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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Twin and life update

So, these past few months have just been a whirlwind of new milestones, concerns and Dr appointments.

Recruiting life update

So, in March we moved to our new place to be closer to his new office and it took us about a month to unpack and go through things. Well, that’s a lie because things are still in boxes 3 months later ;). I do have some good news though, WE HAVE LESS THAN ONE YEAR LEFT ON RECRUITING DUTY!!!! OMG I cannot wait to be done with this crap and move on, seriously. Dan has to re-up in August so soon after, or earlier, we should find out where our next duty station will be.

Twin update

Oh man, time is flying by with these two! They are 10 1/2 months and now have mastered crawling, pulling to stand, crawling to sit and they are starting to work on their stepping and climbing. Oh, did I mention they’re 10 1/2 months so that means they’ll be a year old in less than 2 months??!!!! That’s crazy to me, absolutely crazy, but i’m looking forward to their “little monsters” themed birthday I have planned! Besides those milestones, they’ve been on track for their actual age so far, except, their speech. We had a late 6 month appointment for them, due to the move, at 9 months so I was talking to their Pediatrician about their speech. At that time they were on track still with physical milestones but they really weren’t babbling much. I mean, they’re quiet, besides the grunting and sort of yelling at random moments, these guys were pretty quiet. We talked about how they weren’t saying any consonants and she said that the state had an early intervention program that she would put in a referral for. At first  I regretted mentioning it but I figured what could it hurt to have  them evaluated? So in May someone came to do a short eval on them to see if they needed a further, in depth eval with a speech therapist. She went through the questions about their development and speech, observed them and she agreed with me that they should be making more of an effort to make sounds by now. We made an appointment to do an eval with the speech therapist and sure enough, they qualify for the program. They’re by no means a severe case but they do need some help/encouragement to get them going so as we do sessions with them, I will do another post about that stuff.

Just recently they’ve started to babble (go figure) but she is still going to come and work with them at the same time, we start that next week actually.

Life update

Besides the stuff above, life is going pretty well actually. The PPD I was experiencing seemed to dissipate on its own, which leads to believe me it was a mix of a bit of PPD and SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I’d say it really started to go away once we moved into our new place, seriously. I’m thinking it’s because this place is a lot bigger, has more windows so it lets in more light and it feels more like a house instead of a tiny apartment. With me feeling better, seeing the boys get older and knowing we were leaving recruiting duty in the next year, Dan and I started talking about baby #3! We were going back and forth between too soon and let’s wait. Well, I ran out of my birth control, couldn’t find the extra and told him “I guess we’ll see what happens!”. What happened was I got pregnant!!!!!!!!!!!! Yup, we are adding another member to our family January 2014! I’ve been  called crazy, been asked a million questions, but the one I’ve been happy to answer is THERE IS ONLY ONE BABY IN THERE!! We announced after we had our first ultrasound and I wanted to announce it in a unique way. Since most of my family and friends are on the west coast, FB was the best way to tell everyone there, we had told my mom  when she came to visit. So, I came up with this:

I personally think, it’s brilliant ;), mainly because I’ve seen the same ole pregnancy announcements over and over so I just wanted to do something “clever”.  We are excited and we’ve decided to go team green (not finding out the sex) because this is, 99% sure, our last child. I’m tapped out after this one, I want my body back and my booze so this is it. I’m working on getting normal internet, stupid Verizon, so I can keep up with everything.

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Unexpected hiatus

Hey everyone who pays attention to me :),

Sorry for the sudden drop in activity. We moved back in March and shamefully, we don’t have real internet yet :(. I’ve been attempting to make a post from my phone but it doesn’t want to cooperate with me. I’ve FINALLY been able to get on a computer here at the in law’s place so I decided to write this. I have TONS AND TONS to update on so i’m itching to get the internet up and running. So once that is done, expect a flood of catch up posts.

-Stefanie

babies, first time mom, identical boys, multiples pregnancy, SAHM, twins

Twins? You must feel so lucky!

I’ve been wanting to do a post on this for a while now and feel like it’s about the right time now that I’ve gotten some experience under my belt. I get that statement a lot and I always feel really awkward when people say it, especially as a first time mom, mainly because in a way, I don’t feel so lucky. Let me give you a little background on what’s been going on.

