one year ago // today

One year ago A&R were just 5 weeks old.
One year ago we were just getting into the routine of the NICU.
One year ago we were coming to terms with our news lives as parents of a child with Hydrocephalus. 
One year ago our two pound child was recovering from his first surgery.
One year ago that child was well enough to be placed into my arms for the first time. 
 He was so tiny and fragile.  I was so, so scared.  When they put him in my arms I remember trembling, for fear of hurting him.  I closely studied his monitor, making sure all his levels stayed in the safe range, so that I could enjoy this moment I so badly longed for.  I still remember how his tiny hand felt on my collarbone.  I remember hearing his fast breath and his baby sounds, so close to my heart.  After a few minutes he snuggled in and fell asleep.  He was home.  Back where he belonged.  My body only carried him for 5 1/2 months, but my hands would carry him forever.  
Today he is big.
Today he is strong.
Today he is everything I want him to be.  

Happy Halloween everyone!


parenting fail: one

The boys are at such a fun age.  While they don't walk or talk, they are really growing into their personalities and every day I discover something new that makes them laugh.  

Enter parenting fail number one.

Ryan's two bottom teeth recently emerged, and one day I decided it would be a good idea to let him bite my nose.  I know I'm weird.  No need to point that out.  The first time he did it he laughed so hard I thought his little stomach would burst.  So I recorded it.  See below.  And please disregard my awkward feet in the background.

The next day I was holding him in my arms and all of a sudden his little birdie mouth opens up and he tries to eat my nose!  Again, laughter erupts and I seriously cannot get enough of it.  I continue with this little game of ours whenever I am craving some hilarity from my son.  One time he bit really hard, but I still thought it was the cutest thing in the world.

Fast forward to last week when my friend came to visit me at work with her two adorable children in tow.  We're sitting in my office chatting about her recent vacation and looking at some photos, when all of a sudden she cries out in pain.  Turns out, her adorable toddler tried to take a chunk out of her knee.  This, of course, is not acceptable behavior so when it continues my friend initiates a time out.  Poor little girl cried like it was the end of the world.  

This is when it dawned on me that maybe I shouldn't be teaching Ryan to bite me.  Needless to say, I've stopped encouraging his nose biting and my world is a little less happier.  Ahh, such is the life of a parent.

What is your most memorable parenting fail?


lucky number 13

Today, my sweets, you are 13 months old.  Time just seems to just be flying right past us.  Our lives are changing on a daily basis, and sometimes it's hard to keep up.  Between the meals and messes, bath times and play times, diaper changes and lullabies...I have to force myself to slow down and enjoy all these moments because pretty soon you won't want mommy (or daddy) to do anything for you.  

Aiden, you so badly want to crawl.  You've been working on this huge milestone for quite some time and each day you get closer and closer to being mobile.  Lord help us, because when you do start crawling, you will destroy anything that's in your path.  That's just your nature.  And we will nurture it. 

Ryan, you're practicing your sitting skills each and every day.  And pretty soon you'll be sitting up and viewing the world from a different angle without a problem.  You're coming up with new sounds almost daily, and your love of laughter grows by the minute.  Your smile makes my heart melt and you quickly remind me why the world goes round whenever I have a moment of impatience or sadness.  

We've been working on 'finger' foods, though you haven't quite realized that you can feed yourselves.  It's funny:  you will put everything else in your mouths, but if it is actually meant to be eaten it only ends up on the floor....or on your face.

Life with twins is such a wild ride, one that I never thought I would be a part of.  But here we are, on this crazy journey together.  The four of us.  Two babies to snuggle, to bathe, to feed, to tickle, to rock, and to love.  Sometimes I can't help but feel torn.  Who do I give my attention to?  Who will be more patient and wait for their turn?  Who needs me the most at this very moment?   I never want either of you to feel second.  You are both my number one, and I hope that I am adequate at showing you that as you grow and evolve into young men.  You were born with your best friend right by your side and I wish for you to always be reminded of that whenever you feel alone or scared. 

One year ago today, Ryan had his first of many surgeries.  We were so different then.  So young and naive.  So unsure of what our family would look like today.  And as I reflect on the feelings I felt that day, I can't help but smile (and of course, cry) because today we are a family of four.  So full of life and love, and so blessed to have each other.  

Please note that Ryan is playing with Aiden's foot.  <3


at almost 13 months old

This happened yesterday.  Look how proud he is.  He knows he did something big, and it's only going to get better from here.  I'm so proud of you, Ryan.  Don't ever stop working hard for what you want. 


preemie power

At the suggestion of a fellow mom, I entered the boys into a Preemie of the Year contest.  The prize is a trip to Disney, yay!  The contest is being held by an organization called Hand to Hold, whose mission is to offer support and vital resources for parents of preemies.  Voting starts today at noon CST, so 1pm for all you east coasters.  You can vote once a day.  As a thank you for your (daily) vote, I leave you with these:

clockwise from top left:  Aiden watching Baby signing time wearing his cool hat that prevents him from taking his hearing aids off;  Ryan spending some time in his bumbo seat;  Aiden choosing a toy out of our toy bin;  Ryan flirting with Mommy instead of sleeping at 9pm.

