Friday, June 30, 2006

June 30, 2006

Todd has been busy snapping photos at every opportunity, so I am titling today's post as:

Gratuitous Baby Photo Montage

One word: Angels.

This is mommy heaven.

Devin with his two little sisters.

Have you ever seen anything so cute?

Our girls.

The modified "Welcome Home" sign, courtesy of PaPa.

My dad and Devin decorating the yard. I am sure our homeowner's association just loved this.

That's one happy Nana of NINE!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

June 29, 2006

Working on 90 minutes of sleep. Too tired to write anything of worth. Wouldn't make sense anyway.

But I do want to share this article, shared with me by good friend and blog-inspirer Meg Beach. It goes along with my post from the 27th of June.

"Top Comments You'll Hear as a Parent of Twins"

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

June 27, 2006

As will be the trend in my upcoming posts, this will have to be quick. I'm sure that someone very small and very pink will be hollering for one thing or another soon.

Things are going very well here in the Pruetz house. Sleep is a very elusive thing, especially last night when Grace decided that she would cry from 1:30 a.m. until 5:30 a.m. Todd's alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. You do the math.

But aside from walking around like zombies, we couldn't be happier with our little bundles of (noisy) joy.

Today I took the girls to see their pediatrician for the first time. I harbored a lot of anxiety about the trip -- getting the girls and their stupid apnea monitors in and out of the building using the enourmous double stroller, what to do with Devin and keeping him in line (as if that's possible) and what Dr. Trexler would say. I took Addison, my eight-year-old niece with me as a diversionary tactic for Devin and she was a huge help. Learning to manuever the stroller will take some time and I'll be so darned happy when we can rid ourselves of the monitors. I felt like a bull in a china shop with all of my "equipment."

The appointment went as any other pediatrician appointment would go. Take their temps, weigh them, check limbs and joints and measure stuff. Happily, the girls are doing perfectly. Faith weighs 5 lbs, 0 oz while Grace is tipping the scales at 5 lbs, 13 oz.

Just for good measure, Dr. T sent us over to the hospital next door to do a CBC (complete blood count), just to make sure there are no abnormalities in the vitamins and minerals present in our blood.

So we packed up all of the stuff and the kiddos into the minivan (Todd calls it Black Thunder...) -- an event that takes at least seven or eight minutes -- and drove a block-and-a-half to the hospital parking lot. Once again, Addy got Devin out of the car, while I fought with the stoller, got the girls out of the car and into the stroller and tried doing so without setting off the very loud monitors. Success. But it took nearly ten minutes. I kid you not.

The hospital was fine and the bloodwork looks good. Both girls are perfectly healthy.

But my first outing with Faith and Grace was an eye-opening experience. The world loves a set of twins. The world especially loves a set of identical twins. And the world has no problem letting you know how much it loves them.

I'm not usually one to shy away from attention. In fact, give me the spotlight and it'll take a hook to get me off stage. But when it comes to my very small, very premature children, I get a little antsy. And so, as stranger after stranger after stranger stopped to say, "Oh look twins!" or to tell me about their niece in Chicago who had quadruplets last summer, I started to get a little frustrated. First of all, I couldn't get three feet without someone stopping me. Secondly, why did they all feel the need to touch them??? I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

As we were leaving the hospital, a tour was coming through and when we passed them, all 15 or 20 men and women sighed, "Awwwww..." in unison. Do they rehearse this stuff?

Okay. I'm outta here. Devin is requesting a "Thomas the Tank Engine" book this evening and I must oblige. Poor kid -- his center-of-attention status has been ripped away. He's doing well though. We're very proud.

Pray for sleep for us. We need it. :)


Sunday, June 25, 2006

June 25, 2006

By now, you've probably figured out that the girls are home. Otherwise, I would have posted something here! But between feedings every three hours, sleepless nights and trying to keep a toddler entertained, writing has sort of become an elusive pasttime. I have a few minutes now that the girls are fed and Devin and Todd are downstairs.

We started this whole process with the rooming-in experience at the hospital. Personally, I think it was a huge waste of time. I mean, I understand that the situation is different because the girls are preemies and because there are two of them. But really, the only difference is that I was up every three hours to feed them. Otherwise, I may as well have been at home. There was nothing significant about the event.

I was up at 8:00 on Friday morning and, after feeding the girls, I jumped in the shower and got dressed so that I could be ready for discharge. I was ready to get my girls home!

And then I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.

With NICU discharge, you have to jump through a lot of hoops before they let you go. I needed to see the respiratory therapist, the physical therapist, the lactation consultant, the doctor and the nutitionist before I could even get the paperwork started.

And, of course, this is a hospital, so each of these people are own his or her own schedule. I was hoping to be out of there by 11:00. We left at 4:45.

It was fun, though, in that Dad, Jean and my stepsister Amanda all came to the hospital to see the babies. They stuck around for the discharge (Todd was there too, of course) and it was this big celebration as they wheeled me out of the room with my two pink bundles in my arms. Dad got lots of video -- It's so awesome.

We arrived home around 5:30 and shortly thereafter, Dad, Jean and Amanda arrived with a full party of fun -- balloons, pink plates, napkins and forks, champagne, etc. ZZ showed up with a seven-foot-tall inflatable stork for the front yard and Dad put out a sign that once read, "It's a Girl," but that he modified to say, "It's Girls!" The entire Devins/Buller/Mylar/Pruetz family dined on Pei Wei and celebrated the twins' homecoming.

The dust cleared a few hours later and it was just me, Todd, Devin and the girls. It was so nice to have the whole family together at last.

The past couple of nights haven't been easy, but did anyone expect differently? Around 4:00 this morning, after only a few brief moments of sleep here and there, I told Todd, "Let's put them in separate cribs and see if they are more comfortable apart than they are together."

Sure enough, with one in the pack-n-play and one in the bassinet, they slept much better. No doubt they love to be together, but they scootch around too much to be comfortable right up on one another when they sleep.

So now I type, bleary-eyed and hazy, but living and so happy to have all three of my kids (wow!) at home.

As soon as I get a little bit of sleep, I'll type more. Remind me to tell the story of our first night at home with the girls and how their apnea monitors, all seven of our smoke detectors and our intrusion alarm all went off at the exact same time. It's a real hoot. :)

With love,

Thursday, June 22, 2006

June 22, 2006

It's been a wild and wooly few days here in the Pruetz household. Let me see if I can make this quick (sure -- and hell's about to freeze over...).

