Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Funny Mail

This is the mail I have been getting lately.  I just think it's funny how companies think they know so much about you.  I don't know what I signed up for when I was pregnant, but somehow these companies know that my due date was July 30, so they assume that I must have babies that are approaching a year old.  Therefore, I must need first birthday party supplies and first birthday portraits. 

Dear Marketing Companies - You are about 3 months late in sending me this "first-birthday" mail.  You must have not gotten the memo that although my due date was July 30, my babies arrived on April 5.  You have some really cute stuff in your magazine that I would very likely have bought 3 months ago!

Too funny!

Family Trip to the Zoo

We had a great weekend.  We went to Waco for the weekend.  On Saturday, we went to the Dr. Pepper Museum.  It was interesting, but the best part was the old-fashioned soda shop they had where we got soda fountain Dr. Pepper floats.  Yummy!  We then checked into our hotel and all went swimming.  Then Jim grilled hot dogs for us in their patio area.  Then we all laid around watching movies.  The next day we went to the Cameron Park Zoo.  It was an awesome zoo.  Brenna loved it, but I don't think the babies really cared one way or the other. 

Brenna wanted to pose by these and she thought it would be funny for the babies to do the same.  They weren't overly excited about the idea, but they went along with it.

Butterfly Brenna

Cade is not going to like me for this later.

Mommy's Little Ladybugs

They had this cool slide that went through the aquarium.

Mommy and the crew next to the giraffes.

Brenna's favorite animals were the giraffes.

Daddy and the crew next to this pretty waterfall.

Funny story - Even though Brenna loved the zoo, it also must have scared her a bit too.  On Sunday night, she woke up to come tell me she had a bad dream that the alligator was eating her Jo-Jo (her lovey)!  She really liked the giraffes, but the alligators were a different story.

Eating 360

I have been waiting to write this post for over a year now.  I thought the day may never come in which I would be able to say what I am about to say.  I am overly-joyed, ecstatic, jubilant to report that we no longer have to force feed our children.  In fact, they eat willingly, with pleasure, through their mouths like the rest of us.  They LIKE to eat !!! 

I wrote this 6 months ago in my "A Trip to the Mall" post:

"Now we were ready for lunch.  We got our Chick-fil-a nuggets and had a seat.  Just a few tables down, I couldn't help but notice, a lady with a double stroller parked next to her table.  Her twins looked to be about 9 months old (actual - not the 9 month olds who were really like 5 month olds like ours).  She was feeding them from a little jar of baby food.  I watched in amazement at how their little mouths just flew open like the beaks of baby birds at the first sight of food, their mouths popping open at every spoonful so obligingly.  Their perfectly synchronized tango of eating continued, this one takes a bite, that one takes a bite, this one takes a bite, that one takes a bite, and so on and son on, until the food in the little jar vanished as if by magic.  Oh, so that is how it is supposed to work!  I held back the urge to yell across the food court, "Lady, you don't know how easy you have it."'

Our world has completely changed in the last 6 months (Thank God!).  When I wrote this, Cade had just gotten his g-tube surgery.  He was not eating ANYTHING by mouth.  The babies were still in "isolation" at home.  I had taken Brenna to the mall with me for a little "normal" time.  Camdyn was still fighting every bottle and was not eating any baby food.  Now, we are just like that lady I saw in the mall feeding her twins.  When I feed them now, their little mouths fly open, and I can't feed them fast enough.  They protest if I am not doing it quickly enough.  It makes me so happy.

A couple of nights ago, I cried over the craziest thing.  I usually give the babies each an 8 ounce bottle of Pediasure before bed.  That night I had a little extra left over from earlier so I added it to their 8 oz bottles making two 10 oz bottles.  I felt sure that they would not finish the bottle, but I tried anyway.  Camdyn was full after her regular 8 ounces, but Cade finished his 10 ounce bottle in no time at all.  I couldn't believe it.  This is from a kid who had to have a g-tube placed just 6 months ago because he would not eat or drink ANYTHING. (I'm crying again just typing this.)  I couldn't help but think back to all those horrible times we had to shove that horrendous ng-tube down his nose so he could be nourished, all the times we had to hold him down to be scoped by the ENT (causing more oral aversion), all the therapy sessions we have attended, the time I had to hand him over to the nurse to take him back to the operating room before his g-tube surgery, the time I saw him in the recovery room with bandages and tubing taped all over his stomach, all the appointments with the GI doctor, all the times I tried to get him to take just 10 mL from a squeeze bottle (that's less than 1/2 of an ounce), and here he was gulping down a 10 ounce bottle like he had never had a problem in the world!  Being a micro-preemie mom is both incredibly challenging but at the same time, it is so magnificently rewarding.  What other mom has ever cried over her baby drinking a bottle?

