Friday, May 19, 2006

Being Held & Stimulation for Babies

Here are some pics of the babies being held (Me and Lexi at top, my friend Sarah and Lexi middle, and Little Lauran (cousin) with Preston

There isn't time to hold the babies enough, but others come and hold the babies frequently. I've been told the babies need to be stimulated when they are awake. Unfortunately, they seem to be awake at night - right when I am trying to eat dinner, watch the Finale of Will and Grace (I missed it last night due to this problem), or yes, trying to SLEEP!!!! How do you deal with 4 crying babies at one time? HMMM. I will get back to you on this one.

Last night I was about at my wits end. I was running around trying to stick pacifiers in mouths, playing music for the babies, feeding some while giving others "stimulation" via educational toys and videos. The crying was nonstop for 2 hours. All 4 were crying at one time, but most of the time it was 1 or 2 cries. I was holding one trying to calm her while another was in the room screaming his head off. I tried to lay them down and they didn't want to sleep. I had to walk away and take a tylenol for the headache that was forming. I called my husband who was in a softball game and asked him to hurry home. I had 3 crying babies who I collected and put on my lap. He collected them from me and we held on tight as we endured another 2 hours of nonstop crying. I think the boys tummies are really hurting from all the iron they are getting (vitamins and formula) because their crying comes in waves even while being held. Oh! and of course they are constipated too!!

The day before, I was trying to get them to fall asleep and my sister-in-law informed me that they are now staying awake longer as they are getting better and need more "stimulation." I tried reading to them. They honestly didn't care much for War and Peace. Just kidding. Actually, I read them Winnie the Pooh. They didn't have ANY interest and couldn't find the colors the book was asking them to locate. I guess they are not prodigies, at least not yet. So, I tried to talk to them. I find that when I talk to the babies, I usually say something meaningless and then repeat it a few times. "Yes, Lexi is a good girl. Yes she is. Yes she is. Do you want to chat? You do? What a good baby you are. Yes you are...." If anyone has some more intellectual conversation ideas they could share or other ideas of how to stimulate the babies' intellectually, Please SHARE!!! I would enjoy hearing your ideas. Don't all post at once now.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My little monkeys

Pictures: (top row: Gabrielle on left and Alexandria on right middle row: Hunter in back and Preston in front bottom pic: Alexandria on left and Preston on right)

My little monkeys are so cute. I have to share some of their latest photos. The babies are growing like weeds. I don't have a weight on Hunter as he doesn't need to go back to the pediatrician until he is 2 months old. However, he must be over 7 lb. His sister Alexandria is 6 lb and 3 oz. Gabrielle is 5 lb and 13 oz and Preston is weighing 4 lb and 10 oz. We feed every 3 to 4 hours and Hunter is now taking 4 oz at a time. Most newborns have 4 oz. It takes a while for premature babies to get up to that. He's leading the pack as a skilled eating machine. The others are learning fast enough!!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mother's Day

I awoke and checked online at the Orlando Sentinel and saw the front page picture/article. The babies looked beautiful. A nice Mother's Day Present. We don't receive the paper in our area, but the photographer will be sending us copies and copies of the prints.

The day was spent changing poopy diapers, feeding the babies, and cleaning the house. My husband worked on cleaning out the garage and setting up the 2nd nursery. One room isn't big enough for 2 cribs, changing tables, chest of drawers, and a rocker. All that work work work on Mother's day.

We took a break to take the babies for a stroll in the afternoon. They are small enough at this point to put them 2 to a seat. It was nice and windy out. We concluded the day by gobbling down food while each holding one fussy baby a piece. We dropped into bed at nearly midnite, but that wasn't the end of the day for us - oh no. You know how it goes - feedings and crying all through the night. Wake up and do it all over again!!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Growing Pains

Photos: Top from right to left are Gabrielle, Preston, and Alexandria awaiting food!!

Photo on left is Hunter and Preston after being fed well. They couldn't be closer.

Over the last week of having all four home, we have been having sleep deprivation x 4. I am finally listening to the advice "sleep when they sleep." I have a host of things to do on my "to do list" which never seem to get done. Checking e-mails, doing updates on the blog, sending out thank-you notes, get pictures copied and sent out, pay bills, organize the babies' rooms, get all the paperwork together for income tax preparation, get all my certifications updated for work, take the dogs to the vet (poor dogs) for their shots and check-up, but how does that all get done when I have 4 babies? I barely manage to clean the house and eat myself. 4 babies crying at the same time!! Can you imagine?

For the most part, I have had help during the day from family members. I had my first opportunity to take care of 4 babies by myself at feeding time a couple of days ago. I did it again yesterday afternoon and then today I am by myself. I had a few visitors who I greeted by plopping the baby in their arms right after they had sanitized their hands. "Here hold this one while I feed the others" I told Aunt Katie. Then my mother and grandmother came by with a few groceries right while a friend from church was visiting, Nancy, and the babies started crying while they were here. I made bottles and told them they weren't getting out of here without feeding a few. I love my babies - don't get me wrong, but they are MORE THAN A HANDFUL.

