Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Sam!

Today, Sam turns 4! There are days when it seems like yesterday he was born, there are others when it seems like he has been around forever!

The second born child, oldest born boy in the family, he definitely keeps me on my toes. I describe him as the 100% child. Everything he does is full force. When he smiles, it is 100%, when he cries, it is 100% (you get the picture). He can be full on sweet and loving, and he can be fully a pest to others! He is kind-hearted, sensitive and thoughtful of others. He shares like a champ and is always wanting to give to others. When I look at him, I feel like I am looking at his dad. He is easy going, flexible and fun to be around.

He describes things in terms of numbers. The first time I heard this was after a day at preschool. He was telling me about the snack (always the first info to be shared) and was describing the drink with the biggest smile and told me it was 105 good. I think that was the biggest number he knows. Turns out it was probably sugared kool-aid, which I have never bought! He told us today that he is pretty sinny, to which we laughed like crazy at how funny and true it was (although he was really saying "skinny").

Sam at birth 2005Sam at one 2006

Sam at two 2006
Sam at three 2007

Sam at almost 4 2009

Where does the time go? Someone once said to me, regarding these years, "the days are long, but the years are so fast". There are days that I think will never end (many of them), but as I look back today on the past four years, I am reminded of how fast they really do go by.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rewind 2 Years

April 20, 2007, we brought finally brought our baby Nate home from the hospital. I have been thinking a lot about those days lately as I am getting ready for the March for Babies. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would become fluent in all the medical jargon of neonatology. What a ride!

We came home on oxygen and on an apnea monitor. We were educated on how to use the equipment that became a permanent fixture in our home. There was the big concentrator that was pretty noisy as it converted the room air into oxygen for Nate. Attached to it was about 50 feet of tubing that also attached to Nate. We were tethered to the machine. For outings away from home, we had a portable oxygen tank that we carried with us (there weren't too many outings at first, anyway). The apnea monitor ran on a battery during the day, but got plugged in at night. I will never forget the many nights of waking from a pretty good sleep to the awful loud beeps from that machine. I remember it rarely going off for a legitimate reason, but if the leads got loose or if they were not in the right place, or if he wiggled, it would set that thing off.

We lived with this equipment 24 hours a day for almost 5 months. What a glorious day it was, when the company came to pick it up for good as we no longer needed it.

Nate weighed around 5 pounds when we brought him home. The pictures don't really show how small he was. His face even looks full to me when I see it. He wasn't even into the newborn clothes yet.

Now, he is jabbering and running like crazy! What a difference a couple of years can make. When we brought him home, I had so many concerns about his future. Those concerns are slowly fading and I cannot believe the miracle he is.

As I prepare for the upcoming walk, I have been thinking so much of where this journey began and where it is today. I so want to see some of the people that we have met along the way, but it also brings so much emotion as I am also reminded of our other baby boy that is at his permanent home. I so wish I could see the two of them together, I can't imagine how cute that would be.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Final Countdown

I'm not sure where to start, as there has been so much going on lately.

On the baby front, I am happy to say that I have about 5.5 weeks left until we meet the newest member of our family. I have scheduled May 29 as the day of the C-section. I was somewhat disappointed that this is the route I have to take, but as my doctor and I discussed, it is the least amount of risk for the baby and myself. As much as I think I am a great candidate for a VBAC, I also know that my mental and emotional state couldn't take something happening to another baby. We do not know the sex or have any names picked out, as it is utmost important to us that we just have a healthy baby. We don't really care about anything else. I am growing larger and it is getting more difficult to do the day to day activities, but that is temporary!

