Being a Mother Can Be a Mother

Yes, I’ve said it. And I mighty get some backlash. But being a mother can truly be a mother.  You have the responsibility of keeping these precious little people alive while at the same time you need to teach them to be good humans! Its hard. Really hard. And it can outright break you.  I love my babies with all I have but I would by lying if I never thought “WTF is going on?!”

Diaper Changes

If there is one thing I hate most about mothering, it would be the never-ending diaper changes. Its non-stop. ALL DAY. I swear my kids play jokes on me and wait for a fresh diaper in order to take a poo. There is nothing like changing a diaper and two minutes later doing it all over again. Not to mention trying to put a diaper back on while your child is wiggle worming all over the place and you are just trying to make sure they don’t fall off the changing table. Your fingers are constantly covered in diaper rash cream and if you’re one of the unlucky ones you have the joy of sticking your finger right in the poo!

Sleep Deprivation

Of course they warn you about the lack of sleep you will get but no one actually explains what it means to be sleep deprived.  It is almost impossible to function and yet you still have to take care of the kids. I found myself walking into things and lacking focus. Dosing off at lunch and dinner became common and I would often wake up not knowing where I was or what year it was. Everyone tells you to sleep when the kids sleep but when you finally have the opportunity to go to sleep, you can’t unwind enough to actually fall asleep! It is a vicious cycle.

Feeding Time

Feeding is the worst. There is literally food everywhere.  Whether they are throwing it off the side or spitting it out of their mouth at me. Only the dog gets excited for feeding time because she knows Hailey will throw some food over the side for her. The bibs are useless. My kids always manage to find a way to get their food on everything but the bib. Or the best–when the food is on the bib and they pick it up and smash it in their face and hair. Plus, there is the constant gagging and choking. I’m on high alert at all times.

And another diaper change!

Playtime

Now I have twins, so my experience with playtime might be a little different.  But, there are toys EVERYWHERE. I attempt to clean but as soon as I do they have suddenly found an interest in the toys they haven’t touched in weeks! I’m constantly stepping on little blocks or dinosaurs and I might have rolled my ankle once or twice. It’s a constant battle of who wants what toy, who is pulling hair, and who is biting. And God forbid they don’t share and you hear the blood curdling scream. The tantrums are ever increasing and it is typical to throw your self to the floor or fling your head back in a fit of rage.

Oh yeah, and another diaper change.

But all of the tough, smelly, pukey, overwhelming, aggravating, stress-inducing moments are worth it!

Being a mother is by far the most rewarding role I have ever played. As my children move out of each diaper size it is a reminder of how much they have grown and how far they have come. In the middle of those sleepless nights, there are often quiet memorable moments of the little human you created and the bond you have established.  While it may be exhausting, I try to remind myself that I shouldn’t take these moments for granted. Feeding time offers a ton of laughs as I get to see the reactions to new foods and praise the progress as the move from purees to large pieces.  The most rewarding of all is playtime. There are moments when I can truly see the love between them and the bond they share. There is nothing more fulfilling than witnessing your children making each other smile and laugh. It is in those moments that I can sit back, sip my coffee, and tell myself I’m doing everything just right.

So yes, being a mother can be a mother. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

xoxo,


By submitting this form, you are granting: TIny and Mighty Blog, permission to email you. You may unsubscribe via the link found at the bottom of every email. (See our Email Privacy Policy (http://constantcontact.com/legal/privacy-statement) for details.) Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.
Continue Reading

Sunday Funday Favorites: My Everyday Make-Up

Sunday Funday is back! In our household, Sunday consisted of football. All. Day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good football game.  But it turned into my husband in the garage all day and myself with the twins.  Not my idea of family fun. So I figured now that I have a little more time on my hands I could turn Sunday Funday into sharing some favorite things in my life.

For this week, I want to share my favorite everyday make-up.  Now, by no means am I a cosmetologist.  I actually didn’t really get into make-up until I graduated college.  But after many youtube tutorials and an upfront investment in quality make-up, I have really gained confidence in my make-up skills.

My Daily Routine

My daily routine is essentially the make-up I wear to work.  I usually begin with moisturizer (which I have yet to find one that I truly love–so I will gladly take suggestions in the comments please).  I follow with a primer, foundation and powder.  I rarely use concealer, I couldn’t even tell you why. Next, I apply contouring powder on my cheeks, hairline, jawline and nose.  I complete the contour with highlight on my nose, forehead, upper lip and cheeks, and beneath my eyes. Once I apply blush, I move onto my eyes.  I prime my entire lid and then apply a variation of different colored eyeshadows. I move onto eye brows and then put on my mascara.  If I am not running late, I typically finish with a translucent powder.

