My biggest twin parenting surprises so far

Published February 19, 2017 by Jennie

The twins are 7 and a half months old. I can’t believe how fast it has all gone by. We have had a lot of ups and downs as well as a lot of surprises. Parenting twins is nothing like I thought it would be (then again I am not really sure what I thought it was going to be like). Before I start though, I figured I would share a few pictures of the little munchkins.

These have been my biggest surprises so far.

1. Working outside the home makes me a better mom.

When I had the twins, I originally planned to stay home with them for at least a year. I ended up starting work when they were about 3 months old. It was really hard for me to admit this to myself but I am a better mom when I have a chance to miss them. I am lucky that I have found a daycare that takes excellent care of them. One of the reasons they are doing so well is because of everything their teachers at daycare do for them. This was not our original plan (or the best solution for all families) but we are all happier.

2. The twins are tougher than I sometimes give them credit for.

They have come so far since their days in the NICU as preemie twins.

They still have their challenges (for example Luke tends to get frequent respiratory infections ) but they are not my frail little preemies anymore. They are tough cookies!

3. They are completely different

For me, this has been the hardest part of parenting twins. They do everything different, including reaching milestones. Lauren tends to reach them first which causes me endless anxiety. Luke also had severe torticollis, which really limited his movement for the first few months but he has weekly therapy for it and has made great progress. Even so, it is so hard not to compare them and wonder why one can do something but the other one can’t. Their pediatrician has reminded me multiple times that they are different people and I can not expect them to be the same.

4. Mommy judgement is alive and well

Most of the feedback I get from people is positive. Even so, every so often I get a harsh dose of mommy judgement. During our Christmas party at work, one of my coworkers let me know she could not imagine letting one (let along two) babies at daycare until they were at least a year old. I have also gotten some less than nice comments for formula feeding. That one is especially hard to deal with because I did everything I could to breastfeed and it simply didn’t work.

5. We need a lot of help

When I was pregnant I figured that if I was organized and motivated enough, my husband and I could handle the twins without outside help. I was wrong. We get lots of help from friends and family and could not do it without them. I am not supermom and that’s okay.

6. Time has become  very valuable

When I want to do something, I now have to decide if it is worth time away from my kids. A few months ago I decided it is finally time to get back in shape. To do this, I have to take away some of the limited time I have with my kids to work out. This has been hard. I take them to the gym with me (usually after work) about 4 times a week. While I really like the people who take care of them at the gym’s childcare center, that is 4 more hours I do not have with them. I try my best to make the time we do spend together count.

7. I still miss the baby we lost

I am so thankful for our twins. Even so, they do not replace the baby we lost. I still think about him and wonder what he would have been like. He was loved and will always be missed.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone is doing well! – Jennie

DOC Band Drama

Published November 24, 2016 by Jennie

The twins have had their DOC Bands for a few weeks now. It sure has been an experience! I thought I would share our ups and downs as well as some tips that make our lives with the bands less miserable. Before I get into things, here are some pictures. Even with their bands, I still think they are pretty adorable.

This is what we have learned so far.

1. People are curious about the bands.

When we take the twins out, people ask me what the bands are and what they are for. One person even asked me what’s wrong with our babies (not very nice!). The are called DOC Bands and primarily treat Plagiocephaly.

While tummy time can help decrease the change of Plagiocephaly becoming an issue, some babies still get it even with lots of tummy time. Our babies were especially susceptible because they were premature and spent time in the NICU.

2. DOC Bands can indirectly help with other issues

Our son developed severe Torticollis (partly from being breech, a preemie, in the NICU, etc). His flat spot is on his right side and it makes it really hard for him to move his head around, especially when he is on his back. His physical therapist saw him the first day he had his band on and said just having it on helps a lot with his alignment. The DOC Band does not treat Torticollis but it definitely helps when used with PT and exercises at home.

3. Insurance does not always cover the bands.

This can happen 2 ways. In some cases, they offer coverage but deny the claim. In this case you can appeal. Other times (as in our case) insurance companies create  a provision that specifically excludes band coverage (jerks!). That means we can not appeal but we can file a grievance. We did. A grievance won’t help us but I hope they change their policy so other people can get coverage.

A while back I wrote a post about our insurance not offering coverage and got lots of great tips. Here I leaned there is an organization called the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation that will help with the cost. Unfortunately, we do not pass their income requirements. Even so, I would like to thank Meredith for letting me know about them as well as any else who read my post. I hope if someone else is facing this issue they may be able to help them.