Grace is about to wrap up her year at Kindergarten. It is hard to believe that the school year is almost over. She has done really well and is currently becoming quite the reader and has a real love for math. I am amazed at the way her mind works and it never seems to take a rest! She will be celebrating her birthday on the last day of school, May 27, which is also 2 days before the baby comes! That will be a busy week! Spring soccer will soon be wrapping up as well as the children's choir she is in at church. She is looking forward to a couple of summer camps that we have lined up, one is an animal camp and the other is a Spanish camp. She is hoping to learn some Spanish so she can talk with her aunt Kammie who will be home from Guatemala this summer. Sam is celebrating his birthday at the end of the week, he will be 4! Some days, I can't believe that he will be 4, and others, it seems like he has been around forever. I can best describe him as being 100% in all he does. He goes full force from the time he wakes up until he crashes at night. He has been attending a preschool put on by our local high school and really seems to like it. I barely get him in the door and he is out of sight, already joining in the group activities. He rarely even says goodbye to me. He is going to play T-ball this summer and also attend the animal adventure summer camp. He is finishing up the year of children's choir at church and loves singing so much, he just refuses to wear a "button" shirt, which is what I try to get him to wear to church! He is a really funny kid and makes me laugh like crazy and teaches me many valuable lessons.
Nate is doing great, he is becoming a very busy boy, which really warms my heart, because it just means that he is progressing in a very good fashion. He did receive his last year of Synagis this winter, which is a monthly shot to protect him against RSV. We did not have any bouts of any illness that were serious and I am now feeling like we are strong enough to not have to worry so much about him getting too sick. He has been slow to gain much weight, so he is still pretty small, but boy does he eat! He probably outeats both Grace and Sam on any given day, but I think he just burns it all up as fast as he can get it in. At 27 months old, he weighs slightly over 21 pounds. He is still receiving therapy from 4 different areas with the Missouri First Steps program, and he will continue with them until he is 3. We are in the process of evaluations again to turn some of his paperwork over to the school district so that we can transition him into their program at age 3, if he qualifies. I have very mixed feelings about this, but we still have 6-7 months to go before we really have to make those decisions. Speech is probably his biggest delay at this point, but I am not overly concerned. At one point in time, I thought Sam may not ever speak, and now his mouth doesn't stop unless he is sleeping!

I'm not sure if he really knows what is in store when this baby comes along, but he does point to my belly and say "baby" and then he will kiss my belly. It is so cute! He is getting to be a little more independent, which is wonderful to see. He goes up and down stairs beautifully, and will climb on anything. He holds a very special place in my heart and I just cannot imagine life without him.
There has been so much happening lately, but I do feel like things might be slowing down for a couple of weeks, then it will get crazy again. We are participating in the March for Babies walk again this year, which is a little under two weeks away - I'm not sure if I will be able to complete the full walk, but I am going to give it a try. We have a couple of birthdays, end of school, baby, summer activities starting up and so much to look forward to!

Take care and Happy Spring!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

It has been a long time since I have updated this blog, but I am back and hopefully, I can keep motivated! Since it has been so long, and with the timing of my return, I thought I would catch anyone who doesn't know about our story up.

In the fall of 2006, I found out I was pregnant with our third child. Our first born, Grace was just 3 and our second, Sam was only 16 months or so. On December 1, at my routine 20 week sonogram, we found out that there were two babies and that our family of 4 would now become 6! We were slightly surprised to hear of this, but we shortly came to terms and began to make plans for our life with many small children.

Christmas came that year and shortly after that, I began to have contractions. A couple of trips to the hospital complete with medication to make them stop and I was back at home with orders of bedrest. This happened for all of a couple of days, when the contractions began again. This time, I would not be returning home for a while. I was transported to another area hospital that had the specialists on staff and that also had a level 3 NICU, where I would likely stay until I delivered the babies.

I was placed on magnesium sulfate to stop labor from happening. The doctors suspected that the babies were suffering from Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, which meant that one baby was taking more of the nutrients and not sharing with the other. As time progressed, one baby's sac was becoming much larger than the other. In order to give both babies a chance at life, the doctor did a series of amnio reductions in which he took a rather large needle and drew off fluid from the bigger sac, all the while watching what he was doing on the ultrasound as to not poke the baby. I think I had this done 2 times, and he ended up taking a total of 3 liters off of baby A. In theory, we would keep this up as necessary in order to keep the babies both growing and receiving the proper nutrition.

Unexpectedly, my water broke and the babies' heart rates began to drop. The decision was made to take them via C-section. They were delivered and taken immediately to the NICU. I don't recall many of the events during this time, as the drugs seemed to really alter my state of mind. I don't remember even seeing the babies before they took them.

I will never forget my second visit to the NICU. The first visit I don't really recall, except that I think I was in the hospital bed. The next time I went, I was able to get in the wheelchair and make it there with help. I didn't know the seriousness of the situation. The doctors explained that babies of this gestational age had about a 50% chance of living.

Both babies weighed about the same, 1 pound 4 ounces and were about 11 inches long. They were both in the isolettes and were hooked to more machines than I had ever seen. Their eyes were still fused shut and would take weeks to open, their skin was paper thin and so transparent and their color was strange, and their ears were so thin and flimsy that whenever someone repositioned them, they would "fluff" their ears! Here are pictures of them when they were one day old (first is Nate, second is Noah).

