Sunday, April 27, 2008

Week 3: All I Need is a Soccer Ball!

This week's post is all about...ME!
Not really, just the first picture. I have officially become a minivan mom! I used to bash the minivan, saying "I will not drive a minivan. I will be an SUV mom." Well, I guess that when I was saying that, I never thought that I would be the mom of twins. I thought that surely I would have a few years to buffer the time between car and minivan, hopefully using a Honda Pilot type small SUV to be the go between. But after much discussion(on my part) and number crunching (on Aaron's part), we decided that we really did need a new car, and found a pretty good deal on this minivan. We were cramming all 5 of us into my car, which took quite a bit of effort and creativity but soon realized that wasn't going to work for very long! We talked about getting a smaller SUV but I just felt that we would want the extra space that a van offered-especially if we have any more kids (although that is not really a discussion that we have right now)!The van is a 2005 Nissan Quest. The whole console area looks kind of "spaceship-ish." Emma calls it (the console/dash area) church. I guess it does kind of look like a podium. She will stand in front of the gear shifter and pretend that it is a microphone. The van is her new favorite place to play!

And as you can see, I put up a full body picture of myself. At my two week appointment with my doctor, I discovered that I lost 41 pounds! That put me somewhere between 5 and 7 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. (I weighed today and am actually under my pre-pregnancy weight!) Go me! I am a little confused because it took me forever to lose the weight with Emma, but it is just falling off this time around. I was all geared up for months of rigorous exercise and strict diet, but I am not having to do anything (thank goodness)! Hopefully it will last at least long enough for me to get my Lifetime membership with Weight Watchers...

And now for the update on the boys:

The boys had their doctor's appointment on Monday and both had a tremendous weight gain again! William gained 14 1/2 ounces and is up to 6 pounds 8 1/2 ounces, and Jonathan gained 13.5 ounces and weighs 6 pounds 10 1/2 ounces! The doctor told us that they want babies to gain 1 ounce per day, but they will accept as little as 1/2 ounce of weight gain a day. But my boys gained 2 ounces each day last week! We are so proud! Actually, I am pretty excited about it. They are starting to fill out a bit more in their faces and their bodies. It is comforting to watch them grow!
A neighbor stopped by on her walk one evening to visit and see the boys. While she was holding Jonathan, he found his thumb and started sucking it. This was a first for him and he hasn't done it since.

When I first saw this picture of Jonathan (while loading it on to my computer) I realized that I am going to have to go back through all my pictures and label which kid is in the picture. I can tell the boys apart when they are next to each other, I can tell them apart when I am holding one (or when Aaron brings one in and says "Which one is this?"), but in some of the pictures we have taken, it is harder for me to tell who is who. So here is one of them together. Like I said, it is hard for me to tell them apart sometimes. I put them in their little long sleeved tees, which I think look more like straight jackets, or they could pass for a chef's jacket. Anyway, just to confuse you all (and myself in the process) that is Jonathan on the left and William on the right. We usually put them the other way around-in their birth order. Emma and William had a little play time one day during the week and got all tired out. (Not really, I had just finished feeding William and sat him in the Boppy for a minute, and Emma wanted to get in hers. She covered them both in her Pooh Bear blanket-I was a little surprised that she would share.) Here they are taking a nap together. (Again, not really, Emma just pretended to be asleep for the picture.) This is Emma in her latest get up. Since it has been so hot lately, she insists on wearing her sunglasses everywhere she goes. For some reason, she thinks that the sunglasses act as some kind of "cooling off" method. She is also sporting her gardening gloves, and completes her pink spring ensemble with her church shoes-which, if you look closely, are on the wrong feet! Here is Emma before church last Sunday. She looked so sweet in this picture that I just had to post it. She is wearing a white linen dress and a pink sweater. When she came home from church, there was crayon all over her dress and sweater. She put crayons in her pocket which left marks all over the pockets. Luckily it washed out. I would have been sad if it didn't. I really like that dress!

Here is the true face of Emma. She is so funny! This is her before church today. She can be so silly sometimes!