Cade still has the g-tube, but I plan on talking to his doctor about the possibility of removing it.  He hasn't used it in over 3 months now.  I know the doctor is going to be on the more cautious side not wanting to remove it too soon.  Cade loves eating so much now that I really don't think we will be needing it anymore.  I believe it will be another surgery to remove it, but I don't think it is a complicated one.  I can't wait to be able to write the post about it being removed.  Although I hardly even notice it anymore, I am eagerly awaiting the day when I am able to see my son with nothing extra.  He has always had something on him - a breathing tube, IVs, an ng feeding tube, a CPAP mask, a cannula, and then a g-tube.  I am so thankful for all of those extras that kept him alive, breathing, and fed, but now I want to see my son with just the parts he was born with. 
Brenna danced in her 3rd recital a few weeks ago.  The first two recitals she pretty much just stood on the stage looking adorable, but this year, she actually danced!  I can't believe how quickly my little girl is growing up.

The first 3 pictures were taken by one of my dance students, Katee.  I just pulled them off of Facebook so they may not look so clear, but I thought they were really cute.  Thanks Katee!

My Tiny Girl

I thought this was too funny!  Brenna wanted Camdyn to be her baby doll and play with her in her nursery care station.  She was trying to lift Camdyn up there herself, so I decided I should help before Camdyn got hurt.  Surprisingly, Camdyn was a willing participant.  First, Brenna pretended to change her diaper on the changing table.  Next, she wanted to "give her a bath" in the baby tub.  Notice that the Cabbage Patch kid (my old one) fits in the tub and so does Camdyn!

At her last weight check, Camdyn finally got up to 16 pounds!  It seemed we would never get there.  Another good note, Camdyn is finally getting a tooth!  She is almost 15 months old now (11 months adjusted), and she just now is getting a tooth.  I was so worried she may never get a tooth.  I thought maybe we missed the tooth-forming stage being born 4 months early, but my worries are allayed now that I see a beautiful little sliver of a tooth poking through !!!!

Side note:  When I told Jim how worried I was about no teeth, he told me that if she doesn't get any teeth, we'll just get her some baby dentures - no problem.  For him, if it is not life-or-death now, it is not worth worrying about.  We are so opposite.  I spend all my time worrying about everything, and he just suggests baby dentures!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day to a great daddy! 

 I love that my husband is such a great daddy.  Raising former micro-preemie twins and a 4 year old is not an easy task.  I am so thankful that he helps out so much.  It is definitely a two person job.  I love watching him play with the kids and watching the kids smile and laugh with Daddy.  It is so sweet!  Before the twins, he always told me he was content with just having Brenna.  I talked him into having ONE more, and we got one more than he had agreed to having!  I know that now he couldn't imagine it any other way.  He loves having two babies begging at his feet to be picked up when he's already holding Brenna on the couch and having two babies crawling to meet him when he gets home from work.  Thanks Jim for being such a wonderful husband and daddy! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Their "To Do" list never ends!

I took the twins to the NICU follow-up clinic last week.  They really didn't tell me anything that I didn't already know.  Camdyn is behind, and Cade is really behind.  I already knew it, but it didn't soften the blow any when you see it on paper.  Actually, Camdyn is right on track in almost all areas for her adjusted age.  Cade is pretty much behind in all areas.  I wasn't surprised to discover that their lowest scores were in the social-personal area.  They lived in a plastic box (isolette) for 2 months of their lives, then in an open crib in the NICU for 2 more months of their lives, and then when they were finally released, we were told to keep them in strict isolation throughout the whole winter.  Considering they have only been in social situations for the last few months, it's not surprising they would score low in this area.  It's so disheartening to know that we go to therapy all the time to try to "catch up", and it just seems unattainable sometimes.  My heart hurts to see how hard they have to work to meet each milestone (sitting up, crawling, pulling to stand, cruising, etc.) when full-term kids just do these things.  The clinic told us that they could tell they have both been in therapy and that without the therapy, they would most likely be even further behind.  Now we are supposed to add occupational therapy to their busy little schedules.

I feel inadequate often.  No matter how much I do with them, it never seems like enough.  Just listen to all of the instructions we are given by the therapists.  We have to worry about gross motor skills, fine motor skills, feeding issues, sensory issues, social skills, and speech/language development.  Thinking of that responsibility alone exhausts me not to mention all of these tasks we are supposed to work on daily.