Currently, my entire family is vacationing at Lake LBJ. We do this every year -- my dad and stepmom rent a house in some mutually agreeable place and the two of them along with ZZ, myself, our four stepsisters and all of their families spend a week of family time together. It's tons and tons of fun.

But this year was a problem because of the girls and Todd's new job. So we decided not to go. But then I thought about it. Lake LBJ is only 90 minutes from here -- Devin and I could easily drive up, spend one night and drive back, giving us both a little vacation. We decided to do it and we left Tuesday morning after I went to see the girls.

But we almost didn't go because I got the news that the girls would be coming home on Thursday (today)!

That's right -- Faith and Grace have been deemed well enough to come home! It's been a long five weeks and there's still a lot to do around here. I don't even have any diapers for them! So much to think about...

But I decided that Devin (who's feeling a little neglected these days) and I needed one last hurrah before the girls come home and we went to the lake. We rode in the pontoon boat, Devin (along with Aunt ZZ, since I can't get into the water yet) was pulled in an intertube behind the boat (it was a disaster -- he was terrified), swam in the pool, took a tour of a local cave system and generally had fun just hanging around. Lake LBJ is beautiful and the cabin we rented was spectacular.

We returned yesterday afternoon to get the final preparations made for the arrival of the rest of the family to our home.

On my way back, though, I got a phone call from the nurse-practitioner in the NICU. Apparently, both Faith and Grace had had apnea episodes during a feeding on Tuesday. Apnea isn't much to worry about as long as it's happening during feeding times. It just means they got a little ahead of themselves and forgot to breathe. Pretty typical, even at their gestation.

Regardless, they want to send both girls home with Apnea monitors. It's a machine that will tell you if they don't breathe for 15 seconds. It's a safeguard, but I'm pretty happy to have it. Peace of mind for me, if nothing else.

They also want me to "room-in" with the girls tonight. It's a dry run, often done with families of preemies and/or multiples. It gives you a chance to sleep in the same room with your kids and do everything just like you would at home, but have a nurse at your disposal should you need one. I'm not tickled about spending another night at Chateau de Methodist, but if it means my girls will come home, then I'll do it.

So, we're pushing the homecoming back from today until tomorrow. If all goes well tonight, then we'll just do discharge in the morning and I'll be home with three kids by lunchtime.

I can't lie here -- I've got a certain amount of anxiety. In fact, I have a lot of anxiety. How am I going to do this? How does one take three kids to the grocery store? Where do I put the two car seats? Where does Devin sit? Devin is also a pretty typical three-year-old boy. He's loud, rambunctious and defiant at times. How am I going to get him to behave when I'm trying to take care of two infants? It's a full time job as it is.

I know that I did this when I was about to be hospitalized. I over-thought the whole thing and was a victim of my own mind. But I know the next few months are going to be very tough and I apologize in advance if I go for a long time without updating this blog. Luckily, writing it therapeutic for me, so maybe this blog can be my escape. We'll see...

But certainly my joy and relief over Faith and Grace coming home is outweighing my anxiety. They'll finally be here. Five weeks, to-the-day, since they were born and home they will come. It's a dream come true.

More updates to come...


Monday, June 19, 2006

June 19, 2006 Continued

Usually, if I update a date, I do it under the same blog date, but this time I decided I would stray from the norm because I have extra-special great news: The girls are coming home!

As is my usual custom, I went to the hospital around 9:00 today. I got there a little late and the girls had taken their feedings already. I was a little disappointed that I had missed being there for the feedings, but the nurse said, "Well -- they are on all feedings by mouth now, so there are a lot of opportunities."

I was thrilled to hear that -- all meals by mouth is one step closer to home! My friend Linda was with me and I turned to her and said, "That's the last step out the door!"

The nurse said, "Oh yes, you're close. In fact, they are on ad-lib feedings (which means that they can have as much as they want) The nurse-practitioner wants to talk with you."

Sure enough, in walked the N-P, Jane, and she said, "Both girls are doing so well. We'd like them to take their feedings by mouth for a few days and make sure they gain weight. If all goes well, they could be home by the end of this week, at the earliest. Early next week is probably the best estimate though. We'll need you to bring in their car seats so we can do a car seat study on each of them."

You all have no idea what hearing this did to me. For a month now, I have been picking up on cues as to what will be said when they are getting closer to home. I knew that they would be on all feedings by mouth (no feeding tube), would be asked to do a car seat study (to make sure they "fit" in the car seat, despite their tiny sizes, and don't have any fluctuations in their vital signs) and would have ad-lib feedings. To think that I heard all of those things in one day -- it just blows my mind. My girls will likely be home in a week. Together.

My eyes welled up with tears right there in the NICU Annex. It was so emotional. I just can't believe that we're to this point. They are such fighters and so strong. And soon, they'll be here for me to hold and love all day long. It's almost more than I can fathom.

More as it comes... :)


June 19, 2006

It was a warm, sunny summer morning at the house of Orville, Dorothy and Jill Pruetz in Yoakum, Texas. Dorothy, eight months pregnant with their second child, settled her three-year-old daughter Jill down at the table with breakfast while she started her daily chores.

As she tidied up around the house, though, a familiar pain rang through her abodmen.

" seems a little early for this to be happening..."

As she progressed through her day, the pains began to get more intense and closer together. She feared she was in labor, so she called the doctor.

"You should probably head to the hospital, Mrs. Pruetz," said the nurse on the other end of the line.

"Well, I'll get there when I can. I need to finish the laundry."

A few loads later and after making arrangements for Jill, Dorothy walked the three blocks for her house to Huth Memorial Hospital. Hours later, Todd Orville Pruetz was born. And the world was never the same.

These are the basics in the birth story of Todd. I'm sure I've got a few details wrong, but Dorothy waiting until the laundry was done and walking to the hospital are facts.

Todd is 38 today. Happy birthday, honey -- I love you so much.

Todd's birthday present -- he bought me a minivan. :)


Sunday, June 18, 2006

June 18, 2006

To all of the dads out there, especially mine and the dad of my three kids, happy father's day. Anyone can be a father -- it takes a real man to be a dad. You deserved to be honored.

