Forecast: Normal with a Chance of Gifted

A few days ago, Charlie fell off a low bench and hit his head on a cement floor. It’s the kind of accident where everyone is standing right there and it just happens too fast for you to do anything about it. The bench was low to the floor and my instinct was that he would be just fine. Clearly, not a fun thing to have happen, but he seemed upset and hurt, and not in an outrageous amount of pain. Still, I called my mom to get her opinion. As I was explaining what happened, I was very calm and collected–I’m used to medical issues and usually very matter-of-fact.Β  I summed things up by telling my mother, “this is like a regular kid thing and I’m not exactly sure how to handle it.”

And then I started crying.

Woman in a blue dress smiling at the camera


Friday we had a most-excellent visit with the high-risk doctor (the one who looks at the babies). It was a big visit with a growth scan as well as the usual staring at the brain fun. The babes came back within normal ranges–one in the 37th percentile at 2lbs 2oz. and the other in the 74th percentile at 2lbs. 7oz.Β  She was explaining the different sizes and she said, “when the babies are born, they’ll probably be different sizes,” and I kid you not, I thought, “holy crap. This woman actually thinks I’m going to have two babies.”

woman sitting on oak tree in blue dress


In case it isn’t clear, I’m starting to panic a little about the twins. Specifically, that I don’t know how I’m going to handle two “normal” children. I mean, statistically, the chances are pretty good that these guys will be typical kids. No guarantees, of course, but I’m preparing for regular ole babies this time around.

But I don’t know anything about regular babies. Baby proofing? Never needed it. Nursing? No clue. The general development of small people? I’ve got nothin’. And what do people DO with their children all day long when they don’t have doctor’s appointments or therapist visits?

woman in a blue dress sitting on a bench

Those are my worries about the first couple of months. Looking down the road I can see that I’ll have to make decisions about preschool, regular school,Β  and extracurricular activities. Toss in the fact that my husband was a “gifted” kid and I’m convinced that I don’t have the chops to do this.

How strange is it that disabled is my typical and typical is, well, odd?

woman leaning against a tree

**All of these beautiful pictures were taken by Cara Jouglard a local photographer, blogger, and twitter addict like myself**

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  1. Paulette says:

    Love the pics! All I can tell you is, it is both happy and bittersweet the second time around, when things go the way they are “supposed” to. And I’m sure you’ll have moments when you’re stressed out of your mind, I have those moments and I only have two kids to take care of. But I’m constantly reminding myself how lucky we are this time around. And then there is a nice mixture of guilt and relief when you see your typical kid doing things your other child struggled with. I think that is normal to feel that way, so I try not to beat myself up about it. Hope everything goes smoothly with the rest of your pregnancy!

    • I imagine stressed with be just the tip of the iceberg with the two on the way! We will be hiring a little bit of help, so I’m at least guaranteed some rest twice a week. Other than that, though, it’s going to be me and the twinkies figuring this crazy thing out.

      And thank you for sharing your thoughts on parenting a typical kid the second time around. I think that bitter sweet sounds very appropriate although I haven’t been there myself.

  2. My twins were 2 lbs 2 oz and 3 lbs 12 oz at their early arrival at 30 weeks. Drake is still much bigger than Lucy. And they don’t really look like each other either. I am assuming your boys are fraternal? I am similar thoughts with the impending arrival of one hopefully typical babe. With the twins in preschool all day, it’ll just be me and one baby hanging out. And hopefully a baby I am not spending every waking moment worrying about or taking to appts. It will be so …
    Easy? :) you look great. Keep cooking those babies!

    • We’re cooking over here! I kept Charlie in for 37 weeks and he was born at almost 8 pounds, so I’m hoping we’ll get the twins to at least four and some change each.

      I definitely think they’re fraternal–I’ve thought that since day one although they say you can never be sure–I even think their profiles look different on the ultrasound. I do think it would be funny if one of them got the “wild card” tall gene. My husband and I are terribly small, but we’ve both got tall people in our families. People would think there was a mix-up in the hospital!

