Archive for December, 2011

Tummy time racing!

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

Back in the old days when we were little, babies slept on their tummies. You didn’t have to swaddle their arms or legs because gravity pinned them to the crib mattress, and when they were ready to try and lift their heads, they did.

Beginning in 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended positioning babies on their backs for sleep, in order to reduce the risk of accidental suffocation. The upside is fewer babies suffocate; the downside is they crawl later unless parents make a point to help them spend other time on their tummies. Hence, Tummy Time.

Though Tummy Time almost always ends in one or both babies crying, it pays dividends quickly. Over the course of a week, Sam and Cate are already better at holding their heads up and steady when they’re vertical. And in the very short term, it gets them very awake (which is good for nursing) and burns lots of energy (which is good for subsequent sleeping).

With two babies, it’s an easy leap to Tummy Time Racing ™!

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

I’m thinking we should start a racing league. It’s uncomplicated, like Nascar (no turns at all!), and we’re totally open to corporate sponsorships from companies like Seventh Generation (diapers) and Enfamil (formula).

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Our gifts came early this year, and we get to enjoy unwrapping them, feeding them, and rewrapping them over and over. Whatever your faith or belief system, I hope your winter season feels as special as ours does!

Ten weeks

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Our girls were ten weeks old on Tuesday, or five weeks past their due date. They’ve each topped ten pounds, which puts them in the 75th percentile for preemie girls and 15th percentile for all girl babies.

They’re both smiling now, which is delightful, when they’re not fussing inconsolably, which is miserable. They’re also “talking” with a host of sounds that we’re eager to decipher. We can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

That said, we’re getting extremely little sleep. Several people have tried to reassure us with the adage that one baby takes all your time and two babies can’t really take more. I actually believed that three months ago, but for future reference, it’s not true.

The average newborn often sleeps 13-15 hours in a 24-hour period. Even if yours only sleeps 12, that’s 12 hours you can put to good use. If you have two babies that each sleep 12 hours out of 24, you sometimes end up with NO hours, because one is awake when the other one I sleeping. Identical twins tend to have more compatible sleep tendencies than fraternal twins. I’m unclear how parents of triplets survive at all. In any case, I frequently get just 2 or 3 blocks of sleep that add up to 4 or 5 hours. It’s not enough, and I’m struggling for it.

Add to this that I really want to breastfeed our babies, but for every success, like nursing tandem, I have multiple setbacks, like yeast and poor latch pain. Worst of all, anemia put me behind early on when I needed to get ahead, and now I don’t make remotely enough milk to meet their needs.

  • Pumping is less painful, but also slower and less effective
  • Nursing more sustains current production, but doesn’t begin to meet their needs
  • Supplementing with formula delays their return to my breasts, signaling less need for milk
  • Not supplementing leaves them hungry and inconsolably fussy, and no time for me to recharge
  • Fussiness raises my stress level and impairs let-down
  • Napping/sleeping reduces my stress level and enables let-down, but requires consecutive blocks of time without fussy babies
    • The calculus of how to manage this situation is more than my sleep-deprived brain can handle, and leaves me anxious over every feeding.

      Several people continue to help out with a feeding here, an errand there, or the occasional meal.* We’re extremely grateful for his help! Nonetheless, we’re struggling. If any of you have a little time to share, please don’t wait for us to call you. Just call/text us when you’re available.

      The truest reassurance we’ve heard is that we’ll all live through it. I once had higher aspirations for parenting than that, but at this point, I just want relief.

      *UPDATE: I completely forgot to express our profound thanks to my cousin Mary, who came over from New Orleans to spend five whole days taking care of our babies. Mary, you rock.

Career in Transition

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

I had a long post here detailing the background of why I left Deloitte and where I/we stand in searching for a replacement position. I did so because some of you have seen on Facebook that I’ve had some interviews lately and have also expressed concern with how we are doing. Rather than leave up the long, rambling, fairly self-indulgent detailed explanation that read a little on the depressive side, let me give a more abridged account and focus on where we are at in the overall scheme of things.

Last December, I finished up an ugly, ugly project that was to secure the funding for my division’s outgoing CEO’s legacy project (nine figure funding request). As a result of that project, it became apparent that it was time to leave Deloitte, and my boss and I agreed that my next project was to find my next job, and we wound up my responsibilities over the remaining six months of the fiscal year. I had several discussions with local firms, but I seemed to be priced out of the local market outside of Oil and Gas, and to get an Oil and Gas job at my level, I needed Oil or Gas experience. In fact, this has been a recurring theme for a year and a half, since I originally started looking for a local job back in June of 2010. It was also a theme when I last left Deloitte back in 2005/6, bu t that’s a different story. Suffice it to say that I have not had good luck finding local, successful companies who can use and pay for someone with my skills.

That being said, I was a reasonably successful consultant, and I came across what was just about the perfect job description to “wash the stink” of consulting off of me back in late October, so I submitted a resume and a pithy cover letter, and thought little about it. That is, until the recruiter contacted me back a few days later. Whoa. I had spent the eight weeks prior to Robin’s second hospital admittance working for a computer manufacturer in Raleigh, NC, and they had wanted me to stay around as a contact employee, but this was my first nibble in a while in my “wheel house”: pricing and market strategy. Good stuff.