They are going through their growth spurt, eating more and eating more frequently. Just as I have put all four down after feeding them, at least one is ready to eat again. I told Alexandria today "this isn't an all-day smorgasbord. Eat at the assigned time please." She isn't abiding by the rules. For that matter, none of them are. I don't think time-outs apply to babies, so I guess they get to set the rules right now. They only let me think I am in charge, but we all know the truth.

I hear from my mother and my husband that I favor the boys. "You don't ever seem to put them down." "You are always holding the boys...." I assure them that I don't have a favorite child. The boys just won't let ME alone. They are so fussy. The girls aren't loud enough to get fed first or held longer. I can't count the number of times I have fed them and held them, rubbing their backs, to the point that they are sound asleep and I try to lay them down. Seconds later I hear blood curdling screams. I know if I don't pick them up, all four will be awake. Also, I know that if I don't respond to their cries, they may not form a basic trust. Okay, at least according to Erikson, that's the theory.

Many a night, we have just gotten to sleep and Preston or Hunter will start to cry. My husband or I (depending on who is less sleep deprived at that moment) will get up and hold one counting the seconds till we can climb back into bed because we know that in 3 hours and 27 minutes we have to get up and feed all four. 'Please stop crying and fall asleep Hunter' Okay, make that 3 hours and 1 minute. 'Oh God, what is wrong with him that he won't stop crying' It's now 2 hours and 49 minutes till feeding. 'Oh thank God, he finally fell asleep. Let me put him down and get a little bit of sleep.' I climb into bed and just start to fall asleep when I am again awoken with the cries. I awake with a startle, disoriented to time. Is it feeding time already? It feels like I just fell asleep. I look at the clock. It is only minutes later - not feeding time. I start to cry with him.

Someone recommended that we start a bedtime routine and bathe them right before bed so they will sleep better. I did it with the boys the other night, keeping the girls' bath time in the mornings. We had our first decent intermittent sleep. We only had to get up at feeding time. We didn't do it the next night because baths are only supposed to be every other day. Boy, we paid for it. Bathtime might have to be a nightly ritual.

While they sleep, I run around the house cleaning with a frenzy. I have to get so much done in a short period of time. People say house cleaning isn't as important as spending time with the babies and while they may be right, if you let it go for a while, it mounts up. Before long I have burp rags and empty bottles adorning every square inch of the living room and kitchen. I have a pile of dirty dishes and laundry for days. I don't want to get too overwhelmed, so I do it all day and all night a little at a time. It is neverending. As it is, the house doesn't look like a home anymore. The living room is filled with bouncy seats, activity mats, and swings. Pack n plays are in almost every room of the house.

We have doctors appointments all the time. It's such an ordeal to go somewhere. It isn't like I can just go with them by myself. Even if we had 2 double strollers, one of us couldn't push 2 strollers at the same time, safely anyways. We don't even have a van of our own to take the babies anywhere. For right now, we are borrowing Aunt Nicola's van. She was gracious enough to loan it to us so we could get the kids to doctors etc. We can't afford to buy one yet and it isn't like anyone will be giving us one free, though many people seem shocked by that. It isn't their responsibility to take care of my babies. They didn't have them and we don't expect that any car dealership would do that. My husband works for Alan Jay Automotive Network and Alan Jay Wildstein (the owner) was nice enough to offer us a $2000.00 discount, but even with that, we can't afford one right now.

Financially, it is more than a struggle. I am trying to go back to work and was planning on doing some part-time work for home health, but just as I thought there would be a little money coming in the home, I get my hopes crushed. I am told that I have to come back full-time or not at all in order to keep my insurance. The hospital was very nice to let me have coverage for a couple more months at employee family plan rate, which my parents pay. I was initally quoted over 1200.00 per month for coverage under extended medical leave, which would of made it impossible to keep. Fortunately, administration was kind enough to allow my insurance to continue at a more reasonable rate of 431.00 per month. So, at least for now the kids have insurance coverage.

We are struggling but surviving. I know that I have food for our family and we have a roof over our head. God provides, so I know not to worry. We have always survived and will continue to. Well the babies are starting to cry, so I will have to end here.

May 10th, 2006

We had a VERY busy day today. We got up bright and early to travel to Orlando for a doctor's appointment for all 4 babies. Nana went with us and helped with all the feedings and diaper changes en route and at the doctor's office. They had to have their eyes checked for premature retinal myopathy. All four checked well so far. They will have to go back in 4 wks for another check of their eyes, but as of now the only issues are nearsightedness (which may go away) and astygmatism. Well, Gabby has a blocked tear duct and gets goopy eyed, but that should go away in time. All we need to do is massage her tear ducts.

