Saturday, April 26, 2014

Where Have I Been: Part 3- Holy $#%& I Have Preemie Infant Twins and a Three Year Old

The babies were born on September 12, 2013.  The neonatologists told us to expect a four or five week stay.  Instead, they came home a week and a half later!  I could barely walk from the c-section and had difficulty getting up and down a flight of stairs due to 14 weeks of bedrest!  How was I going to take care of three kids?!  I was basically attached to the breast pump all day (I did the math, five hours of pumping A DAY) and I didn't want to take any painkillers even though I was recovering from both a vaginal and c-section delivery so it was a difficult transition.  But you know what?  The babies were healthy.  I was at home with my family and NOT on bedrest.  We had survived a hellish ordeal and came out the other end with the most wonderful outcome possible.  We were overwhelmed, but happy.
We started to adapt to our new life.  My daughter fell in love with her "baby tinies" and we tried to settle in to our new normal.

The twins are seven months old now and those first days at home seem like many years ago- I remember them through a strange haze- even at the time I felt foggy and fuzzy, almost like I was underwater.  Sleep deprivation will do funny things to you!  I did not breast feed them, I pumped exclusively for three months, which was an enormous struggle for me, and was elated to return the pump, vowing NEVER to look at one again.  Why didn't I breast feed?  I say this 100% without guilt- because I didn't really feel like it.  Yup.  I just didn't want to.  I had nursed my older for six months and it sucked ballz.  I did not enjoy it.  I pumped at work which was torture, it hurt, I had issues with production, I never felt like my daughter was getting enough, and I basically hated it and stressed about it constantly.  I nursed the littles sometimes, when I thought it would be more convenient or better for them or whatever, but it was just too much.  I still had issues with production despite trying EVERYTHING and I mean everything, finally resorting to ordering Domperidone from freaking New Zealand.  It did nothing to boost my supply and I was thrilled to start weaning in November.  Between pumping (which I had to do no matter where I was, every three hours) feeding, changing, and dealing with my toddler, it was just a lot.  My husband was back at work, my daughter was in school half a day three days a week, I still had a freelance gig despite being on maternity leave from my real job... and I was trying to get my head and body back after having been through a traumatic experience.  I was recovering from a lot.

Friends and family helped, knowing I was going back to a job I loved helped too.  We spent Thanksgiving in Chicago with my family and made plans to take a belated trip to Quebec over Christmas break.  These things gave me strength and perspective, and slowly we made it through the newborn phase, relatively unscathed.  I struggled through many trying, desperate times.  I cried a few times in frustration and isolation.  But the babies thrived, my daughter was elated beyond words to be a big sister, and my husband and I were eternally grateful for our good fortune.  It's easy to type these words now, the twins have just started sleeping through the night and after over six months of only a few hours of sleep here and there, we are getting back to a more normal nighttime routine.  Well, whatever you can call normal with three kids under four anyways.

It has not been easy.  We are frustrated and have incredibly short fuses.  My three year old tests my patience and challenges me constantly to remain calm and stay in control.  My younger daughter has been a terrible eater from day one and will not take a bottle from anyone but me or the nanny (thank goodness) and eats only a teeny little bit- so she is only about 12 lbs give or take at 7 months!  But she's a darling little sweetie pie and smart as a whip and an absolute joy.  My son, my big boy, my little daredevil, is always making noise, either giggling or cooing or screaming for attention.  A big wet kiss from him is melt-worthy.

Okeedoke.  So that's that.  That is my life in a nutshell.  I giddily went back to work in December and thank the lord I was able to do so.  God knows I am certainly not working for the money- since I pretty much give my whole salary to the nanny or to preschool!  But it's worth it, and it works for me and my family.  I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom- but I am home two days a week which to me is plenty.

So finally- yes, this is a FOOD blog, I know.  Talk about food how 'bout then!?!?!  Geez.

I am now 100% paleo.  I do not eat dairy (however I use organic heavy cream in my coffee and Kerrygold butter)  and to top it off I have new allergies and intolerances since giving birth.  I can no longer eat most nuts and that has been a challenge.  So baking has not really been at the top of my list- but when I occasionally do it is with coconut flour or using sunbutter.  Meal-wise- I keep it SUPER simple.  Gone are the days of elaborate meals with lengthy ingredient lists and preparation.  Most nights, if I'm not throwing a kitchen sink salad together, it's roasted protein of some kind and roasted veggies.  I set the oven at 425- put in a tray of meat, a tray of veggies, and dinner is ready about 25 minutes later.

