True bed rest confession

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Categories Medical, Mommy Issues, Pregnancy23 Comments

(In no way does this post intend to belittle anyone’s experience on bed rest.)

I was on some form of modified or strict bed rest for 14 weeks when I was pregnant with my boys. Fourteen weeks. It was hard, boring, scary, and long. But you know what? I have a secret!

I really miss being the ultimate couch potato.

There are two things I miss so much I could cry. I miss watching hour after hour of television with NO GUILT. With the help of my TiVo boyfriend, I got to watch anything I ever wanted to watch – movies, dramas, reality shows, comedies, baby shows. And the TiVo remote was mine, ALL MINE. No constant whining for Dora when I want to watch Rock of Love (which obviously I do not really watch in front of my boys!). No handing the remote to my husband.

The other part I miss? STUFFING MY FACE. I made the most of my 5000-6000 calories each day. I’d love to say I ate organic and low-fat meals. Nope, I stuffed my face. Lunch was mac and cheese covered in bacon. Afternoon snack was a chocolate milkshake. I lost count of how many large roast beef sandwiches I ate from Arby’s. Arby’s! And I ate every bite with not one single moment of guilt.

Would I ever want to live through that experience again? Absolutely not. But I would love to have just one entire day laying on the couch watching all my shows, stuffing my face, and having someone wait on me hand and foot… all GUILT FREE.

Tell me your true mom confession!

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NPR segment on multiples and infertility

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Categories Higher-Order Multiples, Medical, Mommy Issues, Multiples in the News, Other peopleTags 11 Comments

For all those mothers of multiples (with extra help!) out there, or those that didn’t have help, but are interested anyway, this NPR segment aired Monday. It is on multiples and how they are changing our lives—and I’m pretty sure she’s not talking about the specifics of MY life but the bigger EVERYONE’s. I found it disturbing on a number of levels, but perhaps that’s simply because I’m one of “those moms”, as she discusses, who would rather have had two babies at once than tried to do IVF again? My own personal feelings aside, I’m curious as to what others think of this? There are certainly some interesting ethical dilemmas which are highlighted, but I do think she misses out the positives of twins or more.

http://www.npr.org/templates/rundowns/rundown.php?prgId=13&prgDate=2-23-2009

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Life Saver

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Categories Medical, ProductsTags , , , 6 Comments

Amidst one of the crazier weeks of my entire life, it’s especially reassuring to find something that will truly make things easier for all of us. It doesn’t happen often, but I have great hopes for this product. My mom witnessed its magic at a hospital recently and thought it was so amazing, she ran out and bought one for us as a Valentine’s Day present (thanks mom!). And without further ado…

The easiest thermometer to ever exist! It’s a temporal scanner device and all you have to do is lightly pass it over the forehead for a temp reading as accurate as a rectal thermometer. Brilliant! I don’t know about you, but it’s never given me much pleasure to take a rectal on my kids. It was one thing when they were infants, but now that they are two…well, you can forget about it. And any prodding to their underarm or ear area is out of the question, too. This is so easy, so quick, and so painless – and you can take their temp without waking them while they are sleeping. Amazing!

It’s a little pricey ($40 range), but if this existed when my kids were born, I would have gladly invested in it. No cleaning with rubbing alcohol necessary. No germ transfer worries. We can all use it, easy peasy.

Here’s to easier times for us all!

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That helpless feeling

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Categories Medical, ToddlersTags , 8 Comments

Our “vacation” down here in semi-sunny Florida has really started off with a bang.  I thought my son sounded like he was getting a little congested on the flight on the way down.  By the next afternoon, we brought him to a pediatric urgent care clinic near my in-laws’ house.

[As a small digression, this was an entirely new experience for me. I don’t know of any urgent care clinics near us in Massachusetts. Our pediatrician’s office has a rotating on-call schedule, and if no one’s on call, then you go to the ER.  This was a brightly colored office, staffed every day until 11PM, in the middle of a strip mall.  Unexpected setting, but pretty good care and child-friendly with TVs playing movies and Dora in each exam room.]

Anyways, the doctor decided it was croup and gave my son some oral steroids and a nebulizer treatment to help clear the airways.  Hard both physically and emotionally to hold a mask over the face of a sick, unhappy toddler.  Though, I must say, having only the one child with me did somehow seem to tap into greater patience reserves…  Treatments went fine, we were sent home with instructions to keep on the Motrin to keep the fever at bay, and just wait it out.