Check out my everyday favorites below!

1. Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, $23.00

I LOVE this mascara.  If there is one piece of make-up I can’t go without, it would be this.  I have tried many different types of mascara because my eyelashes are very thin and this is by far the BEST mascara I have ever used. Yes, it is quite expensive  but the difference it makes is so worth it.  It is so volumizing I often get mistaken for wearing fake eyelashes. The hour-glass shape of the brush allows me to apply to those hard to reach areas.  My eyelashes become dramatically darker and longer once this mascara is applied. It sometimes truly lives up to its name!

2.  Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz, $21.00

This eyebrow pencil is like non I have ever seen. I will be honest–I was very hesitant to use this pencil.  I was always afraid to buy a brow pencil because I didn’t want it to look like I outlined and colored in my eyebrows.  So when I first went into Sephora and was directed toward the Anastasia section, I originally purchased the Brow Powder Duo. I was totally ok with how my brows looked with this powder, it was natural and I could shape my brows with my brush.

But I went back to Sephora and the cosmetologist who worked there convinced me that it was amazing and did not go on like an eye liner–and she was so right! This stuff is like magic. I still am not quite sure how it happens but it applies seamlessly on your eyebrows and blends so nice into your skin.  I use the color Taupe and you can hardly tell I use it.  It is a bit pricey but I will look no further. Hands down the best brow pencil!

If you are looking for a more budget friendly pencil, ColourPop Brow Boss is a close second.  I received it in my Ipsy bag and it definitely held its own to Anastasia. I used it in between purchases of my Brow Wiz.

3.  Urban Decay Naked2 Basics, $29.00

There are no words for this palette. It is BEAUTIFUL. I like very subtle, neutral eye shadow and the pigment in this palette is unbelievable. It is so reach in color that it requires such a a small amount of application.  I bought mine two years ago and I can still get many more months out of it. There are 5 mattes and one shimmer and for my everyday look, I try not to go too bold with shimmers. I love the neutral colors and the fact that the darkest color is not true black. The colors blend so well together and really complement each other. This is definitely my “go-to” palette and the packaging is so slim you can bring it any where.  It is a definite MUST in any make-up collection.

4. MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Powder, $34.50

This powder was one of the first quality make-up purchases I made.  It is THE BOMB! The application of this powder is so smooth and doesn’t look “cakey” on my face.  It is extremely light weight but has full coverage.  I use Medium in the winter and Medium Plus in the winter and Medium Deep in the summer.

5.  Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, $22.00

I absolutely love this primer.  All throughout high school and college, I made the rookie mistake of not using eyeshadow primer. The color on my eyes was flat and never lasted long.  Once I started using the Primer Potion, the color of my eyeshadow was richer and it lasted all day! My eyeshadow no longer gathered in the crease of my eye.  This primer allows my eyeshadow to go on with ease and makes it super easy to blend.  Plus, it has a beautiful tint and shimmer so if you are in a time crunch, just put it on your lid and use it as a shadow.  It instantly brightens your eyes! There are several beautiful colors to choose from but I stick to Original

6.  Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer, $36.00

Talk about miracle in a bottle! This stuff is unbelievable. I grew up with acne and have large pores–therefore, my skin is not the greatest.  But this holy grail of a product smooths out all of my skin for a FLAWLESS finish

 

7.  Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit, $40.00

I must admit, my weakness in terms of skill is contouring.  I am extremely nervous to apply the cream contour to my face as I feel it will look like too much.  So when I first started thinking about contouring, I thought contouring powder would be great fora beginner trying to learn the skill.  I bought this palette and I must say it has grown on me and where my face make-up without it. It has many different colors to choose from, I tend to just blend them all together, but they are all super bendable. It definitely gives me a little bronze glow and make really shapes my face.

8.  Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Foundation, $39.00

I recently switched from MAC Studio Sculpt to this foundation and I must say I’m impressed.  It provides full coverage while at the same time feels lightweight. It seriously feels like I am not wearing any make-up. I apply it with a beauty blender and it has such a smooth finish. It also contains SPF 15 and is vegan. There are a ton of shades to choose from and match your skin very nicely.

So there you have it! My “go to” make-up routine. Would love to hear any new suggestions in the comments or come back and let me know if you tried some of my favorites and fell in love too!

xoxo,

 

Continue Reading

Happy Valentine’s Day Photo Shoot from Tiny and Mighty!

