Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Parties are great but...

As mentioned earlier, we ventured to Iowa for the weekend. The plan all along was to have a post-birth baby shower with Shannon's relatives. Because we don't see his extended family very often, we thought they would prefer a shower and see the kids at the same time. With them coming so early, it was all just a bit delayed. My mom came down to babysit our dog Ivy and work on finishing the stain on our master bedroom doors.

Of course Grandma Sue and Grandpa George were very excited to have the babies stay at their house for the first time. They had a pack n play all set up, a changing table that they had finished painting, and diapers and other supplies. It was nice not having to pack as much for the trip. I think next time I would throw in our Papazon chair so when they are done eating, they have something they can sit upright in to digest. But in the meantime, Grandma and Grandpa loved the opportunity to hold them and give them a squeeze!

The shower was Saturday afternoon. I had them dressed in their new coordinating Pooh overall outfits that cousin Ann had bought for them. Sara decided to sleep the entire time and Adam was awake. Everyone was so excited to see them and celebrate how well they were doing. They were amazed at how Sara could sleep through all the commotion. And when she finally opened her eyes 10 min before everyone left, they all rushed over to take pictures like they were the paparazzi! We got lots of great presents and clothes to grow into. It was nice to get another reminder as to how many people follow their progress that we are unaware of.

We left Sunday early afternoon and knew we wouldn't make it all the way home without having to stop to eat. So we pulled into the Iowa 80 truck stop and took turns going in for food. I went in, went to the bathroom, and ordered my selections from Wendy's to eat in the car in the parking lot. Then Shannon took Sara in to change her diaper (a 4-wipe, Crayola green episode!) and get his food. I got done eating and Adam couldn't wait any longer to eat. So I nursed him in the front seat of the car in the parking lot and covered him with a yellow Wendy's napkin! Shannon had the diaper bag with him so I didn't have anything else to cover up with.

So while parties are great, the recovery is awful! Adam slept in 15 minute intervals overnight on Sunday. Shannon took the shift from 11-3:30am and I took from then until 8:30. I got tired of getting in and out of bed so instead dozed off and and on in the recliner in the nursery. We both agreed it was pretty brutal.

Adam says "I'm wireless too!"

Well, we finally took the plunge and unplugged Adam completely. We weren't quite ready at his last pediatrician appointment. The plan was to wait the 2 weeks until his next appointment this Friday and then go a few days longer to see how he did with his 2 month shots. But we were comfortable with leaving him unhooked for longer periods during the day. So we would leave his belt on and just plug him in for naps and to sleep at night. One of the days my Aunt Robyn visited we had given them a bath in the morning and then decided to go shopping. Of course we had taken his belt off for the bath and I decided to leave it off as we would be in and out of the car to watch him. And then we made a trip to Iowa this weekend and left it off for the car ride but hooked him back up just to sleep at night.

Shannon and I talked off and on about our comfort level and when we thought it was time. It's not so much his apnea that has me nervous right now but his times of having a high heart rate. The last time he set the monitor off was when Robyn was here and he didn't even seem that upset - not red or screaming - but there was that unique set of beeps to indicate he was tachycardic. I can check with Dr. Neese and Dr. Hasselman (his cardiologist) about it. Now that he is off his apnea monitor, we will have him on a heart monitor for 24 hours at some point to look for any abnormalities. So for those of you who have been visiting and make a comment that it's okay to cry because it's good for their lungs (or something along those lines) I apologize if you have been offended that I am not in total agreement. Now I don't run to him every time he cries and freak out. I'm just saying I'm not comfortable pushing it when I don't have to.

So we got back from Iowa Sunday night and Adam was konked out and ready for bed. I told Shannon we didn't have his monitor on and we would have to undress him to put on PJs and get his belt on. We just kind of looked at each other, laid him in his crib, and walked out of the room to get ready for bed ourselves.

So there you have it - 116 days of life and Adam is a free man!

And we get to experience life a little closer to normal. Well, normal with twins I suppose.

