Monday, April 28, 2008
My Ryan was 21 days old before I was able to hold him. TWENTY-ONE DAYS I sat and watched him breathe, or not as the case may be, watched him struggle for life. Watched him have surgery to close his PDA. Watched him puff up like the Stay Puff Marshmallow man after surgery. Watched him endure countless procedures, ventilators, and blood transfusions. Just watched him. Watched other moms hold, nurse, kangaroo care their babies.
For Twenty-one days I did everything I could to touch my babies with out causing them to stop breathing, I learned how to change their diapers, hold them down for blood draws, or procedures, anything to touch them and assure them I was there. For twenty-one days, they were just to unstable to hold.
We read in our Preemie book that babies sense of smell was very powerful, and they could certainly smell their Mothers. The book suggested wearing a washcloth next to your skin to let your scent penetrate the fabric, placing it in the incubator for the preemie to smell your presence. We did this. We also cut up some receiving blankets because our well intending nurses would clean out the boys isolettes and get sometimes get rid of the said washcloths.
It was torture. I wanted so desperately to hold and cuddle my children. But obviously, keeping them breathing was far more important than what I wanted.
We finally got our moment. Our Nurse Cindy was brave and decided that this was going to be the day. I don't think everyone in the NICU had her confidence that this was the right time to try.
As we made the transfer from the bed to my arms. Ryan had a major desaturation in his oxygen levels and the attempt was almost aborted.
On the left, is the Respiratory Therapist, and Nurse Cindy is on the right, what you can't see is the Attending Doctor, Evan's Nurse, the Fellow, the Resident all standing nearby, watching, waiting, hoping they did not have to jump in a rescue Ryan.
We made the transfer, and I carefully held Ryan. After he settled in, his O2 levels stabilized, and the "team" breathed a little easier too.
Ryan clung to my finger and sucked contentedly on his breathing tube for a half an hour. My joy in finally getting to hold this precious little thing was indescribable, and only dampened by poor Evan lying alone in his isolette. (Where he would stay for another two weeks)
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I'm sure this is payback because I was just telling someone the other day that Ryan and Evan almost never have fevers. I've got to remember to knock on wood more.
Poor little one, all he wanted to do today was cuddle and read books. Usually we are up and out of the house by 8:30 gone until naps and the day flies by. The thought of staying home all day gives me cold sweats. Those few rainy days this winter, almost had me lose my mind. But for some reason today, the time just flew by. And most of that time was spent cuddled on the couch with blankets and books. Go figure.
Evan was so sweet, he'd come read a book or two with us, then run off to play with something, come back cuddle, read, and he'd be off again. Just checking in, but he had lots of playing to do.
There is something extra sweet about a sick
We don't have the luxury of days spent on the couch very often, nor do the boys want to spend days sitting around all day, unless they are sick. So, even though I got nothing done today, spent all of nap time cleaning up from breakfast and lunch, emptying the dishwasher, showering and eating lunch myself. It was time well spent.
And, I'm sure tomorrow, it'll be all three of us cuddled on the couch, burning up with fever, because that's how it is with twins.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Fifteen years ago today, Scott and I were married. It's hard to believe that its been Fifteen years. (Except that its not even 8:30 and Scott is asleep on the couch.)
We met in college, my freshman year. My CRAZY roommate had a huge crush on his roommate. Of course this was like week one and how she could be so madly in love with this guy, well, I told you she was crazy. For the next four years Scott and I hung out in the same circles. We had a lot of the same friends, went to the same parties, those circles intersected a lot.
I'm not all that sure how it happened, but something changed my senior year. WE started hanging out together much more. We were both doing internships, and working, our focus was similar in that we were trying to prepare for life after college. We started being the first of our group at The Pub on Friday nights, so we started to get to know each other more and more. We would make plans for Monday Night Football, we started getting together to watch "ThirtySomething", movies, generally spending a lot of time together.
I finally had to ask Scott out. If I would have waited for him to make the first move, well, I'd still be waiting. We kept it a quiet from our circles for a while. I remember the first night we went public. It was "ThirtySomething" night, Scott and I sat and held hands. We later heard that there was a gathering on the porch, with questions flying in every direction. "When did that happen?" "Did you know?" "How did that happen?" It still makes me smile.
We were married, three years later. Thirteen years later, we had Ryan and Evan. Two years after that, we fall asleep on the couch at 8:30.