Love is Love is Love is Love!! Happy Valentine’s Day from tiny and MIGHTY! I could not wait to do this post for Valentine’s Day because I wanted to share the AMAZING photos of the twins by Nicole Destefano Photography.  Nicole is a photographer based here on Long Island and her work is incredible!

When the twins were born, I didn’t have the opportunity to do a newborn photoshoot.  Although I fully intended to do a cake smash shoot for their first birthday, life got the best of me and I didn’t have time plan it out. So when Nicole posted about her Valentine’s mini-session, I jumped at the opportunity–plus her set up was super adorable!

The Photoshoot

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t spend hours searching for the perfect outfits.  Between work and taking care of the babies, this mama just didn’t have time. Instead, I just went in their closet and chose the best outfits for the theme. Nicole was AWESOME the day of the shoot.  She worked so well with the babies and tried any way to get them to smile.  She was so patient and understanding as I tried to position each kid while also trying to get them to focus at the same time.

Hailey was a tough one to crack–she would not smile for anything.  I was a little discouraged that we were not going to get the “perfect” picture but Nicole reassured me we got some great shots.  So after about an hour of jumping up and down, singing songs, and playing peek-a-boo we ended out first photo shoot and I was exhausted!

The BEAUTIFUL Pictures!

“THE CHILD WHO KNOWS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE HAS THE GREATEST GIFT THE WORLD CAN OFFER”

 

 

 

If you live on Long Island and are looking for a photograph, I definitely recommend Nicole!

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! And if you are not celebrating with a significant other try to find another way to spread some love today!

xoxo,

Continue Reading

Never Miss a Post–Subscribe Today!


By submitting this form, you are granting: TIny and Mighty Blog, permission to email you. You may unsubscribe via the link found at the bottom of every email. (See our Email Privacy Policy (http://constantcontact.com/legal/privacy-statement) for details.) Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.
Continue Reading

One Day it all “Clicked” #feedingtubeawarenessweek

In closing out #feedingtubeawarenessweek, I am happy to say that Tommy has not used his g-tube since Thanksgiving. THANKSGIVING!!! I can’t even being to express the amount of pride I have in my son. One day it all “clicked” for Tommy and since then he has taken off!

While I was extremely discouraged when Tommy got his g-tube, many offered hope and reassurance that his g-tube would be temporary. We were told that we were the type of parents who wouldn’t let this become a permanent placement.  I’m not entirely sure as to what that meant–but it provided a little bit of hope for our medically complex child.  We have a feeding therapist at the house once a week. The first day we met, she explained to us that one day taking the bottle would just “click” for Tommy. At this point in time, he was outright refusing the nipple and I swore up and down he would be on his first date dragging his pump behind him.  But we knew never to give up on him.

Therapies

We started by really working with his pacifier and getting him to strengthen his sucking skills.  Prior to every feed, I would take his pacifier, dip it in formula and get him to suck on it.  This would often last for about ten minutes at which point I would try to swap out the pacifier for the nipple. Often, he would recognize the switch and refuse to take the bottle resulting in him being “hooked” up to his pump. This occurrence happened multiple times throughout the day just hoping that one time it would “click.” But I had to keep reminding myself that Tommy has relied on a feeding tube his whole life in order to satisfy his hunger. He didn’t know anything different.

Eventually, I just wanted him to start sucking on the bottle again, even if that meant not even getting any milk. So I added rice to his formula and lowered the level of the nipple so he wasn’t sucking in air.  I don’t know why, but over time–I don’t even remember how long because it was such a blur!–he eventually started sucking on the bottle again.

His suck swallow breathe reflex was very weak. I was lucky if I even got 5mls out of him. It was a celebration if he took 10mls! We knew it would be baby steps and we didn’t want to rush him.

In the mean time, we began to introduce purees to Hailey. But I was torn between introducing purees to Tommy. My doctor and therapist were telling me he was not ready. But my intuition was telling me: how do we know? In my eyes, eating puree off a spoon required less effort and different skills than sucking on a bottle. I wanted to treat him the same as Hailey in this instance. So against the advice of my doctor and unknowingly to our feeding therapist, I slowly started introducing Tommy to purees. Our feeding therapist was on maternity leave and we literally went 2 and a half months without one. So in my eyes I became the therapist and felt I knew what Tommy could best handle.

We fed Tommy the same way as Hailey. He struggled at first but eventually got the hang of it.  Overtime, with eventually the assistance of our feeding therapist, we began introducing other foods to Tommy and he finally started to enjoy eating.

