Meeting Our Hero

THIS IS OUR HAPPY ENDING

AND BEAUTIFUL NEW BEGINNING

ALL IN ONE !!

I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I first heard this incredible man’s voice at 15 weeks pregnant.

Before him.. there was no hope. We were told Maurice had a devastating brain disease and that Peter had a severe heart condition in additional to facial abnormalities. They told us my sons had “multiple congenital anomalies” and we were told from a very well know maternal fetal medicine specialist at one of the best hospitals in NYC “ at this point most people just SCRAP the pregnancy and start fresh.” On top of all this the umbilical cord was missing a vessel and Maurice was 75% smaller than Peter and hanging off the placenta. We were in the very early stages of twin to twin transfusion syndrome and I had an anterior placenta ( this can make the surgery more complicated) Each visit , 3 different maternal fetal medicine specialists at the number one hospital in Manhattan continued to give a more horrid prognosis. When I asked about my developing twin to twin transfusion syndrome I was told bluntly “ we do not operate on unhealthy babies…” As the doctor walked out of the room. That was when I broke. All of this was only diagnosed through very early ultrasound. These conclusions they made were without a fetal echo or brain MRI.. yet they continued week after week to stress that my babies were suffering from “some genetic abnormality being expressed differently between them” and It is highly unlikely I will even have one healthy baby. It was made very very clear that at the very least I should “selectively reduce “ aka abort Maurice my baby B in order to “ save baby a”… after a few more weeks even that was seen as a poor option because of the heart condition they “saw” in Peter.

We were given no hope ..I desperately pleaded to other mothers who had similar complicated twin pregnancies in a social media group. I called the TTTS foundation and spoke with the founder Mary. I was given Dr Ruben Quintero’s cell phone number. An angel messaged me late Palm Sunday night and said “ if anyone can help you .. it is him.” I called and he answered. He spent over 2 hours talking to me that night… he said “ I cannot promise you your babies are ok.. but I will do everything possible.” There was no false hope … he gave me facts and educated me about the disease .. there was kindness and such humanity .. such love… how much his work meant to him… how much his babies meant to him. It was the first time anyone told me that they may be ok… it was the first time I was able to image holding my sons in my arms.

I almost didn’t believe it and called back the next day so my husband could hear … James knew as well .. we had no other choice but to go to Miami and meet Dr Ruben Quintero. We were on a plane that night and saw him first thing in the morning.

That choice will forever be the moment that changes our lives. Our sons are here because of him.. because of his incredible team…

He is genius a Yale graduate known for creating the field of operative fetoscopy. He develops surgeries that can be performed in utero. He has invented serval surgical procedures including the amniopatch and SLPVC ..the surgery that saved my boys when they suffered from twin to twin transfusion syndrome. His latest is a fetoscopic repair spina bifida. His inventions and new surgical techniques gives hope to people who have none. He saves babies. Because of him they are given a chance … and women given a chance to become a mother. It is his passion … and his is a genuine healer and we are blessed to have found him.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for him and for my miracle babies. He is not only their doctor but also a friend. He has true joy seeing his babies grow.

This is the moment when we all met our superhero. This is the moment I have dreamed of for so so long. The amount of gratitude we have for him can never be put into words. We are planning a reunion for all the mothers and babies he has saved.

Thank you Dr Ruben Quintero and Dr Eftichia Kontopoulos for you devotion to medicine and to our babies. We are so blessed.

NICU awareness Month: Our true one year ( sept 6 was our due date )

I dreamed of you growing ..

you were so so small

And dreamed of you breathing ..

without endless tubes plugged into a wall

From there …I prayed

Your heart would keep beating

Our moments together in the NICU always felt so fleeting

Finally you came home …

our life was so complete

Your beautiful sweet sisters and cousins here for you to officially meet

And I began to dream again….

Of the wonderful things you would do

Would you be able to walk, stand or crawl ..

no one could tell us still ..