Except there was a hitch. Great role? Check. Successful company? $40 billion in revenue last year with almost a 10% net (after tax) margin. Check. Good location? Err, um, Glendale, Wisconsin. Aka suburban Milwaukee. Aka “Chicago Lite”. Hmm… If I’m going to entertain offers from outside Houston, how about looking in places where we might want to live (Austin, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Bay Area, Boston, etc.). In pretty short order, I was talking to several companies, though the fits weren’t as good as Milwaukee, and all but an opportunity in suburban Philadelphia have basically dropped off. I also contacted my boss/client in Raleigh to let him know that I was looking for full-time positions. He eventually got back to me that they were interested, and had a relatively meaty role. Somewhere in there, a couple of more local opportunities popped up, but one of them wasn’t a good fit money-wise, and the other didn’t even want to interview me (an oil company — go figure).

Having had a mostly good-to-great experience in the office interviewing in Milwaukee, I am hopeful that they’ll contact me with a good offer after the first of the year. I am also hopeful that Raleigh will follow-though and be able to give me a meaty full-time role that is comparable or better than my current consulting gig with them. However, if anyone hears of something in Houston, I’m all ears.

We now return you to cute girl pictures.

Birth announcement card rejects

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

You know those birth announcement photos? The gorgeous ones of blissfully peaceful infants? Yeah, those are really hard to get.

Sam looks dismayed

Cate says no

Sam yawns

Sam and Cate

Assuming that we have your current mailing address, our birth announcements/new year’s cards are coming soon to a mailbox near you.

p.s. Thanks to my cousin Emily for the great-looking blue blanket!


Saturday, December 10th, 2011

The day after I caught Bill flirting with Sam, I shot some nice photos of him with Cate.

Bill and Cate


Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Monday evening, we were actually on track for an “early” bedtime. We managed to eat our dinner before 8 pm for a change and were finishing up feeding the girls around 9:30 pm. Cate was yawning dramatically when we heard a decidedly squishy tell-tale sound from Sam. Bill began to change her, and it quickly became clear that yet another diaper blow-out necessitated immediate bathing. Though Cate was nearly asleep, I recommended bathing her as well. It seemed efficient at the time.

By 10:30 pm, the towels were in wash, the blue whale tub was dripping dry, and both girls were clean, dry, and dressed again. Sam’s fish mouth was suggesting that she wanted more to eat before bed when we heard a decidedly squishy tell-tale sound from Cate. I decided to go drink a glass of water before tackling her diaper, but Bill — in a moment of prescience — urged me to move Cate from my side of the bed to a waterproof changing pad before I went. Thank Fortune I did, because her onesie was soaked through by the time I came back.

This Cate appears mostly harmless…

… but she’s an instrument of poo-splosion #3 (or is it #4?)

It might be the sleep deprivation, but Bill and I laughed hysterically for a long time. And almost immediately, Bill began singing the beginnings of a new song. Time for another bath.

To the tune of Duran Duran’s “New Moon on Monday”

Two poos on Monday
and the diapers blew tonight
I could not contain it
though I tried with all my might…

Babies and bifocals

Friday, December 9th, 2011

So far, holding a sleeping baby snug against my chest is my favorite part of the parenting experience. I love the feel of their warmth under my chin, and the New Baby Smell of their hair. The first two weeks we were home, I had a constant crick in my neck from bending my head down to gaze at the tiny babies I held. Fortunately, my neck got stronger quickly!

Lois Nachamie’s book on mature parenting, So Glad We Waited!, includes a chapter titled “Barney & Bifocals.” When I read it two years ago, I was thankful I’m merely nearsighted. But two years later, I find that I have to peer under rather than through my glasses to resolve our girls’ tiny faces peering back up at me. So there may be bifocals in my near future after all. But it will be worth it.

Cate looking up at Bob

Sam looking up at Bill

New mobile blog theme and commenting!

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Until just a few months ago, I spent hours and hours on my computer most every day, and that’s where I read blogs. But that changed in October when I was hospitalized with pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension. Stuck on bedrest, I began using my iPhone to read internet sites including blogs. I’ve since learned that many of you are using mobile phones to read blogs, too.

My friend Charles (check out his fantastic Off the Kuff site) pointed me to a great WordPress plug-in (WPTouch) to make our blog site much more readable on mobile devices. Unlike some others I considered, this one is well-regarded and installed easily in minutes. If you’re reading our blog from a phone now, I hope you find the new look is an improvement!

Comments enabled!

Since we launched this blog in March 2008, we have really enjoyed having a place to journal our lives and share our news with friends and family. And as I have said before, reading your comments, answering your questions, and hearing your encouragement is often the best part.

However, commenting from mobile phones used to be a challenge, and as more of you accessed our blog that way, we heard from fewer and fewer of you. The new mobile theme will capture and hold your user ID and password, making it easy to comment on posts. With the new mobile version up and running, I hope we’ll hear from more of you. And if you have any trouble logging in, or need help setting your password, please let one of us know. Thanks!

