Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Mom's Birthday

I am just getting around to posting about my mom's birthday, even though her dinner was LAST Saturday. Eek we've had a busy week!

My mom wanted a nice treat and didn't want to have to cook or clean (of course my dad, sister, and I cook and clean...but she somehow manages to "help" do something). So, we went out to a nice dinner at Hawks. It was Connor's first "fancy" dinner since Europe and I was a little nervous because Mr. Howard couldn't make it with us. Normally we "tag team" it and switch off eating and watching Little Man. But, very sweetly, my sister and Denny both helped so that I could eat by taking him outside and letting him run around. I am quite a lucky girl!

The Birthday Girl - Does she look 59 to you?!?

 The Birthday Dessert
 Connor & Me
 Couldn't Get A Photo of him Looking...This is the Closest
 Our Handsome Little Fellow
 Connor and Aunt Katie (taken on the iPhone...sorry about the quality)
I promise you my Dad and Denny were there...don't know how we didn't get any photos! Oops!

Happy Birthday, Mama!

New Header Photo

Leslie over at Sweetie Baby's Custom Blog Design updated a new photo in our header. It was LONG overdue as the photo we had been using was from when Connor was 6 months old! Eeek.

I'm going to do a complete makeover when the twins arrive, but this little change will get me through until then!
Just for comparison's is our old one:

The Level 2 Ultrasound

On Thursday my friend Diana watched Connor so that I could head over to the ultrasound. Mr. Howard met me there, as he had to work. From the beginning, the tech was wonderful. She introduced herself and asked how we were doing. When I told her I was petrified, she told me how everything would go. She asked about Cole very sweetly and explained that she would take a lot of photos and then would go get the perinatologist. The perinatologist would come in and go over everything with us, slide by slide. She also explained that she'd have the geneticist come in and meet us (Karen is the VERY SWEET woman we've been working with since Cole's fact, she was the one who called us that very first day to tell us that Cole was in renal failure).

The Ultrasound
The ultrasound took FOREVER. It was a full hour and 45 minutes. The tech told me everything she was taking a picture of. Of course, she couldn't tell me if it was "normal" or if it looked "good," but she at least could say, "This is Baby A's right kidney....this is Baby B's femur..." It was VERY different than Cole's ultrasound. We knew instantly that something was wrong. They hardly took any photos. I think as soon as they saw how little fluid I had in me, they instantly went to the kidneys. And once they saw that the kidneys had cysts, they stopped.

The Results
After the tech took a million photos and videos, the perinatologist came in and reviewed everything with us, picture by picture. She'd say things like, "Here's the heart. There are four chambers. The blood is pumping beautifully. This photo shows me there aren't any holes. This one shows me that the blood is pumping the correct way..." Even with Connor, we never had that.

The Kidneys and Mystery Spot
The babies' kidneys looked "great." There were no cysts, and there was "tons" of amniotic fluid. We were incredibly reassured. The geneticist was very kind and helpful as well. There was only one tiny thing on the ultrasound that caused pause. There was a dark spot on Baby A's intestine/kidney/bowel area. Some photos made it look like it was in the intestines. Some made it look like it was the bowels. They weren't concerned enough to try to take another look. But the perinatologist thought it best if I come back in 5 weeks just to make sure it's nothing. She said it could have been amniotic fluid or it could even be something on the outside of the baby that is blocking the photo. But, just for peace of mind, they want me to come back when both babies are a bit bigger.

Of course, we also learned the genders. She first went to Baby A. Almost within in minutes, she told us that Baby A was a boy. She showed us several different angles of his penis. =) She even pointed out how he was holding his member (such a boy!). When it came time to look at Baby B, she almost immediately told us that she "thought" it was a girl. She explained that it was a little harder for girls, because (a) they're looking for the absence of a penis and (b) there are 3 lines where a penis would be. As soon as she found the 3 lines, she told us that it WAS indeed a girl. I am so very excited! I honestly did not think I would have a girl. I thought for sure I was destined to only have boys (which would have been fabulous too, of course...but lucky for Mr. Howard, now I can have peace of mind about having any more babies).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Announcement

I couldn't wait to share...

