Twins: 1 month old

It's been a while since my last update... due to the twin-cycle-fog that I've been under.  Never heard of it?  It has to do with the full time nature of raising twins.  Pastor Larry talks a lot about the growth of a parents heart when new babies come.  I submit that this is 100% true.  It's only a loving parent that gives up everything to change a poopy diaper at 3am on no sleep....  love love love.

The kids have been doing great -- eating well, gaining weight, becoming more alert... all excellent.  Then yesterday was very weird.  Zander woke up and didn't want to eat... almost to the state of being lethargic   Julija's mother instinct was kicking in and we got a little lucky that we had a doctors appointment anyway so we could check it out.  Guess what?  BOTH kids had ear infections.  Wow.  So now, a couple of doses of antibiotic later... everyone seems to be back on the happy trail.

On the way to the doc yesterday,  we also stopped by Dr. Pabon's office.  He is the guy who helped us thru the IVF and can be found here:  [ web site ] I've said before that we've been blessed with wonderful loving people thru out this process.  Dr. Pabon and his staff are great examples of this and we really consider them family at this point.  Check out the picture -- he [and his staff] were so excited to see the twins.  Can you imagine?  They started in that office... in a petrie dish.... amazing.  God's hands were definitely on this whole thing.

Our nights have been getting a lot better.  One of my major prayer requests is that somehow we get ready for me to go back to work on November 1.  A week ago I couldn't even imagine it.  Today,  it seems like I could handle it today if need be.  That's progress (thank you God).

I've also been getting a lot of little projects done at the house:  sliders fixed; landscaping; back light replaced; tile and grout cleaned; etc..  Ed & Donna (my bosses) might not realize how important they were to this process... but it couldn't have happened without the month off.

Take care.  Here are a few new pics for you too.

bath towels

they sleep like this a lot during the day

one month old!

one month old!

big sissy



Considering IVF multiples? Consider this...

So if you're headed down the IVF path as my wife & I did,  you will be posed with the question regarding how may embryos to implant, right?  At that point in our decision process, I was thinking "put them all in".  Thank God for Dr. Pabone who helped us understand that (1) the babies will be at a higher risk as the number goes up and (2) it is likely to happen.  He was right on both accounts.

I was just thinking this morning about how our first ten days have gone at home with the twins, and how utterly dependent I am on my wife, and she on me  -- especially for the nighttime feedings.  I've been thru singletons before and you can always rationalize that you'll switch off at night to help your partner (and yourself) get some extra sleep.  Let me say with twins there is no sleep beyond a 2-3 hr block.  It will take full cooperation and teamwork between you and your wife. Nothing less will work.

The other thing we never considered was the visit to the NICU for the first weeks of life.  This is not a stress-free time and even though we were blessed with the best NICU on the planet (Sarasota Memorial), there is still a lot of work to be done for the parents.  The 24-hr job really starts on day one... it just has a lot more driving injected.

Last night we had one of our friends from church stop by and she commented "I can't imagine not getting an 8 hr block of sleep".  Shoot -- we haven't had one of those in almost two weeks but guess what? We've adjusted and it's ok.  No problems. Especially when you see those little hungry faces at night.

Now during the day there is a contrast in that you are typically awake when someone starts to stir.  Julija has gotten her hair done and had other excursions that I had no problems with and vise-versa.   One starts to wake up,  you take care of them and get them comfortable before the next one does.  No problems.  But at night it's all different because the process starts when someone is so mad they wake you up.  And guess what? They wake up in pairs :)

So -- consider "how many" very carefully. Single parents need not apply for multiples :)
In case you're wondering,  I would do it again without hesitation. Love you Z&Z.


Baby Surveillance (Airplay & Foscam)

from the iMac (home or work)
On a more technical note,  thought I might share what we're doing to keep an eye on our babies during the day (fun stuff). A few years ago I bought my first Foscam internet camera.  These are cool and give you the ability to look thru a video camera from anywhere there is internet. Check out Foscam.us There is also another company that makes a great iPhone or iMac based viewer showing multiple windows.  Now it is very cool that I can pan&tilt these cameras too.  There are about $100 each.

In the twins room there is a camera on each crib so we have an eagle's eye view into their crib time. Just lately Apple started doing something called mirroring from the mac so we can put these camera views out on the big screen. Pretty dang cool... Now I can see them while I'm at work and Julija is home. How cool is that? Oh, BTW no one else can see these cameras.  They are accessible via the Internet,  but not publicly available.

from the big screen (AppleTV)
from any of our iPhones

Let me know if you want more details.


No more bottle?

Kids have been home about a week and we had a bad night last night -- at least Dad did.  Two nights ago things seemed perfect: Julija and I were on a perfect routine and working in unison; the kids ate and went back to sleep; and we felt rested when we got up.  Last night was different.

It started at in the morning when we went to the second Pede appointment.  Doc said that since the kids were gaining weight so well that we should focus on exclusive breast feeding and drop the bottle supplements altogether.  Sounded like a great plan.  Last night?  not so much.

Bottle=fast; breast=slow
Bottle=east; breast=easy

At least that's the way the kids see it.  By the time #2 is done feeding, #1 is ready to eat again.  So, suffice it to say we're still working on it.  Now I will say that this morning things seem to be feeding well.  The nurses taught us how to do "tongue-training" with Zander to help him latch better and Julija was nursing Zella with the football hold in preparation for some dual feeding down the road.  Julija is doing so well and really makes everyone's life better.

Something very cool we did yesterday was to give them both a bath then take them outside on the lanai   The orange-towel shots are from that outing.  It gave them a chance to experience "outside" and their skin a chance to dry naturally.

All is good in the Ribar house.


