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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Wow – I remembered my password and everything.  Hi.  I’m not even sure if people still read this or subscribe to it.  But, on this blizzard-y day I felt drawn to come back and jot down some things as I reflect on experiences of this time three years ago.

Three years.  It seems so far.  Yet, it also feels like yesterday we were keeping vigil at the NICU praying, wishing, hoping, that there would be a positive outcome from all of this.  For 100 and 142 days.

The third birthday was hard for me – harder than their second and I haven’t entirely figured out why.  Maybe, because of all the assessments they were put through while ending Early Intervention services and looking to see what further would be needed, I had to relive the gory details of my pregnancy, their birth, and their entire medical history?  Is it possibly because THREE is just so different than two?  That they’re little humans now with opinions (lots of them), words, feelings, and personalities?

Or, it seems, that each year has been a specific theme or category.  Year one was definitely “survival“.  It went by in such a blur, you could barely take a second to breathe, and at the end of it we felt like we had run a marathon.  It is awful to admit but the first year of memories is not very clear.  I think we lived on adrenaline and coffee.  I actually don’t know how we all came out of it alive.  But we did and I think we did a decent job of it.

Year two was “stability“.  We survived the first year, routines were getting set in place, it was getting easier in some ways but challenging in others.  But, for the most part, we finally felt like we knew what we were doing.  Other life challenges came up but the kids continued to steer the course and check the boxes of major milestones like crawling, walking, and first sounds.

Year three I’d classify as “change“.  Developmentally, the difference between them at their second birthday and them at their third birthday is mindblowing.  When they were diagnosed around two with speech delays, I was crushed.  Even though I knew there was a delay going on – I didn’t realize just how frustrating it was for the kids.  Their minds had so much they wanted to communicate and they couldn’t.  We got them into speech therapy and worked with them at home with signs, pictures, and the like.  Progress was made and both were discharged with 6-8 months of starting – and now, they’re consistently using phrases and their most recent assessments have them well within the average range (and a little above) for their age.  Colton literally went from having ZERO words on his second birthday to testing within average and above average for receptive and expressive language.  Amazing.  A good friend had told me when we got the speech delay diagnoses that I would be shocked at the difference between two and year when it comes to communication.  At that time I couldn’t see the forest through the trees, but she was SO right.  Once it clicked, it snowballed and their language exploded.  Miss Keltie also tested out of Early Intervention services in June – so she, essentially, was caught up to her peers by 2 1/2.  Colton remained in mostly for his low core tone and to continue to reinforce other gross motor and fine motor skills.  Their personalities evolved, too – Colton continue to grow his affinity for trains, trucks, and anything that moves.  Keltie is really into music and art.  Keltie had an accessory added, and then taken away.  She was diagnosed with strabismus in both eyes (eye turning in) just after her second birthday.  We tried glasses for a few months but it didn’t help and she ended up having double strabismus surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.  The surgery was an absolute success (and I was an absolute wreck about it) and as of now she doesn’t need glasses and her vision is good.  Other changes happened as well – I got a new job.  One that has me going to an office – so after 7 years of working from home and 9 years with the same company, I made the decision to try something different.  It was time and I needed a change of pace.  I was traveling a lot and the kids were reacting poorly to me being away.  So, in November I took a new role and we have been settling into a new routine of me working in an office outside of the home.  It was very bittersweet, though.  So many of my colleagues there supported us through this journey and never questioned my commitment to my work when dealing with the kids in the hospital and post NICU.  I will forever be grateful for the love and support I received and that is why I miss the people I worked with terribly.  However, the work/life balance with my new job is much better for me and I am truly happy with my decision to leave and I think the kids enjoy having more of me and my attention, too.

Speaking of the year of change, since Early Intervention services stop at 3, both kids were assessed for the developmental preschool in town.  It was three weeks of assessments (once a week).  Keltie was assessed for speech only and Colton was assessed for speech, Occupational Therapy (OT) and Physical Therapy (PT).  At the conclusion of the assessments, we met with the school and the therapists and got the news that both kids were accepted into the program!  Keltie was accepted as an “at risk” model peer.  Basically, she is caught up to her actual age and peers in all assessment areas.  But, due to her severe prematurity, she is at risk of falling behind.  This way, teachers and staff will keep a close watch on her and we can run any interventions that may be necessary before it would get to a point where an untrained eye would notice (i.e., us).  We think this will be amazing for her – especially when it comes to routine, playing with other kids, and transitions.  Keltie struggles a lot with transitions.  She was a model peer in the developmental playgroup through Early Intervention and often had to be pulled out.  Not much of a role model, Keltie…  I’m really hopeful for this program for her and think it can only do even more to support her continued development and growth.

