One Year Ago Today

Remember when all the pics we had of the twins were ultrasound images like these?


Funny how their personalities were already starting to show at 30 weeks of life inside Mommy. Zeke (on left) tries to suck his thumb and Gabriel sleeps with arms stretched high above his head — both characteristics the boys still possess.

I was looking at these old ultrasound photos because it was a year ago today that I underwent fetoscopic laser surgery for TTTS at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. As you all know, Gabriel and Zeke are now happy, healthy and adorable 9-month-old boys.

Still taking care of each other — just like they did in the womb!

And dwelling on the miracle that all babies are, but especially Gabriel and Zeke since they would probably not have survived my pregnancy if it weren’t for the brilliant folks at Cincy’s Fetal Care Center; excellent medical care here at home; the prayers of friends and strangers; the support of our family, friends, neighbors and church; and last but not least, the grace of God, makes me so thankful for the awesome blessing that is my life with Clan Dillingham!

Tweaking the Zoo

A week ago tomorrow was one of my worst days as a mom. It started off like any typical morning when the boys wake up simultaneously with with soiled diapers, hungry bellies and cranky attitudes — all demanding instant gratification from an avowed non-morning person, who’s armed with only a lot of love, but has only two hands and a shaky constitution, since there’s no chance of a coffee-making opportunity in sight.

Houston cools off in his kiddy pool.

After tending to everyone’s immediate needs, I decided to go pump, but got sidetracked when I had to stop and deal with (more) of the twins’ incessant puking. (Seriously, folks. Gabriel and Zeke’s reflux is so bad that I wiped vomit off of them, the mat, the floor, me, Houston and their toys for an hour and 40 minutes that morning, and that wasn’t even a notably pukey spell, just about average.)

While pumping, I remembered I had forgotten to put up the gate to keep the twins out of the kitchen. I called for Houston and asked him to check if Gabriel had gotten into the cat food — one of his favorite things to investigate as of late. Houston ran back to me and said, “Bruv-uhr cat eat.” I raced down the hall to discover that Houston was right. Gabriel had the food in his mouth, but luckily had not chewed or swallowed any.

I proceeded to scrape the cat food out of his mouth, but scared Houston and him in the process. Gabriel was screeching and Houston, who mistook that he had done something wrong, said, “Bad corner.” Poor child thought he was in trouble and was getting a time out when he was the big boy who saved little brother from choking to death.

Knocking things down brings much pleasure to bruiser-boy Gabriel.

So there I was, stretched thin, still without caffeine, boobs hanging out, breast milk dripping down my belly, screaming babies all around. And to top things off, Miss Heather was supposed to help out that day, but was running very late because her car wouldn’t start. Well, I called Stephen to “vent” (if that’s what you want to call it), so he decided to take a “vacation” day to come home and help me recuperate from my subsequent meltdown.

Since then, we have implemented a few much-need tweaks around the zoo.

  • Containment policy: We now put the gate up in the doorway of the twins’ room, where Gabriel and Zeke can now crawl and puke and explore and puke and play and puke to their hearts’ content. Outside of the nursery, they can be held, sit in their high chairs, bounce in their jumpers or hang out in the pack-n-play.
  • Guy time: Stephen is going to take Houston for an outing every weekend, whether it’s to the store, a baseball game, the park, a birthday party or wherever. That way, I can have a little break from the terrible twos and hopefully get a few things accomplished in and around the house, while Houston and Daddy can spend some quality time together.

Zeke has a blast exploring life off of the mat.

  • More Heather = happy Mommy: We have trimmed some more financial fat so that we can now swing paying Miss Heather to help out with child care and household stuff eight hours a week, instead of only four.
  • Free at last: On Monday, I officially kicked breast-feeding and pumping. Breast-feeding had become too painful, and pumping milk for bottles had become too tedious and time-consuming. So, I didn’t make it a year, but nine months breast-feeding twins is still pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

Things have been going “bed-uhr,” as Houston would say, with our post-meltdown policies. Yes, it’s still a zoo, but a much more tolerable zoo, with two more relaxed and in-control zoo keepers and their three wild monkeys.

The nursery play area has also helped Zeke, who officially crawled a good distance from point A to B (not just around in circles) on 7/17. I think the smaller space inspired the physical milestone, since the nursery is not near as intimidating as our huge living room. Plus, he seems much less frustrated, since Gabriel can’t really leave him in the dust like he was able to do when the terrain of exploration was more expansive.

Houston & Zeke get silly outside.