Obviously these are my first babies, like i’ve said previously, but i’ve been battling some issues since their birth, mainly PPD. I had read that women who are pregnant with multiples, tend to experience a higher rate of PPD but since I was feeling “ok”, aside from the normal feelings of the NICU experience and stress, I brushed them off as normal feelings. Well, it had finally reached the point where a lot of those feelings weren’t going away. Yes, having twins is stressful and yes, doing it mainly alone is as well but I always have had that “suck it up” attitude and have depended heavily on that to get me through the rough times.These feelings have lingered and I came to the conclusion I have, at least, mild PPD with a mix of anxiety and stress. My symptoms are the always sad, secluding myself from others, avoiding family and friends, feeling helpless, not feeling connected, not feeling like their mother, crying a lot, feeling like i’m playing a babysitting role, resenting them and having some scary thoughts. By scary thoughts, I mean wanting to shove a pillow over their faces to stop them from crying, those kinds and yes, very scary! While I know I would never do anything to physically harm my babies, I did find myself handling them a little rougher than normal (nothing like shaken baby or hitting) but just not holding them gently as I was doing before. So, I finally figured out what was going on and decided to see my Dr about it, this was last week.

I went to see her and as the nurse brought me into the room and asked me what I was here for, I immediately burst into tears. She gave me some tissues and I finally admitted it to a stranger, “I think I have PPD” and continued with the crying. She sympathized because she had gone through the same thing and said “I’m glad you came in, it’s hard to admit you need help.”. She asked me a series of questions and the Dr came in to talk to me more. Through more tears and telling her what I was feeling, she immediately had me talk to the nurse practitioner that specializes in mental health. I talked to her for about an hour just venting and going over my symptoms more in detail and she recommended some medication and to talk to a psychiatrist to evaluate me more.

So that’s what i’ve been doing for the past week or so, besides being involved in the process of moving. I wanted to bring up the PPD because it’s something that is known about, talked about and you’ve heard about other mom’s having it but it’s something you never really want to admit you might have or think that it’ll happen to you. I’m here to say ladies, mom’s, husbands with wives having similar problems, friends of moms and so forth, if you’re not feeling “normal” and just not yourself, do yourself a favor and see your Dr about the symptoms you’re having. What’s the worst that can happen, your Dr says your feeling normal stress and to try some relaxing techniques! The psychiatrist and nurse I talked to said a lot of the things I was telling them were normal, yes, even the shoving a pillow over their faces!! I was a bit shocked at their feedback but at the same time felt a whole lot better knowing I wasn’t just crazy and what I’ve been feeling is legitimate.

So, explaining that brings me to what I was going to talk about. When I was talking to the psychiatrist I mentioned that I feel a lot of guilt/anger/jealousy/resentment towards other mom’s when they tell me this because I don’t feel lucky! No, I wouldn’t change anything in the world for my boys, I love them, but I ENVY mom’s with one baby. Seriously. I say that because as rewarding as it is to have double the smiles and giggles everyday, it’s not only stressful but it leaves you with a sense of guilt. I can’t focus all my time on one baby, I constantly have to split my time between the two and as a first time mom, I feel guilty about that. When I got pregnant, I imagined a world with only one baby that I could shower with love, take care of, smother with hugs and kisses and just solely focus on them to help with their development and so forth, but I can’t. That’s where the guilt/resentment/jealousy comes in towards moms with only one baby. I really wanted to have one, then another year or so later have another but i’ll never get to have that now. Yes, I did get to knock out two babies at once but most days I can’t help to feel like i’m failing them, it’s probably the PPD talking, but I do. But as I feel those things I do feel lucky in a sense that i’m not totally obsessed with them, meaning freaking out about them constantly because I can’t give them my undevided attention. I hear/read about mom’s freaking out over the little things with their babies, granted most of them are first time moms and this is where I understand the experience comes in with moms of more than one, but i’m thankful i’m not like that! I really, don’t freak out about them that much, I don’t worry constantly about them because there are two so I can’t focus solely on that one specific item, make sense? In a way, I already feel like a seasoned mom and I know that feeling will only strengthen with time but I do yearn for that feeling in a way, of the first time mom. Maybe it’s due to my laid back personality but I tend to laugh when I read about moms worrying about small things.

