Twinkly Tuesday – August 25, 2015

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Skip to Tuesday Twinklers | Skip to rules | Skip to participant badge | Skip to this week’s links

Welcome to this week’s Twinkly Tuesday, the link party hosted by Sadia here at HDYDI, Caro of The Twinkle Diaries, and Lisa at Mummascribbles.

Meet new people, share a post, and read blogs you might never come across elsewhere. Twinkly Tuesday participants are generous commenters and talented writers.

Each week Lisa, Caro, and I choose a favourite post. If you have been featured, be sure to claim your fame by adding the Twinkly Tuesday Twinkler badge to your blog.

My Tuesday Twinkler this week is from Life as Our Little Family. KA channels the concerns of many a parent sending their child to school for the first time. She puts into words all the fears that come with sending our children out into the big bad world.

KA is not ready to send her son to school.

Lisa’s Tuesday Twinkler this week is from Little Hearts Big Love. In her beautiful piece, “This is the man“, Louise tells her love story.

A beautifully told story of true love.

Caro’s Tuesday Twinkler is from 4Under4Madness, who has a quandary many a MoM can relate to: a close relative sending a single birthday card to twin siblings. We know that it’s hard for people who don’t know our kids well to hit the right balance between twinhood and individuality, but it’s magnified on birthdays. How would you advise CrazyMadMumof4?

How would you react to a single birthday card being sent to your twins?

Take a moment to visit these posts, if you can. We would love it if you paid a visit to the other host links, and any others that look interesting.

On with this week’s link-up!

Link up a post, old or new, that you think deserves more readers!

Twitter: Be sure to mention me — @hdydi, Lisa — @mummascribbles, or Caro — @twinklediaries, on Twitter and please use the hashtag #TwinklyTuesday. We’ll be sure to retweet every tweet tagged!

We’ll also visit everyone’s posts and leave comments between us.

Pinterest:  Lisa and I pin every post with an image to the primary Twinkly Tuesday Pinterest board and I repin the top pins on the HDYDI Twinkly Tuesday board. Send an email to mummascribbles@hotmail.com or tweet Lisa your email address and she’ll add you to the primary board. No more than 2 posts per week please!

Each week, all three of us pick our favourite posts which will be featured on the following week’s Twinkly Tuesday page.

There are a few easy rules to follow, to ensure that everyone’s posts get the attention they deserve. Please do make the effort to abide by the rules, in fairness to the vast majority who do. We have been forced to block participation for repeat offenders who haven’t responded to multiple reminders.

  • Link up one post per week — old or new.
  • Please be kind enough to add our badge to the bottom of your post/s or your linky page. (Scroll down for the code.) If you haven’t (yet) been featured, please make sure you’re using this badge and not the featured one.
  • Please comment on at least two other posts including the one directly before yours. Visit and comment on as many others as you can. Of course, checking out the hosts’ posts would make us feel very loved.
  • Please use #TwinklyTuesday in your comments so people know where you found them!
  • By linking up, you give us permission to use images from your blog if featured. You also allow us to add you to a mailing list to receive a weekly announcement when Twinkly Tuesday opens.
  • The linky closes at 23.55 GMT tonight.

We look forward to reading all of your fantastic blog posts and seeing you again next week! Remember to grab our button!

Grab buttons for Twinkly Tuesday

Here’s how to add our badge to your site. Enter HTML editing mode on your post, sidebar, or page. Copy the code in the box below and paste it into your site in your code/html view. Save and publish. That’s it!

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HDYDI Theme Weeks

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Long-time readers will remember our occasional theme weeks. During these weeks, we dive deeply into a single topic of interest of parents of multiples. We share a wide range of personal stories and perspectives on that topic.

Past theme week topics have run the gamut from infertility to saving money to parenting book reviews. Next week, we’re going to examine the time mothers spend on ourselves. We’re calling it Making Time for Me Week.

Making Time for Me - a series on mothers finding time for themselves in the middle of the insanity of parenting and life

We’ll be talking about what qualifies as “me-time”, why some of us prioritize it, and why some of us don’t get any at all.

Bloggers, if you have a post on this topic on your own blog, whether it’s an older post or you’re inspired to write something fresh, we would love you to participate in the link-up we’re hosting. Just link below!