      • I made it to 36 and a half weeks and my girls were 4lbs 10ozs and 5lbs .25ozs when they were born so I think your guys have a good chance at being over 4lbs

  3. You look amazing!

  4. Those same thoughts kept circulating through my mind when I was pregnant with my son. My special needs kid (Cayman) came to me first and my 2nd (Kobe) was a typical pregnancy, birth, and child. So much felt new even though I was already a mom. Then I discovered it was easy and relaxing. The one thing that is still mind blowing is how little I have to work with him and he develops. Holding up his head? He did it all on his own. Rolling over from his belly to back? All I had to do was make sure he was getting tummy time each day. An eating schedule? I don’t have set an alarm. He tells me when he’s hungry and eats more than his share.

    • I am so hoping it will be that way this time around. I love Charlie, but a little less worry would be fabulous.

  5. I love the photos!

    FWIW, I suspect our not-so-normal first go-round with parenting will make us much more comfortable with the variability that comes with normal parenting – we’ve already thrown out the book on what new things a baby should be doing this week, so a few surprises here and there aren’t going to throw us….though I do admit to thinking about signing myself up for a local parenting program that does those sorts of milestone checks, just because I have no idea what constitutes normal anymore.

    Having *been* a gifted kid, I think you should remember that gifted programs fall under special ed too, so it’s not really all that different from what you’re doing in many respects πŸ˜‰ Different diagnosis…a surprising overlap in the sorts of issues that come up.

    • Ahhhh. . . yes, a point brought up in my education classes–gifted in just another form of “special ed.” I think , really that in a way, that’s what I’m worried about–that I’ll be shuffling back and forth between two sides of the spectrum. But, I’ve been putting up with Hubby for about 13 years now, so if one or both of the twinkies is gifted, at least it will be familiar.

  6. Good news about the babies… woo hoo!!! And I love that photo of you sitting in the live oak… It’s beautiful!!!

    • I thought it was cool too. I look like I’m up in a tree even though I’m really like three inches from the ground.

  7. I think you are totally right to be worried about not having to be worried, because the experience from the outside looking in is different. My first wasn’t really the special needs variety, in fact, at age five it appears she may indeed be gifted, but I thought that a three pound two ounce early birth was the hard stuff. Staying four weeks in the hospital after her birth seemed huge, and as you said, nursing the normal way – without a nipple shield, priming the nipple with expressed milk, only using the good size for the first three monhts, etc., all seemed daunting. When number two was coming along and showed no signs of being small, early, or in any distress, I actually felt guilt for how things were for number one even though she has absolutely no health impacts showing from low birth weight or prematurity excepot still being very, very small relative to her peers. I felt a little sad that she would have a normal sized little sister, and then number two came along with the metabolic disorder, a metaolic crisis which ultimately caused a stroke and CP, a rgid and terrifying feeding schedule, hours and hours of therapy, and never ever hitting a developmental milestone on time – except that she knew all her upper and lower case letters by age two and a half. So all my worries were wasted!! Once again, when it comes to the experience of parenting and motherhood, I spent all my energies worrying about all the wrong things. I hope that indeed this birth experience and the process of mothering are dull and boring for you, so you’ll still have some fraction of energy left to spend, but then again – with twins, it will probably never actually bore you. Tee -hee! Just think of you, nursing twins simultaneously in a big recliner, one tucked football hold under each arm.

    • You are right about wasted worry. I worried endlessly about Charlie’s vision. Endlessly. And while not perfect, it’s certain functional and not something I ever think about any more. Wasted time!

      I do think it would be great if I could nurse the twins. I know there’s a lot of reason why it won’t work, but I am going to try.

  8. Love the pictures! Thanks for posting them :)

    I think you’ll be fine, in fact you’ll be better than fine, you’ll be great. It won’t be easy, parenting never is, though. And I’m sure there will be feelings of guilt.

    • There ya go! You’re are right–parenting is never easy. Interestingly enough, I had a whole list of worries before Charlie was born as well. Almost none of them are on my radar these days, but it’s a good reminder that you can figure things out as you go along.

  9. What sarah said.

    Right up front – I knew all developmental milestones backwards and forwards. But I still HAD to attend the “How to bathe your baby” class before taking him home. Thank goodness I did. When I shared this with the major adviser for my PhD (in child development) he told a hilarious (and similar) story of how he wasn’t going to attend that particular educational opportunity either but when he did, lo and behold there was much to learn!