In terms of taking the bottle, I was instructed by the doctors to feed him every three hours.  The issue with this is he often wasn’t hungry at the times I needed to feed him. So lack of hunger contributed to him refusing the bottle.  I started to wait until he demanded the bottle and started to notice a difference.  Now that he was also gaining some extra calories with purees, I felt comfortable enough to push off some of his feeds. Overtime, he started to take more and more of the bottle–but could never complete one.

The Day it “Clicked”

I’ll never forget the day that he finally took a whole bottle.  It was a football Sunday.  My husband had his co-workers over to watch the game. I sat in my back room and did the normal routine–give him the bottle; pump whatever he doesn’t take.  Except he took it all! I was so excited I ran into the garage to share the good news.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up but I knew we were turning a page.

He was starting to take more and more full bottles through out the day and we started to use the pump less and less.  Tommy ate three meals and day and about half of his bottle feeds were through the pump.

Eventually, the only time I would pump him was once in the middle of the night to make sure he reached the necessary ounces for the day.  One night I decided to wait on him to wake up for the bottle. He did. And he took the whole bottle. It was the first day in his entire life that he did not get the pump.

Preparing for Life without a G-tube.

If you asked me exactly how this happened I wouldn’t have an answer. It is literally a blur and sometimes I forget what our life was like when Tommy was 100% reliant on the g-tube.  But Tommy has never been better. He has done a complete 180 in his development. He is crawling all over the place, standing on his own and walking with his walker.  I am so damn proud of my son and how far he has come.

It has been a challenging experience and we are hoping his tube will be out by the summer.  Eventually, this chapter in our lives will be put behind us and become a distant memory.  In the meantime, I forever grateful for this medical device that has kept him alive–even though I have had a strong hatred for it!

xoxo,

**Disclaimer: I am in no way a medical professional and do not recommend following the actions to which I have taken for my son. Each child is different and Tommy did not have any underlying medical conditions that prevented him from taking in food orally at the time.**

Continue Reading

My Daughter Had an NG-Tube #feedingtubeawarenessweek

My daughter does not have a g-tube.  But that does not mean that a feeding tube was not important in keeping her alive.  When Hailey was born, she weighed 1lb 11oz. Like many micropreemies, she was not able to intake her nutrition orally.  At first, she received an IV of TPN, or Total Parenteral Nutrition.  Essentially, all her required daily nutrients were provided to her via IV. Her doctors equated it to “gatorade” for babies.  After about a week, Hailey was introduced to my breastmilk but did not haveher suck, swallow, breathe reflex.  So she received an NG-tube.

What is an NG-tube?

An NG-tube is a nasogastric tube.  It went through her nostril and into her stomach. We had a love/hate relationship with the NG-tube.  While I loved the fact that it provided my daughter (and son) with the nutrition they needed to thrive in their delicate state, it was SUPER annoying.

Hailey was constantly pulling her tube, which I don’t blame her. At one point, she had an NG-tube in one nostril, and nasal cannulas in both. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been for her to even attempt the breath with all of the medical devices shoved up there! Not to mention the fact that she has a very small nose just like her mama.  The nurses were constantly mentioning how tiny it was!

It was so difficult to watch the nurses place it up her nose.  Sometimes, it didn’t even make into the stomach.  At feeding time, the nurses would often check the placement of the tube to make sure it was in the correct spot.  On the NG-tube, there were numbers that were used to “measure” the distance from the nostril to the stomach.  Some nurses would determine the placement based on the number that was shown while others would use a syringe and insert fluid and listen to the stomach to verify it was reaching. If an NG-tube is placed incorrectly, it can lead to aspiration which can create many problems that tiny babies don’t need.

Hailey eventually learned how to take the bottle. At one point, we felt it wasn’t necessary to keep the NG-tube.  She continued to take the bottle, however, the neonatologist didn’t think she was growing as quickly as she needed to.  We stopped bottle feeding her every feed because she was burning too much energy. We alternated between a bottle feed and an NG feed.  Overtime, she eventually gained the necessary weight to come home, a whole 4lbs 4oz!

After 72 days, Hailey was able to come home for the first time . This was not possible without the NG-tube!

To find more about feeding tube awareness please visit http://www.feedingtubeawareness.org

xoxo,

Continue Reading

Life at Home with a Tubie #feedingtubeawarenessweek

As part of Feeding Tube Awareness Week, I want to continue the discussion of Tommy’s g-tube by focusing on how it has impacted our life at home.

