babies, developmental delay, first time mom, identical boys, military life, pregnancy, SAHM, twin pregnancy, twins

Our Journey with Speech and Occupational Therapy

I wanted to put that image I found because I realize how true it is after having kids. The boys were born early, as are many twins, but I didn’t think that was going to be a problem….for the most part it wasn’t. They didn’t have any major complications, had a fairly short NICU stay (2&3 weeks) and they were healthy. I was hopeful things would be good, they’d catch up on the growth curve and wouldn’t have any major delays. Of course as a mother you want your children to be perfect and as long as they were healthy they were, but I started noticing some things that made me question if I was overreacting or there was something there. Here is the journey we’ve been on for the past 4 years.

The beginning

When I first noticed something was wrong

Since the boys were babies they were pretty quiet. Everyone used to comment on how “well-behaved” they were. Really, they’re babies, how can they be well behaved at this age? I flew with them around 4 months old and everyone on the plane was so delighted at how quiet they were. Ok I get it, having babies on an airplane can suck sometimes with them being babies and all (crying, screaming, hours of just hearing annoying babies). I was so worried as it was traveling with twins, I was so paranoid they’d be THOSE babies on the plane screaming, crying…it just gave me anxiety thinking about it. Luckily they were fine, they were perfect angels and everyone else noticed and commented on down the aisle on the wait out. I was like “Hell yeah, I got me some great babies! *high-five*)

 

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First California tri

When we’d go out to restaurants we got the same thing. In th beginning I used to think wow, I lucked out! Quiet babies. Well behaved babies…but after a while it started to worry me. Around 6 months of age I started noticing how quiet they were and it seemed like it was too good to be true. I knew other moms with babies around the boys’ age and they weren’t doing anything like them in the “talking” department.

By 6 months of age babies should be babbling, they should be loud and they should be making their presence known.

Speech Sound Development for a 6-Month-Old:

At 6 months of age, children should be exploring their vocal systems.  They should begin playing with sounds and making noises.  According to the Liguisystems Guide to Communication Milestones, a 6-month old should do some of the following things:
  • Plays with voice and mouth by squealing, growling, yelling, and blowing raspberries
  • Produces vocalizations that vary weekly and daily
  • Produces a variety of vowel-sounds
  • Begins doing some experimenting with putting a consonant and vowel together, like “buh” or “gah”

But they weren’t doing a majority of those things.

 

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6 months old

 

Naturally, I ask Dr. Google things and start to worry, eventually I calm myself down and chalk it up to being premature. I asked my husband what he thought but since we were first time parents, we both were like “They were early, we have some time.” I brought it up to their Pediatrician and she said if they’re not doing more things by X months, we may have to look into options but let’s give them some time since they were premature.

Ok, yeah, that sounds good. Let’s wait. I’ll enjoy these quiet babies for a little while longer. Don’t panic, don’t panic.

Things weren’t getting any better

So as the months go by the boys were hitting some physical milestones, which made me feel better. I figured they were more focused on the physical aspects of growing vs verbal/communication so I wasn’t too worried. But they turned 9 months, so the worried mama came back. Since I was still friends with those moms, as moms tend to do, I did the good ole comparing my kid vs their kid. I would read all these things their kids were doing/saying and how their kid was communicating with them.

What? Our kid is supposed to communicate with us by now?

We were doing our part, we were talking to them, if they wanted something we’d say the words….we thought we were doing everything right. This was our first time but we didn’t talk to them like babies, no baby talk or anything like that, we talked to them like a normal person. I researched things and they said that’s what your supposed to do. Great. So, why aren’t they talking?! By this age they were getting into their little fits and boy were those fun to deal with. I just assumed they were regular tantrums but then they started tapping their heads on their crib for fun, well, really anywhere for fun. They’d do it sometimes until they’d nod off to sleep in their bed. Something just didn’t feel right about it all. It just felt like I needed to do something, almost 1 year olds should be saying more words besides just blowing raspberries and yelling.

We saw the pediatrician again and after their visit she basically tells us “They should be saying X amount of words by now and communicating with you. If you’d like, I can refer them to a speech pathologist.” That was such a hard thing to hear, that your kid may potentially have a delay and need help.

I don’t mean to sound high and mighty or come off like “How can MY kid need help?!” It was just such a punch in the gut feeling, it felt as if I failed. My first gig as a mother and I can’t get my kids to talk. What did I do? Where did we go wrong? I must be doing this wrong, or that, or……just going around and round the guilt carousel. I know it wasn’t the end of the world, but to me, it felt like it at that moment. I was so scared there was something else wrong with them.

Getting them help

The pediatrician put the referral in and after 2 weeks we were being seen at Early Intervention in Virginia, there it was called the Infant & Toddler Connection. We had one meeting with paperwork and then scheduled eval appointments. (as far as I know, all states have this program, if the child qualifies it’s free.)

We had their hearing checked to rule out any other problems along with their vision. I brought them in the room, one by one and they went through a series of questions for myself, asked the boys and played games to asses them. When you go to these things, even if your only concern is speech, they cover all bases and check everything to see if there are other things going on you might have missed. During their assessment I mentioned that they didn’t talk, they hardly babbled and if they did make sounds it was just two “ba” and “da”. They also had this weird thing where they liked to tap their head on things, their crib, the couches, the walls and floor. Nothing hard but I did mention it during our first meeting.

After that initial assessment they said that the boys were delayed. Speech they noticed they were at about a 4 month delay and were behind in other areas but nothing too severely. So, with those findings a speech therapist and an occupational therapist was sent to our house to do a more thorough screening. She needed to make her own assessment of what level they were at and the OT came to watch them from afar as they crawled and played. After looking at the boys I heard the words I was dreading:

Your boys have a pretty significant speech delay.

I thought hearing that kind of statement from the Dr was enough to prepare me but hearing it from ones who specialize in the field, it hit me hard in the feels. I started to choke up and cry a little.  It was just a feeling of defeat. I felt like I failed my children, my first time being a mom and I caused my kids to have a speech delay. Not just a regular one, a pretty significant one! Their receptive language was very behind as well as their cognitive, if I remember correctly she said they were more on the level of a 6 month old. When I say they were quiet, weren’t talking or communicating, I wasn’t kidding. Two words, “ba” and “da”.  As far as the head banging thing the OT said that it’s relatively normal for their age, and for boys but just to keep an eye on it and if they start hurting themselves, they may need to be seen.

Starting therapy

Some might be thinking these and I’ve also had people telling me:

“Some kids take longer to talk”

“My kid didn’t talk until __ and he/she’s fine”

“They’ll talk eventually”

“They were premature, they’ll catch up”

“Some kids don’t want to talk until they want to”

“Every kid talks eventually. Then you’ll want them to shut up!”

