Meet a How Do You Do It? author

angelabickford3

Angela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business and personal blog (angelabickford.com). Her tagline ‘Mom of Triplets. Lost One. Survived & Sharing’ is her goal in blogging and she aims to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress. She also blogs at Thirty-One:10.

What Lasts: Carter’s Song

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For years, Angela Bickford struggled through infertility and loss.  Angela is now the mother of triplets, born prematurely, one of whom, Carter, passed away after 49 days.  This song, originally published on her blog angelabickford.com, pays beautiful tribute to the lasting impact of Carter’s short life.

Written and recorded by Jetty Rae
Slideshow photos provided by Angela Bickford

Never thought that it would come to this
I wake up in the middle of the night
And your face I long to kiss
Then I remember looking at you
On the other side of the glass
That night the Doctors said
You probably wouldn’t last

[Chorus]
What lasts is the love left beating
In this Mother’s heart
The dreams all scattered down in tiny little parts
I will love you, I will love you
Sweet Child you are mine
You’re heaven sent and I’m hell-bent
On telling the world you are my little sunshine

Waking up each day without you
Is a hurt I’ll never shake
Leaving your body there was a choice
We never got to make
Carry on, carry on sweet child we all carry on
I see you in your brother’s eyes and I tell your sister
You were strong

[Chorus]
What lasts is the love left beating
In your Father’s heart
The dreams all scattered down in tiny little parts
I will love you, I will love you
Sweet Child you are mine
You’re heaven sent and I’m hell-bent
On telling the world you are my little sunshine

[Bridge]
So many days have come and gone
We’re still standing, we’re still strong
You have stayed where you belong
But in our hearts you will go on

Angela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business, her job at Hand to Hold, a non-profit dedicated to preemie/NICU awareness and support, and her personal blog (angelabickford.com). Her tagline ‘Mom of Triplets. Lost One. Survived & Sharing’ is her goal in blogging and she aims to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Selective Reduction: Two Women, Two Views

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In the world of infertility, while everyone is focused on shots and ultrasounds and the two-week-wait, there are some decisions that no one likes to talk about. What if I end up with multiples? What if the fetus/baby is sick? What if…

Selective reduction. Two women pregnant with 3 babies chose differently, and neither would have it any other way.A multitude of things cross the minds of women once they see the positive pregnancy test, but this one – this one is probably the most controversial of all. Selective reduction isn’t something society likes to talk about, but it’s a real thing. It’s a real conversation that happens in pretty much every high-risk OB’s office or with the mother carrying multiple babies.

So, in all fairness, and since multiples are a ‘risk-factor’ when undergoing fertility treatments, the HDYDI team decided that if it came up this week, we’d cover it. We’d share with you in a nonjudgmental way. We’d share so that others going down this path know that it IS something you’ll be asked about. That it IS something you need to think about – no matter what your decision ends up being. And that no one – NO ONE – can make that choice but you, and whatever your choice ends up being, that as fellow women, infertiles, moms, etc. – you will find someone that supports you.


In the Grey: Shelby’s Perspective

Shelby pf A Mother to OneShelby is a public health consultant, author, and founder of A Mother to One, a website dedicated to support and information for women choosing selective reduction. She is the mother of a five-year-old, a military wife, and spends her free time traveling the world.

In the summer of 2008, I decided to terminate 2 of 3 fetuses in my womb. No, I didn’t walk into Starbucks and decide to walk into an abortion clinic following. It doesn’t work like that.

Here’s the how: During the spring of 2008, we opted to give IUI a try while my husband was deployed. Voilà, a positive pregnancy test! We were overjoyed beyond belief.

And then, two weeks later, this overwhelming joy was followed by one of the most terrifying moments of my life: a hysteria-inducing ultrasound that revealed three fetuses and caused my 6’4” RE’s face to turn a shade of white I’ve never seen. There’s nothing pretty about vomiting during a vaginal ultrasound, and the sheer terror that plagued me that day is not something easily forgotten.

I knew within moments of hearing, “There are three. We need to talk,” what I would do; my mind had been made up nearly two years prior in a what-if discussion with my husband. The risks were just too much for me to fathom: 40% rate of loss, average gestational age of 32 weeks and a 36% impairment rate.

I was one of the fortunate ones who knew what selective reduction (SR) was even was prior to beginning my fertility treatments. I called it “fertility’s ugly stepbrother;” it existed to clean up the messes fertility drugs caused. My end goal in fertility treatments was always one healthy child, and although the decision to move forward with SR didn’t come easily to me, I reduced from triplets to a singleton at 12 weeks gestation.

I’ve always been open and honest about discussing my SR in public. However, in discussing this choice, I have begun to notice I don’t fit in. The choice advocates aren’t sure how to respond; the pro-life advocates call it abortion; and women who have terminated for medical reasons fume that I would associate my choice with theirs, as I have a child and they do not.

The multiples community looks down on me as cowardly or selfish. From time to time I receive emails confirming this is true.

We, the selective reduction community, don’t fit in anywhere. I’ve had friends who worked at abortion clinics call the procedure “half an abortion” or a “partial abortion”. I’ve had family members suggest I could have adopted the other two fetuses to friends. There’s the always deeply loved “baby killer” moniker that won’t seem to cease, no matter how many times I explain fetal development and the statistics on triplet pregnancies.

Hence, the weird-grey-area of reproductive choice is where I’m comfortable, nearly six years post-procedure. I don’t feel the need to fit into a certain place or space in the world. The grey gives me comfort, knowing I’m inadvertently bridging the gap between the pro-choice and pro-life worlds. Selective reduction doesn’t fit anyone’s expectation on what choice means. When you fall into the grey, it causes this wormhole of stereotypes to occur: where does she belong, where does she fit, this choice makes me uncomfortable… My response: I am where I was meant to be.

Let me push the envelope on what you believe choice means, let me be the one who informs you that choice is not simply a means to an end. Choice can mean a means to a beginning. Choice led me to a very healthy, vivacious, beautiful child.

