Mommy 4-1-1

Mommies 4 Mommies: What We Wish We’d Known

Coping with Loss Thursday, July 31, 2008

Filed under: Pregnancy and Infant Loss — Kristin @ 1:16 pm

The time span between the births of my first and second child is almost 4 years.  More like 3 years, 11 months and 28 days, or something like that.  A long time in the grand scheme of having children.  It was not planned that we would have kids so far apart in age.  Two years sounded good to us, and considering that we basically said “let’s try to have a baby” and got pregnant with our first, we didn’t think that we’d have trouble conceiving our second.  We were wrong.

It took 8 months to get pregnant again after Meg was born.  It was a relief for us, and we were so excited that we started telling people.  Even our 2 1/2 year old daughter.  Then around 9 or so weeks, I started spotting.  A quick trip to the doctor told the truth~no heartbeat.  I was devastated.  I forced my husband to tell my parents, and my office.  I had the D&C, and tried to move on.  It was not easy.  The nurse at my OB’s office gave me the name of someone I could speak with, but I chose to ignore her advice.  Luckily, Meg didn’t really understand what had happened, and still to this day doesn’t know.

So, we waited the appropriate amount of time, and started trying again.  Six months after the first miscarriage, I was pregnant again.  Because of the first miscarriage, I had an early ultrasound.  Again, no heartbeat.  Not only was I devastated, I was angry.  Really, really angry.  We hadn’t told anyone this time around, but my coworkers had figured it out and I had to explain to them.  And then my family, because I had to have another D&C.  I still didn’t speak to anyone about it, even though I had the slip of paper with the name and number on it.  I had my doctor run tests, which all came back negative.  It was one of those times where “things just happen.”  I still had a hard time believing that I could get pregnant, but not stay pregnant, after having such an easy time with Meg.  Angry, angry, angry.

When I did finally get pregnant with Drew a few months later, I was petrified.  Again with the early ultrasounds.  A baby, with a heartbeat.  A good, strong heartbeat.  Then, at about 12 weeks,  I started spotting again.  Angry, angry, angry.  A trip to the doctor revealed a healthy baby, accompanied by a blood clot which was bleeding out.  Nothing to worry about.  Drew was born 3 days after Christmas, healthy and ready to rock and roll.  I’ve never been so relieved.

Looking back, I realize that I didn’t cope well with the loss of those two pregnancies.  I was angry at just about everyone, including my husband.  I know that it wasn’t his fault, it wasn’t my fault, but I was still angry.  I didn’t have the girlfriends that I do now, so I didn’t really talk to anyone.  I had a pregnant co-worker who bitched ALL THE TIME about being pregnant and how she just wanted to drink wine, and I basically didn’t speak to her for months on end because she was having a baby that she didn’t seem to care about, and I was desperate to get and stay pregnant.  Oh, what our minds do to us when we’re sad.  So with some hindsight, this is what I can suggest as someone who has been through it, to anyone who may being going through it or knows someone who is going through it:

1.  Find someone to talk to.  Not your spouse, because really, they are as helpless as you are in the whole situation.  If your doctor recommends someone, go to them.  Or a girlfriend who will listen and not judge.  Because you’re hurting and you need some love.

2.  If you have a friend going through this, just hug them and listen.  Do not say things like “it was meant to be” or “what do you think went wrong” or a whole host of other things in that vein.  Hugs.  That is what your friend needs.  I have two wonderful girlfriends from college who live away from me, and they sent me a beautiful dried flower arrangement to hang on my wall and it reminded me that they love me no matter what. 

3.  Don’t blame yourself.  I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary and I still had two miscarriages.  And with the second one, I had an inkling it might happen again.  My body didn’t feel “right”.  Having all those tests run put me in control of my situation and forced me to stop thinking that I had done something wrong, or that I deserved what was happening to me. 

4.  Cry.  Cry, cry, cry.  If you can’t talk to someone, make sure you let it out.  Because it will eat away at you.  Women are not superheroes, nor should we pretend to be.  We’re human and sometimes we need to cry. 

