I was listening to a podcast the other day about DNA testing and how people are excited about connecting to their relatives through a DNA database. I paid particular attention at one point when egg and sperm donors were mentioned. With this technology, egg and sperm donors who wish to keep themselves anonymous will not be able to keep their identity under wraps. That means people like my children who have been conceived with the help of donor eggs have the means to find the people to whom they are genetically linked. They will be able to see who contributed to 50% of their DNA and those that share their DNA. I have never wanted to keep my children’s conception story a secret. I want them to have a complete picture of who they are and not to have to find out about the donor conception part of their life through a test or anyone other than me. I recently purchased a book called “You Were Meant To Be” and started to read it to the kids. Bunny is a book worm and frequently requests to read this book. She calls this book “Be”. She fills in the blank for certain words of the story. Okra likes the book too but he is more into trucks and trains. I explain to them that a piece of me didn’t work so I needed help from our donor. The book itself is simple enough to explain a very complex situation to toddlers who are not even two years old. This is my first step to make this part of their life a normal part so it will not be a surprise in the future. I do not want them to be like those who are tremendously hurt because they find out about their biological origin well into their teenage years or adulthood. If my kids want to find out who the donor is through a DNA database, I will have no problem with that. They have the right and the freedom to explore who they are. When we first pursued egg donation, our donor did say she was open to meeting with us. So maybe this will come true and the kids can have a even more complete picture of who they are. Then we will connect with our donor so they don’t even have to find her through a database. We will see how this all will unfold.
Today is the second day of our second road trip with our twins. Yesterday we drove 275 miles down south from home. This is the farthest that the kids have gone from home. They did relatively well. Other than whimpering once in a while, Bunny did not cry at all. Okra napped twice and finally had a full meltdown 30 minutes before arrival. I’d consider that a win. We have rented a hotel suite with a living room and kitchen. The hotel provided two pack n’ plays. The kids were probably confused about what was going on despite me trying to explain to them that we were going on a road trip. They explored all the rooms and tried to open doors, drawers, and cabinets. We tried to contain Bunny by putting her in her pack n play. At the end of the night, she figured out how to climb out of it. Three times. You could see her brain work. Haha. But once the sleep sack went on, it was a lot harder for her to try. Plus that acted as a cue for sleep time. Okra had a much harder time settling down. Poor guy was confused. He finally went down for bed. And despite my best effort with a packing list, we forgot one of the most important things: sound machine. Fortunately the iPad has white noise on it. Those who say that with little kids you take trips, not vacations are absolutely right. I was exhausted last night from the driving, chasing kids, taking care of their needs, and outwitting them. Hopefully we will have some fun today.
Here is our packed car. Doesn’t look too bad!
I hate getting my hands and clothes dirty. Hence I am not quite a beach person, and never really wanted to have water play or other sensory kind of activities for the kids I worked with. Now that I have my own kids, I am still kind of averse to dirt. My mom and I constantly wipe the kids’ hands during meal time and wipe the floor whenever food drops. When I take the kids to a playground, I often steer them away from the sand area. I would hate to have to clean up their clothes, their hair, and their socks and shoes from sand. The thought of it just made me shudder. My effort is proven to be futile because the kids are naturally drawn to dirt and sand. They see other kids there and just walk over, sit down, and start playing. They take other kids’ shovels and pails and start digging. They pick up sand and put some in their mouth. They pick up twigs and barks and taste them. At first I was quite grossed out by sand going into my shoes and kids having dirt and sand in their mouths. I have to say now that I am quite proud of myself because I have evolved to a point where I sit in the sand area with the kids and let them do whatever they want with the sand including tasting some. I do tell them that it is not for eating and it probably doesn’t taste good, but I have let go a lot more than I thought I would when it comes to dirt and sand. I clean out all the sand from their clothes and shoes/socks before loading them back in the car. When I told my mom that the kids played in the sand and tasted some, the horrified look on her face was priceless. Haha. I know that playing in the sand is good for their play skills and their sensory development, so I am going to continue to let go. I even bought them a whole set of sand toys and vehicles for our beach vacation in a few weeks!
My dad has been in town for over a week now, and it’s been wonderful.
Ever since the kids have switched to one nap a day, I always try to take them somewhere in the morning because we run out of things to do at home. Even though my mom lives with us and helps take care of the kids, she usually stays home to rest when the kids and I have an outing. So when my dad told me that he was going to come visit for two months, I was super excited and couldn’t wait for him to show up so he could help with the kids when we go out.