Confounded? You aren’t alone. These days women’s reproductive health issues are fodder for water cooler discussions at the office. Words like vagina, afterbirth and choice give way to fanaticism in ways that confound me.

I never thought discussing my pregnancy or my vagina would lead to a place wherein I find myself today: the creator of a community, the only life preserver women feel they have when faced with such a complex situation, and the only person willing to use their name and put a face to what selective reduction really is. But, here’s where I sit: a happy mom, who provides support and doesn’t apologize for our decision to terminate two fetuses.

My life is one that will never get uncomplicated. I am a strong-willed woman, born by a strong-willed woman, and I have my own strong-willed daughter. I come from a long line of women who choose to push envelopes. These days, I’m not trying to push them; I want to burn their very existence. I may make you uncomfortable, as the very idea of opting to terminate two of three fetuses in a pregnancy can be disquieting. The grey is that last puzzle piece that can’t be forced to fit into the slot you want it to. We are the puzzle piece left over, and we’re comfortable with that.

You might be reading this asking yourself a lot of questions. Why did she terminate two of three and not one of three? Does she feel bad? Does she question her choice? The answers to those questions are complex and not exactly easy to answer. I made a choice, just as you make choices: how many embryos to put in, whether or not to continue multiples, choosing a donor for sperm/eggs. They’re all choices.

I am a mother, just as you are or will be. And I want the best for my child and for my family at any cost. My question back to you is this: are we really so different, then? We’re just parents or future parents, making the best decisions for our families. Perhaps there’s no line delineating us after all.


 The Aftermath of NOT Reducing: Angela’s Perspective

Angela Bickford headshotAngela Bickford is the mother of triplets, one of whom passed away after 49 days. After three years of infertility, and her subsequent loss, Angela has made it her mission to help other moms going through similar struggles. She works for the non-profit, Hand to Hold, which supports the preemie/NICU/loss parent, and writes about surviving after loss on her personal blog.

When it came time to have ‘that’ conversation with our doctor, I knew what was coming. I’m a type-A, worry-about-it-all, see-the-missing-tile type person who’s already experienced three years of trying and several miscarriages. Part of me felt it would be the ‘smart’ choice, and part of me just wanted the miracle of three, healthy babies.

Deep down, I wasn’t really that conflicted. I knew that I could never reduce – not because of my faith or whether or not it was acceptable – but because I’ve always wanted to be a mom and with it taking so long to get to this point, I wasn’t letting any of them go.

So my husband and I said a quick ‘no’ and moved on. We didn’t need to hear the risks, we wanted all three.

At 14 weeks, a cerclage was placed to help ensure they’d stay cooking longer. At 21.5 weeks along, I was placed on home bed rest with the beginnings of incompetent cervix and told that Baby A was at the most risk. This is when my self-doubt started to creep in.

The second-guessing. The what-ifs. And, of course, it was too late to revisit that conversation… (side note: it wouldn’t have changed anything, but it’s important to note that even after making my decision, my mind still wondered.)

At 23.5 weeks, I landed in the hospital and continued my bed rest there. Eventually, Baby A’s water broke (11 days in), but the babies didn’t make their entrance for another 19 days. All sick. All needing resuscitation. All near death.

It was day-by-day and minute-by-minute. It was a lot of what-ifs and second-guessing. Wondering how we could have done things differently or if the outcome would have been different if we had.

Because, in the end, we lost Baby A – Carter – because that risk – that real risk they talk about in that conversation no one wants to have – it won.

I guess I share all this to say that even though I didn’t personally choose to reduce, I still didn’t get my happy ending. Could reducing have made for an easier pregnancy? Could it have helped my other two stay cooking longer and ultimately be free of the lasting effects of prematurity they have today?

I’ll never know. But what I do know… is that I made a decision. It may not have been a decision someone else would have made, but I own it, and I’m okay with the way it ended up.


Two women, two views. Different outcomes, same question.

We’d like to end by saying that every situation is different – every pregnancy, every woman, every uterus. In life, in the hardest of situations, you have to step up and do what you feel led to do. And we challenge you to put yourself out there and see the other side… to have compassion for someone you may not know for the decisions they make that are not yours to make, whether you agree with them or not. To love and support your friend through their struggle to make this decision and make sure they know you’ll be there on the other side. Because everyone deserves support. Everyone deserves at least that.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Angela’s Letter to Her Infertile Self

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(A version of this post was originally published by HDYDI author Angela on her blog, angelabickford.com.)

Writing a letterDear Infertile Self,

I know it’s hard right now. I know you’re struggling…

You think your body has let you down. It hasn’t. It just may need a little more time. You think you’ll never have kids. You will. Just maybe not the way you think or when you think you should. You wonder why all the people around you are getting pregnant so easily, and you’re not. They may not be, or they may, but you’re really just seeing it more because you want it more, not because it’s happening more. Try being happy for them.

You worry that every time you go to the bathroom, there’ll be blood on the toilet paper and you’ll be miscarrying again. Try not to worry. Find the joy in being pregnant and try not to obsess that it’ll all go wrong again. You stress over every symptom, side-effect, feeling because you ‘just know’ it means bad news. Relax. Let your body do things the way it’s designed to. Sometimes, things happen for a reason. You seclude yourself from friends and family who care because you are too depressed to do anything but read books on how to get and stay pregnant. Spend some time with them, they’ll be the ones throwing your shower and helping you with the baby when it comes, and you’ll need friends to get through motherhood too.

You obsess over every tip and resource out there to help you get pregnant and resort to bad tasting concoctions and weird sex positions to try to achieve pregnancy. These things aren’t proven to work. If they stress you out more, don’t do them. You’ve started to hate sex – it’s a chore now – a means to an end. Try to enjoy sex with your husband. Forget about the timing, the medications, the charts and restrictions, and the awkwardness. Be spontaneous. You’re going to need to get the magic back after your struggle is over, so don’t let it go completely.

You are scared to reach out, to talk about the curse of infertility, to share your troubles or relate to others who are going through the same thing. It’s such a shameful thing, to be childless. LET THAT GO, most of all. There is no shame in difficult situations, only lessons and hope, if you look hard enough. ‘Let your darkness be a light to others so they don’t hit the same rocks you did’, a great man once said.