While that’s all true, being a first time mom I didn’t know what lies beyond their age and to me, I just wanted my kids to be normal. Again, they were TOO quiet and I knew if I didn’t try to help them now, I may have bigger problems later on. I’m also one of those people who over think things and sometimes my imagination can run wild with worst case scenarios. I figured what can the sessions hurt? I don’t know what I’m doing and they’ll know how to help.

Doing therapy sessions with 10 month old twin boys was a bit of a spectacle at first  . We tried doing them at the same time but then they quickly realized how fun it was to have two people chase them besides just mommy all the time. After the first few tries I decided it’d just be better to split their time up. That way they get one on one time with her and sh doesn’t have to chase/worry about the other one. While she was downstairs with Liam, I’d be in another room with Evan keeping him busy for 30 min. After a while I quiet enjoyed that time. It was really the only chance I got to get one on one time with the boys and it felt like they enjoyed it too. Having twins is hard on a mom, splitting your attention between the two and each one wants your undivided attention.

Some may be thinking “What? Speech therapy with a baby?!” It’s odd to hear, I mean yeah, they’re babies. Truth is you can’t really do too much with a baby so it was mainly play. She’d read some books, make sounds, play games, sing songs….just regular, everyday stuff. It all seemed like nothing special but I watched her and she gave me tips/tricks to try with them. Those  next few months I learned so much. I realized how important doing little things with your babies helps develop their speech. So many light bulbs went off during that time.

The middle

Ongoing therapy

As months went by and they got older, her approach would change and she’d note their progress. During these few months their behaviors changed. Their tantrums became more violent, their head banging became harder and it turned into a way to vent their frustrations. The boys had been in therapy for a few months now but hadn’t made much progress IMO. The therapist reassured me they were changing and pointed some things out but I just couldn’t see it. (Now I reflect and can remember the changes that were made but couldn’t at the time) I took them to an ENT (ear nose and throat doctor)  to ask about their lip ties effecting their speech. They had class IV lip ties but he said because they were still eating and gaining weight fine, it shouldn’t cause any problems. They just had some slow progress, progress nonetheless but it was still slow. These months were hard on me because of their behavior and tantrums. Once their head banging started getting worse we had the OT come back to look at them. She gave us some tricks to use and they seemed to work. Around this time the boys decided that they wanted to be mouth stuffers as well. They have always been big eaters but we had some gagging issues because they’d shove so much food in their mouths! I only gave them a couple of pieces at a time to help prevent it but they were angry when they didn’t have a constant flow of food. They never did choke, thank goodness, but would gag from all the food they’d shove in their mouths. They’d eat it all, but it was still a sight to see. Everyone used to comment on how much they ate. This kids were putting away a Denny’s Jr Slam within a few minutes!

It wasn’t only food either, these kids shoved EVERYTHING in their mouths! They were around 14 months and they were still shoving everything they could find into their mouths. Luckily they never swallowed anything but they’d just mouth everything. Seriously, I’m not joking when I say they’d shove everything in their mouths! (Picture petrified dog poop found in the backyard) It was such a hard time and it only continued from then on.. heck at 4 yrs old they still sometimes do it! (not the poop though ;))

I had the ST talk to the OT and she ended up giving me tricks to try with for their mouth stuffing, but she still said everything I mentioned fell into the norm for kids their age. WHAT?!

She WAS the expert after all and since they weren’t causing any harm to themselves, it wasn’t really an issue. Yet.

We continued with their therapy until we moved. By the time we finished up in Virginia they were starting to sign a bit and were saying a couple of words but it still wasn’t where we wanted them to be. They were 18 months when we left and still at the speech level of a 12-14 month old.

When we moved here to NC we transferred services. The boys were still eligible until the age of 3 so we saw Early Intervention here in NC. We took the boys in to be evaluated and I mentioned the mouth stuffing, head thing and all that jazz again. This time we had a separate eval for the boys with the OT and they were put into services. She noticed they had decreased muscle tone, she would work with them on mouth stuffing and spacial awareness to see if that’d help with other things. Each one had therapy twice a week for 30 minutes and OT once a week for one hour here at home. The schedule wasn’t too bad but with my daughter in the mix of things, it was starting to become a juggling act taking everyone out constantly.

Now, I’m lightly glazing over their tantrums and head banging because it was such a hard thing to go through but now I realize it was due to their speech. When I mention head banging, I mean they were starting to REALLY go at it with their tantrums. They went from tapping, to banging to slamming their heads on things. What I thought may just be a boy thing quickly went to an “Oh shit, wtf is going on with them?” thing.

We’re talking about head banging tantrums with blood dripping out of their noses. I lost count over how many times I’d go into their room to get them to stop hitting their heads, only to see them get up with blood soaked onto their clothes and into the carpet, as if it were nothing. On top of them still not really talking, they were now doing this to me.

During the next few months to a year the boys started to make a big change. I’m not sure if it was the age but they were now almost 3. They seemed to connect with their speech therapist and started to make progress! With that speech progress came improvement with their tantrums and other things. With their OT they were staring to do more physical things. Before they wouldn’t jump from certain heights, wouldn’t do any upper body movements, just normal things 2 year olds would do when they play. Now they were jumping off of ledges, doing spins, hanging from bars and lots of fun preschooler things. They were more confident in how their bodies moved, which has gotten them in some trouble heh but they were just happier. They were able to keep up with kids on the playground because of all the things she was working with them  on.

The end

After the boys turned 3 they were transferred from Early Intervention to the state. They qualified for a free pre-k program at the local school and were receiving speech there on top of seeing their regular therapists. This was both exciting and nerve wrecking for myself. The schedule of doing it all was one thing but I was worried about them still not talking and being in a school setting! Those first few drop offs tugged at my heart-strings but after that, I realized how great it was for them. During this time they made leaps and bounds of improvement. They were receiving speech once a week during school on top of the private therapies and it seemed to be making a difference.

As they started talking more their behavior started to improve. They stopped head banging, throwing wild tantrums and just make my life less miserable. I didn’t have to walk out of places with two kids thrown over my shoulder, I didn’t have to get the stares from strangers after Evan slammed his head into the wall repeatedly after he got mad at me, no more dealing with chimpanzee like children because of being non verbal and just throwing wild tantrums. They were talking now. THEY WERE TALKING! I think the first time they said a sentence to me, I cried. It took 3 years for my kids to actually talk to me and everything became worth it. The horrible guilt I felt, the anxiety I went through, the hours of crying, feeling inadequate and just feeling like a failure were all going away.