    I think you will be fine if you just attend the bathe the baby class after they are born. πŸ˜‰

    • Luckily, I KNOW how to bathe a baby! Heck, what I don’t know how to do is bathe a preschooler very effectively.

      I guess we just have learn as we go, right?

  10. The pictures are amazing Katy. And what do people do with their “normal” kids all day? We chase them around the house and watch them hit their heads on a million things. I got out ABC flashcards the other day because I felt lazy, but Merrick only threw them around the room and that’s as far as we got. Guess who probably won’t know how to spell their own name until high school? My normal kid, that’s who.
    I am so glad for the good news from your babies’ doctor. I hope it lets you relax a little!

    • I am mostly relaxed, Toni–actually I’m just worried now that I’ll actually BE pregnant for thirty-seven or thirty-six weeks and how much that is going to HURT at the end.

      Charlie has a bizarre love of flashcards. I actually reward him for answering my questions by letting him chew on one for a minute–crazy kid. Merrick will be fine–but you know that. Someone told me that boys are less interested in words/writing/reading and I keep telling myself why it’s like pulling teeth to get Charlie to look at a book.

  11. Lovely pictures. Love the post too.

  12. Great pictures! What a beautiful way to document this unique time in your life. Parenting a normal child after disabled child is definitely different. I had forgotten about child proofing, climbing, babbling, wiggling etc. The one thing that has been annoying for me is that my first two normal children walked and began talking at around 12 months. Nate didn’t walk until after he was two and still has very limited speech. Even though I know Stewart is “normal” I find myself calming my brain. “Oh, my gosh. Stewy is 14 months and not walking. He doesn’t have a vocabulary of more than two words–MUST CALL EARLY INTERVENTION FOR EVALUATION. ” I’m looking at things through atypical development and forget that normal has a really broad range too. Poor Stew will always have to deal with me scrutinizing him for “normal” development because his older brother sent me through the developmental wringer. Moms with kids with disabilities just need to relax and let their typical kids to their thing. It’s actually quite astounding how naturally things come.

    • I tell ya, I look forward to being astounded–I think it will be quite a nice experience. I do wonder if I’ll scrutinize every moment or if I’ll walk around thinking my children are super-advanced when, in fact, they’re as typical as it gets.

  13. You look SO beautiful. SO.
    And honestly, I have no idea how people handle twins, so I will be rooting for you like mad! But I really have no clue how to manage tandem nursing or the like. I highly suggest some email exchanges with Swistle and Marie Green from Life in Tiny Town. They both have twins and I’m pretty sure they both breastfed, too, so I bet they’d be of help.

    • First, thank you! I have been in touch with Swistle and I love that she actually was able to tandem feed twins–people like her are hard to find! I don’t know Marie, but I’ll be stalking her shortly. Thanks for the recommendation.

  14. Love the pictures. You look great!

  15. you look great.

    When my 2nd child went to kidgergarten this year, I found it unnerving. I kept feeling like I was lacking. I didn’t have to do anything just put her on the bus.

    Where was the IEP meeting, the transistion meeting?? I didn’t agonize over a descion. It was anti-climatic.

    Oh, and what SN parents turned typical paents do is they haul a normal. kid to a big sibs neurologist appointment and when the appointment is over babble something like, “well, I know that Ian is only 13 months old and i know that I’m being neurotic but could you assess him for Autism because he’ s not walking and he only has 3 words. Oh, he loves being around people, can clap play peek a boo. But i know I’m being neurotic and the biggest indicator of Autism is having a sibling with Autism”

    Lauren’s neuroligst assessed him about 2 minutes and said I should have no worries about him and then laughed. I really like him and he gets me. It was reassuring.

    • I so get this I am tempted to do this as well with my girls just so that I can breathe easier!

    • Oh, Kristin. I get that. The basis of all of Charlie’s issues is his heart and you better believe I have scrutinized every. single. reading. from the second we were able to get a heartbeat. I’m a little nutty about that and think it’s entirely clear why!