On the plus side, my sweet son might be the most well-tempered sick kid you’ve ever come across. While he clearly isn’t feeling 100%, he’s still smiling and playing and very much enjoyed our trip to the zoo today.  But the cough and the wheezing seemed a bit worse today (and his sister is now starting), and there’s nothing quite so sad as not being able to do a darn thing about it.

Tonight, after he went to bed, it continued to get worse.  He has slept well the last couple of nights, save for a cough here and there, but tonight he’s been a wreck.  My husband went in to get him, and after listening to the poor thing wheeze, has decided to take him back to Urgent Care, maybe for another breathing treatment.

And so, here I sit.  At my in-laws’ house, cell phone by my side. Clearly, one of us had to stay and listen for our daughter, in case she has a rough night, too. (So far, so good.)  I’m sure he’ll be OK, but right now I’m helpless. My sweet boy, who carries a big chunk of my heart outside my chest wherever he is, feels rotten and I can’t kiss it and make it all better.

I know, this isn’t a particularly twin-specific post. I have no advice to give, or questions to ask.  But we’re all moms. We all wish we could take away our kids’ illnesses, pain, or sadness and make it all better with our super-special mommy dust.  And it sucks when we can’t.

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Belly Up

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Categories Medical, Mommy IssuesTags , , , , , , , , 13 Comments

Alright gals, I did it. After two years of agonizing over the appearance of my belly, I finally got the gumption to go to the plastic surgeon. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually have anything done. But I took the first step with a consultation. And let me tell you, it was fifty bucks well spent.

First off, if you have the ambition of making a crap-load of money during your time here on earth, become a plastic surgeon. I stepped into this guys’ office, and I felt like I was at the Venetian in Las Vegas. Super deluxe…and I live in Austin, Texas, where you can go to a five star restaurant in jeans and a tank top (and don’t forget your cowboy hat!). When I got a look at his fees; let’s just say he makes somewhere in the range of $1,500 an hour. Not bad!

I was oddly comfortable waiting for Dr. 78735 in the plush terry robe and g-string scrubs, although it would have been nicer if they had offered me a glass of wine and a pedi while I waited. He entered the room and after brief introductions, asked me what I was interested in. Huh – isn’t that what you’re supposed to tell me? I admitted that I was a total neophyte and meekly stated a tummy tuck and a boob job. He asked if I wanted both a breast augmentation and lift. I answered with a blank look. After some discussion over the technicalities of each procedure (more blank looks), it was time to disrobe (eegads!).

The unveiling wasn’t that bad. I was diagnosed with a large umbilical hernia (which my insurance would cover – whoopee!), major diastasis (above and below and all around the tap that my Be Bo has become), stretched-out skin and, of course, stretch marks. He pronounced that I would need a full tummy tuck to correct everything. He’d try and use my existing c-section scar and then cut a smiley face to each hip bone, a general surgeon would come in and fix the hernia, he would pull my ab muscles back into place, and then stretch my skin downwards to get rid of all the unsightliness. All of the skin and stretch marks from my belly button down would be gone (as in cut out forever), and the stretch marks above my BB would be much less visible because they would be, um, really stretched. Lovely.

As for the boobs, he said I wouldn’t need a lift. After 13 months of breastfeeding two babies, imagine that! At least there was some good news to this visit. But he said an augmentation would “restore the look and fullness” to my deflated mom boobs. He said silicone was the only way to go, because it feels the most like breast tissue. I nodded and tried to mask another blank look.

We sat back down and talked more technicalities of the actual surgery. It’d last about 4 hours, I would need at least one overnight in the hospital (he recommended two), and a pain pump was the way to go (kind of like an epidural for the stomach). The kicker was when I heard about the recovery time. The boob job was hardly anything. The tummy tuck? Six weeks. Yes, you heard me. Six weeks of lifting no more than 10 pounds. With twin two year olds, one of whom attaches himself to me as if he wants to be back in utero, good luck on that one!