Status: Nominal (and awesome)

Do we look tired?
I think we're getting better :)  Things have gotten closer to routine as time passes with our jobs ossifying too.  I'm pretty much the diaper-king and of course only Julija could be the best-of-breast.  Beyond that we are both trying hard to keep the house clean by not leaving messes and pretty much both just keeping everything up: dishes; countertops; garbage; clothes; etc.  So far, so good.  I can only think at this point that we are very lucky to be the team we are. Twins with one parent or a not-so-close parent team would be miserable.  For us it is all heaven-on-earth.

It still amazes me the Grace that is passed from God to us,  and from us to our tiny ones. Most people that are forced to be up multiple times at night complain -- we love it.  Not necessarily the sleepus-interuptus, but the beautiful gaze from my favorite youngest daughter, or the calmness that comes from my favorite youngest son after a successful poop reduction routine is all worth the long days.

Favorite burping position
Happy Zander..
Part of our routine is that i will take the kids one at a time from our bedroom (where we all sleep) to the nursery for their diaper change.  I try to carry the kids with our faces pretty close so I am in their sight (just in case) and I always talk to them in a very calming voice.  Well in the last two days Zella has started reaching outward towards my voice and face when we're together.  I thought at first it was just a coincidence but it has happened quite a few times.  Pastor Larry talks about how much his (and my) heart has grown so huge with new children.  Zella and Zander can both bring me to tears just with a strong gaze or finger grab.  Like I said,  in my heart I consider this all God's Grace coming thru Him to me to them.

Breastfeeding is still going wel and you will also notice in the pictures that we've got the kids closer together during sleepy time.  There is still a barrier -- like a rolled up blanket to keep them off each other when we're all sleeping,  but they are within six inches of each other.  Very cool...

On the lighter less sappy side,  check out this new song we've been playing in the house.  It's called "Mercury" by The Chuck Shaffer Band.  It reminds me a lot of a band my oldest brother LJ used to like in high school called Eos.

One other note. I was thinking about stopping the posts since the IVF journey has really ended but Julija has officially turned this into a life journal. There you go. Pictures included.

Love you Zander
Thank you once again to the Cockey family for feeding us EVERY DAY this week.  We love you guys.


Survivor Man - Day one.

The kids came home yesterday,  but this morning I really felt like Les Stroud in Survivorman as I took the dogs out at first light.  As the color of the sky finally changes from black to some hue of orange, he always talks about how getting thru the night is tough; waiting for that glimpse of sunrise that you know will lift your spirits.  Yeah -- I felt that this morning.  We were on a three hour rotation since noon yesterday:   change diaper; feed from the breast; supplement from the bottle; put them to sleep; clean up; sleep; repeat.  Guess what? We survived.

Of course God's hand was at work regarding anything that we put into it,  but we also had 12 days of fantastic OJT from the NICU staff at SMH that made homecoming fairly easy.
Zander ready for the ride home
Zella ready too

Yesterday the day started with the two of us waking up at home alone around 5am -- uncharacteristic to say the least.  We were both so excited about Zella and Zander coming home that we couldn't sleep.  When we got to the hospital,  we had to wait for the Dr. Tolosa (awesome) to finish rounds and release the kids.  He did.

We loaded them in the car and came home... nothing crazy.  I have to say though that leaving the NICU was like the end of a cruise or the end of bandcamp.  It felt like we were leaving a lot of great friends behind and was actually a little sad.  We really  came to love and respect the staff there (we can't say enough).

Momma in the middle
So we get home.. apprehensive, but prepared.  The cycle started and everything went well all night.  Julija and I would trade off with one of us sleeping in the spare room while the other one kept a watchful eye on the kids.  Not too bad.  Then the sun came up and new life for both if us.  I was amazed in the evening how Julija was like an energizer bunny -- tons of energy at all times.  Guess it pays to have a 27 yr old wife and mother :)

This morning we had the first appointment at the pediatrician's office -- Dr. Caroll.  He is also our neighbor but ultimately a great guy; child advocate and someone who cares.  That trip was uneventful too.
twin bassinet

1st visit to see Dr. Caroll
Zander's 1st trip to the changing table

Yesterday, apprehension was high.  Today,  everything is good.  Jessica came over last night to hold her little siblings and our friends down the street (Joe & Carolyn) are feeding us all week. We'll see how the night goes as we enter day two of survivorman.

Love2 u all


11 days old -- Coming home tomorrow

Zella post feed snooze
Zander the Beatnic
Tonight will be our last good sleep for a while... but we're still excited.  A few minutes ago we left the SMH NICU and the kids will be sleeping there for the last time. Sweet.  For the last few days they've been on an on-demand eating and sleeping schedule.  If they can hold to minimums (so many ml food / weight gain / etc) then they are released.  Well... they passed all that and the doc said to send them home.

Today they had to sit in their carseat for an hour to make sure they could handle the position.  Funny thing is that Zella stayed in hers for at least three hours -- loved it :)  So no problem there.  Zander got circumcised today too so he wasn't too interested in anything but restless sleep (poor little guy).

They had actually lost their nose hoses yesterday because they were eating so well and big sister Jessie came up for a love-fest too.  Awesome!

We have been kind'of scrambling because we thought we had another week or so.  Today was my last day of work for the month (yup... month!) and we ordered some formula for supplemental feeding and just whatever. Doc said they will need at least one feeding a day of 22-cal formula just to keep their calories up.
4 beauties!

They have been doing pretty well at the breast.  We're hoping to get away from the bottles if possible (except for the (1) 22 / day) and it will be nice to not have any wires either.  I guess we're just real excited to bring them home.  It's been a long time since we started the process.  Did you know for our first date I asked Julija over to help me clean the house and do laundry.  I'm going to hold her to that one - ha ha.

Anyway -- much more to post tomorrow after they get home.