Because they were non verbal for so long, they really did develop that twin language I heard so much about. They still use some of it and they’ve become nick names for each other now. When they were first trying to say words, they’d call each other “atta” instead of brother because I’d always refer to the other one as brother. I hear them yelling at each other down the hall and they still call “ATTA!” but then usually one will correct the other and say “I’m not atta, i’m Liam! Don’t call me atta.” It’s crazy to hear that. I still love to hear them talk to me. It drives me nuts sometimes and yeah, it gets annoying (I remember what people used to tell me!) but I still love that they talk to me. I still look at Dan and say “I still can’t believe their having conversations with us.” When he came back from deployment he was blown away at how much they had changed during those 9 months. He left when they were just barely saying words and came home to them telling him stories. Those memories of the past 3 years still are very vivid in my head and even though they drive me nuts with some things, I still love to hear them talk to me.

They’re 4 now , 5 in August and they’ll continue speech at school and privately until we move.

Their speech therapist Laura said to me the other day, which I still can’t believe.

“You know, if they keep this up then they’ll transition out before you guys move.”

I get all sorts of emotions when I remember her say that but it’s still so weird to think about them not being in speech. As far as OT is concerned we’ll see how they do over the next couple of months but I think they’ll be ok from what their therapist tells me.

The future

Since the boys will be 5 this year and can technically start Kindergarten, I’m having an internal debate on what to do. If they are transitioned out that’d be great but I still need to have our IEP meeting with the school to see what her recommendation is for speech. If they are good I think I might keep them in pre-k for one more year. Even though their speech is leaps and bounds where it used to be, I still feel they need the social aspect of another year. The speech delay has prevented them from socializing, that I know. They’re still not like other kids when it comes to their social interaction but that’s a discussion I’ll have to have with Dan.

This whole speech and occupational experience has been a learning experience, for everyone. When I had twins I didn’t think we’d go down this path, but I’m glad we had the resources to be able to get help. Heck, these programs have been apart of our lives for 4+ years now and I’m so thankful I went with my gut. I remember while at a speech session for the boys I picked up a magazine and read an article similar to this. I told you guys about my internal guilt and that article right there just made me feel 1000 times better that morning.

My thoughts on this whole journey

I now know going through this experience the struggles of speech delayed moms. The boys aren’t autistic but I do have  cousin who is high functioning and I often remembered my cousin’s struggles with his speech and getting him diagnosed. I remember her going through the steps to get him help the help he needed and now I’ve had to go through a similar process for the boys. Having a child who can’t communicate with you properly is hard on everyone. I felt bad because they couldn’t communicate with us but I wanted to push them to try as well. There were countless hours of screaming, yelling, crying, frustrations and bad moods on both sides. It was such an exhausting time, especially that age from 2-3, that was the hardest year by far with everything going on. Since I’ve had the other two I’m really seeing how true that article is. Claire was full term and Jacob was as well. Claire has NO problems with speech, I was worried for  little bit when the boys were still learning but she didn’t have any issues. Jacob is still young and but he’s definitely more vocal than the boys were at his age. I’m more confident that theirs is a prematurity thing. Liam has an easier time with annunciation than Evan does, Evan still has a bit more trouble with his annunciation but they are coming along.

PLEASE if you think your child might have a delay, even if everyone is telling you to brush it off or giving reasons as to why not to worry, just go talk to someone. Talk to your Pediatrician. Get the evaluation through Early Intervention if your team of people suspects something or through the school district!

What’s it going to hurt? The evaluations are FREE! There is nothing better than a worried mama’s mind put at ease.

Please if you have any other useful information to add comment below to help anyone else out!

 

Resources:

ASHA- typical speech and language development

ASHA- speech pathology

What you need to know about speech therapy

KidsHealth- Occupational therapy

ASHA- early intervention resource links

U.S. Dept of Education- Early intervention Program

Center for Parent Information and Resources- Transition from early childhood services

Center for Parent Information and Resources- How to get services in your area

 

 

 

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babies, birth, deployment birth, marine corps, military life, pregnancy, SAHM, Uncategorized, VBAC

Baby #4’s Story.

The test

 

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I wanted to be SURE

 

While finding out I was pregnant wasn’t a total shock, what made it a gut wrenching feeling for me was because I knew I would have him while Dan was deployed. Deep down inside I knew I wanted another one. It felt like Claire needed a sister/sibling to play with because I had been watching the boys play with each other for the last 3 years. As she got older they included her in some things but mainly they did their “twin thing” and stuck to themselves, would shut the door and tell her to go away because they were playing. My heart would hurt every time I saw them excluding her and it just didn’t feel right. I had always said that 4 was my magic number, the least amount of kids I wanted was 2 but  because I felt sort of robbed of the single baby experience, we went with 3. I used to joke with day “Hey, wouldn’t that be funny if I wanted another?” and then I’d laugh while he gave me the death stare. In my head I knew it was a crazy idea, things were already chaotic with 3 kids, how on earth could I manage 4?! Then I would get the idea out of my head, move on and just enjoy what I had. Then Dan would say things like “I want another little girl.” or “Claire needs a little sister or brother.” then we’d laugh and move on. That stuff went on for about a month before low and behold, I was pregnant! With the upcoming deployment I figured since after recruiting duty it’d be a breeze and for the most part, being pregnant would distract me from it all AND the bonus part would be that his birth would come at around the halfway point. I was thinking about the different positives about this. We told our families, were met with shock and awe and lots of “omg Stefanie, you’re going to be busy!” and “you’re a brave woman.”.

 

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Our announcement on FB

 

My birth plan

My birth plan with this one was pretty much identical to Claire’s. I wanted an all natural birth, little to no interventions, I would see a midwife again and hire a doula. For my other two births I saw civilian doctors because we were on recruiting duty so I was familiar with those practices but this time we were near a military base and I had to be seen at Naval. I was hesitant at first, I did my research about natural births and VBACs at local hospitals and at this particular hospital on base. I was able to see midwives again, I was so happy they had that option to see them for my care and quickly had one I loved. The odd thing i found was that you couldn’t be seen until you were at  least 8 weeks along. I wanted to get in early because I felt I was further along than I though. I wasn’t sure if it was because this was my third pregnancy OR I was further along because, I swear guys, I could feel this lil tadpole move around! I got in and it finds out I was further along by 2 weeks and was able to see a midwife a bit sooner. The pregnancy itself was another uneventful one but the main difference this time was that we were team green! I decided to go through with it this time because I had caved with Claire and with some hesitation from Dan, I added in that it would be motivation for me at birth because he’d be gone. That was the best decision I made because it really did get met through it all and it was a fun experience. Not knowing what sex your baby is a fun torture for everyone. Personally it was easier this time because I already had clothes for both sexes, so, why not? The whole pregnancy I was so sure it was a girl, SO SURE. Towards the end I had some 3D ultrasound photos taken to send to Dan as a surprise Christmas present. It was nice to see the baby but once I did, I started doubting my gender prediction.