You think you’re life will be over if you don’t have kids. It won’t. You may just have to learn to live it a different way. Remember, being a mom doesn’t just mean someone who gave birth. Find ways to be motherly – they’re all around you…

Love,
Self of Now, Mother and Overcomer

Angela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business, her job at Hand to Hold, a non-profit dedicated to preemie/NICU awareness and support, and her personal blog (angelabickford.com). Her tagline ‘Mom of Triplets. Lost One. Survived & Sharing’ is her goal in blogging and she aims to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress.

Letter to my infertile self. Hindsight is wise.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Angela’s Perspective – Honoring Moms Who Aren’t: Remembering the Bereaved or Infertile

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Whether you yourself are a bereaved mom, a woman dealing with infertility, or a friend of someone who wants to be a mom, read this. Read it. Share it.

For loss moms and infertile women

(A version of this post was originally written by HDYDI author Angela in honor of International Bereaved Mother’s Day, a day set aside in 2010 to honor moms who have lost a child, whether it be through miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, or loss at another time. It’s a day to honor the moms who ache to be moms, but have struggled with infertility and may not have ever been pregnant. Who ache for morning sickness. Who ache for sleepless nights. It’s for ALL moms who have lost a child or never had one she so desperately wanted; who the world may not see as a mom, but who feels like one even though she isn’t holding her child.)

I am a proud mom to my children.  I am a loss mom, too.  And I would like to acknowledge my babies.

Baby Bickford, miscarriage 8 weeks, 2008
Baby Bickford, miscarriage 6 weeks, 2010
Carter Eugene Bickford, infant loss – born 12/9/11, died 1/27/12

carter

And I want you to acknowledge your lost child. It doesn’t matter when you lost them, because they mattered.

A person’s a person no matter how small. ~Dr. Seuss

They mattered. And it’s time the world took notice.

To the moms who lost babies… Don’t be shy about speaking your child’s name. Or the way they left this world. The only way the world will learn to accept the loss of a child as a real thing is if we talk about it. Not just to each other. To any one. To every one. No, I’m not asking you to walk up to a stranger and say your child died. I’m asking you to be proud that they lived, for however small of a time. To be proud enough to make that time count. I’m not asking you to dwell. I’m asking you to remember. To celebrate. To make a difference in the name of your child. To give hope to those who will come after you. To be a light in their darkness.

For those who feel the ache because you have yet to even feel the joys of pregnancy, I’m asking you to be kind to yourself. To take that desire to be a mom and put it 110% into something aside from grief. Mentor. Be a great aunt. Work in your church nursery. Babysit. Find the mothering moments in every day moments that you may be missing. Not because you’ve given up, but because you’re letting precious opportunities slip by, moments that you could be sharing your motherly instincts, your motherly love with little boys and girls who may need a motherly influence in their lives. Don’t miss out on these moments. These are the moments that will prepare you for the motherhood you so deeply desire.

There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.

For the broken ones that know they will never have a child of their own, at least not from their own body, I’m asking you to find peace. Make peace with your body, your soul, and your partner. Forgive yourself for the feelings you have of guilt, like so many do. Know that you are still a mom in your heart, because in your heart is where that desire first grew, and it never died. You’ll always feel that way, that’s what makes you so beautiful.

For the moms who are moms and have never had to experience the pain of loss, know that it exists. Don’t brush it off. Don’t ignore it just because you couldn’t imagine how it must feel. Or don’t want to imagine it. Don’t ignore it because it’s too hard to talk about. If you do that, you’re telling your friend – the world – that these children don’t matter. Put yourself in our shoes, and just for a moment, feel what we do. Feel it so hard that you hurt. Feel it so much that the next time a loss mom wants to tell you about their baby or their loss, you listen. Hug. Cry. Bond. Because you are the model of what motherhood is. You are what we wish we could be. What we might never be. Remember that. And remember to always be grateful for your little ones, sleepless nights, poop-smeared wall, and all.

Love on yourself today. Love on a friend who’s feeling the loneliness of empty arms. And never, ever take a child – yours, the lost ones, or anyone else’s – for granted.

flowerAngela is a stay-at-home mom raising surviving triplets. She lost her first-born triplet, Carter, after 49 days, and her survivors, B & T, keep her pretty busy with their ongoing needs as a result of their prematurity. She manages to find time for her business, her job at Hand to Hold, a non-profit dedicated to preemie/NICU awareness and support, and her personal blog (angelabickford.com). Her tagline ‘Mom of Triplets. Lost One. Survived & Sharing’ is her goal in blogging and she aims to share with others that it’s possible to survive after loss. She and her husband live in the Houston, TX suburb of Cypress.


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

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Toddler Thursday: 10 Reasons My Toddlers Drive Me to Eat Cupcakes

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Some moms drink wine. Some exercise. Me? I eat cupcakes.

cupcakes 1

I blame it (mostly) on my toddlers, although, I’ve been a stress-eater for most of my life. It just sounds better to explain it away as the stress of raising preemies/multiples/NICU babies/surviving triplets/high ongoing need babies…

Than to admit I have a problem.

So, let’s just go with it, okay?

Here are 10 Reasons My Toddlers Drive Me to Eat Cupcakesand why you’re probably doing something similar to cope. Cause we all know this ain’t easy.

  1. It’s hard. Yes, you’ve heard it too. The lie of ‘the first year is the hardest’. WRONG. The first year is a breeze; partly because you’re half-asleep through it all and partly because at least they’re semi-containable and they sleep a lot.
  2. They move. Fast. In opposite directions. Even with only one that walks (the other is almost there, but still crawling), they still get away from me.

    Look mom, I snuck out the doggie door when you weren't looking!
    Look mom, I snuck out the doggie door when you weren’t looking!
  3. They can reach all the things they aren’t supposed to have. No matter how many times or where you move it. They will find it.
  4. They know how to give you the evil-eye. My son is particularly good at this. It’s his favorite way to disagree with me.