Ultimately we did have to pay for them out of pocket but Cranial Technologies did give us a twin discount. We are thankful for that.

4. Timing is important with DOC Bands

As a baby gets older, their skull hardens. That means if they get a late start with the DOC Band, they will likely have to wear it longer and it may not be as effective. On the other side, you do not want to get on too early because some babies heads will naturally reshape without needing a band. We had our babies initially measured at around 3 months and then remeasured around 4 months. That way we could see that things were not getting better on their own (although our son’s head was really misshapen even at 2 months so I pretty much always knew he would need a band).

Even though we got the band through Cranial Technologies, we worked closely with our pediatrician throughout the process. I have had nothing but good experiences with Cranial Technologies but some reviews have said they have pushed some parents to get bands when their kids did not need them. Knowing our pediatrician also highly recommends they have bands makes me know we made the right choice.

4. You may have to rethink how you dress your baby when wearing a DOC Band.

We were told when we got the bands they would make the babies hot, but we did not realize how much so. Two days after having them on, we noticed rashes on their face. We took them back to Cranial Technologies and turns out they had heat rash. We now keep the babies in onesies, no pants, and no socks. They are so much more comfy now even though they can not wear all the cute footed PJs we bought for them to wear this winter. Of course, we got doctor’s approval to do this and bundle them up before going outside. Also, all babies are different and some may not get as hot.

5. DOC Bands get gross!

Even when we keep the babies cool, their heads sweat a lot. Wiping the bands out every day does not cut it. I got a great tip from a coworker whose baby also had a DOC Band. He told me to scrub the bands out every night with a toothbrush using 70%  Isopropyl alcohol. Cranial Technologies did tell us to clean it out daily with the alcohol but did not suggest using a toothbrush to scrub the band. We asked them if this would damage the band. They said no and it works like a charm. No more dirty, gross bands!

6. They take a while for babies to get used to

We are still working on this one. It has gotten better but we still have a ways to go. They seem to have them most trouble with them at night. Before we got them, they had just started sleeping through the night, which was freaking awesome. That feels like a distant memory now. They are now wearing them 23 hours a day as instructed. Hopefully as time goes on, they will continue to get more used to them. Someday in the future this will all be a distant memory.

Thanks for reading. If anyone else has any tips at all for surviving these bands, please share!

I hope everyone is doing well and all my US bloggers have a fabulous Turkey Day (or anyone else celebrating the occasion)! We sure do have a lot to be thankful for this year. – Jennie

mjaxmi01ntvhnzkzmjbhmzkyytvj

Our Twin Dream Team

Published November 3, 2016 by Jennie

It is crazy to think how much life has changed since having the twins. While things are now going well we had a really rough start. Shortly after we brought them home from the NICU I made an appointment with my therapist because I felt like I was not handling thing well. She asked me what was the hardest things about taking care of twins. I told her that I constantly felt like I did not know what the hell I was doing. I felt completely unprepared and incapable of keeping two babies alive. What she told me next completely changed my perspective on things even to this day.

She told me that it was ok that I did not know what I was doing. I needed to accept that I can not do this on my own and instead I should focus on building a strong support system. Since that day that has been my number one goal. I am so thankful I have found some wonderful people and resources that have helped not only care for the twins but have helped them thrive.

Before I talk a little more about this journey I thought I would share some pictures 🙂 The bottom one is from Halloween.

I like to think of our support system as our twin dream team. Here is the lineup!

Pediatrician

Our pediatrician is amazing! One time when Luke was sick I took him in. That evening our pediatrician called after he had left the office just to check to see how he was doing. I can also email any question I have and he takes the time to make sure he addresses all my concerns.

Pediatric Gastroenterologist

Lauren has had some feeding issues. Our GI doctor set up a Barium swallow study to check for structural abnormalities and make sure she is not aspirating. Her swallow study came back okay but he still keeps an eye on things. He is also very patient and takes time to answer all my questions.

Pediatric Cardiologist

When we had to go back to the hospital we were told that Luke has a heart murmur. The echocardiogram came back okay but we will continue to monitor it and know who to go to if we have future issues.