As the months went by I hired a Doula, we had met a couple of times and we set up our plan. She knew Dan wouldn’t be there and it was a surprise gender birth so we added those things in the plan. Around that time I also decided, after much debate, to hire a birth photographer. Since Dan wasn’t going to be around, we didn’t have many pictures from the last two times, I was going to be alone and it was going to be the last thing on my mind, I though it would be a great thing to do. I had a mini maternity session included but decided to add in a lil family shoot as well to send him. They were difficult to wrangle but we were able to get in some shots.

I’m obsessed with how well the maternity photos turned out, especially the one of me in the gown. I was hesitant at first to wear it but I’m so glad I did!

The birth

As December approached I was hoping id be going early or on time. I went to the midwife and things were going great. I ballooned to over 200lbs and was anxiously waiting for labor pains. By the time 39 weeks hit I started to take the EPO, bounce on my birth ball and start to panic a bit about getting close to 42 weeks. Time was ticking, 40 weeks came and went, so did 41. I was done. So over being pregnant, wanting to meet my baby boy and worried about getting too close to 42 weeks so I made the decision to induce. I was scared but I had reassurance from the midwife about the procedure and I went ahead and scheduled it. On the 25th I went in and was started on a low dose of Pitocin while my mom stayed home with the kids (she came to stay for a couple of months).

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My doulas arrived after they started the drip at 8 and we started the waiting game. She ended up coming with another doula and boy am I glad she did. It made the whole day go by faster, we all clicked and just laughed the day away with conversations and jokes. I said I was going to laugh this baby out from laughing so hard. Seriously, if you’re on Pitocin just have a comedian come in during that time because it makes the whole process easier. I felt the contractions come, they got stronger and soon the laughs stopped and it became time to focus on the contractions. With Claire I had all back labor and was happy that this time I didn’t! Seriously guys, to me regular labor was NOTHING compared to back labor. Back labor is brutal, now I see the light, now I understand why and now I can fully sympathize with women who say they felt contractions down their legs. Seriously, it’s like a lightening bolt feeling but still, I’ll take that over a knife stabbing sensation in my back any day. If I could have regular labor with all my babies, I’d have more………JOKING!Transition hit around 6 I think, not sure but I stopped staring at the clock. Now, have you heard the saying “You don’t really need to push, your body will do it for you!”? Well let me tell you that’s true! I remember reading about it in an Ina May Gaskins book and was thinking that sounded crazy! I mean, your body, pushing a baby out by itself?! Yup, that’s what happened to me. During the last bit of the transition phase I felt the urge to push. My doula quickly was trying to get the midwife because she could hear me grunting. I thought it was just my body’s way of dealing with the contraction but she said “I think you’re pushing!” and yup, she was right. My body was pushing for me, it was like someone was squeezing my belly while simultaneously pushing down on it.

As soon as she came in I had 2 more pushes and he was out, so about a total of 4 pushes, she got there just in time.

IT WAS A BOY!!!

The next pictures I have are just of me making ugly cry faces Kim K. style haha. I seriously couldn’t believe I had another boy! So many emotions went through me at that moment. Sadness, joy, love, excitement, shock and loneliness. I knew Dan wasn’t there and even though the room was full of people, I was still alone. I got ahold of Dan and shared the news, he was so happy and then as is the lifestyle, we said goodbye and went back to our realities. I cut the cord, which wasn’t as tough as I though it’d be, I played with my placenta and everyone slowly cleared out of the room.

Jacob Henry was born at 8:28pm on 1/25/16 weighing 7lbs 14oz and 20 1/2in long. He was healthy, had a little kitten cry and was born with some pimples on his body. He had some slight bruising on his face from the fast delivery.

The feels

The photo below holds a special place in my heart. My nurse was checking on me but this was the moment when everything had hit me. There’s video of me crying after the birth, the feeling I had was just a feeling of OMG. I was really by myself, no family, no husband, just myself and my baby in the post partum room. So to the military wife out there about to give birth to their baby, with no family or husband around, no friends to visit you in the hospital, I am there with you in spirit. All of us who have been in your shoes are. It was the loneliest feeling I’ve ever had and I still feel it to this day. I cried in my PP room, I was exhausted and had no one to talk to besides on the phone. It’s a surreal feeling doing this on your own, it’s lonely but in the end it’s worth it.

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This little baby, this lil happy boy helped me get through the deployment, taking care of his older 3 brothers and sister and curb my post partum depression. He makes me smile everyday, love him more each day and thankful every moment I get to spend with him. Life with 4 kids is hectic but right now, in this moment of reflection, it’s all worth it.

marine corps, military life, recruiting duty, twins, Uncategorized

Update on our military life

Well ladies and gentleman, it’s been a chaotic last 2 years since I’ve updated this blog!

Our Marine life

We survived recruiting duty!

Yup, we are a success story out of the tons you hear about it being such a horrible duty. Yes it was lonely and it had it’s hardships but overall it wasn’t terrible. I’m not sure if it’s because of my attitude about it all or the fact that we just were civil with eachother heh. Anyhow, we did it. He did great on recruiting, he was able to pick up GySgt and got the Navy Commendation Medal because of recruiting! So to me, it was a successful, learning experience during our first 3 years of marriage and surviving with 3 kids. We learned a lot about each other and it strengthened our relationship. Would we go back to recruiting? NOPE, he says “No way in hell.” but we do know of many people who did go back and make a career out of it because picking up nowadays in the Marine Corps is pretty difficult. If you haven’t seen my older post you can read it here  about recruiting duty. So, if you’re just venturing out on your recruiting duty journey keep these 3 things in mind.

  1. Don’t take his being away from you personal, literally, it’s all business. They are essentially SUCKED IN this world and it takes a lot of their time so don’t think he doesn’t want to be with you. Trust me, they’d rather be home with you!
  2. Don’t dwell on the negativity of it all. There are LOTS of downsides to this duty but if you can survive recruiting duty, you can survive all sorts of things with your spouse or family.

