Saturday, April 30, 2011

Because it's that Time of Year Again...

And, of course, because I have to brag about my little Smartie Pants!

Spring 1 Session (finished a few months ago)
 Spring 2 Session (finished last week)
And folks, the best news ever is that HE'LL BE FINISHED WITH HIS Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership NEXT WINTER!!! This has been a long, long journey - but one that couldn't have ended better. He will graduate from Chapman with a 4.0 and a cumulative GPA, including his transfers, of 3.0. And now he's talking about getting an MBA. Lord help us all! I hope our family is ready for another graduation, because I am absolutely making politely requesting that my husband walk in June. I cannot wait to see my husband in a cap and gown! And what a lucky guy he is...because he'll have his own little personal cheerleaders: Connor, Aiden, and Isabella there with him (and our best cheerleader in heaven watching over us)! What a great example he's setting for them!

Randomness

 Mr. Howard took this photo of me a few days ago and it actually shows my haircut and color. I seem to never really get great photos after haircuts for some odd reason. I am loving that my hairdresser is so cute about pregnancy. She really plans out all my appointments based on my due date: MAKING SURE that I have pretty hair for my delivery. It seems vain, but any mama who's given birth knows that you are puffy and tired and sore and...tired (did I already say that?) and the last thing you want is to have roots that are showing in the photos you put all over your house.

And I had to include this random photo below. This was taken last Sunday. I need to have Mr. Howard mow our lawn several times a week, because Little Man just stood at the window and watched - transfixed for probably 40 minutes. Seriously! Try it! I think I was able to watch an entire episode of Oprah while he stared out the window!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Prayers

I'm sure by now you have all heard about the tornados and storms in the South. Those of you who know us, know that almost Mr. Howard's entire family lives in Alabama. There are lots of sites where you can go to find out how to help. Kelly's Korner Blog details a lot of good sites.

I know they could also use a lot of prayers and good thoughts.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

27 Weeks

Sleep
I need a pillow for under my belly now. The problem now is that I sleep with a pillow between my legs and when I need to roll over, I have to bring the pillow over to the other side. It causes me to usually sigh or make some audible sigh as I try to roll my big behind over to the other side. Ha! It's actually quite a sight and production

My Size/Development
Week 27 marks the end of the second trimester of my twin pregnancy! Hallelujah!! Also, I've been feeling that HORRENDOUS pain in my ligaments and joints in my pelvis. I actually experienced something new last night. I've had round ligament pain before, but this was much lower and it felt like someone was stabbing me. Poor Mr. Howard! Once I found a position that didn't hurt, he slid me over on my side of the bed, so I didn't have to move. It's funny now, but it actually made my body shake it hurt so badly. I told him that if I could handle that, I could handle childbirth. Ha!

The Babies' Size/Development
Each baby is about 14 inches long form head to toe. That's 28 inches of baby!

Excitement
The babies are finally making the outside of my belly move. For weeks, Mr. Howard has been able to feel kicks and rolls and somersaults, but now you can actually watch my belly pop, quiver, shake, and roll. WHAT AN AMAZING THING!!!!

Random Twin Fact
William Shakespeare fathered a set of boy/girl twins.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cribs

Did you know that lots of stores offer "Twin Discounts?" We were going to only buy one matching crib (to match the one Connor currently uses) and then get a more simple one for Connor's big boy room. But when I received a coupon in the mail for 20% off of one furniture item and we combined it with the twin discount, we got almost $200 off the cribs. It ended up being 30% off one crib and 10% off the other. My parents were gracious enough to buy the second crib for us and then we bought the one that will go in Connor's big boy room!

The room is very tiny, so it's hard to get a photo of both cribs. Obviously, we haven't built the other one yet (which means Connor's crib tent is still on one of the twin's cribs). And we haven't bought mattresses or set the bedding up. That's my very long way of saying this is an IN PROCESS photo. We're thinking we'll need to repaint the room and even get new curtains, because Isabella's bedding is pink and Aiden's is turquoise and while it doesn't look like it in the photo, the room is painted a green with a light green-blue curtain.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Our Easter

On Friday, my parents wanted to take Connor to an Easter Egg Hunt in their Housing Development.

He decorated eggs...
 While I prayed he didn't get marker on his white Easter shirt...
 He walked around...
 He took photos with Grandpa
 And Nana...
 And both of them...
 He showed off his shirt...
 And cried anytime the Easter bunny even got close to him...
 Isn't the shirt cute? I made it the night before when I realized he had nothing to wear!

