Tuesday, September 18, 2012

...Making Food From Scratch

I love food.  And it loves me.  So much so that it sticks around in places that I don't want it to (read:  hips, thighs, stomach).  I enjoy making the food almost as much as I enjoy eating it.  So I figured that making baby food for the twins would be a logical move for me.  I wasn't thinking about the cost at first, but let me just say that the savings are worth every minute I spend making baby food!

First, here's the basic method:  Clean, quarter, steam, puree, cool, freeze.  The whole process works for most fruits and vegetables, and generally takes less that an hour.  If you really need a more specific recipe, here's the one for apples:

5 sweet firm apples (Gala, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp), cleaned and quartered (skins on)

Step 1:  Place steamer basket into a pot with 1 inch of water (or use steamer if you have one)
Step 2:  Place apples in steamer basket
Step 3:  Turn heat on high, cover pot and steam apples until soft (anywhere from 15-30 minutes)
Step 4:  Turn off heat, transfer apples to a bowl and cool to the point that you can touch them
Step 5:  Remove skins (they should peel right off) and place in blender
Step 6:  Puree apples, adding some of the steaming liquid, breast milk, or formula to thin the puree as needed
Step 7:  Transfer puree into an air-tight container to keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze in an ice cube tray (each well is 1 ounce) for up to 3 months.

You can substitute pears, carrots, butternut squash, peas, zucchini, or pretty much anything else that you want for the apples and do the exact same process.  A word of warning:  the peas came out much more concentrated than everything else, so I thin those out with some formula when I feed them to the twins.  The zucchini was very watery, so I mix that with rice cereal to get a consistency that stays on the spoon.

Some vegetables require a little more time.  For beets and yams/sweet potatoes clean the vegetable (leave the skins on), prick with holes, and roast at 350 degrees for an hour or until soft.  You could do this with the carrots and squash too.  Roasting sweetens the vegetables slightly. 

I haven't attempted to puree my own meat.  The thought of making "meat paste" doesn't really appeal to me, so I'm using jarred food until the kids can eat the same food that I make for dinner. (Based on how fast the teeth are coming in, I don't think I'll have to endure this cost for too long!)  However, Momtastic's Wholesome baby Food site has some basic recipes for purees if you're interested.  (http://wholesomebabyfood.momtastic.com/MeatRecipes.htm)

Happy puree-ing!!!

RMH 9/18/12

Thursday, July 5, 2012

...Momma Said There'd Be Days Like This...

I don't want to give the wrong impression about having twins. It's freaking hard. But Neil and Lizzie are pretty easy-going babies and for that I say, "Thank you, Jesus!" However, we've had our moments over the last few months. Here's an email (edited to delete some profanity that slipped out in my moment of stress and now including a few details that I was too frazzled to email at the time) that I sent to Scott about one of those moments. I hope you find the humor in it like we did...once it was over!

So, I start feeding Lizzie and Neil flips out on me big time. So I put Lizzie in a bouncer, grab Neil, and feed him on my lap while I feed her in the bouncer. Lizzie gets disinterested in eating so I stop feeding her and concentrate on Neil who starts slowing down and falling asleep. I decide to switch their spots to see if Lizzie wants more to eat. Nope! She poops all over my leg. I have to grab her, hold my pant leg to keep the poo-glob from falling on the rug, and get upstairs. Once there, I take off my poo pants and change Lizzie without any pants on! I get her cleaned up, she's laughing at me by now of course, get my leg cleaned up and start taking the laundry to the basement...completely forgetting that I don't have any pants on until I hit the kitchen! I run back upstairs and put pants on, then run back downstairs to get laundry started. So, now I have a second load of laundry going and both babies are mad at me because their feeding time was hectic! It's only 12:30!!!

RMH 7/10/12

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

..."That Was Easy."

One of the questions that you get asked repeatedly when you tell people that you're pregnant with multiples or that you have multiples is, "When did you find out?"  Since I've been writing about having the twins I may as well write about finding out that we were pregnant with twins.  Cue the cheesy blurring effects....we're going back in time.

(...Eleven months earlier...)