Pediatric Neurologist

I will admit that taking your child to a neurologist is scary. Our PT recommended we do this due to Lauren’s feeding issues. Luckily her neurologist has a wonderful bedside manner. She said that Lauren looks great but we will continue to monitor things. She also told us that later on Lauren may benefit from occupational and or speech therapy. Even so, she told us that the brain at this age is very changeable so if we do find problems, with the right therapy, she has a bright future. This is assuming she even needs therapy which may not be the case. I have been so worried about her and I can not adequately express how comforting that is to hear. I am also incredibly thankful that if issues do come up, we have a plan in action to get her the best help possible.

Cranial Specialist/Orthotist

Both Luke and Lauren are in the process of getting fitted for Doc Bands for Plagiocephaly. While this is really expensive I am thankful we are doing it now where treatment only lasts 5 or 6 weeks. If we did it later they would have to be in the bands longer and would likely not have as good of a result.

Pediatric Physical Therapist

We actually have 2 PTs. One is a family friend. She has been instrumental in helping us set up resources for both twins. The other PT is also wonderful. She comes to the daycare weekly to help Luke with his torticollis. He has made noticeable improvements even after only a few sessions.

Early Intervention Team

I love love love this program. Early intervention provides services for kids aged 0 to 3 who may need extra help in any area of development. Since the twins are preemies, they do need a bit of help catching up. While it does take a while to get set up, it is a great program once things get started. They were the ones that help us get weekly PT set up at the daycare for Luke. His torticollis has made it difficult for him to develop good head control, but he has been very responsive to treatment. EI assigned us a case worker that frequently checks in with us. Any time I have any concerns at all I can discuss them with her and she provides me a wealth of resources.

Daycare Provider

Going back to work was a hard decision for me. There are definitely pros and cons to staying at home or going back to work. I ultimately decided that I am a better mom when I am working outside the home. I did decide I would not go back to work unless I could find someone I could completely trust to care for the twins during the day. The day care we found is wonderful. Their teacher actually has a grandson born at 26 weeks so knows all about the potential issues preemies face. She has even taken the time to show us stuff we can do at home to help them.

Therapist (For Me!)

Taking care of twins is hard! It took me a while to realize that I need to take care of myself if I want to be the best mom I can be. My therapist is great. She gives me wonderful advice that has helped me manage the struggles of being a twin momma. Other times she lets me vent, which I enjoy too.

Psychiatrist (For Me!)

As I mentioned before, I was not in a good place when the twins came home. I ultimately made an appointment with my psychiatrist. He prescribed a combination of SSRIs and it changed my life. If anyone is curious, my magic combination is Trintillix and Wellbutrin. It still amazes me how much of a difference it makes!

Local Mothers of Multiples Group

No one understands what it is like to have twins like a veteran twin momma (or daddy!). Their advice is priceless. For example, I never thought of how difficult it would be to get two babies into a car and to the doctor at the same time. They gave me some tricks and tips that make stuff like that easier. It is also nice to connect with people who face a lot of the same struggles as I do.

Friends

I am thankful for every friend who has brought us a meal or even came over and held a baby for a while so I could take a nap. It is always appreciated.

Family

We are very lucky to have an incredibly supportive family. My mother in law frequently stays at our house. During her visits she not only helps with the babies but also helps with the chores and also cooks homemade meals. My parents have also been invaluable. Shortly after I had the twins, they sold their house and moved 10 minutes away from us. I honestly do not know what I would do without them. They are my lifesavers.

Of course it goes unsaid that my husband always plays a huge role in caring for the twins. Now that we are both working we take turns with night duty. He can handle the twins on his own, which means I am able to get a full nights sleep when it is my night off. Also, one of my favorite things is to watch him interact with them. He is one proud dad.

Well there you have it! That is our twin dream team. While I have learned a lot, I still feel like I don’t know what the hell I am doing. Even so, I think that if we continue to receive the support we need we will be ok.

Thanks for reading 🙂 – Jennie

Missing our angel baby 

Published October 15, 2016 by Jennie

Today is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. My heart goes out to all the mommies and daddies out there who are parents to babies no longer on this earth and/or babies they never got to meet. 

It has been a year and a half since I miscarried our first baby. When I look back at that  post it still makes me feel sick to my stomach. 

I am so thankful for the children we now have but they do not replace the one we lost. I still miss him. The day I found out I was pregnant with him was the best day of my life. Up until then we had tried to get pregnant for five years with no success. I am so very thankful for the joy I experienced from that pregnancy even though it only lasted 13 weeks. It was the only time I enjoyed being pregnant. 

