MDA – sounds like some kind of drug…

Hello, it’s me again, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Ana Bonasera, I am now a 25 year old mother to three boys – NJ is 4 and the twins, Jude & Luca, are 3. For the past 13 months we have been living in what I call limbo due to not knowing what is preventing the twins from developing the ‘appropriate‘ language and communication skills for their age. To say it’s been a tough year is probably the understatement of the year…the roller coaster of emotions we’ve been through, including massive lows of frustration, anger and sadness … with highs of celebrating small victories. If you want to know more about how we got here, check out my previous blogs but today I am going to be talking to you about the MDA week…

Although it sounds a bit like a drug, it actually stands for Multi Disciplinary Assessment – this is a week of seeing different therapists and at the end of the week they come together to make some kind of ‘diagnosis‘ and report back to the parents with steps to progress.

Our first appointment was on Tuesday and we had to be at the children’s hospital at the John Radcliffe for 9.30am, so with NJ dropped off with a neighbour who kindly dropped him to school and Aunty Em to pick up later, we left not really knowing what to expect, feeling extremely nervous. But looking like a school kid with a back pack filled with snacks, drinks, spare clothes and nappies galore (you know the usual emergency mum kit) we were ready to go. Grandpa came with us, dropped us off and went to attempt to find a space to park the car, even with a permit it’s near impossible!! Once we had found the Community Paediatrics department (it was so hidden if you weren’t looking for it you would miss it, I  actually walked past it twice!), we were kindly greeted by Becky – who would be with us all week – and brought into the play room…just wow! Absolute heaven for any child. Every toy you can think of, messy play, outdoor climbing frames, trampoline and the best of all a sensory room to die for! 

Both the paediatrician Dr Gill, who we saw last August, and a new speech & language therapist (thank god) Christine, came in and talked me through what was going to be happening, asking questions about the boys. The two specialists both asked me the same question, “When was the last time you saw the speech therapist?” I replied “Last April” they both kind of paused and thought about that for a moment and actually said “Why haven’t you seen a speech therapist for 13 months?” As if I’m supposed to know the answer to that!  I think that’s something they need to be investigating. We actually paid to see a private speech & language therapist for a couple of months, before she went on maternity leave. Anyway, the plan was for me to be with both twins during their session with Dr Gill, as there were questions that needed answering, and for Grandpa to sit in on the test with Christine. After each session with the paediatrician the twins also had hearing tests, which came back all fine, no problems and no glue ear. For Luca, as he was a little distracted and frustrated from being put through tests and questioning for so long, he wasn’t too happy about partaking in the hearing test and not interested in paying attention to strange long sounds. Before giving up, I suggested trying a favourite song of his on low on my phone, so out came the Moana soundtrack and he passed with flying colours.

At the end of the sessions, I got a chance to chat to Christine about how the boys did on the test. I managed to record it too so that the boys’ dad could listen. The test was actually for Autism in particular, which I didn’t actually realise.  She said that both boys had different strengths & weaknesses but would score roughly the same – Luca’s she hadn’t yet added up but Jude’s she had.  On the scale, a score of 8 is deemed as borderline and 28 is deemed as high, Jude scored 18, so right in the middle of both. The idea of the boys being autistic doesn’t actually scare me as much as it probably should, I am just so relieved that finally we have something to work with, no more ‘living in limbo’ now we know we can seek help in the right way! It was more of a relief than anything else. It was a long and tiring day and only the first of three.

Day 2 came around and we only had one appointment scheduled to see the psychiatrist, Rebecca.  You’d think this would be less draining than seeing three different people like the previous day, but this was exhausting. Going back through every little last personal detail (twice over), literally everything from pregnancy, birth, to breaking up with the boys dad, to their first smile, walking, diet, etc. Luca was first in and pretty much from the minute we were in the room, he wanted to leave. He caught on very quickly that going into the little box rooms was not as much fun as being in the amazing playroom. The best way to describe it, is a bit like caging a wild animal, the constant fight to get out and break free. Being constantly dragged to the door, while trying to remember the past, answer the questions to my best ability, oh and he also found the light switch! So we ended up in darkness a few times too. She then went on to try and do some tests with him but as he was so uncomfortable and still persisting he wanted to leave, taking my hand and pulling me to the door, I asked if I could play some music to see if he would calm down, so the soundtrack of Moana saved us once again! The tests consisted of putting sticks in holes, puzzle pieces, working out how to get things out of boxes, etc. he did his best and at the end she asked me what age I would say Luca was at with his abilities compared to having seen what Nathaniel grew up like and I guessed about 18 months which was actually dead on.