Then Easter Morning
The Easter Bunny came with treats...
 For Mommy
 And Daddy
 And a little something for us to remember Cole
 And lots of stuff for Connor (some of these were from Grandma too)
 What a lucky boy!
 He also left eggs all around the house (inside because he knew it might rain)
 He even hid a few in the couch
 Connor had so much fun finding them all
 In his pajamas
 He loved his easter basket from the Easter Bunny and his stuff from Grandma
 Then we got changed and took a photo with Daddy
 And one with Mommy
And then we went to Nana and Grandpa's House where he got another Easter Basket from them 
And ate dinner and took a nap.
We didn't go to church this year because Connor had a cold (although I'm sure the other mommies would have LOVED me if I had infected all their little ones on Easter Day).

Finally we came home to enjoy our treats and build the new cribs that we bought (yep...two more!)!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Manicure, Pedicure, and A Cleaning

Everytime we go down to Los Angeles, Jen and I get a manicure and pedicure. She must know that it's the only time I actually get one. How can Mr. Howard say no to watching Little Man when it's Jen who wants to go?!? Hehe!

We also always get our rings cleaned because the place that we bought our rings checks the diamonds, cleans them, and re-dips the white gold for me for free. It also allows us to maintain our warranty.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Our boy is...well...almost two

According to the doctor's office, he is two. Not really...of course, but he has now had his two year old well-baby check-up which makes him two in their eyes. I read the little report of all the things he's supposed to be doing at two and gulped hard at a few of them...

Weaned off the bottle
Saying "I" or "Me"
Drinking low-fat/nonfat milk

I'm not sure how many doctor's offices give you surveys to fill out at each well-baby visit. I know Kaiser does it. How many of you have lied on those? There's a "good" column and a "bad" column. Of course, they don't label them as such, but we all know which column you're supposed to tick off the answers from. I genuinely considered lying and marking that my baby was weaned off the bottle, that he was in fact saying "I" or "me" and that he was FINALLY off of formula...but the truth of the matter is that he is not doing any of those things. And I hope I'm not the only one. Thankfully we LOVE our pediatrician and know he wouldn't judge us. After all, he has a 16 month old little boy too. I asked him yesterday if his son has ever shouted "no" on the top of his lungs at daddy or mommy yet. He smiled and said, "no." I laughed. Just wait...I thought. 

Stats:
Weight: 25.6 pounds (30th percentile)
Height: 33.5 inches (50th percentile)
Head Circumference: 19 inches (50th percentile)

Even though it was Connor's appointment, it was the last time we'd get to see him before Aiden and Isabella are born and I wanted to ask some questions about if his practice was full, etc. We had emailed him a few weeks ago to tell him about Cole and Aiden. He said he'd contact a nephrologist to get some of my questions answered about whether or not he'll be taken away from us when he's born and whether he'll be able to come home with us right away. I was also able to ask him about how a pediatrician would work for Aiden...would Aiden have a pediatrician and a nephrologist? Has he ever had a patient who's only had one kidney? He said he'd do a little bit of research about MCKD too because he wasn't familiar with it (he had familiarity with PKD, but not MCKD). Have I mentioned how much we LOVE him? What would we ever do if we moved?!?

Cole Jayden

A lot of people have been making comments about our family lately. They'll say things like, "_____ is having twins and has one boy already. So she'll have three little ones." Our pediatrician, whom we LOVE, said, "Do you want more kids?" When I said that I was done having babies, he said "Three is a perfect number." Strangers will ask me if this is my first pregnancy, when they find out I am having twins. I will say that it is my third pregnancy, which always leads them to counting in their head and the proclamation, "Wow! So you'll have four kids two and under!" And when I say that I have one boy in heaven, they clarify..."Oh so you'll have three babies!"

It's insane how I never thought about women who have babies in heaven before. No. I will not have three babies. I am not a mom of three. Three is not a perfect number. We have four babies and I am a mom of four. I know wholeheartedly that people don't mean any harm when they make comments. I know they don't know any different and to be honest, I don't know that I wouldn't have been one of those people two years ago.

I have become a whole lot more comfortable sharing a tiny bit of my story with strangers. After all, a mom who lost a son told me, "what do you care what they think anyway?" If I make them feel uncomfortable, so what? Inevitably someone will say to me after they find out that it was not through fertility treatments and we don't have twins in the family, "Wow! Did you die when you found out you were having twins? Did you have to pick your husband off the floor? Did you cry?" And my answer has become my way of talking about Cole. "Actually, we lost our son in September. So we believe it is divine that a few short months later we were pregnant with twins."