I am sure you are all sitting around on pins and needles saying, "Oh my gosh! When is Erin going to post again? It's been days since I've heard from her and I'm starting to have blog withdrawal, since I hang on her every typed word, wondering what exciting installment of the Pruetz family life will come next..."


The reason for my lack of posting is this: lack of things to post about!

This makes me very, very happy. Lack of information to post means that life in our house is status quo. The girls are still doing great, with Faith gaining on her sister at nearly four-and-a-half pounds, and Grace tipping the scales at over five pounds! Faith is up to two by-mouth feedings each day, while Grace is eating two-thirds of her meals by mouth. Once they are taking all meals by mouth, they will be monitored for 48 hours. If they gain weight and do well, they'll come home! Each day brings us closer and closer...

But that's about it. Tomorrow, June 19, is Todd's 38th birthday. Of course, since he looks like he's 17, it really matters not.

And the biggest news from the Pruetz front: We did it. We bought a minivan.

Funny how life likes to bite you in the rear-end. I swore up and down, my whole life, that I would not drive a minivan, but logic took over when the girls were born. SUVs are great -- I would have prefered one, in fact -- but they are not nearly as practical or useful as a minivan. When you have to get three little ones into car seats in the cramped conditions of a parking space at Super Target, you realize just how easy it is to have big, sliding doors and seats that you can walk in between. They are also better on gas mileage than an SUV and have more standard features (seriously). Like it or not, it's a no brainer.

So we have invested in a Kia Sedona. It was between that and a Honda Odyssey. The Kia won out because it had a higher safety rating, more standard features, a longer warranty (ten years!) and was significantly cheaper. Again -- a no brainer.

I told Todd that if I was going to drive a minivan, I was going to do it right. So we got all of the bells and whistles: DVD system, power doors (the sliding doors and liftgate open with buttons, not manually), heated memory seats, six-disc changer, tri-zone climate control, reverse sensor, etc. I have to admit, it's a pretty nice car. In fact, it's a really nice car. It drives like a sedan and is very comfortable. I am actually very happy with it.

That's right folks -- hear me now: I like my minivan. I like it a lot (said like Jim Carrey from "Dumb and Dumber...).

My point -- and I do have one -- is for all of you moms-of-many out there: Do not be afraid of the minivan! You may not look cool, but I guarantee you're not as cool as you think you are anyway. So go ahead, buy that Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Quest or other ones out there. You'll love it, even if you only admit said love in private.

I'm off to see my girls. And I am secure in the knowlege that I am well-equipped in the automobile department should they come home at any time. :)

Below are some photos of the girls this week, in their new co-bedding environment. Have you ever seen anything cuter? (Hint: if the answer isn't, "Yes," I don't want to hear it. :)

With love,

Faith on the left, Grace on the right

Faitharoo and Gracie Too

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

June 13, 2006

Now I'm not sure why so many of you are out to see me look like a doofus in a minivan, but my last post received more comments and emails than any other of my 42 posts to this blog. May I remind you that this blog is about my ridiculous pregnancy and the two beautiful girls who miraculously made it -- not, "Oh gee, Erin has to buy a minivan...let's all poke fun at her!" Remember, I have a lot of dirty secrets on most of you and I'm not afraid to use them.

*Big Smile*

All kidding aside...

Things are still going well in the lives of the Pruetz twins. When I went to see the girls yesterday, Faith had been placed in an open crib. Finally, I had "access" to both of my girls, without having to carefully slide them out of the isolette, wrap them up and swaddle them tightly just to hold them. I could just pick them up and snuggle them right there. I was so proud of her!

This morning, though, when I walked into the blue room, the nurse said, "Oh -- the girls are in the NICU annex!"

Apparently, there are so many babies in Methodist's NICU that they had to create an "annex" on the third floor. It's an overflow room for the blue room, but only the wellest-of-the-well babies from the blue room get to go. It's not really a step up from the blue room, but rather just a separate area. But since it's two floors away, they only take the babies who are doing exceptionally. It's the same level of monitoring and such.

So I trekked through three buildings (Methodist is four hospitals in one -- medical, heart, women's and children's) and up two floors and found my way to the annex. Turns out, it's really just a large patient room that they put babies in. Only six at a time can be held in the annex.

The girls were immediately inside the door, next to the window (a room with a view!), but I was surprised to see that they were in one crib! Finally, after 25 days, they have been reunited! I have to admit -- I got a little teary-eyed when I saw them together again.

I have heard, over and over again, how multiples do better when they co-bed, because they like being near one another. I never put much stock into it, truthfully. I really thought it couldn't make that much of a difference.

But they were sleeping so soundly! Fluke? Maybe.

So I picked Grace up to start feeding her and sat down in a chair just next to their crib. She began to wake up and as she did, so did Faith. In fact, Faith started to howl after a few minutes. I thought, "Certainly she's not crying for Gracie." The nurse did what she could to calm her down, including changing her diaper and rocking her for a few minutes. She calmed down mostly, but laid in the crib, fully awake for the next 20 minutes or so.

After my time with Grace, I put her down in the crib and picked up Faith. Sure enough, as soon as I did, Grace started to ootch around and cry out. She wasn't happy to be alone, either.

I spent a good hour with Faith and then put her back next to her still-awake sister. I put them a few inches apart, but within seconds, they had snuggled up to one another and had both peacefully fallen asleep.

It was incredible -- they really do sleep better together. It was adorable.

I've held my two girls at the same time a couple of times now and have gotten to see them together. But each time I hold them at the same time, I end up with one in the crook of one arm and one in the crook of the other. So trying to see both of their faces at the same time is nearly impossible. I had to turn my head to see one or the other.

But today, as they were lying there together (both in the same position), I got my first real look at my twin girls. They still don't look identical to me, but they are twins for sure. Their noses are exactly the same. So are their chins and eyes. Faith's face is longer and thinner while Gracie has a rounder shape to hers.

But regardless of how identical they are, they are gorgeous. My heart just sang when I saw their faces there together. It was a moment I'll certainly never forget. I could hardly pry myself away from the sight of them.

I'm going back up tonight, with a camera. I'll be sure to take photos and post them here.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

June 11, 2006

Here's a little story that will certainly make you laugh -- on many levels.