My Day

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Our friend Rachel recently blogged about one of the incredibly busy days she’s had lately, and I was struck by how vastly different our lives are just now.

Evenings for Bill and me used to involve preparing or procuring dinner, then settling on the couch to enjoy a little telly while we ate. Then we’d clean up, perhaps spend a little time on the computer, and head to bed. In stark contrast, here’s how my day went from yesterday evening:

6:30 pm I pumped for 15 minutes to keep trying to grow my milk volumes
7:15 pm Cate woke up to take a new diaper and nurse for 20 minutes, then took a bottle of expressed breast milk and another of formula to top her off
8:00 pm Sam woke up to take a new diaper and a bottle of breast milk
9:00 pm After “napping” for 15 minutes, Cate woke up to take another ounce of formula bfeore falling asleep for 4 hours
9:00 pm After hanging out awake for an hour, Sam nursed for 20 minutes, then took two ounces of formula to top her off
9:30 pm We put Sam in a bouncy chair and then sat together in the living room in the semi-dark to eat dinner while hoping that Sam would finally succumb to sleep
10:30 pm Sam fell asleep for 3-3/4 hours
11:15 pm I pumped for 15 minutes
11:55 pm We pounced into bed to “hurry up and sleep” for 1-3/4 hours
1:45 am Cate woke up to take a new diaper, nurse for 15 minutes, and then took 3 more ounces of formula
2:15 am Sam woke up to take a new diaper, nurse for 15 minutes, and then took 2 another 2 ounces of expressed breast milk
3:00 am Sam fell asleep for 3-3/4 hours
3:15 am I ate a banana and drank a glass of milk while I pumped for 15 minutes
3:45 am Cate fell asleep for 2-1/2 hours
3:45 am I crawled back into bed to sleep 2-1/2 hours
6:15 am Cate woke up to take a new diaper and nurse for 20 minutes, then took an ounce of expressed breast milk by bottle
7:00 am Sam woke up to take a new diaper and 3 ounces of formula
7:30 am Sam fell asleep for 3-1/2 hours
7:45 am I drank some orange juice, took my iron and vitamins, and pumped for 15 minutes
8:00 am Cate fell asleep for 2 hours
8:00 am I slunk back to bed for another 2 hours
10:00 am Cate woke up to take a new diaper, nurse for 20 minutes, take 10 ml of leftover breast milk, and an ounce of formula
11:10 am Sam woke up to take a new diaper, nurse for 20 minutes, take 2 ounces of expressed breast milk, then another ounce of formula to top her off
11:15 am Cate fell asleep for 2 hours
12: 55 pm I heated an Evol egg and green chile burrito, poured a glass of milk, took a few bites/swallows, and had just started to pump when…
1:05 pm Cate woke up to take a new diaper, nurse for 10 minutes, and take 3 ounces of formula
1:30 pm Sam, still awake, took another new diaper, nursed for 15 minutes, and took 2 ounces of formula
2:00 pm Bill brought me a few bites of my now-cold breakfast burrito
2:10 pm Cate fell asleep for ___ hours
2:45 pm Sam…
2:53 pm I finished my breakfast burrito and pumped for another 15 minutes

It’s now 5:00 pm, and Cate is (blessedly) still asleep. My data claims that Sam fell asleep a little before 3 pm. And she did look extremely sleepy, with nodding head, big yawns, drooping eyelids, slowed movement… the works. But when I went to console Cate during a bout of gas-induced screaming meemies, Sam stretched, opened her eyes, and turned her head to look at me, before closing her eyes again. As I sit here typing, I continue to hear her squawk occasionally through the baby monitor. I’m not at all sure that she’s sleeping, but I know that when I go back in the room to check, she’ll wake up for sure.

To be fair, the last twelve hours have been more brutal than most. The girls are apparently fueling a growth spurt, waking up to eat every 2-3 hours when they’d been managing occasional 4-hour chunks for more than a week. Unfortunately, it’s currently a zero-sum game: more feeding them leaves less sleeping for us. I’ve been getting by on three chunks of sleep a day, taking 12 hours to eke out 8 hours of sleep, but that’s way better than the 6:15 I eked out last night.

It’s tempting to skip pumping — especially since I then have to wash my pump gear everytime I use it — but that’s the only signal that tells my boobs to make more milk. Since I aspire to breast feed exclusively and quit having to fuss with formula. bottles, or pumping, I really need my boobs to make more milk.

Also, somewhere in all that, Bill managed to cook us (a really yummy) dinner (of salmon en croute), work on a presentation for his client in Raleigh, NC, and spend time holding Cate whenever gas woke her with screaming meemies. Suffice it to say that he’s not getting much sleep, either.

That said, my electronic leash tells me I’m on duty again, at least for a few more hours. At 8:00 pm, our once-a-week night nanny (who was away last Friday for Thanksgiving) will arrive to give us a much-needed 12-hour respite. Then tomorrow, we’re back on. I sincerely hope our girls do a lot of good growing tonight and settle back into a normal rhythm soon.