Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Halloween! We are 7 months old!

It's our favorite holiday of the year! And we are 7 months old!

As time moves on a torch is being passed. The torch of totally awesome Halloween costumes goes from father to sons. In true Drew fashion the boys' very first Halloween costumes are based on something near and dear to their father's heart:

COBRA's evil twin brothers and leaders of the Crimson Guard
Tomax & Xamot!

I had hopes that Drew would pull off a third costume for himself, say Cobra Commander or better yet Destro, but there just wasn't enough time. If these characters still don't ring a bell in your foggy memory, or if you were too old or uncool to know the GI JOE cartoon of the 80's here's a little product placement ad that might jog your memory.

We also have a couple of other store bought costumes that we just couldn't resist getting. They are not as cool as the home made Evil Twin Brothers above, but they are cute. It's quite a challenge to find a costume that will fit a preemie. Believe it or not these were the smallest we were able to find.

Some updates on how we are doing at 7 months old:

Today Cameron weighs 11lbs and Evan weighs 9lbs! A far cry from 2lbs 14oz and 1lb 7oz.

They are both growing but are having severe reflux and gas that is causing them immense pain and difficulty eating more than 3 to 5oz each feeding. The normal feeding event takes at least an hour and more than half of that was screaming, arching backs, tears, kicking, spitting up, throwing up, hurling, upchuck, painful burps, and then exhaustion so that they'd fall asleep without caring that they hadn't eaten most of their bottles. They just refuse to eat after a while because it's so painful. And all of this has the effect of preventing them from gaining sufficient amounts of weight, so now they are about 25% below the min weight/height range for babies their age. And we know they will be small kids, it's not like Drew and I are all that tall or large, but they will still be considered on the small side. It's up to us to give them every advantage as early as possible because the older they get the more difficult it will be to impact their healthy weight gain.

We were on 1/2 solutab of Prevacid two times a day which is the maximum dosage we could give them and it wasn't working anymore. Now we've added Zantac 3x/day plus 4ml of vegetable oil in every bottle. Yeah that's right, vegetable oil, and it looks nasty mixed with formula. But there is a nice side effect in that the vegetable oil makes burping much, much, much easier and less time consuming.

As of two days ago we went from barely being able to eat 2.5oz most feedings to now eating 5oz every feeding no problem! This is just one more step towards healthy Sleeping Through The Night. We're still a ways off, but I can see it at the next stop on this crazy train. Please oh please oh please.... I haven't slept through the night uninterrupted in over 10 months (that's counting at least two months prior to birth of me getting up every hour to pee or just laying awake in pregnant discomfort.)

Cameron is officially off the oxygen and the medical supply company will be here on Friday to pick up all of the the equipment. He is a healthy normal preemie with no greater risk for asthma or other breathing problems than his brother and should have no lasting effects from his extra time on oxygen.

Developmentally Cameron has had the most improvement and is starting to perform some 6 month old abilities. He holds his head up very well and is almost ready to start rice cereal. We can even hold Cameron up in the air like Super Baby with his feet sticking straight back. He can grasp things, take a toy from my hand, hold it with both hands and can even get it to his mouth though not with much accuracy. He is vocal but only "talks" to his fish on his swing, not so much to Mommy & Daddy yet.

Evan has a very long road to go developmentally and we are going to insist that Infants & Toddlers Early Intervention program adds Occupational Therapy to the Physical Therapy. He is very adamant about turning his head to the right and fights not to turn it to the left. Guess he's got to work on his "Magnum" look because he's got "Blue Steel" down cold.

Evan can hold his head up but requires a lot more propping and will only do it when forced to try. And he will absolutely NOT lift his head for tummy time. He is grasping things as long as they are slim like a skinny rattle or a thin strip of fabric but it's still very difficult. We have witnessed him reach up over his head to swat at his car seat toy or the parrot on his bouncy chair, something Cameron hasn't done yet. Evan not only talks to Mom & Dad and Granny Cathy, and his stuffed dogs Fritz & Helga, but he is also exploring different sounds with his voice while chatting with the fish on the swing. Often it sounds quite disturbing but he's having a great conversation, we just have no idea what the topic is.

Both boys love to kick and the best toy lately has been the piano kick plate crib toy I got on consignment for $2.5o. Neither baby can roll over or prop their chest up in tummy time, but Cameron can lift his head pretty well when he's mad. Both can sit in a Bumbo or Bebe Pod seat, and this week we introduced them to their exersaucer. This is a big hit and Cameron has developed an immediate interest in the sun and globe toys and is already reaching to grasp them. Evan is just thrilled that he's sitting without being held and really enjoys looking at all the new shapes and colors. I also feel we are on the verge of a gross motor skill break through in that the guys have figured out how to lift their legs while on their backs and rock them side to side. The next step is to flop over on to their bellies.