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Toddler Thursday: Letter Recognition Activities

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We all want to give our children the skills to make the most of their educations. One basic concept that we can encourage our toddlers to develop is letter recognition. Children who know their ABCs early are at an advantage, and may quickly move onto becoming fluent and critical readers.

My girls are well beyond learning their letters now that they’re 9 and reading at a middle school level. When they were younger, I had a repertoire of alphabet toys and “ABC games”, as a I called them, at my disposal. I think that these, in combination with constant access to age appropriate books, regularly being read to, and observing me read, helped my daughters become the strong and willing readers that they are today.

Alphabet Toys

I don’t believe that toys, in isolation, can teach our children to read, but educational toys have their place alongside literacy experiences shared by parent and child. In my experience, Leapfrog is the leading brand when it comes to toys that help to teach literacy and numeracy skills.

The LeapPad2™ Power is one of several literacy-related toys produced by Leapfrog.

I personally prefer their hands on toys, such as their Fridge Phonics set, to their tablets for getting toddlers excited about the alphabet.

Fridge Phonics' music may get stuck in your head in the worst possible way, but it does help your toddler learn the letters of the alphabet!

We had a much older version of this toy nearly a decade ago. Its repetitive song of “‘B’ says /b/, ‘B’ says /b/, every letter makes a sound, ‘B’ says /b/” may have driven me a little batty, but my daughters did learn their letters! The letter magnets are interchangeable on the base. Press on the magnet, and it sings to your child the name of the letter. The musical note button sings the Alphabet Song.

I apologize for the vacuum cleaner in the background. Loved that Roomba!

Flashcards

I picked up a cheap set of letter flashcards at our local dollar store and kept them in the car. When we were stuck in traffic, I could hold a card up over my head and show my toddlers a letter. At first, I’d just tell them what the letter was. After a few weeks, they were able to tell me the name of the letters I showed them. Next, I started listing all the words I could think of that started with that letter. As my twins got older, they began to offer up their own words.

Scavenger Hunts

As I mentioned in my college campus post, one simple activity involved writing each letter of the alphabet, in both upper and lower case, on a sheet of paper on a clipboard. We went outside or looked through books and magazines, crossing out each letter on the list as we found it.

Alphabet scavenger hunts are great fun for a toddler, who doesn't even realize she's learning!Label Reading

One way to keep my kids occupied when we were running errands was to assign them each a letter of the alphabet to find. They could last an entire grocery shopping trip, hunting for the first letter of their names or looking for every “E” in sight.

Keep your toddler occupied at the store by having him scour the labels for a particular letter or number.

What games do you play with your toddlers to teach them the alphabet?

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Toddler Thursday: Toddler Fears

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Overcoming Fears

We toddler parents know what it feels like to see fear in our little, precious kiddos! It’s that awkward age where two-way, toddler-to-adult conversation is sparse. Without the use of words and conversation; it’s hard to know what they are afraid of!

In my “bucket o’ toddler tricks”, I have a solution! Children can develop fears from visual and physical experience(s). If they get startled by a loud noise coming from a red lawnmower, they may fear red lawnmowers — or they may fear any red, moving object. If they are left in the dark or trip over the stairs, they may fear the dark or fear the stairs. Some children have a higher tolerance for fear and overcome it rather quickly; some take more time. It’s how we help them deal with the experience (visual or physical) that can limit the length of time that a fear “festers”.

We’ve instituted a method in our child-rearing process: Immediate Facing of Fears.

ACK! Well, it’s not as harsh as it sounds. All it means is that when a fearful experience occurs, we immediately repeat the experience (to a safe level of course).

Gwen & Owen - Park 2015

For example, today Gwen fell off the steps at the playground. She was on her way up to the slide; she had a goal to conquer that slide, and boy were we going to get her on it! As soon as she fell off, we put her right back on. Tears and all. We made sure she wasn’t injured, comforted her and offered her a little extra assistance. Then we let her own the completion of that goal. She didn’t have the opportunity to build up any fear of those steps!

The smile on her face while she slid down that slide was precious and she forgot all about that bloody lip!

A word of caution: make sure they are safe and make sure they understand WHY they got hurt or scared. Just communicating with her about the situation helped her to be more careful.

