Monday, December 26, 2011

The RSV Blues

It is every mothers worst fear, when your baby is sick. We all think that our baby can defend against any colds but I learned that it is inevitable.

I Thought it was Just Teething...

My girls began teething at four months. They have experienced most of symptoms of excessive drooling, itchy gums, placing their fingers or my fingers in their mouths and becoming fussy. When I noticed the girls were drooling mucus, I just assumed that it was because of the teething. Instantly they began to cough for two days and as I researched about the coughing, the information stated that it was because of teething. However, as the days went on the coughing and the mucus drool became worst.

It's Time To Go To the ER...

My fiance came home from work and released me from my motherly duty so that I could go outside and run some errands. On my way back, he called me in a panic. "Milani is choking on all this spit, she will not stop!" I was already aware. Every time Milani took a sip of formula, she would immediately began to choke for at least 10 minutes and then proceed to scream because of the pain. Mya was starting to become the same way. When I got home, I placed the girls in front of the humidifier and began to suck some of the mucus out of their nose. Those with babies know, they hate the nose suction like the hate to be denied food. For a moment it seemed to be working until I looked over at Mya who was slumped down in her car seat. She appeared to be lethargic and I decided it's time to take their temperature.

I took the temperature every hour throughout the day along with Tylenol because their temperature would seem to start to rise. As I stuck the thermometer rectally, Mya's temperature was rising every second. It went from 98 to 99 to 100 to 101 to 102 in a blink of an eye. I looked over to my fiance and said, "it is time to go to the ER." I called my mother to let her know and she said that she would meet us over there. We got the girls ready, hopped in the car and drove to the hospital where they were born. I was praying I would never see this place again.

There Isn't a Treatment for RSV...

Word of advice, if possible, try to take your baby to the hospital where they were born because their information is already in the hospital's system and that means less paper work to fill out. We were placed in a room and watching my girls be defeated against this cold, broke my heart. Mya had a fever and Milani could not eat. I just wanted answers. We were in the hospital since 9pm and at 4am  after the chest x-rays, the abuterol treatment (helps open the lung passage ways and helps with wheezing) and mucus culture, the doctor finally comes in and tells me the news. My daughters have bronchitis, which was caused by RSV. Bronchitis is when the air sacs in the lungs are filled and are close shut.
What is RSV?

RSV stands for Respiratory Syncytial Virus, a leading cause of bronchitis. It is a very common virus and everyone has had it at least once before the age of three in the U.S. RSV virus is spread through close contact with infected people or through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. In adults and older children, the symptoms of respiratory syncytial virus are similar to the common cold. However, the RSV virus can sometimes be severe, especially in premature babies.Symptoms include:
  • Cough
  • Stuffy Nose
  • Mucus
  • Yellow or Green Mucus
  • Fever

Because RSV is a virus, there isn't any medicine that can make it go away. Unfortunately, it goes away on its own. However, there are certain things that you can do to help your baby feel more comfortable.
  • Place them in front of the humidifier so the moisture can open their passage ways.
  • The doctor may prescribe a nebulizer and abuterol to help open the passage ways as well. This does not help with getting rid of the cough but the moisture helps the mucus run down the nose.
  • Saline. Saline breaks up the mucus.
  • Suction. Use the nose aspirator daily. I use it every time for a feeding or when the girls and are just relaxing. I recommend the Nose Frida, it is amazing.
  • Wash your hands and disinfect daily
How are the Girls now?

I'm please to say that the girls are doing much better. They are eating and coming back to their normal selves. The cough will last for another week or so but it is breaking down.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I Still Feel Like I am Eating For Two: The Start of My Weight Loss

I was sitting in my mothers kitchen when she asked me, "are you sure you are not pregnant again?" I looked down at my stomach and if I hadn't already finished my menstrual cycle, I would have thought I was at least three months pregnant.

It is a struggle most women go through, trying to loose the pregnancy weight. I never struggled with my weight before and after the girls were delivered, I actually slimmed down a lot quicker due to breastfeeding (which I unfortuantely stopped. Once the girls came home and I was no longer working, food became my escape from the screams and cries. As I ate one serving, I still felt the need to fill myself with other nonsense such as cookies, cake, hamburgers, etc. because I still had the room in my stomach.

One afternoon, I put on a tight shirt and from the side profile, my stomach fell over my jeans. It was the most embarassing image I ever saw. Of course the obvious solution is to exercise and small portions of food; replace unhealthy snacks with healthy ones. As new moms or veterans, especially those who stay at home, understand raising newborns is tough. The only time I get a breather is when the girls take their nap during the day and when they go sleep, which is around 10:30pm. At that point, the last thing I want to do is exercise.

Not an excuse but I am in the house 7 days a week as I am currently looking for employment (I just cannot take anything) and I am in school. When I am bored, I turn to food or Facebook. Before the babies I was at work, I had time on my hands to work out. I didn't realize how much of myself I was sacrificing when I had the girls; how much of myself gets lost just so they can survive.

The Wii Rose From the Grave...or The Bottom of The Box

The days that my fiance is off I am able to get in some Zumba on the Wii (I am too broke to join a gym). I started Zumba when my fiance was at work and that was a huge mistake. A 15 minute session on the Wii turned into an hour because I had stop and see who is crying or stop and feed the twins; that was a work out in itself.

Our Daily Walks

I cannot stay in the house for a long period of time. An alternative to me eating the worst snacks is the girls and I go on our walks either to the park, the library or the mall. I would think by my walking all over Brooklyn, my weight would just disappear, but it is the food aspect that I am working on.

Jennifer Hudson Diet

Jennifer Hudson had a son and she looks better than she did before she was pregnant. I want to be the size that I was when my fiance met me. Part of me however likes the thickness that I have acquired. I do not want my readers to get the wrong impression, I am not 200 lbs or 180 lbs, I weight 154 lbs and I am 5"2. I decided that after Thanksgiving it was time to get back into shape. I found the meal plan that Jennifer Hudson did with Weight Watchers, which I have done Weight Watchers and it does work) went to the grocery store to buy the items in order to begin. The problem with meal plans, some of the items I do not like to eat. For example, greek yogurt. I cannot stand greek yogurt but I ate it with Kashi cereal. It is difficult to diet when the items are not tasty. Needless to say, I have quit the Hudson meal plan and I am currently looking else where for a plan that will work for me.

My Goals for the New Year

My goal for myself and my family is to start loosing the weight January 1st 2012. My other goals is to finish school so that I can finally have a career and stop working these dead end jobs. I am not just doing this for me, I am doing this for my girls.

Monday, November 28, 2011

12 Fun Facts about Twins

I realized that this blog is entitled Preemie Twins and Me and I haven't done a lot of blogging about twins but overall parenting and taken care of infants. I have a lot of topics that I need to educate myself on and share to the audience such as, I am a new mom; whatever experience I have learned thus far, I must share, I am a mommy to infants who were born premature; I have to talk about my journey and share encouraging words to those in my shoes and most importantly I am a new mom of twins. In result, I have to learn about twins and share my experience in raising twins. This blog entry is for the multiples.

Interesting Facts About Twins

1. 22% of twins are left handed: I hope this works in my favor because I am left handed!

2. Rate of twin births vary by location: Certain parts the world have much higher rates of twin births than other places such as New Jersey or Connecticut has a 25% twin rate than the general population.