Colton was also accepted.  He will receive therapies for all three areas – even though speech tested on par and above average, there are concerns about his volume and endurance.  They feel a lot is related to his low core tone, so they’ll work in sync with PT on how to boost his speech.  OT will continue to focus on maturing some of the emerging skills he has and PT is going to be the hardest work in also maturing some emerging skills and working to strengthen his core and increase his use of both sides of his body.  We are super excited – although it is difficult to hear that one of your children still isn’t completely caught up after three years.  But, we remind ourselves that it could have been worse.  So much worse.  If all they need are these boosts here and there – throw as much services at them as we can.

So next week, my once micropreemies who weighed less than 2lbs a piece will be saying goodbye to us.  They’ll be dropped off at preschool with their backpacks (personalized from LL Bean, of course) and a world of opportunity in front of them.  For 2.5 hours two days a week, they’ll be in the hands of others and not in our home – a new adventure to them and an anxiety ridden experience for us parents.  I am excited, though, to see what this experience will do for them and all they will learn.  I am so grateful for access to these services and know we are lucky to have this opportunity for Colton and Keltie.  I am the most grateful for two smart, beautiful, thriving “threenagers” – even with all of the sass, frustration, and toddler drama that comes along with it.  I think year four will have a lot to offer them – and our whole family. I’m excited!

2015 Twin Pics

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It’s that time of year again!  We are working on building our 2013 March for Babies team that honors Colton and Keltie and helps provide money towards research that helps other babies like them.  Their team, Half Baked Crusaders, was small but mighty last year and we are hoping to make it even bigger and better!

Last year, they were itty bitty.  Colton was just released from the NICU after 142 days.  We had to bring his SpO2 monitor and portable oxygen with us just in case he had a spell.  Those days seem like so long ago as we see him now big, strong, and mobile!  I also got to kick off the March for Babies efforts with my employer, Sears Holdings Corporation, by telling our story and inspiring all of the associates at Kmart to ask our customers for donations.  It was an honor and something I was proud to do.

So – what are you doing on Sunday, June 23rd?  Please consider joining our team and walking with us along the beautiful Cape Cod Canal in support of the March for Babies.  You can easily join our team by visiting the team website:  http://www.marchforbabies.org/team/t1947387

If you don’t live near us and can’t walk, please consider donating to our team through the website shown above.  All of your donations are tax deductible.  Honor Colton and Keltie and all they have overcome to be the thriving little people that they are today by donating to a cause that will forever be important to them and our family.  If you own or know someone who owns a business in the South Shore of MA or Cape Cod area – please contact me about being a family team sponsor and the advertising opportunities that come with donations of $100, $250 $500, $750, or $1000.  These family team sponsor donations help our team reach our goals, as well as helping to promote your business locally. Each sponsorship will receive a 18×24” sign to display along the walk- with your business name, level of sponsorship, and our Family Team name.  A great way to support a great cause- and get some advertising around the community!

Please consider supporting Half Baked Crusaders – and we’d love to have our local friends and family join us on Sunday, June 23rd!

2012 Half Baked Crusaders Team!

2012 Half Baked Crusaders Team!

Mother's Day Kmart

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Based on Daddy’s schedule, we had their birthday party a little early last Sunday.  As previously mentioned, it was really small due to the risk of germs and RSV to the twins.  Even in taking the precautions we do, both have managed to get pneumonia.  Hearing your preemie struggle to breathe again is enough to make you even crazier. 

Our immediate family gathered to hang out with Colton and Keltie and celebrate their year of strength and happiness.  We got catering from Mamma Mia’s and it was delicious – chicken parm and baked ziti with salad and rolls.  We ordered their cake from Guilty Bakery – they did an amazing job using the whale theme (which I think we have used to the nth degree and will be retiring it going into their second year haha).  We will absolutely use both places again for their Christening in the Spring and their big Unbirthday party this summer!  Colton and Keltie both LOVED their first cupcakes – Colton ate every last inch of his (no surprise there, big guy) and Keltie had fun with hers until she realized she was sticky haha.  We swooped them up after they had their fun and put them both in the tub and changed them into their Patriots gear to cheer on Wes Welker and the rest of the team!  All in all, it was a great day to celebrate the miracles that are these kids and to gather together as one big family. 

