First Father’s Day

Posted on
Categories Family, Holidays, Love, Parenting TwinsTags , 3 Comments

Father’s Day has always been a tough one for me.

My own dad split before I was two. My ex-stepdad and I have a relationship that has run the gamut from good to bad to nonexistent. Now, we have a healthy respect for each other and I definitely consider him an important family member. But I don’t call either one of these men “Dad.”

Enter my amazing husband. When we decided to start a family, I knew that we would truly parent as a team – my kids would have the dad that I never did. He is tender, kind, courageous, strong, funny, and smart – all the qualities that I hope my boys someday emulate. And he is there, in big and small ways, everyday, present and available to our sons. He is teaching me what a dad is.

Twin dads are a special breed. They don’t get enough credit much of the time. While many first-time dads are auxillary care-givers, twin dads are primary care-givers alongside mom. Most twin dads I know are more involved and more knowledgeable than dads of singletons, simply because they have to be – with two, mom can’t do it all (even if she wants to!).

The day we got home from the hospital when the boys were born, I returned in an ambulance for an additional four-day stay (uterine lining infection, among other things). My husband and my mom were suddenly responsible for 4-day-old infant twins. He was awesome. He took tender care of them, sleeping on the floor beside their Nap Nannies, because he wanted to be close to them. He dressed them and brought them to me in the hospital, one at a time, so they could nurse. He painstakingly fed them from a cup so they wouldn’t have trouble breastfeeding. When I got home, he would get up at night with me and bring me the boys one at a time. I literally did not change a diaper until the boys were two weeks old because my husband was eager to take care of them in any way he could.

As the boys have grown, I’ve watched their relationship with their dad blossom. R cries everyday when he leaves for work, and scampers up to him with a huge smile and shining eyes when he gets home. In the future, I can see the two of them enjoying hikes, playing catch, and sharing a love of books that R already exhibits. Shy M looks around for dad when he’s feeling nervous, and settles comfortably in the security of his arms. I know they will love sitting quietly together, making a meal or watching the game, and trading jokes, each with their own fantastic laugh. My boys love their dad, and he is crazy about them too.

I know this first year of parenthood hasn’t always been easy. In addition to having twins, my husband started a new job this year. Talk about major life stressors. Yet every day, he participates in running the household and finds energy to scoop up his boys and give them cuddles and play time and lots and lots of giggles. At times, I stand back and just watch the three of them, happy to witness all this love.

This Father’s Day is special because it’s the first one that I am happy to celebrate. Instead of an awkward reminder of half-relationships, this year I am proud to honor the best dad I’ve ever known. Times two.

Happy Father’s Day to all the new and veteran dads out there.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Summer Vacation? What Summer Vacation?

Posted on
Categories Activities, Childcare, Frustration, How Do The Moms Do It, Mommy Issues, Parenting, Perspective, Routines, SAHM, School-Age, WorkingTags , , , 2 Comments

I have a variety of mommy–or rather parent–friends. I’m a single working mom of twins, but the families my daughters and I spend time with run the gamut from large home-schooling ones to two-income families with one child.

When we moved back to Central Texas last August after a year living in El Paso, we reconnected with old friends and also made a number of new ones in our new neighbourhood and at J and M’s school. The majority of these new mommy friends are either stay-at-home moms or teachers. Another friend with whom we try to spend as much time as possible is going to college. All their routines change drastically during the summer. No school, no work.

As the kids’ school year drew to a close, people’s excitement was palpable. Mom after mom talked about the plans they had in place to entertain and educate their kids during the summer. They proposed fun and exciting events and activities. One mom is even going to host Spanish language activities for five kids, including my daughters, so that they don’t lose the huge leaps in Spanish fluency they’ve made this year in dual language first grade.

Although I work at a university, my work schedule is not impacted by the academic calendar. I need full-day childcare for my daughters when they’re not in school. When they were littler and in daycare, our summer routine was no different than the rest of the year’s. Now that they’re in school, I replace after-school care with summer camps.

A letter from J describing her first day of Girl Scout camp

Our old friends quickly learned that our social calendar was limited to weekend activities. After all, I went back to work when M and J were 11 weeks old. Our new friends are learning this now. Just yesterday, I had to turn down two invitations for midweek play dates. I’ll still be at work at the times my friends proposed. A couple of times, we’ve been invited to weeknight events; my daughters’ friends can sleep in the next day, but my girls have to be dropped off early so I can be at work on time.