Jude was next and he was so much calmer and entertained himself in the room with the toys provided. It’s funny because they swap personalities often, one will be calm, the other will be frustrated and vice versa. Out of the two of them, his abilities have definitely progressed more over the past year; he’s able to say a handful of words and understands more than Luca, not a great deal more though. During the tests he actually got one of the puzzles exactly the same as Luca, fitting the square in straight away and trying to put the triangle in the circle and circle in the triangle, which was strange and very interesting! He passed more of the tests and continued to do harder ones, including matching colours and scored around an age of just over 2 – which was higher than I actually expected. 

Day 3 came and I was in a horrible mood, the twins weren’t particularly happy either and NJ was sad and didn’t want me to ‘leave him’ again, so I decided that he would come with us. He has been a massive part of the twins’ life and such an amazing big brother so it just felt right that he should be part of the process. The final day of tests and we were scheduled to see the dentist and for the boys to have bloods taken. The dentist was all fine, she was impressed at their love of healthy food and teeth all looked good. The bloods…taking the boys in one at a time, starting with Luca… I had to hug him belly to belly while one person stood one side trying to distract him and another held his arm straight on the other side. Then a man locked Luca’s leg between his to stop him from kicking whilst taking blood from his arm. He cried, he screamed, he struggled and I cried too. I had managed to keep it together but that was completely heartbreaking and the worst thing was I knew Jude was going to be even stronger. He was the same, it actually took longer to get the blood out of him, it literally felt like an eternity and when they turned to me and said, “We might not have enough, we may have to do it again” my heart literally sank. Luckily they had enough! NJ was so amazing with the twins when they came back, he could tell they were sad, he even rocked Luca on the rocking horse and stroked both their arms, it was beautiful.

We also met another amazing family, who were going through an extremely tough time aside of the MDA and the beautiful boys’ special needs (I don’t want to mention their names incase they’d rather not be known). But if you ever think you’re having a bad day, this brave man is a widower, his wife of 19 years died 9 months ago from cancer and he had 1 year old twins and his beautiful boy who we had the pleasure to meet. Honestly, one of the most genuinely lovely, kind hearted men I have met, with not a moan in the world! Amazing. 

And that was that, we were all done, no more tests, but we have to wait until this Monday for our round up meeting.  It normally occurs on the Friday but as our Dr is Witney based we are having ours on the Monday – slightly frustrating to a) have to wait out the weekend and b) because neither the speech & language therapist nor the psychiatrist will make the Monday meeting. However, the positive is the boys’ dad will be able to attend the Monday meeting. I knew this week was going to be a big week. I think it was harder than I actually expected but the place was even more beautiful than I thought it would be. I look forward to tomorrow’s meeting and finally having a way to progress and move forward to help my gorgeous boys have a voice in this world.

Just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me and the boys, in any way shape or form.  It means so much!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Lots of love & gratitude, Ana, NJ, Jude & Luca xxx

 

18447406_1368482673219345_923810865762406826_n

What do you want?

After last week’s paediatrician appointment, the idea of it being another 6 months at least before we have any answers has dawned on me. Another 6 months of not knowing how to deal with what we don’t actually know, that living in limbo feeling.

Feeling the pain this week as the build up of Luca’s, what seems to be constant, frustration of not being able to tell me what he wants is getting to me. Meal times used to a chance for me to have time out while my three monkey’s ate, the twins have been amazing at eating since they were little, everything and anything! All three of the boys did baby led weaning and took meal times into their own hands (literally).

But for the past couple of weeks now Luca has become very touchy. Throwing tantrums, hissy fits, sometimes even full blown exorcist take over! The thing is I don’t know why, so what do I do to resume the situation, to calm him down? And yes I’m aware this could be normal toddler behaviour, but a normal toddler would be able to communicate to an extent. The boys don’t point to anything, they will drag you places and you could go through the whole kitchen before you actually find out what it is they want! Also if he’s happy eating and you try to straighten out his hair, wipe his face, that’s it, meal times over.

So what do you do when you don’t know what they want? Treat them like a naughty kid? Comfort them? Leave them to cool down? Let them get away with murder?

Tonight, we sit down to have a homemade chicken teriyaki stir fry with rice noodles and lots of veg, one of our favourites and on his 2nd bite that’s it, plate on the floor, why? No idea! What do you want? God knows! What do I do? I felt angry about the waste and mess and frustrated to how I couldn’t  understand and lost that I couldn’t make it better. So I carried on eating my food and let him scream it out till he calmed down a bit, attempted to give him a few pieces individually, that also went on the floor. More tears and cries, once he’d calmed down I attempted to spoon feed him and he ate a fair bit. It feels like a massive leap backwards and who knows if this will be a problem forever but at least he’s got some food in him.