Party time!

Party time!

Birthday2

Mmmmm yummy!

Patriots

Go Patriots!

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The holiday season came and left very quickly – almost as fast as the 5 hour shopping spree I went on to get all the shopping done I could prior to the holiday.  We took Colton and Keltie to pick out their first tree – not sure how much they liked it but it was a warmer “winter” day, so we took advantage.  Tall and skinny – the way we like our trees!  Because it’s such a small world, we ran into one of their NICU roommates while at the tree place!  He was a cutie and, from what I’ve learned, parents of cute babies tend to introduce themselves and inquire about such babies.  So that is when we got into the typical conversation of how old they are “well, they’re technically almost 11 months but they were micropreemies so they’re really 7 1/2 months” and about how they were in the NICU.  Well, this little guy was in the SSH NICU as well because of blood sugar issues.  Ahh, I thought to myself, this is one of the “fatty patatties” that we had as rotating roommates in the Party Pod.  When we said their names, they immediately perked up – they were 3 day residents in the Party Pod as well!!  It was funny, we all got a good chuckle out of it and it was probably more memorable than the actual tree picking out for the twins. 

Christmas Eve we spent at my mom and stepdad’s house for their annual gathering.  It was fun to have the twins dressed up and playing with their oodles of new toys.  It also happened to be their 11 Month birthday!  Keltie had a blast with my uncle’s glasses.

Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Eve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas we spent at my sister-in-law’s with the Allan family and Grandy.  It was a wonderful day and once again the kids got spoiled with lots of new toys.  It’s been almost a month and we still don’t know where we are going to put everything!

Since then, we have worked harder on their playroom.  I say “we” but really it was Chris and his Mom and Dad while I was away in Chicago on business.  We went through and pulled out all of their “baby” toys to make room for their new stuff, hung the TV on the wall, got a bookcase to hold all their books and toys, and took out the Pack N Play.  I can’t believe that they’re too “old” for their play mats and things we have used daily over the last 6 months!  It is nice, though, to have a space dedicated to them and all of their things.  They really enjoy having the freedom to roll around and play with new toys that capture their attention.

From the developmental side, they both have had a boom but especially Keltie.  Three weeks prior to Christmas, we had PT come in to work with her on her arm strength.  About the day before Christmas, she started army crawling and sitting unassisted!  Just like she was in the NICU, as soon as we start rallying the troops she goes “oh you just need me to do X,Y and Z, I can totally do that” – typical Keltie.  So, as of their 11 month birthday, I had two unassisted sitters (still without protective reflexes so they do topple over sometimes) and one crawler.  They both started using consonant sounds as well – lots of dadadadadadada and mamamamamama and babababababa.  It’s pretty awesome!  We are still working on Colton crawling – his strength is there but he’s a lazy white boy who much prefers to roll everywhere he goes.

I've been everywhere, man...

I’ve been everywhere, man…

 

              

Who are these big kids?!

Who are these big kids?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health-wise, they’ve been good.  Well, up until they got pneumonia this week.  And passed it along to Mommy and Daddy.  Thanks, guys.  As of January 11th, Colton weighed 19lbs, 11oz and Keltie weighed 17lbs, 3oz.  They have their 12 month check up February 1st, so we’ll get all of the stats and percentiles then.  I can’t believe they’re almost a year old…it’s been the fastest and slowest year of my life. 

This past Sunday we had a very small birthday party for them with immediate family only because of germs and RSV.  And, even with all the precautions we take, they have still managed to come down with pneumonia.  So, if that’s any indication as to why I’m crazy about bringing them places, maybe you can understand it a bit more.  That celebration deserves its own post – so watch for that to come up next.  And – we’re coming into the one year anniversary of my pPROM and the delivery, so I am likely to use this blog to get some of those emotions out.  Stay tuned.

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I think it kind of goes without saying that we have an incredible amount to be thankful for this year.  Although not the joyous time I had expected when I gave birth, the end result has defied most odds and we now share our home with two healthy, happy, special babies who have brought more laughs and warmth to our house than we ever could have expected.