The fleet

We got here and he was being bounced around a lot but finally settled into his new home/unit. BTW, he’s an Artilleryman so he loves to be outside and shoot his big guns. Anyways, once that was squared away they lay it on us that he’s deploying, GREAT! As a military wife, you brace yourself for the deployment, especially after coming off of RD, so that was no big surprise. When I met Dan he deployed shortly afterwards so I was familiar with the training that would take part before. He would be gone on and off training during the next year, then tack on the real thing after that’s all done. We tried to explain what was going on to the kids as much as possible but Claire was still fairly young, one years old. The boys did ok with him being gone, honestly it wasn’t too bad on them because they were so used to him being gone already with the RD schedule. In reality, he hadn’t been around much at all during those 3 years and now with him being around in between the work ups, that was the most he had been around the kids in general. The training was going smoothly, we were coming down to the end of things, starting to realize that reality was setting in and what happens? Yup, I found out I was pregnant!!! (that story will follow in another post)  Come October of 2016 he went on a MEU and we said goodbye to daddy and headed into the next 8+ months of our lives.

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For the most part the MEU was uneventful but knowing what I knew, I had my worries. Of course, he always calmed my fears and told me he wasn’t worried and everything was going to be ok! Military wives are prepared for these things, we know the dangers and the consequences of deploying but, we can’t help worrying about the “what if’s”.  My mom came to stay with me for a couple of months after the baby was born, I was just living life in our new routine.  March 2016, while washing dishes, I get the most gut wrenching call of my life.

I’m just calling to let you know I’m ok. I got to go. I love you.”

To me, that’s about the second worst call you can receive as a spouse. I was confused by the words but hearing his voice, I knew that something had happened. You don’t just get a call like that for fun, that’s the kind of call they tell you to make. Knowing that, I hopped on the computer and started looking up articles.

I had some other wives trying to get ahold of me when the news hit but they were unable to reach me. Being our first deployment as a family, as a spouse, I really understood why it’s so important to share phone numbers and information with other spouses your husband is deployed with. Looking back now, it was something I remember seeing on Army Wives, the way they came together, prayed and just comforted each other with words. We were all bonded at that moment, all waiting, talking and trying to get our minds off of it. Thank goodness Dan was safe, most of the Marines were safe but unfortunately there were injuries and a casualty. I didn’t have the pleasure to meet him in person but my husband knew him and it was an event that rocked our small arty family. RIP SSgt Cardin, you are loved and missed by many.

After that phone call the rest of the deployment dragged on but he made it home safe. We are so proud of our Marine. We are thankful everyday that we have with him and we thank god he granted us more time with him.

It has been 3 years since we’ve been here so that means our time is up and we’re moving back to California! I’m so happy we’ll be around family and for the kids to get to be around them as well. This move will be interesting and I’ll keep y’all updated on the traveling.

Our Family Life

So we made our move to NC from VA and wooooo, let me tell you that a drive with 3 young toddlers is a battle!!! What should have taken only a few hours took WAY longer because of tantrums and well, just having toddlers. No joke, we dealt with Claire screaming and crying for 5 hours because of the crying ping pong game. If you want to travel with toddlers, I highly advise otherwise! Unless of course, you’re drinking (not while YOU’RE driving 😉 ) but it’s definitely an experience for the books! Once we got here I realized that this base/town isn’t as family oriented as I though it would be. I mean, I haven’t seen this many strip clubs and bars so closely grouped together since Vegas haha. This place has grown on me a bit but I just wish this city would get with the program and please, FINISH PINEY GREEN!! If you’ve lived on Lejeune in the past 10 years, you know what I’m talking about!! So before Dan deployed I got pregnant. I literally, bawled when I took the test, even though I knew it was going to be positive. Not because I didn’t want another child (we had been tossing the idea back and forth for a while) but because I knew it was going to happen while he was gone. I found out in April 2016 and was due on Dan’s birthday so, there was another clumping of birthdays together right there because we have three in August and now three in January! Again, I’ll do another detailed post about baby #4 later. As if life wasn’t chaotic enough, we added on another and honestly, it hasn’t been too bad. The juggling part is the hardest, plus the no sleep and the lack of time for myself now but overall, it hasn’t been horrible. The kids adore him and I have to say it pulls at those heart strings of mine inside when I see them all play together and enjoy each other’s company. Having four kids under the age of five is crazy, tiring and just crazy but I love that they’ll all grow up together and they’re close in age.

 

santa.jpg

 

 

So that’s basically the last 2 years summed up!

 

Uncategorized

LONG overdue update

Wow you guys, it’s been a long time since I’ve logged on here and posted because things went crazy for a while. To summarize things up we left finished recruiting duty, left Virginia, came to North Carolina, had ANOTHER baby boy and now we just got orders to go home to California!!! I’ve been meaning to update and come back to pick up where I left off but things just go crazy, my PPD came back and went and then the baby, a deployment…..just so many things to catch up on. I’m not sure how many people will read this anymore but I want to try and catch up on everything I’ve been slacking on within the next few months!!

 

-Stefanie, the notorious procrastinator drowning in kids

babies, first time mom, identical boys, multiples pregnancy, twin pregnancy, twins, Uncategorized

World Prematurity Day

Today is World Prematurity Day and this post is to honor my preemies. Like i’ve said previously, they were born at 34 weeks, which is a “normal” ish time for twins to be born but in reality it’s stil 6 weeks, a month and a half early. Those extra 6 weeks could have given them more time to grow, if they were to have reached full term, and they probably would be normal sized kids right now. We, they, were fortunate to be born breathing on their own with minimal complications but that still doesn’t take away from them coming early. I had never heard of the March of Dimes before my experience but they were there to provide support through information and donations of clothes.

My story

I have never really written about my experience, mainly to avoid opening up old wounds and to avoid tears (like what are happening now) because I like to live in the present vs. the past, but I think it’s important to tell it so I can get it out there. We had originally scheduled my c-section date at 37 weeks, 3 days because we wanted to give them as much time in there as possible. At the moment, I didn’t fully comprehend why my Drs wanted to wait so long since the norm to deliver identicals is at 36 weeks to avoid any complications and I found myself hoping they’d come early to avoid anything like that. Well, my hope soon turned into a fast reality. I woke up the morning I ventured into my 33rd week to feeling like a bubble was coming out of me. I immediately thought “omg, a foot is coming out of my vagina!” and ran to the bathroom. As soon as I crossed that threshold into the bathroom, liquid started to drip down my leg and after pulling off everything, sitting on the toilet, a good size gush came out. I knew right away my water had broke. A couple days before after getting a pedicure with some of my old co workers, I found a small hint of blood when I wiped after going to the bathroom but since it was just that one time, I ignored it and figured it was just a normal thing. That’s when my mucous plug started to come out.