Before ZZ left for Kazakstan, I went over to her house to pick up the baby essentials that she has collected with her twins. Two car seats, four car seat bases, the double stroller, etc... She's an excellent resource. :)

I wanted to get all of these things from her before she left on her trip, as Grace may come home before ZZ gets back and I really need this paraphernalia.

Currently, all of this "stuff" is sitting in my formal living room and at the base of the staircase. It's not very pretty, but right now there is no other place to put it. As soon as the nursery is finished, we'll have more room (I hope...).

Todd went to the hospital yesterday afternoon and while he was gone, I decided I would try to get the car seat bases into the back seat of my Honda Accord.

An hour-and-a-half later I was completely defeated.

It seems that sedans are not built to have three car seats in the back. No matter how I arranged them (Devin's seat on the end with the babies' seats in the middle and on the other end; Devin's seat in the middle with the girls' seats on each end), I couldn't make them fit. At one point, I had them all in there, but couldn't manage to get the baby seats to pop into the bases. There just wasn't enough room. There would have been enough room if I didn't have to close the doors to the car, but I think the police department might frown upon me traveling down I-10 with the doors open and three kids in the car. Just a hunch.

Now you need to picture this as it really happened. It wasn't just me putting car seats into a car and rearranging them. There was a lot of swearing involved (although I tried to keep it to a minimum, as we have a lot of kids in our neighborhood), some crying, a few "tossings" of key pieces across the yard and a toddler who insisted on sitting in the front seat, honking the horn. It was hysterical -- in retrospect. It was less than funny at the time.

I finally gave up and called Todd at the NICU. The phone was handed to him and the first thing I said was, "We need to buy a new car now." No, "Hi," or, "How are you?"

So this week, Todd and I will make the trek to a car dealership and come home with a ... *gulp* ...


I'm not 100% thrilled about this idea. I mean, I realize I'm no longer the 20-year-old cutie driving the red Mustang around SMU's campus, but at least in my Honda, I had some elements of cool -- Satellite radio, navigation system, voice automation, etc. You know -- old people cool.

There is just nothing cool about a 30-year-old driving around a minivan with a DVD system playing, "Finding Nemo," or something equally as obnoxious (don't get me wrong -- I'm a huge Disney fan and love Nemo. But certainly you get my point). The last bit of coolness that I have managed to hold onto is now being taken away from me by a Kia Sedona minivan, or something of the like.

So there you have it. Erin Pruetz will soon be driving a minivan. It's laughable, I admit it.

I'm off to see my girls and then, this afternoon, Todd and I are taking Devin to see "Cars" in the theatre. It's his first in-theatre movie and he's very excited. He deserves a special treat, too. He's been so good and patient since everything turned upside down in his world. I am consistently impressed with how easy-going he is and how adaptable he's become. I think this afternoon will be some much-needed mommy and daddy time for him. I'm looking forward to it too.

I'll update on the girls later this afternoon or tomorrow.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

June 10, 2006

This entire week has seen such rapid progress for the girls and the last two days haven't been any different. They're just moving right along like the champs that they are!

As expected, I went to the NICU on Thursday night to breastfeed The Roo. And as expected, she was less-than-interested in the whole thing. She just didn't seem to understand that there was food in there. We tried for 15 minutes or so, without much luck. I was told this could happen and was expecting these types of problems, so I wasn't too disappointed.

We decided to see if she would take a bottle and I popped the nipple into her mouth with no problem. She responded by making a face and pushing the foreign object around with her tounge. Then she must have gotten a taste of the milk, because she started sucking and didn't let go again until the bottle was nearly drained. What a pro!

While I was there, I breastfed Gracie, too (who is up to two breast/bottle feedings each day). Talk about a champ! She's just the opposite of her sister -- she likes to breastfeed, but isn't very interested in the bottle (although she will take it for a few minutes at a time). Just when I think she's done with nursing, I lay her on my lap, in the crook of my arm and she turns her head toward my chest, as if to say, "Um...hello? More, please." It's pretty funny.

On Friday, I got to the NICU around 9:00 to feed The Too and hold The Roo. It was the usual drill with Gracie -- lots of breastfeeding, not much interest in bottlefeeding.

When I got to Faith, though, I noticed that she was all swaddled up and clothed (she graduated!) while lying in her isolette. I asked the nurse and she said, "We're going to wean her out of the isolette and co-bed her with her sister."

Now this was just about the best news I could have gotten -- topped only by, "They're going home, Mrs. Pruetz, and they're both sleeping through the night already!" My two girls will be in the same crib together -- reunited at last. My heart is just brimming with pride...

As of this morning, Faith is still in the isolette, but the nurses were talking about moving her into a crib (the crib, I guess) today. Todd will go up this afternoon and I hope to get a good report!

Both girls ate for me this morning (in their typical, "I like the bottle"/"I like the breast" fashion) and I got to spend a good amount of time just staring at them and singing to them. It's so peaceful, even with everything going on around us.

If I had to guess (and this is a totally uneducated guess), I'd say that by this time next week, we'll have at least one of the twins home. They're just doing so well...

On a completely different note:

My sister, ZZ, and her lifelong friend Anjanette are flying out today to go to Almaty, Kazakstan in the former USSR. Anjanette is adopting her second child from Kazakstan and ZZ is going with her to bring Bennet home while Anjanette's husband, Ronnie, stays home with their first child. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, as it will be a long and difficult trip. Nine hours to Amsterdam, ten hour layover, another seven-and-a-half hours to Almaty. Then, four days later, they get to do it all again, but with a 14-month-old in tow. Lord have mercy... :)

With love,

Thursday, June 08, 2006

June 8, 2006

Well, it's been another eventful day in the life of the Pruetz twins.

I walked into the NICU this morning at about 9:00 in an effort to feed Gracie. When I was up there last night, she never woke up for breast or bottle feeding, so I was feeling like I had missed out on the daily experience. Hoping she would be awake and ready to eat, I decided to get there for one of her morning feedings instead of waiting until late at night.

As usual, I walked through the doors of the NICU, through the pink room and made a left into the white room. As I peered down the long, narrow room, I noticed that the station where they were yesterday held only one bed. My heart skipped a beat -- one of them was taken back to the pink room again. Why hadn't anyone called me?

Before I could panic, though, I realized that the bed that was in their place was not Faith's or Grace's. It was a boy. Hmmm...I'm certain both of my twins are girls. I am sure I would have noticed by now if they weren't. I mean, I change their diapers daily and all...