I never liked the phrase "We're trying" when it comes to pregnancy.  To me it always seemed like you were announcing to everyone that you and your partner are having sex like bunnies. What if I need to call you?  I don't want to interrupt you while "you're trying."  Ick! I'm kidding, but I really am not fond of the phrase.  I think I was successful in avoiding it.  My brother and sister-in-law like the phrase "Pull the goalie."  I'll stick with that one.  We pulled the goalie and hoped for the best.

That July we went to Galveston with Scott's family for vacation.  I knew that there was a possibility of scoring an empty netter (to stick with the hockey theme, I guess.) so I brought an early detection test with me.  It was positive.  Scott was still asleep because it was early in the morning.  Gotta use that "strong pee," right?  (Eew.  No one wants to think of their pee as being strong.)  I woke him up to tell him the good news.  His response?  "That was easy."  The he promptly rolled over and went back to sleep.  I, on the other hand, was wide awake.

Telling our families that I was pregnant was fun.  We both started reading about pregnancy online and started to think about registry items.  We even started to plan out the nursery.  Then, about six weeks in, I started to spot.  Half of what I read online was, "Oh, it's fine.  Most women spot."  The other half was, "FREAK OUT AND GET TO THE DOCTOR!"  I went right down the middle and calmly called the doctor.  He said to come in to the office.  That's when I started to get nervous.

My doctor asked what was wrong, and did a brief exam.  He then asked me if I wanted to get an ultrasound done.  Thinking that I had the option, I said no.  I wanted Scott to be there for the first ultrasound, and he was stuck at work.  My doctor clarified by telling me that I really had no choice and what he should have asked me was when could I get to the hospital for the ultrasound.  Crap.  Now I'm really nervous.

I called Scott to tell him what was happening.  I then called my mom and asked her to meet me there.  We walked into the ultrasound room and I got on the table.  By the way, nothing says Mother-Daughter Bonding Moment like having a transvaginal ultrasound...especially when the tech asks you to insert the wand.  The tech started looking around and we saw two dark spots.  She laughed and said that everything was fine.  She then proceeded to tell me that there were two babies.  This is where accounts of the next few minutes differ.

My mom's version:
Tech:  Everything is fine.  There are two sacs.  Here's Baby A and here's Baby B.
Me:  WHAT????????????
Mom:  YES!!!  Haha! 
Tech:  You're having twins.  Let's look closer.
Me:  Are you sure there's only two?
Tech:  You're not going to throw up are you?  I had someone do that last week.
Me:   Holy shit.  Twins?

My version:
Tech:  Everything is fine.  There are two sacs.  Here's Baby A and here's Baby B.
Me:  WHAT?????????????
Mom:  (insert manic laughter)
Tech:  You're having twins.  Let's look closer.
Me:  Omigodomigodomigod.  Seriously?
Tech:  You're not going to throw up are you?  I had someone do that last week.
Mom:  (insert even more manic laughter and a comment about a sweet potato)
Me:  (insert nervous laughter)  Scott's going to lose his mind.

So after seeing both sacs, two little heartbeats, and being told that they would be fraternal twins I was able to get dressed.  The tech printed me out my first pictures of the babies and we were able to leave.  I was shaking.  Now I had to tell Scott.  "That was easy," he had originally said.  He'll never live those words down.

During the whole ultrasound Scott had been sending text messages to my mom trying to find out if everything was okay.  She wasn't responding because we were both staring at two babies on a screen.  As we walked out she told me to call Scott.  Quick decision:  tell him now or make him wait?  If I tell him now he's going to flip out at work.  If I say everything's fine and try to wait he'll know that something is up and pester me.  So I told him.

"Everything is fine," I said.  "But, well, uh...we're having twins."  Dead silence.  Then he said,"Stop it.  Your mother put you up to that.  She's with you, and is screwing around."  I told him that we weren't messing with him and that it was true.  I even had photographic evidence.  He asked me if I was serious.  I said yes.  He said he had to get back to work.  I asked him if he was okay.  We were both trying to remain calm.  Whoever made that famous quote about the best laid plans is a jerk.

When Scott was done working he called to say that he was coming out to my parents' place.  He then called his dad, who was in Rotterdam.  According to Scott the conversation went like this:
Scott:  Dad, Becky's pregnant with twins.
Scott's Dad:  (insert 45 minutes of laughter while Scott tries not to panic)

We obviously botlh calmed down, but we definitely had a hard time wrapping our heads around what was happening to us. The 19 week ultrasound was great, and helped us both feel better about everything.  We saw both babies moving around.  At that point they could show both of them in one shot.  That was the last time it would happen!

