Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!


We had a great Halloween.  I thought I would post some pictures while I'm waiting up for the midnight feed. 

 Brenna, Colin, and Brylee decorated some pumpkins out on the deck.

This is Brylee's pumpkin.  Those things on the side of the pumpkin face are pictures of Camdyn and Cade swaddled up.  So cute!

Then the kids decorated Halloween cupcakes.

Don't they look beautiful?

Here's our Toy Story clan with me and Jim as Ms. and Mr. Potato Head, the babies as aliens, and Brenna as Jessie.  Too bad that I am the only one looking excited about taking a picture.

The cutest aliens that you ever saw!

the aliens strolling along

me and my precious kiddos

one tired alien

two tired aliens - Let's call it a night and go home!

I took this picture earlier this  week.  I found Brenna "blow drying" Cade's hair as he was sitting in his swing.  I just had to take a picture.  Look at his expression.  "Mom, make her stop!"  and look at how intent Brenna is on fixing his hair just right.  This cracks me up!

Here Camdyn is giving us her big sweet smiles!

I have entered the babies in the Hand to Hold "Preemie Power" contest.  You can go to their website to vote for Camdyn and Cade.  You can vote once a day.  The contest ends Nov. 14th.  Thanks for your vote for our little superheroes!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Interesting Finds


We've been unpacking things all weekend at our new house.  It is finally starting to feel a little more organized.  While unpacking I found some pretty interesting things.  When we sold our house and moved into the rental house, I was in the hospital so our family packed us up.  I found all sorts of things I had completely forgotten about.  Here are some of my interesting finds:

- a bag of unopened scrapbook stickers from Hobby Lobby that I must have bought just prior to having the babies.  They were pregnancy stickers and Easter stickers.  We spent Easter in the hospital.  The babies were born the day after Easter.  It kind of felt as if time had stood still.  We went in at Easter, and now Halloween is the first holiday we will spend out of a hospital.

- a note that a nurse had written for us showing the babies' weights the first few days.  Even though I already knew that after a couple of days Camdyn had dropped down to just 1 lb, it was still shocking to see it on paper.

- a note that I had jotted down (I must have called the NICU and wrote notes to tell Jimmy later.)  It said, "Camdyn - 50%, 2.3 mL, arterial line" and "Cade -36%, 2.5 mL,  will attempt arterial line again later."  The percentages were their oxygen needs and the mL were the tiny amount of breast milk they were getting.  That really brought me back, and I am so thankful that we are not there now.

- tiny, precious preemie clothes.  Looking back at these clothes, I already can't even believe that these tiny, tiny clothes that fit in just the palm of my hand were once too big for them!  It really showed me just how much they have grown.

- My funniest find were the books that I had with Brenna - What to Expect When You are Expecting and What to Expect the First Year.  What a joke!  I don't think that you can find "Expect to go into labor at 24 weeks" anywhere in the first book, and I'm pretty sure that not one thing would be applicable to raising micro-preemies in the second book.  Every preemie mom would like to have a neat and tidy book to sum up what to expect in the first year; however, in the preemie world, all you can expect is to not know what will happen, when it will happen, or if it will happen.  (I quickly tossed these books into the donate pile, laughing as I did so.)

We are so excited to get to finally spend a holiday out of the hospital.  Since we went in at Easter, the babies spent Mother's Day, Father's Day, and July 4th in the NICU.  Then we were back at the hospital with Camdyn on Labor Day, so tomorrow will be our first holiday together as a family!  I can't wait to dress up the babies and Brenna for Halloween.  I will be sure to post some pictures of my adorable children soon.  Happy Halloween to all of you!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teetering on the Edge of Sanity

Just a quick update to let you all know that I may end up being committed to a mental institution at any moment.  We have moved into our new house which is really exciting but so far I have only managed to break my toe on the couch and get a speeding ticket in the school zone that we now pass.  I was rushing to the studio in between one of our many constant feeding times only to realize that I was being pulled over.  Now I have to either pay a ticket or take defensive driving in all of my extra hours in my days!!!!  I didn't wish evil on the cop that pulled me over.  I just wished for him to experience ONE of my days.  He would then understand why I was in a hurry.  If he had ONE of my days, he wouldn't have given me a ticket.  He would probably be paying me to not have to do it again.  All I know right now is that I  am very, very near insanity!  I am teetering on the edge of the cliff hanging on by just my broken toe, so if I am given any more to deal with, I will be right over the edge.  Maybe then I can get some rest in the insane asylum.  Well, I have to go feed the babies or attempt to feed the babies once again.  Camdyn is refusing every bottle and Cade is still not accepting his bottle either.  What fun!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's Not Getting any Easier!