3. There are 7 different types of twins: Identical, fraternal, half-identical, mirror image twins, mixed chromosome twins, super fecundation and superfetation. Those other than identical and fraternal can be quite rare.

4. Twins do not have to be born on the same date: The longest recorded gap between twin births is 85 days. The can happen when one twin is born just before midnight and the other after or where there is a longer gap, one twin is born early due to complications while the other is left in the womb to develop further.

Mya and Milani's hole in their ear
5. Twins do not have to have the same father: I saw this on Maury where the father was the found to be the dad of one twin but not the other. This is called hetero paternal super fecundation. This is when a women releases multiple eggs, each fertilized by sperm from separate instances of sexual intercourse.

6. 25% of identical twins are called mirror image twins: For example, if one twin has mole on the left side of her face, the other will have the mole on the right side of her face. However, my twins are fraternal and one has a whole on the top left ear and the other has a hole on the top right ear.

7. Twins have their own secret language: The term is Ideoglossia. Once twins learn to talk, they mispronounce words but because their other half is capable of recognizing and understanding those words, it seems as if they have their own language. Some say that twins secret language is a myth but being a parent of twins, I think it is true.

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen
8. Fraternal twins are much more common than identical twins: Did you know Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are fraternal twins? Go figure.

9. Once a women has had fraternal twins, she is three to four times more likely to have another set!

10. Twins share DNA, but it is not identical. 

11. Twins can have different gestational age: Fraternal twins specifically, fertilization doesn't always have to happen at the same time. Fraternal twins is the product of releasing two eggs within the same cycle, however, the eggs are not necessarily released on the same day; one egg may be fertilized days or even weeks before the other, thus causing a slight difference in age and development between the twins.

Couple in North Carolina who gave birth to twins with a combined birth weight of 23lbs
12. The heaviest combined birth weight of any set of twins is a whopping 27lbs and 12oz: The heaviest birth weight was born to Mrs. J.P. Haskin of Arkansas, on February 20 1924. Recently a women in North Carolina gave birth to twins with a combined birth weight of 23lbs! (Picture)

Do you know any more facts about twins? Share!

My Girls First Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a great and blessed Thanksgiving! As my girls celebrated their first Thanksgiving, I couldn't help but reminisce on my Thanksgiving traditions as a child. Every year until I reached a certain age that I cannot remember, my father and I would go to the Thanksgiving Day Parade; one of the many perks of living in New York. We would wake up at 4 am, my dad would be placing the hot apple cider he just made into our thermoses (I had the pink Cabbage Patch one). Around 4:30 in the morning we would head out in the dark cold air to the subway. Our destination, every year was 34th street. One year my dad was able to get us into the VIP section by flashing his badge. The year after, we were weren't so lucky because it was so cold outside that my little toes were frozen solid. We had to watch the parade from the second floor of a restaurant. It wasn't a bad view though.

These memories that I forever cherish only excites me to create new ones with my girls. This year, my girls and I watched the parade on television while my mother perfumed the house with her sweet smelling sweet potato pie and potato salad; the two main items that are always demanded at the dinner table at my Aunts house.

Grandma Bonnie in the back and Aunt Charlotte
Once the food was ready and Aaron arrived, we made our way to my Aunt's house. Not only were the rest of the family going to meet the girls, but two things made this Thanksgiving extra special. My grandma came all the way from North Carolina (she hasn't been to New York in 11 years!) to see the girls and I was going to meet my new cousin (born a month later after the girls).

Ladies Man. Huggie in between Milani (purple hat) and Mya 
My aunt's house was packed with great food and family. I don't think we all were in the same room together for a holiday since the 2006 Thanksgiving dinner. Before the meal, my aunt does the blessing, which is at least 30 minutes long. I think it gets longer each year. Once she is finish, we go around the table to say what we are grateful for. Although my life seems to be spiraling out of control, I have with stand every obstacle that I have encountered. I am grateful to have two beautiful little girls, a fiance to share my joy, my mother who has been a true blessing, friends and family that always get me through my challenges that I seem to find myself in. Even though I am not where I would like to be yet, my life could be far worst.

After a great meal, my fiance invites his brother to go with us to my friends house who lives up the street. It has become a tradition ever since my friend moved down the block from my aunt's house to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Besides, after a couple of hours, my family starts to get a little bit overwhelming and it is nice to relax and converse with my friend.

Overall, I had a great Thanksgiving. I couldn't ask for a better one. Now onto my favorite holiday, Christmas.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

5 Items You Must Have for Your Baby in Your Medicine Cabinets

I received a huge reality check, yesterday, November 21st 2011. My twin girls were not perfect. They are defenseless to certain germs and they do not have an invisible bubble surrounding them against infections. My girls CAN get sick. Three days ago this became apparent when Mya started to sneeze and mucus dribbled down her little nose. Like a domino effect, Milani coughed minutes after. Sniffling back in forth and with Mya developing a rash around her neck that was not going away, I began to get frustrated. My girls do not get sick, I thought I took all precautions to protect them; the rain cover for their Cadillac stroller, three layers of clothing plus hat and sneakers. What more could I do? "It is not your fault, the weather is changing, this is the time most babies get sick," my mother reassured me. She should know about parenting, she did give birth to me 25 years ago.

As a new mom, I tried not to get flustered (oh how hard that was). However, as I start to get the hang of being a parent, I began to think more clearly. I laid in my bed and thought, what I could I give my children to help with their sniffles? Memories of the NICU surrounded my brain and the image of one of the nurses handing me saline came to my mind. I popped up from the pillow and ran to the closet that held their first aid kit. Untouched were two tubes of saline packaged in a see through pink plastic. This should flush their mucus out and I will be able to use the nose suction, which they love so much (sarcasm) to help.

What was I going to do about Mya's rash that was now transcending toward her chest?

Mya's Rash
We went to the doctor yesterday in which she prescribed a medication much stronger for Mya's rash. I will update to let you know how it is clearing. My experience of taken care of two children with colds, inspired me to write this blog. Specifically in Mya's case, I had to go back and forth to the pharmacy for products that worked in the beginning for her rash. If there was a package that were given to new moms, some of the items that I had to go buy, would be in that bag. Here are my top five items, that are must for your babies:

  1. Saline: All doctors are different. My doctor said that my girls are too young to receive any medication and saline is the best bet to help with the sniffles. I think also because my girls did not have a temperature and therefore was not necessary to prescribe medicine. Saline is sold over the counter and if your baby is still in the NICU or ICU, just ask the nurses to give you a sample. Saline is great in breaking down the mucus and helps get it out of your infants system. Be sure to give two to three drops in each nostril while positioning your infant upright. Use a nose suction immediately after the drops because you do not want the saline to go down their throat. 
  2. Aquaphor: Aquaphor is great for reducing baby acne on your infants face. It is also good for redness that might appear in the crease of your infants neck or genital area. 
  3. Cornstarch Powder:  Cornstarch powder (not the one you cook with) is great for absorbing moisture in rashes. It dries the rashes out, however it does not get rid of rashes. I like Johnson & Johnson Cornstarch Powder for infants, but Gold Bonds makes a good one as well. 
  4. Nose Suction: This pairs with saline. As stated before, some doctors do not recommend medication for infants for colds. After adding a couple of drops in your babies nose, the suction helps the mucus come up.
  5. Baby Oil:  I mentioned this in my previous blog on Cradle Cap (I hope that you have been reading). Baby oil is not just great for your babies skin but I use it for my daughter's scalp. She has Cradle Cap and baby oil helps bring the flakes up from the scalp. 
What is in your medicine cabinet for your little one?