One of Scott's co-workers gave him an idea to reveal the genders of the babies.  We would have two cakes made, and the inside icing would be dyed according to the gender of each baby.  The outside would be done in neutral colors so that when we cut into the cakes everyone would find out at once.  That meant that we had to wait to find out with everyone else.

We took the idea to the bakery.  As we were describing what we wanted the baker said, "Oh!  You want sex cakes!"  Naturally I burst out laughing, thinking of how silly the term sex cake sounded.  Since Scott's family was going to be in town for Thanksgiving we planned a little party for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I was pretty sure that this was going to be the most highly anticipated cake cutting in the history of the world.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

...The Great Balancing Act Part 1

Going back to work after the birth of any child is difficult for a mother...at least that's what they say on the Internet! My thought is that the level of difficulty depends on the mother and her individual situation. For me, going back wasn't hard, but the timing could have been better. I would be back for the last six weeks of school and I was walking right into spring concert season, which meant three weeks of after school rehearsals and evening performances.

I think that the fact that the twins were in the hospital for so long made it easier for me to go back to work. I had no choice but to get used to leaving them in the NICU every day. Going to work was a piece of cake, emotionally speaking. The work load was nuts, and I had stuff to submit from when I was out, but I had all of the paperwork under control within a week.

Now I just had to get through the 16 hour days that were performance days while taking care of the twins. Naturally, they both decided to start sleeping through the night the week AFTER my concerts were done!

RMH 7/5/12

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

...House Arrest.

Before we left the NICU, we were advised by our doctor to keep Neil and Elizabeth out of crowds for the immediate future.  That meant no large family functions, no taking them to church, and no shopping trips.  Essentially, we were under house arrest.  I only left the house when we were taking the babies to a doctor appointment.

I thought that this was going to be the point where I would go stir-crazy and lose my mind.  It never happened.  I gave myself a very small To Do list every day to keep myself moving.  The list consisted of getting a shower, making the bed, making sure that I ate something, and doing one load of laundry.  That was it.  There were no time constraints other than to have everything done before Scott got home at 6:00.

I didn't stress out about cleaning the house during the day, I planned on dinners that were easy to make, and I wasn't too hard on myself if one of my list items didn't get done.  Surprisingly, there was only one day where I didn't make it into the shower, and two days where the bed didn't get made.  That was it.

What did I do then?  EVERYTHING!  Fed the babies, changed diapers, held them, changed diapers, bathed them, fed them, changed them, changed them, fed them.  I'm pretty sure we go through a metric ton of diapers each week.  When the babies were sleeping I was working on my To Do list.  The only time that things would get stressful at first would be on days where I was trying to get everything done by a specific time...basically, any day that involved a doctor appointment.

And, boy, were there appointments!!!  Well visits occurred each week at first.  Their doctor recommended appointments with a cardiologist to check for heart murmurs and with a radiologist to have ultrasounds done on their hips due to the fact that they were both breech.  I had my six week follow up appointment with my OB/GYN.  Since the babies were in the NICU, we qualified for free developmental screenings, which meant another appointment (thankfully, those ones are at home).  Then we had the actual cardiologist and radiologist appointments, and finally a (yet to be scheduled) orthopedic appointment.

The first tricky thing about appointments is getting two appointment times back to back in a short amount of time.  I realized this when I was pregnant and would need to schedule an ultrasound.  The last thing I wanted to do was wait an hour between appointments.  The more time I had to schedule an appointment, the easier it was to get two time slots.

The second tricky thing about appointments was figuring out who was going to go with me.  Scott was able to do a few, and so was my mom.  Without a second pair of arms we wouldn't had been able to go anywhere!

The third tricky thing about appointments was stroller negotiation.  Scott's family was wonderful enough to buy us the BOB Revolution Dualie stroller.  It's a side-by-side jogging stroller.  Translation?  Awesome, freaking huge, and easy to maneuver, unless you need to fit it through a standard door.  Then you're SOL.  So, how was I going to get the babies into the offices for their appointments?  That's where the second person came in handy.  We carried them.  My mom was given a double stroller (front to back style) and we tried that for my six week follow up, but it was in the way.  As long as both adults were going to be available for the whole appointment, we just carried them in.

