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

 

 

 

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, 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

babies, first time mom, multiples pregnancy, twin pregnancy, twins, ultrasound

Happy half birthday to my little guys!

I though i’d celebrate their belated half birthday with a memory. It still seems like yesterday I found out I was having twins! From the moment we found out until today, I still can’t believe they’re mine and that there are two, it’s still so bizarre to me. This is something I wrote the day after finding out we were expecting not one, but two. Hope you enjoy a giggle!

So I had my first appointment yesterday and I was both nervous and excited to finally see someone and make sure everything was ok. Saw the midwife and it was a pretty uneventful appointment due to just a routine questioning and going over history, etc. but when it came up on the subject of testing I wanted to see if i could still do the NT scan. For one so I could see my baby because they wouldn’t do an ultrasound until 20 weeks and two, so I could see if there were any potential problems. Well after the appointment at the radiology place i’m very glad I opted for the scan!
So they told me to chug as much water as possible and rush over to the lab so they could fit me in before they closed. Drank about a liter of water in the car, called up the hubs to see if he could make it but he couldnt and arrived at the place. Went in, sat down and waited in anticipation for the ultrasound. Needless to say I was the last one in the room waiting and just kept eyeballing the door out of the corner of my eye while trying to keep calm and hide my excitement! Finally she came in and called me in, changed into a gown, drew some blood and she placed me in the room for the scan..
I was sitting in there wanting to scream out of excitement! I kicked my feet, smiled ear to ear, looked up at the screen where I assumed i would see my LO and looked over the equipment just waiting for someone to walk in to put tha gel on my belly and take a look! In walks the tech and she wasn’t too happy i showed up almost at closing time. I cant quite remember her exact words but they were something along the line of hoping its just a normal scan, everything is fine, no surprises and we can get out of here on time. Ignoring her out of excitement I said thats fine, i understand and laid back for the scan. She put the gel and probe on my belly and moves it around, BAM I can see a little circle of what resembles a head and I instantly smile. I’m overcome with joy that i never thought I would experience! Not at any of my birthdays, not at graduations, not at any surprises not even the day of my court wedding had I felt so happy as I did in that flash of seeing that sweet, sweet head!! She moves the probe more and says “Is that? Yup, twins. That means we’re going to be here a while.” Me, “W-what?” and I just covered my mouth in shock, I thought she had made a mistake! She picks up the phone “Yea……yea its twins” and hangs up. As soon as I hear her repeat it I INSTANTLY start crying. It was a mix of joy/surprise/shock/happiness/excitement/scared feelings all at once and I just held my hand over my mouth for the rest of the appointment laughing and crying. I could NOT believe what she had just said, TWINS?!!! Oh my god, i’m having twins, me, ME!!
From there on she started to measure the first one. She mentioned if I wanted to know what I was having and without thinking i said “sure if you can tell already”. She said it looked like a boy and again with the smiles and the crying. She couldn’t get a look at the other one too well so she just got measurements of whats she could. “4oz each and measuring at 15 weeks” she said, “Its too late for the NT check but at least we could guess at the sex”. So for the next hour or so she measured, scanned, noted measurements, printed pictures and put two video clips and pictures on a DVD for me and off I went still in shock and awe.
After getting to the car I just sat in silence. I still coulnd’t believe what just happened and what I saw and that there were really two babies moving around on the tv. That’s one moment i’ll never forget for the rest of my life. I got on the phone and called my mom to tell her the news and she was a mix of excited/shocked as well. I cried when i told her and I could tell she was too but more happy.
Yup, i’m having twins. Still in shock even the next day but not i’m flooded with TONS of other emotions. How the eff did this happen? My dad jinxed me! He joked that I would have twins and of course just laughed it off and said it would be a cruel joke from god lol but i’ll be damned if that man didnt jinx me!!! I mean, I think it was, my grandmother’s sister on my dad’s side had twins but no one else had any! My half brother and sister didnt have any so I just thought there was a slim to no chance of me having twins. I would have a normal, just one baby, pregnancy and I would do it naturally, no drugs and have a nice little start for my family but that aint happening now!! Don’t get me wrong i’m thrilled on the inside but on the outside i’m walking around like a zombie deer in headlights still not believing what I went through and heard yesterday!
I’ve always wanted at least two kids but preferably 4 so now that i’m knockin out 2 this time i’ll get pregnant one more time (hopefully not twins again heh) then i’ll be done!! Now as I think about it more I can’t help but think about all the negative nancy’s that will share their stories with me “oh, you say you want 4 kids but just wait until you have these!” “you’re going to think twice about having another after these!” “you say that now”. Really? Shut your pie hole, I really dont care to hear your war stories unless I specifically ask you about them thank you 🙂 I’ve already heard it from some people and catch me on a bad day, I wont be nice about my reply! You should know by now i’m not like the regular person or chick and how i handle things is WAY different from how you would handle things, trust me! So this just serves as a warning/plea not to tell me that shit because as i’m smiling at you i’m really telling you that you’re an idiot and you don’t tell expectant mothers that shit unless they ask you 🙂