Grandpa has proven to be the best play partner. He has only been in town for a little bit, and he has gone out with us every single day. We have been to the zoo, on hikes, Golden Gate Park, lunch, and dinner. I’ve got to say that we have struck gold with grandpa. He’s over 70 years old but he is healthy and has energy. When we go to the zoo or on hikes, grandpa has the energy to chase the kids and the patience to wait when the kids don’t want to go where we ask them to go. It is soooooo much easier when another grownup is there to take care of one of the twins so I don’t have to run in two directions all the time. When the kids want to stop somewhere, grandpa patiently stands there to wait instead of rushing them to places. He tells them about the trees and birds and flowers and cars and bikes and airplanes. He gently reminds them not to pick up stuff to eat from the ground over and over again. Being out and about with them has become so much more leisurely instead of being stressful because of grandpa’s help. The best part? The kids really enjoy their time with grandpa. My dad really enjoys them as well. I think the best part for him is that the kids understand his language unlike my niece and nephew who never learned to understand or speak Cantonese. He finally has grandchildren who know what he is talking about when he speaks his native language.
Here is a photo of them visiting a tiger together:
I am tremendously blessed with a dad so helpful and loving toward my children. It is such a bummer that he doesn’t live in the same country with us. It makes his time in the States even more precious.
My daughter choked during dinner last Wednesday. That was most definitely the scariest moment of my life.
Everything was fine that day until she came down with a fever in the afternoon. Just 102.5. Not too high. My mom and I gave her and Okra dinner at 6ish like usual. Tofu, vegetables, and naan were on the menu. Those were things that she had had many times. We had just served the food to the kids. I turned around to get something from the kitchen counter and heard my mom yell out my daughter’s name in a frantic tone of voice and ask her what was wrong. I will never forget what I saw. Bunny, who was sitting in her highchair, was staring straight with a dazed look. Her face had turned blue. She was gripping my mom’s fingers shaking. My first thought was febrile seizure. I quickly took her out of her highchair, held her in my arms, and grabbed my phone. I dialed 911 with my shaky hands and told the operator that my 18-month-old might be having a febrile seizure. Bunny’s body and arms were limp and her hands had also turned dark and blue. She wasn’t making any sounds and was looking lifeless to me.
At that very moment, I really thought that we were going to lose her.
The 911 operator said that emergency medical services were on their way. She asked me if my baby was breathing. I checked but found it hard to tell if she was or not. I think I detected very shallow breathing. In those few seconds, I realized that Bunny was actually choking on whatever she was eating. I yelled at the phone that she was choking, put the call on speaker, and tried to do what I remembered from the infant CPR class to try to dislodge whatever that got stuck. I started to panic. I totally forgot what I was supposed to do with a child over one year old. All I could remember was the back blows. I tried to do that a few times. The operator heard me and told me not to pat her back. I was just desperate to get whatever it was out. In those chaotic moments, I somehow managed to dislodge the object from her throat. Broken pieces of tofu came out of her mouth. Bunny started making whimpering sounds. Her face was still blue but she looked like she was about to cry. I kept on asking if her whimpering was a good sign. The 911 operator assured me that it was. Bunny just looked so weak and her face was still kind of blue. It was just so scary to not know if she was okay. The operator stayed on the line until help came. That phone call lasted six minutes, which meant the ambulance and fire truck arrived within five minutes.
Once the EMS team arrived, I immediately felt more relieved that Bunny would be in good hands. I quickly told them the situation. These four team members checked on her vitals and placed a piece of wet cloth on her back to lower her body temperature. Initially Bunny’s O2 was at about 80. Her heart rate and blood pressure were up. The team advised me to give her medication to treat the fever, and told me that a febrile seizure would have lasted longer than a few seconds. So it was truly a choking incident. They examined the pieces of tofu and said that it could have been cut smaller. I think what happened was Bunny had been able to handle the sizes of the food by taking bites. However, that day she was probably out of it because of her sickness and instead of taking bites, she just straight swallowed the food.
During this whole time, Okra was so good. He sat in his highchair and finished eating his dinner without making any noises. He just stared at all the commotion unfolding in front of him. Prior to that, he had been very whiny. Kids have such great instincts. They know that something unusual is up.
The EMS team watched Bunny and waited until her vitals were up to normal. They said that despite looking a little upset, the coloring of her face became normal again. She was breathing normally and started to cry because her toe was clipped to the wire that connected to the machine. She looked good. I was advised to take her to the emergency room just in case she aspirated on any of the food. Since Bunny started to act and look normal again, I opted to take her to the hospital myself. Bob at that time was still on his way home. The closest emergency room doesn’t have pediatrics, so I decided to take her to the one that is farther away, about a 17-minute drive.