A complication in our attempts to schedule play dates is that my daughters have a number of friends who, like them, have divorced parents. Birds of a feather, you know. M and J’s dad lives in North Carolina, and we’re in Texas. He sees them when he can. Many of the girls’ friends spend alternate weekends with their dads, and I’m friends with the moms. On the Daddy weekends, none of the girls’ “divorced” friends are open for play dates.

My daughters’ routine gets switched up during summer vacation, but mine remains the same.

Does summer bring a marked change to your family’s routine? Do your kids’ social calendars put yours to shame?

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Twins Explaining Twins

Posted on
Categories Childcare, Community, Education, From the Mouths of Multiples, Frustration, Identical, Older Children, Other people, School-Age, Singletons, Talking to KidsTags , , 5 Comments

I’m going to try something new. I’m going to let my twins write, or rather dictate, this post on twinhood. They started to tell me a story on the drive home from summer camp that seemed appropriate for this audience. My 7-year-old daughters could have typed this up themselves, but it’s much faster for me to simply transcribe our discussion.

Abridged Version

M: Soooo… today at summer camp, I met a girl who said that just because we weren’t wearing the same clothes and we didn’t have the same hairdo and J’s hair was short and mine was long and we didn’t have the same shoes and J was wearing socks and I wasn’t, she said that we were not identical twins. Not even twins.
Sadia: So, what did you tell her?
M and J, posed back to back in matching dance costumes,M: Well, I told her that even if you aren’t wearing the same things, one has socks and another doesn’t, no same shoes, no same hairdo, no same size as hair, it doesn’t mean that someone isn’t a twin with someone else.
Sadia: What was her response to that?
M: Well, she said, “Wrong!”
Sadia: She did not!
M: Yes, she did… I said, “You don’t know anything about twins!” … “I do too know about twins,” she said. And she said that identical twins have to wear the same things and shoes and do everything the same. If one gets a haircut, the other gets a haircut. I just yose that as a example…. I told the teacher. I told her this story. And she said, “Ignore her.”

J: A few minutes after that, I gave her a lesson. At first, she didn’t wanna listen, but she didn’t like to hurt people’s feelings, and I knew that, so I said, “It really hurts my feelings when people say me and my sister aren’t twins.” And it was true. I wasn’t just saying to get her attention. First I said, “Twins doesn’t mean that people look the same or have the same voice. It matters about their birth. To be a twin, you have to be born from the same mother and the same day… And I cut my hair because 1) It was a way to tell me and my sister apart since we’re identical twins and 2) Because I kept chewing on my hair. Don’t tell anyone.”

Real Time Version

Sadia: So, what should the title be?
J: Nocturnal Twins and Identical Twins.
Sadia: Uh… Well… Okay.

Long pause

J: Did I say, “nocturnal?”
Sadia: Yeah.
J: Is that right?
J and M are both wearing South Asian attire, but in different styles and colours.M: How are twins different from identical twins?
Sadia: Identical twins are one kind of twin.
M: But it’s a twin? What’s another kind of twin?
Sadia: Fraternal.
J: Fraternal?
M: What’s a fraternal twin?
Sadia: Ones that come from two different eggs.

Potty break.

Sadia: So, shall we start again?
M: Yeah. Mommy!
Sadia: What? I’m writing down our conversation!
M: Mama!
Sadia: Mm-hmm? Okay. J, you were telling me a story in the car.
J: About what?
Sadia: About the girl… wait… was it you, M?
J: No, me. About what?
Sadia: giggles
M: No it was me. I told you about the girl who said that because we weren’t wearing the same clothes…
Sadia: Yes. That story.
J: One second.

Trash break.