A nurse noticed me looking perplexed (it's a normal thing for me) and said, "Are you looking for your baby? We did some switching around last night."

I told her yes, that I was looking for the Pruetz twins and she said, "Oh right this way."

She led me back through the white room and just before we hit the doorway to the pink room, we turned. Hmmmm...there's another room? I was unaware of this. I'd never really taken notice. The door was sort of nestled back behind the front desk and pretty unassuming.

Sure enough, though, there were my girls, just inside the door. Their nurse, Javier, who has been their nurse a number of times, welcomed me to the blue room.

"What's the blue room?"

Apparently, it's the last step on the way out the door. I thought that the white room was the last step, but I guess I was getting ahead of myself. Javier told me that babies are discharged from the white room all the time, but that the blue room was really where most were discharged to go home from.

Well how proud was I? I was beaming from ear-to-ear. My babies are in the blue room... My babies are in the blue room...

Of course, my heart aches for the little ones (and their parents) who are still in the pink room. Like Jadin, who was across from Grace during her first week. Or the little 24-weeker who was brought in when Faith was back in the pink room this past weekend. They have long, long roads ahead of them. It gave me a lot of perspective in just how lucky we have been. Our girls were small, but they're pretty strong and healthy.

I said hello to both of my over-achievers and sat down to nurse Gracie. Luckily, I had called Javier just before I entered the hospital and told him I was on my way. He had The Too (remember -- Faitharoo and Gracie Too = The Roo and The Too) all wrapped up and ready to go. And boy, was she. She was wide awake and looking around with those big, blue eyes that just make my heart sing. I just had to laugh -- she's so cute.

I put Gracie on the Bobby (nursing pillow) and she immediately turned her head toward me. She was ready to eat and instinct was taking over! She nursed for about ten minutes on one side, but started to fall asleep. I switched sides with her, but she was still pretty sleepy, so I gave her the bottle. She took 13 mL and was tube-fed the rest. What a pro!

Afterwards, I Kangarood The Roo and spent some good, quality snuggle time with her. Bliss, as usual.

Todd called from the NICU just a few minutes ago and asked a question I've been dying to hear for three days now: How would you like to come up here tonight to feed Faith?

I was so excited! She's ready to breast/bottle feed! I can hardly contain my excitement! This is one of the final steps before she comes home and it means that she's catching up with Gracie, who has been consistently a few days ahead of her. Now if we could only get her to maintain her body temperature...

So, I'm outta here tonight to go try this whole thing out. I was pretty sure Gracie was ready when we started earlier this week -- she was showing all sorts of signs. I'm not so sure that The Roo is that ready, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up that she'll be as good at this as Gracie right off the bat. But I know she'll catch on. I just need to be patient.

Thanks for sharing in our excitement. We could possibly be only days away from having our whole family together. It just makes my eyes well-up with tears. God is so good.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

June 7, 2006

I updated yesterday's post around 8:00 last night, so if you're lost with today's post, it's probably because you read yesterday's before I put the whole thing in there. Probably not one of my best-thought-out plans...

So I went to the hospital last night to breastfeed Gracie. There she was in her open crib and I couldn't have been more proud of her! Her temperature was 97.9, so the nurse wrapped her up tightly in two blankets before I got started. She said if her temp didn't go back up, she'd have to go back into an isolette because she may not be quite ready for an open crib. I'm hoping her temp went back up!

I got settled in a chair and the nurse passed Grace to me. I put her to my breast, fully expecting her to haven't a clue what to do or to not be interested. I was warned a number of times that this would likely happen -- preemies just aren't equipped for breastfeeding like full-term babies are. So I was anticipating us just "practicing" and then moving to a bottle.

It took a few minutes, definitely. But once I got her to acknowledge the breast, she actually started to suck and swallow! A couple of times her oxygen saturation dropped a little and I had to pull her away so she would breathe. Boy did she hate that! She wanted to eat more! We did this for about 15 minutes and she started to get tired (apparently, nursing is very hard work!), so we decided to give her a bottle.

That kid took to the bottle like a duck to water! She lolled the nipple around in her mouth a few times and realized that there was milk coming out of it! She sucked on it once or twice and, as they say, the rest is history! She managed to take 17 of the 20 mL that were put in the bottle for her (it took her 45 minutes, though...), and was tube-fed the rest of her meal. The poor thing was pretty exhuasted after all of this, but she managed to stay awake the entire time I was there.

All in all, it was a great experience. I'm so proud of how well Grace did and I'm looking forward to starting breastfeeding with Faith. Of course, how I am going to nurse two babies is totally beyond me, but I guess I'll deal with that when the time is right. I'm not the first person in the world to nurse two babies at once, so I know it's possible. I'm just having a hard time picturing the logistics.

I didn't get any time with Faith last night, though, so I'm on my way to the hospital to snuggle her and give her lots and lots of kisses.

I'm outta here!


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June 6, 2006

Good Morning,

Great news! There's not much to report! It's been a long time since I could say that and I'm very happy to say that things are pretty boring around the Pruetz household.

Along with Faith's Godmother, Linda Hopper, I spent a couple of hours with the girls yesterday. Both are doing great! Gracie has hit the four pound mark at 4 lbs, 2.2 oz while Faitharoo continues to slowly creep into the three pound range at 3 lbs, 5.4 oz. The staph infection held her back a little bit in the weight-gain department.

Grace is her usual, fiesty self, pulling her feeding tube out a few times a day and making sure that everyone is aware of her presence. She's also become very adept at giving us smiles and I can't help but laugh when I see her little face -- I can just tell she's going to be the one who gives me trouble.

Faith is also doing well. She's still pretty pale, but pinking up significantly. She's moving around a lot, too, and makes her presence known as well. She's still got the IV in her hand for the antibiotics, but otherwise, she's only connected to a feeding tube. We are very proud of her recovery and are pleased with the proactiveness of the doctors and nurses in the NICU. Faith continues to have sporadic Brady epdisodes, but always recovers by herself without stimulus or oxygen. I'd like for them to stop all together and I plan to ask today why they are still going on. I imagine that it's just a part of the lingering infection. It takes so long for preemies to get over illnesses -- much longer than it would take one of us.

So that's the scoop -- not much to report ... just the way I like it. If anything comes up, though, know you can find it here!


