Monday, June 25, 2012

2 month check in

The babies reached the 2 month milestone on Saturday.  I remember thinking my actual due date seemed so far away when they were born and now it's only a week away!  Last week Andrew went to the pediatrician for his 2 month check up and everything looked great, he even handled the shots well.  He and Benjamin currently weigh 6.5 lbs and Caroline is close behind at 6 lbs.  Benjamin is the shortest of the 3 big kids and Andrew is the tallest.  Allison weighs 4.5 lbs, Leah weighs 4 lbs, and Levi is just under 4 lbs.  He's so tiny he hasn't grown into his head yet.  Levi and Leah finally moved into cribs yesterday!  Levi is actually scheduled to be discharged this Friday- yes, he's passed up Allison.  Although she is bigger and has been in a crib longer, she is stubborn as stubborn can be and will NOT take a bottle.  I think she'll be giving us some trouble in the future!  Andrew is still the noisiest, constantly making his little goat sounds.  I like to think Ben and Caroline would tell him to shut up if they could.  Leah is also proving to be a feisty little thing, she definitely lets you know when she's unhappy.
Little Leah
Leah's surgery to reconnect her intestines is scheduled for this Wednesday.  Her MRI results aren't what we were hoping for.  We knew she had some brain damage from her previous ultrasounds, but actually seeing the images was disheartening.  From what I saw it looks like the back and sides of her brain- parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes and cerebellum are damaged and definitely more cyst than brain matter.  Her frontal lobe looks ok but without the other areas she's going to have a hard time.  Her motor skills are most at risk as well as her vision, hearing and speech are likely to be affected too.  The neurologists were quite negative, but the neonatologist was optimistic based on her current behavior and knowing Dave and I and our support system.  So, we're disappointed, but trusting God like we have been and focusing on what we can do to help her and encourage her development.

Dave and I have been adjusting to life with 3 and so far it's been fine.  I can handle them by myself all day, of course it helps that they sleep a lot.  But when I'm making bottles every night and they take up half the counter I think "this is only half of them..."  When feeding by myself I usually do 2 then the 3rd while I'm pumping, but I have been able to do all 3 at once when they're all screaming (thank you Kelly for the tips!).  I've actually been able to balance a bottle with my belly pooch so I can adjust another bottle with my hand- figure the pooch should be good for something besides strangers asking me when I'm due.  Dave's been great with the 3 of them and watches them while I take Maggie for walks everyday.  We're up to 3 miles!  Maggie got out of shape right along with me, so I drag her along in hopes of retraining her :)
Andrew getting a sink bath
This past week TCH PR team came to our house to film a "tour" and interview us about preparing for the babies and what life is like with 3 at home.  I believe it's for some TCH publication, but I haven't gotten the final copy to approve yet.  They were really nice, but we had definitely gotten out of practice with the interviewing.  I thought the house looked pretty good until they started filming and I'd say "oh don't film that pile of blankets or that drawer that won't close because it's too full and messy."  They didn't listen, oh well.

To end it on a high note, my parents came this weekend and will be staying to help for the month of July!  I'm so so excited!  And here's a pic just for fun...
This is an A and B conversation...  so C your way out of it!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Andrew's Home!

After 4 false alarms, Andrew finally got discharged!  We had developed a pattern of: "Andrew gets to go home in 3 days"... "Nevermind he had an A&B last night, now he'll go home in 5 days".  We're glad he finally behaved himself!  We now cannot travel all in one vehicle as my car and Dave's truck only hold 2 car seats, so we caravanned home.  This means no more outings on my own for awhile and I don't think I can squeeze 3 babies into one stroller.  We're still waiting on our larger items (van, stroller)... patience is a virtue, right?  Dealing with 3 babies has already proven to be more interesting than 2.  Andrew seems to be noisier and he definitely has the stinkiest farts.  We also put them in their cribs to sleep for the first time, so that could also be a reason for the extra fussiness.  But, we made it through!  I did the 5 am feeding alone and it took an hour, including pumping, so I didn't think that was too bad for my first time.  If only I had 3 arms!  Or really 6 I guess :)  
Us with Andrew right before going home
Yesterday we also had a family meeting with Leah's doctors.  Her surgery (to reconnect her intestines) is set for the last week of June.  She will have to be in another building for the surgery and may have to stay there if she doesn't recover well.  It'll take a week or so for her to be able to eat again and from there she'll have to slowly build to full breast milk feeds and then take a bottle consistently, so she won't be coming home anytime soon.  She's also having an MRI done next week to get a better image of her brain.  Allison and Levi continue to do a little better everyday, just waiting on their bottling skills to improve and for them the gain weight.

Tomorrow is Father's Day!  Although I'm pretty sure Dave doesn't read this, I wanted to give a Happy 1st Father's Day shoutout to him!  He's done great with the babies and has really stepped up.  He's definitely a "paranoid Papa" but that's just because he loves them so much :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Busy Busy B and C

Benjamin and Caroline have had quite a week!  On Monday I decided to challenge myself by bringing both of them to the hospital to visit their siblings all by myself.  It took me way longer to get everything and everyone ready to go than I planned, but we made it and they did great!  We even stayed longer than I planned because they were doing so well.  The staff enjoyed seeing them too.  They requested that I stay through a feeding so they could see how I feed both at the same time, and they took my picture...