Luca definitely struggles more than Jude currently, but he has his frustrations too. Wish I could see inside their tiny brain and understand. I’ll do whatever it takes to communicate with you boys ❤

Here we go again…

Untitled design-20

It’s been around 4 months since we had our initial speech therapist assessment for the twins  after our health visitor expressed concerns on their delayed speech, which I explained more about in my previous blog/video.

Yesterday, was our long awaited paediatrics appointment, we were given two separate slots 9.30 & 10.30 one for each twin, myself, the boys dad and also my sister came along to watch one of the twins while we were in the appointment with the other. We must have been the first appointment of the day as the place was pretty much completely empty and luckily didn’t have to wait long before the Doctor came out and called for both of the twins, I asked which one she wanted first and she just said to bring them both, I found this a bit odd, why give them separate times if you’re going to see them together?

Anyway, she had the 30 page forms, that I had filled in for both twins, along with some paper work and there were toys and things for the boys to do. Verifying lots of questions and updating on how the twins had been doing since I filled in the paperwork 4 months prior and couldn’t help but think “here we go again…” the same story just different people.

I explained about the speech therapy and she was surprised that we were having to go private and that we weren’t offered any through the NHS. We talked about their different personalities and how we felt that they were beginning to progress and show more signs of communicating, but at a slow pace.

The ‘assessment’ then began, I was told that it would be really in depth and to prepare for the appointment to take a while, but to be honest I was rather disappointed by the lack of depth. She had a case with games in and we sat the boys at the little table, Jude began with putting shapes in to the right places and Luca had to put pins into holes on a board (I have no idea of the correct term for this game!) Luca was much more interested in putting them in a cup than he was the board, although he did attempt to do a few. Jude did well and managed to get a couple of the shapes in after trial and error but both got easily bored.

They then swapped, Jude straight away understood what he had to do but I don’t feel like Luca got enough time with the shapes to give it a real go. After that apart from playing with a few toys I don’t feel as if she assessed them physically or interacted with them much after that. We went back to answering more questions and then doing their height, weight and checking over their bodies.

The conclusion of the appointment began with her saying “well my full assessment has been limited due to the lack of communication”…I’m sorry, did you miss the memo, as that’s the whole reason we’re here!? Don’t get me wrong she was a lovely Doctor, but her choice of phrase was completely wrong. She continued to talk about the fact that in some areas they are around a 12 month age but she can clearly see they are physically able for their age.

Where do we go from here? Well we are starting with blood tests which can be done ASAP, to see if its genetic. Then the twins will be getting a full week assessment to see various different therapists in 6 months time.

I purposely didn’t get my hopes up as I thought this would be the case, back to the waiting game, here we go again…TBC.

 

Two things I’m not good at…

There are two major things that I’m not good at dealing with…one is taking compliments, I kind of do a face like this…

BxFzIG5IMAEhoD4.jpg

Or end up in floods of tears!! I am so thankful for everyones kind words, I am just a normal mum, surving, coping, trooping on. But seriously every comment and message of support, encouragement, advice, is greatly appreciate, so thank you from my very full heart!

The second thing I’m not very good with is asking for help!! I know I need to get better at this!! I hate complaining as I know there is someone always worse off, so I pull my big girl pants up and deal with it. But incases like this, “waiting lists” and appointment politics the person who gets the most help is the one that shouts the loudest! Therefore, I need to ask for more help and be a bit of a pest *grinds teeth*. Seriously, I really dislike seeking help but my boys need all the help we can get, so time to pull up my big girl pants and get over it.

Once again I have so much gratitude for all those who have shown support in anyway, even for just reading this, sending love from us all!

If you haven’t seen my YouTube video yet, give this a watch and hopefully it will shine a bit of light as to what life is like for us right now. (Warning! I do get emotional.)

Love from me and my three crazy boys ❤ (Ana, Nathaniel, Jude & Luca)

 

Living in limbo…

My name is Ana Bonasera and I am a mother of multiples…multiple children, yes, Nathaniel being 4 this coming September and my set of multiples (twins) Jude & Luca are 2 and a half.