We were at the Wild Animal Park on Wednesday. We were supposed to meet our buddies Dylan and Tyler, but the were sick, (hope you are feeling better guys) so we went anyways. One of our favorite places is Condor Ridge. We hang out here for a while, play hide and seek, and just run in circles. Today, the boys regressed and spent a VERY long time on their hands and knees. They were laughing and just having a ball. I asked them what they were doing and Evan told me "Bay, Bay" (baby) I guess they feel like they are growing up too fast too!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I once loved entertaining, and I actually still do but it is considerably more difficult these days. There is nothing more fun than having a bunch of your friends over to eat, drink and be merry. Be it store bought or long slaved in a hot kitchen, good friends and good conversation are the key components. However post children good conversation consists of something more like this:
"So, what have you been up to?"
"Wow, how exciting, wha....Ryan, we don't eat trash"
"When did you...Evan, we don't stand on the slide"
"Does someone have poop in their pants?"
and good food, well, is usually eaten so fast that it's hard to tell the difference between good, and horse meat.
We had 55 adults and kids, plus 11 toddlers (not including our two) under 3 here today. I'm not sure what I was thinking except that there were a lot of people that a)hadn't seen the boys, EVER. or b) hadn't seen the boys in a long while and/or c) were our good friends. Those three things make for a large party.
I decided on a bubble theme so we had lots of bubble wands, plus we set up our sand table, water table and the swing set we got for the boys birthday. Oh, and we made sure all of our ride on outdoor toys were available. (cars, slides, airplanes) There were lots of other things, you know, food, cake, drinks, etc. The important thing is the boys had a BLAST, we got to see 65 of our closest friends and relatives, and we all survived!
I have to say that there were large chunks of time that I had NO IDEA where my kids were. With 55 adults around, I suppose that isn't a huge problem. If someone had started climbing our rocks, well, I'm sure there would have been an adult or two that stopped them, right? But because I had these lapses in parenting, I was able to have some nearly complete conversations. Wow how nice it was. Yes, I was distracted by the other 64 or so guests, making sure that the food stayed restocked, and occasionally grabbing one of the other 11 kids out of the grasp of danger, but really this was a great way to get some adult conversation. Now I know, a 5 to 1 ratio should be fine.
Many of our friends and relatives noted how well behaved all of the kids were. They seemed down right shocked that there were no fights or tantrums. I wasn't. We have great friends with great kids. The parents were all there to step in before anything got out of hand, even if I wasn't!
There was one moment when I realized I could only see Evan. I got a wee bit panicked. I shouted "Has anyone seen Ryan?" and I got a lot of No's. Then all of a sudden he toddled out from behind a table responding to my call. He had playdough in his hand, a grin on his face, and he greeted me with a big "HIIII!" Whew.
I was shocked (and very proud) at how independent the boys were. Evan has been having some issues with clingy-ness and so I thought he might be glued to one of us during the whole occasion, but NOOOO. These boys were happy as two pigs in mud. Running around the yard and house with no restrictions. I'd get drive-by hugs, or smiles, and then they were off again. Playing with this or that, talking to one of their admirers or just being. The only time they got a bit clingy, was at the very end of the night, which is to be expected. The distractions were fewer, they were beyond tired, and it had been a Long, Long day.
I didn't get pictures of all of our friends, I hope others who took pictures will pass them along, please (smile), but one of the most remarkable things about this group of kids is of the 13 toddlers, 7 had prolonged stays in the NICU with us, (okay none as long as us, but really, how many babies stayed as long as us?) and one more had a very short stay. It is a true testament to the parents of these kids (and the wonderful care we received in the NICU), most of whom were so terribly sick, that they are all thriving, energetic, bright lights in our lives. When you look at the statistics for preemies, and then you look at our children, all I can say is wow. I'm so proud to call all of you fellow alums of the NICU. As for the other 5 kids, well, you know, you're pretty special too.
Thanks to everyone who came out to help us celebrate.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Dr. J. I will never forget his name, or his face, or the words he spoke as he came into my room. "Your sons are gravely ill. In all my years in neonatology I've rarely seen babies this sick. You have to be prepared. You should discuss how far you want to take any lifesaving measures."
I don't know how long Scott and I held each other and sobbed, it felt like forever. Those achingly deep sobs that come from your soul. There had been only one other time in my life that I felt such sorrow, the night my father died. In many ways the sadness was the same, but in many others oh so different. How could it be that these precious babies could leave us before we even really got to know them? How could it be that these precious babies that we wanted, and tried so hard for, might not ever come home with us? How could this easy and glorious pregnancy have ended so abruptly and possibly so tragically?
