Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brenna's Flower Birthday

Brenna has been planning her "flower birthday" for a whole year now.  The day after her 3 year old princess party she began talking about her "flower birthday".  I figured she would change her mind on the theme a dozen times before she actually turned four, but she never waivered.  I have no idea where she came up with the idea, but we had an awesome "flower birthday". 

We finally got a picture with all the kids looking in the right direction!  I can now change my facebook profile picture that I have had up since Halloween.

my sweet adorable girls in their matching flower tutus - Aren't they just precious?

Camdyn showing off her new trick.

Cade has discovered he has a tongue!

the birthday girl

Camdyn and Cade with Grandma and Nanny (also known as Mommy's lifesavers!)

Daddy helping Brenna decorate her flower pot.

Once the pots were decorated, it was time to plant flowers.

and of course, you have to water your flowers.

Cade actually allowed a tiny bit of strawberry cake in his mouth.  Progress!

Camdyn enjoyed a few tiny bites of strawberry cake too.  Is it acceptable to just feed my kids cake?

Cade was having a great time at sister's flower birthday.

Happy 4th Birthday Brenna!  I hope this year is wonderful for you.  You deserve it!  Love-Mommy

Babies' First Trip to the Park

The babies went on their very first trip to the park.  They enjoyed looking around at everything.  They were probably confused by where they were - it wasn't home or a doctor's office.  Hopefully, the appointments will become less frequent and trips to the park will become more frequent.   The park equipment has never been cleaner.  I wiped down the swing with Lysol wipes before the babies sat in it.  I'm glad that no other moms were at the park to stare at me like I was crazy.  I haven't always been crazy!  Here are some pictures from the babies' first trip to the park.

Big Sister Brenna

Cade loved the swing.

Daddy holding Camdyn up in the air, but she wasn't so sure about that.

Camdyn relaxing in the swing.  She is rarely calm like this.  She is usually a petite ball of energy.

me and my kiddos at the park

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's in a Name?

You might imagine the amount of chaos of an emergency c-section for babies that are born on the cusp of viability.  After they pulled the first baby out, I heard the doctor say, "Baby A is a girl".  I was confused.  Was I having 2 girls because Baby B was supposed to be a girl?  I was told that was just the one they pulled out first.  It's funny to think about it now.  Camdyn is the go-getter and in a hurry to be the first to do everything (except gain weight that is), so it is fitting that she was born first.  Only 1 minute later, out came Baby B.  The titles (I wouldn't call it names) Baby A and Baby B were flying around that operating room.  About 50 people were in the room - a team for me, a team for Baby A, and a team for Baby B. 

As the doctors kept relaying information about Baby A this and Baby B that, Jim announced authoritatively that Baby A's name was Camdyn and Baby B's name was Cade. I remember feeling a sense of relief and calm after he said this.  The truth was that we had not yet decided on names.  We thought we still had 4 months to finalize our picks.  I didn't like it anymore than he did that they kept being called A and B.  It seemed so cold.  Jim tells me now that he didn't know what was going to happen, but he thought they should have names.  When I asked him how he decided on Camdyn when he liked another name better, he told me that he knew that was the name that I liked more.

I am not even sure if their names would have been Camdyn and Cade had they stayed inside another 4 months and gave us time to figure it out.  We always knew Cade would be Cade.  We had several different names for Camdyn.  The name Camdyn had only come into the picture a few weeks prior to their birth.  I found the name Camden in the boy's section of a baby name book.  I thought it was a cool name and it sounded more feminine to me than masculine.  I started really liking the name Camdyn for a girl.  My only concern was that the names sounded too much alike.  For the record, I did not choose their names to be matchy-matchy.  I don't like that they do sound so similar, yet I love both of their names independently.  And that is the story of how they got their names.

Interestingly, I met two other families in the NICU who had naming challenges as well.  When your baby (or babies) are born months early, it's not only the nursery that you don't have ready.  One family named their baby and then decided to change the name later.  They had to go through leaps and hurdles to do this.  Another family said they weren't sure they really liked the name they had chosen, but it was growing on them.  I have always found it interesting to hear how people decide on their baby's name, and it is especially interesting to see how parents of preemies decide on a name months before their selections were finalized.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Therapy, Milestones, & More!