Sadia: Okay, so why don’t you get started? M?
M: giggling at my typing Soooo… today at summer camp, I met a girl who said that just because we weren’t wearing the same clothes and we didn’t have the same hairdo and J’s hair was short and mine was long and we didn’t have the same shoes and J was wearing socks and I wasn’t, she said that we were not identical twins. Not even twins.
Sadia: So, what did you tell her?
M: Well, I told her that even if you aren’t wearing the same things, one has socks and another doesn’t, no same shoes, no same hairdo, no same size as hair, it doesn’t mean that someone isn’t a twin with someone else.
Sadia: What was her response to that?
M: Well, she said, “Wrong!”
Sadia: She did not!
M: Yes, she did.
Sadia: gasps
Sadia, J and M making facesM: (whispering) You gasped.
Sadia: I got it!
M: You forgot the… waves her hands to indicate italics.
Sadia: I’ll do it later. I just want to get the content now. So, J.
J: running off Yeah?
Sadia: Where are you?
J: returning Hmm? Yeah?
Sadia: I understand that you…
M: Mom, I’m not done with the story.
Sadia: You’re not? Oh.
M: I told the girl. Wait, where are we?
Sadia: “She said, ‘wrong’.”
M: Oh, yeah. Right. I said, “You don’t know anything about twins!” (laughing) Okay, back to where we started. I don’t mean started. I mean stopped. (giggling) You’re typing it down!?
Sadia: Yep. Okay. Continue, pleeeeeeeease.
M: “I do too know about twins,” she said. And she said that identical twins have to wear the same things and shoes and do everything the same. If one gets a haircut, the other gets a haircut. I just yose that as a example.
Sadia: Mm hmm. It’s a good example. (long pause) Is your story done now?
M: No. So, ah, oh yes. I told the teacher. I told her this story. And she said, “Ignore her.” The End from M.
Sadia: I love you.
M: Hello to J!
Sadia: All right, pumpkin. You ready?
J: For what?
Sadia: To tell your story.
J: What?
Sadia: You were telling me you gave her a bit of a class?
J: Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh!
Sadia: If you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to hear what you told her.
J: Uh. Uhhhh. Uhhhhhh.
M: Mom, can anyone do this? I mean, read this?
Sadia: Yeah. Is that okay?
M: Mm hmm.
Sadia: I’d really like to hear your lesson.
J: A few minutes after that, I gave her a lesson. At first, she didn’t wanna listen, but she didn’t like to hurt people’s feelings, and I knew that, so I said, “It really hurts my feelings when people say me and my sister aren’t twins.” And it was true. I wasn’t just saying to get her attention. First I said, “Twins doesn’t mean that people look the same or have the same voice. It matters about their birth. To be a twin, you have to be born from the same mother and the same day.” Am I true?
Sadia: 100%, baby.
M: giggles at my typing again
J: M!!! Stop giggling! Stop giggling!
M: “100%, baby!”
Sadia: Was that the whole lesson?
J: Mm mm. “And I cut my hair because 1) It was a way to tell me and my sister apart since we’re identical twins and 2) Because I kept chewing on my hair. Don’t tell anyone.”
Sadia: But if I write it, people will know. Or did you tell her, “Don’t tell anyone?”
J: I told her, “Don’t tell anyone.”
Sadia: So, I can write it, and that’s okay?
J: Yeah.
Sadia: Was that the end of the lesson?
J: Yeah.
Sadia: Well, you know what? I think you guys handled that situation very well.

And we followed up with a hands-on lesson in editing.

Do your kids know that they are multiples? Have they ever encountered a multiplicity denier? How do they handle misconceptions?

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Corn Syrup in My Babies’ Formula?

Posted on
Categories Anger, Formula, Frustration, Infants, Medical, NICU, PrematurityTags , , , , 1 Comment

I gave birth to my twins, J and M, when they reached 33 weeks gestation. They were 7 weeks shy of being a fully cooked 40 weeks along when they were born, and 2 weeks early even for my minimum goal of 35 weeks. We were incredibly fortunate that they didn’t have any serious complications, but both babies still needed special care in the NICU.

I’ve always been a parent who researches, so I was pretty well-versed on the phases of development the girls were going through at various points in my pregnancy. Still, seeing my preemies brought it home in a visceral way that no research could have done.

A very small newborn, with lots of cords and wires all over her.Both M and J were rather furry when they were born, covered with lanugo, or the in-utero hairs that usually fall off well before babies emerge from the womb. I could only distinguish this fur from their eyebrows with the help of the thin line of hairlessness that separated their foreheads from their brows.

The girls’ skin was loose on their bones. After all, they hadn’t yet reached the milestone of 35 weeks, when their baby fat would make them newborn plump. Without the natural insulation of my body or their own body fat, they had to stay in warming isolettes. They couldn’t maintain their body temperature, so the hospital staff did so artificially. On two priceless occasions, we were allowed to provide kangaroo care, placing our tiny little babies inside our shirts, against the warmth of the skin on our chests, letting them bond to us.

