Monday, September 24, 2012

I'm Good & They're Great!

It's been ages since I've updated, so here's the gist of what's happened since you heard from us last:

 In a surprising twist of events, BENJAMIN came home from the NICU first, on June 13th. At 5lbs 15oz (I believe?) He was still quite a peanut!

D.O.G. took to him quickly. He spent his entire puppy life preparing to be a big brother, and at last his dream came true!

 Sullivan followed Benji home shortly after, on June 18th.  His delay was due to constant Bradying (Bradycardia - the stinker would just STOP breathing).  Now, at 4 months old, he still does it sometimes while eating from a bottle. Suck-swallow-breathe is quite the challenge for him, but he'll eventually outgrow it. "Slow" flow bottles aren't much help, either. Milk just seems to gush out of them, and when he gets overwhelmed he just, uh, stops trying to breath. Thankfully we recently discovered Dr. Brown's PREEMIE flow nipples. So amazing. Even if your baby has no problem with fast flowing bottles, they're great at preventing breastfed babies from getting too lazy, hehe.

Once home, they proved to be every bit as pleasant and easy as they were in-hospital. Even 4 months later, they rarely scream or fuss (especially Ben, who is the definition of easy).

At first I slept downstairs in the living room with them. One would rest in the Sleep N Play Rocker, which is what Ben is in next to D.O.G. in the piicture above. Twin #2 would either sleep in a pack n play, in my mom's arms in the recliner, or in my arms on the couch. I pumped almost exclusively for 3 months (it felt like an eternity, but that's a story for another day!), so the constant bottle warming and diaper changes were easiest to handle in the living room, right next to the kitchen. I wasn't yet comfortable sharing a bed with them, and bottle feeding in bed was too difficult anyway.

Early on, I (tried to) make sure they at least got naps in their crib, so that they'd be comfortable in the nursery without me.

This hasn't been a problem for us yet though. It's true what they say about spoiling newborns - it's just not possible. About 2 weeks ago I started transitioning Benjamin into the crib at night. It's been a breeze! Sullivan I also put in the nursery; however, until they're a bit older and no longer at high risk for SIDS, I'm keeping them separate, each with their own motion monitor. So Sully sleeps in the Rocker, with a Snuza monitor, right next to a sound monitor (so I can hear if it alarms).   Then Benjamin has an Angelcare monitor under the crib mattress... why? Because the kid LOVES to belly sleep. On his back, he gets MAYBE 3 hours in a row. Flip him to his belly, and he's out for a solid 5+.   So, Angelcare it is. I sleep soundly at night this way, so it's been worth every penny.
Now that they're a bit bigger (and they don't scare me so much), I now just kick the dogs out of my room and bring them to bed with me around 4am-ish (or whenever their 2nd wakeup is).

 Here they are during their first bath, at around 1 month old:

Then bathing at almost 2 months:

And then at 3 months:

And then last week:

Here they are happy:

And then not so happy:

This is them on the 4th of July:

And then this is them sunbathing:

 Because Sullivan is super cute:

Because Benjamin is adorable:

And then, as if you weren't already drowning in cute:

This is them in their Sunday best, sleeping through Relief Society:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Deployment Day

Goodbyes are always hard, and this was the toughest yet.

Donald left for Afghanistan on June 11th, in the wee hours of the night. We spent our last few hours together in the NICU, hanging out as a family. 

After 6 years of marriage and several months-long goodbyes, I've never cried during departure. This one got me though. Thankfully it was a small group leaving, and I hopped in my car when the tears started flowing, pridefully well hidden. I followed his bus until they exited the freeway toward the appropriate air field. Under any other circumstances, that'd be creepy. Donald would still probably say it was. Meh.


Hours later he phoned me. Their flight had been delayed, and he needed his iPad charger and laptop.
Out the door I ran! I would soon be getting just one more kiss! Ant fellow military wife knows that rush.
Then he called again, when I was 90% there, to inform me their flight was suddenly un-delayed. Typical Army.
After briefly guilting myself with what-if's (I had stopped at Jack in the Box to get him breakfast... an unnecessary surprise and fatal delay!), I decided to swing by the hospital and spend time snuggling my babies instead. If I remember correctly, I was in pajamas. Sans makeup. Puffy face. Haggard
 The babies didn't notice or care though, so it was a nice visit.
And that was Donald's deployment day.
He'll be back in late February or early March, and we can hardly wait!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

2 Weeks of tWinns

Our beautiful little boys amaze us with the strength and resilience they've exhibited in the 11 days since their arrival.