Happy Reading! :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Concerns by Area Post: What is Cradle Cap?

From google images, an example of Cradle Cap
One day I was brushing one of twin girls hair, Mya and I noticed that her scalp was severely dry. I thought that she was still peeling (getting her new skin) and I continued to brush her hair. Three days later, I noticed that her whole scalp was very dry and flaky. I shampooed her hair immediately and the next day it was still there. After speaking with the pediatrician, she told me that my daughter had Cradle Cap.

What is Cradle Cap?

Cradle Cap is common in babies for the first eight months. It is flaky, dry skin that looks like dandruff that can also take the appearance of thick yellowish, oily or brown crust on a babies scalp. Severe cases are around the eyes, forehead and under the arms.

What Causes Cradle Cap?

The cause of Cradle Cap is unknown. Doctors suggest that Cradle Cap can be caused by an overstimulate of the oily glands but that theory has not been proven. Some parents on baby forums suggest that particular shampoo causes Cradle Cap, but again that has not been proven. Cradle Cap is harmless and should clear up during six to 12 months of a babies life.

How to Treat Cradle Cap?

Cradle Cap is not a disease, it is not inherited and it is not contagious. As mentioned before, Cradle Cap does not go away permanently but there are ways to minimize the dry skin and flakes:

  • After each bath, I moisturize my daughters scalp with baby oil. According to the American Pediatrics Association, mineral oil is a better solution, but in my experience, baby oil does the trick. The baby oil (although ironic) helps separate the flakes from the scalp. 
  • Wait 30 minutes before washing the oil and flakes out of the baby's hair or wash the hair the next day. I prefer to wash my daughters hair the next day because I want the oil to seep into the scalp for a long period of time. 
  • You will notice that the flakes will begin to rise from the scalp. Gently comb through the baby's hair to get the rest of the flakes off the scalp. 
  • Shampoo IMMEDIATEDLY; at least 3 times until most of the flakes are gone. Depending on the texture of your infant's hair, it might be challenging to get all of the flakes out. 
  • Dry hair. 
  • Put baby oil on the scalp and comb through gently.
  • Shampoo every other day, but moisturize the scalp every day. 
To treat Cradle Cap that is not on the scalp, try using Aquaphor two times a day. If the case is more severe, please call your doctor. 
Do you have any remedies to treat Cradle Cap? Did your infants have Cradle Cap?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Activities to Help with your Babies Development

Happy Prematurity Awareness Day!

Although I do not place much emphasis on corrected age for my girls who were born eight weeks early, I do understand that because they were born early, their might be some delays in their development. I have been truly blessed that so far, they have been on schedule as if they were born full term. They are eating the right amount of food and hitting most of their milestones. The main reason I believe that they are developing very well is because of one reason, I do not look at them as if they were born premature.

While I was doing some research to negate a comment that was made in Facebook group, I came upon several posts that stated that they would always look at their babies as preemies; they would always be preemies even at the ripe age of 10. I couldn't agree with them. I am not in denial, I know my girls were born premature but in my situation, I knew that this was their fate because they are twins. However, they WERE preemies, they are now infants, hence why in the baby clothing section they have preemies, 0-3, 3-6 and 6-9 months. Do I need to continue?

From the moment my girls came home, I have worked with them to catch up on their development skills. Here are some tips that might help new moms work on the development skills.  There are some milestones that I have noticed that they were doing at two months that was meant for four months and then there are some milestones that they have not reached yet.

Talking to Them

My fiance and I talk to the girls as if they are adults. We strayed away from the goo-goo and ga-ga talk. We spent time speaking to them in complete sentences, asking about their day, smiling and laughing with them. When they were 2 months and a half, my girls began to coo and smile. When they turned 3 months, they really started to look at us and have conversations. It still amazes me today how much they have accomplished and how they really talk to us. Share about your day to your babies. It might feel awkward at first because you think they do not understand, however, they do. They get use to the sound of your voice and eventually will react to what you are saying. Reading stories also helps with their cooing or babbling as well as sight.  VIDEO COMING SOON!!

Eye Coordination

At 3 months, babies vision are no longer blurry and are able to adjust clearly to objects and to their parents. It is an amazing feeling to watch your infant focus on your face and smile. To help with this development, use baby toys or objects that are red and black (studies have shown that infants notices those colors first) and slowly move it so that their eyes will follow, however, not too close to their eyes. I like to use rattles as well because they will follow the sound. Watch my video of my girls focusing on the mobile, due to our practicing eye coordination.

Hand Coordination

My girls at times still have a tight fist. Other times, they grab objects on their own or each other. Use baby toys that have a smooth surface or a ring like shape so that it is easy for them to grab. Because they are still young, you might have to loosing their fists and wrap the object around their fingers. They will start to get use to holding and grabbing the more you practice with them. Mya grabbed an object one day and was shaking it so hard, she hit herself in the head! Make sure the object that you are placing in your babies hand isn't a hard toy.  

Tummy Time

While one of the challenges that many infants face in the NICU is the suck, swallow and breathe method in regards to feeding, another huge challenge is learning how to crawl. A major milestone is a baby able to hold their head up on your chest, lying down or while you are carrying them. Tummy time helps with this milestone as well as introduce them to crawling. Set a certain time (at least two times a day) to work on tummy time. Do this BEFORE you feed them or when you know they have digested their food. Use an activity mat, or a blanket on the bed. Try placing an object a good distance from them so they have something to reach for. Encourage them by talking to them (helps with the milestone of cooing, laughing and babbling). It is okay if the infant doesn't go too far or even stops. Around four months, they should start to coordinate movement much better. Watch my video as my girls practice tummy time.   VIDEO COMING SOON!

Here is a great chart of the milestones your baby may reach related to their age. Check out BabyZone, Development Chart . Remember, full term babies do not necessarily meet their milestones either so do not feel bad. As a mom of twins who were born premature, I am aware that some milestones my girls might meet a little bit later, but I work with them much harder so that they do not fall too behind. 

What kinds of activities did you or do with your baby? 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mya and Milani Watch: Portrait Studio Debacle

I had this idea in my head of how my girls 3 month photo shoot would go; In my mind, they were the perfect angels, they smiled, were cooperative and were awake. I kept this idea all the way to the portrait studio last Saturday. Oh, how wrong I was. The girls were both asleep when we arrived at the studio. We were an hour early and sat in the waiting room until our names were called. Milani must have realized that the stroller had stop moving because she woke instantly. That was my cue to feed her so that she would be that perfect angel that I had created in my mind. Mya, was unfortunately still asleep.

When the photographer called our names, I told my fiance to wake Mya. BIG MISTAKE! Her eyes slowly opened and then the sound that most moms cringe over.


She would not stop crying! Mya is always fussy. Sweet, she smiles, laughs and talks (babble) but overall fussy. I hoped that she would not show the real Mya but she was in full force. She would not pose at all. Milani was ready for the camera and after patiently waiting for Mya to get it together, Milani fell asleep. The photographer tried several methods to get Mya to calm down. We gave her the pacifier and on cue the photographer told me to quickly take it out her mouth.