They posed for a photo, and then the 'after' happened :)
 Don't forget to vote by following this link:  http://promoshq.wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/296773/voteable_entries/59634291





When I was on hospital bed rest, and especially after the babes were born, I searched the internet for preemie success stories to cling to as I prayed for my children to get better.  Inevitably, during my search for hope, I stumbled upon stories of loss.  Stories that, when you read them, your heart felt like it would burst from all the pain you felt for a person you never even met.  Stories that made you cry so many tears that there weren't any left for your own suffering.  No one knows why these things happen.  And no matter how long we try to understand loss, we never will.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  

The following is a quote I stumbled upon, posted by a fellow preemie mom.  I thought it was so beautiful and so badly wanted to share it here.

"Please light a candle tonight in memory of all babies who were carried but never held; held but didn't get to stay; and stayed, but were taken way too soon."



Both boys are pretty much over their colds/ear infections.  We go back to the pedi on Tuesday for an ear check.  Hopefully all is clear.

Ryan has officially recovered from his surgery.  Our follow up visit with the surgeon went well and he wants to see both boys in November.  This is Ryan's incision.  It's already healing beautifully, and although this was Ryan's third shunt surgery he will only have one scar because Dr. Mittler has always used the same incision site.  Unfortunately they shaved his little head, and now he has a large bald spot.  We were thinking of just shaving his entire head to start from scratch...or maybe a mohawk.  What do you think?

 Mr. Aiden took his first ride in a supermarket shopping cart.  At first he held on for dear life, but then we gave him a Gatorade to play with and he relaxed a little.  And yes, he is wearing pajamas.  That's how we roll. 

Both boys tried out the big boy baby swings at the park the other day after our visit to the pedi.  They seemed to like it, although mama was a nervous wreck and thought they would fall out.  o_O

We spent the day shopping with Ciocia Aga and then came home for some snuggles on the couch.  We love Ciocia Aga <3

 Mama got a package full of delicious treats from her friend and Aiden thought he could get away with stealing her stash.  He's good at making himself look innocent. 



No, not the movie starring Sean Penn.  And no, not the milk you put in your cereal.  Breast milk.  I'm going to let you in on a preemie mom secret.  Breast milk is a huge deal for us.  Major.   

When the babies were taken from my womb (dramatic, I know), I didn't really think about breast feeding at that point.  I was far too depressed and a little too drugged up for it to even cross my mind.  Before the events of that day turned my world upside down, I fully planned on breast feeding the boys for at least a few months.  I even read books with titles such as, "Yes, You Can Breast Feed Twins!" and "The Womanly Art of Breast Feeding."  I was slightly obsessed. 

So when a lactation consultant showed up in my hospital room to um, 'check' my bewbies for milk, I was shocked to say the least.  Apparently, delivering the placenta triggers your body to make milk.  It doesn't matter whether or not your baby is full term, your body will do what it needs to do to nourish your baby.  Even more interesting, a preemie mom's milk is different than that of a full term mom.  Your body knows exactly what your baby needs in terms of nourishment and will produce just that.  

Rachel, the LC, talked to me a little bit about what I will be doing over the next few months.  She armed me with this huge, hospital grade pump.  And told me to...pump.  So I did.  At first I barely got a few drops, but by the time I was discharged from the hospital, I was bringing full mL's of milk down to the NICU for my babes.  This was the beginning of an era.  One that I like to call "Attached to the Pump".  Ok, I don't really call it that.  I just made it up now.  But let's pretend.

I went home and I immediately rented one of those hospital grade pumps from a pharmacy near my home.  From this day forward (or until I decided to quit), I would be pumping 6 times a day, every day.  I collected my milk into these little bottles provided by the NICU, and I brought them to my boys at every visit.  I even bought a pretty, colorful lunchbox so I could keep the milk on ice for the trip there. 

At first the kids were only eating like 10cc's per feeding.  So you can imagine that I quickly built a freezer stash.  I felt like a rockstar.  At one point I literally had like 300 ounces of breast milk in my freezer.  Yummy right?  Haha.  Eventually though, as the kids got older, they began eating more and I couldn't keep up.  Part of it was my fault because I didn't pump as often as I should have.  Alas, it's not very glamorous being hooked up to a pump for half an hour, multiple times a day.  Though not many things remain glamorous after becoming a mom.  

