“Ain’t this just like the present / to be showing up like this”. I’ve always come back to these lyrics by Bon Iver reflecting on events in my life that have stop me dead in my tracks. May 14, 2013 was one of those days. My wife (Nikki) and I rushed to the nearby hospital from our work. Less then a day later our lives would never be the same. Nikki gave birth to our beautiful son Avett (pronounced “a-vit”) and daughter McCartney (pronounced like the good looking Beatle). The “dead in the tracks” moment was not just because we were about to become parents but that this “parent” label was going to come 13 weeks before we “expected” it. Born at just 2 pounds each we had no idea the 93 and 99 day roller coaster ride the Einstein Montgomery / st. Chris NICU was about to take us on . Finally home in August (the true due date) we began to prepare ourselves (subconsciously) for the all inspiring (not kidding) ARC ALLIANCE staff that was about to thrust our “preemies”(hate this word and how it sounds) to the first “twin presidency of the United States”(high hopes dad).
We initially got connected with the Arc Alliance to receive physical therapy due to Avett’s club feet diagnosis . With his “champion bloodline” and adding a professional to support us I was confident we would have the kids running a no huddle offense in no time. Initially our case manager had told us that we could switch the therapist if we felt the chemistry was off. It was evident upon our first session with Mrs. Ellen Casey that we would not need to request another therapist. Miss Ellen immediately made me feel comfortable in my own house. I know that sounds strange to read and believe me, it’s strange to type. Being a new parent I didn’t know what to expect with a home physical therapy session. A session , mind you, that was for a child too young to sit up on his own and one in foot braces 22 hours a day at the time (12-18-13). Miss Ellen immediately got involved, engaged with not only Avett but his sister and their secret service detail (2 dogs). Miss Ellen gave me simple techniques and tips I hadn’t thought myself to even try such as “side lying” to strengthen their core . Miss Ellen had also provided me with sunflower oil (from her personally) and a baby massage book along with hands on instructions. She made it an inviting environment to ask questions and to bounce ideas off of. Over the past year Miss Ellen has been a weekly staple on our schedule (alternating between kids) for therapy. Some sessions were video camera grabbing THEY’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE and some were frustrating “will they ever grasp this 2 legged human walk concept”? Miss Ellen was there thru it all, never wavering, trusting the process. From 7am-12pm and 3pm-8pm I can assure you the no huddle offense is in full effect in the Hobson household or any place we may be visiting at any particular time. Recently Miss Ellen and I agreed to step back services to every other week due to the kids progression. It was a strange feeling the weeks we were off from physical therapy. Now when Ellen comes for a session it’s like an old friend you look forward to catching up with.
With premature twins playing catch up to their counterparts is a very real thing. Beginning in March of last year Mrs. Lori Nichols completed a consultation on McCartney’s feeding habits and “intermittent tongue protrusion”. We added speech therapy services and hit the ground running with Miss Lori in the same way we did with Miss Ellen. Eventually Avett was also added to receive speech services due to a delay in his speech. Miss Lori too became a staple to our weekly schedule even to this day. Miss Lori not only explains to me what she is doing but WHY she is doing it. She supports her work with research that proves it’s effectiveness (i.e. sign language helps promote talking). She informs you of the why and it all becomes so clear. Additionally she offers “life hacks” that make everyday life easier, for example “tying a rubber band around a straw so the kids cannot pull out the straw and dump their “cocktail” all over a “somewhat” clean floor. Miss Lori has supported “Hobson Santa” this year in acquiring toys that would promote pretend play as well has given me countless meal ideas for the kids. But I think the most beneficial thing Miss Lori has given us is her pep talks. Not every session has been whole milk and animal crackers. Miss Lori could sense I probably was a little dejected some sessions at their “lack of progress or “plateau”. She reigned me in, reassured me, trust the process and then she would tell me a story about how not so long ago the kids “couldn’t even do that…do you remember that?” Woosah Travis. Woosah. The bottom line is speech therapy can be a struggle some days . It’s not about teaching the kids as much as it’s a session for me to learn. But in turn, I then make it a 7 day session for the kids (muhahaha).
Over the past summer Miss Lori and Miss Ellen had informed us that the Arc Alliance was going to offer a 10 week music class in the fall and that we should consider signing up. Miss Lori felt that it could help with the kids gesture imitating and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for the kids to be around some kids their own age. l will admit that the first week I was a little apprehensive. To this point I had shielded the kids from other kids due to warnings from the NICU nurses and pulmonary doctor about the kids weak immune systems. I was nervous about how the kids would be with other kids and how I would do being their wrangler. This was the moment where it shows what a terrible job I’ve been doing as a stay at home dad. I know it. Children and youth on speed dial. Woosah Travis. Woosah. Upon walking in we met a friendly face in Mrs. Diana Polec. She was eager to come right out from behind the desk and greet the 3 of us with a great big smile. She personally showed us to the basement where class was going to be held. Any apprehension that I had left following our greeting surely disappeared when we met the music instructor Mrs. Fran Crowe. Another great big smile and I’ll say this. It takes a special kind of person to be able to run that music class. The rules were simple 1.)”as long as your kid isn’t a danger to himself or others let them explore the room”2.) “you as the parent continue to participate in the music class and they will learn by watching you” and 3.) my favorite “you must sit with sticks”. In between trying to participate, I spent the first 9 of 10 weeks chasing Hobson’s away from speaker wires and wall sockets along with the tremendous help of Mrs. Dana Blazo. During the week I just kept playing the music at home from the CDs that Miss Fran gave to the class. Sometimes we did the gestures along with it, sometimes we danced to it, sometimes we just had it as background noise while we made dinner. Little by little during class I noticed that even though the kids weren’t in the music circle, or even sitting still when a song came, their heads would perk up. I began to notice when we got into the jeep to head back home after music class that the kids were a lot more vocal. God knows what they were saying, but it sounded like they enjoyed themselves. When I was informed that Miss Fran was going to offer a winter music class there wasn’t any doubt in my mind that we wanted to be a part of it. It’s unbelievable how the kids sit in the music class and “kinda” participate now. “Progress” I can hear uditory hallucinations of Miss Lori. The rules that Miss Fran have in place are there for a reason. Trust the process.
I think something the books don’t tell new parents is to be mindful of the moment. Quit worrying about “the next milestone”. Hakuna matata. I told myself I wouldn’t be that dad but during some of the sessions I needed to be re-educated. It’s not that we don’t have a loving and strong family support system as is but when you have a chance to add family like the Arc Alliance that also brings a “professional background” it’s a no brainer for me. My kids are by no means “caught up” or where they should be to their “corrective age”. We are scheduled to add another member of the Arc Alliance family to our family, Miss Colleen Brawn – dietician. It never seems to end but that’s something else about parenthood that you learn on the job. Revel in the “never-ending”. A final thought I’d like to end with. Despite my kids being delayed in just about every category. It took me all this typing to deliver my thoughts and feelings to the Arc Alliance whereas Avett and McCartney show it with a laugh and ear to ear smile whenever we get out of the jeep in the Arc parking lot or when an Arc member walks thru the threshold of our house ready to go to work. “Ain’t this just like the present…”
With complete and utter gratitude,