Some thoughts on this parenting gig - as the twins rapidly approach their second birthday.
I thought it was great being the mother of twins in their first year – now I look back and think of that first year as the hardest. Learning as a first time mother what on earth to do with these strange critters, coping with medical appointments and learning about EI and what needed to be done to best help Hannah reach her milestones. I remember how happy I was when she sat on her own at 10 months – I was ready to break open the champagne!
The twins had three weeks in special care – I had some difficulty getting Hannah to breastfeed but eventually we got our acts together without too much trouble. When she was 2 months old she had to have heart surgery for a complete AVSD – I think the doctors and surgeon were concerned that she would struggle if they left the surgery until after the Christmas break when the hospitals operate on a skeleton staff and so they scheduled her op for the first half of Dec. The surgery went well but there were some complications afterwards. We were told that she would ‘take off’ after the surgery but I didn’t experience that until she was about 5 or 6 months old.
This year I have returned to work part time. The twins are in child care two days and with their grandmother the other. On Tuesdays we go to EI – where there are two other babies in our group – one of whom has DS. As you can see Hannah is absolutely gorgeous! I have found that we have established a good rhythm this year.
She is progressing well and meeting her milestones – at her own pace. Her muscle tone is low and although I am really hopeful that she will be walking by Christmas I know that I might have to rethink that a bit as the time draws closer – no extension past Easter though!
We sign with the twins at home and that has been a fun way to help both of them communicate. They still get frustrated but if a word is not clear the accompanying sign really helps. Hannah is just starting to use two word phrases – her speaking is not always clear but she does attempt a good range of words. I found it useful to use signs when reading to them – they have a good collection of books (especially about animals) that they love. It is a good way for us to see that Hannah’s receptive language is much greater than her expressive language at this stage.
I have also been aware of helping her get her drawing and painting skills up to scratch – she now draws more lines than dots and is starting to attempt arcs and circles.
As she has grown, like her brother, her individual personality has become more obvious. Two aspects of this that I love are her cheeky ways and her gentleness. For example, she loves to tease her brother. He is so much bigger, stronger and more capable in many ways than her but she can have him crying because she has stolen one of his toys and is holding it above her head supposedly out of his reach –all the while with a big grin on her little face. The other side is best demonstrated by an incident that happened just last week. I was minding a friend’s nine month old the other day – and holding him on my lap to soothe him. Kit was in front of me crying because he wanted to get on my lap. Hannah climbed up next to me and was rubbing my back – as I was rubbing baby Hugos.
I guess I have learned to relax a bit more about things – she is doing so well – she is a perfect member of our family just as she is. Our friends and family have all accepted her and provide a great support for us and for her. She has a wonderful relationship with her Nan. I have learned that the main differences between her and her brother are those caused by personality more than anything else. I feel like I am getting the hang of all this EI – it comes more naturally with practice. I know that there will be times ahead that I am dreading – like letting her go out into the wild world of preschool and heaven forbid primary school – but those issues are in the future and I have begun to establish good networks – a mix of professionals and family that I can trust to help and guide us as we need – we will be ok – I know that more surely now. I know it more surely now because I have confidence in Hannah – in her determination, in the fact that she deserves the best and will thrive if we give her the opportunity to do so. So yes the future is still scary but it is also exciting, just as it is with her brother Kit.