Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thankful Thoughts

On a funny note - This is a funny story from today.

Me: "Ken! Go back there and see about them. Everybody's crying - and I think I heard a slap."

Ken: (as he is getting up) "Karlee probably hit her."

Karlee: (running out from the back with Kendall trailing behind crying loudly) "Daddy, I had to spank her because she took something away from me!"

On a more serious note - Our miracle baby's are 6 weeks old!! I can't believe it. We have so much to be thankful for this year. I have been reading a lot of stories lately about TTTS and I realize how lucky we were for so many reasons. First, the statistics are daunting - 80% mortality if not treated or detected. Second, there are about a million anatomical things that need to be right in order to perform the surgery - the location of the placenta, umbilical cords, blood vessels, amount of amniotic fluid, etc. etc. - and every one was exactly as it should be for us. Third, our doctor recognized the problem and knew the best place to send us for treatment. He didn't waste any time trying to manage it himself or send us to other specalists who would not be aggressive in treating the situation. So here is a list of just some of the things we are thankful for this year:

  • Our maternal fetal specialist, Dr. Rosemond, who knew what to look for, detected the TTTS and sent us immedialty for treatment.

  • Dr. Bebbington and the team of specalists at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), who performed the life-saving surgery for the twins.

  • my husband, who was my rock through all of this. He had to be "superdad" and "supermom" doing it all - cooking, cleaning, bath, bedtime, diapers, playtime, laundry, birthday parties, church, driving, AND go to work everyday. Thank you and I love you!!!

  • Our families, especially our parents and siblings, for "baby-sitting" us every single day since June. I know how tiring and inconvienient this was many, many days.

  • Our Sundy School friends and our church family at PABC, who sent snacks and good wishes to the hospital in Philly, donated money for food, brought meals, baby-sat, visited and most importantly PRAYED without ceasing.

  • My scrapbook girls, who made the most beautiful scrapbooks for the twins and gave them to me at a fun party with yummy food. I am so excited I have a way to document all their special moments - because I would never get it done on my own!

  • Our wonderful neighbors in Dove Creek, who prepared meals for us when many of them have never even met us.

  • Our ob/gyn Dr. Halbach, who took great care of me and delivered the babies safe and sound.

  • Our beautiful, healthy, full-term babies, Kamryn and Kourtney, who show no signs of TTTS - no physical defects, heart damage, kidney damage or neurological defects.

  • Kendall, who finally seems to be doing better after seeing Dr. Nurko in Boston and just has a milk protein allergy and nothing that will require surgery and/or long-term issues.

  • Karlee, who the best big sister, always helping with the babies and Kendall when ever she is asked.

  • YOU - OUR PRAYER WARRIORS - who lifted our family and our sweet, sweet babies up to the Lord in prayer. Day-in and day-out for months and months, you continued to intercede on our behalf. We know the power of prayer, we get to literally see it everytime we look at our girls. We are eternally grateful to you!

  • our God and savior, Jesus Christ, who has great plans for us - plans to prosper us, and give us a hope and a future. Who gives us strength when we think we can't take on any more, who provides for ALL our needs, who loves us even when we question him and who performs MIRACLES for those he calls his own.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Life with many small children

Things I say at least 1o times a day (no, I am not kidding - I really counted one day!)

  1. "Kendall - take ________ out of your mouth." Feel free to insert anything in the blank. Yes, I do mean ANYTHING!! My list includes socks, crayons, the twins pacifiers, shoes, money, Polly Pockets, Fred (the dog!!!), any small pieces of food found on the floor, in her car seat or stuck to her clothing, fuzz and strings from clothes, paper and stickers.

  2. "Karlee give ______ to Kendall. I know it is your favorite/you had it first, but if you give it to her, I PROMISE she will stop screaming." In this case, the blank is whatever Karlee has. Then she will give it to Kendall and get something else. Then, you guessed it, Kendall wants that instead. Well, actually she wants both.

  3. "Kendall, DON'T TOUCH THE BABIES!!!!!!!!!!" Kendall, who weighs 31 pounds, has terrible balance and no idea what gentle means.

Did you notice that they all involve Kendall? I guess that is what happens when you live with an 18 month old. Add her to the oldest who is 4 going on 13 as well as the newborn twins and things get a little KRAZY. Life becomes one wild ride and all you can do is hold on tight and hope for the best - and throw your head back and laugh!

Update on the twins: Kamryn and Kourtney are five weeks old today. They continue to do well for the most part. We have discovered that Kourtney seems to have the same problem as Kendall. Most of you know we spent the first year of Kendall's life traveling around the country from specialist to specialist trying to determine what was wrong with her colon. After Atlanta, Augusta, Dallas and Boston it was determined that she had a milk protein allergy. I noticed the same signs and symptoms that Kendall originally presented with so I decided to call the doctor. He said that it sounds like Kendall's situation so he put Kourtney on alimentum for a week to see if this make a difference. She has been on it since Tuesday and we can definitely tell a difference. Since they are identical, Kamryn has it too - she just never had any symptoms since she has been on formula since she was a week old. So, we will be getting a goat when the twins turn one to supply milk for 3/4 of our children!! Other than this problem, the twins are doing good. Kamryn weighs 9 pounds and 1 ounce and Kourtney weighs 8 pounds and 1 ounce. They look exactly a like but the weight difference makes it easy to tell them apart for now.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yes - we are still here!!