Oh, and Aaron wants me to point out the difference in the bushes behind Emma. Last Sunday they were all wild and jungle like, and today they are all nice and shapely. Aaron spent most of the day in the yard yesterday, trying to tame all of our overgrown bushes and mowing. I love how green everything is here, but the yard work can really get away from you if you let it! (Or if it rains every Saturday, you don't do yard work on Sundays, and then don't get home from work until after dark every day during the week.) I guess that I could assist in the lawn mowing, but I kind of have a lot going on in the house! One last picture to leave you with this week. Aaron took Emma out to take pictures before church so I could finish getting ready. This one is so cute and so sweet. I will have to make it my desktop picture on my computer so that whenever she is being more than I can deal with, I can look at it and remember how sweet she can be!

That is it for this week. I realized that this blog (especially in the last few weeks) is serving as my journal. Since I am too busy to write in one, hopefully I can be descriptive enough here to serve my journal purpose. Hope you all have a good week!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Week 2: Is it possible to sleep so little and still function?

First, a little disclaimer. This is probably going to wind up being a long post. Since I am trying to post at least once a week, and our weeks are becoming pretty eventful, my posts may start getting quite lengthy.

For starters, we took the boys to the pediatrician on Monday. They each gained 11 ounces in a week. To quote the pediatrician (who I heard talking out in the hall), "Holy Majoly! That little preemie gained 11 ounces in a week? That's phenomenal!" I guess they are really packing it on! They both weigh almost 6 pounds. We have another appointment on Monday, so hopefully they will have gained that much again and be almost 7 pounds.

On Tuesday, my cousin Emily and her little girl, Abby (hope I spelled it right) came over to visit. Abby is 10 weeks older than the boys-at least I think that is what we figured it up to be. She is so cute! We decided to put her in the crib with the boys to see the difference in their sizes. I thought it was a cute picture.

The sleep deprivation is finally getting to us. Aaron has been really good to give me the opportunity to take naps (when he is home) and he sends me to bed early more often than I would like. There just isn't enough time in the day to do everything on my list! Aaron said he has been making silly mistakes at work. I swear, I could sleep standing up sometimes!

Lately, Aaron likes to feed the boys at the same time, especially at night so that he can get back to sleep faster. Here they are eating together. And here is another of the same picture. But I wanted to throw this one in for a little perspective. You can see Aaron's feet at the bottom edge of the blanket in this picture. He doesn't have large feet by any means (I think they are kind of small, actually) but you can kind of see how tiny the boys are in comparison. Here is Emma being such a sweet big sister. She was holding Jonathan and "petting" him. It was so cute, and so I took a picture. She loves to "pet" them, especially their soft heads. I guess that Emma learned it from me-I love to rub their velvety little heads! I think that most any older sibling has a picture somewhere like this one. Emma wanted to know what it was like to be wrapped up in her blanket like the babies! She had just woken up from a nap and actually stayed swaddled in her favorite blanket for about 10 minutes! I can't blame her-that is the softest blanket! (Sometimes when she isn't around, if she hasn't stashed it somewhere, I curl up under it for my nap.) Okay, okay. I know that it is the middle of April and that there is a gingerbread house behind my kid in this picture. Let me explain. When we moved into our house, the people that sold it to us left this for Emma. They thought that it would be fun for her to talk about getting a new house. I kept putting off making it with her. I don't know why. But this last week, I decided that Emma was in serious need of some "Mommy-daughter" time. So we built the gingerbread house together. And she ate most of the candy for it by herself. Which made it very hard to put her to bed that night! But I am glad that I neglected housework for a while and played with her. It was so worth it-just look at that smile! This is a picture of Emma with an inchworm that she found the other day. We have been spending a lot of time outside lately, and Emma has been enjoying all the cool new bugs our yard has to offer. She is, however, afraid of ants since she learned that some of them are fire ants.

Hope you enjoyed our post for this week.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Week One: Somehow We Made It!

