Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas 2007

I thought last Christmas was chaotic, but the boys were just lumps, content to be where you put them, that was last year. This year brought chaos to a whole new level.
Learning from last year, we decided to spilt our Christmas. We actually celebrated 3 Christmases. We had Christmas and a Birthday celebration with my Mom, and the following weekend we had Christmas with Scott's Mom Carol, and Husband George.
We then made the trek to Sacramento, once there, we celebrated Todd's Birthday, as usual on Christmas Eve, followed by the "grown up" Christmas. There were fourteen of us and a mountain of presents. Thank goodness we started drawing names amongst us kids last year otherwise the mountain could have been Everest like in proportion. As it was, we started opening around 9:30 and it was well after midnight before we were finished and tucked into bed, with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads. It was nice and relaxing, and we were all very happy with our wonderful gifts.

We had a fantastic Christmas present from our boys, they slept in and we actually had to wake them up in order to have them fed and ready to go before our Miss Madison made her grand appearance. Maddie is a year older than the boys and really understands the whole Christmas thing. Before bed, she left out cookies and milk for Santa and really seemed to listen to her Auntie Mary when she explained that little girls HAD to go to bed on Christmas Eve early because if they were awake when Santa flew over, he wouldn't stop.

Madison, with wide eyes, gingerly made her way into the living room to see what Santa had left for her under the tree. I think I heard a squeal of glee as she saw her Dora ball house. She immediately climbed in, with the boys close at her heels. Ryan and Evan were not as excited by the ball house, but what with what was in the house...BALLS!!! 200 of them!!!! We were then able to move on to other things, at a slow and kid driven pace. We offered presents to be opened, we gave them time to play with things they were really interested in, (ball house) and we did not have the stress of 1000's of gifts yet to be opened and us butting up against dinner.

I'm not kidding on this we've had Christmas Mornings that have lasted WELL into the afternoon, with short breaks for pop tarts and cookies to get us through to breakfast.

I think one of the funniest things was Madison's desire to put all of her opened gifts into her ball house, including this kid sized, musical Dora chair.

The boys enjoyed opening their presents, and I think they understood when we told them this or that gift was for them, but a lot is lost on kids this little. The certainly had fun, but I CAN'T WAIT until next year.

I think we were all patting ourselves on the back feeling pretty good about how well Christmas went. With fourteen adults and three babies under three it could have been a disaster of EPIC proportions, but in all it was just a lovely day!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Many Faces of Poop

WARNING**** if you are at all squeamish about body functions, or bananas*, (Eric) stop reading, and wait until I get around to a post less offensive to you.

In the lives of new parents, poop is a major source of conversation and consternation. I can't tell you the number of times Scott has opened a conversation with me with "Has Ryan/Evan pooped today?" (oh--some say the romance dies once you have kids, how wrong they are!) We are consumed with the bowel movements of our kids. I think most parents are concerned with the regularity of their children, it's just something that happens. A kid can get constipated and not poop for a couple of days, a kid could be sick and have diarrhea, a kid could swallow something foreign and you are waiting for it to pass...all really good reasons to be concerned with the poop.

Poop is not a fun thing to deal with even on a good day. Seriously, who REALLY wants to clean smelly, sticky, sometimes a little older and crustier than you'd like, poop off someone elses butt? Only because it is your beloved child, and because the thought of potty training is FAR FAR worse, do you muster the ability to change poop filled diapers, day after day, sometimes hour after hour, and even worse, some days minute after minute.

On the other hand, when those butts are not smeared in poop, they are really the cutest things in the world.

Last year, I had the worst of the worst poop situations. All the males in this house caught that NASTY stomach virus that was going around. Scott was laid out on the couch, throwing up for 72 hours straight, and had I not had two babies with the most disgusting diarrhea emerging from their cute little bottoms, I would have taken him to the hospital. I don't mean a little diarrhea, it was never ending. I keep diapers and wipes in a basket in a corner of the room, during this week of poop up to my earlobes, I had diapers and wipe in two sides of the room (it's really not that big). I was honestly changing a diaper every 5 or 10 minutes. I had the boys double bagged, and I was still changing their clothes at least three times a day. It was messy and smelly and it got EVERYWHERE. These dirty diapers never even made it into the diaper pail. I wrapped each package in a recycled grocery bag (or two), and then put it into a double bagged garbage sack on my front porch. This was the worst of all poop far.

