1.20.2014

happy homecoming

On this very day, two years ago, Seamus and I left our home and proudly, yet nervously, drove to the hospital for what would be Ryan's last day in the NICU.  After 117 long days and lonely nights, Ryan was unhooked from the many machines that told us he was alive.  He was placed into our arms, as if for the first time.  And we drove him home.  I sat in the back seat with him, all the while checking if he was still breathing.  Marveling at how small he looked in his car seat.  We entered our home, having been parents for the last 4 months, but feeling as if we were parents for the very first hour.  And life as we know it began.  Happy homecoming day, love bug!  We are so proud of you each and every day.  You are truly a blessing and have changed our lives in more ways than one.  


Diclaimer:  Most of the video is cute, baby kisses.  Some of it contains a child whining.  I apologize in advance. 

1.16.2014

throwback & thankful

Seems as though throwback Thursday is a phrase that will soon be coined as an official word in Webster's dictionary.  Oh no wait, it's a phrase, not a word.  So that won't work.  So what, wikipedia or something?  Anyway, it's all over the internet and especially Instagram.  I participate once in a while but today's TBT photo brought back so many sweet memories.  Two years ago today, we finally got to see little Ryan's face tube free.  No more oxygen.  No more feeding tube.  And in four short days, he was well enough to actually come home with us.  

Two years ago, tube free for the first time & a couple weeks ago when he was still sleeping in our bed


How fitting that it's a photo of him sleeping when we finally just got him to sleep through the night.  Which by the way, he still is.  And his ability to fall asleep is only improving by the day.  

You know, I remember taking that photo two years ago as if it were taken yesterday.  How excited I was that the doctors removed his feeding tube.  How we basically lived at the hospital, visiting the boys before and after work.  How we were feverishly trying to prepare to bring Ryan home and trying to figure out how we would juggle one child at home and one still in the hospital, since Aiden still had a few weeks before he would be discharged.  It's all still so clear in my head, yet the person I was is so different.  

Things have changed for me since the NICU.  For us.  Hospitals are all too familiar, but it's not very bothersome to us.  It just is.  It's life.  It's what was given to us.  And I can't help but appreciate that time.  Even though it caused some pain and suffering for us, I'm choosing to look back and be thankful.  I don't want to be angry or sad or envious anymore.  And I'm not.  I'm hopeful for what's ahead.  And I'm happy for what's in my heart.  

I'm a lucky girl with three of the best men by my side.  And they love me so much.  I can tell.  


1.13.2014

and then there was sleep

If you've been reading for a while, you know that we have been struggling with getting Ryan to sleep.  About a year ago, he randomly stopped sleeping through the night.  For six months we struggled, and rocked, and woke up with him four times each night.  We walked around in a sleep deprived daze until one day we decided to let him sleep with us.  This seemed to do the trick for a little while, but then things went downhill again.  Most recently, Ryan would require us to rock him to sleep.  We would put him in his crib once he was asleep, but inevitably he would wake within 1-3 hours and demand to be put in our bed.  We obliged, since we had neither the strength nor the stamina to sleep train Ryan.  We also didn't have the heart.  

I am the first person to make excuses about why I didn't want to sleep train Ryan:  he would get so upset that he would make himself vomit, he has CP and has a hard time getting comfortable, he has Hydrocephalus and maybe it's a neurological issue, and so on and so forth. 

We spoke to our pediatrician, neurosurgeon and physiatrist about Ryan's sleep troubles and all their answers pointed one thing.  Behavior.  Ryan was capable of sleeping, but we never trained him to do so.  I'd be lying if I told you that I took this information in with an open heart.  No, nope, nuh-uh.  I'm his mom.  We're his parents.  There's something more going on.

We tried swaddling, and melatonin, and throwing my pillowcase on his pillow so he could smell me.  It got weird, folks.  When none of that worked, and letting him sleep with us worked, we took it.  We accepted it with open arms.  And most importantly we all got rest.

As time went on, Ryan stopped sleeping consistently even with us.  He would wake 3, 4 sometimes 5 times a night demanding we give him water.  Or whining because he needed to be turned over.  Now let me explain, Ryan doesn't walk.  But he is certainly capable of rolling over and making himself comfortable.  But for some reason, he didn't realize that in his sleep.  When it started taking us an hour to rock him to sleep at night is when we finally broke.  It was time to sleep train.

Let me preface by saying that I am no expert.  I am not telling you to sleep train your child.  Heck, I don't care what you do.  That's the beauty of parenting.  Your kid, your rules.  I'm simply telling you what worked for us, because for the last four nights Ryan has slept in his crib for 12+ hours.  And more importantly he soothed himself to sleep.  I cannot put into words how proud of this guy I am right now.  I apologize for the horrible photo, but you can just make out how peaceful he looks holding his little baby.  Love.  Disclaimer:  The time and date are obviously not set correctly on our monitor.  I can't bring myself to care enough to change it though. 


So night 1 went something like this.  A hug and kiss.  A quick pep talk about how he's going to sleep in his crib and that we'll see him in the morning.  Reassurance that I am not leaving the room.  I sat on the couch in his room for the next 50 minutes while he cried.  He was hysterical actually.  At one point he even recited the alphabet through anger and tears, at the top of his lungs.  I thought he would tire after 20 or so minutes, so I made a deal with myself that I will try to last at least that long.  I did not want to sit there and listen to my child cry and beg for my comfort.  But, we had to do something.  And this was our last option.  