18 Weeks

Naps are successful, but sleeping is hard. I'm starting to get a little bigger, which means I am supposed to be sleeping on my side. I am not a fan of that! It makes for uncomfortable sleep.

My Size
By the time a woman with twins is 18 weeks pregnant, her uterus is twice the size as that of a woman pregnant with one fetus. A woman at Kohls this week asked me when I was due. When I told her July, she was aghast. When I told her there were two babies in there, she was relieved. I would sooo love to pretend I'm not pregnant and say, "Huh? Due? I'm not pregnant!" But I am too nice. I think even if I wasn't pregnant and someone asked me, I'd lie and make up a date. =)

The Babies' Size/Growth
Our babies' lungs have already begun exhaling amniotic fluid. Please, please, please let there be enough amniotic fluid in there! Please let their kidneys work!

We received our final genetic screening results (we had already done the blood test and ultrasound and received a negative. But then at 14 weeks, we had another blood test) and the babies both received NEGATIVES. Happy news! Additionally we have our big ultrasound today!!!! I have been praying so much that they are healthy! I am a nervous nelly!!

Random Twin Fact
Some famous twins: Alanis Morrisette, Ashton Kutcher, Elvis Presley, and Justin Timberlake.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Know When to Pick Your Battles

As a mom, I am constantly learning. I learn how to love through anger. I learn how to pull patience from the depths of my soul. I learn how to laugh and let go. But the biggest lesson of all has been to pick and choose my battles.

Before becoming a mommy, I had a list of things I would NEVER let my child do. I had a list of things that I would never do as a mom. And then there came a day when after saying no 2,000 times to battles that weren't worth fighting, it hit me. This is why you don't judge a woman in a grocery store with an unruly child. This is why you don't quietly say to your husband or friend, "see that child standing in his highchair...I would never let MY child do that!" As you can see from the photo above, I have clearly prioritized my battles.  I am more concerned about having a loving son who doesn't beat the dogs at every chance he gets. I am more concerned that he not climb on the kitchen counter and take out the knives (oh yes...he has done this). I am more concerned that he smiles and learns how to say please and thank you. I am more concerned that he overcome this recent "hitting" phase. I am more concerned that he is kind and gentle with his friends at daycare. I am most concerned that my son hear words out of my mouth other than the word "No" all the time. AND A WHOLE LOT LESS concerned about whether or not he eats his toast standing up.

Shame on me, right? Bad Mommy, right?   

Another battle I seem to be losing dramatically? "The keep your clothes on" battle! How on earth we raised a naked baby, I'll never know. The second you put pants on him, he pulls them off (I don't even really bother at home anymore). But the newest craze has been getting completely naked. Moments after I snapped this photo, the diaper came off. And then he peed on the floor. Yep! Those are the battles I choose to fight these days. Stand in the highchair all you want, but do NOT pee on my floors!!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

17 Weeks

I don't get it, but I can take naps and sleep fully. I've taken to putting Connor to bed for naptime and then I crawl into bed and sleep for a couple hours. Strange, but at least I can sleep!

My Size
At my last appointment I measured at 21 weeks. I'm sure I'm at least measuring at 22 weeks this week. This week is considered my half way point! I'm half way there folks!

The Babies' Size/Growth
They are around 5 inches long. This is 10 inches of baby in there! They are now capable of swallowing, blinking, and sucking.

I have been able to feel the babies move a lot. In bed often, I can feel them push my lower belly out. Mr. Howard has been able to feel them too! He can't put his hand on my stomach and feel them move. BUT he can feel where my belly is hard, where a head/back/arm/leg is. He pushes lightly and can feel the least until one of them moves back to where neither of us can feel anymore. It is SOO very fun!

Random Twin Fact
Twins do not have to be born on the same dates. The longest gap between birth is 85 days.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Umm...No I don't think I can make it

Last week in my pregnancy update I mentioned my horrible headache. Well, it never went away. By Friday, it had spread to my teeth (I even commented to my mom that I thought I had a toothache). And by Saturday it had spread to my jaw. I could barely even open my mouth. By the time I went to bed, my extra strength Tylenol wasn't even slightly helping me and in the words of my dad (who has had something similar), it felt like a "brain hemorrhage!"