Our First Night Home

I’m not going to lie, while I was elated to have my family home together for the first time, I was absolutely terrified of working Tommy’s pump.  We fortunately had a nurse meet us at the house once we got home.  She instructed us on how to set up his pole, turn on his pump, prime the bag, attach his extension tube, unclamp his tube and start the feeding.  We needed to figure out pump rates and pump volumes–which changed depending on if he took any by bottle.  We “hooked him up” and “unhooked him” when he was finished. It didn’t see so bad, until we had to repeat the process. And repeat. Every. Three. Hours.

The first couple of feeds went off without a hitch. When it was time for his early morning feed, my sleep depravation got the best of me.  Once Tommy was finished with his feed, I forgot to clamp his extension tube before I “unhooked” him.  As a result, undigested stomach contents came spewing out all over myself, Tommy, and the rock n play.  I was so upset I began hysterically crying. I remember thinking to myself that I was not capable of doing this.  But I knew his health and nutrition depended on it so I had to shake it off and try again!

Daily Struggles

Overtime, the routine of “hooking” Tommy up became easier and easier. It became our normal. Tommy was exclusively fed by the g-tube.  We would attempt to bottle feed him every feeding with hopes of just one time where he would accept it. However, his vomiting became so severe that he was literally puking up every feed.

I dreaded feeding time.  I would place him in the rock n play, “hook him up,” sit back, and wait for the look to cross his face that signaled “Mom, I’m going to puke.”  My laundry consisted of blankets and onesies. There were many days I cried, screamed, and just felt defeated.

My poor baby boy was not getting the nutrition he needed. I felt so helpless for him. We tried everything:

  • Switched formula from Nutramigen to Neocate
  • Added rice to his formula
  • Increased calories to decrease volume
  • Changed his pump rate to feed him over an hour
  • Elevated him for the entire hour feed PLUS an extra half hour after he was fed
  • Increased his medication (Prilosec)

Doctors appointments were disheartening. Tommy was gaining weight, but not at the rate that they wanted. I felt like we hit a brick wall.  It got to a point where his GI doctor basically said we need to wait it out until his lower sphincter was strong enough to keep the food down. We decided it was best to hold off trying to bottle feed him as adequate nutrition became our main concern.

Outings

It was really difficult to leave the house.  Whenever we did leave, we not only had to prepare a diaper bag for two babies, but we also had to make sure we had Tommy’s pump and extra supplies. I tried to simplify leaving the house by packaging a little g-tube care kit for my diaper bag that contained extra supplies for his tube just in case of an emergency.

If we were going to see family, we often brought the rock n play with us in order to keep consistency in how he was fed. If I happened to be in a store when it was feeding time, I placed the pump in the bottom of the stroller and hung his bag on the side.  We basically McGyvered the set-up of his feedings using everything from velcro strips to heavy objects.

It took some time for me to feel comfortable about feeding in public.  I did not want people to look at my son as being “ill.” I was not ready for the stares nor the questions.  But I began approaching his g-tube like I approached my infertility: the more open about it I was, the more accepting I was of it.

Making Lemonade from Lemons

At the end of the day, Tommy’s g-tube was not an ideal situation, but it was our situation and over time we completely embraced it.  I remember the promise I made to Tommy the day I found out about his hydrocephalus.  I promised that no matter what the future held in store for us that I would provide him and Hailey with the best possible life. No medical condition, present or future, would prevent us from exploring and engaging in the world. I knew it would be hard for me and my husband. We would need to carry extra supplies, devote time to “hooking” Tommy up, and set up a feeding station where ever we went.

But it was worth it.

The g-tube allowed for my son to experience the beach for the first time.

The g-tube allowed for my son to take his first boat ride with family.

The g-tube allowed for my son to travel to Philadelphia to meet new friends.

The g-tube allowed for my son to observe different fish and sea creatures at the Long Island Aquarium.

The g-tube allowed for my son to go pumpkin picking in the farms on the eastern end of Long Island.

The g-tube allowed for my son to gain the necessary nutrition he needs to survive.

And that is by far the sweetest lemonade.

To find more about feeding tube awareness please visit http://www.feedingtubeawareness.org

xoxo,

Continue Reading

My Son has a G-Tube. #feedingtubeawarenessweek

This week is feeding tube awareness week and considering my MIGHTY Tommy has a g-tube, I figured today would be a great week to share his story.

What is a G-Tube?

There are many different types of feeding tubes.  A g-tube, or gastrostomy tube, is inserted through the abdomen directly into the stomach.  It is literally a life-saving device that allows babies, children, and adults the nutrition they need if they are unable to do so orally.

