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!