Sunday, May 1, 2011

One year adjusted

This weekend was Russ and Mannie's adjusted first birthday. Meaning, the boys were expected to come into the world one year ago - instead, they were born in January 2010.

Before I unleash all the details about the boys and their progress...I must acknowledge my struggle to blog. Believe me, my lack of writing does not come from a lack of desire to record our boys' adventures. I have been meaning to write for months:
  1. I planned to write in December at Christmas - but my brother and his family were visiting from Alaska, and the holidays are BUSY. Seriously, who has time to write when there are babies to keep away from the tree.
  2. I wanted to write on January 3, a year after my water broke. The next week, I started blogging. I wrote, "I have been trying to compose a blog for two months...but somehow I can't seem to find the right words. I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with joy, watching my babies grow and develop. Overwhelmed with thanksgiving. As we celebrated Christmas this year, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed. And then it was suddenly 2011...and we passed January 3, which was the day I had premature rupture of membranes..." Anyway, it is still in draft phase. Unfinished.
  3. I planned to write on the boys' first birthday - I even started writing the night before their birthday. "Tomorrow Mannie and Russ turn one. One. ONE. We are really excited to celebrate their very first birthday." And that's as far as I got.
  4. Then I thought about writing on Valentine's Day - I mean, I am completely and utterly IN LOVE with my babies. But I only thought about blogging...didn't even start a draft.
Essentially my blogging project has had a terribly slow start. I put off writing to do the laundry, make a meal, vacuum, correct papers, read for book club. Being a working mom is tough. And being a working mom of one year old twins...well, let's just say I am hopeful to be a better blogger this summer, once school is out.

But enough about me -
The good news is that the past 5 months have been fantastic. The boys have stayed healthy, they're growing, and they are meeting all their developmental milestones. In fact, they are closing the gap between their adjusted age (12 months) and their actual age (15.5 months).

Size: Emmanuel was 23 lbs and 30" at his 15 mos check up; Russ has maintained being just a bit bigger at 24 lbs 6 oz and 30.5."

Hair: Blond. Yes, blond!!! (Dave and I were both blond as children.) Both boys also have a nice wave in their hair, and Russ has the cutest curls in the back, behind his ears, which I have been refusing to cut.

Teeth: Mannie and Russ each have eight teeth. They take fluoride daily and even cooperate to have their teeth brushed.

Eating: The boys enjoy eating, and they are good eaters. Mannie loves meat. Russell prefers veggies or breads. They both love Cheerios, crackers, or anything crunchy. We're working on getting them accustomed to table food. It is a slow process. Hopefully the arrival of some molars will help us out! They can drink out of sippy cups, but still love their bottles. We're currently transitioning from formula to milk.

Sleeping: We typically put the boys to bed around 8 p.m. and they get up between 6-7:30 a.m. They sleep in separate cribs, but their cribs are right next to one another! They like to nap mid-morning and mid-afternoon. For naps we separate them - Mannie gets to nap in the Pack 'n Play in our bedroom.

Movement: Russ and Mannie walk. Russ was our first walker (about 1 month ago), but Mannie got on his feet within the same week. Mannie still relies on pulling himself up on toys/furniture to get into standing position, whereas Russ can stand up and go in the middle of the floor. When we put them on the deck outside, they want to run! (Oh, boy!)

The boys are very interested in words and sounds. A lot of our time is spent answering the questions "dis?" and "dat?" as the boys point to objects around them, wanting you to say the name. They know a dog says "woof", a snake says "sssss", an owl says "whoo." They can point to their hair and noses. Other words: dada, mama, dog, shoes, jacket, glasses, uh oh, done...the list is growing quickly so it is hard to keep track!

What Else They're Doing:
Their book collection is becoming very well loved. They like to play with the Shape-O ball (or similar toys) where they can put shapes into the proper place. They are able to play together (yay!) for short periods of time. They fight over toys sometimes; typically Russ will see Mannie playing with something and then decide he has to have it. He'll take it, and then Mannie will cry. However, Mannie knows how to tackle Russ...he just hasn't figured out to do it after Russell takes a toy! Mannie can throw a ball with one hand. Russ has been hiding behind the furniture and then peeking out and saying, "boo." My boys are also music lovers. Russ will rock back and forth or swing his arms like he's conducting the music. Mannie's response is to rock from side to side or dance. It's really funny to watch if they are grooving simultaneously - Russ rocking back and forth and Mannie rocking side to side. And of course, they love to play with anything they aren't supposed to (especially things with cool buttons)!