It feels good to have wireless kids!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Weekend news

Let's see...aunt Robyn was visiting for the weekend and she gave Adam a bath Saturday morning. For the first time we heard not a peep out of him. I didn't actually witness the event because I was feeding Sara in the nursery. I told Rob that if there weren't witnesses it didn't actually happen so she carried him in the room wet and wrapped in a towel to offer proof! Yesterday we had a repeat performance. Yeah!

Saturday, 8:15pm. I had put Sara just slightly on her side and when I came in 5 minutes later, she had rolled to her tummy trying to wiggle and get closer to Adam.

Adam is loving using his legs. He has started putting weight on them as you hold him and kicking. To those that may hold him, hang on! He can push with enough weight to about launch himself over your shoulder! I see a bouncy seat in his future! Speaking of new equipment, he tried out a used swing that our friends, the Durrs, donated a few years ago. He loves it! We even hung a few things for him to look at. Of course, he chooses to look the other way and stare at the movement of the bar...

Back to Sara - she is trying out smiling interactively instead of just when she's having gas. How fun is that?

And Adam is feeling better. Less cranky and back up to eating full feeds. Saturday and Sunday he even ate every 2 or 3 hours before bedtime and then slept for 6 1/2! Well, until last night. He sounded fussy so I got up to check on him. He started choking so I turned him over to pat him on his back and he threw up. Not spit up. Threw up. And it had what appeared to either be bile or dried blood mixed in. Of course it freaked him out...and me, too. He ate about 2 ounces an hour later and then spit it all up. He's been pretty out of it since then so we are monitoring things. They had a big day of shopping yesterday so I'm not sure if he was just worn out.

As far as the Dad, still no news on the job front. He had an interview 3 weeks ago that they indicated they wanted him back for a 2nd at the end of their time. After checking in with them Friday, they haven't done any more 1st interviews yet to focus on another urgent hiring. Frustrating. He is applying for some part-time options in the mean time. And he is still partnering with me in taking care of the twins, working on the deck which looks fabulous, and spreading a new layer of mulch around the plantings.

As far as the Mama - milestone of change...I tried sour cream on my baked potato over the weekend. Not too bad. Go figure!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Adam's CBC

Dr. McCarthy ordered a CBC (complete blood count) at Adam's appointment the other day. Shannon took him to Proctor Hospital that day to get it drawn and then I picked up the results in the afternoon. The print out reflected that his Hematocrit was low, Hemoglobin was borderline, and platelets were high. The nurse called and said Dr. M wanted to start him on Polyvisol with iron. I told her he already gets that vitamin added to his bottle every day. Oh. She had to check back with the doctor.

The next phone call she told me they would just retest his blood in 6-8 weeks. Excuse me? Did you say weeks? So Dr. McCarthy isn't concerned that his Hematocrit was low? No. And she's not concerned that his eating is 1/2 volume and he just isn't himself? No. Okay, then.

I got off the phone with them and called the NICU to see if I could talk to one of the nurse practitioners on duty to get a second opinion. She pulled up Adam's record and compared the lab results with his levels when he was discharged. It really wasn't much different so she agreed that she didn't think he was anemic. She asked how much he was eating, going to the bathroom, whether the doctor looked in his ears...She concluded that she didn't think there was anything major and just keep an eye on him. And ended the call by saying 'call anytime, we're always open!' How awesome!

Yesterday seemed to be better. He had some feedings that were 4 ounces like he normally takes. Still seems pretty tired and sleepy. And this morning he spit up quite a bit. We'll just keep watching him at this point.

As a side note, I decided yesterday to retire the "N" diapers. I was trying to get through the last package but I got tired of really working to get them hiked up high enough to not have accidents. And Sara pees so much after nursing that the diaper couldn't hold it all. But moving to the next size is almost like starting all over again - folding them over in the back and down in the front! I remember when they were on the preemie diapers and they were huge! There was even a time when Adam was on the next size smaller than that. Growth is a beautiful thing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

15 weeks (or +3)

Well, 1 day shy of 15 weeks anyway. The kids had another weight check at the pediatrician this morning. PS - thanks Sue for helping out!