Being a FTM I was still in denial if this really was amniotic fluid, liquidy vaginal discharge or pee so I did what any rational person would do. I reached down there, wiped with my bare hand and smelled it. Yup, it was amniotic fluid, I know that because after reading up on it and seeing posts from other moms that it has a sweet smell to it. I think I sat there for a few minutes with  a few emotions flowing through: 1. excitement  2. panic  3.doom. Once it had settled in I remember thinking “oh shit, my water broke! Yaaaa………shit i’m only 33 weeks!! Omg, I don’t have anything packed for the hospital! Am I going to go into labor right now?!!!”. I patted down my underware, got up and woke Dan up. “Dan, wake up! Dan, my water broke!!!”, he was in a dead sleep so it took him a couple of seconds to realize what I had said. I could feel my hands shaking and called the on call Dr. He said to go to L&D right away so I threw a hospital bag together quickly and we were on our way. Once we got to the hospital we went to triage and I got hooked up to the monitors, she checked to make sure it was amniotic fluid and we were moved into a room. Since i was only 33 weeks they gave me the steroid shot to help develop their lungs, hooked me up to an IV and tried to stop labor. I can’t remember exactly when I saw the Dr but she said they were going to try and stop labor and keep them in for at least another week if possible but I was going to be staying at the hospital until such time. 

I ended up staying in the hospital for a week, on strict bed rest, pumped full of liquids, told to empty my bladder out as soon as I had the urge to pee and let them know if I was still leaking, which I was. After that week of ultrasounds, trips to the MFM to monitor fluid levels, taking antibiotics to avoid infection and pretty much fighting with an OB about whether my water ruptured or not, I made the final decision to take them out at 34 weeks. Although they could have potentially stayed in longer since Baby A’s fluid wasn’t too bad, I was swollen to the size of a watermelon, the MFM suggested he would take them out and I couldn’t live with myself if an infection developed and harmed my boys.

On 8/4/12, at 9:49am baby A (Evan) was born, followed by baby B (Liam) at 9:50am. I was able to kiss each on the forehead before they were taken away. Once I woke up from the surgery (they had to knock me out due to some breathing issue) I wasn’t able to see them for a few hours. It really felt like a day almost but I had to wake up, eat something and regain feeling in my legs before the nurse was able to wheel me over to the NICU. Dan was in the NICU taking pictures and spending a little time with them while I was knocked out and he showed me some pictures, I was in shock and awe. They looked big in the pictures! I didn’t even think they looked small at all and was surprised at their weights, Evan was 4lbs, 7oz and Liam weighed in at 4lbs, 13oz. Once I was was being wheeled over to the NICU I was so excited to see my boys, it was such a strange feeling to go from pregnant to empty inside in a matter of a few hours but even stranger because I couldn’t look upon the fruits of my labor. 

Seeing my boys 

Once I was wheeled into the NICU the nurses told me to wash up at least. I remember sitting there washing my hands, my husband walked over to where they were at and I was leaning over trying to take a peak at where they were. She wheeled me over to them once I was finished and parked me right in the middle of them. Once I saw how tiny they really were I just cried, even now just remembering that scene, I couldn’t help but just cry. I felt like it was my fault they were hooked up to these machines but happy I could finally look at my babies. I was looking Evan over first while Dan was with Liam and he looked just perfect, perfectly shaped, perfect hands and feet and he was just PERFECT. I rolled myself over to look at Liam, feeling bad for leaving Evan and cried again because Liam had to have an IV inserted into his scalp since his veins were so tiny. They were both fast asleep, just laying there peacefully while I sat there and cried, still in a daze of disbelief, sadness and just felt so helpless. The nurse came over with a tissue and began to talk about the boys to me. Thankfully they were breathing on their own so no oxygen was needed and after their Pediatrician looked them over, she said they were healthy boys, just premature so they would need to stay there until at least 35 weeks. If everything continued to go well, they gained weight and were feeding fine they could come home! We left after about a half hour or so, I was just feeling out of it and felt so helpless to be in there with them but I also knew I need to start pumping to get milk to them ASAP. For the next 2 days I saw them every couple of hours, I was back and forth between my room pumping, resting and trying to have everything sink in. The day we left the hospital was rough, needless to say but I knew they had to stay to get better and provide care for them that I just couldn’t do at that time. I continued to go back and forth from the hospital to home but slowly I stopped going as often since I was feeling tired and depressed. I remember crying nearly every single day, multiple times a day and having those emotions just drag me down. To go to the hospital with two babies inside of you only to leave having none of them with you is the worst feeling i’ve ever experienced. It’s a surreal yet gut wrenching feeling and I just spent those weeks crying because my babies weren’t at home with me. I remember reading online about how others who had theirs around that time were home snuggling, kissing and complaining about theirs just made me yearn for mine. I felt anger and resentment to those who complained about anything related to their newborns, I felt such envy because I wasn’t able to experience a normal full term pregnancy and now, I had no newborns. The next couple of weeks the boys ate what milk I was able to pump but since it wasn’t enough for both, they had to supplement and slowly they started to gain weight.

The days seemed like weeks and my reality of it all felt dark, gloomy and just very emotional. I remember my husband trying to comfort me at times, along with my mother, saying that they were better off at the hospital. While I knew in my mind this was true, it made me cry even more because I knew they belonged at home with me, they needed me, I could take care of them. It felt like no one truly knew how I felt, and they didn’t, but I felt withdrawn and distant from them. I reached out to other preemie moms and soon realized everything I was feeling was normal because they were going through the same things. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only one, even though I knew I wasn’t because I had been talking with the other moms in their NICU about it. One couple had been in the hospital for a month already, their boy was born at 24 weeks and was slowly growing. During our time there were about 3 other babies and their son was the only one still in there when we had left. I remember looking at him and thinking how lucky my boys were, even that baby because they were being taken care of in the NICU by those awesome nurses. Slowly I started to feel grateful they were there and they had nurses and Drs around 24/7.

Evan was discharged 2 weeks later followed by Liam at 3 weeks. It’s funny how I had waited for that moment for what seemed like an eternity but once the day came to take them home, I became scared. They had been away from me for 2 and 3 weeks and I wasn’t sure if I could do it without their help. Once we came home it was great, hectic, but great. I finally felt complete, I finally felt like a mom. Leaving one behind at the hospital and having the other home was still an adjustment but it was a far cry from having no babies in the house. Luckily my mom had flown in to help out so she was able to watch Evan while I went to the hospital to see Liam. We had a rough couple of days and nights, the boys had reflux issues so I was terrified of choking, breastfeeding was very rough and I mainly resorted to pumping because they never did latch correctly. Through the adjustments and hard times things slowly got better and the boys have grown into what they are today. I can never fully put into words the emotions that I felt during those weeks but I can say now, when I see pictures of parents in the NICU with their babies, I have a new found appreciation for their strength and that baby’s fight to stay alive. My boys gave me the gift of being their mother and i’m blessed in so many ways to have my miracle babies. They made it from the splitting of the egg, to me carrying them in my womb for as long as possible to being there as they grew in the NICU. I love my fighters and am so blessed to call them mine.

seeing Liam

 

Evan

Liam

babies, pregnancy, Uncategorized

Pregnant after twins and my birth plans

I know i’m not the only one in the world to have had a baby after twins but boy does it feel like it! Since having the boys as my first pregnancy, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect since I didn’t know of anyone personally who had twins for their first. So, I thought i’d do an update on how things are going this round because I was always so curious and anxious to know how different it would be having one baby vs. two in there. Plus, if this can calm some fears or curiosity for another FTM of twins whose planning on having more, hey, glad to help!

