Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'll be out of a job soon!

Bentley is growing more adept at helping every day. If I don't learn some fancy new tricks pretty soon he's going to be the one in charge around here! His favorite chore is burping the babies. He believes that a good firm thumping is most appropriate and surprisingly enough (in my opinion) it actually works half the time! Here he is in action:

And, here are the twins comparing notes on the help received from big brother. Jackson seems quite animated, he must have really liked it!

At last! Peacefully asleep after another successful feeding. Thank you Bentley!

Mediterranean Black Bean Soup

My random new crockpot recipe of the day scores a home run with Bentley! I just never know what he's going to love, or for that matter what he's even going to be willing to put in his mouth and try. The real test will be tomorrow when I find out if he wants to eat it again for leftovers at lunch time.

Why 2 pictures that are quite similiar, you ask? Because he's THAT cute, of course!

Monday, July 30, 2007

If you can't join them...

gnaw on them. That seems to be Jackson's motto, and I feel quite sad that I wasn't able to capture the moment on camera. Because there is 1 of me and 3 of them, often times someone is waiting to eat while someone else is finishing up their meal. That's the way life has to work around here!

Today Genevieve was finishing up her bottle, and Jackson was quite impatient to finish his... apparently his arm wasn't cutting it:

Luckily for him he was in the right position to nibble on his sister's toes. She made some pretty funny faces while trying to shake him off... :-)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Photo Contest--Judges Needed

Kara found this hat at a garage sale. We've tried it on all three babies and want to know which one you think should be awarded permanent custody of the hat. (If you think this is not a boy hat, think again--think Hawaiian. Those testosterone-laden Polynesian males often wear brightly colored floral prints. Break out of your cultural box!)

Cast your vote now.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Night of Freedom

Freedom to sleep... we love our children dearly, of course, but we jumped on the offer from my parents to take them away for a sleep over! Bentley seemed really crushed to be away from us:

Don't worry. That's not his chair, he's just keeping it warm for Genevieve. :-)

Thank you Grandma and Opa! It was a marvelous thing to sleep all night long again!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Monkey fun

Do you know who is who in the pictures? :-)

Bentley turns to religion

At times, it is a little stressful at our house (that's a peanut butter M&M bag, in case you are one of the unfortunate people who can't immediately identify these delicious candies!). Bentley normally enjoys his siblings, and he's becoming more helpful every day. But sometimes taking care of two babies is overwhelming. When the chocolate isn't enough, Bentley has found that religion can help... he's taken to reading the church magazines to cope. We've caught him doing this on multiple occasions.

Hopefully he'll talk soon so he can share what he's learning, I myself have not had any time lately to read the new issues!

1st 3 against 1 outing

For kicks and grins I took all three kids to the Dr.'s office this morning to get weight checks on the twins. This was the first time I ventured out alone with all of them... Jackson and Bentley shared the stroller, and Genevieve used the Baby Bjorn. I should have practiced with the stroller BEFORE we got to the parking lot and we were already running late. It doesn't look that complicated, but although I was eventually able to open it up I couldn't get it to fold all the way back up to go back in the vehicle. Luckily I drive an SUV and could fit it in there anyway, or we might still be standing in the parking lot!

Anyway, we survived the outing and we're safely home again. Jackson weighed in at 7 lbs 9.5 oz, and Genevieve is at 7 lbs 7 oz. Matt asked me how we're doing on a cost per lb, looks like we're at about $10,000 per lb of baby right now. :-) No, I'm not kidding. The NICU adds up quickly.

The twinks are sleeping, recovering from the fun visit. I tried to convince Bentley to eat pasta with me for lunch, but when he refused I fed him Thin Mint cookies instead - although I probably shouldn't admit that? :-)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Good girl, bad boy?

We were working on the perfect shot for the twinks birth announcement tonight. It's much harder to work with two babies than one! This shot didn't make the cut, but I felt it deserved a place in blog history.

Genevieve is praying, and Jackson... well, if you look closely you can see that Jackson is letting us know what he thinks of all the bright flashes? :-)

Straight jackets are welcome here

The miracle blankets have arrived at my house, many thanks are due to a fellow twin mother who suggested (and provided!) them. :-) They bear a slight resemblance to straight jackets, and when bundled up Jackson and Genevieve look a little bit like mummies... I think they like them though!? The design is ingenious. There are two flaps on the inside, you wrap each arm in one and tuck the extra material under their backs. Then you fold up the leg pouch to trap the little legs, and then you take the two outer flaps and wrap them around and around and around - until they're so snug that they know resistance is futile!