Infants who will be born full-term are still getting their nutrition from the umbilical tube at 33 weeks and nearly 2 months afterward. Oxygen and nutrients cross from mommy’s blood to baby’s in the placenta. Getting energy and the building blocks to grow their bodies doesn’t take any work on their part. They can focus on growing, practicing sucking and kicking and, if they’re lucky enough to share the womb with Sissy or Bro, play with their best bud.

My girls were born at 3 lbs 6 oz and 3 lbs 9 oz. They weren’t to have the easy nutrition the placenta granted them. Instead, they were going to have to gain weight with the help of calories they ingested orally. At 33 weeks, babies are usually well practiced at the art of sucking, but they’re not built to use that skill to take in all their nutrition. To help them out the nurses threaded feeding tubes up our teeny babies’ noses, directing food into their stomachs.

That food came in the form of Enfamil Lipil, a high calorie formula for preemies. M and J needed nutrition to provide not only the basics they would have received from my body, but the extra energy they needed to breathe and otherwise experience life outside the womb. Much as I was committed to breastfeeding, breast milk wouldn’t cut it. It just didn’t have enough calories.

Besides, my body was trying to figure out what was going on. Were there live babies to be fed, or was it time to get out of reproductive mode? I’ve known moms with micro-preemies whose milk never came in, their bodies interpreting the early birth as a miscarriage instead of a live birth. Despite my pumping every 3 hours started a couple of hours after the birth, it took days for my milk to come in. A full-term newborn can afford to live on colostrum for a day or two, since they have plenty of energy saved up in all that squishy baby fat. My babies weren’t squishy.

The nurses at the hospital were (with one exception) fantastic. They took every teeny tiny drop of colostrum or milk I could squeeze out. To retrieve it, they filled the doll-sized bottles I pumped into with formula to retrieve every spray of breastmilk. They split that formula in half and fed it to each of my daughters through their feeding tubes.

Lipil Ingredients. The first ingredient is corn syrup solids.I hadn’t done any research into formula before M and J’s birth, being completely committed to exclusive breastfeeding. It never occurred to me to check the ingredients on our hospital-issued formula. I thought of it as medication, something beyond my area of expertise that I should entrust to medical professionals to prescribe. Imagine my surprise, then, when years later I finally read the ingredients and discovered that my babies’ high calorie formula got its high calories from corn syrup. Corn syrup was actually the first ingredients, meaning that there was more of it in the formula than any other ingredient. The composition of the formula has since been changed, but boy, did I feel silly claiming that my daughters’ first refined sugar was the cake at their first birthday party.

Sugar is sugar, I know, but I prefer to eat and feed my family minimally processed foods. I don’t like the idea of ingesting trace amounts of stuff used in processing. Don’t get me wrong. I buy prepared foods like sliced bread, lunch meats, chocolate (lot of chocolate) and crackers. I try to steer clear of non-sugar sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. I like ingredients to don’t force me to fight the urge to start drawing out organic molecule structures.

We live and learn. If I were to do it again, I would research everything going into my newborns’ bodies. Perhaps I would decide that that brand of high calorie formula was the way to go. Perhaps not.

I always read the ingredients now.

Sadia is raising her 7 year-old identical twin daughters, M and J, in the Austin, TX area. She is divorced and works in higher ed information technology. She is originally from the UK and Bangladesh, but has lived in the US since college.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Weighty Matters

Posted on
Categories Attitude, Emotion, Mommy Issues, Perspective, Pregnancy6 Comments

I’ve struggled with body image since I was a teen. I remember spending lots of time comparing myself to my peers and usually deciding that my face was ok, but my thighs were not. I thought about everything I ate and everything my friends ate. I was constantly negotiating “If I eat this cupcake then I won’t dinner eat later”, “If I eat these fries I’ll walk for an hour after work”. My attitude didn’t stop me from indulging in Cinnabon at the mall, but it did lead to intense feelings of guilt. Food still results in guilt today.

As I got older I learned how to dress for my pear shaped figure and learned what exercises would help my trouble spots, but my attitude about food and my body never changed. My miscarriages only added to my messed up attitude. Not only could my body not morph into the waif dancers frame I desired but it couldn’t grow a baby either. What good was it anyway?