I'll sign off with a couple of photos taken last month by our fabulous babysitter, Tammy.

First, there is Mannie...we typically struggle to get great photos of the Man, but he was cooperating for Tammy.

And now, Russ. He is a silly little guy who loves to laugh - but she couldn't get him to crack a smile until the next day...

They are great little guys, that's for sure. I thank God everyday for my miracle boys.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful - a 10 mos update

Today I am thankful. My boys are 10 months old and they are healthy. Not only that, they are BIG and healthy. Looking at the preemie sleepers they wore home from the NICU is mind-boggling. And to think they doubled (nearly tripled) their weight before wearing size preemie...

I am thankful to be a mom. The job isn't easy, but each day is amazing. I love when I can hear my two boys "talking" and laughing with each other - as they're playing together on the floor, in their high chairs, through the rails of their cribs. It's becoming more and more frequent lately, this "twin talk." And they really like to chat and giggle when the adults are in the next room, so you have to be a little bit sneaky to catch them in the act.

I am thankful for Emmanuel. All 20 lbs of smiling boy. For two bottom teeth, one taller than the other. For his observant eyes, taking in everything around him. For the deep tone of his laughter. For every ounce of snuggle that he desires. Don't you love the drool?

I am thankful for Russell. He's our bigger boy, our silly boy. For his twinkling eyes. For his two bottom teeth. For the forever-babbling da da da, ya ya ya, da da da. For his curiosity - soon he will be crawling to explore his surroundings! He, too, lives in bibs right now.

I am thankful for happy babies. The boys love to sit up and play now. They can pick up toys in both hands and pass things from one hand to the other. They always seem to want whatever toy their brother has (of course)! They can swivel on their bellies and they roll like champs. They really enjoy the jumparoo and the exersaucer, especially when we put them side by side.

I am thankful for the many people - family, friends, strangers - who lifted our family in prayer this year. Here is the answer to all our prayers...

Thanks be to God, for making me a mother and for a year filled with blessings.

P.S. Mannie and Russ say, "No, thank you," to mashed potatoes. They were greatly disappointed by their one new Thanksgiving food. Poor Mannie even gagged and threw them up.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nine months and counting

Whew! If I thought life was busy simply being a mother of as a working mother of twins is insane. Where have the last 5 weeks gone?! Most days I lay down to sleep, moments after putting the boys in their cribs, and I wonder where the day went. My week days are a blur. But somehow, I am doing it. I am managing to be a good mom AND a good teacher.

I can't believe I haven't written for a month. (Did I just write that? Seriously? Um, wait a minute...didn't I just say life is an insane blur?!) The boys are growing and changing, but to be honest, the most notable events happened in the last week.

First, the boys turned 9 months on October 21. 9 months! Their 9 month appointment isn't for another week yet, so I will have to write again once we get the official 9 month stats.

Next, I took a break. My first real break in 9 months. I actually left the boys for a weekend. My mom and I went to Minnesota to celebrate my cousin Celine's wedding. It was a wonderful family reunion, and we even did a little bit of shopping along the way! By the time we got home Sunday evening, I was ready to cuddle with my babies...but I had a really great time. Thanks, Dave, for allowing me to get away.

Then, I came home for lunch on Monday morning and found that Russ had cut his two bottom incisors. Teeth! How exciting!

Finally, Mannie saw the orthotist on Tuesday and he said the helmet treatment is over! Yay! He looks great. I am enjoying seeing my little guy's head and snuggling my face into his soft hair and neck.