So, do I feel lucky? In a way yes and no. I feel lucky that I have two healthy babies, despite being born early and that they’ll always have each other but not lucky that there are two to constantly deal with at the same time. So, I say to your mom’s of only one, I envy you! Yes I do, you only get to worry about one baby and get to snuggle with it constantly, but while you’re snuggling there peacefully with your babe, I get to worry about why Evan has Liam’s head in his mouth or worry about the dog licking their face when one throws up on the other.

cloth diapers, first time mom, twins

My cloth diapering experience

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My cloth diaper stash

Now that the boys are 6 1/2 months old, 5 adjusted, i’ve gotten used to this whole cloth diapering thing and I gotta say, it’s a whole lot easier than I thought! When I first mentioned it to people that I wanted to cloth diaper, they just laughed at me and said i’d have no time and that i’d better use a cloth diapering service to save that time for the babies. Now, when I first envisioned cloth I could only think of the old school diapers that my mom used on us but I had seen other mom’s doing cloth and it just looked so different. After talking with a few of them and seeing what they used, I knew it was a route I wanted to go on. The first steps were to research the kinds of cloth, now, i’m no expert yet but from what I read, pockets and prefolds were the easiest and cheapest routes to go. Here’s a link so some info about the different kinds of new cloth diapers: http://www.diaperpin.com/clothdiapers/article_differentsystems.asp 

Now, there are TONS AND TONS of cloth diapers out there, too many to even start discussing but I knew the cheapest routes were going to be key to diaper two boys into the potty training age, but where do I start? There are ridiculous amounts of pages to get cloth diapers from $5 a diaper up to $50, it’s insanity!! After asking my friends who cloth they said the best way would be co-ops, where a bunch of people pay one person to order diapers in bulk for a discount. They added me to a few groups on Facebook and after asking some of the people on there which pockets are good/cheap, Alva diapers constantly popped up and seemed to be a very popular diaper to most moms, so I placed an order in some co ops for their newborn diapers and the one size diapers as well. Some argue about the “china cheapie diapers” but for me, they’ve worked out GREAT!  i was a bit skeptical at first, being a first time cloth diapering mom but I’m very glad 98% of my stash are these pockets. They’re well made, absorb well, cute prints, the newborns fit my preemie babies and they fit my budget! I believe in total, I have about 60 (mix of newborn and one size) and I love them all. For their inserts, I have all bamboo (2,3 and 4 layer) and they hold a good amount of pee, so i’m actually thinking of getting more once another co-op starts up. So along with all the pockets I got covers and imagine prefold diapers from nicki’s diapers along with some Thirsties covers. Now, these covers are GREAT, I love the double gussets on them and they’ve saved me from a few blowouts when they were breastfeeding. The imagine prefolds are great too, I sort of wish I would have gotten them in bamboo or hemp, I might get some later on, but overall, these are the cheapest route for cloth.

Overall, I haven’t had any issues using cloth, in fact, I LOVE CLOTH DIAPERING BABIES!!!! Believe me, it’s not hard with twins and totally do-able, so if you’re wondering if you can or wondering if its too much to handle with twins: yes you can and no it’s not! We have hard water in our place so using the original Tide powder detergent works great, and from what I researched, Tide is great for hard water. The only issue I was having was some repelling. I stripped, washed and made sure the fit was right on the diapers but they were just not absorbing any pee, so after asking around, I got suggestions on using RLR laundry treatment and Calgon water softener. After doing a cycle of RLR, my repelling issues disappeared and now I use the Calgon softener regularly without any problems. So, I will say that, for those who have hard water, have those two things on hand, well three including the Tide and you should be golden!

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A fluff butt shot

If you guys want more info or reviews on what I use just ask and i’ll try and do some of those !

first time mom, military life, multiples pregnancy, twins

My twin pregnancy

I thought i’d tell you a little about my pregnancy, my *cue birds singing” magical pregnancy. Ok, so it wasn’t so “magical” but it was a lot better than I anticipated it to be. The whole pregnancy I had a handful of days when I actually had morning sickness and when I actually threw up, count it on one hand (what is that like 5?). Yea, shocking right? Especially with two little blood sucking parasites in there, you’d think I’d have a parking spot reserved in front of the toilet but luckily, I dodged that slimy smelling bullet.

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The first trimester was a blur, because I didn’t even feel pregnant, honestly, if I didn’t know I was pregnant, I wouldn’t have known I was pregnant. Now, I totally get those stories you hear about girls not knowing they’re pregnant, yea, I would have been one of those girls. In any case, there wasn’t much belly growth past my already formed gut but here’s some proof of the beginning of the end of my so called “semi flat pudgy stomach”. By the end, I had gained a whopping 3 pounds, not bad right?