We're only on day 2 with the miracle wraps, but so far I'm impressed. It still took the twinks a little while to drift off to sleep land, and I had to reinsert the baby plugs a few times until they made it there. However, once asleep, they slept peacefully next to each other in their crib for over 3 hrs. Perfect! This is wonderful. I hope they think so too. They slept swaddled in the new blankets from 12-3, and then they had a break to sleep with Mom and Dad from 3-7. They slept in the blankets again from 7-10. We'll see how tonight goes.

I'm taking control

Ok - so maybe it's slightly delusional to think I can take control of my life when I have 3 children under 2. I'll blame it on sleep deprivation, and go right on ahead pretending that I can be in control of my/our lives. I sat down this afternoon and put together "THE SCHEDULE".

I need to find some bright neon paper to give "THE SCHEDULE" the appropriate respect that it deserves, but for now it will have to make do with plain white paper.

It has occured to me that without some semblance of routine and order, I won't survive. The kids might - but I'm sure that I won't. I need a little bit of organization to my day, and the assurance that sleep is coming every night (refer to next post on straight jackets!). The schedule is fairly simple, with slight room for deviation. I've heard it's important to be flexible. :-) It outlines when Bentley and the twinks get up, when they eat, and when they will be sleeping. I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Happy Birthday Goma!

My Mother hasn't quite decided on if she's a Grandma or an Oma, so I've taken the liberty of answering the question and going with Goma until told otherwise. I bet that will make her want to pick one.

Genevieve celebrated Goma's birthday day in style... it's hard for a girl to find enough places to wear all her dresses, so why not - right? Granted, she had to leak through her diaper and get both her onesie AND the birthday girl before we took the hint and pulled out the party dress. Some days are like that when you can't talk yet - it can be hard to communicate your desires!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Jackson, super baby

Jackson has now rolled over not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4... but 5 times! The 1st time was a couple days ago while both Grandmas were home watching the babies and Matt and I went to the movies. We believed them when they shared their story, of course... :-) Today Jackson repeated his baby trick 4 more times for me. He had to do it 4 times because it took until #4 for Mom to clue in and take a video to record the event for those that doubt. Unfortunately, I don't think it's possible to upload the videos to blogger. I do have it available, however, for your viewing pleasure upon request.

All the creatures were stirring...

at 4 a.m. this morning. Yuck. I checked the calendar and no sign of the full moon, so I'm not sure what posessed all 3 of our children to wake up and STAY UP as of 4 a.m.. Normally we can count on Bentley to be reasonable, but I think seeing the twins in our bed threw him off. It took until about 6:30 to get him back to bed. As for the twins, they downed their bottles and then stayed awake doing dinosaur grunting noises for a couple hours. This has inspired their Mother - I am researching miracle swaddle blankets that promise me 8 hours of sleep in a row, vibrating bassinets with remotes that promise to lull my children into a peaceful sleep, ... hopefully I will have some luck.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

My 1st gift from Bentley

I can't promise that I will keep this gift from him forever but since it is the first gift he's brought me I decided to record the occasion. It is, of course, noteworthy!
This gift was collected while out on a walk with Grandma Vicki. He found this treasure, and insisted on bringing it home. If I was going to think too hard on the subject I could speculate he intended the gift for his Dad, but since I was the only one home - I got it!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sleeping beauties

If I do say so myself... :-) I figured we should have a picture of the twinks main pastime out here on the blog. Genevieve likes to nap in the bouncy seat, Jackson sleeps in the swing... or, rather, he pretends to sleep. His eyes pop open every 10 minutes or so - he's a bit of a fitful sleeper. I think he's afraid we might be having fun without him. Genevieve, on the other hand, enjoys her rest time. I would too if I was surrounded by so much pretty pink!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A new evening ritual

I'm not quite sure how Matt managed this newest trick, but he has Bentley trained. Every evening before heading down to bed, Matt asks Bentley if he wants to give the babies a kiss. Bentley agrees! I'm impressed, since I still haven't convinced that kid to give his Mother a nice good night kiss on the cheek. :-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The twins are bulking up

It may be a slight stretch to call our babies huge, or even bulky, but they are certainly gaining weight at an admirable rate! Despite the Dr.'s assurance last week that I didn't need to bring the twins in again until their 2 month check up, I took them in today for a weigh in. Jackson is now at 6 lbs 11 oz, and Genevieve is at 6 lbs 8 oz. Despite the fact he "wastes" more time awake Jackson is maintaing his 3 oz lead on his sister. Both of them have gained almost a pound in the past week - wow! Due to their healthy gains, they have been given permission to cut back to 22 cal formula from 24 cal. A 10% cost savings in the formula bill... I'll take it, gladly!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

1st outing for the twinks

While Bentley frolicked at Grandma's house in his frog pool, Jackson and Genevieve enjoyed their first social visit. I call it their first outing, since it doesn't seem right to count the multiple visits to the Dr.'s as "firsts". We enjoyed the visit to see Great Grandma and Great Grandpa!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

1st family portrait

Actually, this is the 2nd picture of the 5 of us. In the first picture, however, Genevieve is only shown in the background: (far right)

That doesn't count, right?! :-) (Genevieve was still hooked up for some breathing assistance, so we couldn't hold her at the time).

