Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

We opened a few presents on Christmas Eve and planned on all seven of us going on our first adventure as a whole family. Over night, Teresa started running a fever, so we sent O and MC with Grandma and Grandpa to Mass and kept everyone else back. We were borderline about taking the twins out as it was and with Teresa sick, no go.

Christmas was lovely with a nice breakfast, present opening, a nice lunch and playing outside on their new bikes (you’d think I would have a picture of their bikes…). Catalina seems to be catching whatever Teresa has. I hope it is bacterial and the amoxicillin that O is taking for an ear infection will serve double-duty on her.

After getting them all down, V, the twins, and I sang Christmas carols and prayed the Office of Readings since we all ended up missing church on Christmas.

First Semester Done!

I was completely remiss in not including this in the earlier post. Last week also marked O’s first completed semester of school!

On Thursday, they were able to throw out the uniform to wear PJs, had a pizza day for lunch, and watched the Polar Express as a school.

In a topic to be discussed at length on the Daddyblog in due time, food is an issue at the school a lot. A lot. Every classmates’ birthday includes cupcakes or something. Every competition in the school is topped off with a pizza or ice cream party. It’s crazy period, not to mention when your child is allergic to dairy, eggs, and anything else ever thought to be included in a food prize. Olivia has not had as much junk in her life until she started school.

::breathe:: I’ll save the rant for the Daddyblog.

Anyhow, since she couldn’t eat the pizza that was being provided, I swung by Austin’s Pizza to pick up one for us to split.

My name is "Togo Guy".

My name is “Togo Guy”.

It was my first time to eat lunch at school with one of the kiddos, so sat on the old elementary school lunch tables… you know, the ones with the connected circle seats with a table that folds up for easy moving, surrounded by 5 and 6 year olds discussing the philosophical aspects of the Polar Express and how it impacted the societal mores of that era.

Nom nom nom.

Nom nom nom.

It is fun to see Olivia navigate the still-present desire for Dad while trying to be cool with the kids at school. Only 25 more semesters to go before high school graduation.

The Internal Clock

Life moves forward toward Christmas. The twins have matured to being released from their required every-three-hour feeding schedule, allowing them to sleep in and eat-on-demand. Generally, this has been nice. Direct breastfeeding (DBF in my acquired NICU language) has replaced EBM (expressed breast milk, e.g. pumped and “nippled” to them in a bottle) as their primary source of food with V pumping to keep her supply up.

Our fridge is full of milk and we may actually use all of the space in our deep freezer for once.

The twins have also shifted their schedule a bit. Before, we’d wake them every three hours to eat and they would generally sleep between feedings. Now, they have their own schedule of being awake for a decent amount of time, which happens so far to be in the middle of the night.

V has been handling this like a champ, taking a nap from, roughly, 8 am to 11 am, to make it through the rest of the day. While I hate sleep and will fight it until the end of time, once I’m asleep, I want to stay asleep. I’ve been trying to get 4-5 hours a night, but it has been broken up by moments of everyone (seemingly, older girls included) being up multiple times in the night. The waking up for a bit every hour or so has been hard on me, personally.

Lastly, they’re on the borderline between premie clothes and diapers and newborn sizes. We’re finding some of the premie outfits are too small for them! At first, they swam inside all of them.

With the older girls, we gave them their primary present from us this weekend—tickets to Disney Live at the Frank Erwin Center. Grandpa and I took Olivia, Catalina, and Teresa to see Sophia, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and the rest of the Disney gang this weekend.

For the first time since the twins were born, I joined Grandma and Grandpa with the girls at Kerbey Lane, our usual after Mass breakfast stop. Prior, I’d take the girls to Mass to help keep the peace and let the in-laws take the girls since they’d do anything to get those pancakes.

We haven’t taken the twins out of the house, save a doctor’s appointment and lab tests yet. As much as Vanessa would like to have them make Christmas Mass, we’re hesitant to have them around the expected larger crowd. Perhaps the Sunday following for the Feast of the Holy Family.

Until next time, thanks as always for your continued prayers and support. It really does take a village and we live in a great one.

Home Life

You’d think bringing the 3rd and 4th little sister home, we would have it figured out on how to balance the older siblings with the new arrivals. We’re still working on it, apparently. Everyone has been home for going on 48 hours now.