Finally, there was the diaper bag.  I'm not an overly paranoid person, but I am certain of the fact that if I don't pack enough stuff for Neil and Elizabeth both of them will have a huge diaper blow out, and I will be stuck with two poopy (and miserable) babies.  That being said, I'd take six diapers, a travel container of wipes, a travel kit with diaper cream, shampoo, lotion, and powder, two onesies, a bag of basic medical supplies, burp cloths/bibs, and hand sanitizer to an appointment that was going to result in a trip that would be no longer than two hours.  If we were going to be gone longer I'd pack more diapers and onesies and add bottles.  Needless to say, my diaper bag is a small duffle bag.

We may not have gone out to do anything super exciting, but I think we all handled trips well.  Thank goodness Neil an Elizabeth like riding in the car!  Although house arrest has officially been lifted, we are still avoiding large crowds for the time being...just to be safe.


Monday, April 2, 2012

...Our NICU Experience.

The first time I saw Neil and Elizabeth was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at West Penn. They were born at 11:48 and 11:49, but I didn't get to see them until after 4:00. I was wheeled (in my recovery bed) into the NICU and "driven" up to each of the babies' isolettes. Since the nursing staff tries to split the work load of the babies coming into the NICU in a fair manner Neil and Elizabeth were in different pods. I remember thinking that the pods were like bing on a spaceship of some kind. I couldn't move a lot, so I wasn't able to touch either of them. That was hard.

Neil was on a CPAP an Elizabeth was using a nasal cannula to help them breathe. I thought that Neil looked like M
r. Magoo in old fashioned scuba gear. I was told that both babies had been given a corticosteroid to help their lungs, and that both babies were stable. Im sure they told me other stuff, but I was so out of it that all I heard was that they were okay.

I know a few people who's babies ended up in the NICU at West Penn, and they all told me how wonderful the staff were. It's true. I had no clue how long our stay was going to be (it turned out to be 21 days in the NICU and 8 days in the Pediatric Unit), but I knew t
hat my babies were being cared for in an amazing way.

At first I had no clue what to do, what to say, where to stand...anything! I felt like I was at a museum. Was I allowed to open the isolette to touch my child? Was I allowed to talk in the room? Was I interrupting something that the nurse needed to do? Did I just make that alarm go off??? (Half of the time, yes! There were so many things at
tached to them at first that any time you moved them an alarm went off.) I was uncertain of everything. I quickly got to see how things worked and became more confident. By the time we left the NICU I was a pro! I even had a routine for how my visit would go.

During Neil and Elizabeth's stay I had to learn a lot about premature babies, and fast! The first thing was getting a handle on all of the terms that they used. I was so overwhelmed that when they told me that both babies were on "room air" I thought the nurse w
as talking about a form of medication. I googled Rumair. Oops! A's and B's? Apneas and Bradycardias. I had to google that a few times because I just couldn't remember which was which. Pulse/Ox? Desat? UGH! It wasn't until about 15 days into their stay that I realized that West Penn's NICU webpage had most of the terms an
d procedures listed on there for parents. Thank goodness!

During their stay the babies had to contend with feeding tubes, heart monitors, pulse monitors, oxygen monitors, CPAPs, nasal cannulas, Elizabeth being the Blue Light Special for a day or two (she was slightly jaundiced), brain ultrasounds, and Neil being poked every day because his IVs wouldn't stay in.

Elizabeth would improve to the point
where she didn't need something anymore and a few days later Neil would get frustrated and rip a similar device off of himself! For example, Elizabeth was able to have her nasal cannula removed. Two days later Neil had enough of the CPAP and ripped the thing off of his face! Elizabeth was doing so well with bottle feedings that they removed her feeding tube. Again, two days later Neil said, "Enough!" and ripped his tube out. At that point they were both in the same pod, but weren't n
ext to each other. Even though, it seemed like they both knew what the other was doing and were racing each other to see who would get out first!