6/26/09 -
Adam----7lb 6oz, 20 1/2"
Sara----6lb 15oz, 20"

7/15/09 -
Adam----9lb, 21"
Sara----8lb 9oz, 20"

So while Sara was 1" longer at birth, Adam has now surpassed her the other way. And her slower growth is evident in her bigger cheeks! Know what is really comical? According to a "super-preemie" growth chart, the kids are progressing nicely and fall in the 40-50% range compared to other kids at their gestation. But if you compare them to full-term babies born at the same time...Sara is in the .23% range and Adam .7%! That just cracks me up!

Dr. McCarthy felt they are both progressing very nicely. As far as Sara's gas pains? More Milacon. Milacon is our friend. If the label says they can get it 12 times a day, then go for it. And Adam's eating issues the past few days? She ordered a CBC (complete blood count) to just make sure no illnesses are brewing. She was pretty shocked that they are already taking 4oz in a feeding.

And the most exciting news? Yes, on day 104 of life, Sara is officially wireless. I now have the luxury with one of my babies to carry them anywhere in the house completely untethered. The lab was prepared to recommend that Adam could be transitioned as well, but they aren't familiar with his history like we are so I decided to wait just a bit longer. We will go back in 2 weeks for essentially a 4 month check up and they will get their 2 month immunizations. A few days later we will get Adam's monitor downloaded and then if all is well, he will get unplugged then. The doctor's logic behind that is if he has any adverse affects from the immunizations, the montior will register that.

I will pick up the results from the CBC this afternoon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Another monitor download

My mom was visiting for a few days in order to pick some accessories for new cabinets to be installed in our family cabin in Minnesota. It was great to have the extra hands. This morning she and I ventured back to OSF to the sleep lab to have both Adam & Sara's monitors downloaded in preparation for their pediatrician appointment tomorrow morning. What were my expectations? I thought Sara would do awesome as usual. And Adam? Well, we knew that his recent apnea struggles were due to reflux issues. Prior to his last download I stopped nursing and increased the rice in his bottles and it paid off with only 1 apnea. So we used the past 2 weeks as experimentation time. I started nursing him again a few times a day and we cut back on the rice. So I was completely prepared that he had another increase in apneas. The technician was surprised I already had the monitors out of the carrying case and unplugged, ready for her to download the data. I told her that I would like the results read by tomorrow if possible so we could discuss next steps with the doctor. She headed to the back to make sure the data transferred and came back out with preliminary results! So back to Adam...he had 1 short apnea and 1 short bradycardia in the past 2 weeks. I was shocked! My boy did such an awesome job with the challenge we gave him. It is such a nice feeling to see him progressing. Going from 10-15 "As & Bs" a day in the NICU to 1 or 2 in the past few weeks...what an accomplishment! Dr. Neese is out of the country on a mission trip so we will see Dr. McCarthy tomorrow for a weight check. We are hoping she agrees and Sara comes home monitor free. She has now had 2 months with no episodes.

I am a little concerned about Adam over the past few days. He has not been eating like he normally does. Taking 1/2 his feeding volume and spitting most of it up, breathing heavier. I wonder in the back of my mind if he is going through his round of anemia that he never had while in the hospital. At that time, his body was not able to kick in and make red blood cells so he had a blood transfusion both times he got anemic. Dr. Clark told us during discharge to expect that he would have a bout of it while we were home but he should be big enough to muscle through it. Just look for symptoms of being pale, more tired & irritable, not eating as well, etc. I'll definitely check into that with the Dr. McCarthy. Also a question to check in about Sara's gas pains. Seriously, she just writhes in bed sometimes almost screaming out just trying to pass gas. There has to be some other way we can help her.

More news tomorrow after the doctor visit...

