We Made It.

A year ago today, I was laying in a hospital bed with my arms wrapped around my belly. The contractions were coming every 10 minutes and I knew today would be the day. I was unusually calm. I had seen enough moms roll through the Antepartum Unit, and I remember that feeling of panic that would overtake the room as their babies would come too soon. I had spoken to the neonatologists – the experts, who went through with me all that it would mean for my babies to be born at this time – all that they would need to survive. No expectations were given, only odds, as these babies all have a mind of their own. A lot of unknown. But, here I was, calm. As I hugged my belly, I leaned down and told them, “if you’re ready to meet me… I’m all in.” I knew my body was no longer the place for them. They needed more, something I couldn’t give.

Fast forward to today, and here we are, a family of 6. As I write this, my babies are tucked up in their beds, having their morning naps. Completely content and asleep, they are telling me they are happy, and have everything they need. There is nothing more comforting in this world. It has been a wild ride to say the least, but as I look back, I know how blessed we have been through the whole thing.

The missing pieces of our family’s puzzle have arrived, and they’ve let us know it.

Our Henry – born at 1:35pm on this day last year, weighing only 2 lbs. 15 oz.

Henry

Our Henry – now, weighing 15 lbs. 4 oz.

Henry

Henry is a firecracker. With piercing blue eyes and 4 adorable teeth, he’s a heart-melter. Although, the last thing he feels the need to be, is a heart-melter. Our busiest baby, Henry is much too busy to snuggle up and flirt – he’d much rather flash you a toothy-smile from across the room. He’s always on a mission, places to go people to climb. Our explorer, Hailey calls him, out to conquer the world. He has been meeting his milestones all ahead of schedule, and before his brother – something we weren’t sure would happen after his PVL diagnosis (see article here: Periventricular Leukomalacia). This is still something “on the table”, to see how or if it will affect him, and he will be followed closely until about age 3. But, there’s no arguing, he’s perfect.

Our Ethan – born at 1:45 pm on this day last year, weighing 3 lbs. 7 oz.

Ethan

Our Ethan – now, weighing 14 lbs. 12 oz.

Ethan

Ethan is our soft-hearted soul. Taken along for the ride after Henry’s water broke, we maintain that Ethan would have been much happier staying inside my belly for as long as he could. “The serious one”, Ethan has heart-wrenching hazel eyes, and the same 4 teeth as his brother (although, his smiles are still “gummier” than his brothers… gotta love them gummy smiles). He is mama’s boy – and I’m so thankful for that. Our resident “ham”, he will stare at you – waiting for eye contact, and then proceed to either play peekaboo or tilt his head to the side in an attempt to “look cute”… anything he can do to get you to smile. The bulk of his first year has been spent by my side, perfectly content to be within my line of sight, with a hand on my knee or an arms length away. It’s been just recently he’s started venturing out with his brother, the two of them becoming quite the pair – if Ethan’s not with me, he’s with Henry.

My boys

Today, I’m a mom of 1 year old twin boys… a mom of 4 beautiful children. Wow. How lucky am I?

Parenting is the strangest phenomenon. To feel THIS much love for something … it’s overwhelming… and to feel THIS much love for 4 somethings – it’s unreal. I have to pinch myself everyday. Being a mom has been the biggest challenge of my life. But I can’t think of a challenge more  rewarding than this. If I’m going to sacrifice anything in this life, let it be for them, my kids. Then I know it will be worth it.

I am so thankful to have been chosen to be the mother of these two amazing boys. They have taught me so much about strength, perseverance, sacrifice and love in SUCH a short year. I am anxious and excited to see what’s in store for them next, hopeful to be along for the ride for as long as I am able.

Here’s a song that I heard on the radio the other day, and basically burst into tears as I instantly pinned it to my love for my kids… It sums up everything that I feel about them. As a mama, we choose to put our kids first, whether we realize it or not, it’s actually a choice. A choice I would make any day of the week. I’m NOT perfect and my kids will know this. But I’m here, looking to learn from my mistakes. I know I’m unprepared for what the future holds, but I’m willing to take it as it comes in the best way that I can. When my children think of me when they’re all grown up with children of their own – whether I’m around or not – I want them to think of love. Above all else, I want to leave a “lifelong love letter” to my kids.. and not just the hug/kiss, tell them I love them kind of love… the hard kind – the doing what’s best for them as much as it hurts me kind of love.