So...I pumped for exactly 5 months.  It was something, the only thing, that I could do to take care of my babies that were in the hands of complete strangers.  It was 'easy' when the kids were in the hospital, because all I had to do was pump, store, deliver.  Once Ryan came home, it got a little tougher because there was the whole taking care of a newborn thing.  We had a system though....Seamus would feed Ryan and I would pump.  It worked.  But then when Aiden came home, our system failed.  Now we had two kids to feed and then I had to pump.  Factor in the whole eating every three hours thing, and the fact that they took around 1/2 an hour to finish their bottle, it seemed like all I was doing was feeding a kid and pumping.  Nursing was out of the question because their bottles had to be fortified with formula to up the calorie count since their little lungs couldn't handle drinking large volumes of milk.  So I quit.  Just like that.  They recommend weaning, but I didn't really.  It was such a tough decision to quit, that I couldn't handle doing it slowly.  I had to rip it off like a bandaid. 

I still had some of my freezer stash, but I couldn't use it anymore because apparently my breast milk has too much lactase in it, and it quickly turns sour.  Don't ask me how I figured that one out.  Use your imagination.  

In an effort to preserve the memory of those early NICU days or in a pitiful attempt to hold on to something that I told myself I was unsuccessful at doing, I kept my freezer stash for months.  I couldn't stomach throwing it away.  I even added it to the boys' bathwater after reading that it's good for their skin.  They'll thank me for that later.  

Finally though, I decided it's time to get rid of it.  Time to start with a clean slate.  Put the NICU days behind us.  Not forget them (heck, if I wanted to forget them I wouldn't be blogging), but tuck them away, on the top shelf in a wooden box, only to be opened on days that we need a reminder of how lucky we are.  Days that we need to be humbled.  But not before taking a final photo.


rise & shine

I'm a morning person.  I haven't always been, but that changed when I really entered into adulthood.  Once I moved out of my parents' house and had more responsibilities, I guess I started waking up earlier to get a head start on all the crap that had to be done.  Gym, dishes, laundry, cleaning, food prep, etc.  I don't really mind waking up early as long as I have some coffee.  It's safe to say that I actually look forward to waking up so that I could have my coffee.  Yes, I love it that much.  The point is that me being a morning person really works well with this whole parenting thing.  Yes, I may fall asleep on the couch at 9 o'clock some nights, but I'm always willing to get up with the kids at 7...or 6:30...or 5:30...sigh.

This is how Ryan greets me every morning
It's not so bad.  Once I actually peel my eyelids open and get the kids from their cribs we make our way downstairs.  I've even perfected the art of carrying both boys down at the same time.  Some mornings are better than others.  Ryan has recently made it a habit to wake up at 3 or 5am for a snack, so those days are a little harder on me.  Anyway, our mornings are nice.  The house is quiet and the kids are happy.  They just slept for 12 hours so they're ready to play.  We set up shop on the living room floor - a big blanket and two boppy pillows and I tandem feed them.  Saves time.  Once they're done with their bottle we hang out on the floor to play for a while.  Toys strewn all across the floor.  Babies giggling and cooing.  Mama enjoying the last few sips of deliciousness.  It's really a sight to see.
Ryan telling me about last night's dreams

Aiden still practicing the art of sitting

Just hangin out
 After some time we get ready for 2nd breakfast.  Once you have kids, especially two, it seems like you're always feeding something.  These little monsters eat like every 2 hours these days, between their bottles and solids.  Keeps you on your toes.  We usually do oatmeal and some type of fruit.  This morning we ditched the oatmeal though, and in honor of it being Friday we did a mixture of apples & bananas.  The kids loved it.  They take like half an hour to eat two tablespoons of apple sauce and 1/4 of a banana, but hey, at least it keeps them occupied for a while.  


By this time the whining and eye rubbing starts.  You know what that means.  Nap time!  Nap time keeps everyone sane -  mommy, daddy & babies included.  We head upstairs, turn on the music player and try to go down for a nap.  Aiden will whine a bit but usually puts himself to sleep.  Ryan needs a little more coaxing.  These days bouncing his mattress works wonders.  Around this time, Papa wakes up and takes over until the afternoon.  Mama gets in the shower and hauls ass to work.  

I always hate leaving in the morning.  Sometimes being a working mom sucks.  You tend to feel like you're missing out on things, and then when you get home you feel guilty doing anything but hanging out with your babes, because you're already away from them for so long.  In all honesty, I know it's good for me to work and to go do something unrelated to babies sometimes.  I know it will keep me sane and in the end a happy mom = happy babies.  But knowing that does not take the guilt away.  You do what you gotta do to survive in this world and you come home and make the best of the time you have with your family.  Nothing else matters.  
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