Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

We felt our family incomplete
And hoped to add some more.
"Three!" the darling dad announced.
But I thought maybe four.
I prayed for strength, I prayed for help,
I said we wouldn't mind.
This was His chance to send them both;
"Please don't leave one behind."

I suspected very early
But I still wasn't prepared.
When the doctor said "you're having twins!"
I laughed, but felt so scared.
Daddy was in shock that day
"What happened to the plan?
You prayed for what? You crazy girl!
Now we have to drive a van!"

We prayed to feel God's comfort
To know it all would be ok.
"They'll be just fine", we knew it then
And remember still today.
The funny thing about answers
With our understanding flawed,
Is that "fine" did not mean what we thought.
"Fine" was something else to God.

The months wore on, our babies grew;
We found out they were boys!
We eagerly anticipated
The love, the work, the joys.
We bought several matching outfits,
We used family and friends
To help us make it through the worst,
To hold on to the end.

Then unexpectedly one night
We had to call our neighbor.
My water broke, we had to go;
I had started preterm labor.
All hell broke loose, it was so fast;
I woke up with the dawn.
My husband had to tell me that
Our little one was gone.

They brought his quiet body
To my room for me to hold.
I felt his valiant spirit then,
So noble, strong, and bold.
He touched our lives so deeply.
Such a tiny little guy!
We spent the day together
Before we said goodbye.

We mourned his death, the crushing blow,
One foot before the other.
Then turned to battle once again;
We had to save his brother.
While grieving for the loss of Dex,
We fought to keep our Crew.
We knew his brother strove with him;
We felt his presence too.

"Your darling may not make it,"
They all told us many times.
We took the NICU rollercoaster
With its inherent dips and climbs.
Surgeries and setbacks
Became the "normal" for our lives.
We never had a guarantee
That this brother would survive.

Survive, he did, and beat the odds!
He came home three months later.
Our joy is full, our hearts at peace,
Just one thing would make it greater.
In sleep reposed, we see his face,
The one he shares with Crew.
Our angel Dex, so loved, so dear,
We wish we had him too.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Being outside has taken some adjustment for nature-phobe Crew, but this morning he decided that sunshine, wind, and grass are not-so-bad.

He joined me outside while I reweeded and planted some flowers for our Dex memory garden. I found some gorgeous, deer-resistent batik irises that seem to be blooming a little more purplish than bluish, but they are still beautiful and Dex knows they are for him.

Crew lasted longer than I expected, but we had help. My neighbor is also my VT companion and a former NICU nurse. She was out on a walk this morning and stopped by to play with Crew while I finished up the final planting. I turned around to find him on his knees; I burst out laughing, delighted with the impromptu PT session. You can take the nurse out of the NICU...

Here is Crew sitting on our "outdoor blanket", also known as the "Katie-blanket", so named for the ex-girlfriend that gave it to Justin many years ago. When we got married, I told him we could keep it if it stayed in the trunk of our car as a picnic blanket. Am I mean?
He rolled onto the grass and didn't melt down. I love this face. I wonder what he's thinking...
Then he got busy exploring in the grass. It needs a good mowing again. It tickles my ankles. This property owning thing is serious business. The accidental over-fertilizing has created a jungle out there.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sick Sick Sick

Well, surprise, surprise, little Crew is sick AGAIN. This is the third illness in 8 weeks and it's doing nothing for our weight-gain goals or our PT goals, I can assure you.

We missed the NICU graduate reunion yesterday and I'm so bummed about it! I have been looking forward to this weekend since we missed the reunion last year when we went out of town! We stayed home and I held him while he coughed in my face and cried on my lap all afternoon.

He's on the mend. He's improving, sleeping "humidified" in his own private tropic paradise.

Monday, May 17, 2010

He WILL Grow...

One Double Stuff Oreo cookie at a time...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fattening The Babe

Well, I'm a woman on a mission and a mother obsessed.

I feel like I have just taken on a full time job trying to fatten this kid up and I'm not sure that my efforts are going to show on the scale for a while. It seems that the more calories I add to his plate, the less volume he ingests. I have only been able to shove in a few hundred more daily calories into him. Hopefully it will make a difference.

And keeping him hydrated right now is a joke. Which does no favors for his hunger.

I was feeling really guilty for not catching this a few months ago. In the last few days, I've been able to step back and examine the whole picture and his total feeding history and I'm feeling less guilty and more proud of him than ever. We've come an incredibly long way with his eating in the last year and a half and we've both worked really hard at it. These few extra calories a day are worth the effort of today, but not worth the guilt of yesterday.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Crew has really embraced this whole communication thing. We are all reveling in the breakthrough.

In sign:

Crew says "up".

Crew says "more" sometimes.

Crew kind of says "all done", I think.

Crew can find his head. Kinley and I even think he is trying to say "head" with words. We hear something that sound suspiciously like "heh" when he is showing us his noggin.

Just this morning he raised his arm and pointed with his hand in the direction he wanted me to take him. Very calmly, very purposefully, he pointed to our bedroom. He wanted to see if Daddy was still here. This is a first. I usually have to follow his eyes.

Crew is assertively reaching and pointing at things that he wants that are out of reach instead of squirming, whimpering, or crying and making us guess. He has been grabbing at things within his reach for months, but if it was too far away, he would either cry and hope we figured out what he wanted and fetch it for him or, more often, decide it wasn't worth fighting for and turn his attention to something else.