I've been asked by several people if it is getting any easier, and told by others, who have no clue, "Oh, it will get easier."  The people who are telling me, not asking me all come from people who have not had micro-preemies.  Yes, it does get easier for full-term babies.  They start taking their bottles more quickly, then they move to feeding every 4-5 hours, then they start sleeping through the night, etc., etc. etc.  These things all happened with Brenna, but those things are foregin to us now.  I want to ask these people who say with so much certainty that things are going to get easier, "How do you know it's going to get easier?  Did you have micro-preemies or even preemies for that matter?  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to manage 5-6 doctor/therapy appointments per week for each of your twins, try to find time to mix bottles, spend an hour to an hour and a half feeding them every 3 hours, keep your house clean enough to live in, try to find time to do the exercises recommended by all the therapists, and maybe fit in a shower?"  But then I decide that would be rude and they are only trying to be nice, so I just nod my head in agreement.

While I don't have to worry about them as much as I did (Thank God!), our schedules seem to be getting more demanding than less.  My frustration level is through the roof.  We are working with Early Childhood Intervention, a state program that provides therapy services to children under 3 years old who qualify.  After about 3 weeks of phone calls, we finally now have a speech therapist who works on feeding issues with both of the babies and works on Cade's oral aversion with him.  She is great and has helped a lot.  The coordinator is not so great.  When I asked about getting physical therapy services for the twins, she told me that she didn't really think they needed it without ever having a physical therapist even touch them.  I had to tell her that they are 24 week babies.  Of course, they need it!  They, at least, need to be seen by a physical therapist to determine if they need it.  I had to seek private physical therapy and discovered that Cade has torticollis, which means his neck muscles are tight causing a right side head preference.  She has been working with him on this and says it should be better in a few months.  When I told the ECI coordinator about this and asked again if they could send us a physical therapist, she told me that I shouldn't expect the babies to do what a 6 month old baby does which I already know.  Does she really think I don't know that ?!?  Then she told me that a way that I could save on co-pays with the private therapy was to have them just see Cade and then do the same things with Camdyn.  I wanted to scream, "They are not the same baby.  They are TWO different babies with different needs." So frustrating!  The most frustrating part is now that we are about to move into our new house, we have to completely change ECI programs because we will be in a different county.  I'm sure I have a ton of frustration ahead of me.  This means that we are going to lose the speech therapist who we like and who knows how long it is going to take them to get us a new one.  I have found an occupational therapist through a private company that is going to see Cade also two times a week to work on feeding.

I posted a while back that I wasn't going to complain about the babies not taking their bottles.  I had overheard so many parents in the NICU complaining that their babies wouldn't take their bottle when I didn't even know if my babies were going to live.  I said that if we get to that point, I wouldn't complain about it.  Well, I want to take that statement back.  I had no idea that we would still be dealing with it at this point and it was going to be such a battle for us.  I thought they would get it a few weeks after their due date.  After all, the other babies in the NICU all seemed to get it by their due date.  I was giving mine a little more time taking into account that they were earlier than most.  I am so thankful that this seems to be our only major issue; I know things could be a lot worse.  So while I am grateful that they escaped so many preemie issues, I can't deny that I feel frustrated.

Babies' Update:

Camdyn is doing much better.  In fact, she is completely off the ng tube !!!!  She is working on taking all of her bottles.  She still gets very tired at the end, and she is really tired during the night feeds, but she is making a lot of progress.  It still takes 45 minutes to an hour to feed her.  I hope she will be able to get faster at this.  She now weighs 11 lbs.  She is doing great in motor development.  The physical therapist said she is actually a little ahead of her adjusted age (2 1/2 month) milestones and that she will only need to be seen once a month to follow her development.  It is so cute when she stands assisted or pushes up on her hands and looks around because she is still so tiny.  You wouldn't normally see an 11 lb. baby doing these things so it is pretty cute.