I wish I had not allowed my fear of another loss prevent me from experiencing any joy from my second pregnancy. 

While I still struggle with the implications from infertility and pregnancy loss, I thankful for the connections I have formed with other bloggers. Sometimes I feel like you guys understand me more than some of the people I see in my day to day life. Thank you so much for all your support and encouragement. It means everything to me. – Jennie 

We survived the first 100 days!

Published October 3, 2016 by Jennie

So we officially survived the first 100 days with the twins yay! I feel like we should get a medal for that or something. I love them but it has by far been the biggest challenge I have faced. It is so much harder than I ever imagined.

Since they arrived the twins have survived a premature birth, a stint in the NICU (11 days for Lauren and 20 days for Luke), feeding issues, reflux, colic, out of sync schedules, day/night confusion, developmental issues primarily related to prematurity (luckily these are mild and we are making progress), and an additional stay in the hospital for several days at around 2 months old for unexplained fevers.

I have also managed to get through a difficult c-section recovery, a failure to breastfeed (I have never tried so hard and failed at anything in my life), bonding issues, and significant postpartum depression (PPD). I did not expect PPD to be as big as an issue as it has been and treating it has been tough. It has gotten much better but some days are still a struggle.

While the twins are beginning to consolidate feedings, for the most part we have averaged 16 daily feedings and 20 or so daily diaper changes. Luckily we have a tremendous amount of help from friends and family. Colic has gotten much better but for a while we got to listen to them cry and scream for countless hours every day.

I feel like I have a millions I could write about. For now, I will just be thankful that we have gotten to where we are. While we still have challenges, the twins are thriving and that is all I can ask for.

Here is a picture of them in their Halloween gear. I know it is early for Halloween but these outfits are just too cute.

halloween

On a side note, I did get them evaluated and found out he has severe plagiocephaly and she has a moderate case. It is relatively common with premature babies. His case is worse due to his torticollis. Insurance denied treatment because they said it is not medically necessary. I am sure if it was their kids they would change their mind. I have heard of people successfully appealing this and wanted to see if anyone had any tips on how to do that. If we have to pay out of pocket we will but it is super expensive and would be nice to get coverage.

I hope everyone is doing well and thanks for reading- Jennie

Back To The Hospital

Published September 16, 2016 by Jennie

We have had a lot going on this week. I am glad I have this blog so in addition to connecting with other bloggers, I have a way to keep friends and family up to date with what is going on.

Last weekend Lauren had a fever. I took her to urgent care. They sent us right to the ER. At the ER they did all kinds of tests. The kept us in the room with her for everything except the lumbar puncture (also known as a spinal tap). It was really hard for my husband and me to stay in the waiting room while they did this.

Once they were done, the doctor came and got us. She looked upset. Apparently they could not get what they needed from the spinal tap. They decided to call in another doctor to try it. While I was not happy that they had to do it again, I understand that sometimes things do not work as planned and I am glad they were honest with us.

We had to leave the room again for the second attempt. It felt like it took longer. Luckily it worked that time. They then took a bunch of blood, put in an IV, and admitted us to the hospital.

The first night was rough. She obviously did not feel good and made sure everyone knew that. The next day my mom called me to let me know Luke (her twin) now had a fever. I knew the drill. She took him to the ER. While there, I got a nurse to watch Lauren and went down to take care of Luke while he was in the ER.

They did all the same stuff to Luke that they did to Lauren. Luckily, they only had to do one spinal tap as it worked the first time. This doctor did not make me leave the room. I am glad. While a spinal tap is no fun, it was worse in my mind.

The hardest part about his time in the ER was when they had to put in his catheter for a urine sample. While they did it, he looked right at me. I have never seen him in so much pain and it broke my heart. I would have done anything to make the pain go away. It was really hard not to fall apart.

Unfortunately they could not get what they needed from his catheter. Before they did it again they went ahead and got his blood drawn and IV put in. The second time they did it, I held his hand and put my face on his cheek so neither one of us would have to see what they were doing.

After they finished all the tests, they admitted him. He had to stay in a different room than his sister but luckily they were able to stay in rooms next to each other. Having them both there was still difficult. They were both supposed to have an adult in their room at all times. Unfortunately I have not yet figured out how to be in two places at once. Thankfully my parents were there to help.