At about 11pm, I told Mr. Howard (after I had already washed my face, changed into pajamas, brushed my teeth, and crawled into bed) that I didn't think I was going to make it. And after five minutes of trying to ignore the "brain hemorrhage," I decided I needed to make a trip to the ER. Mr. Howard so desperately wanted to take me, but with Connor fast asleep, it wasn't an option. To appease him, I told him that I would ask my mom to meet me there. Of course I am a big girl and I could have gone on my own, but I know what it's like to worry and my mom lives about 5 minutes from the hospital.

So off I went. They checked me in and the nurse asked me routine questions, "what is the pain on a scale of 1-10?"..."where is the pain?"...and then one final question, "Any other medical complications?" I mentioned that I was 17 weeks pregnant with twins. He asked me a few questions about if this was my first (no...third)and if I knew what they were: boys or girls (no...we've had 5 ultrasounds, but they can't tell yet...). And then at the end of the check-in process, he told me he'd need a urine sample.

I gave it and he put it on this test in the corner of the room.

Do you know what it is? My mom read me the name of the test "hCG" and I said, "That's a pregnancy test!!!" She laughed and we both kept thinking...there's NO way this man just gave me a pregnancy test. It must be for something else!

Later the doctor walked in, went over everything with me, confirmed that I had a sinus infection (Seriously? Have you ever had one? They feel like brain hemorrhages!...well what I'd imagine one would feel like), and then started to leave. Before she made it to the door I said, "So IS that a pregnancy test on the counter?" She smiled and said quietly, "Yeah...not really sure why he did that. If someone tells ME they're 17 weeks pregnant with twins, I don't think I'd do a pregnancy test." Ha!!! Did he not believe me??? Is this some big problem they have at hospitals?? Women claiming to be 17 weeks pregnant with twins when they aren't?? And what does it matter if I am or if I'm not??

SO VERY STRANGE! It made for some FUN entertainment for my mom and I though.

Update: I have now taken the antibiotics for two days and I can tell you that I am A MILLION times better. I had NO IDEA how painful sinus infections were. I expected them to be just like a stuffed, clogged feeling. I have such sympathy for you chronic sinus infection folks. Ick!!!

Happy Valentine's Day

The last few years we've had Valentine's Cards done. After purchasing cards for Christmas, right around this time I always receive a coupon for free cards. This year we received 10 free ones and then I think I purchased just 4 or so, so that we could send them to family. I had hoped that this year we could surprise everyone with the babies' genders on the cards, but alas we didn't know in time.

This year my darling husband and I got a sitter and went to a movie and dinner (a rare treat...thanks Mom). We saw No Strings Attached because we wanted a romantic comedy to see. It wasn't horrible, but I didn't love it. It was cute. We did, however LOVE dinner at Ruth's Chris!!!!!
In the restaurant:

 Today my very romantic husband had an edible arrangement sent to me at work. I joked with my 7th graders that "I guess my husband knows I'm already going to get he might as well..." It's cute, because at this age they're a little more savy. The girls kept saying, "Awww...What a sweet husband!" And the boys were impressed. I'm glad Mr. Howard can be that sweet role model for them. He is such a great husband!
 The girls saw me taking a photo and asked if they could take one of me! =) So here I am looking VERY pregnant with my edible arrangement and balloons!
Connor brought Valentine's for his friends today and came home with a bag full of treats. I am that VERY uncool mom who doesn't send candy and instead sent in 100% real fruit - fruit snacks. Hey! I figure he has his whole life to eat candy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sledding in Jeans

This video is from two weekends ago when we went to the snow!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Our Poor First Baby

Our first baby, Harley, is sick. Very sick!

The backstory: Harley hasn't been eating or feeling normal (later we learned he probably hadn't eaten in over a week...before you think we're horrible parents...we open feed our dogs and the food was getting eaten. We just didn't know it was getting eaten by Jake and not Harley). He hasn't wanted to hop up on our bed and has been shaking in the night. Last night he even pooped in our room on the floor (sooo unusual).

$500 later (and we have insurance!), we learned that his adrenal gland isn't producing enough cortisol or aldosterone.

It's called Addison's Disease, which is a hereditary disease brought out by stress (he had a teeth cleaning last week and never really recovered). He was in the hospital all day today being pumped full of steroids, fluids, nutrients, and was poked and prodded in all sorts of tests.