Yesterday, V and I both blanked and sent O to school without her gym/dance bag leading to a call from the school because O was nervous and anxious about whether she was supposed to go to dance or wait for someone to pick her up. Not only that, it took us forever to get out of the door, so O earned her first tardy of her academic career.

Today, everyone was on time, but partly thanks to Grandma randomly showing up at 7 am :-). It takes a village.

The twins had their first post-NICU check-up with, you guessed it, the pedi concerned about Dorothy’s yellowish tone. We’re awaiting a phone call from the clinic’s lab. [Update: Her levels are right at the upper-limit, so have to take her in for a new draw tomorrow morning.] Ana’s second round of phototherapy in the NICU really knocked the bilirubin count out, so somewhat wished they matched orders for Dorothy to knock them down on her, even if they were just within the normal bounds.

We’re getting closer to a sustainable schedule for the next couple of weeks—the length of time the docs want us to continue the regular feedings every three hours, so we’re not completely zombies.

Lastly, bath day! Third bath and first ones at home.

Day 11: Eviction

Home.

Plenty I could say, none of it matters at this exact moment. We’re home and beginning the second half of the marathon, as Marion put it, tackling premies at home without a NICU nurse bedside all night and able to take care of the 2 am feedings.

Day 10: Normalcy

Medically, Ana’s bilirubin is back within the expected levels so no one is under the lights again. Dorothy’s crept up a little, but thinking she’ll be able to self-regulate. At this point, we’re looking at a couple of days to ensure stability and then, perhaps, home.

I relieved my in-laws at the house to put some normalcy. It’s truly amazing and humbling that they swung into action, took care of everything at the house with the three older girls with little direction from us, allowing us to fully focus on the twins and Vanessa.

I confess, it is odd to be in a quiet house without any heart rate monitors, pages over the intercom, and the rest of the random noises of being at the hospital virtually 24 hours a day for over a week.

I have the feeling the house won’t be quiet for long.

Day 9: Just Gotta Run

A mixed day, which is the norm now. Ana experienced the “bilirubin rebound”, as it is known in these parts, where after a day of successful phototherapy, her levels spike back up once she’s off the lights. She’s back under the lights.

Dorothy was incredibly sleepy/lethargic today. The working thought from the team is that she did so well yesterday that she’s just simply tired. They’ll run labs again to check her bilirubin levels overnight as high levels can make kiddos sleep, though she was in the green last night.

On the plus side, they were allowed to increase their feeding and given a minimum, which they generally met. Even with the possible negatives, they’re still optimistic for discharge pretty soon. They had the majority of their pre-discharge tests, lacking the “car seat study”, when they put the kids in their carseats for 90 minutes while still on the monitors to ensure, frankly, they’ll stay alive if riding in the car (e.g. their angle within the seat doesn’t cause them too much effort to breathe or whatever else). They previously passed their hearing screen, but apparently, may need to do it again for reason I don’t know due to some of the bilirubin eradication efforts.

Beyond the medical fun, two things of note on this Sunday. First, I ran the Decker Challenge Half Marathon. Long ago, I signed up for the Austin Distance Challenge, which consists of a number of runs (a 8k, a 10-mile, this run, another half, a 30k, and finishing with the Austin Marathon) with a decent break for the holiday season. I was really banking on the kids not coming until after today!

To complete the challenge, you have to run in all of the races. No exceptions. Since they’re doing well, I took a few hours off. It was painful—not running at all since Thanksgiving and eating nothing but hospital cafeteria food and take-out in a week—but finished it!

Later today, Fr. Bill, our pastor at St. Ignatius, stopped by in the midst of his day of Masses, baptisms, and cooking dinner for his fellow priestly housemates. It was a very nice visit. Fr. Bill announced at our usual 7:30 a.m. Mass that the twins were here. When he said “their names are Dorothy…and… and…”, Olivia yelled “Ana!” from the back. We’re not that social at Mass, but we’ve naturally found a good community at that particular time and, well, we stand out a lot :-).

A special shout out to Kathryn Whitaker who gave the twins their first stuffed animals—the owls seen in the pictures above with Fr. Bill. The owls are required to live in biohazard bags to be allowed in their beds!

All in all, not a bad day. We’re much more aware of the Texas two-step of the progress in the NICU. Tomorrow, we’re going to shift the schedule to put me at home half-time so the older girls remember me and to give my in-laws a break. They’ve done an amazing job taking care of the three older girls far longer than any of us expected.