Monday, December 31, 2012

new year's eve

At this year draws to a close I sit here trying to reflect on how very blessed I am, but I am just so overcome with tears as all of my blessings come to mind- too many to even begin listing here, but I will certainly jot them down and tuck it in a safe spot as a friendly reminder for a rough day.  There were plenty of ups and downs this year, but as long as I have my family by me and we have our health, nothing else matters.  Here's to a safe, healthy, and happy 2013 for everyone!

Gabriella - 17 months old - loves being tickled, giving kisses,  and dancing

Benjamin - 17 months old - loves music, playing with trucks, and reading books

Friday, December 14, 2012


I'm at a loss for words.  My heart breaks for all of the families in Newtown.  I hope God sent down fleets upon fleets of angels to guide all of those innocent children and teachers Home.

Hugging Gabriella and Benjamin a little bit tighter tonight.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

World Prematurity Day

Today, November 17 is World Prematurity Day.  This year marks the second annual day of awareness worldwide.  This article is a decent place to start for raising awareness.  Over 15 million babies a year are born before 37 weeks.  The most shocking statistic for me though was that "along with stillbirths, prematurity claims the lives of about 4 million babies each year and is the leading cause of death in the newborn period."  

Gabriella and Benjamin were considered late term preemies at 34 weeks.  I realize that the differences between 24 or 25 week old preemies and my preemies are indescribable.  However, without serious medical intervention in the NICU at Christ Hospital for two full weeks for my sweet baby girl and for exactly one month for my brave little boy, I would not have them at home with me today.  I know this.  They absolutely would not have survived.  If not for the grace of God and the knowledge and skill of our medical team, our story would have ended in tragedy.

Gabriella Margaret - shortly after birth

my tiny Gabriella was such a trooper 

my first time feeding her, just 5 ml of breast milk was such a challenge for her

we were so blessed to be able to hold Gabriella about 10 hours after birth
Benjamin is in the incubator in the background, directly across from his sister

Benjamin Ryan - shortly after birth

my sweet Benjamin had to be stronger than any little baby should have to be

after 11 very long days, I finally got to hold my baby Benjamin in my arms, still intubated

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

on being thankful

It seems as though almost everyone is spending the month of November writing gratitude and thankful posts.  Although I deactivated my Facebook account days after Gabriella and Benjamin were born, I read a post from another blogger about how FB is being lit up with what people are blessed or thankful to have (all of the "blessed for my babies" were getting to her).  I think it's fantastic to publicly proclaim one's blessings.  I do.  I simply hope that they all appreciate who and what they have on a daily basis year-round.
If I were a better blogger perhaps I would have jumped on the bandwagon, too.  But I'm not a great blogger.  And lately I just don't feel like that great of a person.  I wake up every day and give the day everything I've got, but somedays I just have more to give than other days.  So, while I'm not documenting this month with the thirty things I am most thankful for, you better believe that I count my blessings each night.

My heart is heavy tonight for these two gals- Jenn (Stupid Stork passed the word along) and Leslie.  If you're the praying type, please add them to the list.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

pumpkin patch and Halloween

Last Friday we took Gabriella and Benjamin to a small, local pumpkin patch.  They really got a kick out of the straw maze!

And then yesterday, for Halloween, Gabriella dressed up as a pink birdie and Benjamin was a friendly dragon!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

play time, all of the time

We spend so.much.time. in the playroom.  The playroom is actually our dining room, but before we got Lucy we moved the dining room set to the basement and made the space into the babies' playroom.  Gabriella and Benjamin are growing so fast and changing so much!!  Here are a few pictures of an afternoon in the playroom this week:

Gabriella loves snuggling in laps and being tickled!  She loves watching Lucy outside from the playroom window and always shares lots of food off of her high chair tray with her puppy!!!

Benjamin loves reading books (especially the touch and feel truck board book), playing with his cars,  and giving kisses.  He is crazy about his puppy Lucy!!!

I just die when this baby girl flashes her pearly whites!
(15 months)

Benjamin's smile just melts my heart!
(15 months)

Daddy and the babies having some quiet time reading.