In the last month, the babies have learned so much.  Every milestone they reach amazes me.  As 1 pound babies, I wasn't sure if we would be able to watch them learn how to roll over, sit, crawl, stand up, etc.  It is so different this time around.  While it was fun and delightful to watch Brenna reach each milestone, it was also expected from the time she was born.  There was no doubt that she would do those things.  This time around, I am not only delighted when they learn something new, I am overcome with joy and a feeling of being blessed.

  Camdyn is now scooting/crawling/rolling everywhere!  Today she moved herself from the living room to the playroom.  I couldn't find her at first and was shocked that she was mobile enough to move herself into another room.

Cade sitting all by himself.  He has become a lot more stable and can sit for a longer period without any support.  We still have to be there when he topples over, but he is getting a lot better at sitting.  Look at that smile; he is so proud.

Camdyn getting ready to crawl.

Camdyn is still not good at eating.  She is finally getting better at taking her bottles, but solids are a different story.  We usually make a huge mess and she might take about 5 bites after all the work.  I have discovered that she will chew on the spoon with food on it if I let her hold the spoon.  She definitely likes to be in control of the situation.

Here Cade is at therapy to work on learning how to eat.  The therapist starts by letting him play with some toys and acclimate himself to sitting in the high chair.

Then he is encouraged to bring the toys to his mouth.  After that, she uses the jiggler to "wake" his mouth and tongue.  Then after all of that he is "presented" with the bottle or food.  For now, the "presentation" means putting liquid or food on his lips and letting him taste and discover that.

Amazingly, he is generally pretty happy during his session.  His therapist lets him set the pace, and she is very good with him.  I wish she could move in and feed him every time.  Maybe I should offer that - we have a whole upstairs she could use.  Free lodging, all bills paid; just feed my kid!

 Cade at home with Mr. Elephant.  The fact that he is happily letting Mr. Elephant jiggle on his tongue is INCREDIBLE!  Let me remind you for those who may have forgotten.  He used to gag/cough when we would put anything even on his lips, i.e. pacifier, bottle nipple.  We still have a loooooooong way to go before eating, but any progress is good progress.  If a person takes "baby steps" to get to a goal, Cade takes "micro-preemie steps" to get to a goal which is appropriate and fitting for him.

Cade and Camdyn down on the floor after physical therapy.

Camdyn showing how she can sit all by herself too.

Now that the babies have better control, I can sit them in their bumbo chairs to play with Brenna.  Here they all are in Brenna's new playhouse.  Brenna is having so much fun with them now that they can at least sit by her.  She has enough imagination for all three of them.  I love listening to her play because she talks for herself, Camdyn, and Cade.  So cute!

Camdyn showing how she can stand up like a big girl.  Really I don't know how she does it on those tiny feet.  She wears a size newborn-1 shoe.  That would be like a 1 month old baby standing up!

Mommy and Camdyn

Mommy and Cade

Camdyn is such a girl!  She can go from this (above) to this (below) in seconds.  Too funny!  She takes after her Mommy and big sister.  Cade and Daddy are going to have to stick together with 3 women like this in the house.

Brenna, Camdyn, and Cade getting a wagon ride on the back deck from cousin Brylee.

"Sister, we've had a long day!"

I can't help but take a ton of pictures of them sleeping.  They always look so adorable together.  I'm sure they wish I would quit flashing the camera at them all the time when they are trying to sleep.

Happy Birthday Brenna!

I can't believe it, but my sweet big girl turned 4! I feel like her whole year 3 was a blur because of the babies' early birth and then the constant doctor's appointments. I'm going to try to make year 4 a lot better for her.

Brenna is such a wonderful big sister. The babies just adore her, and she adores them. She provides them with constant entertainment, and they love watching her every move. She loves to dance with Cade. I hold him up and she holds his hands to dance. He smiles so big at her when she does this. She likes to give Camdyn a Polly Pocket doll to play with her. Camdyn obliges to all of Brenna's requests for now, but I have a feeling that will soon change.