You might think that this is dangerous and that it instills reckless behavior in children. I can assure you, the exact opposite is true. My kids understand situations better and rarely get injured or scared. They are tough and they’ve been taught to be that way!

An article on Kidshealth.org sums it up nicely: “The key to resolving fears and anxieties is to overcome them.” — D’Arcy Lyness, PhD

Kids are resilient. They are learning every day. If we give them the opportunity and time to experience life, they’ll carry that resiliency into adulthood.

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Wouldn’t Do Without Wednesday: Reusable Baking Cups

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You’ve probably used paper baking cups at some point. They’re available in enormous variety, from the plain white ones to extraordinary feats of artistry.

These paper cupcake liners are so pretty... but the reusable kind are more adaptable
Image by Le Living and Co is licensed under CC 2.0

Adorable as the paper kind can be, my heart belongs to their reusable silicone brethren.

Image by Le Living and Co is license under CC 2.0
Image by bloggyboulga is licensed under CC 2.0

I occasionally use reusable silicone baking cups to bake cupcakes, breakfast muffins, or the dangerously addictive brownie-dipped Oreos that I blame LauraC for adding to my baking repertoire. More often, though, I use them in my daughters’ school lunches. These flexible molds are just perfect for keeping the different elements of their lunch separated.

Reusable baking cups are ideal for keeping lunch components separated.I use reusable baking cups for both hot and cold lunches. The hot lunch above consists of peas, rice, and sausage. The liners fit perfectly inside our small lunch Thermos containers to stack the dishes and keep them separate. My girls do then need to pry them out with the help of a fork, for a nice hot three part meal. For cold lunches, the liners serve to keep carrots or raisins from running into a sandwich or wrap.

I’ve even taking to packaging rice in these liners as soon as it’s cool, so the rice is already sorted into single servings when I go to the fridge.

They’re not all that expensive, either. I find the Ikea liners to be very affordable. I recently received a set from Calphalon that were excellent quality, but rather pricey.

Do you have reusable baking cups? Are they gathering dust in your kitchen? Do you use them for storage?

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Twinfant Tuesday: Congratulations!

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Dear MoM to be,

Congratulations! You’ve recently found out your expecting multiples! The shock has worn off (a little) and if you’re like most MoMs you’ve now entered the Must Find All the Information Mode.  This where you begin frantically googling things like:

  • Twin pregnancy tummy- images
  • How soon do twins sleep through the night?
  • Can I afford electricity and diapers for twins?
  • Nursing twins-really?

All joking aside I bet you’re a big mess of happy, worried, scared , and excited.  We’ve all been there.  Crying one minute and smiling the next is completely normal.  You’re about to experience pregnancy and parenthood in a very unique and wonderful way.  You’ll wish you had other MoMs to talk to and confide in- Don’t worry you’ll find them.  Until you do, here’s some advice I wish I’d been given at the beginning of my pregnancy.

When you’re announcing your pregnancy you’ll find parents of singletons saying adorable things like “Better you than me” and “Ugh, I’m so sorry!”.  Parents of multiples will squeal with glee, crush you in a hug, and make you a list of all the MoMs groups in your area.  Take comfort in the fact that those with actual experience in parenting multiples are the ones excited for you.  They know what you’re facing and how amazing it is.

I know you’re wondering and the answer is YES!  Your belly is going to get huge.  Bigger than you can even imagine.  Bigger than the maternity clothes sold in most stores can handle.  Even more shocking is that you will grow to miss this belly.  My twins are almost two and I’ve just recently started pining for my pregnant belly.  I look at pictures of myself pregnant and wish I could feel my sweet babies bump around inside me one more time. You won’t want to, but please take lots of pictures.  Document the amazingness of your body.

I didn't take many pictures of my growing belly. This selfie was taken at 30 weeks.

Caring for newborn multiples is hard.  Harder than anyone can prepare you for.  Give yourself permission now to do what works in the moment.  My twins slept in their swings until they were 9 months old.  That’s right… 9 months.  If I wanted to sleep (and oh how I did) then they had to be swinging.  The only reason they moved to cribs was because they got so heavy the swings stopped working (that was a sad, sad day). Throw out your books, plans, and ideas of how things “should” be.  Start practicing your mantra “Whatever works NOW”.

