Parents of Multiples group forms

Ever feel like all the baby-care hacks are geared toward one baby at a time?

You’re not alone and to help families with multiples (i.e. twins, triplets) a new group has formed.

Missoula Parents of Multiples was formed by Emma Hunter and Cerisse Allen – both parents of twins and certified lactation consultants.

The group meets the first Thursday of each month from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Missoula Public Library. (Although Hunter said they are open to meeting at a different time if it will be easier for families to attend.) The gathering is a judgement-free zone for families to share experiences and support each other, Hunter said.

“I feel like you don’t realize until you have more than one baby what a large part of all of our available parenting advice is specifically geared toward one mom and one baby,” she said.

“It’s nice to be able to chat with people who have made it through the first year of two or what have you to be able to bounce ideas off of,” she said.

Especially when children are younger, it can be reassuring to see other moms and families handling the demands of multiples and still managing to enjoy them, she said, adding she and Allen became friends after bumping into each other when walking their children and then again through mutual friends.

Basic needs are the same for all babies, Hunter said.

“It’s just more relentless,” she said about caring for multiples.

“It’s just keeping up without really getting much of a break very often,” she added.

Being pregnant with and giving birth to multiples also presents challenges and moms can’t legally have a home or birth center birth experience. Cesarean sections also are more common and it’s not unusual to spend active labor in the operating room just in case, Hunter said.

Sometimes, moms have a vaginal delivery for the first baby and a c-section for the second, which means they recover from both types of delivery after, she said.

Neonatal intensive care unit stays also are more prevalent for multiples, she said.

“It seems like something most of the moms don’t really get an opportunity to talk about much but then given the opportunity they were eager to,” Hunter said about the first group meeting earlier this month.

“It seems like the desire to be kind of proactive and provide support in turn to someone going through a similar difficult situation is definitely there,” she added.

For more information, or to make suggestions about what meeting time would be best, find Missoula Parents of Multiples on Facebook.


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More “storks”

The stork’s not the only game in town for delivering babies anymore.

Options for where moms can give birth in Missoula are varied between Community Medical Center, complete with the highest level of neonatal intensive care unit available; The Birth Center, with its relaxed, homelike atmosphere (and no epidurals); and having a midwife attend to your bedside (really with no epidurals).

This combination has worked to handle a steady number of  births for several years.

But health care in Missoula promises growth in the coming years.

Health care as an industry is Missoula’s No. 1 labor earnings generator (no pun intended, swear), and as soon as June 2015, Providence St. Patrick Hospital says they will join in OB, newborn and pediatric services.

Although they’ve been mum on details so far, they did say they’ll offer a Level II NICU, a level below Community’s.

Whether there are enough births to go around, without services and outcomes for moms and babies suffering, remains the question.

Babies will always be part of health care and while Missoula’s population isn’t growing quickly, it’s not declining either, said Bryce Ward, who heads up health care research at UM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

“It will work itself out, particularly as long as Missoula continues to grow,” Ward said of the expanded services. “More babies will be delivered here and whatever capacity St. Pat’s ultimately creates will probably end up getting utilized over the long term.”

In the meantime, Missoula women still have a wide array of options for how to bring their babies into the world.

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The waiting game

Waiting has never been my strong suit. Perhaps that’s why being a reporter and pushing to get information first and fast suits me so well.

I don’t relish anticipation. Take for example the lead up to Christmas morning. I know there will be gifts, but I don’t know anything past that and mulling the options in my mind while I wait to open the shiny packages is torture.

Waiting for Bob’s arrival is like that. I have so many unanswered questions. What color will Bob’s eyes be? How much will Bob weigh? Will Bob be healthy? Will Bob be a boy? A girl? A hearty eater? A sound sleeper (please, pretty please)?

All the tidying, washing and organizing is finished. The rocking chair and crib are in place. The extra cell phone charger and clothes are in a bag to take to the hospital.

There are no last-minute to-dos to distract me from wondering when contractions will begin. Every time Bob punches, kicks or stretches I hold my breath … waiting … for something more to come.