Brenna is such a trooper too. She asks me every morning, "What doctor are we going to today Mommy?" I then tell her according to what she likes at each one. In a twisted way, it has become our outings in place of park trips and library story times. She likes to play with the baby doll with the g-button at the surgeon's follow-up appointment or read the books in the waiting room at the pediatrician's office or stand on the stool and pretend to be a doctor at the pulmonologist's office or pretend to teach her baby doll how to eat like Cade does at the therapy place. I am certain that she is well on her way to medical school. She has extensive field training already. Some of her favorite toys include surgical gloves, the g-button baby doll, the stethoscope, and medicine syringes. I hope that we will soon be able to have real playdates that do not involve anything medical.

 Brenna blowing out her candles on her b-day cake that Grandma Hensel made.  This was for her actual birthday.  Her birthday party is this weekend.

Here we all are putting together a floor puzzle she got for her birthday.  I swear that my kids have made a pact that involves at least one not cooperating for a group shot at all times.  Will we ever get a good group shot?  Look at Cade's expression here!

Brenna with her new playhouse she got for her birthday.

Brenna pretending to teach her baby doll how to eat just like Cade does at the therapy place.

Brenna playing in the medical equipment basket.

Here she is listening to Cade's heart.  She is using her toy stethoscope here, but we also have a real one that she likes to play with.  Cade is such a good sport!
Happy 4th Birthday Brenna! Mommy loves you!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

That Whole Last Trimester Thing

Pregnant moms often sign up for those daily e-mails that tell you what your fetus is doing each week like growing fingernails, growing eyelashes, developing lungs, etc.  When I was pregnant with Brenna, I always found those e-mails amusing.  I could sit on the couch and tell Jimmy I was busy.  He would say, "Busy doing what?"  Then I would smartly reply, "I'm growing fingernails.  Top that!"  When you miss that whole last trimester, you don't sit on the couch doing nothing while your fetus effortlessly develops.  Instead you watch them develop all of those little amazing things with the greatest effort imaginable. 

I recently read a book called Half-Baked written by a mother who delivered at 26 weeks.  She writes that her baby had no nipples at birth.  Of course, that got me wondering if ours had any.  Crazy thought, I know!  I asked Jim if they had nipples.  He sort of laughed and said that no they did not have any.  He said he noticed it right away and was worried but with brain bleeds, maxed-out oscillator settings, and collapsed lungs he didn't think it was appropriate to worry about their nipples.  Talk about mothers thinking that their baby is the most beautiful baby in the world.  I didn't even notice that my babies didn't have nipples!  I looked back through those first-days photos and was shocked by what I saw.  Love is blind.  I knew they were not well off.  I remember their skin was very thin.  I remember they were tiny.  I remember thinking that I didn't know babies could even be that little.  I remember that their eyes were still fused shut.  I was told that they both had a valve in their heart that was not closed.  What I didn't notice was just how fetus-like they really were.  After all, they were fetuses that happened to join the world 16 weeks too early.  Mostly, I remember thinking they are beautifully and perfectly made, albeit very tiny, and they are my babies - not fetuses.

Cade's feeding therapist explained to us that a lot of Cade's feeding issues are sensory related.  In the last trimester, babies fine tune their entire nervous systems.  This allows them to accept and categorize sensory input.  As you can imagine, babies who miss that whole last trimester don't have beautifully operating nervous systems.  It may take some time.  When they should have been in the womb safely developing their nervous systems, they were instead introduced to the lights and constant beeping of the NICU.  They had tubes down their throats, IVs, arterial lines, and central lines covering them, and probes stuck to their thin skin.  Talk about shocking an underdevloped nervous system!   

The babies' physical therapist also mentioned that both Camdyn and Cade prefer extension to flexion.  This means they like to be sprawled out instead of curled up.  The problem with this is that the curled up position is what is needed to roll over, crawl, and even to bring your arms to midline (i.e. eating position with hands to mouth).  The reason they don't like flexion -you guessed it- all goes back to that missing out on the whole last trimester thing.  What position do babies assume in the womb?  Flexion.  There's a reason they are all cramped up in there.     

I was too distraught at the time to share these pictures, but seeing how far they have come, I feel compelled to share.  It is quite simply AMAZING!