Now, the second trimester is when the whole twin stuff settled in. Once I found out at the end of my first trimester it was twins, I immediately hit up google. Now, google is a WONDERFUL thing, or a malicious tool to keep you from actually working at your place of employment and sucking you into the thousands of pages when you enter in the keyword “twins”. In my case, it was my whole world for my entire pregnancy. So, after seeing my OB and seeing the MFM, I asked them questions after I had done my own research on Google. They told me to do nothing special, I don’t need a certain amount of calories and I would just have to take a prenatal. Well, let me tell you something ladies and gents who are expecting twins, that’s a load of BS!!! From my Dr. Google, I learned so much. I read about the amount of iron and vitamins I would need for my special pregnancy, the amount of calories I would need everyday, how much weight to gain, how much to gain in each trimester, etc….so much stuff! I was scared that they didn’t tell me anything special about my pregnancy but thankful I did the research on my own. I’ll post a few links at the end that I used throughout my pregnancy for info. So, being armed with my information, the basic rule I came across was to gain 20 pounds by 20 weeks to try and avoid pre term labor. Now, I had mo/di boys (monochorionic/diamniotic), which was the second riskiest type of twin pregnancy. I was going to be seen by MFM (maternal fetal medicine) every 2 weeks to monitor for TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome), So with the type of pregnancy I had, I was expecting to deliver between 32-36 weeks, which was roughly the average for mo/di pregnancies. So after I read about the necessary weight gain and seeing I had only gained 3 pounds, I immediately revamped my diet which meant I needed an EXTRA 1000 calories a day, so you guessed it, WENDYS!!! Not the best diet plan, but I figured i’d pack in those extra calories in the most delicious way possible. Eventually, my ravenous twin appetite kicked in and Wendy’s didn’t cut it so I shoveled in healthier alternatives when I could stomach them. Eventually, during my second trimester, I gained 25 lbs and met the goal of 21 pounds by 20 weeks. It was a tough job, but someone had to feed me so thank you greasy fast food chains, you saved me. By the end of the second trimester I was well into pregnancy pants, my stomach was growing steadily and I actually felt pregnant!

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Belly go boom, amiright? 
Top from left to right: 17w,18w,19w
Bottom from left to right: 20w, 22w,24w

 So, the last trimester was the kicker, no pun intended. I was having a lot of braxton hicks, but since my Dr’s didn’t really explain to me that twin pregnancies have a higher chance of having BH’s or an irritable uterus, I ignored them because I figured it was normal and they weren’t too painful so, swept those right under the rug. While I was at work one day, my extremities started going numb from my toes, up to my fingers and my nose, literally. I ended up losing vision and I immediately thought “omg, I have gestational hypertension!”. I called my OB and they told me to go in since nothing was alleviating the symptoms so I text Dan and told him to meet me at the hospital. The hospital was literally, right across the street from my job so by the time I was leaving I could walk ok and vision was slowly coming back but still feeling dizzy and tingly and just overall weird. I was concerned because up until then, my pregnancy was pretty smooth, no complications thankfully. They took me back and did a CAT scan, took blood and just observed me. Dan got there after they drew blood and waited while i had the CAT scan done; everything came back normal. They then started asking me how I was feeling and I mentioned that my BH’s were getting a wee bit painful but nothing overly alarming. They told me they would send me back to L&D just to be safe so they could hook me up to the monitors and make sure everything was ok. I immediately regretted I said anything because I didn’t want to keep Dan away from work if everything was fine, but I figured better safe than sorry and they’ll send me on my way laughing at me from mentioning BH’s. Well, got to L&D, hooked up to the monitors and the nurse started grilling me about my BH’s. Questions like: How often do you feel them, Do you feel them often, Are they painful, Do they take your breath away, Do you have more than 7 in an hour, How long has this been going on for, Have you talked to your OB about this…blah blah blah. I answered all the questions without any second thought and she said “I’m going to give the on call Dr about this, you’re having too many contractions and you could go into labor soon”, so I said “Come again? What?”. I looked at Dan like wtf? The on call comes in and asks me the questions and goes on to say i’m having frequent contractions, too many to be regular BH’s. So he asks me again about the frequency, when I tell him he gets an attitude with me, “You’re having too many to be regular braxton hicks, why haven’t you told your Dr about this? You should have told them!”, “I didn’t think it was serious, just regular braxton hicks, no one asked me if I was having any!” He tells me I have to go on bed rest or i’ll go into early labor, they’re going to give me the Terbutaline shots (steroid shots to help develop the babies lungs in utero) just in case and I was going to have to start taking Procardia to slow down the contractions. Eventually I went home to my bed/couch prison. Great, bed rest, when I have to get everything done with the house , the babies, the equipment for the babies, cook, clean, take care of the dog all because my husband works ridiculous hours and nothing will get done if I don’t do it. So of course, I panicked and had to grin and bear it all. About a month passed when D-day came….but for now, pictures!