I dreamed even more … prayed..

And sometimes just wished

That the day would come

When you could walk over to me

and just simply give me a kiss

My incredible darling sweet boys

I can see it now

You are crawling and standing

and it’s all a miracle how ..

How I always saw you in dreams …

It is all coming true

There are no words

Just WOW to all that you do

I believe in miracles..

I have no doubt that they are true

I believe in angels

I know they sent us the wonder and beauty of you

To our angels that saved our life especially Dr Quintero

To our hero’s that supported us along our fight

I know miracles are true my boys because I have you ❤️

To all the mamas in the NICU NEVER LOSE HOPE and to my precious boys I love you more than you could ever know

Peter James 1170 grams twin A ttts recipient 52 days in the NIcU

Maurice Jase 790 grams 28 weeker baby b 93 days in the NICU

28 weekers ( Peter (1170grams)!on the left maurice (790 grams)! on the right

Thank you so much Deana of Bellacosa Photography for these captures I will forever Cherish https://www.bellacosaphoto.com/

Father’s Day 2019

Always safe in your arms

Peter last year to the last picture peter today❤️

your dad would be so proud of the son, husband and father he made !

Thank you to Papou for these gifts and all our blessings I know you are always with us❤️

Breathe and Believe – Your Special Day

Tomorrow we celebrate you my boys💙💙

You be surrounded by so much love.. your God Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends and family.. they will all fill the space with such happiness and joy.. it is such a beautiful feeling. The room becomes radiant.

The day is special for so many reasons..

It is your first party and only 9 days away from your first birthday (you will learn we love a good party and will find any little reason to celebrate)! And this party we get to have alongside Jonathan! The relationship you share with your cousins is indescribable. You will grow together and this is the first of so many milestones. Your auntie is my lifeline.. my very best friend. I pray you and your cousins will always cherish each other like siblings and have the same bond we do.

In a few hours, you will be baptized together. We will officially welcome you into the Catholic religion.  

In my heart, what this truly means to me, is that we are giving you the amazing gift of Faith.  

The gift of Faith gives us a conviction of things not seen..

it allows you to believe even when things don’t make sense.. when you don’t have anything tangible to hold onto.  

You can’t see it, but it is as real to you as if it were visible.  You understand things that defy human logic.  

It allows you to believe in something more powerful than yourself.. to believe in miracles .. 

It is the kind of faith that can provide Devine protection from danger.. the faith that can move mountains.  It is what you call upon when you need prayers from Nannie. It is healing. It is love.  

With this power, your life expectations are transformed … The Bible even says, “All things are possible to him who believes.”

But I find it so ironic.

We are gathering to give you this gift .. this incredible power..

when, in reality..

YOU are already the complete embodiment of it.

You , my beautiful sons, are living miracles.

From the very first moment, I “saw two” .. you shared your gift with me and everyone around you.

You have given me a renewed faith.

I knew you were meant to be here.  When medicine and top experts told us otherwise ….I could see you here with me in my arms

we did not give up.. 

I knew it with every piece of my heart…

You would grow to be strong and healthy.

I believed it.  Your daddy believed it. Even after losing Papou, your guardian angel, he was always a constant strength. He juggled work, setting up offices in our multiple hospital rooms, so he could always be with us. Without hesitation .. your nana and auntie took care of your sisters and gave them so much love so we could fly back and forth getting the best care in the world.  They all supported every decision no matter how crazy it sounded or how much more work it meant they had to do. Your papa even sat by our side everyday in the NICU so I could be strong for you.. thank you will never be enough .. all of you .. it had to come from above.

Angels appeared and helped us along this journey.  Strangers supporting us becoming friends.. Dr Quintero was the first to give us hope… Later.. more Angel healers, like my Joan, would come into our life and give us strength.

We had to trust and believe in things unseen .. choose to take risks no parents should ever have to take.. but we did it all ..because We. JUST. KNEW.