I finally got pregnant and had a son. Then two more. Every time I got pregnant I’d promise myself I was going to walk everyday and only eat healthy foods. I was finally going to hear “You’re all belly” or “From behind you don’t even look pregnant”. Then morning sickness would hit and my Dr would encourage me to eat what ever I could keep down. Usually this was Yohoo and Cheetos. This approach would be fine if it stopped after the first trimester, but it never did. I just kept eating whatever I wanted and as much as I wanted. I gained over 60 pounds with all three of my boys. I lost it after W just because I was younger and active. I lost it after G because I had a raging case of PPD and couldn’t eat. I didn’t lose it after O (even after weight watchers) and I started this pregnancy 20 pounds heavier.

Now I’m 20 weeks pregnant with twins and last time I weighed I tipped the scale at over 200 pounds. I’ve read Dr. Luke’s book and I KNOW I’m supposed to be gaining large amounts of weight, but seeing that number freaked me the F*&^ out. I’m seriously losing it, friends. It probably doesn’t help that most times when I see people I know I get raised eyebrows and the “you’re getting so big” or “Wow, I can’t imagine what you’ll look like at the end”. Thanks people. Now excuse me as I drown myself in this milkshake. That said, I also have amazing friends who say things like “The bigger the belly the bigger the babies” or “You don’t look that much bigger than last week” or my favorite “You are always gorgeous pregnant”. The sad thing is I don’t really hear these compliments. They don’t circle around me as I’m frantically trying to find something to wear. They don’t ring through my head as I’m trying to figure out if I should untag a very unflattering picture of myself on Facebook. I’m trying to shake off this body/weight funk but It’s hard.

I have 2 sweet babies that are depending on me to EAT, but the bigger I get the bigger my food guilt grows. I’m back to judging everything I put in my mouth and am usually beating myself up about it at the end of the day. I’m still getting the number of calories I need and the babies are still measuring about a week ahead. Both of those are good things and in my heart I know I’ll make it thru this pregnancy and gain the appropriate amount of weight. I’ll most likely struggle the entire time, but I won’t deprive my babies. What I’m worried about is after they get here. I don’t want my early days with the twins to be overshadowed by constant self judging. I don’t want to hear the self hate that usually comes with the flabby post baby belly. I don’t want to over think everything I eat and waste time reading about stomach binders and how much a tummy tuck costs.

What I do want is to take pride in the babies I grew. I want to spend time gazing at my newest loves and not the scale. I want to say and believe that the baby weight doesn’t matter. I want to take tons of pictures of myself with all my kids and not delete them after I see them. I want to be able to dress in front of my husband and not feel embarrassed. Sigh…

Other than therapy, how do I get there? What’s your body image like post children? Did anyone else have food issues during their pregnancy?

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Happy Mom

Posted on
Categories Joy, Products7 Comments

I have started my own “Happiness Project”. Fans of Gretchen Rubin’s books will recognize the term: I am working to become aware of what ideas and habits make me happy and will in turn make for a happier family. I have already incorporated many of her suggestions such as singing my kids awake in the morning, paying attention to small parenthood moments, always kissing my spouse goodbye. Only, just now–as I folded laundry, listened to my husband bang away at a home improvement project, and watch my children alternate between playing and yelling at each other–did my steps towards happiness crystallize in my mind as a formal project.

All three of my kids are in school this year, which gives me a bit more margin in my day, some time to breathe. What I am learning is that I, as an adult, crave certain routines throughout the day in order to be a great parent. That my happy consists of getting up before my husband and children, having my first cup of coffee by myself, quiet, reading. These 30 minutes of peace set my day on the right track. Remember, my kids are older, and I didn’t start this practice when I had a singleton toddler and infant twins!

Sunrise from my kitchen window.

Another daily routine that ensures my happiness is having my dinner cooked and in the fridge waiting to be warmed up by 3pm (more details on how I get this done in a future post!) What started as a survival strategy to make sure my husband and I ate a nutritious meal during our seasons of colic, preschool 5pm witching hour, and now after-school sports and activities, has served me well over the last nine years of parenting.

It has taken me years of parenting to figure out what daily routines work for my family. Yes, every parenting book will give you a strategies and suggestions for your children, but what about you ideas to take care of you–the caregiver? Sometimes the standard suggestion of “a night out” is not enough. What do you need to have happen during the day to make it through? Parent self-care is often an afterthought, and it was for me for so many years. But our family life is much smoother when I have put just a few of my needs into our daily routine. Books and blogs inspire and validate these  my ideas. I highly recommend Gretchen Rubin’s and Christine Carter’s books on happiness as a place to start.

I wish I had been self-aware of my happiness and needs for routines when I had younger children at home all day–I made so many mistakes! When our kids were toddlers, my friend proudly wore a t-shirt that said “Happy Mom.” How true! We all need to have happy moms!

