Wednesday, August 31, 2005

As you can see, our daughters have been packing on the pounds in the past week--Sydney on the left and Abigail on the right in each picture. The top picture was taken just before I left for work this morning; the center picture was from Monday, the 29th--Abigail decided to change her perspective during one of her midday naps; and the bottom picture was taken on Sunday, the 28th--we were able to capture the girl's two month personality, a bit. Thanks to Josh Walters for Sunday's picture.

I'm sure that the absence of posts in the past few days has been an annoyance, but other than the girl's obvious weight gain, nothing big has happened since the last post. Our days are continually filled with activity, and the girl's care takes most of our time. A typical day? No such thing, but I can piece together the milestones of a day for you.

Tuesday, August 30th
Midnight: Rebekah is seated on the armchair and I'm on the couch. Both of us holding a baby and nodding off to the sounds of Conan O'Brien or whatever is on TV. We start the last night feeding at 11 pm but it is usually at least midnight or 12:30 by the time we get the girls settled down.
2:30: The grunts, whining, and burst of crying erupt from the monitor. I ask, 'Honey, do want to make the bottles or take diaper duty?" I usually get the diaper duty. The girls are in 'full-bore' scream mode until they have been changed, picked up, and rocked back into a trance. Rebekah warms the bottles and comes to help out in the nursery. Take the babies to our favorite feeding seats--armchair and couch, respectively. We have been feeding half of the bottle to each and then burping to try and alleviate the large amounts of spitting up that occasionally will happen.
3:00: The girls are halfway through their bottles and unconscious. We have to tickle, zerbert, strip down--anything to wake our sweet girls so that they will complete the feeding process.
3:30: Time to lay the girls back in the crib after holding for ten to fifteen minutes. Being very careful not to jostle and wake, we gingerly set the girls next to each other in the crib, surround them with the noodle/snake thing that the hospital sent us home with, and cover with a light blanket.
3:37: Mama and Daddy are looking forward to hitting the pillow once more, but, inevitably, someone has spit up and is rolling around in it, has a sister's hand behind her head, or some other uncomfortable condition. The whining or blast of crying has us out of bed and tending to the issue. Back to sleep.
5:55: The grunting and crying means that it is time to eat again...Dad had his alarm set at 6:00 in an attempt to get ready for work before the natives are restless--to no avail.
6:00: Feed the girls (see midnight). Dad counts how many minutes (not hours) of sleep he has gotten and wonders if the lack of sleep will be directly proportional to productivity at work.
7:15: Put the girls down for a nap; although, today one sister does not want to sleep. Sorry, Mama, no time for you to take that shower today. Dad gets ready for work and leaves late again. Good thing office culture is such that it is no big deal.
The following descriptions are based solely on conversations with Mama during the day--
8:00: Can you believe it is time to feed one of the girls already? Rebekah feeds the girls in two shifts. I believe the earlier shift today will be with Abigail, and she'll let Sydney sleep until 9:00 or so.
10:15: Sydney has been fed now but does not want to sleep. Mama plays with and calms the older sister.
10:45: Rebekah gets to have breakfast.
11:00: Time to feed Abigail then Sydney
1:00: Rebekah calls Brad to tell of the active morning. Encouragement and praise pours through the line, and all seems to be going well.
2:00: The girls are sleeping well and Mama lets them sleep a bit longer. I think Rebekah has probably talked to my mom, her mom, and a couple of friends on the phone by now. Start a load of laundry. Check email.
2:45: Abigail stirs and is fed. Sydney is still sleeping? Amazing.
3:30: Sydney still asleep--let's let her sleep. Mama decides to try and hold Syndey off until Dad gets home at 5:30.
5:00: Both girls asleep now. Karina Walters arrives with the promise of a scrumptious dinner spread. Thank you Karina and thank you to all who have provided meals and other assistance. I've said it before--raising these kids will take a village. Wait both girls are stirring and are becoming fussy--must be held at this point.
5:30: Dad arrives just in time to feed Sydney. Rebekah feeds Abigail while Karina does her magic in the kitchen. Looks like we will have to hold the girls while we eat tonight.
8:15: Constant activity for the past two hours in caring for the girls. Time to feed them again--can you believe how much these kids need to eat!?!
9:00: As I hold Abigail on the couch and try to pacify--the deluge of partially digested formula erupts from our sweet baby. Change her clothes, clean off, change Dad's clothes, mop up puddles that have formed on the couch and carpet, redress her and comfort. All in a days work.
11:00: Surely you can fill in the blank by now...

Yes, the girls present challenges and are high maintenance right now, but I would not trade it for anything. This is just part of the bonding and quality time that is making us a family. How does that bond work? It's amazing. Note to self: ask for an explanation of the complexities of the parent/child bond when I meet with our Father.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The girls are gaining weight and doing great. No time to write...

Friday, August 19, 2005

We had a doctor's appointment for Sydney this morning at Vanderbilt. It was a follow-up ECHO of her heart--the nurses and doctors in the NICU had heard a faint murmur that they wanted to monitor. The murmur is still there, but today's doctor did not seem to be worried. She did indicate that the murmur was not the more serious PDA (patent ductus arteriosus), which could be a sign of congestive heart problems. We'll have another routine ECHO in 6 months to monitor it; hopefully her little preemie heart will heal itself. We were surprised to find that Sydney now weighs 7 lbs. 12 oz.! We knew that both of the girls were putting on the weight, but we had no idea how much. Both girls did very well during the 5 1/2 hours away from home; Rebekah and I even had time to wolf down some Taco Bell in the Children's Hospital cafeteria...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Rebekah had the girls under their baby einstein activity gym today and Abigail was so interested in getting a different perspective that she turned her body around, as you can see in the picture. The girls have been quite challenging this week, but we are beginning to see their personalities more and they are more interested in their surroundings. Abigail did not want to let Sydney get all of the developmental accolades, so she was plum angry a few days ago and flipped from her back onto her tummy! She was in the crib and waiting on her diaper changing shift--face first into the mattress did not make her any happier, either. The girls are in a fussy stage where they are not happy unless they are held and against a human body. Rebekah is at home alone for many hours during the day, and if both girls are this way at the same time, the craziness sets in. We have days like Monday where both girls did not sleep from 11am to 8pm and spit up their entire bottles twice and days like today where the girls slept a good bit.

Life with the girls is definitely fun and as crazy as it gets, we remind ourselves what a blessing they are to us. I (Rebekah) am beginning to settle into some sort of a daily routine. Taking showers and doing laundry are actually exciting for me and give me a sense of accomplishment when time (and the girls) allows. As some of you may realize, this is the first opportunity I have had to sit and write on our blog. Brad has been encouraging me to write my perspective, but I usually spend the hour between the girls 3 hour feedings doing other necessary tasks. As Brad mentioned, Sydney and Abigail are beginning to be more attentive and occasionally look into our eyes when they are not screaming for their bottle. I am looking forward to being with them as they begin to observe their surroundings and become even more interactive.

Monday, August 15, 2005

A menagerie of pictures from the past week or so...bottom to top 1) Papa Jim takes charge while we indulged at the Casa Fiesta! 2) At the greenway with the Hummer stroller--much needed walk for us parents 3) Greatgrandma and Greatgrandpa Speake feeding the girls 4 & 5) Friends forever; staring into each others eyes--they actually were content for about 90 seconds; just enough time to snap the shot.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Here are some of the latest pictures of Sydney and Abigail--So sorry for the hiatus in coverage--there is little time to take pictures, much less post. Maybe things will be easier in the near future since we have just been "welcomed into the 21st century" with our high speed internet. Yes, we have held on to the $12 a month dial up for long enough...well, I hear hungry babies--gotta go.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I think that we have dreaded this week because of the lack of live-in helpers to help out will the girls, but I believe that we have managed pretty well, so far. The nights have been challenging at times, but work has accepted that I'll be a space cadet for a while. Rebekah is adjusting well to the constant speed of motion around our new life eventhough everyday is a roller coaster ride. These girls are an amazing reponsibility, yes, but just that thought of 'my life is not my life anymore' sinks in and gives my life a new paradigm. The reality is that we cannot just ignore the crying baby/babies in the room anymore and that our new sole purpose in life is to raise these girls in the best way we know how. Wow! That hits like a ton of bricks. On that note: please continue to pray for us, all--peace, strength, perseverance, health, et. al. Thank you.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Update from the 2nd pedi. appointment, today: Dr. Mallard said that our sweet babies are looking very good and was surprised at how much weight they are both packing on! The recommended weight gain for babies at this stage is an ounce per day--Abigail gained 20 ozs. in two weeks and Sydney gained 16 ozs. That puts both girls over 6 lbs.! (Abigail--6 lbs., 7ozs.; Sydney--6 lbs., 1 oz.) They were very well behaved at the doctor, but we were warned that at the next appointment, in one month, the immunizations will be administered. Momma and Daddy need to start getting emotionally prepared...

More firsts this week--Rebekah and Miranda took the girls to the grocery store this week, and today may be the first walk around the block in the superstroller. Sydney had an unexpected first while Momma was bathing her--while on the towel near the sink, Sydney rolled onto her tummy from lying on her back! It is fun to think about what might happen next, and it is great that Rebekah is able to be there with them and experience it all.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

As I reviewed some of the pictures from this past weekend, I found this disturbing image--is that my daughter throwin' out a gang sign? Shame on you, Abigail, for politically expressing yourself and givin' your homeboys props during family pictures. And shame on you Grandma Gin for teaching the girls this vulgar move. At this point, we try to find humor in just about anything! Hahaha

But on a serious note--we received the bills for the girls time in the NICU...and I almost had to cry. The bills totaled more than $125,000 but the "amount you pay" line item stands at $0! Wow--thank you Lord for insurance and Your goodness. This is not to say that we won't receive another separate bill in the future, but at this point, Vanderbilt seems to have absorbed the costs. Thank you, Rebekah, for working at an institution that has such great benefits. To top it off--Rebekah's stay at the hospital was complimentary, as well. Let me tell you, a huge weight has been lifted...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Two weeks at home have absolutely flown by...everyone is doing great except for the typical exhaustion that is expected. Activity around the babies never seems to slow down and this weekend was no exception. Rebekah's dad, grandma, aunt and sister made it down for the weekend and were able to spend some much needed time with Abigail and Sydney. Miranda stayed behind and will be staying with us for the week--and, of course, taking the dreaded night shift. Actually the night shift is not too bad--it is the consecutive nights in a row that really wear on the body and mind. My consecutive nights stand at only two, so far, because of the incredible help that we have received from family--so I don't really know of the true suffering, yet. As previously stated, I apologize for the gap in coverage over the past few days, but without the groundbreaking developments (that will surely come in the future) on a daily basis, it is hard to be motivated to stop and compose amidst the busyness at home and at work. The above pictures are Rebekah's Grandma Gin and Rebekah's parents, Mike and Nadine, with the girls.