The bad news: he will have to take medicine and steroid injections for the rest of his life. It is not curable.

The good news: happily, it is something that can be treated and he can live with it! It shouldn't be fatal at all. =)

A Snow Day

While everyone else was watching the superbowl, Mr. Howard and I took Connor to the snow! There are a zillion and five photos, so I'm going to try to spare you some of them.

Connor and Daddy - "Look at my gloves, Daddy!"

 Sorta Sledding:
 Checking out the snow:
 More Sledding:
 This was the same outfit we bought for his first snow trip. It still fits!
 Warming up to the snow idea:
 Connor and Mommy in the Snow:
 Mommy and Daddy in the Snow:
The twins went with us too!

Much Better

I am feeing a zillion times better now that I've been able to see my babies! I had this plan to beg and plead for an ultrasound, but didn't even need to because as I was going into my prepared speech about how nervous I've been, in walked the nurse with the ultrasound machine. "Well let's take a look!" he said. He had already asked the nurse to bring in the machine before he even came to greet us.

My first question was whether or not the babies' kidneys have started to develop. They have and all looks good.

My second question was whether or not the babies have amniotic fluid. They do! Lots of it!!! In fact, he showed me how each baby has "lots" of amniotic fluid. We were all relieved to know this as it means that the babies' kidneys are doing their jobs!

My third question was whether or not he could tell the babies' genders. He couldn't. =(

I have absolutely no idea what this photo is of below. I think he said something about a facial profile...but I don't see it.
 This looks like Baby B's head and body...but idea!

16 Weeks

Connor snuck in the photo with me!
I am not sleeping at all. I think perhaps in the last week I've gotten maybe eight hours combined. Ick! This happened with Connor too. Everyone kept telling me, "Oh just wait! When you have that baby you'll be soo tired. You'll get way less sleep." It was the opposite. I got significantly more sleep after Connor was born than I did in those last few months. We'll see though with twins. And I want to we'll see how that goes.

My Size
Some think I'm looking too small for being 16 weeks pregnant with twins. Trust me! It's not for lack of eating. I've taken to eating foot long subs occasionally and getting second helpings of dinner.

We have a doctor's appointment today at 4pm. I am so hoping they will let us see our babies. My nerves are through the roof this week as I know that the babies' kidneys have started developing!

Morning Sickness
For the most part it is gone, but it has been replaced by the most horrible, brain-splitting headache and cold. I have been nauseas in the mornings, but I think it's because of the headache and not the morning sickness. Gosh it STINKS being sick and sudafed, no advil, no rest...

Random Twin Fact
While most people are only familiar with identical and fraternal twins, there are actually 7 different types of twins. They are: identical, fraternal, half-identical, mirror image twins, mixed chromosome twins, superfecundation, and superfetation. Those other than identical and fraternal can be quite rare.

Anyone know a mama of twins? I am starting to think I need to get a plan together for breastfeeding. It was a bit of a struggle with Connor. I didn't make enough milk (and yes, I went to lactation consultants) and it was very stressful. I made it 5 months, but I sooo was not ready to give it up!! I am determined to make this work with these new little ones, but I need to know what I need (I've heard they make twin nursing pillows).

And because I thought these photos were so's what I look like on the inside!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nineteen Months Old


  • Connor learned how to respond to commands. You can ask him to throw his banana peel away and he'll do it. You can ask him to put something away or hand you something and he responds.
  • We took him to McDonald's playland and he hated it. Mr. Howard and I kept joking that some day we're going to have to peel him away from there and beg him to eat his food, but instead, this time we couldn't get him to play for the life of us. I took him over to the baby area with this adorable turtle and he screamed.
  • Mr. Howard and I hold hands in the car sometimes. The other day we were doing it, when Connor reached over and grabbed my sister's hand. He held hers there for a while before letting go. TALK ABOUT ADORABLE!!!!
New Words:
  • "Banana" (it comes out more like nana-nana)
  • Last month Connor learned, "No." But this month, he learned how to SHOUT it! Lovely!
  • "Night Night!" (he says it when he sees his bottle for naptime or bedtime)
  • "Bath" (when I tell him we're going to go take a bath, he'll repeat it and RUN to the tub)
  • "Hot" (he said it after sticking his hand in the hot bath water)
New Signs Introduced:
  • "Thank you"
  • We're still working on "Water." He signs it with one finger, instead of three.
New Teeth:
  • None that we know of.
Funny Stories
  • Mr. Howard walked into Connor's room at about 8:30 in the morning on Thursday (his day home with Connor) only to find Connor had flung his poop all over the walls. Can I just tell you I'm glad that I wasn't home?!?
Photographic Proof of the HandHolding with Aunt Katie
 At a birthday party...with Mickey Ears
 His new favorite food
 In his "My Little Brother is an Angel in Heaven" shirt!
 His second time in the snow (first was when he was 6 months old)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