Have you started your own happiness project? If not, take a brief, quiet moment to think about what pieces of your daily routine you can add, delete, or tweak to make you a happier parent. Let me know how it works out.

Leslie H. is a tired but happy mom to three loud, active, adventurous children, two of which happen to be twins.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Prematurity Is Never Easy

Posted on
Categories Guilt, Medical, Mommy Issues, NICU, PrematurityTags , , 6 Comments

M and J were born 7 weeks premature. When we found out we were having twins, my ob/gyn told us, right off the bat, that we could expect them to arrive early. She offered to help us find a new doctor who had privileges at a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit. My husband and I agreed that we wanted her to care for us during the pregnancy, even if she wouldn’t be the one to perform the delivery if it was early.

We didn’t know the first thing about prematurity. When the doctor said, “privileges at a hospital with a NICU,” we were so naïve that we just looked at her blankly. She had to spell out that a NICU was a neonatal intensive care unit and we should prepare ourselves for an extended hospital stay. This pregnancy was high risk, all the more so because I was 5’0 and weighed 112 lbs. There wasn’t exactly a lot of room for expansion, at least up and down. The prospect of gaining the ideal 60 lbs over 9 months seemed challenging, and turned out not to be a goal I could accomplish.

Still, the pregnancy was so relatively easy on me – not so my husband; my temper was terrible! – that I was sure I could carry the girls to at least 35 weeks. I had no morning sickness, and I was floating on air during the second trimester. Thirty-five weeks was our goal, because twins tend to gestate about two weeks faster than singletons, and therefore 35 weeks for them was as good as 37 weeks for a singleton.

We went through the motions to prepare for preemies. An aunt got the girls preemie-sized outfits at the baby shower the family threw for us, even though I couldn’t attend. (My doctor highly recommended that I not fly to Oregon.) We took our Lamaze class with a group of couples 2 to 3 months farther along in their pregnancies than I was. Despite these steps, we hadn’t prepared emotionally, and I was still deeply attached to the idea of a natural birth. I had made a list for my hospital bag, but hadn’t actually packed, when my water broke at 33 weeks, 1 day.

The actual birth was a haze. J weighed 3 lbs 6 oz, M 3 lbs 9 oz. J had a patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), or a hole in her heart. It’s a common condition in infants, and resolved itself within a couple of months. Neither M nor J needed any help breathing. They didn’t need oxygen treatments. Unlike some of the other preemies in the NICU, they didn’t have any issues with apnea of prematurity, which is essentially what happens when a preemie forgets to breathe.

They were really small, though. They couldn’t regulate their own body temperatures because their baby fat hadn’t come in yet. They had to stay in their warmed isolettes, although they were strong enough that we were allowed to hold them for several hours each day, and keep them warm with our own body heat. When they finally downed 31 mLs (1 oz) of formula and breastmilk in one shot, I cried for joy, because that was one of the criteria the NICU had set up for release from the hospital. Days earlier, my husband had fought for my right to breastfeed, fighting formula and the feeding tube while I was being moved out of the operating room, until a doctor kindly, but firmly, told him that our babies were really, really sick, and all our plans were going to have to wait.

We had the healthiest preemies in the NICU, but still, they were tiny.

In the picture above, J and M (in the matching white onesies) are a day shy of a month old. D, a dear friend’s son, is two weeks old. That’s half their age. He was born on his due date at 40 weeks gestation, compared to M and J’s 33 weeks. His legs are twice the size of theirs. His arms are twice the size of theirs. Each of his hands could almost contain one of theirs. M or J would disappear inside the newborn-sized onesie D is wearing. D wasn’t a particularly large baby. What you can’t see is how baggy their preemie-sized onesies are on them.

Remember, M and J are twice as old as he is, if you count from their birth age.

I actually learned not to measure their age from their birthday. When I did use their birth age during their first year, I felt like I had to keep explaining why the girls were so small, or why they weren’t holding up their heads better at their age. Not only that, but my poor friend kept having to defend little D when we were together in public. “He’s not fat! He’s not huge! The twins are just really really tiny!”

Once we reached their due date, the day they would have been born full-term, I began to use their corrected age, that is, how old they would have been if they hadn’t spent the last two months of the gestational period outside the womb. It was so much simpler to tell strangers at the grocery store that the girls were a month old, rather than, “They’re three months old, but they were born two months early, and please don’t look at me like that because I’ve never done a drug in my life and maybe if I’d been on bed rest the pregnancy would have lasted longer, but I did the best I could, and I’m really trying to be a good mother.”

