Vanessa Brown has spent years working as a photographer, capturing the miracle that is pregnancy and newborns for clients.
In this guest blog, she shares her story about struggling to fall pregnant, IVF, having premature twins and how music has helped her precious babies thrive.
You can check out Vanessa’s work at www.vanessabrown.com.au
It was a hard blow when trying to have a baby to find that I have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and was struggling to fall pregnant myself.
My husband Ben and I ended up on the IVF rollercoaster of fertility treatment. After our first IUI cycle failed, we were not only successful our second attempt we were also thrilled to find out we were expecting twins!
Due to the high hormone levels, within weeks I could not stop throwing up every day and soon had to give up work and was pretty much confined to my house. I was suffering from Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), losing over 15kgs despite having two babies growing perfectly inside me.
Our lives changed after Ben took me to the hospital to be checked out after some bleeding. I was admitted immediately at 23 weeks with early labour and told our babies might not survive being born so early. I was given medication to prevent labour proceeding and thankfully it worked as my waters had not yet ruptured.
Scans later showed that I was fully effaced and slightly dilated and that the babies could still come at any time. I spent the next six weeks in hospital.
At 29 weeks and 5 days my first waters broke and labour was in full swing again. Our babies were coming. It was still a scary road ahead but the odds were now much more in our favour.
Thanks to the amazing team of doctors and midwives at Mater Mothers, our twins Anabelle and Zavier were born on 22 May. Both babies were resuscitated and taken to the neonatal intensive care unit after birth before I got to meet them a number of hours later.
Being born 10.5 weeks premature, our twins have been behind in their development. Even for their corrected age they were not showing much progress. At six months old, even all the basic baby milestones like holding their heads up, rolling over were a struggle.
We were getting concerned with how difficult it was and that we weren’t having a lot of success.
Encouraging Anabelle to reach basic developmental milestones such as supporting her head, lifting her head and rolling over was difficult.
Zavier was trying hard to do things such as rolling and lifting his head but had a few medical setbacks that caused regression after he did learn these skills so he learned these skills multiple times. He rarely made a sound and his visual focus and lack of interaction was stressful.
We were seeing the premmie development clinic at the Mater which was giving us amazing tips to help the twin’s progress, but we were only able to get in every 6-8weeks which we felt just wasn’t enough.
After a while, we started going along to Boppin Babies after finding out about it through a friend. We went along to a trial class and the twins thoroughly enjoyed it.
We joined classes twice a week and I have been blown away by how much it has helped the twins develop.
My silent boy suddenly wanted to play and would look, smile and engage when the instruments were played and before long started babbling to the music. It was so great to hear his voice!
Anabelle has always been a babbler but we call her our ‘lazy baby’. She loves to just lay around and sleep and that was pretty much all she would do. She wasn’t interested in rolling or any toys other than her plastic rings. She bloomed after starting music class.
Suddenly everything was interesting and she quickly learned to shake the maracas and bang the drums. She has learned to sit and crawl and she bops up and down to the music shaking her maracas.
Both twins now can support their heads, sit, crawl, babble, sing along and even stand. Their coordination is incredible and they engage and interact during the classes.
At our most recent premmie development clinic appts, the specialists have been amazed by the huge leaps in their development and our babies that were behind and struggling to learn basic baby development skills are now ahead of expectations and thriving.
I have no doubt that a huge part of this is attributed to Boppin Babies music sessions.
The Group Leaders are not only musicians but trained music therapists who worked in with my babies needs to encourage their development.
Joining Boppin’ Babies is one of the greatest things I have done for my twins’ development.
The smiles and giggles watching them enjoy themselves while learning is simply priceless not to mention the social skills and friendships they have made with other babies.