After the consultation, I had the pleasure of posing in my g-string scrubs for some pictures. With mirrors and umbrella lights in each corner and a pretty, skinny young thing taking the pictures – let’s just say it was a humbling experience. She took about ten photos, and to add insult to injury, made me step on the scale. They program this whole experience just right, because then I was ushered into a room to view before and after pics. All I can say is AMAZING! I couldn’t believe my eyes. And I loved seeing bellies that looked far worse then mine looking gorgeous after a tummy tuck.

A lovely lady in her 50s entered the room with lots of paperwork and walked me through the process and the expenses. Pretty amusing that she went into all of the details of surgery and recovery, as if I had already signed on, before going over the itemized estimate. Nice to know I have the option of spending my second night of recovery not in the hospital, but at the beautiful Barton Creek Resort where I would have nurses waiting on me and lymphatic massage therapists at my disposal. And then I saw the only piece of paper that mattered. All in all, even with insurance covering the hernia portion, a tummy tuck and boob job would cost…

$14,000. Yes, you saw that right.

She pulled out the doctor’s schedule and asked me what time frame I was looking at. I answered her with an unabashed blank look. I managed to ask if there was any “wiggle” room in the estimate (the negotiator that I am). She said if I removed the second night at the hospital and got rid of the pain pump, that could bring it down $750. Oh, and the $50 consultation charge would be deducted from the cost. Wow. Great.

Now that it’s been a few weeks, I’ve decided against the boob job. After some quick research, I learned that boob jobs have at most a ten year life span. So once you get one, you can plan on getting another every ten years until you have no more money left. Not my cup of tea. Plus, the silicone that was recommended has a lot more maintenance. Like MRIs every few years to check for leaks. With saline, if it pops, you know it. All of the above I wish to never experience in my lifetime (nothing against boob jobs, though!). So I plan on calling them back and getting a new estimate for just the tummy tuck. Not because I’m going to get one anytime soon, but just so I know how much I need to save over the next five years. Amidst a downward spiraling economy.

Belly be damned, I do plan on getting you fixed eventually. But for now, it’s you and me, belly. No matter how ugly you are, we’re in it for the long haul.

You can read my other post on post-partum ugliness here. And to be totally jealous of one HDYDI mama who has a killer and unscathed post-partum belly, read here.

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A letter to Santa from two years ago LauraC

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Categories Childcare, Infants, Medical, Mommy Issues6 Comments

Two years ago was Nate and Alex’s first Christmas and they were seven months old. It was also their first cold and flu season in group day care.

I don’t remember much of December 2006, between the twins, the endless ear infections, the reflux, the torticollis physical therapy appointments, the helmet casting, The Time The Ped Diagnosed Them With RSV And I Freaked Out, the sick crying babies being up all night crying, stomach flu (yep, stomach flu AND ear infections AND possible RSV), and oh yeah, twins. Frankly, I don’t remember much of winter 2006-2007, except what I wrote on my blog.

So imagine my surprise this weekend when I dug out the Christmas decorations. I found a plate to be used for leaving cookies for Santa. It comes with a dry erase marker so you can write a letter to Santa to see when he eats your cookies. I vaguely remember this was a Christmas gift from 2006 that we never opened and I thought it would be perfect for Nate and Alex to use this year. I opened the box to find this:

santaplate

It says, in my handwriting, to please bring me:

* two sleeping toddlers
* a full night’s sleep
* lots of red wine
* CHOCOLATE
* my pre-pregnancy body

Before erasing the list, I had to take a picture. This plate is from one of the most difficult times of my life. I was so sleep-deprived, I have no recollection of writing on this plate. Zero memory of this list. NONE. It scares me and makes me laugh at the same time.

Doesn’t that just sum up life with twin newborns?!?!?!?!

(Cross-posted at my personal blog, Laura’s Mommy Journal, because ironically one of my boys spiked a fever close to 105 last night while my husband’s out of town. I don’t have two posts in me today.)

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The Things We Won't Remember. Or The Things We Choose To Forget.

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Categories Infants, Medical10 Comments

Yesterday, we were on our way back from the pediatrician’s office, when Jennifer said to me “You’re in trouble.” “Why?”, I say. “You said that first six months was the hardest, and here we are at seven months and THIS is hard,” she says. “Oh, well, yeah,” I say, “but that didn’t include illnesses.” “Doesn’t it seem like no one ever talks about this part?” she asks. “Well,” I respond “they probably do, but I think these are the parts we forget.”

