alternative treatments and get the job done. I'm not them, yet, but after all of these hospital visits, I wish that I was.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2 Weeks Old!

My girls are two weeks old today. I teeter totter between being bluntly honest about my labor and delivery and postpartum experience and being a complete liar about it.

I've learned in the last two weeks that being completely honest MAY NOT be helpful. Rehashing the gruesome details and dealing with other people's concern about them sometimes puts me in a bad mood. On the other hand, lying about it makes me feel like I'm not setting folks up well for their own truths. Like if I tell a woman who doesn't have kids that everything is ok, then she's going to think everything will be peaches and cream when she has kids. Like I'm bamboozling her the way I've been bamboozled. I also don't waste any opportunity to tell people "this ain't that" when it comes to twins. Twin life ain't single-baby life. It's just harder, period.

I'm going to give you more details later [maybe], but here are my health issues I've had in the past two weeks (post-delivery of my babies)

At the hospital
- Stroke level high blood pressure 
- Severe preeclampsia
- Excessive blood loss (but not hemorrhaging)

At home
- Edema (based on my left leg going numb, I was advised to go to the ER for possible blood clots, thank God it wasn't that)
- Vaginal Infection (based on the pain, I thought my stitches had ruptured. Nope, just a good ol' infection, and another doctor's appointment away from my children in their first two weeks of life)
- Continued high blood pressure (they've increased my med dosage 100% to keep it at bay)
- Fibroid pain and heavy bleeding (which actually can't be treated because it would interfere with my blood pressure meds)

I also had a fever a few days ago, which was my body's way of fighting off the vaginal infection. Breastfeeding when you feel extremely hot or extremely cold is likely terrorist level torture. I wanted to explode, but babies gotta eat!

I've never been so sick in my life. Add sleep deprivation and unregulated hormones and this could seem like a never ending saga. The good news is that I felt pretty normal 2 days ago and hopefully I'll feel much better soon.

The girls are the picture of health.