Well, it has been a week since the boys were able to come home. Somehow, we have survived it! Emma came home on Saturday evening, and was so happy to be home and to meet her brothers. She is really doing a great job at being the big sister, and loves her brothers a lot.She loves them so much that she decided that she needed to hold William one day. He was laying on the couch while Aaron was getting his bottle ready and when Aaron turned around, Emma was picking William up. I don't know if she just couldn't hold him, or if Aaron's quick movements startled her, but she started to drop him. Aaron ran over to her and caught him right in time! I was taking a nap during all of this and Emma came running up to the bedroom, extremely upset, saying "I'm bad." I felt sad for her but I was really concerned for William at the same time. We had a family home evening that night about the rules of the babies (always wash hands before touching them, only hold them if mom or dad are helping, etc.). She has been very careful since then to follow the rules! Some of you may wonder what our days are like. Mine (or Aaron's) day begins at 2 am, depending on whose turn it is to do the 2 am feeding. They each can eat 50-60 cc's (that is 50-60 mL and I think about 2 ounces) at a time. We wake up Jonathan first, change his diaper, warm his bottle and then feed him. This whole process takes anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how quickly he eats. Then, we put him back to bed and then do the same thing for William. If it is my turn, I take another 10-15 minutes to pump before going back to bed. Then, whoever didn't do the 2 am feeding gets up at 5 am and does that feeding. This way one of us should be getting 5 solid hours of sleep at a time. The boys eat at 2,5,8,and 11 (am and pm). That is one of the pros of them being in the NICU for a week. The nurses did all the work of getting the boys on a schedule, and I didn't have to do any of it! In my spare 2 hours between feedings, I am desperately trying to do laundry, wash bottles, and take care of anything else that needs to be done before the next feeding frenzy begins. So, if you have called or emailed and I have yet to respond, I am sure you understand why! We have had a few requests for side by side pictures of the boys. We don't know yet if they are identical or not (sometimes the only way to know is a DNA test, and I don't want to pay for one-and besides, it doesn't really matter anyway). I can totally tell a difference. Some of their nurses could tell them apart, others couldn't. Can you? Just in case we get confused, we lay them in the same order of their birth. Baby A (William) is always on the left and Baby B (Jonathan) is always on the right. Here they are from the side. I think they look a little more alike here than in the picture with their eyes open.

The boys are two weeks old now, and had a doctor's appointment on Monday. Jonathan is back up to 5 pounds 2 ounces and William was 4 pounds 15 ounces. They had each gained 3 1/2 ounces in the three days since they left the hospital. They have another appointment this coming Monday and we will see how much they have gained over the course of a week.

It sure has been nice to have all my kids home, but I am so tired! Aaron has been such a big help, and takes Emma to do fun things often so that I can catch a nap in the afternoons. I am not sure if we will ever get this figured out and I am really scared to have to do this on my own when Aaron goes back to work! Luckily, he still has another week at home before he has to go back. I guess that when that time comes, I will have to be satisfied if we are all clean, fed and happy, even if the laundry and dishes are piled up and nothing else has been done!

That's about it for now.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Home Sweet Home

My boys are home! I am so excited! The boys were discharged from the hospital on Friday. I was so excited at the prospect of getting them home, but so nervous at the same time. I kept asking the nurses if they were sure if it was okay for me to take them, and they have all assured me that it is. I am so afraid that I am going to break them! They are so little!
Here are the boys in their car seats. This should give a bit of perspective on their size. Each of the boys had to pass a car seat test. (That is Jonathan doing his test in the picture below.) I had to put them in their car seat, tighten the straps down so that there was no extra fabric in the straps, shove blankets in between their legs to eliminate extra space between them and the buckle, and add blankets to their sides to keep their heads up. And then, once I got them all in there, they had to sit in the seat for an hour with their oxygen saturation monitor on to make sure that their oxygen levels stayed up. They both passed their test.

I was going to just get one new car seat and use Emma's old one for the other baby. I put William in the car seat, strapped it down, and there was still tons of space between the baby and the straps, so I had to go get a new car seat the day the boys were to come home. This was a shock to Aaron and I (and our wallets). My sweet cousins all went in together to buy the new car seat. I thought that was really sweet of them. Those car seats are not cheap!