And let me start off by saying that we have it SO EASY compared to SO MANY others: our kids are relatively healthy, no known underlying issues, there’s two parents who share equally in care and responsibility, we can afford to pay for extra help every now and again, and all that. But if you strip all that down and just think of us as first time parents with no prior parenting experience, unaccustomed to lack of sleep or the sounds of screaming for hours on end, we are in the midst of trying times.

On our way to the pediatrician’s office yesterday, I sent a text message to the kids’ godparents to let them know what was going on. I am walking away with SOMETHING this visit, I wrote, I don’t care if it’s a placebo, stickers, or a lollipop. We had been there last Monday, too. Colds and congestions, yes. But no ear infections or crackly lungs. Which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. Prescription for them last week, then? Tender Loving Care. Got it.

Fast forward six days and my things can change. I took the scream-at-the-top-of-his-lungs-cannot-be-consoled-dead-ringer-for-an-ear-infection shift from 2:30 a.m. – 4:30 a.m. Jennifer took the 4:30 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. shift so I could sleep an hour before getting ready for work. At 5:30, our daughter began screaming, would only sleep on one’s chest, and wouldn’t wake up to eat. RED FLAG. Change of plans – I am not going to work. Not taking a shower. Not going pee. We’re going to the clinic.

Sure enough, Mateo has an ear infection. Make that two. By the way, this is now his FIFTH ear infection in two months. And one of them was bulging and blistered. Harper has one ear infection, and crackly lungs. Prescription: round of antibiotics for both, albuterol treatment for her. No stickers for us. I did mention that Jennifer and I used to indulge in a nice dinner out weekly and that now that seems to be weekly copayments totaling $60 to the clinic. He said something about writing us a pretend gift certificate. He’s cute.

We spent the day at home with the kids. Loving on them. Holding them. Carrying them. Feeding them (or trying to, because Harper wasn’t much for food or drink). Loving on them some more. Constantly changing them out of clothes they’d throw up in. They try SO HARD to play play play and fight through being sick, but most of the time, the pain of ear infections got the best of them. We got some fresh air on a neighborhood walk. We were fortunate that one of their godmothers brought the mom’s lunch and we ate while she fed Mateo and held him for a couple hours while I played mattress to Harper who could not otherwise sleep. And if that’s a run on sentence it’s because yesterday was a run on day. We enjoyed our time as a family even if it meant they twins were not feeling well.

Playing Through An Ear Infection
Trying really hard to play through their ear infections.

I’m seriously considering looking into a live-in (weekdays) nanny. Could be the lack of sleep talking. I LOVE our daycare. It’s clean and professional and the kids truly love it. But they also get sick more often because of it. But it’s close to the office. But they wouldn’t get sick as much at home. But they get more stimulation at school. But they get more individual care at home. But there are more eyes watching over them at school. But but but but but but but but.

In the last couple months, some one of the four of us has had any combination of pink eye, cold, ear infections, colds, allergies. I don’t think we’ve gone more than 7 days at once with a fully healthy household since September.

This morning, I’m at the office (can’t you tell???). I just got a call from Jennifer reporting that neither kiddo has a fever this morning. And Harper ate. And neither have thrown up. Our Saturday nanny was available to be home with them today. And Jennifer and I are both working so we can pay for someone else to care for them. Grrrrr. Hopefully the mend continues. And hopefully we go more than 10 days as a healthy household. Please?

Rachel’s personal blog can be found at RaJenCreation.

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Rosie the Virus

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Categories Medical, ToddlersTags 5 Comments

Ah yes, our good friend Roseola paid us a visit this weekend.  It was only my daughter (so far), but that was plenty.  From KidsHealth.org:

Roseola (also known as sixth disease, exanthem subitum, and roseola infantum) is a viral illness in young children, most commonly affecting those between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. It is typically marked by several days of high fever, followed by a distinctive rash just as the fever breaks.

Rebecca was textbook on this one.  She was warm all day Friday, but it seemed to come and go and I blamed it on teething as she was drooling and chewing way more than usual.  And super cranky.  But by shortly after bedtime, when she woke up quite unhappy, we realized something was up.  She was hot to the touch and bright red, and the thermometer jumped up past 103 degrees.  Off she went with Daddy to our local hospital, since it was way after hours and that’s what the on-call doctor would have had us do, anyways.