Enjoy long showers and baths, eat hot meals, and wear clean clothes now.  Once the babies come these will all become luxuries.  This sounds horrible and awful but I promise you won’t mind (much).  The first year with your multiples will most likely be a blur.  I have some very distinct memories that I cherish, but mostly what I remember is a feeling.  I was sleepy, overwhelmed, and so very happy.

Practice walking briskly while smiling and nodding.  This is how you will maneuver through all public spaces for the next two years.  The  amount of comments you are receiving right now about your growing belly will multiply by a million when you have infant multiples in tow.  Don’t stop, don’t engage, don’t make eye contact.  I’m kidding… just prepare yourself.  You will attract attention and people will  love to talk about your babies.  Sometimes this will bother you and sometimes it won’t.

This last one is a biggie…  You probably have some very specific fears regarding your pregnancy and postpartum period.  You may worry that you’ll end up on bed rest or that you won’t be able to nurse your babies.  As scary and awful as these things seem I promise you that if they do occur you will handle it.  You will rise up to the challenge and do what needs to be done.  Parents of multiples are a unique breed.  We are a resilient and creative bunch.  We figure things out and make it work.  YOU are now a part of this group which means you are more than capable of conquering your fear.  I had two worries during my pregnancy: that I might have to have a C section and that the babies would potentially have NICU stays. I have 3 other children and thinking about managing babies in the hospital with the needs of my kids at home scared me. Both of those things happened.  I gave birth vaginally to Laurel and had Rhodes by C section 40 minutes later.  To add to the fun my epidural wasn’t working so I had to be put totally asleep for Rhodes’ birth.  My babies were born at 34 weeks and had to stay in the NICU for 2 weeks.  It was a rough time, but my husband and I pulled together and did it.  You can handle whatever this phase of life throws at you.

My sweet Rhodes in the NICU.
My sweet Rhodes in the NICU.

Please enjoy this time, sweet MoM.  You have so many happy and exciting things ahead of you.

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Love,

Elizabeth, Laurel, and Rhodes

 

What advice do you wish you could give your pregnant self?

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Twinkly Tuesday – August 18, 2015

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Skip to Tuesday Twinklers | Skip to rules | Skip to participant badge | Skip to this week’s links

Welcome to this week’s Twinkly Tuesday, the link party hosted by Sadia here at HDYDI, Caro of The Twinkle Diaries, and Lisa at Mummascribbles.

Meet new people, share a post, and read blogs you might never come across elsewhere. Twinkly Tuesday participants are generous commenters and talented writers.

Each week Lisa, Caro, and I choose a favourite post. If you have been featured, be sure to claim your fame by adding the Twinkly Tuesday Twinkler badge to your blog.

Lisa’s Tuesday Twinkler this week is from Living Life, where Jemma goes on a little rant about her husband’s ever-evolving hobbies.

col_drunk

Caro’s Tuesday Twinkler is from 23 Week Socks, a heartbreaking piece on the first infant death Louise experienced as a NICU nurse. You’ll want to grab a box of tissues. Softening the agony of the loss of this baby is the compassion Louise shows to his parents, the recognition that she is witness to and responsible for helping them create memories to last a lifetime of potential lost.

A NICU nurse's first experience of infant death.

Take a moment to visit these posts, if you can. We would love it if you paid a visit to the other host links, and any others that look interesting.

On with this week’s link-up!

Link up a post, old or new, that you think deserves more readers!

Twitter: Be sure to mention me — @hdydi, Lisa — @mummascribbles, or Caro — @twinklediaries, on Twitter and please use the hashtag #TwinklyTuesday. We’ll be sure to retweet every tweet tagged!

We’ll also visit everyone’s posts and leave comments between us.

Pinterest:  Lisa and I pin every post with an image to the primary Twinkly Tuesday Pinterest board and I repin the top pins on the HDYDI Twinkly Tuesday board. Send an email to mummascribbles@hotmail.com or tweet Lisa your email address and she’ll add you to the primary board. No more than 2 posts per week please!

Each week, all three of us pick our favourite posts which will be featured on the following week’s Twinkly Tuesday page.

There are a few easy rules to follow, to ensure that everyone’s posts get the attention they deserve. Please do make the effort to abide by the rules, in fairness to the vast majority who do. We have been forced to block participation for repeat offenders who haven’t responded to multiple reminders.

