Development Evaluation

Recently the twins had their development evaluation. It is run through the federally funded Early Steps program and is a free service that the babies qualify for due to their low birth weight. It went pretty much as we expected and we are delighted that they will have extra help to bring any developmental delays up to speed.

I have to say we were pretty impressed with the facility itself. When you walk in it's like you are instantly transported to a magical world which was their waiting room.

When it was time for their evaluation they were brought into separate rooms. I went with River and G took Riley. They had two evaluators each and one other person took notes. When I walked in the room with Riv, the first thing he did was flash his larger-than-life smile at one of the evaluators. She smiled back and said, "well we can check that one off the list!"  They proceeded to play with him, making noises, ringing bells, changing his position all to see his reactions. They shut the lights and held a penlight in front of his face to see if he'd track it with his eyes. I had a feeling he might not do well with this one due to his torticollis (stiff neck) - which he has an upcoming physical therapy appt. he would follow the light on one side then stop at the midline point. He's able to turn his neck to the left, it's just a preference not to. They waved toys at him and tried to put things in his hands but I knew he wouldn't hold anything, as he hasn't been doing that yet. Overall he seemed to do pretty well.

When the evaluation was finished, I left the room with River to meet G and Riley back in the waiting room while they put the scores together. I found out from him that Ri girl didn't do so well. She was apparently super fussy and cried a lot, which surprised me as she's generally not like that, and I guess she didn't track at all. But as soon as he set her in the car seat she fell asleep so she must have been cranky. Hey, if I was tired and someone flashed lights in my eyes, flipped me around and made loud noises near my ears I'd probably cry too! LOL. I wasn't too concerned with it though. This wasn't the SATs for Riley to get into college. I already assumed she'd be assigned some kind of developmental help and as an educator I am all for that! 

After about twenty minutes they brought us all back in a room with all six people that participated in their evals. They went on to explain the scoring process and that there was a bell curve range of 80-110. They gave us the scores for both their gestational age and corrected age and said they'd like them to fall somewhere in the middle. With some things they were above level (Riv scored off the charts for Social), some were on level and some below. We didn't realize they were supposed to be grabbing/holding things already. So that was one thing they needed to work on. Individually, River needs physical therapy for his neck and it was recommended that Riley meets with an Early Intervention Specialist to work on work on her neck strength, social skills and ensure she hits her milestones. Their thought was that by each of them getting one service, it will ultimately help both of them since what we learn to do for one we can do for the other and vice versa. Each specialist will come out once a week. Their philosophy is heavily based on parent education, meaning they show the parents what to do at home to most benefit the babies' development.

So all in all we were happy to have had the evaluation and grateful they'll get free services that will enhance their development and help give me ideas and the tools needed to reinforce what I already do with them each day. I'm actually looking forward to getting some new ammo for my arsenal of daily activities! Anything to help the twins get the most out of their days!

Emerging Personalities

A few months ago I wrote a post about the personalities of each twin. I plan to keep doing this from time to time to reflect on how the twins' personalities have changed or stayed the same. Amazingly enough, in only two short months their personalities have certainly changed. It's all so fascinating to watch unfold!

With River, it seemed the first 6 to 8 weeks was tough for him. He was frequently upset and would act like you were sawing his legs off when changing his diaper. He was quite jumpy and startled easily. He cried over just about anything. We joked that we could envision a ski trip years from now where he'd be at the top of the mountain crying that he was too cold and didn't want to go down the hill. LOL. The kind of kid sobbing "where's my inhaler!" every five minutes. (Of course we said this jokingly but with love). 

Well here we are two months later and Riv has really changed! He is the happiest, sweetest little man. The little ray of sunshine smiles at us from the moment he wakes up until we say goodnight. And it's a smile that melts your heart like ice cream on a hot day! And to top it off, he's starting to giggle now! OMG I can't take it!! Something tells us he's going to be a real charmer. He's super lovey and affectionate and will fall asleep with his arms wrapped around anyone he feels safe with.

His eyes keep on getting bluer by the day. They have lightened up so much and are definitely not the slate gray that all babies have when they're born. I didn't think the color changed this quickly so I'm not sure what to expect if they will stay like this or continue getting lighter. Guess we'll find out! 

He's also been chatting up a storm lately! He babbles at us back and forth like we're having a conversation! His oohs and aahs are getting longer and more complex. It's so cool to hear! He'll even start talking when we read to him in the daytime. :-D

One thing we can say about River is that he's a total mama's boy! Like to the point that it's funny. Case in point, we'll be going on our walk around the neighborhood and if G is pushing the stroller and I'm walking next to it Riv will stare deadpan at my face the entire time without looking around it anything else. It's almost as if he thinks if he turns his head I'll disappear. If someone is holding him and I walk into the room, once he hears my voice he's doing everything he can to turn his head around so he can see me. It's actually pretty flattering. I won't lie, I love it and just eat it up!

