IVF

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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

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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 ūüôā 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 ūüôā – 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

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.

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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

Coming home part one

Published July 5, 2016 by Jennie

After an 11 day stay in the NICU we got to bring one of our babies home. While it feels like it has been a long time, it could be worse. When my water broke they told me to expect the babies to stay in the NICU until around my due date (August 4th). We have also met several other NICU families who have had to endure much longer stays. Two days ago I met a NICU momma who was on day 98 with no end in sight.

Lauren spent her time in the NICU learning how to eat and gain weight. She received phototherapy for jaundice and did not develop any other medical issues.

Parenting in the NICU is tough but the nurses are amazing. The twins have received great care and the nurses always take the time to let me know the babies are doing. The NICU is also supported by some wonderful volunteers who do all kinds of nice things for the babies. For example, they made them the cutest 4th of July hats (Lauren is on the left and Luke is on the right).

We are thrilled to have Lauren home and hopefully her brother will soon join us. To come home, he needs to outgrow bradycardia and be able to eat entire feedings without a tube.

I had never heard of bradycardia¬†before the twins were born but I have since learned that it is extremely common among preemies; so much so that it is more expected for them to have it to some degree than to not have it at all. Luckily it does not cause any long term problems and Luke’s case is very mild (he has about 1 to 2 self-resolved bradys a day). If he has not outgrown in in the next week or so, they will start treating it with caffeine.

Eating wise he still has some work to do but is getting better. He usually eats about 2/3rds of his feedings with a bottle and the rest through a nasogastric tube. Sometimes he does even better and we can avoid using the tube for the entire feeding. Other than these relatively minor issues he is healthy. All in all we are thankful that they are both doing so well.

Fingers crossed we will soon have another homecoming. Now that Lauren is home it is going to be harder for me to get to the hospital and I sure do miss our little guy.

Our Birth Story

Published June 26, 2016 by Jennie

Thank you so much for all the well wishes! It has meant a lot to me. I thought I would share our birth story. It was definitely a whirlwind and some parts are hard to remember.

On Friday the 24th, I woke up at about 4AM to my water breaking at 34w1d. I woke up my husband and we drove to the hospital. We were both surprisingly calm given the situation. I think we were both in shock.

When I got to triage the nurse told me that since I was not in labor they would try to hold it off since I was early. The original plan was to admit me and try to push back delivery as long as possible. I then spoke to the doctor on call. He said sometimes the risks of prolonging the pregnancy would outweigh the benefits. The longer we waited, the higher the risk of infection (the risk of infection increases after you rupture your membranes). He said 34 weeks is usually the point where the will not try to prolong the pregnancy anymore.

Since I was not in labor, he decided to give me a steroid shot to speed up lung development. That takes a day to work so we were going to deliver on Saturday. Even so, he said that the research on giving steroids at 34 weeks is mixed. At that point it probably does not help much but since it only takes a day to work it was worth a shot. Basically he was ok with trying to prolong the pregnancy for one more day but nothing more than that.

We scheduled a C section on Saturday. About 10 minutes after the doctor left I went into labor. It happened super fast. I went from no contractions to significant contractions very quickly. The doctors were surprised by how fast it happened. Luckily I had an amazing nurse who got the ball rolling so I could deliver.

The C section went smoothly. I originally struggled with having a C section versus a vaginal birth but once it came time to do it, I was just glad we had a way for me to deliver them safely. One I delivered, we got to see them and hold them for a few minutes and then they went to the NICU.

That evening I started feeling pretty bad. We found out I had a severe allergic reaction to the tape used on my incisions. The doctor actually told me she had never seen a reaction like that before. In the grand scheme of things it is not my biggest concern. It is frustrating though because it makes it harder to get around and the medicine used to treat it makes me pretty loopy.

I have attempted to pump and so far it is an epic failure. I pump every 2 hours using a hospital grade pump and have yet to get even a single drop. Not even one. I hate it.

I do plan on writing a post about our NICU experience. For now I will say it is the best and worst place I have ever been to. I am so thankful that our babies are getting such good care and the staff in the NICU are nothing short of angels.

Here are a few pictures.

 

We are also incredibly fortunate that both babies are doing remarkably well. They have breathed on their own the whole time (that is a big deal for preemies) and are eating. Yesterday they had all their IVs removed. Today they were removed from their incubators and are in regular beds. I know they need a little more TLC but I am so ready for them to come home! – Jennie