A diagnosis of roseola is often uncertain until the fever drops and the rash appears, so the doctor may order tests to make sure that the fever is not caused by another type of infection.

Indeed, the poor, tired thing got the whole workup.  Checked for an ear infection, even the dreaded catheter to rule out a UTI.  Three hours later, she was back home and we rotated Motrin and Tylenol and she spent a very out-of-character night in bed with mommy.

The viruses that cause roseola do not appear to be spread by kids while they are exhibiting symptoms of the illness. Instead, someone who has not yet developed symptoms often spreads the infection.

God only knows where she got it.  We spend plenty of time around other kids, and I’m just not a germ-phobe. Not that I would intentionally let them get sick, but frankly a little virus here and there just isn’t a battle I’m going to fight.  Thankfully my kids are a fairly robust pair, so aside from the flu shot and general good sense, I don’t take it all that far.

A child with roseola typically develops a mild upper respiratory illness, followed by a high fever (often over 103° Fahrenheit, or 39.5° Celsius) for up to a week. During this time, the child may appear fussy or irritable and may have a decreased appetite and swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck.

Fussy?  Irritable?  Bwa ha ha!  Cranky as all get-out.  Screaming.  Over-tired. Fever with shivers. I’m sure generally feeling crappy.  Oh my lord was she a cranky girl all weekend.  Sleep was all kinds of messed up, which obviously didn’t help the cranky factor.  And poor not-sick Daniel was almost as cranky, since his weekend was no fun, either.  And Mommy and Daddy?  Let’s just say we weren’t at our shiny best this weekend.  Short on sleep, nerves frayed from being screamed at by a sick little girl… not a recipe for marital bliss.

The high fever often ends abruptly, and at about the same time a pinkish-red flat or raised rash appears on the child’s trunk and spreads over the body.

The fever stuck around all weekend, still getting as high as 102.5 between doses of medicine. Thankfully, by this morning, things seemed relatively back to normal.  The tell-tale rash is on her little shoulders, but the fever is gone and she’s eating like a normal toddler again (mediocre, at best, but better than Saturday).  I’m just glad it’s over, and I’m hoping against hope that Daniel lucks out and doesn’t get it.  Granted, I did nothing to really keep them apart, and they still stole each other’s toys and sippy cups per usual.  But hey, maybe we’ll get lucky…

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A cure for my singleton fantasies

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Categories Childcare, Family, Medical, Mommy Issues, Toddlers4 Comments

Earlier in the month, I wrote a post about how I wasn’t sure we were done having kids. After reflecting on it, last week I realized I had a serious case of singleton fantasies. Last night, Jon and I found a cure for that 1% doubt we are done with kids: a sick tantruming toddler.

My boys are almost 2 1/2. They went to bed with no objections at 7:30 then sang and chatted until 8:30. Around 9:15, right as Jon and I were settling down to watch the Heroes season premiere, Alex woke up crying. Despite soothing and motrin, he would not settle back to sleep. We got him up and hung out for an hour before deciding it would be best if we laid down with Alex in our room. He then proceeded to have a mega-tantrum that would not stop. He was so clearly overtired but every time he calmed down, within a minute he burst into another screaming fit. At 11:30, Jon put Alex in the car and drove him around until he fell asleep. Alex was complaining about his ear hurting, so Jon has him at the doctor this morning.

Last night was a repeat of almost every night of the newborn phase with twins. We spent hundreds of hours floundering with crying babies, trying to figure out what was wrong. And as difficult as the newborn phase was, last night was even more difficult because we knew exactly what Alex needed – sleep – yet we were unable to achieve that goal. 

This pretty much clears up any baby lust I had. I don’t miss those days of little sleep and crying newborns. I’ll just depend on my friends with newborns to get my baby fix.

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Our experience with plagiocephaly, torticollis, and a helmet

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Categories Development, Medical, Mommy IssuesTags , , 14 Comments

One of my twins, Alex, was born with torticollis, a condition in which the head is tilted to one side. In Alex’s case, the muscles on one side of his neck did not develop correctly in utero and he could not turn his head to the left. Torticollis is more common in multiples because they are so cramped in utero.  By the time Alex was two months old, the entire right side of his face was flat because he always had his head turned one direction. We learned preemies have softer heads when born, and are more prone to plagiocephaly (head deformation). 