I don't know how we pulled ourselves together, but we did. I remember saying, "I need to be with my babies NOW!" I remember thinking, "I have to be positive, I have to bring good,
healing positive energy to these babies, they NEED ME. I am their Mommy and I can help them. I can fix this."
I remember us making many, many trips from our room on the 7th floor, down to the NICU. I remember the feeling of complete helplessness. I remember trying desperately to memorize every thing about their faces. I remember telling each of them how special they were. How much we loved them. How much we needed them. How their Mommy and Daddy fought very hard to bring them into this world, and now, it was their turn, they HAD to fight to stay here with us. I remember leaving them and being so frightened that if I left, I might come back, and they might not be there. Every time I walked through those NICU doors, I held my breath. I'd peer around the corner to see if the boys were still there, and how many people were around their incubators.
Those first days were so, so emotionally, physically and psychologically draining. Scott and I never had THAT conversation. I think I asked him once, what are we going to do? (in that totally non-specific, I don't really want an answer kind of way) and his response was, we'll just cross that bridge if we have to.
I saw Dr. J, many, many more times in the months to come. He is a wonderful, kind doctor. As the boys got better, and closer to coming home with us, I'd see Dr. J, I'd smile, he's say something about how wonderful the boys were doing. I couldn't help look in his eyes and relive those few moments when he suggested that we consider losing hope.
It's a good thing that in our family, we don't give up with out a fight.
Monday, April 7, 2008
It's so hard to believe that you are now two. My babies, not babies, but BOYS. After writing the story of your birth I am a bit spent. My emotions a bit raw. But I do want to take the time to tell you how special you are.
I love your smile. You are so serious most of the time that when you look at me and grin, my heart melts. Usually you are being mischievous and you know by giving me that little smile, you can get away with almost anything.
I love your physicality. Your hugs are big and powerful. You wrap your arms around me and then pat. Oh, so cute. You've now learned to kiss without getting my whole face slobbery. I thought you'd never grow out of that puppy stage, now sometimes I miss the baby slobber.
I love that even though you are physical and big you are gentle. You know how to gently pet the dogs we encounter, or how to comfort your brother.
I love your kindness. You always share your food (your favorite and most important thing) with me, your father and especially your brother. Because I know how much you love your potatoes, it makes me so happy when you willingly give a handful to Evan, just because he asks.
I love your new dance. You stomp your feet around, run around in a circle and then throw yourself to the floor, giggling.
After worrying that you would never speak, it's so delightful to hear you talking all the time. Suddenly as if someone turned on a switch you are constantly talking. (some of it, I still have NO CLUE what you are saying, but I know you know)
I love the way you say NO. I'm sure in 6 months or so, my tune will change, but for now, it makes me laugh every time you say Nooooooo-ugh.
I love the way you cuddle Snoopy (fuh-fuh) and wrap up in blankets.
I love the way you cry out every night for (buh---, buh---) books. I love to cuddle as we read until you are ready to get into (beh) bed.
I love the way you hug your brother spontaneously.
Sweet Baby Boy B.
You are the best cuddler in the world. I love to hold you after naps and ask if you want a cuddle. You bury your head in my neck and squeeze in a tightly as you can. You would cuddle for hours with your father or me.
I love to hear you laugh. You have the best laugh. It is so joyful. Such a belly laugh. It sounds like every part of your body from your toes to your hair is laughing. Sometimes you laugh so hard you throw up.
I love your compassion. When Ryan gets scolded (and asked to give it back to you) for taking a toy away from you. You sweetly give it back to him. Like the toy wasn't that important if it makes your brother sad.
I love how you listen in the monitor for Ryan to wake up, and as soon as you hear him stir, you yell at me Ya-Ya (Ryan) Ya-Ya. You point to the gate, and sign open. I love how you squeal when we go in and get Ryan out of bed.
I love your empathy. Today Ryan was crying and sad, you without prompting, brought your brother Snoopy, hoping he could make Ryan feel better like Ringo does for you.
I love that you make up for your smaller size with fierceness, your vocabulary, and your volume.
I love that Ringo (Re-Re) has to go everywhere with us. I love that Ringo dances and plays along side almost everything you do.
I love that even though you walked second, you don't let Ryan get away from you. You try so very hard to keep up with him.
I love that even though you are still not always sleeping though the night, you wake up happy and loving, your disposition is sunny and you never seem to be cranky for lack of sleep. (So unlike your over tired Mom and Dad!)
I love your love of music. How you have to have music on all the time, how your first two word phrase was "more music" (in signs) How you can request your favorite songs. (battu, boat, bird, ducks, dog, bus, monkeys, blackbird) How every meal includes serenading by your father or me.
