Friday, March 30, 2012

Identical Twin Girls - the story of Avery & Alexis

(Welcome guests of Kelly's Korner)

Our twin "journey" or more appropriately "adventure" began when our oldest, Kaleigh, was 2. We started talking about having another one after she was about 27 months. After about 4 months of trying, a test confirmed that I was preggo. And at that point I was already feeling symptoms. Nausea, soreness, constipation. What?! I couldn't have been more than 2 weeks along. I made the comment to my husband that "something just felt wrong". Twins never crossed my mind! Within another week or two I'd tried every anti-nausea drug on the market, along with every home remedy. I ended up in the ER not able to eat, sleep, or hold anything down. I will never forget that first ultrasound as I laid in a semi-comatose state, my husband holding my hand. The tech got on the phone with someone who could see what she was seeing.

"Is that? ... Uh, huh... Yeah, I thought so".

Back to us she pointed to the monitor and said "Here's your baby.... And here's your other baby". I literally gasped and sat straight up, now fully awake. Nathan just started laughing. Then crying, then laughing again.

After spending a day or two in the hospital getting fluids and eating some, I went home. Somehow through the grace of God I pushed through that trying first trimester. Also zofran, herbal teas. We had fun sharing our news with friends and family. I was told at some point that the babies were in the same sac, which is pretty rare and dangerous. I tried not to worry too much over that and just prayed about it. My mom especially was praying also. At about 12 weeks or so, we found out that there was a membrane there, it just couldn't be seen early on.

At 19 weeks I went in for my gender ultrasound. I had gotten pretty big by then and was feeling a lot of pressure down below. "Just twins and your 2nd pregnancy is what friends and my doctor said". They did the ultrasound and said "Two girls!" We were fine either way, just waiting for that "they both look great and healthy". That didn't come...

The doctor came in and basically told us we needed to see a high risk specialist right away. I was bawling and wanting to know what was wrong. He didn't say much to help. We couldn't get an appointment that day so we made one for the next day. I don't think I slept much that night. The next day we found out the diagnosis. Twin to twin transfusion. I didn't get a stage, but I think it was pretty advanced. He told us we needed to do something or we would likely lose them both. The best & only real option was laser surgery. We didn't think about it long, we had them call down to Houston and make the appointment. It was for the next day. We went home, packed our bags and started driving after alerting our prayer warriors.

I should add here two significant things - first, this ultrasound was at 19 weeks, not the standard 20. Another week might well have been too late. Also, this laser surgery is only done at 4 places in the U.S. One happened to be within driving distance for us... God was definitely watching over us!
When we got to this huge medical complex and found the doctors, they walked us through the procedure and explained the risks and possible outcomes. It was all scary but didn't change anything for us. We also found out a further complication. My cervix was much more open than it should have been, basically I was close to going into labor. They put in a cerclage for that and also prescribed bedrest.

The surgery went well. Those people are miracle workers and I thank God for them and the way they are using their gifts to save lives. But at this point was the most difficult time of my life so far. I was on bedrest for 13 weeks. My friends and family stepped in and came to help take care of me and Kaleigh while Nathan was working. I didn't realize it at the time but I was major depressed and constantly anxious about the babies. I went in for bi-weekly ultrasounds and got to be reassured that the babies were growing properly now. At 33 weeks I went in and Avery hadn't grown since the visit before so my doctor decided it was time for them to be born. I had a c-section. They were 3 lbs, 10 oz and 3 lbs, 13 oz. They were very healthly though, and spent 17 days in NICU putting on a little weight. We brought them home around 5 lbs!

Those first few months were a blur. We survived is about it. Constant feedings, changing, doctor visits, etc. But overall they did very well. They had some developmental delay and got therapy for a little while but are now completely caught up. For some reason potty training was awful. They were well into their 3rd year before that was done. I've heard this from other parents of multiples.

Now my thoughts on the ups & downs of twins. I'll start with the negative first.