Granted, I have a week between me and Bob’s official due date. My doctor keeps reminding me that’s just a guess.

Bob could come any moment. Or not.

So far it’s been not … and I’m still waiting …

I’ve done everything I can think of to speed up the process.

I floated the river, twice. I’ve walked and jumped vigorously in water aerobics. I even tried the fail-proof house-cleaning rampage.

Tuesday Jared had a 48 hour reprieve from the harvest field. I told Bob to hurry up and come while Jared was home to save him from having to drive back to Gildford and then home again. Bob didn’t listen.

On the bright side, all this waiting has answered the question of whether Bob will be stubborn or not. Definitely stubborn.

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An oldie but a goodie

When I jokingly told my coworkers how much I dislike static electricity this morning as my skirt clung to my legs, I also divulged that I haven’t shaved in several days.

Which led to digging up this beauty about Missoula’s earthy women.

It’s an old column, but it still rings true and made me feel like it will be OK if I don’t shave tomorrow either.

I am pregnant after all.

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Apparently I wear really baggy clothes.

It wasn’t until an office barbecue a week ago that several people realized I’m pregnant.

Yesterday a co-worker said, congratulations! And I looked at him quizzically and said, huh.

You’re having a baby, right? he said.

Oh, yeah, thanks, I replied.

After he left the newsroom I asked my coworkers if it was really that covert that I’m expecting.

I did think your love of pizza and ice cream was catching up to you for a while, a coworker said.

The comment struck home after having seen a number 30 pounds higher than my first visit on the doctor’s office scale earlier in the day.

Didn’t the doctor tell you you could only gain so many pounds, Jared had asked.

Am I really that fat, I asked in return.

Well, no, he said, his sense of survival kicking in.

The only spots I’ve noticed are my boobs and stomach and maybe a little bit in my thighs, I said defensively. Except for my thighs, that’s all Bob.

Well, you haven’t been that active, Jared said.

I guess I’ll have to start walking more, because giving up ice cream is not an option.

And apparently, neither is giving up red velvet cupcakes that a coworker brought to share today.

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My fall earlier this week must have scared Jared as much as it scared me because I came home Thursday evening to find this …

jared paints

Either that or he felt really guilty about going fishing today.

Not that I’m complaining – the nursery is now primed and partially painted and he can no longer make fun of me for the pink, polka-dotted stool I bought when we first moved into our house. Turns out it’s pretty useful (and sturdy) after all.


In case you were wondering, here’s how it turned out. (Spoiler alert: It’s BRIGHT!)

We like it so much we spent a half hour just sitting — and what my mother would call “processing” — in the room last night. Bella cat also poked her nose in and sniffed around at the new set up.

Granted, it’s not really finished. I’m still searching for a rug and curtains and the closet needs to be filled with diapers.

But I’ve got to say, having it mostly finished took the edge of my anxiousness.

Kuddos to Jared!

nursery2 nursery3 nursery1I


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Falling in love

An encounter with cement steps Monday left me with a bruised back and the realization I love my baby.

Mentally and emotionally adjusting to the fact we’re having a baby has been difficult for me.

Sure, we talked about trying to get pregnant. It wasn’t an accident. Jared’s getting older and my sister has Down Syndrome, something I’ve watched my mother painfully yet beautifully handle. Nonetheless, it’s an experience I don’t want to repeat.

When I realized I was pregnant six months after landing a job at the Missoulian and only a month after we moved into our first house, my emotions were pretty muddled between disbelief, this will be fine, don’t ruin Jared’s excitement, and now what?

So far I’ve been a conscientious parent. I take prenatal vitamins, read out loud, try not to use curse words and eat more vegetables than cake.

But conscientious isn’t enough and I’ve felt guilty for feeling like I’m giving up something I wasn’t quite ready to give up.

Monday the missing piece I had been praying for finally appeared.

I had just finished an interview and was headed back to the office when I slipped and fell square on my bottom on a flight of concrete steps.

