Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nursery clean up

I looked around at the nursery the past few days and felt like it was really cluttered--stuff on the shelves that we didn't need any more, an extra end table that we used to put the heart monitors on, and a 2nd rocking chair for when both Shannon and I would have to be in there feeding the kids. Seems a little odd to clean house a little. Those middle of the night memories seem so long ago. And was Sara ever really less than 4lb at home?! That's still crazy to me. So many people still have the impression that the cardinal rule is for the baby to hit 5lb to be released from the NICU. Here I was lifting 3lb 11oz Sara over the crib with her monitor wires that constantly got caught. Boy I don't miss those at all. Now that we are down to a changing table, a book shelf, a dad-made wardrobe closet on wheels, 1 rocking chair, and 1 crib, the room seems quite spacious! The kids are almost 7 months old and they are still sharing a crib. We'll stick with that plan until they tell me otherwise. So far they love snuggling together and don't wake each other up, even with all of Adam's rolling. It never fails - I walk in there in the morning and he is upside down with his head at her feet, all snuggled up next to her body. I realized recently that is how they were positioned in my womb for most of my pregnancy. Makes me wonder if that is why he seems to squirm until he finds that "sweet spot" again.

I hear them talking to each other in there so it must be time to get up from their nap and enjoy a little lunch!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

New food for today

Pumpkin! Tis the season. I looked through my cabinet and found a can of pumpkin. Why not? It's 100% pumpkin with no additives. Mix it with a little breast milk and you can slap it in a jar and charge 20 times the price! They loved it with no hesitation. I took my aunt Robyn's suggestion and made balls with a cookie scoop and froze it on a cookie sheet to store in a ziploc bag. From my estimation, I got 9 jars of baby food ($.50 each) out of 1 can of pumpkin (less than $1.00). Now that's being budget smart!

So far they like squash, sweet potatoes, peaches, pears, and pumpkin!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

RSV season

The pediatrician’s office called on Friday and told me the NICU sent them a letter that indicated they wanted the twins to receive Synagis this winter. Synagis was approved by the FDA in 1998 to help prevent serious complications from RSV infection in high-risk babies. Most people have not heard of RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, even though about 67% of babies are infected with the virus, which causes a lung infection, before their first birthday and virtually all children will have been infected by their second birthday. Dr. Neese had previously told me he didn’t think the kids would need it because they were too healthy but has now changed his mind upon the advisement of the NICU and the amount of illness that is circulating. It still needs to be approved by the insurance company and we should hear back within a week or so. Approval is key as each shot costs approximately $2,400! A home health nurse will come to our house to weigh the babies and administer the proper dose of a shot once a month for the next 5 months.

For full-term babies, RSV typically is not any worse than a common cold, but for preemies, the virus can be quite different. Babies born earlier than 36 weeks are at the highest risk for serious complications like pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and other sometimes fatal complications. In addition, RSV is thought to play a major role in the development of childhood asthma. During RSV season up to 125,000 infants and young children will be admitted to the hospital as a result of RSV infection. Sadly, about 2% of these children may die from complications associated with it. Our babies were born premature (28 weeks of gestation, which is 12 weeks early), are multiples, and had low birth weights; these are among the highest risk factors for contracting RSV and developing serious complications.

Preventing the spread of RSV is very difficult. Thus, we must be vigilant about keeping our children safe during RSV season (October through April). The virus is spread through physical contact such as shaking hands with an infected person, in the air via a cough or sneeze, or by touching an infected object. The virus can live as long as 6 hours on hands and up to 12 hours on surfaces such as doorknobs, telephones, faucet handles, counters, used tissues, or burp cloths, and it spreads very easily.

You may ask, “Can’t they fight it off and build up their immune system? Kids need to get sick, right?” The simple answer is NO. Since our babies were pre-term, they did not acquire the necessary immunities to fight off infection. If they contract RSV, they could be hospitalized.