Tomorrow as I watch the priest pour the holy water on your heads and bless you.. as I watch you receive this new gift from the Holy Spirit .. the miracles and wonders of faith ..

the truth is …your own lives ..

from the very first moment you existed ..

is the pure expression of it.

You are FAITH. You are LOVE. You are MIRACLES.

I continue to share your story in hopes that people are inspired as you have inspired me.

My babies, I pray today and always, you truly receive these gifts and that you always believe something incredible is about to happen.  

As we all go along thinking we are planning our life.. remember to try and let go and believe that god’s plan is better than anything you could have ever imagined.  Just breathe and believe.. all things are possible to him who believes!

I love you both so much thank you for the gifts you have given me❤️ May God continue to bless you always

“Every good and perfect gif is from Above” James 1:17

Boys Custom Baptism Outfits: https://christiehelene.net/

Photos: Bella Cosa Photography: https://www.bellacosaphoto.com/

Our 1 year anniversary

This tiny scar ..

how something so small could represent so much❤️

one year ago today I knew something was wrong .. I couldn’t breathe .. I had contractions.. I was in labor.. I went to the hospital .. the ultrasound confirmed ..

it we had TTTS. ..

Peter had so much fluid and was in heart failure ..

Maurice , weighing less than a pound , had nothing and was “stuck. All of his organs were failing as well… we had two choices deliver immediately or fly to Miami to our miracle doctor. If we delivered the boys had a very low chance of survival . They were in so much distress ..

I just remember praying .. so so hard..

That night they gave me drugs to stop my labor and we flew.. the next morning one year ago today I had a life saving surgery by Dr Ruben Quintero. In less than 24 hours peters heart normalized and Maurice’s kidneys began to work. We were able to continue our pregnancy and our boys gained vital time to grow.

It is this little tiny scar .. this permanent mark .. a forever reminder of their strength and our angel Dr Quintero💙💙 #tttssurvivors

My Heart

There is a saying,.. “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ….their joy, happiness, sorrow.. you experience it all simultaneously with your baby.. your hearts beat as one. Any mother can tell you …their smile fills you with more happiness than your own.

..but unfortunately, at times life brings more .. there is also pain. When your child is suffering it is the most excruciating visceral feeling you can imagine….It’s so deep .. it’s unbearable. Words cannot do it justice.

For the past few days, my sweet Peter has been suffering. His brain has been sending abnormal signals to his body causing uncontrolled movements putting him at significant risk. The episodes are brief ..he cries and stiffens up for a few seconds. It doesn’t look like anything more than a little temper tantrum or “colic.”

The last few times he was on his belly.. his legs extended and his arms flexed….he was crying .. but he is learning to crawl.. it’s that what babies do when they learn to crawl? They kick out their legs?? They get frustrated .. they want to be held.. especially my Peter.. my snuggler.. he loves being held and is always a little resistant to prolonged tummy time. It can’t be anything bad.. he looks so good.. he’s getting so much better .. how could it be anything bad.

My mom was the first to notice it. She told me she saw him “acting a little funny” .. he “wasn’t himself for a few seconds”.. at the time he also had a cough and runny nose. I didn’t make much of it .. he was playful and eating .. everything seemed fine. The next day she said she saw it again.. it was quick and he was on his mat when his head went down and legs extended for a few seconds. Now I’m starting to get concerned, but other that, and his little cold, nothing seemed different. I called the neurologist and her nurse told me they will put in an order for an eeg to measure the electrical signals in the brain and mri to check the structure and she gave me the numbers to schedule the tests. I immediately called both numbers .. no one answered and I left messages. She didn’t want to bring me in and said the next appoint was months away. “Just try to get it on tape” she said over and over. His personality, eating and sleeping habits .. everything was all the same.. if they are not that worried I guess it must be ok?