  16. I love your last line there. And if you need help with so called “typical” children, don’t go callin’ me because I don’t know what I’m doing either. See? It’s all good… ;-P

    LOVE your photos, you are gorgeous!! xoxo

    • Elaine, you are too funny–you seem to be doing a pretty good job! But I know what you mean–who does have all the answers?

  17. I love the photos! What a nice way to capure and remember your pregnancy…

    Despite your worries posted here, you sound optimistic to me — hooray!

    Others here have said that typical kids pretty much develop on their own — and, having four typical kids and one similar to Charlie, I agree. You just make sure they have opportunities and support, and they will blossom before your eyes. Also, don’t worry about the gifted thing. I was labeled as “gifted,” as is at least one of my daughters, and I feel strongly that there is not a big difference between most gifted and non-gifted kids. With all, you just make sure that they have the opportunities that they need via classes, field trips or whatever — and you have already demonstrated extreme excellence in that area with Charlie. It is actually a pet peeve of mine when or if people short change non-“gifted” kids simply because they lack the label…

  18. What beautiful photos! You look terrific!

  19. I love the pictures!

    I can only imagine how strange it must be for you to think about actually having two healthy babies, but I have a GREAT feeling about this. I have from the beginning when I cried when I read that you were not only pregnant, but pregnant with twins. You’re an awesome woman, a teacher even–you’ll figure out life with “typical” children. :)

  20. Love the pictures! You look fantastic!

    I have no advice about raising typically developing children. That is not my normal and often wonder how I would handle it myself. I have no doubt that you will tackle this just as you do anything else. With determination, persistance and wisdom.

  21. so true! I now have a teen ager and I realize I don’t know how to deal with the “normal” stuff teens do, but I’m great at handling emergencies, doctor appointments, therapists, and lessons, all while holding onto her with one hand to keep her balanced while using ASL with the other.

    This is our normal.

    I’m so pleased to hear the babies are thriving!

  22. …but you are having TWO babies. I would have no idea what to do with 2 babies the exact same age. I am sure you will be fine just like before.

  23. you are lovely, as are your heart, perspective, family, and the photos. so, so lovely.

  24. What a beautiful post, girl. I had never thought about the kind of thoughts you would have this time around. I obviously don’t have any great advice on this, but I know all about postpartum anxiety so I’ll be an ear if you ever need one to listen! :)
    No matter what awaits you with these babies, they couldn’t ask for a better mommy.

  25. Somebody asked me recently how I managed having twins! And honestly the best answer is that I just did. I had help… I walked like a zombie for a year and more but they survived. I didn’t think I would do the breast feed thing but I did I even did the multiple feed thing and survived. When the time comes you will handle. The hardest part was not having twins but trying to juggle 4 children while giving every body the time due to them… still working at it LOL
    And you are a teacher it will be nothing for you to entertain and educate two gifted ones.
    I understand the concern about whether or not they would be typical… I can’t help to watch my two like hawks for signs of being on the spectrum… they are progressing happily in spite of it LOL! It has been kind of shocking seeing them grow and find words and walk and talk and do mischief. My normal before as well was all so delayed that I am shocked that milestones are being beat!
    Happy that all three of you and Charlie are doing great!
    Know that tears, anxiety and concerns are all part of it geez you are pregnant with twins after all! LOL
    You look fab by the way but I said that before.

  26. Katy,
    you are so beautiful, girl!!!

  27. Kristen says:

    You’ll do great. I had the other situation. My second has mild special needs (at least comparative to what it could be, nothing is *mild* to a mother) and I still remember my first at being harder. With my oldest, I so worried that I was being a good parent. I must have read that baby book a thousand times. I kept lists and notes about everything, milestones, feedings, etc. I was just so unsure. With my youngest, even when she didn’t make some of the milestones, I never felt like I was to blame. I guess I felt like I had already been “proven” by my first born. I didn’t lose a lot of sleep about what I could have done differently. I just attacked the concerns head on. Will you worry? Yes, worry is another word for mother, but you won’t obsess in the same way. Will things be different? Yes and while you’ll probably mourn a little for what wasn’t for Charlie, boy will you appreciate the normal more than any other mother. My little one has a hearing impairment and speech delay/impediment. Even when she sasses me, I want to smile because she can TALK. But at the end of the day, parenting is parenting: you love them, you fight for them, you teach them. You already know how to do all of that.