5.  Have a great OB.  My OB and her staff were wonderful.  She agreed to the tests, although she and I both knew that nothing would come of them.  She called me personally to check on my after my D&Cs.  She wasn’t judgmental or uncaring.  If your OB makes you feel bad, find a new one.  No one should minimize what you’re going through.

It’s been several years since my miscarriages, and I even managed a successful twin pregnancy after Drew’s birth.  There are times when I wonder “what if?”  I wish I had looked beyond myself a bit and gotten some help.  I hope that these suggestions help.  Know that it does eventually get better.  It just takes time.

 

The Continuation of Heather’s Story Friday, July 25, 2008

Filed under: Sick Baby...,Stay-at-Home Dads — Dana @ 10:56 am

If you’ve read Heather‘s posts on Mommy 4-1-1, Bed Rest and PPROM, and don’t read her blog, you may wonder what came next. Here is the continuation of Maddie’s story from her mommy’s perspective. If that doesn’t suck you in to the world of the Spohrs, then this post surely will.

If you’d like to read Maddie’s story from the perspective of her father, Mike, he has a blog as well. His saga is split into 7 posts so I will link to the first one here.

 

26 and 3/4 Weeks Thursday, July 17, 2008

Twenty six and three quarter weeks” said my doctor to the nurses at the hospital the night that Sara was born. That is how pregnant I was.

It had been a very quick and exciting pregnancy. I had just had my IUD taken out after three years and was trying to decide on what form of contraception to use next. The pill made me depressed and the IUD made me bleed all the time and condoms broke. I get pregnant easily so it wasn’t a surprise when I was pregnant again. I had three children at the time; ages 10, 8 and 4. But I was surprised to be growing so quickly and feeling movement at 10 weeks.

Before I went to the doctor I hit the library to see if I could figure out why this was so different. Polyhydramnios? Uterine tumor?

The doctor sent me immediately to get an ultrasound. Back in 1979, things were not as sophisticated as they are now and techs were not as well trained. But it was only a day later the Doc rang me to say,

“You better play the lottery, you are having twins!”

We were thrilled! Our families were thrilled and we started planning how to make our tiny three bedroom house bigger. I looked at twin strollers and picked out names. In those days the sex of the baby wasn’t easily determined so I had to pick 2 girl names, 2 boy names and one each that I liked over the others. I had Colin and Christopher, Sian Marie and Cesara, with Colin and Cesara as the top boy-girl combo.

I wasn’t told to take any special care, as twins are pretty common-place. I didn’t bleed or even feel more tired just got bigger and bigger. One day my mother in law said to me,

“You look like you are having a litter. Are you sure it’s just twins?”

I bought more maternity clothes when I was five months and went to a Halloween party as a pumpkin- the GREAT Pumpkin!

The babies never stopped moving. I had constant bumping and poking. In the middle of the night I could feel tiny elbows? knees? One night I woke up in tremendous pain and I struggled to get out of bed. The right side of my tummy felt paralyzed. I rang the doctor and he told me that it was just my muscles and bones stretching. It never came back and I asked him about it next checkup. His wife, who was his nurse, treated me quite rudely when I asked her.

“You’re having twins! Do you know how many women have twins?”

The kids were pretty excited especially the girls, Jenny and Lissa. Alex, being four was more interested in his Transformers.

On December 9th, 1979, the pain came back. It was excruciating. I called the doctor. He thought it might be muscle strain. Then I went to bathroom where my water broke, it was very bloody. We were at my in-laws having a birthday dinner for me.

We left for the hospital and were immediately whisked to the labor room. By this time I was contracting every ten minutes. The nurse put two heart monitors on me. One nurse, Donna was trying to find the heartbeats and noted,

“There are heartbeats all over you!”

By now it was pretty obvious that I was going to have babies that night. They called the neonatal hospital; Cornell Medical Center at New York Hospital. I was scared, for me, for the babies and my children at home if anything happened to me. It was weird, like slow motion inside of me but all around me things were happening very quickly.