Yes, I was extremely touchy about the fact that the girls were born early. I felt like my first act of motherhood had been to betray them by evicting them from my body half-cooked.

Our pediatrician was fantastic. The entire practice has a lot of experience with preemies. In fact, all the twins I knew in our old town went to one of two pediatricians. (Not all twins are premature. My husband’s now 16-year-old triplet cousins were born full term. However, the rate of prematurity is high for twins, over 50 percent.) The doctor focused always on how M and J were doing compared to where they started, rather than looking at averages. When he tracked their growth on the growth chart, he used their corrected age. When it came to timing immunizations and the introduction of solid foods, we followed the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, again using their corrected age.

M and J are healthy. They only long-term effect of prematurity appears to be the state of their teeth, although we faced some challenges in the early years with their lung development. We’re the lucky ones, though. Others aren’t as fortunate.

Here’s what I would tell my pregnant self if I could:

Don’t be irritated with he doctor when she tells you that you need to quit working. Listen to her when she says that you’re having too many Braxton Hicks contractions, too early. Working part time and telecommuting was a great alternative to working full-time, but you could have afforded to stare at the ceiling for a few weeks to give those precious girls a better start. It might have made a difference. It might not have. You’ll never know.

I will never know what I could have done differently to give J and M another day or two in utero, but I will always wonder.

Sadia’s daughters, J and M, are now thriving in first grade. They’re a head and half shorter than their classmates, thanks to inheriting Sadia’s (lack of) height. A previous version of this post was published on Sadia’ personal blog, Double the Fun, on honour of the Bloggers Unite Prematurity Awareness event 2009 .

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Toddlers and TV

Posted on
Categories Guilt, ToddlersTags , 26 Comments

I’ve started this post about 25 times and I just can’t get it right.

Toddlers and TV. Let's be honest. Some of us let our toddlers have TV access, but we feel so guilty about it! From hdydi.com

When you get right down to it, here’s my problem. I’m suffering Parental Guilt about the fact that I let my toddlers watch TV.

TV was one of those things that I was a little *ahem* high and mighty about when Maddie and Riley were born. Oh, no, my kids weren’t going to watch TV! Baby Einstein is for the weak! No licensed characters in my home! Blah blah blah. Well, yeah. From the age of a year or so on, they watched an occasional video, but without much interest. It would hold their attention for ten minutes or so, then they were on to other things. I was so proud. They didn’t even like TV! Then, around when Maddie and Riley turned two, I decided that we should try to have Family Movie Night on Fridays. We get pizza and make popcorn and I put in one of the many videos they have received as gifts from family and friends.

At first, it was as it had always been: ten minutes of interest, then off to other things. But then we found Dora, the Explorer. Maddie and Riley adore Dora. And Diego. And Boots. And Swiper (“No swiping!) Soon, Friday Movie Night had become Friday Plus Any Rainy Day, then Friday Plus Rainy Days Plus Days Any Household Member Shows Vague Signs of Crankiness. Lately, our house has been a Dora zone on any day that ends in “day.” I’m trying not to feel bad, but I’m obviously failing.

Frankly, it’s not so much the TV watching that bothers me. I’m worried about where the TV watching will lead. M&R are starting to recognize licensed characters on products in the store. Now they want the Elmo crackers and the Dora toothbrush. I still don’t let them watch commercial TV, so they begging for toys they see on ads has yet to commence. I know I can’t shield them from this stuff forever, but I’m not holding off as long as I could or as I had planned.

I also have some guilt around the fact that I really enjoy tucking in on the couch and watching a video with Maddie and Riley. I usually put the video on after the kids have their pajamas on, and we’ll all get under the blankie on the sofa and answer Dora and Diego’s questions, implore Swiper not to swipe, and reach out to catch the Three Kings Cake that Dora dropped. Sometimes we’ll share a snack (Ack! Eating in front of TV! Another can of worms!) It’s peaceful and cozy and fun for all of us. Why do I feel bad about that?

Do you let your kids watch TV? How much? What shows? Do you feel bad about it? I know there’s plenty of debate and writing on this already, but it’s on my mind a lot lately and I feel a need to beat the proverbial dead horse. Humor me.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on RedditDigg thisShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone