Finally Li’s pictures that were taken on Sept 2 (at 2 months of age) came!
Finally Li’s pictures that were taken on Sept 2 (at 2 months of age) came!
Lin and Li are 2 months old and they’ve done so much already! Michael and I take them out for a walk early in the morning everyday and they are usually pretty alert during the morning, afternoon is easier, and they are awesome at night, now sleeping between 5.5 and 6.5 hours. It seems like they have their routine now and thankfully they are almost always on the same schedule. My milk supply seems to be increasing still, usually I wake up from the soreness in the breasts before they wake, and Cindi suggested to pump to comfort instead of draining them, so my body gets used to not producing too much milk yet it doesn’t cause any problem.
They are both around 13lbs, still gaining above average, they still nurse for about 45 minutes at a time, and about 7~8 times every 24 hours. Lin still loves to be held when he’s awake, and Li is a bit easier to soothe. Although Lin can hold himself up pretty well while Li is a little bit behind. They both respond much better now, sometimes smile back at us, they are so cute when they laugh and stretch (we call it weight lifting) after their meal. We put them on their tummy more often now since that seems to put them to sleep a lot quicker than on their back.
I firmly believe they can observe each other and they know each other, sometimes Li gets really jealous if you pick up Lin, who wants to be held all the time, they now both have their sad face, which is pretty cute, I will have to get a picture of it. While we were in LA, we placed them on their tummy, head to head with a distance, before we knew, they somehow moved towards each other and finally they were face to face.
On Sept 2nd, we took them to a studio across the street for a photo shoot, the studio is called “baby face”, who specializes in photographing infants under 1 year of age. Our session started around 11am, right after I fed both of them, Lin was really alert and had his pictures taken, Li was a bit upset when we woke him up, and cried a lot which was unusual. That’s when we noticed Lin could hold himself up much better, it’s hard to take pictures of infants that are so young but at least we were happy with the family pictures, it’s just they were not in a mood to smile, so we will see how it goes…Next time we will make sure they are well fed and had plenty of sleep. We ended up nursing them during the session and it lasted almost 3 hours, when they got home, they just slept and slept, we had to wake them up for feeding in the evening, must have tired them out completely!
Dad and his sister come over everyday to watch the kids, since babies love to be held, especially Lin, we are lucky to have the help, we are thinking just hiring help from my aunt, since she’s really good with the babies and she’s someone we can trust Lin and Li with, someone we can be a lot more flexible with. Dad does all the shopping and he’s really good with organizing and cleaning as well. I am glad my relationship with him has improved because of the babies, so does Mom. Mom gets to rest a lot more now we are home, which is great, after all she’s 62 and sometimes I forget they are not like us being at that age. Both Lin and Li are much better with their routine now, they are much more content and interactive, it’s the cutest when they just get off the breasts and are in a play mood, and they make all kinds of noise and smile, they are definitely a lot of fun!
Its been a week since we arrived in Shanghai, we just unpacked everything. I remember being anxious and nervous, moving to China this time was definitely the most challenging trip so far, even though I’ve made the same trip between China and the US so many times plus ton of flying to 30 something other countries.
We got rid of almost everything we own, instead of shipping them to Shanghai, we decided to bring whatever fits in the allowed number of luggage and carry-on. To avoid the hassle of transfer, we booked the Delta direct flight from RDU to LAX, and visit mom’s friend for a few days then take the direct flight from LAX to Shanghai. The price is good, only about $650 per person for Mom, Michael and I. The domestic flight for infants under 2 is free, but the international flight usually has a 10% of ticket price and we called China Eastern ahead of time and paid less than $120 for both Lin and Li and requested bassinets for them.
Checking in with that many luggage was tough, especially because Michael was carrying a baby (looking back we should have asked a guy to help us at the airport), Delta was tough on weight as well, they charged us $90 on one of the bags which was overweight by 15 lbs. We purchased a sky club pass so feeding them at the quiet room in the lounge was great, by using just one tempur-pedic pillow we bought the day before, and help from Mom and Michael, boys were happy eating and being changed (surprisingly there was no change table in either bathroom). The flight was full, all three of us had the seats in the same row, we held the babies in our carriers, and gave them bottles during take-off and landing, both boys slept the rest of the flight, I was also able to pump using a nursing cover, the Munchkin cool wrap was great, it holds 3 8oz bottles and has two freezer packs, it does keep the frozen milk cold for a long time. The flight time from RDU to LAX was about 5 hours, and after we landed, we waited in the plane for another 45 minutes due to some problem of accessing the gate. Lin and Li did great, the lady in front of us saw them after landing and was surprised to find two babies behind her!
