I came across this post today and couldn't help but smile the entire time I read through it.  I've been following Rachael Kincaid's blog for a while and I absolutely adore her and her family.  It was her home birth that originally caught my attention.  I hadn't seen her post about finding out she was having twins before, and really, it couldn't have come at a better time.  

We are currently in the throws of some major sleep deprivation, a recovery from surgery, and last but not least, the flu.  Yes, Ryan has the flu.  My poor little dude.  

Anyway, Rachael's post  promptly brought me back to that crazy day in April 2011 when we found out we were having twins.  I was a little further than 6 weeks along and didn't have my first ultrasound scheduled until around three weeks later.  Unfortunately, a small scare brought me into my OB's office earlier than expected. 

We sat in the waiting room frightened and emotional, as the symptoms I was having made us believe that our baby might be in danger.  I cried the entire time the nurse took my blood pressure and asked me about my history.  When my OB walked in to the exam room, he quickly broke the ice with his joking demeanor and he told me not to worry.  This was the first time I had met him, and I knew to expect that he was quirky.  He did not disappoint.  

Before I go any further, I'd like to let you in on a little tidbit of truth to our baby making history.  The entire time we were trying to get pregnant, people would mention twins to me, saying they think we're going to have them.  Seamus was once even quoted saying he hopes we do have twins and that it would be cool.  o_O  I guess his wish came true.  

So, back to my ultrasound.  My doctor took a peak at the baby and quickly asked me, "Do you have a good heart?"  I was really confused by his question, (why the heck does that matter?!) but answered, "Yes, I do, why?".  Well, his answer was the shock of the century.  He said, "Because you're having twins!".  


I just about died right then and there.

I never laughed and cried so hard in my life.  Laughed because this had to be a joke.  Cried because I was relieved that our baby babies were ok.  Seamus may have cursed in the corner.  Haha.  It was surreal to say the least.  

From that day forward I knew we were meant for our little guys.  I entered a world that many wish to be a part of.  A world filled with weird questions from strangers.  Such as, "do they have different personalities?"  or "which one is the bad one?".  A world of double the diapers, double the crying, double the drool and double the love.  

Looking back, I think that is probably the happiest day of my life.  I hadn't given that day much thought until now.  It was the day our world changed forever.  And although we have encountered some tough times in the last 18 months, we wouldn't ever trade the cards life has dealt us for easier ones.  



Today, my boys are 17 months old.  Damn.  

I often call them babies, and quickly feel silly doing so because nothing about them is baby-like anymore.  At this point they have grown into little humans with likes & dislikes, opinions & protests, personalities & interests.  

A year ago they were so small, so fragile.  We were all just beginning to figure out how to navigate this new life as a family of four in our own home.  There were many sleepless nights, tons of tears, and a few too many dirty diapers.  But eventually we figured it out and having these two precious gifts in our lives has become our new normal. 

Today, we still have some sleepless nights, but for different reasons.  Development, sickness and surgery have all intruded our quiet nights. 

At 17 months Aiden waves bye-bye, plays peek-a-boo, will hand you an object if you ask for it, plays the drums on every single surface in the house, pinches his belly in the bathtub, dances to his favorite dvd, loves yogurt, bananas and french toast, says mama, bananas and uh oh, is almost walking, loves to climb the stairs, hates his high-chair, and has become the underdog of the bunch.  

Ryan has recently taken the role of bully in our house.  He used to be the timid one and Aiden would pick on him, but things have changed since Aiden had his surgery.  I am confident that things will be back to normal once Aiden fully recovers. 

After months and month of practice, Ryan sat up unassisted the other day for about 20 minutes.  All alone.  No boppy behind him.  No support from us.  All by himself.  His strength has improved so much since starting with a new PT a few months ago and he is becoming more and more active every day.  He loves to eat yogurt and applesauce.  He waves bye-bye and tries to clap his hands.  He randomly squeals.  He will feed you a puff if you ask him to.  And he smirks all day long.  He also kicks his arms and waves his feet if you lay him on his belly (on your lap) and ask him to swim.  My heart melts every single day.

These little monsters have invaded our lives and I feel like the luckiest mama in the world.  
Happy 17 months, boys.  You sure are a trip. 


four years

Four years ago, on a beautiful sunny day like today, I stood in front of my friends, my family and God, and promised to cherish, to honor and to nurture our love.  We've been through some tough times since that wonderful day.  We were different then.  Our priorities have changed.  Our outlook has changed.  And most importantly, our love has changed.  We've opened our hearts to each other more than ever before.  And we've opened our hearts to two little souls that need us in order to flourish and crave all that we give them.  

