This week we are featuring Alisha from Beautiful Days. Alisha is the MoM to two beautiful daughters, Clara and Chloe who will be 3 this August. Let’s learn more about Alisha and her family, shall we?
What was your reaction to finding out you were carrying twins?
Honestly, first it was shock, and then fear. Ryan and me had just gotten used to the fact that we were pregnant (at this point we were only together for 6 months). One morning I had some light bleeding, and we thought we were miscarrying, so we headed to the hospital. After making me wait the most nerve wracking 2 hours of my life, they did an emergency ultrasound. I was so happy to see a baby bouncing around, heart beating. That is all I saw. Then the doctor said, “Did you know you were having twins?”. My jaw just dropped, and I mumbled a quick no. He checked and said everything was fine, and left the room. I remember having to tell Ryan to breath … because he had stopped. I just remember the shock. The fear. I remember thinking, “Holy (insert inappropriate word here), we are having twins.” After a couple of days, I was really excited. I never thought that because of my age it would be harder. I never thought of the complications. I never thought I couldn’t do it. I went from scared, to just happy that my babies were okay.
Can you tell us a little about each of your daughters?
Clara is my outgoing child. Put her on a playground, and she’ll go down any slide, climb ladders (which still makes me nervous), and even take a go at the monkey bars. She is willing to go up to any child and play with them. She is extremely independent, and wants to do everything herself. Except dressing of course, which she still wants me to do for her. She loves to cuddle with her mommy and daddy, and sometimes she lets me hold her like a baby, and rock her. She loves books, dollies, dress up, and cars. Not any cars, but the cars from the movie Cars. She is my talker, and has almost 20 words now. I have a feeling that I will have trouble with Clara when she is older. She seems to be the most “grown up” twin, and I can see her being really rebellious, like I was. She looks like Ryan, but my mom would argue otherwise. She is very sweet, but you don’t want to get her mad. She is pretty rough.
Chloe is my baby. She is more shy and timid. She is just as brave, and will try anything, but when it comes to people, she tends to go off the beaten path. Chloe is also extremely independent, to the point where she has to hold the cup for my to pour anything into it, or she won’t drink it. She loves to cuddle with mommy and daddy, but won’t let me hold her like a baby. I think she thinks she is too big for that. She is definitely a daddies girl. She’ll settle for me if she has to, but if daddy is around, I might as well not even be in the room. She loves books and dollies. She will play with cars as well, but loves her dollies. She doesn’t say much, except “hi” and “bye”, but she is a babbler. We have tons of conversations with her babbling back at me. I think she will be very quiet when she is older, and intelligent. Not saying that Clara won’t be, but I can see Clara being more social in school, and Chloe more reserved, laid back, and into her studies. But they have surprised me before. She looks like Ryan, no doubt. She is very sweet, and sneaky, which is kind of cute until you find crayon all over your walls. She is also pretty rough with her sister.
What is your favorite thing to do with your girls?
I have two things that I love doing with my girls. One, I love to take them outside. Whether it is playing at the park, or taking a walk or hike, I love watching how excited they get. I love to see their big smiles, and laughs when they go down a slide, or find a tree that is low enough to attempt to climb. The second thing, I love just laying with them and relaxing. I don’t get to do it often, but sometimes I will go lay in their bed, and they will follow me and cuddle right up. So peaceful.
There are so many advantages to having kids at a young age. Are you glad that you had your girls young?
I will never regret having my daughters. Do I wish I had waited? Sometimes. It’s hard. I was 18 when I had the girls, and I had to learn to be a mom. All my friends thought is was so awesome that I had twin girls. Then when they noticed I couldn’t hang out with them all the time, or I had no time for the things that goes on in a young persons life, I lost a lot of them. I gained many more wonderful friends, who I love dearly. It’s hard to see people my age enjoying university life, or go on vacations to the Bahamas, or to Paris, because, when will I get to do those things? Will I ever be able to do those things? On the other hand, I love my daughters more then anyone in this world. As hard as it is, I enjoy waking up in the morning to see their smiling faces. I love being with them, and being there mother. I could never regret them.
What is your favorite meal to make for your family?
I love making thanksgiving or New Years dinner, with all the fixings. Ryan and the girls love it, and I love it when it’s done with. Plus there is always leftovers. I also love to bake, so there is usually a plate of cookies around. As I am planning my wedding, I am making a lot of appetizers to test out, so it is always fun to try new recipes that the girls will like as well.
You recently found out your girls are both autistic, how was the diagnosis made?
The girls were born at 28 weeks exactly. They were in the NICU for 2 months. Because they were born before 32 weeks, they had to be evaluated by the Childrens rehabilitation center every 6 months to make sure they were developing okay. Although they were, and still are tiny, they did well on their . By the age of 2, we were headed to our last rehab assessment, and I discussed some things I was concerned about, which was mostly speech. Neither of them has said much, and even mama and dada was rare. After discussing (and the ladies witnessing) some odd behavior, they mentioned the word autism, and I admitted, it crossed my mind once or twice. We have been in speech therapy for almost a year, and not much success has been made. Most sessions were, what I call, “scream fests”. They referred me to a child psychologist, who saw each child, separately, twice, for a couple of hours at a time. After combining his test scores (he performed tons of “tests” but rated them using 2 different scales) with mine (we answered 600 questions per child on their development to that date), and from what he had witnessed in their behavior, he diagnosed Clara with PDD-NOS, and Chloe with PDD-Autism.