Mom’s friend from 30 years ago, Mr. Xia came to the airport to pick us up, I have vivid memory of him before he left for the states. He dropped us at the Embassy Suites near the airport and took Mom back to his house. The hotel was really beautiful, and has excellent selection of breakfast with made to order omelette, boys were fine the next morning, we took them for a walk around the block. Then Mr. Xia transferred us to Hilton, the first day they were fussy pretty much the whole day, but the next day they were good. We were invited to Mr. Xia’s restaurant (京味小厨) and his wife cooked dinner, it was so yummy! I can’t believe the food was so good in LA, and there’re so many Chinese there! Mom pretty much slept for two days without having to worry about the babies. Mr. Xia’s wife brought us traditional Chinese breakfast – rice pack, soy milk, rice milk) for the trip to the airport (it was again, really yummy)!
The only surprise was we were denied access at LAX lounge, because we have to be elite member to use it, that was total BS and it wasn’t stated in the fine print for the 30-day membership terms. I decided to feed them in the restroom one by one, and Mom could change them on the change table. It worked fine, at least I felt more comfortable than using a nursing cover in front of a hundred people. Getting on China Eastern was easier, with the help from Mr. Xia. As soon as we got on board, the flight attendants started checking them out. The online review says the service on China Eastern isn’t good, in our case, they were super friendly (thanks to the boys), before we knew, one flight attendant already talked to a passenger and switched seats for us. So Mom and I had Li in the bulk head bassinet in a two-seat row, and Michael had Lin in another bassinet across the isle in the same row. The couple sitting next to him also had a 6-month old baby in a bassinet, they were moving to China as well so we got some more crying but a good conversation. The 14 hour flight was very smooth and seemed fast since we had a lot to do on the flight – talking to passenger about new born (one guy just had his child 4 days before and he hadn’t met him yet), changing diapers, pumping, feeding, etc. I think every single flight attendant came over to see the twins, and chatted with us, at one point, half of them were checking them out in the same time, some passengers had to ask to get by (here we go, bad service :)), the Chinese (or Asian really) flight attendants almost had to go through a beauty contest to fly, they were all young, tall and pretty, so some of them were asking us about the tips during pregnancy, and they were so cute commenting how cute the babies are, it was pretty funny since they were not stuck-up at all when they ‘re around babies (cute ones anyway). Although we weren’t as lucky as we were with Lin this time, he was fussy throughout the flight until just before landing, he just didn’t want to go to sleep or stay in his bassinet, Michael had to put him in the carrier and rock him the whole time!!! By the time we were landing, he was in such deep sleep we couldn’t even nurse him…Li was really good, he woke up just to be changed or fed.
Mom’s friend and my cousin came to the airport with two vehicles, so they took the luggage and Mom, Michael and I used the public transportation with the babies since we don’t have car seats any more, the maglev we took last year would have been faster (shortens the trip by 23 minutes), but we were concerned about the heat during transfer so we opted for subway, which now connects the airport and home. The trip was about 1 hour, and cost 7 RMB per person, that’s 2 dollars for all of us. The train was brand new and it wasn’t crowded at all, we had seats all the way and again, everyone who saw them were asking million of questions! I guess that’s what happens with twins… When we got out of our station, it was raining so heavily, there’s a storm in town! So we picked up a huge umbrella from a street vendor (they always magically appear once it starts raining) and it was actually kind of nice, the rain was much better than the heat. When we arrived home, everyone plus Dad and my aunt were waiting for us already to have dinner!