After 10 minutes, he was still hysterical so I got up and patted his back.  Told him I'm still there and that he needs to go to sleep.  After a couple minutes, he was still crying, but I sat back down.  This time I waited 15 minutes before I went to him.  And then 20.  After the last 20 minutes, his crying died down.  And then after a few more minutes he fell asleep.  I did not pick him up at all.  I think that was they key thing here.  

That night he woke probably 4-5 times.  Each time he cried and sobbed, but fell back asleep within 10 or so minutes.  I couldn't sleep that night.  I felt so horrible that he was alone in his room, crying.  And even though it broke my heart, I didn't go to him.  Ok I lie.  One time I thought he was cold, so I waited until he was asleep to fix his blanket.  But that was a mistake because it was like he smelled me.  He immediately woke and was hysterical.  I told him it's ok and that I love him, and I left the room.  He fell asleep shortly after.  

The next day, I dreaded nap time because I always heard that it's harder to sleep train for naps than night time.  Well, the opposite seems to be true for Ryan.  He fell asleep for his nap within 10 minutes.  

Night 2 went much better than the first.  Same routine, only this time I left the room and did not stay with him.  He was hysterical at first, but then he quieted down.  He whined a little, cried some, laid quietly too.  And within 20 minutes he was asleep.  All on his own.  Night 3 was similar, only it took less time.  And then last night was a dream, at a record of 7 minutes or so.  

Looking back, I cannot believe how it easy it was to teach Ryan to self soothe.  In all honestly, it was one hard night.  And the rest took care of itself.  He has gotten so much sleep the past few nights and he is a different child.  He is less whiny, less clingy.  He is more rested so he is able to work harder at his physical therapy goals.  I firmly believe that this was the best thing for him at this point.  And the icing on the cake?  He did not make himself sick from crying.  Oh and also, he's sleeping in later than usual.  Here are some quick photos I took of him this morning.  Sorry for the dim lighting.  

 
Before I go, I have to give a shout out to a fellow twin mom who inspired us to do this.  She recently told me about how she successfully sleep trained her two year old and sent me the article outlining the method she used.  Her positivity really made me feel like this could work for us.  So thank you, from the bottom of all our hearts.  Our family really needed this.  



1.09.2014

March for Babies 2014

Guys!  It's time.  Time to begin preparing and raising funds for a cause that I am honored to be a part of.  Seriously, the annual March for Babies is turning into one of my favorite days of the year.  This will be our third year walking, which is crazy to me because I have no clue where the time went.  I love participating in this event because of course, prematurity is something that we LIVE, but it's also a wonderful reminder of how much love and support we've received (and continue to receive) over the last two years.  I am humbled when I look around at all the people who truly love our children and want the best for them.  

So, take a look to your right.  That button will remain on my blog until the MOD stops accepting donations for this event.  If you'd like to join our team just click on the "walk with me" button.  We would love to have you there!  If you can't walk, but would still like to make a contribution, you can "donate now".

As always, thanks for the love, good wishes, prayers and vibes.  


1.08.2014

a recent happening and what's ahead

My heart is full.

This morning Ryan called me a beauty.  Sure, he mimicked his father but still, it warmed my heart.  And Aiden, well he told me he loved me when I was leaving for work.  What more can I ask for?

This past Monday was my due date with the boys.  If it weren't for the TimeHop app, I wouldn't even have remembered.  This is a big deal for me.  HUGE.  Last year, and especially two years ago, this day was a milestone that I worked myself up to, and then inevitably broke my heart into a million pieces when the day came.  It was a reminder of what wasn't, what could've been and what IS.  And quite frankly it was a bit much for me to handle and think about.  It brought with it feelings of sadness, anger, envy and confusion.  And it really clouded my view of the miracles the were in front of me.

This year was different.  I was reminded of what day it was.  I made a quick mention.  And then that was it.  Maybe I'm too busy with twin toddlers to sit and contemplate the past anymore.  Maybe time did heal some of those wounds.  Maybe I've accepted the life I was given.  Or maybe I just feel extremely lucky to be where we are today.  Who knows.  Who cares.  

Let's just focus on what's going on now, right?  So we have some great news, though a bit premature.  Mr. Aiden recently had a hearing test done and his right ear came back with completely normal hearing.  His left ear was still presenting some hearing loss, but he had some fluid in there, which could be why (wishful, hopeful thinking?).  We go back for another hearing test in a couple weeks, in hopes that the fluid has cleared and we can get a better reading.  Please send any and all good vibes his way!

Ryan has really been working hard in his stander.  He's gone from lasting only a couple minutes to almost an hour now!  It does vary though, based on his mood and whether or not he's tired.  But he usually completes his time like a champ (and of course we let him play with the iPad while he's standing, just to keep him a little distracted) and even asks to be put in it from time to time.  The walker is very secondary at this point.  He won't really be able to walk successfully in it until he builds up his legs with standing.  And next week Ryan will be fitted for AFO's.  They will likely look something like this, and they are meant to keep his foot and ankle in the right position required for standing and walking.  Exciting!

We are still recovering from the holidays.  Decorations are still waiting to be taken down.  Toys are all over the place and some old ones need to be retired.  The kids go back to school today and we are slowly getting back into the swing of normal life.  I think we have an exciting and busy year ahead of us. 

And because I didn't post any Christmas photos, here are some of my favorites:




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