The difficult part of having young twins (from my point of view)
  1. the pregnancy - filled with potential complications, a twin pregnancy can be very stressful, although some thrive and do perfectly
  2. the first year - lets face it, the first year with one baby is hard, two is just rough. And more than that - downright scary! less sleep, more laundry, more dishes, just more work...
  3. extra expense - twice as many diapers, aahh! Or you can do like me and have another baby 16 months later = 3 in diapers! Plus two cribs, more clothes, etc. I don't think you need two of everything, they can rotate between swings, bouncers, etc. And think used!
  4.  fighting in the older years - a constant companion is also a constant rival
  5. it's hard to go places - all the stuff times two, then two babies, more if you have other kids. sometimes it's just not worth it. For the past three years I've done most of my grocery shopping at 9:00 at night, even though I'm a stay-at-home mom.  
The benefits of twins:

  1. two at once! - pregnancy is hard, if you can get two out of the way at one time, all the better...
  2. they're doing the same thing at the same time - it's not always twice as much work to do the same thing twice. at times it's a lot easier than having two kids different ages, keep them on the same schedule and you will help yourself out a lot
  3. the like the same things - same toys, same tv shows, etc.
  4. they play together and entertain each other - it's a special bond that twins share
  5. lots of attention - it can be annoying if you're in a hurry, but mostly it's fun to see the reactions. people are just fascinated by twins. And they automatically think you're an awesome parent. I'm not sure I understand this...
  6. constant playmates - now that they are 3, my twins play together so wonderfully. There is much less fighting than even a year ago. they love to be together even just looking at books. It's fun to watch their unique personalities develop as they grow
  7.  Kids are a blessing so twins are double the blessing. Twice as much love! 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ski Trip Highlights

We got back today from our ski trip - it was sooo much fun! Nathan and I talked on the way home about how 5 years ago we went on a ski trip with these same friends and had such a great time then too. It was kinda in the back of our minds that maybe that was a once in a lifetime never to be repeated experience but this was just as good, better in some ways. It was slightly different taking the oldest kids (all 6 year olds) but really good.  Kaleigh was so wonderful to have along. She was sweet and enjoyed being with her friends and I enjoyed my time with her too.

 As I said, Highlights (details to come later):
  • Skiing together - we split up some but for the most part skiied together. I was able to keep up and even did a little racing and some "off roading". I could be better at skiing but I normally do NOT like feeling out of control. When I got that way I just slowed myself down.
  • the kids skiing - they all went in ski school for 3 days and it was so awesome to see their progress at the end of each day! I was really amazed at how well they did. On the third day we all went down a long blue together. When it was over Kaleigh said "that was fun but a little boring!) She is not my child, ha! It was just so neat to see her and have this experience with her, and know that she will remember this her whole life.
  • The weather - this goes along with skiing but the weather was perfect! We were hot the first two days and just a little cold the third. It was windy that day.
  • the Evenings - we came back to the very spacious condos and cooked meals & ate together then played, laughed until bedtime (which was VERY early for some, ha!) Oh, and soaked in our private hot tub, could not forget that. I think the hot tub was responsible for lack on any soreness for me. As I said earlier, I'm not at all in shape and I skiied pretty hard. 
  • Days off - we worked it so we had two days off. The first we shopped and went to these amazing hot spring pools. They ranged in temp from the 89 degree swimming pool to the 111 degree hot tub Ben stayed in and our fave - the hot waterfall tub! I really felt luxurious. 
Our own little tropical paradise in the snowy mountains!
  Very few - I think almost all our cheeks were crazy chapped, no matter how much lotion we put on! No big deal, though. The saddest thing was missing our friend Nitzia. She had already decided not to come but sadly her mom passed away on Thursday. I missed her liveliness and her sweet spirit. And my heart aches for what she is going through right now.

So that's our trip in condensed form. I'm going to try my best to come back and break it down, just so I'll remember. Even the drive was fun, with the great company.  I'm glad to be back and see the littles, and so thankful for our parents keeping them for so long. I think they enjoyed it, on both parts.