Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two months


Henry and Norah are two months old now and quickly growing out of their newborn clothes — though the 0-3 month outfits are still baggy, for the most part. Here's how they've grown in the past month:


Henry:

  • Sleeps peacefully in his rocker but hates his crib and his carseat. We're trying to get him to sleep in his crib, but it'll take some time to transition — and right now we need sleep and a happy baby.
  • Still has skinny legs and tiny feet but is filling out more in his face and tummy.
  • Loves prune juice, surprisingly (and you can probably guess why he's had to drink it).
  • Is happiest when he's swaddled tightly and being snuggled.
  • Weighs about eight pounds and is 20 inches long.
  • Has blue eyes currently, and though it's still early to tell, I think they'll remain blue.
  • Usually burps really well after eating and gets the hiccups.
  • Likes to look around and is fascinated by his new mobile (when he lays in the crib to look at it).
  • Is a messy eater and looks like he's had an ice cream cone when he finishes his bottle.
  • Frequently smiles in his sleep and props his fist under his chin.


Norah:

  • Is a great sleeper most of the time and has slept in her crib since the first week.
  • Has a loud, high-pitched scream that she uses when she's hungry or has a nightmare — or, sometimes in the middle of the night, for no good reason at all.
  • Scoots all around her crib and often ends up upside-down with one arm out of her swaddle.
  • Eats really well and usually falls asleep on my shoulder while I'm burping her (which I LOVE).
  • Usually puts herself to sleep in her crib if she's still awake when she finishes eating.
  • Weighs about eight pounds and is 19 inches long, a little smaller than Henry.
  • Is finally big enough to wear headbands instead of just bows.
  • Has big, expressive eyes and likes to look around her room.
  • Will go right to sleep on a blanket on the floor if she's screaming in her crib.
  • Has lost most of the hair on top of her head and is sporting a Franciscan monk look.

I never get tired of kissing their cheeks, grabbing their tiny hands and looking at their little feet. Time is flying by, but I'm grateful that they'll still be small for a little while longer.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 8


Dear Henry and Norah,

Today is your due date, and you're also nine weeks old today. While I knew you most likely wouldn't be born on July 8, I didn't expect you to come more than two months early, either. July seemed so far away when we discovered you were on the way, and now it's here and all I feel is joy.

You are still tiny, only about eight pounds each, and most of your clothes are still too big on you. You spend most of your time sleeping, but you are staying awake longer and looking at your dad and me while we feed you. You melt our hearts when you snuggle up against us or curl your little hands by your faces in your sleep.

We don't get much rest anymore, and car rides, even just to the doctor's office, require a lot more equipment. We're buying formula by the crate and doing laundry at least once a day. We're going through hundreds of diapers and wipes and constantly washing bottles.

But we don't mind. You are absolutely beautiful, and we're so grateful to have you home with us and growing so big. You already have strong personalities, likes and dislikes, and while we want you to stay little forever, we want you to get bigger at the same time so we can play with you and watch you change.

You have brought us so much joy, Henry and Norah. We're glad we've had these extra two months with you and love you more every day.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Blessing day


Andrew gave our sweet Henry and Norah the most beautiful blessings today. In our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, newborn babies are given names and special blessings. Men who hold the Melchizedek priesthood, which is God's power on earth, lay their hands upon the baby's head and give him or her a personal blessing from Heavenly Father.

Blessing days are always really special because the father, if he holds the priesthood, usually gives his baby a blessing and is able to communicate special messages Heavenly Father has for him or her. To symbolize the purity of this day, we dress our babies all in white — and these blessing outfits are cherished.

It was such a special experience to have Andrew hold Henry, then Norah, and give them names and blessings, surrounded by the priesthood holders among our family and friends. Andrew blessed them to be healthy and continue growing and that they would be examples to each other and continue to have a strong bond. He also blessed them that they would remember the Atonement of Jesus Christ and use it in their lives.

Priesthood blessings are always amazing, but they're especially sweet when they're given to babies by their father.


My mom sewed Norah's dress and made a vest, pants and even a little tie for Henry, and my family and Andrew's made tons of food for the luncheon. It was such a special day. We had so many family members and friends come for their blessings, and I have been emotional tonight just thinking about how blessed we are.

We have two beautiful, healthy babies that technically shouldn't have even been born yet (their due date was July 8), we have people everywhere praying for and helping us, and we have a wonderful family that we can be with forever. Our Heavenly Father has given us so much.