This week did run a close second. We had a little stomach bug go around. It started with Evan a couple of weeks ago. I refused to believe it was a bug. You know, it could be teeth, anything, he's acting like he is feeling fine, and really he's only had 2 or 3 diarrhea diapers, that's not sick, at least not the way I know sick. Well then Scott got it. (I kind of implied that it might all be in his head, and that he was not sick, so could you please get off the couch and help me with this Christmas wrapping. OKAY I said it out loud, and I think I left out the 'please'.)

I finally gave in and decided it MIGHT be a bug when Ryan woke up at 5:00 screaming and crying, and when I got to him I smelled one of the more foul smells ever. Then I picked him up and felt something wet and a little chunky. Thankfully Scott was sleeping on the couch (not because he refused to help with the wrapping, but because of Evan, and that is a whole different topic) and I whimpered, I need help! We sprang into action, turned on the light to see what were dealing with, and it wasn't pretty. Yep, poop everywhere. He had pooped through the two diapers (we do that at night now after a week of peeing through a single diaper at night) and through his thick jammies. ARGH. YUCK. (oh, yes and it was now on MY HANDS) Somehow we got him out of his clothes and diapers, with out getting too much poop on the living room floor and into the kitchen sink to wash off the poor boy's behind, stomach and legs. (Now I started to draw a traditional bath, and then decided that the sink was quicker, neater and would require less area to scrub with bleach.) I then changed the sheets, washed everything in HOT water, twice, wiped down the mattress, and oh yes, scrubbed my arms and hands like I was preparing for surgery. I still kind of felt like maybe he wasn't sick, (I know-- the ultimate in denial.) until it happened again the VERY NEXT MORNING. I should mention that there were no other incidents throughout the day, and his disposition was for the most part normal, so being in denial was not without good cause. The second morning, sealed it for me, actually, it was that very afternoon, when I was having my lunch and MY stomach started doing back flips when I actually decided that we all must have had some sort of bug!

On the upside, we now know why Ryan was on a hunger strike! and Evan is eating much better since he got rid of that bug!

(*FYI--Bananas have no relevance in this story except that they are another thing that Eric finds disgusting)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Medical Update

Both boys were dianosed with bilateral hydronephrosis in utero, the big concern is that it may cause reflux of the urine into the kidneys. They were watched closely in the NICU, and since we have been home from the hospital.

By watching closely, I mean, they have both been on low doses of antibiotics to keep them from getting any urinary tract infections and yearly we have had to go to Children's Hospital for a test called a VCUG (Voiding Cystourethrogram). They catheterize the boys, let them empty their bladders, and then shoot dye into their bladders, they then watch, and take x-rays of them voiding the contrast to see if the fluid backs up into the kidneys. If you've ever had your child catheterized, you know it is not fun. It wasn't fun when they were itty bitty boys in the NICU, and it isn't fun now that they are 26 and 22 pounds of fighting fury!

Last year's test gave us really good news. Ryan's grade V ( of V) kidney reflux had gone away! Okay, I have to admit we were EXTREMELY skeptical, but we went along with it, we took him off his prophylactic dose of antibiotics, and kept our fingers crossed. Generally grade V Vesicoureteral Reflux requires surgery to fix, so we were shocked that he could have out grown it, but we really wanted to be optimistic. In the last year, he's been off the antibiotics, and he's had no UTI's! YEA! Evan's test still showed Reflux, (grade III) but Evan hasn't grown as much as Ryan so we were still hopeful that he could grow out of it. Evan stayed on meds.

Well, this year we took our babies with a sudden and SEVERE case of white coat disease, (and scrub disease) to get their annual VCUG's. The crying started as soon as the nurse came to take histories and for Evan, didn't stop until he was asleep in the car on the way home. It seemed to take an eternity for his procedure to be completed. As Ryan and I paced the hallway, Scott struggled to hold Evan pinned to the table, while Evan screeched and screamed in his ears. In an effort not to scare the other kids in the waiting room, (5 or 6 walls away) they tried in vain to dampen the screams coming from X-ray 4, by closing a bunch of doors that they usually leave open. Even when Ryan and I were in the X-ray room, I could still hear Evan alternating whimpering and shrieking.

Ryan did really well, the hardest part is always getting the cath in, after that it's uncomfortable when the dye goes in, and when they turn him but after the initial fear, and pain wear off, it's not that bad. (easy for me to say) Anyway, in between singing Levon (which is our current favorite song) and whispering gentle loving words, I would glance over my shoulder and look at the monitor. It didn't take me long to see what I didn't want to see.