This was the result.

Not too bad. All the poses that I wanted to do, Mya was not having it. She screamed, she yelled, she cried, she fought. My fiance even tried to give her a bottle, thinking a little taste of formula would calm her down. Mya wanted the whole bottle and would not compromise. An hour and half later, the flustered photographer decided that she had enough. My fiance and I went back to the waiting room with the babies frowning with disappointment. We both thought that the shoot would go a lot smoother and after Mya received her full 7 oz of milk, she was a pleasant baby in the waiting room. It was like my daughter was bipolar or 7 oz formula was what spinach was for Popeye. She was not the same baby that came out of the shoot wailing and throwing her arms.

Twenty minutes later, the photographer told us that the pictures were ready for us to view. In my head I'm thinking how was she able to get any photos with Mya the crazy?? However, they came out pretty good.

What We Should Have Done Differently

  1. Take photos at a time when you KNOW your baby will be awake: This was mistake number one. I was so anxious to take their pictures on Saturday that I didn't care what time slot it was. I knew that around 4pm to 5pm, the girls take their naps. Therefore, I faced the consequences. 
  2. Feed before the photo shoot: When Milani woke up to eat, I should have woke Mya up so that she could eat, therefore eliminating an embarrassing situation of her crying hysterically.
  3. Be prepared that you will NOT spend $10.00 for photos: This was my first time taken photos professionally. Although I had a  coupon, I was not prepared to like so many of the images (there wasn't that many). Be prepared to spend at least $50.00. 

Share your experience. Do you have any photo shoot disasters with your little ones?

**Click here to view my girls photos**

Friday, November 11, 2011

Do you feel guilty that you didn't go full term?

As I was reading some of the postings in the parents of preemies group on Facebook, someone posed the question, do you feel guilty that you didn't go full term? To my surprise, their were some who answered that they did feel guilty. I was confused by their comments.

Why do you feel guilty?

24 weeks pregnant
Guilty was never a feeling that I had when I delivered my girls eight weeks early. I knew that it was not in my control. In fact, when I found out I was having twins, I always already prepared for them to come early and would not be able for them to come home with me right away. My cervix was one cm dilated at 24 weeks, from which I was placed on bedrest and then two months later, my girls arrived. What is there to feel guilty about? I carried them as long as my body could handle and as long as God wanted them to stay in the womb. Here are the facts; in my case:

  • I am 5"2. I am petite.
  • I was carrying twins. Majority of twins do not reach full term. Most are born around 35 weeks, it is very rare that a mother carries full term.
  • My cervix was already opened. 
I miscarried a year prior to getting pregnant again with the girls. Why would I feel guilty? They were my miracles.
    Maybe I am just Lucky

    I read a plethora of posts from mothers who share stories of the obstacles that they have faced with their preemie(s) in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) such as surgeries, blood transfusions, extensive hospital stays and I can't help but to feel truly bless thus far. My girls were in the NICU less than a week after they were delivered emergency c-section and were the favorite of the nurses. One of the nurses told my fiance that they loved the Simmons twins because they do not need special attention; just feed them and that is it. I do not mean to brag because I know that many parents of preemies have gone through a lot of hardship but I am please with the development and health of my twins so far. When my cervix opened, I thought my girls were going to be delivered that day. Nothing is scarier than a doctor coming into your hospital room and saying that their is a 90% change that if your baby is born at 24 weeks, chances are, they will not make it.  Being placed on bedrest and prescribed Procardia for two months, helped the girls stay in the womb until 32 weeks and one day. Maybe, I am just lucky that I haven't had to endure some of the hardships that many have faced. Maybe, I just haven't had my share and it is soon to come. I don't wish that on myself, but I am thankful everyday that my girls open their eyes and are healthy.

    Appreciating your Preemie
    I appreciate my girls more because they were born premature. I was able to watch them develop physically outside of the womb, which I found amazing. I do not take for granted every milestone and every development. Preemies, in my opinion are better than full term babies because they have so much strength. They are fighters. I admire them because they have to make up for certain skills that they would have developed if they were in the womb longer such as Suck, Swallow and Breathe while feeding.

    They WERE preemies, they are not anymore

    What parents of preemies have to remember is that their baby WAS a preemie and are not anymore. I do not treat my girls any differently and I do not look at them any differently. This can also be because I did not have to go through an extensive stay at the hospital or any surgeries, but if I did, it would be the same way. I don't place emphasis on the gestational age either. In my eyes, they are three months not one month and a half their gestational age.

    For those who feel guilty that they did not make it full term; don't. It is not a competition, it is what God planned. If you do not believe in God, then the length of your pregnancy was what your body could handle. It does not make you failure because you did not make it full term. Preemies are special. Not because some of the challenges that we will or have faced as parents but because of the determination they have.

    If I could do it again, I would not change a thing. I'm truly blessed because I received two wonderful girls who are so smart and such a joy that you would not have known that they were born premature; they are so chunky.


    For those parents, do you feel guilty? Why or why not?

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    What is in a name?

    Before I became pregnant, I would create a list of names that I would choose from to name my baby. It's funny that I did not choose any names of the list I created to name my twin girls. It is easy to think of names when you do not have a bean or in my case two beans growing inside you. Once it becomes reality, picking in a name is by far the most stressful and it does not come easily. For some, choosing a name might be a no brainer especially if they have a boy (usually they will be a junior).

    Will they be able to work on Wall Street?

    As I decided on names for my twin girls, I asked this question, "will they be able to work on wall street?" I don't mean literally work on wall street, however I would not be upset if they did, but will they land a job in corporate America. If an HR manager sees their resume, will they automatically know that they are of African American decent? This was an important factor because lets face it, minorities have to strive and work harder. There is a huge stereotype about African Americans work ethic and more corporate companies are hesitant to higher minorities, I do not care if they say they are an equal opportunity company.

    I wanted a name that would fool an HR manager. That might sound silly, but I don't believe in made up names. I don't want to say ghetto names, but, I hope you know what I mean.

    Discussing the names with your partner

    Beautiful Mya
    Picking the perfect name is a challenge; coming to a consensus with your partner is even harder. I felt as if   I suggested every name in the English language and my fiance was not budging. Every name seem to either reminded him of someone he did not like, did like, or thought it was too "ghetto" or too "proper." I am not sure how we came into an agreement about Mya. I think, we rolled the name around our tongues, spoke the name aloud a couple of times and decided that the name had a beautiful ring and it was befitting for our beautiful girl (at the time, we thought we were having one of each.) It is important to have your partner's input. If he or she is becoming difficult, ask them what names did they have mind? When discussing names, incorporate a list so that they have a lot to choose from. I suggest having the meanings (if there are any) next to the names.

    Meaning of Mya

    The name Mya just came to us. We fell in love like a women does when she finds the perfect wedding dress. We just knew, that it was the one.
    Mya (Greek): Great Mother.