Henry and Norah also turned two months old today, so look for another post about how much they've changed coming soon!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Nursery reveal

I know it's been months since I talked about how we were decorating the nursery, but it's finally complete, and a lot of people have been asking me to post pictures.

Our sweet little babies have already been sleeping in it! I had Andrew hold Norah and Henry slept in his little rocker so I could quickly snap some pictures of the room. The lighting wasn't ideal, but you work with what you have when your babies are finally asleep and you have someone there who can hold them. :)


Just looking at these pictures makes me so happy, because the space is absolutely perfect for them. I knew I wanted a nautical theme, since I have been obsessed with all things sea-related for years (and it only got worse with our trip to Astoria, Oregon, last August). However, I didn't want to go too overboard (Wow! No pun intended, but it worked), and I wanted to keep things neutral since we were expecting a boy and a girl.

Andrew painted the walls a light grey, and then I kept the color palette to red, white and blue. I am a minimalist when it comes to design, so I didn't want too many things hanging on the wall. The sailboat my dad thrifted was absolutely perfect, and I picked some vinyl for their names and ordered some prints from Etsy for the other wall.

My mom, who is an amazing seamstress, made the anchor quilts by hand and basically came up with the design from a hazy idea I had of what I wanted them to look like. They are beautiful and made with so much love. I wish I had half of her talent!

The glider, which still needs new snaps for the armrests, was a Kid to Kid find. The cushions were originally a moss green and were filthy, so I picked out the blue material from JoAnn Fabrics and found a retired upholsterer through NextDoor (an app that connects you with your neighborhood) to recover them. I love how the pattern has a subtle nautical feel and adds more color and fun to their nursery — and it's also really comfortable and great for rocking Henry and Norah to sleep.

The storage cubes house the giant collection of children's books I've been thrifting and occasionally buying new since before I was married. As the daughter of an elementary school librarian, I was always reading kids' books and cherish the memories I have of The Berenstain Bears, Little Critter and Little House series. I am excited to think of reading these books to Henry and Norah at bedtime.

While only a piece of it is pictured, my mom also made a striped valance for their window. Andrew built drawers into their closet to hold all of their clothes as well. He spent hours on their room while I was basically on bed rest, and it looks fantastic.

Details for the furniture and decorations are below. I love having such a quiet space for our twins to eat and sleep.

  • Cribs: Ikea
  • Cube organizer: Target
  • Red fabric cubes: Target
  • Lamp: Ikea
  • Shark bank: Target
  • Shelf: Ikea
  • Sailboat: Thrifted
  • Vinyl names: Lucy Lews
  • Glider: Thrifted and reupholstered
  • Picture frames: Ikea
  • Prints: Lacey Fields

Friday, June 13, 2014

One month


Our sweet little Henry and Norah are five weeks old and came home yesterday! I never thought this time with them away from us in the NICU would pass so quickly, but it has flown by. I am actually finishing this up (I've had a draft started for two weeks now) while I watch them sleep. Here are the details of their first month:


Henry:
  • Did better than Norah at breathing initially and went off the oxygen two days before she did (right before he was a week old).
  • Started spitting up his food at about two weeks (right as we laid them together on a pillow in the hospital for the first time) and had to have an IV in his hand for three days to help him get enough fluids. They also reduced the calorie count of his feeding every three hours and started feeding him a sensitive formula to help him keep his food down. Since then, he's been eating like a champ and growing a little every day!
  • Has been chugging a bottle several times a day since week three. He makes adorable little sounds while he's eating and finishes more than his minimum ounces almost every time.
  • Loves it when I sing to him and falls asleep pretty quickly when I snuggle him against me and sing lullabies like "Love Me Tender" and "You Can Close Your Eyes."
  • Is a wiggleworm. When he was only a week old, he lifted his head up and shifted from his tummy to his side by himself.
  • Likes to sleep on his tummy best (though he really disliked that position at first and it was hard to watch him in his isolette, struggling to move a different way). He's now getting used to sleeping on his back since that's how he'll sleep at home where there are no monitors.
  • Is long and skinny (17 3/4 inches and 5 pounds 8 ounces), but his face has gotten chubbier in the past week. He has finally caught back up to Norah in weight, but his face and body are narrower than hers.
  • Had his feeding tube removed June 6 and has been eating at least 38 ml from a bottle at each feeding since then. He has also been pretty good at taking a pacifier from the beginning.
  • Was kind of concerned the first time we bathed him in the hospital and didn't love the experience — until we wrapped him up in towels and got him warm.