Room with a View

I wanted to add a post showing the place where we have spent so much of our time lately. The Special Care Nursery (NICU) was located on the top floor of the hospital and was added about a year ago. It was very nice and offered a great view of part of Atlanta. This is not downtown Atlanta, just one business area. The two towers in the middle of the picture are called "The King" and "The Queen." I assume the one with the angular architecture on the top is the King and the one with the more rounded architecture is the Queen. It was a beautiful view. Too bad the boys are too little to appreciate it!These are the boys in their crib. They each had a computer monitor that constantly monitored their vital signs. There is a lot of extra equipment around their bed, for unexpected emergencies, I am sure. They didn't use most of that equipment. There is a small rectangular box with blue buttons on each side of the bed. This was the thing that they got their tube feedings from. The nurse would put formula into a large plastic syringe (like the kind they give you at the pharmacy if your kids get liquid medication) and would program in how much they got over the alloted period of time. The machine would slowly push the formula through their feeding tube and into their little tummies. While I am glad that I don't have to go up to that room anymore, fear and panic are beginning to set in as I know that their breathing isn't being constantly monitored, that their little heart rates aren't being watched on a 24 hour basis. Even though they were in the NICU, it was somewhat comforting to know that they were always being watched and constantly being looked after. I am glad to have them home with me though!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Together Again!

I was given the official discharge for myself on Monday afternoon and Aaron and I left the hospital and went home. Without the boys. They are still in the NICU, and I must say that was quite the emotional ride home from the hospital. Imagine getting a new toy only to have to leave it at the store for some undetermined amount of time...I cried the whole way home. Emma is staying with my parents in Tennessee so she wasn't here that night either. I came home with Aaron to an empty house. I cried a lot more.

HOWEVER, as I left the hospital, the boys were transfered to another part of the NICU. A less intensive care part. And they were allowed to go in a crib together! Aaron was so sweet to take me back on Monday night and let me see them in their new bed. They were so sweet and it was the first time that we had actually been able to see them both at the same time. They don't really look very identical to us. We are starting to wonder if they really are identical or not. Although, that is the least of my cares right now.

I left the hospital Monday night feeling much better that they were together and in the less serious part of the NICU. The room or "pod" that they are in is quite nice, and was built about a year ago. There are curtains all the way around a large cubicle like area that we can close to make it a more private room for us. There is a recliner and a few other chairs in there and it is quite comfortable. I went back yesterday and spent several hours there, holding and rocking the boys, and even letting them attempt to nurse.

They will get to come home when they can eat a certain number of bottles, each a certain amount of fluid, every day without getting too tired. They are eating really well, but still have 1 or 2 tube feedings a day so that they don't overdo it.

Here is a picture of William. He is the one we call our little beach bum. He had a hard time regulating his temperature so the nurses had to put him under a heat lamp more often than his brother. He would sprawl out under the heat and sleep. We laugh and say that he is having dreams of laying on a beach somewhere. He is quite the sleeper. I watched the nurses prick his heel to get blood, cry for 3 seconds, and go right back to sleep. What a funny kid!

Here is a picture of Jonathan. He is a little more restless and loves to eat! He wakes up 10 minutes before his scheduled feeding time and roots around for his food. He is kind of a sloppy eater-the kid already needs a bib! He loves to look around and see what there is to see.

I am not allowed to drive for two weeks so I am bumming rides to the hospital each day. (Okay, does that seem a little obnoxious to anyone? Take my babies, make them stay at the hospital, and then tell me I can't drive. Sure, why not.) If I go to the hospital in the mornings, Aaron drops me off on his way to work and then someone picks me up and takes me home. Or, if I get a ride later in the day, Aaron picks me up on his way home from work. My cousins here, Bonnie and Emily have been so good to help me out with rides (and they are stocking my freezer with food. I am thinking I should have twins more often!)

Aaron went back to work yesterday so that he can take his parental leave when the boys do come home, and Emma is still in Tennessee with my parents. I have been almost a week without Emma, and I am missing her so bad. She is quite the active girl though, and it is probably better for me to take this time to rest and recover before I have all the kids here.

I am recovering well. I am getting my strength back and getting along much better than I had imagined that I would. Its hard to be up and walking around for longer than 15 or 20 minutes at a time, but I am doing better every day. We are amazed at the outpouring of love and service of those around us. Like I said, Bonnie and Emily are doing so much to help us and anytime I ask either of them for any kind of help, they never hesitate to say yes. Our ward has started calling to set up meals and rides to the hospital and I am so grateful for that. We feel so blessed.

Thank you again for all your phone calls, emails and comments on the blog. We love you all and are thankful to have so many wonderful family members and friends. I will do my best to keep my posts up to date. Love to you all!