    Meaning of Milani

    Cute Milani
    My godmother came to visit my mother and I three weeks before I actually delivered. Now that I knew I was having two girls, I had no idea what the second name was going to be. I wondered if the names should sound a like such as Mya and Mia or start with the same letter or be entirely different like Georgia and Christina. My fiance and I decided that we wanted the same letter names. During breakfast, my godmother was on her IPhone and landed on the name Milani. At first, I was not in love with the name, but after moments of thinking about it, I thought it was perfect. It was unique, original and pretty.
    Milani (Hawaiian): Gentle, Caress.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    When in Doubt, Stroll it Out

    You tried everything; rocking, swaddling, music and singing. Your baby is still wide eyed and bushy tail. The time reads 4:00 am. You try feeding her but she spits it out immediately. A fire begins to burn in the pit of your stomach from frustration and sleepiness. To make matters worst, your baby starts to cry. Every ounce of you wants to run into the bathroom and scream living your infant to fend for themselves.

    I have been in this situation plenty of times as a new mom times two (I have twins). I have gotten so frustrated that I woke my fiance up an hour before he had to go to work to take over. One of my daughters would stay up from 12 am to 7 am every night when she turned two months. I tried everything but nothing seemed to sooth her. I started to feel like a failure. I just assumed that because I was her mother, she would automatically calm down in my arms. I learned that was just a myth.

    I began to get creative.

    When in Doubt, Stroll it Out

    Stroller Frame 
    For those who have one infant, this tip maybe easier than those, like myself, who have multiples. I decided that I was going to stroll my daughter in the middle of the living room and around the apartment. This was a challenge because my apartment was very small and I have double stroller frame, which is a car seat attachment stroller. I call it the "Hummer" because it is big, wide and long. Although exhausted, I knew this had to work. I retrieved the stroller frame the nursery, trying hard not to wake the other twin. I placed the car seat in the frame, wrapped Mya and placed her in the car seat. I moved the living room set out the way for more room and we went up and down the living room, in the hall way, in the kitchen and back into the living room. At first, it didn't seem to work because she noticed that we weren't going outside and every scenery were looking the same and repeating. After 10 minutes, Mya's eyes began to roll in the back of her head. My heart began to beat faster in anticipation that this was the end. Slowly her head nodded back and forth. I stopped strolling and watched her for 15 minutes (15 minutes in the maximum time I wait to make sure that they are fully asleep). After the time frame, I picked her up and put her in her swing (she does not sleep in the crib, which I mentioned in a previous blog). Needless to say, she did not wake up until 12pm.

    This method does not always work and every child is different. If you live in a safe neighborhood, you could try going around your block. This depends on the time of night as well. If you are up to it, you can take your infant for a ride in the car.

    This is where routines come in, which I will do a blog on. I learned the hard way. Routines are even more important when you have multiples.

    What are some other creative ways you have tried to get your fussy baby to go to sleep? Leave comments and thank you for reading!

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Short Blog Twin Update: Mya discovers her hands, Milani talks CONSTANTLY

    Mya noticing her fists
    I think the advantage of having a preemie is that you appreciate each milestone and each development more. A couple of weeks ago, Mya discovered her fists and Milani is talking constantly (more than Mya). It is true that at three months, babies vision gets much better. My daughters focus on objects and when they see my face they smile and laugh. It is a beautiful feeling.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Branding your baby with ear piercing

    Gold Ball Studs are best for infants
    Getting my daughters ears pierced is a no brainer. It is a tradition in my family for the girls to get their ears pierced by 6 months old. Yet, I am hesitant on when I want to get theirs ears pierced. I have to remember that just because they were born premature, does not mean that they are different. I think, I am little more careful with them because they were born two months early, but I am blessed to say that they are developing right on schedule, but I digress.

    I read several forums to find the answers to the following questions that I had:

    1. What is the earliest age to get a babies ears pierced?
    2. How old to get a baby who was born premature ears pierced?
    3. What type of earrings is the best?
    4. Pediatrician vs. professional piercer vs. Claire's vs. piercing pagoda
    For the first question, I read so many different answers that I concluded that the age to get babies ears pierced was based on preference. However, according to my doctor, after three months and when they received their first set of shots was fine. Most mothers on the forum said that they pierced their babies ears when they were as old as seven years old. Some said as young as two months old. There were those who were against ear piercing all together until the baby is old enough to make their own decision. I asked the second question because their is a gestational age for preemies. For example, my daughters were born two weeks early; they are three months now; their gestational age is one month. With that calculation, I thought that their physical development equaled their gestational age; not true.

    My friend told me that she went to the mall to get her daughters ears pierced but I was and I still am weary about doing that. I feel more comfortable having it done by their pediatrician because of Mal practice insurance (if she messes up then I have the opportunity to sue) and she knows my daughter. The only issues is that she is pricey, $40.00 per baby. That is $80.00 plus $40.00 copay. At the mall, the ear piercing is free when you purchase their earrings. Yet, I am not sure if I am comfortable having a stranger pierce their ears and I do not know if they are licensed or not. How do I know that they are trained to pierce ears? I can't risk that.

    After speaking with the doctor about piercing the girls ears, I asked what type of earring was best for them. A ball stud and 24 carat gold plated is the best for the girls. Gold earrings are typical the best choice.

    Some might think that I am over reacting or piercing their ears not a pressing issue. It isn't but we are taking pictures on Saturday and I wanted their ears done. Besides, I am tired of strangers asking if they are boy or girl. Why would I put boys in a pink car seat with a huge pink blanket to cover them?

    What is your position on the issue? To pierce or not to pierce? That is the question.

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Why doctors say NO WATER for infants under 6 months

    At our first doctors visit, my pediatrician specifically said not to give the babies water until they are at  least 6 months old. The same information was presented to me when I went to apply for W.I.C. I was even asked by several family members if I started giving the girls water. Immediately I repeated what the W.I.C. office and the pediatrician said to me. My family stared at me with confusion. I thought it was weird as well since  their formula was mixed with water, they were still having water in their system...kind of. My mother felt it was odd information as well. She called my godmother who is a pediatrician to ask, especially because Milani was constipated. My godmother chuckled at what my doctor had said and her words exactly, "they need to cut it out."

    Why doctors say NO WATER for infants under 6 months

    Years ago, mothers who were financially unable to afford formula would dilute it with more water than necessary in order to make it last. As a result, babies would start to get sick. Doctors concluded that babies were getting sick due to the excessive amounts of water in the formula. Today, more doctors are urging mothers to not give water until the babies are much older. 

    That's one story. 

    It takes a lot of energy to feed from a bottle. I learned that from when my girls were in the NICU and were not gaining enough weight because the nurses put them on the bottle too early. Just imagine having a tiny stomach and learning how to suck, swallow and breathe simultaneously all on your own because you were born early. When they reached a certain weight, they were able to feed from the bottle without loosing any ounces. Some mothers tend to give babies a full bottle of water twice a day. Water does not have any nutrients for an infant and so much water digested will cause weight lost. Feeding from a bottle already takes a lot of energy and then the infant is not getting the right amount of nutrients from water to gain back the energy that they are loosing; not a great combination. 

    My godmother suggest (and we can agree to disagree) that although she does not agree that babies should not receive water, she thinks that they can have at least 2 ounces per day; the amount can be split up such as one ounce in the morning and one ounce at night. Water helps with constipation, which formula can cause. 

    As of today, I have officially started to give my girls water. We will see how it goes. What are your thoughts about water?

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    What are Sunset Eyes?