Many hours later...

Well, it's been a day of great progress for the Pruetz twins. I am so excited to share our news with everyone...

I got to the hospital today for my daily visit and got to hold each of the girls for about 30 minutes apiece. While I was holding Grace, Dr. Paul (one of the many NICU doctors) came in to check on the girls. He listened to their hearts, checked their vitals, etc and deemed them both to be doing well. I asked about Faith's Bradys and he said that it's just a function of her getting over the infection. The fact that she is recovering without any outside stimuli is a sign that she's on the mend.

Dr. Paul went to chart on the girls and returned a few minutes later to tell me that he'd written for Grace to either start breast or bottle feeding today. Hooray! One more step towards home! He said that Faith will probably be ready later this week, but he wants to hold off as she's had enough stress in the past few days.

I asked the nurse about her feeding schedule and I learned that Grace would eat at noon, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 today. Since I have Devin at home now, I wouldn't have the chance to get back to the hospital for her afternoon feedings, but I said I would be back tonight at 9:00 to try breastfeeding. I'm so excited -- this is such a big step.

I talked to the physical therapist (who makes recommendations as to when babies are ready to bottle/breastfeed) and she gave me some good pointers. She reminded me that this would not be like breastfeeding a full-term baby. Grace is still coordinating the suck-swallow-breathe mechanism and may suck and swallow but forget to breathe. It's a good idea to watch her oxygen saturation and make sure it doesn't drop because she forgot to breathe.

As I was leaving the hospital, I noticed that the nurse was wrapping Grace in a blanket before putting her back in the isolette. Normally, she's just in a diaper or in a onesie or something. But she was all swaddled up. I asked why and she told me that they are starting to wean Gracie off of the isolette, preparing her for an open crib because she seems to be regulating her body temperature well. Another step closer to home!

Todd returned from the NICU this evening with even better news: Our little overachiever has already made her way into the open crib! She's there, out in the open and maintaining a healthy 98.2 degrees.

While I'd love for both girls to be progressing at the same rate, I am thrilled that Grace is doing so well. I know Faith isn't far behind her sister and will be moving toward these milestones very soon. I'm just so proud of my little girls. A couple of real fighters...


Sunday, June 04, 2006

June 4, 2006

We got a phone call from the hospital at 12:30 this morning. My heart nearly jumped out of my chest, as I knew who the call was from before I ever saw it on Caller ID. I didn't want to answer it. But I did. Of course.

Daniella, Faith's nurse from the night before, was on the line with a report on Faith's blood culture. It seemed that they'd found something: staph. It took a few days for the culture to innoculate enough for it to be detectable, but the root of Faith's problems are in a staph infection.

Luckily, the antibiotics (the same ones I complained about just last night...) that she is on cover staph infections, so she is three days ahead of the game on fighting this. As Daniella said, "We nipped it in the bud."

I was so happy. Of course, I have no desire for my daughter to have a staph infection, but I am so, so happy to have an answer as to why she's so sick and to know that we are are on the right path to getting her better. For the first time in months, I slept through the night.

I am on my way out the door to see the girls. I'll give a report today on how they're doing and what the progress is.

Thanks be to God...


Meanwhile, back at the Ranch...

After my last post, I got the opportunity to spend a few hours with the girls at the hospital. When I got to the pink room, I immediately went to see Faith. I was pleased to see that she'd been moved from a radiant warmer to an isolette and that her nasal cannulas had been taken down to a 2 liter push. She still looked pale to me, but she was much more alert and was moving around more.

I went into the white room to see Grace. There were a ton of people in there and while I was fussing with her and talking to her, I realized that all of those people were Xavier's family. Xavier is the little boy in the crib next to Grace's who had been there for six-and-a-half months. SIX-AND-A-HALF MONTHS. Can you imagine? I don't know his story, but the thought of my child being sick enough to be hospitalized from the day he was born to after his six-month birthday is more than I care to think about.

It turned out that all of these people were there to celebrate Xavier's departure from the NICU. Cameras were flashing, Xavier was being passed around from nurses to family and friends. It was like a party.

I held Grace for about an hour and got to witness the sheer and utter joy that Xavier's family was experiencing. It was incredible. I couldn't stop smiling.

As I put Grace back in her isolette, it was time for Xavier to make his final departure. I moved out of their way and just happened to have a perfect view of the big event from Faith's bed. In true hospital fashion, mom was rolled out in a wheelchair, proudly holding her baby boy. She was crying tears of joy and at least a dozen nurses (if not more) stood around, also crying. This boy was theirs -- they had all witnessed his miraculous recovery and had been a part of his journey. They were sad to see him go and it was obvious that he had touched each of them. It was heartwarming -- these nurses really feel their patients' pain and they share in the parents' joys and sorrows every day.

I know this to be true, personally, as the past few days, nurses that have only known my girls for two weeks have stopped to ask me how Faith is doing and inquire about Grace, as well. This isn't just a job to them -- they are a part of the lives of each of the NICU families.

After Xavier's departure, I got ready to Kangaroo Faith. Her body temperature was slightly down, so I waited about 30 minutes for it to go up. It did, luckily, and she was placed on my chest. At the time, she still had the nasal cannulas in and they are propelled with some water vapor.

Well, it seemed that some of the vapor had been trapped in the tube and Faith's change in position from her bed to my chest caused the vapor to drain down the tube into the cannulas -- and subsequently into her nose.

Oh boy, did she HATE that (wouldn't we all?)! She let out a HUGE cry and pushed herself up off my chest to try to get away from the flood of fluid draining down into her nose! I hated that this happened to her, of course, but I loved hearing that loud cry and seeing that utter strength. She may be sick, but she is strong!

Luckily, we got the water vapor issue worked out and she slept quietly on my chest for a good 75 minutes. It was sheer bliss.

Todd returned to the NICU this afternoon and came back with great reports on our little Faitharoo: She's been taken off the cannulas (no supplemental oxygen at all) and had not had a Brady or Apnea episode all day. She's on the mend, although it's going to take awhile for this to go away completely. Blood work will still be done daily to monitor the progress. All in all, though, things are looking up.

Knock on wood.

And let's not forget Gracie. Our little fighter is barely under the four pound mark and has graduated to wearing clothes (Faith is still in her diaper in the isolette). She will likely start to bottle feed this week and may graduate to an open crib. If all goes well, it could be only a week or two before she's home.