Our journey was 3 days and 16 hours from the time we left Staybridge in Morrisville to arriving home in Shanghai. With help from friends (Nora, Welkin, Mr. Xia and his family, cousin and friend in Shanghai), I am really surprised that it was a very pleasant trip, and we did it with 6 large pieces of luggage, 6 pieces of carry-ons (including a large but very useful pillow) and 2 babies under 2 months of age. I know it sounds crazy, but good planning and Michael’s strong arms, we did it! It is definitely something to remember and to tell the story to the boys when we get older 🙂
I am sitting in front of my computer and happy that we settled in so quickly – the boys are in their la la land, after a much needed bath. Michael and I are satisfying our thirst or withdrawal of surfing online (in the middle of the night) due to our long distance travel. One great advantage of having newborn – you don’t have jetlag, since you don’t sleep much anyway. I am amazed at how much we can buy online these days in China, Joyo, which was bought out by Amazon a while back, now has so much more to offer, and Michael loved the fact that newegg.com is in China as well. Not only the prices are at least comparable (other than imported electronics), but it seems there are a lot more options of everything you want to buy.
We started our day with feeding the babies (of course!), then we took the boys out for a walk to get some breakfast we craved, from the street vendors. We had our Jianbing (pan-fried Chinese pancake), and soy milk. Weather was still cool from the storm last night so it was nice. Then we went for a $10, one-hour foot massage (without the boys), it was heavenly especially our feet and back are hurting from a lot of walking, standing and lifting (for Michael mostly). Mom made duck soup and a variety of veggies for lunch, they were so good! In the afternoon, Michael checked out the gym equipment and we were told that the complex is adding more equipment next year, a squash ball court. We then interviewed a lady as the housekeeper (just cleaning and cooking). Although the price has gone up a lot, to $300 a month, a housekeeper who works 8 hours a day and 6 days a week is still a steal.
A very busy day indeed, and we will post another blog about our travel shortly!
The big move is not the move to China, it was the move out of our apartment. Imagine if you were given two hours to pack up your bags and go, and you have to leave everything else behind, well that’s how I felt – with twins, going to the bathroom sometimes becomes a challenge! Michael’s parents were sick so they couldn’t make the trip during the weekend so we got a storage unit (thankfully it was across the street) and Elissa’s husband Herb offered help with a trailer to haul stuff over there. We were able to call for last minute help from Joe, Herb and Junjie to pack and move. It was the most overwhelming packing experience, I didn’t think I could finish packing (my stuff only) Friday so I called Nora, she came over and helped with the packing and watching the babies so I had some time to think through what I want to get rid of, considering we’ve got rid of tons of stuff already, but looking at a house full of stuff sure can be intimidating.
Our plan is to run some errands during the day Friday, then pack all the bags and check into a hotel, then Saturday Michael can clean up the apartment. So we took care of almost all the business during the day, including visiting Cookout for the last time (see pictures, Dr. Gil will be really upset if he knows I eat all this junk food, but hey Michael got sweet tea!), I have to get the corn dog, onion rings, chicken nuggets!
We decided not to ship anything over to China but to just bring the luggage with us. We booked the flight separately since we are going to meet up with Mom’s friend and his family in LA and stay there for couple of days before we head over to Shanghai. Since we need to pay for every bag we check in, we can pack 6 bags about $35 each, without going to the next $125 per bag (isn’t it crazy that the baggage fee can be more expensive than the flight, and I wonder why all the airlines enjoy their new revenue stream by charging fees on every little thing, now that somehow charging for check-in luggage becomes the norm).
It was till past midnight when we finally packed all the bags, and managed to fit most of the luggage into our car and Nora’s. And we finally checked in around 1:30am at Staybridge Suites near the airport (and near Nora’s), I booked at Staybridge since the suites are set up like apartments, Mom has her separate bedroom and bathroom so she doesn’t wake up because of the babies. The following morning, Nora and Michael met at the apartment at 7am to clean up, the guys came over a bit later and everyone worked so hard, I feel bad that Preston hurt his hand 😦 Herb actually helped Michael past midnight and finally everything was taken care of – I just don’t know how they did it in a day! Afte the Saturday class, Nora came over to the hotel (with more luggage) and we went food shopping at Earthfare and C&T, babies did great with Mom without crying too much so we were able to get a lot done. I looked at the bags in the room – there were 7 huge bags and 6 pieces of carry-ons. And I decided not to take my clothes at all, instead leaving them in the storage so we don’t have to pay the ridiculous fee to Delta. Sunday morning, Nora and Welkin joined us again, they bathed the twins, and we talked for a while, it was great to see them again but everyone felt sad when it was time to say goodbye. I was happy Welkin bought the compression stockings for the flight. We still ended up paying $90 overweight charge for one of the luggage (15lbs over) but we should be able to switch bags to make it work since one of them was about 15lbs under.