    When I took my girls for their two month old shot, the pediatrician said to me that my daughter Mya has a lot of white space in her eyes. "See, take a look," she said. I got up from the chair and I didn't notice anything odd about my daughters eyes. "She could have sunset eyes," the doctor said. I smiled but I was not sure what that meant. Sometimes, I have a tendency not to ask questions of information that I am unsure of. In this case, I was afraid of what the answer would be. However, after she noticed Milani, she then said, "Oh, that is just the shape of their eyes, she is okay." You might be wondering if I should change doctors, but honestly, she is very good. Yet, the sunset eyes comment kept plaguing me. I never heard about it before, but I am a new mom and their are many things I have not heard or experienced yet. I immediately called the doctor and had her explained to me what it was.

    Sunset eyes: the inability to look up. Infant's eyes appear to look only downward.
    Does Mya seem to look only down?

    Clearly she is looking up at the book.
    Does this look like she can't look up? Mya looks up all the time, and after practicing, I realized that there was nothing wrong with her.  Sunset eyes is also a common characteristic of Hydrocephalus.

    Buying a Crib, Maybe not the best idea

    The top essentials for a nursery, a changing table (although others would disagree), rocking chair or glider, crib and crib accessories. It sounds logical. In my experience as a new mom of twin girls, I must say, the crib could have waited. I would have thought that babies would just naturally sleep in a crib with out a problem, another misconception that I am learning as a new parent. Because premature babies stayed in the NICU they were accustomed to their own small space that reminded them of being in the womb. My girls did not share an incubator and were use to sleeping alone. When I bought Mya home, we did not have a crib yet so she slept in a pack n play. She was fine. We brought the crib and she was okay as well. As soon as we bought Milani home, things began to change. After their feeding, they would go to sleep. We would put them in the crib and close the door. Ten minutes later, they were back up again.

    After speaking with the pediatrician, he informed me it was okay for them to sleep in a bouncer or a swing because it was close knit and reminded them of being snuggled. They were too young to self sooth themselves, which is what a crib does. The crib is a lot of space that the girls were not ready for. As they are now three months, I have slowly tried to ween them back to the crib, but they wake each other up, to the point that we had to separate them. We still have to separate them.

    My suggestion would be to start with a bassinet; it is more affordable and it beats waking up every 20 minutes to console your baby and put them back to sleep. When they reach 4 to 5 months, a crib is a better deal. At three months, they sleep through out the night but if I put them in the crib, they do not sleep at all.

    If you decided to purchase a crib anyway, make sure it is a soft but firm mattress. If you have twins, I would suggest to get two cribs, it is common, in my case anyway, that they will wake each other up. As they slept in their bouncer and swing, they were next to each other, but one cries louder than the other. Eventually, we had one twin sleep in our room and in the middle of the night, bring them back to the nursery. I think we forget that just because they are twins, does not mean they are alike. Even though I do not get 8 hours of sleep like I use to, the hour I do have is much needed and keeping them in a place that will not wake them up, makes that hour feel like a dream.

    Some may think that placing them to sleep in a confined area will hinder their growth and development. It will not. My girls love the boppy but PLEASE do not let them sleep in it unless you are fully awake. They will wiggle their little bodies down and possible suffocate underneath the boppy. If you are fully awake, you can monitor them more carefully.

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    The Bottle Nipple Changes Everything

    I recently noticed that my twin girls were feeding very slowly, especially Milani who, in the NICU could finish a meal in a record time of 10 minutes. I figured that because we increased their feeding it would take them longer to complete however, 30 minutes for each baby plus more if Mya or Milani is still not satisfied is too long of a time.

    I read somewhere that natural bottle nipples are easier for babies to suck on than silicone nipples. Babies tend to have a better grasp on the naturals than the silicone. Today when I went to pick up the girls vitamins, I saw the natural nipples for the Gerbers First Essential bottles (which I love) for only a $1.00 and immediately purchased them. Of course for any nipple and bottle, I had to boil them in water for two minutes but i couldn't wait to try them. The girls latched on to them instantly; I felt like they were the same girls that I knew from the NICU. Milani finished her bottle in 10 minutes as well as Mya. I think because the nipple is a lot smaller and it is not as slow as the silicone one.

    In my previous blog, I wrote about the different types of bottles and which ones I liked the best. I have not tried Dr. Browns but I do not think it is necessary. It isn't about the bottle but what nipple is a perfect fit for the baby. I was using the Playtex bottles for them but they were not latching on as well as I would like. They took too long to feed on them and I hate the fact that I had to dispose the drop ins and purchase more. I don't mind cleaning bottles and for an inexpensive price Gerber's First Essential does the job. It reduces colic and is BPA as well.

    Bottle nipple changes everything.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Great Coupon Websites to help Save Money

    After delivering my twin girls on July 19th, I have been more aware of my savings and cutting cost. When I use to grocery shop, I would never pay attention to how I can save money on my products. Call it lazy but I was never too keen on cutting coupons or using them in the stores. As a new mother, I have noticed how quickly the main items such as pampers, formula (I supplement with breast feeding) and wipes decrease in quantity. I received a plethora of pampers at my baby shower on August 13th and now I am down to four packs of newborn, one pack of size one, a huge 132 box of size two and two unused packs of pampers preemies, which were a waste of money.

    As the economy tries to pick itself back up, I found these websites and offers to help parents save some money:
    Cutting out coupons is the past., a leading Internet company that provides paperless coupons  has partnered with participating grocery stores Pathmark, A&P, Waldbaum's, Superfresh, The Food Emporium, Cooke's, Harris Teeter, Price Chopper Northeast (Coming Soon) and BI-LO to make coupons available on the Internet and use in the stores. The best part about Zavers is that you can add the coupons to your advantage card from your local grocery store, therefore you do not have to print out the coupons all you have to do is scan your items and then scan your advantage card and the coupons will show up on your receipt. The website has Brand Coupons, which you can add any participating brand coupon onto your account as well Store Coupons, the coupons that your store has advertise. Zavers also gives you the option to print out a list of the items on sale to bring with you while you shop.
    To Join: You can sign up for online coupons either on your retailers website or on following these instructions:

    Look for an email from your retailer with instructions on how to activate your account.

    Click the one-time use link in the email and register your loyalty card number to start saving.

    To ensure delivery of your activation email, add to your trusted or safe senders list before you press send.

    Zavers also allows its customers to set up their account on their mobile device. You are able to find coupons and instantly add them to your rewards card in seconds all from your phone.

    Live Better Baby Club ( 

    Live Better Baby Club is the resource for everything baby. They have partnered with Pathmark, A&P, Walbaums, The Food Emporium and Super Fresh groceries in order for customers to sign up for free and  receive perks such as 10% off baby products, free prenatal and prescriptions vitamins and with the help of coupon source, you are also able to download coupons directly to your reward card from one of the participating grocery stores. On the website, they feature America's Choice products so I am unclear if the 10% is exclusively for their products or for any brand.

    Once you add your zip code, a list of stores appear
    Shows your Savings and Available Coupons
    The Coupon Network might be one of my favorite online resources to use. Unlike Live Baby Better Club and Zavers, you have to print out the coupons. You do not have to register your awards card to get deals. Once you register, you are asked to put in your zip code to find a list of participating stores such as Target or Shoprite. Once your zip code is added, a list of stores appear with google maps to pin point where the stores are located in your area or surrounding areas. By clicking on the blue icon, you can add as many stores into your favorite stores list, which will then compile a group of coupons for those stores. What I love the most about this site is that on the right hand side, it tells you how much you will save if you use all the coupons! has another great feature called Your bucks, which are dollar off rewards that you can use like cash at your favorite store. However, these are used when you buy items in big bulks.