    I told you I don't want chicken Mommy!
    I told you I don’t want chicken Mommy!
  5. They think making you mad is funny. And they do that exact button-pushing thing over and over again just to get a rise out of you. (I eat an extra cupcake every time I realize this isn’t going to get any better…).
  6. They’ve developed stalling tactics. Just when you’ve gotten a good sleeping routine going, they have now figured out how to stall. Or get your attention by crying loudly every time you start walking them to their room. If you’ve got an easy-thrower-upper, this is not cute at all. (Wait, it’s never cute, never mind.)

    But, I don't want to go to bed!
    But, I don’t want to go to bed!
  7. They have learned their opposites. They may not know many words, or many colors, or animal sounds, but they sure know what opposites are. It’s the thing they do every time you want them to do something else.
  8. They’ve begun to lose their hearing. This goes hand in hand with pretty much all the above reasons. They’ll look right through you like you weren’t even speaking or completely ignore you like you’re yesterday’s news.

    Yep, I'm just pretending to listen. Mmmhmmm. Okay, mom, whatever you say.
    Yep, I’m just pretending to listen. Mmmhmmm. Okay, mom, whatever you say.
  9. Their little sun-shiny personalities are in full-force. Most of the time, they really are sun-shiny, but when they aren’t, they really aren’t. And they know how to throw a mean tantrum. (And this just makes me waste cupcake, because it causes me to spit some out from laughing so hard at their little show…).
  10. They are independent, except when you actually want them to be. Oh, they’ll help you with things and be all nice and stuff, until you actually need their cooperation, and then it’s like a war zone.

What about you? How do YOU do it – handle the toddler years? Share with us below some of your tips and tricks (even if one of them is that you secretly eat cupcakes in the pantry when no one is looking, just to stay sane).

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Finding Time for Romance When You Have Kids

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Marriage. Complicated at best even before you have kids. Add some multiples in the mix, and hey, let’s just say ‘ain’t nobody gettin’ lucky for awhile ’round here’.

LifeHacker.com recently posted an infographic with some interesting statistics on what makes a marriage happy, so this is definitely a hot topic. In fact, they said that the happiest couples are the ones without kids and that satisfaction levels in marriage drop for 67% of married persons.

Ouch.

So, when you have multiples (or kids in general), how do you keep your marriage relationship healthy? How do you find the time for romance? Well, with today being Valentine’s Day, we here at HDYDI figured we’d offer up some advice.

Before we dive into the juicy tips, I want to share a few resources we’ve found that can help in spicing up your marriage (did you see our giveaway today!?!) and having a healthy marriage after kids.

Healthy Marriage Resources

Books

{affiliate links}

Internet Resources

Alright, let’s get to the tips!

Romancing the Marriage…

Ldskatelyn was sick of not going on regular dates with her husband, and tired of asking the question “what should we do?” when the opportunity for a date night did appear, often resulting in the super over-done dinner and a movie date. So, for Christmas 2012 she planned out a year of date nights for her husband – 24 dates, 1 date night in and 1 date night out each month. All he had to do was pick the day! While some of the planned dates didn’t happen on schedule, or were switched with other dates, or included the kids, she ended up having way more date nights than she would’ve had otherwise. She especially found that date night ins were a great thing to have planned, especially since you can’t always afford the time or the cost of getting out, and it sure beat just watching movies or TV shows every night. For a look at what date nights she planned over the course of her year and how you can make your own ‘year of dates’, check out this post.

Not having family close-by, or a budget to hire a sitter very often, MandyE and her husband enjoy date nights “in” to stay connected with each other. For inspiration, they often think back to what they enjoyed together before their girls were born. While they haven’t made it to a college football game in the past five years, one of their favorite “dates” is to set up a tailgating event, complete with all their most-loved appetizers… even if it means watching the big game on tape delay. They find it’s a meaningful way to relax and remind themselves how much they enjoy each other’s company. See more of her date night ideas here.

SarahP understands that some people have a hard time leaving new babies. She says you should take people up on their offers to watch your kids and get out with your spouse (she’s really big on regular dates). Hanging out at home is great too, but actually leaving your home to do something together is also really vital. She encourages parents to change up their dates too. Do you want to be adventurous by exploring food you’ve never had before? What odd-ball Groupons are available? If you always go out to eat, maybe do something like ice skating or bowling. Do things that help you get to know the area you live in better. She’s very adamant that married couples should be spending quality time with their spouses, and it’s made a big difference in her marriage.

DoryDoyle shares an article on her blog about Love and Marriage and Parenting Twins. This is her first year of marriage with babies in tow, and she wanted to reflect on how to keep her marriage strong while raising twins. She shares that the statistics for couples raising multiples isn’t encouraging, and that it’s important to keep an eye on your relationship-meter. She gives 9 great tips on things she and her hubby do to have both a solid marriage (including romance!) and have fun parenting.

Marissa explains that because of her situation (complex medical needs), she and her husband really couldn’t both be gone that first year. So they did the next best thing – had a sitter come over and stay upstairs while they enjoyed take-out and a movie downstairs. No baby monitor to distract them either, because they were still right there in case of a medical need.

One of our newest contributors, MariTherrien says it’s the little things that matter. A quick backrub or playing with her hair the way she likes. Remembering your first date-iversary with a card, getting your partner’s favorite coffee or little treat at the store. Romance doesn’t always have to be movie-like grand gestures. When you do the little things you send the message that s/he matters!

They’re right. Going out on dates with your spouse – finding that time time bond – is pretty important. But, today is Valentine’s Day already, so how are you going to put together something that will show your spouse you’re serious about this romance thing?

Here’s what I did this year (see pic below). I made mine on HeritageMakers.com, but I also designed some free printable coupons where all you have to do is fill in the blanks and give  it to your spouse. It’s a cute idea that will start getting you on the right track towards adding that romance back in.

valentines gift love coupons

More Than Just Romance…

Now, romance is great and all, but let’s face it, there are other things that are also important to keeping a marriage healthy, like communication.