The next day my mother said she saw it happen about 5 times.. now my mind starts running .. repeat episodes .. I feel sick and I’m scared. It’s starting to sound like something .. something very very bad. I sit by his side and watch his every movement.. and then I see it happen.. he’s playing and suddenly starts screaming and crying.. he stiffens like a board .. opposite extremities extended.. it lasts seconds .. the crying continues for about a minute but the actual stiffness is brief. Unless you are touching his muscles it is almost impossible to recognize what is going on. I am able to get it on tape. And just as fast as it came .. it went.. he was back to his normal self playing .. eating .. maybe spitting up a little more than usual.. maybe when I start to look back .. but he was also congested from his little cold. It can’t be .. it just can’t be…. it was late .. my plan was to call neuro again in the morning. How my mother picked up on this .. she told me “I know him .. something is going on. ” The only thing better than a mother’s instinct is a nana’s! Thank god for her.

We had an early therapy session that morning. I show our angel therapist who knows Peter since he came home from the NICU. She’s also very concerned but can’t tell much from the video. Watching it again with her it really looks like nothing. If they won’t see you sooner just go to the ER”, she suggested. I value her opinion. Call your pediatrician and just go! She educated me on the different types of seizures in babies and explained that even those brief little movements could be something very dangerous. We have our therapy session at home as usual and Peter is his normal self. There are no changes in his ability or tone.

Right after, I call to schedule the eeg again like I was advised to do by the neuro nurse. “We don’t have an order here for you”.. they said. Great no order .. so I can’t schedule.. “our next appointment is sometime late next week if you can get the order we can do it then” …ok .. Again, I call the neurologist and I get the nurse .. I sent the video .. she tells me they didn’t get it. I told the nurse no order was put in and she again told me she would take care of it and to just call and schedule. I couldn’t wait anymore.. day three of me calling .. the same concern my 28 weekers preemie may be having seizures.. ( but his eyes aren’t rolling back and it really doesn’t look like a seizure .. so it can’t be that bad right?) it’s getting worse I need to speak to the doctor now. Day three and I still haven’t spoke to his neurologist. Reluctantly she told me she would have her call me.

A few minutes later .. it’s our doctor. She’s concerned and suggested going directly to the emergency room. She told me she would call ahead and have neurology ready to admit us and do a three day video eeg monitor. They would check the electrical activity in his brain with the eeg and have a continuous video to compare the readings on the eeg with the actual body movements. She also suggested they would do the MRI of the brain to check for any structural abnormalities.

I bring my baby boy to be admitted to the hospital. Every single thing .. from the smells to the florescent lights brings back the horror of the NICU. I’m so afraid for my boy. I. D.o.n.t want to be here.

We are admitted.. he is brought to a room and tiny electrodes are glued to his head. It’s wrapped in a long stocking and connected to a fanny pack. He hates it. He is so uncomfortable. The camera follows him everywhere. I’m stuck between praying it happens so they can actually see what is going on and wishing I am just overacting and there is nothing at all. I make James stay home to watch the rest of our tribe. “I’m fine,” I keep telling him. He saw the video as well and thought it was nothing.

We got lucky the doctor on call was the head of the pediatric neurology department. I meet him and immediately have a sense of relief. “He looks too good..” I know I know I was thinking the same thing !! He looks so good it can’t be…

A few hours later the nurses change shift. The new nurse comes in to meet us and Peter starts to suddenly cry… it starts. He is crying.. he stiffens .. this time it’s worse and his eyes flicker.. I tape it .. I just want to make it stop .. the eeg and video is recording his every move… is it a seizure?? .. the nurse is not sure either.. I press the button .. they tell me to press a little red button any time I think there is an event to highlight it on the report. It’s quick and he’s back to himself. The nurse reassured me the doctor sees everything happening. Ok. No one else came in.. maybe it is really nothing? This was about 8:45.

He finally gets comfortable and falls asleep. It’s now 11pm. He’s in his crib doing his usual tossing and turning when a resident comes rushing in. “The Doctor is watching from home and said he’s having multiple seizures. He needs medication immediately to get them under control..” I call James.. I need you now. My mother stayed so James could leave. What is it ..what type ..what is happening, “the doctor will explain it to you in the morning..” she said .. “right now I have to give him this medicine to make them stop”. She continues to tell me in the morning he will need to be sedated to have an MRI. She answers all questions with the doctor will explain more in the morning. I just held him .. crying.. praying his brain is ok.. praying .. just praying the same prayer I have prayed over him 1000 times before.

The next thing I know James is with me. His presence immediately gives me some relief. I watch Peter’s every movement… holding on to the button and pressing it with every little twist and turn. Every cry .. can that be it.. is something happening .. it’s pure panic.

The next morning the doctor comes in and explains Peter has epilepsy. His brain is sending abnormal signals. We sedate him for the MRI and the results come back almost immediately… normal .. “that’s what you want”… the doctor tells us .. “the best situation is having no reason at all….if you find a reason it’s usually a much worse prognosis. ”

No reason.. none. His brain is normal.. they just happened out of no where… it’s almost impossible for me to accept. The why’s and how’s just keep circling.

His plan is to monitor him on his new medication and as long as there is no seizure activity we go home. You can live your life as you usually do, he said .. no restrictions at all.

After a few days, here we are.. home. It seems that the medication stopped the seizures. His eeg has been normal and we will just continue this medicine. It’s almost like a bad dream. There is even some hope that in a few years, as long as he remains seizure free, we may be able to stop it. Please make them stop.

I’m so worried about my beautiful son.. I do not want to take my eyes off him. The doctor reassured us that his prognosis is as good as it could be. He has no signs of cognitive delay and no signs of brain damage on any of the imaging. God please make it stay this way. You are so incredible and so strong my perfect son.

I feel you my precious boy…. not only your struggles .. I feel your love and strength . I am so proud of you … my heart and yours are forever entwined ..a reason to hold you even closer now

… it’s ironic how you need sadness to know happiness.. noise to appreciate silence and absence to value presence..

We will not take a single moment for granted .. you are our gift… our miracle.. our greatest decision.

Happy birthday to My Mama

F51D2C0D-71D6-4341-8575-7BC4575BDDF1
I am able to stand stronger
because you hold me

I am able to love deeper
because you love me

I am able to have faith
because you believe in miracles

I am able to see beauty in everything
because you show me

I know the meaning of family
because you teach me

I am able to succeed
because you are my cheerleader

I am able to be the mother I am
because I am blessed to have you guide me

Happy birthday to my angel mother

My best friend

I pray I give my children the same gifts

you continue to give me

You are the center of our world ❤️

the glue that holds us together ❤️

I love and appreciate you more than you will ever know

Your Beautiful Perfect Heart

Last March at only 17 weeks pregnant I was told my boys were not going to survive. They said Maurice had a devestating brain disease and my “healthy baby” baby A (Peter) had a very bad heart .. along with unhealthy blood flow -abnormal diastolic flow- .. they said his face was distorted and his jaw very small.. in light of the other issues going on ( Peter was 100% larger than Maurice) .. I was advised termination and told Peter would not survive because of his heart condition.. Columbia told me they had a “genetic condition being expressed differently between the two boys”…. they would not even address the twin to twin transfusion syndrome because “I did not have healthy babies and the surgery was only to save healthy babies “.

..by god’s grace we never gave up and found an angel doctor who assured me the boys would be ok.. although Peter was in full heart failure at delivery .. his incredible body has now completely reversed any sign of damage.. his aortic stenosis which was very close to requiring surgery, his left ventricular hypertrophy and his PFO all gone.. nothing.. just a NORMAL PERFECT HEART ❤️ aortic stenosis does not just “go away ” like that … but what they think happened was that the enlarged heart was so significant it made the valve look worse than it really was. His heart had to pump against all the extra blood and fluid for so long . He was the recipient in the transfusion syndrome.. causing his little body to have an overload and his heart muscle having to work much harder than it should have. The extra work caused the muscle to grow. The valve’s malfunction was a direct result of the thickening ( not true aortic stenosis) Now, that his heart doesn’t have to work as hard, the muscle was able to relax and returned to its normal size. The valve also now appears to be working as it should. We are very very lucky.