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Check out that drool action shot!
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One of the ultrasounds from that day, but one of THE ones to determine there were two in there.
babies, baby gear, multiples pregnancy, registry, twin pregnancy, twins

The bare twin necessities

16880992.1So, now that i’m *ahem* 6 months experienced into all of this I’ve gained a sense of what’s needed and what’s not. Now, I know all babies are different but I will say to new twin moms, BUYING TWO OF EVERYTHING IS NOT NECESSARY JUST BECAUSE THEY’RE TWINS!! If you’re thinking of getting something, get one and see if they like it because usually one will love it and the other wont. I will share a list of what I have for the boys.

Baby Gear

  • 2 bouncy chairs- I only have two because I received one that was a hand me down, liked it so I bought another one. They did both like it but now, they can’t be in it for too long or else they start getting fussy.
  • 1 diaper backpack- I got this one and it’s been working out great so far. Very glad I got a backpack instead of a regular bag because it leaves my hands free and holds a lot of stuff.
  • 2 cribs- This was a must for us because I didn’t want to room with them, I didn’t want to go through the whole crib transition so we decided to have them in their own cribs from the start.
  • 2 camera monitors- This was another must because they were preemies and they were in their own rooms, I wanted to keep an eye on them without having to constantly walk back and forth at every cry. These are great because now I can keep an eye on them while i’m doing other things around the house during nap time.
  • 1 changing table- I know some people will say they’re a waste of money but for us, a dresser wouldn’t fit so this worked perfectly and I can store all their cloth diapers there and I change them when they’re in there.
  • 1 pack n play- We have this down in the living room where they spend the day. We didn’t get the one with a bassinet or the twin one, too much money and I figure we’d only get minimal use out of it so, we got a cheap one. This one has two different heights so we can adjust it as they get older, it’s great for naps especially after adding more padding.
  • 1 bumbo- Again, only buy one, just to see if your babe likes it. We got one as a hand me down and i’m glad I didn’t buy one because one likes it and one hates it, but they both can’t stand being in it for too long because they just don’t look comfortable. But if you do get one, get it with a tray, it’s great to put toys for them to play with as they get older.
  • 1 summer infant activity chair– This thing, is great but the one we got is a bit flimsy and comes apart easily (we fixed that with duct tape, ghetto handy man!) but they still love it. I will be getting another one because they just love the toys on there, luckily they both like it! I will sit one in the bumbo and one next to this and they can both play with the toys on there.
  • 1 high chair- Now, I will be getting another one because we will be moving soon and I’ll have more space to put it. Otherwise, i’ve seen those booster chairs that strap onto an existing chair, which is great if you’re tight on space but I like the one I got so i’ll get get another.
  • 2 Boppy pillows- If you’re going to be alone feeding the babies, two of these are seriously great. If not a Boppy, there is also this one which I have; 1 Boppy, and 1 of the leach-co. They also serve for breastfeeding but I use these to feed them in, its great.
  • 1 nursing pillow- I have the my breast friend twin nursing pillow and that thing was GREAT! Definitely recommend that but unfortunately, I couldn’t breastfeed very long (only 3 months) because they never did get a good latch so I pumped. When we were in the process of trying, the pillow was awesome because it supported both and I could tandem feed with no problem.
  • 1 swing- I only have one of these because the neighbor gave it to us. They both like it, but its one of those things where they can’t stand it for too long so I’m glad I never had to buy one and glad we only have one!
  • 2 car seats- We got two infant car seats because after reading the advice from other seasoned moms with twins, it was a must. Especially when they’re young and if they’re preemies, its hard to take them out and put them in a carrier or a stroller and if you have to wake them up, you may have a fussy baby on your hands. I still have them in these and use the two car seats when I go out to the store: one in the basket and one in the seat area.
  • 1 double snap n go- This goes along with the above requirement, it’s cheap, light and travels well. Just pop them in it and go! The only thing that sucks about it is that its hard to turn; I call it my stretch limo.
  • 1 Combi twin sport double stroller- I just recently got this from a craigslist add because they’re getting older and the snap n go would be too hard to maneuver as they got heavier. This is a side by side stroller and so far, it’s working out perfectly!
  • 1 jogging stroller- This is great if you’re planning on jogging or going on long walks that don’t always have paved roads. I was originally going to buy the Baby Trend double jogging stroller but I bought a BOB dualie from a yard sale ad, and SO GLAD I got the BOB!! I wasn’t planning on getting it at first because, come on, they’re like $600!! So I really scored  on it and got it for $250 practically brand new.
  • Toys- It’ll depend on your babes and what they like but they didn’t have any interest in toys until they were about 4 months old, but those balls that they can easily grasp are what they like best. They’re not even into teething toys so I’m glad I didn’t get a lot of those.
  • Bottles- Depending on how you plan to feed your baby (breastfeed or formula) will determine how many you will need. I mainly pumped so having bottles was a must. I have a total of about 14 bottles but about 4 of those I don’t use now since they only went up to 6oz. The ones I still use are: Playtex drop in liner bottles, Playtex Ventaire, Dr Browns and Tommee Tippee.
  • Pacifier clips- These are great because when you’re driving alone with both, it’s easier to find their paci without having to scramble around feeling for them.
  • 1 formula Pitcher- I have the Dr. Brown pitcher.
  • Colic Calm/Gas Drops- These are great to just have on handy period!
  • 1 jumperoo- We bought only one to see how it went over with them. Evan LOVES the jumper but Liam has yet to figure it out so for now, one will do.
  • 40 bibs- We have close to that, TONS of bibs which we mainly got all second hand. They go through these like crazy, about 4-6 in a day so with laundry being done lazily, once a week, those bibs come in handy!