I am so proud of your every accomplishment, your kindness, your gentleness, your sweetness. I am so happy you were brought into our lives to brighten every day.
I love the constant laughter you bring me, even in the chaos, the laughter floats to the top.
The love I feel for you cannot be described in words. The amazement I feel everyday is immeasurable. I cannot believe that you are what you are after all you have been through. I marvel at your abilities, especially considering we didn't know if you would live.
You two are so very special, two of a kind.
To quote a band mate of Re-Re
Baby I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time
Maybe I'm afraid of the way I love you
Baby I'm amazed at the the way you pulled me out of time
Hung me on a line
Maybe I'm amazed at the way I really need you
Babies, I'm amazed at the way I love YOU all the time.
My week plus had been pretty uneventful. I continued to have contractions, I continued to have magnesium sulfate. I had visitors galore, my mother-in-law, my friends...oh and then there were the endless stream of doctors, nurses, phlebotomists. I had really settled in for the duration. I have a DVD player, a mini TV since the local CBS station did not come in at all in my room. (after all it was the NCAA tournament time, and the end of the hockey season, and if I'm going to be stuck in bed with nothing to do, darn it, I'd better be able to watch some sports!) (BTW, as I type I am watching KU and Memphis battle it out, WOW) I had tons of books on parenting, on preemies, and some for just fun, but reading was pretty much out since the Mag made me see double, and my concentration was almost nil. I also attended one of my baby showers via telephone, and an endless supply of video tapes.
It was a mundane existence, I'd be unceremoniously jarred awake by someone turning on the light and sticking me with a needle to draw blood, this after having my blood pressure and temperature taken every 3 hours during the night. Then at about 5:30 or 6:00 a whole pack of doctors would come though my room, examine me, ask me a few questions that I was too sleepy to reply coherently to, and then my cold, bland, often unrecognizable breakfast would arrive. Thank goodness for the friends, mothers-in-law, and husbands who brought me real food for lunch and dinner, or I might have really been miserable! Ah yes, and how could I forget about the constant monitoring of the fetal heart beats. If I took a deep breath, the monitors would shift, and no heartbeat would be detected, and a nurse would come running in to find me trying to get comfortable, or getting out of bed to pee for the 1000's time.
Friday began like every other day. I had an exam, cervix holding steady. Contractions the same, really I didn't feel them much. Only occasionally there would be a strong one, and I'd feel pressure on my bladder or across my back and then, nothing. Of course I was having loads of contractions, they just didn't hurt. Later in the afternoon, I noticed some spotting on my sheet. hmm, I reasoned, I'm sure it is just from the exam this morning, I thought of saying nothing, but something inside told me that I should NOT keep something like this to my self. I told my nurse, she agreed with me that it was probably from the exam too, but she was going to call the doctors just to be safe.
Here's where it starts spiraling out of control. It was about 4 (Oprah was about to start) the doctor came in took a look and found I had dilated to 3 cm. I was rushed to labor and delivery in hopes that they could stop this freight train. After lots of meds, 3 hours later I was still dilating, now at 5 cm, there was no stopping these boys from making their grand entrance.
I was placed in a room, Scott and my MIL were given a briefing, and then we settled in for a wait. I made the decision to have the epidural, even though the contractions were not bothering me. It was really a speed thing for me. I felt as though if there were any problems I'd have the epidural in, and if they needed to do an emergency C-Section, It would be a lot quicker and they could get to saving those boys all the faster. In hindsight it's a good thing, I'll explain in a second.
I then dozed in and out of consciousness for a while, and at 11 pm, my water broke. I woke up with a start, soaking wet, knowing the birth of my boys was eminent. It's kind of a blur from here. I was wheeled into an OR, lots of stuff happened, the doctor came in, Dr. Simpson, everyone said if you are going to deliver twins vaginally, he's the guy you want on call. I guess the other doctors are more inclined to cut you open, and Dr. Simpson is kind of old school more willing to let things happen.
Ryan when you were ready, you were ready. Dr. Simpson wasn't even in the room and the Fellow had to start having me push. The doc came in and was not pleased, but everyone shrugged and said, this baby was coming out! At 11:20 pm Baby A was delivered, and at 11:21 pm Baby B was grabbed by his ankles and ripped out of my uterus. (thus my reason for being thankful for the epidural)
The boys were whisked away from me so quickly, I don't think I got more than a glimpse of either baby. Scott was gone, Cindy went too. It's the pits for a mom of preemies. No happy cry, no baby on your chest. None of that Hollywood stuff where the mom and dad sit gazing adoringly into the eyes of their newborn. Whoosh, they are gone, wrapped in white blankets with blue and pink stripes, in the arms of a doctor, as they rush to start saving their lives.