We got home and had to get ready for a reporter and photographer from the Orlando Sentinel who had an appointment for 3:30 to photograph the babies and I for their Mother's Day edition front page. The house was a mess. The babies were a mess, needing fed, bathed, and dressed. I was a mess too. The troops had to be called in to help out. Nana, Auntie Lauran, Auntie Nicola, and great-grandma all came to help feed, bathe, and change the babies while I ran around the house in hair rollers trying to straighten up. We should have had photographs of that!! I can't wait to see the final pictures. The babies were beautiful, even if their mom still didn't look her best!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

May 7th, 2006

PICS (LEFT TO RIGHT) Ms Joanna, Ms Diane, Auntie Lauran, Auntie Judy, Gabby, Alexandria, Preston, and Hunter

We were up most of the night. Preston has been crying a lot. We assume it must be adjustment issues. I was so exhausted that I didn't want to get up in the morning but my husband insisted we go to church. He had arranged for family to come and watch the babies while we went to church. They are still too little to be exposed to too many people. We have to protect them from germs; their immune systems are not like an adult's.

We went to church and when we pulled in the driveway, I could not believe how many cars there were. You know how irresponsible babysitters can be - inviting all their friends to have a party. HA HA. Well, we came home to find all the babies being held by Auntie Lauran, Auntie Judy and their friends up from MIAMI. Here are the pics they took at their little "party."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

May 6th, 2006

Preston came home today!! Our family is now all together. Preston is up to 3 lb and 15 oz. It's amazing how small he is to be coming home. Hunter weighed 3 lb and 11 oz when he was BORN and now he is coming home just a touch over that weight. Amazing. I am reminded over and over what a blessing it is to have 4 healthy premature babies.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

May 4th, 2006

We were all excited about getting Preston today. Daddy took off of work to go and get him and to help take the other 3 back for them all to have pictures done professionally at the hospital. So, I dressed everyone up after giving them a bath and feeding them. I started to feed them in their car seats while driving to the hospital because it was time to feed them. Drives to Orlando with 3 babies are a huge ordeal. However, when we got half way there, we found out that Preston didn't gain any weight because he wasn't doing his feeds well yesterday. He will have to stay till he gets that down pat. Hopefully he will just be there another 1 or 2 days. Guess we had a dress rehearsal for the real ordeal next time.

May 3rd, 2006 - Doctor's Visit and 1 month old today

Happy 1 month birthday to all of us!!

Today, we had so much fun going to the doctor's office. Nana accompanied us and ended up helping with feedings while we were driving. The main reason for the doctor's appointment was weight checks. Hunter has proven he knows how to eat well! He has gained almost a pound. He now weighs in at 5 pounds and 10 oz. The girls gained 6 and 7 oz. Alexandria weighs 5 lb and 3 oz. Gabrielle now weighs 4 lb and 13 oz. We also found out we have a major diva on our hands. We will have to watch Lexi. While we were there, Alexandria flirted with her pediatrician. She batted her eyes and gave him a big smile. It was so cute. She's so irresistable. Her doctor had to smile back at her. I've been hearing for awhile that it is too soon for the babies to be smiling and what looks like smiles is actually gas. The doc confirmed the babies are definitely smiling. They are right on track developmentally. All 3 are gazing into their mommy's eyes when fed and lifting their heads.

We checked on Preston by phone. The nurse informed us that Preston may get to go home tomorrow. He is on 8 feeds per day now ad lib. If he does well, he will be out of there!!! We are so excited.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Happy Birthday Nana - May 2nd, 2006

Happy birthday nana from your little babies: Alexandria, Gabrielle, and Hunter. Preston will be home in a few days. Yay. We can't wait for our brother. Here is how we celebrated your birthday!! We take after you Nana. Sleeping is our favorite passtime. Ha ha

Monday, May 01, 2006

May 1, 2006

Above and beside are pics of Preston we took on Sunday at the NICCU. He is doing well, taking his 3 bottles per day still. They had to back him off a bit as when he got up to 4 bottles a day, he stopped eating well. He is over 1600 grams at this point. Soon he will be able to go into an open air crib.

It has been pretty hard on me at home. I have had some dizzy spells and feel a lack of energy. Who knew taking care of 3 babies and homemaking would be more exhausting than working a full time job? The last few days have been quite busy. We have been trying to get the babies on a schedule. We had a few problems with the girls eating. They seemed to suck and spit it out, but they have been doing much better. Hunter has been a little pig, eating everything you give him. He is able to take 3 oz now. The girls are getting there, but being dainty and petite, they don't like making pigs of themselves. Ha Ha. Most days I get at least 2 hours of help from family who stops by in the morning to help with feedings and visit the babies. That helps so much because it usually then that I get the most done around the house. It is hard to keep the house as clean as I would like it and keep up with the laundry otherwise.

The babies have "tummy time" everyday to help them gain control of their necks and music too. They seem to respond better when they are being sung to. I am going to try to work in reading to them too, but they don't seem to stay awake long enough for that. I was told today that reading to them 15 minutes a day helps expand their minds. I am not sure if that is true, but it couldn't hurt. They take feedings every 3-4 hours, depending on intake. Hunter goes every four, since he is eating so well. The girls have to be woken up every three to take their bottles. They are only taking 1 oz at times, 2 at others, and occasionally they will take 2 1/2 oz. They will be 1 month old in a few days. They have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday to check to make sure they are growing well. Hope they are getting enough nutrition!!