On day 21 Nurse Carol told me that she had great news for me...the babies were being moved downstairs! I had no clue what this meant. She explained that it was the first step towards getting the babies home. They were leaving the NICU and going to the Pediatric Unit. They were going to be in cribs in the same room. They would only be atta
ched to the monitors, and I could even sleep in the room and stay with them 24 ours a day if I wanted to! Holy crap!!! I didn't know what to do. All of these questions came to mind, but I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't get any of them out. All I was able to manage was, "What do I need to do?" Nurse Carol took me downstairs to tour the Peds Unit. I saw the room that they would be in. They gave me the coveted passcode to get into the unit. Neil and Elizabeth were going to be
moved down to their new room in the evening.

We went back upstairs and I was preparing to spend some time with each baby for their feeding. As I was getting ready Nurse Carol asked me if I'd like to be on the news. WHAT??? As it turned out, one of the local news stations was doing a piece on West Penn's NICU. They wanted to get some shots of parents and babies that were there and doing well. I just so happened to be the only parent there, so was I interested in having the kids be on TV? Sure! When they brought the doctor that
was being interviewed into our pod I laughed! It was Dr. Miranda, the doctor that delivered Neil and Elizabeth. She recognized me immediately, and started laughing. She gave me a big hug. I introduced her to Neil and Elizabeth. She held each of them, and kissed them, saying how wonderful they looked. Naturally, I agreed! The news crew told me that the piece would air at some point in April. Again, I was so overwhelmed that I don't even remember which news station
it was! I hope someone from the NICU calls me. They said that they would!

That night we moved down to Peds. We had our own room, a TV, and a private bathroom. Unfortunately the only thing to sleep on was a chair that pulled out into a small bed. Scott and I stayed for one night, but it was so stressful that neither of us really slept. Instead, I would go to the hospital during the day and go home around the time that Scott was done working. that way I could still sleep, but spend a
large part of the day with the babies.

The babies moved to the Peds Unit on a Thursday. After the weekend was over we started getting hints that the babies were going to be coming home. By Tuesday their doctor told me that, barring any major setbacks, they would be coming home by Friday! We kept it a secret, because we didn't want to get anyone's hopes up...especially our own. We were getting excited, and nervous. The nursery wasn't done!
We only had one crib. Crap! Luckily we had two rocker sleepers, just in case.

On Friday morning I called the Peds Unit to see how they were doing. I was told that they had a great night completely off of the monitors and that they were coming home today. Scott called off of work, and we headed to the hospital to get our children, who were officially one month old.

We were going home.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

...The Henderson Twins (birth day)

On February 9, 2012 Neil McKinley and Elizabeth Rose came into the world. What a whirlwind of a day...

There are 24 hours in a day. Why did my water have to break during the only 8 hours that I'm not at home? As memorable as the day was for me I know that my 8th grade chorus won't forget it!!!

We were rehearsing a piece for their spring concert. I was working with the soprano section, and they were doing a great job! In the middle of their rehearsal my water broke. Luckily, I was sitting at the piano so they couldn't see anything. I calmly told them that they sounded great, and asked them to put their music away. I sent one student to get the nurse and had the rest take out their books to read silently.

Once the nurse arrived things began to move so fast! The students were taken to another classroom, an ambulance was called, I called Scott, they put me on a stretcher (the process of which caused the second amniotic sac to break), and the paramedics headed to St. Clair hospital.

I got in touch with my doctor, and he told me to go to West Penn Hospital instead of St. Clair. I immediately called Scott to tell him what was happening. The poor guy was already at St. Clair, and had to leave.

While he was playing musical hospitals I was being poked and prodded and prepped for surgery. Both babies were breech so a C-section was inevitable. Luckily, Scott made it to West Penn in time. He helped me with paperwork (writing in the middle of a contraction is NOT easy!) and got changed into his scrubs. They took me into the operating room, gave me my spinal, and brought Scott in.

At some point before the surgery Elizabeth's heart rate dropped. As fast as things were going they sped up even more and I lost track of all time. At least the pain was gone! They began the C-section. Neil was delivered at 11:48 am and Elizabeth was delivered at 11:49 am...eight weeks early.

Because they were early both babies were given a corticosteroid to help their lungs and they were whisked off to the NICU. I didn't get to see them until 4:00. They were in their isolettes in separate rooms. Neil was on a CPAP machine. Elizabeth had a nasal cannula on. It was the first day of our NICU experience.

Before we get into that here are the stats: Neil McKinley Henderson 4 pounds 4 ounces 18 inches long. Elizabeth Rose Henderson 4 pounds 5 ounces 17 1/2 inches long.