Norah:
  • Trailed behind Henry slightly at breathing on her own, but no longer needed oxygen after the first week.
  • Turns bright red when she's mad (like when she was having her temperature taken or diaper changed in the hospital) or when she's trying to poop. She also turns red when we're trying to burp her and she's holding her breath.
  • Has had a different bow on her head since Mother's Day (usually pink or red), which the nurses stuck on after they bathed her.
  • Kept her food down better than Henry and gained weight faster than him until the last week because he was on a reduced calorie count. At one point, she weighed about four ounces more than him; now he weighs two ounces more than her because his sensitive formula has more calories than hers.
  • Took longer to learn to suck, swallow and breathe while eating from a bottle. She would often scare us by not breathing while taking her formula, turning bright red and then finally taking a breath (or spitting up). She had her feeding tube removed June 7, a day after Henry, and has been doing really well with the bottle ever since — taking at least 43 ml most feedings.
  • Loves to be swaddled and is pretty content while she's sleeping, even while she's waiting for us to finish feeding Henry so we can feed her. She will often open her big eyes and just look around patiently while she's waiting for her turn, just making cooing sounds.
  • Has an adorably chubby face with a double chin and is slightly shorter than Henry (17 1/2 inches). She weighs 5 pounds 6 ounces, just trailing Henry.
  • Will usually calm down pretty quickly with just a firm hand on her stomach to let her know someone is there. She unfortunately doesn't take a pacifier for long, and we generally have to hold it in her mouth while she sucks on it.
  • Liked being bathed and was pretty happy until Andrew picked her up to rinse her off and then again to wrap her in a towel — but like Henry, she instantly stopped crying once she was warm and being held close.
Henry and Norah both moved from isolettes to open cribs (the little clear beds they put all full-term babies in) the night they turned a month old. This is also when they started wearing clothes for the first time, because they didn't need them in their heated beds, and they quickly grew out of preemie sizes. In fact, we bought preemie onesies for their one-month pictures and then donated them to the NICU right after because they were already tight on them. 

We feel so blessed that they only spent a little more than five weeks in the NICU — and they would have gone home at four weeks had their eyes been more developed. They are amazing and already little fighters, and we're grateful God has blessed us with two perfect gifts.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Introducing Henry and Norah

These have been both the shortest and longest two weeks of my life — and the most incredible. Our beautiful twins, Henry Andrew and Norah Kathryn, were born late in the evening on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. They were more than two months early and had just hit 31 weeks.

Henry
Norah

Since my blog has become more like my journal over the past few years, I'm including all the details I can about their birth here. Feel free to just skip to the pictures, since that's much more exciting. :)

As I mentioned in my last post, my doctor was worried about preeclampsia and I was waiting for the results from blood, glucose and urine tests. On Tuesday morning, I fell asleep for what I thought would be a short nap. Four hours later at about 2 p.m., I woke up and went to the bathroom to discover that the left half of my face was horribly swollen, like I'd been stung by a bee.

I was concerned about it, so I tried to send Andrew a text — except I sent it to my sister, who is a nurse, instead. She was inspired to tell me to call my doctor immediately. When I called, they still didn't have the results of my tests back and told me to have someone take me to labor and delivery right away to make sure the babies were OK.

I called Andrew to let him know, but he was stuck in a meeting and wouldn't be able to get to the house very quickly. Luckily, our amazing downstairs neighbor, Aubrey, was working from home and was able to take me to the hospital right away. I checked in and the nurse quickly put monitors on my stomach to check the babies' heart rates. They were both absolutely fine, and it was actually really cool to hear their heartbeats, because they were in sync after a while and just sounded like one heartbeat.

Andrew arrived about a half hour after us and held my hand while they monitored the babies. By this time, the swelling in my face had gone down a bit, but the nurses were still concerned about it. My doctor was actually at the hospital, but he was in surgery all day, so he hadn't been able to check on me. A little while later, the on-call doctor came in, saw my face, and said he thought it could be Bell's palsy, which could be a warning sign of a stroke. He had me head down to ER for an MRI to make sure nothing was wrong.

After being shuttled down to the ER and waiting to be taken in for the MRI, the on-call doctor came back in and told us he had good news: I did not have preeclampsia. We were starting to calm down and thinking that we might be able to head home from the hospital, since I'd been there about four hours waiting for my doctor to get out of surgery. Finally, at about 6:30 p.m., my doctor came in, and he did not have good news.