  • Link up one post per week — old or new.
  • Please be kind enough to add our badge to the bottom of your post/s or your linky page. (Scroll down for the code.) If you haven’t (yet) been featured, please make sure you’re using this badge and not the featured one.
  • Please comment on at least two other posts including the one directly before yours. Visit and comment on as many others as you can. Of course, checking out the hosts’ posts would make us feel very loved.
  • Please use #TwinklyTuesday in your comments so people know where you found them!
  • By linking up, you give us permission to use images from your blog if featured. You also allow us to add you to a mailing list to receive a weekly announcement when Twinkly Tuesday opens.
  • The linky closes at 23.55 GMT tonight.

We look forward to reading all of your fantastic blog posts and seeing you again next week! Remember to grab our button!

Grab buttons for Twinkly Tuesday

Here’s how to add our badge to your site. Enter HTML editing mode on your post, sidebar, or page. Copy the code in the box below and paste it into your site in your code/html view. Save and publish. That’s it!

Twinkly Tuesday
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British and American Vocabulary – Mummy/Mommy Edition

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Oh, the confusion that British and American vocabulary can cause! I spent the first 8 years of my life in the United Kingdom. I’ve spent the last 18 years in the United States. (There were another 10 years sandwiched between in Bangladesh, but English isn’t the primary language spoken there, so we’ll set Bangladesh aside for now.)

While American English and British English are generally mutually intelligible, vocabulary differences can cause some awkwardness. When I arrived in the US at age 18, I received a compliment on my pants. I was mortified, thinking that my underwear was visible. Only later did I realize that my American friend was referring to my outermost layer of clothing, the thing I would have called my “trousers”. A British coworker here in the US likes to tell the story of having needed to change something he’d written in pencil, and thus asked for a rubber, not knowing that the thing he wanted was called an “eraser” around here. His innocent office supplies question was interpreted by some as a request for family planning assistance.

I’ve been reading more British mummy blogs (translation: “mommy blogs”) of late and my latent vocabulary has been returning. For those of you reading blogs across the Atlantic, in either direction, allow me to offer you a translation guide for terms relevant to a parent’s life.

British Term American Term
flat Flat/apartment living can be a challenge and a joy with young children. apartment
dressing gown A British dressing gown is a bathrobe in the US. bathrobe
crisps Crisps = potato chips chips
cot Baby crib (US) = cot (UK). In the UK</td>
<td > a crib refers to what Americans might call a cradle. crib
nappy Reusable or disposal</td>
<td > "nappies" and "diapers" are the same thing. diaper
chips French fries = chips fries
marks How's your British-American translation? grades
pinafore Adorable jumper/pinafore! jumper
mum/mummy sadia2toddlercarry mom/mommy
dummy Pacifier pacifier/paci/ binkie
trousers British and American terminology differences can cause confusion. Trousers or pants? pants
ice lolly popsicle = ice lolly = ice pop popsicle
pushchair strollerconnected stroller
jumper Colourful winter wear. sweater
swimming costume Love this swimsuit! swimsuit
lorry An American semi is a British lorry. truck/semi
pants/undies/ knickers Panties to Americans</td>
<td > pants to Brits. Confusion could be awkward. underwear/panties
holiday Relax vacation
garden Gorgeous backyard! yard

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Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction (sIUGR)

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Categories Medical, Pregnancy, Science of MultiplesTags Leave a comment

Multiple pregnancies are categorized as “high risk” for a reason. It’s not just a matter of the limited room in our womb squishing our babies up against each other. The human female body is optimized to gestate one baby. When you add in more, there’s a chance that not all resources will end up being distributed evenly.

If you’re new to How Do You Do It? and didn’t come here specifically to learn about sIUGR, I encourage you to read through the amazing birth stories on this site. The MoMs of HDYDI have experienced the full range of multiple pregnancy possibilities, from full-term to micropreemie, from extended bedrest to working right to the end, from natural childbirth to C-section. Don’t be scared by this one set of potential complications. Most of us have perfectly healthy and happy children today!

Meet Jenn

Meet Jenn, HDYDI‘s newest contributor. One of her twin daughters was diagnosed with Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction. We’ll explain exactly what that is after Jenn tells her story.