River recently has figured out how to flip himself over from his tummy to his back. He works at it a bit and finally throws his leg far enough that he rolls over! And he has mastered the art of batting at hanging toys like Animal from the Muppets. When he's in the mood he'll go to town hitting two toys at once while doing his favorite current activity, pushing things with his legs. In that case he pushes on one of squishy bars that arch around the top of the activity mat. He does it on me all the time when he's in a Boppy pillow next to me on the couch. I recently started facing the twins toward each other in them so they can push on each other's legs!

He does still cry when something is wrong, but not without reason like before with getting his diaper changed. I can actually decipher what's wrong by the different cries he has. He gets whiny when he's overtired; he gets progressively louder when he's hungry; he goes from zero to hysterical when he's hurting; and if he gets scared (shots, etc...) he let's out a short scream then goes silent and holds his breath while turning beat red. Yeah that's fun! :-/ 

But I feel a strong connection with him. Like we've built a bond. He trusts me with his life. And that's ultimately what G and I think changed him. Everything was so new to him at first and he was terrified. Now he knows the drill. He knows his needs will always be met by Mommy and Daddy and we shower him with love and affection. He feels secure. And we feel so good as parents to have fostered that sense of security. We work hard at it and love every second of it!

On to Riley girl. She has changed a lot as well. Where we initially pegged her as carefree, smiley and content we now see a more mysterious and curious side of her. She looks at things wide-eyed and full of wonder and never shows any sign of being afraid of her surroundings. She's too busy being fascinated with everything. She loves being outside and looking at nature. Every day we sit out back with them when G gets home and she stares up at the trees and the sky. So much so that she arches her back and pushes on us until she can look straight up. And she just stares and stares, eyes wide as saucers in awe. 

Sometimes we can make her smile by dancing around, making silly noises, kissing her all over. But sometimes she won't crack even the slightest grin at our playfulness but then look up at the fan directly behind us and smile big. It's both funny and frustrating at the same time! She has a feistiness about her that shines through and leads us to believe she's going to be a sassy little girl! She's on the quiet side and doesn't cry much, but when she wants something she definitely lets us know! She pretty much only has two types of cries. One is when she's REALLY upset she'll let out these blood curdling screams that could shatter glass. (Again think getting shots). The other is more of a yelp than a cry. Because it's not sobbing, it sounds more like she's yelling "hey" progressively louder until you go to her. In a way she seems to already be somewhat of an introvert if that's possible. Seeing things from her like silent tears, not babbling much, rarely crying out and even clawing at her face when she's upset rather than vocalizing it gives that impression but of course it's too early to know for sure.

Riley is definitely daddy's girl. While there are times that she's specifically looking to me for comfort, a lot of the time she follows G with her eyes when he's waking around the house. But she adored him before she was even born, as she would kick like crazy whenever he'd get home from work and talk to my belly. We also wonder if our first kangaroo care session had anything to do with their particular attachments to each of us. I kangaroo'd Riv first and G had Riley. Interesting theory for sure...

She has a tendency to try and stare at the TV. I don't have it on all day, but Pandora is usually playing through Apple TV (I play diff genres of music every day for them) and it rotates random nature pictures on the screen while it's playing. She will do everything to crane her neck and stare at it so I'm constantly moving and turning her so she can't look. With all the recent studies out there that have found TV before the age of 3 -especially within the first year- causing brain damage, we are very cognizant of shielding them from it. But she loves anything with lights (including lights!) so naturally she's drawn to it. I'm going to start throwing a blanket over the TV during the day so I can still play music and not have to continually shift her around. 

Little Miss Fiesty still scratching up her face even after I cut her nails! So we've been putting mittens on her at night and sometimes during the day unless we are holding her. Hopefully she'll stop that soon! I know she hates the mittens. She also has been constantly eating her hands lately! And not when she's hungry, we're talking anytime. Like a crazed cannibal desperate for a snack! She'll frantically try to shove her entire hand in her mouth, while flailing about like a fish out of water that ate a bag of cocaine! I've talked to other mommies with babies the same age that say their little one is doing the same, it's just weird that she's doing it and not River. Perhaps he'll be a vegetarian just like mommy? ;-)

Riley likes sitting on our laps facing outward so she can see everything but still feel protected by us. She is usually more intrigued by her surroundings than the people around her. Perhaps she'll be an explorer of sorts! When she is sleepy she gets a lot more lovey and will fall asleep face-to-chest on us and I savor every second of it, as it doesn't happen as frequently as I'd like. In those moments I don't want to move; I just want to feel her cuddled up to me as long as possible while it lasts. 

Riley recently has a new friend. Sophie the giraffe, which is a popular nontoxic teething toy (and we have a book about Sophie that goes with it!!). Since she has been drooling and chewing on her hands lately - Riley, not Sophie! ;-) - I thought I might as well give it to her now just in case it's a sign she's on her way to teething (although 3 months corrected would be really early) and much to my surprise she loves it! It squeaks when you squeeze it, and every time it makes her smile. She's been holding it tucked under her arm and has been figuring out how to maneuver it near her mouth to suck/chew on it. It's pretty fun to watch her try!