Other news:
- The boys are such good eaters! They eat rice cereal + fruit for breakfast, and rice cereal + veggie for dinner. Throughout the day they drink 4 bottles, each around 6-7 oz.
- Once we started feeding the boys food, they stopped sleeping through the night! But they do sleep for 7-10 hour stretches, so I really can't complain. Plus, Dave is really good at getting up with whichever boy wakes first.
- We are really close to sitting and crawling. Both boys can prop sit, and they are starting to want to sit up. With more practice, they're going to get it! As far as moving goes...Mannie scoots in circles. Tonight Russell was scooting backwards.
- Mannie has an upcoming appointment at Minneapolis Children's Hospital. Dr. Sidman is going to scope his airway, to be sure the cyst is not returning and also monitor the growth of Mannie's airway. Be thinking of us the first weekend in November.
- We can't wait for Halloween! The boys have their costumes ready, and we will venture out to a few friends' homes to show off their cuteness. I mean, check them out below - aren't they darling?!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Food, glorious food

I've been meaning to write (you know, in all my "free" time now that I'm back to work) about feeding the boys. Ah, yes. We finally tried some food. **Break out the chorus from the opening act of Oliver! here**

On Saturday, September 11, Russ and the Man had their first taste of rice cereal. I followed the directions on the box (like any new mom would) and it was incredibly soupy. Think formula with a hint of rice. We fed it to them anyway. They were both unsure, but definitely interested. Then, because we were trying new things and we were all messy...I broke out the sippy cups and they drank some water to wash down their soupy cereal. I was impressed with how well they did with the cups!

Russ (above), Mannie (below)

All done! Russ (above), Mannie (below)

The next night, we tried again...and this time I made the cereal thicker. Much better! Mannie was like a little bird, opening his mouth for every morsel. Russell wanted to talk through the whole meal. We continued to feed them just in the evening (before their bath and night time bottle) for several days before we added in a morning meal, too.

So last night I added a little spoon of pears to their cereal. They LOVED it. Russ said "mmmm, mmmmmmm" through every bite, and Mannie was impatient because we weren't feeding him fast enough. After their baths (oh, they smelled SO yummy like all clean babies do) my mom and I gave them their final bottles of the night. Then I decided to give the Man a little Tylenol to help him sleep (because he is still adjusting to sleeping in his helmet and although he does sleep, he has been extremely restless). Well, this was a BIG mistake. BIG MISTAKE, I say. The poor little guy choked on the Tylenol as he swallowed it...and UP came the entire contents of his stomach. UP came the formula and the cereal and the pears. All over him. All over me. Yuck. So much for that clean baby smell that I had just been inhaling!

Today Mannie has been more apprehensive about eating, and I have been so disappointed and sad. He was my little bird, opening his mouth and waiting for the spoon, other days. Not today. He had just a few bites in the morning and a few more tonight. Maybe tomorrow will be better?

Mannie's new look

Emmanuel and Dave took a trip to Marquette on Monday to pick up his helmet. By Friday we had to make a second trip to Marquette to improve the fit. This time Mannie and I went together. The helmet was rubbing his little ears, and it kept shifting and sliding down over his eyes. It seems to be much better after Friday's fixings, however there is one spot behind an ear that needs a little more tweaking...hopefully the orthotist can make the adjustments when he travels to Houghton on Tuesday. Otherwise, we'll be heading back to Marquette!

It has been a rough week, but Mannie IS getting used to wearing the helmet...and so are mom and dad! We've worked our way up to 22-23 hours a day. He's technically supposed to wear it for 23 hours every day, but we have been giving him two breaks every day instead of the recommended single one hour break. In the morning we give him a 30-60 minute break to change his clothes and have some tummy time. In the evening, the 60 minute break involves his bath. The worst part is putting the helmet back on him, as it is very easy to accidentally fold his ears under it, not to mention his screaming (which thankfully subsides after some cuddling).

We were able to pick out the pattern on his helmet - the solar system. However, the page we made our selection from had a NAVY BLUE solar system, not a PURPLE one! Oh, well. It matches mom's new glasses! I told Dave we should find a Minnesota Vikings sticker for the helmet, to go with the color scheme. Dave seemed to think Brett Favre would be the perfect Halloween costume...ha!