Thanksgiving was a whirlwind day – but a great one.  We started by bringing the twins to Chris’s cousin’s house for their annual tradition of skeet shooting in the field.  We go mostly to socialize (and enjoy an adult beverage or two) and it was nice to have them out in the fresh air.  They weren’t even bothered by the noise of the gun!  After about an hour, we headed back home to get ready for the arrival of our immediate families who were all bringing pieces of what would become our wonderful Thanksgiving feast!  I asked to give the blessing and choked up doing so – I’ve been a bit of an emotional mess lately but all for good reason.  These babies truly astonish me with how big they are, how well they’re doing, and the love that grows in my heart for them every.single.day. 

Colton and Keltie loved all the attention they got throughout the day and enjoyed their first helpings of mashed potatoes and turkey, along with some squash.  Surprisingly, Keltie was more “hands on” with her food than Colton was – he had Grammie shoveling spoonfuls of potatoes and was happy with that thankyouverymuch.  After everyone left, we headed over to Chris’s other cousin’s house to have a quick visit with some family we didn’t see earlier in the day.  Many hadn’t met them yet and were so surprised to see how big they’ve become since we sent out their birth announcements at 6 weeks old! 

It was a wonderful day full of lots of gratitude.  I’m smiling now remembering our table full of food, family, and love.  It was so nice to look around at everyone and see our beautiful babies in their highchairs, joining in on the celebration.  I am so grateful Chris was home to experience it as well.  These first holidays are such precious events – Christmas is up next!

We have never been so thankful!

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Mommy is dealing with a house full of yuck.  Daddy is down and out with some sort of summer flu and the twinfants were taken to the pedi yesterday and confirmed to have summer colds.  And Mommy woke up this morning with a head full of yuck and a sore throat.  Fun times around here!  Hearing my snotty nosed little babies cough like the dickens and sneeze like crazy truly hurts my heart.  It’s not like they understand how to blow their nose and all you can really do is keep them elevated and saline their nose.  It also started my head spinning even more about the upcoming winter months and the big, scary threat of RSV.

What is RSV?  Well, I happen to have some information to share about it and I hope it also sheds light into how we will be handling the twins and visits starting in October.

RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus and if you’ve never heard of it you are not alone.  You see, RSV is essentially the common cold.  Most children have actually had it by the age of 2 and suffer no more than anyone else with a cold.  Unfortunately, for preemies it means a lot more.  Preemies are at the highest risk for severe complications such as pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and other sometimes fatal complications.  Colton and Keltie were born premature, had low birth weights, and are twins which put them in an even more elevated risk group for contracting RSV and suffering severe complications.  Here is a good comparison example of a full term baby’s lungs vs. a preemie baby’s lungs:

If lungs were trees…full term baby on the left and preemie baby on the right.

“When children are born prematurely (before 36 weeks of gestation), their organs are not as prepared as those of full term children to handle functioning in the outside world. As a result, the most important bodily functions become circulation, breathing air effectively and efficiently, and carrying oxygen to the organs.

Premature birth interrupts the final stages of normal lung development. If lungs were to be represented as an upside-down tree, the lungs of a full-term baby would be fully branched with many leaves. The lungs of a premature baby would look like a simple tree or sapling and would be very rudimentary, with only a few branches and leaves. Since the body counts on those branches to breathe, a simple tree cannot function as well as a fully developed tree.

The illustration graphically shows how the lungs of a premature baby differ from a full-term infant and why a disease such as Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) can be so serious. A premature baby’s lungs are underdeveloped and cannot fight an infection such as RSV as well as a full-term baby’s can.”

– Alan Cohen, MD, FAAP, FCCP – Pediatric Pulmonologist

RSV season in our area typically runs October through April.  During that time, we will be taking extra precautions to ensure we protect Colton and Keltie as much as possible.  When we took them each home from the hospital, we promised them we would do all we could and sacrifice whatever is necessary to ensure they never have to go back.  As you can imagine, we take this promise very seriously as we feel their 100 and 142 day stays were enough for one lifetime. 

How is RSV spread?  It is passed through physical contact, airborne through a cough or sneeze, or by touching an infected object.  Colton and Keltie are in the stage of putting anything and everything in their mouth, so that last part is critical.  The virus can live up to six hours on your hands and up to twelve hours on objects!

Some of you may come from the stance of “if they get sick, it helps build immunity” but in our case that is not what we want.  Because they were born premature, they lack some of the strength in their immune system to fight off illnesses like a full term baby could.  As mentioned above, to you or me or even someone else’s full term baby – this is simply a cold.  But to Colton and Keltie, it could mean a readmission to the hospital or even something worse. 