    Similar to Coupon Network, Coupon Mom is a free sign up but has a plethora of deals and coupons. You can search for participating stores by clicking on your state and a list of the coupons are available for you to print. The website also has online coupons that you can use at any store, which actually takes you to another site called, drugstore deals and free samples. The site even includes a section to teach you how to coupon.

    Baby Product Sites 

    When you first became pregnant, you might have (or a family member) subscribed to various magazines such as Parenting Magazine or Baby Magazine. If you did, your in luck. For the first time you would be happy that these magazines sold your information to baby products because those companies will now send you free offers of formula, coupons to different stores and other great samples. If you have not subscribe it is not too late. If you go to Motherhood Maternity and purchase an item, the cashier will offer you a free magazine. Accept the offer but don't forget to call the magazine and cancel your subscription because they will bill you. Also when you purchase an item from Motherhood, they fill your bag with lots of coupon goodies. Sign up for free for strong moms on their web site and in a week you will receive exclusive  coupons and a couple of checks to use on any Similac Sign up for the reward and grow program and like Similac, you will receive coupons off diapers, wipes and exclusive offers. Carters will send magazines to your address with coupons attached to the back for at least 20% savings. I have never used but they will also send coupons to use only on their websites.

    Inside magazines: Don't forget to look for advertisements and deals in your favorite magazines or specifically parent magazines. You never know what goodies you may find.

    Don't Forget Magazines

    The good ol' fashion clipping of coupons from Sunday's newspaper, it never gets old.

    How to Organize Your Coupons 

    There are many ways to organize your coupons. It is hard to organize by date but I find using a binder with clear holders and organizing by category such as diapers, wipes, formula/food, clothes and accessories might work. However, whatever way you would like organize is up to you. Find a set up that you are comfortable with and will be able to control. If you keep the coupons in one big pile, you will miss deadlines and therefore miss a chance to save.

    Share your resources!

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    Did You Know...You Can Collect SSI for your Preemie?

    According to Supplemental Security Income, low birth weight babies may qualify for SSI disability benefits.

    When we think of the definition of low birth weight, premature babies come to mind. However, SSI does not specify whether a child is considered premature or not in order to qualify. Instead, SSI determines the qualifications of the child based on their birth weight. 

    SSI defines low birth weight as under 1,200 grams or under2,00 grams and small for gestational age. Below is the exact wording from the SSI web page:

    Social Security does provide SSI disability benefits to certain low birth weight infants, whether or not they are premature. A child who weighs less than 1200 grams (about 2 pounds, 10 ounces) at birth can qualify for SSI on the basis of low birth weight, if otherwise eligible. A child who weighs between 1200 and 2000 grams at birth (about 4 pounds 6 ounces) AND who is considered small for his or her gestational age may also qualify. For this second category of low birth weight infants, the following chart shows the gestational age at birth and corresponding birth weight that satisfies our “small for gestational age” criterion.

    Listed below is the gestational age criteria that your child must fall under in order to be considered for SSI benefits:

    37 - 40 weeks - Less than 2000 grams (4 pounds, 6 ounces)

    36  weeks - 1875 grams or less (4 pounds, 2 ounces)

    35 weeks - 1700 grams or less (3 pounds, 12 ounces)

    34 weeks - 1500 grams or less (3 pounds, 5 ounces)

    33 weeks - 1325 grams or less (2 pounds, 15 ounces)

    How to Apply For SSI for your Child  

    Click on the link that states "Apply for Disability Benefits for your child" on the SSI website. The link will take you to a page where you can fill out a disability report for your child online. The disability report asks information about your child such as medical history, why he or she is considered disable, date of birth, doctor names and social security. It is important to have the social security for your child, if not you will not be able to proceed with the application. The disability report takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete but SSI has made it easy for you to save it and come back to it later. Once you sign out of the report, you will be given a reference number. It is imperative that you write it down because SSI does not save it and will ask for it when you log back in.

    Once the disability report is completed, you must contact Social Security to start the application. The application is not available online. Then Social Security will determine your child's eligibility. This might take at least 2 to 3 months.

    More information is provided on the Social Security website at

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    Preparing for a doctors visit

    For new mothers, visiting a pediatrician can be overwhelming. You are not sure what to bring, what to ask or what to expect. After experiencing my first visit to the doctor for my twin girls Mya and Milani, I decided to compile a list of do's in preparing for a trip to the pediatrician.

    Assuming that you have already have picked a pediatrician that is familiar or specializes in premature babies, you want to get the following ready the day before the visit:
    • Discharge papers from the hospital: Before your preemie was released, the hospital provided you with a copy of the babies discharge papers, which had information about your baby's stay, any medical procedures that were needed, their weight at birth, head circumference, blood type and summary of their progress. 
    • Hearing Screen Test Results: The doctor will also provide you with a copy of the hearing screen test, which the results will say pass. The hospital will not release your baby if they did not.
    • Insurance card: Bring the baby's insurance card so that the doctor's office can make a copy. Make sure you are aware of the copay and be aware of the office payment policy. You can call to ask whether they take credit cards, personal checks, money orders and cash. 
    • Immunization Record: The hospital, with your consent, would have given the first immunization to your child at the hospital, which is Hepatitis B. The date and the type of immunization is recorded in a booklet that the hospital staff gave to you. 
    • Diaper Bag: The diaper bag replaces your purse. Anything and everything that you need such as your wallet, keys and cell phone should be placed in one of the pockets of the bag. Other than that, extra diapers, extra onesies, socks, hats, swaddling blankets, changing pad, pacifier and bottles of formula are necessities. 
    • Car Seat: All car seats come with a base that is placed in the car and makes it easy to pull and place the car seat. It is a great idea, if it is not already in the car, to attach the base in the back seat before the doctors visit. Make sure you have a blanket to cover the car seat while your baby is in it so that he or she is not exposed to any dust or germs.
    When scheduling your visit, make sure to get an appointment after 9 am but earlier than 1 pm. It takes time to get the baby ready as well as yourself ready. From experience, it is not realistic to make an appointment for 7:45 am and get there on time. Allow yourself time for traveling. If this is your first time going to the doctor, make sure you wrote down, placed it in your GPS and understand the directions. If you are like me, you are going to need at least an extra 30 minutes to get lost.

    Make sure you dress your baby appropriately. The doctors visit is not the time to dress your bundle in a cute four piece outfit. Keep in mind that the doctor will examine your baby from head to toe and you want to pick an outfit that is easy to put on and easy to take off. Remember, your baby is probably not going to like being exposed in a cold environment. A onesie, socks, a hat and two blankets to wrap the baby is more than enough.

    Happy Visit!