Here's to hoping that both girls stay healthy and continue their awesome progress.

Again, words can't express how much your prayers and thoughts mean to us. It's been a rough few days, but the Lord has seen us through again.

In Him,

Saturday, June 03, 2006

June 3, 2006

Ugh -- what a 24 this has been. Here goes the scoop...

Last night, around 10:30, I got a call on my cell phone (more about that later) from the hospital. There is nothing more heart-stopping than seeing the NICU number come up on your Caller ID. A nurse named Daniella wanted to let me know that Faith was continuing to have Brady episodes along with Apnea problems and that had prompted a move back into the ICU portion of the unit (the "pink room") where she could be monitored more closely. I was taken by such surprise by this news, that I didn't know what to ask. I had a quick conversation, hung up the phone and burst into tears. The whole situation was only getting worse.

Awhile later, it dawned on me that it was weird that I'd gotten the call on my cell and not on my home phone. Sure enough, with true SBC/AT&T style, our home phone and internet service was out of commission. What if I hadn't had a cell phone? What if there had been an emergency with one of the girls? There would have been no way to get in touch with us. Needless to say, I plan to lodge a formal complaint against this fantastic monopoly we have grown right here in San Antonio.

Around 11:15 I decided that I could not possibly sit around or go to sleep. I needed to see Faith and Grace and I hopped in my car to arrive at the NICU around midnight, when they opened again (they have really wild hours).

I went to say hi to Gracie, first, who is looking positively chunky these days. She's nearly four pounds and I'm hoping that this week will bring bottle feeding for her.

Then I went to the pink room to see Faith. Again, I was totally unprepared for what I saw. First of all, she just looked so tiny. She hasn't lost any weight (in fact, she's gaining, thankfully), but she was put in a radiant warmer (versus the isolette) and she looked so small and lost in that big bed. She also looked frightfully pale. Daniella assured me that her odd palor was caused by the amount of blood being drawn every day and all that made me want to do was yell, "Well then stop doing that!" I didn't, of course, but it crossed my mind.

I asked if I could hold my little angel and, surprisingly, Daniella said yes. Moments later, Faith was in my arms, wrapped snuggly in a blanket. She had had a fever-spike earlier in the day that prompted a dosing of Tylenol, so she was pretty out of it. In fact, as I held her close to me, I had a hard time looking at her. Pale and still, she just looked so lifeless. I cried a lot and wondered if I should consider baptising her -- just in case. I shut the thought out quickly, though. It was too much to bear.

After about 40 minutes of holding Faith, the Brady episodes started again, along with Apnea, and Daniella asked me to please put her back -- the change of environment, temperature, etc, may have been causing the problems. I put her back down in the warmer and stuck around for another hour or so to see if she'd act up again. Sure enough, she calmed down and slept peacefully. This gave me a little ping in my heart. I'm supposed to be the person who calms her down but, instead, when I hold her, the problem only gets worse. Not a good feeling for a mom.

Around 2:00, I said my goodbyes to Faitharoo and Gracie Too and drove home for some much-needed but hardly achieved sleep.

This morning, I returned to the NICU to see my girls. Again, Faith looked so pale to me, but she was a little more alert, with eyes open. Her nurse, Suzanne, answered lots and lots of questions for me and here is a run-down of what all we were looking at:

1. Almost certainly a bacterial infection because she had both a temperature spike and a temperature dip which is indicative of a bacterial infection. Currently treating with three different antibiotics.
2. Almost certainly not an infection in the bloodstream, as the blood and urine cultures continue to come back negative.
3. Possibly necrotizing facitis (spelling???), which is an infection and/or perforation of the lower intestines. Treatment would require halted feedings and possibly a blood transfusion. Luckily, the tests came back negative this afternoon.

So where does that leave us? Well, still scratching our heads, but everyone seems to think that the antibiotics are the answers. I'm not so sure, as we haven't identified the problem yet. The antibiotics won't do a darn thing if the problem is caused by anything other than bacteria. What if it's viral? Or physiological? Then we're just waiting around for a bunch of useless drugs to make her better when, in fact, they won't. I feel like we're wasting time. I want answers -- NOW.

I got to Kangaroo Faith this morning and she ootched around a lot on my chest. It felt good to have her moving around and to see her eyes open. She wasn't herself by any means, but it was way better than the night before.

Feeling guilty, I also held Gracie for a long time today. As usual, she was bright-eyed and precious. I apologized to her that I'd been neglecting her.

After awhile with Gracie, I started feeling guilty about leaving Devin so much, so I returned home to spend time with him. The circle never ends...

I talk to my dad and stepmom a few times a day now, giving them updates on the girls. I did so with my dad this morning and about 30 minutes later, he called back and posed the question I hadn't wanted to answer the night before: Should I consider having Faith baptized?

The truth of the matter is that in my heart of hearts, I really think that she'll recover just fine from all of this. But on the other hand, do I really want to take the chance? God forbid that something were to happen -- how would I feel if I didn't do everything I could to make sure she had peace for all eternity?

Todd agreed. Neither of us want to think about the "what ifs" of the situation, but the alternative is just that much worse.

So I think we'll do a baptism this week. We've already spoken with the Deacon who baptized Devin and who blessed our house when we moved here. He said that he'd be out of town, but that either the hospital chaplain or Monsignor Fater could do it for us this week. We were a little sad that Faith would be baptized without Gracie, but Chris assured us that Faith could still have the annointing ceremony done at the same time Gracie is baptized. In the Catholic church, you cannot be baptized more than once, so it's not like we could just have a "do over" or something of the like. :)

Am I nuts for doing this? A part of my heart feels like I'm writing my own daughter off, preparing for her demise. And yet another part of me feels like I'm doing the responsible, Christian thing by taking all precautions necessary.

I'll happily take your thoughts on this. I could use some outside opinions.

Updates to come...


Friday, June 02, 2006

June 2, 2006

Faith had a Brady epidsode this morning around 5:45 in which she had to be rescued with oxygen. Please say a prayer for her ... I'll update as I receive more information.

A few hours later...