They took me back to my room in L&D to recover. I was put back on the Mag, I think I begged and cried a little, please, please no more!
It was 2 am before I was given the all clear to go to the NICU to see my babes. By this time Scott had already named them. He said he just looked at them and decided that Baby A (Axel) would be Ryan and Baby B (Outlaw) would be Evan. ( I know I have to explain those nicknames sometime really soon, but too much to say tonight!)
Before I went over to see the boys, I had to use the bathroom...I've never fainted before. But I was sitting on the toilet, and the world around me started to go fuzzy and black. I had enough wits about me to shout for Scott just before I lost consciousness, so he was able to catch me before I fell face down on the bathroom floor. It happened once more before we left, but I pretended it didn't. I NEEDED to see my babies, NOW.
They were so small, just 2 pounds 2 ounces each. So fragile. Just barely alive. Already hooked up to ventilators, in hot little incubators, with wires and patches, with teams, of nurses watching your every move. It wouldn't be until much, much later that I would realize what it meant to have two nurses on each baby. (not good) I was allowed to touch each boy momentarily. Softly. No rubbing. Just soft firm constant pressure. My heart was in my throat. Through everything sterile and scary, there was a light, a light that had been missing in my life. These two little tiny things, filled my heart and soul with so much instantaneous joy, it was truly overwhelming. At that moment, there was no room for fear, no room for thoughts of the road ahead, no room for anything but bliss.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Scott and I spent kayaking on the Kern River. It's been almost exactly a year since the last time I was on the river. (Almost two years for Scott.) Needless to say that much time out of a boat can make a person very sore and tired when they do finally spend four solid days getting worked hard by 4 very sweet yet sadistic coaches.
I some how managed to get one tray of 6 cookies in the oven, and another tray of 5 in line. After getting all of these delightful
Now in addition to dough and flour, there were sprinkles and nonpareils rolling all over the floor.
After we ate (Ryan and I ate, Evan just smashed and attempted to taste) our creations, I spent a good hour cleaning the floor.
Yeah, making cookies, takes FAR less energy than walking to the park and letting the boys run wild.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Stay tuned for:
Cookies are not easier than going to the park.
Kayaking after babies.
Are you sure those are contractions?
Ryan and Evan's big day.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I could not fly. I think the doctors laughed at me when I mentioned getting to Sacramento by Saturday. I could not even go home.
They admitted me to the hospital and continued to monitor the boys. I was put on a Magnesium Sulfate drip to stop the contractions, (and all ability to think coherently) they gave me steroid shots to help the boys lungs develop in case they were born early, I was also given antibiotics in case infection had started this pre-term labor, and they started running tests.
I was told that if all went well, I could potentially be released from the hospital to remain on bed rest for the rest of my pregnancy. I went upstairs to settle in for what I thought was a day or two.
Then the other shoe fell, and it was a steel toed boot.
There was protein in my urine. What is this significance you ask?
More tests, a 24 hour urine collection, lots and lots of blood pressure readings, and more Magnesium Sulfate.
24 hours later, I was told the bad news.
I was not leaving the hospital until the babies were born, and we all hoped that would make for a very long hospital stay for me.
The gravity of the situation had not settled in yet, I kept thinking, oh no, how am I going to spend 10, 15 weeks in the hospital???? I don't do relax and do nothing well. I don't do confinement to bed well. I have SO much left to do before the babies are born, I have three baby showers and one wedding shower to go to!
Honestly, that tells you a little bit about my personality. I was SURE I was going to be in the hospital for a VERY, VERY long time. I was SURE the doctors were wrong, there was no way I had preeclampsia, my blood pressure was only elevated because I was aggravated by the constant blood pressure taking! I was sure I was going to keep those babies inside until at least 35 weeks.
(A funny little aside: While I was in a deep Mag Sulfate induced stupor, I lay in my hospital bed trying to focus on the TV. On came a promo for the Amazing Race, my favorite reality show, and the only one I really want to be on, during this short 30 second promo, there was a short clip of Canoe Polo. What is Canoe Polo? Well, it is the totally obscure sport that I played obsessively pre-twins. I thought I was totally hallucinating. I called Scott on his way home from the hospital and told him he had to watch Survivor on Tivo because he had to watch to see if the Amazing Racers were indeed playing Canoe Polo. Turns out I wasn't that drugged up after all. I just kept trying to figure out how to leverage this into some publicity for our local club.)