I also have become a pretty big believer in intermittent fasting.  I have done it loosely for a long time, just because I don't like breakfast, so I am just a bit firmer now.  I have a six hour eating window, so about 1pm to 7pm, and I fast about two days a week.  I don't plan on doing this forever.  But I do believe that for now, it is working.  I believe that when you are fasting, your body can spend energy and resources on healing and detoxifying rather than digesting.  Fasting lowers blood sugar and your body learns to use fat for energy instead of glucose.  My blood sugars have been stellar and I am able, as a type 1 diabetic, to live without ANY diabetes drugs of any kind.  Will I always be able to live without insulin?  I don't know.  Maybe.  But every year I go not dependent on insulin is a win in my book.

I gained 26 lbs with this pregnancy.  That doesn't sound like much, and indeed I wish it had been more so those babies could have fattened up a bit more before they arrived, but you have to remember that I lost a TON of muscle.  Bouncing back, while not half as bad as many women have it I fully admit, has still not been as easy as I thought it would be.  After my first I was less than my pre-pregnancy weight at my 6-week post-partum appointment.  The weight fell off and then some from breastfeeding and I assumed it would be the same this time around!  Nope.

I have a very full schedule and I do not have the luxury of hiring a sitter everytime I want to take a fitness class.  Luckily I have a treadmill and now that the weather is improving I can plan on a 40 to 60 minute walk everyday, provided I get up at 5am to do it!  But for me, exercise is both therapy and medicine, and I can tell my mood is shit on the days I don't get myself moving.  I am happier and more energetic if I exercise every day.

I am working on cutting myself some slack in the body image department.  It's been tough.  I had become used to seeing myself a certain way.  I have to remind myself, multiple times a day, that I have the rest of my life to sculpt and define my body just so, but only a very short time to enjoy these delicious little babies who are completely and 100% dependent on me for every single thing.  Soon they'll be entertaining themselves and running around wreaking havoc on the place and not waking up at 5am for a bottle and I can head back to my nutty high-intensity workout classes with all the other sado-masochist moms out there.  I remind myself, multiple times a day, that I am 31 years old (today!) and I am soooo fortunate that I don't have years of child-bearing ahead of me and can instead just focus on my health!  Does that help when I still can't fit into my skinny jeans or have to think about getting into a swimsuit?  Maybe not.  But damnit!  I'm going to do my best to not give a shit.

So here I am!  I survived the absolute worst, saddest, loneliest, summer of my life, followed by the worst, hardest, loneliest and most overwhelmed winter of my life- stuck in the house with babies who I couldn't risk exposing to RSV or other illnesses, and am now in spring with a fabulous and exciting summer to look forward to, full of pool days, a trip to Wisconsin, a lighter summer workload, and lots and lots of fun family time.

So finally, what do I want for this blog?  I have really missed writing it, and want it to resume being an outlet for me.  Is it going to be mostly recipes like before?  Probably not.  Roasted broccoli and fish, not the most exciting to readers I am going to guess.  I don't have a lot of sexy cake/muffin/cookie recipes up my sleeve because if I can't eat them I'm not going to make them.  And I realized I am just not into alternative sweeteners.  They don't taste good, and besides stevia they are just junk junk junk, with a capital J.  I just use maple syrup most times since it's not for me anyways, and a bit here and there won't hurt me.  For a sweet treat I usually make a coconut cream fudge with chocolate stevia drops or just eat a few squares of 77% or higher dark chocolate.  My weaknesses are salty things anyways.  What I want for this blog is to talk about my life as a (paleo) grainfree, type 1 diabetic mom of three little ones who wants to feed my family high-quality food, that is 100% gluten free, grain-free when possible for them and always grain-free for me, organic as much as possible, and as easy to prepare as can be.  I want to talk about my life and my lifestyle.  Things that interest me, like makeup, restaurants, and travel, and snippets from my daily life.  I know there are other moms out there JUST LIKE ME.  I know there are other women out there who struggled, or are struggling, to get pregnant, and need hope.  I know there are families and people out there who have diabetes, or other autoimmune issues, and want reassurance that you can feel good, thrive even, without tons of meds and medical interventions.  I know it!  That is what this blog is for.  For anyone that needs reassurance.  You can stay off meds.  You can lose weight after baby without counting calories.  You can still cook healthy and yummy food if you have three kids clawing at you.   Yes, something's gotta give and I'll explore that too and everything that means.