Mommy and Benjamin reading his new truck book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Today is the day we remember all the babies that left this earth way too soon.  If you're home tonight, please consider lighting a candle in remembrance of all of the little ones that are missed today and everyday, and to support their families.  At 7 pm (in all time zones) light that flame and keep it burning for 1 hour so there will be a continuous wave of light.  And if you're the praying type, please say an extra prayer of comfort for all of the mommies and daddies and families that have aching arms and hearts.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gabriella's exciting news

I am beyond excited to report that today was Gabriella's first day off of ALL medicines!  I still have the spreadsheets that we were using to keep track of it all upstairs in the nursery.  Last November/December when her hemangioma ulcerated, Gabriella was getting medicine 17 times a day.  Yup, 17 times a day- propranolol 3 times. no sooner than every six hours with a meal, hydrocodone every 4 hours around the clock for pain management, zantac 3 times a day, prilosec once a day, prednisolone once a day, mineral oil twice a day, regranix once a day applied topically.  Even once things settled down, she's still gotten a minimum of 3 doses of medicine a day.  So, when you range anywhere from 3-17 times a day having to administer medicine, today was an exciting day for us!!!  She's come a long way.  Every day this sweet little girl just amazes me and melts my heart with her beautiful spirit.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

an entire year has passed

It's almost impossible to believe that an entire year has already gone by without my Greta.  She sat with me through my darkest days and nights and brought me comfort when no words from family, friends, or doctors were good enough.  She was my first baby before my human babies came along.  I miss her like crazy and still love that gentle giant more than I can explain.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July recap in photos

all ready for the big bash
Gabriella and Daddy
Benjamin and Mommy

Lucy is 4 month old and weighs 55 pounds already!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday!

One year ago today was the happiest day of my life - the day Gabriella and Benjamin were born.  I can not believe how fast this last year has gone by.  It's bittersweet; I want my babies to stay babies but am just thrilled to have happy, healthy babies in my arms that are getting bigger and stronger every day. 
We had a small celebration today with some presents and a couple of smash cakes and a big Mickey and Minnie Mouse cake that Uncle Nick and Auntie Brooke bought for the babies:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

physical therapy

Because he spent so much time in the NICU, every three months Benjamin goes back for a neonatal follow up.  We elect to have a physical therapist and a speech/language therapist come in and spend some time with the big guy at these appointments.  Back in October there were some slight concerns about overall core and trunk strength.  They gave us the phone number for Early Intervention and a handout with some exercises to do at home, no biggie.  We waited a bit to call EI, wanting to give Benjamin some time to see how things worked out.
In December he was evaluated, but did not meet any criteria for services - which was a good thing because there has to be a 30% or more delay to qualify.  So we were very happy about that, but at the same time if he needed support we wanted to be proactive and get it sooner than later.
In January (at his 6 month neo appointment), pretty much the same concerned were brought up, and we explained that he did not qualify the month prior.
In the beginning of May at his 9 month appointment, Benjamin was still not sitting up unsupported and when he crawled it was more of an army crawl or he'd roll where he wanted to go.  So we made the decision to have EI come back and re-evaluate him.  This time around he qualified for physical therapy for his core and trunk muscles.  Babies on oxygen for an extended period of time often have low muscle tone, no biggie.  By the time services started (about 3-4 weeks later), he was sitting up and crawling!  We're still going ahead with therapy every week right now.  He is doing a fantastic job!  He'll be flaunting his six pack by the end of summer.  =)  Benjamin not only closed the gap between him and Gabriella, but he even passed her up for a week by pulling to a full standing position on toys and chairs before she did!!!
While everyone continues to adjust his age for prematurity, I really feel like in addition to the 6 weeks he came early, he lost another 4 weeks in the NICU.  He was intubated for a total of 17 days and very heavily sedated for quite a while.  Find me somebody who thinks that he didn't "lose" those weeks developmentally when he wasn't eating or moving or being held or ANYTHING, and I'll crack 'em upside their head.  For real.
All babies are different, but I just feel like a lot of people are super aware of what Benjamin is and isn't doing.  And it makes it hard when Gabriella (or other babies) hit *milestones* at a certain time and he doesn't.  Who the heck cares if he crawls at 8 months or 11 months?  Or if he bangs two objects together.  Or waves bye-bye (which my princess doesn't even do yet).  Honest to goodness, give the kid a break.  Things will happen in their own time.  Benjamin is seriously THE happiest baby in the whole wide world.  And after a rough start (going back to his placenta starting to detach just weeks into my pregnancy, dealing with pneumonia/an open pda/ a heart murmur/ extremely underdeveloped lungs/etc, and riding with lights and sirens when he desatted at home) he's here and doing just beautifully!  I couldn't ask for anything more from my little man!!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

life lately

Daily life over here has been pretty uneventful, which is just fine in my book!  Gabriella and Benjamin will typically sleep in until between 7:15 and 8:30, but that's after having an early morning bottle.  Then they'll play and eat and play some more until it's nap time, around 3 hours later.  After naps, it's more of the same.  If it's nice out, we'll head outside to play or splash in the baby pools, or we'll take the short ride over to Grandma and Grandpa's house for a dip in the big pool.  A couple of times a week we'll have playdates with Auntie Brooke, Dominick, and Owen.  All of this excitement is followed by more food and bottles and an afternoon nap.  Once Jamie gets home from work, they can't get enough of him.  Just this week Gabriella started saying Dada; up until now it was just hi.  So, here's life lately, in pictures: