Preschool, Food Allergies and IEP's "OH MY"!

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Categories Medical, Preschoolers, Theme WeekTags 2 Comments

Let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Lara and I am a single mother by choice to 3.5 year old twin boys, Clay and Reese. I have been following HDYDI for a couple of years now and I am very excited to be a contributor. I really enjoy blogging but due to my schedule recently my blog has been ignored. I am hoping that writing here will re-ignite my blog writing, the boy’s being in preschool again will also help.

The countdown has begun! As of right now there are 13 days left until preschool starts this year, I can vividly remember one of the back to school commercials with the parents singing “it’s the most wonderful time of the year”. We had a taste of it last year from January-June and everyone benefited, but it didn’t come without some work. They attended two 1/2 day sessions a week. This year they are going 4 full days.  We are blessed enough to have a wonderful public school system in a very small community. When my son Reese was aging out of early intervention and still needed services the next place was the public preschool. Initially I was told that only he was going to be admitted mid-year but I put my foot down, insisted that I was not sending one without the other, and suddenly they had spots for both boys. I got that news in September. The boy’s turned 3 years old in December and Reese’s services at that point would be the school’s responsibility. There was a lot of meetings and planning.

In September, I met with the principal, speech therapist, occupational therapist, school nurse, preschool teacher and his current therapist’s, to decide what his “needs” were and if further testing would be required prior to writing his IEP (Individual  Educational Plan).  It was decided that no further testing was needed but that a plan was needed to address his severe peanut allergy in the classroom and seizure disorder. I did my research and came back with a plan in October when we sat down to write the plan.

Thankfully, his peanut allergy is by ingestion only so he can be near peanut products. I was so afraid he was going to be ostracized because of the school’s fears. But a plan was developed that they felt safe with and that I could live with. Of course we need to revisit the plan this year since he will be eating lunch there. As for the seizures, again it was the education of the staff but in this case it was my feeling safe with the plan.

The IEP was like a foreign language to me, luckily a good friend of mine is a special education teacher and reviewed it prior to me signing it. He receives 30 minutes of Speech and OT a week right now, which will be re-evaluated in October.  I have noticed a difference in his speech intelligibility and his confidence. My concerns have now shifted to his emotional regulation, inattentiveness and impulsiveness, all of these will be discussed.

Clay had some trouble adjusting to Reese being pulled for his services, but they were great in the beginning and just let him go also. I have found the structure, activities and time away from home to be very positive for both boys’. With that said it had been a lot of work, letting go and trusting other’s to keep my children safe and just watching them grow up.

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First Trip to the ER

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Categories Medical7 Comments

WOAH.  I’ve had such a crazy last four days, that as I sit down to write my HDYDI post, it’s all I can think about so I’d like to tell you allll about it.  Go ahead- sit down and maybe get a drink… you might need one after hearing all this- ha!

Friday night: I was getting the bath ready, undressing the girls etc., when Riley decided to pee on the floor , then: while in the tub, she gagged herself and threw up.  Luckily her sister was already out when her dinner joined her in the tub.  But Reese was unclothed, freezing, and not happy about it.

Saturday: We had 24 people coming over that evening- 15 kids and 9 kids as we were having our March of Dimes team over.  Riley decided that it would be a good day to have fever… just hours before the arrival of the crowd.  Ugh!  It was too late to cancel, but we put her to bed early and it was fine.

Sunday: I bought the girls these adorable (dollar!) sunglasses because they love to wear ours around.

They LOVED them. Until… Riley was crawling around a corner when Reese FELL on her head!  The sunglasses cut her forehead- deep!  Riley Grace had her first ER trip.  :(  But instead of stitches, they glued her cut closed.  STRESS a mama out!  Ahhh!

Monday: Yesterday when things were looking up, Reese began throwing up.  Is there any sickness our kids catch that’s worse?!  I sure despise the stomach bug.

Today: things are much better.  Life sure can be crazy, but at least we have some great stories to tell. :)

Anyone else have such a crazy weekend??!! :)

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One Sick Child

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Categories Medical3 Comments

It happened last week: my worst parenting fear.  Riley had the dreaded stomach bug. Throw up = I want to run away.  When I was an elementary school teacher, on the first day of school when teachers oh so nicely go over the rules, I would always tell my kids, “If you ever feel sick like they’re going to throw up, don’t walk but RUN out of my classroom.  You will not get in trouble for running or leaving without permission.  RUN to the bathroom and then go straight to the nurse’s office.  If you want to take my trashcan with you, you may.  But remember- RUN.”  Such a sweet, sensitive teacher I was. :)  One time though, a kid took the trashcan and later came back to return it… sick!  I had to rephrase my ‘throw up speech’ the next year… “I don’t need the trashcan back- thanks.”  ha!  ANYWAY… back to MY child.  Riley Grace was just beyond pitiful last week.  She had blow out diapers and couldn’t keep anything down.  Her normal tiny self usually has a huge appetite and is soooo happy.  She just wanted me to hold her and cried and cried.  All the while… I still had a healthy, ENERGETIC daughter to take care of as well.  As I’d hold Riley and rock her, Reese would come over and try to sit in my lap, try to push her sister off, bring me books to read her, and fuss, fuss, fuss because SHE wanted Mommy to play with her.  How hard!!  I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to let her go play with my nephew at my sister’s house one day, so I could take care of Riley and bring her to the doctor.  And thankfully, Reese has stayed well.  I’m very surprised!  They tend to share everything!  So, ladies, HOW do you do it?!  When one’s sick and one isn’t- it’s so hard to meet both kids’ needs.  Don’t you think?  I’m worn out just thinking about it.  The good news is: we all survived and are all well now.  YAY!  Have you experienced this too?

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Sick times two

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Categories Medical6 Comments

Last night, I took one of my daughters (7 months old) to see the doctor because I thought she had pink eye.  I was right.  Now, I’m supposed to try to keep her from touching her eyes, and to keep her hands clean so she doesn’t spread it to anyone else. This is only the second time the girls have been sick.  Last time was a cold that everyone in the house had. But now I’m thinking about the coming fall and winter’s cold and flu season. I use separate wash clothes for girls when one is sick, but they still sleep together, play together, and spend most of the day close together.  And, I don’t sterilize between breastfeedings :).

What do you do when one multiple gets sick, especially when they are too young to understand about washing hands and coughing in their sleeves? How do you manage with two sick, demanding little ones?  And, for those with older children, how do you teach them to avoid spreading germs when they are contagious?

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The First Year

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Categories Birth Stories, MedicalTags , 9 Comments

The past few days, I’ve been flooded with feelings… how do I describe it?  It’s excitement, but also a bit of shock or it might even be denial?!  You see my twins will be O-N-E in about a month.  Many of you have been there-(I loved Laura C’s post a few months ago about Birthday Emotions… I’m beginning to relate!) I can’t pinpoint the exact reason it’s so emotional for me- maybe because we have all survived a YEAR of craziness or because my precious tiny miracle babies are growing up!  It really hit me this last weekend when we went to the NICU reunion.  OH how I loved showing off my big, healthy baby girls, but it brought back a flood of emotions too. 

After a long road with infertility and IVF, we were elated to be pregnant and with TWINS- we had no idea what was in store for us!  :)  I had a normal pregnancy and never would have guessed I would have had them so early.  On September 4, 2008, I went to my scheduled perinatologist appointment.  The doctor told me/showed me that Twin B (Riley)’s blood flow was not sufficient through the umbilical cord for some reason.  She was suddenly significantly smaller than Twin A (Reese) which had never been the case before, so the dr wanted the girls and me hooked to heart monitors… to be monitored.  The nurse brought me to another room, hooked me up and just left me there.  Everything was kind of in slow motion, but I just kept thinking it would all be okay.  All I could really think about was that I hadn’t eaten and was STARVING.  While watching the print out of my babies’ heartbeats and dreaming about Chick-Fil-A, I noticed the bottom line (Riley) dropping really low.  Not good.   I suddenly realized the extent on this little “problem” when my OB walked in.  When your perinatologist calls your OB from a different office building completely, you KNOW something’s up.  Dr. H was so sweet, cool, and calm as she explained to me that it would be better for the girls if they came into the world for care due to Riley’s dipping heart rate.  And since I was only 30 weeks, we needed to deliver at a hospital with a Level 3 NICU, which meant she could not do the Emergency C-Section and I could not deliver at my hospital.  WHAT?!  Not a moment you want to experience and especially not alone! My hubby came to pick me up and bring me to the hospital.  We were so scared.


We got checked in (after asking directions to this unknown hospital) and I was given a steroid shot for my twins’ lung development.  We learned that with every contraction I was having (I think they were just Braxton Hicks??), Riley would get MAD and her heart rate would drop.  They gave me a shot to stop the contractions, but no such luck.  Within two hours and only 1 steroid shot in my system , Dr. Owens, whom I met minutes before, said it was time to get the girls out… at 30 weeks and 1 day.  Due to my Harrington Rods (surgery to correct scoliosis in 1995), the anesthesiologist attempted an epidural SIX places, but had no luck (QUITE painful the next day), so I was knocked out while my hubby waited outside.  Reese Abigail was born at 5:29 PM weighing 3 lbs and Riley Grace was born at 5:30 PM weighing 2 lbs 3 oz.  


Reese when she was 3 days old

DSCF1231Riley when she was 3 days old

The NICU was amazing- the nurses were so kind, reassuring, and knowledgeable.  The doctors were amazing as well.  By the grace of God, my babies were not born with any health issues.  They had to learn to breathe outside the womb and stayed awhile in order to learn and master the “suck, swallow, breathe” reflex- eating and breathing are quite important!  So after many tears from mommy and daddy (it’s scary to see your babies so small and sad to leave them each night), bacterial infections, staph infections, blood transfusions, Riley (who was named the “feisty one”) pulling out her feeding tube at least twice a day, jaundice, weight gains and losses, and finally mastering feeding after 38 days for Reese and 55 for Riley, we were finally home with our angels: Reese 4 lbs 9 oz, Riley 3 lbs 11 oz.  I couldn’t believe that we were allowed to take them home! :)  I have to admit we were terrified.  

They’ve come a long way this year (and so have we… we kinda know what we’re doing now) and it was a joy to see those nurses and dr at the NICU Reunion, so they could see with their own eyes- the fruits of their labor!   I will never forget September 4, 2008, Reese and Riley’s birth day, as “blurry” as it feels.  It was the day my life changed forever- for the better.  As a year is approaching, I’m so thankful, have fallen more and more in love with my husband watching him with his girls, and my heart melts daily when Reese and Riley’s eyes light up when they see ME, their mama.  Their first birthday will be a CELEBRATION of how far they have come and what little miracles they are!  I guess that’s why I have been so emotional… it’s thanksgiving.  Overwhelming thanksgiving.  


Reese when she was 309 days old (She now weighs 18 lbs)

DSC03072Riley when she was 309 days old (She now weighs 16 1/2 lbs)

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A Message to the Pediatric Dentists of America…

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Categories Behavior, Medical, ToddlersTags 27 Comments

…Bite me.  No, really.

Disclaimer: I apologize up front if you or anyone you hold dear is a member of this, um, nobel profession.  But, ARE THESE PEOPLE CRAZY??!!

I think it was at the girls’ one year check-up when my pediatrician first asked me how the tooth brushing was going.  Come again?  You were serious about that?  Loud sigh.  So, off I went to Wal-mart to purchase the necessary supplies.  Incidentally, who knew baby toothpaste was so expensive?!   

I drove home with a lighter wallet, but with high hopes for our first tooth brushing session that night.  I was optimistic, and dare I say, excited, to add this to our bedtime routine.  They seem interested when I brush my teeth, I thought to myself.  I’ll just instruct them to open wide and say aah.  Then, I’ll brush their little white stubs for the recommended two minutes, all the while explaining what I’m doing and why healthy teeth practices are so important.  Piece of cake.  Note to self: immediately refill whatever prescription I was on that day.

Holy freaking moly, people!  The screaming, the crying, the flailing about!  It was like wrestling two alligators to the ground, and I strongly suspect, just as dangerous.  Wrestling aside, I didn’t get too upset over their initial reaction, and chalked it up to the unfamiliarity of the experience.  Best not to push too hard, too fast.  We’ll just try again tomorrow. 

Tomorrow came and went.  Lots of tomorrows have come and gone.  My girls will be two in September, and they still hate having their teeth brushed.  I’ve tried everything — battery operated brushes, funky toothpaste flavors, singing silly tooth-related songs — ad nauseum.  They are so not convinced.  Neither am I.   It doesn’t help matters that the dental hygiene portion of our day occurs at bedtime; the girls’ antics are typically at a record high, while Mama’s patience is dangerously circling the drain.  Consequently, I regulary declare  Ladies’ Choice Nights and hand over the tooth brushes.   Brush your teeth or don’t: your choice, ladies!

Several months ago, I even consulted a pediatric dentist for advice on tooth brushing when my concern over Amelia’s swollen gums prompted me to schedule an appointment (Note: see my prior post on hypochondria!).  His advice: keep it up.  Hold them down by force if necessary, and brush for two minutes, or as long as tolerated.  When I told him their duration of tolerance was typically somewhere in the 2-3 SECOND range, he offered me this gem of a metaphor: Kids don’t always like to ride in carseats, but you strap them down nonetheless.  Why?  Because carseats are in their best interests — just like teeth brushing.  Um, so not the same, buddy.  I told you these people were crazy!!

So, I’m dying to know… what are your toddler tooth brushing secrets?  What works for you?

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Juggling Multiples In Urgent Care Situations

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Categories Childcare, Medical23 Comments

I talk to my mom just about every day. Which is why I’m scratching my head as to why FIVE DAYS WENT BY before I knew that my 11 month old nephew had been taken to the emergency room for a last-ditch treatment for a case of seal-barking croup.

He ended up there late last Tuesday upon the recommendation of the pediatrician, after efforts to calm his coughing proved ineffective. A long evening, short-term admission, and heavy duty breathing treatments later, my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew headed home. Tired, but on the mend.

As I was discussing the blasphemy of such delayed information dissemination with my partner, the conversation moved quickly from vilifying grandma to asking one another: “What would we do if something like that happened with us?” And I’m talking single event situations, as opposed to longer-term illnesses, because that’s a whole different ball o wax.

As with most readers of this blog, unlike my brother, we have two or more child(ren) to address and waking/taking the doing-just-fine kiddle is not going to pay off. And if you do go as a family, you better have banked the mental cost of jacking with more than one child’s routine. And what we decided – as well as you can go on deciding without going through it -was the following:

For semi-planned urgent care, one stays and one goes. Such as with X and croup, one of us would stay with the better kid, while the other of us (probably me, since i used to work in the healthcare industry) would take the not-better kid to the hospital. We’d keep in touch via calls and text messages. But to us, it would be important to keep one parent and the other child(ren) with as much rest and as little routine disruption as possible.

For unplanned urgent care/emergencies, same thing. This would be something like big falls or a need for stitches or something of the sort. While it would be poopy for one of us not to be there, keeping things moving with the well kid is equally important.

For rapid-onset illness, one stays and one goes, but the one staying is making plans to go. That means the stayed-homer would shore up plans, clothing, materials, childcare, and phone calls to family, then joining the other and sick child as soon as possible.

For critical illness or injury, we’d probably both go immediately after calling upon godparents (we should probably inform them of this, no?) or friends to stay with the well child until the situation was stable.

We also have a good circle of neighborhood friends who could likely step up in a time of crisis, as well as godparents and a set of grandparents that live within 30 miles. Of course, under any of the above scenarios, it’s possible that we’d have no choice but to take the well kid, too. And we’d figure things out from there.

We are immeasurably blessed and grateful to have emerged this side of infancy without major incident [warning: we’re entering toddlerhood], but I also know these things can be inevitable at some point in time. Certainly, there isn’t a wrong way or a right way to handle a childcare situation when one of the children falls ill/injured. But to the extent that we can somewhat prepare, the smoother the chaos can be.

For those who have had an urgent/emergent care incident, how did you handle the other child(ren)? Did you have a loosely organized plan as to how to handle a situation like that? What would you differently?


Rachel is a mom who managed to survive the first year with twins, but hold the applause because the second year has only just begun. You can read more about their adventures on her blog.

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Categories Medical, Mommy Issues7 Comments

First, let me give credit where credit is due.  My husband is the one who actually came up with the idea for this post.  The idea came to him following a recent discussion we had after I observed both of my girls sneezing.

Ella: (Sneeze).
Amelia: (Sneeze).
Me: Ugh!  Do you think they might have the Swine Flu?
J: Um, no, I do not think they have the Swine Flu.  I do think there might be something wrong with you, though.

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I can be a bit of a nervous Nelly, especially when it comes to all things medical.  I have self-diagnosed myself with a myriad of conditions over the years.  And, yes, I am often wrong.  How often, you ask?  Well, if this was a game of baseball, I would be batting about 1 for 1000.  Okay, maybe worse.  But, for the record, my 1 correct diagnosis has more than made up for the other 999 misdiagnoses. 

Between weeks 30 and 32 of my pregnancy with the girls, I started to get itchy.  Really itchy.  I was scratching my belly raw, and my hands and feet would often burn from the intense itching.  After my OB chalked up my symptoms to normal pregnancy-related discomfort, I decided to pay a visit to Dr. Google late one itchy night.  I just typed in “severe itching during pregnancy,” and I had myself a winning diagnosis within seconds of hitting the enter button.  Obstetric cholestasis.  During my 34th week of pregnancy, I was in fact diagnosed (by a real M.D.) with cholestasis, after going to the ER following a particularly sleepless night due to severe itching (and crying!).  Thankfully, with the help of daily liver medicine and bi-weekly non-stress tests, both of my girls were born healthy and with no ill effects.     

Unfortunately, my somewhat casual hobby of misdiagnosing ailments kicked into overdrive shortly after the babies were born.  It didn’t help matters that our pediatrician diagnosed Amelia with torticollis at her two-month check-up.  Torti-what?  Two guesses what I did as soon as I got home from that pediatrician’s appointment?  Yep, I Googled it.  From Amelia’s initial diagnosis until the day she was discharged from physical therapy, I spent countless hours online researching therapies and treatments. 

And, don’t even get me started on ear infections!  The hours I have spent online (okay, and in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office) trying to distinguish between teething symptoms and those of an ear infection are innumerable.  For the record, we have yet to see an ear infection in this house, but I am seriously considering purchasing one of those home ear check machines.  I simply cannot suffer the humiliation of leaving the pediatrician’s office with my tail between my legs one more time, apologizing as I go, “Sorry.  I really thought she had one this time.” 

So, there you have it.  I am a hypochondriac.  Since the girls were born, I have Googled everything (probably more than once!) from “diaper rash” to “teething sypmtoms” to “mucous in a baby’s stool.”  Don’t even ask about that last one.  I actually brought the diaper to the pediatrician’s office.  Long story; see above for similar, humiliating ending.  Anyway, I have come to accept this quirk in my personality, and I can even laugh about it now (obviously, since I am sharing it with the blogosphere!).  While I’ve always had the propensity towards hyphochondria, having twins has just brought it to a whole-new, freakish level. 

Please tell me I am not the only one!  Is some of this just part and parcel of being a first-time mom?  Did having two (or more) babies at once bring out the inner hypochondriac in you, too?

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Phthalate exposure in NICU babies

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Categories Birth Stories, Medical, Mommy Issues4 Comments

My boys were born at 36w3d and each weighed over 6 lbs, but they ended up in NICU for a week due to feeding issues, breathing issues, and weight gain issues. I have since made peace with their stay and the emotional toll it took on me and my husband. I have mourned the loss of a “normal” birth experience. The three years since our short NICU stay has given me ample time to get to a place where I can write that first sentence without tearing up or feeling overly emotional.

Then I read this story on NPR about phthalate exposure in NICU babies. Those little tiny feeding tubes in Nate and Alex’s noses and those IVs? They need soft plastic to function correctly and that soft plastic has been shown to impact sexual development in mice. The study in the article showed phthalates leach out of those tubes and bags into babies.


The good news? Limited studies have shown no long-term impact to NICU babies. The bad news? “any effect on ICU babies is likely to be subtle — a slight delay in puberty, or fertility problems later in life.” At the end of the day, those tubes saved my boys’ lives. I know this rationally, as a former environmental engineer.  And while obviously much more research is needed into this topic,  I couldn’t help but want to title my post “Insult to Injury.”

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Taking care of one kid

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Categories Behavior, Family, Medical, Preschoolers2 Comments

This is cross-posted from my personal blog, Laura’s Mommy Journal.

When illnesses went around the boys’ infant day care room, they both seemed to get it at the same time. This is how I became a confirmed “rip the band-aid off” parent. Inevitably they were both going to get sick, so I may as well clean up puke/stay up all night with feverish babies/administer medicine all at once. It also meant the house could be de-germified faster and there was no waiting around for the other kid to get sick.

As they grew into toddlers, they actually… gasp… got immune systems (either that or they caught every possible bug EVER in the first two years of their lives). One kid may get something and the other kid never gets it. 99% of the time, Alex is the one who catches the bug and stays at home sick. This is not surprising to me as he is very tactile, touching everything and then putting it into his mouth.

Nate’s pink eye is the first illness in awhile where he has stayed home alone. While Jon and I make a concentrated effort to get alone time with each boy, it is rarely a full day. After yesterday, Jon and I have an all new appreciation for Alex. Poor Alex, getting bossed around by Nate ALL THE TIME. I love love love Nate but that kid CAN TALK and he will not stop talking until he gets what he wants.

After just one day alone with Nate, I completely understand why Alex has become such a fast runner – he needs to get away from Nate’s talking. I also understand why he’s developed the habit of giving in to Nate’s demands – it might be the only way to shut Nate up. And I also understand why Alex gets so cranky when we give him a lot of commands – yet two more people bossing him around?!

As the boys have gotten older, I’ve started to take for granted how much interaction occurs between the two of them that does not involve us. Having Alex out of the house amplified how much verbal interaction Nate needs and how much of that interaction Alex provides for Nate. It was a good reminder what a special relationship siblings have. And it was a good reminder how twins rule in every way.

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