But GFG is back and I hope to stay awhile.  Missedyoulotsloveyoulotsmmmmkay?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Where Have I Been? Part 2: 32 Weeks with Twins and Beyond

Week 32 arrived somewhat uneventfully and I was allowed to go home and leave the hospital.  In total I spent 9 weeks on hospital bedrest, with two at home before that.  So basically the entire summer.  I did not go outside once that entire time.  In fact, the only times I even left my room were to be wheeled to another wing for ultrasounds and NSTs.

I was incredibly fortunate in that the issues with my pregnancy were specific to my cervix.  I did not have sick babies or any other ailments to contend with, and I was thankfully never in pre-term labor. What I had is called incompetent cervix, which occurs when your cervix starts to soften and dilate far too early.  We made the risky decision to have a cerclage performed, where they stitch up your cervix and hope the knot holds long enough for the kiddos to finish cooking, but we had no guarantees, as a cerclage is not recommended in twin pregnancies.  The doctor said it may work, it may not, there is no way to know.  You could also develop an infection from the surgery, or your sac could get punctured, both of which could have had calamitous consequences.  I don't wish that decision on anyone.  We were not candidates for progesterone injections, as they are not successful with multiples.  The only thing we could do was take a gamble on getting the stitches and stay horizontal (upside down in fact) as long as possible.

The long and short of it is that the cerclage worked!!  It worked incredibly well.  I am 100% positive that it was the hospital bedrest that made the difference.  Yes the stitches were totally necessary and thank god my doctor/surgeon was not only a big believer in them but one of the only doctors in my region that even performs then on twins, but bedrest is what really saved those babies.  I know it.  The nurses became my best friends.  I learned the Bravo and E! daily lineup, and thank goodness I was able to work remotely from my bed.  These things saved my sanity.  And my husband, bless his heart, made a point to come almost every single day.  On his way to work or on his way home.  We spent our five year anniversary in my hospital room, having canceled a fun trip to Quebec at the last minute.  He stayed with me all day.  It was actually one of the sweetest, most meaningful anniversaries we've spent together.  I felt truly lucky that day.

The stay was not without hiccups.  I bled heavily the entire time, which was a constant cause for concern.  I had to endure daily tests to monitor the babies which forced me into a position that was uncomfortable and left me gasping for air.  I watched as my muscles I had worked SOOOOO hard for turned to mush.  I tried to talk to my two-year-old on the phone but many times had to hang up so she wouldn't hear me sobbing.  When she visited I couldn't even sit up to hug her.  She would lay in bed with me and we'd watch a DVD or talk about her day at summer camp.  She and her daddy developed a close and special bond, he learned how to do her hair and picked out her outfits, packed her lunch and took her to camp everyday.  My parents had to take our dog to Chicago for the summer because it was just one less thing my husband had to deal with.  It was a lot.

But it worked.  I got to 28 weeks, then 30, then 32, when they finally kicked me out.  They said I'd be back to deliver any minute and I should go home and get settled mentally before they were born.  No one with twins and a cerclage had ever made it past 32 weeks, they said.  So back home I went!  I rode in a car for only the second time that summer, and enjoyed every second I spent waiting at the entrance in a wheelchair for the car to pull up.  At home I spent two more weeks on total bedrest, with my mom there to bring me food and water.  I missed my daughter's third birthday party, but we had our own celebration in my room when she got home.  At 34 weeks I was released!!  I did what any other woman in my position would do.  I got a mani/pedi and had lunch with a friend!  One week later, my little bundles came into the world, at 35 weeks.  We had never found out the sex of the babies, we were just too afraid of becoming attached.  We had a boy and a girl- my little girl was born first, naturally, and then my son, was delivered by emergency c-section half an hour later.  Yeah, don't do that.  Ha!