Cade had another ENT appointment last week.  She said that his left vocal cord has drifted slightly more to midline and that the right vocal cord was very active.  While that wasn't a significant change, it was still good news.  She said that was probably why he was able to pass his swallow study.  We have been putting flavor on his pacifier and that has really seemed to help his gagging.  He started today with the speech therapist trying to take a few swallows from a bottle.  He managed to take 2-3 swallows, and when he did this I cried as if he had just won an Olympic medal.  I was so proud of those 2-3 swallows!  We were given several exercises to do with him to help build his oral muscles.  I am so hoping that this all is going to work.  He now weighs 14 1/2 pounds.  He will still see the physical therapist weekly to work on his tight neck muscles.  This was most likely caused from being in the NICU for so long.  We also are going to be getting Cade a Doc band (helmet) to shape his head.  This is not a medical necessity, but I want him to have a nice "dome" (as Daddy calls it).  It is misshapen from laying on his right side so much in the NICU.  He'll have to wear it for probably 2-3 months.  Our insurance doesn't cover this, but I still feel like he needs it.  His head is very flat in the back and his forehead is more prominent on the right side.  If I don't do it, I'll always think I should have.  It's best to do it earlier since it is easier to shape the head.  After 12 months old, it doesn't work very well.  Stay tuned for some pictures of my little man sporting his handsome helmet.

Both babies will be getting their first Synagis shots on Nov. 1st.  This is the RSV vaccine.  I am going to be able to breathe just a little easier once these begin.  If they were to contract RSV, it would be much less severe with the shots.  If they were to get RSV without the shots, it would be life-threatening.  They have to get 5 shots - one each month Nov, Dec., Jan., Feb., Mar.  The shot lasts for about a month.  Insurance does cover this which is awesome because we wouldn't be able to afford it otherwise.  Each shot costs $2,500.  Multiply that X 2 for each baby = $5,000 per month.  Multiply that X 5 months = $25,000 in shots!  Wow!

So, if you have read through all of this long post, you have finally made it to the good stuff.  There is a lot of good stuff.  I may have sounded frustrated, which I am, but I am also enjoying my babies so much.  We are having a great time between all those feeds!

I'm under all those babies somewhere.  I could sure use another arm.

a proud big sister

This was so cute.  Brenna was "reading" to "girl baby" and "boy baby".  She would "read" one page to Camdyn, and then go to the other side of the living room to "read" one page to Cade. (excuse our messy house - we're moving soon)

Camdyn showing off how big she is.  Look at how much she is pushing up.  I am so proud!  I bought the little dress she is wearing when I was still pregnant.  It is a size 0-3 months.  I thought it would be perfect since she was going to be born in the summer.  And, even though, she was born in the spring, it just now fits.  At least, she is finally out of preemie and newborn clothes.  I had to hurry and let her wear it before it gets cold.

Here we are sporting our new triple stroller.  I went with my friend, Andrea, who I met in the NICU (she has triplets) to the Austin Mothers of Multiples consignment sale.  We had so much fun.  Lucky for me, a triplet mom was selling her stroller.  I saved more than $200 from a new one.  I was so excited!

Last but definitely not least, you all have to check out the precious pictures that my good friend Jennifer took of my kiddos.  They are adorable.  She did such a great job and was so patient.  Thank you Jennifer.  You are amazing!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Am All Cried Out: an Aunt’s Perspective

I will never forget the day Michelle told me she was pregnant, again. I had been pressuring her for some time, and when she showed me the photo I knew immediately what it meant. However, I missed a very important item as I viewed that first ultrasound. Not only was she pregnant, they were twins. I was elated, and I teared up out of sheer joy!

Little did I know the journey we were all about to embark upon was going my life.

The week before Michelle gave birth to Camdyn and Cade we had gone to church and taken photos of her belly (she looked about 8 months pregnant). It’s funny because she thought it looked “so big.” She was complaining, like all moms do, about how much further she had to go.

She was admitted to the hospital that next week, and we all prayed that she would get to know what it was like to truly have a big belly. That night the nurse came in and told us that the viability of the babies did not look good if Michelle went into labor. They immediately started her on medicines to help the babies lungs develop. The pain of the potential lose of these two precious miracles was stamped on my heart. We all cried.