Camdyn is just skin and bones.  She had no fat at all.  Also her ears were just skin shaped like an ear.  They had very little cartilage.

Camdyn's tiny fingers against Daddy's hands as he changed her diaper.  How in the world did those little delicate fingers not break?  They told us that when we changed the diapers, we should push the diaper down into the bed so as not to lift their legs up.  Lifting the legs up could cause a stroke.  We were also told to squeeze the middle of the diaper between their legs because the micro-preemie diapers were too big and it could cause their hips to get displaced.

You can see all the little veins on Camdyn's tiny body.  Her elbow is completely transparent.  This is the picture I had to look at to see if she had nipples, and no nipples - just a little red area where a nipple later formed.  You can't see it here, but Camdyn had no eyelashes nor eyebrows either.

Cade's tiny body is just covered in bruises.  Again  no nipples, just red areas.  See all that tape on his tummy.  At some point during these early days, when they pulled the probes off to change them, they pulled his skin off with them.  He has a big scar on his tummy from that.  His skin was just so thin that it came right off.  Camdyn has a matching scar on her tummy as well, but it is a little smaller.

Cade's hand with translucent skin.  I always thought this picture looks like those 4D sonograms only he is not inside the womb.  I never understood why women get those.  I always thought they looked weird. 

Cade is still covered in tons of tiny hair all over his body.  Notice his ears in this picture.  There is no cartilage at the bottom, only floppy skin.

After all of that, look at this!  Perfect ears, perfect eyelashes, perfect eyebrows, beautiful skin, beautiful smiles, AMAZING babies! (and yes, perfect nipples too! - They are going to hate me for writing about their nipples and former, lack thereof, when they are older.)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

10 Months Old (6 months adjusted)


Camdyn and Cade are now 10 months old which means they are only 6 months adjusted.  We go to the pediatrician this week, so I will have current weights at that time.  We've started therapies for both babies at a new place last week.  I think I am really going to like it.  Cade is getting speech therapy to work on eating once a week and physical therapy twice a month.  Camdyn is getting physical therapy once a month.  They both still get occupational therapy twice a month through ECI. 

Camdyn is now rolling all over the place and getting into everything.  She is a very determined little girl.  If she wants something, she will find a way to roll and scoot until she can get to it.  She has started to do the army crawl, and it is so adorable.  Her preferred method of movement is to arch back like she is in a backbend and push off with her feet.  Her therapist said this is a bad habit and we should flip her over to encourage her to crawl every time we see her doing that.  Now we spend most of the day flipping her over.  Camdyn is balancing a little better in a sitting position but she still needs help with it.

Cade finally rolled over!  He rolled from his tummy to his back.  I still haven't seen him roll from his back to his tummy.  I was very excited to see him roll over.  He is such a content baby that he is content with whichever way you lay him, and he just stays that way.  While I wish he had a little more drive to roll over and/or crawl, his easy-going personality makes him the best cuddler.  I love rocking and cuddling him because he is so content to be cuddling with you.  Camdyn only likes to cuddle when she is very sleepy.  Otherwise, she has places to go and things to get into.  Their personalities definitely mirror mine and Jim's.

 I love taking pictures of them sleeping.  Look how they fit together like puzzle pieces. 

My babies baking with me. 

Brenna in the snow on our back deck.  It actually snowed a little in Texas.

Brenna eating the snow.

The deck was great for collecting snow.  She got to play with clean snow instead of the muddy snow that collects in the yard.

Even though we never have successful feeding times, I thought I should take some pictures anyways.  Camdyn does like to grab the spoon and chew on it, but she becomes uninterested in eating very quickly.

 Cade has become slightly better at taking a few bites.  He no longer screams when a bottle nipple or spoon touches his lips, so that is progress.  Progress is so slow that you almost forget that you have made any progress at all.  When I feed both of them, they finish only 1/4 of a jar of baby food together. 

Camdyn has decided she would much rather take a nap than eat her peaches.

"Now this is more like it.  Let's just pretend to eat and drink."  Brenna and Camdyn having a tea party.

Look at that smile! 

Look at that blue-eyed handsome boy!