Unfortunately, we will not be attending many events as a family during the RSV season this year (holidays will likely be our exceptions).  Because of their breathing issues early on, our pediatrician has indicated that their lungs remain fragile up until two years of age (adjusted).  We will also ask that all visitors follow similar precautions that they were so kind to do when visiting Colton and Keltie in the NICU such as:

1 – When you arrive, please wash your hands and use hand sanitizer provided prior to handling the babies.

2 – For those who visit or handle them often, we are asking that your strongly consider getting both the flu and Tdap shots.  Pertussis is another huge concern for us and with the ill-informed anti-vaccine movement, it is reaching epidemic levels in some areas.

3 – Please refrain from visiting if you are currently sick and have not been symptom-free for at least 5 days, if you live with someone who is sick, and / or have been in close contact with someone who is sick.

4 – If you smoke, we ask that you change your clothing and refrain from smoking prior to visiting.

5 – If you are parents to a baby or toddler, please refrain from bringing them to our house during RSV season.

We hope this helps explain RSV and our winter worries.  Here are additional resources on RSV:

RSV Tracking System:  Find up-to-date information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about RSV outbreaks by state, region, or the entire US.

RSV FAQs

We strongly encourage visitors and outings through the end of September, so please let us know if you’d like to make plans to see us! 

Coming up next – our 7 month birthday and some new milestones and health updates!!!

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Wow – this has been seriously neglected and I don’t even know where to start.  I will do a general update and then post separate updates on Colton and Keltie either tonight or tomorrow. 

Last Tuesday was Colton and Keltie’s half birthday! 

 

They are doing so well and it was so nice to have a birthday with them both home.  I still can’t believe it has been six months – it has felt like the longest and shortest six months of our lives.  Having them home has truly transformed our life – but in such a great way.  My tan is not nearly as dark as it usually is this time of year, I am using a lot of consealer to cover the dark circles, and I’ve only been to the beach once – but to play with them every day and see the smiles on their faces is something I cherish more than sleeping in on the weekends and toes in the sand.  We have enjoyed bringing them out and about to family and friends and having others enjoy meeting them and seeing their beautiful faces. 

The dogs have adjusted well to having two babies in the house.  Lucy is more motherly and will sit near them and will be around during feedings in their nursery.  Cooper couldn’t be bothered – in fact, I’ve put one of the babies near him a few times and he high tails it out of the room!  But, it’s better than being aggressive and so our family of six is doing just fine living under one roof!

We have managed to get a decent routine down with them – eat, play, sleep every three hours.  We do try and keep them awake for the few hours prior to their last feeding (which is around 10:00pm) so they will sleep better at night.  Keltie is the sleeper – she loves sleeping (and smiling!  Smiling is her favorite!) whereas her brother is hit or miss.  Sometimes the little chunka will get hungry and wake around 5:00am and other times he’ll sleep until 7:00 or 8:00am.  It’s amazing how much better you feel with just a little more sleep!  The first few weeks with Colton home was rough.  We were walking zombies.

We did manage to survive Chris’s shoulder / collarbone injury.  He was out of commission for quite some time, but was able to help with Keltie since she is lighter and less…work.  Colton is a bit more…work.  But we love him just the way he is!!  Okay, maybe we’d love him slightly more if he didn’t spit up all over everything all.the.time.  😉  Chris went back to work about two weeks ago and I returned around the same time as well.  That was hard for both of us – but it is what it is.  I can honestly say that work is a LOT easier than being a FT mom!  I give SAHMs a ton of credit for all they do!  I did have a hard time accepting that I didn’t get a “normal” maternity leave or a full 12 weeks to stay with the babies and bond with them at home.  Just another “loss” that I have had to work through internally.  I am forever grateful, though, that I was able to take what I did and enjoyed spending days taking walks along the Cape Cod Canal as a family, dipping them in the pool for the first, second, and third time, their first July 4th, and fun evenings playing at home.  We also had a lot of doctors appointments and those, thankfully, have slowed down. 

Overall, it’s been busy to say the least but we love it.  It’s chaotic, but rewarding.  My love for them grows every day – every second of every day.  To look at the progress they have made is astonishing to me – and to know Chris and I made these beautiful beings is simply amazing.  They are the strongest little people in the world – just to reflect on what they went through to get to where they are today bring tears to our eyes.  And we still treasure every milestone they have, both big and small.  I don’t think that will ever wear off.

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