Happy birthday my smart boys!

I love you more than you or I will EVER be able to understand!

Want to read our story from the beginning? Start here: pProm with Twins

One Doctor and A Closed Curtain – Periventricular Leukomalacia

I mentioned in my last post how much I enjoyed hearing how well my babies were doing. What I didn’t mention was how awful it feels when you hear they aren’t doing well. It doesn’t come from a whole crowd of doctors and nurses standing around your babies… it comes from one doctor and a closed curtain.

My first NICU post relayed that both Henry and Ethan had had head ultrasounds at 1 week old and that both of them were suffering from a Grade 1 brain bleed (Grade 1 being the smallest grade of bleeding – small victory). Super common in premature babies, the last trimester is spent developing the blood vessels in the brain, meaning premature babies have very weak blood vessels that are prone to rupture. Alas – because of this – they would have a follow-up head ultrasound in a week’s time. This is the part that I didn’t previously mention.

I distinctly remember the moment the doctor came to talk to me. I just happened to be pumping (so glamourous) and she told me she could come back to talk to me later. Naive me, I figure, no big deal – I’m covered, and so many people walk in and out as I’m either feeding my babies or pumping, whatever she had to tell me she could tell me while I’m “in the moment”. She proceeded to close the curtain and pull up a chair.

The doctor filled me in on the good news first – Ethan’s ultrasound looked as it was expected to look, the bleed was resolving on it’s own and his brain was developing beautifully.

Then came the bad news – unfortunately for me, she didn’t give me the option of “do you want the good news or the bad news first?” – I think I’m the type of person who would always choose the bad news first, every time.

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The Reality of Having a Premature Baby.

Every NICU family is going through something that is incredibly unique. And yet: Every NICU family is going through something that is incredibly similar.

An amazing community.

We are so incredibly blessed. Throughout our NICU journey, there were so many “little victories”. There were so many positives, that the negatives were outweighed completely. Having my babies at 29 weeks, wishing to have held onto them until they were 32, 33, 34 weeks inside my belly, I was meeting these incredible women – wishing they had been lucky enough to have held on to their babies until my 29 weeks. Ethan and Henry had their struggles, but they overcame most without intervention. Others aren’t as lucky.

I wanted to recognize the understanding that there are so many others out there going through so much more than I had to endure, than I will ever have to endure. Yes – we have gone through a lot, an experience unique to us and I have been praised for my strength throughout. But, if anything, my eyes have only been opened to this alternate reality that has always existed, one that I’ve just never taken the time to appreciate.

It’s overwhelming and humbling – in the same breath. I am unbelievably grateful. The reality of having twins has been completely overshadowed by this need for them to be ok. Give me sleepless nights, give me crying babies, as long as my babies are healthy – life is perfect.

I wanted to include this episode of Hank Azaria’s documentary “Fatherhood”. Caleb and I have spent a lot of time wishing we had taken more pictures, more video. This episode really brings us right back – his little boy being born around the size that Henry was.

http://on.aol.ca/video/s1–e1—preg-and-nant—fatherhood-518085829

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hank Azaria sums it up so completely when he says, “even if your baby is alright, which thank God he was, all around you are other babies not alright.”

 

 

Life in the NICU – Part 2

Read about our NICU experience from the beginning with: Life in the NICU – Part 1

I should have entitled this post – “Chronicle of Small Victories” – because that’s really what it is. There were so many small victories leading up to the big victory of our boys coming home, my heart is so full reliving them all.

Just as I was getting into a routine at the hospital, we were told they would be moved. As of March 5th, 2014, they were no longer under Level III care and  would have to move to a lower level facility to free up space for two other babies in need. I couldn’t be there to accompany them on their trip across the city, but I called the new hospital as soon as I could to hear how their trip went, and Caleb and I headed down there to get them “settled in”.

The next time either of those babies were moved, it was to go home.

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