I have been meaning to start this post for a long time now, but it seems like such a daunting task that I keep putting it off which is terrible considering the topic and all. So many people have blessed us in so many ways throughout our ordeal of the twins arrival 16 weeks too early. Tragedy (or near tragedy in our case) really does bring out the best in people. Be warned that this post is going to be very, very long. Since I know I will not have the time to complete it all at once, I will add to it when I have time.
Thank you God. I don't always know the answer to "why me?" At first, I asked, "Why did this happen to me, to my family, to my babies?" Now, I ask "Why did my babies survive while others don't?" I still don't feel like I know the answers to either question but I am so thankful that you have given me these little miracles to love. I thank you for blessing us all with good health, and I continue to ask you to watch over all my babies. God already knows this but the rest of you might not. We have changed our prayers from we pray that God "makes our babies strong and healthy" or as Brenna says "stwong and helfy" to we pray that God "keeps us all strong and healthy". I am so thankful that we have been able to change that one little verb in our prayers.
Thank you to my wonderful husband, Jim. He has been there for me every step along this treacherous journey. When the doctor delivered the heart-dropping news that the babies would be delivered that day and I broke down crying muttering something like, "No, it's too early . . . no, way too early. Are you sure?", Jim stood next to me holding my hand and kissing my forehead. He didn't say, "It's all going to be okay" because how could he when we were just told that our babies were about to be delivered 4 months early? Instead he said, "We'll get through this. No matter what happens, we will get through it." And we have. He literally held me up on those first trips to the NICU when all we were able to do was peer through the glass of the isolettes at our tiny, fragile babies who were clinging to life. He kept the house running, kept going to work when I know that must have been so difficult for him with the babies in the NICU, finished building our new house, visited the babies every day, and remained being Brenna's Daddy through it all. I feel fairly certain that I would have lost all semblances of sanity that I might have left without him by my side.
Thank you to my precious princess, Brenna. She doesn't even realize all that she has been through because it all seems perfectly normal to her. When I asked her if most babies eat like Camdyn (by bottle) or like Cade (by tube), she answered that some babies eat like Camdyn and some eat like Cade. She is right in saying so, but I think that she thinks the ratio is about 50% by bottle and 50% by tube. She thinks that all babies spend their first year or so going to 3-4 doctor's appointments per week and all babies have therapy appointments. We could all learn a lesson of patience and acceptance from my 3 year old. She doesn't know it, but I will always know that it was she who kept me from going into a deep depression. Even though I had spells of feeling despair at our situation, I still had to be Mommy for her. I love her so much.
Thank you to my mom for being so supportive. My mom had spent the night with me at the hospital the night before the babies were born. She was planning on spending a couple of nights out of the week with me so I wouldn't be lonely when Jim couldn't be there. She didn't care that she would be sleeping on the uncomfortable love seat that the hospital calls a bed. After the babies were born, she came to the NICU with me to visit the babies or watched Brenna so I could go. She did anything I asked her to do and so much more that I didn't even have to ask her to do. Now she watches the kids for me two days a week so I can work. When she comes over, she does my laundry, washes the bottles, takes out the trash, feeds the babies, and even random things like organizes our closets! She has this weird liking of doing laundry which works out very well for me. I can't thank her enough for all of her support.
Thank you to my sister Bridget. Bridget is a take-charge kind of person. She could see that our hospital bills were going to be piling up, so she decided to organize a fundraiser for the babies. It was very successful, and it really has helped us out a lot. That is definitely not all she has done for me though. She came to visit the babies often in the NICU and somehow she was always there when the doctors wanted to deliver the worst news. She scooped me up in her arms when the doctor first told me about Cade's head bleed and when the (stupid and insensitive) ENT told me that Cade would possibly need a tracheostomy for life. Bridget showed up at the hospital the morning of Cade's g-tube surgery just so she could hug me when they took Cade away. I'll always remember that she is the one who brought me my own balloons which I toted very proudly down the hallway when we finally got to leave the NICU. I had seen all those proud moms carrying those damn balloons out of the hospital daily for 18 weeks (and they didn't even have to work for them besides labor, but shoot, that was the easy part)! Sometimes you would think that she might be their mom with the way she tears up over any little thing about them. What a great aunt!
Thank you to Kathy and Russell. They have been so dedicated to the babies and to us throughout this entire journey. I always loved my in-laws, but I don't think I realized how much. I won the in-law jackpot. They came to visit the babies every weekend when they were in the NICU and after. They came to help us out every single weekend for eight and a half months! In the beginning, Kathy and I would go visit the babies while Jim and Russell worked on the new house. Kathy and Russell still come at least twice a month to help us out now. When they come, they wash bottles, mix bottles, change diapers, and feed the babies. I keep mentioning "feed the babies" because unless you have fed my babies, you have no idea of what a heroic effort is required each time. Kathy and Russell are also the deliverers of all the food which Jim's family so generously bestows upon us. (Thank you Grandma Hensel, Grannie Stahmer, Aunt April, and Aunt Sandy for that.) Did I mention that we are so lucky to have such a wonderful, helpful family?
I'll update the list again, but for now, I have to muster up my superhero powers to go feed the babies once again!