He understands "diaper" verbally and in sign and takes instructions on who to pass his diaper to.

I feel like we have suddenly cracked some mysterious code that allows us access to the inner workings of Crew's mind. Clearly he has just been waiting for us to give him the cypher. He is bright as a penny, sharp as a tack.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Weight Schmeight

I took Crew in for his 18-month check-up this morning. He has only put on 1.5 pounds in the last 6 months and tips the scales at a measly 16 pounds. He's on his own tiny little curve waaaaaaay below the charts. But... at least it's curving, right?

We're revamping his diet. Butter and cream for this kid. And we'll be trying Pediasure because it's higher calorie than the beefed-up formula milkshakes that he's been on. Hopefully he likes the taste. He's been doing Carnation instant breakfast sometimes. He kind of likes that. When he's in the mood.

More calories will help him grow plump but will also build muscles. Mus-kules will help him in the gross motor category.

Our pediatrician wasn't super impressed with the gross motor progress that he has made. He seemed more concerned about the gross motor skills yet to be mastered. He suggested we look into private physical therapy to add to our existing regimen. I've looked into it. Mmmmm... I don't know.

Bah. Can't please everyone all the time.

Did I mention that he has started communicating this week?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog...

...for a very important announcement.

"Houston! We. have. communication!"

Last week Kinley and I attended a communication seminar so that we can better help Crew communicate his likes and dislikes with something other than screaming or, my favorite, throwing his head back and screaming.

On a side note, getting permission for Kinley to attend the seminar was much more dramatic than I would have expected, but PT Julie came through for us, as she always does. It seems we're one of those high-maintenance families that dares to think outside of the box. What? Full family involvement? What's that all about? Er?

I digress. As usual. And I'm going to do it again:

Once upon a time, when I was a missionary in Latvia, one of my long-term assignments was to serve as a Latvian Sign Language translator. Through my service in that capacity, signing became an integral piece of my soul and I always intended to teach my own children sign language.

Latvian Sign Language bears little to no resemblance to ASL, so I signed up for a community ASL class shortly after Justin and I were married. The teacher was a pervert who called me at home late at night a few times to hit on me with such questions as "have you been thinking about me?" and "what do you like about me?" even though he knew that I was married. He was deaf and the conversation would have been awkward with a hearing person, but it was really icky being translated through the TDD relay system. I'm sure the girl who was relaying on our behalf had the willies. I got my money back on the class and never pursued it again.

I planned to learn something for Kinley, but she started speaking freakishly early, at 10 months. She was in full sentences by 14 months, unnerving people at the grocery store with her tiny body and gigantic vocabulary. Tanner didn't speak as early, but I kept expecting him to start at any moment, so we didn't do sign for him either.

But now... I have my signing baby!

We are working on a few signs, including "up", "more", "want", "eat", "drink", and "all done". We bought the first two Signing Time DVD's and watched the first one last night. Kinley is by far the most excited about signing. She has been practicing all day.

We are also working with Crew to help him make choices. Choices require him to point, reach, or otherwise make a physical gesture to indicate his desires, which will eventually help him realize that he can just start asking for things once in a while. I'm an awfully gifted guesser, but it would be a lot easier on all of us if he would just tell us in some way what's on his mind without the extra drama. When he wants/hates something, he simply starts melting down and we start scrambling to interpret. Why would he do anything else when this irritating method has worked so marvelously for him thus far?

As for the main point of this post:

For the last several days, Crew has responded enthusiastically and without tears to the question "do you want UP?" I don't even have to reach for him to give him a clue. He is responding to the verbal question alone and it's absolutely fantastic!! He is even asking sometimes without being prompted. He simply smiles and throws his arms up to ask me to pick him up. See how cute? No panic in his eyes, no tears.

He has mastered his very first sign. I feel about this the way I felt about him learning to sit. Once he finally started sitting, I felt confident that crawling and walking would come eventually. I believe that now that he has realized that he can tell me what he wants on this issue, it's only a matter of time before he starts making a whole litany of requests!

In other development, Crew now rolls around instead of just rolling over. He now tumbles around the room, getting stuck in all kinds of places. It's awesome! No longer does he just cry or quietly give up if something he wants is too far away from him. He has figured out that he can get it.

His skills are exploding and we could not be more proud of our little guy. Go, Crew!


Here are some photos of the Critter tasting his first asparagus.... is he so cute or what?

Woo-hoo-haa-haaa!! He's mine, all mine!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bumbo Nap

Sometimes you just have to accept naps wherever and whenever you can get 'em.

Crib Critter

He's been in his very own bed for two nights. He didn't wake up once through the night. In fact, he is still sleeping. He was snoring like a wee little log when I snuck into his room this morning to find school clothes for Kinley.

Perhaps it was all the flan he ate at our friend's (uber-fantastic, ultra-delicious, mega-fun) Cinco de Mayo celebration last night. Hopefully he'll be in a great mood for his PT appt this morning.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Co-Sleeping Is Not In My Wheelhouse

We tried it.

We hated it.

We let the Critter linger another few days in the interest of his full recovery (plus, co-sleeping has always been my secret wish). I'm now ready to get the energetic, heat-seeking wiggle-worm out of my bed.