There are many things I could share with you over the best 3 years from bump to birth to babies to toddlers. But I want to share is the challenging times we are currently facing. My mums told me to speak to a doctor, I see her thought process, but I think sharing this with the universe aka. the internet, will help with the emotional roller coaster at these times and who knows may even help someone in the same position as we are in.

Since the boys were very young I’ve been a single mum with a lot of support from family and the boys dad, but still day to day life is as it is for most mums, exhausting and sometimes stressful. With the boys so close together I get a lot of “You’ve got your hands full” & “How do you cope?” Well you just do! Whatever life throws at you, you either sink or swim. To be honest I’m very lucky, the boys all have a lovely nature, Nathaniel has been accepting and very loving of the twins from day 1. Number one rule in this house is love first, laugh often.

When the twins turned 2, we were scheduled to have a meeting with the health visitor and had to fill in a lengthy form about different areas of their abilities. As they were low in a lot of areas this brought them up to be a ’cause for concern’, in particular their lack of speech. From there the health visitor referred us for a hearing test, which came back fine and from their we were referred to a speech therapist.

The appointment didn’t come through until the last week of April and that was really where things for me became more worrying, watching their lack of responses to all elements to the test apart from bubbles! They love bubbles! Afterwards she sat us down and went through the list that worried her, the fact that they don’t respond to their names, being tapped on the shoulder, know who or what “mummy” was, not examining puzzle pieces – just doing trial and error. I think the latter was a little bit ridiculous, in my opinion. It sent massive alarm bells ringing through my brain.

I’m not saying that I thought we were going to come away with them telling me that everything was normal, but I hadn’t braced myself for the cold, harsh words that came out of her mouth. From their I’ve had to fill in ridiculous piles of forms, with some hilarious questions on (!!) and now we have been referred to a paediatrician. However, we are having to wait till the middle of August for our appointment which has been pushed back once already.

The frustration builds daily of not being able to communicate with my beautiful boys, seeing them around other children their age and being so different makes me emotional and as we wait for any kind of idea of what’s going on, we are living in limbo.

As frustrating as it can be, there is no doubt that they know how to show their love! Thanks for taking the time out to read, I’ll be back to share more of these challenging times soon.

Love Ana, Nathaniel, Jude & Luca x

 

IMG_6501

Taken today, during typing up this blog post, kisses from Luca x

14 tips to tighten loose skin 🙋

After having three babies within 15 months of each other and being seriously over stretched by my rather big twin boys, weighing 6.1lb and 5.11lb at 5 weeks early, it’s fair to say my body has taken a battering. Now after losing around 39lbs in the space of 6 months it’s time to tone up and sort out my sagging skin 🙈

IMG_4546.JPG

Having done a lot of research, I’ve made a list of 14 tips, all home remedies that I will be using a lot religiously from now on 💪

Here we go…

1. Limit sun exposure – no tanning, no sun beds (not that I usually do but anyone else out their who does and wants to improve their skin this ones for you!!)

2. Mineral/salt scrubs – increases blood flow, get a good loofa too, twice a day if you are committed – at least 3 times a week

3. Collagen cream – our skin in made from collagen, this makes it easily accepted into our bodies. I have been using a good collagen cream but not religiously! Time to up a notch!

4. Weight training – adding weights to your exercise regime, toning up helps the appearance of sagging skin.

5. Hydration – hydrate your body, hydrate your skin! Try at least 8 glasses a day!

6. Yoga – relieve stress, be more flexible and lose weight, this is supposed to help your skin be flexible after a few weeks.

7. Fruit and vegetable – with a high water content helping to hydrate and lots of vitamins and minerals eating at least 5 portions a day is key.

8. Raw foods – included in your portions, raw is 100% better for you, keeps all the nutrients locked in.

9. Lean protein – helps to build muscle, creating a more toned look and contains collagen and other nutrients our skin needs. After working out is best to boost muscle mass.

10. Avoid junk food – high fat foods are only going to add weight on, with those few stubborn pounds left under the skin that needs tightening this is not going to help! Avoid at all costs.

11. Essential oils – lavender and almond are the two I will be using, lavender is supposedly one of the best and requires a few tsps a night (this seems quite a lot to me!) almond oil – 1tsp every night, also supposed to help with the appearance of stretch marks, here’s hoping!

12. Tightening mask – a single egg white mask on your stomach three times a week…hmm interesting!!

13. Tightening astringent – made from honey 1 tsp, witch hazel 1 tbsp and Rosemary – which is supposed to help improve circulation.

14. Firming creams – it’s suggested to look for ones with natural ingredients, Vitamin E & A as well as collagen creams.

Now, all the boring facts are out the way, let’s go for the opinions!!