I never knew that this is where we'd end up.  But there is no where I would rather be.  And there is no one I would rather share this life with.  



Today we are 5 days post surgery.  
Today we are tired.
Tired, but thankful.

Waiting to be taken to the operating room (6:30 am)
Aiden's surgery went well.  It took about 3 hours and Dr. Staffenberg was very pleased with the outcome.  When Aiden awoke from the anesthesia, he was not a happy camper.  And that is putting it lightly.  Some things I did not realize and/or expect:  

1.  He is older than when he had his last surgery almost a year ago and therefore more aware of how is feeling.  He always handled anesthesia fairly well in the past and just needed some pedialyte and a good nap to get back to feeling normal.  This time he didn't follow suit. 

2.  He would need to re-learn how to breathe once they closed up his cleft.  He is used to having all this empty space between his palate and nose, and when they closed everything I'm sure it felt like he couldn't breathe.

So, when Aiden woke up he was struggling to breathe which we were assured was normal.  He had a lot of mucousy blood in his mouth and his lungs that seeped down during surgery.  He was too weak to cough everything up so we was wheezing and required some albuterol.  They also gave him around 5 doses to fentanyl to calm him down.  Every time he awoke he was screaming, crying and thrashing around.  He wasn't giving his body a chance to recover.  The problem was that the fentanyl wore off within like 10 minutes.  So after around 4 hours his doctors decided to put him on a continuous, but mild, sedative so that he could sleep and get the rest he needs. 

Aiden's tongue stitch (used to keep his tongue away from his palate for the first day post-surgery, pulse-oximeter used to measure the level of oxygen in his blood, and IV delivering fluids and medicine to his blood stream. 
After four hours in recovery, we were moved up to the PICU (since he was having a hard time recovering from anesthesia) and the sedative was hooked up.  He remained sedated for around 12 hours.  When I say sedated, I don't mean he was out of it.  He would wake every once in a while, but he was calm, cool and collected.  And most importantly his body was resting.  Once they discontinued the sedative, he was much happier.  Still very tired and clearly in pain, but not as angry at the world.

We spent the night in the hospital and waited for discharge the next day.  We had a sweet nurse for both of the day shifts who really went above and beyond her call of duty to make our stay a bit more bearable.  It was a bit of a struggle to get Aiden to drink fluids, since he was not allowed to have his bottle, but we squeezed some into him.  Finally, after what seemed like forever, we were given the ok to go home.  This news couldn't have come at a better time because Aiden was beginning to get a little stir crazy.  He is very mobile, and since he was hooked up to an IV, he wasn't allowed to leave the area near his hospital crib.  Needless to day, Aiden was very delighted to learn that we'd be going home.  

Yay!  We're going home!
His recovery hasn't been as rough as I imagined, but it's not a cake walk either.  Aiden has gone on a drinking strike because he can't have his bottle.  At this point, we are a little concerned about dehydration.  We've been pushing a lot of apple sauce and baby purees which have a high water content.  We've also been feeding him liquids using a syringe.  Actually, we've been sneaking liquids into his mouth when he's not looking.  He seems in good spirits most of the time and he is pretty energetic so we seem to be doing ok.  He's still not allowed eat his regular diet and he has to wear arm restraints so that he doesn't chew on his fingers and/or toys.  Overall, he's only really cranky when it's time to eat or sleep.  Eat, because he can't have his normal foods and he's not really allowed to feed himself.  And sleep because he can't get comfortable with the arm restraints.  

Aiden came home to a sweet bear from some dear friends of ours; playing with a ball; trying to sit on daddy's guitar; sleeping on his boppy pillow (the only way he can get comfy)
We've had a couple of bad nights in a row with little to no sleep, so last night my wonderful and selfless husband took over and let me sleep.  I slept a glorious 10 hours, and for the most part so did Aiden.  So we're feeling pretty good.  I can't really say the same for the other half of my house.  The hubs is running on empty and Ryan seems to be having some sympathy pains for his brother - going on a little bit of an eating strike himself.  

Tomorrow is our first post-op appointment with Dr. Staffenberg, so we're hoping for some good news and maybe some restrictions lifted.  The most important thing, though, is that the incision is healing properly and that no stitches have popped.  I think we should get a good report because Aiden hasn't had any fevers or bleeding from his mouth.  Fingers crossed.  