I cried the happiest tears .. Peter is officially a cardiac graduate !! 💪🏻❤️

Maurice still has a little more to go but he will ok! Soon enough xx how I prayed for this child ❤️ Dr Ruben Quintero with all my heart thank you.. for never giving up on my sons

We flew to Miami and Dr Quintero had set up a meeting with a Cardiologist. i will never forget her voice or what she said.. ” your son is going to be ok…” She explained he had normal variant and it was nothing to be concerned about. I must have asked the same question 100 times and her response was always the same.. he will be ok.

And yesterday I heard those same words again.. he is OK. Normal .. Perfect… it’s impossible to put into words what it felt like.. i know angels are watching.. my incredible miracle babies how I prayed for this day

Sibling Love and Mothers Gulit – 8 Months

About this same time last year, I started to really believe we were going to have two more babies.. 

before all the crazy began…. before I knew what the words Twin to Twin Transfusion syndrome or NICU really meant.. before I knew how it felt like to hold a one pound baby.. before I knew the miracle of fetal surgery.. when I thought our biggest problem was finding the right size car ( it’s not an easy task when you need 4 car seats)

.. never in a million years imagining I would soon be standing next to a plastic box for months praying for your survival ….. before I knew how much my heart would melt when you smile ..before I knew the painfully beautiful journey the was ahead of us ..

I was just beginning to wrap my head around the idea of adding two more babies to our family .. we would basically have 4 kids under 4 years old.

I was so happy and petrified all at the same time. You start to learn this combination of emotions from the highest high to the lowest low all at the same time.

And as I started to picture all 6 of us .. I also started to get a strong dose of the infamous mother’s – guilt. If your a mom I’m sure you have had a helping of this at some point. Mothers- guilt shows itself at the strangest times. You want siblings for your children but you are also afraid of losing that special one on one time with your first baby… So scared of how this change will affect them and how they will adjust.

For me, it was inevitable. I had it when I was pregnant to Juliet, my second baby… focusing and worrying about how it would change Mia’s life. How would I give my first born the attention she “needed?” Mia was was my first, and like all firsts, she was the center of it all .. she was researched and documented ..every movement.. my whole world revolved around her.. how could I possibly give my toddler and a newborn that same attention..  I knew things would change.. and change can always be a little frightening.

My second pregnancy ( like most things in my life) was planned. It was everything I dreamed of ..two healthy babies .. baby girls.. two years apart. My sister and I are 2 years and 15 days apart and my girls are 2 years 6 days.  I wanted to have all my babies before the age of 35 ( pregnancy can become more difficult after that and there is a higher rate of complications and .. guess what else .. TWINS- about 5 % chance – another reason I should play lotto ) .. but two months after Juliet .. I turned 35. My plan came to life. My sister is my very best friend and I just kept reminding myself of that.  Envisioning their relationship … how beautiful it would be for my daughters to have what we share. But mixed in my excitement was still this feeling of guilt…

My hospital experience with my second was so different than my first.  Mia was an easy delivery.. a few pushes and there she was .. right into my arms.. and there she stayed ..for the next 2 years.  My second delivery was an emergency c section.  Juliet turned breech as I started to push and was in danger.  Luckily our doctor was able to get her out safe with a classical c section.  It is a larger incision which gives much more access to the baby and is typically done in emergency circumstances.  I was terrified but Juliet came out perfect.  I felt that same unconditional love pour all over me instantaneously but I was still worried and just wanted to be the best mom to both my girls … a few days later it was time to take her home… 

……and then…

just like all amazing things mommies do….

you just do it.. ( as Linda would say 😉) but my mom is right whenever I ask her, “How do you do what you do”.. she will always answer, “You just do.. you do what you have to do for your kids ..” 💕

you magically divide yourself .. with your stomach stapled together .. still burning and too painful to stand up straight.. you just do it …giving everyone what they need .. breastfeeding and holding a baby with one hand, while coloring a new art project with the other .. and at the time, I was still managing my career..  it’s crazy but you do it all and it’s so incredible!!