When Hailey and Tommy were born, they both required an ng-tube that ran up their nostril and into their stomach.  Ng-tubes are very common in preemies as they are too small to receive their proper nutrition orally.

As tiny Hailey got bigger, she strengthened her ability to suck, swallow, and breathe.  It was extremely helpful that she was not on any respiratory support or oxygen. In a short time, she was sucking down the bottle no problem and was completely off a feeding tube!

Our Struggles with the Bottle

Tommy struggled to get off his respiratory ventilator. His little lungs just couldn’t handle breathing on their own. At this point, Tommy was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia. As a result, he was constantly having air pushed through his nose and into his lungs.  This made it extremely difficult to practice bottle feeding him.  So not only did he have an ng-tube going down his throat, he also had air being forced down there as well. Could you imagine trying to learn how to take a bottle?!

However, we didn’t want to give up.  We eventually started introducing the bottle. It was an extremely difficult process. Due to his GERD, he would literally projectile vomit across the room. The continuous vomiting and his difficulty breathing led to an aversion of the bottle.

To be honest, the whole process became a blur.  At this point, Hailey was home which prevented me from being in the NICU during the day. My husband was back to work and so during the day Tommy learned from his hardworking nurses until either myself or my husband would get there.

After almost two months of trying to get him to take a bottle, our doctor came in and said something I refused to accept:

“We should start talking about a g-tube”

In my mind, I knew this is where we were going to end up. But I was in denial. I felt angry, upset, guilty, let down. Not my son! We were still not entirely clear as to why he was not taking the bottle. We tried many different things: changing nipple flow, adding oxygen, taking away oxygen, adding rice, increasing meds, even a specific routine using a rocking chair. But to no avail.

After numerous discussions with my husband, we felt the best decision to get our son home where he could thrive was to have the g-tube inserted.

The G-Tube Surgery

Tommy went in for his surgery on St. Patricks day, 2017. We had been briefed on how his MIC-KEY g-tube would be surgically inserted. We knew he would be pain. But I was not expecting the horrible recovery.

I figured a g-tube surgery was nothing in comparison to his two brain surgeries. However, he was in extreme agony following his g-tube surgery.

I sat for hours next to his crib holding his hand and patting his chest as this was the only way to keep him calm.  The second I stopped, he would cry out in excruciating pain. It was extremely difficult to watch. I remember staring at his g-tube trying to wrap my head around how are lives would be so different than we imagined.

Over the next 24 hours, we slowly started to introduce formula through his g-tube.  I became familiar with his new pump-the Kangaroo Joey-and the steps I needed to follow in order to continue his feedings at home.

To say I was nervous is an understatement.  For months, I watched the nurses come in every 3 hours and hook him up to his pump. Now the responsibility was on me. What if I screwed up in some way? His entire health depended on me.  I continued to practice at the hospital with the assistance of the NICU nurses until I was comfortable to do it by myself.

An Unexpected Twist

After 4 days, Tommy was still in excruciating pain.  I will never forget the day I entered the NICU to find my son screaming and surrounded by nurses and doctors.  I was briefed on the horrific morning he had been having and they were in process of figuring out what was wrong.

At this point, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The doctors and nurses had convinced me the g-tube was the way to go. That everything would be easier. Tommy would grow. We would have our family back together at our home. Instead, we were now faced with even more struggles.

The doctors did an x-ray of his g-tube to make sure it was still properly placed. Everything seemed to be functioning normal.  However, because of the keen eye of our nurse practitioner, it was discovered that Tommy had a double inguinal hernia and his VP shunt tubing from his hydrocephalus went through the hernia and into his scrotum. Yikes! He ended up needing another surgery to repair the hernias and remove the shunt tubing. His hernia surgery was not as invasive as the g-tube surgery and his recovery was much smoother.

After a couple days of recovery, we were finally out of the NICU and ready to start our new journey at home!

To find more about feeding tube awareness please visit http://www.feedingtubeawareness.org

xoxo,

Continue Reading

The Twins “Carnival Themed” First Birthday

The twins turned one on November 21, 2016.  I have started this post so many times I lost count.  But each time I began, either Tommy needed a bottle, Hailey needed a diaper change, or I needed toothpicks to keep my eyes open. This whole working full time and taking care of twins is really exhausting.

But yesterday was January 27th.  It was supposed to be their actual first birthday. So it got me thinking about how much time has passed since we celebrated.  So I knew I needed some time to myself to focus (and a strong cup of coffee) and share their birthday party!