Cross your fingers that we will be done with this chapter in our lives before Christmas. A typical child might wear a helmet for 3-6 months, but the orthotist seems to think Mannie's head might round out more quickly. We can only pray.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back to school, back to Duluth, and other updates

Tomorrow I head back to work. My classroom is ready, my lesson plans for the first week are complete, and the boys have had two days of "practice" with our wonderful new sitter, Tammy. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) is wondering how I will handle leaving the boys to go back to work...and I think I will be fine. I mean, I know I will be fine. I love teaching. I've missed teaching. And really, my classroom is literally four blocks up the hill. So if I need to, I can certainly run home at lunch to visit Mannie and Russ. But I probably won't make a habit of it. Tammy is great - really great - and so I am confident the boys will be well cared for. Besides, I am hoping to use my time wisely during my breaks during the work day so I have fewer papers to grade in the evenings.


Last week we had a doctor's appointment. Mannie needed his 6 months shots. After his surgeries he had gotten a little behind in his immunization schedule, but now he will be right on track again. Dr. Rajanee examined both boys and was impressed with how much stronger they've become in the last month. It's true. They are doing great. Their adjusted age is 4 months and they are right on track both physically and developmentally. Russ weighs 17# and Mannie is 16# 11oz. Both boys are 26" long.

Our NICU follow up visit (on Aug. 24) confirmed our positive progress, as well. Judy, the dietitian, was extremely pleased with Russ and Mannie's growth. I hadn't started feeding them cereal yet and she suggested we wait until the boys are 6 months adjusted, if possible, which brings us to late October/early November. I don't think the boys will wait quite that long, but we're holding off as long as we can.

Part of the follow up appointment included meeting with the occupational therapist, Joyce. Joyce engaged the boys in some playful activities, which went well for Russ...but poor Mannie badly needed to eat and have a nap (and he refused to do either) which left us comforting a crying baby for at least an hour of our appointment. I couldn't believe it. He would not settle down. He would not fall asleep. He would not take a bottle. This was not our easy, happy Mannie at all! When he finally settled, he did play with Joyce briefly, and Dave was finally able to get him to take his bottle. Whew!

The last part of the appointment was meeting with one of our NICU doctors, Dr. Falgier. She thought the boys looked wonderfully healthy. She did write us a prescription for a cranial molding helmet for Mannie, which was her only concern.

It felt really great to be back in Duluth - almost like we were home again. Seeing Dr. Falgier, Joyce, and Judy - even Judy - was wonderful. (Judy was my dietitian while I was on bed rest at St. Mary's. I told her more than once, "I will give up anything but dessert. You can't take dessert away. It is what I look forward to every day." Little did she know, the nurses were sneaking me cookies as a bed time snack, too!)

After the follow up appointment was completed, we strolled over to the NICU for a visit. Dr. Muskovitz was amazed at how big the boys are, as were the nurses. Dave and I were almost sad as we left St. Mary's that afternoon. The hospital became our life for 3 months this year, and even though times were tough, we managed to actually enjoy many days thanks to the wonderful staff. They became our friends, our support system, our cheerleaders. Through Facebook, I still keep in touch with many of them. (Gotta love Fb!)

So, we already took our prescription to Marquette and had Mannie's head cast for the helmet...the helmet should arrive sometime this week. The casting wasn't too bad, but alas, it resulted in another meltdown for Mannie. Luckily, we were able to compose him as soon as the casting was complete. The orthotist thinks the reshaping might go really fast because we're fitting him with the helmet so early. We can certainly hope so. Typically a helmet is worn for 3-6 months. Joe thinks Mannie's head should take more like 1-3 months (cross your fingers)!


Enough about school. Enough about medical. Let's talk about how much fun the boys are right now. They are F-U-N! Both guys are moving around, though not crawling yet. Russell is rolling, and is constantly contorting his body to see what's going on around the room. He is really smiley and silly. Mannie has been doing a roll onto his side for what feels like forever...I'm just waiting for him to go all the way over. Mannie used to be our only flirt, but Russ is not going to let that be the case anymore. Right now they love to grab things - and everything they grab goes into their mouths. Both boys are very vocal, "talking" to whomever will listen. They love bath time, which is part of our nightly routine. Sometimes I can get both of them laughing at the same cute! They love patty cake, "soooo big", dancing, and playing on a blanket on the floor. They also love when mommy sings, sneezes, or says things like "Shipoopi" or "get yourself." Below is a clip of Dave pretend-sneezing to get them laughing. They are all shirtless because there was a major heatwave here about a week ago and our house was like a sauna.