We Survived

Yesterday was rough. Much rougher than I thought. I don't know why I thought that my grief would be substituted by the happiness I feel for these two little lives growing inside me. Really when you think about it, it's like losing one parent and thinking you aren't going to be as sad because you have another parent.

I won't deny that I had mint chip ice cream in front of the couch for lunch while Connor took a nap. I won't deny that I bawled my eyes out and actually got permanent mascara marks on my cheeks (Yes. It was stupid I put on mascara). I won't deny that after filling up on mint chip chocolate ice cream, I crawled into bed and bawled some more...until I fell asleep for an hour and a half! I won't deny that I was SIGNIFICANTLY less than a good mom to Connor yesterday while Mr. Howard was at work. I won't deny that I wallowed in self pity for one day. I think I am owed one day of self pity and grief.

But today. Today I laughed. Today WE laughed and had a good day.

And tomorrow. Tomorrow I will focus on these little lives inside me and being as present as I possibly can for the Little Man that is growing up wayyy too quickly!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Dearest Baby Boy, Cole Jayden

I don't really know how to write this post to you all, so instead I'll write it to him.

My beautiful baby boy, Cole Jayden Howard,

Happy Due Date, My Sweet Angel! I so wish I was going into labor with you today. I can't imagine what these past few months have been like for you. I so pray that your entrance into this world wasn't painful. I know that after that first ultrasound, it was clear to see how much distress you were in and how much weight I was losing. Everyday I question the decisions I made that day and just have to trust that God led us down the right path. Every decision we made, we made to give you the most honorable, most special, delivery we could have, given the circumstance. In some ways I feel that this was so unfair for you and certainly more unfair for me. I know that you are in such a special place where you aren't feeling any pain and I trust that you had a very special purpose for your life, but it doesn't make it any easier.

What should have been.
Today I should be excitedly talking to the nurses about what you're going to be - a boy or girl. I should be holding your daddy's hand while I push you out in a beautiful epidural-enduced, perfect birth. I should have had your daddy hand you to me and introduce you as Cole Jayden Howard. I should be looking down at your sweet face, all wrapped up in a blue blanket, and passing you around to all my family for everyone to hold and "ooh" and "ahh" over. I should be introducing you to your big brother and putting you in the car to take you home for the very first time. I should be happily sitting down, with you nursing happily, to announce to my friends and family that you have arrived.

 Instead of excitedly talking to the nurses about what you were going to be, I was planning your funeral. Instead of holding your daddy's hand while I pushed you out, I was gripping the bedrails of my bed and repeatedly crying, "I don't want to do this." Instead of having your daddy hand you to me to introduce you, you were swept away to a warmer where they began the chromosomal testing. Instead of passing you around to my whole family to "ooh" and "ahh" over you, we passed you between Daddy, Nana, and I in silence. Your Aunt Katie held you for a few minutes, but she was too sad to really process everything. Instead of introducing you to your big brother, we will have to spend the rest of your lives trying to explain who you were. Instead of putting you in the car to take you home, we left the hospital completely empty - my belly was empty, our arms were empty, the house was empty. Instead of sitting down here, with you nursing, to announce your arrival, I am sobbing uncontrollably, writing a letter to my beautiful dead baby.

I hate this.

Hate it.

Hate it.

Hate it.