He'd been checking in with his nurses throughout the day to see whether my lab work was done, and it had taken longer than usual. He'd just heard back, and I had HELLP syndrome, which is a life-threatening complication where your liver and kidneys basically stop working and you are at risk for a stroke or seizures. The only way to stop HELLP syndrome is to deliver your babies, so Dr. Barney told us that our twins would be coming that night.

I remember starting to cry and looking at Andrew, who looked really worried. I'd been trying so hard to make it to even 32 weeks, and now our babies were coming even sooner than we'd planned.

While my doctor told me that a vaginal delivery might be possible, he said it would probably take two days for me to dilate enough since it was still so early, though I was having some tiny contractions that I couldn't even feel, and the labor could take a long time. Because of the risk to the babies and me, I opted to have a c-section. Dr. Barney had to head back to a different hospital for a surgery again, but he told me he'd be back soon and would perform the c-section between 9 and 10 p.m.

They wheeled me in for the MRI a few minutes later, while Andrew called my parents and his parents to let them know that the babies were coming very early. When I came back from the MRI, his parents were there and a man from his parents' church ward was on his way with some consecrated oil so that Andrew and his dad could give me a priesthood blessing. In our church, worthy men who hold the priesthood of God can give blessings of healing and comfort to those who are sick. We believe that God uses them as His mouthpiece to give these blessings.

In the blessing, I was promised that the twins and I would be OK, and I was counseled to trust the doctors and be relaxed. It was a great comfort to me, especially when the results of the MRI came back soon afterward and were normal.

I called my parents to let them know that the MRI results were fine, and they told me they were trying to figure out how to get down to Utah as fast as they could (a four-hour drive) after they found a substitute for my mom for work the next day and got home to pack.

Some nurses and a firefighter (not really sure why he was there) wheeled me back up to labor and delivery so they could start me on magnesium, which was supposed to help with the effects of HELLP syndrome. They actually took me to the wrong floor at first and had me in a weird room that looked like it had been vacant for months until a nurse called to find out where I was. By this time, I had a throbbing headache and was desperately thirsty and hungry because I hadn't eaten anything since 9 that morning, so everything was kind of a blur.

Finally, they got me back down to the right room where a kind nurse, Brooke, bundled me up and helped me calm down. Andrew's parents were in the room, too, and we were all just waiting for the doctor to come back. A NICU doctor came in to let me know that he would be taking care of the twins when they were born and that they'd immediately be taken to the NICU so the nurses could help them breathe and make sure they were OK. He also warned us that they would probably be in the NICU for two months because they were coming so early.

Andrew rushed home around 8 p.m. to grab our camera, phone chargers and my hospital bag (which already had most of the stuff I needed because I knew something was wrong and had been preparing) and came back to hear that Dr. Barney was still at the other hospital in surgery and would probably be back closer to 9:30.

Brooke handed Andrew a blue jumpsuit, hat and shoe covers so he could be in the operating room with me, and they were a little snug (or, as she put it, "one size fits nobody"), so we had to take a picture of him for posterity.


At about 10:15 p.m. (my doctor had called again to let us know that he was trying to hurry, but would probably not be back until after 10), the nurses wheeled me in to the operating room for the spinal anesthetic. The NICU doctor who would be helping with the c-section, Dr. Lapine, had me sit on the edge of the table and hug a pillow tightly as I bent at the waist. The spinal hurt, but it wasn't as bad as I'd imagined it would be, and I tried to relax even though my legs had started shaking because the room was freezing cold.

The doctors then had me lie down and put up some tall blue curtains so I wouldn't be able to see anything and let Andrew in. They started poking my stomach to see if the anesthetic had set in yet — and even though I still felt a little pain in my upper stomach, they went forward and made the incision. I held Andrew's hand as they clamped my stomach and then felt a lot of pressure.

Finally, after what felt like both doctors were standing on my stomach, they delivered Henry at 10:40 p.m. He cried just a little bit, and the NICU nurses immediately whisked him away before I could even see him. One minute later, Norah was born. She hardly made a sound, and the other NICU team immediately took her to get her on oxygen.