Well, I started writing this post one week ago - so I should probably post it tonight! And seeing as I am back to work tomorrow (which means getting up at 6 a.m.) I've got to get to bed! I'm hoping to write more than once a month this fall. Think I can manage?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

we're on the charts!

Yesterday, after getting caught in "bridge traffic" and arriving 15 minutes late to the doctor's office, Mannie and Russ had their 6 month appointment with Dr. Rajanee. She said both boys look great, especially considering they were 26 week preemies. The biggest news from the appointment is that Russ and Mannie made the charts for 6 month babies (their birth age, not their adjusted age)! Here are their stats:

Russ is 25" (5%) and 15# 12 oz (20%). His head measures 42.5 cm (20%).
Mannie is 24.5" (<5%) and 15# 6 oz (15%). His head measures 41.5 cm (5%).

Dr. Rajanee wants us to switch to a different formula - and if the change goes well she thinks we should give rice cereal a try after about a week on the new formula. We are very excited about this...however, this brings new questions to my new mom mind. Questions like how does one feed a baby cereal if the baby doesn't sit up yet?? Do you feed them in a bouncer seat? And what will it be like to try to add cereal into my already hectic bottling schedule?! Another high point of the visit was Rajanee's opinion about Russ and Mannie's heads. She doesn't think we need to put either boy in a helmet. "Just give baby more tummy time," was her position. Now we have a bunch of different opinions on the matter, making the decision all the more confusing:
1. Dr. Colleen - yes to helmets
2. Dr. McCue, neurosurgeon - yes to a helmet for Mannie
3. Dr. Sidman, pediatric ENT - no to a helmet for Mannie
4. Monica Aho, PT - try stretches and exercises first
5. Dr. Rajanee - no to helmets
So, what we've decided to do is to continue with PT and really work to keep Mannie off his favored side of his head for the next month. Our NICU follow up appointment is at the end of August and we will talk to the NICU team about what we should do. Dave and I are not opposed to helmet therapy, as we do not want our child(ren) teased about their head shape on the playground. But if helmets aren't needed, GREAT.

Being a mom is really fun when a baby finally responds to you. Our guys have been smiling and cooing for awhile now, but last weekend we finally got them laughing. Well, actually it was Grandma Deba who got them started on Friday night. She had Russell laughing in the tub. And he was laughing so hard he scared himself and started to cry. Then she had Mannie laughing after the bath. But on Saturday - when I was all alone with the babies - I got them both laughing at the same time. We were playing peekaboo...and then Mannie started to belly laugh, then Russ, then was like hearing the other guy laughing was encouragement. If only I could've captured the moment on video.

Today I had an eye appointment - my first since I became pregnant. My eyes were constantly changing during my pregnancy, and I had to dig through old glasses to try to find something that worked. After the testing, my eye doc was pleased to report both eyes improved. Thanks, Russ and Mannie! Now I have to find time to have my mom help me pick out some new frames. She was planning to come to the appointment with me to offer her opinion on new specs, but she ended up taking care of the babies because my dad was supposed to babysit and he was stuck on the other side of the bridge! (Find the story here.) Crazy to think I would be affected by the bridge two days in a row when I barely ever leave the house anymore.

The humidity is killing me this week. It is miserable. I walked on both Monday and Tuesday mornings despite the heat, but today I thought, "Forgetaboutit!" Right now would be a great time to get some walking in, as it is cooling off and breezy, but I just got the boys to doze off before their last feeding and I don't dare load them into a stroller just so I can get a little exercise. I do need to walk daily, if possible. I mean, I will be going back to work in a month and I still have about 20 lbs of baby weight left to lose. I know I can't lose 20 lbs in a month, but I'd like to shed half of it so I can fit into my work clothes!

Well, it is time to wash bottles, prepare formula, and make the last bottles of the day. Another day in the life!