The Radiologist confirmed it. Ryan's reflux is still there, grade IV at least. How he remained without any UTI's this year, I'll never know. I guess it is possible that he had some infections and we never knew about it. Evan's news is much better his reflux is downgraded to grade I. I have confidence that he will outgrow it given time. We see the Urologist in January, I suspect Ryan will be back on antibiotics, and we'll be back at Children's next December for another round of VCUGs. I hear we can be sedated if our Doctor orders it, oh, and the boys can be too.

Happy New Year, of sorts.

As long as I can remember my Mom's food specialty has been enchiladas. I know we are Japanese, but her enchiladas are famous. Every New Year's Eve we would go to my cousins' house and ring in the New Year. At midnight, after singing Auld Lang Syne, in English and Japanese, we would have a meal of my Mom's enchiladas and Spanish rice. There are many "good luck" foods in Japanese culture, things you eat on New Year's Day, to ensure good health and prosperity for the new year, however nothing says good luck to me like my Mom's enchiladas.

Last year we started a tradition of celebrating my Mom's Birthday and Christmas the same weekend. My Mom won't go with us to Sacramento to celebrate Christmas, although she is wanted and invited there, she keeps telling me that she is a homebody. Anyway, it's fun, we get to have a special weekend where she gets to spend time with the boys. This year Scott requested enchiladas for "Christmas" dinner.

We were all at the table enjoying our dinner, when Ryan became rather insistent, shall I say increasingly more vocal, reaching decibel levels rivaling an 80's hair band concert. Scott and I looked at each other, shrugged, and then Scott handed over a piece of meat from his enchiladas, Ryan promptly picked it up, um-- gobbled it up, and calmly requested more. This went on for some time, and then Ryan realized there was something he was not getting to eat. Spanish Rice! How dare we not offer him some! Scott gave him a fork full, he chewed, smiled and opened his mouth and shouted, ahhhhhh----! I guess he wanted more. In all, Ryan had about 10 pieces of steak, and maybe a half a cup of Spanish rice.

Why is this blog worthy? Well, two reasons--
1) he had already eaten his 4 dino bites and 10 sweet potato fries.
2) he ONLY eats things that are crunchy.

Call it a breakthrough, call it a Christmas miracle, we were all very excited. Until Sunday, when he went on a hunger strike. If only he had the words, or signs, to tell me WHY he is on a hunger strike. I might be able to see about releasing political prisoners, stop global warming, or get the WGA at the table with management. But, no I am left guessing, and trying to no avail, every combination of formerly favorite foods at every meal in hopes that he will consume SOMETHING, ANYTHING!!!!

Ah yes, life with toddlers...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

It's the little things (14 of them)

So last week we went to the "Parent Connection Swap Meet" it's exactly what it sounds like. A bunch of "booths" with stuff other kids have grown out of, tired of, etc. We found some great things! A teeter-totter thing, (it's still in the back of my car) some really thick fleece one piece outfits, (in case we go to the snow over the holidays) but the deal of all deals, the thing that I AM STILL GIDDY about, (one week later!!!) I found Pampers -- in our size -- for $.14 a piece. 500 of them!!!! (Actually 490 but who's counting) Now, on sale with a coupon, my best price here in town is something like $.23, I usually have to pay $.26 -- so $.14, $.14, .$14!!!!!! Now to those of you without kids, or without twins this may not seem like a big deal, but do the math. We change our diapers a minimum of 6 times a day. times 2. times 365. times .$26 that's like $1150 before tax (rounded up for the days when we change a wet diaper only to find poop in a clean diaper 30 seconds after getting pants back on a squirming baby, maybe I should round that up to $1500!) No matter how you look at it, it was the best deal in town, if she only had more...after all, that is only about a month's supply. .$14!!!!! I'm still smiling.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


I was going to complain today about what a terrible day we had, and it was bad. We had Thermo-nuclear meltdown at the Ophthalmologist today. Both boys were screaming like she was trying to poke their eyes out with a fireplace poker. Evan threw up all over himself, his stroller, and 2 trashcans in the office. I was embarrassed. I was shocked, my boys have never reacted so strongly before. Okay, we had shots yesterday and that was a traumatic event too, so maybe it was some carry over, at least that's what the Doctor suggested, in fact she asked me never to do that to her again!

As I was composing this post in my mind (while fixing the boys dinner) I started reflecting on my visit to the Doctor's office and the people I met there. Suddenly this post went in a whole new direction. I got a perspective check today, a reminder to be thankful even glad that these boys can make me so aggravated, anxious, frustrated, exhausted, and as I listen to them sing in the other room with their Daddy--Happy.