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Top left to right: 26w, 28w
Bottom left to right: 30w, 32w
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A photo from my maternity shoot at 29 weeks

So, on July 28th, at 33 weeks, I woke up to go to the bathroom. When I wiped, I saw a white glob and thought to myself “Well, there goes the rest of my mucous plug.”. Now, I had been losing what seems like my mucous plug, in pieces for a couple of months. I did have some light spotting a week before, but thought nothing of it since it was just that one time and I had nothing after that. So this was at like, 2am I think, so I went back to bed. No more than about a half hour passed by that I was awakened by the urge of something popping out, I freaked because I thought “OMG I CAN FEEL ONE OF THEIR HEADS COMING OUT!!!”, so I ran to the bathroom. It felt like a bubble was coming out of me and as soon as I stepped in there, I felt like I peed myself, warm liquid gushed out. It wasn’t a lot, but enough to trickle down my leg and when I sat on the toilet, more came out. I had a mini panic attack but I kept it in. I looked in my black underware and saw white bits and pieces, so I did what any normal first time mom would do, I wiped my finger in it and smelled it. I immediately knew it wasn’t pee, it had a fresh/sweet smell to it and I knew at that moment, my water broke. In a sick way, I smiled but as soon as I remembered I was only 33 weeks, I started freaking out. I walked out of that bathroom with wet undies in hand, woke up Dan and said “hey, HEY! Wake up babe.” “huh? what? what, what happened?” “we have to go to the hospital” “huh, why? what’s wrong?” “my water just broke” “oh, uhm, ok, i’m up. ARE YOU SURE?!” I couldn’t help but laugh and started packing a bag. I called the on call, they said to go in so we grabbed their diaper bag, my makeshift hospital bag and went to the hospital. When I called the hospital and told them what happened, the main thing that stood out from our conversation was “well, you might be having those babies tonight”. That’s all I could think of the whole ride there, babies, I might be having my babies tonight! Now, believe me, by this point daily activities were a challenge and downright acrobatical (that’s a word now by the way), so in a way, I was a little relieved. They hooked me up, verified my water broke and after being admitted the on call Dr came in and told me what the nurse said on the phone, but they’d try to keep them in if they could and the OB on the next shift would see me in a couple of hours to talk things over. So, to sum it up, the next Dr told me they’d try to keep them in, it was too early for them to come out but if they had to take them out, they would. They gave the steroid shots again and confined me to the bed in the hospital for the next week. 34 weeks seemed to be the magical number of viability and minimal NICU time apparently, so they kept me in labor limbo and at 34 weeks, we had a c-section. I will say, hearing those cries for the first time was an overwhelming emotion I know I won’t have again until I have another one, or when they say “mommy” for the first time.

So, on August 4th, 2012, Evan and Liam were born at 12:49 and 12:50pm. Evan was 4lbs, 7oz and Liam was 4lbs, 13oz. Both were breathing fine and on room air from the start. They had a couple weeks in the NICU but were able to come home with minimal complications.

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Now, I did get stretch marks, not as bad as I thought, but they’re mainly confined to my lower belly. I gained a total of 44 lbs and lost all of it but 3 lbs but I am just starting to work out now, so hopefully i’ll be back to my semi pudgy self again.

 

Links to information

Twin pregnancy diet- go here

General twin information- go here

Twin zygosity information- go here

Prenatal nutrition info for twin pregnancy- go here * I found that women’s one a day prenatal plus DHA supplement had all the proper dosages*

BabyCenter group link about zygosity and averages about twin pregnancies- go here *this group is a great resource*