On the cremation paperwork I had to fill out, under relationship to deceased, I wrote "Mama." If you would have asked me could I ever do all the things I have done in the last year, I would have told you no. I would have said that I'd die. I would have said I could never sit in a room with your Nana, Grandma, and Daddy, picking out an urn, filling out paperwork solidifying legally my relationship to you as your mama. I still can't believe I kept waking up after you passed away. I still can't believe my heart kept beating. I still can't believe I mustered the strength after three weeks to go back to work. I still can't believe I can talk about you most days without bawling. I still can't believe any of this happened and YET...I have your photos as evidence. I have the posts I've written as evidence. I still have your sweet body in an urn in my house engraved with your name as evidence. I still have your footprints, the announcement of your arrival from the hospital, your first outfit in a box, your hospital bracelets, and the little card that went into your warmer as evidence. So I know it happened and I survived. Somehow.

Some have asked to see photos of you and perhaps someday I will be willing to share them. But for now, they are mine. The only private thing I have; the only special thing that your daddy, you, and I can share.

Sweet angel, today, I hope you are celebrating in Heaven. We are going to celebrate you in our own way here, but our celebration might have more tears than smiles. We just miss you so much.

I absolutely, earnestly miss you, my sweet son. And I can't wait until I get to see you someday.
All my love,
Your Mama

Thursday, February 3, 2011

15 Weeks Pregnant

I am not sleeping very well. I've been waking up at about 3am and haven't been able to go back to sleep. I am having about 4 dreams a night...some RATHER pleasant and others VERY unpleasant.

My Size
There are days I already feel PREGNANT. You know that "I'm exhausted and can't move" feeling. And then other days I feel like I'm barely showing. I am bigger than I was when Cole was born.

I full-on felt the babies move. One of them (could have been two...who knows) moved from the bottom of my belly to right below my bellybutton. Ahhh. It lasted a while - maybe 5 minutes. It felt so strong I thought for sure you'd be able to see it on the outside. Funny how that works, huh? It can feel so strong on the inside and feel like NOTHING on the outside.

Morning Sickness
It's still there, but significantly better. The other day we made meatballs in the crockpot and it took everything in me to be anywhere near the kitchen. Mr. Howard was at work and I was home with Connor by myself. I put him in the bath, ran quickly through the hallway with him (so as to avoid the smells wafting from the kitchen), quickly went into his room to put him down for bed, and then locked myself in my bedroom and went to bed. Mr. Howard had to clean the kitchen when he got home so that I didn't get sick in the morning. Last night I was trying to take my prenatals. This is always a big pain. I fight with myself to get them down. Mr. Howard popped one in my mouth (touching them in my hands makes me gag...I know RIDICULOUS) and it came right back out. I seriously sit there mentally arguing with myself to just put the pill in the mouth and swallow. And yes, I realize how unbelievably insane that sounds.

Random Twin Fact
Once you've had fraternal twins, you are 3 to 4 times more likely to have another set! Whew! Good thing we wanted three babies!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February 24th - The Big Day

Okay everyone! We need you to start thinking really positive thoughts for us and send up those prayers!! Our Level 2 Ultrasound is scheduled for February 24th. Some people have already emailed and called us and have put in prayer requests at their churches and for that we are so very grateful. If you could add that date to your mental calendar, we would be indebted.

Cole's multicystic displastic kidney disease was not genetic, but obviously there are still some fears not only on our part, but also that of our doctor, (given that my ultrasound revealed cysts in my kidneys). We are lucky this time around because they have not only scheduled an appointment with an ultrasound technician but also a perinatologist, so that we don't have to go home without any results. They are hoping that the genetist and perinatologist will be able to review the photos right then and there and then have a meeting with us. What I want to experience most is relief. Relief and Joy!

Some have asked when we'll get to find out what we're having. Trust me! NO ONE WANTS TO KNOW MORE THAN ME!!!!!! We have an appointment next Thursday and if our doctor decides to do an ultrasound (cross your fingers), we'll know then. Otherwise hopefully the babies will cooperate on our February 24th appointment. The irony is not lost on me that with two pregnancies I never wanted to know the gender and didn't even give more than two thoughts about it. Honestly, even when I was in labor with Connor, we were so at peace with it. And now with these, it's like the WHOLE WORLD DEPENDS on KNOWING!!! What is with that?

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