Friday, April 6, 2012

Prematurity & things I hadn't considered

I want to start this post by saying that our boys are doing very well.  AJ is gaining weight at just the rate his pediatrician wants, and MJ is gaining even faster than that.  Neither baby has reflux or colic, both are relatively easily comforted, and they appear to be developing at an appropriate rate.

Also, we love our boys and feel so grateful to finally be parents.  Even so, having two newborns in your home is hard!  I'm not gonna lie.

When I thought of all the reasons I didn't want our boys to come early, I thought mostly of their health.  I didn't want them to have to spend time in the NICU battling health problems or to run the risk of suffering lifelong problems due to being born prematurely.

Since they have been home, I have discovered a few other downsides to having my babies prematurely which I hadn't previously considered.  I think the newborn phase is the hardest with any baby, and having preemies means that, in addition to all the other downsides, that phase lasts a lot longer.
  • My firm would not allow me extra time off for FMLA leave in view of the fact that I was on medical leave for two weeks prior to delivery (even though my leave was COMPLETELY unpaid).  Which meant that I had to return to work when the boys were 10 weeks old.  Which, because they were nearly 6 weeks premature, meant their adjusted age when I went back to work last week was only 4 weeks.
  • Trying to work full-time and take care of two 4-week-old babies in your "spare" time is really, really hard. . . much harder than taking care of two 12-week-old babies.
  • It seems like our boys have been newborns FOREVER!  This has more than one implication:
    1. My husband and I hear of some (lucky) parents whose babies are sleeping through the night, or nearly so, by 3 months of age.  Whatever age our boys might've achieved that goal, we can tack an extra 6 weeks on to that number.
    2. Although the calendar says they are 11 weeks old, they are not yet consistently smiling.  Or holding up their heads.  Or tracking objects.  Their pediatrician has assured us that this is normal, so we aren't worried; we just look forward to the time when they can do these things.
    3. Although they are no longer on a regimented, every-3-hours-around-the-clock feeding schedule, their tummies are small and they still need to eat quite frequently.  They often end up eating every 3 hours during the day and cannot usually go more than 4-5 hours at night.
I don't want to wish away our boys' babyhood.  I know this phase in their lives is brief and, because they will be our only children, that we will never get to experience it again.  It's hard when you're living through it day by day, though.


  1. That entire last paragraph, about wishing away their babyhood... I can so relate. My girls were 7 weeks early and are now 10 months (actual). They aren't crawling yet and everyone expects them to be. So many times I have wished I could fast forward about 6 months to skip this difficult "in-between" time with all the big developmental milestones. But like you, I don't want to wish away their babyhood. It can be SO hard, but I'm hopeful that after the first 12-18 months those difficulties of prematurity will fade for all of us.

  2. Hang in there! This is absolutely the hardest phase. Mine were born 4 weeks early, and it seemed like they weren't doing anything when other babies the same "age" were. If you think about it some babies are born at 42 weeks so I always thought of my boys as being six weeks behind those babies.

    I fed them every three hours and they started sleeping a seven hour stretch at 2.5 months and a 12 hour stretch at right before 4 months (not adjusted).

    Having twins is so hard during this phase, but it gets so much easier!

  3. I appreciate your honestly about this. I am currently pregnant with twins and completely scared shitless, I'll be honest!

  4. My twins were born at 38 weeks, and they didn't sleep through the night for a LOT longer than 3 months. Having two newborns is really hard, no matter how you slice it. I have to say it is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It gets easier, though, once you get into the routine of things.

  5. It DOES get easier! I can't even begin to imagine how hard is must be for you right now though - I only had one, full term baby to deal with and I didn't have to go back to work till he was 7 months old. I clearly remember how hard the newborn stage is and alternating between wondering why on earth I thought I wanted a baby in the first place (after 8 years trying and 6 losses, I REALLY wanted a baby) and huge guilt at feeling that way. I also wondered why nobody had *told* me how hard it would be! I asked my sister and best friend this question and got the reply "you wouldn't have believed us". It sounds like you are doing an amazing job - hang in there!

  6. Ugh. That sucks. I'm sorry. I got 14 weeks and that was barely enough.

    On the food thing, though, I've got a 5 month old who still nurses around the clock every 1.5-2 hrs. No kidding.

  7. I've been thinking about a lot of the same things, although my babes are only 4 weeks premature. I go from holding them wishing everything would stay exactly the same as it is now, loving how tiny and sweet our babies are to praying that they will mature some and we can stop with the exhausting eight-a-day feedings. This part is so hard. And going back to work is still 2+ months away for me but I can't imagine how it's going to work...there is so little time right now not devoted completely to babies.
    We'll get through it! :)

  8. The first three months are truly the hardest. I just cried my way through them not understanding how I didn't know how hard it was going to be and why I was feeling so awful when I had wanted this tiny baby so much.

    And then after 3 months a switch flipped and everything was so much easier. Now I have an 8 month old who STILL wakes up once a night to eat and I'm exhausted but it's still easier.

    This phase is precious (I miss the tiny baby phase) but so hard at the same time. You are not alone!!!

  9. it sounds hard! all good stuff, but hard! :) my sister has one year old twins and from what she has told me and what i have observed is it does get easier. you are doing awesome!!

  10. I'm so happy to hear your news on the arrival of your twins... congratulations :)) Sorry that I'm so far behind... newborns are hard but must be a handful having two ! I'm public again, so will be easier to find/follow now... and have had a name change... hope it's not too confusing. Thinking of you and your little ones xoxo

  11. Hang in there, babyhood is hard. That is a bummer your work would not let you stay out longer. Neither of my kids slept through the night until 8 or 9 months and I was/am working full time. It is harddddd.

  12. You are doing a great job. Remind yourself of that! I so appreciate your honesty and willingness to share your thoughts and feelings. I cannot begin to imagine what this phase is like for you, although I may realize it much more personally come August. I hope you follow some blogs of other twin moms whose kids are older. I have some wonderful blog sisters who struggled with their twins so very much during those first months, but who emerged victorious. You will too! As will your babies. I feel so sorry though that you were forced to return to work so soon. I think your firm is horrible for taking that time from you. Sending you hugs.

  13. I completely understand where you are coming with FMLA, I'm going through that battle right now. Currently, I am scheduled to go back to work 3 weeks before the doctor predicts Ella will be able to come home - and I'm not happy about it. I'm trying to get them to let me pause my leave, work, then take the rest of my leave when Ella gets home... but it's not looking good at all. FMLA is built for a "normal" delivery and in no way supports parents of premies.


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