At four weeks of age, both boys underwent surgery to close a PDA in their hearts. There is apparently a duct that naturally closes on its own when a baby is born, but with being so premature, it did not for them. Shortly after that surgery, we began to notice changes in Noah. He had begun to get sick and we weren't sure what it was. It appeared to be some sort of infection and his abdomen began to really swell. After several days of antibiotics and still no signs of healing, a surgeon was called to consult and the decision was made to transfer Noah to the local Children's hospital, where he would undergo exploratory surgery looking for the source of infection in his abdomen. February 12, 2007, Noah underwent surgery at Children's Mercy Hospital at 10:00 p.m. It was then that the doctor removed 1/3 of his small intestine as it had become diseased and was virtually dead anyway. We then waited and prayed. That was the only thing we could do at that point. Those few days were some of the most defining, life changing days of my life. On Friday, February 16, 2007 we sat in the conference room with the team of doctors and were told that there was nothing more that they could do, and we decided it was time to stop all forms of medicine to prolong his life. We carefully helped take out all the tubes and wires and we gave our sweet baby a bath and dressed him and rocked him and let him go.

We left our baby in the arms of Jesus, got into the car and went to see our other fragile newborn across town at the other hospital. Not your typical Friday! Anyway, Nate continued to grow and develop and spent the first 3 and 1/2 months of his life in the hospital. He did have one more surgery before coming home, which was for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and was laser surgery on his eyes. We visited him every day, while so many friends and family cared for and took care of our needs at home (mainly our other 2 small children).

We brought Nate home on April 20, 2007 and he has been pretty healthy ever since! He turned two years old on January 4 and is doing very well.

I had expectations that as time passed, this season of our lives would somehow become less difficult and time would be a great healer. I have been wrong in my thinking. It seems this winter has proved to be one of the hardest thus far. Could be my crazy hormones, all the significant holidays/anniversaries of events, or the fact that time didn't make me love my baby any less than I did before. Whatever the case, I have been in a funk for quite some time.

Seasons are a changing, and I am slowly feeling better. Our family dynamics are changing as well, with the arrival of baby #4 in late May, so there are many things to be done and to keep me focused on the future.

Thanks to everyone for hanging in there with us through it all. I am hoping to get back in the swing of things and keep the blog better updated since we will have oh so much to share!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

the cat's out

This time of year is a wonderful time, but it also brings with it many memories and a certain sadness. It was just two years ago yesterday, I lay on the table getting my 20 week routine sonogram of my third pregnancy. It was then, in the presence of my husband and our then three year old daughter, that the tech informed me very blatently that "you do know there are two babies?" WHAT?? You've got to be kidding!

That was two years ago. I had already decided that with the third pregnancy, we would stop there and our family would be complete with three kids. The joke was on me that day as God revealed to us that he had other plans. After a few days of the news sinking in, I readily accepted the challenge and began to prepare for the soon to be family of six. Little did I know that just 4 weeks later, I would find myself in the hospital unable to stop the birth of our twin boys Nate and Noah.

The last couple of years have been a whirlwind of emotions. I have often felt like something is missing from our family. In the fall of 2007, I found myself once again pregnant, only to have it end in miscarriage. I have spent the last year in prayer as to the direction of our family. Is this it? Or will there be more? Whatever God will is for our family, let me be content with that and move forward.

With all that being said, and if you are still here with me, let me be the first (or the third) to tell you that God has spoken to us and I now know the answer to my prayers!

We are expecting again, in May (seems to be a magical time of year for us!) and are excited to finally announce comfortably to all who care to know! So there you have it - in case you haven't heard elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

no more appointments, please!

So, the other morning we were out running some errands and when we returned home, there was a message on the phone from a little girl for Grace. Apparently, one of her classmates was calling her to "chat" or something. Seriously, does this really have to start already? I told Grace that the girl had called, then I told her that she just needed to wait until she saw her at school and find out what she wanted. I don't know this girl at all, she might be really sweet, but really, they are just 5!

Sam has really been enjoying preschool and I am anxiously awaiting one of the other high schools to open up their registration for the spring semester so he can continue to go. I have had several reports from various groups/classes he attends and apparently, he is quite the good little boy in all accounts. I have been told that he is so helpful cleaning up and follows directions, is polite, and very enjoyable. Is this the same boy we live with? Anyway, it is always great to hear good things about your children.