I was far from those Instagram super moms that are back in a bikini looking amazing the next day.. It took me a while to get back to myself.. I lived in sweats for a long time and rocked a messy bun way longer than I should have… but my girls were happy… and I was too.

We just started getting our groove .. in a rhythm .. as my sister called it, “Stella Finally Got Her Groove Back”.. I didn’t need a diaper bag.. (the struggles I had packing that bag.. I always would forget something) now I could throw a few diapers in my pocketbook .. leave some in the car .. Maybe take a juice box.. and we were off. I finally lost my baby weight .. skinny jeans were back on .. my body and mind strong.. I was back into my yoga practice .. that whole newborn stage was becoming a memory.. I loved every stage but now my girls are my little besties.. their personalities coming out.. our lunch dates .. manis.. play dates ..just having conversations .. we can hang out and were having so so much fun.  

But suddenly   ….. it happened … surprise you are pregnant.. and then.. even better .. surprise it’s TWINS.  This time around .. it was a whole new ballgame.  There was no plan.. none.. I never pictured our family with any more babies.. ( other then the ones my sister kept having.)  She always wanted a big family.. and as nice as that sounded .. I didn’t think I would ever be able to do it .. everyone at different stages.. it just seemed impossible ( and a little crazy) Mia and Juliet had each other.. I thought we were complete…. but I was so wrong. There was a plan, except this time it wasn’t mine… it was from a power much greater than me.. it was a plan much more beautiful than anything I could have created.

But how would my girls adjust to this? Two new babies on top of a toddler and a 4 year old?? Juliet was still in diapers .. Mia just starting school.. they both love to play .. and are no where even close to independent … infants require nonstop attention.. and the sleepless nights .. then teething .. and to think it’s all doubled! How could this ever work.. what would it do to my girls? 

Mom guilt showed up hard and strong.  

I almost felt sorry for them.. my girls .. all that they would “miss out” on.  A few weeks later .. I started to discover the boys were sick.. and then I became sick.. bedrest.. the traveling back and forth to Florida.. oh it was bad.. I wanted to give the girls so much and I just couldn’t.  The entire summer was spent in the NICU.. and I again had a c section so there was no swimming,  no beach, no pool.. my heart and head constantly torn between enjoying my beautiful girls in whatever moments I could steal and thoughts of my twin boys fighting for their life inside a plastic box.  Luckily my mom, dad and sister stepped in and made sure my daughters didn’t feel any of this .. my husband and I were a true team .. I learned a whole new appreciation for the word family.. but, at least for me, it was so hard to make the Guilt stop.  They didn’t deserve any of it.  They needed me.

As much as I worried about my sons.. I worried about my daughters.  The main thing that kept me sane all those months was over and over again hearing my sister and mother tell me ” I have your girls .. they are happy.. just worry about the boys..” Just writing those words brings back tears. My sister is truly a second mother to my daughters. She was pregnant at the time and had three boys of her own… and still not a day went by when she didn’t ensure my daughters were ok.. and not just ok but happy and having fun.. and feeling very loved. She is my angel. And when I was in the hospital with my sons .. whether it was a “good day” or one of the many bad days.. I knew I could be present for them.  And when I would come home I was able to do the same for my girls… …and like a switch …. you would go back and forth ….trying to live two lives.  

The word Guilt took on a whole new meaning.. as a mother it’s hardcoded into us.. all day long .. for not reading that book one more time after you have already read it 100 times that night …but in little amounts its normal and not always such a bad thing. It can push you to be your best in tiny doses.  But then there is a different kind of guilt .. it is ugly and unfair… it is when you blame yourself for situations that are completely out of your control.  