First trimester:

With twins-

I had it pretty easy with the boys, mainly because I guess my body was just built for breeding and because since it was my first, everything was intact and in shape. I had been working out right before I got pregnant, decent ab strength and living on the 4th floor at the time, I was getting plenty of exercise. I had only threw up a handful of times and my nausea was mainly the kind you got between meals. Overall, the first trimester was a breeze!!

With one baby-

Since I think because i’m having a girl, I had more nausea this time. Although I haven’t thrown up at all, I did have a lot more of it but orange juice or drinking water would make it go away. I also had bad FATIGUE!!! I’m not sure if it was just because of the pregnancy or taking care of two kids this time but I was always exhausted. Seriously, like laying on the floor trying to nap while they were climbing over me exhausted! I also had a lot of round ligament pain early on, something I didn’t have any problems with the first time but since it’s not my first rodeo, I figured that’s why. Another thing I found amazing/weird was I felt her wiggle around in there very early on, like, 12 weeks early on. Some people may call that crazy and say “Oh no, that wasn’t the baby, are you stupid? You were feeling gas, that’s all.” but i’m telling you, it felt like a fish was swimming in there. It didn’t happen too often but it definitely was something because I would only feel it when concentrating at night while laying in bed.

Second trimester:

With twins-

This is where I had a lot of round ligament pain and I could feel my abdominal muscles being ripped apart. They were moving around a lot by this time, lots of kicks and rolls but towards the end of the trimester, it was mainly just rolling and cervix kicks. My appetite, as I have said previously, was ravenous and that part was slightly enjoyable. Ok, it was really enjoyable because I didn’t have to worry about calories too much and after reading up on twin diet and protein needs, I scarfed down every burger I could get my hands on. Needless to say my diet wasn’t great but hey, when you’re hungry, EAT! By the end of this trimester my belly was pretty large but never felt totally uncomfortable, maybe because of my body frame but I really felt like I was made to carry twins. Some cruel joke being played on me, that sort of thing.

With one baby-

I FELT HUGE, yup, i’ve felt huge as soon as my belly started to grow out. Totally irrational, I know, how could you feel bigger than when you had twins?! I seriously felt, and still feel, huge and bigger than I was with the boys. Looking at pictures there is a difference but I guess with my body already knowing where to stretch, that’s why I felt like that. My energy came back in this trimester and i had a brief period of “nesting” that was quickly squashed by the reality of my life. The boys were going through growth spurts and with their birthday, this is the trimester where I really lost track of time and how fast it had been going! Overall, feeling fine during this time but as it closed I really was starting to feel tired. I also haven’t really had any appetite, maybe it’s a girl thing but i’ve had to sneak and squeeze in meals when I haven’t felt up to eating them. I have tried to be better about eating this time though and exercising but with the losing track of time and trying to remember now to take it too hard, I let a lot of days go without working out. I will say though, I have felt her move during this trimester A LOT more than I did with the boys. It has to be because she’s not squished in there but I still find it funny that she’s so active compared to what I felt with them.

Third trimester:

With twins-

I didn’t make it too far into this trimester but I do remember the swelling I was getting with all the weight from the boys. Other than that, I was still feeling good, moving around even while on bed rest but my belly was making sleeping difficult.

With one baby-

Not too far into this trimester but I can feel the fatigue coming back, especially with the boys on the move now I see why veteran moms are tired when they’re pregnant with kids to watch. Her kicks and jabs have started to slow down into more rolling actions but we’ve found out she’s head down! She better stay that way too!

Now, this is where it may get weird for some who are at this point. Since having the boys i’ve become more “crunchy”, meaning i’ve started to do things the more natural way. With the boys I could have had a vaginal birth if baby A was head down but since they decided to flip at the last minute, I had a c-section. When I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to go for a NUCB (natural unmedicated child birth) VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) and in order to do that I would have to prepare not only mentally but physically as well. Hence why I’ve been TRYING to eat better and exercise more in order to prepare my body for the labor ahead. Dan was not on board with the no medication thing because he doesn’t want to see me in pain so I knew then I would look into hiring a doula. For those who don’t know what a doula is they act as a coach, someone who advocates your wants and needs to the nurses/Drs and is there to help coach you through labor. I have been seeing a midwife for this pregnancy but I know that she won’t be able to be there all the time so having a doula there with me, coaching me through the hard parts, was something I would need. Now that i’m in my 3rd trimester I have met with one and am in the process of hiring her (paperwork, contracts, fees) and I couldn’t be more excited! She is a military spouse who is working on her DONA certification so her services are at a discounted rate due to that. I’m all for helping someone further their education so she was a great candidate along with wanting to help out a military spouse, why not! We’ve met with her and both like her, PLUS she has had her babies delivered by my midwife and has worked with her practice in the past, how cool is that?!!! So now I feel completely at ease with this process and I am excited to share my experience with you all.

Birth plans

For the really weird part I was telling you about, this time, I’m planning on eating my own placenta *cue crickets*. While this sounds totally disgusting and sounds like something you’d only see on national geographic, it’s actually a really neat thing to look into, seriously. Let me explain why I plan on doing this: With the boys I had PPD, mild but nevertheless, PPD. It’s definitely something I want to avoid this time and eating your placenta can help with that. It can also help with milk production, help to contract your uterus, level out hormones and has an overall affect on your mood, plus, it’s completely natural! If you’re into the natural stuff then this is the ticket for you. Granted, I didn’t do this with the boys since it totally grossed me out then, but I have talked to others who did and they swear by it, even my doula. She shared her own experience with it and tells me her clients rave about it. I will link some info at the end about placenta encapsulation but as gross as it sounds, I’m totally excited to eat it haha. It’s not like i’m going to cook it on the grill and tear into it like a steak, I promise! You actually can steam/boil it, dehydrate it and put it into pills to take that way but there is also tinctures you can do with parts of it (I don’t plan on doing this because it just sounds like too much for me).

So there you have it, an update about my pregnancy so far and my birth plans. While I have been reading some books on the process, along with breastfeeding, I know it’s going to be a ride. It’s quite scary actually since I wasn’t able to go through labor with the boys and now, I have no idea what to expect but I feel completely confident I can do this with my husband and doula by my side. If you’ve had a natural birth and would like to share your story with me or comment, please do!