Considering I have boy/girl twins, I needed a theme that was gender neutral.  At first, I was all about Mickey and Minnie. Why not? I practically sing the Hot Dog Song in my sleep and the babies watch it every morning.  But I had attended too many Mickey and Minnie parties and I wanted a change.

After much time on Pinterest, I settled on a “Carnival/Circus Theme.” At first, I was keen on hiring a balloon artist and face painter but after a couple of inquiries, I realized it just wasn’t worth the cost for me. There would only be one hour of entertainment and I needed at least 3.  I felt I could get more out of my own DIY and side purchases to find enough activities for all of the kids for the entire party.

The Games

  • Bucket Ball
  • Ring Toss
  • Corn Hole
  • Coloring
  • Photo Booth
  • Pin the Nose on the Clown
  • Matching Ducks

For Bucket Ball, I found some pretty cool posts on Pinterest using a pallet and baskets. I started by taking one of my parents pallets that they had in their backyard and purchased four of these baskets from Michaels.

We spray painted the inside of the buckets in Valspar Peacock Blue and the outside in Valspar Gold Abundance.  We lightly sanded the pallet and stained using Minwax Walnut. I purchased some wiffle balls from Target and just like that we have Bucket Ball!

For Ring Toss, my mom was fortunate enough to have this really awesome crate that had twelve slots that were perfect for placing bottles in.  I didn’t want to take away from the aesthetic look of the crate and knew in my mind vintage Coke bottles were a must. We bought two six packs at Target to use as our bottles. I purchased these rings on Amazon and they were perfect! Overall, it was a huge success and cost me under $20!

As I was running short on time, I chose to go to Party City to see what they had.  I ended up purchasing their Corn Hole Set, Photo Booth Prop Kit, Pin the Nose on the Clown and a Roll of Coloring Paper. It wasn’t what I initially wanted, but for my sanity I knew I had to compromise some where.  The kids seemed to really enjoy them.

The Dessert Table

My next focus was on the focal point, the Dessert Table. I repurposed the backdrop used at my best friends baby shower.  I wanted a darker stain and used Minwax Gel Stain in Dark Walnut. I created the “Happy Birthday” with paper I purchased at Michaels and creating my own stencils by printing out Happy Birthday in the font I wanted. In hindsight, it would definitely be a lot easier to use a cutting machine like a Cricut but I just didn’t have the money to lay out at the time.

My favorite purchase was the ferris wheel cupcake holders from Amazon. They came in chrome so I spray painted them with Valspar Peacock Blue and they came out awesome! I found yellow cake plates at Home Goods and purchased vintage red suitcases off Amazon. I accented with balloons, burlap and marquee letters. It came out AMAZING!

For desserts, we had candy dipped Rice Krispies, Funfetti Cupcakes and my sisters friend created the beautiful cake and sugar cookies.  The raspberry filling was to die for!

Popcorn and Peanuts

What is a carnival without popcorn and peanuts? I set aside a table devoted to popcorn and favor bags. I accented with red and white striped popcorn bags, teal berry baskets and a vintage popcorn maker! I was so happy with how it turned out. The peanuts were used in the centerpieces.  We filled mason jars with peanuts and I created cute pinwheels that I purchased off Etsy. I filled berry baskets with clown noses and added some animal crackers.

The Cake Smash

I was super excited about the cake smash. I was ready to see my kids throw themselves into a cake, especially considering Tommy had a g-tube and any fun interaction with food is a plus! I had it all planned out in my head.  I purchased two wooden high chairs I found on Facebook Marketplace. I spray painted them red and created two really cute banners out of ribbon and burlap. I cooked two “cakes” in a cupcake mold, frosted, and then sprinkled them.  I must admit, the first cupcake came out all sorts of crazy. My mom, my sister and I had a good laugh trying to make it presentable.  We ultimately learned our lessons and the second cupcake came out perfect. I didn’t want to purchase a cake to smash because to me it was not worth the money.

The day of the party, we tied some ballots to the high chairs, taped the banner, and sang happy birthday using their cakes. And of course neither of them “smashed” into the cake! So my husband took matters into his own hands and did a very gentle face smash. Tommy seemed to enjoy it and Hailey was to preoccupied by the balloons tied to her high chair.  Overall, it was a surreal moment that I will never forget.