While I was chasing a half naked Evan, and a howling Ryan around the waiting room, (not my idea, I usually keep them in the stroller, but after our first attempt at doing the eye exam, they were already loose and there was no getting them back in!) I struck up a conversation around the fish tank with a woman with a toddler and 6 month old preemie boy, boy twins. They were born a 25 weeks! at UCSD, we shared a primary, (Cindy) we chatted about the things that moms of twins and preemies chat about, Synagis, how hard it is the first few months, who came home first, medical issues, procedures, etc. Another mom then said, He was born at 29 weeks, and his sister is still in the hospital...again, we exchanged the Preemie/Twin small talk. I should add, that our eye doctor sees all of her ROP (Retinopathy of Prematurity) patients on the same days so it is not uncommon for all of these moms with preemies to be in the office at the same time. This many twins, I've never seen before. This mom's twin girl was still in the hospital and I think she said it had been a month since her son came home. Her daughter had a tracheotomy and would come home with it. These conversations made me realize no matter how tough our road was, (and don't get me wrong it was VERY tough) it could have been tougher.

Before the chaos had begun, while the boys were just waiting to be dilated, a nice woman and her daughter started to talk to me. Now usually when strangers approach, I get out my hand swatter and start trying to figure out how to politely ask them to keep their germ filled hands off my preemies. But she didn't even try to touch them. She asked how old they were, if they were fraternal or identical (duh) but as a mom of twins, I get that all the time. Then she said "I had twins" Something in her voice caught my attention and I looked up at her as she said, "but they didn't make it" I've seen that look before, NICU mom's who have just lost their baby, a mom with only one surviving twin, a sadness that cannot be described. A sadness that makes me feel guilty for ever feeling overwhelmed with my life with twins. A sadness that makes me feel guilty for wishing it was easier. A sadness that makes me realize just how lucky we are. Just writing about it gives me an ache in my heart so powerful it brings me to tears. The woman was so kind, she told me about her boy, boy twins, born at 23 weeks, 15 years ago. She went into labor at 22 weeks, was given steroids but at that time, at 23 weeks, there was no hope for her boys. She told me how happy she was to now have 2 children, a girl born at 32 weeks and a boy at 35 weeks. She told me how she had her two children, just not the way I have two children. Even as she told me how happy she was, I could still glimpse the ache she felt for those two precious babies, born too soon.

No matter how tough our could have been so much tougher.

It's all about perspective.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Feeding Frenzy (Sorry long rambling post!)

Eating and food have always been hot topics around here. I love to eat. I can out eat everyone except that hot dog guy. I've had to seriously control my "habit" now that I'm no longer pumping, or working out for 2 hours a day. I love texture in food, I love HOT food, I love foods with robust flavors, I love EATING. I like to savor food, to really taste food, I LOVE EATING. To have babies with eating issues is just a cruel joke of the universe.

Because the boys were born prematurely, their digestive (and all other) systems were immature. Because of this, when the boys were finally started on breast milk, it was 1cc at a time, every three hours. If you can imagine 1cc, it's like 5 drops. But this was a lot for those little guys, after all they only weighed 955 grams at birth, their tummies were like the size of a pea. Before the next feed, the nurses would check for residuals, and if there were any, it was bad. It meant they were not digesting the milk-- sometimes we'd hold the next feed and sometimes, depending on how much there was, what position they were in (babies digest better on their stomachs), etc. we'd go ahead with the next feed and see what happened 3 hours later.

Eventually the boys got up to full feeds, but they both suffered/suffer from reflux. It was pretty severe, not as bad as some preemies, but enough to make them stop breathing, turn blue and scare the devil out of us. They both went on meds (eventually) and everything was under control. Well, at least they could eat and breathe and burp at the same time.

Ryan grew out of it pretty quickly after coming home and got off the Prevacid. Evan on the other hand has been a constant source of worry and hair pulling. He's been on increasing doses of Prevacid since his release, and some days it seems like he is cured, and others he throws up entire bottles, or meals. We've even had some really good weeks, weeeks where we've been convinced he's cured and it's time to stop or wean the Prevacid. And then we go off the meds and he spends the next few days throwing up until I give in and start the meds up again.