Friday, July 10, 2009

First developmental assessment

Lots of posts about Adam lately so we'll have to get one in about Sara soon. But this one is important...Adam had his first assessment to check for any developmental issues in relation to his brain bleed. The Early Intervention program is offered through the state and assesses them much earlier than the Regional Development Followup Program through Easter Seals (appointment scheduled for January 2010). Since the NICU suggested we see them, we thought we would start extra early if there were any issues to address.

So on Thursday we took both the kids for the assessment, in case they wanted to do any twin comparisons. Mostly they just asked questions about Sara while she sat cute in her car seat.

It seemed only fitting to put Adam's 'Mr. Amazing' shirt on for the physical therapist and occupational therapist to work with him. We all got down on the floor and they put Adam on his blanket. We started just by answering a lot of questions they had about his life in the NICU and they made lots of notes.

If they assess Adam at over 30% behind developmentally, he would qualify for follow up therapy to work on catching him up. However, the OT explained that since he technically is 0 months, he could do nothing at all and not be behind!

The PT had a packet of exercises she wanted to try with him. Lifting to check his head control, standing him on his legs to see if he wanted to put any weight on his legs, using a rattle to see if his eyes or head would turn in the direction of the sound, checking the strength of his grasping. One thing that was pretty funny was she took his hands and moved his arms toward his chest and then out wide 4 times and then let go of his hands. 3 seconds later, his fists popped open! That is a normal reflex. One thing that they noticed quickly and we had seen at home, too, was that he favors his right side. When he lays in his crib, he prefers to put his head to the right, and it is actually quite the challenge to get him to move it to the left. The PT held him in her lap and pointed out how his head is a little mishaped because of that. The exercises she did revealed that his neck muscles are not as developed on that left side. Thankfully, she doesn't feel it is in relation to anything neurologically.

At the end of the meeting, we listened to their verbal report concerning the 5 areas they assessed. We will receive a written report in the mail. Some areas he was where they would expect - at 0 months gestationally corrected. And other areas they felt he was ahead and closer to his actual age of 3 months. The biggest concern was his weakness on that left side. They would like us to work with him on strengthening that left side by putting him on his stomach when he is awake and turning is head that direction. We will also lay him on the opposite shoulder to burp.

He does not need follow up therapy at this point. But the PT would like to re-evaluate him in 3 months to check on his left side weakness. She has set a goal for him to be able to move his head side to side either while on his back or on his tummy. Now is the time to correct it more easily than when he is older. They decided that while he won't qualify for the program being over 30% behind, he can qualify because of his brain bleed.

So there you have it - he's deemed a Wonder Twin again! Right on target or slightly ahead. Whew! Shannon and I have talked for years about how we are 2 intelligent parents so when we have kids, they would either be smart like us or it would be cancelled out and they would be dumb as a brick.

No more eye appointments!

The biggest irritation about Adam's eye appointment yesterday was that they overbooked. They put drops in his eyes right away in the waiting area so they could get dilated. But then he sat there for over an hour. That's just not right. First of all, they ask that he doesn't eat before he comes because they don't want the exam to cause him to spit up. Then it takes almost 2 hours at the appointment. That is just unacceptable. And then you get him home and he is so exhausted from the exam that he only eats half of it and has a bradycardia (drop in heart rate enough to set off the monitor) in the middle. It throws him off for the rest of the day.

But here I am ranting about something he won't have to go back for...yeah!

They officially declared that his eyes are development and he needs no further follow up for his ROP condition. Just another thing to check off the list! They do recommend that we bring both kids in at 6 months to make sure they are on the right path because it is common for preemies that early to have vision issues. If we do, maybe we should consider taking them somewhere else! There's my ranting again when I should be celebrating!

Awesome dinner!

I had a craving so I had Shannon buy things to make a pot roast in the crock pot for dinner last night. Some of you probably know that Shannon is the grocery shopper in the household. What you may not know is that when we are both gainfully employed, I actually offered him extra money in our budget to remove the shopping burden from me. The idea hit me a few years ago because I just loathed going grocery shopping and would keep putting it off. I mean, you can only eat peanut butter and jelly for so many lunches! Sorry, tangent...

So he bought a rump roast and paid good attention that there was a little fat running through it which is what makes it juicy when you put it in the crock pot. Baby red potatoes are a must as well as the rest of the carrots that we had in the fridge. Carrots are actually one of Shannon's favorite vegetables and a little treat because we don't have them often enough. I decided this time to season the meat a little different. Instead of just the normal salt and pepper, I added some grill seasonings that had garlic, cracked pepper, etc.

I knew all day that I would make corn bread with it. You just can't go wrong with corn bread, especially when it cooks in the pan with the edges slightly crispy - it's like dessert! Well, not quite.

But then I had the notion that I would make gravy. I am 35 years old and I have never ventured out to make gravy. I know, shocking.

I was aiming to have everything ready at 6:30. Shannon decided at 5:30 that he was going to run quick and look at some property that a friend was considering buying so he could offer his input. Adam was fast asleep in his crib, drowsy from his eye appointment (more on that in another post) and Sara was alert so I put her in her highchair in the kitchen with me. An awesome buy, I must say. It is small enough for them to sit in and has a 5 point harness. They love being wheeled around and often "eat dinner" with us. So I got the corn bread in the oven, worked on the gravy, set the table, and sliced up the meat.

Shannon returned right at 6:30 and I actually had everything ready in nice bowls to set on the table instead of just eating buffet style out of the pot. The carrots weren't too mushy. The potatoes were flavorful and the right kind of soft. The meat was so tender - the best pot roast I have had. The corn bread had the crispy edges. I had my milk with an ice cube in it. And the gravy...well, it made the meal. I was so proud of myself and really felt like I accomplished something nice for the family for the day.

Seriously, I haven't been able to stop thinking about how good the meal was since last night!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Don't call DCFS...

I forgot one tidbit about our 4th of July weekend trip and Shannon was hesitant to post it on the internet for fear of being labeled as a bad parent and having the kids taken away! :)

We have this really awesome stroller that my aunt Robyn bought for us. For those of you who may have multiples or know someone who does, check out doubledeckerstroller.com. It's basically a metal frame that is collapsible and has awesome neumatic tires like a bicycle. Then your car seat gets removed from the car and snaps right onto the stroller. Very easy to push and not as big as other twin strollers. We really couldn't live without it. Anyway, my cousin Emily, Robyn's daughter, has twin girls that are 3. She shared the story of how one of the girls wasn't locked in once at a county fair and she tumbled off onto the grass. We had a good laugh and I tucked that away to make sure the same thing didn't happen to me. Well...

There we were at Target in Lake Geneva. I loaded the babies in the stroller - Adam on top and Sara in the bottom this time, which in retrospect was probably good. I guess I didn't check very well to see if the car seats were locked to the frame. You can see where this is leading. My mom was pushing them through the parking lot and hit that bump for the metal grate going into the store and off Sara toppled. Car seat on the ground laying on its side in the foyer of Target. People walking by, which I didn't notice because I was scrambling to check on my baby! Emily looked back to see Sara's eyes pop wide open in surprise and then shut again to go back to sleep as she laid tipped on her side. Not even a peep out of her. Guess those 5 point harnesses really work on those car seats! I picked her back up and snapped her on and took a calming moment, mostly for me apparently, and the incident was behind us.

All I know is that when she wants to go on roller coaster rides when she's older, Shannon will be riding with her and I will be taking pictures!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

4th of July road trip

We packed up the kids for our first real road trip to my (JoLynn) aunt Robyn's house in Lake Geneva. Seemed like good timing since cousin Beth's 3rd daughter, Clara, was having her first birthday party.

Shocking some of our friends and family, we actually left home at 7:30am Friday morning. I had plans to leave an hour earlier so we could drop Ivy off at the Pet Palace right when they opened. But you know how it goes with kids...why Shannon and I were still packing at midnight the night before when we had all day is puzzling to me. Then I set the alarm for 2:15 for the next feeding. I have had a lot of questions as to why I set an alarm - just get up when they cry that they are hungry. First, we both pretty much black out (see previous post regarding the missed feeding) and wouldn't wake up to a crying baby. Second, it's usually Sara who wakes first and her "cry" is usually a few little grunts. Anyway, they decided to sleep extra long. At least I got caught up washing bottles at 3:00am while Shannon napped in the LazyBoy in the living room. They finally ate and I went back to bed at 4 to get up at 5:30 to pump, shower, load the kids, make Shannon a breakfast sandwich for the road.

We stopped in Mendota at a restaurant to eat a little more breakfast and feed the kids a bottle. Quite the discussion in the ladies room as I left from changing one baby and arrived with another, facing all the same typical questions...what's their name, when were they born, how old are they now, how much do they weigh, how much did they weigh when they were born. I had no idea the attention that would come! Shannon and I have joked that we would like to laminate a sign to put on their car seats that answers the top 5 most asked questions. Those answers that will vary - current weight and age - we will write in with a grease pencil!

It sure felt like a long car ride with all the road construction and traffic but we made it in one piece. My cousin Emily's girls came running to see us - Jordyn (5) and Peyton and Morgan (3). The accommodations worked out great. My aunt had set up a pack and play for the kids to sleep in our bedroom and have a little shelf to store diaper changing needs. The only downfall was in the middle of the night when Shannon forgot a baby was on the bed getting a diaper changed and he would roll over! Robyn also bought a little "dome" at a garage sale that came in really handy. It's this little padded pod thing that they can sleep in and if you need to, a canopy pulls over and zips shut to keep various pests out. Adam and Sara spent a lot of time in it and loved it. Great buy!

There was another baby at the party who was born 2 weeks before Adam & Sara. Everyone was amazed at the size difference. They are just now getting to a newborn size even though they are 3 months old.

The weekend went well and the kids looked great in their 4th of July outfits. My mom had made the trip as well so it sure was nice to have a few days of extra hands with holding and changing and providing interaction. They are both becoming more alert and having periods that they are awake for a while so we are learning what they like for amusement and stimulation.

That's it for now. Just getting settled back in at home. Adam has his developmental appointments tomorrow with a physical therapist and occupational therapist. They will assess if he seems behind due to his brain bleed. I'm anxious to hear what they have to say. And Thursday he has another follow up eye appointment that I am hoping will be his last one. G&G Mollenhauer are visiting Friday/Saturday to help hold babies. Maybe Shannon and his dad will finish our deck that has been a work in progress! We continue to wait for news on the job front for Shannon. A current prospect seems intriguing since they decided by the end of the first interview that they wanted him back for a second. Keep us in your prayers as I am now officially working part-time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Monitor results

Just a quick update - we got Adam's apnea monitor results from the past 2 weeks. He only had 1 apnea episode of not breathing and no other bradycardia issues or other items of concern. Needless to say, we are happy that we didn't move forward with the caffeine. His reflux has definitely seemed better this week. No red face after eating and writhing and wiggling. So either the extra rice has helped or he is growing out of that stage somewhat. We are to return for another download in 2 weeks and will probably have Sara's done at the same time to see if she can kick the bucket. In the meantime, I'll use that time to start nursing Adam again a few times a day to see if it causes any reflux issues.

He also had a follow up appointment with his cardiologist today, Dr. Hassleman, to check on his SVT (rapid heart rate). Since being taken off the digoxin in the NICU he has not had any other episodes. The doctor thought he looked good. We need to listen to his heart from time to time with a stethoscope and count how fast he is breathing. If the SVT returns, he would show no symptoms. When we turn in the apnea monitor, we will call the cardiologist back and have him put on a heart monitor belt for 24 hours just as a final analysis to check for any strange heart rhythms.

And the doctor weighed him in at 8lbs! 21 inches long. A growth of 6 inches and 5lb 4oz since birth.

Happy 3 month birthday, kids!