Glad the big move is over, we appreciate the help from everyone so much, now all we need to worry about is to take 6 (huge) luggage, 6 carry-on and 2 babies to China!
Elissa’s daughter Ruth and my friend Welkin were so kind to come over today to help Mom watch the babies all day while Michael and I went to Rex for the hysteroscopy and D&C to open up the cervix, check and take out the debris in the uterus. I had a crazy morning, waking up at 4:30am, fed the babies, then started organising my paperwork, cleaned the house (it’s really a mess), fed the babies again, took the shower and headed over to Rex.
We really liked everyone we met today, they were all shocked to learn that we would be on a plane to China in a few days but we felt so lucky that Elissa was able to talk to Dr. Littleton and got me the appointment and surgery a such a short notice! While I was given the IV, I pumped and put away the milk for the babies, after the surgery I still needed to pump but the milk was no good for the babies. Unlike my birth experience, I was given lot of warm blankets and it was so comfy.
Dr. Littleton was very kind and before I knew, I was out! When I woke up I felt just fine, since we told the anaesthesiologist to use minimal amount of sedative. I did not have any dizziness or discomfort, there was just some bleeding. By that time, Michael had already talked to Dr. Littleton. By looking at it, Dr. Littleton said it was a piece of retained placenta! I guess this solves the mystery of low milk supply!!!
We just got the bill for the use of donor’s milk before I started exclusively feeding the boys on August 2nd, it was $1234.80, now the worst part was really the stress during the first weeks and we really struggled to produce milk – we did everything we could and I am so glad we overcame the milk supply issue despite of the retained placenta problem. I also feel a bit angry, since with the C-section it is rare to leave something in the uterus, however, the fact that a friend who had twins via C-section by Dr. V and Dr. Grana also had a D&C to remove the retained placenta just tells that they are sloppy , of course I found that out after the delivery. What hurt me the most, however, was that they did not respect our wishes and opinions, and totally weren’t listening to us. Retained placenta can be life threatening but apparently that wasn’t their concern, neither would they bother with the fact that the blood clots can travel to my brain on a long flight.
Right after the surgery, I pumped and was shocked to see all of a sudden my milk was pouring, I couldn’t believe it!!! Now I have enough to feed the whole family 🙂
Elissa came over to visit us in the evening and showed us a lot of cool things about babies, the video below was so cute! Dr. Gil also called and he said he was relieved to hear that I had the surgery done, I knew when he advised to have a D&C, it was necessary, just didn’t think I could schedule it so quickly. I felt so fortunate that our friends are so nice…and for the first time, we were away from the babies for so long, and I missed them so much…
It’s the final count down. The other night Michael and I went to visit Elissa, who adopted Bonnie. While we were there, I told her that I am still bleeding a bit at 7 weeks. She was very concerned about it, so she called up her doctor and set up an appointment for the following day. Michael and I went and see Dr. Littleton at Center OBGYN, which is right next to Rex Birthing Center.
We liked Dr. Littleton, he explained many possible reasons for not having milk, and he did an ultrasound in the office, looked like the debris in my uterus is still there, even though it’s half the size of what it was 3 weeks ago, it’s not supposed to be there. He thinks a D&C is necessary to take out whatever is in there. It will be the best to do so before flying to China on Sunday, since flying sometimes can trigger bleeding (that will be a bad situation). So we were able to set up an outpatient surgery for today at Rex. Dr. Gil was concerned about it as well when we visited him earlier this week, and he suggested the D&C, which was surprising to us, since he’s not a big fan of even using medication. When he called last night, I told him about the surgery and he was relieved.
We were pretty fortunate that Elissa was able to get us the appointment and have the surgery done! It’s amazing that she can pull it off like that since one of the reasons we waited was because there’s no way we could find another doctor and get it done. So I started pumping extra milk from yesterday, and by now (7:30am) I have 8oz more to go – since after the surgery, I have to express and discard the milk for 24 hours, otherwise babies will get the anaesthesia. Glad that I had some reserve built up. I actually feel good about the surgery, this way we can leave without worries and take the risk of further complications.