Tomorrow they get their first RSV Vaccine shots and their second round of flu shots. We'll give them one RSV shot a month until April when the season is over. We will be in hybernation until then. :-(

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yes, yes, I know, but did they have to make a TV show to remind me??

Twenty-five was a great year. Probably my favorite. I had a great new grown up job paying me more money than I'd ever had, a new car, a new townhouse with great roommates, a couple of boyfriends, long-long time best friends that were ready to party any time, out to bars on weeknights, dance clubs on weekends, I had fun and spent lots of money on silly things. I was Sex in the City - Baltimore Style. And then I dreaded turning thirty because that's what I thought everyone did, and it turned out to be a fairly pleasant year though going out to bars was not on my top three list of things to do and skiing started to take a less than ideal ranking in my vacation plans because recovery from such activities was taking longer and usually involved more pain. Thirty-three is when things start going south a little faster. Eyes got worse, grey hair was easier to find, you start paying attention to those stupid wrinkle cream adds that you know really don't work because you know there's no such thing as "regenerist pearl mushroom fungi oils" but you want to try them anyway.

But as this past year has progressed I've been consistently reminded that time is ticking. Things are growing, moving on, getting advanced, not what they once were. I had gotten what I wished for. It started with the whole getting pregnant phase at thirty-four. At thirty-four they start treating you like you are of advanced maternal age and your odds of complexities and chances go through the roof by the time you have your 35th birthday. This means more tests, more monitoring... Oh smack! You're having twins! And they are having complications... Yadda yadda yadda... Well, you know the rest of that story.

While you are pregnant and after you have a baby, especially multiples, I really think your body goes into aging overdrive and there are many other facets to life that you now deal with that certainly I never thought of. Carpel tunnel syndrome in both wrists, bad knees from stooping, bad back, stiff and clicky joints, much more gray hair and where the hell did ALL of those wrinkles come from???, and as I've said before the increased likely hood that an organ may start to fail.

I had my gallbladder removed on Wednesday. It was supposed to be outpatient surgery done laproscopically. On the table at 2pm, home by 7pm. But it turned into an overnight stay because I had such a difficult time waking up from the anesthesia and then the amount of IV pain meds it took to ease the pain of the four incisions. I wish I could say that I had the best sleep since the last six months but they wake you up every 30 min until you've been there 4 hours and then they wake you up every 2 hours after that so really there was no rest.

And I wish I could say that I immediately felt better having had the gallbladder out but I actually have felt worse for the last four days. Today has been the first day where I've been able to eat anything without feeling like I needed to pay my respects to the porcelain god. The pain meds make me even more queasy, so I've stopped taking them and just deal with the discomfort. Can't really throw up too well while holding a squirming baby.

And I can't say that I was really thrilled with how everything went because the whole process is just like going to Jiffy Lube. You show up, they drive you up to the counter where you turn in your photo ID and insurance cards, pull you into the mechanic's prep bay to gear you up / strip you down and take your vitals, the docs give you the "ready, fire, aim" welcome to our fun house speech, then pump you full of fast acting memory erasers (and boy do I mean fast!! I didn't even get to take my glasses off my head), and promptly wheel you in for the slice n' dice. Afterward you wake up in a big room full of other equally miserably inclined patients with a nurse who has no information on how your surgery went or if you will be seeing your doctor at any time during the remainder of your stay. I never did see him after everything was done nor did he make any attempt to contact my husband to say everything was normal. I guess it's not really necessary, but it's nice to have a follow up conversation with the person whom you've just allowed to poke around in your gizzard and take a body part for his collection.

At home it's the typical discomfort and pill popping, trying to think of something bland to eat and still thinking of sneaking the slice of pizza that I'll pay for later on. There are four band-aids hiding steri-strips that hold my stitches together. The band-aids are supposed to come right off after two days and the steri-strips in about a week to ten days once the stitches dissolve in the shower. Instead the band-aids are stuck directly to the steri-strips which are holding my stitches together so when painfully peeling them off my steri-strips come off too. I guess I'll just cut the parts that aren't sticking and keep the parts that are sticking where they belong. And it feels very much like Mike Tyson had a practice session on my right side from my shoulder to my hip. And anyone who lies to you and says that it's easier than a c-section is delusional and has forgotten that they most likely had an epidural before their c-section and those last 24 to 72 hours after your surgery, then pain is masked by the IV meds and pills they give you in recovery. The epidural makes a BIG DIFFERENCE!!! After my c-section I was hobbling around from my room to the NICU in 4 hours. This time I didn't get up for 8 hours.