Tuesday they had their 2 month check up (a week early).  We were there forever, but they handled it well- thanks to the wubbanubs!  Benjamin is up to 5 1/2 lbs 17.25 in and Caroline is 5 lbs and 17.75 in!   She's definitely long and skinny.  They also got their first round of shots.  Ben screamed through it all, but Caroline yelped on the first one and handled the rest like a champ.  I like to think she's tough like her mom- ha!  Anyway, the pediatrician said they're doing great :)

Today they were both evaluated for ECI services and didn't qualify.  Not a surprise to me since they base the norms on adjusted age, which is negative 3 weeks, so if you're not expected to do anything and you don't do anything, then you're performing on an age appropriate level.  They may qualify in the future when they're older.  We did have fun playing with the ECI ladies though.

The others are all progressing and growing too.  Andrew's just as big as Benjamin, Allison's about 4 1/2 lbs, Leah's 3 lb 10 oz, and Levi is 3 lb 5 oz.  We're hoping to go from the Perkins Row down to the Perkins Room at the NICU very soon!

Friday, June 8, 2012

We Can Do Two

It's been a week since we brought Benjamin and Caroline home and we've survived- including 2 outings and introducing Maggie.  Tuesday we had their follow up eye exams at Texas Children's.  As a birthday present to me, the hospital gave us early appointments so we had to travel during rush hour- thanks a lot.  Dave was really sweet and took the 1 am feeding so I could sleep more for my birthday, but I was so worried about forgetting something and leaving on time, that it didn't help.  Since I had to miss it, I did learn that my nap between the 5am and 9am feeding really makes a difference for the rest of the day.  Anyway, we did remember everything and got to the appointment on time despite Ben having a huge pee right when we were walking out the door- I'm sure this is only the beginning of this fun.  They both passed their eye exam and afterwards we all got to visit the 4 NICU babies!  B and C were so good the whole outing.  Ben is definitely a boy- he chugs his bottle, passes out, and farts all the time.  Caroline is much more dainty in every way, and Dave calls her Allison like half the time.   Here's a conversation from today...
D- "Did Allison poop today?"
L- "How would I know, I've been at home"
D- "Dang it!  I keep doing that, I meant Caroline."

That afternoon Dave got Maggie from the Kritter Sitters (thanks Cindy and Linda!) so we could test her with the babies.  I had planned to video her when she came through the door, but I forgot.  It would've been a boring video anyway because she went right by me and the babies and straight for her favorite toy.  We did actually introduce the babies to her by holding them on her level.  She sniffed them and licked them a little then walked off.  She really hasn't paid much attention to them at all; she usually checks them out when we're messing with them.  I know many people are worried about her barking.  Well, she still barks when someone's at the door, and the babies don't bat an eye.  They also don't wake up when the other is screaming.

Wednesday we headed for the pediatrician for their discharge follow up appointment.  They did great!  Ben's a big 5 lbs now!  We're going back next week for their 2 month and first set of vaccines.  ECI came by that afternoon too to do their intake paperwork, they'll be evaluated this week.  ECI has started to give the same developmental test I gave incoming 3-4 yr olds to the schools, so it'll be interesting to be on the other side.  I really liked the case workers and they stayed longer than they had to because Megan and I were just so entertaining. lol  Thanks Meg for taking off work to help the whole day!

Fun things from this week... Vaniesa offered to babysit on my birthday so Dave and I could go out to eat!  AND he took me out to get ice cream- this is a big deal because Dave hates going out for ice cream (I know, he's weird).  Then today Christy came to babysit so I could take a looong nap this afternoon!  I really do have some awesome friends.  I also got ambitious and took the 2 babies and Maggie for a walk the other day all by myself and it was a success!    


The other babies are doing good, Andrew should be coming home very soon.  Alli continues to be a toot (the nurses call her my mini me) and will be able to come home once she eats consistently from a bottle.  Levi started taking a bottle and Leah's her same ole self.  On a less happy note, Leah's repeat head scan showed cysts in her brain.  They may be doing an MRI on her as well.  Unfortunately we won't know the full impact of the cysts for a few years.  The problem with developmental issues is you don't find out about them until the kid develops.  Worst case is severe cerebral palsy and/or cognitive deficits.  Best case is her brain compensates for the missing areas and she's completely typically developing.  Or she could be anywhere in between those two.  I've worked with little ones in all of these categories; obviously I'm hoping she's the kid who comes in at 3 and catches up by 5.  So, extra prayers for her would be appreciated!  The best thing is that she has 5 siblings to push her along.  And just because I don't want to end on a negative, here's a pic of Dave and I goofing off with the home kiddos...