A lot of the suggestions sound a bit odd, some sound totally mad! But I’m going to give them all ago at some point!

Tuesday the 6th December

As it stands I’ve started using a few already. Last night in the shower I used a body scrub and loofa, I have to say as soon as I stepped out of the shower I noticed instantly how smooth my skin was! I don’t think I could comment on tighter skin.

Afterwards I used Nip & Fab’s tummy fix firming gel. I like the way it smells and can tell it goes into the skin well rather than sitting on the top from the texture my skin feels after applying. I’ve also applied this morning too, I will doing this twice daily, morning and night.

This morning I also tried lavender and almond oil. This is VERY potent!! I only used a few drops of lavender and more almond oil, I would definitely suggest using this at night time rather than the morning. Not sure if it’s made a real difference, however I know this one is a patience game.

IMG_4548.JPG

I’ll also be using my collagen cream once a day too. I have definitely seen improvements with this over the past year but I have not been as consistent as I’d have liked to!

Daily diet:

I have a pretty good diet already, I eat mainly gluten and dairy free, use plat based protein, as well as a lot of lean protein and eat good carbs like sweet potato. I also take my Juice Plus+ premium capsules which have the essence of 26 different types of fresh, ripe, raw fruit & veg! Which is good as I know that if I don’t mange all 5 of my portions each day, I have pumped good nutrients straight into my blood stream already!

Water could be taken up a notch but I do drink a lot of green and herbal teas which I count in my water intake.

Exercise
I have recently started rebounding (using a mini trampoline called a rebounder) it’s good cardio but low impact. I also do some weight training but will be upping this and doing daily alongside my rebounding. I’m also looking for local yoga classes too!

I know this isn’t going to be an over night transformation so I will only be taking progress pictures once a week, I’m going hardcore and using all of these daily and will be adding in others as we go through the process!

Determined to get in a bikini this year 💪

If anyone has had any experience with good products or home made remedies I’d be really interested to hear about them or if you’d like to talk more in further detail, send me a message 💚

Year One Complete!

Wow! We made it!! AND we are all still alive! A few bumps, bruises and scratches but officially intact.

What a year it has been, the hardest but definitely the best year of my life. It hasn’t gone as expected but whatever has been thrown at us we have taken in our stride and carried on going.

Today we had a party for Jude & Luca with lots of family and friends plus the twins got to meet their cousins for the first time!! And I got first snuggles with baby (not so baby) Isaac. Precious memories.

Also none of us had a clue who was who all day! (As in the twins) we bathed them last night and dressed them in mismatch PJs I had bought. Not sure why I even question if they’re identical or not! in personality they are quite different Jude is much more relaxed and happy go lucky, Luca is a tad more temperamental and likes to be centre of attention – seeing as both mummy and daddy went to drama school I’m not surprised. I’m pretty sure I have them the correct way around now, tomorrow as the excitement will have died down their true personalities will show through.

Lesson learn – leave hospital bands on until old enough to be able to tell the difference.

IMG_2133.JPG

IMG_1146.JPG

The first 16 days of the twins lives were spent in hospital, they were good weights at 5.11lb (Luca and 6.1lb (Jude) but during their first night in hospital the midwives began to worry about their blood sugar levels dropping so we had to be separated and the twins were taken to “paediatrics” for a few tests and a bottle, I was told! Being on my own unable to move from the epidural before my section in a ward with three or four other women, during the middle of the night, on my own without any babies was a horrible feeling.

Few hours later and I was told they were hooked up to monitors and being fed through a tube. Heart broken! They weren’t even in the same room to start when I first went to see them, they were so unsettled, just horrible. After tests, including a lumbar puncture, they came to the conclusion that Jude had meningitis and Luca had an infection, which meant Jude had to be on a full course of antibiotics for 14 days. After a few days once they started feeding from me they were able to come up to the room with me.

IMG_1144.JPG

IMG_1145.JPG

Those 16 days dragged so long, being away from Nathaniel for so long was completely devastating. He has coped so well becoming a big brother, welcoming two screaming children into his home and taking up his time. He is such a loving, kind and fun big bro, the twins love him more than they love each other!

God it has been such a busy year, babies, starting my own business when they were 3 months and 18 months, ditching diets and processed food and switching to a healthy living, transforming bodies and helping my family too to live a healthy life!

Incredibly epic! Would sum it up pretty well. Here’s to an extreme 2015, throw it at me!!

IMG_9843.JPG

IMG_1865.JPG<br />