Our doctor told us Alex would outgrow the torticollis. This is absolutely false. After researching it and talking to doctor friends, we got a second opinion and a referral to physical therapy. The majority of torticollis cases can be resolved with simple stretching exercises. Despite the physical therapy, increased amounts of tummy time, and changes in sleeping position, Alex’s head did not improve. Our pediatrician told us Alex’s head would eventually round out, but every month Alex’s head was getting more deformed. By 6 months, his facial recession was noticable and one half of his face was still flat.

After reviewing a plagiocephaly severity assessment chart (found here) with our physical therapist, we realized Alex’s head would be classified extreme. Most distressing was that his forehead recession was extreme – one half of his face and his forehead protruded an inch farther than the other side.  We got referred to a pediatric plastic surgeon and upon examining Alex, the surgeon told us if Alex did not do a helmet, his face would never be symmetric. Additionally, there were many medical issues that could occur if his face continued to be recessed, affecting chewing, speech, vision, and sinuses.

Here is where I would like to interrupt my story. Alex’s case was extreme. One of his eyes was recessed into his head. This was not a simple flat spot from sleeping too long in one position. I do not think the helmet is the right choice for every child. Two of my friends went to the same plastic surgeon and did not get a recommendation for a helmet. But I do think the best thing to do is consult a professional. After talking to many plagiocephaly and torticollis parents, I do not think most pediatricians are experts in this. Through this experience, I learned it never hurts to have a second medical opinion, particularly from someone who is an expert in the field.

I wrote extensively on my personal blog during this time because it was very emotional. I felt that I failed Alex by not getting him the correct medical treatment early enough. In my story below, I’m going to post a lot of links so those interested can read more about our experience.

Shortly after getting our very emotional diagnosis, we had the helmet casting. I was traumatized when googling other pictures of the casting process, so I posted ours because it was a fun, light-hearted experience. The orthotists were fantastic and made the comment their experience was “the easy twin usually get the helmet.” That was certainly so in our case!

The day before Alex got his helmet, I was an emotional wreck. I still did not have peace with how I failed him. I wrote him this letter about my feelings. That post remains one of my favorite blog entries because it sums up how hard parenting can be some days. The day he got his helmet, I was shocked to find I thought he looked adorable in it. After getting the helmet, it seemed everyone had an opinion on it and I shared my opinion loudly and proudly.

Alex got his helmet at 7 months and we were told he would wear it until he was a year old. We could not believe how quickly his head improved with the helmet.  He got it on right before a couple of major growth spurts and within two weeks, we saw a noticable difference. After 3 months, we got the news the helmet was coming off early two months early and I was ecstatic. As positive as I was about him wearing it, the thing SMELLED and it was a pain to clean it every day. The day Alex got it off, I put it on his twin’s head and took pictures.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the road for us. Our insurance company declined to cover Alex’s helmet and we got a bill for $3000. They declined it because Alex’s head was 1 millimeter not deformed enough. I decided to appeal because the measurements were taken on a wiggly 7 month old. The fight went on for months. The end of the road was a special appeal hearing I attended where I laid out all the facts – premature twin A, head down, torticollis, in physical therapy for 9 months to deal with developmental issues. Despite fighting a good fight, I got denied and I was angry.

Then I had my faith in the universe restored. We never got a bill from the hospital. When the hospital received the final denial from the appeals committee, they decided to write off the helmet because they should have gotten pre-approval from insurance. A month later, I went to help my sister with her new baby and saw a baby in a helmet. I had my cathartic moment, and it brought me peace to know I did everything I could to help my baby.

Now, 17 months after the helmet came off, I never think about any of this. I barely remember those helmet days and Alex’s head looks perfect. This is my favorite helmet picture, because it is so Alex during this time – he was always so happy and never noticed his helmet.

If you’d like to see more helmet pictures and read more about our experience, the information is on Laura’s Mommy Journal while Alex was helmeted between Jan 2007 and Mar 2007. Firsthand, I know how difficult and emotional this experience can be. For anyone who wants to talk, I can be emailed through this website or my personal website.

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