After ten days in the NICU they were home, and our life as a family of 5 began.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where Have I Been? Part 1: Hospital Bedrest with Twins

This post was written in June of 2013- about 10 months ago!  I will be posting parts two and three over the next few days. XoXo, GFG

So, I've been gone for a good long while.  I know I know, since February ('13!!).  Things got pretty weird in 2013, not going to lie.  What happened you ask?  Well, long story short I guess, I got pregnant with twins and had tons of food aversions, so much so that the very idea of even reading a food blog, let alone cooking, made me queasy.  Just a handful of foods have been palatable to me for the last 6 months.  I was also a nervous wreck (surprised? haha) and just too jittery and on edge to focus on much.  Cut to 22 weeks or so when I started having cervical issues and started home bed rest, then 23 weeks and an emergency cerclage, and finally here I am at 25 weeks, in the hospital where I've been for two weeks and will remain for probably the duration of my pregnancy.  It has been a bumpy ride so far, to say the least.  Nothing we can't handle, and luckily I have a sweet husband, a helpful mother-in-law, darling little girl, and an incredibly generous and thoughtful mom who will be traveling back and forth from Chicago to KC, to thank for keeping me somewhat sane.

Hospital bedrest is no joke.  I have the utmost respect for women that have to do it for their whole pregnancies.  Whatever preconceived notions you may have about it, don't.  It's not only hard on you, but your whole family, household, your friends, co-workers, everyone.  Simple things like getting yourself something to eat, going downstairs to throw in a load of laundry, putting your child to bed, these things are just gone.  Everytime you get up to pee you wonder if you're putting yourself in jeopardy.  Maybe your little one at home is too young to understand, and has nightmares and develops separation anxiety.  Maybe your family can't visit often, and you spend most of your time alone, except for the staff.

If you're lucky, you are strong and can tell yourself this is only temporary, and for what better cause?You remind yourself that you won't even remember it when it's over, and will soon be something you can barely even recall with any clarity.  You'll emerge stronger and more resilient and more adaptive and, much, much more empathetic to others.  I know I'll be grateful for this someday.

What I won't be grateful for are some of the ridiculous things people think it is actually ok to do. "Some people would kill to be on bedrest!" is a nice little gem I've gotten oh so fond of hearing.  Oh really? You'd kill to be confined to a bed your whole pregnancy?  You wouldn't rather be enjoying it, preparing yourself and your family and household for what's ahead?  Enjoying what it's like to have a small, insular three-person familial unit.  You'd kill to miss months of work, family vacations, holidays, and your five year wedding anniversary because you were recovering from a terrifying surgery and then mandatory bedrest?

How are you feeling everyone says.  Get better soon!  I'm not sick.  I'm pregnant.  I feel pregnant.  I feel pregnant and sad that I can't enjoy it.  My daughter will be three in September and I am missing three whole months of her little life.  She flits in and out of my hospital room, chattering on and on about things I have no concept of, because I haven't been around enough to know what she's talking about.  How do you respond when someone says how are you feeling?  I can't say what I want to say, which is, I feel lonely.  I feel sad.  I feel hopeless.  I feel like no one understands.  Maybe these things aren't true, but I can still feel them, even if I know deep down these feelings are just me having a pity party.  Instead I have to fake it, and say, good, great, fine, because I don't want to upset anyone, make anyone feel bad or pity me, and I don't want people to think I'm ungrateful.  I appreciate the sentiment, it's better than nothing.  Get better soon! they say.  What does that mean?

People don't know how to act, I get it.  Especially people that have never faced any kind of adversity in their life.  They just plain don't know how to react.  They are dumbfounded.  So in their dumbfoundedness they say whatever comes to mind.  A good friend leaves messages saying, "Hope you're feeling great!  Hope you're doing well and having a good day! Hope you had a great July 4th!" I appreciate the effort, I truly do.  But did you really think I had a great July 4th?  I was alone, in a hospital, knowing everyone I loved was somewhere else, without me.  I could hear fireworks going off in the distance but couldn't even sit up to try and spot them out my window.  And yes, it's one holiday. Just one.  I'll get over it.  But in this moment, I am just trying to claw my way out of this little hole I've found myself in.  I'll get out.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel.  If I can make it 9 more weeks, I'll be great.  I can do it, what's 9 weeks right?