  28. Iwillskate says:

    I’m s spectrum flicker… My older two boy and girl figureskate, my Oatie has CP… I’m constantly flipping from one spectrum to the other.. At times it does feel like you’re leading a double life… :) lol! But my older two with Oatie are just magic… The bonds they have with him and Are his champion supporter. You’re already an awesome mum, I think twins for you will ne a walk in the park… But I will say this, one of the other comments made me smile… The little things are effortless for them. And you have hankie moments seeing the contrasts in ability… Mine are all gifted, the my daughter is fluent in English and French, she only speaks french at school and she’s in K, a bilingual totally self taught fluent reader… But I’d say that Oatie is even brighter than she is… He just has a harder time to express it. I think you’re going to be fabulous and you have us all rooting for you x. Love. Mel x

  29. kaylynn says:

    I’m a fellow special needs mom. I have an 8 month old daughter with holoprosencephaly. I found your blog on another moms page! I came across this entry and really felt connected! I am also pregnant again… and I also am getting very anxious about having a child without medical problems.. I’m scared of bottle and breats feeding vs tube and pump feeding and having to use a bulb suction vs an electric suction.. and what to do with the baby if it crys? Because my kaylee is so well behaved lol and what about the spare time inbetween doctors visits and all that stuff.. it is nice to know that I am not abnormal in this!! Its nice to know I’m not weird or a bad mom for being frieghtened.

  30. I’ve been there — not with twins of course. Our younger daughter was born just 3 years shy of my oldest daughter’s diagnosis. She was born completely normal (a tad bit early ) but did all the normal things. We didn’t have to work with her to get her to eat, talk,crawl, or walk. In fact she did it all ahead of schedule.

    In 2004, your younger and normal child was tested for she was reading at a 2nd grade level at 4. Yep, she was deemed gifted and highly capable. We are have a kid each on the educational/development spectrum.

    It’s a fine balence sometimes but easily manageable. In fact, its been a sort of blessing for us.

    Good luck – I’m sure it will all work out the way it is supposed to . :)

  31. This post has been in my reader for a while because I wanted to respond to it so much! :) I could’ve written this post myself (minus 1 of the babies part) a few months ago. I want to put your mind at ease: over 4 weeks into having a normie baby–it is SO MUCH EASIER! (At least for now–I imagine that might change once she starts crawling, but it’ll be harder in a good way.) The first week or so after Victoria was born was very emotional for my husband and I since she was developing so much faster and easier than Bertrand ever could, but now the delta between them has grown sufficiently that I can enjoy her milestones (yes, MILESTONES, not inchstones!) without a bittersweet feeling accompanying them. Sometimes, I tell her to slow down! I want to savor every development (like I do with Bertrand)–instead it’s like she’s cramming Godiva chocolate down my throat. That said, I like chocolate. πŸ˜‰ I am so very proud of BOTH my wonderful kids! Bertrand had his first dance performance this weekend at which his class got the only standing ovation! And Victoria is smiling socially, scooting across a crib, reaching for faces/objects, and starting to coo! You’ll be an incredibly happy and proud mama too–although probably more sleep deprived! πŸ˜‰ Even though the pregnancy hormones may make it hard to imagine now, you’ll go with the flow and figure things out just fine. :)

    PS – I’d recommend saving some money to buy baby supplies you didn’t think of because the first time was so different. For example, I had to buy burp clothes (since B didn’t need them–no spit up), swaddle clothes (B couldn’t use them because of neuropathy), and baby books/keepsake box (I’d forgotten I would need to collect medical records or keep a medical blog)!

  32. You will be just fine!! I’m sure 3 years ago you didn’t think you could handle all that you’ve done for Charlie, but look how God has grown & changed you & given you the strength to help him grow physically and mentally!!! He will give you the strength and the wisdom to parent your twins as well, and you will thrive. All that you put into Charlie’s development, the research, the devotion to him, you’ll be able to do all of that for your twins, too, and you will love it. Praying for you! :) Oh, and your maternity pictures are gorgeous!!! :)

  33. Such beautiful maternity pix!