We’ll be asking our visitors to follow a few guidelines to help prevent the babies from contracting RSV or any other illness. We ask that all visitors do the following:

  1. Please refrain from coming over if you are currently sick and have not been symptom-free for at least 5 days, if you live with someone who is sick, or have been in close contact with someone who is sick.
  2. When you arrive, please wash your hands with warm water and soap, and use hand-sanitizer as needed before touching the babies.
  3. Please, if it is possible, get a flu shot.
    If you smoke, we ask that you change your clothing and do not smoke prior to visiting, as a preemie’s lungs are very sensitive to smoke. Most RSV sites recommend against passive smoke exposure.
  4. If you are parents to a baby or toddler, please refrain from bringing them to our house during RSV season.

Unfortunately we will not be attending many events during RSV season. Our goal is to make it through this and the next RSV seasons without the twins contracting RSV or any other serious illness. Their lungs are still very fragile until they are 2-years-old. This website offers a great visual comparison of a preemie’s lungs compared to the lungs of a full-term baby: http://www.preemiecare.org/LungsTrees03-4.pdf

Thanks for your help in continuing to keep our Wonder Twins healthy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mmmmmm...pie!

This video speaks for itself. All I can say is 'That's my boy!'


Adam's rolling

Video of Adam doing his favorite thing right now...



Even after bath time...he can't help it - it's so much fun!



And in the middle of the night - keep in mind the room was pitch black when I took this picture. Notice his legs through the crib slats. I could get a bumper pad but he would lift his legs over it. I could put them in separate cribs but that won't solve my problem and he doesn't wake Sara up!


What a nice day for a walk

Wednesday seemed like it could be one of the last nice days of the fall so why not celebrate with a walk? The kids didn't seem too thrilled and they were actually awake the whole time. I think Adam was a little frustrated I made him put on a jacket but short sleeves was a little too chilly and I knew he would kick a blanket off. I hope they enjoy the colors of fall as much as I do when they get older!

Back from our trip and settled in

Took me a few days to get situated after returning home from being gone a week! We were all excited to be together as a family again and enjoy our own beds. The kids did great on the trip 98% of the time! They napped the whole way in the car. We stayed in a fantastic hotel. They went for their first bus ride with Aunt Robyn as they caught the free shuttle to the Mall of America. Fortunately, they were a piece of cake during shopping so everyone enjoyed their day. Of course the kids had to get a little something - cute new stocking hats and soft little toys that krinkle - a pink bunny for Sara and a yellow duck for Adam. My cousin Emily and I enjoyed some time away during the Women of Faith conference and bought our discounted tickets for next year at Milwaukee. Saturday night was a trip, literally, as we were wandering around driving and trying to decide where to eat. They wanted to find this Italian place they had eaten at before but weren't sure where it was. After more than an hour, we arrived, only to hear Emily say the GPS reported we had driven 8 miles! Figures for a van-ful of women! Sunday morning we stopped at Yum! Bakery to buy some fantastic goodies. Seriously some of the best baked goods I've had in my life. And if you know me, you know I have sampled quite my share! Monday was a quiet day back in Lake Geneva. Tuesday we got packed up after a crying fit (due to a much needed nap) and I had to unload Sara from her car seat twice because she kept pooping! We attended my cousin Sheryl's mother's visitation/funeral and then headed home. The kids were very well behaved until right in the middle of the woman pastor reading scripture in quite the monotone - Adam yawned the loudest, most dramatic yawn I've ever heard come out of him! Apparently that is what he thought. Emily and I tried to hide our laughter. What can you do when you have kids?

So what can happen in a week?

Sara is her usual, chatty self - smiles and giggles and loves interacting with you. What a messy eater she is as she has now tried squash, sweet potatoes, and peaches. She likes them all but definitely LOVES peaches and says 'Mmmm' after every bite. It is a competition with her thumb to get the spoon in her mouth. She is growing stronger with sitting up and trying to stand at times. Usually it is on her terms and when she feels like it, though. The past few days she is trying to roll and makes it half way. She has reached the next developmental step Adam's physical therapist told us to watch for - reaching for things over/above her while laying on her back.

Adam continues to be a strong little boy. He mastered rolling onto his tummy while we were gone and shows off his talent at every chance he gets. If he is wide awake, he is pleased with himself and cranes his neck up like a turtle to play. But if he is sleeping, it just makes him frustrated. He hasn't figured out yet how to get himself out of the situation he put himself in. And I haven't figured out how to position him so he doesn't roll in the middle of the night and wake himself up. This morning we were up from 3:30-5.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Road trip

We are taking our gig on the road. I packed up the kids and half the house to travel to Wisconsin yesterday. Staying with my aunt Robyn for a few days and then Robyn and my cousin Emily are headed to Minneapolis for the weekend for the Women of Faith Conference. Robyn is tagging along as the Super Nanny!

Sara did seem a little disoriented after waking from her nap yesterday afternoon and realizing 'I don't think we're in Illinois any more, mom!'

Dinner was a bit of a challenge trying to feed them both in their Bumbo chairs. They kept leaning to one side, sticking their bib in their mouth. What a mess! But they both tried squash for the first time and that was a huge success! No hesitation from either of them.

Apparently the first day of a road trip is exhausting. Adam had jammies on and was asleep at 7. Sara by 7:30. A full hour earlier than usual. How did that go you ask? Fine except when Adam woke at 1:30. I nursed him for 10 minutes and he fell back asleep. Perfect. Until I laid him back in the Pack n Play and his eyes popped open and he said "Ooooohhh!" Crap! I spent the next hour plus holding him, rocking him, watching him look at things in the room, and listening to him talk to me. Finally he fell asleep at 3. Laid him back in the Pack n Play and he flailed around and his eyes popped open. I think some of it may have been that he isn't used to cramped quarters. He usually gets a full crip to turn upside down and get positioned next to Sara. So I laid him in the bed next to me and surrounded us with pillows.

Wonder what tonight will bring!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy dance!

For the first time in 2 1/2 weeks, Adam slept thru the night! That definitely warrants a happy dance! So it may be a one time deal because he was still sleepy from shots...at least it was 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep for me! He was up at 5:45 with a very empty belly--I could hear the milk hit the bottom of his tummy as I nursed him. Sara was stirring so I fed her, too, on my quest to get them back on a schedule over the next month. Adam was still sucking on his thumb hard and breathing heavy. I thought he might like some added breakfast since he had skipped a meal in the middle of the night. Happy dance again! 2t of oatmeal and a spoonful of peaches...that sounds like it could be a song! He seemed a little uncertain when I would give him a bite of the peaches by itself. I got a look like 'mom, am I really supposed to eat this?' I would smile at him, shake my head, and say 'yum!' All went well until the hiccups brought a little up. Once his tummy calmed down, he fell back asleep and I laid him snuggled next to Sara. They are still napping while I am enjoying breakfast.

Hopefully the rain will stay away and Shannon and I can get outside to do the work needed in the flower bed. Seems a little odd with frost on the ground right now!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Great day for a nap!

I thought I would post a couple pictures from the kids' great nap day after their shots. Adam is definitely the squirmer. Every morning I wake up I find him turned so his head is snuggled against Sara's tummy. Maybe I should just lay him that way to begin with and see if he sleeps through the night!








Thursday, October 8, 2009

6 month pediatrician update

The kids visited Dr. Neese today and, as always, we got a great report.

Adam -- 13lb 9oz, 25 1/4" long, 43cm head circumference
Sara -- 12lb 7oz, 24" long, 40cm head circumference

That's a 1lb 9oz/1.75" gain for Adam! No wonder he's hungry all the time. And a 15oz/1" gain for Sara. Adam's head size showed quite an increase on the curve this time so we discussed whether a head ultrasound would be necessary to see if there is anything going on. While this age would be a good timeframe to schedule one, Dr. Neese is not concerned because he had the same jump with his length and typically you look for head size growth to match height growth.

Compared to other babies his age, Adam is in the 1% for weight and 10% for length. Sara is 2% for weight and 4% for length. Gestationally corrected, Adam is in the 25% for weight and 50-75% for length. Sara is 25% for weight and 50% for length. Interesting to me that when they were born, Sara was 1" longer and now Adam is 1.25" longer.

He thinks they look 4-5 months developmentally and is very pleased with their progress.

We discussed food options and he suggested trying to switch them to oatmeal rather than rice because rice can make them constipated. This was certainly backed up by Sara great efforts ast night to poop - her face turned beat red whenever she would push and I thought she was going to pop a blood vessel! Since Adam has been on cereal for a few weeks he can start getting fruits and vegetables and maybe doing 2 meals a day instead of just 1. I talked to him about Adam being up in the middle of the night and he just said he's hungry because he's growing so much right now.

They received their 4 month shots today (3 shots in the thigh and 1 oral medication) and will go back for their 6 month shots in December. Adam cried but got over it quickly. Sara screamed and was not happy at all. More meat on her thighs doesn't help the pain! He suggested they do not need the H1N1 vaccination because of the other immunizations they are receiving. Shannon and I can consider it but we should get a flu shot for sure.

I did ask his opinion regarding keeping them inside more during winter months to protect them from illness since they were preemie. His opinion was the cold weather should not be an issue for them since they aren't newborn. But we should steer clear of some things during the cold & flu season. Church is about the worst place we can be and if there are large family gatherings for the holidays, we should just visit for a few hours rather than stay 3-4 days and definitely don't host a gathering at our house. Shannon and I will have to discuss Dr. Neese's thoughts and decide how we want to apply that to our schedule.

The kids are snoring in their car seats, still in their PJ's, and enjoying the Tylenol they already received before heading home. I snuck in lunch. Rainy day - good nap day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All about Sara

When I was rocking Adam back to sleep at 3:45 this morning (it's never good when he looks at you in the middle of the night with eyes wide open and starts talking to you..."ooohhh") I realized that a lot of the blog lately has been about Adam. Adam standing. Adam eating rice cereal. Adam's physical therapy. Adam kicking Sara in the crib. Adam not sleeping through the night. Adam rolling over.

What about Sara?

So this post will be all about Sara. It's like when I was in college and my mom thought nothing was going well. That's because I only called home when something major happened and something major usually meant something bad about my day. So with Sara, there hasn't been anything major - bad or good. Just plugging along one day at a time. But when I think about it, a lot of little things add up, too. It's just that I see the kids every day so I have to pause to celebrate when it's small steps.

First of all, I love that Sara's hair is getting longer. There was a while there that she was at that bald state and had Shannon's hairline. It's not as dark or as thick as when she was born but it's very soft and fluffy.

At this point, it appears that Sara's eyes will be staying blue. We find it interesting that we might have a boy that looks like Shannon but has my eye color and a girl that looks like me but has Shannon's eye color. And not really Shannon's color so far, either. His are more blue/green that can change color depending on his shirt. Sara's are bright blue, very vibrant when she looks at you and they sparkle. If her hair stays sandy brown like it is, that will be very unique.

Sara has been talking up a storm lately. And giggling! She loves to look at you and talk to you. Her eyes light up, her little lips curl into a big smile, she puts her hands together, and just talks and talks. Even looking in the mirror she can amuse herself for quite some time.

She finally decided a few days ago that she would like rice cereal. And not just a little - she usually takes between 11 and 14 teaspoons mixed with breast milk for dinner. Keep in mind that is after I have nursed her! Her mouth pops open like a little bird when she is ready for a bite. The trick with her is that from time to time, she wants to stop and suck her thumb. So I wipe her mouth a little so it doesn't get smeared all over and then let her suck away. When the thumb comes out, she's ready for another bite! Pretty good communicator.

We have recently seen Sara lean to sit up more rather than be slightly reclined in her high chair. She also helps when pulling to sit up and has started putting weight on her legs. Can't be a lumpling forever!

Let's see...what else is awesome about Sara? Oh yes - she is still sleeping through the night! She's usually asleep between 8-9pm and wakes between 6-7am.

That's my girl!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Adam rolls over

Sara got up early this morning and had breakfast with me while Adam took a little cat nap. He needed it since he got up twice in the middle of the night! So as Sara was winding down, I heard Adam start to make noises. Walking in the nursery to check on him, he had rolled over from his back to his tummy and had a big grin on his face!

Ready to start the day now, I got him dressed and decided since he was so full of energy, I would put him on his playmat for some tummy time. I laid him down and put his arms under him. When I let go, he flopped his arms down, stretched one arm straight above his head and rolled over from his tummy to his back. Just like that. No effort. Just decided today would be the day. What a big boy!


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Crazy night

Who says twins are exactly alike?

8:00pm -- Sara heads to bed. Adam naps in the swing.
9:30pm -- Too many middle of the night feedings...I head to bed. Adam wakes up for a bottle.
10:30pm -- Adam heads to bed.
2:30am -- Adam has a middle of the night meal. Sara sleeps through.
5:30am -- Adam has early morning breakfast. Sara sleeps through.
7:15am -- Adam is chatty in his crib so Shannon gets him up to enjoy breakfast. I sleep in. Sara agrees.
8:30am -- Adam goes down for a nap. Sara? Still not up.
9:30am -- Both are starting to stir.



This was the scene at 7:15 this morning when Shannon went in. Adam was talking to her 'Sara get up and play with me!' Sara kept trying to tell him she was still sleeping. That was evident because once the wrestling match was broken up, she went right back to sleep.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Happy birthday dad

One day late as far as the blog goes but we all wished Shannon Happy Birthday yesterday. Birthday kisses all around - although mine are a little more on target than Adam and Sara's. It is so much fun to see the kids enamored by Shannon. They know his voice and love to hear him talk about his day. When they see his face, theirs lights up into a big smile. I always thought he would be a good dad but he has certainly far exceeded my imagination! Always willing to jump in and match any duty I have tackled...well except nursing, of course. Sara tried a long time ago but it just left her frustrated. And I don't think he has tried trimming fingernails yet. But easy things like laundry, snuggles, feeding them bottles, and rocking them to sleep. Harder things like waking for middle of the night feedings, getting them dressed, comforting them when they cry, cleaning spit up, and giving them a bath. Challenging things like gross poopy diapers and feeding them rice cereal. He handles them in a unique way different than me but without him, our partnership wouldn't be complete, and our kids wouldn't be thriving as much as they are.

So Adam and Sara Mak say you're awesome dad...and I think you are pretty great, too!

Happy 1 year of life!

October 2.
6 months old.
26 weeks and 1 day.
14 weeks and 1 day according to the doctors.
1 year since their first day of life according to us.

We haven't talked about it outwardly on the blog yet, just hinted at it, but the kids are IVF babies. In-vitro fertilization. And 1 year ago was when the doctor placed Shannon's sperm inside some of my eggs and stored them in a dish. Now some may argue that isn't really life. True, it isn't a set of lungs breathing in and out or a heart pumping blood through a body. But when you get a picture of what started as just an egg and a day later it is multiplying into cells, you know something is going on. As far as we are concerned, that is life. And to know that is how the kids started, then entered this world 12 weeks early with no fat and paper-thin skin, and are smiling and developing today...well, the whole thing is humbling. What an awesome journey. We will share more on another day but for today, I just wanted to celebrate the day. And to say thanks, God, for making our long-time dream come true...x2!