Something exciting that I want to mention:  the point of this surgery was to close Aiden's cleft in order to allow for normal speech development.  At 17 months old, Aiden's speech is probably at about a 9 month level.  He doesn't have many words or consonants for that matter, but he is vocal.  His cleft team once explained to me that because of the structure of his palate, he simply isn't able to produce any consonants besides "m", "n", "h" and "w".  As a result, when he tries to say the word banana, it comes out as "manana".

I'm proud to announce, that the other day when we were practicing our bananas, Aiden produced the "b" sound.  While he has a lot of speech therapy ahead of him, we are definitely headed in the right direction.  He's such a smart boy.  And my mama heart melts every time he tries to speak. 

Thank you all for your prayers and kind words as we prepared for and dealt with this surgery.  They worked.  


a little love for valentine's day

Happy Valentine's Day from A&R!

and some outtakes because this is what it's like to take photos of my kids these days

And since I'm already here, I'll take this opportunity to request some thoughts & prayers for Aiden.  Tomorrow he will have his cleft palate repair surgery.  It's a 3-4 hour procedure and they're going to be placing tubes in his ears as well because his original set has fallen out.  

Please pray for the surgeon's steady hands during the procedure, for our sanity during the 3 hour wait, and for as quick and painless a recovery as possible for little Aiden man!  

As always, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.



february eleventh

One year ago today, we would make our last trip to the NICU.
One year ago today, we bundled up our almost 5 month old and took him home to join his brother.
One year ago today, after 125 long and hard days in the hospital, Aiden came home and our family was complete. 

He spent most of those days unable to breathe on his own.
Unable to eat on his own.
Unable to find comfort in our touch or our voice.
Unable to be what every baby should be.

He spent the first 4 1/2 months of his life fighting for it.
Fighting for a chance to live.

When he was born he had a 50% chance of surviving.
When his brain bled his doctors warned us that he could be facing some serious disabilities in life.

Today he breathes.  Today he eats.  Today he sleeps. 

He crawls and laughs.  Plays and snuggles.  Torments his brother.  Tries so hard to walk.  Laughs a raspy laugh.  Cries a gentle cry.  He is everything we ever wanted in a son.  And that much more.

We fought alongside him and we didn't give up hope.  He beat the odds he was given.  And he came home where he will grow and learn and flourish. 

One year ago today he was barely 8 pounds.  Today he is almost 20. 
We love you, little boy.  You bring us so much life and so much happiness.  We couldn't imagine this world without you.  It's a privilege to watch you navigate this journey that didn't start off very easily.  And we vow to guide you through whatever it is that your little heart will desire.  Keep on keepin' on.  You make us so proud. 


a friday tidbit

This morning, the younger child - this one - woke up and farted.  He then proceeded to laugh at himself.  I think he has officially turned into a man.

In other news, I don't have much else to say besides happy Friday and stay safe in the snow this weekend.

But...I will leave you with this:


five (randoms) for friday

1.  My entire household is sick.  Ryan seems to have the worst of it, but the rest of us are snotty and tired.  Ugh...bring on the spring please!

2.  I may be slightly obsessed with coffee.  My sister shares my obsession.  More specifically Starbucks coffee.  And no, not a mocha latte but the strong stuff.  It is so good.  Yesterday, as I was leaving the parking lot of Starbucks I heard a commercial on the radio talking about how coffee drinkers tend to be happier.  They then went on to call coffee "happy juice".  Why, yes, it is my happy juice. 
 *Disclaimer:  Starbucks did not ask me to write about their coffee.  All me people.  All me. 

3.  As of late, I have been noticing little signs that my kids are no longer babies.  For example:  they sleep with blankets, they are almost completely off formula, they eat real food and prefer it over milk or pureed food, and...wait for it....their vomit (haha, I know, gross) smells like real people vomit.  It's no longer considered spit up.  Yuck.  

4.  Now that I've grossed you out a bit, I'm in the midst of trying to make my life more efficient.  For instance, I'm trying to get up before the kids do so that I actually have time to get ready for work.  Also, I've created a weekly cleaning schedule.  This way, we only have to do a few things every day instead of spending the entire weekend cleaning.  While I'm on the topic of cleaning, I've invented a thing called swiffer sweepmopping.  Yes, when you are in a time crunch and you need to sweep and mop your floors, just grab your trusty swiffer wet mop and go to town.  You do have to get the technique down though, in order to collect your dust bunnies and debris in one place after you've mopped, instead of everything just ending up back in the corners or your room and wet.  But it's good enough for me.  You're welcome in advance.
*Disclaimer:  Swiffer did not ask me to write about their product nor did I actually invent anything.  


Half my heart.  The other half belongs with their daddy.
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