While my mom changed Bunny’s clothes, I quickly packed her diaper bag with milk, water, toys, book, and some food. I hadn’t had dinner myself so I packed a breakfast bar. I tried calling Bob on the phone but it went to voicemail. I checked “Find My Friends” and saw that he was about to be home. So I went to the window and saw that he parked his car. I waved at him to come to the house quickly. Later he told me that he thought the ambulance and the fire truck were for our next door neighbors, and his first thought was to notify Bunny and Okra to go to the window to watch the trucks. Little did he know that the emergency vehicles were for our house. I guess you never expect anything bad to happen to you or your own family.
Leaving my son with my mom (I am so super thankful for her), Bob and I took Bunny to the emergency room. My little girl looked a little dazed in the car seat. When we arrived, it was almost her bed time, at around 7:20pm. We waited in line for about ten minutes before someone checked us in. After getting her rectal temperature (poor girl), her vitals, and her weight, we waited in the waiting room for a doctor. The waiting room was full of people. It was definitely a busy night. There were quite a few young children as well. We fed Bunny a few snacks and gave her some milk. I tried to put her to sleep since it was way past bed time. She just looked more and more alert and playful as the night went on. She was singing, reading, playing peekaboo with a little baby, and chatting away instead of falling asleep tired. Both Bob and I were yawning our heads off.
Finally, at 9:40pm, Bunny’s name was called. We were led to a room. In that room, we waited for another 30 minutes. On TV, a show about elephants in Africa was playing. Good thing Bunny wasn’t paying attention to it all the time. All of a sudden it was showing headless and bloody elephants on the screen. I quickly asked Bob to switch the channels. At the same time, what sounded like a psychiatric patient kept yelling and cursing outside in the hall to ask for her phone back so that she could contact her family. There was a lot of commotion. And Bunny was still very awake. At 10:10pm, a pregnant doctor came in to check on Bunny. She listened to Bunny’s lungs. Everything checked out fine so a chest X-ray wasn’t necessary. After the nurse checked Bunny’s rectal temperature (ouch, again) and her vitals and got her nasal swab for Influenza A, as well as administered a dose of Tylenol for her fever, we waited for another 15 minutes before we got the discharge summary and were allowed to leave.
We walked out at 10:40pm of the emergency room in the crispness of the night. We looked up and saw an almost full moon with the lights of airplanes and stars in the dark sky. Bunny pointed and exclaimed at these things that she never had a chance to see in the past. My heart was full of gratitude that Bob and I got to share this magical moment with our daughter looking at the moon and the stars instead of having the unthinkable happen earlier that evening.
That night Bunny slept in the Pack N Play in our room. In bed when I closed my eyes, all I saw was Bunny’s blue face with her eyes staring straight during her choking episode. Hearing her talk in her sleep (and then Bob talk in his sleep), I couldn’t help but shudder at the what-ifs. What if my mom was the only person home with the kids? What if she tried to call me but couldn’t find me? What if I couldn’t dislodge the food from Bunny’s throat? This forces me not to be complacent anymore. We will have to find out how to train my mom to call 911 and what to say on the phone call if something happens. We will have to think about which ER to go to for better and faster services for kids. We also have to review how to perform infant first aid for choking again. I started to cut the food for the kids back to smaller sizes like they were younger as I am paranoid at the thought of this happening again.
I didn’t cry that night. I think I was probably still in shock. I keep on seeing her blue face in my mind whenever I close my eyes or when I have a moment to think. Friday night at bed time, I finally broke down and cried. I was so scared of losing my daughter that I fought so hard to have. I just couldn’t bear to think about the what-ifs. Bob was right though. Because God is in control, Bunny is alive and well on this earth. This incident teaches me that life is fragile and can change at anytime, and we have to appreciate one another and cherish the good and the bad moments with your loved ones.
I hope I never have to see that blue face again.
My babies are going to turn 18 months in a few days. (So not babies anymore……)
I always thought that Bunny would start using real words early because she was babbling and imitating sounds so early on. Well, things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. In fact, it was Okra who started producing and imitating words since 13 months. Bunny understood many words and followed directions, but didn’t start producing words or imitating words at that time.