Oh my gosh, are you OK, the photo intern exclaimed (she’s now scarred for life, I’m afraid).

Yes, just let me sit here a minute, I said grimacing.

When I ascertained nothing was broken, I stood up and continued walking before I realized that something wet had soaked through my pants.

Uh oh, I said. Did my water just break?

I don’t feel funny. Maybe it’s just pee, I followed up, laughing it off.

I made it back to the office to drop off the intern and was nearly home before Jared called me.

If you’re home, don’t leave. I fell. I’m scared, I told him, breaking into tears and starting to shake.

My pants are soaked. I’m coming home to change and see if it’s just pee, I said.

But a sniff test was inconclusive.

So we ended up heading to the hospital, where they did an ultrasound, attached fetal monitors and tested for amniotic fluid proteins.

Bob, who had been suspiciously still in the hour after the fall, began to vigorously kick.

Maybe Bob will be a daredevil, Jared joked.

Do you see how upset I am now, I asked. I can’t handle a daredevil.

Could it be that you’re coming around to this whole motherhood thing, Jared asked.

Yes, I thought, realizing suddenly I love Bob. I am all the way around to this motherhood thing despite this pervasive anxiety about what’s coming.

All the monitoring showed that Bob is fine.

I have never been so relieved to have peed my pants in my life.

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Baggy bottoms

I caved.

Friday, I ventured into the world of maternity clothes.

I held out for six months, but those buttons on my jeans just aren’t comfortable anymore and neither are the rubber bands. Plus, my dresses are starting to look like what a friend calls “mullet dresses.”

Turns out, maternity clothes are really cute and, surprisingly, flattering.

The problem lies in their very solution, though.

Those elastic bands are comfy, but not really tight.

As if I don’t feel pudgy enough already, now I have to contend with pants that get saggy as the day goes on and require continual upward tugging.

Pretty soon it will be warm enough that I could probably get away with just wearing a bathing suit.

But I decided I should stick to maternity clothes for everyone’s sake – and eyesight.

So if you see me around town tugging, you know why.

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March for Babies Saturday

If you need a little inspiration in addition to your normal caffeine today, here it is:

Both Zeyda McAfee and Hudson Butterfield weighed in at 360 grams when they were born — that’s about the size of a small latte from Starbucks.

I met Zeyda a few months ago when she was strong enough to go home from the hospital. When I saw her again Tuesday, she was still small for her age, but big on cooing, bouncing and grabbing hair.

Zeyda, her mom Ashley Miller, left, and Dr. Bonnie Stephens

Hudson and I met for the first time Wednesday. He’s now 3 1/2, busy with preschool and learning to ride a tricycle. He does have some lingering health and developmental impacts from being born at 25 weeks, but he’s such a cool dude, you don’t notice.

Saturday, Zeyda and Hudson will join dozens of other families and people interested in preventing premature births during the annual March for Babies, which is put on by March of Dimes.

It’ll be the first time Zeyda has gone to the walk, and the third for Hudson.

“Hudson was still on oxygen for his first walk,” his mom Tiffany Shanahan told me.

This weekend, I bet he’ll be tough to keep pace with!

For event info, go here.

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Climb out of the Darkness to raise awareness about postpartum mood disorders

Last week I got a note from Samantha Hines about an event called Climb out of the Darkness Missoula. It’s aimed at raising awareness of postpartum depression and other mood disorders, and Samantha very kindly pointed out that it’s coming up on June 21.

That’s a Saturday – and the official start of summer. In short, a wonderful day to show up at the Mt. Sentinel M trail at 11 a.m. Bring a picnic lunch afterward, at noon, to the Oval.

And register – it’s free but required – here:

Here’s the description provided on Crowdrise:

Climb Out of the Darkness is the annual awareness raising and fundraising event for Postpartum Progress, a nonprofit focused on supporting pregnant and new moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis and pregnancy depression. Also, Climb Out of the Darkness kicks ass. Just so you know.

For more information, send Samantha an email at