Nate continues to get better in the gut department, but I am worried that he may be coming down with something else now. He has had a lot of mucus lately and is very off balance (he will fall down very easily) and has been having trouble going to sleep lately. It always seems like its something, doesn't it?

Last week, he had a speech evaluation done with a different therapist to see if he qualifies to receive speech services as well. Today, we had a meeting with the service coordinator to review his current goals and discuss the plan for the next 6 months. To my surprise, he did qualify for the speech services and will begin seeing the speech therapist in our home once a week. In addition, we will continue to see the special instruction, occupational therapist and the nutritionist on a monthly basis. Pretty much, this means that we will have someone coming to see him approximately twice a week. In addition to that, we also go to the pediatrician once a month for his Synagis shot (protects against RSV). Let's pray that he stays healthy and we don't have to have any other appointments in addition to all of this.

Life is busy, whether I like it or not! I am positive that there is no turning back now, because I have heard that it only gets worse as the kids get older. I guess I should enjoy it now, while I can!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A well formed update.

Probably more information than you ever wanted to know, but I am thrilled to announce that we have formed turds now! I won't even post a picture, but I am beside myself. For the first time in over a month, I haven't had to change Nate's bedding and clothes as soon as he wakes up in the morning as he has had poop all over everything. I am so hoping that we are on the road to recovery! Not only has Nate had the poop issues, but so did Sam. Now Grace seems to be the only one in the house with any remaining traces of the runs. At least she can take care of herself.

All righty then, no more potty talk from me. On to other business. Have I mentioned how great Nate is doing developmentally? Since getting his tubes in his ears, his speech has taken off in the last couple of weeks. He isn't really talking yet, but just to hear him babbling all the time is definitely a step in the right direction. I have always wondered why he has been such a quiet baby. Was it because he was on the ventilator for so long and never really cried or used his voice for several months? Maybe we cater to his every whim and he doesn't feel the need to ever whimper about anything. Whatever the case, he has always been extremely quiet, not much of a cryer or noise maker at all. He just got a speech evaluation this week to see if he qualifies for speech services in the First Steps program. He can say the b, d, m sounds pretty good and has quite an extensive vocabulary of words all beginning with the letter "b". He is now able to make some animal sounds and has become quite the chatterbox. He has also been stacking blocks quite nicely and likes to put anything "in and out". He has even taken up scribbling on paper. Most of these types of play are associated with children that are younger than him, but it is good for us to see a natural progression of skills. It eases me when these skills come naturally and that we haven't really seen much of a plateau of developmental milestones that we should worry about his future. He will catch up eventually, I'm sure.

Some pictures that I haven't posted. Halloween, which Nate was starting to get pretty sick, and some of our leaves from last weekend. Have a great one!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Home Sweet Messy Home

We are home again! Nate was discharged on Tuesday afternoon and nothing was ever determined to be the cause of his sickness. I am still going with my theory, but I do think that he was dehydrated and did need a lot of fluids that we weren't able to get in him. He also received three rounds of antibiotics for "whatever" it may have been as a precautionary measure. I sure was glad to get out of there, it made me more uneasy the longer we were there, as I was sure we would pick up something else in that germ infested place. As for now, we will practice handwashing and sanitizing and pray that this thing will be gone!

Life has resumed and I am trying to catch up from being at the hospital for a few days. The house is a disaster (what's new?), I am going to try to actually cook dinner tonight for a change, and we are still in our p.j.'s. I can only do so much, you know! It was nice for a change to not have anywhere to be today.

Thanks for checking in and I hope to have some cute pictures and more exciting things to report in the next few days.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bugs, Bugs and more Bugs