Sadia emphasizes that a marriage takes two, and it’s about more than just romance (although, that certainly helps!). She gives these tips:

  • ALWAYS say “I love you.” And always mean it.
  • Listen to understand, not just to respond.
  • Acknowledge your partner’s efforts, no matter how small.
  • Choose to be in love every single day.
  • Nurture your partner’s values, even if you don’t share them.
  • Don’t try to be everything to your partner. It’s okay for them to have friends to share certain interests with.

RebeccaD has one add-on to Sadia’s list above: figure out how to manage your own stress. Raising twins is STRESSFUL, especially the first year. If you don’t know how to manage it positively (or if you’re in need of new strategies now that time for workouts, spa dates, and sleep is nil), it will come out negatively at the nearest available adult—namely, your spouse.

I agree with them. Ever flown before? In the event of an emergency, you’re supposed to put on your air mask first, then help your children. Why? Because if you pass out while trying to help them, then you’re both doomed. And that’s the thing. The biggest piece of advice we can give you today:

Take care of your marriage first (or at least make it a strong priority), and parenting will fall into place.

When Romance & Marriage Just Aren’t Working…

This couldn’t go without saying, so here’s a side note from us HDYDI moms that have had a marriage end: We realize that not every marriage is a happy one, even if you’ve tried the above suggestions. So, if one spouse decides that they want out and has no interest in making things work, it’s time for both of you to put the children first and minimize the anguish of what is an unavoidably heartbreaking situation. Don’t get vindictive. Don’t get mean. Help your children know that they will never have to choose between their parents. You can’t convince someone to stay in a marriage after their commitment and heart have left it.

How do you keep your marriage strong and your romance alive? Tell us your tips and let’s all have a happier Valentine’s Day!

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The Christian Parenting Handbook – A Book Review

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Christian Parenting Handbook Review

We’ve reviewed this book here on the blog before, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s just one of those books that is an all-around great resource, and it’s set up in a way that makes it a pick and choose kind of book, since each chapter is a different strategy.

And, did you know that you can even use these strategies with your spouse? I do! That’s one of my favorite parts about this book – it’s for all ages!

The Christian Parenting Handbook

Here’s my favorite summary of the book from the back cover:

With these strategies you’ll be able to move from behavior modification to a heart-based approach to parenting. Instead of relying on rewards, incentives, threats, and punishment, you’ll learn how to identify heart lessons to teach your child and implement them in practical ways.

So, like Love & Logic, which I reviewed yesterday, you’re incorporating the heart (and empathy) into the mix. But, unlike Love & Logic, you don’t use punishment, and this isn’t about control, it’s about building character, which aligns more with the Positive Parenting approach that I decided to apply after not choosing to go with Love & Logic.

Here’s just a few of the chapter titles to give you an idea of the lessons:

  • Consistency is Overrated (didn’t expect that one, did you?)
  • Consequences Aren’t the Only Answer
  • Don’t Minimize Your Parenting Power Because Your Partner Does It Differently
  • It Takes Two to Argue, but Only One to Stop (this chapter was a great one for my marriage!)
  • Teach Kids to Be Solvers Instead of Whiners (my favorite chapter that I applied immediately with my son)
  • Fair Doesn’t Mean Equal (good sibling advice here)
  • Firmness Doesn’t Require Harshness
  • Children Who Play the Blame Game Lose
  • Don’t Give In to Manipulation
  • Discipline Kids Separately for Sibling Conflict (look, a chapter about siblings!!!)

Are you happy to see that they deal with siblings (multiples in our case) in this parenting book? I know I was! There are some great strategies on how to handle different situations you’ll encounter while disciplining more than one child, and I definitely appreciated that these were included in the book.

The book says it’s for ages 2-18, but I actually started using it when my survivors were 16 months old. My son was particularly difficult (well, normal for the age, but just more ‘curious’ and strong-willed) and I went straight to the chapter about teaching kids to be solvers instead of whiners. And you know what? It wasn’t really about him at all. It was about me and how I handled the situation. That was kind of humbling to realize, but when I changed my approach, things fell into place. You can read about that incident on my original review (scroll to the bottom half of the article where the review starts).

curious boy

As for the Christian aspect of the book, don’t let that turn you off if ‘Christian’ isn’t your thing. While the book does reference scripture, they don’t throw it in your face and you can still benefit from the lessons and suggestions in the book. And, like I mentioned before, it even works on your spouse!

If you’d like to check out The Christian Parenting Handbook, I highly recommend it. An added bonus of this book is that there’s even a workbook add-on you can purchase that helps you apply these principles through practice. This is especially helpful if you’re someone who needs to do more than read to really understand a concept.

See you on Friday, where I’ll share some great relationship building ideas for keeping the romance alive after kids!

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Is Parenting with Love & Logic Possible with Multiples?

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Parenting with Love & Logic

This is a book review of Parenting with Love & Logic. This post is not meant to be judgmental, I’m just sharing what has (and hasn’t) worked for me.

I don’t know about you, but getting my children to behave and do what I want them to do is not easy. Times two. We throw food, we pull hair, we say no, we ignore directions. It’s a ton of fun. So, how do I handle it?

Coming from a background where my mom and stepdad parented one way, and my dad and stepmom a completely different way, I was fortunate to see how I didn’t want to parent. While you’ll never see me spank my child, and I rarely yell at them (unless it’s a dangerous situation), I realize that every person parents differently.

My MOMs group recently had a parenting guru come out and talk to us about the Love & Logic approach and how to incorporate it. Initially, I loved the approach. It didn’t advocate spanking or yelling, and I thought I’d give it a try.

Love & Logic book

When reading Parenting With Love And Logic, I started to have some reservations about the book. It has some great points and talked about how to let kids make mistakes (I agree) and learn from them with natural consequences (I agree) but it kept using the word ‘control’. How by being calm and loving, and using logical consequences as punishment, we could control our kids and their behavior. The book even says it will help you “establish control over your kids.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not that into being controlled. And when I try and control what my child is doing, it usually ends in tantrums. 