Sullivan was born uncomplicated, and was placed on my chest shortly after being born. He was beautiful and perfect in every way.
Then we waited to see if Benjamin would flip head-down to arrive in equally uneventful fashion. Unfortunately, he did not. They went in for a manual breech extraction (um, most painful experience ever).  His head was stuck, and 3 different doctors took turns trying to dislodge him. The worst 15ish minutes of my life later... they shouted something about a section, and I was out like a light.
In addition to being stuck, his cord had pinched. My poor little Benjmain, they'd later discover, suffered a stroke during this process.
While unconscious, they sectioned me and dislodged his head, and then guided him out. So, technically, they were both born vaginally... with a "C-section assist".
What a unique way to be born, right?

Meeting Benjamin for the first time.
For several days, Benny was in a private room. I was still heavily medicated, and getting me wheeled into his tiny quarters was tricky.  My sweet boys face was hidden under a cooling cap; they had put his head into an induced hypothermic state to prevent further brain damage and allow him time to heal. Poor Benji-butt had suffered a stroke during delivery. :-( 

Kangaroo care with Sullivan.
He was only on the CPAP mask for a few days, but I didn't like that thing. It made him look far more frail and ill than he was, and it hid his beautiful face.

At some point on the day they were born, Donald made a trip from my recovery room to deliver colostrum to the NICU. While there, he held our Sully (who was not on the CPAP mask at the time, thankfully).

Sullivan, under the lights to zap that jaundice! 

Benjamin's cooling cap:

Sullivan doing Kangaroo Care with mommy, with that yucky CPAP mask on

Benjamin, a few days after birth, free from the cooling cap

Sullivan, momentarily out from under his oxygen hood.
His beautiful eyes!
The pressure from the CPAP mask caused a pressure pneumothorax, so they had to place a tube in his chest to relieve pressure. They then put him under an oxygen hood, but his nurse was kind enough to free him from the hood long enough for us to enjoy a few moments with him.

More kangaroo care with Sullivan

Daddy and Benny
(Do you see his little hand up in the air? That's one of the first movements we saw from him. Each tiny stir was a miracle to us, as we had been warned that his brain damage was extensive and to set our expectations low. Now, 2 weeks later, our little Benny is keeping pace with his brother, only a day or two behind. He is our miracle.)

Happy Memorial Day from Sullivan!

Benjamin, fresh off the vent for the holiday! The best Memorial Day EVER!

Holding Benjamin for the first time.

Daddy holding Benjamin for the first time

Benjamin smiling up at his papa

My little Sullivan

Their first presents from daddy. Hairy Benjamin received Chewy:

And Sullivan, with his prominent ears, got Yoda:

Daddy and Benjamin

 Sullivan got daddy's ears!

Milk drunk Ben:

They each look so different, and already have such adorable personalities, completely independent of one another.

We're so in love!

They are now completely off all supplemental oxygen and IVs, and are working through some minor feeding issues. They also continue to Brady (Bradycardia); they suddenly stop breathing and their heartrates drop. This typically now only happens when they eat (particularly Sullivan), which makes it fairly easy to catch. If they can stop Bradying and tolerate their feeds well, they should *hopefully* be home in another week or two.

They're so squishy and snuggable. I can't wait to go visit them again today! Squee!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy

Happy Birthday, my sweet Fletcher. 

In the 13 days since Sullivan and Benjamin were born, I've experienced joy and fulfillment like I never thought possible.

However, a small piece of my heart will always be missing. It belongs to you, sweet boy. 
I wish things could have been different.

Maybe one day you'll know how much you were loved by a random woman across the ocean.
I hope Ukraine appreciates your presence; you're a blessing, and they're lucky to have you.
Happy 5th Birthday, Arthur.

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