Nurse: “Dona, when did you last eat?”
Me: “About an hour ago. I had roast pork, potatoes and birthday cake.”
Nurse: “Oh, great. Tell me you have a cold.”
Me: “I do.”
Nurse: sigh

My husband stayed by my side, clutching my hand as we listened to the noisy “boom ba boom” heartbeats of our babies.

It was decided that a c-section would be less stressful for the babies and I asked Donna to baptize them for me. She was Jewish but she understood. My husband was Roman Catholic and I am a Methodist so it was for his family I asked.

“Baby A and Baby B okay?” she asked. I was wheeled into the operating room where they told me they would put me under and wake me quickly.

When I woke I was still on the table and a nurse took my head and turned it.

“You had triplets,” she said, “See?”

I didn’t have my glasses on. I saw a blur of nurses and doctors hunched over a table.

Triplets? How did that happen? I was taken back to another hospital room where my pediatrician and obstetrician were waiting with my husband. I can’t remember any pain, I was alert. The doctor said the Team from NY hospital was there and they wouldn’t take the babies if there wasn’t any hope. I would be able to see them before they left. DR. P said that 2 of the babies were in good shape but one was not. Baby A, now Erinn, was lousy. It is a medical term. We named Baby B, Sian Marie and Baby C was Cesara. They put three baby wristbands on my arm. Each one matched the ones on the babies. They were identical girls having been in one amniotic sac.

They were born at 10:04 pm, 10:05 pm and 10:06 pm. It was now 10:45 pm. Dr P came and went and then stood close to my bed to tell us little Erinn (2lbs. 7 oz.) had died.

My thoughts went immediately to Sian Marie and Cesara and I closed my eyes. I saw two tiny girls in pink bonnets walking away from me. My daughters walking in front of me? Away from me?

I couldn’t dwell on it because the next thing that happened was I met my babies as they prepared to take them away. I heard the beeping noise on monitors. First, Sian Marie, tiny girl, black hair and the softest skin I have ever felt. I put my hand into her tiny one.

Her tiny mouth was open and gasping under all the tubes and wires. She was very warm and very pink. Cesara’s hands were waving all around so I touched her little cheek which was also warm and pink. They both weighed 990 grams (2lbs. 3 oz.). Then it was good bye.

The doctors from NY hospital gave us a booklet, phone numbers, they said to call us anytime to talk to the nurses and try to come down ASAP. We lived 60 miles away.

What a night. I was still very alert and I can’t remember if I slept. I talked to my kids the next day. Gramma C had told them they had triplet sisters but they now knew it was twins. I remember thinking, “Well, we have 2. Now what do we say? Are they twins? Are they triplets? How do we explain that?”

I don’t remember how I got through the next day. My husband came to visit and then went down to NY. He came back in the evening to report the girls were in very professional hands. The nurses treated him very kindly and told him to call night or day. I was jealous.

Each day my pediatrician would come in for a report and explain to me what was happening. Cesara and Sian were born on a Sunday and in addition to visiting me and being Mr. Mom, my husband was also ringing the hospital three times each day.

I seemed to recover very quickly. This was my second c-section and I realized the pain was so much less, maybe because my heart was in so much pain. We had 2 daughters to hope for and one to mourn. My three other children were home without me and as a mom; we always come last in caring for ourselves. But I was well cared for. The staff at St Luke’s was awesome.

Tuesday afternoon the NY hospital called my husband and urged him to come down. Sian was having some major issues with breathing and bleeding. He left immediately. Then an hour later they rang me to ask if he was on his way. He arrived there just after their call. This was before cell phones so I had to wait for a call or his return. My mom and best friend came to sit with me. When he got back, he had three pictures for me.

Polaroids of Sian Marie looking very red, blurry, covered with wires and white tape. Here was my daughter. He said he held her hand and talked with her, she looked at him, and he told her we loved her. She was alive when he left her. Then the Hospital called us and told us she had died just afterward. That was my two girls walking away from me.

But as I did with loss of Erinn I transferred all my hopes to Cesara, now Sara because she was too tiny for such an imposing name. She is named after my grandmother Sarah Jane Brooks and my husband’s grandmother Cesera who was called Sara.