 My name is Jenn, and I’m a 32 year old mom of a sweet 4 year old boy and 3 month identical twin girls. This is my story about our experience with Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction.

At 9 weeks pregnant, I found out we were expecting monozygotic/diamniotic (identical) twins. After the initial shock wore off (let’s be honest, I’m not sure the shock and wonder ever wear off!), I dove into books and the Internet to educate myself as much as possible as to what to expect for the next 7 months. I read about a million complications – preterm labour, how large I was going to get, and about Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS).

Being a worrier to begin with, I began to go over all the things that could go wrong, but most of all, I feared my babies would be affected by TTTS. That fear became real at my 21 week OB appointment. After a fairly easy pregnancy to that point, my OB declared there was a problem. “They are identical, they should be the same size” he said. My Twin B was two weeks behind her sister in size.

“This isn’t good, I think you have TTTS”.

The next thing we knew, my OB was sending us four hours away to the top TTTS hospital in our province, and we were being prepared for surgery. My whole world caved in. I remember calling my mom in tears, telling her how I was so scared to lose my girls. I didn’t know what to think or do. When we arrived we were given an extensive ultrasound – over two hours long.

As we sat down to discuss the results with the doctor, he said that we had no signs of TTTS. I was confused. He then said our itty bitty Baby B had Selective Intrauterine Growth Restriction. What? I hadn’t read about that during my research.

He explained sIUGR is an issue that can arise only in pregnancies where the babies share a placenta. Then, he drew us a diagram showing us that Baby B had a marginal cord insertion, which means her umbilical cord wasn’t centrally located, instead being off to one side. This means she was only being supported by 25% of the placenta whereas her sister was getting the other 75%.

The doctor (who was a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist or MFM) said that I would need to be referred to my local MFM for weekly monitoring of growth and cord flow, but to expect a 36 week delivery by Caesarian section. The MFM also explained to me that many identical twins experience varying degrees of sIUGR due to cord placement, and that most sIUGR babies can catch up after birth.

I have to say I breathed a huge sigh of relief, considering we were expecting TTTS surgery that day. We headed home and started our weekly monitoring with my new MFM. He made sure to check UA umbilical artery (UA) and middle cerebral (MCA) artery dopplers, fluid levels, growth and bladder diameters at each ultrasound to stay on top of potential complications. At that point, we were watching UA cord flow to ensure it didn’t reverse, which would be cause for immediate delivery.

Every week was a rollercoaster. One week we would have intermittent/absent flow and our little would have only gained a few grams. Other weeks we had perfect cord flow and she was gaining beautifully. The most important thing I could hold on to was the advice I received on a Facebook support group for sIUGR/IUGR babies. I was advised that as long as there was SOME growth each week, and no reverse flow, we were okay.

I began to research more things I could do to help my babies grow. I read about a high protein diet so I made sure to take in as much as I could. Every week I either cried with worry, or felt cautiously optimistic.

Finally, as I approached 35 weeks, my sIUGR twin slowly stopped growing, and it was time to discuss induction. I had wanted to try for a VBAC, which my MFM was cautiously willing to try if I wanted to. However, after discussing the possible, and very real, risks involving a VBAC and my SIUGR twin, it was decided to schedule a C-section.

I made it to my scheduled date at 36.4 weeks, but oh, how I wished I could keep them in a little longer to grow a little bigger. When the MFM delivered my Twin A, she was a healthy weight of 5.6lbs. When my sIUGR twin was delivered, I remember the doctors saying how tiny she was, and the MFM said to me “I’m glad we got her out when we did”. She was 3.14lbs and the sweetest tiniest little pumpkin ever.

They whisked her off to the NICU, but assured me she was perfectly fine and would only be there 2-3 days max – she just needed to get her weight up before going home. She was alert, and nursing better than her “big” sister and we couldn’t wait to get them both home.

Unfortunately, she picked up a severe blood infection from an IV she received in the NICU, and her 3 day stay ended up being a scary 17 days full of close calls and a LOT of tears. Fast forward (and boy does time fast forward with babies) to today, where our sweet sIUGR twin Charlie is five months old. At three months, she was tipping the scales at over 11lbs, and her twin Addie was over 13lbs.

