10 Mar 2013

I Survived an Earthquake! Parents of Preemies Day 2013.

One June afternoon the earth moved, the ground shook and the building I sat in swayed. For several moments I thought I was losing my mind, and then I thought I must be having a stroke, and then the shaking stopped almost as sudden as it began. I slowly crept out of my room and looked in the hall. No one was there. I was alone. I walked down the stairs for fear of becoming trapped in the elevator if the shaking started again. I wasn’t sure I had it right…had I just sat through an earthquake…or was I really losing my marbles? Everything seemed pretty usual down on the main floor of the building I was living. Nothing was tipped over or broken, but then I began to come across a few people here and there who had experienced what I had. I was not alone. Others in the building had absolutely no clue what I was talking about and didn’t understand what I or some of the others had felt. Those of us who did experience this unusual moment immediately began to recount our experiences and compared our stories. We wanted others to know what we had actually just lived through.

Does this sound familiar? It’s comparable to the rocky experience we preemie parents go through when our babies show up too soon and then afterward when we want to share our experience with the world. When my premature babies came along, I wondered, How could this actually be happening?…then Why did this happen to our babies…and there were days I wondered, Did this really just happen? Is this my reality? I found it hard to connect with other parents in the NICU because many of them, through no fault of their own, were not able to stay close by and so their babies were there with the nursing staff, while I was there pretty much every day chatting with our nurses, hanging out in quiet areas of the hospital and willing my babies to get better and be well enough to come home. I did find some great friends in the NICU— two other preemie mommies—whose babies were going through very similar struggles as our twins.  The three of us mothers were also there longer than many who came after us and left before us, so we shared that common bond as well. We “got” each others’ emotions; we could read each others’ faces…and minds. We knew each other’s deepest fears, without having to say a word. We were a mini support network without a label.

Eventually the three of our families made our way out of the NICU, each of us having experienced very trying times, although the reasons and exact experiences that led us to the NICU were very different. The main bond was the experience in the NICU—the emotions, the fears and finally the triumphs. I am glad to be able to call these two awesome moms my friends. 

Little did I know that day of the earthquake, June 23, 2010, which was almost two months into our twins’ NICU stay that I would be writing about it to compare the experience to the life changing experience of a NICU stay. I also didn’t know how much opportunity would arise after we came home from the NICU. I write this blog not only for parents of preemies and multiples, but for others who are curious or just want to know more about how to help families with premature children and how to identify with their unique needs.  After having 3 preemie kids my life was forever changed and I wanted to help parents going through the same preterm birth experience. The most common thing I hear from other parents of preemie babies is they compare it to a rollercoaster or some kind of a natural disaster—a tornado, a tsunami…an earthquake. It’s a life altering experience that can include the scariest moments of a person’s life. Ever.

Today is the 2nd Annual Parents of Preemies Day and I am happy to wish all my preemie parent friends a wonderful day and a virtual high five for kicking adversity in the butt and fighting through it all in the name of your babies. It’s a huge challenge, which in my case has been the greatest challenge of my life! Parents of preemies deserve a pat on the back and congratulations for making it through and for building a support network around themselves for when the going gets tough even after leaving the NICU because discharging a baby home doesn’t always mean parents have a well-baby at home.

So, to all the Parents of Preemies, I wish you much happiness today and for the future of your amazing families. 

Happy Parents of Preemies Day 2013!

1 Mar 2013

Twintrospectives is 2 Years Old!

I'm two years into writing my blog and I can hardly believe how quickly the time has flown by, as well as how fast my little preemie guys have been growing right in front of me!

When I started this blog my main goal was to be able to think out loud (or in text) and share my thoughts and opinions, trials and tribulations of raising three busy little boys, as well as the ups and downs of raising preterm babies.  I think it is safe to say I achieved this basic goal. I have reached people all over the world; Japan, Ukraine, Germany, Philippines, Ireland, Australia, Belarus, Russia, Canada, USA and so many more. It amazes me every day to see how many people are dealing with raising twins, preterm kids or are just interested in learning more about this amazing and inspiring world of prematurity.

When I started blogging what I didn't realize was how many people I would reach, how many new friendships I'd make and collaborations that would come from them and all in the name of prematurity awareness. It's awesome and I love this online, world-wide community I have found.

Taking my blog details to blog hops and onto Twitter has been so much fun and they've taught me so much about other parents and their experiences raising multiples, their prematurity experiences, parenting issues, questions and concerns, as well as the true camaraderie you can find by sharing these experiences.

Here's a little rundown of my first 2 years in the blog world:

In the summer of 2011 I wrote the first Parent Perspective blog post for Peek-a-boo ICU's blog, thanks to one awesome NICU nurse, Jodi, who gave me this opportunity. The topic I wrote about was pseudomonas aeruginosa. She also hosted my blog on her preemie parents blog roll for quite some time. I'm very grateful to her for the opportunity! Jodi also included my 3 precious preemies in her first photo compilation video, released around Mother's Day 2011. Here it is on the Peek-a-boo ICU YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wbr-X75iqOA. My little guys are seen in the hospital, as well as you'll see them in Future Heartbreakers red shirts, and again in blue bunny ears.

In October 2011 I was honoured to receive an online "award" called the Liebster Award from a woman by the name of Sharon in the NYC area. Sharon is a journalist and writes her own blog http://mamadoitall.blogspot.com. Right around the same time a "Blog on Fire" award came along. Although these are not tangible awards to put up on my mantle, they are very meaningful in that there are people out there taking the time to read certain blogs and letting fellow bloggers know, "Hey, you're doing a great job. Keep going!" I think the fact blog readers go out of their way to tell other bloggers they're doing well is such a great testament to what the blogging world is all about.  I'm very thankful for it.

Through Twitter and information sharing on prematurity and NICU support groups, Facebook pages and commentary on websites and blogs, I have connected with some pretty amazing multiple and preterm parents. I learned of The Painted Diaper, which popped up not long after the earthquake occurred in Haiti in 2010. This was another preemie mommy, determined to assist with the purchase and placement of a warming bed for preterm infants in Haiti. I also found a home on her blog roll. http://www.thepainteddiaper.com/

One thing I know about being a mom of preterm kids is this immediate urge to help others get through the stress and trauma of dealing with preterm infants in the NICU, as well as the aftercare experience - from how to get comfortable with feeding your baby through a tube at home without nurses around to dealing with all kinds of therapies and learning how to answer crazy questions coming from complete strangers.

In 2012 I found new connections with Multiple Births Canada and currently have an opinion blog post listed on their Media Inquiries page in relation to the EI Parental Leave for Multiple Births Families (in Canada) http://multiplebirthscanada.org/index.php/about-us/media-inquiries/

Most recently I blogged for the Canadian NICU Support Foundation on the topic of making it through the NICU with twins. http://cnsfoundation.blogspot.ca/

My blog hasn't been about making money or promoting products. That's not to say I wouldn't consider this if it was the right kind of product or idea, so I am definitely open to it. I did join Mom Central Canada as a blogger member quite some time ago and in February an invite came around that made sense for me to attend. I was able to head to the Eaton Centre in Toronto to attend Sears' Carter's Osk Kosh Launch Media Event, which several other "mommy bloggers" were invited to. There were about 20 of us there to meet the executive team that brought the line to Sears Canada. Carter's and Osk Kosh are actually my go-to brands of children's clothing because of their fun lines that come out each season and their durability, so I couldn't pass up this opportunity to meet other moms and of course...Shop!! I got to take some photos, make some new connections and share some fun new clothes with my kids when I got home that day. Here's the Carter's Osh Kosh line at Sears http://www.sears.ca/catalog/oshkosh-bgosh/100000776

And finally, because I am not already busy enough blogging for myself, my place of employment and other opportunities that I can get my hands on...I've started writing over at How Do You Do It? since this is a question I am asked on a daily basis by those who know me and complete strangers. http://www.hdydi.com/

I'm looking forward to many more years to come on Twintrospectives and I'm already planning some ideas for 2013. This month I will do a rundown of some of the more popular posts and add to or reflect on some of the ideas in them as well.

Thank you for reading and sending your friends and family my way.