When we decided to keep all 6 babies, I joked that I would need 6 baby showers to get everything we needed.  Well, we did have 6 baby showers!  Two at my work, one at Dave's work, one with church friends, one with my grandmother's friends (most people there didn't even know me), and this one with all my family and friends.  #6 was this past Sunday and it was a blast!  Emma and Sara did a fantastic job with everything.  Emma and I have hosted many showers together and 3 years ago after hosting several within a couple months, we decided to take a break and she told me she wouldn't do another baby shower until mine.  At that time Dave and I hadn't even talked about trying to have a baby yet, so Emma's been planning this thing for a long time!  The theme was "she's popped" and they went all out including a bubble machine when you walked in the door.  It was so fun to see all my friends I haven't seen in months, but it was exhausting too.  Everyone was so generous it took a days work to organize and put away the gifts!  You all will eventually get your thank you notes :)  My friend Elizabeth was the photographer, but I know she's super busy and hasn't had a chance to process the pictures yet, so I'm including some my aunt sent me...

The cake... made by Cakes by Gina.  I actually met Gina in the elevator on my way to a doctor appointment.  She asked me something about "boy or girl" or "how much longer do you have to go" and of course my grandmother says, "She has 6 babies in there!".  Gina then told me who she was and that she'd do the cake if I had any showers left.  Well, a couple months later she remembered me and did this awesome cake!  I have no idea how she makes the icing look like real popcorn.

My running club-BARC- gave me a huge surprise!  Apparently they were sending me my own version of the eBARCer the past few weeks so they could gather donations from the whole club towards a group gift.  They also included personalized BARC onesies for the babies and 6 6 packs of beer all made in Texas.  Runners are generally beer drinkers, except for me, so if you come over to help you can sample some of their selections :)  BARCers are the best and I've really missed my running friends! Dave and I are so grateful for your generosity especially since I was the worst VP ever this past year!

The spread... SO GOOD!  They continued the "popped" theme with marshmallow pops, strawberry pops, caramel popcorn, mushroom pops, and fruit pops.  To balance out my sugar overload I ate plenty of the bacon crackers which were just evil.  Anyway, that's it for the shower recap- thanks again to Emma and Sara and everyone who attended!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Coming Home

As some of you may have heard through facebook and on the news, Benjamin and Caroline came home yesterday!  We found out the schedule coming home day a week ago which meant we had to get busy preparing for them.  There was quite a bit to do since we originally planned on them coming home mid-late June.  I spent a couple days just organizing the most recent load of baby donations/gifts with the help of Mike and Meg.  We rearranged the dining room and living room to accommodate all the baby gear, and cars will no longer fit in the garage.  Somehow Dave managed to fit the 10+ large bins of clothes in the attic (sizes bigger than 9 mo); 9 mo and under I stuffed into dressers, bins, and closets in the nursery and future baby room.  I still have one more baby shower left, not sure where that stuff will go!  Here's a shot of our new dining room...

We also had our day of learning with CPR and car seat education classes.  Dave definitely took over the CPR class making sure everyone practiced enough.  I met with our pediatrician and visited my friend with quints +1 to get a preview of my life in 3 years.  I had a blast building Legos, coloring, and playing tea party!  Of course, I did get to leave after a couple hours and I wasn't in charge, but their mom is awesome and hope I can do as good a job as she is!  All the last minute cleaning and returning/exchanging stuff and dropping Maggie off with her Kritter Sitters was worth it on the official coming home day!  Unfortunately I wasn't feeling well yesterday, so we didn't get them home until dinner time.  They did great in the car even through Houston traffic!  Our friends brought over dinner and helped with the first two feedings :)  Dave and I survived the night and got a few hours of sleep in too.  He had to work today, so I decided to challenge myself by doing the morning feed alone before calling for help.  I'm happy to say I was able to feed both of them at the same time and handled the whole day all by myself!  It makes me feel better to know I have the ability to handle two babies (even if these are the 2 laid back babies).  I will definitely be yelling for help when the next 2 come home!  Dave's parents are visiting for the weekend and I've already put them to work :) Here's a picture of us about to leave the hospital including 2 of our favorite nurses:

Yesterday was a big day for all our babies!  With Caroline and Ben leaving, we are now down to 2 NICU rooms.  Andrew moved in with Allison (both in cribs) and Levi moved in with Leah.  All 3 of our CPAPers became non-CPAPers this past week!  It's so nice to see their cute faces!

Some fun things from this week... we got to meet the CEO of Texas Children's.  He was very nice and we took some pictures for hospital history business.  I also bumped up my birthday girl's night celebration since we'd have babies home before my actual birthday.  It was so much fun to hangout with some of my favorite friends one last time before our hangouts consist of feeding babies.  Here's my super yummy Milky Way cake made by the lovely Patricia (holding the cake):
So, it's been a busy week for the Pack!  I'll try to keep updating as babies come home, but I will choose sleep over blogging.  Thanks for the continued prayers and support, and for those of you who have offered to help out- get ready!