The past week has flown by, coupled with our ambitious move to China, colic was not something that came along at the right time. It sure adds to the stress we are already experiencing. So Michael and I keep telling each other to focus on the tasks rather than our feelings.
Lin started fussing a while back, no matter how we soothed him, he would not stop crying, he arches his back, his stomach feels really hard, and he screams. Li, just like he always did, followed his brother’s footstep, started fussing a few days later. However, he never spits up like Lin does. Last night, Li slept through the night from 11pm to 6am, his brother was up since 3:30am and he’s still crying.
The Reohrs were in town and helped us clean up the house quite a bit yesterday, we all felt so accomplished at the end of the day. I love spending time with their kids, Tyler, Stella and Chole all have grown up so much, I can’t believe the babies I used to hold in my arms are talking like adults already! They watched the kids while we went to Dr. Gil, it was our last visit and it was a great visit. We learned a lot about baby care (homoeopathic treatment for common infant problems), and we stocked up our vitamin supply, and learned to treat colic with rubbing their belly with castor oil, also using probiotic. So once we got home, we gave them the probiotic, both of them were quiet or asleep from 4pm all the way to bedtime, we couldn’t believe how well it worked! The precious few hours we had were very much needed to clean up the house.
We have been giving gripe water to the babies, it did help some but not nearly effective as the probiotic, the biggest concern we had was how they would do on the plane, 5+ hours from Raleigh to LA, take a break for a few days to visit Mom’s friend and get adjusted, then take the direct flight from LA to Shanghai – 14.5 hours. Maybe we should buy some ear plugs just in case we get any complaint. Now we feel much more confident knowing probiotic will help.
Getting rid of a house full of stuff is hard but we are determined not to store or keep our stuff other than important documents , we got rid of almost everything, and we felt much more satisfied seeing our friends using our stuff than selling them on craigslist. And we get to see them before we go!
It’s Mom’s birthday today and she sure looks great for turning 62! Kind of feel bad that with all that’s going on, we didn’t really plan on any celebration – to get around the feeding schedule is a huge task already, I am so glad that Nora has been so kind taking Mom out every Saturday. She sent her beautiful flowers and took her out for dinner 🙂 No wonder Mom loves Nora, she’s been so kind to her, and treated her like her own mother. I have to make up for it in Shanghai!
A lot of phone calls today to tie up the loose end, closing a few bank accounts, going through the mail, all these little things require so much time and that’s what we don’t have! Babies have been pretty fussy lately, they would cry and cry and cry after each feeding, once we pick them up they stop crying, and really enjoy looking around with their eyes wide open. I think they are getting very curious to learn about the world around them. I have to commend Michael for being such a great dad, he usually does the tandem soothing after the tandem feeding. He’s definitely got the patience of gold and would soothe the babies for hours, taking one out for a walk, laying down with them, or rocking them in the Lay-Z-Boy sometimes holding both! I feel very lucky to have a companion like him, and I feel very spoiled that Mom and him are around, so I haven’t really fed the boys on my own yet, they always send the babies to me! They have worked just as hard as I did. Mom takes care of the cooking and laundry and sometimes watches both babies, which is really tough, while Michael and I can go out for a short break or run some errands.
I always feel that culturally it is very different how kids are raised, when I compare China vs. the US, even till today, there’s very few daycare places in Shanghai, most parents raise their infants at home, now that for most of the couples, both have to go to work but it is almost universal that the grandparents will become the caregivers during the day. And they really see it as a privilege. I actually don’t agree with having grandparents watching the kids, they deserve their freedom after many years of work. But I do think it is important to be with the kids in the early years, especially before age of 3. I just can’t see myself sending my kids to daycare, even though I understand why people do it – it is ridiculous how expensive it is to raise kids these days, anywhere. However, in our society, let’s say, a couple like us, raising twins using formula (going back to work definitely makes breastfeeding less of an attainable goal) will cost $400 minimum, and about $1600 for daycare – a monthly $2,000 after-tax spending already! Plus the more important factor -being with the kids. This is the reason we kind of miss the model in the old days, moms taking care of the babies and if there’s breastfeeding problems, there’s always a wet nurse in the community to help.