Here's take 2, what I will call our first family picture:

Thanks to our official family photographer, and his assistant - they are a great team! We're hoping with some coaching we can convince the twinks to look at the camera when directed to, but we understand that they're still a little young to follow directions.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The circus performer in training

Bentley is feeling forced to try daring new tricks to get our attention:

He came up with this newest trick when he noticed there were 3 adults in the room, and 2 of them were feeding babies and the other wasn't providing him with the attention he felt he deserved. It's a bit hard to see from the picture (you can blame me, the photographer - our regular photographer was at work so I had to capture the moment on my own!), but this vehicle is motorized and was moving at the time of the picture. Our daring young stunt master pushes down on the go button, and then maneuvers himself into a standing position on the seat. What a clever kid!

He likes them! (I think?!)

Bentley is handling the addition of the twinks to our household, giving in with his usual good grace to all the changes around him. As I mentioned earlier, he enjoys helping to feed the babies:

He also likes to keep tabs on them. When he gets up in the morning, when he comes in from a walk, ... he always runs to the back room and climbs the side of the play pen to check and see that his babies are still here. I'm assuming this means he likes having them around?

In other helpful behavior... he collects pacifiers and on occasion manages to put them in their mouth. On other occasions he rips the pacifiers OUT of their mouths... and rips their blankets off. BUT - he normally does this a little before feeding time, so I think he's doing it to help wake them up so they can eat better. :-)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Clock watcher

Bentley can already tell time. I know it! Matt was feeding Genevieve this evening and, as does happen some times, fell asleep on the couch with her. This was around 8:40 p.m. Bentley was chilling out in the swing (see previous post!), and I told him that we would let Dad nap until 9:00 and then maybe we could convince him to head out for a walk. At around 8:59 (honest!) Bentley hopped out of the swing and ran to the living room to wake his Dad up. This was with no prompting from me. So - I present that as my evidence that the child can read clocks already. :-)

An advantage of being a small big brother!

We pulled out Bentley's swing a couple days ago to see if we could trick Jackson into getting a little more shut eye during the day through using it. No great luck on that count yet, but today our other son discovered he could climb into the swing... it's good up to 24 lbs, so we turned it on and he spent at least 20 minutes happily rocking..

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Zen of the faucet

Bentley has found a place to find his center, to stay calm, and to reflect on life. The kitchen sink! Unfortunately he doesn't QUITE grasp the concept of washing the dishes yet... but I think he'll be there soon. His current favorite past time is playing with the water in the sink. Simply watching it run over his hands, or transferring it from one container to another. When given the chance he will stand there for 30 minutes. Who knows - maybe longer, but his caretakers grew weary. We're trying to use the timer on the stove and train him that when the timer goes off it's time to quit playing. This is intended to prevent the meltdowns that occur when he's torn away from the sink. Only time will tell if it works!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

First visit to the Dr. for the twinks

Today was Genevieve and Jackson's first official Dr.'s visit. We did go in for a weigh in on Saturday, but today was the first full appointment and another weigh in. The twins are up to 5 lbs 11 oz (Genevieve) and 5 lbs 14 oz (Jackson). The Dr. was very impressed with their weight gain since Saturday, and with the fact they are both up over their birth weights already. Way to go babies!

In other news from the appointment, the nurse claims that both babies are measuring 19 3/8 inches long. I find it hard to believe they've grown an inch in the week since their discharge at the hospital, but it could be possible. We're sticking with the ultra spendy formula for preemies for the time being, as apparently it helps with brain development - hard to argue with that. On a positive note, however, Dr. Ryan tells us we are already at the point where we can let the twins sleep as long as they're able to at night without waking them to eat. Now if we can just convince Jackson that means 5 hours without waking and not 3...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bentley adapts to his new life

Today we managed to get our first picture of all three kids together. Bentley has been very helpful with the twins today - he helped feed Jackson, and he points to the back room when he hears one of them crying to alert us. I think maybe he's getting used to having them around!

It's either that or he's just biding his time until he can manage to get the phone number right and find someone to come rescue him from this crazy home. :-)

Friday, July 06, 2007

It's already Day 1 with 3!

We were thrilled to be able to bring Jackson home from the NICU today. Yesterday around 11:00 a.m. the Dr. came by and told Genevieve she could leave. She removed the tape from Jackson's feeding tube because she was going to reposition it, but she turned around for a minute and he managed to rip it out while she wasn't looking! She told him that he didn't have to have it put back in until he needed it, and for the next 8 feedings he behaved like a champ and met his feeding requirements all from the bottle. So now he's home too, and we couldn't be happier that we don't have to make anymore trips back and forth to Providence at all hours of the day. :-) The 10 day stay in the NICU with the challenge of having someone there every 3 hrs to feed the twins makes me think having them home might not be so hard after all...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Day 1 with 2

Today Genevieve came home from the hospital!

She was right under 5 lbs at the time of discharge, and now our instructions are to feed, feed, and feed her more. We will see what Bentley thinks of her. We had him visit the twins a few times in the NICU, but he wasn't a big fan of the hospital since we refused to put him down and let him push buttons and pull on dangling cords. I'm not sure he knows the twins are human, like us. From his perspective they're just little blanket bundles with tiny hats sticking out of the top. I think she's happy to be home in her own bed with her own blankets - she's looks like it, right?!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Feeding and the NICU

While I was pregnant with the twins I often wondered what exactly they would be like. Because my only experience to date was with Bentley, it was hard not to picture them as being just like their brother. Matt and I may be biased, but we think Bentley is close to perfect. He's always cheerful and full of joy. He's bright, inquisitive, energetic... and a delight to be around! I found myself thinking that the only thing I would change about the twins, if I could, is eating habits. Bentley doesn't like to eat as much as I think he should and it's been a cause of stress to me - I'm always trying to get more calories into him.

So now I find myself with twins in the NICU, who are there because they have to learn to eat. In order to come home they have to be able to take a full days worth of food from the bottle, and they have to be gaining weight. Sometimes it seems like one step forward and two steps back.

They are fed every three hours. Every day the Dr. comes by and sometimes increases the amount of formula they have to eat in order to maintain/increase their weight. If they don't drink at least a certain percent of their bottle, then they have to be tubed (gavaged) so they can get adequate nutrition to stay hydrated and grow. Every 12 hours the nursing staff rotates, and you never know what you're going to get next. Every nurse is assigned 3-4 babies, and every nurse has some different thoughts on how to feed the twins, and the best "plan" for them. Because of this constant change, we (with a very large amount of help from my parents!) have made a point to be there at EVERY feeding. We know the babies and are starting to learn what works/what doesn't.

Genevieve has been a champ with the bottle from the get go:

Jackson started out great,

but now has started struggling to get the bottles down. Apparently this is common with preemie babies - they get off to a good start, but don't have the energy to keep going. They're still learning to suck/swallow/breathe (and all in the right order!) and for a tiny baby that's a lot of work. One of the nurses likens each feeding to running a marathon for them - they're exhausted when they're done and if you make them work at the bottle for too long they can actually burn more calories trying to eat than they get from the bottle.

Anyway, we worked very hard with Jackson to get those bottles down, but he started getting too tired to handle it. It was a hard decision for me, but we ended up taking the advice of the Dr. and giving him a feeding tube. So now he takes a bottle every 6 hours, and we feed him the other bottles through the tube so he can rest and build up his energy. It felt like a huge step back to agree to the tube, but the poor baby wasn't able to handle bottles yet. When he's able to take the full amount for his bottles at every bottle feeding, then the plan is to wean him off of the tube.

The most exhausing part of the NICU is never knowing what's going to happen next. The doctors and nurses can't provide a guess as to when any baby will be able to go home, because it's not something they can predict with any accuracy. Babies can be eating well for a week and suddenly quit. Babies can be eating through a tube and suddenly it will "click" for them on how to use the bottle. They have no way of knowing, and so we just go from one feeding to the next. Every feeding feels like a high stakes game, where you're watching the clock and trying to get as much as you can down them before the 30 minutes are up and you see if they "pass" - if they're closer to home, or if they're perhaps getting a little closer to needing a tube.

I'm very thankful that feeding is the only reason the twinks are in the NICU, and that they are otherwise healthy - but I still can't wait for this experience to be over. I was discharged from the hospital yesterday and had to leave without them... I can't drive yet, so the logistics of getting back to the hospital for feedings is fun. My Mother goes over for a large number of the feedings (even at night!) and that has been wonderful. Even with that help, between trying to catch a little sleep, spend some time with Bentley, pump/pump/pump to provide a meager supply of breast milk, and then travel to and from the hospital to feed and hold the babies - I now have a great deal of empathy for any parent who has a child spend even a short amount of time in the NICU.