Now, for some pictures!!

Baby #3

This is just a glimpse of the belly difference between two vs. one at 32 weeks in each photo

Tomorrow is a big milestone for me, i’ll be 33 weeks and hoping I don’t get woken up by that bulging water feeling! *crosses fingers*

Links to doulas, placenta encapsulation, midwifery:

Doula information

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doula

http://www.dona.org/mothers/why_use_a_doula.php

http://parentables.howstuffworks.com/health-wellness/why-hiring-doula-for-birth-is-good-idea.html

http://www.dona.org/mothers/find_a_doula.php

 

Placenta encapsulation info

http://placentabenefits.info/articles.asp

http://www.placentawise.com/research-studies-supporting-placenta-encapsulation/

Blog post about placenta encapsulation- http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2011/10/the-benefits-of-placenta-encapsulation-for-postpartum-healing.html

DIY placenta encapsulation

http://www.justmommies.com/pregnancy/postpartum/placenta-encapsulation-instructions-benefits-and-reasons-to-give-it-try

http://www.alternative-mama.com/placenta-encapsulation/

 

Midwifery/Midwives info

http://www.midwife.org/WhatIsAMidwife

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midwifery

http://parenting.allwomenstalk.com/pros-and-cons-of-midwives-vs-doctors

http://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/labor-delivery/ob-or-midwife

http://www.midwife.org/rp/find.cfm

 

 

 

 

 

 

babies, first time mom, identical boys, military life, multiples pregnancy, twin pregnancy, twins

I have survived my first year as a mother of twins!

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Well, I’ve survived! It has been one hell of a hectic, crazy, tiresome, tear filled, sleepless nights, mud butt filled, blur of a year. Since I was so busy attempting to plan this EPIC birthday party I had envisioned in my head, I didn’t fully get to sink into reality until I was sitting there, crying after their party. It was a bittersweet moment and a semi truck full of memories hit me at that moment. Even though the year has been hectic, I’ve loved every single moment of it because I’ve been able to do this, with the semi help of my husband, on my own and the thought of doing that years ago would have TERRIFIED me!

There have definitely been challenges in my journey of raising twins and I’m proud to say I’ve overcome those challenges by just winging it!! That’s the first piece of advice I can give a new mom of twins, just wing it and go with the flow!!! Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts, even if you’ve never had them before, your “motherly instincts” will kick in without you even realizing it. Sure, freaking out at the thought of breastfeeding twins, taking them out by yourself, how to put them to bed, how to feed them, do you change them at the same time, what’s if one wakes up the other and all the other MILLIONS of questions you have running through your mind will scare you but

YOU.CAN.DO.THIS.

Seriously, I’m not saying that to be some kind of motivational speaker, I’m telling you because I’ve done it. Having no family nearby, having a husband who I only see for 2 hours M-F and a total of 16 hours on the weekends, having friends who are 2+ hours away and really knowing no one in a new town, I’ve done it. The thoughts of it all are scarier than the actual reality. You work yourself up over what about this, or that, or what’s if this happens or that but you seldom get to just enjoy the experience.

So, here is my advice to you, pregnant twin mom or any new mom who finds themselves away from a support system.

1. Prepare as much as you can. For those pregnant with twins, I made this previous post about my personal preferences to twin necessities here.

2. Document your pregnancy with pictures. Now, nothing special, just plain old weekly pictures of your growing belly. At that moment you may not feel that nostalgic about pregnancy but trust me, you will look back on those pictures and cherish them. I honestly wish I had taken more weekly ones because I’m still amazed at how two fit in there!

3. Take parenting advice from BTDT (been there done that) moms with a grain of salt. Everyone’s experiences differ due to the type of person you are and what kind of baby you will have! I was lucky to have fairly easy guys but again, luck.

4. Don’t beat yourself up about your weight gain (if that’s something that bothers you). Being pregnant with twins, you’ll see the scale numbers jump to numbers you NEVER imagined possible. Yes, it’s very scary and it’s tempting to put back that piece of chocolate cake but seriously, you’re going to gain it no matter what. Granted, some don’t gain too much due to morning sickness but you’re going to gain a fair amount of weight AND it will take up to a year or more to lose all of it. I lost mine within that first month BUT it took almost a year for my body to shrink back down to size, even with moderate exercise.

5. If you have no one to lean on for support besides your husband, write it out or call family! Ok, so I’m a bit guilty of not calling my mom as much as I should have but seriously starting this blog has helped me. It’s been therapeutic and you don’t have to start a blog, write things down in a journal. It really helps to get your frustrations out there instead of holding it in.

7. Pictures, pictures, pictures. Whatever it is of them, take it, trust me.

6. TRY TO ENJOY THESE MOMENTS. I know, I know, people say it all the time, but as a freshly new mom, you don’t realize you haven’t until that year has passed.

That’s all I can think of at the moment, i’ll come and update if I do think of more since pregnancy brain has hit me hard this time around. For now, that’s what would be my top things to tell a new mom, especially one of twins.

So for their birthday party, remember that monster theme I was going for? Well, that’s, I guess, a rookie mistake I’ve made being a FTM haha, I planned to do too much and had no time to do anything really! I ran myself ragged trying to plan this Pinterest worthy birthday party, HAH! What a fool, to try to plan that while taking care of two babies and no help? Yea, that was a set up for failure kind of thing heh. I did manage to do a couple of touches but it was nowhere near what I wanted to accomplish. They didn’t seem to notice but the day went well and I was able to have some family and friends with us who have been there through this journey. Like I said, it didn’t hit me really until after everyone had left. I stood there, looking at the mess I needed to clean up, family was outside talking and Dan was inside with me while the boys were playing. I looked at them, looked at the mess, looked at Dan and just started crying. I can’t believe my babies, my babies who came 2 weeks earlier than expected, who were 6 weeks premature were finally 1. I just held Dan and cried, he asked me why I was crying and I just told him “I just can’t believe it’s been a year, a year of all this. A year I’ll never get back and I don’t feel like I got to enjoy it like I should have.”. He looks at me, touches my belly and says “Don’t worry, we’ll get to enjoy it all over again with this one!”. He said it with just the right tone and I just had to laugh, he was right. That first year was a blur, but you know what, it makes enjoying those moments that much more special because I get to appreciate them this time around, with her. Oh, did I forget to mention??

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We are completely blessed to have not only healthy baby boys, but now God has blessed us with our baby girl for our last. I am THRILLED and Dan is terrified hehe. Besides that good news I’ll take you down memory lane with some pictures of the boy’s first year of life.

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7 months- March