Needless to say, as a speech-language pathologist who used to work with this particular age group, I have been worried. I assess my children quietly on a daily basis. I spoke to quite a few speech language pathologists including my former coworkers. Everybody was telling me to give it time to see if her language would take off. One person suggested that I could always self-refer to early intervention if Bunny’s expressive vocabulary repertoire doesn’t take off by 18 months. As I watched my friends’ singleton kids 50, 60, 70 words by this age, my concern grew. Interestingly, my twins’ twin friends seem to be also stuck in their expressive language development. I began to wonder if it is a twin thing to have delays in talking.
I have been consistently communicating and speaking to my kids the way I educate parents at work. I model a word relevant to what we are doing, and wait expectantly for a few seconds to see if the kids would imitate. I describe situations, name objects, and tell an action word during an action, such as saying “kick” when we kick a ball. I don’t tell or force them to say words. I ask them questions, wait, and provide an answer if there is no response. I tempt them to use language by doing unexpected things such as taking off their socks half way. When I mentioned to my mom that Bunny might need language therapy in the future, my mom said, “Aren’t you doing therapy with her everyday?” At a baby shower, I told this friend of the expectant mom that I was a speech therapist, and this lady, who is an elementary teacher herself, exclaimed and said, “No wonder you talk to your kids differently than other moms I see. You say a word slowly and wait patiently for their responses. I thought you must be a speech therapist or a teacher.” Obviously I am trying to do something myself to boost my children’s expressive communication, and it is apparent to the outside world.
What I observed reminds me that kids’ development is unpredictable and non-linear. After gaining many words and imitating words from me consistently, Okra seems to have quieted down a lot. At the same time, Bunny began to be much more verbal with more spontaneous words and imitation. She has been requesting things by saying Cantonese words such as “Sue” for book and “Sui” for water. I have been jotting down the new words that she says everyday. Interestingly, she has been saying words that have later developing sounds such as “sh” and /s/, but remains silent when I model words that have earlier developing sounds, such as /p/, /j/ (“y”), and /b/. When the word begins with /b/, she may substitute it with /d/, such as “day” for “bay”. The cutest thing that she does these days is to fill in the last word of a line of a familiar nursery rhyme. We listen to the nursery rhymes by “Super Simple Songs” a lot. For example, she can fill in “day” in “Five little ducks went out one day”, and the “quack” in “Mother duck says quack quack quack quack”. I tested many songs on her and to my surprise, although her articulation is not the most accurate, she fills in for many many of the last words of a line. It tells you that when kids learn things, they don’t show what they know right away, but they take things to heart. In comparison to Bunny, Okra seems to be the quiet one now, although his articulation is clearer on many words than Bunny. He seems to pick up English faster and says words such as “truck”, “car”, “this”, “yes”. Even though his growth has seemed to slow down, I know that he may surprise me by picking up words again suddenly.
I would have liked my kids to have over 50 words each and started combining words spontaneously. But I have learned to be patient and will wait to speak with their pediatrician about their development before taking any actions. I know Bob thinks that I am crazy to worry about them. Especially that I know so much about this area, my sensitivity is heightened. It would be great if I can relax a bit, enjoy my kids and not worry about their development. It’s a mom thing, isn’t it? Always worrying. It probably never stops.
A bunch of my former coworkers get together for dinner once in a while. I became a part of their group after I quit my job, but hadn’t had the chance to join them for a meal yet. When they were trying to arrange for a dinner date for February/March, I immediately texted my sister-in-law to see if she could watch the kids with my mom from 5pm until Bob comes home at around 7pm. She promptly responded YES to me. I was so excited! Even though I love my kids and am grateful to spend a lot of time with them, some down time away from them is so needed. Last Friday was the day. My SIL showed up before 5pm. When I left, the twins were so fascinated by the activity that she was doing that nobody paid much attention to my departure. Bunny did come to the window when I waved bye, but Okra did not even turn his head. Haha. I wasn’t sad but was actually feeling fortunate that auntie is so much fun and the kids love her. Let me just say I savored every moment at the dinner. I got to eat ramen, something that I had been craving for a long time, without little hands touching me.
Most important of all, I got to spend precious time with girlfriends chatting and catching up. My mouth hurt from so much laughing. My husband took care of the bedtime routine so I knew that the kids were in good hands. My SIL sent me a video of the kids pretending to be riding on a train that was drawn by my SIL on a cardboard box cut out. They were rocking and laughing. It seemed like they had such a great time with their super fun and loving aunt. The little time away made me miss my kids and I hugged them extra hard the next morning. For a stay-at-home parent, a little self-care such as a night out with friends is essential to my wellbeing. I feel so fortunate that I have the support to do that.