Sara was progressing and her father had learned that her Apgar scores when she was born were 3 and then 8. She was a fighter!

We had a funeral to plan and thank goodness our family had some strong ties to the local funeral home. They went to NY to pick up Sian and we buried them in the same vault as their grandmother Cesera. The funeral home dressed them and my pastor and my husbands’ cousin, who was a deacon in the Catholic Church, along with my husband and our fathers buried them on the morning I was released. No charge.

I was so happy to get home and see my children. They helped heal me more than they will ever know. Isn’t it always that way? I knew telling this story would bring me to tears and it has. I will pause here to think about this some more and will continue in part 2 – “Sara Smile”.

 

153 Holes In My Heart Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Filed under: Sick Baby... — Dana @ 8:37 pm

Heather of The Spohrs Are Multiplying wrote the most beautiful, heart-stirring post recently. Check out what she has to say about her baby’s “kissing spots.” Keep the tissues handy.

 

How do you do it all? Monday, July 14, 2008

Filed under: Twins and Multiples — Kristin @ 8:47 pm

I hear that refrain from MANY people.  We are quite a phenomenon in town.  EVERYONE knows who we are~we’re the family with a 2nd grader, a preschooler and 1 1/2 year old twins.  When we go to one of Meg’s sporting events (hockey, softball, soccer or basketball), we usually all attend.  We get the stares from people who don’t know us well, and the inevitable “how do you do it all” question from those who know us a little.  My answer is usually “oh, I manage”.  But really, I don’t do it all.  Not even close.

My days are filled with chasing around toddler twin girls who are trying to figure out what they can, and can’t do.  They climb furniture, empty the diapers out of the diaper bag, try to take the wipes out of the wipe bucket.  They try to circumvent our safety gate system~I have found them at the top of the stairs before because I went into the basement to get bread.  They steal each other’s toys, hit each other and cry.  They also chase each other around the dining room table laughing their heads off.  They empty their cribs of all their blankets and toys and squeal in delight doing so.  Phew.  Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it? 

Now add in a 3 1/2 year old son who wants attention so badly, being the middle child, that he knocks over his sisters, takes their toys, and screams at the top of his lungs.  The same boy who comes crawling into my bed before 6 am every day to get a little quiet snuggle with me and his dad, because his days are filled with 3 sisters and lots of noise.  The boy who wishes desperately that I could watch him play with his cars all day, which I would, but for the above mentioned twins.

And finally the eldest.  No longer the baby, she acts out to get attention because she feels so left out.  She gets to play all the sports but still feels like she is missing out on personal time from us.  I spent a good hour reading to her every night, and each night she begs for more.  I know she is begging for more me time, but by then, I’m exhausted, and she’s exhausted.  She is smart, funny, and beautiful.  Soon she’ll realize that if she just stopped acting like the 3 year old, life would improve dramatically.

So, after dealing with all of that every day, then there’s the diapers, laundry (oh my lord the laundry) that only gets washed, sometimes dried on the same day if I’m lucky, the dishes and just general tidying up.  Forget about time for myself.  So no, I don’t do it all.  I do what my husband calls “stopping the bleeding.”  I deal with the most important crisis first, then work down the line.  I have dirty kitchen floors, I don’t remember the last time I managed to vacuum upstairs, and it shows.  My husband and I folded 4 baskets of laundry the other night; what a great date.  And there’s still more to be done.

I love my children with all my heart.  I wish I could give each one of them 100% of my attention every day, but there is only one of me and four of them.  I am doing my best, but I certainly don’t do it all.

 

Signing With Infants and Toddlers: Navigating the Options Sunday, July 13, 2008

Filed under: Communication,New Mommas — TeachingMom @ 9:31 pm

If you’ve decided to take the plunge and use sign language with your infant or toddler, trying to figure out how to start can be overwhelming. There is more than one program out there, plus books, videos, and DVDs, and finding the one that fits with your family can be daunting.