Days later Michelle was rushed to the emergency room and Camdyn and Cade were born. The first time I saw them, I literally could not believe how small they were. They were so cute, and I was so scared for my sister and them. We all cried again.

Seconds, minutes, hours, and days went by and then I was given the privilege, and yes it was a privilege, of touching Camdyn. The nurse opened the door of her isolete, and as I reached out to touch her tiny, delicate hand she squeezed mine. I cried like a baby. The tears were so uncontrollable the nurse had to wipe my eyes and nose. Her touch literally sent an emotion through my body of such great hope and survival that I could not stop crying. It was amazing, I still cry about it today when I think of that moment! In fact, I am crying now.

Days turned to weeks, and I knew they were going to be ok. As we held them and loved them each new obstacle seemed small to me (even though it wasn’t) because I was so elated that they were still a part of my life. And, I knew that they would be ok.

The day they came home I stopped to buy Michelle balloons, and as the gentleman at Dollar General blew each one up, I started to cry again. He looked at me like I was crazy. I started to explain the whole story, but decided instead to just say nothing. What do I care if he thinks I am crazy!

They just passed the six month mark. They are smiling, cooing, and studying who we all are with a gleam in their eyes. I am convinced that I am past all of the crying.

Well, maybe not.

I cried again when I saw these sweet six month photos.

I am now officially giving up on holding it together. These sweet babies have changed me forever, so when they are older and I start crying at birthday party number one or fifteen, when I am the only one crying madly at graduations, the weddings, the dance recitals, playing in the park, or even just waving good-bye. Please don’t look at me like I am crazy. I already know it; that’s what true love feels like.

With Love,
Aunt BB

Sunday, October 10, 2010

6 Month Baby Update

The babies turned 6 months old on Oct. 5th.  It is so strange that they have now been with us for as long as I was pregnant - 6 months.  I know I have not updated in a while, but I've made up for it with a lot of pictures.  I've been busy the last few weeks with making tutus and hair bows for Camdyn and Brenna for pictures.  I always like to add pictures to the posts, but it takes longer.  There just aren't enough hours in the day for all I need to get done.  I hope you all enjoy the latest pictures of my sweet babies.

Update on Cade - He now weighs 13 lbs. 9 oz.  His biggest news is that he has intersected the growth curve for 6 month olds.  Woohoo!  Even though he is only in the 3rd percentile for 6 month olds, that is incredibly amazing for a micro-preemie who started at 1 lb. 8 oz and who should only be a 2 month old!  When he is grown, I don't think anyone will believe him when he tells them he was a 1 pound baby.  He is wearing 3-6 month and even some 6 month clothes!  The best news for Mommy and Daddy is that he no longer needs the Neosure formula.  We can start mixing regular formula with the breast milk.  A 13 oz. can of Neosure costs the same as a 40 oz. can of regular formula.  Big savings for us! 

He met with a speech therapist for the first time last week.  We are scheduling more visits with another speech therapist as well to get even more help.  She worked with his oral motor movement by massaging his cheeks and chin.  She also worked with him on taking the pacifier.  She told us to dip the pacifier in different flavors of liquid, put a few drops on his lips, and let him taste that first.  Once he is licking his lips, then we can try to give him the pacifier.  He has made a lot of progress in willingly taking his pacifier and not gagging on it.  I feel very hopeful that with more therapy he is going to get over his oral aversion.  He has to start associating things in his mouth with positive feelings. 

Update on Camdyn- Camdyn now weighs 10 lb. 8 oz.  She is still well below the growth curve for 6 month olds, but if you look at her adjusted age of 2 months she is on track.  We are adding a little more formula to her mix to add calories. Even though she is tiny, she is a pretty strong, feisty little girl.  She can roll from her side to her tummy and get her arms underneath her.  The pediatrician said that is a 4 month developmental skill, so I am pretty impressed with my tiny little girl who should only be 2 months old.  Camdyn still takes a long time to take her bottles (about an hour).  She is getting a little better about finishing all of her bottles now.  We still gavage feed her through the tube at night, but we have gone down to only 2 times at night.  Hopefully, she will have the energy soon to take all of her bottles.