    Please share your story and any questions, contact

    Day at the Pediatrician

    6:47 am and my body alarm wakes me up out of a much needed cat nap. I jumped up realizing that the girls doctors appointment was in less than an hour. Since this was our very first visit (thanks to my sorority sister for giving us the referral) I did not have a chance to write down the directions. Looking at the time, I knew that I did not have time to feed them but merely 10 minutes to get both of my girls dressed, diaper bag ready, wake up my fiance, get myself ready and head out the door by 7:15 am (I Google the location earlier and knew that it would take 20 minutes). Yet life never works out like you plan. After getting everything ready, the time was 7:30 am and we hadn't put the car seats in the car. By the time we hit the road it was 7:50 am. Immediately I called the doctor's office to inform them that I would be a couple minutes late, which we all know that means 30 to 40 minutes late. Because I chose not to keep Milani's appointment at the hospital's clinic in Brooklyn, I had to make this pediatrician visit. Of course life was full of surprises yet again. The way the directions told us to go yield to mention that it was full of bumper to bumper traffic.

    Detouring, arguing with my fiance more than necessary (lack of sleep would do that) and car on E, we finally managed to make it to the doctor an hour later, not until we passed the office first and had to do a u-turn realizing that the office was not a building but a house office. Surprisingly, with only a sprinkle of babies and young children waiting, the doctors office was almost empty. A complete opposite of the hospital's clinic where I took Mya for her follow up, which was filled to capacity of snot nose children running around. Although freezing from the AC, the doctors office was calm.

    You and the nurse
    Before we saw the doctor, we met with the nurse who asked my fiance and I our medical history and the babies history thus far. Some of the questions were:
    About us
    1. Does anyone in your family smoke?
    2. Does anyone in your family have diabetes?
    3. Did you have any complications with your pregnancy?

    About the babies
    1. How many weeks were you when you delivered?
    2. What was their weight at birth?
    3. When were they born?
    4. How long did they stay in the NICU?
    4. What are their names?

    After the questions, the nurse asked us for the girls discharge papers, which gives detail information on about their stay and if any procedures were done, their immunization records and their pass hearing test information. Once she collected their paperwork, she first measured the circumference of Mya's head. Placing her on table, the nurse measured her length. Next, Mya (who had to be naked and hated it!)  was taken to another room where she was weighed. The same was done to Milani. The nurse left to make copies of the information and then five minutes later the doctor came in. He did a full examination of both the girls in which he examined:
    • Eyes 
    • Legs 
    • Private area 
    • Belly button
    • Chest 
    • Ears 
    • Any birth marks, dimples, etc. Mya and Milani both have dimples on the top of their ears like their father. Mya is on the right and Milani is on the left. 
    • Heart 
    The doctor told us that the babies looked wonderful for preemies. They were gaining weight and they were extremely healthy. Even though this was my second time at the pediatrician, I still was not sure what to ask. I did have a couple of questions already prepared but other than that I did not have much to say. Some of my questions were:
    • Can I increase their feeding? 
    • Are their belly buttons forming correctly? 
    • Is it okay to open a window in their room? 
    I thought because my daughters were born premature, that they needed to go to a specialize doctor. The hospital, for example, gave me several appointments for their eyes, development and heart. However, I was not sure if they still need to see a high risk doctor. After doing much research, a regular pediatrician will be fine for most preemies. Because the doctor did not see anything wrong with the girls, I do not see it necessary to proceed with a specialist. However, I did receive a referral just in case.

    The day started off full of stress and frustration, but the day ended with a doctor who I feel comfortable with and a great visit.

    Share your story!

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Must Have Bottles for your Preemie

    When my twin girls left the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) the nurse gave us a huge bag of goodies, which included a dozen hospital bottles that the girls were using during their stay. The first week home, I began using the hospital bottles only because they were so use to them and so was I. However, I realized that I could not use the hospital bottles forever. I received a plethora of baby bottles as gifts from my baby shower and I knew that I had to start using them, I was afraid of how the girls would receive them. As I noticed their sucking getting better during each feeding, I decided that I wanted to ween them off the hospital bottles. During the week, I began feeding my girls from the different bottles I received and decided that it might be a good idea to share with mothers of preemies what are the best bottles for their little ones.

    Some of the factors that I considered when I reviewed each bottle were:
    • Nipple size and firmness: In the NICU, the hospital bottles used standard and slow flow nipples. My girls did okay with the standard nipples but they did even better with the slow flow. Because they have to learn how to suck, swallow and breath simultaneously, my twins drank the milk very fast on the standard nipples to the point where they would forget to take a breather (they are much better at this now). The bottles that I were going to use had to have a slow flow nipple and as they got older, made faster flow nipples, which could be bought at the store. What I liked about the hospital bottles were the firmness of the nipples. If you have babies who like to hold their tongue at the roof of their mouth, like mine, you need a nipple bottle that is firm enough to bring their tongue down. A nipple that is too soft might make it difficult. 
    • Bottle Size: Right now, my girls are taken little over two ounces and just two ounces. An eight ounce bottle is too big. A four ounce bottle is a great size. 
    • Easy to clean: Because your baby is getting up every two to three hours, you need bottles that are easy to clean or do not have to do much cleaning at all. If you have multiples, this is an important factor. 
    Bottles that are great for preemies

    1. Playtex Nurser and Drop ins 
    My mother told me that she used Playtex Drop ins when I was a baby, however they are much simpler to use than back in 1986. What I love about the bottles is the use of the plastic drop in containers that are disposable after each use. This makes clean up a breeze. Playtex also provides slow flow silicone nipples and sell different level nipples as the babies progress in age. To replicate a mothers nipple, Playtex also sells the latex naturals. However,  I find the latex naturals are extremely soft and prefer the silicone, even though the silicone nipple is soft as well. The Playtex nursers reduces hiccups during feeding, leak free and the drop ins are pre-sterilized. What is great about drop in's is that it minimize air leakage. When there is air in the bottle, it causes painful gas and colic in babies. The Playtex nurser mimics breast feeding and if you are mother that goes back and forth from latching on to the bottle, this would be a great substitute.

    2. Gerber First Essentials
    My sorority sister purchased the Gerber First Essentials four ounce bottles and I had to do my research because I never heard of them. Then again, I am a first time mother so I had to do my research on plenty of products. These bottles are affordable costing $10.00 at Target. Similar to the Playtex nursers, the First Essentials reduces colic and provides a silicone nipple that prevents air leakage. The silicone nipples are much firmer than the Playtex nurser and the plastic bottle is light and easy to hold. However, the bottle is not made for drop in containers and therefore requires cleaning after each use. I find that my girls latch on well on the nipple and do not spit out the milk while drinking as much. In comparison to the Playtex, the First Essentials also provides a slow flow nipple and a middle flow nipple. Where as the Playtex bottles cost around $12.00 and the drop ins cost around $10.00, the Gerber First Essentials is the next best thing.

    3. Similac Hospital Bottles 
    The disposable bottles and nipples that the hospital uses are great starters since your baby is already accustomed to them. The bottles have measurements in Ml's, which helps see how much your baby has taken. The bottles come with slow flow or the standard nipples. The bottles and the nipples are suppose be thrown away after each use. Hopefully before you and your baby left the NICU and kind nurse gave you a hefty supply. If not, it is okay to use the bottles at least twice but must be sterilized before each use.

    After researching what other mother of preemies use. They suggested:
    • Dr. Browns
    • Avent
    If you have any stories about bottles that you use for your preemie, let me know. Happy sharing!
    *Next Blog, Preemies dribbling while feeding, is it the nipple or the baby's development?*