Charlie is perfect in every way, and although the doctors say she will likely always be “petite” she has overcome everything she’s been through like the little warrior she is. The smallest babies are always the fiercest. Charlie was followed by a dietician for the first two months of her life as she aimed to make her place on the growth charts, but she’s now above the 10th percentile and growing on her own perfect little curve.

We are very lucky.

sIUGR has many levels of severity, and our situation could have been much more difficult. Educating yourself is key. My OB didn’t know what it was and assumed it was TTTS. In fact, too many health professionals aren’t privy to the details of sIUGR and TTTS. I’m thankful to have been sent away for more testing, because ultimately I ended up being well taken care of by a MFM who knew what to look for and how to monitor a sIUGR pregnancy.

The number one thing I recommend to a mommy who has been diagnosed with sIUGR is to find a support group full of other moms who have been, or are going through, the same thing you are. They are often very knowledgable on what questions you should be asking and what kind of care you should be getting. I’m so thankful for those moms and the constant information and reassurance they offered.

There is nothing I did or didn’t do to cause sIUGR, and there was nothing I could do to fix or help the situation. That, of course, doesn’t help the guilt or helplessness you feel as a mommy. This is just another curveball in the crazy journey that is being a mom of multiples! Our babies aren’t the only warriors here after all!

What Is sIUGR?

Multiples and singletons alike, some babies are affected by a condition called intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). This term describes a baby who is growing significantly slower than expected in the womb, one who is smaller than 90% of babies of the same gestational age (the time that has passed since conception). Causes of IUGR can be related to the placenta, through which the baby receives nutrition and oxygen, maternal health, or chromosomal issues. Selective intrauterine growth restriction (sIUGR) is a specific type of IUGR that only occurs in identical multiple pregnancies. The “selective” part means that not all babies’ regions of the placenta are impacted.

sIUGR occurs in about 10% of monochorionic pregnancies. Those of us with mono/mono or mono/di twins are at risk. (For more information on these terms and general information about twin pregnancies, please see our primer.) In sIUGR, one twin is getting so little of his or her share of the placenta that it is impacting growth. To be blunt, that twin is malnourished and possibly under-oxygenated. This is particularly obvious when comparing the sIUGR twin to his or her wombmate, who, all things being equal, should be about the same size.

MoMs, we are masters of guilt. If your baby has been diagnosed with sIUGR, it is not your fault. These things just happen. The fact that you have a diagnosis means that you’re doing what you should for your children. You’re getting regular medical care. Your doctors can help get your baby healthy.

How Does sIUGR Develop?

Background

Let’s make sure we’re all familiar with the basic terms.

Basic terminology to describe babies in the womb. Your baby receives nutrition through the umbilical cord from the placenta attached to your womb.

Let’s now look more closely at the placenta. The placenta is your babies’ anchor and food source. It is the place where mom’s cells and babies’ cells meet. Mom’s blood vessels bring in her oxygenated and nutrition-laden blood, which transfer their goodies to babies’ blood in babies’ blood vessels. On the way out, Mom’s blood picks up babies’ waste so that her body can get rid of it for them.

The blood vessels that carry blood to and from the baby in utero embed in the placenta to get oxygen and nutrition from mom.

Umbilical Cord Insertion

Ideally, the umbilical cord attaches to the placenta near its center, allowing plenty of room for blood vessels to spread out and maximize the connections between Mom and baby. However, this becomes more complicated when there’s more that one umbilical attaching to a shared placenta.

In most cases, as with Sadia’s daughters, each twin’s umbilical cord is close enough to the middle to claim plenty of placental real estate for his or her blood vessels. Complications can arise when the placenta is shared unevenly.

TTTS and sIUGR are complications that can arise when identical twins (or more) share a placenta unevenly.

 

sIUGR and TTTS

In rare cases, as with Jenn’s daughters, one umbilical cord attaches off to the side and doesn’t get its fair share. The other umbilical cord’s placement is still optimal. Only the undernourished baby is negatively affected, his or her growth limited by the nutrition making it through. This is sIUGR, a condition often initially misdiagnosed as TTTS.