All of this throwing up has led to some aversion to eating...okay, that's putting it mildly. Evan won't swallow anything with texture. I mean really he won't swallow anything. He seems to want food, he tries everything I give to Ryan, he'll touch it to his tongue, take a small bite and hold it in his mouth until he can't stand it anymore, and he just spits it and the small ocean of saliva out of his mouth. Then he repeats. It hasn't always been this bad. We've been going to Occupational Therapy for maybe 6 months now and we had gotten to the point where Evie would chew and swallow a few Cheerios. Then about three months ago something changed. We tried putting little bits of crunchy food onto his baby food he choked, gagged, threw up and I think this was the point of no return. Since then, no swallowing of anything with any texture. and on top of it we went of vacation, got sick and our OT went on vacation too. I think it was about a month between appointments, so we had no ability to talk about it, work a new plan, or whatever.

It's incredibly frustrating. We struggle with getting weight on Evan, and he won't eat anything except baby food, mixed with yogurt, with a tablespoon of homemade yam and butter puree. (we've just added the puree to thicken his food and eventually the plan is to make it thicker and thicker until we have chunks) Baby food isn't all that nutritious, and it isn't fattening. I've tried adding butter (for fattening) we've tried graham crackers (for thickening) and we've tried straight pureed yams, all lead to vomiting.

There are a couple of things that are concerning-- it seems his reflux isn't getting better, and it's possible that his vomiting may becoming behavioral..and that opens up a whole new can of worms, worthy of its own post.

I have no idea where this post was supposed to go, except that I thought I would wax poetic about my newest food finds. Candy cane Joe Joe's. Okay, I read about these in another blog, and in the Trader Joe's flyer. I ran to TJ's the other day, for Yogurt, and there was a big display of these Joe Joe things. Oh what the heck, I'll try them. If you have never tried them, stop reading this and go get some. Think Oreo cookies with crushed candy canes in the cream filling. Yum! I'd be having them with hot cocoa right now, except it was 80 degrees here today. Yum, Yum, Yum.

While I was at Trader Joe's I was also looking for food that Ryan could eat. Ryan's eating issues are that he will only eat foods that are crunchy. (The exceptions being, scrambled eggs, yogurt, fried rice, and for a while, orzo pasta) If you've ever tried to get a balance diet into a toddler, you know how tough it can be, add in the nothing but crunchy aspect and have fun. We eat freeze dried fruit, sweet potato fries and dino bites (chicken nuggets). I can sometimes throw in a quesadilla, or grilled cheese sandwich, and a waffle or toast for breakfast. Veggies, how do you make crunchy veggies? I've tried battering them and frying them (gasp) he ate the peas and green beans for a while and then decided to just eat the batter off of them. I've tried barely cooking them, so the carrots are still crunchy, I've even tried raw (very closely supervised), no luck. well, keep your fingers crossed, I think I may have found something. Actually two somethings. TJ's sells these fried (gasp) green beans! Sounds gross? They are delicious!!!!!!! and Ryan likes them! Actually, Evan enjoys biting pieces off and spitting them out too! I also found these wonderful baked (yea!!) sweet snap peas! These things are addicting, they are in fact TOO good. They remind me of Cheetos. (I've had these recently because we were trying them with Evan--Don't ask, another OT thing) They are SO yummy, that tomorrow I need to swing by Trader Joe's and get more. (shrug--I told you I like eating!)

So turn off the computer, and go get some Joe Joe's, fried green beans, and baked peas. Think of me as you get on the scale next time!

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We spent the weekend frantically running around preparing for Christmas. We spent Saturday morning Christmas shopping, brought the boys home for naps, and Scott went out for a tree. He was back in record time, but Ryan woke up early, and we had yet to get the tree in the house. Oh well, we brought it in and put it up and Ryan pretty much stayed out of the way. I'm pretty sure he was shocked that we had a GIANT tree in our house. We decorated the tree after the boys went to bed in preparation for the big photo shoot on Sunday. The plan was, naps and then while the boys were still happy, get the money shot. Scott and I set up the lights we had borrowed from my old boss, did test shots, and frantically wrapped all of the presents we had purchased on Saturday. The boys woke up as scheduled, we got them dressed in their new holiday finest, and we set them loose on the tree.

Getting two toddlers to sit, or stand in the same spot for a nano second is pretty near impossible, let alone while Mommy and Daddy try and take 1000 pictures. Here's a glimpse at the fun we had!

Any bets if we actually got a usable shot? You'll just have to wait to get our Holiday card in the mail to find out.

And by the way, if your present looks like it's been opened and re-wrapped, has.