Did I mention in my last post that I am up to my eyeballs in #?&# (aka poop)? I sure hope we are on the the way to ending this bug! Anyway, things have been rather crazy around here as of late. Nate has been ill for quite some time, I believe he probably got some type of rotavirus or something and has had the poos. Sam also has the same thing, only his started two weeks ago instead of three. Then on Tuesday last week, I think Sam and Nate both contracted some type of flu bug and both were puking. That only lasted for a day, thank goodness. On Wednesday, I took Nate to the doctor and was ordered to collect samples of poo and bring them in to be cultured for various bugs. In the wee hours of Thursday morning, I woke up puking and spent the day in bed. On Friday, Nate woke with a temperature that I could not get to go away. I was able to get the poo turned in on Friday afternoon. Saturday, Nate still had the fever and was really acting sick. We went to urgent care and waited literally all day until it was so late at night, they were going to admit him to the hospital. We declined and decided that we would rather him go to a different location. At 10 p.m., we took our babe to Children's Mercy downtown and he was admitted. He was a little dehydrated and they wanted to continue to look for the cause of infection. After receiving fluids, x-rays, a catheter to gather urine samples, swabbed in his throat, a tube shoved up his nose for a sample of what's in there, a spinal tap to test for meningitis, nothing has shown up. Luckily, today, his fever has broken and his IV fluids have been decreased. He has started a round of a broad spectrum anitbiotic being given to treat whatever bug he might have.

Personally, I think all of this is a virus and the drugs aren't going to do a whole lot, but I guess it's worth a shot. Funny thing is that all of this started with bunches of poo, and since going to urgent care on Saturday, the kid hasn't pooped again! Go figure! All right, he did finally go last night, so they were happy to get a sampling of that as well. We are making it right now, but things are a little chaotic. Someone needs to be at the hospital at all times. Sam has preschool and Grace has school and we also need to disinfect the entire house! Luckily, the weather is beautiful and I am able to open all the windows and doors and air out the place.

We are hopeful that Nate will be discharged tomorrow, but have been told that he needs to be eating and drinking more before they will let him go. He has received so much IV fluids, that his eyes are almost swollen shut because he is so puffy. No wonder he doesn't want to drink anything, you wouldn't either if you were so bloated. He is pretty much being held captive to his bed, as the IV tubing and the other heart/lung monitor cords are very short.

If you think about it, say a prayer for him to start feeling better and for all the bugs to vacate our premise!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Little of This, A Little of That

Time has gotten away from me, once again! Things have been hectic and it looks as though it might not be slowing for a while, especially with the holiday season rapidly approaching. So here's what has been going on lately . . . .
  • I haven't been feeling good and spent the entire day on Sunday on the couch -- what an awesome husband I have to take and care for the kids, while I rested. I'm sure he was more than ready to go to work Monday morning.
  • Our bathroom (at least one of them) remodeling project is slowly on its way to being finished. The workers are done with their part, now it is up to us to finish up with some of the details. One more coat of paint left and a few other odds and ends.

  • We missed MOPS this week since I still wasn't feeling that great. I was bummed as this is becoming a highlight for me as it is about as much adult interaction I seem to be getting lately.

  • Nate is pooping like there's no tomorrow. I don't know how he can possibly be putting weight on, when he is having such enormous amounts of output. I used to smile, very smugly, when my mom friends would talk about their children blowing out of their diapers. My children never did this -- until now! It is horrible. Needless to say, I have been doing a lot of laundry, diaper changing, gagging, and praying that this last tooth will make its way in soon.

  • Nate will be seeing all three of his therapists in one week, so we have lots of appointments. He also has his follow up appointment at the ENT on Wednesday.

  • Speaking of Nate, we were approved by insurance to once again receive the synagis shot for one more year to protect him against RSV. The shot is given once a month and the dosage is weight dependent. Last season, his February dosage alone was almost $7000!! Praise the Lord for insurance! We also seem to have an easy time meeting our deductible early on in the year as RSV season is November through April.

  • As if the poop thing isn't disgusting enough, Sam woke us up this morning at 5:15 a.m. screaming. I guess his tummy wasn't feeling too good and he had vomited all over his bed and himself, including his hair (?). After giving him a shower and changing his bed and doing yet another load of laundry, he was up and ready for the day. Thank goodness he is resting now and letting me have some down time as well. Tis the season!

  • Grace is healthy (as of today) and will have her last soccer game on Saturday. We have been so fortunate with awesome weather for all of her games this year. She really likes her team and seems to enjoy playing - although, I'm not so sure about her skills yet!

  • My sister living in Guatemala will be coming home for Christmas. It's so hard to believe that we are already beginning to make holiday plans, but I am super excited and have a few holiday surprises in the works. Should be a fun year!

O.K., pretty boring stuff (mostly gross), but this is the season of life we are in right now! I will leave you with a few pictures of other random things. Have a great week!

Surely we didn't think the children were eating our pumpkins?? Turns out we have some of the fattest squirrels in the neighborhood, as they have been spotted thoroughly eating our pumpkins! We are now storing what's left of our pumpkins in the garage.