In about 15% of twins who share a placenta, one twin gets far more than his or her share of the placenta while the other gets far less. This is called Twin-to-Twin Transfusion syndrome, or TTTS. In effect, the donor twin is giving a transfusion of the blood to the recipient twin. One baby ends up overfed and the other undernourished, which is dangerous for both babies.

An initial diagnosis of TTTS may be modified to one of sIUGR if observation of the possible donor twin finds that there’s nothing to be concerned about when it comes to cord insertion.

Surgery

TTTS surgery involves using a laser to block blood vessels carrying blood between the twins. Its benefit is primarily to the twin who is receiving too much blood. Medicine has not yet advanced to the point where surgery is available to make a greater blood supply available to the donor twin or to a baby diagnosed with sIUGR. Frequent ultrasound monitoring is the only real option, allowing your doctor to determine whether it’s safer for your babies to be delivered pre-term than to continue to be nourished in utero by the placenta.

If you have any questions about sIUGR or TTTS, please let us know. We’ll do our best to answer, although neither of us is a medical professional. You can find out much more about TTTS on the TTTS Foundation website.

 

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Toddler Thursday: Toddlers and a Clean House? Choose Your Battles

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We are about 2 or 3 years out since the toddler years, but I remember those days very clearly. I’ve got twin boys and their older brother, who is two years older. In the early days, when the twins were babies and not walking, it was a bit easier to keep our household clean. My biggest worry was whether or not the main floor washroom and front hall were presentable for guests who came often. The rest of the house stayed pretty orderly and clean.

As my two year old became more independent and turned three and the babies turned into one year olds, crawling and cruising around, playing with more toys and progressing to solid foods, my priorities began to change. Feed three kids and wait to clean up the disastrous mess on the floor and the dishes and play with them to keep them entertained, or feed them, clean the mess, wash the dishes for 20 minutes and let the kids entertain themselves with their toys or a TV show? I often chose to hang out with the kids and let the mess wait. I’d get to the mess…eventually!

Messes build up fast, however, so I also tried to pick the spots I wanted to keep “mess free” or as mess free as possible, because my boys seem to leave a trail of stuff here and there, no matter how hard I try! I didn’t have the energy to be constantly cleaning every room of the house. There are three of them and only one of me!

So I chose my battles. I chose the rooms I was willing to see get a bit chaotic and messy, such as the TV room, which quickly became the toy room, because I could see it from our kitchen and know the little ones were safe, while I did take care of other business…like nursing my cold cup of coffee at a distance.

Aside from that mess under the highchairs and the piles of bottles and sipToddler twins in high chairspy cups in the sink waiting to be washed, the kitchen was a “mess free” zone. I kept it kid free and mess free if we were not having a meal. I was not the mother who allowed my kids into the cupboards and bottom of the stove to pull out pots and pans to clang on for hours on end. They had other noisy toys in the toy room just for that reason! I kept a baby gate up so there would be no toddling or crawling throughout that mess free zone. Pots and pans strewn across my kitchen floor would have been yet another mess to have to take care of and for any mother of twins or more, you know the minutes in the day seem to whiz by and before you know it it’s time for you to go to bed. I did not have time to be picking up these random messes in every room of my house.

Other ways I tried to contain the mess included:

interlocking mats
As found on www.walmart.com

Using foam interlocking mats beneath the twins’ high chairs, which worked as a catchall and were easy to either sweep or pick up and shake off outside or in the sink and wash down. Sometimes I’d throw them in the tub and soap them up for a really good wash, then air dry. They were really helpful with avoiding constant mopping of the kitchen floor.

I chose to keep the pile of toys contained in decorativstorage boxe closet boxes, such as sweater boxes, which looked like they were just a decorative part of the room. I stacked them at the end of the couch, which was farthest from the toy room (aka TV room) entry and the least visible spot.

I am sure there are many other ways to keep a house orderly when you have little toddlers going two or three different directions all day long, but these were a few of my proven and favourite ways to go about it.

Moving forward in life, when toddlers grow to school-agers, I can’t say that containing the mess gets any easier and the messes will begin to move into other rooms, but you can always strategize, strategize, strategize new ways to fight the mess!

Yet there will always be the kind of day where you’re getting ready for work and come out of your closet area doing the “I just stepped on a Lego Storm Trooper head” painful dance that will remind you that you can’t always win the battle of the mess.

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