Better than I could have ever imagined

I’m not going to lie, there were times when the twins were in the NICU that I thought we would never see them celebrate their first birthday.  There were so many unknowns. My daughter was so tiny, my son was so ill. Their first birthday party was more than just a “party” for me. It was a celebration of their tenacity, strength, and resilience. It was a celebration of all the obstacles they overcame.

Their first year of life was filled with some of our worst days and some of our best days. However, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

These two beautiful souls have brought so much joy into our lives and I can genuinely say their first birthday was better than I could have ever imagined.

 

xoxo,

Continue Reading

The Itchy Pregnancy-My Experience With Cholestasis of Pregnancy

My journey with Cholestasis of Pregnancy began when I was 14 weeks pregnant.  Essentially, my liver was not properly working and releasing bile into my bloodstream. The bile acids would release through the skin resulting in intense itching.  I will never forget waking up in the middle of the night with this intense itching on my legs and feet.  It literally kept me up for hours.  I was already losing sleep because of course I had to pee every five seconds, but ITCHING–this was a whole other animal!

Of course like every paranoid pregnant woman, I immediately grabbed my phone and Googled away– “extreme itching pregnancy.”  There it was with every Google result–“Cholestasis of Pregnancy; Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy.” With each link I clicked on, the more nervous I became.

“fetal distress,” “stillbirth,” “preterm labor”

But according to these sites, Cholestasis develops in the third trimester. I barely had started my second. I thought there is no way I have this condition! It is way too early! However, I had to remind myself that I was also carrying multiples–which, according to various sites, increases the odds of developing it early.

So there I was at 4 o’clock in the morning having a major panic attack counting down the hours till my OB/GYN opened.

I spent the whole morning researching. I found a very useful website, ICPCare.org, that provided me with valuable information. I wanted to be as prepared as possible when speaking with my OB/GYN.  From what I had read on numerous forums, many OB’s either aren’t familiar with Cholestasis or are reluctant to conduct the correct bloodwork to confirm Cholestasis. Based off of my research, I knew in order to diagnose Cholestasis, I needed bloodwork to check my liver function and bile acids.

As soon as the office opened, I called and explained my symptoms. The receptionists said I needed to come in today because it was likely I would need to get bloodwork. After I got off the phone, I immediately went to my husband and began sobbing uncontrollably. My instinct was telling me this is definitely Cholestasis.

Sure enough my liver function and bile acids were above normal.  My OB/GYN was stunned considering I was only 14 weeks along so he wanted to do more bloodwork a week later to monitor my levels. A week later, my levels were above normal but not as high as the first time.  We thought things might have been improving. We continued bloodwork once a week until my itching became unbearable.

At 17 weeks, my OB referred me to a Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor.  After a thorough anatomy scan and analysis of my symptoms and lab work, the MFM officially diagnosed me with Cholestasis and gave recommendations for my OB. Due to the fact that the bile acids can travel through the umbilical cords and create complications, the plan was to induce me at 37 weeks.  It is said that the risk of still birth increases after 38 weeks.

The MFM prescribed Ursodiol.  This medication is meant to ease the itching by helping the flow of the bile acids.  At this point in my pregnancy, the medication was all that could be done.  Due to the fact that I was only 17 weeks, if the babies were in distress, there was nothing they could do at this time because they were not developed enough.  Once I hit 24 weeks, however, the babies would be monitored very closely to make sure there was no distress.

So here I was every day itching like crazy.  The nights were the worst! I’m not quite sure why but it made it very difficult to sleep.  I began reading various forums to see how other women were coping with the itching.  I eventually created a nightly routine: warm shower, lather myself in Sarna, and sleep naked. This was the only way I could sleep. I found it also helped if the air temperature was much cooler than usual.

Unfortunately, my daughter’s water broke at 26 weeks. At that point, the cholestasis was the least of my concerns.  All I cared about was preventing infection and keeping my babies in as long as possible.

However, I was still monitored throughout my four week stay in antepartum.  I had fetal distress tests twice a day and blood work every couple of days.

It is hard to determine what effect Cholestasis had on my pregnancy.  According to the ICPcare.org website, the effects include pre-term labor and respiratory distress syndrome-which both of my babies had. But I was also pregnant with twins and pre-term labor and respiratory distress syndrome are effects of multiples as well.

Cholestasis is supposed to go away after you give birth, however, I have found myself feeling the itch even five months postpartum. I find it is even stronger around my menstrual cycle.

I truly hope that this post brings awareness to a condition I knew nothing about.  If you or someone you know is pregnant and is itchy, PLEASE contact your OB and advocate for yourself!

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me! I would also love to hear if any one else has experienced this condition.

Continue Reading