I also had an issue with the fact that the book didn’t address how to handle multiples. When the coach was speaking to our group, she was asked several questions that she couldn’t answer. She did say that it would be like any sibling sets (yeah, right), but when one mom brought up what to do when one child throws a fit at McDonalds and the other is being good, her response was to leave McDonalds. Doesn’t that punish the other child, too? She then followed up with a solution to leave and just explain to the ‘good’ child that they will get some benefit by leaving that the ‘bad’ child wouldn’t. A lot of the moms scoffed at that. I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that this might encourage more sibling rivalry, and it will certainly build up a heart of hatred between family members who feel wronged.

Imagine: your twins share a room. You have to punish one by taking out all the books because they are tearing them up, but the other twin hasn’t done anything wrong and loves to read. So, you are now punishing both of them, when only one did something wrong. You’re also still punishing, and the child who is getting punished is going to feel controlled and angry. Even when you approach it with love and logic. Have you taught them to treat the books right? Have you asked them why they tore the book, gotten to the heart of the matter (although, some examples do have you do this in the book, not all do)? Have you taught them to manage their frustrations and cope so that they know what’s normal and acceptable? Or that’s it’s okay to be angry, but this is how you handle it? No. If you’re using the Love & Logic method, you’ve just taken the books away and tried again the next night to put them back, repeating this until they no longer tear books. AND you’ve also punished the ‘good’ twin, who is now probably angry at the ‘bad’ twin and maybe even you.

I realize that we can’t always be ‘fair’ in parenting, and I do think there are some benefits to the Love & Logic method (like the empathy, logical consequences, and responsibility aspects), but I don’t think that consequences have to equal punishments.

So, I moved on. Looked for another angle – one that would meet the needs of my preferences and family. I became very interested in the Positive Parenting method (this is NOT the same as attachment parenting). I am a huge fan of Aha, Parenting! and have linked to her article about what positive parenting is, but the basic definition is this:

Positive parenting is parenting without punishment. It’s parenting that teaches the child to want to behave, to be considerate, to recognize and regulate their emotions, and eventually, to self-discipline.

Now, you do still discipline your kids, but did you know that discipline comes from the word disciple, which means, ‘to teach’? It’s not the same as punishment. That was important to me.

Another great resource for positive parenting comes from the Positive Parenting Connection. I love how she explains that kids respond better to guidance vs. control. How many times have you given your child milk, but they didn’t want it and it became a battle of wills? Guide them, instead. Help them feel a tiny bit in control and give them choices. Teach them to tap into their feelings and understand their emotions.

That article I just linked to above? Here’s a great excerpt from it:

Punishments and disconnected consequences like standing in a corner do not help with any of that. Like when my daughter ripped the picture, sitting in the corner was not going to make the picture whole again. It also was not going to teach her how to manage her frustrations or how to make amends with her brother.

So, this solves one of my issues with Love & Logic, but what about the multiples issue? Well, when you aren’t using punishment, you don’t run into as many fairness issues or anger issues from either party. When you use methods of guidance, you’re teaching everyone at the same time, and even fairly most of the time.

This method has worked significantly better for me with my surviving triplets than the Love & Logic method, and I’m happier too – I feel more connected to my children and like I’m helping develop them, not just control them. And I especially love that I am starting to really see the benefits and the learning set in. I have some really loving, helpful, considerate children. Well, most of the time.

Instead of being selfish, we’re caring for others and helping (she wanted to wear the hat, but couldn’t figure out how to put it on).

kids helping

Instead of fighting, we’re sharing (even stuff that’s exclusively ours!).

kids sharing

Instead of getting ‘in the way’, we’re learning expectations and life lessons (like cooking, cooperating, helping – and patience).

kids cooperating

And, ultimately, we’re able to be this:

happy mom and kids

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about another book I use that comes from a Christian perspective and mixes in some of the principles of each of these two methods.

What about you? What type of parent are you? Do you punish? Give choices? Use consequences? I truly believe there is no one right or wrong way, and that only you can decide what works best for your family.

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HDYDI MoM-Approved Toys

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It’s that time of year when many of us are thinking about fun and educational things for our little ones.  With so many toys on the market…and SO MANY ADVERTISEMENTS…what things are really worth the money and the space allocation in the play room?

toys

The MoMs of HDYDI have put together a list of some of the tried-and-true toys that have been hits at their houses.  We hope you’ll find this a useful resource as you make your shopping lists!

Infants

Introduce reading without worrying about damaging books!

Cloth books. The best way to instill a love of reading and not go crazy with ripped pages (trust me, pages get torn!) is to get creative. How? Soft books! These come in classics, educational, holiday, and more. We have a few lying around, and not only do they help introduce reading, they make a great chew toy! Getting them by 12/2 will also help benefit the Celebrate Carter fundraiser. (angelabickford3)

Nesting cups or bowls.  The best $4 I ever spent was on a set of stacking cups.  They were perfect for our girls to grasp as infants…building towers was a great challenge when the girls were 12-18 months…and almost five years later, the cups serve a million different pretend scenarios. (MandyE)

Cooperating to make a tower at two years old.
Cooperating to make a tower at two years old.
Twins playing together with an activity table from hdydi.com
Playing together at age 10 months.

Activity table. I saw my daughters drawn to an activity table in the waiting room of our pediatrician’s office. I looked it up online and was surprised to find how affordable they were. My girls loved to fiddle and twirl all the knobs, levers and buttons. It helped them learn about cause and effect, and the fact that they could play simultaneously was a huge plus. Most models are pretty good for relatively young infants, since they can be used without the legs to keep babies occupied during tummy time. Add the legs, and these toys can keep toddlers occupied for comparatively long periods of time. (Sadia)

A set of 3 soft blocks makes a great first block set!

Baby blocks. Just another block? Nope! These are 5×5 inch blocks that are made of fabric and stuffed with soft material! We love our soft blocks because they can be used as ‘balls’, pillows (I’ve done this a few times), chew toys, and are educational. They also benefit the Celebrate Carter fundraiser if you buy them by 12/2. (angelabickford3)

One to Two Years

DSC_0540
Step 2 Deluxe Kitchen

Play kitchen.  We got a kitchen play set when our girls were two.  Three years later, our girls still play with it every day, as do any friends — boys or girls — who come to visit.  A wise fellow twin mama advised me to get the largest kitchen our space would allow, and I am very glad we did.  Both my girls can easily play at the kitchen.  The larger set also has room for the many accessories we’ve accumulated…play food, a pastry set, and a tea set.  Those have made great additions at subsequent holidays / birthdays. (MandyE)

Each of our girls had a car.  Many times, they both played...but just as often, they loved to push each other.  Teamwork!!!
Each of our girls had a car. Many times, they both played…but just as often, they loved to push each other. Teamwork!!!