I got to the NICU this morning at 10:00, anticipating spending at least 90 minutes with the girls. But when I got there, there was a sign on the door that the NICU would be closing at 10:30 for a procedure (they often do minor surgeries in the NICU, but must ask all visitors to leave when they do it). That meant only 30 minutes with my babies. Already mentally unstable, the tears welled up in my eyes.

I walked in and saw Gracie first (she faces the door). Her little chubby face was so peaceful as she slept and she looked so warm and cozy in her isolette (what Todd calls a baby condo). I just wanted to crawl in there with her.

I walked around the other side to see Faith, but I wasn't prepared for what I'd see. Once again, an oxygen pump was next to Faith's bed and there was an IV pole next to that. I saw my little angel lying there, eyes open, but barely breathing and not moving at all. It seemed that she was having an episode as soon as I walked in. I had to stand by helplessly while the nurse put the oxygen mask over her mouth and pumped air into her lungs manually. Her heartrate slowly rose and her breathing resumed. It was just about more than I could handle.

I started asking lots of questions and, thankfully, the nurse was so patient with me and answered everything.

The blood and urine cultures aren't back yet (they take a full three days), but Faith's CBC (complete blood count) came back with certain items out of normal range, indicating what is probably an infection. There is no telling if it's bacterial or viral, so they already have her on two antibiotics (Vasomyacin and Genomyacin -- or something like that) to cover a number of things that it could be, if it's bacterial. If it's viral, there is nothing to do but wait it out. The cultures may or may not indicate an infection, too. If they come back negative, it may just mean that the infection didn't make it into the bloodstream (a very good thing!), but could still be present.

Faith's temperature is still unstable, back down to 97.1 this morning. Her isolette is self-correcting, meaning that it knows how warm or cool she is and will adjust itself accordingly. I guess that's good, but I'd just rather not have the problem.

In short, we still don't know what's wrong, but we're taking steps to work on what is probably an infection. It's all very scary and sad and I could have stood there all morning, holding Faith's hand and watching as her eyes darted back and forth, looking for answers. I feel bad that I didn't spend much time with Grace and, from what I understand from other moms of twins, this guilt will go on for the rest of my life. If I do for one, I'll feel compelled to do something similar for the other.

I'll post as I know more. This is killing me...


Thursday, June 01, 2006

June 1, 2006

It's been a few days since I've posted, as nothing fantastic has gone on. The girls have been doing well -- tolerating feedings, spending good "awake and alert" time, responding well to their environment, etc. Like I said in my last post, we may even start trying bottle feedings next week. Yeah!

Today, though, brought a new saga to this already too long story.

Actually, it started last night when Todd and I got to the hospital to visit the girls. The nurse informed us that Faith's heartrate had been fluctuating up and down a couple times that afternoon. She's usually in the 160s or so, but her rate would drop to below 100 and set off all sorts of alarms and such. She was also having a hard time maintaining body temperature, staying only around 97.1.

I Kangarood her (we call her "Faitharoo," so I like to say I 'Rooed the 'Roo. We call Grace "Gracie Too" so when I Kangaroo her, I 'Roo the Too), which is almost a fool-proof way to steady a heartrate and bring up body temperature, but neither one happened. In fact, both dropped more. A totally weird occurance, apparently and I had to give her back before I was ready. Of course, I'm never ready to give them back. I'd like to hold them all day if I could.

We left the girls around 10:00 last night and I called this morning to check on them before I went in to see them. The on-duty nurse, Johnna, said that Faith had continued to Brady (that's what it's called when a heartrate drops -- it's not some weird name I made up to connect my girls with my favorite TV show, I promise) throughout the night and she was still hanging around 97.1. I told her I'd be in shortly and I was at her bed in about 30 minutes. Todd calls it, "The speed of Mom."

I asked if I could hold her to see if her temp and heartrate would go up and I was granted that permission. Again, both stayed down and even dropped a little at times and I was asked to put her back in her isolette (incubator). I got to hold Gracie for a while, as well, and I noticed that she was much more active. She reached out toward me, smiled, cooed and generally squirmed. Faith hadn't done that -- she was very lethargic. I mentioned this to the nurse and she agreed that Faith wasn't acting like herself.

I tried to stay until the on-call doctor came to see them, but I had to leave before they got to the girls. I called a few times this afternoon, but lab work wasn't back or the doctor hadn't seen them, etc. Todd went by the hospital after work and he spoke with the nurse and doctor. They're not sure what's causing these two problems (although it seems her temperature is on the rise again, thankfully. She was 98.4 when Todd was there), but they are putting her on a number of things to help alleviate the situation: supplemental oxygen push, caffeine (I haven't a clue...) and antibiotics, just in case there is some sort of infection that the lab work missed. Time will tell, I guess.

Needless to say, it hasn't been a great day for me. I'm pretty upset, although I know that Faith and Grace are in the best hands in the state of Texas. I just don't want my girls to suffer. They've been through enough and I just want their lives to begin in a happy way. They spend their days being poked and prodded and everyone upon everyone wants to see "those monoamniotic twins in the NICU." I wish everyone would get the heck away from them and just let them grow and become fat, healthy babies. This whole thing just kills me and I'm racking my brain 24 hours a day to find a way to take their suffering on as my own so they don't have to feel it.

On a lighter note, tomorrow I get to drive again. I have not been behind the wheel of a car since April 15, two days before I entered the hosptial. I am so excited to regain my freedom and not have to rely on others to drive me all over creation. Of course, now I have to rely on people to watch Devin while I go to the hospital, but I'll fall off that bridge when I get to it.

And, even better news: I finally got to see my twin girls together! I went a full 12 days seeing only one of them at a time (their isolettes are back-to-back) and I didn't believe that they were identical twins. They just didn't seem to look alike!

Well, yesterday, the nurse suggested that I hold both and it came as a huge surprise to me! I didn't know I COULD hold both! I jumped at the chance and within a few minutes, both girls were cuddled in my arms. There they were -- my tiny little Faith and my ever-growing little Grace. Faith's face is long and thin with a pointy chin. Grace's face is round with chubby cheeks. But it's the same face, despite the difference in amount of chub! They are identical! It was great to see them both, hold them both, experience them both at the same time. It's something I'll never forget.

I'll keep you posted on the girls, as we get more information. Thanks for the continued support and love. What would we do without you?


Me and my girls

PS - Berta -- I still really want to talk with you! Email me when you have a chance! I am so sorry I lost your number!