Andrew snapped pictures of the babies and told me what was happening, and the doctors started trying to stitch my stomach back together. Unfortunately, the anesthetic had not penetrated as far as it should have (which is what I'd been afraid of), and I started throwing up and couldn't stop. Andrew held my hand and tried to calm me down, but one of the doctors had to put me out for a few minutes so they could finish stitching me up.

When I woke up, they were wheeling me back to my hospital room and I was in shock and had to be wrapped up in warm blankets to stop the shaking. Andrew had been in and out of the NICU taking pictures and watching the nurses caring for our beautiful babies. He showed me photos, since I still wasn't able to see them, and Brooke finally let me suck on some ice to see if I'd be able to keep any fluids down.

My parents arrived shortly after midnight, and they, Andrew and Andrew's parents all went to the NICU to see Henry and Norah. The magnesium I was on made me feel like I was on fire and very sleepy, so I fought to stay awake. I kept asking about seeing my babies, but I was told I'd have to wait until the morning. My dad took a quick nap and left at about 2:30 a.m. to head back to Idaho, since he was the only one certified to give a test at the high school the next day, and my mom went to our house to sleep.

I slept off and on throughout the night as Brooke kept checking my blood pressure and blood and trying to get me to keep liquids and food down. I also had inflatable compression socks on my legs to get the swelling down and kept getting interrupted to take pain medicine.

Finally, at about noon on Wednesday, I got to see Henry and Norah for the first time in the NICU. They were tiny but absolutely beautiful and perfect. I felt such overwhelming gratitude that they were healthy and being taken care of. We were able to reach through the beds and touch their hands, which was amazing. Even though they were so little (Henry weighed 3.8 pounds and was 16.5 inches long, and Norah was 3.6 and 14.5 inches long), they were strong and fighting already. It was hard to believe they were ours.

Henry

Norah

We are so in love with our babies and feel so blessed. I am fortunate to even be alive, and we have beautiful children that are healthy and growing. Andrew pointed out that though it's sad to have them in the NICU for possibly two months, these are basically bonus months that we have with our Henry and Norah. It's so special to watch them getting stronger and knowing that they are ours to take care of once they come home.

Monday, May 5, 2014

30 (almost 31) weeks

Top: Heritage (Costco) | Skirt: The Chic Orchid | Necklace: The Chic Orchid

I'm about to start week 31, but Andrew snapped this photo of me last Thursday — right after I got the bad news at the doctor's office that I probably have preeclampsia.

What does this mean? We won't know for sure until after some more tests today, but if it's severe preeclampsia, they could take the babies at 32 weeks. If it's milder, they'll wait until 37 weeks. I am feeling overwhelmed thinking that our little twins could arrive in just one week, and I am worried that they'll be tiny and spend a lot of time in the NICU.

In the meantime, I have been taking it easy, as my legs and feet continue to swell and get really sore. Andrew pushed me around Target in a wheelchair (which felt SO weird) to get some preemie clothes for the babies, just in case, along with a few other necessities. He has also been putting the finishing touches on the nursery and assembling the carseats in case they arrive early.

I am fortunate to be able to work from home, so I still have plenty to keep me busy, and I will be spending several days this week at the doctor's office and the hospital for ultrasounds and non-stress tests. I also had steroid shots over the weekend to help the babies' lungs develop faster.

We have felt so much love from everyone over the past week! Andrew and I celebrated my birthday in Jackson, Wyoming, and then spent the next couple days in Idaho. The baby shower my mom and sister-in-law put together was beautiful (you can see pics on Instagram), and my aunts, cousins, sisters-in-law, grandmothers and friends were there and were incredibly generous.

My mom made two gorgeous baby quilts for the twins' cribs (pictures coming with the nursery reveal!), and my sister-in-law made cupcakes, little sailboat jello cups and cute little diaper cakes. It was a lot of fun and nice to see family and friends, some I hadn't seen in years.

We also celebrated with my youngest brother, Reggie, who just left May 2 for a three-month LDS mission in Nauvoo, Illinois. He'll be playing in a brass band during the summer months, and we are so excited for him — though I miss him already. I'm sure he'll be a wonderful missionary, and he'll come back in time to snuggle our little newborn twins.

Clearly not much fits right now, since I'm in the same outfit both times. :)

The women from my church ward also threw me a shower Friday night, and two other moms who have twins gave me some great advice and helped me calm down a bit. Whether these babies come in a week or six weeks, we'll be ready to love them and take care of them. I feel so much love from my Heavenly Father and know that He is aware of Andrew and me and our tiny little twins.