When you have a preemie in the NICU you could write a book about the things you blame yourself for .. I’m sorry my body wasn’t able to keep you safe longer.. I’m sorry I can’t kiss you goodnight every night.. I’m sorry I have to leave you in a hospital everyday with strangers taking care of you .. I’m sorry I couldn’t do more.. I’m sorry I’m able to walk away and leave you here .. I’m just so so sorry you are suffering …

As much as you may want to ignore or deny it.. I’ve always found it more productive to acknowledge these feelings that start to pop up.. let yourself feel whatever it is.. try to give it a name…. whether it be guilt or fear or sadness .. it doesn’t mean these feelings will be there forever…. but once you recognize it and validate it, you can start the hard part of processing and working through these emotions. If you just try and suppress it, many times, it will just come back with vengeance.  For me, connecting with other mothers who understand is a life saver.  It is even better if you find someone in a situation similar to yours ( please anyone going through this know know you can reach out to me) Unless you have lived through it .. no one knows what it feels like.  

It’s almost a full year now.. from when we were told we were having twins to today.  So much has changed .. but still so much has stayed the same..

I am mommy.. not just a mother but mommy.. the title itself gives you some kind of superpower.  To multitask like no other.. to function on no sleep.. to be a chef, personal assistant, teacher, nurse, housekeeper .. the laundry the grocery shopping.. even down to reminding them when to pee so it goes in the potty and not their pants .. yes we do it all… it is the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever done. The payment… not in dollars…but love … and it is your greatest achievement.

Through this I have learned so much, not only about myself, but also about my children. With all these jobs… one of the things I have learned is that it is not my job to entertain them 24/7. Children need to be loved and taught right and wrong ..and they also need to learn how to entertain themselves. For whatever reason, I believed this was my job.. but I know can see that them learning to entertain themselves is one of the best things I can do. We play .. I love to play ..but I’m no longer feeling the need to organize and orchestrate their fun every minute of the day. I can see that doling our activity after activity .. planning their every move .. it just robs them of their independence… hinders creativity. Think back to your childhood.. how much you used your imagination.. “go play in the backyard” .. and we would.. for hours.. pretending the screws on the shed were magic buttons .. catching fireflies .. playing tag… things were simple and in my opinion better in many ways. Over-parenting.. hovering.. it’s suffocating .. and hinders growth. I’m still involved and having fun but approaching it a little different.

I don’t know how it is even possible but having my boys showed me a new love for my girls.  They are not the little girls I wanted to feel sorry for… they are not being deprived in any way.. it is the exact opposite. 

They are full of so much love for their brothers.  Peter and Maurice adore them.  I have given them double the cuddles, double the hugs, double the love.  It has made them better.. they are more compassionate .. more understanding.. more independent .. more patient.  My girls are kind and giving.  Juliet is so tender a natural healer.. and Mia so intuitive.. she is able to stop their crying in an instant. They help me .. not just with getting diapers and supplies.. but they actually helped me heal.. the guilt I held on to.. the story I created …. like so many stories we create about ourself … it was so wrong

If I only had a glimpse of what our life would be like.. how your sisters love to hold you and rock you to sleep.. how they run for a pacifier the second they hear you cry.. how they love to tickle you and make you laugh… what it feels like to hear all four of you giggle at the same time.. the way their eyes light up when they kiss you each morning and night..

If I only knew then …I would have understood it’s not what I was taking away from you.. it was all that I was giving to you.. the amount of unconditional love you all receive is immeasurable and was just multiplied by two. You now forever have two new best friends who will be by your side like no other … and this is just the beginning .. 

my babies the greatest gift I could ever give you is each other .. your siblings … your very best friends… the ones who will always be there for you no matter what… as my sister has always done for me … forever cherish it 💗💗💙💙as you do now.