I know it has been forever since I have posted but I have had to choose between blogging and sleeping and well, you can tell what I chose. So, I will try to go back to the last post and catch you up on everything that has happened since then.

Hospital Stay: On Friday, when they were one week, we noticed that Kamryn wasn't eating well and seemed to sleep a lot and be very lethargic. We talked to the doctor and he had us stop nursing and do bottles only until the morning, when he would see us in the office. When we saw him Saturday morning, Kamryn's weight was still down and she had not eaten well during the night, continuing to be lethargic. He did not seem as concerned as we were but I knew that something was not right and I guess he picked up on that and decided that we needed additional testing and sent us to the hospital. Once we got there, the nurses were able to see that Kamryn was having trouble eating and that she was very lethargic. The doctor ordered some blood work as well as an upper GI scan to check for any problems. The scan was normal but here blood work showed a little dehydration and a high bilirubin level. Her level was 17.5 and apparently 20 is the point where brain damage can occur. So, the started her on the photobed (a light bed, sort of like a tanning bed) as well as IV fluids. We also changed her formula from regular Similac to Alimentum which really seemed to help. She did the bed and IVs all night and by morning we could see a HUGE difference. They rechecked her bilirubin then and it was down to 12. So, she came off the bed and IV and then they rechecked bilirubin again that afternoon - it had gone down even more to 10 so we got to come home. Basically she had been caught in a vicious cycle that she couldn't break - the high bili levels made her lethargic, which made her not want to eat, which made her more tired and lethargic, etc. etc. Eating was the thing that would get the bili levels down but she was just too exhausted from not eating to eat any more. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO PRAYED FOR KAMRYN - AGAIN OUR PRAYERS WERE ANSWERED!!!

Feeding Specialist: Once we got home, Kamryn was definitely better but she was having major problems eating from the bottles that we had. We tried several different kinds but with no luck. Ken finally had to go back to the hospital and get bottles from them to make it through the next day or so. Then we had the pediatrician refer us to the feeding team (he had mentioned doing this anyway when we were in the hospital). We were able to see an OT on Tuesday - she said that Kamryn is a "disorganized" eater. She can do all the separate parts of eating - sucking and swallowing but she can't put them all together and breathe in between. So, she has to use a special bottle ($30 a piece) and we have some other things to do while she eats to help her eat better. We have seen the OT again since the first visit and Kamryn has not really gotten a lot better but she has not gotten worse. So, we will continue to work with her and see the OT again in 2 weeks.

GA/FLA & Halloween: We had planned for several weeks that Karlee would go to Jacksonville with Ken's parents for the ball game - especially since her cousin Tanner would be going. Ken decided Thursday after she left, that he really wanted to go but he didn't want to leave the rest of us. We thought about just packing up everybody and going but decided that might be a little too much!! I finally convinced Ken to go and have a good time - he deserved it after being SUPERDAD since June when my bedrest started. So he left Friday at noon and got the J'ville in time to meet Karlee and the rest of his family at a Halloween Fall Festival. Karlee had a great time as Supergirl and she was very excited to see her daddy. They enjoyed spending time together but I don't' think Ken enjoyed the ballgame too much!! Kendall, the twins and I stayed home with my mom. Kendall was Raggedy Ann for Halloween - it was the cutest costume - she loved the hat! My cousin Kerry came out and we dressed the twins in their Halloween onesies and went trick-or-treating at a few houses in our neighborhood. After Kendall got a sucker at the first house, she was not interested in getting out of her stroller and going to any more houses so we can home. She LOVED opening the door for all the kids that came to our house. She would shriek and run to the door every time the doorbell would ring.

House Update: The new addition is coming along very smoothly. They have been painting this week and the cabinet guy is coming to install the vanity in the girls' bathroom as well as the cabinets in my scrapbook room. The trim guys should start on Monday, then flooring will be next. From the outside, you can hardly tell that it is an add on - the brick guys did an amazing job and so did the painter. Ken still assures me it is on schedule to be finished by Christmas.

Skinny Minnie & Roly Poly: The twins are identical. We know for sure because they shared a placenta - this could only happen if they were identical. (This is also the only way they could have TTTS). However, because their weights are so different it is pretty easy to tell them apart - there is a "small one" and a "big one" (a.k.a. Skinny Minnie and Roly Poly). Kamryn is the bigger of the two and weighs about 8 pounds. Kourtney is smaller and weighs 6 pounds 11 1/2 ounces. Kamryn's face is much fuller where as Kourtney's chin is a little more pointy. They have many of the same mannerisms and they sleep the same way - even down to how they hold their hands. But, they are already starting to have their own little personalities. I can't wait to see how they will look and act as they get older.

I hope that catches you up a little on some of the things that have been going on. In the midst of all of this, we have been trying to adjust to life with "four under five". I have had the twins by myself quite a bit and it is not too bad - I have managed so far. I have even done the twins and Kendall by myself - a little tougher but still not too bad. I have yet to try all four by myself - I am not totally crazy!!! I am feeling good and I hope to start driving again sometime this weekend. I will post pictures and more twin info soon.