Clothes/Nursery Gear

  • Sleepers- Especially if you’re on the east coast during winter like I am, these are great. I have plenty up until 9 months so these are ones that i’m very grateful for having tons of. We use them mainly at night but on a cold day, I can use up to 3 for each lil guy.
  • Onesies- If you’re in warmer weather, get a lot of these. From the blowouts, to spitting up to starting solids, you’re going to be changing them a lot. Honestly, if there is a lil throw up on the onesie, it’s fair game to stay in it, unless its soaked or really gross.
  • Blankets- These we all got as gifts so I think we have a total of 8? I don’t use them all so i’d say maybe 4 would suffice.
  • Pants- I have about 15 different kinds, mainly put these on them when we go out.
  • Shoes- I have about 5 pairs just for kicks because, a baby with shoes is just cute!
  • Hats- Now that it’s winter I put them on but not too often.
  • Socks- Lots of pairs, especially since its cold now
  • Crib sheets- We only have fitted sheets but we change these often so have those.
  • 2 changing table covers- That does it for us.
  • 2 swaddle sleep sacks- FANTASTIC invention, definitely have those handy. If you can, buy 2 for each, just in case they pee through them or throw up.
  • 4 regular sleep sacks- For after they outgrow the swaddle ones.

So with everything we have, laundry piles up but since we have lots, I can do laundry once a week if i’m feeling really lazy. A lil off tangent here but for diapers, we went through about 8-10 a day in the beginning and now, about 4 each a day, more if they poo.

There you have it, that’s my personal list of what you should have with twins. I didn’t need as much as I thought I would luckily because we have limited space in the place we’re renting now. They have tons of fancy gadgets out on the market but I didn’t even bother with all of it because i’m a minimalist. I hope that helps anyone out there!

Bonus: Here is a link for mom’s of multiples to sign up to receive free stuff!! You usually send proof of your babes birth to these companies and they’ll send you samples and coupons and what not. If you’re formula feeding, it’s really great because you get free cans of formula!