Every day we try to give them as many developmental opportunities as possible. Currently their daily activities consist of tummy time, looking in a hand-held mirror, playing with hanging toys on their activity mats, having stories with big pictures read to them, some time with wrist rattles on, trips outside, having mommy sing songs & dance and be silly with them (aka "The Mommy Show" LOL), time in the Boppy pillows facing each other to push their legs on one another, and lately we've been trying to teach them how to hold things like hand rattles- which they are starting to hold for about 30 seconds to a minute at a time. So they are definitely in an active learning environment! I'm sure it's just going to keep getting more fun and exciting as they grow and change and are able to do even more!

Happy Five Months!!!

The Twins are FIVE months today!!! (3 months corrected). Boy does time fly!! River is 11lbs 11oz and Riley is 11lbs 5oz! She's catching up to her brother!! (And her legs are even chubbier than his!). They are such happy babies and smile all the time! We love these two little kiddos more than words can say!!!

Happy 5 Months, Super Babies!!!

Attempting to Sleep Through the Night

About two weeks ago, as per our pediatrician, we started added a bit of rice cereal to the last bottle of the night. I went out and got some organic stuff from Whole Foods and followed the doctor's instructions of putting one tablespoon of cereal per 4oz of formula (which for them is pretty much one per bottle). Well the first night poor Riv had a rough time. He woke up crying his head off six different times, from what seemed to be really bad reflux. I think it startled him awake and scared him. Poor little guy. They had eaten at an earlier time than usual (9:30) and wound up sleeping for 6 hours! Unfortunately we didn't go to bed until our usual after 11 time so I got the same amount of sleep as I usually do, but hey it was a good start!

I had talked to our pediatrician the next day (she had called for a separate reason) and mentioned how Riv did with the cereal. I told her I was going to try half the amount in his bottle that night to see if he does better and she was on board. So that night I did just that and he only woke up once crying but seemed okay the rest of the night. Once again they ate around 9:30 so they woke up around their usual 330am time for feeding. Good stretch of time, but still not doing us any good if we go to bed at our usual time.

Meanwhile Riv has had a constipation issue the past 2 weeks so we've been giving him a little plain water in his bottle once or twice a day and it helps, but the poor little guy is in excruciating pain when he finally goes and it's a hard little ball of poop so no wonder! 

So now it's been two weeks and they seem to be handling the cereal at night a bit better using only half the recommended amount. Riley had some constipation issues but seems to be doing better. She appears to have a stronger stomach than her brother. Riv has been constipated the past two weeks, going every few days. He actually had a normal poop the other day so I'm hoping that continues. I hate seeing him in so much pain! They still aren't sleeping through the night though, which was the purpose of introducing the cereal. They are hungry at weird times and have been eating earlier at night (around 930) so they fall asleep a little earlier which still puts them at waking up in the middle of the night. There was ONE night we were up late and fed them at 1030... They stayed awake until close to midnight and then didn't wake up again until 6am. But that was the closest we've gotten. Sometimes only one of them wakes up hungry in the middle of the night (surprisingly it's usually Riley, that little girl likes to eat!) but then she wakes him up so I wind up feeding both. I'm hoping they continue to have longer stretches at night because while I'm used to having little sleep now, I really miss it! LOL. 

Awaiting Aunt Flo

So it's been five months since I had the twins. Seems crazy it's been that long already. The doctor had told me since I'm not breastfeeding that I should get my period back 6-8 weeks after delivery, aaaand... Aunt Flo has yet to pop in for a visit. So I spoke with Dr T (the last RE I had seen- he was the one who tested me when I first had a BFP and later told me it was twins...we have since kept in touch). He reminded me that with Premature Ovarian Failure and Diminished Ovarian Reserve it doesn't mean you'll NEVER ovulate, it just means it will be rare and unpredictable. But considering I never got a period (even when I got pregnant that was the first time I ovulated since getting off birth control the year before. I had dropped two eggs and got pregnant and therefore my period never came). I figured I was back into my prior POF state with my cycle not coming back, but this time I had decided not to go on any supplements to try and get it back since I'm no longer trying to get prego. I've been checking my cervix every day just out of curiosity to see if there were any changes, and for the most part it's stayed the same. Well... last week something weird happened. I totally had that sticky egg white cervical mucus! There was no doubt about it, it was definitely it. Very interesting. 

It's amazing what a difference one year can make. This time last year I was desperately trying to get my cycle back so I could get pregnant and now here I am with TWO babies wondering if I'll get my period. Well... It's been a week since the potential ovulation and I'm anxiously awaiting the Red Crusader. For the past week I've been feeling stuff stirring down there, as if it's warning me: it's coming. If I do actually get my period, my fear is it's going to be a doozy. It's been so many years since I've had one I imagine that it'll be a build up of all the times I didn't and just hit me like a tsunami. I warned G to stay on his toes in the event I really do get it, as he may have to hunker down in a safe place for there's a good chance I'll be a fire-breathing monster, smashing buildings and stepping on tourists....we do live in Orlando after all ;-)

My guess is if I'm going to be surfing the Crimson Tide, it will happen sometime in the next week or so. Right now all I can do is wait! In the meantime I'll stock up on chocolate and warn local law enforcement to stand guard....

(This is how I imagine it's going to be: {if you've never seen this SNL skit, it is HILARIOUS})