Before you start looking into the programs, first answer some questions:

1. Why do I want to do this?
This may seem like a silly question, but it really isn’t. There is actually more than one answer to this question.

a. I want my child to be able to communicate his/her needs before talking begins.
b. My child was born with a developmental delay, and I want him/her to have access to more than one form of communication.
c. My child was diagnosed at birth (or later) with a hearing loss.
d. A family member or friend uses sign language to communicate.
e. It sounds like a fun activity to do with my child.

All of these are valid reasons for wanting to learn sign language and teach it to your baby.

The program you choose can vary depending on how you answered the above question.

Before I give you a brief overview of what’s available, let me throw this out to you:

**Signs from a book alone ain’t gonna cut it. Why? Because sign language is a visual, three dimensional language. The meaning of a sign can change in ways a person new to signing may not realize. Pictures in a signing book may not show those differences clearly. I’m not saying this to scare people off from learning signs, just making you aware that book learning alone won’t work in this situation. If you are trying to learn only from a 2 dimensional picture in a book, you’re running the risk of teaching yourself the wrong way. Take a class if they’re offered in your area, or use a DVD/video if no classes are nearby.**

So with that out of the way, what’s out there to choose from? Here are three well-known programs:

Baby Signs: This program was developed by Drs. Acredolo and Goodwyn, who are professionals in the fields of child development and child language development. Their book, Baby Signs: How to Talk to Your Baby Before Your Baby can Talk, was published in 1996. While some of their signs are taken from American Sign Language, not all are ASL. Their decision to modify or “create” signs for babies to use came from their fear that “parents of hearing babies would find ASL too overwhelming to learn in the short time their baby would use signs as a bridge to speech. We also knew that young babies, with their limited motor coordination, are not able to master many of the complex “hand shapes” of ASL.” (https://www.babysigns.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/institute.faq/faq.cfm)

More information about this program and the research behind it can be found at http://www.babysigns.com.

Signing Smart: Michelle Anthony. M.A., PhD., and Reyna Lindert, PhD. developed this program while working on their doctorates in Developmental Psychology. They were looking for a program to use with their own children, and weren’t finding anything that fit their needs. Their program is ASL based, as both are certified ASL users. They’ve also both done research in the Sign Language Acquisition Lab and the Child Language Lab at the Institute for Human Development at UC Berkeley (http://www.signingsmart.com/ourpeople.html). Information on their programs can be found at http://www.signingsmart.com/index.html.

Sign2Me: This program first became available in 1999. Dr. Joseph Garcia developed the program after extensive research beginning in 1987. Dr. Garcia’s program utilizes American Sign Language, the language used by culturally Deaf people in the United States and English speaking parts of Canada. As for modifying ASL signs for young ones, Dr. Garcia noticed that infants or toddlers that could not make the signs exactly as they were presented would come up with their own modifications that fit with their abilities. Parents just need to continue to model the sign correctly until the child is developmentally able to produce it that way. Like parents already do when they talk to their child. You might say “dog,” but Junior might not be capable of using his muscles in the same way, so he says, “gog.” Do you rename the family pet? No, you just keep using the word “dog” until Junior says it too.

You can check out Dr. Garcia’s information and the Sign2Me program at www.sign2me.com.

These programs are the three that most people mention when asked about signing with little ones. I listed them here because they are the ones I am most familiar with as well. As I said before, there are also numerous books, flash cards, videos and DVDs that can get you started as well.

If you’re really interested in signing with your baby or toddler, knowing your goal is half the battle of choosing which programs or resources to use.

If you think that you’ll only use signs until your child begins to talk, and only with a specific group of people (family, friends and caregivers) then Baby Signs may be the fit for you.

If you want your child to:
1. Be exposed to a second language that he or she may be using beyond toddler-hood,and
2. Later be able to take as a second language, or
3. Use later to communicate with classmates who use ASL…

…Then an ASL based program might be the better fit for you.

It’s really a matter of personal preference. Know your goals for using sign, research the different programs, and you will make a decision that fits your family.

And happy signing!

 

The Superpowers of Motherhood Friday, July 11, 2008

Filed under: Considering Motherhood,New Mommas,Pre-Conception — Dana @ 2:51 pm

Check out Casey’s post on The Superpowers of Motherhood at her blog Moosh in Indy!