- encourage plenty of standing time
- encourage cruising along furniture
- make sure they are pulling up equally on the right as they are on the left
- encourage pulling to stand
- make sure they bend down to pick up objects on both sides
- encourage picking up objects by squatting instead of plopping down
- encourage controlled sitting
- encourage putting objects into containers
- encourage using the thumb and forefinger to grasp objects
- encourage holding a sippy cup (which they don't do at all!)
- provide different surface textures to move on
- encourage taking bites and helping them to manage those on their own (in other words hope they don't choke)
- offer table foods (again - and hope Cade doesn't choke when he attempts to swallow food whole without chewing and watch Camdyn try to chew food with no teeth - yes, she still has no teeth at 14 months old!)
- make sure to add butter and oil to every meal to gain weight
- make sure to fit in 4 bottles daily still along with 3 meals to get in the extra calories
- encourage babbling sounds
- play plenty of nursery games (when exactly?)
- read to them often (again, when?)
- say the names of objects around you
- offer playtime opportunities with other children (but hope they aren't sick!)
- and on and on and on - The list seems to grow longer every week.

Overall, I am really thankful that we have great therapists.  I don't even mind going to therapy.  I always think of it as, "At least, this is in my control.  I can do something about it."  I felt so helpess in the NICU so often.  All I could do was read to them with a plastic barrier (isolette) between us, sing/talk to them, and play music for them.  Everything else was out of my control.  Now that I do have some control over their outcomes, I feel this huge responsibility resting on my shoulders.  It's a horrible feeling because I can't help but think that if I fail, they fail; if I succeed, they succeed, but I suppose that's just parenting in general.  But, how can anyone do all of the above mentioned tasks daily?  It's just not possible, so I'll continue to do my best and hope for the best.

I read an article (http://www.kcentv.com/story/14647385/preemie-birth-survivor-goes-on-to-graduate-from-baylor) about a girl who recently graduated from Baylor with top honors.  She was born 10 inches long and only weighed 14 ounces.  Her father said this about her:

"Once you start working so hard to catch up, there's nothing in your brain that tells you you're caught up to stop working," her father Barry Ray said.

That's the road we are on!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Look at them now!

If someone could have told me last year at this time that in a year I would be enjoying taking my babies to splash parks and swimming pools, I'm not sure I would have believed them.  If I could have peeked into the future, maybe I could have worried a whole lot less, but of course, there was no way for any of the doctors to know what the outcome would be.  Instead, we had to do that horrible thing called "wait and see" which amounts to saying, we can "wait and see" what terrible things will happen or we can "wait and see" if those terrible things don't happen. 

My mom took me and all the grandkids (my 3 kids and my niece and nephew) to Hyatt Lost Pines.  We had a blast!  We floated the lazy river, let the babies splash in the splash pad, slid down the water slide, played in the beach area, and just had a great, relaxing time.  As the babies were floating down the lazy river in their baby floaties smiling, kicking, and splashing, my mom said she wished all the NICU nurses could have seen them now.  To think that only one year ago at this time, they were both laying in isolettes with CPAP/nasal cannulas and eating through a tube and now they are happy, healthy babies just enjoying life is awe-inspiring.  I hope other parents who are in the NICU now see this and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel even though I know it doesn't seem like it.  We have definitely had our struggles along the way and we still have challenges ahead, but overall, this is such a wonderful place to be, and I count my blessings constantly!

One year ago:


Camdyn napping by the pool.  Both of the babies were exhausted from all their swimming.  Now that we are back home, I had to seize my opportunity to update the blog while they are napping now.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mommy's Kitchen Help

I have some real kitchen help lately.  My help comes in a pair.  See just how helpful my kitchen help is below:

They get me what I need.  Notice Cade is reaching for the wine!

They do the dishes! (Yes, Camdyn is standing on top of the dishwasher.  I turned around to put away a dish, looked back, and there she was smiling at me so proud of herself.)

They keep the sink clean!

They put the groceries away.

They stock the shelves and throw away the trash!

They even Swiffer the floor!

Memorial Day Weekend

We didn't do much for Memorial Day.  After taking Cade to the pediatrician, we found out that he did have a slight case of pneumonia and an ear infection.  They prescribed a lot of medicine, and he is feeling much better now.  Camdyn has been congested, but nothing serious so far and hopefully she can avoid the rest of the illness around our house.  Then we found out that Brenna has strep throat again for the third time this year.  She never complains about her throat hurting or feeling bad when she gets strep.  The only way I know is that she coughs a lot. 

Needless to say, we weren't able to make any big plans for the weekend, but we still had a great time.  We had a "camp-out" on our back deck with Brenna while the babies slept inside.  We blew up the air mattress and watched Princess and the Frog outside on the laptop while Daddy grilled hot dogs and veggies.  After dinner, we made s'mores over the "campfire" (aka BBQ pit).  Then we finished watching the rest of the movie under the stars.  It would have been a perfect night except our mattress had a slow leak, so after a while Brenna and I went inside to sleep in Mommy and Daddy's bed and left Daddy outside on the leaky mattress.  It was so much fun that we are already planning our next "camp-out".  This is definitely my kind of camping with a nice shower, a fully-stocked kitchen, and comfy beds readily available that you don't have to share with anyone else!