While in the hospital, I found out that while doctors and nurses are great, you really have to advocate for your kid(s). For example, one night Luke was screaming his head off and obviously felt like crap. He is normally a very quiet baby and I could tell he was miserable. They did not want to give him Tylenol because they do not like to give it for fevers under 102.1. His was 101.8.

If they knew him like I did they could see he needed it. I decided to open his door and keep it open so everyone could hear him scream. Within a few minutes they decided to make an exception and he got some Tylenol, which did help him feel better.

I also found out that hospitals like to assume worst case scenario for pretty much everything. One day a doctor listened to Luke’s heart and heard a murmur. Prior to this I have not worried about their hearts. When I was pregnant I had a very detailed fetal echo on both (they do that for all IVF pregnancies) and all was normal. Also, as far as I know, he has not shown any other symptoms of heart issues, although I acknowledge I am not a medical doctor so I may not know what I am looking for.

Anyway, they decided he needed an echo cardiogram. This was scary. The tech took forever. When I asked her if it looked okay, she told me that she couldn’t say anything and that the pediatric cardiologist would look at the test and come talk to me that day. I worried about it all day but the cardiologist never came. That evening I asked one of the nurses about it. She pulled up the record and said that the cardiologist noted that everything was normal. I do not know why they never told me.

Today we finally all got to go home. It has been a long week. I hope we never have to go back. Here is a picture of them before all of this happened. It’s nice to see at least one of them smiling, especially since I watched them be miserable for the last week. I am still trying to get a picture of both of them smiling at the same time (hopefully that will happen soon). Today they are 12 weeks (6 adjusted) and were about 10 weeks ( 4 adjusted) in the picture.

luke-and-lauren

Some people who saw pictures from my last post actually emailed me to ask if he has been evaluated for torticollis. He has and does have it. It’s likely from being breech. We are working on treating it and it should get better. He also may end up with a cranial cap. We were supposed to get that checked out this week but rescheduled it for next week.

I hope everyone had a less stressful week! Hopefully things will calm down for us and we can get back into our routine. – Jennie

 

Twin Photo Shoot

Published August 25, 2016 by Jennie

Today the twins are 9 weeks (3 weeks adjusted). The last 9 weeks have been a blur but we have tried to take some pictures. I do not have any other form of social media so this is my first time sharing any pictures.

People have asked how we are doing with all of this. It has been really hard. The thing I struggle with the most is accepting that they are preemies and right now are not going to act their age (they are acting like 3 week olds as opposed to 2 month olds). I constantly worry that due to being preemies they will struggle meeting their milestones. They had their two month checkup and the doctor said they are good for being 3 weeks adjusted but I still worry.

They are gaining weight well, especially the boy (he gained 40 oz in 3 weeks). Our little girl has really bad acid reflux (we even had to do a barium swallow study) but even with that she is also gaining well (about an ounce a day).

Here are some pictures we have taken along the way.

This is them at about 3 weeks

I don’t remember how old they were here but the shirts are just too cute!

This is the girl on the way to her first doctor appointment. I can’t believe how much she has grown. This is the last time we tried to put socks on her. She hates anything on her feet and kicks them off almost immediately. When we went to do her swallow study they put an id tag on her foot, which she kicked off. I got yelled at by the radiology department for bringing her back there without id. Oops.

p3

As I mentioned, she has really bad acid reflux and is a fussy baby in general (that might be an understatement). We found this onesie that fits her perfectly.p13

Taking them out in public is a crazy endeavor. Even a quick walk is an event. It seems like everyone we pass stops us as asks a million questions.  I had no idea that twins were so interesting. Here is a picture of the first time I took them out together.

p12stroller

Our fabulous photographer, Claudia, did a newborn shoot (she also did our maternity pictures). She has the patience of a saint and even came to our house because I was too nervous to take them out to her studio. She also has a great facebook page and webpage. These were taken at about 5 weeks.

We also had some pretty cute bloopers. We tried to get a good picture of her with a tutu on but she was not having it. I should have known better. On the left is what I was going for (original image here). She is on the right.

Also when we put them together she seems to like to attack him. Poor guy.

Sometimes though they seem to be ok. This is a picture I took of them while we were hanging out and binge watching random shows on Hulu. Sometimes it seems like she NEVER sleeps so this is photo proof to remind me that it does sometimes happen.

Until next time. – Jennie