My goal in writing this blog has always been first and foremost to document my life for my family - to keep a scrapbook for Connor, my future babies, and my husband. But the special, unexpected outcome has also been a way for me to share my story about loss. Perhaps I can give women and men (but let's be honest...mostly women read my blog) a fresh perspective about what it's like to lose a baby. And perhaps, I can help them to say the right thing if ever they have a friend who goes through something like this. Because at the end of the day, we all want to say the right thing. We want the magic words to ease the suffering of our friends and because we so want to say the perfect thing, we say the thing that hurts the most (at least you have another son...you can just try again...at least it happened earlier in the pregnancy...) instead of the words that we all pray someone will say (I love you. I'm sorry. This sucks. How much did he weigh? Whose eyes did he have? Who is he named after? When is his birthday?). Really what we want is to know that our babies are not forgotten, that our role as their mother is not forgotten, and that someone, somewhere in the world thinks it all sucks too.

While I've been thinking of my baby boy, I have been really trying to come up with ideas about what I can do to honor Cole on his birthday this fall. I have a bunch of thoughts, but the one idea that seems to continue to percolate in my brain (don't you love the word percolate...it's such an underused word) is to do something for the hospital or the NICU. I'll keep you updated about what I decide!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

26 Weeks

Sleep
Naps are fabulous! Yesterday, I dropped Little Man off at preschool and crawled in bed for almost three hours! Good thing too, because at night I'm still waking up multiple times.

My Size/Development
Oops! I completely forgot to ask my doctor my measurements.

The Babies' Size/Growth
The babies' eyes may open and blink at week 26 and retinas are beginning to form. The air sacs of the lungs are taking shape this week as well. Even though the lungs are still growing, they still have to mature for babies to be able to breath without help. Before 20 weeks of gestation, each twin is usually the same size as a singleton fetus of equivalent age. After 20 weeks, each twin tends to grow more slowly. That's why twins, even if not premature, tend to have a lower than average birth weight.

Random Twin Fact
Female fraternal twins have a one in 17 chance of giving birth to their own set of fraternal twins. Miss Isabella Lynn better be ready for the possibility of having twins.

Connor's Ultrasound

After getting the news about Aiden's multicystic kidney (with the knowledge of Cole's two multicystic kidneys), I requested from my geneticist that we do an ultrasound on Connor's kidney. They happily obliged and even seemed like they thought it was a good idea. We scheduled the ultrasound for Tuesday. Connor did so well. We brought him a bottle as a special treat, hoping he'd lay still and drink while they squirt the jelly over his belly and back. It worked! He was entertained for almost the whole appointment. The only nervewracking part was when the technician told us, after speaking with a doctor about the images, that she'd need to take some more photos of his right kidney. Definitely not a good feeling!

Normally we hear back about the results right away. When Mr. Howard and I had our ultrasounds we got a phone call that night. When we had Cole's ultrasound, we got the call from the geneticist that day. When I had Aiden's ultrasound, they told us right there at the appointment. So we were more than surprised when we went to bed Tuesday night not having talked to a doctor. By Wednesday, I was nervous. I sent an email to our geneticist asking her if she had heard anything. By this morning I was formulating theories in my head: perhaps the results were not good and they needed to speak with a nephrologist (kidney doctor) to formulate a plan for Connor...perhaps they were trying to see if he would need surgery to have his kidney removed...

This morning I woke up thinking I couldn't let it go any longer and so I phoned the geneticist and left her a message. Within about 20 minutes, she called back, apologising. Apparently the notification had gone to the genetics doctors and they are all out this week (for Easter). She didn't even know that no one had called us. Happily she told us that Connor's kidneys were great! There are no cysts at all and neither of them are enlarged. Thank God!

This helps the case for the argument that I do not have polycystic kidney disease and that Cole's diagnosis of multicystic dysplastic kidney disease was accurate. What a rollercoaster! Now we just need to keep praying that Aiden's one kidney stays healthy. I'm going to also ask for a referrel to a nephrologist after my next ultrasound so that I can get some questions answered about what will happen when Aiden is born (Will he be rushed to the NICU? Will he have to have tests and scans done immediately? Will we get to take him home like normal? What will his life with only one kidney be like?).

Thanks for your prayers and good thoughts!

LA Zoo

Jen and Brett took us to the Los Angeles Zoo on Sunday before we left. It was such a fun zoo, but Connor was not having it. He had a fever off and on the whole weekend and was by-and-large incredibly fussy. I joked that he was the best birth control ever for Jen and Brett. Of course, we adore Connor more than life - but being a parent to a fussy toddler can weaken the knees of the strongest humans. It's weekends like that when you have trouble remembering what it was like before you had kids. =) We joked that next time we go to the zoo, we'll get a babysitter.

Sunday was the Lakers NBA Playoff Game One (yep, they lost...ick). So Mr. Howard and Connor wore their Lakers shirts to the zoo.