Ride-on toys.  Our girls got ride-on cars when they were a year old.  They played with them for two solid years!  Long after their legs were doubled up to sit on them, the cars served as strollers for their baby dolls, fire engines, and vehicles for their many stuffed animals to drive.  We always used our cars inside, but many of these type toys are suitable for outside, too. (MandyE)

Two to Four Years

Big enough for four to play!
Big enough for four to play!

Train set.  When our girls were three, we got them a wooden train set, and it’s been a great investment.  We bought a Melissa & Doug set, but we’ve added different pieces from Thomas, Imaginarium, and IKEA, as those sets interchangeable.  We opted not to get a train table.  Instead, our girls play with the set more like a puzzle…and the older they’ve gotten, the more complex their set-ups get.  At soon-to-be five years old, they like to see how many loops they can create, or if they can make the set circle around the loveseat. (MandyE)

These kept my kids entertained for hours!

Quiet books and felt boards. Need something to help keep your little one occupied? I love, love, love our quiet books and felt boards. They keep even my busy one entertained and were super helpful for our 17 hour road trip. There are all sorts of choices too, for both boys and girls! And, if you get them before 12/1, you’ll help benefit the Celebrate Carter fundraiser. (angelabickford3)

Matchbox cars. These are cheap (sometimes less than a dollar a car) and small. They make excellent stocking stuffers and surprise gifts for a long car ride. We have a medium size white bin with a lid where we keep the cars. The boys call the white bin the “garage” and often bring it upstairs and dump out their cars to line them up, pretend race, or just drive them around the house. My boys got their first Matchbox car from my brother for their second birthday and still use them today, at age five. However, I would caution against buying the Matchbox car accessories (the race tracks, the large boat, the command centers, etc…) as they are like most newer plastic toys; they break easily and disappoint the boys after just a few plays. (Janna)

Legos have a lot more variety these days than in our childhood.
Big kid Legos have a lot more variety these days than in our childhood.

Legos.  We’ve probably had our Duplo Legos longer than any other toy. They were a hand-me-down when the boys were 18 months old. They played with them just occasionally in the beginning, but a year later at 2.5 years old, they were building towers almost every day. At five years old, they still play with them, though at this point, we’re planning on passing on the Duplo Legos as they are plenty old enough for ‘real’ Legos. (Janna)

Art supplies. The boys’ bachelor uncle with no kids surprised us all when he gave the boys their own giant watercolor pads and a full set of water color paints and a paint brush. It was the biggest hit that Christmas (at 3.5). Doing art projects with twins can be very messy and overwhelming so while we’d painted occasionally, we hadn’t given them their own supplies yet. They love having their own giant paper and paintbrush and paints. We now paint almost weekly and they also use the large paper for stickers, coloring or other art projects. (Janna)

Twins playing with a sand and water table from hdydi.com
At age two, my girls could be trusted not to try to eat the sand. Staying dry was a different story.

Sand and water tables. Our sand and table was a huge hit with all the neighborhood toddlers, whether it contained water, sand or both. This was the first toy that could quite literally keep my girls occupied for hours. I’d definitely recommend getting a table with a lid if you’ll ever leave it outside. I loved that mine had a drain on each side that could be opened from below to easily empty it for storage. Playgrade sand is easy to find at home improvement stores. (Sadia)

Teach the concept of time with a doll!

TimeIN dolls. These dolls have been a lifesaver for our two! They teach the concept of time and can be used to help potty train, teach skills like zipping, to teach about sharing, quality time with a parent, or other time-related concepts, and are just over-all super cute. They also benefit the Celebrate Carter fundraiser if you get them by 12/2! (angelabickford3)

Four to Six Years

Blocks. Trio blocks entered our house when our girls were four.  The girls could click them together pretty well, and the way the blocks snap means that the structures are very solid.  The girls can then play with the bird / cat / castle / zoo that they build, without fear that it will fall apart. (MandyE)

From Fisher-Price
From Fisher-Price
Our girls can play with these for an hour!
Our girls can play with these for an hour!

Magnetic pattern blocks.  These have been a prominent fixture since our girls were almost four.

They love creating patterns on cookie sheets, and this mama loves that there is so much inherent geometry at play, too. There are all sorts of pattern cards you can find to prompt designs, and the possibilities for open-ended play are endless.  (MandyE)

Lincoln Logs: We just received these from the neighbors three months ago, and the boys have used them every day to build elaborate log cabin villages. This is currently their favorite toy. Much younger than four, the Lincoln Logs would have probably frustrated their fingers, but for 4+up this is a great creative toy. (Janna)

Games.  For kids 3-6, don’t forget the board games (CandyLand, Chutes & Ladders, Hungry Hungry Hippos) and card games (Uno, Playskool Crazy 8s, Spud Rummy and Go Fish).  They are great for counting, taking turns, and learning to win and lose gracefully.  (Janna)

K’Nex. These building toys are made up of ribs and joints that fit together in 3 dimensions. I confess to having as much fun playing with our K’Nex collection as my daughters. They go back and forth between building everyday objects and abstract constructs. They sell Kid K’Nex, which are a larger and chunkier version of the original designed for smaller hands. I’d definitely recommend looking for K’Nex on Ebay or Craigslist, because it’s quite pricey brand new. (Sadia)

Dress up fun!

Capes. Kids LOVE dressing up, and a custom cape can add to the collection and make adventures more fun. If you get your cape before 12/1, it benefits the Celebrate Carter Fundraiser. (angelabickford3)

Older Children

Get your budding writer their first journal!