But it's finally done. I am less one organ.

Fare well to my delicious side of fries with everything. And trusty, reliable good friend KFC. Oh, and my always-desired-on-Sunday Chick-fil-A 8 peice chicken nuggets meal with ranch dressing. (Okay fine, I really get the 12 piece.) So long onion rings and Whisky River BBQ Burgers from Red Robin. I will only see you all once in a blue moon when my resolve and memory cave and I can't fight the desire to have you one more juicy time and I convince myself that it's worth the aftermath of gas and discomfort later.

Insult to Injury... While watching TV in my hospital bed I saw an ad for the new show "Life on Mars". WTF??? Is the year 1973 supposed to be a really long time ago? Why couldn't they have picked 1943 or 1982? Is thirty-five years such a far of time that we need to bring the retro back and splash it about prime viewing time so that I can't forget that I'm just that much older? What fortuitous timing that they should air this new show right NOW!!

I know I'm not 40 or 45 or 50 but I am hot on your heals. And Hollywood should know that I don't appreciate their rubbing in their youth and vitality. Not this year. Can they try it next season, when I'll be 36 and maybe feel more blase about the whole age thing?
At least wait until I can fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans without a layer of binding assistance.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wanna see what 28weekers look like?

Here are a whole bunch of photos of the boys since birth. I separated them one for Cameron and one for Evan. They are their own people so they should have their own slide show. I love to go from the first few photos to the most recent ones because I can hardly believe they started out the way they did. The early photos of the boys with their tubes and wires and red puffy skin still gives me the shakes. It's been such a loooong six months but I would do it again and again.



Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Please help babies like mine...

You can help babies like mine, maybe even your babies, have a better chance of survival. Read our story in my blog starting with the post "Introducing Cameron & Evan". But more importantly, please take just a moment to sign this petition to help babies everywhere!

March of Dimes - Petition for Premature Babies

1. We urge the federal government to increase support for prematurity-related research and data collection as recommended by the Institute of Medicine and the Surgeon General’s Conference on the Prevention of Preterm Birth, to:

  1. 2. We urge federal and state policymakers to expand access to health coverage for women of childbearing age and to support smoking cessation programs as part of maternity care.
  2. 3. We call on hospitals and health care professionals to voluntarily assess c-sections and inductions that occur prior to 39 weeks gestation to ensure consistency with professional guidelines.
  3. 4. We call on businesses to create workplaces that support maternal and infant health.

If that link doesn't work here's the TinyURL which you can copy and paste into a new web window:

Pass this on!!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Reaching & Grabbing, plus update on our Urologist visit

As I sit here typing I am watching Cameron get very frustrated at reaching and grabbing for the toys I've placed in front of him in his swing. But the key here is that HE's DOING IT!!! Cameron is reaching out his hand towards a specific item (his monkey rattle from his play gym), opening the palm of his hand, and grasping the monkey's leg. Then he pulls it towards him but the monkey is to big for him to do more than that so he gets upset. He's tired and ready for a nap. But I couldn't be more excited!

Evan is in his bouncey swatting at the bird and being amazed at how the bird spins around on its bar. He is not as frustrated as Cameron and is seemingly more patient than tired Cameron. Both of these things are big steps and make me smile all over.

This morning we went to see the pediatric urologist about the boys hernias, Evan's hypospadius and penile chordee, and discuss when to fix and have them circumsized. Circumcision is not what we had planned but because of Evan's condition and since we're going in to fix their hernias we will be going ahead with the circumcisions. But none of this can happen until the boys are 9mos and weigh 15lbs. They can and have done these proceedures on smaller younger babies but out of consideration for their prematurity, Cameron's recent weaning off of oxygen, and their tiny sizes for 6 month olds (actual age) they prefer as a general rule to wait until the babies are much bigger.

This is just fine with me, I am not thrilled about having any surgery done on my guys but I'll be glad it's done with and they are fully healed. I'm not going to go into our decisions about circumcision and the question of to do it or not to do it. It's a personal thing for every family, though I can't imagine anyone chosing to have one twin circ'ed and not the other.

In any case, we go back in January for a follow up to see if the hernias still have not closed (keep your fingers crossed they don't become impacted between now and then so that we don't need to have any emergency surgeries) and make sure everyone has gained enough weight. It will be an outpatient surgery and they should come home with us the same day.

Uh oh, Evan's had enough of his bouncy chair. Time to go for a nap.