Jen, Mr. Howard, and Brett
Connor and Daddy petting the goats 
 More Goat Petting
 Seriously, this goat looked like he was smiling. When you go into the animal-petting part, they give you brushes. All the kids were welcomed by this goat and in return, they were all brushing him. What a life!
 Jen, Brett, Daddy, and Connor
 The true side of pregnancy - I need a face transplant (I get such a wide face when I'm pregnant). Eeek! With Connor it would have freaked me out and I wouldn't have posted the photos. But now, as I told Jen, I am embracing it! How blessed I am to have a body that allows me to carry two tiny humans!! And in turn for a ginormous face, God has blessed me with a "pretty tummy" (or so Allison tells me).
I cannot end a post without calling out my wonderful husband. I truly, truly hit the husband lottery. Stay tuned for an entire post about how wonderful he is, but in the meantime...Really, what would I do without him? You can see from all the photos from the weekend, he held and loved on Connor the whole time. Part of that is because Connor is going through a phase where he wants NOTHING to do with me....talk about heartbreaking...but the other part is that he just steps up and does what he needs to do. It was very hot (almost 80 degrees) and I was struggling with all the walking, grouchiness, being out of my routine and he just stepped up. Everyday I thank God for bringing him into my life; but I am even more impressed with his Daddy abilities. He is SUCH an amazing Daddy and I cannot imagine having handpicked a better person to be Connor's dad.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Anyone Have Night Terrors Experience?

One of the most common reasons they occur? "Over time it has been proven that most often than not, night terrors in children are caused by sleep deprivation. These cases are cases in which the sleep routine has been broken." (I found info on http://night-terrors-children.com/).

Why am I all of a sudden interested in Night Terrors? On Sunday while we were in Los Angeles, Connor had an episode that can't be explained by anything else. He woke up in a complete panic, screaming on the TOP of his lungs, shaking...didn't want to be touched or held by anyone. This lasted a long time (perhaps 30-40 minutes?). He would not stop screaming or freaking out. We tried everything - putting him in the bath, holding him, rubbing his back, loving him, kissing him, stripping him down to check for a rash, hair wrapped around his toes (remember this), etc. We couldn't determine the cause of the crying. It was almost as if he didn't even see us. So we took him out of the tub (wrapped in just a towel), brought him upstairs, and gave him something to eat. Almost as quickly as he went into a tailspin, he came out of it. He stopped, looked at the grilled cheese, and ate it - happily. Talk about strange!

I came home and did some research and night terrors are all I can come up with. He was sleep deprived - he hadn't slept two complete nights through since we had been in LA. He didn't have his naps at normal times. And even when he was sleeping, it was in an unfamiliar place in a pack-n-play. What I'm mostly trying to figure out is what to do when/if it ever happens again. There seemed to be no way to get him to snap out of it and there's something about seeing your baby boy screaming bloody-murder for 40 straight minutes on the top of his lungs - that freaked this Mama out.

Anybody have any experience with this or have an alternate theory?

A Park Date with Aunt Katie

I should have posted this a few weeks ago, but we've been pretty busy around here! Because of my contractions and my need to take it a little bit easier, my sister offered to help me one afternoon. Most weekends Mr. Howard and I get one day together. It's our sanity. It's what keeps us going. I absolutely cannot imagine what it would be like to be a single mom. I have soo much respect for the difficulty of it.

Every once in a while we'll have a week where Mr. Howard has to work both days in the weekend. It's hard on him, but especially right now with my inability to do a ton with Connor, it's rough on me. Thankfully, my sister agreed to come over after naptime one day to help me run some errands (there's no way to waddle through target six months pregnant AND take care of a little guy who's in TemperTantrum City right now by yourself) and then to the park.

He had so much fun!




 And I sat on my ginormous bottom and watched them having fun. Ridiculous, really!

Our Wonderful Friends

I know I've mentioned my friends before, but there's no way to do a post about them without mentioning again how blessed we are. ΔΔΔ brought them into my life in 2001 and 2002. Sara and Allison were my pledge sisters and joined tri delta with me. Jen was my big sis in the sorority. And I met Amy last, when she joined our sorority the following year. Since then, they've all met their significant others and began their families. It's always fun to get together and compare stories. We had hoped that our friends Mary and Jen A. could join us. They were missed!

Sara, Nate, and Paige
Connor getting into everything!
Brett and Jen
Madison
Mr. Howard
Our Little Family of 6 (I was wearing Cole's footprint...Aiden and Isabella are in my belly)
Nate and Paige, Allison and Jackson
Allison and Jackson
Mr. Howard and Connor
Joe, Sara, Paige, Amy, Jen
Tri Delta Sisters
Allison, Madison, Sara, Paige, Me, Jen, Jackson, Amy
(Missing Connor and Kylie who were being a little camera shy)
Madison, Jack, Jackson, Brett, Mr. Howard, Connor, Paige, Nate, Joe
We knew this would be our last trip down South before the twins arrived, so we couldn't pass up an opportunity to see our friends!

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