Both babies get physical therapy once a week.  They are working on neck and back strength as well as tummy strength.  They both have a right side head preference.  We are working on some stretches to help with that.  It is most likely from being in the NICU for so long.  They laid in their bed looking out to the right where the nurses would pass.  Also most of the nurses were right-handed, so they would come to them on the right side of their bed to change diapers, etc., so they got used to looking to the right.  Now we are working on looking to the left.  They are also working on rolling over, propping themselves up on their elbows, and getting in a sitting position with support.

We are enjoying the babies so much.  I am finally at a point where I don't worry every second of every day.  It is so much fun to see how much progress they make from week to week.  I also love seeing them getting fatter.  I celebrate each little fat roll.  I think back to how tiny they were with just translucent skin covering their fragile little bones, and marvel at their pudgy arms, round bellies, and chubby thighs.  I am so in love! 

Cade looking so sweet in his swing.  Look at those long eyelashes.

My grandpa with his great-grandsons, Cade and my nephew Colin.

My grandma with her great-granddaughters, my neice Brylee, Camdyn, and Brenna.

Camdyn sitting with Nanny outside.  Camdyn is wearing Brenna's sunglasses.

My kiddos on Brenna's pull-out couch for storytime.

Cade and Camdyn's cute bottoms in these adorable sleepers.

sweetie pies

This is the smile Cade gave me after tasting a few drops of sweet tea on his lips.  Yes, I did say sweet tea.  The speech therapist said we should give him anything sweet.  They usually give sugar water or candy sprays.  If he wanted to eat chocolate cake and ice cream, I would give it to him if he would eat it!

Brenna wanted "girl baby" to take a nap with her on her couch.  So sweet!

Cade and Camdyn in their double stroller.  Brenna was at Grandma's for the weekend, so they each got their own side.  I am on the hunt for a triple stroller because the babies can no longer squeeze into one side of the double stroller. 

Mommy's little monkeys

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Life is Precious

Camdyn and Cade are now 6 months old (2 months adjusted)!  It seems like they have been with us for much longer now probably because time drug out so long in the beginning.  They have only been at home with us for 1 1/2 months.  We are enjoying every day with them.  Brenna loves having her baby sister and baby brother at home. 

In the last 6 months, I have learned so many life lessons:

1.  Every minute, hour, day is a gift.  When they were first born, I clearly remember us watching the clock as the first few hours passed.  We were told the first 24 hours were the most critical.  When we got through the first 24 hours then 48 hours then 72 hours, we felt a tiny bit of relief.  Then we began to count days, weeks, and eventually months.

2.  Medical technology is amazing.  I found out that a great aunt of mine lost a baby at 32 weeks who weighed 4 lbs.  Now, that baby could have easily been saved with only a short NICU stay.  I feel so fortunate that the doctors along with technology and a lot of prayers were able to save our babies.

3.  People either turn to or away from God in difficult times.  My faith and belief is stronger now than ever before; however, I don't believe in any of the what I term "God eupemisms" (i.e.  'It's all part of God's plan' or 'God doesn't give you more than you can handle'.)  I don't think God sits around doling out difficult situations to an unlucky selected few. 

4.  The power of prayer is awe-inspiring.  We have been on so many church prayer lists, and people are praying for us all over.  Most of those people don't even know us.  Whether you are the praying type or not, you have to recognize the beauty of that.

5.  We could not have done this without the support of our family and friends.  All the meals, phone calls, care packages, and donations were so helpful.  It showed us that we were not in this alone and that so many people care about us and love us.

6.  I have learned that I love my mom, mother-in-law, and sister more than words can express.  They have washed bottles, changed diapers, watched my kids, and cleaned my house countless times so I could work, run errands, or just take a nap.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

 7.  I can love 3 kids!  When I first found out that I was pregnant, I wondered how I was possibly going to love another baby as much as I love Brenna.  Then I found out it was twins!  Then I wondered how I would have enough love for the two of them when so much of my love was reserved for Brenna.  I soon learned that a mother's love is endless and is multiplied not divided.

8.  Two really is twice the fun!  (and the work)

9.  I've learned that all the worry, pain, and work is worth every second.

10.  Life is precious.  When you see your tiny 1 lb babies fighting for every breath and clinging on to life, you realize how precious life is.