What are the main differences between PDD-NOS and PDD-Autism?
First I should explain what “PDD” means.
Development Disorder. So both my children have PDD. Now it was up to the psychiatrist to figure out which type of PDD the girls had. Clara was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, or, PDD – Not otherwise specified. This means that she has some autism “quirks”, but can’t be classified as a classic autism case. In other words, she has mild autism. Chloe was diagnosed with PDD-Autism, which means she has classic autism, or, autism as we all know it. Trouble with communication (speech), and social development (tends to wander off on her own with other kids), as well as some repetitive (randomly spinning in circles) and restricted behavior (collects and lines up toys).
What were the first signs that you noticed that made you think your girls were autistic?
I honestly didn’t think that both my daughters were autistic. I thought only Chloe was. Back when they had just turned two, Chloe had started to stare out into space, and you couldn’t get her out of her trance. I mentioned this at the development assessment, and they seemed concerned about it. Chloe had actually did this about 15 minutes after I told them, and they said they should both get checked, because of some seriously delayed developmental milestones, such as speech, which was non-existent back then. Fine motor was another thing they were having trouble with, and Chloe was once again having issues with her bowels, which is common in temper tantrums once or twice a day. Speech therapy sessions were rough, because of these tantrums, they learned nothing. So I caved and enrolled them to see a child psychologist, and things unraveled from there., and common with my girls, who have both suffered from severe constipation as babies. They both were not very social, and both of them were tippy toe walkers (not all the time). After a few more months of Ryan and me being in denial, things seemed to escalate with the girls. They were very temperamental, and it was normal for us to have hour and a half
What is your plan for therapy?
Clara and Chloe will start intensive therapy in October. Intensive therapy consists of 4 hours everyday, at the local autism clinic with their therapists. They will be separated, and each have 2 therapists each. They will work on them with basic skills, and help us figure out things like, which is something they are not close to accomplishing. They will be put into situations where they will have to be social, like in a group of other autistic children. Since the girls will be in two years, they will be enrolled in a program for autistic children, which is just like Kindergarten, 2 months before they start school, to ease them into the transition. Their therapists will be going to school with them for the first month as well. As of right now, I do not know all the specifics of their therapy though. Both Ryan and me are optimistic that they will live relatively normal lives.
Are there any websites you recommend for researching ?
There are a few that I have done a bit of reading from. I love Wikipedia. Not always 100% accurate, but the information on Autism seems legit, with some pictures of examples of autistic behavior. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism … others I just find throughout , and mostly they are news stories, which are interesting. I am more of a book reader then I am a website lurker.
Do you think you will have more children someday?
I really, really hope so. When Ryan and me started dating, we both agreed we wanted 3 kids. He grew up with 3 other brothers, I grew up with 1 brother, and I think that our number was a nice medium in our lives. Not too much, not too little. I could never be one of those parents with only one child. Unfortunately, after I had the girls, I started having a lot of issues with pain in my abdomen, and later found out that I had endomeitriosis, which was found during my c section. Eventually, the pain got much worst, and after some other symptoms that have come about in the last year, my doctor has unofficially diagnosed me with Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS (just awaiting blood test to confirm). If this is the case, I may not be able to conceive. If we can’t, God blessed us with two beautiful daughters, who continuously surprise us, from the 2lb miracles who couldn’t breathe well on their own, to the almost 3 year olds that seem to grow up too fast. I just hope that one day we can give them a little brother or sister. I think they would be awesome big sisters.
You have done some fund raising to benefit pediatric cancer research. Why is this cause so dear to your heart?
When I was pregnant with the girls, I was lost and confused. I had no friends who could relate. One day I was searching up some baby tips, and I found baby center. I saw the forums on there, and thought, maybe I can find someone to talk to. Well, there was a thread for twins or more that were due in October, 2006, so I clicked there, and since then, my life has changed forever. I made friends with close to 50 other women who were all due with twins or triplets in October. We were so supportive of one another, and were so comfortable with each other that we could talk about the most uncomfortable parts of multiple pregnancies. Since then, we have moved from baby center, and keep up through email. We have been apart of each others lives since the birth of our babies. One of those women was Jess, who had twin girls, named Tuesday and Piper. Shortly before Tuesday turned two, she was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma cancer. Throughout the cancer, we were there for Jess in any support she needed, and raised a little bit of money for the family, sent gift cards, food, cards, etc … On January 30th, Tuesday passed away, and it was a pain that we all felt. A pain we still feel today, to the point where many of us still have trouble sleeping. Tuesday will always be in our hearts and minds. For Tuesday, I will continue to raise money to find a cure for this horrible cancer.
What is the greatest gift that your girls have given you?
I don’t think I could just say one greatest gift. They have given me so much, I don’t think I could fit it in a paragraph. All I could say, is that they have given me a reason to live.
A big thank you to Alisha for allowing us to interview her! Be sure to stop by Beautiful Days and say hello!
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Her next 4 months will be spent stone-cold sober
This MoM-to-be is expecting twin girls in October
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