Journals. I loved writing as a kid – still do! Of course, I had a diary, a journal, a special to-do list book, etc. etc. I’m still that way. That’s why I think this is the perfect gift for a budding writer. You can choose from one of their pre-printed books (some aren’t appropriate for little eyes) or you can create a custom book. Super cute and they benefit the Celebrate Carter fundraiser if you get them by 12/1. (angelabickford3)

American Girl Dolls and Books. I confess that when I first heard about these dolls, recommended for age 8 and up, I thought they were an overpriced fad. As it turns out, though, we absolutely love the books that go with them. American Girl makes contemporary dolls with clothes to match their owner, but the ones we love are the historical dolls and the books that accompany them. Each historical doll is set at a particular point in history, and the well-written books allow little girls to explore what life was like for children in different points in US history. I’ve been getting my daughters new American Girls books for several years now, and they have yet to get old. Our local library has a decent selection of these books too. A while ago, a close friend of mine gave my girls her Molly (WWII) clothing and book collection, and my usually doll-averse kids love them.(Sadia)

siennas-locketSienna’s Locket. I really like this book. Not only is it written by a twin mom about her twins, but it’s related to special needs and seeing the world through different eyes. My kids love books already, but this is better geared towards older children (ages 3-12) and is an easy read for a new reader. The illustrations are beautiful too. If you have a special needs child or want to teach compassion to your children, Sienna’s Locket is so cute. If you purchase it by 12/2, you’ll help benefit the Celebrate Carter fundraiser. (angelabickford3)

Card and board games. Older children are ready for adult-orientated card and board games. My daughters love Monopoly, Scrabble, Boggle, Labyrinth, Mille Bornes and Fluxx. (Sadia)

Write notes to the tooth fairy & get a note back!

Tooth Fairy Kit. If your child likes to write notes and is at the point where they are loosing teeth, this cute tooth fairy kit makes a great, unique gift. This item also benefits the Celebrate Carter fundraiser through 12/2. (angelabickford3)

Make gardening fun!

Gardening fun. If your kids like to be outdoors and are interested in gardening at all, Plantables & Paper offers great seed starter kits that are fun, colorful, and serve a purpose. You can even plant paper and watch it grow. This item also benefits the Celebrate Carter Fundraiser through 12/1. (angelabickford3)

 

Not Quite a Toy

There are some great items for kids that aren’t quite toys, but that will help make life on mom a bit easier. Check out some of the Celebrate Carter Fundraiser items shown in the picture below. These items are available through December 2nd.

These items are for baby & kids to USE, but aren't toys. They're just things to make mom's life easier.
These items are for baby & kids to USE, but aren’t toys. They’re just things to make mom’s life easier.

Experiential gifts and gift cards.  One gift that keeps on giving and is fun for the whole family is a gift membership to the zoo, the children’s museum, or the botanical gardens.  A gift certificate for admittance into the bouncy house my girls think is just great.  They’ve also enjoyed gift cards for the yogurt shop / ice cream parlor.  And they think it’s pretty special to have their own money to shop at the bookstore.  (MandyE)

What are some of your kiddos’ favorite toys?  We’d love to hear your experiences, from one MoM to another!

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NICU Graduates: A Picture Round-up

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Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


Thank you for joining us this week as we shared our experiences, reflected on our journeys, and celebrated our milestones in the name of prematurity awareness.  Rounding out our series, the HDYDI MoMs are proud to showcase some of our NICU graduates.


Preemies shortly after birth compared to age 7 from hdydi.com
Sadia’s daughters M (top left and on the inside bottom) and J (top right and on the outside bottom) were born at 33 weeks but are now doing more than fine at age 7. They’re dancers, bookworms, pet lovers, Girl Scouts, best friends and the light of Sadia’s life. They read about 3 grades above their age level. M plans to be a restauranteur, astronaut and mother of quadruplets. J intends to be a teacher and dancer.
Preemies grow up strong from hdydi.com
Margie’s boys, Wesley (top row) and Andrew (bottom row) spent two weeks in the NICU after being born via emergency c-section (on their scheduled 38 week scheduled delivery date) due to an undetected blood disorder that caused extreme complications hours before their actual scheduled delivery time. After several blood transfusions each, having a seizure (Andrew) and receiving several rounds of platelets, the boys beat the odds and came home happy and healthy. The photos on the left were taken the day after their birth. After only a quick glimpse in the delivery room, the boys were rush off to receive immediate medical assistance and Margie and her husband were not allowed to see them until the following morning. The entire day seemed surreal, knowing she delivered two babies, not being able to see them and still having a big twin belly. Margie says those first few days were the hardest, scariest and saddest days she’s ever experienced. The photos to the right show the boys in the NICU after most of the wires and tubes had been removed. They are two of Margie’s most treasured photos.
4
Wesley and Andrew just celebrated their 4th birthday and love living life at 100mph! Wesley wants to drive an ambulance someday to help sick people, and Andrew dreams of being an astronaut.
Preemies grow up healthy and strong! from hdydi.com
MandyE’s fraternal twin girls were born at 34 weeks and spent 10 days in the NICU. They will celebrate their fifth birthday in January with their very blessed family.
Angela's triplets were born at 27 weeks and 5 days after a month of hospital bed rest. They weighed a little over 2 pounds each. Carter only lived 49 days and Braden & Tenley came home after 4 and 3 months. They fought through L3/4 brain bleeds, shunts, NEC, seizures, sensory issues, feeding issues and GERD, and still have ongoing therapy. In the end though, Angela feels blessed and is very proud of how far her little preemies have come.
Angela’s triplets were born at 27 weeks and 5 days after a month of hospital bed rest. They weighed a little over 2 pounds each. Carter only lived 49 days and Braden & Tenley came home after 4 and 3 months. They fought through L3/4 brain bleeds, shunts, NEC, seizures, sensory issues, feeding issues and GERD, and still have ongoing therapy. In the end though, Angela feels blessed and is very proud of how far her little preemies have come.

 

Insert caption here
Carolyn’s first son was born at 31 weeks, followed two years later by her twin boys, at 27 weeks.  Now five and three years old, they are her superheroes.
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