Other notables:

  • On 7/14, Zeke had his last post-surgical appointment with Dr. Petty, who reports that Zeke has done remarkable with his recovery. Soooooooooo glad that chapter of Z-Bird’s life is finally over.
  • Today the twins had their nine-month check-up at the pediatrician. Gabriel weighs 18 pounds, 1 1/2 ounces; Zeke is not far behind at 17 pounds, 7 1/2 ounces. However, Zeke is longer at 27 7/8″; Gabriel is 27″. Both of their heads are 18 1/8″ around.
  • Houston’s allergies and eczema are much more bearable as of late. We still do the treatments and meds when necessary, but not nearly as frequently as was the case in late spring and early summer.
  • Houston is a man on the go. He has already attended one birthday party recently and has three more coming up soon.
  • “Mock” is what Houston calls our celebratory fist bumps. Not sure where that originates, but it’s too cute!
  • Click the above photo of Houston and Zeke to view all the July pics so far.

Independence Day Every Day!

(Yes, I have co-opted the “Earth Day Every Day” slogan, and I feel darn good about it.) Clan Dillingham traveled to Raleigh to participate in another Tea Party in celebration of “Indy Day,” what we called the 4th of July when explaining the important holiday to Houston. It was hectic, of course, getting all of our hoodlums to the state capital and back, but it was well worth the effort. (Click the pic below to check out all the photos of our patriotic excursion.)

“Tea parties make us tired, Mommy,” whine the boys at the end of our fun-filled day in Raleigh.

In fact, there are 258 Tea Parties taking place in cities all around the country tomorrow, July 17, which are aimed specifically at opposing government-run healthcare. Not sure if we can swing the one happening near us since it’s taking place at noon. I have, however, already called my congressman and senators to share my TTTS story, explaining that it is very likely Gabriel and Zeke would have died in utero should the ever-encroaching federal government have run healthcare during my pregnancy.

The Wheel of Debt game: it would’ve been fun to play if it weren’t so darn true.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating:

  • My 20-week ultrasound on July 8, 2008, showed some “abnormalities,” so my OB referred me to a specialist.
  • Just two day later, on July 10, I was in the specialist’s office and was diagnosed with Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome.
  • The following Monday, July 14, my specialist performed an amnio-reduction on me, and then I was admitted to the hospital for a few days of observation and testing.
  • By July 20, we were off to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, after our local specialist referred us to the Fetal Care Center there.
  • The following morning, July 21, I not only had a two-hour ultrasound and then a lengthy fetal echocardiogram, but I also had an MRI.
  • On July 24, I underwent fetoscopic laser surgery. What an amazing turn around!

Revved up on chocolate ice cream, Houston entertains himself with the patriotic ring toss.


  • TTTS is a disorder that progresses quickly, so time is of the essence, since 70-80% of twins die without treatment. The lucky few who do survive run an extremely high risk of damage to vital organs and brain injury.
  • There’s a five-month wait for MRIs and CT scans in Canada — a country whose socialized healthcare system our government pines to emulate — but not even two weeks after my TTTS diagnosis, I had a fetal MRI (not to mention the very timely CT scan Zeke had at two months in preparation for his CCAM removal at about eight months).
  • Germany is considered to have one of the “best” socialized healthcare systems in the world, yet the wait for TTTS surgery there is about 20 weeks.
  • TTTS fetoscopic laser surgery is still deemed somewhat experimental and survival rates post-surgery are statistically low. This is surely something the medical advisory panel — the centralized body of about 25 unelected and unaccountable “experts” that would decide who gets treatment, what treatments they get, when they get it, if they get it, who provides the treatment, how the treatment is administered, how long the treatment should take, etc. — would take into consideration when deciding if the risks of the surgery outweighed the financial costs, as well as promoted the “general welfare” (in other words, if they thought Gabriel and Zeke’s lives would serve the the “greater good.”)

Sandwiched in between the big mouths of Capitol Hill — San Fran Nan and Barney Skank — Daddy lets his freak flag fly!

If you feel as passionately as I do about telling government “hands off my healthcare” and “keep your big bureaucratic noses out of my family’s medical decisions,” please call your member of congress and senators by phone today and sign the Patients First online petition.

Or if you are apathetic about the ethical and/or Constitutional problems that a federally run healthcare system would pose, consider how the Obama administration and Congress plan to pay for this healthcare “reform” bill and how that will effect all income-tax-paying Americans … and all while we’re in the midst of a heavy recession and experiencing 26-year-high unemployment. Brilliant.